Reposting my yummy macrons - almond macrons with filling

Originally posted March, 2015

Originally posted in March of 2015, I always start to crave these in the Spring. 

A little crisp, light meringue bite with a bit of filling in the center.  The ones in the photo above baked up perfectly - just a little bit too tall as my batter was quite thick - but I had no sticking problems using just a basic non-stick parchment paper. I probably need to take photos of my next batch and update some pictures but if you are a regular reader then you know I usually forget to take pictures - and when I do take them, they are quickly done with my cellphone. 

They freeze beautifully - and thaw quickly, not losing any of their taste or texture.


1 c confectioner's sugar
3/4 c almond flour
2 egg whites, room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 c superfine granulated sugar
optional: 1-2 drops food color and 1/4 t flavor extract

Mix the confectioner's sugar and almond flour very well either by pulsing in a food processor until combined or using an electric stick blender or electric whisk, etc. It should be mixed very well and quite fine.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk whites with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to low, then add a drop or two of food color if you are using it, a drop or two of flavor extracts if you are using them, and the superfine white sugar. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form. Sift flour mixture over whites, and fold until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip if you have one, or if not, leave the round 1/2 inch opening of the bag or the white plastic piece you would normally put a tip on, and pipe 3/4-inch rounds 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Drag the pastry tip to the side of rounds rather than forming peaks.

Tap bottom of each sheet on work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Option one:  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.

Option two:  If you bake a constant 300 or 325 without adjusting the temperatures, it takes about 17 minutes to bake crisp.  I tested both ways and found both to work for me.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. (If macarons stick, spray water underneath parchment on hot sheet. The steam will help release macarons.)

Sandwich 2 same-size macarons with 1 teaspoon filling of your choice. Serve immediately, or stack between layers of parchment, wrap in plastic, and freeze for up to 3 months.

  • I put the eggs and the almond flour out on the counter the night before so both would be room temperature when I made them. 
  • I never use 'fresh' eggs for anything as I've found eggs that are 1-2 weeks old work best in almost all recipes and are the 'secret' to perfect hard boiled eggs every time.
  • My oven is conventional and/or convection.  I use the convection setting for them although I'm not sure if it's necessary. Because I used the convection setting, I didn't have to rotate my baking sheets while baking.
  • I baked one batch following the above directions and a second batch at a constant 300 degrees for 17-18 minutes.  Both turned out equally well.
  • I rarely buy or use white sugar and I did not have superfine sugar on hand so I used my stick blender (like a mini food processor) to grind up regular white sugar a bit.  You can use your mini food processor for that.  Don't over blend or you'll get powdered sugar. 

Sifting the confectioner's sugar and almond flour (I used a whisk)

Separating the eggs

A nice stiff peak

My least favorite part: folding in!

I did not use a tip but left the hole open

Tiny little thumbnail sized meringues

A nice dry crisp bite

A nice shell with a chewy center - perfect!

The batter was a bit thick so they puffed up more than I expected

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Shrimp Wonton Dumplings with Sauce

Another recipe file from my 'draft' files.  I already make this one in various forms without actually using a recipe but if you need a recipe or you like to look at 3-4 different recipes and wing it, here is a pretty basic but good one.

Shrimp WonTon Dumplings

1/2 c water
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T sugar or sweetener
1 T rice vinegar
1T chopped green onion (green part only)
1/2 t minced ginger
1/2 t chili oil


1/2 pound raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 T finely minced carrot
1 T finely minced green onion
1/2 t minced fresh ginger
1/2 t minced fresh garlic
1/4 t salt
1/4 t sugar or sweetener

8 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten

Mix sauce ingredients in a pan on the stove and heat through. Remove from heat and set it aside to cool.

Make shrimp filling by placing the shrimp in a food processor and pulsing a few times until as smooth as you prefer. Add carrot, green onion, ginger, garlic, salt, and sugar; pulse just to blend.

Place a spoonful of filling onto the center of each wonton wrapper. Brush beaten egg on the edges. Bring two opposite corners up to meet in the middle; press together over the filling. Bring the other two opposite corners up and pinch all the edges together making a square package with sealed edges. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and let the dumplings sit for about ten minutes in the refrigerator so the edges seal nicely.

Fill a pan with water and bring to just under a boil. Use a steamer basket if you have one.  When it starts to simmer drop in the dumplings and steam them for 15 minutes.  Eat them soft steamed or quickly fry the steamed dumplings in a pan with hot oil under crisp. Serve with the dipping sauce.


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CopyCat Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper

This morning I'm again looking over a bunch of 'draft' files of recipes I've had forever I want to post so they are in my online collection but I haven't made myself yet.  Some of them I've had for so many years that we don't eat some of the products anymore, sometimes an ingredient isn't even made anymore and still others I collected when the kids were younger - and that particular child may have already moved out. This is one of those.

This one is actually for my son. It's easy and quick.

CopyCat Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper

1 lb lean ground beef
1 c hot water
2 c milk
1 1⁄2 c elbow macaroni
1 T corn starch
2 t paprika
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded

Brown ground beef in a large skillet, drain. Add hot water, milk, macaroni, corn starch, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 12 minutes or until the pasta is tender. In the last few minutes of cooking time, add cheese, stir, and re-cover. When the cheese is melted, remove from heat and uncover. Let stand for about 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Top with additional cheese, if desired.

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Homemade Thin Mint Cookies (Copycat Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies)

NOTE: the Homemade Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies are on our Christmas Tray *every* year!

I've been making my own Caramel D'lites, Thin Mints and Twix cookies for about 15 years now. I also make Salted Nut Rolls but they are such a messy pain in the back side that I figure it's worthwhile to buy them if I'm craving them... LOL. But as for the mint cookies? Here you go. One that is ultra fast and simple... and a more labor intense version for when they switched to a chocolate wafer a few years ago instead of the original cookie.

Faux Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

Ritz Crackers
Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips or Chocolate Almond Bark
Peppermint Oil flavoring (more intense than extract)

Amounts are completely up to you based on how many you want to make.

Start with about 3/4 of a bag (or 6 oz.) of the chocolate chips and melt in the microwave, stirring often, or double boiler or over very low heat. Stir in about 1/4 t of peppermint oil (add by drops until you get a strong, delicious taste you like. Stronger is better than weaker but don't trust your taste buds after the first taste or two, employ a 'helper' to dip a cracker and do a taste test.) Work quickly so your chocolate doesn't set up while you are dipping, or keep it warming in a bowl or pan over another pan of hot water (double boiler style). You can get about 1 sleeve of crackers dipped with about 6-8 oz. chocolate chips. If your chocolate is too thick to dip correctly you can add 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening and stir smooth. Don't add butter or water it will seize.

Using a fork, dip the Ritz crackers one by one to cover in the melted minty chocolate coating and let the excess drip off before laying on parchment paper or wax paper. Let harden or if you are in a rush, refrigerate to harden. With the scalloped edge of the cracker they look and taste like the 'real' thing for pennies on the dollar.

Ok... for those of you who want the chocolate wafers.

1 package chocolate fudge cake mix
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup cake flour
1 egg
3 T water
nonstick cooking spray

Combine the cookie ingredients in a large bowl, adding the water a little bit at a time until it forms a dough. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough very thin (about 1/16 " thick). Cut out 1 1/2 inch wafers using a scalloped cookie or biscuit cutter. If you do not have one, use a juice glass, the lid of a spice jar or even a clean cutter from your kids play-doh set if they have one! Bake for about 10 minutes until crisp but don't let them burn. Let them cool completely and then dip the same way as stated above. If you make the chocolate wafers you'll need about 2 1/2 - 3 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips to cover all the wafers.

Can be frozen for storage.

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Low Carb, Sugar Free Triple Layer Cake (Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Cake and White Vanilla Birthday Cake)

Originally published in 2017 - however low carb and keto ingredients and options change so quickly that some of the products used back then aren't even made anymore and we have better options now that weren't available then!

Mostly - sweeteners.  At the time there were a few on the market but today there are so many more!  At the time of this little update I'm loving the erythritol and monk fruit blend sweeteners along with allulose. Use the natural, healthy sweeteners you like best or what is available whenever you are using this recipe as 2017 isn't that long ago, but products change fast when baking keto and low carb or sugarfree!

I couldn't decide which flavor of cake to make.  Since I had all the ingredients out, I just went ahead and made 3 different kinds and figured I'd choose one later and freeze the rest.

In the end I used one layer of all three because they all looked so good!
When he got home from work on his birthday......

"You didn't make me a birthday cake, right?
"I did make a cake."
"Not a birthday cake though... You made a Monday cake."
"Yep, I made a Monday Cake."
"Did you write Monday-Cake on it?"
"Nope. I wrote something else."

I brought out the not-a-birthday-cake.


(I was NOT in the mood to decorate a cake so this was a 2 minute decorating job!  Ran off the KISS logo on a piece of artists paper -Disposable Paper Palette-and placed it on the cake before the icing set. We just took it off before eating the cake.)

From my SnapChat Story to my Family that day...

 Low Carb, Sugar Free, Chocolate Cake

2 1/4 c good quality almond flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
1/2 c sweetener (erythritol, etc.) + little more if you like it sweeter
1/3 c whey protein powder (I use Isopure - zero carb & zero sugar)
1 t instant coffee
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t xanthan gum
1/2 t salt
3/4 c sour cream
1/2 c soft butter (1 stick)
5 eggs
15 drops liquid or other sweetener (mixing sweeteners gives it better flavor than a single sweetener)
2 t vanilla
2/3 c almond milk or half and half, etc.

Place all the dry ingredients from the almond flour to the salt, in a large bowl and mix well with a wood spoon, whisk, etc.  Set aside.  In your mixing bowl, beat the butter and sour cream.  Beat in the eggs, liquid sweetener and vanilla.  Add half the dry almond flour mixture, beat well.  Add the almond milk, beat.  Add the last of the almond flour mixture.  Bake in your preferred pan;  a greased and parchment lined 9X13, a greased bundt pan, 2 greased and parchment lined round 8 or 9 inch pans or make into cupcakes.   Bake at 325 degrees.   I baked in two- 9 inch round pans about 32 minutes.  Test and bake until the center is done.  Let cool about 10 minutes and remove from pans to cool completely.

White Vanilla Birthday Cake

3 c almond flour
1/3 c coconut flour
1/2 c whey protein powder (I use Isopure - zero carb & zero sugar)
2 t baking soda
1/4 t cream of tartar
3/4 c butter, soft
3/4 c sweetener
10 drops liquid sweetener
1 T vanilla
6 eggs
1 1/2 c almond milk (I use a mixture of 1 c almond milk and 1/2 c half and half or cream)
1 1/2 t apple cider vinegar

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the apple cider vinegar to the almond milk.  Beat the butter with the sweeteners.  Beat in the eggs.  Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk mixture.  Mix well.  Pour into prepared pans of your choice.  I like to grease them and use a piece of parchment paper for easy removal.  Bake as usual - 350 until the centers are set and the cake tests done.  Usually about 25-35 minutes for round pans. Let cool about 10 minutes and remove from pans to cool completely.

Low Carb Sugar Free Red Velvet Cake

1 c butter
1 1/2 c sweetener
2 eggs
2 1/2 c almond flour
1/3 c whey protein powder
1/4 c coconut flour
1 t xanthan gum
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
2 t cocoa
1 t salt
1 bottle - 1 oz. red food color
1 T vinegar
2 t vanilla
1 c almond milk with part cream and 1 1/2 t vinegar (or lemon juice) to sour

Mix the almond milk with the vanilla and 1 1/2 t vinegar in a small cup and let set.  You could buttermilk in place of the vinegar and almond milk.

Cream the butter and sweeteners in a mixing bowl til fluffy.  Add the eggs.  If your eggs are small use 3.  In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk mixture.  Begin and end with the dry.  When mixed well, pour into your pans of choice.  I use 2 round cake pans sprayed and lined with a piece of parchment.  Bake at 350 approximately 25-35 minutes depending on your oven.  When the center is set and the cake is done, remove and cool 10-15 minutes in the pan before removing from pan to cool completely.  Decorate as you wish - the traditional Red Velvet Cake Frosting DOES NOT USE CREAM CHEESE.  It's a flour and milk based frosting you then cool and add the butter, sweetener and vanilla.

Sugar Free Butter Cream Vanilla Frosting

3/4 c granular Xylitol 
1/4 c water
3 large egg whites (separate and use the yolks in another recipe)
2 1/2 sticks real butter
2 T vanilla extract or use half vanilla sf syrup and half extract
*If you taste test it and find your personal tastes would like it sweeter, use 5-10 drops liquid sweetener

In a saucepan, place the water and Xylitol. Heat over medium high until it comes to 240 degrees.  With normal sugar this would be soft ball stage but because Xylitol and Splenda do not thicken, you cannot test this by traditional soft ball stage.

As you are heating the sugar substitute and water, mix the egg whites in a large mixing bowl.  Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  With the mixer running, pour the hot Xylitol mixture down the side of the bowl in a thin stream, mixing into the egg whites.  Beat approximately 7-10 minutes on high until the egg whites resemble a thick and glossy meringue.

Start to add the butter in chunks, about a tablespoon at a time.  Keep the mixer running and whip the mixture about 7- 10 minutes more.  If the mixture breaks up when you first add the butter and it looks like cottage cheese, no worries.  Just keep whipping until it's smooth again.  Once the frosting is smooth, add your vanilla and whip again for a few minutes.  If it's a really warm or humid day it might get too warm to work with.  Just refrigerate it for about 7 minutes, whip again.  The cooler temperatures will cause it to harden up again.

 Drizzle the hot syrup down the side of the mixing bowl into the egg whites

 I had to make 2 batches to fill and cover a 3 layer cake

When you can't decide which kind of cake to make... sometimes you just make all three!

This blog 'ain't about pretty pictures, ya'll'.  It's about the food.
I snapped it really fast on my phone before I dug in to eat it.

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Grilled Pork Chops with Cream Cheese, Jalapenos and Bacon - low carb too!

Who knew that throwing together a last second dinner out of pork chops would become a 'keeper" - as deemed by my husband.

That would be my husband-the-pork-chop-hater!

Pork is not one of our favorite foods but over the years I've found ways to prepare it I know my husband will like.  Usually it's so affordable that I like to keep it on our grocery list.  I've posted about that previously - I buy a huge pork loin at the membership warehouse for cheap and cut it myself.  This way I'm getting 2 pork roasts and about 15 pork chops for about $14-20 depending on the price of pork at the time.

This is how I made them the other night and my husband raved about them.  Totally shocking since he does not care for pork chops usually but not only did he rave about them that evening, but luckily I made 6 that night and we had leftovers.  He had 2 for dinner the next night when he got home from working late and actually came to the office where I was working, to find me and tell me again how much he loved them and he thought they were even better the second night.

Our family loves the mixture of cream cheese, bacon and jalapenos - I have used it to stuff chicken breasts, as a cheese dip appetizer and a filling for won tons.  Now it's also a topping for pork chops.  A 'keeper' recipe as my husband would tell you.

Cheese, bacon & Jalapeno Grilled Pork Chops

Pork Chops (your choice cut and how many you want to make)
salt and pepper
cream cheese
cheddar cheese
diced jalapeno peppers
cooked, crumbled bacon
onion powder
garlic powder

Lay the pork chops in a thin layer of olive oil - both sides - and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let them set while you preheat the grill.  Grill the pork chops as usual - about 7 minutes on one side, another 4-5 on the second until they are just done and cooked but not over done (they'll get very dry if you over cook them).   While they are grilling mix up the cheese mixture in a bowl.

The amounts of the cheeses, bacon and jalapeno are up to you and your tastes.  If you don't like spicy foods or have children eating that are not used to spice, cut back on the jalapenos or just use a small can of diced chili peppers (they are mild).  We used about 6 ounces cream cheese, 1/3 cup cheddar, 1/4 cup diced jalapenos, 1/4 c cooked, crumbled bacon (I just grabbed some of the Hormel real bacon bits I keep in the freezer at all times).  Add about 1/4 t garlic powder and 1/4 t onion powder.  (Hint: Right now this is a great dip for wheat thins, etc. too!  Or a filling for wontons or for stuffed chicken breasts).

Now that the pork chops should be done, I used a small ice cream/cookie dough scoop and scooped some of the cheese mixture on each pork chop.  I closed the lid, turned off the grill and left them to warm so the cheese mixtre started to melt a bit.  Remove from the grill onto your serving platter.  Make your 'scoops' of cheese mix as big or little as you wish.  If you have leftover filling, use it in one of the ways I described above.

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Sugar Free Birthday Cake Cheesecake - Regular Birthday Cake Cheesecake (This is the best cheesecake - we love it!)

I make it sugar free...   but of course no one else has to make it sugar free if they don't want to.   Use regular sugar, a regular cake mix and put a regular graham cracker or sugar cookie crust on this baby and you've got it made.

Amounts don't matter as long as you are close.  You don't have to be precise. I made this the first time to use up some ingredients in the refrigerator.  I'm putting down the approximate amounts but if you use a little more, a little less; it won't matter.  Taste test if you want.

Sugar Free Birthday Cake Cheesecake

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, soft
2/3 c sweetener of choice (Truvia or Ideal, etc. Measure according to your package; some are 1/2 c =1 c sugar)
1/4 t Lorann Princess Cake flavoring
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c heavy cream
2/3 c dry cake mix from the package (approximate)
1/2 c half and half or milk
 sprinkles (these have sugar in them but you don't have to use many if you don't want to or you could make sugar free)
Crust if you wish to use one or make one (graham cracker for regular or for low carb, sugar free you can try something like a Carb Counters Graham Cracker Style Pie Crust Mix.

If you are making a graham crust, whirl your graham crackers or about 12-15 cookies of your choice in a food processor to get about a cup of crumbs and add about 2 T melted butter.  Press into a pan of choice about 8" or 9". You can add 2 T butter to yours, and bake at 350 about 10 minutes and let cool before adding the cheesecake filling if you wish a crunchier crust.

In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with the sweetener and the princess flavoring and vanilla until smooth.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add a bit of the whipping cream and start the mixer on low (trying to cut down on splatters).  Keep pouring in the rest of the cream and half and half.  I used about 1/3-1/2 c half and half to thin it out just a little bit.  Use your half and half or milk for this purpose if it's super thick, to get it to a nice thick batter more like stiff peak whipped cream.  Then increase the speed to a medium/high like you usually use to whip.  Within about 1 minute it should be whipped to stiff peaks.  Add the cake mix and mix on low just until blended. One cake mix can make about 3 or 4 of these cheesecakes. Save the rest of the dry mix for another time.  

Mix in some sprinkles if you wish at this point to make it rainbow sprinkled all the way through or you can leave it white and put the sprinkles only on top.  The last time I made this I swirled some blue food color through it!

Scoop into the springform pan over your crust if using.  Smooth the top.  Top with sprinkles of your choice - as heavy or light as you like.  Now chill for at least 6 hours or freeze for about 2 hours and then move to the refrigerator until serving time.  If you can make this 1 day a ahead that is best!  It will set up beautifully and the taste really has a chance to mix through the entire cheesecake. 

Whipped cream and cream cheese before adding the cake mix.

Scoopable... not a real thick batter but not thin or pourable either.  "Scoopable" and "spreadable" is about right.

Here comes the pretties!

Scoop into the springform pan (I didn't spray mine and it came out perfectly after freezing/chilling).

Ready to add the rest of the pretties on top and then chill.

I wanted it to be set up in time for dinner in a few hours so I put it in the freezer for about 2 hours.  It went into the refrigerator after that.  Set up beautifully.  This is actually the snapchat I sent my family - that's why you see text on the photo.

Because... yes it was that good.

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