Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

Lettuce leaves make a great vehicle for low carb meals and snacks like "Low Carb Fajitas" and "Turkey Roll Ups." Recently, I was craving an egg salad sandwich but I didn't want to have the added carbs with this particular meal. I thought why not put it in a lettuce leaf. This seems so obvious I hesitate to make a blog post about it. However, sometimes it is simple "real life" recipes that my friends and family appreciate the most. In that spirt, I hope you enjoy these egg salad lettuce wraps. (Perfect for Phase 1 South Beach or Induction phase on The New Atkins).

Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps
(the following recipe is for 1 serving- increase amounts as needed for additional servings)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of mayonnaise (low fat for South Beach | regular or homemade for The New Atkins)
1/2 teaspoon of yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon of white pepper
2 butter lettuce leaves
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

1. My mom mentioned that she has been using the Anne Burrell method of cooking hard boiled eggs. After my soft boiled egg experiment with "Eggs and Soldiers" I didn't want to mess around. Since my mom found success with Anne's method that was good enough for me. Place the eggs in a pot and add enough cool water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and cover. Leave the eggs to cook in the pot for 13 minutes.

2. Run the eggs under cool water, add ice cubes if necessary and slightly crack the eggs to get the cool water between the egg and shell.

3. Peel the eggs and run through an egg slicer in two different directions to start creating the egg salad texture. Place eggs in a small bowl.

4. Add mayonnaise, mustard, pepper and salt to taste to the small bowl with the eggs.

5. Mash all of the ingredients together with a fork.

6. Divide the egg salad between to lettuce leaves and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lentil and Vegetable Chili

I love making a big pot of chili for dinner. I have made chili with ground beef, chili with ground turkey, and chili with leftover roasted turkey. All of these variations are deliscious. I crave them all from time to time. I couldn't help but wonder if I could come up with a no-meat chili, in honor of Meatless Monday, that would be completely satisfying. Answer: yes! I couldn't believe how many times my husband said, "this is really good." He ate the leftovers almost every day for lunch or dinner until they were gone. I was lucky to get one more cup for a lunch later in the week. I think the leftover chili was even better than on the first night I served it, because the spices had extra time to meld together. (Perfect for phase 1 South Beach and phase 2 of The New Atkins).

Lentil and Vegetable Chili
1 lb of green lentils, soaked in water with lemon (see why you should soak your grains here)
1- 2 lemons
1 large onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 zucchini, diced
8 oz of portobello mushrooms, diced
1 (15 oz) can of kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes, no salt added (I like adding my own salt)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

(optional garnish)
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (low fat for South Beach | regular for The New Atkins)
sour cream (low fat for South Beach | regular for The New Atkins)

1. Soak the lentils in a bowl (or the pot that you will cook the chili in) with enough warm water to cover the lentils by 1 1/2 inches. Squeeze lemon juice in the water. If the lemons are not juicy add a second lemon. Soak for 7 hours. I do this first thing in the morning before going to work so when I'm ready to prepare dinner the lentils are ready.

2. Drain the lentils and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot until it shimmers. Add the minced onion and stir for 2 - 3 minutes until the onions become translucent.

3. Press garlic over the onions and stir until it becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Stir in the lentils.

5. Add the amount of water to the lentils, onions, and garlic as directed on the package of lentils.

6. As the lentils are cooking according to the package instructions. Chop the mushrooms and zucchini in a similar size dice.

7. Halfway through the lentil cooking time add the mushrooms and zucchini. Do not stir. Simmer the lentils and vegetables for the remaining lentil cooking time.

8. Finally, when the lentils are finished cooking then you can stir the pot. Add the kidney beans (you don't have to drain them or you can if you prefer).

9. Add the diced tomatoes.

10. Now comes the flavor. Add all the chili spices: chili powder, paprika, oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

11. Cover and simmer the chili for 15 minutes until the flavors marry well. Serve up the chili with your favorite garnishes (or whatever you have on hand which is usually the case in our house).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Grilled Chicken and Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad

We love Caesar salad in our house. We make it often. So when we got our new Weber gas grill this summer the very first thing I made was a grilled chicken Caesar salad. By grilled I mean grilled chicken, Romaine, baguette slices, and garlic. Everything except the dressing and the cheese is grilled in this recipe. I love that so much of this recipe is prepared on the grill. Oh, and grilled Romaine is delicious!  (Great for phase 2 South Beach or phase 2 of The New Atkins).

Grilled Chicken and Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad
2 chicken breast halves
2 hearts of Romaine
Caesar dressing (see recipe below)
1 bulb of garlic, separated and unpeeled (save 1 or 2 cloves for the dressing)
Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup grated for dressing plus shaved pieces to top the salad)
1 lemons, juiced and divided (juice of 1 lemon for dressing and the juice of 2 lemons for marinade)
4 slices of rustic bread
1/8 cup olive oil (plus extra)
fresh cracked pepper
(this will make 4 entree salads)

For the Dressing
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese or a combination of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup of a good quality mayonnaise (Use low fat for South Beach or regular for The New Atkins - I used Spectrum Organic or you could make homemade)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (usually one juice lemon will work)
1/2 teaspoon of anchovy paste
1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie's Naturals Organic)
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/8 teaspoon of dry mustard
1 or 2 cloves of garlic depending on the size of the cloves and your taste

1. Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally and place in a glass dish to marinate. Add 1/8 cup of olive oil and 1/8 cup of lemon juice. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate for 30 minutes. Flip the chicken half way through the marinated process.

2. While the chicken is marinating make the dressing. Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Heat grill to a medium-high heat. Look here is my shiny new grill!

4. Cut the Romaine hearts in half lengthwise, brush both sides of the Romaine with olive oil and set aside. Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil and set aside.

5. Place the remaining unpeeled garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a tightly sealed tin foil pouch. Place on the grill for 10 - 12 minutes turning the foil pouch periodically.

6. Remove the chicken from the marinade, lightly pat with paper towel so that oil isn't dripping from the chicken.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the chicken salt-and-pepper side down diagonally on the grill for nice grill marks. Grill the chicken about 5 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through (160 degrees). Remove chicken and garlic to a clean platter and cover with tin foil.

7. Add the prepared Romaine cut side up to the grill. Grill the Romaine about 1-2 minutes and then flip. Grill the Romaine on the second side for an additional 2-3 minutes or until slightly charred and wilted.

7. Grill the prepared toast slices about 1 minute on each side. Bring everything inside to assemble.

8. Begin assembly by first slicing the chicken into strips.

9. Arrange even portions of the chicken on to the side of four plates. Place the grilled Romaine in the center of the plate. Add a toast slice and a clove or two of garlic. Drizzle the Romaine with some Caesar dressing. Finally, using a vegetable peeler add some Parmesan cheese shavings.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Braised Carnitas (Easily Adapted for a Crowd)

I've made "Pulled Pork" for sandwiches a few times. The spices that I use in that recipe are great for roasts and sandwiches, but not so much for Tex-Mex applications.  I love the pork served at Chipotle and wondered if I could even come close. I did some research on carnitas and narrowed my sights on three recipes in particular. One version from Serious Eats and the another two versions from Rick Bayless one for Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas and the other for Michoacan-Style Pork Carnitas. Taking the insights from these recipes I decided how I was going to best create a copy of Chipotle's braised carnitas. I should mention that I needed to feed a large crowd of 50 to 60 people, so I basically quadrupled the recipe below and made four pork shoulders. I filled two large crock pots with the pulled pork of 4 shoulders (two in each). This pork is the best pork I ever made, the most flavorful, tender and moist. I have no clue how Chipotle makes their braised pork but I will definitely be making this version again, and again, and again. (Use this pork in a salad and it's perfect for phase 1 (induction) of The New Atkins).

Braised Carnitas
6 - 8 lb bone-in pork shoulder
24 (or so) oz. of olive oil - about 1 large bottle
1 bay leaf
1/4 of orange or 1 heaping tablespoon of orange juice concentrate
1 small onion quartered

For the Dry Rub
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced finely
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1. Press the garlic into the olive oil in a small bowl.

2.  Add  and mix all the rest of the dry rub spices into garlic and olive oil mixture.

3.  Rub evenly over pork, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 12 - 24 hours.

4. Arrange the roast or roasts in the most tightest fitting roasting pan which will reduce the amount of oil you'll need. Add onion quarters, orange pieces and bay leaves in the nooks and cranies (between the meat and the roasting pan, or between the roasts if there is more than one). Pour in olive oil so that it reaches 1/2 to 3/4 to the top of the pork. According to Serious Eats this helps keep the moisture in the pork rather than letting it excrete. It makes sense when you think about oil and water not mixing. The oil creates a barrier to the moisture that might want to come out of the roast. The moisture stays inside the pork instead. The low oven temperature does not fry the pork. Rather the pork slowly braises in the oil (think duck confit).

5. I put 4 roasts in the oven at midnight and took them out of the oven at 9:00 a.m. Keep in mind that I made 4 roasts so to only cook one or two could cut the time significantly. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and place the roasting pan in the oven for 8 - 9 hours.

6. After the desired cooking time (when the pork is literally falling off the bone) remove the roasting pan from the oven and leave it on top of the stove for an hour. Place the pork roast on a cutting board and start separating the meat from the fat when it is cool enough to handle. I was able to place the meat from two roasts into one crock pot. I ended up with two large crockpots full of "Braised Carnitas."

7. Make a taco with "Braised Carnitas," cilantro and onions, and top with homemade crema.

8. For the cilantro and onions chop equal parts onions and cilantro.

9. For the crema mix 8 oz of sour cream with 1 teaspoon of cumin and the juice of one lime. Mix and spoon into a plastic squeeze bottle.


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