companion blog to the e-book the 24/7 Low Carb Diner

Companion blog to the e-book
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cheater's Cincinnati Chili --The Famous 3 Way

I remember back in high school, when we had an assembly with a longer than normal lunch break, my friends would load into my Mercury Comet (could tell ya a few stories about that car!) and drive across my little hometown to the Coney Islander. I never ate the coneys. I always got the 3-Way--spaghetti noodles, chili and cheese. My little restaurant did not count beans as separate. I understand true Cincinnati lovers would say I was eating a 4 way, but hey, we were a long way from Ohio! I loved it even though I usually did end up with a spot or two of chili on my shirt.

I happened to see 3-Way again recently, and that started a craving. So today, I decided to make a batch. My oldest son really liked the spice combo in the vegetarian version I used to make. The taste of Cincinnati chili is different. The spices are amped up from traditional chili. Cinnamon, Allspice and Cloves. Add those to the chili powder, cumin and coriander. But, the chili is the easy part. Where to get that spaghetti? I chose to cut some yellow squash--the last from my gardening friends. Not exactly the same, but really good in its own right. The chili would be good on it's own too.

Since it is prep day, and those are ever so important with the hours I am keeping at school, I opted for a pressure cooker version today. Full of shortcuts even. You can do the slower version and not cheat as much as I did. Either way, you will have a delicious meal. My apologies to the Cincinnati purists. Think of this version as a tribute rather than a copy. I used both ground beef and ground turkey, Cost efficient and a good way to make my grass fed beef go farther. And I even skipped the browning step. Don't do this unless you are making it in the pressure cooker like I am.

Cheater's Cincinnati Chili

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
4 cups water
14 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 packets sweetener (equivalent to 4 tsp)
3 yellow squash
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 cup Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Option 1: Brown the ground beef, turkey and chopped onion in the base of the pressure cooker or in a skillet. Drain any fat, then add the water, tomatoes, pumpkin, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, coriander, salt, garlic powder, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to full pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. After cooking, add the vinegar and sweetener. Adjust salt to taste.

Option 2:  Add the water, tomatoes, pumpkin, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, coriander, salt, garlic powder, allspice, cinnamon and cloves to the pot and stir to combine. Add frozen meats and chopped onion into the sauce. Bring cooker to full pressure and cook for 30 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally. After cooking, add the vinegar and sweetener. Adjust salt to taste.

Option 3:  Brown the ground beef, turkey and chopped onion in Dutch oven. Drain any fat, then add the water, tomatoes, pumpkin, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, coriander, salt, garlic powder, allspice, cinnamon and cloves. Simmer for an hour on stovetop. After cooking, add the vinegar and sweetener. Adjust salt to taste.

Use a julienne tool to create squash noodles. Saute them lightly in coconut oil. Divide among plates and spoon chili over the squash. Top with cheese and serve.

Serves 6:   436 calories   9 g net carbs     27 g fat     36 g protein

I ate a portion tonight, and this will make a fine lunch this week at school also. No more driving that old car on my lunch hour!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

French Chicken Under Pressure--or Not

We will be eating lots of chicken this month. My oldest son--so proud--works as an accountant for a chicken corporation. Last week he brought me a sample of some all natural, never fed animal by-products, no growth hormones, non-injected chicken breasts. All but free range, I guess. His company's best stuff. I love hearing him tell how amazingly clean the production facilities are and how high their standards are. It makes me rest easy. With this gift, I decided to devote the October Diner News to chicken. All new recipes, except that I will share a few here. Like tonight.

There are two ways to make this dish. One in the oven and the other in a pressure cooker. Tonight, I tried it in my electric pressure cooker. I love that I can start with frozen breast of chicken and end up with a delightful meal in just about 20 minutes. Oh yeah.  I popped some Brussels sprouts into the regular oven and the chicken was done first. This recipe is basically pressure steamed. Since it has a sauce coating, you don't miss the browning you get in a standard oven.  A minute under the broiler will brown it just a tad, but for a weeknight meal, why bother? The recipe version I will put in the Diner News will be for the family sized oven baked meal. Be a subscriber if you want those recipe instructions. Order here.  If you don't have an electric pressure cooker, by all means get one! I am loving mine. It also functions as a slow cooker. Plus you can brown meats and veggies in the base so you never have to dirty a skillet to brown things or reduce sauces.

French Chicken Under Pressure

2 chicken breasts, frozen or thawed
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp sugarfree maple flavored syrup
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp Herbs de Province
1 sprig rosemary, fresh or dried

Place 1 cup water in the base of the pressure cooker and place the trivet inside. In a small bowl, combine the mustard, syrup, vinegar, and Herbs de Provence. Spoon this mixture over both sides of the chicken and place each breast on the trivet. Bring to full pressure and cook 12 minutes for frozen breasts, 6 minutes for thawed. Let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then vent and remove lid. Remove chicken and plate or transfer to a hot oven for a bit of browning. Sprinkle the tops of the breasts with dried rosemary.

Serves 2 at:     146 calories      3 g carbs      26 g protein    2 g fat

The carbs on this recipe are actually a little bit lower because a bit of the sauce falls into the cooking water. If you are looking for a low calorie dish, this can't be beat. It has tons of flavor too. The Dijon is a little sophisticated, but the maple adds a sweetness that will make it a favorite with kids too. The chicken is fork tender and clean up is a breeze. No stuck on mess in a pan.

We are about to have our first cool snap of the fall season. I can hardly wait to get some time with the oven on again. Tonight's Brussels were just the start. I am so ready for all the fun fall brings!

Get more great recipes at the Low Carbing Among Friends Facebook Page:     

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Order my original e-book or the latest version for couples and singles, A Table for Two here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Angel Fire Chicken Casserole

Some like it hot. My son Pearson told me about his recent attempt at eating a Ghost pepper chicken wing--a feat he will not likely try again. It makes an amusing story listening to the tale of his manly men friends crying while they ate then running for napkins and water...this is not that. No ghosts here, just angels. Angel Fire is a place in New Mexico, I understand. The state so famous for outstanding green chile peppers. Thank you New Mexico. This casserole is outstanding! It tastes a lot like green chile enchiladas. I was going for a green chili rice base, and that is good too. The sour cream flavor is perfect, either way. This is a rich dish and needs only a little green salad on the side.

It is a little complicated if you start from scratch, but easy peasy if you are using leftovers like I did. I already had caulirice in my freezer. It is so much easier to make a lot and then freeze it. That way, I don't need to clean up the food processor as often. I also had a big batch of Green Chile Chicken Shreds made up. That is a simple crockpot dish that is useful in so many ways. Got those? This goes together in a snap.I used Green Chile Chicken Shreds. That recipe is here.

 If not, I will give the long version of the recipe here. It is the best way to make a big batch to feed a bunch. My way, and it is a good Triple Play meal to make with Southwest Shredded Beef or Tequila Chicken from Table for Two.

Angel Fire Chicken Casserole

1 medium cauliflower, grated
1 tbsp mild oil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
2 four oz cans mild green chiles
1 1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, divided use
18 oz  Green Chile Chicken Shreds or any cooked, shredded chicken

After processing cauliflower in a food processor, saute it in oil until just tender. Sprinkle with onion powder and salt.  Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in both cans of green chile, the sour cream, the eggs and 1 cup of cheese. Pour this mixture into a 13 x 9" casserole dish. Cover the top with the shredded chicken. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is brown and the egg is set in the center.

Serves 6:     483 calories    9 net carbs    28 g fat

This version was reduced to a small family serving-
the recipe will fill a larger dish.
So this casserole is not the prettiest, but it certainly tastes heavenly. Just right for the Angel Fire name.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chicken with Sweet Malt Sauce

Everyone who knows me knows that I love sweet and tart together. Like the roasted strawberries I just featured...or a good barbecue sauce. Or this. It is a little like an American barbecue sauce but with a definite European flair. I used malt vinegar as the base and no tomato. If you are gluten free, opt for apple cider or wine vinegar, and dilute it just a bit. The vinegar, famous in the UK as the accompaniment for fish and chips, is sweetened with some Swerve, and made much more interesting with the addition of some herbs and spices.

Watch when you cook the sauce, as it comes to a boiling/thickening point quickly. I made mine first, then pan fried my chicken. When I went back for the sauce, it had hardened. I almost had malt vinegar candy. Fortunately, it softened back up with just a minute on the stove top. The sauce will get very syrupy and strands will actually fall away from the spoon. Yum. No thickening agents needed at all. Must be the Swerve. I am not sure if a concentrated stevia or sucralose would perform the same.

The sauce is really highly flavored, so don't overdo. I made a recipe for two. Just me and the mister tonight. This is kinda more grown up food, so you may not plan on feeding this sauce to the kiddos. Give them some honey mustard or cheese. I was inspired by a sauce on Bon Appetit, so consider yourself a gourmet when you make this. No, not really. It is quite simple to prepare. Just the flavor profile is unusual. It reminded me of some of the medieval recipes we researched when studying that period. Vinegar was a key flavoring. Yes, I am certainly a history nerd.

Chicken with Sweet Malt Sauce

2 chicken breasts
1 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 cup malt vinegar
3 tbsp powdered Swerve
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp salt
pinch cayenne pepper

Pound the chicken breasts flat. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and pan fry until cooked through and golden. Keep warm. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, Swerve, and all herbs and spices. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until the mixture  comes to a boil and thickens. It will reduce by half or more. Spoon over chicken and serve.

Serves 2.  172 calories    <1 carb

If the photos look different, it is because I spooned the sauce over one, and spread it over the other. Do it either way you prefer.

School is going really well. It is tiring, but so rewarding. I am very excited too. I just heard that my oldest son and his beautiful bride are coming in for the Labor Day weekend. I miss them so much living a state away. I had better finish up the Diner News so I can be sure to get to spend all my time with them. Be watching for it on Sept. 1st.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Roasted Balsamic Strawberries with Coconut Pound Cake

I am trying to make the best of strawberry season while it lasts. These berries are really more versatile than you think. Have you ever roasted them? It is a great thing to do with those that might be just a little bit past their prime. That happens to me sometimes since I only have time to shop once a week. Granted, I hate turning on the oven, but this sophisticated taste is a good trade off. I have a great shop here in my hometown that sells amazing flavored balsamic vinegars. Get me in there, and I am like a kid in a candy store. They let you sample too. This time I came home with Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. Oh the places that will take an ordinary spinach salad! Frankly, I can just lick it out of the spoon. I love the maple flavor too. I just need a whole collection of little vinegar bottles to keep me happy. Thanks to my Diner and life friend Susan for introducing me. I am loving my lime flavored olive oil as well.

In case you don't have any gourmet oils and vinegars, I tried out this recipe with the standard Balsamic vinegar as well. Just as good--almost. I have eaten Balsamic Strawberries before. That old recipe was also sweetened up with brown sugar. Not now. I just used powdered Swerve. In fact, I made the roasted berries three ways. Flavored vinegar, plain Balsamic, and simple sweetened strawberries. Once roasted, they all get a syrupy consistency. I really do like the contrasting tartness of the vinegar. You may not. Try them both ways to see which you prefer.

The coconut flour pound cake is moist and very vanilla flavored. It does taste a little eggy fresh from the oven, so plan to give it some time to rest before serving this dish. The texture is wonderful, moist and not crumbly. It absorbs the juices from the strawberries and makes a delightful summer dessert. I baked mine in mini loaf pans. Half a loaf is a pretty big serving. You could also cut each loaf into thirds to lower carbs. Or just bake in cupcake size.

Roasted Balsamic Strawberries with Coconut Pound Cake

Roasted Berries:
1 lb fresh strawberries
3 tbsp powdered erythritol blend or equivalent sweetener
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

6 eggs
3/4 cup almond milk
1/3 cup vanilla sugarfree syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil (warmed)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Trim strawberries and cut into fourths (or sixths for larger berries). In a medium bowl, toss with powdered sweetener. Stir in Balsamic Vinegar if using. Place berries on a parchment covered cookie sheet with sides. Roast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk eggs. Add the almond milk, syrup and coconut oil and vanilla, whisking with each addition. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until no lumps remain. Allow the batter to rest a few minutes to thicken. Pour into 3 mini loaf pans or any dishes you choose. Batter can fill 3/4s of the baking dish. Cupcakes will work also. Bake approximately 30-40 minutes for loaves, 25 minutes for cupcake size. Test that a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cakes cool completely. Top with strawberry mixture and serve room temperature or chilled.

6 servings:  224 calories  9 net carbs

9 servings:   145 calories  5 net carbs

With the first week of classes behind me, I wanted to again thank you all who purchased my e-books and the Low Carbing Among Friends series from my links this past year. Our program might not have met the summer expenses without you. The teens back for fall semester are great and our model really meets needs for those who learn "outside the box."  I pledge all my profits directly into the school, enabling scholarships and helping with all the costs that come with education. It is rewarding but also exhausting! Here's to foods that give us unbounding energy!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beef Italian Sausage

Classes start back tomorrow. Yikes! Still so much to do. It seems like I never get everything on my list crossed off even if I work ahead. Hard to imagine where I'd be if I didn't at least try to plan.

This is a yummy treat and the thing is--these patties are versatile beyond your wildest dreams. Well, maybe not your wildest--unless you are a foodie who dreams about food. My family loves Italian sausage on pizza. This is really similar but it also works great as a breakfast sausage. I will get to all the other uses later. But think about what a timesaver you have when you have pre-cooked sausage patties waiting in the freezer. They reheat really quickly. They pack in lunchboxes super easy. Don't even have to thaw. They work for any meal of the day. Cool. These are made with beef, but pork is fine too. I happen to have run into a great sale of grass fed beef for less than 4 bucks a pound. I made 16 small breakfast patties from one pound. Not that hard, and they are fast to make.

So fast, these are in the upcoming Diner News. This edition will center around timesavers in the low carb kitchen. These are definitely that! You will want some in your freezer.

Italian Sausage Patties

1 lb lean ground beef (or your preference)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sage
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp marjoram

Combine meat with all ingredients. Form into 16 small patties. Pan fry until browned. Eat one serving and flash freeze the remaining patties. Pack into a freezer bag.

1 patty is 60 calories no carbs

If you don't like the fennel seeds which make these Italian, by all means leave them out--they will be more like a traditional breakfast sausage. So sure, these are super quick to heat up and serve with eggs for breakfast. I love the browned bits I get to scramble into the eggs after frying up the whole batch of sausage. Yum. Other mornings, they will be even quicker, though the eggs will be purely yellow. (But still delish)

Then think about all the other cool things you can do with an Italian Sausage Patty. From the upcoming Diner News, here are some of my ideas. What might you do?

Serve them so many ways!

As a breakfast slider. The small size patty pairs perfectly with a small muffin as the bread.

As an omelet filler. Warm them, dice them, and add them in the filling.

As a flavorful lunch box treat—finger food that is  wonderful even without a sauce.

As a pizza topping. Dice a bit and add to pizza for that great Italian flavor.

As mini “Meatza” pizzas. Melt a sprinkle of mozzarella and a  dab of tomato sauce on top. A few fresh, finely chopped veggies as you like.

As a protein for a super quick Italian soup. Combine some broth, tomatoes, zucchini and whatever veggies you like..

As a salad—add warm or cold to salad greens dressed with Italian dressing, tomatoes and cheese.

As a substitute for meatballs. Serve with zoodles and sauce for a nice Italian dinner.

The Diner News comes out every month for just $6 a year. There are ideas and recipes you never see here on the blog, so order your own!

I've got my prep work done--well almost. At least I won't have to worry about my lunches at school this week. The first week of classes is always a little stressful, but fun too. Here we go...

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pizza Burger Patties

School will start again soon around here. Just a week and I am going to have to be super organized again. Either that, or give up eating all together. Sometimes I think that would be easier, but then I love to eat and my hunger always wins. Since my son (and partner) decided to leave the school last spring, I am pretty much left to run the place with just my few volunteers. We are going to make it, but I suspect that the first few weeks will be a bit stressful. Therefore, I am making monthly menus this weekend rather than a weekly one. Fewer things to think about means less stress. Planning really does make a healthy lifestyle possible--for me it is essential.

For the Diner News for September, I have planned a theme of Time Savers. Today's recipe is one of those. I make a big batch of these tasty burger patties. We ate a couple and the rest went into the freezer. Now when the busy weeks of school start up, I will be able to grab a burger patty for my lunch at school and John's at the radio station. These can go with a salad, cut up veggies or even a cup of soup. Good meal guaranteed with so little effort.

These are not boring burger patties. They are good with absolutely no additional condiments. The herbs and garlic, tomatoes and cheese make them so appealing. I used dehydrated tomato pieces, and you could sub sun dried if you prefer. Then there is that pepperoni flavor. Oh yeah. You could add in some bell peppers or mushrooms too if ya like. Today, I served some garden fresh zucchini and tomatoes as a simple saute on the side. With summer fresh produce, simple is better because the veggies are so naturally flavorful. Beautiful dark red home grown tomatoes.

 I am working on some ideas for make ahead  T.V. dinners too. These patties would be a great candidate for those too I think. Be looking to see all I come up with in the September Diner News.

Pizza Burger Patties

2 lb lean ground beef
4 oz pepperoni, finely diced
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp minced onion
2 tbsp Italian Herb blend
2 tbsp dried tomatoes
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Combine beef, pepperoni, cheese, onions, herbs, tomatoes and garlic powder. Use your hands to mix the flavorings into the meat very well. Divide meat into 8 equal portions. Form into patties. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or grill. Top hot patties with 2 tbsp shredded Mozzarella cheese. Serve or cool and wrap to freeze.

Serves 8:   397 calories  2 g carbs

I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who have ordered books and the Diner News from me this summer. Because of you, I was able to keep our school building and get the rent paid on time. Your support has been my saving grace. To those of you who donated directly, may God bless you a hundred fold.

I will continue to use my book sales for the school. No one is taking a salary yet, and I am hoping to at least offer some small stipends this year to my tutors. We have some new teens coming this year, and I am so excited about the difference we are going to be able to make for them. If you think your small contribution wouldn't make a difference, think again! I see it everyday.

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