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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

I have been craving a great veggie burger, and just not finding it anywhere, so I got into the kitchen, looked at what I had on hand and came up with my own recipe. I love it and the boys love it, we had it for lunch yesterday and these veggie burgers are delicious!  It is hard to buy a great veggie burger that is gluten free and dairy free.  I haven't found one yet, so having this recipe now is just so wonderful for me! I hope you enjoy it as well!

1 1/2 cups mashed black beans
2 cups cooked rice (brown or white will work fine)
1 shredded carrot
1 small onion minced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cups corn
1 large egg
1 TBSP tamari
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 cup tapioca starch
S&P to taste

Saute the carrot and onion in about 1 tbsp Olive Oil until onions are just lightly browned.  Add the cooked onion and carrot to a bowl with all the other ingredients.  Stir well and let sit for just 2-3 minutes to set up a little. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form the mixture into about 5 large patties.  This is NOT hamburger so you will not be flattening it out in your hand like a regular hamburger.  Just take a spoon and spoon some on the pan and form it into a round patty on the parchment paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min, then turn them over and bake 15 more minutes.  Delicious!

One note:  For the black beans, I did not want a paste, so didn't want to use the food processor, and the hand masher was just not working so what I ended up using was my pastry mixer.  I use that little item for so much, it also works great for prepping the boiled eggs for an egg salad.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chocolate Truffles

OK this is an easy peasy recipe!  A friend shared it with me and I am SOOOO glad she did, the boys loved them and loved making them.

Chocolate Truffles

2-12 oz packages of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
cocoa powder/shredded coconut/sprinkles

On med heat add the chocolate chips to a small sauce pan and melt.  I did not use my double boiler, this was fast and simple.  Might even be able to melt in the microwave, I didn't try that.  Once melted reduce the heat to Lo.  Add the cream and stir until it is well incorporated.  Take off the heat and let it sit until cold and almost firm, I just put it in the refrigerator for a while.  Form into balls and roll in your favorite coating.  I really loved the cocoa.  Bite into the truffle and you get that bitterness of the cocoa followed by the sweet of the soft inside!  My boys enjoyed the coconut ones but said the ones with sprinkles were just "OK".  YUM!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pasta Pie

I have several recipes to post, older recipes that we have not eaten really since we moved back to the States in 1997.  But I am digging out old recipes and bringing them back.  The boys love them, Jackson and I love them, it's a win-win!

This one is Pasta Pie.  The original recipe is from a cookbook we bought in Germany, Low-Fat Vegetarian Cookbook.  But I have adapted the recipe, just a little, to suit our family.

Here is our recipe:

1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic minced
3 cups cold cooked spaghetti
pinch S&P

Preheat a 9 inch glass pie plate (or I have a shallow baking dish I use) in a 500 degree oven.  I just stick the dish in the oven while it is preheating.  By the time I have the ingredients mixed, it is all hot.

Mix all the above ingredients well.  Oil the pie plate just a little, be careful it is hot.  I use an oil sprayer I bought from Pampered Chef to spray O Oil around the dish.  Pour the mixture in the pie plate, and put it in the 500 degree oven for 25 minutes.  It will be a little brown on top.  You probably don't "have to" preheat the dish, but it really helps to get a nice crust on the bottom.

While this is cooking, in a sauce pan add:

3 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
2 minced cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1-1/2 tsp sugar
pinch S&P

Heat this up.  When the pie is cooked, slice and top with a little of the sauce.  Delicious!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I haven't posted in a while so thought I would show you what I have been up to lately.  As I mentioned before I have turnips in the garden, so I harvested the larger ones and decided to try preserving turnips.  What I will do with these turnips is yet to be determined, since I have not been able to find "wonderful" recipes for turnips.  But I hate to see them go to waste.  In searching out the best preservation method for turnips, I found some people can turnips, and most freeze them.  Freezer space is limited so I decided to freeze only about 1/2 and then can the rest.  Shelf space is more plentiful.  I will see which method I prefer.  But I had a LOT of turnips!!

I still have many more fresh in the garden along with lettuce and radishes for the moment.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fall Harvest Chowder

This is NOT my recipe, but I am copying it here in case the page disappears in the future.  This is so delicious.  I doubled the recipe, except the vegetable broth, I used 6 cups of broth total.  I also used 4 carrots, so more than doubled.   I also used 4 sweet potatoes since I had some from my garden!  And dh really enjoyed just a spoon of sour cream on top with some tortilla chips, and I used tortilla chips, and a little crumbled goat cheese in place of the sour cream.  The soup without the sour cream or goat cheese was just really sweet.  Too sweet for me.  But with my changes I LOVED IT!  You can find the recipe at THIS web site.  And here is the youtube video of the complete meal, including this dish.

1 ~ Fall Harvest Chowder*
Serves 8
6 cups vegetable broth or water
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 small zucchini, diced
1 (16-oz.) package frozen corn
2 small garnet yams, peeled and diced
4 bay leaves
2 tsp. dried thyme
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1. Over medium-high heat, sauté onion, carrot, and celery in [1/2] cup vegetable broth until slightly browned, approximately 5-10 minutes.
2. Add remaining vegetables, broth or water, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaves from soup and blend with immersion blender until mostly pureed. Add spinach leaves and turn off heat. Serve hot.
*Original recipe by Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quick Quinoa Salad

I had some left over quinoa in the refrigerator so I decided to whip up a quick salad type of dish for lunch one day.  It was delicious and I will be making this again!

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 onion minced
2 celery spears chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
1 cup corn
2 cups cooked garbanzos
1/2 cup veggie broth
2-3 Tbsp your favorite Italian dressing

Cook the onion, celery and bell peppers in the vegetable broth, covered on med/high heat,  for about 5 minutes, until onion is translucent.  Add corn, garbanzos and quinoa, stir and cook for just a couple of minutes, covered, until everything is hot.  Take off the heat, and add Italian dressing.  Mix well and serve warm (also great cold).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Potato Pancakes

We had this dish with a salad last night for supper.  A new recipe for us and the boys, all 3, loved it.  So this will go on our menu list.  The original recipe came from a book that has been on my shelf for a long time.  The Complete Book of Vegetarian Cooking.  I just looked and the copyright is 1997, I think I picked this up at the post book store in Germany.  I like the book a lot, every recipe has a picture.  I so enjoy cookbooks with pictures, I guess I eat with my eyes long before I taste the food, LOL.  I find it hard to read a recipe and be able to see what I think it will look like when it is finished.

Anyway back to the recipe, I changed it a bit so here is my adaptation:

1 small onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 TBSP Olive Oil
3 medium potatoes grated
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 tsp oregano
pinch S&P
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 TBSP Peanut Oil

First I heated the O Oil in a pan and cooked the onion and garlic just a bit, maybe 5 min.  I did not brown the onion.  Then I added the potatoes, thawed corn, oregano, S&P, eggs and 1/4 cup cheese into a bowl and stirred.  Then add the onion and garlic to the bowl.  Make sure this is all mixed will.  Add the peanut oil to an oven safe pan.  Heat on the stove at a medium heat.  This mixture will make 4 large "pancakes" or fritters, not sure exactly what to call them.  Spoon 1/4 of the mixture into the pan and shape into a pancake with your spatula, do the same until you have 4 good sized pancakes in your pan.  Let this cook covered for just a couple of minutes, then decrease the heat to Lo, and let it cook, covered, for about 10-15 minutes.  I used a lo heat so the bottom would not burn but the potatoes would be cooked through.  Check a couple of times to make sure nothing is burning.  When the top is soft to touch, OK so be careful, but this was the only way I could test to see if the potatoes were cooked, add the last 1/4 cup cheese to the top of the pancakes and put the pan in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Serve hot.  They were delicious!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Turnip Side Dish

With this dish I was actually searching out turnip recipes.  I have turnips in the garden now and want to use them, but know they can be a challenge.  I do remember that much from my childhood.  My mother would cook them up and just add a little butter and some S&P, and I remember choking down that strong vegetable.

So I looked at a few recipes and decided to sort of follow the recipe on this page.  Although I did alter it a bit.  Here is my adaptation:

-about 3-3 1/2 cups of turnip, peeled and cut into bite size cubes
-2 carrots sliced
-water to just cover the turnip and carrots
-1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid
-1 diced onion
-2 tbsp O Oil
-1/2 cup milk
-2 tbsp flour
-s&p to taste
-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Simmer the turnip and carrots in water for about 10-15 minutes until done.  Strain and reserve the liquid.  In a pan, add the O Oil and the diced onion, cook until the onion is translucent but not browned.  Add the flour, S&P and mix well.  Now add 1 1/2 cups of the hot reserved cooking liquid.  Mix this well, let it come to a boil and it will thicken.  Add the milk and stir.  Now pour the thickened mixture back over the turnips and carrots.  Add the shredded cheese and turn to mix everything.  Let it sit for just a few minutes for the cheese to melt and serve.

It was delicious, my dh really enjoyed this dish.  Phil liked it and Dallen did not.  I think for Dallen the taste of the turnip was just too much for him, it still has that bite to it, but not nearly as strong with the cheese mixture in there.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why Lovin' the McRib Isn't Heart Smart

An eye opening article for my meat loving friends.  Although really the meat loving friends I have are not "into" McDs.  But if you should read this first, just so you know what you are putting into your body!

In part the article reads:
"Blink and it's gone. The ephemeral McRib sandwich appears at McDonald's infrequently and only for a limited time. If you haven't indulged in one yet, here's what you're missing: azodicarbonamide, ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80 — those are just three of the 70 ingredients (34 in the bun alone) that go into the BBQ pork sandwich, according to the restaurant's website...."

More Chicken Tractor

As promised, here is a picture of the completed Chicken Tractor in use.  They are really enjoying it!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Chicken Tractor

We have a small chicken tractor,  but it really isn't meant for cooler weather and we can't keep baby chicks in it, just not warm enough. So Jackson and I put our heads together and came up with this new design.  It is strong enough to hold up for at least a few years, light enough to be pulled by our tractor.  It is water tight, so no wet chicks!  And has just a bit of ventilation at the top.  So no cold breezes!  It is tall enough for me to stand up in, in the center, and we can add a heating light if we need it (which we do right now).  Easy to clean out (bonus!), and the chickens are loving it.  We recycled a small trailer that a guy had for sale for very cheap, it used to hold an old generator.  It is a bit taller than I wanted but the chickens are having no trouble getting in and out.

Right now we have broilers in it, and we are using the mesh poultry fencing to keep out dogs.  The broilers will be old enough to be processed in about another 3 weeks.  And I am hoping in the spring to use it for chicks, I will need to get more broilers, followed by more layers.  So this is a great addition to the farm.  The boys and I just need to get out there with paint brushes.

I will take more pictures later on today so you can see the "chicken steps", and see the tractor in use!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


OK so today my oldest son, Dallen, and I wanted some hummus, and since I just cooked up garbanzo beans yesterday decided to make our own.  Here is what we came up with after looking at lots of recipes online, and adapting them to our own tastes.

-5 cups cooked garbanzo beans
-3/4 cup tahini
-1/2 cup lemon juice
-2 1/2 tsp salt
-6 crushed cloves of garlic
-3 TBSP Olive Oil
-1 pinch paprika
-1/2 cup water (add water until you reach the consistency you like)

Dallen really loves the lemon flavor, if I were making it just for me, I would probably decrease the lemon juice just a bit.  He took 1/2 of the mixture out of the food processor for himself at this point.  Then I added:

-1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
-1/2 tsp onion powder

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Banana Bread

OK I am giving out my mom's Banana Bread recipe.  Everyone always loves this bread (well except Jackson, he doesn't like anything with bananas).  So here it is.  It is simple, and (I think) the key is to bake it low and slow:

3 mashed bananas
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter, I use earth balance and that works equally well
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts, optional (I leave these out)

Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes.  My mom's recipe says 1 hour, but my oven takes 1 hour 15 minutes.

If you have small bananas use 4.

Very moist and tasty!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vegetarian Fajitas

I wanted to make fajitas the other day and didn't want to use the prepackaged seasoning mix.  I wondered if I could find a home made recipe that would be equal to or better than the restaurant mix.  For my family it does have to taste good.  :-)  So I searched out a few recipes and then adjusted to fit our family and came up with a great seasoning.  Last night we had veggie fajitas!  YUM!  This recipe could easily be adjusted for any vegetables you wanted to toss in or even chicken.  But green peppers are plentiful in my garden right now so that is primarily what I used!

-2 red bell peppers sliced
-2 green bell peppers sliced
-2 med sized onions halved and sliced
-2 cups cooked black beans
-2 cups vegetable broth
-3 TBSP homemade fajita seasoning
-1 tsp corn starch in about 2 TBSP water
-flour or corn tortillas
-toppings (we used lettuce and sour cream)

Combine the sliced peppers, sliced onions and vegetable broth into a large saute pan.  Cover and simmer about 10 minutes.  Add the black beans and fajita seasoning.  Bring up to a simmer and add the corn starch mixed in the water.  Stir for 1 minute, it will thicken just a little bit.

Serve with the toppings and let everyone make their own wraps.

This is a picture of the pepper mixture, doesn't it just look delicious!  And the second pic is my sons fajita!  The family loved them, will definitely be making them again.
Here is the fajita seasoning mixture:
2 TBSP Chili Powder
1 TBSP Salt
1 TBSP Paprika
1 TBSP Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Cumin

(if you like it spicier you can add more cayenne)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Garden

I have had such an abundant summer, loved the garden, loved being in the garden, loved all the fresh veggies!  And Fall is turning out just as wonderful.  I have radishes ready for harvest, and beets as well.  Turnips that are almost ready and lettuce for salad.  That is what has grown from the seeds I planted a month or so ago.  YUM!  Now I am looking for delicious turnip recipes to try.

From my summer garden I am still harvesting peppers!  Gotta love the peppers, and in the picture you can see 4 different varieties of peppers from my garden this morning.  I also picked a colander full of fresh basil.  Will make pesto with that later on today.  I think I will freeze some of the peppers, that has worked well in the past.  I do need to go back out today and pick all the green tomatoes I have.  I can sit them on my kitchen shelves and watch them ripen.  It is getting cooler at night and we will be having a frost soon, so I want to harvest everything that needs to be picked before then.  Hmmmm, now what to have for supper, so many possibilities!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A River of Waste

I have been happily staying home the last couple of days, enjoying time to just the moment. Have finished up a couple of knitting projects, worked on a Halloween costume for one son, and watched a couple of documentaries that have been on my queue for a while.  Today I watched River of Waste: The Hazardous Truth about Factory Farms.   I have known about the CAFOs, thought I knew quite a bit about them.  As a result of my knowledge we have decided to raise our own chickens for eggs and meat as well as purchase local grass fed beef, etc.  We have opted out of the industrialized meat industry.

But watching this movie really opened my eyes even wider.  This movie goes over every aspect of CAFOs.  More than I ever expected.  There are a few scenes of chicken processing, but all in all not a much visual "grossness" at all.  But the details are very "gross" and will definitely make you think.  I highly recommend this movie if you want to know more about CAFOs.  Or if you eat meat from CAFOs.  You should know what you are eating.  This movie is on Netflix, instant watch.

Here is the blurb from Netflix:  "Learn the shocking truth behind factory farms -- gigantic breeding grounds for meat and poultry -- in this documentary that details how the practice wreaks havoc on the environment and on consumers' health. Through disturbing footage and interviews with experts, director Don McCorkell paints a disturbing portrait of a food system that uses hormones, antibiotics and arsenic to increase its output with little regard for the damage it causes."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Deconstructing Supper

I just finished watching another documentary about food.  This was from the perspective of a chef who starting out knowing very little about genetically modified foods, and what he gains from the whole learning process, how it changes him, on a personal and professional level.  If you are new to the concept of GMOs this is a great movie to start with, it gets down to the basics of science, and agriculture.

Here is the little blurb from Netflix:  "On a personal quest to understand our food choices, acclaimed chef John Bishop travels around the world exploring where genetically modified crops come from, whether they may be harmful and what alternative options currently exist. Through interviews with farmers, scientists and activists, this thought-provoking documentary offers substantial insight into the nuts and bolts of global food production."

It is a short film, but informative, and instant watch on Netflix.

Quick and Easy Slow-Cooker Mexican Dish

I don't have a name for this dish and am trying to remember exactly what I put in it.  I was on my way out the door, and knew I wouldn't be home until supper time or later, so I threw some things in my crock pot that sounded like they might go together and go well over rice.  This is a "left over" picture.  We were so hungry when we *did* get home that I forgot to take a picture until my son wanted it for lunch the next day.

1 package Quorn fake chicken chunks
2 cups pinto beans
1-1 1/2 cups kidney beans
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 jar salsa
1/2-3/4 cups ranch dressing
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup shredded 4 cheese Mexican blend of cheeses
1-2 TBSP home made taco seasoning

Slow Cooker on low for 4-6 hours.
I added about 1/4 cup of sour cream and stirred that in right before serving.  Serve over rice.  It was delicious, and VERY easy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


It is such a feeling of abundance to be eating the "fruits of your labor".  Just knowing that the family is getting the very best food we can provide, food we have grown, raised, harvested, processed ourselves.  No preservatives needed.  So last night was a ZERO mile meal, everything we ate (with the exception of any salt and pepper) came from our own property, from our garden, from our chickens.

Chicken, green beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets.  YUM!  Delicious meal!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vegetarian Masa Slow Cooker Dish

This dish is an easy dish that my family loves, although this last time my oldest said it was a little too hot for his taste.  I toss it in the crock pot around noon and it is done by supper time.

1 onion diced
2 celery stalks diced
2 carrots diced
1 red bell pepper diced
2 TBSP olive oil
3 cups of chopped broccoli, I use stems and all
1 potato diced
2 cups crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
2 TBSP garam malasa mix
1/8-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on your taste for heat
S&P to taste
3 cups cooked rice

Saute the onion and olive oil in a sauce pan (this step isn't essential but I like to brown up the onion just a bit before adding it to the Slow Cooker.  Add onion and all other ingredients, except rice, to the slow cooker, mix, cook for about 5-6 hours on low. Serve over rice.  I used just under 1/2 tsp of cayenne with this batch, husband loved it, youngest son said it was good but maybe just a little "hot", oldest son said it was too "hot" for him.  So next time I think I will use 1/4 tsp and let my husband add just a pinch more to his own plate.

I also like to substitute cauliflower for the broccoli, you could use any number of veggies.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Garam Masala

This is my Garam Masala mix, I don't have access to the "seeds" for the most part so I use ground spices, and keep it mixed in a small plastic dish ready to use when I want it.

4 TBSP coriander
1 TBSP plus 1 tsp cumin
1 TBSP black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp cardamom
3/4 tsp cloves
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp crushed bay leaves

After making this recipe for a while, I have since added 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp onion powder to my garam masala

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Corn and Bean Salsa

-I wasn't sure what to call this.  I wanted something quick for the boys and I for lunch, didn't want to go to the grocery store so just hunted around for what we had in the house.  It is a salsa, but not in the hot and spicy variety of salsa.

-1 1/2 cups corn
-2 cups cooked black eyed peas
-2 cups cooked black beans
-1/4 cup chopped tomatoes (I think it would be nice with more, but my boys are not a fan of tomatoes)
-1 diced onion
-3 garlic cloves minced
-2 TBSP chopped cilantro
-2 TBSP good Italian Dressing

Toss it all up and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.  I served it with corn tortillas and tortilla chips.  We ate on it all day long.  Delicious.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Black Bean Burritos and Spanish Rice

Let me see if I can remember how I made these, they were delicious!  It is another recipe I cut out of a magazine about 15 years ago, adapted and used quite a bit then it just kind of faded, I stopped making it.  Not sure exactly why, but I am renewing it now.  :-)

Black Bean Burritos
2 cups cooked black beans
1 1/2 cups corn
1 onion diced
1 celery stalk diced
1/2 bell pepper diced
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (I used my canned tomato sauce which is a little chunkier than store bought tomato sauce)
2 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
tortillas (flour or corn would work)
about 1/4 cup 4 cheese blend, or cheddar cheese
2 TBSP Olive Oil

Saute the onion, celery and green pepper just a bit until onions are translucent.  In a bowl combine the onion, celery and green pepper mixture along with the tomato sauce, black beans, corn and spices and mix.  Spoon onto tortilla, add just a small sprinkling of cheese (or no cheese if you are dairy free) and wrap.  Line on a baking sheet and bake 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until hot.

Spanish Rice
1 onion diced
1 celery stalk diced
1/2 bell pepper diced
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 TBSP Home made taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups rice (brown or white)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

Saute the onion, celery and bell pepper in Olive Oil just until the onion is translucent.  Add to a stock pot, along with the taco seasoning, rice, water, and vegetable broth.  Cook according to rice package directions.  White rice will take only 15-20 minutes to cook, where brown rice will take longer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Multi Grain Pancakes

This is a recipe I found YEARS ago, like maybe 15 year or so.  I used to make it all the time, and somehow got out of the habit.  But it is so delicious.  So I dug it out from my recipe archives and the boys still enjoy it as much as they used to.  It will once again be a "go to" recipe in this house.

1 egg
2 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP honey
1 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup corn meal
3 tsp baking powder

Just mix all the ingredients together and let it sit for a few minutes.  If you find that the batter is a bit too "thick" just add a little more milk.

That's it, easy to make, delicious and much more nutritious than a pancake mix.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Wraps

This was a "wing it" recipe.  I knew what I was going for, something sort of like tacos, that could be done in the slow cooker and made up as the boys came in from the beach.  Overnight I cooked a whole chicken, in the morning I took the meat off the bones and pulled it apart.  Then add to the slow cooker:

-pulled chicken meat
-4 cups tomato sauce
-1 can diced green chilies
-1 onion diced and sauteed just a bit
-2 TBSP home made taco seasoning

Cook on low for 2 hours.  I had out cut up tomato, lettuce, sour cream, cheddar cheese and flour tortillas.  So they could make up their own wraps when they wanted.  I turned the slow cooker onto the warm setting to keep the meat warm.  I had a small taste and it was delicious!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth

When we lived in Germany I made home made vegetable broth all the time, I never bought broth.  Not sure how I did it with a toddler and baby, but I did and I loved it.  I guess as the boys got older and we were out and about more, doing activities, going on hikes, etc, I just didn't have as much time to do those things.  I started buying organic vegetable broth.  It became easy.  But I am back to making my own now.  I had forgotten how lovely it is to smell the broth brewing all day, how much I love the flavor.  So here is my recipe:

Really I have no recipe, LOL.  I use whatever vegetables I have on hand, what looks good in the garden, the farmer's market or the grocery store.  I generally always start with onion, celery and carrot, I always have that on hand.  Yesterday I also added a turnip, a green and a red pepper, some garlic and mushrooms.

I chop everything up into large chunks.  With the garlic I use the whole head, in this batch I used two.  And I cut the head in 1/2 across the cloves, so that the cloves are all cut in half.  Hope that makes sense.  I oil a cake pan with some olive oil and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until the veggies are a little brown and smelling delicious.  Dump all the veggies into a 7 quart slow cooker and add enough water to bring the level up to 5 quarts.  Cook on low for about 7-9 hours.  The whole house smells so delicious after this!  Strain out the veggies.  Pour the broth into clean, hot, quart canning jars and pressure can at 10 pounds of pressure for 35 minutes.  Makes 3 quarts.   I use my broth in so many things, soups, when I am cooking and need just a little liquid, instead of water I grab broth.  So handy to have already prepared.  You could also pour into ice cube trays.  Freeze, then put the broth cubes into a baggie to crab when you need them.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

BBQ Pulled Chicken/BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches

I wanted to try something new, and had been watching Food Network, so I decided to do BBQ type of sandwiches for supper a couple of nights ago.  Didn't know if the boys would like it, but they loved it!!  Let me give you my recipe for the filling here and I will post my roll recipe another day.

Here are pictures of the sandwiches:

For the first sandwich, I cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker for 9 hours on low, I have the recipe for that here.  Once that was done I used my fingers and a couple of forks to shred the chicken and I put it into a smaller slow cooker with 1 1/2 cups of my BBQ sauce for another 2 hours on low.

For the second picture, when the chicken was almost all done I took a package of organic Tempeh, and cut it into small chunks, then stir fried it in about 3 TBSP Olive Oil, I added about 2 TBSP of oil to the pan to start the stir fry, but the tempeh does suck up the oil, so I added a little more about 1/2 way through.  I just kept turning the tempeh until it was golden brown.  Then I added about 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce, tossed it all together and it was finished and ready for sandwiches.

Here is my BBQ sauce recipe:
3/4 C diced onion
2 TBSP olive oil
1 C ketchup
1/2 C vegetable broth
1/2 C molasses
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 TBSP lime juice
1 TBSP tamari sauce
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP mustard
1 TBSP thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
couple *shakes* of hot sauce

This is a mild sauce, if you like it hot you could add chopped jalapenos or more hot sauce.  In a sauce pot add onion and olive oil, stir fry the onion just a bit, then add all the other ingredients.  Let it come to a boil, stirring continuously.  Remove from heat and it is done!  Really easy.  Makes about 2 cups.  Be sure to read ingredients!  If you are eating gluten free, there is a gluten free Worcestershire sauce out there, use organic ingredients when you can.  If you have time, make your own ketchup.  I really wanted to make my own but didn't have the time that day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Chai Recipe

2 quarts water
4 cinnamon sticks
8 slices ginger (thinly sliced)
16 whole cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
dash of nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
6-8 of your favorite black tea, tea bags (I use 8 but that might be too strong for some), if it is a combination of black and another tea use 8.  If I am using loose tea, I generally use 3 TBSP of tea leaves.

Bring all of this to a boil in a large stock pot, reduce the heat just a bit and simmer for 5 minutes.  Strain immediately.  I use 1 part chai with 1 part soy, almond or coconut milk.  This recipe is so easy to adjust to your liking, if you like it sweeter use a bit more honey or sugar.  Like a stronger ginger flavor just add more ginger etc.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Brownies

 I love this brownie recipe, it is easy, and tastes so delicious. And today I used dark chocolate cocoa so they have such a cool look. The dark chocolate cocoa with the chocolate chips is a wonderful combination, rich taste with a sort of stained glass look when you cut into them.
Here is the recipe:
1 1/2 C sugar
3/4 C Cocoa powder
3/4 C flour
3/4 C chocolate chips
3/4 C butter (I use Earth Balance)
3 eggs
Mix all ingredients, spread in 9X13 pan, bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting (that is the hardest part)

Chicken Broth

I generally make chicken broth whenever I cook a whole chicken.  After I have cleaned all the meat off the bones I take that extra step to make the broth.  I use it when I make chicken soup, and you can use it in other recipes as well.  Here is my chicken broth recipe.

Two onions quartered
2 large carrots cut into chunks
2-3 celery spears cut into chunks
6-8 garlic cloves

Place the vegetables on a cookie sheet greased with a little olive oil, bake at 350 degrees for about 45 min-1 hour, until they are nice and brown.

Add vegetables and chicken bones to a 7 quart slow cooker, add enough water to bring the level to 5 quarts.  Cover and cook on low for 9 hours.  You should have a delicious smelling broth that is golden in color.  Strain out the bones and vegetables.  Skim the fat off the top, you can see it and what little is there is easy to skim off with a spoon.  Pour the liquid into quart canning jars (makes 3 quarts).  Process in a pressure canner 10 pounds of pressure for 35 minutes.

You can also freeze the broth in ice cube trays until frozen then pop them out into a zip lock baggie and store in your freezer, nice if you need just a little for a recipe, you can take out a cube or two and be all set.

Sweet Pickles

Another of my mother's recipes.  I am not a huge pickle fan, but if I do eat pickles these are the ones I love.  Sweet but not too sweet, delicious.

4 quarts cucumbers sliced about 1/8 inch thick
6 C. Vinegar
3 TBSP salt
1 TBSP mustard seed
3 1/4 C sugar
2 1/4 tsp celery seed
1 TBSP whole allspice

in a covered pot simmer cucumber slices in 4 C vinegar with salt, mustard seeds and 1/4 C sugar, for about 15 minutes, or until the slices turn slightly yellow.  Drain and discard the cooking liquid.  Spoon the slices into clean, hot pint jars.

Bring to a boil, 2 C Vinegar, 3 C sugar, celery seed and whole allspice.  Pour over the pickles.  Adjust the lids and process in boiling water bath canner for 5 minutes.  (makes 5 pints)

These take a bit more time but are so worth it, so good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Government Bail Out of Confined Poultry Feeding Operation

Here is just a teaser from the article:

"As demand for chicken meat remains far below the number of birds who are actually being raised and killed, rather than allowing the market to adjust to basic supply and demand principles, the federal government Monday announced it will buy $40 million of unwanted chicken products that will be dumped on our nation's school kids and others in federal food programs.
In short, chicken-meat companies have continued increasing the number of birds they raise for food while demand has remained flat. Normally, in a free market, an industry that produces beyond what consumers want will contract. But not the poultry industry. It instead relies on regular government support in times like these—and by that I mean nearly all the time...."

You can read the whole article here.

Wow!  I don't even know how to wrap my brain around it.  Although it isn't really that surprising.  I was always taught that if you don't like something don't buy it, don't support it, send letters, express your concerns and if enough people do just that, things will change.  So we have opted out of the Confined Poultry Operations.  We raise and butcher our own chickens (prior to that we bought only organic, free range chickens), boycotting the more traditional cheaper meat in the stores.  And it seems so many of my friends are doing the same.  Now to find out that I CAN'T OPT OUT!  Even when we work so hard to opt out of THAT system, trying to change a destructive practice, the government is using our tax dollars to support the confined poultry operations beyond that which we already support.  How sad that supply and demand is not allowed to play out.  So chickens will go the way of corn, soon the tax dollars will pay for chickens that are not even consumed, just over production.  The chicken over production will end up in all sorts of places we never imagined, just to try to make use of it (wonder if you can make a sweetener out of chicken parts....).

Bare Minerals

OK some moms were having a discussion about make up at the park yesterday, me included.  Actually the discussion lasted about 5 minutes before we moved onto another topic, LOL.  I don't wear make up, maybe once or twice a year.  But I happened to mention a young adult, within our extended circle of friends, who had become a Mary Kay consultant.  I just mentioned that maybe we could have a Mom's Night Out with Mary Kay, and throw a little business her way as she is just getting started.

One mom mentioned Bare Minerals.  I had NO idea what it was really.  I am so uninformed where make up is concerned.

So I did just a little research on the mineral make up trend.  While mineral make ups do not use some common ingredients found in other make ups, they are still using some scary stuff.  And although the name implies that they just take minerals from the ground, grind them up and, wow, there you have it...make up for your face, some of it goes through some pretty heavy refining to take it from completely toxic to "less" toxic.

The first article I found gave me a great starting point.  So this is where I started.  Now in reading the small paragraph, I also googled the ingredients listed.  If you are concerned about your "all natural" make up, I suggest you google too, google is amazing isn't it?!  You can find different articles on the ingredients and make an informed decision.  I think I will continue to go my own version of "all natural" and just not wear any.  :-)

Article on Contaminated Honey and NON Honey, Being Sold in the USA

This article is very informative and eye opening for me.  It is amazing that we pay a government agency to monitor foods, they enact different legislation and then can't even begin to enforce the laws they have spearheaded.  Personally, I would rather not have the legislation to begin with, it leads to a false sense of security for so many, and they come to rely on *that* agency to look out for their best interest.  PEOPLE no one can look out for your best interest better than YOU.  Be informed, know where your food comes from!

OK down off my soap box, here is a little snippit of the article but please follow this link and read the whole thing.

"A third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals.  A Food Safety News investigation has documented that millions of pounds of honey banned as unsafe in dozens of countries are being imported and sold here in record quantities. 

And the flow of Chinese honey continues despite assurances from the Food and Drug Administration and other federal officials that the hundreds of millions of pounds reaching store shelves were authentic and safe following the widespread arrests and convictions of major smugglers over the last two years....

Another favorite con among Chinese brokers was to mix sugar water, malt sweeteners, corn or rice syrup, jaggery, barley malt sweetener or other additives with a bit of actual honey. In recent years, many shippers have eliminated the honey completely and just use thickened, colored, natural or chemical sweeteners labeled as honey."

Wonderful article!  Please read!

Master Tonic

Many of you have probably heard of master tonic but have you tried it?  A friend of mine (thanks Robin D.) introduced me to master tonic a couple of years ago.  She makes it and swears by it, drinks an ounce or so when she is feeling low on energy, or like she might be getting sick.  Her husband is a convert to the healing power of master tonic. I started out a skeptic.  And the *smell*...WOW, it smells HOT.  And, as everyone knows, I do not *do* hot.  Robin brought her master tonic to a gathering of friends once and offered to share.  But I "respectfully" declined, LOL.  My friends tried some.

It wasn't until last year that I made my own batch if you "click here" you can find the basic recipe.  But if you google Master Tonic you can find many, many recipes out there, all basically the same.  And the action is, at the most basic level, to increase circulation throughout the body, which in turn helps detox and heal.  OK you can find out all kinds of information if you google Master Tonic.

The recipe I used:

2 large white onions
2 large ginger roots
2 horseradish roots
About the same amount of garlic that "looked" like it was equal to how much onion I used (more than is in the picture)
A large handful of hot peppers from my garden, a couple of different varieties.
Cider vinegar

I cleaned the garlic and horseradish but did not peel just cut into quarters to fit in my food processor.  I did peel the onion and garlic.  I just snipped the tops off the peppers.

Then little by little I put it all into the food processor and emptied into a large bowl.  Once everything was chopped up, I mixed it in the bowl, making sure it was all well mixed up.  Then I filled quart canning jars about 3/4 full of the mixture and topped it off with the vinegar. I let it sit on top of my refrigerator for 3 or 4 weeks and just turn the jar to mix it every day or so. Once it has time to sit, strain using a cheese cloth and you will have liquid gold, spicy liquid gold.

I made a LARGE batch this time.  I still have some left from my last batch, so I will keep one quart for me, and give 4 away to friends.  We should be all set for the winter colds that seem to come along!

The picture above is the batch I made yesterday, it needs to sit for a while.  The picture below is from the batch I made last year, after it was strained.

I will say that after I made my first batch I did try it when I thought a cold was coming on.  The cold was short lived.  I took one ounce, 3-4 times a day.  I want to add that Jackson said he could smell the concoction coming out of my pores, LOL.  Oh Yeah! the smell of garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger and peppers all mixed together, I was certainly safe from vampires!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

This is a stand by recipe for our house.  Easy to put together in the slow cooker when we have a busy day ahead.  I totally love coming home to the house smelling so delicious and knowing that the meal is only minutes away.  About a year and a half ago I found that we were eating out more, and it was on days when we were out of the house.  I couldn't even wrap my brain around getting home at 6 or 7 in the evening, and cooking a meal, then having that meal ready in a reasonable amount of time.  So I turned to the slow cooker and that has just made such a difference.  I really enjoy feeding my family healthy meals that I know are good for them.

OK this is not a slow cooker advertisement this is a recipe for Lentil Soup:

1 pound of dry lentils
2 quarts vegetable broth
2 cups water
1-2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-2 TBSP home made taco seasoning (depending how hot your taco seasoning is, and how hot you like your food)
1 onion
2 celery ribs
2 carrots
1 TBSP Olive Oil

Dice the onion and saute in the olive oil.  (this pre-cooking is not necessary but I love to brown up the onions just a bit before adding them to the slow cooker)  Dice the celery and carrots.  Add celery, carrot, onion S&P, taco seasoning, broth, water, and lentils to your slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours.  Delicious!

Here is the taco seasoning recipe.  A friend (thanks Lisa) shared this with me several years ago, and I have been using it ever since.  It is Gluten free and Dairy free:

1/2 cup and 2 TBSP chili powder ( read the label to make sure there are no additives)
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 tsp onion powder
2 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I omit this)
2 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 TBSP and 2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup and 1 TBSP ground cumin
3 TBSP and 1 tsp sea salt
3 TBSP and 1 tsp black pepper

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Slow Cooker Stuffed Zucchini

Ever since Phil picked that giant zucchini, he has been asking to have stuffed zucchini.  So a couple of days ago I made up a recipe and it was delicious.  I actually used a bit smaller zucchini, one that fit into my slow cooker when cut in 1/2 lengthwise.  Here is my recipe, adapted from a couple of stuffed pepper recipes and changed to fit our family:

1 Zucchini, cut lengthwise with the seeds scooped out
1 egg
2 cups cooked rice
1 onion chopped
Olive Oil
2 cups cooked cannellini beans
1 cup cooked ground beef
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp basil
2 cups pasta Sauce

First add just a little Olive Oil to a pan and cook the onions until translucent.
Add cooked onions, egg, rice, beans, tomato sauce, and basil to a bowl and mix well.  Add S&P to taste.  Divide mixture in 1/2 in two separate bowls. Into one bowl add cooked ground beef, and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese.  To the second bowl add goat cheese.   (of course you can omit the goat cheese and make the zucchini all the same, but for our family and my dairy issues I make two separate stuffings)

Put your zucchini into a greased slow cooker, top one of the zucchini halves with the meat mixture, round it up (you will have a little left over).  Then add about 1 cup pasta sauce on top and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella cheese.  Top the second half of the zucchini with the goat cheese mixture.  Also top with pasta sauce.

Cook in slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours.  The zucchini should be tender when it is all done.

Cut and serve.  Delicious!  My son loved it and we will be having this again!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fresh Chicken and an Okra Recipe

The garden is booming, and we have processed our broilers.  I haven't had much time to blog but have 10 minutes now before I get back to the garden, so I have a couple of recipes for you.

I know the plate looks a little "sloppy" but I snapped the picture right before my husband dug in.  The chicken in the picture was 24 hours old when we cooked it.  I am not a fan of chicken so I did not have any but Phillip and Jackson said it was delicious, moist and fall off the bones tender.  Here is what I did:

Bundle several rosemary, oregano, and thyme stems together and add them to the chicken cavity, along with about 5 garlic cloves.  Truss the legs together.  Rub the skin with Olive Oil and a bit of Organic Poultry Seasoning.

Once this is done I crunched up 4 pieces of aluminum foil and placed them in the bottom of my slow cooker.  Place the chicken on top of the aluminum foil, this elevates the chicken off the bottom of your slow cooker.  Cook on low for 9 hours.

4 cups okra
1 onion diced
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup pesto

cook the onion in the pesto until translucent, add okra and tomato sauce.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.  DELICIOUS!  This is my favorite okra recipe so far.