Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Another day, another soup it seems. I just love the warm comfort of a bowl of soup. Broccoli Cheese Soup is one of my husbands favorites (besides Campells Creamy Parmesan Tomato Bisque, much to my chagrin.) I can't make Campbells from scratch, since I don't use the preservatives that are in a canned soup. Although, to his credit he did say he'd try my tomato soup again, if I could just make it smoother and less chunky. But I digress... I made this soup for him because he wasn't feeling well yesterday and with the drizzly rain outside of course it was just calling to be a soup day!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

4 pieces of bacon, cut into bits
1 small onion, diced
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
1 pint of heavy cream
4 cups of chicken stock (homemade is best!)
8 oz cheddar cheese, grated
2 head of broccoli, chopped into small bits. The stem works well in this recipe too!
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp thyme
pinch of hot pepper flakes
1/2 tsp turmeric (adds color, naturally)

In your favorite soup pot, brown the bacon. When bacon is almost crispy add onions. Saute until onions are translucent. Add butter and melt. Add seasonings: salt, pepper, tumeric, thyme & hot pepper flakes. Sprinkle flour across bacon, onions & butter; stirring quickly to wet it with the butter. Stir the flour for a few minutes to let it cook for a bit. Pour in heavy cream and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Melt in grated cheese. Add broccoli and let simmer until broccoli is tender.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Almond Flour Crust Pizza

I guess I've switched from soups to pizza today, since this is my second pizza recipe in a row. I found this Almond Flour Crust Pizza a few days ago and knew I wanted to try it. It passed the test! Everyone in the family ate it up. Be warned though, the pizzas may be small, but they are filling. I got the recipe from ComyBelly and it's a good one.

I made my own Almond Flour by first making "Crispy Almonds." You make crispy nuts by soaking your nut of choice in water and salt for 24 hours to break down the phytic acid, which isn't good for you. Then either on the lowest setting of your oven, or a dehydrator, dry the nuts out for 12 hours until crispy and tasty. They actually taste much better this way! To make almond flour, just process a few almonds at a time in a food processor and sift the "flour" away from the bigger pieces. Don't over process or you will make a nut butter.

Almond Flour Crust
(from ComfyBelly)

1 1/2 cups of almond flour
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese (or another hard cheese, grate finely)
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of basil
favorite pizza toppings (cheese, sausage, mushrooms, bell pepper, ect.)

Mix almond flour, parmesan, salt, oregano, garlic powder and basil in a medium size bowl. In a small bowl beat two eggs with olive oil. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together. Using a 3 tbsp scoop, place six scoops of the dough on either a sil-pat or parchment paper that is on a large cookie sheet. Put a bit of olive oil on your finger tips and flatten dough out into a circle. It won't spread when you cook it so you only need to leave a small space between each crust. Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and bake until cheese is bubbly.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Butternut Squash Pizza

I was reading my favorite cooking/nutrition blogs a few days ago, and came across this idea for a recipe. I wish I could give credit, because these are REALLY good. I did add caramelized onions and tomato sauce to the recipe, but the idea to use the squash this way wasn't mine. Anyway, this is a must try recipe, it is really terrific!

Butternut Squash Pizza

1 butternut squash with the longest neck possible
1 lb of bulk sweet Italian sausage (no nitrates added, no high-fructose corn syrup)
1 block of feta cheese
1 large onion
olive oil, salt and pepper
favorite tomato sauce

Pre-heat oven to 375. Peel butternut squash and cut into 1/2" disks, be careful to make them the same thickness so they cook evenly. Rub each disk with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20-25 minutes until you can easily pierce with a fork. Meanwhile, brown sausage in a skillet. Slice onion into very thin slices and saute them in a little olive oil (or bacon grease) while the sausage is a different skillet. Cook the onions on medium  heat for 20-30 minutes.

Remove butternut squash from the oven and switch the oven to broil. Assemble the pizzas by placing a bit of sausage on each disk, top it with a bit of onion and then the feta cheese. Place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes until feta starts to brown. Serve on top of some tomato sauce. It'd be great with some fresh basil on top, but I'm not sure if butternut squash and basil are ever in the same season? Anyway, this was a huge hit for our family and I think I'll hide the leftovers!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Coconut Curry Beef and Pork Stew

With the dip in temperature (finally!) stew seemed just the thing for today's menu. While I was at Sprouts, my local health food store, I picked up some pork and beef stew meat this morning. I threw this stew together in perhaps 15-20 minutes this morning and let it simmer all day long on the stove. The house smelled great!

Coconut Curry Beef and Pork Stew

1 lb beef stew meat
1 lb pork stew meat
3-4 tbsp coconut oil
1-2 potatoes
2-3 carrots
2-3 celery stalks
3 gloves garlic
1/3 cup flour (I used whole wheat, as it is what I have in my pantry)
2-3 tbsp curry powder
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup red wine
2-3 cups of broth (chicken or beef, I used 2 cups chicken and 1 cup of water)
salt to taste

Mix flour, some salt and curry in a shallow dish. Dredge meat in flour and shake off excess. In a large stock pot, melt coconut oil. Place meat in and brown for a few minutes, turning as needed. Remove meat to a bowl. Add, chopped carrots, celery and potatoes to the stock pot. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring the vegetables to bring up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add garlic and deglaze the pot with red wine. Add meat back in, and broth. Add coconut milk and stir. Simmer on low for as long as possible, at least 3 hours until meat is fall apart tender.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birthday Party Playdate Meal (Chicken Satay)

I hosted a birthday party today for my twins third birthday party. We had 11 kids and 6 adults. I wanted to plan a menu that would be healthy, the kids would like and the moms would like. I decided Chicken Satay, Sugar Snap Peas, Buttered Whole Wheat Noodles and Fruit Skewers. Cupcakes for dessert. I think it was a pretty good success, all the Moms liked the food and most of the kids did too. Chicken Satay is normally grilled and served on skewers, but for this crowd I did them under the broiler. I figured kids and moms alike would love the peanut sauce poured on top!

Chicken Satay
(for 4-6 servings)

Chicken Marinade:
1/2 cup of yogurt or coconut milk or combo of both
1 tbsp curry powder
2 cloves garlic, grated (I had to leave this out, since one of my guests is very allergic to garlic)
salt and pepper
4-6 chicken breasts cut into thin strips

Peanut Sauce:
1 cup all natural peanut butter, smooth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp sambal (for spicy sauce)
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
hot water to thin

In a large bowl, mix chicken strips, yogurt, curry powder, garlic and salt and pepper. Cover, refrigerate and marinade for two hours. Set broiler to high. Place a wire rack over a cookie sheet. Lay strips of chicken on wrack and broil for 6-8 minutes until cooked through.

To make peanut sauce, mix ingredients in a blender or food processor, streaming in hot water to thin it out as desired.

Buttered Noodles
Cook a package of whole wheat noodles. Drain. Cube up half a stick of butter and toss. I like to add chopped parsley for vitamin C and color, but left it simple today.

Sugar Snap Peas
Saute in a bit of butter, salt and pepper.

Fruit Skewers
I used coffee stirrers instead of wood or metal skewers to make them toddler safe. Slide 4 or 5 pieces of favorite fruit on each skewer and serve.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Accident Cupcakes- aka, Wow! These are Awesome Chocolate Cupcakes

I baked cupcakes tonight! I don't bake, I cook and cooks don't follow recipes. At least this cook doesn't, even when I really, really, really try. I made sure I had all the ingredients, times two. I made the decision to do the recipe twice so I wouldn't mess up trying to double it (that is a major mistake I commit time and time again.) But yes, somehow I still messed up. This time though, it resulted in very rich, moist super delicious chocolate cupcakes. And since I misused my chocolate chips and didn't have any for the icing, I went with a plain white icing which actually was okay, because these things are so decadent that chocolate icing would have been overkill. To see the original recipe please visit Pink Parsley. I know that my twin girls are going to love them for their three year old birthday party tomorrow!

Happy Accident Chocolate Cupcakes

Ganache Filling

2 ounces dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream

Chocolate Cupcakes

6 oz dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) ap flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Creamy Frosting

1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
pinch table salt
12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into Tablespoon pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the ganache filling, place chocolate and cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high power until mixture is warm to the touch, 20-30 seconds.  Whisk until smooth, and transfer to the refrigerator.  Let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

For the cupcakes, Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Place chocolate and heavy cream in a microwave bowl, melt on high for about 45 seconds.  Whisk until smooth, and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth.  Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full.  Place one slightly rounded teaspoon of the ganache filling on top of each cupcake.

Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes.  Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Set over a small saucepan of simmering water, and whisking constantly, cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 2-4 minutes.

Fit bowl to stand mixer, and with the whisk attachment, beat at medium speed, until mixture is the consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1-3 minutes.  Add butter 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy.  The frosting may look curdled halfway through, but it will smooth out eventually. 

Once all the butter as been added, pour in the vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  Increase speed to medium-high and until light and fluffy, another 30 seconds to a minute.

Frost cupcakes as desired.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Journey to Real Food

Welcome to any new readers! This is my first time to participate in a Food Renegade Fight Back Friday post. The Frickin Chicken is a blog I started almost two years ago, mostly for myself as a place to keep recipes. At that time I was on Weight Watchers and I was eating what I thought were "healthy" foods. The leaner the meat, the lower the fat the better, or so I thought back then. Over the past year, I've been following the Real Food Movement and I've jumped on board! I'm excited to learn all the new things I can about where food comes from and nutrition.

The post I'd like to share with you for Fight Back Friday is actually and article I wrote for the Dallas Morning News Moms Blog about my Journey to Real Food. I'd love everyone to read it and if you like it, please leave a comment (either here or there) and "recommend" the page. You can find the link here:

And for my usual readers of The Frickin Chicken, The Food Renegade is a wealth of information about Real Food. I first found the blog when researching the dangers of soy and I've been a follower ever since. Please take a moment to look through her website:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chicken Ballotine

(Steamed Broccoli, Plain Whole Milk Yogurt with drizzle of honey and a strawberry, Chicken Ham Ballotine.)

So, tonight I wanted to make a quick and easy dinner without much mess. I used leftover soup from lunch to make the "sauce" for dinner tonight. Overall it impressed the hubby and kids.

Chicken Ballotine

2 large chicken breasts
2 slices of deli ham (Nitrate free if possible)
4 sun dried tomatoes
1 oz feta
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

Pound out chicken with a mallet into 1/4 thick scaloppine. Placing a piece of plastic wrap over the chicken can make it easier. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Slice sun dried tomatoes into slivers. and lay across chicken. Place one piece of ham over each chicken breast. Crumble feta down the center of each chicken as well. (Black olives would also be good in this recipe!) Roll up chicken lengthwise to make the skinniest roll you can. Skewer with a couple of toothpicks to secure.

Preheat oven to 350. Preheat an oven safe skillet and add olive oil. Place chicken in the skillet. It should sizzle really loudly. Do not bump or move it for a couple of minutes. When it releases from the pan with a gentle nudge, rotate it. Brown all the sides. When you put it on the last side, put the skillet in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how thick your chicken roll is. Let rest before slicing into circles. Serve with a tomato sauce. I used some leftover tomato parmesan soup.

Tomato Parmesan Soup

I think I could live off soup. I love how I can make a big pot of it and it lasts for a couple of meals. It's always easy to reheat, filling and warms my tummy. I once heard some philosophy that people are either "cold" food eaters or "hot" food eaters. I'm a hot food eater. I love a piping hot plate of food over a cold salad or sandwich any day. But it isn't always easy to make a hot plate lunch with a busy schedule. I think that is where soup comes in for me. Once I started making soups from scratch years ago, I could never go back to canned soup. Now that I know canned soup (and canned/boxed broths) are loaded with preservatives and MSG, my homemade soups are that more delicious! Now if only I could find a source of tomatoes that doesn't use BPA lined cans. I'm still working on that one! I do use fresh tomatoes quite often, but I am still relying on canned tomatoes frequently, it's one of the last canned items in my pantry. This tomato soup I cooked up in about 15 minutes.

Tomato Parmesan Soup

2 tbsp bacon grease
1/4 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp chili flakes
sea salt and fresh pepper
1/4 cup loosely packed freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 handful of toasted pinenuts per bowl
1 dollop of butter per bowl

Place bacon grease, onion and garlic in a small pot. Cook on medium high until the onion is translucent. Add spices (basil, oregano, chili-flakes.) Adding the spices at this time gives them a chance to cook a bit in the bacon grease. Add can of tomatoes and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. With a stick blender, blend the soup into a creamy consistency. Alternately you could use a regular blender. Add cheese and heavy cream. Remove from heat and stir. Serve with toasted pine nuts and a dollop of butter. Makes 3-4 servings.

Oh, I just had a wonderful thought.... I wonder if I took the idea of the roasted garlic from THIS soup recipe and incorporated it into this tomato soup recipe if I'd have an incredible soup? I'll have to play around with it and let you know!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Steak Marinade and Duck Fat French Fries

 It's almost a sin to eat steak on a paper plate, but my dishwasher is on the fritz and I'm just too spoiled to wash all my dishes by hand.
I had the girls plate their own food. Maddie very carefully lined up her grapes. She piled the french fries on top of the steak as if to hide it. Too bad when she finished her fries I saw all that steak sitting there. And they've eaten steak lots of times before but right now they are in a very picky stage of life. My mom bought me the duck fat for my birthday and I was excited to use it for the first time!

Steak Marinade 
(for one lonely steak)

1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp honey
a clove grated garlic
1 tsp basil
salt & pepper
a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes

Mix all ingredients in a shallow dish with edges. Marinade steak for at least 4 hours, flipping occasionally. Grill or broil.

Duck Fat French Fries

2 small potatoes
sea salt
duck fat

Cut potatoes into french fry shape. I used a mandolin.  Place in a bowl and toss with 2 tbsp of duck fat. Sprinkle with sea salt. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until crispy and golden.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sugar Plums

I saw these sugar plums on Nourished Kitchen's blog a couple of days ago and knew I had to try them for my girls. They are basically dried fruit and nuts, both foods my girls love, how could they be bad? It was fun to read about the history of Sugar Plums on her blog too, so go check it out! She said you could roll them in powdered sugar, but they were so incredibly sweet from the dried fruit that didn't need any extra sugar! I used Crispy Nuts* instead of her freshly soaked nuts so I needed to add in a bit of water. I think a splash of rum would be a great grown-up version!

*Crispy Nuts- a recipe by Sally Fallon. Soaking your nuts in salt water gets rid of the phytic acid in the nuts, an anti-nutrient that is very hard to digest and isn't good for your body. Use about 1 tsp of salt per cup of nuts. Cover the nuts with filtered water and stir in salt. Let them soak for 24 hours. Drain, and spread out on a cookie sheet and bake at 150 (or as low as your oven goes) for 12 hours. Or use a dehydrator until they are completely dry and crispy.

Sugar Plums

1 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 corriander
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup apricots
1/2 cup pitted prunes

Soak nuts over night with salt. Or if you are using crispy nuts like I did, use 1/8-1/4 cup of water to help moisten the mixture. Then toss all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix. Then process for a couple of minutes until a paste forms. Using a 1 tbsp scooper, scoop out and form little balls using your hands. These are actually very sweet!

Cream of Roasted Garlic Soup

I'll be the first to admit that this soup needs a bit of help in the appearance department. The color didn't come out that pretty and I accidentally let my eggs curdle in it, which didn't help the situation. Otherwise the soup tasted awesome. Seriously awesome. I ended up using 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour to thicken the soup, I need to find a better way to thicken. Either more cauliflower to add more bulk or perhaps more egg yolks. I, personally do not like plain "cream of" soups, I like to have "chunks" in my soup, so I added some sauted mushrooms, bacon and diced chicken to give the soup bite.

Cream of Roasted Garlic Soup

4 strips of bacon
8-10 button mushrooms
2 tbsp oil (I used coconut oil, but butter or olive oil would be fine.)
2 HEADS of garlic. Not cloves, but the entire head of garlic. You want a about a cup-cup and half of whole, peeled garlic cloves
1/2 an onion
2 stalks of celery
Enough oil (I used ghee & olive oil) to halfway cover the garlic
1.5 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp chili flakes
32 oz chicken stock (I used homemade)
16 oz water
1 package of frozen cauliflower, you can use fresh too. Make sure the frozen package lists only cauliflower as an ingredient.
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup of flour
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 chicken breast previously cooked, and diced

Peel garlic and set aside. This took me about 15 minutes to do. Cut the bacon stips into pieces and saute in a soup pot until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon and put it in a small bowl leaving all of the bacon grease in the pot. Add chopped mushrooms. Saute until cooked through. I had to add 2 tbsp of coconut oil (or butter/ghee/olive oil) when the mushrooms got dry and started to stick. Add mushrooms to the bowl of bacon.

Place all the garlic, chopped onion and celery in the pot. Add enough oil to about halfway cover the garlic. Simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes stirring frequently. You cannot rush this step. This is the pan roasting of the garlic. If you go to high of heat, the garlic will burn. You almost can't go too slow. When the garlic starts to turn a golden brown it is okay to continue, but the longer and slower you cook the more sweet and developed the flavor will be. Add the thyme, salt, pepper and chili flakes.

Add chicken stock, water and cauliflower to the pot and bring to a boil. When cauliflower has softened use a stick blender to puree the soup. If you don't have a stick blender you can use a regular blender being careful of the heat. In a medium bowl beat egg yolks. Add a bit of the soup to temper the eggs. Keep adding a little soup at a time until eggs are as hot as the soup. Pour the egg and soup mixture back into the pot. Put 1/4 cup of wheat flour in the now empty egg bowl. Add some soup to it and whisk until there is no lumps. Add the flour mixture back into the soup. Bring to a rolling boil.

Remove from heat, stir in heavy cream, chicken, mushrooms and bacon. Serve!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie Stew

I forgot to take a picture of this before I ate it, so this is a picture of the leftovers! This soup is so warm and cozy. The broth is drinkable, rich and delicious. What gave me the idea for this soup was a chicken pot pie. I'm eating low carb right now so I didn't want to make a real chicken pot pie, but I was wanting those flavors. As I was making the "pot pie insides" I spontaneously decided to make it a soup, by adding a lot more liquid. I'm so glad I did, this was terrific! I used a lot of seasonings, but use any combination of the ones I list according to your preferences. I was going to add fresh parsley at the end, but I forgot to add it! I'll add some in for the leftovers, parsley is full of great vitamins!

Chicken Pot Pie Stew

2 chicken breasts, previously cooked
4 tbsp butter or ghee, split
1.5 cups of chopped mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups chicken stock (I use homemade)
salt, pepper
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
pinch of tarragon (this is a strong spice)
pinch of dill

In a large soup pot, melt two tablespoons of ghee or butter. Add diced carrot, onion and celery. Cook on a low heat until carrots begin to get soft. Add in garlic and mushrooms. Continue to cook on med-low until mushrooms are cooked through. Add all the spices. Add two more tablespoons of butter or ghee and stir until melted. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir until the flour is wet from the butter and coats the vegetables. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the heavy cream. Right before serving, add the chicken and peas, cooking long enough to defrost the peas. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bacon and Spinach Quiche

I attended a brunch playdate with some of my fellow moms of multiples yesterday and I brought this Bacon and Spinach Quiche for everyone to try. I almost forgot to snap a photo, but made everyone stop for a quick shot!

Bacon and Spinach Quiche

1 lb of bacon (nitrate free!)
1 bag of loosely frozen spinach (I find this is better than the frozen box spinach because you don't have to thaw and squeeze all the liquid out.) Fresh spinach would work perfectly fine too!
1.5 cups of heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of cheese (swiss or cheddar)
6 eggs from free range chickens
1 crust*

Roll crust out and place it in a pie dish. Stick it back in the refridgerator to stay cold. Cook bacon using your favorite method. I found that if you have the Pampered Chef Bar Stoneware, it cooks bacon great in the oven and you don't have to turn it. Just lay the bacon out on the stoneware and bake at 400 for 25 minutes for crispy bacon. Let bacon cool. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and heavy cream. Add salt and pepper. Grate your cheese and have it ready. Remove pie shell from refridgerator and layer bacon, spinach, cheese, and then again with another layer of bacon, spinach and cheese. If you have the loose spinach, you can place it frozen in the dish. Pour egg mixture over the layers and shake to make sure it gets evenly distributed. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

8 tbsp butter
1 cup flour (I used white wheat)
1 tsp salt
4 ice cold tbsp of water

Place butter in freezer for 15 minutes. Put flour in food processor and add salt. Pulse to mix. Remove butter and cube it into small pieces. Add to food processor and pulse 6-8 times until the butter is pea sized in the flour. Add 1 tbsp of ice cold water at a time pulse until dough starts ball up and pull away from sides of processor. Pour dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Refrigerate 1 hour before rolling it out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pecan Pie Sans Corn Syrup

Living in Turkey there are certain things that are hard (or simply not available) to purchase.  Corn syrup is one of those things.   I was actually pleased to make a pie without the corn syrup since it is really not healthy anyway.  The recipe still has sugar in it, but at least it is not corn syrup.  I had a little trouble finding a recipe with out corn syrup, but I figured they would exist since pecan pie was made before development of corn syrup.   The pie turned out beautifully, rich and gooey without that sickly sweet taste you find normally.   I found this recipe online at Allrecipes.  I doubled the recipe and just used one pie shell since I found it made a shallow pie.

Pecan Pie Sans Corn Syrup 
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy, and stir in melted butter. Add the brown sugar, white sugar and the flour--mix well. Then add the milk, vanilla and nuts.
Pour into an unbaked 9-in pie shell. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until done.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homemade Cold Breakfast Cereal

About a month ago or so, I read that boxed cereal isn't very good for your body. Once I read the article (and read the same info in some other places too.) I couldn't un-read it and pretend it wasn't true. I didn't want it to be true because I LOVE cereal. I grew up on bowls and bowls of cereal. My thinking is that it isn't so bad for you that you'll keel over and die immediately, because lets face it, most of us grew up eating lots of cereal and we are still here. But it's one of those things that when you find out something isn't good for your body and actually causes harm over the long haul it is best to eliminate it or at least reduce it in your diet.

John has the argument that convenience foods are just that, convenient. He says living with modern food and getting to enjoy other modern facets of life is worth some of the chemicals and such in processed foods. That is a very valid point. I believe that if you eat healthy, nutrient dense, non-chemical foods that you will have a better quality life. I've heard some people use an 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of the time eat nutrient dense foods and then 20 percent rely on convenience, restaurants or sweets. I think that is a good balance for my life. I also  really enjoy cooking from scratch and learning about healthy, nutritious foods. Some people say that science has given us ways to make food cheap and easy, but science has also given us a better understanding of why some of the foods and methods our great-great-great grandparents used worked the way they did. Our grandparents learned by trial and error passing down recipes and methods over the years. We now know why mixing whey in with your cucumbers makes a tasty pickle that is full of healthy probiotics. Our great-greats just knew that it'd make their cucumbers last through the winter!

I'm a bit off topic here. Back to the cereal. Basically to create cereal, manufactures super-heat the grains (wheat, corn, rice, etc.) and extrude them through machines. This super high heat makes the oils in the protein of the grains rancid. Anything rancid is VERY bad for you. Rancid foods create free-radicals in your body. Free radicals cause disease. So any chance you get to eliminate free-radicals in your body the better! That's why when I read that store bought cereal creates these free-radicals in your body, I decided I didn't want to eat it anymore. This was hard, and I actually bought a few boxes before I decided to find other things to eat instead. Then my mom came across a video on The Healthy Home Economists blog on how to make cereal from scratch. She grinds her own flour, which I will probably start doing at some point, but for now I just used store bought whole wheat flour. I also used my brand new excalibur dehydrator for the drying process. The end result tastes a lot like a Raisin Bran, if you add raisins to the dry cereal. (I'm not actually eating this cereal because I'm on a low-carb diet right now, but I made it for my girls to enjoy!)

Izzie and Maddie eating their homemade cereal with raisins and raw milk.

Cold Breakfast Cereal
(please visit The Healthy Home Economists Blog for a wonderful video tutorial.)

6 cups freshly ground flour
3 cups plain yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, or clabbered milk (use 3 cups water plus 2 TBL lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for dairy allergies)

Mix fresh flour and soaking medium of choice in a large, glass bowl.    Cover with a clean cloth and rubber band and leave on the counter for 24 hours.

After soaking is complete mix the following into the batter:

3/4 cup coconut or palm oil
1 cup Grade B maple syrup or honey (1/2 cup sweetener plus 5 drops stevia may be substituted)
1 Tsp sea salt
2 Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tsp maple flavoring - I used almond extract because I didn't have maple flavoring.
1 TBL ground cinnamon

Mix these ingredients well into the soaked batter.   Pour into 2 – 9X13 pans and bake at 350F for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.   Do not overbake.
Let cool and crumble the coffee cake into small pieces and dehydrate on cookie sheets at 200F for about 12-18 hours. Turn cereal pieces every few hours to dry evenly. (I used a food dehydrator, set on 150 degrees overnight.)

Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chicken (not) Divan

Yesterday I was browsing the internet for inspiration on "what's for dinner" question that pops up every day. I decided I wanted to attack the week with a PLAN. We'll see how that goes, but I did go to the grocery store with a LIST! and a MENU. For those that know me, they know this never happens. It's amazing I put dinner together at all, really. I'm constantly just throwing things together from the top of my head and from whatever ingredients are in the pantry/fridge. I came across a recipe called Chicken Divan. I am sure I've had this somewhere sometime, but I don't think I've ever made it. It sounded good and like it could be easily adapted to REAL food (the recipe called for canned mushroom soup) and I figured I could do nuts on top instead of breadcrumbs. I even got ambitious enough to double the recipe to make two casseroles so I'd have dinner ready another time. In all my enthusiasm, I forgot half of the seasonings that were listed in the recipe. From my general search on Chicken Divan, a common theme is that they all  have curry powder. Mine doesn't have anything but salt and pepper since I totally forgot to add the other spices, but when you use real ingredients that have so much flavor on their own, it still came out a tasty dish. I think the curry would have been great, but perhaps next time! My girls both really liked this dinner.

My Chicken (not) Divan
(makes 2 casseroles)

6 poached chicken breasts, chopped*
1 recipe of mushroom sauce**
1 cup homemade mayonnaise
14 oz grated cheddar cheese
4 heads of steamed broccoli
1 cup chopped nuts for topping

In a very large bowl, mix the chicken, mushroom sauce, mayo, most of the cheese and the steamed broccoli. Pour it into two casserole dishes. Top with the rest of the cheese and nuts. Bake at 350 until bubbly and cheese is melted.

*You can use any kind of cooked chicken, baked, sauted, etc. I poach my chicken by placing breasts in a pot, cover with water. Add salt, bay leaf, all spice and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Do NOT boil or the chicken will be tough. The water can then be used as a chicken broth (stock uses bones, but this is a nice delicate broth.)

**Mushroom Sauce:
a lot of mushrooms- 5 cups or so
1/2 large onion finely diced
1 pint of heavy cream preferably not pasteurized, but I haven't been able to get any of that yet.
1/4 cup flour - I used whole wheat
3 tbsp butter

To make the mushroom sauce, chop onion very small and place it in a large skillet with melted butter. Chop mushrooms as small as you like. Since I was again, mimicking the canned sauce, I chopped them fine since the canned stuff almost doesn't even hint at mushroom.... strange, right? Add the mushrooms to the softened, translucent onions and cook until they have cooked down quite a bit. Add more butter if the skillet is dry. Sprinkle flour across mushrooms and stir until there is no dry flour left. Pour in cream and bring to a boil to thicken.

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

I think canned cream of mushroom soup is an ingredient in almost every single American casserole, isn't it? I finally started making it from scratch. It takes a bit more effort, so casseroles aren't as easy to throw together, but the taste is out of this world delicious. Make sure you use organic cream, preferably not pasteurized. I hope to make it out to Urban Acres soon where my friend, Nicole, told me I can get low-pasteurized cream. I'm wondering if this sauce would freeze. Well, haha... ice cream obviously freezes... thoughts on if this mushroom sauce would freeze?

Mushroom Sauce:
a lot of mushrooms- 5 cups or so
1/2 large onion finely diced
1 pint of heavy cream preferably not pasteurized, but I haven't been able to get any of that yet.
1/4 cup flour - I used whole wheat
3 tbsp butter

To make the mushroom sauce, chop onion very small and place it in a large skillet with melted butter. Chop mushrooms as small as you like. Since I was again, mimicking the canned sauce, I chopped them fine since the canned stuff almost doesn't even hint at mushroom.... strange, right? Add the mushrooms to the softened, translucent onions and cook until they have cooked down quite a bit. Add more butter if the skillet is dry. Sprinkle flour across mushrooms and stir until there is no dry flour left. Pour in cream and bring to a boil to thicken.

Friday, November 26, 2010

From Scratch - Traditional Green Bean Casserole

I was asked to bring the green bean casserole to Thanksgiving Dinner this year, which I was more than happy to do since I love, love, love it. The only thing is, I'm no longer cooking from cans for the most part. There was a moment when I thought to myself that I could make an exception since Thanksgiving is all about traditional dishes and the traditional way to make green bean casserole as far as my memory goes is with the cans. Two cans of green beans, 2 cans of mushroom soup, 1 cup of milk and a can of Frenches Onions. But then I thought about it, and wondered if perhaps the dish could be made with real ingredients and still taste like my memories of the dish. I found a recipe on Kelley the Kitchen Kop's blog that I mostly used, putting my own spin on a bit of it.The biggest problem is I didn't really measure anything so this is more of a method than a recipe. Sorry about that! And this was a HUGE hit at Thanksgiving, I guess it lived up to expectations because there was none to take home!

From Scratch- Green Bean Casserole

Green Beans:
A bunch of green beans- about 7 cups
left over bacon grease
garlic clove
1 bay leaf
sea salt

Mushroom Sauce:
a lot of mushrooms- 5 cups or so
1/2 large onion finely diced
1 container of heavy cream preferably not pasteurized, but I haven't been able to get any of that yet.
1/4 cup flour - I used whole wheat
3 tbsp butter

Crunchy Onion Topping:
2 onions - I used a sweet yellow onion
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
Cajun seasoning
3 tbsp butter + more if needed

Cut the tips off your greenbeans and then cut them in halves or thirds. Put them in a large skillet and cover with water. Add plenty of sea salt, pepper, bay leaf, smashed garlic clove and bacon grease. Bring to a boil, reduce, cover and let simmer for 45 minutes taste and re-season as necessary. WHAT! Yes, you heard me. I'm not making a "Fresh" greenbean dish here... I'm mimicking greenbeans from a can and greenbeans from a can are much softer than beans that have been blanched for 5 minutes. No, they aren't vivid and pretty green but they are GOOD! Plus, this is how my Mema makes greenbeans and she's been doing it that way for years. Drain the greenbeans and set them aside.

To make the mushroom sauce, chop onion very small and place it in a large skillet with melted butter. Chop mushrooms as small as you like. Since I was again, mimicking the canned sauce, I chopped them fine since the canned stuff almost doesn't even hint at mushroom.... strange, right? Add the mushrooms to the softened, translucent onions and cook until they have cooked down quite a bit. Add more butter if the skillet is dry. Sprinkle flour across mushrooms and stir until there is no dry flour left. Pour in cream and bring to a boil to thicken.

Butter a baking dish, I used an oval one so I'm not sure what size. Pour the cooked green beans in it and top with the sauce. Stir them together. You could also mix them in the skillet and then pour in the baking dish, whatever is easiest. Set aside. Be sure to scrape the skillet and lick the spoon.... oh yeah, it's that good.

To make the topping, pre-heat oven to 475. Slice 2 onions (they cook down A LOT) into thin slices and place in a ziplock bag. Add arrowroot and seasoning. Toss until coated very well. Add melted butter and mix again. On a large cookie sheet that has been greased, lay out onions in a very thin layer. Use two sheets if needed. (I should have used two!) Place in the hot oven and stir every 8 or so minutes for about 30 minutes until they start to crisp up and turn brown. Top casserole and serve. If you are doing it the night before, do not top the onions or they will get soggy. If you can save the onions to the next day, do that. If not, store them in a bag with a paper towel and recrisp them in the oven for a little bit before topping the casserole. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bacon Wrapped Salmon Cakes

I came across this recipe about a week ago and I knew I had to make it as an appetizer for Thanksgiving. It was a huge hit! I was worried I made too many and I wasn't sure how they'd taste as leftovers. I didn't have to worry about that, since there was none to bring home! I found the recipe at Food Renegade's website. I stuck to the recipe for the most part with a few minor changes, the biggest being that I used canned wild caught salmon instead of fresh. Please check out Food Renegade's version, but here is what I did (I also doubled her recipe):

2 14 oz cans of wild-caught Alaskan salmon
pat of real butter
2 tbsp finely diced onion
2 garlic clove, finely diced
1 1/3 c. pine nuts
2 tbsp homemade mayo
2 tsp Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp old creole seasoning
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1 egg white
bunch fresh asparagus
nitrate free bacon - I used about 1.5 packages

Pulse pine nuts in a food processor just until right before they almost turn into a nut butter. In a large bowl mix the can salmon and pine nuts. In a small skillet, melt butter and saute onions and garlic until they are soft and translucent. Add them to the salmon. Add mayo, parmesan, mustard, seasoning, parsley and one egg white. Mix well and refrigerate for an hour or overnight. Do not add salt, as the bacon and parmesan will add PLENTY of salt to the dish (this is coming from someone who loves salt.)

Cut the tips of your asparagus off at about 2 inches. Then cut about two more inches of the tender part of the apsaragus off. Save the rest of the asparagus for a soup or other dish later in the week. Cut each bacon strip in half. Place 2-3 asparagus pieces in the middle of the bacon. Using a 2 tbsp scoop, scoop out salmon mixture and place on asparagus. Wrap the bacon tightly. You could pin with a toothpick but I didn't have any so I just laid them seam side down on a rack. Place the rack over a cookie sheet. I found that baking them at 325 for 40 minutes was about right. The original recipe said 375 for 20, but my bacon was burning on the edges and raw in the middle. I found slower for longer did the trick with my bacon/oven combo.

I made some homemade tartar sauce to go along with them. I mixed homemade mayo with homemade pickle relish, anchovy paste, tarragon, salt, pepper and lemon juice. I have no idea if this is "authentic" tartar sauce but it was tasty!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Homemade Mayonnaise

I finally had a batch of homemade mayonnaise that came out delicious! I was using extra virgin olive oil to make it which made the final product way too strong for my tastes. So tonight I made it with a mixture of safflower oil and coconut oil and it came out great. I started making my own mayo because most store bought mayonnaise (along with most bottled sauces) contain soy oils. Just spend a moment googling "dangers of soy" to see what people are finding out about soy, something alot of Americans think of as a health food. In truth, only fermented soy products (like traditional fermented soy sauce and natto a fermented soy bean) are healthy and good for you. Almost all of America eats a GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) Soy that is a far cry from traditional Asian fare. So, go ahead and eliminate soy products from your diet. Homemade mayonnaise is so tasty you won't miss the store bought at all!

Homemade Mayo

1 egg - from a pasture raised, cage free chicken
1 egg yolk - from a pasture raised, cage free chicken
2 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp mustard (I used a dijon today)
1- 1.5 cups of oil in any combination. Untoasted Sesame Oil, olive oil and coconut oil are good to start with
salt to taste

Make sure your food processor has a place where you can drip in an oil. Otherwise you can do this by hand in a bowl with either a whisk or a hand mixer. In your food processor put the egg and the egg yolk. Process a few times until the egg becomes blended. Add the mustard and process a few more times. Slowly add the lemon juice and salt. Then while the processor is running very, very slowly start pouring in your oil. Keep going until you notice the mayo will suddenly lighten up in color and get thicker (if you are using olive oil, it may not lighten too much and may even have a greenish tint, this is okay.) When you can make peaks out of the mayo with your tasting spoon you are done. Store in an airtight container in the refridgerator.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pesto Chicken with Artichoke

I ended up making a pretty gourmet lunch today. It was mostly re-arranging some leftovers but it came together very nicely. The other day at the store I saw artichokes that looked really awesome. When I was a kid mom used to make artichokes for us and she taught us how to peel off the leaves one by one, dip them into a butter sauce and then pull them between your teeth for the one small bite that was at the base of each leaf. It's a lot of work, but it is worth it because it is so good. To make the artichoke, just put some water in a pan and steam the artichoke for 25-35 minutes or until the leaves pull off very easily. The butter sauce I did today was super simple, melted ghee (clarified butter) with balsamic vinegar and salt. Lemon juice is extraordinary with artichokes but I didn't have any lemons.

For the chicken, I used a left over chicken breast. I've been buying chicken on the bone lately and brining them in a salt water solution overnight in the refridgerator. The next day, I just salt & pepper them, rub a bit of olive oil on the skin and bake on a cookie sheet that has a rack until they are done. Today, I cut off some of the meat from one of the breasts and topped it with some leftover pesto. My basil was plentiful this year, so I made a large batch of pesto and put it in ice cube trays. That way I can take out however much I want at any given time. I thawed the pesto out, crumbled some feta, added a sundried tomato and some kalamata olives and had a feast. I hope you try something similar soon, because this was very tasty!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soaked Wheat Pancakes

Say what? Soaked Pancakes? I have to tell you when I first heard of soaking wheat bread overnight I was skeptical. Soak it in what? Milk? Water? Buttermilk? I finally learned that buttermilk or water with whey (the runny part of yogurt) or even water with lemon will do the trick. Then the next step is to leave it on the counter loosely covered for at least 24 hours. Sounded pretty strange to me. So I kept digging and found out the 'why' behind soaking your wheat. Grains, nuts and legumes all contain something called phytic asic. This is something that isn't easy to digest for humans that only have one stomach. Not only is phytic acid hard to digest, when it is in your system, it robs you of other minerals such as calcium and magnesium.

Have you ever heard of soaking beans over night to make them more tender? The reason that our grandmas and great grandmas did that wasn't to just make them tender, it actually was breaking down the phytic acid. They may not have known the science behind what they were doing, but through trial and error our ancestors were pretty smart people! Now we know that all grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes should be soaked before digested.

Which brings me back to my recipe....

Soaked Wheat Pancakes

2-3 cups of whole wheat
enough water to fully absorb into the wheat
2-3 tbsp whey

1 egg
2 tbsp butter
2 tsp cinammon
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
splash of vanilla
(raw) milk to thin if necessary

The morning before, place whole wheat flour in a bowl. Mix water and whey together and pour over wheat. Stir thoroughly to get all of the flour wet. It is actually pretty hard to stir. But it should be wet enough to be a gloppy dough, not runny. Cover and let sit on the counter over night.

The day you make the pancakes. In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add melted butter, honey, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly. Add gloppy wheat dough from yesterday. I ended up getting out my hand mixer to try and get the dough to incorporate. For a minute there I thought it was alive! It is a strange dough the first time you do it! Finally I got it incorporated but it was still too thick to make pancakes with. I added a splash of milk and got a great pancake consistency batter! Cook on a greased griddle just like you would any pancake.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The only way to eat Brussel Sprouts

In my opinion, there is only way to eat brussel sprouts. I could be wrong, but in the few ways that I've tried them, this is the only way that they are good. And surprisingly they are more than just "good" when prepared this way. Excitingly, this recipe falls right in place with Nourishing Traditions and Weston A. Price. Isn't it great when a food that you thought was "fattening" really is healthy for you? By the way, this is my Mom's recipe that she usually pulls out at Thanksgiving, now it can be a year round dish!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts in BACON!

12-15 small brussel sprouts
1/8 cup of olive oil
1 garlic clove smashed
sea salt
2-3 strips of bacon

Cut all of the brussel sprouts in half and place in a bowl or zip lock bag. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Smash garlic into small bits and add to the brussel sprouts. Cut the bacon into little bits. Add to brussel sprouts. Toss everything to coat well. Place on a baking sheet and cook in a 450 degree oven for 25 minutes or until brussel sprouts are brown and bacon is crisp.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pizza Soup

The flavor of pizza without the carbs. This soup was surprisingly really good! And after I took my first bite, I did exclaim, "This DOES taste like pizza!" That was followed by... "hum... although since I can't remember the last time I ate a pizza I could be off, but who cares, it tastes great!" It's basically a parmesan cream tomato soup with pizza toppings stirred in. It was a hit with the husband and both toddlers.

Pizza Soup

  • 2 tbsp butter or left over bacon drippings
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 tsp dried italian seasonings
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 - 1 lb hamburger meat
  • 2, 28 oz cans of tomatoes
  • 2 (more) cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp (more) of dried italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 green bell peper
  • whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • kalmata olives, sliced
  • pepperchini sliced

In a large pot, melt butter or bacon drippings. Sauted a diced onion and 3 cloves of garlid chopped fine. Add one sliced bell pepper. When onions are soft, add ground hamburger meat. As meat is cooking add salt, 2 tsp italian seasonings, 1 tsp oregano and fennel seeds. When meat is cooked through, remove it to a bowl and set aside.

Put two cans of tomatoes in the pot. Add roughly chopped garlic, more of the italian seasonings and butter. Bring to a boil. With an immersion blender, puree the tomatoes until they are very smooth. Add heavy cream and blend it in. Pour meat mixture back into the pot and stir in with the tomatoes. Dice the green bell pepper and add it to the soup. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Serve with grated mozzarella cheese, kalmata olives and pepperchini on top.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chicken Enchilada Chili

Currently I'm doing a weightloss program called The Liberation Diet that falls in line with the principles set forth by the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Real Food Movement. The Liberation Diet is a very low carb diet that focuses on good quality high fats and oils. When I first was reading some of the literature it was quite mind blowing to see how the journey our culture took to leave behind butter, lard, ghee and other quality, vitamin-rich fats for the likes of margarine, soy-oils, canoloa and vegetable oils. If you follow the history it is all about making money and marketing.

For instance, the makers of Crisco were just trying to find a way to get rid of their industrial sludge leftover from making candles. Some one along the way thought it looked like lard (not too unlike the time my very own Mema thought she could substitute a bay leaf for basil in a pasta dish since they were both leaves and started with ba... they might have looked similar but they were definitely NOT similar!) This person took this lard look alike and baked a pie with it. Surprisingly it worked out okay and tasted okay. Viola! A new (cheaper) oil was introduced to the market. What they didn't know then was that it is very damaging to humans in a very slow and unapparent way. For more of the whole story on Crisco, please see: The Rise and Fall of Crisco. Here is a link that talks about fats in depth, with several other informative links at the bottom of their page: Know your Fats

Well back to my recipe... I love mexican food! I often have made burritos and quesidallas and other tex-mex delights. But since I'm going low carb, I needed to find a way to have my favorite flavors without the tortilla. Then the other day when I was picking up my Kombucha scoby from Nicole she had a dish similar to this bubbling away on her stove. I told her I wanted the recipe but since she left for vacation the very next day she hasn't had time to post. So I made something up myself.

Chicken Enchilada Chili

2 tbsp ghee or butter
1/2 onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 cans of organic fire roasted tomatoes
1-2 pablano or other favorite chili
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch (or more) of red chili flakes
sea salt
2 chicken breasts, previously cooked*

cheese sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1.5-2 cups whole milk (I use raw milk)
1.5-2 cups lightly packed shredded cheddar cheese
sea salt

Make cheese sauce first, in a medium size pot, melt butter. When butter is melted, add whole wheat flour and whisk until all of the flour is wet. Continue to whisk to cook the flour a bit. Add milk a little bit at a time. Start with just a splash and whisk lumps away. Add a little bit more and keep whisking keeping lumps away. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Add cheese and continue to whisk until sauce has thickened and cheese melts. Set aside, keeping warm.

In a large skillet melt ghee or more butter. Dice an onion into small pieces and add to butter. Chop garlic and add it to the onions. Chop chili peppers and add them. I like to add my spices at this time to toast them and make them more flavorful before adding liquids. So add the cumin, oregano, red chili flakes, sea salt and pepper. At this point the onions should start to be soft and brown bits may be accumulating on the bottom of the skillet. Open tomatoes and add them. When the tomatoes start to come to a boil, take a ladle and ladle some of the tomato-onion mixture into the cheese sauce to temper it. Stir it into the cheese and add a few more ladles of tomatoes. Then pour all of the cheese sauce into the tomato sauce. Add diced chicken and cook until warmed through. Serve with fresh guacamole and organic sour cream.

*If you don't have any chicken cooked, you can add raw chicken in after the onions, just be careful not to overcook when you bring the tomatoes to a boil.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chicken Fricassee


It was cold the other day and I wanted something warm and stewy.  I varied from the original directions for this recipe.  Instead of using chicken on the bone I used boneless turkey cut in chunks for a nice meaty flavor without the fat from the skin. For this dish  I used the recipe from the Bible of food AKA The Joy of Cooking.


Chicken Fricassee

2-3 pounds of Turkey in Pieces OR
3-4 pounds of chicken parts
4 Tbls butter
1 1/2 cups of chopped onions
1/3 cup of flour
2 cups hot water
1 3/4 chicken stock
8 ounces of mushrooms
1 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped celery
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup of cream or milk
several drops of lemon juice

Rinse the poultry and then season it. Using a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan melt the butter then sear the poultry.  Remove the poultry then add the onions to the juices in the pan.  Stir until the onions are tender then add the flour.  Keep stirring for one minute and then add the liquids.  Whisk the liquids until it comes to a boil.  Add the mushroom, carts, celery, thyme, salt, pepper.

Return the poultry to the pan then simmer for 20-30 minutes until the poultry is done.  Stir in the milk or cream and the lemon juice.  Serve with rice or add dumplings.   Yum!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kombucha and Water Kefir


Water Kefir

I am so super excited to have some Kombucha and Water Kefir fermenting in my kitchen right now. My friend Nicole of A Life Well Nourished, gave me a Scoby starter for Kombucha and asked me to babysit her Water Kefir grains for a week. She said they would store just fine in the refridgerator, but this gives me a good chance to try making both for a bit. Both drinks are a bit sour, a bit sweet, naturally carbonated and full of vitamins and probiotics. Eating and drinking fermented foods is part of being healthy and eating nourishing foods. I also have my first fermented food, a pear chutney, fermenting on my counter. I can't wait to share all of my fun and tasty experiments with everyone. Fermenting is an artisan experience. Each batch is slightly different and things take time, life slows down. I won't get to taste my first batch of kombucha for over a week. My pear chutney will take about a month, maybe longer before it mellows and is tasty. The kefir is "quick" only taking about 48 hours from start to finish.

Really, all of this is super easy to do, it just takes a bit of confidence and a leap into the unknown. Fermenting foods used to be a tradition that was passed on from generation to generation. It is how early people had food during sparse times and cold winters. Every culture is known for a fermented food of some sort: sauerkraut, traditional pickles, miso, fermented cheeses and even ketchup! Ketchup originally was a fermented food! Modern science found ways to mimic flavors and skip the long process of fermentation but at what cost? The modern way to make these foods quick and easy kills all the natural good-for-you bacteria that is essential to good health. Eating live foods such as yogurt, kombucha and other fermented foods eases digestion. I've only tried a handful of these types of foods, but from what I've tasted there is an entire world waiting for my taste buds to be tantalized with. I can't wait to try more!

For an updated article read this post:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Change is in the air

Welcome all! Change is in the air. Over the next few days/weeks, The Frickin Chicken will be getting a new face lift. I have a brand new passion in the realm of food and I am so excited to learn more and share more. I am now declaring myself as a representative of the Real Food Movement and I want to share my journey of leaving the processed food world behind, I hope you stay along for the ride.

Last night, at my last seminar of The Living Passionately Seminar I took through Landmark Education, I declared my new passion to a room full of people. I stood up and told them I wasn't an expert, but I'm so excited about Real Food that I can't wait until I'm expert to start sharing what I've learned. After the session, I had so many of the participants come up to me and ask me more questions that I was a bit overwhelmed, but at the same time I was that more excited to embark on this new adventure. It is a journey to leave behind what you've always known and been told; to open your eyes to what might be possible if you let go of what you've been told is the "right" way to eat. I want to share that journey. I have so much to say, but for right now, I'll just leave you with a simple recipe.
-Amanda Dittlinger, Real Food Representative

Real Breakfast Smoothie

This recipe is just "approximates" I'm still not much of a measure-er and it is to taste anyway.

1/4 cup plain yogurt with live cultures, made with whole milk, or kefir
3-4 strawberries
1/2 frozen banana
1 raw egg, from a pastured, cage free, antibiotic free chicken
1/2 cup raw milk
1-2 TBS virgin coconut oil
splash of vanilla
1 tsp honey
pinch of sea salt

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

For more information on the Real Food Movement, the Weston A. Price Foundation is an excellent source.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Houston's Spinach Artichoke Dip

There is a restaurant called Houston's that has the best ever Spinach Artichoke Dip. This is supposedly their recipe. My mom and I have been making for years as a dip to bring to a party. Sometimes we've even doubled the recipe (that makes ALOT) but it freezes well. Tonight I actually halved the recipe and made it for dinner two ways. One way, I diced some chicken and sauted it in a small skillet. I put the chicken in the bottom of a ramican and topped it with some of the dip. The second way was to split a chicken breast lengthwise and stuff it with the dip. I wrapped it in foil and baked at 375 for about 40 minutes. Here is the recipe for the dip. If you are bringing it to a party it traditionally served with corn tortilla chips.

Houston's Spinach Artichoke Dip
(original recipe)

1 stick of butter
1/2 chopped onion
2 boxes of frozen spinach (cooked and drained very well)
1 can of artichoke hearts, chopped
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
8 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Saute the onion and butter in a large skillet on low until translucent. Add next four ingredients until mixed well. mix in the parmesan cheese and the monterey jack cheese next. Stir well until everything is nice and melty. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shrimp & Cheese Stuffed Pablano Peppers

About a week ago the idea for this dish popped into my head and I went to the store to buy the ingredients. I wasn't 100% sure how I wanted to make it and with all that was going on, it  had to be shelved until last night. But over the weekend while hanging out at my Mother-in-Law's house, we were flipping through tv channels and we saw someone make something almost identical to the dish I had created in my head. The exciting thing is it gave me confidence that it would work out. I know that stuffed pablanos aren't anything new, but it was the first time I attempted it! They were easy to put together and definitely something I'll be doing again in the future. I made two big pablanos and a very small bell pepper for my toddlers to split.

Shrimp & Cheese stuffed Pablano Peppers

2 large pablano peppers
1/2 block of cream cheese (sorry... I don't remember how many oz and I threw away the package.)
1/2 cup of shredded colby jack or other favorite cheese
1.5 cups of small shrimp
1/4 of a red or yellow onion
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp oregano

Roast pablano peppers. If you have a gas grill you can do it right over the flame. If you have electric, you can put them right under a high temp broiler. Either way, turn them every few minutes until the skin is blackened. Remove from heat and place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or foil. Let sit for about 15 minutes to steam. Meanwhile chop onion into small pieces and saute them in butter. Add shrimp and cook until almost done. Remove onions and shrimp to a small bowl to cool. In a second bowl, use your hands to mix oregano, cream cheese and shredded cheeses. Add shrimp and onions and keep mixing with your hands until you have everything well incorporated.

Remove peppers from the bowl and peel off the blackened skin. Running them under cool water helps pull the skin off. Cut a slit in the peppers lengthwise and gently remove the seeds. Divide the cheese mixture in half and gently stuff each pepper with it. Bring the sides together. Place each pepper on a small piece of foil and wrap tightly. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Craptastic Soup

Last week I had a hard day.   I came home and to relax I made one of my favorite soups, Ezogelin.  Note: It is my favorite soup to eat,  I have never made it before.  I cracked open a cookbook and followed the recipe exactly.  It was horrid.  Ezogelin soup has finely cracked bulgur and red lentils in it.  It was flat tasting and the bulgur soaked up too much of the the liquid. It was like sludge.  I could have added more liquid, but it was not tasty enough and I would have ended up with WAY too much soup. 
I have manage to revitalize the soup though! In two ways!

Bulgur Pilaf
Lentil Soup

The original recipe for the Ezogelin soup was
1 liter of water
1 onion chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
100 grams of red lentils
100 grams of fine bulgur
(Warning: Do not follow this soup recipe)
The onions were sautéed and then the rest of the ingredients were to be added and boiled.  As stated before, the soup was flat and the consistency was wrong.
I split in half and salvaged it in two ways.  To make the pilaf I put half the lentil mix in a saucepan, brought it to a boil and then added a cup of larger grain bulgur then sautéed onions and peppers and added them in with more pepper, paprika and cumin. 
To save the soup I added more tomato paste and pepper paste.  I also sautéed minced garlic and added chicken broth. 
I ended up with two experimental dishes which worked out great and I did not have to throw out the original craptastic soup.  Total Win!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chicken Corn Chowder

I was seriously uninspired as for what was for dinner tonight. As a matter of fact, it got to be the girls' dinner time and I hadn't even started thinking of what to make. I ended up pulling some poached chicken that I had made previously out of the refridgerator and I diced that up for the girls along with some steamed veggies and applesauce. Thinking I was just going to have a bowl of cereal for myself (John had leftovers,) I was browsing through the internet and stumbled upon a quick chicken corn chowder soup. It really sounded like a good idea, and even though I didn't follow their recipe, this was easy to throw together and really hit the spot. (By the way, we do sit down as a family for most dinners, but occasionally we have a night when everyone eats at different times and it just works out that way.)

Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder

1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
4 green onions, chopped
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 bag of frozen corn (10 oz), split
1 cup chicken stock
2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a pan. Add green onions and flour. Stir until all the flour is wet and cook for a few minutes. Add chicken and stock. Stir to incorporate the flour. Add half a bag of corn. In a blender (or magic bullet!) puree the milk and the other half of bag of corn. Add to the soup. Bring to a simmer and add cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 3-4 small servings.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chili, Cornbread & Roasted Okra

The weather dipped into a bit cooler temperatures, so what do Texans do? They make chili of course! This was just a quick throw together chili that only took 30 minutes or so to throw together, but that was because I had my beans pre-prepared. I'm limiting canned foods, so I made a huge batch of brown beans a couple of weeks ago and put them in freezer bags to pull out when needed. As for my side, that's ROASTED okra! Mostly the only ways I like okra are either fried or in gumbo. Then the thought occurred to me to try roasting it. Sure enough, tossed in a bit of olive oil with salt and pepper and these were delicious! Not slimey at all.

Easy Chili

1 small onion finely diced
2 tsp olive oil

1 lb hamburger meat
2 cups of brown beans, previously cooked and thawed or canned
1 can of tomato sauce, or about 1.5-2 cups home prepared tomato sauce

2 tsp oregano
3 tbsp of chili powder
1-2 chilies (jalapenos, for example)
3-4 cloves garlic

Dice onion and saute them in olive oil in a large pot. Add minced garlic and diced chilies. Add ground beef, and break it up with the edge of a spoon. Before the beef is cooked all the way add seasonings of oregano, salt, and chili powder. Add beans and tomato sauce. Stir and adjust seasonings as needed. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve with cornbread.

I've made cornbread before on this blog, and yet, I'm always looking for a better recipe. Last nights cornbread came out great! Too bad I didn't measure... here are the approximates..


2 cups of cornmeal
1/2 cup white-wheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3-4 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1.5 cups milk

1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400. In a large mixing bowl, mix the cornmeal, white-wheat flour and whole wheat flour. Add the baking powder and salt and whisk to incorporate. In a small bowl, beat eggs, milk and honey. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Place a cast iron skillet on the stove and pre-heat it, medium-high heat. Add the butter and coconut oil. When it is melted swirl it around to grease the sides of the skillet and the pour it into the batter. Turn off the stove. Mix the melted butter/coconut oil into the batter and immediately pour it back into the hot skillet. Put the skillet in the middle rack and bake at 400 for about 20minutes or until golden brown on top.
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