Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Whipped Jello Pie

I dunno about you, but I love jello. All kinds of jello, even the kind with little pieces of fruit in them. I think it is adorable when restaurants have little cubed jello pieces. But you know what else I love? Whipped cream.

The other day I wanted both jello and whipped cream at the same time, and I thought, I might as well put them together!! What a great idea. My first pie didn't turn out very well as it wasn't really a pie... But, hey, I got to experiment and eat the failures :). We turned the ruined pie into some kind of frozen cream mess (not quite ice cream...) and had it that way, so it wasn't that bad.

My second go around I decided to make this into an actual pie. Thus I made a crust and voila. Whipped Jello PIE.

Serving Size: 1 slice, makes 12 slices
Nutritional Information: 153 calories, 4g of carbs & 1g of fiber (3g net carbs), 14g of fat, 3g of protein. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Cooling Time: 2-3 hours

Your Ingredients:

The Crust

  • 1 cup of ground almond/almond flour
  • 4 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sweetener (I use Splenda)
The Filling
  • 1 pack of your favourite no sugar added Jello (I used Strawberry)
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract*
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 1 cup of cold water
*Vanilla is optional. I would only  use it with strawberry or raspberry flavours.

Your Tools:

  • A pie plate
  • two small/medium mixing bowls
  • a whisk and fork
  • a large mixing bowl and hand or stand mixer

The Directions:

Step 1 -
The first thing we will work on is the crust. Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix all crust ingredients into a small bowl using a fork. Grease your pie plate and press crust mix into the pie plate to form a crust. Pop the crust into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the edges of the crust have browned.

Step 2 -
In the other small mixing bowl, combine jello mix and 1 cup of boiling water. Stir until the mix is completely dissolved, then add 1 cup of cold water while continuing to stir. Pop this into the fridge for now.
Step 3 -
In a large mixing bowl, beat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until it is very stiff. This took me about 5 minutes. Your crust is probably done by now, so go ahead and pull it out of the oven. Let the crust stand for 5 minutes, then put it in the fridge. Refrigerate the whipped cream, jello, and crust for another 20 minutes. 

Step 4 -
Gradually add the jello mix to the whipped cream while continuing to beat the cream. Also add vanilla now if you're using it. Once everything is incorporated and looks like you emptied a tub of melted strawberry ice cream into a bowl you can stop mixing. Pour the creamy mixture into the pie crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (the longer the better). Enjoy!

Finished Product


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Avocado & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Helllllllllllllo beautiful people. I have missed chocolate chip cookies. They are very nostalgic for me. My mum always made the best ones and my favourite time to eat them was immediately out of the oven, with a small glass of milk. While I no longer ask my mum for home made chocolate chip cookies, I now know how to make my own... and much healthier! (though, missing that mother's love element...).

I am sharing this recipe because 1) avocados are a new discovery for me, having never in my life tasted one until 2013, and 2) chocolate chip cookies. These taste incredibly like "regular" chocolate chip cookies! They don't bake hard, like store-bought cookies. They bake super soft and stay soft, and taste great dipped in hot tea or coffee. Even the dough is remarkably similar to any chocolate chip cookie dough I've tasted.

I have had 8 people taste-test these cookies, and two have called me to ask for a batch. My mother, though she does not like sweetener even slightly, approved of them (but doesn't want more because the after taste of sweetener is strong for her). She has, though, asked me for the recipe so that she might make them for my step-dad. My dad wants a whole batch to himself. My brother, his GF, and her sister all loved them. And of course... My BF wants all baked goods all the time.

Needless to say I am very confident in this recipe!

Oh I would also like to prepare less experienced avocado-ers. Avocado, when cooked/baked/generally hot, has a weird and odd aftertaste. If you eat a cookie fresh out of the oven (admit it, you also love doing this. I know I'm not the only one), you will notice this slight taste. Once the cookies cool, the aftertaste disappears, and you may proceed to consume.

Let's take a look...

This picture is pretty blurry... whoops :( Guess you'll have to take a bite of your own cookie to properly see the inside

Serving Size: 1 cookie, makes 24 cookies
Nutritional Information: 85 cals, 4g of carbs & 2g of fiber (2g net carbs), 8g of fat, 2g of protein 

Prep Time: 30-40 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Your Ingredients:
  • ~100g* fresh avocado
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted** butter, room temperature
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract (pure or artificial)
  • 1 cup of granulated sweetener (I use Splenda)
  • 1 3/4 cups of almond flour/ground almond
  • 1/2 cup of coconut, finely shredded
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt (depending on how much you like salt... Both taste fine to me)
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 oz of chopped dark chocolate, 75% cocoa or higher (I use Lindt Ecuador. 2oz = ~6 squares)
*Remove the pit before weighing. The ones I buy tend to be pretty small, and one avocado without the pit is generally 80-110g. For this recipe I used 1 and 1/4 avocado because my first one was only 74g. If your avocado is only a few (i.e. 5g) above or below 100g, that is fine. Also, any breed of avocado will work.
**You can use salted butter. If you do, omit the salt required by the recipe.

Your Tools: 
  • Two medium mixing bowls
  • A hand or stand mixer
  • Cookie sheet & parchment paper
  • Knife & cutting board
  • measuring cups/spoons & kitchen scale etc etc...
The Directions:

Step 1 -
The first thing we're going to do is work on your avocado. I have some pictures to show you how to "peel" an avocado, or you could just scoop and scrape the avocado meat from the rind. 

For either method, the first step is to cut so it can be pulled apart. Start at the stem and cut long ways, to the bottom. Make sure to cut right to the pit.

Once cut, you should be able to twist apart the two halves (like we all USED to do with Oreos). This is easier the more ripe your avocado is.

Now you'll want to remove the pit. The pit is pretty soft so a good technique is to press a knife into it and lift/wiggle it out. If you don't want to risk slipping and cutting yourself, you can slip a spoon under the pit and try to pop it out that way.

At this point you can scoop the avocado flesh out of the rind. If you do this, make sure to also scrape all the darker green flesh from the rind and use it, as it is the best for you. I find that I make a big mess this way, so you could also...

... Peel your avocado :D. I prefer this method because my avocado pieces usually look really nice after. For this recipe it doesn't make a difference, but I'll show you anyway.

Basically, start by scoring the rind on the two halves of the avocado, long ways. I only put one score on each but you can do multiple to make peeling easier.

You should be able to use your fingers to separate the rind from the flesh. I typically can pull this off just by slipping my thumb under the corner and pushing back slowly (a spoon would also work).

While this method works for me 9/10 times, unfortunately...

I made a mess of the avocado and there is a lot of meat left on the rind :(...

Oh well. Like I said, it doesn't make a difference for this recipe.

Step 2 -
Okay, great. Now that the avocado is ready, put that with your butter in a medium mixing bowl. You can cut the butter into cubes or pats to help it blend a little easier. Mix these together until creamy.
What a deliciously creamy texture :D. and yes, I am baking without the kitchen light on. not because I want to save the planet, but because I just started having to pay for my own hydro...
Next, add the egg and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Add the granulated sweetener gradually as you mix the other things.
Step 3 -
Okay now we add everything else... but not all at once! First, all the almond flour and 1/4 cup of coconut (that is half what this recipe calls for), as well as the salt (if using), baking soda, and baking powder. Mix these ingredients on low until everything is incorporated.
Next add the chopped chocolate chips and the other 1/4 cup of coconut. Mix these together with a spoon or spatula, not the mixer.
I have this wonderfully cheap flexible "cutting board". It isn't silicone or anything, but it is marvelous for chopping and pouring things with minimal mess!

Step 4 -
Okay, everything's mixed and ready to go, right? Wrong. Now we chill the dough. Okay we don't have to chill the dough, but I find that the cookies are easier to form and also bake better when the dough is cold. Skip chilling if you are as impatient as I often am. If you want to chill the cookie dough, just pop the whole bowl as-is into the fridge or freezer for about 20-30 minutes. Also preheat your oven to 325F
This is a great time to clean up the mess you made.
30 minutes is up? Not yet? Okay during the last minute or so, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. There is no need to grease the paper, but if you feel better doing so, go right ahead. 
Make ball type shapes out of the cookie dough, and press them down gently. This recipe should make 24 cookies (or 23 if you ate the equivalent of 1 in raw cookie dough, as I did...). Also, these cookies don't "fall" or spread like "regular" cookies do, so if you only slightly press down the dough balls, your cookies will be very round. For flatter cookies, press flatter (obviously). Bake 12 cookies at a time for 17 minutes
This is the perfect time for you to take your cats outside for a quick frolic on the patio. Also to get pissed off that your cats don't respond to their name when they are outside (even though they do inside!). Also to get especially irritated when you try to bring them in, and one basically yells "JUST KIDDING" as he pretends to run inside, then proceeds to hop the neighbour's fence. Pfft. Leave him there... You have better things to do. Like assemble a vacuum. Or contemplate making another batch of cookies. Or a grocery list. Or a list of lists you should make.   

Step 5-
When the cookies are finished, move them to a wire cooling rack. Let cool. Consume. Enjoy. Or consume one while it is incredibly hot, curse about how hot it is, but enjoy how melty and soft it is. 
Finished Product
these were clearly pressed down more than the ones above

Monday, 3 June 2013

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Zucchini Rolls

Helllllllo. It's been a while. Again. Let's face it... This blog has to be put on the back burner when it comes to school and work also being on the list :(. 

But anyway. I was going to post avocado chocolate chip cookies today, but my friend thought these were a better option. So here is a savoury treat for your taste buds. These rolls really melt in your mouth. The soft zucchini slices combined with the cheese and spices make a great appetizer or side. The rolls I made were jam-packed with flavour. I loved it, but the BF isn't really into fancy spices... or cream cheese. So if you don't like cream cheese, shame on you! Just kidding. You could use any cheese, really. I would like to make these with goat cheese next... mmm, my favourite! 

If you don't like a lot of spices, or only really like one particular one just use that. I don't like to include spice measurements in my recipes. 1) I'm not very herb/spice savvy... 2) I don't always use the same spices, or same amounts, for one recipe, and 3) I know some people just really love garlic and prefer to use that. Our go-to spices are garlic, chili powder, and seasoning salt. For this recipe I sprinkled garlic and a tiny bit of seasoning salt on my zucchini slices while they were cooking, and added basil to the cheese. If you don't know what to do about spices you could buy flavoured cream cheese and let Kraft do the work for you. 

So let's take a look at what we're making:

no, not the steak.
Serving Size: 4 rolls, makes 8
Nutritional Information: 112 cals, 4g of carbs and 1g of fiber (3g net carbs), 9g of fat, 5g of protein 
These nutritional values listed do not include bacon or butter/oil. 

Prep Time: 45+ minutes
Cooking Time: 15-25 minutes (depending on whether or not you pop these into the oven after prep)

Your Ingredients:
  • 1 medium zucchini (should yield ~8 slices, excluding outermost skin slices)
  • 1/4 cup of cream cheese (room temp. or slightly warmed)
  • 1 tbsp of unsalted butter, or olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese
  • choice spices 
  • choice filler item*
* I mixed bacon bits with the cream cheese because I already had them made up from a previous meal. Other possible variations: diced cherry tomatoes, chopped olives, garlic pieces, diced jalapeno peppers, chopped red or green onion, salsa, roasted red peppers, etc... Be creative :). 

Your Tools:
  • a mandolin slicer or other slicing tool... a knife for this task is not ideal as you'll want consistent thickness
  • An oven and a frying pan (or a grill... or similar device)
  • A small or medium mixing bowl and a spoon
  • A wire cooling rack
The Directions:

Step 1 -
Start out by prepping your zucchini. Chop the ends off each zucchini and discard. Slice each zucchini using your mandolin slicer or similar tool. If you don't have such a tool, try to make the slices about 1/8th of an inch thick. Discard (or eat... or save) the slices that are entirely skin on one side. Wipe each slice with a paper towel, then move on to step 2.
I am processing 3 zucchinis, but am definitely not using all the slices for this recipe. I need the other 16 slices for things. 
I got 24 slices total so that's 8 slices each!
Step 2 -
Dry out your zucchini (as much as we can)! Line a flat surface, ideally a cutting board, with a sheet or two of paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and lay as many slices of zucchini will fit over top. Lightly sprinkle the topside of the slices. Place a sheet or two of paper towel over those slices. Repeat the process (one layer on top of another) until all the zucchini is salted. Place something heavy-ish on the pile and leave it be for 30+ minutes. I have a really solid wooden cutting block that I use. I also tend to do this part as early as possible so I can just leave them to sit and "drain" while I do other things. In this case, I did these an hour or so before I was going to make dinner (while I was baking dessert, actually!) 

Step 3 -
While the zucchini is drying out (or when you're just about ready to work with the zucchini) go ahead and mix your roll filling. I forgot to take my cream cheese out early to let it warm, so I ended up popping it in the microwave for 10 seconds, which did the trick. You want the cream cheese to be soft, so definitely either take it out early to let it reach room temperature, or warm it up in the microwave. If the cream cheese is soft it will be easier to a) mix it, and b) spread it. If you try to spread hard cream cheese on a slice of zucchini, you will ruin the zucchini... poor things are very fragile!
Mix whatever filling (you can never go wrong with bacon bits!) you decided on, the parmesan cheese, and spices, with the cream cheese. Set this aside. 
Step 4 -
Preheat either your frying pan, or grill, to about medium in order to get ready for the zucchini slices. I used a 12 inch frying pan because my G.F. grill is still packed (and we don't have a BBQ anymore...). Drop some unsalted butter, or oil, into the pan.
Remove all pieces of paper towel from the zucchini slices. Wipe each side of each slice to remove excess water. Once the pan is nice and hot, lay your slices of zucchini in it, browning each side (this took about 5ish minutes for each side for me). 

Step 5 -
Lay your fried/grilled zucchini slices across a wire cooling rack until they are cool enough to work with. 
Once cool, proceed to smother each slice with the filling you've mixed up! Then roll each slice, starting with the thinner end, and serve. I ended up popping mine in the oven as I wanted to serve them hot with our steaks. So I started preheating the oven to 350F while I was frying the slices of zucchini. I left them in the oven for about 10 minutes and served them.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

[CopyCat] Kitchen Sink Casserole

Okay, time to get back into the swing of things here. Exams are finally finished, and I've moved into a new place! I'm starting to get settled, too, and get my kitchen in order - tons more counter/cooking space and room for more kitchen accessories! Huzzah!

Following up from my last post, which I realize was a long time ago, I am posting another casserole dish. In particular, kitchen sink casserole. This is one of my favourites as it reminds me of hamburger helper. I love(d) that stuff! I never thought to make this, though, until my friend pointed me in the direction of this blog. There are tons of big meal recipes here that are intended to last a week. I love such recipes because they are great for a two-person household. Lunches and dinners! Yum! Try out the kitchen sink casserole recipe over at Caveman Keto if you want something jam-packed with stuff. My take is a little on the lighter side yet still satisfyingly filling.

You can use just about any meats with this recipe - I've used chicken breast, chicken thighs, ground beef, cubed beef, cubed pork, extra bacon... Though not all at once. I imagine you could also try it with tuna (yum, tuna casserole). Since the main meat choice is totally up to you, the nutritional values here excludes any meat other than bacon.

Serves: 6
Nutritional Information: 200 cals, 3 of carbs & 1g of fiber (2g net carbs), 18g of fat, 8g of protein

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 40

Your Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of your choice of meat (I've used chicken in these pictures)
  • 6 slices of bacon (I use reduced sodium bacon)
  • 2 cups of cauliflower florets (broccoli florets also work)
  • 1 cup of sliced white mushrooms
  • 1-2 tbsp of unsalted butter, or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of mayo
  • 2 tbsp of cream cheese (I am using light cream cheese)
  • 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese
  • ~130g of cheddar cheese
Sometimes I add other veggies into the mix, such as sliced green peppers, a bit of diced tomato, wax beans. Be creative!

Your Tools:
  • a baking pan large enough for anything from 1.5-3 quarts. I honestly can't remember which I used
  • a baking sheet & aluminum foil
  • a microwavable dish, or veggie steamer
  • a frying pan & utensils
  • aluminum foil
  • measuring cups
  • a cheese grater
  • a mixing bowl
The Directions:

A tip from Caveman Keto, which I agree with: try to multitask and have multiple things cooking at the same time, so you're not doing a lot of waiting around.

Step 1 -
Cover your baking/cookie sheet in aluminum foil and lay your bacon strips out on it. Pop it in the oven and turn up the heat to 350F (no need to preheat, the bacon will cook nicely as the oven heats up). 
Put the cream cheese in a bowl on top of the stove now (unless you took it out earlier to let it soften). 
Step 2 -
Chop up your desired meat into whatever shapes/sizes you feel appropriate. I "cube" most of my meat into 1 inch or smaller. Toss these in a frying pan with some butter or oil and fry on medium.
Cut/break your cauliflower (or broccoli) into florets or just chop it up into small pieces, roughly the same size or smaller than your meat. Using a microwaveable container, zap (or use a steamer!) your florets/pieces for 3-5 minutes. Zap a bit longer if the veggies are still hard.
Chop your mushrooms as well. If you're using green pepper, I suggest slicing that relatively thinly so it cooks nicely. When the meat is just about cooked, toss all the chopped veggies (except the florets) into the same, or a different pan. Continue to fry the mixture over medium heat.
Grate your cheddar cheese and set aside. 
Step 3 -
If your oven has finished heating up, the bacon should be ready. If not, leave it in for a couple minutes (or until it is cooked the way you like it). I find that for such recipes, softer bacon is better. If it is finished, take it out of the oven (leave the oven on!) and transfer the slices to some paper towel to drain. Or don't drain them if you want all that grease. Your call. In any case, let the slices cool so you can handle them later. Once cool, chop/cut/rip the pieces into smallish bits. 
Your florets should also be just about ready. To check, stick your fork in one. If it goes in easily, and they are kind of soft, the florets are ready. Also check those frying veggies!
Step 4 -
Dump meats and veggies into a mixing bowl. Add cheeses and mayo and stir. Feel free to add any spices you desire at this point. Transfer your mix into the baking pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Then, for 5-10 minutes, broil the casserole.

Step 5 -
Remove casserole from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Sunday, 31 March 2013

Zucchini Lasagna

Happy Easter! The only interesting things I've done this weekend (other than a deliciously huge breakfast with family today) is bake, play Bioshock Infinite, and get a new phone. Yea, no school work for me this weekend... Not because I'm done it all. Just because, well. Because.

If you're doing low-carb but always loved pasta, or you're like me and you can't get over that taste explosion of a casserole, you might want to check out some recipe using alternative "noodles". Many veggies can be used in place of noodles. However some people worry about over-powering tastes and textures. And these people are right, some veggies just aren't for everyone! I make many "pasta" dishes (such as spaghetti, lasagna, and "hamburger helper" type dishes) using several different veggies in place of noodles. In the upcoming weeks I will post a few more. Here are some examples to get us started:

This pale and cheesy casserole features my favourite "noodle". Can you tell what it is just by looking at it?
Of course, another casserole. We love them in our house. There's only two of us so they  end up being meals for days! Lunch to go, and left over dinner. Mmm. 
Who doesn't love a savoury kitchen sink casserole?
As mentioned, casseroles are a great lasting meal. Fresh veggies aren't even necessary, especially for the kitchen sink casserole (I mean if you have some left over steamed broccoli, toss that in your casserole! Yum!). If you are on your own a 9x13 casserole can provide lunch and dinner for a week. If it happens to be 2 or 3 people, maybe dinner for a week. Since there is two of us, I like to freeze at least two-three servings (for those days when I really don't want to cook), and portion the rest into lunch containers.

The lasagna we're going to make today is another recipe that I have used tons of times but just never bothered to post. Well now I'll do that. In order to have a "pasta" meal, we need some kind of "noodle". So for this dish we use zucchini. I know this is not uncommonly done, but unless you are experienced with making alternative "pasta" dishes, you might think "ugh why zucchini?". Well it's nutritious for one (check out this link, or do a google search for more information on the health benefits of zucchini). It also has a very mild flavour, especially when paired with other flavourful things - the zucchini will not over-power the other things in your meal. You will notice, however, that zucchini doesn't have that chewy pasta texture. Which is great. More cheese, meat, and saucy flavours/textures!

Let's take a look at today's dinner...

Very cheesy, very filling, low-carb dinner

Servings: 12
Nutritional Information: 417 cals, 9g carbs & 2g fiber (7g net carbs), 26g fat, 34g protein

Prep Time: 20-40 minutes (~20 minutes just for zucchini)
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Your Ingredients:

The "Pasta"
  • 4 medium zucchinis 
  • salt
The Cheese Layers
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese (I used small curd 4%m.f.)
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 120g mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • choice seasoning
The Meaty Layers
  • 2lbs of ground beef* (I use medium)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup choice pasta sauce (Original Ragu is what I generally use but other tomato sauces work)
  • choice spices (I use chilli powder, minced garlic, and some salt)
Your Tools:
  • Cutting board, and knife or mandoline slicer (e.g., this is the one I have)
  • Some paper towels
  • One medium-large mixing bowl
  • A pot big enough for 2lbs of ground beef & sauce
  • A 3 quart casserole dish (9x13 inches)
  • A wooden spoon or spatula, and a whisk
*If you don't want a lot of meat you can opt to use 1lb and still make a lasagna with the same dimensions. I've done this and it is still pretty filling. Nutritional values and instructions will be for 2lbs. 

The Directions:

Step 1 -
The first thing we need to do is deal with making a fauxpasta for our noodles. Cut the ends off all 4 zucchini. Slice (about 1/8th of an inch) each longways to make noodles. As listed under "Your Tools", a mandoline makes slicing much easier and the noodles more uniform. When finished, wipe each slice (both sides) with a paper towel to remove excess water.
Zucchini is a very watery squash. The water will present itself while cooking the zucchini. Unfortunately, our lasagna will be very runny... Unless we can get some of that moisture out! Let's do that. Put a sheet or two of paper towel on a flat surface (like your counter or another cutting board), sprinkle salt on it, then lay some slices of zucchini over the salted paper towel. Lightly salt the topside of the slices, and cover with another sheet or two of paper towel. Repeat this process until all your zucchini is salted. Put something heavy-ish (I have a pretty solid cutting board I use) on the pile.  

Step 2-5 -
While the zucchini sweats we can get started on the rest of the meal. You'll want to do these next few things at roughly the same time, so everything is ready when actually building the lasagna. First preheat your oven to 350F.
Put your ground beef in a medium sauce pan with about 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of water. Cook on medium heat.
Shred mozzarella cheese
While the beef cooks, whisk eggs in the mixing bowl. Add the cottage cheese and any seasoning you prefer. Add the parmesan cheese. Whisk together until blended and set aside. 
When the ground beef has browned, drain in a colander to remove fat and water. Put the drained beef back in the pot. Add seasoning and stir. Tomato paste and pasta sauce and stir. Heat on low-medium for a 2-4 minutes and then remove from heat.
Step 6 & however many layers... -
After 10-20 minutes remove paper towels and wipe excess water off the zucchini strips.
Line the bottom of your 3 quart casserole dish with some of the egg & cottage cheese mixture. We want 2-4 layers of cheese and meat so don't put it all in right away. Add some meatsauce, then some zucchini noodles. Make sure new sweat beads didn't form on your noodles before putting them in the casserole dish. Repeat this process until you run out of cheese and meat, or noodles. Top it all with the shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake lasagna for 40 minutes. Broil for an additional 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 10-15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
The Finished Product

As you can see, even after extracting some moisture, water still seeps out! There are other more involved methods (such as grilling or baking the slices before using them as noodles) you can try if you find your lasagna to be TOO watery. I find that the lasagna itself doesn't have a watery taste or texture and so I'm willing to deal with this result.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

[CopyCat] Egg Buns

What do you do if you have a bunch of lunch meat and you really want a sammich? You could slap that lunch meat between some cheese and nice green leafy lettuce (not iceberg lettuce, yuck). I mean that is pretty delicious with some mayo in there too. Or you could make my flaxbread recipe. 

But what if you want pulled pork? Or a cheeseburger? Or low-carb Sloppy Joe's? Aside from eating all the many delicious sandwich type things with a fork and/or knife (or with your bare hands like a boss), what do you do!?!?! Okay, okay. I know this isn't a crisis and there are many alternative breads and things you could try, or just not have them at all. But what I have here are light and fluffy egg buns!

BEFORE I CONTINUE: I did not create this recipe! I scoured the world wide web for freaking ever looking for a light, fluffy bread alternative. I found one. Please, please check out Fluffy Chix's Revolutionary Low-Carb buns. Now, I have not made the same recipe that Fluffy Chix provides which is why I am making this post. The recipe I've used is rather similar but missing a few ingredients (when I found this recipe I didn't have all those fancy ingredients, so I skipped them! No disrespect to FluffyChix for using such ingredients, or those of you who prefer to use her recipe.), so I like to think of this as a simpler contribution.

slow-cooked (12 hours) pulled pork on light and fluffy egg buns! And I spilled some baking powder on my counter which is why it is on top of this bun. Whoops.
Serving Size: 1 bun, makes ~12
Nutritional Information: 82 cals, 2g of carbs, 5g of fat, 9g of protein

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Your Ingredients:

  • 8 large eggs, separated*
  • 1/2 cup of cottage cheese (I used 4%m.f.)
  • 60g of mozzarella cheese (I used part skim)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or garlic salt if you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 scoop (~35g) of unflavoured whey protein powder 

Your Tools:

  • Two large glass or stainless steel mixing bowls (one for beaten egg whites, one for the final batter)
  • One small or medium mixing bowl (for dry ingredients)
  • A hand or stand mixer
  • A food processor or blender
  • A cheese grater
  • A spatula
  • Aluminum foil OR appropriately shaped baking molds/trays (e.g., muffin top tray)**
* Don't be intimidated, separating eggs is super easy! And sometimes even fun. For those of you who don't know how to do it, there are explanations/demonstrations below.
** Fluffy Chix recommends creating your own molds. I agree. Find something around your house that is the shape/size bun you want and make about 8-10 molds (for larger sandwich buns) or 12 (for smaller sized hamburger buns). I may or may not have cut my finger on the aluminum foil while making my molds, but I'm sure it is possible. Be careful!

The Directions:

Step 1 -
Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease aluminum molds or baking trays. 
Step 2 -
You will need all 8 eggs separated, so do that now. If you're not sure how to go about this, there are a few techniques you can try aside from using an egg separator. 

proof that I can do this method
  1. Drain the eggs: You can gently tap a whole in the top of the egg and slowly drain the whites out, but this will take a lot of time for 8 eggs.
  2. Use the egg shells: I use this method a lot. It can be messy but doesn't take too much time. Essentially you crack the egg around the middle as best you can, without dumping the whites & yolk out. Now "pass" the yolk between the two halves and the whites will start to fall off. 
  3. Use a water bottle: Make sure the water bottle is clean. Break eggs into a bowl, squeeze the water bottle and position the mouth of the bottle gently against a yolk. Release the pressure on the water bottle and it should suck the yolk up. You can put the yolk in another bowl by squeezing the bottle again. Click here for a silly demonstration of how to use this method
  4. Use your hands: This method is messy but effective. You can either crack the egg and dump it into your hand, letting the whites fall off, or you can crack all your eggs into a bowl and just fish them out.

As you can see, I did end up breaking one yolk (with the water bottle method). but it didn't break until AFTER it was separated! huzzah
Alright, now that your eggs are separated go ahead and get that mozzarella cheese grated too. Then, combine all dry ingredients in one of the small/medium bowls. 
Step 3 -
Process the cottage cheese until it looks like yogurt and put it in the bowl with the egg yolks. Put these ingredients, the grated cheese, and the dry ingredients, into your blender. Blend until it is kind of smooth (you'll probably have some mozza chunks still). Put the mixture back in the bowl and set aside.
Step 4 -
Grab your bowl of egg whites and hand or stand mixer, it is time to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks! Start out with a low speed and gradually increase to a medium, then high once the whites start to get foamy. Note: normally this would be when you add the cream of tartar as Fluffy Chix listed in her recipe, but I omitted this ingredient. The cream of tartar stabilizes the foam created with the egg whites but I have had no issues without it, which I attribute to the eggs still being pretty cool when I beat them (cold egg whites create a more stable foam, but room-temp egg whites get more volume). 
the egg whites are done once you can do this and not have them slide all over the place. we want "stiff peaks"!

Step 5 -
Put about a third of your egg whites into the yolk mixture and gently stir together to loosen your batter. Once the whites are incorporated, add another third of the whites and gently fold them in (folding is not like mixing or stirring! Please check out this link for instructions. Thanks, Youtube). Finally, add the rest of the egg whites and fold again.

Step 6 -
Divide your batter evenly among the aluminum molds or baking trays you're using. Put them in the oven and immediately drop the temperature to 325F. Bake for 45 minutes or so.
homemade hamburger bun molds, which may or may not have cut me.

it's a donut tray. two of these = one bun like pictured above
A couple times making this recipe I've noticed that the buns are still sort of moist once cut. If this happens you can toss them back in the oven (cut side up) for a few minutes, but you risk drying the outside too much. Alternatively I have left them out to air for a while before actually making dinner. The slight moistness is not noticeable once you top the buns with things, though, so it might be a non-issue for you.
Be sure to refrigerate your buns!
Finished Product

the ones on the left are from the donut tray