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.  Will update with this weeks too.



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.

Salt
Spices, herbs - optional


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 5-6 minutes.  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 baggy or Mason jar.  The next day if they've gone a bit soft due to the humidity, I re-crisp them by popping them into the oven for about 3 minutes.  Viola! Crisp again.

I've never kept them more than 2 days.  They are long gone by then. 



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 paperika crackers but I like the rosemary/onion version better, and plain with no seasonings best of all.


After baking, let them cool (you can let them cool on paper towels to soak up any remaining oils).




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 and yellow pepper cream cheese dips. YUM!






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.




______________________________________


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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4/2/21

My personal favorite substitution for honey and corn syrup since we are sugarfree and low carb/keto ...

I never had a problem giving up real honey when we went sugar free and low carb twenty years ago.  I never really ate it anyway because I absolutely hate the smell and taste of honey! 

However, there times when I've needed honey for a dish or dessert I was making or baking and until I found this one particular brand of imitation 'sugar free' I was never happy with the others or the results of homemade substitutions. (I'll post more on a couple of those below.) 

The one I found about 9 (?) years ago was Honey Tree's brand and I found it at my local Walmart.   But alas, about a year ago my local Walmart stopped carrying it!  I thought it was a Covid shortage thing, so I was patient but it never came back.  Even when I checked online Walmart showed I could order it, but it was not available in any store or to pick up within 50 miles of me.

So now I order it online.

Honey Tree's brand imitation honey looks basically like 'real' honey.  It's also nice and thick like real honey.  It has 17 g carbs per serving but those are all sugar alcohol.  Some people may have digestive issues if they are really sensitive to Malitol, which is what this product is made from.  However!  I am typically sensitive to it in other items and I have no issues whatsoever with this.

WHAT DO I LIKE TO USE IT FOR?

1)  My homemade sugar free "Oh Henry Bars"
2)  Sugar Free, Low Carb Pecan Pie
3)  Honey Mustard Sauce for Chicken
4)  Certain Muffin Recipes
5)  Tea
6)  Certain Peanut Butter recipes that call for Honey
7)  Certain Chinese Food recipes that call for Honey

and more (I know other people like it in their oatmeal and their yogurt).

I find this particular brand works wonderful not only as a honey substitute but it's my 'go to' substitute for corn syrup!!  My pecan pie and Oh Henry Bars call for corn syrup and a few years ago I randomly grabbed this to substitute and found it worked so well, I've never bothered using anything else.

NOTES:  I ordered mine from Amazon (in the photo above).  I was more than happy to go back and link to it for my readers but although my order literally just arrived this afternoon, when I went back to the order to link, the price had gone up substantially!

Now, you know how Amazon does that; the price jumps all over the place based on how you find the item, what else you've looked at, whether or not you've had it in your cart or a list for 'awhile' and any other number of reasons based on the tracking cookies on your website.  So if you are ordering it from there, make sure you are happy with the price.  


This is the brand I love for the light taste, thickness, color and texture.  I use it for both 'honey' and 'corn syrup' when I want sugar free.


HoneyTree Imitation Honey 12oz, (Pack of 6)


This is one I've tried and I know a LOT Of people love it.... but not me.  Yes, it's similar in taste but it's not thick!  It's more liquidy even though I don't know if 'liquidy' is a legit word.  If you don't care about the thick corn syrup or honey like texture, then I suppose this is a good choice - especially because it's made with Xylitol instead of Malitol, which some people prefer. 

Nature's Hollow, Sugar-Free Honey Substitute 14 Ounce, Non GMO, Keto Friendly, Gluten Free - 1 Pack


Another Xylitol brand... but again, not the texture and thickness I personally want.  Great brand though if you don't care how thick it is.

Health Garden Birch Xylitol Sugar Free Honey - Non GMO - Kosher - Made in the U.S.A. (14 oz)



This one is not a 'equal' for measurement option but it's one I have used for small amounts.  When I make our honey mustard sauce for my pecan crusted chicken breasts, I sometimes grab this one to make it with!  I just start with about 1/3 cup mustard and I add some of this Allulose and keep 'taste testing' until I'm happy with the flavor.    I LOVE this sweetener and I can get it at my local grocery store (for now - until they stop carrying it as usually happens). 

Wholesome Sweeteners Allulose Zero Calorie Liquid Sweetener, No Glycemic Impact, Non GMO, Gluten Free & Vegan, 11.5 oz 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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