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Green Bean Casserole - Low Carb, Gluten-Free

GBC is one of my favorite side dishes. Heck, I could just eat it as my meal and be happy. I never liked the mushrooms that came along in the cream of mushroom soup, though. Between wanting to avoid both mushrooms and canned cream-of-anything soup, I started making my own GBC from scratch a few years ago. The first time was for Thanksgiving, and I successfully made a GBC that was totally gluten-free. But this year I wanted it to also be low-carb. It wasn't hard at all and I am so happy with how it turned out.

Green Bean Casserole

First, prepare the onions:

3 medium or 2 large Onions, sliced thinly
1/3 cup Almond Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Refined Coconut Oil (soft or liquid)

Combine all ingredients and spread in a baking dish. Bake at 475 for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice during baking so they cook evenly. Set aside when done.

Next, prepare the green beans:

Steam 1-1.5 lbs green beans until just tender, then rinse with cold water to stop them cooking.

Make up the creamy sauce:

3 T Butter
3 T Oat Fiber
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Stock or Broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
1 tsp Glucomannan, Xanthan Gum, or half of each
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper

Melt butter on medium-heat. (At this point, if you are a mushroom person, you could add chopped mushrooms and saute them in the butter until done.) Add oat fiber. Add cream and broth, whisking quickly. Sprinkle gum/gluccie very slowly, whisking well to incorporate it. Let it come to a bubble and it'll thicken up. Add garlic, salt and pepper, whisk for a minute more, then remove from heat.

Combine the green beans with the cream sauce, and add half of the onions. Spread into a 13x9 pan. Top with remaining onions. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and serve.

No-Bake Cheesecake - Low Carb, Sugar Free

My dad requested cheesecake for dessert on Thanksgiving this year. I was happy to oblige, but our chickens have not been laying many eggs and I didn't have enough for my usual cheesecake recipe. I ended up tweaking Briana's No-Bake Cheesecake from her cookbook Necessary Food (If you are into low-carb cooking, THM, Keto, etc. then I highly recommend this cookbook) and it was a hit! Definitely not the same texture as regular baked cheesecake, but it tasted great.

No-Bake Cheesecake - Low Carb, Sugar Free

3 T Butter
1 T Gentle Sweet, or your sweetener of choice (Swerve, Pyure, Erythritol, etc.)
1 cup Almond Flour
2 T Oat Fiber

Mix crust ingredients thoroughly and press into the bottom of a pie plate. If your butter is cold, you'll need to warm or melt it. Mine was room temp and it blended right up.

2 8oz pkgs Cream Cheese
2/3 cup Sour Cream
2 T Lemon Juice
1 tsp Vanilla
4 T Gentle Sweet or sweetener of choice, to taste
4 tsp Great Lakes Gelatin (the red can)
3 T Hot Water
2/3 cup Heavy Cream

Beat cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, vanilla, and sweetener until thoroughly combined. It would be easier if the cream cheese was not cold, but I never mange to think ahead enough to set it out so I just rely on my Kitchen Aid mixer to beat the cream cheese. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well with a spatula so it's all combined.

Dissolve the gelatin in hot water, then add to cheesecake mixture and beat well. Add heavy cream and mix for a few more minutes. Give it a taste to see if it's sweet enough - if not, add another tablespoon of sweetener, mix, and taste again.

Pour cheesecake mixture over crust and refrigerate at least an hour, or longer if you can. I was able to cut and serve this after just about an hour but it gets firmer if it can chill longer. Serve with toppings of choice - we had 1 fruit and 2 chocolate ganache here. :)

Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot

I love hard squash, but cooking them always required some planning since they take a good 45 minutes baking in the oven. The Instant Pot makes this job so quick and easy!

Spaghetti Squash cooked in the Instant Pot

1. Place rack in instant pot and add a cup of water.

2. Cut squash in half and remove seeds. I have heard of people skipping this step and just cooking it whole, but I would rather deal with the "squash guts" raw than cooked and even more slimy, so I remove them first. My chickens love them. :D

3. Place the halves in the Instant Pot. I am able to fit two small squash in my 6-quart pot! Close the lid and close the seal.

4. Press the "manual" button and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes, then release the pressure.

5. Scrape out the squash with a fork. If you prefer your squash to be softer, you can cook another minute but I like it to be more firm and not mushy.

I love to eat this with marinara sauce, or sauteed with butter and garlic. I also make the Loaded Spaghetti Squash Casserole from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook and it is amazing.

Vegetable Soup in the Instant Pot

I recently did a month-long "pantry challenge" where I challenged myself to try to use as much as I could from the freezer and pantry, minimizing trips to the grocery store and then only for fresh produce as needed.

Following that rule, I made vegetable soup! It was so easy and we made grilled cheese sandwiches to go with it. By cooking in the Instant Pot, it tastes like it cooked all day but really it only took 45 minutes from start to finish.

If you don't already have an Instant Pot, you can use a regular slow cooker or just make it on the stove and let it simmer a while. But really, you should get an Instant Pot. ;)

Vegetable Soup in the Instant Pot

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 stalks Celery, diced
3 Carrots, sliced
2-3 cups of Vegetables (I used green beans and corn since I had them on hand, plus some shredded zucchini I found in the fridge. I add peas if I have them, and sometimes diced potatoes if I'm not worried about carbs)
2 cans Diced Tomatoes
2 cups Stock (I used chicken stock from the freezer, but would use water if I needed to make it vegetarian)
2 cans V-8 Juice
Herbs and Spices such as Oregano, Basil, Marjoram, Parsley, Thyme, Bay Leaf  (I added all of these, probably a tablespoon of the first 4 and a teaspoon of thyme, plus 1 bay leaf)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Push the Saute button on the Instant Pot, and saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots in olive oil for a few minutes until the onions are tender.

Turn the IP off and add the rest of the ingredients. Give it a stir, place the lid, turn the valve to "sealed" and push the Soup button. Mine automatically set for 30 minutes and I thought that sounded good. Dinner is done!

Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes - delicious and simple, but kind of a pain to make. How many times have I burned my fingers trying to remove hot potatoes from hot water? Then there's the variability of cooking time - you want them done but not TOO done, and then you don't want them to sit in that water and end up with pasty mashed potatoes. It can be a bit stressful.

No more of that! Using the Instant Pot makes it so easy. Cooking the potatoes in the instant pot with the milk makes it so simple, and there's nothing to drain! I hope to never boil potatoes for mashing again.

Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

4lbs Potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 cup Milk (I used Buttermilk)
1/2 tsp Salt (to taste)
1 tsp Pepper

Toss the peeled, quartered potatoes into the instant pot. Add milk, salt and pepper. Close the lid, turn the seal so it's closed, and push the Manual button and adjust the time down to 10 minutes. When it's done, release the pressure. Add butter to taste, and mash with a potato masher right in the pot. Done!

If you prefer to whip your potatoes, you can still keep this a one-pot dish and use your hand mixer right in the instant pot insert. :)

Orange Pomegranate Juice

When pomegranates are back in season (i.e. affordable) we love to juice them! A citrus press like this is perfect for juicing pomegranates. They are delicious to eat as well, but it's a lot of work to get the individual seeds out. We'll eat a few when we get a batch, but most of them get juiced.

We also buy grocery bags full of oranges from a local store. They sell all of the less-pretty oranges much cheaper in bulk, and we don't care what they look like!

We discovered that mixing our fresh squeezed orange juice and pomegranate juice is delicious! We also discovered that it makes a great cocktail for the adults with a splash of vodka ;)

Just mix equal parts of pomegranate juice and orange juice. That's it!

Chocolate Trifle

A potluck is the perfect excuse to make a rich dessert and know you won't end up eating the whole thing! I made this chocolate trifle for a party and it disappeared in no time. So delicious and fancy, and it took no time to make!

Chocolate Trifle

trifle bowl
You will need:

Brownies - you can make them from scratch, or use a boxed mix

1 quart of Heavy Whipping Cream (to make Whipped Cream and Chocolate Whipped Cream)

4 Tbsp Sugar, divided
2 tsp Vanilla, divided

Chocolate - either 2 Hershey bars, melted and cooled, or 4 Tbsp hot cocoa mix, or 3 Tbsp cocoa powder and more sugar. 

The big secret to this dessert is the bowl. I don't own a lot of fancy serving dishes, but a trifle bowl is worth keeping around, to me. It can make anything look special.


Make brownies and let them cool. 

For whipped cream: Pour about half of the cream, with 2 Tbsp Sugar and 1 tsp Vanilla into your mixing bowl with whisk attachment, and whip just until it you have stiff peaks. You don't want to overbeat the cream, or you'll end up with butter! Remove the whipped cream to a container and set aside.

For chocolate whipped cream: Pour the rest of the cream, 2 Tbsp of Sugar (double this if you're going to use unsweetened cocoa powder) and 1 tsp Vanilla into the mixing bowl and whisk again to make whipped cream. Once it's whipped, fold in the chocolate of your choice and mix well.

Assemble the trifle in layers - there's no wrong way to do this, just remember to use the sides of the bowl to show off the different layers, and save enough whipped cream for the top layer. 

I start with brownies in the bottom, then alternate plain and chocolate whipped cream around the sides. Then more brownies, then more chocolate whipped cream, and finally plain whipped cream on top. Garnish with chocolate bits if you like. I just used a veggie peeler on a Hershey bar. 

If you need to cover the bowl for travel, you'll want to be sure not to fill it up all the way to the top so you can cover it with foil without messing up your garnish. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Enjoy!