1. Be a Better…Cook.

    Spicy Parmesan Almond Crackers Edition:

    Usually, I don’t miss much on my low-carb diet…(minus buckets of chips and salsa), but one thing that can be challenging is to find a crunchy, crispy alternative to a good ol’ fashioned cracker. What the heck am I supposed to shovel a pound of guac or cheese in my face with? 

    I have found the answer folks and it is GLORIOUS. If you’re a regular reader, you know my love of almond flour…but this might be the best things I’ve ever done with that magical dust of the Gods. 

    Here’s the recipe for crackers that won’t make you fat and WILL make you happy.

    image

    2 cups almond flour

    2 egg whites

    1/2 tsp. thyme

    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary roughly chopped

    1/2 tsp. garlic powder

    1/2 tsp. onion salt

    1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (lessen if you’re spice sensitive) 

    5 T. grated parmesan cheese

    Sea Salt garnish

    Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and to prep your pan, cut two pieces of parchment paper the exact size of the pan. Line the pan with one, and leave the other aside. Mix all your ingredients together until combined thoroughly. Place dough mixture on the pan and apply the second sheet of parchment paper on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough as thin as you can without touching the edges of the pan. Then, score the dough into the desired size squares…Mine were about 1”x1” and turned out perfectly. Top the uncooked crackers with a generous shake of course sea salt. Then, cook for 10-12 minutes and then break up the crackers and sprinkle on some extra parm. Finish up baking by keeping an eagle eye on the browning of the crackers and remove when they are crispy and medium in color. Let cool and then just TRY to not eat the entire pan in one sitting. 

    Let me know what you think!

    xo Chinae

     


  2. Be a Better…Cook.

    The Best Chicken You’ll Ever Eat Edition:

    When I got home from the gym at 9pm last night, I wavered between eating a protein bar and calling dinner a failure OR roasting an entire chicken (I bought one for the first time this weekend) due to the fact that I needed to cook it ASAP before it went bad. 

    So I started on a chicken adventure last night that I have to say, was well worth it people. 

    Some thoughts before I post the recipe:

    -I’ve never cooked an entire chicken before.

    -I had no idea really what I was doing.

    -This chicken was $5.00 at Trader Joes, for a 4lb bird…pretty stellar deal.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • A small/medium chicken (4-5 lbs)
    • Fresh Rosemary spears
    • 1 Red Onion
    • Butter 
    • Salt and Peps

    1) First, you’ll need to remove the giblets and plastic bag from the interior of the chicken…bc plastic tastes like shit when it’s melted into your meat. Amirite?

    2) Wash the chicken with cool water, in and out and pat dry with a paper towel.

    3) Stuff the interior of the chicken with your chunks of onion and a couple of spears of rosemary. Lift the skin on the chicken breasts and shove a couple spears of rosemary, there too. 

    4)Take 2-3 Teaspoons of softened butter and rub down the bird, then liberally salt and pepper the whole shebang. This will give you a crispy skin and will lock in the juices.

    5) Leftover onions and rosemary can sit around the outside of the chicken.

    6) Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour and half/forty five. The internal temp should be 160 degrees at least. Baste with it’s own juices every 20 minutes. 

    7) After the roasting process is done, remove the chicken from the oven and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. 

    Enjoy!

    xo Chinae

     


  3. Be a Better…Cook.

    Frick.

    It’s been too long people. Lots of things have been happening in life so I’ll give you a short update on all things personal and if you could give two shits (most of you) go ahead and scroll your pretty heart on down to the next section, k? 

    K. 

    First, I went ahead with my sexy pot roast costume for Halloween. I was met with mixed reviews but I assume it went over decently when men in the bathroom line were telling me they got hungry after seeing me. Not sure if I should be insulted or delighted. All I know is that I needed guy-friend protection from these borderline cannibalistic creeps. (Thanks Jon)

    Secondly, there was a f*cking hurricane followed by an almost blizzard. It totally sucked for most people (I kinda lucked out with no loss of power and a week off of work), but NYC was and still is a moderate shitshow. Also, lots of folks are STILL without power, heat, food, and water so that totally blows and you should find ways to help through DONATING or VOLUNTEERING. Yeah…YOU.

    Other than apocolyptic weather conditions, I finished off a cocktail table that a friend started, drank a LOT of whiskey, and worked out less than I should have with that much time off. I also made some yummy food, one of the recipes is what this post is ACTUALLY about (after I get my rambles out of the way). After weathermaggedon was over, I headed to Texas to stand next to my gal, Lindsey, as she walked down the aisle to a rad guy named Wes. (Note the weird two finger jab I am for some reason giving Linds in the below photo)

    I always love time in my home state and of course I made sure to ditch low-carb long enough to eat my weight in chips and salsa. They come free with the meal but I will be paying a long time at the gym as penance for being a very very bad girl.  

    Oh, yeah…I have a new addiction to report…bored as hell on my plane ride home, I somehow got suckered into watching a show called Storage Wars on A&E and now I’m hooked on the 2012 version of Antiques Roadshow. This is a cry for help people. At least this might be better than than serial killer documentaries I was watching before bed previously.

    Other than that, I’ve been doing some freelance writing for this brand new tech/fashion startup, LOOKCRAFT. It’s a fun gig and I get to write about all things menswear which, I love. 

    Alright…enough recapping now to the blog post for today. 

    Cooking with Pumpkintown:

    I really don’t tend to like mixing salty and sweet flavors and pumpkin is one of those veggies that I ALWAYS associate with a sugary taste, but alas…I wanted to make a low carb Fall soup and ventured into a savory new world armed with cans of organic pumpkin. 

    This soup is a total mouthgasm. 

    Autumnal Pumpkin-Sausage Soup:

    1/2 Cup of Diced Onion

    1 Clove of Minced Garlic

    1 TSP Ground Sage

    1 Tablespoon of Italian Seasoning

    12 Ounces of Breakfast Sausage (Jimmy Dean or the like…not links) or Hot Italian sausage (without the casing)

    2 cups diced Fresh White Mushrooms

    4 cups of Beef Broth

    1/2 cup of Heavy Cream

    1/2 cup of water

    1 bay leaf

    Step One: Cook the sausage in a large pot and drain off the grease (I left a little for additional flavor)

    Step Two: Add onion, garlic, seasonings, and mushrooms to the pan and saute until onions are lightly browned

    Step Three: Throw in your pumpkin and stir

    Step Four: Add broth and bay leaf and mix well.

    Step Five: Simmer for 30 minutes on low-medium heat

    Step 6: Stir in your heavy cream and water and simmer 15 additional minutes.

    Season with S&P and serve!

    This is enough for 4-5 people and is the PERFECT dish for a chilly night in with friends…or you know…for a hurricane. 

    I missed you guys.

    xo Chinae

     


  4. Be a Better…Cook. {Guest Post by Laurel Dailey}

    Friends, 
    Everyone once in a while, my wild ego takes a break and I let someone else write on my very mediocre blog. Today is that day.
    Welcome.   
    Laurel Dailey is a friend of many friends (including the BF) but I couldn’t help but steal her away partially from all of them and make her a personal friend of mine as well. She started low carbing months ago and this is a journal into her first foray into low-carb baking…pretty stellar I would say. During her time not ranting HERE, she’s making people look good with her photography skills, HERE. She resides in LA with her enormous fur pelt collection.
    Enjoy.
    xo Chinae
     
    **********************************************************************************
    Low Carb Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie Edition:
    Love will make you do crazy things.
    Though I’ve yet to make any kind of insane proclamations for the sake of a fella (but if that day comes, I’m going to request that each and every one of you kindly refrain from wagging your finger and crowing, “I told you so!” because yes, I know. And you told me so. And I didn’t believe you. And, as of Monday, October 8th, I still don’t, but you all keep saying, “Just you WAIT!” And I keep saying, “Pffft.” All clear? Good.) Er…though I’ve yet to experience that lovely little slice of life cake, I will tell you that having a best friend, and then loving that best friend, will make you do crazy things as well. 
    Such is the case with one of my best friends, Jess Kemp. She’s one of my low-carb lifestyle spirit guides, as is the eternally bodacious Chinae Alexander (HEY THAT’S ME). Jess turned 30 last week, and, though I partially blame the heat for this feverish idea, it’s also love that compelled me to take the following completely-out-of-character actions:
    1. I came up with a recipe for low-carb bourbon bacon chocolate chip cookies.
    2. I baked a test batch on Monday’s triple-digit heat day. 
    3. I adjusted the recipe and baked a SECOND batch for Jess on Friday.
    4. Did I mention that I baked? Because I did. I used a mixing bowl and a whisk and I greased a cookie sheet, and I didn’t even make any lewd jokes in the process. 
    If you can believe that I, Laurel Dailey of “I don’t cook EVER, don’t make me, I can’t even boil water” fame achieved all of these things, then the only explanation I have for you will take you right back to the beginning of this post:
    Love will make you do crazy things. 


    If you’ve got a hankering for the kind of cookie that is inherently awesome (because of the bourbon) and also low-carb, then here’s my recipe. I made a recipe. And though it does contain alcohol, it isn’t a cocktail. Oof. These growing pains I’m getting from going from awesome to awesome-r are really starting to bug me.
     



    -LD

     


  5. Be a Better…Cook.

    If you’ve been reading along for a while…you’d know that I’ve been on a low-carb diet for the past two years and have since shed about 50lbs and got a brand new body in return. Yay for a less-fat ass. 

    During the summer months, I don’t miss carby foods at all…in fact, most of the time it’s too damn hot to eat so I suck on Crystal Light flavored ice cubes while dreaming about chips and salsa, and call it a day. BUT, now that the seasons are changing, my affections for eating are too. When Fall begins, pumpkin pie, stuffing, fruit+crumble, and potato-landen stews start saying my name just like a Destiny’s Child song and there I am, tempted as all-getout. 

    Instead of going on a nutmeg-infused food binge, I’ve tried to make some moderately comparable substitutes for these seasons of comfort and joy. Here is a great autumnal recipe that won’t have people mistaking you for Mr/Mrs. Claus due to your expanding waistline. 

    No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake:

    What You’ll Need…

    CRUST-

    -1 1/2 cups almond meal (or hazelnut meal)

    -4 Tbsp melted butter

    -3TBSP of Granulated Splenda

    FILLING-

    -1 14oz can pumpkin

    -2 8oz packages of cream cheese

    -1 1/2 TBSP of Pumpkin Pie Spice

    -1/2 tsp cinnamon

    -2 tsp vanilla extract

    -1/3 cup of Granulated Splenda

    STEP ONE: 

    The crust is first here people…mix your butter (melt that up before), Splenda, and almond meal and then press it into a 9” pie pan evenly. Bake this without filling (ok so this isn’t completely NO BAKE…whatever) at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until it’s a little browned on top. Let it cool while you make your filling. 

    STEP TWO: 

    With an electric or hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and the add in the full can of pumpkin. Beat that some more now.  Add in your spices, sweetener  and vanilla and whip on high speed until it’s super fluffy. 

    STEP THREE:

    Spread your filling into the cooled crust and then sprinkle with some extra cinnamon to appear fancy and good at cooking. Refrigerate for 2 hours and then eat em’ up. 

    Happy No-Baking folks,

    Chinae

     


  6. Be a Better…Bartender.

    Tequila has been enemy #1 for several years now. 

    Let’s just say…I had a bad experience. OK, maybe like 26ish bad experiences. Tequila is some type of adult super juice where after drinking it, I turn into a mix between the Hulk and an intoxicated toddler. BUT this weekend, I was tempted on more than one occasional to order a tequila based cocktail because the rest of the ingredients sounded SO DAMN GOOD. Did I? No. I had company in town and I couldn’t risk turing into a green super hero with a balance problem.

    Mission for this weekend? Drink tequila and remain a normal human being.  

    Since it’s monday morning, naturally, I am thinking about this weekend’s cocktail plans. Let’s make one mentally together and then in real like in 5 short days ok? (Or tonight, because we are adults and we do whatever we want)

    The Azure

    • 1.5 ounces of Reposado Tequila (You can sub Mezcal if you want a more smokey flavor)
    • Fresh Blueberries (4 or 5)
    • Fresh Lemon Juice
    • Tarragon (2 to 3 leaves)
    • Ice
    In a shaker, muddle tarragon, blueberries and a splash of lemon juice, until it becomes a thick syrup. In a rocks glass, pour your tequila over ice, let chill for a moment. Top with blueberry/tarragon/lemon syrup. Garnish with a lemon slice and keep your top on.
    Happy Monday!
    xo Chinae
     


  7. Be a Better…Cook.

    Got a fatter ass than usual this holiday season? Want to avoid people fawning over your non-existent pregnancy at the Christmas Eve service? Yeah, me too.

    How?

    Well, my poison is low-carbing. One of my NEW favorite low-carb weapons is Almond Flour/Meal. Yes, mofos…Almond Meal. Straight from the mean aisles of Trader Joe’s. 

    Essentially Almond Meal is for lazy people, like me. I thought at first it was some g*ddamned ancient Chinese secret…turns out, it’s almonds, crushed into a meal. JUST ALMONDS. 

    Whatever. I digress. 

    You can buy this glorious substance at a lot of places, but I get mine at TJ’s for about $3.99 a bag. 

    Almond meal is extremely low carb, has almost no taste and can be used all sorts of ways. I’ve got two low-carb examples for you to work from today…

    Southern Fried Chicken That Won’t Give You The Meat Sweats:

    -Chicken pieces, I like breasts (TWSS)

    -Oil or butter

    -Almond Meal

    -Mrs. Dash Spice Mix or whatever blend of spices you prefer

    -Salt and Pep

    -1 Egg

    Step One: Beat your egg in a bowl. Cue arm workout.

    Step Two: Combine Almond Flour, Salt and Pepper, Spices into a dry mix on a plate, use common sense to get your ratio right. 

    Step Three: Dip your chicken pieces in the egg and then dip them in the dry spices/Almond Meal mixture. Coat each piece throughly.

    Step Four: Heat enough oil or butter to cover the bottom of your fry pan, and let it get to a hot temp, typically reserved for frying. If you don’t let your oil get hot enough, your chicken is going to turn into a hot, oily sponge, and consequently…your ass will get fatter due to the sheer amount of oil you are going to be ingesting. 

    Step Five: Place your chicken bits in the oil gently. Be careful, you don’t want a burning hot oil explosion to accidentally spray your face and then go really deep into debt paying off your reconstructive surgery bills (because you know you aren’t going to go all V for Vendetta for life).

    Step Six: Once your pieces are perfectly browned on both sides and throughly cooked in the middle, remove from your fire pit/stove/bunsen burner and place the pieces on a paper towel to get rid of any access oil.

    Step Seven: Eat ‘em up and feel your butt shrinking.

    Skinny Spiced Low Carb Cookies:

    -2 Cups of Almond Meal

    -1Tsp Cinnamon

    -1/2Tsp Nutmeg

    -Pinch of Cloves

    -1/2Tsp Salt

    -1 Egg

    -1/2 Cup of Splenda Baking Version or the equivalent sugar substitute (note: if you aren’t using the baking version, look at the box and make sure you are using the equivalent amounts not actually 1/2 cup of Sweet N’ Low)

    -1/2Tsp Vanilla

    -1 Packet of Splenda/whatever to sprinkle on top

    -1/4 Cup Dried Cranberries (optional)

    WARNING: These cookies are awesome but they taste like sugar substitute which I happen to like and am totally used to. If you are wanting something that tastes like sugar, you are going to have to eat sugar and then deal with that weird stomach pooch thing that is going to happen.

    Step One: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

    Step Two: Combine all your dry stuff together and whisk to make sure it’s evenly mixed.

    Step Three: Add your egg, vanilla and cranberries (again, this is optional in case you can’t read what I already clearly stated above) and mix well. You’ll be left with a quasi-crumbly ball of dough.

    Step Four: Make little 1 1/2 inch diameter dough balls. Flatten your balls on the (parchment paper lined) baking sheet with your manos (hands for the white people). 

    Step Five: Sprinkle lightly with that packet of Splenda. You shouldn’t need more than one packet for the whole pan of cookies.

    Step Six: Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

    Give yourself the gift of a sexy ass this winter,

    Chinae

     


  8. Be a Better…Cook.

    You know my general feelings on cooking by now. A giant resounding MEH. 

    I eat broccoli about 6-7 times a week, it’s a low carb veggie that I actually kinda love…but even my beloved brocc gets boring after a while. Until now.

    Check out my recipe for the best broccoli you’ll ever eat. AND of course, it’sunder 5 ingredients.

    Be Better Broccoli:

    Things You’ll Need….

    -1 Head of Broccoli

    -1 Lemon

    -Fresh Grated Parmesean Cheese

    -Olive Oil

    -2 Tablespoons of Butter (melted)

    Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Chop up your broccoli (or buy the pre cut kind like lazy ass me). Put broccoli on a baking sheet and drizzle a little bit of olive oil on the broccoli (LIGHTLY people). Toss the broccoli with the oil and add a dash of salt and pepper. Pop that sucker in the oven and keep an eye on it…roast for about 15-20 minutes, occasionally tossing the broccoli lightly.  When you see that parts of the brocc are getting brown and crispy, remove from the oven. 

    Put your broccoli into a large bowl and pour over your melted butter and lemon juice. Stir. Add your cheese over the top until each little broccoli stem has a light dusting of parm. Serve right away.

    Welcome to the Broccoli Forest.

    xo Chinae

     


  9. Be a Better…Bartender.

    Asian Pear Infusion Edition:

    Alright…after a discussion about gin last night and also repping the fact that half of my genes are of the asian variety…I’ve got a cocktail for you today that promises to be refreshing AND get you pretty sauced. I’m not usually a gin drinker but a good gin based cocktail can really hit the spot…my favorite is Bombay Sapphire (mostly because the bottle is sexy as hell). 

    Here we go:

    Asian Pear Infusion

    2 oz Gin
    4 oz pear nectar (comes in a can…I prefer the Mexican varieties)
    ½ oz Pernod Anise (if you don’t like anise flavor, you can leave this out)
    1 oz simple syrup
    0.5 oz sake (for the asian kick…also soju can be substituted)

    Shake heartily in a cocktail shaker with a bit of ice. Serve in a highball glass over ice with a lychee to garnish. Yes, they look like eyeballs but they are delicious.

    Happy Friday my loves!

    x Chinae


     


  10. Be a Better…Cook.

    Being on low-carb lifestyle doesn’t allow for much leeway in the way of exciting food. I’m kinda ok with that though. Considering I just want to get out of the kitchen as soon as possible, quick & easy is my food-related love language. 

    One thing I tend to miss is Italian food…not being able to eat pasta sucks the big one but you know what won’t suck? When my thighs become strangers to each other. 

    So…one major Italiano craving later, I decided to get off my carbless ass and do something about it.

    Here is my attempt at low-carb lasagna:

    Things you’ll need:

    -2-3 Zucchinis (debated for at least 3 minutes on the plural form of zucchini NBD)

    -1 bag of Mozzarella cheese

    -1 container of ricotta cheese

    -1 Jar of low-carb pasta sauce or normal pasta sauce for you normal people

    -Pam cooking spray

    -1lb of lean beef or turkey, ground

    Step 1: I sliced the zucchini on the long-skinny-slice-option side of this hellish Amish level cheese grater that I have. You basically want super thin, wide strips to look kinda like lasagna noodles. If you have another easier way to do this, do that. I speak from experience as I know barely have finger prints or knuckles now. I’m not even sure how I’m typing at this point but I know I can get away with pretty much any crime, scot free.

    Step 2: Cook your meat in a pan. Man, I am a wordsmith today. Drain the meat juice and oil off and dump in your pasta sauce of choice. No need to heat.

    Step 3: Take your rectangular glass/metal baking dish and lightly spray with Pam.

    Step 4: Now starts the most complex part. The layering process. Here’s a diagram I made because I like diagrams. Sue me. 

    Rinse and repeat. 

    Step 5: Bake at Three Fiddy for about 45 minutes ( I just stabbed my zucchini and checked it until it looked cooked, which was I think 45 minutes)

    Sprinkle with Parmesean (more cheese obviously) to serve.

    xoxo Chinae