By Denise Swogetinsky

Special to The Messenger
Going out of town and don't want to leave your family to fun for themselves in that low carb world?

Or, do you just want to grab something and throw it in the oven with little or no prep time?

If you don't have time to cook a good meal because of softball, baseball or other practices, here is a solution.  Make these meals ahead and freeze them for no worry cooking. Remember, planning and moderation are the key to healthy eating.

 

Easy Cheesy Low-Carb Meatball

Artichoke Casserole
33 oz. jar artichoke hearts packed in water

2 lb. package pre-cooked chicken meatballs 

2 tsp. olive oil

24 oz. jar low-sugar pasta sauce 

2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese

 

Dump the artichoke hearts into a colander placed in the sink and let the water drain out while you brown the meatballs. (I turned each artichoke heart so the open side was down and the maximum amount of water could drain out).

Preheat oven to 375F/190C.

Spray a casserole dish (9″ x 13″ or close to that size) with non-stick spray.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the meatballs, and cook over medium-high heat, turning a few times, or until all the meatballs are nicely browned.  (Browning the meatballs is probably optional, but we thought it added flavor. You may need to brown them in two batches if you don’t have a large enough frying pan.)

Put the browned meatballs in the bottom of the casserole dish.Wipe artichoke hearts dry with paper towels and cut each one into half or fourths, depending on how big they are.

Put the artichoke hearts over the meatballs in the casserole dish.

You can simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes to cook off some of the water if you want to; we made this both ways and although when we didn’t simmer the sauce there was a tiny bit of water in the bottom, we felt it wasn’t worth the extra step of reducing the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the artichokes and meatballs. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the dish is bubbling hot and the cheese is nicely browned.

Serve hot.I haven’t tried freezing this, but it did keep in the fridge for several days and and reheated well.

 

Low Carb Zucchini Bake with Feta and Thyme

4 medium-sized yellow or green summer squash, or a mixture of colors, sliced lengthwise and then into 

1/4 inch slices (about 8 cups sliced squash)

1 T olive oil 

1 T minced garlic

2 T fresh thyme leaves or 1 T dried thyme 

2 large eggs

1/3 cup sour cream

1 cup crumbled feta, plus a few tablespoon more for the top if desired

2 T grated Parmesan cheese

1 T lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 375F/190C.

Spray a 2-Quart glass rectangular casserole dish (or any 2 quart casserole dish) with non-stick spray or olive oil.

Wash and dry squash, then cut off stem and blossom end and discard.

Cut squash lengthwise in half, then slice into half-moon slices about 1/4 inch thick. (I used a Mandoline Slicer with the 7mm blade to get nice even slices, but you can use a knife.)

Heat olive oil in large non-stick frying pan, add garlic and thyme leaves and cook about 45 seconds over medium-high heat (just long enough to season the oil, don’t let the garlic brown.)Add squash slices and cook about 4 minutes, turning a few times. Squash should be barely starting to soften.

While squash cooks, break eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup and beat until egg yolks and whites are combined.Stir in sour cream, Feta, Parmesan, and lemon juice.

Layer half the squash in the dish, then season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. (Remember the Feta is salty, so it won’t need a lot of salt.)

Pour over half the egg-feta mixture and use the back of a spoon or a rubber scraper to spread it over the squash.Repeat with another layer of squash, seasoning again and covering with the rest of the Feta-egg mixture.

Sprinkle a few tablespoons of crumbled Feta over the top if desired.

Bake at 375F/190C for 40-45 minutes, or until the mixture is bubbling, slightly set, and top if lightly browned.

Serve hot. This will keep in the fridge for a day or two, although it’s best freshly made. For best results, I recommend reheating in a toaster oven. Do not freeze.

 

Low Carb 
Mozzarella 
Meatballs
 4 mozzarella string cheese sticks, quartered
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

1 clove garlic

2 green onions

1.5-2 lbs ground beef (I used 85/15)

1/4 cup almond flour

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1-2 eggs



Cut mozzarella sticks into quarters and freeze pieces for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, add Parmesan, garlic, and green onions to a little food chopper or food processor and blend until finely ground. In a separate large bowl, combine ground beef, Parmesan cheese mixture, almond flour, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and egg. (Note: If your meatballs aren't sticking together well, just add another egg -- depending on the size of your eggs, the amount of ground beef, or who knows what, my meatballs sometimes use one & sometimes take two.)

Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Flatten ground beef mixture into 16 disks, spaced evenly across both cookie sheets. Place one piece of mozzarella in the middle of each and roll into a ball, covering the cheese completely on all sides. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through, flipping your cookie sheets around halfway through. Make a couple of batches of these and freeze. When you want spaghetti squash and meatballs, just pop these into your marinara sauce and you're set.

 

 Freezable Low Carb Breakfast Burritos

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup onions chopped

1/3 cup sweet peppers chopped

1/4 lb breakfast sausage

4 eggs

1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded

1/2 cup baby spinach chopped

 

Heat up your oil in a sauté pan with a medium heat. Add your onions and sauté for a few minutes. Add your peppers and sausage and cook until the sausage is cooked.

Take off the heat and add your spinach.

Stir until the spinach is wilted and let cool. In another small fry pan, add some cooking spray and heat to a medium high. Add 1 well beaten egg to the pan and swirl to coat the whole pan. As the egg starts to set, swirl again to get the egg evenly around the pan.

When almost cooked, careful flip the egg over and sprinkle the cheese over the top evenly. Cook for just one minute and slide onto a plate. Add 1/4 of your sausage mixture to the egg "tortilla" and fold. Place on a small cookie sheet. Repeat the egg process with your remaining 3 eggs so you have 3 burritos. Transfer the burritos to a cookie sheet and place into the freezer for 2 hours or until the burritos are frozen. Take them out and wrap individually with wax paper and place in a zip lock bag. Store in the freezer. To cook, place in the microwave and cook 1-2 minutes.