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

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Skillet Brownie Dessert

I love desserts to share. We almost never order desserts when we dine out. Obviously, as low carbers, that would be a huge diet fail. But I do love the idea of one dessert with two spoons. Romantic with your special someone. Just as fun with a BFF. Mini skillet desserts have been popular for a while now, but I had never tried one. Until now.The upcoming May issue of the Diner News will feature skillet meals. Granted, most of them are quick and delicious main meals, but this one. So special. I had to borrow the little 6 inch skillet from my son and daughter-in-law. Now I am thinking I may need one too. John and I had a great time eating this delightful chocolate treat. We did not go overboard, and made it last two desserts. I have to tell ya, it was soooo much better warm from the oven. Still good cold, but warm, with the whipped cream melting in. Oh yeah. Hubster wanted ice cream. I told him I was not sure I loved him enough to make home made ice cream too. I do, of course, but I can't spoil him that much. It would raise the bar too high. And I do all that I do with the Diner system to not spend all my time in the kitchen. Cream is fine, my little sugarfree honeybun. 

If you don't have a cute little cast iron skillet, borrow one like I did. Or, just bake this up in a pan. It will still be good, I promise. But oh so adorable in a little skillet. This recipe will work in a 5 inch skillet, 6 inch or 6 1/2 inch. You could also use two 3 1/2 inch cuties. See my Amazon store to purchase them. I like the Lodge brand skillets.

Skillet Brownie

5 tbsp Master Baking Mix  #2 ( #1 will work as well)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp erythritol stevia blend equal to sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp refined coconut oil
1/4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp vanilla stevia
1 egg

In a medium bowl, combine baking mix, cocoa, sweetener, baking powder and salt. In a small microwavable bowl or saucepan, melt coconut oil and chocolate. Stir in vanilla and stevia. Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl. Add egg and stir to combine. Butter or oil a 6 inch cast iron skillet. Spoon batter into the skillet, smoothing the top. Bake 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Top with cream or whipped cream and a drizzle of sugarfree chocolate syrup. Grab two spoons and share with a friend.  4 servings is plenty also!

2 large servings:  (without garnishes)  283 calories   3 net g carb

I did not include the whipped cream or chocolate syrup in the nutrition stats. I used very little syrup, so not too much damage done. It would be great without it, but I thought it made the photo nicer. Be sure not to overbake. I did just a tad. My brain seems totally capable of ignoring the alarm on my stove. Somehow I never hear it go off. Underbaking just a tad with leave a gooey center that is what lots of folk adore. I like things well done generally. My friends make fun of me for that one. All good, just set two alarms from now on. I know I will make this one again.

My sweet daughter in law who loaned me this skillet is in the hospital tonight. Please send up some prayers for her. My son also, who is a very worried husband at this point. It is touching to see what a fine young man he is, and what a protector of his bride he has become. Kristen should be released tomorrow, but the medical mystery is not quite solved. We are praying wisdom for the doctors and peace for all. I will spend the next few days cooking up a storm to get the newsletter out. I would rather be a state away taking care of her. She is such an independent young lady; she doesn't want anyone fussing over her. So here I sit, praying over my kids just as I did when they were babies. Of course, chocolate helps too.

If you don't have my Master Baking Mix recipe, here is the #2 version, a little heartier and less expensive than #1.

Master Baking Mix #2

1 1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/4 cup oat fiber
3/4 cup almond flour
3/4 cup whey protein powder
1/2 cup flaxmeal
1/4 cup ground psyllium husk (be sure to grind this yourself, don't rely on the flaked as it comes in the can)
2 tbsp glucomannan
2 tbsp beef gelatin

Combine all ingredients in an air tight container.

18   - 1/4 cup servings  116 calories 2 net g carbs

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Chicken Bella

Bella means "beautiful" in Italian. This is so very pretty for a skillet dish! The colors of the spinach, the roasted red tomatoes and the creamy sauce are a feast for the eyes. But not just for the eyes, the flavors in this dish are perfect together.  I have always loved garlic and cream cheese, but the addition of Pancetta, with its salty goodness and the crazy sweetness of the roasted tomatoes--well this is just a beautiful combination. So fitting the name.

You could use sun dried tomatoes, but I promise these are so easy, just try roasting your own. Roasting makes them so sweet and flavorful. Really essential to the success of this dish. They are not pretty, alone, but they add a wonderful pop of color to the skillet. I even saved a few to spinkle on top for extra eye appeal.  Apart
from the roasting, the entire entree is make in one skillet.

This dish is amazing. More than good enough for non-low carbing guests. For them, you may want to serve it atop a small nest of noodles or over rice. We ate it plain, with a plain salad. Italian dressing is a good choice. The tartness contrasts with the creaminess of the sauce.

This is one of the recipes I will be featuring in the upcoming May edition of the Diner News. Skillet meals will be the theme, with lots of great new quick dinners for you. My skillets will be busy the next two weeks, so stay tuned! Each Diner News is packed with 8 pages of recipes and tips. Such a steal at just $6 a year. This April issue is all about "girly" foods for spring events. Salads, desserts and appetizers for showers, Spring Teas, parties and luncheons. Order here.

Chicken Bella

6 oz grape or cherry tomatoes
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breast)*
2 oz pancetta or diced bacon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese
4 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Slice tomatoes into halves. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and roast the tomatoes at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

While the tomatoes are roasting, heat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet. If using full breast of chicken, pound it  to an even thickness. Trim any fat from chicken. Slice if desired. Add chicken and pancetta to the pan. Brown until nearly cooked through. Add garlic and sauté another 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate. Pour chicken broth into the skillet, using a spatula to loosen any browned bits from the base. Over medium heat, stir in cream cheese until melted. When the sauce is smooth, add in the spinach. Stir until wilted. Add the chicken and roasted tomatoes, stirring gently.  When up to temperature again, sprinkle with mozzarella. Serve alongside a tasty alongside a green salad with Italian dressing.

*You may choose to use whole breasts or thighs for a more formal presentation. I like the sliced thighs for faster cooking and easier eating. The choice is yours.

Serves 4:  400 calories   6 net g carb    (salad not included)

I named this beautiful dish after one of my students. Just like this dish, Miss Bella is beautiful and wonderful too. She makes everyone around her happy. She is a little bit saucy at times, and has such wonderful bursts of sweetness (just like the tomatoes). Though she is not Italian, I think she can appreciate the similarities. Classes are winding down, and we are full on with the final push to graduation! It is a busy time. Not sure what this summer is going to look like. I hope I will find things to occupy my ever wandering mind. I am hoping to have more time for creativity in the kitchen. What are your plans?

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

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Chicken Cook-Up

I like chicken. Unlike many who sing the praises of chicken thighs, I actually prefer white meat.

I like to buy a large package of breasts at cheap prices at the warehouse club and save some bucks. Then on prep day--you all do know what that is, right? On the day I prep foods for the week, I have a plan. This morning I prepped the entire package in almost no time. Today, I will share the new flavoring combinations I came up with following my Saturday shopping spree.  Large batch cooking is not a new concept in the Diner kitchen. It is the kind of thing that keeps us eating healthy food when life gets crazier during the week. One mess to clean up, a little time invested, and loads of easy to fix meals later on. Not only low carb, but low calorie too.

21 Seasoning Salute
Hubby happened to offer to grill burgers today, so I prepped two breasts for the grill. Those were easy with my latest spice purchase. Trader Joe's "21 Seasoning Salute" blend. I am ashamed to be writing about this since this simple technique is such a no brainer. Just sprinkle and grill. But then simple doesn't describe this blend. No salt--but a terrific combination of onion, black pepper, celery seed, cayenne, parsley, basil, marjoram, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, savory, rosemary, cumin, mustard, coriander, garlic, carrot, orange peel, tomato granules, lemon juice powder, oil of lemon and citric acid. I would not want to pull all of these ingredients out of my pantry! Thankfully Joe did it for us. The whole jar was under $2 also. Bargain! I especially love the brightness of the lemon.

I made a batch of ground chicken patties with this spice blend as well. They taste very much like a mild sausage. These patties would go with just about any side dishes. To make the patties, I grind 2-3 breasts in my Ninja Master Prep. To that, I add 1 1/2 - 2 tsp of the seasoning blend and a good sprinkle of salt. These patties, I chose to bake in the oven. I don't mess with trying to hand form patties. I just spoon the chicken onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets and smooth them out with a silicon spatula. Then, bake about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. These are the patties in the center of the plate.

With those in the oven, I am ready for the second flavor. I don't bother washing the blender. Any little bits of seasoning will work fine for the next batch. This is also a Trader Joe's special. To two breasts, I added 3 tbsp of their Green Dragon Hot Sauce. This is a dandy addition to the patties. Just a slight heat infused into the meat to make it interesting. That is why I love adding flavors to ground chicken. The whole entree has that ramped up flavor, not just a sauce on the outside. Green Dragon is much like Sriracha, with that bit of sweetness. Not too much to worry about the carbs, at least for me. This sauce is made with jalapenos and tomatillos, habanero, cilantro and lime. So good!  These made 4 nice patties which I fried in a non-stick skillet. I like a little more heat, so I may add a bit more sauce on top. Hubby can do them plain, but I am betting these will be lunch salads for me at school. In the photo, these are the browned patties at the bottom of the plate.

Louisiana Supreme Original Chicken Wing Sauce, 17-oz. BottlesLastly, I ground the remaining 3 breasts of chicken with about 1/4 cup of Buffalo Chicken Sauce. You can use Frank's brand, but I admittedly use the brand from the Dollar Tree. Zero carbs and I love it. Louisiana Supreme Chicken Wing Sauce. A dollar well spent. Again, I don't bother to wash the blender pitcher. This mixture is a little bit wetter. It spoons really easily onto the cookie sheet. I would never try my ground chicken on the outdoor grill, as it would certainly fall through the grates. But an oven bake or pan fry is excellent. Less browning in the oven, but easy peasy on the cook. These take a little longer in the oven-- go for 25 -30 minutes for 6. Add a drizzle of blue cheese dressing when you reheat, and you have great flavor! In the photos, the Buffalo patties are the highest stack with the orange tint.

So there you have it. From nearly 6 pounds of raw chicken, I got 18 servings. All cooked and ready to eat or reheat. Four completely different meals to rotate. And just about an hour in the kitchen. It pays to invest some time on prep day. I find it pays to grind my own chicken as well. This was $1.79 per pound. Hard to beat! If you would like more chicken patty recipes, check these out!  Thai Spiced Chicken Patties, Chicken and Green Chili Volcanoes, Chicken Rollatini, Smoked Paprika Chicken Burgers, Coconut Curry Chicken Nuggets, Chicken Pizzoli, Mesquite Chicken Burgers, Homemade Chicken Chorizo

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

Friday, April 1, 2016

Going All Girly -- Pretty Foods for Parties and More Salad Sundaes

 Life is full of so many events that are even more special with beautiful, tasty food. So many of our special occasions have food in the center. It seems like spring is an especially important time for events that are decidedly feminine. Mother's Day, showers, ladies' luncheons, holiday brunches, graduation receptions, bridal parties, etc. This April issue of the Diner News is devoted to pretty foods that delight the ladies. Not to be sexist, I have already done an issue dedicated to manly favorites--love that one too. That one featured lots of bacon and beer. This one is definitely more salads and scrumptious desserts.

I have brought back an old favorite--the Salad Sundae. The idea is to make a variety of scoopable salads, and allow guest to build their own salad, choosing three different favorites. My original featured a Blueberry Chicken Salad, a Minted Cottage Cheese and a pretty Egg Salad. Those are still great choices. If you plan on serving guests, offering 5 or 6 different salads enables you to please every palate. In this month's Diner News, I have recipes for four new scoopables. Enticingly different, the Sundae above features Spring Radish Salad, Tarragon Chicken Salad and Thai Tuna Salad. I also have a Guacamole Chicken Salad that is delicious. What a salad buffet all of these would make! Just be sure to get the really fun banana split dishes. I see them at the thrift store quite often.

Luncheons are perfect for interesting salads. I also have a couple of gorgeous salads that feature berries. Men may like them, but the girls will love the asparagus, spinach, fennel, cucumber and avocado. At my house, this is definite girl food.

We all know that we girls love our desserts. Earlier in the month, I introduced the Lemony Lime Cheesecake on the blog. Add to that another showstopper dessert--a chocolate and peanut butter pie. So decadent and rich! Drops and swirls of chocolate sauce make it special.  I replicated a popular French pastry called "Financiers" which are sheer perfection with toasted almond and browned butter.  I blogged about them yesterday. And don't forget the cute factor with Tiny Tea Cakes. Pretty happens with a blackberry coconut cupcake.

Showers are perfect for finger foods. I have ideas for canapes, tea sandwiches and more. Check out all the reasons you want to order this month's Diner News. Remember an entire year of newsletters is just $6.

Cucumber Frills
Fennel and Avocado Salad with Strawberries
Thai Tuna Salad
Finger Sandwiches
Tulip Salad
Asparagus Salad with Feta and Berries
Peanut Butter Pie
Guacamole Chicken Salad
Spring Radish Salad
Tarragon Chicken Salad
Tiny Tea Cakes
Salad Sundae
Blackerry Coconut Cupcakes
Tiny Tea Cakes
Lemony Lime Cheesecake

Cucumber Flowers Canapes
Lemon Blueberry Cake
See how much good stiff is in there? I love being creative in the kitchen, and these dishes are pretty and tasty too.

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.