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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nutty Cheese Crisps and Sesame Crunchers

These would be great party snacks for the season. They are a take off of the standard low carb cheese crisps. The toasted nuts or sesame enhances the flavor and adds some substance too. I found the sesame seeds at the Dollar Tree, so they are an even better deal.

Nutty Cheese Crisps

3 Tablespoons ground almonds
4-6 ounces cheese, sliced

Slice the cheese of your choice and let it warm to room temperature. Pour the nuts onto a small plate. Press the cheese slices into the nuts until quite a few adhere to each slice. Place these slices onto parchment lined baking sheet or on a silpat mat. Bake at 325 until the cheese is melted and browned around the edges. The crunchers will crisp up as they cool.

I have tried these with cheddar and smoked cheddar. VERY addicting, so be warned! Still, they will hold off a craving for Doritos!

Sesame Crunchers

3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
4-6 ounces cheese, sliced

Slice the cheese of your choice and let it warm to room temperature. Pour the sesame seeds onto a small plate. Press the cheese slices into the seeds until quite a few adhere to each slice. Place these seeded slices onto parchment lined baking sheet or on a silpat mat. Bake at 325 until the cheese is melted and browned around the edges. The crunchers will crisp up as they cool.

Either version is good, so give them a try to keep you low carb this holiday season.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful holiday here. I am now gearing up for all the Christmas parties we will have in the next few weeks. I am also getting together the newsletter for December. This one features Christmas cookies which are low carb, and other party foods. I have quite a few recipes, but could use a few more cookie recipes to share. The thought occurred to me that it would be fabulous if my fellow Diners contributed favorite recipes too.

Cookies can be tricky to low carb. They can be pricey to experiment with too, so if you could help me out here, it would benefit all of us! I am a little short on time, a bit short on cash, and far short on my calorie budget to test too many more batches. I am trying not to gain any weight this holiday season, how 'bout you?

So if you have a favorite to share, would you consider sharing the recipe with me? I will publish all the contributions in the newsletter. If you aren't a subscriber already, I would give you a 6 month subscription for free. Even better, if you have a photo of your cookie, you get a year subscription for free.

It is so much better to have some low carb treats around during the party season. So drag out the flax meal, almond flour, coconut flour, and anything else you can think of to build the ultimate Christmas cookie!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Squash- Notato Casserole

Here is another dish I put together for the Thanksgiving Feast. It is a little sweet, but not too dessert like. It is a good substitute for sweet potato casserole for those of you who miss that around the holidays.

I used two acorn squash and a pumpkin. I baked the pumpkin and squash together in the oven. That was easy enough. Cutting that pumpkin was a chore, but I managed. A can would have been easier, but the pie pumpkins were on sale, so...

The squash was cut into chunks. The pumpkin pureed. The vegetables seemed to choose this way, so I just went with it. I don't always cook with recipes--I experiment often. This flavor is not too different from my Maple Butternut Squash, but the technique is different for sure. It got good reviews at the Feast, and didn't have too much leftover. I never liked the overly sweet marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, but I do love them with butter and just a touch of honey. This is similar--the same slightly sweet and salty and buttery sensation.

Sweet Squash-Notato Casserole

2 acorn squash
1 small pie pumpkin or one can of puree
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spices
2-3 packets sweetener
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons butter
a few Tablespoons of walnuts or pecans

Bake pumpkin, if using and squash. Cube squash and puree the pumpkin. Place squash cubes into a greased casserole. In a large bowl, blend the pumpkin, eggs, spices, sweetener, maple flavoring, olive oil and salt. Blend well and pour over the squash cubes. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Top with butter and nuts and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes.

This tastes like fall to me. Nutritious, yet lower in carbs than sweet potatoes.

See how much was leftover? Not too shabby, considering there were pumpkin pies and pecan pies too!

Turkey Day

So yesterday wasn't really Thanksgiving, but it was Turkey Day none the less. Our homeschool group held a Thanksgiving Feast out at a local park and my hubby offered to bring the bird. He loves to use his charcoal roaster to make turkey. It is smokey tasting, but not too smokey since it is roasted, not actually smoked. Yummy stuff.

For this recipe, just grab a thawed out bird, plop it in the roaster basket, and then into the Smoke Cube. That is an outdoor roaster with vertical charcoal chutes. The bird, or roast cooks from all four sides at the same time. It cooks in about the same amount of time as a traditional turkey. We got ours as a gift, but it came from Wal-Mart last year. Not sure if they still sell them.

We just have a few leftovers, so we bought two more turkeys for the real Thanksgiving day. One herb roasted and another charcoal roasted. That ought to please everyone!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuna Pepper Boats

Just a quick one to show you our yummy lunch today. Tuna in red pepper boats. One of those meals that is so good for you, it makes you want to show it off. I suppose I should have used a more colorful cheese, or added some green peppers for contrasting color, but I was just trying to get us fed. They would be pretty with additional peppers or olives, though. My artist side would like that.

My nutritionist side likes this. Lots of vitamins in those red peppers. We get those at Sams. The tuna is tasty and good for you--Christian gets the premium variety with no additives. It really does taste better than the cheapo cans. Chicken would be good too.

The kicker for this recipe is the home made coconut oil mayo that is binding the tuna. Today is the first time I have tried that. It worked fine for the tuna salad. I used it fresh from the blender, so I will post on that recipe once I see how it behaves after refrigeration. So more to look forward to. I love the health benefits of using coconut oil. You might want to read up on that. While you are at it, really look at the labels on commercial mayo. Why are all those chemicals and sugar necessary anyway? I think I am going to tweak this recipe I tried. It is a little too salty for me, so I will let you know when I get there. I added a touch of sweetener to cut the salt, but I want to adjust the flavor to stand alone. I just mixed this up with some white cheddar and some onion flakes for extra flavor. Christian and I both really liked it. I have tried olive oil mayo before, and didn't care for the flavor as much.

The next two school days are super busy, so I probably won't be experimenting in the kitchen again until next week. Hopefully my Sunday prep day will go more smoothly than in recent weeks. Between company and meetings, my normal work schedule is taking a beating. Then yikes, Thanksgiving will be upon us too.Gotta love this time of year!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Autumn's Best Muffins

I scored big with a super cute muffin pan from Michael's yesterday. Because I found a 70% off sale, I was able to afford this special pan. I do love my kitchen gadgets. This one doesn't meet my usual criteria of needing to serve more than one purpose, but at such a deal... I told myself I could make more than muffins, but then I don't think I have ever in my life had the motivation to make a tomato aspic or vegetable jello mold. Tomato aspic would be pretty, though. In my hometown, that was always a standard funeral side dish.

I made this batch of muffins for my Specific Carbohydrate kid. He cannot have wheat, so these muffins are made with almond flour. I adapted a recipe for the scd diet, from here, which allows honey as the sweetener. Bring the first time I tried it, I stuck fairly close to the recipe. I can't eat these or feed them to the hubby because of the honey. That can be replaced with your sweetener of choice though. I am betting the muffins would be a bit lighter in color too without the honey to darken in baking.

The house smells wonderful, and the leaf shaped muffins came out of the pan really easily. It is a quality brand--Nordicware. Amazing the difference with a good pan on some dishes! It seems like everything has been sticking on me lately. These smell so wonderful, in fact, I think I am going to have to go bake a batch we regular low carbers can taste. Then there are regular muffins for the carby boy...he will want some too. I had a meeting at church Sunday night, so I didn't get my prep day muffin batches made. Tuesday morning is a good substitute.

I will list the recipe as I made it, but add the substitutions you can make.

Pumpkin Muffins

2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup honey (I will use about 1/2 cup sugar substitute equivalent, as I think they could be a tad bit sweeter since I will leave out the raisins for us)
4 Tbsp melted butter, or coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins (leave out to make low carb)

Preheat oven to 325.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners or spray tins.

Method 1-- using raw almonds
Use a food processor to finely grind almonds. I used my Ninja. To this add all remaining ingredients except raisins and walnuts. Blend well, scraping sides. Remove blades and add in nuts and raisins. Spoon into tins or muffin cups, making sure to smooth the tops and fill all crevices with batter. Bake between 15 and 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Method 2 --using prepared almond flour
Combine wet ingredients together, beating egg well. Stir in dry ingredients and spices. Lastly, fold in nuts and raisins if using. Spoon into muffin cups as directed above, and bake.

Makes 6 small to regular muffins and 24 mini muffins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lidia's Chunky Eggplant Sauce

This is part two of what I found at Big Lots this weekend. Another thumbs up around here. Big Lots has stopped carrying my favorite Muir Glen sauce. So sad. This is really good too, and filled with all natural ingredients with no sugar. There is a touch of honey, and only 4 net carbs for a half cup serving. That is doable!

My boys, not the biggest eggplant devotees, liked it. Of course to serve all of us with some to spare, I had to add to the contents of the jar. I almost never cook for just one meal. That is part of the Diner system. The leftover sauce from tonight's dinner could become a soup later on this week, and a pizza sauce. That would make this a Triple Play meal. Alternately, I could freeze the rest as a Freezer Favorite and enjoy the same meal again later.

The ingredients are tomatoes, eggplant, olive and canola oil, carrots, garlic, capers, basil, honey, roasted garlic, salt, sin dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper and oregano. Good stuff. I have seen Lidia's cooking show a few times, but can't claim to know too much about her cooking. The instructions on the bottle say to mix it with olive oil and pasta. I am certainly not doing that. I do know this sauce is tasty, natural and easy to serve. It was $2 a bottle at Big Lots. The meal made low carb was well received at my house.

Lidia and Lisa's Eggplant Sauce

2 pounds ground beef
1 jar Lidia's Chunky Eggplant Sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 packet sweetener
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
zucchini, cut into thin strips
shredded cheese

Brown ground beef and drain. Stir in pasta sauce and diced tomatoes. Add olives and seasonings to taste and simmer for 15 minutes. While sauce is simmering, slice and saute zucchini noodles. Spoon sauce over sauteed zucchini noodles. Top with grated cheese.

I think this would make a nice veggie salad too. Just mix some pasta sauce with some olive oil and with room temperature veggies and let marinate for a few hours. It would be a good pizza sauce as well. Better buy some while you have the chance. A combo pack of three jars is over $17 if you order online. This way, none of us have to peel and dice an eggplant!

Weekend Big Lots Finds

Bargain shopper that I am, I headed out to Big Lots this weekend. I love finding new things there. It makes grocery shopping a challenge and brings out the hunter in me--stalking low carb bargains rather than big game.

I found three things this week, but one is for dinner and I will let you know how it goes. Eggplant lovers come back later to find out...

This morning was coffee heaven. I am a huge lover of cinnamon coffee. My mom spotted this bag of Christmas flavored coffee for five dollars. Now normally, that is a little pricey for me. It is sometimes easier to add a few drops of coffee flavorings rather than splurge on a gourmet coffee I might not like. Lesson learned with the Lean Bean Coffee I got at Big Lots last summer. Yuck. There were two flavors. Frankly, I can't remember the other because as soon as I saw Iced Gingerbread flavor, I was hooked. My favorite Christmas tea is Gingerbread flavored too, so I had to buy it. Realizing that it is not yet Thanksgiving didn't bother me a bit. See the photo? Yes, that is my coffee travel mug, nicely decorated with my fall insert, filled with Christmas coffee. Usually I am just OCD enough that would drive me nuts. Allowing that mismatch speaks to how much I adore gingerbread flavoring.

I must say this product got a thumbs up from me! Worth the price. I checked for the company online. Looks like a quality brand. Some are even sold as fundraisers to groups, who sell the same size bag (12 ounces)for $10-$12. If I look at it that way, my $5 bag is quite a bargain after all.

I also spotted a new sweetener which I have never tried. Ideal brand is a blend of Xylitol and Sucralose. I loved the flavor. In the past, I have avoided Xylitol, knowing it is toxic to dogs. I have too many dogs, and one who is a terrible trash raider. Another, who has been known to swipe food off the coffee table when we aren't watching, is also a concern. I fret that John will toss his gum or leave it out where the pups might get it. We think my Mandy, the trash raiding Schnoodle, did get some gum once, but she seems to have no ill effect. The day before we adopted her, she ate an entire bag of Dove chocolates from under her previous master's Christmas tree. She seems to have a strong constitution. Maybe she is part goat, who knows? But I am getting off topic here, so back to the sweetener.

Big Lots is selling this sweetener in packet form. The box lists no calories, but 1.5 grams of carb. Depending on how you count carbs, 1.2 of that is the sugar alcohol. The rest is the Maltodextrin and Dextrose they use as filler. Do with it what you want. I haven't taken sides on the sugar alcohol issues. I have used Erythritol with no problems, and the Xylitol in gums and oral care products hasn't affected John's blood sugars. In fact, this morning, his blood sugar was 87. Woohoo. Of course, he didn't have any coffee. Somehow the man doesn't like it. Go figure. The box has 50 packets for just $1.25. That seems pretty darn cheap for something I would otherwise need to order online.

My kitchen counter is filled with sweeteners. I like to mix them in some recipes. I use a lot of stevia, and some saccharin for the boy who can't have sucralose. For me, I think I burned out my sweet receptors years ago. I am just not that sensitive to the different sweeteners, and they taste pretty much the same to me. What is your favorite?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pizza Supreme Casserole

My youngest son doesn't do pizza anymore--one of his favorites. I have been trying to incorporate more pizza like foods into our meal plan so he doesn't feel too deprived on his Specific Carbohydrate diet. Alternate crusts are fine, but sometimes they are a bother. There is always the pizza in a bowl. That is yummy, but he can't have pepperoni either, so tonight's dish featured ground beef.

It was pretty good. The recipe I based it on called for sliced onions and peppers. Somehow the peppers and onions in mine disappeared--at least in the photo. My oldest isn't that crazy about supreme pizzas, so I admit that I used my Ninja to chop those up more finely than I would by hand. I think next time, chunkier would be better, but this was tasty.

If you want to make one too, here's a plan--more of a method than a recipe.

Pizza Supreme Casserole

2 lbs. ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 diced onion
1 bell pepper
1 can diced black olives
5-6 sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic
1 pound shredded cheese

Brown hamburger and drain well. Saute the onion, pepper, garlic and mushrooms in the beef fat until slightly tender. Place half of the beef in a casserole dish. Top with half of the vegetables and olives. Spoon half the tomatoes over. Shred cheese over this, then repeat layers. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

In my opinion, pepperoni would be even better with this, so throw some in if you want to. For my carby biggest boy, I spooned the casserole over some garlic toast. We low carbers had a side salad.

Nothing fancy, but good anyway. I think it might serve easier with an egg base to hold it all together, but I thought I would give this recipe conversion a try. I had hoped this would make a Multiply Meal, but we ate way too many second helpings tonight. Instead of getting two or three dinners out of my efforts, looks like this one will just be another lunch. Oh well, that sometimes happens when you feed a bigger family!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Smoked Cheese Burger

Burger night equals happy men at my house. With a little ingenuity, you can put together a Burger Buffet meal making the most of leftovers. Tonight, we had the choice of chili burgers or Reuben burgers with my home made sauerkraut. I also had leftover sauteed mushrooms. Mmmm. Most of us chose something a little more traditional though. I happened to pick up a package of smoked cheddar slices at Aldi. We hadn't tried those before, so that is what we gravitated to.

Very good. I added my favorite, Wright's liquid smoke to the meat patties along with some smoked paprika. Wow were these good! Now, I am glad I didn't cover that smokey goodness with kraut or chili! I just added a touch of barbecue sauce and a mushroom or two. My youngest chose most of those for his burgers. Just look around the fridge. There is no reason to bore your tastebuds. With enough condiments, we don't miss the grilled outside taste at all. I may have to change the menu to have burgers again tomorrow so I can have a chili burger. That sounds so good too!!!

Sorry about my rather fuzzy photo. I have been teaching a photography class to elementary kids. I let them use my camera. Some setting must have been bumped, because I just now noticed that all the photos we have taken this weekend are blurry. So much for my cute pumpkin carving pics. Even though this is a bit blurry, you still get the idea right? I figure this pic is better than no pic at all. Now don't you wish you had a burger too?