February 16, 2015

Chicken Parmesan

When I made this I had used up the Parmesan the night before on homemade pizza so I opted to use mozzarella.  It's one of those quick, mindless, easy meals to throw together at the last minute when you have to put something on the table. 

Chicken Parmesan (Mozzarella)

1/2 c dry bread crumbs
1/2 t Italian seasoning
1/4 t garlic powder
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I've used thighs as well)

2 c spaghetti sauce
1 c  mozzarella cheese
Oil or butter for pan

Combine bread crumbs and seasonings.  Place chicken in a greased or oiled baking dish.  Top with the bread crumbs.  Bake 20 minutes. Pour Sauce over chicken; top with cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

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February 14, 2015

Rainbow Tie-Dyed Cookies (That started out as amazing Rainbow Heart Cookies)

The accidental cookie
Strap yourself in for a ride on this recipe.  My goodness.  What a train wreck!

We have a birthday and Valentine's Day all in one weekend.  Because I knew a cake would go straight to the freezer after we enjoyed one tiny celebratory slice for tradition sake, I decided to make birthday cookies instead.

I was actually watching some music videos online when a click led to a click, led to a click...  and I found myself watching this "Rainbow Heart Cookie" demonstration.  It's actually in Chinese but she puts the English recipe on as well and you can watch step-by-step how to make these beautiful, incredible, fun and oh-so-perfect round cookies with perfect little hearts in the center.

And then after you see her perfect, beautiful version - you can carry on to watch my attempt and fail!

Ok!  Now let's get on to the American Housewife version...

FIRST:  If you follow me on Twitter, you know I take quick snapshots of the foods I make with my camera.  This is not a 'foodie' blog.  It's not a 'gorgeous picture blog'.  It's a real blog of a real Mom who makes real food... and forgets to take pictures half the time!  So I try to remember to do so on my iphone.

And my iphone completely died, gave up the ghost and bit the dirt this week.

I just have an old iphone 4 (because I really, really don't care about the latest and greatest electronics).  The iphone 4 have a known 'issue' that Apple tried to hide from everyone;  the power button breaks.  It sticks down, stops working.  No worries.  I 'got around' the issue by never using the power button;  and instead you go into the settings, general, accessibility, and chose the Assistive Touch option.  This puts a little circle on your screen that will bring up options to 'touch' instead of having to lock and unlock your phone using the power button.

But still - knowing I have an inquisitive mind, I knew I wanted to try to fix it, so I ordered a little kit off Amazon from China for like, a dollar.  Fast forward to this week.  It was trying to send very large file photos of my kids to my email and it froze up.  Then it completely shut down.  Black screen.  Nothing would bring it back. 

The power button was useless and once it was dead, it was dead.  NOTHING worked.  (Not even banging the phone against the desk and my steering wheel in frustration).  I got home from running errands, ordered a new phone online and only THEN did I have the guts to get out my little iphone repair kit and take my phone apart.

I took it ALL apart.  I started by trying to use the little 'paper tab' trick to easily jam in the back without taking too many components out, but it didn't work (neither did sticking in pins, needles and bent paperclips to see if I could fix that area of the broken sensor/button) so I went on to take the whole thing apart. 

And in the end, I lost two itty bitty tiny teeny screws and I threw one piece away when I peeled it off the electronic mother board area and it wouldn't stick anymore after that... and then I decided to try the paper tab trick again - only sticking it in AFTER the little camera was removed completely from the iphone.  Then I put the whole thing back together, pressed the power button and...  IT WORKED.  OMGOSH IT WORKED AGAIN!!!!

Except I can't take pictures with it in regular camera mode.

It only works in 'selfie' mode - camera facing me.

Which is completely awkward and backwards trying to take pictures so this is how most of them look;

The odd angle
My LEGS in the photo
My FINGER in the photo on the right hand side

So...  now that you understand why my pictures this week will look so incredibly crappy, let's get on with this train wreck cookie!

For perfect cookies - use a sturdy cookie dough recipe.  Here is the one she uses;

3/4 c butter
1 1/4 c powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1 t vanilla
dash salt
3 egg yolks
2 1/2 c cake flour
food color - gel
egg wash - (1 egg white mixed with 1 t water)

Allow a LOT of time for chilling.  Each step needs to be completely chilled - which is about 2 hours in the refrigerator (although I sped up the process once they were rolled into flat rectangular discs)

My first mistake is that I didn't want to make a full sugar/flour cookie.  I knew my husband wouldn't want to eat it as he prefers a healthier cookie - no flour and no refined white sugar.  So I used my sugar free cookie recipe which I thought would be sturdy enough, but it really wasn't.  The dough is a little softer and stickier then the kind made with flour so it was more difficult to work with.  And when you add the food color, you might need to add a bit more flour to make up for the extra moisture.  I did end up using a couple tablespoons of flour in mine to help with this sticky problem since this dough is worked with a lot.

Follow the directions in the video to make you cookie dough and the beautiful heart cookies.

But here is how my heart cookies ended up being tie-dyed birthday cookies.

2/3 dough is left plain/vanilla. The other 1/3 cut into 6 equal pieces to color

After chilling, rolled out to equal sized flat rectangular pieces and chilled again

Using an egg wash to stack the dough, then sliced into 6 blocks, and chilled again

This is when I realized I was going to waste a LOT of dough cutting out and using just hearts

So I decided to take the dough, cut CIRCLES and re-use the dough gently to cut MORE until it was ALL used up

And I formed a tie-dyed log to chill yet again

Roll out the plain vanilla dough, and roll up the tie-dyed center log in it

Roll in multi-colored sprinkles and freeze until firm then slice into cookies

Ready to bake - I'm really sick of these cookies by now!

Tie-Dyed sugar free, wheat free cookies!!!!

You might be interested in these gel food colors or cookie cutters off Amazon;

AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color-8 assorted colors,0.75 oz bottles
Wilton Neon Gel Food Color Set
5 in 1 Star Style Orange Cutter Mold
Fox Run Heart Cookie Cutter Set, 5-Piece
Wilton Nesting Heart Cutter Set

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February 12, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno and Cheddar Meatballs

In the post below this one (yesterday) I mentioned how I was going to make jalapeno and cheddar cheese meatballs but wasn't in the mood so I threw it all together to make a simple meatloaf out of it.  I thought I would go back and find the meatball recipe and post it though, as they are really are so very good and worth making.  I plan on making them again next week myself!

Jalapeno Popper Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef
1 t fresh minced garlic
1/4 c ground almond flour (you can use regular flour, fine oatmeal or crackers or bread crumbs as a binder/filler)
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
bacon slices

In a mixing bowl combine the beef, garlic, flour, egg, salt and pepper.  Add a few or many jalapenos depending on how spicy you like your dishes.  Form patties a couple inches across.

In a second bowl, mix the cheddar cheese and cream cheese.  Form small balls.  Form the beef patties around each cheese filling ball.

Slice the bacon in half and use a half slice to stretch gently and wrap around the meatball.  Bake at 375 until they are done, the cheese is starting to melt out of the balls and the bacon is done.  I crisp them under the broiler for about 3 minutes as we like our bacon completely done and crisp.   

*I saved the leftover cheese filling and used it the following night in cheese stuffed chicken breasts.

Mixing everything in a bowl.

You don't even have to wrap with bacon if you don't wish to!

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February 11, 2015

So Simple Mexican Meatloaf.... Jalapeno's and Cheese!

Just a quick 'fly-by' post to get this in my 'remember this one' file!  Last weekend I had to make a quick dinner but was in no way in the mood to cook.  Ground Beef is a simple starting point, so I grabbed a package out of the deep freeze and put it in the microwave to thaw.  Standing in front of the ground beef on the counter, I stared at it.... and decided to make jalapeno and cheddar cheese meatballs.  Except... I wasn't in the mood to even make meatballs.  Instead I decided to call it meatloaf.  In a bowl the meat and a handful of ingredients went and then into the oven.  The result was a simple Mexican meatloaf that was a hit.

Mexican Meatloaf

1 1/2 lb. ground beef
1 handful shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
Jalapeno's to taste.  I used about 1/2 cup lightly chopped

Mix in a bowl and place in a greased pan to bake.  Bake approximately 40-60 minutes depending on how much meat you used, until the center is done completely.  You can drizzle taco sauce or salsa on top.  Serve with sour cream and guacamole if you wish!

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February 08, 2015

A small update: Low Carb Bread

When I posted my trial of the low carb, wheat-free bread (original post)  I mentioned it was a beautiful looking bread, but was a bit spongy.  My husband suggested perhaps toasted or made into French Toast, it would be better.  At the time I took the loaf and put it into the deep freeze as I wasn't really craving bread at that time but I didn't want to waste it.  

This morning I took it out of the freezer with the intention of experimenting a bit.  I found that when sliced thin and toasted, then smeared with a bit of real butter while piping hot;  it's very, very good!  I enjoyed it very much with a few crisp slices of bacon and a sliced avocado.  Once it cools down the texture changes again, but toasted hot, it's a very good 'bread'.  Tomorrow morning (or perhaps later today) I will be trying it as a sugar free "French Toast" which I will update later on my site to let you know what I think.

Here is a short version of the original post (you can click on the original one above for all the photos and comments and link back to the original poster of the recipe).

Maria's Bread Recipe 
1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour (5 oz)
5 TBS psyllium husk powder (no substitutes) (45 grams)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
2 1/2 TBS apple cider vinegar (1 oz)
3 egg whites  (about 3.5 oz for almond flour option)
7/8 cup (a little less than a cup) BOILING water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, psyllium powder (no substitutes: flaxseed meal won’t work), baking powder and salt. Mix until dry ingredients are well combined. Add in the eggs and vinegar and mix until a thick dough. Add boiling water into the bowl. Mix until well combined and dough firms up.

Form into 4 to 5 mini subs or one large loaf and place onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 55 minutes (45-50 minutes for smaller shapes like buns). Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely. Cut open with a serrated knife. Fill with desired fillings. Makes 5 servings.

NOTE! If you are having an issue with a bubble, try weighing your ingredients as listed above.
OPTION: Use 2 whole eggs.  If you are having trouble with it rising using whole eggs you can try egg whites. Also, if your buns looks nice and big but then deflates after removed from the oven, try reducing the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Traditional Sub Bread = 198 calories, 6g fat, 4g protein, 41 carbs, trace fiber
Almond Flour Sub (egg whites) = 209 calories, 14.2g fat, 8.2g protein, 15g carb, 9.8g fiber (60% fat, 15% protein, 28% carbs)


Into a loaf pan and into the oven.

Very, very beautiful bread.  It looks like a loaf made with wheat, yeast and sugar, doesn't it?

The products I use:
Now Foods Organic Psyllium Husk Powder, 12-Ounce
NOW Foods Almond Flour Pure ,  10 Ounce Bags (Pack of 4)
Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 5 lbs.
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Organic Raw -- 32 fl oz

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February 04, 2015

How much sugar is in the foods you eat and think are healthy?

How much sugar do you consume in one year?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes anywhere between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars in one year.

Less than 100 years ago, the average intake of sugar was only about 4 pounds per person per year.

You may be thinking, “I do not consume that much!” But it's possible you just aren't aware of the amount of sugar in the every day foods you eat.  Some are natural sugars, but many are added by manufacturers.

This is a topic I wrote about a year or two (or three?) again.   I had came across the Sugar Stacks website and loved how they put a visual of the sugar content to some every day foods!  The images below are from their site and do an excellent job at helping you see the sugar content of some random foods in our everyday American diets.

They look at the total sugar content and because they want to keep it as simple to understand as possible, they don't differentiate between all the various kinds of sugars;  they just want you to start thinking about the sugar content of foods and how much sugar you might be eating all day without realizing it.  

Americans consume refined sugars in numerous forms – there are the obvious sugary culprits – doughnuts, cookies, cake and ice cream. However, sugar is hidden in so much of what we consume every day. Sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup can be found in salad dressings, breads, hot dogs, peanut butter, pickles, canned-fruits, vegetables and soups, ketchup, crackers, cookies, frozen dinners, and several other food products.

There are 120 teaspoons in one pound of sugar.
This means 1/4 pound of sugar is equivalent to 30 teaspoons and 1/2 pound of sugar is equivalent to 60 teaspoons. Eating 150-170 pounds of sugar in one year is equivalent to consuming 1/4 to 1/2 pounds of sugar each day. That is 30-60 teaspoons of sugar in a 24 hour period.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are:

Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons).
Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).

There are many different names for sugar: Sugar, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), dehydrated cane juice, fructose, glucose, dextrose, syrup, cane sugar, raw sugar, corn syrup and more. Be aware that other sugars often labelled healthy like agave, honey, organic cane sugar and coconut sugar fall into the same category.

What are added sugars?

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation. They do not include naturally occurring sugars such as those found in milk (lactose) and fruits (fructose). Added sugars (or added sweeteners) include natural sugars (such as white sugar, brown sugar and honey) as well as other caloric sweeteners that are chemically manufactured (such as high fructose corn syrup). Some names for added sugars include agave syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, invert sugar, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, sugar, syrup.

What is the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates?

All carbohydrates are made up of units of sugar ("saccharide"). Carbohydrates containing only one unit of sugar (called "monosaccharides") or two units of sugar (called "disaccharides") are known as simple sugars or simple carbohydrates. Simple sugars are quickly broken down and provide a very fast increase in blood sugar, while complex carbs take longer and cause blood sugar to rise more gradually. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as starchy vegetables (corn, potatoes, peas, etc.), breads, cereals, rice and grains. Complex carbs are broken down into the simple sugars during digestion, which causes them to be processed more slowly in the body.

Why are sugars added to food?

Sugars are often added to foods during processing to make them sweeter or change the taste.

Source:  American Heart AssociationPrint Friendly and PDF

February 02, 2015

Spice Rubbed BBQ Ribs with a sauce made from the juices from baking before finishing on the grill or under the broiler

Yesterday I wanted to make bbq ribs; but with a dry rub, not a bbq sauce.  I'm not 'married' to any one version of dry rub, as I've used many over the years and they were all similar.   Since I was already online, I decided to search for 4-5 dry rub recipes to get an idea of what I wanted to make.

Interestingly enough the same darn rub recipe was listed on the first 5 search results I clicked on.  AND they were all attributed to different people.  Apparently, this basic idea is used by a LOT of people.  One click later I found a different recipe (that actually didn't sound very good at all and had some questionable spice mixtures...) so I decided to use this average spice mixture, but I opted to add coriander to the mix and went a little heavy on the cayenne.

My husband raved about these ribs and I have to add how incredibly filling they were.  I had just 3 ribs (above) and could barely finish them.  I used beef ribs - although I'm sure you could use pork ribs as well if you prefer them over beef.

Dry Rub

1 T cumin
1 T paprika
1 T granulated garlic
1 T granulated onion
1 T chili powder
1 T brown sugar
2 T salt
1 t ground coriander seed
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
1 t white pepper

Mix in a bowl.  Sprinkle on damp beef ribs as heavy or light as you wish for your personal taste. 

I chose to wrap the ribs in heavy aluminum foil and slow cooked them on 200 degrees for a few hours in the oven (it was a cold day and I was happy to have the oven going).  I turned off the oven around 3:00 and left them in it  until I ready to start making dinner around 5:00.  Opening one side of the foil, I poured off the juices into a pan on the stove and then unwrapped the ribs completely.   We haven't bought our new grill yet so I opted to finish these under the broiler.  While pre-heating the broiler I turned the heat up on the stove under the juices and proceeded to make a sauce out of it by adding a heavy dose of low sugar ketchup, brown sugar sweetener, and a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.  I simply kept spoon tasting until I got the sweetness I liked.  (about 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup brown sugar sweetener).   Medium high heat to boil until it's reduced to a thick sauce.  Broil the ribs under the broiler for a few minutes each side until golden brown.  Drizzle with the sauce and serve.

I like to use beef ribs - but you can use pork

It makes a LOT of spice mix.  Use it sparingly or heavy; up to you.

Heavily sprinkled with the spice mix and ready to wrap up and oven bake for a couple hours

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