EASY HOME MADE PEPPERONI

Have you ever read the ingredient list on a package of commercial pepperoni or looked closely at a slice of it and wondered what all those "bits" were? Exactly!! A pretty gross thought isn't it?? 

If you want to know exactly what is in YOUR pepperoni, try this super easy recipe. It's just high quality pork and seasonings baked in the oven at a super low temperature for 6 hours ....and it is delicious, (even picky-picky husband loves it!!)



First of all, keep in mind that when it's all cooked, it's NOT going to be bright red/orange like commercial pepperoni, and it's NOT going to be shaped perfectly round, but that certainly didn't bother us. 

1 pound of ground pork (not sausage)
1 pound of ground beef (lean)
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (see notes)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 slightly heaping teaspoons salt (see notes)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup ice water

Grind the dry spices together (I used my mortar and pestle) until they are roughly ground (it doesn't have to be super fine).

Mix the meat, flavorings, ice water and liquid smoke together just until combined. (I use my stand mixer). Cover it well, and chill it for 48 hours (important).

After 48 hours, mix again (gently) and roll the mixture into 2 logs and place them on a foil lined baking sheet (make sure the baking sheet has a lip).


Bake in a pre-heated 200° oven for 6 hours. If you seriously want round pepperoni, turn the logs every 2 hours, but I never do that.  Your house is going to smell wonderful!! 

After 6 hours, they will look like this:


The "pepperoni" logs will be quite firm to the touch when they come out of the oven. If there is a lot of fat on your baked pepperoni "logs", just wipe it off before you chill them, but I seldom have that problem.

IMPORTANT STEP:
CHILL PEPPERONI BEFORE 
 YOU   SLICE !!

Let the baked logs cool a little, then wrap them in plastic wrap and chill them until they are very cold before you slice them.  Use a sharp knife and slice the sausages very thin.


This treat is VERY easy to make and has a wonderful flavor. 

NOTES: I buy pork butt roast when it's on super sale and just grind it with my stand mixer, but you can also just buy commercially ground pork (UNSEASONED....not sausage!!)


NOTES: Picky-picky husband is very shy when it comes to "heat" in his food, so I make this recipe with 1 + 1/4 teaspoons of red pepper flakes and it's just right.  If you like a spicier pepperoni, just add more flakes.

NOTES: A note about the color of this pepperoni. To get a bright red/orange color in pepperoni, people use Morton's Tender Quick which has salt, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite and propylene glycol in it. Personally, it is not important to us to have that bright red color, so I just use table salt instead of the Tender Quick and it works just fine.  

NOTES: This pepperoni freezes very well.

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Mashed Potato "Buns" or "Bagels"


Have you made the mashed potato "buns" yet? They are pretty amazing! Their texture is very similar to bread so they make wonderful sandwiches or bagels!


You can shape the "bread" any way you like, but I like to use a donut pan so they have the shape of bagels. You can also form two round circles on a parchment lined cookie sheet to make traditional sandwich "buns".


I used two "buns" which was 1 Fueling, topped it with Pulled Root Beer BBQ Chicken I made in the Instant Pot. The recipe for the chicken is below as well! I topped it with ranch cole slaw and it was delicious! When making this little sandwich, you still have 2/3 Lean, 2 Greens, and 4 other Fuelings to complete your day! Enjoy!

Mashed Potato "Buns"

Ingredients:
1 Medifast or Optavia Mashed Potatoes (1 Fueling)
2 Egg Whites (1/7 Lean)
1 tsp Baking Powder (2 Condiments)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the baking powder and mashed potatoes. Whisk until combined. Pour in a ziploc bag and shape the bread into desired shape or use a donut pan. If shaping yourself with a ziploc bag, use parchment paper over a baking sheet. If using a donut pan, lightly spray pan with cooking spray. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until done.



1 Serving with 1 Fueling, 1/7 Leanest and 2 Condiments



Instant Pot Pulled Root Beer 
BBQ Chicken

Ingredients:
32 oz frozen chicken breasts (4 Leaner)
12 oz diet root beer
3/4 cup G Hughes sugar free Hickory BBQ Sauce (12 Condiments)

Directions:
Place chicken breasts and 12 ounces root beer in the Instant Pot.
Use the poultry setting and change the time to 25 min. 
Do a 10 min NPR (natural pressure release). 
Drain and then shred. 
Add BBQ sauce and stir until combined.

4 Servings with
1 Lean and 3 Condiments per Serving



For the Sandwich:
Potato "Buns", 2 oz Pulled BBQ Chicken, 1/2 cup Cole Slaw Mix and 1 tbsp Light Ranch Dressing):

1 Fueling, 1/3 Lean, 1 Green, 1/2 Healthy Fat, and 3 Condiments
*You still need 2/3 Lean, 2 Greens, and 4 other Fuelings to complete your day.

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Quick Sausage Alfredo with Broccoli and Zucchini Noodles

This makes a quick and easy dinner the whole family will love! I used my favorite sausage, Al Fresco Chicken Sausage with broccoli and spiralized zucchini to throw this dish together in a matter of minutes! Then I added some alfredo sauce, garlic powder and parmesan cheese! I know this is almost too simple to post, but it was too delicious not too! Enjoy!


Quick Sausage Alfredo with Broccoli and Zucchini Noodles

Ingredients:
1/4 cup Bertolli Light Alfredo Sauce (2 Condiments)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (1/2 Condiment)
1 tbsp reduced fat grated parmesan cheese (1/2 Condiment)
2 Al Fresco Andouille Chicken Sausage, sliced (1 Lean)
1 cup spiralized zucchini (2 Greens)
1/2 cup broccoli, cooked (1 Green)

Directions:
Heat a medium sized skillet over medium high heat. Add sliced sausage and brown on both sides. Add spiralized zucchini, cooked broccoli and 1 tbsp of water to the pan. Saute for 2 min. Stir in alfredo sauce, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese until ingredients are coated with the sauce. Heat for another minute or until heated thoroughly.

1 Serving with
1 Lean, 3 Greens, and 3 Condiments

Other sausage substitutes:
6 ounces Jennie-O Sweet Italian turkey sausage = 1 Lean
Gilbert Chicken Sausage: 2 links = 1 Lean
Al Fresco Sweet Italian: 2 links = 1 Lean


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EASY TOMATO VEGGIE SOUP

This recipe is a wonderful use for all of those extra garden veggies you have this time of year. Tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, onions, celery and anything else you can think of to add to the soup; this recipe is very versatile (and yummy).


1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/2 cups water
2 large tomatoes (I use roasted cherry tomatoes)
1 (15 ounce) can ro-tel tomatoes with juice (I use mild)
4 cups beef  or vegetable broth  (not bullion)
1/3 cup uncooked barley
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper (I like 1/2 teaspoon)
2 cups chopped zucchini
1 can rinsed and drained kidney beans (or your favorite bean)
pinch of red pepper flakes if you like heat (optional)

Spray a large soup pot with vegetable spray and sauté the onions, celery and carrots until the onions turn soft and a little sweet.

Put the undrained can of rotel tomatoes


PLUS the two fresh tomatoes into the food processor and blend until smooth, then add to the pot.

Add everything else to the pot and simmer SLOWLY for 45 minutes, that's it; just stir it once in a while.

I'm SURE this could be easily done in the crockpot as well. This is one of those great recipes that tastes even better on day two.


ENJOY !!

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CHOCOLATE-PECAN ICE CREAM CUPS

These chocolate cups are quite tasty and a real show stopper. Great for company because you can make them ahead and keep them in the freezer. Even when they are frozen solid, they are and not brittle; they are the consistency of a GOOD FUDGE !!!

Great for Ice Cream or 
Chocolate Mousse !!!

All it takes to make these are ingredients you probably already have in your pantry:

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 cup finely ground pecans (I used the food processor)


In a heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated). Stir until very smooth then stir in finely chopped pecans. Insert paper liners into cupcake pans; spread about 2 tablespoons of this mixture on the bottom and up the sides of the paper liners (made the sides and upper edges nice and thick). 

Freeze for at least 2 hours. Carefully peel off paper liners and fill with a scoop of your favorite ice cream or chilled mousse. Makes about 12 cups.



NOTE: I melted my chocolate with the sweetened condensed milk in the microwave (on high); it took about 30 seconds, stirring half way through.

NOTE: Recipe calls for finely ground pecans. I used the food processor to chop the nuts super fine.

NOTE: Make sure you leave the chocolate at the top edge of the cupcake paper nice and thick, so it doesn't break/tear when you remove the paper. Chocolate cups are not super hard/brittle like other chocolate cups.

NOTE: Letting the chocolate cups sit at room temperature for about 3 or 4 minutes before removing the paper liner, makes it easier.


ENJOY !!!
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Jicama Tuna Salad Stuffed Peppers


I wanted a dish that was light, refreshing, quick and easy! This tuna salad fit the bill! It has all the flavors of Summer and then some! Boasting flavors of lime, cilantro, and jicama!


I decided to use a combination of jicama and celery to give the salad a nice crunch, but feel free to choose one, the other, or both! Jicama is super crunchy, but has a slightly sweet delicate flavor. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, get the peeled, pre-cut jicama sticks for easy preparation.


Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. It is just as yummy to eat it out of the bowl!


Stuff the tuna salad in a sweet bell pepper that has been sliced in half with seeds and membranes removed.


Top the stuffed pepper halves with two slices of provolone cheese and broil until the cheese has melted. This is the type I cheese I used. If you do not want to add cheese to your stuffed peppers, use 7 oz of tuna for a full Lean.


The peppers will still be crunchy so if you prefer soft peppers, boil the pepper halves for 5 minutes or until desired tenderness. Then stuff the peppers with the tuna salad and top it with the cheese slices. Broil until cheese has melted. Enjoy!


Jicama Tuna Salad Stuffed Peppers

 Ingredients:
4.6 oz canned tuna, drained (2/3 Lean)*
1 1/2 Tbsp lite mayo (1 Healthy Fat)
1/4 tsp Trader Joe's chili lime seasoning or seasoning of choice (1 Condiment)
1 tsp dijon mustard (1 Condiment)
1 tsp lime juice (1/2 Condiment)
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper (1/4 Condiment)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped (1/8 Condiment)
1/4 cup celery, chopped (1/2 Green)
1/4 cup jicama, chopped (1/2 Green)
1 bell pepper sliced in half lengthwise, top and membrane removed (2 Greens)
2 slices Reduced Fat Provolone cheese slices (1/3 Lean)

Directions:
Drain can of tuna, empty in a small mixing bowl and shred with a fork. Add mayo, chili lime seasoning, dijon mustard, lime juice, black pepper and mix well. Add cilantro and celery. Mix to combine. 

Stuff the two pepper halves with tuna mixture. Place provolone cheese slices on each half. Broil the peppers for a few min or until cheese melts. If you prefer your peppers to be soft rather than crunchy, boil your peppers in boiling water for 5 min or until desired tenderness. Enjoy!

*If you do not want cheese, use 7 oz of tuna for a full lean and add 1 more Healthy Fat.

1 Serving with 
1 Lean, 3 Greens, 3 Condiments, and 1 Healthy Fat per Serving

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Green Beans Almondine

Looking for an easy side dish to serve with your Lean? These green beans are delicious and require only a few ingredients!


Green Beans Almondine

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups fresh green beans, washed and trimmed (3 Greens)
1/4 tsp garlic salt (1 Condiment)
dash of fresh ground black pepper, if desired
1 tsp sesame oil (1 Healthy Fat)
1 tsp lemon juice (1/2 Condiment)
1/2 oz sliced almonds (1 Optional Snack)

Directions:
Place green beans in a medium sized skillet. Add enough water to just cover green beans. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and place green beans in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Heat oven to 400°F. Place almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast about 5 minutes or until fragrant and lightly golden, careful not to burn. Remove from oven.


Add drained green beans back to skillet and heat over low heat. Add salt, pepper, sesame oil, and lemon juice tossing to coat. Stir in almonds and heat for a few min or until warmed thoroughly.

1 Serving with
3 Greens, 1.5 Condiments, 1 Healthy Fat and 1 Optional Snack per Serving

Serve with a Leaner (no additional Healthy Fat required) or Leanest Lean (1 additional Healthy Fat required)

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