Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Low Carb Baked Fake-Ziti

Diligently cooking low carb food for my husband really had me missing my baked ziti. I just wanted some sort of cheesy, carby, vaguely Italian casserole. My answer to this problem was to substitute cauliflower for the pasta, and it worked amazingly well! It hits all the same notes that a baked ziti or lasagna would, minus the carbs, and plus a ton of veggies. The cauliflower flavor is very mild in this recipe, and just like pasta, it takes up the flavors of sauce wonderfully. This recipe follows the same sort of formula as my beloved roasted eggplant parm: essentially neutral veggies plus marinara and cheese. Mushrooms or spinach are great optional add-ins here.

Baked Fake-Ziti
approximately 40 oz cauliflower florets (I use frozen)
1/2 t salt
1/2 lb Italian sausage
1 T minced garlic 
28 oz crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce (my favorite is Trader Joe's canned marinara)
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning
black and red pepper to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces (or 1 cup) shredded low-fat mozzarella, a few handfuls reserved for topping

Salt the cauliflower and cook until al dente. You can microwave it for about 10 minutes or do what I like to do, which is roast it in the oven at 450 while I'm preparing the rest of the ingredients. If any liquid pools in the bottom of the pan after cooking, drain it to prevent it from watering down the sauce. (This only happens to me if I microwave it.)

Brown sausage in skillet. Add garlic and saute briefly.

Combine all ingredients (except reserved cheese) in bowl. Transfer into a 9 x 13 baking dish (or equivalent) and top with reserved mozzarella. Lower oven temp to 375 degrees and bake, uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is completely melted. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Serves 5-6.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Crockpot Aloo Gobi

Aloo gobi is an Indian mixed vegetable dish with cauliflower and potatoes, usually steamed and then sauteed until soft and a tiny bit caramelized. It comes out great in the crockpot. The only difference is that it makes a small amount of sauce, whereas the traditional aloo gobi is a rather dry dish. I think the sauce is delicious, and most of it gets absorbed into the veggies eventually anyway. You might have seen in my Cooking Philosophy that I have a particular fondness for one-pot meals (it makes cleanup so easy and makes it super easy to pack leftover meals). Aloo gobi often has green peas added, so I subbed in garbanzo beans to up the protein and promote it to complete meal status. It turned out fabulous! The potatoes and garbonzos added a comforting creamy contrast to the richly flavored spices.

Crockpot Aloo Gobi
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 large or two medium russet potatoes, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 large cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained (Optional. If you want a more traditional aloo gobi, instead of garbonzos, stir in 1 cup frozen green peas after cooking.)
1 T minced garlic
2 t minced ginger
black pepper to taste
2 T curry powder of choice (I make my own: 1 T cumin seeds or 2 t ground cumin, 1 t turmeric, 1 1/2 t coriander, 1 t mustard seeds, 1/2 t cayenne, 1/4 t ground cinnamon, 1/4 t ground cardamom)
3 T salt (if your curry powder has salt in it, reduce the salt you add)
pinch of sugar or Splenda to round out flavor
1 T butter or coconut oil (Optional; adds richness)
1 10-15 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies

Garnish
1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (optional; add after cooking)

Directions
In a 5-7 quart slow cooker, layer ingredients in order of ingredient list (this ensures that the things that need to be cooked the most, like the onions and potatoes, are on the bottom, where it gets the hottest. Cook on low for 8 hours or high 4 hours. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

At this point, we all know how much I love canned pumpkin. You can think of this recipe as a bread pudding or a baked French toast, depending on what time of day you feel like eating it. I mix a substantial amount of pumpkin into the custard, which lends it an ultra-creamy, thick texture. Plus, you're getting a serving of veggies with your dessert or breakfast! It's fancy enough to serve as a dinner party dessert or a special occasion breakfast, but really easy to pull off because it is best if assembled ahead of time.

Ingredients
1 cup sugar or sweetener of choice (I use Splenda)
1 T pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon plus a bit of nutmeg, cloves, and/or allspice)
3 cups milk (I use almond milk)
5 large eggs
2 t vanilla extract
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 loaf French or Italian bread (I like to use a rustic whole wheat loaf), torn into 1-2 inch chunks
1 cup raisins, dried cranberries, and/or pumpkin seeds (optional)

Mix the first two ingredients together in a large bowl, then add in wet ingredients. Tear bread into bowl and stir together. Dump into greased 9x13 baking dish, cover, and let sit for at least an hour, or overnight. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for approximately 35 minutes, until custard is set.

Serve with syrup, powdered sugar, pecans, whipped cream, or yogurt.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Chili

It's a theme on this blog that my husband's default food request is chili. I am constantly trying to come up with new variations that satisfy my need for variety. There are a bunch of recipes for buffalo chicken chili floating around on the internet, and this is my amalgamation of them, with a healthy twist. I've "beefed" up the veggies by adding bell peppers, white beans, and a bit of pumpkin puree, which thickens the sauce, but doesn't make it taste pumpkiny. This is definitely one of those dishes that tastes better the next day, and it freezes very well.

Buffalo Chicken Chili
2 pounds ground chicken
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb bell peppers, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce. This makes a medium-to-spicy dish. Add more or less to your taste
15 oz can cannelini beans, partially mashed
2 T cumin
1 T smoked paprika
3/4 t oregano leaves
1 t Adobo seasoning or salt
1 T worchestershire sauce

Garnish
blue cheese, crumbled
sour cream
chopped green onions or celery


In a greased dutch oven or stockpot, brown chicken. Remove and set aside. Saute veggies until a bit caramelized. Dump in remaining ingredients except garnish and simmer for at least a half hour.