3/31/11

Homemade Low Carb Almond Crackers (Similar to a Wheat Thin style)

Our college aged daughter emailed me (yet again) this week in frustration over not being able to easily find low carb, sugar free options in her school cafeteria. In part to finally 'debunk' her complaint of her school not having any healthy options on a regular basis I went online, found their menu and nutritional content and studied their choices.

She was right. Heavily breaded chicken, sweetened sauces, fried fish, pizza, pasta bar, etc.   I found 1 day they offered a 'roasted' chicken option although I found out from my daughter they don't actually serve what they say is on the monthly menu and sure enough, there was no 'roasted' chicken that day after all.

I helped her pick out the best options for the week that were whole grains, lower carb, no sugar and because she works in a restaurant and often eats there, I also found and ordered a Low-Carb Restaurant: Guide on Amazon.com and had it shipped to her to help her know what was ok to eat at not only her own workplace but any restaurant she visits. 

As a special treat, I also made her Homemade Almond Crisp Crackers (similar to a Wheat Thin style) that I am mailing to her.  She can use these to snack on in her dorm since regular crackers are high carb and usually have sugar grams and they are excellent with cream cheese or cheddar cheese!

I posted this recipe once before - I believe it was in 2007 or 2008 but it's a favorite of ours when we are watching our carbs. 



Almond Thins Crackers

1 c almond flour or fine ground almonds
2 t Splenda
1 large egg white
1/4 t garlic salt
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t onion powder

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.  Make sure it's mixed well so all the almond is moist and the dough starts to hold together.

Crumble and drop the dough on parchment paper or well greased foil on a pan.  Cover the sticky dough with another sheet of parchment or greased foil or plastic wrap.  Roll the dough out with a rolling pin as thin as you can - 1/8 of an inch is what to aim for and even thinner if you can.

Peel off the top layer and score with a pizza cutter to make about 30-40 small squares.  Bake at 325 degree's for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.  Check at 10 minutes and use a metal spatula to gently pry the crackers apart, flipping the ones on the outside to the inside and mixing them up a bit.  When all are golden, remove, break apart and let cool completely.  Store in an air tight container.  These are good by themselves, with cheese or as a cracker dip for any number of spreads.





The dough becomes very sticky!



Breaking apart before rolling helps to roll an even, thin layer



Be sure to cover completely or they WILL stick to a rolling pin...
your hand, the pan... everything they come into contact with



Break apart and enjoy!

 


FROM THE COMMENTS -

Hi! - Yep and yep!  :)  - The thinner the better and baked long enough! As they get 'done' you can pull out the completely baked through ones and leave the rest in longer, flipping, moving them around until they are all done. If they are completely baked through - they are not moist at all, and completely cooked dry - then they are nice and crisp! 
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3/28/11

Homemade Key Lime Pie



Maybe it's because it's Spring or maybe it's because we just returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida... but key limes have been front and foremost on my mind!

I knew I wanted to make a Key Lime Pie and it had to be real Key Limes - not just 'lime juice' bought from the grocery.  With my bag of limes bought last weekend I finally had time to make the pie yesterday and mmmmm.   After the first piece it was so good I immediately served myself a second!


Key Lime Pie

1 bag of Key Limes (the very small limes!)
4 egg yolks
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 c heavy or whipping cream
1 -2 T confectionery sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 t vanilla extract
*optional - 3-6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 pre-made graham crust ready for filling

Zest about 4 of the limes.
Slice and juice all the limes save one. That one will be for garnish.
Strain the juice and reserve. You should have about 2/3 cup of liquid.
In an electric mixer bowl whip the egg yolks and lime zest 5 minutes.
Add the condensed sweetened milk and whip 3-4 minutes more.
Add the lime juice and mix until blended.
Pour into the graham crust. Bake 15 minutes at 325 degrees until filling is set.
Cool 20 minutes on counter. Chill 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Whip the cream with the sugar or Splenda and vanilla.  (You can add the cream cheese if you prefer this type of whipped cream topping.  I do. Use 6 oz. for 2 cups of whipped cream, 2-3 oz. for 1 cup - Whip it smooth before adding.)
Garnish the pie and finish with slices of the reserved lime.

Limes that gave up their
lives for my Key Lime Pie

Yummy goodness that is whipped cream topping.

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3/26/11

Quick and Easy Homemade Salsa

Got guests coming this weekend to watch movies or a sporting event?  Got teens coming tonight for movie night at your house?  Or maybe just a craving for salsa!?  Quick and easy as you start with a can of diced tomatoes it's one step from fresh and oh-so-good!


1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
5 jalapeño pepper slices (jarred) or one small fresh
1/4 c firmly packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 c chopped red onion
1 T fresh lime juice
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper
1/4 t salt


Drain 3/4 of the liquid from tomatoes.  Mix all ingredients well if keeping diced or you can briefly pulse in a food processor or blender just 4 - 6 times for a smoother texture.  Cover and chill until serving. Serve with tortilla chips.
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3/23/11

Now that's certainly a errr.... big cake!

This bride looks good enough to eat. Chidi Ogbuta, right, and her husband, Innocent, cut into an amazing cake -- a life-size version of Chidi in her wedding dress. The 5-foot dessert was served at a celebration after the couple renewed their wedding vows. It contained 200 eggs and 7.5 liters of amaretto, and weighed 400 pounds.

Standing over 5ft tall, the spectacular cake, made up of butterscotch and polymer clay, was an exact replica of the bride in her wedding dress.

The six-layered masterpiece was a dream come true for the Texan, and took pride of place when she re-newed her vows to her husband of ten years.

Initially Chidi wanted giant cakes made of both her and Innocent, 35, but the bakers, 'Absolutely Edible Cakes', didn't have enough time before the big day.

It took five weeks to make the cake of Chidi - with the cake itself butterscotch and the body, head and arms made from polymer clay - after she supplied them with photographs of herself wearing the dress.
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Mexican Casserole that is Great as a Dip for Tortilla Strips!

When I was about 14 years old, I was a regular babysitter for a woman in our small town who had 3 children. One night she had left a casserole for me to bake and serve them. I loved it so much I had her write down the recipe and my own family enjoyed it regularly after that.

This week I was thinking about that recipe and although I've made it a number of times in our own marriage, I never officially copied down the recipe so I often 'forget' about it for a few years and then suddenly crave it again.

That's what I did this week. I don't think I've made this for about 5 years now but it's back on our mental list and I scribbled it down on a note card and slipped it into my recipe files to remind me!

Remember what I always say on this site when it comes to 'recipes'? Play with your food! Make it yours. Mix and match, leave things out if you hate them (black olives? Fine, don't use them!) Add what you know you love and would work well (I love jalapeno's and hot sauces!). Make this recipe yours by playing with it.

Mexican Casserole or Dip

1 lb. ground beef browned with
1 small onion, chopped
1 can refried beans
*optional - 1 c ground and browned sausage
4 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 small can green chilies, chopped
*optional - 1 can diced jalapenos
1 - 16 oz. container sour cream
1 jar salsa or taco sauce
*optional - black olives, green olives, sliced
*optional - 1 1/2 c guacamole or avocado dip


Spread the refried beans on the bottom of a sprayed casserole dish for a meal or if you are using this recipe as a dip, spread it thinly on the bottom of a larger pan of your choice - (pizza pan, 9X13, anything you wish!) Brown the ground beef and/or sausage with the onion. Place half into a greased casserole dish or if you are using for a dip, use all of it over the refried beans in the larger pan. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Add the chilies and/or jalapenos, the sour cream, the salsa/sauce and the rest of the cheese in layers. Top with olives if you love them like I do!

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes for a thinner pan and bake 45 minutes if you have a thick casserole dish. When the cheese is melted and it's hot all the way through, remove and serve as a dip or let set for 5-8 minutes to 'set up' when serving as a casserole. It may be more runny when hot straight from the oven and it sets up (like lasagna does) when left to stand and cool a bit. We can never wait and don't care - we dig right in!






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3/22/11

Homemade Hot Flax Cereal (great for when you are low carbing and miss oatmeal)




Regular readers know my husband and I are big proponents of low carb/no sugar lifestyles.  I won't go into the long drawn out story (again) but I discovered Atkins in 2001 - 2002 when I was looking for a program to detox my body of sugar/flour/etc. for health reasons.  While doing the strict 2 week induction period my husband saw how incredible I felt, how much energy I had and how amazing my skin texture was and asked if I would 'start over' my 2 week program so he could do it with me.  We weren't planning on doing this way-of-eating  for the rest of our lives, especially while we had 3 young children but we ended up incorporating many of the food choices into our everyday lives and we still do Atkins induction and/or the maintenance period w.o.e. two to three times a year as well.  

Many of the recipes I discovered or made up during the spring and summer of 2002 made it into our everyday 'favorites' even when we aren't necessarily low-carbing.  Although there are a slew of 'pre made' products on the market now, there wasn't back then!  I made up this hot cereal recipe back then to incorporate flax into our diets as well as enjoying a hot breakfast on freezing cold Minnesota winters when oatmeal wasn't allowed.  My husband LOVES this recipe and I try to keep it on hand in the freezer for him at all times.

I mix this up and put it into a an old whey protein powder canister from which I removed the label from and then wrote with a permanent marker the instructions for preparing it on the side.  I keep this in our freezer and it keeps forever without losing flavor.

*Note:  this is really filling.  My husband and I usually have a 'scoop' of it which is probably about 1/2 a cup.  Rarely ever more than 3/4 cup.  Depending on the brand of products you use it will have a different carb count but in general it's going to be about 2 - 3 carbs per serving. 

Hot Flax Cereal Recipe
(Made up in the spring of 2002 and enjoying ever since!)

2 c ground Bob's Red Mill Flaxseed Meal,
2 c wheat bran
4 scoops Nature's Best  Zero Carb Isopure , Creamy Vanilla
1/2 t salt
sliced almonds
cinnamon
optional: natural sweetener of your choice

This is the dry mix to keep in your freezer in a tightly sealed container.  Place the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Use enough cinnamon to flavor the mixture to your own tastes.  1 teaspoon is about right for us.  Same with the amount of sliced almonds. You can use Splenda at this point if you like or leave it out.  We sprinkle Splenda on the finished product so I usually leave it out of the dry mix.

To use, scoop some in a bowl, moisten with water just to the point of being soupy and runny.  Microwave about 1 minute.  Add cream and natural sweetener to taste and consistency you desire.  If you are not doing lowcarb/no sugar you can use milk and sugar on this like you would oatmeal.




Related products available from Amazon if you can't find them locally;
Bob's Red Mill Flaxseed Meal, 16 Oz
Nature's Best  Zero Carb Isopure , Creamy Vanilla
Frigidaire 6 Piece Cereal and Food Storage Set
Erythritol Natural Sweetener Now Foods 1 lbs Granual
Xlear Xylosweet Bag, 1-Pound


     





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3/20/11

In honor of my southern vacation; Fried Chicken!

Our family loves the south.  We were lucky enough to live there for 5 years and I had two of my children in the great state of Tennessee but God saw fit to relocate us elsewhere and we've been hoping to get back ever since.  In the meantime we've made annual treks to the south every year to head 'to the beach' which includes stop overs in Tennessee each year.  My mouth waters just anticipating good southern fried chicken and biscuits.  And yes...  I did indeed get both on last weeks trip!



Fried Chicken

4 cups buttermilk
3 T salt
1 T fresh ground black pepper
1 t cayenne pepper
1 whole chicken cut up (breast, thigh, drumstick, wing)
3 cups flour
1 T favorite spice blends (use store bought or mix onion, garlic powders, Accent, etc.)
Vegetable oil for frying


In large non-reactive bowl, combine buttermilk with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add chicken; turn to coat. Cover bowl and marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Remove chicken from buttermilk, discarding marinade. Combine flour, salt and pepper and/or any other spices.  Place a cup of flour in a paper bag. Shake the chicken to coat well. Set out on a cookie sheet. Continue with chicken one piece at a time, adding more seasoned flour as necessary. Let the floured pieces of chicken sit for 5-10 minutes to let the coating set.

Heat 1 - 2 inches oil to about 365°. Add chicken and cook, turning twice, 20 minutes or until chicken is the desired color of golden brown and 'done'. Remove pieces as they are done and place on a cookie sheet.

Place chicken on the rack in a preheated 325ºF oven and let chicken continue to cook until the juices run clear and it registers 170ºF. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before eating.
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3/14/11

On Vacation...

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3/10/11

Old Fashioned Shortcake to Slice and Serve with Whipped Cream and Strawberries

My oldest daughter was home from college last week and was craving shortcakes with strawberries.  She and her sister went grocery shopping with me and the two of them spent about 5 minutes looking over the containers of strawberries with instructions from Mom on what to look for and what you do not want to see in your strawberries.  In the end they came back to my cart disgusted with the choices and did not buy the berries.

She went back to college without her strawberry shortcake craving quenched.  In honor of my daughter I give you a recipe for good "old fashioned" shortcake as made by many a great-grandmother in the heart of the midwest!  Slice and serve with berries and whipped cream for a yummy spring dessert.

Old Fashioned Shortcake

1¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted flour

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup soft shortening

2/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon lemon extract

1 large egg

Sift all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add shortening, milk, extracts & eggs; beat till well mixed. Pour into greased or buttered 6x10" pan. Bake in moderate oven 350-375° for about 20 minutes. Top with strawberries and whipped cream.
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Chicken or Beef?

With swimsuit season right around the corner a lot of people are looking at their waist and thighs and realizing they might have a little cutting to do.  If you think 'fish and chicken' with lots of salads are the meals of your future;  rethink chicken verses beef.

Many cuts of beef are actually lower in fat content than some cuts of chicken. Three ounces of cooked top sirloin steak, for example, has 4.9 grams of fat, while a skinless chicken thigh has 9.2 grams of fat per cooked three ounces, (according to USDA research).

Whether you’re dining out or staying in, pay attention to the cut of meat you’re considering and don’t just assume that chicken is better.
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3/9/11

You can like world cheeses and not be a cheese snob...

As much as I love cheese, I am not a cheese snob, nor would I be considered 'good enough' in serious circles of cheese lovers because there are certain cheeses I do not like that so called experts insist you must love in order to be a... well, I guess a cheese expert. 

I am no cheese expert... but I love cheese!!!!

Morbier Cheese (1 lb)Earlier this week I not only fixed a simple 'dinner' of a platter with 10 different cheeses, but everything from 3 local 'home grown' versions from a popular dairy here to Italian and French cheese like Morbier (a thin layer of ash separates the two layers), Sottocenere (pieces and slices of truffles and the rind is rubbed with truffles as well) and even a Mimolette aged 12  months.   Ranging from $9.99 - $24.00 per pound I can't say this is something I would invest in often, if ever again unless I was hosting some big cheese and wine party, but I did not purchase all of it, myself.  (I don't have that kind of budget!)


I bought 6 cheeses the other night at the grocery for a simple bread, wine and cheese dinner to enjoy with my husband at some point over the next week.  Our schedules never worked out to have it so finally, with he being at work and I craving my wine and cheese night, I happily laid out my 6 cheeses.

I was disappointed.  The merlot and balsamic sarvecchio cheeses were ok, but disappointing.  The smoked version I was really excited about was awful as it was not a true smoked cheese but a fake, using liquid smoke in the making (and too much of it). At work I was lamenting how the cheese let me down and another 'cheese lover' at work ended up discussing the various varieties with me and then left.  About 40 minutes later he returned with a shopping bag from the local 'it' place in town that carries all the high end cheeses.  He had purchased 4 cheeses for me to try, including one that was his favorite.

What a sweetheart!  I was surprised and felt oh-so-thankful that he cared enough to surprise with such!  And some of the cheeses he bought were $19.99 - $24 a pound.

Tonight I opened a bottle of red wine (which I'm not a fan of but it felt only fitting to enjoy with cheese and bread!)  and I sampled each of the cheeses along with my 15 year old daughter.   Well, she wouldn't sample most of them.  She tried the Mimolette but didn't care for it, while she refused to even try the sottocenere or morbier based on what she called the 'horrible fart smell' it gave off - which I likened more to dirty feet myself, but I could see her point.

In the end I can't say I liked the Morbier either.  But the Mimolette?  (Also known as Halloween cheese because of it's orange color) I liked and although it took a strong stomach to get past the smell of the Sottocenere, once I got it to my mouth I was able to enjoy the flavor which I think almost tasted like a garlic taste to me.

In the end, I will never, ever be a cheese snob.  Although I like some expensive cheeses, I am madly in love with more affordable options like my all time favorite; Feta.  And while I don't enjoy extra sharp or sharp cheddar I'm a huge fan of colby.  I'm pretty sure the French would turn their noses up at me for that one!
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3/7/11

Mmm-mashed potatoes with Greek yogurt

Mashed potatoes is listed or named as a comfort food for many people... me included. It's also wonderful to serve on a freezing cold winter night. But now that we are entering into spring is there still a place for mashed potatoes amid the sunny days, warmer weather and 'lighter' feeling time of year? Absolutely! And that is what came to mind when I found this recipe stashed away in my files. Originally I had it in with other Fall recipes to consider for Thanksgiving but truth be told I like my traditional mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving; all butter, milk, sour cream and goodness! But spring is lighter... and so are these potatoes. Made with Greek yogurt with skim milk and little butter.

Perhaps good for your Easter meal this year!



1 1/3 c skim milk
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
3 T butter
1/4 c 2 percent Greek yogurt
1 T chopped fresh chives
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives

Bring milk and garlic to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat, and let stand. Meanwhile, place potatoes in a medium pot, and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, and pass through a ricer or a food mill. Return to pot.

Heat potatoes over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until slightly dried out, about 2 minutes. Strain milk mixture into pot. Discard garlic. Stir in butter. Remove from heat. Stir in yogurt, chives, and 1 teaspoon salt; season with pepper. Garnish with chives.
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