Zucchini Pizza Boats

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Anyone’s New Year’s resolution involve dieting?  I know at our house it does.  Yes, now that the holidays have been put away it’s time to get back to normal eating and perhaps back to a diet.

To my husband that means eating low-carb and even Keto.  Whenever he went on one of his strict no carb diets I always ended up making 2 different dinners, no or low carb for  him and normal for the grandkids.  Well not this year!  I decided that low-carb or Keto friendly doesn’t mean that those not on diets can’t enjoy the same foods.  Seriously!  So I embarked on a journey to find dishes that would meet my husband’s needs and be tasty enough for the whole family!  I’ll be sharing recipes as I go!

My first keto friendly dish enjoyed by everyone in the house are these Zucchini Pizza Boats.  They are absolutely delicious, even for those who don’t particularly care for zucchini.  (That would be the grandson who refused to eat anything “green”! But he loves these Pizza Boats!)

This is such as easy recipe to make and it is seriously yummy!  It’s a great way to get the kids to eat their veggies!

They’re a meal on their own, but feel free to serve them with Garlic Bread if you feel the need for carbs.  I serve them with a nice crisp salad of mixed greens with Italian dressing.  Very nutritious!

The recipe calls for Marinara Sauce, you can use store bought, your favorite homemade sauce, or try some of my yummy homemade Marinara Sauce.

Zucchini Pizza Boats

Ingredients:

3 Large Zucchini

1 Tbs. Olive OIl

1 Lb. Ground Beef

1 Tbs. Garlic Powder

1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning

2 Cups Marinara Sauce

1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese

1 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Cooking spray

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Spray 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat oil in frying pan.

Place ground beef in pan and add garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

Cook until meat is crumbly.

Add marinara sauce and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10-15 minutes.

Combine 3 cheeses and stir in half of cheese mixture into beef mixture.  Set aside.

Cut off zucchini stems and cut each zucchini in half lengthwise.

Using a melon baller scoop out insides of zucchini, save the insides for later uses.

Place Zucchini boats on to baking pan.

Spoon meat mixture into each boat making sure each boat is filled to the brim.

Sprinkle remaining cheese over each boat.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and started to turn brown.

Serve hot with salad or garlic bread.

 

Zucchini Pizza Boats
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Zucchini Pizza Boats
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. Heat oil in frying pan. Place ground beef in pan and add garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Cook until meat is crumbly. Add marinara sauce and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10-15 minutes. Combine 3 cheeses and stir in half of cheese mixture into beef mixture.  Set aside. Cut off zucchini stems and cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller scoop out insides of zucchini, save the insides for later uses. Place Zucchini boats on to baking pan. Spoon meat mixture into each boat making sure each boat is filled to the brim. Sprinkle remaining cheese over each boat. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and started to turn brown.  Serve hot with salad or garlic bread.
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Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish

Macluba

Maqluba is a Levantine dish popular in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.  The name literally means “upside down” because the meat, vegetables, and rice are stacked in a handleless pot to cook, then flipped over and placed on a large tray for serving.

These days Maqluba is described as a one pot dish, which I suppose it could be; assuming you don’t count the pot you stew the meat in, and the pan you fry the veggies in.  Not to mention the bowl you soak the rice in, and if you’re adding vermicelli and pine nuts the pan you brown the pasta and nuts in.

Maqluba is very similar to Paella which is also a one pot dish composed of meat or seafood, veggies, and rice.  Considering that many parts of Spain was under Moorish rule for a total of about 800 years it would be fair to say that Paella is the Spanish version of Maqluba or vice versa.

It is honestly the only Arabic dish I can claim to have mastered.  After years of making Maqluba I’ve finally gotten it right every single time.  It’s really not that difficult to make, it’s just tedious due to all the steps in the recipe and the time it takes to make it.  If you count the time it takes to soak the rice this dish takes all day to make, at the very least about 3  hours.  But it is truly worth the time and effort.

Maqluba is typically made with stewed meat, either lamb, beef, or chicken; fried vegetables such as potatoes, cauliflower, or eggplant; and rice.  All the ingredients are stacked in that order into a large deep pot preferably without handles.  Of course you can omit the meat and make a vegetarian dish.

There are “enhancements” you can add to make the dish fancier.  Some folks like to mix vermicelli and even garbanzo beans in the rice before cooking, then sprinkle it with pine nuts before serving.  And of course in our family I slip tomato wedges between the meat before cooking, and some of us like to top the cooked dish with corn kernels and plain yogurt.  In short I suppose each family has it’s own version on how to cook and eat Maqluba.  But one thing is certain, it’s delicious!

Here’s how we make it at our house, but first here’s a quick tip.  When making Maqluba use a deeper pot with no handles (a maqluba pot is the best, but hard to find in the US, you may find one at a middle eastern grocery store) and a lid, or a pot with removable handles or handles that aren’t too close to the pot lip.  This will make flipping it over easier as handles can block the tray you flip it on to from laying flat on top of the pot.  The pot has to be deep enough to layer the ingredients and still have enough space for the rice to expand as it cooks.

Maqcluba

Ingrdients:

4-5 Cups Long Grain Rice

1 Tbs. Turmeric Powder

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

8-10 pieces of meat (lamb, beef, or bone in chicken thighs)

1 Large Onion, cut in chunks

1 Tbs. Garlic, crushed

1 Tbs. + 1 Tsp. Ground Cumin

1 Tsp. + 1 Tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Box Stock (beef or chicken depending on the meat you use)

1 Large Cauliflower, cut into chunks

1 Large Eggplant, cut into rounds

3 Potatoes, peeled and cut into rounds

Oil for frying

Cooking spray

2 Tomatoes cut in wedges

6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled

Vermicelli (Optional)

1 Can Garbanzo Beans, drained (Optional)

1/2 Cup Pine Nuts (Optional)

Butter (Optional)

1 Can Corn Kernels (Optional)

1 Cup Fresh Plain Greek Yogurt (Optional)

Directions:

Place rice in a big bowl and cover with water.

Add Turmeric to water and stir until it is evenly distributed and water turns yellow.  Set aside for at least 2 hours. Check periodically as the rice will absorb the water.  If all the water is absorbed add more and stir.

Heat olive oil in a stock pot.

Saute onions in hot oil until it starts to turn translucent.

Add crushed garlic and cook another minute, stir to keep from burning.

Add meat, 1 Tbs. Cumin, 1 Tsp. Nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Cook until meat starts to brown.

Add stock and then add water to completely cover the meat.

Let simmer until meat is tender and fully cooked.  About 2 hours.  Set aside when done.

Meanwhile place about 1″ oil in frying pan.

Fry your veggies until cooked and drain on paper towels.  Set aside.

If using Vermicelli and/or Pine Nuts:  Melt about 1 tbs. butter in a small frying pan.  Add vermicelli and cook until it starts to turn brown, stir constantly to keep from burning.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Repeat this procedure with Pine Nuts.

When ready to stack meat in the pot:

Spray bottom and sides of pot with cooking spray.

Drain rice then stir in vermicelli noodles and/or garbanzo beans if using.

Starting with the meat, remove meat from pot it was cooked it, reserve the broth do not discard.

Arrange meat at the bottom of the pot.

Slip garlic cloves and tomato wedges between the meat.

Sprinkle meat with 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. nutmeg.

Arrange veggies on top of meat.

Pour rice mixture over the veggies and smooth out to make the top flat.

Gently pour reserved broth over the rice.  Fill until the broth just covers the rice, if you don’t have enough broth add water.

Cover with lid and simmer over medium heat until rice is cooked.  Check every 10 minutes or so to make sure the liquid has not all evaporated before the rice is cooked.  If you need to add more liquid, either broth or water.  This takes about 30 minutes.

If the rice is cooked and you still have liquid remove lid and raise the heat for about 5 minutes so that the rest of the liquid evaporates.  Be careful not to burn the bottom.  Or you can carefully drain extra liquid before flipping.

When rice is cooked and there is no more liquid remove pot from lid.  Let rest about 5 minutes.

Flip over onto a large tray.

Garnish with cooked Pine Nuts on the meat if desired.

Serve with bowls of corn kernels and plain yogurt.

 

 

Maqluba an Upside Down Arabic Dish
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50 Minutes Serves 4Easy

50 Minutes Serves 4Easy

Serves 4

Easy

This recipe for beef fillet with spiced pears and chestnut pickle is easy to make but offers something a little bit different during the colder months. Buy chestnuts ready-peeled for ease.

SPICED PEARS AND CHESTNUT PICKLE

  • ginger 1cm piece, finely chopped
  • red chilli flakes a pinch
  • olive oil 2 tbsp

  • red wine vinegar 150ml

 

 

  • light muscovado sugar 3 tbsp
  • pears 3 or 4 small
  • cooked chestnuts 60g, sliced or halved

Method

  • STEP 1 Make the pickle ahead. Put the ginger, red chilli flakes, olive oil, red wine vinegar and sugar in a small pan and bring to a simmer. Peel the pears, cut them into halves or quarters and core. Drop them into the hot mixture with the chestnuts and leave to cool completely, turning the pears over once. Lift the pears out of the mix and put them in a bowl. Simmer the liquid until it is thicker and stickier, season, and pour over the pears. This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

  • STEP 2 Season the beef with plenty of salt and pepper and leave to dry and come up to room temperature for an hour.

 

  • STEP 3 Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and sear the beef well on all sides, then put it in a roasting tin. Roast for 20 minutes for rare beef (another 10 minutes for medium-rare), cover with foil and a tea towel, then rest for 20 minutes. Slice into thick rounds and lay down the centre of a serving dish. Arrange the pears down the centre of the beef, stir any meat juices into the sauce and spoon it and the chestnuts over the pears.


50 Minutes Serves 4Easy
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Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kabobs

Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kabobs

Kalbi KabobsOne of our favorite food is Korean Kalbi, or barbecued beef short ribs.  We usually order this at one of the local fast food Korean restaurants, but it’s pretty pricey; you get 3 thin short ribs, a couple of scoops of steamed white rice, and a choice of 4 side dishes (kim chee, bean sprouts, tofu, etc.) for a over $12 a plate.

My husband’s main complaint about the local restaurants isn’t the the price or the serving size of the kalbi, it’s about the flimsy plastic utensils they provide which usually snaps in half the moment you try to cut into the meat.  Hence he has decided not to patronize any of the fast food style Korean barbecue joints.

There are sit down Korean restaurants where you can grill your own meats, the meal comes with many side dishes, soup, and steamed rice; but they also come with a hefty price tag.  The last time my girlfriend and I stopped at one for lunch it cost us a little bit over $65, and that’s without drinks or tip! Not to mention that was the least expensive barbecue dish on the menu!  The food was good, specially the kalbi, but I’m sure we won’t be repeating it often.

To solve all these issues I’ve found a great Korean Kalbi recipe to make at home.  I make it of our Sunday barbecue and it was a big hit with my family.  I used thin cut boneless beef short ribs which I threaded  on to bamboo skewers to make them into kebabs.  You can use bone-in short ribs and don’t have to thread them on to skewers, I do however recommend that you use the thinner cuts so that the marinade will infuse the meat better.

I served this with steamed white rice, macaroni salad, and kim chee cabbage;  it was even better than the plates we get at the Korean restaurants at less than half the price! (The short ribs cost $6.97 a pound, if you get the thin cut that’s 6 short ribs).

Another way to serve this is on small white corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, just like the Korean Kalbi Tacos from the food truck in L.A.!  We served it this way for my mom’s 80th. birthday party a few years ago.

Just in time for your Labor Day barbecue!  Here’s my recipe!
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Makes 18 skewers
Ingredients:
3 lbs. thin cut boneless beef short ribs (you should get 18 short ribs.  You can use bone-in ribs if you prefer)
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbls. fresh ginger – finely grated
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbls. minced garlic
1 tbls. white sesame seeds
1 tbls. black sesame seeds
2 stalks green onions – chopped
Directions:
1.  Cut short ribs into thirds if you will be threading them on to skewers, if not then don’t cut them.
2.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  Mix until sugar dissolves.
3.  Pour marinade into large ziplock bag.
4.  Put meat into marinade and marinate in the fridge overnight.
5.  Thread meat on to skewers and barbecue on the grill to desired doneness.  If you’re not making kebabs then cook ribs on the grill until done.
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Serve hot immediately off the grill.
Looking for more grilling inspiration?  Check out PersonalCreations.com and see how people grill around the world!

 

 

 

Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
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Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Skewers
Instructions
  1. Cut short ribs into thirds if you will be threading them on to skewers, if not then don't cut them.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix until sugar dissolves.
  3. Pour marinade into large ziploc bag.
  4. Put meat into marinade and marinate in the fridge overnight.
  5. Thread meat on to skewers and barbecue on the grill to desired doneness. If you're not making kebabs then cook ribs on the grill until done.
  6. Serve hot immediately off the grill.
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Pretzel Dogs

Pretzel Dogs

 

Pretzel Dogs are another family favorite.  The kids buy them from the Pretzel stands at the mall all the time.  But they’ve gotten very pricey lately.

Before I continue you might be wondering what is the difference between Pigs in Blankets and Pretzel Dogs.  The answer is quite simple Pigs in Blankets are wrapped in refrigerated Crescent Dough and Pretzel Dogs are wrapped in pretzel dough.  Now which is better you ask, they’re both good.  It just depends on how much time you want to invest into making them and also the taste you’re trying to achieve.  For parties when you need to make a lot Pigs in Blankets are much easier to make.

Since I started making homemade pretzels, first the easy no dipping pretzels I made before graduating to the “real” pretzels, I thought why not make my own Pretzel Dogs.  These Pretzel Dogs are pretty easy to make, they use my Pretzel Bites recipe which is modified to wrap around hot dogs.

These Pretzel Dogs are great for lunch an snacks.  They sure come in handy this summer when the grandkids are home and are always looking for something to eat.  Best of all you can make 10 Pretzels Dogs for less than the price of one you buy at the mall!

To make these Pretzel Dogs you will need to make a batch of the dough I use in the Pretzel Bites, it’s the exact same dough but shaped a bit differently.  Here’s my recipe!

Pretzel Dogs

Ingredients:

Pretzel Bites Dough   click here for the recipe

10 Hot Dogs (I use all beef hot dogs like Hebrew National or Nathan’s)

Directions:

Follow the directions for Pretzel Bites until you get to the step where you roll the dough into 10 ropes, which you do as you wait for the Baking Soda Bath to boil.  Proceed as directed below.

Make 10 dough ropes – each one should be at least 2-3 times as long as your hot dog.

Wrap each rope on a hot dog.  Leave the ends of the hot dogs unwrapped.  Refer to the picture above.  Tuck dough ends and pinch the seams to keep them from unraveling.

Drop each wrapped hot dog into the Baking Soda Bath.

Allow them to boil in the bath until they float, about 30-45 seconds.

Remove from bath and place on prepared baking sheet.

Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake in 450 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.

Remove from oven and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

 

 

Pretzel Dogs
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Lumpia – Filipino Egg Rolls

Lumpia – Filipino Egg Rolls

Lumpia is the Philippines’ version of Egg Rolls.  Like so many other Asian countries the Filipino Lumpia comes in many varieties.

There is Lumpiang Sariwa or “Fresh Lumpia” that are very thin crepe like wrappers that are filled with stir fried vegetables, shrimp, meats, or a combination of them.  Lumpiang Shanghai are meat filled deep fried egg rolls that are tightly wrapped to look like thin cigars or are cut into smaller pieces when served as appetizers, they are usually served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.  Then there are fried lumpia that closely resemble spring rolls.  Fried Lumpia can be filled with just about anything including ripe bananas which are actually called Turon or Banana Lumpia.

Fried Lumpia is a favorite in my house; I make them by the dozen and freeze them so we always have some on hand.  Making fried lumpia is pretty easy since I usually toss in whatever I have on hand including ground beef, green beans, tofu, carrots, bean sprouts, potatoes, and onions.  You can put any combination of meats, seafood, and veggies in a fried lumpia, it’s really not complicated.  Whatever ends up as my filling I always serve it with a garlic vinegar sauce, my family loves it!

Today I’ll share my version of Fried Lumpia.  I’ll list ingredients just remember they’re all pretty much optional and you can toss in whatever you prefer; but use at least 3 of the optional items in your filling.  You can buy frozen egg roll wrappers at any Asian Market, most packages contain 25 wrappers.

Fried Lumpia

Ingredients:

1 or 2 Package Egg Roll Wrapper – thawed

1 Lb. Ground Beef – but you can use pork, chicken, turkey, or shrimp instead

1 Small Onion Chopped

1 Tbs. Garlic Minced

2-3 Potatoes – Cooked and cubed (optional)

2 Cups Bean Sprouts (optional)

1 Package Firm Tofu – cut into small cubes

1 Cup Shredded Carrots (optional)

1 Cup Fresh String Beans – Thinly sliced (optional)

1 Cup Shredded Cabbage (optional)

1/8 Cup Soy Sauce

1/2 Tsp. Salt

1/2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Egg slightly beaten (to seal wrappers)

Oil for frying

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 Cup White or Rice Vinegar

1/2 Tsp. Garlic Minced

1/4 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1/4 Tsp. Chili Pepper Flakes (optional)

Directions:

Heat about 1 Tbl. of oil in a wok or large skillet.

Saute chopped onions until they start to turn translucent.

Add minced garlic and saute for about 1 minute, be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add ground beef or whatever meat you are using.  If you are using shrimp add them later after veggies have cooked as shrimp cook quickly and will over cook if you have to cook veggies.

Add salt and pepper.  Cook until meat is well done and crumbly.

Add beans, carrots, cabbage if you are using them.  Cook until soft.

Add Bean Sprouts and cook until soft.

Gently stir in Tofu and soy sauce.

Remove from heat, drain liquid from pan, and set aside.

Thaw egg roll wrappers and remove from package.

Separate wrappers being careful not to tear.  Place on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  You will be using one wrapper at a time so keep the others under the damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Take one wrapper and place on flat surface.

Place about 1 to 1 1/2 heaping tbl. of filling along one side of the wrapper.

Fold over both ends and roll like a burrito.

Brush some beaten egg on the wrapper to seal.

Place on a plate if you will be frying the same day or place in freezer bag if you plan on freezing them for later.

Repeat until you use all the wrappers.

When you’re ready to fry heat about 2″ of oil in a pan or use your deep fryer.

If you are frying the ones you just made, fry them in hot oil until they turn dark golden brown.

Place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot.

If you are frying frozen lumpia, carefully place FROZEN lumpia in the heated oil.  Do not thaw them as they will get too soft and fall apart.  Fry them until dark golden brown.

To make the sauce just add all the sauce ingredients into a bowl and stir.

Other options for the fillings include shredding sweet potatoes, chopped water chestnuts, sliced bamboo shoots,and pretty much anything you like.


Lumpia - Filipino Egg Rolls
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