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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

Funny I had never tried this before. Fellow Diner, Complex, asked if I had a recipe. Sadly, not. Never even thought about that one. Once, I had a recipe for cheesy chowder with hot dogs, but not a cheeseburger. Always up for such a challenge, I scoured the internet for this secret everyone else seemed to be in on. Found an entire web page devoted to such. Who knew?

Not to be outdone, I started planning. Of course, no potatoes in ours. Every recipe seemed to have those. Then I read one review that said Cheeseburger Soup ought to taste like a cheeseburger, not celery and potatoes. Come to think of it, I never have been served a hamburger topped with celery. So, I decide to make a soup that really did contain the mouth watering tastes that come on a real cheeseburger.

The guys loved it, and it is really simple.

Cheeseburger Soup Low Carb

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.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peanut Butter Shake

I finally found something the hubby likes made with the PB2 powdered peanut butter. The standard low carb protein shake is great with a couple of tablespoons of this powder added. Very rich. It tastes just like the peanut butter milkshakes we used to order at the little hamburger/malt shop near my home. I never could get through an entire malt in those days. My sweet tooth is not so strong. In fact, having just finished my shake, I need to run get something savory. I am just weird like that.

These are very filling. The PB2 adds 53 calories and about 3 net carbs to the shake. It is worth the extra carb for the flavor; as the DaVinci peanut butter flavored syrup I had tried before is just too disappointing. To me, that tastes like chemicals. This is good.

Here's my recipe:

Peanut Butter Shake

1 cup water
1/2 cup crushed ice
2 Tablespoon heavy cream
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I found a good deal on the GNC brand, and I like it)
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 Tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter
sweetener to taste

Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

I added some of the peanut butter powder to my home made yogurt. I really liked it, but hubby said he got tired of it too quickly. I will be trying more recipes with it soon. I think it is a really cool product. My niece who counts calories and fat may really like this one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beef with Mushroom Gravy and Good Intentions

Just so happens that those among us who despise the mushroom are away at college. Despite having dissected one for biology class, my youngest still has the will to partake. Found a good price last week, so tonight's entree is Beef with Mushroom Gravy. I had every good intention to make a batch of Mega Meatballs tonight. The plan is to eat one meal, and freeze the rest in meal size portions. I think my brain must still be clogged with mucus, because I forgot to thaw the meat in time. The center was still too hard, so one night's meal is all I managed.

I do have a plan, however. I have a request for Cheeseburger Soup. Nope, never tried that before, but I love a challenge. I think I will use the rest of the ground chuck to come up with a recipe for that. I already have a secret ingredient in mind. So come back later and see what I came up with.

Until then, tonight's meal. John loved the gravy. I thought everything needed more salt, but then, I guess my cloggy nose got last night's meal a bit too salty for him, so I took it easy. I have always liked my food saltier than he does. The gravy is very light--not in calories as there is plenty of fat--but somehow it is fluffy. Must be the xanthan gum. I used the bullet blender and it got mixed in very well. That must do the trick. Very yummy stuff. If you are in a hurry, and don't have the ground beef ready, it would be fine to grill up some frozen patties on the George and serve the gravy on those.

Beef with Mushroom Gravy

2 pounds ground chuck
2 Tablespoons dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1/4 small onion, sliced
1 cup water
2 bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons cooking sherry
1/2 teaspoon marjoram or dried parsley
pinch of onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ground beef with onion flakes and pepper. Form into 8 patties. Brown the meat in a skillet until almost, but not quite cooked through. Remove to a plate and keep warm. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of the beef fat. Add the mushroom and onion slices. Saute until just tender. While the vegetables are softening, combine one cup hot water, two bouillon cubes and the xanthan gum in a blender. Process until thickened. Pout this mixture over the mushrooms. Add sherry, herbs and onion powder. Heat until the alcohol has time to evaporate. Stir in heavy cream and blend well until heated through. Return the beef to the skillet until everything is serving temperature. This will serve 8 at about 4 carbs each, or a hungry man with two patties at 8 carbs.

I made some steamed broccoli for the side. We still had some Herbed Popovers left too, and they reheated very well in the toaster oven. I am really happy that these keep at least three days. That way, we can easily add a popover to another meal with absolutely no fuss.

My big boy called from college, and still needs more diabetics to take his survey, so if you happen to be a type two, or know a type two, please help him out. Here is the link again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Philly Steak Supper

This is a quick and easy way to change up some roast beef. Just add the awesome flavors of grilled peppers and onions and slap on some American cheese. Maybe not completely authentic, but delicious anyway.

There are two ways of making this a super fast meal. Number one way is to use leftover roast beef in a Triple Play meal. This is less likely to give you thin slices like they use in Philadelphia, but hey, we are losing the bun too, so why try so hard? I did use some of last night's roast in this dish. It was so fatty, that I found it hard to slice, and resorted to my Freezer Favorites. I think I will have to pick the fat out, and use the rest as Smokey Beef Spread. That is in the Triple Play section with the brisket recipes.

Speaking of Freezer Favorites, I did happen to have some frozen steak strips. These were marinated in some steak sauce already, so I didn't need to add the usual garlic and spices to the beef. I can buy my steak slices in quantity at our dock sales, but you could easily cook up a round steak or two and slice them up for nearly instant meals. I have been known to make stir fry dishes, casseroles, stews and even chili with precooked and frozen steak.

For this meal, all I had to do was slice up the pepper and half of an onion. After they softened a bit, I threw in the steak and roast beef. When it was done, I dished it up and placed some cheese strips on the top to melt in. My plate was last and didn't quite get fully melted before I took the photo. You get the idea, though. For my carby boy, I added some rice. The leftover rice will go into a freezer bag for another day when he needs it. Always save labor when you can!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Herbed Popovers with Coconut Master Mix

We had roast and root veggies for dinner tonight. The roasts were inexpensive last week. Good thing, it was quite fatty. I added some veggies to the crockpot to serve alongside. I added one potato for my carby boy. I thought leaving the red skin on would make it simple to tell which veggie was which at the end. I added a rutabaga, onion, and a package of radishes as well. It was still hard to pull the potatoes out without plopping them on my plate. Potatoes are one of those foods I miss. The radishes just didn't do it for me. Edible, but that is about all.

I did make some lovely cheese and herb popovers, for lack of a better term. No these aren't exactly popovers, but they were nice as a dinner roll substitute, and very easy to put together. Because I am experimenting with the Master Mix (recipe in the previous blog entry), I wanted to just play in the kitchen with no recipe at all. After eye-balling the batter, I baked them in mini muffin cups. They rose nicely and had a fluffy texture. Wish the roast had turned out as well.

You could play around with the cheese and herb combination. I couldn't taste the coconut or the egg at all. By using protein powder in the mix, you don't have to use as many eggs as you need with coconut flour alone. Jack cheese was very mild. I think it would be awesome to add some really flavorful cheese, such as feta, as well. Just a tablespoon or two, not to replace the Jack or Cheddar.

I think I might try a batch in a regular muffin tin. The bigger popovers just might make excellent mini buns for burgers or sandwiches. That would be fun in my Bento lunches. Oh the possibilities.

Herbed Cheese Popovers

1/2 cup Coconut Master Mix
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded mild cheese
1/4 scant cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon herb or herb blend

Mix all ingredients together. Spoon into greased mini muffin cups and bake at 400 until puffed and golden brown.

Simple, so simple. Especially when the master mix is already waiting. Just another idea to get us through the dinner rush without reaching for the Wonder bread.

Rettakat's Coconut Flour Buns

My online friend and fellow Diner, Rettakat, asked for a bun recipe made with coconut flour. Well, my order from Netrition finally came in, but then we promptly got the mother of all cold viruses. I have been operating on a slower tempo the last few days, constantly stopping to sneeze, cough or wipe my nose. When my nose was literally dripping on my computer keyboard, I decided the blog could wait. Too much information, I know. But hey, at least it is not H1N1, and you can't catch it from me online!

Now back to these buns. I tried the master baking mix yesterday with coconut flour. Amazing! I like these better than the soy batch. The master mix is guess work. I just looked at all of my coconut flour recipes and "guestimated." I have only tried the buns so far, but I will keep you posted on other adaptations to use with the master mix.

Coconut Flour Master Mix

1 cup unflavored whey protein powder
2/3 cup coconut flour (Aloha Nu)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Blend everything together and store in an airtight jar or bag.

With this mix, I made the best buns using my muffin top pan. This is a really useful gadget. I used a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon to get mine. They didn't carry it in the store, but ordered it for me and even shipped it to my house for free.

These buns are lighter textured than the soy buns. They take on the flavor of the seasonings, so add what you like. We ate ours as hamburger buns last night. Pretty darn good. Because Rettakat can't eat soy, I hurried up and made these. Wish she lived close enough to drop them by her house. (maybe not, I'd probably share this cold virus too) But I can name them after her, and think about her every time I make them. You might want to read her inspirational blog too.

Rettakat's Coconut Buns

3 ounces cream cheese
3 eggs
1/2 cup Coconut Master Mix
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Beat cream cheese and eggs well. Stir in parmesan, onion and garlic. Add coconut flour and mix well. Let the batter rest for five minutes. Spoon into greased muffin top pan. Bake at 350 until golden brown. Makes 6 buns.

Like the soy buns, these probably spoil rather quickly, so store them in the fridge or freezer. I then heat them up again in the toaster oven.

Another Diner, Kathy, made buns using gluten free garbanzo/fava bean flour. Can't say I have ever tried that, but it sounds interesting. Low carb is nothing if not an adventure into thinking outside the box!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Suprise Bento Lunch

For this bento lunch, I had planned the Deli Delights. The rest was just a surprise from the goodies I keep on hand. My favorite new thing is the cheese crisps. That is the find from the grocery store last weekend. Usually, I make my cheese crisps from the American/Swiss cheese we buy at Sam's. But I saw this processed cheese at the grocery store and John told me to go ahead and try it. We both knew he wouldn't like it and because it is CHIPOTLE flavored.

Oh my heavens these are good. For a girl who really misses her Doritos, this does the trick. In the past, I had tried adding a jalapeno to the microwave baked treats, but the pepper always made the cheese stay wet and leathery. These, however, are crispy through and though. Even better, they take only 45 seconds in the microwave oven to have a batch ready. I cut each slice into 16 pieces, so I get lots of little crisps. Warning. These are spicy and these are addictive.

Each slice has one carb and 60 calories. The brand just seems to be called Chipotle Pasturized Processed Cheese Food Slices. The real sign is on there. I got mine at Food Pyramid.

Now on to the rest of the lunch I have packed. I found these fun skewers at the dollar shop. They make deli roll ups feel like a party. Those are just ham wrapped around pickle spears and string cheese. Red bell pepper and olives are on the kabob too.

I also packed some home made vanilla butter nut yogurt. Too good to believe. There is a brownie made with the master mix I made last weekend. Next to the cheese crisps are some leftover green beans sprinkled with lemon pepper.

That is better than a Lunchable any day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Listen Up Type 2 Diabetics

As most of you Diners know, my family became true low carbers when my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. We are able to keep his blood sugars manageable through diet alone at this point. His A1c went from nearly eleven to the sixes.

My firstborn son, though still a carby boy, has seen the changes in his family first hand. Health improved for his dad, but also, my middle son lost a great deal of weight through carb restriction, and saw most of his insulin resistance side effects diminish.

This year as a senior in Business Administration, Andrew is in a class which requires his group to form a new company. He and his team are doing research, product development, marketing strategies and basically everything one would need to do to launch a business enterprise. My son's pitch involved the formation of a business catering to type two diabetics. His professors love the idea, seeing the impact it could have on a growing number of sufferers. His proposed company, that is the logo pictured above, will provide health training, a cookbook and menu, online community support, exercise recommendations and accountability, etc. I think it sounds like a wonderful business plan. They are currently in the research phase of this new venture. That is where you can help out.

Andrew and his team are seeking type two diabetics to take a short survey. The information will be used to prove the necessity of support and education to help people adapt a healthy diabetic lifestyle. It will only take a couple of minutes to take the survey, and the group will not be asking your contact information, nor will they be selling data to anyone. This is strictly university research and you remain anonymous.

If you can help him out, here is the link:

Feel free to forward this link to other diabetics you know. Thanks from a bunch of poor college kids. By the way, they will be competing in a business competition with this plan, and might win a cash reward.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To Go or Not to Go...Breakfast Sandwiches

Been waiting all day for my order from Netrition to arrive. Just got here. I will have some fun experimenting. I bought some of the powdered peanut butter, and I can't wait to try it out.

Until then, this is the breakfast we had today. Sausage Sandwiches made with buns I made on prep day. These are really good, very quick to make, and easy to take with you on your commute. I use pre-cooked sausage patties and sliced cheese to make these super simple!

I am going ahead and posting the recipe I used this weekend for a master baking mix. This one uses soy flour. I know lots of folks avoid soy altogether, so I will also be making a batch using the coconut flour I just received in my Netrition box. I have been out of that for a while. This should be fun. So far, all the recipes I have tried with the soy based master mix have worked very well. Using it as a blend seems to cut down that soy aftertaste. Coconut flour is a bit more temperamental, but I am going to give it a good try, anyway.

Master Mix with Soy

1 cup soy flour
2 cups unflavored whey protein powder
2 Tablespoons powdered milk
2 Tablespoons granulated Splenda
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

This mix can be used for the buns I made to serve our sausage in. I use a muffin top pan and bake them, but you could fry them on a griddle, like pancakes. I like them better than Oopsies because they are much more forgiving and less time consuming. Here is the recipe for making buns.

Master Mix Buns
1/2 cup Master Mix with Soy
8 ounces softened cream cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Use a mixer to blend cream cheese and eggs. Add in master mix and seasonings. Spoon into muffin top pan and bake until golden brown. Alternately, spoon onto a hot griddle and cook like pancakes. Makes 12 buns. Carb count depends on the type of protein powder used.

My middle son just headed back to college. It was so good to see him. The next time my big guys will be home is Thanksgiving. Looking at the calendar, I see that is not too far away. As usual, I have some planning to do. I watched an infomercial the other night for an indoor turkey fryer. Done in two hours? What would it be like to sleep in on Thanksgiving morning? Oh well, they never even gave the price. I'm betting that is not good news. Besides, where would I store it in my tiny kitchen? My old turkey roasting oven, a hand me down, got ruined when leaking motor oil got left in it for months in the garage. Boy, did that stink! I guess it will be another oven baked bird for us. Hey, and a smoked turkey too, this year. Sounding better already.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Encheelada" Casserole

Put on your best Speedy Gonzales voice and serve this up for dinner! Those Chipotle Chicken Shreds are right at home in these enchiladas. Better than a restaurant meal, and easy to assemble. I use jarred enchilada sauce--the carbs are not too bad.

The recipe calls for low carb tortillas, but the store I went shopping at this weekend was asking over 5 dollars for eight tortillas. Not going there! Here is how I made a crepe to stand in for the tortillas. It worked well. They didn't even stick to the pan!

"Leesa's" Encheelada Crepes

2 eggs
1/2 cup low carb baking mix
2 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon coconut oil

Beat eggs. Add remaining ingredients and blend until lump free. Spoon into a well oiled skillet. Cook until the bubbles on the top have broken and the crepe has lost its shine. Turn and cook until lightly browned. Makes 4.

The casserole is in the Multiply Meals section of the cookbook, but since I already had the chicken cooked, I just made enough for the four of us tonight. Even with that, I filled up two small casserole dishes. Not a leftover to be found. They liked 'em.

I made my own baking mix this weekend. I will post more about that later. So far, I am liking it. Now off to spend some more time with my boy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

When Chicken is Cheap

Great sale on boneless skinless chicken breast this week. Of course, they were sold in bulk packaging, but that is fine. I am never without a plan! My dear hubby brought we home a whopper big package of chicken that weighed in at 12 pounds. Partially frozen, of course. That does make it a bit more of a challenge. Here's what I did:

I let the solid lump of chicken thaw until I could easily remove the outer cuts. These, I made for dinner as Chicken George. Last night we chose Chicken Parisienne. That is a grilled breast topped with a sophisticated cream cheese and sherry sauce from the E.Z. Fix section of the e-book.So decadent and rich. My college boy really appreciated it. I made some browned butter sauce green beans on the side. These were much improved over those tough asparagus stems from the other day. That meal is pictured above, sorry the photo is not the greatest, I am still trying to figure out this new camera.

While that was going, I pulled some more chicken out and put it in the crock pot for Chipotle Chicken Shreds. That cooked on low all night long, getting all soft and spicy with green chiles. Yum. This is our Triple Play meal for the week, even though it is in the Freezer Favorites section. Flexibility is good. We will see the chicken in a soup, quesadillas and enchiladas later in the week. That's done.

By the time I peeled away all those breast portions, the center was still frozen. I took advantage of that fact to make it into a dump meal. This time, I chose the Steakhouse Special marinade. It just took a minute to whisk that up, pour it into ziploc bags and then add the chicken. Now I have some tasty bird waiting in the freezer for another week. After all, who wants to eat chicken every night of the week? On second thought, I think my hubby could...

Today has been a productive Prep Day, although I did veer off course just a tad. Rather than making a breakfast Multiply Meal, I made a master mix of low carb baking mix. So far it seems to be working well. I used it to make a Mexican Fudgey Pie and 12 low carb buns for burgers and sausage sandwiches. Those two recipes will help cover four breakfasts this week. Yes, chocolate will be breakfast--instead of muffins. It's legal. Hope there is enough left; John keeps sneaking slices. I had better wrap that and hide it soon.

I also made a discovery for a new twist on an old low carb snack that is just too easy, and great for those of us who appreciate a little spice. I even managed to squeeze in making a dry mix for ranch dressing. I added that to some home made yogurt, and it tastes fabulous--especially with my hot new snack. I'll show you how these go together in blogs later this week. Right now, I have a boy home from college, and I would rather spend my evening with him. So I am out of the kitchen and off the computer for now. We are building our first fire of the season in the fireplace. Not counting camp fires, of course. We had plenty of those last weekend. I swear I can still smell the smoke in my car!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Four Cheese Chicken Casserole

Another yummy casserole. A take off of the Ultra Chicken Casserole in the e-book. As the name suggests, this dish uses four glorious cheeses--cream cheese, Jack cheese, Parmesan cheese and even a small portion of Velveeta. (it was a great price at the grocery store a couple weeks back.) With the help of pre-baked Chicken Cubes and frozen broccoli, this goes together easily.

Four Cheese Chicken Casserole

1 pound frozen broccoli spears
1 to 1 1/2 pound chicken cubes
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
2 ounces Velveeta or processed American cheese
1/4 cup prepared bacon bits

Lightly steam broccoli spears. Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick spray. Add broccoli to the dish. Top with thawed Chicken Cubes. In a microwave safe bowl, combine cream cheese, cream, water and Velveeta. Cook on full power until mixture can be stirred smooth. Add Parmesan cheese, garlic and onion powders and salt. Pour the cream mixture over the vegetables and chicken. Sprinkle the shredded Jack cheese and bacon bits over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Let cool ten minutes before serving.

Number two son is on his way home from college for fall break. Can't wait to hug his neck! I plan to offer him some good home cooking this weekend too. Just about anything I make would beat the cafeteria food!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Simple is Better

A 'Dump' meal. Doesn't sound too appetizing, but John told me three or four times how good it was. (even though he has had it before) That has to be a success. Tonight's no brainer dinner was Mediterranean Chicken Dump in the Freezer Favorites section of the e-book. After class was over and errands run, all I had to do was pull the dump meal out of the freezer and pop it into a dish and into the oven. Nope, I didn't even thaw! This one was waiting in a ziploc bag. An hour or so in the oven, starting with a cold oven so as not to break my dish, and the marinated chicken with olives and peppers smelled divine. It baked while I did other chores. With a fresh green salad, dinner was on the table with almost no effort.

Had to use the old camera, because we still can't get a new one to work. I think maybe it has too many options. Just like this dinner, sometimes simple is better.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Twice Baked Squash Casserole

So bummed. My hubby used some of his overtime money to buy me a new camera. We have tried all day, but can't seem to get this thing to take a decent picture. It won't focus properly. We had trouble with the lighting option. (too many choices if you ask me) Now the batteries are run down and I cannot get a photo of tonight's dinner. We even had to reformat the memory card, so I can't use it with the old camera either. So instead of giving a glimpse of the Tac-ole cups Multiply Meal from tonight, I will post one of the casseroles I made last week for you to see.

This is a completely delicious casserole. Because I am feeding only three right now, I made a small version with only half a spaghetti squash. It will easily double to use a whole squash, and this would be an excellent addition to holiday meals.

Twice Baked Squash Casserole

3 lb spaghetti squash (1.4 - 1.6 kg)
1/2 lb bacon (250 g)
16 oz cream cheese (500 g)
1/2 cup heavy cream (125 mL)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack (500 mL)
1/2 tsp onion powder (2 mL)
1 tsp J & D’s Natural
Bacon Salt®(5 mL)

Cut squash in half and bake at 350°F (180°C) 45 minutes or until tender. Alternately you may steam the squash. Using a fork, scrape the inside to form spaghetti-like strands. Use kitchen shears to cut the strands to approximately 2 inches (5 cm).

Fry the bacon, let cool and crumble. Set aside.

In small bowl, soften the cream cheese by heating briefly in the microwave oven and beat well with the cream. Stir the cream cheese mixture into the squash. Gently stir in half of the bacon bits, shredded cheese, onion powder and the bacon salt. Pour this mixture into an oiled 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) casserole dish. Top with remaining bacon bits and bake at 325°F (160°C) 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serves 12.

1 serving
336 calories
12 g protein
28 g fat
9 g carbs

Helpful Hint:  J & D’s Bacon Salt® is available in several flavors. I like the hickory flavor, but the natural has no gluten or MSG, which you may also want to avoid.

This dish is a bit like the hashbrown casseroles we have at family gatherings. I have to force myself to keep from eating the entire dish. I have made it with sour cream as well. To make it even prettier for holidays, you can add some diced green onion. The original dish was a baked potato casserole I ate at a church potluck. The bacon bits and green onion were arranged in stripes on top of the dish. Very pretty, but the onions have to be added just a few minutes before the dish is completed, or the color is not so nice.

I am eating some delicious Tac-ole Cups as I type. I have one more batch to go into the oven, then I will be stocked up on these delicious treats. So handy to have in the freezer for busy days. Hopefully, my camera will work tomorrow. I think John plans to head back to the store to exchange it. I thought new technology was supposed to make things easier.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Butter Them Up!

Tonight's dinner evolved into a butter theme. I was tinkering around in the kitchen this afternoon while my Pork Chop Alfredo was cooking. It didn't need my assistance, so I played around a bit with my side dishes. That is where the butter comes in.

I picked up a can of asparagus the other day. I have never tried the canned variety before, but I thought it might be less costly and wasteful than buying fresh. I was wrong! By the looks of it, the canners did not like cutting off those tough ends either. The asparagus spears alternated between extreme mush and total stem. It was really hard to eat this. To make it even worse, I had made the most delectable sauce to go with the asparagus. I would definitely recommend it with the fresh version. I think I will make it to serve again with other veggies. So sad it had to go on those crummy asparagus spears!

Browned Butter Sauce

2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Cook butter in a small pan until it begins to brown. Watch it closely. Add the vinegar and soy sauce. They will foam up as you stir them in. Pour over vegetables.

In addition, I made a low carb toast using the recipe of my e-friend, Jennifer. You can find the recipe over here at her blog. I had a half a can of pumpkin left in my fridge, so I threw together a Pumpkin Butter with low carb ingredients. I might tweak this a bit more, but this is what I came up with today.

Pumpkin Butter

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup water mixed with 1/2 tube of apple bottled water flavoring
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of ginger
pinch of cloves
sweetener to taste
1 teaspoon gelatin

Mix all ingredients except gelatin. Heat on low heat in a saucepan for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add sweetener to taste. Add gelatin and mix well. Chill the mixture. Use as a spread with cream cheese.

John didn't like the pumpkin butter too much, but I like it. He never has eaten pumpkin butter or dip, or even pie, even though he likes pumpkin muffins. Go figure.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Camping Foods for Low Carbers!

We had a great time camping this weekend, despite the fact that temperatures were well below normal for this time of year. Our family friends are also low carbers, so many of the meals were "Diner Friendly."

For our first lunch, we made a pot of stone soup. Remember that old child's folk tale about the villagers who added just a bit of this and a bit of that to make a community pot of soup from a starter of water and a stone? Well, all the camper families bring a surprise ingredient for the pot. This year's version was tasty and low carb too. We had sausages, cabbage, onion, bell peppers, chicken and rutabaga. Everyone liked it, and it is always a fun activity.

For dinner, my family had Hobo Dinners--foil packages stuffed with meat and veggies. Very easy to cook on a real campfire. NeeCee's bunch ate the Gumbo that was featured in the last newsletter. Yummy. For breakfast the next day, we both chose a campfire skillet. Ours was Cowboy Comfort Breakfast with sliced cheese rather than cream cheese. NeeCee's family had a scramble with bacon and eggs with peppers and onions. It looked pretty for campfire food. They also had diet cocoa.

I made my smores so we wouldn't feel left out when the marshmallows started toasting. I used the recipe from Low Carb Luxury. Mine still ended up with a bit of gelatin settling on the bottom. They are not too tasty alone, but were really close to the real thing when eaten as the top layer of a smore. To try that recipe for marshmallows, go here.

For the chocolate, I made a batch of chocolate coconut fudge. I made up the recipe as I went. I hope these measurements are right...

Chocolate Coconut Fudge

2 squares unsweetened chocolate
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/8 cup DaVinci syrup, any flavor
1/3 cup vanilla protein powder
1/4 cup Splenda or equivalent sweetener
3 packets Truvia
Cocoa roasted almonds

Melt chocolate in a measuring cup in the microwave. Add packets of Truvia or other non sucralose sweetener. Set aside. Beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add syrup, protein powder sweetener and coconut flakes. When well mixed, blend in chocolate. Pour into an 8x8 inch foil or paper lined pan. Press 16 almond into the top of the fudge, to make 16 pieces. Chill and cut into serving pieces.

To make smores, add a low carb marshmallow to the top of a piece of fudge. Enjoy. I didn't bother to make a substitute for the graham cracker. It is flavorful enough without it. Everyone at our camp out liked them--all except the avowed coconut hater, that is.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cheese Puppies

So the omelet puffs evolved. I am so excited about this new creation. I think these are very close to breaded, fried mozzarella sticks. Christian thinks that they are closer to hush puppies. Whatever they are, they are fabulous.

The ingredient list is simple--cheese, egg, Carbquik and flavorings of your choice. Of course, to get them shaped like hush puppies, you have to have that nifty little pancake puff pan. Just mix the ingredients together and bake them on top of the stove. I am pretty sure if you don't mind flatness, you could cook these up as little pancakes.

I used Monterey Jack cheese because that is what I generally keep on hand. We buy the big bags from Sam's Club. In half the batch I added dried onion, but that didn't seem to make too much of a difference.

Cheese Puppies

1 1/2 cups grated cheese
1 egg
2 Tablespoons Carbquik
pinch salt
garlic, onion powder, flavoring of choice

Blend all ingredients. Mixture will be quite thick. Pour into an oiled puff pan over medium heat. Cook until mixture is set on the bottom. Turn each puff 1/2 turn allowing batter to flow into the well. Repeat with remaining puffs. When the base is again set, turn again. Cook until evenly browned all over. Makes 7 puffs.

Quick Marinara Dip

1 Tablespoon tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons water
dash of garlic powder
dash of Italian seasoning

Blend all ingredients and use as a dipping sauce for Cheese puppies.

I am testing one to see if it freezes well. I think these would be great substitutes for garlic bread with Italian dishes. They could be made with herbs to make a nice side for any meal in place of a dinner roll. If they do freeze well, it would be so great to be able to pull them from the freezer to compliment a meal.

They would even make fantastic mini sandwiches for an appetizer during the holidays. I'm sure I will find some more uses as well.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Perfect Puffs--Muffin Balls

I am a sucker for a few things. Among them-- a great bargain. Add to that my curiosity with kitchen gadgets, and we have a new recipe. The other day, I found myself at Big Lots with a twenty percent coupon in hand and a kitchen gadget calling me from the clearance rack. I have passed up this gadget on the infomercials, though I do admit sitting mesmerized. (as most any cooking show will do) I have even passed by the Perfect Puff pan in that same clearance aisle. But this time, it was so cheap. I just had to try it. Yes. No. Yes. No. Finally, my mom said she would buy it and give it to me to try. You see, I have this tiny kitchen, filled to overflow with kitchen gadgets. But if it is actually hers...

This is not really the pan from TV I found out after I got home. It is an imitation, but pretty much the same system as the Pancake Puff, as seen on TV. This skillet is not cast iron like that one, but hey we paid about three bucks. It seems to work the same, although I did have some trouble resting it securely on my gas burners.

Not making standard pancakes, I searched online for a while. Nothing struck me. I guess this gadget is not the next low carb sensation. I decided to try one of my muffin recipes. I chose Nana Nut Muffins, only to discover that I was almost out of banana flavoring. So, I made banana maple batter instead. Just as tasty, I am sure.

One site showed me how to turn these little treats like the Danish cooks making Aebleskiver pancake puffs, so I mimicked their technique. Although the pan heated unevenly, and I burned a couple of puffs, the turning technique worked very well. The muffin batter is thin enough to turn the puffs three times during the baking to make a really round puff. The kit comes with a plunger device to fill the treats with a pudding or jam. I used a sweetened cream cheese mix. After I filled all the puffs, I used the extra as icing. Gotta say, these were fun to make. They are just a bit bigger than a mini muffin. One batch made ten.

I would like to try some savory puffs as well. Adapting the recipes to low carb is a bit of a challenge, but it is always fun to play in the kitchen! I'll keep you posted on more experiments. Here is my starter recipe:

Perfect Puffs

1/2 cup ground flax
1/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sweetener of choice
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons oil
1 1/2 teaspoons flavoring (banana, maple, etc.)
1 ounce chopped nuts

4 ounces cream cheese
sweetener and flavoring to taste

Mix dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients and blend into dry. Let batter rest for five minutes. Preheat pan until water sizzles. Fill wells in puff pan nearly to the top. When a "crust" has formed along the bottom, turn the batter a half turn and let batter run into the bottom of the well. Do this for all puffs. Turn again, once more putting the wet batter on the pan base. This will form a ball shape. Keep over flame until batter is set. Remove from pan.

Combine frosting ingredients and load into the plunger. When cool enough to handle, inject the cream cheese frosting inside each ball. Add remaining frosting to the tops of each puff.

These are a good size for lunchboxes and Bento lunches. With the filling inside, they don't really need a frosting, so they would stay neat. I am sure that there are lots of flavor combos which would be quite tasty. I think I will try omelet balls next. But I still have to get cracking on those marshmallows again. The rain is delaying our camping, but we are postponing to later in the weekend when the sun promises to return.

Mayan Cocoa Spiced Tea

This is probably one of those interesting flavors that you either love or hate. I really like it, but I have always been known to hide strange things in my chocolate. I saw this tea a while back at Big Lots. Since it was only two dollars, I decided to take a chance on it. Usually I am a coffee drinker, but spiced teas allure me, and I succumb to temptation every fall.

I read that one reviewer says this tea is like drinking dish water from a chocolate fondue pot. Aside from the fact that I never drink my dishwater, I must object. I think it is subtle and interesting. The spices don't knock you over, neither does the cocoa flavor. I do suggest using cream in the tea to give it a richness, and adding some sweetener. I drink my iced tea straight, but this becomes dessert tea for me. If you are adventurous, give it a try. A nice sweet tea in the evening is often what I need to keep me from grabbing snack food instead. This one is low caffeine too, so it won't keep you awake. If you can't find it at Big Lots, it can be ordered from Amazon as well.

Our weather here is really rainy today, just perfect for a snuggle with a cup of tea.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Spaghetti Squash and Lisa's Sweet Sauce

I was home enjoying the cool fall air this afternoon, and baking a spaghetti squash in the oven. I made a quick batch of Lisa's Sweet Sauce, using sausage rather than the usual ground beef. Since there are only three of us, I halved the recipe. Nice easy supper--once you know how to prep a spaghetti squash. I just bake mine whole, then cut it after it is soft. Much easier than trying to cut a tough, whole squash. If you want the recipe, it is in the e-book in the Freezer Favorites section.

Since that was so easy, I experimented with the marshmallows for the smores. Those did not turn out so well. I think I beat my egg whites too much. I ended up with a gloppy mess. The taste is okay, but the appearance was awful. I then tried to see what heating would do. It did take away the roughness, but I ended up with a line of gelatin at the bottom of the pan. I will run to the store for some more ingredients and give these another go. When at first you don't succeed...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pumpkin Coconut Muffins

Don't ya just love all the pumpkin recipes this time of year? The spices are so fragrant and delicious! I remember quite a few years back, I got together with friends to do holiday baking. That was so much fun. Maybe I should do that again with some of my low carb Diners who live around here...

I digress. One of the dishes we made back then was a wonderful apple coconut loaf. The coconut kept the loaves moist and flavorful. I wondered if a similar recipe with pumpkin would work. So, I went out and found a simple recipe for pumpkin muffins, and added a few changes to use what I have on hand. The original recipe is at Low Carb Luxury, here. My tweaks make a super moist muffin that isn't eggy at all. You can't really pick out the flavor of the coconut, but it does give the muffin a good texture.

Pumpkin Coconut Muffins

Blend together the dry ingredients:
2/3 cup vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup no sugar added shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon baking powder
dash salt
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sweetener or equivalent

Blend together wet ingredients:
1 cup canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons coconut oil

Mix wet and dry ingredients. Spoon into sprayed muffin cups and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. (15 for mini-muffins, 20 plus for full sized muffins) Sprinkle nuts on top if desired. Makes 12 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins.

These are our muffins for the week, some to taste tonight, and more for two breakfasts and a dessert or snack.

It is prep day, so I am also making some BBQ Country Ribs for our Triple Play meal, and I made three entrees of Mediterranean Chicken. Updates later on how I manage to turn barbecued ribs into three different entrees. That might be a challenge, but the price was right! Right now, I am planning a Barbecue Pork Hash. We will be camping out over the weekend, so I am also planning some camp friendly foods. Neecee has me attempting to make low carb marshmallows, so stay tuned to see if I am able to pull off a low carb smore. I think I can do it, but will it be worth the trouble? Oh well, always up for a challenge!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Unjun Burgers

When I was little, I had a hard time pronouncing the word onion. Unfortunate, because in my family, onions were a true side dish. I don't think my mother ever ate a sandwich without a slice of onion on the side. On the sandwich too. Onion slices always accompanied our bowl of beans (yes, here in Oklahoma we are known to eat an entire bowl of nothing but beans--not bean soup, just beans.)I remember helping to plant onions as a little girl. Back then, I called them "unjuns."

I understand that onions are a little on the carby side. I have also read that onions don't necessarily raise the blood sugar for all diabetics. We enjoy them in moderation, so the Unjun Burger was born. I adore grilled onions. The carmelized flavor is divine!

This evening, we enjoyed a Burger Buffet. The Unjun Burger was one of my choices tonight. We also took advantage of having precooked strips of bacon. Christian ate three of The Ranch burgers, a yummy combo of ranch dressing and bacon. My other burger was the Makin' Bacon. I'm betting my hubby will choose that when he gets home from his long day running football games on air. Of course, maybe he will want The Coney Island Burger. We still have leftover chili in the freezer too. Having a well stocked freezer can offer up a myriad of burger possibilities! If you are tired of eating the same old burger, check out some of the ideas in the E.Z. Fix section, on the page with Burger Bonanza.

Friday Lunch

Just another Friday Lunch in my bento box. This one featured chicken strips with honey mustard dressing to dip them in. So yummy. I also had some cheddar cheese cut in tulip shapes with a mini cookie cutter, and two jalapeno dills. Those were a nice contrast to the sweet dressing. For my veggie, I also had a side of Nana's Coleslaw with a Kick. It is so good on busy lunch making mornings to have that already made up. Come to think of it, the chicken was already cooked too. All I really had to do was mix up the salad dressing. Want that recipe? It is in the e-book with my Pooh Bear Salad, but I will put it here anyway, in a single serving size rather than the full salad portion.

Pooh Bear Dressing
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon mustard, any style
sprinkle of seasoning salt
1 packet sweetener (mol to taste)

I love chicken dipped in this dressing! Even at room temperature or chilled, it is packed with flavor! Sorry this is so late posting, I had a living room full of teenagers over last night for a movie.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Coconut Mousse Dessert Shots

Tonight's dinner was a Multiply Meal--Chicken Blanco. I wanted a little dessert, so I stayed with the white theme and made some creamy little dessert shots with coconut.

I love toasted coconut, and was lucky enough to find unsweetened coconut at my regular grocery store last weekend. Usually, I have to make a run to Whole Foods to get that. These are nice big flakes too. Here is the recipe I came up with using my bullet style blender. I am out of liquid sucralose right now, so I used Splenda packets. Use whatever sweetener you like.

Coconut Mousse Dessert Shots

1/3 cup heavy cream
2 Splenda packets
4 ounces cream cheese
4 tablespoons Vanilla DaVinci syrup
3 Tablespoons coconut flakes

1. Lightly toast the coconut flakes.
2.Use the bullet blender to whip the cream. Put whipped cream into a small bowl and add one packet of sweetener and 2 Tablespoons of syrup. Stir well.
3. In the blender, whip together the cream cheese, one packet of Splenda and the remaining 2 Tablespoons of syrup. Once this is well blended, stir in 2 Tablespoons of coconut.
4. Gently blend the cream cheese mixture with the whipped cream.
5. Alternate tiny bits of coconut and mousse in dessert glasses. End with a sprinkle of coconut. Makes 3 dessert shots.

This dessert was quite nice. It is so nice to have portion control with my shot glasses. I probably would have eaten the whole batch.