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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Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

We first tried Roasted Cauliflower Steaks as a side dish at La Hiki Kitchen one of the fine restaurants at the Four Seasons Hotel on Oahu. We loved it!

At that time I had no idea how easy it was to make at home.  Once I realized how simple it was to make I serve it all the time!  We’ve always enjoyed cauliflower, but I usually fry it, add it in Macluba (an Arabic dish that literally means upside-down!), or make deep fried cauliflower fritters called Em Shaat.  Of course we serve it riced and mashed as well.  Cauliflower is really versatile!  And adding these Roasted Cauliflower Steaks makes them even more so.

You may be wondering what are Cauliflower Steaks? They’re thick slabs of cauliflower that’s cut from stem to top.  To get them you use the middle portion of the cauliflower, the section that’s the tallest.  You can get about 2-3 steaks per cauliflower head.

To make cauliflower steaks I trim off the leaves from the stem of the head.  Then I place it stem up on a cutting board and slice down from stem to the florets.  I make the slices about 1″ thick and try to get as many slices as I can.  I save the smaller pieces to use for something else later or you can roast them along side the steaks.  Slicing the steaks is probably the hardest part.  It gets way easier after that!

So here’s the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Steaks.  You can adjust the spices to suit your tastes.  BTW this dish is Vegan and Keto friendly!

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

Ingredients:

1 Cauliflower, sliced into 1″ steaks

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1 Tbs. Minced Garlic

1 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper (adjust to suit your taste or omit if you don’t like spicy foods)

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 Tbs.  Fresh Parsley, chopped

Directions:

Pre-heat Oven to 400 degrees

Line sheet pan with parchment paper

Slice Cauliflower into 1″ thick steaks

Place on pan

Mix garlic and crushed pepper in the olive oil

Brush oil mixture onto both sides of cauliflower steaks

Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese

Bake for 15 minutes

Gently flip each steak over and sprinkle with remaining cheese

Return to oven and bake another 20-25 minutes or until it starts to brown on the top

Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving.

  • You can change  up this recipe by changing the spices you put on the cauliflower steaks.  Try mixing cumin, chili powder, or oregano in the oil!

 

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks
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Roasted Cauliflower Steaks
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Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat Oven to 400 degrees
  2. Line sheet pan with parchment paper
  3. Slice Cauliflower into 1" thick steaks. Place on pan
  4. Mix garlic and crushed pepper in the olive oil
  5. Brush oil mixture onto both sides of cauliflower steaks
  6. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese
  7. Bake for 15 minutes
  8. Gently flip each steak over and sprinkle with remaining cheese
  9. Return to oven and bake another 20-25 minutes or until it starts to brown on the top
  10. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley before serving.
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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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Classic Pork Crown Roast

Classic Pork Crown Roast

This classic crown roast of pork is sure to wow family and friends at your next holiday gathering. We seasoned the pork overnight with salt, pepper and aromatic spices such as fennel, juniper, bay and allspice, for the most tender and juicy roasted meat. Glazed apples and onions serve as a sweet and tangy counterpoint. 

Level: Intermediate

Total: 10 hr 40 min 

(includes resting time)

Active: 45 min

Yield: 16 to 18 servings

Ingredients:

One 16- to 18-bone crown roast of pork (about 10 pounds) (see Cook’s Note)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon juniper berries

1 small bay leaf

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup granulated sugar

 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges each

2 large red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups apple cider

Directions

1. Put the pork on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle all over with 1 tablespoon salt and several grinds of pepper; set aside.

2. Put the fennel, allspice, whole peppercorns and juniper berries in a small skillet over medium heat and cook until the fennel begins to turn slightly golden, about 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the toasted spices to a blender, add the bay leaf and blend until coarsely ground. Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon salt and process until a coarse paste forms, about 1 minute. Spread the paste over the pork, making sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies; use a spatula to scrape up all the paste from the blender. Cover the pork with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

4. When ready to cook the pork, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

5. Put the pork on a rack set in a large roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 135 degrees F, about another 1 1/2 hours.

6. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, sage, thyme, apples, onions and 6 tablespoons of the butter in a large bowl until well coated. Heat a large skillet over high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Add half of the apple and onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples and onions are dark golden all over but the apples are still firm, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread into a single layer to cool, using a heatproof spatula to scrape all the remaining sugar from the skillet over the apples and onions. Repeat with the remaining apple and onion mixture.

7. Return the skillet to high heat and add the wine. Cook until syrupy and reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Add the cider and cook until thickened and glossy, about 8 minutes; you should have about 1/3 cup of glaze. Swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and set aside.

8. Once the pork reaches 135 degrees F, increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and brush the pork all over with half the glaze. Return to the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Brush with the remaining glaze and continue to cook until the internal temperature registers 145 degrees F, about another 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and let rest for 30 minutes. Serve with the apples and onions.

Cook’s Note

A crown roast is made up of 2 to 3 racks of bone-on pork loin that a butcher ties together end to end to create a large round roast. Make sure to order the roast from your local butcher a couple of days in advance so they have time to get the right size racks, clean the meat from the tips of the bones (called Frenching) and tie them together securely so it cooks evenly.

Classic Pork Crown Roast
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Classic Pork Crown Roast
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Servings:
Recipe Notes
Level: Intermediate

Total: 10 hr 40 min 

(includes resting time)

Active: 45 min

Yield: 16 to 18 servings

Ingredients:

One 16- to 18-bone crown roast of pork (about 10 pounds) (see Cook’s Note)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon juniper berries

1 small bay leaf

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup granulated sugar

 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges each

2 large red onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges each

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups apple cider

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Stuffed pumpkin

Stuffed pumpkin

Serves 4

Easy

Throwing a vegan dinner party in the autumn or winter months? Bake a pumpkin with a gorgeous stuffing of rice, fennel, apple, pomegranate seeds and pecans

Ingredients

 

  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin or round squash (about 1kg)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g wild rice
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1 Bramley apple
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

 

 

  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 30g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 large pack parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • pomegranate seeds, to serve

Method

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the top off the pumpkin or squash and use a metal spoon to scoop out the seeds. Get rid of any pithy bits but keep the seeds for another time (see our pumpkin seed recipe ideas). Put the pumpkin on a baking tray, rub with 2 tbsp of the oil inside and out, and season well. Roast in the centre of the oven for 45 mins or until tender, with the ‘lid’ on the side.

2. Meanwhile, rinse the wild rice well and cook following pack instructions, then spread out on a baking tray to cool. Thinly slice the fennel bulb and apple, then squeeze over ½ the lemon juice to stop them discolouring.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Fry the fennel seeds and chilli flakes, then, once the seeds begin to pop, stir in ½ the garlic and the fennel. Cook for 5 mins until softened, then mix through the apple, pecans and lemon zest. Remove from the heat. Add the mixture to the the cooked rice, then stir in the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning.

4. Pack the mixture into the cooked pumpkin and return to the oven for 10-15 mins until everything is piping hot. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining lemon juice with the tahini, the rest of the garlic and enough water to make a dressing. Serve the pumpkin in the middle of the table, topped with pomegranate seeds and the dressing.

 

 


Stuffed pumpkin
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Stuffed pumpkin
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