Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Team Meet the Heat Chili Cookoff Chili!

Look at that gorgeous shade of red!

I occasionally become a randomly freakishly competitive person.

Randomly in that I will be struck by some odd thing at which I MUST EXCEL AND NOT ONLY EXCEL BUT CONQUER WITH ABSOLUTE SUPREMACY.  I guess I just showed the level of freakishness. I can't predict when this will hit, and I can't tell you how amused I am with myself when it does.

When Tom emailed me from his office a few weeks ago with news of a chili cookoff, the old bug hit, and I knew it was going to be an epic battle.  Perhaps it's because I'm still sad that I didn't even place at the last church chili cookoff.  Apparently my chili was too hot.  That doesn't make sense to me at all.  1) We are in Texas.  2) It wasn't that hot. 3) It's a chili cookoff--isn't hot part of the goal?! 4) It's TEXAS.  I do need to say that there were some serious contenders in that cookoff, so I can't cry too hard.  But still.  I was dishonored. So now I sought glory not only for Tom (I mean what better bragging rights at a British company than the best ever chili?) but also foodie redemption for myself.



I, in spite of my fervor, did not win the chili cook off.  The chili that won was a chicken chili with beans and capers.  CAPERS?!?!  The judges were British, fwiw, and I suppose I didn't pander to my audience enough.  Sigh.

But redemption DID come when we took a dish of this to friends who returned from a mission trip abroad.  The next week at church, one of them exuded that it was the BEST. CHILI. EVER. with those big eyes that mean business.  Since these are well-traveled people with excellent food taste, I will consider this an unofficial chili cook off victory.

Official victory will be achieved one day soon!

Be prepared: this is a multi-hour adventure.  But cooking is therapy!  And I have made it as time-efficient as possible.

Ingredients, grouped by prep
10 jalapenos
4 poblanos
4 anaheim peppers
2 serrano peppers
1 onions, sliced into broad rounds
6 cloves garlic, separated but not peeled

1 lb dried chilis (I used .5 lb ancho, .3 lb guajillo, .2 lb pasilla)

1 small can chipotles
2 c beef broth

5 lbs beef
4 T bacon grease
4 T cocoa powder
2 T cumin
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 T oregano
2 dashes cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 T almond butter
4 T tomato paste
1 bottle beer (Shiner, of course)
1 c coffee
3 cans fire roasted tomatoes
2 cans rotel
1 jar roasted green peppers
1/4 c masa

Step 1: preheat oven to 400.  Wash peppers.  USE GLOVES for the next part.*  Cut jalapeños in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds, do same with serrano.  Put all as well as sliced onion and garlic cloves on oiled cookie sheet and put in oven.  Let cook 15 minutes.

In the meanwhile, snap stems off dried peppers and shake out seeds.  USE GLOVES NO REALLY USE GLOVES.*  I found it easiest to snap the top off, stick my index finger in and scrape the seeds out that way. Too many seeds=too hot chili later.  This took me just a minute over 15 minutes.  Put peppers on a cookie sheet in single layer.

At 15 minute point, take the cookie sheet with garlic and onion out of oven.  Flip onion, remove garlic, put back in oven.  If other (fresh) peppers are not sufficiently charred, put them back in oven. I had to roast another 20 minutes.  Put dried peppers in oven for 2 minutes--no more or they will burn! Take them out, put them in a giant pyrex bowl and cover with water as hot as it comes from your tap.  Put a plate on them to weigh them down.  Let them sit 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse (here's where the dust comes off)

At this point, you should have the dried peppers, garlic, and jalapeños ready (plus other peppers).  Put 3 jalapeños, 3 cloves garlic (which you can now just squish out of their wrappers), 1/2 can chipotles, 1/2 onion, 1 c broth into a food processor.  Put in half of the dried/reconstituted peppers.  Pulse until you can puree it.  I had to wrap it in a towel to keep it from splashing.  Pour into pyrex bowl, repeat with other half onion, peppers, 1 c broth, 1/2 can chipotle, 3 jalapeños and 3 cloves garlic.  Pour into bowl.

Start beef browning in pot with bacon grease.  (I did this in two parts; accordingly, put in half of each ingredient if you do so) While it's browning, peel and chop the anaheim and poblano chiles.  Put them in the bowl with the massive amount of chile puree.  After beef is mostly cooked through, add cocoa powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and oregano.  Let mingle.  Add in almond butter.  Add in beer, tomatoes and rotel and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the beer no longer smells of alcohol.  Add in the coffee, giant vat of puree and chopped peppers and jar of roasted peppers.  Add in masa. Stir well to mix, and cook at least 30 minutes more.  Let sit on the stove to fill your house with delicious aroma.

All said and done, it takes about 2-3 hours, but some of that is wait and stir time.  Not too bad for a dish that will keep on giving!

*If you should get pepper juice/oil/magma on your hands, use alcohol to scrub them thoroughly.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 160 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
274
Calories from Fat
99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
11.1g
17%
Saturated Fat
4.0g
20%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
85mg
28%
Sodium
287mg
12%
Total Carbohydrates
11.3g
4%
Dietary Fiber
3.5g
14%
Sugars
4.8g
Protein
30.1g
Vitamin A 141%Vitamin C 19%
Calcium 3%Iron 105%
Nutrition Grade A-
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Corndogs-- low carb and grain free



There was one word for me at the State Fair this year: underwhelmed.  Yep, that's right.  It was a classic case of the philosophy principle (and bonus point for you if you know who said it and leave a comment!) that indicates that expectation is the purest/highest form of pleasure you can attain because the reality never measures up.

Alternately, the fair just legitimately had an off year.

For me, it came down to the food, though the fact it was POURING RAIN probably did not help. Thankfully, I am really into food and had mapped out what I wanted to eat and where it was, for the most part.  I was there with Tom and my friend Ben, and they are both SUCH good sports.  We were mostly content as we hid in the GMC insta-building with their sales people (no sir I do NOT WANT a 65k SUV I could never drive or park, kthnxbye) before ducking into the food court.  Besides, who are we kidding.  We came to see the butter sculpture, the award-winning knitted pieces a friend of mine had made, and the food.

Oh, glorious food court.  It held much promise... and many people.  The folks who would normally be getting their photos with Big Tex or riding the ferris wheel (both worthwhile ventures at the State Fair) were all huddled inside the steaming building.  We happily found two dishes I wanted-- the fried elotes and the fried shrimp and grits-- which for me proved to be the two good dishes of the day, though the shrimp and grits could have been shrimpier.  Props, mad props to the elotes vendors!  Tom and Ben both wanted to try the cuban roll, which was this year's winner.  I am a fussy pants, and I DON'T like rain, especially in my food (wet fried food? NO), so I was not keen on getting anything that was from outside the dry building.  Tom was more of a champ, and off he went to the Cuban Roll stand 20 yards outside the door.  He came back with 2 Cuban Rolls... which were each very small eggrolls.  The mojo sauce was decent, but the roll mostly tasted like pulled pork.  Pickles, ham, cheese, anything else... nope.  Just pork.  Later we had fried nutella, which was pretty much a teaspoon (A FREAKING TEASPOON) of nutella in puff pastry, and avocado fries, which came with a weird cumin sauce, an excessive amount of breading/lack of seasoning and none of the toppings promised in the menu.  These last three had been a huge impetus for fair food fantasizing, and they all fell short.

False advertising, people, will make me madder than anything.  I don't mind *reasonably* small portions at the fair-- I know there's a huge sunk cost just to be there.  But give me something tasty that is how you describe it, and while small is acceptable, insultingly so is not!  Keep in mind that each dish at the fair is 5-7 dollars, so it's not like I'm asking the moon for $2.

ANYWAY.

One of the fair staples is a corn dog, but I'd spent all my money on the fancy foods and was therefore out of luck.  Perhaps that's the deeper message I should learn from that day-- don't be seduced by flash-in-the-pan magic that is too good to be true.  Stick with the time-proven winners.  But then again, a few years ago I had the fried chicken and waffles, and THAT WAS DELICIOUS.

I digress.

Corndogs!  I serve mine with the classic French's yellow mustard, but you are welcome to fancy pants it up and use Dijon.  And, because I'm not only not a fancy pants with this but also a lazy pants, I baked instead of fried.

4 hot dogs
4 popsickle sticks
1 c almond flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 packet sweetener
1/2 tsp salt
2 egg
2 T cream

Skewer those hot dogs-- it's not a good idea to skewer as you go since your hands will be covered in goo.  Trust me.  Mix dry ingredients.  Mix in eggs and cream and use water to thin if necessary to achieve somewhat thicker than pancake batter consistency.  Dip hot dog in and slather it in nutty goodness.  Put hot dog on cookie sheet, bake at 350 15 minutes or until golden brown.  This batter was perfect for 4 costco hotdogs.

These... are not light.  But when you gotta scratch an itch....  Plus, these are costco hot dogs, which means big, and Tom and I wanted a second but were fine with one.

Per corndog: 400 calories, 5 carbs, 34 fat, 18 protein.  Not for the faint of heart.



Friday, October 25, 2013

Guatemalan Green Stew

In the winter (or at least when we hit temperatures under 80, which is practically winter in Texas), I love me a good stew.  They fill your home with a warm smell, act as humidifiers and provide lots of meals.

Tom and I just polished off the vast amount of chili (a 6 quart crockpot and a giant stewpot full....) I made while perfecting our recipe for his office chili cookoff, so you might think we would want something light and fluffy like a salad.

But it's cold, and in the cold, I don't eat salads.

So what's a girl who needs a break from heavier meals but is still in need of serious eats that are warm and cozy?

A chicken and veggie stew!  But really, this one is so much more exciting than the progresso taste-alikes you get when you toss tomatoes, zucchini, onion etc into a pot.  This one comes from Guatemala and uses pepitas and sesame seeds to give it heft and, obviously, nuttiness.  They thicken and provide an excellent texture, too!  The veggie component is cilantro, tomatillos, peppers, and onions, and it somehow still something very different from your classic tex mex stew.

Plus it's dead simple.  No fancy spices. Every ingredient is available in the standard grocery store.  You only need a blender or food processor. Pretty much 10 minutes prep time.  Provides 8 servings.  Boom.

The original recipe over at Panning the Globe was much better about doing things in a slow, methodical, proper way.  The first time I made this stew, I followed his directions and it was perfect.  This time, though, I... didn't do that.  I used jalapenos instead of bell peppers and roasted all the veggies instead of sauteeing them.  I also just blended everything together willy nilly instead of in nice little batches.  It was still delicious, but the roasting also made it a little more mellow, a little deeper.  If you want fresh brightness, go with the original or add some lime juice.  If you like your veggies charred, make it like so:

6 jalapenos
1.5 lbs tomatillos (or equivalent canned tomatillo, available in Hispanic foods aisle)
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic still in their outer casing
1/2 c pepitas, roasted and salted
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 c roasted sesame seeds
2.5 lbs chicken thighs

Slice onion into 1/2 inch rounds.  Halve and seed jalapenos.  Wash up your tomatillos and if you have any HUGE ones, cut them in half.  Roast all of the above at 450 for about 25 minutes, taking the garlic out at the 15 minute mark. While that roasty goodness is going on, put your chicken in a large pot and blitz the pepitas and sesame seeds for 15ish seconds in a food processor.  Pour the seeds over the chicken.  Now attend to the garlic. (Nifty trick: your garlic should have split its casing and can be simply squeezed into your food processor!)  Put it in food processor.  When other ingredients are roasted, add them to food processor.  Everything is getting pulsed pretty well, so don't worry about putting all the tomatillos together or only the jalapenos or whatnot.  Just fill it up as much as you can, blend, dump into pot on top of chicken, add more stuff to processor and go again.  Once all of your veggies are on top of your chicken, add broth until chicken is covered and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook 30 minutes til whenever.  I too the chicken out and shredded it after about 45 minutes, returned it to the pot, and served. Serve with lime, avocado, and cilantro if you'd like.

Nutrition:
306 calories, 5 net carbs, 22g fat, 37 g protein.  Cost per serving: $1.15

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pumpkin "Loaf"



There was a time when I would buy a Starbucks pumpkin loaf piece every week and SAVOR. EVERY. BITE.

I even had a method.

First, I'd eat the corners and the edges along the sides and bottom.  These were good, but they were not the best parts.  They are sort of like the lights dimming before a good theater show.

Then, slowly, eat the tender center of the loaf, where it's almost gooey and magically fudgy.

The finale, of course, is eating the top crust, whose moisture was maintained by the crunchy pepitas.  Pepitas=fireworks in this finale.  Little pops of salty goodness to counter the spicy sweetness.

What?  I'm the only one who did that?  Well, y'all are missing out.

In keeping with the MASSIVE amount of pumpkin I had remaining from last year's pumpkin roasting (and in a desperate attempt to justify another roasting this year), I took a crack at this pumpkin bread recipe from sparkpeople.  Suffice to say, I should have read the comments first.  The batter was watery, the comments reflected the product was more custardy... so I doubled the protein powder, added in some almond meal, adjusted my sweetener/liquid components and made a wish on the pumpkin loaf fairies.  Thankfully, they were listening:-)

Notes: It is still REALLY RUNNY BATTER so I went with using it in a 9X13 pan as recommended (yet the photo is clearly of a loaf, liars liars....), making this look more like sheet cake than a loaf.  Whatevs.  That meant also that pepitas were less possible at the beginning of baking-- they would sink.  If you want to add them as an upper crust, do so about halfway through.

1 can pumpkin (or about 2 cups of your own puree)
1 c protein powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vinegar
2 c almond meal
1.5  c almond milk
5 eggs
12 packets purevia (I go light on sweetener; normal recipe calls for 3/4 c agave syrup, do what you want)
3 T pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
1/2 c pepitas (for topping)

325. Mix (except pepitas). Pour. Bake 60ish min or until passes the toothpick test. Cool.  Ice.  Eat.

If no pepitas, use a cream cheese icing if you'd like (and you'd like).  Heck, use it under the pepitas. Yes.  That.  Do that.

Cream cheese icing (SUPER EASY, not even a recipe, stupid good)

1 block cream cheese
1 stick butter
4-5 packets purevia

Soften cream cheese and butter.  Mix together, mix in sweetener to taste.

Nutrition stats:
12 pieces (generous servings!), including cream cheese icing, each:
370 calories, 29 grams fat, 17 grams protein, 5 grams carbs

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Of pumpkin bread and being a snotface



Not too long ago, I saw a blog post where someone posted about having made an egregious error while making pumpkin bread.  They accidentally put CUMIN in.  What?  Who DOES that?  Do they not read?  Have they not heard the adage "measure twice, cut once?"

Seriously.

So I dismissed it, clucked my tongue, and went on with life.

Today, I decided to make good use of the pumpkin hanging out in my fridge and started throwing things into my mixer.  I grabbed my spice jar and was generously pouring it in when a pungent, warm aroma rose up to my nose from the bowl beneath.

Cumin.

I kid you not.

So, let that be a lesson on judging others.  Don't.

I fished out as much cumin as I could, recompensed the bowl with some almond butter, and went about my way. Don't tell Tom.  I could swear I got a whiff of cumin as I nervously inspected the bread, but overall it was a resounding success.  A little eggy, but good, moist, and absolutely hit the spot

As for the recipe, I found it a long time ago.  I don't know when, I don't know where.  All I know is that I tucked it away for safe keeping and happened upon it this weekend when I wanted to make muffins or pumpkin loaf with my remaining pumpkin puree.  Plus, it used almond butter, and I was curious about this whole "butter to bread" thing that I've seen lately.  What better way to try than with scrumptious pumpkin quick bread?????

I did some googling and couldn't find the exact recipe that inspired me, and that was unfortunate not only for giving credit but because I therefore didn't know what temperature to set my oven not in what size pan to put the bread.  Oops.  But I made do, put the oven to 325 and cooked it for 30 minutes to start, being satisfied at 40 minutes. 

Ingredients:
1 cup almond butter
3 eggs
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup honey/maple syrup (or be like me and use 1/3 c almond milk and 5 packets truvia)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp PUMPKIN PIE SPICE  (please read the label, for me.  Laugh at me if you must, but laugh while reading)
A handful of chocolate chips

Mix all except the chocolate chips in a bowl with a hand mixer or a stand mixer, pour into loaf pan, toss chips on, bake at 325 for 35-40 minutes.


Using 8 as your serving size, caloriecount.com tells me you get this (without chocolate chips)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1/8 recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories
253
Calories from Fat
196
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
21.8g
33%
Saturated Fat
4.3g
22%
Cholesterol
61mg
20%
Sodium
332mg
14%
Total Carbohydrates
8.1g
3%
Dietary Fiber
2.0g
8%
Sugars
1.2g
Protein
9.2g
Vitamin A 65%Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 10%Iron 11%
Nutrition Grade C+
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Low Carb Grain-free Pad Thai!!!!

My home smells like an exotic, savory get away.  I just keep breathing deeply and enjoying the joy of my own, homemade pad thai that is low carb and amazing.

Yes, you read right.  Homemade, low carb pad thai.  I used kelp noodles to approximate pho last winter, and they are back to star in this dish.  Just a tad firmer than rice noodles, kelp noodles are a fabulous substitute.  They don't take the prettiest photo, but they do taste delicious!

This is really simple to pull together, too!  It's full of easy to find ingredients, it tastes fresh but deep, and it's ready in a jiff.  What more can you ask for?

By the way, this serves four with big heaping helpings that come out to 6 net carbs per serving when using tofu as the protein.

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1/4 c tamarind paste
1/4 c fish sauce
4 packets truvia
1/4 c peanut butter (not necessarily part of the usual dish, but I didn't have any chopped peanuts to garnish and wanted the peanutty flavor)
sizeable squirt of sriracha

The rest:
giant pack of kelp noodles
3 cloves garlic, pressed
4 T coconut oil
protein of choice (chicken, beef, tofu)
2 eggs
4 green onions, chopped
a few spring cilantro, chopped

*I have heard that you can soak kelp noodles in a slightly acidic water bath for 30 minutes to get them to soften up.  I personally have had good luck just boiling them for 30 minutes.

1) Soften noodles.  Give them a few snips since they seem to be one glommed up big noodle.
2) Sautee garlic in coconut oil. Add protein and cook through. Remove to plate.
3) Toss sauce ingredients in large pot.  Mix until well blended.  Toss in noodles, 
4) Scramble an egg into the noodles by pushing the noodles to one side of pot and cracking eggs into the empty space. Mix into the noodles.
5) Add in protein.  Add in cilantro and take off the heat.  Serve.  Indulge.  Enjoy.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Low carb, gluten-free pizza crust that actually bubbles and chews!


Not 3 days ago, I cooked a dish that just might revolutionize my baking regime.

I know, I know, I make grand statements all the time, but I'm still in that discovery/exploratory state of wonder when it comes to low carb eating.  It's like I'm five years old again and experiencing my first snow!  Every time I find out a healthier way to make something that I had resigned myself to never/rarely eating again, I feel like I have cheated death and gotten a gift from Santa all at once.

Today, it's pizza.  I'm sure you're rolling your eyes.  After all, I have made cauliflower and almond flour and chicken pizza crusts before, and I declared them great, and I still think they're great.  But, they're more like delicious dishes that aren't quite pizza.  This is pizza.

Top: See that gorgeous golden color!
Bottom: Trying to show the crust detail.  There were bubbles, man!

Some people on low carb say "no man, it's the TOPPINGS I loved!  I just didn't realize it until I got rid of the crust.!"  I am not one of them.  I don't care if they have found their true pizza desires or if they are knee deep in denial, I need a crust.

This recipe comes on the heels of that amazing coffee cake, and they share the same secret ingredient: unflavored whey protein.  After seeing the amazing crumb and delicate nature of the bread, I thought maybe, just maybe, this miracle ingredient that provided such substance to the cake could liven up pizza dough and provide the bubbles and chewiness that typifies pizza dough.  It did!  It still needs a little something for moisture, I think, and to that end I added in some olive oil.  I made it without but was comfortable enough with the recipe to post as is-- it was good enough to pass the cold pizza test!  If you try it out, let me know how it goes!

Ingredients:
2 c shredded mozzarella
1/4 c almond meal
1/4 c unflavored whey protein
1 T olive oil
1 egg

Mix everything together and spread it thinly on an oiled/parchment paper covered cookie sheet to as thin as you can get it.  Did I say think?  Cook at 350 for about 10 minutes or until it's browned an bubbly.  Cover in sauce and toppings an cook until the cheese is gooey and you are on your tippy toes waiting for deliciousness.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce over Chicken





File this recipe under "things that make you go WOW at first bite."  Really.  I took a bite, lowered my fork, and just stared.  I knew I was in the presence of food greatness.

Moving on to the stuff I wrote before I cooked and ate....

This recipe is brought to you because I made a Costco run.  How I love Costco.  Whether it's the epic mountain of coffee that I somehow manage to drink through in a month, the bargain-priced wine that still tastes respectable, or the free bacon samples, I always find something to love.

I'm sure I had your attention at "free bacon," but the real star of this week's haul was the rotisserie chicken.  At $4.99 a chicken, it's a steal.  The meat is succulent, and it's a pretty hefty bird.  I actually pulled the bird apart and weighed all the meat; the final yield was 2.25 pounds, and I stole a few bites along the way before the weighing.  I know that I can get boneless, skinless thighs and breasts on good sales for $2/lb, but there's so much liquid that is given off while cooking that I'm not sure I don't come out ahead with the pre-roasted bird.  I kept the bones, skin and juices for broth, too.  Just so much savory goodness! The clincher for me is that on my most tired night, I can still drag my butt into the store to pick up a chicken and a bag of salad.  $8 later, we have AT LEAST 4 healthy meals for the two of us, and we stay on track with budget and diet.

The chicken is delicious on its own (let's not pretend I don't just eat it straight out of the carton some days), but today I decided to step it up a bit. I've written about Bella Sun Luci tomatoes before (gee, also from Costco), and I continue to love them.  They have so. much. flavor., and, like the pesto in my last post, they come with seasoning already built in.  I always add a little extra garlic--because, well, garlic-- but otherwise, the flavor comes from simple, good ingredients that you might have in your pantry!  You could probably even pull off using tomato paste instead of sun dried tomatoes if that's what you're working with.  The wine can of course be subbed out for stock, but it adds a nice complexity and deep undertones that worked well with the tomatoes.  Just sayin'.

Ingredients:
2 c chicken, cooked through and roughly shredded or chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T oil
1/2 c chardonnay
1/2 c heavy cream
8 sun dried tomato halves

1) Put garlic and oil in saucepan.  Cook over medium until garlic is tender.   If you like garlicky goodness, leave garlic in.  If you want a more subtle hint, take it out.
2) Add chardonnay and tomatoes and cook the alcohol off.
3) Add cream and cook until it coats the back of your spoon.
4) Use immersion blender to puree the sauce, or cool a bit and then carefully use food processor or blender.
5) Add in chicken and mix around.

Serve over something wonderful like pureed cauliflower.


Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 217 g (1/2 recipe)
Amount Per Serving
Calories
442
Calories from Fat
215
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
23.8g
37%
Saturated Fat
9.2g
46%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
149mg
50%
Sodium
132mg
6%
Total Carbohydrates
5.9g
2%
Dietary Fiber
0.8g
3%
Protein
42.0g
Vitamin A 12%Vitamin C 22%
Calcium 5%Iron 9%
Nutrition Grade B-
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

pesto cheese dip


I feel like I'm letting you in on two foodie finds at once.  First find: USE BELL PEPPERS FOR CHEESY DIPS!!!!   Really, I love French bread and tortilla chips, I do... but besides this low carb business, I actually prefer bell pepper dippers. They are substantial enough to stand up to the heartiest dips (see above photo of gloriousness) but also provide a crisp refreshment to complement the fatty cheese.

Let me be clear, I have nothing against fatty cheese.  It is one of the loves of my life.  It just needs a little balancing, esp when it is stringy melty goodness.

The second find is this recipe, which was inspired by this white pizza dip.  While her dip looks phenomenal, I wasn't invested in roasting tomatoes, and I love pesto for being a multi-layer food all by itself.  Who needs to add in extra herbs, nuts, cheese when it comes in a perfectly balanced flavor-packed combo?

This is some scrumptious party food, whether you are a party of two or a party of twenty.  Just don't forget to scale up--it goes quickly!

Ingredients:
2 blocks cream cheese, softened
8 oz shredded mozzarella
8 oz  shredded provolone
1/4 c pesto

Mix everything together and bake at 350 for 25ish minutes or until top is bubbly.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cheesy beefy mac... without the mac




I LOVE one-pot meals.  Cleaning is easier, serving is easier, and somehow they tend to make enough to feed an army.  Plus, they are often creamy, gooey, soul-feeding comfort food.

This one is no exception.  A big hug of a meal.

I had been craving something cheesy and casserole-y, and I kept circling back to the idea of a cheesy mac recipe with cauliflower as the macaroni.  This, friends, is one of those dishes we ate four days in a row and were still sad to see end.  As an added bonus, cauliflower seems to be the ideal base for other virtues than its vegetableness.  Whereas macaroni can easily overcook in a casserole, cauliflower maintains its integrity.  It does not fold under heat and pressure!

Please forgive that joke.

And go make yourself some deliciousness.

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef
1 T smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 c heavy cream
2 oz cream cheese, pinched or sliced into small cubes
2 T dijon mustard
2 c shredded sharp cheddar

1) Cook beef with paprika and garlic.
2) Steam cauliflower in microwave or cook on stovetop until crisp-tender.  For me, this is 5 minutes in the microwave.
3) Meanwhile, bring cream to a simmer in LARGE pot.  Either pinch cream cheese off the block in tiny pieces or cut into tiny cubes.  Whisk into cream.  Add mustard.  Mix in shredded cheddar until you have most awesome sauce EVAR.
4) Mix in cauliflower and ground beef, then pour into a 9X13.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Makes 8 scrumptious and filling servings

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 216 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories
400
Calories from Fat
197
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
21.9g
34%
Saturated Fat
11.9g
59%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
147mg
49%
Sodium
409mg
17%
Total Carbohydrates
4.2g
1%
Dietary Fiber
1.3g
5%
Sugars
1.1g
Protein
45.0g
Vitamin A 20%Vitamin C 27%
Calcium 16%Iron 124%
Nutrition Grade B+
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet