June 25, 2017

Homemade Low Carb Bagels!

Typically I try to keep low carb bagels on hand in the freezer which I order from Netrition but you can also get on Amazon (although shipping is high on Amazon - Great Low Carb Everything Bagels).  They are not only a little expensive, but I don't like to ship them to my home during the summer because I live in a part of the country where it is extremely hot and humid.  I don't want to pay extra to have them shipped in dry ice or overnight shipping so I tend to use other options.

This is one of those.

This makes an incredible little 'bagel' but also works as a great base for pizza or as a bread for sandwiches.  Tonight for dinner I topped with bacon and avocado.  Yum!

Low Carb Bagels

1 1/2 c (heaped a little) almond flour - fine grain, blanched
1 t xanthan gum
1 T baking powder
2 1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
Egg whites or water for brushing the tops
toppings - dried onion, poppy seed etc.

In a large mixing bowl place the almond flour, xanthan gum and baking powder.  Mix by hand or mixer just to blend.  Beat the 2 eggs briefly and add them to the bowl.  Do not mix.

In a microwave safe bowl place the mozzarella cheese and cream cheese.  Microwave until the cheese is melted, stirring once.  This can take 2-3 minutes depending on your microwave.  Pour the cheese into the bowl of almond flour mixture and eggs.  Using a bread dough hook, mix and knead until it forms a dough, scraping down the sides often to help blend.  Divide the dough into 8 pieces.

Roll each piece into a short rope and form a circle like a bagel shape.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush the dough with the egg white or water.  Sprinkle on a favorite topping if you are using.  I used poppy seeds and crumbled dehydrated onion.  Bake at 400 for approximately 18 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool completely (and prevent the bottoms from becoming soggy if left on parchment.)

Related products are available through Amazon if you can't find them locally:
Great Low Carb Everything Bagels
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Xanthan Gum, 8-ounce
Bob's Red Mill Super Fine Almond Flour, 16 Ounce Packages (Pack of 4)

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon -  An American Housewife at Amazon

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June 22, 2017

Homemade Orange Breakfast Rolls

Originally posted in 2015

The picture above is rolls in the pan before rising or baking.

It's no secret I'm not a big fan of cinnamon rolls - but I do make really, really yummy ones!  I'm not a fan of breakfast in general, but these rolls are so tempting even I will eat one!  Picture a Dreamcicle or a Orange Julius drink in a breakfast roll.

Orange Breakfast Rolls

Dough: You can use a loaf of store bought dough, thaw and roll out to a rectangle approximately 10X15 or make a simple dough like this one;

1 pk. dry yeast (about 2 1/4 t)
3/4 c warm water
1/3 c sugar
1 t salt
1/3 c oil
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 c evaporated milk
4 - 4 1/2 c flour
Real butter, soft
Orange juice concentrate
White sugar
Dried orange peel

Dissolve yeast in the water in a bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and knead either by hand or with the dough hook of your electric mixer.  Use more or less flour so the dough is the right consistency and not too sticky or wet.  Knead about 5 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, cover and let raise until doubled.  Punch down.  Roll out on parchment paper or a floured surface to form a large rectangle.  Aim for about 16-18 inches across and 12-15 wide.

Spread with real butter.
Drizzle with orange juice concentrate.
Spread liberally with white granulated sugar.
Sprinkle with dried orange peel.

Roll up the long way.  Slice into 1 inch slices and place in a heavily greased baking pan or muffin tin.  I used a 'lasagna' pan which is slightly larger than the traditional 13X9" so I made 16 of them (4 across, 4 down).  You could make it into 12 - 16 depending on your pan and how thick you want them.  Place them into the pan.  Cover and let raise in a warm place until double in size (about 3 hours).  Bake at 350 degrees about 15-20 minutes until center rolls are done.  If you want to make them ahead and freeze; let rise about 1 hour and then cover and place in the deep freeze.  When you want to use them, remove from the freezer, let thaw and then let them raise about 1-2 hours past thawing until they double in size.  Bake as directed.

Let them cool a bit and then cover with a simple powdered sugar glaze.
One idea is this;

1 stick butter
4 c powdered sugar
1-2 t dried orange zest
2 T orange juice concentrate

Mix and spread on warm but cooled rolls.

Put into a greased bowl, cover and let rise

After rising and punching down, roll out to a large rectangle and spread with real butter
Sprinkled with dried orange peel

Drizzle with as much or little orange juice concentrate as you wish
Rolled up lengthwise and ready to slice into approximately 16 one inch slices to let raise and bake

You might be interested in some of these products to make the recipe above;
Wilton Recipe Right 13 x 9 Inch Oblong Pan
Frontier Herb Organic Orange Peel Granules 1.92 oz.
McCormick Gourmet Collection, Orange Peel, 1.5-Ounce Unit
Wilton Parchment Paper

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June 21, 2017

All About Shelf Stable Foods and Food Safety: Including Emergency Food Storage

A topic I touch on every now-and-then but don't harp on is emergency preparedness.  No matter where you live there are going to be some sort of natural disasters that affect your everyday lifestyle in some way. 

Roads flood, wind damages, hail breaks, tornadoes destroy, hurricanes decimate...  whether it's fire, flood, storms, wind, or even economic downturns, a loss of a job or health issues I absolutely believe in being at least a little prepared.  I know people have come to rely on the government to take care of them after a large natural disaster - but honestly you might not realize it's not their job and they don't have to.  Even so, even the government recommends you have at least 3 days of food, water and medications for everyone in your family - and don't forget your pets.

Having said that - I'll let you know why I'm post a little post about 'Shelf Stable Foods' today...  storms.  Lots of storms! We've had a very stormy spring this year and not just 'storms' as many people know them, but severe storms.  100 mph winds, hail, trees down, power lines down, flooding.  We get them quite often where I live so we are 'used to' them in that way; but friends and family in other parts of the country are also being hit hard this year and even those who live in areas that almost never see strong storms are getting them. 

 We actually have a 5 foot hole in our roof at this very minute 
from a storm that passed through last week. 
A tree fell on the house.

We actually have a 5 foot hole in our roof at this very minute from a storm that passed through last week. A tree fell on the house.  6 punctures of all sizes, 3 emergency tarps in place and an insurance adjuster coming tomorrow.  In April we had a strong storm that effected over 80,000 homes with wind and hail damage in this area.  The roofing companies are still so backed up that new calls are expecting work to start in September.  While we didn't have damage to our own home during that particular storm, we did lose power for 12+ hours and my husband couldn't get home due to all the trees and power lines down.  Every road - even back roads - were blocked by the police.  I was home with two itty-bitties (ages 2 years and 11 months) but you know what?

No problem here.  I can live and cook and have lighting without power for as long as we need.  I have various ways of cooking without power (a solar oven, butane and propane camp stove, a propane grill, a fire pit and lots of wood on hand...).  We have canned, shelf stable foods in our pantry (including milk for the littles) as well as variations of dehydrated foods, freeze dried foods and more.  The only thing I don't have it a silent generator to run our refrigerator or freezer - but I know to keep them stocked, have extra containers of water frozen (like an empty milk jug) to keep it cold and not to open the refrigerator or freezers while the power is out.  We sailed through a 12 hour power outage without any issues or concerns at all and the 2 year old didn't even notice anything different about our evening of dinner, reading a book (by lantern light) and even got to play a toddler game on his tablet.  Bedtime was smooth and when the power came back on around 6:30 am, he had no idea it had even been off.

This is a topic I'm so interested in that I get a little 'wordy' so I'm going to stop chatting and start posting the point of this post - SHELF STABLE FOODS AND THEIR SAFETY.   This information is readily available through the federal government food safety sites but I'm putting a bit of it here for an easy to understand and quick overview. 

In the event of a loss of job, natural or man-made disasters, etc. please at least have 3 days worth of food, water and medications ready for your loved ones.

Shelf-Stable Food Safety

What does "shelf stable" mean?
Foods that can be safely stored at room temperature, or "on the shelf," are called "shelf stable." These non-perishable products include jerky, country hams, canned and bottled foods, rice, pasta, flour, sugar, spices, oils, and foods processed in aseptic or retort packages and other products that do not require refrigeration until after opening. Not all canned goods are shelf stable. Some canned food, such as some canned ham and seafood, are not safe at room temperature. These will be labeled "Keep Refrigerated."

How are foods made shelf stable?
In order to be shelf stable, perishable food must be treated by heat and/or dried to destroy foodborne microorganisms that can cause illness or spoil food. Food can be packaged in sterile, airtight containers. All foods eventually spoil if not preserved.

Will commercially canned foods last forever?
Commercial canning is done under tightly controlled conditions — careful sanitation and the necessary time and temperature under pressure, but there are still limits to how long it will preserve food. There are several factors that limit the shelf life of canned foods. First, cans can rust over time. Shipping accidents, where cans fall and dent or are crushed, also cause container problems.
Then there's can corrosion. In all foods, but especially in high-acid foods like canned tomatoes, natural chemicals in the food continually react with the container. Over several years, this can cause taste and texture changes, and eventually lower the nutritional value of the food.
High temperatures (over 100 °F) are harmful to canned goods too. The risk of spoilage jumps sharply as storage temperatures rise. In fact, canned goods designed for use in the tropics are specially manufactured.
Store canned foods and other shelf stable products in a cool, dry place. Never put them above or beside the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low temperature extremes. Temperatures below 85 °F are best. Check your pantry every few weeks and use canned goods you have had on hand for awhile. Don't purchase bulging, rusted, leaking, or deeply dented cans.

Is the dating of shelf-stable foods required by federal law?
Except for infant formula and some baby food, product dating — having a "use-by," "sell-by," or "best-if-used-by" date — is not required by Federal regulations. Dating is for quality, not safety. However, if a calendar date is used, it must express both the month and day of the month (and the year, in the case of shelf-stable and frozen products). If a calendar date is shown, immediately adjacent to the date must be a phrase explaining the meaning of that date, such as "sell by" or "use before." While there is no uniform or universally accepted system used for food dating in the United States, dating of some foods is required by more than 20 states. A shelf-stable product can be safely used after the "sell-by" date. Products displaying a "use-by" date, although still safe, may not be of acceptable quality after the "use-by" date.

Is it safe to use cans that freeze accidentally?
Cans of food that freeze accidentally, such as those left in a car or basement in sub-zero temperatures, can present health problems. Frozen cans could swell because the food inside expanded when frozen. However, cans can be swollen because of contamination with Clostridium botulinum or spoilage-causing organisms. Do not use any swollen cans; discard them.
Also, discard frozen cans that are not swollen but have been allowed to thaw at 40 °F or higher. Cans that have thawed and refrozen are not safe.
A frozen can that has not thawed can be safely defrosted in the refrigerator and used. If the canned food is still frozen, let the intact can thaw in the refrigerator before opening. If the product doesn't look and/or smell normal, throw it out. Do not taste it!
If the product does look and/or smell normal, thoroughly cook the contents right away by boiling for 10 to 20 minutes. At altitudes below 1,000 feet, boil foods for 10 minutes. Add an additional minute of boiling time for each additional 1,000 feet elevation (for example, at 3,000 feet, boil for 12 minutes). Spinach and corn should be boiled for 20 minutes at all altitudes. This is due to the high density of these vegetables. Products can then be refrigerated or frozen for later use.

What are dried foods?
Drying is the world's oldest and most common method of food preservation. Drying technology is both simple and readily available to most of the world's culture. Examples of dried foods are jerky, powdered milk, dried beans and peas, potatoes in a box, dried fruits and vegetables, pasta, and rice. Canning technology is just over 200 years old, and freezing became practical only during this century as electricity became increasingly available.

Does freeze-drying make food shelf stable?
Yes, freeze-dried foods are shelf stable. Freeze-drying is a commercial process that can be used to preserve such food as dried soup mixes, instant coffee, fruits, and vegetables. To freeze dry, frozen food is placed in a special vacuum cabinet. There, ice changes from a solid state directly to a vapor state without first becoming a liquid. This process, whereby water escapes from the food, is called "sublimation." To use freeze-dried foods, they must be rehydrated with water. They retain their original flavor, texture, and nutrients, but must be packaged in moisture-proof, hermetically sealed containers.

What is an MRE?
MRE stands for "Meal, Ready-to-Eat." MRE's were originally designed for the U.S. government and have been used since the 1970's in the U.S. space program, U.S. military, and USDA's Forest Service. The MRE package is officially known as a tri-laminate retort pouch. It contains normal food that is ready to heat and consume, such as chili or beef stew.

Is an MRE shelf stable?
Yes. MRE's are shelf stable because they have been commercially sterilized by heat in a sealed container to destroy bacteria that can make it unsafe or spoil the food. Like food in metal cans, MRE's can be kept for a long time, but not indefinitely. The shelf life is highly related to the storage temperature. For example, if stored at 120 °F (a temperature that could be encountered on desert battlefields), the MRE should be used within a month. Stored at 60 °F, an MRE can last 7 years or more.

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - American Housewife at Amazon

You might also be interested in product related to this post available through Amazon;
Harmony House Foods Dried Vegetable Sampler (15 Count, ZIP Pouches) for Cooking, Camping, Emergency Supply, and More
Mountain House Just In Case...Classic Assortment Bucket
MRE (Meals Ready-to-Eat) Genuine US Military Surplus w/ Menu Selections, 13 Cheese Tortellini
ULTIMATE MRE, Pack Date Printed on Every Meal - Meal-Ready-To-Eat. Inspected by Western Frontier. Genuine Mil Surplus.

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June 18, 2017

Zapple Pie - Incredible Zucchini Apple Pie (.... Made from Zucchini But You'd Never Know It!)

Although I do have a "print friendly" button option at the end of every post, for the most part when I print off my own recipes I choose to highlight and copy it to a word perfect blank page and print it off.   I've had this site up since 2006 and over the years I kept my eye out for a fun recipe widget but the only ones ever available were for websites on WordPress.  Mine is on Blogger.  And I don't really like WordPress (ok, I hate it) so for all the things about Blogger I can't stand, it's easier to live with than WordPress.  So... with all that background babble, there is one recipe widget for Blogger that I've found that lines up the recipe in a nice way for readers to print... but boy is it a pain for me on my end.

I like to just type the recipe quickly on my site and be done with it.  But I know a lot of people like the little recipe widgets.  So this post is actually a test post.  I decided to do one 'test' post using a recipe card widget and see if I love it enough to go through the hassle of using one every single time...  or not.

I have chosen my zucchini apple pie recipe as the test recipe since this was first posted back in 2006 and it's about time it sees another run.

print recipe

Zapple Pie - Faux Apple Pie Made from Zucchini

In 2005 and 2006 I had so many zucchini's in my garden I started to make EVERYTHING out of zucchini.  This is SO good and SO like apple pie that it became a family favorite.  Most people cannot tell the difference between this and a 'real' apple pie.

  • 6 cups (approx) peeled, scooped out, quartered and thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup (heaping) sugar or granulated sweetener of choice*
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 4 T butter, real
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t (scant) nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (plus water to make 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • pie shell, plus a top crust

Preheat Oven: 450.

In a saucepan over medium heat combine the zucchini, sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add 2 T lemon juice. Stir to mix and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Mix the rest of the lemon juice and water with the flour in a cup and stir into the zucchini mixture to thicken. Remove from heat.

Spoon the zucchini filling into the pie shell. Place the top crust on and crimp the edges to seal. Put the pie into the hot oven and close the door. Then reduce the heat to 350. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is browned and the filling is bubbling.

*I like to use a mixture of part brown and part white sugar or natural sweetener substitute.  About 3/4 white and 1/4 brown.


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The Best Homemade Vanilla Pudding (Vanilla Custard Actually) - and SUGAR FREE VANILLA PUDDING - CUSTARD

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

I was pretty sure I had a post on homemade sugar free vanilla custard or pudding but without digging to long or far into my files, I found one post from 2006 - but nothing recent.  Well, it's 2017 now so it's time to update and post again!  Not only because it's been 11 years but because originally back in 2006 I was still often using sugar - and today of course we are sugar free so this post is for those seeking a super delicious, easy, amazing vanilla custard as well as those like us who prefer to make most things without white, refined sugar.  It's totally adaptable on a couple different levels.

Another thing I want to mention really quick (I know!  I'm getting to the recipe in a second!)  This is actually a vanilla custard but in America, over the years the line between custard and pudding has been lost on most people that are younger than say, 50 or 60 years old.  For the record, a custard is thickened with eggs while a pudding is thickened with flour or cornstarch.  This custard/pudding that I make uses both.  And if you are choosing to use almond milk, coconut milk or (my favorite) a blend of both; then using both thickeners makes for a perfectly thick and creamy pudding/custard verses the thinner style you normally get with almond or coconut milk.

I also sometimes use flour to thicken (about a heaping 1/3 cup) but use cornstarch other times.  Cornstarch does have less carbs.  I also have resistant cornstarch in my pantry for when I'm being really careful carb-counting.  I used regular cornstarch this time.  You can also use xanthan gum - but I didn't do that on this one so I'm not sure of the correct substitution amount for this recipe.  I'm guessing about 1 1/2 teaspoons might do it.

Homemade Vanilla Custard  (Vanilla Pudding)

1/2 c Truvia natural sweetener or a semi-heaping 3/4 cups sugar
3 T cornstarch, heaping
Dash of salt
3 1/2 c milk of choice 
4 egg yolks, beaten and in a small bowl
15 drops liquid natural sweetener (optional but I like the flavor of mixing 2-3 natural sweeteners)
1 T vanilla
1 T butter

In a saucepan on the stove whisk together the dry Truvia sweetener or whatever granulated natural sweetener you are using as well as a dash of salt.  Turn the burner up to medium and start to pour in the milk while whisking.  Bring it to a simmer and then turn down a bit; remove one cup of the liquid.  Drizzle (pour slowly) this liquid into the 4 beaten egg yolks, whisking.  Now drizzle (pour slowly) this mixture back into the pan of milk/pudding on the stove while whisking.  Turn the heat back up to medium and add the liquid sweetener drops at this time if you are choosing to use them.  If you are not using them, you may want to use a little more Truvia, Just Like Sugar or other sweetener to make up for it; it's all up to you and how sweet you like your pudding and custards.

As soon as the mixture starts to slowly boil, turn the heat back down to simmer and let it cook while stirring the whole time, until it becomes thick.  When it's nice and thick (and a texture of 'pudding') you can remove it from the heat and stir or whisk in your vanilla and a pat of butter.  Taste test.  Pour into a large serving dish and place a layer of saran or plastic wrap on the top to avoid a skin forming.  Let it set on the counter for about 20 minutes to cool just a little before placing it into your refrigerator to chill completely cold.  (I also scoop out 1 cup at this time to a bowl... and eat it warm!  LOVE fresh, warm, vanilla custard or pudding).

*NOTE*  You can make this into banana pudding by adding 2 sliced bananas to it before placing the plastic wrap over the bowl.  Be sure they are either on the bottom of the serving dish before pouring the pudding in, or are gently stirred in so they are not touching the air as the air will make them turn brown.

Whisk the dry sweetener or sugar with the corn starch

Add the milk and start to heat while whisking or stirring until it starts to get thick

Mix about 1 cup of the hot liquid into your egg yolks before returning this mixture to your pan

Whisk the egg and milk mixture back in, raise the heat and continue mixing

After it gets nice and thick remove from heat and stir or whisk in the vanilla and a pat of real butter for delicious flavor

Thick, smooth and so delicious!

Mmm.  Homemade Vanilla Custard

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - American Housewife at Amazon

Just Like Sugar Table Top Sweetener -- 16 oz
Truvia Baking Blend Natural Sweetener 24 OZ(Pack Of 2)

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