Food, recipe

Spicy Peanut Vegetable Noodles

Have you had Spicy Peanut Noodles? Hot or Cold they are one of my favorite treats. When I make them at home I douse them in extra sesame seeds and sriracha and go to town. But, I’m in a low-carb phase right now. So when the craving hit last weekend I had to improvise. Luckily I had a cucumber in my fridge as well as some beets and butternut squash I had spiralized earlier in the week. But let’s start with the cucumber!

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The goal here is to use a peeler to make thin slices of cucumber. I like to try and have at least a little sliver of the skin on most of my “noodles.” Mostly for aesthetics, but also because the noodles with skin are less likely to break apart, in my opinion. Stop peeling when you got to the seeds and munch on that cucumber as you finish making this.

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Once you have your cucumber noodles all set sprinkle them with salt and let them sit for about twenty minutes. You are going to do the same thing with your beets and squash.

 

While all of your veggies are being salted you can prep your peanut sauce. A little trick is to microwave your peanut butter so it’s soft and runny. This makes it a lot easier to incorporate the rest of your ingredients.

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Once you have your softened peanut butter it’s a simple matter of adding in all your favorite Asian-inspired spices! I always start with garlic, ginger and red chilies. After that I decide what flavor palette I’m aching for. For instance, if I wanted something more Chinese I would add in soy sauce and hoisin sauce. But I was definitely feeling Thai food so I used honey and fish sauce.

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Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret ingredient that I use in a lot of my Asian cooking. It’s called Gochu Jang and it’s a Korean red chili paste. It’s is savory, sweet and spicy all at the same time. And I use it a lot. Maybe excessively. You should go to the store and get you some right away if you haven’t tried it yet. Even my puppy loves it!

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So I toss in a liberal spoonful of this goodness into my mixing bowl as well. After the dressing is mixed really well and you have squeezed the excess water out of your veggies it’s time to prepare for this next very complicated step of mixing everything together with some sesame seeds, chopped scallions and coriander.

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And there you have it, it’s that easy. Cold veggie noodles guaranteed to soothe your spicy carb craving!

Ingredients:

  1. Cucumber, peeled (1 cup)
  2. Beet, spiralized (1/2 cup)
  3. Butternut Squash, spiralized (1/2 cup)
  4. Peanut butter, 3 heaping tablespoons
  5. 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  6. 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  7. 1/2 Tbsp red chillies
  8. 1/2 Tbsp honey
  9. 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
  10. 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  11. 1/4 cup chopped coriander
  12. Sesame seeds to taste
  13. Gochu Jang 1 Tbsp or to taste

Recipe:

  1. Peel cucumber into thin, flat noodles, spiraling beets and butternut squash.
  2. Cover all vegetables with salt and let sit for 20-30 minutes
  3. Heat peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl for increments of 10 seconds until soft and runny.
  4. Mix in ginger garlic, red chili, honey, fish sauce and Gochu Jang (if using).
  5. Wring excess water out of vegetables and add to large mixing bowl.
  6. Stir in peanut sauce.
  7. Stir in scallions, coriander and sesame seeds.
  8. Serve with lime wedges.

***Any ratio of peeled or spiralized vegetables will work. Zucchini would be good substitute if you are not a cucumber fan. You could also use carrots or sweet potatoes, but I would suggest a three to five minute blanch to get the perfect al dente texture.

***The ratio for the sauce is also subject to individual taste. I suggest adding ingredients slowly and tasting frequently. Don’t worry about making too much. Any excess can be stored in your fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

Food, recipe

Low Carb German Schnitzel

As weird as this may be I’m an Indian American who sometimes craves German food. I chalk this up to the decade or so I spent in various German Clubs as I learned the language. Lloyd lived in Germany for about a year as part of his college experience so anytime I get Germanic in the kitchen he is very happy. But German food isn’t always the low carb ideal I’m looking for. So I revamped a traditional Schweineschnitzel or pork schnitzel recipe using almond flour and almond meal. Also traditionally this is served with some kind of potato (usually spätzle) but I subbed that out for cauliflower. And I absolutely took the easy road and went for this frozen option from Trader’s Joes. But never fear, I amped it up just a bit!

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I actually didn’t start with the mash, I prepared my pork cutlets first. This isn’t as daunting as you may think. I had two pork chops that I had defrosted in the freezer and I cut each of these in half and then pounded them thin with a rolling pin after seasoning them with salt and pepper.

Now it was time for “breading” usually this calls for flour and breadcrumbs. But in the vain hope of making this more healthy I switched those for almond flour and and almond meal.

Whenever you are breading a quantity of things it helps to get your dipping plates/bowls ready and waiting. I add a little salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika to my flour and all of that minus the paprika to the meal. This flavors your crust and is an essential step.

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Start by dipping each cutlet in the egg wash and then in the flour, back into the eggs and then onto the meal. It’s a messy process but it gets the job done.

As soon as your cutlet is fully “breaded” you want to pop it straight into a pan with hot oil. I use avocado oil because it has a lot of the same health benefits of olive oil while maintaining an higher smoking point.

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Once you put it in the pan leave it there for 2-3 minutes and turn it over just once. Don’t keep flipping it back and forth and don’t press down on it. These two tactics will lose you our crust and dry your meat out. I put all four cutlets on a baking sheet and popped them in a warm, 200 degree, oven while I finished off the mash and the mushrooms.

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The mash was easy peasy. While the cutlets were doing their thang I sliced up some scallions and had them ready to toss into a pan with the frozen mash.

Once the scallions were lightly sweating I added in the frozen mash. Once the mash has defrosted I tossed in some parmesan and stone ground mustard. Whenever I noticed the mash drying up I would add in a splash of unsalted chicken stock to loosen things back up. This also slowed down the cooking process to time things better with the meat and mushrooms.

The key to really yummy cauliflower mash with a consistency more like fluffy potatoes than a runny risotto is a raw egg folded in just as it’s ready to come off the stove. So I used the egg that was leftover from my cutlets. Waste not, want not.

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The mash was happening while the cutlets were frying. And as soon as the last cutlet was out of the pan I started the mushrooms in the same one. I also included some left over chopped mushroom stems from my Meatloaf Stuffed Mushroom “Sliders” with Shoestring Beet and Squash “Fries”.

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These went in with salt, pepper and a very small splash of unsalted chicken stock to deglaze from the cutlets.

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Once they had started to shrink and begun to glisten I added in scallions and garlic.

Once these were fully cooked I continued to add my unsalted chicken stock until I had a rich gravy. I served the mash in typical volcano fashion, the way Lloyd likes. And drizzled my mushrooms across the schnitzel as well.

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Schnitzel Ingredients:

  1. 2 pork chops
  2. 1 cup of almond flour
  3. 1 cup of almond meal
  4. 2-3 eggs
  5. Salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder to taste, (I used about a 1/4 teaspoon of each in the eggs, meal and flour)

Schnitzel Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare your dipping plates. Season almond meal with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Season the flour with the same but add in paprika. Season your eggs with just salt and pepper.
  3. Cut pork chop in half and pound thin after seasoning with salt and pepper. This is easier with room temperature pork chops. Use a piece of cling film to contain your meat.
  4. Heat avocado oil in a large bottomed frying pan.
  5. Dredge both sides of cutlet in eggs, almond flour, eggs again, and then almond meal and immediately place into hot oil.
  6. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes and place on your lined baking tray.
  7. Place tray in warmed oven to keep cutlets hot while you finish off the rest of the meal.

Mashed Cauliflower ingredients:

  1. 1 bag of frozen mashed cauliflower
  2. Half bunch of scallions thinly sliced
  3. 1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
  4. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  5. Leftover egg from cutlets
  6. Unsalted chicken stock, as needed

Mashed Cauliflower Recipe:

  1. Heat your scallions in a tiny drizzle of oil.
  2. Add in the frozen cauliflower.
  3. Once defrosted add in the cheese and mustard.
  4. Use chicken stock to keep mash from drying out.
  5. Adjust seasoning, if needed
  6. Once completely cooked turn off heat and add in reserved beaten egg from the cutlets. Fold in completely.

Mushroom Gravy Ingredients:

  1. 1 8 oz package of sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  2. Half bunch of scallions, thinly sliced
  3. 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  4. Unsalted chicken stock, as needed
  5. Salt, pepper to taste

Mushroom Gravy Recipe:

  1. Add mushrooms to the pan that you fried your cutlets in. No need to wipe it out before hand. The fat and almond meal/flour will help cook and thicken your gravy.
  2. Toss in your garlic and scallions and cook until everything is completely cooked down.
  3. Initially use small splashes of chicken stock to deglaze pan as needed. Slowly increase the amount of liquid in your pan until you have the consistency you want. Make sure to wait until mushrooms are fully cooked before adding in too much stock.
  4. Taste and season accordingly.

Once everything is cooked plate this however you want so that you get it in your mouth as quickly as possible! I hope you love making this as much as I enjoyed eating it! Guten Appetit!

Food, recipe

Meatloaf Stuffed Mushroom “Sliders” with Shoestring Beet and Squash “Fries”

Lloyd and I were at a restaurant called Matchbox with a group of friends and being the health conscious 30 somethings that we are we all ordered low carb, gluten free, vegetarian options. But at the table next to us came out a platter of sliders piled a mile high with shoestring fries. I have been wanting something like that ever since I saw them. So I created these mushroom and chicken meatloaf to replicate the sliders and baked spiralized beets and butternut squash into a semblance of shoestring fries. I have to say it really did hit the spot and I didn’t feel nearly as guilty as I would have had I eaten the sliders and fries at Matchbox.

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To start I prepped my spiralized beets and butternut squash. Claire gave me a veggeti last year for my birthday and it is a stellar addition to my kitchen. I had spiralized the squash and beets earlier in the week and failed to get a picture. But here is what happens when the vegetti takes on a zucchini.

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But back to my butternut squash and beets! The first thing I had to do was get the excess moisture off of them so that they would crisp up in the oven. I spread them out on some paper towels and sprinkled them with salt. I love how pretty and colorful they were.

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Next I need to ready my mushrooms. Kroger has bins of mushrooms where you can pick out the ones that you want. I tried to find ones that were evenly sized and would be easy to stuff. I de-stemmed them and diced the stems up into small chunks to use later.

The last real prepping step was getting the meatloaf mix together. I cheated a bit and started off with some chicken Italian sausage. I removed the casings and then added in my own seasonings to amp up the tastiness of this!

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I felt that should I mix in things to amp up the Italian seasonings already present in the sausage. So I chopped up some basil, scallions and sun-dried tomatoes as well as some garlic. I added in some shredded mozzarella and about half of those mushroom stems. I used an egg as a binder but no bread crumbs because of the low carb effort. I didn’t add in any extra salt, pepper or other spices because I’ve had these sausages before and they are pretty well balanced. But if you are using plain ground turkey then you would definitely need some.

I stuffed all the mushrooms with a heaping spoonful of the mix trying to spread it out evenly and then turned my attention back to the beets and squash. I wanted to wring the excess water out of the veggies so I placed another paper towel on top of them and tightly rolled them up. Then I spread them on a baking sheet and popped them in the oven before my stuffed mushrooms.

Everything came out of the oven and I plated them with “fries” piled on top of my “sliders.” It was definitely more colorful than the restaurant version. And I have to believe it’s a lot healthier. It also really satisfied my burger and fries craving which was the goal all along!

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Ingredients:

  1. 12 mushroom caps
  2. 1 package of Italian chicken sausage
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 heaping Tbsp minced garlic
  5. 4 oz chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  6. 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  7. 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  8. 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  9. Salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste
  10. 1/2 cup spiralized beets
  11. 1/2 cup spiralized butternut squash

Recipe:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread out squash and beets on paper towels or cheese cloth and sprinkle liberally with salt.
  3. Wipe mushrooms clean and pull stems off. Chop stems and set aside.
  4. Place mushrooms on a baking tray.
  5. Mix together meat, egg, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, scallions, cheese and seasonings.
  6. Scoop meat mixture into mushroom caps.
  7. Wring out squash and beets and pat dry.
  8. Place squash and beets on baking tray and place in oven on top rack for ten to fifteen minutes.
  9. Move veggies down to lower rack and stir gently to avoid breaking up strings.
  10. Place mushrooms in oven on top rack and cook everything for an additional 30-40 minutes.
  11. Plate with shoestring squash and beets piled on top of your meatloaf stuffed mushrooms.
Food, recipe

Sweet Potato and Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

We are meat and potatoes people through and through. Lloyd comes from Irish stock and likes nothing more than a simple and hearty meal. My Indian taste buds want something with a little extra oomph of spice. And my common sense tells me that eating red meat and white potatoes isn’t the healthiest option. So I’ve tweaked the traditional Shepherd’s Pie recipe to something that meets everyone’s needs. Also, I made this Shepherd’s pie ahead of time, froze it, and then assembled it at an AirBnB where we were staying with a group of friends. So, if you are looking for a good “cook and take” recipe this is an excellent option.

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You can’t smell the goodness or hear the delightful bubbling emanating from this pan.

So to get started I did a little mise en place and chopped up my onions, carrots, mushrooms, rosemary and thyme. If you’ve read my Chicken Pot Pie recipe you will see a lot of similarities in the strategy and flavors. Once you know the basic patterns of cooking it’s easy to extrapolate those ideas to other recipes. But, I digress. First step is always sweating your onions.

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I used my dutch oven for this recipe because the thick walls retains a constant heat better and is more forgiving if you forget to stir. Once your onions are well and sweated meaning they have gotten that glistening look to them but they aren’t burnt or starting to turn brown it’s time to add your carrots.

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Your carrots will start to cook, you know they are ready when the sharp edges begin to blunt and they get a shiny appearance to them. Now it’s time to add in your meat and herbs. Also you should be seasoning at every step. I always use salt, pepper and garlic powder. Also keep some low sodium chicken stock handy. This is excellent to splash in and deglaze when things get a little sticky.

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Once your meat is cooked down add in a hefty scoop of flour. This is totally optional if you are going the gluten free route feel free to skip this step. The flour is just used to thicken the gravy. You can always substitute arrowroot powder at the end. Also add in your peas and mushrooms once the meat is cooked.

Add in a heavy, heavy splash of chicken stock and turn your heat down and let it simmer while you fix your sweet potatoes. Peel and boil like another potato once they are soft enough to smash easily with the back of a fork transfer the potatoes into a mixing bowl and add in some stone ground mustard, parmesan cheese, heavy cream, salt, pepper and garlic. Reserve some of that lovely, starchy water from the sweet potatoes to help fluff up your mash and then get to mixing! I use a kitchen aid. I’m lazy.

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You want your mash a little extra runny because that way they don’t dry out when you bake it.

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At this point you have a two options. Go ahead and assemble or bag it up, freeze and save it for later. And a secret third option; freeze half, cook the other half. I went the freezing route because we weren’t going to eat our pie for another few days.

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Assembling is as easy as reheating the meat in a crockpot or on the stove and placing the bag of sweet potatoes into a bowl of warm water. I layered the meat onto the bottom of an aluminum pan that I brought with me and cut a hole in a corner of the sweet potato bag and squeezed it on. I decorated the top with some fancy fork work and add a layer of  fresh shaved gruyere because cheese is the best. Then it’s time to bake. The boys were so excited!

Quick tip on leftovers. I just bagged the whole thing and froze it. When we get home I’ll unfreeze it and probably bake it into a quiche.

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Filling Ingredients:

  1. 3 lbs of ground turkey
  2. 1 red onion
  3. 1 large carrot
  4. 1 bag of frozen peas
  5. 8 oz container of baby bella mushrooms
  6. 2-3 Tbsp of chopped rosemary  and thyme
  7. 1 can of tomato paste
  8. 3 Tbsp flour
  9. 1 box of low sodium chicken stock
  10. Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Topping Ingredients:

  1. 4 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 2 Tbsp of heavy cream
  3. 4 oz parmesan cheese
  4. 1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
  5. Salt, pepper and garlic powder taste

Recipe:

  1. Chop your onions, carrots, mushrooms, rosemary and thyme while your pan heats with a glut of olive oil in it.
  2. Add your onions and let them sweat, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder
  3. Add you carrots and let them get sweaty, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Use stock to deglaze as needed.
  4. Add in the meat and let it cook down until it crumbles, season with salt pepper and garlic powder
  5. Once the meat is mostly cooked add in the dried herbs
  6. Once everything is soft and crumbly add in your flour and mix it around until everything is coated.
  7. Pour in whatever is left in your chicken stock container and add in your tomato paste.
  8. This is also the time to add in your peas and mushrooms.
  9. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is thickened. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  10. Peel and chop sweet potatoes and add to pot of well salted water.
  11. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork soft.
  12. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix until soft. Use potato water to get the consistency you require.
  13. Freeze or assemble.
  14. Layer casserole dish or baking pan with fulling mixture. Pipe or spoon on the sweet potatoes. Smooth with a spatula. Decorate with a fork if you want and top with cheese if you want.
  15. Bake at 400 for 30-45 minutes until crust is golden and bubbling.