Category Archives: Condiments and Sauces

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 –

Peachy Keen Grilled Chicken with Peach Salsa

Chicken with Peach Salsa with a side of sauteed Broccoli and Kale with Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Confession right up front here, I adore peaches.  When I started the Atkins diet again four years ago, I was dismayed to see that peach was only an acceptable food in phase 4, the maintenance phase of the program.  I eased them back into my program about a year ago as I do consider myself basically on maintenance at this point.

So image my surprise when I got a regular update from Atkins touting this wonderful recipe that included a peach salsa and it said it was ok for phases 2 to 4.  That would be any time after the two-week induction phase.  Good news for all of us, but with all things that are too good to be true, it doesn’t mean you can go crazy with it!  You still need to watch the carbs because a medium peach is 9.1 g of sugar and that registers as 9.9 net carbs of the 10.1 carbs in it.  That can be a bump in your daily allotment.   So use in moderation.

So, peachy keen.  I was anxious to try this recipe from Atkins, but I did make a couple of modifications to my version.  It is absolutely wonderful, moving into the “make often” list.  And when I served the peach salsa up, I found it was more than enough for the chicken and actually got three large servings from it.  I put the last serving away and used it for two smaller servings as a side dish with Chicken Alfredo the next night.  The salsa would also be wonderful with grilled, broiled or braised white fish and I just bet it would be great with pork chops.

Grilled Chicken with Peach Salsa

My version of the Atkins recipe is almost identical to theirs except I substitute bell pepper for the jalapeno pepper. Love jalapenos, but my stomach isn’t so crazy about them as I age. Besides, I had a Mexi-red pepper from m garden to add in.

2 chicken breasts halves (about 4 to 5 oz each)
1/2 Teaspoon ground Cumin
1/2 Teaspoons Red Chili Powder or Cayenne Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon ground Black Pepper
3 Teaspoons Olive Oil, divided
1/2 Peach, firm, but ripe, about medium-sized, diced
1/4 cup Bell Pepper, diced
1/4 cup Red Onion, diced
1/2 medium Tomato, diced
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh chopped Cilantro
1 teaspoon Sugar Substitute
1 Tablespoons fresh Lime Juice

In a small bowl, combined the chile powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and 2 teaspoons olive oil to make a paste. Rub 1/2 the paste into the top of the chicken breasts, turn them over and rub the rest onto the back. Let the chicken marinate while you prepare the salsa.

If you are using a grill that take 10 to 20 minutes to warm up, now is the time to start pre-heating.  I use a Foreman Grill for two, which is large enough for two small chicken breasts and takes about 5 minutes to do the job. It only takes a short time to warm up, so I go ahead with the salsa before warming the grill.

Chop the peaches, bell pepper, onion and tomato into bite-sized pieces. Be sure to remove the membranes on the pepper as well as any excess seeds or juices. Place in a small bowl. Add the cilantro, lime juice and sugar substitute with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix the oil and fruit, adding salt and pepper to season. Cover and refrigerate until the chicken is grilled. This can be prepared ahead of time and it will keep a couple of days in the refrigerator.

Grill the chicken until it is done and juices run clear. Place the chicken on serving plates and top with the peach salsa.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition Info per serving
Calories:272.5  Fat:13.4 g  Net Carbs: 6.5 g  Protein: 29.8 g

Peach Salsa only
Nutrition Info per serving – 4 servings per recipe
Calories:44.9  Fat: 3.6 g  Net Carbs: 3.0 g  Protein: 0.4 g