Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Banana Muffins

My son has been begging for banana muffins since last week. I made blueberry muffins one day, and he liked them a lot, but said that banana muffins would be even better because of how much he likes bananas. I don't exactly have a recipe for banana muffins, but I was able to adapt my mom's banana bread recipe, with a twist.

4 bananas
2 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups flour (I use fresh milled soft wheat, but am going to experiment with some different grains next time)
1 tsp baking soda

Mix together liquids first, then add flour and baking soda. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Then I topped with a crumb topping of hemp seed coated with cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes. It made 18 muffins.

Finally Successful Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been having a horrible time trying to make chocolate chip cookies over the last year. I want to make them substituting better ingredients than processed sugar, shortening, etc. For some reason, this is the one recipe that I could never get to come out right. The cookies would end up running all over the pan. I could make them into bars, and it would taste good, but I just couldn't get the cookies to come out right. At Christmas time, I made a discovery about substituting coconut oil for butter. You have to use less. I've also learned the same about honey. When you substitute honey for sugar, you can usually get by with about half the amount. I finally got the nerve to try again. The dough is much stickier than what you might be used to, but the cookies came out perfectly. Here is what I came up with.

1.5 cups coconut oil
1 cup Sucanat (evaporated cane juice)
3/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp water
4 eggs
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips

Mix the first six liquid ingredients, then add the flour and baking soda. Add chocolate chips last. Bake at 350F for anywhere from 8-14 minutes depending on oven, pan, etc. I bake on stone, so it takes a little longer, but comes out much better. I baked mine for 12 minutes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Peace and Comfort

I made it a goal this year to share a Bible verse a day on my facebook status. However, today I felt a great need to share more than that. I was lying in bed this morning, not sleeping. I felt a heavy burden on my heart for two specific people. I had a bunch of verses running through my head. I have no idea whether those two will read this or not, but I do know that God can use this to inspire who needs it.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8

Wherever you are. Whatever you are going through. God loves you. You see, I know how much I love you and care about you. I love you so much that I was awake at 5am praying for you. God loves you so much more than that. He was willing to die for you. Think about the person/people you love most in this world. If you have children, think about them. Think about how much you love them. Now, multiply that love by the biggest number you can think of. God loves you more than that. Unconditionally.

"The LORD looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one." Psalms 14:2-3

Look at that word ALL. That means me. That means you. That means your neighbor. That means the nicest person you know. That means the murderer on death row. That means the most innocent little child. ALL means everyone.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23-24

There it is again, the word ALL. This time it goes a little further. Yes, it says we ALL messed up. But now, it says we ALL have grace. We ALL have redemption. How do we find this grace and redemption? We ask. Yes, it really is that simple.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13

What does grace and redemption really mean right now? How does it apply to our daily life?

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-6

Let me break that down into a practical, real life example. My 8yo son recently took a fall right on his front teeth. We went through three weeks of a dental roller coaster ride. The results were that one of his front teeth needed to be pulled. The other one needed a root canal. Yes, they are the permanent teeth. This is a serious injury that will affect him the rest of his life. If you are a mom, you know that the worst kind of injury you can have is an injury to your child. Ten years ago, I passed out and basically broke my whole jaw and a few teeth. That was much easier to deal with than this situation with my son. Through it all, I felt nothing but peace. God gave me the strength every day to keep going. Yes, it was frustrating being passed around from one dental professional to another. However, because I had the peace and comfort of Jesus with me, I could make it through. We can "woulda, shoulda, coulda" all day long, but no matter what we think or try to do we can't change the past. We can only receive forgiveness and forgive. Then, we must move forward.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

I thought I had posted this before on here, but I guess not. I started my "What's for Dinner?" series, but then got caught up in a dental nightmare. We are back to "normal" this week, so I will need to start posting again. This is what we are having this evening. I absolutely love Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana Soup, but shouldn't really eat it for several ingredients on the list. Here is my version.

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper use only if a spicier flavor is desired
1 pound Italian Sausage (see below)
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
about a gallon of broth (I am making some veggie broth in the crock pot right now. It should be ready by the time I go to make dinner.)
2 large potatoes scrubbed, and cubed (or 4 small potatoes)
1/2 cup milk (I am using coconut milk today)
1 bunch kale lightly chopped (do not add stalks)

In a large pot, add broth and bring to boil on medium high heat. Add potatoes and kale, cover, and cook on Medium High. While cooking prepare sausage as directed below. Finally, add sausage mixture to pot and continue cooking until potatoes are soft. Total cooking time should be about 30 minutes.

Directions for sausage:

I use one pound of ground turkey. To that I add:
1 clove garlic
some sea salt
a bunch of black pepper
a bit of crushed red pepper flakes
some oregano
(sorry, I don't measure it)
Mush it all together then brown it, as you would hamburger.

Next, add the onions and garlic and saute for about 5-10 minutes.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Dinner

It's Friday!!! Today was kind of a crazy day in our little world. We had an all day outing for dental chaos. It was great fun!? The wise thing to do would've been to plan ahead to throw something in the crock pot, premake something, or plan something quick and simple. I did not do any of that. I didn't really want to think about the dental appointments, so I didn't really want to plan ahead. Plus, it's Friday. I decided, on the way home, that we would stop at the store and get some fried chicken. Yup, you read that right, fried chicken. I told you, I'm not perfect. I was tempted to get some chips or french fries to go with it, but decided to only be half bad. I made some mashed potatoes to go with the chicken. Well, I guess you would have to call it potatoes/cauliflower. I steam and puree cauliflower, then mash it in with the potatoes. I use a bit of almond milk and coconut oil. We also had some fresh oranges for dessert. My mom brought over some oranges yesterday from her neighbor's tree. It was very yummy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken and Bok Choy

I wasn't sure what tonight's dinner was going to taste like. It was definitely what you'd call experimental. I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually pretty good. I had to find something to do with my bok choy that I got in my organic goodies box this week. When I found something that could go in the crock pot, that was a bonus. The crock pot has got to be one of the most fabulous inventions ever. The only thing I had to make extra was a side of rice.

Chicken and Bok Choy:
  • bok choy - chopped (I used one whole head, it was large, not baby bok choy. You could use baby too, you'd just have to use more of it.)
  • 1 large green pepper - chopped, sliced, or diced
  • 1 pound chicken breasts (I actually used 1.65 lbs, or 3 breasts)
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (I used turkey broth, because that's what I had in my freezer from Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys. Vegetable broth would work too.)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp red curry paste (see below)

Chop and throw the bok choy and bell pepper into the crock pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and arrange on top of the green stuff.

In a bowl, mix broth, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger and curry paste. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If you get started late, you can cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Curry Paste:

I was going to just buy curry paste. Honestly, I wasn't quite sure what curry was. I got to the store, and read the ingredients on the jar. That's what I do. I don't count calories, but I do read ingredients. I was surprised to find that it was really just tomato puree and a blend of spices. I could have looked online to find a recipe, and I'm sure could have found one. However, I had some surprise guests this morning and just wanted to get done. I remembered the best I could from the jar at the store, and just kind of made it up. I ended up with slightly more than a Tbsp when I was done. I took about 1.5 Tbsp of tomato puree, 1 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1/4 tsp chili powder. I'm not sure if it tasted like curry paste or not, because I've never used curry paste before. It was good, whatever it tasted like.

Coconut Rice:

This is the part of the meal I was really unsure about. I've never cooked rice in anything but water before. Two cans of coconut milk seemed like a lot of liquid for one cup of brown rice. I cooked it anyway, and prayed that it would turn out. It did, for the most part. Only a little bit of the rice stuck to the bottom of the sauce pan and overcooked. The rest of the rice was just fine. It was more moist than plain rice, though. It really was almost like a rice pudding, but not quite that liquidy.

My 12yo devoured the rice and wanted seconds. He wasn't a big fan of the chicken but did eat it. The 8yo had a pear. I can't wait until he outgrows this phase of not liking everything. Hubby and I really liked all of it. I am not a big fan of cooked green stuff, but the bok choy was quite tasty. The rice in coconut milk was really sweet, and almost could be eaten for dessert.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fried Rice

Fried rice is a very versatile meal. It's cheap and easy. It's a great way to use up leftovers. It's also great for nights like tonight. You see, I am out of meat. I found a really great recipe for chicken to go with my bok choy, but it is a crock pot recipe. I didn't find it until 3:00 in the afternoon. We have places to be tonight. I decided to wait until morning to head to the store for chicken. That's what lead me to fried rice. It has protein without meat.

How to make fried rice:
  • Take one cup of uncooked rice and cook it. The thing I love about rice is that you can put one cup into the pot and it's more like 3-4 cups when it is done cooking. Rice is a very frugal food. I use organic brown rice. I have read conflicting information as to which rice is best for you. I've had no issues with the brown rice, so I'm sticking with it. Also, the rice can be cooked ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a quick throw together dinner.
  • Meanwhile, I take out my large stir fry skillet and heat about 2 Tbsp of coconut oil.
  • This is where you get creative and throw in whatever you have on hand. Tonight I will use about 1/2 of a chopped red onion, some green beans, and some green bell pepper (I think I have a half pepper to use up).
  • Add the cooked rice and mix well.
  • Then comes the fun part. Move everything off to the side and add 2-3 eggs. I usually beat them in a bowl first. You are going to kind of scramble the eggs a bit before mixing everything together.
  • Heat until warm. I usually do not completely cook the veggies.

It's also fun to throw in leftover chicken or turkey. If you eat pork, you could add that. I recommend you don't eat pork though. Don't believe me? Read up on it. I even used lamb one time. That was really good. Whatever you do, have fun with it. I don't think I've ever made fried rice the same way twice.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taco Tuesday

Everyone keeps asking me what I eat. I am going to try to post daily (or as close as I can get) for a couple of weeks to inspire you. Today was Taco Tuesday. My family loves tacos. Well, except for my 8yo. He only eats the tortillas. I gave him an apple with his tortillas. He is at that age where all his food has to be just so, and he will only eat about 10 things. I just do the best I can to fill him up. I know he will outgrow this stage. His brother did. Now my 12yo is on the see food diet. You know, the one where you see food and eat it. Though he still has a bit of an aversion to green vegetables. We are still working on that. What does Taco Tuesday consist of? Three things for which you need a recipe. The rest you can just add what you like.

Taco Meat:
For my family, I use two pounds of meat. That ensures we are all full, and a little extra for lunch the next day. Tonight it was beef. I usually use ground turkey. One time, hubby even ran some chicken breasts through the meat grinder attachment for my stand mixer. That was quite tasty. Just brown the meat. When the meat is browned, you are ready to add your seasoning. Don't drain all the fat, it will give your tacos a better texture.

Seasoning for the Meat:
I make my own. Most commercial season mixes contain some form of MSG, which should be avoided. Actually, it took me a while to find a good chili powder that didn't contain MSG. I finally found a good organic chili powder from a co-op. Wal-mart has some in the Latin section that are just dried chiles. If you use that, I would suggest using a bit less and adding more cumin. My recipe is as follows for 2 lbs of meat: 1/4 cup chili powder, 1 Tbsp cumin, 1 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 to 1 cup water. Mix all ingredients together before adding to the meat. One time I tried just adding each ingredient to the meat, it turned into a runny mess. About the flour, do not use whole wheat flour from the store. There is no reason other than taste. It does not taste good. I use my fresh ground wheat. If you don't have that available to you, go with an all purpose flour. I wouldn't recommend that for anything else. We all know white processed flour is not good for us.

This is really a preference thing. I will post what we do, but you will need to adjust the recipe to your taste (especially the heat of the peppers).
  • 3 Tomatoes (the bigger, the better)
  • 2 bell peppers (any color will do, but I like to switch it up to make it look pretty)
  • 5 jalapenos (this used to be really hot for me, but I've worked up to it. If you are not a spicy lover, start with 2)
  • handful of cilantro
  • juice of one lemon and one lime
  • garlic to taste (I think I usually use about 3 cloves)
  • one onion (I usually use white or yellow, but I really like red onion)

It's not hard to make. I pretty much just chop everything up and throw it in a bowl. I prefer to use my food chopper for the onion and bell peppers. I use the food processor for the tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro. For the garlic, I just use the press. A professional chef, I am not.

The Tortillas:

Yes, I even make those from scratch. Though, it would be much easier if I had a tortilla press. I just use a rolling pin and my pancake griddle. I cannot share the recipe, because it is from a book. I did not alter it in any way. Visit here to view the cookbook. This happens to be the same book where I get one of my bread recipes, and much more. This is also one of the sources I use to order my grain.

Tonight, I ate my tacos on the shell and threw in a bit of lettuce, spinach, and broccoli slaw. Sometimes, I'll just make it a salad and throw in a bunch more stuff. I like corn, kidney beans, tortilla chips, or whatever is in my refrigerator.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year Recipes

This year, I would like to take some time to post more recipe and meal ideas on my blog. Many of my friends keep asking me, "What do you eat?" I want to be able to share some of those things with you.

Really, I eat the same things I ate before. Now, I just have to substitute some ingredients and make everything from scratch. I think the best way I can help you, is for you to tell me what you eat. I want to know your family's favorite meals. I will make it my mission to come up with a recipe that I would eat.

A few notes:
  1. I am not a doctor.
  2. The things that are healthy for me, may not be the best option for you.
  3. I am just a mom trying to feed my family the best food I can, based on the information I have at the time.
  4. I am not a chef, but spend a lot of time watching them on TV. I find it very helpful to understand the science behind cooking.
  5. If your favorite meal is lasagna, I will probably not be able to come up with a recipe for that. You may just have to use your recipe, but limit it to once a month.

There you have it. Tell me your favorite meals. Tell your friends to post their favorite meals. Oh, and not just meals, but desserts too. I love to bake. Even more than that, I love eating what I bake. Maybe you shouldn't send me desserts.