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

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Charcoal Roasted Pork

The neighbors either love us or hate us tonight. John broke out the Smoke Cube to charcoal roast two pork butt roasts.(a.k.a.Boston butt = Boston roast = pork butt roast = pork shoulder Boston butt = Boston-style shoulder = Boston shoulder = Boston-style butt = fresh pork butt) Whatever you call this pork, call it GOOD! These were at Sam's for just $1.18 per pound. We just roasted 14 pounds worth for this week's Triple Play Meal. There is enough meat to make this a Multiply Meals recipe too, so we will eat three times AND have some to freeze for later meals. It smelled so good for the five hours it roasted.

The Smoke Cube is brilliant, yet still has a drawback. It holds four towers of charcoal to cook from the sides. You get the smoky flavor, but faster, more even cooking than a simple charcoal grill. The only problem we have found is that the very bottom of the foods, which sit in the basket, are farther from the heat. Therefore, they do not cook at the same rate, although they do get nice and smokey from wood chips. Tonight, we are cooking the bottom roast a bit longer in the crock pot. That is an easier problem to fix than the same dilemma we had with the turkey.

This week, I will make Carnitas with some, and Bobby-Q Pork with more. The smoky charcoal flavor blends well with both of these meals. Here's another picture. The meat was tender and quite juicy from the slow roasting. I only wish you could smell it.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bento Low Carb Style

Okay, I know I am old and "behind the times" so they say. But I just discovered Bento boxes. You probably know about those Japanese lunch boxes with all the little compartments. They are definitely a meal with a plan!I don't really like Japanese food all that much, but the lunch possibilities with this system is amazing. With so much variety in one little lunch, it would get one out of a brown bag rut..and portion control is built in for you since there is only so much space!

It took less than 24 hours for me to become a Bento junkie. Now mind you, there are some Bento artists out there, but I don't plan to become one of those. None of my meals will ever come out looking like Hello Kitty or Mario. I want to spend less time in the kitchen, not more! But I also think that a meal that has eye appeal, and several different flavors to satisfy the palette is a good thing.

As usual, I am way too cheap to fork out the cash for one of those kits where all the components are already there to make it easy. Nope, I do things on the cheap. Let's start with the box. I homeschool, so I am always at the teacher supply sales. Last August, Staples had plastic pencil boxes ten for a dollar. Did I need ten? No. Did I get ten? Of course. It is better to get the three you can justify for a dollar than to pay a dollar each elsewhere. So, even though I had every marker we own, every colored pencil, and even a few craft projects in boxes, I still had empty ones. Now I have one less empty pencil box because this clear one just became a Bento box. Ten cents invested so far.

I went to Walmart and found some wonderful small food containers with snap on lids. I got an assortment of three for three dollars. Only two will fit in the Bento box, so that's another two dollars. My sandwich eating boys can use the other.

Now what to do with that extra space? These lunches are supposed to be packed pretty full. Then I came upon an idea. My silicone baking cups. They make perfect little containers for dry ingredients, and best of all, the shape themselves to the available room in the box. How cool is that? I already had them , but to be fair, my mom paid $3.59 for a dozen, and two will fit in at once. Of course, they can still be used to bake in too, so they do double duty. With tax, those would add up to about three for a dollar. No biggie. I found even cheaper, thinner silicon cups at Old Time Pottery. They work well too, and are especially good at shaping. That is the yellow one in the photo.

My plastic fork was free. The pretty napkin was from the sale table too. Oh, and the water bottle to match was 60 cents at Hobby Lobby. What a deal. It is summertime now, but next year, I will be packing my lunch at least twice a week, and my hubby's everyday. I'm thinking he might need a bit more food, but the Bento box would be great for salad fixings and snacks. There is room in the top for an ice brick. I also found it easy to attach the water bottle with a heavy duty rubber band from the produce department.

Here is what I chose for my first Bento lunch:

Deli Delights spirals - These used a new pickle I just tried-sandwich sliced dills, cut lengthwise. Those roll very well. You can't see in the photo, but two spirals are held together with a toothpick.
Blue Cheese Coleslaw - Very easy to mix up, just coat some premixed coleslaw blend with a tablespoon of blue cheese dressing. Yum!
Ice water with lime

I haven't totaled it up, but I am pretty sure this is under our 12 carb guideline for one meal. It totally satisfied my appetite. Here is a shot of it packed to go. If you want to see some more ideas on American style Bento, try here.

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Subway Buffet

It is Friday night buffet again. Tonight I knew I would have a bunch of teenagers over for a movie night, so I wanted something that everyone could customize to their own taste. Sub sandwiches and salads were perfect. I set out an assortment of hoagie rolls, four kinds of cold cuts, three sliced cheeses,a huge salad, fresh veggie toppings, and all the condiments we own.

We low carbers had our choice of salad or low carb wraps. I made one with ham, Swiss cheese, spicy mustard,lettuce and onion. Another held smoked turkey, pepperjack, ranch dressing, lettuce and bell pepper. The kids enjoyed making their own creations with pepperoni,pickles, Italian dressing--just about everything you can get at the real Subway.

The house is quiet again. 13 young people and three dogs can be a little hectic. I love it though. They are great kids, and it goes to show that low carb foods can go mainstream with just a bit of planning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meatballs Roma and Italian Focaccia

Tonight's "Multiply Meal" was Meatballs Roma, a tantalizing Italian style meatball topped with a touch of tomato sauce. They make the house smell divine while they are cooking as the scents of garlic and oregano waft through the air.

For sides, I added green beans topped with some tomato sauce and cheese. Those were easy, since I used canned beans and simply zapped them in the microwave. The salad was the bagged variety this week, so leftover vinaigrette topped that. All that was left was the desire for a garlic bread. It smells too good if I make it for the carby boys and not the rest of us. So, I decided to experiment with making a Focaccia that would fit within our carb limits. My first attempt looked great, had excellent texture, but lacked the garlic taste I was looking for. Here is my starter recipe:

Low Carb Focaccia Bread

1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup pecan meal
1/4 cup protein powder (I used vanilla, having seen other recipes use it for savory baked goods)
1/8 cup soy flour or other flour substitute
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup water
2 eggs

Mix dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix well. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes to thicken up. Line a small cake pan or toaster oven pan with parchment paper. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading until even. Bake at 350 degrees until browned on the top. Mine took about 15 minutes. Cut into breadstick strips. Serves 8.

These looked great, and were soft and puffy. Unfortunately, the garlic and herbs did not come through as strongly as the sweetness of the protein powder. If you have an unflavored protein powder, this recipe is probably fine as is. If you want double duty from your vanilla protein powder, however, plan to add more flavoring. To counter the sweetness, I melted one tablespoon of butter, and added a teaspoon of garlic powder and another 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. I topped the cut bread sticks with the butter mixture and then with a touch of cheese. These, I toasted in the toaster oven. Much better!

You may choose to do as I did, and add more flavoring to the top, or you could add more garlic and herbs to the original batter. I think it would also be good to leave the garlic out entirely, and add more sweetener and cinnamon. That would make a treat very similar to the cinnamon sticks at pizza places. After you melt some butter over them, that is.

If you have any focaccia sticks leftover, they would be great cubed and dried slowly in the oven for use as croutons.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chicken Parisienne

This recipe is too simple to taste so luxurious. Grilled chicken with a sherried cream sauce. Done in no time, in fact, it is an "E.Z. Fix" meal from the e-book. Way back in college, I had a favorite restaurant in Norman named La Fayette's. Their Chicken Parisienne was so good, that years later, I have tried to duplicate it. This is pretty close. Of course, no baked potato on the side, but a salad with a simple vinaigrette is delightful. It balances the creaminess of the sauce.

Tonight, I added Creamy Squash Casserole from Linda's site. A simple saute would have been fine for me, but my boys need some cheese in order to "appreciate" squash. I realize that we have had chicken two nights in a row, but, there was that meat sale...and with big helpings of Cowboy Comfort Breakfast this morning, we were full up with beef and sausage. Fish is not a favorite with my guys, and who wants to meet those prices for a meal they pick at? So chicken it was--again!

Chicken Parisienne

4-6 boneless chicken breasts
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons cooking sherry
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup cream or half and half

Grill chicken on an indoor grill. While that is cooking, prepare sauce. Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat and blend well. Spoon over grilled chicken breast.

Serves 4 282 calories 2 carbs

So, put a cloth on the table, and light a candle. We are dining Paris style tonight!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pecan Crusted Breast of Chicken

You gotta know that my husband John never met a chicken he didn't like. Tonight's dinner was no exception. Our local grocery had a ten pound meat sale. Chicken breasts were inexpensive, and we got them. Since they were frozen, we had to thaw the bunch all at once in order to use any. So, I planned some chicken recipes that I have never tried before. I have more time to play when school is out.

Rachael Ray had a recipe that sounded interesting to me, especially since I have several nut meals on hand after my order to Nutty Guys. Pecan crusted chicken baked with a coating of honey mustard beneath the nuts... sounds good. Once it was tweaked to low carb, I set out to make my own version. None of the recipe searches turned up any versions of this dish that were too pretty, so I don't feel bad that mine was a bit on the homely side. I thought the flavor was just so-so, BUT the guys in the house really liked it. All except the avowed nut hater, that is. His had the dressing coated with a dusting of soy flour instead. He liked it too. So maybe you'll love it. Maybe not. Some recipe attempts are better than others, and everyone has different tastes. Here is the recipe, which I served with a side of fresh green beans.

Pecan Crusted Breast of Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons dijon or grainy mustard
3 teaspoons Splenda or equivalent sweetener
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup pecan meal

Coat the chicken pieces with the honey mustard mixture. Sprinkle lightly with seasonings. I used a spoon rather than dipping. Dredge in pecan crumbs. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

Microwave Muffins

My mom gave me some of those cute silicon muffin cups, and I immediately thought about making the Minute Muffins in them. I was in a hurry today, because my new fridge is coming to be delivered. These baked up really cute and tasted nice and chocolatey. I had an iced coffee to go along with them...yesterday's leftovers. Gotta be thrifty, right? With muffins like these, I really don't miss the carby treats. Plus, these go together so fast, and you don't even have to heat up the oven! This is a perfect summertime breakfast, and they are much cuter than the Minute Muffins made in a mug. They would travel well for breakfast in the car, or would be excellent in a brown bag lunch. As usual, play around with the flavorings to make a signature muffin of your own!

Chocolate Microwave Muffins for Two

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
4 Tablespoons flax meal
4 Tablespoons almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 Tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla DaVinci Syrup
2 eggs
1/3 cup Splenda or equivalent sweetener

Melt coconut oil if it is solidified. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon batter into four microwaveable muffin cups. Place directly on the rotating base of the microwave. (If yours does not rotate, I am not promising the muffins will cook evenly, and stopping to rotate may interfere with the rising action.)Cook on high for 1 minute 10 seconds or until set in center. Let cool a bit and remove from the oven. They will flatten a bit as they cool.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dueling Diets and Family Gatherings

My poor mom. Today she had to battle in the carb and fat wars. One group staunchly low carb, the other devotees of the low fat lifestyle. When plans to get the big pork loin fell through, we went with brats. I told my hubby to get some turkey brats too, but he just didn't get it. Of course, the low fat crew went to the store to get their own. A bit embarassing, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

My sweet mom made coleslaw for us, baked beans for them. Of course, they also got corn on the cob, bread, chips and cheese dip. We got nuts and jicama for our dip. I brought along Green Chile Cauliflower, some coconut bark, and made herb dip. Poor mom, she even bought regular and low carb ice cream. I told her not to--and I was right; it was yucky. But she didn't want us to be left out, so we ate it.

Funny thing about the brats. Turkey brands differ widely. Our Johnsonville brats had 270 calories, 22 grams of fat, and 2 carbs. The Jennie-O Turkey Brats have 230 calories, 18 grams of fat and 4 carbs. If the nutrition is that close, I'm going to choose the real version every time. There are sausages out there that have lower calories and fat, but I wonder how many people are fooled into thinking turkey is always a healthier choice? While I ate my tasty, full strength brat, I did manage to mention how good my husband's cholesterol just tested, and how well his diabetes is now under control. I was on the low fat road to "health" for so many years. It sure didn't work for us, and I hate to see others put such faith into it.

But no matter which brat you choose, I'm sure both are better with some flavored mustard. This is one variety I really enjoy. Woeber's also makes a Champagne Dill that is great with tuna salads. I buy mine at Food Pyramid, but you can order online. I think I may experiment this summer with making some of my own flavored mustards. A recipe for honey mustard is in the e-book, but there are lots of flavors to explore.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Green Chile Cauliflower

Memorial Day is a time of family remembrance for us. Today we visited our hometown cemetery to decorate family graves. It is a tradition on my side of the family. After lunch out together, we simply snacked for dinner. I had leftover Curry Chicken from earlier in the week. John had a leftover steak, and Andrew grilled some burgers on the Foreman grill, saving one to take to work tomorrow. (That's retail--no holiday for him or my radio husband) Being a holiday weekend, I am postponing my normal Sunday Prep day. I'll do that later this week since my teaching duties are done for now.

Today, I did make a low carb casserole for our family gathering tomorrow. We plan on visiting my mom's home and sharing in a buffet style meal. We are contributing some brats to grill, and I thought this mildly spicy dish would make a good side for low carbers and carbies alike. It is inspired by a green chile casserole my sweet Aunt Gladis used to make. Hers had rice, ours uses cauliflower. We put some pink flowers on her headstone today. I have so many fond memories of this lady. She was a wonderful cook. Never blessed with children, she spoiled my sister and me all the more. This is as spicy as I remember any of her dishes being, and I loved it. Her recipe is still written in her handwriting in my recipe box. I had to substitute a few things, but I think she would like it still.

Green Chile Cauliflower

1 pound of cauliflower
4 slices of white American cheese
4 ounces of cream cheese
4 ounce can green chiles
1/4 cup water
salt to taste
1 Tablespoon chia seeds, optional

Lightly steam the cauliflower. Combine cream cheese, cheese slices, chiles and water in a saucepan. Stir often while melting the cheeses. Add chia seeds if using. When cauliflower is tender crisp, drain well. Gently combine the sauce with the cauliflower and transfer to a baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Teriyaki Steak

Tonight we had the Year End Program for my highschooler. After a lovely ceremony, we were treated to one of those typical large group buffet lines. You know the kind--chips, store bought cookies, crackers and the like. Not to mention the sugary punch and the sheet cake. Out of all the offerings, we were able to eat the mixed nuts, cheese cubes and salami(only one left of each when I got through the line) and a very questionable meatball. Of course it had fillers, but it was better than a cookie!

Needless to say, we were still hungry when we arrived home. I had planned ahead. A "dump" meal was waiting. To my rescue was Teriyaki Steak. I added the steak pieces, already marinated, to a skillet. When they were nearly done, I added some frozen broccoli spears. Voila! Teriyaki Beef and Broccoli. Yum. I also steamed some cauliflower to use as a base if anyone wanted. I liked mine without, but it was there for those who wanted it. After a long day, it is so nice not to have to wonder what to have for dinner. I really didn't feel like cooking, but dump meals are so easy. In the old days before the Diner, I would have begged to stop for pizza on the way home. But then, in those days, I would have eaten most everything in the buffet line too!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mocko Taco Buffet Night

Who doesn't love tacos? I know we love them, and they are a quick Friday night meal. That is a good thing because time is something I just don't have much of today. Everything around my house is breaking. This week, the hot water tank went out. The plumber came and fixed that. What he couldn't fix was the leak coming from my fridge. I was so hoping it was just a connection. But no. The fridge is terminal. Great news since we were also thinking the wet spot in the carpet was coming from that leaky roof that needs repair. $$$$$ are adding up. So today, I have been trying to locate a new fridge or used fridge that we can afford. With two kids in college, there is not much money to go around. Refrigerators are expensive. Don't be surprised if you see even more budget friendly meals around the Diner for awhile.

Mocko Tacos are a good cheap meal. We buy our ground chuck for $1.50 a pound at a local meat plant dock sale. We get cheese at Sam's. Tonight's meal featured Joseph's Pita bread as our taco shells, but it is simple to make a few versions of low carb crunchies to substitute. Or even easier, just make a taco salad for the low carbers and regular tacos for the rest. It all goes together in one simple meal.

Here are some ideas to put together a Mocko Taco Buffet for your bunch:

Mocko Taco Buffet
Low carb tortillas
Baked Joseph’s Lavash Bread as tostadas
Salad greens
Cheddar Cheese crisps (shredded cheese melted in a non stick skillet until crisp)
American cheese crisps (sliced cheese microwaved on parchment for 1 minute 30 seconds)

Seasoned ground beef
Seasoned ground turkey
Shredded chicken
Pork Carnitas

Shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce
Sour cream
Salsa– red or green
Diced tomatoes

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sweet Onion Broccoli Salad

Perhaps I should call this new recipe "Accidental Salad" because I really didn't plan it out at all. My son, Christian, is writing a term paper on the development of the Chinese culture. I had just finished reading a section on Chinese inventions, and how so many of their discoveries were based in failed alchemy experiments. So, as usual, in my efforts to feed the crew and save money too, I found I was undertaking a bit of kitchen alchemy. I also did not make gold, but I did come up with a tasty variation on the broccoli salad I've been making for years.

For lunch today, John had the Pooh Bear Salad. You know the one--the chicken cubes coated in a thick honey mustard-like dressing. Well, I had too little of the dressing left over for my lunch, so I started to add a bit to it. Unfortunately, a giant ball of onion powder came tumbling out of my spice jar. That is where the accident part came in. Instead of fishing it out, I decided just to go for it. Wow. I liked it. The taste is very similar to the vidalia onion dressing I used to buy. A splash of vinegar and a bit more sweetener and it was there!

So, instead of coating my chicken and topping greens, I mixed it with some lightly steamed broccoli and a quarter of a sweet onion. I think next time, I'll add some shredded jack cheese too, so I will include that in the recipe. I hope John likes it when he gets home. The onion lover in me likes it!

Sweet Onion Broccoli Salad

4-6 cups broccoli spears
1/4 sweet onion
1/3 cup shredded cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/8 cup Splenda or equivalent
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder

Lightly steam broccoli. Dice onion. Combine mayo, mustard, sweetener, vinegar and onion powder, and mix well. Pour over the broccoli and onion and stir. Toss with cheese. Chill before serving.

What a delicious accident! It goes great with a tall glass of tea, which just happens to also be an accidental invention from the Chinese!

Now I am off to make a Multiply Meal. Sloppy Tom Casseroles for dinner tonight and more for the freezer for another night.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Greek Yogurt Dip with Fresh Herbs

I made a big batch of yogurt this week. I made some of it into "Yo'cheese" by letting it drain through coffee filters all day. Now it is as thick as sour cream and ready to make a great dip. I have some herbs growing in pots on the porch, so I braved the mosquitoes (yes, already got 'em) to clip some herbs for a really fresh tasting dip. I brought in several fat, healthy chives, a sprig of lemon thyme, and a couple leaves of lemon balm. I chopped these up, and added about five leaves of fresh spinach. After stirring these in with several large spoonfuls of yo'cheese, I chose my seasonings. I added a good sprinkle of garlic powder, a pinch of lemon pepper and one tiny drop of sweetener. I topped it off with a teaspoon of lemon juice.

For dippers, I cut some Joseph's Lavash bread into rectangles. I toasted them at 325 degrees in the toaster oven. They are done in no time! The dip is ready and very flavorful! Great for an appetizer or snack.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

White Texican Pizza

That "Triple Play" meal of Tequila Chicken was the star of our lunch today. I made White Texican Pizzas in my muffin top pan. The boys loved them. You certainly can do one big pizza, but these are easy to pick up by hand. I didn't have mushrooms or fresh cilantro on hand, but they were yummy none the less. Today, I made my hubby a Tequila Lime Chicken Salad to take to work, because these pizzas are best fresh from the oven. Wimpy as he is about jalapenos, I was able to go a little wild on the lunch pizzas for the pepper loving boys at home. Instead of mushrooms and cilantro, I diced up some fresh peppers--green bell and jalapeno. So good, but not for those who can't appreciate some heat!

White Texican Pizza

2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
3 beaten eggs
2 Tablespoons soy flour or other low carb flour

1– 8 ounce package of cream cheese
3 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon jalapeƱo salt*

2 cups diced Tequila Chicken
Sliced mushrooms
Diced jalapeƱos-fresh or jarred
Diced fresh cilantro
Chopped red onion

For crust, combine all ingredients. Spread thinly and bake on parchment paper at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip and bake another 5 minutes. While that is baking, blend sauce ingredients well and dice the toppings. When crust is ready, spread sauce and add toppings. Bake for another 5-10 minutes at 325 degrees.

*I changed the amount of jalapeno salt called for from the original recipe. My new brand has a much stronger flavor. I suggest you taste as you go, since your mileage may vary.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quick Lunch on the Go

If you ever need a brown bag for lunch, Deli Delights are an "E.Z. Fix" meal that travels well. Today, I packed some Cream Cheese Spirals and some Deli Roll-ups. For a little variety, I made some Spirals with Joseph's Lavash bread too.

Use whatever deli meats you have on hand. Today I used roasted chicken sliced wafer thin. I also threw in some pepperoni. It is a bit hard to tell by the photograph, but there are two different cheeses in there too. Just use what you like. Spread, roll and pack 'em to go!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Certifiably Nuts" Cookies

Today has been nice. I have had plenty of time at home to experiment with some recipes. The big winner as far as my husband is concerned, is a new cookie. But first, my list of accomplishments for the prep day. Our Triple Play Meal for the week is Tequila Lime Chicken. Tonight's dinner was hot off the grill. Later in the week, I will make a Tex Mex Salad and White Texican Pizza. For a Freezer Favorite, it was a Dump week, so I made some Teriyaki Steak Dump meals. Those will make a quick meal next Saturday and in weeks to come. Instead of muffins this week, I made some nut granola to go with homemade yogurt, and some instant breakfast cereal to use like oatmeal packets. Our Multiple Meals brunch recipe for the week is a take off of the standard ham and egg quiche recipes. I will blog about that one later because it was sooo good. I'll have the recipe too, since it is not in the e-book.

Despite putting those meals together, I decided to experiment with some baked goods. I recently got an order in from Nutty Guys, and have lots of nut meals to try out. The almond meal has already been successful in several recipes, but I had not yet tried the walnut meal. It was a coarser grind, and I was not sure how it would behave in recipes. I tried it because it is much less expensive than blanched almond flour. At only 2 dollars a pound, I decided to do some culinary testing. My first attempt was to use it in place of the almond flour in Almond Thins. This worked pretty well. The egg white held it together, although I could never get it quite as thin. The crackers had a slightly bitter flavor, however, and I probably won't use only walnut meal again--maybe half and half.

My second recipe attempt was a mixed bag. I found a recipe on the low carb friends board for Almond cookies. The first half of the batch did not work at all. The coarser meal left the cookies too crumbly to pick up. They tasted wonderful, but fell apart on the cookie sheet. To remedy that problem, I added an egg. The result was fantastic. Wonderful little nut bites with a delicate flavor that everyone loved. Glad I got a photo because they disappeared quickly. I named the recipe to make fun of the fact that I started recipe testing on a prep day for the week. Enough time in the kitchen already!

"Certifiably Nuts" Cookies

1 cup almond flour
1 cup walnut meal
1 stick butter
1/2 cup Splenda or equivalent sweetener
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Soften butter and add remaining ingredients. Drop by teaspoons onto parchment paper. Flatten slightly and shape edges with your fingers. Bake at 325 degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and edges are set.

Burger Buffet

This weekend has been busy for us, and I only got to eat breakfast at home yesterday. For lunch, I scraped the insides of tacos into my Taco Bueno wrapper for an impromptu taco salad. Way too little food and too much money, but in a pinch it works. Besides, I had a coupon, so that helped. For dinner, we went on our weekly journey to Mazzio's Pizza where John and I helped ourselves to the salad bar. They have the best Ranch dressing. We just steer clear of the pasta salads, puddings and our old favorite, French dressing. (I do have a French dressing recipe for here at home, so we don't miss it that much)

Since we had two foods to blog about on Friday, today's blog entry will highlight Friday night's Burger Buffet. I always liked those burger restaurants where you got to add your own toppings, but I always wanted more than one combination. With mini burgers, you can have several flavors in one meal. It is simple to do--especially if someone helps unload all those condiments from the fridge. I grill up pre-made hamburger patties, then cut them into fourths. I bring out different cheese slices, mustards, relishes, and let the imagination go wild. For my carby boys, I buy dinner rolls to substitute for buns. Sometimes I make flax bread buns for us, but this time, we skipped the bread substitute. That leaves more room for burgers. I grill a few veggies too, and make a side of Nana's Coleslaw with a Kick.

Imagine the plate in the picture is a clock. Starting at 12 o'clock is:
1. Mayo mixed with low carb ketchup, topped with sugarfree sweet relish and lettuce.
2. Cheese, grilled onion, salsa verde and sour cream
3. Cheese, chili, grilled jalapeno and sour cream
4. Lettuce, Ranch dressing, bacon bits
5. Champagne mustard and grilled onion
6. Swiss cheese and grilled mushrooms
7. Slaw
8. Cheese, Pepperoni and grilled mushroom
9. (the center) Blue cheese dressing and Cajun hot sauce

When was the last time you had such variety in one meal? Now, I am ready for my prep day. More on that later...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Homemade Greek Style Yogurt

In the May 24/7 Low Carb Diner Newsletter, I included information on how to make your own Greek style yogurt. It is wonderful and much less expensive than the store bought variety. Making your own is easy with just a few simple tools like a thermos or a Styrofoam cooler and a heating pad. Make some; then, just drain the yogurt using a coffee filter, and you get all that thick creaminess Greek yogurt is famous for.

Add in your own choice of low carb ingredients. Plain sweetened vanilla is wonderful. I have also added coffee flavorings to make coconut cream and chocolate raspberry. Don't forget the wonderful taste of real strawberries and blueberries. Mmmm. The best part is that we low carbers can make yogurt with cream. The extra fat makes a huge difference in flavor. I have experimented with different combos of milk, cream and half and half. All are good...and the recipes are flexible. A good Google search will provide you with tons of info on making your own yogurt, so I don't need to duplicate that info here. Go research the method that suits you best. Some people use ovens, crockpots or dedicated yogurt makers. I have had the best luck with the heating pad.

Today, for an after school snack, I made a dessert shot with the homestyle Greek yogurt. The one in the photo is vanilla with the leftover almond flour/flaxmeal crumbles I used in the Cheesecake Dessert Shots. I tried to include my fingers in this photo so you can see the size of the dessert shots. The scale is very difficult to discern in the last couple of photos I have posted. Even the spoons pictured are demitasse spoons. Think smaller than average. Think more fun than average. Think fewer calories than average. Dessert shots make sense for healthy eating for the long term, don't you agree? Don't deprive yourself, but control those portions.

Now I am off to make a burger buffet for my guys. Tonight we are having mini burgers. Kinda goes with the theme for the week. Mini everything. Funny how I never planned that!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chili Cheese Nachos for 24/7 Low Carbers

Sometimes you miss nachos on a low carb diet. Not that they are every the healthiest choice, but who wants to go through life feeling deprived? With some strategic substitutions, we can have a pretty close version of tortilla chips. After all, the taste is in the toppings, which are naturally low carb. Joseph's Lavash bread can sub for carby chips.

To make a single serving of tortilla chips, cut one lavash sheet in half. Cut that into triangle wedges. Toast them in the oven until they are lightly browned and starting to crisp.

Arrange the chips on a microwavable plate. Top with cheese, chili and peppers or salsa. Today, I used a batch of 24 Hour Chili from the freezer and Monterey Jack cheese. That was quick. I also topped my nachos with my homemade Salsa Verde. A minute and a half in the microwave oven, and lunch is served. Couldn't or Wouldn't have made this yummy lunch if that chili hadn't already been made. That is how I work the system to make life easier.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chocolate Kahlua Cream

This has been a busy week, and I messed up my own menu plan. I was supposed to get a crockpot meal going this morning, but I got busy packing more lunches than usual. My youngest son and I were at a film shoot most of the day. His usual filming day is Monday, and I just forgot about the crockpot. After we dragged home in the heat, and he had stripped of the remnants of his Legolas costume, I went to the kitchen for a cool drink and discovered my mistake. Definitely no dinner in the pot. Improv time.

So, tonight turned into pizza night for me and my guys. I promise they don't mind. We just bought that giant pack of pepperoni from Sams, and my crust goes together really quickly. After pizza and salads were happily digesting, I had time to play with another of last Monday's finds from Old Time Pottery. These cute tiny demitasse cups were only a quarter. When I saw them on the shelf while I was looking for shot glasses, my mind immediately went to my Toffee Cheesecake Pudding altered to be coffee flavored. That is what I tried tonight. This pudding is so rich, you don't need much to satisfy a sweet craving, and the small cups are the perfect size. The recipe makes enough for 4 small servings. I divided mine into 5 since all the boys are home. It also looks cute in the shot glasses as a dessert shot. The recipe couldn't be easier--

Chocolate Kahlua Cream

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.

Christian, my Legolas, calls this a "Masterpiece: mocha richness in a cup." I bet girls would like it even better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kickin Cajun Casserole

On the run this evening, have a meeting to attend. Tonight's dinner highlights how flexible the 24/7 Diner system is. Since Sunday was Mother's Day, I purposely neglected some kitchen duties. I did not make the Minute Beef this recipe calls for. Instead, today I chose to cook the ground beef up fresh. I added the vegetables directly to the skillet rather than to a casserole dish. Everything else is the same. Making this a skillet supper rather than a casserole suited my needs this week. Flexibility keeps the system rolling. Now the boys and hubby can dish their portions up as they get home and are ready to eat.

I like extra Cajun hot sauce, can you tell by the photo?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dessert Shots - a new fad made Low Carb

These tiny desserts are all the rage in restaurants these days. And why not? Portion control is built right in. The price is right, and yet the decadent goodness is all there. When I saw these at Chili's, I knew I could duplicate them at home. Well, today, I found some inexpensive shot glasses at Old Time Pottery, so I took the plunge. The dessert I am starting with today was easy to put together, and everyone loved it. I even dragged out the boys' old baby spoons, which were perfect for our mini desserts. Expect to see more dessert shot recipes from me in the future. Oh, the possibilities...

Tonight's dessert used the Cheesecake Muffins I baked over the weekend. I crumbled one small muffin per dessert, and made a quick batch of whipped cream to help layer. For a pie crust taste, I used a mixture of almond flour and flax meal. So easy to be so impressive.

Cheesecake Dessert Shots

4 prebaked Cheesecake Muffins (See recipe in the Muffin Mania section of the e-book)

1/4 cup whipping cream or canned whipped cream

1/4 cup almond flour, mine was unblanched, but any would do fine

2 Tablespoons flax meal
1 Tablespoon Splenda

1 Tablespoon butter

Prepare nut mixture first. Combine almond flour, flax meal and Splenda. Mix butter in with a fork. Toast lightly in a skillet or toaster oven.

Add a small spoonful of nut mixture into the bottom of each shot glass. Top with crumbled cheesecake muffin, pressing down slightly with your finger or a small spoon. Add a layer of whipped cream. Alternate layers until the glass is full.
Serves 4

My husband just walked by saying, "Gee, those were so good, I could have eaten more." That is my point exactly, I say with a smile.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

It is that wonderful day when I try to stay out of the kitchen. My guys love me everyday, but they really show it on Mother's Day.

This morning my two youngest boys brought me breakfast in bed. I had fresh hot coffee, just the way I like it. I knew before they came in what was coming my way, because I could smell the aroma of bacon. In the past, I always got breakfast with toast, but now that we eat low carb, they know that is off limits. They offered scrambled eggs, but I wanted to save room for the special lunch out this afternoon.

For our luncheon, we joined my niece and her family and my mother at one of our favorite Mexican Restaurants. They just happen to have a low carb menu, so everyone is happy. I love the house rellenos at Arizona. They aren't breaded, and come with a side salad topped with sour cream, guacamole and fresh salsa. John had a fajita salad. As long as we can stay away from the baskets of tortilla chips, all is fine!

My boys know my passion for cooking. For my gifts this year, I got three varieties of flavored almonds and a new roll of parchment paper. Yes, I did ask for that one. They also know that to make a woman truly happy, one gift should be "just because." So, they also gave me some gold and CZ earrings. What wonderful young men I have.

Since I am trying to stay out of the kitchen today, the only photo I have to share is what we will be munching on for a Sunday night supper. I am going to let the guys heat up some of the Salsa Dancing Chicken I have made as a Multiply Meal. Even though the chicken is coated with salsa, it has a very different flavor from the Mexican meal we had earlier. The Dijon mustard and sweetener make this dish unique. I'm getting hungry just writing about it. Plus, I will admit, I have sneeked into the kitchen today afterall. I just had to make another batch of those addictive Almond Thins. We went to the drive in movies last night, and I finished off the entire batch. Told you we could not control ourselves. Trouble is these were flying off the cookie sheet even before they had time to cool...and it wasn't just me! Already only half a batch is safe in a ziploc bag. Oh well, Mother's Day is not about moderation, right?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Almond Thins--Gone in 30 Seconds

Addictive. Every once in a while you find a recipe that renders you completely unable to act like a thinking human. The inner carbavore really comes out in me when I bake these wonders of the low carb world. Oh, they seem innocent enough. Just almond meal, egg white and seasonings. Who could know they have the ability to send me into a "seems like a carb" eating frenzy?

These are so good. All I can say is that I am glad that I am such a klutz when it comes to working with a rolling pin. If not, I would be making these little crackers all the time. Not that they are that hard to make, just a bit tricky in getting the dough even. But that is workable too. I like the slightly browner edges; my hubby prefers the lighter middle crackers. (Yes, I know my friends are laughing now, given my affection for slightly burned cookies and totally incinerated marshmallows)

This is a legendary recipe on the low carb boards. Today I used the one that Linda posted on her site. You can find the recipe here. Almond Thins are great when it comes to dips. They are much sturdier than you would expect. Wonderful with cheese, strong enough for a cream cheese dip, and yet, they taste incredible all by themselves. Just like the Lay's potato chips of old--bet you can't eat just one!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Chipotle Burgers for the Boys

Move over Rachel Ray. It is Burger Buffet at the Marshall house. The boys are back in town, and tonight I welcomed them home from college with big, thick, juicy beef burgers. They officially love me. The way to a man's heart afterall...

Being a buffet, they got to choose how to dress the burgers. I made plain, barbeque and chipotle patties. The peppery one was my choice. I add a dash of chipotle powder to the meat and blended it in as I was shaping the burger. Once on my george grill, I added a sprinkle of seasoning salt. Topped with some melty cheese and a generous spoonful of my freshly made salsa verde, it was a gourmet treat. Good stuff!

We often buy frozen sirloin patties, but nothing can replace fresh meat, shaped thick to be extra juicy. A side of coleslaw and dinner was served. My guys gobbled them up like starving baby birds with mouths wide open for a juicy worm. (they are not too fond of the dorm cafeteria) Now if I can get them off the Playstation, and get them to put away that mountain of belongings which are now piled on my living room rug. With my guys back for the summer, those leftovers are definitely not going to last as long. But I'm glad. I love to have my hungry babies back in the nest for awhile.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Broken Glass Jello" Goes Sugarfree

This is one of those classic Jello recipes from the 60s. While I do admit it has a ton of eye appeal, the recipe needed some fixing. It was not too hard to adapt to low carb. My main problem was finding blue Jello. My stores only seemed to have that in the sugary version. I ended up with raspberry, lime and peach. Unfortunately, most of the choices were red, and that would not have been as pretty. Even without the blue, this makes a tasty light dessert that is sure to please company or guests at a potluck. It is not hard, just a bit time consuming waiting for gelatin to set.

Broken Glass Jello

3 packages sugarfree gelatin
1 package unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup cream or half and half
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vanilla DaVinci syrup

Prepare flavored gelatin as directed on package. Chill for several hours. Cut into squares. Place Jello cubes into an 11 3/4 x 7 1/2" casserole dish.(or the equivalent) Be sure to mix the colored cubes for the best effect. Keep cold. Soften unflavored gelatin by sprinkling it lightly over 1/4 cup water. Let sit for 5 minutes while you bring the cream and syrup mixture to a light boil. Combine gelatin and cream. Stir until dissolved. Chill this mixture until it is cool to the touch, but not gelled. Pour the creamy gelatin over the cubes. Chill several hours or overnight. Cut into squares to serve.
Serves 12-16

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Crack Slaw in 5 Minutes

"Crack Slaw" supposedly earned its name because it is so addictive. I have to admit to a second plateful. This skillet dish goes together really quickly if you happen to have some thawed Minute Beef handy. Just toss the beef in the pan, add the other ingredients and stir fry. You will need some sesame oil, however; that flavor just can't be substituted. The more you like it, the more you may want to add. Feel free. This is one of the recipes that can be tweaked to your heart's content.

Today, I am still finding uses for the fresh jalapenos Aldi had on sale last weekend. 49 cents got me quite a few beautiful, crispy peppers. They tasted fantastic in this dish. They aren't as hot as you would think if you don't add in those seeds. Give it a try. Or not.

Crack Slaw in 5 Minutes

1 pound of prepared Minute Beef or 1 1/2 pounds of fresh lean ground beef
1 pound of coleslaw mix
1-2 Tablespoons of sesame oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Splenda, or equivalent sweetener
1 thinly sliced jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

If starting with fresh beef, lightly brown and drain most of the fat. Add all remaining ingredients and stir fry until cabbage is tender.

This is great for a fast supper or a weekend lunch. It can also go into a tupperware bowl and be reheated in the microwave. Just be careful chopping the jalapeno pepper. Some prefer to wear gloves when seeding and cutting. I am more afraid of latex, so I prefer just to wash my hands well and make sure I don't touch my eyes.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco De Mayo

Well, dinner got made! Just thought you might like to see a photo of our Mexican dinner. Southwest Shredded Beef in a Joseph's pita half, steamed cauliflower with the Salsa Verde Queso, and Jalapeno Poppers. I added a can of black soybeans to the crockpot when making the beef, and I am happy to say that most of the beans got tender. Generally, the black soy beans tend to stay very firm, but these slow cooked and were sooo much better. The fresher taste of the Salsa Verde was a nice change from the typical picante sauce. I'm sure we will see these foods fixed up in a different way in a meal later this week. That is the way Triple Play recipes work. I love leftovers, don't you?

24/7 Salsa Verde

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Our family is celebrating with a special Mexican feast tonight. Our Triple Play meal for the week is Southwest Shredded Beef. Tonight we are having it made into burritos. Since the meat is already prepared, I have some time to play with the side dishes. One is based on a great deal I found this past weekend.

Aldi---gotta love it--had fresh tomatillos for 49 cents per pound. I have never made salsa verde before, but a quick recipe search gave me lots of options. It was really quick to make and tastes great. I might add a bit more heat to my portion, but I left it pretty mild for the rest of you.

24/7 Salsa Verde

1 pound tomatillos
1 medium onion
1 seeded fresh jalapeno - two if you like the heat
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 Knorr cilantro cubes
1 Tablespoon Chia seeds (optional)
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 cups water
1 Tablespoon lime juice

Peel husks off tomatillos. Roughly chop them, along with the onion and jalapeno. Add all ingredients except lime juice to a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a hard boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and blend the ingredients in a blender, or use an immersion blender in the saucepan. Add lime
juice and salt to taste.

Now that you have the sauce, how do you eat it? Unfortunately, tortilla chips are pretty much out of consideration. It would be great over chicken, stirred into soups, poured over cream cheese and used as a dip, just get creative. Tonight, I am making a cheese sauce to top some steamed cauliflower. That dish is not made yet, but the sauce is, and it is tasty. Here's how to make it.

Salsa Verde Queso

1 cup salsa verde
8 ounces American cheese slices (Mine are a white cheese we buy at Sam's Club)
1/2 cup half and half

Melt all ingredients together over low heat, stirring frequently. Use sauce over vegetables or chicken, or use as a queso dip.

If I am to get dinner on the table, I had better get to that cauliflower!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Raspberry Coffee Cake

We had company this weekend, so I wanted to make something special for breakfast. I had just included a recipe for a delightful coffee cake in the newsletter for May. I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I made a few quick changes and made a triple berry coffee cake for my family and guest. This is adapted from a recipe on the Low Carb Friends board, thanks to Carolyn F.

Berry Coffee Cake

1 cup almond meal
1/3 cup Splenda, granular, or equivalent sweetener
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter -- cut into 1" pieces
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup half and half
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg
3 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons Splenda, or equivalent sweetener
1 large egg white
1/3 cup fresh raspberries (I used frozen berry blend)
2 tablespoons raspberry Davinci Sugarfree syrup

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine ground nuts, 1/3 cup Splenda, and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Reserve 1/2 cup nut mixture for topping; set aside.

Combine remaining nut mixture, baking powder, baking soda and xanthan gum. Add half and half, heavy cream, extracts, and egg. Beat at medium speed of a mixer until blended. Spoon the batter into an 8-inch round cake pan coated with cooking spray. Combine cream cheese, 2 tablespoons sweetener, and egg white; beat at medium speed until blended. Spread evenly over batter. Top with berries. Sprinkle crumb mixture over raspberries. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center.

Per Serving with 8 : 251 Calories 5g net Carbohydrate (We only got 6 servings)

This is a very pretty dish and everyone liked it. While it was baking I got a batch of Breakfast Bonanza Muffins going as well. We have a birthday party to attend today. I will finish my prep cooking when we get home later this afternoon.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Personal Pizzas Even a Carby Could Love

It is pizza night at our house. With only three home tonight, I chose to make personal pizzas using my muffin top pan. The crust I experimented with tonight is one of the best I have ever made. You can easily pick this crust up with your hands to eat it, yet it is thick like a hand tossed pizza. Although it uses soy flour, with all the added ingredients, I couldn't discern any aftertaste at all. It was really easy to put together too!

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

I served ours with a green salad. I used the leftover pizza red sauce to make a quick tomato vinaigrette dressing. To counter the tang of the vinegar, I dressed the salad with half of the tomato dressing and half of a creamy blue cheese. The taste was sophisticated and surprisingly good. My men are die hard ranch fans, so they wouldn't even try the salad dressing. That's alright, they loved the pizza.