Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cheeseburger in a Bowl

Here is a wonderfully easy recipe that takes relatively little prep time and utilizes ingredients that I usually have on hand in my kitchen. It's very forgiving and substitutes and omissions can be made without a problem. I'm not a fan of kale, but this is a painless way to get some of that leafy green goodness into a dish.


1 pound grass fed ground beef
4 potatoes, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 bunch kale, ripped into bite sized pieces
1 cup chicken stock
Worchestershire sauce
Garlic powder
Sea Salt
1/4 grass fed cheddar cheese, shredded


1. Brown the ground beef and onion in a heavy skillet. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.. Remove from skillet and set aside.

2. Turn heat on skillet to medium. Add the potatoes, kale, and stock to the skillet and cover. Cook until potatoes are tender. Make sure your stock doesn't run dry.

3. When the potatoes are done, add the beef and onion mixture back in, along with a splash of worchestershire sauce. Turn off the heat and mix it all together. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and add the lid for a another minute until melted.

Mom Tips

* If you don't have stock, you can use water. If you don't have kale you can use spinach (but don't add it in until the last two minutes of cooking the potatoes). I've accidentally left out the worchestershire sauce on several occasions and it turns out just fine. Purple potatoes make this dish quite pretty!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Foods That Are Easy To Buy But I Make From Scratch Instead

There are two reasons I might make something from scratch, rather than buy it. Either the store bought version is of inferior quality, or I can save a significant amount of money making my own. Most commonly, these items fall into both categories. Also, none of these things are very difficult or time consuming to make. I'm all about simplicity in the kitchen, so if it's on my list then it's not too tricky! In other words, if I can do it, you can, too!

Here is my list of must-make-from-scratch foods:

Bone Broth

I think I made my feelings on this topic pretty clear in my chicken stock post. Exponentially superior to store bought, and free. Store bought v. Homemade: no contest.

Ice Cream

Even if the ingredients appear to be okay, I simply don't trust store bought ice cream. Anti-freeze, anyone? The superior taste of homemade aside, making my own ice cream allows me to use sucanat or maple syrup instead of refined sugar, high quality cream, and raw milk. Homemade also has the additional nutrition of raw egg yolks from pasture raised hens. This usually costs more to make at home, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Besides, kids LOVE to help! Making ice cream is so much fun!


I've recently been making yogurt at home in the crock pot. It's super easy, and I use the highest quality organic milk I can find. It costs about half the price of buying yogurt from the same dairy. Additionally, I am able to harvest whey, which I use for soaking grains and beans (saving me money on apple cider vinegar or kefir), and for lacto-fermenting things like mayonnaise and sauerkraut. The best part is that I can culture the yogurt for 24 hours, ensuring all the lactose is eaten up by those good bugs! My yogurt is both less expensive and higher quality than the store bought version.


At over $4 for one small bottle of raw kombucha, we couldn't afford to drink it as much as we'd like - especially considering the kids and I are practically addicted to it. Making kombucha at home is very simple, and once you get the hang of it it becomes second nature. You can experiment with different flavors. I can make three quarts for the cost of a few tea bags and a cup of sugar, making homemade kombucha the second-best bargain in my kitchen!


I want to ensure that our beans are soaked properly prior to cooking. I also want to avoid BPA-lined cans. And let's face it: you'll save yourself a lot of green buying beans dry instead of canned. As long as you remember to plan ahead and start soaking your beans at least 24 hours before you need them, you'll be all set.


Go ahead and try to find mayonnaise in the store that doesn't have soybean oil in it... you can't. Which is why homemade mayonnaise is the only way to go. Olive oil, raw, pastured egg yolks, and raw whey.... This stuff can't be beat! I haven't run the numbers but I'm sure, in this case, homemade costs more. Totally worth it. Homemade mayonnaise has a short shelf life of two weeks, and we can't go through that much that quickly unless artichokes are in season. But with the addition of whey, you can lacto-ferment mayonnaise and the shelf life increases from weeks to months! Super!

Salad Dressing & BBQ Sauce

Store bought salad dressing and bbq sauce has all kinds of nasty ingredients and it's not too hard to mix some olive oil and balsamic vinegar together (or mayo and ketchup, in dad's case). Ranch and bbq sauce take a little more time, but not a significant amount. When I buy dressing, I don't like my family to eat too much. When I make salad dressing, I don't care HOW much they eat.


Arsenic in apple juice, "flavor packs" in orange juice.... hmmmm, no thanks! It's always nice to have some juice on hand to add to a smoothie to make it more liquid-y (although kombucha or whey work well for this), but if we can't squeeze our own, we'll pass. Whatever we get off of our lemon and orange trees gets squeezed for juice, and we save the Tropicana for everyone else.


Wish I had figured this one out years ago: stick some cut up vanilla beans in a bottle of vodka, wait a month or two, and save yourself a boat load of cash!

Other things I can think of that would be easy to buy but I make instead are fruit leather, hummus, pizza sauce, pizza dough, enchilada sauce, spaghetti sauce, chocolate syrup, popcorn, french fries & sweet potato fries, egg nog, soup, and kale chips. Whether due to superior taste or superior quality, I find these things worthwhile to make.

Some items I'm hoping to add to my must-make list sooner, rather than later are: bacon (to avoid sugar), sausage, kefir, pickles and other lacto-fermented vegetables, ginger ale, ketchup (again, to avoid sugar) and sparkling cider.

There are some things that I could make myself, but I don't - not with any regularity anyway. Either we don't eat enough of it to bother, or I'm satisfied with my source and the price, or it's simply not worth my effort. These items include:

Bread - Trader Joe's has a wide selection of traditionally leavened - meaning no yeast - breads that are delicious and affordable. Some of them are even organic. I'm not a big bread eater (bread is just a vehicle for butter, IMO) and no one here is much of a sandwich eater, so TJ's bakery breads will do.
Flour Tortillas - I never eat them, the kids just nibble at theirs, and dad eats two at a sitting, tops. I buy a pack of handmade tortillas at Trader Joe's, keep them in the freezer, and pull them out as we need them.
Corn Tortillas - Whole Foods carries a very affordable pack of organic, sprouted corn tortillas - everything I would ask for in a corn tortilla! (We love to fry them up in coconut oil - yum!)
Butter - Trader Joe's carries Kerrygold butter - my favorite butter in the world! - for $2.79. Can't beat that!
Pasta - We pretty much only eat brown rice pasta, and not very often at that. Totally not interested in learning to make it.
Applesauce - If I have some extra apples, sure, I might make applesauce. But usually I buy it and I'm good with that. We don't go through that much anyway.
Potato Chips - Almost seems ridiculous to include this on the list because I wouldn't even consider making them myself, but it is one of the few processed foods I buy. Dad enjoys himself some bbq potato chips, and Whole Foods carries some that are cooked in avocado oil (as well as a plain chip cooked in olive oil). Not the healthiest food in our kitchen, but I don't want him to feel deprived and go looking for potato chips in some other woman's kitchen ;)

This was a fun post to write! Let me hear from you: what's on your must-make list? What would you like to learn to make? What's on your don't-bother list?

Chicken Soup

We almost always have chicken soup around here in the colder months. This soup has a lot going for it. It makes an easy, economical, delicious, and nutritious lunch. Add a slice of sourdough bread smothered with grass fed butter and you'll be in heaven! The key good chicken soup is simplicity - that, and homemade stock. Feel free to add some noodles or rice if you must, but it doesn't need anything else, in my opinion! I never make it the same way twice, so the following "recipe" is just a guideline.


1 quart homemade chicken stock (I like to use stock that's somewhat concentrated for extra flavor)
Leftovers meat picked from one roasted chicken (For us, this usually equates to half the meat from a 3-4 pound bird)
A few carrots, sliced
1 small or medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped small
Salt, to taste (I use a small palm full of coarsely ground Celtic Sea Salt - don't worry, salt is not bad for you!)
1 tbsp Thyme


I put all of the ingredients in a pot and simmer them all morning. It will be perfect by lunchtime!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Homemade Mayonnaise

We're big fans of mayonnaise around here, but not of soy. Take a look at the label on any store bought mayo and you'll see that soy is the main attraction. Despite what you may have been told, soy is not a health food! Quite the contrary, in fact! So, homemade mayo it is! It's pretty easy, and definitely worth it. I love that I can let you kids slather your artichokes leaves in it with abandon! And with the addition of liquid whey (which we get from straining our homemade yogurt), it can last for up to two months in the fridge.

* You want your ingredients to be at room temperature, so set them out ahead of time.


2 Egg yolks, (from local, pastured chickens only - never eat store bought eggs raw!)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp liquid whey, optional
1 cup vegetable oil*

* You can use any combination of oils. We've tried grapeseed, flax, olive, sesame, coconut, and sunflower. Find a combination that works for you. Olive oil and flax are strong, so try sesame, grapeseed, or sunflower if you want a more mild flavor. Coconut is solid at room temperature, so don't use more than half coconut so it will still be spreadable. Do not use soy or canola oils, or you might as well buy mayo at the store!


1. Put egg yolks in a one quart canning jar, or any tall jar that your stick blender will fit in to all the way to the bottom.

2. Add the the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the oil! Use your stick blender to mix the ingredients thoroughly.

3. Continue to blend the ingredients while you add the oil a little, tiny bit at a time. Add oil, blend, add oil, blend, etc. This process will take you a few minutes, and about halfway through the mixture will suddenly turn thick - like mayonnaise! Keep adding oil and blending until you've used up all the oil.

4. Now you have mayonnaise! Leave your jar of mayo out on the counter for seven hours and the whey will start to lacto-ferment, making your mayonnaise probiotic - bonus! With the addition of liquid whey, your mayo will last one to two months in the fridge. Without the whey, you need to use it up in two weeks.

Bite-Size Maple Meringues

The egg whites have really been adding up around here since we started making our own mayonnaise. I keep them in the fridge in a one cup glass pyrex dish with a lid and a reusable label. I keep a tally on the label of how many egg whites are inside as I add them. When we get to six, we can make meringues! I found this recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, but I modified the method and the cooking time a bit.


6 Egg whites
Pinch of sea salt
3 Tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 Cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp Vanilla


1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Add in each subsequent ingredient, beating constantly with each addition.

3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a spoon to put bite size blobs of meringue on the cookie sheet, or you can use a pastry bag. You should have enough for about fifty.

4. Put the cookie sheets both in the oven. Leave the oven door cracked by putting a wooden spoon between the door and the oven. Bake for two hours, checking meringues on both sheets after one and a half hours. They should be crispy. The meringues on the bottom rack will probably finish first.

Non-Alcoholic Egg Nog

It's just us on this one, kiddos! Daddy doesn't do egg nog, but it just isn't Christmas without it. This is the first egg nog recipe I've ever tried and I love it so much and I'm so satisfied with the healthfulness of the ingredients that there's no need to look any further. I found the recipe here and modified it to meet our needs and tastes.


3 eggs yolks (from local, pastured chickens only - do not eat store bought eggs raw!)
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Nutmeg, to taste
Ground cloves, to taste
Splash of vanilla
1 Tbsp whey (optional)
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup non-homogenized whole milk (from pastured cows)
1 cup cream (from pastured cows)


1. Put the egg yolks in a one quart mason jar and blend them with a stick blender until thick.

2. Add the syrup, salt, spices, vanilla, whey, and lemon juice and blend some more.

3. Add the milk and cream and blend some more!

4. Store the egg nog in the mason jar in the fridge and shake it up before serving. Try not to drink it all at once!


Save your egg whites for Meringues!

Roast Chicken & Veggies

I roast a chicken for dinner once a week for two reasons. One, because it's economical. For under ten dollars we have enough chicken for two dinners. (Bonus: from the bones I can make nutritious stock that just can't be bought in a store, which I use literally every day.) Two, because it's EASY. Roast chicken night means I'm not spending a significant portion of my afternoon in the kitchen preparing dinner. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy cooking, but it's always nice to have a break. And while he following instructions don't make it SEEM easy, once you get he hang of it, it's a piece of cake.

It's important to buy quality chicken. I don't recommend going to the store and buying just any old chicken, however pastured chickens from the farmer's market cost upwards of twenty dollars for a three pound bird, so it's not economically feasible on a weekly basis. I usually compromise and buy Mary's chickens from Whole Foods. At $2.99 a pound, they're easier on my already stretched food budget (and occasionally they go on sale for .99 a pound and I can stock up!). Mary's chickens are rated 3 on the 5 step animal rating Standards. Not ideal, but better than Foster Farms.

Roasting a chicken is super easy, but I have a few mom tips to share with you to ensure that your bird turns out nice and juicy. First of all, you don't need a roasting pan, but it's helpful to have a roasting rack. Racks aren't terribly expensive and take up less storage space in your ktchen than a roasting pan. (I'm all about keeping unessesary items out of my kitchen!) I use it with a large casserole dish and it works just fine. Second of all, roasting a chicken takes a little plannng ahead, so make sure you start the process early enough or you'll be eating at midnight!


1 whole chicken
A few dabs of pastured butter (we use Kerrygold)
A few cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into pieces
Sea salt (I use Celtic sea salt)
Pepper (I like Trader Joe's lemon pepper that comes in a grinder)
Lemon or orange (optional)
Vegetables for roasting (potatoes, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, etc)


1. Take your chicken out of the fridge about two hours before you're going to cook it. (Save the neck and gizzards for your stock, or for yor pets!) place it on the rack breast side up. Ideally you want it to be room temperature before you put it in the oven. I take it out after lunch. I don't wash the chicken because if there are any germs on it they will be killed during cooking, and I don't want to splash germs all over the sink and countertops.

2. Pull up the skin of the chicken and shove plenty of butter underneath, along with the garlic. If you want nice, crispy skin (and who doesn't?!) melt some butter and brush it all over. Season with sea salt and peper. I like to apply lemon pepper generously. If citrus is in season, you can cut up an orange or a lemon and stick the pieces in the cavity along with some cloves of garlic. Chop up the veggies and arrange them underneath the chicken. They will roast in the juices while the chicken cooks.

3. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. You want the oven nice and hot because you're going to crisp up the skin first so it holds in the juices. Put the chicken and veggies in the oven for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, I like to turn the chicken over so the juices soak into the breast meat (or you can turn it over later). I shove a heavy duty wooden spoon into the cavity and use tongs to spin it around. Put the dish back in the oven and turn the temperature down to 325 degrees. You want to cook your chicken the rest of the way slowly. I always set the timer for another hour for an average size bird.

4. When the timer goes off, put a meat thermometer in the thigh making sure it's not touching a bone. If the thigh is 175, the breast will be done. If it's not done, put it back in the oven and check the temperature occassionally. Once you become experienced you'll be able to determine doneness by the loseness of the joints when you wiggle the drumstick. Don't overcook your chicken, it will be dry!

5. Take the chicken out of the oven, cover it with a foil tent, and let it rest at least twenty minutes before you even think about cutting into it! Check your veggies at this point. If they're not fully cooked, put them back in the oven at 400 degreees while your bird rests. If they are fully cooked, turn the oven off and put the veggies back in to stay warm until dinner.

6. It's time to carve! If you want your family to love you even more than they already do, serve with corn bread or biscuits. (you can bake either of these things while your chicken is resting.). These are treats at our house, but they sure do hit the spot with roast chicken and veggies!

Mom Tip

* Whenever you chop up vegetables (except for potatoes) save the scraps in a container in the freezer. You'll use these when you make your stock and you won't have to use up perfectly good vegetables. I save carrot skins and ends, onion skins, celery parts, etc. all week long and make stock once a week.

* Put the citrus pieces down your garbage disposal after cooking the bird to freshen up your drain.

* After dinner, while the carcass is still warm, is the best time to havest the remaining meat off of your bird. If you refrigerate the carcass to do it later it's much more difficult. I usually get another two cups of meat that I then use in a recipe later in the week, or for chicken sandwiches throughout the week. Once the carcass is down to the bones, you can start your stock or put the bones in the freezer to make your stock at another time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potatoes

One of my favorite pastimes is reminding daddy to appreciate me. A very effective method of doing this is betting him that I'm the only wife he knows who wraps her husband's vegetables in bacon. Did I mention that daddy has a thing for bacon?

Dear children, if you're reading this then it's probably something like twenty years in the future... Soooo, approximately 2031. If, my darlings, "they" are still preaching a diet low in saturated fat in the year 2031, promise me that you will ignore, ignore, ignore! Not so sure? Watch this, or even better, watch this.

We eat plenty of saturated fat with every meal. Since I roast a chicken for dinner every Sunday and chicken is a lean meat, I like to serve side dishes that are high in saturated fat to accompany our bird and help us digest the nutrients in our vegetables. I found this recipe here, modified it slightly, and it became a fast favorite!


2 sweet potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
12 ounces uncured bacon, each slice cut into thirds
Ghee (or butter if you're short on ghee)
Maple syrup


1. Melt some ghee in a pan on medium heat and add some maple syrup, a small amount of each is all that's neccessary. You just need enough to coat the sweet potatoes. Throw the pieces of sweet potatoes in and stir them around, coating them with the ghee and syrup.

2. Wrap each bite in a piece of bacon and secure it with a toothpick.

3. Spread the bacon bites out in a casserole dish. Roast in a 375 degree oven for about an hour or until the bacon is crispy and the potatoes are fork tender.


* If you have any other vegetables sitting around, you can throw them in the dish, too. Most recently I had a handful of brussel sprouts and pearl onions that needed to be used up, so I threw them in there, too.

* I roast these in the oven at the same time I'm roasting the chicken. When I take the chicken out and let it rest for twenty minutes, I crank the heat up a bit so that the bacon crisps.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making Chicken Stock

If my children get only one thing out of this blog I'm writing for them it's this: the importance of making their own stock. I can't even begin to list the ways is which homemade stock is beneficial to your health, so I won't. But google it, you'll be impressed. (Please note that homemade stock is far superior to anything you can buy in the store.) Hopefully impressed enough to make the process a part of your routine. Other than being one of the most nutritious foods you can consume, homemade stock is VIRTUALLY FREE and EASY to make. Like roasting a chicken, the instructions may seem dauntng at first, but once you get the hang of it there will be no stopping you!

You might be wondering what on earth you can use all this homemade stock for, so allow me to enlighten you. The obvious is soup, which we eat quite a bit of around here. Other than the obvious, there are a multitude of ways I use stock. Basically any time a recipe calls for water, I use stock. I use it to sautee onions, make rice, make spaghetti sauce, and even to cook broccoli and cauliflower in. I use it in fondue, chili, cooked or refried beans, sausage ziti, barbque chicken sandwiches, chicken tacos, and UNion rings... I'm sure there are several more I can't even think of right now. Also, I often drink it straight from a mug with lunch and dinner as a digestive aid. I make my husband drink it if he starts to come down with something. As far as I'm concerned, you can't have too much stock.

You can find a million different ways to do this on the internet, this is just the way I do it. Feel free to tweak my method until it works for you! If you're reading this and you have your own tips for making stock, please leave them in the comments. I'm stock nerd, and I love hearing other people's methods and tips.


Large stock pot (I used an 8 quart pot forever, but I got a 16 quart pot for Christmas and I love it! You can also use a crockpot.)
Another large stock pot or large glass bowl (for straining your stock into when you're done)
Skimmer (or something to skim with)
Colander or strainer
Funnel with filter (or you can use a fine strainer if you don't have this)
Wide mouth mason jars for freezing


Chicken bones
Chicken skin
Chicken feet
Gizzards and neck
Vegetable scraps
Bay leaves
Apple cider vinegar
Cold, filtered water

My Method

1. Put all of your chicken parts into the stock pot, add water until they are covered, and add the apple cider vinegar. Let the pot sit for an hour. This sitting time allows the vinegar to draw the gelatin out of the bones. This is good. The more geletin in your stock, the better it is.

2. After an hour, bring the water to a boil. Any scum will rise to the top. Skim it off and discard it. You don't want it in there. After I'm done skimming I add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. (You can add them before, but it makes skimming harder.) Lower the burner until you have a very gentle simmer - almost not even simmering! Allow it to simmer all night, all day, and all night again. I generally simmer for 36ish hours, but more or less time is fine.

3. On the second morning, after all that delightful simmering, turn off the burner. Set the colander over a large pot or bowl and strain the stock through it. You can now dispose of all the solids. Wash out the original pot really well and return it to the stovetop. Filter all of the stock through the filtered funnel and return it to the stockpot. (If you don't have a filtered funnel, just strain it through the finest meshy thing you can find in your kitchen. Some people use a reusable coffee pot filter.)

4. Bring the stock to a boil. The goal is to reduce the stock until it's very concentrated. I always reduce mine by half. Doing this will require less storage space in your freezer and fewer storage containers. Put the stock in the jars. Remember to leave plenty of head space in the jars or they will break in the freezer. I'm always cautious and leave more than enough space. Once your stock is in the jars, let them cool on the counter so your fridge doesn't have to work too hard. I promise it will be just fine there all day. Once the jars are cooled you can put them straight in the freezer, or cool them further in the fridge before moving to the freezer.

5. When you're ready to use your condensed stock can reconstitue it with filtered water. How much to add is your call. I usually reduce my stock by half, so I just double my stock when I'm ready to use it. Sometimes I just leave it condensed because it's more nutrient dense.

Mom Tips

* Ask your butcher for chicken feet. I've purchased them from Whole Foods. I've also purchased them from a chicken farmer at the farmer's market. I just email her ahead of time and ask her to bring some for me. They're super cheap and worth it or all of the nutrition they add to the stock.

* I keep a Ziplock bag in the freezer and every time I have veggie scraps (carrots, onions, celery, bell peppers, apples) from cooking throughout the week I put them in there to add to my weekly stock. This is also a great place to put all of those carrot and celery sticks that make their way back home in your child's lunch box. This way you get the vitamins from vegetables in your stock without using perfectly good veggies that you end up throwing away. If you don't have scraps saved, just chop up some veggies.

* Since I don't use plastic containers for storing our food, wide mouth, quart size mason jars are my favorite solution for storing stock. They are very affordable - about ten dollars for a dozen at Wal Mart - and they store really nicely either in the freezer or in the cupboard when you're not using them. They have to be wide mouth, though, or they'll break in the freezer!

* Some people remove the fat from the top of their cooled stock. I do not. We always eat the fat, and I believe fat from quality sources is highly nutritious and essential in our diet. And it tastes delicious!

* Perhaps you don't have time to make stock every week. In that case, just save your bones in the freezer until you're ready!

* One last tip! Sometimes when I boil a chicken I save the water. After harvesting the meat I put the bones in the cooled water with vinegar and start the process for making stock from there. I figure we're getting even more nutrition this way.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Gulaschuppe, or Goulash Soup, is a German classic that we had the pleasure of indulging in while in Germany this summer. "Indulging in" might not be the right phrase. "Gluttoning ourselves on" might be most appropriate. We positively inhaled serving after serving of this soup. Until it was gone.


It's a simple one-dish meal, easy to make, and delicious served with warm (real) sourdough bread for sopping up broth. I've only made this twice but I've discovered that key to this soup's deliciousness is in the stock. It is imperative that you make the stock yourself, as store bought stock just won't cut it. The more delicious your stock is, the more delicious your soup will be. (Stay tuned, maybe someday I'll do a stock post.)

I've tweaked this recipe from several I've found online to suit our tastes and budget. If you want to save some coins, omit the tomato paste and you'll have a thinner soup. I personally cut the caraway seeds from 2 tablespoons to only a half tablespoon. Caraway seeds add a distinct European flavor, and a little goes a long way on our American tongues. Finally, I added garlic because let's face it, it's just not dinner without garlic.


2 Pounds grass-fed beef, cut into half inch cubes (cheap stew meat will work best)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
Fat for sauteeing (I use lard)
3-4 medum potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pound carrots, chopped
1 quart beef broth
1 cup water
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp sucanat (you can substitute any kind of sweetener if you don't have sucanat, or try leaving it out)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
2 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes

1 6 ounce jar of tomato paste
1/2 tsp caraway seeds


1. Over medium high heat, melt some fat in a large skillet and add the beef, browning it on all sides. Halfway through, throw in the onions, peppers, and garlic and cook it with the meat until the onions are soft.

2. Throw everything in th crockpot and simmer on low all day. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

3. Serve with a dallop of sour cream and warm, sliced sourdough. Make sure to come up for air.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tater Tot Casserole All Growed Up

The other day I found myself with a pound of ground beef and no dinner plans (I forgot to soak beans for tacos the night before and there's no way we're having tacos without beans!). What to do? I didn't want to make spaghetti as we're trying to avoid gluten as much as possible, we just had burgers last week, and I wasn't in the mood to make a boring meatloaf.

When I was in college I had a boyfriend whose mom made tater tot casserole so I invented this loose variation. It was actually pretty darn good. Even sister bear ate several helpings, and she doesn't do casseroles. This one goes in the comfort food category.

There are, in fact, no tater tots to be found in it, but let's not get all technical, okay?


1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup cream of chicken soup
1 pound carrots, thinly sliced
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped
5 medium red potatoes, diced small
Fat for frying, I used ghee this time


1. Put the diced potatoes in a greased baking dish and bake them in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes. You don't have to put them in a single layer, but spread them out evenly. (You're just doing this step to cut down on cooking time later when you fry them.)

2. Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic. Add salt and pepper. When the beef is brown, turn off the burner and mix in the soup. Spread the beef mixture in the bottom of a greased 9x13 casserole dish. Spread the chopped veggies over the top of the beef mixture.

3. Heat up a skillet nice and hot, add some fat, and fry the potatoes with salt and pepper (and chopped onions, if you want) until they're nice and brown. Don't overcook them , in fact, you should under cook them just slightly. Spread the brown potatoes over the top of the veggie layer.

4. Put the casserole in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Smashed Potatoes

Tank you, yet again, Rachael Ray. And I don't mean that in a Late Night Bacon kind of way. Ingredients 2 Pounds Small Red Potatoes Olive Oil Salt Pepper Directions 1. Boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain. 2. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper. 3. Press flat with the bottom of a glass. 4. Bake in a 400 degree oven about 30 minutes or until desired crispiness is reached.

UNion Rings

Thank you, Rachael Ray.


1/2 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
2-3 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 Large Onions, peeled and halved crosswise
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
3/4 Cup Filtered Water
2 Tbsp Butter


1.  Mix panko, garlic, and salt.

2.  Place onions flat side down in a skillet.  Add broth and water.  Partially cover and cook over medium-high heat for 20 minutes.

3.  Flip, add some butter on top, top onions with panko mixture and then dot with butter again.  Set skillet on lowest level in the oven and broil until golden.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Red Sauce

We try to avoid gluten around here whenever we can, and this makes a delicious alternative to pasta when you're craving spaghetti.  I like to serve it with rich, meaty spaghetti sauce.  I was shocked the first time I made this that everyone in the family not only ate it, but went back for seconds!


1 Spaghetti Squash, halved and cleaned out
Olive Oil
Minced Garlic (I like the crushed garlic in a jar at Trader Joe's)


1.  Brush the olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper all over the flesh of the squash. 

2.  Set your two squash halves in a pan with the flesh side up and roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour or until the flesh is tender.

3.  When it's done roasting, use a fork to pull out the strands of "spaghetti." 

Serve with spaghetti sauce.

Crock Pot Refried Beans

These are delicious and so easy! Fajita night just isn't complete without them...

I found this recipe at 100 Days of Real Food and tweaked it just a little bit.


2 Cups Dry Pinto Beans, rinsed
1 Onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 Tsp Minced Garlic
2 Cups Chicken Stock
4 Cups Filtered Water


1. Soak beans overnight.

2. In the morning, rinse the beans and add them to your crock pot with all of the ingredients.

3. Cook on high for eight hours.

4. Depending on how much liquid remains, you may need to drain the beans. I've found that you want a little liquid to remain so you can get the right consistency. Mash the beans with a potato masher.

Serve with shredded cheddar on top.

Mom Tips

* These make great leftovers to dip tortilla chips in for lunch the next day.

* Try this with black beans, or try half and half. Black beans are full of nutrition!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

One word: Delicious.


8 Red Potatoes, with skin, quartered
3-4 Cloves Garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp REAL Butter
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, room temperature
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Tsp salt


1. Put potatoes AND garlic in pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down to simmer. Cook until tender. Drain and return to pot.

2. Add butter, cream, cheese, and salt to the potatoes and garlic and mash to your preferred texture.

Mom Tip:

* You can make these as garlicky as you want. I like to cut the cloves in half before I put them in the pot.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fried Rice

This is a cheap and easy recipe to throw together with ingredients you probably have on hand. It's a great accompaniment to Soy-Ginger Wings. We also like teriyaki flavored broccoli with it.


Leftover Long Grain White Rice (if it's a day old and refrigerated, it will work better)
Oil, for frying
Veggies, anything you have on hand (The picture above includes mushrooms, baby corn, two carrots sliced really thin, and red bell pepper)
Garlic, a few cloves sliced up
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil


1. Heat the oil in a wok. Add the veggies and stir fry them for a couple of minutes. Throw in the rice and stir fry until it looks good to you! Throw in some soy sauce and toss a few times. Throw in some sesame oil and you're done!

Mom Tip

You can throw anything you want in fried rice! Try adding a beaten egg or two, or some leftover meat for protein.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chicken Parmesan

It's taken awhile, but I finally fine-tuned this recipe to our utter satisfaction! We no longer need to go to a restaurant in order to be satisfied by Chicken Parmesan!


1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1/4 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1 Tbsp Parsley
1/2 Tsp Basil
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Egg, Beaten
2 Chicken Breasts, cut in half
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Jar Pasta Sauce
2 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella


1. Heat the pasta sauce and balsamic vinegar on low heat on the stove.

2. Hammer the chicken breasts flat (that's the fun part:). Pat them very, very dry.

3. Heat an iron skillet to medium-high. In the meantime, preheat the broiler in the oven.

4. Combine 2 Tbsp Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, and salt in a shallow dish. Place the beaten egg in a second shallow dish. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg, then press into the breadcrumb mixture.

5. Melt the coconut oil in the skillet. Place the chicken in the oil and cook for three minutes on each side until done.

6. Pour the pasta sauce in the skillet over the chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the mozzarella. Place skillet in the oven and broil until the cheese melts and browns. Remember to watch it closely!

Serve over spaghetti noodles and spoon on extra sauce.

Strawberry Ice Cream

We make very good use of our ice cream maker around here, and this is our favorite recipe. There are a few "musts" to consider in order to ensure that your strawberry ice cream turns out especially delicious. First, the better your strawberries taste, the better your strawberry ice cream will taste.. duh, right? Second, use very high quality vanilla. If you use cheap vanilla, you'll taste it, and it doesn't taste good. I like to use alcohol-free vanilla in ice cream.


2/3 Pint Fresh, Ripe Strawberries (cut into little pieces)
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Sucanat (regular sugar will work fine, too)
1 Cup Whole Milk
2/3 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Heavy Cream
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract


1. Combine the cut up strawberries with the lemon juice and sucanat. Stir gently and let sit for two hours or overnight.

2. When the strawberries are ready, whisk the milk and sugar together for two minutes to disolve the sugar. Add the cream, the juices from the strawberries, and the vanilla and combine.

3. Pour the ingredients into the freezer bowl and let mix for 25 minutes. When the time is up, add the strawberries in and mix for an additional 5 minutes. Put the ice cream in a 1.75 quart lidded Pyrex dish and transfer to the freezer immediately.

Mom Tip

Don't take the freezer bowl out of the freezer until the moment you're ready to pour the ingredients into it. The more frozen it is, the better.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cheddar & Fontina Fondue

A few months ago I found a great deal on a brand new fondue pot on Craigslist and this meal has quickly become a staple at our house. Friday nights are great fondue nights and we look forward to them all week when they're on the menu. Fondue is also great for serving when you have another family over for dinner (and later you can fill it with chocolate!). Every family needs a fondue pot that gets regular use!

We've tried a few different recipes but this one is by far our favorite. The inspiration came from Jen's blog. The most important thing with fondue is using good quality cheeses. If you already have a bottle open, you can substitute half of the stock for a good quality dry, white wine like Chardonnay.


2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
1 Clove Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
1/8 Tsp Pepper
1/4 Tsp Marjoram
1 Cup Chicken Stock
3 Cups of Shredded Cheese (we use 1 1/2 cups of cheddar and 1 1/2 cups of fontina)

Our Favorite Dippers

Sourdough Bread
Chicken Apple Sausage


1. Prepare all of your dippers first: lightly steam the veggies, cut up the apples and bread into cubes, brown the sausages... you won't have time to do it after the fondue is ready.

2. To prepare the fondue, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add garlic and spices and cook for a minute. Add the flour and whisk constantly for one minute. Add chicken stock and whisk until thickened. Add the cheese and stir until smooth. Remove the bay leaf.

3. Transfer to your fondue pot and enjoy!

Mom Tip

Try rubbing a clove of garlic all over the inside of the fondue pot before you add the cheese mixture.

If your fondue gets gloopy, add some lemon juice to the mixture to smooth it.