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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Thrifty Kitchen: Cilantro and Baby Food

The hubby did some grocery shopping for me today since we are still fairly snowbound and he didn't want to shovel the porch for me to leave the house. He doesn't mind climbing over the mountain of snow and ice that is my front walkway. I do. Cilantro was on my list. Much as I adore my Knorr Cilantro cubes, there are times when only fresh will do. I scheduled in a couple of meals this week which call for fresh cilantro. Even with two meals coming up, I would never manage to use the whole bunch. Since the closest grocery store is not known for its produce department, the cilantro is already a bit aged. I decided to preserve it for better days.

A few month's ago, Big Lots, one of my favorite spots as a bargain hunter, had a drug store sell out. I watched this system of containers for home made baby food. Once they went on sale for 75% off, I pounced. Normally I use ice cube trays to freeze small quantities of foods, then pop them out and store them in a ziplock bag. But these little beauties come with their own lid. How cool is that? Now I can prep the cilantro and store it in the freezer like that.

Of course, I could still pop them out and place them in a bag. I will do that when I have only a few cubes left. But I have been known to forget and leave broth or green chilies uncovered a few days. Now if that happens, the freezer burn will not set in. When my boys were little, I did make a lot of my own baby foods. These would have been wonderful.

So to prep the cilantro, I just chopped it up coarsely.

Then I packed the wells in the tray. I topped each off with some water. Added the lid, then into the freezer they went. So simple, and it saved me that amazing 50 cents worth of cilantro that would have gone bad. Hey don't tease me. Every penny counts!

These cilantro ice cubes will be fine added to soups or steamed vegetables. To use them in a casserole or sauce, I will just thaw them in a slotted spoon or paper towel.

I haven't gotten too much of my prep day cooking accomplished because I have been finishing up the newsletter for February. This one is featuring international recipes. I like to add in unusual meals every now and then so we don't get bored or feel deprived. It is also a fun way to celebrate the Olympic games coming up. We always love to follow those. Here's to the fun!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Italian Hobos

So far so good--we still have electricity here. The ice wasn't so bad afterall, but the snow just keeps coming down. The lights have flickered three times as I have been loading my photos for tonight's blog. I don't mind being snowbound a few days as long as we have electricity.

I wanted an excuse to heat up the oven tonight, so we had a hobo meal buffet. We all ended up with Italian themed foil packets. That's fine. The ingredients all went together really well. The basis of tonight's packets were chicken breast tenders, but these would be excellent with Italian sausage. The veggies we had to choose from: bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, onion, cauliflower and broccoli. We all went with garlic, onion powder and Italian seasonings, but you could add anything in the spice rack to suit individual tastes.

I reheated some leftover rice for the carby boy. That took almost no time. He also chose to pour jarred Alfredo sauce over the top of his chicken and veggies. Both guys also got a sprinkle of cheese, but I refrained, as I am cutting calories.

Now the kitchen is warm, stomachs are full and everyone got just what he wanted. We are all safe inside watching the snow and a Netflix movie. Two more reasons I really don't mind winter. Snow has a way of slowing our schedules down. At least here in Oklahoma where we don't live with lots of the white stuff for several months!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cold Day, Warm Broth

The freezing rain is falling. A wicked winter storm is upon us. School was canceled and we are inside for the duration. (Well, the boy and I are safe--Hubby will have to be out in it, such is the life of a radio man) Having already had two cups of coffee this morning, I wanted something warm but not sweet. A cup of hot broth is prefect to ward off the chills of winter.

Last week I picked up a few cans of my favorite broth, College Inn Chicken with Herbs and Lemon. This is good stuff. I have purchased it at Big Lots for several years. It never seemed to be one those "one time only products." But when I looked on the company website for a photo, they didn't have it listed. Maybe it is discontinued after all. If so, head out to Big Lots and get some. The flavor, if you like lemon as I do, is so much better than regular broth.

Of course, if it is gone forever, it is still easy to add a shake of Mrs. Dash and a squirt of lemon juice to any canned broth. That way you can choose your sodium and fat content. Canned broth runs between 0 and 3 carbs per cup, with 5-20 calories or so. A pretty good nutritional bargain anyway you choose. College Inn does still have roasted garlic flavor and vegetable herb flavor. Both are slightly higher carb, but they sure sound good.

Hope and pray power stays on so I can keep you updated!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fajita Time

I love onions. Wish they weren't so carby--but then I have read that they may not affect blood sugars as much as would be expected. There is just something about the smell of sizzling onions and peppers. Hope those blood sugars stayed down tonight. We didn't overdo it.

I just make my fajitas with some lime juice and a sprinkle of garlic and onion powder. That goes into a cast iron skillet so it can be really hot. I ate just the chicken and veggies. John had one low carb tortilla. I made a pot of rice for my carby boy, but I am thinking ahead and plan to add the rice to some chicken soup later this week. That will be good when we are frozen in.

We are facing storm warnings--not for much snow, but ICE. Right now I am not sure if I will have classes to teach tomorrow or not. Pretty sure Friday's classes will be canceled. That could be good or that could be bad. The last time we had an ice event of this magnitude, we were without electricity for a week. Brr. This time, it is supposed to get down to the single digit temperatures, though. If you don't see any updates to this blog, you will know we are all huddled around the fireplace. At least hot dogs on the grill are low carb.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tomato Basil Chicken Three Ways

We are not exactly all on the same menu page around here. While I am completely accustomed to cooking a low carb meal and adding carbs to it for the carby boy, I am having to get even more prepared to make a lower calorie meal for myself as well.

Tonight's Italian dinner was good to go for all of us, with just a few additions here and there. I started off with some good fresh tomatoes and some frozen chicken tenders. By adding some cheese and broccoli, the meal was ready for my diabetic hubby. By adding some pasta, it was good for the boy. I got to eat the same meal without the cheese. That's working like a team.

Tomato Basil Chicken

12 chicken breast tenders
2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 Tablespoons chicken broth
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Thaw the tenders. The microwave works well if time is short. Sprinkle them with garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Brown them in a skillet with the chicken broth or olive oil. When nearly done, add the canned and fresh tomatoes. Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken and stir before serving.

Christian's version with pasta

My version with no cheese

For Christian and John, I added shredded cheese and served the chicken and sauce over pasta. Christian wanted his steamed broccoli on the side. For John, he got the broccoli stirred in with the cheese and chicken. The broccoli was steamed in the microwave with a lemon and herb chicken broth. This dish is similar to my Chicken Cacciatore with Green Beans in the e-book, but the addition of lemon juice really does add a depth to the flavor.

Another dinner that was not too hard on the cook, and a fine example of how to make your favorites with different carb levels. Everybody's happy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Buffalo Burgers

Wowsers are these good! We have eaten buffalo a few times before, but never on a regular basis. Gotta admit, these are worth the price. I picked mine up at the meat counter at Reasor's, a high end choice for me. About $6 a pound. That definitely breaks my usual limit. I am cutting my calories though, so I splurged for me. The guys still got our usual ground chuck since they are not interested in counting calories these days. A quarter pound buffalo patty comes in at only 124 calories. Ground chuck has over 100 more calories per patty.

The buffalo meat stayed very moist and flavorful, even though I simply pan fried it. The meat is naturally very lean, so this surprised me a bit. I took the photo in the pan so you could see how little fat was rendered.All I added was some garlic powder and onion powder. These are too flavorful to "mess up" with steak sauce or ketchup, just let the flavor shine through.

Buffalo are not endangered any more. We even have a couple of ranches here in my part of Oklahoma. I can buy steaks, roasts, even stew meat. Too bad these giants don't roam the prairies anymore. I think the natives of the Plains had some terrific food on their hunter gatherer menu! I will bring the bison, and let my herb expert, Neecee, do the gathering!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mid Winter Grilling

Sunday is John's only day off. He offered to grill today, since we are enjoying a break from the cold. I bought lots of chicken, and seasoned the breasts up really well for the grill. Now, I have lots of smokey, seasoned chicken for future meals. Of course, hot off the grill chicken was our lunch today too.

Today's flavors were Lemon Pepper and Cajun Spice. After they cooled from the grill, I added them to labeled freezer bags.Now we will be able to enjoy that smokey grill flavor on weeknights and in the snow. Great idea for simple meals later. John grilled up some beef patties too. I am not crazy about reheated hamburger patties, but he loves them. He has even been known to eat them on late night snack raids. I think he makes extras, hoping I won't have them plugged into the menu plan somewhere. As long as he is limiting his carbs, I try not to say too much. I don't want him to feel deprived, or he might sneak out for something that would really send his blood sugars up.

Breakfast Burritos

This is a favorite of my guys. We don't have them too often because we don't eat low carb tortillas too often. I have had some Lavash bread that needed to be eaten, so I threw this together for hubby. This was Saturday morning, and I needed to run, so I got a picture, but had no time to blog. I bet you know how life gets! That's when Diner food saves the day--quick and simple. Real.

I just browned some sausage and added some eggs directly to the skillet when the sausage was cooked through. That mixture goes into a low carb tortilla or Lavash bread. One trick that I have learned, is not to stir too much after I add the egg. I try to keep large chunks. Those stay put better in the tortilla. The dogs would rather I stir a lot. They love to catch the chunks that tumble out onto the floor!

This is just as good without the bread, but then that is not much of a recipe, huh? I would add salsa, but hubby is not into that. Guess he is a sausage purist. He accidentally bought hot sausage, which usually would give him a problem, but this time was good. I added some raw sharp cheddar we got at the dairy. This stuff is SO good. It is especially good for cutting back on calories. The flavor is so strong, it doesn't take much cheese to get that awesome taste.

The Chili Plan

Sometimes, when you make a really large pot of something, the leftovers get boring. Not so with a pot of chili. This week I made a pot of 24 Hour Crockpot Chili. We have enjoyed it several different ways.

1. Simple Bowl of Red. Of course it is good straight from the bowl with some diced onion and a sprinkle of cheese.

2. Chili Salad. This one is in the photo. Just layer some salad greens in a bowl. Reheat some chili and pour it over the top. Add your favorite toppings. I crisped a low carb tortilla in the oven to make this salad more like a taco salad.

3. Chili Omelet. Make an omelet as usual, but fill it with chili and cheese. So good any time of day!

4. Vegetable Chili Soup. Make a veggie soup with whatever you have in the fridge. Chop, simmer with a can of beef broth, then add in a few scoops of chili to make a great taste addition.

5. Chili Mac. If you can eat Dreamfield's pasta, cook up some and then add a cup of chili and some cheese. You will think you are a kid again.

6. Chili Dogs. Super quick lunch. Heat some good quality dogs. Add some chili to the plate and drizzle with mustard. Who needs a bun, this is the good stuff.

7. Coney Dog Casserole. Find that recipe here.

8. Chili on Waffles. Another Diner special. See that recipe here.

9. Chili Cheeseburgers. Ladle the chili over a good grilled burger. Mmm.

If you don't like that many ideas for chili, you can always freeze the leftovers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

French Hen in a Tree

Ever have one of those days when the kitchen seems to conspire against you? That would be today. Hen in a Tree is one of our family's favorite casseroles. I was making a Multiply Meal tonight when I discovered that my dry mustard was gone. Not just empty, but no longer in the spice rack. That is a mystery.

So, I decided to improvise. Then I went to the fridge to pick up the cream my hubby got at Sam's last night. Oops again. I guess I forgot to put that on the list. Improvise again. Gotta say, I still like it. In fact, the taste is pretty much the same. Because I was gambling, I only made two casseroles instead of the three. So glad this gamble paid off.

French Hen in a Tree

4 cups chicken, cubed and cooked with seasoning salt
1 can chicken broth
10-12 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 pound frozen broccoli crowns
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used Jack)

Cook chicken breast or thighs, sprinkling with seasoned salt. Steam the broccoli
until tender crisp. While these are cooking, place the broth, mustard and cream cheese in a saucepan. Heat and stir until cream cheese is melted in. Use a hand blender to blend in xanthan gum. Add 1 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and stir. Set this aside until chicken and broccoli are cooked. Chop or slice the chicken. Divide it between two small casserole dishes. Add the cooked broccoli over the chicken. Pour the cheese sauce over everything and stir lightly to coat everything. Top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350.

The dijon flavor is there, but not too overpowering. I served it with a salad. I made a balsamic vinaigrette to add some tartness and sweetness to such a cheesy recipe. Having no cream, this version of the dish has fewer calories than the original recipe in the e-book. I haven't run it in Mastercook yet though. We had some students over this afternoon and evening, and I am just now getting dinner over with. Now I need to go pack the other casserole for the freezer. I know we will appreciate this meal again on another day!

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Little Piggy

For Christmas, my sweet mom gave me this adorable pig casserole dish. Isn't it fun? The coolest thing ever, especially because it is super durable. This little piggy can even go on a burner. Everything in me tells me not to do that, but I have read the directions over and over and they promise it can take it. Tonight's supper went into the oven anyway. My mom ordered it on QVC, but I checked and they are out of stock right now. Too bad. They are made by Technique--maybe they are available elsewhere.

We had one of our favorites--Carnitas made from the pork roast I slow cooked yesterday. So flavorful, tender and easy, I have to serve them often. I just added some chunks of the roast into the pig, and added some chopped onion. Then I poured in a cup of diet soda. My e-book recipe calls for cola, but I didn't have any on hand. I subbed diet Dr. Pepper and it worked out fine. (Yes, I am trying to give that up, but I have enablers around here.) Just a cup made it just a bit sweet and kept it really moist. Before putting it in the oven, I topped the pork chunks with chipotle chili powder, regular chili powder, garlic powder and cumin. In the past, I used Knorr chipotle cubes, but Walmart hasn't had them lately. The cilantro cubes are still there, thank goodness.

To serve, I rolled the meat and some Monterey Jack cheese in low carb tortillas. Just a salad on the side. Oh my, the house smelled good when the hubby got home. What a wonderful welcome for a weary husband.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Big Daddy's Blender Omelet

I was on the bed about one o'clock this morning when today's breakfast inspiration hit me. I had fallen asleep, not intending to, and awoke to an infomercial for the Magic Bullet. I can't believe I had never tried the blender omelet. So, this is what the hubby got for breakfast today.

I can't eat too many eggs; the combo with onions and peppers will kick up my egg sensitivity, and give the belly ache that lasts all day. So this creation was just for the man of the house. (my youngest inherited the egg problem too) John said he likes the flavor. While the blender chopped the veggies almost too fine to see, he tells me there is more consistent flavor in every bite. Here is what I did:

Big Daddy's Blender Omelet

3 eggs
2 slices American cheese
green bell pepper
2 grape tomatoes

Add everything into a bullet blender. Pulse until the large chunks are chopped. Egg will be frothy. Pour into a buttered skillet. When the bottom sets, pull the cooked edges to the center, letting the liquid fill the voids. Cook until egg is no longer wet.

This did seem to have some extra water that must have seeped from the veggies. It made the omelet a bit more tender, and I had a bit of trouble flipping half over to remove it from the pan. In my efforts, it got a little too brown. But hey, I have never mastered the art of omelet flipping. You will probably do better. This is really how we eat, good, bad and ugly!

We attended church last night, so I have the rest of today to do my prep cooking for the week. I have a large roast that is going into my dual crock pot. I am seasoning it two different ways since that will feed us far more than a Triple Play meal usually does. At $1.68 a pound, we got a big roast. I am also making some Nana Nut Muffins and some Steakhouse Chicken Dumps.

My pastor is doing a series on keeping margins in your life. My cooking plan is one way I try to do that. The return on my weekend time is so valuable. Weekdays go so much more smoothly when a plan is in place and when so much is started already. Having meals ready in the freezer gives me the margin to run late, get snowed in, have unexpected company, or just have a day when I would rather spend time out of the kitchen. The plan saves so much mental energy and frees me for other things. Not to mention, it keeps the hubby's blood sugars in check so I can keep him around longer. Margin in the kitchen is there...I do have a few other areas that still need work, though...Maybe I can take what I learned in my kitchen wisdom and apply it all around.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ranch Chicken

Friday night and we just ate burgers. Big half pounders. Yum. Sorry no photo, I was busy grilling some extras for John to take to work tomorrow. Poor man is putting in so much overtime. This week has been so busy for all of us. I added a new class to my teaching schedule, and had lots of last minute prep work to do. Well, classes are over for the week, the frigid weather has moved out, and I think I'll get settled in my new schedule soon. I wanted to take a picture of the grilled chicken salad with blue cheese dressing that I took for lunch today, but I just ran out of time. Maybe I can do better this coming week. Drop me a comment or two to let me know you are still out there. Encouragement helps.

The photo above is from Wednesday. We had baked Ranch Chicken Tenders with a broccoli cauliflower mix. Too simple. Just sprinkle some ranch dressing mix on the chicken and bake or grill it. I make my own ranch dressing mix to control the starch content. These were really good. The veggies were topped with some bottled peppercorn ranch dressing to complete the theme.

I have been trying to be better about drinking green tea lately. I tasted the bottled variety and really liked the flavor. Since then, I have been trying to duplicate the taste. Not much luck yet, but I am open for suggestions from you. I bought a variety mix, so I have lots of flavors and sweetener combos to experiment with. Be sure to let me know if you have a favorite.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dinner on the Road

Usually when dinner is on the road, it means a trip around the drive thru lane. Not for my guys tonight. I made some Bobby-Q Pork for them to take along on the trip back to the campus. I am sad my holidays are over and that my oldest two are back at school, but still I am proud of them too.

I thought you might like to see this nifty little food container we use often. It is a divided container that folds over on itself to make lids. Pretty darn cool. Not quite bento, but cool none the less. It doesn't take up much space and yet holds a lot of food. John got a large serving of pork in one compartment, and some onions, tomatoes and pickles in the others. I bought mine at Garden Ridge. It is made by Sistema if you are looking for them. I wouldn't try soup or puddings in them, but most lunch foods are fine.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back in the Routine Bacon Meatloaf

My oldest son went back to school today. Sad for me, even though I am very proud of him. He will be graduating this spring, and I am thinking he will never really be coming back home to my nest. I know that needs to happen, but it is tough letting go. He was in the best mood all during the holiday break. Must be love. One of these days very soon, it will be a job or grad school, then a wedding and kids. When did I get so old?

I made this meatloaf last week. After it came out of the oven, I realized that it was never gonna feed all five of us. So, I tucked it away until I was back down to four. It was perfect tonight, even though we all still could have eaten a bit more. That happens when something is really delish, and most the diners are men! We eat more than our bodies really need. I am trying to work on that one in my head. The guys? Doubt they care.

Pearson, the middle one, was laughing about how every slice of meatloaf in the college cafeteria is the same size. We wondered how they manage that and pictured one really long tube of meatloaf on an assembly line. Mine is nothing like that--you never know what shape mine will be. Everyone in my house fights over the crunchy ends, so I never make meatloaf in a loaf pan. By just mounding it on a sheet, we all get the "end" flavor.

This one, I rolled up spiral shaped with cheese slices and some strips of bacon. Most of the cheese ran out, but the bacon was awesome. Try it sometime. I used my regular recipe and used the chia seeds to keep it all moist. They have never failed me there. The meatloaf is so good, I had to start eating before I got my photo taken. Sorry, I just couldn't wait.

Tomorrow, boy number two will head back to school. Hubby is working overtime at several odd jobs to help pay for everything that has broken down lately, and all those college expenses. Before I go to bed tonight, I need to have his breakfast and lunch and packed for tomorrow. Dinner will be on the road taking Pearson back to JBU. That is planning ahead by necessity instead of choice. Thankfully, he has a small kitchen at work, or the poor guy would be getting very few hot meals. Guess that is life in the fast lane...but not in the drive thru.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stew Weather

We are still in the deep freeze around here. In fact, this morning, the family awoke to a scene right out of pioneer days. I bet we had ice on the blankets! Couldn't believe how cold it was this morning. John and I couldn't seem to get the nerve to get out of bed. Even though the sunlight was streaming through the bedroom window, our room was frigid. Understand, we have been enduring near 0 temps for several days now, but this morning, it was bone chilling. Reluctantly, we got up and hurried about to get ready for church. John turned on the TV to check the temperature, but found it was only 10 degrees. Yesterday morning, we were chilly, but fine at 7 degrees. Soon our sons stumbled down the stairs complaining that it was freezing upstairs. Usually, it is warm up, cool down. Now we knew we had a problem. Yep, the heater was blowing cold air.

We didn't make it to church, no one was willing to shower in our frigid bathrooms. John ran for firewood, and I found a repair guy who worked on Sundays, and didn't even charge extra. So we built a fire, watched church online together, and prayed that this wouldn't cost much. It is time to pay spring tuition, and we just had another truck repair. God is good. The repair was simple, and it only cost us $59 dollars. Blessings to that repairman who helped us out. I will surely use that service again. Not like the $150 charge from the plumber who stayed 15 minutes. Stupid Plumber. I digress.

So it has been a cold day to say the least. This stew hit the spot for sure. The recipe is back from an earlier blog, here. I used Minute Beef. I think baking today was the only time I have been warm! Who knew that prep day would end up feeling so good! (But no, I did not wash and chop salad today! Hot food only.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cheesy Chili Chicky

I made some crockpot stewed chicken for dinner tonight. I had planned to add one of the simple flavoring ideas I had in the newsletter. Then we had some unexpected company drop by just before dinner. Since he is a college student, not too picky, but able to eat significant quantities, I changed the plan. It was wise to extend the protein portion of this particular meal. So, I brought out the eggs and cream cheese so I could feed a crowd.

I made the Cheesy Chili Chicky recipe out of the e-book, substituting stewed chicken for chicken cubes, and cream cheese for most of the shredded cheese. All the guys liked it. Even though the casserole fit into an 8 x 8 inch pan, it filled everyone up. (Well, that and a couple of sides) Who doesn't like the marriage of green chiles and chicken? It tastes like the insides of a chicken enchilada--just minus the corn tortilla.

For our side, I sauteed some onion and cabbage. Once that was tender, I topped it with about 1/2 a cup of jarred enchilada sauce. Cabbage tastes really good this way, and the enchilada sauce is fairly low carb and lower calorie than the cheese I usually use. The rest of that jar went into some Spanish rice I made for the guys.

To make the cabbage dish, just dice some fresh cabbage, about half a head. Saute with about 1/4 of an onion in a bit of olive oil. When the cabbage is soft and the edges are browning, pour 1/2 cup enchilada sauce into the vegetables. Stir and simmer until they are soft. Salt and pepper to taste. I am thinking this would be good with some sliced black olives too, but I had none.

There you have it. Nothing extravagant. Just a simple Friday night dinner, made easier by having the chicken already stewed and shredded.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Italian Chicken Rollatini

Our weather here is so cold that school was cancelled for the rest of the week. Yikes! I took advantage of the extra time to make a special dinner for my guys tonight. I took a cue from Shelly over at the World According to Eggface, and made some Chicken Rollatinis. To say that my guys liked them would be an understatement. They are ready to hire me out to Olive Garden. Check out Shelly's recipes for more varities of Rollatinis. I changed up her idea for ingredients we like best. These are actually pretty darn healthy!

My husband brought home some rather large chicken breasts from the grocery sale. It seemed the best thing to do with them was to cut them down in size and pound them flat. These babies were thick. I used my can of tomatoes to pound them thinner, and managed to bend the can. This is more work than I usually offer up on a weeknight, but this would be a nice dish for company or special occasions.

Italian Chicken Rollatinis

2-3 chicken breasts
spinach leaves
feta cheese
garlic powder
14 ounce can Italian tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Cut each breast half into 3-4 equal sized chunks. Pound flat. Add a small spoonful of pesto and use a spinach leaf to spread it around the surface of the chicken. Layer more spinach leaves until the chicken is fairly well covered. It will cling to the pesto and stay in place nicely when rolling. Top that with a sprinkle of feta cheese. Roll up the chicken in jelly roll style. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Place the chicken rolls seam down in the skillet. Brown on all sides. Once all rolls are browned, but not cooked through, transfer them to a casserole dish. Sprinkle them with garlic powder. Pour the can of Italian tomatoes over the top. Bake until a thermometer reaches 165 in the center of the largest roll.

I sauteed the spinach in the leftover fats in the skillet. With a touch more garlic, the flavor was excellent. My carby boys also enjoyed some pesto flavored pasta.

My oldest son was working late, and oops, we liked it so much we ate his portion too. So, I am trying a quick and easy version. I browned two whole breasts and placed them in the casserole dish which still had some tomatoes and juices. I topped them with pesto and additional garlic. When they are done, I will slice them and add some feta cheese before serving. I think this will be almost as good, though certainly not as pretty.

Just found out the reason he was so late getting home from work was truck trouble. Temps are in the single digits here tonight, with windchills below 0. Now I have my men out trying to get his truck working. What a night for that. Hope he makes it home soon, and glad dinner is in the oven.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Swedish Meatballs Light

Love, love, love my recipe in the e-book for Swedish meatballs. BUT, I promised to use less cream and cream cheese, so I lightened up the recipe for tonight. Not the same, but definitely good, and far fewer calories.

I changed the meatball recipe to include more spices traditional to the true dish. This is the best part of all. So unusual and very tasty. I served ours with some broccoli and purple cauliflower. I melted just a touch of Swiss cheese and Parmesan for a topping.(In keeping with my Northern Europe theme)

Swedish Meatballs Light

2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
2 Tablespoons Chia seeds
1 cup crushed pork rinds
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon allspice (I was out and subbed with pumpkin pie spice)

Crush pork rinds in a blender to equal 1 cup. Mix all ingredients well. Form into meatballs and bake until browned and cooked through. Serve alone or with a white sauce.

White Swedish Sauce

1 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Use a blender to mix all ingredients. Heat and pour over meatballs.

The carby boys had some rice with theirs. While I was squishing meat, I made a meatloaf too. It will be nice to have that on another night.

Smokie Bites

We had a package of Lit'l Smokies left over from the holidays. I put them to good use this morning for a quick, savory breakfast muffin. The flavor is awesome--really smokey. They are cute too---they look a bit like tiny pigs in a blanket. As cold as it is around here, we are all in blankets anyway!

Smokie Bites

18 Lit'l Smokies or other cocktail sausages
4 eggs
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt
1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring

Beat eggs with yogurt and liquid smoke. Place a sausage in 18 mini muffin cups. Add the egg mixture to the cup. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until egg is set.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Almost Mocha Cappuccino

Normally I would make this with lots of cream, but since I have promised to cut back, I have done a little experimenting. Not too bad. Santa left us some chocolate flavored Folger's coffee. It tastes pretty good, and I couldn't find that the flavoring added any carbs.

This morning, it is so cold, that I was looking to replace a protein shake with something warmer. I love the ease of protein shakes for breakfast, but they do make me even colder. While I was still warm under the covers, I decided to see if this combo would work to make a warm protein drink. Not too rich, by any means, but it is flavorful and has the great frothy top like the real thing. Lots fewer calories too. Make sure you have an extra large cup, as this really fluffs up!

Almost Mocha Cappuccino

1 cup flavored coffee, freshly brewed
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
sweetener to taste (I used chocolate flavored Stevia drops)

When the coffee is still piping hot, pour one cup into a bullet style blender. Add sweetener to taste and one scoop of whey protein powder. Blend until frothy and serve immediately.

This concept would work well with plain coffee, especially if you use some coffee flavorings or DaVinci syrups. If you aren't trying to cut down on calories too, add some cream for a richer flavor. This might be good with a spoonful of coconut oil, but I haven't tried that one. Do watch out for the foamy mustache!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Billy Bob's Rub for Chicken

New Year's Resolutions. I am trying here. I am committing to dropping some pounds this new year. Mine is one of those older female bodies which cannot simply eat low carb and lose weight. I think I spent way too much time yo yo dieting when I was younger. Lots of us find that we have to watch both carbs and calories to some degree as well. If we want to drop pounds, those dreaded words portion control and calorie counting may have to be considered. I won't tell you how many pieces of low carb peanut butter fudge I have eaten since the New Year's Eve party. Portion control. Right.

We began this w.o.e. for John's diabetes. He did lose weight too, but he didn't lose all the weight he could have. I lost very little, actually. So, for a couple of months, I have decided to incorporate more lower calorie meals into our menu. I am cutting back on the amount of cheese and cream I use too. Personally, I could never live long without any cheese, and I am certainly not putting us on a starvation diet ala Kimkims. I certainly don't believe that fat is the enemy, so if this doesn't get results, I may research increasing fats and lowering carbs even more. My grandma used to say there is more than one way to skin a cat. So, that being said, if these recipes work for you great, if not, there are plenty of experts out there with more advice than I can get my head around. I have never been trained as a nutritionist, so go with what works for you, be it high fat, low fat, primal, raw, whatever!!

The recipes in my newsletter for January featured several of the recipes I will be using in my efforts to slim down. I still will be using my Diner system, and this blog will still be the highlights of what we eat. Not all of our meals will be different, but I will not be making any more of that peanut butter fudge. It is time to regain my sensibility. Funny story--I was sitting at dinner last night with friends while our kids had a party. It was humorous how many of us plan on dieting for the new year--but still, none of us have started. Diets are so much more fun to talk about than to do!

Tonight, I made chicken tenders with a spicy rub. They are really flavorful and easy to prepare, especially when the spice blend is already prepped in the spice rack. Just blend it up, sprinkle it on the chicken, pat it in and let it set about 20 minutes. Then the tenders are ready to bake, grill or pan fry. All my guys really liked them. They are low in calories, highly flavored and easy to prepare. That is what I am looking for. We bought lots of chicken tenders on sale at the grocery store, so look for more recipes soon.

Billy Bob’s Rub

2 Tablespoons paprika
1 packet Splenda or Truvia
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon chili powder

Mix & store in air-tight container/ziplock bag. Rub into chicken or steak. Let sit for 20 minutes before grilling or baking.

I also made some really good sauteed onions and zucchini. To add a little extra zing, I added some dry Ranch dressing mix. The flavor of the lemon and dill was fantastic on the zucchini. I am glad I had this on hand. It had gotten pushed to the back of the cabinet, and I just found it again. That recipe is from the March newsletter.

Ranch Dressing Mix

1 Tablespoon soy flour
1/2 teaspoon granular Splenda
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon dill
1 teaspoon dehydrated onion
Pinch cayenne

Mix and store in an airtight container.

I just sprinkled a bit over our veggies, and they were delightful. We finally got the last of our Christmas decorations put away. Nice having my college boys home to help. They have one more week here at home, so I am spending as much time with them as I can. I think they will get out of helping take down the lights on the house, though. The Christmas blizzard blew them off the house and buried them under a snow drift, which is now an ice drift that doesn't want to go away. Temps here are not forecast to get above freezing all week, so those lights may be up for awhile. We will be inside with mugs of hot tea and I will probably have soup on the stove. BRR.