All posts by Rene Averett

A Mexican Cheese Pie Variation

Photo: Chicken Chile Rellano PieWhile a cheese pie is a lot like a quiche, it’s not exactly the same. It’s the basic recipe adapted with different ingredients that takes it on a different path. In this case, our cheese pie is similar to the Chile Rellano casserole but with a couple of differences. This recipe is adapted from Miz Liz at Low Carb Friends. I made a few adjustments and changes to spice it up a little more.

It cooks quickly and makes a thick, satisfying slice of pie. It will serve six average appetites, but those bigger eaters should be content with one-quarter of the pie.  You can dress it up when you serve it with other go-withs like pico de Gallo, avocado or guacamole, and/or sour cream.

If you want it to be spicier, add more fajita or taco seasoning to it. Don’t want it spicy at all? Omit the seasoning and simply add salt and pepper. While it does use a low carb baking mix – the original recipe came from Carbquik’s web site -, you don’t have to use it. Omit the flour if you wish, or simply use 1 tablespoon of any low carb flour to help thicken it.

I hope you will give this a try and let me know what you think

Chicken Chile Rellano Casserole

2 4 oz. cans chopped Green Chilies, drained
1 cup shredded Chicken
1/2 cup Onions, chopped
2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese or Cheddar Jack Cheese
1/2 cup Cream plus 1/2 cup Water
1 cup CarbQuik mix or other Low Carb Baking Mix
1 – 2 tablespoons of Fajita or Taco Seasoning Mix
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F.) Grease an 8″ pie plate or casserole dish or spray with baking spray.

Drain the chiles and spread them over the bottom of the pan. Top with cheese, then spread the chicken and chop onions over the top.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, cream, water, seasoning, and baking mix together until it is completely mixed using a spoon or silicone spatula. Pour over the chicken and cheese. Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Insert a knife in the middle to check if it is fully set.

Cool for about 10 minutes to allow it to finish setting up to make it easier to cut. Serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, and/or guacamole to garnish. A green side salad works well with this dish.

Makes 4 to 6 servings, depending on appetite.

Tip: For those who want a meatless dish, simply omit the chicken.
If you would like to add corn to it, use Dynasty Baby Sweet Corn and chop it up. It adds the flavor with only 0.3 carbs extra per serving of 1/6.

Photo: Nutrition Info for Chicken Chile Rellano Casserole

 

 

Toasting the New Year

 

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” — T.S. Eliot

Happy New Year to Everyone!

We are saying a thankful farewell to a difficult 2020. For many of us, we’ve endured losses in this year of strife, illness, and masks. To those that lost loved ones, a blessing on you for you have shouldered the hardest cut. For those that are struggling financially, a blessing on you also for you’ve faced challenges to stay alive and under a roof. To all of us, this has been a difficult time and we eagerly look forward to a better year ahead. 2021 will have challenges also, but let’s hope that they will be far less than this passing year.

Traditionally, we gather with friends and family to bid the old year farewell and reflect on the lessons and good memories. It will be more bitter than sweet, but I end the year grateful to be alive and reasonably healthy. I hope most of you can say the same. I will be toasting with my longtime roommate and a hot cup of spiked cocoa. The recipe is simple, but so delicious.

Hot Spiced Low Carb Cocoa

Photo is from Stencil. It looks better than the one I took.

An easy and delicious low carb chocolate drink mix. Try it with a bit of Peppermint Sugar-free Syrup in it for a nice holiday toast.

2 teaspoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 cup Almond Milk or Coconut Milk, unsweetened
3-4 drops of liquid Sucralose or other sweetener (about 2 teaspoons if you’re using granulated)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)
1/2 jigger of Rum or Whiskey (or Peppermint or Ginger Bread sugar-free Syrup)

In a small sauce pan, heat almond milk to almost boiling, reduce to a simmer, then stir in cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Remove from heat, then add vanilla, sweetener, and alcohol or syrup. Stir well. Serve hot.

Makes 1 serving

To do this in a microwave, put the almond milk in a 10 oz. cup and microwave for one minute. Stir in cocoa and cinnamon, then add the remaining ingredients and stir together. Serve.

To make Coffee and Cocoa drink, follow the same instructions above, but reduce the almond milk to 1/2 cup, add in 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee with the cocoa and cinnamon then add 1/2 cup boiling water. Add the vanilla and alcohol or syrup.

You can use regular milk if you prefer. The carbs will be around 12 for just the milk.

For another festive toast, try one of these.

 

Pumpkin Nog for the Holidays  or  Hot Gingerbread Nog

Happy New Year!

 

Happy Holiday Cheeseball

As I hinted, I did make a terrific cheeseball over the weekend, let it sit until Monday, then dug in. I would have posted yesterday, but time escaped me again! Wrapping packages, writing my last few Christmas cards, and the next thing I know, the day is gone. Funny how that happens faster when you get older.

I took time to look for the Christmas star, aka the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction. I expected it to be brighter and maybe a little larger, although I’m sure city lights dimmed the view. If I’d been in the desert like I used to be when I lived in El Paso, Texas, I’m sure it would have popped more. Still, how the heck did the Three Kings manage to follow that light amongst all the others?

But I digress… I found this recipe on gimmedelicious.com and had to make minor adjustments to make it low carb. Of course, I added a tiny touch or two to make it mine. Use low carb crackers, bagel chips, carrots, or celery as the base to spread a little of this yummy cheese on top. Easy to make, it comes together quickly once you have the chopping done. It’s great for a family gathering or a small party. Besides that, it’s festive-looking with the red and green in and on it.
One tip, though; when it comes to chopping chives or onions, it’s easier to use kitchen scissors to cut them into small pieces.

Photo: Cranberry-pecan cheeseball

Cranberry Pecan Cheeseball

8 ounces Cream Cheese
1 cup White Sharp Cheddar Cheese shredded
1/2 cup dried Sugar-reduced Cranberries chopped and divided
1 cup Pecans chopped and toasted (optional)
2 tablespoons Chives, chopped
2 tablespoon Spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Set the cream cheese out to soften for about an hour. Meanwhile chop the pecans, the craisins, chives, and spinach. Shred the white cheese if needed.

Toast Pecans: Pre-heat oven to 375F. Spread the chopped pecans on a baking tray and bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until they smell toasty. Be careful not to burn them.  Set these aside and turn the oven off.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder together until you have a smooth mixture. Add 1/2 of the roasted pecan and 1/2 of the cranberries, then the chives. Stir together until these are mixed through the cream cheese.

Cut a large piece of plastic wrap and put the mixture in the middle.  Use a spoon or spatula to begin to shape it into a ball. Once all the cheese is pulled together, use the wrap to push it closer together and round the shape as you encase the ball in the wrap and close off the top by twisting.

Put the cheese ball in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours. This will firm up the cream cheese.

Before serving, mix the remaining pecans, cranberries and spinach or chives together on a flat surface, such as a baking pan or cheese board. Unwrap the chilled ball and roll it in the pecan and cranberry mixture, coating all sides. Press the fruit and nuts into the ball if they won’t stick.

Place on a serving platter and surround with dippers. Makes about 12 servings.

Filled with color and flavor Ricotta Cookies

 

Photo: Cranberry Ricotta Cookies

I’m a big fan of ricotta cheese. I use it a lot in my cooking, whether as a lasagna layer, an add-in to quiche, or to add sturdiness to my baking. It has a mild flavor, but it brings fluffiness and texture to your cooking. It can elevate the simple to something more elegant. I don’t have the same fondness for cottage cheese, so I often substitute ricotta.

However, this cookie recipe actually is a ricotta original. The cookie is like a sugar cookie with a light, fluffy center. I added chopped cranberries to it for specks of color and a bit more taste; however, it isn’t needed if you prefer to leave them out.

About the flour combination I used, these work well for me, but you don’t have to use them. You can choose coconut flour (use about 1/2 the amount called for and add egg whites to add moisture and help the lift), almond flour, soy flour, or any other low carb flour you like. The carb count may come out a little higher, but you should be below 2 net carbs per cookie with most low carb options.

I recommend using Swerve Confectioners’ Sugar, but you can use Splenda and process it in a blender to powder it. It will use at least two cups of Splenda to make one cup of powdered sugar. Alternately, you can dip the warm cookie in a plate of granulated sugar substitute of your choice or sprinkle the sugar over the tops.

Cranberry Ricotta Cookies

1/2 cup Butter, softened a bit
1 cup White Sugar Substitute
1 Egg
8 ounces Ricotta Cheese
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose Low Carb Flour
1/4 cup Almond Flour
1/4 cup Vanilla Whey Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 tablespoon Sprite Zero or Diet 7-Up
1 cup Cranberries, chopped

Icing:
1/3 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Butter
1 cup Swerve Confectioners’ Sugar
1/2 tablespoon Lemon Extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Either grease two cookie sheets or cover them with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream one-half cup of butter, vanilla, and sugar together. I like to start with cut and slightly softened butter, so the beater doesn’t throw it all over the counter. Beat in the egg and the ricotta cheese.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, almond flour, whey powder, baking powder, and baking soda and whisk together. Add a little at a time to the ricotta mixture, beating on low. Add 1 tablespoon of the Lemon soda of choice.

If the dough is too thick to pull together, add a tablespoon of water and mix until it is easy to work with. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheet. Leave at least an inch between each cookie.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes until just turning brown around the edges. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets.

Make the icing by adding half-and-half and 1/2 teaspoon butter to a microwavable bowl and cook for 20 seconds to heat the liquid and melt the butter. Add lemon juice and mix. Stir in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. It should be about the consistency of gravy.

Use a spatula or spoon to spread a layer of icing over each cookie.

Makes thirty cookies.

Image: Nutrition Information

A Bar Cookie for the Holidays

Photo: Cranberry Nut Chewy Bars

Winter is arriving soon in the northern hemisphere, but many of us have already experienced the cold, snow, and icy winds that come with the season. Of course, it also means the holiday celebrations are already in full swing.

This yummy bar cookie recipe is just the thing to have with a hot cup of cocoa. I adapted a chewy chocolate chip bar one to use the red berries in it. Since it is meant to be a chewy bar, be careful to not overcook it. Depending on your oven, you may want to check it at 18 minutes rather than 20 and work your way up to perfection. I’ve overcooked the edge some, so I can say it still tastes delicious, but it doesn’t have the chewiness the center does. By the way, if you feel inclined to add sugar-free chocolate chips to the recipe, they would make it extra yummy.

More holiday recipes will be coming in the next week. I’ve got my mind set on making ricotta cookies this weekend and maybe a cheese ball.

Photo: Sweets By the Season book cover
Great low carb recipes for delicious desserts and other times.

By the way, if you’re looking for a great collection of holiday sweets to make, check out my book, Sweets By the Season which has over 55 delicious dessert recipes for any occasion. Most of these low-carb-adapted recipes are not on this web site. Click on the image to go to a universal link of available sellers.

Cranberry Ricotta Nut Bars

1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 cup Sugar Substitute
1 Egg
2 teaspoons Almond Extract
1 cup low carb All-purpose Flour
1/4 cup Almond Flour
1/4 cup Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
1/4 cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 cup Cranberries
1/3 cup Pecans, broken into pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together melted butter, sugar substitute, almond extract, and egg until well combined.

Add flour, almond flour, whey powder, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl and whisk to combine. Stir flour mix into wet ingredients and mix until fully combined.

Stir in cranberries and nuts and pour into prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 12 bars.

Image: Nutrition Info for Cranberry Bars