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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Three Cheese Hashbrown Casserole

Don't let the name fool you. There are no potatoes here, but you just may think I'm lying. Rather than potato shreds, here we have grated rutabaga. This is so delicious. It really does take like a carby casserole. It keeps well too. You can freeze the leftovers or eat it several times a week like we did this time.

This is a recipe which will be in the upcoming April issue of the 24/7 Low Carb Diner News. This month, we are focusing on bacon, ham, sausage and all those pork products we love. This recipe just happens to also have bacon and sausage. It is a real family pleaser. Go ahead and double it if you want! Or triple it and turn it into a Multiply Meal.

 Three Cheese Hashbrown Casserole

6 slices bacon
1/4 lb bulk pork sausage
2 cups shredded rutabaga
4 eggs
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese

Bake or pan fry bacon. Drain and crumble. Brown the sausage in a small skillet. While those are cooking, place shredded rutabaga in a microwavable bowl with 2 tbsp water. Cook on high power in the microwave for 2 minutes. Drain and cool.

In a large bowl, beat eggs. Stir in the crumbled bacon, browned sausage, all the cheeses and the shredded rutabaga.

Coat an 8 inch square casserole dish with bacon grease. Pour in the casserole mixture and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting into 6 servings.

Recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Serves 6   472 calories   6 net carbs

This casserole is great for anytime of day. In fact, it could have been featured in the March issue of the Diner News. That one has lots of recipes to replace potatoes. But this one does have that yummy bacon and sausage that makes everyone smile. You can still order the March issue. The April issue will come out on April 1st. If you want to order, just head over to the Diner page:

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Chicken Parisienne and the Dating Game

This is an old recipe for me. It was one of the first recipes I ever tried to duplicate from just a taste. When I was in college in Norman, I occasionally got treated to an upscale restaurant named LaFayette's. Usually it was when my parents came to town on big footballs weekends. Dating on the college scene was generally the local pizza parlor, not fine dining. At one dorm party, I was a the bachelorette in a real life version of the "Dating Game." Our prize date was a trip to this restaurant, where I tasted this dish and loved it. Much more love than for my date, sorry to say. Actually, I chose a friend for the date. Having recognized his voice, I decided he was less of a gamble than the other two unknowns. I don't remember much about the date other than this dish, but years later, something grand did come from it--a nice low carb staple recipe for my family.

This is honestly just chicken, grilled on a contact grill or skillet, coated with a creamy garlic wine sauce. Now that my boys are out of the I hate mushroom stage, I am able to add in some extra flavor and texture. If you have the Diner e-book, mushrooms are not listed, but go ahead and add up to 4 ounces if you like.

Since I originally created this recipe, it seems harder and harder to find 4-6 ounce chicken breasts. For that reason, you may want to switch the original recipe to 1 1/2 lb of chicken breast meat. My son in the industry says size specifications for restaurants and prepared food companies means most of the smaller breasts go to their commercial clients. Kinda makes sense why we get the huge ones. When I made this for just John and me last night, the breasts were so large, one was more than enough for both of us. To make it faster, I sliced the chicken before cooking. You can still cook the chicken breasts whole if you like. The presentation is a bit prettier. Sliced is nice too though because the flavorful sauce coats the pieces all over.

Today I am offering up the recipe just for 2. The full family or guest version is available in the 24/7 Low Carb Diner e-book.

Date Night Chicken Parisienne

8-10 oz boneless chicken breast or 2 boneless breast halves
2 oz sliced baby portabella mushrooms (optional)
2 oz cream cheese
1/8 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp cooking sherry or dry white wine
1/2 tsp minced garlic 
pinch salt

Preheat and oil  a contact grill or skillet. Grill chicken until cooked through. If using mushrooms, add them in the last 2 minutes of cooking.  In a small saucepan, heat cream cheese, cream, sherry and garlic over low heat, stirring constantly. When the sauce is melted and well combined add salt to taste. Plate the chicken and spoon the sauce over the breast. Alternately, slice the chicken and add slices to the pan to coat with sauce.

Serves 2 at   351 calories   19 g fat   37 g protein   2.7 carbs
with mushrooms:  add 7 calories and slightly under 1 carb

How simple is that? Lafayette's is long since closed. I haven't heard anything from my "date" Robert for years. This dish, though, takes me right back to my freshman year. That is quite a journey.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Say "Cheeze"-burger Quiche Cups

These make me smile. This is one of my favorite Multiply Meals from the 24/7 Low Carb Diner e-book. Rather than making 3 full casseroles--although those are great--I thought you might like the smaller version to try out. This time, I made the quiche in cups so they are super portable for lunch on the go, or even a late night snack attack. Either way, casserole dish or silicon cup, these taste terrific. When my son came in from his LifeGroup tonight with his friends, he said the house smelled like hamburgers. That's a testimony. This is no gourmet delight, but real people food.

This dish really is like eating all the best parts of a cheeseburger. Forget the bun. Don't go near the french fries. (Unless you are making some turnip, rutabaga or jicama fries as per the instructions in the March Diner News) These can be held in your hand or eaten with a fork. You choose. I happen to like the taste of the dill pickle. It really makes for an authentic flavor. Truth told, I sometimes divide my mixture and make some without the pickles. Poor sad boy who doesn't do pickles.

This recipe is forgiving. The full Multiply Meal uses a can of diced tomatoes. For the single version, you have a choice. This time, I used a fresh roma tomato. If you don't have fresh you can sub 1/4 cup of a mild salsa.

Cheezeburger Quiche

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
8 oz cream cheese
6 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 roma tomato or 1/4 cup mild salsa 
1/4 cup yellow mustard or spicy brown mustard
2 tbsp dill pickle relish
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef with the onion. Drain. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs and mayonnaise until no lumps remain. Stir in the ground beef mixture, chopped tomato or salsa, mustard and pickle.Reserve 1/4 cup of cheese for topping and stir the remaining cheese into the mixture. Pour into a casserole dish and bake 40 minutes or until set in the center. Alternately, spoon mixture into silicone baking cups. Place cups on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until set in the center. Cups will rise then fall when cooling.  6 very generous portions. (you may choose to make it 8-10 servings depending on calorie goals)

738 calories   3 g net carbs

I serve this simply with some lettuce and a squirt of sugarfree ketchup. Yum.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Cinnamon Puff Balls

I started out today to make some cinnamon minute muffins. Somewhere along the way. my ideas jumped plan over to my cake pop maker. After all, it is spring break for me and I have a little more time to play in the kitchen. I still have a huge to do list for this week, but I took some time to make these sweet little breakfast treats. Hubby liked them and took a bunch to work. They are pretty tasty.

Cinnamon Puff Balls

3 tbsp golden flax meal
2 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
2 tbsp mild flavored oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup Swerve or any sweetener equal to 1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp water

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp granulated sucralose or any granulated sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon

In a small bowl, mix flax meal, almond flour, coconut flour and baking powder. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Stir in the oil, vanilla and sweetener. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Remove half the batter to a separate bowl and stir in 1 tbsp cinnamon and the water.

Cake pops: Pre-heat the cake pop appliance. Fill the wells, alternating between vanilla batter and cinnamon batter. Bake for 4-5 minutes and remove to cool. Repeat with all the batter

Mini Muffins: Coat the muffin tin or cups with oil. Do not use papers.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full alternating vanilla and cinnamon batters. Mix with a toothpick if you like. Bake at 350 until set in the center, approximately 15 minutes. Release the muffins from the pans.

Coating: Melt the butter in a ramekin. In a shallow bowl, combine the granulated sweetener and 1 tsp cinnamon. Dip each ball or mini muffin in butter and then roll in the cinnamon mixture.

Makes 16 puffs or 12 mini muffins
Serves 4 at      205 calories    2.5 carbs     7 g protein    18 g fat

Given that this is based on a Minute Muffin recipe, these might work well in the microwave oven if you have mini muffin silicone cups. Didn't try it, but it might work. You may need to add a bit more granulated sweetener when rolling. Happy Spring!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cuban Pork Tenderloin

This pork tenderloin is delicious--tender, yet it still holds together in slices. That makes it pretty. The flavors of the Cuban marinade are unusual but tangy and bright. This is such a nice dish.  It is really easy to prepare, just save yourself some marinade time. Some say acids in marinating over an hour will break down the tissues and make the meat mushy, but I did not find that to be true. A 6 hour marinade worked great for me! I usually use a pork loin, but the tenderloins were on sale, so I treated us to this smaller cut. I promise I will not miss any sales in the future. This is that good.

I made a small entree--using a single tenderloin for this. Pork tenderloin is often packaged in two pieces which look like a single cut inside the plastic. You have your choice of cooking both tenderloins with the same recipe or making two different entrees. Some people tie them together to make one larger roast, while others cook them separately.  I opted to use the other half package for a crockpot recipe. Both were good, but the presentation on this one is much better with the slices. The slowcooked recipe shredded when I tried to slice it. I will have both of these recipes in the April Diner News. It is going to be all things pork. We are having fun as I try new recipes.

Cuban Pork Tenderloin

1/4 cup lime juice
1 packet True Lime (optional but gives a flavor boost)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper

1 - 2 lb pork tenderloin

Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a gallon storage bag. Add the pork tenderloin and marinate for 6-8 hours. Place the tenderloin along with the marinade into a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees until the center reads 150 on a meat thermometer. (about 20 minutes per pound)

Serves 4 at   182 calories    3 carbs   10 g fat   23 g protein  (This assumes all the marinade is consumed, so carbs and fat will be a little lower)

I think this marinade would could also be doubled and used for a really nice, but larger, pork loin. I think it would also work well on chicken, it would be just a little less Cuban. If you don't devour it, cube a few slices and make a wonderful salad. For side dishes, think of things that go well with the tartness of the lime and the earthiness of the chili powder and cumin. The ginger adds to a sophisticated taste and makes this very different from a Tex-Mex recipe. You just ought to try it for yourself.

The True Lime is optional, but it is something I always keep on hand. I love a packet added to my water bottle. So refreshing! Yes, a little more lime juice will work too, but it is easy to carry a packet of True Lime with me when I go out. That and it never lingers forgotten in the vegetable bin. No, I don't get paid to recommend True Lime. Darnit.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mexican Cornbread...Sans Corn, of course

Mexican Cornbread was a staple in my mom's kitchen. It was one of my sister's favorites. Similar to a tamale pie, but not pasty. The cornbread was fluffy on top. Wow. So is this. I can't believe I never tried this as a low carb casserole. I've missed so much!

This recipe does not have several of the things my mom's version has. No creamed corn. Not necessary. No salsa, but diced tomatoes instead to keep it a little drier. No packaged taco seasoning filled with MSG. No cornbread mix either.  It does have spiced ground beef, tomatoes and pepper, and cheese! Any recipe with cheese is a winner in my book.

The "cornbread" is a cheesy quickbread made with coarsely ground almond meal and golden flax. It works!!! I was inspired by my cheese bread topped chili in a jar from the February newsletter. This recipe is a little different, and oh so delicious.

Mexican Cornbread sans Corn...and Carbs

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp minced dried onions
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp coconut oil
1 green bell pepper
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

Cornbread topping:
1/2 cup coarsely ground almond meal
1/2 cup golden flax meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tbsp olive oil

Brown ground beef, breaking it into small crumbles. Drain fat and place in a medium bowl. Stir in chili powder, cumin, onions, garlic salt and garlic powder. Drain the liquid from the canned tomatoes and stir them into the beef. Place the beef into an 8 inch square baking dish.

Slice the bell pepper into bite sized chunks. Saute in coconut oil 5-7 minutes until soft. Layer the peppers over the beef in the dish. Top with 1/2 cup cheese.

To prepare the bread, combine almond meal, flax meal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, cheese and olive oil. Stir until no large lumps remain. Spread the batter over the meat and topping in the casserole dish. Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula or large spoon until it covers the meat completely and touches the sides. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden and the center is set. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

537 calories    4 g net carbs   33 g  fat   43 g  protein

This is perfect with a small guacamole salad on the side. Some of the juices from the meat layer bubbled up along the edges and saturated the bread topping, but it was not soggy at all, just a little darker. I baked mine just a little too long. I seem to be expert at not hearing my oven timer go off. What makes me able to focus among the mass chaos at school also means I don't notice things like a few oven beeps. That's what I get for working on the crockpot recipe while this was in the oven. Multi-tasking is a prep day necessity, but I still manage to mess it up once in a while. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I prefer to have baked goods a bit over done rather than under baked. You might want to check yours at 35 minutes just in case.

This would be an excellent dish for a potluck dinner or to take to a sick friend. It is going to store well, reheat well and travel is no mess. Bet your carby eaters would like it. If not, make some extra of the meat and let them make their own soft tacos.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Not So Thin Mint Cake Balls

It is Girl Scout Cookie time. Although I have never understood all the fuss, it is pretty hard to miss. I have good excuses, letting sugar be the villain not my inner cheapskate. Now honestly, I do give, especially to kids--just other places. I understand overpriced fundraisers, but no one ever got that excited about our Boy Scout popcorn sales and I am jealous. Besides, I was a Campfire girl in my youth, not a Girl Scout. But of those cookies I have tasted, Thin Mints are my fav. Chocolate mint somehow reminds me of Christmas, though I don't know why. It certainly isn't necessary. Maybe it is the snow and ice still parked outside my door this March.

These cake balls are so delicious. They may not be the most beautiful to look at, but then neither is the Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie. These have a wonderful flavor. I cannot taste the coconut at all. It is all about the mint. If you don't like chocolate mint as much as I do, cut the flavoring back to 1/2 tsp.

Not So Thin Mint Cake Balls

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup Swerve or any sweetener equal to 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup mild flavored oil, melted butter or melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
up to 1/2 cup water or almond milk

2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp powdered erythritol blend1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1 tbsp granular erythritol or sucralose for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then stir in the eggs, oil and flavoring. If using coconut oil, you may need to briefly heat the batter to remelt the coconut oil, as it will solidify if the eggs are cold. Add water or almond milk to make the batter comparable to a brownie batter.. Fill the wells of the cake ball appliance with rounded spoonfuls of batter. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. Repeat until all the batter is used. My machine makes 15 cake balls. Alternately, fill mini muffin cups 3/4 full of batter and bake at 325 for 15 minutes.

In a very small cup, melt coconut oil. Stir in the cocoa powder, sweetener and peppermint flavoring. Drizzle over the cake balls. Sprinkle with granular sweetener. Of the ones I tested, granular sucralose looked best.

(Per ball) with erythritol: 74 calories each      1 net carb each   7 g fat    2 g  protein

In this batch, I did not use Swerve, but the Natural Mates Sucralose and Erythritol blend. It is twice the sweetening power of Swerve or Z-Sweet. Any of these products will work well, just watch to get the conversions correct. I use many different sweeteners, and while it does get confusing, they all behave a little differently and they all have their place in my recipes. My best advice is to find one you like best, and create your recipes--or mine--around it. So grab your sweetener of choice and try these Not So Thin Mint Cakeballs. They may be plumper than the original, but they will make you the thinner one!

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Thai Chicken

This is an old recipe for me...way back to our original low carb days. It is funny that sometimes in my quest to find new things for my blog and FB, I neglect our old standards. John didn't even recognize this meal. I did change out thighs for breast meat, but that wasn't it. True, I did change out red pepper for green this time, and actually had some fresh cilantro in the fridge.That makes it way more beautiful! But maybe it had just been too long since I have made this one. What a shame.

In my Diner e-book, this recipe is a Multiply Meal. For you uninitiated, that means it is a recipe for three complete dinners. Make it once, eat that night and freeze two others. With a winter storm bearing down on my door today, through, I wanted to get several meals out of my 5 lb package of chicken breast, so I made just one entree. I will give you that recipe, but it is good enough to make a triple batch...if you like peanuts. I love peanuts. Just so you know, I use Smuckers peanut butter for this.

Just a note on an ingredient. Knorr Cilantro cubes. I keep these on hand for when I don't have fresh cilantro on hand. I know you can freeze fresh herbs and all, but these cubes are handy. Always ready to go in the pantry. They are completely optional, however, and fresh cilantro will be even more flavorful! Here is today's version:

My Thai Chicken

2 lbs boneless chicken breast or thigh, cut into serving size chunks
1 diced bell pepper
1/2 cup thick mild salsa
1/4 cup no sugar peanut butter
3 tbsp lime juice
1 teaspoons ginger
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 Knorr cilantro cube (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves)
1 oz  peanuts

Mix salsa, peanut butter, juice and spices. Place chicken in casserole dish and coat with the sauce. Add diced pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and stir the sauce into the cooking juices. Chop peanuts and sprinkle over the top. Garnish with fresh cilantro when serving.

Serves 6 at   4.5 carbs each         186 calories

This is nice and warming. The salsa sees to that. Good thing since we were having "Thunder Sleet" while this was in the oven. Crazy weather. School is now cancelled for tomorrow, but that gave me some extra time to blog. Gotta grab it when I can. 

Ready to order the e-book that gives you all the secrets for multiply meals like this one, plus Triple Play meals (1 protein and 3 different entrees), Freezer Favorites, Crock-It entrees, Muffin Mania, Build It Buffet meals and E.Z. Fix meals? Order here:

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Oven Baked Rolled Omelet, Still a Favorite

When you need to make omelets for a crew, getting them ready at once can be a chore. This omelet eliminates the problem with the timing, It will feed 6 and it is ready all at once. Great news if you can agree on the fillings. These are just optional. You can use ham, chorizo, bacon or any protein you like. Mushrooms are a great addition, or olives. Vary the cheese--Swiss, Pepper Jack, mmm. Switch out the herbs. Customize to your hearts content.

This really is not complicated. The parchment paper does all the work for you. It looks impressive, though, so I won't tell if you don't.

Oven Baked Rolled Omelet

8 eggs 
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 lb fresh sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 cup diced onion and pepper blend
1 cup shredded cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
additional toppings: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, extra cheese

Line a jelly roll pan (or large cookie sheet with sides)  with parchment paper turning up the edges to contain the egg mixture. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, heavy cream, water and coconut flour. Pour into the prepared pan. Top the egg mixture with the sausage, vegetables, half the cheese and the oregano.

Bake 14-16 minutes at 375 degrees or until edges are set. Top with remaining cheese and bake another 3 minutes or more until the cheese is melted and the center is fully set. Remove from oven and roll the omelet immediately, starting from the short end and peeling the paper off as you roll. Place the rolled omelet on a platter and slice to serve. Garnish with toppings as desired.

6 servings

1 serving:  319 calories       14 g protein    27 g fat     3 g net carbs

I first featured this recipe in the Low Carbing Among Friends Volume I. It is one of those family favorites that never gets old. I sometimes make one for our smaller family and save some slices for weekday breakfasts.

On days when I am not needing extra servings, I scaled down the recipe for just 4 servings. Then you can use an oblong casserole dish instead of a cookie sheet. To drop it down to 4 servings, use 6 eggs, 3 tsp coconut flour, and cut the cream and water to a combined 3/4 cup. I just added both to the measuring cup to save effort. 

One more tip--I like to roll the omelet, then let it sit with the parchment paper still wrapping the outer surface for about 5 minutes to cool. That sets the shape so it holds together beautifully when sliced. This is great with some fresh berries and Jennifer Eloff's Cheese Biscuits. That recipe is on page 70 of the Low Carbing Among Friends Vol. I. If you don't own this cookbook series, you really need to order them. My copy is ragged I have used it so much. To order:

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