June 28, 2018

Birthday Cake Flavored Cheesecake

Originally posted 2016

Yesterday I opened the refrigerator and saw some food items I wanted to 'use up' before going grocery shopping today. I had some heavy cream, half and half, a small container of cream I had already whipped into whipping cream and sweetened, as well as that cake mix.  Well helloooo?  Just looking at those ingredients my brain said, "DUH!  CHEESECAKE!"  and with birthday cake 'truffles' dancing in my head, the two swirled around each other just long enough for me to say "Birthday Cake Cheesecake!"  SUGAR FREE and low carb.

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.

I wasn't going to use any crust at all (crustless cheesecakes are no big deal with you are used to eating sugar free and/or low carb) but I remembered I had some of my sugar free, low carb 'sugar' cookies in the deep freezer just hanging out waiting for a use; 15 cookies later they were in the food processor and boom!  We have a crust.

Amounts don't specifically matter!  As I said, I made this 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 (I used Ideal mixed with Truvia and guessed at the amount)
1/4 t Lorann Princess Cake flavoring
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3/4 c dry cake mix from the package
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

If you are using crust, whirl your graham crackers or about 12-15 cookies of your choice in a food processor to get about a cup of crumbs.  I did not want to take the time to make a hard crust so I just dumped them into the pan knowing they would stay crumbs, which I was fine with.  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.

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.  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. I just dumped some in - going to guess it was about 3/4 cup-ish.  One cake mix can make about 3 of these cheesecakes. Save the rest of the dry mix for another time.  

At this point mine got really thick so I used about 1/3 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.  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.  Up to you!

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. 

Brainstorming what I could make with some leftovers from the refrigerator to use up and a cake mix.

I decided to use some low carb, sugar free cookies I had in the deep freezer for a quick crumb crust.  Recipe down below if you wish or use whatever graham crackers or cookies you wish!

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.

You might also be interested in these related products available through Amazon;

This is the LorAnn Princess Cake flavor I mentioned above;  I ordered mine from Amazon quite a while ago.  It's an emulsion, not a watery liquid so you use a little less (I only use about 1/4 teaspoon instead of the normal 1 t I'd use of any other flavoring).  It's a mixture of almond, vanilla and lemon I think.  It's just so good and tastes to me like what white 'bakery' cakes taste like.

Lorann Oils Bakery Emulsions Natural and Artificial Flavor, 4-Ounce, Princess Cake and Cookie

3 different styles affordable Springform Pans available through Amazon;

Wilton Excelle Elite 6 x 2-3/4  Inch Springform Pan
Nordic Ware Leakproof Springform Pan, 10 Cup, 9 Inch
Norpro Nonstick 3 Piece Springform Cake Cheesecake Tart Quiche Pan Set New 3903



Reposting this here just because it's the cookie I had in the freezer and used about 14 or 15 of them to make a crumb crust for the cheesecake.   If you can, make these a day ahead of time.  I found the taste improved even more after I stored the finished cookies in the refrigerator all night.

A wheat free, sugar free 'sugar' cookie!

1/4 c butter
1/4 c cream cheese
1/3 c Ideal baking sweetener
2 T Just Like Sugar baking sweetener
1 egg, beaten
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 c coconut flour (scant)
1 3/4 c almond flour
1 scoop vanilla whey powder
1/4 t xanthan gum

Cream the butter and cream cheese with the sweeteners and vanilla.  Add half of the beaten egg. Beat in the dry ingredients.  Chill in the refrigerator.  Preheat your oven to 350.  Roll the dough between parchment paper dusted with a bit of vanilla protein powder or coconut flour.  Cut out shapes.  The dough is delicate so carefully transfer to your baking sheet.  I used a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake about 12 minutes until the edges are turning golden brown.  Carefully flip each cookie over and continue to bake an additional 3-4 minutes until the cookie is more firm and golden on the second side.  After cooling for 2-3 minutes on the pan, remove to a wire rack so they can cool completely.  Frost with your favorite sugar free frosting. 

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June 26, 2018

Elegant Garlic Herb Pull Apart Bread

Originally posted in 2014

Baked and ready to serve

Originally posted in 2014, it's a beautiful change when you want to serve garlic bread with your meal but want something different.  This dough is a nice dough to work with but the recipe is enough for two baked goods; so you could make 2 pans of elegant pull apart bread or use the second half for something like a regular loaf of bread, rolls or hamburger buns.  Or just half the recipe when you are making it.

I baked this one in my solar oven (I'll put a link at the bottom) although yes, most people, including me, typically bake it in the oven. 

Elegant Garlic Herb Pull Apart Bread

4 1/2 t - (2 pkg.)  active, dry yeast
1/2 c warm water
1 t sugar
1/3 c additional sugar
1 1/4 c warm milk
1/2 c butter, melted
2 eggs
1 t salt
6 c flour (additional 1 cup on stand by)
1-2 T fresh, minced garlic
2 T fresh, chopped parsley or 2 t dried
1 t garlic salt (optional - cut out if you need to cut down on salt)
4 T butter, soft

In a large mixing bowl, place the yeast and warm water with the 1 teaspoon sugar.  Stir gently and let set about 1 minute to dissolve.  Add the milk, melted butter, eggs, salt, 1/3 c sugar and about 3-4 cups flour.  Stir by hand or use your bread dough hook on the electric mixer and stir to form a soft dough starting with 3 cups flour and adding more to get the dough to form.  This should be a total of about 6 cups.   Knead by hand on a floured board 6-8 minutes or by mixer with dough hook, about 4-5 minutes.  In a greased bowl, turn once to cover the dough with oil or grease, cover and let raise until doubled in height.  This could be 25 minutes to an hour or more depending on how warm the area you are letting it raise is.

Punch down dough and place on a floured surface.  Divide dough into 4 portions.  The bread I made above was using just 2 dough portions of the dough and using the other two for something else.

Roll each portion into a rectangle about 14 inches by 6 inches.  Spread about 2 tablespoons of the butter over the rectangle and use half your garlic, garlic salt and parsley to sprinkle over the dough.   Fold the dough up accordion style (back and forth, back and forth) about every 2 inches.  Cut the folded dough into slices about 1 1/2 inches wide with a very sharp knife.  Place them standing up in a round, greased pan with the folds showing upwards.  Continue with your dough to fill a round circle in the pan.

Cover loosely and let raise in a warm place about 15-20 minutes just until it starts to raise and get puffy.  Bake at 375 degrees about 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and the bread is done.  Let cool about 3 minutes in the pan before turning out to a wire rack.  Let cool about 5-10 minutes before serving warm.

A nice, tender bread dough
Rolling out to a rectangle shape
Covering with fresh, minced garlic, garlic salt and parsley

Folded accordion style and sliced

Placed in a greased baking pan to form a ring

Let raise

Baked and ready to serve


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June 24, 2018

A Classic Homemade Bread Dough for Homemade Bread, Pizza, Buns or Rolls

Originally posted in September, 2013

The smell of things like apple pie, homemade bread and cookies baking seems to go hand-in-hand with the Autumn season.  So, I'm re-posting this one because with so many recipes on my site, it's easy to lose track of them, and easier to find them in the search box if they've been posted a couple times.

This is a recipe I fall back on whenever I want to make homemade bread or rolls for dinner and I don't want to have to think about it. It uses basic ingredients, can be mixed up in my bread machine or in my KitchenAid Mixer,or even by hand if I want to give my arm muscles a work out (which I don't usually, because I'm just lazy like that).

One thing I do with this basic recipe is substitute about 1/4 cup whole wheat flour sometimes.  You don't have to, but you can if you wish.  Use this dough not only for 2 loaves of bread, but use it for homemade rolls, hamburger buns, garlic and butter monkey bread or make cinnamon rolls out of it.

This particular time I baked the bread in my Global Sun Oven® but obviously you would be baking it either in your bread machine or in your oven.

Classic Homemade Bread or Rolls

12 oz. water, warm
1 1/2 t salt
2 T butter
4 c bread flour
2 T dry milk
2 T sugar
1 3/4 t yeast, dry

Put in your bread machine or your mixer bowl in this order.  Turn on your bread machine, or use the dough setting if you want to remove it and bake it in a sun oven or conventional oven.  If using your stand mixer, use the bread dough hook.  Knead for about 8 minutes.  Let rest to raise.  Take it out of the bowl, turn it out and make your bread, rolls, buns from it.  Let them raise until double in height.  Bake as you wish.  Bread will bake about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  I baked them in the solar oven on a sunny day for about 45 - 50 minutes.  Bake longer if it's not a hot, sunny day.

The first raising

This recipe makes two loaves.  Form and put in a greased pan.

Let raise and then bake until done - about 30-35 minutes.

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Using military can openers P-38 and P-51 - Emergency Food Storage and Camping

Originally posted in July 2015

If you have some emergency food storage (which I hope you all do!) you probably have some of it in cans.  Assuming a natural or man-made disaster hits and your home is without power, or you've had to leave your home with your 72 hour bag and be evacuated somewhere and you have some canned goods with you, how do you plan to open those cans if you don't have or have never operated a manual can opener of any sort?

For me personally, I've never used electric can openers regularly by choice.  As a very small child (age 3-4) I learned to use our family's Butterfly Can Opener and although I remember my parents buying an electric can opener at some point in my elementary years, I never liked using it and usually opted for a manual opener of some sort.

After I grew up and was married, we purchased a nice, well made, Swing-A-Way Can Opener and that became our go-to opener.  I never realized knowing how to operate a manual can opener was a lost skill until my kids were old enough to have friends over and they would prepare snacks and food in the kitchen.  Of all the friends my three kids had over to the house over the years, I'm not sure any of them knew what a manual opener was - and their faces when they tried to operate the butterfly opener?  Shock and confusion.

If a time comes when you are without electrical power and you need to use some of your canned goods, you need to have a way to open them.  Having a couple manual openers in your kitchen drawer is a great idea for any household - but I'm going to take it one step farther.

A military can opener is a smart option to have in your 72 hour kits, your kitchen, your camping gear, on your key chain, your food storage pantry, etc.  I was throwing together a black bean salsa recipe this week that uses a number of canned goods in it, so I thought it was a great time to snap a few pictures and post about the importance of having a non-electrical can opener in your emergency storage.

The P-38 and P-51 are a pocket-sized can opener, approximately 38 mm and 51 mm long, and consist of a short metal blade that serves as a handle, with a small, hinged metal tooth that folds out to pierce a can lid. A notch just under the hinge point keeps the opener hooked around the rim of the can as the device is "walked" around to cut the lid out.

One technical explanation for the origin of the name is that the P-38 is approximately 38 millimeters long. This explanation also holds for the P-51, which measures approximately 51 mm (2.0 in) in length. However, use of the metric system in the US was not widespread at this point, and United States Army sources indicate that the origin of the name is rooted in the 38 punctures around the circumference of a C-ration can required for opening.

P-38s are no longer used for individual rations by the United States Armed Forces, as canned C-rations were replaced by MRE rations in the 1980s, packed in plastic pouches. The larger P-51s are included with United States military "Tray Rations" (canned bulk meals). They are also still seen in disaster recovery efforts and have been handed out alongside canned food by rescue organizations, both in America and abroad in Afghanistan.

To Use:  
First, the cutting point is pivoted (opened up) to its 95-degree position, from its stowed, folded position.
Then, for a right-handed user, it's is held in the right hand by the flat long section, with the cutting point pointing downward and away from the user, while also hooking the edge of the can through the circular notch located on the flat long section next to the cutting edge.
The can is held in the left hand, and the right hand is rotated slightly clockwise, causing the can lid to be punctured.
The can is then rotated counter clockwise in the left hand, while the right hand rotates alternatively slightly counterclockwise and slightly clockwise, until the can has been rotated nearly 360 degrees and the lid is nearly free.
The lid of the now opened can is lifted, most often with the P-38 or P-51 cutting edge, and the P-38/51 is wiped clean, and the cutting point is rotated back to its stowed, folded position.
Left-handed users simply hold the P-38/51 in their left hand, with the cutting point aimed towards themselves, while holding the can to be opened in their right hand, while also reversing the sense of the cutting hand movements just described.

The P-38 worked well for me except it did tend to slip often

Puncture the can
Continue to 'walk' around the can, puncturing it along the way

The P-51 is the same, except a little bigger so most people
find it easier to use.
Open the hinge until it clicks into place

This picture shows how you hook it under the rim of the lid
Again, puncture the tin to open
Walking it around the can
The edges will be jagged so be careful - they are sharp
You can use the flat end to lift the jagged edges of the can open
Click it back shut, and put it away until next time!

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