Pepper-Jelly Cream Cheese Chicken

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When I am in a snacking mood, I adore spreading hot pepper jelly on crackers topped with cream cheese.  I don’t get to indulge in that guilty pleasure very often on my #KetoDietPlan, but I had a couple of tablespoons left in a jar of my favorite cranberry, pomegranate, pepper jelly and wondered why I couldn’t use the same combination with chicken, and still stay in my Keto guidelines, so I did.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Chicken

  • 4 Skin-on, Bone-in Chicken Thighs (about 8 oz each)
  • 4 TBLS Cream Cheese (softened)
  • 3 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg (divided)
  • 2 TBLS Pepper Jelly (Any Flavor)
  • Olive Oil Spray

Preheat oven to 375° F and spray the bottom of an 8 x 8 Pyrex baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.

Using your hands (I wear disposable gloves) combine the  softened cream cheese, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and the spinach leaves in a medium bowl.

Place the thighs in your backing dish and gently lift the skin away from the meat to form a pocket sos you can divide the spinach mixture and fill each thigh with it.  Once you’ve filled each thigh pocket (A.K.A. Saddlebag LOL) spray the skin lightly with olive oil spray then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp of nutmeg & spoon 1/2 tbls of the jelly on top of each thigh.

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Bake for 40 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 165° – 180° F.  The higher the temperature the more the muscle fiber breaks down and the more tender your meat will be.

Nutrition Information (Serving Size 1 Thigh)

  • 280 Calories
  • 19 g Fat
  • 7 g Carbs
  • 21 g Protein

 

Buttermilk Air Fried Chicken

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Yesterday was #NationalFriedChickenDay so, because I adore southern fried chicken, I tried to make it #KetoFriendly without losing texture or taste.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Buttermilk Air Fried Chicken

  • 1 pkg (4 – 5 lbs) 5 Chicken Leg & Thigh Quarters (or your favorite cut)
  • 3 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper
  • 3 tsp Salt
  • 3 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Poultry Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 4 Cups Buttermilk

Combine all of your spices in a bowl and stir until well mixed.

Place your chicken into a bowl large enough to hold your chicken pieces, with room for the liquid.  Wearing disposable gloves, rub each piece of chicken generously with the spice mixture.  Moving the pieces around in the bowl as you go, pour your buttermilk over and around the chicken.  Make sure you are moving the pieces around so the spices that come off the chicken mix into the buttermilk.  Once all pieces are covered, and remain submerged, in the buttermilk, cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 but preferably 6 hours or more.  Ideally, if you can, marinate it overnight or all day while you are at work.

When you are ready to fry your chicken stir together your dredging mixture with a fork in a shallow baking pan.  TIP: I like to put my dredge mixture together at least an hour ahead of frying, if I have the time, so that my spices have extra time for their flavors to absorb into the flours.

  • 2 Cups Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour
  • 1 Cup Superfine Almond Flour
  • 1 TBLS Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder

When you’re ready to cook follow these steps for juicy fried chicken without the grease, extra fat and mess that you get when you fry in peanut or vegetable oil.

  1.  Lightly spray the basket of our air fryer with olive oil spray to keep your skin from sticking
  2. Take one piece of chicken out of the buttermilk marinade and hold it over the bowl until it stops dripping (you don’t want to drop a sopping wet quarter into the dredge mixture)
  3. Lay your chicken quarter in the pan of dredge mixture and spoon the mixture over the chicken.  Lift the chicken up by the drumstick end and lightly shake to release any extra mixture.  You want a thin coating so it crisps up perfectly and isn’t soggy between the coating and the chicken.
  4. Lay your chicken quarter in the basket of your air fryer skin side up.  Repeat with as many pieces of chicken as will fit in your basket but don’t crowd the pieces.  You want the air to flow around the pieces so they all cook evenly.  My quarters were large, so I cooked 3 at a time.
  5. Set your air fryer to 375° F and set your timer according to what pieces you are cooking (except where noted, all assume your chicken has bones/skin):  Leg Quarters 25 – 30 Minutes – Cook to 165° F to 180° F in the thickest part of the thigh.  Time will be solely based on the size/thickness of your pieces.  Cooking to a higher temp breaks down the fibers of the tougher thigh meat and gives you a more tender result.  Breasts: 22 to 25 Minutes – Cook to 165° F in the thickest part of the breast.  Boneless Chicken Tenders:  12-16 Minutes – Cook to 165° F in the thickest part.
  6. Using tongs, turn your chicken pieces over 15 minutes into cooking so that your chicken gets evenly browned.  Turn tenders over 1/2 way through your cooking time.
  7. When your chicken has reached the desired temperature, remove from the air fryer, set on a cooling rack (or your plate if your serving right away) and repeat the steps with your remaining chicken.

Nutrition Information & Comparison to Traditionally Fried Chicken (1 Leg/Thigh Quarter)

  • Air Fried:  290 Calories     Deep Fried: 1262 Calories (972 Less)
  • Air Fried:  5 g Fat     Deep Fried:  85 g Fat (80 g Less)
  • Air Fried:  7 g Carbs     Deep Fried: 56 g Carbs (49 g Less)
  • Air Fried:  23 g Protein     Deep Fried: 66 g Protein (43 g Less)

What you give up in apples to apples crispiness, you more than make up in the health benefits of converting this to a Keto Air Fried recipe!

Quick & Tasty Breakfast Sandwich

eggswservedOn days like today, when I can have a breakfast that isn’t on the run, I love making a fried egg sandwich.  That I can choose between using olive oil spray and butter, depending on my fat needs for the day, to make it #KetoPerfect, makes me even happier!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Quick & Tasty Keto Breakfast Sandwich

  • 2 Slices Sola Sweet Oat Bread
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Slice Cheese ( I used Colby Jack)
  • EITHER 1 TBLS Butter (divided) OR Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Heat your pan over a medium flame/setting.  Either spray with a shot of olive oil spray or drop about 1/4 of your butter into the center of the pan.  Crack your egg into a cup or ramekin so you can control the size of your egg in the pan.

Put your bread in the toaster and toast to desired degree of doneness.

eggUsing a spoon to control flow, add most of your egg white to the pan until and let it cook until a solid base starts to form (about 30 seconds).  Then, using your spoon to make sure you keep your yolk centered, add the rest of your egg on top of the set white in the pan.  Cook about 2 minutes and gently turn your egg.  Place your slice of cheese on top of the egg.  Cook another 30 – 45 seconds for a perfect Over-Medium.

Either spread your remaining butter between your slices of toasted bread or give each piece a quick spritz of olive oil cooking spray.  Slide or gently move your egg with a spatula, out of the pan and onto your toast.

openfaceIf desired you can add warmed ham, bacon, or Canadian bacon if you have some pre-made.

Nutrition Information (Serves 1)

  • 290 Calories (made w/olive oil spray)     392 Calories (made w/butter)
  • 20 g Fat (made w/olive oil spray)     31.52 g Fat (made w/butter)
  • 6 g Carbs
  • 21 g Protein

Keto Friendly Anytime Smoothie

AnytimeSmoothieDeciding how you spend your carb allowance, when you are following a #KetoLifestyle, presents you with many options, depending on what stage of Keto you are at.  When you are in your induction and weight loss phase, smoothies are generally not the way to spend your day’s allotted carbohydrates, but this one tops out at 9 Net Carbs so it can be included from day 1.  This light and frothy smoothie a great #PickMeUp for that late afternoon slump plus it gives you a big protein, vitamin and fiber boost without piling on the calories.

Once you’ve hit maintenance phase smoothies packed with a higher berry to spinach ratio are a great way to get your fruits and veggies in with relatively little impact on your carb count.

Keto Friendly Anytime Smoothie

  • 1 Cup Cold Water
  • 1 Cup Halved Strawberries
  • 2 Cups (packed) Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 1 Scoop No Carb Protein Powder (I use Isopure Zero Carb Creamy Vanilla)
  • 1 Cup Ice Cubes

Starting with your water, put all of your ingredients, except your ice, into your blender or Vitamix.  If you have a smoothie setting, like I do on my Vitamix, include the ice, switch to that mode and hit start.  Your Vitamix will stop when it’s ready.  Otherwise, start on a low setting until ingredients are combined then turn your machine up to medium high and blend until smooth.  Without turning your machine off, Open your ingredient addition port (hole in top of blender lid) and add in the ice until desired consistency.

Nutrition Information (Serves 1)

  • 162 Calories
  • 0 g Fat
  • 8 g Carbohydrates
  • 28 g Protein

Cheesy Keto Cauli-Grits

I like a big breakfast and thought that living a Keto Lifestyle limited my breakfast choices.  A little experimentation corrected that notion.

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Truth be told, I failed miserably on my first attempt at this recipe.  I envisioned a perfectly browned patty that resembled hash browns on the outside but inside had the creamy deliciousness of cheesy grits.  Not so much.  The ingredients were fine, it was that I thought using a lightly oiled cast iron pan would give me the results I wanted.  Instead I ended up with a burned mess that was impossible to turn.  Strike One!

The second attempt though nailed it!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Cheesy Keto Cauli-Grits

  • 2 Cups Shredded Cauliflower
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt

Tip:  I used my Vitamix to pulse the cauliflower down to rice sized crumbles.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a food processor, blender, or Vitamix, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt & pepper, and cauliflower.  Process until combined but not completely smooth.

Scoop the mixture (about 1/4 cup) into mounds about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.  Lightly press each mound down to about 1/2″ thickness.

Bake in 350° oven for 18-20 minutes, or until tops turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and leave on baking sheet to cool for 5 minutes.

Serve alongside scrambled eggs and bacon for a perfect Keto breakfast, or alongside beef, chicken, or fish for a perfect dinner side dish.

Nutrition Information per Patty (8 Servings)

  • 83.25 Calories
  • 7.2 g Fat
  • 1 g Carbs
  • 3.32 g Protein

Keto Flatbread & Lemon Tahini Sauce

My next post is going to be for Chicken Shawarma, but I was really sad that, in order to really enjoy it I’d need to cheat with a high carb Pita and Tahini sauce.

After doing some research and taking a couple of tries in the kitchen though, I discovered that making an acceptable Keto flatbread to host the deliciousness of the flavorful chicken dish, kebabs, or any other Middle Eastern delicacy isn’t that hard at all!

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Keto Flatbread

  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 Cups (6 oz) Shredded Full Fat Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1+1/2 Cups Finely Ground Almond Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they are light and frothy then add the salt and baking powder in, making sure to mix well.  Mix the mozzarella in with a spatula.  Add in the almond flour and mix everything well.

Wearing rubber prep gloves, put some oil on your hands and continue mixing with your hands, then separate the dough in 5 equal balls.   Flatten each section of dough into a disc and spread them out on a piece of parchment paper.  Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the flattened discs.

Use a rolling pin to flatten each disc further until they are about 5-6 inches in diameter.

Transfer the dough and bottom piece of parchment to a sheet tray, sprinkle with dried thyme, and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  When the flat breads have finished cooking, remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.

TIP:  Flatbread will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator in a zip bag, or can be frozen for 3 months.

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Lemon Tahini Sauce

  • 1/3 Cup Sesame Tahini – I use Kevala Organic Sesame Tahini
  • 2 Cloves Garlic Crushed (2 tsp jarred crushed garlic)
  • Juice of 1 Medium Lemon
  • 1/4 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt
  • Ice Water
  • 1 tsp Freshly Chopped Parsley

Put garlic in a small bowl and cover with the juice of 1 lemon.

Let sit for 5-15 minutes until the raw flavor of the garlic goes away.  Add the tahini to a blender or small food processor, or use a handheld immersion bender in a tall and narrow jar.

Add the garlic/lemon juice blend, the parsley, and the salt, and blend for a few seconds.  Add some ice water(about 2-4 tablespoons) while blending and keep going until the texture is smooth and creamy.  If you need to add more water, do so. If the tahini gets too loose, add more tahini.  Check the seasoning and put in the refrigerator in a sealed container until needed.

The tahini sauce will last for 5 days in the refrigerator but can’t be frozen.

Use the flatbread as your base to build your kebab or Schwarma plate and dress with the tahini sauce.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Thai Street Chicken

thaistreetchickenKeith Schroeder of Cooking Light Magazine wrote a book, and received a James Beard Foundation Focus on Health Book Award, Mad Delicious – The Science of Making Healthy Food Taste Amazing!, in 2014 that doesn’t just talk about the what and how of cooking great meals, but also the why.  This recipe is one that was featured in both his book and the magazine, and perfectly illustrates why guests at his table love every dish this Atlanta chef prepares!

If you replace the brown sugar with Sukrin Gold, this recipe can easily become a flavorful, Keto Friendly meal.

Thai Street Chicken

  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro Stems
  • 1/2 Cup Parsley Stems
  • 1 TBLS Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp White Pepper
  • 2 TBLS Fish Sauce
  • 1 TBLS Oyster Sauce
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves (I use 4 tsp of jarred, crushed garlic)
  • 1 + 1/2 Pounds Boneless/Skinless Chicken Thighs (About 6)
  • Olive Oil Cooking SPray
  • 1 Cup Julienned Carrots
  • 2 Peeled/Scored/Sliced Cucumbers
  • 12 Sprigs Fresh Cilantro
  • 2 Limes Cut into Wedges

Put the parsley & cilantro stems into a gallon sized zip bag and, using a rolling pin or can of vegetables, bruise the stems by pushing down and rolling over the stems from outside the bag.  Add the brown sugar (or brown sugar alternative), the white pepper, the fish and oyster sauces, and the garlic and combine.  Add the chicken, zip the bag closed, and massage the marinade into the thighs.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the dipping sauce.

Thai Dipping Sauce

  • 6 TBLS White Vinegar
  • 6 TBLS Brown Sugar (or Brown Sugar Alternative)
  • 1/4 Cup Shaved Shallots
  • 4 TBLS Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 tsp Fish Sauce
  • 2 Minced Thai Bird Chiles
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Crushed (1 tsp jarred crushed garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper

In small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the vinegar, sugar and shallots to a boil.  Simmer for another 10 minutes then remove from heat.  Puree with an immersion blender (or in a blender).

Cool and then stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, chiles, garlic and white pepper.

After 30 minutes, removed the marinated chicken from the zip bag and discard the remaining marinade.  Put the chicken thighs on metal skewers.  Make sure your chicken is long and flat, you don’t want cubes with this style chicken.

Heat an oven safe (if cooking in your oven) grill pan, sprayed with Olive Oil cooking spray, over medium-high heat (or in a 300° oven).

Place the skewers on the hot grill and cook for 15 minutes.  Flip the skewers over and cook another 15 minutes.  You should be able to easily pull off a cooked piece of the chicken when it’s done.  Remove the skewers from the heat, slide the chicken off of the skewers and place on one side of a platter to rest for 10 minutes.

On the other side of the patter, in rows, line up the carrots, cucumber, cilantro springs, and lime wedges.  Serve with the dipping sauce.