Poblanos and Beef Casserole Keto Meal

I’m writing this recipe down so I can remember how to make it again. It began with the idea to make stuffed poblano peppers, but I decided to layer them in a casserole dish. These are not hot peppers. They are flavorful and relatively cheap to buy.

poblano peppers
Poblano peppers add flavor without heat

I seldom follow a recipe exactly, but the beef and peppers sounded good, so I began there. I bought Florida grown peppers and used ground beef from the local meat market. I also decided to add leftover stew beef (from cooking my broth) along with mushrooms, onions and garlic.

I’d cooked a spaghetti squash the day before and figured the two would work together. No pasta for me, and not for anyone on a Keto diet plan. But this meal would be delicious served over pasta as well.

spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash

Making the Meal

Slice poblanos in half and remove seeds. Roast both sides of the peppers in oiled / ghee pan – cast iron. (It may not be necessary to roast the peppers, but I did it.) Place in the bottom of a rectangular casserole dish. The peppers added a wonderful flavor to this dish, so don’t skip them.

Cook ground beef and add chopped onion and garlic when the meat is nearly cooked. After cooking, remove meat and create a layer over the peppers.

Slice a whole container of mushrooms and cook with more onions and some garlic. When done, stir in one can of organic tomato sauce. Add a spoonful of sugar (coconut sugar next time?) to cut the acidity. Dash of spices, such as parsley, basil and oregano. Scoop this out and layer over the meat in the casserole dish.

Shred mozzarella cheese and sprinkle over the top. Bake (covered for part of the time – my cheese dried out) at 350 for 20- 30 minutes until bubbly.

Carbs in this meal, approximately

I estimate that there are approximately 46 grams of carbs in this entire casserole, which means a portion (1/8 of the dish) would contain around 6 grams total. Plus add in a cup of squash = 16 grams or so per serving. I could be off a little bit, but you get the general idea. This is a Keto friendly meal.

  • Ground beef – no carbs, 19 g protein
  • Mushrooms – yes, good for Keto
  • Poblano Peppers – 1 net gram in one pepper
  • Onions -have some carbs, 14 g in one onion – I used only a few slices
  • Garlic – 1 clove, .9 grams
  • Tomato sauce – Organic, 6 g in 1/4 cup
  • Mozzarella cheese – 1 gram or less per serving size
  • Spaghetti squash – 8-10 g, 1 cup
Keto ground beef casserole
This had excellent flavor

Because I am following a time restricted eating program, I only eat two meals a day. This one would be around a total of 22 grams of carbs. If I eat well at breakfast, I can stay under the 50 grams or less recommended for a Keto diet plan.

Photo credit for the squash and peppers goes to Pixabay.

Me and PKD and Hope

Today I realized that Dr. Thomas Weimbs has discovered in his research on curing PKD that diet (ketosis) and fasting may be the answer. He published papers on the results of his experiments in Fall 2019.

In 2011 I had appendicitis, and while in the ER, a doctor told me I had lots of cysts on my kidneys. He asked me if anyone in my family had polycystic kidney disease. This is the first time I had ever heard of this disease, and the fact that I had this problem was news to me.

At the time I was more concerned with my current problem of appendicitis, so I pushed the kidney news to the back of my brain.

Eventually I discovered that I had high blood pressure, and that the kidneys regulated that. Since my kidneys were becoming saturated with cysts, what hope did I have of fixing my BP? I began taking Lisinopril. I also learned that my form of kidney disease was incurable. This was depressing to say the least.

The news explained why I’d never been able to achieve that “hourglass figure” many women long for. My waistline was always too big. Kidneys grow to huge sizes because of these cysts, which expands our mid-section. No amount of exercise or effort will help. I am destined to look pregnant for the rest of my life.

And if that isn’t bad enough, my kidneys could eventually fail. This means dialysis or even death. You can’t live without functioning kidneys.

I decided not to give up and began searching for more information about CKD and PKD. There was no hope out there. The PKD website raised money had sponsored “walks for the cure”. They have dietary guidelines and lots of info about how to deal with the disease, but offer no hope for actual help. So, for me, and millions of others I suspect, all we could do was wait for a pill to make us better. And of course we are supposed to go to a doctor and dietician and monitor ourselves for worsening.

But today while searching around once again for the food I should avoid, I came across this page with the title, “Reversing Polycystic Kidney Disease“. Reversing?? I gobbled up that page and my smile must have been a mile wide by the time I finished. I fell instantly in love with the two men who discovered this and offered me hope. And that hope for help did not come in the form of a pill, but in diet and fasting. Two things I could easily do.

Starting tomorrow.

Sourdough Bread Starter Adventure

Bread is something I eat sparingly, but I love the idea of baking my own bread. I’ve done it before and I’ve even used starter before, but that was many years ago. The starter I used back then had sugar in it and it made the most delicious loaves of bread. These days I avoid sugar and carbs… so let’s make bread!

I figured why not begin a starter again? The first time, the starter was given to me, so I didn’t have to begin it myself. I just fed it and used it to bake.

The first starter I tried was Paul Hollywood’s apple starter (and watched a video about it too), which called for 4 cups of flour. It ended up a disaster, and I threw it away. Do not cover your starter tightly… the gasses have to be able to escape. The top of that starter was looking pinkish after a few days, and that is not good.

After looking around online, and finding so much conflicting advice about starter, I jumped in and did what I thought might work, using less flour to begin with. A lot less. This sourdough page at SeriousEats would have helped me quite a bit – if only I’d come across it weeks ago.

sourdough starter
Overnight this starter doubled – after building it for 10 days – and was the end product which I used to bake my bread.

I put my largest, and last, batch of starter into this big blue container. I didn’t get a photo the next morning, but it had risen about an inch and looked good. It was ready to use.

Here We Go

If you are ever interested in beginning a starter and making some bread, I will be listing exactly what I did right here on this page. I’m writing this for myself also, as a reminder of my sourdough starter adventure and the things I would change if I ever make this bread again. That’s right, it’s a lot of work and mess, so unless this bread is something super fabulous (the dough is rising as I write), I will not make this bread recipe again! But… I may use this starter to make another type of bread, like that sweet bread I used to make.

Making the starter is a bit messy also, but may be worth it depending on how the bread is.

This is what I did, mistakes and all.

  • DAY 1: To begin the starter, mix 1 Cup regular, unbleached flour (I used regular flour for all feedings), 1 Cup warm water, a little honey. (The honey was my choice, you don’t need it.) Pour into a mason jar (2 cup, wide mouth) and cover with lid and saran or wax paper, with a few holes in the top. The starter sits out on the countertop – not refrigerated.
  • DAY 2: Do nothing but observe. By the afternoon it was up about an inch. I put a little piece of food label tape on the side of the jar to mark the level. That way I could see if it was rising or not.
  • DAY 3: Stirred. Removed 1/2 cup starter and dumped out the rest. Mixed with 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water and a little honey. Dumped back into Mason jar. It began to separate with liquid on top, so I stirred it. At this point I was not adding enough flour, I assumesee Day 5.
  • DAY 4: AM – Did feeding as above, Day 3. Fed again at night by stirring in 1 spoonful of flour. Didn’t figure out the ratio until Day 5.
  • DAY 5: Discovered that the ratio should be (according to someplace online) to mix equal measurements of starter and water, and then double that for the flour. Mixed 1/2 cup of starter (discarded remainder), 1/2 C. water, and 1 Cup flour. Starter was bubbly, not much rise.
  • DAY 6: Same as day 5. Once I began adding more flour, I didn’t have the “hooch” liquid on top again. The liquid forming means that the starter is hungry and needs to be fed.
  • DAY 7: Same, remove 1/2 c. starter and mix with 1/2 cup water, 1 c. flour and put back into a container. I switched out Mason jars at some point to wash the first one. The starter was not rising much, so this mason jar (2 cup) was the perfect size.
  • DAY 8: Saw a bigger rise in the AM. Saved more starter since I need 2 1/3 cups of starter for the bread recipe, and the starter seems ready. This time I removed 1 cup starter to mix with 1 cup water, and 2 cups flour. I left this in the bowl I mixed it in and covered for overnight.
  • DAY 9: In the PM I did the same as day 8, mixing 1:1:2, and adding a little honey. I put it into a big plastic container. The leftover starter did not get thrown away this time – I put it into a mason jar, covered tightly, to store in the fridge. It will have to be fed once a week to stay good.
  • DAY 10: 9:00AM – Made the dough, combining 2 1/3 C. starter, 3 1/3 C. bread flour, and scant Tbsp. salt. See the video / recipe on YouTube.

The ingredients were mixed together with a spoon then turned out onto a mat to knead. This dough was extremely sticky. Ridiculously sticky! It stuck to the mat, to my hands, and although I put flour down constantly, it would turn sticky again quickly. By the way, you will use LOADS OF WATER to rinse everything off. I ended up taking my pastry mat outside to hose it down. Here’s a video about sticky dough and how to knead it. I definitely need a scraper.

Because this dough was so godawful sticky this whole experience turned me off. I enjoy kneading dough, but this stuff was not fun. Clean up is pretty awful as well. Every bowl, mat, utensil, and measuring cup must be rinsed thoroughly or washed immediately.

I kneaded it for 20 minutes, cut it in half, shaped the dough and put in Ghee-greased bread pans. Now the 2 pans are covered with towels for the loaves to rise. Next I will bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

two loaves made with sourdough starter
Looks bad, tastes good

After waiting for ten hours, and also using the Proof setting on my oven for a couple hours, the bread did not rise much. I baked it anyway and got two relatively flat loaves. It is edible and certainly tastes homemade. I can taste the sourness and toasted it would be delicious.

My plan is to slice and freeze it, after I make some french toast for breakfast. Bread keeps for 3-6 months in the freezer.

A Blooming Orchid and Hydrangea Update

The other day we had a massive storm, with a tornado touchdown just west of where we live. It brought 4.5 inches of water, which filled the drainage ditches and low-lying areas. In Florida, rainwater seeps away into the ground fairly quick and we can handle that amount of rain.

As I was picking up overturned plants and inspecting my gardens, I discovered that my old orchid plant had a stem full of buds! I have two orchid plants that sit outside in the shade of a bigger shrub. Orchids appreciate the humidity, but don’t like direct sunlight. That is the extent of my orchid knowledge, and I moved them outdoors where they can get what they need.

blooming orchid with pink flower
Finally – blooming again

This orchid was a gift from my daughter many years ago when she was a little girl. I’ve kept it, and traveled all over New Hampshire with it in all my moves. Now I (and it) are back in Florida, and the plant seems to be happier. I can’t remember when it bloomed last.

Just behind where the orchid sits in the garden is my hydrangea! It has really grown, but there are no flowers. See my first hydrangea photos here. It remained quite small for a while, but now it is taking off. Maybe the roots have taken hold, and the fertilizer has kicked in.

Florida outdoor hydrangea shrub
Florida outdoor hydrangea shrub

Did you notice my little croton starter plants in the photo above? I have four across the front of the garden (three in the photo). I rooted them from cuttings.

The wind blew the banana tree over a bit so now the bunch of bananas growing is reachable.

banana tree with bunch of bananas
Drooping bunch of bananas