Strawberry swirl cheesecake

I followed this recipe with these changes: Instead of the crust in the recipe, I used these cookies pulsed in the food processor to make crumbs (1 1/2 cups of crumbs) mixed with 6 Tbsp. of melted butter and baked at 375 for 7 minutes. I added 1 tsp. of vanilla to the filling recipe. Instead of the cranberry sauce, I used 1/2 cup of this jam.

In general, the variation turned out well. The crust was just a touch dry (skip the prebaking?) and I missed the tanginess of the cranberries (add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the jam before swirling it in? increase the lemon juice in the cream cheese mixture or add some sour cream to it to make it tangier?).

Standard

Eggplant casserole

I had 5 japanese eggplant in the fridge and about 4 cups of tomato-meat sauce in the freezer so I made this.

Melt some pork fat on a large baking sheet. (I’d normally use olive oil but eggplant sucks up a fair bit of fat so I decided to go with pork fat. It tasted very nice.) Slice the eggplant lengthwise – I got 4-5 slices per eggplant. Toss the eggplant with the pork fat and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the slices in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake at 350, turning once, until the slices are nicely browned and soft in some spots, crisp in others.

In a lasagna pan, layer the eggplant with the meat sauce and grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese. After the last sauce layer, apply a thicker layer of cheese. Bake at 350 until the casserole is heated through and the cheese begins to brown.

Standard

Low carb chocolate pecan pie bars

Admittedly the only thing that’s low cost about this recipe is that I used only ingredients I had on hand, but I made low carb chocolate pecan pie bars tonight. My changes: guar gum instead of xanthan gum (like usual  – I probably have about 5 years worth of guar gum at the rate I use it now), plain erythritol instead of swerve, 70% cacao chocolate chips instead of chopped bar.

I waited until the bars were almost cool to try one. So good! Knowing that I can occasionally have amazing things like these makes it easier to contemplate staying low-carb long-term.

A more detailed review: The cooling effect of the xylitol and erythritol is quite noticeable, but not unpleasant. The caramel layer is quite thick – I might increase the crust measurements and bake the bars in a 9×13 pan next time.

I’m tempted to add a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg to this recipe.

 

When I tried to cut them while they were still warm, they didn’t cut easily. Cutting them with a sharp knife after they were fully cool worked much better.

Standard

Strawberry-xylitol jam

Based on this recipe. Lemon juice is the only type of juice I have in the house so I substituted lemon juice and water for the juice the recipe called for. I made this using the 4 lb/$5 strawberries from the market – it’s noticeably blander than the jam I’ve made with in-season berries, but still better than store-bought.

4 cups (1000 ml) crushed strawberries (I started with about 9 cups of frozen strawberries)

1/4 cup (250 ml) lemon juice

3/4 cup water

1 pkg (49 g) BERNARDIN® No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin

1 1/2 cups xylitol

1/2 tsp stevia

• Place 6 clean 250 ml mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Heat SNAP LID® sealing discs in hot water, not boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and sealing discs hot until ready to use.

• Crush strawberries one layer at a time. Measure crushed strawberries, lemon juice, and water into a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Whisk in No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin until dissolved.

• Stirring constantly, bring fruit mixture to a boil over high heat.

• Add xylitol and stevia and return mixture to a boil.

• Stirring frequently, boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Skim foam.

• Quickly ladle hot jam into a hot jar to within 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more jam. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining jam.

• When canner is filled, ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time. Boil for 5 minutes.

• When processing time is complete, remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes, then remove jars without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.

• After cooling check jar seals. Sealed discs curve downward and do not move when pressed. Remove screw bands; wipe and dry bands and jars. Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as desired. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place. For best quality, use home canned foods within one year.

Standard

Tuna muffins

I followed this recipe, omitting the celery (because I’m out) and replacing the green bell pepper with roasted jalapenos. I baked it in a small loaf pan. I ate it with tartar sauce (diced dill pickle mixed with mayo) and roasted cauliflower. Yum!

Standard

Coconut-pecan cookies

This recipe, from The Joy of Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Baking, didn’t work for me as-written. I did bake 6 cookies using the crumbly batter that the recipe produced – they tasted sweeter than I’d prefer and had a dry, crumbly texture. I was using my homemade maple-flavoured syrup, which is a bit thicker than the commercial stuff I bought, so that might have caused part of the problem. Based on the spacing the recipe recommends, I would have expected the cookies to spread, but they didn’t. After the 6 not-so-good cookies, I added a second egg and 1/4 cup of melted butter to the batter. The resulting cookies were definitely better, although I don’t think I’ll make them again. Here’s the recipe with my changes.

(The book is well worth buying or borrowing from the library. I especially recommend reading the section on why they choose the sweeteners that they do. Incidentally, I also recommend reading The Low Carb Gourmet for her explanation of the sweeteners she chooses. I haven’t picked up Canadian Sweet and Low (sodium cyclamate) yet, but I’d like to try it based on her recommendation.)

1 cup pecan flour

1 1/4 cups coconut flour

1 1/2 cups generic Splenda

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup melted butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup soy milk

1/4 cup sugar-free maple-flavoured syrup

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Toast the coconut flakes in a dry pan until they’re golden. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the pecan flour, coconut flour, sweetener, and baking powder until well-combined. Stir in the coconut flakes.

Whisk the eggs, butter, milk, syrup, and vanilla together in a large bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the mixture. The batter should be thick and sticky.

Form cookies with 1 heaping tablespoon of batter each. Arrange them on the baking sheet fairly close together. It will take 2-3 batches to use all the batter.

Bake the cookies for 6 minutes then rotate the pan. Continue baking for 6-8 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5-7 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Standard

Coffee

I’ve been buying fair trade coffee for almost as long as I’ve been drinking coffee. I drink decaf because of a long-ago ulcer. I’m running low on the coffee I bought before I started my budget, so I started looking into alternatives. I tried some coffee from bulk barn that was on sale for $8/lb. It wasn’t very good. This week, a fair trade coffee I like went on sale for $12/lb. I bought a bag. I calculated the cost of a pot (I use 6 Tbsp of grounds for a 1 litre french press) and it’s $1. Given that I don’t drink coffee every day and I’ve avoided drinking coffee away from home,  it seems like a reasonable expense. 

Standard