Recipe smoosh: Keto Friendly Crockpot Zucchini Meatloaf #20170718

I seem to be unable to follow just *one* recipe.

Yesterday, it was my night to host our weekly friends-dinner. The weather forecast was hot n’ humid, and since I was going to have zero time after work I pre-made the mashed taters, cut up a bunch of veggies, and made a couple of crockpots full of meatloaf. The first meatloaf was this basic recipe but with about 1/3 cup of ketchup in the meat mix, and topped with even more ketchup. The other meatloaf was a recipe smoosh, described below.

Here’s a little background: A few of my friends have been following a ketogenic diet, and after doing much research and being *really* dedicated they have had great results. The rest of us do not have that kind of dedication, but we all generally find keto recipes tasty, and I enjoy cooking challenges so I hit the interwebs. I started just researching ketogenic meatloaf recipes, but didn’t want to buy or make almond meal in place of breadcrumbs. I considered just making meatballs instead of a loaf, and found a recipe that used zucchini instead of breadcrumbs or almond meal. It was a lightbulb moment, and it set me off on a whole new Google search.

The first recipe I found was ok, but called for lean ground beef (a keto no-no, they want the fat calories), and had tomato sauce on top (which is high in carbs, even if they are from a fruit). The second recipe I found was tailored to a ketogenic diet, but I didn’t want chunks of zucchini in my meatloaf and I didn’t want to use the oven. Without further ado, here’s the recipe!

 


Keto Friendly Crockpot Zucchini Meatloaf

Here’s the master list of all ingredients for this recipe:

  • 1 small-to-medium yellow onion
  • 3 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, mine was about 5 oz
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 TBS crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 2 lbs of 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 large eggs
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Now with more detail!

I prepped these ingredients the night before, but it doesn’t need to sit overnight. That’s just what I did to get a jump-start on my prep.

  • 1 small-to-medium yellow onion, chopped to yield about 3/4 cup
  • 3 TBS of Olive Oil
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (started as one 5 oz zucchini, which I shredded, salted lightly to draw out moisture, then it sat for 15 minutes while I did other things, and I squeezed it dry)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed to remove the skin then chopped up (size between a mince and a chop)
  • 1 TBS crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp whole fennel seeds that I ground in my mortar and pestle. If you have pre-ground fennel seeds I’d say use a scant 1/4 tsp.
  • Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz low moisture, part skim mozzarella (Grated freshly to avoid the anti-caking agent found in pre-shredded cheese. It makes a difference! I used the “normal” size grater, not the “fine” grater)
  • 3 oz Parmesan cheese (I used the “fine” size grater for this one, not the “normal” grater. Once again, grated freshly to avoid the anti-caking agent found in pre-shredded cheese)

Chop up the onion and saute it over low heat in the 3 TBS of oil, stirring occasionally while you shred your zucchini, then grate all the cheeses and chop up the garlic. Set the cheeses aside in a big bowl (larger than a standard cereal bowl, you’ll need the space). When the onions are translucent, add in the garlic, crushed pepper, black pepper, and salt. Stir for a while, then decide to go squeeze the extra water out of your shredded zucchini. Panic after squeezing out two handfuls of zucchini, and go stir your garlic/onion mixture before the garlic goes past golden. Turn off the heat, breathe a sigh of relief that you caught it in time, stir a bit more til it’s done sizzling, and go squeeze out the rest of your zucchini. Dump all the squeezed-dry zucchini into the glorious smelling onion/garlic/spice mixture, turn the burner back on medium low, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is just starting to turn a bit clear but is not fully cooked. Turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature while you go chop up veggies for other things. After the veggie mix is all the way cool, combine it with the cheeses in the bigger-than-a-cereal-bowl, toss to combine, cover with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge. Make sure you have two pounds of 80/20 ground beef defrosted and ready to go tomorrow.

To assemble your meatloaf:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Veggie mix from yesterday/whenever you made it
  • 2 lbs of 80/20 ground beef

In a large mixing bowl, crack in and whisk up the eggs, then throw in the veggie mix and the tsp of salt. Stir that all together with your hands (after you wash them, please), then regret not taking out your meat and go wash your hands again to get it out of the fridge. Add the meat into the egg/veggie/cheese mixture, and mix thoroughly.

At this point, you could bake it at 350F for as long as you would bake any other meatloaf, or you can be like me and cook it in the crockpot, lined with foil, on high for 3 hours. After it beeps, use a large spatula and pair of tongs to maneuver it into a baking dish, spoon some of the juices and fat over the top, then cover it with foil to let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.


Alfredo-ish Sauce

I served the meatloaf with a quick “alfredo” type gravy, whisked together in a sauce pan:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parm (another three ounces or so)
  • 1 finely grated garlic clove
  • Two dashes of nutmeg
  • More black pepper
  • 2 TBS of salted butter

I whisked all of that together til the cheese was melted and let it bubble away for a bit. Even after whisking it was a bit chunky, so I blitzed it with my immersion blender before serving in a gravy boat alongside the meatloaf. It was a delicious addition!


Since my friends are truly dedicated to their Ketogenic diet, I plugged the ingredients into MyFitnessPal as a recipe so that they could see some basic nutrition facts. I’m not sure how accurate the fat grams are for the meatloaf, since it gave off quite a bit of fat and liquid during cooking, but I wanted to be sure to respect their need to avoid carbs. Here are the results:

  • Zucchini Cheese Meatloaf
    8 servings per recipe
    Simplified nutrition facts per serving
    Calories: 408
    Fat (g): 28.9
    Carbs (g): 2.3
    Protein (g): 34.1
  • Alfredo
    10 servings per recipe
    Simplified nutrition facts per serving
    Calories: 71
    Fat (g): 6.4
    Carbs (g): 1.1
    Protein (g): 2.6

So there you have it. A very long, drawn out, oddly written, but original-ish recipe. I hope you’ll try it!

Lunch menus #20170313

Here’s the deal: dinner menus used to be easy. I would cook big batches for fun on the weekends, eat dinner with friends on Mondays, and really only end up cooking a full meal from scratch on Thursday nights when I alternated pasta and stirfry. Fridays the guys went snowboarding, and I’d pack them a bag-lunch-for-dinner and eat avocado toast at home with the pup. Viola. Dinner was done.

Here’s the second deal: bag lunches are big in my house. The eight-year-old will happily eat butter sandwiches, meat and cheese on the side, and apple slices daily. The thirty-eight-year-old and I both demand more variety.

The sad truth is that now that snowboarding season is over, I actually have to plan and cook more once again. Back to menu planning, double time! Lunches noted are for the adults of our household.

  • Monday: Lunch is curried chicken salad wraps, an apple (nature’s mouthwash), and crackers. It’s not my night to host our weekly friends-dinner, so I’m off the hook for cooking tonight. Woo hoo!
  • Tuesday: Lunch will be beef stew and a side salad. NOTE— the best thing I’ve done in a while is cube up a chuck roast, season, sear and cook a generic batch of stew meat. Half was already seasoned up and used for shredded beef burritos over the weekend. The other half will go into the beef stew for this day. Dinner will be pork chops, rice pilaf, and asparagus.
  • Wednesday: Lunch will be leftovers. Dinner will either be veggie Pad Thai OR veggie fettucini alfredo, depending on my mood and the input of other eaters.
  • Thursday: Lunch will be a creamy potato broccoli soup, with fruit on the side. Dinner will be Balsamic glazed chicken, green beans, skillet red potatoes with rosemary, and biscuits.
  • Friday: Lunch will be tuna salad wraps with either a side salad or fruit depending on the contents of my fridge at this point. Dinner will be semi-homemade-takeout. Beef & broccoli stir fry, rice, broccoli, and dumplings.
  • Weekend cooking
    • I want to make something with lamb! Braised or stewed, I’ll do some research, track down a lamb shank or shoulder.
    • I want to make some enriched bread! Maybe Challah! More research is needed! As you can tell, I’m very excited by my weekend cooking projects.
    • Some kind of cake will be made. I have a number of recipes I desperately want to make, so rather than try to choose I will put the decision to a household vote.
    • Cookies! Chocolate with peanut butter chip cookies, to be exact.
    • Three pounds of chicken breast. It’s not glamorous, but it has replaced lunch meat in our house and therefore must be cooked weekly. Perhaps I’ll get fancy and marinate some of it, but probably not.

That’s all for now- in my spare time I’m sifting through 4,389 lunch ideas on Pinterest, and will report back next week with any revelations.

Darian’s turning 8! | Birthday menu

My son Darian is turning 8 and has denied my request to stop getting older. He thought I was kidding, but I really really want to squish 8-month-old-Darian again, and I don’t think the laws of the universe should prevent that.

Back to business. The soon-to-be-8-year-old-Darian originally wanted to go to Golden Corral for his birthday dinner, but last night he changed his mind and decided on a semi-homemade menu instead.

  • Teriyaki chicken I use chicken thighs, and make a sauce with Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki, sweet chili sauce, and peanut butter.
  • White rice I always keep a supply of Kokuho Rose rice, it’s my very favorite.
  • “Dry” ramen Darian’s favorite is Sapporo Ichiban original ramen, but mostly drained (1 or 2 tsp water left in) with about half of a seasoning packet.
  • Broccoli steamed, seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper. He didn’t actually request this, but I’m making him eat vegetables on his birthday.
  • Dumplings from Trader Joe’s- specifically their chicken gyoza potstickers, with dipping sauce on the side.
  • Reed’s extra ginger brew will be the beverage. Probably served in wine glasses because Darian thinks that makes it fancy 🙂
  • Oreo cake, barely homemade using this recipe, Breyers oreo ice cream on the side.

That’s it! This will come together pretty dang easily since the cake benefits from being made a day in advance. The timing won’t even be an issue, the only foreseeable hiccup is if Darian eats too much of his dinner and doesn’t want any cake. I’ll attempt to give him little portions, but if all else fails we’ll just sing to him and have him blow out candles before storing his cake in the fridge again.

I was trying to decide what I would want my birthday dinner to be, and I think we got it right last year by going out to Zen Box Izakaya. Previous years, I’ve gone to Salut on Grand (steak, calamari, all the drinks) and been ridiculously happy. I think since I make so many meals at home, the key to birthday happiness is going to a restaurant that I love. I don’t really want to meet a restaurant for the first time on my birthday, but I’m happy to make a few outings in the name of research.

Ground Beef Recipe Roundup | Not a menu plan #20140215

This week, I have general ideas and plans, but I’m not doing a *real* menu plan. I still wanted to ramble on the internet a bit, so here we go! Note: Grammarly tells me that I use too many unnecessary commas.  If it really knew me, it would tell me that I use an excessive amount of hyperlinks, but you already knew that.

This week, being Valentine’s week, there were many wonderful sales at the grocery store. Fresh strawberries, steaks, chocolate cakes, and all the other foods-of-love. Ground beef was also on sale. It is not a food of love. It is something that I buy when it gets to a certain price (2.99/lb for ground chuck), and then squeeze into my meal rotation for variety. Everyone other than my youngest son is tired of burgers. No one wants ground beef in their tacos, they’d rather have a burrito with sliced-meat-of-some-sort. They still maintain they are not picky.

Everyone other than my youngest son is tired of burgers. No one wants ground beef in their tacos, they’d rather have a burrito with sliced-meat-of-some-sort. They still maintain they are not picky. Here, you can imagine that I am rolling my eyes, or more likely, that I am making a face that looks like something smells bad. We call in a stink face.

So, what do I do with ground beef that is actually well received? Here is a handy dandy list:

  1. Most of the time I just make burgers and tell people to get over it. I occasionally add extra topics to try and amp up the tasty factor, but most often it’s just served with some salad and called dinner.
  2. When I’m feeling really fancy and plan in advance, I make pie crust and then make pasties. This is rare, and happens at most about every three months.
  3. Lasagna! I have yet to settle on a “real” recipe, usually, I just adapt whatever is on the back of the Creamette noodle box. This only happens if I can make it on a weekend day, and then reheat during the week.
  4. More often than lasagna, stuffed shells with meatballs happen, but I add cooked/seasoned spinach to the stuffing mix. For the meatballs, I often get frozen and am less than satisfied with the result, but sometimes I’ll actually make them with this recipe, subbing in Panko breadcrumbs and Italian herbs. I’m not sure that this method is actually any easier than Lasagna, but it easily makes a double recipe so I can freeze a pan for later.
  5. Meatloaf. I always add ketchup to the mix and on top, and I should really make this more. It’s probably happening this week.

The list of things I wish the rest of my household would enjoy is quite a bit longer. I generally try to not dwell on this too much, but I think it would be helpful to have a list of “stuff I should make just for my lunches, because I’m worth it” so here it is:

  1. Stuffed peppers! I think these are rejected because of the watery-ness of the peppers, but I think they’d be great. Here’s one recipe I’d like to try, or maybe I could find some kind of stuffed poblano recipe with a bit more research.
  2. Chili. The medium one loves it too, the big one gets heartburn, and it’s always too spicy for the little one. I really just need to make myself a smaller batch, and then freeze portions for later. My problem is that I can rarely make something that I prefer to Wendy’s chili, so maybe it’s time to start testing out knockoff recipes.
  3. I would also make some kind of “taco pie” but that usually ends up giving me indigestion 😦
  4. Cabbage roll casserole, but with the rice cooked on the side. I have a handwritten recipe that calls for ground beef, chopped onion, chopped cabbage, and Campbell’s tomato soup. It’s mighty tasty right out of the oven to me, but the texture bothers others and it doesn’t reheat particularly well.
  5. Salsbury steak, Swedish meatballs, and beef stroganoff. I haven’t ever really attempted a recipe for these, but end up really really enjoying them when I happen to have them at Ikea, some hole-in-the-wall-diner, or if I splurge on a frozen dinner. The problem with making them is that I am resonably sure that I would be the only person eating it, and I don’t prefer these as leftovers.

Welp, that’s all for now. If you have a favorite ground beef recipe please share it with me!

Cooking lately #20170202

Some things have been going *veryright in my kitchen lately. So, I decided I’d share a few of these tidbits. I don’t do affiliate links, these ones are just for your reference or for my reference.

  • Stuffed shells with meatballs
    • Cook the shells in heavily salted water per package cooking time, then rinse under cool water to stop the cooking.
    • Make the filling: mix together two eggs, two 15 oz containers of ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan, 8 oz freshly grated part-skim mozzarella, and one 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach (thawed, all the water squeezed out).
    • Assemble the night before splitting into two pans, one for the freezer and one for the next day.
    • Top each pan with one jar of pasta sauce and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. When ready to bake or freeze, add in some premade meatballs and add extra sauce to cover them.
    • Bake at 375 F, covered in tin foil, til hot and bubbly (about an hour for the fridge version, longer from the freezer).
    • Wait at least 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven to serve, then top with parmesan cheese and enjoy.
    • Easier to throw together than Lasagna, and easier to reheat. Plus, you get two dinners for the work of one. Do it.
  • Lettuce cup “sushi”
    • What do you do when you want to make sushi but realized half way through that you don’t have any nori? Well, if your local store is closed for the night, you serve it up in a romaine lettuce leaf instead!
    • Make this sushi rice recipe, and after it’s all prepared/cooled chop up some carrots into matchsticks, seed, peel, and slice up a cucumber, chop up some pickled ginger, top with toasted sesame seeds, then either top with a drizzle of soy sauce or go wild.
    • Ways to go wild: add avocado, add thinly sliced jalapeno, add some cooked salmon, add some teriyaki chicken, get some sushi grade fish and add it raw (I have yet to do this one), make a peanut/soy/rice vinegar dipping sauce and then drizzle because dipping is stressful.
    • Ways to cheat even more: make it with regular rice and top it with “Asian” salad dressing. Still delicious. Leave out rice completely for some low-carb deliciousness.
    • Not necessarily food safe idea: put leftover sushi rice in a Ziploc bag, leave it on the counter, and add chopped up lettuce and all the ingredients to a bowl for a “salad” the next day. Try it at your own peril, but I found it delicious and didn’t get sick.
  • Oreo pudding poke cake
    • It’s a recipe that’s not really a recipe, but more a method for putting together boxed stuff. It tastes REALLY good.
    • This “recipe” inspired me to try other combinations. So far, my favorite is to use the same method with this triple chocolate cake mix, top it with Hershey’s Special Dark pudding (follow directions for pie filling, two containers mix with 3 cups cold milk), top with crumbled oreos that have most of their filling removed. Better than the original, and the pudding is less sweet than regular frosting.
  • Oatmeal, made with milk instead of water. Perfect for any cold morning.
  • Jalapeno poppers, but coat the outside with BBQ sauce before baking and eat them for breakfast, or any time you want to be happy.
  • Spinach artichoke dip
    • Make sure to top it with some cracked red pepper and extra parmesan.
    • After you make it, use the leftovers on top of some (cooked) meat, and stick it under the broiler to heat up the dip/topping/goodness. Thank me later.
    • This blogger is a genius who has also adapted it for the slow cooker.
  • Pot roast
    • I have some in the slow cooker *right now* because it was on sale at my regular grocery store for $3.99/lb and that price means I make pot roast.
    • Serve it with rice, egg noodles, or some potato product. Today we’re having mashed potatoes, crusty-store-bought-rosemary-bread, and green beans.

That’s all, folks! Cooking has become a bit of “me time” that I am very happy to have. I hope you’re all finding ways to relax, get creative, and get away from your cares if only for a little while.

Just desserts #20161006

Why, hello there! We’ve been trucking along through summer/fall, and I’ve happily settled into a routine of batch cooking, shopping just a few days ahead, and not planning out a whole week at a time. But here we are again. Because I have dessert goals.

  1. Pumpkin pie. It’s been requested by the 7-year-old-dear-God-where-has-the-time-gone-he’s-gigantic. It’s his favorite, he’s been asking politely for weeks, I have ALL the ingredients, and there’s just no excuse to not make it.
  2. Apple crisp! I made an apple pie last week (or maybe before then), and while it was well received, I personally was underwhelmed. On to apple crisp, which I will eat any time of the day or night.
  3. All the cookies. It’s the time of year when I love having frozen (but still homemade) cookie dough on hand. I make them into the proper sized little disks, freeze them, and then can bake off however many I want to at a time. I’m definitely making both chocolate chip, and chocolate with peanut butter chips, but I may add in another variety as well.
  4. Cheesecake! I received an Instant Pot, which is an electronic pressure cooker. Very stable. Very reliable. Very good at making cheesecakes. I even have mini mason jars for individual servings and gifting. I just need to DO IT, and then eat all the non-gifted cheesecakes.

That’s it for now! What desserts on your to-make or to-eat list? Tell me, or better yet, share some with me.

Welcome to the Calzone Zone

The kids have decided we will open a restaurant, and it will be called Calzone Zone. They were so thrilled with the name they came up with (all on their own), that I couldn’t bear to tell them that it had been done before. Both by Chef John (whose method I used when I made the Zones), and also by the TV show Parks & Rec. Either way, we 100% cheated with pre-made everything, it turned out 100% delicious, and I 100% did not take a picture to prove it to you. Sorry, Internet. Here’s what to do!

  1. Buy Trader Joe’s garlic and herb pizza dough, pepperoni, ricotta cheese, Parmesan, fresh mozzarella, and a single egg you should already have on hand if you’re an omnivore.
  2. Preheat oven to 500, with a pizza stone in the lower third.
  3. Divide dough into six equal parts (with your handy-dandy bench scraper), let it warm up for a bit while you do other junk, then come back and roll it out to the size of a plate.
  4. Add a layer of pepperoni if you’re using them (I used them on half, other were just cheese), then an inch high layer of ricotta (top with salt and pep), a few slices of fresh mozzarella, and then more pepperoni if you’re using it. Seal em up like Chef John said to on a well floured surface (same link as above).
  5. The oven has beeped, telling you you’re ready to bake! I have a rim-less cookie sheet that I basically use as an over-sized cookie sheet. I put a big ol’ square of parchment paper on it, bravely and quickly moved the Zones over using my bench scraper, THEN top with an egg wash (one egg mixed with approximately 1 1/2 tsp of water) and Parmesan cheese.
  6. Slide the entire piece of parchment paper onto the pizza stone and bake for about 12 minutes. The instructions said to bake for 15, but my Zones were significantly smaller than theirs and cooked faster.
  7. LET THEM COOL- we cooled them for 10 minutes and they were still way too hot. I will cook them for 15 or maybe even 20 before yelling dinner next time.

We devoured our Zones with a salad, a side of meatballs in marinara, and some extra marinara for dipping. The portion was perfect for our 7 & 11 year old kids to have a single Zone, and we parents each enjoyed two. If I was going any fancier on the stuff inside I would probably use plain pizza dough, or even make your own homemade dough, but since our ingredients were pretty simple the garlic & herb dough was perfect. The parchment paper also caught some of the inevitable cheese-splosion, which came from a poorly sealed corner of one Zone.

These have formally been requested as an addition to our regular rotation. It was a nice variation from our usual stir fry/burgers/burritos/pasta routine, I’m documenting it here so that I’ll hopefully remember to do it again 🙂

Life update: we are officially in soccer season! Darian is now in 2nd grade (and has his same teacher from 1st grade, Ms. Drake), and Kimathi is in 5th grade (with Ms. Goetzke). It’s K’s LAST YEAR of Elementary school, and it’s getting me all misty eyed. Summer was full of camping, cabin trips, swimming, going to the drive-in movies, and more good times than you could shake a stick at. I’m both relieved to be back in our school-year-routine, and thankful for all the good times we had.

Food update: My sweetie got me a grill, and I have been *loving* it. Also, cool enough now to officially proclaim the start of baking season! I baked some rosemary bread yesterday, topped with sesame and poppy seeds. It was fine, but utterly forgettable, so I’ll continue the search for a rosemary bread recipe and then document it here after a few tests. Next up- all the desserts.