November 30, 2009

Cream Horns - Lady Locks - Coronets - Clothespin Cookies

To kick-off the holiday baking season I'm choose my all-time favorite cookie/pastry; the Cream Horn!

Sometimes called Lady Locks or Clothespin Cookies or even Coronets - named in part due to the nature of cookie mold or form being used. Our great-grandmothers oftentimes used wooden clothespins or dowels to wrap the dough around. Much of the time the pastry dough would stick to unseasoned wood however, and the cookies would break. Paper molds were also made and used - time consuming and delicate. Between the time and work involved in making the pastry and the frustrations with the forms, no wonder these cookies were soon only found in bakeries and grocery stores!

To get started you'll want to invest in aluminum forms. Be sure you purchase enough to bake all your cookies as the pastries need to cool on the forms and only baking 4-8 cookies at a time will take you literally all day.

The smaller form in the back is from Grama Joans cookie forms
The larger cone in the front is from Amazon (Cream Roll Horn Molds, Set of 6)

If you have time and you love to bake, try your hand at the pastry recipe below. It requires an hour chill time between folds and an overnight chill time when the dough is finished, so plan accordingly.

However, I have a time-saving recipe if you need these dainty pastries by this afternoon;   Puff Pastry. Available in your grocer's freezer, purchase sheets of puff pastry and use them in place of the traditional pastry dough. Slicing, wrapping and baking can be accomplished in 30 minutes while you also mix the filling, and with a quick cool-down in the freezer you can have these delicious cookies out the door in under an hour!

Cream Horns

3 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 c ice water
2 egg yolks
2 c cold butter or shortening - or a mixture of both

Combine flour, salt, water and egg yolks. Mix well until a ball is formed. Place on a floured plate, cover with wax paper and refrigerate about 1 hour. Roll out dough to form a rectangle. Spread 1/2 cup of the chilled butter/shortening down the center. Fold over the rest of the dough in envelope fashion so that all edges meet exactly. Press edges slightly to seal in the air. Chill one hour. Follow the same procedure again, permitting an hour chill time. Continue two more times until all the shortening/butter has been used.

Place on a floured plate, cover with wax paper and chill overnight. The next day divide the dough into 3 parts. Work on one part at a time. Roll out each disc to 1/8" thick. Cut into strips about 3" - 4" in length and up to 1" wide. Wind each strip around an aluminum form, overlapping slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes until lightly golden. Cool. Slip off the form. Fill.

Use whichever filling YOU like.  A simple whipped cream filling is fine, but I like this one as it works in any temperature environment;  I can have these at room temperature or serve them at a summer event and not worry about the whipped cream versions.  This is also a similar filling to what you'll find at the grocery store or bakery made Cream Horns.

Cream Horn Filling

1 c Crisco
1 c butter (not margarine...)
4 c powdered sugar
4 t vanilla
3/4 c marshmallow creme

Cream the Crisco and butter. Add the sugar gradually and then the creme and vanilla. Beat well until it's smooth like whipped cream. Fill cooled or chilled cream horn forms.

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November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Gravy - Make Ahead or The Last Minute - Won't Gel Up!

Did you make your gravy ahead of time? Or do you just need a really delicious gravy recipe for Thanksgiving Dinner? Here it is! Our annual Thanksgiving Gravy recipe that I've made every year since.... ? About 20 years now! Best of all - it doesn't gel up so you can make it this morning and then add the turkey drippings and reheat just before serving!

simmering the broth

Thankgiving Gravy
*best when used with homemade broth - but you don't have to

6 c chicken broth (water with boullion is fine)
2 lg. onions, chopped
1 c sliced fresh carrots
1 c water or dry white wine
1/2 c celery leaves and stems

Mix all ingredients in a soup pan and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Strain through a wire strainer and discard vegetables. Add water if needed to make it 6 cups.


Mash 6 T butter with
3/4 c flour

Mash until it's a paste and break into 4 chunks.

Bring 6 c chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and gradually whisk in flour chunks one at a time, whisking until thick and smooth. Boil 3 minutes. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed within 2 days. If longer, be sure it's in an airtight container in the coldest part of the fridge. Can also freeze until needed and slowly cook and reheat to thaw before continuing.

When you are ready to make your gravy;
After your turkey is done, add the pan drippings - at least 3/4 - 1 cup (up to 2 cups) heat until hot and serve!

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Just Finished Making the Cranberry Cherry Salad Dessert!

You can tell this is a recipe from an older generation as it's a dessert but the recipe calls itself a 'salad'. Salad to people under the age of 40 means something green and leafy! I'm calling this a dessert and it's chilling in the refrigerator right now!

Here is a recipe to start you off but I'll tell you how I made mine - I used 1 box cranberry jello and 1 box sugar-free raspberry jello. I put it into a square glass 10" Pyrex dish and it's... beautiful! The brilliance of the dark red is just stunning. Put this in a glass dish if you have one!

Cherry Cranberry Salad Dessert

1 6 oz. package cherry gelatin
1 1/2 c boiling water
1 (20 oz) can cherry pie filling
1 can (16 oz.) whole cranberry sauce

Combine the cherry gelatin with the boiling water and mix. Add pie filling and cranberry sauce to the gelatin and mix well. Pour into a large pan and freeze it for an hour if you are in a hurry or chill it (preferred) for 3-6 hours before serving.Print Friendly and PDF

November 25, 2009

Heath Pie for Thanksgiving! For Those Who Don't Care for Pumpkin!

If your crew isn't a pumpkin pie kind of crowd, perhaps this recipe from Pillsbury is more to your liking? I mean, seriously, who could turn down a pie made with Heath candy bars!?

Toffee Dream Pie

8-or 9-inch baked pie shell
8 oz. marshmallows
1/3 cup milk
5-8 Heath bars, crushed
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons diced toasted almonds

Heat marshmallows and milk, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows melt. Remove from heat. Stir in Heath bars. Chill until thickened but not set. Beat cream until thick. Fold into marshmallow mixture. Spoon into baked pie shell. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours. Garnish with almonds and additional crushed Heath bars.Print Friendly and PDF

Chocolate Sundae Dessert (Chocolate Ice Box Dessert)

The word "ice box dessert" is an instant throw back to the 30's and 40's in my mind. It's a term I often see in my old church cookbook collections but it's one that doesn't have the 'yummy' connotations today as the term did back then. It's dated and the term 'ice box' just screams 'old fashioned'.

So when it comes to a recipe entitled "Chocolate Ice Box Dessert" by someone's great-great-grandmother, you may want to give it a second glance and not pass by so quickly just because it doesn't sound appealing. Instead, let's pretend it says; Heavenly Chocolate Dessert. Chocolate Dream. Chocolate Sundae Dessert. Any chocolate recipe name you want to call it! This is a very, very old recipe, but like most old recipes that are still around... there is a reason for it.

Chocolate Sundae Dessert

1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup butter (not margarine)
2 eggs
1 small can chocolate syrup
4 ounces marshmallows
¾ cup broken nuts
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 teaspoon vanilla
Graham cracker crumbs

Cover bottom of 8x12 pan with cracker crumbs. Mix sugar and butter. Add eggs and chocolate syrup; beat very well. Fold in marshmallows, quartered, nuts, vanilla. Fold in cream. Pour into crust. Refrigerate overnight.Print Friendly and PDF

November 24, 2009

Love Crab Cakes? How about Making Vegetable Cakes?

I'm in the middle of cleaning up the kitchen right now when I moved one of my recipe books and out fell my handwritten recipe for vegetable cakes. They sound really, really good right now too! I have grated zucchini in the freezer from our garden that will work great in these!

Vegetable Cakes

4 eggs
2 c grated zucchini
2 c grated squash
1/2 c grated carrot
1/3 c bread crumbs
1/3 c fresh basil, ripped
1/3 c parmesan
1/4 c grated onion
salt and pepper

Beat eggs stir in everything else and pour about 1/4 c in a hot skillet with a bit of oil. Cook until golden brown, flipping once.Print Friendly and PDF

How to Make Real Cranberries

Much to the disappointment of my teenagers, we will indeed have cranberries on our Thanksgiving in some way, shape or form.

They don't know it yet... but they're going to love them. Just like I do now. Now being the most important word in that sentence. You see, I didn't think I'd like them either. I spent my whole life thinking I probably hated them. They didn't look all that appetizing, and of course, you have to remember that as a small child, barely able to see over the edge of the table, I thought cranberries only came in one form... can shaped with ring lines on the sides from the indention's of the can!

I not only became enlightened in my mid-thirties to the incredible goodness of cooked cranberries, but I'm hoping that my readers will give it a try this year. Cranberries are so affordable, so brilliant and beautiful on the table and really, truly, very delicious!

When I make them this way I improvise with dried, powdered spices as I don't typically have whole cloves and allspice. I only use about 1/2 t of each because I don't particularly love the taste of cloves. Do some taste tests and see what you think. Play with the recipe and make it your own!


4 c (12 oz. bag) fresh cranberries
1 t dried orange peel or a fresh strip 1X3"
3/4 red zinfandel wine
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
5 whole cloves (tiny little things)
5 whole all spice
1 cinnamon stick

Boil the syrup by putting everything in the saucepan except the cranberries. Bring to a boil and reduce it to 1 1/2 cups of thick syrup. Add cranberries and cook about 4-6 minutes until they are all burst. You can serve this warm or cold.

MMMM. Brilliantly colored and oh so beautiful.Print Friendly and PDF

A Cheese Pizza Crust

Regular readers know that my husband and I just finished a 3 week 'detox' of our bodies from all sugar and flour products. We do this a couple times a year when we start to feel run down, tired all the time and well... 'blah'. We do it to feel great and re-energize, others eat this way all the time to manage their Diabetes, others to lose weight and many other reasons.

Since we kicked off our first detox back in the Spring of 2002 following the Atkins induction, I've gathered about a thousand low carb recipes. Some are awesome, some not so great. This is one of the good ones. It is interesting that you'll get different results based on the brand or style of cheese you use and whether you grate it yourself or buy it shredded already. I think using pure cheddar is too greasy (don't use a pizza pan with holes in it without a pan underneath!) but I hope my readers play with this recipe to make it their own. See which version you like best.

Cheese Crust

2 c shredded cheddar/jack cheese
2/3 c Parmesan & Romano cheese (pre-mixed in a green can - you know the one)
1 t pizza seasoning
pizza toppings

Mix the cheeses with the pizza seasoning and sprinkle evenly over the bottom of a well sprayed pizza pan. Bake at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes until the cheese forms a crust and is starting to brown. Remove from the oven, let cool about 10 minutes and place into the freezer for about 25 minutes until frozen solid. When using to make your pizza, remove from the freezer and top with a little pizza sauce, your favorite pizza topping and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350-375 until the cheese on top is melted.Print Friendly and PDF

November 22, 2009

Cherry Cranberry Salad - Perfect for Thanksgiving

If you were to ask me what our Thanksgiving traditions were as a child I'd have to reply that I don't think we had any. Although we had plenty of tradition's in general, Thanksgiving wasn't one of them.

One Thanksgiving around 1982 I know we were at home that year because my Uncle and four favorite cousins came to visit and we had a blizzard that year complete with the power going out. Our family had oil lamps for camping that we dug out of the garage and lit for light, along with two wood burning stoves that heated our house. However, with eight (8) kids between the ages of 2 and 15 coupled with those stoves the house was almost 90 degree's and we had to open the windows! The power went out about 3/4 of the way through preparing dinner, so we finished cooking the turkey and gravy on the old Franklin stove in the family room, and had a complete Thanksgiving dinner despite the power outage. Other Thanksgivings were spent at my Grandma N's house where we always, always, always had cherry dessert.

Although I don't specifically remember spending Thanksgivings at my Grandma H's house, I know we did some years, because I do have a very specific memory of this holiday at her dinner table. She served cranberry sauce from can in which she plunked out onto a crystal serving dish and put it in the middle of the table. With the ring lines from the can still in place, they served as her slicing marks and the cranberries looked to me like big round beet slices. This is my only memory of Thanksgiving at her home.

Now I have to say that using a can of cranberries this holiday season is actually a good idea if you don't relish the idea of cooking and popping and spicing your own cranberries. But... let's not serve it straight from the can, shall we? How about trying this simple and quick recipe on for size?

Cherry Cranberry Salad

1 6 oz. package cherry gelatin
1 1/2 c boiling water
1 (20 oz) can cherry pie filling
1 can (16 oz.) whole cranberry sauce

Combine the cherry gelatin with the boiling water and mix. Add pie filling and cranberry sauce to the gelatin and mix well. Pour into a large pan (9X13 works) and freeze it for an hour if you are in a hurry or chill it (preferred) for 3-6 hours before serving. This will serve about 6 people.Print Friendly and PDF

November 20, 2009

It's THAT time! Mini Thanksgiving Dinner Cupcakes!

It's an annual tradition in our family that my kids have grown up with and even at 18, 17 and 13 they still won't let me slack... this weekend is the weekend to make our mini Thanksgiving Cupcakes

Want to join me? 

  • Brach's Maple Nut Candies 
  • White frosting 
  • Yellow gel food color (in a little tube) 
  • nonpereils - red or green (for tiny red cranberries and green peas) I bought the long shapes and called them 'green beans' 
  • caramels, melted or chocolate chips or butterscotch chips for 'gravy' 
  • a package of cookies - I choose the ones with the 'pretty edge' to look like a plate 
  • yellow frosting or other for the 'plate' 

Bake and cool your favorite cupcake recipe.
Place frosting on the cupcake and top each with a cookie while the frosting is soft to 'adhere' the cookie-plate to the cupcake.
Slice the maple nut candies thin and layer them as 'turkey'.
Dab some white frosting next to it for 'mashed potatoes' followed with a little dab of yellow gel food color as 'butter'.
Melt your caramels, butterscotch or chocolate chips and thin with a little oil. Drizzle over the 'turkey' as gravy. Finish it off with the 'cranberries' (red colored sugar or non-perils) and little green 'peas' or 'beans'.

You can slice the top off the cupcakes if you filled them 3/4 full and they have a little peak. This will let the 'plate' evenly on the top of it.


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November 17, 2009

Homemade, Incredible, Beef and Bean Burritos

This week I made the most amazing beef burritos. So good that I had to share with my readers. Regular readers will remember that we bought 1/2 a cow this year which included a lot of beef roasts... and we are not a 'roast' family. We only like traditional roast beef dinners a few times a year, usually on a very cold, snowy winter day. Coming up with new idea's for roasts, I've stumbled upon one that I will use over and over and over (and over!) again... all year long. It's THAT good.

Homemade Beef and Bean Burritos

1 good sized roast - mine was about 4 1/2 pounds and was chuck
2 packages of taco seasoning (I used Penzey's Salsa Salad Seasoning in place of one of them - but you can use 2 regular taco seasoning packets. Only use 1 if you have a smaller roast!)
salt and pepper
tomatoes - either 2 (15 oz) sized cans of diced tomatoes or the equivalent. I used tiny tomatoes from my garden that I had frozen at harvest
1 Tablespoon oil
jalapeno's or chilies if you desire a level of hotness
1 can refried beans (leave this out if you are doing strict low-carb)

Trim the roast of excess fat now or be sure to cut it off after cooking before shredding. Place your roast in a crock pot and sprinkle the oil, seasonings, salt and pepper and tomatoes (and chilies if you use them) over all. Cook on low for 8-10 hours until completely done. There will be a lot of liquid, but don't drain it.

Using two large forks, shred the beef. Cook for another hour. Just before serving, stir in 1 can of refried beans. Warm through until all is hot and serve on tortilla shells with salsa, cheddar cheese and sour cream.

*This is one of those meals you can make ahead of time and either freeze it for future use or if possible, make it a day or two ahead, don't add the refried beans yet. It's like chili - it's even better the second day! Add the beans when you reheat it - and serve as usual.

I froze my tiny cherry tomatoes from the garden this summer and
used them - but you can use two cans of diced tomatoes

Shredding the beef with two large forks is quick and easy!

A family favorite!

*To make this very low carb you can leave out the refried beans or just use 1/2 of a can for the entire recipe and you will only have about 1 carb added per serving.


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November 16, 2009

Apparently we are too 'busy' to make more than 1 weeks worth of meals... all year long!

I was reading the UK news tonight and saw an article that stated a recent study found that mother's there rotate just 9 meals to feed their families.

Researchers found that hectic lifestyles, fussy children and partners who work long hours mean mothers are stuck in a rut when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen.

Nine in ten mothers polled admitted cooking the same meals over and over again while one in four make the same meals on the same day of the week.

The research found that the average mother has eight cookery books in their house, but has attempted just five recipes. Two thirds have at least four books that have never seen the light of day.

Their nine most relied-upon meals are....

1. Spaghetti Bolognese

2. Roast dinner

3. Shepherds Pie/Cottage Pie

4. Pasta dish

5. Meat and two veg

6. Pizza

7. Casserole/stew

8. Sausages and chips/mash

9. Indian/Curry

Ahhh... so painful for me to read!

American parents aren't much different - although our list of top foods have a few American substitutions such as cheeseburgers. Still, as a Mom who knows how easy it is to improvise, to stir up homemade in the same amount of time that store-bought takes, and who knows the taste of home made verses most store bought, canned or frozen meals can out beat it in a heartbeat... I also lament the loss of the 'skills' our children are being raised with.

Learning to cook was a mandatory class when I was in junior high in the 80's. "Home Ec" was for both boys and girls. I know my own children's Middle School requires the kids to take a semester of cooking and of sewing in 8th grade. For that I'm thankful! Just a few basics can not only set them on the path of self-sufficiency later in life, but it might just spur the imagination and help the kids to discover a life-long love of cooking!

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Low Carb 'Chocolate Chip' Cookies

I thank Dana Carpender for the inspiration behind this one. I knew my husband would love some chocolate chip cookies but I also knew he was serious about wanting to do 4 weeks of no-sugar and low carbs. Thumbing through my copy of 500 Low-Carb Recipes, I spied this one and even though I didn't have all the ingredients it called for, I knew I could improvise. (Ok readers, what do I always say? Play with your food! Improvise! Use recipes as a guide and then make them your own!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c butter
1 1/2 c Splenda
1 1/2 t black strap molasses (yes it's molasses but it's it's the lowest sugar/carb and it helps for flavor)
2 eggs
1 c ground almonds
1 c vanilla flavored why protein powder (I used NNW brand - which we love)
1/4 c wheat bran (or oat bran)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c chopped pecans or walnuts
1 small package sugar free chocolate bars (I used Hershey's brand - about 8 mini bars)
I banged the mini candy bars with my rolling pin to break them up into pieces and crumbled them into the dough in place of chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375. Beat the Splenda with the butter and molasses until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. In another bowl stir the ground almonds, whey powder, wheat or oat bran, baking soda and salt. Add this to the butter/Splenda mixture about 1/2 cup at a time to incorporate.

Stir in the nuts and chocolate chunks. Drop by tablespoons onto a sprayed/greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Form into nicely shaped rounds and flatten a bit with your hand. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to a rack or counter to cool. The original recipe said each cookie yields about 3 carbs.

The dry mix; almonds, whey powder, oat bran, etc.

Forming into rounds (a bit sticky)

Great with coffee... My husband dunks his in half & half.Print Friendly and PDF

Sugarfree Swirled Key Lime Cheesecake

Sugar free desserts, foods and drinks have an 'off' taste to those used to sugar, but honestly I have always liked that flavor compared to the sugary sweetness of full sugar soda's and sugar-laden desserts. If you are used to full sugar desserts, this one might not be for you.

To make this I used 3 different 'recipes' and tweaked them. The cheesecake portion isn't really a recipe as cheesecakes are so simple with cream cheese, eggs and sometimes sour cream... but the lime curd could be a great tart filling and the crust is ok.... but honestly I ended up slicing off the crust and just eating the cheesecake portion of this dessert. You can leave it out if you like - the dessert is good without it.

Overall I'd give this one about a 6 on the 1-10 scale. There are others I like better but I like the 'tang' of this one when I'm craving something citrus.

Sugar Free Key Lime Cheesecake

1 cup ground almonds
1/4 c Atkins style baking mix
1/4 c Splenda
1/4 c butter, melted

3 packages (8 oz) cream cheese (use full fat)
3 eggs
1 c Splenda + 6 packages raw Stevia packets
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t dried lemon peel

1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup Splenda
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup lime juice
1 drop green food coloring gel

Mix the crust first by mixing the ingredients and patting into the bottom of a 9" Springform pan sprayed with non-stick baking spray.

In the top of a double boiler, combine the egg and Splenda. Cut the butter into tablespoons; add to the egg with the lime juice; cook and stir over boiling water until thick. This can be up to 10 minutes or as little as 3-4. Remove from the heat; add food coloring.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese and Splenda/Stevia. (Use all Splenda if you like - I ran out and substituted some Stevia in its place.) Add the eggs one at a time and beat smooth. Add the vanilla and lemon peel. Pour into the Springform pan over the crust and smooth the top.

Pour the lime curd over the cheesecake and use a rubber spatula or knife to swirl it all over, into the cheesecake mixture.

Bake at 325 approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes or until the center is just 'set'. All ovens vary so it might be 1 hour 10 minutes or 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let set on the counter until it comes to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours if you can - 24 would be optimal.

Press the crust into a Springform pan
(I am leaving the crust off this one completely next time!)

The lime curd was the best part - this is after I've added
1 drop of green food color - but next time I am NOT adding it.
It turned out too bright of a green that wasn't appetizing.

The best part... creamy cheesecake.

I was out of regular cream cheese and had to use the 1/3 fat version which
made for a thinner cheesecake. Next time it's regular cream cheese
all the way! The bright green is from the food color. I won't
add that next time. I also will put the curd on after it bakes,
not swirled in to bake with it.

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November 15, 2009

Sugar Free and Low Carb Key Lime Cheesecake

In the midst of my busy day I may have to make time to prepare a dish I've been craving for about two weeks now. Key Lime Pie. However, my husband and I are currently 15 days into trying to cut out white refined sugar and white flour so I had to track down a recipe suitable.

I had this one in my files with a notation that it had 3 carbs per slice as prepared. I don't have the margarita mix nor almond 'flour' it calls for so I'm going to play with the recipe a bit and improvise as I always do - this time, grinding my own almonds and using lime juice. Still... I can already taste the tang on my tongue.

Key Lime Pie - Sugarfree and Low Carb

1 1/2 cups almond flour
6 Tbsp Splenda
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup boiling water
1 box (.3 oz) sugar free lime Jell-O
1 cup heavy cream
16 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 cup Splenda
1/4 cup Baja Bob's Desert Key Lime Margarita Mix

Mix the crust ingredients and press into bottom of 9" spring form pan. Chill.

Mix boiling water with lime Jell-O. Chill for about an hour to thicken. In a bowl, whip heavy cream. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, Baja Bob's Key Lime Margarita Mix, and 1 cup Splenda until smooth. Very lightly mix in partially set lime gelatin. Fold in whipping cream. Pour into pie shell. Chill 2 to 3 hours. Top with additional whipped cream, and/or garnish with key lime slices if desired.Print Friendly and PDF

November 14, 2009

UPDATED: "My Keurig Doesn't Work... Stopped Working... Won't Dispense Coffee!" Join the Club!

 This post was originally posted in 2009.

I'm (jokingly) thinking of starting a club for us pathetic losers that love Keurig Coffee Makers so much that we keep buying them or using them even though we know they stop working.

'Matt' wrote me earlier this week to ask if I've done any updates to my Keurig Coffee Maker reviews.  Well, just two weeks after we fell in love with our Keurig I had to do an update after we were forced to return it and buy our second Keurig coffee maker.

And... this morning I am here to tell you we are on our third Keurig since the last week of June. Why?

They stop working. Plain and simple.

Three (3) Keurig Coffee Machines in 4 1/2 months.

I didn't know it was almost an epidemic of sorts until I started to do searches online and realized almost everyone's Keurig's stop working after a couple of months. Message boards and product review sites all over the web are filled with people talking about it. We've all tried the same things as well. We assume we've done something wrong. We've thought it was plugged with grinds and tried to clean it. We've thought perhaps it needed descaling even though the descaler message is not lit up.

But when readers call the customer service lines for Keurig or contact them by email they find out it's a known problem. The water simply isn't being sucked up and pushed out by the machine.  (This is not the same as de-scaling issues.)  Customer service has been found overwhelmingly not to be of any help.

This week I struggled with mine every single day. It would hum and heat the water and then....... spit. I would get a teaspoon of water spat into my cup and it would stop.

Sometimes I was lucky enough to get about 2 tablespoons but then it would stop. Of course then, we try all the little tricks; lift the handle, lower the handle. Turn off the power. Remove and refill the water reservoir. Unplug the machine and wait a minute before plugging it back in. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't.

Yesterday I worked for twelve (12) minutes to get my cup of coffee.

I was late for work, I ended up rushing out the door and spilling that hard-earned coffee all over the white sleeve of my shirt... but darnit I was determined to prevail and get my morning coffee. Twelve minutes of war with the machine (ok... it was a very boring war of me turning it off, turning it on, waiting for it to 'think' and then lifting and pressing the handle but it was war none-the-less).

When I returned home yesterday I saw my machine was gone. Apparently my husband heard my frustration and took it to the store and returned it yet again yesterday as this morning I have yet another new Keurig sitting on my counter. (***Thankfully we purchased the protection coverage from the store when we originally bought it!)

BOTTOM LINE: Do I recommend the Keurig Coffee Brewer?

Yes and no.

Yes - because it's hands-down the best coffee you'll drink once you find the exact brand and flavor of k-cup that you prefer. That freshly brewed, 192 degree java is the ultimate cup of coffee.

No - because it's going to break down on you. Our first lasted just 2 weeks. Our second just 3 months. Keurig owners around the globe are talking about it online. Everyone knows they don't work... but we are so spoiled by the coffee we get when it does work that it has us hooked (and perhaps also because we've invest in two cases of k-cups in our cupboards that would be wasted if we pitched the brewer!).

I love my Keurig... when it works.

Editing to add update:  This morning another reader sent me this link to a Yahoo Video showing how one reader cleans his with a toothbrush and it worked for him!  Check it out here.  Thanks for the FYI Kip!!  

It's now 2014 and I'd like to add we still have an use a Keurig - and they did improve them around 2011.  We've had great luck since then.  We actually bought a second, smaller size we pack in our suitcase and take it with us when we travel!   If your Keurig is not working it probably needs to be descaled.  This is not the same issue as the Keurigs I posted about above, as some only worked a matter of days or weeks before breaking down.

To descale your Keurig, fill the container with white vinegar and continuously run it through. Sometimes if I haven't descaled in awhile I need to do this twice - which takes a couple hours.  I like to let it suck it into the system and then set for a couple hours to give it time to clean out the inside.  Then run a complete container full of fresh, clean water through to clear the vinegar out.  I have also found the small plastic suction opening at the base can get gummy or slimy if ignored, and needs to be cleaned out.

*** We purchase our Keurigs from Best Buy where we always get the Black Tie Protection plans. 

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 

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November 13, 2009

Homemade Thanksgiving Gravy

With Thanksgiving right around the corner a lot of people are starting to realize they need to track down some recipes! One of which is something a lot of cooks cringe at; making gravy.

In our own household I make two styles of chicken or turkey based gravy.

The first one is with any chicken meal during the year that I want to serve potatoes and gravy with - usually oven fried chicken, southern style breaded chicken breasts, etc. I start with a roux of shortening or butter and add a spicy flour mixture to thicken.

The second style is my 'Thanksgiving' gravy (posted on my website back in 2006) which starts with a broth I've made from vegetables, incorporated into a roux and chicken broth base, both of which I make ahead of time and warm at the end of the cooking/baking process to finish off by adding the drippings from the oven roasted turkey. It's unbelievably delicious and I love that I can make it ahead of time without any gelling issues. It also keeps and reheats well.

The spicier gravy tastes similar to KFC style gravy and it might be what you want to serve this year on your Thanksgiving table.


2 T shortening, melted
3 T seasoned flour (like flour you bread your fried chicken with*)
2 T all purpose flour
1 can Campbell's Condensed Chicken Stock
1 can water

Make a roux with the melted shortening and 1 1/2 tablespoon of wheat flour. Cook this over low heat for a few minutes or until the roux browns in color. Remove from heat and add the remaining all purpose flour and slowly add the stock/broth and water while whisking until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 2 minutes reduce the heat and simmer 3-5 minutes until thick.

*When I bread fried chicken I often open my cupboard and put in whatever I feel like it that day. Salt and fresh cracked pepper are a must, I also add a mixture of; white pepper, MSG, onion powder, sage, thyme, paprika, and a dash of garlic salt.Print Friendly and PDF

November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Butter Pie

I realize Thanksgiving is mere a week and a half away that I did most of the grocery shopping for it this evening after work. The turkey, the green bean casserole, the pecans for the pie and pumpkin for another.... but that brings me to today's recipe; pumpkin pie. But not your typical pumpkin pie!

My father-in-law is an 'apple butter' and 'pumpkin butter' kind of guy. It's a great way to use up your apple and pumpkin harvest. If you are wondering what I'm talking about, apple butter and pumpkin butter are not really butter at all - more like a fruit spread or a thick jam of sorts. It's a thick, concentrated puree with spices and either sugar or syrup added for sweetness.

If you are lucky enough to have an unused jar of pumpkin butter, try this pie recipe. Great Grandma probably has the recipe in her church cookbook, but now you do too!

Pumpkin Butter Pie

3/4 c half & half
3 large eggs
13 1/2-ounce jar pumpkin butter
dash of salt
pie shell

Whisk all together as you would for a traditional pumpkin pie. Pour into a pie shell. Bake at 350ยบ F for 45-50 minutes. Let cool on the counter and then chill if you would like.
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Pumpkin Dessert (Made with a Dry Cake Mix!)

It's time to make your list and check it twice! No... not for Christmas. For Thanksgiving! Our family has our 'traditions' but I'm always open to new recipes. I like to try to have one 'something' new every year. This one won't be new to us, but it might to you - and it's worthwhile making even if you already are planning a pumpkin pie. For those that don't care for pie, this is a winner.

Pumpkin Dessert Made with a Dry Cake Mix

3 eggs
1 - 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 c sugar
½ t salt
½ t cinnamon
½ t ginger
smidgen of ground cloves to taste
1 large can (30 oz.) real pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 yellow cake mix
1 1/2 (12 Tablespoons) sticks butter or margarine.
1/4 cup chopped nuts

In a bowl whisk or beat on low the eggs, milk, sugar, salt and spices. Pour this into a greased 9X13" pan. Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over all. Melt the butter and drizzle over top and then sprinkle the nuts over all.

Bake @ 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until set. Cool and then refrigerate until chilled through. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Mmmm!Print Friendly and PDF

November 10, 2009

Homemade Almond Crackers similar to Wheat Thins

One of the things my husband and I have done since 2002 is try to cut down on white refined flour and sugar. We don't follow a strict way of eating but once or twice a year take 6-8 weeks to completely detox our bodies of white refined flour and sugars. Even when we are not following a no flour system I still love to make some of the recipes I have discovered and tweaked over the years.

This recipe is an imitation 'Wheat Thin' like cracker but with zero flour, it's low-carb diet friendly too.

Almond Thins Crackers

1 c almond flour or fine ground almonds
2 t sweetener of your choice (I'll link to Ideal below this post)
1 egg white
1/4 t garlic salt
1/8 t garlic powder
1/8 t onion powder

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

Crumble and drop the dough on parchment paper or well greased foil on a pan. Cover the sticky dough with another sheet of parchment or greased foil or plastic wrap. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin as thin as you can - 1/8 of an inch is what to aim for and even thinner if you can. 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 30-40 small squares. 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 as a snack.

The dough becomes very sticky!

Breaking apart before rolling helps to roll an even, thin layer

Be sure to cover completely or they WILL stick to a rolling pin...
your hand, the pan... everything they come into contact with

Break apart and enjoy!

You might be interested in these related products from Amazon if you can't find them locally;
Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 5 lbs.
King Arthur Almond Flour, 16 Ounce
Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour, 16-Ounce (Pack of 4)
Ideal No Calorie Sweetener 100 Count Pack of 2



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