Category Archives: Condiments and Sauces

Quick Vegetable Stir-fry

Photo: Vegetable Stir Fry

Ready for “Meatless Monday?” Here’s a quick to make rice-less fried rice. This replaces the starch with a variety of crumbled or riced vegetables to give you a deliciously satisfying Asian-flavored vegetable stir-fry. To make this even easier, you can start with a bag of Green Giant’s Cauliflower Crumbles “Fried Rice” Blend, which is cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and onions. If you are on phase 1, you might want to make your own riced vegetables and omit the carrots.

If you can’t find the mix at your grocery, you can use your food processor or grater to process cauliflower, broccoli stems, carrots, and onions to make your own mix. You’ll need three cups for the recipe with about 2 cups of it being cauliflower with the rest split between the broccoli, carrots, and onions.

I added in mushrooms and my adapted recipe adds in fresh spinach, but I didn’t have any in the house. I’ve listed even more possible add-ins at the end of the recipe.  Even on Monday, you can add any seafood to the stir fry. Shrimp is a great option. Any other time you want to make this, you can add chicken, beef, or pork to it.

For my friend and others who are trying to keep sodium low, I’ve included a recipe for a substitute soy sauce. It doesn’t taste like soy sauce, but it brings flavor to the dish without a lot of sodium.

 

Vegetable Stir Fry

3 cups (1 package) California Crumbles Fried Rice Blend (GG)
2 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Mushrooms, sliced (optional)
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Ginger paste
1 cup Spinach, fresh (optional)
2 stalks Green Onions, chopped
1 tablespoon Oil

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and ginger and stir for a minute or two. Add in the fried rice blend and mushrooms. Stir them in. Cook and stir for about 5 to 7 minutes until the vegetables are almost tender.

Stir in the beaten eggs and mix them into the vegetables, continuing to stir until the eggs are cooked. Add soy sauce or Non-Soy Sauce, which is much lower in sodium. Stir to mix. Top with chopped green onions if you wish.

Makes four servings.

Optional add-ins: peanuts, almonds, cashews, shrimp, any greens chopped, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, chopped celery or chopped peppers. Add Hawaiian flare on a non-meatless night by stirring in 1 cup of diced SPAM and 1/4 cup of chopped fresh pineapple. (The pineapple will boost those carbs a bit, but it really adds the island vibe.)

Just add in the carb counts for the additions.

Nutrition Information for Vegetable Fried Rice

Non-Soy Asian Sauce

For those with worries about low sodium or gluten or soy allergies, here’s a soy sauce substitute that adds flavor to the stir fry or anywhere else you might use soy sauce.

1 Beef Bone (sometimes butchers have these under soup bones)
3 cups of Water
2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
A pinch of garlic powder, ground ginger, and white pepper
Or Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Seasoning

Put water in a small pot and add the beef or soup bone. Bring to a boil, then lower to a low simmer. Cook for about one hour for the bone to flavor the meat. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Continue to simmer until the mixture is reduced to about two cups.

Let cool, then pour into a jar. If you have more than you can use within 10 days, pour the rest into an ice cube tray and freeze. When frozen remove the blocks to a plastic bag to store until you need them. Each cube will be about one tablespoon.

Makes 32 1-tablespoon servings.

Nutrition information for Non-Soy Asian Sauce

Cranberry and Peppers Salsa Perks Up a Party

Here’s a simple and delicious salsa made with cranberries and Serrano peppers. I’ve adapted a recipe my roomie found on the web to a low carb version. We’ve increased the number of peppers and it still doesn’t have a really spicy kick to it. I think if it sits on the shelf for a month or so, it might get stronger, but when it’s fresh, it’s only a smoky hint of fire. If you want more kick in it, then add some of the seeds from the peppers, but be cautious. If you can’t find sugar-free honey, then omit it.

This is a great treat to take to a Holiday party along with crackers and softened cream cheese to spread it on.  Pictured above with Flackers crackers.  For my review of these, go here.

Cranberry and Peppers Salsa

Low Carb Ingredients:

6 cups Cranberries (two 12-oz bags), chopped
3 cups Red Onions, chopped
1 Apple, peeled and chopped
6 large Serrano Peppers, chopped
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Cider Vinegar
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Water
3 tablespoons Sugar-Free Honey
2/3 cup Sugar Substitute
1/2 tablespoon Canning Salt

Canning Recipe

In a deep, large pot, put four one-pint canning jars and lids and seals, placed independently of the jars, in with water to cover the tops and bring to a boil.

Chop cranberries, onions, apple and peppers. A food processor really speeds this process up. Be sure to use gloves unless you like pepper juice in your skin.

In a large pot, mix all ingredients except the cranberries and bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce the heat to a high simmer, add the cranberries and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

About 10 minutes before done, remove the jars and drain.

Spoon or use a funnel to fill jars to about 1 to 1/2″ from the top. Take lid and sealing ring from hot water and seal each jar. Places jars back in the hot water, making sure the water covers the top. Boil for 25 minutes.

Remove the jars and wait for the lids to pop, which indicates they are sealed. This can take several hours. The lid will appear dented down a little when they are properly sealed. Once sealed, this can store for up to one year on the shelf.

If you are going to eat within two weeks, you can skip the hot water seal and just store in the closed jars in the refrigerator.

Makes 4 jars with about 15 tablespoons in each jar.

Nutrition Information per tablespoon:
Calories:10.2 g Fat:0.1 g Net Carbs:1.9 g Protein: 0.2 g

Closer view of the cranberry pepper salsa.

Regular Ingredients

6 cups Cranberries (two 12-oz bags), chopped
3 cups Red Onions, chopped
1 Apple, peeled and chopped
6 large Serrano Peppers, chopped
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Cider Vinegar
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Water
3 tablespoons Honey
2/3 cup Sugar
1/2 tablespoon Canning Salt

Cooking instructions are identical to the low carb ones.

Makes 4 jars with about 15 tablespoons in each jar.

Nutrition Information per tablespoon:
Calories:21.8 g Fat:0.1 g Net Carbs: 5.0 g Protein: 0.2 g

Brunch with Biscuits and Pumpkin Chorizo Sausage Gravy

Halloween is almost upon us and I am still celebrating pumpkin. If you’d like to make a special breakfast or brunch meal for Halloween or Thanksgiving or Christmas or traditionally for New Year’s Day, you can’t go wrong with biscuits and gravy. And yes, they can be made low carb.  In fact, this dish, using one biscuit, is less than 4 net carbs when made with CarbQuick.  It may be a little higher with other low carb flours.

Boy-oh-boy, this is a favorite dish of mine, so I have been working to get a really good recipe for them. I use CarbQuick for my low carb flour baking mix choice, but you can also use Bob’s Red Mill Baking Mix or Dixie Carb Counters or LC Foods. It might work okay with almond flour, but it’s best to try to mix another flour in with it. This recipe for biscuits is the tastiest one I’ve come up with so far. The gravy has a fall twist to it and also a bit of a spicy touch as I add pumpkin puree and chorizo sausage along with the regular sausage. It is a great flavor combination. Be bold. Give these a try.

Best Savory Biscuits

1 cup Low Carb Flour
2 tablespoons Shortening
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Sugar Substitute
1/3 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
Pinch Salt
Pinch ground Thyme
1 to 2 tablespoons Cold Water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F.) Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, garlic powder, salt, thyme and sugar substitute and mix together. Add the shortening and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles crumbles. Add 1 tablespoon of water and mix it into the dough. If it doesn’t pull together easily, add a little more water. You want the dough stiff but completely mixed.

Mix in the cheddar cheese until distributed. Divide the dough into quarters. Shape each quarter into a 3-inch round about 1/2-inch thick and place on the baking pan.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Makes 4 biscuits.

Nutrition Info per biscuit:
   Calories: 152.5 Fat: 12.8 g Net Carbs: 2.3 g Protein: 6.4 g

Pumpkin Chorizo Sausage Gravy

1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 tablespoons Low Carb Flour
4 oz. Pork Sausage
2 oz. Basque Style Chorizo Sausage
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon Pumpkin Puree

In a medium skillet, brown the sausage and chorizo, breaking it into smaller pieces as you cook it. When lightly browned remove to a paper towel on a plate to drain. Stir the low carb flour into the grease in the pan to make a paste. If there isn’t enough, add a little oil to the pan.

Stir in the heavy whipping cream and 1 cup of water, the Worcestershire sauce and the cayenne pepper and mix well. Then stir in the pumpkin puree and the cooked sausage. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.

Split the biscuits in half and pour 1/4 of the sausage gravy over each biscuit.

Makes 4 servings or 2 hungry-man (or woman) servings.

Nutrition Information for both biscuit and gravy per serving:
   Calories: 327.4 Fat: 23.9 g Net Carbs: 3.9 g Protein: 12.4 g

Guilt-Free Chicken Tenders

For everyone who loves chicken tenders, like me, but can’t have all the carbs in traditional breading, this is an alternate version I came up with based on the Betty Crocker recipe. It’s easy, not fried and uses low carb almond flour for the breading.  They taste wonderful, although not like a breaded one or an over-breaded one, in some cases.  The chicken is juicy and the flavor comes through beautifully.  This recipe makes 2 large servings or 3 to 4 smaller ones.  I found two of the tenders with the vegetables to be a very filling meal, but a  bigger appetite would probably want at least three of these.

Oven Baked Chicken Tenders

2 tablespoons low carb Flour (any fine mill type)*
1 Egg
1 tablespoon Water
1/2 cup Almond Flour or Ground Almonds
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb Chicken Breast Tenders

Favorite dipping sauce, if desired

* Carbolose, CarbQuick, coconut flour, Bob’s Red Mill Baking Mix, LC Foods or any others.  You could possibly even use almond flour for the initial dredge as well as the final one. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F.) Prepare a baking pan with a piece of aluminum foil sprayed with baking spray.

Rinse the chicken tenders and dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl or saucer, put the low carb flour. In a small bowl, add the egg and water and beat until frothy. In another shallow bowl, add the almond flour, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and a garlic powder.

Lightly dredge a chicken tender through the plain flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then coat it on both sides in the almond flour. Put on the prepared baking pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken tenders. You should have about eight of them. Spray the top with butter-flavored cooking spray.

Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes until golden brown and no cloudy juices run out. Let sit a few minutes, then serve. Wonderful side dishes with it are roasted golden beets and butternut squash, as pictured, or celery root or kohlrabi fries or creamed cauliflower. A salad is a colorful additional also.

You can serve with a low carb ranch dressing or chipotle dressing or the honey mustard dressing below.

Makes 4 servings or 2 large servings.

Nutrition Info for 1 servings (based on 2)
Calories: 257 Fat: 11.7 g  Net Carbs: 2.3 g Protein: 35.3 g

Honey Mustard Dressing

1 teaspoon sugar-free Honey
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
3 tablespoons Mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until completely blended. No carbs in this recipe!

Tip: If you can’t find sugar free honey – it can be ordered online at Netrition.com- then regular honey can be used. It will add 2.9 g of carbs to each serving.

If you try this recipe, please let me know how you like it or post any questions or suggestions you might have.

Pursuing the Pasilla Pepper Confusion

My mother didn’t cook too often, usually stepping in to make something unusual or different from the standard fare that my grandmother served. Coming from a ranch family, my grandmother focused a lot on basic ranch food, meat and potatoes, chicken and hearty food. Mother liked to bake the unusual breads, the different cultural dishes. One of the things that she did every now and then was to make from-scratch enchilada sauce. I remember her coming home from a trip across the border with a bag filled with dried, very dark chiles. She pour boiling water over these and let them sit until they were soft, then put them through a sieve using a large pestle to mash them forcing out the chile juice and pulp that formed the base for the sauce. I believe that the chiles she used were Pasilla peppers.

When I began looking into the background of these peppers, I found there is a bit of confusion about what exactly a pasilla pepper is. Several sites that sell them and Wikipedia are adamant that pasilla, also called chile negro, are the dried chilaca pepper. This is a long, narrow pepper in the Capsicum annum family. It is very dark, almost a chocolate brown color when dried and I am pretty sure these are the chiles that my mother used for her sauce. Like many chiles, it ranges from mild to a middle of the range hot.

However, it seems the California camp has muddied the culinary waters a bit as grocers and cooks in California call the dried form of the poblano chile a pasilla also. This creates two lines of thinking in regards to what a true pasilla is. A couple of recipes I read even include the ancho chile as pasilla, when an ancho is actually the dried form of the poblano. It’s clear that cooks aren’t certain what pasilla is. The word pasilla, pronounced pa-see-ya, translates to “little raisin”, which more properly describes the dark brown chilaca when it is dried.

348px-Capsicum_annuum_ancho_dried
Ancho chile from the poblano pepper.  Photo from Wikimedia Commons, used with permission – “Capsicum annuum ancho dried” by User:Carstor – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

 

220px-Capsicum_annuum_pasilla_dried
Pasilla peppers from the chilaca chile. Photo from Wikimedia Commons, used with permission. “Capsicum annuum pasilla dried” by User:Carstor – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

 

 

 

 

 

 

For cooking purposes, any dried chile will work to make enchilada sauce. The different chiles used will alter the taste and hotness of the sauce. Commercial chili powder uses a variety of chiles, such as ancho, jalapeno, New Mexico Hatch and pasilla. The chili powder is also excellent in making Tex-Mex Chili or any other kinds of stew chilies. One famous chef uses chili powder as the base for his enchilada sauce, so it can be a simple process to make homemade sauce or you can start from the dried peppers. One thing is pretty certain, it will be thicker and more flavorful than any canned enchilada sauce you buy.

Nutrition Information per 1 oz (28 grams) of pasilla
Calories: 97 Fat: 4.0 g Net Carbs: 6.0 g Protein: 3.0 g

Keep in mind that once pressed to get the liquid and pulp out, the nutrition value may decrease somewhat, but for calculating the recipe, it’s best to count the number of peppers rather than the finished quantity of sauce to be on the safe side.

Recipes:

So far, I haven’t tried making homemade enchilada sauce, but with Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, I am thinking I will give it a try. At least, I’ll make  one beginning with chili powder or possibly one recipe that uses chipotle peppers, which you can buy canned in their sauce. So, I will refer you to a couple of recipes from other sites.

This recipe for Irma’s Red Enchilada Sauce starts with dried pasillas and dried Ancho or New Mexico chiles. If the pasillas are very crisp, they may already be roasted and you don’t need to roast them a second time.

Here’s a picture-by-picture recipe for Homemade sauce on Instructables using California or Hatch chiles.

And this is the Chipotle sauce recipe that is a little simpler.

Coming next month, I will put up a low carb recipe for enchiladas using low carb whole wheat tortillas instead of corn tortillas and homemade enchilada sauce in time for Cinco de Mayo! (That’s the 5th of May celebration for those not familiar with Mexican customs.)

All comments relevant to my posts are welcome. SPAM is not.  If the post has nothing to do with my site content, it will not be posted.

Information for this article came from Wikipedia, Eat More Chiles, and Spices Inc

Top photo of pasillas is from Wiki Commons, used with permission- “Fresh chilaca chilies” by Jonathanischoice – Photographed on my kitchen bench. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –