Three Pepper Cacio de Pepe

Recipes like this are why it’s so damn hard to stay Keto. ūüėāūüėāūüėā Food & Wine Magazine just keeps enticing me to #TheDarkSide!

Three Pepper Cacio e Pepe

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground Tellicherry pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper
  • 12 ounces uncooked bronze-cut fusilli col buco pasta (such as Giusto Sapore) or bucatini pasta
  • 1 1/2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 cup), plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 cup)

Chicken Bacon Ranch Meatballs

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Ground chicken breast is one of my favorite ways to build a base for a #Keto meal!  It’s so versatile, mixes so well with most of my favorite ingredients, and is so 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
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 4 TBLS Ranch Dressing
  • 1/2 Cup Panko
  • Olive Oil Spray

 

Using your hands, combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until well mixed.

Spray the basket in your air fryer lightly with olive oil spray, place a layer of meatballs, with space between for the air to flow around, set the temperature to 380¬į F, and set the timer for 8 minutes. Cook the meatballs, shaking them to turn them about halfway through so they brown evenly.

Quick, easy and oh so tasty!

 

Ultimate Shrimp & Grits

I’ll never be able to do enough cardio to exercise off the deep love I have for the food of my Daddy’s Alabama family.¬† Shrimp & Grits are, by far, the one dish I can never say no to, as my jeans will attest…

This Food Network recipe from Tyler Florence tabs itself the “Ultimate” and I have to say, he’s not just tooting his own horn.¬† This dish is pretty damn good & it satisfies my 3 recipe musts:

  • Must be quick
  • Must have ingredients that are easy to find
  • Must not require culinary school skills to make!


Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Shrimp & Grits

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Place a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the milk and cream. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. When the grits begin to bubble, turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, thin it out with a little extra cream. Season with salt and pepper.

  • 2 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped (1 tsp pre-chopped in the jar)
  • 1 pound Andouille, or spicy Italian sausage, cut in chunks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 bay leaves
  • 2 pounds raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
  • pinch cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 TBLS finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Place a deep skillet over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic; saute for 2 minutes to soften. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until there is a fair amount of fat in the pan and the sausage is brown. Sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to create a roux. Slowly pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir to avoid lumps. Toss in the bay leaves. When the liquid comes to a simmer, add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp in the stock for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are firm and pink and the gravy is smooth and thick. Add the cayenne pepper, Tabasco and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; stir in the parsley and green onion. Spoon the grits into a serving bowl. Add the shrimp mixture and mix well. Serve immediately with crusty bread and ice cold beer. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Fit Fat Tuesday Feast

IMG_5098I love the comfort foods of winter but, because California gets a very short spell of cool weather, that means that I can’t just eat what I want and hide under sweatshirts and big sweaters…UG!¬† Case in point:¬† last week we had some of our lowest temperatures for late January/early February and this week it’s been in the high 80’s and low 90’s.¬† I am going to be back in spring clothes before too long, so I have to stick to my diet plan.

Just because I’m watching what I eat doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Fat Tuesday, right?¬† By re-working one of my favorite Mardi Gras delights, I can (and did!) Laissez les bon temps roulez.

Let the Good Times Roll “California Style” Jambalaya

  • 1 – 12 oz Chub Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat Premium Pork Sausage
  • 2/3 pound Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Diced
  • 12 oz – Raw (Peeled, Deveined & Tails Removed) Shrimp
  • 6 oz – Aidell’s Cajun Style Andouille Sausage
  • 1 – 14.5 oz Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 2 Pkgs – Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice Natural Whole Grain Brown Rice (90 Second Microwave Packages)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper – Chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper – Chopped
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions
  • 2 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic (Peeled & Minced)
  • 2 TBLS Zatarain’s Cajun Spice Blend
  • Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper To Taste

In a heavy duty skillet, preheated over medium-high heat, add 1 TBLS olive oil, the garlic, chopped onions, and chopped bell peppers.  Cook while stirring about 5 minutes.

Preheat a large heavy duty stock pot or stew pan over medium high heat.  Add 1 TBLS olive oil and the pork sausage to the pan.  Break up with a wooden spoon and cook until nearly done,  Add the diced chicken, sprinkle with the Cajun Spice, and continue cooking until chicken is nearly cooked through (4-5 minutes).  Slice the sausage into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices and add to the pan.  Cut each peeled, deveined, tailed shrimp in half and add to the other meats in the pan.  Cook about 2 minutes.

Tear the packages to vent and microwave the Uncle Ben’s rice packets for 90 seconds each on high.

Add the sautéed vegetables to the cooked meat.  Stir in the canned tomatoes and bring all to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the two packages of rice to the pan.

Stir to combine.  Add 1 TBLS ground black pepper and about 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.

Serve with hot sauce of your choice, and, if you’re like me and love it California Style, add 1/4 of an avocado to the top of your bowl of steaming jambalaya.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

 

It’s A Comfort Food Kind Of Day

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I¬†try to balance being somewhat diet conscious with being creative in the kitchen like I did with the dinner I made last night:¬†Bacon & Roasted Cauliflower Chowder.¬†¬†It was hearty, satisfying,¬†and had a lot of flavor, but, with the exception of the fat & sodium from the bacon, was super healthy!¬† I even kept my husband from his requested bread/bagel chips/ crackers alongside by baking up some thin crispy sweet potato chips while the soup was cooking.¬† I satisfied his need for something starchy but didn’t add unnecessary carbs or calories!¬† Win-Win!

That said, I have been known (alright, it happens a lot) to totally justify throwing all thoughts of the diet out the window when I eat at restaurants and indulge in luscious dishes I am not quite skilled enough (or brave enough) to try to re-create at home.

It’s hardest of all to be diet conscious when I’m feeling tired, stressed or sick and¬†just want comforting, basic, no frills food like my Mom, Grandma and Alabama Aunts used to make.

Today is one of those comfort days.  I have been battling bronchitis for more than 3 weeks and all I wanted was a no hassle simple bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.  I dug through the cupboards and found a variety of options:

  • Gluten Free Oats (on hand for my gluten intolerant girlfriend);
  • Whole Rolled Oats (unopened and I don’t even remember buying them);
  • Quaker Quick 1 Minute Oats¬†in the Cardboard Cylinder (for making cookies);
  • Quaker Old Fashioned Oats; and
  • A single microwave packet¬†of Nutrisystem Oats¬† ( my husband’s)¬†YUCK and NO THANKS!

I have no interest in the over-processed, artificially sweetened and flavored, chopped into dust oats from a skinny envelope!¬† I¬†wasn’t in the mood for the time involved in cooking the¬†whole rolled oats, skipped the cookie & gluten free ingredients and that left me only one viable option:

oatmealThe stomach filling, hunger suppressing, creamy goodness and comfort of the white haired man on the round cardboard package of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats!

I had always assumed that the pre-packaged diet foods that come in those expensive, very restrictive diets was healthy.  Boy was I in for a surprise!  Have you ever looked at the back of one of those boxes of instant oatmeal in the envelope?

For 150 Calories, in a package of Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal, you also get:

  • 35.4 g Carbs (3 g Fiber)
  • 7¬†g Sugar
  • 1.5¬†g Fat
  • 4 g Protein
  • 140¬†mg Sodium

In order to make their oatmeal, you have to prepare it with 1/2 cup of fat free milk which adds an additional:

  • 40 Calories (190 Calories total)
  • 65 mg Sodium (205 mg Sodium total)
  • 6 g Carbs (41.4 g Carbs total)
  • 6 g Sugar (13 g Sugar total)
  • 4 g Protein (A bonus for 8 g Protein total)

Compare that to what you get from a bigger (what they call “Heart Healthy” on the label) portion (still only 150 Calories) of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats that you spice up yourself with about 1/8 tsp Real Vanilla Extract and 1/4 tsp Cinnamon:

  • 27.6 g Carbs (4 g Fiber)
  • 1 g Sugar
  • 3 g Fat
  • 5 g Protein
  • 0 mg Sodium

By taking 1 more minute in the microwave or a whole 3 more minutes to prepare in a pan on the stove you do lose the 3 extra g of Protein that using milk in the prep of the packaged oats adds, but you add 1 g of additional filling Fiber and save yourself from ingesting:

  • 40 additional calories (that can be spent towards a glass of wine later)
  • 205 mg Sodium
  • 12 g Sugar

The preparation is really simple. 

The fastest way is to prepare it in the microwave.¬† In a microwave safe cereal bowl, I measure 3/4 Cup Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and stir in 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.¬† I then add 1/2 cups water and 1/8 tsp Vanilla stirring all until it’s well combined.¬† I cook the¬†oatmeal on high power for two minutes then give the mixture a stir to test the consistency.¬† My microwave is 10 years old, so I play it safe to avoid the dreaded boil over.¬† I add 2 more cycles of 30 seconds on high, stirring in between, and end up with a creamy, but not dense and pasty bowl of hearty oatmeal.

I wish I could convince my husband that it really is easy to do, and can even be pre-packaged in a zip bag to take to work, so that he would stop buying and eating the Nutrisystem meals that bring so much unnecessary sodium and so many preservatives into his system, but that’s a fight for another day.

Today I am just going to sit here and enjoy my healthy, hearty, and oh so comforting, bowl of steaming hot oatmeal.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood