Tag Archives: low carb

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

quiche side 1

I procrastinated today and instead of doing my work, I did some experimenting and cooking in the kitchen!  We had a frozen pie crust I needed to use (it kept threatening to fall out of the freezer in an annoying way), so I decided to make a quiche.  I try to keep my processed foods on the low side (with the occasional lapse of salty snacks that sometimes make their way in our house…).  So I made one quiche with the Pilsbury pie crust and one quiche for myself with cauliflower crust (my husband and son hate cauliflower, so that’s why there was no sharing).

I based the filling on this Cooking Light recipe.  I doubled it because I was making two quiches.  The recipe below is for one quiche.  I used onion instead of shallot since that’s what we had. I lessened the oil to 1/2 tablespoon, used only half of the zucchini, and added parmesan cheese.  The results were yummy!  This quiche is also gluten free. 🙂

quiche top

Low Carb Cauliflower Crust Bacon Zucchini Quiche

For crust:

Non-stick spray

1/2 head cauliflower, about 18 oz., chopped

6 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 2 whites)

salt and pepper

1/4 cup almond meal

For filling:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 small zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs

9 tablespoons liquid egg whites (or 3 whites)

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 1/2 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella (about 1/4 cup)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray pie pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside

2.  Finely process cauliflower in food processor.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with saran, and steam in microwave for 4 minutes.

3.  Mix cooked cauliflower, 6 tablespoons egg whites, salt and pepper, and almond meal together in the bowl.  Pour into the pie pan and shape crust with a spoon, pushing sides up the edges.

4.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn heat down to 350 degrees.

5.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, add onion, zucchini, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened.  Let cool a bit.

6.  Beat eggs, egg whites, milk, parmesan cheese, and bacon together in a bowl.  Set aside.

7.  Spoon cooked onion and zucchini mixture into cauliflower crust and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

Then pour egg/bacon mixture on top.

8.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until center is set.

Serves 8.

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25 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Gluten Free

Shirataki Noodles and Soba Noodles

Shirataki Noodle Ramen

Shirataki Noodle Ramen

I made this comforting soup for lunch the other day.  I wasn’t even going to post it, because it involves packages of instant ramen noodles.  lol.  I grew up eating instant ramen (one of my dad’s specialties), and Jamie loves it too.  The sodium content is pretty outrageous, so I usually only use part of the seasoning packet in the soup.  It can also end up being a lot of calories — one package of noodles is supposed to be two servings.  It’s so easy to eat the whole thing as one serving.  I usually use 1 1/2 packages for Jamie and Denis.

I also like to use Shirataki noodles instead of eating the ramen noodles.  For the uninitiated, shirataki noodles are gluten free, low carb, chewy noodles made from a Japanese yam and are mostly water and fiber — hence the low carb value attributed to them.

Shirataki noodles

Shirataki noodles

I grew up eating them in Asian dishes and have always liked them.  But in the past five years or so, I’ve seen them touted by Hungry Girl and used in Western dishes, like fettucine alfredo.  This personally makes me gag.  The texture is so wrong.  These noodles are nothing like pasta.  People also complain about the fishy order that wafts out of the package when you open it.  You have to rinse the noodles and boil them.  I still feel that the slightly fishy, earthy odor remains, but in Asian dishes, like ramen, this is no problem.  It suits it.  So when I make ramen for the boys, I make shirataki for myself, and we share the broth.  I also like to add cooked egg, chopped scallions, and some kind of protein like cooked shrimp or chicken to it.

Another simple noodle dish is Tempura Soba.   It’s a Japanese tradition (which I did not grow up celebrating) to eat plain soba noodle soup right before midnight. I did this once in Japan before going to the temple and ringing the gong. I made it for our dinner tonight and added tempura shrimp for some protein. Recently I learned that buckwheat noodles are gluten free!  So that is good news for my niece and nephew and others who are gluten intolerant.  If your make your tempura batter with rice flour, then the tempura shrimp could also be made gluten free. 🙂

Shrimp tempura

Shrimp tempura

We’re looking forward to ringing in the new year tonight!  2013 had its extreme ups and downs — let’s hope 2014 is a more stable good one.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Soba with Shrimp Tempura

Soba with Shrimp Tempura

Shirataki ramen

Shirataki ramen

Shirataki Noodle Ramen

1 package of shirataki noodles

an egg, beaten

1 1/2 packages of instant ramen (the kind that come in a block)

Cooked meat (chopped ham, shrimp, pork, chicken, etc.)

scallions for garnish

shichimi togarashi (Japanese chili pepper) optional for garnish

1.  Cook shirataki noodles according the package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Cook beaten egg in a skillet.  Remove and chop up; set aside.

3.  Cook ramen according to package instructions (you may choose to not use all of the seasoning packet as I do).  Or if you are just eating the shirataki noodles and not using the ramen noodles, don’t bother cooking.

4.  Place desired amount of shirataki noodles in a large bowl.  Top with cooked egg, and cooked meat.  Ladle ramen broth into bowl.  Garnish with scallions and Shichimi Togarashi.

soba-with-shrimp-tempura

Shrimp Tempura Soba Noodles

1/2 pound dried soba (buckwheat) noodles

Oil for coating noodles and for frying

8 cups water

about 4 inches or .5 oz. of dried kombu (kelp — this is found in some Asian markets)

1 cup  or 10-15 g dried bonito flakes

1/3 cup soy sauce

2  tablespoons mirin

1  tablespoons sugar

1 cup tempura flour (you can use flour + 1/4 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder if you don’t have tempura flour)

1 cup ice water or seltzer (with ice cubes)

12-15 large shrimp, deveined

scallions sliced thinly for garnish

Other garnish ideas:  sliced boiled egg, sliced fish cake, cooked spinach

1.  Boil water in a large pot, and cook dried soba noodles in it for about 4 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Coat with a bit of oil and set aside.

2.  Fill pot with 8 cups of water.  Add kombu.  Turn up heat.  Right before it comes to a rolling boil, remove kombu and discard.  Add bonito flakes and boil for about 30 seconds.  Turn off heat.  Let broth sit until flakes settle to bottom of pot.  Strain liquid into a clean pot, pressing on bonito flakes to get as much flavorful broth as possible.

3.  Heat broth over low heat.  Add soy sauce, mirin, and sugar.  Bring to a boil and dissolve sugar.  Set aside but keep hot.

4.  Heat about 1 inch of oil in a wok or saucepan to about 340 F.  Mix tempura flour with ice water.  Do not over mix — it’s OK if it’s lumpy.  Keep the ice cubes in the batter.  Dip shrimp in batter to coat and fry in hot oil until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes.  Remove to a rack placed over a baking sheet to drain.  Continue to cook rest of shrimp this way, being careful not to overcrowd them in the oil.

5.  To assemble, add cooked soba to a bowl, pour broth over.  Garnish with shrimp tempura and scallions.

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Filed under Eggs, Gluten Free, Shrimp, Soup

Low Carb Mashed “Potatoes”

We’ve been traveling a lot recently (hence the sporadic posting here!) visiting family in Illinois and Long Island.  In Illinois we celebrated my nephew and sister-in-law’s graduations.  So proud of them!  My sister-in-law decided to go back to school to finish her college degree when my niece was two (she will be 21 this year).  She really stuck with it and kept working towards her goal,  while raising three children, and working full-time as a teacher’s aide for several years.  Sometimes she could only take one class a semester.  For several years, she had to take a break from it.  But in the end, she did it! And she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education this summer.

So proud of this woman!!

So proud of this woman!!

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Before all of our travels and family events, I had meant to post a couple of simple veggie recipes that I make daily.  The cauliflower ones are low carb and make a good substitute for starchier vegetables like potatoes.  I tried once to sneak in some cauliflower into my husband’s plate but he wasn’t having it.  He barely tolerates me cooking it, complaining about the smell.  I usually light a scented candle and continue with my cooking.  

I made a hearty meal of meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes, but for myself, I made mashed cauliflower.  You basically make it the same way as mashed potatoes.  Just added heated milk/cream, butter and seasonings.

cauliflower

I love the versatility of cauliflower.  I have also used it in place of rice sometimes, but processing it in a food processor and microwaving for about 4 minutes.  

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

You process it until it has the consistency of rice.

 

Another great way to prepare it is roasting at a high temperature — around 400F for 20 minutes, flipping and roasting for another 10 minutes.   I can seriously it a whole half of a head this way in one sitting.

roasted 2

For my guys, though, I made mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and parmesan cheese.  It also was quite yummy.

Silky smooth

Silky smooth

With gravy...

With gravy…

They like it with absolutely no lumps or grainy texture, so I whip the whole batch up with an immersion blender.  It makes it silky smooth!  When Jamie was a baby, I used to make all of his food like this (sans seasonings).  I’d just steam or boil the vegetable and then puree with a blender with some liquid, like milk, water, or broth.  It’s a really easy way to make a lot of baby food.  I used to freeze extra too in ice cube trays.  I’d transfer the cubes to freezer bags, and I’d always have a portion on hand to serve.  Apparently, though, there are some foods, I learned later that you should not make for babies.  Check it out here.

Which do you prefer?  Potatoes or cauliflower?  Do you prefer your potatoes smashed with texture or completely smooth?

Mashed Cauliflower

1/2 head to 1 whole cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

butter to taste

about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup warm milk or cream to taste

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Steam or boil a half or whole head of cauliflower

2.  Process in a food processor.  While processor is on, add some butter, warmed milk or cream to the desired consistency.

3.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cauliflower “Rice”

1/2 to 1 whole head of cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

1.  Process raw cauliflower in food processor until it has the texture of small grain rice or couscous

2.  Transfer to a large bowl, cover with saran and microwave for about 4 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

Cauliflower couscous with butter, roasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries

Cauliflower couscous:  I added butter, roasted sliced almonds, and dried cranberries to the cauliflower “rice”

Roasted Cauliflower

1/2 to 1 whole head of cauliflower washed, and cut into quarters, then eighths

olive oil

kosher salt

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Slice pieces of cauliflower into 1/4 -inch slices.  Toss in large bowl with olive oil.

3.  Spread on one or two baking sheets in one layer.  Sprinkle with salt.

4.  Roast undisturbed for 20 minutes.  Flip and roast for 10 more minutes.

roasted cauliflower

Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan

1 head of garlic

Olive oil

2 lbs. Yukon potatoes, diced

1/2 cup to 1 cup warm milk or cream

kosher salt to taste

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  Cut off top of garlic.  Drizzle with oil, wrap head of garlic in foil.  Roast for about 30 minutes.  Unwrap and squeeze cloves out.  Set aside.

3.  Place potatoes in water to cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes until potatoes are tender.  While potatoes are simmering, warm milk or cream (but do not let boil).

4.  Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.  Season with warm milk, roasted garlic, parmesan cheese and salt, a bit at a time, tasting  along the way.  Stir with a spoon to incorporate.  When you are satisfied with the flavor, whip smooth with an immersion blender or mixer (if you want it perfectly smooth — some people prefer there’s mashed with more texture and feel the smooth way is too “gummy”,  so it’s up to you)!

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Filed under Sides, Vegetables

Cats and Curried Tuna Lettuce Wraps

Curried Tuna Salad in Lettuce Wrap
Recipe at end of post


Lo-o-o-ve me.

I recently finished some commissioned cat portraits.  I love cats, and I love painting them.  It’s so sad that I’m highly allergic to them, though, so we can’t live with them (I’ve tried, believe me!)   So painting is the next best option! 🙂

I often add cats to my book illustrations, even if they aren’t mentioned in the text.  I just love their presence.  I usually put in cats I know.  The white one with the black tail below is “Taxi”, my friend’s beloved cat, whom I loved too.  He makes an appearance in my first illustrated book, Night Shift Daddy.

I even devoted a whole parallel narrative to Chanukah Lights Everywhere involving cats.  On each night of Chanukah, more cats appear.  It’s fun to try and find them all.  Below is the 6th night, so hiding cats is getting tricky.  In the winter sometimes our street looks like this (minus all the cats, of course!) I won’t ask you to find all six, because one of them is cut off — a white cat is on one of the rooftops.  There are three cats in the windows, one cat being walked by a woman, and another cat in a green cat carrier in the background.

My husband always had cats before we got together.  I even tried to live with the last pair, Bogey and Misia, for five years, before we found good people to take care of them.

I think all those years of taking care of of cats has made it impossible for him to eat any kind of canned fish.  He can’t help but to associate it with cat food.

I, on the other hand, am happy to eat canned tuna, sardines, salmon, etc.  Also, it’s not like I eat it straight out of the can!  When you season everything it takes on a whole other dimension!
It’s also so good for you, filled with protein, good fats, calcium…

To eat, just roll the thin part of the leaf over and munch!

I made these Curried Tuna Lettuce Wraps for lunch today, and they were so good!  I love eating lettuce instead of bread in the summer because it’s just so darn refreshing and delicious.  You can use iceberg or butter lettuce in place of romaine.  I love the flavor and texture of romaine lettuce though.  The saltiness of the  cashews and sweetness of the golden raisins and apple are a nice complement to the curried tuna which has a bit of a kick!

Curried Tuna Lettuce Wraps

1 can of environmentally safe tuna

1/2 stalk of celery, minced (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 Fuji apple, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon Madras curry powder

kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons chopped roasted salted cashews

2 tablespoons golden raisins

washed and dried Romaine or other crunchy lettuce leaves

1.  Drain canned tuna and transfer to a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients, except lettuce leaves and stir to combine.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

2.  Wrap tuna salad in lettuce leaves.  Eat!

19 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Books, Children, Fish, Lunch

Low Carb “Veggie Crusts and Shells”


I love breads, cereals, rice, grains of any kind– I am not a carb hater.  But I find my body is happiest when eating those things in moderation.   When a friend of mine announced she was going “breadless” for awhile, I started thinking of all the yummy things she could eat in place of bread.

I’ve used shredded zucchini in the past as a base of a pizza crust during Passover.


Another versatile vegetable is cauliflower.  Pureed with a bit of cooking water, butter, cream, and salt, it makes a great substitute for mashed potatoes.  Processed in a food processor until crumbly and then steamed for four minutes, it is also a great substitute for rice (though for me, I would not use it in place of Japanese rice).

You can process it until it has the consistency of rice.

I’ve eaten it as a sort of pilaf/couscous with butter, salt, toasted almonds and dried cranberries:

I’ve also seen it various places used in a pizza crust.  I’ve fiddled with the recipe and came up with one I use all the time as a single serving sans all the cheese.  I mix my steamed cauliflower (I nuke it for four minutes without water, just covered with saran) with 2 tablespoons egg white (about one), 1 teaspoon grated parmesan, 1 tablespoon any kind of flour (wheat, soy, almond, chickpea, coconut, etc.) or matzo meal, and seasonings.

It has a texture similar to polenta.

Shape into a crust. I like to do it  on parchment so it doesn’t stick.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Place another piece of parchment on top, flip over onto baking sheet, then peel the top piece of parchment off the browned side.  Bake another 5-10 minutes.

Top with whatever you like.  I’ve used it as a pizza crust, as mentioned before:

Cauliflower pizza with sausage and caramelized onions and mozzarella.

And I’ve also used it as a tostada “shell”:

With refried beans, cheese, lettuce, salsa, and plain Greek yogurt.

Recently, I tried shredded butternut squash (because I discovered I was out of zucchini) and it was fantastic!

Raw

Cooked

The texture was not as crunchy or crispy as the zucchini, but perhaps this could change if I used a bit less egg white and matzo meal instead of soy flour. I’m still experimenting.  The flavor was great though!  Now I’m also thinking of other combinations — shredded carrot and zucchini might be good… I’d love to hear if you try any of these, or come up with your own creations!

Butternut squash used as a tostada “shell” with refried beans, grilled veggies, lettuce, cheese, and Green yogurt.

Individual Veggie Crust

1 cup of shredded vegetable of choice (if using cauliflower, process  and steam for 4 minutes)

1 tablespoon any kind of flour or matzo meal

1 teaspoon or so of parmesan or more if you like

2-3 tablespoons liquid egg whites or 1 egg white (depending on how crunchy you want the crust to be)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees (I use a toaster oven).

2.  Mix ingredients together in bowl.

3.  Shape crust into a 1/4 inch layer on parchment paper on baking sheet.

4.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Place another piece of parchment on top, flip crust, and peel top sheet off of browned side.

5.  Bake for another 5-10 minutes until desired browning is achieved.

6.  Use as a pizza crust or tostada shell and top with toppings of your choice.

17 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Vegetables

Low Carb Zucchini Pasta and Creamy Ricotta, Smoked Bacon, and Artichoke Sauce

After our week of eating while traveling — that is, many In-n-Out burgers, diner food, and other processed and greasy vittles, it feels good to be back at home, cooking healthy whole foods again!

I had to make a quick weeknight meal last night, so I made some pasta for the boys, and sauteed zucchini “pasta” for me.  I saw this recipe on the NY Times site, and it sounded intriguing.  It’s just zucchini slices made with a vegetable peeler sauteed in olive oil until al dente and seasoned with salt.  It really makes a wonderful foil for a creamy rich sauce, and I think it’s more flavorful than regular pasta.  I saved the cores of the two zucchini and will steam them and throw them in a soup later in the week.

Cooking the zucchini al dente makes a wonderful alternative to pasta.

I knew I wanted a rich, creamy sauce (I had extra ricotta  on hand), so I made up one inspired by this Cooking Light Alfredo with Bacon recipe.  I altered it by adding the ricotta, nutmeg, a mix of part skim plain mozzarella and whole milk smoky mozzarella to bring out the smokiness of the bacon, and some leftover artichoke hearts I had that needed to be used!

It was a perfect marriage of flavors and my boys loved it (always a good indicator for a recipe I can use in the future!)

Ricotta Artichoke Sauce with Spaghetti -- fettucine would be great too, but none to be found in our pantry at the time!

Pasta with Ricotta Cream Sauce and Bacon

½ lb. pasta (spaghetti or fettucine works well) and 1/2 recipe of zucchini pasta

or 1 lb. pasta or one full recipe of zucchini pasta

kosher salt

2 slices of hickory smoked bacon, chopped

2 teaspoons  olive oil

½ small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon flour

1 ½ cup milk (whole or 2% would probably be best, but I used skim!)

¾ cup ricotta (5 oz.)

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup grated mozzarella (I used a combination of regular and smoky)

2 canned artichoke hearts, chopped (could probably use more, but that’s all I had)

½ teaspoon nutmeg

Freshly crushed black pepper

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Season water with salt and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about ¼ cup cooking water and drain pasta.  Or make zucchini pasta.
  2. While pasta is cooking make sauce.  Cook bacon in a large skillet until browned.  Remove to a paper lined plate to drain.
  3. Add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to pan depending on how much bacon grease is left.  I hardly had any so I had to add oil.  Saute chopped onion and garlic until softened.  Sprinkle flour on top and brown quickly in pan.  Then whisk in milk gradually to create a sauce.  Add ricotta and whisk until smooth.  Then add parmesan and mozzarella and artichoke hearts.  Stir to combine.  Season with kosher salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste.  Simmer over low heat until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss to coat.  Add bacon and stir.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

26 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Pasta, Vegetables