Quick & Easy Dinner Idea: Bacon, Shrimp & Pepper Stir-Fry


Years ago I would spend bigger money than I would like to have, to purchase extra large sized fresh shrimp; painstakingly wrap them all with strips of bacon, chop onions and peppers and finally, thread them all on skewers to grill for dinner.  If I was doing enough for guests, this could take over an hour.

It was time consuming and as our family got older and busier, there just wasn't time for it.  That slowly led to me just chopping the veggies up, adding the shrimp and marinating them in a baggy with olive oil, salt and pepper, and throwing it all together along with diced bacon into a grill basket.  This was yummy but it's hard to get everything to cook evenly.

Over the past 6 years I've found myself making it all three ways.  If I have time, I grill the bacon wrapped shrimp on skewers along with peppers, onions and mushrooms on separate skewers, and serve all together.  If we want to grill but didn't have time to do the prep work (which is about an hour that way) we use the grill basket.  But often, when it's a "Oh no, it's 5:40 and I want dinner on the table at 6!" kind of night, I've found it so fast and easy to make this on the stove.  I've even made it in the Instant Pot once by using the saute' function for the whole meal and not sealing it.

Here is the quick version - no recipe needed as you just use the amount of bacon, shrimp, peppers and onions you wish.  

Bacon, Shrimp & Peppers

Raw, cleaned, shrimp  (You can grab frozen from the freezer, rinse under cold water in a colander to thaw)
Peppers - orange, red, yellow - chopped
Onions - any style you like/wish
Bacon - diced
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Fry the diced bacon in a pan on the stove.  You might have to add some olive oil to the pan to start so the bacon doesn't stick if you don't have a non-stick pan.  When it's golden brown, remove it to a plate and in the same pan, add the vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper.  There should be enough fat left in the pan to cook the peppers but in case there isn't, drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  When the peppers and onions are starting to get soft and lose their crisp, add the shrimp.  Shrimp cooks quickly so stir, moving the ones starting to turn white to the outside, the uncooked to the center.  As you stir and cook, it should be almost done in just 3-4 minutes.  When all the shrimp are just about finished, add the bacon back in and stir all.  Remove to your serving platter.

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Homemade Bread - Iowa Farmwife Style (and...snitching bread before it's finished baking! It smelled SOOOO GOOD!)

Although we are almost always low carb, no sugar - there are some times when I go through an intense craving for homemade bread.  Today was one of those days, although it's been building up for some time.  Finally, I decided to head to the kitchen and made some ciabatta bread dough... but I knew that wasn't going to be 'fast' enough as ciabatta takes a long time since you have to make a starter first.

I mixed up a starter for the ciabatta but then I grabbed my old trusty bread machine from the cupboard where he's mostly sat ignored for the past few years since high carb bread isn't a 'normal' in our home any more.  Oh I LOVE this machine though.  And sadly, they don't make them anymore.  I love it so much that as I was adding ingredients in this one, I was thinking about how one Christmas, years and years ago, I gave both my parents and my father-in-law one for Christmas.  Only I'm almost positive neither of them use theirs anymore and I was pondering asking them if they still have them, because I would TOTALLY LOVE TO HAVE IT if they EVER plan to get rid of it.  I'd want to cry if they donated it or in my Dads case, threw it out.  They do NOT make them like this anymore... and that's sad.

But where was I?


So I figured while I waiting for the biga (starter) to foam and bubble, the quickest and easiest way to get bread FAST was my machine.  So I made it - set it - and tried to stay busy while it did it's 'thang.

And then... my house started to smell SO GOOD.
The smell of baking bread is just one of those smells that made you CRAVE that bread.
And when you haven't ate all day and you are sooo very hungry, that bread is just calling your name from the kitchen!

Although it was still baking, I opened the lid and started to pick at one tiny little part that was kind of hanging over the side.
OH MY. So good.
My mouth watered for more.
So I picked a little more.
And then I realized the whole top was basically 'done'.  It was only the center that had to finish baking.
So I grabbed a small plate and ripped off the whole top of the still-baking bread.
I smothered it with real butter, and I did not feel guilty at all.  NOT AT ALL.
Because yes, it was that good.

When I removed the bread from the machine it looked like this.  Ha ha!  I don't care.  It was amazing at the time.  And I don't think anyone can fault you for picking at fresh, homemade bread.

I have a couple 'go to' recipes for bread and I've never made this particular one in the machine before.  But it came out great!  Also I used almost all unsweetened almond milk with a dash of heavy cream since we don't have 'regular' milk in our house.  Again, it came out great. I had to go downstairs to my 'Christmas baking' storage to find some white flour - which I mixed with some of my freshly ground flour from wheat berries.  I dug out the only 'real' sugar we have in the house which was a little package of 'raw' sugar and I didn't use the full 1/4 since that amount is not only for the yeast, but a little extra for sweetening, which we don't need.  In other words, I played with the recipe... as I do all of them.

Iowa Farmhouse Style Homemade Bread

1/4 c butter
1 c scalded milk
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1 pkg. yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (not hot)
1 egg
3 1/2 - 4 c flour

Put the butter, salt and sugar in a bowl.
Scald the milk and pour over the butter mixture to melt.
Let it cool.
Add a beaten egg.
Add the yeast/water mixture.
Add the flour.
Cover and let rise to double.
Punch down.
Let rise again.
Shape into loaves (2) or balls for rolls.
Let rise.
Bake 350 for 15 minutes for buns and about 30-35 minutes for bread or until golden brown and done.

I used this recipe in my bread machine by adding all the ingredients and setting it for a 2 lb. loaf - which it was almost too big for my 2 pound bread machine!  It came ALLLL the way to the top.  But then I guess that didn't matter since I opened my machine and ate the whole top of the bread even before it was finished baking! 

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Rosemary Garlic Almond Crackers - or ANY seasoning you like! Low Carb & Sugar Free


Almond crackers, almond thins, etc. have been featured on An American Housewife many, many times in the past since I've been making them pretty much 'all the time' since the early 2000's.  2002?  I don't even recall.  But they are a staple in our house since cheese and crackers in almost any form has always been a favorite of mine.

I always play with this recipe though!  Starting with the basic almond cracker I've been making for over 15 years and adding whatever I feel like to it, based on what sounds good or what I have on hand, or what I want the finished cracker to be.

The original Almond Thin Cracker I've posted a LOT is more like a 'wheat thin' style.  The other versions are more like a little bit thicker cracker.  This one is a thin, very crisp cracker but is a little bit thicker than the wheat-thin style due to the baking powder.  I used garlic salt, onion powder, poppy seeds and a store store Rosemary Garlic blend today.

My favorite way to eat any of my almond crackers is with cream cheese and banana peppers!

Rosemary Garlic Almond Crackers (Or ANY seasoning you like)

2 c almond flour or fine ground almonds
1 t sweetener of choice
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt (I use sea salt)
2 egg whites

*options - add what you want, and as little or lot as you like. This is just a starting point. Taste your dough and adjust to how you like it.  You can also use things like ranch dressing, sea salt, pepper, tomato powder, basil... whatever kind of crackers you wish.

1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion powder
1 1/2 t poppy seeds
1 t Rosemary and Garlic spice blend 

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor or a small bowl. Make sure it's mixed well so all the almond is moist and the dough starts to hold together and form a ball.  You can either mix in the seasonings OR sprinkle them separately on top.  If you sprinkle on top, press them in lightly.

Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper or well greased foil.  It is very sticky so you need 2 sheets of parchment or foil or it will stick to your rolling pin.

Roll the dough out with a rolling pin as thin as you can - 1/8 of an inch is what to aim for.  Aim for a rectangle shape to make it easier to score squares.  Peel off the top layer and score with a pizza cutter to make squares either 1" or 2" - your choice in size.  Leave them on the bottom parchment to bake and place it on a baking sheet.

Bake at 325 degree's for 10-15 minutes then check and use a metal spatula, fork or your fingers to gently pry the crackers apart, flipping the ones on the outside to the inside and mixing them up a bit. When all are golden, remove, break apart and let cool completely. Store in an air tight container.

These are incredible by themselves, with cheese or as a cracker dip for any number of spreads. I love them dipped in plain cream cheese with yellow banana peppers as a snack.

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Making hard boiled eggs in my electric pressure cooker... (Instant Pot, Cosori, Bella, etc)

Making hard boiled eggs in my electric pressure cooker... one jumped out of his shell.

Just put about 1 1/2 cups of water in your instant pot or electric pressure cooker, add your eggs and set your cooker for a manual 5 minute setting - seal and cook.  When done, do a quick release vent, remove your eggs and run them under cold water.


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Spanakopia - made with leftover phyllo dough that was dried out and starting to crumble, but I didn't want to throw it out

I had 1 1/2 packages of phyllo dough to use up (one was kind of dried out from being opened, and we were getting ready to get serious about low carb so I wanted to use it up and get it out of the house) - so here is the smaller version and if you want 1 1/2 - 2 packages, then double all the ingredients and use a large lasagna pan, a 9X13" pan or make 2 pans and freeze one for future use.

You'll see in the photos, I made one pan and then I also made one rolled into a bundle or loaf as well.  Both worked great.


3 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 10 oz. packages frozen spinach, thawed or use 1 1/2 pounds fresh, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c ricotta cheese
1 c crumbled feta cheese
1 package of 8 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 - 1/2 c real butter - soft for brushing sheets of dough or melted for drizzling

Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion, green onions and garlic, until soft and lightly browned - don't over cook or the garlic gets bitter. Stir in spinach and parsley, and continue to cook about 2-3 minutes to heat the spinach and make the fresh limp if you've used fresh. Remove from heat.

Mix together eggs, ricotta, and feta. Stir in onion/spinach mixture.

In a greased pan, lay either a layer of pastry or if yours is all dried out, use the pieces to make a thin layer.  Spread about 1/3 of the mixture.  Add another layer of pastry, filling, pastry, filling.  If you are using full sheets you'll have to use a brush to brush each layer with real butter or olive oil.  Use 2 sheets to every one layer filling.  For the broken sheets, again, just make a thin layer.

For the top, end with your pastry and if it's a full sheet, brush the top with butter, but if it's the broken pieces like I had to use up, just drizzle melted butter over the top.   Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, until golden brown. Let it set for a few minutes after removing it from the oven to let it 'set up' a bit to make it easier to cut.  Cut into squares and serve while hot.

Here is my older, dried out sheets of phyllo dough that I wanted to use up - with butter drizzled over the top and ready to go into the oven

Fresh from the oven - golden brown and crisp!

I had 1 1/2 packages to use up and used some of the full sheets that weren't dried and crumbly, to roll up the spinach filling and baked it as a wrap style.

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Coffee Cake Muffins - Sugar Free and Low Carb

Although I've posted this recipe previously, I thought I'd revisit it since I always tweak recipes depending on what I 'feel' like that day or what I have on hand, etc.  So the version I posted previously is so very, very similar to this one but right now we have some pretty good 'brown sugar' style sugar free sweeteners on the market to use in place of the molasses added, and I don't care for coconut flour so it's reduced to just a heaping tablespoon in this version and replaced with my favorite whey protein powder (zero carb and zero sugar too).  Lastly, I love the use of Oat Fiber in the topping instead of that dreaded coconut flour again, so although these are are simple changes that I normally wouldn't bother 'writing down' I thought I would today.

The photos with this recipe are the muffin I was going to eat... quickly snapped two photos on my iphone and within about 2 minutes of the photo above being taken, that muffin was long gone and reduced to mere crumbs on my plate!  Hot and fresh from the oven... I couldn't even wait for it to cool.  I love these too much!

 Low Carb and Sugar Free Coffee Cake Muffins

2 T real butter
2 oz. cream cheese
3 eggs
1/2 c sweetener of choice (I use a mixture of granulated sweeteners for the best flavor. Use 2 or 3 mixed.)
2 t vanilla
1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 c almond flour
1/3 c unflavored or vanilla flavored whey protein powder (I use Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder exclusively)
1 1/2 tablespoons quality coconut flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

1 c almond flour
1/4 c oat fiber
1/3 c sweetener of choice (granulated brown 'sugar' style)
3 T butter
1 t cinnamon

(If you can't find a good 'brown sugar' version of a natural sweetener, you can use a white granulated sweetener and 1/2 teaspoon molasses. 

Mix your muffin batter ingredients all together either in an electric mixing bowl, blender or your food processor until blended smooth.  Divide into your muffin cups.  Now mix the topping ingredients in your blender, by hand or with a fork until it resembles pea like crumbs or just put it into your food processor and pulse it a couple times.

Cover your muffins with the crumb topping.  Bake at 350 about 20-25 minutes for regular sized muffins (12). After about 22 minutes, lightly press on the top of one of the middle muffins to see if they are set up and firm - not jiggly anymore.  You might want to add 2-3 minutes at a time until it's done.  Then let them cool completely out on a cookie rack. 

  Right before I gobbled it up...... hot and fresh from the oven.

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Super quick and easy way to pull off a low carb seafood dinner! Scallops in garlic butter, crab stuffed mushrooms, riced garlic cauliflower and cheddar biscuits

Cooking and baking has been happening around these parts, but it's been under duress of sorts as I've been battling Strep Throat as well as busy with wedding planning.  But mealtime happens... three times a day... so life goes on.  I just haven't been posting, or even really, remembering to photograph. 

But this afternoon I've committed myself to updating An American Housewife and I have a meal I threw together quickly and easily using a store bought product to help me out.  This is a meal that happens to be low carb but everyone can love it as if it isn't!

The first step though is to purchase already made crab cakes.  I buy mine from Sam's Club not only for the better price than purchasing the same thing at my local grocery store, but because they aren't made with all the fillers that up the carb count.  The crazy thing is, in all the years of making crab stuffed mushrooms, I've never really thought about using already purchased crab cakes to do it!  Maybe because until I started to buy the Sam's crab cakes about 4 or 5 years ago, I've always made mine from scratch.  Either way, this is a time saver that tastes amazing!

QUICK AND EASY Low Carb Seafood Dinner:

Scallops in Garlic Butter
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
Riced Cauliflower
Cheddar Biscuits

I've posted the biscuit recipe previously but here it is again to make it easy to find for this meal:

Low Carb, Keto Cheddar Biscuit

1 c almond flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
3 T wheat protein isolate 5000 (I buy from Netrition)
1 T baking powder
1/2 t sea salt
3 T real butter, cold from the refrigerator; grated if you have one or just dice up small
1/2 cheddar cheese, grated or shredded
3 egg whites, beaten stiff
optional: 1/2 - 1 t fresh minced garlic

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter and whisk it in, use a fork, or use your fingers, to cut it in until its incorporated into the dry ingredients and is crumb like. Add the garlic and the egg whites and fold gently and slowly so you don't break down the whites too much. Lastly, fold in the cheese.

Use a spoon or small 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop to form mounds on a greased, foil lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-14 minutes.

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms:  Buy medium to large sized, white, fresh looking mushrooms.  Rinse, rub and pat dry your mushrooms if you normally do so.  Twist and pull the stem out (you can reserve that to use in another dish if you wish - I waste nothing). I like to use a small spoon to gently scrape out the 'gills' on the underside and scrape the center a bit to make it just a tiny bit deeper to hold more stuffing.  Place them cap side down on a lightly sprayed or oiled baking sheet. Using thawed, prepared crab cakes (or your own homemade stuffing), spoon a heaping spoonful into each cap.  Gently press down just a little to hold it in place but don't 'smoosh' it too hard or your mushroom will crack.  Season the tops if you wish.  I like a light sprinkle of lemon pepper but you could use salt and pepper or whatever you usually like on your seafood.  Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown - about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your mushrooms and how hot your oven runs.    You can bake the biscuits along with the mushrooms as they can both be baked at 400 degrees.

Scallops:  For the scallops, heat 1-2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium high.  Add fresh chopped or minced garlic according to how much you love it (about a clove or two is typical).  Cook for 1 minute to start to saute and then add your rinsed and patted dry scallops.  Single layer.  Cook on one side to sear them a bit, then flip over, cook the second side.  It only takes a few minutes to get that golden brown color, caramelized garlic flavor and cook them done.  Add a dash of dried or fresh parsley and remove to your serving platter.

Riced Cauliflower:  In the SAME PAN add a package or about 2 cups of riced cauliflower.  This is cauliflower that has been put through the S-blade in a food processor and pulsed just long enough to chop the cauliflower into rice sized bits.  Quickly cook this stir-fry style more-or-less in the saucepan you took the scallops out of.  Do not over cook or it will be mushy.  You want to only cook it for 2-3 minutes so it has the texture of rice.  Remove from heat and place into your serving dish.

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