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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Among Friends Thursday--Creamy Mexican Tomato Soup

Not sure whose soup this one really is. In the Among Friends Cookbook, it is in Jennifer's section. She attributes the original version to her friend Debra Matchell. Jennifer offers a variation, and my version seems to be a combo of the two. The original recipes calls for two cans of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies. My dear one thinks those are too hot, so I anticipated trying Jennifer's version which uses regular diced tomatoes. Then when buying my groceries, I came across these Great Value Fire Roasted Tex Mex Style Diced Tomatoes. Although I haven't tried both of the other versions, I am betting this can is a perfect combination. Not as full of heat as Rotel, the fire roasting adds a nice flavor to this simple soup. In addition, this can has added jalapenos and Anaheim peppers, along with onion and garlic. Yum.

I also used some water and instant broth like Jennifer did. I have not used her recipe for thickening agent, and my xanthan gum seems to have gone missing in the kitchen. Sometimes that happens when the sons help put away the groceries... I used some glucomannan. I think you might be able to leave the thickener out all together.

This is very tasty. I do love the flavor of real cream contrasting with the slight heat and tang of the tomato. If only I had some low carb bread made up. This would be phenomenal with a grilled cheese sandwich made with pepperjack. Oh my. Good enough as it is though!

I had company over today--interviewing a perspective student. To make the house smell wonderful, I tried a new herbal recipe I have included in the Diner News. I scented the house with a mixture of lemon slices, vanilla and fresh rosemary. I heard that (and fresh bread) was a famous realtor trick to attract buyers. It did smell nice. The recipe is in this month's Diner News. That is coming out tonight, and it is all about herbs. This issue has recipes for herbs with meat, in condiments and salads. It even tells how to make your own homemade mint extract. If your pots are not filled with pretty June herbs, be sure to pick some up at the Farmers' Market. If you don't have a newsletter subscription, go here. If you want to try Jennifer's soup, it is on page 21. If you haven't purchased Among Friends yet, click on the photo on the right to order your copy of the best low carb cookbook out there.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Superfast Breakfast in a Mug Italiano

Life seems to be running in super fast motion lately. I feel like someone hit the fast forward button. It is all good, all exciting stuff, but finding time to create recipes has been a challenge--at least blog worthy recipes.

This morning's breakfast was the fastest hot breakfast you can ever make. Just about as fast as having your breakfast muffins already made. I highlighted this method recipe in the April Diner News. This variation has an Italian theme, and takes advantage of some prep ahead steps like most all my Diner recipes do. For Memorial Day, we grilled some brats, dogs and Italian sausages. Of course we made enough for leftovers. I love leftovers. There is always something new you can do with them. Like this. The Italiano Breakfast in a Mug. Be sure to say it with that accent and your family will like it even better.

Italiano Breakfast in a Mug

2 eggs
1 chicken Italian Sausage or 1/2 pork Italian Sausage, pre-cooked
1 small handful of fresh spinach leaves
1 tbsp of sun dried tomatoes

Break the eggs into a microwave safe mug. Beat them with a fork. Slice a cooked sausage and add it to the eggs. Throw in a handful of spinach leaves and a spoonful of sun dried tomatoes. Stir it all together and cook in the microwave for a minute. Check the eggs, and stir a bit if you like. Cook an additional 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes. (this go around, mine was done with a total of 1 1/2 minutes, but ovens may vary.)

Using the Sprouts brand, the Chicken Sausage version, with a whole sausage is 399 calories and 6 net carbs. Using a pork Italian sausage, a half sausage is 394 calories and 6 carbs.

The hubby loved this one. How easy is that? You could add some cheese if you want.

The mug is sitting on one of those projects that has been keeping me busy lately. I am in the midst of founding an alternative education program for teens. We will serve those with different learning styles who are just not a good fit in the standard classroom. So much has been going on with that! The hurdles are overcome, and most everything is falling into place, but so much work is yet to be done. I will be signing the contract this week for the 6000 square foot old house we will be leasing. It is a good deal, but we agreed to do a lot of the build out to save money. Life is about to get even busier as we learn how to refinish hardwood floors, and paint old metal cabinets and such. The house we are getting was built as an orphanage, and has been a women's halfway house for a few years. LOTS to be done! Oh yeah, that table I was explaining. I picked up a water damaged table at a garage sale for $7.50. We had some Oklahoma history books donated in bulk, so we took the pages from one and Mod Podged a new top. The kids can't help but learn a bit of history while they sit at this table. I can't wait to get back to teaching. I have missed it this year. This program is so special, and there are kids who really need a different academic structure to thrive. Now I just have to go find the students, and get the parents to let them enroll. Our team is taking a huge financial risk, but it is a calling for all of us. Similar programs have been successful,  so we are jumping in! As busy as we will be, I see more of these breakfasts in our future. Not even a skillet to wash!

Get more great recipes at the Low Carbing Among Friends Facebook Page:     

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Among Friends Thursday--Carolyn's Lemon Tarragon Chicken Noodle Soup

Carolyn and I think alike when it comes to chicken soup.  Chicken and tarragon are a favorite pairing for me. I also really like chicken and celery soup. Remember this? Carolyn added some shirataki noodles too. I had never tried them in soup, but they are pretty good. Just be sure to rinse them, then cut them with kitchen shears while still in a bowl. That keeps you from having unruly noodles jumping off your spoon and spilling the hot broth on your lap. I used the plain variety of noodles and omitted the carrots so my recipe has even fewer carbs per serving than Carolyn's. Maybe not as pretty, but I don't generally keep carrots on hand.

I didn't have any pre-cooked chicken cubes on hand today, so I boiled the chicken in the broth. Either way works fine, depending on what you have. I love recipes like that.

This soup is light and lemony--perfect for early summer. I had to use dried tarragon because mine in my pot never came back. Sad--almost as sad as the fact that I discovered yesterday that some critter ate my lettuce right out of the elevated container. There one day,  gone down to the stalk the next. Aargh. If we had to survive on what I  managed to gather from the garden, we would surely starve.

Ready to give this recipe a go? It is on page 161 of Low Carbing Among Friends.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Italian Stuffed Grilled Chicken

 I am busy working on the next Diner News, which will highlight herbs. I have quite a few pots of fresh herbs growing out there, so I need some inspiration to do more with them than water the pots! This recipe is delish. It is a great way to use basil. Here, I used the Globe Basil, which has smaller, very strongly flavored leaves. I can pick off more than enough for dinner and still have that pretty rounded shape to the plant.

Here's the recipe. It is really simple. There are two ways of doing it, depending on the size of the chicken breast.

Italian Stuffed Grilled Chicken

1 chicken breast per serving
1/2 small tomato per serving
basil leaves to cover, 3-4 larger leaves, a couple dozen of the smaller globe size
garlic salt

Trim the fat from the chicken breasts.If working with smaller breasts, butterfly the meat, being careful not to cut through. If working with larger breasts, cut the meat into two equal portions. Use a mallet to pound the breast thinner. If you leave them too thick, it is difficult to stuff and even harder to get cooked through. Sprinkle each slice of chicken with garlic salt. Slice the tomato into thick wedges and lay those on half of the chicken. Sprinkle basil leaves over the tomatoes. Fold the chicken in half, creating a sandwich shape with the tomato and basil inside. Secure with a toothpick. Grill on a a George (aka contact grill) for best results. (It is much easier to not flip these) If you are brave, the extra charcoal taste would probably be awesome!

I grilled some extra tomatoes while I was at it. I love these drizzled with a touch of olive oil and flavored vinegar, then with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt. I didn't add anything to the chicken because I really wanted the taste of the herb to come through. And the smell....let's just say, you will be very popular.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Among Friends Thursday--Kent's Chicken Kabobs

If you are one of the Diner News fans, you know this month's issue is devoted to food on sticks. Everything is better eaten off a stick! This is another fun meal--not from the Diner News, but from the Low Carbing Among Friends Cookbook. Kent's recipe is quick to put together and the marinade tastes great. Just the right Asian flair, but not enough to send my Chinese food haters running. He adds bacon, but I didn't have any on hand, so I left it out. Same with the onion. My mom brought over the first bell pepper of the season and I wanted it to be the star. I am sure Kent's original version is amazing, because my simpler style is very, very good too. I did drizzle a little more Tamari sauce over my kabobs. I love the flavor and I know it is gluten free.

Kabobs are especially tasty when the meat has marinated. In fact, for smaller families, it is even smart to prep them as Freezer Favorites. I like to slice a big package of chicken breast all at once. Well, I can't say I like it because I actually have this whole texture thing with handling raw meat. But I do it, and once I get past the aversion, I prefer to do quite a bit at a time. It sure saves on clean up and sterilizing after handling raw poultry. To make Freezer Favorites, cut the chicken into kabob sized chunks. Place enough chicken for one person or enough for a family meal into freezer bags. Make up a batch of marinade, then divide it among the bags. Squish them around a bit. Freeze them flat, not in a blob. This is important for the next step. For single servings, I use sandwich bags, then place all the sandwich bags into a sturdier freezer bag. Then I can pull out enough for one or all of us. The George grill does a fine job for a quick meal for one. Just a zap the chicken in the microwave to thaw it a tad. If you froze it in a flat layer, this is no problem at all. If not, then you will have a blob of partially cooked, partially hard frozen chicken. Not good.  Thread the chunks on the skewer, add some vegetable buddies and grill!

Want Kent's recipe? It is on page 302 of Low Carbing Among Friends I. Order the book  if you don't already have it. Next time, I will add the bacon too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strawberry Iced Tea Time

I picked up this box of white tea a while back. It sounded good at the time, with essence of vanilla added in and the mild flavor of young tea leaves. For some reason, I put it on the back shelf and forgot it. I remembered it this morning. Do you do that? Come up with random thoughts and recall odd things while you are in that still drowsy state? I do, and this morning, this was that random thought. After I got up, this became my mission. Yes, it came even before the coffee.

Most assuredly, it is drop dead gorgeous! When I saw the red swirls drifting around in the jar, I knew it would be good. The scent was definitely sweet too. I added just a few drops of stevia to bring it to the perfect sweetness. I think this tea is made for ice. It is fresh tasting and fruity without being artificial. (though there is just a tad of artificial strawberry flavoring in there) In addition to the white tea, there are other flavors blended in--hibiscus, apple, rosehip, orange peel, blackberry leaves, strawberry fibers, elderberries, chamomile and vanilla.

Now the deal. I got 18 teabags for a buck at Big Lots. I honestly don't know if they still sell them or not. The brand is Diner's Choice. From what I can find, it is imported from Germany. You can buy variety packs of this brand packaged along with some Teekanne teas online. I think this will be a pleasure to use up this summer. To make it, I used my hot pot and added 4 bags per quart of hot water. This tea is too pretty to stick in my blue water bottle. It deserves a glass--or at least a nice jar!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lemon Ricotta Mini-Stacks

The May Diner News celebrates fun food on sticks. This is a new recipe for the idea I featured of mini pancakes served on a food pick. Saw that on Pinterest, I think. With the blueberries threaded on the pick, how fun is that? These make a delicate batter so they are perfect as small cakes. Because they are a little easy to tear, they are tough to turn in a larger size. You can try if you have those master flipping skills. I do not.

The taste is lightly citrusy and sweet. Don't mess them up with maple flavored syrup. Just a pat of butter, a sprinkle of powdered sweetener and some berries on top and you will be happy.

Lemon Ricotta Mini-Stacks

4 eggs
7 ounces ricotta cheese
1/3 cup almond flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp stevia extract
1/2 cup blueberries
1 tbsp coconut oil or other mildly flavored oil
1 tbsp powdered sweetener

In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Stir in ricotta cheese until well blended. Add in the almond flour, baking powder, juice, and stevia. Heat a skillet with oil. Pour batter into skillet making silver dollar size pancakes. When the tops lose the glossy shine, slip the pancakes to cook the other side. Remove to a warm plate while cooking remaining batter. Thread blueberries onto the food picks. Spear the cakes onto food picks. Top with powdered sweetener and serve.

I love making fun little food picks from inexpensive materials. The pick on the left is how I buy them. I added the fun little flower from the sales tub at Hobby Lobby. Who would ever know from this breakfast that I am the mother of all boys? Speaking of mothers, this recipe would be very nice for breakfast in bed for your favorite mom this Mother's Day.

I am so happy that all my boys are in town for this special weekend. Also, I have been blessed with the most amazing mom in the world and I love her bunches. Still need to figure out a gift for the mom who has everything! Happy Mother's Day to all you amazing moms out there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Among Friends Thursday- Maria's Crusty Bread

This recipe is the one I promised yesterday that I would tell you more about. Maria's recipe in Among Friends is actually "Grilled Brie and Tomato on Crusty Bread." I didn't make the brie and tomatoes although they do sound amazing. I wanted the crusty little appetizer sized toasts for the Feta and Banana Pepper Spread I made yesterday. Something similar to French bread.  Just look at that photo and you can see how light it is. This bread, made light with egg whites, is very airy, not at all dense. It toasts beautifully and gets really crisped. Perfect for flavorful toppings. That makes a great appetizer for low carbers. Think cheese, bruschetta, deli meats and pesto, etc. This would not be my first choice for sandwiches, but for crisps--dead on!  It is a lot like making a Revolution Roll or Oopsie, but with Maria's signature touch of protein. The holes are not actually yeast action, but where I failed to get my cream cheese completely mixed in. I am always so careful not to deflate the whites, I sometimes still have a little glob of cheese that stays behind. I like it that way, so that is fine. It makes it seem even more like French bread.

 I have a chimichurri sauce I am making next, and I think it would make another winner combined with this crusty bread. I'll get to that recipe later--the store was out of parsley.

I had some bread leftover, so tonight I sliced it and toasted slices again. For this meal, I smothered them with Beef Stroganoff. Delish. It reminded me of the toast with brown gravy we used to eat at a diner next to my Grandpa's store. Definitely nothing like Maria's recipe, but good none the less. I still do want to try the brie and tomatoes. I adore tomatoes grilled or broiled with olive oil. If you want to try any variation, the recipe is on page 130 of Low Carbing Among Friends I. (That is more important to note now since Jennifer is busy editing the next volume! I will be a featured cook in that one, then will take a break for volume 3. There are so many talented low carb cooks out there!) If you haven't ordered it, hurry up and click on that link to the right. You will want to give yourself time to make so many of the recipes before the next book comes out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Feta and Banana Pepper Spread

If you are ready for flavor that practically makes your eyes pop out, it is here. I saw a spread similar to this in the deli section of Walmart yesterday. I decided to try my own version with banana pepper slices rather than pepperoncini.  Sorry I can't remember the brand name right now. Even the store bought brand was low carb.

If  you are the type who likes banana peppers on a sub sandwich, complete with some cheese and deli meat, then this is for you. True, it is trickier for us to get to eat sandwiches, but it can be done. Even better, this spread could be the start of some lovely salad dressings or great stirred into bland steamed veggies. It is tart with the vinegar and feta, yet creamy too. It is all sorts of flavors in a tiny bite. Trust me, you don't need much! As I blended it, I played around with the spices a bit, thinking of all the flavors I like on my subway salads. Today, I made a loaf of Maria's crusty bread. I will share more about that tomorrow for Among Friends Thursday.

Feta and Banana Pepper Spread

1 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/2 cup banana pepper slices, with liquid
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced finely
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano

Using an immersion blender, puree the feta and pepper slices. Stir in the Parmesan, tomatoes, garlic and oregano.

58 calories  2.2 carbs per serving  (12 servings)

If you want a less tart flavor, replace the liquid from the peppers with water. Use this spread with meat and veggie dippers or a low carb bread or cracker. Trust me, the flavor is intense, not hot, just a real burst on the tongue. Great appetizer for a party. More on the toast slices tomorrow, I promise.

Get more great recipes at the Low Carbing Among Friends Facebook Page:     

Order our books at:

Love the recipes I share on this blog? My ebook helps you plan and prep to stay healthy 24/7.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Among Friends Thursday--Jennifer's Spicy Chicken Casserole

Busy week at my little Diner! Having been at an educator convention for the past two days, I have barely seen home. My boys are in finals week. I am preparing for my Pearson's graduation, and of course, I have to have my house all clean and ready for company this weekend. I am in the midst of an incredibly exciting business opportunity--teaching related, not more food. I am completely happy with my team on Low Carbing Among Friends. Jen and Ian are the best, and they make the cookbook biz easy for us. I am getting very excited to see the next version. My recipes are all done and ready for Jennifer's expert editing. I will always be a low carb cook and I love new recipes!

My youngest son, his bride to be, and some dear friends and I are starting up a new alternative school program for kids who don't thrive in a large classroom setting. Teaching to different learning styles is really my calling, and I am so excited to see my dream coming together. We got our start up funding last night. Whew! I am entering new territory here, so this is still amazing. I am sure I will be telling you more in future posts. As busy as I will be, I will need my Diner system all the more!

Today is devoted to house cleaning and a little cooking. Good thing, that Thursday is my Among Friends day. This day, we are taking advantage of the chicken cubes I talk about in the Diner e-book. When these are waiting in the freezer, casseroles are a snap to throw together. Jennifer's recipe works great with frozen chicken cubes. Because my husband, as you know by now, doesn't do too spicy, I left out the jalapenos, and add just 1/4 tsp of jalapeno powder. I found that at a local gourmet shop. More about that on another post. I am having fun playing around with some things I found there. I had never thought to combine green beans and jalapenos in a casserole, but believe me, it works.

This casserole is creamy, with sour cream and mayo, with just that little extra bite. Yum. I saved a step from Jennifer's recipe by using my Wilton Armatale casserole dish. Love this stuff because I was able to saute the onions directly in the pan I used to bake in. Jen calls for a larger casserole dish, but this fit fine, and it is really pretty too. It is on page 35 of the Low Carbing Among Friends Cookbook. Order yours if you haven't got one yet.