A cookie a day until Christmas! 2018 Version - MACARONS

The holiday baking has begun here at the home of An American Housewife.  This early on, I only start with things that can be safely frozen in the deep freeze for a couple weeks.  Yesterday I made up 4 batches of cut-out sugar cookie dough, 2 batches of peppermint melt-away cookie dough and 3 batches of molasses cookie mixes.  All are just chilling in the refrigerator to bake (maybe tomorrow?).

Today was almond macaron bake day!  I ended up doing 4 batches.  I decided to make them all red so it would be easier later on to fill and sandwich them. 

I don't really care about taking pictures... and it's a 'good' day when I remember to grab my cellphone and take some.  So the only photo above is actually from a snapchat I sent to my family and friends on my snapchat 'story' and it happened to be from a 'thicker' batch so the little piping point didn't fall completely down flat.

Since no one pays me to blog and I don't care to spend oodles of time trying to take picture-perfect photos, you get what you get.  Quick snapshots on my cellphone.  :)

I made all 4 batches red with vanilla flavoring.  My initial plan will be to fill them with a white buttercream filling flavored  with a light peppermint and possibly rolling the edges in fine crushed peppermint candy.

But for now the almond macarons are baked, cooled, packaged and are resting in my deep freezer to be filled closer to Christmas.

Almond Macarons

1 cup fine quality almond flour
2 cups powdered sugar
3 egg whites
1/4 t cream of tartar
dash of salt
1/4 c fine granulated sugar

Mix the confectioner's sugar and almond flour very well either by pulsing in a food processor until combined or using an electric stick blender or electric whisk, sifting it, etc. It should be mixed very well and quite fine.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and a dash of salt; and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add a drop or two of food color if you are using it, a drop or two of flavor extracts if you are using them, and the fine white sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.  Take your time folding and don't rush it or you will break down the beaten egg whites.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip if you have one, or if not, leave the round 1/2 inch opening of the bag or the white plastic piece you would normally put a tip on, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  If you remember, drag the pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks (like you see in the photo above! Ha).

Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 18 minutes.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling of your choice. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Ready to add the almond flour/confectioner's sugar mixture...

Remember to get it nice and 'fine' by processing or sifting, etc. first.

Starting to fold it in... slowly.  Don't break down the egg whites.

Almost there!

Another random photo from my personal snapchat story to my family....  ha ha.

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - An American Housewife at Amazon


Grocery Delivery Online From Amazon: Do you live in an area where it's offered?

The first time I wanted to use a grocery delivery program was long (long long) before it was a 'thing'.  It was 2002 (I think) and a friend and her family had relocated across the country to the East coast for her husband to start a new job.  Although I knew they were struggling, I didn't realize how much until I picked up a few clues in a phone conversation we had.  Money was unbelievably tight and she was having a hard time affording groceries.  They had two girls in middle and elementary school at the time, and I decided I wanted to surprise them by gifting them with groceries.

Although I was prepared to buy various foods, box them up and send them through the mail, I went online to a very 'new' internet and found there at that time, just 2 grocery delivery services; so very brand new that almost no one had heard of them.  It was a hassle, and fairly expensive, but I did it and she was so very appreciative!  The gift of food is welcome almost anytime but for them, at that time, it was a dire need.

Flash forward...  Over the past six years or so, I've looked into various options for food delivery for my father-in-law.  He's 90 years old, lives out on a farm in a very, very small town in the midwest and although he drives to doctor's appointments, church and shopping - I would rather have him not have to do so in the winter months, on icy, snowy roads.  

I've looked at almost every option available from Schwans delivery to grocery delivery services, Walmart and other grocery stores delivery options and of course, Amazon... but because of his location it's difficult.  There aren't any really good options yet at this point for 'fresh' foods, because of where he lives.

On the flip-side however, I have family members who live in larger metro areas that have all sorts of options available to them.  And even if you live in an out of way 'small' city, sometimes you STILL have some great options.  My oldest daughter for example, orders almost everything (literally everything) online.  She primarily uses Amazon - but also uses other companies based on what she needs at the time.  She also utilizes Walmart's free pick-up service for fresh foods. In the past 6 months I believe she's only entered a grocery store (it was Walmart) one time and when she left she texted me to say THAT is why she only orders online!  She had 3 little ones with her (ages 4, 2 and a newborn) and she hasn't yet stepped foot in a store.  From Sam's Club to Walmart, to Amazon, Wayfair, pet companies and more...  she has everything from diapers to lettuce to shampoo either delivered or ready for drive-up pickup.

Which is where this post comes from today.  

I am (again) looking at all the options for food delivery to my father-in-law - as a Christmas present.  Because Amazon has made great strides in opening up their fresh food delivery service to more areas, I logged in to check my father-in-laws address.  It's still not offered for his location (and mine either for that matter) but because I'm an Amazon affiliate, and because my website is FOOD based, I decided to do a quick post so my readers might be able to check if this was something they would be interested in!

You can have FRESH FOODS delivered from Amazon if you live in a covered location; not just household goods and dry goods!  How does it work?  It's part of the Try AmazonFresh program.  You shop for your groceries online, schedule your delivery time... and it's delivered to your door.  Meats, vegetables, fruits along with whatever everyday essentials you need.

To see if your address is included in the delivery area just follow this link; Try AmazonFresh Free Trial


The Christmas Cookies are Coming!

I know my readers didn't know this, but I've been out of town (out of state, actually) most of the last 3-4 weeks.  But I'm home now and I think I get to stay home through December so guess what I get to start on?  Christmas cookies!!  I even bought a small, new, deep freezer to store them as it takes 3-4 weeks to get them all made and in order to make room for them in our normal deep freeze, I have to use up all our normal groceries. 

I have posted hundreds of Christmas Cookie recipes over the past 10 years and you can find them through the site search, or by label.  I will also be re-posting them and working on a few brand new ones this year.  I think my recipe list is currently hovering around 25 different recipes; some will be double and triple batches.


STOP WASTING FOOD: Use common sense and stop caring about what you THINK is an 'expiration' date

The only foods that are required by federal law to have expiration dates are baby food, infant formula, and over-the-counter medications.

Many canned and boxed products are safe to eat long after the date on the container, and the shelf life of refrigerated and frozen foods can be extended if they are handled properly.

Once a perishable item is frozen, it doesn’t matter if the date expires foods kept frozen continuously are safe indefinitely, though the quality slowly deteriorates over time. Here are some code dates you may see on food packages:

“Expiration Date” (Examples: “Expires 11/15/11” or “Do not use after 11/15/11”)

Look for it on: Baby food and formula, medicines,vitamins, yeast, baking powder.
What it means: Do not use infant formula, baby food, vitamins, or medicines after the expiration date. Yeast and baking powder work less well after expiration but are safe to eat.

“Pack Date” (Examples: “Packed on 03/01/2012” or “22:5306412” or “KL064”)

Look for it on: Canned food, crackers, cookies, spices.
What it means: This is the date the food was packaged. A code is often used that cannot be understood by the general public, often numbering days sequentially such that January 1 is day 001 and December 31 is day 365 (366 in leap years). Usually this food is of good quality and safe to eat for a long time past the date.

“Sell By” Date (Example: “Sell by January 1, 2012”. Also called “Pull Date”)

Look for it on: Refrigerated foods such as milk,yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, lunch meat,packaged salad mixes.
What it means: The store must sell these foods before the code date listed and often donates thesefoods when they are close to date. If the food has been handled properly it is still safe to eat andthe quality is good.

“Use By” or Quality Date (Examples: “Best if used by 1/1/12” or “Use Before 1/1/12”)

Look for it on: Crackers, cookies, cold cereals, and other dry, shelf stable food.
What it means:  This date is the manufacturer’s recommendation for how long the food will be at peak quality. After the quality date, the food is still safe to eat but slowly begins to lose nutrients and the quality begins to lessen.

Date Labeling and Impact on Food Waste

Confusion over the meaning of dates applied to food products can result in consumers discarding wholesome food. In an effort to reduce food waste, it is important that consumers understand that the dates applied to food are for quality and not for safety. Food products are safe to consume past the date on the label, and regardless of the date, consumers should evaluate the quality of the food product prior to its consumption.

More Info: USDA, Harvesters


Duncan Hines Classic White, Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti and Classic Yellow Cake Mixes Recalled Due to Potential Presence of Salmonella

Source: FDA

Conagra Brands is collaborating with health officials in connection with a positive finding of Salmonella in a retail sample of Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix that may be linked to a Salmonella outbreak that is currently being investigated by CDC and FDA. While it has not been definitively concluded that this product is linked to the outbreak and the investigation is still ongoing, Conagra has decided to voluntarily recall the specific Duncan Hines variety identified (Classic White) and three other varieties (Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti and Classic Yellow) made during the same time period out of an abundance of caution.

Five occurrences of illnesses due to Salmonella are being researched by CDC and FDA as part of this investigation. Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

Several of the individuals reported consuming a cake mix at some point prior to becoming ill, and some may have also consumed these products raw and not baked. Consumers are reminded not to consume any raw batter. Cake mixes and batter can be made with ingredients such as eggs or flour which can carry risks of bacteria that are rendered harmless by baking, frying or boiling. Consumers are reminded to wash their hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with raw batter products, to follow baking instructions, and to never eat raw batter.
The products covered by this recall were distributed for retail sale in the U.S. and limited international exports; the specific product information is listed below. No other Duncan Hines products or Conagra Brands’ products are impacted by this recall.

Product Description & BrandProduct UPCBest If Used By Date
(located on top of box)
Duncan Hines Classic White Cake 15.25oz.644209307500MAR 7 2019
MAR 8 2019
MAR 9 2019
MAR 10 2019
MAR 12 2019
MAR 13 2019
Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake 15.25oz.644209307494MAR 9 2019
MAR 10 2019
MAR 12 2019
MAR 13 2019
Duncan Hines Classic Butter Golden Cake 15.25oz.644209307593MAR 7 2019
MAR 8 2019
MAR 9 2019
Duncan Hines Signature Confetti Cake 15.25oz.644209414550MAR 12 2019
MAR 13 2019

Consumers who have purchased these items are advised not to consume them and to return them to the store where originally purchased. Conagra Brands is cooperating with the FDA on this recall and is working with customers to ensure the packages are removed from store shelves and are no longer distributed. Consumers with questions should call our Consumer Care team at 1-888-299-7646, open 9 am through 5 pm EST, Monday through Friday or visit www.duncanhines.com.


Thanksgiving Bread Idea: Homemade (beautiful!) Garlic Herb Pull Apart Bread

Baked and ready to serve

Elegant Garlic Herb Pull Apart Bread

4 1/2 t - (2 pkg.)  active, dry yeast
1/2 c warm water
1 t sugar
1/3 c additional sugar
1 1/4 c warm milk
1/2 c butter, melted
2 eggs
1 t salt
6 c flour (additional 1 cup on stand by)
1-2 T fresh, minced garlic
2 T fresh, chopped parsley or 2 t dried
1 t garlic salt (optional - cut out if you need to cut down on salt)
4 T butter, soft

In a large mixing bowl, place the yeast and warm water with the 1 teaspoon sugar.  Stir gently and let set about 1 minute to dissolve.  Add the milk, melted butter, eggs, salt, 1/3 c sugar and about 3-4 cups flour.  Stir by hand or use your bread dough hook on the electric mixer and stir to form a soft dough starting with 3 cups flour and adding more to get the dough to form.  This should be a total of about 6 cups.   Knead by hand on a floured board 6-8 minutes or by mixer with dough hook, about 4-5 minutes.  In a greased bowl, turn once to cover the dough with oil or grease, cover and let raise until doubled in height.  This could be 25 minutes to an hour or more depending on how warm the area you are letting it raise is.

Punch down dough and place on a floured surface.  Divide dough into 4 portions.  The bread I made above was using just 2 dough portions of the dough and using the other two for something else.

Roll each portion into a rectangle about 14 inches by 6 inches.  Spread about 2 tablespoons of the butter over the rectangle and use half your garlic, garlic salt and parsley to sprinkle over the dough.   Fold the dough up accordion style (back and forth, back and forth) about every 2 inches.  Cut the folded dough into slices about 1 1/2 inches wide with a very sharp knife.  Place them standing up in a round, greased pan with the folds showing upwards.  Continue with your dough to fill a round circle in the pan.

Cover loosely and let raise in a warm place about 15-20 minutes just until it starts to raise and get puffy.  Bake at 375 degrees about 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bread is done.  Let cool about 3 minutes in the pan before turning out to a wire rack.  Let cool about 5-10 minutes before serving warm.

Covering with fresh, minced garlic, garlic salt and parsley

Folded accordion style and sliced

Placed in a greased baking pan to form a ring

Let raise

Baked and ready to serve

This recipe originally came from an old cookbook I have - it looks like it's still available through Amazon too (as of this posting)

Taste of Home Christmas 2010


Any round baking pan will do... here is a link to one also on Amazon if you need one

Fat Daddio's Anodized Aluminum Round Cake Pan

And lastly - I baked the bread in the photos above in my sun oven (a solar oven you set outside and literally bake using heat from the sun).  I have fun baking with it, and if you are interested, you can order any number of different styles.  The one I use/have is this one:

 All American Sun Oven- The Ultimate Solar Appliance


If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - An American Housewife at Amazon

Buying small kitchen appliances or household items for Christmas? Can I ask a favor?

Buying small kitchen appliances or household items for Christmas?  Can I ask a favor?

These link to products available to order and purchase through my Amazon affiliate links. If you already plan to purchase anything by these brands, I would ask you to please do through one of my links. And if you are considering any purchase for yourself or someone else, you just want to research, price compare or look at the reviews, I also ask you to please considering using one of my affiliate links. Thank you so very much!


Perfect Homemade Bread - You can make it in your bread machine

Our family may eat primarily low carb and sugar free but I'm a carb lover when it comes to bread and pasta and sometimes, especially on chilly Fall days or cold winter nights I crave homemade breads.  It's that time of year when I start to make more homemade soups and stews, and what goes better than a slice of homemade bread? 

This one is my 'go to' recipe when I don't actually want to do any work to make the bread... I just want to eat it.  I've used this recipe for the 20 years that I've had my bread machine - although you'll see in my notes at the bottom that it's such a great recipe that you can adapt it to make it in your electric mixer bowl with a bread hook or even by hand (with lots of kneading!).  I usually take out about a cup of flour and replace with some whole wheat flour or flax meal, and I often just use my machine to make this dough and then form it into dinner rolls or hamburger buns.  It's very adaptable.

This time it's the 'no work' loaf of homemade bread right from your machine.  Make sure you have a 'large' machine as you need the 2 pound or 'large loaf' setting.  Put in the ingredients, turn it on and a few hours later, you'll have homemade bread ready to serve.

Classic Homemade Bread in Your Bread Machine

12 oz. warm water
1 1/2 t salt
2 T butter
4 c unbleached or bleached bread flour (or use all purpose if that is what you already have on hand*)
2 T dry milk powder
2 T sugar
1 3/4 t yeast, dry

Place the ingredients in your bread machine (in the order your machine requires).  If you've lost your instruction manual or can't find it, almost all bread machines off their manuals online.  Do an internet search and you'll find a copy. In mine, I place the water, butter and salt in first;  followed by the flour, dry milk and sugar.  Then use my knuckle or finger to make a little dip/hallow or indentation in the top and put the yeast there.

Use your setting for a 2 pound loaf or large loaf.  Remove from your machine when finished and let cool on your counter until time for serving.

*This recipe can also be adapted to make dinner rolls, hamburger buns, bread braids, etc. Even pizza crusts.  Just use your dough setting on your machine.  I've also used this particular recipe to make it from scratch by hand (lots of work but it's what our great grandmothers did!) and I typically and usually just use my KitchenAid mixer to mix it up with the bread dough hook attachment.

I've posted this recipe in various forms many times on An American Housewife since 2006. You can find adaptations in my search engine or if you want to see the 'dough' instructions for the mixer and how I made them into buns, one of my posts can be found here:  http://www.housewifebarbie.com/2012/05/homemade-rolls-or-hamburger-buns.html.

*Although this recipe doesn't work using all whole wheat flour, you can replace a portion of the bread or AP flour with whole wheat.  I grind my own whole grain wheat from wheat berries and as you can tell in the photos in this post it has some 'wheat' to it and it's not all white bread.  I replaced about 2/3 cup with whole wheat and tossed in a bit of vital wheat gluten with vitamin C - although neither of these are necessary for this recipe.  It was/is originally an all white bread.  I've also added ground flax seed to this recipe without any issues.  It's pretty adaptable.


If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - American Housewife at Amazon

Although the maker of my bread machine no longer produces them (Regal) there are still plenty on the market - here are some links to some on Amazon and the 2nd one (Hamilton Beach) has a gluten free setting, which I found interesting as we typically eat low carb and what free in our home so I regularly bake with almond flour. 
  1. KBS Bread Machine, Automatic 2LB Bread Maker with Nuts Dispenser, LCD Display Touch Control, 3 Crust Colors 17 Menus, 1 Hour Keep Warm 15 Hours Delay Time, Gluten Free Whole Wheat, Stainless Steel
  2. Hamilton Beach (29882) Bread Maker, 2 Pound Capacity Bread Maker machine, Gluten Free Setting, Programmable, Black
  3. Oster Ckstbrtw20 2-pound Expressbake Breadmaker
  4. Cuisinart CBK-100 2 LB Bread Maker


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