Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Making Homemade Butter from Raw Cream

I have been making homemade butter from raw cream for more than a year now.  And I've actually had this post sitting in my drafts for that long.  I'm not sure why I never posted it... I think I just forgot about it.  I thought I had posted it, actually.  I didn't realize I hadn't until recently when a friend asked about making homemade butter.  I went to direct them to my blog post... and couldn't find it anywhere.  So... here is my post on how to make homemade butter... finally! 


Making Homemade Butter from Raw Cream

Begin by skimming the cream from the tops of your jars of real, grassfed milk.  I use half-gallon mason jars to store my milk and purchased a small stainless steel gravy ladle to skim the cream.  The fresher your cream, the sweeter your butter will be.  But it is not harmful at all to use cultured (or soured) cream… your end result will just be cultured butter, which is filled with healthy probiotics and has sort of a sweet and sour taste to it.  

I make both cultured butter and sweet cream butter.  I like them both quite a lot.  Kevin prefers the sweet cream butter and I do like the fact that I can also always use the buttermilk from the sweet cream butter for baking or in smoothies (or for soaking grains when I used to make things with whole grains).  You can use the buttermilk from the cultured butter at times, but if it smells stinky at all, you need to throw it away.  This is quite a common occurrence when making cultured cream/butter in the warmer months, especially, since the cultured cream can get quite ripe.  So I do tend to make sweet cream butter most often.

I tend to make butter every other weekend since I get my milk on Fridays... although I do skip it at times and only make it once a month if I've found too many other uses for the cream.  It all works out, though, because I always have a decent stash of homemade butter in the freezer.  I’ll skim the cream from each jar of milk during the first week and place it into another half-gallon jar.  Then when I get my milk in the second week, I skim the cream and add it to the half-gallon jar I have reserved last week’s cream in.  I usually end up with 2 to 2 1/2 quarts of raw cream if I don't use the cream for other things during the weeks.  Each quart of cream will yield about a pound of butter. 

When you are ready to make your butter, you will want to use chilled cream.  Pour the cream into your stand mixer bowl with a wire whisk attachment on your mixer.  Turn your mixer to a medium to medium-high speed and just let the mixer do the work. 


Go unload your dishwasher, call your grandma, throw a load in the washing machine… while your mixer does all the work for you.  Your butter should be done in about 10 minutes or so.  (You can also use a food processor to make butter, but you don’t want to use anything that will warm the cream as it churns (some blenders will do this).)  

I want to also note that you should not try to make too much butter at once.  The cream will expand and turn into whipped cream through the process of making butter, so you want to make sure you have plenty of room in your mixer bowl for this to occur.  Once the butter and buttermilk start separating, it can also get kind of messy if you have too much (and sometimes even if you have too little) in the bowl as the butter splashes around in the buttermilk.  (Note:  I normally make much larger batches of butter than are pictured here... on this particular week when I took pictures, I had used most of my cream for the two-week period in coffee and other items... so I didn't have much cream to make butter with.)   


Once your butter has formed and the solids have separated from the buttermilk, pour everything through a strainer.  The liquid milky stuff is buttermilk.  It won’t look like the buttermilk you buy in the store – it won’t be thick – but you can use it as you would buttermilk… in baking, in smoothies, for soaking grains, etc.  I often will freeze mine if I don’t have a use for it that week.  

Transfer your butter to a clean bowl.  Now it’s time to wash your butter.  Sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it?  Well, you need to wash it to make sure you extract all of the buttermilk.  This will make your butter last much longer. 


To wash the butter, you will need to add cold water to the butter.  Don’t add too much so your not splashing all over the place, but add enough to wash.  Use a wooden spoon to press and fold the butter.  This will extract the buttermilk.  Pour the water off (don’t save this stuff).  And add more cold water to repeat the pressing and folding.  You will need to repeat this step until your water remains totally clear.  At that point, you’ve removed all of the buttermilk from the butter.  Remember – the cleaner the butter, the longer it will last.  

Pour off the clear water.  Press and fold your butter a few more times to extract any remaining water.  Pour that off.  Now you can mix in salt, if you want.  I don’t, as I find it more convenient to add salt when I use the butter.  


If you have a butter mold, transfer your butter to the mold.  I don’t have a mold, so I just plop the butter onto a sheet of parchment paper or natural wax paper and shape it into a rectangular cube.  I usually use natural wax paper now... even though that is not what is pictured here... but these pictures were taken more than a year ago.  Then I fold up the sides to seal it and place it in the refrigerator or freezer.  I freeze most of the butter I make fresh for later use, but if I know I’ll be baking or needing a lot of butter during the week, I’ll keep the fresh stuff in the fridge.  It will keep for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. 


Nothing beats homemade, fresh butter.  And it’s honestly a very simple, very low-effort, economical thing to make!  People always laugh at me when I tell them I make my own butter because they think it’s going to be some super labor intensive task (think back to the butter churn days).  They are always surprised to hear how effortless it really is with the use of modern technology (a.k.a. my stand mixer).  So, if you don’t already make your own butter – I challenge you to try it some time.  I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it really is!  


** NOTE:  If you do not have access to real milk, you can follow this same process using the cream you skim from non-homogenized, pasteurized milk, or from a carton of good, quality heavy cream.  


This post is linked to: 
Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager
Traditional Tuesdays @ Delicious Obsessions
Real Food Wednesday @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop

Monday, October 24, 2011

PB&J Pork Tenderloin

My copy of Paleo Comfort Foods arrived while we were in Tennessee a few weeks ago. So, I was anxious to try some recipes when we got home. I had a pork tenderloin in the freezer, so I decided to thaw it and try out the recipe for P, B & J Pork Tenderloin since I had everything on hand for it. So I made this for dinner a few nights after we got home. Pork and apples go so well together, I figured it had to be good. And it was so delicious! It reminded me of some other pork and apple dinners I've made in the past, but this was even better with the nut butter sauce. The recipe in the book calls for pecash butter (pecan-cashew). I just used homemade cashew butter - made with crispy cashews. Any nut butter would work, though. If you have some homemade chunky applesauce, you could just sub that in and make this prep even simpler.

This is definitely a keeper. We all loved it. Kevin had seconds and thirds and fourths and finished off the tenderloin at dinner that night. So much for leftovers on nights when he's hungry. :) I have another pork tenderloin in the freezer that I think I'll be making again in the near future.

P, B & J Pork Tenderloin

2 pound pork tenderloin
2 apples, peeled and cored, cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup nut butter, homemade with crispy nuts is best
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon pepper
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup hot water

Butterfly the pork tenderloin lengthwise and fold out into one uniform piece of pork. Use a meat mallet to pound out the tenderloin a little.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place apples, cinnamon, lemon zest, and honey into a food processor (I used my stick blender processor attachment) and pulse until it looks like a chunky applesauce. Pour the apple mixture onto the tenderloin and spread evenly. Roll up lengthwise and place into a baking dish.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until internal temperature is 150 degrees. Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes.

Mix nut butter, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add hot water until you reach your desired consistency.

Place pork on a serving platter and pour about half of the sauce over the tenderloin. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Paleo Beef Chili

Chili is a perfect dinner for a cool, fall day like the ones we've been having lately.  It's especially good on a night of watching the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS series, or some good football games - Go State!  It's also a very easy meal to prepare.  Normally, I make a big batch in the crockpot, but on this particular day, I made it on the stovetop.  However, this would be perfect for the crockpot, as well. 

I have made paleo chili before, but this is the best one so far.  The bacon adds a wonderful flavor and the carob powder adds a uniqueness to it.  It is so delicious!  I used a recipe that a friend of mine posted on her crossfit facebook page and tweaked some things to make it my own (added butter and mushrooms, more onion, more broth, more spices, carob for cocoa, and used beef instead of bison).  I had about a cup of leftover roast beef that I diced up and threw in here, too... but I don't have it listed below since it won't be a normal thing ton include. 

Paleo Chili

2 Tablespoons grassfed butter
3-4 slices chopped, uncooked bacon
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound grassfed ground beef
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon carob powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups beef broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

In a large stainless steel saucepan, melt butter, then cook bacon for a few minutes over medium heat until some fat has been rendered.


Add onions and mushrooms to the pan and cook another few minutes until onions and mushrooms have softened.  Add garlic and cook a minute or two more. 



Next, add ground beef and brown it a bit.  You don't have to cook it through since it'll continue cooking, just brown it. 


Next, add the spices, broth, tomatoes, and carrots.  Stir.  Cover and simmer over low heat for one hour, stirring occasionally.


Add vinegar and carob/cocoa powder.  Stir.  Cook another 20-30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with sliced avocado and enjoy! 

Note:  If you want to make this in a crockpot, you can still cook the bacon, onions, and mushrooms before tossing it all in the crock.  Or you can just toss everything in together (except the carob powder and vinegar) and let it cook on low all day.  Add the carob powder and vinegar about 30-60 minutes before serving.


This post is linked to: 
Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade
Fresh Bites Friday @ Real Food Whole Health

Friday, October 14, 2011

Philly Cheesesteak in a Bowl

Kevin and I love a good philly cheesesteak sandwich.  Carson does, too.  But since I’m not making much/anything with bread these days, this means no philly cheesesteak sandwiches.  That’s ok, though.  Because we found out that they’re actually just as tasty sans bread and served in a bowl.  I’ve made them several times.  Sometimes I’ll have cheese on them (primal), but usually I don't have cheese on mine to keep it paleo.  I'll take some out in a bowl for me and put cheese on the rest for Kevin and Carson.  Either way they are super tasty.  And very easy if you have some leftover beef.  That’s usually when I make these – when I have leftover steak or pot roast.  I’ll chop up the veggies ahead of time and this makes for a very quick work-night meal.  

Philly Cheesesteak in a Bowl

2 Tablespoons butter
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
Leftover grassfed beef steak or roast works well, too
1/2 cup beef stock or broth
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon coconut aminos
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Good melting cheese

In a large, ovenproof skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  

Add peppers, onions, and mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are translucent and peppers and mushrooms are soft.  

Meanwhile, turn your oven broiler on low. 

Next add the leftover beef.  You can use raw beef if you want, too.  Saute for a minute or two.  

Then add the stock/broth, Worcestershire sauce, coconut aminos, and hot sauce.  Saute for a few minutes more. 


Now sprinkle some shredded cheese or lay some cheese slices atop the beef mixture.  Place in the oven under the broiler until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Remove from broiler and enjoy! 


This post is linked to:
Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade
Fresh Bites Friday @ Real Food Whole Health
Pennywise Platter Thursday @ The Nourishing Gourmet
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS
Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Crispy Squash/Pumpkin Seeds

Fall to me always means fresh squash from the garden or farmers' markets.  I love squash.  Kevin doesn't like it pureed (it's a texture thing for him), but he likes it cubed and roasted.  Carson likes it some days, other days not so much.  But all three of us always love the seeds.  I save the seeds from any kind of fall squash or pumpkin.  The method of preparing them is always the same.  And they are all equally tasty.  So the next time you are cleaning out the seed cavity of a squash, set the seeds aside... they make a wonderful, healthy, paleo snack and are a great to addition to granola, trail mix, or baked goods.  So here's how you make them.

Crispy Squash/Pumpkin Seeds

any fall squash or pumpkin of your liking
4 cups water
2 Tablespoons salt

You'll start by cutting your squash in half and cleaning out the seed cavity. 


Place the seeds and stringy squash "guts" into a bowl.  Once you've got your squash baking in the oven, take the time to clean the seeds.  This can be time consuming, depending on the type of squash used, but it's worth it, trust me.  I often will clean them to the point of the second picture below, set them aside for a bit. Then work at cleaning them again to get all the squash goop off. 



Once you have your clean seeds, place them in a clean bowl and cover with warm water.  Add salt and stir it up a little.  Then cover with a plate or cloth and let it sit on your countertop overnight, for at least 7 or 8 hours, but preferably for 24 hours.  (Sorry I don't have pictures of these steps from here on out... I swear I took them, but they did not upload onto my computer...).  This soaking step is necessary to reduce the seeds' antinutrients and help make them more digestible. 

After the seeds have soaked, spread them out evenly onto a dehydrator tray or cookie sheet.  Dry them until crisp and dry.  Dehydrating the seeds helps to preserve the enzymes, which helps with digestion.

Now your seeds are ready to eat!  You can leave them plain, or spice them up.  They are great either way.  If you leave them plain, they'll be nice and crunchy with a salty flavor to them - yum!  I usually fill glass quart jars with just plain crispy seeds to use throughout the year. 


This post is linked to:
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS
Pennywise Platter Thursday @ The Nourishing Gourmet
Grain-Free Food Carnival @ Real Food Forager

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Simplifying

Good morning!  Today I am simplifying a little.  It's something I've been thinking of doing for awhile now and am finally just doing it.  I'll be taking many small steps to simplify my life.  Why small steps?  Because the small things on their own may be just that... small.  But when you add them all up, they are quite large.  So I am going to eliminate some of the smaller things.  And I am starting with the cessation of my weekly meal plans post. 

For awhile now, writing my weekly post has just been an annoyance to me - to feel like I had to post my meal plans once a week.  Even though no one is forcing me to do it.  For awhile, I really liked doing the weekly posts and they helped keep me organized. 

Well, I think I'm going to stay just as organized without the posts.  I'll still meal plan based on what we have on hand and what is in season each week, but I'm not going to post them.  I'd rather spend just a little more time playing with Carson, cuddling with my husband, or chatting on the phone or emailing with friends/family than on typing up a weekly post.  Relationships have always been what is most important to me.  So, why take away time from that for an unnecessary weekly post? 

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy blogging.  I'll still post on my blog when I can.  But it won't be a priority - as it hasn't been for awhile.  I've got a back-log of posts that I need to get online.  I'll get to them as I have time, though.  Again, I will not let blogging take away from my relationships.  But you will still see new posts from me.  Some weeks, you may see several.  Other weeks none.  It will just depend on my life that week.  I already have very limited "extra" or "free" time on any given day at work.  So when I do find myself with a few spare minutes, I'd much rather spend that time catching up with a friend or family member than on a blog post. 

I'm basically taking my blog back to its original intent... to provide myself a way of keeping recipes organized.  Its much easier for me to jump on my blog to find a recipe than it is to sift through a recipe book or recipe cards.  I'm sure I'll still occasionally post about things other than recipes, but like I said... relationships are my priority, not this blog.  :) 

For those that also follow our family blog, I'll still maintain that one, as well.  And it will take priority over this one.  We use our family blog as our digital scrapbook and it is important to me to record fun things and memories for the future. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

We've got lots to do this week.  Lots of things to do and lots of prep work for a trip that is coming up soon.  Today we are working in the yard... mowing, weed whacking, weeding the flower beds, trimming bushes and trees, cleaning out the gutters, and taking the pool down.  Let's hope we can get it all done... we should be able to since we'll all be out there working.  I want to get my fall and Halloween decorations up today, as well.  Tuesday I have to pick up the dry cleaning on my way home.  Friday is my milk pickup day.  Saturday is still up in the air... there is a slight chance we'll go to Grand Rapids, but most likely we'll stay home.  We want to take Carson to see the Lion King in 3D at the movie theater if we do stay home. 

Actually... most of our week is up in the air, now that I think about it.  We're going to have quite a busy week with something to do every night.  I'm just not sure what will happen when yet.  My cousin, Kristin, from Florida is in town with her husband and son, so we'll be seeing them one night this week.  My cousin, Jessica, is coming over one night to pick up a key and go over a few things since she'll be house and animal sitting for us in a couple of weeks.  Another night this week, Carson and I are going to go check out the new apartment of my cousin, Kristin (different Kristin than the one from FL).  And yet another night, we'll be running over to my BFF's mom's house to drop some stuff off.  Once I know when we'll see my cousins from FL, the other stuff will fall into place.

And so onto the menu... lots of easy meals... and since I'm in a rush this morning, I'm just posting the dinners. 

Su - shepherd's pie stuffed potatoes; green beans and summer squash sauted in olive oil

M - paleo chili in the crockpot; cheese crisps

Tu - chicken and veggie soup in the crockpot

W - leftover paleo chili served over spaghetti squash; broccoli

Th - leftover chicken and veggie soup

F - hot dogs (with no buns); sweet potato fries; green beans; applesauce

Sa - if we are home... pesto presto chicken; roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts; fruit

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Canning Tomatoes

I've been canning quite a few tomatoes this year.  Our heirloom tomato plants have been absolutely loaded with fruit.  I've made salsa, pasta sauce, eaten tons fresh, froze some, and have been canning them.  And I haven't had to buy a single tomato!  I posted about canning tomatoes packed in water back in 2008, but I've since given up using water and just can them in their own juices.  I like the flavor better.  And I actually like canning the tomatoes themselves better than making sauces with them first.  Then I can just open a jar of my home-canned tomatoes in the winter and make up a pizza sauce or pasta sauce.  We like a lot of variation and get tired of the same sauce over and over again, so this works best for us.  Plus, aren't my jars just so pretty with the different colored heirlooms??  I love it! Anyway, since it's a slightly different process than canning in water, I figured it warranted it's own post. 

Canning Tomatoes (packed raw and in their own juices)

Tomatoes
Lemon juice - 2 Tablespoons per quart or 1 Tablespoon per pint

Wash tomatoes. 


Core and cut an "x" in the bottom side of the tomato.

Dip in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until skins split, then dip in cold water.



Slip off skins (some people also prefer to wait till this step to remove the cores... I find it easier to remove them first, but to each her own.).


Leave whole, halve, quarter, or chop (I usually quarter).

Add bottled lemon juice to the jars.

Fill jars with raw tomatoes.  Press tomatoes in the jars until spaces between them fill with juice. Leave 1/2-inch headspace.  Place lids on jars and process pints or quarts for 25 minutes at 10lbs of pressure (or for 85 minutes in a boiling water bath).  Remove jars from canner.  Let cool.  Store after 24 hours. 


This post is linked to: 
Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Egg in a Basket (with Zucchini)

Have you ever heard of Egg in a Basket, or Hole in the Heads, or One-Eyed Jacks?  It usually refers to the idea of cutting a round hole in a slice of toast, placing it in a frypan, and cracking an egg in the center to cook.  I always called them Hole in the Heads, but I figured Egg in a Basket was a more appropriate reference.  Since we're not eating bread at our house these days, I decided to try them with zucchini and summer squash since we are getting so much of it from our garden.  It's a good use for those zucchini or squash that get ginormous overnight when you don't think they're quite ready to pick the day prior.  We really enjoyed these.  And you really can't have a simpler breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Zucchini Eggs in a Basket

1 large zucchini or summer squash
eggs
coconut oil or butter for frying
celtic sea salt

Grease your pan with coconut oil or butter.  Let it heat up. 

Slice your zucchini or summer squash into about 1/2"-3/4" slices.  Use a sharp knife to cut the seeds out of the middle, leaving a hole. 

Fry up both sides of the zucchini until tender.  Then crack an egg into the center.  Flip over after the egg has cooked on the first side.  Sprinkle with celtic sea salt, serve, and enjoy! 


This post is linked to:
Traditional Tuesdays @ Delicious Obsessions
Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

10 years today... always remember!!!  I am somber as I remember what that day was like.  Please spend some time in prayer today for the families most impacted by the events of 9/11/01.  As well as our armed forces that so bravely defend our country at home and overseas.  May God bless them all!!

Today we are taking things easy, just enjoying time together as a family.  And I'll be packing and prepping some stuff for the week.  I'll be going to Saratoga Springs, New York for work for a few days this week.  Carson starts preschool on Tuesday.  Friday is my flex day - Carson and I are possibly going to meet up with my SIL, niece, and nephew at Impression 5 Science Center.  Saturday we are planning on going to the Detroit Zoo with some friends.  It'll be a busy week, but at least it ends with a couple of days of fun!  :)  I found out on Friday that my cousin and her son just booked a spontaneous trip home from Florida.  They'll be here on Thursday until early next week, so we'll be seeing them at some point, too, just not sure when yet.  I'm very excited for to see them - it's been 2 years since we've seen each other! 

It's not likely that I'll tackle a lot of extras this week.  I'm hoping to get a few things done while I'm in New York, though... things I can do on the computer.  I am creating some learning activities for our trip to the zoo on Saturday, as well as some learning activities for our trip to Tennessee in a couple of weeks.  So I'm hoping I'll have some time to finish up the zoo activities and to get started on the activities for the Tennessee trip.  Maybe I'll have some time to catch up on my recipe posts, too.  That'd be nice to knock out a few posts that have been lingering.  Just depends how late I'm out and how much exploring I do in Saratoga.  Otherwise, I'm taking it easy this week, I think.  Although if we don't end up going to Lansing on Friday, I'm sure I'll do some canning, but that's about it.  I do know that today, I'll be making up some things in advance so Kevin and Carson have things to eat while I'm gone... primal egg casserole, crockpot sausage and veggie medley, a fresh fruit salad, and some snacks.  But that's easy stuff. 

Last week's exercise... not too great... but better than nothing, I guess.  Su - 15min elliptical. M - nada. Tu - 1mi walk, punching bag. W - 1mi walk.  Th - 1mi walk, 10min elliptical.  F - 1mi walk.  Sa - 1mi hike, kettlebell video. 

Anyway, here's what the menu looks like... lots of crockpot use.  :) 

Breakfasts:
Lunches & Snacks:
  • Leftovers
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Apple slices with almond butter
  • Protein bars
Dinners:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Canned Pear Slices

Our pear trees are producing a fair amount of decent fruit this year.  I'm still trying to figure out all the varieties that we have.  We definitely have a couple bartlett trees, and I believe we have a green anjou,  a comice tree, and an asian pear tree.  We also have two trees that I believe are bosc.  And I'm trying to figure out if another tree is one of the old school pear varieties with apple-shaped pears.  The bosc trees are loaded with fruit.  The others, which all ripen earlier than the bosc, have produced a fair amount.  I didn't make as many changes in the orchard this year as I had hoped to, especially with the pear trees, so I was quite impressed with the fruit that they have produced.  Some are very pretty fruit - like the bartlett pear on one of my trees pictured at left - and some are not so pretty, but it still tastes great!  That's what's important.  :) 

I've done a small amount of canning with them.  I did a test run last week, with just 3 pints.  And I'll be doing some more this week (probably tonight).  And I'll be doing more once the bosc trees are ready.  This was the first time I've canned pears.  It was fairly simple.  The most time consuming part is peeling and slicing them.  I did some research before I started and discovered that when canning pears, you shouldn't let them ripen to the point of being good to eat.  You want them to be firm.  The best way to tell if they're ready to can is to press on the top of the neck, by the stem.  If it has a slight give, they're ready.  You don't want to wait for them to ripen all the way, or you'll end up with really mushy canned pears.  I also read that you'll get a much better texture/outcome if you raw pack them.  So that's what I did.  I used a very light syrup and just followed the instructions in my Ball canning book. 

Canned Pears

Very light syrup:
1/2 cup sugar or sucanat
4 cups water

Heat sugar and water until boiling. Let simmer while you prep your pears.
Meanwhile, wash, pare, core and slice pears. Pack fruit in hot jars. Pour hot syrup over pears, leaving about an inch of head space. Process pints in boiling water bath for 25 minutes.


This post is shared via:
Real Food Wednesday @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

It's September already - yikes!  And we're in the midst of Labor Day weekend.  Where did summer go, for real??  It makes me sad.  I'm not ready for it to end.  I'm not ready for the cooler temperatures.  I'm not ready for Carson to start preschool.  I just don't want summer to end.  Sadly, I can't stop it from ending, though, and can only get over it and start looking forward to fall activities.  :)  I do love fall, as well. 

Anyway, so what's going on this week?  Lots of fun stuff!!  Today we're headed to church in Grand Blanc and maybe to the farmers' market.  Monday, we're headed west to Hudsonville (near Grand Rapids) to celebrate Kevin's Grandpa's birthday at the farm.  Tuesday, I'm taking the day off from work and Carson and I are heading west again - to Saranac and to Grand Rapids - to visit my friend, Sara, who is home from Colorado with her almost 6-month old son, Aiden... whom I cannot wait to meet!!!  We're thinking of taking the kids to Robinette's orchard for a few hours.  Kevin may go biking on Tuesday night, also.  We have nothing going on Wednesday, that I'm aware of.  Thursday, I'll be taking the morning off of work so that I can take Carson to his preschool orientation.  He'll get to meet his teachers (I met them last week at parent orientation), see his classroom, and meet some classmates.  Friday, I'm working (boo!) and it's my week for milk pick-up.  Saturday, I think we are headed to Detroit for a Tigers game with my mom's family.  We've been talking about it for a couple months, but we still don't have our tickets bought yet (there are still plenty available)... so I'm not entirely sure we're all still going, but as of two weeks ago that was still the plan.  I'll know more tomorrow. 

Here's what the exercise last week looked like... Su: 15min elliptical.  M: 2-mile walk, 1hr zumba.  Tu: 2-mile walk.  W: 1-mile walk, kettlebell video.  Th: 2-mile walk, yoga.  F: 2-mile walk, 15min elliptical, swimming. Sa: kettlebell video, swimming.

I canned tomatoes, salsa, pears, and peaches last week. I still need to update my tally in the sidebar.  I also froze zucchini, squash, beans, broccoli, peppers, and basil pesto.  I butchered 8 chickens and froze the cuts.  I made 15 quarts of chicken stock with the chicken carcasses/feet/necks and froze it... I won't need to make it for awhile again now.  I made crispy pecans, cashews, and pine nuts.  As well as peach fruit leather, a peach cobbler, and some dried peaches.  That's not too shabby considering we had lots going on last week and Kevin was gone for work... although we did have yesterday free when we hadn't planned on it, so that helped a little, but I'd actually already done most everything prior to yesterday.  I did can a second batch of peaches, make fruit leather, dried peaches, and peach cobbler yesterday, though.

This week, I want to make beef jerky, crispy walnuts and almonds, and at least one batch of protein bars.  I'll also be freezing more produce, I'm sure.  And I might can some more tomatoes or pasta sauce.  I'm also going to do some more dehydrating... dried tomatoes, dried peaches, dried nectarines, and dried pineapple.  I also need to make some things for the party tomorrow... I'm thinking some fruit gelatin (with real gelatin, not jello) and maybe frijole mole dip with cucumbers... but I still need to make some mayo if I'm going to make that. 

Breakfasts:
  • Scrambled eggs, sausage
  • Smoothies and hard boiled eggs
  • Salmon frittata muffins
  • Yogurt with fruit
Lunches & Snacks:
  • Leftovers
  • Salads with homemade dressing
  • Frijole mole dip with cucumbers and carrots
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Dried fruit and crispy nuts
  • Apples and peanut butter
Dinners:
  • Su: feta stuffed meatballs; tzatziki; steamed broccoli and cauliflower
  • M: most likely on the road home, or if we're home in time... zucchini hole-in-the-heads with veggies
  • Tu: misc. leftovers or zucchini hole-in-the-heads with veggies
  • W: grilled zucchini pizzas; salads
  • Th: crockpot beef roast with carrots, kohlrabi, and celeraic
  • F: philly cheesesteaks in a bowl
  • Sa: at Comerica Park? 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

We've got yet another busy week ahead of us.  I really don't think things will slow down anytime soon... it's seriously looking like we'll be pretty busy until like... March.  :)  I really can't believe that next weekend is Labor Day weekend.  I'm so not ready for summer to be over!!  I do love fall, but I love summer just a tad bit more!  :)  So anyway, today I think we're going to go to church in Grand Blanc and then we'll hit the farmers' market afterwards.  Monday, I am going to the final night of free Zumba on the beach with a couple of my friends.  Tuesday morning, Kevin leaves for Virginia and Tennessee for work.  I have to go to parent orientation for Carson's preschool on Tuesday night.  Wednesday I'm getting my hair done and picking up the chickens.  Kevin comes home really late on Thursday night.  Friday is my flex day. I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet.  We may be hanging out with our friends Kati and Tony.  And Saturday we are going to Michigan’s Adventure with my SIL, BIL, niece, and nephew.  At least as long as we don't get hit with any leftover rain from Irene.  I really hope we don't because we're really looking forward to a fun day! 

We'll see what else we end up doing this week.  I need to start prepping some things for our trip to Tennessee in a month.  We have so much going on between now and then, I am going to have to try to squeeze in some things here and there and stick them in the freezer till the trip.  I mostly want to prep and freeze lots of things to have in the car on the way there and back.  Things like larabars, granola bars, crispy nuts, trail mix, beef jerky, etc.  Hopefully I can get one batch of larabars done this week and maybe do some crispy cashews.  I know I'll be doing some food preservation, too.  I've got a lot of tomatoes from the garden, so I'm planning to can chopped tomatoes this afternoon.  I want to do a batch of pasta sauce this week, too.  And of course, I'll be dealing with the chickens on Wednesday night.  I'll be picking up 8 whole birds, which I'll butcher up and freeze into meal size portions of the different cuts.  We'll see what else I can get done. 
Here’s what the exercise looked like last week. Sunday – 10min elliptical, 10min boxing the heavy bag. Monday – 2mi walk, 1hr zumba.  Tuesday - 2mi walk, 10min elliptical.  Wednesday - 2mi walk.  Thursday - ~4mi walking, lap swim.  Friday - ~5mi walking, lap swim.  Saturday - ~3mi walking. 

Breakfasts:
Lunches and Snacks:
Dinners:
  • S – grilled pork chops with pesto; tomato cucumber salad; corn on the cob; peaches
  • M – grilled bbq chicken; corn on the cob; zucchini and green beans sauteed in olive oil
  • Tu – leftovers or scrambled eggs with veggies; fruit
  • W – sliced cheese; raw cucumbers and carrots with ranch dip; crispy nuts; peaches
  • Th – hot dogs; gf zucchini fries; peaches
  • F – sloppy joe stuffed peppers; corn on the cob; fresh fruit
  • Sa – on the road

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grain-Free Dutch Baby Pancakes

I have made dutch baby pancakes many times. They're a quick, easy, and tasty breakfast. I haven't made them since we've been avoiding grains, though. So when I saw a recipe for grain-free dutch baby pancakes on Nourishing Days, I knew we had to try them. So I made them yesterday morning for breakfast with some scrambled eggs and bacon. They were a hit! We couldn't tell they were not made with wheat flour at all. They tasted just like the ones I've made in the past. This is definitely going to be a regular breakfast for us. I served them with sliced banana and nectarine. Kevin and Carson also had some maple syrup on theirs. And I did modify the recipe slightly, with the addition of vanilla.

Grain-Free Dutch Baby Pancakes

3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons almond meal
2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + extra for serving generous pinch of nutmeg pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons butter or ghee
fruit/honey/maple syrup/yogurt for serving

Place a 12" cast-iron skillet or 9x13" glass baking dish in your oven and preheat to 475 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk the eggs. Whisk in milk and then flours, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt until completely combined.

Once the oven is preheated, very carefully remove the skillet or baking dish from the oven and immediately place butter in skillet. Rotate skillet and allow butter to melt all over and coat skillet. It will sizzle, the pan is so hot.

As soon as butter is melted pour in batter, making sure it is evenly distributed. Place the pan back in preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes or until the pancake is puffed up in the middle and golden brown all the way around.  (Note that the puffiness will deflate quickly once you remove the pan from the oven and let the pancakes cool... at least mine did.  I took this picture a couple minutes after I had pulled it out of the oven and it had already mostly deflated.)


Meanwhile, chop fruit (banana, apple, pear, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, etc) into bite-sized pieces.

Cut the pancake into slices and serve topped with fruit, maple syrup, honey, and/or some plain whole milk yogurt.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

This week is another busy one.  Today, we're going to church in Grand Blanc.  Then we are headed out to my aunt's house on the lake for our cousin Haleigh's birthday party.  Hopefully I'll hear today about picking up some fresh chickens this week.  I ordered 8 whole birds and plan to butcher them up to freeze in meal-size portions of the different cuts (breasts, thighs, legs, etc.).  So we'll see when I can pick them up.  Monday I am going to another free Zumba class on the beach with some friends.  Tuesday, I will hopefully be picking up the chickens and Kevin is probably going biking.  Wednesday I'll be packing... at least at this point.  Thursday morning, we're leaving for a few days in Lafayette, Indiana.  At least that is the plan now.  Kevin will go either way - he has to go for work.  Carson and I will tag along as long as my job doesn't get too crazy and my boss doesn't change his mind about letting me take a couple days off. Assuming we go to Lafayette, we'll come home on Saturday night. 

I'm going to try something new by posting whatever exercise I was able to do in the week prior. We'll see if I keep up with the posts, or not. I'm sure there will be weeks I forget about posting it, or just don't have the time to include it (I'm often pressed for time with these posts). But maybe it'll be good and make me feel more accountable. Every week will be different, based on time available after work and what I actually feel like doing. But we'll see how it goes. Last week's exercise looked like this: Sunday - 1hr hatha yoga. Monday - 2 mi walk, 1hr zumba. Tuesday - 2mi walk, kettlebell video.  Wednesday - 1 mi walk, kettlebell video.  Thursday - ~1 1/2 hrs of walking around Grand Blanc for Back the the Bricks. Friday - 20min fat-burning yoga, swimming, 10min elliptical. Saturday - 10min elliptical, 1hr hatha yoga.

Breakfasts:
  • Grain-free dutch baby pancakes; bacon
  • Fried eggs; bacon
  • Yogurt with fresh peaches
  • Smoothies
Lunches and Snacks:
  • Leftovers
  • Cucumber slices with ranch dip
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Peach fruit leather
  • Crispy nuts
Dinners:
  • S: bbq beef sandwiches (from leftover roast); roasted veggies; side salads; fresh pears
  • M: modified BALTs (bacon-tomato-avocado lettuce wraps); cucumber slices; green beans sauteed in olive oil and garlic; fresh fruit
  • T: grilled brat patties (local, pastured, organic); grain-free zucchini fries; cucumber slices; fresh fruit
  • W: misc. leftovers and garden items to clean out the refrigerator
  • Th - Sat: in Lafayette

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sausage Zucchini Bake

I am still getting quite a few zucchini from our garden, so I've been trying to use it up in tasty ways.  I saw a recipe for sausage zucchini bake on Kitchen Stewardship and thought I'd try it.  I made a few modifications based on things I had on hand, so click on the link above for the original recipe. 

This was really good!  We all really enjoyed it a lot.  I think this is a new favorite way to use up zucchini.  The leftovers were great, too... and for those of you that know me, you know I don't usually care for leftovers... so for me to say they were good is a pretty big thing.  :) 

This is a really affordable recipe.  Even moreso if you have a garden.  The zucchini, tomato, and onion all came from my garden.  The pasta sauce was homemade.  The pork sausage was local, organic, pastured.  I did use up some conventional shredded cheese that I had in the freezer for this, but I'll use local, raw cheese in the future. 

Another great thing about this dish is that it can be prepped ahead.  I prepped everything ahead 24 hours in advance - cooked the sausage/onions, sliced the zucchini and tomato.  So it was super fast to assemble and pop in the oven for dinner.  We've been more pressed for time than normal lately, with my working longer hours at work, so having something easy to prep and get cooking is essential for us these days. 

Something else to note, I only made a 9x9 pan of this, yet I still used the quantities listed below.  It filled my casserole dish to the top, but it was delicious! 

Sausage Zucchini Bake

1 pound sausage
1 chopped onion
1-2 large zucchini
1 jar pasta sauce, preferably homemade
1-2 tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded cheese

Slice you zucchini into 1/2" thick slices.  Don't worry about peeling it.  Sprinkle the zucchini with salt and let drain. 

Meanwhile, brown sausage. Saute onion in with the meat. 

Pour a little pasta sauce in a 9×13 glass baking dish. Layer zucchini on top.

Mix the remaining spaghetti sauce in a large bowl with the sauteed meat.  Pour over top of the zucchini.

Layer sliced tomatoes on top, then sprinkle with cheese.  (Look at that yummy tomato... fresh from the garden... I love this time of year!)


Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15-30 minutes longer, until the cheese is browned and the sides are bubbling.


This post is linked to:
Grain Free Real Food Carnival @ Real Food Forager

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

We have another busy week ahead of us. Today we are going to church in Swartz Creek. Not sure what else we'll do today. We may go hiking if the weather is nice this afternoon. Monday I'm going to a free Zumba class at the beach in Linden. Tuesday afternoon I go back to the dentist to get my crown put on. I'll be glad to get the temporary one off. And hopefully this is the end of it and I won't end up needing a root canal in the near future.  I think Kevin is going biking with some buddies on Tuesday night.  Wednesday I am going to PF Changs for dinner with a bunch of people from work to send off my old boss. She's moving to Virginia and we're all going to miss her so much! Thursday I am going to Sault Ste. Marie for work. Thursday night is also the Back to the Bricks cruise down Saginaw that we're hoping to go check out. Friday is my flex day. I'm not sure what our plans will look like yet. Its possible we'll end up in Grand Rapids to visit some out of state family. Or we might meet up with my cousin and her son to go to the Genesee County Fair.  But I probably should really stay home and can some tomatoes since we are getting a good amount of ripe tomatoes. I'd like to do a batch of chopped tomatoes and a batch of salsa. Saturday morning, we'd like to get up and go for a family bike ride. I might can a batch of pasta sauce, too... we'll see if I get enough tomatoes this week yet. Otherwise, I'm not sure what we're doing on Saturday.

Here's what I'm thinking for meals...

Breakfasts:
  • Fried eggs; bacon
  • Smoothies
  • Hard boiled eggs; fresh fruit
  • Yogurt with crispy nuts and fruit
Lunches and snacks:
  • Leftovers
  • Roasted beet and feta salad
  • Frijole mole dip with cucumbers and carrots
  • Apple slices with almond butter
  • Crispy nuts
  • Fresh fruit and veggies
  • Peach fruit leather
Dinners:
  • S - grilled bbq chicken; grilled zucchini; fresh tomatoes; grilled peaches
  • M - grilled steak; grilled baked potatoes; green beans
  • T - zucchini nachos; corn on the cob; fresh fruit
  • W - leftovers
  • Th - eggplant/zucchini parmesan; green beans; corn on the cob
  • F - crockpot beef roast with carrots, kohlrabi, and corn on the cob
  • Sa - tbd... we'll see what we end up doing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zucchini Boats

We've been fortunate to have another bumper crop of zucchini again this year. Although, is there ever a year where everyone doesn't have a bumper crop of zucchini? :) It seems like its the veggie plant that just keeps on giving. Good thing we like zucchini! I generally use a lot of zucchini to bake with this time of year, but since we are trying to eat mostly paleo or primal, I'm not doing much dessert baking with it. We've been using most of it in our dinners - either as the main dish or a side dish. Something we've made a few times this year and have made many times over in years past (but I've never posted them) - are zucchini boats.

I don't ever follow a recipe, per se. I just throw together a bunch of random items that I have on hand and stuff it into the zucchini boats. There are lots of ideas out there for different concoctions and we've made our own versions of most of them... cheeseburger zucchini boats, italian meatball zucchini boats, taco zucchini boats, pizza zucchini boats, greek zucchini boats, etc. You can stuff them with just about anything. The night that this particular picture was taken (sorry I didn't get a picture after they were cooked!), I just through together some ground beef, diced tomatoes, diced onion, and diced bell pepper. Then I sprinkled on a little raw colby cheese about half way through cooking. It was a great tasting, healthy, and very quick weeknight dinner.


The idea for any zucchini boat is the same. I like to use medium sized zucchinis. You'll want to scoop out the seeds, just so you have a small hollow area to stuff. I've even mixed the seeds/flesh into my stuffing mixture before so I'm not wasting anything. Then throw together whatever sounds good to you for stuffing the zucchini. Stuff the zucchini boats. Place them in a casserole dish or on a baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes at 375, until done. Super easy!

Here are some ideas that I have made and we have liked:

  • ground beef, ketchup, mustard, relish, cheese (cheeseburger)
  • meatballs, pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese (italian meatball)
  • ground beef, diced onion, diced bell pepper, minced garlic, pasta sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese
  • ground beef, taco seasoning, salsa - then serve with sour cream, avocado/guacomole (taco)
  • ground lamb, feta, diced onions, diced olives (greek)
  • ground beef/sausage, mushrooms, banana peppers, pepperoni, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese (pizza)
  • ground beef, sausage, shredded cabbage, diced onion, diced tomatoes, ketchup

This post is linked to:
Traditional Tuesdays @ Delicious Obsessions
Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival @ Hartke is Online
Monday Mania @ The Healthy Home Economist
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

We've been having a really fun weekend with a swimming playdate on Friday and a day trip to Holland yesterday. So I guess its probably time to work today and get some things done in the yard. Although we may still make some time to play and go water skiing at my aunt's.  We'll see what the day brings, but we do want to make the most of the water since it's supposed to cool off this week.  I'm not ready for the cool off - I love the heat (as long as I can also escape to the a/c when needed).  Its too soon to be cooling down already.  We want more beach time, at least one more trip to the splash pad, more water ski time, more pool time!  Guess we'll have to start putting the solar cover on the pool.  And hopefully it'll heat up again next week. 

We've got lots of fun things planned this week. Monday, I'm going to a yoga class in Swartz Creek with a friend. Tuesday, I am going to the local WAPF chapter meeting.  We're hearing about gut health this week, so it should be a good one again.  Then we are going to the ski show with my BIL, SIL, niece, and nephews on Tuesday evening. Wednesday we are taking advantage of the cooler weather and going hiking. Kevin is helping his brother with some stuff.  Thursday Kevin is going mountain biking with some buddies and Carson and I are possibly meeting some friends at a local park for some play time. we are taking a family hike.  Friday I have to pick up the milk and CSA order after work. Saturday we are headed down to Belle Isle for the day with some friends. So it'll be a busy, but super fun week!

I have no idea what I am going to do this week as far as extras. I know I'll freeze beans, sweet corn, and zucchini. But I haven't thought much past that. We're getting some tomatoes, plus lots of zucchini, so maybe I'll make some zucchini salsa. We'll see if I end up with some time later this week.

Breakfasts:
  • Fried eggs with bacon
  • Yogurt with fruit and crispy nuts
  • Smoothies
  • Frittata muffins
  • Hard boiled eggs
Lunches and Snacks:
  • Leftovers
  • Salads with leftover meat/veggies
  • Cucumber-tomato-onion italian salad
  • Fruit
  • Crispy nuts
  • Fruit rolls
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Sliced cheese
  • Pickles
Dinners:
  • S: grilled steaks; corn on the cob; zucchini and beans sauteed in olive oil and garlic
  • M: grilled sweet italian sausages (local); corn on the cob; green beans; fresh fruit
  • T: Jimmy Johns Unwiches at the ski show
  • W: zucchini noodles with pasta sauce; roasted veggies
  • Th: grilled bbq chicken; sausage zucchini bake; corn on the cob; green beans; caprese salad
  • F: salads with leftover bbq chicken, veggies, and crispy nuts; ratatouille; fresh fruit
  • Sa: in Detroit, maybe in Greektown?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

We don't really have too much going on again this week, which is nice. Today we're headed to church and possibly to the farmers' market afterwards. Tuesday morning, I am going to the dentist to get prepped for a new crown. Is it bad that I sort of hope I feel too crummy to go back to work afterwards? ;-p Too bad that probably won't happen.  Maybe we'll go to the ski show on Tuesday night - we haven't been since June.  We'll see what we feel like doing.  Thursday I have to drop the milk jars off to Dianne. Friday is my flex day. Carson and I are hanging out with Kati and Tony. I'm not sure what we're going to do yet. Saturday, we may end up making a day trip to Holland - to the Dutch Village and Holland State Park beach.  We need to check to see if Kevin's grandparents will be around so we can stop to see them quick on our way home, maybe.  We were supposed to go camping this weekend, but as of even 5 weeks ago, there were literally zero sites available at about 20 different state parks that I looked into. So we're not going camping.  We're thinking about maybe doing some backyard camping, though... just depends on whether we go to Holland or not.

Since I am roasting a chicken today, I'll be making some chicken stock tomorrow.  I'm also dehydrating some crispy pine nuts and crispy pecans right now.  I'm out of mayo and ranch dressing, so I'll be making some later today.  I think I'll probably make another batch of pesto to freeze, too.  And I'll be freezing more beans again this week.  I'm getting some orange and red bell peppers, so I'll probably chop some of those up to freeze, as well.  Not sure what else yet.  I may finally make some nut butter bread, but I'm not sure yet. 

Breakfasts:
Lunches & Snacks:
Dinners:
  • S: crockpot rotisserie chicken; roasted veggies (carrots, cauliflower, peppers, corn, summer squash)
  • M: zucchini parmesan with zucchini and summer squash; green beans; fresh fruit
  • T: modified chicken chili with pesto (no beans, extra veggies)
  • W: grilled chicken; caprese salad; summer squash sauteed in olive oil and garlic
  • Th: grilled beef kebabs with onions, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers; creamy cucumber salad
  • F: grilled salmon with pesto; summer squash, zucchini, and kale sauteed in olive oil and garlic; fresh fruit
  • Sa:  TBD... in Holland/GR?  or over a backyard campfire? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Paleo Dolmades (a.k.a. grape leaves)

As I mentioned in my post for chicken souvlaki, we had a greek feast with some friends on Saturday.  I decided to make some dolmades/grape leaves to go along with our meal.  Some people think making dolmades is really labor intensive, but I don't think so.  Yes, they take some time to roll up each dolma, but it goes really quickly, in my opinion.  I prepped these the night before so they were ready to stick in the oven to cook before dinner on Saturday.  And I probably only spent about 20-30 minutes prepping them on Friday night... which I don't consider bad at all. 

I used my own pickled grape leaves for these, but you can pick up a jar at the store in the international section, also.  Normally, dolmades have rice in them, but since we are avoiding grains as much as possible, I decided to try making them without the rice.  They turned out great!  No one missed the rice at all and everyone commented about how delicious they were. 

Paleo Dolmades

1 jar grape leaves
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
3 Tablespoons dried dill
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken broth

Take the grape leaves out of the jar, rinse, and drain. 

Mix the ground beef, onions, dill, mint, tomatoes, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl. 

Place one grape leaf on a flat surface.  Place a small amount of the meat mixture (about 2-3 Tablespoons, maybe?) in the center of the bottom part of the leaf. 

Fold the bottom pieces of the grape leaf up over the meat. 

Then fold in each side of the grape leaf.  Once the sides are folded in, start to roll it up.  You'll want to roll it pretty tightly.

Then place the rolled dolma into a casserole dish.  You'll want to pack in the dolmades very tightly so that they are held in place during the cooking and don't risk opening up. 

Once you have all your dolmades in your casserole dish, pour the chicken broth over top, just enough to cover.  I actually ended up switching mine to a different casserole dish so that it wasn't filled to the top edge and wouldn't risk boiling over in the oven.  You can do all of this ahead of time.  If you are prepping ahead, cover the dish and stick it in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. 

When you are ready to cook the dolmades, preheat your oven to 375.  Cover your casserole dish with its lid (or foil if you don't have a lid) and bake for an hour to an hour and a half.  I cooked mine for an hour and a half.  Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and serve!  I've had dolmades with a tomato based sauce over them, an egg based sauce, and tzatziki.  They are great with any of these!  I decided to serve mine on Saturday with tzatziki



This post is linked to:
Traditional Tuesdays @ Delicious Obsessions
Pennywise Platter Thursday @ The Nourishing Gourmet
Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade
Simple Lives Thursday @ A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
Primal Cave @ Primal Toad
Grain Free Real Food Carnival @ Real Food Forager

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chicken Souvlaki

We had some friends over yesterday and I prepared a Greek feast for dinner... chicken souvlaki, dolmades (post to come), tzatziki, greek salad, and fresh fruit.  It was soooo good!  Everyone loved it, even the kids ate really well. 

Souvlaki always goes over really well.  It's such a simple thing, yet full of delicious flavor.  It's one of my favorite things to make in the summer on the grill.  I've tried it indoors in the winter in a grill pan and it's great, too... but you really can't beat the grill.  :)  I posted the recipe for pork souvlaki a couple of years ago, but I most often make chicken souvlaki.  So I figured I'd post it for chicken... plus, I've changed a couple ingredients, which are reflected below. 

Chicken Souvlaki

2 pounds chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 medium onion
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaping teaspoon sea salt
1 heaping teaspoon black pepper
1/4 - 3/8 cup cold-pressed, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon dried Greek oregano
wooden skewers, soaked overnight

Cut the chicken breasts into uniform pieces/chunks.  Cut the ends off your onion and then slice into quarters.  Separate the layers into a large bowl.  Add your remaining ingredients.  Then add chicken and toss to coat.  Place in the fridge for at least 5 hours and for best results, overnight. 

Place your wooden skewers in a shallow baking dish that’s filled with water. Allow the wooden skewers to soak overnight.  This prevents them from disintegrating when grilling.

The next day, skewer your chicken.  I add some of the onions on the skewers, too. 

Pre-heat your grill.  When you have a medium-high heat, grill your souvlaki skewers for 3-4 minutes a side and then keep warm until all the souvlaki are cooked. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on your souvlaki, followed by a sprinkle of fine sea salt and dried Greek oregano.


This post is linked to:
Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade
Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival @ Hartke is Online
Monday Mania @ The Healthy Home Economist
Pennywise Platter Thursday @ The Nourishing Gourmet
Simple Lives Thursday @ A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
Primal Cave @ Primal Toad