Cooking · Hobbies · Keto

Day 4 of a Keto Week

It was a great day…

Today I had the luxury of working at home, and enough time to make a delicious lunch and dinner. Lunch was lovely – another Chicken Caesar salad with homemade Caesar dressing. I chopped everything up so I could easily gobble it up. Dinner was a little more “done” – I made a homemade Alfredo sauce to go over my cooked chicken. (I didn’t have any basil, so the Creamy Pesto Sauce was a non-starter.) Let me take you through the steps, to the finished process. Oh, and it goes without saying that this wonderful recipe for Alfredo Sauce came from the indispensable cookbook, Simply Keto. (It’s my new cooking bible!)

First – the cast of characters for this lovely dish. Doesn’t everyone partition their butter by tablespoon? Next to that, cream cheese, half and half, garlic, parmesan, oregano and All ‘Round Good Grinder Blend.
First step, after chopping garlic: brown the garlic briefly in melted butter.
Next, take the cubes of cream cheese and melt that in the butter/garlic mixture.
After you’ve constantly stirred and stirred, the cream cheese starts to break down.
Next, add creamy half and half. It’s hard to take a picture of that while you’re doing it. So, please make do with this shot of what the sauce looks like as you add the freshly grated parmesan.
Finally the seasoning: add oregano and salt and pepper – or Good Grinder Blend, like me!
The delicious final dish. (My attempts at plate artistry need work.)

Verdict: a winner

This Keto-friendly sauce made my chicken the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night. I may need lessons in plate artistry, but the sauce was creamy, buttery, cheesy, and oh-so-comforting. And what you see on the plate is 1/4 cup – the recommended serving! I have so much sauce left over in the fridge. I can’t wait to try it on zoodles, broccoli, and as the base for a creamy pesto sauce! This was a 10. I heartily recommend it to you.

Cooking · Keto

Day 1 of a Keto Week: Delicious

It wasn’t hard at all to get back to eating the Keto way when the dishes I made today were so good. Prep yesterday on Sunday afternoon made all the difference. But first I kept my fast going by enjoying only my special coffee.

Bullet-proof coffee

At 5:30 a.m. I’m not thinking about taking pictures of my BPC. Because I forgot, I’ll just post a picture below from the lowcarbyum website, with its own BPC recipe. Unlike that one, all I add is MCT oil and butter. I finish it by frothing with a milk frother (so much fun!) Then I enjoy.

Lunch – Light for a workday break

Today I took some of the chicken I cooked yesterday and made a terrific Chicken Caesar Salad from the Simply Keto cookbook. I even made the dressing from scratch. The addition of avocado adds needed fats as well as creaminess, and the homemade dressing was a creamy pleasure. I will follow the optional recommendation of adding 1 tsp of MCT oil to thin the dressing a bit the next time I make it. Score: 9.5 out of 10 – would recommend!

Dinner: warm and perfect

The Keto Chili recipe from Simply Keto was full of yummy pork sausage and ground beef. I loved the mix of cumin and chili powder and didn’t miss beans at all. The recipe makes six portions, and I think I helped myself to two portions tonight in one very large bowl – it was so good! Adding some sour cream and grated cheddar made it even better. This is a home run. Definitely recommend – 9 out of 10.

Snacks

Nothing special today; I didn’t have time! Instead, Atkins peanut butter cups (1 net carb each) to the rescue.

Cooking · Keto

Keto Prep is tiring…

…Or maybe I’m just not fully recovered from my cold last week. But I’ve been cooking all afternoon to get at least some of my recipes ready. I also cooked a grass-fed eye of round roast for lunch today. Now I have extra food for the week!

Besides the roast, I prepped Keto Chili, which is full of beef AND pork, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and garlic. It’s now simmering away in the crock pot. Can’t wait to try this. Click the link above to go to the recipe on the creator Suzanne Ryan’s site “Keto Karma.” I also did prep work for the Creamy Pesto Chicken and Chicken Caesar Salad. Actually, I’ll just be having Creamy Alfredo Chicken – as I was making my shopping list I realized: it is February; I’m not getting fresh basil unless I want to pay an arm and a leg. I’ll save the pesto sauce for this summer when I can just walk outside into my herb garden and pick my own.

Pictures to come of my lovely meals this week!

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com
Cooking · Keto

Planning a Keto Week

It is time to get serious. I have had so much success with Keto, but frankly, January has been a bust (so far.) I’m putting on my project planner hat and getting organized. I’m mapping out five days’ worth of meals, starting next Monday, that will help me be stay on this way of eating. Each meal has to be pleasing, delicious, and fixed fast.

We don’t need no stinking breakfast

This is my modified form of intermittent fasting: I have a 17-hour window between my last meal of the previous day, and the first meal of the next. I finish dinner around 6:30 p.m., so my lunch is at 11:30 a.m. If I leave it till noon, I get cranky. All I have in the morning is Bullet-Proof Coffee (which is also a good lip moisturizer. All that MCT oil!)

Something easy to grab at midday

On the two days a week I go to the office, I like to think I’m going to grab a salad from the salad bar, but often I don’t. What makes me happier (and much more satisfied) is bringing in a dish from home. It can be leftovers from last night, or something I’ve made special for lunches. Anything full of protein is good!

Dinner has to be easy too

Let’s face it: I’m not going to come home and start cooking an intricate meal that takes an hour to prep and longer to cook. I need something that’s no more from 30 minutes from start to plate. I’ve learned over the years: cook ahead of time and reheat. Or cook double recipes. Do something that shaves time off nightly meal prep when I’m tired out from the day at work, and I have more things going on at night.

Let’s plan it out

BreakfastLunchDinnerLate Snack
MondayBPCChicken Caesar SaladKeto ChiliKeto Hot Chocolate
TuesdayBPCBroccoli, Bacon & Cheese
Egg Muffins
Filet Mignon w/Gorgonzola SauceAtkins snack
WednesdayBPCKeto ChiliCreamy Pesto ChickenChia pudding
ThursdayBPCChicken Caesar SaladBroccoli, Bacon & Cheese
Egg Muffins
Atkins snack
FridayBPCCreamy Pesto ChickenParmesan-crusted Salmon BakeChocolate Chip
Mug Cake
I don’t plan out Saturday and Sunday because I have more time to cook on those days.

Check back for how I did!

I can’t wait to make these dishes. They just sound fun, filling, and tasty. Every dish above (except for the Atkins snacks, of course) is from my new cookbook, Simply Keto, by Suzanne Ryan. I’ll be posting lots of pictures and text about how each dish turned out.

Christmas · Cooking · Hobbies · Keto

From hobby to passion

Do you have a hobby you love? One that you’ve dabbled in over the years, but then with the onset of COVID-19, delved into more and more. That’s how I feel about cooking. Today, in this post adapted from a speech I gave to my Toastmasters club, I’ll share with you some of my favorite kitchen stories, tools, triumphs, and failures.

Let’s Get Cooking!

When I was a child, I’d often stay for the weekend with my Grandmother Shuler. Once I got to watch her as she made her famous pound cake. She’d take the butter out of the frig and let it sit out on the counter, in the bowl of her stand mixer, at least overnight. She explained she did that so the butter would soften up.

The next day, she’d take every ingredient and line it up on the counter. Years later I’d learn that was what chefs called setting up a “mise en place.” As the cake finished baking, she’d make a tart lemon glaze to pour over the hot pound cake.

Not every dish was a hit – I STILL, to this day, cannot stand the taste and texture of lima beans – but my love of cooking started with Grandma Shuler in her country kitchen.

Today, in my Forest Acres kitchen, I’m creating my own culinary memories. Join me in a tour of my kitchen, won’t you, and let’s get cooking!

When we first enter the kitchen, you’ll see the vast quartz countertop which divides the back room and makes a nice square shaped kitchen. It makes a wonderful prep area where I chop all my veggies. Always on the counter: either my Air Fryer or my Crockpot, depending on the season.

And I adore baking. Years ago, my parents gave me a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer in Empire Red – the Cadillac of Mixers. That wonderful appliance has turned out endless cakes and batches of Christmas cookies.

An awful accident

Last year I experienced one of my rare cooking fails as I used the mixer. I happily envisioned myself on a cooking show as I measured out all the ingredients for a carrot cake and put them in dishes, ready to use. I even went ahead and measured out all the cream cheese frosting ingredients and put those on the counter in little glass bowls too. Gordon Ramsey would be proud!

As I set the full cake pans in the oven, I turned around to begin cleanup. I noticed there was still a bowl on the counter – of what? It was FLOUR. I left out the Flour. But I knew I had mixed something white in! I had mixed in the four cups of confectioners’ sugar, set aside for the frosting, into the cake batter!!! I quickly yanked out the pans, threw it all back into the mixer and mixed in the flour. It actually came out well – the top was just a tad caramelized. Nobody tasted a difference. The only difference was visual: I didn’t have enough confectioners’ sugar left to make enough frosting for the sides. It was a near-naked cake.

Blood sugar up; Time for Keto

A lifetime of baking and sweets has raised my blood sugar, so I’ve stopped baking and I’m doing keto. So, what dishes am I preparing? Well fortunately Turkey is low-carb, and perfect for holidays. I decided to go all out on a Turkey this year for Christmas. We usually have ham at our holiday meals – because of the eight of my extended fam, seven prefer ham. Guess who prefers turkey – me! So, since I was cooking, I decided on Turkey for Christmas Eve lunch.

I found a super deal on ButcherBox.com and quickly ordered the turkey. But – my brother’s five weren’t coming for Christmas. I put out of my mind the fact that I purchased a 15-pound turkey for three people.

I cleared out an entire section of the freezer for it to live in until the Sunday before Christmas Eve. That Sunday I moved the turkey to the frig to start thawing.

On Thursday I created a beautiful brine and submerged the turkey in a huge turkey bag with the gallons of brine. It soaked for 18 hours. Early Christmas Eve morning, I dumped out the brine, cleaned the sink THOROUGHLY and let the turkey soak in a sink full of water for 30 minutes, to scrub off some of the salt.

Then I dried it off, shoved quartered onions, garlic and rosemary up its arse and trussed it up for a four and a half hour stay in the oven. I used an entire half cup of melted butter as my basting liquid throughout.

That turkey was DELICIOUS. Even my Dad, who dislikes turkey, couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. And the drippings made the most WONDERFUL gravy!

Look at that beautiful brown skin!

As I continue my Keto journey, those wonderful Turkey leftovers have helped immensely – Turkey/Broccoli casserole and Turkey Vegetable Soup. As I explore new recipes, I continue to set out the ingredients before I start cooking, just like Grandma did. But now, I make sure I have the ingredients lined up, in order.

Cooking · Introspection · Keto

Keto Adventure continues

It’s been hard this season

Last night the fourth Christmas party of the season got to me. I had hot cocoa with whipped cream, marshmallows, AND chocolate syrup. Then it was on to sample the spiked eggnog. I had to fix a plate of homemade cheese crackers, pigs in blankets, and haystacks. Needless to say, NONE of that was good for ketosis. I didn’t even bother to enter it in my Atkins tracker.

Most of the time, though, the Keto has been going so well! Working from home I can control everything I make for lunch, and the dishes I’m coming up with are fantastic. Nice fatty Bulletproof coffee is keeping me going in the mornings, and the shrimp, hamburger, steak, and chicken dishes I’m cooking up are wonderful.

I even made a Keto Taco Soup which was heavy on the cheese and cream.

The benefits are adding up beyond the weight loss

  • I’ve had SO MUCH more energy. I used to sleep at least 8 hours a night. Now I go to bed and 10 and wake up before 5 – sometimes even 4:30 – without an alarm clock.
  • When I stick to the Keto plan I’m on (Atkins 20) I’m not hungry. Really! I couldn’t quite believe it either.
  • I swear this is true: my knees don’t hurt as much when I kneel at church.

I’m saving $$$ on restaurants

Who needs to spend $15 on a Philly cheesesteak at my favorite diner, when I can make the same at home with Steak-ummm?

The cheese, the onions, the Steak-ummm – Bliss!
Cooking · Hobbies · Keto

Going Keto

Yes, I have dived into Keto Living

About two months ago I met with my new personal physician. New doc ran an A1C due to the history of diabetes on one side of the family. Yep, I’m pre-diabetic. Since my birthday was coming up, and then a long-awaited vacation, and then Thanksgiving, I proceeded to forget about it.

But I ate myself into a stupor over Thanksgiving weekend, hosting not only Thanksgiving on Thursday but also Friendsgiving on Friday. After I polished off the last of the custard cornbread I realized, I need something entirely new. Enter keto. Lots of my friends do this – I can do it!

Did you know that the keto diet was originally created in the ’20s for epileptics? And it has since been used successfully to treat diabetes. Thus encouraged, I downloaded the Atkins app and dove into keto-friendly recipes. And last week, after I paid $14 at my favorite brunch spot for a Philly cheesesteak omelet, with no toast or grits, I decided to recreate this at home this week.

First up: the cast of characters in this production

From the top to bottom, eggs, All ‘Round Good Grinder Seasoning Blend, avocado, Steak-umm, butter, grated Muenster cheese, diced onions and garlic. The broccoli became a side dish.

Always first: the onions and garlic

I threw them in a big hunk of butter and let them get a little brown, while I chopped up the avocado. Then I realized why chefs always have ALL chopping done first – the garlic got a little too brown.

Next, I whisked the three eggs with a skoosh of heavy cream and a sprinkle of the Good Grinder Blend.

About a tablespoon and a half of cream, I’d say.

Then it was time to move the eggs to the pan. I’d removed the onions and garlic to another dish – I wanted to put them in the middle of the omelet, not as part of it.

Gotta have that cheese….

Near Disaster Looms

While I was admiring my work, I realized – I hadn’t cooked up the still-frozen beef sheet for my Philly omelet. Yikes. I whisked the egg pan to a cool burner to slow the cooking (eggs keep cooking on their own!) and fired up the Steak-Umm.

How’d that little bit of toasted garlic get in there?

After transferring the Steak-Umm to the omelet and folding it, I turned my attention to the broccoli. Half of the shredded Muenster went on top and the bowl went into the microwave for 30 seconds.

Then, it was time to plate everything and enjoy!

Cooking · Family · Gratitude · hostess with the mostess

More holiday fun!

I can’t believe I forgot….

Life has been very, very, busy at Aunt Gem Manor since the week of Thanksgiving. But I did take a few pictures of the beautiful Thanksgiving feast, and wanted to share them with you.

First, a nice setting is always key. I only get to use this runner once a year. Next year, a cornucopia!

Loved making the desserts beforehand. I couldn’t believe Publix didn’t have any pecan pies. So I made my first pecan pie.

The feast itself, with only slightly frazzled cook.

And leftover custard cornbread – it was perfect!

That gooey, creamy cream center – bliss!