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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bread in a Tube

What an amazingly busy life I have lately. The first week of our new educational project is under our belts. We had a successful week, we just need to enroll some more students. My mentor told me they would come, but with so much at stake, it is hard to be patient!

Working full time, and needing to rely on taking my lunch everyday, I am adjusting my Diner schedule somewhat. Lunches are so important--especially when eating in a community room means staying away from the chips, cupcakes and such. I am tweaking my Diner system to accommodate meals for all of us to take to work all week. I think I have a pretty good plan in place, with a rotating weekly lunch menu. I am going to publish my ideas and recipes in this month's Diner News. It will be an issue you don't want to miss if you ever eat away from home. That will go out on September 1.

The bread in the photo is part of that plan. That is my Mr. Peanut Bread baked in a bread tube. I got this years ago from Pampered Chef. It worked beautifully. The bread did not stick at all. It came right out of the tube.I think these tubes have been discontinued, but you can still find them at thrift stores or on e-bay. These little slices are going to be great for finger sandwiches to pack in our lunch. I plan to freeze the bread a little while to make it slice thinly more easily. I couldn't resist cutting it while it was still hot. We are eating the first slices with a little sugarfree strawberry jam. Delish. I have some ideas for a Thai themed chicken salad that should be amazing too. I will let you know! ( I haven't made it yet) I plan to cut the bread into 16 slices. That will make 4 servings for John and I to enjoy. Today we are having strawberry jam, and I will add another cream cheese and jam sandwich later in the week.  Add to that a serving of the chicken salad and one with ham and honey mustard. That will give us some delicious finger food for lunches. Cute little star shaped sandwiches. Just be sure to store the bread in the fridge because it grows mold quickly.

I have lots of other fun little dishes to try out for lunches this week too. I am replacing the cooking I usually do for breakfast with some extras for lunch. I am experimenting with intermittent fasting 4 days a week. Jennifer Eloff, my wonderful editor from the Low Carbing Among Friends--introduced many of us to the idea. I am going with the plan of skipping breakfast and limiting the window of my meals.I have done that most of my life anyway, so this seemed natural to me. The hours between dinner and the next day's lunch equal my fast. I am not going into all the explanations, so if you want to read more, read Jennifer's posts or any number of articles out there.

In the mean time, we will have some great lunches for the work week. If you have any tricks to make brown bagging easier, but sure to send them to me for the newsletter. I love having ideas from my fellow Diners!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Buffalo Cubes

Buffalo Chicken Wings are the one hot thing my hubby eats. I never quite believed him when he told me he likes the wings, because they do pack some heat. He has been known to tell me to cut back on a sprinkle of black pepper even. Right. This  is the guy that is going for the hot sauce?

Well, I don't care for chicken wings, but I did once try a Buffalo chicken salad that I really liked. Granted, that had breaded chicken, but it really didn't need to. I am all about easy, so I went with already cubed, cooked meat. I planned to make this with chicken, but pulled out a bag of frozen turkey cubes instead. Just as good.

These are great with a salad for a low carb lunch packed with flavor! I made mine really mild for the hubby, but he said we could go hotter. I guess his heat receptors work differently here! Go ahead and feel free to double the hot sauce if you want.

Buffalo Cubes

3 cups cubed, cooked turkey or chicken
8 oz tomato sauce
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp hot sauce (I used garlic flavored Tabasco sauce)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 packet sweetener
2 oz blue or feta cheese or 1/4 cup ranch salad dressing 
celery sticks, optional

Combine tomato sauce, butter, hot sauce, vinegar and sweetener in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring often, for ten minutes. Add additional hot sauce if a hotter flavor is desired. Place the chicken or turkey cubes in a casserole dish. Pour the hot sauce over the cubes and stir gently to coat. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes or until heated throughout. Top with cheese or dressing. Serve on salad greens or low carb bread with some celery sticks on the side.

I plan on adding this to my prep day rotation and keeping single serving bags of the Buffalo Cubes in the freezer for easy salad toppings when I am eating lunch at school. My plan now is to pack 5 salads in a jar and take them to the work fridge on Monday. Then, I can just bring a different protein topping each day. Here's an idea, Buffalo Chicken Cube salad, Asian Tuna Salad, Balsamic Beef Salad, Turkey Barbecue Salad and a Chef Salad to end it all. That is not boring at all.

I missed my Among Friends Thursday, sorry. I really did do it, I just never got a photo. I made Kent's Barbecue Sauce and put it on some of the Turkey Cubes I had made earlier. My dinner guests that night had a very restrictive diet. Gluten free, very low fat, low sodium. and no artificial sweeteners. That is a little restrictive to say the least. I made Kent's recipe with no artificial sweeteners. I subbed another can of tomato sauce and extra sweetener and spices for the ketchup. Every bite disappeared. I also served a salad, mashed rutabaga, cauliflower and fresh fruit. Have to admit I missed the salt and butter. They say they are used to going without. Anyway, I was busy with my prepping and the fact that we were eating at the school. I forgot my camera, so I never got a photo. Rest assured, Kent made a good barbecue sauce. I really do miss the low carb version from KC Masterpiece.

School starts tomorrow. I am excited yet nervous for our new adventure. This will be unlike anything we have ever tried before. Our program is geared toward teens who do not thrive in the traditional school setting. It may be because they are brilliant and bored or because they learn best through music or another learning style. Some may come to avoid the social complications of a large school, and some may just want more freedom in their education. I really understand the need for this alternative, Other programs around the country are operating. My area needs one, and we just need to get the word out. It seems like some doors for promoting our school have kept closing on us, but we will not give up. It may be taking more of my time, but being there for the teens who need us will be worth it. Please send up your prayers!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Egg Bites

It is always a challenge to change up breakfast a bit. Especially when you household goes through dozens of eggs a week. While I had the oven hot the other morning for the 'Bread' Pudding, I made a quick batch of these little yummies. This is what the hubby wanted. He never was a fan of bread pudding--even when bread was bread instead of eggplant. Hmm.

I just added some home made pesto and some dried tomatoes. Instead of the oil packed variety, I buy mine already cut and dried in a tiny dice. No more cutting oily tomatoes. The flavor is still there and really concentrated too. Super fast.  For this dish, I used my silicon baking mold with tiny squares. I bought it for my Coconut Almond Black and Whites, but it worked well for these too. Just enough to hold the 6 egg batch. Because they are thin and small, they bake up quickly.

The pesto flavor is what makes them. The idea is so easy and the method is so simple, I am hesitant to publish the recipe. But just in case you never tried this flavor combo, I will. And just in case you thought breakfast egg cups had to be in muffin tins, here you go!

Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato Eggs Bites

6 large eggs
2 tbsp pesto
2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp coconut oil (to coat pan)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and salt. Oil the cups in the pan. Spoon the batter into cups. Bake until puffed and golden. The time will depend on the size of the pan used. Mine baked for 10 minutes and made 24 bites.Standard muffin cups should make 6 and take more like 15-20 minutes.

Just another low carb idea for breakfast and snacking. Baking in silicon means these little jewels pop out like a charm. Easy to pop into a baggie for your lunch bag.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Skinny Dippers Review

Will summer ever end? We had a short visit from normal temperatures, but now it is back over 100. That sends me looking to the freezer. My boys were always fans of the frozen Pop Ice style treats. I liked them because they were less messy than the popsicles on a stick. The ones I tried to make from scratch were always too hard. This is one treat that is hard to make at home.

Then add the complications of trying to make one that is not full of sugar! I recently bought a box of Snapple ice pops for my newlyweds. I took one little bite. It was good, but then I felt guilty and deprived. That works out to be the same time this neat company sent me a couple of sample boxes of their product to review. I was really excited to find these packages in my mail.

Let me introduce you to the Skinny Dippers--ice pops for those of us who watch our carbs. Zero calorie and made with erythritol and Splenda. The label shows 3 carbs, but that will be from the sugar alcohol.  I don't count erythritol, personally. I kinda thought of this "Frosty Lemon Dessert" as they call it more like a popsicle for grownups. Flavors like lemon and tangerine. Sounds great!

I really do like the lemon ones. I have loved everything lemon for so long! They have a nice strong flavor. But it is the texture I loved  most. Not too hard. No breaking a tooth. I think they are perfect to grab when you just get home from the hot traffic. Well, grab some water first, then collapse under the fan with one of these.

Given that the weather is going to turn sometime soon, I still think it would be nice to have a box of these waiting to hold off that urge to snack an hour before bed. They feel like you are getting more than a drink, but the calorie content will be 0. Woohoo.

They also sent the Tangerine flavor. I was not as crazy about that flavor, but that just may be me. I had to take a lot of St. Joseph's aspirin tablets as a child.  They were orange flavored, and since then, that has never held an appeal for me. Pearson thought they were just as good, so it must be me.The flavors are not truly natural tasting. They are a bit like a flavoring, but then, that is what we would anticipate from a ZERO calorie treat. Tough as it is , we cannot have it all. Some can lose weight on low carb alone, but most of us older gals who have been down this road before have to count calories too. Fact of life.

The only problem I have with these is the price. It would be hard for me to shell out a dollar a piece. I am a known cheapskate, though. Diet food always does cost more. Since I have never been able to duplicate the mouthfeel, these just may be worth the price. If you have the budget, they can be ordered

And no, I did not get paid for this, just a couple boxes of cold treats. Thank you Skinny Dippers. When the Appetite Control Smoothie Mix is on the market, I would like to try that too. Sweetened with Truvia sounds like a good start.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Among Friends Thursday-Maria's "Bread" Pudding

Who woulda thunk? Low Carb Bread Pudding made without bread. Even without a low carb bread. No need to buy the pricy bread or take the extra step of making a low carb bread substitute. Maria is the queen of substitutions. This one was a secret ingredient. Eggplant. I promise that woman knows a million recipes for eggplant--none of which seem like an eggplant. She can turn the humble veggie into most anything!

My family does not like bread pudding. I happen to like bread pudding...some better than others. In the world of bread pudding, this one ranks somewhere in the middle. It is not a super decadent, high calorie, rich comfort food. But then, that is not what Maria was going for. She purposely substituted to make a lower calorie, healthier dessert. She wins big there. It is definitely better than some bread puddings I have tasted in my life--even those actually made with bread! Almond milk replaces heavy cream, erythritol and stevia serve to sweeten, and of course, eggplant cubes stand in for bread. How does she do that? Maria's recipe is on page 150 of Low Carbing Among Friends I. You can still order that, and order the next volume as well. Just click the link on the right. I don't have a copy yet, but soon I will be testing recipes from the new book too. So much good food.

I do miss the crunchier edges you get when a bread crust sticks out of the custard. This did not have that. The custard itself is remarkably like the original high carb version. Maria says her taste testers could not identify it as eggplant, so there you go. (In case you can't get over such an odd substitution.) It is worth a try. I used coconut oil because I was out of butter. I would definitely go with the butter next time.

I am eating mine plain. A scoop of ice cream would take it up a level! (Maybe even a gourmet sauce) I should get myself in gear and make some. I haven't done that all summer. My bad. I think I just may try that this evening. Then maybe I can get my bread pudding haters to at least try this one tonight. If not, it will be breakfast for the next few days.

With a very short break from the heat, I dared to turn on my oven this morning. Although I did regret it by 11 am, I managed to get a new egg recipe done. Just think pesto and sun dried tomatoes. Those went to work with hubby, but I will feature the recipe soon.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Angel Hair Salad

This one is perfect for late summer. Fresh, cool and tangy. No boiling pasta either, because this angel hair happens to be yellow summer squash. Love it!

I used my spiral slicer to turn the summer squash into tiny thin strands, much like angel hair pasta. They retain the crispness--not soggy like pasta. Add to that the great summer veggies. Healthy meal in no time.

In the August Diner News, I published a copycat recipe for Olive Garden Italian Dressing.  This is what goes on top. Make that recipe up, use it to flavor everything, and you won't even need salt and pepper. You can use any kind of creamy Italian dressing, or just keep an oil based dressing, It will still be good. I did add a little Parmesan cheese, though. If you don't do cheese, you may prefer a little salt.

This is one of the method recipes more than a get out the measuring cups and scales. Love those, as I am seldom disciplined enough to measure. If I include this in another volume of Low Carbing Among Friends, I will have to try to measure more closely!

Angel Hair Salad

1 large yellow summer squash, or two small ones
1 medium green bell pepper
6 grape tomatoes
1/4 red onion
1 ounce pepperoni slices or cubes
1/2 -3/4 cup creamy Italian dressing
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cut squash into noodle shapes with a spiral slicer. Finely dice the bell pepper, tomatoes, onion and pepperoni. Toss vegetables and pepperoni together with the Italian dressing. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Chill one hour before serving.

Like I said, this is a method. You could leave out the pepperoni all together, or add in ham or salami strips. Change up the veggies- go Greek by adding cucumber and olives. I think banana pepper slices would be awesome too. The spiral slicer I use is just one of the cheap little models like this one. I treat it delicately, but it hasn't broken in a couple of years....

With the temperatures here, this is about the best I have to offer. We have had wildfires around and temps over 110 degrees. Craziness for sure. I am so ready for fall!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Among Friends Thursday--Carolyn's Zucchini Pie

Today I am featuring a recipe from Carolyn--her Zucchini Pie. The sausage variation that is. No small feat that I turned on the oven today. I hear my little corner of the globe was the hottest place on earth yesterday, and today is going to be even hotter. 113 degrees today. Are we kidding?

So I got up really early to do my baking. I didn't even try this one on the hubster because he makes a face when I serve zucchini. Well most of the time. I can sneak it in stir fries and a few dishes. But the star of the show? No. For those of you with an abundance of squash from your garden, this is an excellent recipe. Maybe your garden isn't burned up like mine. My herbs are crisping themselves in the pot. My strawberries blooms keep forming, the shriveling in the heat. You know it is too hot when even the sweet potato vine is not spreading. I am so ready for summer to end. Or to go spend some time someplace cool. Any invites for a visit?

Back to the recipe.Page 176 of Low Carbing Among Friends Volume I, by the way. Carolyn says this is like her old version done with baking mix. I assume that impossible kind? Never having made one of those zucchini style, I can't compare. I thought it could use a little more of a flavor boost. That may be because of my marjoram being older. Perhaps a fresher bottle would have added more flavor. My bad. I don't use marjoram too often though. Next time, I will play around with the herbs, perhaps using some from the garden. If they survive the heatwave and IF I am ever willing to turn on my oven again!

No, I know I will return to my oven. Afterall, soon we will all be trying out the recipes in Low Carbing Among Friends Volume II. It is August, and pre-orders will be shipping before the end of the month. I don't have my copy yet, but I am really excited to see it. So much talent in there. So many phenomenal recipes. The whole series is going to be amazing. Jennifer and her husband Ian were inspired to come up with this idea. The best from so many cooks and nutritionists? If you want to order either book--or both, just click the link to the right and that will take you to the Low Carbing Among Friends website. Maybe we can read some of those incredible cake and casserole recipes while we lounge poolside!