Monday, April 20, 2015

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs in Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

Sometimes a dish just comes together and completely blows your expectations away. Like, you expect the preparation to be time-consuming or a hassle, or you worry about a sauce not thickening enough, and then everything falls into place and just ROCKS. 

That's what happened with this dish. It all started with a REALLY good sale on chicken thighs ($0.99/lb). I stumbled upon this recipe, realized it would be low-carb, and then realized that I had everything on hand except for the chicken thighs and sun-dried tomatoes.

The one thing that went wrong? I could NOT find sun-dried tomatoes in oil at several stores (looking at you, Target, Winn-Dixie and Wal-Mart). I finally found them at Publix...but anyway, back to this incredible chicken...

The thighs are seared in hot butter, then removed from the skillet. Using the remaining butter and pan juices, you make an incredible cream sauce with just a sprinkling of herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, and heavy cream. The partially-cooked thighs are returned to the pan and then finished in the sauce. The sauce is what really makes this dish - the meat retains so much moisture (without being greasy) and the sauce is amazingly rich without being heavy.

Since the chicken is finished in the oven, you obviously will need to use a large ovenproof skillet - I used a vintage Wagner Ware 12" and it fit 8 chicken thighs perfectly!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Blueberry Chia Jam

Last summer, C & I bought BUCKETS of Alabama-grown blueberries from the Pepper Place Farmer's Market here in Birmingham. They freeze great, and we've enjoyed them for months - he likes them on Greek yogurt, we made numerous lemon pound cakes with blueberries, and I've now realized that that make pretty darn good jam.

Speaking of jam, I've posted a few jam/jelly recipes here before, and all of them are 'old school' recipes. Meaning, yes, you'll need to use a boiling water bath and can them for food safety. Not everyone wants to deal with this hassle, especially if you want to make a small batch of jam, right? Also, dealing with pectin can be a pain, and most homemade jams and jellies have TONS of sugar. 

If you want a lazier, but still tasty jam, keep reading. This recipe uses chia seeds, that awesome little superfood, to naturally thicken the jam. You only need a minimal amount of sugar (and can easily substitute erythritol for low-carb, honey for paleo, and agave for vegan), about 10-15 minutes of cook time, and that's it!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ahi Poke

Poke (pronounced "poh-kay") is a traditional Hawaiian dish of raw fish, almost always yellowfin tuna (also known as 'ahi tuna'), marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil and chili sauce. It's frequently served with fresh avocado as well, or in lettuce cups. Basically, it's like a ceviche, but with a great ginger-y, spicy incredible flavor.

Ahi tuna can be quite expensive - many recipes call for a pound of the stuff, which runs anywhere from $16-$20 for sushi-grade here. I usually make poke in smaller quantities, especially since I can usually purchase ahi in individual servings, vacuum-sealed and frozen, from stores like Whole Foods & Sprouts. I also try to go with the most sustainable option whenever possible. 

The traditional recipe usually calls for green onions. I'm not a fan of them, but, if you want to keep things traditional, just add 2-3 Tbsp of chopped green onions to the marinade mixture. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Thin Mint Smoothie

Lately, everyone I know has been posting pictures of their Girl Scout Cookies on Facebook or Instagram. A few friends have even taunted me with theirs, asking me if I want some, knowing that I no longer eat processed foods like cookies. It doesn't bother me at all, though - honestly, after 9 months of this lifestyle, and 50 lbs lost, I have lost the taste for sugar almost completely!

Luckily, I can still enjoy all of the flavors of Thin Mints, while still maintaining my lifestyle. How? With a Thin Mint Smoothie! The vibrant green color comes not from artificial food coloring, but spinach leaves and fresh mint. Plus, I HAD to do something green for St. Patrick's Day, right?

Also, if I really wanted to enjoy Thin Mints, I have this candle... 

With 16g of net carbs, this version is a little higher-carb for ketogenic plans, but fits into my macros now that I maintain my current weight at a daily limit of 30g net carbs. However, the original version used honey and sugar-sweetened chocolate chips, coming in at 41g net carbs, 35g of which was sugar!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cheese Crisps

Maintaining a low-carb lifestyle means giving up a lot of things - a lot of my friends thought I'd never be able to give up cereal (which was easy, actually). For me, one of the foods I was really bummed about was Cheez-It crackers. They were almost always on sale, and I ate them more frequently than I'd like to admit. 

Luckily, there's an alternative that is low-carb (actually, ZERO carb!), and absurdly easy to prepare - Cheese Crisps! Basically, it's just cheese that's baked until it melts into a light and airy crisp. Basically, it's a cheese tuile! All you need is a block of cheese and some parchment paper...seriously, don't skip or try to substitute wax paper or foil for parchment. Trust me on this one.

I've noted this below, but harder cheeses tend to work best. Parmesan is great, as is cheddar. For an added flavor, you can even sprinkle the cheese with seasonings like garlic powder or even Ranch mix. Enjoy these crisps on their own, or with dips and spreads!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Slow-Cooker Filipino Pork Adobo

Lately, I've been remembering just how easy it is to throw a meal together in the slow-cooker while I'm out running errands. Last week, before spending the entire day with Mom, I took about 5 minutes to start my Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken, and came home to dinner being pretty much ready to eat.

I had been considering making my chicken adobo again, when I remembered that I had a nice pork loin in the freezer, purchased during a particularly great sale. I usually use pork loins and shoulder roasts for pulled pork, so I knew it'd work well with the classic adobo flavors of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic. Plus, I knew I was going to be out of town ALL day and wouldn't feel like cooking (or spending $$ to go out) once I got home.

Also, I neglected to get a plated picture, so this will have to do: 

Maybe it's not entirely authentic, being shredded/pulled pork instead of large cut-up pieces of meat, but the flavor is still all there and authentic. It's great served over rice (cauliflower rice for me), or even as a sandwich or taco!