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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Friday, December 30, 2011

Among Friends Thursday- Maria's "Corndogs"

I have ambitions to try out some of the recipes from our Among Friends Cookbook every Thursday. Today we were already testing some low carb fryer recipes, so we tried out Maria's "Corn" dog recipe. Granted, Maria's are much healthier because she uses grass fed, organic hot dogs and fries in coconut oil. I read on my coconut oil jar not to use it in a deep fryer, so we tried these in a little regular oil. Definitely not something to do often. They did puff up really well and fried up beautifully. They do taste a little coconutty, but it is nothing a squirt of mustard won't cover.

A couple of her followers had a little trouble getting the batter to stick on the hot dog, so I decided to make a shorter dog. Since I was using 1/3 sections of dogs and/ or some little sausages, I had less trouble there. I scooped up the batter in my spoon, placed the dog on it, then topped it with a little more of the coconut mixture. Once it hit the oil, it all stayed together really well.

I seldom drag out the fryer, but we were testing a new fryer/steamer that Pearson got for Christmas. It works great and is multi-purpose! I will tell more in the Diner News for January. Everything worked great, and we had a fun time making and eating these. In the new year, I promise it will be the healthier version.

Having been really busy working on the Diner News, I see that I did not make my midnight deadline for Thursday, C'est la vie. At least we consumed them on Thursday!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Revisiting the Cheese Puppies

One of my favorite treats ever invented is fried cheese sticks. Lots of trouble to make, but delish. A couple of years ago, I invented a way to make Cheese Puppies with my pancake puff pan. Those were good, but took a little time and patience in turning them to get the perfect round ball. Then my pan became a little lot less non stick and I abandoned making them. Never forgot them though.

While rummaging around the after Christmas sales yesterday, I found a cake ball machine for $7.88 at Walmart. In the basket it went, along with some holiday cookie pans and some really nice standard air bake cookie sheets that were half price too. We even found a Ninja drink maker (just like mine, but only the large pitcher) SCORE! It took a great deal of inner strength not to buy a brownie maker and donut machine too.

Since my original recipe used Carbquick, but I never use wheat products in my current recipe development, I decided to use coconut flour. It worked fine. Now understand, these are not perfect spheres. They are more like half circles. Slightly taller than that, but not totally round. Still really cute on the appetizer table for New Year's Eve parties. Even better, you can turn the flat side up. With it's little crater, you have a perfect place for a dollop of marinara or salsa. Yum oh yum.  I guess you could stick two halves together to make a perfect ball, but they are rich enough without adding more cheese to stick them together.

If you aren't crazy into kitchen gadgets like I am, you might try these baked in a mini muffin pan. I am thinking they would work, just lose that star quality that sets them apart from the crowd of ordinary appetizers!

Easy Cheese Puppies

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I chose Jack)
1 egg
1 heaping tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vinegar

 Heat a cake pop machine. In a medium bowl, stir together cheese, egg, coconut flour and baking soda. When well combined, add the vinegar. Drop approximately 2 teaspoons of cheese mixture into each cavity. If using a cake ball machine, close the lid and bake for 5 minutes. Open lid and remove with a bamboo skewer, Let cheese puppies drain on a paper towel. Serve with marinara, salsa, or the dip of your choice.

These may work in a standard oven as well. I would probably use a hot oven, 400 or 425 degrees, and bake 10 minutes or more until browned on top. If you try it this way, let me know what works. I will be using my cake ball appliance for sure. It is so easy!

I have some interesting ideas for these. My further experiments will be on my party table for the New Year and they will be in the January edition of the Diner News as well. This month will be dedicated to the small appliance department of our Low Carb Kitchen. I will have great ideas for some of those gifts you may have received for Christmas. In the works are dehydrator ideas, fryer recipes, cake pops, waffle sticks and more. If you don't have some of these items now, I promise you will want some! (I will try to offer some conventional methods as much as possible as well)

I am so loving having my middle son home. He has helped me with the makeover on my blog. As an honor student in graphic arts, he helped me put together the retro look I have always wanted for the Diner. Cool, huh? And he didn't charge me a dime--he did it all in exchange for cheese puppies!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly Waffle Sticks

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful holiday season--wherever you are. Mine is wonderful this year. Christmas was spent with the whole family and some special friends as well. But the holiday week does not stop there for us. Today is my hubby's birthday. We celebrated at Red Robin last night so our oldest son could join us before he had to return to his job today. I still wanted the day to feel special for John, so we made him a fabulous breakfast this morning before he headed off to the station. Pearson handled the meat, as only a fan of Epic Mealtime could. (lots of it, that is) He made his dad sausage links, ham and eggs. I used the waffle maker I got for Christmas to make these super fun waffle sticks.After all that meat, he couldn't even finish them. I handled that for him.

I used the recipe for the Mr. Peanut Bread, which is a part of the Low Carbing Among Friends Cookbook, but is also one of the recipes I still feature here. It is just so versatile. I have a comment today saying the bread did not rise for some reason. I have never had that problem here. In fact, the batter was rising out of the waffle iron before I even got the batter spread over the entire iron base. The only advice I know is not to use too large a pan, or spread the doughy batter too thin. Perhaps adding the vinegar last might help. The reaction it makes with the soda fluffs the batter, so don't stir too much after that is added.  I have used this in muffin cups, and even as artisan bread plopped directly on a cookie sheet. A follower of the Diner showed me a photo of how she used Mr. Peanut Bread in a waffle iron, so that is what I tried today. Thanks, Jillian for sharing the idea and the photo. Love when readers do that! I simply baked mine until most of the steaming had stopped. They are not super crispy, like some white flour waffles, but they are tasty and satisfying.

For toppings, we added some sugarfree blackberry Smucker's Jam. Oh, and of course the whipped cream we had left over from the trifle I made for Christmas Eve. The flavor combination will definitely bring out the kid in you. The sticks are even more fun to eat than regular waffles. You can pick the whole waffle stick up and eat it with your fingers. Yum. I have some other ideas I will be featuring in the January newsletter. Think inside out sandwiches, waffles stick chili dunkers and more. It will be fun, I promise.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Pepper Jelly Appetizer

I have always had a thing for Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. I used to make some at Christmas time because I adore the flavor of the sweet hot jelly warmed and poured over a block of cream cheese. Then I stopped. The sugar content in my old recipe was huge. Not knowing much about making sugarfree jams and jellies, but knowing enough kitchen chemistry to bet that was a tricky process, I just gave it up. Sugarfree cranberry sauce took the place of the beloved jalapeno jelly.

Yesterday, my middle son Pearson, asked if we could have some again this year. I have such a hard time saying no to my guys, so I decided to take the challenge. We happened to be headed for Walmart anyway, so I picked up a jar of the Ball brand no sugar pectin. Then a new recipe search was on. Really didn't find much, considering I wanted to use canned pickled jalapenos I had  languishing on a back shelf of the pantry. My old recipe had used canned jalapenos, and I wanted to duplicate that flavor. The recipes I found using Truvia called for fresh peppers. Others called for bell peppers. No again. Armed with some jam making generalizations jumping around in my brain, I headed for the kitchen with no recipe at all. What I ended up with is not quite what I used to make, but it is a better jam texture and it does taste like peppers. If anything, it is a little more gourmet than my old recipe, so I guess I took it up a notch. This one calls for three different forms of chili peppers. In addition to the pickled jalapenos, it has some green chilies and some chili powder. That son who asked for it, is now eating it for breakfast. I guess it passed his test.

The green chiles, which are in abundance in my freezer since I buy the giant cans, make it more jam like than many of the versions I have tried in the past. I like that, as some seem a little more like syrup at times. ( I had one sugared version that never really set up) The chili powder adds a depth of flavor missing from conventional recipes. The only thing I would do differently next time, is to lower the amount of lemon juice. The lemon flavor was a little too pronounced for me.  I am going to adjust that in the recipe I am publishing here--pretty sure it will work the same. Still in? Here ya go!

 Three Pepper Jelly

8-10 canned pickled jalapeno peppers OR about 3/4 cup if dicing sliced peppers
1 tbsp butter 
8 ounces canned diced green chilies
1 cup ZSweet OR 1 1/4 cup erythritol
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water 
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp liquid stevia
1 1/2 tbsp Ball No Sugar Pectin

Finely chop the pickled jalapeno peppers in a food processor.  Heat the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in the chopped jalapenos and the green chilies. Coat well and saute 2-3 minutes. Add the erythritol, vinegar, water, lemon juice, chili powder and liquid stevia. Stir over medium heat to dissolve sweetener. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the powdered pectin. Return pan to heat to resume boil. When the mixture boils, remove from heat and pour into three clean jelly jars. Seal and cool.

Obviously, I did not process these in a canner for long term storage. These would keep more like a freezer jam, for several weeks. I am not sure if erythritol acts as a preservative like cane sugar does. There is enough vinegar in there to do a good job in that area though. We will see. Not sure if three small jars will last through New Year's Eve around here anyway!

If you want to make some, especially here at the holidays, it would be very pretty with some red bell pepper thrown into the mix too.  Now what to do? Well, the obvious, and my personal favorite, is to put some over a block of cream cheese and serve with veggie dippers and crackers. You can also spoon the jelly over ham, meatballs or chicken breast. I hear some even use pepper jelly on a sandwich. I don't know about you, but I am too busy with last minute details to be making low carb bread right now. Ours will be appetizer fare! In the photo, I warmed some leftover cheeseball and spread it into a Christmas tree dish. That is too festive! Merry Christmas, Diners.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kent's Stuffed Mushrooms

Well, I made it the first week. It is Among Friends Thursday. This week I tried the Stuffed Mushroom recipe from Kent Altena. Delicious. Lucky me, I get to eat them all, I think. Ever since I made my boys dissect a mushroom in biology class, they refuse to eat fungi. At least not whole ones. We do sneak a few onto pizza and into casseroles still. Obviously, mushrooms are not the prettiest, but these little bites are really tasty.

Kent's recipe uses baby portabellas, which I found at Aldi  for a great price. I had already dug into mine for another recipe, so I may have over stuffed mine a little tonight, being short three shrooms. All the better for some extra flavor. I also forgot a couple of spoonfuls of the diced mushroom (yes, I was distracted) which were supposed to be mixed in. I added those to the top, and I think that makes them prettier. These would be excellent for Christmas and New Years Eve parties. Look for the in Low-Carbing Among Friends page 273. Click on the photo of the book to go to the order page and to see some incredible photos of the recipes in the book.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Greek Inspired Stuffed Peppers

It seems like I have been posting all sweet treats lately. We really are still eating dinners, I promise. Relying on the old standards makes the busy holiday season easier, but they aren't so interesting for blogging. Tonight, I made these stuffed peppers for my youngest son, who loves bell peppers, and is feeling a little under the weather. Then at the last minute, he ended up ring shopping with his girlfriend. Hmm. Certain girls have a way of making sick boys feel better like moms just can't.

So, his portion went into the fridge for lunch tomorrow. One of these days, she will be cooking for him instead of me. I had best feed him while I can! My sweet middle son is finishing up finals tomorrow, so I am really looking forward to hugging his neck and cooking for him. After college food, they always appreciate Mom's Diner.

Tonight, I ran short in the pepper department and long on zucchini squash. Rather than make a zucchini boat, something that does not offer too much appeal for my men, I made little squatty stuffed zucchini. I liked them, and you might too. Silly boys.

Many, I say MANY recipes call for rice as a filler. I subbed cauliflower, and no one would be the wiser. I added some coconut flour so it would all stick together. It did great there. Some feta cheese gave outstanding flavor, as did the oregano and lemon pepper. These had to be the most flavorful stuffed peppers I have had. For me,  I may have thrown in some cinnamon, but my guys don't rave about that either. Do what you want.

There are also two camps on the baking procedure. Some people pre-brown the meat. This certainly shortens the baking time. It does, in my opinion, make the dish messier. Packing in raw meat leaves it more like a mini meatloaf inside the pepper and less like a sloppy joe. If you are running out of time, go ahead and brown the meat first, but leave out the coconut flour. Maybe an egg as a  binder? Not sure, but maybe. I know the hour and a half oven time is well worth it.

Greek Inspired Stuffed Peppers (and zucchini if you want)

 4 bell peppers OR a combination of bell pepper and zucchini
1/2 large head cauliflower OR about 2 1/2 cups finely diced
1 pound ground meat (I used sausage tonight, but I suppose lamb would be more authentic)
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/2 tsp ground oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup low sugar spaghetti sauce

 Cut the tops off bell peppers and remove the seeds. If using zucchini, remove stem and base, and cut into 4-5 chunks. Use a melon baller to hollow out a cavity from the zucchini. Reserve the squash cuttings to add to the cauliflower.

Use a food processor to finely dice the raw cauliflower and zucchini. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower  with the ground meat, coconut flour and all the spices. Stir in the feta cheese. Fill the peppers with the meat mixture. If making zucchini, fill those, rounding the tops with a spoon. Place the filled vegetables in a baking dish and spoon spaghetti sauce over the top. Cove the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees. Remove the foil from the dish and bake another 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to make certain the middle of the peppers register 165 degrees.

 Add a little more sauce if you want. This is yummy stuff!

P.S. The boy came home from shopping and ate his portion anyway. Good, because that is the one I need to get some weight on!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chocolate Mint Ribbon Cookies

A few years ago I made a Neapolitan cookie, complete with the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry stripes. We liked it. Then I went all out for my competitive cookie exchange party, and made Martha Stewart's Checkerboard cookies. True, you need a ruler to make Martha's cookies. Being a bit of a pain, you really have to A. Want to impress someone,  or B. Love someone passionately to want to make those! These are not so hard--even if you do make them for someone you love. This cookie will leave you time to play a game or catch a movie with them too. Leave Martha's ruler behind, and make these. The chocolate shortbread flavor is there. I made them even more fun than checkerboards with a minty green layer. I love chocolate and mint.

Just because these cookies are easy, that is not to say that these are not cute. Especially cute for a low carb treat. Those often suffer in the pretty department. Not so these. My only fault with them is that I prefer a more well done confection. But then, I also know that I am not the norm, and that most of you will find these barely done cookies absolutely perfect. Watch closely when baking; if you cut any thicker or thinner, the baking time will vary a minute here or there. I guess you could still use Martha's ruler, but I refused to go there again!

If you aren't a fan of mint, choose any flavor or color that you like. Cherry flavoring with pink food coloring would be nice. Who knows?

Chocolate Mint Ribbon Cookies

1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup granulated ZSweet (use 1/3 cup straight erythritol if you don't have this blend)
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
10 drops stevia
2 1/2 tsp melted unsweetened chocolate
1/2 tsp peppermint flavoring
6 drops green food coloring

In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, erythritol, coconut flour, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda.
In a small bowl, combine melted butter, egg, vanilla and stevia. Add the wet ingredients to the larger bowl, stirring by hand to combine.

Divide the dough into equal thirds. In a small bowl, add melted chocolate to 1/3 of the cookie dough. Use the back of a large spoon or your hands to blend thoroughly. In another small bowl, add the peppermint flavoring and green food coloring to another 1/3 of the dough. Use a spoon or hands to blend it well.

When all the doughs are blended, place the vanilla dough onto a sheet of waxed paper. With your fingers, shape the dough into a rectangle approximately 1/2 inch thick. Each layer will be about 6 inches long, 2 inches wide. Wrap the dough in the waxed paper to create smooth, straight edges. Repeat the formation of the rectangular logs with the mint and the chocolate dough.

Working on waxed paper, place the chocolate layer on the bottom, the vanilla in the center and the mint dough on top. Wrap well in waxed paper and use your fingers to smooth the edges and blend the layers together. Chill this log for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

To bake, slice 1/4 inch slices and place on a silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Watch closely and remove cookies before the edges brown. Cool 2 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a flat surface to cool completely.  Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Per cookie:  57 calories  2 g protein   5 g fat   1 g net carb

Once the cookies are cool, they are not too fragile, and the layers stay together very well. It is fun to try to eat the layers one at a time to taste the different flavors. Of course, it is just as wonderful to get that great chocolate mint flavor too. One big bite will do that! I think these are perfect for a low carb cookie plate for the holidays.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Maple Walnut Bundt Cake from Carolyn

I am hoping you are excited about trying out all the news recipes from the Low Carbing Among Friends Cookbook. I am going to try to highlight recipes from the book once a week. I would say that I would call it Among Friends Thursdays, but my schedule might make that difficult, so no promises.

I can promise that Carolyn from All Day I Dream About Food is a talented baker. She is also fighting diabetes through a low carb diet, and it is working for her too. As an avid baker, she has transformed so many sugary, gluteny recipes into incredible low carb confections. I happened to have an unopened bag of walnut meal I just retrieved from the deep freeze and thought this would be fabulous. I was right! My house smells like my favorite maple doughnuts, only this is good for us too. Wowzers. Carolyn's recipe in the book is for a bundt cake. I have this silcone bakeware which makes mini bundt cakes, so I pulled it out.  The recipe, being made to fill a standard sized pan, filled those and also a small cake pan and a mini loaf pan. I had a little trouble getting my mini bundt cakes to release. Now, isn't that what is supposed to be great about this flexible type of bakeware? I have always had trouble with this particular one it seems. I know it wasn't the recipe that was the problem, because the cake came out with no problem as did the mini loaf. So the smooth surface area that is on the flat cake seems a little mottled in the mini bundt. But still, the basic shape is what I was going for, and my family gobbled up the loaf while I was still waiting for the bundts to cool.

I couldn't resist adding a tiny few non pareils to the top of the icing. It is Christmas afterall. While I can make low carb colored sugar, I have not come up with a way to make these myself. If you would like to make this cake for yourself, the recipe is on page 201 of Low Carbing Among Friends. Carolyn does not have this one on her site, so you have to buy the book. Do that here. I love pictures of recipes I am going to make. Unfortunately, if we had included photos of the hundreds of recipes in the cookbook, it would have cost hundreds of dollars! The next best thing is to view examples of the recipes on the book site, or come here to see our photos of our own creations. I left the photos up for most of the recipes that are included in the book in my section. Just type the name in the search engine and see if it comes up.

This cake is perfect for lovers of walnut--or those of us who always have adored Maple flavoring. You would never know it is low carb. Thanks, Carolyn.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Calabaza Chili for a Long Weekend

Long weekend. My baby boy's stomach issues returned after church last night. We spent a few hours in the E.R., until almost sunrise, but with little benefit. The doctor basically told me that they do not consider IBS issues too important. I guess the way it goes is that he has to have multiple bouts before his condition is considered serious. As a mama, I surely don't want to let it get that far. He had been experimenting with his SCD diet a bit since Thanksgiving and was trying simplifying to just gluten free. I am guessing that was not good enough for his system. As soon as his insurance kicks in at his job, I think we may try to get some allergy testing to know the specifics. These flare up are so painful, and the medical community ignores the  problem as long as they can. I suppose they will be concerned once Ulcerative Colitis sets in. No doctor has ever even suggested dietary treatments. Of course, they don't seem to understand that John's diabetes is treated with diet either.

I sent my boy upstairs because he is not allowed anything but clear fluids today.  I made us a quick skillet chili. It turned out amazingly good for something so simple, so I thought I would share this nice autumn recipe with you. Yes, I served it in a Christmas bowl, and that still seems appropriate. We are trying to get the lights put up today, and baby, it is cold outside. This chili has just enough heat to warm Santa's bones too. The unique recipe has volume due to the unusual ingredients--three kids of squash. Calabaza is the Spanish word for winter squash. This has pumpkin, Delicata and zucchini. Any small diced squash would work and add a nice texture and sweetness to the chili.

Calabaza Chili

1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 onion
1 large zucchini squash
1 Delicata squash 
1 cup pumpkin puree
8 ounce tomato sauce
1 tbsp sun dried tomato strips
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp beef bouillon crystals
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp- 1/4 cup water, optional

Dice onion, squash and zucchini. In a large skillet, break up ground beef. Add the diced vegetables while the meat is browning. Drain fat after vegetables are fork tender beef is browned. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring to incorporate spices. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add a little water if chili become too thick, or if a thinner souplike chili is desired.

Serves 6: 313 calories  10 net g carb 

This has a great thick texture, and does not taste at all like vegetables. I started out planning to make a chili-mac type skillet dinner, but chose to add the pumpkin to make it more like a chili. It was good both ways. I added a little jalapeno pepper salt and some Tabasco sauce to mine; the others did not. It is all gone now, so I have no more room to experiment. I made some Pepper Jack cheese crisps to sub for crackers, and all was good. Wonderful way to recover from a rough weekend. Now onto some prep cooking for the week.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Snow Capped Chocolate Muffins

I was so happy to get to have my oldest son and his girlfriend come into town last night and stay over for breakfast this morning. (separate rooms, of course) They drove the 100 miles to see the spectacular Christmas lights at the nearby Rhema Bible College. We go several times a year, the lights are so spectacular. I was busy with Christmas all day yesterday, decorating the house and attending an ornament exchange last night. Too amusing that the ornament I made was a cupcake, being the low carber I am. This one was the ultimate sugarfree treat, being made with cupcake wrappers, a plastic ball ornament and topped with caulk and beads. That will keep you on the diet! Can you tell which is which?

Although the muffins I made this morning are not quite as cute, I promise they were way more delicious. My future daughter in law usually won't try my low carb creations. But since we were low on breakfast supplies, she let my boy have the last of the bacon, and she tried my muffins. I guess she approved, since she returned for more. Yeah. In fact, she told me I should sell the recipe to a coffeeshop so they could make them for customers. So look at what a deal you are getting today. I am publishing this for free! Who knows, though, they just might make it into a future cookbook. Among Friends is working on a second edition for 2012. I checked. Although there are many wonderful sounding muffins, we did not include a simple almond flour chocolate muffin in that edition. To check out what we did put in there, visit the Among Friends home page. There are some fabulous bakers in there, with their best recipes, a talent to which I could only aspire.

These are good for a simple Saturday morning breakfast, or for the muffins to last you the week when baking on prep day. I am going to give the recipe for a dozen, so be sure to double that if you want muffins for a family for a week.  To get ready for holiday baking, I ordered almond flour from a new distributor. I ordered from California Gold Almonds. The service was good, despite a small address mishap somewhere along the way. I haven't baked with the flour yet, but by appearance it looks very similar to what I used to get at Nutty Guys or Bob's Red Mill. The price is certainly right. I paid $23 plus shipping for 5 pounds. Still worked out cheaper than other places I have found, even with higher shipping. It looks like the Christmas sale for sliced almonds has a nice price also. I will let you know more after I bake some more goodies with it. I am always so stingy with my almond flour since it is so pricy. Somehow when you have a 5 pound bag, it is easier to use.

Snow Capped Chocolate Muffins

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup ZSweet or  plain erythritol plus 2-3 packets of stevia
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 stick butter
 1 square unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp powdered ZSweet or erythritol

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, erythritol, baking powder and salt. In  a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate. To the hot mixture, add eggs, one at a time. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Spoon batter 2/3's full into cupcake liners or oiled muffin tins. Bake 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees. Let muffins cool at least 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Sprinkle powdered erythritol on the tops for the snow cap effect. (an old salt shaker is good for this) For best texture, thoroughly cool the muffins before eating. Makes 12.

Using real chocolate in these muffins really lets the flavor shine through. Of course, they would be good with other additions--coconut, walnuts, etc. But I just wanted a pure chocolate taste. Yum. After making all those ornaments, I just couldn't help dressing up these plain chocolate muffins in a little holiday attire.' Tis the season.