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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Monday, October 31, 2011

Cider Glazed Squash

I know butternut squash is not the lowest carb food around. We do have it for a treat now and then, and it is great for the holidays. Lower in carbs than sweet potatoes anyway. While I was testing some recipes for November's newsletter, I tried this out. This month's issue is devoted to side dishes so you can have a wonderful holiday with maybe a few new treats. My, oh my, I loved the glaze! The mixture of flavors is wonderful. The apple cider vinegar really makes a statement. The squash is tender and caramelized and buttery and just a little sweet. I adore sage, so this recipe was perfection in my book.

If you don't have much oven space on Thanksgiving, this is prepared on the stove top. I am thinking, it would be fine to make it a day ahead and rewarm also. Haven't tried it though. The only drawback with this recipe is the effort involved. I generally bake or steam squash. This recipe requires the chunks to go into the skillet raw. That adds up to much more effort peeling and cutting. You decide if it is worth it. I am thinking I need some good muscle building workouts anyway, so this is just bonus. I tried peeling the butternut with my vegetable peeler. It worked, but then when I was dicing, I noticed that part of the leathery skin remained. So I ended up whacking off some extra outer skin while I was dicing. Might as well have skipped that initial peel, I think.

The squash my hubby came home with was huge. Baby Huey huge. (Am I dating myself with that one?) I only diced up half of it and filled my skillet. I did not drag out the scale for a precise measurement, so if you eyeball a skillet full of squash cubes, you are good to go. A little more of the glaze ingredients can always be added. I was out of pecans, so I didn't even add those and these were still great.

Cider Glazed Butternut Squash
If the oven is full, this flavorful dish can be made on the stovetop. Plus you get your workout peeling and dicing!

3 pounds butternut squash
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons erythritol
2 tablespoons butter 
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper 
1 tsp. dried sage
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans


Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Cut off hard shell and dice into bite sized chunks.

Stir together squash, apple cider, water, erythritol, butter, salt, pepper and sage in a deep-sided, lidded skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until liquid thickens and squash is tender. Gently stir in pecans and sage and serve.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tortilla-less Chicken Soup

I love a good bowl of tortilla soup. And I do mean love...I often have it at restaurants and fish out the tortilla strips. Having no oven yet--a wonderful friend and my hubby are installing it now as I type--it had to be a crockpot meal for us again today. The boy-o was craving burritos, which he cannot have, so I decided to make a nice warm soup to go with our first really chilly day of fall. Mmm.

I had to raid the pantry for some canned goods. With so many renovations, fresh groceries are in limited supply. Most items in this soup are pantry and freezer staples. You would never know by the flavor. The chicken cubes were frozen, but with so much slow cooking, they shredded, so frozen chicken shreds would work well too. A can of tomatoes, some salsa, some spices...and a secret ingredient, yogurt. Oh yeah. Tart and creamy goes so well with the spicy! I almost forgot the other odd ingredient. Tortillas, you say? Nope. Shh, don't tell anyone, but the tortilla strips are actually bamboo shoots. Really. Not exactly the same texture and practically no flavor, but the look is there. The carbs are low and they are filling. It's a winner for me!

Tortilla-less Chicken Soup

2-3 cups diced cooked chicken (may be frozen)
14.5 ounce canned tomatoes
2 cups water
1 cup salsa
1 small red bell pepper, diced (green would be fine as well)
1/2 onion, chopped
8 ounce can bamboo shoots
1-2 Tablespoons chili powder (I chose guajillo chili powder)
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
Avocado cubes for garnish

Combine all ingredients except yogurt in the crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Just before serving, stir in yogurt. Top each bowl with some cubed avocado.

The yogurt is an extra wonderful touch. The tang replaces the lemon juice I usually add to soups. The creaminess adds what sour cream or heavy cream would. It takes the bite off the heat of the salsa and chili powder. If you like the heat, I would suggest to add in some chopped jalapenos, rather than cutting back on the yogurt. Don't forget the avocado cubes. They are perfect. The cool creaminess with the tart spicy soup. Yum.

Well, now my gorgeous new oven is in place on my beautiful new flooring. I think the kitchen will be fully open soon. We need to get some help lined up to move all of our furniture back in. I still have the master bedroom to paint and re-carpet, but that won't take too long. And it won't keep me out of the kitchen!

Book sales are going really well. We have received so many excited comments about the Low Carbing Among Friends release. We are taking orders now, and the prints will be rolling really soon! I don't even have my own copy yet and I am so excited to see what all my other low carbing friends have in their sections. I love the idea of getting the best recipes from so many great cooks. The book will be on the Christmas gift  list for lots of my friends. My contractor even wants a copy. He is diabetic, and after hearing what he ate for breakfast and lunch on the job, trust me he needs it! Maybe you know someone too.

Now the guys are done with the install--I think it is time to play with my new oven. It has been 19 years since my last new one. I can't wait.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Spiced Nuts

Yes, I have been trying to use up some freshly pureed pumpkin, thus the plethora of pumpkin recipes of late. In fact, it is almost the only thing I have been making. ( besides alliteration, I suppose) Breakfast most mornings, before the workers arrive and take over the house. Good news is, I now have paint on the new walls and ceilings. The chimney is getting repaired, and flooring goes in next week. And the week after that I think. No need to get in a hurry right? This photo, if you look closely, shows out the window, various sections of my roof lying on the ground and on saw horses. Since I have no table in the kitchen, the window was the only flat surface! You can also see our old tractor tire sand box. Yes, my boys are way too big for such play, but I cannot part with it because it belonged to my papa. I'm holding out for grandkids.

Anyway, on one of my shopping adventures to try to stay out of the way of wall texturing last week, I found Pumpkin Spiced nuts at Target. Of course they were full of bad sweeteners, so I decided to venture out on my own. I tried a couple of batches. The second one, of course the one I waited to photograph, came out a little dark. I will be so glad to get a new oven installed. I am not so sure about accuracy these days in my 18 year old oven. The new one is waiting in the garage. Woohoo. The nuts are still great, but then, I am known to prefer my food a little over cooked.

This is a good recipe if you happen to have a smidgen of pumpkin left over from a recipe. When you prepare from fresh, it is not always so easy to portion out like it is in those cans. Try this. I used Z Sweet which left a little of the inherent coolness on the tongue. Interestingly, that sensation was more evident in the walnuts than the almonds in the mixture. Go figure.

Pumpkin Spiced Nuts

2 cups mixed raw nuts
1/4 cup salted nuts (I used sunflower nuts in the second batch, mixed nuts in the first, either is good)
3 Tablespoons walnut oil, or any lightly flavored oil
3 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 egg white
1/2 cup erythritol or equivalent sweetener
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, combine all nuts with the oil of choice and pumpkin puree. Stir lightly. To that, add the egg white, again stirring to coat the nuts. In a separate small bowl, combine the sweetener and spices. Pour these over the nuts to coat. Spread nut mixture on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. Stir 2 or 3 times while baking. The nuts will still seem a little wet, but should crisp up when cool. Watch closely to be sure they don't burn.

The combination of the lightly salted nuts really adds to the flavor. If you choose not to use them, try sprinkling some sea salt over the nuts before baking.

These are great for snacking when you want something crunchy. Just be careful, low calorie, they are not. Do you have as hard a time limiting nuts as I do?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Big Announcement!!!! Low Carbing Among Friends is coming soon!

It is so exciting!! The news is finally out. My little "Diner" has joined the ranks of some incredible low carb foodies in creating a one of a kind new cookbook. Low Carbing Among Friends  features mini cookbooks from five well known cooks, myself included. Add on some experts in nutrition and medicine, and you have quite an influential group of eleven friends contributing favorite low carb and gluten free recipes. Plus, we have all invited contributions from low carb friends far and wide to make the cookbook even better. In musical terms, it is like a "Best of" album, only it is a unique cookbook with the best recipes ever! Wouldn't you like to sit around the Diner booth and hear the best advice from Jennifer Eloff of Splendid Low Carbing fame? Maybe you could learn more about nutrition from Maria Emmerich and her Nutritious and Delicious Journal, or how to shed some pounds with Ken Altena the Atkins Geek? Looking for some beautiful diabetic friendly treats? Ask Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food. One great book for less than the price of a family fast food meal--and the nutrition benefits are priceless!

Where else can you get over 300 low carb, gluten free recipes from respected and popular authors, bloggers and doctors--all in one book? Well, Diners, you can pre-order it now. Check out the site. The book is not yet finalized, but you can order early. You are going to want this!!!  I personally share recipes from Bridget at Sweet Enough Personal Chef, and Lishele at Nutrish by Lish. Thanks ladies. Both are fabulous and you will recognize so many friends in this cookbook! Go see for yourself.

Pumpkin Bread Mini Muffins Construction Zone Style

My grandma used to make the best pumpkin bread. She loaded it with walnuts and baked it up in one pound coffee cans. It was fun to slice a round loaf, and we kids adored it. While I have made several low carb versions that come close, today I was just throwing things together in the kitchen and came up with a mini muffin that tastes really similar. The secret ingredient is walnut oil. Yum.

I will include a recipe--sure wish I had been writing things no promises on my recipe precision here. I am not currently in blog experimentation mode, as I am trying to just to survive: dodging contractors, dust and power tools. Sunday morning was quiet, although still a little messy. These were put together around cans of paint, and a little wall texturing dust. I don't think that contributed much to the flavor however, so I won't list it as an ingredient. These were baked in my Babycakes cupcake machine. They do have a little honey in them, since I was making them for my SCD/GAPS son. You can substitute any sweetener you prefer. The texture of the almond meal and coconut flour is nice, a little dense--very much like Grandma's recipe if I close my eyes. Not that pretty, but tasty none the less.

Pumpkin Bread Mini Muffins

1 cup almond meal, unblanched ( I ground my own in my Ninja)
3 Tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs (plus one yolk, but this is probably optional. I happened to have an extra yolk)
3 Tablespoons honey, optional
sugar substitute equal to 1/4-1/3 cup sugar, depending on your preference.
3 Tablespoons walnut oil

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a smaller bowl, stir together the wet ingredients. Combine wet and dry. Spoon batter into muffins cups and bake 10-12 minutes in the Babycakes machine or 15-25 in a conventional oven at 350 degrees. Test to make sure center is done, as these are slightly dense.

I took the photo on my makeshift dining room table. It is a pallet on top of the boxes of Allure vinyl flooring that will be going into the living and dining room and kitchen soon. I hope, soon, that is. It seems like it has been one hassle after another. I can't believe the mortgage holder is holding one of our checks for 3-4 weeks to make sure we don't cash the check and skip town. Just how far would they expect us to get on under $4,000? Really? We owe less on the house than the first check that was issued, so I really don't think we are going to abandon our home. Even if we did, the bank would be getting a sweet deal. It is crazy! At this point we hope to have it all back together by Thanksgiving. That will be something to be thankful for.

Speaking of that, look for a huge announcement tomorrow. My truly exciting news is about to break.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Curry in the Country

It is crazy around here! Tonight's supper is still a work in progress, but I wanted to let you know I haven't dropped off the planet. If we eat at home it has to be from the crockpot and it has to be in the crock before 8 a.m. and eaten after 6. It needs to be held in the lap or eaten on the bed. Such fun! It has been over two months now since the storm. Ugh.

Today's meal fit the bill, although I need to tweak it because too much of the flavor cooked out. I will save the recipe for another try. Just in case you were wondering and want to tweak for yourself, here are the basics. After all, who knows when I will be back in my kitchen for good? I added a package of country style pork ribs, all the curry powder I had (about a teaspoon, and I know it needs more), 2 teaspoons of red curry paste, a can of whole Roma tomatoes and a can of coconut milk. I think next time, I will reserve half the can of coconut milk to make a sauce to pour over the rib meat. Next time, I promise.

Until then, let me tell you how happy I am to show you that we have walls and ceilings again. Woohoo. This will be the first night since the storm I will not be looking out our framework when I turn out the lights for bed. Walls and ceilings are still  not all in upstairs, but their is better insulation than we had before. Plus then I don't have to see that upstairs before I turn I? Trying to keep positive here. The guys are doing very nice work. I like my contractors and that is saying something. In fact today, one wanted to know more about my e-book, since he is a diabetic. I am thinking we can work a trade here...

After the kitchen gets back together, it is definitely time to get stricter with the diet. Too many cheats for me eating out. I don't feel as good. I am trying to keep my kitchen routine going, but it is very hard to eat at home when your kitchen is a disaster area! It is even harder to rely on fast food for healthy choices. Come on, contractors! Here's a snapshot of what it looks like today.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Triple Play Cajun Chicken Soup

Progress is progress. I will have a full cedar fence tomorrow. Woohoo. My pups can play outside again. I do have a roof now, but still nothing done on the inside. Nothing except moving everything out into the pod so workmen have room to do it all right. The city has been giving me fits about that. Frustration is putting it mildly. When did our free nation become a place where it is illegal to have both a trash dumpster to discard of storm debris and a pod to store belongings away from the damaged house? It is ridiculous how the greedy fingers of bureaucracy are everywhere! I am tempted to get on my soap box now, but I will save that for a letter to the editor. Let's just say they are ready to fine me for having storm debris, then fine me for having a dumpster to clean it all up, yet neither the neighborhood inspector nor city hall could read me the law. I should have gone to law school like my mom wanted me to!

Tonight's dinner was actually home made. We aren't getting many of those these days. I had made Cajun Chicken in my crockpot and had plenty of leftovers, making it prime for a new Triple Play recipe. The second meal used just the chicken thighs and was sent to lunch along with salads. This last meal finished up the remaining chicken and the baked cabbage from the original dish. It, like many of my Triple Play meals, is a delicious soup. Because the main ingredients are already baked, it goes together really fast if you use canned or dried veggies like I did tonight. I don't have too much fresh produce while the house is under construction because I never know when I will have access to the kitchen. Although it is pretty stripped bare, I can still manage a few simple meals. This certainly is simple, but really tasty. Home made tastes so good.

If you don't have leftovers, you can always start from scratch.

Cajun Chicken Soup

4 Cajun spiced chicken thighs, cooked and diced or shredded
1/4-1/2 head cooked cabbage
1 can dice tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1/2 cup dehydrated zucchini or 1 fresh diced zucchini
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Cajun Spice blend (if starting with fresh chicken add 1 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

If not using pre-cooked chicken, bake or poach chicken. Cube or shred meat. Combine all ingredients except for cream in a 3 quart pan. Simmer until vegetables are soft. Stir in cream. Adjust seasonings and serve.

The cream makes such a wonderful addition to this soup. It is spicy and creamy all at once. I used dehydrated zucchini, which I like to keep on hand in the winter months to add to last minute soups like this. Even though I usually save soup for cool weather, we are in the 80's this week in October. While I wish it was a little cooler--my house is still always hotter than the outside temps--I love the ease of a throw it all in a pot kinda soup, and I adore leftovers. I can't believe so many turn their noses up at leftovers. They personally make me quite happy, and I love feeling resourceful.

My oldest son's new job is going well, and we moved him to Arkansas this weekend. It seems to be a great job God has blessed him with. Sadly, the move was a little complicate. Things usually are in the Marshall family. Things just seem to happen to us. While we were there, our old truck, Papa's truck, started spewing oil all over the place. We made it to a dealership for repair, but had to leave it there. So glad we all fit  into a station wagon my mom brought. Thankful to make it home, we then got the news that my brand new accountant boy fell ill after we left. He thinks it might be food poisoning from the symptoms. Bet you can guess what those are. So his first night in his new apartment was spent--well, in the bathroom. Good thing he had put his bed together before it hit. Poor guy. The mom in me wants to be there to nurse him, but I can't do it. His girl friend is checking in on him and bringing him medicine at least. I think he is sure his new boss will be disappointed. Sick on the 4th day of work? We Marshalls are no excuse kind of workers, but it is hard to tough it out through a stomach bug. Hopefully we will have better news on him soon. At least my youngest is doing better, and I got a chance to visit my middle boy while we were there. Andrew is working in their college town, so both brothers and the girlfriend are nearby. I hear I may have college guests next weekend coming into town for the state fair, so that might be interesting. Who knows how much of a house I will have by then?