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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chile, Chili and Chilly!

My wonderful friend Tinkerbell turned me on to some real New Mexico chile powders. With her recommendations, I ordered one package of powdered green chile, mild enough even for the hubby. I also ordered a bargain package of Guajillo chile powder. They described it as fruity, perhaps a little piney. I researched a few online recipes, and found quite a few Guajillo chili recipes--many of which included some other interesting spice combos. Being a confirmed chili fanatic, I decided to order some. Guess what I will make for game day?

Let's start with the green chili powder. True taste, and very convenient. You all know that I buy my green chiles in the institutional size can. Obviously, I love 'em. But sometimes they are messy. This powder will do the trick too. Tinkerbell suggested adding it into ground beef when making burgers. Oh yeah. That is good stuff. I also tried it sprinkled over baked tilapia, along with some garlic and sea salt. Pretty yummy. Next, I am thinking some green chili cheese sauce to pour over cauliflower.

Now on to the Guajillo chili powder. I made this chili. It is really unusual, and I loved it. It is a little hot for the husband, but most everything is. I was anticipating that reaction from him, so I only experimented with one serving. If you want to make this recipe, you should adjust it up or exchange the spices from your standard chili recipe. My classes are cancelled tomorrow, so I think I will make a really big pot of this to eat through our snowstorm that is headed in. Chili is the perfect snowstorm food. The perfect superbowl party food too. I should be set! This flavor reminds me of Cincinnati Chili. If you like those spices, you should like this one too.

You can order either of the chile powders here

Lisa's Guajillo Spiced Chili for One

4 ounces ground beef
1 1/4 inch slice of onion, finely diced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup water
1 teaspoon guajillo chile powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 packet Truvia

Brown beef and onion. Drain off grease. Add tomatoes and cook until soft. Stir in water and spices. Let chili simmer for ten minutes.

I think I may try this as a crockpot recipe--or maybe a pressure cooker, who knows? If I am indeed snowed in, I should have plenty of time for some kitchen experiments.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shirataki again?

I've tried. Really, I have. I tried to like the Shirataki noodles--the ones made with tofu, anyway. I just couldn't get past the texture. I tried making them all the suggested ways, stir fry being the only tolerable way for me. Edible, but not something I bother with much. I may, just may, have changed my tune with this find.

I happened to be near an Asian market on Saturday. I had always wanted to try the Miracle Noodles--the type made just with that magical yam root. Never could get my courage up to pay shipping, and never managed to find them at the health food store. Well, this market did not have the famed Miracle Noodle either, but they did have these. JFC brand of a shirataki noodle infused with seaweed. These brown shirataki noodles have to be the most disgusting thing to look at that I have ever knowingly prepared. (maybe my use of chia gel has strengthened my resolve to eat the unlovely) BUT...

Brave up. They did not smell bad. I know to beware of odor associated with some shirataki noodles. I MADE myself smell the freshly opened package. Nada. Granted, I have a bit of a stuffy nose, but still, from the stories you hear... I went ahead and rinsed them, patted them dry and dry fried them a bit in a hot skillet. I have heard that works. Bingo. Even though they look rather like swamp worms, they nothing. Woohoo. Nothing is good at this point. The best thing is, they did not overtly scrunch between my teeth. That is what I could never quite get over before. Now I am still not saying they have the tooth feel of wheat pasta, but soo much better than the tofu style, at least for me. Your mileage may vary.

Not trusting myself, since I had missed lunch yesterday, and had a lumberjack appetite going last night which may have skewed my opinion, I tried them again this evening. This time, I didn't even dry fry, I just dumped them into some cabbage I was steam frying. I liked them. John didn't hate them. Wow.

Now for something that has 5 calories a serving, that is a pretty good review. These brown noodles do have about 1 1/2 more carbs per serving. I guess that is from the seaweed. It is a small price to pay for a little extra nutrition. Hey, you could eat the whole bag for only 10 calories and 4 carbs. More iron and calcium, so go for it. Plus two servings, we got three, was only $1.29.

I still think I will stick to using these with stir fries. The texture would just never work with macaroni and cheese or alfredo sauce for me. But with a veggie and maybe a bite of chicken or beef, these are totally and completely doable. How's that for an endorsement? By the way, I did weigh in half a pound less this morning despite eating late in the day. We will see what happens tomorrow in my ongoing quest to be a skinny girl.

If any of you have great recipes to share using shirataki, I would love to feature some here. I am drooling all over the keyboard today putting together the next newsletter. It will be filled with indulgent recipes for special Valentine meals with your honey (or ways to treat yourself if you are single). That is one day, I don't like to cut calories. Bring on the steak, butter and chocolate. But for now, shirataki noodles. Yeah. Gotta love them too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Candy Cane Cocoa

I always buy up the Celestial Seasonings holiday teas in December to keep me stocked up through the winter. Candy Cane Lane is a peppermint tea, also flavored with touches of vanilla and cinnamon. As a decaffeinated herbal tea, maybe it will let me sleep tonight. I have been rather addicted to my chocolate flavored coffees lately, but have spent a few too many nights wide awake after curling up with a cup in the evening.

Alone this tea blend is good. But add a half teaspoon of cocoa powder and some sweetener, and oh, my it is delish. I sweetened with a couple of packets of Truvia, but anything will do. This is obviously not as rich as a cream based hot cocoa. This is January after all, and those splurgy days are past. Very few calories here, but still lots of flavor. Go ahead and add a Mini Moo if you like, or even a splash of real cream. But taste it as is first; you might get addicted just like it is.

Just a note--swirl your cup from time to time as you sip, or keep a small spoon nearby. It will help keep the cocoa from settling. Serve it in a pretty cup and it will be an even better treat. This cup was from my mom's old service from my childhood. I had always loved the muted colors and the interesting design. They were very unusual for that era. I was delighted when she gave me a cup and small bowl for Christmas. Little things sometimes bring us the most pleasure. This is one of those little things that matters.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guest Blogger- NeeCee's Philly Cheeseburger Skillet Dinner

I love when you Diners share recipes with me too. Here is one sent by one of my dearest friends. I think she got the very first copy of my e-book out there!

NeeCee's Cheeseburger Skillet Dinner

1 lb hamburger
1 small onion chopped
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 yellow pepper chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 cups coleslaw mix
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese grated

In a large skillet, brown the meat with the onion. Drain the grease. Add the mushrooms, yellow and red peppers, coleslaw mix and garlic. Stir fry until the peppers are tender crisp, seasoning with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir in the cheese and cook over low heat until melted.

Love the addition of cayenne. NeeCee is an herbalist too, so I am betting that is in there for the healing properties. I know it isn't because she is such a big fan of spicy foods. I have seen her beg for milk at an Indian restaurant, when I couldn't find one dish I thought was spicy. Funny how we all have different taste buds for such things.

Thanks for the contribution, NeeCee. It looks yummy, especially with the steam still rising off the food. I can almost hear you calling "dinner" now. If you would like to check out her blog, go here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Brussels with Lemony Mustard Sauce

If you are like me, the holidays were not kind. Too many little cheats, too much of even the good stuff. January is typically devoted to weight loss around here. Since we low carb year round, just relying on a low carb diet doesn't produce many results at this stage. Some of us unfortunates have to reduce calories as well if we want to fit comfortably into the skinny jeans. Enter this recipe.

It is quick and really full of zing! I can't promise you that avowed brussel sprout haters will become fans, but the lemon and sweet mustard do add another flavor. No fat and just 1 carb for the whole Tablespoon of lemon juice.

Brussels with Lemony Mustard Sauce
1 pound fresh or frozen brussel sprouts
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon deli style mustard
1 packet truvia
salt and pepper to taste

Boil or steam the sprouts until tender. Drain well and stir drizzle the lemon juice over them. Toss lightly. Stir in the sweetener and the mustard until they are evenly coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

How simple is that? When you don't have time for roasted brussel sprouts, my absolute favorites, or the calories for a cheese sauce, this is great. Combined with a blackened chicken breast, these little beauties made a great meal. Hurray for skinny jeans food that tastes this good.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kale Crispers

These are totally not my idea, but as usual, I have managed to put my own spin on them. It is hard to be passionate about leafy greens. These are a vegetable of a different kind, though. Maybe I am not passionate, but I am engaged, so to speak.

Let's face it. Nothing can compare to the real thing--potato chips, corn chips--all those good tasting carbs that are quite terrible for our bodies. We have to get over it, addictive as these little goodies are, no one is going to mistake them for a Lay's potato chip. They are ugly step sister of snacks for sure. That being said...

I just ate the whole pan of nutrient dense Kale Crispers.

I have tried spinach chips before. Not for me. I like kale. Use it in my spoon salad. Well, it again met my criteria for the week. Low calorie, good for me (remember that new year resolution) and inexpensive (at least this week). I had heard of kale baked before--I may have even tried it myself with less than stirling results. But maybe I only dreamed that... but thought I'd try again.

After a test batch which was good but not great, I struck upon a formula I can live with--and might even bother to do again when the munchies strike. Many recipes out there--and there are tons, as this is no secret recipe-- call for an oven heated to 350 degrees. That is what I did on my first batch and they were done in half the time the recipe I went by called for. Granted, I did use the curly kale, which I suspected would crisp up faster than the flat variety. It was done in about 7 minutes. Almost too done. I really did like it, but decided I had added too much salt.

Second batch, I lowered the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Much better. The kale crispies tasted almost nutty and had no bitterness. So, armed with new knowledge, I think I will try to use the last of my bunch of kale for the preschoolers at school tomorrow who are studying nutrition. We will see if they pass the kid test. Hmm. They do still look remarkable like vegetables, not snack food. I bet I know what their reactions will be.

One more note about ingredients before I share the method. The oil of choice for me, in many applications these days, is MCT oil. That is medium chain triglyceride oil. This stuff is supposed to be much healthier for us. From the makers of NOW MCT: "MCT's are metabolized very quickly in the liver and are reported to encourage an increase in energy expenditure, while decreasing fat storage. Numerous studies suggest that substituting MCT Oil for other fats in a healthy diet may therefore help to support healthy weight and body composition." Hey, I am willing to spend a little more if it can help burn body fat. I order it through Netrition.

Kale Crispers

1/2 bunch fresh Kale
MCT oil in a spray bottle, or olive oil pan spray
sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash and thoroughly dry the kale. Tear off the leaves from the tough spine. Arrange the torn leaves in a single layer, not clumped, on a lined cookie sheet.(I use a silpat type liner, but I am not sure if this is necessary) Spray the leaves lightly with the oil and sprinkle very lightly with sea salt. The flavors will intensify in baking. Place in oven and bake for about 6 minutes. Check the kale by removing one leaf. If it is very light and crisp, it is done. Leaves with center stems may take a little longer in the oven, up to 10-12 minutes. Do not let them turn brown, or they will taste scorched. Check them minute by minute until they are crisp. Let cool on the sheet. Best if eaten fresh.

I have heard of those who can keep these around for a couple of days, but everyone in the blogosphere seems to say they are better freshly baked. There are tons of variations for spices to add, but I remember from my experimentation with spinach leaves, that I prefer simple salt. Quite a few enthusiasts toss the leaves with a bit of vinegar before baking as well. I may have to try that one. But to do that, I will definitely need more kale!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crockpot Green Chili Chicken Shreds

I cook too much. My brain gets addled and I forget what I have told you about and what I have never featured. I would have promised you that I had the Green Chili Chicken recipe in one of my newsletters. Maybe I did, but now I can't find it. If I wrote it and can't find it, then you may not be able to either! I will try it here instead---or in addition to--who knows? I have a lot of recipes in my head...and in several computers.

The photo above is actually my Chipotle Chicken Shreds, a very similar Freezer Favorite recipe from the e-book. Honestly, I was too busy prepping chicken this last weekend to bother with photography. Either recipe can serve as a Freezer Favorite--where you use the crock pot to cook up a batch, eat some and freeze the rest for later meals, or as a Triple Play meal where the entire batch goes into different meals the same week without being frozen. The choice is yours because this way of preparing chicken is very versatile.

This dish is also a cousin to the Tequila Chicken, a Triple Play meal which is baked and cut into chunks rather than shredded, and has a wonderful flavor thanks to the tequila. I have been out of tequila for a while now, but this is just as good. Just about any of the follow up recipe suggestions would work with any of these three recipes, however, so use what you have on hand or most appeals to your tastes. You might say these three chicken recipes are sisters--not identical triplets, but a strong family resemblance none the less.

The Green Chili Chicken does not have the bite of either of the other two recipes. Without the tequila flavor or the Chipotle flavor, the green chilies shine through. Not that it is without heat, however. The jalapeño salt delivers there. You could leave it out if you don't keep it handy at all times like I do!

For a Freezer Favorite or a Triple Play Meal:

Green Chili Chicken Shreds

3-4 pounds chicken breast, boneless and skinless
1 can chicken broth
1 teaspoon jalapeño salt
6 cubes of canned green chilies (approximately three small cans)
1 Tablespoon lime juice

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low until chicken shreds easily with a fork. Drain most of the broth, (reserve for soup later) and shred chicken with two forks.

This can be a little pricey if you don't use the method of buying institutional sized cans of green chilies like I do. I open a large can and freeze ice cube sized portions of chilies. That saves so much money. I can't believe how much the stores charge for those tiny green chili cans! If you buy like me, you can add even more chilies.

This is wonderful on a salad, or as an omelet filling. It makes great soft chicken tacos or burritos for those of you who can eat low carb tortillas or lavash bread. The meat can be added back to reserved broth along with some canned tomatoes and other assorted veggies for a fantastic soup. It really is versatile and easy to put together. If low carb nacho chips weren't so difficult, this chicken would make the best nachos ever. They also make superb Mexican Bowls, layered with caulirice, cheese, peppers and onions, salsa, and perhaps black soybeans.

Green Chili Chicken shreds are so easy. It is embarrassing to offer them up as a recipe. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicken Chicken and More Chicken

Guess what was on sale for $1.28 a pound at my grocery store this weekend? Breast meat, mostly skinless and definitely boneless. I got enough to keep me busy almost all afternoon with a modified prep day. Today, I didn't make any Multiply Meal casseroles or any muffins. I just concentrated on the chicken. Well, mostly, I did have a large package of hamburger meat that needed to be divided up too. Man cannot live on chicken alone, I always tell my husband.

Here is what I got accomplished:

1. One crockpot full of Green Chili Chicken. This pretty much my Triple Play Meal for the week. It will make soup, soft tacos or taco salad and omelets.

2. One batch of baked Italian style chicken meatballs. I ground the chicken myself. Some of the balls went into tonight's dinner of Italian tomato soup. Yum.

4. Freezer Favorites of sliced chicken, coated with hickory rub or Yucatan Spice mix. Those are packaged ready to thaw and cook in meal size portions. Laid out thinly in the ziploc bags, these can go directly onto the George grill without thawing if need be.

5. Two dinners worth of Salsa Dancing Chicken. Always a favorite.

6. More Freezer Favorites of whole breasts, pounded and dredged in spice rubs. These could be roasted in the oven or grilled.

7. Several Freezer Favorite packages of smoky flavored ground chicken. These also use the spread it out thin in a freezer bag technique for quick thawing and cooking. Ground chicken is good to use in soup and stirfry. It cooks up so quickly I don't need to precook it to make a really fast meal. It is done by the time the veggies are.

I think that is it for the bird. I also made Mexican Minute Beef and some small packets of raw ground beef spread thinly in my sandwich bags.

If you want to pack some fresh ground meat for easy storage in the freezer, try this trick I learned at Lunch in a Box. Pack your uncooked ground meat in a large freezer bag. Seal the bag and spread the meat out to all edges. Use a chopstick to score the meat into individual servings. The bag can then even be folded on itself for freezer storage, and it makes it possible to remove only one portion at a time, and not have to worry about thawing the entire bag. Frugal, yes? This is definitely one of the things you do if you buy the big roll of ground beef. Not all my strategies involve cooking the food before freezing. These are time savers even straight from the freezer!

Gee, I think I need to get a kickback for selling all the Ziploc bags!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

When I am cold, I like soup. When I don't feel like cooking, I like soup. When I need to clean out the veggie drawer, I like soup. When I don't have any fresh veggies, I like soup. I just pretty much like soup.

This is a really quick, healthy soup. It has an unusual flavor combination which makes it a wonderful home made treat you can't get anywhere else. The slightly sophisticated flavors are great with a simple broiled protein, like chicken or fish.

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

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.

This would be an excellent first course, and is great for a light lunch. The smoke flavor of the fire roasted tomatoes combined with the liquid smoke really adds a gourmet taste. The touch of sweetness adds depth as well, but you could leave it out and still have a great soup.

Look among your freezer favorites for proteins to go well. Meatballs would be excellent, as was my hickory chicken patty. Forgoing the cheese and cream base makes this a low calorie meal too, so what's not to love?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Simply Celery Celebrity Soup

Love all that alliteration and I love this recipe! Today's soup is especially good for those who are suffering from seasonal colds and flu bugs. I really do believe chicken soup has healing properties. I don't know about the science of it all, but I do believe there is more to most stories than science types will admit to.

I am not sick, but I am a bit on the cold side. Even after three cups of coffee. So, I decided to make some soup. This particular version got its cutesy name from my ingredient list. Having picked up some Wolfgang Puck Free Range Roasted Chicken Stock, I wanted to try it. It just happens to be another of my Big Lots finds. I always sample first before I buy big. Loving the fact that it is free range, I paid 30 cents more than for an unknown brand. Just one carb and ten calories. I like to make my own stocks, but I tend to use more in the wintertime than I have time (or rather, the discipline) to make. Thumbs up. Not a fantastic flavor, but good and not too salty.

I love the flavor of cooked celery, so I added the remainder of my bunch. Probably about 5 ribs. For extra flavor, I added the leaves as well. I wanted this soup to be simple--not too many complex flavors, so I reached for another celebrity favorite--Paula Deen. I love her Poultry seasoning with the grinder top. I didn't want any carrots or onions competing with the celery. This spice blend has a bit of sea salt, black peppercorns, onion and garlic, paprika, sage, rosemary and thyme. Perfection.

If you have both broth and chicken cubes in the freezer, this goes together in no time. Just simmer it until the celery is tender. If you need to start from scratch, you can simmer the chicken in water, making you own broth. In that case, you will need to add a bit more salt.

Since this was a Freezer Favorite throw together type soup, I didn't measure too accurately. I will give you the "just abouts" in recipe form anyway.

Simply Celery Celebrity Soup

1 package chicken cubes or about 6-8 ounces of uncooked chicken, diced
1 quart chicken stock (Wolfgang Puck brand or home made)
5-6 ribs of celery, leafy tops included
several twists of Paula Deen Poultry Seasoning

If starting from raw chicken, bring water to a boil and add chicken. Add diced celery and spices and simmer until chicken is done and celery is tender. Adjust seasonings.
If starting with frozen chicken cubes, heat stock in a saucepan, and add chicken cubes. Break the chicken apart as it warms. Add the diced celery and seasonings and simmer until vegetables are tender. Adjust seasonings. Serves 2-3

This recipe is intended to be simple. It is low in calories too. Good for those of us who are trying to make up for those holiday indulgences! Of course, you could add whatever veggies you have in the fridge, but don't be afraid to let the celery be the star. It is really quite tasty in a simple, good for what ails you kind of way. Who needs complicated?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Motivation for New Year's Resolutions

We probably all have resolutions to eat healthier. Some of us want to lose pounds, others keep our blood sugar under control. Today I have no recipe to share, but a little motivation instead. I too am going to be dropping some holiday weight from too many indulgences. I picked up these plates on the after Christmas clearance sales. Some were half off. Others were 75% off. It was a bargain a plate love like me could not resist.

Armed with my birthday gift card from Michael's, I purchased a porcelain paint pen. This marker works pretty much like any other paint pen. But after it cures, you bake it again in the oven, and it becomes permanent on you plates. Cool huh? They say it is totally safe, yet they still don't recommend direct contact with food. No problem. I just put my wording around the rims of the plates. I liked it so much, I went back and bought some cups to match. I paid $2.25 for 12 cups. Same for some salad/dessert plates. I still don't know what to do with all of them, but I am thinking lots of my dieting friends are getting some inspirational plates and cups! They would make nice wedding presents too I think. My friends are pretty used to getting handcrafted gifts from me. I love getting home made gifts. To me it means so much that someone gave some of their precious time! That is better than a perfect design or a name brand.

I love these sayings. I think they will inspire me to eat only what I really need.

I have more plates--any suggestions for something else to write on them? Cups too?