Sunday, December 30, 2007

Menu Planning Monday

As we ring in the new year we have wonderful news to celebrate with old friends of ours. A family has been born and we are hoping to meet our friends' new baby boy on New Years Day! Although as I type both DH and DS2 have the sniffles - we are hoping a cold doesn't descend upon our home as 2007 ends. I am planning on spending NYE day, while DH works a short day and my boys play nicely together (I can hope, right?) making a vat of chili to freeze and baking up banana bread to take to our friends so they can spend more time lavishing that new baby with love than worrying about the next meal.

The challenges of integrating a low carb menu along with dairy free while at the same time using whole foods as often as possible and working with in a budget proves to be even more daunting when trying to make festive treats. Our New Years day eats are really quite out there but hopefully will keep everyone happy and full while keeping sensitive bellies well and blood sugars in check.


The menu for the week - an eclectic week between the holiday and cooking in bulk to share...

Monday (NYE)
make many loaves of banana bread
make turkey & black bean chili to freeze
for dinner - Asian Hot Pot, korean spare ribs, flax noodles

Tuesday - Happy New Year!
(visiting friends with new baby - taking them lunch to share, banana bread and freezer meals)
Appetizer night -buffalo chicken dip
, Texas caviar, guacamole, dinosaur chicken, spicy hummus, soy-flax chips, carrots & celery sticks, tuna salad stuffed tomatoes, sliced fruit

Wednesday -
leftover chili, cornbread, salad

Thursday -
Tom Ka Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup), salad

Friday -
baked tilapia, baked sweet potatoes, steamed zucchini

Check out more menus at Laura's

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Breakfast Casserole

This was a fantastic breakfast for a lazy Christmas morning at home. This is not a low-fat or even remotely healthy dish so definitely a holiday special. I prepped the casserole the night before and on Christmas morning, while I brushed my teeth DH threw the casserole in the oven and it cooked while we opened gifts. We took it out and it cooled to just perfect temp in time for us to sit down and enjoy breakfast together. I also prepped a dairy-free version the night before (with eggs, sausage, bacon, peppers, green onions, Earth's Balance, soymilk and brown rice (since the croutons had cheese)).I served breakfast with a diary-free banana bread that friends dropped off yesterday and the oranges from our stockings. Delish! Recipe adapted from Charleston Breakfast Casserole on


* 1 pound bacon, chopped and browned
* approx 1/2 pound breakfast sausage, chopped and browned
* 1/4 cup butter, melted
* 3 cups croûtons (enough to cover the bottom of the casserole dish) **
* 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (or enough to cover the croutons)
* 9 eggs
* 1 3/4 cups milk
* 1 red bell pepper, diced
* 2 green onions, diced
* 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
* salt and pepper


1. Melt butter in the microwave, or in a small pan on the stove over low heat. Spray a 9x12 inch baking dish with vegetable spray. Place croûtons in the bottom of the dish, and drizzle with melted butter. Sprinkle with grated Cheddar cheese.
2. Sprinkle cheese with pre-cooked bacon & sausage.
3. Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisking to break up the yolks. Add milk, peppers, mustard, a few good turns of fresh cracked sea salt and black pepper, and beat until well-combined. Pour over the croutons and cheese.
4. Refrigerate overnight. Place in cold oven - turn oven on to 325* and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10-20 minutes before serving.

**Purchase prepared croutons or make croutons with day old bread cut in to cubes, drizzle with melted butter or butter substitute (or olive oil), sprinkle with seasoning of choice (parmesan, garlic powder, salt & pepper, herbs) - bake at 400*, flipping once, until brown and crisp

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Menu Planning Monday

Monday (Christmas Eve)
Dinner at my parents'
taking: 3 types of vanilla ice cream for Cherries Jubilee
whole wheat bread
sugar free pumpkin pie

Tuesday (Christmas!)
a variation on Charleston Breakfast Casserole + a dairy-free version
orange slices
walnut bread toast
oj and tomato juice

veggies & dip
roast beef sandwiches

antipasto salad
low carb almond cheesecake
at the kids' request - red & green jello jigglers

Tom Ka Gai (Coconut Chicken Soup)

Mediterranean Tilapia
orzo with artichoke hearts and klamata olives

baked chicken
baked potatoes


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Low Carb Almond Cheesecake

crust: (from About)

* 1 and 1/2 cups almond meal or almond flour
* 3 tablespoons melted butter
* Artificial sweetener equal to 3 tablespoons sugar

Melt the butter (if the pie pan is microwave safe, melt the butter in it) and mix the ingredients up in the pan and pat into place with your fingertips.

Nutritional Information: The whole pie shell has 11 grams effective carbohydrate plus 17 grams fiber and 30 grams protein.

filling: (from RecipeZaar)
55 min 10 min prep
Change to: pie US Metric
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
3 eggs
25 (1 g) packets Splenda sugar substitute (1.5 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

1. Mix together cream cheese, Splenda, and extracts. Then add eggs and beat until creamy.
2. Pour into a greased pie pan.
3. Bake for 35 minutes at 350°F or until cracked and golden brown.
Christmas Day Menu

Breakfast -
breakfast casserole (make night before)
sliced oranges
tomato juice & orange juice

Lunch -
veggies & dip

Dinner -
antipasto salad
crusty bread

Dessert -
red & green Jello jigglers
low carb almond cheesecake

Saturday, December 15, 2007

TO TRY Sweet Potato and Broccoli Soup

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Soup (from
Yes, I know it sounds a bit icky but I promise it is delicious
1 med onion — chopped
1 head + stem of broccoli, chopped
1 sweet potato, thinly sliced
6 c Chicken Stock
2 c water (though you may want to add more or less depending on how think you want the soup)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Saute onion and garlic in some oil. Add chicken stock and sweet potato. Bring to boil, then add broccoli. Reduce to simmer and cook until veggies are completely tender (about 20 min.) Place 2 cups of soup in blender at a time. Puree. Return all soup to pot and add water, salt and pepper as desired.

Menu Plan 12/16 - 12/25

The next week and a half are gearing up to be nuts. I need to get a good plan in place so we are prepared.

S 12/16 - DH at work late

send leftover chili with DH - kids & I - ravioli, chicken & broccoli (bake sweet potatoes with chicken for another night)

M 12/17
beef & broccoli stir fry over brown rice

T 12/18 - Cookie party & dinner at friends'
(check to see what I need to bring for DH and DS2)

W 12/19
panko crusted tilapia, mashed sweet potatoes & spinach

Th 12/20
quiona pilaf
, baked blsl chicken thighs and salad w/ homemade blue cheese dressing

F 12/21
out to eat or take out

S 12/22
double recipe of coconut chicken soup,

S 12/23 - DH at work late
send leftovers with DH
kids & I - spoon bread, veggies & boca burgers

M 12/24 - Christmas Eve at my parents' - taking hummus, whole wheat bread, ice cream, diary-free ice crea and a sugar-free pumpkin pie

T 12/25 - Christmas Menu TBD - ideas - ciopinno
need to find a good hearty, low carb, dairy free breakfast that won't have me in the kitchen for hours, maybe a snack buffet for lunch (buffalo chicken dip & celery, hummus & veggies....

eggs & spinach
almond pancakes
egg in a hole
bran muffins

DH lunches:
chili from freezer
make a big pot of soup to freeze
low carb wraps

Kid lunches:
mac & no cheese
sweet potato hash

DH Snacks:
carrots & hummus
celery & peanut butter
crackers & cheese

Kid snacks:
veggies & dip

Black Bean Chili

I usually make chili in the crockpot so when Carl requested a big pot of chili at 1pm today and we still needed to go to the store I needed a quick stove top version of my all day chili.

4 cans black beans, drained
1 big (30oz?) can chopped tomatoes
1 15oz can chopped tomatoes with peppers
1 6oz can tomato paste
3 small onions, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 lbs ground beef
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
salt & pepper

Brown beef & onion, add garlic. Drain some fat. Add all other ingredients and simmer 20-30 minutes.

Top with sliced black olives, lowfat shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, chopped green onions. Serve with multi-grain chips for dipping.

Great hit with DS2 and DH. I think I might like it more than my crockpot chili. DS1 said it was "ok" and ate some but didn't rave. Pot made enough for 2 full meals plus lunches for DH. Excellent BS for DH.

Almond Pancakes

* 2 cups almond flour
* 4 eggs
* 3/4 cup water (for puffier pancakes, you can use sparkling water)
* 1/4 cup corn oil
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 T sweetener
* 2 t baking powder

Mix together dry ingredients. Mix together wet ingredients. Mix all together. Cook 1/4 cup pancakes in a non-stick pan over med-high heat. Makes approx. 16-18 pancakes.

The kids and DH LOVED these pancakes. They ate them with a little Earth's Balance on top. I was not fond - the taste was ok but the texture was too crumbly, it just felt oogy. We had the pancakes with bacon and eggs scrambled with spinach.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another TO TRY - Butternut Squash Risotto

I am not sure how the arborio rice will do for Carl's BS but this looks so good. I will use Earth's Balance and leave the cheese out until the very end to keep it William friendly.

Butternut Squash Risotto
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray, 2007
See this recipe on air Saturday Dec. 15 at 5:00 PM ET/PT.
Show: Food Network Specials
Episode: All-Star Holiday Spirit
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1 (10-ounce) box cooked frozen butternut squash
Nutmeg, grated, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
7 or 8 leaves fresh sage, slivered
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Bring 1 quart stock plus 1 cup water to a simmer in a sauce pot then reduce heat to low.

Heat a medium skillet over medium to medium-high heat with olive oil. When oil ripples, add the onions and garlic and soften 2 to 3 minutes. Add rice and toast 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine and cook it out completely, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle in stock in intervals, a couple of ladles at a time. Allow liquids to evaporate each time. Risotto will cook 18 minutes, total, from the first addition of liquid. Defrost the squash in your microwave in a dish to collect any liquids and stir in squash the last 3 minutes of cook time, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. In the last minute of cooking time, stir in butter in small pieces, sage leaves and cheese, serve.

TO TRY - Cioppino

This is beyond my normal weekday dinner budget - both time and wallet wise but I am considering a non-dairy fish stew for Christmas night dinner.

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
See this recipe on air Saturday Dec. 15 at 5:00 PM ET/PT.
Show: Food Network Specials
Episode: All-Star Holiday Spirit
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups fish stock
1 bay leaf
1 pound manila clams, scrubbed
1 pound mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pounds assorted firm-fleshed fish fillets such as halibut or salmon, cut into 2-inch chunks

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, fish stock and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

Add the clams and mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, stirring gently, about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Remove bay leaf. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cashew Coconut Sauce

(Original Recipe below)

Cashew Sauce
1/2 cup TJ's cashew butter
10oz light coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water (or more as needed)

Mix all together in a small pot and cook over med-low until heated through. Add water until desired consistency. I served over chicken breasts and along side brown rice and steamed spinach. Big hit for DH, DS1 and the few bites of dinner DS2 ate were happy bites. Did well for DH's bloodsugars as well.

Cashew Sauce
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2003
See this recipe on air Tuesday Dec. 11 at 3:30 AM ET/PT.
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut
1/2 cup cashew butter, recipe follows
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt, optional

Whisk the butter, milk, and pepper together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Taste and add salt, if desired. Heat until sauce is warmed through. Serve over grilled chicken, pork, or rice.

Cashew Butter:
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup walnut oil
10 ounces (approximately 2 cups) roasted cashews
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the honey in a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave for 15 seconds. Remove from the microwave and add the oil to the container. Place the nuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 5 seconds. Then, while the processor is running, very slowly drizzle in the honey and oil. Process until an emulsion is formed and the mixture is smooth; this will take approximately 45 seconds to 1 minute. If the mixture is too thick and doesn't spread easily, add a little more oil.

Yield: Approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cups

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Carrot Apple Muffins Two Ways

Today was a cold, rainy day and we had no plans. Zachary wanted to make muffins - "red" muffins was his first request. Then he asked for carrot muffins so we came up with this recipe. He was furious with me that I wouldn't let him "taste" the brown sugar as it was measured and dumped in to the mixing bowl.

Kid's Carrot Apple Muffins
1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup oat bran

4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup applesauce
2/3 cup brown sugar

4 cups shredded/chopped mixed apple and carrot**

Preheat oven to 350*

**In food processor shred 1.5 very large carrots and 2 large green apples (not peeled). Remove shredding disk and replace with chopper blade and pulse to make smaller bits. Total volume of apples + carrots should be approximately 4 cups

Mix dry ingredients.
Mix wet ingredients.
Add wet to dry. Mix to combine. Fold in apples.
Fill muffin cups to top. Full size muffins 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Mini muffins 9-10 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Makes about 2 dozen full sized muffins or 4 dozen mini muffins

Sugar-Free Diabetic friendly version
Replace brown sugar with 3/4 cup Splenda
Add 1-1.5 cups chopped walnuts

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Weekly Menu

Monday - steak, spinach salad, whole wheat garlic cheese toast (sushi and apples for the kids in the cart at Costco)
Tuesday - vegetable beef & barley soup, flaxseed ciabatta bread
Wednesday - balsamic marinated flank steak, tri-color mashed potatoes, green beans
Thursday - salmon, zucchini & carrot cheese casserole, salad with fresh blue cheese dressing
Friday - sundried tomato pesto, whole wheat pasta, broccoli
Saturday - dinner out for Papa's birthday
Sunday - pork roast, homemade applesauce, baked potatoes, something green