Cheesy (Tuna) Low Carb Casserole Comfort

21 02 2015

So I haven’t posted much because the 300+ recipes here are enough to survive on for almost a year without repeating a meal! New dishes need to be super fantastic to warrant a new post on my food blog. My food blog is my traveling recipe box… that everyone can enjoy.
I have been making this dish for some time but mentioned it on Facebook and had people ask to post it. We are in the midst of hard-core casserole season made worse by crazy double digit lows. Everyone wants easy comfort food. What is more comforting than a tuna casserole? Traditionally, tuna casserole was a bunch of cans and pasta all thrown together and then popped into the oven or crock pot. Just say no to cream of mushroom soup in any casserole. Chem city and this is just as good.

The other neat thing about this recipe it is super easy IF you are prepared! I make this on a Monday night but prep all the ingredients a couple of days before. I roast the spaghetti squash and saute the veggies-onions-garlic and then just toss it all together and pop it in the oven and walk away. It is as easy as opening cans! You don’t have to add tuna or any other protein, it is good as a veggie meal.

Cheesy (Tuna) Spaghetti Squash Casserole

2 1/2 cups of cooked spaghetti squash (give or take.. dont worry if you dont have enough or too much, it will all work in the end)
1 tbsp FOC (fat of choice)
1 chopped onion
1 clove garlic
* any veggie that is looking sad in your crisper (pepper/beans/broccoli/mushrooms etc)

3/4 cup of cottage cheese, sour cream, ricotta or yogurt (my fav is cottage cheese!)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme
2 cans drained tuna, or any leftover protein from another night OR just keep it veggie
1 cup sharp cheddar (or any cheese you have in your fridge)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (for topping)
Chopped bacon bits for topping (optional)

Slice spaghetti squash lengthwise, scope out the seeds, and pop into a 400 degree oven until the top of the squash yields when you press on it. Put it aside until cool, scrap out the guts and pop it into the fridge.
As the squash is roasting, heat some oil and saute onions, then add garlic and any veggie you want to add to this. Pop the sauted veggies in with the spaghetti squash and store until you are ready to make

Casserole time!
In one large bowl, add veggies and spaghetti squash, throw in sour cream/cottage cheese, spices, cheese and beaten egg and mix it around until everything is a gooey mess. If it feels dry, add a bit more of your cottage cheese/sour cream/yogurt.

Prep a 9 x 13 casserole pan with cooking spray, and scrap the mixture into the dish, sprinkle the top with another 1/4 cup of Parmesan and if you are feeling saucy, some bacon and pop it into a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes until the top browns.

This makes 6 huge squares but alter if the serving size is too large for you. Nuts are based on 2 cans of tuna added and cottage cheese. I love this cold the next day for lunch.
Calories 201, Fat 9g, carbs 6g (Net 5g), Protein 23g, Sugars 2g


Turkey “Pop into my Mouth” Poppers

28 05 2014

I love finger food and anything I can “pop” into my mouth. I also love anything that can be made ahead and eaten warm or cold. Some people don’t “Do” leftovers, I am all about the leftover.
I have been using old recipes on my blog a lot.. in the whole ‘Back to Basics’ mode I am in.. I actually refer to it as “Stop eating like an Asshole” but “Back to Basics” sounds like something I could say to my granny. A lot of my old recipes are solid, and still taste delicious to me five years out.

I presented this recipe at a cooking demo this past weekend and because I have made it numerous times, it should really be posted on my blog. It is officially “PART OF THE ROTATION”.
These little meat snacks can be snacks, an appetizer for a party with a side of tzaziki, hot mustard, peanut sauce or even guacamole, served as an entree with a side or used as a slider. I think these turkey poppers with some thai zucchini noodles may be a really good time. Don’t be surprised if you see that recipe floating into your inbox in the near future.

Turkey/Chicken Poppers

1 lb. ground chicken breast (or pre-ground turkey)
2cups grated zucchini, squeezed after shredding to liberate juice
2-3 green onions, sliced
3-4 Tbsp cilantro, minced
1 egg
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¾ tsp cumin
olive oil, for cooking


Toss turkey/chicken with green onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, and pepper (and cumin, if using). Grate Zucchini into a doubled paper towel. Take the corners of the paper towel and make a bag and squeeze the crap out of the grated zucchini over your sink. You aren’t going to believe the moisture coming out of this. Zucchini has a lot of water, and I find this mixture is wet enough without introducing water into it. Add the squished grated zucchini to the bowl and combine.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat and cook until done OR if you prefer, bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.
Test the done-ness by opening one of the poppers up. Raw turkey middle = an ER visit.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, or my favourite jalapeno popper dip!

Cabbage Roll Soup & Bulk Barn Addiction

28 02 2014

I can’t be trusted in Bulk Barn. This is a hard place for a recovering sugar addict.. I cruise the aisles looking at all the candy and remembering how it all use to be my best friend. I can’t go into these places without some morale support and wont kid myself to think I can just “pop” in to buy some nuts and be done with it. The memories are too strong in those places, that I need a buddy.
The sobering truth is while I am healthy and almost five years out from my W.L. surgery, I have to be more vigilant about where I came from and how easy it could be to slip back into old ways.

It has been f-ing cold this winter so after my dodging and weaving at the Bulk Barn, I needed some comfort food. Enter Cabbage Roll Soup. It has all the components I love, cabbage, chorizo, and horseradish bitey-ness. I will also add it is pretty darn low in calories and mighty delicious. Ken had two bowls and said “blog worthy” so we make it again. Fart-tastic as well.. your colon loves cruciferous veggies. This is like kimchi in soup form… YUMMO

Cabbage Roll Soup
adapted from Anna Olsen’s recipe

3 strips diced bacon or pkg of PC chorizo
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium carrot, grated
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef or pork
1 clove garlic
6 cups diced green or savoy cabbage
1 28oz tins diced tomato
2 cups sodium reduced chicken stock/broth
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tbsp sweet paprika
2 bay leaves
to taste salt and pepper
garnish sour cream

Cook diced bacon or chorizo in heavy bottomed soup pot until crisp and the fat renders out. Add chopped onion and let the onions cook for 5 minutes until they start to get soft. Add celery, carrot and saute for 5 minutes.

Add the ground meat and garlic and let it all brown. Pull off any excess fat coming off the meat (or not) depending on how you are feeling.
pork cabbage
Stir in the cabbage, tomatoes, chicken stock, cider vinegar, horseradish, paprika, and bay leaves.

Bring to a strong simmer and then turn down to low simmer and neglect until the cabbage is yielding. This soup gets better the next day so let it simmer all day or make it the night before and reheat. Garnish with sour cream and serve.

This makes about 10 cups of soup, serving size is 1 cup. Ken, who doesnt believe soup is a meal, ate two bowls and told me he really liked it.
Nuts are as follows made with chorizo and ground pork. This will change with bacon and lean etc.
Calories 217, Carbs 10 (7g NET), Fat 12g, Protein 18g, Sugar 5g

Sweet Potato Pie & Public Television

27 02 2014

While I do get to do cool things at work all the time, and every day is something cool which makes you feel grateful for working at such an interesting place, I sometimes get asked to do SUPER cool things, like be on TV. So a year ago the metals conservator at work asked me to participate in this segment of Fakes and Forgeries on Museum Diaries. She has an Asian Zun metal pot that was a pastiche, meaning it was a Frankensteined piece put together from one excavation site. Back then, they werent as exhaustive about grid-ding up a site as today.
blog pork
So part of the gig was to see if all the parts of this pot that had been shoved together were compositionally the same, or not.
You’ll have to watch the episode to find out whether the Zun pot was real or not!
me on tv

So while we watched the episode, we ate Sweet Potato Pie. How does one deal with leftovers post WLS? It is a reality, because you dont eat the way you use to, and pork shoulder is usually a pretty meaty-large cut. You make a pie out of it!

Sweet Potato Pulled Pork Pie

(say that 10 times fast)

1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed (~1.5 to 2 cups)
Cooking spray
salt and pepper

2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 bunch of green onions
2 tbsp oil
2 cups shredded leftover pork or any meat you have going

3 to 4 eggs, scrambled

So I did this in parts because I wanted to hit the gym on my way home leaving Ken to assemble this and pop it into the oven. So the night before I sprayed a pie plate with cooking spray, pre-heated the oven to 375 and molded the mashed sweet potato into the dish like a pie crust. I squirted the pie with some more cooking spray and popped it into the oven for 20 minutes to bake up.

While that was baking in the oven, I heated the oil, and sauted both the onions and mushrooms until they were yielding. Threw in the leftover pork, gave it a good mix and plopped the whole thing into a storage container for the night. Pie crust came out of the oven, I left it to cool, and them saran-ed it and popped in the fridge for the next night. I can make this all in one shot, just read on. No cooling necessary.

The next night, Ken pre-heated the oven to 375, plopped the pork-veggie saute into a bowl, cracked 4 eggs in and mixed it around. Poured that into the sweet potato crust and popped it into the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.. just until the eggs set.
sweet potato pie

The interior “Money” shot. Look at all that crispy pork. SO delicious.
sweet potaoe pie 2

This makes 8 servings and would be fabulous for a brunch crowd.
Calories 257, Carbs 15(14g net), Fat 16g. Protein 14, Sugar 4g

A Bit of the South in Your Mouth!

26 02 2014

While some people may think my title is a little “off-colour”, I can assure you it was a thought based solely on a very raunchy band we use to see at Lee’s Palace, called White Cowbell Oklahoma.
I kid you not… these guys were white trash Southerners way before Duck Dynasty and Moonshine Wars.

I have just come back from Tucson, Arizona, and had a fabulous time with my colleagues and may I just brag that the weather was F-ing awesome. After the grim weather this winter in Toronto, I was content to not have to wear socks.. let alone 85F weather every day. I didn’t pack the right clothing but I was not complaining about it AT ALL!
What I do miss when I am away is cooking, my husband, and my cranky cat Kelvin. I am home, and Ken has been eating freezer meals so the fridge is a bit sparse. I admit to getting a bit giddy when I have less stuff to use to make something… it is my own version of Chopped.
“Katherine you have two bananas, a carrot, 4 lbs of frozen pork shoulder and a crock pot, what will you make”… AHHHHH
So I have always wanted to make South Carolina BBQ sauce.. because I love a good mustard and let’s face it, the real southern tomatoe based ones are chock full of sugar. So looking in my fridge I had good ole French’s mustard, low carb ketchup and the wheels started turning.

South Carolina Low Carb BBQ Pulled Pork

1 pork shoulder, fat trimmed, and tied (ours was around 4lbs-no bone)
1 crock pot or large pot that is oven safe

1/2 cup French’s yellow mustard
1 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce
1/4 cup of sf maple syrup or honey if you use sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of sf or low carb ketchup *PC has an organic ketchup that is super low in sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 onion, grated into a pulp (so it mixes into the sauce)

SO this recipe is super easy to whip up but it does require some forethought as you need to marinate-neglect the pork coated with sauce in the fridge overnight up to 24 hours.

Rinse and pat dry pork shoulder, mix BBQ ingredients up and plop pork into a ziploc. Pour delicious BBQ sauce over pork and squeeze out all the air in the ziploc and toss it into the fridge overnight up to 24 hrs.

Fast forward to me making coffee the next morning. Grab porky ziploc and dump the entire thing into your crock pot OR (for better results) into a oven safe deep pot.
south pork
I added some slightly withered jalapenos because I figured they would impart flavour. I added about a 3/4 of a cup of water, and left the lid off.
Slip the pot into a 250 degree oven for 8 hours and let it do it’s thing. Pulled pork in the crock pot is dead easy but it lacks the formation of “bark” that crispy outer skin you get when you braise in the oven.
This is bark… that tasty crispy bit. You can also achieve this on the BBQ, but who wants to leave the BBQ on for like 8 hours?
Either way you prepare it, it is delicious.
Let cool, and shred. Mix some of the sauce back into the shredded pork and put some of the South in your MOUTH.
Wait until you see what we did with the leftovers *cue suspenseful music here*
For another blog post!!

Pot Roast: An Oldie but a Goodie

3 01 2014

An oldie but a goodie…. I had a 4 pound roast in the freezer and knew what sort of day I was in for; super cold, mega-hard Spinning at noon, Yoga this morning, and a husband that has a crazy cold. Not to mention it is change the sheet night.. Friday is my favourite sleep of the week when the sheets are pressed, the feather bed is fluffed and everything is soft and new. I couldn’t allow dinner prep to infringe on my sheet night.

I knew I needed an easy ready-when-I-got-home meal. I love this balsamic onion pot roast recipe, so much so I am re-posting it for all those who may have missed it the first time.
Am I a jerk for re-posting a recipe? Possibly. I get a lot of questions about what we eat on a normal day. This is normal for us.. jerky or not.

This roast can be done in a dutch oven all day, or in a crock pot… up to you. All I know is that it is paleo, and when accompanied with some roasted Brussels sprouts, it is a pretty fabulous after work meal. People need to hear me when I say it took about 10 minutes to throw this together this morning. I browned the meat when I was drinking my protein coffee, threw in the onions and sauce, and walked away. Eating well isnt about mega planning, but it does mean you need to think about dinner before you roll into the house after work.

The leftovers have been shredded and we are using tomorrow to make Topopo salad… which happens to be one of my favourite Mexican dishes. Hispanic food that translates into Volcano salad. Just awesome especially for a geologist. Look for that post coming soon…
Onto the recipe.. so nice, that I had to repeat it twice *i am such a jerk*

Onion Balsamic Pot Roast

2 lbs of beef, cut is up to you
1 large sweet onion, cut in strips

8 ounces of tomatoe sauce
1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup of water
2 tbsp white wine OR white wine vinegar

2 tbsp of coconut oil or FOC

Seasonings: smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper

So I did this in a dutch oven on the stove, but you could easily do this in a crock pot. Throw in your coconut oil-fat of choice. Get out your meat and rub the meat with above spices. Wait until fat is hot and then sear each side of the meat. about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until completely browned. Take out of pot.

Whatever vessel you are using to cook this in, layer the cut up onions at the bottom of the pan. Add the meat sitting on top of onions like so.

Mix the water, vinegars, and tomatoe sauce together and pour over the beef and onions. If you are using the same pot as you used to brown, then make sure all those browned flavoured bits at the bottom of the pan get worked in.

Either set your crock to low, or pop the lid onto your dutch oven on medium stovetop for 6 to 8 hours, flipping the roast once if you can. Take roast out, and boil down the liquid to use as a gravy OR add a tablespoon of potato starch if you need/want to thicken it up. SO SO DELICIOUS

40 Cloves of Garlic Roasted Chicken – Vampires Beware

28 10 2013

Ever since we went to the garlic festival a couple of months ago I have been wanting to make this recipe. I have read about it in Larousse Gastronomique, which is hailed as the ‘World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia”. My brother and Sister in Law bought me a 70s edition for my birthday a couple of years ago and I love it. If you love cooking, this is one of the must-have books on your shelf. It outlines every French cooking technique and provides recipes on all classic French dishes. So I have been thinking about this recipe for some time.. waiting until Ontario garlic is in season. That stuff from China in the grocery store isn’t really worthy and I hate to buy it. I was holding out.

There are many species of garlic, all producing slightly different flavours and clove size. I used 4 heads of garlic which produced about 7 cloves of garlic per head. It wasn’t anywhere near the 40 clove count, but these were monstrous cloves, so it made up for it.

This recipe also outlines the perfect way to roast a chicken (capon). I will NEVER roast a chicken any other way from now on. I have, in the past, had dry chicken with crispy skin, OR juicy chicken but no crispy outer bits. This was the perfect combo of OMG juicy and OMG crispy chicken skin to pick at.

I also will always buy a capon. They are larger than a roaster chicken, and usually start around the 5 lb mark. They are slightly cheaper per pound, and because of the added size, I think come out juicer when you roast them. The extra chicken I have left over I will translate into another night’s dinner. See my post later this week on chicken and broccoli casserole. A comfort food classic that I have de-carbed and paleo-ized.


40 Cloves of Garlic Roasted Chicken

adapted from Larousse Gastronomique

1 chicken/capon, 5 lbs (I prefer a capon, as they are juicer & slightly bigger)
1 lemon, sliced in half
4 bulbs of garlic, dismantled and skins removed ~ loads-o-cloves
1.5 cups of chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
fresh thyme
salt and pepper

(not an exhaustive list of ingredients, right??)

Plop chicken on a plate on the counter for 20 minutes to bring up it to room temp and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Give the bird a good rinse, and pat dry. Get the butter out of the fridge and work it until it is soft. Lather up the bird on both sides with butter, like you are applying suntan lotion.
Wash hands.
Separate all the stems from the thyme by running your pinched fingers up the stem and pushing off all the leaves of flavour and use maybe 3 tbsp of fresh thyme and smear it all over the bird. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and tie bird up if you so choose or leave as is. Place cut lemon inside of bird cavity and plop bird into roasting pan.

Add the cloves of garlic around the bird, and the stock. Pop into the oven.
So the times and temperature will seem a bit crazy, but there is a method to my madness:

~ so for the next 15 minutes – uncover chicken into a 350 degree oven

~ timer beeps

~ cover chicken with foil-lid, and cook for the next 25 minutes at 350

~ timer beeps

~ baste chicken with fluids & uncover chicken and roast chicken at 450 degrees from 35 – 50 minutes**

**I set the timer for 20 minutes in, and shoved a meat thermometer into the bird so I could tell when it hit 165 plus degrees. I checked it to baste and to top up stock around the chicken. At this point all the garlic cloves are all squishy, so I smeared some on the outside of the chicken skin. Delicious.

Take out and leave on counter for 20 minutes so the internal temperature comes up to 170 and all the juices re-distribute into the bird.

NOW.. the pan juices – OMG the pan juices are nusto yummy on this. I skimmed off some of the obvious fat, and then proceeded to MASH the yielding garlic cloves into the pan juices scrapping all the bits on the bottom of the roasting pan. No thickener required.

We carved the bird, threw some broccoli on the side, nibbled on some garlic chicken skin and poured garlic pan juices over the whole thing.
There was complete and utter silence last night at dinner. Best chicken I have ever eaten.