March 31, 2014

Homemade Kit Kat Bars (what we call Angel Bars)

I've posted what we call "Angel Bars" and have made regularly since about 1999 or 2000 - but what I'm not sure I've mentioned is that it's not the recipe I originally made.  I made these the first time using butterscotch chips in them as well, and I didn't care for the 'fake' flavor of butterscotch chips so I ended up tweaking the recipe until it was the one we have loved and used for about 15 years now.  However, I realize many people may like the original version that includes the butterscotch chips.  So this morning, here is the original version of our 'Angel Bars' that some people think tastes similar to a Kit Kat.  I don't.  But these are a FAVORITE bar in our family.

Update to add:  for 2018 I made a huge double batch of these only to have my husband eat two ROWS of bars the first night!  It's a good thing I start to do my holiday baking 'early' because this allows me to make a 3rd batch for the cookie trays before Christmas giving.

Angel Bars - also known as Keebler Bars (or some call Homemade Kit Kat Bars)

80 club crackers
1 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butterscotch morsels

Line an ungreased 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an extension of foil on either end. Line the foil with 1 layer of club crackers, breaking to fit if necessary.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, milk and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and spread half of butter mixture evenly over crackers. Place another single layer of crackers evenly over butter mixture, cutting to fit if necessary. Spread remaining butter mixture evenly over crackers. Top evenly with remaining crackers.

In a small microwavable dish or in a saucepan, combine peanut butter, chocolate morsels, and butterscotch morsels. Melt in the microwave or over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over top of crackers. Cover, and chill for at least 1 hour. Lift foil overhang and remove bars from pan. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

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March 22, 2014

Whole Wheat Bread (recipe using Flax, white whole wheat flour and lecithin)

I've posted a couple whole wheat bread recipes over the years, but I've also been completely honest admitting I just can't perfect a whole wheat bread. Usually my breads are heavy and dense. I've tried numerous recipes but just can't nail one I really, truly love.

While looking over my site this morning I found this one I posted way back in April of 2007. I had never made it... but wanted it in my files as I was always keeping an eye out for new recipes to try.  Well, I never have.  But I now can because I have something on hand I've never kept stocked in my pantry before; Lecithin.  (In baked goods, it reduces fat and egg requirements, helps even distribution of ingredients, stabilizes fermentation, increases volume and protects yeast cells in dough when frozen.)  I ordered some last week as recently I've seen more and more bread recipes calling for an addition of this ingredient.  With so many wheat bread recipes calling for it, I decided perhaps I should give it a go.  

This recipe also uses white whole wheat, which is another reason I believe this recipe in particular may finally be a winner for me in the wheat bread 'trials' I've so far failed at through the years!  Have you tried this particular recipe?  If so, did it work for you?

Whole Wheat Bread

2 Tblsp. honey
2 Tblsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (110-115ºF.)
1 tsp. salt
2 Tblsp. flax seed (ground)
4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 Tblsp. gluten (vital wheat gluten)
1 Tblsp. lecithin
1 Tblsp. yeast

Put all ingredients in your bread maker on the dough cycle or if you use a kitchen aid machine; mix the water, yeast and honey in the mixing bowl and let it get foamy then add the oil, salt, flax, gluten and lecithin and mix. Add half the flour with the paddle blade, switch to the dough hook and beat in enough flour for a soft almost sticky dough.

Knead it for 3 min.; let it rise until doubled. Punch it down, shape it and place it in a 9-1/2 x 5" loaf pan. Let it rise, then baked it at 350º 33 min.

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March 15, 2014

Pasta with Spicy Chicken (Like Buca Di Beppo Little Hat Pasta with Spicy Chicken)

Broccoli and yellow zucchini squash into the sauce

I knew I wanted to use chicken for our meal tonight and while organizing some notebooks of stray recipes, I saw this and knew today would be the day.  It's a Buca di Beppo style recipe - or supposedly is.  My copy of the recipe is on plain paper and I've had in my files for about 10 years - I have no idea where it came from.

I liked going to Buca Di Beppo when we lived near one.  As a matter of fact we even held our daughter's First Communion Reception at the restaurant!  However, we moved (relocated with my husbands job) and were only in the new city for about a month before the local restaurant closed.  We've never had one near us since then.  However, this recipe is close to their Little Hat Pasta version.  The photo above is sans pasta;  I haven't added that nor the cheese yet.  But the colors are so vibrant and it smells so good I wanted to get this posted before I got busy and forgot to take more pictures.

Pasta with Spicy Chicken

3/4 c oil (olive preferably) *I thought this was a crazy amount so I cut it down to about 1/4 cup.
2 T chopped garlic
2 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut to 1 inch pieces
2 c broccoli florets, blanched
1 1/2 c sliced zucchini, blanched
1 t salt
1 lb. pasta
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 c Romano cheese

In a large saute' pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and the crushed red pepper flakes, cooking until aromatic (about 30 seconds).  Add the chicken and saute until brown.  Add broccoli, zucchini and salt.  Cook until tender and browned.  Set aside.

Boil pasta until al dente.  If the sauce is dry, add 1/4 c of the hot pasta water to it.  Mine had plenty of liquid yet so I didn't need to add any.  Add the tomato to the sauce with the drained pasta.  Toss with the cheese.  Serve.

Red pepper flakes and chopped garlic going into the hot oil

Fresh chicken, ready to go!

Adding the broccoli

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March 13, 2014

Pi Day! March 14th is "Pi Day" in honor of the number pi (3.14.... get it?)

Pi Day is a holiday commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (or 3-14 in month-day date format), since 3, 1 and 4 are the first three digits of π in the decimal form.

Many schools and universities celebrate Pi π Day - including my kids high school - to celebrate math, prove that math is fun, and to promote math awareness!  If you've forgotten your high school classes already, π represents the relationship between a circle’s diameter (its width) and its circumference (the distance around the circle).

A physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorim, Larry Shaw created Pi Day in 1988.  The idea grew and spread to campuses around the world and in the United States, on March 12, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution recognizing March 14, 2009, as National Pi Day.

This is a re-post of my sons favorite "Pi" creation from a few years ago.

His class gets to choose their own individual dessert or edible creation to celebrate and while most students are planning to bring in pies, he always thinks outside the box so he wanted a Pi Cake.
And he decided this the night before it was due.
At 6:pm.
So, we set off to the store to purchase a pre-made cake as we would not have had time to bake and cool one.
Here is my son's creation for his High School celebration of National Pi Day.

My sons creation for National Pi Day

Cutting the cake into the shape of Pi

Frost the edges and then use frosting to start placing the numbers of pi
to the farthest degree that fits on the cake.

You might also be interested in these pi products!


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Product Review: Annie's Homegrown Family Sized Frozen Entrees


Armed with a coupon in hand for a free Annie's Homegrown Family Sized Frozen Entree through my membership with Influenster, I headed off to Target to purchase the Shells and White Cheddar with Chicken

Alas, it must have been on everyone's list because they were completely sold out.  I had my teenage daughter with me and my second and third choices for the yummy Lasagna with Meat Sauce or the Butternut Squash Macaroni & Cheese were nixed for her number choice; Classic Macaroni & Cheese.

I had the package directed options of either microwaving or baking.  For a quick & easy meal or side dish, you can microwave or if you have another food item in the oven or you prefer to use a standard oven, you can bake it.  I had made another part of dinner in the crockpot so I microwaved the macaroni and cheese for 15 minutes followed by placing it in the oven with the pork loin to finish baking the pasta and browning the garlic lemon pork. This made for about a 25 minute final cook time from freezer to table.

Made with organic pasta and 100% real cheddar cheese, whole grain pasta is larger than average and the perfect shape and size to hold the creamy cheese sauce inside every noodle.  

Nutritionally, it has 16 grams total fat, which 10 of those are saturated.  50 mg cholesterol, 750 mg sodium and 43 grams total carbohydrates.  Dietary fiber chimes in at 3 g while the sugar grams stand at 8.  With 14 grams protein, 30% of the daily recommended dose of calcium, 6% of the iron and 10% of the recommended vitamin A, you can work the rest of your meal plan around these nutritional facts.

Taste is the most important thing and we found it to be a typical, average macaroni and cheese.  It tasted good, cheesy and creamy although a little bland, which was easily rectified with a dash of salt. It was a welcome side dish to our meal and the serving size was perfect for 3 adult sized portions (2 adults and 1 teenager was home for this meal).

You can follow Annie's Homegrown on Facebook & Twitter to find out more about their products as well as find offers and coupons to try the products your family loves! 

On Facebook: Annie's Homegrown
On Twitter: @AnniesHomegrown

A photo of it straight from the box, still frozen

Cooked, creamy and ready to eat!

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March 10, 2014

Shrimp Quiche (or any Seafood Quiche)

Some recipes instantly bring a memory to mind when you hear them mentioned or see them in your recipe files.  This is one of them.  A simple seafood quiche.  This is a recipe I first made in the early 1990's and for a few years when the children were young, it was a standard in our house.

When I see this recipe in my files I am instantly back at the beach circa 1996.  We had a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a tiny little newborn on our annual family trip to the beach.  (This is overwhelmingly my favorite 'ages' of the kids and the time in my life I would choose live out forever if I had a choice;  when all three kids were under 5.)  Our hotel room had a full kitchen and this was one of the meals I made that week.  Although we had it perhaps a hundred other times, the memory I love best is eating this 'at the beach' with the ocean waves crashing in the background.

I always made this with tiny baby shrimp - probably because they were the most affordable option.  But you can use shrimp or crab and even a mixture if you wish.  

Seafood Quiche

9" pie shell
1 c shredded Swiss cheese
1/3 c diced green onion
1 c baby shrimp or crab
4 eggs
2 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 t salt
white pepper

Heat your oven 425. Sprinkle the shrimp, cheese and onion on the bottom of the pie shell. Beat the eggs. Beat the salt with the whipping cream until thickened but not holding it's shape. 30 seconds is enough. Beat in the eggs and pepper. Pour into the shell. Bake 15 minutes at 425 and then reduce heat to 300. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand at least 10 minutes to set up as the texture gets better the longer it sets.


CYNDEE:  Thanks so much for the comment and YES I did actually make this sans crust the last time we were doing the low-carb, no sugar cycle. I haven't made this particular quiche in muffin tins but I have made many traditional ham and/or  spinach quiche in tins and I have to say I love the idea of making this one into muffin tins because it's so easy to do portion control that way!  Awesome idea for this recipe!  Thanks!!! 

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March 07, 2014

Carne Asada Marinade for Thin Sliced Steaks on the Grill

Just thrown on the grill and not cooked yet but oh, they smell amazing.

Carne Asada means 'grilled meat' which would encompass a variety of recipes.  But in America Carne Asada typically comes to mean a very thin sliced steak that is marinated and grilled.  And, there are a kazillion different versions.

I made (and posted) this before - but I'm making it again this week as I came across some awesome deals on meat this weekend at the grocery store and a very thin sliced steak was one of them.  I made up a recipe for the marinade last time by blending about 5 different recipes into one based on what I had on hand, what sounded good and what I thought I wanted the finished product to taste like. Interestingly enough, I actually had El Pollo Loco Grilled Chicken on my mind when I made up the marinade for this.  I knew I wanted a beef that had a tangy citrus lime hint to it and this fit the bill.  

 "In Mexican cuisine, carne asada is made from thin marinated beef steak. 
The meat is marinated by rubbing with salt or with spice rubs such as lemon and pepper 
or garlic salt and lime before being cooked on a grill."

I marinated this, grilled it, and sliced it against the grain and served it in soft shell tacos.  Having it again this week!

Carne Asada Marinade

1/2 c soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T vinegar
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped fine
1/3 c lime juice
1/4 c lemon juice
1/2 t either chipotle seasoning or cayenne
1 T (scant) chili powder, cumin and paprika
3/4 t dried oregano
1/4 c fresh parsley (you can use cilantro)
1/2 c oil (preferably olive oil)
pepper (about 1/2 t) but not salt as the soy sauce is very salty

Place all in a ziploc baggy (double bag) or in a ceramic or glass container, and add about 2 pounds thin steaks or other meat.  Let marinade overnight.  Grill until done, slice across the grain and serve.  I opted to serve with tortillas, salsa, sour cream, cheese, avocados and lettuce.  

Served in flour tortillas.  These are low carb, whole wheat.

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March 05, 2014

Bacon and Feta Dip for Crackers... oh my!

This is a re-post of a recipe I first posted the afternoon I made it up and was snacking on it back in March of 2007.  I typed it out as I was eating them...  and made is MANY times after that.  It's actually very good spread on a low carb tortilla or a flatbread that you have baked or put into a counter top grill to crisp a bit as well on almost any cracker.  If you love bacon and feta, this is amazing.  I have also added some diced black olives to it as well as chopped spinach.  Just play with it...  and yes, it's probably going to be made in this household today.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.

Bacon and Feta Dip

8 oz. cream cheese
1 c crumbled feta cheese
1/2 c mayonnaise
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 t dried oregano

Blend together and if you prefer to add bacon at this point, add 1/4 c of cooked, crumbled and cooled bacon.
Chill at least 2 hours if you have time to blend the flavors. Serve with crusty bread, tiny toasts, crackers, flatbread or crispy wontons.

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March 03, 2014

Restaurant Style Salsa (It's SO good and SO EASY!)

Years ago I stopped buying salsa after I started to make my own homemade version from garden produce and can it for long term storage.  When we did run out I would whip up a quick fresh salsa from either tomatoes or diced canned tomatoes with some fresh diced onion, a bit of lime, salt and parsley or cilantro.  So fast and easy!  But then on a whim I made this one one day and wow!  It was SO good and tasted just like the salsa at a Mexican restaurant my teenager loves.  From then on, you can almost always find a jar of this in our refrigerator!  Use it for ANYTHING you would want salsa on - from chips of course, to tacos, eggs, chicken, enchiladas, Spanish rice, soup, nacho dips... 

Easy Restaurant Style Salsa
about 1 quart

2 cans diced tomatoes (15 oz size) or use equivalent of fresh, diced
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
1 - 2 t fresh, minced garlic
1/2 - 2 jalapeno peppers (I often use jarred, sliced jalapeno's since we have them on hand all the time)
1 - 2 t honey (I often use sugar free as well and it works great)
1/2 - 3/4 t salt
1/2 t cumin
1 T lime juice (approximate - how limey do you like it?  I use the juice of 1 lime)
Cilantro or Parsley -  about a tablespoon or two dried or a small handful fresh

Place everything in a blender or food processor and process by pulsing just until blended.  Longer for smooth and shorter for more coarse texture.  Taste... adjust accordingly with pepper, salt, lime, etc.  Serve with tortilla chips.  I store in a quart jar in the refrigerator.

Everything thrown in a blender or food processor

I like it not too smooth and not too chunky.  Juuuuust right.

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