Low Carbin’

I wish I could tell you that reducing carbs and Splenda from my diet has resulted in a monumental weight loss. I can’t! In all fairness, I have not followed the prescriptive plan, and when I did that before, years ago, I lost weight substantially. I also wish I didn’t enjoy cooking and eating quite so much. I can’t! I wish I enjoyed exercise more at all. I don’t!

What I can say is that I have noticed fewer headaches and a lot less aches and pains in general as I have reduced the carb laden foods and Aspertame sweeteners.

One of the reasons I find the restrictions difficult is the lack of snacks and treats available. I mean, sometimes a girl just needs to grab a bag of crunchy chips or a bag of chocolate ones. (chips)

Last week I pinned a recipe for a sweet treat I thought I would try. I found it here:

http://simplecountryhome.com/2013/07/22/peanut-butter-cups/

I made them using these few ingredients plus a combination of sweeteners that I didn’t picture.

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I softened 1/2 cup of Coconut Oil in the microwave. I didn’t want it totally liquid, just stirable.

Then I added 1/2 cup of Cocoa

1/4 cup of Coconut Sweetener plus a packet of hardwood Xylatol. I liked this combo for sweetening.

1/4 t. vanilla

A scant pinch of kosher salt.

I found it easy to mix all this if I rested the bowl in a pan of warm water.

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You can taste and adjust the sweetness/saltiness at this point.

Next, I spooned a bit into these heart shaped molds I got to make fudge for our grand daughter, Carley, at Valentine’s day because she specifically requested fudge at Christmas and didn’t get it. She also hasn’t gotten it for Valentine’s Day…yet.

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I just covered the bottom, and then I added a dab of peanut butter.

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And finally, I spooned more chocolate over the top. And I sprinkled a few bits of sea salt on top.

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These went into the frige for solidifying. And they popped right out of the mold into cute, little heart-shaped candies. This recipe made 12 good sized candies with a little leftover chocolate mix, to which I added a bit of peanut butter and swirled. And ate. As soon as it hardened immediately. From my lack of patience I learned an important lesson. This stuff is delicious! And you don’t have to waste spend time making pretty little cups. You could just mix up the chocolate, add some peanut butter, mix, and pour into a buttered bowl to harden. Yay!!

I have enjoyed one or two a day. They really help the deprivation. 🙂 And they have about a carb to a carb and a half each, depending upon size and according to my unscientific, mathematically challenged figures. Which may also contribute to my lack of weight loss. 😉

Enjoy!

Quick and Easy Low Carb Appetizer

It’s not too late! This takes only a few minutes prep time and a bit of “resting” time. Yes, you really could mix this up before your New Year’s Eve celebration TONIGHT!

DSC00002PECAN, OLIVE, BACON CHEESE BITES

Ingredients:

2-8 oz cream cheese (softened)

1/2 cup chopped green olives (pimento stuffed)

1/2 cup Kalamata olives (chopped)

1 or 2 green onions (chopped)

8 slices bacon (fried crisp, drained, chopped)

1 cup chopped pecans

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients in large mixing bowl. I use a fork and my fingers rather than a mixer. Shape into a large ball and refrigerate. This can be made a day or two in advance. When ready to serve, scoop out a teaspoon sized heap and roll it into a ball. Continue until all mixture has been used. Insert a toothpick into each one for easy handling.

I don’t have an exact carb count on this, but all the ingredients are extremely low in carbohydrates. Sometimes, I toast whole pecans and place one half on each side of a ball…kind of sandwich style. For those not watching carbs, I add a ring of snack crackers around the plate. Your guests have options. 🙂

I have great memories of New Year’s Eve celebrations when our kids were growing up. We would have several families with kids over to eat and play games. Now, we traditionally get together with our best friends for a quiet evening of cards, snacks, and welcoming in a New Year. This year we are going to their house, and the food…well, I can guarantee there will be enough for a crowd. I’m promised there will be several low carb options, so no excuses for me! I hope you and your family have a fun celebration planned, and that you have a very blessed 2014!

I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing!

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I know, right? This looks like the plate of fries you order, put in the middle of the table, and share among four friends. But, there is something very special about these. First of all they aren’t fried. Secondly, they aren’t potatoes!

There’s an old saying from Saint’s family. “If you plant turnips by the 24th of July, they’ll make turnips, rain or dry.”

It must be true because, for a couple of years, now, we have scattered seeds randomly in our gardens and the turnips have been very prolific.

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And it just takes a couple of these babies to make a batch of turnip fries. I happened upon this idea one day when I had harvested several turnips, washed and peeled the veggies, and we had to leave before I had time to cook them. I decided to slice them up like this to store them in the refrigerator more easily.

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And after seeing roasted sweet potato fries, I thought, why not? These sat in the refrigerator for a day or so, and I drained, rinsed, and patted dry. Then I lined my favorite old cookie sheet with foil, drizzled a bit of olive oil onto the foil and swirled it around with my fingers. Next, I added a single layer of turnip slices, drizzled a bit more olive oil over the top…not too much, now, and tossed the “fries” to distribute the oil evenly. I sprinkled them generously with kosher salt and placed them in a 470 degree preheated oven (next to top rack) and let them cook until the bottom sides started to brown.

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The time for this will vary according to your oven, but it took about 10 minutes for mine. With long handled tongs, I turned the fries and cooked an additional 8 to 10 minutes, allowing them to caramelize a bit on top. I removed them to a paper towel to drain, and Wow!

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Yep! I ate the whole thing. And I don’t even have to feel guilty about it. Very healthy and low carb!

If you are a turnip lover, this is like icing on a cake. If not, try these. You might just become one of us!

Just a few hints:

  • If you dry them well with a paper towel, they will crisp up better. Any extra moisture tends to make them steam.
  • When they look like they are browned, leave them a bit longer. That carmelization assures more flavor.
  • I added more salt after they were cooked. I like salt.
  • Try adding some fresh rosemary leaves or maybe some garlic cloves while cooking.

Soup’s On!

Hooray! Finally, it’s fall. I’ve been waiting for months because I am not a fan of summer in the Ozarks. I mean…who really wants to eat soup when it’s 97 degrees outside? And who wants to build a campfire when it is 101 in the shade? And campfires and soups are some of my favorite things. I’ll share the campfire stories over on campingcapers.wordpress.com.

But I’ll tell you about a couple of new soup recipes I’ve tried right here.

If you are a blog follower or a friend, you already know that I usually search out and try easy recipes. My daughter and her husband are both excellent cooks and like to spend time together in the kitchen, so I leave the gourmet stuff to them. Me, well, I could battle Rachael Ray for the thirty minute meal. (I didn’t say I would win, did I?) But, I am also cheap frugal highly careful about not wasting things. So, when we gathered about 30 red peppers from our waning neighborhood garden plot, I needed something to do with them. I remembered sampling a roasted red pepper soup at the Vintage Veranda Tea Room that was quite tasty. When I googled it, I found a recipe that looked do-able with simple ingredients at http://.aspicyperspective.com/2012/01/roasted-red-pepper-soup.html

I washed, stemmed, halved, and seeded 8 large red peppers. I placed them on a foil lined cookie sheet and flattened them out so that the skin was exposed to the heat. I put a few heads of garlic on the tray with them.

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I placed them on the top shelf in the oven and broiled them for 15 minutes, after which I placed the blackened peppers in a glass bowl with a plastic lid and let them steam for another five minutes or so. I peeled away the blackened skin and put the remaining roasted pepper into the food processor along with the roasted garlic  and pureed.

In my soup pot, I heated two tablespoons olive oil (EVOO) and added a scant two cups of chopped onion, two sprigs of thyme from the herb garden, and a couple of bay leaves. When the onions were translucent, I removed the herbs. At this point, I was supposed to add 4 cups chicken stock. Oops. I had only two. But, I had a creamy garlic soup starter that I had used in another soup recipe I’ll tell you about in a minute, so I used it along with the chicken stock. Progresso makes those soup starters and I think they are really good. After this heated, I added the red pepper/garlic puree, a tablespoon of Mexican Villa Hot Sauce, (because some like it hot, I’ve heard) and a tablespoon of rice vinegar. I sprinkled in a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and reduced the heat to let it simmer long enough for the flavors to marry.

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It was quite tasty, healthy, and could be vegan or gluten free if you use vegetable stock and follow the original recipe linked above.

I have no pictures of the second soup I wanted to tell you about, but the other day my friend and I went to lunch at Spring Creek Tea Room. I had the cauliflower soup because I figured it was low calorie and all and might possibly negate the big piece of Coconut Mound Cake I was having for dessert. Not really. I just love soup. It was good! But then, everything Brenda makes at the tea room is good. It was creamy and garlicky, and I thought about it for days afterward, wondering if I could duplicate it at home.

I steamed a head of cauliflower and mashed it to a pulp and plopped in a couple tablespoons of butter. I added two cans of the Progresso garlic soup starter I told you about earlier and let it cook awhile before drizzling a bit of heavy cream on and sprinkling with salt and pepper. The result…drum roll please. It was pretty good for being so easy. Bottom line:

If you live anywhere near the Spring Creek Tea Room in Ozark, MO, go there and have the cauliflower soup. And the Coconut Mound Cake. Or any other of the many dessert items Brenda is featuring that day. If you don’t, make this for yourself. It’s pretty good.

God Gives the Increase

I sometimes have a hard time waiting am not always a patient person. This year, I thought my garden would never grow. I planted seeds. I planted plants. And I waited. Through days weeks of rain and wonderfully cooler than normal temperatures, I waited. Everyone else had produce. I had none. But then, one day, I had this.DSC00191

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And these ripening on the window sill.

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And all of these.

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Those patty pan squash were the ones I grew from seeds in my milk jug green houses in January.

And then there are the bushels of cucumbers from two little hills.

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I’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all morning canning freezing bagging these up to share with friends and family. I know, they are going to start locking their houses and cars when they see me coming, but seriously, what do you do with a five gallon bucket of cucumbers all picked on the same day? Pickles? Not today. And, these are really good eating cucumbers, not the pickling kind.

The good news is, I found some great looking cucumber dip recipes on Pinterest.

I made this one from http://www.yummly.com/recipe/Dill-Cucumber-Dip-Allrecipes

It was surprisingly good and extremely uncomplicated easy.

Dill-Cucumber Dip

Ingredients

  • 8 ozs cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 cucumbers (– peeled seeded and chopped)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
    ? Tasty tip
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dill weed (dried)
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

I mixed the cream cheese and mayo, added the other ingredients, stirred, and refrigerated it for an hour or so. We ate it on crackers, but I’m sure it would be great with carrots, celery, cauliflower, etc.

So, if you have an abundance of cucumbers, and before you get the reputation of “vegetable pusher,” try this. I think you’ll like the crisp, fresh taste.

Though I don’t have the stats, I can assure you from looking at the ingredients, it is very low carb.

I’ll be trying others and will give you my honest, unprofessional opinion. In the meantime, peel those cukes!