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

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Halloween Tamale Pie

I got inspired by an offering on the Woman's Day site--a cute little tamale pie made to look like a Jack-o-lantern. Being the girly girl I am, I love cute food. That recipe has 4 boxes of cornbread mix in it and a special cake pan. Neither one of those was happening.

But I didn't give up on the idea. Thinking of my Mexican Cornbread...Sans Corn recipe, I decided it was worth a trial run to convert this fun dish into a low carb celebration. A few changes here and there, and I have a winner!

Halloween Tamale Pie

1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp finely minced onion
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup salsa
1/3 cup shredded cheese

1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup golden flax meal
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1/4 cup salsa
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup shredded cheese
2 tbsp water

In a skillet, brown the ground beef with the onion. Drain off any fat. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder until spices are evenly distributed. Add the salsa and cheese to combine, Set the mixture aside.

In a medium bowl, combine almond meal, golden flaxmeal, paprika and baking powder. Make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well and mix with a fork to break the yolks. Stir to combine the eggs and dry ingredients. When no lumps remain, add the olive oil and salsa. Stir well, then add cheese.

Coat a quiche pan or large round cake pan with oil. Pour half of the batter into the dish. Using the back of an oiled spoon, spread the batter to cover the base. Form an edge similar to a pie crust. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven.

Place the beef mixture into the partially baked crust. Do not go to the edge. Smooth the meat with a spatula to compact it for easier spreading of the remaining batter. Add the 2 tablespoons of water to the remaining batter to thin it. Spoon batter over the beef. Use the back of the oiled spoon to smooth it and create an even thickness. Return the dish to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let the pie cool for 30 minutes. Invert the contents carefully onto a serving plate. Decorate with a green bell pepper stem. Cut a bell pepper into triangles for eyes and nose, and mouth as seen in the photo. Reheat the Jack-o-lantern in the microwave oven or a warm oven to bring back to serving temperature.

Serves 6   357 calories   3 net carbs (8 total)   23 g fat

The base after partial baking. See the edge?

My Pitty Tinker hoping for some of that beefy filling.

After baking with the batter baked over the beef,

So that is pretty darn easy. Just be sure to let it cool or the bready part will crumble when you try to remove it. Yes, I discovered that the hard way. Mine tore, so I added in some more cheese and melted it back together. I let it cool, then ran my spatula under it to loosen the base. No more problems. If you don't want to mess with inverting it, just serve it in the pan. In that case, just press the face into the top layer. (And do a better job covering the beef) I have not eaten this yet, I have it saved for tomorrow night's dinner with my middle boy at home. It smells amazing and I did nibble on the beef.

Even though my boys are all grown up, I still love to have fun with food. I have several Halloween themed foods to share with you this week.  One of these days the grandchildren will appreciate the way I like to create in the kitchen. Until then, I guess being around the teenagers keeps me young at heart.

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

 Order any of our great cookbooks at

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin Fudge Mini Loaf

It's October and I can't get enough pumpkin!

This year, I remembered a little experiment from last fall that I never got around to perfecting. Better late than never. It involved an inspiration from Chocolate Covered Katie, and her pie made with pumpkin and chocolate chips. Instead of pie filling, I used the chocolatey mixture to top pumpkin doughnuts. Very yummy indeed. Sadly, last year's experiment was made with a blend of sugarfree chocolate chips and a few real dark chocolate chips.  No, I did not plan ahead ( I love to play in the kitchen much more than truly cook.) That worked, but the carbs were too high.

So planning ahead this year, I finally made the version I promised last year. No sugary chocolate chips, no maltitol based chips to give you tummy rumbles. I used unsweetened chocolate and added my own sweeteners. Now, this is really a personal thing when it comes to sweetness and chocolate: I happen to love dark chocolate. Yours may need to be sweeter. Just don't eat the whole batch while you adjust the sweetness! Unless you are too lazy to make the pumpkin loaf. In that case, go ahead and eat all that frosting.

This year, I made a mini loaf for me and my honey. This little loaf is just right for 2. I like those mini loaf pans I pick up on sale at Michael's Crafts Store. If you don't have those, aim for two big muffins or three regular muffins.

Pumpkin Fudge Mini Loaf

Quickbread base:
1/4 cup ground golden flax
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp erythritol blend or equivalent sweetener
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs
4 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tbsp butter

Fudge frosting:
1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
2 tsp erythritol blend sweetener or equivalent

In a medium bowl, blend flaxmeal, coconut flour, sweetener, baking powder, spice and salt. Stir in eggs and pumpkin puree. Melt butter in the loaf pan to coat sides. Pour the remaining butter into the batter until incorporated. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

While that is baking, melt the chocolate in an ovenproof bowl or in the microwave. When chocolate is liquified, stir in pumpkin puree and sweetener. Mixture will thicken as it cools.

Remove loaf from oven and let it cool at least 10 minutes. Spread the chocolate fudge mixture over the top of the cake.

Serves 2.    287 calories   7 net carbs   21 g fat

Those goodies from last year are worth another look too.

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

 Order any of our great cookbooks at

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Broccoli Cheese and Chicken Soup

This is a recipe from the October Diner News. I don't share all the recipes from my newsletter here on the blog and at Low Carbing Among Friends. This one was going to be just for my newsletter subscribers, but I was enjoying the leftovers so much, I just had to share. This soup is seriously delicious.

I love the addition of the tender chicken. That makes it an entire meal, and it is filling too. Creamy and cheesy. Pure comfort for a fall day. (even though we are still sweating with upper 80s here in OK)  I promise that this is one of those dishes that will make your carbivore friends jealous. The October Diner News is 8 pages of recipes and ideas for the low carb cook. It is a bargain at just $6 a year. Order here:

 Broccoli, Cheese and Chicken Soup

4 cups water
6 cups fresh broccoli flowerets
8 oz chicken breast
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste

Break broccoli crowns into flowerets. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces while heating water In a Dutch oven. When water comes to a boil, add the broccoli crowns and diced chicken. Cover and cook 10 minutes.

Remove half of the broccoli flowerets and  a cup of broth. Puree and return to the pot.

Reduce heat to simmer and stir in the cream cheese and half and half. When that is melted, add Parmesan and shredded cheddar. Stir until all cheese are incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6:    357 calories   8 g carbs   28 g fat

This recipe makes a really thick soup. Feel free to 
add more water or chicken broth if you prefer a thinner soup.

Look at some of the other recipes featured in this month's Diner News:

Chicken Parmagiano Meatloaf
Chicken Spinach and Artichoke Casserole
Euro Chicken
Orange Chicken
Bacon Ranch Chicken
Yummy, huh?  Those are not even all the new recipes in this month's Diner News, so order yours today!

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

 Order any of our great cookbooks at

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Shots

So it is fall. Yippee, my favorite time of the year! It is about time I came up with a new fall recipe.
Pumpkin. Oh yeah.
Salted caramel. Yes.
Cheesecake?  You bet!
Easy. Of course.

What I love most is the no bake part. No, I think I love the taste the most. You try it and decide. Now I did use a couple of specialty products here. One reason is that I simply don't have tons of time in the kitchen these days. So you can make some substitutions, or you can make sure you have these two products on hand.

1. Walden Farms Caramel Dip. You could make your own, but that can be a tad complicated. This works. It is super sweet to me, so I cut back on the sweetener in the cheesecake portion.

2. Gingerbread flavored sugar free syrup. Mine happens to be Jordan's Skinny Syrups. You can use any brand you can find--Da Vinci for example. It doesn't have to be gingerbread flavor, but that certainly was nice. It makes the almonds taste like a crunched up cookie.

These are dessert shots. Very rich and no big portions. Just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Shots

4 oz neufchatel cheese, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tbsp erythritol blend
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 tbsp almond meal
1 tbsp sugarfree Gingerbread syrup
4 tbsp Walden Farms Caramel Dip
pinch Kosher salt

Combine neufchatel cheese and pumpkin puree. Stir in erythritol blend and pumpkin pie spice. Mix with hand blender until smooth. In a small bowl, combine almond meal and gingerbread syrup. Spread onto a cookie sheet and toast for about 5 minutes until browned and lightly crisp. (I used my toaster oven at about 350.)

Divide the almond crumbs among the bottoms of 4 small dessert cups or shot glasses. If using narrow shot glasses, transfer the pumpkin cheesecake mixture into a sandwich bag. Snip the end and fill the glasses half way with the cheesecake. Spoon about 1 1/2 tsp of caramel sauce over the cheesecake. Use the remaining cheesecake mixture to fill the glasses, reserving enough for a decorative dollop for each. Top with additional caramel dip and sprinkle with a very tiny pinch of kosher salt. Add the decorative dollop of pumpkin mixture. Chill and serve.

Serves 4:     110 calories   4 net carbs    9 g fat

You might want to top these mini desserts with whipped cream, but I didn't have any. If I was making them for a festive meal, I would definitely do that. These are good enough for company, I'd say. Hubby liked them and he is not a huge pumpkin pie guy. I still have a lot of the caramel dip. It is not as sticky and gooey as the full sugar variety, but the taste is better than I expected. It definitely lends a great flavor to this dessert.

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

 Order any of our great cookbooks at

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sweet Cashew Chicken

I haven't forgotten you all, I promise! Running the school is zapping all my time and energy. I have so many more hats to wear since my son is no longer my partner running the school. I do have a great new family who has come into our learning community. Without them, I would not have been able to do it. We have certainly had our challenges this year so far, and October is not even quite here yet. Whew! Working with teens is quite a roller coaster ride.

Speaking of October--that is also where I have been. Putting together all the new recipes for the Diner News is quite a task. We have some really great new chicken dishes this month. In fact. the whole issue is devoted to that versitile bird. Afterall, October is the month to do the chicken dance at Octoberfest. Did the chicken dance at school today and the teens just looked at us so weird. Not that unusual for them to look at us like that though.

With all the recipe testing, I can say I am ready for some beef. Seems like the bird has been on the menu all the time this past month. Now, you can make room on your menu for some new chicken dishes too. If you want all the recipes, be sure to head over to the Diner order page. Just $6 bucks a year, and 8 pages each month. Great deal.

I have one new recipe for a low calorie Orange Chicken. That is wonderful, but the hubby is a big fan of Cashew Chicken. I came up with this one for him. It is sweet and mild and low calorie too. I made mine with my Gingerbread flavored coffee sweetener. I figured, most Asian recipes have ginger, so give it a try. Delish. If you don't have that one, go for caramel flavor. It is not overpowering either way, but the touch of sweetness is great. If you don't use any of those flavorings, just sub some of the sweetener you like to equal the sweetness of 2 tablespoons sugar.

Also, if you don't do xanthan gum, you can sub any thickener or leave it out entirely. I won't be exactly the same, but it will be tasty. Soy works for Tamari too. Now straight from the October 2012 Low Carb Diner News:

Sweet Cashew Chicken

3 tbsp water
2  tbsp Caramel or Gingerbread flavored sugarfree syrup
1 1/2 tbsp Tamari
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2  tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
12 oz chicken breast, cut into cubes
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp minced garlic
2 cups broccoli flowerets                                                                  

1/2 small bell pepper, cut into cubes
1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts

In a bullet blender, combine water, syrup, tamari, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce and xanthan gum. Process until smooth and set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a wok or skillet, Add the garlic and chicken. Stir-fry the chicken until the surface turns white, then add in the broccoli and bell pepper. Stir fry until vegetables are tender crisp. Add the cashews and sauce and fry to desired doneness.                    

261 calories  6 net carbs   17 g fat

There you go. Easy and delicious and a nice change of pace when you crave Chinese food. Bet you want some!

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

 Order any of our great cookbooks at

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

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!

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

 Order any of our great cookbooks at

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

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:     

 Order any of our great cookbooks at

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