Pumpkin custard

We’re always looking for Keto desserts. Well, we’re always looking for desserts, and when you’re on Keto—you get it.

Make this to welcome fall into your kitchen; I normally only buy pumpkin between October and December. How about you?

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Keto Pumpkin Custard

A Keto dessert winner from DietDoctor.com.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: custard, Keto, pumpkin
Servings: 6 Servings
Author: dad

Equipment

  • six ramekins
  • 13×9 aluminum sheet pan. This just needs to be large enough to contain the six ramekins.

Ingredients

  • 15 oz canned pumpkin I get organic pumpkin puree by Libby.
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 2 tspn vanilla
  • 2 tspn pumpkin pie spice or make your own
  • 1 tspn Stevia liquid
  • 1 cup whipped cream

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Spray six ramekins with cooking spray and set them on the sheet pan.
  • In a large bowl, mix cream, pumpkin, salt, vanilla, spice, and sweetener.
  • Pour pumpkin mixture evenly into ramekins. Clean up any spills and place the pan in the oven.
  • Bake 45 minutes. Check for doneness with toothpick or other favorite method, like a thin knife blade. The mixture should be just barely set. It will firm up after removing from oven.
  • Remove sheet pan from oven. Let custard cool for 10 minutes.
  • Make or use canned whipped cream to top the custards. Serve. You can make these ahead and store in fridge or a day or two, holding off on the whipped cream until ready to serve. If storing, use cellophane wrap to cover custards and avoid them drying out.

Notes

These are great for company meals, easy and acceptable to non-Keto types. We make up a batch and eat over several days when it’s just us. 

The versatile frittata

As you get the hang of home cooking, you get better, or not, at improvisation—making up new recipes or adapting old ones, to your current pantry or today’s whim. I suspect that my grandmother’s claims that she couldn’t pass along her greatest recipes was more about not remembering exactly how to make that Irish stew or knowing that she never made it the same way twice. Lesson learned.

For some, or until you reach home cooking nirvana, executing a precise step-by-step routine is all you care about. And there’s nothing wrong with that! But joy and bliss await when you can cook on the fly—unless you really screw it up. 😉

I really love frittatas because like my chili or soups and stew and casseroles, they are ready, willing, and able to be modified, amplified, adapted, or short-changed as your ingredient supply changes.

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Italian breakfast casserole

Made with fresh tomatoes and basil bought this morning at the farmers’ market, this version of one of our favorites, the breakfast casserole, helps us appreciate paying a little more for locally grown, organic produce.

Breakfast casseroles are really healthy and satisfying. Always a crowd pleaser, like if you’re having a morning-time birthday party or a day-after-the wedding family hangers-on brunch until it’s time for the relatives to get on their way home. The versions with bread are great, but this one and its variants taste just as good and are low-carb.

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Dad’s Italian breakfast casserole

a fresh and lively riff on the eggy breakfast casserole
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Resting time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheese, eggs, Keto, sausage, vegetables
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 653kcal
Author: dad

Equipment

  • 12" skillet
  • 8" x 8" baking dish

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage Use ground or links, sweet or hot to your taste.
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil or 1/4 cup dried. Half for the casserole, half for the garnish.
  • 1/2 tspn dried red pepper flakes use more, less, or none to taste
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz grated cheese cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack — any one or a blend works fine.
  • 1 large fresh tomato slice into half-moons, 8-10 pieces

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Heat the skillet on medium-high, add olive oil and watch until it shimmers.
  • Add sausage and break it up into small bits with a spatula or large spoon. Cook until evenly browned. Turn down the heat if this seems to be happening too fast.
  • Mix in onions and saute for 3-5 minutes, until softened, but not brown.
  • While the onions cook, break eggs into large bowl and whisk in heavy whipping cream until you have a nice, smooth mixture.
  • To the skillet, add garlic, red pepper flakes (if used), and half the basil. Mix in and cook a minute.
  • Lightly butter or grease the baking dish.
  • Add half the meat and veg mixture to the baking dish. Spread evenly.
  • Add half the grated cheese (4 oz) as a layer in the baking dish.
  • Add the rest of the meat-veg and then the rest of the cheese to the dish.
  • Slowly pour the egg-cream blend (eggs and cream like this is what custard is) over the stuff in the baking dish.
  • Top the casserole with the sliced tomatoes and the rest of basil.
  • Into the oven for 35-40 minutes. Check after 30 minutes and keep checking until the jiggling just about stops. Remove from oven and place on an empty burner or better, on a cooking rack for 15 minutes. A bit of baking will continue to happen for a while. Then the casserole will cool and become easier to cut.
  • I think cutting into six pieces makes for good-sized servings. I use a spatula with a sharp edge for this.

Nutrition

Calories: 653kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 59g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Cholesterol: 362mg | Sodium: 884mg | Potassium: 336mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1293IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 344mg | Iron: 2mg
Nutrition Facts
Dad's Italian breakfast casserole
Amount Per Serving
Calories 653 Calories from Fat 531
% Daily Value*
Fat 59g91%
Saturated Fat 28g175%
Cholesterol 362mg121%
Sodium 884mg38%
Potassium 336mg10%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 1293IU26%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 344mg34%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Keto reboot

Lose 50; gain 15; lose 20; g-o-o-o-a-l!

For me personally, the very best thing about Keto has been acquiring the knowledge and skill to actually manage my weight. Here’s what I mean.

For 30 years or so, since I started being concerned about my weight, I tried this diet and that diet with varying results. Lose 30; gain it back; lose 20; gain it back…etc. Sound familiar? I realize now that the main reason I gained it back was that the diet got boring, or most often, it left me too hungry, too many times. I slipped into the “oh, what can be wrong with just one donut” loop. One donut once a month became two donuts twice a week, then “Oops, how did I manage to gain back all that weight?”

On Keto, however, since fat is filling and Keto recipes are everywhere involving just about everything, except sugar and grains, I don’t suffer the same sense of loss that other diets inevitably bring on. Just one guy’s experience.

But back to management. What I mean is that for the first time, Keto gives me a sense of being in control and under control. Have a carby weekend? Back to Keto on Monday and back to my pre-carby weight. Without the sense of suffering.

Now, over time, bad habits die hard. So, I did gain back 15 pounds over a year, compromising my Keto-ness too often. But now we’re all-in again and enjoying some Keto recipes we haven’t tried before. Down a pound-and-a -half in three days! Watch this space.

Keto forever?

Unlike the other weight-loss programs we’ve tried over the years, “Keto” should be considered a fundamental change in how we choose to eat…forever. Eating Keto is a new way to eat for people who don’t want to be fat anymore, like me. A Keto diet is also, based on my experience, a way to gain other health benefits: reduced inflammation and associated body aches and pains, better cholesterol readings, and lower blood pressure. I’m not saying that changing the way I eat has been easy. And I’ve decided it’s not required that I eat fewer than 20, or 30 or 50 net carbs per day forever. Just that I mostly eat Keto and manage my cravings so that my total food intake is much less than before. After all, for anyone who wants to lose weight, the starting point is eating less.

Here’s one view on why Keto is natural, healthy and safe for a lifetime:

Adjustable hummus

This hummus is the best I’ve had, especially if made with fresh cilantro. And it’s healthy, too, although probably not for Keto-istas because of the garbanzo beans. Your call. I suggest spreading the hummus on toasted pita bread or Indian naan cut into triangular “chips” as a better choice than potato or corn chips. But for Keto-ishness, spread it on cucumber or zucchini slices. The recipe is “adjustable” because you can have it as hot or as boringly bland as you want it. No judgement here!

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Adjustable Hummus

A delicious and infinitely variable hummus as a veggie dip or spread.
Prep Time15 mins
Chill time1 hr
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: chickpeas, hummus
Servings: 16 servings, more or less
Calories: 79.12kcal
Author: dad

Equipment

  • food processor
  • rubber spatula

Ingredients

  • 15.5 oz garbanzo beans (chickpeas) from the can, drained and rinsed.
  • 5-6 oz roasted red peppers About 1/3 of a jar (Dad prefers Mezzetta brand) with the olive oil they're packed in, or make your own from fresh.
  • 1 each jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced Include the seeds and ribs to increase the heat significantly, or not.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced Use as little as one teaspoon of minced garlic to tone it down.
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped Fresh cilantro adds a clean overtone that can't be beat.
  • 3 tablespoons onion, diced As with the garlic, you can adjust the quantity, the punch, or the onion variety to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon favorite salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce A Mexican specialty that can be found in most grocery stores. Remove a pepper from the can or jar and a teaspoon of the Adobo sauce. Chop, retaining seeds or not. We like Embasa brand in the small can. Buy prudently. I didn't use mine fast enough in this and other dishes, so they went bad in the fridge.
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika For garnish. Or, non-smoked, but smoked complements the Adobo sauce well.

Instructions

  • Place everything but the olive oil in a food processor.
  • Drizzle in the olive oil as you chop and mix the other ingredients until the mixture is very smooth. This will take at least a minute. Stop periodically and scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.
  • Remove to bowl. Chill the fresh hummus in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Enjoy spreading your hummus on pita chips, crackers, or fresh veggies. If serving from a bowl, garnish with paprika.

Nutrition

Serving: 2oz | Calories: 79.12kcal | Carbohydrates: 8.49g | Protein: 2.58g | Fat: 4.13g | Saturated Fat: 0.55g | Sodium: 280.75mg | Potassium: 95.59mg | Fiber: 2.37g | Sugar: 1.48g | Vitamin A: 136.2IU | Vitamin C: 4.85mg | Calcium: 17.99mg | Iron: 0.93mg
Nutrition Facts
Adjustable Hummus
Amount Per Serving (2 oz)
Calories 79.12 Calories from Fat 37
% Daily Value*
Fat 4.13g6%
Saturated Fat 0.55g3%
Sodium 280.75mg12%
Potassium 95.59mg3%
Carbohydrates 8.49g3%
Fiber 2.37g10%
Sugar 1.48g2%
Protein 2.58g5%
Vitamin A 136.2IU3%
Vitamin C 4.85mg6%
Calcium 17.99mg2%
Iron 0.93mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Crumbleburgers

In my little suburban, growing-up neighborhood in the 1950s, there was a food fad called “crumbleburgers” that was a favorite sandwich (besides PB&J) during my Boy Scout and “church kid” years. All the moms made them—my mom’s version was really great.

I don’t know if crumbleburgers are exactly the same thing as “sloppy joes” or not. As I remember, they were simplicity itself: ground beef and Heinz Chili Sauce. I don’t remember if my mom added fresh onion and bell pepper like I have. It doesn’t matter. It’s the memory that counts.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground chuck (80-85% fat content)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 bottle (1/2 cups) Heinz Chili Sauce
  • salt and pepper

How to

  1. Heat the skillet to medium-high and add 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Add ground beef and break it up into crumbles as you cook for 8-10 minutes until thoroughly browned with no pink remaining.
  3. While the beef is cooking, create 1/4″-1/2″ dice from the onion and green pepper.
  4. Lower heat to medium, stir in diced onion and pepper and cook 8-10 minutes until vegetables are very soft and golden.
  5. Lower heat, add Chili Sauce, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, covered.
  6. Spoon over hamburger bun(s) to create an open-face sandwich. Nutrition info below doesn’t include a bun.

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Crumbleburgers

Simple, delicious "sloppy joes" from the 60's.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: ground beef, sandwich
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Calories: 396.61kcal
Author: dad

Equipment

  • 12" skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp fat for browning olive oil, canola, butter, etc.
  • 1 lb ground beef 80-85% fat content
  • 1 medium onion 1/4" dice
  • 1 medium green pepper 1/4" dice
  • 12 oz Heinz® Chili Sauce
  • 1 each hamburger bun

Instructions

  • Heat fat over medium-high heat.
  • Brown the ground beef, onion, and green pepper for 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in chili sauce, bring to boil, lower heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Remove cover, add salt and pepper to taste. At this point, you must decide how sloppy you want your joes. If necessary, cook off some of the liquid over low-medium heat until desired thickness happens.
  • Serve on or over your favorite hamburger buns and pretend you're on a picnic.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwich | Calories: 396.61kcal | Carbohydrates: 19.07g | Protein: 20.08g | Fat: 26.29g | Saturated Fat: 8.99g | Cholesterol: 80.54mg | Sodium: 769.22mg | Potassium: 398.39mg | Fiber: 0.97g | Sugar: 1.89g | Vitamin A: 110.08IU | Vitamin C: 25.96mg | Calcium: 29.71mg | Iron: 2.36mg
Nutrition Facts
Crumbleburgers
Amount Per Serving (1 sandwich)
Calories 396.61 Calories from Fat 237
% Daily Value*
Fat 26.29g40%
Saturated Fat 8.99g56%
Cholesterol 80.54mg27%
Sodium 769.22mg33%
Potassium 398.39mg11%
Carbohydrates 19.07g6%
Fiber 0.97g4%
Sugar 1.89g2%
Protein 20.08g40%
Vitamin A 110.08IU2%
Vitamin C 25.96mg31%
Calcium 29.71mg3%
Iron 2.36mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Chili as you like it

I’ve made a lot of chili and written about it here on DRB. I never make it the same way twice, usually because some ingredient or other is not in the pantry this time. Chili is an any time, any season food. It can be made in an hour or a day. Eaten fresh or from frozen, in a coffee mug or a fancy bowl. It can be endlessly customized from the get-go or just before eating. And it keeps getting better in the fridge for several days.

For Dads: Kids can help gathering ingredients, stirring, setting the timer and checking when it goes off, even slicing veggies if you dare. Can be a longer project that builds lots of good memories.

I’m no chili purist, as will become obvious. I know that for the pure in heart, chili is meat and, well, chilies. I don’t think I’ve ever had it that way, but keep thinking I will.

So, get out the Dutch oven and let’s go….

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Dad’s Chili As You Like It

A flavorful, straightforward approach for chili to personalize to your heart's content.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili, Keto, meat, vegetables
Servings: 8 hungry people
Author: dad

Equipment

  • Dutch oven
  • chef's knife

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp fat To sauté the meat and vegetables. Use bacon fat, EVOO, butter, or combination.
  • 2 lbs meat Ground beef, ground pork, ground lamb, ground Italian sausage even. Mix and match.
  • 1 large onion 1/4" dice
  • 2 stalks celery Thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper 1/4" dice. Any color bell pepper is fine.
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced I get mine out of a squeeze bottle—great invention.
  • 1/4 cup Dad's Spice Mix Shameless plug. Since American chili has its origins in Western Americana, use chili powder, taco spice mix, or similar. Dad's mix is mighty good, though.
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste Really enriches your sauce.
  • 16 oz salsa Use your fav. We like Rick Bayless's Frontera Roasted Tomato, but I also think Old El Paso brand is really good.
  • 14 oz diced tomatoes with juice I use canned unless I have some summertime fresh off the vine.
  • 12 oz beer If you need more liquid to cover, use water or broth (beef or chicken). Homemade is always best.
  • salt and pepper As you like them, to finish before serving.
  • sour cream Optional garnish when serving.
  • cheddar cheese, grated Optional garnish when serving.
  • green onions, chopped Optional garnish when serving.
  • cornbread or crushed tortilla chips Optional, except a no-no for low-carb folks. Serve the chili over any of these.

Instructions

  • Sauté meat in oil or fat in a pre-heated skillet over medium heat. Take your time. The idea is to cook off the water in the meat—yes, water in the meat—and develop lots of browning, aka flavor. I've made chili with ground turkey and chicken, back before we starting maxing out the fat, and these meats especially contain lots of water.
  • Reserve the meat in a bowl and sauté the veggies, adding more fat/oil if needed. Give this at least 5 minutes. I call for the onion-celery-green pepper "trinity" here, but have also used onion-celery-carrot (a mirepoix) and have subbed red pepper for green…even roasted reds out of the jar. I am particular to Mezzetta, being a longtime California guy. All good.
  • Add garlic to the sauté, stir in, and cook for a minute.
  • Add the spices and tomato paste, stir in well, and cook for two minutes.
  • Add the salsa, diced tomatoes, and beer. Up the heat to high and stir well.
  • Add back the cooked meat and stir in thoroughly.
  • Lower heat. Cover the pot and simmer for two hours, checking and stirring every 30 minutes or so, just to drink in the aroma.
  • After two hours, remove cover. If there's too much liquid, continue cooking at a bubble until the sauce is thickened to your liking. If this seems to be going too slowly, up the heat, or if there's just way too much liquid—or you just can't wait—remove some with a big spoon. You won't be sorry later.
  • Taste for richness. Add salt and pepper and sample until you're satisfied, starting with a teaspoon each. Careful with the salt—folks can always add more if they like.
  • Finally, serve in bowls with your favorite garnish(es) and starchy additions.

Notes

Make a big batch with two pounds of meat and freeze what you can’t finish in a day or two. Freezes well and also tastes better after sitting a day.
If you use Dad’s Spice Mix, you’ll get some heat at the back of your throat, but not too much, we don’t think. To spice things up, add diced jalapeños to the veggie mix or add you favorite hot sauce as you consume. 
The garnishing is very important to the eating. If you’re Keto-conscious, sour cream, green onions, bacon bits, and/or grated cheddar are all great. I used to love serving chili over crumbled cornbread or crushed tortilla chips, but don’t do this now as we’re low-carb’ers. And, of course, that’s why there are no beans in this recipe. I am getting along just fine without them…I suppose.
Hope you’ll enjoy crafting your own version of this favorite. Make it; enjoy it; freeze it. enjoy it later. It’s one of those dishes that gets better for several days after making.

Sliced bread

On July 7, 1928, the first loaf of sliced bread was sold in a grocery store in Ohio. The sale and the event were the result of the invention of the bread slicing machine. At the time, it was hailed as the greatest thing since packaged bread.

This just reminds us that our food lives, like every other part of life, are driven by invention and creativity. From the invention (discovery?) of controlled fire, to sliced bread to oleo (some things don’t work out), we are caught up in and are the beneficiaries, or victims, of endless cyclical innovations.

Most new developments are mergers of other inventions. Butcher Box merges organically-grown, grass-fed meat-o-culture with internet marketing and dry ice. My recipes are more and more the result of mergings, experimentation, and a pinch of creation.

What are your favorites among the dishes you’ve invented?

Thanks to The Writer’s Almanac for the background on sliced bread.

Farms don’t talk, do they?

Chicago’s The Talking Farm is a nonprofit educational venture that teaches and provides experiences in farming for local kids, interns, and us general public types. We attended a TF “Farm Dinner” last evening to check them out and get educated. We came away impressed, edified, and with a new idea about how to help out in the fight against the urban food desert.

On two-and-a-half acres in a close-in Chicago suburb, The Talking Farm grows a wide variety of veggies, herbs, and fruit to bring the realities and benefits of local, sustainable agriculture to us all. Operating since 2006, The Talking Farm is a community-based sustainability gem, producing 6,000+ lbs of organic produce for local restaurants, a CSA, and food-for-the needy programs. Ten percent of output goes to help provision food banks.

The “talking” part of the farm’s work happens when their “farmer-educators” teach about the significance of locally and sustainably-grown food on the environmental, social justice, and health issues facing our communities. They teach how to take a personal part in a more sustainable, ecologically-balanced, and healthy future.

Talking Farm Manager Matt shows off a beet.

I hope you have a talking farm near you.

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