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National Eggs Benedict Day!

For those of you not in the United States of America, we are a very traditional people. We have our traditions, and we love them. We love them so much we like to spread them around as much as possible. Fact is, most of our holiday traditions are based around food. Valentine's Day? Chocolate and heavy handed treats intended to elicit love and lust. Easter? Let's throw down on a ham, deviled eggs, and the ovum of some unholy rabbit that drops chocolate covered cream filled eggs. The Fourth of July (US Independence day) is all about filling yourself with as much grilled meat as humanly possible and then lighting things on fire. Halloween, the day of the dead, and candy, mainly candy though. Thanksgiving is were we all gather, again, and fill ourselves with way too much food, again, and then sit and watch football (So it's basically like most Sundays from August till January) Falling at the very end of the year is Christmas, a day where we spread the excess from food to gifts to decorations. So it's fitting then, that near the beginning of spring we have some sort of faux-holiday no one has ever heard of called National Egg's Benedict day.

I guess in a way it's fitting, after all it's not a dish that is known for its excessive size, however it will quickly fill even the mightiest stomach. It's a decadent, heavy, delicious little breakfast dish  in an open faced egg sandwich disguise. I myself happen to love Eggs Benedict. In fact just by looking at recent breakfasts of mine I happen to be a big fan of poached eggs on some sort of carb/starch/fiber with (most of the time) a hollendaise inspired dish.
Here to our right is a spanish style of it, instead of the normal sauce I used some salsa and it had some veggie patties and jalapenos with a little parm on top. Not terribly carb friendly I know.

Here to the right is a more Greek inspired version. Instead of the traditional sauce it was Greek yogurt with lemon and capers and olive oil. Again on a roll but skip that and just put it on a bed of spinach and bell peppers and garlic with an olive or two just for fun. Really I just like myself some poached eggs. I mean, how can you go wrong with soft boiled eggs that you don't have to deshell and can serve in a multitude of ways and have everyone all impressed with you for being able to go a step past boiling water?

But as for today's meal, the one pictured up top? It's absolutely Atkins friendly. So let's break it down a little shall we? First those rolls you see? They're called Oopsie Rolls! And are absolutely Carb Friendly rolling in at roughly a half carb per roll. At some point I'll put em in their own recipe as the Wife and I have some great dessert ideas for em. But for now you need to know how to make em! SO, here we go, what you'll need for the Oopsie Rolls

3 eggs
3oz Cream Cheese (or Mayo for a less sweet version)
one pinch Cream of Tartar.

Preheat your Oven to 300

Separate your eggs. With a whisk or a mixer whip the egg whites till they form stiff peaks (basically go at 'em hardcore with the mixer till they're all foamy and stand straight up when you pull em out.) Then add the cream cheese to the bowl with the yolks, and mix them together till they form a creamy yellow substance. Now gently fold the yolks into the whites without beating the whites too badly. Now gently spoon the mixture into a muffin pan and bake for roughly 30 minutes. IMPORTANT!!! Mine cooked in around 22 minutes and others have said 35, please watch for the golden brown deliciousness, it's how you'll know they're ready. This recipe should make six normal sized muffins/rolls within the pan and it comes out at .6 carbs per. Tasty as all get out too. In this picture I actually did one set of Mayo Rolls and one set of Cream Cheese rolls just to see the difference, mayo on left cheese on right. Soon I'll try it with Ricotta.

Ok, so those are in the oven and you've got twenty to thirty minutes so it's time to poach your eggs. As I said I love Poached eggs. Much like I have a certain proclivity for random capitalization in the middle of a sentence, but I digress. When I poach eggs I prefer to use a medium size frying pan that I can get about an inch of water, maybe an inch and a half into. Add a couple table spoons of vinegar to the water, it'll help keep the whites tighter around the yolk. Now get the water up to near boiling, where you see bubbles rising off the bottom of the pan, that's the perfect temperature. Now crack an egg into a cup/bowl if you wish, I find it easier, and use a spatula to get the water in the pan spinning. Pour the egg in, and using the spatula softly push the white to keep it close to the yolk. Typically takes 5-10 minutes to cook to soft boiled/medium boiled depending on your preference. Once it's hit the point you're happy with use a slotted spoon and lift the egg out onto a napkin/paper towel/absorbent thing to let the water run off while you make the amount you need.

Meanwhile you're actually going to be making two other things. Yes I'm keeping you busy as hell right now but believe me it's worth it! Whoever you make this for will have no choice but to love you forever because it'll be so tasty. So, action one of two here, fry bacon. Yep, fry the amount of bacon you need, you'll be having some bacon on top of the rolls in place of ham (or just use ham, I had none tonight and didn't wanna use any of my aged meats on it so we used turkey bacon and it was 5 tasties out of 5.)

Ok, action two here is making the Hollandaise sauce. For this I stole the recipe from Atkins.com so here it is, by the way it's not mine, it's Atkins.com's.  ( and by I stole it I mean my lovely wife did and made it tonight and it was oh so tasty)

 This recipe calls for clarified butter - meaning the milk solids are removed, which makes the sauce more stable.  If you prefer, simply melt the butter and add it in step 2 without straining it.

  1. Line a sieve with a damp paper towel and set over a 2-cup measuring cup. Bring butter to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until foam on top falls to the bottom and the butter begins to clear, about 8 minutes. Pour butter through sieve; set aside.
  2. Combine egg yolks and water in the top of a double boiler set over (not simmering in ) water set over medium-low heat; simmer until mixture has tripled in volume, about 3 minutes. Add butter in a slow and steady stream, whisking constantly until sauce thickens. Whist in lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Me, I like it the way my wife makes it, just a touch of mustard in it and some Paprika and black pepper on top once served.

Ok, now you've got all the components prepared, BUT WAIT! You still need a side dish! Even McDonald's offers a hash brown with their egg concoctions! But we can't have hash browns! Personally, I suggest just wilting some spinach in olive oil with some diced garlic, simple, tasty, and easy to do with the pan used for the bacon. (If you used real bacon, just do it in the bacon grease, still tasty and ties the dish together nicely. Turkey Bacon doesn't greasify like that.)

Now for the final step to this whole mess.ASSEMBLY! What? You think this is easy? PSSSHHHH! Look, there's an art to this... OK, there's really not. Just put down the rolls, then the meat, then the egg... Wait, the eggs got cold didn't they? This is no bueno, it's ok poached eggs are easy to reheat, just put em back in boiling water or hot water for a minute or two and you're set! Ok, back to the task at hand, now that the egg is neatly placed on top, drizzle a little sauce on it, place your side dish, maybe add a splash of sauce all around to look all pretty and fancy and what not. BAM! Amazing food. Now if only I had gotten this posted before or during National Eggs Benedict day (April 16th apparently. I think Kotaku.com had the link about the holliday or something. In truth I just wanted a reason to post about eggs.)

So, your nutrition round up per serving
Oopsie Rolls - .6 net carbs (really it'll depend on the brand of mayo/cream cheese)

The Poached Egg - .77ish if they're large eggs

Turkey Bacon - 0 carbs

Hollendaise Sauce - .2

Spinach side dish thingy!(name pending) - roughly 1 per serving. I did 3 cloves garlic to like 4 cups of spinach between 4 people.

Total per plate! (Traditionally it'd be two rolls each with meat/egg/sauce and some of the side dish) 3.2! Filling, tasty, a little bit of fiber, and room for desserts! Now that's a man meal!

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Faux Pasta Time!

So, it's time for some legitimate Faux-Pasta. Why the end of sentence capitalization? Because it's just that tasty. Let's face it, spaghetti and meat-balls is an eternal meal. From the age of 2 to 102 it's something that just about everyone can agree with. It's a great food to give to picky children. It's the easy choice at most Italian restaurants, and there are as many variations on this dish as there are places to order it. It's one of those heavily romanticized dishes, from Lady and the Tramp on we get to see couples coming together over this dish. So why miss out on it just because you're following a low carb lifestyle?

Now, please be aware of one thing, this is a fairly carby meal. At about 8 net Carbs per cup of spaghetti-squash, it's very easy to run up a massive amount of carbs. Either plan your day around this carb-heavy meal, or do this the true Italian way and allow the pasta to be a side dish as opposed to the Olive Garden style gargantuan main dish of pasta. Another thing to consider is the fact that your tomato sauce is also going to have it's fair share of Carbs in it. In other words, not till pre maintenance or maintenance.

Spaghetti Squash

1 Spaghetti Squash

Cut off the top most portion where the vine connected, and then split the squash in half length-wise and proceed to remove the seeds.

Pre-heat oven to 350

Place both halves of squash face down on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flip them face up and bake 5-10 more.

Here's where things get tough, you two choices, serve your spaghetti squash like this, using it's shell as a bowl. You can place your sauce and meatballs directly onto this and then just scoop the squash out with some sauce/meat as you go with your fork. It's definitely a fun way to show the dish off as it's fairly unique.

Your other choice is to use a fork, and with long steady strokes remove the squash in noodle like shapes. Depending on the done-ness of the squash it'll have a near al-dente like texture and will form long noodles. This is definitely the better way to prepare for multiple people/keeping your carbs in check.

But at the end of the day the choice is yours.

Now for what to put on the squash. Im going to give you two suggestions.

First is my favorite, a good spaghetti-sauce and scallops.

Cooper's pasta sauce of super uniqueness
1 jar low carb spaghetti-sauce
3 cloves garlic
1 zucchini
red pepper flakes
Pour Spaghetti-sauce into a large pot and turn the heat to medium/medium high. Slice Garlic and put into pot.

Slice the zucchini into small triangles and place into pot.

Sprinkle a tsp or so of thyme/basil/red pepper flakes into pot, and let it heat thoroughly/until the zucchini/garlic are cooked in.

Mix this with meatballs of choice, and pour over your spaghetti squash and enjoy. Here are two forms of meatballs, first is the aforementioned scallops, second will be my version of an italian meatball.

5-10 large Scallops
1.5 Tbs Butter
1.5 Tbs White cooking wine

in a frying pan heat the cooking wine and butter together on medium-high till the butter is completely melted. Place thawed scallops onto pan and cook a couple minutes, and then flip. The Scallops should have turned a slight golden brown around the edges on the face down side that's just a tiny bit crispy. Repeat on the other side, and they are ready to eat! tasty.

Cooper's vaguely italian meatballs

Another choice is these vaguely Italianish meatballs. Tasty, and slightly more traditional in the Americanized-Italian-food sense.

1lb Ground Beef
1lb Ground Pork
Grated Parmesan (The cheap stuff in the green canister)
Garlic powder

First thing you notice here is I didn't give you any measurements on anything beyond the meat and the egg. Why's that? Well, as I always say "Cooking is more of an Art than a science" This here is all about the flavors you like. I love a lot of pepper and garlic, some people don't. I can pick up on a faint hint of oregano and basil, some people can't. Do what you think tastes best.

Mix the meats together in a bowl so you have some bastardized pow or kig meat concoction. And the season it as you wish, mix the egg in, and lots and lots of Parm. At least 1/4 cup if not more as the Parm is acting as your bread crumbs. Once everything is thoroughly mixed together mold the mix into small golf-ball sized balls and place onto a baking sheet that's been lightly oiled/buttered.

Pre heat oven to 350 and bake for 25ish minutes, or just put these meatballs in with the squash, and pull them out when the squash is finished, that's what I do. Oh, and with meatballs it'll look something like [IMG]http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b293/kouper/008.jpg[/IMG]

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Ground beef and Eggplant.

So, for the many of you out there who don't know (and yes, there are that many of you that I say many) I lived in Hong Kong for 2 years. I won't go into why I lived there here, perhaps on a different blog, but it was an amazing time in one of the single most amazing cities on the planet.

Hong Kong truly is amazing, you have this massive range of architecture, from the sleek ultra modern HSBC headquarters building in Central, to the (insert traditional temple from all over the place here) right on to the multi century old walled cities in the new territories.

In just a few minutes walk you can go from a dense urban center with 40 story tall high rises to suddenly finding yourself in open fields of rice patties and other farms with just 3 story multi family homes with families working in the fields in traditional garb.

A city where you only drive if you wish to for pleasure or have to as a work duty, the public transportation is fabulous and a model of what the US should be using. Even still on any given day you can see a variety of cars as diverse as the people. Citizens and ex-patriots from all over the world reside here. Bringing with them their own cultures.

While the city isn't as much a melting pot of cultures as New York is, I'd still say it's the single most incredible place I've ever been in all my long hard years on this planet. It's beautiful in all sorts of ways, as I said before the man made creations are great, you've got beautiful jungles and mountains and the ocean near by, beautiful people (minus a snaggletooth or ten.) and amazing food.

Seriously, the food is amazing. One of my favorite things I've ever eaten was here, it's called in Cantonese -Yu Heung Kehji Faahn- or fish fragrant eggplant rice. Yep, that's an amazing translation there that tells you nothing. It's an eggplant dish in a sauce made of tomatoes, ground fish or beef or chicken (I've ordered it at dozens of places and gotten all sorts of variants for the ground meat) some onions and miscellaneous spices and rice. So freaking tasty.

So tonight after a long drive home from Sun Valley I decided I'd try and make it. Sadly I used some of the wrong ingredients and failed miserably, though I did enjoy what I made. Feel free to serve it as a soup/stew/chili thingy mabobber, or over the cauliflower faux rice we've posted.

1lb ground (beef/chicken/fish of some sort, preferably a darker tasting fish/tofu
1 white onion, cut into strips
1 large eggplant (Chinese preferred but normal eggplants work as well.)
1 can diced tomato
1 can diced tomato with chili seasoning (yep, this was my mistake)
3 cloves garlic
1tsp ground ginger/diced ginger
2tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 cup shao xin cooking wine (I substitute a dry sherry for this for other dishes, unsure here)
small chili peppers to taste

In a large wok Sauté the onions and then add the beef. Once the beef is mostly done add every thing else. For the eggplant, just before you put it in, slice it into thick sticks 2-3 inches long and maybe 1 inch squared, the second it's sliced toss it in so you don't have to watch it turn that nasty brown eggplant does when it oxidizes.

From here, let it all boil a bit with a lid over it till the meat is cooked through and the eggplant is soft and squishy. Serve, eat, marvel at how tasty your food is.

I must say, it wasn't the dish I wanted to make, but it was still quite tasty, not the prettiest, feel free to green it up with some zucchini or a little cilantro added last second. Please feel free to change it around, cooking is more of an art then a science, what strikes you may not strike me but as long as it's not poisonous/burning your house down/inflicting napalm.... never mind. If it's not causing harm and you like it you're doing it right.
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Shepard's Pie..... the Cooper way (ish)

Let's see, what do we have here? Beef, fauxtatoes, cheese, some green chili and garlic as well as some random veggies? Yep must be a man meal. Basically, it's male comfort food, good hearty winter grubbin here. A most excellent way to make use of some tasty ground beast. Let's face it, it's a crustless, large, beef pot pie and it's awesome, basically

2lb's Ground Beef
1 can diced tomatoes
half bag (8oz) green beans
2 cloves garlic
1 small can green mild chile's
1 onion
large mushrooms, I used 8 or 9
2 packages frozen cauliflower for fauxtatoes,
cheese. Your choice, however freaking much you want. (cheese is good! but no more then 4 oz per person per day of course)

Preheat oven to 350

in sauce pan sate mushrooms/onions then add beef. Once the beef is mostly cooked through add your can of tomatoes, the green beans chilies and garlic. Let this cook a bit till whatever liquid was added cooks out (should be fairly thick)

While you are doing this, prepare your fauxtatoes the way you like best.

Once both are finished move the beef mixture into a casserole, and then pat the Fauxtatoes down on top so it looks like a fauxcrust (HA! see what I did there?)

Sprinkle cheese on top of fauxtatoes, place in oven for 10-15 minutes (cheese should brown just a little on top)

Withdraw from oven, let cool a few before attempting to serve.

Devour the tasty beastmixture and rejoice.

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Greek Chicken + Bonus Dish

Cooper here, likely posting on my wife's behalf for the foreseeable future.

So, here is where I should ramble on about this beautiful trip I took to Greece. Truly a beautiful country, a remarkable history, and wonderful people. I could tell you about all the delicious food and the amazing sights the ancient ruins and the beaches. And of course I couldn't leave out the women. Lets face it, Mediterranean women in general are fairly attractive and Greek women? Damn.

I would also tell you about how one evening this beautiful woman invited me home, we had this amazing chicken that she'd baked up. It was cooked with lemon and oregano and basil and feta cheese with a hint of garlic. The chicken was tender perfect, the herbs building up while the acid in the lemon cut straight through and balanced out the sharpness of the feta. She served it with a side that was comprised of sliced tomatoes, doused in an artichoke vinaigrette dressing topped with Feta cheese and then baked till the top of the cheese was crispy. This meal in particular was something to include in a story I could tell you about my trip to Greece.

Unfortunately I can't tell you about my trip to Greece as I have never been, the story I tell you would likely be a complete and utter fabrication, a work of poorly devised fiction designed to build up some meal that I cooked here in snowy Utah where the oldest building is less than 150 years old and the nearest ocean side beach is more then 600 miles away. Though the part about hot Mediterranean women and Grecian women in particular being hot? Totally true. And the attractive Greek girl baking this meal for me? Also true as my wife has made it several times, and is of Greek descent.

Greek Chicken

4 Boneless Chicken Breasts
2-3 Lemons
Feta Cheese

Preheat oven to 350

Rub a little butter/olive oil/pam/whatever other semi flavorful-lubricating substance on bottom of a medium to small sized casserole

Slice 1-1.5 lemons into small rings and place them on the bottom of a casserole dish

Pat both sides of Chicken breasts with the oregano and basil, then place in casserole dish ontop of lemon rings

Slice up one more lemon (maybe just a half, this is all to your own taste anyway) and put a couple rings on each breast, and squeeze out maybe a half lemon onto the chicken breasts.

Sprinkle feta and capers onto chicken, more is always better. (in my opinion of course)

Let the chicken bake for 25-30 minutes. Since all ovens vary, your altitude and the alignment of the moon and planets will vary as well this may change for you personally. (though seriously, 30 minutes should be about perfect for moist amazing chicken)

Remove from oven, check to make sure your chicken is cooked properly (I like my beef and fish rare, but uncooked chicken is just nasty.... and dangerous) Now serve alongside the ground up cauliflower like rice, or maybe some fotatoes and the usual large helping of rabbit food + a boring dressing!!!!!

...... You could serve it like that, and it'd still be delicious. Or you could go the extra mile and whip up the little tomato dish I described.

Baked Tomato and feta side thingy!

5 large tomatoes
Feta cheese
The tasty vinaigrette of your choice

preheat oven to 350

Butter/oil up a small pie dish

Slice tomatoes into thin rings spreading them all around the dish and on top of each other.

Douse in dressing, but don't drown them

Sprinkle feta on top to taste

Put in oven on very top rack for 5-10 minutes. I did it for last 10 of the Greek Chicken dish and it was perfect.

Pull out, serve, and enjoy in how tasty a simple 3 ingredient combo can be!
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Parmesan Baked Egg

You know those lazy Saturday/Sunday mornings (or whatever day of the week you have extra time in the morning) where you want breakfast, but you want something more than the usual egg scramble? That is what this dish is for. I love it, you get cheese, butter, cream and eggs cooked in a fashion that you don't see often. Carbs are practically none existent here and in their place is loads of taste!

Using ramekins as serving and cooking dishes fill each with

1 Egg
2Tbs Cream
2Tbs butter
2Tbs Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 and place the ramekins in another dish/pot/pan filled with enough water to come half way up the ramekins. Once the oven is preheated, let them cook for 30 minutes and they should be done. To be honest I've only ever done four at a time, so your time may vary. They should look as pictured the egg will be fully cooked but soft and submerged in that tasty goopy melted butter. Depending on how many Carbs you are consuming per day you may wish to serve this with grilled asparagus, a sliced up tomato (oh so tasty) or other options. If you happen to be serving them for someone who can consume more carbs, or just plain doesn't care this goes great with toast or an English muffin.
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Product Rave: La Banderita Low Carb Tortillas

So to me, lots of Low Carb Tortillas Whole Wheat Tortillas taste a lot like....um...well... cardboard. Even in my all about whole grains/whole food/whole wheat craze, I still bought the white flour tortillas because I could stomach their taste....

Not These.

These tortillas are so awesome! I found La Banderita Low Carb Tortillas at my normal Kroger grocery store. They come in packages of eight and they are 5 NET CARBS each (9g total carb, 5g Dietary Fiber) with ZERO sugar, and 5 grams of protein.

Basically, they are pretty awesome. I have so far made beef burritos (man, have I MISSED these!), had one toasted on the stove with butter and salt as a snack, and one for lunch with peanut butter and low carb grape jelly. mmmm.... They are quite versitile. And DELICIOUS. :) Go get some!