Keto Charcuterie Board

My apologies for the late posting, but the holiday season has begun and we had two guests for dinner on Sunday. This got me to thinking about holiday parties and how to cope if you are on Keto and want to host a small party (depending on your local restrictions during COVID 19).

This year in lieu of a larger party which usually sees us having 40 plus guests, we have had to make significant changes in how we entertain. In our region, we can have 6 people together and for the next four December weekends, we will be entertaining four other people beside ourselves each Saturday.

The easiest way to handle this is to avoid cooking!

Charcuterie is a way of entertaining in France which involves presenting a variety of cold meats and cheeses, along with some fresh fruits and nuts and a selection of breads and crackers. Keeping in mind KETO, a charcuterie can easily be assembled on a lovely wooden cutting board or two or just spread out on a layer of butcher block paper on a convenient hard surface, along with paper plates, napkins, etc. Make it finger foods by cutting up your items in bite sized portions in advance. BYOB means you don’t have to supply alcoholic drinks!

The trick is to choose KETO items ONLY , especially with the breads and crackers!!!

FYI… no two are ever alike! It all depends on what items you wish to choose. Vary the amounts depending on the number of guests you are contemplating. Whatever you choose be sure to carefully check the contents label for the total percentages of carbs, protein and fats !!!

A charcuterie can easily be modified for those who are not on a Keto program, by including non-KETO items.

The following is a suggested Keto board I came across on Pinterest. There are many more to view on that site.

INGREDIENTS for 5 servings…

  • 6 ounces sliced prosciutto
  • 6 ounces genoa salami
  • 5 ounces spicy capocollo
  • 4 ounces herbed chevre
  • 6-ounce sliced Manchego cheese
  • 5 ounces sliced peppercorn white cheddar
  • 4 ounces garlic white cheddar
  • ¼ cup Sugar-Free Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts
  • ½ cup fresh blackberries
  • 10 strawberries hulled and halved
  • 5 pepperoncini
  • ½ cup pickled artichoke hearts
  • 10 garlic stuffed green olives
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • ¼ roasted red peppers
  • ½ cup Low Carb Pickled Red Onion
  • 20 pickled asparagus spears
  • ¼ cup stone ground mustard
  • 1 sleeve low carb crackers

INSTRUCTIONS

Select a large platter from the list of options in this post and carefully arrange all of the ingredients on top.

Happy Holidays!

Holiday Recipes

With both American Thanksgiving and Christmas forthcoming, I am noting a few previously posted recipes which newer viewers may not have seen. Amongst these – what to do with leftover turkey? (Turkey Divan), an awesome Cranberry Chutney for either holiday, old-fashioned Hasty Pudding, a Christmas Morning Wife Saver which can be prepared the night before, as well as a few scrumptious cookies, like Biscotti with Ginger, Cranberry, Orange and Cashews for that after dinner coffee, Brandied Fruit and Nut Shortbread, and Cranberry Pistachio Salted Caramel Bars. Simply enter the names in the GO box to find them. Some might even be great for New Years.

Please observe social distancing and limit your dinners to local recommendations. Wear masks in public at all times! There will always be a next year if we observe the prescribed recommendations…

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

By now you know me well; I am always searching Pinterest for new recipes to try. In this case, it was to do with pork chops which I had already thawed. This one caught my eye as we both love capers. And no, they are NOT fish! They are berries from a bush. It turned out great or else I would not share it with you. I quickly steamed some cauliflower to accompany the chops. The flavour was really good. You could omit the capers but it really adds to the flavour.

Pork Chops with Caper Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1-inch thick center-cup, bone-in pork loin chops (allow chops to sit at room temp for 30 mins)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained
  • 2 tbsp Sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 200°F.

Pat chops dry with a paper towel, and then generously sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

Add the chops and sear on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown on the bottoms.  Flip the chops over and sear the other sides for another 4 to 5 minutes. (The chops should be firm to the touch, but still have a little give).

Transfer the chops to the oven to keep warm while preparing the sauce.

Pour all but about 1 teaspoon of oil from pan and reduce the heat to medium.

Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the capers and cook for 30 seconds

Add the vinegar and cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

Add the stock, mustard, a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 – 3 minutes.

Stir in the cream.

Make Ahead Breakfast Scrambled Eggs

Hope it is not to late for you to get these ready? The recipe makes about 4 breakfasts. Simply portion the ingredients into 4 small jars, refrigerate overnight. Come morning, dump the ingredients into a mug, add two slightly scrambled eggs, stir and microwave according to the directions!

*6 ounce jar pictured, prior to refrigeration

Make Ahead Breakfast Scrambles

  • 2 oz. ham, diced (I used a strip of bacon per jar).
  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
  • 8 large eggs

1. Divide the ham, bell pepper, onion, and cheddar between four resealable containers*. Cut the butter into 4, 1/2 teaspoon-sized pieces, and add one to each container. Sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt into each container.

2. Seal the containers and store them for up to 4-5 days.

3. When you’re ready to prepare a microwave breakfast scramble, pour the ingredients of the container into a ceramic mug, add two large eggs, and stir to combine.

4. Loosely cover the mug with a paper towel or another microwave-safe object and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Stir the contents of the mug and microwave for 15 seconds more. Stir again and continue to microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring after each, until the eggs are mostly set, but still moist. Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving | Calories: 267.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.68g | Protein: 18.25g | Fat: 19.5g |Sodium: 609.48mg | Fiber: 0.5g

Shrimp Stir Fry

I am always looking for new stir fry sauce recipes and I came across this one on my favourite sites, Pinterest. I almost always use peeled and deveined shrimp to simplify cooking prep and this suited what I had on hand. Since we began a KETO diet years ago for the most part, we avoid rice and pastas, with some exceptions. You do not need to have rice with this, and thus, it becomes a shrimp “stew”…LOL. We always have a stir fry blend of vegetables on hand in the freezer, so you can substitute these with the frozen vegetables.

Shrimp Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 1 lb large shrimp (I usually buy peeled and deveined)
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 8 oz baby Bella mushrooms or other variety
  • 8 oz snow peas
  • 1/2 cup diced green onion
  • 2 bell peppers

Stir Fry Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth can also use vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp chili paste more if you want spicier
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

Peel and de-vein shrimp if needed. Whisk all ingredients for the sauce together and set aside. Chop vegetables and set aside.

Preheat a large cooking pan or a wok over medium heat and add peanut oil.

Sauté vegetables, mixing often, until start to soften. Don’t cook vegetables all the way because it will continue to cook after you take it out of the pan and later with sauce.

Take veggies out of the pan and add a little more oil to the pan.

Sauté shrimp over medium-high heat until just turns opaque on each side.

Add vegetables back into the pan and stir.

Whisk the sauce again and pour it into the pan. Stir well and cook for a few minutes, just until sauce thickens.

Stir in green onions and serve right away.

You can serve shrimp stir fry over rice, with noodles, or just on its own.

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Some days I just want to be able to throw something together for dinner quickly. Pasta is usually the answer! In this case, I just happened to buy some smoked salmon at Costco to use in salad and I still had some left.

Voila ! Smoked Salmon Carbonara. Bonus – no creams, just fresh eggs and Parmesan for the sauce. Read the recipe carefully, as you don’t want to overcook the eggs and Parmesan. The pasta MUST be a little cool to avoid scrambling the eggs!!! It looked and tasted great. You can skip the capers if it’s not something you like.

NOTE – Capers are immature flower buds from the Capparis spinosa (aka the “caper bush”), which grow all over the Mediterranean, just like olives do. Caper buds are picked before they can bloom into flowers. They are not a fish as some people mistakenly assume, but can be a little salty. Great on pizza, too.

Smoked Salmon Carbonara

Ingredients

  • 14.1 oz (400g) linguine pasta, or similar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 5.2 oz (150g) smoked salmon, sliced thinly
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. of capers (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the linguine or long pasta shape of your choice. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions until al dente.

2. Meanwhile, cut the smoked salmon into thin strips and finely chop some fresh parsley (this is optional).

3. Next, add the eggs to a bowl and whisk together, add the grated parmesan and a good pinch of salt and pepper, stir to combine.

4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the pot you cooked it in. Sprinkle over the strips of salmon then add the whisked eggs and parmesan mixture, immediately stir the pasta to coat it evenly in egg and to distribute the salmon throughout the pasta evenly.

5. Tip: wait exactly 1 minute before pouring over the egg mixture. If the pasta is too hot the eggs will scramble but if it’s too cool the eggs will remain raw.

6. The pasta should be creamy and evenly coated in sauce. Divide the smoked salmon pasta between bowls and top with a scattering of chopped parsley and an extra grinding of pepper, serve.

Add capers.

Notes

I’ve seen and made many pasta carbonara recipes in my time and I find that using 1 egg less as many servings works best. Does that make sense? For four servings I use 400g/14oz of pasta (100g per portion) and 3 eggs.

Quick and Easy Mexican Red Pozole

In January 2017, I posted a similar recipe for this popular Mexican dish made with hominy – essentially a specially dried corn. While we thoroughly enjoyed that recipe, I did find it time consuming. If you are fortunate to have a grocery store which carries Mexican products you can find this on the shelves in a can, as I was fortunate to locate.

La Costena Pozole Rojo

Sometimes one just wants to put a hot meal on the table with a minimum of preparation! Since we had a Costco leftover rotisserie chicken available, this was quick! Shred the chicken. Heat the pozole in a large saucepan over medium heat with the chicken added in.

While it is heating, slice up an avocado, set out some sour cream, slice two or three radishes, chop up a bit of cilantro, some shreds of cabbage if you have some?

When the pozole is thoroughly heated, pour into large soup bowls and garnish with the sour cream, radishes, cilantro and avocado. You can add a few tortilla strips if you have them for some added crunch.

Quick and Easy Mexican Red Pozole

Ingredients

  • 1 large can La Costena pozole rojo
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken or pork or turkey
  • 2 or three radishes sliced
  • Cilantro chopped
  • Sour cream
  • 1 avocado diced
  • Tortilla strips
  • Shredded cabbage (optional)

Chicken and Spinach in Creamy Paprika Sauce

Hope you will love this recipe as much as we did! Our spinach was not looking good, so I needed to cook it up! Pinterest to the rescue AGAIN! Fortuitously, we had purchased some smoked paprika when we were in Budapest years back and I had never used it. Since I only had chicken breasts I used them and it turned out fine. as you can see below. I cooked up some wonderful Parmesan and garlic green beans with pine nuts to accompany the dish.

Chicken and Spinach in Creamy Paprika Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Breasts (boneless & skinless)
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika (for seasoning chicken)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt and Pepper (each for seasoning chicken)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Creamy Paprika Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (sodium free)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (juice of squeezed lemon)
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp paprika

1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika, rubbing it evenly over both sides.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet (I used cast iron skillet) over medium high heat and cook on the first side for about 3 minutes. Flip, and turn the heat down to medium and cook for another three minutes. Remove and set chicken aside on separate plate.

Making Creamy Sauce:

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the now empty skillet. Add garlic and cook stirring frequently about 2 minutes. Add flour using a sifter until well mixed. Add wine next and cook for 1-2 minutes to allow alcohol to evaporate.

 Stir in chicken broth, heavy cream and lemon juice. Add salt and paprika. Mix well. Simmer for 2 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning (if necessary) at this point.

Spinach:

Add in the spinach and cook for additional 2 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Return the chicken to the skillet and cook covered for 2-3 minutes if your chicken breasts are thin; or for 5-7 minutes, if they are thick.

Serve immediately.

German Style Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

This fast approaching traditional Oktoberfest in many German communities, I searched Pinterest for a great Oktoberfest recipe to go with great German beer. Usually I just fry up some kielbasa, throw in the sauerkraut and red wine vinegar and serve. I needed to up my game. This recipe fits the bill! Sorry, no pics as we ate it all up! Indeed, it turned out perfect. (Too bad we dont usually drink beer…LOL)

German Style Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

Ingredients

  • 1-pound Kielbasa, Sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil
  • 1 whole Large Onion, Chopped
  • 1 whole Large Apple, Cored and Diced
  • 1-quart Sauerkraut, Rinsed and Drained
  • 1 cup Apple Juice
  • ½ cups Brown Sugar OPTIONAL (as the juice adds enough sweetness for us)

Preparation

Brown kielbasa in oil in Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add chopped onion and sauté until onion is translucent.

Add apples and sauté for a minute until they start to soften.

Add rinsed and drained sauerkraut, apple juice and brown sugar, stir to combine.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Butternut Squash Coconut Curry

Imagine my surprise at finding more butternut squash at our Favourite supermarket, Superama, here in Mexico. It is highly unusual, so much so that I bought all seven of them! They were hidden among the pumpkins which had just arrived. Those of you who live in northern climates will easily find these everywhere this time of year. Pinterest to the rescue with this recipe…

Butternut Squash Coconut Curry

Ingredients

  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled, deseed and diced
  • 1-2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, or 1 vegetable bouillon plus 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium-high. Add onion, garlic and ginger.

2. Cook until onion is soft, about 3 minutes.

3. Stir in curry powder, paprika and thyme. Cook for 1 minute.

4. Stir in squash, coconut milk, vegetable broth.

5. Bring to boil, Cover and reduce to a simmer on low heat.

6. Cook for 15 minutes until squash cubes are tender but not mushy

7. Stir in pepper, salt and cilantro.

Delicious served with rice.