Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hollie's Pinwheel Chicken

My friend Hollie posted this recipe on the POH blog a long time ago and I've been meaning to try it ever since. Last night was the big night and we really enjoyed it! The paprika and lemon juice add a nice kick that is different from all my other breaded chicken strip recipes and we really liked the variety. Fairly simple to make and healthy if you use your own bread crumbs instead of store-bought ones.

Pinwheel Chicken:

  • 2-3 Tbsp parsley (if you're using fresh, use more and chop very fine)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (make them if you can)
  • 1/3- 1/2 Parmesan cheese (preferably fresh)
  • 1 lb of chicken tenders (or chicken breasts cut into strips)
  • paprika
  • 1 lemon or lime

1. Melt stick of butter completely in bowl
2.) Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl: bread crumbs, salt, pepper, parsley Parmesan cheese
3.) Make an assembly line in this order: raw chicken, melted butter, dry mixture, greased Pyrex or oven-safe pottery
4.) Designating your left hand for butter dipping, dip chicken strip into butter and drop into crumb mixture. With right hand only, fully cover the chicken by tossing around and roll it up like a pinwheel or a snail into the dish. It might take some time rolling it with one hand, but with a little practice, you'll be a pro. *By designating one hand for butter dipping and the other hand for dry ingredients, you eliminate a lot of moisture and clumps in your dry mixture; thus making it go farther.
5.) Continue placing each pinwheel into your Pyrex, touching one to the other, so keep them tightly rolled.
6.) Sprinkle lightly with paprika all over to add a little kick and color. Adds great flavor!
7.) Squeeze lemon all over the pinwheels (This is the secret ingredient and a MUST to this dish.)
8.) Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

*Check on them at 25 minutes, depending on your oven. The key here is not to dry them out/over bake them since they are very thin strips. Chicken should reach a temperature of no higher than 170 degrees, although some prefer 160 degrees to retain moisture. I prefer 160 degrees.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home-made Tomato Soup

I love tomato soup! It is a comfort food to me... growing up, we ate it (along with a grilled cheese sandwich) almost every Sunday afternoon in the fall and winter. But since I've tried to stop cooking with canned soups, I haven't had it in forever! So when Girl Talk blog gave this easy recipe for Tomato Basil soup, I jumped at the chance to try it! I have to admit that I didn't have all the ingredients on hand, so I kind of took the idea and ran with it. (For example, I didn't have any heavy cream, so I used a combination of our whole milk and cream cheese :). I also sprinkled parmesan cheese on top. Oh, it was so good!

La Madeline's Tomato Basil Soup

4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
12 fresh basil leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 stick (1/4 lb) of sweet unsalted butter
Salt to taste
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper

Simmer tomatoes in saucepan for 30 minutes. Puree, with the basil leaves, in small batches, in blender or food processor. Return to saucepan and add cream, butter, salt and pepper while stirring over low heat. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with your favorite bread.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Creamy Chicken Divane Soup

I found this recipe while waiting for my OB apt. and looking through a Southern Living magazine :) We absolutely LOVE my Mom's chicken divane recipe, but I don' t make it often because I don't like the mayonnaise and canned cream of chicken soup it requires. So I was excited to find this soup recipe that does taste surprisingly similar! I added some shredded carrots to it for added nutrients and it worked well with the soup. This recipe makes a lot, so I cut it in half for our family. This post is part of the Whole Food for the Holidays Progressive Dinner!

1 Tbs. butter
1 med. sweet onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (I left that out)
1 (48 oz.) container chicken broth (I used home-made)
2 (12-oz) pkg. fresh broccoli (about 12 cups)
1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese, cut into cubes
4 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 (8oz.) block sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 shredded carrots if desired :)

Directions: Melt butter, saute onion til tender, add garlic (and shredded carrots) and red pepper. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and broccoli. Cover and bring to a boil 10-15 min. Stir in cream cheese. Process with a blender til smooth (we wanted it chunky, so I skipped that step :). Add chicken and shredded cheese. Cook on med-low, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes til cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper.

This recipe is part of Kelly's Korner SUYL

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Butternut Squash Fries

I've seen recipes for butternut squash fries, but stayed away from them because I thought they would be a pain to make. But Kimi gives a great tutorial on the easiest way to cut and peel the squash HERE. I highly recommend checking it out. These were the best tasting fries yet. I'm still working on getting the perfect size of fry and amount of oil so they are really crispy, but the whole family loved these, even the softer ones!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1 butternut squash
4 tablespoons oil (I have used coconut oil or a mixture of coconut oil and olive oil)
Sea salt and pepper

I added a sprinkle of cinnamon, cloves and sucanut :)

Directions: Check out Kimi's post on how to cut your squash! Place the cut squash in a bowl, and, if needed, melt coconut oil gently. Toss the oil with the squash and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

The other secret to getting not overly soft squash fries is to very widely space them on your sheet pan. The ones below really were a little too close. It works best to have them far apart from each other. I would use two sheet pans for one squash, if possible.

Place in your hot oven for about 45 minutes, switching the sheet pans, half way through. This will depend on your oven and how small you cut them, so check early, and leave a time cushion if they take a little longer then you expect.

You want them to get not only well cooked, but slightly browned as well.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Creamy Ranchy Dressing

One of my New Years Resolutions was to find a Ranch dressing recipe for my husband. I am quite content with pretty much any of the EVOO and ACV variations, so I have been eating healthy salads all year long. But I suddenly realized that it was October and I had been letting my husband slowly destroy himself with rancid soybean oil for the past 10 months! (OK, I'll admit that I am slightly dramatic, but store-bought salad dressings are ever so bad for you and my dear husband just loves his Ranch on EVERYTHING (pizza, roasted potatoes, etc). So last night I was fixing us a taco salad for dinner and randomly decided to try out a recipe that I had bookmarked several months ago. And I was so glad that I did, because after 10 months of only eating oil and vinegar dressings, this creamy dressing was just heavenly to me! My husband said it was pretty good, that it didn't taste exactly like Ranch, but was close enough and a good enough dressing for him to be happy to eat. So here is the recipe that I got from Heavenly Homemakers (a fabulous blog, by the way!)

Note: I don't recommend using the mayonnaise version, unless you make your own, because store-bought mayonnaise is also filled with rancid vegetable oils that are bad for you. The dip version is healthy, though, and I actually made up my own version utilizing the dry mix and a cup of buttermilk, a pkg of cream cheese, and several Tbs olive oil. Oh, and I added some dill because we love dill :) (Sorry, I know I can't ever leave a recipe alone :) But the mix is good to use with whatever creamy sauce you like :)

Ranch Dressing Mix

5 Tablespoons dried minced onions
7 teaspoon parsley flakes
4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together and store in an air tight container.

For dressing: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk or sour cream. (I use buttermilk.)

For dip: Mix 2 Tablespoons dry mix with 2 cups sour cream or kreme fresh.

Mix up a few hours before serving, so the flavors all blend nicely.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Crock pot pumpkin apple butter! (No peeling!)

...And so the pumpkin obsession continues! This was kind of an experiment :) I just replaced some of the apples with fresh pumpkin puree in a normal apple butter recipe. I had to add a little bit more honey, because the pumpkins aren't quite as sweet, but it worked well!

I've been looking for an apple butter recipe that uses honey instead of sugar and doesn't require peeling. And yesterday, Health, Home, and Happiness blog posted THIS simple crock-pot recipe for apple butter that uses honey without peeling the apples!

So I just decided to replace some of the apples with fresh pumpkin puree. And I increased the honey since pumpkins aren't very sweet. And added nutmeg and cloves, because every pumpkin deserves some nutmeg and cloves :) So here is what I did:

6 apples, cored and sliced
puree from 2 small pie pumpkins
1/2 cup water
1 cup honey (you might need more if your family is not used to minimally sweetened food :)
Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg to taste (Sorry; I never measure :)

Directions: Put everything in crockpot and cook on low for about 12 hours. At this point you will have apple-pumpkin sauce. Puree with blender or food processor til smooth and place back in crockpot on lowest setting with lid cracked for another 4-6 hours. Stir every hour or so and it will darken and turn in to apple -pumpkin butter! Freeze or can as you would apple butter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Healthy and Yummy Pumpkin Pancakes!

Oh, it is definitely that time of year again! You know, the time of year when any recipe containing the word pumpkin catches my eye :) Yes, I definitely have a pumpkin obsession! I've always LOVED pumpkin pancakes and there are tons of recipes out there, but I had not yet found one that meets my healthy standards (i.e. honey instead of sugar and soaking the flour to reduce the phytates and improve digestion.) So I was excited to randomly come across the Come Walk With Me blog, which discusses Nourishing Tradition-style food and recipes. Lisa's recipe for pumpkin pancakes is not only healthy, but delicious, and even my "not-so-obsessed-with-pumpkin" husband whole-heartedly approved :) She says they freeze well, also, but there weren't enough left today for me to find out :)

Squash (or Pumpkin) Pancakes
2 c. flour (I used spelt)
1 1/2 c. buttermilk ( I used keifer because it was what I had on hand; yogurt would work as well)
*12-24 hours beforehand, combine these two ingredients & cover

1 c. squash or pumpkin puree (I just used the whole can, probably 1 1/2 cups)
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/8 t. nutmeg
2 T. raw sugar, honey, or maple syrup
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
2 T. melted coconut oil

When you're ready to make the pancakes stir in all remaining ingredients to the soaked flour/buttermilk mixture. Lisa likes thin pancakes (not fluffy) so she added about 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. milk to greatly thin out this batter. I wanted them thick, so I didn't add any, and the batter didn't pour easily but still made great pancakes! Heat additional coconut oil in a skillet over medium low heat (you want these to cook all the way through) flipping when bubbles pop.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stuffed Peppers With a Mexican Flair

I love stuffed peppers! But my husband is not a huge fan of the normal rice and beef and tomato sauce version. So I thought I'd try something different and he really liked it! (Of course, he decided to eat it with chips, and that makes everything wonderful in his book :) But this dish would also be great served over quinoa or rice, and I ate the leftovers wrapped up in one of my home-made tortillas and it was delicious! You could even make it a vegetarian dish if you skipped on the ground beef. I got the recipe from Kitchen Stewardship, a great blog for finding healthy recipes and learning about nutrition! I substituted my own taco meat for the ground beef and seasoning packet because I wanted to avoid all the MSG and fake seasonings in those packets. My girls won't eat the peppers, but I saved them a mixture of the taco meat, corn, and beans before adding in the salsa. They loved it with a little bit of quinoa and cheese added.

3-5 bell peppers, green or colored, halved, seeds removed
1/2 pound ground beef (or a full pound)
1 Tbs. taco seasoning (or follow package directions for 1/2 pound beef)
1 1/2 c. frozen corn (optional)
2 c. black beans (dried and prepared or about 1 can)
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1/4 c. diced red onion
(optional) other vegetables: diced red pepper, zucchini, leafy greens, etc…anything you have on hand to enhance the mixture
shredded cheese

Directions: Mix all the ingredients except cheese (I warmed mine and mixed on the stove top) and simply fill the raw peppers, adding a little water around them in the casserole dish to soften them up while it bakes. Bake 30 minutes, covered, before removing the cover for 5-10 minutes to brown the cheese.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Taco Seasoning Mix

We were planning to have taco salad this week, so I decided to try out a new recipe. While at my parents' house a while back, I watched an Alton Brown show about tacos. (Yes, I LOVE the Food Network!!! But we don't have cable so I only get to watch it at my parents' house :) His tacos looked so good that I had to try the recipe. Mark thought it was great, and I like it because I can mix up a bunch of the dry ingredients ahead of time for whenever I want to make taco meat in a hurry!

Seasoning mix:

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Put all of the ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Yield: 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons

Other ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 16 ounces ground sirloin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 recipe Taco Seasoning Mix (recipe above)
  • 2/3 cup low-sodium beef broth (I used some home-made chicken stock and a few Tbs of tomato sauce)
  • 2 Tbs oil (I used olive)
Directions: Heat oil on med. heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned around the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground meat, 1 teaspoon salt, and garlic. Cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, to break up the meat. Add Taco Seasoning Mix and beef broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until sauce is slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

I found the recipe @

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yummy strawberry or peach bread!

After reading THIS GREAT POST about why a fellow blogger decided to not eat any more cereal (all the same reasons that I had for making the same decision!), I decided to check out her healthy recipes for some new breakfast ideas. Her Strawberry bread jumped out at me because we have tons of strawberries in our freezer right now. I made the healthier soaked version, but she also gives the non-soaking version if you want it. YUM! I only used 1 cup of sucanat instead of 1 1/2 cups and it was plenty sweet for me. Next time I might lessen it even more! You should really check out her blog: Homemade Dutch Apple Pie for some other great recipes!

Strawberry Bread (Peach Bread/Fruit Bread)

2 cups fresh (or frozen) strawberries
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups rapadura or sucanat
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup melted butter (organic)
3 eggs (hormone/antibiotic free)

First…you can do one of two things with your strawberries: If they’re fresh, you can slice them and stir them into your dry ingredients. Or, if you don’t think your family will like chunks of strawberries in their bread…blend them all up in the blender, then mix in. If you’re using frozen strawberries, thaw, then blend in blender.

Mix dry ingredients together. Stir in butter, eggs and strawberries. Pour into two buttered loaf pans. Bake in a 350° oven for 45-50 minutes.

To soak flour:
Melt butter and cool slightly. Mix flour, butter and enough buttermilk to just moisten the flour. Cover and let sit for at least 7 hours. When ready to bake add remaining ingredients. You can add a little extra buttermilk if the dough is too dry or just to make the bread lighter/more moist. Bake as directed above.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Easy raspberry or chocolate swirl cheesecake

Cheesecakes are impressive. If I see one at a covered dish, I always think, "wow; someone went all out for this meal!" They can be somewhat intimidating, but I recently learned that I could make a really good one with very little effort. I couldn't decide between the chocolate swirl and the raspberry swirl, so I did half and half. Believe it or not, we preferred the raspberry side because the cake is so rich and sweet that the tangy raspberry flavor was the perfect compliment. But the chocolate was definitely delicious as well :) Give it a try; you won't be disappointed!

(Warning: this is not one of my "healthier" recipes, in case you had any doubts... I want to try it with honey instead of sugar, but haven't had the nerve. I suppose these homemade graham crackers would work for a healthier crust, though :)

2 pkg (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 graham cracker crust -- you can use an pre-made one, but the home-made kind is pretty simple as well and looks more impressive :)
3 Tbs. fruit preserves or 1 square Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted, slightly cooled

Directions: Mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs; mix until blended. Pour into crust. Dot top of cheesecake with preserves or melted chocolate. Cut through batter with knife several times for marbled effect. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.

Recipe found in the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Collection

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dinner Options

When I am making my monthly meal plan, I keep this list of our favorite meals in front of me. I usually try to pick one beef, one chicken, one soup, and one pasta recipe a week, as well as a meal from our freezer and a penny-pinching (inexpensive :) meal. Since we pay more for grass fed beef and organic chickens from the farmer's market, I'm also trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our plan to save money. However, my husband generally doesn't like them as much so I don't do it every week. I also try to double and freeze at least one meal a week.

Meg's Dinner Options

Our top 6 favorites (can you tell we like Mexican?):
Sweet n Sour Chicken Tacos or over quinoa or rice

Baked Spaghetti
Baked Turkey and Gravy
Baked Ziti
Barbeque Chicken (on rice/Sand/or w/ bacon and cheese)
BarBQ beef cups
Chicken, grilled, with lime and cilantro
Chicken Parmesan
Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie
Chicken Salad
Chicken Mexican Crockpot Dinner
Chicken Taquitos
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Divane
Chicken-Apple-Cheese Bake
Chili -- over spaghetti, chips, or potatoes
Corn and Cheese Chowder with grilled ham and cheese sand.
Cranberry Chicken
Creamy Chicken Spinach Pasta
Cream Cheese Chicken Chili
Crockpot Roast with veggies
Grilled Chicken Salad with strawberries/grapes/almonds/whatever in fridge :)
Shepherd's Pie
Sloppy Joes
Stirfry w/ onions, peppers, and other veggies-- chicken or beef
Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Smothered Cheesy Roasted Club Sandwich
Stromboli (just using my pizza dough)
Steak Fajitas
Stuffed Mexican Peppers
Sweet Chicken Tacos or over quinoa or rice
Sweet N Sour Chicken
Taco Bake
Amazing Taco Salad
Taco Soup

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Taco Salad Dressing

My sis-in-law gave me this awesome recipe for an easy, healthy, and delicious salad dressing that satisfies my current lime and cilantro obsession!

2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 oz fresh lime juice, lemon will also work if needed
1/4 tsp. salt
splash of tobasco, optional
finely snipped cilantro to taste (between 1-2 TBS)
8 oz. olive oil

Directions: Mix all the ingredients except for the olive oil together really well then add 8oz. olive oil and mix again. Try to make it early in the day to let it sit so the acidity of the lime juice will blend the flavors well.

Stocking the freezer!

With 2 little ones and a husband whose work schedule changes randomly, I often end up without time to prepare a nice dinner for my family. We are on a strict budget and try to avoid eating out just because "there is nothing to eat in the house!" (We like to plan on eating out for special occasions instead :) So when I make my meal-plan each week, I try to make sure I plan one day (usually the day that Mark is off work so he can help watch the girls :) to go crazy cooking and double or triple a recipe or two for freezing. That way I always have something to pull out in a pinch. So I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite things to make in bulk and freeze.

(Note: I "flash freeze" the enchiladas and manicotti before cooking on a cookie sheet and then dump into freezer-safe ziplocks bags. You can also freeze them in a pan with the sauce, but it takes up more room and I find that they come out more soggy. I flash freeze the chicken strips, cordon blue, bierocks and meatballs the same way. Everything else just gets dumped in a tupperware :)

Taco Meat
the Best Sloppy Joes Ever
Cheesy Chicken Strips
Taco soup
Tortilla Soup
Chicken Cordon Blue
Lime Chicken Tacos

Home-made Pizza Dough
Home-made Tortillas
Pancakes and Waffles
Breakfast cookies
muffins -- pumpkin and berry
Harvest Loaf
Zucchini Bread
Pumpkin pancakes
Pumpkin waffles

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't eat Mexican without fresh lime juice and cilantro!

I just had to write about how I am currently addicted to freshly squeezed lime and cilantro. I've been adding it to all sorts of random mexican-like things and it just makes my food seem so fresh and delicious. I first got the craving after making Chicken Taquitos, and then our friends Mary and Samy made us a yummy Gordito dinner and offered us fresh limes to squeeze and cilantro to sprinkle on the top... and I was hooked! Here are a couple of my favorite ways to use it:

Easiest Taco Dinner: Place chicken breasts and a jar of salsa in a crockpot on low all day. (Read the ingredients in your salsa or you will mistakenly get HFCS!) Serve with your favorite type of tacos/tortillas/gorditos/rice/quinoa and any/all of the following add-ons:

sliced avocado
sour cream or cream cheese
sliced lime
diced cucumbers
soaked and cooked beans
shredded cheese
*Remember to squeeze the lime juice on last!

My favorite easy lunch:
Fill a pita or tortilla with turkey or chicken breast, top with a bit of salsa and cheese, sprinkle on some cilantro, and squeeze some lime juice on top just before toasting in the toaster oven.

Easy chip dip:
Slowly heat equal portions of salsa and cream cheese on stove top on med-low, mixing regularly. Or bake in oven, at about 350 for 20 min, layered with cream cheese on the bottom and salsa on the top. Sprinkle cilantro and drizzle with lime juice right before serving. You can also add shredded cheese if desired.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Amazing melt in your mouth flourless chocolate cake

This cake is divine. It is not flourless because it is healthy. No, it is flourless because the other ingredients are so rich that no flour is needed. Oh, how I love this cake. It is the ultimate reward to a chocolate craving. It is the perfect way to treat yourself after a rough day. You simply have to try it. My awesome friend Heather made it for a cook-out and was so kind to give me the link for the recipe.


Cake 1 cup water 3/4 cup sugar 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, diced 18 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped 6 large eggs Ganache 1 cup heavy whipping cream 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped Lightly sweetened whipped cream

For cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment round; butter parchment. Wrap 3 layers of heavy-duty foil around outside of pan, bringing foil to top of rim.

Combine 1 cup water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat.

Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk sugar syrup into chocolate; cool slightly. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.

Bake cake until center no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes.

Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.
For ganache:

Bring whipping cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat.

Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cake still in pan. Gently shake pan to distribute ganache evenly over top of cake. Refrigerate cake in pan until ganache is set, about 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake; release sides.

Cut cake into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

This post is part of Kelly's SUYL desserts! Click on over for more yummy desserts!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Missouri and Rhodes Smothered Club Sandwich

My MIL got this recipe from a the Miller and Rhodes Tea Room that used to be in Roanoke, VA. People used to eat this sandwich (amongst other delicious treats) while being entertained by a fashion show at the tea room :) My husband loves this sandwich and recently asked me to get the recipe from his mother. The cheese sauce is super easy to whip up and is so yummy!

*Note-- we prefer to eat this as an open-face smothered sandwich with less bread and more meat. We also skip out on the Tabasco sauce and add a little more Worcestershire sauce instead :)

6 oz. thinly sliced fully cooked turkey
6 oz. thinly sliced fully cooked smoked ham
8 thin tomato slices
8 slices white bread, toasted lightly
4 thin slices sharp cheddar cheese (Optional; we usually find that the cheese sauce is enough cheese for us :)
8 crispy cooked slices of bacon

Tangy Cheese Sauce Ingredients:
2Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. butter, melted
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp. white pepper (I just use black pepper)
2-3 drops of hot sauce (we skip that because we don't like it spicy :)
1 Cup milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar or Swiss cheese
pinch of paprika

For Sauce: In a heavy saucepan, blend flour with margarine until smooth, add milk, stir in seasonings, gradually add cheese until it melts and thickens slightly.

For Sandwiches: On individual oven proof serving plates, evenly layer turkey, ham, and two tomato slices on each of four slices of toasted bread. Top each with a slice of toast and spoon cheese sauce generously over each serving. Then top each with a slice of cheese. Place under oven broiler until cheese is melted, bubbly hot, and lightly browned. Top each sandwich with two pieces of crisp bacon. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lynne's Layered Mexican Dip

My MIL makes this easy, yummy dip often when we come to visit :)

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
either a can of chili or homemade hot dog chili
1 can of diced Mexican style tomatoes with diced green chilies
1 bag pf Mexican shredded cheese
sour cream

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Spread cream cheese in the bottom of a medium baking dish. Layer the chili and then the tomatoes. Top with the shredded Mexican cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve hot with nachos or whatever chips you like and sour cream on the side.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Awesome Hummus

I was craving hummus this week and remembered that my friend, Melissa, had sent me this recipe that she said her family just loved. I doubled it and took some to a cook-out this weekend and everyone loved it and was asking me for the recipe. I used an extra garlic clove because fresh garlic is so good for you and adds so much flavor. All the adults loved it, but the extra kick was a little too spicy for my little ones. I also used my basic oil blend instead of just olive oil, and I think that the faint sweetness of the coconut oil was a nice contrast to the strong garlic flavor.

Total time: 5 minutes, Makes 1.5 cups
1 15 oz. can chickpeas ( garbanzo beans), rinsed
1 clove garlic
1/4 c olive oil, plus more for serving
2 TB fresh lemon juice (fresh makes a difference.)
2 TB tahini
1 t ground cumin
kosher salt
1/4 t paprika

>> In a food processor, puree the chickpeas and garlic with the olive oil, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon salt until smooth and creamy. Add 1-3 TB water as necessary to achieve the desired consistency.

>> Transfer to a bowl , drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika before serving.

This post is part of the Real Food Progressive Dinner! and Kelly's Korner SUYL

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Our favorite healthy quick snacks

Frozen bananas with peanut butter. This is one of my favorite night-time snacks. Frozen bananas taste remarkably like ice cream! I usually add some plain yogurt for a creamy kick as well. Sometimes I will add in some granola and/or coconut flakes to give it a crunch. Or some nutella or chocolate chips to satisfy a chocolate craving!
Tortilla pizzas -- When I make tortillas, I triple the recipe so I have enough for a month or two. So we always have tortillas on hand.
soaked and dehydrated almonds

soaked and dehydrated pecans
smoothy popsicles -- I make a super healthy smoothy with coconut milk, frozen fruit, raw honey, and other favorites and freeze it into popsicle molds for a quick, healthy treat
cheese chunks, raw if possible!-- if I am doing "snacks for lunch" I always include cheese to make sure my girls get plenty of dairy and protein!
grapes, apple slices, banana, and other fruit, often with sunflower butter
frozen blueberries (very messy, though, so not good for the car! But they are my girls' absolute favorite and we always keep some in the freezer for a quick fix for teething and busted lips :)
frozen peas
dehydrated, unsweetened coconut flakes

cut up dates, often with sunflower butter on them
black beans (my girls will eat them cold! But they stain as well, so be careful!)
cooked brown rice pasta (yes, they will eat that cold, as well :)
applesauce -- if you don't make your own, then please buy the unsweetened kind so you aren't giving your kids HFCS!!! The "original" kind is full of HFCS!
yogurt -- if you don't make your own, then try to get plain (unflavored) full-fat yogurt. It can be hard to find. When we are on the road, we get Fage Greek yogurt for the girls or Organic Stonyfield plain with the cream on top.

This post is a part of Kelly's Korner SUYL!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My new favorite simple snack

I don't have all the ingredients for my favorite power bars, so I've just been eating nut-butter on dates. Any nut-butter will do, although my favorite is sunflower butter. The dates have a perfect little hole for the nut-butter after taking the pit out, and the nut butter gives a salty contrast to the sweet date. My girls love it, too, although I have to admit it is a messy snack for them :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

The versatile favorite trio

My girls LOVE quinoa, beans, and chicken. Ok, I'll admit, they would be happy without the chicken, but I always add it for extra protein because it doesn't seem deter them. We make many a variation of those three items, so I thought I should blog about it to give you an idea.

1. Beans -- I make a batch once a month of 2 bags of black beans and freeze them in little bags because they are one of our easiest "healthy fast foods." I have no idea why, but my girls love them both hot or cold. If Karlie is fussing for dinner and it is not ready yet, I set her at the table with some cold beans straight out of the fridge and she is a happy camper. And Karis is the same way. It sounds gross to me, but it keeps them happy til their meal is done. Anyways, beans are most healthy when I soak them overnight in a bunch of warm water and about 4 Tbs of lemon juice. The next day I rinse them, boil them, scoop the impurities off the top, and let simmer on the stove til nice and soft (Several hours). Once cooled, I freeze in little bags in small quantities so I always have some on hand.

2. Quinoa -- My girls love the texture of this grain and so do I. It is the only grain that is a complete protein, so I love to feed it to them. I soak a cup of quinoa in a cup of water and a few Tbs. of yogurt, keifer, ACV, whey, etc. The next day I bring a cup of water or chicken stock to boil, rinse my quinoa (don't skip the rinsing or it will taste bitter!) and throw it in the pot. Then I turn off the heat and let it set until it has soaked up all the liquid.

3. Chicken -- cook it however you like it :) I usually boil it in a pot of water so I can make chicken stock to use in all my recipes.

Directions: Mix those three ingredients with a healthy liquid and a cheese and any other herbs or veggies you like :) I switch around the add-ons frequently so the girls never get tired of their beans and quinoa! I usually warm it all together in a saucepan, but they will even eat it cold! It is also good baked in the oven (at 350 for about 20 min) but it is much faster in the sauce pan. You can make it really thick to be easily grabbed by little fingers or put more liquid in it and make it a soup.

Our liquid options:
Olive oil
Coconut oil
Chicken stock
coconut milk
sour cream

Cheese options: Pretty much anything will work, but we especially love feta, cream cheese, parmesan, or sharp cheddar

Other add-ins:
crushed garlic
chopped peppers
chopped sweet onions sauteed in butter

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Super easy chicken salad tip

As I mentioned before, I've been making my poppy seed salad dressing all the time because I'm loving the fresh strawberries and greens I have been getting from my CSA. I had some left over cooked and shredded chicken from another meal I had made and decided to try a new chicken salad recipe because my old one isn't that healthy. (Now I have to apologize, because I didn't measure one bit! But that's why I called this a tip and not a recipe, ha, ha :) So I just mixed in some of my homemade poppy seed dressing with some sour cream, mixed it with some chicken and chopped grapes, and had a fabulous, easy, healthy chicken salad! Next time I'll measure for ya but I wanted to blog it before I forgot it :)

A new favorite muffin :)

One of my favorite bloggers, Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking, posted this recipe recently and my family loved it. I ended up cooking them a little longer than she mentioned because I used bananas I had just thawed from the freezer and they were still cold. I like the recipe because all the sweet fruit made it possible to decrease the sweetener. I used about 3/4 cup honey instead of sucanat and it worked fine. I'll probably try 2/3 cup next time. I was out of coconut oil, so I used butter instead. And I'm pretty sure I had a lot more cinnamon than the recipe called for because my toddler shook it in :) I doubled the recipe and froze them for a quick breakfast when needed. If you like these, you should really try out Lindsay's other recipes because we have loved all the ones we have tried!

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (or 2 cups sprouted flour and skip the soaking!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup sucanat or rapadura
  • 2 eggs flaxseed binder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk, kefir, yogurt, or acid medium of your choice
  • 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 apples – peeled, cored and shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour muffin cups, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil and sucanat/rapadura. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and buttermilk/yogurt/kefir. Beat in the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Fold in the mashed bananas and shredded apples. Fill each muffin cup full.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Soaking Adaption: Combine flour, coconut oil, acid medium (buttermilk, yogurt, etc), and an additional 1/4 cup warm filtered water. Mix thoroughly and then cover and leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours. After soaking, add the sucanat/rapadura, eggs, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly as there may be small clumps of soaked dough that needs to be broken down. Fold in the mashed bananas and apples. Gently and quickly incorporate the salt, baking soda and baking power. Fill each muffin cup full. Bake as described above.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cara's quinoa and black beans

I've never actually made a recipe using quinoa before; I always just use it in place of rice or with maple syrup for breakfast. But Cara sent me this recipe to go with her awesome Chicken Taquitos and I am so glad we tried it! We all enjoyed it, but Karlie in particular ate a ridiculous amount :) I followed the recipe pretty well but I skipped on the cayenne pepper, though :) I also soaked my quinoa overnight in 2 Tbs. of yogurt and 1 cup of warm water to make it healthier before rinsing and adding to the recipe.


* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
* 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
* 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1 cup frozen corn kernels
* 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

This recipe is part of Kelly's SUYL side dishes!

Cara's Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

My friend Cara sent me this recipe and we all really enjoyed it! Mark said it is one of the "most authentic Mexican-tasting dishes" I've made :) That is probably because of the cilantro, which I haven't used very much before but definitely will now! We used mild salsa instead of green salsa and I actually fried the tacos instead of baking them because Mark likes 'em crispy ). We paired it with Cara's quinoa and black beans recipe and it was quite a hit! It will definitely be a staple on my meal plan now!

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup green salsa
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice from half a lime)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp sliced green onions
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Mexican flavored cheese
small flour or corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 425˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, lime juice, ground cumin, chili powder, onion powder and garlic. Once combined, stir in the cilantro and green onions. Add the chicken and cheese; mix thoroughly.

(If you decided to prep this in advance, refrigerate the mixture at this point until ready to continue.)

Working with a few tortillas at a time, heat them in the microwave between two paper towels until they are soft enough to roll (about 20 – 30 seconds).

Spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the lower third of a tortilla. Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can.

Place the rolled tortilla seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas until the mixture is gone. Make sure the taquitos are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

**To freeze: Before baking, chill the taquitos on the baking sheet in the fridge. Once completely cooled, wrap each taquito individually with plastic wrap. Place in a labeled freezer bag and freeze. To bake a frozen taquito (no need to thaw first): Preheat oven to 425˚F and bake for 20 minutes.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Experimenting with grain-free brownies!

One of my favorite bloggers, Donielle, posted THIS recipe for grain-free brownies several weeks ago. I've been trying to find the time to make them ever since. The idea of brownies made from beans (yes, I know it sounds absolutely horrible!) was such a novel idea that I had to try it. So yesterday, I did it! But I stink at following a recipe, so I had to liven it up a little: I made one batch with coconut flakes and another batch with peanut butter! I have to admit that I was absolutely in love with the pb ones and my husband liked the coconut ones the best. And my toddler went for whichever one she could manage to sneak off the counter at any given second :)

To me, these brownies were every bit as good as the box kind, just with a much smoother consistency. But the best part is that they were every bit as easy as the box mix! It really only took a minute to blend all the ingredients together :) Give yourself plenty of time to let them cool, though, because they are super gooey at first. I'd recommend refrigerating for a couple of hours before trying to cut them :)

So here is Donielle's recipe and my additions. Be sure to check out her website for more healthy recipes!

Healthy Grain Free Brownies

  • 2 cups black beans (or 1 can of no salt added)
  • 3 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or melted butter)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey (or other equivalent sweetener)
  • 1/2 cup chopped up bittersweet chocolate (or semi-sweet chips if you don’t mind the added refined sugar in them)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts -optional

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8×8 pan. Toss all but the final 2 ingredients (the chopped up chocolate and walnuts) into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Fold in the chopped chocolate and walnuts. Pour into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

For coconut brownies, just stir in about 1 cup of coconut flakes after processing.

For peanut butter or sunflower butter brownies, decrease the amount of oil to 1/4 cup and add 1 cup of peanut butter before processing.

This post is part of Kelly's SUYL desserts! Click on over for more yummy desserts!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Strawberry Cake

This cake is not the least bit healthy, but it is delicious! My husband started a tradition several years ago of making it for me for my birthday and this year he let my toddler help :)



  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (2-layer) box white cake mix
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 (3-oz.) box strawberry Jello
  • 1 (10-oz.) box frozen strawberries, thawed (reserve 3 tablespoons of the strawberries for frosting)

  • Frosting:
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
  • The 3 tbsp. reserved strawberries


Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch pan. In small bowl, beat together eggs, oil and water. In large mixer bowl, add flour to cake mix. Stir egg mixture, Jello, and strawberries into cake mix. Beat 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pan and frost. Frosting: Beat together frosting ingredients.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Super easy, healthy, baked pancake

Passionate Homemaking has given me yet another favorite recipe! I made this for breakfast this morning and everyone liked it! Mark said it reminded him somewhat of a funnel cake :) There is no sweetener in the actual recipe, so you can make as healthy or yummy as you want by topping it with confectioner's sugar and/or maple syrup :) For the girls and I, I just drowned it in coconut oil and a few drops of maple syrup and it was good. But if you want the funnel cake effect, you are going to want to add the confectioner's sugar :) I loved this recipe because it was so easy and took so little time to prepare!

*if you don't want to do the healthy soaking step, it would work fine to just substitute 1 cup of milk for the acid medium after beating the eggs.

1 cup acid medium – whole milk kefir, yogurt, etc
1 cup whole wheat flour, spelt or kamut (as desired)
4-5 large eggs (free range/pastured is our preference), as desired
1/3 cup coconut oil and butter (any combination)
dash of vanilla extract

Combine acid medium and whole wheat flour. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours. When you are ready to serve, heat oven to 425 degrees. Place oil/butter in small chunks in a 15×11 inch glass baking pan. Place pan in oven to melt. Meanwhile, beat eggs in a blender for 1 minute. Add soaked flour mixture and beat again for 1 minute. Add dash of vanilla extract. Pull out the baking pan from oven and rotate around to spread the melted butter/oil around to cover the entire bottom of pan. Slowly pour the pancake batter into the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly brown and fluffy.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

My family loves traditions, especially ones revolving around food :) For Easter, my mom always wants to have hot cross buns for us to enjoy. My girls love them because of the tiny currents inside the sweet bread. I decided I needed to have a good recipe so I can teach my girls to make hot cross buns every Good Friday. I choose this one from The Urban Home-maker because I usually enjoy her recipes and it is fairly healthy. I use honey instead of sugar and use my cream cheese icing instead of the confectioner's sugar icing. YUMMY!

2/3 cup dried currants
3-1/2 to 4 cups whole wheat flour (or half bread flour and half whole wheat
2 TB yeast
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/3 cup sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 slightly beaten egg white

Frosting (recipe follows)

Cover currants with very hot water. Let stand about 10 minutes or up to one hour at room temperature. Drain well. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 cups flour, yeast, and cinnamon. Heat milk, oil, sugar or honey, and salt until warm (115 to 120). Add to the dry mixture. Allow to sponge for about 15 minutes if time allows. Add eggs, one at a time. By hand or mixer, stir in currants and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead until the gluten is developed by mixer or on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6-10 minutes.

Shape into ball. Place in greased bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch down. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Divide into 18 pieces. Form smooth balls. Place on greased baking sheet 1-1/2 inches apart. Cover; let rise until double, 30 to 45 minutes. Cut shallow cross in each. Brush tops with egg white. Bake in preheated 375 oven 12 -15 minutes. Remove from baking sheet. Use confectioner's Frosting to make a "cross" on the bun.

Confectioner's Frosting:

2 TB milk
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine these ingredients together and add milk or water as needed to get a good pouring consistency for the frosting. Place the frosting in a small zip-lock sandwich baggie, clip the corner and use the baggie to squeeze the frosting over the cooled buns in a cross shape.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Tortilla Recipe!!

As I mentioned in my post about my cooking goals for the new year, I've been meaning to try out a healthy recipe for tortillas for quite some time. Well, today I finally did! If you are trying to find healthy recipes, then you really need to check out the Passionate Homemaking blog. Her recipes have worked for me almost every time and she is my "go-to" when I have a recipe need. (Plus, she named her daughter Karis, which I obviously love :)

Anyways, Her tortilla recipe is as good as the rest. It is completely healthy, fairly simple, and yummy. If my toddler hadn't been nosy about the tortilla press and smashed her finger in it, we would have had a completely successful cooking day :) And no, you don't have to have a tortilla press. I am just blessed to have a sweet SIL who lent me hers :)

I'm super pumped about this recipe -- now I can make breakfast burritoes, fried healthy chips for my hubby, and meals in a hurry. I doubled this recipe and next time I will probably triple it to make enough for a month.

So here is Lindsey's recipe:

3 cups whole wheat or kamut flour (I actually used spelt and it worked fine!)
1 cup warm filtered water
1 Tbsp acid medium (kefir, whey, buttermilk, yogurt, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice)
1/4 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt


  1. Combine flour, water, melted coconut oil or butter and 1 Tbsp of acid medium. Cover and soak at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  2. After soaking, add baking powder and salt to soaked flour mixture, kneading in the flour until the dough is workable but not too stiff.
  3. Shape into 8 – 10 balls and let stand 10 more minutes. (I found that I could cook more tortillas at a time if I made smaller tortillas, so I made about 11 per batch)
  4. Roll to form a 10 inch circle or use a tortilla press.
  5. Bake on a lightly greased griddle till done (not browned). Toast for about 20-30 sec. per side.

Yield: 8-10 tortillas.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Healthy Treat

I created these bar treats the other night when I wanted something sweet and filling, but healthy. They are very similar to my "Lara" bars, but I just used the ingredients I had on hand instead of following a recipe. I didn't measure a bit, but I will estimate for you :)

Chop in the food processor in this order:
1 cup dehydrated coconut flakes
1 cup soaked and dehydrated almonds, pecans, or a combo
1 bag of dates (probably about 10 dates)
2 heaping spoonfuls of coconut oil
a handful of Carob or chocolate chips if desired

Blend until it has a smooth consistency. Put wax paper down in a glass dish (I used an 8x8) and scoop mixture onto it. Press into pan, put in the fridge, and let chill for a good 15 minutes.

Cut into small bars and enjoy! Eat straight from the fridge because they melt in your hands :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tex-Mex Beefy Hashbrown Casserole

This is a recipe that my Mom made for my Dad recently and he just raved about it. So I thought I'd try it out for Mark. I 'll let you know how we like it :)

1 lb ground beef
1 red pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg taco seasoning mix (I'll just use my home-made Taco meat instead)
1/2 cup water (this is for mixing with the seasoning, so I'll skip it :)
4 cups cubed hashbrowns (I'll probably just grate some potatoes :)
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen corn -- make sure you get organic or it will be GMO!
8 oz Velveeta, cut into cubes (as much as I love Velveeta, I will not use it because it is FAKE cheese and so very bad for you! I'll just use cheddar :)

Heat oven to 350. Brown beef with pepper and onion. Drain; return to skillet. Stir in taco mix and water. Add potatoes, corn and water. Mix well. Put in a 9x 13 baking dish; cover. Bake 20 min. Stir. Bake uncovered another 15 minutes til heated through. This can also be done as a skillet meal.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Random Pecan Encrusted Chicken

The other day I was making a humongous batch of my family's favorite home-made cheesy chicken strips and I ran out of bread crumbs with about 6 strips left to make. What to do? I searched my pantry for a replacement, but since we have gotten rid of pretty much all processed food, there were no crackers or cereal to crumble up. But then I noticed my soaked and dehydrated pecans and got excited. I love to order pecan-encrusted chicken at restaurants so I decided to try it myself. Mark thought it was fine (although he is obsessed with the garlic-cheesiness of my other strips and prefers them). But the girls and I just couldn't get enough!

6 chicken strips
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup flour
pinch of sea salt
1 pumpkin muffin, crumbled (optional)
1 cup of crispy pecans, ground up
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbs butter or coconut oil, melted
maple syrup to drizzle over the top (optional, but highly recommended :)

Directions: Place the flour and cinnamon in one bowl. Place the egg in another bowl. Mix up the crushed pecans, crumbled muffin, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a 3rd bowl. Grease baking dish with butter or coconut oil. Dip chicken in all three bowls, coating well and then placing in baking dish. Drizzle with butter or CO and syrup. Bake at 350 for 30 min til juices run clear.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Chicken Parmesan -- new recipe review

A lot of people in our church bring their lunches and stay to eat and fellowship after the meeting. The last time we were able to join them, a friend brought a humongous plate of incredible chicken Parmesan. My husband was jealous (we had only brought leftover's from the previous night's dinner :) and immediately asked if I would make some very soon! So I looked at a bunch of recipes online and tried my own version. We all really enjoyed it, especially the girls. I was planning to serve leftovers the next night, but we didn't have any!

1 Tbs. butter, coconut oil, or olive oil
4 big chicken breasts
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs ( I just crumbled some day old bread that I had made)
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Italian seasoning mix
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Mozzarella cheese
Marinara Sauce
angel hair pasta or spaghetti squash

Directions: Melt olive oil, butter, or coconut oil in a sauce pan on med. heat. In a bowl, combine salt, pepper, and flour. Beat the 2 eggs in a different bowl. In a third bowl, combine Parmesan, bread crumbs, and Italian seasoning. Dip chicken in each bowl, coating thoroughly. Fry in a pan until a nice, crunchy coating has formed. Place chicken breasts in a buttered dish. Cover with marinara sauce and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Make-Ahead Meatballs -- new recipe review

This recipe caught my eye because it mentioned using cooked brown rice instead of bread crumbs or crackers as a filler. Although I ought to, I haven't started making my own bread crumbs and didn't want to buy a processed kind with mysterious ingredients :) I love Food Renegade's recipes because they contain "real" ingredients instead of processed food. These meatballs were very flavorful and everyone in my family enjoyed them. My 1-year old really surprised me: I gave her a piece of one right after they came out of the oven, and every few minutes she would toddle back over to me, signing, "please" because she wanted more. She ate a ridiculous amount of meatballs that day! I'll be using this recipe from now on!

  • 3 eggs from pastured hens
  • 1 small onion, chopped (or half a large one)
  • 1 1/3 C. bread crumbs (or cooked brown rice)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian herb blend
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 lbs. grass-fed ground beef

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the next six ingredients and mix well. Finally, add the beef and mix well. Shape the meatballs into one inch balls (should make approximate 100 meatballs). Place in single layers on ungreased 1-inch deep baking pans and bake at 400F for 10 minutes, until done.

Drain the fats and store for later use or (heaven forbid!) discard.

Once the meatballs and pans have cooled to the touch, place the meatballs (tray and all) into your freezer to “flash freeze” them. After they’ve frozen, remove the meatballs from the trays and transfer to plastic freezer storage bags or other freezer storage.

Keep stored in freezer and remove only as many meatballs as you need at a time. You can thank the flash freezing for that. It helps each meatball hold its individual shape and not stick to the other meatballs around it. This way, you can remove as few or as many meatballs as you need for whatever you’re serving up.

Reheat make ahead frozen meatballs on the stove, in sauces, or in the oven (350F for 20 minutes).


Friday, February 5, 2010

Salmon Pesto Pasta -- new recipe review

As you know, I've been trying to incorporate more seafood into my diet (even though I spent my first 26 years refusing it,ha, ha :) Salmon seems to be the only winner in my book so far. I liked this recipe because it was super easy and the strong pesto and parmesan flavor covered up most of the "fishy" flavor. My husband liked it just fine, so I will probably add it to my dinner list. I got it from (Note: we usually just slice up a salmon fillet instead of eating the canned kind :)


* 1 (8 ounce) package uncooked spaghetti
* 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 cup chopped sweet onions
* 3 green onions, finely chopped
* 2 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
* 2 (6 ounce) cans salmon, drained and flaked
* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions, green onions, and pesto. Cook until tender. Mix in salmon, and cook until heated through. Stir in 1/2 the Parmesan cheese, and continue cooking 5 minutes. Toss with the cooked pasta, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese to serve.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A New Favorite Bread Recipe! (and I'm getting a grain mill!!!!!)

Up until this week, I had not found a completely healthy, soaked, whole-grain bread recipe that I was completely satisfied with. All of my other soaked recipes just made a loaf of bread that was too dense. But thanks to Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking, I've found my recipe! love this bread! It is dangerous, though, because it makes me want to eat bread all the time. And now my husband has informed me that I must make it every week :) But that, my friends, is a huge compliment, because he is super picky about bread! AND I'm excited because he liked the bread so much that he told me to go ahead and order my grain mill! Yay! Oh, and I'm excited because I can cross off another one of my New Year's Resolutions already -- I made big, but flatter dinner rolls out of the dough and they work just fine for hamburger buns! So here is the recipe, but you should really check out her blog post for her tips on making the best bread!

Makes 4 loaves
I make this recipe once a month, and freeze them, and we are set!

4 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast (or 2 packages)
1 tsp honey (for activating yeast)
1 ½ Tbls. Salt
¾ cup coconut oil, butter or olive oil (melted)
1 cup honey
11-12 cups whole wheat flour or combination (I will occasionally throw in some kamut, barley, etc., but I mainly use hard white winter grain and/or hard red winter grain) – You can replace 1-2 cups with unbleached white flour for an even lighter texture, if desired.
2 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flax seeds, optional
1/3 cup raw millet, optional
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, optional
2-4 Tbsp dough enhancer (4 Tbsp works best for me!) – makes for some wonderfully light loaves of bread! I highly recommend this dough enhancer, as it works very well, but you can also replace with any combination of the following: 3 table­spoons vital wheat gluten, 1/2 tea­spoon soy lecithin, a pinch of citric acid (use spar­ingly!), and a sprin­kling of ginger

Combine yeast, 1 tsp of honey, and 1/2 cup of the total water required. Let sit for 5 minutes or so, until fully proofed. Combine the yeast mixture, remaining 4 cups of water, and all the rest of the ingredients in your mixer. Only add as much flour until it cleans the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the gluten is fully developed. Remove to a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let sit until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and divide into 4 loaves. Roll out with a rolling pin into a rectangle and roll up into a loaf (this makes the perfectly shaped loaves). Place in greased bread bans and rise again until doubled, about 30-45 minutes minutes (the best place is the oven! Just turn it on low 150-170 degrees till heated and then turn it off, prior to putting the loaves in). Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and bake for 30-45 minutes. Bread is done when it is fully browned on all sides! Remove from oven, rest in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Benefits of Soaking Your Grains

If you want to add the benefits of soaking the grains to this recipe, my soaking method is as follows:

Combine the following ingredients, cover and soak for 12-24 hours:

1 cup kefir, cultured buttermilk, or whey (for dairy intolerant you can substitute with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and 3/4 cup water)
3 cups of water
11 cups of ground flour (you can replace 1 or 2 cups with unbleached white flour for a lighter end result)
2 cups oats
1 cup honey
3/4 cup coconut oil, butter or olive oil, melted
1/4 cup raw millet, optional
1/4 cup flax seed, optional

After soaking, activate the yeast by combining:

1/2 cup water
1 tsp honey
2 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast

After activating the yeast, combine it with the soaked flour and add the remaining ingredients:

1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
2-4 Tbsp dough enhancer
1 cup unbleached white flour, if necessary (usually not necessary)
Sunflower seeds, if desired

Kneed for approximately 8-10 minutes. Continue with instructions as listed above.