8/24/17

Pork and Broccoli Stir-Fry: A Low Carb way to enjoy a version of Filipino "Lumpia" or Filipino Egg Rolls (without the egg roll)

Although I've been making pork roasts in a variety of ways, this time I decided to break out the meat grinder and package up a couple food-vacuum-sealed packs of ground pork.  Earlier this week I planned to make egg rolls out of one pound of the ground pork but we didn't have won ton wrappers on hand.  After 2 days in the refrigerator I realized I was not getting around to going to the store to get the won ton wrappers so instead, I decided to make a stir-fry out of it.

 

My original plan of making Filipino style egg rolls was still what I was craving, so I adapted the idea to be a stir-fry, forgoing the won ton wrappers (carbs) and the sugar; instead opting for a natural sweetener.  (I used either Ideal or Truvia - I don't recall which I grabbed as they are both next to each other on the shelf and used equally around here).

It was absolutely delicious and every smidgen of it was finished off that night, with no leftovers to enjoy the next day.  If you are making this just because it tastes so delicious and aren't concerned about carbs or sugar, make this filling as is but add either some cabbage, bean sprouts, fresh or frozen green peas and/or carrots.  You don't have to cook it if you are making egg rolls.  Just mix everything together in a bowl and use about 2 T of the filling to each won ton wrapper, fold the ends, roll up and seal with water.  Fry in hot oil about 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crisp.  Drain on paper towels and serve.

If you want the stir-fry version but again, aren't concerned about the sugar grams, use stir-fry vegetable mixes, peas, carrots or any vegetables you wish. 

Pork and Broccoli Stir Fry


1 lb. of ground pork
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c soy sauce
1 T of rice wine vinegar
Scant 1 t natural sweetener of choice
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 t salt and 1 1/2 t pepper)
10-12 oz. Broccoli

In a pan on the stove brown the ground pork in 1-2 T hot oil.  As soon as it starts to brown, add the onion.  Steam or partially cook the broccoli in the microwave to start to soften.  When the onion starts to look translucent and the meat is mostly browned, add the garlic, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and Ideal, Truvia, or sugar. Just enough to cut the vinegar and soy sauce, not so much as to make the dish sweet.  Add the salt and pepper. Add the broccoli.  Turn down to simmer and let it simmer about 7-12 minutes until the broccoli is as firm or soft as you prefer.  Serve as is or you could serve over riced cauliflower for low carb, or over white or brown rice for those not-eating low carb.




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8/18/17

Two Sugar Free, Grain Free, Low Carb, Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies


I just finished making a batch of yummy chocolate chip cookies and as I munched on one, I decided to 'not waste time' and hurry and get it up on the site before it's lost in the files of computer that never see the light of day.

For my cookie with a crunch, the following recipes has been my go-to for years - but because the world of natural sweeteners has changed so much in the past couple years, there are products they no longer make, I've had to substitute, find replacements for or just leave out.   This recipe originally used the awesome Ideal brand brown sweetener product.  When they stopped making it I was able to switch to the Just Like Sugar brand, which was a little different but still worked excellent.  

Note as of 2022:  the brands I originally used for brown sweetener are no longer made (again) as the sugarfree sweetener versions are always changing.  Currently Swerve is still made and is a good option.

I love this recipe but I have another one that is very similar that uses no 'brown' sweeteners, only white.  This eliminates the issue completely.  The second recipe also does not have almond flour in it, so it bakes up with a bit more crunch.

The second version uses a larger amount of coconut flour than I typically use, because it doesn't have almond flour in it.  This means it does have a 'coconut' flavor to it, as does everything made with coconut flour.  But it's still delicious.  The only 'warning' I'm going to put up with this is your brand of coconut flour will determine the exact taste as well as texture of your cookie.  (More on that down below in the 2nd cookie recipe.)

FIRST ONE (Posted a couple times previously)



Having made sugar free, low carb, no grain cookies of all kinds for the past 12 years, there are some I like better than others, but I've found the brand and style sweetener I use makes all the difference.  Making the same recipe with a different brand sweetener (or even a different brand almond flour) changes the taste and texture - even if it's the same 'product' - just a different company.


Sugar Free, Grain Free, Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c butter
1/4 c coconut oil
3/4 c brown sugar sweetener - minus (remove) about 2 T so it's a 'scant' 3/4 cup
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 (I use Hershey's brand)

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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SECOND ONE:  This one has more of a coconut flour taste but it's not overwhelming. Just good!



I mentioned this recipe has a little more coconut flavor than the first one - because it uses all coconut flour and no almond flour. The reason I avoided baking and cooking with much coconut flour for the first ten or eleven years we were doing low carb is because I found out in hind-site there is a big difference in the flavor and texture of your baked goods depending on the brand used.  I don't care for foods with a strong coconut flavor; some brands are strong, some are not and because the brands available are always changing you will have to use the brands you like best during whatever year you are reading this recipe.

Low Carb, Sugar Free, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c real butter
1/3 c natural sweetener of choice (I like to mix at least 2 or 3)
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2/3 c coconut flour
1/2 t baking powder
dash salt
sugar free chocolate chips (I use Hershey's brand - it's easy to find at my local Walmart)

Cream the butter and sweeteners together til fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.  Add the coconut flour, baking powder and dash of salt. Blend briefly.  It will look a little wet and sticky at this point and you will want to add more coconut flour. Do NOT.  Just walk away, and let it SIT for about 5 minutes.  This is because your coconut flour will soak up the moisture and it will thicken to a real 'dough'.  After a couple minutes, mix again and you'll see it come to a 'cookie dough' you are used to.  Stir in the amount of chocolate chips you wish.  About 1/4 cup is about right.  I don't like chocolate but I add them for my husband so I pour in a few and try to keep them in 'his' cookies and scoop out mine with none or few!

Form into 1 inch balls, flatten slightly and place on parchment paper.  I get about 24 one inch cookies.  Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden.  I sometimes bake mine in a solar oven outside (which is what I did today) and in that case it doesn't matter how long you bake them for as long as they 'done'.  Anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes.  Just pull them out when they are 'done'.  If you leave the glass sealed you will get a moister, puffier cookie.  If you crack the glass lid open just a touch to let the steam and moisture escape you will get a bit more of a crisp cookie that doesn't puff - similar to the oven baked results.



When you let your dough 'sit' after adding the coconut flour, it thickens up and forms a dough

1 inch cookies, flattened slightly and ready to bake

They look like they are almost done!  (This is through the glass top in my solar oven)

Mmmm cookies!  NO sugar, NO flour, NO gluten

And here are two photos of them baking in my solar oven.  I've had this one for about 4 (?) or more years now.  LOVE IT.  And when it's in the 90's outside, who wants to heat up their kitchen oven?  Solar power is FREE and works fabulous.


Baking cookies in my solar oven













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8/14/17

Egg Salad Deluxe (A low carb option to macaroni salad)






My husband typically loves hard boiled eggs.  If we don't have them on hand in the refrigerator for him to grab a couple as part of his lunch or at night to snack on, he'll often be found boiling eggs at 11:00 at night when I'm in bed so he has them the next day.  He also loves when I make them into deviled eggs, topped with a thin slice of green olive.

The crazy thing is, sometimes I make sure we have them on hand and he suddenly he is affected by male refrigerator blindness and after a few days of noticing he hasn't taken any in his lunch and hasn't eaten any of them, I'll ask him about it only to be told something akin to, "Oh, I didn't see them."  "Oh, I didn't think about it."  Sometimes if something doesn't jump out and bite him on the nose, he doesn't notice it.

About 1 1/2 weeks ago I made sure to hard boil a dozen eggs for him.  A fews days went by and nope, didn't grab any of the hard boiled eggs.  I asked him about it and pointed out to him they were there.  He hadn't seen them.  But even after telling him they were there, they didn't disappear.  I asked.  Answer?  He didn't think about them or remember them in the morning before he was leaving for work.

I gave up.  I'm not having a dozen hard boiled eggs go bad just because he keeps forgetting they are there so today I peeled the dozen eggs, sliced them with the egg slicer into a bowl and proceeded to 'throw together' an egg salad that was actually a mixture of our favorite ingredients for 'macaroni salad' but used eggs instead of pasta.  The result was basically an egg salad but with the additions, it makes it more of a 'deluxe' version.    And it was delicious!  A great egg salad that is not only delicious but fills a craving for good old American Macaroni Salad when you don't want eat the carb heavy pasta version.

I threw mine together as I don't ever 'measure' dishes like this, but I can give a guesstimate to amounts.  Also: use what YOU like to substitute what you don't like.  Case in point: we love green olives in our macaroni salads and egg salads where a lot of people like pickle relish or diced dill pickles.  Some don't want pickles OR olives.  Cool.  Leave it out.  Onions? Celery? You choose. We like frozen green peas in our macaroni salad so they went into this deluxe egg salad as well as the bits of cheddar we love.  Play with your food... it's yours.  Make it your own.

Egg Salad Deluxe

12 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced or chopped
2 t rice wine vinegar (or white vinegar)
3 t yellow mustard
salt and pepper
1 T diced green onions or sweet yellow onions (or white or red)
1/2 c frozen petite green peas
1/4 c sliced or diced green olives or pickles, pickle relish, etc.
smidgen of natural sweetener or sugar to cut the vinegar if you wish (1/8 t)
1/2 c diced or shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all gently just until blended and chill.





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8/9/17

Don't use Salt Dough - Try This Instead! The Best Homemade Christmas Ornament Dough - Pure White and No Salt! Similar to "Magic Modeling Dough"



Christmas in August!?  Yes... Christmas ornaments that is!

This morning I had the urge to make Christmas ornaments.  The kind you make with a simple dough, roll and cut out and then bake dry and paint.  I have no idea where this urge came from other than it's been a pretty stressful and busy past two months and I haven't done anything 'fun' since... I don't remember when.  I have done another dough ornament post on An American Housewife, back in 2007 I think (?).  It featured some ornaments I had made 10 years earlier with the traditional salt dough for the ornaments.  I still have those ornaments and they are now 20 years old.  This particular dough today is a softer, non-grainy, pure white dough.  But both (either/or) doughs work well for ornaments.  You can find the other recipe by typing ornament in the search box to your right.



This post is going to be two parts;  the dough is one part and the finished results will be a future post (closer to Christmas).  I decided putting the dough and the decorating in one post is just too long and honestly you can use this dough for things other than Christmas Ornaments.  The first thing that comes to mind is doing little baby and toddler handprints (where you press their little hands into the dough and let it dry) as that is the very first project I ever did with the store bought Crayola Model Magic and that is what this particular dough reminds me of.

It's a cross between Crayola Model Magic and Playdough.  It's soft, pure white, not at all grainy, there is no salt in it and it doesn't dry out my hands like traditional salt dough does.  You can let the pieces air dry or you can bake them to dry faster.  You can leave them white, paint them, decorate them, hang them, make a sculptures of it, roll into balls and make beads, or string for Christmas decorations like you would popcorn; basically it's a fun dough to use, period.

I'm making two different styles Christmas Ornaments out of the dough today so I'm using two shapes.  I'll post an update to the finished products in a month or two (closer to the Christmas holiday) but today it's all about a fun dough.

Fun Dough

1/2 c corn starch (I use Argo brand)
1 c baking soda (in the yellow bag/box)
3/4 c water

Blend the cornstarch and baking soda in a pan.  Add the water and stir to mix.  Turn the heat up to medium high and continue to stir.  It will quickly go from looking like white glue to a thick gloop and then suddenly start to come together into a dough (much like cream puff dough).  Turn off the heat as soon as it comes together and push it out onto a flat surface (like a cutting board) to gently start to press it together (*it's hot) to a dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it set and cool a little bit.  The plastic wrap keeps the moisture in so it doesn't start to dry out.  After about 5-10 minutes when it's cooled down to work with it a little bit, start to push and pull and knead it back over itself.  When it's completely smooth and feels like a soft play dough, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and let it cool completely for little hands to play with or you can start to use it right away.

Roll it out on a cutting board, silpat, etc. and cut into the shapes you wish.  Use a straw or small round implement to make a hole if you are going to hang them later.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 170 degree oven approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on how thick and large you made your shapes.  Or you can let them set to air dry - although you will need to let them dry about 2 days and even longer if they are thick balls, sculptures or if you live where there is high humidity levels.  (My oven is a digital and the lowest setting it can go to is 170.  That is how I came up with that figure.)  Carefully turn your ornaments over (flip them) about half way through the baking time as the parchment paper under them traps moisture.  This dries both sides.  I placed mine on a wire cookie cooling rack for the last 10 minutes of baking but you don't have to do that.  I did a second batch and air dried completely on a wire cookie cooling rack.

When completely dry, paint them if you wish or glue baubles on it, glitter, etc. String a ribbon or string them to hang or finish however you wish!  If you drop it on the floor they will probably break, but just painting them, etc. is no problem as they are not fragile as long as you are not pressing hard, dropping, etc.




The cornstarch and baking soda in the pan

Adding the water and starting to stir, it resembles white glue

The heat starts to turn it to gloop

It quickly comes to a dough - place it on a heat safe surface and quickly press the hot dough to a ball shape

Cover with plastic wrap and let it cool until you can handle it

Use whatever cookie cutter shapes you wish - have a small utensil to make holes for hanging

Knead it a few times to get it smooth

Roll out as thick or thin as you wish - just like cookie dough

Cut whatever shapes you wish







Don't forget to add holes before baking if you wish to hang them later!

Ready to go into the oven

All finished baking!  Just let them cool completely and decorate as you wish











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Wilton Snowflake 7-Piece Cookie Cutter Set
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Crayola; Acrylic Paint; Art Tools; 6 2-Ounce Bottles; Assorted Bright, Bold Colors
Wilton Holiday 18 pc Metal Cookie Cutter Set, 2308-1132
Wilton Holiday Grippy Cookie Cutters, Set of 4


    

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8/1/17

Sugar Free & Low Carb (Flour Free) Cinnamon Coffee Cake with a Streusel Topping


I rarely crave sweets or baked goods, but once a year or so I crave an old fashioned cinnamon 'coffee cake'.  In the past I've posted a couple recipes for regular versions that have sugar and flour in them; if you are interested you can find them here - Coffee Cake with Streusel Layer and Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake.  Those are both SO good and even easier to make because they started with a yellow cake mix. If you want or need a healthier version without white, refined flour and sugar, preservatives, etc. then this is a great choice.  This version is VERY similar to the recipes I posted back in 2010 and 2011 that use regular flour and sugar but I don't feel a bit guilty eating this one!  (We have no wheat allergies nor are gluten free in our family - we eat this way by choice but can eat sugar and flour as well if we were to choose to.)

If you wanted to, you could actually make one of the two previous versions with a store bought sugar free cake mix if you can't have sugar but you can have flour and don't mind the carbs nor the store bought mix.  My Publix and Walmart Grocery both carry the Pillsbury Sugar Free Yellow Cake Mix - 16 oz so they are easy to find.  However, I know that for me personally I can't eat more than one small piece a day due to the sugar alcohols it has in it or I will pay dearly with bathroom issues.  (My husband can eat 3 pieces of that cake and have no issues at all. Everyone is different!).

THIS cake however is from scratch.  And it's good.  And moist. And is really close to the original full sugar version.  I love it and when I'm craving that 'Grandma's Cinnamon Coffee Cake" this fits the bill.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

3 c good quality, blanched, fine grained almond flour (Honeyville or Bob's Red Mill are good)
1/3 c whey protein powder - vanilla or unflavored (I only use IsoPure, can't speak to the quality of any other brand)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/3 sticks real butter
3/4 c mixture of granulated natural sweeteners of your choice (I like Ideal and Truvia or Just Like Sugar)
1/2 t liquid sweetener drops like Sucrarose, etc.
3 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 c unsweetened coconut milk

Topping/filling: 
3 T Ideal or other granular sweetener
2 T Brown 'sugar' type sweetener (which I end up using Splenda Brown because it's sol literally almost everywhere and is easy to find.  It does have a tiny amount of real sugar in it, but Ideal stopped making brown and I used to love theirs. Just Like Sugar does a brown option but they are expensive and I don't have them on hand right now.)
2 t cinnamon
2 T real butter
1/4 c pecans, crushed or chopped

Grease or line a 9" pan with parchment.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Put the dry ingredients into a large bowl; almond flour, whey protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt.

Mix together the topping/filling mixture of the brown sweetener, white sweeteners and cinnamon in a small bowl and blend until all mixed together well. Don't add the butter or pecans to it yet. Set aside.

Mix butter and sweeteners until fluffy, add eggs one at at time and beat briefly between each.  Beat in vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients alternating with the coconut milk.  Put half the cake batter into the pan.  Cover with about 2/3 of your 'brown' sweetener mixture.  Top with the rest of the batter. 

Now add the 2 T butter and 1/4 pecans to the remaining cinnamon mixture and smash it with your fingers or a rubber scraper to blend and make a paste of sorts.  Top the batter with this streusel mixture and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes.  At this point your cake might be done, but I find almond flour baked goods need a little longer and the cake may start to be too brown on top.  If your cake is still a bit too wet in the center or jiggles, yet the top is getting browned, cover with foil and bake about 5 minutes more; turn off the oven and let it for about 5-10 minutes more, checking to see if the center of your cake is set and done.  My oven bakes this cake in a good quality (Rachael Ray) 9" pan for 35 minutes at 350, cover with foil, turn off the oven and leave for another 10-12 minutes and it's perfectly done. 

Remove from oven and let cool completely.  I line mine with parchment paper and after about 7 minutes cooling in the pan, I remove it and let it cool completely on a rack out of the pan but this isn't necessary if that seems like a hassle. :)






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Brown Sweetener: 16 oz by Just Like Sugar
Bob's Red Mill Super Fine Almond Flour, 16 Ounce Packages (Pack of 4)
Rachael Ray 46681 9" with Agave Blue Handles Cucina Nonstick Bakeware Square Cake Pan, Medium, Latte Brown
Isopure Whey Protein Isolate, Unflavored, 3 Pounds (Packaging May Vary)
Ideal No Calorie Sweetener 10.6 Ounce Baking Bag


       










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