Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cheesy Low-Carb Chicken, Sausage, and Veggies Skillet

I'm always on the lookout for a satisfying low-carb meal. One of the most popular low-carb meals on this blog is my Cheeseburger Cauliflower. It's still one of my favorites too. I find myself craving this meal fairly often, but I have also been craving other flavor profiles. After making this dish a few times now I'm ready to share this recipe. I think you'll agree. Having two proteins in in the same skillet makes this a very satisfying dish.

Cheesy Low-Carb Chicken, Sausage, and Veggie Skillet
1 onion
2 chicken breasts
1 lb ground sausage
1 lb frozen green beans
4 oz of cream cheese (use low fat for South Beach and regular for The New Atkins)
1 cup shredded cheddar (use low fat for South Beach and regular for The New Atkins)
1/4 cup of half and half (use low fat for South Beach and regular for The New Atkins)
1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 large clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1. Slice onions in half moons.


2. Remove tenderloins from chicken breasts. Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to make four thin breasts. This will make 6 pieces of chicken. Cut these pieces into small, thin, bite-size medallions by cutting diagonally. 


3. Pre-heat oven to warm (about 170 degrees). Break up sausage into small chunks in the biggest frying pan you have and brown it up.



4. Remove the sausage crumbles from the pan leaving a tablespoon of sausage grease. Place the cooked sausage in a large oven-safe dish and place it in the warm oven. Add butter to the pan. When the butter is melted and mixed in with the sausage fat, add the onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper.



5. When the onions are soft, translucent, and browned add the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic and onions for 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant and then add them to the oven safe dish.

6. If needed add a little olive oil to the pan and add the chicken medallions in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If necessary do this in 2 batches. When the chicken is done on one side (when you can see the pink against the white) flip the chicken and cover the pan for 2 minutes until the chicken is just cooked through (no pink). Do not over cook the chicken otherwise they get tough and dry. Add the chicken to the growing pile of deliciousness keeping warm in the oven.


7. Add a little water to the frying pan and add the frozen green beans. Stir often until they are warmed through. Guess what's next? Yes. Add them to the warming station. I didn't take a picture of the step, but I'm sure you get the picture! Pun intended.

8. Now it's time to make the cheesy deliciousness that brings this dish all together. In the same frying pan that everything was cooked in melt the cream cheese and half and half over medium heat. 


9. Add the shredded cheese, dried mustard, and turmeric stirring continually.


10. Mix the onions, sausage, chicken, and green beans into the cheese sauce. Bon appetite!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Brisket in Half the Time, Gas-Grilled and Oven-Finished

For the last three years my husband and I have bought a half side of beef. It's an amazing thing to have a well-stocked freezer. After experiencing this convenience I don't want to live without it if I can help it. Buying a side of beef also forces you to learn how to cook cuts that you might not normally buy. That brings me to brisket. It's such a challenging cut of beef for the home cook. You have to cook it low and slow like pork shoulder to break down all the collagen, and it needs to reach a temperature of 210 before that happens. However, at that temperature you run the risk of the meat getting dried out. I don't have a smoker. I didn't want to spend 10 hours trying to cook this brisket on my gas grill. So I turned to a trusted source, America's Test Kitchen. Sure enough, they have a method that starts 2 hours on the grill with some wood chips and finishes in the oven. I realize that "breaks the rules" for a true BBQ brisket, but it was the solution I needed. My 3 lb. brisket cooked in 4 1/2 hours instead of the 8, 10, or 12 it can take (depending on the size) in a smoker. While the brisket is cooking you can enjoy your day, and make a few easy side dishes.

Brisket in Half the Time, Gas-Grilled and Oven-Finished
(Adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
brisket from 3 to 11 pounds
ingredients for dry rub (see below)
2 cups of wood chips, soaked for 15 minutes
ingredients for BBQ sauce (see below) or use your favorite bottled sauce

For the dry rub
4 Tablespoons of paprika
2 Tablespoons of chili powder
2 Tablespoons of cumin
2 Tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of celery salt
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon of oregano
1 Tablespoon of allspice
1 Tablespoon of mustard powder
1 Tablespoon of medium grind of black pepper
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 Tablespoon of garlic
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl (make a head and keep for months in an airtight container).

2. Make sure the brisket doesn't have a fat cap thicker than 1/4 inch. If it does trim some fat off but be sure leave some of the fat cap so that it self bastes as it cooks. Rub the spice mixture generously all over the brisket, patting it in, making sure it's fully covered. Wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator in a glass dish for at least 2 hours up to two days.  I did this the night before I cooked it. You can use leftover rub for ribs or other cuts of pork.

3. Plan on at least 5 hours of cooking time and 30 minutes of resting time for larger cuts of meat. For a small brisket it will still take 4 hours of cooking time plus 30 minutes of resting time. Working your way backward from the time you want to serve to figure out when you need to start cooking. One hour before you start cooking take the brisket out of the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature.

4. 30 minutes before your chosen cooking start time soak wood chips in water.  I used two weber prepackaged wood chips. You can also place soaked wood chips in a foil pack with a few knife slashes in the top to let the smoke out.

5. 15 minutes before your chosen cooking start time light the grill and keep both burners on high. Place the wood chips to one side.

6. At your chosen cook start time open the grill lid (you should see smoke from the wood chips), turn off the side of the grill opposite the wood chips, clean those grates and place the brisket on the "cool" side, close the lid and grill for 2 hours with opening or touching the lid again. Turn down the "hot" side to medium or medium low. You want the temperature to eventually drop to about 275 degrees and remain there.

7. After about 1 hour and 45 minutes of cooking time on the grill preheat your oven to 300 degrees and prepare a foil pouch crimping two pieces together if necessary to make the foil wide enough to fold over and accommodate the brisket.

8. After two hours on the grill move the brisket to the foil, seal the brisket in the foil, and place in a preheated oven for another 2 to 3 hours. Unless you have a small 3 lb brisket chances are you will need three more hours of cooking time.

9. Bake until the internal temperature reads 210 degrees. Vent the package to let steam out and let the brisket rest for 20 - 30 minutes. While the brisket is resting you can make homemade BBQ sauce (or you can heat up some of your favorite bottled sauce. Place brisket on cutting board. If you have a full cut brisket there is actually two different pieces/parts and the grain runs in different directions on each. Separate the two pieces then cut each piece in this slices against the grain.

for the BBQ sauce
8 oz of rice vinegar
4 oz of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of tomato paste
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
1 teaspoon of chili powder
2 teaspoons of onion powder
2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1/3 teaspoon of white pepper
2 tablespoons of honey (optional)

1. Gather and measure out all the ingredients for the sauce.

2. Heat vinegar, tomato paste, and brown sugar in a pot until the sugar is melted.

3. In a ramekin mix all the rest of the ingredients, except the honey, into a smooth paste and add to the tomato sauce in the pot.

4. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat to simmer on low for 15 - 20 minutes. The longer you simmer the sauce the more the vinegar will mellow - so be careful if you want to attempt that true Open Pit flavor. If you want to use the sauce right away, add the optional honey for a little extra sweet. If you want to simmer your sauce longer you might want to add more vinegar in the beginning. The key to finding the Open Pit flavor is the balance between the sweet and the vinegar.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Classic Broccoli Salad (with a Twist, of Course)

I had to use my fingers and toes to count how many years ago that I first had this dish. My best guess is about 32 years ago. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't done the math. That's why I'm officially calling this a "classic" dish. To the best of my recollection I first had this dish at a cousin's baby shower when I was still in high school in the 1980's, and I asked my cousin for the recipe. The original recipe calls for golden raisins and sunflower seeds. I substitute those items for dried cherries and shelled pumpkin seeds. The cherries are an homage to my Michigan roots. They are delicious.

Classic Broccoli Salad
4 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup red onion, minced
8 slices of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/8 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
3/4 cup mayonaise
3 Tablespoons of rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
1/4 cup of sugar

1. Gather all your ingredients.

2. In a small bowl mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and set aside. If you are feeling ambitious you can make homemade mayonnaise.

3. Mince onion and chop broccoli in florets. If you want a great time saver look for pre-cut florets in your produce department. Then you might only need to cut a few of the bigger pieces in half.

4. Add broccoli, onion, cherries, and pumpkin seeds to a medium sized bowl.

5. Add most of the bacon but reserve a handful to top the salad right before serving. I still love making bacon in the oven.

6. Add the dressing.

7. Carefully toss. This salad gets better after a couple hours of marinating in the dressing. If you can make ahead give it a final stir before topping with the remaining bacon.


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