August 31, 2015

Money Saver: Slice and Vacuum Seal Your Own Meats, Poultry, Pepperoni and More

Last night I took a package of chicken breast tenders out of the deep freeze, sliced open the vacuum sealed package, cooked the chicken breasts, used half of them for last night's meal and then proceeded to vacuum seal the leftover pre-cooked chicken and popped them into the refrigerator.

It was because of this, I realized I really, really needed to get in gear and get a quick post written on American Housewife because I took and uploaded these photos about a month ago and still haven't gotten around to posting them yet.  However, buying chicken, ham, pepperoni and other items when I come across a great deal at the grocery store and dividing them up and sealing them has become such a way of life for me, I'm thrilled my husband picked up a basic, frugal food vacuum sealer and meat slicer for me earlier this year. 

Something I wanted for YEARS but could never afford was a food sealer.  My husband found this Weston brand sealer on sale at Lowe's and bought it for me.  Our local Lowes doesn't have them any longer, but they do have them on Amazon. (Mine is just an affordable version: Weston Brands Harvest Guard Vacuum Sealer)

I think he saw how excited I was about having a food sealer, that it wasn't much longer before he came home with another 'great find' for me;  the Weston Food Slicer which he also found on sale at Lowe's. 

With both of these items, I've been able to cut down on the cost of buying deli meats like ham by buying a whole or half ham on clearance (especially right after holidays like Easter!  They go down to just a couple dollars!) and slicing it myself.  Instead of just popping them into a ziploc, I am now able to better seal them by using a vacuum sealer, which gets all the air out, allowing me to store them longer without any freezer burn, off-taste or long term freezer damage to the quality.

My meal slicer is not a big, expensive, professional version (although you can certainly buy one!).  It's a good quality slicer for home use, and does slices from paper thin to a half inch thick.  Not only do I like using this for deli meats, but now I can buy the better tasting whole pepperoni and slice it myself for our homemade pizza!  Freshly sliced deli pepperoni beats the pants off the little overpriced, sliced, greasy, packaged pepperoni.

When it comes to my food sealer, I've been using it on everything from meats and poultry to celery, dehydrated vegetables and fruits and even fresh fruits!  I LOVE my sealer and I don't feel guilty about using it now that I bought replacement bags from Amazon.  Before that I was cutting them down to size and prioritizing what I sealed until I was finally down to just 1 bag left and I invested in purchasing 100 of them.  (I found great deals on Amazon - much better priced than the ones I looked at in my local stores as they were the Food Saver brand and were sky high priced). 

When I sliced and bagged deli ham last time I took a couple photos on my phone's camera.

Simply put the meat into the slicer, held in place by the safety guard for slicing

Adjust the dial for the thickness or thinness you want your slices to be

A plate of sliced ham for a fraction of the cost of buying it pre-sliced

Placed into individual or 1 pound sized packages, I vacuum seal the sizes I want

Take advantage of all the sale and clearance deals!
Buying in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club, as well as deals at your local grocer.

MY versions are the lower end, affordable ones... not the big old expensive pro versions....
Weston Food Slicer, 7.5-Inch

Weston Brands Harvest Guard Vacuum Sealer

But there are plenty of other versions available at Amazon for whatever your budget might be;

Weston  8-by-12-Inch Vacuum-Sealer Food Bags, 100 Count  
Weston Pro-2100 Vacuum Sealer, White
Weston Heavy Duty Food 9-Inch Slicer


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August 27, 2015

Cream Cheese Filled Pumpkin Muffins - Healthy and Almost like a Cream Filled Pumpkin Cupcake!

These muffins are almost like a pumpkin cupcake... only ultra-healthy and NO ONE WILL KNOW IT!
No sugar.
No flour.
Flax seed.
Real pumpkin.

Tastes like a sweet pumpkin cupcake full of fat, sugar, flour and chemicals... but so healthy you don't have to feel guilty at all.  And yes, you can serve these to kids and guests and no will guess they are eating something that is actually good for them with real pumpkin and nutrient packed flax.

Although it looks like regular frosted 'cupcake' in the photo above, look what's hiding inside?  A magic filling surprise that kids will love.

Pumpkin Muffins

2 c almond flour
1/4 c flax meal
3/4 c unflavored or vanilla whey protein powder
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t pumpkin pie spice I usually just use a mix of about 1 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 ginger and 1/8 nutmeg
3/4 c blend of favorite sweeteners; use a white granular and a brown sugar version for best taste but you don't have to*
3/4 c pure pumpkin puree  (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 stick real butter, melted
3 eggs
2 t vanilla
1/4 c half and half or cream

In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients;  almond flour, flax, protein powder, baking powder, soda, salt, spice and sweeteners.    In another bowl mix the pumpkin, butter, eggs and vanilla.   Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon while adding the cream or half and half.  Add a little bit more cream if you have to but remember your batter should be thicker than a cake mix yet still able to be scooped or poured into muffin tins.    Pour batter into greased or lined cupcake tins filled  3/4 full.  Bake at 325 for approximately 25 minutes.   This will make roughly 14-15 muffins and depending on the brands of ingredients used, will be 4-7 carbs per muffin. 

*I used to love Ideal brand but they discontinued it. Instead, I now buy Brown Sweetener by Just Like Sugar

Use a favorite sugar free cream cheese based frosting and place into a frosting bag with almost any icing/frosting decorating tip that has a fairly good opening - any round tip opening, a #230 or even a star tip will work just fine.  You don't have to use any special apple corer or anything to 'remove' any of the muffin or a cupcake.  Simply insert the tip, squeeze gently and stop when the top of the baked good starts to peak.  Pull out.  That's it!  Now the magic is inside the muffin!  You can use the extra frosting/filling to frost the top, add a simple swirl or leave them plain.  These freeze great too!

Basic Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c butter, softened
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 c - 2 cups sugar free sweetener of your choice
Just start blending and adjust amounts of sweeteners and cream cheese to your personal taste preference and how sweet you like it.  I start with just 1 cup sweetener and adjust as I don't like my frostings overly sweet.  If it's too  thick, just drizzle the tiniest bit of half and half - a little goes a long way!

You might also be interested in the products used;
Bob's Red Mill Organic  Flaxseed Meal
NOW Foods Almond Flour, 10 oz

100% Pure Erythritol  Granules
Brown Sweetener: 16 oz by Just Like Sugar

Nature's Best Isopure Unflavored (Zero Carb)

Brown Sweetener by Just Like Sugar
Wilton Disposable 16-Inch Decorating Bags, 12 Pack
Wilton 12-Piece Cupcake Decorating Set


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August 25, 2015

11 Autumn Recipes Featuring Pumpkin!

This morning was the very first morning when there was the slightest, tiniest bit of chill in the morning air.  I loved it!  Totally got me in the mood to crack open a kitchen window and bake... but what to bake!?  In the Fall I always start to crave pumpkin based goodies, so while searching my site for ideas, I decided to make a post of it.

If you need pumpkin pie spice and you don't have it in the pantry, you might already have the spices to make it yourself;

Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t allspice
1/4 t ginger

Eleven Autumn Recipes Featuring Pumpkin

Pumpkin Griddle Cakes

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake

Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Dessert (Made with a Dry Cake Mix!) 

Pumpkin Pie made with Apple Butter

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Penuche Frosting 

Low Carb, Sugar Free Pumpkin Bars

3 Layer Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Muffins with Flaxseed










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