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

Companion blog to the e-book
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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Skinny Chicken Cheesy "Rice" Casserole for a New Year

Happy New Year!  Well, almost. As I get prepared for tonight's New Year's Eve party with old friends, I am busy getting the last issue of the Diner News for the year of 2015 sent out to you. This month, we will sharpen our planning skills and improve our efficiency. I have more "Triple Play" recipes for you. For those of you with either of my e-books, you know that involves meal planning that involves cooking once and eating three times. But not just leftovers, no. Too many picky family members balk at the exact same dish being repeated. Our recipes use a quality entree changed up to be totally different taste profiles. Easy with the addition of a few simple ingredients.

In fact, the recipes I am featuring this month may make even more than two additional meals. When you bake up a large pork loin, warehouse package of ground beef or bulk package of chicken breasts, you can feed many mouths, many times. That reminds me of the time I took Mandarin language classes. The Chinese symbol for family members (people) was the sign of a mouth--as in mouths to feed. It has always made sense to me. I loved feeding my little mouths. That doesn't mean I want to be a slave in the kitchen all the time. Life is too full for that. Planned leftovers just makes sense.

The recipe I am sharing today is for a delicious casserole made from pre-cooked shredded chicken. It is comfort food at its best, yet it is a skinny version. All in line with the lighter foods I always prefer after our holiday indulgences. I make far too many sweets for the holidays. And cheeses. I always find myself buying specialty cheeses for celebrations, and I eat it all!

This casserole is lighter on the cheese, but still tastes very creamy. I used glucomannan to help with that. It makes a nice gooey cheese sauce. Instead of rice, I used Miracle Rice. Normally, I am not a huge fan of konjac / shirataki noodles. The texture is not always the best. But I really like the rice substitutes. The elastic texture is not as much of a problem as it is with the longer noodles. Admittedly, I am probably swallowing them whole, but still, I like them. I ordered them on sale a while back from Vitacost. Not just like rice, more like a pasta texture to me. Good either way in this casserole. They are filling with a huge lower calorie and carb advantage.

Skinny Cheesy Chicken and "Rice" Casserole

12 oz shredded cooked chicken breast
2 tbsp  diced onion
2 ribs celery, diced
6 baby carrots, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
7.5 oz package Miracle Rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1 oz cream cheese
5 tbsp Parmesan (divided use)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp glucomannan

 Place chicken in the base of a 2 quart casserole dish. In a non-stick skillet, sauté onion, celery and baby carrots in olive oil. Drain and rinse Miracle Rice, then stir into the vegetable mixture. Prepare sauce.  In a saucepan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Grate cheese into broth. Stir in cream cheese, 2 tbsp of the Parmesan, garlic and onion powder. Remove from heat. Sprinkle glucomannan over the top of the sauce. Use an immersion blender to process mixture into a smooth, thick sauce. (alternately, you may use a traditional blender) Pour the sauce into the rice mixture and stir well. Spoon over the chicken in the baking dish. Top with the remaining 3 tbsp Parmesan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Serves 4:  229 calories   5 net g carb

 Did you see that calorie count? It tastes much richer than that! Add a big crisp salad and you have a wonderful meal. Since the chicken is pre-cooked, and the rice noodles don't need to be cooked, this goes together in no time. Great for busy days when you just don't feel like cooking.  You can even skip the baking step if you are in a rush.

All the recipes in this month's Diner News will save you precious time. You will still love the variety and taste, though. Here is a sneak peak at what is inside the January issue. The newsletter format has undergone a face lift for the new year too. It is a time for fresh starts.

Pork Sauterne

Chinese Red Barbecue Pork

Chinese Noodle Soup

Quick Cheeseburger Pie

Beefy Mushroom Soup

Lonely Cowboy Comfort

Stuffed Peppers

Thai Chicken Pizza

Salsa Chicken Zucchini Boats

Twister Cake with Coconut Cream Topping

The Diner News will go out this evening. If you want to order a year's worth of low carb recipes, be sure to visit the 24/7 Low Carb Diner Blog. Just 6 bucks a year. The 2015 collection will be bundled soon and up for sale too.  Happy New Year!

Get more great recipes at the Low Carbing Among Friends Facebook Page:     

 Order any of our great cookbooks at

Order my original e-book or the latest version for couples and singles,  A Table for Two here.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Jalapeno Popper Quiche Cups

These are a lunchbox favorite that I featured in the September issue of the Diner News. These would also be awesome for your New Year's Eve party, so I thought I should share the recipe now. Lots of folks love the popular jalapeno popper dip, but making or finding low carb crackers can be problematic. You could stuff a full jalapeno, but that is too hot for some. I love these little quiche cups. Not too hot like the full stuffed pepper would be, but delicious!

You can make them in regular muffin cups, or go mini. Even better for nibblers. Are you planning any special food for New Year's Eve? We are having friends over, so I am looking for some favorites for our table. Here's to the new year!

Jalapeno Popper Quiche Cups
6 strips bacon
4 oz Neufchatel cheese
8 eggs
1/4 cup cashew milk
4 fresh jalapeno peppers
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 tsp salt

Bake or fry bacon. Let cool. Break into pieces and line the base of 12 muffin cups. Warm cream cheese and spoon over the bacon in each cup.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Stir in cashew milk. Seed and dice 3 peppers and cut one into rings. Add the diced peppers to the egg mixture. Stir in shredded cheese and salt. Pour this mixture into 12 muffin cups. Top each with jalapeno slices. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Serves 12. each cup  102 calories    1 g carb

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I love Red Velvet at Christmas. I love cheesecake any old time.  This is our special dessert for Christmas Eve this year. My mom gave me a gorgeous red glass cakestand for my birthday, and needed a showstopper to show it off. I have a thing for red glass. I have a thing for things on pedestals too, so this is a huge winner of a gift for me.

We are busy getting the food and the house ready for our holiday. My oldest is with us this year, so I want it to be as nice as possible. Next year he will travel to his wife's family and I will be a little sad. I miss the holidays with little ones. All the excitement! Big ones are nice too though. We will attend Christmas Eve service today, and it is always great to see how my big boys love and serve God. You certainly don't have to share my faith to share my way of eating, but this blog is also about my life. No way to separate the two. My love languages are quality time and gifts of service. A beautiful holiday fits right in.

Now, how about this cheesecake? Still got some LorAnn Red Velvet Bakery Emulsion? That is the secret ingredient here. This one just emptied my bottle, but now I see it all over the place. Walmart and Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Marshalls.

Red Velvet Cheesecake

4 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup almond meal (ground with skins)
Red Layer:
32 oz cream cheese (4 blocks)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
6 eggs
2 tbsp LorAnn Red Velvet Emulsion
1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup erythritol/stevia blend equal to sugar
White Layer: 
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup erythritol/stevia blend equal to sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
sugarfree chocolate sauce for topping (optional)

Melt butter in a medium bowl. Use a little butter to coat the sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Combine the remaining butter with the almond meal. Press into the base of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese. Add cocoa powder and one egg. Beat until smooth. Add another egg, the Red Velvet emulsion and the vinegar. Beat until just incorporated. Add the rest of the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add erythritol blend and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into the springform pan. Smooth the top and tap the base to remove air bubbles. Place in a water bath and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 and bake one hour. The middle should be a little jiggly. While the red layer is baking, make the white layer. In a medium bowl, combine sour cream, 1/4 cup erythritol blend and vanilla. Spread over red layer. Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes. Turn oven off and open door slightly. Allow cheesecake to remain in the oven another 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and allow the cheesecake to cool to room temperature. Chill for 4 hours or overnight. Drizzle with sugarfree chocolate sauce and serve.

Serves 16:  301 calories   6 net g carb

Don't like chocolate sauce? Just leave it off. Still pretty.

I haven't cut this yet, so I may add some photos later that show a cut slice. But this is our showpiece for this year.  Hope you all have a blessed Christmas.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Christmas Favorites

My last holiday party is behind me, and it is time to get serious in the kitchen. I, like Santa, am making lists and checking them twice. Mine are more like grocery lists, plans for prepping some dishes in advance and menus for the several days of guests. Whew! In case you haven't completed your plans, here are a few of my favorites.

We start out Christmas Eve with some appetizers. The old fashioned biscuit mix and sausage balls are a huge favorite of my oldest boy. This is a new twist I came up with this year, that adds an Italian zing to the tradition. Great with a marinara as a dipping sauce. This is a low carb version of course. It was featured in the December Diner News.

Italian Sausage Balls

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup whey protein powder
1/4 cup oat fiber
1/4 cup dried Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp glucomannan
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 lb ground Italian Pork Sausage
1/2 cup fresh shredded Parmesan / Romano/Asiago blend cheese
2 tbsp crushed tomatoes or marinara

In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients. Using your hands, incorporate the dry ingredients with the sausage, cheese and tomato sauce.

Form into 32 walnut sized balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Serve with additional marinara for dipping.

Serves 8:  175 calories   4 net carbs
Per ball:   44 calories  1 net g carb
(without dipping sauce)

Want some other ideas for appetizers? I am making these again too. I love them, personally, especially when there are too many sweet things to eat. 

I will also be stuffing some of my amazing Salchicha Skillet mixture into mini bell peppers and baking them. This stuff is so delicious. My middle son is a huge fan! We are having those as part of our brunch on Christmas morning too.

Salchicha Skillet
Laughing Cow Cheese wedges make fun and easy appetizers. Make Christmas trees out of wedges rolled in herbs atop a food skewer. This idea was from Christmas 13.  Or use some slivered almonds and pepper to make a little mouse. How cute is this? The tail is a string of celery.

I have so many appetizer options. You really should check the blog and The Diner News back issues.

For dinner, we are having stuffed breast of chicken--spinach and feta. I cheat and buy mine from Sprouts. Easier on the cook. That way I have more time for the rest of the meal. Maybe some last minute shopping too. For side dishes this year, I am making another of the sides I featured in the November issue of the Diner News. I will be using a butternut squash to make this dream of a dish. Roasted Delicata Butternut with Cranberries.

My middle son loves carrots, so I will also make another dish from that edition, but change out the squash with carrots.  That one is Whiskey Glazed Squash. Diner News Nov. '15.

We will also have a big spring mix salad (at least we have something green) with some roasted nuts. My Omnivores have requested garlic potatoes for the special occasion and some rolls for the gluten eaters.

For dessert, I am planning on a Red Velvet Cheesecake. If all works out well, I will have photos of that soon after I make it. Cheesecake is a family favorite, and it seems I always like to try new ones. Great that this low carb dessert is so versatile. Like a blank canvas for an artist.

Just in case that doesn't work out, here are some other Diner favorites you might love. All would be wonderful for Christmas. Pavolva with Raspberries and Marshmallow Cream, New Year's Cheesecake,  Roasted Balsamic Strawberries with Coconut Poundcake, Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Pavlova with Raspberries and Marshmallow Cream
New Year's Cheesecake
Roasted Balsamic Strawberries with Coconut Pound Cake

After our traditional festivities and gifts, we will have a hot cocoa bar. I had one of these last year. I add all sorts of flavorings, home made chocolate chips, crushed peppermints, whipped cream, caramel sauce, etc. It is fun to experiment with things to dress up the flavorings. 

For those who aren't into chocolate, we just may have some of this year's favorite new drink. My tea that tastes like traditional Wassail. This recipe was in the December issue of the Diner News too. My sweet daughter-in-law helped me taste test the recipe until we got it just right. The Celestial Seasonings teas are superb and very flavorful. You will not really  miss the juice at all. The photo is hers from our Thanksgiving together. I wish I had her around to take all my photos! We had a wonderful time in the kitchen together. Hers is so much bigger than mine, and we both love to experiment with food.

Celestial  Wassail

12 bags Celestial Seasonings Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea
8 bags Celestial Seasonings  Mandarin Orange Spice Tea
1 gallon water
1 cup erythritol /stevia based sweetener
Stevia to taste

Boil 2 quarts of the water. Steep tea bags for 10 minutes. Remove and squeeze bags. Discard. Add remaining water and granulated sweetener. Simmer until hot. Adjust sweetness with stevia.
Trace cal. / carb

Blessings to you and yours this joyous holiday.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

Party season is in full swing! We had parties or programs every night this past week. I just got home from one. I brought these Chocolate Peppermint Truffles for the diabetics in my church group. Yum. I had a little trouble crunching the sugarfree peppermints, so they aren't quite as pretty as I had hoped. They taste really good though! I love mint and chocolate in combination. If you don't like peppermint, you can substitute another flavor and roll them in nuts. The basic truffle recipe will remain the same. It is a quick, cream cheese based truffle. Foolproof! Sub any sweetener you like.

Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

1 oz unsweetened chocolate
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered erythritol / stevia blend sweetener (equal to sugar)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
powdered stevia equal to 7 teaspoons
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
3 oz sugarfree peppermints

In a medium glass or ceramic bowl, melt chocolate. (I use the microwave, but you may choose the oven.) Add softened cream cheese. Use a hand mixer to blend well. Stir in sweetener, cocoa powder, stevia and peppermint extract. Chill for one hour. Place unwrapped peppermint candies in a freezer bag. Crush with a rolling pin or mallet. Pour crushed candy into a small bowl. Use a small scoop to form chocolate mixture into balls. Drop into crushed candy and roll into neat balls. Place in a mini cupcake liner for decoration.

Makes 24 truffles. 45 calories  <1 g carb

I tried crushing my candy in my bullet blender, but it really turned it into powder. That was a little handy for rolling, but not so pretty. To duplicate my results, whir some in a blender, and crush some by hand. Too many bigger pieces make the truffles hard to eat, but they are prettier.

How are you doing this holiday season? Staying away from the bad stuff, or relaxing a bit for the holidays?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Cranberry Glazed Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a favorite. But unlike the joke in the play (movie) A Christmas Story, it doesn't have to be the same boring recipe each time. So when someone asks whats's for dinner, try this version. Very pretty and fun for the holidays with a sweet barbecue sauce made from cranberries. Yum. I love that movie. My oldest acted in the play as Flick when he was younger, so the story is near and dear to my heart. I never can make meatloaf without thinking about it! No one here replays the piggy eating scene, though. My boy just got to have his tongue stuck on the frozen light pole.

Meatloaf Base:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground turkey
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut flour
1 egg
1 tsp powdered sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

In a large bowl, combine ground beef and turkey. When blended, add diced celery and onions, chia seed, coconut flour, egg, sage, salt and pepper. Press into a loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes uncovered at 350 degrees.  Top with 1 cup Cranberry Barbecue Sauce and bake an additional 30 minutes, Let rest 15 minutes prior to slicing.

Serves 8:  228 calories  5 net g carb

Cranberry Barbecue Sauce:

12 oz cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 diced onion
1/3 cup granulated erythritol/stevia blend
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp wine vinegar
2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano

Combine berries, water and stock in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil until berries pop. Stir in all remaining ingredients and simmer to the desired thickness.  Add additional sweetener if desired.
Serve with meatballs, chunks of sausages, basted on baked chicken, topping a meatloaf or spread on  leftover slices of turkey or ham.

16 servings: 24 calories 4 net g carb

My daughter-in-law tasted this cranberry sauce and really liked it. I used half on the meatloaf and half as a glaze for meatballs. Both are tasty. It can also be poured over some cream cheese and served as a dip.  Put it in a jar and give it as a hostess gift. Be sure to grab some bags of fresh cranberries while they are plentiful now. They freeze so well, you can enjoy them for months!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Getting Ready for the Holidays--Mini Strawberry Cheesecake "Martinis"

Whew am I tired! Thanksgiving was great. I got to spend it with my oldest son and daughter-in-law. We shared the cooking. It was weird to be in a big kitchen. Mine is so desperately tiny. Having two or more in one culinary space was awesome.  We had a wonderful meal and time together.

Then it was my birthday yesterday. I had a gourmet burger...Thai style. I may try duplicating that one here at home. But not tonight. Being the end of the month, I had to get the Diner News out. I was still creating this evening, but it got mailed out in time. We have had such dreary weather for more than a week. No sun. Terrible time taking photos. Add to that that it is almost dark by the time I get home from school, and getting this issue out has been a real challenge. I submit tonight's dessert anyway. Despite the dark, it was so good. You will just have to forgive me for the photo quality and judge on taste instead.

One page of the Diner News for December is devoted to mini desserts. That way, guests can have variety of tastes to choose from. These are perfect for Christmas parties, and guests love them. If you are frugal like me, you will be collecting all the plastic shooters and fancy cups to wash and use again. But if one gets lost in the trash, no huge problem, after all, they are inexpensive. I am creating some links to. I am featuring dessert shooters in the Amazon Store. (See right) If you would like to make these, please consider purchasing your cups through my store. Every little bit helps since my husband is out of work. They are under serveware.

Tonight my middle son came over for our regular Monday night dinner. I served these Mini Cheesecake Martinis. He ate two and licked them clean. Last week, he sampled the Honey Roasted Peanut Shooters. Thumbs up on both. He is so skinny now, I find myself trying to feed him more! One small one is good for me, though! We meant to decorate the Christmas tree, but ran out of time. That's life around here. So much to do...

If you like cheesecake, you will like these. Super easy. Of course, you don't have to settle for just the tiny portions of a mini dessert. Go ahead and make the recipe for 4 rather than 8 if you like. That should be right for a standard martini glass, I think. Not sure, I don't know that I have ever had a true martini. Around here, no one has a huge sweet tooth either. In fact, after eating his two desserts, Pearson went in and got another helping of the Southwestern Beef I had served for dinner. Funny how we can not end on sweet. I noticed his big brother doing that at Thanksgiving too. Dessert lover or not, you will like this.

Strawberry Cheesecake Martinis
8 oz Neufchatel cheese
8 oz sour cream
1/4 cup cashew milk, unsweetened
3/4 cup erythritol /stevia blend
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
3 tbsp erythritol /stevia blend
2 tbsp water

In a medium mixing bowl, combine Neufchatel, sour cream,  and cashew milk. Beat with hand mixer until smooth. Stir in sweetener and vanilla. Transfer to martini glasses.

In a medium saucepan, combine strawberries, sweetener and water. Cook on low heat until berries are tender. Mash them with a fork. Distribute berry sauce over the cheesecake mixture.

Serves 8:  141 calories  5 net g carb

Isn't that a pretty cake plate? It was a birthday gift from my sweet mom. She knows I have a thing for red glass, and anything with a pedestal. I have to limit my collection of cake plates, but got this one anyway. I can't wait to see it in good light! If you are going high fat, feel free to use cream cheese and whipping cream in place of the cashew milk.

The Diner News is out. I am tired, but I wanted to give you a peek into what you are getting this month. Good things await for a splendid holiday season.
Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake

Honey Roasted Peanut Shooters

Celestial Wassail

Red Velvet Cakes

Gingerbread Spice Crockpot Punch

Italian Sausage Balls

Red Velvet Cake Shooters

German Chocolate Fudge

Red Velvet Meringues

Heaven's Cloud Eggnog

Roasted Asparagus with Ham

Cranberry Ginger Ale

Maple Peanut Butter Fudge

Snickers Dessert Shots
Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
That is not even all that I have crammed into this holiday issue. Don't you think you should order the Diner News?

And don't forget to check out what is going on over on the Among Friends pages.


Order our book series! Here. We have a sale going on now. Be sure to own every volume before the holiday season is over!