18 May 2012

Simple Ones: Refreshing Lemonade

Refreshing Lemonade

Without rotting your teeth

Naturally lemony, naturally beautiful

2 Ball Quart Jars or pitcher
3 lemons (scrubbed and washed with natural soap)
Stevia or Agave Nectar to taste
Filtered water

Cut 1 lemon into lemon discs like cucumber slices. Drop a few into the jars. The second lemon, cut in half. Juice both halves, 1/jar. The 3rd lemon, using a micro-plane or zester, zest the outside of the lemon into the jars. You can also use the 3rd lemon to juice the jars. Fill the jars with filtered water. I used 3.5 tablespoons of stevia or Agave Necatr but you can use more or less. Screw the lids on and shake.

Its really a light, summery, thirst quenching drink. It also makes a nice gift in the jar. Overnight it will take on a nice lemony hue.

15 May 2012

Recipes: Whys & Whats

Ingredients... What's in it?

Why do I always say use olive oil, himalayan salt, etc??

What you invest in your health will determine how you feel tomorrow, next month, 2 decades from now. Olive oil is far better for yourself than canola which comes from soybean. Over 90% of soybean in America is genetically tampered with. I mean they added a bacteria (e.coli), an animal gene and a healthy dose of antibiotics, and assorted chemicals. You really want to eat that? I don't do my food shopping at the pharma. 

Make sure, if you can, to check for this :

This ensures your food hasn't been tampered with genetically. Or if you want to really roll out right:

This ensures people received a fair wage and it wasn't genetically tampered, the animals were humanely treated, no chemicals, pesticides, herbicides were used. It means its the closest to homegrown safe you can get. 

If you can't do the organic deal on your dairy, at least check for this label:

This ensures the cows were not treated with bovine growth hormones. As a result, less puss in your milk, slightly healthier cows, less collaboration for creating a super virus/bacteria. 

Avoid things like: fortified, bleached, artificial flavors, colorants, low fat/no fat, hydrogenated, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives (if possible), bromate. 

Treat your body nice and it will reward you with many years of health. The rise of diabetes and cancers is astounding. One can only assume its the amount of chemicals in our food and world. Other than sex, what do you actually put inside your body?  Eating is such an intimate activity.  Its your food, and you have a right to know what you're consuming. 

Recipes VIII: Creamy Vegetable Orzo

Creamy Orzo with Asparagus & Tomato

A New Twist on a Old Favorite

1 cup orzo
2 splashes olive oil
1.5 tsp of crushed garlic
1.5 cups of chicken broth/ bullion or veg'n alternative
1 packet of Knorr Alfredo (i know, i know something processed)
1 cup of heavy whipping cream- or - 1.5 cups milk
Bunch of asparagus
1 tomato or 2 romas
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
Several spins on the pepper grinder
2 dashes of garlic powder

In a deep pan heat up the oil on my favorite stove number, 4, with the garlic in it. Start a pot of the asparagus in the bullion liquid. When the garlic starts sizzlin' dump in the orzo. Stir around so it browns a little and absorbs the delicious garlic oil.

Then scoop some of the chicken bullion liquid off and pour into the pan with orzo. It will hiss and belch a great big sizzle steam cloud. That means you're doing it right. Keep slowly adding the chicken liquid to it. Stirring around.

While this is absorbing liquid, start the pot of alfredo. Heat the milk/cream and powder. Make sure to stir well because these sauces have the tendency to burn quickly to the bottom of the pot. You really need a third arm at this point.

Pour in the asparagus and chicken liquid. The orzo will keep cooking. If at any point the pan looks too liquidy, spoon off the liquid. When it has reduced down to your liking, pour the alfredo over the orzo & asparagus.Add the listed spices. Stir around well. Taste, if you want more salt or more pepper or spices-now's your chance. Reduce heat. Add the diced tomato. Stir gently, the tomato will become softer. At this point remove from heat and pour into a serving dish. Now pour yourself a nice beverage-you deserve it.

14 May 2012

Recipes: Whys & Whats

Yeast: You're Friendly Friend

Its tiny and there's bunches of them. You've invited them into your home, but how to you help them flourish? 
Yeast like warm, snuggly environments. They like to rest. The proofing is the reaction of the yeast while it munches the sugar. It farts out a bunch of CO2 making the frothy head. But yeastie wants to stay, he needs a home. Wheat gluten helps him build a strong home and gives you healthy vitamin E and protein. Yeastie will sicken and die if its cold in his new home. I like to microwave my flour home before I pour in the yeast mixture. After you pour the yeast into a warm flour-y home, mix around so the flour is moist. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. This is an important phase and not laziness. This is where yeastie bonds and the gluten strands are created. This ensures a good texture, small crumb, high rise bad-ass loaf of bread. 

Kneading ensure proper mixing of the ingredients and lets you bond with the food you're making by hand for those you love. 

Microwave proofing-the best method if you've got a p.o.s oven like me. A mug of water in the microwave, fire it up for 1.5 or so. Open quickly stick bread in. Time for 35 minutes. Take bread out & punch it down, reheat the ol' mug of water again. Stick bread in. Time for 35 more minutes. Oh hello bread you're ready to be baked or rise 1 more time.

The baking 911.com page is excellent. Bread is really finicky. If its raining, it won't rise as high. If you look at it sideways, it'll fall.

Remember to not OVER-RISE. I know you want the high and mighty bread. But if it turn alcoholic smelling, you've either spilled your beer on it or its ethanol producing/yeast is exhausted. 


Recipes VII: Freezable Pizza Dough

Freezable Pizza Dough

Who Needs Pizza Hut or Boboli Anymore?

This is a excellent recipe to make up in advance and freeze or on the spot. A versatile crust for your food whims. Also goes pretty good with my homemade tomato sauce.

I set my husbandit to the task of shredding the cheese, while I prepare the crust.

1tbsp dry active yeast
1 cup of water 115-117 degrees with 1 tsp of sugar dissolved in it
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp of sea salt or himalayan salt
2.5 cups of corn meal, white/wheat, whole wheat, or unbleached flour combo

Proof the yeast until frothy and smells like a nice beery bread smell. While its proofing, put together the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture. Stir around well. Cover and set aside for 8-10 mins to allow the gluten strands to form. Come back and knead well. Allow to rise in warm, greased bowl for 30 mins. After done rising, punch down and form into a ball and put in ziplock. At this point you can freeze it or push into pizza pan. Give it 10mins to gain its breadly form. Decorate with your choice of marinara and toppings.

Simple Ones: Easy Tomato Sauce

Simple Recipes

Savory Tomato Sauce

No BPA is always a Plus!

Several Tomatoes: your choice- roma, hydroponic, organic, beefsteaks
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp himalayan salt or sea salt
1 tsp basil (fresh or dried)
1 tsp oregano (fresh or dried)
Couple spins of fresh ground black pepper

Wash tomatoes with all natural soap and water to remove residues and pesticides. Cut up tomatoes into slices. About the size you'd put on a sandwich. Put tomato slices into a pot with the water. Cover and reduce down on medium low heat (4 if you stove follows numbers) until soft like stewed tomatoes. Make sure the water was absorbed into the tomatoes or has evaporated off. Remove from heat. In a blender or via use of an immersion blender, blend & pulverize the tomatoes into a sloupy paste. Stack a colander or strainer over a bowl. Pour the liquidized tomatoes into the strainer/colander. The bowl will capture tomato juice. The strainer will capture the marinara. In a bowl, stir in seasonings and olive oil. Can be canned or poured into a glass container and frozen or refrigerated.

Simple Ones: Homemade Applesauce

Simple Recipes

Homemade Applesauce

You'll Never Go Back for Store-bought

Approx 45- 50 mins

5 apples
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/3 cup water
Stevia or honey optional

Peel the apples, cut and core them. Dice them into about 3 pieces per quarter apple. It doesn't have to be exact. Drop into pot on stove. Pour in 1/3 cup water and cover. The water prevents the chances of the apples burning to the bottom of the pot. Reduce apples down on medium low heat (4 if your stove goes by numbers) stirring occasionally. Take a potato masher or fork, mush around. It takes around 25-30mins to get nice soft mushy applesauce. If there is remaining water in the bottom, remove the lid to evaporate off the residual moisture. When it seems to be an appealing mushiness to you add the spices, blend well. 

This applesauce is naturally sweet and should a healthy tint. The texture is more thick and chunkier, unlike the uniform glop they sell you at the store. You can can it up or pour into a glass container and refrigerate. It does keep well. 

13 May 2012

Recipes VI: Tofu Nuggets

Non-Chicken Chicken Nuggets

Recipe by my lovely husbandit, Mr. B.

There are a couple ways you can make this depending on your dietary preferences/needs. 

Non-vegetarian Method

Approx 3.25 hours

1 pre-package container of extra firm organic tofu pressed for 2 hours
2 cups chicken broth or water w/ chicken bouillon
Couple dashes of poultry seasoning-fresh or dried
2.5 cups of chicken breader or flour with spices & salt in a ziplock

After pressing water from tofu. Boil chicken broth/bouillon with spices. Turn off heat and lower tofu square in. Let tofu sit in chicken liquid mix for 1 hr to absorb the chicken flavor. 

Slice tofu lengthwise then into cubes 3x3 inch.

Gently shake tofu cubes in ziplock bag of breader. Not too vigorously. 

In a bubbling hot skillet of oil on the stove (of can use deep fryer), gently place the cubes in the oil. Approx 2 mins/side. Or until golden brown. They cook quickly.

Vegetarian Method

Press tofu square for 2 hours.
Instead of using chicken bouillon stock, can use vegan or vegetable bouillon stock and desired seasonings. Or none at all, for a faster preparation. 

Gently shake tofu cubes in ziplock bag of breader.

Cook them the same way in a hot skillet of oil on the stove (of can use deep fryer), gently place the cubes in the oil. Approx 2 mins/side. Or until golden brown.

They're really tasty with dumpling sauce or by themselves. 

For a healthier approach: Can bake them in a toaster oven 25-30 minutes on a sil pat or silicon baking sheet. 

Recipes V: Old Fashion Cranberry Walnut Bread

Cranberry Walnut Bread

An Old Family Favorite

This recipe has been in my family for a long time. Its so delicious, moist and tart, who can say no? Its been used at family gatherings, fall festivals, holidays, and gifts. I've changed the recipe slightly to make it more health conscious.

1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 white sugar, brown sugar, or agave nectar
2 organic eggs
2 cups flour (1 white wheat/ 1 whole wheat or any combo you desire)
3/4 cup buttermilk (easily made by squeezing half a lemon into the milk)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon himalayan pink salt
1 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350. Mix the wet ingredients first with the mixer. Hold the cranberries and walnuts till last. Then add in the dry ingredients. Hand stir/fold in the walnuts and cranberries. Avoid over-stirring to prevent the batter from turning completely pink. Pour into 9x5 buttered and floured pan. Bake 50-55 mins. Makes 1 loaf.

This recipe can easily be doubled and tripled. I like to buy lots of bags of cranberries when they come out in stores around October and November. Its so ingrained in me now, I have to buy them and I always buy 2 at a time. Freeze them. Around spring or summer you can whip up a loaf and spread with melting butter and remember just why you love this recipe so much!


( Just look at those beautiful organic eggs...sigh)

12 May 2012

Recipes IV: Simple Homemade Bagels

The Best Homemade Bagels


The link above has the full illustrated recipe on how to make these awesome bagels.

As always I cannot follow a recipe. I see so many possibilities for subsitutions. I typically make my bagels predominantly whole wheat with wheat germ, ground flax seed, a dash of garlic powder and 1.5 tsp of crushed garlic. Sometimes cinnamon honey wheat bagels. I've even added in dried craisins and honey. This is a great foundational recipe for building on. So let your little heart take you where want to munch. These bagels take less than 2 hours to complete.

Yields 8

2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water (115-117 degrees) with the sugar dissolve in it
3 1/2 cups spelt, unbleached, white/wheat or/and whole wheat
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1-3 tsp of vital wheat gluten (gives it good rise and texture)
Additional tasty bits

Proof the yeast well. Mix into dry ingredients. Put aside for 10 minutes for the wheat gluten strands to form. (A good time to clean up the intial mess) Knead the bread dough well. In a greased bowl, cover and let rise. After the first rise cycle cut into 8 slices. Shape into a ball. Punch your finger thru and make the bagel hole. Let rise for about 10 mins again or until your water starts boiling in the water pot. Then drop a bagel into the boiling (not a rigorous boil) and let float/cook for 1 minute for each side. Take out, put on a silpat on a cookie sheet. Bake 425 for 20-25 minutes.

Recipes III: Non Dairy Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint-Dark Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Good recipe if you're lactose intolerant

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Ice Cream Maker Time: Approximately 20-25 minutes
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • ½ cup agave nectar
  • ¼ cup fresh mint or 1tsp peppermint extract
  • ½ cup 62% dark chocolate chunks.
  • 1/4 cup powdered cocoa

Place coconut milk, agave, and mint in a blender. Blend for about 1 minute until the mint is fully incorporated into the mixture. Add chocolate chips and pulse for about 20 seconds.

Pour liquid into your ice cream machine bowl and churn for about 20-25 minutes or according to manufacturer's instructions

Recipes II: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1/2 cup agave nectar
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into large chunks (can be frozen or fresh)
3 ½ cups rhubarb, cut into ½-inch slices (can be frozen or fresh)
Refer to crust recipe in Recipes: A String of Pearls I. Add little more flour of choice and 1 or 2 tbsp of butter. Add more water as needed.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, allspice, salt and orange zest. Add the lemon juice and fruit, stirring gently to combine.
Make a solid bottom crust and cut off about a fist size, set aside. Then roll out in a circular form, large enough to drape over the pie plate. Fold in half, then half again. This makes the transfer to the pie plate easier. Lastly, put into pie plate. Take the remaining fist size dough and roll out into a long rectangle. Cut into 1.5 inch wide strips. Fill the pie with the strawberry-rhubarb mixture. Apply the strips of crust like a lattice across the top. Make the pie edge ripply using either a fork's edge or fingers. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. If crust is getting a little too "tan" cover with foil.

Recipes I: Chicken Handpies

Chicken Potpies in Hand Pie Form

In a deep skillet, heat 1 cup of chicken broth, 1/4 cup olive oil. Cut 2 chicken breast into 1 or 2 inch cubes. Drop into skillet set on medium low heat (4, if your stove goes by numbers). After the chicken if cooked add chopped celery, carrots, and frozen peas. You can control how many vegetables you want. Add 1tbsp parsley flakes, poultry seasoning, and sage. Feel free to use fresh herbs. Stir well, cover with lid. Now for the most tricky part-the damn crust. This recipe from Epicurean Mom's blog works very well.
Pie Crust

For Crust:

1 3/4 cups spelt, white/wheat, unbleached and/or wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 tbsp room temp butter
1/3-1/4 cup cold water

I do recommend putting down wax paper and rolling it out with wax paper on top. Flour it occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick. Then cut into 6x6 inch squares. Add some flour to the skillet, a little less than 1/4 cup to thicken the filling. Spoon 3-4 tbsps worth off-center on to the square crusts. Fold and fork-seal the seam (looks like the edge of a pie crust). Bake for 22-25 mins in oven on 350. Let cool and now you have beautiful homemade hot pocket-esque hand pies.