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.
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