Healthier Crab Salad from a Recovering Binge Eater

A lack of mayonnaise is honestly a personal nightmare, but beauty is pain and all that jazz.

Let’s get straight into my reason for this post. I’m a food addict. I say this because it’s something that I’ve struggled with since fourth grade. Food is happiness, peace, love, hate, self loathing, and could very well be my early death. I love to eat. Food is my best friend and my worst enemy. Nothing fills the void in my shriveled little Grinch heart like binge-eating.

Oh, you didn’t want something dark from a woman who calls herself a wine drunk home cook? Well, we don’t always get what we want. Like, all of those other hip blog mommies out there, I’m now on a journey to lose weight. I will be the first hip blog mommy to inform you that it is possible to work a glass of red wine into 1200 calories a day, just in case y’all were wondering.

Truly though, I absolutely can’t be assed to eat things that taste awful, so we still have that my dears. My first patched up dish last week was to redo my mom’s seafood salad. Hers really can’t be beat, and the Rouxster and I ate a whole tub of it on vacation at the lake. Life lesson: Dominoes and gin will do that to a person.

Seafood salad is a family classic and it’s never better than when served up with Chicken in a Biscuit crackers. On the other side of the happy rainbow, we’ll be eating our light seafood salad with a fork and no carbs, so buckle up bitches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb imitation crab
  • 2 tbsp minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream or low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed
  • 1 tsp swerve sweetener
  • 2 shakes of salt and 2 shakes of McCormick garlic pepper

Cottage cheese is honestly amazing, so of course I blended that into the Greek yogurt and lemon juice. It gave it some extra oomph, and gave me the will to live.

Mix everything together and enjoy. I like to chop the imitation crab up so it all gets coated with the mix.

More healthy, light, and hacked recipes coming your way friends. Im about to embrace that saying about “variety is the spice of life” and if I’m on a journey to be better and healthier, then y’all are too. Now, somebody fix me a drink and hand me a Nembutal.

-Lin

Lactose-Free Beef Stroganoff

Do you remember that time I said I was slowly killing my family with milk products? I’m trying to make amends. A quick Google search showed me that I couldn’t get Lactaid sour cream at my local grocery store, but I could sure as heck get Lactaid cottage cheese and mix it with lemon juice.

Totally failed to get a plated picture. The best I could do was two containers of ingredients and a pan of leftovers. Whoops.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb sirloin, sliced
  • Salt
  • Garlic pepper
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Season the sirloin with salt and garlic pepper. Heat the avocado oil over medium high heat and brown the steak in small batches.

Lower the heat to medium low and melt the butter. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Keep an eye on the heat to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the broth, Worcestershire, Dijon, thyme, and adjust for salt if needed. If you use Better Than Bouillon you likely won’t need to add anymore salt at this point, but people are really effing weird about salt and you do you boo.

Add the steak and any juices to the mix and then melt in the cottage cheese. Once the cheese is melted, add the lemon juice and serve over egg noodles.

The texture was exactly the same as my normal stroganoff and everyone ate two bowls. Then I dipped some French bread in the leftover sauce, so uh, yeah, it was really good.

-Lin

Fresh Tomato Salad

With overcooked smoked picanha!

My muumuu may be covered in steak juice, wine charcoal, and partial meat failure, but the journey was worth it. Even overcooked, the picanha was juicy and delicious. I’ll likely try another one soon and thin slice it for steak sandwiches on Kaiser rolls.

The picanha was slightly overcooked, but I suppose we can’t be good at everything… Not even when we have a 6-prong remote thermometer with Bluetooth. I could blame it on wine, or say that kids wouldn’t eat rare meat, but it was just everyday Lin thinking she knows more than a top-o-the line sensor. You know, just a typical day. We’re still having shaved picanha sandwiches with au jus for dinner tomorrow.

The tomatoes and vinaigrette were the true stars of dinner and thus, the “recipe” you’re getting. It’s just a simple vinaigrette that can be made in under a minute with an immersion blender and then spooned over sliced tomatoes. I highly recommend an immersion blender for new cooks. Game changer tbh, and you can get one for $10-15 online.

Dinner brought to you by one of my best 33rd bday gifts full of Bordeaux.

Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp stone ground mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A pinch of black pepper, chives, basil, and parsley

Dump everything into a cup and blend for a few seconds with an immersion blender. You’re welcome.

These measurements make enough to serve over five medium tomatoes (sliced), which is enough for two adults and one fat baby, if you ask The Puppy. The picky Biggin declined any fresh dinner in favor of old reheated meatballs. You really cannot win them all.

-Lin

Sausage and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

I’m obsessed with Italian food and it’s a problem for my lactose-intolerant household.

We’ve been re-watching The Sopranos, which means it’s all Italian all the time. It also means I walk around saying things like, “Think, Christophaaah, think!” and, “What am I, a toxic pershon or shumthin?” My husband isn’t loving the Italian food theme (lactose intolerance), but he’ll survive until I finish Season 6B this weekend and move onto Six Feet Under. Actually, that’s probably not going to help at all, because the first thing I’ll make will be stroganoff in honor of Nikolai the florist.

I mixed up the Italian Sausage for this dish myself, because fennel is the worst and I hate it. I will forever more be hand seasoning Italian Sausage, because it was perfect. No licorice flavor ruining every bite and the brown sugar really shone through in the mix.

Ingredients:

  • 3 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage (see below for my mix!)
  • 3 tbsp olive oul
  • 1 lb ricotta
  • 12 oz. jumbo shells (cook them 3 minutes less than the package says)
  • 2 cups marinara, let’s be honest, store bought is fine for this.

Béchamel;:

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups whole milk, we use Lactaid.
  • 1/2 cup grated parm
  • Pinch of nutmeg, cayenne, and salt

Bring your oil up over medium heat and add your sausage. Cook, breaking up sausage with a heatproof rubber spatula for 5–7 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until most of the liquid from the spinach evaporates. Let cool for a few minutes and then add ricotta and salt to taste. Set aside.

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture smells nutty, 2-3 minutes. Stir in milk, then increase heat to medium-high. Whisking constantly, bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook just until thick, about 8–10 minutes. Add Parmesan and whisk until melted, then whisk in cayenne and nutmeg; season with salt. Cover béchamel and keep warm.

I like to do my noodles while I cook the béchamel, so the béchamel doesn’t have time to get thick and icky before you’re ready to stuff the shells.

Preheat oven to 375°. Spread half of the béchamel into a 9×13 casserole dish. To stuff the shells, spoon a heaping tablespoonful of sausage filling into each shell and fit next to each other to create rows. Pour remaining béchamel over shells, then spoon on marinara sauce. Top with more Parmesan.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Sweet Italian Sausage: To enjoy your own fennel-free sweet Italian sausage, mix the following ingredients together and chill until ready to use.

  • 1.5 lbs ground pork
  • 1.5 tbsps red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tsps salt
  • 1.5 tsps black pepper
  • 2 tbsps Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsps dried parsley
  • 1.5 tsps onion powder
  • 1.5 tsps garlic powder
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 tbsps brown sugar

The sausage was glorious and I’m planning on picking up a meat grinder soon to grind my own pork to make some link sausages. Adventures in drunken sausage-making coming to a blog near you.

-Lin

Chicken Riggies

Hot cherry peppers are bae.

Chicken Riggies. If you grew up in the south, you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s alternatively called Utica Riggies and every Utica/Rome, New York chef lays claim to it. The best part about Chicken Riggies is a toss up between the hot cherry peppers and the 1-1/2 cups of white wine you dump into it.

I know what you’re thinking. I said I don’t do white wine, but this is tried and true and it is chicken, so we’ll do what we must. Besides, if you use that super salty and shitty Holland House cooking wine you won’t be tempted to drink it. You’ll have to crack open a nice bottle of red to hold you over.

This stuff was good. So good in fact the Biggin was heard saying, “yeah,” in response to me asking if it was any good.

Chicken Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsps olive oil (plus more for sauté)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced. (Just use the jarred, go on, it’s really fine.)
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 lbs chicken tenderloins, cubed

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 hot cherry peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
  • 28 oz. can peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, the good stuff, chopped.
  • 16 oz. rigatoni pasta

A lot of ingredients and a lot of chopping, but let’s be honest, that means time for a lot of wine. Rip out the tendons and dice the chicken up. Add all of the marinade ingredients and chicken to a ziplock bag and toss it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Chop your veg while you wait for the chicken to soak up that goodness. When it’s time, drain the marinade off of the chicken and sauté in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot until there isn’t any pink left. Remove to a plate and melt the butter in the same pot.

Sauté the veg over medium-low heat for ten minutes. Add the cup of white wine and bring to a boil. Scrape in the tomato paste, stir until combined, and add the canned tomatoes. Use the back of your spoon to crush the tomatoes a bit. Cook down on a simmer for around ten minutes.

While your sauce cooks down, boil the rigatoni. Cook the pasta the least amount of time recommended to keep it firm. Drain and keep covered when al dente.

When the sauce has thickened up some, add the cream cheese and heavy cream. Once the cream cheese incorporates, it’s Parmesan time. Give the Parmesan plenty of time to melt before adding the chicken and pasta back to the pot.

I crowded the pan with the chicken. Can’t even take my own advice.

This dish was so dang good and the recipe makes enough to feed an army. The kids thought it was good enough to eat (yeah…) and that’s a win in my book. Here’s to hoping it reheats well in the oven tomorrow with some mozzarella and parm on top!

Cheers!

-Lin

Sous-Vide-Que Shoyu Pork Belly

I’m all about the jammy eggs.

Let’s talk about Pork Belly. The last 24 hours of my life have been devoted to a gorgeous hunk. A hunk of pig. If you’re in Texas, our lort and savior H‑E‑B, carries 4 lb. vacuum sealed pork belly for your worshipping needs. I love using my kitchen appliances while under the influence, so making a Sous-vide-que pork belly was right up my alley.

Ingredients for Sous Vide Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 – 4lb pork belly, skin on

This one is going to schvitz in the hot bath for 16 hours at 165 degrees. Be super careful when you take this baby out because the meat is going to try to fall apart on you, and we can’t have that. You can go straight to the smoker if you want, but I chilled Porky for a few hours in the morning while we prepped ingredients for ramen.

Sous vide food does not look appetizing before that final flare of heat.

I used the Kamado for the first time solo (sort of, hubby cleaned the ashes and lit it), and I’m hooked. There was something really soothing about manipulating the top dial for two hours while protecting my wine from the yearly influx of flies. We live on a sand-filled swamp that some contractor thought was a good idea to build on. Early summer is like The Birds but with 300 flies the size of your thumbnail dive-bombing you.

Smoke the belly over indirect heat at 225 degrees until the belly reaches 185 internally. If you go straight from the bath to the smoker this should take around 45 minutes. Since I chilled mine, it took around 2 hours.

True beauty.

Be super careful when you pull the pork belly from your smoker. I had to use a huge spatula to slide it off the grate. I also had to throw the Puppy into the yard and tell him to scream like Tippi Hedren to keep the flies away from me.

For the Shoyu ramen and marinated eggs I sort of followed this recipe on Delish. I halved the Tare marinade and simmered for an hour on the stove before chilling and using for the soft boiled eggs and ramen assembly. The Tare was super sweet, so I’m really glad I didn’t use it for the pork belly as the recipe suggested.

Overall, the ramen process itself was time consuming for not that great of a result, but that pork belly is life. Crack a bottle of your favorite red and get cooking.

– Lin

Kamado Roasted Chicken

Finger lickin’ good.

If your spouse pickups a Kamado Joe, you won’t have to cook ever again. That’s how it seems to be working out for me anyway.

I’ve been out of town or sick for the last three weeks and the Husband is killing it with his outdoor cooking. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but taking cold meds and drinking wine somehow cancels each other out. I feel it’s my duty to inform you, my lovely faithful followers.

Spatchcock that chicken and rub it down with the usual suspects:

  • 1 whole young chicken
  • Salt
  • Garlic pepper
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder

This bird needs to be roasted for 40 minutes (or until it’s up to temp) at 400 degrees. Sure, you could do it in an oven, but you could also just spend money on a fancy ceramic smoker that is internet famous and actually lives up to the hype.

We picked up a Kamado Joe Jr. a few weeks ago and we’re in love. (I told you we’re obsessive about kitchen appliances.) This little thing can get over 600 degrees and can be used as a pizza oven.

The lump charcoal you used with it is a bit more expensive, but it does seem to last forever. We tucked the baby Joe out by the griddle and pull our camp chairs up close to pet him while he cooks our spatchcocked chickens. I think he prefers it that way.

Joe jr. looking fiery.

To work this beauty, you have to lay the lump charcoal in the bottom and light. Open the bottom hatch and top hatch wide to allow enough air to bring the heat up and then slowly squeeze the bottom hatch to mostly closed. Use the top hatch to further adjust your temperature.

I was super concerned the first time we lit it, but controlling the temp is not difficult at all. This thing comes to temp and cooks foods super fast. Best chicken I’ve ever had!

Chicken Salad with a Twist

Test Kitchen Results: It needed chopped dates.

Last week, Husband and I went to Fredericksburg for an anniversary trip and while there we discovered we are actually food snobs, and also probably wine snobs. (I maintain that is a false accusation, very slanderous, very upsetting. I LOVE YOU BLACK BOX CAB.) All I’m saying is don’t visit Texas wine country looking for a foodie experience to go along with your wine. You’ll end up in a Sonic parking lot eating ice cream and complaining about the fake German food you suffered through.

On our wine tour I stumbled into my best meal of the weekend. Sweetbriar Rose is a bistro on 290 that is family-owned and serves jello shots for all of the bachelorette parties on the winery route. I had the chicken salad sandwich on homemade sourdough with pickled onions and it was the bomb dot com. If you’ve never had pickled red onions, I’m here to let you know that your life has been flavorless and boring up until right meow. There’s no such thing as too much vinegar in your life. If anyone tells you otherwise, cut them out of your life for being a negative influence.

Chicken Salad:

  • 3 cups of chicken, I pulled a rotisserie chicken and dumped all of the meat into a bowl. Use the dark meat too, don’t be lame, this isn’t canned chicken salad.
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup mayo. Duke’s or bust.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil. This is a dressing so spring for the evoo.
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced. Or, a giant spoonful of that pre-minced pickled garlic if you don’t care about measuring things, and we don’t.
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt

If you pull the chicken from a rotisserie, make sure you’re just pulling off giant chunks. Nobody likes shredded chicken salad. That’s for trash chicken that wasn’t good enough to be served in chunks.

In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients listed after the chicken. Use a whisk and give it some elbow grease so it all comes together nicely. Drink enough wine that you don’t cringe at how gross the mayo looks while doing so. Repeat after me, fat is flavor.

Mayo under a whisk is like black magic.

Mix that black magic into the chicken and let it chill in the refrigerator while you experiment with tortilla chips and pickled onions.

Super Quick Pickled Onions:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt

Here’s the secret to not having to boil your vinegar mix for quick pickled onions: Use honey instead of sugar, the end. All you have to do is throw all of this into a shallow dish, press the onions down, and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Air Fryer Tortilla Chips:

  • 12 street taco corn tortillas. These teeny things were bought on accident, but I now can’t live without them.
  • 1/2 tsp hot Mexican style chili powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cut the little street taco tortillas in half. Mix the last three ingredients in a bowl and then brush on both sides of the tortillas. 350 for 7 minutes in an air fryer. I did two batches so they didn’t stick to each other.

Look how cute they are. HEB is my whole life some days.

Build a sandwich base with badass Rosemary sourdough and butter lettuce and extra mayo for your chicken salad. Taste test and realize it really needed 1/2 cup of chopped dates to lift it that little bit extra. Baby sister said the chicken salad didn’t need the dates, but I’m here to tell you that it 100% does.

And who are you going to trust? Some girl that doesn’t comment on her sister’s blog, or me?

-Lin

Chicken with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Some days heavy cream is my whole life.

This meal sort of just happened because I had heavy cream, parmesan, and a lemon languishing in my refrigerator earlier this week. The lemon cried when I pulled the asparagus out, and the heavy cream threatened to turn right then and there if I didn’t stop ignoring it. The parmesan was quietly resigned to its fate, so it was really the only ingredient that deserved my attention.

The cream sauce was so good that we stood around the pan after dinner and ate it with a spoon. I know it’s a hit because we’ve already talked about cooking it again and I think chicken breast is trash meat.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • S&P
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat the avocado oil over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, the garlic powder, and the Italian seasoning. Cook the chicken breasts through. I have a great instant-read thermometer that was under $20 and gets whipped out on the regular. You need one, get it.

In the same pan, lower the heat and add the minced garlic. Let it start to brown (do not let it burn, burnt garlic is trash and ruins everything) and then add the heavy cream. Your mix can simmer, but never boil. Lower the heat after 5 minutes and melt in the Parmesan cheese. Parmesan takes a while to melt into the sauce properly, so settle in with a spoon and a bev. Once the cheese is incorporated, turn off the heat and squeeze in the juice from that sad lemon you’ve had sitting in your fridge for too long.

The only thing that could improve this meal is a crusty baguette to drag through that sauce.

– Lin

Sous Vide Ribeye

I really love steak. Like, I really really love it. If I could get away with it I would cook it every night. Flat iron, sirloin, strip, t-bone, flank, filet… all great, but nothing tops a ribeye. Fat is flavor, you know? In fact, I love my husband extra because he’s willing to give me the eye from his ribeye.

You’re going to need a sous vide machine for this one. I can’t recommend this gadget enough since it’s basically idiot-proof. As long as you don’t mess up your vacuum seal, and you stick with tried and true recipes, you really can’t mess meat up with this thing. Sous vide is not a quick cook, so it’s usually not a weeknight meal. I like to pull it out on the weekends and let the steaks go for a few hours. In a few weeks we’ll do a 24 hour sous vide brisket and see what this baby can really do to some meat before we smoke it.

A good piece of beef doesn’t need much more than salt and pepper, so you won’t see any crazy marinades here. Meat rubs/marinades are for cheap cuts and nothing will change my mind about it. A little cayenne, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, etc., are all good additions to a steak, but don’t get wild if you shelled out for the good beef. Let that meat speak for itself.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ribeye steaks
  • S&P
  • Steak Seasoning, (Just order the Texjoy already!)

Special Gear:

  • Sous Vide Machine, I have an Anova and I love it. The phone app is also awesome.
  • A container that holds enough water to keep your sous vide happy and has a snug lid. My machine informs me loudly with flashing red lights when it isn’t happy with me.
  • Vacuum sealer
  • Vacuum bags

Season and vacuum seal your steaks separately. You can put them both in the bag, but we usually only slice up one steak between two of us. I put the extra finished steak (still in the bag) in the fridge overnight and it only take a few minutes for the circulator to heat it back up the next day before searing. You’ll have just enough time to prep some veggies.

I generally prefer my steaks to be medium-rare or rare, but when I sous vide ribeye I cook them at 137o for 2-3 hours. I frequent r/sousvide over on and refused to go above 132o for the longest time against their advice, but they were right, 137o just gives ribeye a really great texture. When you pull your steak out of the circulator it’s going to look sad and grey.

Like this. It looks like this.

Cut open the bag, drain the juices, (some folks save the juices from all of their cooks, but I’m not keeping a bag of meat juices hanging around, ok?) and pat the steak dry. You don’t want any visible moisture left on the exterior when it hits the pan.

To sear, heat 2 tbsp of butter over medium to medium-high heat for several minutes. Brown the steak on both sides for 1-2 minutes. Slice it up and serve with some sad sauce-less carrots and don’t forget to steal the fat from your spouse’s steak. You did all of the work, so you get the treats.

– Lin

Sad Baby Carrots: air fryer for 18 minutes at 380o. Salt, pepper, and Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning blend.