Monday, May 28, 2012

Salmon Two-fer

I saw some beautiful salmon steaks at the store last Friday and so snagged 3 of them. I made a marinade from the juice of one orange, about 4 tablespoons, or 1/4 cup, then added 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 clove of garlic, finely minced, about 1 tablespoon of minced shallot, 1 tablespoon each of chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, plus salt and pepper. Pour the marinade in a container large enough to hold all of the steaks side by side and add the fish. Turn the fish to coat both sides with the marinade, cover and set in the fridge for about an hour, making sure you flip the fish after a half hour.

I baked the steaks in a preheated 350 F degree oven for about 20 minutes. Easy and delicious. The salmon was moist, soft and buttery, absolutely perfect. I didn't end up taking a picture, though. We were all hungry, and we also had to keep an eye on the cat's movements. He's a big fan of salmon, too. :)

Unfortunately, my younger daughter is still a bit iffy about salmon, so we had a good portion of her steak left over, so I re-purposed it into salmon patties for our lunch yesterday. As delicious as salmon patties are when they're made from canned salmon, they are a gazillion times better made from your own leftover salmon. Most recipes call for breadcrumbs in the mix and to coat, but I made some low-carb substitutions that worked out perfectly.

Salmon Patty


  • leftover salmon, about 4 ounces
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot, or onion
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • approximately 3 -4 tablespoons almond meal* See Notes
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal*
  • grated parm


  1. Place the salmon in a bowl and flake with a fork, breaking it into pieces. Don't mash it into oblivion, though. Larger pieces of the fish provide a beautiful texture to the patties.
  2. Add the mustard, shallot and egg and mix well, then toss in the dill, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Fold in the almond meal and flaxseed meal until all incorporated. 
  4. Shape the patties, I got 3 nice-sized patties, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Fill a shallow bowl or a plate with grated parm, yes, the stuff from the can, and press the patties down into the cheese and carefully flip them over and repeat, pressing the parm into the top. Careful, these patties are still rather fragile.
  6. Over medium-high heat, melt the fat of your choice in a skillet and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then carefully flip them and cook until golden brown on the other side, about another 2 minutes. 

  1. I really only eyeballed the amount of the almond meal and flaxseed meal and used enough to help the mixture form a cohesive ball. depending on how large your egg is and how much extra fish you have, you may want to use more or less of the meals.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Low-Carb Round-Up Week 2

Week 2 went by without a hitch and without feeling deprived. Flavorful meals kept the interest up, lots of vegetables helped keep me full, and frequent small meals or snacks containing protein also bumped up the satiety factor.

Spaghetti squash with 4-hour meat sauce

For those meals when those around you are screaming for pasta, this sauce is the answer. Yes, it may take 4 hours to simmer, but is it ever worth it.

My kids had this over spaghetti, and I had it with spaghetti squash. I did not miss the pasta at all.
Roasted chicken breast with shallot-herb pan sauce

Sauteed shredded Brussels sprouts with ham

Roasted green beans with sunflower seeds

Lemon-mint Creme

Because my kids love dark meat poultry, when I buy the "picnic packs" of cut-up whole chickens, I am left with the split bone-in chicken breasts for myself. I've found that the simplest and tastiest way to prepare them is with a good pan-sear, breast down, and then 20 minutes in a searing-hot oven in the same pan.

Then it's just a few minutes to let the chicken rest to make a pan sauce and you have crispy skin, succulent meat and a flavorful sauce.

Brussels sprouts are on so many people's No Eat Never list, but I swear, it's only because people don't know how to treat them. My usual method of prep is to slice them in half, drizzle them with olive oil and roast them until lovely and brown, but this method of shredding and sauteeing them is my new favorite.

Add some onion, herbs, ham or bacon to it and you have a great side dish.

Brussels sprouts and asparagus are not the only vegetables that can benefit from a good roast in the oven. Fresh green beans drizzled with olive oil, roasted and then hit with a squeeze of fresh lemon and topped with sunflower seeds and a shower of freshly shredded parm makes a tasty and easy vegetable side dish.

Dessert isn't off-limits even during Phase 1 of the plan. The South Beach Diet has a recipe for a lemon zest ricotta creme which is out of this world. I decided to substitute farmer's cheese for the ricotta and added some mint for a refreshing, creamy dessert.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns with Balsamic Vinegar and Parm

It's time for more seasonal foraged favorites. For the next few weeks, fiddlehead ferns are in!  Fiddlehead ferns are the edible tops of ostrich ferns, though care should be taken with them. They can't be eaten raw because of a toxin present that causes some GI distress. So really, no matter how adorable they are, resist the impulse to pop them into your mouth raw.

These little lovelies have a taste that is reminiscent of asparagus and green beans. Cooked just right, they are tender and delicious. The usual preparations are to steam or boil them, sometimes par-boiling and blanching them and sauteeing in olive oil or butter with garlic. Quite often, the simplest preparations are among the most satisfying, so the pure flavor shines through.

I wanted to try something different with these. They really are quite similar in taste to asparagus, and my absolute favorite way to have asparagus is roasted, so I thought I'd give that a try with these fiddleheads. I did like I often do with asparagus and finished them with a light drizzle of balsamic and some shaved parm, and bliss! The three flavors worked beautifully together.

Roasted Fiddlehead Ferns with Balsamic Vinegar and Parm

  • 1 lb. fiddlehead ferns
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • vinegar
  • shaved parm

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F and line a roasting pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Wash the ferns very well, making sure to rinse off all of the brown papery scales. Pat dry carefully between two paper towels.
  3. Place in a bowl and drizzle with some olive oil. For a full pound of fiddleheads, I used about 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat well.
  4. Lay them out on the pan and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then  drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with shaved parm.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Roasted Chicken Breast with Shallot and Herb Pan Sauce

I've mentioned before that my kids are not fans of white meat, so I've been cooking a lot of drumsticks and thighs lately, though recently I bought a "Picnic Pack" of chicken which had 4 drumsticks, 4 thighs and 3 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. I set the chicken breasts aside for some later meal just for myself and baked the dark pieces for the girls the other night. Today I was rummaging through my fridge in search of something for my Mother's Day Lunch for One when I stumbled across one of the breasts - I'd frozen the other two.

When I have a plain old skinless boneless breast, I often like to poach it to keep it as moist as possible, but this chicken breast still had the skin on it and I wanted to take advantage of it by searing it in a hot skillet and then roasting it. For extra flavor, I stuffed some herbed butter under the skin the way I do when I roast a whole chicken, and used the goodies left in the pan to make a really fast pan sauce to spoon  over the top. If I weren't still low-carbing it, I'd have added a side dish of roasted potatoes to soak up the delectable pan sauce.

Although I set off the smoke alarm - I have no exhaust hood in my kitchen - this dish was well worth it, and makes a lovely special occasion dinner that is very fast and easy.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Shallot Herb Pan Sauce

  • 2 bone-in, skin-on, split chicken breasts 
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 
  • Grapeseed oil or olive oil 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot 
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced 
  • ¼ cup white wine 
  • ¼ cup chicken broth 
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. You want it really roaring hot. 
  2. Make the herb butter by mashing together the butter with the chopped sage, thyme and rosemary. Take the herb butter and stuff it under the skin. 
  3. Drizzle some grapeseed oil over the chicken and massage it into the skin and flesh. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking. Lay the chicken skin-side down straight onto the dry skillet and let cook for 3 minutes. Don’t move it, just let the skin get nice and brown. 
  5. Using a pair of tongs, flip it over and put the pan in the oven. Roast for 15 minutes, then place the chicken on a plate to rest.
    Note: You’re going to use the same skillet that just came out of the oven, so be careful to use a towel or pot holder, otherwise you’re likely to brand yourself on the hand. That cast iron holds heat for a long time. 
  6.  In the same skillet that you used for the chicken, add a little bit of butter and turn the heat to medium-high. Saute the shallots for a minute, then add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring well to scrape up any of the lovely browned bits in the pan. 
  7.  Pour in the wine to help deglaze the pan and loosen more of the lovely bits stuck to the pan. Let it cook down a bit and then add the sprigs of thyme and chicken broth. Let it cook down until reduced, about 5 minutes, then taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Spoon over the chicken breasts and serve immediately.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Low-Carb Round-Up Week 1

Well, with Week One of my low-carb regimen down, I thought  it'd be nice to give the report on how I managed it happily and without excessive cravings. I had a wide variety of delicious and satisfying dishes, and honestly did not feel as though I was denying myself.

Remember: Low-carbing it does not have to suck!

Here are a few of my favorites from this week:

Lasagna with Zucchini Noodles

This low-carb lasagna uses thin slices of zucchini in place of carboriffic pasta noodles.

Breaded Hake Fillet

I made a rich sauce of an oven-roasted red bell pepper, some sweet Italian sausage, vidalia onion and a marinara sauce made from canned whole San Marzano tomatoes.

The breading on this hake fillet is made of almond meal and grated parmesan from a can, plus spices. It provided the same texture as seasoned soft breadcrumbs, only without the carbs.

Baked in the oven with a spritz of olive oil, this fish still came out moist and tender and with a fraction of the calories it would have had if it had been pan-fried.

Faux-tato Salad

There is no need to gaze longingly at others' potato salad when you can fix yourself this tasty and homey salad made from, wait for it.... butter beans. It's utterly shocking, but these beans provide a texture which is eerily similar to boiled waxy potatoes, perfect for a nice summer potato salad.

Season as you do your regular potato salad, and you don't have to feel as though you're wanting anything just because you're watching your carbs.
Garlicky Mashed Cauliflower with Cheddar and Dill

Another satisfying stand-in for the ubiquitous potato is this pile of garlicky mashed cauliflower augmented with cheddar, crème fraîche and lots of fresh chopped dill.

This side dish rounds out any meal and is a great choice for the whole family, whether everyone is low-carbing it or not.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Oven-Fried Breaded Chicken

We don't have a strict routine of which meals fall on which day around here. I like to change things up frequently and take advantage of fresh, seasonal produce. I do make fish quite a lot, and there is often a night that is heavily pasta-centric. Although I love doing a whole chicken stuffed with lemon and herbs, I've discovered the convenience "picnic packs" of whole, cut-up chickens, making it easier to reserve the whole breast for another dish and just concentrating on my kids' favorite, the dark meat. I've been cooking chicken quite a bit more often around here, and as my older daughter said last night, "Oh, Poultry Night - I love Poultry Night!"

I've usually been braising the meat in a chicken fricassee because it is so easy and creates such a luscious gravy, but I also want to keep things interesting with new recipes. I love fried chicken too, but don't especially care for the hellish mess that the splatter of chicken fat and oil can make in the kitchen, so I decided to do a cheater's "oven-fried" method.

Oven-Fried Breaded Chicken


  • An assortment of chicken parts - I had 4 drumsticks and 4 thighs
  • mayonnaise
  • approximately 1 cup seasoned soft breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parm
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F and line a large roasting pan with a layer of aluminum foil. Spritz it with some cooking spray.
  2. Mix together the breadcrumbs, parm, salt, pepper and papika in a shallow bowl or pie plate.
  3. Coat each chicken piece in a very thin film of mayo and then dredge the chicken pieces in the crumb mixture until totally coated. Shake off the excess crumbs and lay in the roasting pan.
  4. Roast for approximately 25 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear when poked with a knife.
  5. Remove to a platter and serve hot.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Low-Carbing It

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am doing a low-carb diet again, and I've decided to put up a blog dedicated to low-carb diets as a way to help me focus my efforts. Besides, looking at my recent post filled with chocolate, Nutella and coconut may well cause me to fall off the low-carb wagon. :)

Fret not, I'll be adding the regular carb-laden recipes that I make for my kids, so I hope not to abandon this blog entirely. I'm also adding some of my older posts from here and the vegan blog to my new one which fit the low-carb criteria.

Come visit me at Low-Carbing It!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sausage-Stuffed Bell Pepper

It's that time of year again when I seriously low-carb it. The South Beach Diet has worked well for me in the past, so I'm breaking out the books and low-carb recipes once again. I am of the firm belief that eating low-carb does not have to suck, neither does it mean that you have to deny yourself. Some smart substitutions and good-quality ingredients can make for meals that satisfy the diet requirements as well as your taste buds. :)

Sausage-Stuffed Bell Pepper

  • 2 bell peppers - I used orange for roasting and yellow for stuffing 
  • ¼ cup cherry tomatoes 
  • 3 basil leaves, torn
  • ½ Vidalia onion, chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed 
  • ½ lb. sweet Italian sausage 
  • 2 cups marinara sauce 
  • ¼ cup Farmer’s cheese 
  • 3 tablespoons shredded mozzarella 
  • 3 tablespoons shredded provolone 
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated parm 
  • 2 basil leaves, minced 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  •  Olive oil 

  1. Roast 1 bell pepper and the cherry tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan and roll the whole bell pepper in the oil to coat. Salt liberally.
  2. Toss in the cherry tomatoes and roll them around in the oil too. Roast for 20 minutes, then take out and flip the pepper over and stir the tomatoes. Add some torn basil leaves to the cherry tomatoes and put back in the oven, flipping the bell pepper every 10- 15 minutes from then on. 
  3. Remove the tomatoes after another 10 minutes have passed, leaving the bell pepper to roast another 10 minutes or so. I like to do the bell pepper a good 45 minutes or so until the skin is dark and blistered. 
  4.  Put the bell pepper in a paper bag, fold the top securely and let steam for 20 minutes. Remove, peel, and chop, removing the seeds. Set aside. 
  5. Saute the onion in olive oil over medium-high heat, add chopped roasted bell pepper cook for 3 minutes or so, until nicely softened. Then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. 
  6. Add the sausage and break into small pieces with the blade of the spatula. Brown. Add roasted cherry tomatoes, and cook 2 minutes. Pour in the marinara sauce and beef both as needed to thin. Cover let simmer 10 minutes. 
  7.  Mash together the farmer's cheese with the mozz, parm and provolone. Add the minced garlic and fresh basil. 
  8. Cut the bell pepper in half, hollow it out and spoon the sausage and sauce mixture in the bell pepper halves, top with cheese. Place in baking dish with hot water partway up the peppers. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and cook another 10 minutes or so until the cheese is browned and bubbly.


  • I had more sausage and sauce mixture, probably enough for two more bell pepper halves, though I will probably use the extra (about a cup) for spaghetti squash. 
  • You can use ricotta in place of the farmer's cheese, but I'd drain it in cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
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