4/19/21

From my Instagram: Cheddar Crisp Crackers - Keto, low carb and one ingredient

 

I posted this 'recipe' a couple years ago and haven't posted new photos or versions since then, although they've been made quite often!  Here is this weeks versions as I finally grabbed my cellphone while I was making them so I could post new photos.

I also tried to use a sharp cheddar this time that came in 'snack sticks' that are long square shaped logs.  I thought they would be quick and easy and make nice shapes but the Sargento brand I used was not drying out sufficiently.  I cut the little bites into tiny squares but they took a long time to dry out and even then, weren't as nice as the flat slices.  They did puff up and pop a bit but were not as dry and crisp as the flat squares and stayed more chewy.  I had to 'repop' them 2 or 3 times to get them as dry and crunchy as the square crackers.  I don't plan to make those again.


Homemade Cheese Crisp Crackers

Sliced 'hard' cheese of your choice - but 'real' cheese only.  Not 'American' or other soft cheese.

Salt
Spices, herbs - optional


I prefer to buy the sliced cheddar and sliced Swiss from  Sam's Club (in the black tub packaging) as it's the perfect thickness but it's also good quality so it makes a good quality crisp cracker with less prep work on my part. If I use a block cheese, I slice it in my food processor using the slicing blade.  

Lay out as many slices as you wish on a sheet of parchment paper or paper towels.  Use a knife to cut the slices into 1" squares, or use whatever little shape mini cutters you wish.  

Lay out all your little cheese shapes on the parchment paper on the counter for about 2-4 days so they start to get dried out.  I laid them out on my dehydrator trays!  I loved this as it was a compact place to keep them, I could rearrange the trays for optimal air circulation and I could easily flip them over and pat them dry with a paper towel. 

As they sit out, the excess oil can be patted with a paper towel.  After about a day or two (depending on where you live and your humidity level) they will be rather empty or hallow sounding when you tap them on the counter, and will start to be dried out.  (Currently very humid where I live and I left them for 4 days.) When they can be tapped on the counter top and sound 'empty' but are firm enough to tap, pop them onto a parchment sheet on a baking pan, add any sprinkles of salt or flavoring if you wish, and put them into a hot, 400-425 degree oven.  Bake them for about 3-5 minutes.  The oils left in them will cause them to 'pop' and crisp and sometimes even jump around the pan.  (I found 4-5 minutes at 400 or 3 minutes at 425 was about right for my oven.)

Pull them out, let them cool... they should be nice and crisp!  Eat them as you wish.   I now use my vacuum food sealer to seal them into air-tight bags to keep them crisp if we don't eat them all right away. 

 

 2021 photos:   Cheddar slices, cut into squares

  

Air dried a few days and ready to pop into the oven.

 

 



Video of them sizzle and popping.  It takes about 4-5 minutes at 400 degrees or 3-4 minutes at 425 degrees.



Let them cool completely and they crisp up like a cracker

These are the squares I mentioned in my post above.  They take longer to dry out, and didn't bake up as nice and crisp as the flat squares.  I would have to leave them 2-3 more days to dry out more I think but I'll probably just stick to making square crackers!





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   ParmCrisps Original, 1.75 oz (Pack of 12), 100% Cheese Crisps, Keto Friendly, Gluten Free

  Moon Cheese - 100% Natural Cheese Snack - Variety (Cheddar, Gouda, Pepper Jack) 2 oz - 3 Pack

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4/15/21

From my Instagram - Reposting my Cheese Crisp Crackers - 1 ingredient - low carb, sugar free and keto

From today's Instagram - Homemade Cheese Crisp Crackers

This was posted a couple years ago but this week I'm busy making a bunch of these as well as the cheese 'puffs' version (like Moon Cheese) so I thought I'd post this again, and added a photo of finished cheddar crackers.   The new cheddar crisp post is on April 19, 2021.



I've made cheese crackers of various styles and all have their pros and cons depending on what you want to use them with, eat them with or what you are hungry for.  This particular crisp is good for snacking, and it's my go-to to use with spinach artichoke dip. 

Whether you want to flavor them with herbs or spices is up to you.  I do both - again, depending on what I want to use them with.  My favorite is plain, with just a smidgen of salt.  But I did flavor a batch of swiss cheese style a couple different ways...  do some taste tests and see what you like best!


Homemade Cheese Crisp Crackers

Sliced 'hard' cheese of your choice - but 'real' cheese only.  Not 'American' or other soft cheese.
optional: Salt, spices, herbs

Slice your cheese thin, lay it out on paper towels or parchment on the counter/table at room temperature for at least 2 days, up to 4 or 5 to dry it out.  Pat off the oils as they accumulate.  When they are rather dry and a bit hallow sounding when you tap on them with a fingernail, preheat your oven to 400-425.  Place the cheese slices on parchment and bake in the hot oven for 2-5 minutes.  Usually about 3 minutes does it.  They will sizzle and 'pop' and puff up.  When they start to turn golden, remove from the oven and let cool completely.  They will be crisp and dry like a cracker.


MORE DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS:

  • If I use a block cheese, I slice it in my food processor using the slicing blade.  However I prefer to buy the sliced cheddar and sliced Swiss from  Sam's Club (in the black tub packaging) as it's the perfect thickness but it's also good quality so it makes a good quality crisp cracker with less prep work on my part.
  • Lay out as many slices as you wish on a sheet of parchment paper.  Use a knife to cut the slices into 1" squares, or use whatever little shape mini cutters you wish.  If you use a shape cutter, save the cuttings and place them into a Ziploc baggy and toss them into the freezer to use for another dish, just as you would grated cheese.
  • Now, lay out all your little cheese shapes on the parchment paper on the counter for about 2 days so they start to get dried out.  I laid them out on my dehydrator trays!  I loved this as it was a compact place to keep them, I could rearrange the trays for optimal air circulation and I could easily flip them over and pat them dry with a paper towel. 
  • As they sit out, the excess oil them can be patted with a paper towel.  After about a day or two (depending on where you live and your humidity level) they will be rather empty or hallow sounding when you tap them on the counter, and will start to be dried out.  When they can be tapped on the counter top and sound 'empty' but are firm enough to tap, pop them onto a parchment sheet on a baking pan, add any sprinkles of salt or flavoring if you wish, and put them into a hot, 400 degree oven.  Bake them for about 5.  The oils left in them will cause them to 'pop' and crisp and sometimes even jump around the pan. 
  • Pull them out, let them cool... they should be nice and crisp!  Eat them as you wish.   If we don't finish all of them, I put them in a vacuum food sealed bag or Mason jar.  In a Mason jar or Ziplock, they may go a bit soft due to the humidity, I re-crisp them by popping them into the oven for about 3 minutes.  Vacuum sealed, they stay crisp as long as they are sealed.





These are Swiss cheese



I simply lay them on my dehydrator trays to dry out.  I don't use the dehydrator turned on because it will only melt the cheese.  You don't want to melt it, just air dry it.


You can try different spices or herbs.  I wanted to make a chicken in a biscuit type on one batch so I used chicken flavoring and onion powder along with a bit of rosemary and garlic...  yum!  I also made some chipolate and paprika crackers but I like them plain with no seasonings best of all.



I like to use block cheese sliced in my food processor so all the slices are uniform, for even baking.


You can let them lay out on the counter.  I like to use the trays from my dehydrator as it keeps them in a more compact area and takes up less space.




These are my current 'go to' for use with spinach artichoke dip, guacamole and yellow pepper cream cheese dips. YUM!

 
 
Cheddar...






The little white appetizer cutter I'm using in the photos is one I got probably 15+ years ago as a free gift for something or other.  I've never really used it much outside of once in a while cutting up meat or cheese for fun little sandwiches when the kids were younger.  I was THRILLED to use it for these cheese crisp crackers!  It's getting a LOT of use now.  I'm not sure what to call it but basically, any small cookie cutter shape will work.  Or just use a knife and cut straight lines to make squares.


A quick 10 second search at Amazon brought up these little cutters which would work just fine!



  Newline Stainless Steel Dessert Rings (12 Pcs) Molding, Layering, Cake Cutter

   Vegetable Cutter Shapes Set,Mini Pie,Fruit and Cookie Stamps Mold,Cookie Cutter Decorative Food,for Kids Baking and Food Supplement Tools Accessories Crafts for Kitchen,Green,9 Pcs

   Chef'n Quick Stick Snack Slicer for Vegetable Snacks and Appetizers with Stainless Steel Blades


For those of you who have decided buying a bag of cheese crisps is more your style than making them homemade... here ya go!  Amazon links to a couple below!  Ha ha.

   ParmCrisps Original, 1.75 oz (Pack of 12), 100% Cheese Crisps, Keto Friendly, Gluten Free

  Moon Cheese - 100% Natural Cheese Snack - Variety (Cheddar, Gouda, Pepper Jack) 2 oz - 3 Pack


 



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4/14/21

I'm smitten! Smitten with my new Nesco Vacuum Food Sealer! (Photos too)

Over the years it's no secret I loved my vacuum food sealer.  I think the first time I posted about it was back in 2015 - (this might be the first post mentioning it) and although it was a cheap Weston brand that my husband picked up on clearance at Lowe's for probably about $50, it just now, in 2021 was replaced.  (It's still working fine but the heating element has a couple weak spots during sealing and they don't have my exact model part number heating element in stock so I just decided to get a new one anyway.)

After researching for a couple months and standing in various store aisles debating while staring, shifting my weight from one foot to another, cocking my head sideways and nibbling my bottom lip; I ended up ordering my new vacuum food sealer off Amazon.  

I knew I didn't want to go with a FoodSaver brand.  I also knew I wanted a 'budget friendly' version.  I didn't want a Chinese 'name brand' knock-off that no one has ever heard of.  But I wanted one that had a good reputation, was budget-friendly and got good reviews.

In the end I went with a brand I knew.  NESCO.  I'm pretty sure NESCO is the brand of roaster my grandmother had at her house for a million years before she passed away.  I think she got hers around the late 1930's or 1940 - and for all I know, it's still working to this day for whomever ended up with Grandma's roaster oven after she passed.

The NESCO VS-12 Deluxe  

 

 

 

Here is the manual showing the series I chose and the features.

It has 3 “Seal” settings; Dry, Moist, and Double.  When I saw on some video reviews it offered a double seal option, that was a primary reason I looked closer at this one.  I seal a lot of foods with moisture in them and I love the 'double' seal option!

The second thing I LOVE LOVE LOVE about this one - that I didn't pay any attention to before I bought it but now I never want to be without it is the PULSE option.

When I sealed foods in the Weston Harvest Guard, it had a built in vacuum/seal but you had no real control over it.  I always ended up getting marinades and juices sucked up to the top of the bag (and out of it) and then the seal wouldn't seal well.  I had to always seal a paper towel inside to try to catch the moisture before it got to the top of the bag or wouldn't seal well.  THE NESCO SOLVES THAT.  

Using the pulse option, I pulse the vacuum until I see the moisture is up near the top, then I simply stop the vacuum and it 'holds' it (the Weston didn't) and then I hit manual seal. It sealed marinated steaks and pork chops perfectly this week.

It also has a 'gentle' vacuum verses a normal vacuum for foods that are more crushable.


 



When I bought it, I paid $99 but I see today (as of this posting actually) I just went to Amazon to get a link and saw it was $94.99 at this second. 


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4/9/21

"Gifted" a large crate of leftover green beans - time to FREEZE GREEN BEANS (post with photos included)

Gifted with beans... lots and lots (and lots) of beans.
 
Last night a family member came over and dropped off a huge crate of... green beans.
They were leftover from a church donation thing of some sort but they weren't really useable because they had 'lived' in the crate for a few more days than they should have, they were starting to go bad. 

Ok - Most were past 'starting' to go bad; and about half were pretty gross.  But others were just fine.  It would just be a pretty time consuming task to go through them all.  The family member (and apparently no one else of the 10 or so people who had a chance to take the beans before they made their way to me) were up to it.
 
I quickly snapped a picture of the crate that I took outside - one of the two bags of "not acceptable" discards is still inside it. 
 


I don't like to waste anything so around 6:00 I turned on the music app on my phone and got to work painstakingly going through the crate of beans.  I had two grocery store bags full of unacceptable (read: gross) green beans but I ended up with a nice amount left.

Although I had originally thought I'd pressure can them - I really didn't have enough to go through the hassle of getting it all out and it was already about 8:00 pm by this point so I just decided to freeze them.

To freeze green beans


Pick through your fresh green beans, remove those with rust, fungus, etc.
Wash them in cold water.
Snap or snip off the ends.  Leave whole or snap/snip in half.
Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
Prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice in it.
Submerge an amount green beans into the boiling water. 
The amount needs to be not so large that it would stop the water boiling. You want a constant boil.
Work in batches.
Boil the green beans for 3 minutes and remove promptly.
Submerge or dump the green beans into the ice water to stop the cooking process.
Swirl them a bit with your hands or a spoon to evenly cool, then remove to another bowl.
Repeat until all the beans are finished, adding fresh ice as needed to keep the water cold.
Place the amount of beans you wish into your freezer container of choice.
Freeze.

 
  

Cooling down quickly to stop the cooking process

Ready to put into freezer containers

 
I did not plan to do a post on this so I didn't take any more photos and didn't take a picture of the finished products last night.  I simply went to bed.  But I did have the above photos on my phone as I had sent them to a family member while I was doing it.
 
So I quickly went to the freezer just now, grabbed two of the bags out and took a picture!  Ha ha.
 
I opted to use a food sealer for ours but you can use any freeze container you wish.
The white at the tops of the bags are paper towels.  When I food seal anything with moisture
I add paper towels in the bags prior to sealing to catch the moisture before the vacuum process.


 I got about 5 1/2 lbs. of 'useable' green beans from the crate.




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I opted to use a food sealer to quickly vacuum seal my green beans. If you are interested, you can find many different options of sealers at your local retailers or through Amazon.

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4/5/21

My favorite all-time blue cheese dressing!!!

I posted this in March of 2016.  I've made it a zillion bajillion times since I first started to make it (so many years and years ago I can't even remember), and made it again today as we are having hot wings tonight for dinner and my husband prefers blue cheese dressing to ranch with his wings.

I've not posted it in a long time so here is a re-post of it. 

 

Blue Cheese Dressing or if you want to be all fancy about it:
Bleu Cheese Dressing

1/2 c mayonnaise
1 c sour cream
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 T scant - white or rice wine vinegar
2 t lemon juice
1/4 t onion powder
1/2 t worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 - 3/4 c good quality crumbled blue cheese

Blend and chill at least 2 hours before using.  Best the next day.
*I don't even bother putting in the onion powder anymore.  I haven't for about 5 years now so that's totally optional.  Leave it out if you wish.  The Worchestershire sauce is also optional but just a tiny dash does give it something extra.






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