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

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cozy Cranberry Sippers

OOh baby it's cold outside--at least at my house. I just can't get warm! All layered up and everything, but I am just chilled to the bone. Last night I made Punkin Chili, and that didn't do the trick. Today I resorted to a hot drink. This cranberry tea is so delicious and that warm cup did wonders for my hands. This is easy to put together. I just robbed a few fresh cranberries from the bag I intend to use for our Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce Three Ways. (I always make three variations so we don't get tired of the same thing) I doubt we will miss those ten berries. I do plan on buying an additional bag to keep in the freezer this year. Cranberries disappear after the holiday season around here.

This tea is fruity sweet and spicy--all the great flavors of the holidays. I used a Christmas flavored herbal  tea, but any tea will work well, I think. If you use an orange flavored tea, you might be able to skip the addition of the kool-aid powder. Definitely worth some experimentation. Just don't miss the cloves. That's the flavor that really makes the drink special. If you don't have a spiced tea you might want to add a pinch of pumpkin pie spice when you add the teabag.

Cozy Cranberry Sippers ( for 2)

2 1/2 cups water
10 fresh cranberries
2 teabags, regular, spice or orange flavor
2 pinches unsweetened orange flavored drink mix
4 packets stevia or other sweetener (most packets equal 2 tsp sugar)
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Bring water and cranberries to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the tea bags and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until cooled enough to transfer into a blender. Discard the tea bags and process until the berries are blended in. Pour the tea mixture through a strainer back into the sauce pan. Stir in the orange powder and sweetener. Heat to desired temperature. Adjust sweetness to taste.

I love that this recipe doesn't use any artificial sweeteners. I have an easy version of a hot cranberry drink too. Cranberry Hot Drink  is a favorite from years past, but this tea and real berry version  is a little different and is worth the trouble.

This is such a pretty drink. It will be a beautiful choice for sipping throughout the holidays. The 24/7 Diner News December edition will feature a whole page on warm winter drinks for enjoying when the weather is cold. If you have a favorite low carb fireside sipper, I would love to include some of your recipes in the Diner News.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Italian Sausage Soup with Gnocchi

Life is crazy busy for me. Crazy. I am hosting a formal fundraising banquet for our educational program this week. All that organization is tough enough without the added stress of doing so many of the jobs ourselves to save money. We have printed and bound our own masterplans, done all the promotional materials, met with the hotel, hand addressed all the invitations, made our own video...the list goes on! Because life is too much right now to think much about food at all, I have not been very creative in the kitchen. For prep day, I made a bid pot of soup to eat several times this week. It is very flavorful, and with the addition of low carb gnocchi, it is filling too.

I have been wanting to try something new with my gnocchi recipe that is in LCAF I. This time, I added a teaspoon of glucomannan powder, hoping for a bit of binding. It may have made them a little chewier and more like the potato variety, but not too different from the original. If you have glucomannan, give it a try, If not, it is certainly not necessary. The dough does hold together well in the boiling water though. The little pillows did not fall apart in the broth of the soup either ( though I did add them in at the end to make sure.)
They impart a nice cheesy, garlic flavor to the soup and just generally make a simple vegetable soup more fun.

I am packing the soup into canning jars for work. I think I will keep the gnocchi separate in a little baggie. I love to take soups to school for lunch. That way when the kids come in with chili dogs and onion rings, I at least have something more substantial than a salad. I took vegetable beef soup last week and actually had a student offer to trade me lunches. We will see what happens this week! To change things up, I may add a one ounce block of cream cheese to make it a cheesier version later this week.

Italian Sausage Soup with Gnocchi

1 lb Italian style pork sausage
1 onion
1 yellow bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 zucchini, cut in slices, then quartered
2 tsp minced garlic
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
29 oz water
1 quart beef broth
1 tbsp Italian seasoning or Mediterranean seasoning
1 tsp salt (adjust if using salty broth)

3 eggs
1 tsp glucomannan (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (canned, dried) plus a bit for garnish
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, brown the sausage with the onion and peppers. When no pink remains in the sausage, add zucchini and garlic. Saute 5 minutes. Pour off excessive fat if any. Add the diced tomatoes, water (2 tomato cans full) broth, seasoning and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes while preparing the gnocchi.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs lightly. While whisking, slowly add in glucomannan powder, if using. Stir in Parmesan, coconut flour, garlic and salt. Place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. Form the dough into a rope shape about 1/2 inch wide. Chill for 30 minutes or place into the freezer for 10. Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Slice the dough into bite sized pieces (they will expand in the water) drop them one at a time into the boiling water. They will initially sink, then rise to the surface. Stir gently to keep the gnocchi separate. Cook for 3-4 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon. It may take 3-4 batches depending on the size of pan used. I keep gnocchi in a single layer to prevent sticking. If not using immediately in the soup, let them dry out for about 30 minutes before packing them for storage.

You don't have to make the soup to make the gnocchi of course. They are marvelous with marinara sauce too. They are more tender than traditional potato filled gnocchi, but a nice change from zucchini or cabbage noodles for us low carbers. I made mine with the fabulous Mediterranean seasoning from Target's Archer Farms. Love that stuff and I only have to grab one bottle from the spice rack! A few shakes of crushed red pepper would be great too.

Now here's to surviving this crazy week. Wish me luck. Our program really needs to find supporters if we are to keep the doors open! Bet most of you couldn't attend the banquet, but do remember that all my book sales money goes to keep the doors open for the kids, so think Christmas presents! Just click on the link of the LCAF books on the right. I am in I, II and V. V is a pre-order that will ship at Thanksgiving. If we get all the school's bills covered, and eventually even get salaries, I will have more time to spend in the kitchen.  I am so ready to hand over my fundraiser hat so I can concentrate on kids and cooking. The kids are worth it though!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Albuquerque Turkey White Chili

The weather around is really beginning to call to me to make chili. I have all sorts of recipes. We have enjoyed a white chili recipe since our low fat days back in the nineties. No white beans now, however. In the mood for that recipe, I set out this morning to mimic those flavors. No, I didn't have any chicken thawed. Turkey. Yes. That will do. (Often, this is the way I come up with new recipes--just by using what I have when the creative juices flow) That old recipe called for simmering the chicken in broth with cumin seed. I had that, so off I went!

Gotta say, this might be better than the original, although it didn't turn out to similar at all. Not really like a chili, more like a soup. Back in those days, I never had green chili powder. Now I am never without it. It has so much amazing flavor and  is so easy to use. Not easy to find--I order mine online--but it is worth it. If you don't have time to wait, just throw in an extra small cans of green chiles. (I never even have those around, since I buy #10 size cans and divide them up into ice cube trays and freeze.) In fact, this is probably more similar to my Albuquerque Cream of Chicken Soup that is in Low Carbing Among Friends Volume I. This has more veggies though and is much chunkier, so it is a bit more like a chili. Both good but no need for pre-cooked chicken here. In fact, I started with a frozen roll of turkey. This definitely qualifies for an E.Z. Fix meal. Plus, how fun is it to say "Albuquerque Turkey?"

Albuquerque Turkey White Chili

1 lb ground turkey
1 qt turkey broth (may substitute chicken)
1 tsp cumin seed (comino)
1/4 medium yellow onion
1 yellow bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 zucchini
1 tbsp mild oil
4 oz diced green chile peppers
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp green chili powder (optional)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup half and half

Place turkey into a soup pot or Dutch oven.Cover with broth and add comino seeds. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. While that is cooking, dice the onion, peppers and zucchini. Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute the vegetables until onions are transparent. Remove from heat. 

When simmering time is up, use a potato masher to break turkey into crumbles. (if you started with frozen turkey, the very center may still be uncooked. Don't worry, it will finish cooking in the remaining simmering time.) Add the sauteed vegetables, chiles, lime juice, garlic, chili powder and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes more. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and add it to the soup pot. Let the soup stand, covered but without heat, for 5 minutes. Stir the melted cream cheese into the soup. Stir in the half and half. Adjust salt to taste.

Serves 6 --  263 calories     17 g fat    21 g protein    6.6 carbs

This is delish. Even my hubby who does not like spicy foods liked it. If you want more heat, add some cayenne or red pepper flakes. I buy my Hatch green chili powder online--it is so worth the effort. One order will last for years.

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Pumpkin Fudge Mini Doughnuts

I made a delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cake a few years ago for a recipe contest featuring pumpkins. I didn't win, but i did fall in love with the flavor combination!  In fact, this post is all about a combination that works. I made these Pumpkin Coconut Mini Doughnuts in October for the Diner News. I opted to add the cocoa nibs and they were very nice. I popped a few into the freezer to save for later. This is later. It sure pays to stock the freezer!

For the November News, I found this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. The concept fascinated me. A no bake chocolate pumpkin pie filling. I had to try it out, even if it was too late to get photographs in the News. It is very interesting. My version was much darker than Katie's photos.    I think perhaps she used milk chocolate chips and mine were darker. I used a combo of sugarfree chocolate chips and regular semi sweet. I know my fudgy version has too many carbs, but it was an experiment, and the serving size is pretty small. (I get tummy trouble from maltitol and didn't have any better chips on hand) I plan to try it again using unsweetened chocolate and my own sweeteners. If you are inspired, you might beat me to that, so let me know if it works. Since I tried it without an actual pie crust made, I still have some of the mixture in the fridge. From the very start, I thought it would make a terrific, stable frosting that didn't rely too much on butter or cream cheese. That it does! I love it as a dense frosting. You may want to half the recipe if you are just using it as a frosting, though.  Haven't figured the carbs. Hoping to get a new version of a recipe/nutritional program for my birthday. Missing my Mastercook since my laptop was stolen. Yes, that is still smarting.

To me, the chocolate is stronger than the pumpkin in the frosting/filling. But paired with the pumpkin doughnuts, the combo is absolutely perfect. Try it on a pumpkin muffin to make it more like a cupcake. Use it as a filling for a Ginger Cakes. Heck, it would be very tasty spread on an Almond Thin.

This is the recipe for the doughnuts. I like the mini ones made in my doughnut appliance. They are so cheap, go ahead and buy one. Much better than the pan I bought.

Pumpkin Coconut Doughnuts

5 eggs
1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
¼ cup coconut oil , melted
¼ tsp stevia or sweetener equivalent to ¼ cup
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup coconut flour
¼ cup finely shredded coconut
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp baking soda
Powdered sweetener (Swerve)

Break eggs into a medium bowl. Whisk well. Stir in the pumpkin, coconut oil, stevia and vanilla. If the coconut oil solidifies, warm the mixture in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Add coconut flour slowly, stirring well to incorporate. Add in the coconut, spice blend and soda.

Place the batter in a doughnut appliance or oiled mini doughnut pan. Bake 4 minutes in the appliance or 15 –20 minutes in a 325 degree oven. Dust with powdered sweetener before serving.

· Add 2 tbsp cocoa nibs to the batter.
· Instead of powdered sweetener, brush with butter and coat with a mixture of cinnamon and granulated

Pumpkin Fudge Doughnut Frosting (a.k.a. Pie Filling)

1 cup sugarfree chocolate chips
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1-2 packets stevia
1/8 tsp salt

Over low heat, melt chocolate chips. In a medium bowl, combine melted chocolate, pumpkin puree, cocoa powder, vanilla, stevia and salt. Combine all the ingredients and adjust for sweetness.  Chill, then spoon onto doughnuts or muffins. Smooth with the back of a spoon. (or your fingers) Use a clean pen to create the hole in the frosting, or just leave it capped.

These have wonderful texture. The thick rich frosting paired with the cakey doughnut is delightful and rich. They feel like a cheat. Now, remember, both of these recipes were featured in the 24/7 Low Carb Diner News. See what you are missing if you don't subscribe? Just 6 bucks a year. Each issue is generally 8 pages of recipes and tips you can use. Order here.

 So glad I got to show of my latest find from the thrift store. Isn't this little pedestal serving plate too cute? Good score for $1.50. Somehow a pedestal makes everything more special--even if it did come from the freezer!