Eat – Ground Pork Two Ways

Oh hey, guess whose house has been infected with an unending late  Spring funk FROM THE DEPTHS OF HELL for the past month!?

Yup – Jr got sick within a week of his end-of-March birthday, and I swear one (or more) of us has been cowering under a mountain of blankies of the sofa ever since.

But (knock on ALL the wood,) it appears that we are all on the mend, and I have some goodness to share with you.

A few weeks ago I found a ridiculously good price on ground pork, and (in between rounds of it being me on the sofa whimpering,) so I give you not one, but TWO fabulous ways to use ground pork.

They are both Low Carb, if you happen to be riding the Keto-friendly/LCHF/Atkins/South Beach/It’s carbs or my bikini/ other low carb-ish Train with Keri, but even if that isn’t your groove, you won’t miss anything with these delicious recipes.

  1. Taco-Stuffed Bell Peppers:

WHAT YOU NEED:
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1 or 2 bell peppers – (we use ½ a pepper for each serving and stuff it to VERY overflowing, resulting in 2 servings.  You can easily divide the filling into 2 split peppers and get 4 good servings from this recipe)

1 lb ground pork

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon (or to taste) ground cayenne pepper

1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (Colby Jack used here)

Avocado

(Other taco fixings/toppings of your choice would be totally tasty as well!)

WHAT YOU DO:
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Preheat oven to 350 degrees

-In a skillet brown the pork and drain the majority of the fat (I don’t like the pork TOTALLY dry,  but not drowning in grease either, so I drain off what I can easily get and leave the rest.)

-Sprinkle in the seasonings and mix to coat all of the meat.

-Add ½ cup of the shredded cheese to the mixture and stir to distribute evenly.

(BTW, at this point you can totally stick this mixture into the fridge or freeze in a zip top baggie until you are ready to use.)

-Clean and cut pepper(s) in half lengthwise, removing seeds and stem.

-Place pepper halves open side up on a baking dish (it should be big enough so they don’t touch each other so air can circulate all around the peppers.)

-Fill each half with the filling mixture and overfill generously.  If there is extra mixture I just let it spill into the pan around the peppers.

-Top each piled-up pepper with the remaining cheese

-Bake the peppers 20 minutes (add 5 minutes if you are using the filing mixture cold from the fridge.)

Eat up!

Meatballs and Marinara

WHAT YOU NEED:
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MEATBALLS:

1 lb ground pork

½ lb spicy sausage  (removed from casing if needed)

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 egg yolk

SAUCE:

29 ounce can plain tomato sauce

1 clove minced/pressed garlic

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

WHAT YOU DO:
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees

-In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for meatballs and mix thoroughly (your very own hands work best for this, folks, get in there and give your mix a good smoosh and squeeze.)

-Place mix in freezer while you get the sauce assembled and simmering, This firms it up a bit so it is easier to work with.

– In a large, deep sided pot (I use my dutch oven) over medium low heat, add the minced garlic and cook just until you start to smell garlic in the air before adding all other ingredients.  Stir to combine, cover and bring to a simmer.

-Turn the heat for the sauce to low

-Remove meatball mixture from freezer and create 1 ½ inch balls on foil-lined, sprayed baking sheets.

(My sicky self was bad about taking pics of these recipes as they came together this time around, but I DO have this one – you can see they are a bit um, free form.. BUT FEAR NOT, they cook up beautifully.)
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-Pop them into the oven for 20 minutes.  Rotating them halfway through cooking time will keep the shape more uniform but it isn’t mandatory or anything.

-Remove from oven and add the meatballs to the sauce.  Turn heat up to medium and allow sauce and meatballs to simmer together for 5-10 minutes.

DIG IN.  These go great with pasta, or zoodles, or on bread or oopsie rolls as a hearty meatball sandwich.

But all that just gets in my way – I just want a pile of piping hot meatballs with shredded parmesan sprinkled on top most of the time.  Because yum.

So there you have it – Keri rises off her sofa, like a phoenix from the ashes, to answer the call of the kitchen.

Like you would expect that ANYTHING else would ever be my motivation.

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Eat – SO EASY Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise sauce.

People have funny reactions to Hollandaise sauce.  Some people think it’s disgusting. If you are one of those people, I have two things to say to you:

  1. This post is probably not for you.
  2. We maybe can still be friends, but you cannot besmerch the good name of the Hollandaise, or it’s gonna get ugly fast.

Annnywayyy…

For those who know a good thing when they taste it enjoy Hollandaise, it can still be kind of a love/hate relationship.

Hollandaise, I’m afraid, gets a bad rap.  The reasons are two-fold, it seems – but I am here to clean up this sauce’s reputation, or at least strongly  plead its case.

“It’s fattening.”

Well….  it has a high fat content.  I will give you that.  There are some calories in there, for sure.  (My recipe has 182  a serving which isn’t insignificant, I get it.)

BUT for those of us partaking in a Ketogenic- Low Carb/High Fat nutrition plan, it is actually kind of a dream sauce.  It has the fat content that we rely on to keep us  feeling full and satisfied, AND burning fat as fuel.  Butter and eggs?  Those are LCHF staples!!

Regardless of your nutritional preferences, there is room in there for some fat.  You will enjoy what you eat, you will feel satiated for longer periods, and fat is important for keeping our bodies functioning properly. Come on, live a little.  Have the Hollandaise.

“It’s too hard to make.”

Yeah, nope.

I get it, in culinary school I was terrified making Hollandaise – it seemed SO complex, and so easy to screw up.  All of that double-boiler/ bain marie bullshit, trying to whisk like hellfire and stream in the butter.  AND WHAT IF IT DID CURDLE!?

THE PRESSURE!!!!

Except not at all – it is super simple and (I swear) actually pretty well foolproof – and I am a Grade A fool, so we can say it is “Keri Proof” if you do it like I do.  Here we go:

WHAT YOU NEED
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4 egg yolks

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

½ – 1 tablespoon lemon juice  (pardon my squeezy lemon, it was all we had)

Pinch dry mustard (optional)

Pinch cayenne pepper or dash of hot sauce (optional)

Hot Water (as needed)

*Makes 6 servings (but no one will judge if it doesn’t go down that way at your house, I promise.)

WHAT YOU DO

Place the egg yolks and lemon juice into the blender.  I start with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice because I don’t like a really lemony sauce.  If you do, you can easily adjust when finishing, but once you have over-lemoned, there is no unringing that bell.

I like a pinch of dry mustard in my Hollandaise, just to give it a little extra something in the background.  BUT, just a pinch.  I don’t want it to actually taste like mustard.  Some folks prefer to add a little cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick.  I am a traditionalist, but you do you – add either of those now if you would like:
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Cover and give the contents of the blender a pulse – 5 seconds or so.

In a measuring cup (or other microwave safe container with a pouring spout,) melt the stick of butter until it just starts to boil.

Remove the center of your blender top, turn the blender on to a low to medium-low setting, and slowly stream in the hot melted butter:
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Oh yeah.

People tend to over think this step – don’t be too fussy, let it all stream in, then let the blender run for 30 seconds or so and you will be good to go.

If it is too runny, let it sit a bit and it will thicken…  if it gets too cold, microwave for 10 seconds (it will curdle a bit, but see the next sentence to solve that problem.)   If it is too thick, or if the butter has caused the eggs to curdle up, then add warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and give it a good whisk.  It will come right back together and thin right out. I pinky swear.

Give it a taste to see if you want a bit more lemon, and then start finding stuff in your kitchen to drown in it top with the golden goodness.

This morning I actually used the whites that I had left over from separating the eggs, fried with a little bacon and one full egg to make a quick scramble.
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Hello, you beautiful sauce, you.

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Eat- Meal Prep Mondays!

It’s no secret that Keri loves a good menu plan. She loves it almost as much as she loves referring to herself in 3rd person. Ha ha ha (seriously though, I do use 3rd person a lot. Probably has some super deep psychological meaning. OH LOOK, I digress already.)

I am a huge proponent of menu planning as a way to save time and money, and reduce stress on my working mom self.
I have a whole shopping and planning system which I talked about here. I won’t go down that rabbit hole today, as it is deep and long, and probably really scary to innocent onlookers.
BUT in addition to my menu planning, I also love a good round of prep cooking to get my week set up for success.

When I start talking about what I do to prep every week in casual conversation, I get some heavy sideways glances. “Oh Keri, that’s not going to make a difference,” say the non-believers. “I don’t have time to do all of that,” say the negative Nellies.
“That sounds like a lot to do,” say the naysayers.

But nay nay, Naysayers is what I say! (Watch me whip, watch me say nay nay…. couldn’t resist.)
Most Mondays I spend about 1 hour, including clean up,  prepping things I will use to make meals throughout the week. Some prep will actually cover coming weeks as well, as I sometimes grill big batches of chicken breast to freeze for later use, or make a bunch of turkey meatballs and bake them off before freezing.

With my contract writing jobs becoming  more frequent, and my determination to make time every evening to spend with Jr and The Hub, cooking is just NOT something I can devote hours too every night. I know many of you can relate! (Can I get an amen!?)

So,  I thought I’d share this week’s menu and prep with you to show how a quick prep session can make it easy to get dinner on the table lickety-split at night.

This week’s menu:

Monday: Siracha pork and broccoli bowls

Tuesday: Turkey kielbasa with peppers, corn (for the carb lovers in the house.)

Wednesday: Stuffed chicken breast, frozen veggie (probably cauliflower.)

Thursday: Taco casseroles, avocado green salad

Friday: Charcuterie and cheese platter (very typical Friday night fare, I keep a running stash of different ingredients I can throw together after Jr. goes to sleep when The Hub and I finally get to stop and take a breath at the end of the week.0

Saturday: Dinner out at a local spot

Sunday: Pot roast and roasted veggies (I will need to pull this from the freezer on Friday morning, so I make sure it is on the posted menu to help me remember.)

How I prepped:

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Oh look – there’s Keri’s kitchen in the thick of Monday prep time.

– The skillet is full of browning meat for the taco casserole, which I season with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

-I have shredded cheese for the casserole

-The crock pot has 1 lb of pork roast being cooked in a mixture of Pampered Chef Asian Seasoning and Siracha.

-On the back left side of the stove I am also hard-boiling eggs for my breakfasts this week, and (not pictured) there are chicken thighs on the grill for my lunches.

-I am cutting red peppers – 1 half pepper for the taco casserole mixture, the other 1 and 1/2 cut in strips for sautéing with the kielbasa on Tuesday. (Note the plastic bag – I keep a trash bag or bowl right on the counter and pitch everything in there so I am not going back and forth to the trash.  Thanks Rachel Ray, for giving that handy tip years ago!)

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After setting a little bit of the meat aside for Jr. (who is in his extra picky 4 year old phase,) I toss the peppers and cheese into the slightly cooled skillet of seasoned ground turkey, and divide it into individual large ramekins:

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These came with handy lids so I can seal them up and stack in the fridge.  (I do a variation on this type of “casserole” almost every week.  The Bacon Cheeseburger variety is another I have mentioned on ED&BK previously.)

I bag up the pepper strips, divide the eggs and chicken thighs into containers for my daytime meals, and do my dishes.  Just under an hour.

Done and done.

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This leaves only a few quick steps each evening:

Monday: drain and shred the pork, add Siracha to taste, steam broccoli (cut, blanched and frozen during a broccoli hording round of prep a few weeks ago.)

Tuesday: Cut Kielbasa into chunks and quick sauté with red peppers. Heat canned corn. Pull previously grilled chicken breasts from freezer for tomorrow

Wednesday: Turn on oven to 375, slit chicken breasts and stuff with pepperoni and cheese and stick in oven to heat for 110-12 minutes. Steam frozen veggie.

Thursday: Remove casseroles from fridge and allow to come to room temp while oven heats to 375.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Slice avocado. Serve with bagged salad (so lazy, Keri.)

Friday: Take roast for Sunday out of freezer to thaw in fridge.  From there it goes something like this – watch Jr eat ANOTHER PB&J and “GoGurt Simple” for dinner.  Decide to pick battles. Open wine, put Jr to bed. Pull out selection of meat and cheese (it varies,  but there is always a LARGE pile of prosciutto which Keri doesn’t have to share because The Hub doesn’t care for it.) Stack up high on cutting board along with crackers, cheese crisps, nuts, dried fruit, etc.  Sprawl out on floor with aforementioned wine, and exhale.

Another week of dinners with exactly ZERO pain in my patoot, thanks to one hour on Monday (or Sunday, or whenever it works for you,) spent prepping!

Hooray!!  We should treat ourselves to another glass of wine, no?

What are your favorite time and sanity saving tricks in the kitchen?  I am always on the hunt for great ideas, so shout them out in the comments below and share with all of us!

 

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Filed under Beyond Easy, Eat, low carb, Meal Prep, Menu Lists, Time Crunch Tested

Eat- Keto Friendly “Nashville” Hot Chicken

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I have a strange obsession with regional foods. Mind you, there doesn’t really have to be a personal connection to said region for me to feel the pull of the food it proudly claims as its own.

On the contrary – Keri doesn’t discriminate. Keri wants a bite of whatever is on your plate, no matter where you happen to hail.

It’s the reason I have two different King Cake recipes (one from scratch, one a total cheat. Both DELISH.) It also accounts for my occasional need to whip up a batch of Lobster Bisque, or my ongoing mission to find the perfect breading for my fried green tomatoes. I can’t wait until The Hub fires up the smoker we received for Christmas so we can start busting out batches of sauces and rubs from all the different regional BBQ styles our great nation has to offer. Goodness knows I have devoted enough time to extolling the glory of the the much revered Houston Green Sauce.

If there is a regional favorite to be had – I want to have it, regardless of how far my current geographical location is from the actual region.

However – my introduction to this particular regional food is kind of a shame, perhaps. You see, it is all about the KFC. That’s right – I’m talking about the currently buzzed about KFC version of Nashville Hot Chicken. After reading an article about the launch, I had to know more. KFC may have its 11 herbs and spices down, but there was no way I was going to trust KENTUCKY FRIED Chicken when it came to NASHVILLE HOT Chicken.

All my research left my mouth watering – oh how I wanted some. BUT (always with the but, Keri, ) two things stood in my way:

  1. There was no way in hell I was going to KFC for this – I knew it would fall sadly short
  2. The whole “riding the Keto/Low Carb, High Fat train” thing. Blowing my carb count sky high for the day on crap breading and super-sugary sauce? Sorry, no – Keri’s not givin’ up Them Gainz!!!

I took what I had learned and set out to make the best version of the chicken that I could eat and actually feel good about (and feel good after – no thank you starchy carb coma!)

I cooked A LOT of chicken – and some of it was super not good. BUT, I perservered (that is what I do for you people – I eat LOTS of fried chicken. You’re welcome.)

What I came up with is a really tasty, really spicy, crunchy spin on the NHC concept. Is it authentic? Well, no. It might be best to call it a cousin of the original. It is comfort food you can feel good eating, made with the deepest respect for the region that inspired it, and the people who proudly call Tennessee home.

WHAT YOU NEED:
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1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken cut into 5 or 6 pieces

1/2 cup coconut oil (for frying)

For the Marinade:

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons Tabasco style hot sauce

For the Dredge:

Dry:

1 cup almond flour

2 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon garlic powder

Wet:

1 egg, beaten

1 cup buttermilk (could sub heavy whipping cream)

2 tablespoons Tabasco

For the Sauce:

3 tablespoons Tabasco

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon brown sugar (could sub no carb sweetener)

WHAT YOU DO:

For this recipe, I find that smaller pieces of chicken get kind of lost, or something, with all the breading and the heat – but leaving breasts whole doesn’t allow enough contact with the marinade and leaves large amounts free of crispy breading (Sad panda.)  5/6 nice sized chunks from 1.5 lbs works really well for this.

Combine 1 cup of the buttermilk together with 1 tablespoon of the hot sauce:
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Add to a large ziploc bag with the chicken pieces, remove extra air, and allow to rest in the fridge for AT LEAST 1 hour, but no more than 10 (the acid in the buttermilk isn’t something you want to leave working on chicken breast for any longer than that!)

I like to set up a kind of dredging station- having everything ready to go before you start the messy process of coating is a good thing.
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On a large plate or in a flat-bottom pie pan, thoroughly combine the ingredients for the dry dredge.  In a bowl, beat the egg lightly, then add the remaining wet dredge ingredients and stir to combine.

Remove the chicken from the bag and pull all excess marinade off of the chicken pieces the drier the chicken, the more even the initial coating of the dry dredge ingredients turns out.

Pat each piece into the dry dredge ingredients and set onto an oiled wire rack:
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Then, working one piece at a time dip each first into the wet dredge ingredients, hold up and using fingers remove extra so that no large globs (sorry, there is no nicer way to say that) of the liquid dredge remain.
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Then, pat each piece into the dry dredge again, coating and allowing the extra to fall away.  I did not want to use a bunch of extra carb-y breading, so I kept the coating thin, using only a small amount for each piece and being careful to remove clumps.  Almond flour isn’t cheap – just as a side note- so I wasn’t going willy-nilly with a bunch of extra on the plate.  If things don’t quite even up, you can always mix just a bit more of the dry ingredients to cover the last bits.  I did not find it an issue and had no trouble coating all 5 of my pieces (without having a ton left over to feel guilty about or feel obligated to pile on the chicken.)
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare a 2nd pan with wire rack.
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I use a two-step cooking process for this “fried” chicken.  For the first step, heat 1/2 cup of coconut oil in a large frying pan.  To test the heat, take a pinch of the leftover dry dredge flour and drop it into the oil.  Did it sizzle right up?  If so, your oil is ready for frying.

CAREFULLY add the coated chicken to the pan, and once you have placed a piece, do not move it around right away or the coating on the bottom might stick to the pan and not the chicken! (NOOOOO!!)  Keep the heat up on high for now, while you add all the pieces. The chicken will drop the temp of the oil, and keeping the heat high will allow for a quick recovery.  (Again, CAREFULLY – it is oil and it pops and bubbles and those tiny oil burns HURT.)
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Cook the first side for 3 minutes, then carefully lift one piece and flip.  If the piece does not lift easily from the bottom, you can give it another minute, but don’t go walking way to refill your wine just now or you will end up with chicken that is too dark on one side (trust the voice of experience.)

Let the other side cook in the same manner.
When you have achieved a nice golden crust on all sides of the chicken transfer it directly to a baking pan with  a non-stick-spray-coated wire rack.
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You want the air to circulate all around your chicken pieces in the oven, so the bottom stays crunchy (not squishy. Yuck.)

Pop the chicken into the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part of each piece reads around 160 if you are into that kind of thing (I am way more likely to just cut a piece open to check if my super-scientific “Keri poke test” is inconclusive.)

Pull the chicken out of the oven and let it rest a minute or two while you whip up the sauce.  Mix the three ingredients together and whisk to combine.

I can hear you all now “BUT KERI, SUGAR…  that is a keto-no-no, yo-yo!?” (Sorry, got carried away there.)

Yes.  Yes it is.  This is a small amount – and to me it is worth it to watch what else I am eating that day to allow for this because the brown sugar really adds the flavor and sticky consistency that I want here.  If you aren’t into it – try using the low-carb sweetener you love!  Let us know how it goes in the comments below so others can try too!

Drizzle that goodness evenly over all the pieces of the chicken, and then return it to the oven for just long enough to get that glaze all melty and starting to sink in a bit. (This only takes a minute.)
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Traditionally this chicken gets served with pickles and basic white bread – Oopsie rolls would be a yummy addition!  We know how Keri loves an excuse to Oopsie. This go around I had some yummy Quest Salt and Vinegar Protein Chips. Yassss.
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There you are – my take on Nashville Hot Chicken, with massive amounts of chicken-fried love for the good folks in Tennessee who give regional food stalkers like me a new  entry on my “must visit and eat” list.

 

*roughly 10 carbs per piece, with in between 2 and 3 of those being fiber. BUT that is assuming that a full 1/5 cup of buttermilk sticks to each chicken piece, (which would be gross!) and that you use every single bit of that almond flour (which is possible.)  Just for some perspective on carb count.

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Eat- super simple ceasar salad with DIY dressing

I love Caesar Salad.  It’s my “menu option anxiety” killer.  You know that thing where EVERYTHING on a menu looks amazing and you can never ever choose between all the goodness- but the sever is coming back and you can’t put him or her off again. THE PRESSURE IS ON, YO!
Except not for Keri. When Keri feels this way she closes up that menu and responds “I’ll have the Caesar Salad, please. And another glass of Chardonnay.”  (Duh, always.)
I always love a Caesar Salad. (Ok, I’ve had like two bad experiences with blecky interpretations in my whole life. That’s a good track record considering the number of Caesar Salads I’ve eaten in my life.)
DIY Caesar dressing at home can be intimidating. It involves anchovies. It also involves raw egg yolks. Andplusalso for good measure emulsifying .
But Keri is here to save you, because her culinary-school-drop-out self is WAY too lazy for slowly incorporating fat and oil; and I am pretty sure if I brought anchovies into the house, The Hub would gag and straight up move out. So… let’s cheat our way to the best Caesar dressing you’ve ever tasted, shall we?
I adapted this Epicurious recipe to make my dressing, generally cutting corners everywhere I can; because I am so lazy that even their simple version was too much work. (Oh Keri. Sad.)
This works well for four side-salads, or two entree-sized portions topped with a protein of your choice. Here I’ve used this sweet and spicy chicken since I had some left in the fridge. Shrimp are tasty and quick cooking, or leftover steak is yummy too.

(Mmmmm, steak. ::drool::)

WHAT YOU NEED
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1 head Romain lettuce, washed
6-8 ounces protein of your choice (if you are using as a main course)
Croutons – if you are so inclined

For the dressing:
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
The juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons garlic paste
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce

WHAT YOU DO
Rip or cut the lettuce to your liking into a large bowl and set aside.
To make the dressing, squeeze the lemon juice into a blender (I do this first in case a seed gets away from me; then I can wrangle it without having to use a strainer or be careful or whatever. Because, lazy.) Then add the cheese, garlic, oil, and Worcester sauce:
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Blend on high/liquefy until the dressing is smooth and combined:
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I make mine ahead and then store for up to a week in the fridge. A jar with a tight lid lets me give it a good shake before I use it:
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Pour over your greens, toss to combine, then sprinkle in croutons and protein:
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Look at you, making Caesar dressing from scratch.
So. Much. Yum.

So there you have it. A month of salads to get the new year started off right – good and good for you!

Uo next I am sharing a regional favorite from a state I’ve never been to (brave AND shocking, Keri,) and I am giving it a Low Carb/High (good) Fat makeover too!

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Eat- Father in law salad

WOO HOO, Week 3 of our month of salads!! I can’t be the only one who gets excited about salads, right?  I have a doozy for you this week.  It is sweet and tangy, with lots of great textures coming together for that perfect bite each time you spear a forkful.

I confess, I can’t take credit for this salad – my awesome Father-in-law first introduced me to his version of it it several years ago.  I believe he had something similar at a party or restaurant, and he decided to recreate it.  Him and I have that in common; the recreating dishes we love from restaurants, I mean.  We both do a version of a steak with chimmichurri butter served over fries that was one of our family’s favorite dishes at one of our favorite restaurants  until it was taken off the menu.  (Ahem, still mourning the loss, Steubens.)  BUT  I digress greatly – as usual.

This salad. This salad is the direct opposite of a boring salad.  It is an explosion of flavors and textures that come together so nicely, even anti-salad people love this salad.  It is a great “company’s coming” salad – whip it up ahead of time, toss the dressing into it last minute, and it is a really nice starter (no need for the protein if you are serving it this way.)

But I LOVE it as a meal- especially with the addition of the smoked salmon.  All of the sweet elements, contrasted with the salt of the fish and the crunch of the almonds?

Yasssss.

Here we go:

WHAT YOU NEED:

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1 bag fresh spinach, rinsed and dried
1small can mandarin oranges, drained well
1/2 bag dried cranberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 ounces crumbly goat cheese
Raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
4-6 ounces smoked salmon

WHAT YOU DO:
Place the rinsed, dried spinach in a large bowl. I like to tear off the stems from the majority of the leaves – a few left is fine, I just don’t care for the texture of them to be overwhelming.

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Crumble in the goat cheese, and add the oranges, after draining VERY well (or the dressing won’t cling to your salad, and that’s just sad.)

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Next, in with the almonds and dried berries :

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Then the dressing. I know I’m being lazy here with the bottled dressing, but I like to keep the ingredients for this dressing on hand in case we have last minute guests or I just want something different for lunch. Knowing this tasty dressing is waiting, ready to go at a moment’s notice? It’s like my sweet, flavorful, dirty little secret.

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The whole thing gets a really good toss, but gentle hands here, people – don’t want that spinach all creased and crunched.
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Seriously – try it.  Feed it to your “non-salad” people.  (Look out for my kid though, he will steal all your oranges and crasins. It is a salad so good that it makes 4 year olds throw what little salad ettiqute they know straight to the wind.)  This will feed two hungry adults a nice-sized meal, or split it up into four if you are using as a side.

I come back to this again and again.

I should really thank my father-in-law sometime.

Next week – a fresh and fast all homemade version of everyone’s favorite classic salad.

 

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Eat- BLT salad with creamy avocado dressing

Congratulations – you’ve arrived in the second full week of January!! Minds, waistlines (and livers) have started to recover from all those holiday hijinx and we are off and running into 2016!
Being the low-carb/high-fat convert that 2015 made me, if I find myself feeling bored or deprived with what I’m eating, I reach for some “good fats.” Something that will give me some creamy, heavy texture and stick with me so I don’t find myself clamoring for a snack in an hour.
Coconut oil, eggs, a small serving of nuts… all good ideas, for sure.
But NOTHING makes Keri as happy as avocado.
Here, it’s a thick avocado dressing with bright zingy lemon that really clings to lettuce leaves. Mmmmmmm.
Fun fact – when I was pregnant with Jr, I ate at least one BLT every day for over 6 months. I could not get enough BLT.Of course some of those were actually BLATs – bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato; a very tasty combo all its own.  EVEN after all of that BLT consumption,  if I see one on the menu it is always in serious contention for my lunch order.

Bringing the great fat and flavor of the avocado together with the salty, crunchy perfection of a BLT in a salad makes a really satisfying lunch or dinner  that is anything but depriving.

WHAT YOU NEED:

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1 head Romain lettuce
1 large ripe tomato
1 lemon
1/2 clove garlic (or equivalent garlic paste)
1 ripe avocado
6 strips cooked bacon (this Hormel pre-cooked is good if you want to keep things quick)

WHAT YOU DO:
In a blender, combine the avocado, garlic, and juice from 1/2 of the lemon :

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Blend on high/liquefy until smooth. Check consistency.  I like it thick, but still pourable, so if it looks more like a spread, I add the juice from other half of the lemon:

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While that is blending together well, cut the tomato – I like wedges so the seeds and juice stay in the tomato a bit better, and don’t forget to give them a,sprinkle of S&P, because an unseasoned tomato is the sad panda of the salad world:

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Also dice the bacon:

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For this salad, I like to just dress the lettuce so everything else stays crunchy and the bacon stays, um, bacon-y (really important and highly scientific terminology.)

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Then I plate up the lettuce and pile the other goodies on top:

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Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes.

This recipe makes 2 good-sized dinner salads, or could be split 4 ways as a side for something else. (OOO- it would be so good with fried chicken!! Damn. Now I want fried chicken. )
But I digress- LONG LIVE THE BL(A)T!

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