Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Sandwich Tuesday! Low Carb Smoky Sonoran Turkey and Bacon Slider

Hello LilyOnTheLam.com Readers:  

If you read my blog posts from last week, you will know that I have started experimenting with low carb cooking and baking.  In my July 17th blog post, I wrote about my first experience making low carb coconut flour "bread" by following a recipe I found on the 24-7 Low Carb Diner blog. 

My first experiment inspired me to create my own spin-off recipe.  The following blog post details how I created a recipe for what I am calling my "Low Carb Smoky Sonoran Turkey and Bacon Slider."  

Once I made the coconut flour bread from the 24-7 Low Carb Diner blog described in the July 17, 2012 post, I immediately thought of various ways to add flavor to the bread.  I took the bread recipe and decided to give it more of a smoky, spicy twist.   

I added several dashes of chipotle peppers, dried jalapeño flakes and ground cumin to the coconut bread batter.  Instead of the "pinch of salt" required by the recipe, I threw in some fresh ground smoked sea salt.  I also added a bit more baking powder.  If I had some tomato powder, I would have put in a few dashes of it as well.  But alas, no tomato powder in the pantry!  I am calling this spin-off recipe: "Smoky Jalapeño Coconut Flour Bread."

Whoops, I got out of control with the chipotle peppers!

I mixed the batter with a fork and then let it sit for a few minutes to thicken.

The end result was a larger "loaf" of coconut bread than my previous attempt.  The seasonings made it look like whole wheat bread.  Learning my lesson from the last time I baked coconut flour bread (see July 17th's blog post), I decided to let the Smoky Jalapeño Coconut Flour Bread completely cool and dry out a bit.  I would suggest making this coconut bread the day before and letting it sit out at room temperature to draw out some of the moisture.    

Hello Big Lovely Loaf!

Because the loaf had completely cooled and was allowed to dry out for a little while, I was able to slice it into thinner pieces much more easily than my previous experiment.  The recipe for this loaf yields 4 slices, I was able to slice it into 8 slices instead.

As you can see in the picture below, there is a hole in my coconut bread.  Gently tapping the bottom of the coffee mug on the counter after you add the batter helps drive out air bubbles before you microwave the "bread."

The jalapeño flakes were nicely distributed throughout the bread

Meanwhile, I fried one slice of center cut bacon.

Hello Bacon Deliciousness!
 While the bacon was frying, I took a teaspoon full of the leftover Basil Lime Mayonnaise.  (My recipe for this is listed in last Thursday's blog post.)

I added a dash of cumin and a dash of cayenne pepper and mixed it well.  I should have added a bit more cumin than this below to really amp the smokiness.  If you like heat, you may want to add a dash of hot sauce or some additional jalapeño flakes.  I would recommend leaving this amped mayo in the refrigerator for a few hours before using to bring out all the flavors.  However, I used it right away and it was very tasty.

When the bacon was crispy, I removed the bacon from the frying pan and fried 2 slices of the thinly sliced coconut bread in the bacon fat.  I got a nice brown color to it.  (Doesn't it look like polenta?)

After I had fried the coconut bread on both sides, I added my spiced up basil lime mayonnaise to both slices.

Learning the lessons from my past coconut bread slider recipe, I decided to add a lot more meat to my sandwich.  I added one serving of thin-sliced smoked turkey breast (45 calories, 1 g. carbs total), which for this product (Oscar Meyer) was 6 slices.  I cut the fried bacon piece in half and put both halves between the slices of turkey on the sandwich.

The end result?  I'm calling it Lily's Low Carb Smoky Sonoran Turkey and Bacon Slider.

I took the above picture and then realized you could not see any bacon, so I tried again in the picture below.  See the bacon peeking out?

Lily's Recipe Review:  

A+ for this one!  I will absolutely be adding this slider to my low carb recipe collection.  I was very happy with the results.

I learned a lot about working with this recipe for coconut flour bread the first time I made it.  I detailed those lessons in previous Sandwich Tuesday blog posts.  The smokiness of the cumin and chipotle peppers as well as the heat of the jalapeño flakes made this coconut flour bread very tasty.  No more bland flavor coconut bread!  

Adjusting the bread to meat ratio also helped for overall flavor.  More meat, less bread!  Although next time I'll use four slices of thin sliced smoked turkey breast instead of six.  I went from my July 17th slider sandwich not having enough meat to having too much meat in this week's sandwich.  Ahhh well, live and learn!

The thinner bread slices fried in bacon fat were still not as crispy as whole wheat toast, but it was a lot less spongy-tasting.  I didn't have the "Am I eating meat between two slices of bland cake?" feeling that I had in my last coconut bread sandwich experience.  The smoky cumin-cayenne basil lime mayo was delicious and added a richness that made it completely unnecessary to have any cheese on this slider sandwich.  The combination of smoky turkey, crisp bacon and the lime and cumin notes of the mayonnaise went together very well.  

If you like sandwiches with a bit of smoky heat to them, you should try this Low Carb Smoky Sonoran Turkey and Bacon Slider recipe.  Depending on the calorie count of the meat you use and how much mayonnaise, your total calories might vary from mine.  However I estimated that this slider sandwich was around 208 calories and 2.5 grams of carbs total.  It was very filling and tasty.  I would absolutely serve this recipe, with each slider sliced in half as a great appetizer for a cocktail party.  It would also make a nice accompaniment to a smoky bowl of roasted red pepper soup.  

Other recipe variation suggestions:  You could add basil leaves, a leaf of Boston butter lettuce or arugula to the slider as well.  Chopped sun dried tomatoes added to the mayonnaise would be add a great touch versus a bland slice of tomato.  If you like cheese on your sandwiches, a thin slice of brie or pepperjack cheese would work well too.  

I sliced the rest of my Smoky Jalapeño Coconut Flour bread and separated each slice in foil before putting it in the freezer.  I took it out of the freezer several days later and toasted them in my toaster oven.  The drying out in the freezer as well as the toasting made the bread slightly crunchier than before.  The flavor was still deep, smoky and delicious.  I'm glad that it froze well.

Thanks for reading - if you try this recipe, let me know what you think about it in the comments section!      

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Friday, July 27, 2012

RECIPE FAIL! Low Carb Chai Infused Mock Rice Pudding

Hi LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers-- 

If you're a frequent reader to my website you will know that I like to talk of myself in lofty, exalted terms -- I am basically the world's best everything!  (Yeah, you heard me.)  

Of course I am joking, but boy did life hand me a big dose of "Guess again, Sister!" when I tried to "improve" upon the low carb mock rice pudding recipe that I had reviewed in a previous post (click here for the recipe review that I loved, loved, loved making and even loved more in consuming!)

Now if you have read the previous post, you'll know that the reason the "rice" pudding is low carb is because it is mock rice pudding ... there is no rice in it at all.  The mock rice is actually cottage cheese.  Before you start saying "ewwww" and clicking shut this blog post (stick with me, people!), I have to tell you that the mock rice pudding was pretty darn tasty.  Honest.  Scout's honor.  Although actually I was a Camp Fire Girl ... 

The low carb mock rice pudding was so tasty that I thought of ways I could vary the recipe and make it my own.  I had a mad crush on a man who loves chai, so perhaps my thoughts have been centered on chai because of that ... or perhaps my thoughts have been centered on sexy men and chai just happens to pop into the picture every now and again too.  Regardless of the birth of the idea, I had thought about doing a chai flavored low carb mock rice pudding.  Unfortunately as you may have gathered from the blog post title; this was a RECIPE FAIL!  I should have known that when the dish inspired by my crush was horrifically inedible that it would be some crazy precursor to the withering and dying of my crush.  As goes the crappy chai mock rice pudding, there goes the crush as well.  I believe Buddha said that.

But let's pretend you don't know that this is a RECIPE FAIL ... come back with me in time ... to a kinder, gentler world... a land of chai and romantic crushes ...

When trying to infuse chai-type flavors into a recipe, it is usually done in one of two ways -- steeping chai tea bags into a cooking liquid or adding elements that taste like chai - cinnamon, etc. into the recipe and having no actual chai tea in the recipe at all.

(Side Note on Chai:  My sister Squidge and I were in Delhi, India in December 2011 - January 2012.  We both love chai, but in India all tea is referred to as "chai" - it reminded me of parts of the South where all soda is referred to as "Coke."  It made for some hysterical beverage confusion in the ordering department.  I finally started ordering lattes!) 

I was shopping at the Target Super Center when I saw this chai tea - Stash brand Double Spice Chai Black Tea.  (Or if you are French [or a Francophile like me]: the noir chai aux epices doublees - sorry I can't figure out how to get the accent marks into Blogger.com because I am a Blogger.com idiot.)  

(Side Note on "Stash":  One of my favorite books when I was in college was Tama Janowitz's collection of stories: "Slaves of New York."  The lead character was this quirky but well-meaning, aspiring hat designer woman named Eleanor and her boyfriend was this lout of a pissy man-child named Stash.  I hated Stash's treatment of Eleanor, but I loved his name.  

The collection of stories eventually became a wacky film of the same name starring Bernadette Peters.  I was pretty floored by the choice of Bernadette Peters as Eleanor -- I thought she was completely wrong (although she tried her best).  But ohhh Adam Coleman Howard as Stash ... was just perfect casting.  Dark, brooding, pouty and annoyingly whiny.  I always thought I'd someday name a pet "Stash" because I love the name so much ... but maybe I'm still waiting for a boyfriend named Stash.  Preferably someone who is mature.  Adam Coleman Howard is Abigail Van Buren ("Dear Abby")'s grand-nephew, so maybe I just need to date him instead.  ;-) 

Ugh, now I am going to need to buy the DVD of the film - just talking about it has made me want to see it again.  If you're in the Tampa area, stop by for some popcorn and to watch the movie.  Otherwise it's available for rental on Amazon.com for $2.99 or purchase for $9.99.  Anyway, because I loved the name "Stash" when I was in college I made sure to buy Stash teas for my dorm room.  Yes, I was broke but would you like a cup of Stash tea?  So elegant and refined I was at the University of Wisconsin dorms.)

BUT I DIGRESS ... Anyway, I haven't bought Stash Tea in years - so when I saw the "Double Chai" flavor I thought "ah-ha" - I could steep the double chai tea bags in cream and make the mock rice pudding.  INFUSING THE CREAM WITH LUSCIOUS CHAI FLAVOR - EUREKA!  I was a little excited.  OK a LOT excited!

I bought a box of the double chai tea bags and brought them home.  I had the keys to the kingdom of quality chai flavor,  I just knew it!  Chai-infused low carb mock rice pudding, I will create you and make you mine, all mine!  However I didn't have a lot of heavy whipping cream in my house ... for the same reason I don't keep large amounts of candy in the house ... I have no impulse control.  I'd be whipping up cream left and right and dolloping it on everything.  

Scoop of fresh whipped cream on top of my coffee?  Well sure!  Scoop of fresh whipped cream on my berries?  Tasty!  
Scoop of fresh whipped cream on top of my steamed fish?  Ummm... well, uhhh OK.
Scoop of fresh whipped cream on my cats?  Uhhh... well maybe it will make their coats shiny? 
It would be mayhem, I tell you; pure mayhem.  Pure whipped cream dolloped mayhem.  
And my cats would be pissed.  Really pissed. 

I had enough heavy whipping cream to whip up to garnish the chai infused mock rice pudding, but not enough to make the pudding.  However, I did have a pint of half and half that KRG had brought me when I threw a brunch at my house, however none of my guests drank coffee - instead opting for my newly acquired Paradise passion fruit tropical iced tea (same iced tea they sell at Cheesecake Factory restaurant).  I decided that since this was low carb mock rice pudding, what harm could substituting heavy cream with half and half do?  (Let's call this Failure Point #1.) 

The original recipe called for Splenda.  I usually prefer stevia, but I had heard that stevia tastes bitter when baked.  However I had found Pure Via and it said "cup for cup" you could use it like sugar and it had a piece of pie on the label.  I thought "Hmm, maybe this is formulated to not taste bitter?"  So I bought it and instead of using Splenda like I had done in the earlier recipe, I used Pure Via.  (Let's call this Failure Point #2).

I had decided to make a double batch of the low carb mock rice pudding recipe.  (Failure Point #3).  Unfortunately my "Soviet Publix" grocery store only had small curd cottage cheese instead of large curd, which using large curd makes the mock rice pudding taste more like rice pudding.  (Failure Point #4).  

I gently heated the half and half with eight double chai spiced tea bags.

Now if you're going to infuse any liquid with tea bags, do yourself a favor and trim the strings from the tea bags - otherwise you get this result pictured below.  A potential fire hazard.  (That would be a real recipe fail!)

I steeped the tea bags in the gently warmed half and half for about 15 minutes - giving the liquid a nice tawny color.  I let the half and half cool before incorporating it slowly into the eggs.

I proceeded to make the low carb mock rice pudding recipe per the instructions, except subbing the chai-infused half and half for the heavy cream and the Pure Via for Splenda.  I baked it according to the directions.  

The result looked great ...

Puffed and golden and smelling lovely ... I thought "OK I am a Dessert Genius!"  I pulled out a Moroccan-inspired bowl that I purchased from Pier 1 years and years ago.  An excellent chai dessert had to be in an excellent bowl.

I whipped up some heavy whipping cream with some Stevia in the Raw and a splash of vanilla extract.

I took a generous square of the warm mock rice pudding and put in the bowl.  (Yes, that's Paula Deen Stoneware from Walmart.com - oh Paula, you are everywhere.)

I went a little super-size dollop crazy with the whipped cream ... there's chai infused mock rice pudding under there, I swear!


OK from whatever source I learned that baking with stevia gives a bitter taste - they were right!  Instead of the creamy, custardy texture I had had before; I had made dusky (not chai flavored) water-laden scrambled eggs that had a very bitter artificial taste.  The small curd cottage cheese had completely melted into the bad "scrambled eggs" like mix.  It did not have the mock feel of the previous recipe where I had used large curd cottage cheese.

It was like I had cremated my grandfather and sprinkled him on top of over-cooked scrambled eggs and then dumped a bunch of whipped cream on top.  In case you're wondering, I consider that a RECIPE FAIL.

Ohhhh it was so wrong and so disgusting ... I do think if I had used Splenda, only made a single batch and maybe used a blend of Chai Concentrate with Heavy Whipping Cream with large curd cottage cheese that this dish could have had potential.  I did try it when it was completely cooled and it was less bitter than before, but still had a very nasty chemical aftertaste and still no recognizable chai flavor - just dusky, ashy, dirty, old sock taste.  Ugh.

Like my once sweet crush, my vision for a chai-infused low carb mock rice pudding disintegrated before my eyes.  Recipe fail, my friends.

I guess not even I - the great Lily On The Lam - can be perfect all of the time.  Chock this one up to "you live, you learn."  Thank you, Alanis Morrisette. 

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sandwich Tuesday: Low Carb Tea Time Tuna Lemon Dill Canapes

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

If you saw last Tuesday's blog post, you'll know that I have been taking 24-7 Low Carb Diner Blog's posted recipe for low carb coconut flour slider sandwich bread and adding my own twist to it.

I have been a wild inspired maniac trying different flavor combinations.  The spice and extracts cupboard has been ransacked!  This is some serious experimentation, people!

One of my absolute favorite vacations is spending a week sailing on the 65 foot trimaran Yacht Promenade in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).  (Read Captain Kerry's blog here.)  In Roadtown, Tortola, BVI - where the Yacht Promenade departs from - is a terrific spice and gift store called Sunny Caribee.  They have a great collection of spice mixes.  Their packaging is also very cute and makes great gifts.  Luckily they have a mail order store, so I do not have to fly to Tortola every time I need some spices!  (Although if you'd like to pay my airfare, I'd be glad to go on a spice run!)

One of my favorite features from Sunny Caribee is that many of their spice mixes come in refillable grinders.  I did not really pay attention to this until I gave my mother a ginger grinder.  My mother called me, all breathlessly excited and exclaimed: "And when the ginger is all used up, I CAN PUT WHATEVER I WANT INTO IT!  IT'S WONDERFUL!"  

Evidently, a refillable grinder had opened up a new world of joy, decadence and the omnipotent power of CHOICE for my Mother.  All that from a ginger grinder?  Who knew?  So if your mother is like my mother, you could expand her horizons or just all out blow her mind for the low cost of a Sunny Caribee spice grinder.  

In addition to the apparently earth-shattering refillable grinder, for me an added bonus of Sunny Caribee products is that many of their spice mixes are salt-free.  This is one of my biggest annoyances with local spice shops, every spice mix seems to be loaded with salt.  I want to add flavor, not sodium.  I remember one time I was making pizza (OK I was throwing some extra toppings on a frozen pizza).  I had another company's "Tuscan Herbs" grinder mill.  I love Italian seasonings, so I completely doused the top of the pizza in the lovely fresh ground green herbs before sliding it in the oven.  I then turned the grinder around and saw that the first ingredient was salt.  I had turned a perfectly gorgeous large pizza into a massive salt lick.  Ugh.  

My wicked paramour at the time, a rodent we shall call Sergio ... oops I mean a rat we shall call Sergio ... oops I mean a bug we shall call Sergio ... um you get the drift - Anyway Sergio was quite inebriated at the time - this was one of those 1 a.m. pizzas.  He wolfed it down but said "Um, it's kinda salty."  Understatement of the year.  I had taken one bite, had choked and spit it out.  Alcohol can't dull my taste buds' sense of salt!  Needless to say, I hate herb grinders that are filled with salt!  I have a smoked sea salt grinder, a regular sea salt grinder, a Black Hawaiian lava ash something something salt grinder and a Pink Himalayan something something salt grinder - I have lots of salt choices, so keep the salt out of my herbs PLEASE.  Hmmm, sodium-induced rage?  

My favorite Sunny Caribee spices/spice mixes are:  Paradise Pizzazz, Diablo (which does have salt but it is HOT HOT HOT fiery seasoning - use only a tiny bit unless your stomach is lined with asbestos!), Citrus Pepper Plus, Ginger Galore, Jerk Spice and Bloody Mary Mix.  Their "Boursin Bowl" comes with a wooden bowl, a canister of their top-selling Herb Pepper Blend Mix and a "Make Your Own Boursin" cheese recipe.  I have given this as a gift to several friends.  (Who doesn't love Boursin?)  

My all-time favorite Sunny Caribee spice mix (that I use ALL the time) is their salt-free Down Island Dill Spice Mix.  It is incredible and tastes good on everything!  The store also sells crafts, art and soaps.  If you are ever in Roadtown, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, you have to check it out.  Otherwise check out their website.  I find the quality of spices from Sunny Caribee to be far superior to more expensive spice stores in the United States.     

While I wish I were sailing in the British Virgin Islands right now, I am instead in my kitchen ... rummaging through my spices to find flavor combinations for the coconut flour bread.  I spy my favorite Sunny Caribee Down Island Dill Spice Mix and I think "A-ha!  Lemon dill coconut flour bread!"  Unfortunately, I don't have a lemon and I am out of True Lemon packets.  But I did have a bottle of lemon extract.  I have absolutely no memory of purchasing this bottle of lemon extract, but I was glad to find it!  

So I decided to make a lemon dill version of the coconut flour bread recipe.  I added lemon extract and Sunny Caribee's Down Island Dill Seasoning Mix to the batter.      

I wasn't sure if the lemon extract would be too harsh a flavor.  Should I add sweetener to mellow it out?  Nah - let's live on the wild side (or the bitter side?)  Just the lemon extract and Down Island Dill spice mix, no sweetener.  I added a splash of lemon extract - no more than 1/4 a teaspoon.  I did not want to over-power the bread.  I did add a healthy dash of the Down Island Dill spice mix.  If you do not have Down Island Dill, it is a mix of dill, garlic, onion, sesame seeds and other spices.  I would add dill, a dash of garlic powder and a dash of onion powder as a substitute.  

I added the spices and extract to the egg, oil and cream in the coconut flour bread recipe before adding baking powder and coconut flour.  If I were making this lemon dill bread again, I would increase the amount of baking powder because as you will see later the "loaf" was small and lopsided.  I think the lemon extract might have counteracted some of the baking powder, so I would add an extra 1/8th a teaspoon of baking powder.

Speaking of teaspoons, have you seen my new measuring spoons?  If you said "Yes" to this question, I would have to respond with "Stop breaking into my home to check out my kitchen gadgets!  Crazy stalkers!"  

A long time ago, I purchased Matryoshka (Russian Nesting Dolls) Measuring Cups in white from the MoMA Design Store.  Then in February this year, I was in New York City to see Kevin Spacey in Richard III at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.  No trip to New York City is complete without a shopping stop at Pearl River.  I was extremely excited to see that Pearl River also sold the Matryoshka Measuring Cups.  However not only did they carry the white ones that the MoMA Design Store sold, but they had the measuring cups in RED as well!! 

Friends, I have a confession to make.  My name is Lily and I am a shopaholic.  I HAD to have the red measuring cups.  HAD TO.  HAD TO NOW.  It was an urgent, ardent, burning desire that had to be fulfilled.  I rationalized that having the RED Matryoshka dolls were actually more culturally authentic.  "It's an homage to Soviet Russia!", my shopping voice reasoned.  Heaven forbid I turn my back on the opportunity to salute a fallen Communist regime!  My purchasing choices could be construed as a political affront to Mother Russia!  I had no choice - it was extremely important to the global political climate that I buy the red Matryoshka Measuring Cups.  We have world peace thanks to me and my credit card. 

(Side Note #1:  Another amazing trip I took- was over two weeks long where we visited Latvia, Russia, Estonia, Sweden and Finland.  Russia was wild and amazing and beyond most anything I had experienced.  Every morning, our tour manager played Boney M's "Rasputin."  When I was a kid, I was obsessed with World War II History as well as the reign of the last Czar of Russia - the Imperial Romanov family.  Yeah, yeah, I was a big nerd (still am!)  I knew all about Rasputin and  the multiple assassination attempts before they finally succeeded in killing him.  But this damn song is now what I think of whenever I hear "Rasputin."  Thanks a lot Matt, tour manager from Western Australia - you've emotionally scarred me for life!)


(Side Note #2:  Miss C. is now the proud owner of my white Matryoshka Measuring Cups.  So not only did I salute a fallen Communist Nation and restore world peace, but I helped a friend out who had some sort of weird measuring cup accident.  I don't remember all the details, I just know something happened to one of her measuring cups.  Maybe said lost measuring cup became involved in one of those kidnap for ransom schemes... you never know with my friends.)  

I was all set with the red measuring cups in my hot little shopaholic hands when I saw something that made my credit card dance inside my purse.  Pearl River also sold Fred & Friends Matryoshka Measuring Spoons ("M-Spoons") and a Fred & Friends Matryoshka storage container plasticware set ("Store-M's")!!  WHAT?  MORE MATRYOSHKA STUFF?  MINE, MINE, MINE - HAVE TO HAVE IT, MINE, MINE, MINE!    

As you may have surmised ... I bought the M-Spoons and the Store-M's ... Matryoshka Mania!  It was honestly a necessity.  How could I measure out coconut flour with just a plain old measuring spoon?  You feel my pain, don't you?  Anyway so that is the perfectly rational, perfectly not going to be starring on an A&E Reality show story behind my measuring spoons.  (And I love them!!

For the record, I learned while finding the links for the items I just mentioned that Fred & Friends also has a Matryoshka water carafe and kitchen timer.  I have had to take several deep breaths and do a mind focusing exercise to keep me from grabbing my credit card and ordering them online.  It's been a struggle, but I am hanging in there.  Thank you for your prayers and demonstrations of love and support.  Sigh ... I will not buy the water carafe and kitchen timer ... I will not buy the water carafe and kitchen timer...

Away from my insanity and back to the BREAD.  I took the following picture of this mug right after it came out of the microwave.  The steam made it hazy ... it's like my lemon dill coconut flour bread requested a blurry shot to avoid showing its wrinkles.  Who knew my lemon dill coconut flour bread was such a diva Hollywood star?

When I removed the "loaf" from the cup, it was smaller than previous loaves I have made.  It was also floppy and slightly caved in.  It smelled wonderful, but it wasn't winning any points in the looks department.  You'll never be a star, lemon dill loaf!  Ahh sure, you'll play the best friend's frumpy wife or Shoe Store Clerk #3 ... but you'll never play THE LEAD.  You're all washed up in this town before you even started, lemon dill loaf!  

Oh wait, in my kitchen- smell and most importantly, TASTE win out over looks ... lemon dill loaf, there might just be a part for you in my play after all.  The title of my play?  "Lily Eats Lunch."

My new rule with working with coconut flour bread is to make the loaf ahead of time, let it completely cool and dry out a bit.  The reason I do this is that the "bread" tends to have a cake-like texture, so I am doing whatever I can to make it more like bread and less like cake.  I find that drying out the very moist bread overnight, slicing it thin and toasting it before use helps make it seem more like a wheat flour bread.  I made this bread the day before.  You can see in the picture below that I didn't tap the mug to get rid of air bubbles before I "baked" it in the microwave.  Listen, if my food pictures were perfect I'd question why I was not working as a top food photographer ... so in my food pic imperfection, I am actually illustrating that I made the correct career choice vs. trying to be a food photographer.  My career?  Rodeo barrel clown.  (Or is it barrel rodeo clown?  Or rodeo clown in a barrel?

I was really happy that the dill was so evenly distributed within the baked coconut flour bread.  (I am less happy admitting that proper dill distribution makes me really happy.)

I toasted the lemon dill bread to further dry out the bread and try to add a slight crunch.  (Picture above - untoasted and sad.  Picture below - toasted and golden - everyone looks better with a tan!)

I took a can of tuna packed in water and drained it.  My cats climbed on top of each other to build a tower of cats to try to swat the remains of the tuna juice out of my hands.  My kitchen is like wandering into a cat ninja hideout.  Always keep your wits about you and don't forget your nunchucks.  You never know when a gang of roving cats are going to take you down.  That's pretty much my life's philosophy.   

After appeasing the cats by giving them the drained "tuna juice," I added 1 teaspoon of my basil lime mayonnaise and a few shakes of dried onion pieces.  Only add dry onion if you're going to let the tuna salad sit in the fridge for awhile - allowing the onion time to soften up.  Otherwise you will bite down on hard onion bits.  Unless you're into that- and if so, more power to you!  

I normally would also add more Down Island Dill to the tuna salad, but I left it out to see if I could taste the dill in the coconut flour bread.  I really liked the flavor of this bread.  Some may prefer putting a packet of sweetener in the batter, but I liked it just the way it was.  Next time I make this recipe, I'd like to try putting in a packet of True Lemon and/or some lemon zest to really intensify the lemon flavor.  I would put more dill in the batter too or fresh dill.  

I put the tuna salad in-between the two slices of lemon dill bread, but then decided I'd rather have two open-faced canapés instead.

Here are my two lovely open-faced "Low Carb Tea Time Tuna Lemon Dill Canapes."  I call them "Tea Time" because on the first taste of this open-faced sandwich I thought "Wow, this tastes like something I would have at a tea room."  The lemon and dill flavors really makes this little slider seem more rich and "deluxe" than just a regular old open-faced mini sandwich ... hence the "canapé" title.  If I were throwing a party, I'd whip up several different flavors of seasoned coconut flour bread.  I'd then slice the loaves thin - toast or fry the slices- and serve with a variety of toppings.  Cute, savory and lush tasting cocktail appetizers or tea snacks.  Fancy, fancy, fancy - and better yet, easy, easy, easy to make!   

Sure my particular tuna canapés may not be the most pretty to look at - if I were a food stylist, I would have tried to pipe the tuna salad in a lovely little swirly tower and added sprigs of fresh dill on top of them as a garnish.  But the tag line of LilyOnTheLam.com is "Hi, my name is Lily - and I'm the world's worst food stylist/food photographer."  Maybe I should put that in the header for this blog.  Truth in advertising, people!

I am crazy about this lemon dill coconut flour bread (and matryoshka doll kitchen gadgets too)!  If you decide to try this recipe, please let me know your thoughts about it in the comments section.

P.S.  I wrote this blog post several weeks before I posted it online.  Talking about Sunny Caribee and how much the Yacht Promenade is one of my favorite vacations to take EVER really made me miss sailing with Captains Kerry and Bazza on their gorgeous 65 foot trimaran.  About a week after I wrote this blog post, I emailed Captain Kerry and booked a cabin for 10 nights in 2013.  I will be counting the days!  So look forward to some British Virgin Islands LilyOnTheLam.com blog posts in 2013! 

Disclaimer - I do not receive any compensation for saying how much I love Yacht Promenade and Sunny Caribee in the blog post above.  It's a pure love from my heart!  (And my honest, uncompensated opinion.)

However regarding Google Affiliate Ads (see box below), if you do buy anything from the Google Affiliate Ads; I may be eligible for some sort of tiny finder's fee ... so reader consider yourself advised ... Lily likes money to fund her shopping trips, so a little blog advertising is necessary ...

Too bad Google Affiliate Ads do not have Russian Nesting Doll Measuring Spoons... but here's some cute heart ones instead.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Consider Yourself Invaded Canada!

Dear LilyOnTheLam.com Readers:

By the time this blog post has been published, I will have slipped past the United States - Canada border for my Summer 2012 campaign to increase Canadian readership.  (Read more about my fiendish plan here and here.)

Canada has been #7 in countries by LilyOnTheLam.com readership for months now.  The Netherlands has been chasing that #7 spot, but has Canada been upping their readership dramatically?  Ohhhh no.  Shame, shame, shame on you, Canada!!  My neighbor to the North has not been giving LilyOnTheLam.com the time and attention it so righteously deserves.  Am I not good enough for you, Canada?  Do I have to sprinkle some "eh's" into my vernacular?  What's this really all aboot? 

Canada, I am the monkey who has your ice cream cone and I am NOT letting go!

Photo Credit - LilyOnTheLam.Com - Delhi Zoo, December 2011

Time for Canada to start reading LilyOnTheLam.Com or else! 

Stay tuned to LilyOnTheLam.com to discover where in Canada I am conducting my "READ LILY ON THE LAM NOW!" campaign!

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Don't Mock Me - I'm Eating Low Carb Mock Rice Pudding!

Hello LilyOnTheLam.com Readers:

In my low carb cooking and baking recipe research, I have found a lot of "mock" recipes - using zucchini or tofu noodles instead of pasta, using zucchini instead of apples, using cauliflower instead of potatoes and even using it as the crust of a pizza.  

I like black bean "burgers" and portobello mushrooms instead of an English muffin for a crab melt, but I don't think the "burger" tastes like meat and mushrooms don't taste like bread to me.  I like zucchini "noodles" with a raw pasta sauce (like a fresh tomato salsa), but I'll never think it's a plate of fresh semolina noodles.  

So when I saw a "mock" rice pudding recipe online where the author claimed that it was better than real rice pudding, I put on my skeptic's hat.  I put on an even bigger skeptic's hat when I saw that the "mock rice" was cottage cheese.  How was that going to taste like rice pudding?

But I love, love, love desserts - and a good, hot rice pudding filled with cinnamon and topped with fresh whipped cream is definitely a comfort food dessert that I crave now and again.  I have been avoiding sugar which means I have been avoiding my beloved desserts too.  A truly sad state of affairs.  Could this mock rice pudding give me the same homey, delicious satisfaction of a real rice pudding?  I thought it was worth a shot, but I was a Doubting Thomas ... um, a Doubting Lily

I saw a recipe for "Nancy's Mock Rice Pudding" on the website "Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes."  I wasn't sure who Nancy was, but I hoped it wasn't "Nancy who likes to fool internet readers - the mock means she's mocking you!"

I reviewed the recipe - eggs, heavy cream (remember low carb does not necessarily equal low calorie!), cinnamon ... basic elements of a rice pudding, but no rice.  The recipe also said you could add 1/2 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses to add flavor without too many added carbs.  I did not have molasses, so I left this out.  I prefer to use Stevia as my sweetener, the recipe calls for Splenda.  I have heard that Stevia gets bitter-tasting when baked, so I decided to just follow the recipe.  I only used about half the amount of Splenda though.  I prefer a less sweet rice pudding and I knew I'd be topping it with full fat fresh whipped cream.  

I would like to try using a different sweetener - perhaps erythritol- instead of Splenda, the next time I make this recipe.  I like golden raisins in my rice pudding.  I added a few tablespoons to the recipe.  This increases the carb count, so if you're strictly watching your carbs you may want to leave the raisins out.  I also added a healthy dash of fresh ground nutmeg and ground ginger in addition to the cinnamon listed in the recipe.

The recipe lists baking the mock rice pudding in large or small casserole rounds (ramekins).  However I purchased an aqua speckle 9 inch x 9 inch Paula Deen stoneware casserole baking pan from Walmart.com that I wanted to try out.  What's more homey and Paula Deen-style than a dessert chock full of heavy whipping cream?  This 9x9 stoneware casserole is HUGE.  I seriously wonder if the 9 inch x 9 inch is measured the same way Paula Deen measures butter - generously!  I need to break out the measuring tape and see if it really is truly 9 inches x 9 inches.  It seems much larger.  

I poured the mock rice pudding "batter" into the greased stoneware casserole.  The pudding was very shallow because of my huge pan, but I was determined to use my new Paula Deen stoneware!  For best results, use a smaller baking dish than I did for a thicker pudding.  Unless you too have a Paula Deen stoneware dish you want to break in - then by all means, use it!  

I baked the mock rice pudding for 70 minutes as indicated in the recipe.  The recipe also suggests stirring the pudding halfway through the baking process to evenly distribute the cottage cheese.  However my pudding was baking in such a thin layer that I didn't think the cottage cheese and raisins falling to the bottom of the dish would be a big deal.

The house smelled wonderful while this dessert was baking - cinnamon is such a great aroma.  I have not used my regular sized oven (I'm a toaster oven girl) in months ... maybe even longer.  I wanted to run up and down the halls of my condo screaming "Hey, I'm using the BIG OVEN - not the toaster oven!  Look at me!  I'm BAKING!  No eating Greek yogurt over the kitchen sink!  I'm a CHEF!"  However, my neighbors (most of whom are on the high end of geriatric ... um that means they are really old, not that they are high on marijuana) already think I am a man-crazy, crazy-crazy floozy gal.  Running down the halls screaming about cottage cheese as rice would probably not elevate their opinion of me.    

After 70 minutes, I pulled out the baked mock rice pudding.  It puffed up and had a nice golden color.

Feel free to "ooh" and "aah" over my gorgeous aqua speckle Paula Deen Stoneware

The mock rice pudding certainly smelled like the real thing.  My home smelled wonderful-- cozy, comfort food nirvana!  A good dessert (or one that I hoped was good) deserves a fancy dish.  So voila, my dragonfly bowl from Oahu, Hawaii.  (LilyOnTheLam trivia - Lily's favorite Hawaiian island?  Kaua'i.)  

I cut the thin pudding into nine squares.  The recipe gives the calorie count for 4 or 6 servings.  I used two squares as my serving.  

I stacked the two pieces of mock rice pudding on top of each other.  You can see the large curd cottage cheese bits in the picture below.  No, large curd cottage cheese does not look like rice!

About five minutes before the mock rice pudding was done baking, I poured 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream in my stand mixer.  This will make around 1 cup of whipped cream - a generous amount to top the rice pudding squares.  To the whipping cream, you could add vanilla or almond extract (about 1/8 tsp if you're using almond extract or 1/4 tsp. if using vanilla extract) and 1-3 packets of sweetener.  

I personally prefer to whip the cream without any flavoring or sweetener.  I place the unflavored whipped cream on top of a dessert and then sprinkle 1/3 - 1/2 of a packet of Stevia in the Raw on top of the unflavored, unsweetened whipped cream.  This is just my preference - I don't like overly sweetened whipped cream.  Sprinkling the Stevia on top of the whipped cream adds the right amount of sweetness for me. 

I also like to whip the cream until it is very thick and solid - a few minutes away from butter!  (See below)

I topped the warm mock rice pudding with a generous scoop of unflavored, unsweetened whipped cream and then sprinkled some Stevia in the Raw on the cream.  Ahhhh it smelled so good, I could not wait to take the first bite!

The Verdict?:  Is there such a thing as Rice Pudding-flavored cheesecake?  This warm mock rice pudding did really taste like rice pudding with a cheesecake like twist.  OK rice pudding where the rice had been blended until smooth.  I agree with Linda of Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes - this really is better tasting than rice pudding.  Sometimes rice pudding is made with a starchier variety of rice and the rice pudding can have a wallpaper paste like texture.  You won't find that taste here.  The golden raisins really did make this mock rice pudding taste like real rice pudding.  Had I left out the golden raisins I think this would have tasted more like hot cheesecake.  It was very rich - especially with the fresh whipped cream topping.  

Linda says she prefers to eat this rice pudding cold.  I ate it both ways (I'm doing it all for you, LilyOnTheLam.com readers!)  I like it both ways, but my preference is eating it warm with the whipping cream starting to melt down the sides.  Very rich.  Very delicious.

I tip my hat to you "Mock Rice Pudding Recipe," you really do taste like rice pudding.  A+++ recipe.  I would make you all the time, except as I said above "Low carb does not equal low calorie."  With one cup of heavy whipping cream in the recipe (plus extra for topping), this is definitely a once in awhile dessert.  I walked eight miles today, so I don't feel too bad eating it though.  Who would have guessed a mock recipe really does taste better than the real thing?

Maybe it's time I try that cauliflower for pizza crust recipe from YourLighterSide.com after all ...         

P.S. There is such a thing as rice pudding cheesecake!  Check out a recipe from Kraft Foods here and a recipe for a pretty awesome looking one on Free Spirit Eater

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I love my Paula Deen stoneware - good quality and attractive.