Thursday, December 23, 2010

My excuses and a treat to hold you over....

Please excuse my long absence.  Our lives have been turned a little upside down these past few months.  The move was the start of it and things just haven't seemed to calm down since.  Luckily it is starting to feel like we have a grasp of things.  This blog serves me as a hobby outlet therefore being put aside during these past few months.  I look forward to getting back in the groove at the beginning of the year and to hold you over until then I will share a yummy (sinful) recipe with you.

Cookie Dough Truffles- sounds amazing right?  I have come across a few recipes for this and gave one a shot that had received great reviews.  I am not sure if I messed it up or what but it did not live up to my standards.  So I went to my archives and used my recipe for edible cookie dough batter and making the adjustments to turn it into the delightful truffle.

I tested this out on a group of friends that loved them- unfortunately some were leftover and I had my fair share the next day (which they seemed to be better after sitting in the fridge for a day).

Picture provided by: annies-eats

Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 C. of butter
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1/4 C. sugar
2 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. flour
1/2 cup of mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 lb semisweet chocolate
Mini chocolate chips for garnish

Mix the batter together as you would a normal cookie batter.  Place in the refrigerator until firm enough to form into balls.  Roll the batter into teaspoon sized balls and place on a lined cookie sheet.  I found that it also helps to put the ball back in the refrigerator for a little bit if you have the time.

Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or using a double boiler system.  Dip the cookie dough balls in the chocolate.  I couldn't find an easy and non-messy way of doing this so experiment and do what works best for you.  Garnish the balls with a few mini chocolate chips and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat.

Yum!  Enjoy- and I will be back with new recipes and more.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Chili and Chili Pies

We have made it a tradition to have Chili for Halloween (except for the one year I burned it when my sister was here and I think we ordered pizza).  This year I am debating on whether or not to do it because of the move and if I do which day to do it on.

Since Halloween is on Sunday this year our church will be holding their trunk-or-treat on Saturday night.  We will also not be letting our children trick-or-treat on Sunday.  We recognize Sunday as the Sabbath and feel like no matter what holiday falls on this day it should continue to be recognized as a holy day and day of rest.

Whether we do the Chili on the night we go trick-or-treating or on Halloween it will still be good and will be something I look forward to.  The more I think about it I think we can manage to whip up a pot of Chili.

Now once again we have another meal that is in great debate at our home.  My husband likes traditional chili with just meat.  I however like less meat and more black beans.  Sometimes he doesn't win this one- seeing that I am making a special pot just for him-that goes against everything we tell our kids, huh?

We also have two chili recipes we switch between.  One is my tried and true one that we have used for years.  The other is on the back of my husband's favorite chili seasoning that his Grandpa got him hooked on.  I have to say I do prefer this seasoning. I would love to start make homemade chili seasoning but with such a big supply of Chugwater Chili I haven't ventured out, yet.

We also enjoy our chili over a bed of fritos and sprinkled with cheese making a chili pie.

Here are the recipes-take your pick- and enjoy!

Mary Kathryn's Chili

2 Tablespoons oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (15 oz.) cans kidney or black beans
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 T. chili powder
1 T. distilled Vinegar
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper

Brown Hamburger in oil.  Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft.  Pour off any excess fat.  Stir in beans, crushed tomatoes, chili powder, and vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Heat to boiling, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Chugwater Chili
2lb ground beef

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Simple Perfect Enchiladas

Last time I made this for my husband he said they were the best enchiladas he has ever had.  I gave credit to the fact it uses ground beef and my man simply likes himself some red meat.  I kept this in mind but hadn't made them for awhile. When I finally had the meal planned life got crazy with the move.  Having the ingredients on hand made it so I had no excuse to make them.  It was a nice treat in the middle of our crazy week to have a homemade meal. 

Simple Perfect Enchiladas- from: Your Homebased Mom

  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Enchilada Or Red Sauce
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
  • 1-½ pound Ground Beef
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 2 cans (4 Ounce) Diced Green Chilies
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 10 whole (to 14) Corn Tortillas
  • ½ cups Canola Oil
  • 3 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • ½ cups Chopped Black Olives
  • 1 cup Chopped Green Onions
  • ½ cups Chopped Cilantro
Preparation Instructions
Step #1 – The Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Step #2 – The Meat
Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Step #3 – Tortillas
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Step #4 – Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving.

*Recipe Notes
I used olive oil for the sauce.  I used flour tortillas for the kids because they don't care for the corn tortillas and instead of completely "frying" all the tortillas I lightly spritzed with my Pam olive oil and then cooked in a skillet- but will use my griddle next time.

This time my husband said, "Have we had these before."  I never know what I will get with him it sometimes seems like his taste buds go through drastic changes.  I very cautiously told him yes and re-stated what he had said about them the first time.  He agreed again that these are the best enchiladas he has had.  There is just something about this combination they are so good!!  My 6 year old and 1 year old each had 1 1/2. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Waffles

I got this recipe from Green Smoothie Girl.  I did like the batter but I did realize that I am not a waffle fan.  My waffle maker drives me crazy and I don't like cleaning it.  I think the batter could also work as pancakes and I just may give it a try another day.  For you waffle lovers try this and let me know what you think.

Pumpkin Waffles

2 cups whole-wheat flour (finely ground- soft white or hard wheat or a combo)
2 cups regular rolled oats
1 cup yogurt or kefir
2 ½ cups water
1 (30 oz.) can pumpkin
¼ cup coconut oil (liquid)
3 Tbsp. Sucanat or unrefined coconut sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. sea salt
1 ½ tsp. baking powder (no aluminum), reduce by ½ tsp. if you soaked grains overnight

2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs (organic, free range)

Mix rolled oats in your high-power blender to break them down to a coarse meal. Mix the whole-wheat flour, oats, yogurt, and water together, then cover and let sit overnight (optionally). In the morning, add the remaining ingredients and mix by hand, but don’t overmix. Batter is dense, and baking time usually must be longer than waffle timer indicates. Top with Quick Raw Applesauce or plain yogurt, and real maple syrup.

*Recipe Notes
I used natural buttermilk- i.e. raw milk that had expired- instead of the yogurt and used about 2 1/2 cups to get a good soak.  Also, we did not use the raw applesauce due to time (although I am sure it isn't very time consuming).  We had sliced apples instead but I am excited to try the raw applesauce next time.

Quick Raw Applesauce

4 large Jonathan or Fuji apples, washed/cored/quartered
1 cup water
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup (or more, to taste) maple syrup

Pulse all ingredients in high-power blender for a chunky sauce.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is my favorite soup.  I do not limit it to the cold months it is just too good to deprive myself of it throughout the year.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can (4 oz.) chopped mild green chilies, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cans (15 oz. each) diced tomatoes, including juice
½ to 1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime
corn/flour tortillas, sliced into ¼ inch strips
½ cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 avocado, seeded, peeled, diced and tossed with lime juice to prevent browning
Place Chicken in crock-pot slow cooker.

Combine chilies, garlic, onion, tomatoes, ½ c. chicken broth and cumin in a small bowl.  Pour mixture over chicken.

Cook on HIGH for 3 hours.  When chicken is tender, use the tines of 2 forks to shred the meat.  Adjust seasonings adding additional broth if necessary.

Just before serving, add tortillas and cilantro to Crock-Pot slow cooker.  Stir to blend.

Serve in soup bowls, topping each serving with cheese, avocado, and a squeeze of lime juice.

*Recipe Notes
We use my homemade flour tortillas and have them on the side keeping them big.  Some like to tear them up and put them in the soup others like to tear pieces off and fill the soup mixture in the tortilla and eat.  The leftovers make for a different meal- we drain the juice and use it as burritos the next night.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Story and Meatballs

I have made it known that I am not a big meat fan. It's more or less I am just picky about my meat and how I will eat it. Growing up I loved to have spaghetti but my mom always made a meat marinara sauce. Since I thought that was gross -and my mom did what any mother would do and didn't make me my own sauce- I would just take the back of the spoon rub it over the sauce then spread it on my noodles. Giving me a light spread of just marinara!

When I got married I was so excited to make spaghetti- my way!!! I prepared a great meal of spaghetti, bread, and some kind of vegetable I am sure. When we sat down to eat my husband said, "Where is the meat?" With a big smile I said, "I didn't use any because I don't like it." He went on to inform me that he can't eat spaghetti without meat. I was heartbroken.

I was back to making spaghetti the way I didn't like until I made dinner for the family I worked for. It was then that I learned of a new recipe that would help us both get what we like. It is so good that we all prefer to have spaghetti and meatballs even over plain marinara. I have since improved the recipe using fresher ingredients and a homemade breadcrumb that I keep on hand and stored in the freezer.

Nana's Meatballs

1 lb. Ground Beef
3/4 cup Italian Style Breadcrumbs
1 egg beaten
1 1/2 T of Parmesan Cheese
1 T. finely chopped Parsley (fresh or dried)
1 tsp. of Grated Onion
1-2 Garlic Cloves

Combine all ingredients.  Roll into desired sized balls.  Place in lightly sprayed 9x13 pan.  Cook for 30 minutes on 350.

These do well frozen after they are cooked and then reheated when needed.

Italian Breadcrumbs

1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.dried parsley
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil

I use my homemade bread to make the breadcrumbs.  Sometimes I will save a few pieces- usually the heels and out in the freezer until I am ready to use.  Then I blend them up to use with this recipe. 

Mix all ingredients and put on a baking sheet.  Broil for a few minutes to get a nice crisp texture.  The time will depend on how stale or moist your bread is.  This is an easy alternative to buying breadcrumbs- and you know everything that is in it.

I store my leftovers in a container in the freezer.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moving Week

Yes it is moving week.  With the weather changing and cooling off here I felt like it would be a good week to share some recipes we have been enjoying.  Granted this week we may not be able to have the luxury of having such great homemade meals but maybe these posts will help keep my spirits up.  Keep checking in as I have scheduled posts throughout the week.  While I am busy packing, cleaning, organizing and such you can have some great ideas to add to your menu plan as the cold weather sets in- there will not be any pictures.  I forgot to get it out during meal times.  If you make these recipes and think to take a picture that you would like to share with me feel free to, thank you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Garlic and Bug Bites

My daughter woke up with a strange and pretty decent size bump on her buttocks, yesterday.  After examining it I came to the conclusion that it had to be a bug bite.  It was itching and irritating her a lot and I wanted to be able to relieve the pain before she went off to school.  Having some things already packed up and wanting a simpler solution for this I went in the kitchen and got a clove of garlic.  I cut the garlic in half and rubbed it over the bump.  She did squeal a bit and said it stung- being sensitive to that- I put a little coconut oil on too.  The bug bite didn't bother her after that and by bedtime it was gone.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Onion as a cold remedy

My 18 month old is getting his molers in.  His only reaction to teething, besides the normal drooling and gnawing, is a croupy like cough and constant runny nose. 

He usually only starts his coughing at night when he is in bed.  Last night my husband said, "He has been coughing for a long time. He has to be uncomfortable."  He wasn't crying so I was just going to let him cough it out.  That is why our bodies cough- there is something in there that needs to be coughed out.  However, I started to pay more attention and the coughing was pretty consistent.  So I went into the kitchen, cut up an onion, put it in a bowl, and set it right by his crib.  His coughing stopped immediately.  It was amazing.  He also woke up with a clear nose this morning. 

The running nose has started back up but if I can help him have a comfortable nights sleep I am okay with his body doing it's thing and draining during the day.  I love such natural remedies with things that you more then likely have in your kitchen already.
One of the blogs I frequent is doing a Giveaway from Actual Organics.  This is a great way to help switch over from your commercial personal products and into making your own or buying some that are actually better for you.  Take a look at Nourishing Days.  It would also be nice to have some things like this on hand for traveling and such.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A hair product update

Things have been busy around here but I just wanted to share a few changes in our hair care that I have really liked. 

We have really enjoyed using the baking soda paste.  I pour some baking soda into a container and then add a little distilled water so that it is a paste.  This is easier to apply for the kids hair and feels better then dumping cold water on their head. 

Another thing we have done is a lemon rinse.  I can't remember the ratios exactly and I am sure you could play around with it to suit your own needs.  I squeezed half a lemon into our squirt bottle then added warm water.  The ratios were probably something like 4 parts water 2 parts lemon. I love the lemon rinse as an in between kind of hair cleaning. 

Have fun experimenting!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The plans

I had planned on after my hydration post to get into helping to solve the sick season coming up.  However, we have had some events happen around here to change things up a bit.  We will be trying to move within the next two weeks.  I hope to still find time to complete those posts but if it takes me awhile you know why.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Photo Credit: Cleanse and Detox Lifestyle
When I think of staying hydrated I relate it to the summer time.  Due to that common knowledge and living in desert climates I think I naturally keep myself hydrated during those hot months.  I was a little surprised when about two weeks ago I started to feel a little -extra- worn out and started to get more frequent headaches.  To me this was a sign of dehydration.  I started to increase my intake of water and make some changes and am feeling better.  Just because summer is slipping away doesn't mean it is time to put the water bottle away.

Here are some tips that I have learned/re-learned and followed from an amazing post at Keeper of the Home:

::Our bodies become dehydrated over night so in the morning is the best time to start our re-hydrating process.

::It is recommended that you drink half of your body weight in ounces.  It is recommended that we try to drink of our recommended ounces by mid-morning.

::Wake up with warm lemony water (I have been doing this, not enjoying it but doing it and I like the results- a lot!).  This is actually a good cleanse for your body, prepares your digestive system for food, and helps to alkalize your body.  I bring about 12 oz. of water to just warm in a pot, poor into a mug, and add 1/2 of a squeezed lemon and a little honey.  It is better, for me, once it has cooled down a bit.

::Drink between meals.  When you drink with a meal- a very natural thing- it affects your digestive juices.  Which in return can make it slower and less effective.  Which interferes with your bodies absorption to nutrients.

::Avoid plain tap water- this has been easy for me since I was a kid.  Use purified.  Still not sure what is the best but we have a place here that we have trusted for years or from the Health Food Store's Reverse Osmosis system.

::Store your water smartly.  My preference, Klean Kanteen.

Go drink up- stay hydrated even if you don't feel dehydrated.  You don't want to get to that point because it is no fun and water really is good for you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Misc. and the end, for now

Some other things I use:
local homemade soaps
coconut oil as a lotion, face moisturizer, etc.
coconut oil as a smoothing agent for hair

Things I want to try or have read about:
Using coconut oil as a hair gel
Making hair spray by boiling a lemon in water
Learn to make my own soap

I love the fact that I can use things I have in my home already and to know that most of these things are edible makes me feel so much better about using them on my body.

I have seen a great change in my skin with these changes I have made.  I have always had sensitive skin that reacts to the elements.  All four of my children have inherited a fraction of the skin problems I have.  We do have a water softener that helps us but since I have been bathing the kids less often and using better products on their skin none of them have had any problems.  Even during teething times, which was always when they would have bad flare ups. 

I also believe that what we put into our body makes can make a big difference too.  Making sure we get all of our vitamins through foods, eating the rainbow, taking cod liver oil, staying hydrated, etc.  All these things work together as a team to have better manageable hair and skin.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


This is my favorite one so far!!  I have used natural deodorants for years.  Lots of different brands.  They would work for a little bit then not so much anymore.  I have used plain coconut oil and had moderate results.  I used vinegar for awhile but the smell never seem to fade.  When I came across this recipe and read lots of different reviews I thought it would be the best choice for me.  Since I had a little success with coconut oil in the past I figured in combination with these other great ingredients it would be great... so far, I am right! 

The Recipe:
5-6 T of coconut oil
1/4 cup of cornstartch or arrowroot powder
1/4 cup of baking soda

Mix well until you reach the consistency you desire.  Mine was really soft at first but has hardened a bit.  I store it in a wide mouth glass container and just scoop some out and use as needed. 

A lot of things I have found about deodorant suggests it not to be used everyday.  With an active daily life and exercise routine I haven't been brave enough to try this.  Maybe over fall break I will give it a try. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Second step....

This is another big one for me.  Face wash.  I tend to have light breakouts here and there.  Usually once a month.  I have religiously washed my face morning and night since I was a kid and not always using that great of a product.  When my sister came to visit this summer she made mention of using castor oil and olive oil to cleanse her face.  I thought that was kind of weird and since she has the better skin of the two of us I figured it just wouldn't work for me. 

Then, I changed my mind.  I came across the website for The Oil Cleansing Method and I was convinced that it was at least worth a try- and to be able to give myself a mini facial each night.  Heck why not!?

I bought a small glass jar from the health food store for about $1, I put less then half of castor oil in and fill the rest with olive oil.  Each night (yes, I am still doing every night but have skipped a few here and there which is probably even more beneficial for you) I pour a little of the oil in the palm of my dry hand, I gently massage it into my face for a couple of minutes focusing on some problem areas (nose, chin).  I turn the water on to fairly warm, wet a wash cloth, then cover my face with the warm wash cloth as the steam continues to cleanse my face and wipe away the oils.  I repeat the washcloth step two more times.  I rub in any extra oil that may be on my face- which usually isn't any- and that's it no need to pat dry.  In the morning I simply rinse my face and will sometimes put a light layer of coconut oil on as a moisturizer.

If I can do this you can- it is a huge money saver and leaves you with great results!  Especially having three girls- this will save the wallet in the future.

Once again, please follow the link as it gives more information on the benefits and procedures.  And by all means do your own research.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My frist step....

was to make my own shampoo.  This was a big step for me.  I have always washed my hair everyday.  I have very thick and generally greasy hair.  Daily maintenance is what I always thought best.  A while ago I started washing my hair every other day.  I found that it was much easier and saved me an hour and a half from fixing my hair or making an excuse and just throwing it up everyday.

When I came across these other methods on how to clean hair I knew I had to give it a try with me liking homemade, frugal, better for you kind of things.  Everything I read warned that you would have a 2 week detoxing period.  While your hair tried to strip and rid of all the previously used chemical based hair products.  It took my hair about 3 weeks to get to where it wasn't tangled and dry feeling.  I had great results for a few weeks but have recently had a set back.  Not sure what is going on but my hair just can't seem to whip back into shape.  I haven't had my hair thinned out in awhile and that may be a big part of it.  I am not giving up and am continuing to research other options.

Even with my set back I still recommend this for the fact that I did have success for a little while and all three of my girls hair is responding great to this method.  I continue to wash my hair every other day- or even an extra if I know I am not going anywhere- and I wash my kids hair maybe twice a week.

The recipe I use now:

I get a 4 cup mixing bowl and fill it an 1/8 the way with baking soda then I fill it up with warm purified water.  Sometimes I add Rosemary and sometimes I add a few drops of essential oil.  I store it in an old and cleaned out shampoo bottle.  Sometimes we squirt it on our hair, sometimes we dump it.

Video on how to make Shampoo from the blog I got the recipe from.

Other great posts I have read and been inspired by:
Nourished Kitchen- GMO free personal care
Nourishing Days- "how to avoid toxins"

Follow these links to learn more for yourself.  I continue to find new things and will share my experiences along the way- even the non-successful ones.  What doesn't work for me could work for someone else. 

How great a knowledge is it that baking soda can clean your hair in a time of need.  I love the simpleness of it!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A theme week

I am very excited for what I have planned this week. I want to share with all of you the changes I have been making in my beauty regimen. Some of the reasons I have made these changes is for the simple fact of being intrigued when I read that people were making and using homemade shampoos, deodorants, face wash, and so on. A lot of people make the change for safer ingredients. This is important to me also but it was not the primary reason. I have found these methods to be very cost efficient and I am extremely pleased with (most of)the results. If you don't think these methods will work for you at least store the recipes with your food storage information. It will provide the proper information you may need for those time of emergencies. Or you can just simply give them a try- I was even skeptical at first about some things. Stay tuned for more great info!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Update to Banana Bread Post....

This recipe does not make a great zucchini bread. The sweetness of the bananas helped to make the banana bread so great. I will be working on a zucchini bread recipe since I bought a few huge zucchini's at the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago and have bags of frozen shredded zucchini!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Soaked Banana Bread

Soaked Banana Bread  

3 cups freshly ground spelt, kamut, or whole wheat flour
2 cups buttermilk, kefir or yogurt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 cup melted butter
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped crispy pecans

Soak flour in buttermilk, kefir or yogurt in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours – bread will rise better if soaked for 24 hours. Those with milk allergies may use 2 cups filtered water plus 2 tablespoons whey, lemon juice or vinegar in place of undiluted buttermilk.

Blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into a well-buttered and floured loaf pan (preferably stoneware). Bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Recipe Notes:
I wish I could remember where I found this recipe to give the appropriate credit but when I go searching for it again I find a lot of blogs promoting this recipe.  I think it is a recipe from Sally Fallon's book: Nourishing Traditions.

I used the wheat flour, rice milk and vinegar, coconut oil, no pecans, a bit of cinnamon, and I used my tin pans.  I guess I should have just used my recipe but with something like this I like to throw the original out there with my changes for comparison.  The bread was delicious and I plan on following the same recipe but using zucchini this week. **(This recipe does not make a great zucchini bread. The sweetness of the bananas helped to make the banana bread so great. I will be working on a zucchini bread recipe since I bought a few huge zucchini's at the Farmer's Market a few weeks ago and have bags of frozen shredded zucchini!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Challenge

As you can tell by the lack of posts my little challenge kept me busy.  I didn't do as well as I hoped but I learned a lot.  Here are some things I learned, am going to change, etc.

: : We like natural peanut butter and I want a better stash on hand.  I can make endless things with this stuff.  Time to start stocking up on it!

: : We are starting a Friday Pizza night.  I grew up having Pizza Hut every Friday night (especially during football season).  I loved this tradition and love the fact of having one meal set and planned each week.  The Pizza choices will be different each week.  Sometimes delivery, homemade, tortilla pizzas, english muffin pizzas, and even dessert ones.  I will keep you posted on this.

: : I love my storage of grains.  Love love love it!!  Now, unfortunately, it is time to restock.  At least now I know what I use the most of.  We are set on Hard Red Wheat (for a couple of years at least) and short grain brown rice.  We need more soft white wheat, oats, steel cut oats, and brown basmati rice.  I would love to get some of these canned but for now I plan on buying 25 lb. bags and then putting in my 5 gal. buckets that I keep in my pantry.  We go through it so fast it is so much cheaper to do it that way.

: : Crackers-- although they aren't soaked or homemade they are a great staple to have around.  We had peanut butter and jelly cracker sandwiches, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and pickles on crackers, etc. when we ran out of bread.  Very handy.

: : It is nice that we don't use so much dairy anymore.  I bought two small blocks of  raw cheese at the farmers market almost two weekends ago and we still have a tiny bit left.  We also use rice milk and have a stock of that.

: : Saturday mornings will be our cereal mornings (unless daddy has that morning off which is unlikely).  We usually have hot breakfasts throughout the week so cereal is a real treat for my kids.  I need to replenish my stock since we used a lot of what we had for breakfasts and treats.

: : My recipe for faux kettle corn is a perfect and easy thing to have on hand.  My kids (and neighbors) love this treat/snack and I feel so good that I know they are getting something good for them while they are thinking it is a treat.  

: : Fruits and greens are easy to stock up on for smoothies.  The freezer is my friend and I am grateful for our stand up freezer in the garage.

: : You have to take the time to be prepared but it is very worth it.  I hope I can make better progress next time I challenge myself.  I am thinking December may be a good time to do it- and that will leave some extra money for Christmas.  We shall see.

New stuff to come soon- once my two toddlers stop teething. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our daily smoothies in pictures...

4 cups of water, 2-3 large carrots peeled and cut, 1/4 lemon (peel and all)
Fill with greens (spinach and kale that I keep in the freezer), top off with about a cup or more of mixed berries, and a sprinkle of stevia if you like (my kids don't like it too sweet).  Then press whole juice or whatever speed on your blender that will gives you the hardest mixing.
add about 8 frozen strawberries and 1 frozen banana press the smoothie button (I usually have to do the smoothie cycle twice).
And this is what you get... two recommended servings of green smoothie.  No matter how many times I think I am doing the exact same thing my smoothies always come out a little different.  Nevertheless, we love our daily green smoothies and adding the carrot has helped mild out the green ("dirt" as some would put it) taste.

Psst... my husband has been drinking these for about 3 months now so I must be doing something right.

Measurements may need to be adjusted according to size of blender. Let me know if you have questions about that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sloppy Joe's in a Bowl

I have never had a traditional Sloppy Joe.  It is well known that I am not much of a red meat kind of person.  I do try to get some in here and there because I believe that a good quality, grass fed, beef is good for you but sometimes I just can't hack it.  I have had this recipe (and the ingredients) for quite some time now.  My husband made mention a while back of wanting Sloppy Joe's- he doesn't remember so it very well could have been a joke but I went on a little search.  I was pleasantly surprised when one of the blogs I frequent had a recipe for "The Healthy $1 menu- Sloppy Joe's in a Bowl".  Perfect- low cost- not the traditional canned stuff or whatever it is- and looking over the recipe it looked like I would maybe even like it. 

And... it was good.  My whole family liked it.  It was nice to have something a little different- give my hubby a little old time taste- and now my kids and I can say we have had Sloppy Joe's well, kind of.

Sloppy Joe’s In A Bowl
    2 cups dry brown basmati rice
    2 cups clean water plus 4 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
    2 cups stock
    2 pounds grass-fed ground beef (or ground buffalo)
    1 onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, diced
    3/4 cup filtered water
    1 can tomato paste
    2 teaspoons sea salt
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    3 tablespoons raw honey
    garnishes: sliced olives, thinly sliced or diced onions, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, and/or homemade cultured dairy, chopped cilantro, shredded raw cheese
In a 2 to 3 quart pot, soak the rice in the 2 cups of water and raw apple cider vinegar overnight. The next day, add the 2 cups stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all liquid is absorbed and grains are fluffy and tender. This will be about a half hour if the grains have soaked overnight. Remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

While rice is cooking, put the ground beef in a 4 to 6 quart stock pot. Over medium heat, brown the beef. Add onions and garlic. Saute until soft. In a 4 cup measuring cup, whisk together: water, tomato paste, sea salt, pepper, olive oil, and honey. Add sauce mixture to meat. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Fill bowls with rice, then meat sauce, then desired garnishes. The picture shows a Sloppy Joe’s bowl garnished with diced shredded homemade goat cheese, diced onions, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and a drizzle of sour cream.

Recipe Notes:
My garnishes of choice were tomatoes, lettuce, and a light sprinkle of the cheese.  It added a light freshness.  The rice was delicious!!!  I am actually going to start soaking some just to have on hand plain.  We have been eating the short brown lately and this was a nice treat- so don't skimp out on the basmati...  If you are local Dixie Nutrition sales this in bulk that way you can just get the two cups to try or buy lots more (I suggest lots more if you eat a lot of rice!).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Progress of my challenge so far...

I didn't realize how much I love going to the store.  Come the middle of the week I was almost having withdrawals.  I did well for the majority of the time but we did have a late day running errands (and a husband who just wanted to order pizza).

For this weeks meals:
(lunches are different around here- we usually all do something different but I will give an approx. of what was eaten.)

Breakfast- Oatmeal Porridge with frozen blueberries and Green Smoothies
Lunch- salsa and chips- sandwiches
Dinner- Crockpot Chicken with Vegetables and Garlic-Greens Mashed Potatoes

Breakfast- Toast (jelly, peanut butter, or cinnamon & sucanant) and Green Smoothies
Lunch- sandwiches
Dinner- Broccoli Rice Bake with Curry Coconut Sauce- black beans and plain rice for the more sensitive tastebuds

Breakfast- Whole Wheat Blender Waffles
Lunch- Leftovers
Dinner- Leftovers and Fried eggs
(my 5 year old had the waffles for breakfast lunch and dinner- that good! the others enjoyed a little of everything potatoes, rice, beans, and Broccoli Rice Bake)

Breakfast- Cereal and Green Smoothies
Lunch- Egg Salad
Dinner- Salad with warm homemade bread

Breakfast- Baked Oatmeal
Lunch- Sandwiches
Dinner- Homemade Pizza

Breakfast- Leftover Baked Oatmeal
Lunch- Leftover Breadsticks
Dinner- Leftover Pizza (that's what makes take out worth it- eating it for 3 meals)

Breakfast- Toast and Cereal
Lunch- Homemade Pizza (this is what we were supposed to have Fri. night and I needed to make it since I had let it thaw out.)
Dinner- Sloppy Joe's in a Bowl

Other things I made:
PB&Chocolate Rice Crispies
and homemade bread w/ honey butter to give to a friend (and because we ran out of bread).
If only I inherited my mothers bread slicing skills.
I did buy bananas and avocados for $4- the lady at the health food store said, "How are you by the way?"  I was shocked that she had noticed I hadn't been in for a little bit. I usually run in there 2-3 times a week- they are my quick run in store when I need one avocado or a couple of bananas or whatever.

My husband says that I do not have to count the things he bought since he didn't make this goal. :)  So we also got grapes, strawberries, peanut butter, cheese and eggs.  We could have done without the strawberries but I wanted to grab them while they still looked good.  I felt like I had failed a little bit with this shopping trip but I had to remind myself that this wasn't a challenge I had prepared for and this is to give me an idea of the things we need the most. 

Oh and I stopped by a local stand yesterday to get tomatoes and a big cantaloupe $6

I am enjoying this challenge but still have that nagging part of me that is worried about what new and delicious tasting meal I am going to make in the weeks to come.  I blame my husband- I just want to please him- okay I blame my southern upbringing.  Either way I need to learn to use what I have and not plan such elaborate things constantly.  I am excited for the changes to come.

I hope to make it till next Saturday before I buy anything else.  It may be difficult since we have no lettuce or fresh spinach but I would like to try my hardest to eat the other vegs we have and buy from the farmers market on Saturday.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Broccoli Rice Bake with Coconut Curry Sauce

This is another good recipe from my 12 steps by: Green Smoothie Girl

Broccoli Rice Bake with Coconut Curry Sauce

2 C of short grain brown rice
3 stems of broccoli cut into bit sized pieces
8 oz. of mushrooms washed well and cut into thirds
2 T coconut oi1
1 (14 oz) can of coconut milk
1 T cornstarch
1 T curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 C chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh parsley (or 1 T dried)
2 tomatoes, chopped

I chose to soak my rice for 24 hours.  I rinsed the rice in a colander until the water ran clear.  Then I put the rice in a glass bowl adding just enough water to cover.  I mixed in 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice as my acidic component.  Covered and let sit in a warm place in my kitchen for 24 hours.  When I was ready to cook the rice I simply followed the instructions on my rice bag using half chicken stock half water for the liquid.

Using a wok or saucepan add the coconut oil (I found that I didn't need nearly as much that was called for) and broccoli.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium high heat.  While that is cooking add the coconut milk, cornstarch, curry and salt in a blender and mix well.  Once the broccoli is cooked add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.  Then add the curry sauce and cook over a simmering heat until it thickens.  Once it is thick you can gently stir in the rice.  Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and parsley at this time or add those things to individual plates according to preference.

Recipe Notes:
I made the rice ahead of time.  Saving time and preventing a hot house at meal time.  I simply had all the other ingredients cut or chopped and ready so that I could throw everything together quickly.  I did chop the mushrooms making them a little less visual.

My six year old, one year old, and I liked it a lot.  My husband ate it but isn't a fan of curry.  I am glad I tried it and will tuck it away in my archives.  My husband says it needs something crunchy and of course maybe some steak strips would make it better.

One tip for the curry- I didn't want to buy a lot since I wasn't sure what the outcome was going to be.  I luckily have a health food store that sales seasonings and spice in bulk so I could get as little or as much as I like.  It is perfect for trying out a seasoning or refilling your spice bottles.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bloody Noses

It's that time- not sure what does it- the dry, colds, allergies, picking noses, etc. but we have had some major bloody noses around here.

My 5 year old has always had something going on with her nose- She couldn't blow her nose up until about a year ago and (like her daddy) sometimes when she does it brings on the bleeding.  She also stuck a gold fish cracker up her nose when she was little.  It took us filling a nose bulb up with water to shoot in the other nostril to (drown her) flush it out.

A few weeks ago she came out of her bed with her nose "gushing blood" (those are the terms she uses).  It took forever to get it to stop and once it did the other nostril started bleeding just as bad.  I was frustrated and at a loss of what to do for her.  Her daddy usually takes care of these situations- because she inherited it from him- but this time I decided to do some research and figure out what we could do for her nose before resorting to cauterizing.

Here are some things that I learned and have been using to much success for us,

  • Apply pressure to the bridge of the nose as follows:
  1. Sit your child upright
  2. Tilt her head forward (not backward)
  3. Place your thumb and forefinger on either side of the bridge of the nose and apply pressure firmly enough to slow bleeding.  This will decrease the blood flow and slow bleeding.  Hold for about 10 minutes giving time for a clot to form.
  • Placing an ice pack across the bridge of the nose will constrict the blood vessels and help stop the bleeding.
One of my new favorites,
  • Try wetting a bit of cotton or plain sterile gauze with distilled vinegar and placing it in your child's nose.  Leave it in place for about 10 minutes.  The acid of the vinegar will gently cauterize the inside of the nose and stop the bleeding.
My daughter does complain of this hurting a little bit at first but once I get her distracted and can leave it in there for the full 10 minutes we have great results.

Vitamin C with bioflavanoids 1-2 doses,  four times daily, for two days after a nosebleed.  Then one-half a dose , twice a day, for at least one month.

Also a simple nasal saline that will keep the nose moist and lessen the chance of the small capillaries swelling and rupturing.  Dissolve 1/4 tsp. of salt 1/2 tsp. of baking soda in 4 ounces of water.  Spray in with a nose bulb or drop a few drops in.  Do not suction out- you are wanting this to soothe and moisten the nose to prevent bleeding.

My book also mentions that aspirin should be avoided for those who are prevalent to getting nosebleeds.

Please note that I am not a doctor- these are things I have personally tried on my child and have had good results with.  If your child has a severe nosebleed consider contacting your doctor.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Whole Wheat Blender Waffles

We have pancakes a lot around here and the latest request has been, "Waffles please." Remember this post?  Well, I took it and changed things around a little bit to make some great waffles and I think they were wonderful.  Even being made of whole wheat they were light and fluffy and soaked up the butter and maple syrup perfectly.  My 5 year old ate them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The 6 year old stated, "I didn't mean homemade waffles."  Whose house are you in girly?

Whole Wheat Blender Waffles

2 cups whole wheat kernels
1 T lemon juice (apple cider vinegar or white distilled vinegar)
2 1/2 cups rice milk (water or dilluted coconut milk)
2 eggs
2 T of coconut oil
2 T of agave
1/2 tsp. of salt
2 T of baking powder

I tested out soaking my wheat kernels and it worked well for me. 

Take the 2 cups of wheat kernels and rinse well in a colander. Then put them in a glass bowl covering with warm water.  (Some of the sticks and debris floated to the top making it easy to get them out.)  I then added 1 T of acidic component. Cover and set in a warm place in your kitchen 8-24 hours.

The next morning I drained the kernels then added them to my blender along with the rice milk.  Blend on high for about 3-5 minutes depending on the power of your blender.  Add eggs, coconut oil, agave and salt.  Blend for about 30 seconds until well combined.  Pulse in the baking powder till mixed.  This should leave your batter foaming and light.  Cook in your waffle maker and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:
The lemon juice worked great but I think I will get a better foam if I use 
apple cider vinegar or white distilled vinegar making for an even lighter 
waffle.  I also think cinnamon would be a great addition too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Garlic-Greens Mashed Potatoes

This is a recipe I got from the 12 steps by: Green Smoothie Girl.  We had crockpot chicken, with carrots, onion, and zucchini and a side of this yummy transformed mashed potatoes.  If I was a lover of a big Thanksgiving meal this would make it to the top of the list.

Garlic-Greens Mashed Potatoes

8 potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into chunks
8 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
8 c of spinach or collard greens
1/4 cup of butter (or extra virgin olive oil)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan.  Cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (don't forget to add salt to the water).  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook 15-20 minutes or until tender.  Another great way to cook potatoes is in an electric steamer if you have one.

While the potatoes are cooking cut the spinach or collard greens into ribbons.  Saute the greens with a touch of butter (reserving the rest), and garlic until the greens are wilted.

When the potatoes are done remove from heat and drain.  Return to the saucepan and add salt, pepper, and remaining butter.  Mix using a hand held mixer or a potato masher.  When you have reached your desired consistency (you may need to add water for smooth potatoes) stir in the spinach mixture and any juices left in the pan. 

*My notes:
I used majority red potatoes and a couple of baking potatoes.  I left the potatoes chunky but think more of the kids would have eaten them if they were a tad smoother. 

How we were able to eat this yummy homemade comfort food on such a hot day.  The chicken cooked in the crockpot all day and I started making the potatoes at about 3:30.  When I was done with the potatoes I left them in the pan, covered and turned the crockpot off.  We ran some errands and when we got back it was dinner time, the food was still warm, and our kitchen was cooled off enough we were actually able to enjoy our meal.  This also helped break the temptation of just grabbing something to eat while we were out since we knew dinner was waiting for us at home.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A challenge for myself...

My husband and I were talking the other day about some things that we may struggle with that we would like to overcome.  As silly as it may seem one of the things I mentioned for myself is my want to plan and shop for new meals when there is enough food in the house to make something else.  I truly love to make food- that doesn't mean I always do-I get excited about new recipes that I think will go over well with my family.  The unfortunate side is I have a very long list of new things to try and our list of our well liked regular meals is just as long.  Therefore, my cabinets end up getting filled with ingredients here and there and not always used. 

So, for the time being I have set out to make a gradual goal for myself.  I am attempting to use what we have and not go grocery shopping for as long as I can.  My sister-in-law has challenged herself, a few times, going a month with only buying milk and some produce.  I do know that I need to get bananas soon and I am sure we will need lettuce also.  When I do buy things I will only buy the minimum to keep costs down and to really experiment with the foods in our pantry and cabinets.  Fortunately, last week I did a little shopping for some new recipes so we will still have some variety.  It will be towards the end of the challenge that things may get difficult. 

What I hope to accomplish-
Prove to myself that I don't always have to go to the store.
Recognize what things we use the most and don't want to do without.
Teach myself that when I do shop to be frugal, ration, and use what I buy.
Not to have the desire to eat out as often.

I plan on challenging myself throughout the year changing up and increasing my challenge.  I hope by this time next year I will be in a position that I can have shopped, stored, preserved the majority of our food to get through the winter.  This is a lofty goal I am setting for myself but it is a year and I think I can learn and accomplish a lot in that amount of time.

I am holding myself accountable and will document at the end of the week what we ate and what I had to buy.  I will not include things like diapers and such at this time- this is just a food goal right now.

Crossing my fingers for much success and discipline.

Tomorrow I will share a yummy side dish recipe that when my husband took a bite he said, "Mmm, wow, whoa that is really good."  Indeed it was surprisingly yummy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yet another giveaway,

from an amazing blog (Nourished Kitchen) that gives so many great insights on nourished living.  I would love to win the fermented kit and learn how to make pickles, water kefir, yogurt, oh the list goes on and on of what I would want to do from this sight.  This counts as an entry for me so here is to crossing my fingers to win.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I am back and refreshed

Back twice actually- we decided to celebrate my hubbies birthday in Vegas this weekend and get relaxed from our previous vacation.  Maybe a completely backwards way of thinking but it really worked for me.  Yes I still have cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking to do but a night away in a place I didn't have to clean was rewarding enough.  Before we left I sat down and made a dinner meal list for four weeks and even worked on separate grocery lists for each week.  My plan- simplify, budget, and be healthy.  I will keep you informed if there is much success.

I have been waiting a long time to share a great recipe with you all.  I did a review awhile back for one of my favorite nourishing blogs.  I then waited for her to post the recipe before I did and then... well, I have been absent since.  So now I am excited to share- Coconut Flour Pancakes.

If you went and bought the coconut flour to make the bread or lemon poppyseed muffins I have found something else you can use it for and this definitely is on top of the list.  We have this weekly and it actually saved me on our getaway this weekend.  I was able to throw some in a ziploc bag and have for my little guy to eat as meals or a snack.  It is so filling that a little bit can go a long way for the little bellies.

Coconut Flour Pancakes

3 eggs
1 cup of raw milk, coconut milk, or preferred milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 T. of honey
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine liquid and dry in separate bowls. Mix together.  Poor on a hot griddle or pan making small pancakes.  These tend to burn if cooked too long- I use about a 200-250 heat on my griddle that seems to be perfect.

A tip: Once I pour them on the griddle- usually using a little less then 1/4 cup- I spread them out a bit with the back of the measuring cup or even better my clean finger.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A giveaway I hope I win...

Wouldn't it be nice if I won the giveaway here at Nourished Kitchen.  I think this knowledge would benefit me extremely since I am not much of a meat lover.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm back....

I had the privilege of going to Tennessee to spend time with my four siblings their families and my parents these past few weeks.  My oldest brother left for Hong Kong with his wife and six children the day before we left and we had a lot of family activities and events that we enjoyed together (at max there were 32 of us together, 20 being children 12 and under).

Food was definitely not absent this trip, I was in the kitchen helping and preparing, and I didn't give my mind a break from new things to create and make.  I simply decided to take a break from blogging and enjoy my entire family while we were together.

Now I am home, trying to get my house back in order (if that's possible), and have lots of wheels turning in my head.  It may still take some time before I actually begin sharing on a consistent basis but for now you get what you get. :)

I do have one thing to share for those of you with little babies.  It is the season for some amazing fruits and vegetable for our little ones that in a couple of months will either be unavailable or hurt the wallet.  If you have a baby that will be eating solids in less then 3 months then get to buying these foods pureeing and freezing them. 

I wish I would have done this with my little guy that was born in May.  By the time he was able to eat nectarines and so forth they weren't available at my health food store which made me question why they were at other health food stores.  Either way start preparing.  You may have some time too so just be thinking of it and try to snatch up the last batch of the summer goods.  Most of the foods stay good frozen for up to 3 months- I would imagine they would be good longer but I am sure they start loosing nutrients possibly after that. 

For you locals- some of the health food stores around here are having great sales.  Like- Avocados are .79 catching the deals and being prepared will help in the long run.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Things were busier then I thought this week. I was still able to make some new yummy food and have others to share but for now here are some links to some great stuff you just have to try!

Mangoes and Sticky Rice
Oatmeal Bake- Except I didn't add the nuts or fruit.  It turned out great and was even good with a touch of maple syrup on top.  Great before school breakfast.

To come (when I get home)
Coconut Flour Pancakes

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Soup in 100+ degree weather

Yes, I made soup for us last week. Yes, it was hot outside but I just had to give it a try. That is one of my weaknesses- when I come across a recipe that interests me I usually have to make it and make it soon no matter what. Being anxious to sprout and try some lentils this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Slow Cooker Sprouted Lentil Soup

2 cups green lentils, sprouted or soaked overnight
2 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 cup cooked, diced turkey bacon
4-6 cups chicken stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
sea salt and plenty of black pepper to taste

For sprouting instructions go here. Note that you will need to start the sprouting process a few days ahead of time.

Combine all ingredients EXCEPT crushed tomatoes in slow cooker. (The acidity of the tomatoes tend to make the lentils toughen). Cook on high four to six hours or until lentils are tender.

Add the crushed tomatoes, salt and plenty of black pepper to taste. Cook an additional 30 minutes or up to two hours.

Remove the bay leaves and serve alongside a salad or bread if you like.

This makes a nice warm- comforting soup.  This will be a regular when the weather gets cold.  I will  serve it along with something else as my 2 year old didn't care for it (she is the reason I made it because she loves soup, go figure!).  My 6 year old, however, had three bowls and leftovers for lunch the next day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Soaked Whole Wheat Biscuits and much more

If you haven't tried this whole soaking business- do!  It really isn't that hard or time consuming.  It just takes a little bit of planning to be able to soak for 12-24 hours but who doesn't like to have things planned out?  It makes things easier.  I can definitely tell a difference when I slack and stop soaking grains.  Especially with my one year old- his tummy just can't handle the grains but if they have been soaked it is no problem for him.

I am so very excited to share these next two recipes.  I had originally planned on making the biscuits to go along with some eggs and turkey bacon but at the last minute I changed my mind and decided to try to make one of my favorite breakfast foods much healthier.

Here is my healthy version of Chocolate Gravy (I will include the non-healthy version too).  If you haven't had chocolate gravy just trust me and make the version that best suits you.

Soaked Whole Wheat Biscuits

2 1/1 cups of whole wheat flour
6 T of coconut oil
3/4 cup of coconut tonic water
1 T of lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt

The night before, measure the flour into a medium size bowl. Using a pastry cutter cut in the coconut oil into the flour. When the oil is the size of peas or smaller, you are done. Add the coconut milk tonic and lemon juice/vinegar, and mix in until just combined. Leave overnight at room temperature, well covered. 

The next morning preheat the oven to 450. Press down the dough a bit right in the bowl. Sprinkle the baking soda, baking powder and salt on top of the dough, then fold it in half, top to bottom and press down firmly Fold in half again from the side, and press down firmly again. Starting at the top, repeat this process until you have folded the dough about 10-15 times (do so until you feel the rising agents and salt have been well mixed).

Place on a clean surface, and roll out into a rectangle. It should be about 1/2 an inch thick.  You can use biscuit cutters to get nice round biscuits, but I like to simply cut it into squares as there is no waste this way. A pizza cutter works great here. I cut them into small pieces, so I get 20 pieces. If you wanted to make bigger biscuits I recommend that you lower the temperature to 425 degrees and cook for a bit longer .

Place on an un-greased cookie sheet or jellyroll pan and pop it in your preheated oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the top and bottom is lightly browned and the middle is cooked all the way through. Remove to cooling racks when done.

Biscuits are best warm, but we certainly enjoy them cold too!

Healthy Chocolate Gravy

1 1/2 cups of coconut tonic water
1 egg
1/4 cup of agave
1 T of cocoa
1 T of organic butter
2 T of whole wheat flour
1 tsp. of vanilla

Mix coconut milk, egg, agave, cocoa and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  As it begins to melt add the flour whisking together. Slowly pour in the wet mixture and continue to whisk.  It should start to thicken.  When it comes to a boil remove from heat and add vanilla.  As it sits it should set up into a nice gravy like substance.  Pour over biscuits and enjoy!

Original Chocolate Gravy

1 1/2 cups of milk
1 egg
1/4 cup of sugar
1 T of cocoa
1 T of organic butter
2 T of whole wheat flour
1 tsp. of vanilla

Follow the same instructions and use the drop biscuit recipe on the back of the Bisquick box.

Monday, July 12, 2010

This week

This past week I have been preparing the house, grocery shopping, menu planning, and all sorts of things to get ready for my sister to come visit for a week.  After her week stay the four kids and I are flying back to Tennessee with her.  We will be gone for 2 + weeks and coming home with a week to spare of summer vacation. 

I have some new recipes planned out to experiment on with my sister and even some things to try out on the whole family while in Tennessee.  Along with trying to figure out how to be organized enough to have food in our freezer waiting for us when we get home.  Not to mention the whole idea of starting to pack a lunch for my oldest to take to school.  I see this as a challenge that I am very excited to conquer.  I hope to be able to come up with some great ideas that others will be able to enjoy also.

To get through this week I will be sharing some of the other things I made last week, new recipes for this week, things I plan on taking on the airplane to keep four children full and not have to buy or eat any airplane/airport food, and if I am lucky some ideas to help get the school year off to a good healthy start.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Smart little girls...

We had a big bag of gluten free pretzels in our house for a while. When we got towards the bottom my oldest girls asked if we could save them and cover them in chocolate. I said great idea- put them up high- and started brainstorming of how we were going to do it. The other day they reminded me of their suggestion so we got to it. Now, my 5 year old, who had the original idea, ended up having something else in mind but even she loved the creation I came up with.

I used: 
semi sweet chocolate- we only had one small square and a little less then 
1 tsp. of coconut oil brought them to a melting point
stirred to get nice and smooth and then dipped our pretzels
set on a plat or pan with wax paper
store in the refrigerator due to hot weather

**adjust ingredient for how many you want to make**

They were a perfect sweet, salty, cold treat.  If you dip them like this you may be less likely to have messy hands while eating.  If you soak them in chocolate you will have a nice thick layer of chocolate chilled to the bottom of the pretzels and fingers to lick  Your choice!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Homemade Frozen Strawberries

Okay so they aren't really homemade- if we grew them in our garden then I would be able to say they were homemade.  This is simply price comparing.  Sometimes a bag of frozen strawberries is much cheaper then fresh strawberries- sometimes fresh strawberries are much cheaper then frozen ones- sometimes we have eaten too many strawberries and right when I buy a new big box from Costco the family is burned out.  I got a tip from a friend on what to do when you find yourself in that situation.

        -Pat your strawberries clean
        -Cut the stem off
        -Place on a pan that is lined with freezer or wax paper
        -Put in the freezer. When frozen put in a freezer bag and you have yourself
         "homemade" frozen strawberries or just a frugal tip.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Soaked Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

This pizza dough was excellent!!

I am really loving this new method of soaking my grains.  It helps me be prepared and actually makes things a little easier when it is time to make the meal.  Our stomachs feel great and not heavy and weighed down.  One thing I loved about this pizza dough- besides the soft yummy taste- is that I have two bags in my freezer full of dough ready to make two more pizzas.

 Soaked Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

3 cups of water (about 110F)
8-10 cups of whole wheat flour
1-2 T of your acidic component- buttermilk, kefir, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of honey
2 T dry active yeast
1/2 cup of water (about 110F)
1 tsp. honey
1 T salt

You want to soak the flour in advanced to receive the full nutrients and break down the phytates.

Soaking: Combine flour, 3 cups of water, honey, and acidic component.  Adding the honey for the soaking process helps keep the dough moist.  Cover and leave on counter in a warm place for 12-24 hours.

After soaking activate the yeast in the remaining 1/2 cup of water and 1 tsp. of honey.

Combine activated yeast, salt, and soaked mixture.  You may need to add more flour to achieve a workable yet moist dough.  (I was frustrated with this process at first due to like the reasons to soaking grains but I didn't have to add a lot of flour and we still had great results.)

Knead for 5-10 minutes.  Let rise for thicker dough.

Divide into four sections for four 15 in. pizza crusts.  Put the extra dough in individual freezer bags and store in the freezer.

Place the dough out on the pan you are going to use and form it.  I was able to just use my hands- the dough was very easy to work with.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees and cook for 10-15 minutes.

For my toppings I rubbed organic butter and fresh minced garlic onto the crust.  Then added my long simmered spaghetti sauce, raw mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with Italian seasoning and a touch of garlic salt.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Energy Sustaining Bars

I found this recipe a couple of years ago from the Sara Snow website.

She introduces the recipe by saying, "This recipe was inspired from a diet recipe for breakfast bars.  I took that recipe and turned it upside down, added fiber, protein, antioxidants and lots of healthy goodness.  These are incredibly easy to make and keep on hand for grab-and-go mornings."

With my new obsession with soaking grains I made a change but you can easily skip the soaking process and combine everything.
(I never said they look pretty.)

Energy Sustaining Bars

2 ½ cups old fashioned oats
½ cup whole flax seed
½ - 1 cup HOT water ¼ cup organic dark cocoa power (or slightly less)
½ cup natural peanut butter
½ cup honey
½ t spirulina

Soak the oats and flax seeds in warm water with 1 T. of lemon juice for 12-24 hours.  You may need to add a little more water to get a good soak.

After the soaking process combine the other ingredients.  Form into individual sized cookie shapes or even shape it into a bar.  It helps if you just put a scoop onto the plastic wrap and fold over to shape- this leaves your hands clean. Wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator or freezer. A little information about spirulina: You can find it in your health food store in the bulk section for the herbs and spices. If you are local, Dixie Nutrition has it. It is a bright green powdered substance. Spirulina has amazing health benefits- it is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. You can find out more here.