Category Archives: Main Dish

Delightful Shrimp with Avocado Pesto

Photo: Shrimp with Avocado Pesto

I found this lovely Creamy Avocado Pesto recipe at AllRecipes.com and adapted it to make this delightfully refreshing shrimp pasta with butternut rotini.

As I was contemplating my pasta substitute choices at the grocery store, I spotted Mann’s Butternut Rotini, whooped in excitement, and bought a package. You don’t have to use this exact thing in the recipe. Cubed or spiraled butternut will work just as well, or you can use zucchini noodles I am just excited that Mann’s is making these prepared vegetable options available. In addition to the butternut rotini, they also have cauliflower rice, sweet potato fettuccine, baby cauliflower caulilini, and kohlrabi linguini. I am eager to try all of these except the sweet potato since it is a little higher in carbs than the rest, although the serving size is 1-1/2 cups, so if you cut back to 1/2 cup, you could still have some. Check these out at the Mann’s website

Back to this recipe. The avocado pesto is easy to make. Fresh basil is a must. I had to buy a whole basil plant to get any at my grocery store, but with luck, yours might have some in their produce department. I used large shrimp, but you can use the medium ones.

Shrimp with Avocado Pesto

1 10 ounce-package Butternut Squash Rotini
1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 lemon, juiced or 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 cup fresh basil, or more to taste
4 tablespoons grated Romano cheese, halved
2 cloves garlic
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil, or as needed
1/4 cup diced tomatoes, or more to taste (optional)
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Cook the butternut rotini in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes to get them partially cooked. (They are in a steamer bag, but it popped open mid-way, so cut a small opening in it to let the steam out.)

In a large skillet, add one tablespoon oil, then add the rotini to cook. Stir it often until it softens, then add the cleaned shrimp and stir fry until the shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat.

In the blender, use a spoon to scoop out the avocado, then add lemon juice, basil, two tablespoons of the Romano, garlic, salt, and black pepper. If you’d like a little more spice, add about 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper. Pulse until smooth, then add remaining olive oil, pulsing until it looks creamy. Transfer the pesto to the skillet with shrimp and rotini and stir it to coat evenly. Add the rest of the Romano cheese along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Serve immediately. You can refrigerate left-overs for a day or two. The avocado may turn a little darker, but it is still good, and it reheats well.

Makes four delicious servings.

Nutrition Info Shrimp with Avocado Pesto

Tasty BBQ Chicken Biscuit Rolls

Photo: BBQ Chicken Rolls

Want a low carb variation of the BBQ Chicken that tastes great and is pretty easy to do? To make these, I used Carbquick from Tova Foods. You could also use Bakesquick from Dixie Carb Counters. If you use other flours, they may not hold together as well and you’ll need to add butter and baking powder. This uses precooked rotisserie chicken, which makes it a great way to use any extra chicken.

You can order either Carbquick or Bakesquick from Netrition.com or from Amazon. It may be a little higher from Amazon, but if you have Prime, you may save on the shipping.

BBQ Chicken Biscuit Rolls

2 cups CarbQuick
1/4 cup Water
1 teaspoon Garlic and Herb Seasoning
1/2 cup G. Hughes Sugar-free BBQ sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/3 cup Onion, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F.) Prepare a baking pan with either a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Mix the Carbquick in a large bowl with about 1/4 cup of water. Add enough that it pulls together into a ball, but don’t get it too moist. It will roll out better if it is a stiff dough. Form the dough into a 5-inch x 3-inch log, then put in on a silicone mat or wax paper covered board. Place a sheet of wax paper over the top and press it into a rectangular shape. Use a rolling pin to roll it out to about 10 inches long by 6 or so inches wide.

Put BBQ sauce in a cup and use a basting brush to spread about half of it over the top of the biscuit dough. Add the rest to the diced or shredded chicken. Spread the chicken evenly over the dough, allowing a slight edge on each side for rolling the dough. Top with chopped onions, cheese, and sprinkle on the parsley.

Roll the dough on the long side to form a roll-up. The dough may break in places, so pat it back together as you go. If it becomes difficult to roll, then pull the other side to meet the rolled side and press together to seal. Cut the roll into 8 slices.

Photo: Pan of BBQ Chicken rolls

Place slices flat with the filling up on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until they are golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Let cool about 5 minutes, then serve with a poblano ranch dressing or more BBQ sauce. Makes 4 servings of two rolls each.

Creamy Tuscan Chicken for Two

Photo Creamy Tuscan Chicken

I make most of the meals at my house into small portions for two people. This is the case with this recipe for delicious creamy Tuscan-style chicken. If you want to make it for more people, it’s easy to double the amounts. If you have one very plump chicken breast, you can probably cut it across the middle as if you were butterflying it to make two chicken pieces. If the chicken is too thick, over 1/2″, then you should cut it to thinner slices, so it cooks thoroughly.

This recipe uses sun-dried tomatoes, but you can also use about six to eight cherry tomatoes cut in half.

Creamy Tuscan-Style Chicken

3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Spinach, chopped
1/4 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Add olive oil to a medium-sized skillet over medium heat and cook the chicken pieces for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until they are browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.

To the skillet, add heavy cream, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. If you are using cherry tomatoes, add them in now also. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon until the sauce begins to thicken. Add spinach and the sun-dried tomatoes and stir them in. Turn to a simmer and cook until spinach begins to wilt. Add the chicken and any juices on the plate back to the pan and cook another three or so minutes until the chicken is heated.

Makes two servings. Serve with riced cauliflower or zucchini noodles. I served mine with a delicious riced golden beets side dish. Recipe follows.

Image: Nutrition Info

 

Savory Riced Golden Beets

Photo: Riced Golden Beets

I’ve tried the frozen riced purple beets, and they are yummy with the earthy taste that the dark beets have and make a great side dish. However, I prefer golden beets with their lighter flavor. So, I riced up a beet and added a little chicken broth and seasoning. Voila! Delicious couscous-like pearls of delight. Along with the chicken, they really provided that extra touch of the Mediterranean flavor.

1 medium-sized Golden Beet, cleaned and peeled
1/4 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (optional)
1 tablespoon Butter

Rice golden beet in a food processor, using the pulse until it is the size of rice kernels. You can also use a grater to grate the beet, but the food processor is much easier.

In a small skillet, melt butter then add riced beets. Add about 1/4 cup of water and cook over low heat until the water almost evaporates. Add the chicken broth, seasoning, and salt, reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook until the beets are done about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir often and add additional water if they get too dry.

Makes two servings.

Image: Nutrition Info

Pork Loin Chops with sauce and spinach

Photo: Pork chop with garlic cream sauce

This delectable dish comes together quickly, and it tastes fantastic. The creamy sauce is just right with a touch of heat from the flaked chile peppers. I actually had a package of three 3/4-pound each pork loin chops that I used. I cut two in half to make the 4 4-ounce pieces, and they were more than enough to provide a hearty meal while still sharing a bit with the cat.

I used frozen zucchini zoodles, but you can make these from fresh zucchini if you have some on hand. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use your grater to make long strips, or you can cut them thinly with a knife. Fresh zucchini makes a better tasting dish, but the frozen one is still very good.  You can also serve this with riced cauliflower or just steamed cauliflower flowerets.

Pork Loin Chops with Garlic Cream Sauce and Baby Spinach

4 Pork Loin Chops, 3-4 oz., boneless, about 1/2 inch thick
Salt and fresh cracked Pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Paprika
2 teaspoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter
4 cloves Garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup Onion, minced
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream
2 cups Baby Spinach
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed Red Chili Pepper flakes, optional
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Season the pork chops on both sides with paprika, salt, and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, then add the pork chops and sear for about three minutes, then flip them and sear the other side. Remove the chops to a plate to rest.

Melt butter in the same pan and add the onion and garlic and stir them for about a minute. Add the chicken stock, then cook and stir for a few minutes until the liquid is reduced a little.

Reduce the heat to low. Add heavy cream, Italian seasoning, and chili flakes and stir. Add additional salt and pepper, if needed. Cook and occasionally stir for about 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken a little.

Add the spinach leaves and stir in two or three minutes to allow them to wilt, then stir in the Parmesan cheese and mix together well.

Add the pork chops and any juices that have accumulated on the plate back to the pan. Cook about two minutes to reheat the chops, then serve over zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice or other vegetables of your choice.

Makes 4 servings.

Cinco de Mayo book plug and a new taco recipe

Image: Pork taco with avocado crema

For those who like a reason to celebrate, Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. That’s May 5th for anyone who doesn’t read enough Spanish to know. It’s a great celebration day for Mexico, but also just a good reason to raise a margarita in their honor and indulge in Mexican food. Of course, if you’re trying to stick to your low carb lifestyle, this presents some challenges.

One of our Reno Mexican restaurants has a sugar-free orange margarita made with Crystal Light that is not bad at all. If you’re making them at home, you can buy Skinny Syrup sugar-free margarita mixes in syrup form from Amazon. They also have a mojita mix if you prefer that flavor. Or you can find recipes on line for sugar free to make at home, like this one for a Skinny Margarita.

But moving along to the food, it is difficult to eat out and not indulge with more carbs than you want in your meal. Some dishes, like fajitas are not bad in carbs, but the tortillas, beans, and rice will really slam you, so best to avoid going out unless you can say no to the side dishes and just make something at home.

Here’s a plug for my low carb LC15 cookbooklet, Mexican Food for a Low Carb Lifestyle. This booklet has over 15 recipes for tried and true Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes that will satisfy your need for spice. At only 99-cents, this will give you main courses and side dishes with easy to follow instructions. I didn’t go into the desserts but I do have a recipe for flan on this website .

As a reminder, if you’re looking for low carb flour tortillas, most stores carry La Tortilla Factory or Mission flour tortillas in the low carb version. These vary from 3 net carbs to 6 net carbs per tortilla, so be sure to check the package for the carb count. For corn tortillas, I haven’t found a low carb offering, but I do have this recipe that is similar, golden flax meal tortillas.

While a few of my recipes from the book are on this website, most of them are exclusive to the booklet. If you prefer a book you can take to the kitchen and scribble notes in, the booklet is included in the 3-in-1 paperback book with Breakfast Choices and Magic Muffins for just $4.99. You can buy it here.

image: Open pork taco with apricots

Grilled Pork and Apricot Tacos with Avocado Crema

Now, for a new recipe that I tried last week, here’s a very tasty pork taco with an apricot salsa. This can also be made with peaches. I settled on apricot because I had some in my freezer and I couldn’t find a ripe peach at the grocery store. Using fresh is better than a frozen fruit that doesn’t look quite as attractive, but it tasted very good.

1 large  (8 oz) boneless Pork Loin Chop, about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 tsp. Chipotle Powder
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/4 tsp. Oregano
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/8 tsp. Coriander
1/8 tsp. Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tbsp. Olive Oil, divided
1 Avocado, diced
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Peach or 2 Apricots, chopped
1/2 Green Onion, finely sliced
Juice of 1 lime, divided
1 1/2 tbsp. freshly chopped Cilantro
1/2 tsp. Sugar Substitute
4 Low-carb Flour Tortillas
Cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)

In a large bowl, add chopped apricots or peaches, shallots, cilantro, sugar substitute, 1/2 the lime juice, and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Mix together well and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Cover and chill until ready to use.

In a big bowl, add chipotle powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, coriander, and allspice and salt and pepper. Mix all together, then add the pork and cover it the seasonings on both sides. Let sit while you mix the avocado crema.

Using your food processor, add the chopped avocado, sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and the rest of the lime juice. Blend until it is smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides with a silicone spatula if necessary. Set aside.

Grill pork chop on an outdoor grill or in your grill pan for three minutes. Turn to grill the back side for another two to three minutes until the pork is done. Let rest a few minutes, then slice thinly.

Heat the tortillas on the grill or in the grill pan until they are hot. You can also do this over an open gas flame allowing them to blister or bubble, then flipping to the other side. Top each tortilla with 1/4 of the avocado crema, then the pork, and top with the salsa.Garnish with cilantro if you wish.

Makes 4 tacos.

My picture at the top shows the taco with a scoop of riced turnips with green chile, corn, and beans. I’ll share that recipe next week.