Bacon Bowls


Over the years I’ve purchased lots of “As Seen On TV Items”. From “Shake Weights” to “toning shoes” to  ridiculous ab workout machines, I’ve wasted plenty of pennies on, what turned out to be (at least for me), a bunch of CRAP.

When I purchased the “Perfect Bacon Bowl” a couple of years ago, I was skeptical of course, but really hopeful it would work. I had been making bacon bowls (I eat low carb at home) for years, constructing the baking contrapment out of multiple ramekins and foil (photos below), so the advertised bacon bowl just seemed perfectly fantastic!

How did it work? Well, see the photo above? That’s my perfect bacon bowl. You can buy the bowls on Amazon (I got the set of two), but I’ve also seen them at my local market. These bowls are small, which are perfect to hold scrambled eggs or a side salad.


My first bacon bowls, back in 2008. These were extra large for dinner salads.


Smaller bacon bowls with the Perfect Bacon Bowl kit. I first baked in the oven, but the microwave is SO much faster.

TIPS:
Make sure you use cooking spray to make clean up easier.
I found that THICK bacon worked best.
I also use a large microwave plate cover so the grease doesn’t go everywhere.

And sure, you could use a muffin tin upside down in the oven (placed on a larger baking sheet to catch grease) to make small bacon bowls, but you can’t place THAT in the microwave.

Video: Step-by-Step Guide to Making The Perfect Bacon Bowl

The Perfect Bacon Bowl on Amazon

PerfectBaconBowl.com

#LowCarbJo Recipes here

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Spicy Pork Rind-Crusted Bacon


I first saw pork rind-crusted bacon on a terrific low carb blog called, “Step Away From The Carbs”. Being a bacon fanatic, of course I immediately made them, which was a cinch since I always have bacon in the fridge, plus bags of chicharrones (fried pork rinds) in the freezer. I use ground up pork rinds instead of traditional bread crumbs when I cook low carb at home.

In the past, I’ve made candied bacon with brown sugar which gave the bacon a terrific crunch, but it was always a bit too sweet for me. This pork rind-crusted bacon is absolutely my new favorite, low carb snack. I add cayenne pepper and crushed red peppers for an extra kick.

Ingredients:
1 cup of ground, fried pork rinds (store-bought chicharrones)
6 pieces of thick bacon
1 egg mixed with one tablespoon of water in a pie plate (or something similar)
Cayenne pepper (I used 1/2 teaspoon but judge for yourself)
Crushed red peppers (I used a teaspoon to sprinkle on after cooking)
Black pepper (optional)
Parsley or thyme to garnish after plating (optional)

You’ll also need:
Non-stick baking rack (or baking rack with non-stick spray)
Baking sheet
Foil (wrap baking sheet with foil to catch bacon grease)


Preheat oven to 400°. Bring bacon to room temperature.


Blitz pork rinds in food processor or use a sealed bag to crush by hand (or mallet). Add cayenne and black pepper (optional).


Set up a dredging station with the egg/water and ground pork rinds. Take each piece of bacon and dip in egg then pork rinds, shake loose rinds and place directly onto baking rack.


Prep baking tray by lining with foil to catch drippings. If you don’t have a nonstick baking rack, spray with non-stick spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until done to your liking.


I kept the bacon full length in the first batches, then cut them in half to STOP ME FROM eating too many in one sitting (it didn’t work). These are so good on their own, and really bring joy to a salad too.

Top Photo: Pork-rind crusted bacon on avocado and slaw.

More low carb recipe ideas here.

Step Away From The Carbs blog.

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Low Carb Frico (Parmesan Crackers)

Frico (Parmesan Crackers) & Seeds
I’ve been cooking up lots of frico (parmesan crackers) lately. Mostly to top salads, but I also use them on soups and simple snacking too. These frico with toasted seeds were a big hit at my dinner table recently. So easy to make and low carb too!

Step-by-Step
How to make Frico w Toasted Seeds
Clockwise (from top left):
1. Sprinkle seeds in heated non-stick pan.
2. Add shredded Parmesan (Manchego is lovely too) and make sure the seeds are covered with cheese bits. Use a spatula to make a tight circle.
3. When the edges turn brown, gently start lifting with a thin spatula.
4. Turn frico (use two spatulas if needed) and cook until browned underneath. Carefully transfer frico to plate and let cool to harden. Break into pieces for salad topping or just EAT as is.

This works with pieces of herbs or leafy greens too. Frico with toasted baby kale here.

More Low Carb Recipes here

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Originally publishes 5/9/2015

Churrasco + Spicy Herb Sauce


My husband Peter and I love grilled skirt steak and we eat it several times a month. The beef is so flavorful that it really doesn’t NEED a marinade, and it cooks up quickly on the grill or stovetop.

Skirt steak is usually so much cheaper than rib eye or filet mignon, and (in my humble opinion) it tastes better than those more expensive cuts.

Churrasco is (according to Dictionary.com), “a South American method of grilling meat on a wood or charcoal fire, especially in Argentina and Brazil.” The Spanish word churrascar means “to scorch or singe.”

Luckily for us, we have an Argentinian restaurant just up the street, and since we try to eat low carb at home, it’s our “go to” take out dinner when we’re working late.

However, I love it best when Peter and I cook steak together, especially on the weekends when he has time to tend to the hot fire. I do the prep work and mix cocktails while he’s grilling.

Churrasco-Style Skirt Steak & Spicy Herb Sauce:

First, make the herb sauce.

Spicy Herb Sauce Ingredients:
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup jalapeño chilies (I like it SPICY)
1 small white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups fresh parsley leaves (packed)
2 cups fresh cilantro with stems (packed)
1 cup stemmed fresh mint leaves (packed)

To make herb sauce, add all ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth. Cover and chill while you’re grilling the steak.

Grilled Skirt Steak:
2-3 lb. skirt steak (I cut steak to fit grill or pan)
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

To make the steak:

Bring steak to room temperature before cooking.

Heat your grill to medium-high or heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat.

I like to add oil the actual piece of steak, then add salt and pepper to both sides.

Grill the steaks (turning once), about 6 minutes for medium rare, depending on thickness.

Rest the steaks for at least five minutes before serving with the spicy herb sauce or make a classic chimichurri.

If you want to cut the meat before serving, make sure you cut AGAINST the grain.

Photo above: Skirt steak with spicy herb sauce, avocado with fresh chilies and a quick salad I made with purple cabbage, kale, radish, onions and lime vinaigrette.

Use leftover herb sauce to top eggs, quesadillas or grilled veggies.

If you don’t want to try my spicy herb sauce, here’s a recipe for classic Chimichurri sauce.

Thanks Dictionary.com, for letting me choose Word of the Day!
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#LowCarbJo Caviar Bites


Love caviar? Are you living low carb and miss blinis and caviar? ME TOO!

Hubby Peter and I are fans of the show “The Americans” (1980s era Russian KGB spies who pose as Americans) and I wanted to make something with caviar (and Stoli VODKA) for the season finale.

There’s always a pack of sliced provolone cheese (full fat) in my fridge because Peter loves my #LowCarbJo Crunchy Tacos. Honestly, they’re REALLY good, even if you don’t live low carb.

For these SUPER EASY caviar bites, I first cut the provolone slices into oblong shapes, so they looked more like traditional crackers. I was worried about the weight of the toppings, but they turned out really well!

What you need:
Nonstick pan
Provolone slices
Oil (optional)
Caviar
Crème fraîche (or sour cream)
Garnish (chives or scallions work)

How To Make #LowCarbJo Caviar Bites:


Heat nonstick pan, add oil (optional). Lay provolone on cutting board and cut. Fry until golden, flip and brown other side. I use two silicone spatulas to flip the cheese. I also fried up the cheese ends, so there was NO waste.


Set provolone pieces aside and let cool. They’ll harden up after a few minutes. Then top with crème fraîche fresh, caviar and garnish. I used microgreens because I had them, but chives would be pretty too.


I also made small round bites (like traditional blinis) then added wasabi under the crème fraîche, just for a little extra (surprise) kick.

На здоровье!

I tweet low carb recipes daily at @LowCarbJo on twitter.

More Low Carb recipes here.

My Low Carb page on Pinterest.

If you’re on social media, check out my #LowCarbJo hashtag (on twitterinstagram and Facebook). I post links to recipes I plan on trying and also share photos of my low carb home cooking. Happy eating!

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Crunchy Tacos (Low Carb)


Think you have to give up CRUNCHY TACOS on a low carb diet? Think again.

I CRAVE old-school crunchy tacos all the time, especially Henry’s Tacos, which is located (dangerously) close to my house. The crunchy yellow corn shell tacos with ground beef and bright yellow cheese are (in my opinion) perfect “drunk food” bites. They work for hangovers too.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve indulged in Henry’s Tacos. Especially after I started playing with low carb tacos at home. I started with pan-frying just one slice of provolone, but the “taco shells” were a bit small. Next I used two slices, tearing one to make a larger shell. These turned to be the perfect size and I make them at least once a week.

They’re so easy to make too. All you need are slices of provolone cheese (FULL FAT), a non-stick pan and a taco holder/shaper. You really don’t NEED the taco holder, but it makes the process so much easier. I got mine (in photo above) on Amazon ($8 for two).

I now add chopped onions and chiles to the shells for an extra kick (photos below). I’ve also experimented with CHICKEN SKIN (precooked) and ground up pork rinds too. My husband Peter loves these provolone shells so much, that he said he never wants regular taco shells (or tortillas) again. Fine with me!

How To Make Low Carb Crunchy Taco Shells

What you need:

  • Two spatulas (silicone if possible).
  • Provolone cheese. Two pieces of cheese per “taco shell”.
  • Oil or butter (optional).
  • Taco shell holder/shaper (or you can make a holder out of foil).


Step 1: Heat nonstick pan and add a little oil (optional). Lay two pieces of provolone in hot pan. Tear one piece to help make a tortilla shape.


Step 2: Using a silicone spatula, gently shape the cheese into a circle.


Step 3: Gently cook the first side and keep shaping.


Step 4: When the bottom is browned, use two spatulas to gently flip.


Step 5: Cook the second side until firm.


Step 6: Transfer to taco holder and help shape the shell. It will get crispier as it hardens. After a few minutes you can remove from the taco shaper onto plate.


Fill and enjoy! This taco is filled with Brussels sprout slaw, guacamole, ground turkey, pickled red onion, radish, cilantro and hot sauce. I’ve also made the tacos for breakfast with eggs and leftover steak.


If you want to add more flavor and texture, chop up some scallions (or chilies) and add to frying pan before adding the cheese. Habanero-crusted, Chicken skin-crusted, Ground pork rinds & onions.

The provolone shells can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and then heated up before filling.

More photos.

I use Sargent provolone cheese which has 70 calories per slice and NO CARBS.

More Low Carb Recipes

White plastic taco holder on Amazon.com

Provolone & Cauliflower Crust


I recently started playing with a crispy, provolone edge on my low carb pizzas, and shared a few test photos on instagram. Basically I wanted to add some more texture to my beloved cauliflower pizza.

The first time I tried it, I surrounded the cauliflower (cauli) dough with slices of provolone and baked it in a nonstick (deep dish) pizza pan. The problem was that the provolone cooked much faster then the cauliflower and the cheese was almost burnt. Even though my husband Peter loves burnt stuff (he’s funny that way), I wasn’t happy with it at all.

Next I tried cooking the cauli crust pizza first, then adding the provolone edge at the end. It turned out pretty good (not too burnt), but the provolone crust was so good I wanted MORE.

That’s how I came up with this #LowCarbJo Provolone & Cauliflower Crust Pizza. The one in photo above (more photos below) was topped with precooked mushrooms, onions and peppers for #MeatlessMonday, which is always a challenge since I cook low carb at home. At a recent Super Bowl party I switched it up with lots of bacon and I must admit, I was surprised to see it devoured in less than five minutes. Next time I’ll make a few more.

HOW TO MAKE the Provolone Crust Pizza

Preheat oven to 400º

First make the cauliflower crust pizza dough (ingredients here). Leave any precooked toppings off until you combine the two crusts.

For the provolone crust you need about 12 slices of provolone cheese plus a tablespoon of shredded cheese to place in between the two crusts.

I used two deep dish pans to make this pizza. One for the provolone crust and another for the cauli crust. The pans I use are 14 inches, so you may need more or less depending on your pan size.

If you only have one (non stick) pan, just make the cauli crust first, then carefully transfer to large plate. Add the provolone slices back on the (now) empty pizza pan and place back in oven. After the provolone crust is done, sprinkle a tablespoon of shredded cheese on the provolone before carefully sliding the cauli crust onto the provolone crust. The shredded cheese in between helps meld it together. Finish by adding cooked toppings, more cheese and warm through in your oven for a few minutes.

Again, two non-stick pizza pans are much easier! They cost under $15 each on Amazon and well worth it to me.

Step-by-step photos:


Step 1: In a nonstick, deep dish pizza pan, lay down 12 pieces of provolone cheese.


Step 2: In 400 degree oven, cook for five minutes or until melted together.


Step 3: Turn pan for even cooking (no need to flip) and return to oven another five minutes.


Step 4: The crust should be fully formed after 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. You want a crispy bottom.


Crispy provolone crust!


In between the provolone crust and the cauliflower crust, add some shredded cheese to help make them stick together.


Now add whatever you want… sauce, cooked toppings and more cheese. Warm through in oven and enjoy.


I’m so happy with this #LowCarbJo pizza. Please let me know if you try it!

Basic Cauliflower Crust Pizza

More #LowCarbJo

Why I eat Low Carb At Home

List of 40 low carb foods (I keep this bookmarked for carb counting).

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Basic Cauliflower Crust Pizza


Looking for a low carb pizza alternative? Then you really should jump on the CAULIFLOWER bandwagon.

I’ve been using cauliflower to make dishes lower carb for a couple of years now. I’ve tried low carb cauli tortillasburger buns, bacon-wrapped grilled cheese, fried rice, and even cauliflower grits. But the one recipe I make most often is cauliflower crust pizza. It’s an absolute staple in my kitchen, especially on #MeatlessMondays.

If you’re new to low carb cooking, and not sure where to start, I highly recommend this SUPER EASY, pizza crust recipe. It’s the perfect vehicle for any topping really. I’ve thrown on fried eggs for breakfast, grilled steak for lunch, even spoonfuls of Thai curry chicken. The texture can be anywhere in between a hard-cooked omelet to a thick (albeit cheesy) crepe. It just depends on how thin (or thick) you cook it.

Low Carb Pizza

The cauliflower crust recipe I use now was adapted from two recipes I tried in the past. I first discovered Recipe Girl’s crust, then incorporated some tips from The Iron You blog.

If  you follow me on instagram or twitter, you’ve probably seen the low carb “provolone and cauliflower crust” pizza I’ve been testing. It’s so, SO good and I’ll have that on the blog VERY soon. I thought it best to start with the basic cauliflower crust first.

PHOTOS (recipe below):


Clean and dry cauliflower florets.


Rice or grate cauliflower.


Cook in microwave (or steam florets before grating).


After cooling, add to towel and squeeze out excess water. This is the tip I got from the Iron You Website:
The secret for the perfect cauli crust lies in squeezing out all the moisture from the cauliflower “flour”.


I divide the cooked cauliflower up into small batches so I can get a better squeeze.


After squeezing out the liquid, it almost looks like a dough, right?
Note: My friend @DJfatal skipped the liquid squeeze by sautéing the cauliflower on a stovetop. He slowly heated the riced cauliflower in a frying pan for about 15 minutes.


Add egg, cheese and seasoning then mix.


Ready to make pizza!


Starting at middle, gently spread the pizza out and shape. Bake for about 15 minutes (until golden) in a preheated 450º oven.

Low Carb Pizza
Add toppings, warm through then cut and enjoy!

EQUIPMENT
Food Processor or Box Grater.

Pizza Pan. I currently use a nonstick deep dish, pizza pan (I actually own two). If you don’t have a non-stick pizza pan, use non-stick foil or parchment paper.

Clean dish towel.

RECIPE (Adapted from RecipeGirl AND The Iron You)

Crust:
1/2 LARGE head cauliflower (or 2+ cups shredded cauliflower)
1 large egg
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more for topping)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Pinch of pepper
Cooking spray

Toppings:
1/2 cup shredded cheese to start, then whatever you want!

In the photo above I have turkey sausage, peppers, chilies, red onion & scallions.
I’m not a fan of tomato sauce, so I use red pepper sauce or just extra cheese & toppings. More topping ideas here.

Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450º.

2. Shred the florets using a food processor (or box grater). When shredding, you want tiny cauliflower crumbles, about the size of rice. If you live near Trader Joes, just skip this step and buy the cauliflower ALREADY riced. It makes this recipe go so quickly!

3. Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 8 minutes. Do not add any additional liquid. If you don’t have a microwave, you can steam the cauliflower before grating (tip via From Eat, Drink, Smile). Let the cauliflower cool before squeezing out excess liquid.

4. Get your pizza pan ready. If you don’t have a non-stick pizza pan, spray a pan with nonstick spray or use parchment paper and grease with olive oil.

5. After the cooked cauliflower has cooled, use a clean towel to ring out excess water. I do this in small batches (small hands) so I can really squeeze out the extra liquid (in the kitchen sink). There should be about 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower after cooking and removing liquid. Don’t fret if ends up being less then that. Just use more cheese in the “dough”. I’ve done that several times and the pizza comes out perfectly fine.

6. Place dry cauliflower into bowl and add the egg, cheese and seasonings. Mix together then gently place in center of pizza pan. Slowly press the mixture and form into a large circle. It will seem a bit wet but that’s ok. Spray the top with cooking spray so it gets crispy. Bake 450º for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Add more cheese and warm through until melted. You may want to broil for a few minutes if you’ve added something like pepperoni.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 15-18 minutes

When I switched to a non-stick (deep dish) pizza pan recently, I started adding provolone cheese slices around the edge to create a crispier crust. I’ll have step-by-step photos in another blog post soon.

Enjoy!

Why I cook #LowCarbJo at home.

More Cauliflower Pizza Photos

List of 40 Low Carb Foods (I keep this list bookmarked)

#LowCarbJo on twitter

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#LowCarbJo

Low Carb "Mac & Cheese"For the past couple of years, I’ve been experimenting with cauliflower to create filling, delicious low carb meals at home. I think the easiest to make is cauliflower “mac and cheese”. You just swap out the elbow pasta for roasted, bite-size florets, use heavy cream, coconut flour (for sauce) and delicious, ground up pork rinds instead of breadcrumbs.

I’ve tried low carb cauliflower crust pizza, tortillas, burger buns, grilled cheese (bacon-wrapped even!), fried rice, and even cauliflower grits. I’ll be posting favorite recipes with photos on the blog soon, but before that, I think it’s important to share WHY I cook low carb at home.

Basically, I needed to STOP gaining weight.

When I started writing about food and travel back in 2008, I continuously gained weight each month and I needed to make it stop. The fact is, when I started eating mostly low carb at home, I STOPPED gaining weight.

I’m not a fan of desserts, so eating sugar-free was easy. But bacon? I’m never giving up bacon and I CAN eat that on a low carb diet. Stinky, French cheese? That’s okay too. I learned that I could pretty much replace any pasta or rice recipe with spinach (or kale), so it was just about getting creative in my (low carb) kitchen. Here’s a list of low carb foods I keep handy at all times.

Regular exercise helps of course too and my fitbit step counter keeps me motivated. I get at least 10,000 steps per day by going to the gym (usually the treadmill) and walking my dogs. Need some workout inspiration? This 2012 L.A. Times article by Rene Lynch got me started on my daily steps and I’ve STUCK TO IT ever since. I started with an inexpensive pedometer and saved up for the fitbit after a few months. The fitbit app is great because I can challenge my friends and keep detailed tracking each day.

The book Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog (by Grant Petersen) has become my low carb bible. I bought it as a JOKE but after I started reading it, I took it all very, very seriously. From GoodReadsIn Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog, Petersen upends the last 30 years of conventional health wisdom to offer a clear path to weight loss and fitness. In more than 100 short, compelling directives, Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog shows why we should drop the carbs, embrace fat, and hang up our running shoes, with the latest science to back up its claims.

Sure, I still want to lose a couple of sizes, but at 51 years old (52 next month), the fact that I stopped the weight gain is the WIN here. I’m not claiming to be any sort of diet specialist but I do know what works for ME. If you’re thinking of trying a low carb diet, do check with your doctor first.

Full disclosure here, I do allow myself a “cheat day” meal each week and try to save it for eating out, but I can usually work around a restaurant menu and still stay on course. The truth is, at the end of the day, I just FEEL better eating low carb.

If you’re on social media, check out my #LowCarbJo hashtag (on twitter, instagram and Facebook). I post links to recipes I plan on trying and also share photos of my low carb home cooking. Happy eating!

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