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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Incredible Egg Enchiladas

Remember that old advertisement-- the incredible edible egg? I can still sing that little jingle, can you? Well, you must take my word for it. This dish is incredible. Not because it is eggs, but because it tastes so much like cheese enchiladas.

When my family goes out, I get jealous of the enchilada plates they get to order. Sure I love fajitas, but I have always had a thing for enchiladas. All kinds. Love. This morning I awoke thinking of ideas for what to do with the rest of this really tasty enchilada sauce I made for the July Diner News. I have already used it in a fusion sweet pork recipe, and I had some leftover. The pork is really good. This, however is amazing. I honestly can't believe how the egg mimics the texture of a sauce baked corn tortilla.

Notice in the photo that it even looks like cheese stuffed inside a tortilla. See that slight separation at the base? That is possible due to the way I cooked these eggs. Not a simple scramble, but not difficult at all. One egg at a time. Cook in a hot skillet and roll up jelly roll style. Crazy but it works.

Incredible Egg Enchiladas

4 eggs
1 tbsp refined coconut oil
1/4 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup enchilada sauce

Beat one egg in a small bowl. Heat a skillet with oil. Sprinkle pepper over the surface of the skillet. Gently pour the egg into the skillet. Using a spatula, move the uncooked liquidy egg to the edges of the cooked egg to form a roughly rectangular shape. Place about 2 tbsp cheese over the surface of the egg. Using a spatula, lift one edge of the egg and fold it over approximately 1/2 inch. Fold that fold over and continue rolling jelly roll fashion. Remove the rolled egg and place it in an 8 inch square casserole dish.  Complete the process with the remaining three eggs.

Spoon the enchilada sauce along the edges of the rolled eggs. Be sure to spoon sauce along the outside edges of the casserole dish as well. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

Garnish with sour cream or sliced avocado.

Serves 2:   297 calories   9 g carbs (with commercial enchilada sauce, 7.2 with my home made recipe in July's Diner News)

Be sure to watch the carb count in your enchilada sauce. When I buy it, I use El Pato brand. My home made sauce is better, though. Want that Diner News? It will be coming out on Tuesday, July 1st. You can order here.

The rolling of the eggs may be a little tough at first, but you will get it! I don't use non-stick coatings often, but that would make things simple. If you want to use a standard skillet, then here is the way I do it. I get my cast iron smoking hot then turn it down just a bit. I add my oil and a sprinkle of pepper or salt to give us a break on the surface. This makes it harder for the eggs to stick. The heat will do it too. With a seasoned skillet and this trick, your eggs don't stick at all. This is important since you will be rolling that ultra thin layer of egg. If the egg tears, don't fret.  Just slap it back into place and keep rolling. It won't matter when it is covered with sauce and cheese.

The flavor here is all in the sauce and cheese. Honestly, I can't tell you how much this does not taste like eggs.  Texture and flavor is all Mexican. I made this for an easy weekend brunch, but it would be perfect for dinner. Just add a salad. For a bigger family, double or triple the recipe in a bigger pan. Feel free to up the cheese, or change it out for your favorite. The method would work with a green enchilada sauce too.

Thanks to all of you who ordered the Diner News and Bundles in my push to get the rent paid at school. We made it! I was really encouraged that there are many wonderful people out there who care about me and the teens they have never met. My prayer is that you are rewarded a hundred fold!

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sausage and Chunky Veggie Red Sauce

I am working hard on the special "Saucy" issue of the Diner News that is coming out July 1. This is one of those slow cooker meals that you think just wouldn't work. Too many steps skipped. Like finely chopping vegetables. Like thawing the meat.

Thawing the meat? I hear you gasping! Yep. As a busy mom, I tried it once. No thaw. Just pop that roll of ground meat right in the slow cooker. Golly gee. It works. In this case it is a pound of pork sausage. Even the grease is not a problem if you are getting quality meat. Into the pot it goes, solid as a rock. There are times when you just don't have time to brown the meat first. In this case, since this is a sauce, it does not matter. Truly a miracle for the non morning person like me.

I also hate chopping veggies. I have never owned a really good set of knives. Somehow I still have all my fingers and we managed to eat. But then, I was also very creative at getting vegetables into my little boys long before all those popular cookbooks came out. Sorry, but there really are very few new ideas around. One thing I did was sneak zucchini and carrots into this spaghetti sauce. The guys never fussed. As they got older, the chunks got bigger. Since the flavor was the same, they were fine with it.

This sauce is really packed with veggies, so the carb count is a little higher than some. But like George says, not all carbs are the same, right? These are all the good for you kind. If you are one of the brave, serve this wonderful sauce over shirataki noodles instead of zucchini noodles and that will save some carbs. This is one of the ways I don't mind them at all.  If not, it depends on how many carbs you eat per meal and how big a serving you like.

You can play around with the veggies if you like. I have been known to hide yellow squash, spinach, and kale in here too. (I do finely cut the greens though, as they don't chop as well after cooking and no one wants big bunches of green slime clinging to the fork.) This is my basic method though. At the end of the cooking, just grab a potato masher or your handy dandy Pampered Chef "Mix n Chop" gadget. It is great at chopping up the sausage yet still leaving you perfect bites of zucchini and mushrooms. One of my Diner friends is a Pampered Chef consultant, so if you would like to order one, I can hook you up!

Sausage and Chunky Veggie Red Sauce 

1 lb bulk sausage
4 cups tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 large zucchini
4 oz  mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced bell pepper
1/4 diced onion
3 tbsp cooking sherry
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 packets stevia
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

Place a roll of frozen sausage in the crockpot. Roughly dice the zucchini, mushrooms, bell  pepper and onion. Add the vegetables to the  pot. Pour the tomato sauce and water over all. Add spices and stevia. Cook on low for 8 hours. Use a  Mix n Chop or potato masher to blend the meat into the sauce. ( If you don’t want chunks, use a stick blender to puree the sauce.) Serve over your favorite pasta substitute.

Serves 8:  208 calories  12 net carbs (3 fiber)

I love the "bite" of the crushed red pepper in this. I love the mushrooms too. I use baby bellas. This makes a pretty large pot of sauce, so you may be freezing some for future meals. It can be served different ways also. Think about topping scrambled eggs with the sauce, or adding broth and making it a soup. It would be excellent spooned over low carb focaccia bread. (June Diner News has a great one) You could even just spoon it over a generous serving of ricotta cheese.

So there you have it. If you don't subscribe to the Diner News, it is not too late to get the June picnic issue, or you can wait til the first and get my favorite sauces. When you think about it, sauces are the good cook's way at making really special meals out of common meats. They make for a great Triple Play meal plan. Cook some chicken or burgers once and use sauces to make two totally different meals later in the week. Imagine your chicken with Mesquite Barbecue one night, Honey Mustard another, and finally a little cheese and Enchilada Sauce? So smart.

Just one more plea if you are still reading. As many of you know, I am facing some challenges at our alternative school lately. Progress is being made, and I am more than determined to keep the doors open. We were not able to have a full summer session, so it is up to me to find the rent money. With my payment due on the first, I am still a little short. The Paypal funds I get from my book sales will be about 3/4's of my rent this month. This would be a wonderful time to order the News or any back issue bundles. I promise every penny is going to the school. I am hoping to have my Diner system for smaller families done this week, so be watching for that.

I want to share a couple of photos from last week's summer camp so you can see the faces of the kids you would be helping. And a huge thanks for the sweet notes of support and contributions. You guys rock!

The Diner News:

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mesquite Barbecue Sauce

Don't you hate it when a favorite product goes away? That slow realization that the store isn't just out temporarily, but that it is gone forever? So goes--or went shall I say--My old favorite barbecue sauce. Back in the early days of the Diner, there was this Amazing LC Masterpiece sauce that was low carb. I knew of one grocer in the area that carried it longer than anyone else, and I am sure I bought the last of their inventory. It lasted a while, but it never returned. So sad. I am a little scared that I found the Heinz Reduced Sugar ketchup at the Dollar Tree a few weeks ago. Is it kissing us goodbye also? I know we can always make our own, but there are only so many hours in a day.

I recently had a Diner ask about my go to barbecue sauce recipe. More often than not, I just throw together my simple Hickory Sauce. That is in Low Carbing Among Friends Volume 1. It is not complicated or sophisticated flavorwise, but super fast.

This one is a bit more trouble. It has a depth of  flavor that is fantastic. It is thick and sweet even though it simmers only half an hour.  I swear by Wright's Liquid Smoke. They have several flavors and they are all amazing. This tastes like things were smoked over a mesquite wood fire for hours. But I didn't do that. I don't play with fire.

 This sauce is good on all sorts of things. The burgers we had today were excellent. Especially with  sliced onion and those sugar free bread and butter pickles featured in June's Diner News Picnic issue. Chicken? Definitely. Top off a meatloaf. Excellent. BBQ pulled pork. Yes. Do whatever you like to do with barbecue sauce.

Mesquite Barbecue Sauce

2 tbsp finely minced onion
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
16 oz tomato sauce
1 cup water or chicken broth
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup erythritol or sweetener equal to 1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp Wright's Mesquite Liquid Smoke
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp coconut flour (optional for a thicker sauce)

Mince onion. In a medium pan, saute the onion in the olive oil for 3-5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, water or broth, vinegar, erythritol, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, liquid smoke, onion powder, salt, pepper and coconut flour. Stir until all ingredients are well combined. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool and transfer to a clean jar. Makes about 1 pint of sauce.

16 servings of 2 tbsp:  22 calories     2 net g carbs (1 g fiber)

You can use any brand of liquid smoke you like, but this is the best! No promises with anything else. You may leave out the coconut flour. I added it in to make a nice thick sauce for our burgers. Your choice.

Today I am making a big batch of tomato based sauces. That just happens to be the theme for the July Diner News--Sauces of all kinds. It makes sense to take a little time to make some of these condiments. I had the hubby buy a giant can of tomato sauce at the warehouse club for under $3. I am going to get this barbecue sauce, some enchilada sauce, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, cocktail sauce and a batch of chili for the freezer out of one big can. Yes I am that smart. And yes, I use a chalk marker to write on my jars. Not permanent and easy to read.

One thing to note. Since we do not load our home made sauces and condiments with preservatives, you may wish to take measures to keep the whole batch good past the week or so refrigerator shelf life. With thicker sauces, it is simple enough to fill a few snack size sandwich bags with some sauce. Freeze them flat. Then they can stack easily. Just keep those bags inside a bigger freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Make sure to label because every red sauce will look the same! Using thin layers of sauce, the bags will thaw under warm running water, so you can always have a couple servings of barbecue sauce available without worrying if it has gone bad. You can even cut off the end of the bag and squirt like those little packages.

Now if you want the super simple Hickory Sauce, go buy the Low Carbing Among Friends Volume 1.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole for 2...or 6. You Choose.

In the family style version, this casserole was formerly and affectionately known as "Hen in a Tree." That is because my boys once called broccoli "little trees." I do miss those days of having lots of little men running around the house. But seasons change and so did this recipe. A new name and albeit much more boring name--but the same homey, comforting taste. Chicken, cream cheese and some trees broccoli.

This is one of the old recipes I am reworking for my upcoming project of the Diner system for Two. I have invested in a few new smaller casserole dishes. This recipe will still feed 4-6, so it is still family friendly. The thing is, when you are just a couple or a single, you can prep it all in individual casserole dishes that will go in to the freezer for another day. Almost no work and a nice warm homecooked meal awaits. The Diner system is great for small families too. I know this would be excellent for my mom who tends to skip dinner and just eat cereal. She says it is too much trouble to cook just for herself. I really don't know how it is that I have not convinced her of the genius of stocking the freezer.

So here is the updated and scaled down version of an old Multiply Meals favorite. Now perfect for one family meal or several dinners for couples. Because it freezes well--either before or after baking, you don't have to eat it for every meal for the next few days. It will wait happily until it finds a way to your menu again, or until you just crave it too badly.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Pure comfort food! This casserole will feel like home. Serve with a green salad on the side.

1 1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts
1 tsp seasoning salt
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp mustard powder
1 lb broccoli
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (divided)

Coat chicken pieces with seasoning salt. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. While chicken is baking, steam the broccoli until just tender crisp. Drain well.

In a medium sauce pan, stir together the chicken broth and cream. Add chunks of cream cheese, whisking until blended. Stir in mustard and set aside.

When the chicken done, chop it into bite sized chunks. Combine the chicken, cheese sauce, broccoli, and a half cup of the shredded cheddar. Pour into casserole dish(es). Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. (To make a Multiply Meal, freeze 4-5 portions either before or after baking.

Serves 6:   394 calories   5 net carbs

I like to gently stir this casserole before serving, to break up the cheese a bit. Again, I like to bake this in individual casseroles to stock the freezer. Couple might want to bake in three small casseroles. Families who want to eat it all at once will do fine with an 8 inch square dish. So delish. Having a big week with summer camp this week and I am tired. Next week will be more time to blog. Until then...

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Strawberry Cheesecake Muffins

This idea has been around since our early days low carbing. I have no idea where the original idea came from--it is probably as old as the original Atkins diet. These are not really muffins, but more like little cheesecakes you can hold in your hand. But then, cheesecake is really not much like a cake, so I the name stands. They are baked in a muffin tin, afterall. These are great for breakfast or dessert.

What is new today is that I added fresh strawberries to the batter. It has been a while since I made them and I am so glad I did. I had about forgotten how delicious they are. The strawberry, just half a berry per muffin, really did wonderful things to the flavor! The original recipe is in the Diner e-book. I am busily at work making an updated version of my Diner System that is streamlined to fit our new empty nest lifestyle. The new e-book will be ready very soon. I have been so busy at that, I haven't had much time to keep up with the blog and Facebook. Hang in with me though, and I will have the new book out soon. This recipe is going in there along with the chocolate and peanut butter versions.

Now back to the muffins. I found that the strawberries did add some moisture to the muffins, so I needed to increase the bake time a little bit. These muffins do rise high in the oven and  they look amazing. Truth told, they will deflate as they cool. In fact, the strawberry ones even sink a bit. But what they lack in stature, they make up for with flavor! The girls in my family tend not to be too tall anyway, so we find beauty in shortness. These are that kind of yummy. If you want, just bake them in a silicone muffin cup and keep them in the cup. That way you can eat them with a spoon. If you want them to hold in hand, just be sure to let them cool before you remove them from the muffin cup. I used silicon and have no trouble removing them when cool.

Strawberry Cheesecake Muffins

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Swerve or any sweetener equal to 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 strawberries

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sweetener, egg and vanilla. Use a mixer or beat by hand until no lumps remain. Finely dice two strawberries and slice the third into 6 slices. Gently stir the diced berries into the batter. Pour batter into an oiled muffin tin or silicon cup. Top each with a slice of strawberry. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool completely before removing. Serve chilled.

6 muffins:   each 149 calories     3 g carbs

This time I didn't use Swerve, but Natural Mate Sucralose and Stevia blend. I don't use sucralose too often anymore, and these tasted quite sweet to me. Since this is such an old recipe for me, I have to wonder why that is. It could be that sucralose tastes sweeter to me now that I use more erythritol and stevia. It could be that this is simply a very good sweetener. You only need half as  much as a cup by cup replacement, and I am sure I did not mistake that conversion. Don't get me wrong, they are wonderful! If you are sensitive to sweet, you may prefer to go with 1/3 cup sweetener. Perhaps it is the berries that sweeten things up too.

I have summer day camp next week, so I am sure it will be a busy week. I had best get to my prep day in the kitchen. Here with it being Father's Day, we were treated to a meal at Logan's Steakhouse. That was great, but now I need to get busy. Happy Father's Day to you all.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chayote Cinnamon "Apple" Sauce and the 2013 Diner News Bundle

     I guess I am finished buying those little lunch box applesauce packages now that I have an empty nest. Still seems weird. I don't eat applesauce, though I do like it. Last fall, I made this tasty treat that tastes a lot like the sweet cinnamon laced sauce my boys always liked. The trick is to use the awkwardly ugly but lovable Chayote squash in place of apples. It has so little flavor--it really takes on the sweetener and the cinnamon.

This is one of those recipes featured in a 2013 Diner News--last October's issue on all things squash to be precise. I always include recipes there that are not featured on this blog or in the LCAF cookbooks. THAT is why you should subscribe. We have been running a little behind, and just recently got the 2013 issues bundled for sale on our website. You should go order that if you don't have the 2013 issues. The 2013 issues feature:

January - Deli Favorites
February - Spices Make the Meal
March - Triple Play Meals (3 meals from one protein)
April - Slow Cooking
May - Muffin Cup Meals and Treats
June - Great Grill Prep
July - Blender Fun
August - Summer Salad Time
September - The Lunch Crunch
October-- Harvest Squash
November - Thanksgiving 
December - Holiday Favorites

Order the 2013 Bundle for just $6 at
Remember, this is one way I am able to keep the doors open to the school I run. My proceeds are going directly to summer rent. Each Diner News averages 8 pages of recipes and tips to make the low carb life a great one. This is really a deal.

Chayote Cinnamon Applesauce

2 chayote squash
1 quart water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp EZ Sweetz Stevia with Monkfruit or sweetener equal to 1/4 cup sugar

Dice unpeeled squash. Cover with water in a medium saucepan and simmer 45 minutes until very tender. Let cool. Drain squash and place into a blender. Add cinnamon and sweetener. Puree or mash for a chunkier version. Great as a lunch box snack or even as a topping for pancakes and waffles.

Serves 4:   19 calories  3 net carbs

Hint: If you don’t mind aspartame, a little sugarfree apple cider drink mix will create a stronger apple flavor, but this is good as is.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Layered Taco Salad with Crockpot Taco Beef and Other Big News!

It is summer, and I am busy on an exciting new project. I have a few weeks off from school. A few life changes too. With my empty nest unfolding, everything seems so different. In accordance, my traditional Diner system is undergoing some changes too. No boys to feed anymore. Prep days just don't have to be as involved. I am reorganizing my system to fit the needs of singles and couples rather than families.

As I am working things out, I am putting together a new Diner e-book on this smaller scale. Hopefully, I will get that formatted very soon and put it up for sale. I have needed another source of revenue to keep the rent paid for my school, and I am hoping this will do the trick. We are aiming to have it available for a download like the original book and Kindle as well. All that is keeping me busy! So much for summer break--but then, I have never been the type that is able to relax without a project of some sort.

So you don't forget me, I am adding a couple of recipes from the May issue of the Diner News. I love this shortcut of making Mexican Crockpot Beef. It is the easiest way to have this delicious taco meat filling for all sorts of meals. Tacos, casseroles, omelets and scrambles, quick chili and my absolute fav--Layered Taco Salad. This version makes individual salads in personal trifle bowls. You can make a bigger bowl if you have a bigger family. The Crockpot Taco Beef makes three pounds worth. For a big family, eat it all at once. For a smaller family, the planned leftovers are fabulous to freeze. I love having a package of this in the freezer. The meat is extra moist and tender too. You can add in half turkey too if you prefer.

Crockpot Taco Beef
3 lb ground beef
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano

Place beef in the base of a crockpot. Break it up with a spoon. Add water and cook on low for 5 hours. Drain fat and water from the meat. Stir in spices and return to the crock for another hour. (If you are in a hurry, you may skip the additional hour of cooking)
Serves 12: 303 cal  24 fat   .5 carb  20 protein

a simple Taco Salad or go for the layered version

Layered Individual Taco Salad

Layer in order:
Shredded lettuce mixed with fresh cilantro
Diced tomatoes
Shredded cheese
Sliced jalapeno
Sour cream
Crockpot Taco Beef …       plus garnishes
Also consider adding red onion ,  black olives and avocado chunks

 Carbs will vary with the mixture of veggies you choose. This recipe can be a party favorite if you make the layered salads in smaller solo plastic cups.

There you have it. A little bit from the Mexican themed May Diner News. Every issue has recipes and tips that I don't share here on the blog, so order if you want it all! More exciting news--the hubby is finally getting the 2013 Diner News Bundle ready to order! So if  you would like to get a full year of the Diner News at once, just order here. A year is just $6--current subscription or a bundle of years past. And as usual, all my profits go to keep my school running. Be watching for the news about the new e-book too. So much to do!

If you would like to order a year of the Diner News, just head on over to our website.  It is a new theme every month. June is dedicated to picnic foods and has some great ideas.

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chopped Salad in a Cup

Summertime is perfect for salads. This salad is perfect for picnics. The Diner News this month is featuring picnic foods, and this is one of the ideas featured. No recipe really, just any combination of chopped veggies that appeals to you. For our picnic, I made one for each person with their favorite ingredients. There are lots to choose from:

grape tomatoes
chopped broccoli
hard boiled eggs
snow peas
red and green bell peppers
cheese, crumbled or shredded
sunflower seeds
bacon bits
bean sprouts
jarred peppers
ham cubes

It is easy to put any number together at once, assembly line fashion. I pack the dressing separately. Chopped veggie salads hold up to the summer heat better than lettuce based salads. Vinaigrette dressings work really well too. Because they are thinner, the dressing is easier to get to the bottom of the cup

These Crystal Clear Dixie beverage cups make for gorgeous presentation. Plus, clean up is easy too. Stack them together or toss them out. The lid has an opening for a straw. Instead of that, I place a plastic fork there, and it is ready to serve. They can be washed and reused several times. Yes, that is how I get them. I recycle from my drinks at church. I don't pay a thing, but you can buy them at office supply stores.

 If  you want to stir, leave some space at the top. The calorie and carb count will vary with the veggies and dressing you choose, but it can all be easily fit into any plan.

Here are a few photos of other picnic foods you can find in this month's edition of the Diner News.

If you would like to order of year of the Diner News, visit this page:

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