Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Vicious Circles

This is Franky, he's my new buddy!

Taking a bit of a break from posting a recipe to have a frank talk with you guys about vicious circles. I've always been a very direct person, anyone who knows me can agree. Recently, husband and I were arguing about the same things that we usually do, money, spending, the future. Crazy right? We both want the same thing but have different ideas on how to get there. My husband commented on how "We've had this argument before and it's going in circles." All I could answer was "Maybe it's time to go forward then!"

And so we started looking for a house, squee! As you can tell I'm super excited at this prospect but in return it means I have to start being more careful about our spending, one of the biggest culprit being how much money I spend on food every week. Needing ONE MORE THING at the grocery store meant leaving with $50's worth and a week later, cleaning out the fridge of the massive amount of uneaten leftovers. So I decided to start working on portion controls, to my husband's greatest sadness.

I started with corned beef, we love the stuff and since it's on sale around this time of the year, I usually buy 3-4 of them at $2.89/lb, and big ones too so we can munch on it even after dinner. That was my first eye opener, our weight loss has stalled and we both moan about portion control... and the lack there of. So I bought 3 packages of corned beef of 2 lb each, no more. Perfect portion with a side of bacon Brussels sprouts. No chance of over eating and no wasting.

Making real changes will help you break the vicious circles. This applies to everything in your life that's toxic. Weather it is a bad habit like smoking or overeating, there's no easy way out of it. When a company announces "lose 15 lbs in 2 weeks while eating what you love." take a moment and consider this snake-oil offer. Do your own research, the science behind it must be bulletproof. Be proud of your change and stick to it.

While we're at it, I came across an article that talked about how we're being cheated by chicken packaging. Curious, I did the same test with my Stop and Shop chicken and was horrified! Chicken, package and tampon weight less than the sticker said. While I rarely buy chicken there, it mystifies me that companies gets away with it. I usually go to my local butcher that has no packaging when weighting the meat.

We'll get there! If I can, so can you.
Hungry Julie, house hunter

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Snow! More Snow and Snow!

It's quite the winter weather we're having this year in Rhode Island. For years I would laugh at the "inch" of snow we would get and people going into full panic mode. "MILK AND BREAD, QUICK! GOTTA GET MILK AND BREAD" but this year we've been having back to back snow storm, it's quite the beautiful sight, if you like snow.

I want to quickly plug in one of my new favorite discovery. As a dog groomer, my hands are constantly abused by water and soap. They are normally fairly dry but this year my skin started to peel and burn between my fingers (EEEK). My usual kit of Cortisone and Aveeno did nothing to stop it. I discovered O'keeffe's working hands lotion and it's absolutely wonderful to relieve the pain in my hand and restore my skin. I'm not paid or given any freebies to mention this, if you have the same problem as me, you might want to pop in over there to check it out.

Taking a break from the whole, visiting country cooking thing, I'm a bit tired and cranky this week because my landlord turned a bit weird on me this week. We're most likely looking into buying a house soon, I would be more excited if the process didn't scare the daylights out of me and my husband but I think it'll all work out for the best. And with all that, I still found time to cook something lovely that I wanted to share with you.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Artichokes and Sun-dried Tomatoes
Prep Work, 15 minutes
Cooking Time 40 minutes
Yes I drew boobs on the bag
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
6 oz jar of artichoke hearts, drained
2 oz of sun-dried tomato
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
handful of fresh basil leaves or 2 tbsp of dried basil
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp pepper
6 slices of bacon, raw

  • Oven at 350F
  • Prepare a roasting pan with an oven-safe grill.
  • Place the artichokes, tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice and zest, basil, salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse into a paste
  • Cut your chicken breasts open and pound them flat evenly. (Here's a little tutorial)
  • Spread the mixture between the two breasts and close.
  • Wrap the bacon around the breasts tightly, use more if needed.
  • Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.
  • These things were huge
  • Turn the oven to broil and watch the bacon turn golden, flip it over CAREFULLY and do the other side. The broiling should not take more than 2 minutes per side.

1 out of 4

What?! 4 servings, what devilry is this? Well, living keto means learning how to balance a plate, it should have more than a giant chicken boob filled with goodies. Half your breasts, fill the plate with vegetables cooked in butter and you're getting closer to being "normal". Also since we eat a lot less, the whole thing would have been too much in the end. Enjoy!

Can't wait for spring!
Hungry Julie

Monday, February 17, 2014

Down and Up!

Hello fellow food lovers!

I don't know whether I have a low threshold for pain or the sheer frustration got to me but when I took a massive fall last week-end, all I felt like doing all week was sit here with an ice pack and ignore the world. Scrapped both my knees like a toddler and taught a few new swearwords to the people in earshot. Also I think I might have caused a mini-tsunami somewhere down south.

We ate quick and easy all week because of it, then come the week-end and V-Day, all my plans went overboard... so we got pizza from Toti's. Best pizza ever! My only comment on that sidestep outside LCHF is that if you're going to eat something, make it the best you can. Don't settle for mawing a Whopper or some KFC . Not only do you owe yourself the best, you'll feel less guilty about it later.

Moving on, I still owed you a second foray into Japanese cuisine and after my fall, I made the dishes I had in mind and ruined it by being a giant pain in the ass to my husband. But today it all changes and while I sit here with a "borrowed pug" on my lap, I decided that we were going to explore low-carb sushi. Even if my preference goes toward sashimi when we go out, there's a couple rolls that are just phenomenal. Ask any Japanese native and they'll tell you that even they go out to get sushi, making sushi at home is a bit ridiculous since unless you fish the fish yourself, you're liable to get everyone sick. My husband loved making fake crab n cream cheese sushi when I met him so I decided I would mimic that train of thoughts. My ingredient list include: cauliflower, cream cheese, avocado, cucumber, carrots, smoked salmon, shrimps, canned crab (real) and tuna (cooked), mayo, rooster sauce, seaweed leaves (nori), wasabi and pickled ginger.

For the techniques I will refer you to this beautiful website which offers a breakdown of how-to and traditional recipes. For the low-carb rice, I tried a couple different techniques, since we're using cauliflower rice, it's not sticky at all so I found online that people were using cream cheese, mayo or oil to hold it together. The oil was really my favorite choice, a bit of rice vinegar and olive oil really did the trick.

Here are the pictures of my experience, would I do it again? Maybe for fun and giggles but it made a massive mess and it was more funny than appetizing. Like my Japanese friend said, we'll go out for sushi next time the cravings hits. Instead of traditional roll, we ended up making hand-rolls with whatever ingredients I had out. My husband's favorite was spicy tuna and mine was shrimps, rooster sauce and avocado. Booyah! Click on the pictures to make them bigger!

First attempt was inside-out spicy tuna. What a mess! The rice was too watery to stick outside.

California roll held out pretty good but I had to use a lot. It was actually pretty tasty.

What a mess I made! Ingredients everywhere, Chef Fumi has nothing to worry about me replacing him

YES! Finally something I can eat without making a mess, hand rolls were a hit. Now THAT I would do 

We pretty much made hand rolls with whatever we wanted toward the end.

Literally everything we wanted.

I hope you liked the sushi journal. The low-carb diet offers a limited selection of cuisine to choose from but with a bit of effort and originality, we can accomplish anything and everything. The essence of eating at the core is to enjoy and pleasure one-self through the means of food, as long as you have that, you will know bliss.

Your friend!
Hungry Julie

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Japan 1-2

Hub cooking for me, so sweet!
I love Asian cooking ! Love it. Growing up as a child in a cultural city like Montréal, I was fascinated by our trips into China Town. My parents made me discover great dishes and a world of flavor. As a teenager, I went to Culinary school only a stone throw away from China Town and I spent most of my time there, eating and buying Anime related junk. I ate enough Pho and Dim Sums for a lifetime but I'd do it all over again. Now as an adult, my husband introduced me to the unholy horrors of "Chinese" food buffets, two side of a coin, but I turned it around by introducing him to the real thing, and eventually we found love in a sushi restaurant near by where we spend most of our anniversary.

My husband, this mythical creature, half American, half computer nerd. I remember the first time we met, he promised me his famous "Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pesto Sandwiches", I don't remember if we ever ate them but he had me at the maple-soy salmon on the grill. The guy loves to cook and just like me, he cooks out of love. There is no better pleasure in life than to watch the one you cook for, smile as he eats your meal. Saturday, out of the blue, I get a couple random text and suddenly I get " Ooh you're in for a treat for tonight's dinner :)"

I knew then, that I was in trouble. Filet Mignon with a brown butter shiitake ginger sauce.

Well now. He's mine and you can't have him, got it?

French Inspired Japanese cuisine? Yes please. Chef Morimoto would be pleased. I found out after this delicious meal that most Japanese recipe involves some kind of sweetener. Sugar and mirin making for the sticky and delicious balance of flavor. I was very sad, I perused a few cook books that I own and got myself a bit depressed. But fear not, Japanese Inspired dishes won't be disappointing, I assure you.

Filet Mignon with Ginger-Shiitake Brown Butter
Serves 2
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 10 minutes+5 minutes

4 x 4 oz filet mignon (22.99/lb)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup + 3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp of minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup of thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp of sake
2 tbsp mirin (or 2 tbsp of sake + 2tsp of sugar)
1 tbsp of green chives, minced
  • Oven at 400, Also heat up a oven-safe pan on the stove to a medium-high heat. (Hello Cast Iron)
  • Rub the filets with the oil and salt and pepper. Sear the steaks on both sides 2 minutes per.
  • Transfer to the pre-heated oven for 6 minutes for rare, 7-8 for medium and 10 for well done.
  • Remove the steaks from the hot pan and place in a plate covered in foil to rest while you finish the sauce.

  • Meanwhile the steaks are cooking, melt 3 tbsp of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Stir in the garlic and ginger, cook for about 2 minutes. 
  • Add the shiitake mushrooms and 1/2 tsp of salt. Cook for a good 3-4 minutes. 
  • Pour in the sake and mirin and let simmer till it reduces by half, It should start taking a nice brown color.
  • Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of butter, once melted, reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking until it reaches a dark golden brown color. Around 6-8 minutes but no need to rush it. 
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, add the chives and serves on top of the steaks.
This makes for a great Valentine's day meal if you're not into cooking very often. It's a bit expensive, a bit fancy and totally delicious if you're looking to wooooo someone special. Or heck, just make it for yourself an enjoy. The sake doesn't have to be expensive but a $10 bottle can be a nice treat since you HAVE to drink the rest after you're done cooking. Enjoy!
So good, I cried.

Your Chefs and Hosts
Hungry Julie and Hungry Chris

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Germany 2-2

"I work out!"
A few of you knows that I recently hired a professional trainer to help me learn how to properly work out. I had been going to the gym in and out for three years and to be quite honest, I might have gone a dozen time over that period of time. I sat down with myself and put it all in rows. I simply didn't know how to work out and wasted my time and money for so long. I called and cancelled on the spot.

Last summer's hiking project was a superb commitment for me and I'm looking forward to my second 100th mile hike for this year. To follow or join me, look up Julie Laplante on Endomondo, While I had a hoot hiking through the flats and hills of New England, I have visions of grandeur and the Appalachian trails is calling my name. Alas my endurance is not what it should be to even contemplate attempting this feat. So the idea of the personal trainer came to be.

Now, I'm not be rich and it's not cheap, let's face it. But while drawing up my list of pros and cons, the fact that I'll be learning proper knowledge of lifting and training, something that will always stay with me weather I move on to doing myself at home or at a gym. The original fee isn't that bad when you contemplate this. Also, I deserve it, I owed it to myself for the sake of the time and money I wasted at the gym. I deserve a chance to accomplish the things that I want to do. Live with no regrets, or die trying, right?

Tonight we're having another German meal, Crispy Roasted Chicken, the secret is in the spice mixture. Rather far away from my usual middle-eastern preference, even Jonathan Harker was woo'ed by it when Dracula served it to him. "Blood is life!" But in Julie's world, "Spice is life!" The recipe asks that you grind the spices together, you can either use a spice grinder or just buy them ground already. The flavor is slightly stronger when ground yourself but time/effort is all up to you.

"Hendl" aka Roasted Chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time : Varies
Serves 1 chicken

1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp of ground sage
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp rosemary
2 tbsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp of coconut flour
5 tbsp of liquid fat of your choice: olive, coconut, lard, butter
Click HERE for link to album, learn how to butterfly a chicken!
  • Oven at 425F for the first 15 minutes and 375F after on.
  • Grind your spices and mix them with the fat until it makes a nice mixture.
  • Rub all over your chicken and throw in the oven till it reaches an inner temperature of 165F
  • Cover with foil for the last half hour so the spices don't burn, you may also baste the chicken with it's own juices every 20 minutes for a moist meat.
Cooking the chicken in a large pan and on a rack helps for air circulating and even cooking
Depending on the cuts of chicken you choose, the cooking time will varies. You could use this spice mixture on wings, legs and thighs alone if you preferred.  I like the split chicken myself because it cooks very evenly and makes for an easy cut afterwards.

Here is a little cooking table for your whole un-stuffed chicken, it's only a guide, you should always tempt test your meat so no one get sick.
2½ - 3 lbs -
3½ - 4 lbs -
4½ - 5 lbs -
5 - 6 lbs -
1 - 1¾ hrs
1½ - 1¾ hrs
1½ - 2 hrs
1¾ - 2½ hrs
Not easy taking a good chicken picture. The flavor was delicious I assure you.

Next week, we're turning Japanese.
Hungry Julie

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Germany 1-2

I have to say, I gave myself quite the challenge to cook from different culture every week. For one thing, I'm not trained in most of those cuisine so I have to do quite the research online or from books that I own (and never looked at, I just like having them okay?). For this week I chose Germany because of my friend "Strawburreh" whom has been a great support all along my low-carb journey and herself has come a long way to look like the beautiful person that she always was. She's German and loves German food.

And then there's my husband. "I want sauerkraut and bratwurst!" Oh, so original, haha. Fine, let's do it. I set on a journey down the street to a little Polish deli. I had not had the occasion to go in there yet since they're closed on Monday. THANK GAWD because the place is 90% candies from Europe, 5% home made pierogies and 5% meat. I have a massive sweet tooth so it took a lot of courage not to explore the delicious new candies. Anyhow! The nice lady at the counter slapped a couple sausages on the counter and told me how to make this delicious recipe. I had low expectations because I didn't really like sauerkraut. And once again, quality comes ringing to remind us that shitty sauerkraut memory from my childhood are nothing compared to the truth that is GOOD Sauerkraut.
Love that white butcher paper
Simply delicious, the sausage were knackwurst, basically tasted like giant hot dogs, I was happy at how cheap everything came to be too. $8 for 6 big ol' wurst and $2.99 for the massive jar of 'kraut. A little bit of this and a little bit of that and voila. Please try it, it was REALLY good.

German Sausage and Sauerkraut
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time 5 mins
Cooking Time 15 mins

6 fully cooked knackwurst, sliced in 1 1/2 inches slices
3 cups of drained sauerkraut
1 medium size onion, sliced
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/2 cup of water
salt and pepper
2 tsp of fennel seeds
2 tbsp of olive oil
Sausage is smoked so browning adds flavor

  • Slice the onion and sausage while you heat up oil in a large skillet.
  • Throw in the sausage to brown on all sides.
  • Add the onions and let it soften up for a few minutes, add a pinch of salt, pepper and the fennel seeds
  • Add the sauerkraut, vinegar and water. Mix gently with a pair of tongs and turn up the heat to medium.
Add Sauerkraut, water, red wine vinegar
  • Let everything cook until the water is evaporated.
  • Serve with mustard!

Whole Grain mustard did the trick for me but husband preferred without. Your choice!

Another German recipe will be made this week by yours truly and I hope you won't miss it. Eating low-carb doesn't have to be boring or repetitive. But it doesn't have to be complicated either, this was easy as pie and seriously flavorful, you HAVE to try it. If you can't find knackwurst, go for brats but watch for the carb content as a lot of cheap sausage are mostly fillers. If you can find a deli that makes them there, you'll have a higher quality and less fillers.

Net Carbs
1 out of 4

Auf Wiedersehen!
Hungrige Julia

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mexico 2-2

Hello there! Did I miss my mark? Yes I did. Thursday night my lovely mother in law invited herself to dinner, little did she know what that it was full fish night. She got a little queasy at the sight of the heads but she was a good player. Alas it gave me little time to post my blog and the rest of the weekend had melted away before I could say "Huachinango a la Veracruzana".

Red snapper is a delicious fish that I discovered while in Cuba. Freshly fished and tossed on the grill with garlic oil and peppers n onions. Happy Julie are easy to come by when there's fresh fish. I had to settle for frozen myself and honestly, I didn't remember how much bones there was the first time I had it. Warning, the bones of the snapper are very hard and very sharp. Next time I'll be sure to use fillets because we got a little nervous while eating. The Veracruz sauce was absolutely delicious, weather or not you like olives ( I don't), they are whole and easy to avoid. Leaving the sauce with a delicious flavor that would go really well with any fish or pork even.

Red Snapper a la Veracruz
Makes 4 portions
Prep Time 1h
Cooking Time 1h

2 whole red snappers**, gutted and scaled or 4-6 fillets
1/2 lime juice
Salt and pepper

Cover fish with the lime juice and spices in a non-reactive container and place in the fridge for 1 hour to marinate. Turn the fish every so often. (Non reactive would be plastic or ceramic)

3 tbsp of olive oil
1 big ol' onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 jalapeno, minced (seeded if you're into that)
14 oz of diced tomato
1/2 can of tomato paste
1 cup of green olives with pimiento
1/4 cup of olive brine
1/4 cup of capers
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp of dried oregano
1 tsp of cinnamon
salt and pepper

  • Heat up the oil in a sauce pan, add the onions, garlic, jalapeno and some salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, on a medium heat. Don't let it burn but you want a bit of heat to cook/steam your veggies
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth stir and cover for a good 10 minutes with a bit more salt.
  • Uncover, add the spices, olives and capers and cook a few more minutes on medium heat until you have a nice thick sauce.
Nice Thick Sauce
  • Heat up the oven to 350F
  • Drain the lime juice from the fish and place in an oven proof casserole.
  • Pour the sauce over and under the fish and place in the warmed oven for one hour.
  • Serve with vegetables and other low carb options like cauliflower rice. 

**You get extra points if someone eats the eyeball

This ends my little bit on Mexican cuisine. On to Germany.
Hungry Julie