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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Eat – Fajita Salad with Houston Green Sauce Dressing

Happy 2016, y’all!

Oh look….  Keri has been in Texas again.  Bless her little Colorado heart.

Yes, yes I have – and I, of course, spent those 7 days hording all of the red meat, and kolaches, and green sauce (and kolaches dipped in green sauce, which I highly recommend,)  that Montgomery county would surrender its grasp on.

And still didn’t get enough.

BUT – the holidays are over, and it is back to reality in a brand spanking new year.  For many that means a time of resolution.  Keri actually LOVES her some resolutions (more about that today on Reluctantly Suburban, if you are so inclined,) so I fully support you and yours in your goal setting!!

GO YOU!!

A little period of nutrition correction sounding like a good idea right now?  Mildly mortified at what boozy cocoa and grandma’s famous fudge have done to the waistline?  Fear not, hungry readers, Keri has you covered!

I present to you my first ever “Salad a Week January!!” (Insert trumpet flourish here.)

Each week this month I will be giving you a good-and-good-for-you recipe for an entree salad sure to satisfy while keeping you on track.

But enough with the banter, bring on this week’s offering, which caters to  my Sad Panda feelings about lack of Lone Star in my January world, and gives us a chance to indulge in my favorite hunger-fighting good fat, AVOCADO!!!

 

WHAT YOU NEED:
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For the dressing:

1 large avocado

1 can Herdez Salsa Verde

Pickled jalapeno slices

1-2 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 lime

For the salad:

3-4 ounces per serving skirt or flank steak

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 lime

1 bag (or 1 bunch) washed Romain lettuce

1 bell pepper and 1 onion (or whatever fajita veggies you like.)

Shredded cheddar (not pictured, because I have holiday brain, I guess)

WHAT YOU DO:
Combine the garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin. Squeeze lime juice onto both sides of the steak and sprinkle with the seasonings.
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Give it a good rub to make sure that it stays put. I like to fold the steak onto itself and let it sit in the fridge to absorb the goodness.
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The dressing is a lazy interpretation of my beloved (but labor-intensive) version of Houston green sauce, and SO easy to make:
Add the salsa, avocado, and 2 jalapenos to blender :
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Puree until smooth. Add a heaping tablespoon of sour cream and blend again:
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At this point things become a matter of personal taste- want things tangier? More sour cream. Need more spice (as I did?) A few extra jalapeno slices. At this point I also added the juice of half a lime, to brighten things up a bit and thin down the dressing.
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When the flavor and consistency is to your liking, this can be stored in the fridge for up to a week before it will get funky, just be sure to give it a shake before using.

Remove the steak from the refrigerator 1/2 hour before cooking so it has a chance to come up to room temperature. This ensures even cooking.  I like to grill my fajita steak, which takes some dedication during Colorado cold snaps (and a good headlamp if you have crappy deck lighting like we do.)
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I like medium rare for just about any steak I cook, The Hub likes things a bit less pink.  The important thing with skirt or flank steak is to cut thin slices AGAINST the grain of the meat.  I put my onions and peppers on the grill in a foil packet, so I can watch everything without running back an forth to the stove.

3 to 4 ounces of steak per serving gives a generous pile on top of a bed of the Romain, with the grilled veggies and a sprinkling of cheese it is all of the best parts of a fajita dinner.  I serve the dressing on the side of this salad, because I know not everyone would drink the green sauce by glassful if given the option like I would.  (I don’t know WHY this is true about people, but I accept it because it means MORE SAUCE FOR KERI!)
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So there you go – 2016 off to a delicious, nutritious start- and a brand new salad coming next week to keep you full and inspired.

Oh, and left over green sauce is AHHH-MAY-ZINGGG on grilled chicken or crockpot pulled pork, )or eggs cooked your favorite way if you, like Keri, need to get your green sauce on first thing in the morning.) You’re welcome.

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Drink- Grown Up Cocoa

I love cocoa.
I have always loved cocoa.

There is nothing more satisfying to the soul than a good snowman building  session followed by a big cup of steaming, rich cocoa.

Well, there is ONE thing that’s  better:
Cocoa that’s been doctored up with some booze and other add-ins!

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A recent cocoa spread

This isn’t so much of a recipe as it is a jumping off point, so here are a few of my favorite add ins:
-Peppermint Schnapps & Whipped cream– I’ve heard this called a “Snuggler.”  Call it what you want, it is GOOD.  So good.
-Butterscotch Schnapps — rich rich rich. Perfection.
– Kahlua– It’s flavored like booze and coffee. It pluses a piping hot cup o’ cocoa in EPIC fashion.  FYI, my new BFF Julie, (who doesn’t know it yet,)  has informed me that there is a Peppermint Mocha flavored Kahlua.
Just let that marinate for a sec… because holy crap, that is the one true ring of booze in cocoa, fo’ sho’.
-Baileys– It tastes like a hot version of a mudslide people. Nothing wrong with that.
-Whiskey — my cocoa of choice this season has actually been of the sugar free variety (big fat bummer, Ker,) with a shot of Bullitt Bourbon or Jameson Whiskey and some liquid Peppermint with stevia. So evidently my ketogenic nutrition obsession has turned me into the dreaded grandma with a purse full of sugar free candy that no one wants.
But it works for me, so pfthhhhhhh!
HOWEVER – Whiskey works great in sugarFULL cocoa as well. Especially the vanilla white chocolate version of these cocoa on a spoon thingys we were gifted. YUM!

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Hording these... if you come to my house, you probably can't have one.

AND Of course all of the whipped cream and jimmies and marshmallows and shaved chocolates and candy canes for stirring and all the other yummy add ins.

What am I missing? What should I be dumping in my cocoa that I’m not?
You guide me, my good and drunken readers. Let’s share.

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Eat – Oopsie Roll Madness

I can take exactly NO credit for the tastiness which I am about to discuss with you.
PLEASE don’t think I am.
I can only relay the recipe that has delivered me to an entirely new level of obsession, and shamelessly display the deliciousness that has been born of it.
Good readers (mom,) I give you, THE OOPSIE ROLL. (aka, cloud bread.)
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Those little round buns of perfection ( heh heh, “buns of perfection,”) are so ridiculously full proof easy to make, and they are (in this house) the definitive answer to the low-carb-but-I-just-need-bread struggle.
Those little circles are composed of nothing more than 1 egg for every 1 ounce of cream cheese you use, and a pinch of cream of tartar.
That is it, my friends.
I refer to this recipe from the Your Lighter Side blog – which may or may not be the actual origin of the Oopsie (as she does explain that she made a mistake when making a different recipe resulting in these rolls.)
I was hesitant – I pinned that blog post MANY moons ago and always thought “there is NO way I could make those right.” I saw scads of Oopsie horror stories from other disgruntled would-be bakers. Finally I relented in desperation for something new to cook for The Hub, and made my first batch using tiny muffin tins.
They came out ok, and made meatball sliders that were passable.

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But when I fully submitted to the process of the Oopsie, making round piles of the batter on a parchment-lined baking sheet? That is when the true joy and promise of the Oopsie unfolded to me.

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They came out PERFECT. Again, and again, and again, they always come out perfect. I make 2 batches of 6 rolls a week most of the time now. I use them for everything!
Breakfast Sammies:

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Pot Pie Toppers:

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Burger Buns (all hail the green chile bacon cheeseburger):

oopsie burger
Individual pizza crusts:

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…and garlic bread to serve with zoodles and meat sauce, the bottom of egg casseroles for breakfast, brown-bagging-it BLTs for lunch… the list goes on and on. I can’t stop the oopsie train.

So I suggest you get on board!!! I am branching out into different shapes – this week I have Oopsie bread-sticks with Italian herbs baked in on the menu – even if you aren’t following a low carb nutrition plan, this is an easy and delicious alternative. It comes together so easily it can also provide a shot of kitchen confidence (and who doesn’t need an ego boost now and then? I LOVE hearing yummy noises when I cook for people, don’t you!?)
They may be called Oopsie rolls, but it is no accident that they are around for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at our house!

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