July 31, 2014

FLASHBACK: What was I making 8 years ago today? 7 years? 5? 3? Last year?

This is pretty random for my website, but I found myself wondering what I was doing and making on this same date in years past.  Since I've had this website going since 2006, I did a quick search and thought I'd share.

Although I didn't have an entry for the 31st, I did two on the day before.  One of those is my favorite tender, Southern biscuit recipes.  The funny thing is, in 2006 I had NO CLUE I would ever actually live in the deep South again.


In 2007 I posting about the delicious grilled potatoes I had made for dinner the night before.  Sometimes we still make various versions of today... and often.

In 2008 we were grilling marinated shrimp.  This is something I still make often and after investing in a grill basket, it's easier than ever.  We made this over a campfire on the patio a couple weeks ago.

In 2009 I was posting about the spider in my garden...


In 2010 I didn't have a post but instead, had posted this delicious sounding Cherry and Blue Cheese Salad.

In 2011, not only was I knee deep in marketing and showing our home as we were in the middle of a relocation across the country, but I was working full time at the museum as the administrative assistant (complete with helping with the weekend events, fund raisers, mid-week board meetings, the young professional meetings we held there as well as getting ready to move my son to college, traveling down South to enroll my daughter into high school in the new city/state...   and I apparently had just spilled coffee all over my laptop keyboard.  But a day or two before, I had posted a recipe for ButterBeer from Harry Potter.

In 2012, on July 31st, I made beautiful homemade plum jelly I remember how gorgeous these were, cooling on the counter as the sunshine hit them.  They didn't last long as my homemade jelly, jam and salsa's are my husbands favorites and he goes through them in record time!

Last year on this date, I was making a yummy homemade peanut butter, using peanut flour!

That was fun!!!  And I got to revisit a few old recipes from my files.  It also brought back a lot of random memories of that time period in our lives.  So much has changed since 2006!


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My review of LC Foods Sweetened Condensed Milk - Sugar Free, Low Carb, Gluten Free, Sweetened Condensed Milk


My online 'healthier' product orders are usually pretty standard as the products are expensive and I don't have a budget that allows me to order often, nor to splurge much.  However, I do try to find a product or two each time to 'try' and this was one of them.  It was a first time order for me, and purchased with one particular 'not so healthy' recipe in mind that uses sweetened condensed milk, that I hoped to make a sugar free, healthier version of.

This is a powder, that when you reconstitute with cream and vanilla is to resemble the thick, gooey and oh-so-good sweetened condensed milk from a can.  It makes two (2) cans worth so I used half the package and prepared as per directions to use in my recipe.

My review is mixed.  I would love to say it's a complete 5 stars... I wish I could.  But I'm going to give it 2 out of 5

LC Foods Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • gluten Free, Low Carb, Sugar Free, Corn Syrup Free
  • Wheat Free, Diabetic Friendly, Low Sugar Product, Soy Free
  • Net carbs 0g Protein 4g Fiber
  • 40 servings of approx. 2 Tbsp prepared condensed milk
  • 106g Makes 2 1/2 Cups - 28 oz (2 cans) Condensed Milk
The product is easy to mix, quick to use and you get a thickened liquid that isn't close to the 'real' deal, but it is thicker than cream alone.  The taste however, is not close to sweetened condensed milk.  For the recipe I was using it in, it worked just fine as I was using whipping cream, vanilla (more than the little bit used to reconstitute the LC Food product), as well as crushed sugar free cookies, etc. so I had enough foods that my finished product was perfect.  My dessert did not depend on the distinctive flavor of sweetened condensed milk, just a sweetener that was thicker than liquid.

The flavor is absolutely 'off' from what sugar would be.  It has the strong 'fake sweetener' taste.  If your dessert needs the real taste of sweetened condensed milk to turn out, or you don't have other ingredients to mask it, I wouldn't suggest using this one.  However, if it is one of many ingredients, and you need to avoid sugar or gluten or soy completely, then yes, I would use this as a go-to product.

(I will be posting the recipe I made with it - it was incredibly yummy! Check back soon!)

You might also be interested in other similar products;
8 Piece Sample Pack of LC Foods

Pancake Mix
Pizza & Bagel Flour
Double Chocolate Brownies Low Carb

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July 30, 2014

The easiest, greatest pie crust, that turns out perfectly every time

All these years, I thought I had my stand-by pie crust recipe here on my site, but a quick search didn't turn it up (and I refuse to search for longer than oh, 2 seconds! Ha) so I wanted to be sure it was here for my oldest daughter to easily find, as well as my son and younger daughter too, now that all three will be 'out of the nest' as of this Fall.

This is a recipe I've been making for almost 20 years.  It's quick and easy, it's pretty much fool proof, and it tastes great as well as having a nice texture.  I'm actually more of a pie 'crust' kind of a person moreso than the filling.  So this crust sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar is more of a treat for me than a whole slice of pie would be as it's a food I remember my Mom making with the extra scraps of leftover pie crust when I was only 3 and 4 years old.

Quick and Easy Perfect Pie Crust

2 c flour
1 t salt
3/4 c mixture of shortening (Crisco) and butter
4-5 T ice water

In a food processor, place the flour, salt and a mixture of about 1/2 cup shortening and 1/4 cup butter (you can use all shortening, all butter, or a mixture of both, but I like these amounts for a flaky, tender crust from the shortening with the stability and flavor of the butter).  Pulse a few times just to make a crumbly mix.  With the machine running on low, drizzle ICE cold water thru the feeder tube just until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides.  This usually takes about 3-4 tablespoons but could be less or more depending on the brand of flour, the humidity, the exact amount of flour used, etc.  Now split into 2 disks and chill for about 20 minutes to make them easier to work with.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface.  This makes 2 bottom crusts or 1 top and 1 bottom crust.  Bake according to your pie recipe.

Stop adding water and pulsing as soon as it forms a ball

One disk of dough
An easy way to do a top crust; lay the rolled out crust over all
Gently roll the excess to the edge of your pie
Either seal the edges by pressing with a fork or by pinching to form a waved crust
I just go around the outside pinching the dough between my fingers
For this pie I sprinkled the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking

You might also be interested in;
Perfect Pies: The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes from America's Pie-Baking Champion
Pyrex Easy Grab, 9.5 Inch, Pie Plate
HIC Ceramic Rose's Perfect Pie Plate, Rose

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July 22, 2014

14 Zucchini Recipes! Everything from Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread to Spicy Chicken and Zucchini

Pasta with Spicy Chicken and Vegetables
Chicken, Zucchini and Feta
Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Caramelized Zucchini with Garlic
Sauteed Zucchini and Cabbage
Zucchini Puff (Zucchini Casserole)
Vegetable Casserole (Using up your Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Carrots!)
Zucchini Jam
Zucchini Cake
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Zapple Pie (Zucchini Pie you will swear is Apple Pie)
Scallops and Penne in Garlic Cream Sauce
Italian Garden Salad
Vegetable Cakes

Chicken, Zucchini and Feta
Vegetable Casserole

Sauteed Zucchini and Cabbage

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July 19, 2014

Spicy Chicken and Spinach

Boy do I owe this recipe an apology. 

This dish is tweaked and based on a recipe I've had sitting in a very well used 3-ring-binder for ten years.  Yes....  10. Years.  And I've flipped past it, never made it because the list of ingredients seemed so boring, so common and so blah, that I didn't give it the time of day.  Today that changed.

It started simply enough.  I grabbed two Ziploc packages of frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the freezer, popped them into my electric skillet on 300 degrees and let them cook while I did other things.  When they were cooked I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, so I flipped open one of my kazillion 3-ring binders where I have old recipes hand written, printed, ripped out of old magazines, etc.  And my eyes fell on a very boring looking chicken and spinach casserole recipe.  It only caught my attention because it called for 3 cups of cooked, diced chicken (which I had in front of me) and spinach... which is currently my 18 year old daughter's favorite vegetable that she can't get enough of.

I added a bunch of jalapenos, some salsa (because I made homemade fresh salsa a few days ago and wanted to use it up), some red and orange peppers and viola!  I taste tested it before it was even heated through, loved it so much, I immediately (yes, immediately)  made a second batch to put in the freezer for a future dinner.  I am also going to copy it right now to send the link to my oldest daughter to add to her 'whip this up for dinner' and it's "soooo good" file.

Spicy Chicken and Spinach

3 cups cooked, diced chicken
10 oz. pk. frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 yellow and 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 T butter
1/2 c jalapeno slices (canned) or 2 small jalapeno's fresh (increase, decrease)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c sour cream
1 1/2 c salsa or 14 oz. can diced tomatoes w/ peppers, onions, garlic, salt and lime juice mixed in to taste
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1 c cheddar cheese

Mix the chicken and spinach in a casserole dish.  Saute' the onion and pepper in butter until tender.  Add the jalapenos, mix and add to the chicken/spinach.  Heat the salsa (or the tomato/onion/pepper/garlic/lime/salt) in a pan.  Add the cream cheese and heat through.  Pour over the chicken mixture.  Add the sour cream, spices and cheese.  Mix and bake at 350 until heated through and bubbly or microwave if you are in a hurry or don't want to heat up the kitchen.

I tasted it at this stage;  pre-cream cheese and sour cream and salsa and it was amazing already!
I would even venture to make this and serve as it is;  without the cheeses as a lighter alternative.
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July 18, 2014

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies! (And an option for grain free, sugarfree versions too!)

If you are a fan of peanut butter cookies, I can't imagine you haven't made the oh-so-simple three ingredient version that not only has every Great Grandmother (in the US at least), but pretty much, almost every 8 year old has made as well.  (1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar and 1 egg... make into balls, flatten and bake at 350 for about 9 minutes.)  I'm not a fan of peanut butter, but my family is so I made them... but like every other recipe I ever make, I always tweak, embellish, change it a bit.  Whenever I made that simplistic version I always added some vanilla at the very least, and usually used half white, half brown sugar.

This recipe is similar - very basic, but with a few more additions than just the 3.   The thing is, this is a regular peanut butter cookie recipe without flour or grains... but I went a step further and used natural sweeteners that make it sugar free as well.  The only sugar in this cookie (if you make it with natural sweeteners) is whatever sugar grams are in your favorite peanut butter. 

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c peanut butter
1/2 c brown sugar (or brown sugar substitute sweetener)
1/2 c granulated sugar  (or granulated sugar substitute)
5-10 drops liquid sweetener IF you are using Xyliol or other natural sweetener in place of sugar & like them sweet
1 egg
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Mix in a bowl until smooth.  Chill dough for easier handling and less spreading.  Form balls of your favorite size cookie and bake on parchment at 350 for about 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets at least 3 minutes before moving to racks to cool complete. These can be more crumbly in texture than the sort with flour (especially in the summer when the humidity is high), but after they are cool I put 3 cookies each in individual baggies and keep them in the refrigerator or freezing for easy "grab and go".   

*I've made these with Splenda back in the early 2000's before other natural sweeteners were available and since then have made them with various natural sugar substitutes.  I like to use Ideal brand for the best flavor.  If you taste test the dough, you can add more or less sweetener to your own preference.  I've also made these into balls and dipped the tops in granulated sugar substitute before baking. 

UPDATE: 2016 - Ideal no longer makes the brown sugar version but Just Like Sugar does. Print Friendly and PDF

July 17, 2014

Sugar Free, Low Carb, Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Sugar Free, Grain Free, Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c butter
1/4 c coconut oil
scant 3/4 c brown sugar sweetener - minus about 2 T
1/4 c granular sugar sweetener
8-10 drops liquid sweetener
2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3 c almond flour
1/4 c coconut flour
1/2 package sugar free chocolate chips 

Mix the butter, oil and sugars until creamy.  Add the liquids and eggs.  Mix in the dry ingredients and stir in the chips.  Chill the dough at least 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350.  Scoop cookies into balls, flatten slightly and bake on parchment paper for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on edges and starting to brown on tops.  Cool on cookie sheets for about 3-4 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. 


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July 12, 2014

Steaks over a Campfire and using my Solar Oven = "cool" cooking this summer

We grill out a lot... no really.  A lot.  Year round.  So it's no wonder we go through grills fairly often.  I won't invest in an $800 grill because I know we will be buying a new one by the end of the 2nd or 3rd season.

We also like to have backyard bonfires.  Since we have a wood deck, we were using our fire pit on the grass area in the backyard.  However, we installed a patio last Spring of 2013 with concrete pavers.  This allowed us to put our firepit on the concrete and it's been getting heavy use ever since.

We enjoy grilled steak, seafood, vegetables, chicken and burgers... but cooking them under the broiler when you don't have a grill just is not the same.  So one night I decided to cook over our fire pit as if we were camping.  The first night was simply jalapeno hot dogs.  The next night we made steaks and grilled veggies in a grill basket.  A couple nights later it was chicken.  

Since then, we've been 'grilling' over our patio fire pit about three times a week all summer... and it's wonderful!  The flavor of the foods cooked over a fire is incomparable to the taste of being grilled in a propane grill.

I simply get the fire going, let it burn down (about 30-45 minutes) and lay the grill rack across some flat rocks to raise it about 5-6 inches from the heat.  If it's not level, I can just add a new piece of wood or a few more rocks (the photo above has a 'fresh' log I added to the bottom to level out the rack - although the steaks are cooking over the hot coals).

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July 05, 2014

Jalapeno Cheese Balls

Given the choice to eat dinner 'out', more than likely I will choose seafood.  And not seafood at some stuffy, hoity-toity restaurant where you can't kick back and relax. 

I prefer a place where no one cares which fork or napkin you use - or even if you use one at all.  A fun atmosphere, quirky and laid back.  Just like me.  So either a beach dive or even a Joe's Crab Shack or Crabs We Got 'Em will suffice.

When we eat at Joe's Crab Shack I will always order Great Balls of Fire.  Years ago (before foodies everywhere started to do this)  I took a bunch of photos of them before we ate them, and then slowly (ever so slowly) tried to eat them to mentally deduce what was in them so I could recreate them.  I ended up with a supper yummy cheese and jalapeno ball that I've posted here on An  American Housewife for my own kids to use, but a few years ago (2008) I came across this recipe online and saved it in my files too.

I've played with this recipe in that I sometimes have to leave the crab out because I don't have it or it's not in my food budget.  I never have the tiny salad shrimp on hand, but always have medium sized shrimp so I clean those, pop them into the microwave to cook them and then chop them up.

Most recently I made it lower carb by using low carb options to bread the balls.  I was fairly happy with the results, but I indulge in these so rarely and they have just a light breading, then typically I am just going to go ahead and use breadcrumbs.  The only thing I hate hate hate hate about making these?  I've already mentioned numerous times on this site since 2006....  I hate breading anything!  I get just as much egg and breading mix on my fingers as I do the food, and apparently I'm one of those people who find it 'icky' and just don't like it. 

Which is probably why I don't make these more often.  But they are good - so good - so perhaps I better 'get over it' and start making them more often.  Breaded fingers or not.

Jalapeno Cheese Balls
Similar to Great Balls of Fire from Joe's Crab Shack

2 T butter
2 oz cream cheese
1/4 c sour cream
1 T mayonnaise
1 t season salt
1/8 t paprika
1/8 t chili powder
1/4 c cheese, shredded pepperjack
4 t onions, minced
4 t green peppers, minced
3 jalapenos, minced and seeded
6 oz crab, canned
4 oz shrimp, minced salad shrimp
2 eggs
1T milk
1 c Panko or breadcrumbs
1 c oil for frying

Mix the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until blended. Add seasoned salt, paprika, and chili powder. Add cheese, onion, green pepper, and jalapenos. Add crab and shrimp; mix. Roll into 1/4 inch balls; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Beat eggs and milk. Dip the balls into egg mixture; dredge in fine bread crumbs. Deep fry until golden in 1 cup hot oil.

Adding the yummy spices!

Before breading them

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July 03, 2014

My Favorite Blueberry Pie - Made into a Lower Carb, Sugar Free Version

***UPDATED - 2016 - the Ideal brown sugar version mentioned above is no longer available but Just Like Sugar does make the brown sweetener version.

And... 2022 update - this post is from 2014 and most of the products have changed or are unavilable (the Just Like Sugar brand for example) use whatever brands and options are available in whatever year you are reading this post.

One of the few fruit pies I will eat, is my blueberry pie.
I love my blueberry pie.
And because I've been making it for so many years I know exactly what it will taste like - too hot from the oven when I burn my tongue on it, at room temperature, cooled from the refrigerator, with ice cream, with whipped cream, sans any topping with coffee and more.

I know my blueberry pie.  I love my blueberry pie.
But it's full of regular, all purpose white flour.
And sugar.
And not exactly 'healthy'.
So yesterday I set out to make it healthier.

"And my husband agreed with me - that it's all in my head...  
as he finished every last crumb of his slice."

The end result made me sad... because it wasn't MY blueberry pie.

It didn't have sweet sugary blueberry filling.
It didn't have the crunchy crust from the extra sugar sprinkled and baked on top.

And the fact that I didn't love it as much as I do "my" blueberry pie... is all in my head.
And I know that.
And my husband agreed with me- that it's all in my head...  as he finished every last crumb of his slice.

The thing is... my husband never, ever, ever finishes a whole slice of pie.
I've seen him eat many fruit pies.
He always leaves the crust.  He hates crusts. 
And he ate the crusts of his blueberry pie last night.
And said it was the first time in his life he has, because he could taste it was 'healthy' and not flour and lard like his mind insists all other pies on the face of the earth are made from.

Healthier Blueberry Pie

1 c Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour
4 T Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten
2 t xanthan gum (I used Thick-It-Up this time but prefer xanthan gum)
2 T Nature's Best Isopure Unflavored Whey Protein Powder
1/3 c oat flour (optional - I used this time but not the last 2 times. Not a significant difference)
1 t baking powder
dash of salt
6 T cold butter, cut into small pieces (reduce to 4 T if you don't use oat flour)
2 egg yolks
2 T cold water

4-5 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
1 1/2 T  Thick-It-Up Low Carb Food Thickener
3/4 c Ideal No Calorie Sweetener Brown Sugar Substitute or a mixture of both 'white' and 'brown' together
dash of cinnamon, vanilla and ground ginger
Just Like Sugar Baked Right to sprinkle on the top crust**

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.  Cut in the butter with your fingers and work it in until it's coarse.  Beat the egg yolks with cold water and blend it into the dry ingredients.  When it forms a ball, remove, place on plastic wrap, form a disk, wrap and chill.

While the crust is chilling, mix the berries, thickener, sugar substitute and ginger, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl. Remove the chilled dough, divide into half and roll out the pie crusts (between two pieces of parchment because it's sticky) and place one in a large, deep dish pan pan.

Fill with the blueberry filling.  Top with the second crust and crimp the edges with your fingers or use a fork.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and a sugar substitute (I used Just Like Sugar's Baked Right).  Bake at 350 until golden brown and firm in the center. 

**Note:  The next time I make this I'm going to use some erythritol in the blueberry mix and sprinkled on top to make it just a little sweeter and to give it more of that crunch that unhealthy, beloved blueberry pie has.

I use my blueberries frozen - right from the freezer, yes with ice still covering them

Crimping the edges to seal in the filling

This is a product that is sweetener and cinnamon already blended

I baked it my sun oven for about 2 1/2 hours (nothing burns so forget about it as long as you want)


***UPDATED - 2016 - the Ideal brown sugar version mentioned above is no longer available but Just Like Sugar does make the brown sweetener version.

And... 2022 update - this post is from 2014 and most of the products have changed or are unavilable (the Just Like Sugar brand for example) use whatever brands and options are available in whatever year you are reading this post.




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