Slow-Cooker Hamburger Soup

There is something comforting about a nice, hot bowl of soup. Even better when it requires little prep time and can be ready & waiting for you at dinner. This hamburger soup is very hearty, and my version is pretty low carb (so my diabetic hubby can have a huge bowl – this is his favorite soup!) but feel free to add potatoes, corn, carrots, anything you like.

Crock Pot Hamburger Soup

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can use pre-cooked ground beef for a “hands off” meal, or you can add the hamburger raw, allowing it to cook in the broth, but you have to be available to stir and break up the beef as it cooks. You also need to use very lean ground beef for this method, or you will have greasy soup! I’ve made that mistake, so I’ve learned to start writing the fat content on my ground beef if I am freezing it raw. However, I prefer to cook large quantities of ground beef in the crock pot, then freeze in 2 pound portions so it’s ready for recipes like this.

Hamburger Soup

Slow-Cooker Hamburger Soup

Slow-Cooker Hamburger Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef*
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained (I like to use Delmonte Diced Tomatoes w/Green Peppers & Onions)
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) green beans (I drain one, and use the liquid from the other, depends on the amount of broth you like)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon crushed bay leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (optional)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • *pre-cooked or raw. If adding raw beef, soup will need to be stirred & beef broken up as it cooks.

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to slow-cooker.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Stir before serving, add additional salt & pepper as needed.
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I sometimes add carrots, but as stated earlier, feel free to add any veggies you like. It’s also good with rice. I usually have Cornbread Muffins or Copycat King’s Hawaiian Bread with it, because the kids and I still love our carbs! (This can also be made on the stove top, but it’s just so easy to let it simmer in the crock-pot all day!)
I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) Little Miss DexterousThe Tumbleweed ContessaI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime  Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206The Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) Sew Crafty AngelThe Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap Crafts (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife, Life with Lorelai (Sunday) My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies

Meat Lover’s Pizza Dip

So, I heard there’s a big football game coming up pretty soon. And y’all know me, any excuse to make & eat party food. This pizza dip would be great for a Super Bowl party (or any party), for after school snacking, or you can go crazy and eat it for dinner (which is exactly what my husband did one night recently.) It can be a low-carb alternative to traditional pizza, depending on what you eat it with.

Meat Lovers Pizza Dip

You can also add whatever pizza toppings you like. I made this a ‘Meat Lover’s’ version, full of (turkey) pepperoni, seasoned ground beef, and bacon. Sausage and Canadian Bacon would have been good too.

Meatza Pizza Dip

This is a cheesy, creamy dip, that is good with tortilla chips, corn chips, pita chips, toasted French bread, bread sticks, and the list goes on. I wasn’t a big fan of the pretzels used in the above pic however. They turned a little soft & I didn’t like the texture. Of course, the dip is also good eaten with a spoon!

Pizza Dip

Meat Lover's Pizza Dip

Meat Lover's Pizza Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 (14 oz) jar pizza sauce, (or homemade)
  • 1/4-1/2 pound lean ground beef, cooked & crumbled (I added oregano, garlic powder & onion flakes while cooking)
  • Pepperoni (desired amount; turkey pepperoni is less fat/grease); divided
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Bacon pieces (desired amount)
  • Chips/bread/etc for dipping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together cream cheese, sour cream, oregano, and garlic salt in a medium sized bowl until blended.
  3. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly into a 9 inch pie pan.
  4. Top cream cheese with pizza sauce.
  5. Sprinkle ground beef and a few pepperonis on top of sauce.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  7. Remove from oven and top with cheeses, additional pepperoni, and bacon pieces.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted and bubbly and pepperonis are beginning to crisp and brown.
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Recipe adapted from Belle of the Kitchen and my Pizza Casserole

As you can see, the amounts and ingredients are very versatile. Anything you like on pizza will probably work well in this dip. Feel free to add more or less meat, cheese, and spices.

Will you be watching the Super Bowl? Thought about what food you will be serving? That is the most important part, right?
I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) Little Miss DexterousThe Tumbleweed ContessaI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime  Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206The Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) Sew Crafty AngelThe Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap Crafts (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife (Sunday) My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

For those of you watching your carb intake, cauliflower can be used as a decent substitute for potatoes in some dishes. I say ‘decent’ because I don’t really like cauliflower but have been successful (and sometimes not so successful) in using it in the place of potatoes for a low carb side dish and my favorite way to eat it….as pizza crust!

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

For Thanksgiving, I knew my low-carbing, diabetic husband would have a lack of options for sides, since he would not be eating the awesome stuffing, or the potatoes. (I think we had rice too!) So I made this cauliflower casserole and included lots of cheese-y goodness, and bacon. Because we know bacon makes everything mo’betta.

Cauliflower Casserole

Did it taste like a loaded baked potato? No. It tasted like cooked cauliflower with cheese and bacon. However, it wasn’t bad for us non-cauliflower people and it was down right tasty to those who like it (aka my mom. The only one out of the 10 of us.) But, it gave my husband a low carb option, so my job was done.

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, boiled until soft*
  • 6 ounces Colby & Monterey Cheese Blend
  • 4 ounces Gouda (plus extra for topping)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 5 Tablespoons (or approx 1 1/2 ounces) chopped bacon (I used Oscar Mayer Selects Real Bacon Bits, no nitrates/ites added) Plus extra for topping, if desired.
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoons onion or garlic powder
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • *I boiled my cauliflower in chicken broth for extra flavor

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Add cooked, drained cauliflower to large bowl. Mash with a potato masher until desired consistency is achieved (I left small chunks.)
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl, except for cheese and bacon that you will be topping the casserole with. Stir to combine. Add salt & pepper if desired.
  4. Place in a greased casserole dish (8 x 8, 9 x 9 or 2 quart), top with additional cheese and bacon. (I think French Fried Onions would be a good addition to.)
  5. Cover with foil and bake approximately 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake and additional 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly.
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Thanksgiving plate

This. This is how you do Thanksgiving. And this (in conjunction with cookies, fudge and egg nog) is why I need to be at the gym right now.

I may be linking up at any of the following – (Monday) The Tumbleweed ContessaI Should Be Mopping the FloorHuckleberry Love (Tuesday) Naptime  Creations, Memories By the MileVMG206The Cookie Puzzle (Wednesday) Sew Crafty AngelThe Newlyweds PilgrimageFluster BusterGinger Snap Crafts (Thursday) Joyful HomemakingMiz Helen’s Country CottageLamberts Lately (Friday) Project InspireJust Us FourDiana RamblesThe Better Baker,Close to HomeWalking on SunshineVintage ChicDaily DishThe Diary of a Real Housewife

Low Carb Cheesecake (with optional Blueberry Topping)

For those of you following a low carb diet, or have ever tried following a low carb diet, you know how hard it can be to satisfy those cravings for something sweet. I have attempted to low carb it many times, each time failing miserably! My husband however, has been eating low carb for years now to help control his diabetes. This cheesecake is one of his favorite indulgences, minus the blueberry topping…he prefers his plain.

Low Carb Cheesecake

3 (8 ounce) packages Cream Cheese, softened (I usually use 2 ‘regular’ cream cheese and 1 reduced fat)
 
3 eggs, room temperature
 
3/4 cup Splenda (or artificial sweetener of choice. I’ve had good luck with xylitol, but haven’t used it for this yet.)
 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  • Lightly spray pie plate with cooking spray.
  • Mix together cream cheese, Splenda, lemon juice and vanilla until well blended.
  • On low speed, add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just blended after each one.
  • Pour mixture into pie plate, bake 45 minutes or until center is almost set (but still slightly jiggly)
  • Cool, add fresh fruit or fruit topping if desired (see below for blueberry topping)
Recipe adapted from Kraft
Blueberry Topping
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Tablespoon desired sweetener (less if berries are very sweet)
1 Tablespoon water
Heat on medium high heat until berries are bursting and sauce begins to thicken. Reduce heat and let simmer to desired thickness, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly and add to top of cheesecake.
This is a crustless cheesecake, but you could always add a low carb almond crust.
Anyone out there low carbing it? How’s it going? What’s your favorite low sugar treat?

B-Up Bars – Product Review (#lowcarb #highprotein #cleantreat)

This is a sponsored post from Yup Brands and Blog Meets Brand. All opinions are my own (or that of my hubby).

This is a product that I was excited to review since my husband is diabetic and follows a low carb diet to help control his blood sugars. It is so hard to find tasty snack options that are not full of junk because let’s be honest, snacking on vegetables gets old. It’s nice to have some other low carb snack options that he can enjoy on the go and satisfy that sweet tooth. Not to mention, I like to have high protein/low sugar bars to keep in my gym bag for post-workout snacks. (Protein helps build lean muscle and the more muscle you have, the more your metabolism increases. Since my metabolism slowed down to a slugs pace after age 35, it’s important for me to incorporate weight lifting in with my cardio.) I also need to lay off the chips, but that’s a different post all together!

A huge issue I have with most low carb bars is the amount of sugar alcohols in them. Sugar alcohols are those sweeteners that come with a warning about causing GI distress if you consume to much. Uhmmm, no thank you. I also only like to use sweeteners from natural sources, like stevia and xylitol. I am really trying to limit our intake of aspartame and sucralose.

So, my “dream bar” would be high in protein, low in carbohydrates, low in sugar/sugar alcohols/artificial sweeteners…in other words – no junk! Well, guess what? B-UP Bars are a dream come true! They are all those things plus high in fiber, low in sodium and they taste good! (Not that weird “protein-y” funky taste, but actually taste good.) My husband, who is super picky (sorry honey, but it’s true!) really enjoyed the bars and tried to take them all for himself. The bars have a nougat type texture/consistency, and come in several flavors. (Peanut Butter, PB and J, Chocolate Mint, Sugar Cookie, Cinnamon Roll, and Vanilla Peanut)

 *As a matter of fact, you can sign up to receive a 6-pack trial of the bars here to give each flavor a try. ALSO, readers can save 12% on box orders by entering code yup29 at checkout.*

So, bottom line…B-UP Bars have 20 grams protein and 18-20 grams fiber, with only 2-3 grams of sugar and only 4-5 grams of net carbs. AND, they have no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives, are low in sodium and gluten free. If I had not tried them for myself, I would not even believe it! If you would like to learn more about the products above and this awesome company, check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I, for one, am very glad to have some healthier pre-packaged options for my diabetic hubs and for me too! I also love the company’s tag line…Be Healthy. Be Better. B-Up. (UP stands for Unlimited Potential!)

 
Anyone else lead a low carb lifestyle? What about that mid-life metabolism? Can anyone else relate or is it just me?!

Baked-not-Fried Pickles {and a few other snack ideas}

Don’t cha just love fried food? Don’t cha just hate that it’s so bad for you?! I’m always looking for healthier alternatives to my favorite “bad” foods. That’s why when I saw this recipe for baked “fried” pickles in Prevention RD’s cookbook, I knew I had to give them a try.

The bad news is that I ate almost all of them by myself. The good news is they were not too bad for me, so it’s okay 🙂 I think I shared a few with my girls. My 5 y/o wasn’t interested in a breaded, hot pickle…he thought I was nuts! He didn’t appreciate me messing with his beloved dill pickles.

Oven-Fried Pickles from Prevention RD

20 oz jar Claussen Kosher dill burger slice pickles (about 16 slices) *I used the regular dill pickles slices by Mt. Olive
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp garlic powder *I reduced this to about 1/2 tsp
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Preheat oven to 450 F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and flour together. 
  • Add Worcestershire, hot sauce, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, and pepper to egg mixture. Blend well.
  • In a shallow dish or plate, add panko crumbs. 
  • Dip each pickle slice into the egg mixture, than coat with the panko bread crumbs until both sides are well coated.
  • Place coated pickles on a sprayed baking sheet. Bake for a few minutes on each side (2-3) or until lightly browned on each side. 
Serve warm with choice of dressing for dipping. We used ranch! These would make a great addition to your New Year’s Eve party tray, along with these….
What are your plans for New Year’s Eve? {Insert song burst here *what are you doingggg, New Year’s.  New Year’s Eveeeee*} I’ll be fixing a few appies and try to stay awake to watch the ball drop. My kids might invite a couple of friends over and that’s about as exciting as I am planning on things getting around here. I’m getting so old.

Low Carb Cinnamon Crunchies

If you are following a low carb diet, you know how difficult it can be to satisfy that sweet tooth sometimes. Several years ago, a co-worker told me about these cinnamon snacks and I’ve been making them ever since. When I tell you the ingredients, you may think I’m a little nuts, but seriously, they are good! (I can’t say they are good for you, but there is a lot of debate about low carb diets and the amount of fat in them.)

These are similar to the cinnamon twists from Taco Bell. Can you figure out the main ingredient from the picture? Pork rinds! Yep, I’m not kidding…

Low Carb Cinnamon Crunchies

  • 1 bag plain pork rinds (full size bag, not snack size)
  • 4 T. butter, melted
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp. sweetener of choice (I prefer to use stevia)
Place pork rinds in a gallon size ziploc bag. Pour melted butter over pork rinds. Close bag and shake until pork rinds are coated in butter. Mix together cinnamon and sweetener, sprinkle over pork rinds, shake bag again until pork rinds are coated in cinnamon mixture. Store in air-tight container.
You can also place the coated pork rinds on a baking sheet and heat for a few minutes to make them warm and extra crispy. You can also do this if they start to get soft and they will crisp up again. Ours usually don’t last long enough! You may need to play with the cinnamon-sweetener ratios to get your desired flavor. Check out my Low Carb/Diabetic Friendly Pinterest Board for more recipes and ideas!

Peanut Butter Cookies {4 ingredients; GF; low carb option}

When I discover a recipe that allows me to make cookies by only messing up 1 bowl, 1 spoon and uses 4 ingredients…I’m so in. This is a great recipe for the kids to make for the same reasons – super easy, and not so messy! In fact, my kids made at least 3 batches of these cookies in one week! (One batch was included in the end of the year teacher gifts.)

You can make them with the traditional criss cross markings on top, which for whatever reason is my favorite.
You can make them as drop cookies or roll them into balls, AND you can add chocolate chips – if you want to make it 5 ingredients. Chocolate makes everything mo’betta.
You can also make these with regular peanut butter, natural peanut butter, or peanut butter replacements (WowButter, Sunflower butter). You can also make them with sugar substitutes, like Splenda, for a low carb, low sugar version. {and yes, I’m aware that some people are totally against Splenda. I personally prefer Stevia as a sugar sub, but Splenda seems to work better in baking. When you have a diabetic in your family, sugar substitutes are going to be a part of your life.}
We tried different versions, and the best texture comes from regular peanut butter and powdered sugar. The ones with Splenda were a little crumbly, with a slight artificial sweetener aftertaste, but were still good and a treat when you need something low in sugar and carbs. The ones with the natural peanut butter were also good, they are just a little greasier than when using regular peanut butter, but I always buy natural peanut butter (the no-stir kind with no hydrogenated oils), so this is how we will usually make them. When made with peanut butter replacements, they are going to taste like the replacement used, and depending on which one is used, they may be a little greasy or crumbly. I like the flavor of Sunbutter best (I have an easy homemade version here), but WowButter is cheaper and easier to find around here. *There are a couple of other cookies on the blog using PB replacements here and here*  These cookies are flourless, so they make a great snack for anyone who is following a gluten-free diet too! (Just make sure other ingredients used are gluten free.)
Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar (or Splenda for sugar free)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner.
Add all of the ingredients to a medium size mixing bowl, and stir until combined and smooth.
Take about a tablespoon of dough and (1) roll in a ball, then use a fork to press down in one direction, then the opposite direction to make your criss cross markings on top OR (2) drop onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes. *The original recipe said 10, ours only needed 8-9 minutes*
Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Have any low carb dessert recipes? I’d love to hear about them!
 

Low Carb Pizza Crust (that you can pick up, hold and fold!)

I’m not a newbie to low carb, and I’ve experimented with different low carb pizza crusts before. There was the egg and cream cheese crust and a previous cauliflower pizza crust attempt. The cauliflower crust had potential, so I decided to give it another try after I saw ‘The Secret to Perfect Cauliflower Pizza Crust‘ by The Detoxinista.  The key, she said, was to really squeeze all the liquid from the cauliflower before mixing your other ingredients.  I gave it a try.

Tip: Make your crust thicker than you think you need bc it will flatten out quite a bit once cooked (because of the moisture drying out.)  Once you bake your crust, add toppings and bake a few more minutes.
We had a little meat lover’s action going on.
But check it out!  Low carb pizza that you can pick up, hold, and fold, just like regular pizza!  Pretty cool.
It is also pretty tasty.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to add more spices to the crust.  The cauliflower has a little natural sweetness to it once baked, so I think adding more spices would help.

 Cauliflower Pizza Crust 

adapted from The Detoxinista – my changes in italics
{makes 1 large crust}

4 cups raw cauliflower ‘rice’*
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon basil
pinch of salt

*pulse cauliflower in a blender or food processor to achieve a rice-like consistency

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.
  2. Cook your cauliflower ‘rice’ by boiling about an inch of water in a large pot.  Add the cauliflower, and cover. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, then drain with a fine-mesh strainer.
  3. Place your drained cauliflower ‘rice’ on a clean, thin dishtowel. Wrap up the steamed rice in the dishtowel, twist it up, and squeeze all the water out! This is the key to having a crust that will hold together! Be careful, the cauliflower and water is hot, but squeeze it good (rubber gloves are handy for this step!)
  4. In a large bowl, mix your strained rice with the beaten egg, cheese, and spices. Mix well.
  5. Press the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed aluminum foil (mine still stuck to the foil a little, but not bad) into your desired pizza shape. Keep it about 1/3 to 1/2 inch in thickness.
  6. Bake crust for 35-40 mins in preheated oven. The crust should be firm and golden brown when done.
  7. Remove crust from oven and add toppings of choice.  I used pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni, turkey sausage, Canadian bacon, and real bacon bits, and cheese, of course!  Return the pizza to the oven, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
 **There are excellent step by step pics in the original post.

 

Pizza Night! {with homemade turkey sausage}

We looovveee pizza around here, and we often have homemade pizza on Fridays.  The perfect meal to kick off the weekend!  My ‘go-to’ homemade crust is this one, and if I use a store-bought crust, it is usually this one.
Many times we have plain.cheese. (because my kids are such adventurous eaters *sarcasm*). But on this night I made a ‘meat lovers’ pizza with homemade turkey sausage. Turkey sausage is very tasty, less fattening, and super easy to make.  I usually buy ground turkey in bulk from Sam’s Club and have been using a recipe from allrecipes.com. I couldn’t find it online again when getting ready to do this post (but it was adapted from Judy Culbertson @ allrecipes.com)

Turkey Sausage 

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger
*fennel seeds (optional) Sometimes I will add in a sprinkle of fennel seeds if I am making the sausage to put on pizza. I leave it out if making breakfast sausage.
Crumble turkey in a large bowl. Mix in the salt, sage, pepper and ginger. Shape into patties if desired. In a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook meat over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side (if doing patties) or until no longer pink (and 165 degrees F).
I added some onions, red pepper and fresh basil to my pizza!
What’s your favorite pizza?  Do you have any Friday ‘traditions’?!