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I apologize for the radio-silence this week – I’ve had my head in packing boxes and trying to get things done for our move. That, and getting the final warranty repairs on our car before we drove out of our warranty… I think we’re less than 30 miles from 100,000 miles, and so it was imperative to get things done before it expired.  :)

Next week, however, we’ll be having a week of recipes – named Recipe Carnival.  :)  I’ll have different posts on ready-to-make mixes (yes, I actually DO use them from time-to-time), Maurice salad, homemade hot dog buns, and more.  And here’s the part I’m excited about – if you have favourite recipes that you love (especially for the hot summer months), you can share them in the comments section of each post.  I promise to try them out and feature them, if you haven’t already featured them on your own blog/site.

I’m getting excited – I’ve got photos edited & ready to go and in between painting walls and packing boxes, I’ll be starting the Recipe Carnival and posting new dishes that we’ve tried, snarfed, and loved.  Stay tuned!  :)

I remember when I was a little girl, cereal manufacturers advertised “fortified with vitamins and minerals!” in their wares.  One manufacturer even claimed to have 100% of recommended daily allowance in their flakes. We bought it and ate it because it was Milk and Cerealphoto © 2007 Steven Wilke | more info (via: Wylio)
there; we had very little understanding of nutrition in our family past a straight caloric count.  We didn’t consider things like fibre, protein, whole foods, or anything else that Mark and I now do in our family.  *shrug*  My parents did the best they could with what information they had available.

Now we know about things like bioavailability – your food’s nutrients and their  ability to be absorbed by your body – and how important it is to eat things that have raw nutrients for your body to use.

Enter this little (disgusting) science experiment where we get to see exactly what kind of iron is in fortified cereal.  While this video shows a masked box of Total cereal, it can also be done with any “iron enriched/fortified” cereal.  I’ll have comments below and a bonus recipe to make breakfasts both healthy, tasty, and easy.  :)

Delightful, eh? Yeah.  Blech.  I will still buy an occasional box of organic cereal to munch on, but most often, it doesn’t get eaten much.  I have some tasty flax cereal with raisins hanging about – I’m more likely to make flax muffins with it, but I’m okay with that.

Okay, so now you’re grossed out and a bit wigged out, potentially thinking about checking the boxes in your pantry when you’re done reading blog posts.  What will you feed your family?  Never fear.  I have an easy recipe for you that has whole foods, nutritive oils, and fibre.  No iron filings needed; these breakfast cookies are equivalent to a bowl of oatmeal and I promise you, kids and husbands alike love them.  My son’s eyes POPPED when I asked him if he wanted a cookie for breakfast.  Seriously.  You’d have thought that I offered to buy out FAO Schwartz of all existing LEGO sets.  :)

Breakfast Cookies
  • 1 c. butter, melted (I often use 1/2 c. butter + 1/2 c. coconut oil)
  • ¾ c. honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. salt (I like Real Salt)
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk (milk or kefir can also be used)
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 c. rolled oats (NOT steel-cut oats)
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips

Mix wet ingredients, add flour in 1/3 c. at a time. then add oats, raisins, and chocolate chips.  Scoop large (really big!) spoonfuls of batter on to baking tray, bake at 350F for 18 minutes.  Cool on a rack and store in a container in the fridge, between waxed paper pieces.  Yields 12-15 cookies per batch.

Way better than iron filings, eh?  :)

 

Okay, so the temperature is climbing here…already.  While my friends back in Michigan are dealing with a late-season snowfall (hopefully their last!), I’m trying to figure out how to keep the electric bill low and still stay cool. What a difference 2000 miles makes!

Mark and Brendan are pretty non-picky eaters – they generally scarf down whatever I make.  Fortunately for them, I don’t blow it very often.  😉  But I’m now on the hunt for cooler recipes that won’t heat up my kitchen in the summer and won’t make us break a sweat while we’re eating.  My favourite food in the entire world is soup, but I’ve never really found a cold soup that I like.  I think I like soup because it’s warm and a comfort food to me, so cold soup is just… meh.  I might try some this summer just to see if my tastes have changed over the years, but it likely won’t be a regular dish.

And salads rock, but I typically go for pasta salads when the weather changes and I need to branch out.  Enter last night’s fare:  a mock-up of Applebee’s Asian Chicken Salad.

Mark declared it delish and nearly licked the plate clean.  We were both satisfied and not hungry later, which was a bonus. Dinner salads are an art, in my opinion, and need to have the correct proportions of protein to roughage to make them filling.  Which makes me think that I need to find my recipe for Maurice Salad, a dish that Michiganders know from the Hudson’s restaurant.  Hmmm….

Anyhow, I cheated a bit because I was crunched for time and used canned chicken.  In the future, I will plan a Newman's Own: Low Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing bit better and pan-sear chicken for this salad.  But this also worked.  The dressing was Newman’s Own Sesame Ginger Dressing, although in the future I will likely fashion something after my mom’s recipe (which is included below).

I also sugar-toasted the almonds for the salad – if you’ve never tried this, it’s a MUST. It’s easy and adds a delightful crunch and slight sweetness to the salad that’s heavy on tangy spice (from the dressing).

I layered the ingredients last night; in the future, I will dress the lettuce and chicken chunks together, plate that, dot with mandarin orange slices, almonds, sesame seeds, and crunchy chow mein noodles.  I think the dressing would be better distributed this way, and the add-ons will add a texture and flavour that’s outside the dressing.

Because there are layers to the salad, the directions are also layered:

Sugar Toasted Almonds
  • ½ c. sliced or slivered almonds
  • 3 T. cane sugar

Use a small skillet and turn the heat to medium.  Place the dry sugar and the almonds in the pan, stirring frequently as they warm.  You’ll eventually see the sugar begin to liquefy from the heat – stir rapidly at this point, covering all the almonds in the sticky sweetness.  If you let this go too long, you will burn the almonds and sugar – and that’s just not tasty.  So watch carefully.  When the almonds are coated and you see a small amount of light brown colouring on them, remove from heat and cool on a plate.  They will crunch-up as they cool.

Asian Ginger  Salad Dressing

If you choose not to use Newman’s Own, this is a very tasty alternative

  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. sesame oil (the darker, the better)
  • 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T. cane sugar
  • 1/2 t. grated ginger
  • 6 T. bland oil – olive oil is great if you have one that’s nearly flavourless

Shake these ingredients in a cruet or mix with a stick blender for better emulsion – it will separate eventually, though.

Asian Salad, ala Applebee’s
  • your choice of lettuce – I like green or red leaf lettuce
  • 1-2 cans of mandarin oranges (or pineapple also works), chilled
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, pan seared and diced, chilled
  • sugar-toasted almonds
  • crunchy chow mein noodles
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame-ginger dressing

Toss the lettuce (roughly torn) and chicken with the dressing and plate portions.  On top of each salad, dot with your choice of fruit (orange slices or pineapple), sesame seeds, almonds, and chow mein noodles.  Serve cold – simple as that!  :)

I’ll hunt down my Maurice Salad recipe, make it (just to make sure it’s still tasty, because I’m self-sacrificial like that!), and provide photos and the recipe in the future.

Bon appetit!

This recipe originated with my friend Valerie, but has been tweaked by me.

We try to eat meatless at least once a week.  Partly for ease of recipe/cooking, partly for keeping our grocery budget modest, and partly for the health benefit that legumes provide.  This week it might be twice – it depends on what I come up with for tonight’s “brinner” (breakfast dinner) that we’ll scarf down before heading out the door to lead ReKindle.

Regardless, there are only so many times that my family will happily scarf down black beans and rice – or pintos and rice.  I started working lentils in, but I have to figure out a way to “de-gas” them like I do beans.  (Maybe a simple soak would work… I’ve  gotta research that one.)  Enter Valerie’s recipe – it was heavy in Black beansphoto © 2009 Lisa Risager | more info (via: Wylio)
onions (which we cannot digest), but my tweaking has removed the stuff we can’t eat and replaced some of the ingredients with things in my food storage.

The recipe is very unique in that I never expected orange juice in a black bean dish.  It’s delightful and adds a unique flavour that I’ve yet to find anywhere else in vegetarian/Mexican cooking.  We used Trader Joe’s organic blue corn tortilla chips, but if you wanted to use actual tostadas, that would also work beautifully.  We found the chips (crushed) were perfect for kid-friendly eating and less messy for us, too.

Remember to soak your beans and discard the soak-water – or if you use canned beans, to rinse them very well.  I really like the softened texture of soaked and cooked black beans vs. ones that come from a can, but to each her own, right?  This meal is chocker-block full of legume protein, great flavour, and fibre, so you’ll be full quickly and stay full for a long time.  :)

Black Bean Tostadas
  • Crushed blue corn chips (or whole tostadas – your choice)
  • ½ lb of black beans, soaked and cooked to your desired texture (equiv. 2 cans of pre-prepared black beans)
  • 3 T. coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. cumin powder (or to taste)
  • 1½ t. ground coriander seeds (check the ethnic aisle in the Indian section for these seeds)
  • hot sauce to taste (green pepper sauce is awesome here!)
  • 1 T. sea salt (I like Real Salt)
  • 1 can of seasoned tomatoes
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • toppings – lettuce, shredded cheese (always good!), diced fresh tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, etc.

Prepare your beans, whatever that looks like.  For me, it’s soaking, pressure-cooking, and draining black beans.  In a large stock pot, heat the coconut oil and toss in your garlic over medium heat, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add spices (cumin, coriander seeds, hot sauce, salt) and combine well.  Add in canned tomatoes and prepared black beans. Mashing the black beans a bit with a potato masher or the back of a spoon adds a great texture to the final product.  Stir in orange juice, simmering on low and stirring to prevent burning in your pan.  Remove from heat & cover.

Prepare your sides for this dish.  I placed a handful of blue corn chips in each bowl, crushing them with my hands, and then topped that with the black beans, the cheese/lettuce/etc., and served it up with a dollop of sour cream.  If you’d like, you can add avocados to the sides and include that – I have texture issues with avocados, so I leave them out.  Serve with a good wheat beer (if you imbibe) – it’s absolutely delish!

I’ve been meaning to try a recipe for baked oatmeal for I don’t know how long.  At least since my friend Misti mentioned it as a tasty breakfast option.  My brain is full of these tidbits – someone mentions something or gives me an idea, but then due to life and schedules, it doesn’t actually get tried/implemented/experimented until a while later. Someday my life will be simpler and I’ll be able to try new stuff out immediately, but that will probably be after Brendan’s done with school & is out on his own.  😉

Regardless, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of the recipe – maybe a bit more loft and “cake-like texture,” but then again, there is no flour in it, and that’s generally where cake-like texture comes from.  It’s delicious, easy, and allows for tons of variations on a theme.  This batch used frozen black raspberries from my egg-guy’s garden last year… next time I’ll likely use blueberries, bananas, strawberries, or apples (finely diced).  I love that I can use food-storage items to make this – the oats, the honey/sugar, and the fruit are all food-storage worthy.  I will even try using freeze-dried fruit next time; I’m sure it will turn out delightfully. :) The original recipe used regular milk and a fraction of the cinnamon (we like cinnamon!), and I’ve changed out some of the sweetener to reduce the brown sugar content and use honey in its place.

The resulting breakfast food is easy to slice and take on the run, but is even better when warmed slightly and drizzled with a touch of maple syrup.  It’s not overly sweet (in this case, the raspberries make sure of that!), and it’s completely filling. Yesterday I made it until about 1230p for lunch after eating a piece of this with some coffee at about 745a.  I was delighted with the longevity the oats give me – I was able to work for hours and not be interrupted by the pesky need for food.  :)

Baked Oatmeal
  • 3 c oatmeal (I use quick oats, but regular oats would work fine as well)
  • 2 T cinnamon
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. sea salt (I like Real Salt)
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • ½ c. honey
  • 1 ½ c. cultured buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ c. coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c.  fruit; raspberries, blueberries,  mashed bananas, apples, etc.
  • ½ cup of pecans (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together, add to wet ingredients in mixing bowl.  Combine thoroughly (I let the Bosch do the work). Allow to rest for 5 minutes to increase loft (from buttermilk/baking powder combination), pour in to well-greased 9×13″ pan and bake at 350F for  30-40 minutes. Center should be firm and poke-able just like a cake; top should be lightly browned.

Cut in pieces and serve warm (or cold) – it’s especially delightful with a pat of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.

As we dig further and further in to a self-sufficient, food-storage inspired lifestyle, I’m always on the hunt for new things to make that I either a) don’t want to spend the money on at the store, or b) don’t like the GMO or added ingredients in the store-bought variety.  Happily, granola fits the bill on all criteria.  It’s easy to make, uses food storage supplies, tastes really good, is stupid-expensive at the store, and has undesirable ingredients when it’s store-bought.

I made granola bars last year and love them – but finding the right proportions on a loose granola was a little trickier for me.  I’m pretty good with substituting things, and although I used a recipe from Food Storage Made Easy as my base, my actual recipe really doesn’t look very much like the original.  Funny how that happens sometimes! :)  We love this to snack on or in my Greek-style yogurt (regular goat-milk yogurt that is strained for 12 hours).

It’s easy for me to burn my granola – I’d love to blame the dumb oven in this apartment completely, but I think lowering my second-bake time from 20 minutes to 10 is the way to go.  :)

Another trick I use is to plump up the dried fruit (raisins, cherries, cranberries – your choice) in heated, distilled water before using them.  When I do this, I don’t end up with little hard pieces of charcoal that once were raisins – they actually look and taste like raisins!  Adding the moisture to the raisins first insures that you’re not dehydrating them too much in the oven.  It’s a worthwhile step and is easy to cover the raisins with water and simmer them for a bit before adding them to the raw granola.

Sue’s Homestyle Granola
  • 4 c. of quick oats (or regular – I have quick oats stored, though)
  • 2 c. of chopped almonds
  • 1 c. roasted sunflower seeds (this adds a certain YUM to the finished product)
  • 1 c. raisins/dried cherries/craisins (your choice), rehydrated & drained
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. Real Salt
  • 3/4 c. honey

Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer and begin adding in the wet items – the raisins, coconut oil, vanilla, and honey.  Allow the mixer to do the blending until everything looks evenly incorporated.  Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 20 min. at 350F.  Stir at the 20 minute-mark (scraping the tray and turning the granola over as you do) and stick the tray back in for another 10 minutes.  Remove tray from oven and stir; allow it to cool completely before bagging it up and watching it disappear.  :)  This recipe makes about 2 pounds of granola, and if it gets soft from the moisture in the air, laying it on a tray at 200F for 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time to put the crunch back in to it.  :)

Bon apetit!

 

Okay, so it’s Tuesday and time for a Tasty Tuesday post, but this one isn’t edible.  It does, however, make fantastic play-doh that doesn’t smell even remotely as bad as the commercial stuff.  I seriously cannot stand the store-bought stuff – the scent makes me crazy and God-forbid it gets on my hands… it’s nearly impossible to wash off!

That said, you can leave this dough unscented and uncoloured, or use unsweetened packets of Kool-Aid™ to scent and colour it.  It’s easy, cheap, and fun to play with.  :)

Sweet-Smelling Play-Doh
  • 2 c. flour
  • 4 T. cream of tartar
  • 2 T. coconut oil, melted
  • 2 c. water
  • your choice of unsweetened Kool-Aid packets™ for colours & scents

Combine the dry ingredients in a saucepan and stir well.  Add oil, drink packet mix (for multiple colours, you’ll want multiple batches), and water – mix well.

Stir & cook over medium heat until the dough is done and is no longer sticky.  It isn’t hard to tell when it’s ready – it will look like regular play-doh.  Allow this to cool slightly before kneading – then knead on counter until dough is smooth, elastic-y, and uniform.

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