Monday, May 30, 2011

Primal Egg Casserole

This is just a basic egg casserole recipe.  I almost didn't even post it, but figured since I've made it about 5 times now, I might as well.  Each time I've made it, the casserole has been slightly different - switching out the greens or adding a vegetable.  This is very simple and fast to make.  And it's very good.  I will bake it on Sunday evening, slice it, and store it in the refrigerator for fast, easy breakfasts on our busy work mornings.  This is great straight out of the fridge, or warmed a little in the oven. 

I know my pictures show the casserole with cheese, but I've listed it as an optional ingredient below.  The first time I made it, I used cheese (and took pictures).  But I don't generally add the cheese anymore.  It's great without! 

Primal Egg Casserole

2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 pound naturally seasoned sausage
1 bunch greens - spinach, kale, swiss chard, beet greens, etc.8-10 eggs
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, optional
6-8 eggs
a small bunch of parsley or other fresh herb... chives are great in this, too
1/4 cup shredded cheese, optional

Preheat the oven to 375.   Heat a pan on medium.  Add butter and swirl around pan.  Add the sausage.  Meanwhile, slice the greens into thin strips.  Add the greens to the sausage and saute until sausage is cooked through and greens are tender.  If you are adding any extra vegetables (we like mushrooms in ours... but its great without, too... my pictures show it without), add them to the pan while things are cooking. 
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs.  Mix in the fresh herbs.  Then add the greens and sausage mixture.  Pour into a greased 8×8 pan.  If you are using cheese, sprinkle on top of egg mixture.  You don't need cheese.  My pictures show the casserole with cheese, but I don't generally add it anymore. 

Bake 20-25 minutes or until middle of casserole is set.  Let it cool slightly before slicing into squares. 

This post is linked to:
Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist
Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade
Fresh Bites Friday at Read Food Whole Health
Traditional Tuesdays at Delicious Obsessions
Grain Free Tuesday at Hella Delicious

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

Already a new week?  Last week was kind of a blur.  I came down with a bad case of strep throat on Tuesday and was out of commission for quite a few days.  I used to get strep as a child quite often, but I haven't had it since I was 6 years old.  I don't remember it ever being as bad as it was last week.  The pain and discomfort from strep seriously makes labor and delivery of a child seem like nothing.  At first, I thought I had the flu since my throat wasn't too bad and I was suffering mostly from chills, sweats, shaking quite violently, an aching body, and fever.  It was not fun.  I was delirious on Tuesday afternoon.  That was kind of scary.  Then my throat swelled up so much you could see it on the outside of my neck/jaw line.  And talk about painful.  Wow.  I couldn't even swallow my saliva.  And all I could do was sleep.  If I was awake for an hour the first few days, that was really pushing it.  I hope I never get strep again.

I'm still not 100%.  I feel really good, but I'm still very weak and the antibiotics are pretty brutal.  I haven't been on antibiotics since I had my wisdom tooth out a the year before I was pregnant with Carson... and before that I think it had been my third year of college.  So I've been pretty lucky on the antibiotics front these last 10 years, so I guess I can't complain too much.  But the antibiotic I'm on right now is just so harsh.  Pretty much anything I eat exits violently in about a half hour... sorry if that's too much information.  :)  I'm taking some good probiotics to help counteract things, but I only got back on them Friday, so we'll see if they make much difference in the days to come. 

Needless to say, we had quite the set back last week.  I still have a lot of planting to do in the veggie garden.  But that's ok.  If I don't get it all planted till next weekend, it'll be ok.  It's not too late.  My house is a disaster, too.  I have been trying to do a little cleaning here and there, but it hasn't been too productive.  I was able to get a good deal of laundry done, but that really wore me out.  I'm so not used to feeling like this.  I need energy!!!  So hopefully I'm able to get back on track this week.  With the garden and the house and the yard... which looks like a jungle again with all the rain we've had.  :) 

This morning, we're headed to my cousin's church in Creek.  My cousin Brad is preaching.  We're excited to hear him.  Brad's blog is awesome to read, so I can only imagine how great his preaching will be.  Then, I'll be dropping Kevin and Carson off at home for some boys' time while I head to Linden.  I'm helping to throw my BFF, Jaime, a baby shower this afternoon.  I'm so excited!!  Then tonight, we'll hopefully be headed over to our friends' Kori and Ben's house for more hanging out with Jaime, Jeff, and Jack.  I say hopefully because I just don't know how much I'll be able to do today.  Like I said, I'm still pretty weak and get worn out really fast.  So today will be a long day, but I'm going to try to do it all.  Jaime and Jeff are only home for the weekend and we haven't seen them since January, so I really want to make the most of our time with them! 

Tomorrow we'll be heading out to my Aunt Sharon's house for a family party.  And then it's back to work.  We don't really have many plans the rest of the week.  It's my week for milk pickup and I have to pickup our CSA order on Friday.  But I think that's about it.  We'll have lots of time for working outside (if the weather cooperates) and getting the house clean. 

We didn't really utilize any of the meals last week, with me being out of commission... and Kevin thinking he can't cook.  So I'm just mostly recycling the plans from last week, with a few small changes.  And since we'll be eating at the shower, Kori's and Ben's, and then my aunt's today and tomorrow... plus eating leftovers... there aren't really that many meals on the list here.

Fried eggs and sausage
Breakfast cupcakes
Fresh fruit

Lunches and snacks:
Lettuce salads
Raw bell pepper and cucumber slices
Apples with almond butter
Hard boiled eggs
Fruit leather
Crispy nuts

Grilled local/healthy/organic brats; grilled asparagus; peaches
Meatloaf; peas; carrots
Grilled chicken souvlaki; asparagus; side salads
Ham steaks; green beans; cauliflower; applesauce

Monday, May 23, 2011

Organic Orcharding - Spring To-Dos

We inherited an established, overgrown, diseased, buggy home orchard when we bought our house. There were probably about 30-35 different fruit trees on the property - mostly apples and pears, with a couple edible crabapples, a couple peach, and a cherry. We've since removed some of the way overgrown, beyond-saving trees. We had a couple enormous trees that were very sick, with rotted limbs throughout more than a third of the tree. We decided they weren't worth the effort, so we've cut them down. We still have another really large apple tree to cut down... if it ever stops raining this week, we'll take care of it then. Otherwise, it will be taken care of soon. We've also removed some other trees that were too diseased to save or just haven't been fruiting for the last 3 years. We're now down to about 22 fruit trees, I believe.

It has been my goal to revive the orchard using organic and sustainable methods. This is no small task, but I believe it can be done. I learn many new things each year, but I am making good progress. I am hopeful that we'll actually be able to harvest some decent fruit this year... although we'll see what impact the cold, rainy weather has on the trees in the next week or so.  That cold and rain could not have come at a worse time for a home orchard... so we're keeping our fingers crossed that the bees were still able to pollinate and things weren't disrupted too much.

Anyway, I wanted to share my progress and the methods by which I'm achieving success so as to encourage others to either tackle some old, overgrown fruit trees, or maybe to switch over to more sustainable methods of home orcharding.

I wanted to start off with a few things to do in the spring.  I took care of most of these items quite a few weeks ago, but it's still not too late for you to attempt any of these ideas.

Feed the trees. 
Spring is the time you want to encourage strong, rapid growth of your fruit trees.  Early spring is the best time to do this by feeding the trees.  I have chosen to use chicken manure compost, which is higher in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than other manures, therefore you don't need to use as much.  When spreading the manure around the trees, you'll want to focus on the area where the feeder roots (the smaller, fibrous roots that actually absorb the nutrients from the soil) are growing.  This will be dependent upon the size of your tree.  But basically, the larger roots of a tree are towards its center.  The feeder roots extend out from the larger roots, generally to the edge of the canopy.  This is the area you want to focus on when feeding your trees.  

Neem oil.
Neem oil is a great, safe insect-control oil spray.  It makes a great dormant oil spray, too.  I sprayed my trees with neem oil at the half-inch green tip stage, as well as another spray when the buds were just turning pink (before blossoming).  I will also be spraying this week after all petals have fallen.  One more spray about 10 days later will do the trick in deterring scab and rust fungal diseases.   

Trap pests.
Overwintered pests begin to emerge in the early spring.  A very effective and safe way to rid your orchard of (most) pests is to trap them by using sticky traps.  These traps will monitor the presence of different pests - codling moth, sawflies, apple maggot, tarnished plant bugs, etc.  I have been using a combination of white sticky traps and red spheres in our orchard for the past two years with great effectiveness.  Of course, the traps don't catch everything, but they really do make a good dent in the pest population and improve your fruit crop substantially. 

White Sticky Traps
Place white sticky traps at about eye level in your trees to trap lots of European apple sawflies. You may not catch them all, but you'll catch enough to improve your apple crop. You will want to remove the blossoms within about 12 inches of the white sticky trap.

Place white sticky traps at knee level to catch lots of tarnished plant bugs. You will want to hang these at the beginning of silver tip.

Only set out a few cards initially in order to monitor. Set out more when control is required. For a trap-out hang 1 trap per dwarf tree, 2 per semi-dwarf tree and 3 to 4 per standard tree.

Make Your Own White Sticky Traps
Of course, you can purchase white sticky traps, but you'll spend about $3-4 per trap. Or, you can make your own traps for less than 50 cents per trap.

You'll need the following materials:
White posterboard
Quart-size plastic Ziploc freezer bags
Pants hangers (with the clips)

Cut your white posterboard so that it fits inside the Ziploc bag, approximately 6"x8".  Slide the white posterboard into the bag and zip it closed. Coat the plastic bag with a sticky material. Some options are Tanglefoot, Stikem, or even petroleum jelly.

Clip the sticky bags into the clips on the pants hanger.  Hang in the tree.

When your sticky substance becomes covered with bugs, simply slide off the plastic bag and discard it. Put on a new bag and coating, and you're back in business, using the same piece of cardboard.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

What amazing weather we have had these past two days! We have been busting our tails working outside. Yesterday, I got all of the front and side flower beds weeded, as well as one of the back flower beds. I also planted a few new perennials, moved some existing perennials, and planted a good deal of annuals in the front. Our front yard looks so nice this year! Our big landscaping project last year has really paid off and made a huge aesthetic improvement! Now we are trying to get the backyard caught up. We have a long way to go, though. It will be a multi-year project, I think. I'm also making progress on getting the veggie garden planted. I'll be working on that a lot this week (I hope... if the rain holds off or as long as its at least decent in the evenings). I've also been working in the orchard and berry patches. We have a lot of projects. Once the garden is planted, I won't feel so overwhelmed, though.

Today we are headed to church in East Lansing. My friend, Mohammed, is participating in the baptism of a fellow Iraqi and invited us to witness the blessing. So we'll be going to his church. Afterwards we're going to have lunch at Woody's and then will be meeting a guy to sell some rims and tires. Then we may go downtown to check out the East Lansing Art Festival if the weather is nice... although I think I'm more inclined to get home so we can get some more work done outside.  It looks like the weather will be pretty great again today... but every day for the next week is forecast to rain.  So I think we should make the most of our time outside today if we can. 

Monday I might meet up with my friend Robin to walk or bike, but that is weather dependent.  Tuesday evening I am attending a reception at MSU for a work-related function.  Robin and I will try to walk or bike again on Wednesday if the weather cooperates.  Thursday is Kevin's and my anniversary.  We'll celebrate our 5th year of marriage and our 13th year together.  Well, I'm not sure when or what we'll do to celebrate, but hopefully we can do something soon.  I will also be dropping our milk jars off at Dianne's. And Kevin might go biking if the weather is decent. Although it might be a little muddy for his mountain biking if we do get all the rain forecast this week.  I'm so over this rain.  I thought May was supposed to be nice and sunny and beautiful... like yesterday.  What's up with all this rain!?  :o)

Friday is my flex day. Carson and I will be meeting up with our friends Kati and Anthony in the late morning. Again, hopefully the weather is nice. We're thinking about going hiking at Stony Creek Metropark and/or walking through Kati's huge neighborhood, stopping at all of the playgrounds. If the weather isn't nice, we'll meet at a mall and do some walking and shopping there. We may have dinner with them, too. We'll just see how the day goes. We don't have any plans on Saturday. We're hoping to get a lot of yard work done again... if the weather is nice. We're hoping to cut down a few more big trees in the back and maybe get our bridge across the creek finally. We really need to cut down a few more trees, though. Then we can schedule the stump guy to come out and grind out the stumps and have some dirt delivered so we can really get going on the backyard landscaping project.  Let's cross our fingers the weather people are wrong about all the rain this week! 

Here are my thoughts on meals this week:

Fried eggs and bacon
Breakfast cupcakes
Yogurt with fruit

Lunches and snacks:
Tuna salad with avocado
Lettuce salads
Deviled eggs
Sliced cheese
Raw bell pepper and cucumber slices
Apples with almond butter
Hard boiled eggs
Fruit leather
Crispy nuts

Grilled steaks; sweet potato fries; green beans; applesauce
Primal pizzas; asparagus; peaches
Meatloaf; peas; carrots
Chicken souvlaki; asparagus; side salads
Ham steaks; green beans; cauliflower; applesauce
Crustless quiche with ham, broccoli and swiss

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

This is a semi-busy week. Today we have church and then we're headed to the farmers' market!! I am so excited the local farmers' markets are back in business! Then later this afternoon, we're going to pick up a pool that my mom's friend is giving us. I will be in the U.P. for work on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Hopefully I'm home by dinner time on Wednesday, if we're lucky. Friday is my milk and CSA pickup day after work.

We're not sure what we're going to do this weekend yet. We had been planning on going camping at Sleepy Hollow as a test run with Jet, but we'll see how the week goes and what the weather forecast looks like later in the week (they don't look too promising right now). We'd also like to go to the East Lansing Art Festival, but we'll just have to see how the weekend turns out.... we should be able to go regardless if we go camping or not, though. It will actually be easier to go if we go camping, but again this is all weather-dependent.

The biggest wild card is that we may be joining the local water ski club - Kevin as a skier or maybe a driver and possibly me as a driver, costumes, or dock person. If Carson takes an interest and starts skiing, he'd be part of the pre-shows. We need to make our decisions pretty soon.... the first water practice was yesterday morning, so we're already behind if we do join. So we'll see. Obviously, if one of us decides to join, this changes many of our plans this summer. Our vacations would then be camping at the out-of-state water ski tournaments.

Anyway, here is the plan...

  • Breakfast cupcakes
  • Fried eggs
  • Yogurt with grain-free granola
  • Kefir smoothies
Lunches and snacks:
  • Leftovers
  • Salad with bacon, hard boiled egg, tomato, olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh cracked pepper
  • Egg salad wrapped in lettuce
  • Raw veggies and avocado dip
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Apples with almond butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Crispy pecans
  • Almond-crusted chicken; roasted asparagus; side salads; applesauce
  • Pork chops with cherries in the crockpot; roasted cauliflower, carrots, and brussels sprouts
  • Sirloin dijon; steamed broccoli and cauliflower; peaches
  • Italian meatballs in the crockpot; side salads; roasted asparagus
  • Grilled burgers wrapped in lettuce; sweet potato fries; raw veggies
  • Leftovers

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Individual Primal Pizzas

I came up with this idea while I was at the grocery store a few weeks back. Pizza has always been somewhat of a staple in our house... both homemade and buying it from our awesome local pizzeria, Rocky's. Now that we're eating mostly primal, pizza doesn't really fit into our health goals. So, I had to figure out a way to try to satisfy those pizza cravings we all have. I've seen some homemade primal pizza dough recipes online that use coconut or almond flours - and I hope to try them someday - but that's not what I wanted a few weeks back. So I decided to pick up some large portobella mushrooms and use those as my base. I had some cooked ground beef in the freezer that I pulled out and then just used a random assortment of veggies from our refrigerator. I layered everything up with some homemade tomato sauce and some shredded cheese and voila! Individual primal pizzas. These were a total hit! Carson scarfed his down and wanted more. Kevin ate a few and said he thought they were great. I loved them. These were super easy to make, too... and will definitely be a regular thing on our menus from now on!

Individual Primal Pizzas

large portobella mushroom caps
veggies of your choice
cooked ground beef
tomato sauce, preferably homemade
shredded cheese
olive oil

Place your mushroom caps and whatever raw veggies you are using on a baking sheet. I ended up using some orange and green bell peppers, broccoli, carrot shreds, and spinach leaves. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast at 375 for about 8 minutes.

Pile up your veggies on the portobella mushroom caps. Next top with some cooked ground beef. Then some tomato sauce. Finally, sprinkle on some shredded cheese.

Place back in the oven at 375 and bake until cheese is melted.


This post is linked to:
Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS
Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade
Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Meal plans and the week ahead

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms!!! I hope you all have a great day today! I hope we will be so fortunate to see both our moms today. I think we're heading to my MIL's church this morning. Hopefully, anyway. Both the boys in this house aren't crazy about the idea of going to church today. So we'll see. After church, we'll see if my in-laws want to go to lunch. Then we'll head out to Fenton for a family party with my mom's family. The weather is beautiful again today, so we're all looking forward to spending time outside. Maybe we'll get to go on the first boat ride of the season. :)

As for the rest of the week, we have a somewhat busy week. Tomorrow my SIL goes in bright and early for a c-section delivery of their second child. We're very excited to hear the news and meet the baby later this week! Tuesday is my WAPF meeting and loan signing. We decided to re-finance one of our cars for a lower interest rate. So we'll have to go sign the paperwork to finalize it. Kevin might be leaving for Tennessee on Wednesday, but he's not sure yet. Not sure when he'll be back. Friday is my flex day. I'll be going to get my milk since I won't be home when Dianne would normally drop it off. So I'll take care of that in the morning. Then we'll be headed to Grand Rapids in the late afternoon. We'll be meeting the newest addition to the family and going to an open house for one of Kevin's cousins. We have no plans on Saturday, so we're looking forward to a day of yard work!

I'm changing up the meal plans again, to allow more flexibility. Just a listing of meals that I can select from during the week.

Breakfast options:
Fried eggs with bacon
yogurt and fruit
kefir smoothies
grain free blueberry coconut muffins from freezer

Lunch and Snack options:
egg salad with avocado
hard boiled eggs
apples with almond butter
deviled eggs

Dinner options:
leftover burgers, deviled eggs, and fruit from Saturday
salads with chopped leftover burger, bacon, avocado, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper and homemade ranch
pork souvlaki, roasted veggies, fruit
crustless quiche with bacon, spinach, peppers, broccoli
grilled marinated chicken breasts, grilled veggies, applesauce

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Paleo Salisbury Steak

I made this recipe from Everyday Paleo a couple of weeks ago.  It is a new favorite of ours and will be appearing in our meal plans regularly.  I only used one pound of meat for us and I prepped the patties and chopped all the veggies the night before so all I had to do once we got home from work was cook everything.  It was done within a half hour.  Perfect!  And it was so delicious!  I love that it has healing broth and healthy coconut milk included, as well. 

I've left the recipe as written below, for 2 pounds of meat.  But like I said, I only made a half recipe and used 1 pound of meat for our family of 3.  I made 5 patties with my one pound and we still had 2 patties leftover for lunches. 

Paleo Salisbury Steak

2 pounds of ground beef
1 cup spinach, finely diced
1 egg
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon ground marjoram
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grass fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil

4 tablespoons butter
1 red onion thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced
2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup coconut milk
Black pepper to taste

In a large mixing bowl place all the ingredients for the steaks and using your hands mix well.  In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium high heat. While the butter is melting, form the hamburger mixture into thin oval patties (makes 7-8). Place the patties into the hot melted butter, make sure it sizzles, you want the pan to be nice and hot! Cook for 2 minutes on each side, the meat should be nice and browned on both sides. You’ll have to cook these in batches so add more butter or coconut oil if necessary. Once all the steaks are done, place in the oven to keep warm and now it’s time for the gravy!

In the same pan that you just cooked your steaks in, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the onions, bell pepper, and mushrooms in the butter until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Add the beef broth and deglaze the pan (scrap all the bits off the bottom of the pan that might still be there from cooking the steaks). Bring to a boil and add the coconut milk and pepper. Mix well, bring back to a boil. At this point you’ll want to turn the heat down until the gravy is just simmering. Now you’ll want to reduce down the gravy by stirring frequently for about 10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.

Serve the steaks with the gravy ladled over the top and garnished with diced flat leaf Italian Parsley.

Meal plans and the week ahead

We sure did get a lot of rain last week. Thankfully our basement stayed completely dry!! This was the first time it has stayed dry when we've had so much rain since we moved into our home. So this was a huge milestone for us! All our hard work re-doing the front yard and gardens to adjust the grade last year has paid off. Woohoo!! Now let's just hope this new trend continues.

Even with all the rain last week, just about every afternoon (except one) was quite sunny and nice. It is so much nicer when the sun comes out later in the day after rains.... it makes the gloomy mornings bearable. We went on walks and bike rides almost every day last week. Friday and Saturday were sunny all day, so we spent most of our time outdoors both days. Spring in Michigan is so beautiful! Hopefully the sun sticks around this week, too.  We got a lot of work done outside these last two days... hopefully we're able to continue the progress... if our bodies can keep up.  We are very sore this morning! 

Today we are headed to church. We don't have a lot going on during the work-week this week. Wednesday is our annual plant exchange at lunch time at work. I was an organizer this year, so hope it goes off without a hitch. Friday is my day to pick up the milk and also pick up our CSA order. Saturday we are having some of my dad's family (grandma, my parents, some cousins) over to celebrate my Grandma's birthday, which is on Wednesday. And that's it. Hopefully we have some nice weather so we can be outside after work everyday.

Here's the plan...

Breakfast options:
fried eggs; sausage; yogurt; fruit; gf granola; hard-boiled eggs; gf muffins

Lunch and snack options:
leftovers; big ol' salads; egg salad with avocado; raw carrots and peppers; apple slices with almond butter; sliced cheese; cheese crisps

Sunday - church
(make kefir; make cheese crisps; chop veggies for week)
bacon wrapped chicken breasts stuffed with soft cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and spinach; green beans; peaches

Monday -
ham steaks; asparagus; cauliflower; peaches

Tuesday -
(dig plants for exchange)
creamed spinach croques monsieurs (with no bread); sweet potato fries; applesauce

Wednesday - MDOT plant exchange at lunch
(boil eggs; make egg salad)
local/healthy/organic pork brats; salads; roasted cauliflower

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - milk and CSA p/u
chuck roast in the crockpot with cauliflower and carrots

Saturday - Grandma's birthday party
grilled burgers; grilled veggies; fresh fruit; potato salad; pasta salad; raw veggies & dip; birthday cake; ice cream