Sunday, 14 April 2013

Slow Cooker Carnitas - Pulled Pork (Low Carb)

This is actually a Here's What He Cooked blog entry since hubby did the bulk of the work on this recipe. I only dug up a few recipes to work from and he did the rest of the prep, cooking, and serving. He cooked up this pork recipe overnight, so we woke to a great aroma, and had a very yummy lunch!

It's not exactly authentic carnitas due to a few added ingredients and since it was slow cooked it in (diet) cola, but it seemed more carnitas than pulled pork since it was broiled at the end to get some crispy bits, and we only served it with the cooking juices rather than additional BBQ sauces.

Regardless of what you call it, the recipe resulted in a very yummy and versatile pile of pork meat that we enjoyed as-is, but would also be great in tacos or burritos, or served in lettuce wraps as a low carb option.

Slow Cooker Carnitas - Pulled Pork (Low Carb)
Inspired by this recipe


~4 lb/2 kg of boneless pork roast with fatty streaks (leg, shoulder, butt...)
~1 cup cola (regular or diet) OR 1 large sliced onion
vegetable oil
1 large Ziplock bag

Spice Rub
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon corriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped or grated

  1. Combine all spice rub ingredients. 
  2. Cut the pork into 4-5 smaller pieces and apply the spice rub. 
  3. Put the meat into a Ziplock bag, seal, and place in the fridge overnight.
  4. Before placing it in the slow cooker, heat some vegetable oil in a large pan and brown the edges of the meat. 
  5. If you're opting for cola, put the meat and cola into the slow cooker. OR if you're opting for onions, place half of the sliced onions on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the meat. Top with remaining onions. 
  6. Cook on low temperature for 8-10 hours. 
  7. When the meat is ready, remove it from the cooker, shred using two forks, and serve on a platter. OR shred it onto a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes until some of the meat becomes crispy. 
  8. Pour the cooking liquid into a measuring cup, skim off the fat, and serve as a sauce.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Cheese Stuffed Meatballs (Low Carb, Gluten-Free, etc... no breadcrumbs!)

What's more awesome than a great meatball? A great meatball stuffed with stretchy cheese!!

These can be eaten straight out of the pan, on top of pasta, in a crusty roll,... the possibilities are endless!

Cheese Stuffed Meatballs
Makes about 12 golf ball-sized meatballs

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 grated or finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (I prefer fresh, but the powdery canned version would work too)
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • mozzarella, provolone, or other stretchy pizza cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or crushed canned tomatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Thoroughly mix the beef, egg, garlic, Parmesan, oregano, and ground pepper.
  3. With clean hands, pick up a small handful of the meat mixture and shape it into a ball. Push one cheese cube into the center of the meatball and then close it up so that no cheese is showing. Repeat until you've used up all your meat mixture.
  4. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in an oven-proof frying pan on the stove top. Gently place the meatballs in the pan and allow to brown 1-2 minutes per side. Be careful when turning them that you're not breaking them or the cheese will escape.
  5. Once the meatballs are browned all around, spoon out and discard most of the oil from the pan and pour the tomato sauce on top of the meatballs. 
  6. Place the pan in the preheated oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the meatballs are fully cooked.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Bacon and Egg Baked 'Muffins'

There aren't many recipes out there for breakfast muffins that are as simple as this one and call for only two ingredients (or three if you're adding black pepper!). They're simple to make and low carb. They tasted great fresh out of the oven and the plan is to keep the leftovers as quick breakfasts-on-the-go for the week.

Hubby and I used some teamwork to get these made efficiently this morning. I partially fried up the bacon, and then he wrapped one slice around the inside of each non-stick muffin tin and carefully cracked in an egg. Once they were all completed he added a few twists of ground pepper on top and popped them in the oven. Ours only needed to cook for 10 minutes until the yolks were set, but I'd imagine the time will vary depending on the size of the eggs.

I was pleasantly surprised that after leaving them to sit for a few moments out of the oven they all came out of the muffin tins without a hitch! I just used a small spoon to gently loosen the edges before lifting them out.

This is definitely a recipe I'd consider if I were serving brunch to a group of people since the bacon can be prepped ahead of time and the cooking is simple and straightforward.

Bacon and Egg Baked 'Muffins'

  • one dozen eggs
  • 12 slices of bacon (about 3/4 lb based on the thickeness of our bacon)
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Cook the bacon in a frying pan until it's about halfway cooked. You want it to be pliable but not raw.
  3. Remove the bacon from the pan shaking or blotting off excess grease and wrap each slice around the inside edge of a muffin tin. It's okay if the bacon doesn't wrap fully around the circumference. 
  4. Carefully crack an egg into each muffin tin, ideally not breaking the yolk. (Don't stress if it does break, it'll still taste good but be a little less pretty!)
  5. Add a few twists of ground pepper to taste.
  6. Place the pan in the preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes. Cook until the egg feels firm and the yolk is cooked through, using a toothpick to test for doneness. 
  7. When fully cooked, remove from oven, let sit a few minutes to cool, then gently loosen edges with a spoon or knife and remove onto a plate.

Pressure Cooker Beef Curry

Despite being in the month of April, having had a taste of warm and sunny weather, and equipping the kids with new bikes, we're still slowly inching our way out of winter. The temperature is still hovering around freezing, and we're still getting a fair number of grey and drizzly days.... Which means it's time for another pressure cooker curry dish!

Cooking curry in a pressure cooker makes for very tender meat in a relatively short period of time. This recipe uses red lentils to help thicken the curry and also adds some tasty protein and fiber. I like to add potatoes to turn this into a one-dish meal for those who don't like rice in my family, but it can also be made without the potatoes, keeping all other quantities of ingredients the same.

The pressure cooker I use is the Instant Pot which is an electric cooker. It's possible that cooking times may vary depending on your method of cooking.

Pressure Cooker Beef Curry
inspired by this recipe

Ingredients in order that they go into the pot:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons crushed or minced garlic 
  • 2 tablespoons shredded fresh ginger (or about 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger)
  • 2 onions, chopped 
  • 2 red chili peppers, chopped (I sometimes use jalapenos, or even leave peppers out altogether for a very mild curry)
  • 2 lbs/1 kg stewing beef
  • 2 cups/16 ounces crushed tomatoes (or diced or whole depending on whether you like tomato bits in your curry)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 cup red lentil 
  • 2-3 medium potatoes, cubed the size of your beef pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (a garnish after cooking)

  1. I highly recommend prepping and measuring out all the ingredients before getting started. 
  2. Heat the oil or ghee in the pot.
  3. When the oil/ghee is very hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds and stir for a few seconds until they start to sizzle and pop.
  4. Stir in the turmeric and garam masala.
  5. Next add garlic, ginger, onions and peppers and cook for a few minutes until onions become translucent. You can add a bit more oil/ghee if needed.
  6. Add the beef and brown briefly on all sides.
  7. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, red lentils, and optional potatoes. 
  8. Lock on the lid of the pressure cooker, bring to pressure, and cook for 20 minutes. If the meat is not  tender, pressure cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. 
  9. Add chopped coriander and stir through.
  10. To adjust the consistency of the curry you can add more tomato paste or beef stock to taste.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Easy Saucy Meatloaf

This is the simplest kid-friendly meatloaf I've ever made. I like to cook it divided in two loaf pans to maximize sauce coverage and to cut down on cooking time. Since it uses tomatoes rather than ketchup you can control the level of sweetness. The recipe here comes out quite sweet which is undoubtedly why it is so popular with my littles!

Another reason they like it is because it's a homogeneous brick of loaf. No bits of onion or herb or other non-meaty bits to pick out as my kids tend to do. I like to chop the onion, add it to the canned tomatoes, and then blend it together with a handheld stick blender before adding it into the meat mixture.

Easy Saucy Meatloaf
Inspired by this recipe

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs pounds ground beef
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 small onion, chopped *(to hide the onions use a hand blender to puree them into the tomato sauce)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (or pureed canned tomatoes)
  • 1 cup Italian (seasoned) bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (or pureed canned tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl combine the ground meat, egg, onion, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and seasoned bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  3. Press mixture into two loaf pans. Make a depression in the center and poke a few holes down the middle to ensure a good sauce coverage.
  4. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 cup tomato sauce, vinegar, mustard, and brown sugar. Mix together until sugar has dissolved and pour liquid evenly over meatloafs.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30-45 minutes until cooked through.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Broccoli Soups

Mmmm broccoli soup. We all love it around here. Full of vitamins, easy to cook up, and many different ways to cook it. This winter I've tried three different recipes.

The simplest one I found is by Gordon Ramsay and the instructions are to 1) boil the broccoli, 2) drain and reserve the liquid, 3) puree the broccoli, adding in as much cooking water as needed to reach desired consistency, 4) season with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with olive oil, 5) enjoy. You can fancy it up by pouring it into a bowl that has some goat cheese and walnuts waiting. Simple, delicious, and light.

The next recipe I tried is a rich Cream of Broccoli and Cheddar Soup. Because there's a roux it ends up having a thicker texture and makes for a hearty soup. This is the only one of the three that wouldn't work on a low-carb diet since there's a good amount of flour in it. I made this soup a few weeks ago and served it with a side of quinoa pancakes. The kids liked this one the best and it had the most mild broccoli flavor of the three. The other bonus is that it calls for cooked broccoli which makes it a great leftovers recipe if you happen to have some in the fridge.

Smooth Broccoli Cheddar Soup is the one I made most recently is my favorite at this point. It's kind of a mid-point between the two previous recipes. It boils up the broccoli along with a few other goodies in a broth, so there are more complex flavors than with the simple broccoli puree, and rather than a roux it's only made creamy by adding cheese and cream so not quite as heavy. I pureed it in my BlendTec on the soup setting which made it incredibly smooth as you can see from the photo.

And for all of these soup recipes, bacon always makes for an excellent garnish. There's really very little that bacon doesn't pair well with!

Cream of Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (with roux)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup cooked chopped fresh or frozen broccoli
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. In a medium pot, saute onions in butter until tender.
  2. Whisk in the flour, salt and pepper until blended.
  3. Gradually whisk in milk and broth.
  4. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until desired thickness.
  5. Add broccoli, stirring until heated through.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese until melted. (Don't put it back on the stove to boil after the cheese has been added or it will get a grainy texture.)

Smooth Broccoli Cheddar Soup (no flour)
Lightly inspired by Eating Keto
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large broccoli bunches, chopped. (I peel the stems and chop them up as well)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • fresh cooked bacon bits (optional)
  • chopped green onions (optional)
  • salt, pepper & garlic powder to taste
  1. Combine chicken broth, broccoli and onion and bring to a boil. 
  2. Turn down heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 min or until the veggies are soft.
  3. Put everything into a blender and puree. Depending on the size of your blender container this might need to be done in a few batches. Try not to fill more than 1/2 full at a time. Alternately, take a handheld stick blender to your pot and blend until smooth.
  4. Return the puree to the pot over low heat. Slowly add in the shredded cheese stirring until melted, and then add in the heavy cream. Heat until steamy; try not to let it boil since that can ruin the cheese. Season to taste with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  5. Serve topped with more cheddar cheese, bacon bits and/or green onions.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry

Another snowy day calls for another simple warm comfort food. This chicken curry is great because it uses ingredients that we keep in the house, and it can be made in the pressure cooker, so a total of about 45 mins from start to finish including prep time. An added bonus is that the leftovers can be easily packed up for lunches tomorrow.

This was a meal intended for everyone, so I followed the recipe without adding any extras to keep it at a mildly spiced level. Hubby added some hot curry powder to his serving to give it more kick, and for the kids I just served them the chicken pieces with a little sauce since they're not fans of cooked tomatoes or onion. And they definitely don't like their ingredients all mixed together. I ate my portion on sticky rice. 
Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry
Adapted from Yummy Tummy
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste (or 1 tbsp each of grated ginger & garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (or 2 dried bay leaves) 
  • 4 finely chopped tomatoes, or ~1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes 
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cut in 1-2 inch chunks (I prefer thighs for curry)
  1. Heat oil in your pressure cooker pot. 
  2. Add fennel seeds and heat until they crackle, it should take less than a minute if your oil is hot enough. 
  3. Add onions and saute for 5 mins, stirring. 
  4. Add ginger garlic paste and mix well.
  5. Add salt and all the spice powders and mix well. (I like to measure these out ahead of time so that I can just dump them all in at once.)
  6. Stir in tomatoes and curry/bay leaves and cook until the tomatoes have softened. 
  7. Stir in the chicken pieces. 
  8. Close the pressure cooker, heat to pressure, and then cook for 15 minutes. Use the natural pressure release method and let sit off the heat/unplugged. This should take about 10 minutes.
  9. Serve with rice, potatoes or roti.