BEST Low Carb Crispy Chicken Salad (Air Fryer Options!)

best low carb crispy chicken salad

 

You know how salad never tastes even remotely the same at home as it does in a restaurant? You can do all the Pinteresting and specialty shopping you want, and nothing will taste like a perfect steak house salad. And it is even worse for those of us who are limited in what we like in our salads! (Think croutons, meat, and cheese! ha ha) My favorite salad for many years as been the Chicken Caesar Salad from Applebees–without the dressing (I know….I eat like a ten year old!) and with CRISPY chicken rather than grilled. (I do love grilled chicken, and as soon as my new Intermittent Fasting course is up and live, I am going to share my amazing oven grilled chicken marinade recipe….want to get some new pics for it!) But no matter what I did, I couldn’t duplicate at home. They have amazing sour dough croutons that aren’t airy or break-your-teeth hard. They are juuuuust right. They have the crispest Romaine. Perfect salad cheese. Yes, I am craving it right now!

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Healthy, Family-Friendly Salmon Patties (Low Carb and Freezer Options!)

Healthy Family-Friendly Salmon Patties

 

Back when I did freezer cooking every month and never let my freezer get lower than 100 entrees at any given time, Salmon patties were in my rotation. The recipe was so easy and quick that even my youngest assistant could mix them up and shape and flash freeze them (after an older sibling opened the cans for them). My kids loved crunching the bones between their fingers—much like the joy of popping packing bubbles, I guess. So to say that anyone can make salmon patties is definitely a true statement!

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Low Carb Versatile Meatballs (Freezer options!)

 

I have had a long-term love affair with meatballs! This is, in part, because they are THE perfect food to have in your freezer. And, in part, because I have such fond memories of making these with my kids—them all gathered around the table rolling the mixture into balls and placing them on cookie sheets to “flash freeze” as I read aloud from our favorite chapter book. Oh…the sweet memories….

But honestly, I love meatballs for way more reasons than their freeze-ability and the little faces around my table:

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Healthy Chicken Tenders (Low Carb & Air Fryer Options)

 

I have loved experimenting with my air fryer! While it “fries” up par-fried, store bought, frozen foods wonderfully, that is not what I’m really after (though it is incredibly convenient for when my sons drop in!). What I really want for everyday fare is to make something lower carb/more healthful AND low fat (if I choose—-with the option to slather something with healthy fats if I feel so inclined). The air fryer has not been disappointing!

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Air Fried Corn on the Cob

 

I have been having so much fun cooking in my air fryer. I am sad that it isn’t super helpful for large families as it is amazingly convenient. (It doesn’t hold much at one time, which is why it is hard to cook for a family in it. It is a quick 12 to 15 minutes for homemade French fries for two or three, but if you need to make that for six or eight or ten, it is extremely time consuming.) However, I would have to say that the air fryer is THE perfect kitchen appliance for empty nesters. Super fast to just toss foods in it and go. Seriously, I LOVE it. I had four roast-an-ears to fix for dinner one night with some bbq beef and stir fried veggies, so I thought I would give it a try in my fryer. Twelve minutes later, after simply brushing them with butter and sprinkling with salt and pepper, I had four perfect ears of corn. They tasted and looked like they had been cooked on the grill. Yum!

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Overloaded, Messy Omelets (Stuff Those Babies With Goodness!)

 

If you have been following my Grocery Fast over on Character Ink blog, you might be aware that I am trying to empty my freezers, refrigerators, cupboards, and pantries! When you are trying to use up a little of this and a little of that or when you need to go to the store but want to make a meal first, eggs–in the form of omelettes, frittatas, quiches, and “skillets” (what we call loaded scrambled eggs)–are perfect! If you’ve got eggs, anything fresh at all in the fridge (even leftover meats!), canned mushrooms or hot peppers, quite literally any cheese in any form ANYWHERE, and maybe even some little zipper bags of leftover frozen sausage or bacon (or any meats!), then eggs are the perfect go to.

 

One thing that I have learned while raising seven kids on one income for over two dozen years is that I DON’T want to go to the store at the last minute–for anything! It took extra time that I just didn’t have. I was the queen of subbing when I had a house full of kids….or making what I had the ingredients for (as opposed to running to the store for one ingredient to make one specific dish).

 

 

 

 

So eggs are perfect for emptying your food stores! And they are super fast! And nutrient-packed! According to Webmd,

“With science on our side, we can once again enjoy the wonderfully nutritious egg. Along with milk, eggs contain the highest biological value (or gold standard) for protein. One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids.”

 

So eat eggs….and stuff those “omelets” (said loosely since this recipe isn’t exactly folded over!) full of other nutrient-dense goodness as well!

 

Oh, and for those who practice Daily Intermittent Fasting, the egg is one of those perfect foods to open your eating window with!

 

(Oh, and one more little tidbit…did you know that if you make my 7 Layer Salad (or any dish that calls for boiled eggs that are not “intact” (i.e. not deviled eggs or something that calls for the entire egg white), you can cook several eggs (unwhisked!) in the Instant Pot or microwave, let them cool, then chop them up and use them. They look and taste like boiled eggs!)

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!


Overloaded, Messy Omelets (Stuff Those Babies With Goodness!)
Author: 
Serves: 2 - 3 servings
 
Ingredients
  • FILLING
  • ¼-1/2 pound meat (8-16 slices of bacon booked and minced or ¾ to 1½ cups tiny cubes of ham, sausage, kielbasa, etc.)
  • 2 cups chopped veggies for filling:
  • tomato
  • green pepper
  • onion
  • mushroom
  • green onions/shallots
  • 1 to 2 TBSP minced garlic (start with lesser amount unless garlic fan!)
  • OMELET
  • 8 large eggs (or 4 whole eggs and 8 egg whites if wanting more protein but less fat and fewer calories)
  • ½ tsp All Purpose Seasoning Mix (or seasoning mix of choice or salt)
  • ⅛ tsp pepper
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 4 ounces shredded (1 cup) Monterey jack or colby or mild cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Prepare bacon in 12-inch skillet, air fryer, or oven until crispy. OR cube or shred other meat(s).
  2. Cube all veggies until roughly the same size. (I use this veggie cutter nearly every time I cook!)
  3. Remove the bacon from the skillet and using some of the bacon grease (or grease from your bacon grease crock), start cooking the veggies with the garlic and onions and green peppers in the 12-inch skillet.
  4. Once these aromatics are somewhat translucent, add the tomatoes and mushrooms until heated through.
  5. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and melt butter in the clean skillet.
  6. While butter is melting, whisk the eggs and seasonings.
  7. Swirl the skillet until melted butter covers bottom of the pan. Add half of the whisked eggs to it and cook. Lift cooked edges up and allow liquid to come to the edges to cook.
  8. When flippable, turn entire omelet over to cook other side until just cooked. (Do not overcook.)
  9. Slide first "batch" out of the skillet and repeat with remaining egg mixture.
  10. When first side of second batch is cooked, flip so that "done side" is facing up. Load the entire surface with the meat, cooked veggies, and cheese.Top with the "done" batch (think quesadilla!) and cook until bottom is done and cheese is melted.
  11. Slide out of pan and serve!
Nutrition Information
Calories: 721 Fat: 58 Carbohydrates: 11 Sugar: 3 Protein: 37

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Steak and Potato Foil Packets (With Low Carb Options!)

 

So if you’ve been following my Grocery Fast, you know we have HAD to eat steaks. Yep….in order to empty our food stores, we have to eat five years worth of gifted steaks that we didn’t know how to fix! (Who knew that you could spend $25-30 a week for groceries for two months and end up eating steak every week?)

 

I have been on the hunt for yummy steak recipes, and I found this one from Cafe Delight in a video tutorial on Facebook. I tweaked it for our liking, but the original recipe did come from that mouth-watering video!

 

So here are some things I have been learning about steaks and this recipe in trying to use up these amazing gifts:

 

1) Medium rare does NOT take long. Check out my first steak post, and watch the Gordon Ramsey video there in which he teaches the three points on the wrist to determine your steak’s doneness. Super informative! The first time I made these, our steak was well done. It was good, but not melt-in-your-mouth medium rare!

 

2) I know there are people who make “hobo dinners” and other foil meals without precooking the potatoes. I’m not one of them, especially when it would potentially require over-cooking the steaks in order to get the potatoes done. I even pre-cook my potatoes and carrots before cooking them in roasts. I don’t like overcooked meats!

 

3) The oven (or grill) must be HOT. Just like I discovered in my Skillet Steaks, when we try to cook steaks in a warm pan or oven or grill, we risk simmering/boiling the steaks.

 

4) The predictor of the correct doneness of these steaks, in addition to the baking or grilling time, is how you cut the steaks. Be sure to follow the dimension instructions in the recipe. You will need larger pieces in order to get that rare or medium rare steak.

 

 

5) Just like in my skillet steak recipe, you want to have your steaks at room temperature when you assemble this. I found that I had at least 20 minutes of prep time, so the steaks warmed as I was assembling.

 

6) Use a meat thermometer if you truly do not want to go above medium rare. (I talk about how to effectively use meat thermometers in my chicken drumstick post.)

 

7) The original recipe provider said to use expensive cuts of meat. If you read my first steak post, you probably remember that I am somewhat steak illiterate. (I know that we either order prime rib with aus juice or filet mignon with a red wine reduction that we split when we go to expensive restaurants–but to go buy steak at a meat counter, I am clueless!) So….I trust her advice to only use expensive cuts of meat with this recipe. I used sirloin. I know that it doesn’t have the cooking-in-juices-time that we have with beef stew or my old cubed steak types of recipes, so no cheap cuts without those slow cooking times.)

 

8) For a more colorful/more nutrient dense recipe, use half potatoes and half baby carrots sliced longways (and precooked!).

 

9) I added my amazing Homestyle Skillet Green Beans to this meal, and it was perfect.

 

10) And a low carb tip: I can’t imagine using cauliflower in this; however, we’ve never thought it was a great sub for potatoes in general. (As my hubby says, “Just make cauliflower like cauliflower. It’s not a potato!” lol) I wouldn’t hesitate to use radishes or turnips in this though. As a matter of fact, with the garlic butter, seasonings, and cheese, your dinner companions probably won’t know they aren’t eating potatoes. (Check out my potato substitute test here!) Don’t skimp on the pre-cooking of radishes and turnips. They are even harder to get cooked through than potatoes!

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!


Steak and Potato Foil Packets (Low Carb Options Included!)
Author: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • For garlic butter:
  • ⅔ cup soft butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • For The Steak:
  • 2 pounds eye fillet, ribeye, porterhouse, or sirloin steak
  • All Purpose Seasoning Mix OR salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • When Adding Potatoes:
  • 2 pounds potatoes--baby Yukon, small red, or fingerlings, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup onion diced
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • Later:
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese shredded**
  • For serving:
  • ⅓ cup diced cooked bacon
  • ⅓ cup green onions/shallots
Instructions
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Pre-cook potatoes in boiling broth or microwave (with small amount of broth) until nearly done. (You can skip this step if you want well done steaks and/or you cut your potatoes super small.) Drain potatoes thoroughly when finished precooking.
  3. Combine butter with garlic (first two ingredients, whisking well)
  4. Slice steak into pieces according to your preference of doneness.
  5. Well done: Slice into 2 x 2 inch pieces for a 1 inch thick steak
  6. Medium rare: Cut into 4 inch long and 3 inch thick pieces (the bigger the pieces, the more rare)
  7. Tear six 15-inch pieces of heavy duty foil and lay out on counter.
  8. Divide steaks and potatoes among the top half of the foil sheets. Dollop the garlic butter over steaks and potatoes.
  9. Sprinkle with parsley and diced onion. Season with All Purpose Seasoning Mix and pepper OR salt and pepper.
  10. Fold up the sides of the foil first over the steak and potatoes. Next, fold up the entire bottom half of the foil over the ingredients to join the ends.Finally, seal all sides, pressing the seal tightly to prevent any juices from spilling out.
  11. Grill: Place foil packets on the hot grill, cover and cook for 7 minutes on one side. Flip and cook on the other side for a further 5 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through, (about 12 minutes all together).
  12. Bake: Preheat oven to 435°F. Place prepared packs on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with sides and bake for 10-15 minutes convection; bake for 20-25 minutes regular. Turn packs over and cook for another 5-10 minutes convection; bake for 10-15 minutes regular oven. May also open and broil for a couple of minutes at the end for a more char-broiled taste (before adding cheese in next step).
  13. Carefully open the packets (be careful of the escaping steam). Sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes, and loosely tent with the foil again to allow the cheese to melt through for another 3 minutes on grill or in oven.
  14. Top the potatoes with the cooked bacon, garnish with the scallions (or green onions), and season with a little extra salt and pepper, if needed.

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Tuna Potato Chip Casserole (Low Carb Options)

 

In cleaning out my pantries and freezers for my Eight Week Grocery Fast, I went old school to use up some tuna, peas, and cream soup. This was one of my family meals growing up. I don’t remember a lot of what my mom cooked when I was very young. I do remember roast, potatoes, and carrots; cubed steak with brown gravy and mashed potatoes; spaghetti and meat sauce; salmon patties and mac and cheese; hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill; and this tuna casserole. If you’ve been reading the blog for long, you know that I am super picky. (So this is a good place to hang out if you want to cook things in a healthier way that your ten year old will like!) Tuna casserole with canned soup and potato chips might not seem like the healthiest entree’, but let me walk you through some ideas to make it healthier and/or lower in carbs. Or make it as is and be happy that everybody in your family is eating tuna! Sometimes you take whatever you can get. (It really is a tasty casserole!)

I often make cream soups (or use one of the low carb sub ideas given below), but this casserole wouldn’t be the same as Mom’s without the canned mushroom soup and chips, so I used Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup for this–and it tasted just like my mom’s used to taste when I was a little girl! (I did use a combination of baked potato chips and low carb tortilla shells that I had crisped and stored in my freezer.)

 

Healthier Options

  • I had a zipper bag in my freezer where I had been saving little crumbs of low carb tortilla shells that I had crisped and used as chips/crackers and the bottoms of bags of baked potato chips. (I love to save these things for breading {see my Healthy Breading Mix} or toppings.) So….if you would rather not have your kids eat fattening potato chips in your family casserole, baked potato chips will work just as well.
  • You could use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables to give it some variety in veggies, but to be honest, I prefer it made without any veggies in it and just serve the veggies on the side.
  • I am working on a post about ways to make cream soups healthier/homemade as I have made them off and on for over twenty-five years, but in the meantime, here are some potential substitutions for the canned soup that will be less carby:

1) Whipped cream cheese mixed with a small amount of chicken base/hot water (for cream of chicken sub) or beef base/hot water (for cream of mushroom sub). Obviously, you could also add shredded chicken (cream of chicken), cooked celery (cream of celery), mushroom pieces (cream of mushroom), etc.

2) Sour cream and whipped cream cheese combined with add ins as described in (1) above

3) Alfredo sauce—while thinner than cream soups, I often use a lower carb Alfredo sauce for soup substitute/to make something go further, to add moisture without making something too soupy/broth like, etc. This makes a great low carb soup sub!

4) Half broth/half whipping cream thickened with xantham gum (See 17 Ways to Thicken With Fewer Carbs here.)

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!


Tuna Potato Chip Casserole (Low Carb Options)
Author: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can (1¼ cup) cream of mushroom soup
  • ¼-1/2 cup of unflavored, unsweetened almond milk (or any milk)
  • 1 (7 oz) can (1 cup) tuna, drained and coarsely flaked
  • 1¼ cups crushed potato chips (see low carb ideas)--I use baked potato chips and a low carb option combined
  • 1 cup cooked green peas, drained (see low carb options also)
Instructions
  1. Combine soup and milk thoroughly.
  2. Add drained tuna, 1 cup potato chips, and drained peas.
  3. Stir and fold into casserole dish.
  4. Sprinkle top of casserole with remaining potato chips.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees convection for 15-20 minutes (uncovered) or regular oven 20-25 minutes--until bubbly and browned on top.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 174 Fat: 7 Carbohydrates: 12 Sugar: 3 Protein: 13

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Mixed Pork Gravy (Low Carb & Healthy Options)

 

If you’ve been following my Grocery Fast, you know that I have been trying for eight weeks to not spend much money at the grocery store but instead use up my many food stores in my pantries, cupboards, freezers, and refrigerators. (And then I’m hoping to learn to shop and cook for two of us—wish me luck!) I found a few bags of “pork” (mostly turkey products) in my freezer that I couldn’t see using as main entrees since there were bits and pieces. But with my quest to really use up all of these “bits and pieces,” my mind went crazy trying to figure out how to make a meal (another benchmark is that I am making MEALS out of what I have, not just side dishes or “add ons” to meals) out of this combination. I had been so hungry for biscuits and gravy, but with our OMAD (One Meal a Day)/Daily Intermittent Fasting), I can’t fit all the meals in that I am hungry for. (IF problems!) So I set out to make “Mixed ‘Pork’ Gravy” with these little bags of frozen meats.

 

I will give you the verdict before the instructions. I liked it a lot. Satisfied my “biscuits and gravy” craving (even though I had it over low carb toast), and I even enjoyed leftovers as a snack to open my eating window throughout the next week. (It takes soooo long to use up food with only one meal a day and two people!) However, my husband didn’t like it very well. He has been getting pickier (again, probably the OMAD thing!) as he gets older because he used to like anything and everything. I also wanted to say, “There’s no reason not to like that….you order all of those meats on pizza and love it!” But I didn’t.

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

So here are some tips before I loosely give you the “recipe” for the gravy.

(I didn’t measure anything….I never do with any kind of gravy, so those recipes are hard to share on a blog!):

 

1)  I like a lot of meat in my gravy. However, this can be made with very little amounts of “bits and pieces” if you don’t mind being “lean” on the meats. Mine was loaded with meats as you can see in the skillet before I added the almond milk and cream.

 

Here are my “bits and pieces” of “pork”—bacon bits, thick ham slice, turkey sausage links, and turkey sausage rounds.

 

2) Any milks or creams will do (as long as they are not sweet). The more “creamy” your milks (i.e. whipping cream rather than milk, etc.), the more fattening your dish will be—but it will probably be yummier too! ? You will also need less thickener if you use cream.

 

3)  I use bases extensively to cook with. I know they’re not considered “health foods,” but they add so much flavor without added calories, fat, or carbs. I even stir fry meats and vegetables in a little base and water, red wine, aminos (or soy sauce), and seasonings. However, all bases (chicken, beef, ham/pork/smoke house, and vegetable) are salty. Therefore, do not add salt until you are ready to taste at the end. (I also “enrich” the flavors of broth and bone broth with added base.)

 

4) All of my meats were precooked. If you are using any of these meats in their raw state, you could keep some of the grease in your pan, make a roux with sprouted white flour, and add even more flavor (and not have to thicken as much at the end).

 

Since my meats were already cooked, I just defrosted them, added them to my skillet, and heated them before adding my liquids and seasoning.

 

 

5) I thickened my gravy with xantham gum and stirred into some of the liquid from the pan because I didn’t have any corn starch, and I wanted to do a little more “gravy and soup thickening test” with xantham gum for another article I recently wrote. Next time I would use corn starch mixed in cold water. (See next tip.)

 

6) As for “healthier” or low carb thickeners, I recently wrote an article about seventeen of them. Check it out here. I use xantham gum in stews and soups and even in my Very Low Carb Flour Mix to help bind things, but gravies are tricky to get the right consistency without changing the flavor. I would use corn starch and cold water for gravy personally. (The article gives the carb count and how many carbs per serving you would add to a dish if using corn starch to thicken.) Here are my thoughts for this recipe:

a. Adding cream cheese would add a boatload of calories and fat to the gravy before it got it to gravy consistency. If you are truly keto/LCHF and not concerned about fat and calories, you could start with some loose cream cheese then move on to something stronger.

b. Xantham gum did not give it the texture of gravy. It helped thicken it some, but it definitely wasn’t “normal” sausage gravy thick. Go slowly on the xantham gum, following the instructions in my Thickening article.

c. Corn starch has the next to the strongest thickening power out there (next to arrowroot). It simply doesn’t take very much to do the job—and would not add very many carbs per serving. I believe it makes the best gravy.

 

I used what I had on hand for liquids—a little whipping cream and unflavored, unsweetened almond milk.

 

 

7) I served mine over low carb toast. (Anybody else use their Air Fryer for toast? One less appliance that I have to have out on the counter!) You could also make my delicious low carb biscuits to go with these. (And then make my amazing crock pot apple butter to have on a biscuit for dessert!)

 

The finished product wasn’t overly thick—I would use cornstarch and water next time. (See Tips before recipe.)

 


Mixed Pork Gravy (Low Carb & Healthy Options)
Author: 
Serves: Serves several
 
Nutritional Count Based on Your Amounts (almond milk & cream are extremely low carb as are meats)
Ingredients
  • Mixed meats (sausage links, kielbasa, ground sausage, bacon, ham)
  • Milks of your choice (choose your favorite—almond milk, milk, half & half, cream, etc.)
  • Pork/Ham/Smokehouse Base
  • Seasoning of your choice—preferably salt free (I use my Favorite Seasoning Mix)
  • Corn starch or other thickener
Instructions
  1. Cook meats if they are not precooked.
  2. Cut meats into tiny pieces. (I used kitchen shears for this.)
  3. If desired, use some grease from the meat to make a flour and grease roux before adding liquid.
  4. If not making roux, be sure meat is hot and add it to the pan.
  5. Pour in milks of your choice and heat thoroughly. I also add some base mixed in a little bit of the liquid, seasonings, etc.
  6. Heat all til boiling and thicken with corn starch and cold water whisked together or xantham gum (or other thickening choice).
  7. Serve over toast or biscuits.

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17 Ways to Thicken With Fewer Carbs (Soups, Stews, Gravies, and More!)

 

When I began cooking and baking low carb, I knew that I didn’t want to add 50 carbs to a gravy or soup by using 1/2 cup of white flour to make a roux and thicken soups, stews, and gravies. So I began experimenting with various thickening agents. Since I have some upcoming gravy and cream soup recipes, I thought this would be a good time to share some of my findings with readers. You don’t have to eat specifically low carb to benefit from these tips. They are good ones for any health-conscious cook. So….if you would like to get some new tricks for thickening in less starchy/less carby ways, read on!

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Air Fried (Low Carb) Chicken Drumsticks (or Tenders!)

 

Two of the most common praises you hear for the air fryer are chicken (tenders, nuggets, wings, thighs, breasts–you name it!) and French fries (or potato wedges–really any “fried” potato)–and with good reason! These two, formerly-forbidden-to-many, “fried” foods are absolutely amazing in the air fryer. I love popping French fries, mozzarella sticks, and chicken tenders in my fryer for my sons when they stop by–yes, all “premade” and found in the freezer section of the grocery! See my original Air Fryer Tips and Croutons here!

 

However, I prefer to cook more healthfully for Hubby and me–and that doesn’t include frozen appetizers as our regular fare. If you’ve read this blog long, you know that I love creating low carb recipes out of formerly-high-carb-original recipes and ideas. I do this in this recipe with my Low Carb Breading Mix (which doesn’t have to be low carb–the teacher in me loves giving options and alternatives for families–so check out this convenient breading mix!).

 

Soak in buttermilk for 30 minutes to several hours. May also use half and half or cream with a tablespoon of vinegar to “make” buttermilk.

 

 

With this Breading Mix, you can alter it however–or use all panko and seasoning mix for a quick, family-friendly breading. You can do as the recipe below suggests–and use it with a simple buttermilk marinade or double or triple dip in eggs and breading for a thicker coating that stays put. (One beauty of the air fryer is that the breading does stay on things well since they’re not floating around, dropping off pieces of breading.)

 

Place them in air fryer one level deep. Do not overlap or layer.

 

 

This recipe is a lightly-breaded chicken, which we like. Feel free to double dip!

 

(Also note that the more low carb ingredients you use, such as Parmesan and ground pork rinds, the less “crusty” your chicken will be. It’s the flour, panko, bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, etc., that make crispier, crustier outsides!)

 

Check for doneness with a meat thermometer pushed into two pieces of chicken.

 

 

Use a meat thermometer! I am a fanatic about meat thermometers. So much so that I usually put one or two in our Plastic Wrap Gift Ball that we do with our grown kids every year. I figure you can never have too many meat thermometers. (Plus, I’m hoping that one of them will actually start using it!)

 

Below are links to the ingredients and items I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

 

Put crumbs in shallow dish a half a cup at a time, so you don’t waste any—and crumbs will not get so gunky from the buttermilk.

 

 

You can’t be too careful with the doneness of chicken. Period. So here are my meat thermometer tips for this recipe:

 

1) When you think your chicken is done, don’t trust the “look” or “feel” of it. Use the thermometer!

 

2) Put a little temperature chart on your fridge or inside one of your cabinets to refer to. (I have a meat thermometer that is not digital but tells the range of the temperature (i.e. rare beef, well done beef, etc.). While I like having the easy reference, I think a digital one would be better–I can always check a chart quickly if I forgot the range for a certain doneness.)

 

Check out this handy chart from Campfire Chili:

 

 

3) When testing for doneness of small pieces or thinner pieces of meat, follow these steps:

a. Place two pieces on top of each other. (One thin piece of meat may not give you an accurate reading.)
b. Place the meat thermometer in the flesh of the meat through both pieces.
c. Do not put the thermometer against the bone.
d. Stop the thermometer before it goes all the way through the meat. You want the temperature of the meat–not the bottom of the fryer basket. This will give a false reading.

 

 

Perfect chicken drumsticks! Light but super tasty breading!

 

 

So this recipe/process can be used with nuggets or tenders (skinless, boneless) as well. Here’s how:

 

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders or Nuggets

Follow recipe as given below using 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders or nuggets instead of drumsticks. Cook for 12-18 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn gently half-way through.

 

And….you can also “oven fry” this in an oven–though you might want to brush on some extra butter mid-way through to help with the crispiness.

 

Final note: If you are seriously trying to perfect your breading and air frying techniques, consider getting silicone or rubber tipped tongs. They are way gentler on breaded foods, and the breading truly does stay on better than with metal ones. Regardless, be gentle in the transferring and turning if you want to preserve your breading!

 


Air Fried (Low Carb) Chicken Drumsticks (or Tenders!)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 6 chicken drumsticks (1 to 1½ lbs)
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or half n half or cream mixed with 1 TBSP vinegar)
  • 1 cup Breading Mix* {or ½ cup Breading Mix and ½ cup grated Parmesan}* (or half panko and half flour)
  • 3 TBSP butter, ghee, or oil
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken drumsticks with the skin on in a plastic bag and pour the buttermilk into the bag. Let marinate in the refrigerator for between 30 minutes and several hours.
  2. Place Breading Mix in shallow pan, such as a pie pan.
  3. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, shake off excess buttermilk, and dredge the drumsticks in the Breading Mix to coat on all sides. (Double-dredge if you like a medium amount of coating.)
  4. Put the chicken drumsticks in the Air Fryer basket and air fry for 10 minutes.
  5. Pause the Air Fryer and brush drumsticks with melted butter on both sides.
  6. Turn the chicken over, lower the temperature to 300°F (150°C) and air fry for 10-15 more minutes or until internal temperature reads 165°F (79°C).
  7. Remove from Air Fryer and let the drumsticks rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  8. To bake: Bake in cookie sheet with sides, lined with parchment, uncovered at 350' for 45-55 minutes convection; 55-65 minutes regular.
Notes
*See original Breading Mix recipe; if trying to go super low carb, you might want to do half Breading Mix and half grated Parmesan.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 422 Fat: 23 Carbohydrates: 16 Sugar: 1 Protein: 37

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Succulent, Pan-Fried Steak (SIMPLE 4-8 Minute Instructions!)

 

We went on a grocery fast of $25 per week–so we had to start eating steak every week…..let me explain! The reason for the grocery fast was to try to empty our freezers, refrigerators, cupboards, and pantry of the excess food we had accumulated from gradually becoming empty nesters, but not really knowing how to shop, cook, or live like empty nesters! Part of this process includes using up five years worth of Omaha Steaks that were gifted to our business.

 

 

True confession: We have seldom ever cooked steaks. Sure, we made hamburger steaks, Swiss steak, chopped steak smothered with veggies, meatloaf steak, “poor man’s steak” (out of hamburger), and even ham steak. But with seven children on one income for over twenty-five years, meat was more of a “condiment”—in casseroles, soups, stews, and other combination dishes–than it was a “per person” type of meal element.

 

So when we began getting these steaks a couple of times a year as gifts, we just tucked them into the bottom of the deep freeze. We didn’t want to ruin them, and we honestly didn’t know how to cook them properly. (Plus, we still had hungry teen boys at home, and they were really servings for two people.) But when our grocery fast began, we pulled them out and vowed to use them up. (I know–kind of oxymoronic–someone who is spending $25 a week for groceries but eating steaks every week!)

 

 

So I started asking around and looking on YouTube. I found this video by someone that everyone in my FB thread seemed to know but me. (I don’t want much television outside of my few shows on Hulu or Netflix, and I never watch talk shows, reality shows, cooking shows, etc.) Anyway, he is kind of a big deal, I guess….and this video helped me cook my first ever pan-fried steak absolutely perfectly! We seriously felt like we were in a restaurant. (We always order filet mignon in good restaurants!) This two minute video made me feel like a steak-cooking-expert! (As a matter of fact, I didn’t even take pictures during the process as I was sure I would have to try over and over again before I was ready to share it on the blog!)

 

 

(Be sure you watch the video as he explains how to tell the doneness of steak with your wrist–something super important for those of us who like medium rare steaks!)

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!


Succulent, Pan-Fried Steak (SIMPLE 4-8 Minute Instructions!)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. ) Lay the steaks out on the counter to warm for at least 20 minutes ahead of time. If the steak is super cold inside, the outside will overcook before the inside is done.
  2. ) Season both sides of steak liberally with All Purpose Seasoning Mix and pepper or just salt and pepper. (I use my Seasoning Mix for everything!) Push the seasonings into the meat with your fingers.
  3. ) Pour olive oil into your pan to cover the bottom and turn the heat on high. You need the skillet to be super hot so that it sears the meat--and doesn't boil the meat.
  4. ) When skillet is hot, add steaks to the pan. It should sizzle!
  5. ) Sear on high heat on the first side for one minute. Turn over and sear on second side for another minute.
  6. ) Tilt the pan and place steaks on their sides up against the side of the pan, in the hot oil and still on high heat, to sear the fat on the sides of the steak. Do this for approximately one minute also.
  7. ) Lay the steaks back into the pan and sprinkle with crushed, fresh garlic and fresh thyme. Continue cooking and turning for one minute per side.
  8. ) During this last cooking process, toss a "knob" of butter onto the steaks and continue cooking. Turning them every minute will ensure that they cook evenly.
  9. ) Continue cooking until steaks reach your desired doneness, basting with the garlic/butter/thyme/fat/olive oil from the pan.
  10. ) Remove from pan and let rest on plate or cutting board for five minutes to seal in the juices.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 steak Calories: 550 Fat: 47 Carbohydrates: 1 Sugar: 0 Protein: 30

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3 Favorite Green Bean Recipes

 

Okay…I admit it….I am obsessed with green beans. If you knew how I used to eat a couple of years ago (before Plexus), you would understand why. I had been trying to “keto” for a few years (and actually even a moderate carb average of 100 per day healed my pre-diabetes), so I would “keto” during the week then go crazy on weekends eating as many carbs and as much sugar as I could. I would only eat fruits and vegetables if I absolutely needed them to stay on my low carb plan (and ONLY during the week). So the fact that I now crave green beans and Romaine lettuce, even if they are a couple of the only green veggies I like, is a pretty big deal. I seriously eat Romaine lettuce and green beans at least five times a week (and for someone who only eats one meal a day (OMAD–Daily Intermittent Fasting), that means that I eat lettuce and green beans 5/7 of the time I eat a meal (and sometimes I eat them for my snack/opening my eating window too!). (Learn more about opening an eating window in Episode 7 of The Daily IF Journal podcast)

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Creamiest Potato Casserole (Freezer & Low Carb Options)

 

I have been a “freezer cook” or “mega cook for over twenty-five years. Throughout this time, I have done everything as small as making two casseroles and freezing one for later all the way to mega cooking enough meatloaves for six months–and so many things in between! I share some of these on my blog (see Crunchy Ranch Chicken), and as I add tweaks and suggestions to make them healthier, I will continue to do so. You do not have to be interested in freezer cooking specifically to enjoy these recipes. For example, the one I share below is one that we did in bulk for a luncheon that fed over one hundred and one that a friend used for our daughter’s rehearsal dinner–and I have served it at graduation parties with well over 150 guests! Bulk cooking, mega cooking, freezer cooking—they are ways to help others in need, ways to bless others who are not trained or experienced in an area that you are experienced in. We have found cooking to truly be a way to help others and serve others!

 

 

This recipe was one of my first freezer recipes over two decades ago. It is so simple, freezes beautifully for bulk cooking, and everybody loves it. It is not very sour-creamy-tasting like many others, so children love it too. It uses convenient frozen hash browns, but you can definitely use real ones instead. It is given here to feed twelve, twenty-four, and thirty-six (single, doubled, and tripled).

 

Oh…and a note about the cottage cheese. Trust me! You can’t taste it AT ALL. I despise cottage cheese. I despise it so much that I actually wrote a Dr. Seuss spin-off about how badly I dislike it:

I will not eat that cottage cheese.
I will not eat it in the trees.
I will not eat it in my car.
I will not eat it near or far.
I will not eat that cottage cheese.
You can’t make me–don’t say please.

 

Yeah…that’s some serious cottage cheese hatred there!

 

Suffice it to say, I would never eat something that tastes cottage-cheesey!

 

I mentioned that it doesn’t taste sour-creamy either. This is just a perfect potato casserole to me. Creamy, cheesy, easy, and delicious. As is. With the store bought items and frozen potatoes.

 

However, this potato dish has another secret to it–you can make it low carb and absolutely NOBODY would guess it didn’t contain potatoes. SERIOUSLY! There are enough wonderful flavors in this that the power of dilution works to mask the flavor of the potato substitute. (See Low Carb Variation below!) You’ll want to check out my 6 Tests for Potato Substitutes also–though you can see below that I recommend turnips for this dish. Radishes would also work well and would likely “fake” your testers! 🙂

 

Here are some variations or tips for different kinds of cooks and eaters:

 

 

Family/Group Cooking

+No changes are needed! This is simple to put together for large amounts!

 

+Be sure it is frozen flat. If it is tilted even a little, the cream can run out and make a huge mess! (Once it is frozen, you can stack them easily….don’t stack them until they are frozen solid!)

 

+Allow sitting time once it is removed from the oven. It helps it set up better.

 

+If using real potatoes, I recommend that you bake or boil them, then when they are cooled just enough to handle, shred them and fold continue as directed. (Note that you can also cube them in tiny cubes, but I prefer shredded for this recipe.)

 

+I use foil pans with lids from the wholesale club for freezer entrees as they are super deep

 

+If baking more than one at a time or baking with other oven dishes, you will need to increase the time quite a bit.

 

+I have made this into a one-dish casserole by folding in ham cubes or cooked meatballs during the last 30 minutes! Just add salad or a non-starchy veggie or two!

 

 

Low Carb Options

+Turnips that are cooked and shredded for this recipe will be indistinguishable. With all the cheesy goodness, nobody will know that they are not potatoes. (Don’t tell them!)

 

+May also use radishes prepared the same way as turnips. They are small and time consuming to prepare, but the taste will be good with the other ingredients. Daikon radishes are larger and may be eaiser to work with. Some low carbers swear by daikon radishes as potato subs!.

 

+I recommend the shredding option for low carb substitutes. The cheese and other flavors spread out well among the shreds, even moreso than cubed.

 

+Low carb potato substitutions (see article above) can be firm and hard to handle. I recommend that you clean and peel as needed and microwave, bake, or boil then when cool enough to handle, shred them. Shredding uncooked turnips or radishes can be challenging (unless you have a great processor with a shredder attachment).

 

+If you want this dish to be super low carb, you could substitute half cream and half unflavored almond milk for the half and half. This will be lower carb than half and half alone (though not significantly lower).

 

+See REAL FOOD options for cheese subs.

 

 

Real Food Options

+As suggested in the Low Carb Options, you can definitely use real potatoes for this rather than frozen hash browns. If using real potatoes, I recommend that you bake or boil them, then when they are cooled just enough to handle, shred them and fold continue as directed. (Note that you can also cube them in tiny cubes, but I prefer shredded for this recipe.)

 

+In place of the Velveeta, you can use other softer, easily-meltable cheese, such as farmer’s cheese, goat cheese, unprocessed American, etc.

 

+This has a lot of real foods in it if you can handle dairy–can use real potatoes, half and half, cheese, cottage cheese—no canned soups or seasoning packet, etc. Can easily be made into a real foods dish!

 

+For even more nutrition, try a combination of red and Yukon gold potatoes and carrots–all shredded and precooked.

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

 

 

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Best, Creamiest Potato Casserole (12 Servings)
Author: 
Serves: 12 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 -32 oz bag hash browns, cubed or shredded, frozen
  • ½ cup butter ½ cup = 1 stick
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 pound Velveeta Cheese (may use another ¼ lb)
  • 1 - 24 oz cottage cheese (small curd; may use 4-6 oz more)
Instructions
  1. Pour hash browns in very deep, greased, 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. Melt butter, half and half, and Velveeta in micro or on stove top.
  3. Dissolve cottage cheese in hot mixture until heated through some.
  4. Pour over hash browns.
  5. Let sit at least one hour or overnight in fridge if using immediately and
  6. follow baking instr below.
  7. Freeze covered tightly with foil and label as shown below.
  8. Label: Date/Cheesy Potato Casserole/Thaw. Bake uncovered for one to ½ hours at 350 convection or 1½-1¾ regular. Stir every 30 minutes or so. (Not cooked yet.)
  9. Note: Freeze unstacked until thoroughly frozen.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 353 Fat: 23 Carbohydrates: 20 Sugar: 6 Protein: 16

 

 

 

Best, Creamiest Potato Casserole (24 Servings)
Author: 
Serves: 24 servings
 
(Doubled)
Ingredients
  • 2 -32 oz bags hash browns, cubed or shredded, frozen
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 2 pounds Velveeta Cheese, may use another ½ lb
  • 2 - 24 oz containers cottage cheese; small curd; may use 6-8 oz more)
Instructions
  1. Pour hash browns in two deep, greased, 9 x 13 baking dishes.
  2. Melt butter, half and half, and Velveeta in micro or on stove top.
  3. Dissolve cottage cheese in hot mixture until heated through some.
  4. Pour over hash browns.
  5. Let sit at least one hour or overnight in fridge if using immediately and
  6. follow baking instr below.
  7. Freeze covered tightly with foil and label as shown below.
  8. Label: Date/Cheesy Potato Casserole/Thaw. Bake uncovered for one to ½ hours at 350 convection or 1½-1¾ regular.Stir every 30 minutes or so. (Not cooked yet.)
  9. Note: Freeze unstacked until thoroughly frozen.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 353 Fat: 23 Carbohydrates: 20 Sugar: 6 Protein: 16

 

 

Best, Creamiest Potato Casserole (36 Servings)
Author: 
Serves: 36 servings
 
(Tripled)
Ingredients
  • 3 - 32 oz bags hash browns, cubed or shredded, frozen
  • 1½ cup butter (3 sticks)
  • 6 cups half and half
  • 3 Pound Velveeta Cheese (may use another pound)
  • 3 - 24 oz containers cottage cheese (small curd; may use 10-12 ounces more)
Instructions
  1. Pour hash browns in three deep, greased, 9 x 13 baking dishes.
  2. Melt butter, half and half, and Velveeta in micro or on stove top.
  3. Dissolve cottage cheese in hot mixture until heated through some.
  4. Pour over hash browns.
  5. Let sit at least one hour or overnight in fridge if using immediately and
  6. follow baking instr below.
  7. Freeze covered tightly with foil and label as shown below.
  8. Label: Date/Cheesy Potato Casserole/Thaw. Bake uncovered for one to ½ hours at 350 convection or 1½-1¾ regular. Stir every 30 minutes or so. (Not cooked yet.)
  9. Note: Freeze unstacked until thoroughly frozen.
  10. P.S. What are your favorite potato casseroles? Do you make any in the crock pot or Instant Pot? Is your family Team Sour Cream or no?
Nutrition Information
Calories: 353 Fat: 23 Carbohydrates: 20 Sugar: 6 Protein: 16

 

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Hot Hamaramas/Hawaiian Sliders (With Low Carb Options!)

 

 

One of the beauties of creating something low carb that is as versatile as Low Carb Sprouted Crescent Dough (and the recent recipe post, Low Carb Sprouted Dinner Rolls) is being able to make so many formerly-high-carb foods into low carb foods. Once I got onto low carb bread making, dough, biscuits, crackers, Cream Cheese Dessert Base, candy, and so much more, I could look at a recipe that was previously off limits in low carb eating–and transform it into something low to moderate in carbs! Such was the case with our family’s long time favorite, Hot Hamaramas. (I have since found that they are called Hawaiian Sliders, ham and cheese sliders, baked ham sandwiches, and more. I have made these two two decades and always called them Hamaramas from a restaurant in my childhood hometown.)

 

These little sandwiches are perfect for low carbers and those desiring “real foods” ingredient-wise–until you get to the “sandwich” part, lol. They really aren’t the same with almond-flour biscuits or Oopsie Rolls. (Though I do recommend you make ham and cheese sandwiches and bacon-egg-cheese sandwiches on the Oopsie Rolls….they really are delicious!)

 

And these “sandwiches” definitely aren’t the same without any bread at all. So…enter low carb yeast breads (homemade or store bought).

 

 

I forgot to take a picture of my healthy dinner rolls the last time I made them, so here’s what the jelly roll pan looks like with the traditional rolls used.

 

 

Here are some tips for modifying these Hot Hamaramas / Hawaiian Sliderss for different types of cooks and eaters:

 

Family-Friendly

  • If your kids are not mustard fans, even my revised-less-mustard amount might be too much. One of our grown kids leaves out the mustard entirely when she makes this.
  • My guys like more meat and cheese than the recipe calls for!
  • I reduced the sauce in this recipe over the years from my original since I kept throwing half of it out. Even with the amount in the recipe as given, I don’t use all the sauce.

 

Real Foods

  • Make your low carb bread from my recipe or get your favorite healthy buns for this recipe.
  • If you want more real, yet still meltable cheese, you might try a combination of mozarella and farmers’ cheese or a softer goat cheese.

 

Low Carb

  • The meat, cheese, and sauce are all low carb, so no revisions needed there!
  • You can make these for 6 to 7 carbs per roll by using my Low Carb Sprouted Wheat Rolls OR purchase low carb hot dog buns and cut them in half to make two sandwiches out of each bun. These are pretty good “rectangular” slider buns that will still be low carb.

 

Traditional

  • These are perfect appetizer sandwiches, grad party and shower treats, brunch sandwiches, and more. I have served them at three of our four graduation parties, and people LOVE them—with the King’s Hawaiian Rolls, of course! 🙂
  • They are super fast to make in bulk. You can even make multiple pans of these without the sauce and cover them with foil and stick in fridge. Make your sauce and put in storage container. At serving time, just stir your sauce, brush it on, and pop in the oven.

 

 

P.S. Let me know how you made these–healthy for regular fare or with those amazing sweet Hawaiian rolls for a special occasion. And how your people enjoyed them! I am making them for our family’s Christmas Eve this year!

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in the recipe above. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

Hot Hamaramas/Hawaiian Sliders (With Low Carb Options!)
Author: 
Serves: 36 sandwiches
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place parchment in huge jelly roll pan (or two large baking pans with sides).
  2. Slice the top of each roll and place each bottom in the jelly roll/baking pan.
  3. Layer the ham and cheese on each roll.
  4. Replace the tops of each roll.
  5. Combine the butter, poppy seeds, mustard, Worcestershire, and onion powder; mix well.
  6. Brush the sauce over the tops of the rolls.
  7. Cover the entire pan with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until the cheese melts.
  8. Uncover the pan and cook for 2 additional minutes. Serve warm.
Notes
Low Carb Version: With half a low carb hot dog bun or my low carb sprouted dinner roll, each hamarama should be approximately 8 net carbs. Nutritional information is given with the recipe using the store bought, White rolls.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 sandwich Calories: 191 Fat: 8 Carbohydrates: 18 Sugar: 6 Protein: 15

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Crock Pot Sausage, “Potatoes,” and Beans (With Family Friendly and Low Carb Options!)

 

Easy peasy crock pot meal today!!! With low carb and family-friendly options! I have this thing about crock pot meals (besides loving how easy they are!). I first look at every crock pot recipe and see how much “precooking” I will need to do. For example, I don’t mind tossing some potatoes (or turnips!) and carrots in the micro or Instant Pot to precook them before adding to the crock pot, but when a meat needs precooked (like ground beef for chili or pasta casseroles), I think “there has to be an easier way than all that precooking before I ever assemble the actual dish!” I think this goes back to the days of precooking 20 pounds of ground beef for freezer entrees when we still had all seven kids at home. (That much precooking will do it to you!)

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Crunchy Ranch Chicken Breasts (Single Meal & Freezer Meal Instructions!)

 

In my more “family style” cooking days, I had a LARGE repertoire of recipes. Now that I look back, I realize it was too large for our size of family (nine total) and for my time constraints (managing and homeschooling a large family didn’t leave a lot of time for the level of kitchen experimentation I did—and this often left me frustrated). Fast forward to my tweaking of recipes to make them more healthful, and I have some of the same problems—too much experimenting, too many recipes, and on and on! (Doesn’t look like I have learned much over the years!)

 

When I revisited this recipe to make it healthier, I thought of all of those things…then dug right in to it to tweak it! ? This is one of my freezer entrees. This means that you get the original recipe to feed six….then the doubled version and quadrupled version for your freezer.

 

There are many breading options that are healthier than straight up cornbread mix, biscuit mix, or panko crumbs. I am in the final stages of experimenting with one that uses a combination of Parmesan cheese, crushed pork rinds, and one of my flour mixes. If you don’t mind a small box of corn bread mix spread out over six servings and the convenience is more important to you than the carb count (or “realness” of a portion of your recipe), then go for it. If you use your own breading mix, you’ll want to add corn meal and sweetener to it as a substitute for corn bread mix.

 

These are amazing fresh and pretty good out of the freezer. They are a convenient, yummy chicken breast that can be on the table quickly from your freezer to your oven.

 

Be sure you indicate on your freezer bag the state your meats are in. With many cooks in my kitchen throughout my kids’ high school days, I got into the habit of always writing RAW, FULLY COOKED, or PARTIALLY COOKED on my freezer bags. This is especially important if you sometimes freeze things raw and sometimes precook then freeze. This is often the case with my chicken breasts, meatballs, and meatloaves.

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in the recipe above. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

 

Crunchy Ranch Chicken Breasts (Serves 6)
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
New Carbs: 20 grams
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine cornbread mix and salad dressing mix in a large plastic zipping
  2. bag; set aside.
  3. Pour milk into a shallow bowl. Dip chicken into milk.
  4. Place in cornbread mixture and shake to coat.
  5. Flash freeze on cookie sheets without letting them overlap until solidly frozen. (This is important—do not layer them in a foil pan, even with parchment between them. You will have a mess trying to separate them later!)
  6. Transfer to bags. (I like to put on paper plates and slide them into bags or put them in foil pans and cover/slide into large bags in order to keep coating on better.)
  7. Label and freeze. (I used to cook these then freeze them; the coating doesn’t seem to stay on as well, but that is more convenient when you need them.)
Nutrition Information
Calories: 265 Fat: 8 Carbohydrates: 20 Sugar: 6 Protein: 23

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Labels:

Crunchy Ranch Chicken DATE: RAW

Thaw them laid out separately. Heat oil and cook until golden on both sides 6-7 mins per side or until juices run clear. (May also spray with PAM or olive oil and bake until crispy and done.)

 

 

 

Crunchy Ranch Chicken Breasts (Serves 12)
Author: 
Serves: 12
 
Net Carbs: 20 grams
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine cornbread mix and salad dressing mix in a large plastic zipping
  2. bag; set aside.
  3. Pour milk into a shallow bowl. Dip chicken into milk.
  4. Place in cornbread mixture and shake to coat.
  5. Flash freeze on cookie sheets without letting them overlap until solidly frozen. (This is important—do not layer them in a foil pan, even with parchment between them. You will have a mess trying to separate them later!)
  6. Transfer to bags. (I like to put on paper plates and slide them into bags or put them in foil pans and cover/slide into large bags in order to keep coating on better.)
  7. Label and freeze. (I used to cook these then freeze them; the coating doesn’t seem to stay on as well, but that is more convenient when you need them.)
Nutrition Information
Calories: 265 Fat: 8 Carbohydrates: 20 Sugar: 6 Protein: 23

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Labels:

Crunchy Ranch Chicken: DATE RAW

Thaw them laid out separately. Heat oil and cook until golden on both sides 6-7 mins per side or until juices run clear. (May also spray with PAM or olive oil and bake until crispy and done.)

 

 

Crunchy Ranch Chicken Breasts (Serves 24)
Author: 
Serves: 24
 
Net Carbs: 20 grams
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine cornbread mix and salad dressing mix in a large plastic zipping
  2. bag; set aside.
  3. Pour milk into a shallow bowl. Dip chicken into milk.
  4. Place in cornbread mixture and shake to coat.
  5. Flash freeze on cookie sheets without letting them overlap until solidly frozen. (This is important—do not layer them in a foil pan, even with parchment between them. You will have a mess trying to separate them later!)
  6. Transfer to bags. (I like to put on paper plates and slide them into bags or put them in foil pans and cover/slide into large bags in order to keep coating on better.)
  7. Label and freeze. (I used to cook these then freeze them; the coating doesn’t seem to stay on as well, but that is more convenient when you need them.)
Nutrition Information
Calories: 265 Fat: 8 Carbohydrates: 20 Sugar: 6 Protein: 23

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Labels:

Crunchy Ranch Chicken: DATE RAW

Thaw them laid out separately. Heat oil and cook until golden on both sides 6-7 mins per side or until juices run clear. (May also spray with PAM or olive oil and bake until crispy and done.)


5 Kinds of Freezer Cooking

 

When a person asks me to help them get started in freezer cooking, I am always anxious to offer advice and help because I know how much it has helped me, blessed others, and nourished my family for the past twenty-six years.

 

As I stated earlier on the blog, my first piece of advice is to not make it bigger than it needs to be. Freezer cooking doesn’t have to be this all-encompassing way of life that is so huge you can’t bear to face cooking day. On the other hand, if you like to go big (which I always have!), then by all means, go big.

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Beefy Potato Rivels Soup (With Healthy and Low Carb Options!)

 

I recently re-created a recipe that I used to make many years ago when my olders were little, and we really liked it as it has shredded roast beef in it and isn’t tomato-based. It feels like many of my winter soups are more tomato-y. I forgot how easy it was—and how yummy it was.

When I shared it on FB, I got a lot of comments from people telling me they used to love rivels growing up, how their grandma made them, what they have had them in—and how to spell it. Turns out I wasn’t spelling it correctly (not good for Language Lady….I should have learned how to spell rivels after writing fifty thousand pages of curriculum!).

 

Still others had never heard of such a “dumpling” and wanted to know more about them. Upon closer study, I discovered that my tiny rivels in my soup were only one of many ways these are created. Some sites showed bowl-sized dumplings in which quite literally each bowl had one large rivel! Others described using them in veggie soup and even chili. I have had these tiny ones in “soup beans” before and so had many of my FB friends.

 

 

For clarity’s sake, here is how Wikipedia defines these homemade “pastas” called rivels:

 

“Rivels are an ingredient in some types of soup, often a chicken-based soup (archetypically chicken corn soup) or potato soup.Rivels are common in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. They are composed primarily of egg and wheat flour, which is cut together to create small dumpling-like pieces.”

 

 

The question on a more healthy-recipe blog is, “How healthy is this soup?” Here’s the run down for different types of readers of DR:

 

1) Family-friendly/homestyle cooks can make a homemade soup with typical ingredients on hand! That will be a win-win for many trying to feed families. The “combination food” aspect of it was one that I was always looking for when raising a large family. Using meat as more of a condiment or “side” as opposed to the main attraction reduces costs in feeding a crew.

 

2) Low carbers can easily use this recipe with turnips or radishes. (See more about that in my Hamburger Stew recipe.) And the rivels can be made with low carb flour mixes, including my Very Low Carb Flour Mix or my Low Carb Sprouted Flour Mix. (I prefer the latter for the puffy and chewy taste of the rivels.) With low carb veggies, low carb rivels, meat, and broth, this can be a low carb comfort food for sure.

 

3) Healthier options—making this with homemade bone broth and more veggies (I think shredded carrots would work well!) would deepen the nutritional value of this soup.

 

 

The picture above is Jakie cutting the rivels out of long, thin snakes of dough–with a pizza cutter. Then I just ran the pizza cutter over and through them all to cut them even smaller. It was much faster than the breaking off pieces.

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in the recipe above. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!


Beefy Potato Rivels Soup (With Healthy and Low Carb Options!)
 
Ingredients
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed small (like smaller than dice)
  • One small roast
  • Beef base
  • Minced onion
  • Pepper
  • Parlsey
  • Bay leaves
  • Rivels:
  • 1½ cup flour (any kind)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
Instructions
  1. Cook roast in crock pot overnight seasoned as you like your roast seasoned (or in oven cooking bag for three or four hours at 250 to 300 depending on roast size)–or you can use a can of beef (large).
  2. Put water on to boil (10 to 12 cups?).
  3. Mix up rivels while water is coming to a boil by doing the following:
  4. a. Stir together flour, salt, and baking powder
  5. b. Cut in egg.
  6. c. Cut in ice water as needed to form dough that’s manageable. (I just did all of this with two forks in a huge cereal bowl…)
  7. d. Pat dough out until it’s really flat and break off or cut off little tiny pieces like teeny tadpoles. (I needed my soup for noon the next day, so I did this the night before and just left them out on the cutting board overnight. They don’t really have to dry necessarily.)
  8. Note: The picture above is Jakie cutting the rivels out of long, thin snakes of dough–with a pizza cutter. Then I just ran the pizza cutter over and through them all to cut them even smaller. It was much faster than the breaking off pieces.
  9. Boil potatoes until thoroughly cooked. (I put mine in a glass measure with ¼ cup water tightly covered with plastic wrap and cook for eight minutes or so until done.)
  10. Once rivels are cooked, add beef base (or you could have used broth to cook the rivels in)–tons to make it beefy– and seasonings to taste (minced onion, pepper, garlic, bay leaves (4 or so)).
  11. Then drain potatoes and add them to the rivels/broth.
  12. Then shred meat and add it and any juices.
  13. Simmer for an hour or so until flavors are well mixed.
Notes
You could precook carrots, celery, and/or green beans too and add them. But I’ve been pushing the veggie soups a lot, so decided to just do rivels and potatoes.

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P.S. Have you made rivels before? What did you use them in?

Hamburger Stew (Crock Pot AND Freezer Entree!)

 

On Wednesdays, I like to have something in the crock pot for lunch. We have cottage classes here, teaching over fifty homeschooled students once-a-week classes, such as writing, English, biology, economics, and more. It is tons of fun–but a super busy day, so I put a stew or soup together in the crock pot that my co-teachers (first two sons, Joshua, and Jonathan) and Jakie (our only homeschooled student now 🙁   ) can eat whenever they get a break.

 

This week’s crock pot entree is Hamburger Stew. I originally got this recipe over twenty years ago when I began freezer cooking. It fit the bill perfectly then when hamburger and shredded-off-the-bone chicken were our main meats–and almost always used IN recipes to stretch them further (as opposed to chicken pieces or hamburger patties).   It can be assembled then frozen before cooking (though the ingredients are all precooked). Then I can get it out of the freezer, defrost it, and either put it in the crock pot or oven. I no longer make it as a freezer entree because I have found that if I have precooked hamburger in the freezer, this stew comes together so quickly that I don’t need to even take up freezer space freezing it already assembled. However, if you are new to freezer cooking and looking for some satisfying, one dish entrees to start with (that are simple), this is definitely one to begin with.

 

Note: It is a tomato-based stew as opposed to many beef stew recipes that are gravy-based. It does have a lot of beefy flavor (not tomato-y like a red sauce or something), but the tomato sauce makes it a completely different stew than our beef stew recipe.

 

Also, I use small vegetables in this. I like smaller veggies with the hamburger but larger, chunkier veggies with stew beef. Just be sure if you use some larger and some smaller that they are fully cooked before assembling; otherwise, the vegetables will get done cooking at different times.

 

This is one of those “comfort foods” that can be made super “real”/whole foods or super fast/more convenience type foods. It can be made more caloric with fattier meat or less so with ground turkey. It can be made carbier with potatoes or less so with turnips or radishes or rutbagas. And the good news? Regardless of whether you are going less caloric or less carby, there are enough more “typical” flavors to dilute the flavors you don’t care for as much! (See “It’s All About Dilution”!)

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!


 

Here are some tips for various “healthifying” scenarios:

 

1) Fatty ground beef or ground sausage will be the most calorie dense/fatty meat choice for this dish. If you want to make a “keto stew,” you can definitely go with one or both of those. However, if you want to trim it down a little calorie-wise, ground turkey or ground chicken (ground without skin) are good low fat choices (which also decreases calories significantly).

 

2) I have experimented extensively with substitutions for potatoes (there are no real ones lol). My vote came in with turnips (which truly look like cooked potatoes and with the proper dilution from other familiar ingredients, they taste like them too. Radishes work well as potato substitutes and actually look like little red potatoes (their bright red color dissipates when cooked). However, we had some heart burn issues with the radishes, so I choose turnips. For a low carb stew, I would use turnips, carrots, and green beans. (Carrots aren’t as carby as most people think—no where close to potatoes!)

 

3) For a more family-friendly dish, you can use a combination of potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, and green beans. These are fairly typical ones.

 

4) For an easier stew (and don’t unsubscribe because of my “easy tips”—we all need easy sometimes!), you can even use canned mixed veggies or canned stew veggies (or frozen mixed/frozen stew). The stew veggies are chunkier, so I prefer them in beef stew, but for this stew with ground meat, I like the smaller ones.

 

 

 

 

 

Hamburger Stew (Crock Pot AND Freezer Entree!)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 5 to 6 lbs. raw ground turkey or hambuger (16 to 18 cups cooked and drained)
  • 3 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 cans mushroom soup or golden mushroom soup (You may make your own or make a beef gravy for this.)
  • 7 cups beef broth
  • 1 ½ cups milk (or cream or half and half)
  • 6 cups cubed hashbrowns (or 3 cans potatoes)
  • 6 lbs frozen mixed vegetables
  • 6 TBSP minced onions
  • ½ to 1 tsp garlic powder (I use a garlic-herb mixture and put more than this calls for)
  • 6 bay leaves
  • Extra beef base or powdered brown gravy mix, if desired
Instructions
  1. Precook any fresh veggies that you substituted for the frozen (i.e. carrots, green beans, potatoes, etc.)---only if using substitutions.
  2. Brown meat and drain.
  3. Mix all other ingredients together. (If mixture seems especially tomato-y or thin, I will stir in a little brown gravy mix.)
  4. Place heaping amounts of stew in 3 (9 x 13) foil pans (deep ones or two shallow ones; or one gallon freezer bags if planning to cook on the stove top or in the crock pot).
  5. Freeze and label: "Hamburger Stew, Serves 10-12+, Thaw. Bake covered at 350’ for 45 – 60 minutes."
  6. May also place in freezer bags and label, then place in casserole dishes at baking time (or cook in crock pot).
  7. May also simmer on stove top for under an hour on medium, stirring frequently.
Notes
+Each recipe (this makes it three times) serves ten to twelve people.

This recipe can be made more homemade (make own soup, use real potatoes that you cube and precook), etc. or less homemade (use all canned products), according to your time schedule and family's eating.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 356 Fat: 19 Carbohydrates: 23 Sugar: 6 Protein: 20

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P.S. I would love to hear your favorite fall/winter soups and stews! Ours are chili, potato, cheeseburger potato, vegetable, hamburger stew, beef stew, chicken gnocchi, creamy chicken “rice,” and beef “potato” rivel.

 

5 Minute Fajita Crisps

 

Fajitas. Five minutes. Those words don’t seem to go together. And yet with my Five Minute Fajita Crisps, it is (almost!) possible. Granted, it depends on what meat and veggies you start with…..so here are some tips on that:

 

 

 

Sometimes I roast the veggies I’m going to use in my fajita crisps…and serve extra on the side. (Check out my post about Fall Roasted Veggies!)

 

 


Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!


 

 

1. Keep cooked chicken on hand to pull out for these fajita crisps, stir fries, and more.

 

2. Use homemade low carb wraps for soft wraps (like this recipe) when you are wanting to keep your carbs super low (but fat isn’t an issue). Use store bought low carb or other healthy store-bought tortillas for crisped ones.

 

3. Roast veggies earlier in the week for one meal and save some out for these crisps. (Another great use for the Air Fryer is crisping leftovers that were crispy the first time! I love this feature!)

 

4. I also like to keep cubed chicken and beef (separate!) in this marinade in my freezer. This meat would also work well in these crisps!

 

5. And for a “pizza version” of these crips, click here.

 

 

Snack foods and “fun foods” don’t have to mean “junk foods”! Keep things on hand to make movie night, game night, family night, back porch night foods. And make what is usually considered a ‘cheat day” into a “health day”! 🙂


 

Unbaked Fajita Chicken Crisps—These broil REALLY fast, so watch them closely!

 

 

 

5 Minute Fajita Crisps (Fast Family Fixes!)
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • Pre-cooked/pre-made chicken*
  • Shredded cheese of your choice
  • Flour tortillas
  • Garlic flavored non stick cooking spray (or melted butter with garlic)
  • Optionals: Onions and peppers (sometimes I have these pre-cooked and frozen with my meat; sometimes I don't use them at all)
Instructions
  1. Lay flour torts out on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Spray the tops of the torts and broil them under the broiler until tanned and somewhat crispy (twenty to sixty seconds---watch carefully!).
  2. Remove torts from oven and sprinkle with chicken (and veggies, if desired) then shredded cheese.
  3. Put pan back under broiler until cheese is bubbly (one minute or so--watch carefully!).
  4. Cut in fourths and serve with sour cream, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, black olives, etc.
Notes
*I usually use fajita chicken I have in my freezer from freezer cooking---but any already-made chicken will work in a pinch, such as store bought fajita chicken strips, rotisserie chicken chunks, or even canned chicken {drained}. You can also stick a couple of boneless breasts or thighs in a half a cup of broth and cook in micro until done and use that meat. Of course, you could make Beef Crisps with roast beef or hamburger crisps with taco flavored ground beef.

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 Note: This is a good way to use up leftovers–and can be made lower carb than many other Mexican dishes because it only uses one tortilla each and you can really top it with a lot of protein and veggies. Also, for lower carbs, use the Carb Balance tortilla shells.

Spaghetti Pie (“Busy Mama’s Lasagna”)

Spaghetti Pie

 

Spaghetti Pie. Freezer entrée. Two phrases that make me so happy together! First of all, my family loves this spaghetti pie. It’s a little less tedious than lasagna (with the more intricate layer…though I never cook my lasagna noodles anymore!). But it still tastes a lot like lasagna. Secondly, it is a perfect “batch cooking”/mega cooking entrée. It seriously comes together so quickly and freezes so well. It is simple to make several of these!

 

Now to the healthy part of this! 🙂 Many people consider baked pasta dishes to be incredibly unhealthy. First of all, low carbers would never eat something with 40 carbs a serving in it. Calorie and fat counters (they do still exist as more and more people are coming to realize that even if it is REAL, if you eat too much (i.e. more calories than your body needs), you will not maintain a healthy weight) cringe at all the cheese, ground beef, and ricotta (or cottage cheese or sour cream).

 

(Keep in mind that fat has 9 calories per gram whereas protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. This is why people used to count fat grams in order to lose weight—by reducing fat grams in their diet, they were automatically reducing calories as well.)

 

So how can this recipe be “healthified” to fit all types of eaters—real foods, low carb, lower in calories, family friendly?

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in the recipe above. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

 

Here are some tips:

1) Low carbers can substitute spaghetti squash, low carb pasta, Miracle Noodles, strips of savory crepes, etc.

 

2) Lower calories—you’re not a bad person if you want to lower your calories! If you have extra weight, you probably need to consider the total caloric intake each day. With my fat grams example above, the obvious places to cut calories in a recipe like this are the meat and cheeses. Natural/real food people can do this by using a lower fat cottage or ricotta and ground turkey or ground white meat chicken. You can also use a combination of cheeses that are a little stronger while reducing the total amount of cheese. Those who are not as concerned with everything being real can use lower fat products, again reducing the caloric load.

 

3) Real foods—you can follow the tips in #2 for real foods, but you can also add veggies to it, make your own marinara out of roasted tomatoes, etc.

 

4) Finally, those looking to go lower in calories, fat, and carbs can do a little of all of the above and end up with a healthy spaghetti pie that has less caloric, fat, and carb load per serving.

 

 

Spaghetti Pie ("Busy Mama's Lasagna")
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 10 oz spaghetti
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • ¾ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz of cottage cheese, sour cream, or ricotta cheese (I have never used anything but cottage cheese)
  • 4 cups favorite spaghetti sauce ("marinara")
  • 1½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (plus ½ cup more for top)
  • Up to ¼ cup milk
  • 1½ lb meat (I use ground beef, but I have seen recipes that call for crumbled sausage--and smoked sausage would also work in a pinch and reduce your prep time)
Instructions
  1. Break spaghetti in thirds and cook until al dente in boiling water. (I used 48 oz of spaghetti so used my huge stock pot...as in REALLY big...).
  2. Cook ground beef and drain it.
  3. Drain spaghetti. While warm, add butter, eggs, and Parmesan cheese to the pasta and toss.
  4. Place into a well greased casserole. (At this point, many recipes say to "make a well" for the cottage cheese mixture; I just layer it right over all of the pasta, more like a lasagna.)
  5. Mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and a little milk (as needed for "spreadability").
  6. Spread cottage cheese mixture over pasta base.
  7. Combine meat and red sauce. Pour over cottage cheese layer.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes uncovered.
  9. If desired, sprinkle another ½ cup of mozzarella over dish during last ten minutes.
Notes
I made this recipe five times to make five deep 9 x13 casseroles---one for today and four for the freezer! 🙂 Each deep casserole serves eight to ten people well.

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This recipe was in my “ground beef cycle” from my many years of MEGA freezer cooking. It freezes great and makes a nice all-in-one-dish entree for a new baby’s arrival or for feeding many people a hearty entree (when using two or three of them).


Philly Cheesesteak Casserole

Philly Cheesesteak Casserole

 

(With Freezer Entrée Options)

 

Since I had my bout with very symptomatic pre-diabetes a couple of years ago, I have been trying to learn to cook and bake dishes with fewer carbs/lower glycemic index. About a year into this cooking (several months ago), I realized that one of the things that I missed the most were my one-dish meals.

 

I have been a *freezer cook* for twenty-five years now, and one of the greatest benefits of freezer cooking is pulling a nearly-complete meal out of the freezer, adding a salad, and calling it dinner. With lower carb cooking, this was seldom a reality for me.

 

Instead, I would pull a meat entrée (meat loaves, meat balls, marinated chicken breasts, cheddar coated chicken thighs, etc.) out of the oven then try to figure out what low carb/healthy sides I could put with it—while still keeping college and high school boys and my husband satisfied and full.

 

I missed the ease of the one dish entrée desperately, so I have been on a search for more “casserole-y” types of healthy entrees for the past several months. I have a few for you that will be coming up in the next few weeks—and this is one of those.

 

With some veggies already in it and the addition of cheese, I have what can only be described as a “nearly-one-dish-low-carb-entrée”! 🙂  And one that my guys like! Yay!

 

I wanted to add that this entrée can be completely assembled and frozen in 9×13 foil pans—oven ready. However, when I did that, the dish was pretty liquid-filled. Not sure if it had to do with the freezing or not, and by its nature (onions and green peppers), it is somewhat liquid-y anyway, but I changed it up and froze the prepped ingredients in separate bags to assemble and bake after defrosting. It only takes an extra five minutes, but it seemed to reduce the water-laden aspect of the dish some. If ease is more important to you and draining off some liquid is just no biggie, by all means, assemble and freeze as a casserole! (I do love my stacks of foil pans in my oven way more than assorted zip-lock bags!)

 

Oh, and as I put healthier entrees up, I will be doing just what I’ve done below (and in my mix recipes up so far): putting the regular recipe for one entrée in the main ingredient list and putting the recipe times four in bold-font parentheses for those who want to make four for the freezer.

(Do this. It doesn’t take four times the amount of time! You will be glad you did!)

 

Don’t forget to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page for this recipe’s helpful Recipe Keys!

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in the recipe above. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

Philly Cheesesteak Casserole
Author: 
Serves: 4- 5 hearty servings
 
Net Carbs: 23 grams | Amounts below for single, and quadruple batch for freezing
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces steak* (ribeye, skirt steak, or top sirloin) (4 {16 oz} steaks)
  • Marinade (makes 1⅓ cup or 5⅓ for freezer entrees)
  • ½ cup olive oil (2 cups)
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice (1⅓ cup)
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce (1⅓ cup)
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce (1 cup)
  • 3 TBSP Italian Dressing Mix (see Store Bought Stella if you do not have this mix on hand or follow the link for the recipe) (3/4 cup)
  • Other Ingredients
  • 3 medium onions, sliced (12 onions)
  • 3 green peppers, sliced (12 peppers)
  • 1 tsp garlic (4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp salt (4 tsp)
  • 1 TBSP Italian Dressing Mix (4 TBSP)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (2 tsp)
  • 1 (16 oz) package of fresh mushrooms, sliced (4 pkgs)
  • 8 to 12 ounces Provolone or Swiss cheese slices (32 to 48 oz)
Instructions
  1. Instructions for One Fresh Casserole
  2. One hour ahead of time: Place defrosted meat in freezer so that it is easier to thinly slice it.
  3. Prepare marinade by mixing all ingredients thoroughly with a wire whisk or in a food processor. Be sure all ingredients are completely processed together.
  4. Cut meat against the grain into as thin slices as you can.
  5. Place meat in the marinade. Sit in fridge to marinate for thirty to sixty minutes or until you have the rest of the ingredients ready.
  6. While meat is marinating, cut onions, peppers, and mushroom into slices, sort of fajita style.
  7. Remove meat from marinade and place all veggies along with the meat and listed seasonings into skillet.
  8. Stir fry just until onions are translucent, adding more marinade for the “oil” as needed. Be sure beef does not fully cook as it will be cooking in the oven.
  9. Transfer everything from skillet to 9x 13 pan.
  10. Top entire casserole with slices of cheese. Cover with foil. (I usually place a layer of parchment over first, then foil so that the foil does not take off all the cheese when I remove it.)
  11. Bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes convection (20 to 25 minutes regular) until cheese is melted.
  12. Note: It is also possible to simply cook meat all the way through in the skillet, cover the entire pan of ingredients with cheese slices, cover, and continue heating until cheese is melted over all of the meat and veggies, making this a “skillet” dish.
Notes
Note: One of the three recipes that I used to develop this recipe called for a 12 ounce package of Hormel’s Thick Cut Beef for one entrée of this. See Store-Bought Stella note below the instructions for ideas for making this a quicker entrée.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 668 Fat: 42 Carbohydrates: 23 Sugar: 14 Protein: 33

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Instructions for Four Freezer Entrees

 

1. One hour ahead of time: Place fresh meat in freezer so that it is easier to thinly slice it.
2. Prepare marinade by mixing all ingredients thoroughly with a wire whisk or in a food processor. Be sure all ingredients are completely processed together.
3. Cut meat against the grain into as thin slices as you can.
4. Divide meat among four one-gallon zip lock freezer bags.
5. Pour marinade over the bags evenly. Zip the bags, releasing the air completely.
6. Cut veggies up fajita style.
7. Toss the veggies with the remaining seasonings and divide them among four one-gallon freezer bags.
8. Divide cheese among four one-quart freezer bags (or just keep them in their package in your refrigerator until using this meal if they have a late date on them and you would rather not freeze them).
9. Secure two one-gallon bags together (one veggie bag/one meat bag) and one bag of cheese or place each set down into a two-gallon bags for a total of four entrees.
10. Label bags according to your desire (based on who is going to be cooking it, how often you make this entrée, etc.).

 

Here is a suggested label:

Philly Cheesesteak Casserole
Raw meat and raw veggies DATE
Place drained meat and vegetables in skillet. Cook until onions are done. Use marinade for “oil” as needed. (Do not fully cook beef.)
Transfer all to 9 x 13 casserole dish. Top with cheese slices. Cover with foil. Bake for 10 to 25 mins (convection vs. regular) until cheese is bubbly.

Save


Recipe Keys

Low Carb (LC): This is a very low carb recipe though some consider onions to be “moderate” carbs. The total dish is still extremely low carb.

 

Family-Friendly Low Carb (FFLC): While this is a very low carb entrée, you could make it a more moderate carb/family-friendly carb meal by using a low carb bread or bun, making a low carb garlic bread, serving with brown rice or quinoa for children, or making another side dishes (such as cooked carrots or a vegetable medley).

 

Store-Bought-Stella (SBS): You may use two packages of Hormel All Natural Beef slices; cut into strips (you can use another brand equaling 12 oz of meat) without the marinade or precooking steps. You might want to sprinkle the beef strips with seasoning. If using these beef slices, you will need olive oil and some seasonings (sprinkles of Italian Dressing Mix?) when stir-frying the vegetables.

 

Homemade Hannah (HH): This is very homemade! You can make this pretty whole-foods as written above—or make it even more homemade by using your own dried herbs.

 

Trim Healthy Mama-Friendly (THM) (www.trimhealthymama.com): This would be considered an S entrée for THM followers. The fat in the beef, as well as the oil in the marinade and addition of cheese at the end, makes this a healthy S (but not too heavy).

 

Sugar Free (SF): Sugar-free and healthy option!

 

Gluten Free (GF): No fillers so no concern about hidden gluten.

 

Low Carb Mixes (LCM): Uses my Italian Dressing Mix!

 

Freezer Cooking (FC): This is a new freezer recipe in the past year for me. I am happily adding lower carb “casseroles,” one-pan, and crock pot freezer entrees to my repertoire that are not so carb-laden, but are still family-friendly!

 

Grandma Maggie’s Old Fashioned Macaroni & Cheese

Grandma Maggie's Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese

Recently on a visit to my sister’s in North Carolina (from Indiana), my sister made her mother-in-law’s old fashioned mac and cheese. I used to make homemade macaroni and cheese a lot, but since I cook primarily low carb (and I am tired of making sauces, etc. that are so time consuming), I was especially interested in her recipe.

First of all, this could be easily made ahead. That is always my first criteria (it seems) in cooking since I have been a freezer and mix cook for twenty-five years. Secondly, it didn’t require a white sauce or a cheese sauce that you cook on top of the stove (really, one pan to boil the noodles and one dish to layer the casserole are the only “pans” needed). Third, it had a few other “lower carb” ingredients (half and half or cream, eggs, butter, and cheese), so I could envision immediately some low carb options that I am anxious to try out and share with you.


This recipe, as it is written, goes under “Holiday Recipes” or “Home Cooking” since two cups of uncooked elbow macaroni contains 140 to 160 carbs (depending on brand). For those desiring a low carb mac and cheese, see the Low Carb notes below about broccoli, cauliflower, and strips of Low Carb Crepes.

Grandma Maggie's Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese

Here is a version of this macaroni and cheese made with my homemade, healthy (low carb!) crepes rather than noodles

For those desiring a healthier dish than regular elbow mac and cheese, be sure to see the Family-Friendly and Trim Healthy Mama notes below about using Dreamfields pasta in this recipe. I know most low carbers do not use Dreamfields pasta, and, with the lawsuit they recently suffered (requiring new labeling—I don’t think they can continue to call it five net grams per serving {or whatever it was}), I understand why.

However, my nurse son ran an “independent-small study” test on me (LOL), and here is what we found:

1. Meal one—

Baked potato, butter, and meat that should have totaled fifty carbs or so—blood sugar before 98; thirty minutes after 140.

2. Meal two—

Same amount of food—in terms of calories (and same amount of fat—important to make a comparison)—Dreamfields pasta, red sauce, meat (without the carb-resistant factor of Dreamfields considered, this also should have totaled fifty carbs or so—blood sugar before 96; thirty minutes after 108.

Do with that whatever you wish, but with all of the information out there right now about making starches more carb-resistant (through eating at room temp; eating bananas green; etc.), it makes sense that somebody out there would figure out how to make comfort foods (i.e. potatoes, rice, and pasta) with at least some of those carb-resistant properties. While Dreamfields isn’t the same as eating a four carb piece of low carb bread or serving of green beans, I think they are on to something. So in my household of three or four “adult” guys, we use it once a week, and I have a small serving. No problems so far! 🙂

But back to this as a Holiday Recipe or Home Cooked Recipe, this is an old fashioned style of making macaroni—one in which parts are creamy and cheesy and parts are a little chewier and even a tiny bit crispy. I like that aspect of it, and I think it makes a perfect pot luck dish!

Don’t forget to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page for this recipe’s helpful Recipe Keys!

Below are links to the ingredients I use in the recipe above. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

Grandma Maggie's Old Fashioned Macaroni & Cheese
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dry macaroni (I like using Dreamfield's pasta)
  • 12 ounces of shredded cheddar (my sister says you have to shred your own!)
  • 1⅔ cup evaporated milk, half and half, cream, or whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons All Purpose Seasoning Mix (or Mrs. Dash or seasonings of choice)
  • Note: I double this recipe for a deep 9 x 13 (large, white Corelle casseroles)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook macaroni al dente (especially do not overcook if using Dreamfields pasta).
  3. Drain macaroni and stir melted butter and seasonings into it.
  4. Layer half of macaroni and half of shredded cheese in a 9 x 13 baking dish or oval deep casserole dish. Repeat.
  5. Whisk together eggs and milk/liquid.
  6. Pour whisked mixture over all (may have some left; just discard since it has raw eggs in it).
  7. Bake uncovered for forty minutes (regular) or 30 minutes (convection) at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbly. (I place mine on a jelly roll pan, which is what I do with all soupy/potentially boiling over dishes like lasagna, enchiladas, etc.).

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Grandma Maggie's Old Fashioned Mac & Cheese

“Macaroni” and cheese with low carb crepes rather than pasta!

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Recipe Keys

Low Carb (LC): This recipe is not low carb as it is! You can use the basic recipe and concept to create a layered broccoli or cauliflower dish that would be low carb. You could also use this with strips of Low Carb Crepes to make a low carb mac and cheese that tastes real! 🙂 (See family-friendly low carb note below also.) Note: Two cups of uncooked elbows will yield approximately four cups of cooked, so use four cups or so of sliced crepes or four cups of low carb veggies in this recipe.

Family-Friendly Low Carb (FFLC): This is obviously comfort food! There are ways to reduce the carbs, increase the vitamins, etc.: (1) Use the low carb crepes as described in the LC notes above; (2) Use healthy vegetables rather than pasta—even a combination of “kid friendly” veggies like carrot rounds and green beans would make a yummy vegetable side dish; (3) Use half the pasta called for and use the other “two cups” of meat—like crumbed ground sausage or kielbasa rounds or ham chunks (this would make a quick main dish too!); (4) Use a healthier pasta that your family enjoys such as whole grain or “green pasta”—keeping in mind that the carbohydrate count in those is still very high (if you are trying to reduce your family’s consumption of carbs); (5) Use the Dreamfields pasta described below in the THM notes.

Store-Bought-Stella (SBS): While this is definitely not boxed mac and cheese, it really is a simpler homemade macaroni and cheese dish as you simply cook pasta, layer, and bake. No complicated sauces to make, etc.

Homemade Hannah (HH): Comfort food at its best. It is, after all, Grandma Maggie’s recipe! 😉

Freezer Cooking (FC): I am going to be freezing some of these for the holidays, but I haven’t frozen any yet. I can’t wait to try it. If you try it before I update this, please drop me a note. When I first began freezer cooking twenty-five years ago, everything said that potatoes and pasta got grainy, so do not freeze them (other than uncooked lasagna). Then the sources branched out to include pastas and potatoes that were in sauces (as opposed to in broth). I freeze all kinds of potatoes and all kinds of pasta now, so the original thinking was definitely not correct. However, I do prefer to freeze both in sauces (marinara, soups, gravies, Alfredo, cheese and cream, etc.) as opposed to in broth—where they do sometimes become grainy or mushy.

Oldie Goldie Family Recipes (OG): This is an oldie goldie for my sister! It is consistent with my oldie goldie history though—something you can make ahead, stick in the fridge, and bake when needed. (I have already done that twice with this!)

Trim Healthy Mama-Friendly (THM) (www.trimhealthymama.com): With the LC notes above and/or the Dreamfield’s corkscrew pasta (or the penne), this would fall in an S setting. Another thought is to the do the veggie idea with it and have it as a creamy vegetable dish alongside a FP meat, like salmon or chicken breasts. Regardless of what you pair it with, that meal becomes an S meal due to the high fat in this entrée.

Cycle Cooking (CYC): Getting ready to add this in! I’m going to experiment a little more since you are not supposed to cool and reheat the Dreamfields (for maximum carb-protecting value…I really want to use the pasta uncooked. I will keep you posted on that experiment too!

Sugar Free (SF): No sugar added.

Gluten Free (GF): Simple dish to make gluten-free—any of the LC and FFLC options yield a gluten-free side dish. Of course, with the availability of gluten-free products (pasta, breads, chips, etc.), this dish is easily made gluten-free and just as tasty as the original recipe!

Low Carb Mixes (LCM): No mix involved in this—though I did sprinkle my All Purpose Seasoning Mix on each layer. I just love that stuff!

Cooking & Using Crumbled Ground Beef [Ideas & Tips]

Tips & Ideas for Cooking & Using Crumbled Ground Beef

 

I have been talking extensively in podcast episodes (see Five Tips for Efficiency in the Kitchen HERE) and in blog posts about my cycle cooking (PODCAST) and just the general idea of preparing meats to be used in dishes. (See my Shredded Chicken post here.)

 

Having meats ready to use in recipes is one of the best kitchen efficiency tips that I can give people. It truly makes creating a quick meal doable.

read more…

Chicken “Noodle” Soup (With Low Carb/Grain-Free “Crepe Noodle” Option!)

 Chicken “Noodle” Soup (With Low CarbGrain-Free “Crepe Noodle” Option!)

 

Hopefully, you have enjoyed the ease of my shredded chicken method! It is so simple to put chicken in the crock pot overnight or in the morning and come up with a speedy meal when it is done cooking. There are actually times in which I put the chicken in without even knowing for sure what I will do with it the next day since I know I have so many options that I can turn to at the last minute. (Plus, having it cooked forces me to do SOMETHING with it!) If nothing else, I can pour some bottled BBQ sauce over it and have BBQ chicken sandwiches!

 

In addition to the BBQ chicken mentioned above, when all else fails, I know I can pull out some chicken broth, enrich it with chicken base (always!), boil some packaged noodles in the broth, and come up with a pot of chicken noodle soup in no time flat.

 

OR I can prepare the broth, add the shredded chicken, and fold in “crepe noodles” (noodles made by cutting thin, savory low carb/grain-free crepes) at serving time (no sooner than one hour before serving so they don’t dissolve…you will not need to cook the noodles at all).

 

 

Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe by Donna Reish

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

 

Chicken “Noodle” Soup (With Low Carb/Grain-Free “Crepe Noodle” Option!)
Author: 
 
The calorie and carb count for this with noodles is a typical chicken noodle soup count. With "crepe noodles," the net carbs would be only a few per bowl.
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook chicken according to instructions in the general section.
  2. Shred and set aside.
  3. Cook noodles in chicken broth until al dente.
  4. Optional: Stir fry celery and tiny pieces of carrot (or carrots that you shredded with a potato peeler) in skillet or in micro with butter.
  5. To cook aromatics in micro, just put them finely shredded in small microwaveable bowl with a TBSP or two of butter. Cover and cook until tender. You don't want the celery or carrots to be crunchy.
  6. Add chicken, aromatics, seasonings, and more base back into noodles and broth. It is ready! Don't keep on low as noodles will continue to cook and get grainy.
  7. If using “crepe noodles,” prepare the crepes and be sure they are fully cooled. Cut them into “noodles” and add them to the broth, veggies, and chicken just before serving.

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“Crepe noodles” may be folded into recipes like soups and casseroles near serving time for a grain-free noodle option.

 


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“Arroz Con Pollo”—A Shredded Chicken Recipe

Arroz con Pollo

 

This is a follow-up recipe to my post about cooking chicken to use in shredded chicken recipes. In that post, I shared that I have been compiling recipes for my two sets of newlyweds. I thought you might like to see their sweet faces (as I ALWAYS love to see their sweet faces!), so check out the pictures at the end of this post. When the married or college kids come home for a weekend or holiday break, I always like to make things that they like, or things that are special to them. I have been scouring the internet for a couple of years to find a recipe that is similar to the Arroz Con Pollo that our newly-wed son always orders at our family’s favorite Mexican restaurant. I was unable to find anything like it. (The ones I found were large chunks of meat more in a red sauce as opposed to a shredded chicken dish in a white sauce.) So….I combined a couple of other recipes that looked similar and came up with one that worked—and that all of the kids really liked. (And my Arroz Con Pollo son thought was a good knock off!)

 

So, here you go! Enjoy the ease of cooking with shredded chicken! You might even like to do what I always do—cook up an entire crock pot of breasts and thighs, shred, bag, and freeze them to pull out for easy soups, stews, Mexican dishes, Italian dishes, classic casseroles, and more! (Coming soon!) 🙂

 

 

Arroz Con Pollo recipe by Donna Reish

Tip: Cook ten or twenty pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs in the crock pot. Then shred, bag, and freeze for quick entrée assembly!

Oh…and a few tips for freezer cooks and low carb cooks:

(1) This can be doubled, tripled, etc., and frozen in quart sized bags after it is all assembled. To use then, you would just thaw and heat in micro, stove top, or crock pot.

 

(2) This can work well as an enchilada type of filling without the rice. This makes it a really yummy low carb treat in low carb tortilla shells or Joseph’s pitas. (It would be just a few carbs per serving for the meat without the rice and an S meal for those following THM.)

 

(3) Another option is to cook chicken, shred it, and freeze it in bags with a little broth (as described in the shredded chicken introduction post). Then you can pull it out to make this quickly.

 

(4) Another good idea for low carbers and freezer cooks alike is to chop up onions and peppers and bag in quart sized bags to freeze. I love having these in my freezer to pull out, stir fry, and use in recipes all the time!

 

(5) I have not made this recipe with cauli rice, but I have been having great results adding Miracle Rice to soups and other combination foods. If you want a zero carb, basically zero calorie substitute for rice, I would start with Miracle Rice IN combination foods. I have had best results with the Miracle Rice when I drain it fully (it doesn’t smell pleasant!), rinse it with running water until it runs clear and the smell is almost gone, and then I pour boiling broth over it and let it sit in that a bit. Then drain fully. Others stir fry the Miracle Rice after it is drained and rinsed with water. You will want to experiment to see what works for you.

 

 

Chimichangas

This mixture (without the rice) is an amazing baked chimichanga filling! I like it better than my favorite Mexican restaurant’s filling!

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

“Arroz Con Pollo”—A Shredded Chicken Recipe
Author: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Net Carbs: 14 (net carbs without rice: 2)
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 ½ lbs uncooked Minute rice (or precooked long grain rice, precooked cauli rice or well-drained, well-rinsed Miracle Rice)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can Rotel with green chiles
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ to 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ to 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1½ to 2 cups chicken broth (for cooking rice only)
  • 1cups heavy cream or half and half
  • 4 to 6 clove minced garlic
  • 8 oz grated Monterey cheese
  • 1 bar cream cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in electric skillet.
  2. Once the oil is nice and hot, add in 3 cloves of freshly minced garlic, onion, and pepper. Let it sizzle for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and you have a beautiful aroma coming from the pot.
  3. Meanwhile, cook rice in chicken broth by favorite method. (I use brown Minute Rice and cook in micro for several minutes.)
  4. Add all seasonings to the pan.
  5. Melt cream cheese in microwave and whisk until it is loose and can be poured.
  6. When rice is done, drain broth if any is left (but keep if dish is too dry at end).
  7. Stir everything else (chicken, rice, cream cheese, cream, cheese, rotel, etc.) into the stir-fried onion mixture.
  8. Heat through and serve with soft tortilla shells, salsa, sour cream, corn chips, olives, etc., as desired.
Notes
This is also really good enchilada filling for chicken enchiladas. Just omit the rice (and broth) and decrease the cream cheese and half and half or whipping cream to desired thickness. Build four to six enchiladas, place in casserole dish, top with a little shredded cheese, and bake.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 270 Fat: 11 Carbohydrates: 14 Sugar: 2 Protein: 15

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Kara

 

 

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Shrimp “Boil”

Shrimp Boil Recipe

 

Shrimp "Boil"
Author: 
Serves: 12 servings
 
Net Carbs: 27
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds shrimp (tails on or off; already peeled)
  • 1½ pounds kielbasa sausage (not “raw” sausage)
  • 6 corn cobettes (I used frozen)
  • 2 lbs red potatoes, cleaned and sliced
  • ¾ lb baby carrots
  • 1½ lb fresh green beans, stemmed but not snapped in pieces
  • 1 large onion (or more), coarsely chopped into chunks)
  • ⅓ to ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 to 4 TBSP Old Bay Seasoning (or my Seasoning Blend)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 TBSP fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Prepare vegetables as given in ingredient list. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Precook potatoes, carrots, and green beans individually in microwave for five to eight minutes on high (depending on microwave and amount of vegetables used). I place each one in glass bowl, pour a couple of tablespoons of seasoned broth, cover with plastic wrap and “steam.” You may also precook on stove top, if desired. I pre-cooked the vegetables before adding them to the meat.
  3. While veggies are precooking, de-tail shrimp (if desired; I leave mine on) and cut sausage into half to inch chunks.
  4. Place huge pieces of foil across two jelly roll pans—enough that you can bring foil up and over the ingredients and seal it to bake (double foil if grilling). Use huge sheet of foil that you can pull up over the ingredients to seal the pan.
  5. Spray foil with cooking spray and begin laying the meats and vegetables all over the foil inside the pan. Order doesn’t really matter. Try to spread it out so that it is a fairly thin layer though some will overlap.
  6. After all vegetables and meats are in the pan, season thoroughly with the seasonings listed. Finish by drizzling olive oil over both pans and toss/mix with hands. Just layer the ingredients in any order you desire before seasoning. Use a super large pan so that you do not have too much thickness.
  7. Bring foil up over the pans and seal tightly on top.
  8. Bake in convection oven for 30 to 35 minutes; regular oven for 40 minutes or more.
  9. Cover table with thick towels. Place newspaper or huge pieces of parchment over all.
  10. When boil is ready, drain in strainer (may save juice for pouring over leftovers to keep moist) and dump drained boil all over the newspaper or parchment. I drained all of the shrimp boil before placing it on the parchment to eat so that we would not have liquid puddles since some other vegetables are juicy.
  11. Serve with salt and pepper (no butter needed!)—and be sure everybody eats with their hands! 😉 Once the shrimp boil was cooked and drained, we just dumped it onto the table in the middle and all gathered around to eat.
Notes
My family requested more shrimp and sausage—so I will probably add more and increase my seasoning and oil a little. I also thought about adding partially pre-cooked meatballs to give it more meat, especially next month when I make it for fourteen of us!
Nutrition Information
Calories: 369 Fat: 20 Carbohydrates: 27 Protein: 25

 

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1. Prepare vegetables as given in ingredient list. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Precook potatoes, carrots, and green beans individually in microwave for five to eight minutes on high (depending on microwave and amount of vegetables used). I place each one in glass bowl, pour a couple of tablespoons of seasoned broth, cover with plastic wrap and “steam.” You may also precook on stove top, if desired.

 

I pre-cooked the vegetables before adding them to the meat.

Shrimp "Boil" Recipe

 

3. While veggies are precooking, de-tail shrimp (if desired; I leave mine on) and cut sausage into half to inch chunks.

4. Place huge pieces of foil across two jelly roll pans—enough that you can bring foil up and over the ingredients and seal it to bake (double foil if grilling).

 

Use huge sheet of foil that you can pull up over the ingredients to seal the pan.

Shrimp "Boil" Recipe

 

5. Spray foil with cooking spray and begin laying the meats and vegetables all over the foil inside the pan. Order doesn’t really matter. Try to spread it out so that it is a fairly thin layer though some will overlap.

 

6. After all vegetables and meats are in the pan, season thoroughly with the seasonings listed. Finish by drizzling olive oil over both pans and toss/mix with hands.

 

Just layer the ingredients in any order you desire before seasoning. Use a super large pan so that you do not have too much thickness.

Shrimp "Boil" Recipe

 

 

7. Bring foil up over the pans and seal tightly on top.

8. Bake in convection oven for 30 to 35 minutes; regular oven for 40 minutes or more.

9. Cover table with thick towels. Place newspaper or huge pieces of parchment over all.

10. When boil is ready, drain in strainer (may save juice for pouring over leftovers to keep moist) and dump drained boil all over the newspaper or parchment.

 

I drained all of the shrimp boil before placing it on the parchment to eat so that we would not have liquid puddles since some other vegetables are juicy.

Shrimp "Boil" Recipe

11. Serve with salt and pepper (no butter needed!)—and be sure everybody eats with their hands! 😉

 

Once the shrimp boil was cooked and drained, we just dumped it onto the table in the middle and all gathered around to eat.

Shrimp "Boil" Recipe

 

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Beef and Pork Roasts in the Crock Pot [With Low Carb and Family Friendly Tips]

Beef and Pork Roasts in the Crock Pot [With Low Carb and Family Friendly Tips]

If you follow our Crock Pot posts, you have read about the many soups and stews that I do for our lunch on the days that we teach classes. Our oldest son is soup-crazy, so I started the tradition for him as he comes to teach with me each week.

Classes are over for the summer, but I do want to continue the crock pot tradition because so many of the entrees in the crock pot are so simple–and one dish!

read more…

Healthy Chicken Salad (THM-Friendly, Low Carb Options)

Chicken Salad

 

I don’t eat prepared salads. There. I said it.

 

I don’t like mayonnaise, salad dressing, mustard, sauces, oil and vinegar, sour cream, yogurt, or anything else that is dressing in nature. (Yes, this makes it hard to share salad recipes—and make salads for my family.)

 

Because of this, I am known to do more of a mini “salad bar” than I am to actually assemble salads. (My family really likes these salad “bars”!)

 

So when I put a salad at the blog, it has been tested and re-tested by my family. I can’t taste it, after all, to see if it is yummy. So I make the salads over and over until I’m brave enough to share with others.

 Healthy Chicken Salad with low carb and THM options

 

This one is ready. Hubby gave it two thumbs up. I feel confident enough to take it to a funeral dinner tomorrow. It really is ready.

 

I still question the dressing-ingredient ratio. I still question the “wetness.” Those things have always eluded me in salads as there might be one coleslaw, for instance, that looks barely dressed while another looks like it is swimming in milk. Seriously. How does that happen?

 

Thus, I give the option to add more liquid, if desired. You can see in the picture that this salad is neither overly wet nor “lacking dressing dry.” Hopefully, you will think it is….just right!

 

Chicken Salad

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

Healthy Chicken Salad (THM-Friendly, Low Carb Options)
Author: 
 
Net Carbs: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, cut into ½-inch cubes (approximately two cups)
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup red grapes, halved
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup healthy mayo (or less than one cup and some cream and/or almond milk or a combination of sour cream, mayo, yogurt, and cream/almond milk)
  • 1 ½ tsp All-Purpose Seasoning Mix (or 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and a little garlic and onion powders)
  • Bulk sugar-free granulated sweetener to taste (1 tsp to 1 TBSP) (Pyureor other)
Instructions
  1. Combine mayo, seasonings, and sweetener in small bowl. Whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Taste and adjust according to preferences (i.e. sweeter, thinner, creamier, saltier, etc.).
  2. Half grapes (or quarter if large) and dice celery finely. Toss all non-dressing ingredients in large bowl.
  3. Pour dressing over ingredients in larger bowl. Toss until fully coated.
  4. Taste and adjust if more liquid is needed.
  5. Makes 10 heaping servings for large buns and/or two full bread slices sandwiches
Nutrition Information
Calories: 220 Fat: 22 Carbohydrates: 2 Protein: 13

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Note: I love to have precooked meats (shredded roast beef and chicken in some of their broths and prefried/drained ground meats) in quart bags in my freezer.  For the chicken salad, I can just pull out the bag, defrost, drain, and use.  I also often cook a few breasts in the crock pot or Instant Pot for recipes needing cubed or shredded chicken.  See my post about Shredded Chicken here!

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Recipe Keys

 

 

Trim Healthy Mama-Friendly (THM): This can be made into an S or an E carb and fat-wise. If you are a purist who doesn’t ever use grapes in an S setting or sprinkling of almonds in an E setting, then you might not be able to adjust this recipe for either. For non-purists, this can be an S by omitting the grapes or using a tiny bit (cut in tinier pieces to spread throughout salad more). This can be an E by using a combination of light mayo, plain yogurt, and almond milk for the dressing—and by omitting the slivered almonds or just sprinkling in a few to add crunch. Serve in low carb pitas or lettuce boats for S or sprouted bread/buns for E meals.

 

 

Family-Friendly (FF): Generally speaking, mixed salads are not considered family-friendly. However, if you start your kids out at young ages eating a variety of foods, including those mixed together in unique ways (grapes and chicken!), they will like far more foods growing up. I wish I had done this!

 

 

Very Low Carb (VLC): This can be a very low carb dish by following the THM-friendly instructions for an S dish. Some low carbers never use grapes, even in small amounts. Others might use ten or twenty carbs of grapes in an entire dish, knowing that those carbs are spread out among ten servings or more. You can omit the grapes entirely for a pretty low carb salad that makes you feel like you are eating more than “meat and eggs.”

 

 

Store-Bought-Stella (SBS): Fairly straight forward recipe. Store-Bought Stellas, this is a great opportunity to cook a lot of chicken breasts and/or thighs and make this dish and others! (See my Shredded Chicken instructions here.) It is so little work for such large rewards!

 

 

Homemade Hannah (HH): Making homemade mayo would make this a more homemade recipe. However, many people consider chicken salad to be a homemade stand by, so many HH’s will love this recipe!

 

 

Freezer Cooking (FC): This recipe would not freeze well with the mayo and grapes. I like to get a jump on these types of recipes with my freezer meats though. Check out my Freezer Shredded Chicken post as mentioned above!

 

 

Sugar Free (SF): Yes!

 

 

Gluten Free (GF): Yes! (Again, assuming that you have the condiments and ingredients this recipe calls for in gluten-free.)

 

 

Low Carb Mixes (LCM): This recipe uses my All Purpose Seasoning Mix. Obviously, you can substitute Mrs. Dash or other favorite seasoning blends.

Sugar-Free Grilled BBQ Chicken

Sugar-Free Grilled BBQ Chicken

 

Wowsie, sometimes I really miss BBQ—you know the sweet, yet spicy/tangy, taste of BBQ ribs from Outback or pulled pork from a street vendor at the fair? And when I start feeling that way, I know that it is time to pull out my Sugar-Free Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce and make something yummy!

 

And in grilling season, this is just the perfect dish—without any of the guilt or sluggishness associated with sugar-laden BBQ sauces (okay, and that sweet bread AND bloomin’ onion AND homemade croutons AND…you get the idea!).

 

This grilled BBQ chicken might look like it has a lot of steps, but take heart:

 

(1) You can omit the marinating if desired (especially if using bone-in chicken with skin and/or dark meat);

 

(2) If you have the BBQ Sauce Base in your pantry, making the BBQ sauce is really not any harder than mixing up any other one-bowl-one-whisk concoction. (So make that base!);

 

(3) You might not feel the need to pre-cook your chicken like I do. I get nervous about getting chicken done on the grill without precooking. That is a personal choice.

 

 

So…many steps or few—this chicken is worth the extra time to make amazing grilled BBQ chicken!

 

 

Sugar-Free Grilled BBQ Chicken

Don’t forget to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page for this recipe’s helpful Recipe Keys!

Sugar-Free Grilled BBQ Chicken
 
Ingredients
  • Sugar-Free Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce (two times if you like things really saucy and you are going to marinate your chicken)
  • 15 lbs mixed chicken pieces, bone in/skin on
  • Monterey Marinade one time (if you want to marinate your chicken that day; if you are using skinless chicken rather than the skin on listed above, I recommend marinating)
Instructions
  1. Make BBQ sauce as directed here two times for fifteen pounds of saucy chicken.
  2. Optional: Save out one cup of the BBQ sauce and make Monterey Marinade if you will be marinating your chicken for a few hours ahead of time.
  3. Optional: Make Monterey Marinade one time.
  4. Optional: Place your chicken in a large bowl or huge crock pot insert and pour marinade over all. Let sit in fridge for an hour or more to marinate. (Do not marinate out on counter—even if your chicken is frozen as some will defrost sooner than others and you risk spoilage of the early-defrosted chicken.)
  5. Optional: Place crock pot in the base and cook until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees or so. (For my super-hot crock pot, this is two hours on high followed by two hours on low.)
  6. Note: I always start any chicken in the crock pot on high for an hour or two (even chicken I am shredding for casseroles, etc.,). I feel it is safer than having chicken in a warm environment for too long (rather than in a “cooking state,” which it gets into more quickly on high for an hour.
  7. Optional: If you want to precook in the oven, that is another option, making sure it reaches the internal temperature listed.
  8. Transfer chicken to grill and use a brush to slather the BBQ sauce over both sides of the chicken.
  9. Cook on medium heat for twenty to forty minutes, depending on your grill and how precooked your meat was (longer if you did not precook!).
  10. Turn frequently and sauce often. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. (I always use a meat thermometer for chicken—and I have been known to get my married kids meat thermometers every year for Christmas…you know, in case they lost last year’s!)
Notes
This can also be made in the oven. I would recommend baking it a hot oven then broiling at the end to get the BBQ sauce cooked into the skin just so!

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Recipe Keys

 

Low Carb (LC): Carbs are minimal (just from the tomato paste and a tiny bit from the broth and the molasses).

 

Family-Friendly Low Carb (FFLC): This does not taste the least bit sugar free or low carb! My “this is sugar-free, isn’t it, Mom?” adult kids all really enjoy it! And there is something wonderful about skin-on BBQ chicken—the way the BBQ sauce sticks to the skin. The way the skin crisps up on the grill. Yeah, this is yummy stuff!

 

Store-Bought-Stella (SBS):  Very homemade—but very worth it! Of course, SBS may also purchase store-bought sugar-free bbq sauce and use that in place of my homemade version. Just be sure you try it ahead of time as the store bought ones vary greatly in how “sugar-free” they taste!

 

Homemade Hannah (HH): Go on, Hannah, you know you want to do all the steps! 🙂

 

Freezer Cooking (FC): This chicken can be flash frozen after it is grilled and then dropped into zip-lock bags for one or two serving use. To flash-freeze, just place the finished chicken pieces on cookie sheets (I would line with parchment…always parchment!) and slide into the freezer. Leave there uncovered until chicken is frozen solid. Then remove and place in freezer bags or containers. To use, you would just defrost in a dish (if you defrost in the bag, all of your sauce will come off on the bag as it defrosts!) in the fridge, heat in the microwave or oven, and enjoy!

 

Oldie Goldie Family Recipes (OG): This “pre-cooking in a BBQ-based marinade” is how I have always fixed my BBQ chicken! Love that flavor infusion!

 

Trim Healthy Mama-Friendly (THM) (www.trimhealthymama.com): As it is written, this recipe is an S with the skin on the chicken (and the combination of dark meat and white meat) and with the oil in the marinade. To make this an E, you would need to be sure you do not marinate in oil (broth and BBQ base only) and you would need to use boneless, skinless breasts. I highly recommend marinating if you are using chicken without skin and/or white meat only.

 

Cycle Cooking (CYC): I don’t usually do BBQ chicken in my cycle cooking as grilling takes longer than a cycle cooking day allots!

 

Sugar Free (SF): Sugar-free and amazingly yummy!

 

Gluten Free (GF):  Be sure all of your products are gluten-free, and you will be great!

 

Low Carb Mixes (LCM): This uses my BBQ Sauce Base mix! Love my “Low Carb Mixes and Fast Fixes”!

 

 

Healthy Pizzadillas (Low Carb, THM)

Healthy Pizzadillas (Low Carb, THM)

 

Once I got on to using crepes (and/or tortillas, depending on your preference) for so many things (advice from DJ Foodie of Low Carbing Among Friends), I went crazy! There are literally dozens of things to do with crepes (savory or sweet) and/or tortillas—low carb or other!

 

(So if you are not a low carber but just trying to make things more healthfully for your family, read on….using healthy crepes and torts is a great way to reduce white flour and high carb/starchy use and feed your kids healthier options without their knowing it! 🙂 )

 

 

Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links below I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!

 

 

Making things with crepes or torts as the base is an amazing find for the low carber because these are either (1) easy to make (in the case of the crepes) or (2) easy to find (in the case of buying low carb tortillas). (Here are two of my faves to purchase: Mama Lupitas (they are brownish but I like them best—and I usually prefer “white”—they have a more nutty taste and make better tort chips and crackers imho and Mission (available in local stores too)—these are more acceptable to my teen sons.)

 

 

Low Carb Pizzadillas

Low Carb Pizzadillas!

 

 

I will be sharing the dozens of ways I use the crepes and torts (see using crepes as noodles here)  on the blog in the future, but today I bring you a super alternative to frozen pizza for your family! (My teen and college sons will eat this readily for a party/movie night—that is a really good sign!)

 

 

You cannot pick this dish up like you can pizza or even quesadillas simply because it is too chock full of yumminess. But it is worth all the messiness and utensil-needing!

 

 

Don’t forget to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page for this recipe’s helpful Recipe Keys!

 

Here’s the scoop (very loosely!)

Healthy Pizzadillas (Low Carb, THM)
Author: 
 
Net Carbs vary based on brand and toppings
Ingredients
  • Crepes or tortillas
  • Pizza or marinara sauce
  • Pizza ingredients: cheeses, veggies, meats (precooked)...whatever you like
Instructions
  1. Place one crepe or tort on a baking dish sprayed (and I use parchment...always parchment...no time for messy dishes!).
  2. Put sauce on that crepe (according to how saucy you like your pizza).
  3. Put pizza ingredients on top of sauce.
  4. Top with another crepe or tort.
  5. Bake at 375 for about 15 to 20 minutes convection (20 to 25 regular) until filling is gooey and crepes are golden.
  6. Remove from oven and slice with pizza cutter into fourths. Serve with forks! 🙂

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Recipe Keys

 

 

Low Carb (LC): With the homemade low carb crepes, this is an extremely low carb dish. I would guess that with those, a full double-crepe pizzadilla (which would be a lot of food!) to be one-twentieth of a personal pizza carb count! They are extremely low carb and quick to make. Depending on which low carb tortilla you use, the carb count on the torts alone (two per huge double tort pizzadilla!) would still only be between six and twelve net carbs. Technically, depending on how full you fill the crepes/torts, a full pizzadilla (with two crepes/torts) is probably two servings anyway….very filling. So yes, very low carb!

 

 

Family-Friendly Low Carb (FFLC): This is one of my MOST family-friendly low carb recipes—especially with store bought, slightly higher carb torts (Mission). It is still going to be probably one tenth of a personal pan pizza carb-wise, so the carbs are still low even with the store bought, white torts. But the real kicker here is how “un-low-carb” this dish tastes. (Yes, that is a word when you are trying to feed teen and college boys!) Nutshell: low carb and kids love these!

 

 

Store-Bought-Stella (SBS): You Stellas are in business here….you can quite literally buy everything in this dish and simply spend ten minutes assembling a bunch of them! Low carb tortillas; pre-cooked crumbled or link sausage; pepperoni;  pre-chopped onions, peppers, and mushrooms; shredded cheeses; jarred pizza sauce. Go make this!

 

 

Homemade Hannah (HH): For you Homemade Hannah’s out there, try the homemade low carb crepe recipe! It is a homemade treat that gives homemade cooks a lot of homemade options! (Emphasis on the “homemade” there!)

 

 

 Freezer Cooking (FC): I definitely use my freezer cooking skills to do prep work for this. In other words, I always have these things for this dish in my freezer: crepes (just make and stack in a plastic bowl with parchment between…always parchment…) and freeze; pre-cooked hamburger or ground turkey; pre-made sausage patties or links that I cut up for dishes like this one; and more. Other variations of this use other freezer items I have on hand: taco meat for tacodillas (!); shredded chicken and pre-cooked chicken chunks for Alfredo-dillas (okay, getting a little carried away here!); etc. Somehow I always dovetail all new recipes with my long-term-love-affair with freezer cooking!

 

 

 Oldie Goldie Family Recipes (OG): While this is not an Oldie Goldie recipe, it is a whole lot easier than my OG homemade pizzas!

 

 

 Trim Healthy Mama-Friendly (THM) (www.trimhealthymama.com): This is a definite S entrée for THM’s. And depending on which base you use and what your fillings are, you could probably even make it an E—with low fat meats, low fat cheeses, and the right fat count base. I could see making this an easy E with shredded chicken, veggies, and Laughing Cow cheese.

 

 

 Cycle Cooking (CYC):  Just like my Freezer Cooking, this is not in a “cycle,” so to speak, but I do the various meats and even the torts in my cycles. Ground beef and taco meat are in my crumbled beef cycle. Shredded chicken in my Shredded Chicken Cycle; chicken chunks in my Chicken Breast Cycle; and the crepes in my Very Low Carb Flour Mix Cycle. Cycle cooking, along with Freezer Cooking, makes everything faster!

 

 

 Sugar Free (SF): No sugar in the crepes or torts to speak of. Definitely choose a low sugar pizza sauce or marinara (i.e. not the luscious, sugar-laden Prego!). My experience has been that lower sugar sauces are often found in glass jars (i.e. often more expensive, lesser known brands) and generic brands. Check them out!

 

 

 Gluten Free (GF):  The gluten-free option for this recipe is to make the crepes using the Basic Flour Mix Gluten-Free option. Very doable!

 

 

 Low Carb Mixes (LCM):  The crepes are made using the Very Low Carb Flour Mix. Love my Low Carb Mixes!

 

 

Amazing Breakfast Casserole

Amazing Breakfast Casserole2

I used to have a couple of different egg casseroles in my freezer meal rotation. They were simple ways to make eggs for many, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to have the for a weekday breakfast simply because it was about as easy to stick four of them in the freezer as it was to make “yolky” eggs for seven kids on a given morning! Efficiency, mama, efficiency! 🙂

Unfortunately, my two favorite egg casserole recipes were loaded with carbs—one had shredded potatoes (or shredded hash browns) in the bottom and the other had toasted bread cubes. So I really haven’t made a lot of them lately.

Enter this amazing recipe. I made it for a ladies’ brunch, and a low carbing friend said, “This is so good. It’s a shame it isn’t low carb.” She thought it had to have potatoes or something else in it. But it doesn’t!

Amazing Breakfast Casserole

This recipe can also be frozen in 8 x 8 or smaller pans for smaller families, like some of the smaller pans shown here.

 

I will put the ingredients for one, but if you have read much of what I have written about household efficiency and kitchen/menu planning, you know I don’t like to make one of anything. So the ingredients for four (one for now; one for the freezer!) are in parentheses following each ingredient.

Each pan serves six to eight people well.

Amazing Breakfast Casserole
Author: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Net Carbs: 4 grams per serving Calories: 233 Total Fat: 18 grams Protein: 15 grams
Ingredients
  • Amazing Breakfast Casserole
  • 1 pound sausage, turkey or regular (4 lbs)
  • ¼ to ½ cup onion, chopped (1 to 2 cups)
  • ¼ to ½ cup bell pepper,chopped (1 to 2 cups)
  • 6 eggs (24 eggs)
  • 1 cup half & half or almond milk (4 cups)
  • ½ cup water or chicken broth (2 cups)
  • 2 cups cheese (8 cups)
Instructions
  1. Brown and drain the sausage.
  2. Saute onions and peppers in a little of the sausage grease until tender. (They will finish cooking in the casserole.)
  3. Place sausage in bottom of greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. (If making for the freezer too, I use foil pans and just divide the meat evenly among four pans.)
  4. Spread onions and peppers over the meat in the pan.
  5. Mix eggs, half and half, water/broth, and cheese together.
  6. Pour egg mixture over all.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees convection for 30 to 40 minutes covered (regular oven 45 to 60); uncover last ten minutes.
  8. Cover, label, and freeze remaining ones if you made four.

 

 

Amazing Breakfast Casserole

DATE: _____________________

1. Defrost in fridge overnight.

2. Bake at 350 degrees convection for 30 to 40 minutes covered (regular oven 45 to 60); uncover last ten minutes.

 

 

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