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! 

 

 

Let’s Talk About: Candy

One of the prompt’s for this week’s Writer’s Workshop (hosted by the always brilliant Mama Kat) jumped out at me as being of critical importance. It’s timely and perhaps controversial but now more than ever we have to talk about… candy. I know – it’s bold of me to even go there and act like I could just casually name 8 of my favorites like why would Rolos be more important than Peppermint Patties – who am I to make these judgments? But guys we have to talk about this stuff – it’s imperative that we are clear and honest with each other about what candies we want and what candies we don’t want. If I don’t tell you my needs, how can you ever hope to meet them?

So I’m going to talk to you about what I like and if you want to keep this conversation going then meet me in the comments section. Tell me what you like and what you dislike. Let’s get real with each other… about candy.

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Eight of My Favorite Candies.

  1. Nama Chocolate “Au Lait” by Royce Chocolates | I first had these while on vacation in Vegas with my hubby and they quite plainly blew my mind. Like “Why has chocolate been lying to me my whole life?” kind of mind-blowing. These need to be refrigerated when you aren’t gorging yourself on them so plan ahead and save me some, okay?
  2. Good licorice | I won’t lie – I’ll go to town on any old stale bag of Twizzlers after a long day but they pale in comparison to actual licorice. I like a nice soft licorice and typically prefer the red to the black licorice but I’m unlikely to turn down either if it’s the good stuff.
  3. Toffee | My teeth are in an abusive relationship with toffee. I try to keep them away from each other but once or twice a year they seem to find their way back to each other. It’s a torrid affair.
  4. Marzipan | This stuff rocks my world. Pretty much almond paste, in general, completes me – I like the cute little candies that look like tiny fruit or the chocolate bar with a layer of marzipan in the middle. And those princess torte cakes wrapped in marzipan? hold me.
  5. Reese’s peanut butter cups or pieces | Or frankly any combination of chocolate and peanut butter. It’s like my guaranteed winning combo.
  6. Kinder Chocolates | My grandfather used to send me these from Germany and I still light up when I see them at my local World Market. There is something magical about these little chocolate bars.
  7. Homemade truffles | There’s this little coffee shop down the street that I sometimes stop in pretty much ONLY to get one of the little chocolates that the owner’s wife makes for the store. I mean their coffee is good, too, but that little piece of 25 cent candy is on another level shut the front door good. Sometimes I want to buy the whole tray and have a moment.
  8. Cookie Dough Bites | These are my movie theater candy of choice and for some reason, nobody else ever seems as excited about them as me which is great because more for me. Some days when I’m feeling healthy or something I go for raisinets because fruit but truthfully this just ends in me wishing I’d gotten cookie dough bites.

So those are my eight – what would be on your list?

Tell me your faves in the comments section!

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?

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?

 

DIY: Making homemade labels for our spice jars.

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We’ve been storing our spices in a couple of cardboard boxes pretty much since the day we moved into our first apartment all those years ago. It started with one box and as our cooking skills grew we added another box – one for baking and one for cooking basically. But the boxes were impossible to organize – you’d take one jar out and the others would fall over or shift which meant alphabetizing them was a lost cause. This resulted in “Why do we have 3 bottles of cinnamon?” or “I know we have rosemary around here somewhere, but I can’t find it.”

After eight years of marriage and owning more cinnamon than we probably know what to do with, I decided it was time to try something else. The thing is – we’ve been looking for the perfect spice rack for years and never found one worth taking up the counter space. I.e. We’re picky. I don’t like those rotatey spice racks and didn’t want to live with the spices they thought we wanted.

We finally settled on 12 of these spice jars from World Market that were $1 each (sold online in packs of 6) along with this metal spice rack for just $10 that can either be hung on a wall or cabinet door or just placed on a counter if you have the room. World Market has a ton of different jar styles by the way. These were by far the plainest they had but that kind of appealed to us. You could also totally just keep your spices in the jars they came in and put them in the rack, but we were loving the idea of uniformity so we splurged on new jars. In the long run, we’re probably going to need another rack and more jars to hold the rest of our spices but this got us started with the spices we seem to use most often.

So we had our jars and a rack and we found a home for it that we could live with – now we just needed to pick twelve spices to move into the rack and label the jars. We were originally thinking of picking out labels in a store but didn’t find any we liked. Then we were going to use a sticker or label maker to make our own and went through the whole mental process of figuring that out, when my husband found this link to a tutorial for making your own labels using a laser printer and packing tape! I was skeptical but it totally worked! Head over to The Proper Pinwheel for further instruction on making the labels.

I designed my labels using PicMonkey which is an awesome online photo editor / graphic designer that is available for free though there are a lot of spiffy extras for people who pay for a Royale Membership (totally worth it, in my opinion). This label took me about five minutes to design. Feel free to steal it as long as you use it for good and not evil:

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Now you just need words. You could add the font for the label right on picmonkey if you want (and they have a lot of beautiful fonts) but I was worried that this would be tedious to then save 12 different images and then compile them all onto one page. In an effort to save time, I saved the logo above and then copied and pasted it 12 times into a LibreDraw file. LibreOffice is basically Microsoft Office but open source (i.e. free). I tried doing this in a word document and it was really difficult to get the text to line up where I wanted it. Helpful Hubby recommended the Draw program which let me make text boxes that I then positioned over each label.

Which method would have been faster in the end? I’m not sure. Either way, I finished the whole process in under and hour, printed the page and then we used the methods shared at The Proper Pinwheel to turn the laser printed page and packing tape into beautiful, homemade labels for our new spice jars.

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We are both really thrilled with the end result. The labels are so special to us because we designed them ourselves, making them truly unique and we love that if we want to use a bottle for a different spice, the label is just packing tape so it should be easy to remove (and it’s pretty water proof, too!). And having the spices right where we want them and finally, finally alphabetized is making it so much nicer to cook.

Organization never tasted so good!

 

Eat it For Breakfast Cake: with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

strawberry, blueberry, raspberry cake

Four years ago I was participating in Project 365 where you are challenged to take at least one photo every day for a year. I did this for two or three years – it was hard and fantastic and frustrating and inspiring. I think it improved my photography immensely (which is not to say that I’m an expert now, just better than I was before) and I also met some cool people and learned some cool things.

One of the women whose photography I just loved – and it’s been so long now that I can’t even remember her name – traveled with her husband each summer to their vacation home in Nova Scotia (I think). Her photos of this town absolutely drew me in to her world – their summer cat who seemed to show up at their door every year without fail; the amazing festivals and town events that always seemed to be going on; her friendships there and the easy way of life that she was enjoying. Basically, I want to be her when I grow up.

Another thing she shared with us was this cake which she made often for friends or just for breakfast. It’s a highly adaptable cake that works well with any fruit you have on hand. I first made it with blueberries and more recently I made it for BB’s 5th birthday party last month. It was the perfect cake for the day because we were having a morning party so something that felt more like breakfast was called for. And the friends we shared this cake with are those laid back easy friendships that make me feel like we’ve found a touch of that Novia Scotia lifestyle that I dream of right here at home. Here’s the recipe so you can enjoy it with your favorite friends, too.

Eat it For Breakfast Cake

Best Served with good friends and whipped cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fruit – I used a mixture of chopped strawberries, blueberries and raspberries but you can use whatever you have on hand.
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (Don’t have buttermilk? Use a scant 1/2 cup of milk and a 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice and let it sit for 5-10 minutes)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9 inch pie plate or cake pan (or use that awesome baking cooking spray from Pam).
  3. Prepare your fruit (berries can be left whole, slice any larger fruit) and set aside.
  4. Beat butter & sugar. Add vanilla, egg and salt.
  5. Add flour, baking powder & baking soda; mix well.
  6. Add buttermilk. Pour into pie plate. Top with fruit.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Cool a bit and enjoy!

blowing out the candles