Brussels Sprouts Carbonara

Carbonara is one of my favorite pasta sauces. What’s not to like about bacon, eggs, and Parmesan cheese? After making a buckwheat pasta, cabbage, and Parmesan cheese dish last year that was surprisingly tasty, I decided to try carbonara on Brussels sprouts. I also added cremini mushrooms since I had them on hand. Traditionally carbonara is made with unsmoked pork cheek bacon, but any bacon can be used. I prefer thick cut bacon cut into a small dice. Starchy water reserved from cooking pasta is usually used to thin down the sauce so it’ll coat the pasta better, but I prefer the extra flavor, texture, and fat provided by heavy cream. Water can be used to deglaze the pan if you don’t have white wine or broth available.

1 lb Brussels sprouts, cleaned and quartered
6 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 slices thick cut bacon, diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 Tbs heavy cream
2 Tbs white wine or chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Minced fresh parsley to garnish (optional)

In a large sauté pan, cook diced bacon until crispy and all the fat is rendered. Remove bacon, leaving fat. Deglaze the pan with white wine or broth. Add Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until Brussels sprouts reach desired doneness, I like mine still slightly crunchy. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, Parmesan cheese, and pepper. Remove Brussels sprouts and mushrooms from the heat, return the bacon to the pan, and pour egg and cheese mixture over it. Toss until the vegetables and bacon are evenly coated in sauce and the residual heat from the pan has cooked the eggs and melted the cheese. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving, if desired.

Posted in Gluten Free, Grain Free, Side Dish, Specialized Diets | 1 Comment

Low Carb Cottage Cheese Donuts

Eastern European/Russian recipes for dry cottage cheese/farmer’s cheese donuts are ideal for adapting to a low carb lifestyle; they already use high protein cheese as a base. I took a traditional recipe and substituted almond flour & stevia-erythritol blend and added a teaspoon of psyllium husk powder to hold the dough together better. Dry cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese is difficult to find so I used crumbled queso blanco. It’s a similar unaged, fresh cheese to farmer’s cheese, as is queso fresco. Rinsed, strained, & pressed small curd cottage cheese works, too. I suspect crumbled feta would also be a good substitute. Vanilla extract, lemon zest, or spices can be added to the dough for additional flavor, especially if you don’t want to coat them in a cinnamon and erythritol mixture. The donuts are crunchy outside, soft and chewy inside, and very tasty. They’re also surprisingly easy to make. This recipe only makes 6-8 donuts, but can easily be doubled.


1/2 cup dry cottage cheese/ farmer’s cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
2 tsp stevia-erythritol blend
1 tsp psyllium husk powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp vinegar
pinch salt
Lard or coconut oil for frying
1/2 tsp cinnamon & 2 Tbs erythritol for coating donuts (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, add dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Mix in egg and vinegar. Stir in crumbled cheese. Allow mixture to rest for at least 10 minutes while the oil comes up to temperature (350°F). Roll the dough into 6 to 8 small, evenly sized balls. Fry until golden brown on all sides, leaving room between donuts for them to rise. Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Roll donuts into erythritol and cinnamon mixture while still warm, if desired.

Posted in Dessert, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Snack food, Specialized Diets, Sugar Free | 1 Comment

Low Carb Egg Rolls (Napa Cabbage Rolls)

Since I made a large batch of Asian plum sauce I wanted to make something to serve along with it. I love egg rolls, but the wrappers aren’t exactly part of my standard diet. I decided to use Napa cabbage leaves in exchange for traditional egg roll wrappers. It worked better than I anticipated. You can’t hold them to dip in the sauce, but drizzling the sauce over the rolls and using a fork to eat them works.


I made two batches of the filling, one using ground pork and one with ground beef. Both taste great. The secret is marinating the ground meat for at least an hour before cooking to let the flavors meld. Draining and cooling the filling is also key to getting firm rolls that don’t fall apart during cooking. I used a fine mesh colander and stirred the filling often to cool it faster and remove the excess liquid. I cut the large Napa cabbage leaves to 6-7 inches long and used a rolling pin to smash the heavy veins to make them more pliable and to remove more excess liquid. I suggest putting paper towels or a kitchen towel under the Napa cabbage leaves before using a rolling pin on them.

1 lb ground pork
12-14 Napa cabbage leaves
4 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
6 green onions, bulbs & leaves diced
1/4 cilantro leaves, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (about 1 inch)
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

In a large bowl, break up the ground pork into small pieces. Add garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, lemon zest, ginger, chili-garlic sauce, salt, and black pepper to the bowl with the meat. Stir until the meat is evenly coated with sauces and seasonings. Cover and return to the refrigerator for at least one hour. Sauté the meat and marinade in a large sauté pan or work until partially cooked. Add shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, green onion, and cilantro. Cook until carrots and cabbage are cooked. Spoon filling into a colander to drain and cool, stirring frequently. Preheat oven to 400°F and prepare a 15″x10″ (3.4qt) baking pan with coconut oil once filling is cool. Trim the bottoms off the Napa cabbage leaves leaving the leaf 6-7 inches long. Smash the heavy veins of the leaves with a rolling pin. Fill the center of each cabbage leaf with approximately a 1/4 cup of filling in an even row across the leaf, leaving about an inch on each side and several inches at the top and bottom. Tuck the sides of the cabbage leaf over the filling and roll tightly from the top of the leaf over the filling to the bottom of the leaf. Arrange in the baking pan with the bottom on the leaf resting on the bottom of the pan. Continue until the pan is filled or you run out of filling. Lightly brush or spray coconut oil on the cabbage rolls. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cabbage is cooked and lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving so the rolls don’t fall immediately apart. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.


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Asian Plum Sauce

Last year I made a small batch of Asian plum sauce from fruit from my parents’ orchard to see if I’d use it. It was great with egg rolls and as a sauce in stir fry. I made a bigger batch this year and wrote down my ingredients so I can recreate it. This year I used Brooks plums, which are a sweeter, free stone fruit. Any plums would work, though depending on tartness, vinegar amount may need to be adjusted and/or honey added. This recipe yielded 24 cups of sauce, so be prepared to can or freeze it. The bucket I used holds 9 quarts, which is just over 2 gallons of fruit. I didn’t weigh the fruit. I don’t peel my plums first, instead using an immersion blender to pulverize them & then running the sauce through a chinois/sieve. Coconut aminos can be used in place of soy sauce and Chinese Five Spice can be used in place of fennel, cinnamon, and cloves. Traditional recipes call for star anise plus fennel seed. I couldn’t find a local source for star anise so I doubled the fennel.


2 gallons plums, washed & stones removed
1 1/2 cups soy sauce or gluten free tamari
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 medium onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, smashed
2 Tbs ground ginger
2 tsp red pepper flakes or red chili sauce
2 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp ground fennel seed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer until the fruit is thoroughly cooked and broken down. Using an immersion blender (or batches can be run through a blender or food processor), purée the sauce until smooth. Strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve to make it more smooth, if desired. Return sauce to stockpot and simmer on low until sauce is reduced and at desired thickness. Pour sauce into jars for canning or containers for freezing.

Posted in Condiments, Dairy Free, Sauces, Specialized Diets, Vegan | Leave a comment

Low Carb Flat Bread

I came across a recipe on for easy keto pancakes with eggs, cottage cheese, and psyllium husk powder. I was interested because it didn’t contain coconut flour like most low carb pancake recipes; I’ve had some epic failures with coconut flour based pancakes. I didn’t have cottage cheese on hand, but I did have ricotta cheese. I made the substitution and tried to cook it like a traditional pancake. It didn’t hold together very well so I spread the rest of the batter out on parchment paper and baked it. It worked well, but the flavor and texture needed improvement. I added a few ingredients and made another batch. They turned out great and would work well as tortillas, crepes, or flat bread in sweet or savory applications.

4 eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 Tbs almond flour
1 Tbs psyllium husk powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare two 1/2 sheet sized (18″ x 13″) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Allow to set for at least 5 minutes before spooning out batter into 8 equal sized discs, 4 on each baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between discs to spread out the batter. Smooth out discs with the back of a spoon into desired thickness. Make them thicker for flat bread and thinner for tortillas or crepes. Bake for 20-22 minutes, turning them over with a spatula halfway through, until both sides are lightly brown.

Posted in Breads, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Specialized Diets | Leave a comment

Low Sugar Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Last week I made caramel apple butter from a dozen Gravenstein apples from my parents’ yard, date “sugar” (dehydrated and ground dates), water, apple cider vinegar, molasses, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. I didn’t measure the ingredients so I don’t have a recipe to share. After I made it, I became too ill with a cold virus to can it as I originally planned. I ended up eating most of it with heavy cream while sick, but still had a couple of cups left once I felt better. Last night I made cheesecake bars with some of it and froze the rest. Tonight my sister proclaimed it the best dessert I’ve ever made.

I adapted a raspberry cheesecake bar recipe to suit my ingredients and low carb lifestyle. The crust turned out great and tastes quite a bit like graham cracker crust. I used almond meal I had on hand and the courser texture wasn’t noticeable in it like it is in other baked goods. I tried to do the fancy piping the apple butter on and running a knife through it, but the texture of the apple butter is different from raspberry jelly so it didn’t work well. I ended up swirling it through the cheesecake batter instead. I ran out of vanilla extract so used a caramel flavoring I had on hand. It worked out well and increased the caramel notes in the dessert. These bars are firm enough to eat like a cookie, which was my goal.

2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
1 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs stevia-erythritol blend
1 tsp ground ginger (optional)
1/4 tsp salt

2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
3/4 cup caramel apple butter
1/4 cup stevia-erythritol blend
1 tsp vanilla extract or caramel flavoring
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 9″x13″ baking pan with butter or coconut oil. To make the crust: in a medium bowl, add almond meal, coconut flour, stevia-erythritol blend, ginger, and salt. Stir until well combined. Add melted butter and molasses. Stir with a spoon until all ingredients are equally distributed. Spoon into prepared baking pan and smooth out in an even layer. Using a small piece of parchment paper, press firmly down on the crust to pack it into the pan. To make the cheesecake: in a large bowl, add cream cheese, eggs, stevia-erythritol blend, vanilla or caramel flavoring, and salt. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon mixture on top the crust and smooth out in an even layer. Swirl the caramel apple butter through the cheesecake with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheesecake layer is firmly set. Allow to cool before cutting. Store in the refrigerator.

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Low Carb Mozzarella Flat Bread/Pizza Dough

I came across “magic mozzarella dough” several months ago and adapted it for cinnamon rolls. While I was impressed with its bread-like texture, it was a little too dry for my tastes. Since I was also experimenting with cream cheese based dough, I combined the two recipes and tweaked it until I finally had a cheesy flat bread that holds up to pizza toppings and is also good for sandwiches.

The mozzarella, cream cheese, and butter can be melted together in a pot on the stove top or microwaved. I’ve used both methods. This recipe makes two 12″ diameter round pizza crusts or one half sheet pan (12″ x 17″).

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3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup super fine almond flour
4 oz cream cheese, cubed
2 eggs
2 Tbs coconut flour
2 Tbs flaxseed or chia seed meal
2 Tbs salted butter, cubed
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare sheet pan or pizza pans with parchment paper or silicone mat. In a microwave safe bowl add mozzarella cheese, cubes of cream cheese, and cubes of butter. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until cheese is melted and ingredients are combined (1-3 minutes). In medium bowl add dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed or chia seed meal, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well combined. Add eggs and vinegar to dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add flour and egg mixture to the melted cheese mixture. Knead with hands until fairly well combined. There will be streaks of melted cheese throughout. Dough can be patted out evenly into the pans or rolled out on the silicone mat or parchment paper and transferred to the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly brown. Remove from the oven. Serve as a flat bread or add toppings and return to oven until toppings are warmed through.

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