Sides

Spinach Gratin (Keto Friendly)

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  I’m now a week into doing Keto/low carb diet and so far it’s been pretty good.  I felt like this past week I had way more energy and I didn’t feel like I was craving sweets as much as I thought I would.

This past week has been pretty much protein in the form of some type of meat and than a vegetable side or a salad.  I’ve been trying my best to make veggies taste like something I’d want to eat more often.  So far it seems to have been working.

I made this spinach recipe this weekend and it came out phenomenal.  It was my first time making it and I’m pretty impressed.  Hey I’ll give myself a little pat on the back from time to time.

This recipe is simple to make and can be made ahead of time.  Perfect for a rather quick side dish. This is thicker than an average creamed spinach which is why it’s more of a gratin.  Give it a try!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Spinach Gratin (Keto Friendly)

Ingredients:

16 oz organic frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid removed
6 oz cream cheese
6 T full fat ricotta cheese
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup +2T  grated parmesan or Romano cheese
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Heat a medium sauté pan on medium high heat.  Make sure that as much liquid as possible is removed from the spinach.  You can do this by putting in a strainer and using a spatula to press down on the spinach to remove the liquid.

Add the butter to the sauté, once it starts to melt, add in the garlic and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.   Next add in the spinach and mix.  To the mixture add in the cream cheese and break up and mix often.  Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally until the cream cheese is fully melted.  Remove from the head and stir in the ricotta and all the seasoning.  Taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking.  Lastly mix in the grated cheese, save 2 T for topping.

Spread mixture in a greased oven safe dish and top with remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese.  Bake at 375 for 20-25.

Note: This dish Is perfect to make ahead of time. If you refrigerator make sure to add another 15 minutes or so to the baking time.

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Before going into the oven!

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After baking

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Close up!

 

 

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Blue Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

Who doesn’t like potatoes? They are so versatile and can be transformed into so many delicious dishes. I especially love potatoes with my steak. Steak and potatoes are 2 of my favorite combinations. This past weekend I made my Mom’s Blue Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes. They are so delicious and so simple to make. She use to make them a lot while I was growing up for Christmas Eve but since have changed it up slightly. However, these are definitely about to make a comeback in my house.

Now I know blue cheese is definitely an acquired taste. Not everyone likes it. Feel free to use as much or as little of the blue cheese as you’d like. Or, you can skip it all together and use any other cheese just the same.

Give this recipe a try. It’s definitely great for a crowd and can be made ahead of time for dinner hosting. Less time in the kitchen when your guests arrive is always a bonus and it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Blue Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:
4 large russet potatoes
¾ cup sour cream
5 T melted butter
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (more or less depending on taste)
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Directions: Clean potatoes and poke holes in the top with a fork so the steam is able to escape. Bake potatoes in oven at 375° for 1 and ½ or 1 hour and 45 minutes. To make sure potatoes are done, you’ll want to stick a fork in them to make sure they go in easily without too much pressure.

Once cooked, remove potatoes from the oven and let cool till you are able to work hold them. Easily slice off the tops of the potatoes and scoop out the insides and add into a medium bowl. You will want to leave very little potato inside so the potatoes will hold their shape. Don’t go to deep as to tear the potato skin.

In the bowl of the potatoes add in sour cream, melted butter, blue cheese and season with salt and pepper. Mash with a fork to remove any lumps. You can also use a hand mixer if you’d like the really smooth and whipped texture. Once all mixed together you want to scoop the potato mixture back into the potato skins.

Place back in the oven at 375° for 30 minutes. Let sit a few minutes once you remove from the oven. So they can set. These are also great to make ahead of time. You can make the night before and put in the refrigerator until ready to use. Just add another 15-25 minutes cooking time as the potatoes will be cold when you bake them.

You can completely omit the potatoes skins all together if you are making for a large crowd. Just put the potato mixture into a deep oven safe dish and bake.

Note: My pictures only show 3 potatoes, that’s because one of them was not good. But this recipe is in fact for 4 potatoes.

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Simple Mexican Cauliflower Rice

Simple Mexican Cauliflower Rice

I’ve never been a big fan of cauliflower unless it was smothered with gooey cheese. However, while trying to eat Keto I’ve now become obsessed with making cauliflower rice.  I must say though I cheat a little and buy the frozen already riced cauliflower.  It honestly comes out just as good to me.  It’s a quicker and easier alternative.  Hey anything to save a mess, am I right?  Cutting up cauliflower is the worse! J

I’ve done a few different rice recipes but this one I just made is probably one of my favorites.  I made this to make a taco “bowl” instead of using white or brown rice.  Give it a try. It’s only a few ingredients and yet the flavor is fantastic.  See below for the taco “bowl” I made with the rice. I also put the recipe for all the items in the bowl.

Simple Mexican Cauliflower Rice
3 servings

Ingredients:
12 oz, frozen cauliflower rice
2 T Butter
½ – ¾ cup shredded cheese (I used Mexican mix)
¼ cup chunky salsa
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 t low sodium taco seasoning (more to taste)
½ t garlic powder
½ t onion powder
½ lime, juiced
½ T olive oil
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
Sprinkle salt and pepper

Directions: Cook cauliflower rice in the microwave according to package but reduce the cook time by 2 minutes.  Heat a medium sauté pan on high heat.  Add oil and let heat a minute before adding in the onion and garlic.  Sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add in the cauliflower rice, butter and taco season, garlic and onion powder.  Add the salsa and lime juice and stir.  Let cook covered 4-5 minutes.  Add the shredded cheese and mix until fully melted, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle in cilantro and serve immediately.

Skirt Steak Taco Bowl

Ingredients:
Mexican Cauliflower rice, (see recipe above)
9 oz cooked protein, ( I used skirt steak)
½ red onion, diced
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
½ cup shredded cheese
1 jalapeño, diced (remove seeds and membrane for less heat)
8 black olives, sliced
6 T guacamole
3 T sour cream
Optional: Tortilla chips for serving.

Directions: If you want low carb tortilla chips, bake your own using low carb tortillas. Cut tortilla into triangles, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake at 400 for 8-10 minutes.  Watch the chips close as they will get brown quickly.  Remove from the oven and let cool so they can crisp up.

To assemble your bowl, start with 4 oz of Mexican cauliflower rice, top with steak, and toppings. Serve with guacamole and sour cream on the side and tortilla chips for dipping. Enjoy!

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Mushroom Duxelle Lasagna

Who doesn’t like a nice cheesy lasagna? That’s exactly what we have here. It’s a cheesy lasagna with a yummy mushroom duxelle filling. The first time I made mushroom duxelle was for beef wellington. I loved it so much I decided to try to put in this dish. It came out delicious and I had to share.

For the record, mushroom duxelle is like a mushroom paste or mixture made from mushrooms, onions or shallots with herbs and usually sautéed in butter. If you enjoy mushrooms, this recipe is for you. I could seriously eat the mushroom duxelle right out of the pan.

Try this recipe for a different spin on lasagna.

Mushroom Duxelle Lasagna

8-12 lasagna noodles, boiled al dente
20 oz mushrooms, (I used white button)
1 shallot, rough chopped
2 garlic cloves
2 t fresh parsley
2 T butter
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
2 t dried basil
15 oz ricotta cheese
¾ cup shredded Italian cheeses, (I used a lasagna mix)
8-10 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced evenly
3/4-1 cup tomato sauce, (Any kind of your choice, more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Extras:
Cooking spray
Large loaf pan

Directions: Preheat oven to 375°. In a food processor add mushrooms, garlic and shallot. Pulse until very finely chopped. Season mixture with fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

Heat a medium sauté pan on medium heat. Add the butter until it melts, then add in the mushroom mixture and cook on medium high heat mixing often until all the water cooks out. This may take 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl add the mushroom mixture, ricotta, garlic and onion powder and basil and mix well. Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Completely spray the large loaf pan with cooking spray. Spoon some sauce on the bottom of the pan, add 2 lasagna noodles to bottom and top with sprinkle of shredded cheese next add the mushroom mixture evenly and add 2-3 slices of fresh mozzarella lengthwise. Top with a little sauce and add lasagna noodles and complete the steps with the remaining ingredients. You should end with the fresh mozzarella and sauce.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil, bake in the oven 35-45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.

Let the lasagna sit 10-15 minute for it to settle before cutting and serving. Serve with garlic bread.

Notes: Use whatever mushrooms you have on hand, it’s delicious even if you use regular button mushrooms. Feel for to use more or less sauce. I like less sauce so I don’t use too much. You can double this recipe and make it in a larger pan. I choose to make in a large loaf pan because I was only making enough for 1 meal for 2 people. Make sure to get as much water out of the mushrooms as possible so it won’t affect the lasagna. In a pinch you can use no boil lasagna noodles. Just bake the lasagna according to the package.

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Romano Cheese Roasted Red Potatoes

These roasted red potatoes are the perfect side dish for any meal.  They are quick to make and come out delicious!  I love potatoes.  There are so many potatoes out there along with even more ways to cook them.  These are simple to make and a great add with any dish or just eat them right out of the bowl (I may or may not have done that. 🙂 )

Roasted Red Potatoes

Ingredients:
6-8 medium size red potatoes, washed and quartered
2 T olive oil (more if needed)
3 T butter, melted
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried rosemary
3 T Romano cheese, grated (optional)
Salt: to taste
Pepper: to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°.  Add potatoes to a baking dish.  Melt butter in a small bowl, add in rosemary, garlic and onion powder and sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Drizzle oil and butter over the potatoes and bake in oven 15-20 minutes.  Mix potatoes and bake another 15-20 minutes.  Add more oil if needed.  Remove from oven and season with salt and pepper and toss with Romano cheese and enjoy.

Notes: Cooking times will vary based on ovens. If you want them crisper keep them in longer, if you just want them cooked through adjust the oven times accordingly.  Feel free to use more oil.  I do feel like it helps with the crispy exterior.

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Zucchini Fries

I LOVE zucchini. It’s one of my favorite vegetables. My Mom’s always made sautéed zucchini with onions and butter and I’ve always loved it. Over the years I’ve tried to think outside the box and do something different since I love this ingredient so much.

I’ve used zucchini in everything from pasta to eggs. I first made these zucchini fries a few years ago when I was being healthy and had a craving for something salty and crunchy. Since I was dieting I couldn’t just have the French fries I wanted so I decided to try zucchini fries. They came out delicious. I baked them the first time I made them.

The zucchini fries I made today I actually fried. I fried in a little oil and let drain on a paper towel. They came out amazing. I used mini zucchinis I found at the store but I usually use regular size ones. Either will work. Check it out!

Zucchini Fries

Ingredients:
2 zucchini cut into fries or wedges or 8-10 mini zucchini cut in half
1/2 cup flour
1- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 eggs, whisked
2 T Romano cheese, grated
1/2 T garlic powder
1/2 T onion powder
1/2 T Italian seasoning
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oil for frying
Ranch dressing to serve (optional)

Directions: Make a breading station. Add whisked eggs to a bowl and add breadcrumbs with seasoning and cheese to a 2nd bowl. In a large zip lock bag add the flour and the pieces of zucchini. Shake the bag until the zucchini is coated with the flour. (Note: you can also do this step in a bowl.)

Bread the zucchini. Remove from flour, dip in egg and then coat in breadcrumb. Finish with all pieces and set aside. (You can bread all the zucchini and then put in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to help the breading stay on when frying.) Note: The breading doesn’t stay overly well on the skin side of the zucchini so it’s not abnormal for the breading to be coming off.

Heat a large sauté pan, Add in frying oil to cover the bottom and about 1 inch deep. Let heat up. You can use more oil if you want. I didn’t want to use too much. To check if you oil is hot enough you can drop a drop of water and make sure it sizzles or you can put the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and make sure there is bubbles coming from where the spoon is (This was a trick from Culinary School.)

Once the oil is ready start frying your zucchini in batches. Don’t over crowd the pan or that will bring down the temperature of the oil and you won’t get a nice golden and even fry.Cook for 2 minutes and flip over. If your using bigger pieces, you may need to cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel. Continue with remaining pieces. You can add the zucchini to a baking sheet pan and place in a low oven, about 325° degrees to keep warm. This is a great idea if your making a lot at one time. Season the zucchini fries with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Notes: Don’t forget to put on a paper towel after you take out of the oil. If you skip this step your zucchini may get very soggy due to the oil absorbing in the zucchini. Season with salt once you take out of the oil because then the salt will stick to the fries better. Serve with ranch dress if you’d like.

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Black Bean & Corn Salad

Tonight I made a black bean corn salad to go with my main entree.  While trying to be healthy I really try and make other sides that aren’t just your typically potato or rice sides.

That’s what I did here tonight.  It’s pretty basic but you can definitely add other flavors.  I used what I had on hand.

Black Bean & Corn Salad

15 oz black beans, (rinsed) (I used no salt)
1 cup frozen corn
1 T lime juice
1 T olive oil
3 T cilantro, chopped
1 small jalapeño, diced (remove seeds for less spice)
3 T red onion, chopped
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
1 t chili powder
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:  Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well.  Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
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