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

Companion blog to the e-book
Available at

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bacon Salad to Go

The whole house smells like bacon. Mmmm. Poor low fatters. Today I oven baked two packages of bacon. This is the lunch I sent with Hubby. I separated the bacon so it would stay crispier until time to eat.

This salad is so incredibly good. The dressing is made with the bacon grease and mayo, slightly sweetened. My recipe calls for sliced mushrooms, which I will have on mine, but John doesn't appreciate a good mushroom unless it is cooked. I left his out, but subbed some cherry tomatoes from the garden. Now if I can stay out of the bacon until lunch time! If you want the recipes, it is in the book in the "E.Z. Fix" section.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shirataki Chicken Lo Mein

The world seems to be conspiring against my attempts to blog lately. This weekend, I suffered some computer problems. My techy hubby managed to get a temporary fix for those. Hope this holds a while. Now my camera has turned against me.

After turning my lunch into a ghastly conglomeration of purple and green, I decided to wait until dinner. Who wants to dine on purple roast beef lettuce rolls? I tried to fix the color of the beef, but then the leaf lettuce turned antifreeze green. How the roast beef turned the same color as the red onion in my photos, only my camera knows. See?

I decided I would run more people away with those pics. Besides, dinner promised to be an adventure...After a real life lunch of delicious shaved roast beef topped with blue cheese dressing and red onion, I set my sights on dinner. No beef to turn odd colors, and I've never had a problem photographing chicken. Well, almost never. I'm certainly no photographer. Still hoping for a new camera for my birthday, but we will all have to wait and see.

My friend Shelley, also a type two diabetic, is trying her best to adapt to a low carb lifestyle. She decided to try Shirataki noodles to make her favorite Alfredo sauce. She just couldn't handle the mouth feel of the noodles, and gave her extras for me to sample. If you aren't familiar with them, these are low carb "noodles" made from tofu and konjac. I hadn't even known I could buy them locally, and was way too cheap to pay the shipping for a product I know gets mixed reviews. But for free? Yep, I am up for the challenge. My first thought was to make a Chicken Alfredo. But then, that is what Shelley didn't like. I researched online and found many who suggest to cook the rinsed noodles in a skillet to firm the texture up a bit. Others say to boil them to reduce the rubbery texture.

I decided to forgo the Alfredo sauce and go with a Chinese theme. Despite the fact that my last blog featured Chinese chicken, we really hadn't had any chicken since then. Honest, we don't eat the same things all the time. Tonight's experiment worked out pretty well, although the noodles would never pass for true lo mein noodles. I think I will consider them in a food group completely unto themselves. They aren't bad; they just aren't pasta. Here's what we ate tonight, and finished. Guess that means they aren't too gross. They didn't get fed to the dogs.

Shirataki Chicken Lo Mein

1 package Shirataki noodles (I used fettuccine)
2 cups diced chicken
1 14 ounce bag of frozen stir fry blend veggies
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon mild vegetable or coconut oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/8 cup diced peanuts

Rinse Shirataki noodles very well in a colander. Let drain well and dry off by hand with a paper towel. Place one tablespoon of sesame oil in a skillet. Cook the noodles over medium heat and stir continuously for several minutes. They may begin to make a popping sound. Add a sprinkle of salt as well. Taste the noodles and continue cooking until they have a firmer texture. Sprinkle with a bit of soy sauce and remove from heat.

Add the remaining sesame oil to the skillet and add the vegetable or coconut oil as well. Add the chicken strips and cook until almost done. You may use frozen pre-cooked chicken cubes as well. Add the vegetables and stir fry to your preference. Sprinkle this mixture with the spices and soy sauce. Return the noodles to the skillet and stir everything together. Once plated, sprinkle chopped nuts over the lo mein.

John liked the dinner; I liked mine better when I added some hot pepper sauce. Then came photo time. I took the shots as usual, then ate my dinner. Once I loaded them onto the computer I see that I am still having some camera problems, as the focus seemed to be...well, not exactly focused. So, what you are left with is a nice close up of our dinner tonight. This is the portion that was in focus. Oh well, you get what you get. Hopefully, things will work out better tomorrow. Real life at hour house again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chinese Chicken Bento

So it is not the prettiest bento lunch ever, but it really was tasty. This Asian themed lunch was spicy and packed with unusual flavors. I had chicken strips that were marinated in soy sauce. I made Asian Coleslaw, chocked full of peanut butter and rice vinegar and topped with pepper flakes for an extra kick. Want that recipe? I also packed a couple of my Italian Love Knot cookies, not so Asian, but light and lemony, so they complimented well. In addition, a brought along some home made yogurt sweetened with Butter Pecan flavoring and made even more interesting with some fresh blueberries and some spiced nuts.

Once I got home tonight, dinner was a breeze because the hubby made it. The grill was the star tonight, and we filled up on a burger buffet. I love having great grilling weather. My youngest is off at a high school football game tonight. Until then, I plan to take it easy! Maybe have some Pumpkin Bake for dessert later. Lots of reasons to love fall.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Balsamic Chicken Strips

These are sooo easy if you already have chicken cubes prepared. Super yummy and no need to thaw! I just plunk down some frozen chicken--yes "plunk" is a word--remember the old game Ker-plunk? Anyway, after the chicken is sizzling away in a skillet with some olive oil, add a can of diced tomatoes, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkle of basil and garlic. Really, that is it. Once it is hot, serve it. The flavors blend so well. Tonight, I served ours with some sauteed cabbage, and the carby boy had garlic toast. Would have been great with green pepper, but I ran out this week. (we ate too many with our fajitas a few nights ago.)

Just another day, another meal for a busy life. Who says we can't enjoy everyday?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Italian Love Knot Cookies

Alright already, a real Italian is going to fling major insults my way for daring to name these cookies as such. But hey, we low carb cooks have to have a little artistic license, right? These certainly look much like their true Italian namesakes. They taste very similar too. But I promise, you there is no way of rolling this dough into a coiled shape that can then be tied into the authentic knot. It is just not happening. In addition to that, I have yet to find a low carb substitute for the much loved candy jimmy topping. Somehow I doubt those were all that authentic anyway.

All that said, if you like the subtle lemon flavoring, the light airy texture, and the soft yellow glow of this cookie ball, you will fall in love. My carby boy liked them. Dad isn't home from work yet to give his evaluation. I made them to go with the Italian themed dinner we are having tonight. Thin crust pizza and salad. So nice to end with a home made dessert. These would be wonderful with a cup of tea, though they are certainly not dunkers.

That is rather amusing, since I based these cookies on a biscotti recipe I found in that older cook book I was loaned the other day. I know how to do Italian biscotti, and trust me, there is no double baking here. I can't understand how they are remotely similar to biscotti, so I adapted the recipe quite a bit and renamed them. The original recipe called for baking them a total of 35 minutes, but mine were burning after 11, so I definitely decided to change some things. Perhaps a soy protein powder bakes much differently than a whey powder, which is what I use.

Here is what I came up with:

Italian Love Knot Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 Tablespoon oil
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon flavoring
1 cup sucralose or equivalent sweetener
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/2 cup unflavored whey protein powder
3/4 cup blanched almond meal

In a mixing bowl, whip butter. Add oil, lemon flavoring and sweetener. Blend well. Mix eggs in one at a time. Add baking powder and mix until distributed. Blend in the whey protein about 1/2 cup at a time, beating to incorporate. Finally, add in almond meal by hand. Chill dough for 30 minutes or more. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with parchment or use a Silpat mat. Scoop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Cookies do not spread. Bake for 7-10 minutes until just browning.
Makes 36-40 cookies.

Hints: Not sure if this matters, but here are a couple of variables which could affect your success. I used GNC whey protein. I used a Pampered Chef scoop to make nice round cookies. The dough is really sticky, so they still aren't perfect. I used lemon flavoring, but the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon lemon zest. You could try that if you have a fresh lemon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pumpkin Bake with Spiced Walnuts

So glad it is officially Fall. This is my absolute favorite time of year--especially good after the hot Oklahoma summer. Although I hear there may be a shortage of pumpkin this year, I just made my first cinnamon spiced pumpkin confection of the season. This bake is not an original recipe, I borrowed it from Linda, here. It is not too spicy, not too eggy (despite the five eggs). Alone, this can be used for breakfast, as it will later in the week for us. But tonight, it is dessert, topped with whipped cream and spiced walnuts. The nuts really stand out in this dish. Try some.

The recipe I used tonight, worked pretty well, but could be a little sweeter in my opinion. Still, the roasted nut flavor is delicious. Maybe I am so accustomed to sucralose that Truvia doesn't taste sweet enough to me.

Spiced Walnuts

1 1/2 cups walnuts
1 egg white
5 packets Truvia
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Whip egg white until frothy. Add 4 packets of Truvia and cinnamon and mix well. Coat nuts with this mixture and spread onto a non stick baking sheet or parchment paper. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Remove nuts from oven and sprinkle the remaining sweetener packet over the nuts.

I baked these nuts on a lower rack in the oven because the pumpkin bake and a meatloaf were already baking away on the upper rack. Mine did get a little too brown. Watch out, it happens quickly! These are good as snacks, in granola, or as garnish for desserts.

Now about that pumpkin shortage--my plant is just now blooming. I somehow doubt that mine will be producing before the first frost! I am betting there will still be some bargain pumpkins around come early November. That is when I buy the Halloween leftovers and process them for the freezer. They are not as sweet as the smaller pumpkins meant just for pie, but they are still good in Punkin Chili and soups.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tuna Snacks. Seriously Square Tuna.

Found a new item at the grocery store this past weekend. Maybe you have seen them, but I surely never have! Rianxeira Tuna Snacks--actually they are little cubes of tuna packed in an easy open box. I like them! They taste just like regular canned tuna, but they are neat and clean. Usually, I hate draining tuna cans. I have one of those can openers that separates the top from the body of the can. When you can't fit the top inside to press against the tuna, it stays wet. Add to that, liquid runs down your fingers...and sometimes sleeves. Yuck. I hate smelling like tuna the rest of the day. Sometimes I buy the pouches, but they are rather pricey and I am rather cheap. These snacks are sold in a 12.7 ounce container, but they are honest enough to admit that it is 6.7 ounces after draining. How often does packaging give that truth? These are imported from Spain, but I found them at Walmart.

I made a tuna salad for John's lunch. That is in the photo above. His salad had a side of cheese crisps. For me, I made some snacks on toothpicks. How fun to make a mini kabob with cheese chunks and olives. They would be good with pickles too, but I was out. The store did not have my Mt, Olive Sugar free sweet pickles this time. There are about 36 tuna cubes in the box. It says that is three and a half servings. We only fed two, but those were generous servings. Zero carbs for $1.88. I think these will be a staple from now on. They will be fantastic for John to keep at the office for emergencies. They would also be excellent for camping--no fridge or can opener needed. They would even be great for kids. Imagine--tuna you can eat with your fingers!

For fancier party fare, I think these could be marinated in balsamic dressing or teriyaki sauce, then paired with cheese and veggies on pretty toothpicks. If you try them, let me know of any ideas you come up with.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Magic Blender Waffles and Homestyle Maple Syrup

A friend sent over a low carb cookbook this I had never heard of. Cookbook junkie that I am, I decided this morning to try a recipe or two. Little did I know that decision would end up taking a good portion of my day! After church, we ran to the store looking for a specialty ingredient--psyllium husks. I have never worked with those before, but I headed to the drug aisles to find out more. The only ones I could find that were not laden with sugar, had other flavors added. That wouldn't work. Then I managed to find one container--but I was not about to pay nearly thirteen dollars for less than one pound of this magical ingredient. Those with sugar added were about half that amount. So on with the substitutions.

I opted to try substituting flaxmeal for the psyllium in a waffle recipe. I'm not sure how well that worked, because the batter was so thin. I tried a bit, and it turned out very light and far too fragile to pull out of the iron. Then I began adding more dry ingredients to try to thicken the batter. After a few attempts, I finally struck upon a recipe that works. In fact, it would be great for breakfasts for two, and is fast because you can make it in a bullet blender.

The waffle is slightly sweet and would be tasty with just a fruit topping and a touch of whipped cream. I decided to try the maple syrup recipe in the cookbook too. That ended up needing some alterations too.

Magic Blender Waffles

Into a blender, add:
2 Tablespoons oil
1 egg
1/2 cup water

Blend until frothy. Then add:
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons Splenda or equivalent sweetener
1/3 cup flaxmeal
1/3 cup unflavored whey protein powder

Blend well and pour into a heated, well-oiled waffle iron. Cook until the steaming stops.

I used a belgian style waffle iron. This made one full waffle. Your iron may be different. I made the maple syrup too, and now I am definitely at my limit for sweet!
Be sure to serve this breakfast with a side of bacon or sausage. The salt is needed unless you have a major sweet tooth.

Homestyle Maple Syrup

3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup Splenda or equivalent
1 1/2 teaspoon gelatin
1 teaspoon maple flavoring
2 Tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)

Bring water to a boil. Dissolve gelatin in the hot water. Add remaining ingredients and chill several hours. If you want to eat it sooner, blend xanthan gum until it is incorporated with no lumps. Let cool.

Also the original recipe was too sweet for me, so I added a bit more water as well and increased the gelatin. I wanted to try it sooner, so I went ahead and added the xanthan gum.

Come to think about it, perhaps low carb ingredients have changed with the fashions. I have never purchased some of the ingredients which were listed in nearly every recipe in this dessert cookbook. Today, we tend to use less soy, and some ingredients have been swapped for easier choices. Since this book was published in 2003, perhaps it just needs an update. Still, it is always fun to see what another creative cook has been up to!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Florentine Supper with Chunky Vegetable Salad with Pesto Dressing

My Humanities class is just finishing up a study on Florence. What could be better than a small celebration complete with that certain Italian flare? Currently, I am working on a spinach lasagna recipe that will use Minute Sausage. I made a version of this lasagna tonight, adding fresh spinach leaves to the layers. It is tasty, but still a little too watery. I plan to change a couple of things next time. So, I will post that recipe later when I see if my changes fix that problem. In the mean time, we all gobbled it up, watery or not! Feel free to experiment on your own.

For the salad, I modified my Chunky Vegetable Salad, but mixed up an incredible yummy Italian pesto dressing. Superb and so easy! I simply added some spoonfuls of pesto to the bottled Italian dressing already waiting in the fridge. It is good to have a change from the standard greens and ranch dressing. Here's a recipe for what we are eating tonight, but feel free to exchange veggies. With it being Friday, I am cleaning out the veggie drawer before my shopping day.

Chunky Pesto Salad

1/2 zucchini
1/4 cucumber
1/4 red onion
1 rib celery
1/2 small green bell pepper
1/2 cup shredded Jack cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
crushed red pepper to taste

1/8 cup Italian dressing
3 teaspoons pesto

Chop all vegetables and add to a serving bowl. Blend Italian dressing and pesto. Drizzle over salad and serve. Top with crushed red pepper if desired.

Pesto makes almost anything taste divine!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pesto Pizza

I adore Pizza. I could eat it everyday! Tonight I made a pizza with some garden fresh basil and lemon balm pesto, some ripe tomatoes, and some leftover Minute Sausage. It is a gourmet taste for sure. I loved it more than the guys did, but I could never get them to try the specialty pizzas when we used to buy pizza out, either...

Walnut Pesto
1 cup fresh basil and lemon balm leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons minced garlic

Blend all ingredients in a food processor and let flavors blend for an hour.

I made the pizza crust recipe which is located here. Love that crispy crust. I made them in my muffin top pan again. I ate two and now I am way too stuffed. I think I should have left it at a single and packed the other for lunch. Next time, I'll remember, but it was so good. It was hard to stop.

While the crusts were baking in the oven, I sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, fresh tomato slices and a touch more garlic. When the crusts were ready to top, I spooned on the fresh pesto sauce. Then I added sausage, pepperoni (not on mine), cheese and the veggie mixture. It was a designer pizza for sure. I wish you could see the pesto sauce in the photo. It really makes the dish flavor wise. Because I sauteed the fresh tomatoes, they didn't water down the crust. The sauteed mushrooms also picked up that wonderful garlic taste. With recipes like this, I really don't miss fancy Italian restaurants--except for the service! Never had to do the dishes there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yard Long Green Beans...or Grasshopper Food

My mom and I experimented this year in our gardens with Yard Long Green Beans, also known as Chinese Green Beans (although they are from Africa)or Snake Beans. You can tell why by the photo of Christian holding one for you to see.

My mom's vines are finally producing like crazy--not sure why they waited until September. Mine are all getting eaten by grasshoppers. Everytime I find a pretty purple bloom, it is eaten by the next morning. Mom brought a bag over for me to cook up. While the bean itself put on quite a spectacular display, I must admit the taste leaves much to be desired. These are very bland. Very very bland. I usually adore home grown green beans, but these are such a disappointment. I seasoned them with bacon salt, rotisserie seasoning and real butter to make them more palatable. Maybe I should have gone with the recipe that left them whole and cooked them up as "Snake Soup."

Though bland, they went well with the tangier Almost Big Bob's White Barbecue Chicken we had for supper. I had made a big batch of sauce perfecting my first recipe, and needed to get that sauce used. My younger boy is beginning to feel better, and there is no word from my college guys about the Swine Flu. I guess no news is good news there.

Anyone else have any ideas on what to do with the rest of these green beans we will be getting before the first frost? My mom and I are open to ideas. She used her first batch in vegetable soup, so she couldn't tell how tasteless they really were. Maybe do as the Chinese do--lots of sesame oil and five spice powder...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Creamy Chicken Soup and Garlic Flax Toast

My poor baby boy. He is really sick today. He just looks worse as the day progresses. The Creamy Chicken Soup I made for him went over well. I like it anytime, but the chicken soup part is supposed to be a miracle cure for the cold, right? Couldn't hurt. Besides, it is mild for his tummy and easy going down a sore throat. He even had seconds after turning down anything for lunch. Dad is not sick, but he liked it too. He should, it is flavorful with cream cheese, tarragon and real cream. Blending the cauliflower and chicken with an immersion blender makes the soup thick and rich. Even avowed cauliflower haters won't know it is there! For us, I made a salad with bacon vinaigrette and some garlic toasts.

Garlic toasts are simply a version of the one minute muffin made savory. I like to bake one then cut it into slices. Once sliced, I top with a slice of cheese and toast in my toaster oven. The ones I made tonight are extra tasty, made with pecan meal. The nutty flavor still comes through, despite all that garlic! Here's my recipe for the toasts. The delicious soup is in the crock pot section of the e-book.

Garlic Flax Toasts

2 Tablespoons nut meal
2 Tablespoons flax meal
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon granular Splenda or equivalent sweetener (optional)
1 Tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1 slice cheese, optional

Mix dry ingredients in a microwavable cup. Add oil and egg and stir well. Cook in the microwave for one minute or slightly more until not wet in the center. The mixture will rise over the top during cooking. Release muffin from the cup and slice into rounds. Top each round with a touch more garlic powder or salt. Top with a quarter slice of cheese and toast in a toaster oven until cheese is melted. Without the cheese, toast until lightly crisped.

It certainly seems like the cold and flu season is starting early this year. My middle boy has been exposed to the swine flu at college. They say he will be quarantined to his suite if he comes down with it. As a mommy, I am worried who would take care of my sick boy if that comes to pass. They would have a hard time keeping this mom away. I'm just sending up prayers my college boys stay healthy. At least my 16 year old still lives at home where I can comfort him. Prayers for all are appreciated!

Super Fast Bento Lunch

Yesterday, I spent the day at the doctor. Turned out to be nothing, but wrecked havoc with the schedule, for sure. I was too tired to blog after I got home. Today, I am trying to get back on track and play catch up, but I have a boy who is under the weather a bit. I think I may change the menu and add some Creamy Chicken Soup to the crockpot.

I made a quick lunch for my hubby, almost identical to the one I had packed for myself yesterday. It is all finger foods, and is probably the fastest bento lunch ever. I made three deli roll ups and added a cajun flavored mustard. I gave John a cup of blueberries, two more cups of deli items--one of cheese slices and another pepperoni, and finally a rib of celery cut up. Yesterday, mine had olives rather than celery, and wasabi almonds rather than pepperoni. This kind of bento is ready in under five minutes. Who can beat that?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Grandma's Salad

When I was in college, my grandma used to send me potato salad to take back to school with me. I loved her unusual mixture of ingredients, and so did my room mates. The more we praised her, the more interesting things would find their way into the next batch. She tended to add what she had in the fridge. Somehow, it always turned out delicious--especially to "always looking for a hand out" college students!

This is very much like her old recipe. I have substituted cauliflower for the potatoes of course. But the addition of cheese, bell pepper, bacon--those are pure Hazel specialties! Other yummy additions would be olives, ham cubes, or grape tomato halves.I took this to our picnic last night. Because it was raining, we had a smallish turnout. We will finish off the leftovers with burgers today. My friend NeeCee took Maple's Meatballs, a recipe from the cookbook, and they were a huge hit! I think I saw more second and third helpings on those than an any other dish. I was full enough that I managed to stay clear of the brownies too. Our rainy picnic turned out to be quite fun. The kids loved playing in the rain.

Grandma's Salad

1 head cauliflower
1/2 red onion
1 rib celery
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1-2 hard boiled eggs
2 strips crumbled bacon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon mustard
1 packet Splenda
2 Tablespoons sugar free sweet pickle relish
1/2 teaspoon Bacon Salt

Steam the cauliflower and break it into bite sized pieces. Dice the vegetables and add to cauliflower. Chop the egg bacon and add them to the vegetables. Mix the mayonnaise, mustard, relish and Splenda in a separate bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir to coat. Sprinkle with Bacon Salt and chill.

This is a pretty good salad, even if you are not soaking wet!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tequila Chicken Bento Lunch

Tequila Chicken was our Triple Play Meal this week. I had planned to make wraps for sandwiches, but never got to the right store to buy lavash bread. That's alright, because the chicken is just as good as mini nuggets. I am sure it is better without all that bready stuff anyway. I did make quesadillas for my carby boy.

The Tequila Chicken is in the large silicon cup. I made a Green Chile hard boiled egg. That was yummy! Added to that was a cup of green pepper bites from my mom's garden. Good news, I finally have a pepper growing on my plant too--and my squash plant is finally producing. A cup of fresh blueberries was dessert. Not too fancy a meal, but tasty just the same.

Tomorrow we have a potluck picnic. I think I will bring some cauliflower mock potato salad and some sausage slices with an assortment of flavored mustards. Now if we can just beat the 70% chance of rain!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Today is super busy. We just grazed on planned leftovers today--homemade yogurt for breakfast, Cheezeburger Quiche for lunch, and some Bobby-Q Pork for dinner. Glad nothing else was on the menu. We managed to break a window out on our car today, and had to try our own home made version of fixing that. Aah, trash bags taped to the car is a thing of beauty! I am trying to keep my sense of humor. In the past, days like this would have led to eating out and a major binge. Now, even if I don't have time to fix a proper dinner, there is still always a meal or two that will save the day. Gee, no excuses!

On a better note, my business student, the one needing a thousand dollar brake job, told me that he pitched my cookbook idea to his strategic management class. It was the most popular business plan. Now he and his team are going to put together a complete business plan and marketing strategy for the Diner. They will do all the things I can only imagine. I have no budget, but they will get to use a simulated budget. Sounds cool. Maybe he will graduate in May and get a loan to make it all happen. Then we could make my little cooking system into a real business, and I would get to have my boy closer to home. I think we could work together, even if he is a bit bossy sometimes. When life's troubles seem only to accumulate, it is fun to imagine better things! Now if I just had a spare thousand dollars around here...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tastes like Wendy's Chili

Chili was not my main focus tonight, but I am so glad I made it. I was trying for a real diner style meal, with a cup of chili, a salad and some home fries. Those fries just didn't work out too well. I tried the radish home fries off Linda's site, but they never worked out for me. The texture was all wrong, and I pretty much burned them trying to get them crispy. What a waste of my precious bacon salt! Maybe something was wrong with my radishes, because mine never turned the rosy color as in Linda's. If you want to give it a go, the recipe is here.

My second thought chili was really good though, especially if you have a fondness for Wendy's chili. This is mild, and the pressure cooker makes the beef tender just like theirs. I wish I could give the exact recipe, but I wasn't expecting to be posting about this, so I just eye-balled it. Not to mention I ran out of chili powder. The following is my approximation of my recipe. Be looking for more chili recipes as I get ready for our upcoming Chili Cook-off in my support group. My other pressure cooker chili recipe is here.

Tastes Like Wendy's Chili

2 pounds ground beef
1 onion
1 green bell pepper
1 rib celery
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
8 ounce tomato sauce
1 cup water
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 can black soy beans
shredded cheddar and sour cream for topping

Brown and drain ground beef. Place it in the pressure cooker. Dice onion, celery and bell pepper in a food processor. Add all ingredients to the cooker and mix together. Bring up to pressure and cook for 20 minutes. Top with cheese and sour cream.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised my radish fries were a failure. I am having a rough day today. The toilet has been broken. The plumber came to fix it. With a part that cost $27.50, the bill for 15 minutes of work totaled $127.50. Yikes. We even had the replacement part, but the plumber wouldn't use ours. I figured it out. The plumber was making $400 dollars per hour. The ad claimed no fee for a service call, but gee whiz--$100 for labor? Sure wish I could work for that! Add to that, my oldest called home to let us know the master brake cylinder went out in his truck. More good news. I will thank the Lord that although his brakes failed, no one was hurt, he did not have a wreck, and he did not damage anyone's property. I will be thankful in all things. Add to that, the chili was tasty. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

What is the garden producing at your house? This is what I envisioned by this time of year. Instead, I have a few cherry and grape tomatoes and lots of herbs. My squash just will not cooperate. Rather than pouting, I will use the fruits of someone else's labor. Aldi is my favorite place for inexpensive produce, but you may have a green thumb, or at least be able to find some deals at a local farmer's market. Maybe even a friendly neighbor will drop some zucchini by.

I have made zucchini gratin before, but I never combined both tomatoes and zucchini. It is pretty, and the tastes combine so well. It is a wonderful summer dish when you have produce, but can tolerate turning the oven on to 400! We have been having cooler days here, so I gambled and planned this for tonight. The weather is cooperating as storms are moving nearby. I am serving this vegetable feast with some simple steam grilled Italian sausages.

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

1 large zucchini squash
1-2 small tomatoes
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Slice the vegetables into thin rounds. Line them, overlapping, in a casserole dish, alternating rows of zucchini and tomato. Top with melted butter and seasonings. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top to cover vegetables. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the top is crispy and golden.

Once it was served on plates, I added a bit more cheese for my boy who we tease is part mouse. If you are too, you may appreciate another sprinkle. I, however, adore the taste of the vegetables bursting through. So good.

White Barbecue Sauce on Smokey Chicken

I admit, on this recipe I am being a big thief! My mom saw Big Bob Gibson's white barbecue sauce featured on TV, and we duplicated it for Labor Day--well, almost. We found so many recipes, that it became a blend of several, but the same general concept is still there---a very tart, tangy, totally flavorful sauce.

Our version is borrowed a few ideas from Paula Deen, and a few from various other sources. Paula added the horseradish, and other recipes varied with apple juice or just vinegar. Being low carbers, we opted for the vinegar only, and added a touch of legal sweetener. Don't expect to try this recipe and like it straight from the jar unless you are in the habit of drinking vinegar for health. But it does something magical to a smokey chicken breast. Try it, especially if you are in a rut.

White Barbecue Sauce 

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.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Farmer's Feast

They're all wrapped up and ready to chill. What you are looking at is a Multiply Meals Casserole, Farmer's Feast, all baked, sliced and wrapped in individual servings. These little jewels will chill then go into the freezer. After that, the frozen cubes will go into heavy duty freezer bags labeled and dated. If they are left in the thin plastic wrap, they would get freezer burned.This method of prep makes them so easy to fix for a nearly instant breakfast. Just unwrap the plastic wrap, put on a plate, add a minute in the microwave, and you have a hot, low carb breakfast with home made taste and no preservatives. They are also super for lunch boxes or the late night munchies.

For this bunch, I added some green peppers since they are abundant this time of year. I also cut my casserole in slightly different sizes. The larger slices are for my hubby, and the smaller ones are for me. My egg sensitivity won't let me have too big a slice. For my prep day this afternoon, I just baked up 24 individual servings. Oh it feels good to have that many hearty breakfasts ready and waiting in the freezer. The recipe is in the e-book. It is a standard we never seem to get tired of around here. Who gets tired of sausage, eggs and cheese?

Today, I am also making Tequila Lime Chicken and Italian Chicken Dump. Boneless, skinless breasts were on sale for $1.68. Can't beat that. What are you cooking?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Good to Grill Steak Without the Grill

I left home early today, with instructions to the guys on what to eat today. I left a package of thawing Good to Grill Steak Dump for dinner. John will be working overtime this fall as a sports producer. That means he will be working during tons of football games. Good bye to Saturday night church. So long to dinner together as a family afterward. But, hello overtime! I am blessed to be married to a hard working man.

For this meal, I gave him the option of grilling out the whole package at home before he left, or taking raw meat from this dump recipe to work with him and grilling it on the Foreman grill they keep at the radio station. Judging by the uncooked meat left in the kitchen, I'd say he's grilling at work.

That left dinner for Christian and me. I never use the grill outside, so I chose to try something new. In this particular dump, I had used the steak medallions we buy at the monthly dock sale. They are cut like mini steaks already. Although I usually discard the marinade, this time I chose to keep it and slow cook the medallions in a covered skillet. I even cut them a little smaller. To that skillet I added a few handfuls of frozen green beans. Now that it is done, I have to say I love it this way! The beans picked up the flavor of the vinegar and Worcestershire marinade. They are really good...very similar to German green beans. It was all too easy. For my carby boy, I just added some leftover rice and a slice of garlic toast. Yum. Dump meals are so easy, you gotta love 'em.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Night Pizza

Tired tonight. Needed groceries. Made pizzas.

They turned out really good. They just didn't quite fill the stomach of my teenager. You know how it is to feed boys! After this blog, I will have to get another batch going for him.

This is my simplest version of Pizza Buffet. ..perfect when you are tired. I had forgotten to buy extra eggs last week. We needed eggs today to make egg tempera paints in my art class. The kids needs won out over dinner, and I had to figure a way to make pizza crust without eggs. Luckily, I still had something that worked just fine. Our crust tonight was low carb tortillas. I simply topped them with a blob of cream cheese. Hint: put the cold cream cheese on top of each tortilla and stick them in the oven while you chop the veggies. That will melt the cream cheese and make it all soft and easy to spread. Before I did anything else, I baked a 12 ounce batch of bacon in the oven.

Once the tortillas had the melted cream cheese spread to the edges, I sprinkled it with garlic powder and Italian seasonings. I used my kitchen scissors to snip the bacon into tiny bites. To those toppings, I added red onion and green bell pepper. Back into the oven for about 8 minutes and we had the thin, crispy supreme pizza that we love.

Now off to make another batch for the boy and to plan my grocery list for tomorrow.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Deli Bento Lunch

Tonight we had Lebanese Dinner from the crockpot. Even though it tasted yummy, it wasn't that pretty. I took a frugal little shortcut and used some slaw mix that was in its last days instead of chunks of cabbage. It still tasted like a cabbage roll, but the slaw just kind of got lost among the turkey and sausage.

So, I thought I would show you the bento lunch I just packed for tomorrow instead. It is filled with deli items. I had some cheese balls still in the freezer, so I defrosted a couple of those. I used them as filling for some mini roll-ups using salami slices. The little pillows are turkey slices filled with the cheeseball and wrapped up like a little package. I threw in some diced dill spears, pepperoni chips, some cocoa roasted almonds, and an olive/cherry tomato kabob on a cheese slice.

That is a regular skewer that I decorated for the kabob. I have made quite a few for my bento meals. They are so fun to make. This one is decorated on the end with some craft foam beads I found on sale. Most pony beads also fit. We even found some old wooden beads back in the craft closet. The great thing is that these don't need any glue, so it is easy to remove them from the skewer after each use. That way, I can start with a fresh clean skewer each time and not have to try to wash them. I also found a new silicon divider at Old Time Pottery. It was a perfect fit and the best color match for my green pencil box bento. I don't do all this cutesy stuff for my guys, but hey, a girl needs a creative outlet from time to time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Food Snobs Beware, Comfort Food Deluxe

I remember way back to my 17th Christmas. I came down with chicken pox on Christmas day. I missed my Aunt Gladis' broccoli and rice casserole--the dish I loved the most. They saved some for me, along with her world's best chocolate cake. That is the first food I ate after I was able to eat again. It still means comfort to me.

When my boys were little, I had to cover almost all vegetables with cheese sauce to get them eaten. No bother, I loved them the same way. I recall my two year old Pearson chanting for "broccy cheese" at the buffet we used to frequent. Good times.

This dish is embarrassingly easy--too simple even to put in the e-book, but it tastes just like my aunt's casserole. I just steam/boiled the frozen broccoli. Drained it and added some white American/Swiss cheese slices. They melt completely and don't need to have other ingredients added in, so that is a super simple step. Then, I just opened a can of "luncheon loaf" from Aldi...Spam by any other description. Don't razz me too much. It lists 0 carbs, but I'm assuming there are some carbs there. Not too many, though. It is worth it for the convenience of a pantry stable meat for an E.Z. Fix meal. I just added that in for us, and dinner was served.

Well, not quite. I made a pot of rice for my boy. One pot will last him several meals. I will just bag the cooked rice up in individual bags. Those, I can pull out when he needs a rice base for our meats and sauces. No extra work on my part. For us, I added just half a slice of Braum's Carbwatch bread. It is still carby, about net 6 1/2 carbs per slice, so we only ate half a slice each. It is a nice ingredient for those who can do some gluten and some grain. After all, this is a forever way of eating for us, and the occasional bread makes it feel less like a diet. The Braum's bread is reduced in price once in a while to just a bit over a dollar per loaf. My mom spots it and brings it by from time to time. It is also the best choice for the son who carb balances his meals rather than strictly cutting carbs. Of course, he is away at school now.

I add another class to my schedule tomorrow, so it will be a crockpot night for sure.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cheezeburger Quiche Multiply Meal

Tuesdays are going to be my Multiply Meals prep night more often now. It just fits my schedule better since Fridays are my most hectic day. Tonight, I fried up five pounds of ground beef. Three went into the Cheezeburger Quiches. The remaining is bagged up as Minute Beef. That will make life easier on another day.

The quiche you see in the photo is actually a double portion. I saved one in a regular casserole dish to wrap and freeze. It is good to have that uniform size when they stack in the freezer. This one is in a larger casserole dish. We ate from that one for dinner. The rest, I am bagging up into individual servings. Those will be so handy for lunches and dinners when everyone is home at a different time. To freeze individual portions, I just wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze. Then I put all the frozen servings into a gallon sized freezer bag with a label. Don't forget that all important step. Even though you are sure you will remember, once frozen everything looks remarkably the same!