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cooking & recipes family fun

A week of Keto-friendly recipes.

My husband has been living that Keto life since January and, although I personally have not even remotely stuck to his diet, my dinner routine has changed dramatically to tailor to his lifestyle. I know, I’m like a really good wife.

While the kids and I continue to carb part time, our dinners are consistently Keto-friendly or Keto-Lite. Since the beginning of the year, I started adding new low carb recipes to our meal plan and retiring old ones that simply won’t work for us anymore. Back in March I shared some early favorites and I’ve been thinking it’s high time that I update you guys – I’ve tried and tested a lot of new recipes this year and these are the ones we consistently repeat.

Here are 7 of our favorite Keto friendly recipes – a full week of dinner options that either started out Keto-friendly or can easily be adapted.

Keto+Cheeseburger+Casserole+Skillet

Keto Cheeseburger Casserole Skillet at Cast Iron Keto | This was first served to us by my husband’s best friend. He and his wife have been incredibly supportive of my husband’s diet and have found several Keto-friendly recipes that I have stolen like a thief in the night so that we can have them on the reg. This recipe looks stupid simple because it is but it tastes like OMG how is this so good, this can’t possibly be diet food, it’s too delicious. Sometimes I serve the meat on top of a bagged salad, sometimes I top it with the shredded lettuce called for. Use whatever toppings your people would pile onto a cheeseburger. It really doesn’t matter, it’s a very forgiving, low maintenance meal – perfect for busy nights. Ready in less than thirty minutes.


Kielbasa and veggie bake by Dude Mom | This is a highly customizable sheet pan dinner that I have been making for a couple years now. The original recipe calls for diced potatoes, kielbasa and broccoli seasoned with garlic powder, paprika and parsley. I swap out different vegetables all the time. Sometimes I use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes. I season it depending on what I’m in the mood for, usually with cumin, chili powder and garlic powder. And to make it keto friendly I use less potatoes, two packages of kielbasa and extra veggies, knowing my husband will take less if no potatoes and will want extra kielbasa.


Parmesan-Baked_Salmon

Parmesan Baked Salmon by Kraft Recipes | I’ve been making this recipe for years – it’s my favorite salmon recipe and it’s stupid easy to make. The only tweak needed to make this keto friendly is to skip the RITZ crackers. Still very good. I add extra cayenne or paprika for my husband and skip the RITZ crackers and everybody wins. Cook up some veggies for a side. Pour a glass of dry wine and you have a classy and Keto friendly dinner.


Keto Crack Chicken in the Crock Pot by Mess for Less | This is my go-to crock pot meal for busy days. I prefer to use chicken thighs in the crock pot because they don’t dry out as quickly as chicken breasts but feel free to use either. ALSO if you cook this with the cream cheese and bacon right away instead of adding it in at the end, it will be extra delicious so IMO you should add everything but the shredded cheese right at the beginning. You can cook it on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. You can also totally make this in the oven as a casserole. Very versatile, always delicious.


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Best Keto Pancakes by Delish | One of the hardest parts of going low carb is dealing with the lack of bread and baked goods. Sometimes you just want pancakes. This recipe is so good that you may not notice they are Keto. My ten year old actually prefers them to other pancakes. The lemon zest is nice but not needed. Top with butter and a sugar free syrup and you will have no more problems in life.


Taco Salad |This was in my last post but we make it so regularly that it would be irresponsible not to share it again. This isn’t even a recipe guys. Brown some ground beef or turkey or whatever. Add taco seasoning. We like a McCormick blend that you can get in a giant bottle on Amazon. Or you can make your own, whatev. Next buy a bagged salad. I love to get those chopped salads that are more crunchy than others – there’s a bacon and blue cheese one that is my husband’s personal favorite. I usually buy some tortillas and let the kids have tacos with salad on the side while Dan and I just have a taco salad. Add slices of avocado if you can find a ripe one at the supermarket. Live your best life.


Keto Pizza – yes really | I think we found this one in a Reddit forum, I’m not entirely sure. I have the recipe written out on a sheet of paper so I’ll have to type it out for you but it’s so good that it’s totally worth it. This is more of a fork and knife kind of pizza if we are going to be honest. It’s a little different than a normal crust but it’s tasty enough that you won’t care. I recommend going very light on the sauce and not too nuts with the toppings if you want to eat this by hand.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix all the ingredients with a handheld mixer. Spread mixture into baking dish.
  3. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Cool for ten minutes before adding your toppings.
  5. Bake pizza with toppings for 8-10 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  6. Cool 5 minutes before serving

Bonus Recipe for a quick and delicious breakfast: This is another one of those not a recipe recipes that’s so easy but so delicious. Fry some shredded cheese into a circle on a cast iron skillet or whatever frying pan you like to use. Let it all meld together and solidify. Remove from skillet and fry some eggs to slide on top. Seriously. That’s it. Shockingly delicious and you never even knew your were missing this from your life but you are. You’re welcome.

If you have a favorite Keto friendly recipe for weekday nights, share it in the comments section.

Categories
cooking & recipes eats

5 Favorite Keto / Low Carb Recipes

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My husband started doing a Keto diet again in January and this time he seems committed to sticking to it long term. I’m incredibly proud of him for sticking with it. So last month I decided to stop stalling and give Keto a try also and then in my typical slacker style I settled into a compromise that is not Keto so much as Keto inspired. Because for me Keto long term feels too restricting and I want to do this long term, not for a month.

While my husband shoots for somewhere around 30-40 grams of carbs a day, I’m shooting for 100, which is still at least half of the amount I was consuming before. The big things for me are: no soda, no latte beverages, no desserts – 95% of the time anyway. I’m also avoiding starchy sides like bread, pasta, rice and everything joyful in the world. And when I totally fail, I forgive myself and start over at the next meal.

The biggest factor in making sure that my husband sticks with his goal and that I do my best to adhere to mine is dinner time. We can all make whatever choices we make throughout the day, but dinner has to follow the rules. This meant completely overhauling my recipe collection because like 75% of the recipes I was cooking rely heavily on things like pasta, potatoes and rice. Whomp whomp.

Over the last two months I’ve tried a lot of new recipes. Here are the 5 that have been the most successful in our home.

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana Soup at Gal on a Mission – This is like going to the Olive Garden and makes your house smell amazing. Cauliflower replaces potatoes as the star of the show. Incredibly satisfying.

Cheesy Taco Casserole at Kalyn’s Kitchen (great keto friendly blog) – You’re going to make friends with cauliflower rice with this dish. Tastes great, though we would add more taco seasoning than her recipe calls for. My husband is a Flavor Guy.

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole at Ruled Me (another keto blog) – All my husband had to hear was cream cheese, bacon and jalapeno peppers and he was like, “I’m there.” This recipe uses all the corner stones of not making Keto feel like you are being deprived. All the cheese, all the bacon. I used a whole package of chicken thighs when I made it instead of just two though.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala – This recipe isn’t labeled as low carb because normal people eat it with rice and naan – but served this stuff is so good that you won’t care you are having cauliflower rice with it. Lick the bowl good happening here.

Taco Salad for the Win – This doesn’t need a recipe but it gets made almost every week in our home so it has to be mentioned. Brown your meat, add taco seasoning. Top with cheese. Buy an awesome salad kit and pile the meat and cheese on top. Add an avocado because you love yourself. Sprinkle tortilla chips on your kids’ salads or let them make tacos and have salad on the side. This recipe is easy. This recipe is quick. This recipe always tastes good. Sometimes I use a taco salad kit. Sometimes I get a bacon ranch salad.

Alright Low Carb Peeps:

Share your favorite recipes in the comments section! 

 

 

Categories
cooking & recipes

Quick Fix: Chocolate Cake in a Mug 2.0

I think we’ve all had that emergency cake moment of weakness at this point. The desire for cake is too strong, but having a whole cake to contend with is an unwelcomed proposition. What’s a girl to do?

The scenario is so common that the internet is rife with cake in a mug recipes. Ree Drummond has a great one. I’ve made it several times and was perfectly content with this failproof solution… until last night when disaster struck. I was out of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Not to be defeated, I decided to try what seemed like the obvious substitution: using hot chocolate mix, because really, how bad could it be? The answer is: not bad at all. I simply omitted the sugar and didn’t go quite as nuts with the chocolate chips (I actually used peanut butter chips because I was already feeling like a rebel).

It’s nothing revelutionary but I figured I should share my findings in case anyone else finds themselves in my situation. Fear not, cake needing person: you can safely forge ahead with this substitution. The results were good enough that this was my best picture of the cake:

Here’s my update on Ree’s recipe:

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons powdered hot chocolate mix
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt, optional
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Splash vanilla extract, optional
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips, optional

Directions

  1. Mix the flour, cocoa mix, baking powder and salt in a microwave safe mug. Stir well.
  2. Add the milk, vegetables oil, vanilla extract and chocolate chips (or mix-ins of your choice). Stir again.
  3. Microwave on high for 90 seconds. Be careful removing from microwave, as mug may be hot to the touch. Let cake cool for 2-3 minutes before eating.

You can top your cake with other delicious things like whipped cream, ice cream, cherry pie filling or whatever toppings make your heart sing. This is your moment, go big or go home.

Categories
cooking & recipes eats reviews

4 Kitchen Life Savers.

It seems like every time I turn around there is a new gadget coming out that is supposed to make my life easier. My husband and I have been married for 10 years now so we’ve had 10 years to accumulate hype gadgets that our kitchen apparently can’t live without. Some prove to be lifelong kitchen companions and others take up space in my cabinets until I can convince myself to send it on its way.

My favorite kitchen tools are the ones that are there for every problem, every meal, every situation. The ones you feel like you might as well leave on the counter because you’ll need it again in less than 24 hours. Bonus points if they are pretty.

Here are 4 things helping me rule the kitchen right now.

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THE BEST PAN This Cuisinart 5 1/2 quart saute pan is my everything. I use it almost every day and it never fails me. This sucker is big – it’s capacity for all of the things means it’s a great all purpose pan. I can cook spaghetti in it or cook up all of the ground beef in the house. It is light weight so it heats up quickly meaning I don’t have to stand around waiting for it to get to temperature before I get to cooking already! And it cleans up so nicely – I let it soak for a few minutes after cooking and once it’s cool enough to touch I sing songs about how beautifully all of the grease and grime just washes away. Minimal elbow grease required.

518RCdwL1lLTHE SHORT CUT You guys , we need to talk about these cookie baking sheets because seriously where have they been all my life? I might be showing you just how lazy I am when I tell you that pre-cut parchment paper was a game changer for me, but seriously. It cuts down on the cleanup of my baking sheets like woah and means so much less elbow grease to get burnt off stains removed. Bonus points: They fit my favorite Nordicware baking pans perfectly.

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? I subscribed to Hello Fresh on a whim this winter when I was feeling the absolute depths of ugh in regards to “What’s for dinner?” I felt like I was running in a hamster wheel of the same five recipes and I was bored of all of them. So I clicked one of those ads on Facebook and gave it a whirl. Initially my husband was all kinds of “this costs how much?” and “what do you even need it for?” but then when our dinners started tasting waaaaay better and were also healthier he got on board.

Here’s a peek at some of the meals I’ve made:

Having the guess work taken out of 2-3 meals a week was so liberating – it has made it easier for me to step out of my culinary comfort zones. I’m a pretty Boxed Spaghetti cook (at least I used to be) so initially these recipes felt intimidating but the truth is they are not very hard to make. I just had to get used to actually prepping vegetables and cooking real food on the regular. I’ve started incorporating a lot of the recipes and food preparation methods into my other meals each week and it’s kind of awesome. I feel like I’m going to a private cooking school in my own home. If you have been thinking of signing up, click here for $40 off your first box!

41ZfxX57WhLAFTER DINNER Don’t forget to celebrate your successful domination of the kitchen tonight with a glass of your favorite wine. I just bought these Libbey Classic Wine Glasses and they are kind of the perfect wine glass. The stems are elegant but sturdy, the rim is slightly tapered which is supposed to enhance your wine drinking experience so you can drink fancy. It’s a nice size for red or white wine so you don’t need to make room for an army of breakable wine glasses in your cabinets.

What’s your favorite kitchen work horse item?

What kind of wine should I pour into my new wine glasses next?

Categories
cooking & recipes memes & carnivals

5 Crock Pot Recipes For the Win!

I have a love hate relationship with my crock pot sometimes. When it works well, it’s a life saver. But sometimes crock pot recipes make my life harder instead of easier and that seems like it’s defeating the purpose. I’m not looking for a new way to make my life difficult, you know?

But these five recipes have my Crock Pot Goals seal of approval. Easy, quick, more people than just me willingly ate it.

Wb86391e60552c04e2feca4b975fcecb6hen I told my husband I was making drumsticks in the crock pot, he was pretty sure I was crazy but they came out so good! And I’ve made this recipe multiple times now without screwing anything up. Minimal effort, delicious results. You will need to make side dishes, but sometimes the grocery store can hook you up with that kind of stuff. I recommend a bagged salad and some good bread.

0ba58b274dc247da038a94d42c0042baI just made these slow cooker stuffed peppers last week and I was really impressed with how they turned out. These are slightly more labor intensive than I would normally allow a slow cooker recipe to be. I had to cut the tops off some peppers and sautee some onion and garlic before stuffing everything and sticking them in the crock pot. That constitutes effort in my book. But the end result was delicious enough to be forgiven. Even my picky ten year old ate this one.

4c46eccabb96a16ce06a9b9a34dcb309If you want to make your husband feel all kinds of special, make him these maple and brown sugar pork tenderloins. The prep work is super easy. The hardest part is coming to terms with the cost of pork tenderloins. But we tend to have leftovers for days with this one, so you can kind of justify it under the guise of it feeding your family more than once. And the delicious.

806223This chicken and dumpling recipe is delicious. Sometimes I just make the soup part of the recipe, add some noodles at the end and cook biscuits on the side. That’s called versatility. You can also add a bag of frozen mixed veggies if you want to flex your mom muscles a bit. Or not. No judgement.

Okay this last recipe is for all of you saying, “but seriously. I have no time at all. Help a sister out.” I’ve got you. It’s called: Dump frozen chicken breasts into your crock pot. Add a big bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. Coat to cover. Cook on high from breakfast to dinner. Bagged salad, good bread. Done. Seriously, bagged salad and good bread can turn any dish into a meal your mother would approve of.

What are your favorite slow cooker meals?

(I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s writing workshop again. Check out her page for more great posts.)

Categories
cooking & recipes eats family fun

Adventures in Baking: Why my pants are too tight.

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Saturday was Dan’s birthday. He’s like an old man now and stuff. Or thirty. One of those. We celebrated by me trying not to drag him all over town running errands and by baking my first from scratch chocolate cake. Not one to mess around, I decided to make Valerie’s French Chocolate Cake that Smitten Kitchen blogged about a year and a half ago but I somehow never stopped dreaming about.

Guys, this cake is the stuff of dreams. Rich, chocolaty, moist, intense dreams like woah. Also her pictures are way better than mine, but in all fairness, I was using my cell phone in low lighting and my husband makes fun of me when I act like paparazzi over food stuffs. So.

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and that means I’m baking my weight in desserts. Hopefully I don’t literally double my body weight but with cookies this good there are no promises.

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I’m also making this apple pie and this peanut butter pie (except I’m just making the filling and calling it a dip) and these sweet potatoes. Where are my sweat pants again?

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Don’t worry, my husband is roasting brussels sprouts. So that makes the whole meal healthy again, right?

 

Categories
cooking & recipes family fun photography

apple picking, pretty flowers and bourbon apple pie.

apple picking

We took the kids apple picking a couple weeks ago at one of our favorite apple orchards. Historically, apple picking has not always been super fun. It’s a long, hilly walk and up until recently we always seemed to have a baby stroller and children in need of a nap. Add in hot weather and an unpredictable selection and well…

This year was better than most and we managed to hold our tempers in check long enough to get a bag filled to the brim with apples and some cute pictures of our kids to boot. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning!

flowers

Of course you can’t take me anywhere and expect me not to stop and take 900 pictures of flowers that other people probably walk by without ever even noticing. I was a happy instagrammer that day.

apple pie

I knew just the thing to do with all those apples. Ever since seeing this recipe for Bourbon Apple Pie @ A Beautiful Mess, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. It took me a week but I finally made it happen. Home made pie dough and everything!

This recipe was super easy to put together, especially if you have one of those handy apple peeler corer slicer dohookies. I’m so glad we bought one many moons ago, even if I only pull it out of the cabinet once every two years or so. It was supremely appreciated yesterday. And my house smells amazing and bourbony. So that’s cool, too.

flower power

Categories
cooking & recipes eats

Recipe: Andrea’s Clam Chowder

clam chowder

Lately my favorite place to store recipes is on Pinterest. I have a board for recipes I want to try – and another one for recipes that are all kinds of tried and true. It’s nice to be able to scroll through a bunch of meals that are known favorites in my family as I’m planning my menu for the week.

But some of my favorite recipes aren’t online and thus are un-pinnable! I’m trying to rectify this and I thought an easy solution would be to share some of them here.

Today I want to share with you a clam chowder recipe that I got from my my bestie, Andrea. She shared it with me awhile back and my life hasn’t been the same since. Sometimes I’ll call her in the grocery store to ask what kind of clams to buy again and what brands does she like and have I told her how much I love her lately.

me & andrea

Me and Andrea wayyyyy back when!

Ange and I go way back – we met at a bowling party for a mutual friend back in high school and were basically inseparable from that day forward. Though we live 1,500 miles apart now – we have one of those super easy friendships where we always pick up where we left off whenever we do get to see each other as if no time has passed at all. Love that.

In our hometown back in MA we have an annual Chowder Fest every year where restaurants and chefs from all over compete to make the best clam chowder. It’s a major summer event and before moving to Wisconsin I went basically every year – so although I’m probably not a clam chowder expert, I do like to think I have pretty high standards when it comes to my chowder. Seasoning and consistency are pretty important to me and I consider myself kind of a chowder purist – I like it simple and this recipe is simply delicious.

andrea's clam chowder

Andrea’s Clam Chowder

Makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 celery sticks
  • 1 1/4 lb potatoes
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1.5 tsp thyme (fresh use a little less than bottled)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 cans clam (1 minced, 2 chopped or whatever sounds good to you)
  • 8 oz clam juice
  • 1 quart heavy cream

Directions

  1. Slice 1/2 pound of bacon into small pieces, and fry in a large pot until crispy. Once crispy to the touch add in celery and onion (cut into small pieces so they will fit on a spoon.) Cook down until celery is looking translucent and is soft to the touch.
  2. Add seasoning to pot, more can be added if flavor is lacking at the end of all cooking. Stir mixture together until thoroughly seasoned. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until flour is coating all items in pan.
  3. Add 2-3 cans of clams (I usually do 1 minced and 2 chopped) and clam juice to pot.
  4. Concoction so far can be frozen for future preparation!
  5. In separate pot cook cubed potatoes (again, bite sized) until they are soft enough to eat, but not too soft that they will fall apart.
  6. Add potatoes (drained of all water) and heavy cream to large pot and cook until thoroughly warm. If chowder is thin then you can cook it for longer (it will thicken as it stands) or create a roux using melted butter and flour and adding it to the chowder which will help it thicken. To really make the flavor complete add 3 drops of hot sauce!

I love this clam chowder recipe – I hope you will, too!

Categories
cooking & recipes travel

The Cookie S’More: Camping’s New Best Friend.

the cookie s'more

I’m not sure when I first heard about the cookie s’more or if it was just a flittering whisper of genius in my brain one day, but it’s our new favorite camping recipe that you guys all need to know about.

The truth is: There is nothing complicated about making a s’more – it’s a tried and true recipe. So why change it?

“Ugh, all the graham crackers got smashed up in the box! I’ve got one whole one here and three angled chunks here… Hold on, let me see if I can perch these two together, no they don’t match…”

I got the wrong size chocolate bars – these are way too big for the graham crackers and they don’t have that little break off line… Does anybody have a knife on them?”

“The graham crackers got all randomly crumbly (her face seemed crumbling like pastries? what? Get out of my blog post, Ed Sheeran!) – hurry up and shove this burning hot s’more in your mouth before it falls in the dirt!”

It’s 900 degrees outside and all the chocolate is melted. Maybe we can just smear it onto the graham crackers? Oh, damn, they are broken, too. S’more parfait anyone?”

What? None of you have ever had any of these problems with s’mores before? Maybe I’m just inept at basic camp cooking (or dorm room cooking, I won’t lie) – but either way, once I discovered the cookie s’more there was no going back. The flavors, they are so heavenly – the assembly is so easy your three year old could do it (ack! fire! pointy sticks! Nevermind, I’ll assemble!) and plus, cookies.

The Cookie S’More Recipe

Cook Time: however long it takes to roast your marshmallow

Assembly Time: a few seconds

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • 2 cookies of your choosing, I prefer chocolate chip (Pepperidge Farms Soft Baked are fantastic)
  • 1 or 2 marshmallows depending on size and preference

Directions

  1. Roast marshmallows via method of your choosing. Stab them with a skewer and throw them over an open flame (if you are using a grill, remove the grate thingy first – you’re welcome). If you’ve never roasted a marshmallow, please enjoy this handy video from the yootoobs – or just wing it. It’s kind of hard to go wrong here.
  2. Once your marshmallow is browned to perfection, place it on top of a cookie and use the other cookie to sandwich it into place, carefully removing your skewer.
  3. If you can stand it, wait a few seconds before biting in – that marshmallow is hot!

The results, will be ooey and gooey with that perfect blend of chocolate, marshmallow and cookie flavor. Make some for the other people in your camping group or keep it your little secret and laugh ruthlessly, watching them make their own Old Fashioned, Sad and Pathetic S’Mores.

Don’t have an open flame handy? Place those cookies on a microwave safe plate, top one with a marshmallow and microwave for a few seconds until the marshmallow starts to expand – then top with the other cookie. Keep a close eye on the marshmallow though, nobody wants to clean exploded marshmallow out of a microwave.

What’s your favorite camping recipe? Your This is So Easy it Almost Doesn’t Deserve It’s Own Post Except It’s Genius Recipe?