Low-Carb Appetizer: Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

Appetizers, Herbs, Low-carb, My Tasteful Life, Party Planning, tips, vegetables

Do you ever have one of those fun and busy weeks that by Sunday afternoon you feel like you need another weekend? That’s how last week was for me. There were dinners out during the week, farmers’ market and a cookout with friends on Saturday, and then I spent Sunday helping out around my mom’s house.

By Sunday evening, I had no energy to cook and no desire to eat out. That’s when a stocked refrigerator is my best friend. Ummm … what do I have that isn’t a lot of work, that’s tasty, and that isn’t too far off from Paleo?

I found some sopressata (Italian dry cured pork similar to hard salami), a block of Irish cheddar cheese (I know it’s not Paleo but my house would revolt without a little cheese), and three fresh zucchinis from the farmer’s market. In my pantry, I located a can of olives and a bag of pistachios. IMG_3050

A cheese and meat board is simple and delicious, but I used this opportunity to do  something new with the zucchini. Since I wasn’t making a full dinner, I decided to try my hand at Zucchini Parmesan Crisps.

This simple recipe had been floating around the web for a while, and now was a perfect chance to try something new while sneaking veggies into my charcuterie and cheese plate.

On my first attempt, I was able to create a delicious and surprisingly healthy finger food. However, the zucchini rounds didn’t quite get crispy enough for my liking, probably because zucchinis naturally contain a lot of water. Don’t get me wrong – we ate all three zucchinis’ worth. However, I couldn’t help but think a slightly alternative prep work could have yielded a more delicate and crunchy texture.

Round two was more successful and that recipe is below. Make it tonight for a low-carb appetizer or keep it in mind the next time you need a vegetable to round out a meal or a table of finger foods.

Tools You’ll Need

Paper towel or hand towel

Baking sheets

Parchment paper or baking mat

Basting brush


3 medium to large zucchinis, sliced into 1/8” to 1/4″ thick rounds (this is a great time to use a mandolin slicer)   IMG_3018

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons your choice of herb (I use chives, parsley or basil)

1 scallion, green and white parts, chopped

1 teaspoon pepper, freshly cracked

1/4 cup Kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix cheese with pepper and herbs, set aside.

In a single layer, spread the zucchini rounds on a large paper towel or clean hand towel. Generously sprinkle the kosher salt over the zucchini. The salt helps draw out the moisture in the zucchini, which will help make it crisper.

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After 10-15 minutes, pat the zucchini dry, removing the majority of the salt. Then line a baking sheet with either the parchment paper or the baking mat, and place the zucchini rounds in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Using a basting brush, lightly spread the oil on top of the rounds. Then sprinkle with the cheese mixture. Bake on the center or upper third rack for about 30 minutes until they are crisp but not burned. Serve immediately and enjoy.

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Calling All Carnivores: Hot Roast Beef

Hoagies, Paleo, Party Planning, Roast Beef, Slow cooker, sunday supper

My hot roast beef hoagies are the perfect entree when serving a hungry group. You only have to do a little preparation, and then the slow cooker does the rest. This recipe works for any casual occasion and always impresses. IMG_0900

My only warning is that people may ask for seconds. The last time I made this for a get-together, I was hoping to have leftovers for the next night, but all three and a half pounds of meat were gone! Ask your guests to bring some side dishes or pick up some pre-made items to help complement the meal without adding extra work for yourself.

If you’re making this for a group adhering to Paleo, then serve the roast beef with roasted vegetables. The meat is delicious no matter what, but I’ve found that my guests are less interested in the Paleo lifestyle than I am, at least not during a party.

Make this once and it will become a go-to recipe. It’s simple, delicious and the leftovers (if there are any) are just as good the next day. Store the meat separately from the cheese and rolls, then reheat it on low in either the slow cooker, in a pot on the stove or in the microwave. Assemble the hoagies when the beef is warmed to your liking and enjoy!


Slow cooker


4-pound beef rump roast or shoulder roast

1 medium white onion, quartered

1/4 cup Herbes de Provence (A mix of herbs typically containing rosemary, marjoram, savory, thyme, oregano and lavender. It’s a spice blend that is available at most grocery stores, and you can click here if you want to make some yourself.) 

1-ounce envelope Lipton dried onion soup mix

15-ounce can beef broth

12-ounce bottle light beer

2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

12-16 slices provolone cheese

6-8 crusty rolls


Trim any visible excess fat from the beef. Generously season the roast with the 1/4 cup Herbes de Provence. Sear beef (3 minutes a side) in oil over medium-high heat. Place beef in the slow cooker. Surround with onion.

Combine the onion soup mix, broth and beer in large bowl. Use that mixture to cover the beef and onions and cook on high for 6 to 8 hours.

Remove roast from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. Remove 1-1/2 cups of cooking liquid and reserve for au jus. Return beef to the slow cooker and mix well with the remaining liquid.

Slice the rolls in half. Place two slices of cheese inside each roll and fill with beef and onions. Serve with au jus on the side and enjoy!

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Friends, Final Four and Fried Ravioli

Appetizers, Final Four, Fried Ravioli, Party Planning

The Final Four basketball games are this weekend, and I am sure many people are having friends over to watch the excitement. At my house, that means finger foods and heavy appetizers, including my fried ravioli.  IMG_0887

I stumbled upon this decedent first course after throwing it together for an impromptu potluck dinner with friends a few weeks ago. The host was making the main dish, someone else was given the salad duties, and I was asked to bring an appetizer. Since I knew we were eating Italian food, I wanted to make sure whatever I brought went with the meal.

I didn’t have time (or the desire) to run to the store. I checked my refrigerator and pantry and realized I had some ravioli that I hadn’t used for one reason or another. I also had eggs, breadcrumbs, half and half and oil, so I decided to try my hand at fried ravioli. Even though I’d never made it before, I figured it couldn’t be that difficult.

I was right! It was easy and delicious. Everyone loved it, especially the children. They didn’t even seem to notice they were eating artichoke-filled ravioli. One of the great things about this recipe is that you can use any type of fresh ravioli. Try it with traditional cheese or meat, or branch out and use a vegetable-filled pasta.

By fresh, I mean “not frozen.” You don’t have to make homemade pasta, but you do need to purchase the ravioli you see in cold cases, like Buitoni or something similar from your local grocery store. You also want to look for medium to large ravioli because the small ones don’t have enough filling to hold up against the breading.

Really happy with the results, I’m adding this fried ravioli recipe to my appetizer rotation. I used some vodka sauce I had leftover as the “dipping” sauce, but you can use any marinara or jarred tomato sauce. This recipe isn’t Paleo, and it isn’t very healthy, but we all deserve a little indulgence now and then, especially during March Madness.


A candy or baking thermometer. If you’re looking for a good one, click here.

Ingredients     IMG_0867

10-14 large ravioli

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup half and half (milk can be used as a substitute)

1/2 cup marinara or tomato sauce

Vegetable oil



In a medium to large shallow pot, add enough oil to reach a depth of 2”. Turn heat to medium-high and heat to 325 degrees. *Tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, then you can test the oil by tossing in a small piece of bread. If it doesn’t bubble much, then the oil isn’t ready. If it bubbles quickly and browns the bread within 5 seconds, then it’s too hot. 

Combine the egg and half and half in one bowl, and combine the Italian and panko breadcrumbs in another.

Dip each ravioli into the egg and half and half mixture, and then dredge in the bread crumbs, being sure to coat completely.

When the oil is ready, fry the ravioli in batches. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. Gently turn them until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the hot ravioli to paper towels to drain excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Serve with tomato sauce of your choice.

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