Homemade Samoa's or Caramel DeLites - (A Lower Carb and Sugar Free Samoa Option Too!)

As a Mom of two daughters and a previous Girl Scout leader myself when they were little, I have a special place in my heart for Girl Scout cookies; but we don't buy them anymore.  Not only has the price per box gone through the roof, but we don't eat many sweets and when we do they are almost always homemade and don't include sugar and usually little or no wheat flour.

This is my version of the Samoa's - otherwise known as Caramel DeLites - depending on what area of the country you live in and which bakery the Girl Scouts in your area use.  Our family eats sugar free most of the time so my version is sugar free, but you can make yours (and make them much easier) by using non-sugar free products.

Note for planning purposes:  These SEEM simple in concept but they are pretty labor productive and take about twice as long as you always think they will.  I also found it's easier to have a second person helping me when I get to the coconut caramel part so as I am piping or spreading the coconut filling on the cookies, they can press them and use a wooden spoon handle to make the hole in the centers.  I've done it myself but it really is faster if you just have a helper.

To make these completely homemade start with your favorite shortbread or butter cookie recipe.  I had flower shaped sugar-free, wheat free cookies in our freezer when I planned to make these but I ended up using them as a crust for a sugar free cheesecake.  When I made this batch yesterday I 'cut corners' by using some Murry brand sugar free cookies so that cut down the time needed to make my cookies from scratch.  If you don't need sugar free cookies as your base you might want to try Salerno Butter Cookies, or another brand of flower shaped cookies to cut down on the prep/bake/cool time needed for that step.

The other thing worth noting: the homemade caramel.   I need ours to be sugar free so I make it from scratch. You can use my recipe with regular brown sugar or white sugar and make your own caramel but another 'hack' would be to use about 12 ounces of store bought caramels that you melt with about 1 tablespoon of water over medium low on the stove top or in the microwave.  Just heat til it starts to melt, stir smooth. 

I also use sugar free chocolate chips of course - but for those making these not sugar free, just use regular chocolate chips of your choice.

Homemade Samoas or Caramel DeLites

1 1/2 cups melted store bought or homemade caramel
18-24 small flower shaped cookies homemade or bought
7 oz. coconut - unsweetened or sweetened depending on your needs/taste
1 pkg. chocolate chips
1 T coconut oil - solid or shortening

Lay your cookies down on foil.
Place an additional piece of foil off to the side to put your cookies after dipping the bottoms in chocolate.  You can use a cookie cooling rack if you want or just lay them on the foil direct.
Melt or make your caramel** to equal about 1 1/2 cups caramel (12 ounces).
Stir the coconut into the caramel sauce.  Working while it's warm, top each cookie with a spread of caramel coconut mixture.  You can do this with a butter knife, small spatula, an empty frosting decorator bag without a tip in it, etc. depending on stiff or runny your filling is.  Sometimes it's thicker than other times.  Do what works best.
If you wish (you don't have to) you can use the end of a wooden spoon handle to make the hole in the center of the filling after you've placed it on the cookie.
When you are all done, melt the chocolate chips with a bit of coconut oil or shortening.  Only melt JUST until it starts to melt - stirring to finish the melt process and get it smooth.  Don't over cook it or use too high heat as chocolate burns and seizes up solid. 
When it's smooth, dip the bottoms of each of the cookies into the chocolate and lay them on the rack or the foil to harden.
When you are finished dipping the bottoms, use a fork or ziplock baggy to drizzle the rest of the melted chocolate chips back and forth over the tops of the cookies.  Either place them into the fridge or freezer to harden "faster" or if it's a really hot and humid day; or just let them set for a few hours until the chocolate hardens.

**If you are making homemade sugar free caramel from my recipe link, be sure to cook it just until little brown flakes of 'burnt butter' start on the bottom of the pan to give it a nice dark caramel color and taste.  Not cooking it long enough makes it more of a butter toffee.  I also found adding a 'smidgen' of molasses to it helps bring it to 'caramel' instead of toffee.  I also use about 1/8 xanthan gum to each 2/3 cup sweetener to thicken it to a caramel instead of a sauce or ice cream topping.  Remember your caramel can be a little liquidy as the coconut is going to be mixed into it and that will firm it up. 

Faster than homemade cookies bases:  store bought

Homemade caramel sauce - you can also use store bought caramels

Stirring in the unsweetened coconut - you can also use regular sweetened coconut

Depending on how liquidy your caramels are, determines how firm the filling gets. Work while it's warm.

Top the cookies - a 2nd person helping make holes makes swift work of this step

I use about 3/4 of a bag of chocolate chips and about a tablespoon of coconut oil

I hate dipping cookies and candies... I really do.

Drizzle chocolate back and forth over the tops

Let them harden or pop them into the freezer to speed the process

Products related to this post are available to order through Amazon if you can't find them locally:

Salerno The Original Butter Cookies
Murray Sugar Free Cookies Shortbread, 6-Ounce Package (Pack of 12)
Murray Cookie Jar Classics Butter Cookies
Just Like Sugar Natural Sweetener
Unsweetened Coconut


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Easy, Quick Comfort Foods: Chicken & Noodles in a crock pot (a Grandma recipe!)

This an old 'Grandma' recipe.  It's completely not healthy (carby because of the pasta) and it has sodium due to the cans of cream of chicken soup and chicken broth... but it is SO good and SO easy and SO comforting that I don't care.  It was exactly what my body and mind needed and craved yesterday. 

I saw this old recipe in a random old 'newsletter' put out by a utility company years ago.  It had a picture with it and when I saw it, my mouth started to water.  I knew exactly what it would smell like and taste like.  I suddenly craved this salty, carby goodness so much I could not stop thinking about it.  I glanced at the ingredients list and chuckled to myself.  It just so happened I had ingredients in my pantry to make it - even though I rarely have Cream of Chicken soup on hand, I had randomly bought 2 cans over the past year for some reason and they were in my pantry at this very second. 

The recipe only has 5 ingredients and you can substitute a few things if you wish.  I make my own chicken broth but if you are the sort who purchases broth, you could get low sodium to cut back if you wish.  Egg noodles are perfect in this dish but we only have the easily digestible Dreamfields pasta on hand - so i used rotini and tortellini.  Lastly, I didn't want to use chicken breast, I wanted to 'up' the flavor even more by using my  homemade chicken and spinach sausage so that is why my photos show chunks of spinach/chicken instead of pieces or shreds of regular chicken breasts.   Play with the recipe if you must but don't mess with it too much.  Adding more seasonings actually ruins it - the same as too many ruin a good homemade chicken soup.  

Chicken & Noodles in the Crock Pot

4 chicken breasts or equivalent (I used my homemade chicken, spinach sausage)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
7 c chicken broth
3/4 stick butter
1 t pepper
1 lb. dry egg noodles

Put everything but the noodles into a crockpot and cook on low about 6 hours or high about 2-3.  Add the noodles and cook 1 more hour.  Serve hot.


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Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cookies - Low Carb, Wheat Free (Almond Flour and Peanut Flour)

This is one of those things I made weeks ago and it's sat in my files because I simply don't have the time to post.  Life has certainly been throwing us curve after curve over the past 6 weeks or so.  Non stop - and I don't dare ask "What next!?" because I'm sure there will be something and it won't be positive!   

When I made these peanut butter cookies I had just one thing in mind.  I wanted to use peanut flour to make them.
When I originally started to make them I had in mind that old 'children's' recipe where you use a cup of peanut butter, a cup of sugar and an egg - roll into balls, squash with a fork and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  I thought to myself I could tweak it to use peanut flour and of course we don't usually bake with sugar so it would be a natural sweetener instead.  

My taste tests and dough tests meant I kept adding things to give it the taste I wanted and the texture I needed so in the end it had a few more ingredients including prepared peanut butter because it gave it the taste I wanted and I added whey protein powder and oat fiber (finely ground oatmeal)  to give it the texture needed to come together as a dough.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Low Carb & Sugar Free

1/2 c butter
1 c natural sweetener equal to brown sugar
1 c natural sweetener equal to granulated white sugar
10 drops liquid sweetener
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 c good quality peanut flour
1 1/2 c water
1 T honey (I used sugar free substitute)
1 c oat fiber
1 c almond flour
1 c peanut butter
1/3 c whey protein powder (zero carb, zero sugar) - USE IF YOU NEED TO THICKEN TO DOUGH CONSISTANCY

In a bowl, mix all ingredients.  If your dough is too wet, add whey protein powder and mix in until it comes together as a dough.  You could also use additional almond flour or maybe even more peanut flour I imagine.  You just want a good dough texture.  Form small balls 1-2 inches and press flat twice with a fork to make the cross pattern.  Bake on parchment lined sheet at 350 about 12 minutes until the edges start to brown and they are firm.  Almond flour cookies sometimes take longer to bake so watch them and test them.  Let cool 3-4 minutes on the pan to firm a little and then carefully move to cool complete on racks.

To purchase products related to this recipe you can find them on Amazon if you can't find them locally.

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