Sunday, August 16, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

KEEPER ALERT! Go ahead and print this out, bookmark or whatever you need to do so that you have it close at hand.  I was lucky to get a couple of spoonfuls of this dish on my plate. My kids and husband just about wiped it out before I served myself.

I saw this in Courtney Luper's Facebook feed and I shared it to my Man, That Stuff is Good wall so I could try it out later and I'm so glad I did. It's already on the menu for this week. Spaghetti squash is one of our regulars in the garden. The plants started out gang busters and I thought I would have a lot to fix. Sadly the insane rain we received early in the planting season gave way to extreme drought and I was lucky to get two squash to fix. We love spaghetti squash no matter how it's fixed. Stuffed or as a pasta substitute, you can't go wrong.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet saute one medium onion in three tablespoons of butter. Season with salt, pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon. I backed off and it still had a little bite of heat.
 Cook one medium spaghetti squash (or two small).
 Use a fork to remove the spaghetti squash.
 In a mixing bowl combine spaghetti squash and cooked onions.
 Blend in 3/4 cup of sour cream and one half cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. 
Spread in a small casserole dish and top with additional cheese. 
I sprinkled a little shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup) on top before putting in the oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

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Sugar Free Cheesecake Pie Filling in a Low Carb Nutty Crust

So now that I've posted several healthy food recipes in a row, I didn't want you to think I've forgotten my husband's sweet tooth. Since we got his stellar 90-day follow-up results, I'm going to start expanding my not bad for you dessert collection.

You all have heard me going on about my newest recipe book, "Taking Out The Carbage," by DJ Foodie which arrived last week. While flipping through the beautiful glossy pages I saw a recipe for a pie crust that is a low carb substitute for a graham cracker crust. Well you know I had to fix it that night. We always  have a bag of low sodium almonds around for a snack so I was covered there. Since this was a spur of the moment decision, I filled it with the "fuller" version of Sugar Free Cheesecake instant pudding and pie filling recipe. The filling takes a good three hours to set so you can't rush this option. We dug in a little sooner than that, but there were no complaints in the Grisham household.

It was so good Andy has since been trying to convince me to cut the pie into six pieces instead of eight. I have not lost that battle. Yet. This Wednesday I'll be springing a Low Carb Egg Custard Pie on Andy and Momma which will hopefully be an acceptable substitute for the Buttermilk Pies he loves. I'll report back on how it goes.
 Using my Pampered Chef chopper, I finely chopped 1-1/2 cups* roasted almonds. Next time I will use my food processor as it took a lot of chopping. Dump the crushed nuts into a medium bowl.
 Add 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of melted butter and one tablespoon of honey and mix well.
 Mash the mixture on the bottom and sides to line a pie dish.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes. Let cool before adding your filling.
 Fill with your favorite pie filling.

*There are approximately 7.4 ounces of roasted almonds in this pie crust. 
So plan on using a little over 1/2 of a 14 oz. bag of almonds.

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Mashed Cauliflower Is A Great Potato Substitute

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas...Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans...Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy...Shepherd's pie...the list could go on forever. If there's one thing I love to eat, it's real mashed potatoes. I have tried the fake ones a few times many, many moons ago but no matter how I "doctored" them up, I never was convinced they were a suitable substitute.

Now that we have a different relationship with the food we eat; I'm not saying I'll never fixed mashed potatoes again. I'm saying I'll just fix a normal amount so that we will only consume regular portions as opposed to vats of creamy goodness. In between that rare occasion, I will gladly substitute in its place equally delicious mashed cauliflower.  Is it exact? No. Could you fool your kids? Possibly. Will my Momma eat it? Oh yes! We have fixed this numerous times and absolutely love it.
 Cut up a head of cauliflower into pieces. Boil or steam (my preference) until tender.
 Drain the water from the cauliflower. Be sure to shake and turn to get as much of the water out as possible.
 With your potato masher, smash the cauliflower until it is smooth with minimal chunks. *I have used an electric hand mixer, but I prefer using a masher.
Add a few tablespoons of butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mash in and blend well.
Dig in with a fork and taste. Add additional seasoning to suit your taste.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Healthier Zucchini Lasagne

Raise your hand if you have some weird shaped zucchini growing in your garden that might be just a tad too big. Me! Me! Here's your solution.

When we discussed how we were going to cut down the sugar in our diet you know pasta was at the top of the list and I wanted to cry. I. love. pasta. But, thankfully for Andy, I love him more. My favorite pasta dish is lasagne. I haven't fixed a pan of it in forever. That's because I only know how to fix it one way...way too much! When Andy brought in a couple of odd ball zucchini, I knew I was going to attempt to make a healthier version of lasagne. I left out the ricotta cheese I normally use and backed off to one pound of meat. They'll go back in the next time. This turned out delicious and the zucchini was firm and almost gave you the sensation of eating pasta.

In a large skillet brown 1 pound of Italian sausage (upgrade to 2 lbs. next time--1 each sausage and hamburger) and 1 onion. Spread a little spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish and then pour the rest in the skillet with the meat and onions.
After looking at a zillion cans and jars, DelMonte Four Cheese sauce had the least carbs. I make great spaghetti sauce but I don't think I can shrink the carbs in my sauce that much.
Carefully using a mandolin slicer, slice up your zucchini. I posted the memo after the fact as I did get a nice slice on my thumb. That "food holder" is really useful! Use it!
 Make a layer of zucchini.
 Spoon around 1/3 of the meat sauce mixture over the zucchini and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Keep making layers of zucchini, meat mixture and cheese. Top with remaining mozzarella and shredded Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle a little Italian seasoning on top to add a little more flavor. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for around 50 minutes. Remove the foil the last 10 minutes or so. Lasagne should be bubbly. Now don't even think about the garlic bread!!!!

Easy Low Carb Broccoli Salad

90-day update coming your way!!! Allow me a few seconds of your time to update you on our little healthy eating journey. Andy got his A1C results back from his doctor this week. All weekend we were wondering if we had made enough changes to get those numbers down. We were able to breathe a sigh of relief after his phone call. 7.4 (166 blood sugar) down to 5.4 (102 blood sugar). You can't cheat on an A1C test. Those really tell the tale. Doc said to keep doing what you're doing. Over the past three months we have been eating well and are continually finding great recipes to enjoy and share. This adventure proves once again, change begins with you. 

Back to the good stuff. My boss Angie was telling me about the broccoli salad recipe she put together and you know I had to try it. I thought I'd wait until Momma came over last night to fix it. Andy grilled pork chops and I steamed carrots to go with this and the combination was awesome. The most time you'll spend to make this is when you're chopping up the broccoli and green onions. I made mine pretty small because that's what I like. This is definitely a reduced sugar version compared to the broccoli salad I normally fix...and we love so well.

I used...
2 small bundles of raw broccoli
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
4 packets of Sweet n Low
1 bundle of green onions, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup real bacon bits ( I eye-balled this)
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack) 

In a large bowl mix mayo and Sweet n Low. Stir in chopped broccoli and green onions until well coated. Add bacon and cheese and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Andrew, Momma and I thought this was perfect, Andy wished I had added just a little more mayo. Since he has done so well, I will be happy to fix it to suit him.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Almond Chocolate Mousse

Since Andy and I started on this healthier eating kick, I have been amazed that we've been able to enjoy the food we're eating, stay fuller, and slim down all while enjoying a little dessert. What's that you say? You heard me! Dessert was not something fixed in our household very often, but Little Debbie and Sara Lee cakes managed to sneak in the back door and typically stored out of my reach. Let's just leave it at that.

In the next week or so, I should be receiving my "Taking out the Carbage" recipe book and I can not wait! I found a recipe for DJ Foodie's Orange-Pecan Chocolate Mousse and decided to try it out on Momma one Wednesday night. I substituted Almond Extract for the Orange Oil Extract he calls for. Since some Wednesday nights I do well to get off from work, fix supper and dessert; I cheat and use sugar-free chocolate pudding when I'm lazy. It's not bad and my Mother and husband get their little chocolate fix and I get to sit down and enjoy her visit.

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar substitute
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. almond extract
Dash of salt

2 cups heavy whipping cream
Sugar Free Chocolate Pudding
1 tsp. almond extract

In a medium bowl, mix with your electric mixer. Keep at until you get a nice, thick consistency. Option 1 I got a more soft serve ice cream. Option 2 yields a firmer texture. Both are delicious.

DJ Foodie's Chocolate Sauce: (Dreams do come true!)
  1. 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  2. 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (add just enough to blend ingredients nicely)
  3. 3 tablespoons sugar replacement (I used Truvia)
  4. Dash salt 
In a small saucepan, on medium, whisk the following ingredients together until well blended and thickened. 

Put a scoop of the chocolate mouse in a dessert dish...drizzle some yummy chocolate sauce over the top...squeeze some home made whip cream or the kind from a can along with some chopped almonds.

Looks like the back side could have used a few extra almonds!

Chicken and Garden Vegetable Shish Kabobs

My friend Lisa P., who is quick draw on the comments, had me rolling when I posted this picture to Facebook with the comment "Shish's what's for supper when you don't catch any fish. #itsallgood". "Well shish, no fish" was her quick witted reply. That comment spurred round after round of hilarious posts.

Andy and I had spent parts of the day fishing and had some pretty pathetic luck. Ok. We did sleep in and got a late start and it was hotter than all get out. For you folks who don't live in the South, 95+ degrees and humidity normally warrants another "hotter than" comparison, but I'm trying to be polite here. I did get a nice tan that day, enjoyed quality time with the hubs and wasn't losing too much sleep because I knew I had a bunch of veggies from the garden and some chicken breasts.Voila! A quick dinner and quite healthy. The only thing missing was the vat of rice we normally serve with this. I've been seeing comments about "ricing" cauliflower as a substitute and will go there the next time. There's no telling what Lisa will say about that. She is forever posting pictures of candy filled pies and the like and asking me to fix a "healthy" version for her.

There is no right or wrong way to fix shish kabobs. We use whatever we have on hand. If we run out of something? We just add a little more of something else. If you use the wooden skewers, soak them for about 30 minutes in water. It'll help keep them from catching on fire.

We stacked zucchini, yellow squash, onion, green pepper, cherry tomatoes and chicken breast cubed into 1" chunks. Sprinkle your favorite seasoning on one side. Our favorite go-to's are Lawry's Garlic Salt (lime green top) and Cavender's Greek seasoning.
Place the skewers on a medium grill and lightly spray a little Alabama Dixie sauce our friend Joel Peters makes. In our humble opinion, it beats all the others on the market. Andy and I are due a trip to Loretto, TN to buy a gallon (it's that good). Turn every so often and be careful to not overcook. As always, make sure that chicken gets done!

Cucumber Salsa

What to do with all the fresh cucumbers from the garden? Even with the dry summer, our little garden has managed to produce enough cucumbers to eat healthy salads or slice and enjoy with our meals. Every so often we'll go out there and find several odd-ball shaped cucumbers hidden and a little bigger than I normally would eat because the seeds have grown way too big for my likes. This recipe from "Time to Lose It" popped up on my Facebook feed and I shared to give it a whirl.

All I can say is yumm!! We will be doing this one over and over. We enjoyed these with a few Tostitos Scoops, but Andy said it was good enough to eat with a spoon. I second that. I let it marinade for several hours before digging in, but the next day was even better. If I had to do this differently, I'd use the hot Rotel instead of the mild. It was good, but I think we'll go for a little heat the next time.
Remove the seeds before dicing six cucumbers. The cucs I used were about 4-5" long. Sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for about 30 minutes or so. This helps draw out the water. Drain the water and put in a large mixing bowl.
 Chop a medium red onion.
In a large bowl mix cucumbers, onions, one can of Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and one pouch of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.
Mix well and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for as long as you can hold off eating it.