Monday, May 23, 2011

Yummie Quiche!

On Friday, I was so blessed to have Chris at home! 

First, I woke up with terrible spasm in my neck and shoulders so I could barely turn my head!  So I was able to get some heat on it right away while my lovely husband made some breakfast. :-)

We would have never been able to run all the errands we ran on Friday, either, since I couldn't drive in my condition. 

Then, I was able to lie down all afternoon with heat on my neck and even sleep!

Finally, Chris woke me up and already had dinner planned out! He wanted to have quiche.  I had made quiche a week or two before and it turned out delicious!  We started making this with a couple of ingredients in mind, and the more we got out, the more we decided to throw in! 

I am sooooo thankful that I had Chris around on Friday for so many reasons!  :-)

Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cup fresh ground whole wheat flour
1/2 cup shortening or butter
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup water

Mix the flour and the salt.  Cut in the butter or shortening.  Add water until it comes to a nice dough.  Chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll out.

Quiche with leftovers!
4 eggs
1 cup milk (or cream, if you want it really rich!!)
1/4 tsp salt
2-3 oz. mushrooms
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 red pepper
leftover BBQ chicken
1/2 cup leftover potatoes (small cubes-- hashbrown style)
a big handful of spinach, chopped
one cup of shredded cheese

Beat eggs and milk and salt and pepper. Saute mushrooms, onions, garlic, and pepper.  Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together.  Pour into prepared pie crust.  Bake at 350* for 30-45 minutes or until the middle is set.

I really love quiche, and one thing that has always held me back from making it was the misconception that it used up so many eggs and you HAD to have cream.  It only takes FOUR eggs-- half the amount we go through on a Saturday morning!  And, you definitely don't need cream-- We even substituted water for almost half the milk and it still turned out fine. 

Do you love quiche?  Would you make it for dinner? 

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

A New Obsession

Lately I have a new obsession-- a yummie drink that I like to enjoy hot or cold. 

I recently went shopping all by myself at the mall.  That meant I got to shop the loose tea store to my heart's content.  I have liked rooibus tea for awhile-- even before it became popular due to all the 'health benefits.'  (Which I had no idea what they were until I googled it and came up with this.) ANYway, I was really interested in the section that they had of rooibus teas-- all KINDS of different flavors!  So, I settled on chocolate rooibus and coconut rooibus tea.  I was surprised when the label printed out-- "Herbal Chocolate Chai" and "Herbal Coconut Chai." 

The last time I had tried chai was admittedly years ago, but I hadn't liked it.  Hmmm, but, the rooibus tea had sounded sooo good!  I just had to wait and see. 

I got home and made myself some and it was awesome!  I drink it all the time now! 

And I have even started adding a few tablespoons of rice or coconut milk and a splash of agave. 

The other night, I even used some leftover tea, added the milk and agave, and put ice in it and drank it with a straw

In conclusion, get yourself to your local loose tea store and buy some rooibus tea!  Try some of the delicious flavors that are available and make some homemade chai!

ps. one last thought for you:  rooibus tea is naturally decaffeinated!  Drink it any time of the day, without the being-wired-for-the-rest-of-the-day-or-night feeling!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cooking Tip #2

As I mentioned earlier this week, we like to eat Indian food around here.  And, I like to make it!  Indian food always calls for fresh ginger (or, it should! and if your recipe doesn't call for fresh ginger, look for another one!). 

Ginger root keeps for awhile in the fridge.  But, most times, I would buy it and end up throwing more than half of it away, because I just don't use that much ginger. 

The last time I bought ginger root, I threw it in the freezer.  Now, when I want some fresh grated ginger root, I get one out of the freezer and use my microplaner. I grate the peel into the sink and then the root into my recipe.  Then, I put the root back into the freezer, where it stays until next time. 

Now, I don't have to buy ginger and feel badly throwing it out if I don't use it for awhile.  I am saving money! 

I even have found that it's easier to grate when it's frozen, because it doesn't have all the tough strings that don't grate very well when fresh. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Green Trail Mix Pancakes

Yes, that is actually the name of one recipe.  How exactly did I marry Green, Trail Mix and Pancakes?  Why exactly would I do that? 

Yesterday when I asked Ben what he wanted for breakfast (he was the only one up at the time), I expected a 'normal' answer-- oatmeal, Ben's cereal, pancakes, french toast.... you know, normal breakfast food. 

Ben said, "What we had yesterday for lunch: almond butter and jelly, strawberries, peppers and chips."  I started to say, "That's lunch food!  We can have that for lunch-- what do you want for breakfast?"  But instead, I decided it didn't really matter.  Who cares if you have a sandwich for lunch or breakfast? We had the same thing again today for breakfast, too.  :-)

So, today for lunch, I decided to have breakfast.  But, I wanted it to be healthy and packed with delicious things.  So I came up with Green Trail Mix Pancakes! I used my basic pancake recipe and just added a bunch of stuff to it. :-)

Green Trail Mix Pancakes
1 cup flour
3/4 milk or water
2 TBS oil or butter
1 egg (or 2 TBS flax meal)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 TBS honey or sugar or maple syrup (I don't always put sugar in but today I wanted to go syrup-less, so I added a bit of sweetness to the batter)
1/4 cup oats
1 cup blanched, pureed spinach
2 TBS raisins
2 TBS chocolate chips
2 TBS sunflower seeds
1 TBS hemp seeds
1/4 fresh blueberries

I blanched the spinach and then put it in the blender with the water and the egg.  Then I transferred it into a bowl and added all the other ingredients and mixed well.  Finally I cooked them in my cast iron skillet.  Delicious!

Think of the possibilities!  You can add anything to pancakes!  And it could be a meal!  What would you add?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Remember that time when...."

".... when I made that awesome bread and it was so moist and delicious and we didn't want to stop eating it?"
...."Yeah...." Chris replied, wistfully.

Today is one of those days that in a couple of weeks we'll be thinking back and having the above conversation. 

You see, although I have been making bread pretty regularly for four years, I am just not good at it.  Well, let's be honest: I am not careful enough when making bread to do the same exact thing every time over and over. It just seems so... boring.  Until I make bread and it is perfect and I relish every bite (especially with butter!) and it is gone in less than 24 hours.

In conclusion, this post is mostly for me and only a little bit for you.  :-)  I will write down what I did today, so next week, (or tomorrow) when we need bread again I can look at this post and say, "See, Janet, you can make delicious bread and all you have to do is follow these short simple steps!"

Bread from today
2 cups warm water
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 TBS honey
1/4 cup gluten
1/4 cup olive oil
5 1/2 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour
2 tsp real salt (not 'fake' salt, as Ben calls all other salt!)

Add the water and yeast to the mixer.  Let sit for two or three minutes. Add honey and stir for 5-10 seconds to swirl it all around. Add gluten, olive oil and 5 cups flour.  Mix until it pulls into a wet dough.  Add salt and mix some more.  Add enough more flour until the dough is the right consistency.  My husband calls it 'post-it note' wet. Knead for 7-8 minutes.  Let sit in the mixer for about a half hour. (My mixer bowl is plastic and the dough doesn't stick, but if you have a metal bowl, you might want to coat it with oil before letting it sit.) Grease two loaf pans.  Divide the dough roughly in half and put each half in each bread pan.  Let rise in a warm oven for about a half hour.  Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes.  Try to be patient enough to wait five or ten minutes before cutting into your beautiful, delicious loaf of bread and slathering it with butter.  Enjoy!

Thankful for delicious bread to go with dinner tonight! :-)

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Indian Food

Chris and I really like Indian food.  We love the flavors, the complexity, the spice!

This week, I had a mango, and wanted to make mango chutney.  So, I started thinking about what I could make with the mango chutney.  I have a list of regular Indian dishes that I make, but I felt like the chutney would be out of place among them, and I wanted to try something different!  I started browsing through my favorite Indian cookbook, and here's what I decided to make.  I usually make one main dish and a flat bread, or two main dishes, but this time I went for a whole meal!  It ended up great!

Spiced Black-Eyed Peas (Raungi)
Cumin and Coriander Potato Patties
Mango Chutney
Cucumber Mint Chutney
Indian Spice Flatbreads

A couple of tips I have for those who would like to try cooking Indian, but have never done it:
  • For the first couple of times, plan only one dish and rice
  • Leave an entire afternoon, or at least a couple of hours to prepare the dish.  There are lots of ingredients in Indian dishes, and usually lots of steps.  It is definitely a learning curve before you will be comfortable preparing an Indian meal!  (It's worth it, though, so keep with it!)
  • Prepare as much as you can before you start cooking: chop onions, grate ginger, press garlic, make a bowl with all the spices you need to add.  I usually go through the recipe and make a bowl for every step, so when I get to that point in the recipe, I just have to dump a bowl into the pan, not measure five different kinds of spices or chop up a bunch of veggies. 
  • Be careful with the spice!  If you like it really hot, go for it!  If you are not sure where you stand, I would at least cut the hot pepper in half.  I have stopped putting much, if any, hot peppers in the recipe when I cook them, and we add cayenne at the table so the babies can eat it and we can eat at the heat level we like. :-) 
  • Get this cookbook: Easy Indian Cookbook by Manju Malhi. It has been great to use!  It tells pretty accurately how long it will take to prepare the dishes, and has sample menus in the back if you need help pairing things together. 
The recipes I linked above are close to the ones in the book that I have. One or two are even by the author of the book I use!

So, do you like Indian food?  Later this week I will share our other favorite Indian recipes. 

What other exotic cuisines do you like to cook?  I am always looking for something new and exciting to make in the kitchen! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Baked Oatmeal

I finally made a perfect (in my opinion) baked oatmeal for breakfast the other day.  I am not really great at looking up recipes all the time, especially at wee hours of the morning.

1 stick of butter
1/3 cup sugar (I use sucanat)
2 TBS flax seeds
3 cups oats
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp powder
1 1/2 cups milk

cream butter and sugar.  add flax seeds, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and powder.  add oats.  add milk.  pour into 8x8. bake at 350* for 30 mins.  or until you start to smell it because you have forgotten you put it in the oven in the first place.

I usually go by the smell rule.  :-)

This recipe is the best I've made, in my opinion.  Now, this recipe isn't super sweet.  I've seen comparable recipes that call for 2 CUPS of sugar.  That is gross-sweet if you ask me.  But, try it and find out what works for your family.

I also love baked oatmeal with fruit.  Sometimes I put frozen blueberries in, or cut up apples. You can even use applesauce or frozen strawberries, or peaches or ANYTHING that sounds good to you!  Try it.  This week we had fresh strawberries, and I drizzled almond milk on it too.  Yum.


ps.  check out my other oatmeal ideas here and here.  Oh, and this is a good one too!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brownie experiment

Okay, so I wanted brownies for dessert today. Not brownies made out of dates, nuts and chocolate, but ones made with flour, sugar and chocolate.  I looked around for a recipe that suited me, and this is what happened.

Go here to see the original recipe.

Here is how my batch turned out.  I halved the recipe, so as to not have brownies hanging around my house all week. :-)

3/8 c. cocoa powder (1/4 c. + 2 TBS)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 c. boiling water
2 TBS + 2 tsp coconut oil (you could use melted butter or vegetable oil)
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. sucanat (sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc)
2 TBS + 2 tsp coconut oil
2/3 c. rice flour (or wheat)
1/8 tsp salt

Mix cocoa powder and soda together.  Add boiling water and oil. Add egg, vanilla, sucanat, oil.  Mix in flour and salt until just combined.  Spread into greased 8x8.  Bake at 350* for 20 minutes.

I used rice flour in this recipe.  It was kind of an accident. I waited until after dinner to make these brownies, because I ran out of time during dinner preparations.  I was going to use the 'flour I had leftover from something I had made this weekend' that was still in my mill... but then I opened the mill to retrieve said flour, and alas, there was none!  I did NOT feel like grinding flour and taking all that extra time (seriously?!  what does it take, thirty seconds??!), but I DID have some left over rice flour from something-or-other sitting on my counter... and it was just enough!  So, I used it.

The result was crumbly, chocolatey, coconutty, brownies.  (You couldn't even tell I used HALF the amount of sugar called for in the original recipe!) The rice flour was definitely the cause of the crumbles.  Next time, if I have this rice-flour-only dilemma again, I might lessen the amount of flour by a bit (1/2 cup maybe?) and use half butter and half oil to try and increase richness.  But, I would not consider these to be fudgy by any stretch of the imagination.

They DID fill my brownie craving, and that's what counts at this point, right?

It's Garden time!

I have updated you all a little bit about how our garden is going this year

This weekend, our garden got a HUGE addition.  We more than doubled our garden this weekend!  It is going to be amazing.  I am so excited.  We tore out the sod this weekend, but it is all still in the garden for now, as our wheelbarrow needs some work.  (Chris bought a new wheel for it, but it needs to be put together!)  Hopefully we will move it all soon, have some topsoil delivered, buy some stakes, and put it all together!  I have plants in the front window that are getting huge!  They need a bigger space.  :-)

As for the other plants in our existing garden, they are starting to get big. 

Kale, spinach and lettuce

Broccoli on left, horseradish on right

Garlic in front, mint in back, echinacea back right corner

Brussels sprouts

Tomato seed forest that just randomly sprouted

Baby Gardener :-)
Hopefully throughout the summer I will keep you updated with how our garden is growing!  I can't wait! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Turkey Carcass!

Today I am so thankful for.... a turkey carcass!!?!!

Actual conversation with my Uncle Andre after Easter dinner:

Andre: "Janet, take home some leftovers.  Whatever you want."
Me: "Ummm, can I have the carcass?"
Me: "I'll even pick off the meat for you!"
Andre: "Um, sure..."
Me: "Yeeeeessssss!"

I am so thankful for this turkey carcass because I used it to make turkey stock.  Mmmm... Lots of delicious, nutritious, homemade turkey stock.  And then, I canned it.  (Be still my heart).  Eleven quarts of it, to be exact.  With enough leftover to make something for dinner.  (There's only nine quarts in the picture below because I already used one, and one didn't seal, so I froze it.)

When I buy stock, which is rarely, because I make it whenever I can out of chicken or turkey bones, it costs roughly FOUR dollars for a quart.  That means for PENNIES, I made myself $44 worth of turkey stock.  I used exactly one onion, two carrots and three stalks of celery.  Three tablespoons of salt and a couple of bay leaves.

In conclusion, today I am thankful for my Uncle Andre for giving me his turkey carcass, my MIL who gave me a canner for Christmas, and my resulting eleven quarts of turkey stock.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vegetable Soup

Okay so I am posting this recipe today because of how I love that it comes together very quickly!  I love this recipe because it is so simple and easy!  I usually pull it out when there is an hour until dinner and I haven't the slightest clue what to serve!  I almost always have the ingredients on hand, so it's simple to throw together.

I cannot take any credit for this recipe, though!  Chris' Pap Pap told me how he makes his, and this is pretty much it.  If I am wrong (family who is reading this) please correct!  One thing that I learned is essential to this recipe is the cabbage.  The first time I made vegetable soup for Chris, it didn't have cabbage, and I definitely heard about how wrong that was!!

Pap Pap's Vegetable Soup
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 28oz can tomatoes
1-2 bay leaves
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup frozen green beans (or fresh ones cut to 1")
1-2 cups frozen peas
1-2 cups frozen corn
1/4 head of cabbage, sliced thinly

Throw everything into the pot and let it simmer for one hour.  Okay, so other than the bay leaves, I literally hardly season this!  The tomatoes I use have basil in them and a significant amount of sodium, so it doesn't usually need salt.  I put maybe 20 grinds of black pepper in... and that's it.

It tastes so delicious!  My kids love it, and so does my husband.  It goes well with fresh bread or biscuits or a salad or nothing at all! If you don't have all the ingredients listed, just leave them out! Or substitute with another vegetable.  Enjoy!  :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Menu Plan 5.1.2011

Well, it's that time again... I have to come up with some sort of plan by which to feed my family for the next two weeks.  I feel that our house is COMPLETELY stocked with food right now, due to our recent trip to Miller's Natural Foods. Check out our trip!!!

Okay so, off the top of my head, here is what I want to have for dinner the next few weeks. I haven't asked the troops what they want yet, so I may have to make some additions. :-)

  1. Taco Corn Fritters (Chili?/ Beans and rice?) Salad
  2. Vegetable Tetrazzini
  3. Potato Soup
  4. Vegetable soup
  5. Hummus, veggies, pitas, (something else)
  6. Orzo Salad (like we had at Easter) I don't really have a recipe, so when I make it, if it's good, I'll post it for you to enjoy too. Because, it was awesome!
  7. Coleslaw with something.... (what really sounds good here is hot dogs.  But I don't know if I want to pay as much as the hot dogs we eat cost, or go to the OTHER store that only carries them... )
  8. Socca with something.... (maybe a roasted veggie and socca sandwich? I'm not good at making socca yet, but I want to be.  And, I found garbanzo bean flour at Wegman's! I was looking in the wrong aisle before...)
  9. Black Bean Burrito Bake (I probably won't use as much cheese as she does this time, since we have cut way back on dairy) and fresh veggies
  10. Quinoa Burgers and potato wedges and broccoli
  11. Green waffles and green gravy (MAYBE... Ben asked for it the other day)
  12. Chicken and vegetables (sweet potato wedges?) 
Okay, well, that was fun.  Can you see I really feel a bit sketchy about this plan.  Lots of maybes, and uncertains.  One thing I know for sure is that I have to get some veggies!

This week, hopefully I'll be back a bit more than last week.  I hope to tell you about our garden and the changes taking place there, and why I was so excited about a turkey carcass!