Thursday, July 9, 2015

Spicy Shrimp Salad

I recently started a 21-Day Fix Challenge Group.  Let me tell you... it has been amazing!!!  I have been working out for 30 minutes a day, doing the DVD workouts that come with the 21-Day Fix Program.  I love them because they are done in 1-minute intervals, there are modifications for all different fitness levels, and EVERYONE who sticks with it WILL see results.  No matter if you have 100+ pounds to lose, or don't want to lose any weight, but just want to tone up your body. 

There is an eating plan with the 21-Day Fix Program, as well.  It comes with these color-coded containers, with each color being associated with a different food group (green = veggies, purple = fruit, etc.).  Depending on your weight, you get a certain number of each container per day.  Follow it, and you'll see results!  I am on Day 18 now, of my 21 days, so I'll post after my first round is over with my results!  

Anyway, so I've been trying new, healthy recipes since being on the 21-Day Fix.  This is one of them.  Spicy shrimp salad.  This was my lunch one day.  It was so delicious!!  I made a big batch of shrimp to use for shrimp tacos the following day, and got another salad out of it, as well.  I didn't measure anything, just did everything to taste when I baked the shrimp.  

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Raw shrimp
Chili powder
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Vegetable salad toppings (onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.)
Salad dressing of choice (vinegar & 1 tsp oil is delicious)

In a bowl, toss the shrimp with as much chili powder, black pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper as you would like.  I probably used about a Tablespoon each of chili powder, black pepper and cumin, and then just a pinch of cayenne.  I also used a full bag of thawed raw shrimp with the tails removed.  Arrange the seasoned shrimp on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, flipping at the 10-minute mark.  

Meanwhile, make your salad.  I was only making one individual salad, so I used 1 cup of lettuce (1 Green container) and 1/2 cup of assorted vegetables (1/2 Green container)... I just used what I had on hand at the time (onions, cucumbers, celery).  I then added 1/2 cup corn (1 Yellow container).  

Once the shrimp was done, I filled a Red container (3/4 cup) with shrimp... it ended up being 6 shrimp for me.  I tossed that on top of the salad.  It is so flavorful, it honestly doesn't even need dressing.  You can use a dressing of choice, or just a teaspoon of olive oil with vinegar to taste.  

Its a super simple, delicious and healthy lunch!  I also had a cup of fruit on the side and a big glass of water with mine.  

Fix:  1 1/2 Green, 1 Red, 1 Yellow, 1 Spoon

If you're interested in hearing more about the 21 Day Fix, leave me a comment below!  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dairy Free Breakfast Cookies

Today, I finally tried the soaked version of a recipe I've made quite a few times... Just never the soaked version.  Breakfast Cookies!  I found the recipe many years ago on Heavenly Homemakers, and I've adapted the recipe slightly (since I don't bake with dairy to allow my daughter to enjoy everything) based off my sister-in-law's version at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie.  And yes, you read that right... A cookie for breakfast.  Who's kid wouldn't love that?!  :) 

These cookies are cakey and filling.  You can load them up with all sorts of add-ins, dried fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips, etc.  We don't eat nuts at our house (my daughter is allergic), so we skip the nuts, but they'd be a delicious and nutritious addition.  

I think we all agreed that we prefer the soaked version, as it lends a softer, moister cookie.  Not to mention, soaking the grains allows your body to digest them much more easily.  

I love that this recipe makes quite a few breakfast cookies, so I can make a batch and freeze lots for future breakfasts.  Considering we've been really slacking on nutritious breakfasts lately, I can't even tell you how excited I am to have a stash of these in the freezer now! 

Dairy Free Giant Breakfast Cookies

1 cup coconut oil, melted
¾ cup honey (can sub some for maple syrup)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup water + 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups whole rolled oats
1 1/2 cups dried fruit, mini chocolate chips (the Enjoy Life brand is free of allergens), nuts, shredded coconut, etc.

Melt coconut oil on the stovetop. In a glass bowl, stir together flour, oats, coconut oil and water/lemon juice.  Be sure all of the grains are moistened.  If not, add another tablespoon of water at a time until everything is moistened.  
Cover and let the grains soak overnight, or at least for 8 hours. 

In the morning, stir in the remaining ingredients.  Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Allow cookies to cool 3-4 minutes on cookie sheet before removing cookies to cool on a wire rack.  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hello out there!!

Wow!  It sure has been a long time since I've blogged anything here.  I'm curious, do any of my old followers still have my blog on their feeds??  Please leave me a comment if you see this post!  

A lot has happened since I last blogged.  My kids are now 7 and almost 3!  I am still working my day job, but have been experiencing some huge successes with my photography business!!  Last year was an amazing year and I'm anxious to see where this year leads with that. I've also really gotten into Young Living essential oils this past year+.  I'll share more on this soon, hopefully!  But in the meantime, I think I may like to get back to blogging occasionally!!  Please leave me a comment if you see this post!  :) 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Blueberry-Banana Baked Oatmeal (dairy/nut/soy/egg/wheat-free)

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted.  Do any of my old followers still even read my blog?  I've just been so busy with keeping up with my family, my day-job, and my photography business that I just do not have time to blog about recipes I try anymore.  I'm making a quick exception today because I don't want to lose this recipe.  :)

I've made many different baked oatmeals in the past, but this one is probably our favorite.  And it something we all can eat safely.  For those that don't know, my daughter was diagnosed with several food allergies a couple of months ago - peanuts, dairy, soy, eggs, and wheat.  Breakfasts have been our biggest challenge for her.  She used to love having eggs for breakfast, but that's not an option anymore, unfortunately.  We usually all eat different things for breakfast, so its a treat (for me) to just make one thing that we all eat (and like).  Everyone loved this baked oatmeal.  Even my husband, who generally refuses to even try any type of oatmeal.

I had pinned a recipe from So How's It Taste awhile back, which served as the base recipe for my version.  Being that her recipe contains walnuts, eggs, milk and butter, you wouldn't think we could even think about eating it.  But I made some substitutions to make it safe for all of us.  I've not tried the original version, but I do not think taste suffered at all with my substitutions.  I think it may have made it even better, to be honest.  ;)

Blueberry-Banana Baked Oatmeal 

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup coconut milk
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe bananas, peeled & sliced
1 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease a glass 2-quart baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients (oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt).  Stir to combine.

In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, coconut milk, and vanilla.  Heat the coconut oil to melt it.  Set aside (if you add it to the cold ingredients now, it will solidify again).

Spread the sliced bananas over the bottom of the baking dish in a single layer.  Sprinkle half of the blueberries over the bananas.

Next, pour the dry oat mixture over the bananas and blueberries.

Now, add the coconut oil to the liquid ingredients and immediately pour over the oats.  The coconut oil will start to solidify with the cold ingredients, but its ok, it will melt again as you bake it.

Sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top.

Bake for 35 minutes, until slightly browned and the oats have set.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dairy-Free Chocolate Chunk Vanilla Muffins with Cinnamon Crumb Topping

Awhile back, I marked a recipe for vanilla muffins with cinnamon crumb topping to try from the Heavenly Homemakers site, but I hadn't made them yet.  Yesterday, my son had a snow day from school, so I stayed home from work with the kids.  Carson wanted to make some muffins, so I went looking through some recipes I had marked to try and came across this one.  I made some changes to make it dairy free and we mixed up a double batch of batter (so we'd have plenty to eat some now and freeze lots for later).  I made one pan (12 muffins) with just the plain vanilla muffin and cinnamon crumb topping.  For the other half of the batter (12 muffins), I mixed in some cinnamon and dairy-free/soy-free/nut-free chocolate chunks.  Both versions turned out delicious!!  Carson likes the ones with chocolate chunks in them best.  I think they are both equally good.  They had a perfect consistency - airy and soft, yet super moist.  The vanilla muffins are a great base recipe and we've already been brainstorming different varieties of muffins we could make, so I expect we'll be trying some out in the near future.  :) 

Dairy-Free Vanilla Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sucanat/organic cane sugar/organic brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 cup dairy-free/soy-free/nut-free chocolate chunks (optional)

Cinnamon Crumb Topping

6 Tablespoons organic cane sugar or brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, softened

Mix the flour, sucanat/sugar, baking powder and sea salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add egg, vanilla, coconut oil and almond milk.  Mix until ingredients are well combined.  Stir in cinnamon and/or chocolate chunks, if you are using them.  Scoop into paper lined muffin tins. 

Meanwhile, mix together Cinnamon Crumb Topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of each muffin. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove and let cool. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!  2013... Wow! I remember (back in 2000) thinking the twenty-teen years seemed a lifetime away. And in a way, they have been. A lot has changed in my life since then. Heck, a lot has changed in my life in 2012 alone! The birth of our second child - a daughter, my son's second year of preschool and his awesomeness at being a fantastic big brother, my husband's new job, I started up a photography business... And those are just the biggest accomplishments. We had tons of others, as well. 2012 was a fabulous year for us. I pray that 2013 will be the same!

I haven't really done an annual goals post in a couple of years or so, but I felt like doing one this year. These are not resolutions, but rather my goals and dreams for the year.


  • Support and encourage the growth of my children. 
    • Carson will be turning 5 and will be starting Kindergarten this year (yikes!!). We will be selecting a school for him to attend within the coming months. This will be a big change for all of us and I pray it goes well. We are starting to plan his 5th birthday party and look forward to doing as many fun things as possible on his non-preschool days... We want to make the most of our time together before he is in school all day, 5 days a week. 
    • Bristol will be turning 1 this summer. We'll have a big birthday party for her and look forward to helping her learn to crawl, walk, talk, etc. She has recently started solid foods and we look forward to introducing more foods over the next few months. We are avoiding all grains until her first birthday. This means no baby cereal. We started with sweet potatoes - and not puréed ones from a jar (though we will do some of those at times, too.)... Rather I just mashed up some sweet potatoes from our pot roast one night and started with those. No gagging, no choking, she did great with them! She has also had peas and carrots mixed with some homemade chicken broth. This is a totally different approach than I took with Carson, but so far it is working very well. 
  • Make an effort to do regular date nights with my husband. 
    • We are really bad at taking time for ourselves. Or rather I am really bad with it. Since I work so much, I feel guilty taking time away from my kids when I could be spending it with them. But Kevin and I both want (and need) some one-on-one time. So we are going to make more of an effort to do so. 
  • Plan some vacations and do lots of outings. 
    • We love new adventures and vacations and outings. So we do these things regularly. We've actually started doing some tentative planning already for our vacations this year. 
    • We'll be going to Wisconsin for an Elsesser family reunion. 
    • We'll be spending a long weekend up near the Platte River/Sleeping Bear Dunes in August for an Odykirk family reunion. 
    • We will be taking a big trip, too... Either to Arizona or Colorado. I am kind of thinking Arizona's timing isn't going to work out very well with a big project launch of Kevin's (at work), as well as some things that our friends have going on, but we'll see how things play out during these next few weeks. If it doesn't pan out, we will be going to Colorado after Kevin's big project has wrapped up in July. 
    • We would like to go camping one weekend per month this summer, as well. We can already make our June reservations (and very soon July), so we are working on that, too. I think we'll be going to Rifle River in June. We're also hoping to go camping with Kevin's sister's family now that they are into camping, too. 
    • In addition to the vacations and trips, we want to do lots of outings... Calvin basketball game(s), children's museums and science centers, zoos, festivals, hiking, sledding, boating, etc. 
    • We also look forward to biking again this summer. We hope to do some day trips to go biking and explore new areas.

  • Form a small group. 
    • We officially joined a church in 2012. I want to get a little more involved, form some good friendships, and grow in our faith. One step will be forming a small group, which I have been working with our adult discipleship leaders and some friends on. I think we may have a group. So I will be getting the details finalized in January. We'll meet once a month to start (3rd Tuesday of each month) and go from there. 
  • Get involved in other church activities. 
    • I'd like for us to get involved in other church activities, as well. There are basketball leagues that Kevin might enjoy, Sunday school for all of us, and a soccer team that would be fun for me (and maybe Kevin), too.  
    • I'd like to attend some of the young adult/young family events. Things like game nights, dinners, Bible studies, etc. 
    • We'll work into some of this stuff gradually. Kevin has already expressed some concerns (over time commitments) about the small group. So he will definitely take some easing into all of this. But hopefully throughout the year, we'll get more involved. 

  • Continue a healthy lifestyle and lose more weight. 
    • I lost over 40 pounds in 2012. But I still have a long way to go. I'm not really focusing on the number on the scale, but I do know I want to lose at least another 40 pounds. Even at that point, I won't be within the doctor recommended healthy weight range, but we'll see how I feel physically at that point and go from there. 
    • That being said, I am not dieting or following a strict exercise program or anything. I'm just doing as much as I can, eating real foods, and trying to live as naturally as possible. We tend to just like eating a mostly paleo diet, so that will make up the majority of my meals, but I've never been hard core/strict about it and don't intend to start. 
    • I would like to give CrossFit a try at some point, but we'll see when it works out. I'm not following a strict exercise schedule, but I do try to be as active as possible, try to walk at least one mile daily (on work days), and try to get a workout in 2-3 nights a week at home. I'd like to be doing a workout 4-5 nights, but I will do my best. 

  • Do some major spring cleaning. 
    • We have way too much stuff. I want to get rid of a lot of it - the stuff we never use - and organize the stuff we do use. I'm having a thirty-one party in a few weeks and hope to get some home organization stuff to help out with this effort - cute bins, under bed storage, etc.  
    • I've already got a small start on this during the last couple of days. I've been working on cleaning out the kids' rooms. Bristol's is done and Carson's will be done today. Next I want to tackle our master bedroom, which is just a dumping ground of stuff. I also want to get the Christmas decorations and tree down today. And we will be going through some toys to get rid of, as well. 

  • Grow my photography business. 
    • Like I mentioned above, I started up a photography business in 2012. For only working a couple of months out of the year, I think I did pretty well. Especially considering I had a newborn and am working my day job. I want to grow my business in 2013. Not a lot, since I want it to remain part-time, but I would like to grow it some. I have been working on a business plan and some marketing ideas. We'll see where they take me. 
    • I will be doing a new website for my business soon and will hopefully get my branding established within a couple of months, too. 

So that is my list... at least my list of my biggest goals for the year.  Are you setting goals for the new year?  I'd love to hear them if you are!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Chicken Pasta Salad

I had to come up with something to take to a church potluck a few weeks ago.  I wanted to take something that I could eat, so that means it had to be dairy-free and could not contain beans or gassy veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.).  I also wanted it to be a somewhat complete meal if I needed it to be.  This was the first potluck at church that we have participated in, so I also wasn't sure if I would be able to keep anything warm (in a crockpot) while we were at church.  I debated and debated over what to bring and ended up deciding that a pasta salad would probably be my best choice... even though I can't even tell you the last time I ate any pasta.  :) 

So I went looking on the internet and decided to use a recipe on AllRecipes for inspiration.  I eliminated the cheese, increased the amounts of vegetables, sauted the mushrooms, used chicken that I shredded myself instead of canned, and used homemade mayo.  I did use store-bought italian dressing because I had some in the refrigerator, but it did not contain HFCS, at least.  This was really good!  I'll definitely make it again when I need a pasta salad.  I have posted it below as I made it.

Chicken Pasta Salad

1 pound rotini/corkscrew pasta
8-oz package mushrooms, chopped
1 can pitted black olives, chopped
3-5 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing, preferably homemade
3/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade
1 1/2 cup shredded chicken
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta to al dente in heavily salted water.  Pour into a large bowl. 

Saute the mushrooms in coconut oil until softened.  Add to pasta, along with black olives, celery, corn, peas, bell pepper, and chicken.   

In a separate bowl, whisk the Italian salad dressing and mayo together.  Pour over pasta salad and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Kettle Corn

Last week, I randomly DVRed a couple Rachael Ray shows and had the chance to watch them briefly (meaning, I fast-forwarded through most of the show..).  On one of the shows, she was featuring some ideas for homemade Christmas gifts.  I decided to try out her recipe for kettle corn to go along with an ornament I had ordered for our neighbors.  I don't normally like kettle corn, but I really liked this version a lot!  It's super easy and fast to make, too.  I did modify it a bit for our standards - I will post it as I made it.  And really, I didn't measure anything... just tasted as I seasoned.  But I'll post RR's quantities below, because they are probably pretty similar to what I used.  I'm planning to try out another of the popcorn recipes from the show sometime this week. 

Kettle Corn

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Place the oil in a large stainless steel pot over medium heat.  Once oil is melted, add popcorn kernels.  Cover with lid.  Once the corn begins to pop, give the pot a shake here and there - no need to shake constantly.  When the popping slows, remove the pot from the heat.  Remove lid and quickly sprinkle with salt, cinnamon, and sugar.  Place lid back on pot and holding the lid on tight, turn the pot upside down and all around, tossing to coat all of the popcorn.  Pour into a serving bowl and enjoy! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dairy-Free Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

I've been wanting to make some dairy-free sugar cookies all month and finally had the chance to make some with my son yesterday.  He loves to cook with me, especially when we get to bake or make some of his favorite things.  I found a recipe online awhile back - but I don't know where I found it... I only saved the text.  It was for soft sugar cookies, which are my favorite kind of sugar cookies.  I'm not really a fan of crispy sugar cookies.  So I used that recipe as a base and subbed out ingredients a bit to bring them up to our standards.  These aren't super soft, but they're still really good.  You'd never guess they were whole wheat or dairy-free.  They have a crisp crust and a soft interior.  I want to try them again with some whole wheat pastry flour to see if that lends a softer cookie, but I didn't have any on hand yesterday.  We had planned to roll the dough and do Christmas cut-outs, but my infant daugther wasn't allowing for that yesterday morning.  :)  So we just used a cookie scoop and then flattened them a little with a glass.  They still taste just as good as they would as cut-outs... and they're way less work!  :)

Dairy-Free Sugar Cookies

1 cup palm shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat palm shortening, sugar, almond milk, eggs, and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add baking soda and salt.  Slowly beat flour mixture in to make a smooth dough.

Now you may either use a cookie scoop like we did, and flatten slightly with a flat-bottomed glass.  Or roll dough out 1/4-inch thick on a floured work surface and cut into shapes.  Arrange cookies on baking sheets.  Bake in the preheated oven until cookies are firm, about 8-10 minutes.  Let cool.  Frost and decorate once fully cooled.


Beat palm shortening, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and almond milk in a bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frosting is spreadable and slightly fluffy.  Frost cooled cookies.  Add sprinkles or colored sugars if desired. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Paleo Pancake and Sausage Muffins

Pancake and sausage muffins - sounds strange, don't they?  According to my husband, they remind him of a sausage McGriddle from McDonalds.  I've never had one, so I couldn't tell you if they do, or not.  But I can tell you that they're really good.  And really easy and simple.  My sister-in-law posted a non-paleo version on her blog, Homemade Dutch Apple Pie, a while back.  I wanted to make them paleo, though.  So I figured I'd use our favorite paleo pancake recipe from Urban Poser (with a few tweaks) and give them a shot.  They turned out great!  I'll definitely be making these again soon.  These were very nice to have the leftovers on hand for quick breakfasts on work mornings. 

Paleo Pancake and Sausage Muffins

1 pound bulk sausage
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs from pastured chickens
4-5 Tablespoons almond milk or coconut milk (they're great both ways!)
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook sausage in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet until cooked through.  Remove from heat and let cool for a bit.

Meanwhile, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, eggs, almond or coconut milk, honey, maple syrup, and vanilla in a large bowl. 

Once the sausage has cooled some, mix into the pancake mixture. 

Divide mixture evenly between 12 muffin cups.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and cooked through. 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin pie and was kind of bummed out that I wouldn't get to have any this year since I cannot eat dairy right now.  But then I decided I would experiment and see if I could make a pumpkin pie dairy-free.  Guess what?  It worked!  And I like this version even better than the "normal" version.  I think I'll be making my pumpkin pies this way from now on. 

I got the crust recipe from, but came up with the pie recipe on my own.  This was seriously so easy to make.  The pie crust was a cinch - the food processor does all the work.  Using a food processor is seriously the only way to make pie crust, in my opinion.  I've done it the old fashioned way before, but not for many, many years.  Using the food processor takes about a minute or two, tops.  So easy.  I love this crust recipe, too.  I have  a friend that loves to eat just plain pie crust.  She used to ask her mother-in-law to make a pie crust and just bake it plain for her.  I never understood that until I made this crust.  I baked the extra dough I cut off the edges of the pie - some I sprinkled a little sugar on the top, some I didn't.  I actually like the crust without the sugar best.  So good. 

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

Crust (makes one 8 or 9-inch crust, double this recipe if you need a top and bottom crust):

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup lard
2-3 Tablespoons water

Place all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until dough forms.  Remove from food processor and place on a Silpat.  Roll out with a rolling pin to desired size to fit your pie pan.  Try not to use much extra flour while you are rolling it out, as this will make the crust tough.  Place crust into pie pan. 


2 eggs
1/2 cup sucanat or brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or you could use 1 1/2 t. cinnamon + 1/4 t. nutmeg + 1/4 t. cloves)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can of pumpkin puree (or puree your own fresh pumpkin, about 2 cups)
1 cup almond milk

Whip eggs until they are frothy.  Beat in the sucanat, spices, and salt.  Next add the pumpkin and almond milk.  Mix until smooth.  Pour into prepared pie crust. 

Bake at 450 for 10 minutes.  Then reduce the heat to 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until set.  The pie will seem a little jiggly, but as long as a knife comes out clean when testing the middle of the pie, the pie is done.  It will set up as the pie cools. 

This post is shared at:
Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager
Simply Indulgent Tuesday @ SS&GF

Monday, November 19, 2012

Paleo Turkey Nuggets

We had our Thanksgiving a little early.  We hosted some of my paternal extended family on Saturday for a mostly dairy-free Thanksgiving dinner (everything I made was dairy-free... the mashed potatoes and rolls that others brought were the only things with dairy in them).  I roasted two turkey breasts, made some homemade sausage stuffing (I subbed out the normal butter for lard), roasted vegetables (carrots, beets, butternut squash, and green beans), and made a cherry pie and a pumpkin pie.  Everything was so delicious!  And no one could even tell that dairy was missing from most of the meal, until I pointed it out.  :)

With two turkey breasts and four people that did not end up coming at the last minute, we had a lot of leftover turkey.  So to change up the leftovers a bit, I made turkey nuggets for dinner last night.  I made them the same way I make chicken nuggets (or chicken tenders, as Kevin insists they are called).  I used almond flour to keep them paleo, but any flour would work.  Just substitute whole wheat, coconut, rice, or even all-purpose flour in the recipe below.  These were so yummy!  And a nice change from regular ol' leftover turkey.  So keep these in mind for your Thanksgiving leftovers later this week.

Paleo Turkey Nuggets

leftover turkey
1 egg
1-cup almond flour
seasonings - onion powder, sea salt, pepper, to taste
lard or coconut oil, for frying

Heat lard or coconut oil in a stainless steel saute pan over medium-high heat.  Chop your leftover turkey up into nugget sized pieces.  Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk until frothy.  Mix seasonings into flour in a shallow bowl.

Once oil is hot, drop turkey pieces into egg.  Then dip into the flour mixture and place gently into the lard or oil.  Fry until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes, and flip over until golden brown.  Remove turkey nuggets from oil and place on a plate covered with a paper towel.  Enjoy!

This post is linked to:
Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist
Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday @ SS&GF

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

We love brussels sprouts.  And we are really missing them this season.  I'm afraid to try them because of how badly one piece of cabbage (when I made cabbage rolls a couple of months ago) upset Bristol.  So we haven't had them since I was pregnant.  This picture was taken during that time.  My favorite way to have brussels sprouts is just to roast them with olive oil, salt and pepper.  But this is Kevin's favorite way so far.  And it comes close to roasting them for me.  :)

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

brussels sprouts
2-3 slices of bacon, chopped
coconut oil, lard, or butter

Melt some coconut oil, lard, or butter in a cast iron or stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat.  Chop the ends off your brussels sprouts and slice in half.  Add to the skillet.  Let cook until they are just starting to soften.  Add your chopped bacon to the pan.  Continue to cook until they reach your desired doneness.

** This is also delicious if you cook a pound of bacon in the skillet first, remove the bacon, then add the brussels and cook.

This post is linked to:
Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist
Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday @ SS&GF

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fried Egg Topped Salad

For those that don't know, I've been dairy-free for 4 months now... since I've had my daughter.  I am breastfeeding her and she does not tolerate dairy well at all.  It's pretty much pure torture for her.  So I've had to make a lot of adjustments to my diet to suit her needs.

My favorite salad dressing is homemade ranch, but of course this has dairy in it.  I was making homemade honey mustard dressing there for awhile and would also use vinegar and oil (which has kind of become my new favorite, actually) quite often, but they both get old after awhile.  Especially with as many salads as I consumed (and still am consuming) this year with our delicious salad greens from our CSA. 

So I started using fried eggs on my salads.  I just cook the egg whites and keep the yolk runny.  The yolk then becomes my salad dressing.  This picture was taken one of the first couple times I made them like this and only has one egg on it.  I actually usually use one whole egg plus another yolk now.  It makes such a delicious salad dressing and it is SUPER nutritious!  Give it a try the next time you make a salad. 

This post is linked to:
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS
Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager
Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist

Monday, October 22, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

While I was so sick last year when I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband was doing the grocery shopping.  He pretty much did most of the grocery shopping for the majority of my pregnancy.  And he didn't always stick to the lists I would give him.  A certain popular brand of chocolate syrup became a staple in our refrigerator and on my husband's shopping list.  Kevin has always loved chocolate syrup and he introduced our son to it last year... and got him on a kick where he'd only drink chocolate milk.  I didn't have the energy to fight them on it and figured it could be worse... at least he was putting the chocolate syrup into raw cow's milk.  ;-P 

Once I started feeling a little better and started cooking again, one of the first things I did was to look up a recipe for homemade chocolate syrup.  Ok, so I know this is totally not paleo, nor is it nourishing... but it is a pretty yummy treat that is better for you to make yourself than to buy at the store.  The store-bought versions are laden with high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors.  This homemade version is made from ingredients most people always have on hand.  And guess what?  It tastes exactly the same as the store-bought kind... only I feel way better using this for an ice cream topping or to make chocolate milk.  I wish I could remember where I found this recipe.  I tried another recipe first and wasn't too crazy about it, then tried this one and it has stuck.  I have finally transitioned both my husband and son out of the "need" to only drink chocolate milk.  So this isn't a staple in our refrigerator anymore, but I do still make it for treats here and there.  It is very easy and quick to make and will last in your refrigerator for quite awhile. 

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1 1/2 cups sucanat (or cane sugar)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder (I tend to do 1/2 cup cocoa powder and 1/4 cup carob powder)
1 cup water
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla, preferably homemade

In a small saucepan, add sucanat, cocoa/carob, and salt.  Whisk together gently.  Add water.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Cool.  Store in the refrigerator. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Zucchini Pancakes

I have a huge back-log of posts that I hope to get on the blog soon.  We'll see how successful I am at getting everything posted.  I kind of have a lot going on right now to keep me pretty busy.  Between being a mom of two now (one of which is 3-months old), being a wife, going to class at church one night a week, spending time with friends and family, starting up a small business, and commuting and working about 30 hours per week at work... I have been keeping myself quite busy.  :)  But I have still been trying to get healthful meals on the table everyday.  These paleo zucchini pancakes were a weekly item on menu this summer, while we were getting so many zucchini in our CSA.  They have continued to show up occasionally, as we are still getting zucchini in our weekly CSA share.  These are based off of the Barefoot Contessa's recipe.  They are delicious and so fast and easy to make.  We all love them. 

Zucchini Pancakes

2 medium zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
2 tablespoons grated red onion (or use a teaspoon of onion powder)
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 8 tablespoons almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Unsalted butter

Grate the zucchini into a bowl.  Immediately stir in the onion and eggs.  Stir in 6 tablespoons of the flour, the baking powder, salt, and pepper. (If the batter gets too thin from the liquid in the zucchini, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.)

Heat a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan over medium heat and melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in the pan.  When the butter is hot, but not smoking, lower the heat to medium-low and drop heaping soup spoons of batter into the pan.  Cook the pancakes about 2 minutes on each side, until browned.

This post is shared at:

Grandma's Vegetable Beef Soup

I grew up not caring for any soup, but this is the one soup I would always eat.  Now I love all kinds of soup, but this one is still a favorite.  I can't believe I have never posted the recipe.  I took a picture of it the last time I made it (without potatoes and added peas)... but still never got around to posting it.  I figured since I am making it overnight tonight for a family gathering tomorrow after church, I would post it.  This time, I made my beef broth a couple of weeks ago and froze it, just to save some prep time this weekend.  I will not be adding the cabbage or butter this time, though, due to Bristol's sensitivity.  I generally always add homemade tomato soup, but the stuff I have in the freezer right now has milk in it, so I bought some organic soup with the fewest ingredients I could find.  This is such a delicious soup.  Let me know if you try it sometime!

Grandma's Vegetable Beef Soup

1 small beef roast (or 1-2 pounds stew meat)
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 cup celery, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 Tablespoons butter
1-2 cans tomato soup

Place roast with onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper in a large soup pot.  Cover with water by a couple of inches, bring to a boil.  Boil until beef is cooked through.  Remove roast and set aside to cool.  Cut up into chunks when cool enough to handle.

Strain broth.  Discard bay leaf and onion.  Return broth to soup pot.

Add chopped beef, celery, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, butter, and tomato soup to the soup pot.  Simmer until vegetables are cooked and beef is very tender. 

You can also dump everything into a crockpot and cook on low all day, if you prefer.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hawaiian Meatballs

I've been looking for new recipes to make using ground beef.  I picked up this year's beef a month or so ago and we still had a decent supply of ground beef from last year... so I'm trying to use some of it up.  In the winter months, I always fear running out of ground beef, so I avoid using it much.  Then when it comes time to get the new order of beef, I find myself feeling like I'm drowning in ground beef.  So when I saw The Mango Duck's recipe for Hawaiian Meatballs on Pinterest the other day, I figured I'd give them a try.  I made a few changes - added some almond flour and an egg, plus omitted a few ingredients since I didn't have them on hand - red pepper flakes, lime juice, and cilantro.  I'll post the recipe as I made it below.  I also changed the cooking method to use the crockpot.  I'd like to try them on the stovetop sometime, as The Mango Duck made them, but we were going away during the day and I just wanted to have an easy dinner, ready to go once we got home. 

These were really good.  We all really liked them a lot.  It kind of reminded us of some thai-coconut curries we've had, but with a little sweetness from the pineapple.  It was yummy!  Carson even went back for seconds.  They were quite easy to throw together, too - at least using the crockpot for everything.  I'll definitely be making these again! 

Hawaiian Meatballs

For the meatballs:
2 lbs of ground meat (pork, chicken, turkey, etc)
3/4 cup almond flour
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Tablespoons Coconut Aminos
2 teaspoon curry powder
2 green onions, diced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 egg
salt & pepper to taste

For the sauce:
1 can coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Coconut Aminos
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 green onion, diced
juice from 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons crushed pineapple
3 Tablespoons pineapple juice
2 teaspoon basil, chopped

Mix all the ingredient for the meatballs in a bowl and then form into meatballs.  Make them whatever size you like.  Place the meatballs into a crockpot. 

Mix ingredients for sauce in a bowl.  Pour over meatballs in crockpot. 

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until meatballs are cooked through.

This post is shared at:
Monday Mania @ The Healthy Home Economist
Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager
Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival @ Hartke is Online
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stifado (Greek Stew)

I pinned a post recently for summer slow cooker meal ideas.  One of the ideas featured in that pin was for a greek stew called stifado from Dialed-In Nutrition.  It sounded really good - plus I was trying to use up some of last year's beef before I pick up our beef this week.  So I made this for dinner one night last week.  I cut out a lot of the prep work to make it super easy to prepare and I don't feel like it really cut the flavors or taste at all.  I also cut out the optional ingredients and switched out a few for what I had on hand - I posted the recipe below as I made it.  This was very good - we all really liked it a lot.  My brother-in-law had dinner with us the night I made this and he thought it was very good, as well.  I served it with orzo, some roasted zucchini fries and roasted mushrooms. 

Greek Stifado

3 Tablespoons coconut oil
2-3 pounds grassfed beef, cut into 1 1/2" cubes (I used a chuck roast and cut it up)
1 medium onion, chopped
10 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup tomato puree (I just used a can of diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Add everything into your crockpot.  Stir to incorporate ingredients.  Cover.  Let cook on low for at least 8 hours. 

This post is shared at:
Monday Mania @ The Healthy Home Economist
Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival @ Hartke is Online

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Collard Greens

Sorry I've been MIA for quite awhile.  Life has been quite busy preparing for the arrival of our new baby girl for many months.  She has now joined our family and life is still pretty crazy.  But I'm hoping to be able to post a few things here and there a little more regularly now.  I've got a back-log of posts that I want to get up on the blog, but I'm going to start with this one because collards are in season now and they make a regular appearance on our table once or twice a week these days. 

We have bought into a local, organic CSA this summer since I knew I wouldn't have time to tend a garden with a new baby.  We are loving it so far!  We're getting the chance to cook with and eat some veggies that we wouldn't normally grow (but likely will in the future).  One of which is collard greens.  We are really loving the greens.  I figured I'd share how I've been preparing them each week.  They take some time to cook, but its not active time on my part, so they're super easy to make.  And they turn out super moist, tender, and flavorful every time.  We all really like them a lot.  I make kale this way, as well. 

This is just the base recipe.  But I've also used bacon grease instead of the olive oil and added some chopped bacon to the greens at the end, which resulted in even more deliciousness. 

Collard Greens

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds washed collard greens
2 cups chicken broth

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Rip the collard greens from the stems and tear into small pieces.  Add to the pan.  Pour chicken broth over greens and stir.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crockpot French Dip Beef

My husband loves french dip sandwiches. My son and I think they are pretty good, too, especially homemade. But we haven't had them in ages because we haven't been eating much bread while following the primal/paleo diet. With a new baby arriving in a couple of months, I've been trying to get some easy, tasty, nourishing foods in the freezer so that I can just pull them out for easy dinners after the baby is born. So I decided to make up some french dip beef a few weeks ago. It really couldn't be easier to make and it is so delicious! Using homemade beef bone broth and grass fed beef makes this a very nourishing meal, as well.  We ate it for dinner one night and I was able to put two containers of the beef and au jus into the freezer to have later on this summer. Kevin and Carson ate this on some buns, which obviously is not paleo, but I ate the beef on its own with some au jus over top.  I think I actually like it better without the bun, honestly.  I served it with some roasted vegetables - asparagus, mushrooms, and broccoli.

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

3-4 pound grass fed chuck roast
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 quart homemade beef broth
2 Tablespoons coconut aminos (a healthy alternative to soy sauce)
Water or more beef broth, enough to cover the roast by about 1/2 inch - the amount, or even whether you need it will depend on what size crockpot you are using. I used a 4-qt crock, so I only needed to add about 1/2 cup.

Place roast in crock. Add onions and garlic, broth, coconut aminos, and water, if needed.

Let cook on low all day until meat is very tender and falling off the bone. Remove the meat from crock and shred using two forks. Add shredded meat back into crock. Serve on its own with au jus over top, or on buns with a small ramekin of the au jus for dipping.

If freezing, be sure to include plenty of au jus in your containers.

This post is shared at:
Real Food Forager's Fat Tuesday
Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I know everyone has their own guacamole recipe, but I still need to post this one.  I've made a lot of different guacamoles over time, but this one beats them all... hands down.  I got this recipe from my friend, Melissa, over at The Franson Kitchen.  She made it with her amazing cafe rio when she invited our family over for dinner last winter.  It was delicious then and it was delicious when I made it again last weekend for my son's birthday party.  Guacamole has been one thing I've been craving during this pregnancy.  I think I could eat it every day... especially if I made this recipe every day!  And I did actually make this recipe (in smaller proportion) three different times in the last week.  :)  It is just that good.  I basically make it just as Melissa has it posted on her blog, with the exception of the jalapeno.  You need some for flavor, but I don't add a whole one... just enough to add the flavor without the spice.  I'll post it below the way I make it. 

The Best Guacamole Ever

4-5 ripe avocados (if they are large ones, only 4)
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 of a small jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Cut avocados in half length-wise and remove pits.  Scoop the avocado flesh from the shells.  In a medium bowl, mash with a potato masher or large fork.  You don't want to completely turn it to mush, leave a few small chunks for texture.  Add the remaining ingredients.  
Serve with tortilla chips as an appetizer or as a topping for tacos or other mexican dishes. 
You can make this a couple of hours in advance, but you will want to be sure to seal it well so that no air gets to the surface and turns it brown.  I take plastic wrap and press it down on top of the guacamole in the bowl, removing all the air and making sure the edges are sealed well.  Then just remove the plastic wrap when you're ready to serve.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Balsamic Chicken

We are still loving all of the recipes I try from Make it Paleo.  Most of them are so simple and fast to make, which is what I really like in a recipe for a work night.  And they have all tasted wonderful, too.  This one is no exception.  In the book, it is titled Balsamic and Rosemary Chicken.  I could not find my rosemary when I made this, so I used some of my home-dried french tarragon instead.  It was awesome.  The herbs and garlic flavor the chicken while it bakes and the balsamic that is drizzled on immediately once you remove from the oven soaks in and adds an even more wonderful flavor.  I want to try this with bone-in, skin-on chicken some time.  I used boneless, skinless as the recipe called for this time, since I do freeze some boneless, skinless breasts when I butcher my fresh chickens (though most are frozen with bone in, and skin on.  This recipe will have a regular place in our meals.  It'll be awesome this summer on salads that we make from our CSA share - which we just decided on this weekend and will be sending in our deposit for this week!  We can't wait! 

Balsamic Chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tarragon or rosemary, dried - increase to 2 teaspoons if using fresh
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Press fresh garlic and tarragon or rosemary into chicken breasts. 

Roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately drizzle balsamic vinegar over chicken breasts.  Let rest in pan for a few minutes before serving. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Paleo Smoked Paprika Chicken

One of my Christmas gifts this year was the cookbook Make it Paleo.  The cookbook is huge and every recipe is accompanied by a picture, which is so great.  I've been really anxious to try out some of the recipes and finally got around to trying a few this past week.  First up was smoked paprika chicken.  This was super fast and easy to prep, with virtually no cleanup from prep other than throwing the ziplock bag away.  It takes awhile to roast, but it's so worth it.  The chicken develops a wonderful smoky flavor with a crunchy skin.  It was so delicious! 

Even though the cook time is kind of lengthy, this recipe involves such little hands on time.  Prep took less than 5 minutes, then the oven does the rest of the work.  So this is definitely a keeper recipe.  I served this with side salads, roasted asparagus, and corn.

The recipe in Make it Paleo is for chicken thighs.  When I butcher my fresh chickens, I freeze the dark meat in quarters.  So I used quarters and increased the spice quantities a bit to account for more chicken.  The recipe also calls for red palm oil, which I do not have.  I used coconut oil and it worked great.  I've posted the recipe below as I made it.

Smoked Paprika Chicken Quarters

3 bone-in, skin-on pastured chicken quarters (leg and thigh)
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Put the spices and oil in a large ziplock bag, mix well.  Next, add the chicken and toss until the chicken is fully coated. 

Place chicken in a baking pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake at 425 for 40-45 minutes.

This post is linked to: 
Monday Mania @ The Healthy Home Economist

Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy Cheesy Queso Dip

Ok, so this recipe is not paleo-friendly at all.  But this is a super easy appetizer to throw together if some friends show up at your door to hang out for a bit unexpectedly, or you decide to head over to a get together last-minute and have nothing planned or prepped to contribute.  Bottom line, it's super fast to throw together and is always a hit.  I've been making this dip for many years, I think since high school, or shortly thereafter.  My friend Destiny made it many, many years ago for a get together at her house and I've loved it ever since. 

Easy Cheesy Queso Dip

8 oz organic cream cheese, or homemade soft cheese
1/2 - 3/4 cup homemade salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar or co-jack cheese

Leave cream cheese out of refrigerator to soften a little.  Once it has softened, mix all ingredients together.  Serve immediately, or place back in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.  This is great with tortilla chips and fresh veggies! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Paleo Dijon Pork Chops

I'm still getting back into the swing of things when it comes to cooking dinners.  I still have some "off" days, but thankfully my good days far outnumber the bad ones.  I've been kind of excited to finally get back to cooking.  Its been a long couple months of eating leftovers (if I would make a big crockpot of something on a weekend... cooked in the garage to avoid the smell :)), food brought over by my family, and eating out.  I think we were all looking forward to home-cooked family dinners again.  :)

I was hungry for pork chops last week, so I came up with this recipe based off of things that have been tasty in the past.  This is super simple and a very quick meal... Perfect for a work night!  Dinner was on the table within a little less than 20 minutes after starting the prep.  And it was delicious!  That's my kind of meal! 

Paleo Dijon Pork Chops

2-3 pork chops, preferably pastured pork
2-3 Tablespoons dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper

Preheat a stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add some coconut oil to melt.  Also, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Meanwhile, mix dijon, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Dip pork chops into mixture, making sure all surfaces are covered. 

Place pork chops in hot skillet.  Don't move them once you put them down in the skillet.  You want to get a nice brown color on each side.  It took mine about 2 minutes per side. 

Once both sides have been seared, transfer the skillet to your preheated oven.  Cook until done, probably about 7-9 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve.

I served these with peas, corn, and side salads.  Enjoy!

This post is linked to:
Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade
Monday Mania @ The Healthy Home Economist
Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival @ Hartke is Online

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year! I'm Back!

First off, Happy New Year!!  I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family and that you have a blessed 2012 ahead of you! 

Secondly, I know I've been MIA since the end of October.  Sorry about that!  I found out just before the time of my last post that I am pregnant and expecting baby #2.  It's been quite a rough first trimester with lots of "morning" sickness and I just couldn't bring myself to even think about blogging about food.  :)  Thankfully, I've now passed the 14-week mark... and am finally in the last week of my first trimester!!!!  I am feeling much improved, but still have some bouts with the "morning" sickness.  I hope things will continue to improve in the next week or two.  And I also hope to start getting some new blog posts up soon. 

I wanted to first just do a quick reflection on my 2011 goals... cheesemaking, fermented cod liver oil/butter oil, language learning, run a 5k, buy a grain mill, eat fewer grains, P90x, lose weight, and catch up on blog posts. 
  • I did venture into cheesemaking quite a bit earlier in the year - I still have quite a few posts in my back-log that I'd like to eventually get on the blog about it.  I got a little side-tracked with garden stuff and food preservation in the summer months and kind of got out of the habit, though.  I plan to get back into it soon, though.  
  • I started taking the gel form of the fermented CLO/BO and was doing great with it until I found out I was pregnant.  :)  I just couldn't stomach it, so I switched back to the pill form.  I'd like to get back on the gel stuff soon, as well. 
  • I didn't get very far with language learning for myself, but Kevin and I have been working with Carson quite a bit.  He knows quite a bit of spanish and some french.  We'll continue working on this for awhile. 
  • I didn't run a 5k.  No excuses for it, either.  :)
  • I didn't buy a grain mill, but I did eat way fewer grains.  I figured the grain mill would not get used much at all once we went primal/paleo mid-way through the year.  I don't plan to buy one anymore.  We've been off the primal/paleo way of life since I started having "morning sickness," but are just starting to get back into it this week, finally.  We won't be 100% for awhile, probably, but anything will be better than the way we've been eating these last two months! 
  • I did do some P90X and lost a bit of weight, but then gained it back... and then lost some again with the "morning" sickness.  I'm still down 15 pounds from the end of October, when I found out I was pregnant, and not gaining anything.  We'll see if it lasts. 
  • I did catch up on lots of blog posts, but still have a ton that I'd like to get posted eventually.  We'll see what life brings. 
For 2012, I'm not really making any strict goals.  We've had some things happen recently that have reminded us what is really important in life.  The to-do lists and projects will always be there, but our friends and family may not be.  So I guess this year, our only goal is to enjoy life!  Of course, we'll accomplish a lot along the way, but we just want to life a happy, love-filled life and not have any regrets.  :) 

For awhile now, this blog has not been a priority to me... yet my stats are the highest they've ever been.  The number of comments don't reflect the number of visits, though.  If you visit and try a recipe, please let me know - I'd love to hear about it!  Even these last two months, with no new posts at all, my stats are higher than they were for any particular month in years past.  It's kind of crazy.  Of course, I'll still be posting this year, though.  But like I said, it's not a priority.  So I apologize now if there are gaps of time between posts or if I don't respond to your comment or question right away. 

Lastly, just for fun... I wanted to post my Top 10 Posts for 2011

10. Eggs in a Basket (with Zucchini)

9.  Making Homemade Butter from Raw Cream

8.  Chicken Souvlaki

7.  Balsamic Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

6.  Strawberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

5.  Paleo/Primal Stuffed Peppers in the Crockpot

4.  Organic Gardening - Soil Testing

3.  Grain-Free Fudgy Brownies

2.  Paleo Salmon Florentine

1.  Primal Egg Casserole

This post is linked to:
Monday Mania @ Healthy Home Economist
Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS
Pennywise Platter Thursday @ The Nourishing Gourmet

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