Pumpkin Chai Mug Cake (Keto)

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I’ve tried quite a few grain-free cake-type desserts that all turn out like the consistency of a sweet pile of scrambled eggs.  Well, either that or a super dry scone-brick.  This is light and fluffy (at least while it’s hot–it hasn’t made it long enough to hit the cold stage, so I don’t know what it’s like then).  It’s a little more wet than traditional cake, but it’s not like eating pumpkin eggs.  It packs a wallop of a nutritional punch, and would likely be a great breakfast if you paired it with some bacon!

Unlike many keto or paleo/primal desserts, this is nut-free and coconut-free.  If you want to make this primal or paleo, you can.  You would replace the sweetener with honey or maple syrup–I don’t know the measurements of that replacement, and it would significantly alter the sugar content, but you could do it.

This is nutritionally dense enough that I can’t eat one whole serving by myself, so you might want to find someone to share this with.  Once they smell it, people should be lining up to apply for that position.

Pumpkin Chai Mug Cake (Keto)

1 serving

Nutrition: Calories (282), Total Fat (19 g), Saturated Fat (3.2 g), Total Carbs (12.8 g), Fiber (8.7 g), Net Carbs (4.1 g), Sugar (1.4 g), Protein (18.2 g)

1/4 C flax meal

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tsp stevia

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of cardamom

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3 Tbsp pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 egg

small pinch of sea salt

1.- In small bowl, whisk egg and pumpkin.  Add in all dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.

2.- Pour into mug.  For shorter/wider mugs, microwave for 1:45-2:00.  For taller/thinner mugs, microwave for 2:00-2:30.

3.- To put on a plate, run a knife around the edge to loosen.  Flip the mug over onto a plate.  The cake will be steaming when it first comes out.  If you don’t want your whipped cream to slide right off, let it cool for a couple minutes.

Sheik al Mehshee (Keto and Primal)

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This past Thursday, I went to a Lebanese cooking class at CENTRAL MARKET, the shmancy grocery store next door to us (I mean really, could we live next to a more awesome place?).  It was an AWESOME class, where most of the recipes were adapted from recipes in ROSE WATER AND ORANGE BLOSSOMS, one of my favorite Lebanese cookbooks.  There’s something you should know though: I don’t particularly like eggplant, and I’m not much for tomato sauce, both of which are key components in this dish.  That being said, I LOVE the eggplant in this dish.  Still not big on tomato sauce (plus, it has like 40 bajillion carbs), so I altered the sauce a bit.  Okay, a lot.  It doesn’t really resemble the original sauce at all, other than it contains tomatoes and ground beef.

So, I turned it into a tomato cream sauce (hello, more fat), took out the carby onions, changed up the spices, and added layers of cheese.  Next time I might toss some ricotta in there as well, but I didn’t have any to work with tonight.  Oh well.  According to my husband, he could eat the whole pan, so I guess that means it’s good.  Seriously though, it’s delicious.

Sheik al Mehshee (Keto and Primal)

Serves 4

Nutrition info per serving: Calories (504), Total Fat (44.8 g), Saturated Fat (11.4 g), Total Carbs (11.8 g), Fiber (4.8 g), Net carbs (7 g), Sugars (6.2 g), Protein (18.1 g)

1.5# eggplant, 1/8-1/4″ slices

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

3/4# ground beef (or lamb)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp Lebanese Seven Spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 can stewed tomatoes

1/4 C heavy cream

1/3 C pine nuts

8 oz shredded mozzarella

1.- Set oven to broil.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Trim each end of the eggplant, then slice and place on baking sheet.  Brush each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Broil until deep brown (about 10-15 minutes per side).

2.- Adjust oven temperature to 375.  In skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef.  Season with 1/2-1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp Lebanese Seven Spice, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Stir well and cook until browned.  Add stewed tomatoes and crush up with the meat.  Add in heavy cream and simmer a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken and spices are incorporated.

3.- Lightly oil an 8×8 square baking dish.  Spread a couple spoonfuls of the sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Layer some eggplant, then cheese, then pine nuts, then more sauce.  Repeat layers, ending with eggplant on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 80 minutes.  Remove the foil, spread another layer of mozzarella, then put back in the oven, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbling.  Let cool a few minutes before serving.

 

How to Build a Mezze Platter (Primal and Mostly Keto)

Mezze 1

I had some friends over this past weekend for one of the 2-3 days per year that I deem to be “spa day.”  Basically, I gather up a bunch of body/home product recipes that I want to try out, and a few times a year I make a bunch of them all day.  Many of them become standard holiday gifts that we give out.  Usually I do it alone, but I decided that it would be fun with other people, along with wine and (of course) food.  I’m Italian and Lebanese, so both of my nationalities are known for feeding people.  That’s just what we do.  I’ve all but given up most Italian foods, as pretty much none of them work within the confines of a keto diet; however, many Middle Eastern dishes can become compliant (you just omit the bread).  In the Italian culture, one would make an antipasti plate.  In the Lebanese culture, the equivalent dish is called a mezze platter.  Typically the dishes are HUGE–like, between one and three feet in diameter–and are packed full of food.  You can put basically anything you want on the plate, but the purpose is for everyone to eat off of the communal plate.  Part of the enjoyment of the food is in sharing the food, so this is very important.

 

Tzatziki

Tzatziki (2)

Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh

Zucchini Hummus

Hummus

Dip/Salad Trio

Mezze 2

Some of the things I put on my platter weren’t entirely low-carb (hello, figs); however, I just avoided those.  If you look up “mezze platter,” you will find thousands of things you can include…but here is what I chose for this:

Seriously, making mezze for your gatherings will free up way more of your time so you can actually enjoy yourself.  Take it from someone who plans 78-course elaborate dinners on the regular…for this one, I got to breathe and eat…the whole time.

Zucchini Hummus

Approximately 15 servings

Nutrition per serving: Calories (115), Fat (10.5 total, 1.6 sat), Carbs (3.4 total, 1.6 fiber, 1.8 net), Protein (2.9)

3-4 zucchini, peeled and chopped (about 3 C)

1/2 C fresh lemon juice

3/4 C tahini

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp cumin

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

4 cloves garlic, peeled

Paprika to garnish

1.- Put everything in a blender.  Blend on high until creamy (about 60-90 seconds).

2.- Pour into container and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.  This will thicken up a little while chilling, but it is a thinner consistency than hummus made with chickpeas.

“Nutella” Cookies (Keto and Paleo)

Nutella Cookies

This is a cookie for all times of the day.  Breakfast, snack, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch…  Whatever meal you’re having, this is a cookie to go with it.  Hell, break them up, pour some dairy over them, and call them cereal.  Isak LOVES them.  Especially with whipped cream.  Full disclosure though, he loves everything with whipped cream.  But these he even loves without.

There is one down side: hazelnuts are far from the cheapest nuts and far from the cheapest flour.  If you aren’t stuck on having the hazelnut flavor, you could likely substitute any nut flour for the hazelnut flour (I will eventually try cashew, myself).  Pistachio would be good too.  Okay, now I’m drooling over the thought of macadamia.  You can pretty much pack the sheet with these–they don’t spread.  Keep that in mind when you’re forming them.  I made mine about 3/4 the diameter of Oreos.  So yeah, try these out.  I’m going to make about 400 dozen to take on our upcoming trip to Ohio.

“Nutella” Cookies (Keto and Paleo)

32 small cookies

Nutrition: 57 calories, 5 g fat, 2.1 carbs (1.2 g fiber, 0.2 g sugar, 0.9 net carbs), 1.6 g protein 

1 C hazelnut meal/flour (you can buy this or make your own)

1/2 C almond flour

3 T flax seed meal

2 tsp chia seeds

1/4 C cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 C chopped pecans

1 egg

3 Tbsp melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 C stevia in the raw

squirt of liquid stevia

1.- Heat oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

2.- In medium bowl, combine hazelnut flour, almond flour, flax seed meal, chia seeds, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, chopped pecans, and 1/4 C stevia in the raw.

3.- In large bowl, mix egg, butter, vanilla, and a squirt of liquid stevia.  Mix dry into wet and combine well.

4.- Roll and flatten on silpat.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Remove cookies to cooling rack and let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Chicken Curry Meatballs with Smokey Bacon Cream (Keto and Whole30)

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I’m pretty sure that these could be made with any meat, but today, I made them with chicken.  They had a fantastic flavor!  And the sauce?  All bets are off.  I’m going to make the sauce to put on pretty much everything.  I mean…bacon…coconut milk…where can you go wrong?

Full disclosure: these meatballs are pretty dense.  They’ll be small, but they pack a mad nutritional punch.  Per meatball, you’re looking at 11.2 grams of fat with half of it being saturated, 2.5 grams of carbs with just over half of that as fiber, 9 grams of protein, and the addition of chia seeds and ground flax meal.  That combined with the bacon fat and coconut milk…I ate three of them and was finished for the night.  They would also be good in a lettuce wrap, but tonight we ate them by their lonesome.

Buon appetito!

Chicken Curry Meatballs with Smokey Bacon Coconut Cream (Keto and Whole30)

20 servings

Nutrition per serving: 138 calories, 11.2 g fat (5.6 g saturated), 2.5 g carbs (1.3 g fiber, 1.2 g net carbs), 0.3 g sugar, 8.9 g protein

1# ground chicken

3 Tbsp coconut flour

2 Tbsp chia seeds

2 Tbsp ground flax meal

1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 ground turmeric

4 tsp curry powder, divided

1 tsp red curry paste

Salt

1 C canned full-fat coconut milk

6 oz bacon, chopped

Coconut oil

1.-In large bowl, mix chicken, coconut flour, chia seeds, ground flax meal, egg and yolk, garlic, spices, and 2 tsp curry paste in a bowl.  Mix until well combined.  Form into 20 small meatballs and chill for at least 30 minutes.

2.-Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy.  Remove and set aside.  Remove all but 1 Tbsp bacon grease.  To the bacon grease, add 1 Tbsp coconut oil.  When hot, add meatballs and brown for 30-40 seconds on each side.  Add coconut milk and 2 tsp curry paste.  Mix the paste into the sauce and cover pan.  When the coconut milk comes to a simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low and let cook for 6-8 more minutes.  Remove lid and stir to coat the meatballs with sauce.

3.-Serve with chopped basil or cilantro.  You could also serve this over cauli-rice.

Lamb Kafta and Tzatziki (Keto and Primal–the Meatballs are Whole30 Compliant)

Lamb Kafta Meatballs

You all know how much I love Middle Eastern food.  There is no other set of flavors in the world that come close to competing.  The only thing about that is…Middle Eastern cuisine can be heavy on the bread.  I mean, many of the countries don’t even use utensils.  They just use pita.  And really, who wouldn’t rather use bread as a utensil?

I messed around with a few of my kafta recipes and found a good mixture of them that doesn’t use bread crumbs, nuts. or any other starch as filler, and they turned out perfectly!  They were so perfectly tender, juicy, and delicious!  The most important part is to use a food processor of some sort when making the meat mixture.  That way, everything was mixed (and further minced) really well.  The tzatziki lends itself well to the meatballs, as well as the lamb shawarma I made tonight (recipe to follow soon).  I might even eat it like yogurt–it has just under 1 g carbs per tablespoon (it’s about 0.7 g per tablespoon), but it’s not something you’ll eat huge quantities of.  Raw garlic can get spicy!

You can likely make these with any meat mince, but traditionally, they would be lamb.  Unless you REALLY don’t like lamb, try it out before you change up the meat.  It’s to die for!

Lamb Kafta

18 servings (1 meatball per serving)

Nutrition per serving: Calories (50), Fat (3.1 g), Saturated Fat (1.1 g), Cholesterol (15.7 mg), Sodium (15), Carbs (0.1 g), Protein (5.1 g)

1# ground lamb

1 Tbsp chopped mint

1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp fresh thyme

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1.- Heat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Finely chop mint, cilantro, and time.

2.- In the bowl of a food processor, break up the ground lamb into a few chunks.  Add spices, chopped herbs, and garlic.  Pulse for a minute or two until the meat is well-mixed and becoming smooth.

3.- Roll into 15-20 meatballs (I made 18, so the nutrition is based on 18 meatballs) and place on baking sheet.  Cook in oven for 18-20 minutes.  Serve with tzatziki.

Tzatziki

Makes about 3 C.  Serving size is 1 Tbsp.

Nutrition: Calories (20), Fat (1.6 g), Saturated Fat (0.5 g), Cholesterol (1.6 mg), Sodium (3.4 mg), Total Carbs (0.7 g), Sugar (0.5 g), Protein (0.9 g)

16 oz full-fat Greek yogurt (2 C)

2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced (set back 1/2 cucumber’s worth of fine dice in a bowl and save)

1 tsp basil

1 tsp tarragon

2 tsp chopped mint

2 tsp chopped dill

5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper to taste

1.- Put everything except the reserved cucumber mince in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until mixed well.

2.- Pour into bowl, stir in reserved cucumber, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  I added about a tsp of Lebanese seven-spice as well, but that’s just a personal preference.

3.- Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.  This goes well with pretty much every meat on the planet.

 

 

Artichoke Dip Chicken (Keto and Primal)

Keto Artichoke Chicken

One of my favorite things in the world is artichoke dip…but a specific artichoke dip from a local place here called Cerroni’s Purple Garlic.  I don’t know what it is about it (though I think they may have recently changed their recipe), but it has this great flavor, texture, and the way they serve it is great!  First, it is generally still bubbling when they bring it out.  Like…for 10 minutes after it gets to your table.  They serve it with a basket of toasted bread.  It’s all I want to eat when we go there.  If I could, I would make it my entire meal.  Alas, I found out they use flour in it, so I can’t even get it and eat it without the bread (yes, it’s good enough to just eat with a spoon).  At one point a few weeks ago, I started trying to replicate it, and though I’ve gotten close, I’m not a dead ringer yet.  That being said, artichoke dip with fried chicken is DELIGHTFUL.

There are two ways that I cook this, and I’ll let you decide which way you make it: chicken on top, or chicken on bottom.  If you cook the chicken on top, the skin retains that great crisp that you work hard to get in the pan, prior to baking.  BUT…if you pile the artichoke dip on top of the chicken, it really keeps the chicken moist and the flavor soaks in.  It’s good both ways, so try it both ways and see how you like it.  This is also one of those meals that usually holds me over for 15-20 hours before I eat again, depending on what I ate prior to this.

Artichoke Dip Chicken

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)

1/2 C sour cream

1/2 C mayonnaise (homemade is the best)

8 oz soft cream cheese

1 C grated Parmesan

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1.- Heat iron skillet to medium.  Salt and pepper the skin of the chicken.  Put chicken in the pan and fry it for 10-15 minutes per side (until they are almost cooked through and the skin is crisp).

2.- In medium bowl, use mixer to mix sour cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese, garlic, and Parmesan until smooth.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.  Fold in the artichoke hearts.

3.- Heat oven to 350.  If cooking chicken on bottom, place chicken in the bottom of am 8×8 glass baking dish.  Cover with artichoke dip.  If cooking chicken on top, spread the artichoke dip on bottom of 8×8 glass baking dish and place the chicken on top.  I grated a little Parmesan over the chicken skin at this point.

4.- Put dish in oven, uncovered, and bake for 30-40 minutes (until dip is starting to bubble).  Take out and enjoy!

Nutrition (per serving):  Calories: 596; Carbs: 12 g; Fiber: 3 g; Net Carbs: 9 g; Fat: 48 g; Protein: 32 g; Sugar: 4 g

 

Keto Chicken and Waffles

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…Because sometimes you need some comfort food…especially when you haven’t had bread in over a month.  Am I right?  These waffles are a recipe I made out of a few different recipes.  I didn’t want to use 400 types of paleo flours.  I didn’t want it to be high-carb, but I DID want it to be high fiber.  I wanted it to be similar to regular waffles, but not *so* identical that I would start trolling for syrup.

And fried chicken.  Everything is made better with fried chicken.  For the love of all things holy, use the dark meat cuts too!  I know too many people who only eat the white meat.  I’ll break it down for you: white meat is only protein (and a little fat, but mostly protein).  Dark meat has protein, fat, and a whole lineup of vitamins!  It’s important to get vitamins when partaking in a keto diet, especially if you aren’t getting your daily allotment of carbs from berries and vegetables.

So go drag out these ingredients and get out the waffle maker!  (Tip: use a high heat setting on your waffle iron…I used “medium” and as you can see, they are blonde.  They are only browned in the center, where the iron really hit the batter)

Side bar: These are most definitely kid-friendly.  I’m pretty sure Isak ate a stack of these (okay, three) in a few seconds, then started picking pieces off my plate to eat.

Waffles

Makes 10 small waffles

8 eggs

1/4 C butter melted + 1 Tbsp cold butter, divided

1/2 C canned coconut milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 C sifted coconut flour

Heaping 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt

  • If you want to make these more dessert waffles, add any mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel, lemon zest, or poppy seeds.
  • I suspect you could bake this in a muffin pan and use it like a base for strawberry shortcake, but I haven’t tried it yet.  I’m planning on doing that this weekend

1.- Whisk eggs 3-4 minutes, until bubbly and starting to pale in color.  Whisk in the butter at a slow drizzle.  Add vanilla and coconut milk and whisk until well-combined.

2.- In small bowl, mix sifted coconut flour, baking soda, and salt until combined.  Slowly whisk dry ingredients into the egg mixture until starting to thicken.  Let it rest about 10-15 minutes, so the coconut flour can absorb more liquid.  It will get thicker.  If it gets too thick (like, if you let it sit for an hour), add a little more coconut milk.

3.- Cook according to the directions on your waffle iron.

 

For this particular recipe, I fried chicken thighs and set one thigh on top of two waffles.  I sprinkled the skin on the thighs with salt and pepper, and friend them for about 10-12 minutes on each side in a seasoned cast iron skillet.

 

Nutritional Content per Waffle: Calories (96), Total Fat (7g), Saturated Fat (3.3g), Cholesterol (155.7 mg), Sodium (58 mg), Total Carbs (3.4g), Fiber (2.4g), Net Carbs (1g), Sugars (0.8g), Protein (6.3g)

 

Seriously Amazing Pizza (Primal and Keto)

Keto Pizza

Okay, even though pizza is not my favorite food (I’m blaming my mom–she ate pizza all the time when she was pregnant with me), I still occasionally miss it.  Plus, I can put anything on a pizza and Isak will suck it down.  Spinach, liver, tin cans, whatever.  But now that we’ve gone beyond a basic primal diet and moved into a fully keto diet (we are both now fully fat adapted–woohoo!), pizza is pretty much off the table.

That is, until I found a recipe for this crust.  You know how any sort of gluten-free pizza crust is basically just full of sadness and despair?  Am I the only one who thinks that?  They typically use rice flour, which is just gross, and nowhere near the consistency of real flour.  They always just…fall apart.  I’m not going to lie: this is not the same consistency of a regular filled-with-delicious-gluten crust.  It is, however, practically the consistency of a thin crust, AND you can hold it just like a slice of pizza.  It doesn’t turn into pizza-flavored baby food (that’s a conversation I had at Isak’s dance school today about trying multiple types of cauliflower crust).

So what’s it made out of?  Cheese.  Yep, the base of it is cheese.  I got this from EAT FAT LOSE FAT and played around with it until I found a flavor that I liked.  Side bar: If you just make the crust of the pizza, you can cut it into rectangles with a pizza wheel and make lovely bread sticks.  Game changer.

Seriously Amazing Pizza (Primal and Keto)

Serves 2-3

6 oz shredded mozzarella (you can also mix in cheddar)

2 T full-fat cream cheese (for those of you who aren’t doing keto, the full-fat part is important)

4 Tbsp grated Parmesan (Fresh grated–come on, people.  We aren’t animals)

1/3 C + 1T cashew (or almond) flour

2 Tbsp psyllium husk powder (you can get this in most “health food” stores, and some regular grocery stores–this gives it the texture of bread)

1 egg

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1.- Heat oven to 450 (the original says to heat to “broil.”  Our broiler isn’t super reliable, so 450 is fine).  Put the shredded mozz into a medium bowl and heat in microwave until melted, but not browned.  This took me about three or four 30-second zaps.  It will be like cheese-flavored Gak when you get done.

2.- Let it cool for a minute or two and then dump everything else in the bowl.  Sprinkle the psyllium evenly or it gets clumpy.  Put on your gloves (you guys all have cooking gloves, right?) and start doing your Mixing Dough dance.  You don’t have one?  Maybe that’s just me.  Weird.  It will be super mushy and sticky.

3.- Get out your silpat (or greased parchment paper, whatever) and flatten it with your hands until it’s the size you want.  It’ll make a 10-12″ round.  Don’t make it so thin that there are holes.

4.- Cook in the oven for about 5-10 minutes.  You want it to be browned.  Take it out, flip the crust over, and cook another 5 minutes.  Take it out and put on your toppings.  I used about 2 Tbsp of plain tomato sauce, more mozz, pepperoni, mushrooms, basil, and oregano.  Put whatever you want.  Cook it another 5-10 minutes.  Let it cool about 5-ish minutes before cutting it.

Seriously, you will not regret making this pizza.  Go buy the stuff now.

 

Squashy Enchiladas (Primal)

Enchilada Bowl

I love enchiladas.  Technically, my favorite enchiladas to get are just plain cheese enchiladas.  I kinda hate the ones with meat in them.  One of my best friends and I used to go down to Little Mexico in Kansas City and eat at this place called EL PUEBLITO.  I have ONLY ever ordered one thing there.  I tend to do that with Mexican restaurants.  I find one thing and never order anything else.  At El Pueblito, I would order Enchiladas Mexicanas con Queso.  Never anything else.  My friend would occasionally mix it up and get flautas, but I never strayed.  The thing that made it AMAZING was their sauce, the chihuahua cheese, and the heaps of queso fresco on top.  It was like crack.  Oh, and did I tell you that seemed to have never-ending hours?  I can’t tell you how many times we went there in the middle of the night.

Anyway, I haven’t had many enchiladas lately because since I’ve gone away from corn, if I try to add it in occasionally, it usually makes my stomach hurt for a few hours after I eat.  This seems to happen more with corn starch than with whole corn, but it’s still not comfortable.  Anyway, I saw one of those videos that was showing you how to make fake “enchiladas,” but in a bowl of spaghetti squash (full disclaimer: this was the first time I tried spaghetti squash–it is delicious, but unlike some people tell you, it is NOT a substitute for spaghetti noodles unless you have never tried spaghetti).  I tweaked the recipe a bit and made it primal…but this is what I came up with.  It’s not a complete replacement for El Pueblito (but that does not matter, because I am living in San Antonio now…so when we go back to KC, I just suck it up and eat the corn tortillas), but the flavor profile is ALL THERE!

Squashy Enchiladas

Serves 2-4

1 spaghetti squash

2 tsp olive oil

Salt, to taste

1+ C enchilada sauce (In small saucepan, add a little olive oil and saute 2 minced garlic cloves for a few seconds.  Add 2 Tbsp chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, 1 1/3 C tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 3/4 C chicken broth, and salt and pepper.  Simmer 10-ish minutes and set aside until needed)

1 C whatever Mexican cheese blend you want to use (I used a mixture of chihuahua, jack, and cheddar)

Queso Fresco, chopped scallions, olives, avocado, chopped peppers, chopped cilantro, and whatever other toppings you want to put on top

1.- Oven to 400.  Put spaghetti squash on paper towel in microwave and heat for two minutes to soften.  Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and soft part in the middle.  Brush all of the exposed fleshy area (not the outer rind–just the inner part you’ll eat) with olive oil.  Liberally salt.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the squash halves upside down on the pan.  That is, so the fleshy part you’ll eat is facing DOWN.  Bake about 45 minutes.

2.- Let it cool a bit (maybe 5-10 minutes) and then use a fork to flake the squash.  It’ll come away from the sides, easily flaking into strands that look like pasta.  Put about 1/2-3/4 of a cup of enchilada sauce into each bowl, on top of the flaked squash.  Cover with your cheese blend and put them back in the oven for another 15 or so minutes.  When it comes out, top with scallions, cilantro, LOTS of queso fresco, and any other toppings that sound good.  Serve immediately and take pictures of your sauce-covered drunken-on-enchilada-goodness face.  Yep, they’re that good.