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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.