Archive for May, 2012

In the relentless quest to find interesting things to eat, I discovered a quick and easy way to make crunchy cheese chips that you can have in any phase of the Atkins Diet. You can make these in a pan but it’s a lot of work and it ends up messy. It’s possible, and I’ve done it. But if you have a non-stick quesadilla maker, this is a snap. If you plan to maintain a low carb lifestyle, it’s worth your while to get one of these machines.

First, turn on and spray your non-stick machine. After a few minutes to warm it up, Sprinkle one cup of shredded cheese over the bottom of the maker. You can use anything. I chose cheddar. Close the lid and let it cook.

Give it  3 or 4 minutes. When it looks like the picture above, it’s safe to shut the machine off.  What’s important is to just walk away. Let it cool. 

In this close up picture, you will see the grease in the cheese. If you let it cool long enough (not cold, just cooled) you can pull off the chips in pieces, or one sheet, and blot the heck out of it with paper towels. I know with low carb diets we don’t have to concentrate too much on fat content but I figure if you can blot it off, you should.

Once blotted and cooled they will harden and become crunchy. A challenge in low carb diets is finding crunchy salty stuff. We here you have it.

This makes six big pieces. 4 carbs for the whole batch so each one is just .67 carbs. Not bad. They’re pretty big. If you dip them in a spoonful of sour cream you’re still on track and it will feel just like old times eating  Nachos.

These keep well in the fridge. They retain their crunch cold so not to worry. I hope you enjoy the newest recipe.

Happy Eating!

-Tracy

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Let me first say that this is the one week mark since I started the Atkins Diet. I weighed in at 4.8 lbs less than last Sunday! Woo hoo! I know myself and know full well I need to keep creating new recipes to make this work for me long-term.

I posted about Low Carb Custard Bites the other day. It was a fun recipe and did the trick for providing something yummy. However, as I spent the next couple of days trying to make them creamier and tastier I came up with this new tweaked recipe. It’s something I plan to make often and keep on hand. Extra ingredients, different method. Better recipe.

They’re quick and easy and only about 3 carbs or less each. This recipe will make two. You could easily double the recipe to same time. They keep well in the fridge and have the same glossy feel as a much more fattening “real” custard or flan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cooking spray into 2 ramekins or custard cups. Half fill a baking pan with hot water.

Ingredients:

Pinch of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cinnamon,1 tbl  heavy cream, 3 eggs, 2 and  1/2 packets of Splenda, 1/4 tsp coconut extract, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Put the eggs, cream, 2 Splenda packets, coconut and vanilla extract and cinnamon in a blender and mix it well for 30 seconds. Pour this mix into the prepared ramekins. It makes exactly 2. Fill about 1/2 full. Sprinkle with half packet  (or less) of Splenda and a pinch of nutmeg. Place the ramekins in the hot water bath.

Bake for about 28 minutes or until they are  golden brown and firm and an inserted life comes out clean.

They are great warm or cold but I prefer well chilled.

Good luck and happy eating!

Tracy

Visit again for new recipes and don’t forget to check out my AMAZON PAGE to see all my fiction currently for sale.

From Rebounddogs.wordpress.com

WHEN LOVE TURNS A CORNER

PUBLISHED MAY 27, 2012 BY CARLY G

Until a couple of weeks ago, all the times I’ve seen Ryan were on his turf, in his world.

Whenever I go to see him, there are no real life trappings around me. No dog, no cat, no teenage daughter, no house to clean, no food to cook. No snow. California is warm and sunny and pretty. It always feels like a long overdue vacation. If you’ve read my previous blogs, this whole relationship has been wonderfully romantic and magical.

Ryan has tried to stress to me the importance of my seeing it as it really is and I’ve argued that I AM seeing it that way, that my eyes are wide open.

But when Ryan came to visit Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago,  in my world, it was a whole different experience.

It was his first time in Massachusetts and his first time on an airplane as a matter of fact. He took a red-eye flight in hopes he’d sleep through it and avoid the angst of flying. He barely slept at all. I picked him up at 8 AM at Logan Airport. He was pleasant but tired. We got back to my place and Henry and Lily immediately claimed him as their own. He sat on the couch, covered in mammals and fell asleep.

He finally got to meet Ivy. In my mind, I suppose I was still looking to secure her a father, someone to look up to, to confide in. Ryan and I had often talked about how, despite our geographical distance, we were a family now. And I’d insert silently in my fairy tale mentality, “we’ll live happily ever after.” It’s become apparent that Ivy is more realistic and grounded than I am when it comes to fantasy. She wants none of it. Now is now for her. No projecting, no pretending. She was pleasant to Ryan.  There was no arguing but not much warmth either.

I’ve seen a few types of teens and how they react when their parents bring men or women home. There are the girls who will be pleasant and sweet and welcoming, and accept everyone without question. There are those who will hate whoever arrives, without discrimination or fairness. And then there are the Ivys. She’s pretty much hated everyone I’ve met, in short order; but ultimately her instincts have proven true. Out of three kinds of kids, I’d prefer honesty and fair judgement even if it’s just her opinion.

By Ryan’s first night here, he got the sniffles which turned into a cold and fever. Over the next couple of days, he developed a cough. And then there was the issue of weather. It was supposed to be 60s and raining. But instead it was in the 80s and sunny, then 60s and rainy, then 70s and rainy. He got to see how we New Englander’s live on a day-to-day basis.It was not like the California visits. Not by a long shot.

One night he woke up at 3AM coughing so badly he couldn’t fall back asleep and ended up sleeping on the recliner. He woke me up around eight in the morning the next day. Ivy was at school. He sat and gave me the “We have to talk” look. I was afraid. I’ve had a few of those morning talks where someone wakes up and decides I’m too much.  I was the Massachusetts Carly here.  Scattered and busy and dripping with dependent mammals. He’d acted a little cool since he’d gotten here, more reserved. I felt like now that he’d seen this me, not the carefree California Carly, well I was more than he’d bargained for.

“You know, you’re a lot more entrenched in this life than I realized,” he said. “Moving out to California is going to be a much bigger deal than you realize. Letting go of all this. You’ve got a whole life here.”

“Of course I do. I have an identity. I just want to be with you so I’ll give this all up someday and move out there. It’s okay.” I’m not sure how it looked from his end, but for me, I felt everything flash before my eyes. This was surely his way of ending things, of letting me down easy. When he reads this blog, I’m sure he’ll be surprised that I was going through all that, in my head, because it wasn’t his intention.

He merely wanted me to start seeing everything for what it was. A real relationship with a future where it’s not all heart and flowers. Where Ivy may never be thrilled with our relationship, where my relocating is going to rip my heart out, where one or both of us may sometimes be sick and not perky. I’m not sure why, but at first that realization rattled me. The voices of exes echoed in my brain, “You can’t handle it when a relationship becomes real! As soon as the romance turns real you run!”

I looked to Ryan. In that moment, we turned a corner. It was hard corner for me. Like I was letting go of one stage to move onto the next. I was nervous the next couple of days, the rest of his visit. I was still on eggshells, on some level sure that he was moving toward a different step, of running himself. I couldn’t be sure. I just knew I was afraid and it was another reminder of how much more he means to me than anyone else has.

But it was all fine. He went back home. I got some sleep, his cold got better. And we resumed our normal routine of nightly long phone calls and texts and emails and IMs during the day. But it’s been different for me since then. It feels more secure and permanent. The veil of fantasy was lifted and I’m truly happy with the future that is underneath.

Here’s to building a solid future-a real future.

-Carly

For more on the life and writings of the real Carly G please see her WEBSITE or her Amazon Author Page.

I started the Atkins diet On Sunday after a long hiatus in which I gained back some weight.  About 14 years ago I lost 60 lbs on Atkins and kept it off for all but the last few years. I didn’t gain it all back but enough that my clothes are too tight and I feel lousy. I’ve been caught in a carb and sugar spiral lately so a few days ago I said, “I’m DONE!” and went full force into starting the diet again.

I’ve lost 4 pounds since Sunday (this is Thursday) so I’m feeling encouraged.

If you need to know the basics about Atkins, then click HERE. This blog is just to post a new recipe I created which I’ve VERY pleased with.

They’re quick and easy and only about 6 carbs in the whole batch. Each one is only a 1/2 carb.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cooking spray into mini muffin tins.

Ingredients:

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp  cinnamon

1 tbl  heavy cream

3 eggs

1 1/2 packets of Splenda

Put the eggs, cream, 1 Splenda packet and cinnamon in a blender and mix it well for a few seconds. Pour this mix into the tins. It makes exactly 12. Fill about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with half packet of Splenda and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until they are puffed up and golden brown and firm.

They are great warm or cold. They don’t have the true glossy custard texture but they are very good.

Next time, I may add coconut extract. If I do I’ll write an update.

Good luck and happy eating!

Tracy

Visit again for new recipes and don’t forget to check out my AMAZON PAGE to see all my fiction currently for sale.


I have two dogs. Anna is my 6 year old Mini Schnauzer and Lily is my 11 month old Piggy Yorkie. No, Piggy Yorkie is not a new hybrid, she’s just an exceptionally large dog for her breed, 11 pounds begat from 6 pound parents. Anna goes through phases of being housebroken. Locked in her small hallway, she’s fine all day. She usually sleeps through the night and on the rare occasions she doesn’t. she wakes me up to take her out. Well, at least that’s how it used to be.

I got Lily last summer and Anna has regressed. Lily was pad trained when I got her, and still is, mostly. But she also sometimes urinates on the rug near the pad, or nowhere near it. I was pretty proud of both of them for a while as they had the run of the first floor and there were no visible messes, even on the pee pad (for Lily, Anna won’t use them).  But then the oriental rug under the dining room table started to smell like a barn and I figured it out.

I sequestered them back in their hallway during the day, covered the oriental runner in plastic, and put down a pad. Okay good, that works. But overnight? Inevitably, someone jumps off the bed in the middle of the night in secret and I awake to mysterious circles on the rug. I will say the carpet shampoo manufacturers LOVE me.

I’d just about given up hope and started having fantasies that the dogs would get kidnapped, made into Schnauzer and Piggy Yorkie coats. Then one day I was rubbing Lily’s tummy and noticed her nipples were swollen. It was then I remembered that I had never gotten her fixed. I’d meant to but…and no she’s not pregnant, just in heat.

To prevent even more damage to my carpet I went to Wal-Mart and picked up some doggy underwear, or diapers. They only had one brand available, and it came in a two pack. Pink and purple. They velcro on and you stick panty liners in them. Okay so that’s easy enough. And honestly, Lily looked pretty cute in hers. I got to thinking that when she was wearing it, she wouldn’t be likely to pee her panties and that would housebreak her.

I thought what the heck, why not slap the second pair on Anna and my overnights would be pee free? The first night, Lily was restless. The second night, it was Anna who did not like the clothing. But two nights in a row? Clean rugs!

Within a few days, Anna seemed to get use to night diapers and Lily found ways to wriggle out of them within seconds.  Lily has a long body and whoever docked her tail (not a practice I approve of but she was that way when I got her) cut it too short. As such, the panties don’t stay on very well. With the smallest amount of wriggling, they slide right down her skinny little butt.

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I started this experiment. Lily has stopped menstruating so she doesn’t need the pads anymore, and obviously Anna never did. I still put them on both dogs every night.

I say I’ve cut accidents by about 50%. It would be higher if Lily’s were harder for her to get off. And the upside is that if Lily does get up in the middle of the night, she mostly uses the pad. People use crates and leashes and lots of other ways to train their dogs, but for me, this seems the least restrictive.

I’m hoping that if i keep this up another couple of weeks then let them sleep diaper free, I’ll finally wake up to clean carpets. I’ll keep everyone posted but for now, so far so good.

I’ll post updates as I have them.

-Tracy

To see all the work Tracy currently has for sale, please go to her AMAZON PAGE.

I come from a background where alcoholism and drug addiction were rampant. I saw a lot of lives ruined, some quickly, some gradually over the course of decades. As such, I always get a little paranoid if I drink. I  wonder if it’s too much, or too often. For anyone who knows me, I hardly ever drink. Sometimes at Cons, always at NECon, but not much in between. I get tipsy pretty quickly, usually after one drink.

In the last several months, I’ve noticed I really haven’t had anything to drink. I’ve also noticed my writing has just about dropped off entirely. There have been bursts of creativity but mostly I’m down for the count. I’ve also put on weight so I  feel like a sloth slugging along staring at a blank page. munching leaves and willing words to appear.

Maybe I need to lighten up, accept that a drink here and there won’t hurt me and it really does kind of go hand in hand with writing. If you ever go to a writers’ conference you will see that. Everyone doesn’t abuse it and there are some who abstain entirely, but for the most part, it’s part of the process, even if only a small part. Maybe it helps calm a person so all the random creative thoughts can be compartmentalized into chapters or characters.  Hemingway and Fitzgerald were examples of what not to do in terms of imbibing, but damn if they didn’t produce some amazing fiction.

There’s something to be said for using a supplement to move the creative process along I think, within reason. Sure, people can get carried away and an occasional glass of wine can spiral into gallons but hell, people can choke to death on sandwiches, or OD on Nutella or warm chocolate brownies.

Liquor has been used for centuries to plod writers and artists along. Without it, our libraries (except for the non-fiction sections) would be barren.  I like Lucid Absinthe a lot and even in small quantities (half a shot) it alters my perception a bit. That’s all well and good but it also puts me to sleep in a matter of minutes. That’s certainly not going to up my word count.

Lots to consider as I face most of the weekend alone in my house with my MAC taunting me, begging for some keyboard activity that doesn’t involve Facebook news feeds and comments.

I will be in Foxboro all day tomorrow 9am-3pm with members of the NEHW if anyone wants to stop by. For details, click HERE. I’ll have books, bread and butter pickles and strawberry jam for sale.

Have a great weekend all and here’s to perpetuating the stereotype.

-Tracy

To see all the work Tracy currently has for sale, please go to her AMAZON PAGE.

I’ve been making bread and butter pickles for the last couple of years but am always looking for variations. A couple of weeks ago I combined a few different recipes and came up with the one below. I’ve also included some step by step pictures to ease the process.

Always start by sterilizing your jars and lids. I put the jars, even brand-new ones, in the dishwasher. The lids should be placed in boiling then a hot water bath till you use them.

The ingredients I used were:

4 lbs or 15 cups pickling cukes, cut in 1/4 slices, 4 medium onions sliced thin, 1/3 cup Kosher salt, 4 and 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 cups brown sugar plus 1 cup white granulated sugar, 3 tbls mustard seeds, 1 and 1/2 tsp celery seeds, 1 and 1/2 tsp ground tumeric, 1 and 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, 1 and 1/2 tsp ground ginger.

First, wash your cucumbers. Cut the ends off and use a mandolin to make the rippled edges. This is optional but it just doesn’t feel like a pickle to me if they aren’t ridged. Set the mandolin to make them 1/4 inch slices. This way they will have the perfect crunch texture. 

Next, slice the onions. Layer the cucumber slices and onions in a large glass or metal bowl with crushed ice. Toss with 1/3 cup salt. Some recipes call for more salt or soaking in water instead of ice. I’ve tried them all and this is the method and measurement I prefer. Cover the bowl in a wet towel and put something heavy on top. I use my flour canister. Leave them for 90 minutes or so.

After enough time has lapsed, rinse your cuke/onion mix. Rinse three times if you need to. Too much salt will ruin the whole recipe. Since these pickles are sour and tangy, salt flavor shouldn’t be evident.

Fill a canning pot with water to a level just higher than the jar tops and turn the stove on high. While that is reaching a boil…

Combine all your ingredients except the cukes and onions in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiled, pour in the (well rinsed!) vegetable mix. Bring that to a boil, which will take some time. About 20 minutes or so. You’ll know they’re done when they go from dark green to the caterpillar green pickle color.

Ladle this mix into waiting clean jars. Leave 1/2 inch head space. Cover with the hot lids (waiting in the pot of water) and screw on the bands. Don’t make them too tight but do tighten them. In this last batch, I had a jar open up on me when I took them out of the canner when they were done.

Once the water boils again, start your timer at 10 minutes. When they are done, take them out and set them on a dishcloth to cool. Don’t open them until they are completely cooled. I usually wait until the next day. This yields about 5 pint jars.

  Next step, enjoy!

To see Tracy’s other recipes, check out her Writer’s Kitchen or Canning page. For more information on her fiction writing, please go to her AMAZON PAGE.