Sausage, Cheese Balls (Lower Carb)

January 30th, 2019

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With the Super Bowl approaching, I wanted to make an appetizer that my husband would enjoy on his low Carb diet.  Over Christmas I made sausage cheese balls the way most people make them with Bisquick, sausage and cheese.  We both love this old standby.  I decided to experiment with lessoning the carbs by using almond flour.  But almond flour does not have a leavening agent like Bisquick.  After several attempts, I settled on a combination of almond flour, baking powder and Bisquick.  I halved the amount of Bisquick and combined the baking powder with the almond flour for the other half of the dry ingredients.

IMG_8862I loved the results.  Another tip for mixing the ingredients is to bring the grated cheese and sausage to room temperature before mixing them together.  Then add the dry ingredients.  All of this should be done by hand.

Deland ShoppingA friend and I spent a day in DeLand, Florida, a small inland community about 20 miles from New Smyrna Beach.  It is a vibrant community with lots of shops and restaurants.  One of my favorite shops is Anna Bananas. The subheading of the shop is Recycled, Repurposed and Reclaimed.

Anna Bananas

The owners build furniture using antique elements and creative uses of old wood.

Deland Lunch

We had lunch al fresco at a delightful restaurant (BakeChop) in a spiffed up alley.  It was a warm and sunny day; one of few that we have had in Florida lately.   The BLT on sourdough bread was great, but the chickpea salad with Brussel sprout leaves, tomatoes and red onions was a real winner.  The chickpeas were crispy and the dressing light.  I will have to experiment with duplicating this take on three bean salad.

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Enjoy the Super Bowl.  Hope you give this adaptation of Sausage Cheese Balls a try.

SAUSAGE CHEESE BALLS (LOWER CARB)

1 Pound Breakfast Sausage (Hot or Mild or a combination)
8 Oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Bisquick Baking Mix
1 cup Almond Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

Grate the cheese into a large bowl and bring to room temperature.  At the same time, bring the sausage to room temperature.

While cheese and sausage are resting, combine the Bisquick, almond flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

With your hands, combine the cheese and sausage until well blended.  Add the dry ingredients and roll and squeeze until the flour is fully combined with the cheese mixture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or use a non-stick baking sheet.

Form mixture into about 1 inch balls and line baking sheet with them.  I can get 24 balls unto the pan.  The recipe makes about 48 balls.

Bake for 15-17 minutes.

Printable Recipe

P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

January 22nd, 2019

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There are several recipes on the internet for this copycat recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps from P.F. Chang’s.  I used the recipe from Averie Cooks.  David is trying to reduce carbohydrates in his diet so anything wrapped in a lettuce leaf is a winner in my book.  Crispy butter (Boston) lettuce is the perfect vessel to hold this flavorful mixture.

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The ground chicken is paired with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chili garlic sauce.  Crunch is provided by water chestnuts.  I served it with roasted butternut squash.  It was a quick and easy meal.

P.F. CHANG’S CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken (I’ve also used ground turkey with good results)
  • 1 medium/large sweet Vidalia or yellow onion, diced small
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, or to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger, or to taste
  • one 8-ounce can water chestnut, drained and diced small
  • 2 to 3 green onions, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • butter lettuce leaves, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

    1. To a large skillet, add the oils, chicken, and cook over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through; stir intermittently to crumbly while cooking.
    2. Add the onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili garlic sauce, stir to combine, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft and translucent and most of the liquid has been absorbed; stir intermittently.
    3. Add the garlic, ginger, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
    4. Add the water chestnuts, green onions, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Taste filling and make any necessary flavor adjustments, i.e. more soy sauce, hoisin, pepper, etc.
    5.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the mixture into the lettuce leaves to serve. Recipe is best warm and fresh but filling will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Printable Recipe

Crock-Pot Tuscan Garlic Chicken with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

January 13th, 2019

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Even though we are not feeling the numbing cold of the North, this hearty slow cooker chicken dish hits all of the comfort notes associated with cold weather.  So for a short while I will indulge my fantasies of snow and enjoy this flavor-filled dish. We have been in Florida for two weeks.  So far the weather has been lovely.  I have enjoyed the local New Smyrna Beach farmers’ market and being able to walk to town for a quick bite at the local restaurants.
IMG_8844  When I saw this recipe on-line for this Tuscan chicken dish, it brought back memories of our trip to Italy.  Part of the beauty of Tuscan recipes is the simplicity of the ingredient.  Simple chicken thighs are paired with a creamy Parmesan sauce and enhanced with lots of garlic, Italian herbs, sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach.

Tuscany Countryside

The rolling hills of Tuscany produce wines, garden fresh vegetables, cheeses and pasture raised poultry.

Tuscany-Kitchen

We were fortunate to find a lovely villa in the Tuscan countryside.  I have fond memories of cooking in this kitchen.

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The crock-pot in my Florida rental house is old and smaller than what I have at home.  But it was just big enough for four chicken thighs to bubble away in the creamy sauce.  On a January day, I was warmed by both this hearty chicken dish and by memories of the Tuscan countryside.  Recipe came from eatwell 101.

CROCK-POT TUSCAN GARLIC CHICKEN WITH SPINACH AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

6 -8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes, optional
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
2 cups Spinach (chopped, packed)

Heat oil or butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for about a minute, until fragrant.

Add the cream and chicken broth.  Bring to a gentle simmer, then set heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.  The sauce should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Meanwhile, place the chicken at the bottom of your slow cooker.  Season lightly with Italian seasoning, crushed red chili pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper.  Top with sun-dried tomatoes.

When the cream sauce is ready, lower the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese, little by little until smooth.  Adjust seasoning as needed.

Pour the cream sauce evenly over the chicken thighs in the slow cooker.  Try to get as much sauce as possible on top of the chicken and less on the bottom.

Cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 6-8 hours on LOW.  When cooking time is over, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and set aside.

Turn the slow cooker on HIGH, if it sin’t already.  Add the chopped spinach and stir for a few minutes, until the spinach wilts.

Return the chicken to the slow cooker, and spoon the liquid, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes on top, or just pour them over the chicken when serving.

Printable Recipe

Beef and Bacon Stew

December 19th, 2018

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With the holidays fast approaching, thoughts turn to warming comfort food.  I would even consider this Beef and Bacon Stew a worthy meal for Christmas Eve or Day.  It has been a challenging week.  We were hit by a freak snowstorm that normally would not occur in North Carolina.  Five days without power tested our coping capacity.

Snow in 2018

It was a test of our capacity to get along without things we all take for granted.  We stayed warm because our home is well insulated and  we have a gas fireplace and a wood burning fireplace.  We stayed well fed because we have a gas stove and oven, plus the grill grate in the fireplace.  We stayed hydrated with jugs of water and other drinks.  The only thing missing was a shower.  That’s why we have friends.  Thank you to Ron and Jackie for a much needed clean up and a delicious dinner.  But next year we are getting a whole house generator.  Weather in our area seems to have taken a more violent and unpredictable bent.

 

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David is actually responsible for this delicious stew.  Over the years he has been cooking more of our meals with creativity and elan.  While I was finishing my wonderful new book in the series from Louis Penny, Kingdom of the Blindhe was chopping and assembling this flavorful dish.  It did require a new ingredient.  Miso Paste.  I found it at Whole Foods in the refrigerator section near the cellophane boxed lettuces.  Do not leave it out as it adds a great depth of flavor to the sauce.

Chistmas silliness

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  I couldn’t resist including this outtake of our Christmas card photo shoot.

BEEF AND BACON STEW (BON APPETIT)

1 Bottle of dry red wine
1 2 1/2 boneless beef chuck roast
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
8 oz. bacon
3 medium red onions
3 medium carrots
8 coves garlic
4 large sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. white miso paste
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
Crusty bread (for serving)

Complete recipe here.

Chateaubriand for Thanksgiving

November 27th, 2018

Chateaubriand

Our Thanksgiving dinner was a departure from the usual.  Our Son Michael loves to grill and decided to attempt a whole tenderloin cooked over indirect heat and then seared over the direct coals.  The inspiration came from Meathead Goldwyn in his iconic grilling book Meathead; The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling.  The beef was outstanding.  Served with mashed potatoes and an updated green bean casserole, we never even missed a turkey.

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A whole tenderloin requires a breakdown to get to  a symmetrical log from the center.  The tenderloin tips are cut from each end.  The chain along the side needs to be trimmed away and the silverskin removed.  The trimmings can be used as a few filet mignon steaks, stew meat, and/or ground with some of the fat into upscale hamburgers.

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You will need to fold over the tapered end and tie it with string to ensure even cooking.  Once the chateaubriand is ready, dry brine it in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.  The dry brine is just kosher salt.  Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pound of meat all over the cylinder.  After the allotted time is up, remove the beef from the refrigerator and season it with a seasoning rub.

BEEF RUB
2 Tablespoons ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

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Set up the grill in a two-zone configuration and get the indirect zone up to about 225 degrees F.  Place the meat in the indirect-heat zone.  It will cook slowly for about 45 minutes.  Check temperature with a meat thermometer.

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When the meat reaches 110 degrees F, move it to direct heat to sear.  Leave the lid open and roll the roast a quarter turn every 5 minutes or so.  When it reaches 130 degrees F in the center, move it to a cutting board.  Cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes or so.

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Slice into at least 1 inch steaks and serve.  Serves 6 to 8 easily.

Parsnip Soup

Earlier in the day Kristen made a delicious Parsnip and apple soup with smoked almonds and scallions.  I don’t have the recipe but anything you add to it is enhanced by using an immersion blender to meld it all together.  Here is a similar recipe.

Kale and Quinoa Salad

One of the most colorful dishes on our table was this fabulous Kale, roasted quinoa, purple sweet potato and apple salad.  It was such a seasonal delight that I would love to serve this every Autumn and Thanksgiving.  Kristen is so creative.  Remind me to get the recipe.  Will try to blog about this again or maybe Kristen will put it on her blog, Menubility.

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I made a Bourbon Pumpkin Pie from this recipe.  I add a Streusal Topping.  Recipe follows.

STREUSAL TOPPING

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Mix all ingredients.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Cool and sprinkle over cooked and cooled pie.  You will have extra for other purposes.

FAMILY CHRISTMAS 2018

We took some time over Thanksgiving to have photos taken for our Christmas cards.  We are lucky to have Christobal of Azul Photography as a family friend.  Let the Christmas Season begin.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.