Sugar Free and Low Carb Brownie Bites

'Baby Bites' (little bitty cakes) and Brownie Bites are apparently a 'thing' right now.  While planning our daughter's wedding she wanted "baby bites" and the bakeries around here are making a killing on these things.  (No we didn't pay bakery prices for any of our desserts for the reception... did you miss my post about the rustic bark 'tree' cake I made for them instead of spending $1000 on a cake...? No way did I pay bakery prices for the reception dessert table.)

One of the items we did not include at the wedding was brownie bites, but I did make them for my husband this week.  I'm not a fan of chocolate in the least, so apparently I'm not a good judge of chocolate desserts.  Because I tasted these and thought "meh" but later my husband came home from work, tasted them and announced they were 'fabulous' and ate about 5 of them while he was standing there.

What do I know, right?

There is no guilt with these little brownie bites because they are wheat free, low carb, sugar free.

Brownie Bites

1 c walnuts or pecans
1/4 - 1/3 c cocoa powder (Start with 1/4 and add more if you think it needs it)
dash salt
1/2 c almond butter
1/2 c granulated sweeteners - use 2 mixed for best flavor
1/4 c sugar free chocolate chips
1 t vanilla

In a food processor with an S-blade, process your nuts and salt until paste.  Add everything else except the chocolate chips; after it comes together into a dough ball, pulse in the chocolate chips.  Make small balls/bites in the size you wish by either rolling between your palms or using a little cookie dough scoop.  I froze ours, and we just grab out a couple as needed.  They thaw within minutes on the counter but my husband loves them frozen.  I also cut them into quarters and added them to freshly churned homemade vanilla ice cream and cheesecakes.

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Homemade Sugar Free Sweetened Condensed Milk

Originally posted in 2015

 Last year I ( I posted) about my trial of the sugar free sweetened condensed mix I bought.  (Low Carb Condensed Milk Mix (Sweetened) - LC Foods)  It was not a hit.

Over the summer I tried a new homemade ice cream recipe that used a can of sweetened condensed milk.  I loved the recipe!  I did not love the sugar content.  So once again, the idea to make a sugar free version got under my skin.  I just have been too busy to actually do it.  But today was the day.  Determined to make a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream and a cherry dessert for my family, both of which could use my 'testing' products, I made 2 batches of the follow recipe.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 can Nestle Table Cream (Media Crema)
2/3 cup sweetener
2 T unflavored Whey Protein Powder (I use Isopure - zero carbs, zero sugar)
1-2 t vanilla extract

Whisk together and place over medium heat until smooth and thickened. Use in a recipe of choice or refrigerate. When you refrigerate it, it gets very, very thick, just like the 'real' sweetened condensed milk.  

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Greek Inspired Salad with Chicken from my Cosori Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)

Earlier this week I made a quick late lunch/dinner of a Greek inspired salad topped with chicken I quickly made in my electric pressure cooker.  I own a Cosori but I know most people bought the Instant Pot brand.  Same thing... you can use either or even the Bella brand, etc.

I used chicken thighs straight from the freezer, which resulted in more liquid, which I simply poured some off.  If you use thawed chicken it gives it a nicer crust.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

2 T butter
4 chicken thighs
1 t sea salt
3/4 t pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
2 T lemon juice
1 t mustard
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried oregano

Set your instant pot to saute' and heat the butter in it.  Season your chicken with the salt and pepper, and add it to the pot - skin side down to crisp the skin if you are using 'with skin'.  Add the garlic and cook 4 minutes until golden brown.  Flip and add the rest of the ingredients.  Cancel the saute' process.  Seal the lid and cook on manual for 10 minutes.  14 if your thighs were frozen to start with.  When it's finished, do a quick release on the valve.

Remove the chicken and let it set while you mix up a salad;

Lettuce, kalamata Greek olives, tomato, onion, feta, cucumbers...   add about 1/4 cup of the liquid from the instant pot to your salad - drizzling over it.  Top with the sliced, cooked chicken.

I didn't take photos of the chicken or the finished meal - but I did snap the salad while the chicken was cooking!  :)

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Cheesecake baked in my Instant Pot (Cosori - electric pressure cooker) Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake - Sugarfree and Low Carb

When eating sugar free and low carb, it seems cheesecakes are a dessert that is a 'fall back' dessert.  Need a last second dessert?  Craving something sweet?  Need a dessert to serve guests?  Bored and want to bake something?  Cheesecake.

I guess the best thing is that they can be made into literally any flavor you like.  You can even make them 'savory' with garlic, spinach, etc. if you wish.  But most are made sweet; and vanilla is a great default because you can top it with anything from chocolate to fruit, to jam, sprinkles, crumbs... whatever.  But also, play with the crust flavors and ingredients and of course, add layers or swirls to the filling.

SO many ways to play with a basic cheesecake recipe!

Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake 
- sugar free and low carb

4 T real butter
1 1/2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1/3 c granulated sweetener like Ideal, Swerve, Just Like Sugar, etc.
1 egg - beaten
2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
dash sea salt

Cinnamon Swirl:
6 T real butter
1/2 granulated sweeteners - mix 2-3 brands for best flavor
1 t vanilla
1 T cinnamon
dash sea salt

32 oz. cream cheese (that's 4 pkg. of 8 oz.)
3/4 c granulated sweeteners - Just Like Sugar, Swerve, Ideal, etc.
1/2 c unsweetened, original almond milk
1 t vanilla
1/4 t almond extract
dash sea salt
3 eggs

Wrap heavy aluminum foil around the outside of your springform pan.  (A 7" pan will usually fit in a 6 qt. instant pot or cosori cooker.)  You are wrapping it to keep water from seeping in.  Wrap the bottom and up the sides, making sure it doesn't rip.

Make the crust by melting the butter in a saucepan on the stove over medium low heat, adding the chocolate and stirring it to melt - be careful not to burn it.  Then add the sweetener, egg, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.  Remove from heat and stir to combine and thicken.  Spread this in the bottom of a 6 or 7 inch springform pan - one that fits in your instant pot.

Make the filling by beating the cream cheese smooth and slowly adding the sweeteners, milk, extracts and salt.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on low after each to mix in.  As soon as the filling is smooth, pour half of the batter over the crust in your springform pan.

Make the cinnamon swirl by heating the butter in a pan on the stove over high until it starts to caramelize by getting little brown flecks in it and starting to turn golden.  Quickly add the sweetener, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, whisking in briskly.  Remove from heat.  Let it cool slightly and it starts to thicken up.  Spoon half of this over the batter in your pan and use your spatula or a butter knife to swirl it in; cutting through and dragging the cinnamon through the filling.  Now pour the rest of the butter over, and then top with the last of the cinnamon filling.  Swirl it again with a spatula or knife.

Set a trivet in your Instant Pot or Cosori and add 1 cup of water.  

Pans are hard to lift out of a pressure cooker so use a long piece of aluminum foil to make a 'sling' or lift for it.  Pull out about 2 1/2 feet of foil and start to fold it up the long way so you are making a 2 inch wide 'rope' of sorts.  You want a long piece of foil that is about 2 inches wide so you can lay it across the inside bottom of your instant pot and still have it long enough to go up the two sides and have enough to grab with your hands.  

You will lay the aluminum foil 'sling' in your cooker, then put the springform pan with the cake over it.  Use the ends of your sling to lift the springform cake pan in and out of the instant pot.  

Cover your cheesecake pan with 3 pieces of paper towel - this is going to absorb condensation so all that excess water doesn't run into your cheesecake.  Tuck the ends of the aluminum foil sling inside and put the top of your Cosori or Instant Pot on.

Seal and set the timer for a manual cook time of 26 minutes.  Let the pressure release naturally when it's done.  Use the foil sling to lift the pan out.  Allow it to cool and then refrigerate it for at least 4-6 hours before serving.  It's best if you can chill it for 8-10.  I freeze mine!  On a hot summer day, a slice of frozen cheesecake is heavenly.

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Quick and Oh So Easy Stuffed Salmon - Salmon with Crab Cake Stuffing

I'm not sure if I've posted this one before or not, but I was glancing through my photos, saw these, and ironically, I'm making the same thing tonight so I decided it would be a great (and fast) fly-by post for An American Housewife today. 

Although I often make this for our own family, tonight I'm making it for a larger crowd because it's SO fast and SO easy but SO good.  It's like a more time consuming stuffed salmon, but using store bought items from Sam's Club, I whip this up in 5 minutes, put it in the oven and forget about it for 45-60 minutes and then... it's done and looks and tastes fabulous.

Tonight I am not sure how many people we'll be serving, as many guests are traveling in today from out of state to stay with us all weekend... but I'm guessing it will be about 9, as well as my husband and I.  For the rest of the weekend I'll be cooking for an average estimate of about 20+.  We won't ever know as we have some relatives staying with us and a lot more at hotels - but our home is "OPEN" to everyone all weekend. 

This afternoon, in the midst of the craziness, I'm simply going to throw this together, add some broccoli and some riced cauliflower, and serve a meal that looks like it took much longer than it did.

Easy Crab "Stuffed" Salmon

Salmon - fresh, skin on or off doesn't matter but skin on is cheaper and you can always peel it off later
Frozen Crab Cakes
Seasonings:  salt, pepper, butter, lemon pepper, Old Bay, etc. 

Cut the fresh salmon into portions if you didn't buy it already cut.  Lay them on a greased baking sheet or pan.  I foil line all my pans for easy clean up, that's the only reason you see foil in most of my photos. 

Place one frozen or thawed crab cake on each portion of salmon.  It takes longer to cook if they are still frozen, so I prefer thawed, but sometimes I make this at the last second and have to take them straight from the freezer.

Sprinkle with seasonings you like.  I like salt and pepper with some lemon pepper or Old Bay.

Dot with butter for flavor but if you don't like to use real butter, you can skip it.

Bake at 375 for about 45-60 minutes or until the crabcakes are done and golden brown and the salmon is done and starting to brown on the edges.  Serve with whatever vegetables or side dishes you prefer.

I have also grilled this instead of baking in the oven.  I use foil on the grill rack, grease well, and lay the salmon on.  Grill over medium until done.  The skin usually sticks to the foil so it makes it easy to peel right off as I'm transferring the portions to the plates.

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Fast and Easy Chicken Taco Soup in the Instant Pot (or Cosori, etc. brand instant pressure cooker)

The other night it was time to figure out what was for dinner, I had a couple chicken breasts thawed and needed something quick, but obviously also low carb (keto actually) and sugarfree.  I was craving sour cream and avocado so chicken taco's came to mind... and made with extra broth, was the perfect soup.

If you want to use taco seasoning from a packet - go ahead!  I do sometimes, other times I just throw together a bunch of seasonings.  This time I did the seasonings but you get the same results (or similar, depending on the amount of spice you use) by using store bought.

Fast and Easy Chicken Taco Soup

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 4 small breasts)
2 cups chicken stock (I use 2 cups water with 2 1/2  teaspoons chicken boullion
If you have leftover salsa to use up - you can add up to a cup of salsa if you wish
1 t fresh, minced or chopped garlic
1 T chili powder
2 t paprika
2 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 1/2 t cumin
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t oregano
1/4 - 1/2 t cayenne pepper, according to your own taste

Put everything in your instant pot, seal, and set it to manually cook for 10 minutes.  If your chicken breasts are still frozen when you put them in, do 20.  You can quick release when it's finished, and use two forks to pull the chicken apart and start to shred it into bite sized pieces.  Add a dash of lime juice if you wish.  Then ladle into bowls and serve with;

Shredded cheddar
Sour cream
Avocado slices

This can be made in your slow cooker or crock pot too!  Just cook on high for about 3 hours or low for about 6 - shred and serve.

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