February 22, 2018

Grinding chuck roast into ground beef patties and packages along with cutting and food sealing a pork loin

Just a peek into my day of restocking our deep freezer with ground beef, hamburger patties, pork roasts and pork chops!  I'm not a fan of ground beef and never have been, but I do eat the ground beef I grind myself.  I buy 2-pack roasts at the membership club and then grind them up individually into packages of ground beef and packages of 'hamburger' patties.  I then food seal them in my Weston Food Sealer and stock them in the freezer.

In January of 2016 I posted about this before and why I do this.  Not only do we love the FLAVOR of the meat we grind ourselves, but I know there are no FILLERS, nothing funky being put into our burger patties, and the ground beef and patties you purchase at the store not only have been touched by numerous hands but could have up to hundreds of different cuts of meat from different cows in the mixture.  When you grind a roast, you are getting one cut of beef from one cow.  Less likelihood of contamination.

If you are interested in what the government has to say about ground beef - this is from the FDA's website; (THIS is why I grind all our own ground beef items) - less chance of contamination and if you watch the government recall site for food items, ground beef is continuously on the list from all different brands and in all different styles.

What kind of bacteria can be in ground beef? Are they dangerous?
Bacteria are everywhere in our environment; virtually any food can harbor bacteria. In foods of animal origin, pathogenic (illness-causing) bacteria, such as Salmonella, Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STECs), Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus, cause illness. These harmful bacteria cannot be seen or smelled.

If the pathogens are present when meat is ground, then more of the meat surface is exposed to the harmful bacteria. Also, grinding allows any bacteria present on the surface to be mixed throughout the meat. Bacteria multiply rapidly in the "Danger Zone" — temperatures between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 and 60 °C). To keep bacterial levels low, store ground beef at 40 °F (4.4 °C) or below and use within 2 days, or freeze. To destroy harmful bacteria, cook ground beef to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C).

Other bacteria cause spoilage. Spoilage bacteria generally are not harmful, but they will cause food to deteriorate or lose quality by developing a bad odor or feeling sticky on the outside.

Why is the E. coli O157:H7 bacterium of special concern in ground beef? 
E. coli O157:H7 is the most well-known Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), though other STEC strains have also been identified. STECs produce large quantities of a potent toxin that forms in the intestine and causes severe damage to the lining of the intestine. This causes a disease called hemorrhagic colitis, and may also cause Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, particularly in young children. STECs can colonize in the intestines of animals, which could contaminate muscle meat at slaughter.

E. coli O157:H7 bacteria survive refrigerator and freezer temperatures. Once they get in food, they can multiply very slowly at temperatures as low as 44 °F (6.7 °C). While the actual infectious dose is unknown, most scientists believe it takes only a small number of this strain of E. coli to cause serious illness and even death, especially in children and older adults. The bacteria are killed by thorough cooking, which for ground beef is an internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C) as measured by a food thermometer.


Print Friendly and PDF

February 19, 2018

The best grain free, wheat free, low carb homemade hamburger bun, dinner roll, etc dough

I posted this recipe once already but it's SO perfect and SO good and SO easy to make oodles of different items out of that gol-darnit, if you are doing wheat-free or low carb, it's worth trying.

We've eaten low carb and sugar free off and on since 2003 and I wish so badly I found this recipe back then. This, with tweaks here and there each time is what I've been using for everything from pizza  to buns/rolls, an English Muffin type bun, bagels, garlic bread, hamburger buns and brat buns...  I use them when I'm craving a hot, filling breakfast sandwich similar to the McDonalds Egg McMuffin.

I just made yet another batch to make our favorite Italian Ciabatta Sandwiches tonight for dinner (photo below).  If you haven't tried any versions of this yet (there are a kazillion of them on the web - all similar) then you need to.

Going to be sliced and filled as our traditional ciabatta sandwiches are; Italian style!

Low Carb Dough
I tweak it a little everytime I make it. Sometimes I don't use xanthan, I add 2 T oat fiber 500 or whey protein powder, I use a little more less mozzarella cheese. It's a very easy to work with recipe.

1 1/4 c almond flour - fine grain, blanched
1/2 t xanthan gum - optional
2 T oat fiber 500 - optional
1 T baking powder
1 3/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. cream cheese
1 egg

You have two choices for mixing; either your electric mixer with a bread dough hook, or in a food processor.  (Actually you could mix/knead it by hand too... I guess there are 3 options)  FIRST OPTION: In a large mixing bowl place the almond flour, xanthan gum and oat fiber if you are using it, and baking powder.  Stir just to blend.  Beat the egg briefly and add them to the bowl.  Do not mix.  SECOND option is to do the same but put it into the bowl of your food processor with the S blade in place.

For BOTH options: In a microwave safe bowl place the mozzarella cheese and cream cheese.  Microwave until the cheese is melted, stirring once.  This can take 2 minutes depending on your microwave.  Pour the cheese into the bowl of almond flour mixture and eggs.  Mixer Option:  Using a bread dough hook, mix and knead until it forms a dough, scraping down the sides often to help blend.  Processor Option:  Pulse off and on for a couple seconds each and then for about 7-8 seconds at a time until the dough comes together. Remove to a piece of parchment paper. Divide the dough into as many pieces as you wish for what you are making.  (Approximately 5 large buns/rolls to give you an idea).

This recipe can make pizza crusts, bagels, hamburger buns, rolls, etc.  Divide your pieces up.  Roll each piece into a ball and place on parchment on a baking sheet.  I press mine down a little to form a 'hamburger bun' shape.  Bake at 400 for approximately 12-18 minutes - but base it on your own oven's baking personality.  Some are hotter than others.  Cook until they are puffed up, golden brown and brown on the bottoms.  Let them sit for a couple minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.  (You don't have to do this, but if you let them cool completely on the parchment they can trap moisture and get too soft and moist and tend to wrinkle.)

Slice them into hamburger buns, etc. and use them in various ways for toasting, garlic bread, etc.

Make them as small or large as you wish

I smash mine just a bit before banking so they are a hamburger bun shape

I hate the lighting in my kitchen; it turns everything yellow. This is a bun fresh from the oven.

Toasted with butter... yum.

When I'm craving a hot, filling breakfast sandwich!  These keep me stuffed til dinner time!

You can usually find ingredients locally (even xanthan gum can be found at Walmart) but oat fiber 500 I buy through Netrition and you can find almost all the ingredients at Amazon as well.

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 







Print Friendly and PDF

February 17, 2018

Homemade Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup

So today I whipped up a pot of oh-so-yummy soup.  I love homemade mushroom soups but my husband likes something a little more substantial.  Adding chicken to it works perfectly.  Now, if we weren't following a low-carb way of eating I'd make a chicken and wild rice soup with mushrooms - oh my word, how I love that - but rice is a huge, carby no-no right now.  Since grains are off the list too, that means no flour to thicken our soup so my version in the photo above isn't as 'creamy' as readers who get to use 1/2 cup flour to thicken theirs.  I used some xanthan gum but not much as I have digestive issues with it in amounts more than about a teaspoon per recipe so I meant to grab a low-carb thickener but I grabbed the resistant wheat starch container instead - which added fiber (cool!) but isn't a thickener so mine isn't that creamy but we are totally fine with that.

This is a recipe that you can add almost any leftover cooked chicken that you have!  Grilled, roasted, seasoned? Ok. As a matter of fact I grabbed out some of my homemade chicken sausages and just used those - cooking and browning it in the pan before I removed it to saute' the mushrooms, celery and onions.  If you don't have leftover cooked chicken, just grab a couple chicken breasts and cook them up.  *IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THIS DURING LENT JUST LEAVE THE CHICKEN OUT COMPLETELY and oh my goodness it's good.  I prefer it chicken-less but like I said above, The Husband likes some protein at dinner to make it more filling.

Chicken and Mushroom Soup

1 large container sliced mushrooms (or you can use 2 of the small square containers)
1/2 c chopped/sliced green onions
2/3 c chopped celery
1 c butter
Broth: I used 1 cup leftover chicken broth from a roasted chicken and 4 cups beef broth from boullion
1 t black pepper
1 t salt
1/2 t thyme
1 1/2 t lemon juice
1/4 t sauce of choice
3 c half and half or cream
1/2 - 2/3 c flour mixed in 1 cup cool water to thicken OR 2 t xanthan gum OR thickener of your choice
2 c cooked chicken of whatever you have
*optional 1 c sour cream which makes it even richer and thicker and adds a tang (I didn't use this time)

If you need to cook your chicken, do that.  Then saute' the mushrooms, green onions and celery in the stick of real butter. When soft, add the seasonings and the broth.  If you are using flour, cornstarch, etc. use it now and whisk til thickened over medium high.  Turn it down to medium, add the cream or half and half slowly while stirring - don't let it boil once the cream is added.  Add the chicken.  If you want to add sour cream you can.  Serve.

I used my chicken sausage - removed from the casings and browned in the pan.

Fresh green onions... I love.

Cooking the mushrooms, celery and onions...

Adding the cream slowly.

Print Friendly and PDF

February 13, 2018

Sour Cream Pound Cake - Southern Cooking!

My previous post was a lower carb and sugar free version of the bundt cake in the photo below. But because I know most people don't eat low carb and sugar free, I wanted to share the 'regular' recipe which does use sugar and flour - and uses less vanilla than my version. Basically in cakes and cookies I always double the vanilla!! :)

This recipe comes from an old cookbook that is SO LOVED in my house that it's binder is cracked and broken and I have a couple places held together with clear, strong packing tape! It's seriously one of my top 5 favorite cookbooks because there is not recipe in the entire book that I've made that didn't turn out perfect or taste amazing.  (Not that I've made ALL of them - but I've made many since I bought it new when it was published in 1999).

It's called: The Recipe Hall of Fame Cookbook: Winning Recipes from Hometown America (Best of the Best Cookbook).   Amazon has it in Kindle form if that's your thing - but honestly I never ever ever use any of the books I have downloaded to Kindle. Ever. I always turn to actual cookbooks or  printed out recipes on paper.  So much easier to read, mark, flip over, etc. than electronic versions.  But if you want Kindle OR an actual cookbook - both are still available through Amazon.

The Recipe Hall of Fame Cookbook: Winning Recipes from Hometown America (Best of the Best Cookbook)

The other version of Sour Cream Pound Cake - Bundt Cake
(from the cookbook sourced above - The Recipe Hall of Fame Cookbook)

3 c all purpose flour
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 c sugar (2 3/4 for cakes to be served with fruit)
6 large eggs, separated
1 c sour cream
1 1/2 t vanilla extra, cognac vanilla or 2/3 t ground mace

Preheat oven to 325.

Combine the flour with the baking soda and salt and sift.  Cream the butter and sugar thoroughly with an electric mixer.  Add the egg yolks and beat hard until you have a fairly smooth mixture.  This will not "ribbon" with just the yolks.

Add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the sour cream.  Bland in the vanilla.  Beat the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak but are not dry and grainy.  Gently fold them into the cake batter.  Spoon the batter into a greased and lightly floured heavy 9 or 10 inch bundt pan or 2 - 8" loaf pans.  Bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched, about 1 hour and 15 or 20 minutes.  A cake tester inserted into the cake should come out clean.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to rest 5 minutes.  Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake, and unmold it onto a rack.  Turn the cake right side up to cool.  Store in tightly closed plastic container or tin box.  Serves 10-15.

(Because I don't want to wash my mixing bowl between ingredients, I usually beat the egg whites with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt first.  When they are stiffly beaten, I transfer them to a clean bowl, set aside and then proceed with creaming the butter and sweeteners in my mixing bowl. I add the vanilla and then eggs- one yolk at a time.)

Print Friendly and PDF

February 11, 2018

Sugar Free and Lower Carb Sour Cream Pound Cake - Bundt Cake

My readers know I don't 'do' food photo shoots.  Ha.  I grab my cellphone and take pictures with it (when I remember), usually (literally) right before I eat it!  This morning I took the cake platter, placed it on my kitchen table and took a quick picture on my cellphone.  The color turned out pretty - the morning light, the purple and white flowers.  Cool. 

Eating flour free and sugar free means a lot of failures in the baking department as almond flour and coconut flour don't behave the same as wheat flours.  Our family can eat wheat - we aren't gluten intolerant - we just choose not to because we tend to live a low carb, sugar free lifestyle.  However, with this particular bundt cake, I do use some wheat flour.  I grind our flour myself using wheat berries I order from a non-GMO, heritage wheat farmer on the West coast.  I've not had good results when I leave all wheat flour completely out, but by adding 1 cup of whole grain wheat flour with 1 1/2 cups good quality almond flour, a scoop of good quality coconut flour and a tablespoon of wheat protein isolate (vital wheat gluten) I get results we are thrilled with.

Using an online site and Bob's Red Mill brand organic, whole wheat as the closest comparison I could find; it shows about 87 total useable carbs.  Divide those 87 into a huge cake with approximately 16 pretty big slices, that is about 5 carbs per slice from the healthy, whole grain flour.  If you can't eat flour at all, skip this one or play around with the almond and coconut flour along with some ground flax or oatmeal fiber, etc. to get a 'flour' mixture you can eat without pain and bloating.

Sour Cream Pound Cake - Bundt Cake

6 eggs, separated
1/2 t salt
1 c real butter
3 c natural sweeteners (Hint: Best is to mix at least 3 kinds)
1 T vanilla
3 c 'flour' mixture - see below (Hint: Best is to mix at least 3 kinds)
1 c sour cream
1/4 t baking soda

Because I don't want to wash my mixing bowl between ingredients, I usually beat the egg whites with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt first.  When they are stiffly beaten, I transfer them to a clean bowl, set aside and then proceed with creaming the butter and sweeteners in my mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and then eggs- one yolk at a time.

Alternate adding the almond flour/coconut flour/ flour mixture with the sour cream and end with the last of the flour mixture.  Before the final mixing, sprinkle over the 1/4 t baking soda and mix until blended.

Fold the beaten egg whites into your batter gently and patiently. Keep folding until they are incorporated.
Pour into a greased and 'almond/coconut floured' pan.  Bake approximately 75 minutes at 315 degrees.  The lower temperature is what will keep the outside from burning or getting too dark brown while the center is still cooking.  When it's done (I gently press my finger on top to make sure it firm and not still wet and sinking or jiggling) remove from oven and let set to cool about 5 minutes until the sides just start to pull away from the pan.  I gently shake my bundt pan back and forth in my hands to loosen it from the edges a little more, and turn it out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

When it's done you can serve as is, with a sugar free glaze or just use a confectioner's style sweetener like Swerve and shake the powdered sweetener over lightly.

Note(s): For best results and best flavor mix at least 2 kinds of natural sweeteners, if not 3+.    The typical sweeteners I have on hand are usually Truvia, Ideal and Swerve granulated as well as a bottle of liquid sweetening drops.  It's nice to mix these together and put into your container to use just like you would sugar.

Note(s): Your baked goods almost always turn out better if you use a 'mixture' of almond flour and coconut flour with whey protein powder, flax seed or oatmeal flour, etc. Using almond flour alone often results in a heavy, wet, moist and soft outcome.  Just like with the sweeteners above, you can mix up a 'baking mix' of almond flour, coconut flour and/or whey protein powder, ground flax, wheat protein isolate or etc. before hand and use it like you would any flour.

For this recipe I did use 1 cup of freshly ground, whole grain flour (I grind myself using non-GMO, heritage wheat berries) because we are not gluten free we are just 'lower carb' by choice.  I usually don't use flour in baking and use a mixture of two-thirds good quality almond flour, with the final third a mixture of a scoop of whey protein powder (Isopure zero carb and zero sugar) and 1 heaping scoop good quality coconut flour and a tablespoon or two of vital wheat gluten or wheat protein isolate. 

 Some products related to this post available through Amazon;
Swerve Sweetener, Bakers Bundle, 12Oz Granular and Confectioners pack of 2
Non-GMO Project Verified Soft White, Hard White, and Hard Red Spring Wheat Berries (9 total LBS) | 100% USA Grown | Identity Preserved (We Tell You Which Field We Grew It In)
Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder, 100% Whey Protein Isolate, Flavor: Creamy Vanilla, 3 Pounds (Packaging May Vary)
Ideal No Calorie Sweetener 100 Count Pack of 2
Bob's Red Mill Super-Fine Gluten Free Almond Flour, 3 Pound
Nutiva Organic Coconut Flour - 1 lb
Set of 3 Nordic Ware Cake Formed Bundt Pans - 12 , 6, 3 Cup in Assorted Colors


Print Friendly and PDF

Pork Chops and Hashbrowns with Mushroom Gravy

Ready for the oven!

This is one of the 'too many' files and photos I have waiting patiently in my computer folder to get posted on the website.  It's from last Fall actually.  This was during the time I was flying back and forth every Saturday to another state as I divided my time, every other week between my oldest daughters house and our house as I was helping with childcare.

The Husband doesn't run our day-to-day lives or take care of any of the 'business' aspect of our lives and home so when I returned home every other Saturday night I would hit the ground running to get caught up with maintenance, repairs, banking, bill paying, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, appointments, etc.  I often was making meals before I had a chance to get out to get fresh foods from the grocery so I would use whatever was on hand in the freezer and pantry.

One cold, November night I threw this together and it was OH so good and OH so hot and comforting on a chilly night and OH so not healthy!  Ha!  As we usually low carb, no sugar, this used hash brown potatoes and canned soup.  But did I care?  I did not. 

It's one of those "no recipe" just throw it together kind of things, but I want to get it on the site because is one of those oh-so-simple no work meals any of my 3 kids could throw together.

Pork Chops and Hashbrowns with Mushroom Gravy

4 boneless pork chops
1, 2 or 3 cups hashbrowns, either frozen prepared, freshly grated or dehydrated; as many as you want.
1 can mushroom soup
*optional to add about 1/2 cup sour cream (makes a nice tasting, rich sauce)

Brown the porkchops in a pan on the stove in a little oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place your hash browns in a greased or prepared baking pan (I line mine with foil for easy clean up).
Mix the soup with 1 cup water for frozen or fresh hashbrowns, and use about 2/3 cup more water if they are dried, dehydrated.
Bake in an oven for about 45 minutes at 350.  Cover it with foil for about the first 25 minutes and then remove the foil for the last half of baking so it turns golden brown and thickens.

*If you use pork chops with bones you'll have to increase baking time by about 15 minutes.

Print Friendly and PDF

February 06, 2018

Almond and Pistachio Gelato Style Ice Cream - Low Carb

Although I rarely eat gelato, I do have a photo of me eating my first real, legit, Italian Gelato... in Italy.  The white scoop is coconut and the green scoop is pistachio. 

In Italy, Gelato was served pretty much everywhere we went.  Sometimes just in large bins like you see ice cream served in shops in the US or sometimes 'pretty' and shaped like roses (photo below).  It was SO creamy and cold and good.

And my recipe for today's Gelato is nothing like that.  It just can't be because of the way Gelato is made (slow churned, less air, etc)

Gelato in one of the many shops in Rome....

Blurry - as I snapped it quickly as we were walking by, but you can see the rose shapes made from the Gelato for sale.

Gelato is made with a higher percentage of whole milk than cream and it's slow churned so it incorporates less air than ice cream.  It's also served not quite as 'frozen' as ice cream.  So really, the only reason I'm calling what I made gelato is because it isn't ice cream.  :)

First off; I hate clutter. Even in my refrigerator.
So when I'm down to the last little cup or less of cream, half and half, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. and I've bought replacements at the grocery store... I want those 'almost empty' containers gone.  Gone I tell you!  Poof.

Yesterday I had the remains of heavy cream, half and half and almond/coconut milk to use up.  What would I make with those three items?  ICE CREAM OF COURSE.  And even though I usually make homemade ice creams in flavors the other members of our family like, there is NO ONE ELSE here to worry about this week.  The Husband is on a business trip, the youngest daughter is at college all week and this ice cream would be mine, all mine.

Because we eat low carb and sugar free, we almost always have a nut mix on hand for snacking.  I simply went through and grabbed a  bunch of almonds and pistachios from the deluxe nut mix.

And here are the containers I wanted to use up!

The more heavy cream you use, the more 'ice cream' like this is.  Try to have 2 cups of heavy cream if you can.  The other 2 cups being either half and half, almond milk, coconut milk or both. 

Low Carb Gelato Like Ice Cream - Almond Coconut Milk Based

4 cups of a mixture of almond-coconut milk, half and half, and heavy cream
3/4 - 1 c mixed sweeteners - I use a mix of Truvia, Ideal and Swerve with a little liquid sucra-drops
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t glycerin (the kind used in ice creams and frosting, etc)
3 egg yolks
2/3 c pistachios and almonds mixed

In a pan on the stove, heat and stir your nuts to give them a nice toasted flavor.  Take the pan from the stove and remove the nuts.  In a bowl, lightly beat the 3 egg yolks. Pour the 4 cups of milk/cream into the 'nuts' pan and bring back to the stove over medium and stir until it starts to just barely simmer with tiny bubbles around the edges.  Remove from heat and while whisking, start to drizzle/pour about a cup of the hot milk mixture in the egg yolks.  Don't pour and let set or your eggs will cook.  As soon as you have whisked in the milk to the eggs, pour it back into the pan with the rest of the hot milk.  Add the vanilla, sweeteners and glycerin.  Stir or whisk till blended.

Now you can put all of it into a blender or a food processor and give it a few pulses to mix, add the nuts and pulse a couple more times.  The more you pulse the smaller your nuts will be.  Your choice.

The best thing to do at this point is use it in your favorite ice cream maker.  Which is what I was going to do until at this point, I realized we no longer HAVE our electric ice cream maker that doesn't use ice and rock salt.  I completely forgot we donated it with the intention of me ordering a new, higher powered one.  That I never ordered.  Not wanting to drive to a gas station or store to buy ice, I decided to pour and freeze.  So if you wish, pour into a container and place in the deep freeze.  Around 12 hours or so, take it out and stir it up as the nuts will have settled to the bottom.  Mix it up and put it back in the freezer for another 8-10 hours.  Then, enjoy!

(I actually had it for breakfast this morning, again for a late afternoon snack - in which I poured 1/2 cup of strong coffee over it - yum!)

  Wilton Glycerine

  Cuisinart ICE Frozen Yogurt - Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker, Pink

  Hamilton Beach 1-1/2-Quart Capacity Ice Cream Maker, White

Print Friendly and PDF