Sausage Gravy Breakfast Lasagna

Sausage Gravy Breakfast Lasagna

I am posting this video for sausage gravy breakfast lasagna not because it looks great. I'm still not convinced. But I'm posting it because there are some great lessons for learning how to cook yourself thin.

First, watch the video and see if you can find the lessons.

And you can find the full recipe at the Food Network.

What Would I Change

Where do you think I would start?  Right! They didn't drain the sausage. There's a huge amount of grease in there because of the sausage.  So first off, drain the sausage.

Yes, to make a good gravy, you'll want some of that sausage fat to mix with the flour in order to make a good roux. But there are some better ways to manage that. I'd consider draining it into a container and then measure out what you need.

And since this is a sausage gravy breakfast lasagna, you definitely want great gravy.

More Veggies

I would probably use two layers of the lasagna noodles….the bottom and the middle layer…and then add in two layers of zucchini cut into thin flat noodles.

You could do a blend of spinach and kale if you like kale.  I don't have to mention I don't care for kale.  Although, I'm learning to appreciate it a bit more after having it in some soup.

And I'd also add in some mushrooms since I love them. It gives a lovely texture and flavor.

Change Up the Protein

You could easily make this lasagna with tofu or turkey sausage. If you use tofu, use something like a soy chorizo to give it more of a breakfast flavor.  I'd also add in some scrambled eggs to make it feel more like breakfast.

What do you think? Would you like the sausage gravy breakfast lasagna?

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This recipe for Buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese is going to be a slight cautionary tale. Sometimes you'll see recipes like this and think “Ooooh, it must be healthy if they added cauliflower into it, right?”  I wish I could say “right” but I can't.

It's a neat recipe. Watch the video and then let's discuss how to lighten it up.

What Would I Change

I should like to point out that this recipe is 8-10 servings. But if it's a side, you would probably want to get about 16 servings out of it and keep the portion size to a cup or less.  So while I first thought it was a ton of macaroni, when I balance it that way, it's not as bad.

I'd probably still reduce the amount of macaroni and increase the cauliflower. And I think I'd rice some of the cauliflower. The big chunks are delicious. I just think you could bulk it up a bit more.

I would replace the half and half with evaporated milk. You get a creamier consistency with far less fat and calories.

Next, I would probably use one pound of shredded Mexican blend cheese rather than a pound and a half of cheese. I love my cheesy goodness, believe me. This is probably an area where you'd need to test it out for your personal preferences.

And I'd serve this with celery stalks for extra fiber and the cooling factor. Call me a wuss but that seemed like a lot of hot sauce. I suspect different areas of the country have different tolerances for different hot sauces. I can handle a little Tabasco and a little of the Buffalo hot sauce. But being in California, I can eat hot salsa with a spoon. And I love sriracha in most things.

What do you enjoy? Leave a comment and let me know.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Cheesy Eggplant Crust Pizza

Cheesy Eggplant Crust Pizza

We've talked about cauliflower for pizza crust, but how about cheesy eggplant crust? It never even occurred to me that you could use eggplant for a pizza crust. So imagine how much fun I had watching this video and seeing how easy it is.

Now I'm odd in that I really do enjoy eggplant. I know some perceive of it as “slimy.” Salting and letting them sit for at least 15 minutes helps improve the texture.

Eggplants are related to tomatoes and potatoes as part of the nightshades.  Sometimes I think it's cool to toss in a factoid.

What Would I Change

Well, that really is a lot of cheese. And I would want some other fresh vegetables on top like mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, and onions.  Heck you could make a ratatouille pizza.

And I think it would go great with ham or pepperoni. I mean, you're kind of turning it into a flatbread. So put on whatever your favorite toppings happen to be that day.

I also love artichoke hearts.

You could probably go very lightly on the mozzarella cheese with a sprinkling of Parmesan. Then bake it, put on toppings and some additional cheese, and bake it a little more. Feta cheese could go either way, but I think I'd enjoy putting it on after the baking is finished.

Another idea is to use beans, cheddar, tomatoes and finish with shredded lettuce for a tostada.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Italian Seasoned Meatballs

Italian Seasoned Meatballs

Italian seasoned meatballs aren't only for spaghetti. They can be the base for many delicious and healthy meals. And they make great leftovers.

Get inspired watching the video.

What Would I Change

You should use low fat beef. And after you cook the meatball, make sure you drain as much of the fat off as you can. Also, don't forget to make your own blend of meat.  Learn to play with the seasonings so you can adjust it to your taste. And use higher quality salt.

You could use turkey like in this Turkey Meatball Stroganoff recipe. She recommends doing butternut squash noodles in place of pasta noodles if your'e going low carb.

Make In A Slow Cooker

You can cook meatballs by themselves or in a sauce using a slow cooker. If you're cooking them alone, you need to put the meatballs on a rack, and put in some water in the bottom. After they're done, you may want to quickly pop them under the broiler to get a bit of crust.

Some recipes call for lightly cook (or par-cook) the meatball before putting in the sauce and slow cooking on low for 1-2 hours like these slow cooker enchilada meatballs. Or Betty Crocker's version of cheese stuffed Italian meatballs. Or this version of Buffalo chicken meatballs (now you know what else to do with ground chicken).

Otherwise, there are many wonderful ways to cook the meatballs in a sauce. Many people use marinara for a classic spaghetti and meatballs.  You can also use beer to make Bavarian meatballs.

How to Make Low Carb

Meatballs can be great if you're on the Primal diet. Here's an easy recipe for Paleo meatballs in a marinara sauce cooked in the slow cooker. Just remember not to use breadcrumbs. Instead look for almond or rice flour for your binder.

She served hers over what looks like roasted and shredded cabbage which sounds delicious. But then she talks about white sweet potatoes.  Either way, you'll be full and satisfied.

Easy Homemade Sausage

Easy Homemade Sausage

Making homemade sausage is easier than you think. And the results are a lot tastier and healthier for you.

In the recipe at Cooking Light, they suggest using pre-ground meat. Now I took a class once where we ground the pork, mixed in the seasonings, and then filled casings. And yes, we giggled a lot.

The nice thing about using the casings is that you can make vegetarian sausage as well as fish based sausage more easily.

Going Simple and Easy

However, if you're just making some simple sausage without casings, I think getting pre-ground meat is awesome. You could blend ground turkey or ground chicken for a lower fat homemade sausage.

Don't buy the pre-seasoned ground meats, though. You want to control the seasoning to your taste.

Seasoning Homemade Sausage

And it's not just for breakfast sausage. You could also make Italian seasoned sausage for lasagna and spaghetti and manicotti. Or, you could make Mexican seasoned sausage for burritos or tacos. And you can add it into soups or stir it up with beans (just don't forget the veggies).

I'd recommend making a small amount of seasoning, and mix it into a little bit of the sausage. Then cook it up and decide if you need more or less. This is also something you can do a day or two ahead of time. Then mix the meat with the proper level of seasonings and it's ready for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.

Making homemade sausage ensures that you know what's in it. If you're cutting out sugar, some sausage makers put in sugar for flavoring. Sometimes, sausage makers put in organ meats. You control what goes in.

Use your butcher to help you. If you want to buy a blend of meats, you can ask the butcher to grind them together for you. It saves you time and you get exactly what you want.

But, if this inspires you, get a meat grinder and go to town.  I have the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachment for my Kitchen Aid. You can order casings online if you can't find any local. Ask your butcher.

Resources

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Paleo Skillet Chicken with Avocado

Paleo Skillet Chicken with Avocado

Paleo skillet chicken with seared avocados is a fast and filling meal for a weeknight. Let's be honest…if you eat just a salad with some meat on it, you're hungry again in an hour or two. Why is that? Because you didn't have enough fat.  Fat's necessary for us to feel satisfied.  Avocado is a very healthy fat.

Watch the video and see how quick it is to make:

The recipe at My Recipes makes it look easy. And it's perfect for the Paleo and Primal lifestyle.

What Would I Change

I love the South of the Border bent for this recipe. However, people are particular about the level of heat and spice in their dishes. The recipe calls for a fresh poblano pepper and some ancho chile spice. Poblanos are pretty mild. If you want to spice it up, you could use a fresh jalapeno or a serrano.  If you want it really spicy, try a habenero chile pepper.

Remember, the heat is in the seeds and the ribs. So you may learn to like the flavor of one pepper over the other. If so, adjust how you cut it up, and how much you put in.

You could purchase a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. That's my favorite for making guacamole. It's a warm heat. But be careful…it's strong.

This Paleo skillet chicken does call for sour cream. Because it's been fermented, some Paleo folk feel it's ok to use. If you don't, use curdled full fat coconut milk.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

If you follow Meatless Mondays, this cauliflower crust pizza will seem quite decadent and delightful this evening.

Watch how Ree makes a simple recipe for a Margherita style pizza with cheese, tomato sauce and fresh basil.

If you're not following Meatless Mondays, use some leftover turkey sausage from when you made the spaghetti squash lasagna.

How to Make This Successfully

Every cauliflower or potato crust recipe I've read has one thing in common. You need to get all the water out of it. I usually round end this by buying the Trader Joe's version that's in the refrigerated case, not the freezer case. It's naturally dried out a bit.

I don't have a food processor. If I make some money from this blog, then I'll be able to buy one and try it out. Until then, I just cut by hand or buy the prepared stuff.

Make It A Meal

This is already a low carb dish. If you wanted to make it Paleo, then you could buy a vegan cheese or make your own out of nuts. The cashew cheese is surprisingly good.

Now, there are some who feel that unless you're lactose or casein intolerant, cheese is just fine. The best cheese is from raw milk, but full fat is fine as well. Cheese is good for you because it's fermented.

So you may want to add in a salad for more veggies and a different texture.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Oven Fried Chicken

Oven Fried Chicken

Sundays were the days of long cooking roasts or fried chicken. Thankfully, there are quite a few methods out there for making oven fried chicken that is moist and tender yet gives you that great crunchy bite that we love.

One version:

And another version:

How to Make It Successfully

When you fry properly, the temperature is high enough such that the water in the meat is pushing out so no oil can actually get in. That leaves you with a crisp piece of chicken.

It's not always easy to fry properly. The difficulty lies in the inability to maintain a consistent temperature. When you put in the meat, the temperature drops.  Then you have to monitor it for when it gets close to 375 so you can turn it down. It's a lot of work.

It is easier to use the consistent temperature of the oven. The difficulty is in getting a good crust.

So here's some quick tips on oven frying chicken to make it better:

  1. Bake similar pieces together. Unlike a pan where you can pull a piece out when it's done, you can't be constantly checking the oven. So make it easier on yourself and cook similar pieces together.
  2. Use a double coating and season well.  Season the meat, dip it in flour, dip it in egg and then dip it again in flour. Then let it rest for at least fifteen minutes before baking.
  3. If you have the time, brine the chicken first. I'll often leave it overnight in a seasoned buttermilk bath to tenderize it instead.
  4. After baking, let the chicken cool on a rack. I use a cookie rack in a sheet pan to capture any drips. It allows the crust to stay crispy all around

Make It A Meal

Myself, I love coleslaw and corn on the cob with my fried chicken. I used to always make potato salad, but have cut that back a bit. It's also great with ranch beans or baked beans (watch the sugar if you buy a can…or make them yourself) and greens like chard or collard.

What do you like with your fried chicken?

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Kale and Mushroom Frittata

Kale and Mushroom Frittata

Kale and mushroom frittata is a great way to use up some leftovers. And it's a very cost effective meal. Plus you can make this as intricate as you like.

What Would I Change

Honestly I'd probably add in more eggs to make it fluffier and I'd be serving two people. You'll need a very small pan if you follow the recipe exactly. It's meant to serve one.

And you know I'd ditch the kale. Although, I was in the cooking class at Sur La Table on Flavors of Tuscany. We put kale into the soup and it worked. So maybe I won't be so anti-kale in the future.

But what do I usually have in my fridge? Spinach and chard. So that would go in.

I'd also have fun with the cheese.  You could do Swiss or smoked Gouda.  I also almost always have shredded Mexican blend since I love my tacos.

You could also add in artichoke hearts and asparagus for a spring flavor. And broccoli if you have any leftover. Remember, if you make too much during the week, save it and do a catch all dinner or lunch once a week.

Zucchini and tomatoes will be in season before you know it. They're great in a frittata as well.

I'd also look into some fresh herbs like thyme, chives, tarragon, marjoram and oregano.

Make It A Meal

You don't need to add anything as this has it all with protein from the eggs and cheese and fiber from the vegetables. But if you're like me, you'll want to add in a crisp salad with a lemon and white wine vinaigrette dressing. Arugula (or Rocket if you're British) adds a lovely peppery flavor to everything.

Resources

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

 

Sheet Pan Salmon Fajitas

Sheet Pan Salmon Fajitas

Sheet pan salmon fajitas hits two of my favorite topics. It's a single pan dinner for easy clean up. And it's healthy yet satisfying.

What Would I Change

This dish is easy to prepare.  And I do confess to using McCormick seasonings. My daughter loves when I use the chicken fajita seasonings with shrimp. But it is just as easy to make your own.

But a simple fajita spice recipe is:

  1. ¼ cup Chili Powder.
  2. 2 tablespoons Sea Salt.
  3. 2 tablespoons Paprika.
  4. 1 tablespoon Onion Powder.
  5. 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder.
  6. 1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder (optional)
  7. 1 tablespoon Cumin Powder.

I am interested in trying this. It does seem like a long time to marinate the salmon. Usually you only marinate fish and seafood for fifteen minutes. Perhaps because this uses thick salmon steaks it can handle the longer time. Usually when you have seafood in lime juice for that long it turns into ceviche.

For the blog's sake, I'll give it a shot.  And I have a lot of oranges waiting to be squeezed. I don't have any limes but I do have Myer lemons.

What I like is you can adjust it based on portions. So if you only needed one or two salmon pieces, it's easy to scale.

Also, I always only use red, orange and yellow bell peppers. Green peppers aren't ripe yet, and I know it can cause digestion issues with some people. I used to eat green peppers all the time, but my husband had issues. Once I switched to red, the problems went away.

Make It A Meal

If you want to be low carb, you'll want to look into using lettuce leaves instead of tortillas. If you're going Paleo, you'll have to leave off the sour cream and cheese.

You will want beans and rice. You can make Spanish rice using cauliflower. I know some people prefer black beans thinking they're healthier. I'm no expert. But there are so many varieties of heirloom beans out there that you should try them all.  I love eye of the goat and mayocoba.

So see what you think. And let me know in the comments.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.