Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fried Egg Stuffed Bacon Cheeseburger

This meal was inspired by a picture my wife found on Pinterest (click here to see the inspiration photo). Although I have resisted the black-hole-otherwise-known-as-Pinterest, I can't deny the seemingly infinite cooking inspiration that it provides.

The best part...what looks like a regular ole burger treats dinner guests to an "eggceptional" surprise (sorry...couldn't resist) upon reaching the fried-egg burger center.

1 lb Lean Ground Beef or Ground Turkey
5 Strips Bacon
4 Medium Eggs
4 Slices Cheese (I used smoked gouda)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

Cut bacon into small strips and pan fry until crispy. Set aside bacon.  Drain grease and wipe pan. I chose to save a couple of teaspoons worth bacon grease to fry the burgers (I said low-carb...not low-calorie!)  Mix ground meat, Worcestershire, and seasonings.  Form meat into extra large patties.  Using a small biscuit cutter or a knife, carefully cut out the center of the patty for the egg to drop in (you can add all the holed-out centers together to make another patty or just cook them as is and make slider-sized burgers.)  Carefully pick up the holy patty and drop in in the hot pan.  Cook about 30 seconds per side, then crack an egg and carefully drop it in the hole in the middle.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until the burger & egg are cooked to your preference.  If you prefer your yolk cooked harder or softer, you can add the egg earlier or later. Add the bacon strips and cheese on top and serve.  For low carb, serve naked (i.e. bunless), on a low carb tortilla, or as a lettuce wrap.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Low Carb Eggplant Parmesan

I don't like eggplant.  Broccoli and squash can get old. I admit, this purple vegi looks interesting when you see it in the vegetable isle, but looks can be deceiving. I have tried several "mushy" eggplant recipes without success, until I had an epiphany.

"Eggplant Parmesan"!!!!...Aaahhhhhhhhhhhh (That is an epiphany sound, not the beginning of a sneeze)

Eggplant Parmesan happens to be one of my all time favorite Italian recipes and eggplant happens to be the one of the main ingredients.  I figured that this would be an easy recipe to modify into low carb as the only change would be to find a replacement for the breading.  I have used this breading several times, and each time I modify it with precision engineering measurements (aka just throw in different amounts of the main ingredients and experiment as you go).

1 Large Eggplant
Shredded Cheese
Parmesan Cheese

1 Small White Onion
1 Small Green Bell Pepper
12oz Can Diced Tomatoes
4oz Can Tomato Sauce
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Links Italian Sausage
Italian Seasonings or Basil Pesto

Low Carb Breading:
1/3 C Almond Meal
1/4 C Parmesan Cheese
1/8 C Ground Flax Meal
2 Tbsp Coconut Flour
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
2 Eggs

Peel the eggplant. Using the thickest setting on your mandolin slice the eggplant into slices.  If you don't have a mandolin, go buy one, you won't regret it.  You can use a knife, but it is difficult to get thin slices, so be patient.  Beat the eggs in a bowl, and in a separate dish mix the dry ingredients for the breading. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg, lift and let drain a second, then coat with breading.  Shake off excess and place on a roasting rack in a cookie sheet. Bake 15-25 minutes @ 350F or until the breading browns and is fragrant like roasted almonds.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage links in a pan.  Remove and set aside to cool.  Dice the onion, bell pepper, & garlic and saute until softened.  Add the tomatoes, sauce, pesto/seasoning, and a pinch of salt.  Slice the sausage links and add them to the pan.  Simmer until eggplant is ready.

In a casserole dish place a layer of eggplant, top with a layer of sauce, sprinkle with shredded & Parmesan cheeses, then repeat until you are out.  Should make about a 1" thick casserole.  Place in the oven @ 350F and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

Low Carb Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

This recipe definitely satisfied my craving for eggplant parmesan. Surprisingly the breading tastes great, and doesn't get soggy when you bake it in the casserole.  I even had reheated leftovers and the breading held up much better than the regular carb loaded versions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Low Carb Trail Mix

One of the things that can be difficult on a low carb diet is snacks on the go.  My selection of nuts and seeds does resemble a bulk foods section at the grocery store, but I still seem to get tired of just plain nuts.

This isn't really a true recipe since the best mix is going to be a blend of whatever you like the best.  Here is the blend that I tend to like the most:

2C Almonds
1C Peanuts
1C Sunflower Seeds
1C Unsweetened Shaved Coconut
1C Dried Cranberries (No Sugar added)
1/2C Unsweetened Carob Chips

Scoop 1/2C of the mixture into snack bags. Bags are 5-7 Carbs a piece.

1. Hunt around until you can find no sugar added dried cranberries.  I ended up finding the lowest carb content cranberries in the bulk section at a local health food store.
2. Get shaved coconut because the texture works very well with trail mix as opposed to shredded.
3. Use one type salted nuts and the rest unsalted otherwise it will throw off the sweet/salty balance too much.
4. If you are taking the trail mix on a long hike or somewhere where it is going to get hot then consider omitting the carob chips otherwise they will melt in your hands and not your mouth.
5. Pack for a hike, road trip, picnic, movie theater snack, ect....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Low Carb Cheesecake w/Chocolate Ganache

Low Carb Almond Flour Crust:
1 1/2 C Almond Flour
1 Tbsp Whey Protein Powder
3 Tbsp Water
4 tsp Olive Oil

Mix together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix. The dough should not be too dry or too sticky, if so add more water or almond flour as needed.  Press into a greased pie pan with your fingers.  If you need to dip your fingers in ice water to keep the dough from sticking.  Use a fork to press the edges as shown below.

Bake @350°F for 15-20 min.  Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil until the last 5 minutes to keep the edges from burning.  The finished crust should be nicely browned and fragrant of toasted almonds.

16 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 C Sour Cream
1/2 C Yogurt
5 Packets Splenda
1 Tbsp Truvia
3 Eggs
1/3 C Butter - melted
1 Tbsp Vanilla

Whip cream cheese, sour cream, and yogurt in your mixer until smooth.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add butter vanilla, and sweetener and mix until blended smooth.  Pour filling into the pie crust and bake @350°F for 35 to 45 minutes.  The most difficult part was trying to tell when it was done.  I consulted several websites and I am still a bit confused.  I checked my cheesecake after 35 minutes and it was still very wobbly in the center but starting to brown.  After 45 minutes it was still a little wobbly but browned nicely on top so I took it out.  It apparently finished cooking as I let it cool on the counter because it firmed up nicely.  After it coold down a bit, place the cheesecake in the refridgerator for 1-2 hours.  Note, the cheesecake puffs up very high and I was worried that I would end up with a huge mound, but as it cooled it fell back down to perfectly fill the crust and leave just enough room for the ganach topping. 

Mint Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 C Half & Half
1/4 C Yogurt
1 C Unsweetened Carob Chips
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp Peppermint Extract

In a saucepan add half & half and yogurt and heat over low heat to just below a simmer.  Add extract, carob chips and cocoa powder and mix until melted.  Set aside and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Don't let it cool too long or it will get too sticky to spread.  Pull the cheesecake out of the fridge and pour the ganach topping on top.  Place directly back into the fridge and cool for 1-2 hours.

Sorry couldn't wait to take a picture before we cut out a slice and had a taste.  It was amazing.  Made for a terrific birthday suprise for my wife.

This slice had approximately 6-8 net carbs in which the majority are from the carob chips, but it was well worth it.  You could leave out the ganache and play with other low carb toppings to reduce the carb count if desired.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Low Carb Sushi Rolls

My Opa & Mother-in-Law attended a sushi class and taught us to make our own sushi rolls. This inspired us to try to make sushi rolls at home and we figured we could use low carb cauliflower rice to make the rolls fit into our diet.  I know they showed us the correct techniques for making sushi rolls but I had all sorts of difficulty once I tried it for myself with the cauliflower rice. Some of the techniques I discuss below are self discovered by trial and error and are likely to offend someone who is skilled at making sushi, but I don't care because it tasted amazing.

Sushi Nori Paper
Low Carb Cauliflower Sushi Rice
Smoked Salmon, Crab, or Sushi Grade Fish
Carrot slivers
Cream Cheese
Soy Sauce

Cauliflower Sushi Rice:
Do not cook the cauliflower first. Grate the raw cauliflower through a small grater or process with the grater blade on the food processor.  Place in a microwavable bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Nuke for 3 minutes. Mix in 1 Tbsp of rice wine vinegar, 1/2 packet of splenda, & 1/8 tsp xantham gum.

Place one Sushi Nori paper on your cutting board shiny side facing up.  Spoon some "rice" on the paper.

Spread the "rice" into a thin layer covering the bottom 3/4 of the paper.

Add your toppings in the center of the rice. Smoked Salmon...

Alvacado slices....

Carrot slivers....

and some cream cheese.

Start to roll the paper from the bottom by folding it over the toppings.

Use your fingers to tuck the end under and roll as tightly as you can.  Stop about 1" from the end and take a dab of soy sauce on your finger and spread it on the exposed 1" of paper to help glue it together.

Start your first cut about 1" to 1-1/4" from the end. Place your index finger on one end of the cut and use your thumb and middle finger to hold the paper on the other end of the cut.  Use a sharp serrated knife to carefully cut the roll into slices.

Serve with soy sauce & wasabi.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mesquite Grilled Vaquero Fajitas

1 Pkg Beef Skirt Steaks
1 Pkg Chicken Breasts
1 Bottle Italian Dressing
Fajita Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
Minced Garlic
Onion Powder
Juice from 3 Limes
1/4 C Tequila
Sliced Onion
Sliced Bell Pepper

Season the steaks and breasts with salt, pepper, fajita seasoning, and onion powder.  Place them in a bag and add the dressing, garlic, lime juice, and tequila. Place meat in the fridge to marinate at least overnight.  Note, you can marinate then freeze them for later if required.  When ready to cook, light the grill and cook over some hot coals until done.

Heat some oil in a skillet and saute the onions and bell pepper until they are tender.

The chicken can be sliced into strips.  When you slice the steak slice it across the grain (perpendicular to the direction of the grain) and at a diagonal angle (meaning your knife will be at a 45 deg angle from the top of the cutting board).  This will ensure that when you bit into the fajita taco you can easily bit off a tender piece and not end up pulling the entire slice of meat out of the taco.  If you are unsure at how to slice it don't over-think it and instead try a few different directions until you end up with a slice that is very easy to bite off and chew.

For fajita tacos, serve with warm tortillas (low carb), sour cream, grilled onion/bell pepper, guacamole, shredded cheese, and salsa.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Zucchini Spinach Lasagna

1 lb Ground Italian Sausage
1 lb Ground Turkey
1 Jar Marinara Sauce
Italian Seasoning
Minced Garlic
1 Diced Onion
2 Large Zucchini
2 Cups Shredded Cheese
1 Pkg Cream Cheese
1 Bunch Fresh Spinach (or 1 pkg Frozen Spinach)

I was initially inspired to make a low carb lasagna from some of the other blogs that have made some pretty good looking recipes. I found some delicious low carb lasagna recipes, but I still longed for a low carb replacement for the noodles that would provide the lasagna some body and a noodle like texture between the layers.

In a skillet saute the onions and garlic.  Add the sausage and turkey and brown.  Drain any excess grease and add the marinara sauce and Italian seasoning and reduce heat to a slow simmer.

Take the zucchini and slice them lengthwise as thin as you can, or approximately 1/16" thick.  I would highly recommend a mandolin slicer to get nice thin slices, but you can use a sharp knife as long as you have patience and a steady hand.  Don't fret about having perfect slices, as you can easily piece everything together in the dish.  Note, as seen from the photo below I did not have a mandolin slicer for the zucchini and I could probably use a bit more patience but it pieced together fine.

Spray a 9x13" casserole dish with pam.  Line the bottom of the dish with a layer of zucchini slices.

Then top the zucchini with a layer of the sauce, then some spinach, then some dollops of cream cheese as shown below.

Repeat zucchini, sauce, spinach, cream cheese until you run out or the casserole is full, whichever happens first.  The top layer should be a layer of zucchini slices topped with the shredded cheese.  Place in the oven @350degF for 30 to 45 minutes.  The lasagna should be bubbling and the cheese melted.

Note, this was the point in the experiment that I thought I had failed miserably because as I took it out of the oven I noticed that the zucchini slices had put off a significant amount of water.  I was afraid that all was lost and we would end up with a soupy mess.  This however was one of those mistakes that turned out to be good in the end.  I was able to easily drain all the excess water off of the casserole and I was left with a fairly stable lasagna.  I know, I are not supposed to have to drain lasagna, but trust me, it's worth it.

Slice and serve.  Continue to drain any excess water as needed.  Even though the water is a bit of a pain, the taste of the lasagna was amazing.  The zucchini "noodles" added a good flavor and decent body to the lasagna.  A future experiment (maybe pre-cooking) is planned as an attempt to pull some of the water out of the zucchini prior to assembling the lasagna.