Chicken Broccolli Casserole with Cheese

I whipped this up last night with ingredients I found in the house.

  • 5-6 IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) chicken breasts
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • 3 cups shredded Jarlsberg cheese
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In my convection oven, I cooked the chicken for about 20 minutes while defrosting the broccoli for about 8 minutes in the microwave. I then cut up the chicken with kitchen scissors, gave it a healthy coating of the seasoning mix. After a few minutes, in went the broccoli while I shredded the cheese with a cheese grater.

After mixing and cooking a few more minutes, the mixture went into the casserole dish and I then covered the entire top with a lot of cheese. When done I sprinkled the top with paprika more for color than anything and put it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

I had some for dinner – it was pretty good. The cheese was more hard than gooey, and maybe the cayenne pepper was a bit too much, but I ate it and enjoyed. Trader Joe’s @1 Salute seasoning is a handy blend of seasonings for those of us clueless at the sight of a spice rack.

What surprised me was the family also enjoyed it. “It’s actually pretty good.” was one comment – which shows both the typical expectations of my low carb cooking as well as the review of this particular dish in comparison.

I’d say it’s a keeper and I’ll be making it again.

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Creamed Asparagus and Scallion Soup

UPDATE: I’ve been eating this the past couple of days and have a few tweaks to add

I love my immersion blender. 12 bucks or so at most large grocery stores, these things can take the place of a regular blender or food processor with minimal cleanup.

I was searching the Internet for something low carb I might be able to make with some ingredients I have lying about and came up with this idea based off another recipe I found.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of fresh asparagus
  • 10 scallions
  • 1 box (32 oz) chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/3 pint heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 20 turns of the pepper mill
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Using a soup pot I melted the butter on high heat while washing and cleaning the asparagus and scallions. I chopped it in 1/4″ lengths. Thrown into the pot with the butter, I stirred on high flame intermittently for about 10 minutes while looking for the rest of the ingredients and the immersion blender.

Be careful with asparagus. While I cut off more than an inch of the bottom stems, it was still more fibrous than I would have liked and might be off-putting to some. My solution: cut the asparagus – especially at the stem end very, very closely together to be sure any fibers will be as short as possible. The immersion blender won’t fix this.

I do this with kale when I make kale soup and use the stems and it works splendidly.

After that, in went the chicken broth. I brought to a boil, then added the garlic and onion powder, turned down the heat, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Once the simmering was done, I turned off the heat and blended until smooth. Then I slowly poured in the cream with the immersion blender on.

Now it was time for a taste – and I came up with a trick to have a good-sized taste with the extremely hot soup not burning my mouth.

We have some small metal ingredient cups about the size of the business end of a soup ladle. The keyword here is ‘metal’. Using a soup ladle I put a few tablespoons into the cup. It became almost too hot to touch – good. All that heat was being conducted out of the soup into the metal cup. To make something hot, you got to make something else cold. In less than 30 seconds I had a mouthful of the stuff at a temperature that would let me taste it.

It was very good – creamy and flavorful. I did think it needed a little salt and put in a teaspoon at that point and mixed it again with the immersion blender.

Oops – maybe just a teensy-weensy too much salt – the broth and butter brought their own salt and it was *almost* enough. My advice if you try this: be careful with the salt.

The final product was delicious. It’s a one-pot meal using only a few utensils and in a half-hour you have a great soup for a cold, possibly snowy day. It’s also suitable for vegetarians who use dairy – not usual for my recipes.

I did find after repeated lunches of the stuff that it was missing ‘something’. I added more salt and pepper at work and it was better, but it could have used some other ‘something’ – but what?

Any ideas out there?

Pigs Fly – Day 17

Thursday, July 21, 2016

 

266.8 at morning weigh-in.

Not the best of days. Did all right during the day – and part of the evening as well – having my burgers and cheese – which I don’t seem to tire of.

Went off the rails while watching part of the Republican Convention, having cheese, lettuce, and mayo on a slice of bread, the moppings of the hamburger grease on a half slice of bread, and ate way too much of a Lindt chocolate bar with blackberries that I got for Father’s Day.

I went to bed before the candidate spoke. Not all that interested.

Calories: 2645
Net carbs: 83g
Protein: 119g
Fat: 200g

Pigs Fly – Day 16

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Morning weight was 266.4.

The previous day ( which I did not have time to document) showed me at 1300 calories and 45 net carbs.

I think I can attribute a lot of my nearly 12 pound loss to portion control rather than low carb as I’ve been (on the whole) better at reducing the overall amount of food I’ve eaten than at choosing low carb foods.

For example: I ate a baked yam – no butter or other flavors added – at midnight as I had to work (don’t ask).

I have a sneaking suspicion that, at least for me, a small amount of carbs might be OK as long as I rigidly adhere to portion control – and portion control is easier without carbs because carbs make me hungry.

On this particular Wednesday I did the daytime in what is becoming the norm: coffee and Atkins shakes. This isn’t proving a big deal – I’m kinda used to it.

When I got home there were 2 hot dogs and cheese on a single bun, 1/2 peanut butter(!) and jelly sandwich on a single piece of bread, a fat slice of tomato. and a slice of Margherita pizza my daughter ordered.

A few glasses of MiO-flavored water also accompanied dinner.

The guesstimate for the day was:

Calories: 1350
Net carbs: 86g
Protein: 73g
Fat: 75g

 

 

Pigs Fly – Day 14

Monday, July 18, 2016

My weight this morning was 269.4. Not quite sure why – I’ll blame it on fluid retention.

Seeing the number still under 270 is nice – I’ve been unable to hold it there for very long since February.

It’s a small victory, I guess…

I woke early – before 4am – probably because my back was sore rather than any bursts of energy from a low carb day on Sunday. It was going to be a stressful week and out of the gate it lived up to every expectation.

I wasn’t myself, however. My brain was sluggish – or perhaps things were moving too quickly for me to keep up – I wasn’t the only one who seemed to feel this.

My day ended up being a long and stressful one. I didn’t get out of work until 7:45pm and a power line down made me take a detour so even with little traffic at that time I ended up home 8;45pm.

I ate nothing all that time except for coffee, atkins shake as creamer, and psyllium with water. I wasn’t feeling particularly hurgry nor out-of-sorts, but I did feel that I needed to eat something – althouugh part of me toyed with just going straight to bed.

When I got home I had the same from the previous night – 2 burgers, each with 2 slices of cheese topped with ketchup – though I bought the reduced sugar version to cut the carbs.

Ha! like that mattered! Mentally fatigued and physically tired, there was no controlling an urge for junk – especially when right in front of me. Someone had bought pound cake and I ate 3 slices. At this point I was so spent I don’t remember what else I had – a glass of milk perhaps? I also had a half bagel with butter.

The guesstimate for the day were:

Calories: 2900
Net carbs: 201g
Protein: 140g
Fat: 168g

 

 

Pigs Fly – Day 13

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I awoke at 4am with my stomach hurting. I drank 16 ounces of whole milk, which did make me feel somewhat better…for a while.

Then a sudden rumbling in my gut made me think it prudent to make my way to the bathroom.

Boy, was I right.

Whatever got into me wanted out – and it did so without decorum.

I went back to bed with my stomach still hurting and had a fitful sleep until about 10 am.

At noon I had the psyllium husks with water.

I was content until evening when I had 2 broiled hamburgers, each with 2 slices of American cheese with ketchup on top.

As a snack I had a cup of ricotta cheese with the EZ-Sweetz pure Splenda sweetener. I used to eat this when I first started low carb. I didn’t much like it now. It had almost a gritty texture.

Maybe not this go-round.

Totals:

Calories: 1572
Total carbs: 63g
Net carbs: 53g
Fiber: 10g
Protein: 104g
Fat: 101g

 

Pigs Fly – Day 12

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I was 268 when I got up. I felt sick and dazed however. I’ve been fighting a chest cold and it knocked the stuffing out of me.

I went back to bed and slept until nearly 4pm.

I ate…something around then – i think it was leftover scrambled eggs and butter on a slice of bread – then some toast on rye bread with butter.

Then I snoozed again.

Later I got up and had some wine and cooked up some kielbasa with sauerkraut and had that on some more bread.

I stayed up until my daughters came back from a movie then went to bed.

Too wiped to tally, but I’d guess the calories were not too high though the carbs probably were.