10/3/22

Creamy Chicken with Spinach and Bacon - no cream cheese in this sauce

 



Typically I make this dish in various ways based on what I decide to throw in, but usually it includes cream cheese.  This time around I really did not want cream cheese in a sauce; I wasn't in the mood for it, as it's just so, so rich and I didn't want that rich of a sauce.   I left it out and we did not miss it a bit.  It was so, so very good.  Mr. Husband took all the leftovers to work with him the next day for lunch and told me three or four different times how much he really loved this dish.   I found that so funny because it's basically the same type dish I typically make; just sans cream cheese this time.
 
Creamy Chicken with Spinach and Bacon

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (6-8)
olive oil
butter
6 t minced garlic
1 small onion
1/3 c crumbled, cooked bacon
1 1/2 c half and half or heavy cream
2 handfuls fresh spinach or a handful sized helping of frozen, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 c parmesan cheese
dried red chili pepper flakes
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

In an instant pot cooker, heat to 'saute' setting, add the oil.  Salt and pepper the the chicken and sear it in the oil.  Add about 3/4 c water to the cooker, seal and cook about 8 minutes until done.  Release steam.  If you opt to cook them in a pan on the stove, heat the oil, season them and sear them in the pan.  Once they are seared, add about 1/2 cup water and continue to cook until done.  Remove them and the broth from the pan and set aside.

In the skillet place the butter, cook the onion for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Pour in the broth from the instant pot or the pan you cooked the chicken in.  Let this simmer to reduce a bit while you crisp the bacon pieces.  I use 'real bacon pieces' from the store and microwave them to crisp them but you can also dice or cook bacon slices and crumble them.  Add the bacon to the broth/onion/garlic mixture.

Add the half and half or cream and the seasonings to taste.  Add the spinach leaves, stirring gently to wilt them and mix in.  Add the parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes; let it simmer to reduce and thicken.

Spoon as much of the sauce over the chicken in your serving dish as you would like.  You can serve the extra sauce with the meal, as a topping for a side dish like mashed cauliflower or potatoes, or refrigerate it in an air tight container to use as a quick meal in a few days simply by cooking up some boneless chicken again and topping it.  






I made this dish because we had been out of town and had just returned home; I hadn't gone to the grocery store for fresh groceries yet and needed to use what we had on hand.  Thus, I used a red onion and some green onion instead of a yellow onion.


Adding the cream or half and half, and the rest of the ingredients


The spinach and parmesan

Stirring and letting simmer to thicken a bit








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9/25/22

Chicken Bacon Ranch Slider Sandwiches - (Low-Carb Keto option too)

 

 

Last night I wasn't sure what was going to be for dinner.  It was getting late and I needed to come up with a plan so I walked to the deep freezer and chose a package of chicken breasts.  I cooked them in the microwave in water with a tablespoon of chicken bouillon soup base and from there decided to make a 'slider' sandwich but a chicken, bacon ranch version.

We used keto buns but obviously any hamburger style bun will do. 
I didn't measure anything, and honestly, that's just the kind of recipe this is - you can play with all the amounts.  I'll try to do a guesstimate on some of the items to give you an idea but honestly, it's mostly just common sense mixed with a little whatever you like best.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Sliders

Cooked, diced chicken breasts - 2 or 3 depending on the size of yours
1 fresh tomato
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/2 c ranch dressing of choice
Cooked, crumbled bacon
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Hamburger Buns (I used Keto Culture brand since we are usually doing low-carb in our house)
Butter

To the cubed chicken breasts add the 1/2 c mayonnaise, fresh tomato diced, about 1/3 c crumbled cooked bacon pieces and about 2/3 c shredded cheddar.  Mix. If it's too dry add a little more mayo.  If you like more bacon or cheese - go ahead.  Less bacon or cheese?  Do that if you wish. 

Use some butter to heavily butter a baking pan.  Place the bottom bun in the buttered pan.  Top with scoops of the chicken mixture.  Heavily drizzle ranch dressing over the sandwiches and top with the bun.  Brush the tops with some of the butter, melted or even an egg wash if you wish.  Pop it into a 350 degree oven and bake about 15-17 minutes until heated through.

Extra chicken filling mixture is a perfect casserole, just tuck in along side the sandwiches to bake or just make more sandwiches with it.    The size of the pan you use depends on how many sliders you are making.  You can see we made 5 and heated the leftover chicken mixture separately as a casserole.



Here is the chicken cooked in some water and chicken bouillon.  You could also use emergency storage freeze dried chicken in this recipe which would be perfect and super quick and easy!

 


 

 

I always have crumbled real bacon on hand in the freezer, which I like to put on a paper plate and heat in the microwave to crisp up. 

 

Mixing up the filling; use more or less bacon and cheese and tomato based on what you prefer.



Scooping the filling onto the buns.



Top each slider with a dose of your favorite ranch dressing then put the top bun on, brush with melted butter and bake until heated through - about 15-17 minutes.










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Puff Pastry Cheese Bites

 
In July our extended family gathered for our annual vacation together.  We eat all our meals 'in house' during the week and invariably we always have foods leftover.  Much of it is divided up between families to take back with them depending on their eating styles, how far they are traveling, etc.  This year the Brie came back home with me and I had intended on serving it a couple times after that but I never did.

Last night I was determined to finally make the pastry wrapped Brie, and thawed the pastry out in anticipation of doing so.  Unfortunately it's been a few months since the vacation I bought it for, and it was no longer a mild, buttery, delicious brie.  It had turned.  Now it smelled more like the Westvleteren cheese gifted to my husband last Christmas that was so strong it filled the house with the smell of broccoli gone bad (but tasted much milder and more delicious than it smelled).  But no... the Brie (as I suspected)  was not good any longer so I tossed it.  

Now I had pastry to use and although I would have loved to whip up my favorite vanilla custard to polish cream cake out of it, I really had cheese on the brain.  I had just purchased white cheddar cheese curds the day before - perfect!

I just kind of made this up as I went along, but I enjoyed them and decided it is a finger food appetizer I could easily serve in the future - and I could add many different herbs or spices to change the flavor just a bit, as well as different dipping sauces.


 
Puff Pastry Cheese Bites

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and rolled out a bit
Cheese curds or mozzarella sticks cut to bite sized pieces
1 egg
1 t water
1/4 t salt
Sauce of choice to dip (marinara, ketchup, garlic butter, etc.)
 
 
 Roll the pastry out gently on parchment to seal the seams.  Cut into 24 pieces (6 rows of 4).
Place a cheese curd in the middle of each pastry and roll up and press to cover.
Beat the egg with water and salt to make an egg wash.
Brush the bites with the egg wash and bake on an ungreased non-stick baking sheet
at 375 until golden brown and puffed; about 17 minutes.
Some cheese might ooze out and brown; it pulls right off easily and leaves a pretty pastry cheese bite.

Good with garlic butter, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, ketchup, etc.

 
Cut the pastry into 24 pieces




A cheese curd on each rectangle
 






The egg wash helps them turn golden





The beaten egg wash ready to brush on the bites




Into the oven.......


Straight from the oven - hot and fresh.  The cheese that oozed out is easily snapped right off


Dipped in hot garlic butter
 


I added some hot garlic butter to ketchup and thought it was delicious with these!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9/24/22

Sugarfree Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe - trials using some powdered heavy cream and previously frozen almond milk from my emergency storage

This post has multi-levels of information! 

1)  A homemade sugarfree version of sweetened condensed milk
2)  A keto version of sweetened condensed milk
3)  Wanting to do a 'trial' recipe using previously frozen almond milk from my deep freezer
4)  Using some heavy cream powder from our emergency storage


In regular baking, there are many recipes that use sweetened condensed milk.  It's so easy to grab a can off the shelf and make the baked goods.... but not so easy when you are sugar free and/or keto or low carb. 

In 2015 I posted a recipe for a sugarfree keto version of sweetened condensed milk, followed up by a post in 2019 because it's so awesome to use in my favorite homemade keto ice creams.  (Links are in those two highlighted dates).

A few weeks ago I whipped up a batch of sugarfree sweetened condensed milk so I could have some on hand in the refrigerator for my favorite ice cream, cheesecake and bar recipes.  However, I had to play with my recipe to use things I had on hand since I was low on heavy cream and I wanted to try using previously frozen almond milk from my freezer storage. My heavy cream powder will be linked at the bottom of this post as well.


I believe in prepping for emergencies (if you follow me you already know that).  One of the things I've tested over the past 2 years is freezing things like whole milk, almond milk and heavy cream.   Milk freezes beautifully short term but I found heavy cream and almond milk separate.

My goal was to see if using previously frozen almond milk and powdered heavy cream powder could result in positive outcomes in cooked recipes (hoping the separation would come together or cook into the final product).  And it did.

Sweetened Condensed Milk - sugarfree

2 1/2 c heavy cream
1 c almond milk
1/2 c powdered sweetener mixture of 2-3 kinds; like monkfruit, erythritol and xylitol
1 T butter
1/4 t xanthan gum

In a saucepan, place the cream and milk and bring to a boil, reducing to medium low immediately.
Add the sweeteners, butter and xanthan gum.
Simmer, stirring, until it's thickened and reduces by half.
Let it cool down about 20 minutes and pour into sterile, glass jars
Store in the refrigerator



NOTES

This time I added the butter, sweetener and xanthan at the simmering stage instead of waiting til the end; no problems.

I only had a little bit of heavy cream so I substituted the Hoosier Hill Powdered.  I used the directions on the container (3/8 cup of powder to 1 cup water) but then added another tablespoon or so to make it nice and thick(er) for my use.

The big trial was my almond milk.  I wanted to know if I could stock up and save containers in the freezer.  It separates upon thawing and although you can shake and blend it and it comes together a little bit, it doesn't go back to the original state, which makes it gross to drink but seems to work beautifully in cooked items like this condensed milk, puddings, etc.  




You can see how the separated almond milk and the powder make a rather grainy liquid before cooking. No worries it was smooth as normal once it simmered!


This was a video that I took a photo from showing it being stirred while cooking

Thickening up!!  Smooth and perfect.

 


_____________________________

The almond milk I buy and freeze are the plastic containers I buy at Sam's Club.  They are grainy and separated upon thawing and I was afraid they were useless but in cooked goods, they turn out perfectly.

I mentioned my emergency storage heavy cream in the post above.  I have Hoosier Hill Farm's brand and it performs wonderfully.  I can't speak to other brands but I bought mine through Amazon along with a bunch of others I keep on hand. 

I went to my original Amazon order and linked the images and text below literally to the product page from my own personal order; these are the exact ones I use.


Hoosier Hill Farm Heavy Cream Powder

 

Cheddar Cheese Powder

 

  

Whole Milk Powder

 

 

Real Butter Powder

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9/7/22

Homemade Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup - (THIS ONE!!!!)

 


This is my all-time favorite chicken noodle soup that I've been making for about 10 years now as it replaced my previous favorite chicken noodle soup recipe.  I've had the recipe in my files for about 25 years - but only regularly started to make it about 10 years ago. 

You would think I knew the recipe by heart, but because I only try to make it when I have keto or low carb pasta on hand, and typically only in the fall and winter... I don't know it by heart.  Too much time passes between making it.

The reason I put *THIS ONE* in the headline is for me

Because one day about 3 years ago, I was organizing my 452,732 recipes in my kitchen and I put the paper with the recipe in it into a 'new' 3 ring binder I was making.  I told myself I would absolutely remember where it was. But sure enough, the next time I wanted to make it, I couldn't find it.

I have it posted here on my site as well. But could I bring it up in the search quickly?  Nope.  And sometimes google search does that to me.  I know I have a lot of recipes posted that are impossible to find quickly with their search. 

I randomly find the recipe at other times when I'm looking for something else... because, of course I do.

But as of yesterday I have a new copy of it in my 'go-to' recipe book that lives on the kitchen counter and not in the recipe book pantry;  I also am putting it here on the site with THIS ONE in the heading so I can hopefully find it quick and easy next time I want it.

Originally, this was an old 'grandma' recipe that used homemade pasta/noodles. I love it made that way best of all, but since we are usually low carb/keto, I try to use the store bought keto and low carb pastas when I make it.  However, having said that, sometimes it's TOTALLY worth it to me to make the original version with homemade pasta because homemade noodles (and dumplings) are a life-long favorite food of mine since I was literally about a year old.  Sometimes I decide the carbs are worth it and make it original, but other times I cut down on the carbs and use low carb pastas.  Use whatever pasta you like. 

Egg noodle style pastas work best with this one.

(Amounts are approximate - use as much or little as you wish.  I use more celery when I don't use carrot, etc.  and I typically use 1/4 c half and half instead of 1/2 c milk because we don't have milk on hand but we usually have cream and half and half because we are primarily low carb.  See how you can play with this recipe?  But don't leave out the milk and butter, it's part of the delicious flavor of it.)

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken breasts
water
salt
1 T chicken bouillon paste/base or a couple cubes
1/2 c diced fresh onion
1/2 c diced fresh celery
1/2 c carrot (left out to make lower carb)

1/4 c butter
1/2 c milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 c noodles


Cook 2-3 chicken breasts in a pan of water (usually about 6 cups), along with about 1/2 cup of onions, celery and some carrots if you are using them.  Simmer until done.  Remove the chicken and dice it up, and add back into the pan. 

Add the bouillon and noodles.  Simmer until the noodles are just tender but not yet soft.  Add the butter, milk and soup.  Salt and pepper according to your taste.

Let simmer on low - but don't let it boil - about 4-5 minutes more and serve.

 

 

Notes

I like to use leftover chicken or pre-cooked chicken to make this even faster.  I regularly precook chicken breasts in my instant pot and food seal them for the deep freezer for an easy meal later.

You can use rotisserie chicken you've bought from the store as well.  But if you use already heavily seasoned chicken (like the rotisserie style) don't use any bouillon soup base or paste and don't salt and pepper until you've tasted it at the end before serving.  This also changes the flavor from the original recipe - it's not bad - but it's not the original flavor.

This is amazing with homemade noodles.  If you are low carb or keto you have to use a store bought low carb pasta to make this, but I often decide it's totally worth it to make my original version, which used homemade, flour based pasta.  It's one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.

I like to use the Great Low Carb Bread Company pasta for the lowest carb count - but I have to order those online and I can find the higher carb Carb-Nada pasta locally so sometimes I am desperate and buy it - even though I know it has a higher carb count.  It's still lower than traditional pasta and I LOVE pasta so it's worth it to me.  The Carb Nada version is what is in the photo in this post.   







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9/6/22

Sugarfree Cinnamon Spice Cookies (made with almond flour so they are low carb too)

 

 

Due to the use of a brown sugar style natural sweetener and the cinnamon and sweetener mixture that these cookies are rolled in before baking, they do look a little dark brown in the first photo, but don't let that deter you the dark color from the cinnamon and brown sweetener doesn't mean burnt.  (I think I got busy and ignored them baking as well, so this particular pan probably stayed in about 3-4 minutes too long.  I made 3 pans of cookies but I hate taking photos while I'm baking so if I snap one... that's what you get!  Keepin' it real... LOL.)

Cinnamon Spice Cookies - Keto and SugarFree

1/2 c butter, soft
1/2 c almond butter
1 c brown sugar style natural sweetener
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 c almond flour
2 T coconut flour
2 T plain gelatin powder granules
2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger powder
1/8 t cloves
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

1/2 c natural sweetener
1/2 t cinnamon

Beat the butter, almond butter and sweetener until fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients:  almond flour, coconut flour, gelatin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking soda and salt.  Mix well. 

Scoop out 1" balls and roll them in a mixture of the 1/2 c natural sweetener and cinnamon.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  

Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes and as soon as you take them out,  gently press the cookies down just a little with the back of a spatula to flatten them a bit if they are rounded.  Let them set for about 3-4 minutes on the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool.

*Brown sugar substitutes would include products like Swerve Brown or Besti Wholesome Yum Brown (you can find Swerve locally most of the time, but you can also order both online through Amazon of course.)


 







 






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9/4/22

Homemade Playdoh! So soft! Not gritty, no salt needed... just 2 ingredients

 

I've posted a couple versions of homemade playdoh through the years since in our family, I've always made it.  Heck, my MOM always made it!  When I was little, we almost never, ever got store bought playdoh.  I remember it was such a thrill when we did!  I loved the smell of real Play-Doh... but 99.99% of the time you would find the salt dough version in our home because it was quick and easy for my Mom to make.

Invariably, it would be red.  LOL.  Once in a great, great while she might get a little crazy and make us green or blue, but almost without fail she always made homemade play dough red.  

I've usually used food color to make our salt dough versions, I also have made various Kool-Aid versions of homemade play dough but this one is even easier because it just used two ingredients... and you don't cook it.

I love it because I can use up the little bits of lotion left in the various containers that I don't want to throw away, but I don't really use anymore.   It doesn't last long (it stays very soft, but it gets crumbly) but it's a fun dough to add to your 'playdough' recipes.

 

Homemade Play Dough

Lotion
Corn Starch

For every 1/2 cup lotion use about 1 cup corn starch.
Mix together in a bowl starting with a stiff spatula or the back of a spoon.

You can add a few drops or dabs of any food color at this point if you wish.  You can use disposable gloves to mix it initially to keep the color off your hands - or mix knead it through a Ziploc baggy until it's incorporated.  Once it's mostly worked in, it won't color your fingers or hands any longer.

Start to knead it with your fingers once it's mixed and starting to be dough like.  It might look crumbly, but work with it and knead it before you add any more lotion or corn starch.  It will come together into a dough quickly. 
 
At the very end, I put about 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil on my hands and rubbed them together, then finished kneading the dough (instead of adding another bit of lotion).

Wrap in Saran wrap and place into a Ziploc, or another airtight container. 


 
I had 3 lotions to use up in this batch.  I had about a tablespoon of one, a bit more of another and about 1/4 cup of a third.


I scooped the lotions into a plastic mixing bowl. 
My goal was to have about 1/2 cup of lotion and that's about what I ended up with.



I scooped in about 3/4 cup of corn starch


Start mashing.  It was a little dry so I added the last tablespoon of another lotion!


It seems dry and crumbly at first but then it suddenly starts to come together to form dough

 
I wanted to leave most of it plain white, but I added some sprinkles to one bit of it
(the little round sprinkles you put on sugar cookies!)

As I kneaded it, they turned to a cute rainbow tie-dye look.



We have empty Play-Doh containers since the store bought version dries out so quickly.
If you have any store bought 'doh' on hand and it's old and crumbly, just save your containers when you throw it out.  :)










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 - As an Amazon Associate I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. -- American Housewife at Amazon





 

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