Carb Free Pizza – Cheese IS the Crust

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. It’s not that I haven’t tried anything new in all this time. Actually, I’ve tried quite a few things and I hope to backtrack and post about some of them. Since I last posted, my wife and I have really tried to eat healthier. One thing we have been doing is trying to cut down on carbs. Since pizza is one of our favorite dishes, we figured a healthier pizza would be a great thing to add to our meal plans.

This pizza really struck us as odd since it contains no dough. The crust is literally made of cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese – or more if desired
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp basil
  • pepperoni

Directions:

  1. Mix the cheeses, eggs and garlic well
  2. Spread the mixture on a 16 inch baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  3. Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes – but watch after 10 and remove when golden brown
  4. Add some additional mozzarella cheese as desired
  5. Add your toppings – we used pepperoni
  6. Broil on the center rack for around 5 minutes until additional cheese is melted and toppings are cooked

Carb Free Pizza - Crust

The idea of using cheese as a crust seemed very odd to me. I wasn’t quite sure how it would work. We saw several recipes for this kind of thing and this one used the fewest number of eggs. We figured we wanted to avoid an egg flavor to our pizza so we went with this one.

Carb Free Pizza - Crust Baked

Once the crust was cooked, we could kind of see how this was going to work. My only concern was how firm the crust would be.

Carb Free Pizza - Sauce

Carb Free Pizza - Chese

So we continued making the pizza pretty much the way we would if it had “real” crust. I’m not really sure we needed to add additional cheese after the sauce since the crust was cheese, but we did it anyway.

Carb Free Pizza - Ready to Cook

Next we added a whole bunch of pepperoni. Never hold back on pepperoni. The way I see it, every bite should have some. Unfortunately, we ran out so the last little bit was plain.

Carb Free Pizza - Fully Cooked

As you can see, it came out looking really good. However, my concerns about the firmness of the crust were valid. You will pretty much need a fork to eat this pizza. Either that or cut it into much smaller pieces. That is what we chose to do. It made a great Super Bowl meal along with some cheese fries we made. Cheese, pepperoni, fries, bacon and Patriots win were all I could ask for.

We didn’t finish the pizza last night, so I heated it up again for dinner tonight. I was really curious how well it would hold up as leftovers. I knew microwaving it would be a bad idea, so I tossed it in the oven at 400 for a few minutes.

Carb Free Pizza - Leftovers

It actually hold up pretty well the next day. Well, the crust was still not as firm as an actual dough crust, but it tasted just as good as the night before. I must admit that I am not really sure of any of the nutritional info for this pizza, except that it uses no carbs. If that’s what you are looking for in a pizza, this one definitely gets the fussy eater seal of approval.

 

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs Recipe

My wife has often commented on how we should cook chicken thighs since they are generally much cheaper than chicken breast. I tended to think they probably weren’t very good if they were so cheap – besides, they are kind of small too. Well, she found a recipe that changed my mind about them even though the recipe does include garlic powder.

Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs

I’m including the recipe as it was listed. However, we did stray from it a little.

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat.
  4. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.
  5. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.
  6. Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well.
  7. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over.
  8. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

We couldn’t find boneless chicken thighs so we got them with the bone. That was both good and bad. The good thing about the thighs with bone is that they are a bit bigger. I’m not sure if there actually is more meat on them than if we used boneless, but it gives the appearance of more. On the other hand, they seemed to take a lot longer to cook than the recipe calls for. They say 5 minutes  per side, then brush with honey and do one or two more minutes per side. I think we ended up cooking them around 10 minutes per side.

Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken Thighs - Plated

Regardless of how long they may have taken to cook, I must say they were absolutely delicious. I would never have guessed they were made with garlic powder if I hadn’t read the recipe. The honey made them nice and sweet and the red pepper gave them some kick.

With this recipe, my opinion of chicken thighs has been changed forever. It definitely meets with this fussy eater’s approval.

via Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs Recipe | MyRecipes.com.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

My wife has been out of town for a little bit taking care of her mother. This has left me to mostly fend for myself at home. Fortunately, our youngest daughter, Kate, is currently living at home and has helped me to avoid going back to my old ways of hot dogs, pork and beans and eating out of the pan I cook in. She has also turned me on to Game of Thrones.

Anyway, she made these once before, but I didn’t really get a chance to try them. They are quick and easy to prepare, which is great. It’s not much of a recipe since she doesn’t measure anything. At least when I prepare things without measuring I have some general idea of the amounts or proportions. Since I have no clue here, I’ll just lay out the ingredients and leave to each of you to figure out what amounts work for you.

Ingredients:

  • Petite Brussels Sprouts
  • Olive oil
  • Bacon
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Microwave some bacon.
  2. Put olive oil in a pan and add Brussels Sprouts.
  3. Break up the bacon into small pieces and add to the pan.
  4. Add a small amount on garlic.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Saute for a few minute until Brussels Sprouts are done.

Kate suggests microwaving the bacon for two reasons. First, the paper towels that you use above and below the bacon will help draw out the grease so they are a little healthier. Second, it help to make them a bit more crisp and uniform so you can easily break them up into small pieces.

Brussels Sprouts w/Bacon

They were pretty good. The only thing I noticed was that some pieces seemed to have more garlic than others. I will probably leave out the garlic when I make these myself. I’m also thinking of adding some chili powder to give them some kick. I’m sure there is a lot that could be done with them. Any ideas?

Whole Wheat Rolls Recipe

On Friday night, Nemo came to town bringing a bit less snow that we originally expected. It was still a good 6 inches or so, but not the 18 we could have gotten. I have cousins in Connecticut who had closer to 30 inches. I’m glad we didn’t get anywhere near that. We have a rather long driveway and a few years back our snow blower died and I’ve been shoveling every year since.

Nemo - Driveway Before

 

What you can’t tell from these pictures is just how big the area at the top of the driveway is for the cars. We fit 3 cars across and have an area for backing up to turn around. I think that is probably more square footage than the rest of the driveway. It certainly takes longer. You have to walk the snow over the the side to dump it.

Nemo - Driveway After

Since I was going to be outside shoveling, my wife made hot cocoa for me during a break I took and also when I finished. She even puts little marshmallows in it. Because I was working so hard, she also planned a nice hearty dinner. There are a couple of meals she makes that I really look forward to and this was one of them – meatloaf with Betty Crocker’s  Butter & Herb Mashed Potatoes.

Nemo - Dig Out Meal

But, as if the smell of meatloaf in the house wasn’t enough, she went a step further. She made homemade whole wheat rolls to go along with dinner. They seemed pretty simple to make but do take some time to rise. They didn’t rise much during the first rise period, but the really did double during the second. Linda didn’t notice how many rolls it was supposed to make so she had 9 large rolls instead of 12 smaller ones. They cooked up quite large and nicely golden brown.

Whole Wheat Rolls Fresh From Oven

 

We think that because they were so large they came out just a little doughy in the middle, so we probably should have lightly covered them and given them a little more time. Still, they came out really delicious. There is nothing like a nice hot fresh buttered roll to go along with meatloaf. I was quite full then I was done.

Buttered Whole Wheat Rolls

 

My wife puts a lot of love into her cooking and it really shows. She has a bunch of wheat flour left over and plans on making a few more treats. I can’t wait. For now, if you want to make some whole wheat rolls yourself, here is the recipe.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Canola oil, optional

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, sugar, yeast and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120°-130° add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened.
  3. Add egg; beat until smooth. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough.
  4. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  6. Punch dough down; shape into 12 balls. Place in a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush tops with oil if desired.
  7. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cover loosely with foil if top browns too quickly. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 dozen.

via Whole Wheat Rolls Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes.

Campfire Potatoes Recipe

Along with the Cajun Flank Steak we had for dinner tonight, we made Campfire Potatoes. We found the recipe on the side of the bag of Yukon Gold potatoes. I wasn’t very keen on the onions, but it looked OK otherwise.

Ingredients:

  • 24oz Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to high heat (around 600).
  2. Slice potatoes thin.
  3. Slice onion.
  4. Spread potatoes and onion slices in the pan.
  5. Cut the butter into pieces and spread them out in the pan.
  6. Mix cheddar cheese, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and sprinkle over the potatoes.
  7. Add chicken broth and cover with foil.
  8. Cook on the grill for about 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Campfire Potatoes - Recipe

I had never worked with Yukon Gold potatoes before. I was surprised at how small they are compared to normal baking potatoes.

Campfire Potatoes - Slicing

We sliced the potatoes with a mandolin set at 1/4 inch. That gave us a lot of slices from that one bag of potatoes.

Campfire Potatoes - Prep

Originally we were going to put the potatoes on foil but we found that they were easier to work with in a foil pan we had leftover from our FootBall Food Frenzy.

Campfire Potatoes - Ready to ServeThe potatoes cooked for about 35 minutes and then we let them stand about 5 minutes. They were very tender. It was a little hard to tell that there was any cheddar cheese on them when they cooked.

Cajun Flank Steak with Campfire PotatoesSo I decided it would be a good idea to add a little cheddar on top after everything was plated. The potatoes were very tender, but I didn’t really care for the onion taste they had. I avoided the onion slices themselves. I can’t say I liked them, but I didn’t entirely dislike them either although I didn’t finish them all. I think I might be able to work with these to come up with something I would like better. Linda suggested using a Spanish onion. I might try that as well as adding more cheddar cheese.

Crock Pot Pork Chops Recipe

Fall seems to be the time of year that people break out the crock pots and slow cookers. They’re great for pot roast, but can also be used to make some really great meals that you probably cook other ways. You might not even have considered using a crock pot for them. I know I would never have thought to use it for pork chops.

My wife Linda was looking around for slow cooker recipes and stumbled on this one that looked good so we decided to give it a try this past weekend. We made a few changes based on availability of ingredients. I’m listing the recipe the way we prepared it. Feel free to visit the source to find the original recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  •  Goya’s Con Culantro Y Achiote
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 4 thick cut boneless pork chops
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, chicken broth, and seasonings.
  2. Pour into the slow cooker.
  3. Cut small slits in each pork chop with the tip of a knife, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Place pork chops into the crock pot, cover, and cook on High for 4 hours flipping them about once an hour.

via Slow Cooker Pork Chops II Recipe – Allrecipes.com.

When Linda found this recipe we made sure to pick up all the ingredients, but apparently we missed a few things. We thought we had paprika and totally overlooked the poultry seasoning. We decided to skip them both and use Achiote instead since we always have some on hand.

I must confess that I was a little nervous about this recipe since it not only calls for garlic powder, but also minced garlic as well. Still, I tried to keep an open mind and waited until they were done to try it. They certainly didn’t smell bad in the crock pot all afternoon.

So finally the moment of truth came as it was time for dinner. The first thing we noticed was how incredibly tender they were. The chops were practically falling apart as we pulled them out. I really liked the way they fat separated from the meat. Even Linda noticed that the fat wasn’t as appetizing as it would normally be when they were fried or broiled.

When Linda served my pork chops, I didn’t see any noticeable garlic on them. I think the garlic may sink to the bottom of the crock pot, but I’m not sure. All I know is that it wasn’t on my chops and that’s a good thing. Since they were so tender, you only needed a fork to break it up into bite sized pieces. I still wasn’t sure if I was going to like them. Linda said hers needed more seasoning. Personally, I thought they were really good. As they used to say in the Alka-Seltzer commercials – ” I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”.

So this recipe gets the fussy eater stamp of approval. Chances are we’ll be trying a few more crock pot recipes this fall. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Acorn Squash Recipe

Recently, my wife and I picked up an acorn squash to try. We’ve never had one before so we looked around for a recipe that looked like something we might like. She came up with one that seemed kind of similar to the butternut squash recipe that we didn’t like. (Cue dark, foreboding music).

Ingredients:

  • Acorn Squash
  • 2 tbsp Dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp Butter

Directions:

  1. Cut the acorn squash down the middle – Use a large knife as this is not easy.
  2. Remove the seeds.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes on 350 degrees in a pan with the cut side down.
  4. Remove from oven and turn over.
  5. Add butter to each half.
  6. Add brown sugar and cinnamon to each half.
  7. Return to the oven to cook another 30-45 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and scoop out the squash to serve.

As soon as we started, I had a bad feeling. The acorn squash looked a lot like the butternut squash except it is more round. It has that same orange color. It also has a similar smell. They both remind me of pumpkin. I guess that makes sense since the pumpkin is a kind of squash too. All three are considered “winter squash”.

As with the butternut squash, I was really hoping that the brown sugar would make it taste good. Well, brown sugar let me down again. Even with brown sugar and cinnamon, I didn’t like it. Neither did Linda. We have concluded that we just aren’t winter squash people. However, Linda says that she thinks I might like pumpkin pie. She might make one later this year for me to try.

From what I’m hearing from people, if you don’t like butternut squash or acorn squash prepared with brown sugar, chances are you just don’t like the squash and no recipe will change that. I think we will likely continue our efforts with summer squash when they are in season again.

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