BLT Lettuce Wraps

8 leaves from 1 medium head butter lettuce, such as Boston or Bibb
6 slices bacon (about 6 ounces)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium avocado, diced

Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 400°F. Lined a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Lay the bacon on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until deep golden-brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Meanwhile, stir the mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice, and pepper together in a small bowl; set aside.

Once the bacon is cool, transfer it to a cutting board and coarsely chop it. Fill each lettuce leaf with tomatoes, bacon, and avocado. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

RECIPE NOTES

Make ahead: The bacon can be cooked and chopped a day ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Pancakes

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1/4 cup flour, such as almond, coconut, or all-purpose
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
Cooking spray or butter, for greasing the pan
Sliced strawberries and powdered sugar, or maple syrup, for serving

Place the cream cheese, eggs, flour, baking powder, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth.
Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray or butter. Once the butter is melted, pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the batter. Cook until deep golden-brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.

Repeat with cooking remaining batter. Serve with sliced strawberries and powdered sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.

RECIPE NOTES

Make sure the batter is perfectly smooth before you begin cooking; start with room-temperature cream cheese. If you want to add a pinch of sugar, a dash of cinnamon, or even a splash of vanilla, go right ahead. I prefer them plain so I can load them up with flavorful toppings. You could even up the cheesiness of these tangy pancakes with a handful of shredded Parmesan or cheddar cheese and take them to the savory side.

Wait to flip. Give the batter enough time to set before cooking the other side. Three minutes gives a golden, lacy appearance.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Reuben Casserole

8 oz (226.8 g) Pastrami, thinly sliced
8 oz (226.8 g) Corned Beef, thinly sliced
2 cups (284 g) Sauerkraut
8 oz (226.8 g) Swiss Cheese, sliced
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Caraway seeds

For the Russian dressing
1/2 cup (112 g) mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) Low Sugar Ketchup
1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) onions, chopped
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Smoked Paprika

Preheat oven to 400F.

Make the Russian Dressing: In a small bowl, mix together mayo, ketchup, onion, hot sauce, and paprika and set aside.

Butter an 9 inch pan or an 8 x 8 baking dish. Layer the ingredients for the Reuben: start with the three fourths of the corned beef, top with the sauerkraut. Sprinkle the caraway seeds across the sauerkraut. Drizzle the dressing over the sauerkraut. Top with the remaining meat, and then top with Swiss Cheese. So your layers will be: meat, sauerkraut, caraway seeds, dressing, meat, and Swiss cheese.

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Turn on the broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes if desired.

Notes:

Use a 9-inch cake pan or an 8 x 8 baking pan to make this casserole.

Use a combination of thinly sliced pastrami and corned beef.

Drain the sauerkraut as well as you can. Despite this, you will have some sauce in the bottom of the pan once it’s baked. I drizzled most of this over the casserole.

If you don’t care about making this low carb, you can always layer the bottom with pieces of rye bread. Top with rye bread as well, and bake as directed. In this case, the bread will soak up all the lovely dressing. But of course, for low carb, either skip the bread or try it with Sola bread which is currently my favorite low carb bread.

Use Swiss cheese or any other kind of melting cheese for the top.

The caraway seeds add a lovely crunch to this dish. You can also buy sauerkraut with caraway seeds and skip a step.

Blue Cheese (or Feta) Dressing

2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives or scallions
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
Dash of salt, if needed
Dash of ground black pepper

Place 1 ounce of the blue cheese, the chives, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, water, salt, and pepper in a wide-mouthed mason jar or cup that will fit an immersion blender without splashing. Blend with the immersion blender until combined.

Stir in the remaining 1 ounce blue cheese, as this dressing is best if it remains a bit chunky. Place a lid on the jar.

Allow the flavors to develop for 1 hour or more in the refrigerator. The dressing will keep for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Tip: Blue cheese varies greatly in saltiness and texture, so taste the dressing before adding salt and choose a variety that is crumbled or dry enough to crumble easily.

Broccoli Salad

FOR THE SALAD
kosher salt
3 heads broccoli, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 c. shredded Cheddar
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c. toasted sliced almonds
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tbsp. freshly chopped chives

FOR THE DRESSING
2/3 c. mayonnaise
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a medium pot or saucepan, bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, prepare a large bowl with ice water.

Add broccoli florets to the boiling water and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the prepared bowl of ice water. When cool, drain florets in a colander.

In a medium bowl, whisk to combine dressing ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and pour over dressing. Toss until ingredients are combined and fully coated in dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Almond-Crusted Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 c. almond flour
3 large eggs, beaten
3 c. freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
Vegetable oil
3/4 c. low-carb sugar-free tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves, for topping

Preheat oven to 400°. Using a sharp knife, cut chicken breasts in half crosswise. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Place eggs and almond flour in 2 separate shallow bowls. In a third shallow bowl, combine Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

Working with one at a time, dip chicken cutlets into almond flour, then eggs, and then Parmesan mixture, pressing to coat.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add chicken and cook until golden and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Work in batches as necessary, adding more oil when needed.
Transfer fried cutlets to a 9″-x-13″ baking dish, evenly spread tomato sauce on each cutlet and top with mozzarella.

Bake until cheese is melty, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, broil until cheese is golden, 3 minutes.
Top with basil and more Parmesan before serving.

Cauliflower Cheese Casserole

FOR THE MAC & CHEESE
Butter, for baking dish
2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 c. heavy cream
6 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
4 c. shredded cheddar
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1 tbsp. hot sauce (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE TOPPING
4 oz. pork rinds, crushed
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375° and butter a 9”-x-13” baking dish. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt. Spread cauliflower onto two large baking sheets and roast until tender and lightly golden, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, heat cream. Bring up to a simmer, then decrease heat to low and stir in cheeses until melted. Remove from heat, add hot sauce if using and season with salt and pepper, then fold in roasted cauliflower. Taste and season more if needed.

Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. In a medium bowl stir to combine pork rinds, Parmesan, and oil. Sprinkle mixture in an even layer over cauliflower and cheese.

Bake until golden, 15 minutes. If desired, turn oven to broil to toast topping further, about 2 minutes.

Garnish with parsley before serving.

Mushrooms Stuffed with Goat Cheese

24 large cremini mushrooms (1 1/2 pounds), stems discarded
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, plus one 3-inch sprig of rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons fine bread crumbs
6 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 24 pieces

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a bowl, toss the mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of the oil and the rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a baking sheet, rounded side up. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender and browned around the edges. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the rosemary sprig and cook over moderately high heat until the leaves are crisp, 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels, then strip off the leaves. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the rosemary oil and reserve it for another use.

Add the bread crumbs to the skillet and toast over moderate heat until golden and crisp, 2 minutes. Stir in the fried rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Gently press a piece of goat cheese in the center of each mushroom, sprinkle with the bread crumbs and serve.