Thursday, July 13, 2017

Mexican Pickled Carrots


You’ve probably seen Mexican Pickled Carrots at the salsa bar of your favorite Mexican restaurant.  I always get happy when I see them because not all Mexican restaurants make them. I always envisioned some little old Mexican grandma standing in the kitchen for hours making their homemade recipe of these carrots.

I love them, but since I don’t see them often enough and am eating out less anyway, I decided to look into making them myself at home. Turns out, they are super easy and fortunately last a pretty long time in the fridge so I can take ‘em out and enjoy them whenever I’m in the mood.

They are perfect to take with you on picnics and to the beach, or eaten in the backyard with some tacos or carne asada you just grilled. You can eat them as a low-calorie snack between meals or alongside your chips and salsa as an appetizer before a meal.

The jalapeños might turn some people off. But here’s the thing: I am not a fan of anything really spicy. I don’t like destroying my tastebuds’ ability to identify the other flavors I’m eating. So trust me when I tell you that it’s completely safe to eat the sliced jalapeños after they’ve had some time to pickle. They mellow out considerably and end up tasting just a tad spicier than a bell pepper. Do try them.

Mexican Pickled Carrots

Ingredients:
2 lbs large carrots
2 large jalapeños
1/2 medium white onion
5 cloves garlic,  sliced
1-1/2 cups white vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
6 bay leaves, whole
10 peppercorns
2 tsp dried Mexican oregano (regular oregano will work too)
1 tsp kosher salt

Peel and slice carrots and onion into 1/4 inch thick pieces, slicing the carrots on the diagonal. Cut the stems off the jalapeños and slice thin on the diagonal. Set aside.

In a large stock pot add the garlic, vinegar, water, bay leaves, peppercorns, oregano. salt. Bring to a boil and add the carrots, onion and jalapeños. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Allow to cool completely and store vegetables and cooking liquid in clean, sterile, glass containers with lids. Keep refrigerated.

Ready to eat after 3 hours but best pickled for at least a day or two.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Parmesan Crisps

Being on a grain-free diet, the one thing I miss is having my “cheese and crackers” in the afternoons when I get home from work. Or I like to have it to munch on with a glass of wine, as I’m making dinner on weekends. I can still have the cheese, but the cracker part is certainly out.

I was pining away at my lack of crackers, feeling sorry for myself,  when I recently read about Parmesan Crisps. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made them sooner. They are ridiculously easy to make and if you’re a fiend for Parmesan cheese, as I am, you will absolutely LOVE these.

Although crackers are “out”, I find that these little Parmesan Crisps have actually taken the place of the cracker! Brilliant. Problem solved. Eat them as is, or pile something on top of them. More on that later. Let’s make these things.

Parmesan Crisps

Ingredients:
Parmesan cheese, grated

That’s it!

Ok, so you could add some more things to it, if you wanted to. Like dried basil, black pepper, or red chili flakes for those of you who like things a little spicy.

And then here’s what you do:
Take a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. No need to grease anything. There’s enough fat in the cheese, after all. Get a teaspoon and pile a small mound of grated Parmesan cheese on the paper, as if they were little mounds of cookie dough. No need to flatten them - they will melt into a nice little round on their own.


Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 10-12 minutes. At the 8 minute mark, start looking in on them every minute or so. Your oven may run cold or it may run hot so we don’t want them to undercook or burn. In my oven, I find 10-11 minutes works best. Allow them to cool on the tray.

I like to eat them with a slice of roasted red pepper on top, or with a little piece of tomato.

You can also, as they are melting and before they get too stiff (so maybe at minute 8-9), take them out of the oven and drape them over a handle of some kitchen utensil to make a pretty Parmesan Roll. These would look nice in a salad or alongside a wintry soup.

If you make them large enough, you can can drape them over the bottom end of a mug or a Mason jar to shape them into a bowl as they are cooling. They make a delicate little basket in which you can serve a small salad or something.

I have yet to make these fancy shapes. For now, I am content to eat them as “crackers”. I do have a tendency to eat a few too many at one time. They are just so darn good. Hope you enjoy them as well.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Pizza by any other name...

When you first start any kind of elimination diet, the first thing you think about is all the foods you have to give up. You’re disappointed and think you’re going to have to eat the same 5 things over and over again. Fortunately, once you get over that initial bump, you realize that all you need to do is be a little creative. And there’s always the Internet!

When I started SCD, I was excited to learn there was a pizza crust alternative to conventional dough. Cauliflower crusts were all the rage, and all over Pinterest, as many people were embracing a gluten-free diet or were Low Carb. While it is a good option (I just shared a blog post about it!), making a cauliflower crust is pretty labor-intensive. It’s really critical to squeeze as much moisture out of your dough as possible, or it won’t crisp up. Soggy pizza crust is no fun! (Actually, one way around this problem is to reduce the amount of cauliflower a bit and add some coconut flour, which is a great moisture absorber).

However, to make life even easier and more flavorful, I’ve moved past cauliflower and have embraced THE MEATZA. Yes, meat as the base. Think of it as a true Meat Lovers Pizza. It’s so much easier to prepare, provides enough filling protein for the dish, and can just get piled on with vegetables and cheese. Voila. You’re done in less than 30 minutes.

Meatza

1 (1 lb) package ground chicken, turkey or beef
Olive oil
1 tsp each of your favorite Italian seasonings: oregano, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper, garlic and onion powders, for instance
Pizza sauce
Assorted fresh vegetables and typical pizza toppings you like
Cheese of your choice


Directions:

Mix meat and herbs well, with your hands, to incorporate the seasonings. Grab a 9x12 lasagne pan or sheet pan, and grease with a very thin layer of oil. Press the meat down to a thickness of about 1/2”.

Bake in a 350 F. oven for 10-15 minutes. Drain the liquid from the pan and perhaps dab a little with a paper towel to get more liquid off the top. Spread on your pizza sauce and add some cheese. Add whatever vegetables your heart desires and the rest of the cheese and return to the oven for another 10 minutes. For the last few minutes you could place it under the broiler if you like.

I pile on a mountain of fresh spinach, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms and olives and maybe some red bell pepper rings that I sauté a little ahead of time because I don’t like mine raw on the pizza. I actually do the same thing with the mushrooms. I use a sugar-free pizza sauce and Jack cheese.

Delish!

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