Cucumber Dip

I should really have titled this blog post “cucumber everything.” Because … cucumber.

heart cucumber

~le sigh~ (I sigh in French. Really.)

My love affair with the cucumber is long and storied. (There’s a sentence you don’t want to Google, by the way.) I love them basically any way you can get them, except pickled. They’re honestly the most refreshing things ever and they taste amazing in so many things I consume.

Like gin.

My favorite bar (I’m looking at you, Original Empire,) is awesome. They’re soooo good to me. The second I hit the door, one of the bartenders peels off and heads to the kitchen to get some of the cucumber they prep for salads to put in my really simple drink: gin, club soda, and cucumber. Refreshing, low carb and amazing. They shake it for me. Cuz I’m extra.

drink cucumber

This dip also contains one of my favorite ingredients: horseradish. I put a measurement on it, but I can promise you I don’t pay any effin’ attention to it. : ) I just glump a glob of it up in there and start stirring.
Ingredients:

  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish (yeah, right.)
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fresh dill, chopped (umm … don’t really measure that, either.)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic (dude, really mince the hell out of it.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper.)

(Wow. I’m really all parenthetical girl, aren’t I?)

So. Here are the super-complicated and very important instructions:

Mix it all up. Stick it in the fridge. Eat it with cucumber slices.

Boom.

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Spinach and Mushroom Egg Drop Soup

So I think I’ve mentioned going low carb. Possibly ad nauseum. In fact, if mentioning going low carb was an actual carb, I’d be gaining weight on this diet.

Luckily for me …

I started this thing by going to a doctor at a wellness clinic. I was so significantly overweight that I thought it was probably the best way to go about it. I did the diet pills and the HCG for two months and absolutely hated the way they made me feel. I totally lost weight…that stuff works. But after two months of it, I felt like I pretty much had a handle on sticking to the actual eating plan, so I canceled my next appointment and struck out on my own. That was 50 pounds ago.

One of the keys to sticking to my diet is variety. The interwebz are good for finding variety. In food. (And in men, but that’s an entirely different blog.) I peruse and click and search and I’ve found so many recipes I want to try that I’m basically going to have to get even healthier so I live long enough to get to them.

This soup recipe is disgustingly healthy. And disgustingly delicious. It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients, which you likely need more than you even know. Seriously. You’re probably carrying around inflammation you don’t even know you have and it’s causing you pain that has snuck up on you so gradually, you don’t even know you have it. Soup to the rescue! Super soup …

Soup… err…

Soup.

Yeah. Whatever. Here’s the recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (I make my own from the odds and ends of herbs and veggies that I don’t use or which are about to become inedible. Just toss them in a freezer bag and cook it up with a bit of salt and pepper when the bag gets full, then freeze it in quart bags.) You can also use already made stock of some sort … but why???? Your own is so much more delicious.
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated turmeric (It can be hard to find. Sub 1 tsp ground turmeric, if you must.)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger. (Don’t sub this. Ginger is divine. Pretty sure I’ve covered my love for ginger elsewhere in this blog.)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 small chili pepper, sliced (Or a jalepeno, if your grocery is provokingly out of chili peppers. Also, listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers while you cook this soup won’t help at all. In so many ways.)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms.
  • 4 cups chopped fresh spinach. (Or any other dark leafy green. I like to change it up and even use a mixture.)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pour the veggie stock into an appropriately sized pot and bring it to a simmer. Toss in the turmeric, ginger, garlic, chili pepper, mushrooms, greens and soy sauce. Let it cook for about 15 minutes.

While that’s cooking, whisk the eggs in a bowl (or a large measuring cup, which has the wonderful advantage of having a handle and a spout. And try to make yourself stop singing “I’m A Little Teapot” now. You’re welcome.) Slowly pour the eggs into the soup, stirring as you do. Remove from heat.

Garnish with the green onions and cilantro and add salt and pepper to your taste. It freezes well (as does pretty much anything I cook.)

Bean Soup

In my family, when you travel, you get soup.

It would usually be potato soup or bean soup, often accompanied by a sandwich of some sort. We’d be tooling along on our way to Nana and Pap-Pap’s house, knowing a hot pot of soup and some big hugs were waiting for us at the end of our journey.

The tradition continued after I grew up and would travel from South Carolina to Mississippi to visit my parents. We’d call when we were almost there, and Mama would say, “I’ll have the soup ready!” My kids would suddenly perk up after being mostly intolerable for 11 hours. Because soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of dry white beans
  • 1 ham slice or leftover ham bone
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bacon grease
  • Water

Sautée onions and garlic in butter and a dollop of bacon grease until soft. Add beans and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the meat. Simmer until the beans are soft and soup has thickened.

low carb asian “hamburger helper”

When I was a kid, my mother made her own version of what I considered hamburger helper. It was basically just ground beef, egg noodles and a can of cream of mushroom soup. Simple. Quick. Economical. Disgusting.

(Delicious.)

Now that I’m all low carby, I decided to come up with something similar. Instead of noodles, I use cabbage. The ground beef remains. And then I go all out with different versions of spices and flavorings to give myself some variety. You know … cuz it’s the spice of life.

How trite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cabbage, shredded (I use a food processor)
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 a stick of butter
  • Salt
  • Onion powder
  • Ground black pepper
  • White wine vinegar
  • Minced fresh garlic
  • Scallions, sliced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Finely chopped fresh ginger
  • Sesame oil

So I didn’t put any measurements on the spices and flavorings. I’m really just not that kind of girl. Go with your instinct and taste on them. I like mine a bit spicy and very gingery, so I get heavy handed there.

Fry the cabbage in half of the butter until it just starts getting a little brown. Add the salt, onion powder, black pepper, and a splash of the vinegar. Stir and continue cooking just a few minutes more, then put the cabbage mixture in a bowl and set it aside.

Using the same pan, melt the rest of the butter. Add the garlic, red pepper and ginger. Stir and fry it a few moments. Add the ground beef. Cook and stir until the meat is browned and most of the liquid is gone.

Add the scallions and the cabbage. Stir until incorporated. Top with a little bit of sesame oil.

This recipe makes a LOT. I typically have it for dinner, then take one for lunch the next day, and freeze the rest in portions for future lunches.

pasta-less lasagne

So I’ve totes been low carb girl for about nine months now, and I think I’ve embraced the lifestyle rather well. I could go into all kinds of reasons why it rocks and get all über enthusiastic about why you should also go low carb, but I hate it when people do that. Don’t you?

What I will say is that I’ve lost 40 pounds, and that I used to deal with daily aches and pains that just seem to have disappeared. Coincidence? Possibly. Aliens? Hopefully…

I stumbled across this recipe that substituted the lasagne noodles with slices of deli chicken breast, and I was suuuuuuper skeptical. But I decided to go for it, and the results were fantastic. For realz.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb italian sausage (I snagged the kind that was already out of the casing and ready to use, cuz there’s just something squicky about those sausage casings.)
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped. (Use whatever kind you like. I like vidalia in just about everything. Also, half of what size onion, you ask? Depends on how much you like onions. Duh.)
  • 24oz unsweetened marinara (You can totes go jarred on this, but I didn’t.)
  • 15 oz ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Or kosher salt. Or some other kind of salt. Get some sodium, yo.
  • 3/4 lb mozzerella cheese, sliced. This is where I got weird. I like different mozz on the top of my stuff than in the middle of my stuff. If you wanna go all pre-shredded, feel free. I don’t. There’s just something not as good about pre-shredded cheese. It’s like each individual shred develops its own exoskeleton. Which is gross. So I get a block of mozz and grate it, and then I get a ball of super fresh super good mozz and slice it thick for the top.
  • 3/4 cup romano cheese. Get the good stuff. Grate it yourself. 
  • 8 oz sliced deli chicken breast.

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large pot of some sort, cook the sausage, ground beef, onions and garlic over medium heat until the meat is cooked through. Add the marinara. (Yeah, don’t drain it. Fat carries flavor and is a beautiful thing when you’re on low carb.) Turn off the heat and let that hang out for a minute.

Mix the ricotta, the salt and the egg in an appropriately sized bow. Because an inappropriately sized bowl makes no sense whatsover.

Lasagne, assemble! (Cuz it’s a marvel, you see. ~groan~)

Layer as follows in a 9×13 lasagne pan:

  1. 1/3of the meat sauce
  2. 1/2 of the chicken breast (remember, this replaces the noodles, so cover the enter thing)
  3. 1/2 the ricotta
  4. 1/2 the shredded mozzarella
  5. 1/3 of the romano

Repeat this layer.

Top it off with the remaining meat sauce, the fresh slices of mozz, and the remaining romano.

Cover with foil. I strongly recommend non-stick foil, cuz you don’t want to lose any of the cheesy goodness from the top. Bake it for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake it an additional 25 minutes.

RESIST THE URGE TO CUT IT FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES!
(Patience, grasshopper. Let the shiz set up.)