Zucchini Noodle Pesto for Two

My spouse bought three medium sized zucchini at the grocery store with which I made this wonderful pesto dish. Meatless! Unlike most pesto dishes, this one I made with no pesto sauce, as you will see below. It was all his idea and turned out perfectly!

Zucchini Noodle ‘Pesto” for Two

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchinis (ends trimmed) unpeeled
  • 2 cups fresh packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 T. cooking oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese+
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for garnishing

Instructions

  1. Use a spiralizer to make strands of zucchini noodles(zoodles). I chose the thinner setting.
  2. Shred the basil leaves by rolling them together like a cigar and slicing across the roll. This is called chiffonading.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan until slightly brown and remove from heat.
  4. Sauté the zucchini noodles in 1 tablespoon of cooking olive oil in a wok or deep frying pan for two minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the fresh basil leaves to the noodles and stir to mix well.
  6. Add pine nuts and cherry tomatoes. Salt and pepper to preference.
  7. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the noodles and serve.
  8. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese. Garnish with more basil leaves.

Greek Salad and Dressing for Two

Tired of the same old green salads? No lettuce in the house? Greek salad is the answer – minus lettuce, which is not even normally found in a true Greek salad.

Start with a freshmade dressing, refrigerated while you chop up the salad ingredientes. This is one of our new favorites, for sure! And it looks beautiful as well.

You won’t find a better Greek salad anywhere…

Greek Salad and Dressing for Two

Ingredients

  • 1 large clove garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Measure all ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake vigorously until well-blended and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

(Alternatively, you may whisk the ingredients together in a bowl, process the ingredients in a mini food processor, or blend them together in a blender.) Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator; allow to come to room temperature and shake well before using.

Greek Salad

  • 1 Roma tomato diced
  • ¼ red onion diced
  • ½ English seedless cucumber large dice
  • ½ red pepper diced
  • ½ cup whole black olives
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Mix all salad ingredients in a bowl. Toss with dressing and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Muffin Tin Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

My spouse’s mother always made him pineapple upside down cake for his birthday when he was young. Waking up early on his birthday, I decided that was what I would make him also. I had previously found a recipe and purchased all of the ingredients. It doesn’t get much easier than this recipe! PS…It would be great for Easter Sunday!!!

Muffin Tin Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Ingredients…

  • 1/4 C Butter
  • 1 C Packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Can (20 Oz) Pineapple slices in juice, drained, reserve juice
  • 1 Jar (6 oz) Maraschino cherries without stems – drained
  • 1 Box Betty Crocker Supermoist yellow cake mix
    • oil and eggs called for on box –

1 – Preheat oven – 350 degrees.  In a 13 x 9 x2 pan, melt butter in oven.  Here is where I made a change – I sprayed the pan first with PAM – just a precaution I wanted to take.  Sprinkle brown sugar over melted butter.  Arrange pineapple slices on brown sugar.  Place cherries in centers and around the slices – press gently into the sugar/butter.

2 – Add enough water to reserved pineapple juice to make 1 cup.  Make cake batter as directed on box, substituting pineapple juice mixture for the water.  Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.

3 – Bake about 40 or so minutes – or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Immediately run a knife around the edges of pan to loosen cake.  I let mine sit in the pan for about 10 minutes then turned it out onto a serving platter leaving the pan on top for an additional 15 to 20 minutes… This lets the brown sugar drizzle over the cake – remove pan.  Cool for about 30 minutes.  Serve warm or cool.  Store covered in the refrigerator.

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers

Normally, when I do sausage and peppers, it is in the oven. Since I had time this week I found a slow cooker/crockpot recipe on Pinterest for this method. Come to find out, I liked it much better without having to use the oven. The texture of the sausage was so very different and the peppers were great. Served this with a little side of steamed broccoli. Perfect dish!

FYI…the sausages I prefer are Obertal Argentinian Chorizos, but that is your choice.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg Italian sausages (5) My preference is Obertal Argentinian Chorizo
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup chunky marinara sauce I substituted a small jar of PACE Medium Salsa
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions

1. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.

2. Sear the Italian sausages 2-3 mins on each side until starting to brown. You aren’t trying to cook them all the way through, you’re just browning the outside a bit which always increases the flavor while slow cooking.

3. Lay the seared Italian sausages in the bottom of a slow cooker/crockpot.

4. Add the uncooked sliced onions and peppers on top of the sausages.

5. Sprinkle the garlic salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning over the top.

6. Spread the marinara sauce or PACE salsa over the onion and pepper mixture.

7. Cook the crock pot sausage and peppers recipe on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours until the peppers are soft and the Italian sausage is cook through. FYI…mine was done at 4 hours on low!

8. The crockpot Italian sausage and peppers are seriously SO delicious as is, but to take it up a notch, take the sausage and peppers out of the slow cooker and spread into a broiler-safe pan and follow the cheese steps in the optional section.

Optional – Add Cheese

1. Sprinkle 1/2 – 3/4 cups of your favorite shredded white cheese, like mozzarella, Monterey Jack, an Italian blend, or Colby Jack would all be great choices.

2. Broil the Italian sausage and peppers mix for 1-2 minutes 4″ from the heat source until the cheese is melted.

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

With a package of frozen meatballs in the freezer, a jar of marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella and rotini pasta in the pantry, this recipe was so easy to throw together. Best part You dont need to precook the pasta!!!

Just make sure those meatballs are thawed before you start the recipe…

Hidden meatballs…

Dump and Bake Meatball Casserole

Total Time 55 minutes         Servings 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked rotini pasta
  • 1 (24 or 25 ounce) jar marinara sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (14 ounce) package fully-cooked miniature (cocktail-size) meatballs (if using frozen meatballs, make sure that they are completely thawed before using)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • Optional: Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped herbs (such as basil, oregano, and parsley for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, stir together uncooked pasta, marinara sauce, water, and meatballs. Season with salt to taste; stir. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.

3. Uncover; stir. At this point you should check the pasta to make sure that it is al dente (firm but just about finished cooking). If it’s still too hard, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is al dente. Then move on to the next step.

4. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes (or until cheese is melted and pasta is tender).

Hungarian Goulash

In 2010, we had a great trip to Europe, where we experienced food in several countries. It was in Budapest where we had a wonderful goulash at Paprika Vendeglo restaurant. We had previously been in Prague where we had tasted Czech goulash. Both of us preferred the former for its wonderful goulash, pictured here – served in a small bowl over an open flame with noodles.

Thankfully for Pinterest, I was able to make a tasty Hungarian Goulash recipe which I attempted this week. It brought back memories, sans the noodles/dumplings.

Hungarian Goulash

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ pound stewing beef trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 cups beef broth or water
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes canned
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ cup carrot diced
  • 3 cups potatoes, diced

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add onion. Cook till translucent. Stir in caraway seeds and paprika and mix well.

2. In a bowl, dredge the stew beef with flour. Add beef to the onion mixture and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Slowly add about ¼ cup of the beef broth to lift the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Then add remaining broth, diced tomatoes (potatoes and carrots if using), salt and pepper.

4. Stir and bring to a boil, cover, then reduce to a simmer for about 1 ½ -2 hours or until tender. Stir

Serve with noodles or dumplings or just plain as I did.

Keto White Chicken Chili

Have leftovers, will whip up something…LOL Have had this recipe for sometime but never made it until this week. It is a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken! Great flavours, too!

Keto White Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 4.5oz can chopped green chiles
  • 1 diced jalapeno (OMIT if you need less heat)
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz cream cheese softened
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

In large pot, season chicken with cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper

Sear both sides over medium heat until golden

Add broth to pot, cover and cook chicken for 15-20 minutes or until fully cooked

While chicken is cooking, melt butter in medium skillet

Add chiles, diced jalapeno, green pepper and onion to skillet and saute until veggies soften

Add minced garlic and sauté additional 30 seconds and turn off heat, set aside

Once chicken is fully cooked, shred with fork and add back into broth

Add sautéed veggies to pot with chicken and broth and simmer for 10 minutes

In medium bowl, soften cream cheese in microwave until you can stir it (~20 sec)

Mix cream cheese with heavy whipping cream

Stirring quickly, add mixture into pot with chicken and veggies

Simmer additional 15 minutes

Serve with favorite toppings such as: pepper jack cheese, avocado slices, cilantro, sour cream

Eggplant and Garbanzos

Happy New Year, wherever in the world you might be this day! Start the year off with this wonderful vegan dish of eggplant and garbanzos (sometimes known as chick peas). I am not a fan of ratatouille, so this came as a surprise from Greece! It seems like a lot of ingredients,but many of them are flavourful spices which really enhance the taste of the dish. Hope you will enjoy it!

Eggplant and Garbanzos Greek Style

1.5 lb eggplant, cut into cubes

Kosher salt

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, diced

1 carrot, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

2 dry bay leaves

1 to 1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika OR smoked paprika

1 tsp organic ground coriander

1 tsp dry oregano

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp organic ground turmeric

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 28-oz can chopped tomato

2 15-oz cans chickpeas, reserve the canning liquid

Fresh herbs such as parsley and mint for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place eggplant cubes in a colander over a large bowl or directly over your sink, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes or so to allow eggplant to “sweat out” any bitterness. Rinse with water and pat dry.

3. In a large braiser, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, peppers, and chopped carrot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, then add garlic, bay leaf, spices, and a dash of salt. Cook another minute, stirring until fragrant.

4. Now add eggplant, chopped tomato, chickpeas, and reserved chickpea liquid. Stir to combine.

5. Bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or so. Stir often. Remove from stove top, cover and transfer to oven.

6. Cook in oven for 45 minutes until eggplant is fully cooked through to very tender. (While eggplant is braising, be sure to check once or twice to see if more liquid is needed. If so, remove from oven briefly and stir in about 1/2 cup of water at a time.)

7. When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and add a generous drizzle of EVOO, garnish with fresh herbs (parsley or mint). Serve hot or at room temperature with a side of Greek yogurt or even Tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

Kielbasa Apple Skillet

Thawed a whole package of kielbasa from Costco so that I could slice some up for a little get together with two friends. Needless to say, I di not use the whole package. What to do, Pinterest? Voila…luckily I had some wonderful Granny Smith apples in the crisper. Alas, no apple butter, but I did have some mango chutney to use in its place. The dish was awesome and easy. Oh yeah…this was not turkey kielbasa…LOL

Kielbasa Apple Skillet

Ingredients

  • 14-16 ounces low-fat turkey kielbasa sausage OR pork
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large Fuji apples, sliced into thin wedges
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil, optional
  • 1/2 cup Musselman’s Apple Butter OR chutney
  • 2 tablespoons Musselman’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat a large skillet to medium heat. Add the butter or oil. (If using a good nonstick skillet, no butter is needed.) Slice the onion and apples. Then cut the kielbasa into 1/2 inch rounds. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stems and roughly chop.

Once the skillet is hot, sear the kielbasa pieces for 2-4 minutes, until brown on both sides. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Next add the onions to the skillet. Sear for 2 minutes to soften, then add the apples and rosemary. Allow the apples and onions the cook until soft and brown, but not mushy. Stir gently as to not smash the apples, about 5-7 minutes. Salt and pepper liberally.

Add the sausage back to the skillet, along with the Musselman’s Apple Butter, apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer and stir to thicken the sauce for 2-3 minutes. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. Serve warm.

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!