Chicken Bacon Ranch Meatballs

chickbaconranchmb2

Ground chicken breast is one of my favorite ways to build a base for a #Keto meal!  It’s so versatile, mixes well with most of my favorite ingredients, and is easy to meal prep for the week ahead, that it’s become my go-to for creating new #KetoRecipes.  This recipe for #ChickenBaconRanchMeatballs is fun because you can eat them all alone or pop them on a skewer between a piece of lettuce and 1/2 a plum or cherry tomato and drizzle with some ranch dressing for a fun lunch, light dinner, or appetizer.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Chicken Bacon Ranch Meatballs

  • 2 Pounds Ground Chicken Breast
  • 4 Pieces Thick Cut Bacon
  • 3 Pieces Thick Cut Peppered Bacon
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 4 TBLS Ranch Dressing
  • 1/2 Cup Panko
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • Lettuce or Arugula (if desired)
  • Cherry or Plum Tomatoes (if desired)
  • More Ranch for drizzling

Spray 2 mini muffin pans (24 holes) lightly with olive oil spray or prepare 2 cookies sheets by lining with foil and spraying the foil lightly with the olive oil spray, then set aside.  Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cut the bacon into 1/4″ to 1/2″ chunks and cook in a skillet over medium heat until browned.  Remove bacon to paper towels to cool.  Remove the bacon grease from the pan and quickly wilt the spinach in the same pan.  Put the cooled bacon and spinach into your chopper or vitamix mini cup and pulse until bacon is chopped into small bits & spinach is roughly chopped.

Using your hands (I wear disposable gloves), combine the ground chicken breast, bacon, spinach, egg, 4 TBLS of Ranch Dressing, and Panko in a medium bowl until well mixed.  Form the mixture into about 40 2″ balls and pot into either the mini muffin pan or space out on the baking sheets.  Lightly spray the tops of the meatballs with the olive oil spray.

Bake in 350° F oven for 18 – 22 minutes, or until the meatballs register 165° F on your meat thermometer.

Remove the balls from the pans and lay on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess olive oil spray.  Serve with ranch dressing on a bed of lettuce and plum or red tomatoes or thread lettuce, meatball and tomato on a small skewer then drizzle with ranch dressing.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

What’s the White Stuff on Cooked Salmon?

The white stuff on salmon is called albumin. Albumin is a protein that exists in the fish in liquid form when it’s raw that coagulates and becomes semi-solid when you subject the salmon to heat when cooking. As the meat cooks, the coagulated albumin gets squeezed out and becomes a white coating.
The more aggressively you cook your salmon the more albumin will appear on its surface.

Think of what happens when you wring out a wet towel. The water inside the fibers of the cloth is pushed out as you squeeze the fibers closer together. The same principle applies to salmon. As salmon cooks, the flesh contracts, pushing out albumin to the fillet’s surface. The higher the heat, the more quickly the flesh contracts, and the more albumin becomes visible.

To have as little albumin as possible visible on your finished dish, follow these guidelines:

  • Cook your salmon at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time. It’s gentler on the fillet, resulting in a super-tender piece of fish with less nasty white stuff.
  • If you are searing salmon (and fish in general), always do so with the skin side down. The skin acts as a protective barrier between the fish and the hot metal pan. **TIP: Even if you plan on taking the skin off, cook your fish skin-side down for 90% of the way, turn off the heat, and then flip the fish so the skinless side cooks on the pan’s residual heat.
  • Don’t overcook your salmon. You want it medium to medium-rare in the center, still a bit translucent. Overcooking salmon is the easiest way to get albumin everywhere. **TIP: When you can push on the top of your salmon with a fork, and the the layers of flesh separate easily and seem moist, your fish is finished cooking.

Thanks to my friends at Epicurious for the cooking tips! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Low Carb Fruits & Veggies

#ThisGirlLovesToEat

Spinach Stuffed Chicken

thighsWhen I’m prepping for meals there is nothing that brings me more inspiration than chicken thighs.  There are so many ways to dress them up and keep them from being boring and they don’t take forever to cook!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Thighs

  • 6 Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Thighs (about 8 oz each)
  • 3 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 375° F and spray the bottom of a 13 x 9 Pyrex Baking Dish with Olive Oil Spray.  Mix together your spices in a small bowl.

Toss Spinach with 1 TBLS Olive Oil and 2 tsp of your dried spice mix in a medium bowl.

Sprinkle each thigh with some of the spice mix and massage into both top and bottom.  Leave about 1 tsp of spice mix to sprinkle over tops at the end.

Gently lift the skin away from the meat and make a pocket for the spinach leaves.  Stuff each thigh with the spinach leaves until equally distributed.

Place the thighs in the baking dish and spray tops lightly with olive oil spray.  Sprinkle remaining tsp spice mix over thighs and put into preheated oven.  Bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes divide the Parmesan cheese evenly between the breasts and put back into the oven until cheese is melted and begins to brown, about 15 minutes more.

Nutrition Information (Serving Size 1 Thigh)

  • 306 Calories
  • 22 g Fat
  • 1 g Carbs
  • 24 g Protein

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

1My favorite thing about chicken is the many different ways it can be served and the many different flavors that can be combined with it to keep it from being boring when you eat a lot of it, like I do.

This dish is perfect for anyone who follows the Keto or Paleo diet, you make it in your air fryer and it’s super quick & easy!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Cilantro Lime Chicken Thighs

  • 6 Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Thighs (About 1+1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 4 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 2 Medium Limes (Cut 1 in 1/2 & 1 in qtrs)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
  • Olive Oil Spray

Pat your chicken thighs as dry as possible with paper towels, then sprinkle all over with the baking powder.

Mix together your spices in a small bowl.  Sprinkle your spice mixture evenly between your chicken thighs.  Make sure to gently lift the skin away from the meat (without removing entirely) and massage some spices into the meat below the skin as well as into the skin.  Put a few leaves of cilantro beneath the skin if desired.

Cut one of your limes in half and squeeze the juice over the thighs.  Lightly spray the basket of your air fryer with olive oil spray then place the thighs, skin side up, in the basket. Give the skin side of your thighs a light spray with your olive oil spray, set your temperature to 380° F, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.  Turn the thighs over 1/2 way through your cooking time to assure even browning.

When thighs reach 165° to 180° F remove them and serve with wedges of lime & sprinkled with the fresh cilantro.

Nutrition Information:

  • 435 Calories
  • 29 g Fat
  • .5 g Carbs
  • 32 g Protein

Protein Packed Meatballs

proteinpackedmeatballs

I am guilty of not getting enough protein in my diet and need to take every chance I can to pack extra grams in where I can.  These #KetoFriendly meatballs can be served as an appetizer, between meal snack, light lunch main with a salad or vegetables, or even added to a sauce with zoodles for a perfect #KetoMeal.  Of course, if you aren’t Keto, feel free to add them to any rice, potato, or pasta dish you choose!

Protein Packed Meatballs

Combine everything except the ground beef in the container for your blender, food processor, or Vitamix.  Set your speed to the lowest, or start with a pulse, to begin chopping your spinach up.  Once the spinach is broken down, turn the speed up to medium to make sure your ingredients are combined but not liquified.  It should only take about 15 – 20 seconds.

Put your ground beef into a medium mixing bowl and pour/scrape the blender contents on top.  I put on rubber gloves at this point and use my hands to mix everything thoroughly.

Give the bottom of the basket of your air fryer a very light, quick spritz with olive oil spray.  Roll balls with about 1 TBLS of the meat mixture (doesn’t have to be exact) and set them into your air fryer basket.  Leave a bit of space between them, you want the air to circulate around them so they cook evenly.

When you’ve filled your basket with 12-15 about 1″ meatballs (that’s how many fit in my Dash Deluxe 6 Qt Air Fryer basket), set your timer for 9 minutes at 375° F.

Shake your basket at about 6 minutes to make sure the bottoms release and get browned.  When they’re lightly browned all over, remove them from the basket and cook the rest of the meatballs.  You should end up with about 30.

If desired, serve with your favorite low-carb / sugar free marinara sauce.  Some good ones are Rao’s, Newman’s Own and Yo Mama’s.  You can see all of them (and their nutrition information) at this link#ThisGirlLovesToEat

Nutrition Information (Serving Size 5 Meatballs)

  • 231 Calories
  • 15 g Fat
  • <1 g Carbs
  • 18 g Protein

 

Broiled Flat Iron Steak

broiledflatironsteakWhen I’m meal prepping, I like to multi-task.  Often I have something in the air fryer, the pressure cooker, in the oven, and even in the broiler simultaneously.  It’s easy to do that when you pre-plan your meals and know your timeline.

I love this marinade for flat iron steak (or any cut of beef) because it allows me to do other dishes while the meat sits in the bag to absorb all of the flavors for four hours.  If you marinate the steak while you’re at work during the day, you’ll be ready to have a great meal on the table for your family in under 30 minutes.  Steam a package of vegetables in the microwave and it’s a simple clean up as well!

Broiled Flat Iron Steak

  • 2 Pounds Flat Iron Steak
  • 2/3 Cup Red Wine (I used full-bodied Westerly Merlot)
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves Crushed Garlic
  • Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a gallon sized zip bag then add the raw steak to the bag.  Push out as much air as you can then zip the bag closed.  Place the bag in the refrigerator and allow the meat to marinate for 4-6 hours.

Set the oven temperature to broil.

Line a broiler pan with foil and top with either the broiler pan top or a roasting rack if one fits on top of your pan.  My oven is a Kitchen Aid and didn’t come with a broiler pan.  There was an option to order one by mail or $49 + Tax and shipping.  I searched the part number on Amazon and found it (with the included roasting rack) for $34.51 + free shipping!  I use it all the time!

When oven has reached it’s temperature, place the pan under the broiler and cook for 6-8 minutes per side.  If you have a nice thick piece of steak you should get a medium end result.  Adjust your time up or down to fit your desired degree of doneness.

For most tender result, slice diagonally across the grain.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Nutrition Information (8 – four ounce servings)

  • 331 Calories
  • 26 g Fat
  • 3 g Carbs
  • 21 g Protein