9/30/12

Home Canned Apples (Apple Slices in a Simple Syrup)



When you have a website for so many years, you end up with thousands of recipes and many times they are 'lost' in the files and only as readily found as your search engine is good.  This is one I posted back in 2008 but it's Autumn and there is a chill in the air, the tree's are full of beautiful apples and it's time for harvest!  Here is a very simple recipe to can apple slices for use later on in anything from apple crisp to apple breads, apple pies to apple tarts or desserts.  Because there is no cinnamon or other spices added to them, it gives you a wider range of recipes to use the apples in later!



 Home Canned Apple Slices in a Simple Syrup

Apples, apples and more apples
1 gallon water with 2-3 T lemon juice (to place slices in as you work)
4 cups water
2 cups sugar

Peel, core and slice the apples and place into a large container of water with the lemon juice added. By immediately placing the apples in this mixture you keep them from turning brown.

In a saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil and reduce to a slow boil for about 5 minutes to form a simple syrup. While this is simmering pack the apple slices into 2 quart jars. Pack pretty full but not so hard as to break the slices. Pour the hot syrup over the apples in the jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Use a rubber spatula, chopstick, butter knife, etc. to release air bubbles from the jar. Seal and attach a ring, process in a hot water bath 25 minutes for a pint and 35 for a quart.

Let set 12 hours to cool and seal. Test for the seal, if it didn't seal correctly reprocess.















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9/28/12

Sugar Free, Low Carb - Cheesecake Brownie Bars

If you've been following me in my baking endeavors this week you will have made a sugar free, low carb Chocolate Cheesecake and then whipped up your Sugar free brownies.  If you have leftovers, let's now put them together for a whole new dessert that will knock the socks off your family!  And, if you didn't make them yet, or you gobbled them up and have no more - simply mix up another batch!

Two layers of sugar free, low carb brownies sandwiched between a decadent layer of creamy chocolate sugarfree cheesecake.  I had homemade whipped cream to serve with them last night for dessert but my family opted to forgo whipped cream and eat them as they were.  These would be absolutely incredible with ice cream as well!  A sugar free, low carb brownie sundae?  Wow.

Cheesecake Brownie Bars

1 batch sugar free, low carb brownies (recipe here)
1 recipe sugar free chocolate cheesecake  (recipe here)

Slice the brownies into squares.  Cut the chilled, refrigerated cheesecake into squares, roughly the size of your brownies.  Turn the cheesecake square on its side (you can do this after it's been refrigerated at least 24 hours as it's very sturdy) and slice straight down, making two slices.  Sandwich one layer cheesecake between two brownies.  If you made your brownies in an 8X8" pan instead of the 13X9" then you will have to slice your brownies in half as well or they will be too thick.  Serve immediately or cover and chill to serve later with whipped cream or ice cream or even a chocolate sauce.





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9/26/12

Sugar Free Brownies... yes I'm serious!


A low carb, sugar free... Brownie!?  Yes.  A brownie.
I may not be a crazy fan of chocolate, but hello?  I'm a mom to three and wife to one... so I still make chocolate treats of course!  Knowing my family would love something sweet for dessert tonight I decided to try my hand at a low carb, sugar free brownie.

In the end, it was easier than I thought.  I had a package of Baker's Unsweetened chocolate squares in the cupboard and I had a feeling if I ripped open the package, there would be a basic brownie recipe inside.  There was.  By using that as a basic 'guide' of sorts, I then improvised with sugar substitutes and flour substitutes to get my own version.  No flour.  No sugar.  But all good!  My family isn't a fan of frosting on brownies so I didn't bother - but you could top it with a thin layer of frosting or lightly dust with a confectioner's sugar substitute if you wish.  I'll post some links at the bottom of the recipe.


Low Carb, Sugar Free Brownies

4 squares Baker's Unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 c Xylitol
1 c Splenda
3 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
1 c almond flour (ground, raw almonds)
1/3 c chocolate whey protein (low carb, sugar free)*

 Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl in the microwave.  Stir smooth.  Beat in the eggs and sugar substitutes with a wooden spoon, 100 strokes.  Beat in the eggs.  Add the vanilla, almond flour and whey protein.  Pour into a greased or parchment lined 13X9" pan and bake at 350 about 20 minutes or until done.  Cool, slice and serve.  Can be topped with Swerve or Ideal Confectioner's sugar sprinkled on top or a sugar free icing or whipped cream. 

*This is probably optional.  You can increase your almond flour if you don't have it.  I also played around with a bit of coconut flour but it wasn't necessary.




You might be interested in some of the products I used;

         



 
Now Foods Xylitol, 2.5 pound bag
Ideal Confectionery Low Calorie Sweetener
Swerve Sweetener Confectioners Style, 16oz
Nature's Best ISOPURE CHOC (LOW CARB) 3LB







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Cucumbers in Cream (This is the one with sour cream, vinegar, etc)

Photo from my 2007 post - but I've been so busy EATING that I've not taken a new photo!

While my garden this year gave me some cucumbers on a regular basis, it did not flourish and was 'done' early.  Our out-of-town guests came bearing gifts of cucumbers and tomatoes from their garden however, and over the past 4 days I've had this twice a day!

I'm currently making it a lower carb and sugar free option by using Splenda and SuperRose liquid drops as the sweetener, and not adding onions.  However, you can easily play with this recipe.  All mayo or all sour cream instead of a mixture of the two.  Or even some mayo and some cream.  Regular white vinegar if you don't have apple cider vinegar.  When you first mix it, it will not have a lot of dressing and it won't be very sweet.  After it chills a couple hours you will see it's made it's own dressing/sauce and the flavors will have come together and the sugar or substitute will have calmed the vinegar a bit.  



Cucumber in Cream

4-5 c sliced fresh cucumbers
3/4 c sour cream (or I've used about 1/2 c cream)
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/4 c Splenda, Ideal, Swerve, etc. (or sugar)
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, sliced thin (optional)


Mix and chill for at least an hour before serving. It may look 'dry' at first but it will turn liquid while it chills.  I usually serve this and then add another 1-2 cucumbers to the dressing left over, so I get two meals out of this rather than waste the dressing after serving.





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9/25/12

No Bake Sugar Free Chocolate Cheesecake


I remembered to take a picture!  Not a good picture, but a picture none-the-less!


Last night I was getting ready to put dinner on the table and was regretting my decision not to bake a chocolate cheesecake earlier in the day.  I had debated but since I don't love chocolate and I wasn't in the mood, I talked myself out of it.   Sure enough, I regretted it and wished I had made it after all.  I knew my family would enjoy it and the dinner was light enough that a nice dessert would be appreciated.

What the heck - I decided to whip something up.  And this is what I came up with.  A no bake version of a chocolate cheesecake that was ready quickly and chilled to perfection by the time we finished eating and were ready for sweet treat.



No Bake Sugar Free Chocolate Cheesecake

1 1/2 packages sugar free chocolate chips, melted in the microwave, stir smooth
1/2 c plus 1 T Splenda
12 oz. cream cheese, cubed for easy mixing
2 1/2 T butter
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
1 c heavy cream

While the chocolate chips are melting in the microwave (about 2 minutes depending on how powerful your microwave is - and stir until completely smooth) mix the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  I like to mix everything but the cream, scrape down the sides, mix again to blend and then add the heavy cream and mix just until it starts to form stiff peaks.  Slowly pour in your melted chocolate.  When it's blended, pour into a lined or greased springform pan.  Chill in the refrigerator.  You can decorate with swirls of whipped cream and garnish with sugar free chocolate curls made by scraping a sugar free chocolate bar or if you are in a hurry like I was, simply press a few into the dessert and serve.

Extra whipped cream for garnish:

1/2 c heavy cream
2 T sugar free product such as Splenda or Swerve or Ideal
1/2 t vanilla
 
Whip to stiff peaks and use to garnish your dessert



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9/23/12

Homemade White Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercreme Frosting (and it just happens to be ok for sugar free and low carb too!)

A cake that works for those doing no-sugar and low carb AND those who aren't!

This weekend we are entertaining guests from out of state.  Not just guests, but my parents.  And it's not just a weekend to get together, but it's a weekend to celebrate.  It was their 44th Wedding Anniversary.  Wanting to make them a dessert for dinner that evening I whipped up this cake.  It's an adaption I came up with last April when I wanted to make myself a birthday cake.

There are a few things you can still 'play with' in this recipe!  I've linked to some of the products I used but you can play around with them a bit if you don't have them.  Mainly, the sweeteners and the 'flour' substitutes.

I don't care for the strong taste of coconut flour so I don't use much of it, but if you don't mind, then you can absolutely use a mixture of just Carbquick and Coconut Flour.  Or try using Almond Flour for a portion of it.  Any mixture of Carbquick, Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, Whey Protein Powder can be 'played with'.   Although I used a mixture of Splenda and Xylitol, you could probably mix Xylitol and Erythritol if that is what you usually use.  

Although I used 4 t vanilla when I made it in April;  I used a mixture of 2 t vanilla, 1 t lemon extract and 1 t almond extract this time.  I loved it, but again, this something you can play with.

The end result was a yummy white cake and frosting my parents loved and my Dad said he could eat every day.  And neither of them are low carb or sugar free.

I would like to point out that I was multitasking when I made this and forgot the baking powder (poured it back in the bowl from the baking pan and added, poured it back in and finished backing.  Ooops!)  I was trying to HURRY and decorate it while I was literally expecting my parents to drive up the driveway any second - and my buttercreme frosting was too warm and starting to melt!  Thus;  the frosting is not a 'ruffle' like I hoped, but still turned out ok.  I then ran out of frosting and knowing my guests were arriving at any second I got creative, ran outside, grabbed some flower blossoms off my landscape bushes!  I knew they were 'safe' and had never been treated with pesticides as I grow them myself.  I submerged them in ice water for 15 minutes to clean them while I chilled the melty frosting and then topped the cake.

I pulled it off.  The cake was grand.   



White Cake - Low Carb and Sugar Free

1/2 c butter, soft
8 eggs
1 c  Splenda Essentials 
2 T Xylitol
14 drops liquid sweetener (I used Superose Liquid Sweetener but you can use Stevia, EZ-sweet, etc.)
1/2 t salt
4 t vanilla extract
2 T Torani Sugar Free Vanilla flavor
1/2 c sour cream
1/3 c (not quite heaping) Carbquick
1/3 coconut flour
2/3 c Isopure Vanilla Whey Protein Powder (0 carb, 0 sugar)
1 t baking powder

Whisk or mix eggs and vanilla flavorings in a bowl until yellow and frothy.  In another bowl place the Carbquick, coconut flour, protein powder and baking powder.  In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and the sweeteners; Splenda, Xylitol and liquid sweetener.  Beat until fluffy.  Add the eggs by pouring them in as the mixer is running.  Add half the dry ingredients, half the sour cream, then the rest of the dry and the rest of the sour cream.  

Place in 2 round 8" or 9" pan sprayed or oiled and dusted with either a light dusting of Carbquick or almond meal, etc.  Bake at 350F for approximately 25-35 minutes until the center is set.  Let cool about 10 minutes so you can remove it easily from the pan.  Invert it onto a platter and let cool completely before frosting and serving.

You can use any icing or frosting you wish but here is the one I used;  sugar free and low carb as well:  Sugar Free and Low Carb Frosting





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9/21/12

A quick peek: The Low Carb, Sugar Free Cake I whipped up!




I have out of town guests arriving at any second so my posting this weekend will probably be almost non-existent.  The 'guests' are my parents and any second now their car should be driving up our driveway;  the end of their 1000 mile 'Anniversary' trip. 

Yes, today is my parents 44th Wedding Anniversary and since they will be at our home today I wanted to whip up a quick cake to celebrate.  However, we are currently doing a 'sugar free' and 'low carb' detox... so the cake had to be SF and LC yet still acceptable for those who are used to sugar, flour and carbs!  This is the recipe I made for my own birthday cake last April;  I tweaked it from a Red Velvet Recipe but made it a White Vanilla. 

Oh the stories behind this cake!!!   Whatever could possibly go wrong... did.  (If you follow me on Twitter you might already know a few of them!)  And yet it turned out ok.  I'll post the recipes and the story behind it as soon as I can.

Have a great weekend!



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Simple, Traditional Shortbread Butter Cookies


I have a recipe for a very simple shortbread style cookie that I use when I want a cookie that is sturdy, retains its shape perfectly for cut-outs and decorative glass pressings and tastes good too.  It's made with just butter, sugar, flour and vanilla.   This recipe is one step simpler than that.

This one does not use vanilla, instead, relying on the sweetness of the butter to come through (which it does); resulting in a delicious butter cookie, great with tea or coffee.

Note it uses Irish butter, which you can find in most larger grocery stores but also at Sam's Club, etc.  If you can't find it, no worries!  Just use regular, unsalted butter that you have on hand.  Don't use margarine or a 'spread' though!






 Simple Shortbread Butter Cookies

1 c (2 sticks) Irish unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 c flour, (plus more for work surface)



Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer.  Slowly add flour. Continue mixing until dough comes together to form a ball.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface; roll out dough to about 1/4-inch thickness, dusting rolling pin with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Using a 2 1/4-inch round, fluted cutter, cut out dough. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 inch apart. Gather up any scraps, gently re-roll, and repeat cutting process. Take care not to overwork dough or it will become tough.

Bake until they just begin to turn golden, about 25-30 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Shortbread may be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.







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9/19/12

Homemade Almond Thin Crackers - (a great low carb and sugar free option)

One of my top 5 Low Carb, Sugar Free *must make* recipes!

This is a recipe our family loves and I think you will too!  A crisp, healthy cracker made from almonds and egg whites.  No preservatives.  No funky chemicals.  Just a good, wholesome, awesome cracker.  Very similar to WheatThins - but they also happen to be low carb and sugar free so if you are doing Atkins or another low carb way-of-eating these are a great addition when you are craving crackers or something crunchy to eat with a cream cheese dip. 

After you make these and are comfortable with the basic recipe; play with the spices!  A good way to get idea's is to look at the crackers available in the store.  Chipotle, Jalapeno, dried tomato, ranch dressing mix, etc.  Use your imagination and have at it - or just enjoy it plain with only salt.  So good!!!


Almond Thins Crackers

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

*I use whole, raw almonds and grind them in my Hamilton Beach processor.  Don't add anything, just process until they are ground.  Or you can purchase almonds already ground, called almond flour.

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

Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper or well greased foil.  It is very sticky so you need 2 sheets of parchment or foil or it will stick to your rolling pin.

Roll the dough out with a rolling pin as thin as you can - 1/8 of an inch is what to aim for. You should be able to get a rectangle about 9X9 inches. Peel off the top layer and score with a pizza cutter to make about 30 small squares.  Leave them on the bottom parchment to bake and place it on a baking sheet.

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 incredible by themselves, with cheese or as a cracker dip for any number of spreads. I love them dipped in plain cream cheese with yellow banana peppers as a snack.








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9/18/12

Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with a Sprinkle of Bacon

 


Last night I decided a stuffed chicken breast sounded like a quick and easy dinner idea.  To make it even more quick and simple, I decided to use a muffin tin to bake the chicken in, thereby eliminating the need for rolling, securing with a toothpick and dredging in a coating.  I make a wonderful stuffed fish recipe this way and have for years; this was just an extension of that thought.  

For this recipe you can use boneless, skinless breasts, or if they are too large, slice them in half horizontally so they are thinner and will curl nicely in the large muffin cup.  You can also use tenders instead of whole breasts.  

Options for this recipe include adding sauteed mushrooms, a bit of onion, diced peppers, ham or provolone.  Play with the recipe and make it your own!

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Cream Cheese and Bacon
(low carb)

Chicken Breasts or tenders;  boneless, skinless (as many as you need to make)
1 pkg. cream cheese cubed into 8 cubes; use 1 per chicken coil - as many as you need to make
Options:  crumbled bacon, chives, diced peppers, jalapenos, ham cubes, spinach, mushrooms or anything!
Dixie Carb Counters Seasoned Bread Crumb Mix for low carb/sugar free or use Seasoned Bread Crumbs or a salt and pepper seasoned flour mixture
oil

Grease large muffin tins to the same number of chicken breasts you will be making.  
Coil 1 thinly sliced or pounded small chicken breast in each cup or use chicken tenders.
In the center of each coil place 1 cube of cream cheese.
Sprinkle with cooked, crumbled bacon (or ham diced, a teaspoon of thawed spinach, etc.)
Top with about 1/2 tablespoon of either a low-carb crumb mix or crushed pork rinds if you are low carbing or seasoned bread crumbs, flour or panko crumbs.
Spray the top with Pam style oil or drizzle with olive oil, just enough to moisten.
Bake at 375 for approximately 25 - 30 minutes until chicken is done.



Coiled in a large muffin tin instead of rolling and securing with toothpicks

I used cream cheese and bacon but try ham, spinach, peppers or anything!

Ready to bake!  I used a low carb crumb mix - you can use flour!



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9/17/12

Autumn... Perfect time for Caramel and Candied Apples

 

I'm not a fan of caramel apples myself, but my husband is.  Every Fall I make sure to whip up some homemade caramel apples for him.

Although I've made gourmet style apples in the past, drizzled in 2 kinds of chocolate and caramel over tiny bits of dark chocolate, toffee and candies, all wrapped in plastic wrap, then pretty cellophane and tied with a ribbon; you don't have to be fancy to be awesome.  These are so easy, it's a great project to do with your kids.  Yes, you may get a little bit messy from the sticky, ooey, gooey caramel, but that's part of the fun! 

Caramel Apples


Apples (washed, dried and refrigerated overnight)
1 package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
2 T water or milk
Candies of your choice (optional)
wooden popcicle sticks or craft sticks
parchment or foil

Using cold apples, push a wooden stick into the apple where the stem is (remove it).  Melt your caramels with milk or water either in a microwave or on the stove.  The microwave is easier and less likely to burn.  Microwave about 2 minutes - stirring once or twice during the process.  Have your caramel next to any candies, mini chocolate chips, crushed Oreos, toffee, etc. that you may with to use.  Dip and roll each apple quickly in caramel until well coated. Dip in or sprinkle candies if you wish to use them.  Place on parchment paper or buttered foil and allow to set until the caramel hardens a bit. 


As simple as clean, dry apples, caramels and some candy bits

What will you use? Mini chocolate chips? Candies?



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