Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and the Lost Week

I don't know where last week went. I was drugged for most of it, so really, I don't know were it went.  We flew down to Anchorage last Sunday night.  I had a pre-op appointment on Monday and Tuesday I had the second of my three reconstruction surgeries.  This surgery was to take the tissue expander out, put the implant in and then give the other girl a lift so they are more symmetrical.  The surgery took about 2 hours and I was "home" by noon.

We rented through Air BnB this time and it worked out like a charm.  We had a lovely 2 bedroom apartment so I could sleep and Dave had room to work, watch t.v., make meals (we didn't have to eat out every meal this time) and I could wander around in my jammies and not have to worry about getting dressed if I wanted a snack.  The apartment was 10 minutes from the surgery center and 10 minutes from the doctor's office.

On Monday morning we had another post-op appointment, the stitches were removed and we were able to jump an earlier flight to fly home.  I just have to wear this tape over all the scars for the next 6 months...yes, 6 months.  It is so the scars heal as small and as flat as possible.  I feel like I'm taping my boobs and my one little nipple that is left, every time I have to change the tape.  But everything went well, no surprises and the one cyst (on the healthy side) my surgeon removed and had it biopsied. It WAS nothing just like everyone thought.  My surgeon is a rock star and I can't say enough good about her and her whole incredibly awesome staff. I'm also glad that I don't have see any of them until the end of the month for my 4 week check. (Edited by Dave - She's still on Valium)

One limitation while I heal is that I am not to lift ANYTHING, no pushing the vacuum and no getting jumped on by the dogs (Dave has to get up in the morning with me because HIS dog is still too much of a puppy.  We compromised on me staying in bed until 6:00 and he gets up with me then) BUT no reaching for stuff.  I know it sounds great, the no vacuuming part especially, but I'll get tired of it way before that restriction is lifted.  So I'll try to be good as long as possible, but I'm not promising anything. (SFX Insert: You'd better promise FFS! - Dave ....... I'm editing remember?)

In the meantime, Dave has been doing everything, so I thought I would start making dinner again.  I work most of the day, come home and take a bit of a nap and then start dinner.  Meals will have to be pretty simple but at least it is something I can do... as long as Dave gets the heavy pots and pans and sets them on the stove for me.

This recipe showed up in my Facebook feed and I thought it looked delicious.  It is! It is rich and indulgent.  I added some moose sausage to the finished dish and it was a wonderful dinner.
Add a foil ring to hold the halves steady.

Fill with the cheese and cream to bake.

The finished dish mixed with some moose sausage.

Baked Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash

1 large spaghetti squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out (Dave had to do that for me)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
1 chicken bullion, I use the "Better than Bullion" paste
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup 4 cheese Italian white blend
fresh thyme
1 lb. sausage, optional

Preheat oven to 400˚F.  Place cup squash on large baking sheet, making a foil ring to secure the halves.

Generously pepper the inside of the squash halves, spread about 1/4 cup of the Italian cheese blend in each half of the squash.  Mix water and bullion until combined, add the heavy cream, the minced garlic, and the thyme.  Divide cream mixture between the two halves.  Top with remaining Italian cheese blend.  

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the flesh pulls easily with a fork.  

Meanwhile, brown sausage until cooked completely.  Drain on paper towel lined plate.  
Pull squash strands from the rind and place in a large bowl, mix in the sausage and top with more fresh thyme or parsley.  Serve.

3 years ago: Sick Dogs

February 1, 2018  Sunrise 9:35am  Sunset 4:34pm  Temp H -13/L -20˚F

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Shredded Beef

We have had a very warm winter so far.  Only a couple of weeks of -20.  While that is wonderful for the fuel bill, it's not so wonderful for moving snow.  Usually, we don't get much snow in December and January because it is too cold to snow.  This last week it was so warm it rained a bit, then snowed.  And now we have a lot of snow and the temperatures are going to drop.  So, Dave spent a lot of time outside getting all the snow moved.
A cap of snow on the fence.  That all fell in one afternoon and night.
Dave measured 8 inches in one night.

Getting the snow off the pavers, after getting it off the deck.

Shredded beef with onions and peppers.  The perfect stuffing
for tortillas.
After all the cold work, he needed a warm, filling dinner.  I had this shredded beef cooking in the crock pot  for the afternoon and the house smelled warm, spicy and inviting!  It was a delicious way to warm up.

Coconut flour tortillas and ropa vieja.
Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
Adapted from The 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse, Maria Emmerich

1/2 cup beef bone broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. mined garlic
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Ancho chili powder
1 (2oz.) can anchovies, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
2 lbs. beef brisket, cut across the grain into 2-inch-long strips
1 tsp. fine sea salt

Spray slow cooker insert with olive oil or coconut oil cooking spray.  Add beef bone broth, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, ancho chili powder and chopped anchovies.  Top with diced tomato, red and yellow bell peppers, and onions.  Place sliced brisket on top of onions with the fat cap on top.  Sprinkle with salt.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the brisket is ffalling apart and shreds easily.  Shred the brisket with two forks, discarding any of the thick fat attached to the meat.  Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with cilantro, green olives, and lime wedges. Serve with salsa, avocado, cheese, and sour cream, if desired.

3 years ago:  Nutella Palmers and the New Dental Hygienist
5 years ago:  Coq-au-vin

January 25, 2018  Sunrise 9:57 am  Sunset 4:09 pm  Temp. H -24/ L -26

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Birthday and Brownies with Ice Cream

Where did the week go?  This post is a week late, I've been struggling with uploading photos onto blogger, I don't know what changed but suddenly I can't add photos.  I brought my work computer home and was able to add some pictures, not I just need to figure out what is going on with my home computer (several people are having this problem, it seems.  I found out when I googled how to fix this problem).  So, I've just got a little catching up to do.

My birthday was last week two weeks ago. Between all the cards, phone calls, Facebook wishes, and gifts, I feel pretty special. Now, I celebrate my birthday month, so if you want to wish me a happy birthday you still have about three two weeks to get it done.

On my day, I had flowers delivered from some teachers I used to work with.  They sent along a very sweet card that had me crying in my office.  Dave took me to my favorite restaurant for dinner. It was a wonderful way to end a cold week here in Fairbanks.  We had a great dinner and were asleep by 9:00, a total win.

On Saturday, friends came over for dinner, and to learn how to play cribbage.  My grandpa Stejer always said a man wasn't worth marrying if he didn't know how to play cribbage (Good thing Dave knows how or obviously, it would have been a deal breaker).  They brought me the perfect gift for our summer camping.  Bruce makes fly rods and he decorated these plastic champagne glasses with Green Bay colors for me.  No more plastic water cups for my camping champagne!

Sunday we had family dinner, and I got more presents!  I was really spoiled and I'm looking forward to enjoying all my treats.

On Saturday, I made dessert of brownies and ice cream.  Bruce has to be dairy free so I made Keto ice cream with MCT oil and made brownies in these cute little cast iron skillets.  Each person got their own skillet with a scoop of ice cream on top.  They were rich and decadent.
I find Keto "ice cream" to get very firm when I make it,
 so I scoop in individual portions and place in a cupcake paper to
freeze.  Then, when I want ice cream I can pull one serving out of
the freezer and let it soften about 15 minutes before serving.

At work the office threw me a little birthday party, with keto friendly treats and all!  I was really surprised.

The best present I got was on last Thursday when I went for my 6 month mammogram and all was clear.  I only have one side now to check so I asked if they would only charge me 1/2 the price.  My niece was in the next room waiting for her's and heard me. She had to text me so we could laugh together in our separate rooms.
So, this is going to be my regular reminder: Go get your girls squished.

I will continue to celebrate my birthday month with lots of Keto treats and just a little champagne.  After all a girl doesn't celebrate being 29 for the 27th time every year.

Keto brownies
Quick and Easy Ketogenic Cooking, Maria Emmerich

1/2 cup unsalted butter or coconut oil if dairy free
1 cup unsweetened coca powder
1 cup Swerve confectioners'-style sweetener or equivalent amount of powdered erythritol
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line an 8x4 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and grease well.

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the batter until smooth.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the brownies to cool.

Single serving option: butter a 4-ounce ramekin or skillet and fill two-thirds full with batter.  Bake for 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly before topping with ice cream, or cool completely and frost with your favorite frosting.

3 years ago:   Walnut and Blue Cheese Poached Pears
5 years ago:   Vodka Martini for a Hard Week

January 23, 2018   Sunrise 10:03 am  Sunset 4:02 pm  Temp. H -19/ L -23°F

Thursday, January 11, 2018


This is a new favorite.  I love moussaka.  When I was in college, my group of friends would have a dinner once in a while and choose a country.  We would all pick out dishes from that country and then bring them together to try.  When we chose Greece, I chose moussaka.  I was just learning to cook and moussaka was very ambitious for me.  It worked, but I was exhausted and didn't try it again for years!

This is a Keto recipe and so quick!  I use ground moose and with just Dave and myself home now, I make it in two 8X8 pans so we have dinner, left-overs for lunch and another pan in the freezer for when I'm gone or too lazy busy to cook.  I've made it over and over, and Dave still says he likes it and will eat it again.
I made it during the week Gman and his people were up
Thanksgiving week.  Gman approved.
This dish, with a salad is the perfect winter dinner.  I have a couple pans of this in the freezer for later this month when I'll be recovering from the second reconstruction surgery.  Easy for me and Dave, and a warm delicious dinner.

Skillet Moussaka

Eggplant Layer
1 small eggplant (about 12 ounces)
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Meat layer
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup chopped inions
2 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste or minced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. dried oregano leaves
1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1.5 lbs. ground lamb, beef, or moose
2 cup finely diced mushrooms
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup tomato sauce

Cheese sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup bone broth (homemade or store bought)
2 large eggs, separated
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Pinch of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

To prepare the eggplant layer, cut the stem off the eggplant and remove the skin with a vegetable peeler.  Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/8 inch thick planks.  Season both sides of the slices with salt and pepper.  Place the eggplant on a greased rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until soft.  Remove the eggplant from the oven, but leave the oven on if you are baking the moussaka right away.

Meanwhile, make the meat layer.  Heat 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, lemon slices, oregano, and parsley.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the ground meat and mushrooms.  Stir to crumble the meat.  Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon stick, then stir in the tomato sauce.  Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Place 1/2 the meat mixture in one 9 X 13 or two 8X8 pans.  Place a layer of eggplant slices over the meat (dividing evenly if using two pans), top with the remaining meat mixture, top with another layer of eggplant.  Set aside.

Make the cheese sauce.  In a saucepan over low heat, combine the 1/4 cup of butter and the broth.  When the butter is melted, whisk in the egg yolks, feta cheese, and nutmeg and stir just until combined.  Beat the egg whites until very stiff, then fold them into the sauce.  Pour the cheese sauce over the eggplant in the pan.

Place the pan in the oven and bake the moussaka for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

3 years ago:   Easy Cassoulet - the Perfect Winter Dinner
5 years ago:   So Long to a Good Friend

January 11, 2018  Sunrise 10:35am  Sunset 3:22pm   Temp H 2/ L -5˚F

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Pork Tinga

I love pulled pork.  I love the saucy sweet/spicy flavor.  I always order it when we go to a couple of our favorite restaurants, I never try anything else because I'll be disappointed if the dish isn't as good as the pulled pork.

I make pulled pork at home, but it isn't my husband's favorite.  I don't know what is wrong with him. But, whenever I pull out a pork butt and the crock pot he starts looking for excuses not to eat dinner or to go out!  This time I surprised him.  This isn't pulled pork, it's pork Tinga and it is completely different.

The nice thing is it is a crock pot (mostly) throw and go, so easy for me and oh so tasty!  

At the end of the crock pot cooking time, it is very soupy.  All that is flavor.

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, I put the meat in my Kitchenaide and let it do the work.  Shredding the pork took about 30 seconds.

The sauce is poured into a pan over medium-high heat and the shredded pork is added to it and cooked until the liquid is evaporated.

Cook until the sauce is gone and the pork begins to caramelize and get crunchy bits.  

This is what you get when I let my husband take a picture.

Dave ate his Tinga on flour tortillas with Queso, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes and a squeeze of lime.  He declared them delicious! Notice, he also snuck some of my pork rind tortilla chips for some crunch under the Tinga.  We had dinner, lunch for Dave the next day, and a container in the freezer for dinner one day when I'm not feeling like cooking.  A total win.

Pork Tinga
Cooks' Country Magazine December 2017

2 lb. boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 (15 oz) can tomato suace
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves

For serving:
corn or flour tortillas, or these chips
crumbled queso fresco
fresh cilantro leaves
sour cream
diced avocado
lime wedges

Combine pork, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, chile powder, 1 tsp. slat, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves in slow cooker.  Cook until pork is tender, 5-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.  Discard bay leaves.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork from the crock pot.  Using two forks, or your mixer, shred the pork.  Transfer contents of slow cooker to a 12 inch nonstick skillet.  Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and mixture begins to brown in spots, 10-12 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.  Spoon pork onto tortillas or chips.  Top with your choice of toppings.  Enjoy.  
Serves 4-6

5 years ago:   New Cookbooks

January 9, 2018  Sunrise 10:40  Sunset 3:16   Temp. H -9/ L -20˚F

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Pork Dust

With this new way of eating I have had to embrace pork dust.  It isn't as magical as fairy dust, but it has done me some good.  Pork dust is just plain chicharrones ground to a powder.  If you don't think about what they are, they are really good, and take the place of bread crumbs for so many things!  I use them for "breading" when I make minute steaks, chicken, or fish sticks, and they are the crunchy topping to this Halibut Olympia we have on the regular.  I'm going to try the spicy chicharrones ground and used as a coating for chicken wings.

I have gotten into the habit of buying a couple bags, grinding them all in my food processor, and keeping them in my freezer so I always have a ready supply.  If you are going low carb, this is the thing to try!

These chips are the perfect gateway recipe.  You'll never know what they are made of, they are crunchy, a little salty, and a good substitute for tortilla chips (something I can't have in my house or I'll eat the whole bag and not share).  I made a batch when I made some spicy pork tinga (recipe to come) and used it as a topping for my  chips.  It was a delicious, low carb dinner that really felt like such a treat!

I'm planning on making a double batch and having them for dips at our SuperBowl party in February.
These will be so good with artichoke-crab dip or spicy cheese dip.
Chips, pork, avocado, radishes, queso fresco, and cilantro...
the perfect bite.
This recipe makes 2 servings, but I ate most of them myself.  I had a couple left over that I crumbled and put on my salad for lunch the next day.  It was delicious.

It is a good thing they are easy and quick to make.  I know I'll be making them on a regular basis.  I might even have to take a little baggie of them with me when we go to our favorite Mexican place across the street and have them with the hot queso.  Tortilla chips are no longer a problem.

Pork Rind Chips
adapted from KetoConnect online

1.5 oz. pork rinds
3 oz. Queso Fresco 
2 Tsp. taco seasoning, homemade or store bought

Preheat oven to 450°F, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Break cheese up in chunks and add to food processor, process to break up into small pieces.  Add pork rinds, process until pork rinds and cheese are combined.  Add seasonings and process until well combined.

Pour onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and pat into a rectangle.  Keep the mixture about 1/8-1/4 inch thick, they tend to break if they get too thin.

Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and cut into desired shapes ( I cut long strips, then made triangles).  Spread out a little to separate chips.  

Reduce heat in oven to 400°F.  Bake chips for 8-10 minutes more, watching carefully so they don't get too browned (or burned).  Cool.
Makes 2 servings

Top with your favorite toppings, or use to dip into your favorite dips.  Enjoy.

5 years ago:  Dog Sledding

January 4, 2018   Sunrise 10:49 am  Sunset 3:02 pm   Temp H 11/ L 7°F

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy New Year!

I send wishes for a happy new year, full of love, good health, and exciting adventures! 

We spent Christmas with Gman and his people.  It was a fast, wonderful holiday FULL of delicious food.  I ate (and drank a little) and ate, and ate! 

Christmas Eve we went to the Seattle DIL's parent's house for dinner and family gifts.  Carol made a fantastic lasagna and had a wheat free version for those of us who were low carbing it.  Stuffed meatballs, salads, was a feast.  Then family presents.  How fun to watch kids open presents with abandon and squeal at the joy and delight of a new gift. I received a photo album of Gman and his adventures.  It was such a thoughtful gift from Carol.  Even though I can't be closer I'm so glad Gman has cousins, aunts, uncles, and his Nana and Papa only 20 minutes away.

The DIL had a wonderful surprise for me on Christmas morning; Keto crepes with fruit!  I was so touched that she went out of her way to make a special breakfast that I could eat without any tummy troubles. She also had Nutella, and I may or may not have had just a little with mine.  We also started the day with a champagne cocktail (cranberry juice, vodka and champagne topped with a sugared rim and cranberries on a sprig of rosemary for garnish) it was festive and beautiful.

A big surprise for all of us was a white Christmas.  We woke up to snow!  I was saying that it had been aver 30 years since I hadn't had snow on Christmas and it was a bit of a let-down, but I was not disappointed.  The DIL was very excited also and they went out and built a snowman with Gman.

It was a whirl-wind trip and we are home now, putting away our Christmas decorations and getting ready to head back to work.  My birthday is Friday and I thought I'd try making a crepe cake for myself and take it to the office.  The DIL sent me the recipe she used so I'll send along pictures of it after it is made later this week.
Gman loved his Nutella crepes!

I don't usually make new year's resolutions, I make birthday resolutions so I need to get them pinned down before Friday.  Some years I just resolve not to make resolutions, but this year I have some ideas for myself.  What resolutions are you going to be working on?
Christmas day lunch.  All Keto, what a thoughtful DIL.
1 year ago:     Happy New Year

January 2, 2018   Sunrise 10:52 am, Sunset 2:58 pm  Temp H 31/ L15˚F