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

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Home Made Pastrami

Cheater's Pastrami would be a good word for it. Probably not like a New York Deli variety, but delish none the less.

This month, I am featuring deli style recipes in the Diner News. I tried my hand at making real cold cuts-- smoked turkey, pepperoni and this beautiful Pastrami. I say it is a cheater version because it relies on starting with corned beef. That way you get to skip the brining step. Woohoo. The other cheat is the smoke flavoring. If I had a smoker, it would be great, but I don't. I do have 5 hours on a lazy Sunday afternoon to let this bake. Lots of time, not much labor for this recipe.

I can't claim it is my own invention. I owe this recipe to Chef John at He has a video that explains how he does it. I deviated a bit, though not much. Watch his video to get the idea. I cooked mine a little longer at a slightly higher temperature. I cut back on the pepper a bit too. I was out of smoked paprika, so I used regular and added some smoked salt, but I had to be careful not to make it too salty--gotta be careful with cured meats. It will be completely worth it to get the smoked paprika. Hubby was not willing to go to more than one supermarket to find that one little bottle of dark red powder. Maybe I will add a little liquid smoke to the mustard when serving this. That will do it. I love making flavored mustards anyway.

Here is my version, a feature in this month's  Diner News.

"Tastes Like the Deli" Homestyle Pastrami

3 to 5 pound corned beef brisket (ready-to-cook variety)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp smoked paprika (OR plain paprika and a sprinkle of Wright's Liquid Smoke)
1 tsp dry mustard
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Rinse the corned beef and pat dry. Rub olive oil into the surfaces of the meat and place on foil. Mix all of the spices in a small bowl and rub evenly on all sides of the corned beef. Fold up the foil, wrapping tightly. Flip over, fold side down, on another piece of foil and wrap the meat tightly again. Wrap a third time to assure a tight casing of foil. Place on low in a crockpot or oven at 250 degrees for 5 hours. Remove from the pot or oven and let cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate overnight still wrapped. The next day thinly slice the cold meat across the grain.

Trace carb per serving

I was going to have company tonight, and planned on serving bites of this as a build your own appetizer with small bowls of sauerkraut, mustard and pickles.  Now my guests can't come, so I am sad. Guess it is movies for our entertainment tonight. Good enough. I guess I can share it at our family get together tomorrow. We will eat then all head out to see Les Miserables. (except the poor radio Dad who works all  holidays) Happy New Year everyone!

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Peppermint Bark (Not)

So I wanted to make  a peppermint bark with coconut oil like I did last year. (Dec 11 Diner News) This year I had a mishap with my pan. I set my foil lined toaster oven pan into the freezer to chill the chocolate layer, but it somehow got tilted after the door closed. So much for  my plans. Luckily, the coconut oil peeled off and remelted easily. But by that time, I decided to pour it into these small silicon ice cube trays I  picked up at Goodwill. Now I have perfect little squares of minty goodness--no barking about it.

I made just half a  recipe today. I also used Swerve instead of erythritol and stevia. If you want to do that, just measure the Swerve the same as the erythritol in the recipe and leave out the stevia. For those of you who don't like the cooling effect of erythritol, this is the perfect recipe. With all the mint in there anyway, you expect that coolness. Believe me these are cool!--and yummy.

Tropical Santa Coconut Bark

Chocolate Layer:
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp powdered erythritol
1 packet stevia
1 tsp vanilla extract
Peppermint Layer:
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp powdered erythritol
1 packet stevia
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed sugarfree peppermints or candy canes

Prepare chocolate layer by melting coconut oil in a small bowl. Stir in cocoa powder, sweeteners
and vanilla until smooth. Pour this mixture into a foil lined 8” x 8” or larger dish. Chill until firm.

Prepare peppermint layer by melting the coconut oil. Stir in sweeteners and peppermint
extract until smooth. Pour this mixture over the chocolate layer. Sprinkle with crushed candies and chill until firm. If using a smaller dish with a thicker candy, cut into squares, if using a larger dish, break into chunks by hand as with traditional bark.

Super rich, minty and delicious. I used a refined coconut oil, so these don't taste like coconut, just mint! If you live in a warm climate, be sure to chill them well before serving, as coconut oil does become liquid again  around 76-77 degrees.  For a party, I would simply serve them on a chilled platter.

Recipes like this are one reason you might want to consider ordering the back issues of the Diner News. So  much good stuff that isn't here on the blog! order here.

I have my last holiday party tonight, and my oldest son is coming in from  Arkansas. It will be good to have the whole bunch together again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mini Almond Joy Pies

It is the time of year for special desserts and fancy dinners. Today I hit upon an easy and really pretty tasting party sized dessert. I love the flavors of Almond Joy candy bars. These are close, but full of good for you ingredients. They are pretty too, but the chocolate and coconut combo is just so good.

I baked mine in a specialty pan--one where the bases are separate pieces allowing you to poke the desserts out with your fingers from the base of the pan.  This doesn't work for wet recipes, but is great when sticking might be  a problem.  The crust does have a tendency to stick, so silicone would be your best bet if you don't have a specialty pan like mine.

Mini Almond Joy Pies

1 square (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate
1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
2 tbsp powdered sugar substitute (or sweetener to taste)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond flour

14 ounce can of full fat coconut milk, chilled and not shaken
 10 drops of liquid stevia or sweetener to taste

1/4 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
1 square unsweetened chocolate
2 tbsp powdered sugar substitute
1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
1 tbsp heavy cream (optional)

Prepare the crust first. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate and coconut oil. Stir in the powdered sweetener and salt. Combine with the almond flour. Press this mixture into 12 cupcake bases or a mini tart pan which has been oiled. Bake at 325 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Toast the shredded coconut in the residual heat of the oven, keeping a close eye on it to prevent burning. Set aside.

Remove the solid portion of the coconut milk from the can. Discard the remaining liquid or use for another recipe. Whip the coconut with sweetener for 2 minutes or more until the mixture is thick and fluffy. (Some brands are nearly ready immediately.) Spoon this mixture into the cooled crusts. Divide the toasted coconut among  the pies.

Melt the remaining chocolate square and coconut oil in the microwave oven until liquified. Add powdered sweetener to taste. For a less dark flavor, stir in a tablespoon of heavy cream. Pour this mixture into a  plastic sandwich bag. Snip the end and pipe the chocolate over the tops of the pies.

Place the pies into the freezer to firm up very well before removing from the pan. This will help them retain their shape. They are best eaten chilled, however, not frozen. Once out of the pan, the pies will hold their shape in normal temperatures.

Trying to multi-task this morning, I did  let my crust bake a little too long. Be careful with those, since the dark brown color prevents the eye from detecting browned edges. The crust will still feel a little springy to the touch when warm. (Good thing we like our cookies a little on the well done side.)

I have been busy with my few days off this week getting some work done for the January Diner News. It is the kind of work my guys appreciate though. This week, I have prepped a 10 pound pork tenderloin and 10 pounds of hamburger too. The Diner News is going to have a Deli theme, and I am trying out some ways to keep us supplied with deli meats and salads. Yummy experimenting for certain. In just a day or two, I will be busy with our Christmas menus. I host Christmas Eve at my house. It is a fancy sit down. This year we are having turkey and ham. On Christmas day,  I think I am bringing Alfredo Sauce with Dreamfields pasta and cheesecake. What are your big plans?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frozen Dinners When You Can't Make Your Own

If you know the Diner system, you know that I prefer to feed my freezer--then my family-- with home cooked meals. Although I have done my best to make a system that leaves no excuses for advance food prep, there are times when that is impossible--say like when a tornado rips your roof off. Or for the rest of you who might just get too busy fir your prep days this time of year--I introduce the Atkins line of frozen dinners.

You will probably be seeing lots of reviews for these new products if you travel anywhere around the low carb blogosphere. The Atkins crew has been very generous feeding many of several meals for our evaluation. My review will be one of many, but here goes.

I was happy to receive this. Always a penny pincher, I love a good sample or trial version of anything! These arrived at our door at school packed in dry ice. The students played with that and had a fabulous time, btw. Definite fringe benefit and they did not try the dry ice bomb although it was suggested.  Now on the to food.

The first meal I tried turned out to be my favorite. The Beef Marsala. The sauce was flavorful and the hint of wine did come through. Most assuredly my favorite part. The broccoli had a nice texture too. The beef was tender, although I have to admit that is probably because of the processing. It was more shredded than it looks in the photo on the box, but commercial food photography always does seem to be a lie. The Atkins makers say there are no fillers, but the meat has a different texture than what I make and freeze from fresh. That is my least favorite part of the whole commercial  frozen meal concept. The additives and enhancers. Our promotional materials say no fillers and no added sugars or preservatives. True, but additives like potato and modified food starches, soy and maltodextrin are listed. They are low on the ingredient list and therefore minimal, but they are there. I suppose it is a necessary thing. Since I try to not the be dietary police, I enjoyed it anyway. This is certainly a better option than most of the frozen dinners on the market. Those are certainly Frankenfood. These meals have the benefit of being high protein with low net carbs. In the 4-7 net carb range with the carbs coming mainly from the veggies, I think. If you need to be an additive purist, like I was when feeding my boy the SCD diet,  plan to stay in the kitchen to make your own from scratch.

The entrees are low calorie too, which I think will be an added benefit when it comes to the inevitable calorie counting I do in January after too many red velvet brownies during the holidays. The portion sizes are a little too small for me. I was left with a little edge of hunger. The kind where you could use a little more, but not the kind where you find yourself licking the bowl. Yes, in my Nutrisystem days I would remain so hungry that I threw manners out the door and literally put those tiny little cups up to my face trying to get the last morsel of nutrition. I hated that diet with a passion. While I could use a little more food, this is not that experience by any means. Plus, the food tasted so much better as well.

The next favorite was the Chicken Broccoli Alfredo. It was not nearly as rich as my home made, but far better than most frozen meals. The flavor of the chicken was nice, while again, the texture seemed a little processed. Once more, I could have used a little more--maybe I could add a fresh side salad to go with the entree. That keeps it in the easy zone.

The Roast Turkey Tenders with Herb Pan Gravy--the name was so promising. I thought this one needed a little more flavor. I found myself wishing for a salt shaker while I ate at my desk. (In all fairness, the Atkins box does describe it as a "delicate rosemary and thyme herb pan gravy" though I am trying to visualize how big that pan must be) Now understand,  I come from Southern stock, those who advocate overcooked, salt pork green beans. I have never been a fan of the lightly steamed french cut green bean. For those of you who prefer crunch, you will love these. I liked the touch of red bell pepper--a gourmet touch that actually did add to the flavor. It is just the texture that got me, and that is just a personal thing. And note--I did still eat them all.

Overall, if you don't mind a few processed ingredients, these frozen entrees could save you from many dietary mishaps. For those new to the low carb way of eating, they are great to model of how to do it. You can always cook more on your own later and lose the added starches and flavor enhancers. For those surrounded by carbivores, these will still be satisfying for you while others are eating pasta and Chinese take out. They don't taste like diet food at all. But at 310-390 calories each, they will help you lose weight, I am sure. I am fortunate to have a little freezer space at school. I think I will keep one for days when life happens and I don't get my lunch packed.

These frozen entrees are hitting select Wal Mart stores now, and should be in many retailers by January 2nd. If you give them a try, let me know what you think. My fellow Low Carbing Among Friends author, Kent, didn't care for the Beef Merlot, while that was my favorite. We are all different, but overall in the world of frozen food, you should find something to like here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reuben Dip

It is party time around here---how about you?

This is one of the dip recipes I included in the December Diner News. We made enough for two parties.  Very yummy. Even though it says it is akin to the Reuben Sandwich, it really doesn't have a strong sauerkraut flavor at all. If you like that, don't rinse the kraut before adding it in--or even up the amount you use.

Mix it, bake it and enjoy the compliments. And it really is good cold the next day too.

Reuben Dip

8 oz finely chopped deli style corned beef
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chunky mild salsa
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained and chopped
1 tsp garlic powder

Combine cream cheese, sour cream and salsa in a
bowl. Blend well, using a hand mixer if necessary.
Add corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and
garlic. Pour mixture into an ovenproof baking dish
and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Serve with low carb crackers and veggies.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Newsy News

I have been doing this a long time. I do remember sitting in the parking lot at the medical center after my hubby got his diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. I knew things were gonna change. Boy, did they! I altered my cooking, but kept my plan. Prepping food on the weekends really makes a world of difference. It has kept my guy off medication and healthier than he was that fateful day.

When I compiled my system, it was mostly just for me. Then I decided to format it to share. Before long, I was inspired to sell it online.That decision went pretty well. I never planned to be a culinary celebrity, but a little extra spending money is a good thing. I started doing newsletters and a blog to categorize what I was adding to my system. Along the way, a few of you have asked about back issues of the Diner News.

I never had a way to get those downloadable until  now. My techie guy has bundled 12 issues for each year. These, you can now download at the 24/7 Low Carb Diner web site. I didn't go all the way back, since the early issues are not as long. I have bundled 2010, 2011 and this year, 2012. It is still just 50 cents an issue, delivered as a PDF download.  You can buy one, two or all three years in one purchase. Just add them to the cart. At least I hope it works, we haven't sold any yet!

Each month has a theme, filled with recipes and tips that match. The download front page serves as a table of contents where you can click and go right to the month of your choice, Easy Peasy.  You don't have to print them out, just save them and use those recipes whenever you want. Or print them out and store them in a notebook like I do. There are just a few repeats from what is on the blog, but mostly new recipes and information. 6-8 pages each, all in various forms of my retro diner theme.

Check it out now!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

My favorite color is red. Vibrant! Especially powerful when it comes to food.

Red Velvet desserts were introduced to me back in college, when our cafeteria served "Sooner Cake" on home football game days. I think what I loved most was the cream cheese frosting. I never could pick out the exact flavors of the red cake, but I liked it. So what are the signature flavors of red velvet? I guess it would be the addition of cocoa and buttermilk.

I didn't mess with all that because I found a bottle of LorAnn Red Velvet Baking Emulsion at my Ross store. Just $2.99--that is a better deal that the whole bottle of red food coloring we typically seem to need to get that brilliant hue. This emulsion, and yes it is really thick, has the flavoring in there too. No need for buttermilk.

Having had a Red Velvet Cheesecake on my list of desserts to try out since last Christmas, I purchased a bottle about a month ago. The hectic pace of my life kept me from getting a sample made for Thanksgiving. Red Velvet is my oldest son's favorite. I did manage to get a couple of recipes done for the Diner News, however. One I will share. The other? (Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes) You will have to order the newsletter for yourself! Hey, my devoted Diner News fans need some special perks too. Order here:

Now on to the Brownies. I had a problem with these. Although many brownie recipes that use flour rely on the red coloring to be obvious in the brownie portion, in my almond flour based recipe, the chocolate overpowers the color. So instead of having a red brownie with white cream cheese, I opted to also color half of the cream cheese mix that goes on top. It worked wonderfully! These are gorgeous and so delicious too.

I don't like adding too many artificial flavorings and colorings to our diet, but this is an obvious special treat dessert. That and the Mini Cheesecakes in the Diner News are just for holiday celebrations around here. Of course, that might include Valentine's Day, Birthdays, Independence Day, Bowl Game day for my Oklahoma get the picture.

Red Velvet
Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup oil (of your choice or butter)
1 cup sweetener of choice
3 eggs
1 tbsp Red Velvet Emulsion
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sweetener (powdered would give the best texture over granular here)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Red Velvet Emulsion

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a heatproof bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave. Stir in oil and sweetener until well blended. Add in eggs, one at a time, stirring well until mixture looks glossy. Stir in the emulsion and vanilla. Combine the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in the large bowl. Line an 8x8 dish with parchment. Pour batter into the dish.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese. Stir in sweetener, egg and vanilla. Use a large spoon to dollup mounds of cheesecake over the brownie batter. Use only half of the cheesecake mixture. To the remaining half, stir in 1 tsp emulsion. Dollup the rest over the brownie batter, alternating with the white mixture. Use a butter knife to swirl the two cheesecake colors together. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let cool before cutting.

If you cut the brownies into 9 servings, you have 3 carbs each, with about 325 calories if using a no carb, no calorie sweetener.

These are moist, easy to cut and the contrast in texture is wonderful. They are easy to put together too. Use whatever sweetener you prefer. The measurements are the equivalent for sugar. I tested with a sucralose sweetener, but erythritol blends and xylitol would be fine too--probably even stevia. So many choices there. Just do make them. They are perfect for holiday parties and will keep you on plan.