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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Kahlua Pig Stir Fry

I planned for Waikiki Stirfry as my third meal of the Triple Play meals this week. But, as life often goes, things got messy, and I found I was out of pineapple DaVinci syrup. I planned on picking up some pineapple flavoring at the grocery store, but none could be found...even at two stores. So I changed up some ingredients and made a brand new dish. Still very "islandy"--is that a word? Who cares.

I did have some Kahlua flavored syrup. I did have some coconut milk. The beginnings of inspiration. I threw various veggies in the skillet--you can put in whatever you have. This time, I added about 3/4 a pound of frozen snow peas, 1 cup of coleslaw mix, 1/4 zucchini, and some red bell pepper. Once they got going, I mixed half a can of coconut milk, about 1/4 cup DaVinci Kahlua syrup, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger and a half teaspoon of xanthan gum. I whirled this around in the bullet blender to really mix in that thickener. Next, I added the already cooked and chopped ham to the veggies. Once that was hot, I stirred in the coconut milk mixture and let it thicken up for a minute or so. I served it up and sprinkled some chopped peanuts on the top for crunch.

The boys sneared at it as "Chinese" food. They don't share my passion for snow peas. I think it is wonderful. We'll see if John likes it. It is packed in his lunch bag. I am eating mine for brunch. Once it was cooked, it smelled too good to pass up. The Breakfast Bonanza muffins I microwaved can be my snack later! Flexibility can be the mother of invention too, I guess. Aloha!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Egg Wraps Bento

This is not an egg roll like you get at the Chinese food take-out joint. These are real egg. Really Rolled. Really easy to wrap a thin lunch meat and cheese. I found a tutorial for Microwave Egg Sheets over at the Lunch in a Box site. Lots of ideas for Bento lunches, especially if you are curious about some of the Japanese specialties.

I used these egg wraps with thin sliced turkey and Jack cheese. They cook so easy, and peel right off the plastic wrap. No wrestling with a sticky spot on the pan. One egg per wrap makes a nice roll up. For my hubby's man sized appetite, I also added a turkey sausage, some bell pepper strips, celery sticks and ranch dressing for dipping. John often grazes while he works, so this type of lunch is great for him. The wraps would make excellent breakfast food too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Coney Dog Casserole

The All American Coney Dog. It was my craving when I was expecting my first son. I have always loved them. Now that we low carb, I often serve them as an E.Z. Fix meal with the dogs topped with Great Value chili dog sauce. That claims 19 servings at 2 carbs. We get about six servings a can, sometimes just four, so add the carbs accordingly. If you eat this casserole with the whole can added, just add in 38 carbs divided by the number of servings you get. This is very filling and rich, so we can easily get 6 servings even with hungry boys. That is still just 8.5 carbs per serving. A bit higher than most casseroles I make, but a green salad is really all you need with this one!

The recipe which inspired this treat came from Linda Sue's wonderful site of recipes. Her version is here. Linda's doesn't use the chili dog sauce, but the topping is very similar; I just used a bit less cheese and no onion.

Coney Dog Casserole

6 Oscar Mayer wieners (or other franks at one carb)
1 pound Minute Beef, thawed
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 can Great Value Chili Dog sauce
6 ounces shredded cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup cream

Cut wieners into bite size pieces and place in the base of a casserole dish. Add the Minute Beef and top both meats with mustard and onion powder. Top with half of the cheese. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add mayonnaise until well blended, then add in cream. Pour this mixture over the meat. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes.

This is yummy stuff. True, it is a bit processed food heavy, but some times you just need some comfort food! I know I need some today. It looks like several of the classes I was hired to teach aren't going to meet their enrollment quota, and I will not be having those anticipated paychecks this fall. I have other friends who have lost jobs as well. Scary times economically; we just have to trust the One in charge. Of course, it wouldn't hurt if a few more cookbook customers come my way...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ham it Up

How would you like to spend the afternoon at the movies and come home to this meal? If you have prepared a ham for your prep day, the main course is ready to serve. 4 out of 5 of us love oven baked ham. The other one is just weird. Tonight, I made some brussel sprouts with melted cheese to go along. The carby boys got some instant mashed taters as well.

The leftovers will go into a casserole and Monte Cristo crepes later this week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Strawberry Chia Pop

This is so good when it is hot outside! And so good with an added nutritional bonus too! Yesterday, I made a batch of In a Jam Muffins. Rather than topping them with commercial sugar free jam, I used some strawberries I had that needed to be used quickly. I chose all the soft berries from the container, probably about 10 berries. Sorry, I didn't count. I threw those into my bullet blender along with a tablespoon of chia seeds, some sweetener and some water. They pulverized nicely, and were quite liquidy until the chia set to work. After about twenty minutes, they were the consistency of pudding. I spooned those into the center of the muffin batter, then had enough left to top the muffins too. Those were quite good, much like strawberry french toast.

When my oldest son had his lip problems, one of his sweet girl friends brought him over a care package of "fat lip friendly" treats. Among them were some fruit pops sweetened with Splenda. I tried one, and it was so yummy I wanted to duplicate it with lower carbs. Having success with the strawberry slurry, I was inspired. I had a few more strawberries, so I repeated the procedure, replacing half the water with cream. After letting that set, I added a touch of sweetener to taste. Then, it was into the popsicle forms--the ancient ones from Tupperware. I let it freeze almost 24 hours. Tonight I am enjoying a delicious frozen treat. These taste just like real strawberries and cream. They are not rock hard like the usual home made popsicle. I am not totally sure of the proportions, but this is close. I'll try to duplicate the recipe when I get some more berries.

Fresh Strawberry Chia Pops
1 cup sliced strawberries
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cream
2 Tablespoons Splenda or equivalent sweetener

Combine all ingredients and blend well. Let the mixture set for 20 minutes to gel. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until firm. Let rest at room temperature about 5 minutes before removing from mold and eating. Depending on the size of your molds, this would make 2-4 pops.

These really don't seem to be too drippy, but I added one of my new home made cloth napkins just in case. If you are inspired to save a bit of money, these family style napkins are too easy to make. I have pinking shears, so I don't even hem mine. I have two styles. One is a bandana, cut into fourths. Easy, and at most a quarter a piece. The other method involves buying bargain table fabric. My Walmart, though not all have fabric departments, has a great selection for $1.50 a yard. I buy ten inches, then cut that strip into fourths. The napkin in the photo is made from bargain table cloth. Can't beat the price, and they don't take up enough room in the laundry to be a bother. I keep all my cloth napkins in a cute ceramic flower pot in the center of the kitchen table. That makes them handy to grab with dinner.

Today was an easy cooking day because everything was prepped beforehand. Breakfast was the In a Jam Muffins, lunch was leftover Chili Cheese Under Pressure, and dinner was a Sloppy Tom Casserole. I spent the afternoon fiddling around with my new stone that fits in the toaster oven. With a couple of batches of Almond Thins already produced, I still don't have a winning recipe to share. No problem, we can still eat the trials which aren't quite right. I'll share my results when I have an undeniable success. Until then, try a popsicle.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Smokey Okie Breakfast Casserole

Just a minute out of prep day to show you our breakfast casseroles we made today. I made a casserole which is not in the e-book, but is similar to the Three Little Pigs Casserole. Today's choice features the smokey flavors my guys crave at breakfast time. It is loaded with bacon, ham and even a bit of extra hickory flavoring. Yum.

Smokey Okie Breakfast Casserole

This is one of the recipes included in my new cookbook project, Low Carbing Among Friends.
This recipe is available in the book, along with over 60 additional 24/7 Low Carb Diner recipes. By ordering the book, you get more than 300 favorite gluten free recipes from four other well known low carb cooking experts…Jennifer Eloff of Splendid Low Carbing cookbook fame, Kent Altena, the Atkins Diet Geek and You Tube star, nutritionist and author Maria Emmerich of Maria’s Nutritious and Delicious Journal, and popular blogger and food stylist, Carolyn Ketchum of All Day I Dream About Food. Unlike any other cookbook you may own, this one is a compilation of mini cookbooks featuring the talents of these well known low carbers. Think of it as a “best of” project.
Low Carbing Among Friends also features recipes from numerous other talented low carbing friends and recommendations from the medical community who recognize the health benefits of low carb, gluten free living. To preorder your copy, visit The official release date is 11/11/11, so pre-order now for a discount.

Fry bacon. Crumble when cool. Place a bit of bacon grease in the bottom of two casserole dishes, and divide the bacon crumbles between them. Distribute the ham cubes and the cheese over the bacon. In a large bowl, combine eggs, softened cream cheese, cream, mustard and spices. Blend well with a hand mixer. Gently pour the egg mixture over the meats. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until set. Store one casserole for breakfasts this week and wrap the other well for the freezer.

I'm also using ham for our Triple Play meals this week. That super cool little baking stone I bought is also proving to do great things with those Pick a Flavor Cookies. Now I have a few more things to do in the kitchen...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Carnitas from the Freezer

I was out shopping all day today. Didn't buy a thing except some protein powder. Yes, life is pretty exciting. But still, I was tired, and not much interested in playing around in the kitchen. So glad I had Pork Carnitas in the freezer. All I had to do was warm them up. I had just enough energy to whip up a batch of individual cheese pizza crusts which double as sandwich bases. The recipe is in the e-book. It is versatile in that one batch can be used for pizzas one meal and open faced sandwiches another meal. The taste is light and cheesy and goes with so many things. Now I will have enough crusts to make mini pizzas next week.

To assemble the Carnitas tonight, I simply added the shredded meat to my crust, then topped it with onion and sour cream. I added a bit of hot sauce to mine because I like a little extra heat. A simple green salad on the side and we were good to go.

Tomorrow is prep day. After that, I hope to get some time to experiment with the new baking stone I got from Pampered Chef. This one fits in the toaster oven. That should be a great benefit in these hot summer days. I would much rather heat that small oven rather than the big one.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chicken Paprikash

This is my last experiment with pressure cooker recipes for a while. This chicken dish has a short list of ingredients and is fairly simple to make. It was a bit bland for my tastes, but the guys seemed to like it.

I used frozen bone in chicken thighs. Next time I think I would try boneless because the step of removing the bone and skin from the broth was more time consuming than I would prefer--especially in the summer. It wasn't too bad, though, because the pressure makes the meat very tender. Still, this is perfect comfort food for my northerner hubby. With a big grin on his face, he asked how I knew he was in the mood for chicken. Well, that is easy. He is always in the mood for chicken!

Pressure Cooker Chicken Paprikash

4 pounds chicken thighs
1 can chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2- 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
8 ounces sour cream
1 pound cauliflower, steamed

Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker. Bring up to full pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Release the pressure. Remove the chicken. Discard the skin and bones and set meat aside. Stir in the xanthan gum. Slowly stir in the sour cream. Add chicken back to sauce. Serve over steamed cauliflower.

My friend NeeCee came over today and I helped her and her kiddos assemble all the necessary items to pack bento lunches for the upcoming school year. Hopefully, I will have some photos to show from our lunch hours!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chili Cheese under Pressure

I am the type who never gets tired of Mexican food--even when the temperature is in the 90s outside. I hate a hot kitchen, though. This recipe, a Multiply Meal, is perfect. It adds a little spice, some healthy veggies and is ready fast! (Thank you to my pressure cooker again.)

I added some noodles and made chili mac for my carby boys. It was just as wonderful spooned over some iceberg lettuce. The pressure cooker makes the beef so tender, and it is tough to tell the veggies are even in there! Since I have an 8 quart pot, I made enough for two more meals.

Chili Cheese Under Pressure

5 pounds ground beef
28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
14 ounce can of beef broth
2 Tablespoons of Chili Powder or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional)
2 Tablespoons of cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
5 ribs of celery
1 yellow squash
1 green bell pepper
1 onion
1 cup water
1 pound American cheese
hot sauce to taste

Brown the hamburger in a large skillet. While that is browning, chop vegetables by hand or with a food processor. Drain beef. Add all ingredients except the cheese and hot sauce to the pressure cooker. Let it come to full pressure and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Release pressure and stir in cheese slices. Stir to incorporate cheese and season to taste. To serve, eat alone or ladled over iceberg lettuce and topped with additional cheese.
Freeze the remaining chili for future meals.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, this could be made on the stove top or crock pot as well. Jut remember to add the cheese at the end. With a little more tweaking, this just could be my entry for my school group's annual chili cook-off this fall.

Antipasto Salad

Oh how I wish I was better about measuring when I am experimenting in the kitchen. In salad, I have a real winner, but I failed to write down exact amounts. I think that is okay, though, because this is one of those "process" recipes that is very adaptable to what you have on hand.

My mom and I were checking out the new grocery store in town last week. They have an amazing gourmet salad bar, and a hot food line as well. I chose to make a fresh salad after we shopped, and my mom got the veggie plate from the hot food selection. Both were outstanding. They happened to be out of roasted asparagus, so they sauteed some up fresh for my mom. It must have been half a pound of asparagus when the proud chef placed it on her plate. (really did look like a chef anyway: white coat, hat and the works--in a grocery store no less) In addition to that, she had a delicious squash medley which I hope to duplicate later this week. She also had a marinated veggie salad. All that for $3.99. Pretty good deal, especially since her leftover asparagus went into this dish.

In my salad, I found an antipasto salad which looked to be low carb. It was wonderful, and I made up my mind to make my own. We shared it at lunch, trying to discern all the wonderful flavors. I asked for the recipe, bu the manager wouldn't share. I might have even got the chef in trouble for making a special order for us. That's too bad because good customer service is hard to find. Anyway, my salad was heavenly with the addition of fresh herbed mozzarella balls, nuts and more designer cheeses. I definitely need to pay more attention to our salads here at home. These spoiled me so!

Here is what I came up with as a copycat recipe. It is every bit as good-maybe better. Try it with your favorite veggies and cheeses. The dressing really makes it. It would could also be extended with some lettuce in tossed just before serving. Without that, it will keep in the fridge for a while. Either way would be tasty.

This is one of the recipes included in my new cookbook project, Low Carbing Among Friends.
This recipe is available in the book, along with over 60 additional 24/7 Low Carb Diner recipes. By ordering the book, you get more than 300 favorite gluten free recipes from four other well known low carb cooking experts…Jennifer Eloff of Splendid Low Carbing cookbook fame, Kent Altena, the Atkins Diet Geek and You Tube star, nutritionist and author Maria Emmerich of Maria’s Nutritious and Delicious Journal, and popular blogger and food stylist, Carolyn Ketchum of All Day I Dream About Food. Unlike any other cookbook you may own, this one is a compilation of mini cookbooks featuring the talents of these well known low carbers. Think of it as a “best of” project.
Low Carbing Among Friends also features recipes from numerous other talented low carbing friends and recommendations from the medical community who recognize the health benefits of low carb, gluten free living. To preorder your copy, visit The official release date is 11/11/11, so pre-order now for a discount.

I have to admit I taste tested this all day yesterday. Then, when I was ready to blog about it, we lost our electricity. So you got it today. When the power went out, I was certainly glad dinner was in the crock pot already done. What a blessing to have turkey sausages and cabbage ready to go, so I didn't have to serve dinner from a dark kitchen, or risk opening and closing the fridge and losing the reserved cool air. Thankfully, with the summer heat, the power came back on just when we were contemplating an escape to a cooler place.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Impossible Cake Bites

I saw this recipe on the Low Carb Friends board, and I didn't think it could be true. Chocolate cake with no flour, but black beans? It's a mystery, but it works! After some consideration, I took the plunge and purchased a can of black beans. True, these aren't extremely low carb, but they do have lots of fiber and nutrition. My whole family is amazed at how truly cakelike and super chocolatey these cake bites are. I used a combo of liquid sucralose and erythritol to avoid the chocolate complications you sometimes get with Splenda.

I had time to play around in the kitchen today because we were eating the ribs we prepped on Sunday for dinner. When I have the entree already covered, my boys tend to get more desserts or interesting side dishes. Today that resulted in a yummy three cheese broccoli casserole and these black bean cakes. Maybe I should take advantage of that free time to get some exercise instead of cooking. This chocolate treat could become a binge too easily. At least the bon bon size keeps me from devouring the entire cake at one sitting. I am having trouble even keeping my carby boys out of these too though. I doubt they will last long.

For a nice and easy frosting, I blended about 2 ounces of cream cheese with three very ripe strawberries and a bit of sweetener. I piped in on with that marvel of modern technology--the plastic sandwich bag. The silicon brownie pan I used makes these cute bon bons, or can also be a cake pop if you poke them with a lollipop stick and decorate the top side of the cake. I also baked some in a mini muffin pan so I wouldn't have to do so many batches in and out of the oven. From one recipe, I got 16 bon bons and 24 mini muffins. With that many servings, each one unfrosted has just 1.5 carbs a piece. But then, who can eat just one? Try these. They are amazing!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vanilla Butter Nut Minute Muffin

I have a new favorite Minute Muffin. If you remember pound cake with strawberry sauce, this is it! Yesterday I picked up a bottle of McCormick Vanilla Butter and Nut flavoring that I spotted at Big Lots. Now I am going to go back and buy some more. The flavor is wonderful!

I decided to try it in Minute Muffins this morning rather than make, and possibly not like, an entire batch of muffins. John and I both loved them, especially paired with some Smucker's Sugarfree Strawberry Preserves. They are so good, they could even be dessert. Granted, Minute Muffins are not the prettiest, but this flavoring would do well in any muffin recipe. I think I will add it to the In a Jam Muffins to jazz them up. Hope you can find this in your area.

Vanilla Butter Nut Minute Muffin

2 Tablespoons flax meal
2 Tablespoons almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 scant capful of flavoring
1/8-1/4 cup sweetener or equivalent
1 Tablespoon coconut oil or melted butter

Mix dry ingredients in a mug. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Microwave for one minute (I need ten seconds more, as microwaves will vary). Turn out of cup, slice in half and top with a teaspoon of sugar free strawberry preserves.
Serves 1-2

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Twice-Cooked Country Ribs

Sunday is my prep day. Today we tried something different for a "Triple Play" choice--cooking more than one meal's meats on the grill. We don't have a big fancy gas grill; we use just a portable charcoal variety. Today it made enough food for lunch today, another later this week, plus six pounds of pork country style ribs.

Often ribs cooked on the grill are really tough. If you want to avoid a wrestling match trying to eat them, you can tenderize the meat with slow cooking, or partially cooking before grilling. I chose the latter, and used my pressure cooker to do the job. The result is tender ribs that still have all the smokey goodness of the grill.

Twice Cooked Country Ribs

4-6 pounds of country style pork ribs
1 12 ounce can of beer
2/3 cup water
barbecue seasoning
1 cup no sugar barbecue sauce

Place the beer and water in a pressure cooker. Sprinkle the ribs with barbecue seasoning and pat it in on all sides. Layer ribs in the pressure cooker. Attach the lid and bring it up to full pressure. Cook for 15 minutes. Release pressure and remove the ribs. Place them on a prepared grill. Baste with barbecue sauce until the ribs are browned and well glazed.

Now we are saving money by getting more out of the charcoal. We also have a couple of extra meals ready to go for later in the week. I just have to keep the men in the house out of the ribs and extra hamburgers until then. The sample bites we took were great.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pressure Cooker Cacciatore

Summer is a great time to use a pressure cooker. Before we low carbed, I used mine all the time to cook beans. Now, I really need to get busy developing some low carb recipes for my pressure cooker. It certainly saves time, and keep me from having to heat up the oven. In many recipes, the meat is so tender cooked under pressure as well.

Tonight, I made Chicken Cacciatore. Talk about easy. Just throw in some frozen chicken thighs, a can of Italian diced tomatoes, some black olives and some extra garlic and Italian seasoning blend. I didn't measure; I just dumped. I did add a cup of water to provide the steaming action needed for pressure. After bringing my cooker up to full pressure, I cooked it for 25 minutes. The chicken was tender and nearly fell off the bones.

To complete the meal, I used a frozen portion of Bald Calzone. Everybody loves that at my house!

I am saving the leftover broth for some Italian Chicken soup I will be able to make with "Freezer Favorite" Chicken Cubes. But that's another meal, another day. It is amazing how having at least one portion of the meal prepped in advance saves so much time. That is why I love my 24/7 Diner System.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Beef Fajita Pie

So glad it is a bit cooler today, because my menu was an experiment with another "Multiply Meals" casserole. This is a keeper, especially if you have a fondness for Mexican food. It could be a bit pricey if you don't have access to pre-marinated fajita meat at cheaper prices like I do. You can prep the meat yourself and save some money, or you can pay more for the convenience.

The casserole is meaty and cheesey and oh so good. You can vary the heat by adjusting the amount of pepper and salsa. I added a sheet of Joseph's Lavash bread as the base, but it would work just as well without, I think.

Beef Fajita Pie

2- 2 1/2 pounds beef fajita meat, marinated
1 sheet Joseph's Lavash Bread, optional
8 ounces cream cheese
2 eggs
3 cups cheddar cheese, divided
diced onions and bell peppers to taste
salsa and jalapeno pepper

Brown meat in a cast iron skillet. While that is browning, mix the cream cheese, eggs and 2 cups of cheddar. Place a sheet of Lavash bread in the base of a casserole dish. Spoon the cheese mixture over the bread. Bake at 325 until set, but not browned. (about 15 minutes in my oven) Remove from the oven and top with a layer of peppers and onions. Top those with beef. Return to oven for 25 minutes, adding the remaining cheese during the last five minutes of cooking time. Top with pickled jalapeno slices and salsa to taste. Serve with a wedge of iceberg lettuce on the side.

This is the recipe for one meal. To make this dish a Multiply Meals recipe, simply triple the amounts and divide the ingredients among three casserole dishes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flower Bento Lunch

I had a meeting to attend today which was scheduled to last through lunchtime. I packed this Bento lunch to snack on while we worked. The sandwich roll-ups are made from leftover Beef Stroganoff from dinner. They were delicious! I cut some bell pepper flowers and added some blue cheese dressing for dipping. That tiny little container cam from the dollar store--I have six of them now. The caps are nice and tight, so packing liquid is not a problem. Next to that is a yummy strawberry. Using my new tiny cutters, I also cut some cheese into tulip shapes. I added a couple of mini cheesecake muffins too for dessert. I didn't remember them before I took the photo, but I also added three Pick-a-flavor cookies. Guess that is enough dessert items, I shouldn't need anything sweet tonight!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Minute Beef Stroganoff

I had to look back over my blog entries to see if I had ever posted this simple "Freezer Favorite" meal made with Minute Beef. It is a family style Stroganoff--not made with the more expensive cuts of beef, but not made with a can of mushroom soup either! I can't believe I never featured it on a blog because we eat it fairly often. Perhaps it just isn't pretty enough.

Just warm up a package of Minute Beef, you know, that frozen pre-browned beef we Diners keep in supply in the freezer. Add some diced onion, sliced mushrooms and cooking wine. The amounts depend on how many you are serving. When that is all nice, browned and tender, add some sour cream. Since the meat was precooked, there is not much fat to try to drain off. That is a big plus for me...I hate spilling meat all over the place trying to drain the pan. When I make Minute Beef, I use a turkey baster to remove most of the fat. It is much easier than dealing with huge pots or colanders. You can, of course make this from fresh ground beef as well if there is no Minute Beef lurking in the freezer this week. My exact recipe is in the e-book.

I made some cauliflower for us to eat with the Stroganoff. Better than the egg noodles I made for the carby boys. There is so much flavor to the sauce, the cauliflower taste is hardly discernible. Not that I don't like it anyway...

For dessert tonight, we will just have some cinnamon vanilla yogurt. Nice and sweet and cool for hot days like these! The dishes will wait for sundown.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pick-a-flavor Cookies

I remember reading the entry for KoolAid cookies on the Low Carb Friends forum last summer. It seemed like so many people had trouble with the recipe, I was too scared to try it. When it popped back up recently, I decided to go ahead and give these little cookies a try. The flavoring secret comes from the addition of a soft drink flavoring. Most people seemed to prefer lemonade, but all flavors will work.

I am fresh out of the tried and true Koolaid, but I do have some drink mixes for water bottles. All the posts said those would work as well. You may need to adjust the sweetener, as Splenda sweetened drink powders would add extra sweetness. Nutrasweet's flavor would bake out in the oven's heat. My recipe is assuming no added sweetness. The original recipe is on this thread, but there are six pages of tweaks and variations. So, it is probably easier to just do what I did!Thanks "CaliOkiegalfornow" for the fun recipe.

Pick-a-Flavor Cookies

1/3 cup protein powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons flax meal
1 tube water flavoring or 1/2 packet unsweetened Koolaid
1 Tablespoon ground nuts - I used pecan
1 egg
sweetener equivalent to 1 1/2 cups (use less if using sweetened drink mix)
1/4 cup coconut oil

Mix all ingredients well. Let dough chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Drop by 1/2 teaspoon onto parchment paper or silicon mat. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Makes 20-24 cookies.

Many people seemed to have some trouble with the dough spreading too much. This could be a variation of protein powders. Just in case, I would recommend using a cookie sheet with sides. Mine did spread quite a bit, but remained separate. The funniest thing was, they actually migrated to the sides of the pan. I used a Silpat baking sheet, and was so surprised to open the oven door to see perfect little cookies all congregating in little groups on the edges of the pan. I have never seen that before! As you can see by the photo, however friendly they behaved, they stayed nice little round cookies. I made them small, mostly due to success stories on the forum, but also because they will fit into my bento lunch that way! I hope they last that long.

My variation today used apple flavored drink mix. I also added about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. They are tart and spicy with a wonderful texture. I can't wait to try some more flavors. I will have to make a run to the store for some more vanilla protein powder, as this recipe finished off the canister.

I had an easy day in the kitchen today, thus the cookie experiment. For breakfast we had sausage and pre-made cheesecake muffins. I quickly threw together an Italian soup made with the last of the Turkey Red Sauce. That made a fine lunch. For dinner, we are having a Multiply Meal, Mexi-Burger Casserole. Glad for that since it is too hot to be long in the kitchen, and I have a school meeting tonight.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pesto Chicken

My tiny little garden is hobbling along--I really have never had a green thumb, but I am trying. This chicken boasts my own basil and my cherry tomatoes. Can't claim the olives or the zucchini. Maybe you master gardeners can explain the extraordinary abundance of male squash blossoms verses the few and far between female blossoms. I know I never managed to birth a girl child, but I somehow thought the squash plant would be different. So far none of the female blossoms have held on long enough to produce. I even helped the fertilization process along one day. Squash hanky-panky still didn't do the trick. If we had to live off my garden, my clan would be very thin!

This dish, however, does not require too many horticultural skills. I gave you the instructions for the Sunflower Basil Pesto already. The rest is sooo easy. I even baked our chicken in the toaster oven to keep from heating up the kitchen. It is over 100 degrees this afternoon. Yuck for the weather. Yum for the chicken.

Pesto Chicken

1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast or tenders
1/3 cup pesto
4-6 cherry or grape tomatoes
olives and zucchini according to your preference
2 tablespoons feta cheese

Bake the chicken for about ten minutes at 325 with only a sprinkle of salt. Then remove the chicken from the oven and coat it with the pesto sauce. Arrange vegetables around the poultry and sprinkle feta cheese over all. Bake until juices run clear, about 15-20 minutes more. My toaster oven had a bit of a tough time getting up to speed, so you may need to add or subtract from these cooking times.

This recipe is very nice. I cut up my four ripe tomatoes so they would go farther, but you can leave them whole. I love the way the juices pop in the mouth. Although I am not a big tomato eater when they are fresh, I adore them sauteed with olive oil and basil. This is the same flavor. If you don't have any of your own pesto, buy a jar from the grocery. Even if it is pricey, it is worth it!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Stuffed Burger Fusion

Stuffed Burger Fusion...just what is the "fusion" part? That is my choice of stuffing and topping ingredients, but you are free to be true to common burger fixings if you choose. Stuffed burgers are really pretty simple. Just choose some flavorful ingredients to layer in between a couple of ground beef patties. Tonight, I offered up these choices for our Burger Buffet Meal.

Grilled mushrooms
Grilled onions
Cheddar Cheese
American Cheese
Feta Cheese
Crumbled Bacon
Jalapeno slices

To make the fusion burger, I added the sauteed mushrooms and onions to my burger halves. Then I added a spoonful of feta cheese, a sprinkle of bacon crumbles and some jalapeno. I sealed the meat well to keep all those goodies inside, then cooked them up on the Foreman Grill. To top it off in true fusion fashion, I added both barbecue sauce and blue cheese dressing. Mmmm...Tex-Mex fuses with old south barbecue. If you don't want to cook it up yourself, you can always try one of my favorite restaurants--Tin Star. This is a copy cat of one of their burgers you can get in lettuce wraps. Just as good made at home, and I don't have to have the will power to avoid the tortilla chips. These would be especially good if you happen to have a batch of Chipotle Madness Barbecue Sauce.

For the less adventurous among us, the burgers are great stuffed with onions, bacon and cheese too. That is why I love buffet meals, everyone gets to customize his burger, and I still get to have a little fun.

Friday, July 10, 2009

My Thai Chicken

Tonight I adapted a crock pot recipe into a regular oven recipe, hoping to make enough for a Multiply Meals recipe. But by the time I got into the kitchen it was just too hot! Instead of doing a multiple, I just made one large casserole and hoped for some leftovers. Unfortunately, the guys were really hungry despite the heat. They managed to eat it all! That is what feeding three sons will do to you.

The recipe for My Thai Chicken is in the e-book. If you forget to get the crock pot going in the morning, it is just as good baked in the oven. You can even use Chicken Cubes and save some baking time. My guys really like the combination of salsa and peanut butter, but then, they aren't Thai food experts. Great family meal. I served rice for the carby boys. Even my dog is in the kitchen floor begging to lick the casserole dish. It must smell pretty darn good.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sunflower Basil Pesto for Cheapskates

I admit it. I will not pay grocery store prices for pine nuts (or fresh basil, for that matter). Instead, I did a bit of investigating and found that some frugal cooks actually like to use the humble sunflower kernel in Italian pestos. Since my garden is finally beginning to produce a bit of food here and there, I decided it was time to make some pesto of my own.

Of course, I can never leave a recipe well enough alone. I have to change it up for what I have on hand. My basil is growing, but it is slightly less than abundant. It seems still cruel to cut too much at this point. BUT, my mom had an overabundance of lemon balm from an established plant. We both decided that would be a good addition. It is not quite as strongly flavored as basil, but does impart a lemony goodness to our foods. She brought over a few sprigs today, and we supplemented with my basil. Here is what we came up with.

Sunflower Basil Pesto

This is one of the recipes included in my new cookbook project, Low Carbing Among Friends.
This recipe is available in the book, along with over 60 additional 24/7 Low Carb Diner recipes. By ordering the book, you get more than 300 favorite gluten free recipes from four other well known low carb cooking experts…Jennifer Eloff of Splendid Low Carbing cookbook fame, Kent Altena, the Atkins Diet Geek and You Tube star, nutritionist and author Maria Emmerich of Maria’s Nutritious and Delicious Journal, and popular blogger and food stylist, Carolyn Ketchum of All Day I Dream About Food. Unlike any other cookbook you may own, this one is a compilation of mini cookbooks featuring the talents of these well known low carbers. Think of it as a “best of” project.
Low Carbing Among Friends also features recipes from numerous other talented low carbing friends and recommendations from the medical community who recognize the health benefits of low carb, gluten free living. To preorder your copy, visit The official release date is 11/11/11, so pre-order now for a discount.

Being a cheapskate, I did use the cheese in a can. I know, purists would just die, but they don't have to feed a family on my budget! I think it is still really good, and cost a fraction of the kind in the tiny little jars.

Because a little goes a long way, My mom and I divided it up. Already, I made a cream cheese pesto dip to serve with fresh veggies. I will have enough to dress some chicken breasts and make a Pesto Tuna salad.

I have heard that it is a good idea to freeze pesto in ice cube trays to use later. For my next batch, I will do that. Freeze the cubes, pop them out and store them in a ziploc bag to use in soups, sauces and casseroles.

Fresh from the garden. Can't beat the price.

Crockpot Porkchops Alfredo

Last night's dinner was so yummy. Rich and good. The meat was so tender, it actually fell off the bone. I used pork steak rather than chops because they were on sale. Everyone loves this recipe at our house. Some buttered broccoli on the side, and dinner was done. I used Ragu roasted garlic alfredo sauce. Extra garlic, extra good! Even the mushroom haters still ate it. The recipe is in the e-book.

This morning, we had shakes prepared with homemade yogurt. Cool and delicious, and great for hot summer days. Now I am off to get some shopping done!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Spicy Chicken Salad

This recipe takes a blah chicken salad to the next level. This is low calorie, chocked full of fresh veggies and easy to make. I used leftover Tequila Lime Chicken breasts, so they already have some Tex-Mex flavor. If you don't like the heat, just leave out the jalapeno pepper in the dressing, but keep all those veggies--they are so good for you!

Spicy Chicken Salad

three cups of chopped vegetables:
red bell pepper
green bell pepper

2 tequila lime chicken breasts
1/2 cup shredded cheese
red leaf lettuce

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup unflavored yogurt
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 pickled jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 Knorr cilanto cube

Chop vegetables and chicken into bite sized chunks. To make dressing, mix mayonnaise and yogurt in a blender. Add lime juice, jalapeno, ground chipotle, and cilantro cube, and blend well.

Stir dressing into chicken and vegetable mixture. Stir in cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a bed of red leaf lettuce.

Dinner is in the crockpot, so now I can devote an afternoon to lesson planning for the upcoming school year. Isn't it a great feeling when you know the meal is ready to pretty much serve itself? Love it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chunky Veggie Salad

Sometimes, ya just get tired of lettuce. Sure it helps to have all those different toppings and dressings, but still it is salad. Because dinner this evening was a Triple Play casserole, Awesome Italian Sausage Bake, I had some time to make salad more interesting. What I came up with takes advantage of all those garden fresh goodies we are beginning to find at the markets. Not to mention my favorite cheese.

Chunky Veggie Salad

sweet mild onion
red bell pepper
cherry tomatoes
sliced black olives
feta cheese
Italian dressing
cracked pepper

Chop vegetables into generous bite sized chunks. Toss together with olives and feta cheese. Drizzle with Italian dressing and sprinkle with pepper.

This is a good, light salad which especially compliments a heavier entree, such as the meaty sausage bake we had tonight. I love the combination of textures. Here's a photo of that casserole from the last time I served it. The recipe is here.

This casserole was made with a batch of home made ricotta. I don't know if I will bother making that from scratch again, as ricotta has such a mild flavor. It is really only worth it for me if there is a big price difference. Even though my yogurt always drains very well in a colander lined with coffee filters, the ricotta did not drain so nicely. If I try it again, I will definitely have to find some new cheesecloth. Speaking of yogurt, I think that will be dessert tonight. Vanilla yogurt is my fave, and I still need to use up some fresh raspberries from the fourth holiday meal. Sounds good.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Versatile Squash

It is amazing. Just think of all the different ways a squash can be served for dinner! Tonight, we have two kinds of summer squash, zucchini and yellow crookneck, and a lesser known cousin, the Chayote squash. So summery and good, and prepared three different ways in tonight's dinner. Versatility.

The meat entree was a breeze. The menu called for Salsa Dancing Chicken, a family favorite. Being a "Multiply Meal" it was ready and waiting in the freezer. Because my sons aren't quite as devoted to the squash as I am, tonight's casserole is designed to hide the fact that the main ingredients are summer squash. To do this, I finely diced the squash in my old salsa maker--no telltale round slices to give it away. To this, I added some garlic and onion powder, 1/4 cup of black bean salsa, 3 tablespoons of leftover onion dip and about 3/4's cup of Jack cheese. I stirred it all together and baked it in a casserole dish next to the still frozen chicken. They were done at the same time. Easy. Not an award winning recipe, but a good way to hide the squashy texture for picky kiddos.

For the grown up taste, I made a simple, super fresh tasting salad. Last week red bell peppers were only 69 cents each. For this dinner, I sliced half of one into matchsticks. To contrast with the pepper, I added matchsticks cut from 1/4 of a chayote squash. It has a very mild flavor. Next I added a sprinkle of onion powder and a few squirts of lime juice. A tiny drizzle of evoo, and then set it aside for the flavors to absorb.

I read on several sites and blogs about cooking Chayote squash to taste like fried apples. After reading too many recipes to remember, I wandered into the kitchen and did my own thing. First, I cut the remaining squash into bite sized chunks. I did not peel it, although some recipes say to do so. I simply dumped those into a non stick skillet with a tablespoon of butter. I heated those together until the squash began to become tender. I then added pumpkin pie spice and extra cinnamon. I topped it off with a few drops of liquid sucralose, or the equivalent of about 2-3 tablespoons of sweetener. I tasted the chayote then, and it was wonderful. Because I did happen to have some apple flavored drink mix, I added a sprinkle at the end. The texture and taste is amazingly simlilar to cooked apples. Hubby absolutely loved it. Number three son didn't care for them, but neither does he like apple pie. Over all, it was a very good dinner, and little time in the kitchen for mom. That's the way I like it.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July Family Food

I am so glad we got to spend the fourth together as a family. As usual, we had some good food and watched beautiful fireworks.

This year's lunch centered on the all American dog. I made up several flavored mustards to make our pups more interesting. I already posted the Smokey the Bear mustard--that was hubby's favorite. I also made a chili dog flavor, and a cajun-style. We already had some southwest mustard and some Nathan's Deli style.

We also had some chili dog sauce, some baked black soy beans, fresh vegetables and dip, and a big bowl of cut cantaloupe and raspberries.

For dessert, I made raspberry cheesecake shots. (that is what became of those refrozen berries left from my son's bleeding lip) I made a special one without pecans for my nut hater son, and the rest got the pecan meal and flax blend. They were really cute, especially with the patriotic stars I added to the dessert glasses.

Now the holiday is over, and with it being Sunday, I am prepping for the week. I have Turkey Red Sauce bubbling away in the crockpot, and some Mega Meatballs in the oven. I still need to get in there and wash all my salad greens, and I also plan to make a batch of English Toffee Cheesecake Muffins. Guess I had best get away from the computer and back to the kitchen. I can spend way too much time on my laptop!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Beef Fajitas in Lettuce Rolls

I almost never order fajitas when we go out. It's not that I don't like them. I love them. It's not that they are bad for our way of eating. They fit great. It's more that I can't afford them. Amazing what some places charge for such a simple entree.

Fajita meat was included in the sale at the meat dock sale in June. This is the pre-marinated steak strips which is usually reserved for sale only to restaurants. They sold it to the public for just a buck and a half a pound. I did add a bit more lime juice and mesquite flavoring for some extra flavor, but that is it. Just toss some onion and pepper in with the beef on a sizzling hot cast iron skillet, and dinner practically serves itself. We ate ours in lettuce rolls, the carbies among us used tortillas with a smear of refried beans.

Later tonight, I plan to whip up some raspberry cheesecake filling to make dessert shots tomorrow for our Independence Day family dinner. Glad I don't have to heat up the kitchen for that one. My mom is planning a hot dog buffet of sorts. I have prepared several gourmet mustards to give us some variety. Here's a recipe for one you might want to try tomorrow--or anytime.

Smokey the Bear Mustard
1/4 cup brown mustard
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mesquite flavored liquid smoke
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Splenda or equivalent sweetener

Stir all ingredients together and let flavors set for a few hours.

Please include our country in your prayers, and do all you can to protect the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Breakfast Pizza

This is really just a take off from the pepperoni egg scramble in the EZ Fix section of the e-book. It is a bit more complicated, but the visual appeal is definitely there if you have a bit of extra time. Like so many easy recipes, this is very flexible, so use what ingredients you have and choose the amounts to suit your own tastes.

Breakfast Pizza
5 eggs
enough pepperoni slices to cover the skillet in a single layer
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 cup of cheese, mol
optional: diced peppers and mushrooms

Place the pepperoni slices in the skillet and pan fry them to release their oils. This preps the pan for the eggs. Beat the eggs with the onion powder. Arrange the pepperoni slices into a single layer in the skillet. Pour the eggs over the pepperoni. Let this set a bit, then use the omelet technique to gently move the cooked egg a bit to the inside, letting the wet egg run underneath and on the outer edge. Alternately, you could use the broiler to cook the top. When all the egg is set, top with cheese. As soon as it is melted, cut the pizza into fourths and gently remove from the pan to a serving dish.

This is just one of those easy to fix dishes that get us through our busy days low carbing. It is good anytime of day. Best of all, it helps alleviate pizza cravings.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Colorburst Pepper and Sausage Skillet

I really meant to get this dish into the crockpot this morning, but that just didn't happen. I was out the door when my ride arrived, and the ingredients were still in the fridge. But failure doesn't mean we don't eat. It just means that it is time to improvise. Working the 24/7 system disasters still happen. I had two choices. I could just grab a Multiply Meal or Freezer Favorite and have a really quick dinner. Or, I could use the same ingredients and change the method of cooking. Tonight, I swapped the slow cooker for a skillet. I'm not too sure, but this just may have ended up as an improvement. It is no chef's special, but it is good, homey comfort food. No leftovers tonight.

Colorburst Pepper and Sausage Skillet

1 pound cooked polish sausage
1 rutabaga
1 yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
2 Tablespoons oil
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and dice the rutabaga. Place it in a skillet with 2 Tablespoons of oil. While that is cooking, chop the onion and peppers and add to the skillet, stirring to coat. Place lid on skillet and simmer for 10-20 minutes until rutabaga is nearly tender. (this time will depend on the size of the dice and how fast you are with a knife) Add sliced sausage and stir into veggie mixture. Pan fry until the vegetables and sausage are beginning to brown. Here, you may add any seasonings you desire, but I prefer to let the natural flavors of the peppers and onion come through.

Note: To extend the servings on this recipe, I added 1 steamed red potato for each of my carb eaters. I have always loved potatoes, but the rutabaga is a wonderful substitute for me. It remains firm and has a milder flavor than turnips, although they could be added to this recipe as well.