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

Companion blog to the e-book
Available at

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Natural Sodas made to Order

I have an on and off love affair with soda pop. (Pop in my corner of the world, country bumpkin that I am) I can go weeks with out it--even months. Then something happens I'm hooked again. Diet Dr. Pepper was always my curse. Love it even though I generally stay away from aspartame. My poor youngest kiddo. This summer, he was taken off all sodas. The only alternative sweetener he could have was stevia, and those pops are pricey, so he did without.

When I was out shopping, I watched the video about the Soda Stream at Bed Bath and Beyond. Armed with a 20% off coupon, I splurged and got one for our "family" gift. We have become like mad scientists playing with it. So far, it is a big success at our house. With the boys all grown, there just aren't enough toys to keep us all entertained like in the old days.

I like that I can makes standard colas, fruit pop, even really close versions of Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper. It is handy to have all the goods at home and not have to run to the store to fulfill guests' preferences or our own occasional cravings. It is ready to make when we are. Smaller one liter bottles don't have as big a chance at going flat either. The price works out to about 50 cents a liter. Pretty darn good price, and no bottles taking up space in the kitchen.

But that is only part of the story. The real reason I bought it has nothing to do with convenience, the earth friendly bottles, or even the flavors. The reason I got it is so that we can make sparkling waters and stevia sweetened drinks that fit our tastes and particular diets. I never liked plain sparkling water. I need a little flavor and some sweetness. But I never liked the sicky sweet orange sodas either. I am somewhere in between. By making these ourselves, we can easily adapt every single glass we make! The recipes are endless.

So far, I have not bothered making a syrup base. I have simply stirred in some liquid or powdered stevia. Those come in fun flavors, although my vanilla and chocolate don't appeal to me as soda flavors. My favorite mix so far is a teaspoon of orange juice concentrate, a packet of True Orange crystals and some tiny spoonfuls of powdered stevia. This is refreshing and all natural. My kit came with some flavoring essences too. I originally purchased those just for Christian, since artificial sweeteners are a no no on his plan. I am still playing with those, but they seem to me to need a little more flavor. I have read that some people buy LorAnn flavoring oils. That is a possibility. I even found a company that sells soda flavoring syrups sweetened with stevia or xylitol or erythritol. When I have some extra funds, I may order some of those. I saw the flavor of lime cola that interested me. In the mean time, I am going to be happy playing chemist with my flavorings we have here at home already. I am betting nothing much will beat a fresh lime, though. Love that!

I will keep you posted on my long as my co2 cannister lasts, that is. The only drawback is that I will have to exchange those at the store when it runs out. But the store is near my house and I always love a chance to see the kitchen gadgets in that huge housewares department!

I am thinking we may have some home made ginger ale for our New Year's Bubbly this year. Doesn't that sound good? Some sliced fresh ginger boiled with some sweetener and water. Then add that to the bubbly. Fancy enough for me! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme

If you have followed me for very long, you know I love dessert shots--those tiny glasses of yumminess. I love it that I don't have to serve a big dessert that no one really has room for. No one certainly needs that many additional calories. With dessert shots, you get rich, quality ingredients with no need to scrimp to save calories. True deliciousness with built in portion control.

In addition, dessert shots give the sweet addicts among you a chance to sample more than one dessert. I know I do have a hard time choosing. I have been a fan of sharing desserts for a long time when we go out to dinner. This is kinda like that.

These Pots de Creme are incredibly rich and totally decadent. Perfect for Christmas or Valentine's Day. The presentation is so pretty too. I have a selection of shot glasses and cordials I use. I purchased some espresso spoons for these at a local restaurant supply house. If you do the same, be careful when dishwashing. It was one of those tiny spoons that got caught in my garbage disposal pipe and then flooded my kitchen when the dishwasher leaked. That sure takes the fun out of things.

I used the chocolates recipe that I posted the other day for the base of this dessert. Those substitute for the chocolate chips or dark chocolate bars that most recipes use. I chose a simplified version that does not require oven baking or water baths. I did notice a tiny bit of separation in my final mixture. That may come from the coconut oil. It might not happen if you used a commercial chocolate chip, but it really was not enough to be concerned with if you are going for taste rather than perfection.

Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme

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 am serving this tonight at our Christmas Eve sit down dinner. This is our elegant meal. We are having Cranberry Roast Beef, Onion Dipped Potatoes (yes, these are the full carb version this year, so we will go easy), Oven Roasted Vegetables with Walnut Oil. The dessert table will have a New York Cheesecake with a nut crust, these Pots de Creme and a home made Apple Pie my youngest made with his girlfriend yesterday. Our appetizers this year are Sausage Balls, Bacon Wrapped Pineapple, and Pepper Jack Cheese Curds.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday. I still have about a million things to do before I get to relax and enjoy the fruits of my labors, but I wouldn't have it any other way. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Honey Roasted BBQ Better Than Chick-Fil-A

When my mom and I were out Christmas shopping a day or so ago, we stopped for lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I had a chicken salad, but she had a sandwich meal. They included a packet of Honey Roasted Barbecue Sauce. We both loved it. Somehow, we had never tried it before. Mom went back to the counter and requested another packet. She asked me to duplicate it at home if I could. That good!

I read the ingredients on the label, but still, this was a tall order. The sauce is not red, not white. Somewhere in between. I decided to Google to see if there were any copycat recipes, and there are. I decided to low carb the recipe. I mean, no wonder it is good, the original is filled with both fat and sugar! I switched to a healthier fat and different sweeteners. My substitute honey is made with maltitol, so remember this is a condiment, not a sauce to be consumed in larger quantities! Gastric issues aside, this is fabulous! Not as tangy as a honey mustard, but much creamier than a traditional barbecue sauce. No wonder you have to request this sauce at the Chick-Fil-A counter!

Honey Roasted BBQ 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.

Since this was a hit, I packed some sauce into an upcycled mustard jar and added a label. This will be one of my mom's gifts this year. Lucky for me, I have the leftovers in the kitchen to add to my lunch!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

This is it. I have made chocolates in the past. I have made the cocoa flavored coconut bark. This recipe combines both to make the best low carb chocolates ever! You gotta try it if you love chocolate and want a real holiday treat.

Borrowing some inspiration from Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food, I made it three ways this morning. I substituted here and there, and added some wonderful ingredients. I love all the variations and can't wait to try more. First, for the purists, I made plain, dark chocolate. I poured it into my cute Christmas molds, but any container would do. These would be fantastic chocolate chips, as Carolyn's recipe was.

Next, I grabbed some sugarfree peppermints. After making a mess crushing them on the counter, I added them to the chocolate base along with a bit of peppermint extract. Oh my heavens, if you like mint, these are exceptionally wonderful. I must warn you though, that the sugarfree peppermints are harder to break into little chunks than the sugary counterparts. Mine became more like peppermint powder mixed with larger chunks. I had hoped the candy would poke through the chocolate so I could tell them all apart, but it remained hidden to the eye. Totally different story for the taste buds though, and that is a good thing. The flavor really pops. BTW, I buy my sugarfree candy at Dollar Tree. It is what is in my advent calendar for a little treat each day.

Lastly, maybe my favorite, is the coconut almond chocolates. Back when I was little, my sister and I always fought over the coconut cups from the box of Valentine or Christmas chocolates. Remember those that came in the tiny foil cups? I don't know if it was because we liked them best, or if it was because those are ones we knew were not just the yucky fondant filled candies. I never cared for those. Give me some texture and some additional flavor beside sweetness. Those little squares were just too hard to identify. Yes, we did resort to poking them on the bottom to try to determine what was inside. If it was pink, it got put back, hoping no one would take notice.

Now back to today's chocolates. I simply added in some unsweetened dried coconut and some chopped almonds. Wonderful stuff! I spooned it into foiled candy cups, just like in those old boxes. I tried some in the molds. They worked too, but it was a little difficult to get all the shapes completely filled, as this mixture is much thicker.

I popped these in the freezer to firm them up. After they hardened, I removed them from the mold. I am thinking they would do best kept in the fridge. They are, however, sturdier than the regular coconut bark. They would be fine on a party tray, but I wouldn't carry them in my purse or lunchbox on a warm day--at least not unless I really wanted to have them to be finger lickin' good.

For sweetening, I used a combination of Sweetleaf vanilla stevia drops and a new sweetener made with a xylitol blend--Ideal. I used the powdered sugar style. It was good, and didn't have the cooling sensation erythritol has.

Low Carb Chocolates (with variations)

4 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sweetener (xylitol or erythritol suggested)
20 drops vanilla stevia

Melt chocolate and coconut oil over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder and sweeteners until well combined. Pour into molds or candy cups. Let harden in freezer or refrigerator.

1. Candy cane--add crushed sugarfree candy canes or peppermints and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

2. Coconut Almond--add 1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut and 1/4 cup chopped almonds

3. Mr. Goodbar -- add 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

4. Peanut butter -- add 2 Tablespoons of powdered peanut butter (PB2 brand tested)

Warning for you milk chocolate devotees. This is more of a dark chocolate. I happen to be in the minority that prefers dark chocolate. You might try adding some cream or coconut butter to lighten it up, but I just don't feel the need! This could be easily used to coat nuts, for dipping cookies or strawberries, whatever you would use melted chocolate for. No need to be deprived, or pay the super high prices for sugar free chocolate chips. This is easy and quick. If you have unrefined coconut oil, there will be a slight coconut flavor. If you don't want any of that taste, I used the LouAna brand from Walmart.

Be sure to let me know any new ways you might think of to use this basic recipe. I love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Coffees

Christmas Coffee. Jingle Java. Whatever you want to call it, I am calling it Christmas presents. I must admit, I have a slight case of Keurig envy. I love the idea of those single brew cups. Fresh hot coffee everytime. A different flavor every cup. Yeah. That fits my personality. Unfortunately, not my budget. I found a solution, and I am sharing my inspiration with others this Christmas.

I really do like my French Press to make coffee. I own the three cup version, which is really one large mug here in the U.S. Just my size. But I also love all those specialty flavors. When out Christmas shopping, I was taken with all the choices those with the specialty machines have. I wanted that variety too. But wow, then came price shock. I knew I would not spend the Keurig prices. In order to get a wide variety of flavored coffees in the regular sizes, I would be handing over $5 to $9 per bag. That was not happening! I searched all the stores until I finally settled on a gift box of flavored coffees at Walmart. For $10, I got 12 flavors, each enough for one pot. I opened those and measured out enough for one of my pots in the French Press. I got 5 cups per package.

Off I went to Hobby Lobby, coupon in hand, to buy some of those tiny ziploc bags for jewelry. Those are the perfect size for a single serving of java. I used my printer and some label paper to make individual packets. Many of these I will be able to re-use a few times. (a new label will be able to go over the old) They will keep the coffee tightly sealed so I can open and sample lots of flavors without having to drink a whole pot each time. Now, I can choose between Irish Cream, Chocolate Almond, Creme Brulee, Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Black Silk and more...yum.

To decorate my tabletop, I printed some cut coffee themed stickers--borrowed those from the web--and added them to some cans. One can is an old coffee can that I touched up with silver and antique white spray paint. I added a wire handle and some scrap ribbon I had. The other can is a food tin that I also spray painted off white. I used a light coat so that the original red paint showed through a bit. It looks antiqued and really cute.

I am giving my mom a French Press for Christmas. The tin can will go perfectly with her kitchen, and she will be treated to some fun coffee flavors. Because she lives alone, the size is perfect for her. These individual coffees in the tin can will make a nice gift to go along with the coffee press.

These gift boxes of coffee will be harder to find after Christmas, so you had better stock up now. These little home made coffee packets would make fun stocking stuffers too. On Christmas, everyone can choose the flavor they want most! If you don't have a press, the one pot packages tend to cost around $1.50 per pot. Or you could buy a pound and use bigger ziploc bags to package enough for a full pot. I think I may make some four cup bags for my college boy with his 4 cup drip brewer.

I love coffee as a dessert. A sweetened flavored coffee can get me through the munchies like nothing else.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Maple's Link Sausages

One of my favorite recipes in the Diner e-book is for Maple's Meatballs. I love sweet flavors blended with salty savory ones. Today, I made a big batch to use three different ways. I made some as meatballs as usual. These are a great appetizer for parties. I am putting some in the freezer to bring back out for Christmas Eve. If I don't hide them in there, these will be nibbled away by this afternoon!

Also, I made some into link sausages and small patties. Those we had with breakfast the traditional way with scrambled eggs. After I got tired of rolling and shaping meat patties, I browned the rest. I am planning to use it in a simple breakfast bake with eggs and coconut flour, much like the one I made with bacon the other day. I think I will sweeten that one up a little more. I'll let you know how that goes.

Now I am off to finish up some crafting I am doing for gifts this year. I am hoping to try out some new holiday treats too. I wonder just how much I can squeeze into one day? Enjoy the season, everyone.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sketti Squash Casserole

Trying to stay away from Christmas cookies? Me too! This cheesey casserole makes it easier. I made a Multiply Meals recipe tonight, so we will be able to have this another time too! This will freeze well, and will be greatly appreciated on another busy evening. This makes two large or three smaller casseroles.

Sketti Squash Casserole

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 honestly don't why more people don't use spaghetti squash. The mild flavor works well with so many sauces. My hash brown casserole is great with this squash, as is this one with an Italian twist. If you think ahead and cook the squash early in the day, it goes together really fast.

I have all my guys home from school now, so there are lots of mouths to feed. It really helps to have as much done ahead as possible. Less time in the kitchen and more time with the famiy--that's always a good thing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bacony Breakfast Bake

Yummy breakfast today, and too cute if I do say so myself. This breakfast bake is made from coconut flour, bacon, cheese and egg. What's more to love? These can be baked in individual casseroles, like my cute ones above, or in a standard casserole dish. I baked the rest in a stoneware loaf pan. They can also be muffins. Very versatile.

I baked the bacon this morning. That is a nice activity for a cold day. Two full cookie sheets full--almost two pounds. One sugarfree bacon and one regular, thick sliced. I love doing bacon that way because there is less mess and no grease popping on my face. The strips stay flatter too. I use my kitchen shears to chop the bacon once it has cooled. So easy. Now if I can get the leftovers into a freezer bag before I nibble them all away!

This dish is not really like a quiche. It is similar to a savory muffin, but not quite that either. That's why I chose just to call it a bake. Everybody liked it and asked me to fix it again. I am pretty sure the leftovers will freeze well for a quick hearty breakfast or lunch another day. I may just have to adapt this one to be a Multiply Meal!

Bacony Breakfast Bake

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.

Because the coconut flour makes this more breadlike, it really reminds me of the breakfast casseroles I used to make with a bread base. The coconut flour adds a slight sweetness, almost like a polish kolache. Very nice. I am thinking the egg base would be excellent with sausages too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Almond Amaretto Coffee

It is cold here! The former carby boy and I were out putting up Christmas lights this evening. I was glad there was a bit of leftover coffee from this morning. I have been researching how to make my own home made flavored creamers and or individual coffee packets for my coffee press--more on that later. I will get it perfected soon.

But in the mean time, I found this flavoring online. Then, I actually managed to find it at my local Food Pyramid store. Flavour Creations makes tablets which will go into any cup of coffee. They are only slightly sweetened, so you can add your sweetener of choice. They do have a tiny bit of bulking material to make up the tablet, but they are still listed as 0 calorie, 0 fat, less than 1 gram of carb per serving. I can do that.

Gotta tell ya, if you like Amaretto Cappuccinos, you will like this! I added one tablet and some real cream. I am in dessert coffee heaven, even though the coffee was from earlier today. It totally took away any interest I had in cooking dinner. Yes, I am doing that anyway.

One package has 48 tablets, using one per cup of coffee. The container is great to go into a purse, lunch bag or briefcase. One of these would make a cup of office joe taste like a coffeehouse treat! My store sold the tablets for $3.59. Pretty good deal. The flavors were limited there--besides the Amaretto, they had French Vanilla and Hazelnut. The company lists Dutch Chocolate, Caramel, Irish Cream and White Chocolate Raspberry as well. I was really hoping for their Cinnamon Pecan flavor, but couldn't find it. These can be ordered online through Amazon, but my first glance through looked like I would have to order 6 packages.

I am thinking these might be useful to flavor protein shakes and smoothies too. Maybe even some low carb ice cream or puddings. I may have to try that and get back to you!

Now back to dinner--Turkey Red Sauce over steamed cauliflower, topped with lots of cheese! Coffee cup is empty and that is sounding good again!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Walnut Thumbprints

These cookies are not new, nor are they for cookie divas. Thumbprint cookies have been around for years and years. This low carb version is simple and flavorful. Best yet, it doesn't require specialty ingredients, and it is super quick. I used my Ninja machine to do everything from making the walnut butter to mixing the cookie dough. One bowl clean up! Granted there is a trade off. Being quick, being yummy, being healthy, they somehow lack in the "thing of beauty" category. So do what I did, put them on a pretty plate and they will magically seem more attractive!

Walnut Thumbprints
1 1/2 cup walnuts
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 egg
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
sweetener equivalent to 1/2 cup of sugar
spreadable fruit jam, or sugar free jam, any flavor

In a food processor, combine walnuts and coconut oil. Process until it becomes walnut butter. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides once or twice. When that mixture is the consistency of a chunky nut butter, add the egg, coconut, soda and sweetener. Blend it until incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes.

Roll dough into balls or use a small scoop. Lay out 24 balls onto a cookie sheet. Use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each ball as you press down. Fill this cavity with a small amount of jam. Bake for about 15 minutes at 325. Let cool on cookie sheet.

I didn't chill my dough on this batch, and some oil/egg leaked out from the dough. That didn't seem to affect the cookies at all. Chilling longer may help. Using a scoop, these stay looking a little more like nests. Rolling by hand will make a flatter cookie. I baked them on my knock -off Silpat mat, so you may need to prepare a sheet with parchment or a baking liner.

The flavor combo of walnuts and coconut, topped with strawberry jam is delightful. In a season for showy cookies, this cookie may not be a star but it sure tastes good. I assume it is like what they say about cruise ship food--that it looks incredible, but tastes--well, that is another story. Give me the simple Diner food anyday!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Red Wine Sausage and Peppers

We love sausage. It can be hard to find a good low carb sausage though, which isn't packed with carby fillers. Even some all natural brands are filled with sugar. Usually, finding a good sausage means handing over some serious cash. A while back though, John and I found these sausages by Colosimo's, "the sausage people." Pretty much all natural. A few of the flavors have some msg, and a touch of dextrose. But at one carb a generous link, it is a great deal. My son who is on a special diet could eat these. I was elated! Then, after we sampled three flavors, we went back for more. They were no where to be found. So sad. I loved the Italian New York style--the wine sausage too.They made an excellent change from chicken and beef. Better yet, I didn't have to do the grinding and shaping.

Then joy of joys. Just after I passed the samples lady giving away Hillshire Farms sausage, I spied them. There, in the freezer case sat the chance for us--all of us-- to eat these fabulous sausages again. Better yet, they were on sale. For these today, I paid just $3 a package at Reasor's foods. So, I grabbed five packages and stuck them into my freezer. I kept one out for dinner, though.

So I changed my plans from chicken to these sausages. Christian was happy. Dad was happy. Both health issues accommodated. Andrew was happy too--even though he doesn't eat a special diet and ate his with some bread. I can't really taste the wine, but they are good.

I served ours with grilled onions and peppers. On top, I grated some cheese. Super yummy and easy like no one's business. Better still, I got kisses for preparing this meal!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nutty Cheese Crisps and Sesame Crunchers

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

Nutty Cheese Crisps

3 Tablespoons ground almonds
4-6 ounces cheese, sliced

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

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

Sesame Crunchers

3 Tablespoons sesame seeds
4-6 ounces cheese, sliced

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

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Cookies

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet Squash- Notato Casserole

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

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

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

Sweet Squash-Notato Casserole

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

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

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

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

Turkey Day

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuna Pepper Boats

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Autumn's Best Muffins

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

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

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

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

Pumpkin Muffins

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

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

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

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

Makes 6 small to regular muffins and 24 mini muffins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lidia's Chunky Eggplant Sauce

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

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

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

Lidia and Lisa's Eggplant Sauce

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

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

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

Weekend Big Lots Finds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pizza Supreme Casserole

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

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

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

Pizza Supreme Casserole

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 1, 2010

Smoked Cheese Burger

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

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

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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Harvest Hotcakes

Love, love, love pumpkin this time of year. This is the breakfast I made for my boy this morning. These are not difficult at all, and the flavor is all autumn! What a treat for an easy weekend morning.

I made these in my Ninja blender, but any food processor will work. If you are using almond flour, then these would easily mix by hand.

Lisa's Harvest Hotcakes
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.

Now what to do with the leftover pumpkin! More recipes to come.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Chazown

That's me as a little girl with my cousins Vickie and Bobby. Life was all about fun back then, and I wasn't worried about my life vision. Although I was always driven, I somehow ended up overweight and not healthy. I just have to quote my pastor. I attended a study last week that really impacted me and would be great for all of you too. Here goes:

"Everybody ends up somewhere. Few people end up somewhere on purpose." Craig Groeschel, Pastor of LifeChurch.

It is so true--especially where our health goals are concerned. We need a vision--that's what the Hebrew word Chazown means. That is a key part of the Diner program too. If our vision for our health is to be leaner, to have low blood sugars, then we need a plan. That is how we get there on purpose!

Now believe me, I am not saying my menu planning e-book is your key to good health. It is a tool to keep your life manageable, and it is one spoke on your life wheel. As my pastor pointed out, when one spoke is broken, the others soon follow. Healthy habits are important to our spiritual life, our careers and our relationships. Poor health impacts us in so many ways. I have been there!

One thing we must do to take control is to have a plan. The second thing we need to do is to actually follow that plan. That is pretty much as difficult as the 24/7 Diner plan gets. I have spoken with so many diabetics who tell me that you just can't expect anyone to live low carb--that it is too hard to do without...(insert your carb of choice here) But then, how do they explain that we have been able to follow this plan for years? John regularly has blood sugars under a hundred. Although he is tempted to say he is not diabetic any longer, I am quick to point out that if he returned to a high carb diet, his deadly symptoms would return. I am thankful that he has responded so well through diet, but that would not have happened if we cheated the plan.

It is work to keep a kitchen stocked with healthy foods. It is tough to give up on foods others get to enjoy. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself having to cook all the time! That is why I have a system to help make all those meals easier. Having a plan in place each week means we won't be left hungry or running to the drive-through, surrendering to bad food.

The system works with any special diet--I have a friend who has approached me with the hopes of compiling a similar e-book for families treating autism through diet. I hope to do that soon, as my son is also on a similar restrictive diet now. Yep, more for me to juggle, but so worth it. I have learned that when you see results from your diet, it is much easier to stick to. But then, when you stick to it, it is much faster to show results!

If you want to be successful at any diet change, there are some steps to follow. These are my Top Ten.
1. Plan your menu. Make sure to have foods you really enjoy, not just ones that you think you should be eating. Lettuce everyday will lead to pizza binges.
2. Prepare food in advance. One day of extra cooking a week will save you so much time. You will appreciate it later in the week.
3. Get rid of trigger foods that cause binges and cravings! I spoke with a friend today who can't seem to tolerate sweeteners at all. Even no calorie sweeteners give her carb cravings. Better to banish those, at least for a time.
4. Keep a food diary. Sometimes when we are just starting out, accountability to a diary can keep us real. I use Fitday...not everyday, but enough. A notebook will do too. We low carbers can easily eat far more calories than we realize. Cheese is a major problem for me!
5. Related to #3 above, be careful with grazing. I am especially bad about this when I am cooking for others. Tasting easily becomes cheating, which becomes a binge. Can you smell the guilt?
6. Find something else to do rather than eat. You decide.
7. Grab a partner. John and I do this together. So great to have support and accountability. If you don't have one, drop me an email. I love to hear from you guys. Or get involved with an online support group. There are great ideas there.
8. Learn to pack a good lunch. It is much easier to pack a nice lunch than to guess at what you can eat out. Plus, nothing is worse than opening a brown bag to a squished, damp sandwich. If you have good food to look forward to, eating away from home is fun! Make sure you have variety and lots of color and textures. Make your meal better than their fast food and avoid the dreaded food envy.
9. Keep emergency snacks at work, school or in the car. Vending machines are not our friends. Life happens, so anticipate those emergencies!
10. Try not to listen to naysayers who tell you that your eating plan is not healthy. You make the decisions on your own health. I have found that if I don't make a big production, most people don't even notice that I am eating any differently. You will soon have the health to prove them wrong!

I bet you all have some great ideas too. Not planning led my family down the road to obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Yes we were certainly getting somewhere. Now that we are educated and committed, we are on a much healthier path...and we are getting there on purpose. I am so much healthier than I was five years ago. Are you?

Of course, your life wheel has other spokes too, not just health. If you would like to learn more about the Chazown for your life, visit here. It could change your future!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Maple Butternut Squash

Since I am working on the newsletter this week, I am trying out some ideas for Thanksgiving side dishes. I have a certain boy who really loves butternut squash. The others, not so much. In order to make more than one trial dish, I am testing some different flavors in smaller batches. He loved this one! I will now work on converting it to a recipe for an entire holiday side dish. That will be in the November newsletter for sure.

Butternut squash is not terribly low in carbs, about 22 carbs per cup, so this dish would be a holiday treat for most of us. Still, if it is this or a serving of sweet potatoes, go for the squash. The flavors are similar, but the glycemic load is not. My online source says sweet potatoes will have about 41 carbs per cup. Good trade, I think.

I did take a taste of this, and it was yummy. A few drops of maple flavoring, some sweetener and lots of real butter. That is what you have to look forward to. No marshmallows on top, but sweet none the less.

Tonight, the boy had it with meatloaf and some oven roasted green beans. I love oven roasted veggies. They aren't as pretty, but the flavor is wonderful. So good that it is cool enough to use the oven again.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Chicken Pizza on a Nutty Crust

Do you miss biting into a thin crispy pizza? My college kids got pizza today, but that crust is against the low carb rules for us! It didn't take too long to put together this nut crust, which is thin and crunchy. All home made and yummy.

I used one of my ground chicken patties for the meat topping, spiced up with a bit of Italian seasoning--heavy on basil and garlic. It is also topped with thinly sliced tomatoes. No sauce to make it too soft. Another sprinkle of herbs and a generous helping of shredded cheese. This one happens to be sharp cheddar. So much flavor!

Nutty Pizza Crust
2 c. nut flour (almond, hazelnut or a blend of any mixed nuts)
2 eggs
2 t. coconut oil or olive oil
1 t. salt

Melt the oil, let cool slightly.  Beat the eggs, add in the coconut oil and salt. (You don’t want it to be boiling hot or it will curdle the eggs; if you don’t melt it, it’s hard to mix in evenly.)  Then stir in the nut flour; mix thoroughly.
Form it into a ball, and then pat it out on a greased pan or cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes until browned.  Then add the toppings – sauce, vegetables, and cheese.  Bake another 10 – 15 minutes until it looks ready.

I will be working on some autumn recipes this week. Hopefully, I will have enough success to share. You certainly don't want the recipe for one of the recipes I worked on last week. They don't always turn out as winners!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grilled Eggplant Slices with Beef

I am having a super busy few weeks here. My friend and fellow diner, Tinkerbelle, told me about a meal she created using leftover beef and one of her favorites--grilled ggplant. I thought it sounded wonderful, so I asked her if she would snap a photo and let me feature her as a guest blogger. Fortunately, for all of us, she agreed. It takes a little pressure off of me to feature more of your ideas, and gives you creative cooks a chance to share your creations too. I would love more guest bloggers!

Lots of you liked the idea of the eggplant pizza rounds. This is similar, but takes advantage of the wonderful flavors of roast beef, Italian seasonings and Havarti cheese. Oh my!

Tinkerbelle's Eggplant Beef

Grilled Eggplant slices
3-4 oz shredded beef (I used leftover Tip roast)
4 oz tomato slices
1.5 oz Havarti
Simply Organic Italian Seasoning

Layer and pop under the broiler till cheese bubbles. I had it with 1/4 cup Daisy Sour Cream for a dipper.

Simple ingredients, but a wonderful flavor combo. I am certainly going to try it with the next roast I cook. It would make a super addition to a roast beef Triple Play meal, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dollar Tree Flavorings

I frequent my local Dollar Tree Stores all the time. You just never know what you will find! Being into crafts and foods, I keep my eyes open.

This week, I noticed some bottles of coffee/tea flavorings that were new. I looked at the bottles--Vanilla, Hazelnut and Caramel. Those are three of my DaVinci favorites. The bottles did not say sugarfree. But for some reason, I flipped over to see the ingredients list. No calories, no carbs, no fats, no nothin'. Sweetened with Sucralose. Hmm. Why didn't the bottle say so in the first place?

For a buck, I had not much to lose. Amazingly, these are good. Maybe not quite as strongly flavored as the premium syrups, but way cheaper! The plastic bottle holds 12.7 fluid ounces. It recommends using between half an ounce to an ounce per serving. Hoping to find more about the brand, Cafe al Fresco, I did an internet search. Nothing came up, so I am assuming that these were perhaps once a part of gift packages? Who knows?

They passed my taste test. I am enjoying a cup of joe right now flavored with the Hazelnut. The would be good in my cream cheese puddings too. I am going to stock up on some more later this week. Who knows how long they will last?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Getting Burgers Wright

A good burger is a thing of beauty. Our dinner was Miss Universe caliber tonight! When Christian began his SCD diet, I had to find an additive free liquid smoke to make barbecue sauce from scratch for him. Yes that sauce is also divine, but it has honey in it, so it is a no-no for Dad and me as low carbers. Now back to the burgers...

What I didn't know is that this liquid smoke product, Wright's, would be head and shoulders above all competition! It is natural, and very concentrated. Even at that, it is not the most expensive brand on the shelf. I have been adding this to my ground chicken patties with awesome results. It is fabulous in meatballs too. And tonight's burgers--the ultimate in flavor. I won't ever make them anyway again. Well, maybe not exception maybe some stuffed with cheese...and jalapeƱos...and grilled onion. I am still having hamburger fantasies here. I think it is about time for a Burger Buffet night around here.

Burgers the Wright Way

2 pounds of lean ground beef
2-3 teaspoons of Wright's Liquid smoke
2 teaspoons of Bragg's Liquid aminos
1 Tablespoon of dried minced onion
course ground black pepper to taste

Blend everything together by hand. Form patties and cook over charcoal.

Don't dare put mustard or barbecue sauce on these burgers. The liquid smoke adds a flavor that even the charcoal misses. The company even says you can add the flavoring to the lava rocks on a gas grill. Wow. Sounds great, but I haven't tried that, but anything that helps that flavor. Sorry Hank Hill, I love my charcoal.

As a marinade, this can't be beat. It turns a dump chicken or pork chop meal into a real treat--even when you bake in the oven. For "George" meals, just mix some Wright's with some melted butter and baste the meat and vegetables too. I am going to the store to get a spray bottle to keep some of this diluted and handy to season green beans, and other veggies too. I use my Bragg's Aminos this way, and it is very handy.

Notice that I have a plateful of burgers in this photo. Those are the leftovers. In true Diner fashion, I always make extra. This package of burger meat will feed us several times. I might as well put them into the Multiply Meals section of my cookbook.

I can only find this at one grocery store locally--Reasor's. It is available through Amazon, though. I might just have to ask for a case for Christmas! I tried the Hickory flavor, but I hope to find the Mesquite too. They say this is your favorite restaurant's secret. So glad the secret is out!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Could This Be Apple Cider?

Nope. I can't find a way to make apple cider low carb. Juices and sugars just go hand in hand. But, with my son drinking a big jug of fresh pressed apple cider--so good this time of year--I felt deprived. Instead of sulking, I got into some kitchen engineering. Hurray. I am back in the kitchen after a week of do it your self floor overhauls at my house. That is the reason I have been absent from my computer for a while too! Now that that is almost complete, I will be back to the blog. But I digress--back to the apple beverage.

I found a carton of apple drink mix made by Walmart's Great Value brand. Yes, it does have sweeteners that I generally stay away from...but if aspartame doesn't do terrible things to you, then this occasional splurge won't do any harm. Still no carbs or calories at least. So, I made a pitcher of the apple drink. Good, but certainly not the harbinger of fall. To get that tart zing, I added a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to my glass. Good for you, you know! Then I added a few drops of pumpkin pie spice flavoring from Capella. OH, YES! This may not be fresh pressed, but I am certainly no longer feeling deprived.

If you want to order the drops, visit the Capella site. I use several flavors to liven up my coffee and to use in desserts. One of my favs is Boston Cream Pie. They have free shipping right now, so check it out.

Knowing most of you don't have this, I tried a glass with a pinch of ground pumpkin pie spices. The flavor was not as strong, but still worth a try.

Yes, it is my favorite season of the year--Fall at the Marshall house!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A tribute to Folgers

I understand it is National Coffee Day. Well, I can't let that pass without the mention of my favorite coffee on the planet. Okay. Let's understand that I am really cheap. I don't do Starbucks. I don't grind my own. I am in no way a coffee snob.

That being said, I do love me some Joe. I used to over indulge in all those rich wonderful flavored creamers. Not so good when you are limiting carbs. I have blogged before about the flavored coffees from Folgers, but that was chocolate, and this is better. At least for me. This makes me a happy woman any time of day. It is so good I can even do it without cream. That is saying something.

Yesterday, I was so happy to get to go out for coffee with my BFF from way back--yes, we saw the 70s together. She lives half a country away, so our coffee chats are few and far between. Well, we were checking out a coffee shop I am hoping to hold some chuch meetings in soon. Great place. I am broke this week, and trying to drop some more pounds too, so I just ordered the house coffee. You would think that would be the ultimate. You know, it is pretty pricey in those places. I can honestly say that I like my home brew better. My husband loves that I am so easily pacified. Not a coffee diva, which is good because he won't touch the stuff. Two of three sons like it though.

That thought brings me to another hint. My youngest, who is being treated through diet for his stomach issues, can no longer drink regular high acid coffee. Sad? He is. Being supermom, I set out to find a solution. My wonderful friend and Diner, Loretta, told me about a system to make a cold brew which has lower acid. I investigated that idea from her. Unfortunately, after a month with car repairs and overdue accounts from hubby's clients, we have been strapped lately. I couldn't afford one of those specialty systems for making low acid coffee. Then I found a tip online that said you can make the same low acid brew using a coffee press. I found one on Amazon for around $17. I ordered that, and so far, so good. It is small, but makes enough concentrate for him to have about 6 cups of coffee. The trick is to use the press to soak the grounds over night in cold filtered water. Then in the morning, plunge it down and you get a concentrate to dilute in a cup. I just add about half water and half coffee, heat it up and let him sweeten it. It is really tasty, too. Here's the coffee press I purchased.

I have been sooooo busy lately. I just completed the newsletter, so I will get that out on time. I have been really stressed with too many obligations, but I can't figure out anything to drop. We still eat low carb, and are doing great. My Sunday prep day was devoted to doing some unusual fermented condiments. I will feature one of those recipes--sauerkraut, in the October newsletter, so be sure to be watching out for it. I have also been processing a lot of chicken, but I have already told you how to do that on this blog. I will get more regular at blogging again soon, so don't give up on me. I have lots of college kids coming home for the weekend, too. Hopefully I can share some pics from that. We will have Beefkey and Chili. For now, I need to go get dinner ready. We are having meatloaf tonight. I need some rest, so later I will finish the pot of coffee I started this morning, but never found time for a second cup. Hope you can rest with a cup of coffee to celebrate the day too.