2/29/16

Sugar Free No Bake Cookies - Oatmeal and Cocoa (no peanut butter version)




I don't know about today's junior high cooking classes, but for at least 30 or 40 years these were one of the first things students would learn to make in Home Ec class (later called Consumer and Family Science and who knows what they are calling it now...).

Now that I'm a grown up, I shudder at the 2 cups of sugar that is usually in it as well!  Sometimes these are made with peanut butter but this week I opted for the non-peanut butter version.  IF YOU WANT TO ADD PEANUT BUTTER YOU CAN.  Just add a 1/2 cup of your favorite peanut butter to the hot mixture and stir smooth and then add the vanilla and oats.

If you are not using Truvia but are using Ideal or Just Like Sugar, etc. those measure cup for cup like sugar so you can use 1 1/2 - 2 cups.  If you use Truvia, it only takes half the measured amount so you use 3/4 cup.  I also like to add about 10 drops liquid sweetener as I think the mixture of at least 2 natural sweeteners gives a better flavor and sweetens better than just using 1 single sweetener.






No Bake Cookies

3/4 c granulated Truvia or 1 1/2 c other brands
4 T butter
1/2 c coconut or almond milk
1/3 c cocoa
1-2 t vanilla
3 c oats - quick or regular


Combine sugar, butter, milk and cocoa in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Boil 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in oatmeal and vanilla.  Drop portions onto foil or parchment paper. Let stand until firm.



Some related products available from Amazon if you can't find them locally:
Ideal
Just Like Sugar
Truvia Baking Blend Sweetener


   
 






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2/28/16

Paleo Bread made with Almond Flour

I forgot to take an 'after' photo - so I quickly took one of my breakfast! Paleo bread - toasted with butter


I don't have to eat wheat-free but I like to to some extent for various reasons and I'm always looking for a decent almond bread recipe.  Most of the versions you find, well, almost anywhere are all very similar.  This one I made last week and I liked it better than the 'spongy' versions - but it didn't raise hardly at all (which is very common for almond breads).

Why do I bother adding any yeast to an almond bread?  I use yeast because I love (love love love) breads and I want the yeast smell and flavor to my bread even if it's not actually accomplishing much.  The 'starch' in this recipe is used for bulk and a filler - it's a resistant starch which means it is not digested by your body like 'bad' starches and sugar are; it passes though as fiber.  You can use arrowroot powder, or corn starch, but also wheat resistant starch 75 if you can have it/use it. 

This will not raise so using a 'smaller' loaf pan gives you a taller bread.  We used it toasted (like in the picture of my breakfast I snapped on my iphone) or made into garlic bread and toasted in the oven.

Almond Flour Bread

3 c almond meal or flour (I used natural since it is a bread - no need to use expensive blanched almond flour)
1 c arrowroot powder or 1 c wheat resistant starch (will be cutting this down even more next time)
1/2 c psyllium husk powder (or you can use flaxmeal)
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 pk. quick rise yeast (doesn't actually make it rise, you can leave it out)
7 eggs - 7 egg whites is better for rising but I used whole eggs since I had nothing else to use yolks for right now
2 t sugar free honey
2 t Truvia sweetener
2 t apple cider vinegar
1/3 c grapeseed or olive oil
1 c water - use as much as needed

In a bowl place the almond flour, starch or arrowroot powder, psyllium husk or flaxmeal, salt, baking soda and yeast if you are choosing to use it.  Whip eggs in another bowl until light in color and foamy.  Add the honey, sweetener, vinegar and oil to the eggs and mix with the dry.  As you stir, it should be a thick batter.  Due to different brands of products, you may need to add water.  I used 1 cup of water to moisten the batter.
Place in a well greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for about an hour.  Your oven, the size of your pan and the brands of products used will change bake times.  Mine needed to go just over an hour due to my thicker bread pan. Cool.  Turn out. 

Final Thoughts:  If I want to make a bread without any wheat at all, this is probably one I'll continue to make but with these changes;  less resistant starch, egg whites and not whole eggs (to help with rising), leaving out the yeast as the taste didn't come through enough to make a huge difference, adding 2 t citric acid and using sparkling water as the citric acid and sparkling water will help the bread rise.










 



You might also be interested in these products from Amazon;

Natural Almond Flour - 25 Pound Bag
Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour Natural, 16-Ounce
Kitchen Supply Toaster Oven Loaf Pan 7.5-inch by 3.75-inch by 2.25-inch


    









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2/26/16

An Update to my Homemade Spinach & Feta Chicken Sausages - Round 2! Chicken, Garlic and Spinach Sausage



The last week of December I posted a recipe and photos of the process I used to make homemade chicken sausages.  This week I made more and wanted to update about the casings as well as how I made them this time - tweaking the recipe a bit.
  • I thought I had a new package of feta but I didn't so I left it out this time (had about 2 T).
  • I increased the amount of garlic and seasonings.
  • After trimming the fatback, you lose much of the weight so I used two packages plus a little bacon.
I am VERY thrilled with this version - a little more fat, heavier on the spices and the addition of the bacon.
Another important item to update:  The casings were still perfect to use.  According to the package, you store unused casings in the bag with the addition of more salt.  I did this in December, pulled them out and they were exactly the same as when I bought them.  Worked great and were fresh.  I used a couple more, re-added some salt to the package and back into the back of the refrigerator they went!  (The casings I used I linked to at the bottom of this post) - I bought mine from Amazon.

Homemade Chicken Sausage with Spinach and Garlic

5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cubed
2 - 1 lb. packages fatback, cubed (I found this at Walmart - it adds the moisture you need in this recipe)
6-8 slices bacon
1 1/2 T ground coriander
2-4 t salt (start with 2 and adjust after you taste test.  I like to use 3)
2 T fresh garlic, pressed, chopped or minced
3/4 c spinach (I used frozen, chopped style)
1/4 c olive oil
dash or two of lemon juice
dash of lemon pepper
Meat Grinder
Casings of your choice

Follow the directions on your meat grinder.  Grind the chicken, fatback, bacon, garlic and spinach into a large bowl.  Add the rest of your seasoning ingredients to the ground mixture in the bowl.  Mix well.  Taste test by cooking a small patty of your mixture on the stove in a bit of oil.  Adjust the flavorings to your liking and test again.  When you are happy with the cooked taste of your sausage, continue.

Attach the stuffing tool per your grinder's instructions.  Attach the casing onto the stuffing tube per your grinder's instructions and your casing instructions regarding whether your casings need to be rinsed first, etc.  Re-feed the chicken now ground and seasoned, into the machine and form long tubes per your casing instructions being sure to secure the end first so your sausage doesn't come out!  Be sure not to overstuff, you want to leave room to twist and form sausages.

Holding the rope in small sections in my hands like a tiny jump rope, I spin the sausages a couple times away from me to twist the ends. This forms a sausage.  Now I moved my hands down a little more and holding the first twist in my left hand, and squishing the sausage up about an inch on the right, I placed my fingers there and I spun another chunk of the sausage, but this time spinning towards me (the opposite way).

Continue moving your hands down small sections of the sausage rope, alternating spinning the 'jump rope' away from you and towards you, which forms the twists between the sausages. Make sure you are squishing enough room between the sausage links (about an inch) to form the twists.  Let the ropes set while you finish all the chicken mixture.  You can store as is, or snip them apart with scissors.  These freeze well.  I seal them in food saver style packages, and place in freezer.  To prepare, thaw and boil, broil or grill.  I like to parboil them in 2 inches of water in a saucepan on the stove and then when I'm ready to serve, I just quickly grill or broil them to make them golden brown and crisp on the outside. 



Here is a copy of the original post from December, 2015




I made this up as I went along and 'taste tested' it at 2 different points which I recommend you do too.  To taste test - take some of the mixture when you think are pretty happy with it - and form a small patty.  Cook it in a pan on your stove top and then taste.  Do you think it needs a little more salt?  Garlic?  Add.  Taste test again.  

My Homemade Chicken Spinch and Feta Sausages

4 - 4 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cubed
1 - 1 1/2 lb. fatback, cubed (I found this at Walmart - it adds the moisture you need in this recipe)
1 T ground coriander
2-4 t salt (start with 2 and adjust after you taste test.  I like to use 3)
1 T garlic, minced
3/4 c feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 c spinach (I used frozen, chopped style)
1/4 c olive oil
Optional:  dash or two of a lemon, garlic mixture of your choice brand or lemon pepper)
Meat Grinder
Casings of your choice

Follow the directions on your meat grinder.  Grind the chicken, fatback and spinach into a large bowl.  Add the rest of your ingredients to the ground mixture in the bowl.  Mix well.  Taste test by cooking a small patty of your mixture on the stove in a bit of oil.  Adjust the flavorings to your liking and test again.  When you are happy with the cooked taste of your sausage, continue.

Attach the stuffing tool per your grinder's instructions.  Attach the casing onto the stuffing tube per your grinder's instructions and your casing instructions regarding whether your casings need to be rinsed first, etc.  Re-feed the chicken now ground and seasoned, into the machine and form long tubes per your casing instructions being sure to secure the end first so your sausage doesn't come out!  Be sure not to overstuff, you want to leave room to twist and form sausages.

I don't have the little wires to form sausages, so I used the 'twist it' style.  Holding the rope in small sections in my hands like a tiny jump rope, I spin the sausages a couple times away from me to twist the ends. This forms a sausage.  Now I moved my hands down a little more and holding the first twist in my left hand, and squishing the sausage up about an inch on the right, I placed my fingers there and I spun another chunk of the sausage, but this time spinning towards me (the opposite way).

Continue moving your hands down small sections of the sausage rope, alternating spinning the 'jump rope' away from you and towards you, which forms the twists between the sausages. Make sure you are squishing enough room between the sausage links (about an inch) to form the twists.

I let the ropes set while I finished stuffing another casing.  You could store them as is, but I wanted to cut mine apart and seal them in groups of 3 or 4 in individual food saver style bags in the deep freeze.  I snipped them apart, and only had 2 open up on me that I had stuffed a little tight and had to redo.  You could probably par-boil them at this point, let them cool complete and freeze them, or use them right away.  I sealed mine, and put them in the deep freeze.  When I make them, I put them in the refrigerator to thaw and then put them into 2 inches of water in a pan on the stove to pre-cook them - then finish them on the grill or under the broiler.  We don't have to serve anything 'with' these as a condiment - they are so good all by themselves.  We have them plain with a side dish or serve in a bun like a brat or a hotdog.





My very simple, one speed Weston meat grinder.  Nothing fancy!


Grinding the chicken breasts

 I packaged some ground chicken as is - unseasoned - to use in taco's later


The fatback adds moisture to the sausage.  Don't skip this or they will be dry and crumbly!
I found mine at Walmart in the packaged meat department.

 Adding the spinach


The casings I bought online come like this - and you have to rinse them before use

Yeah, they kind of look gross. Ha ha.

Put the stuffing attachment on your machine and have a couple casings ready.
I only used 2 long strips (but I didn't know so I had more ready just in case)

Threading the casing on the attachment.

Ready to tie off the end and begin stuffing

Don't push or pull.  Just let the machine fill gently and guide it.  Don't overstuff.

If there are any air bubbles you can poke through the casing with a clean pin to make them disappear.

Resting while I finish a second casing.


I snipped them apart and packaged them into 3 and 4 sausages per bag to freeze

We ate 4 right away and sealed the rest to store in the freezer

Marked and ready to store





As I mentioned above, I got my Weston grinder (and the food saver) at Lowe's.  But you can get them or a hundred other options at Amazon if you don't have a Lowe's near you.  I ordered my sausage casings online from Amazon - I'll link to the exact ones I purchased here, below. 

Weston 575 Watt Electric Heavy Duty Grinder, Silver
Weston 36-2201-W Manual Meat Grinder, No: 22
Natural Hog Casings for Sausage


   





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