Sunday, December 30, 2012

Grain-Free Banana Nut Muffins

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These are my favorite breakfast to make when ever I stumble upon this bag of bananas at my local grocery store.  They pack all of the single bananas up and sell them for $1.49, sometimes it's even organic ones!  These are grain-free, sugar-free, filled with protein and good fats that will keep you satisfied until lunch.  On top of that, they are quick to whip up and even freeze well.  I ususally quadruple the recipe and then have one breakfast plus 3 more in the freezer.  Each batch makes 1 dozen regular size muffins, or 6 large, or 24 mini-muffins.  
Ingredients:

1 cup of almond flour
3/4 cup of natural peanut butter (you could use another nut butter)
3 medium ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda

Mix all ingredients in a mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer (in that case you might want to smash the bananas by hand first).  It is a rather runny batter.


Generously grease your muffin tin.  This is my favorite product to use.  It is made from Orgainc, Expeller Pressed Palm Oil, which by the way is a medium chain fatty acid that your body can quickly convert to energy.  If you want more info on that you should read Eat Fat Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.



Fill all of your tin evenly with all of the batter.  If you are doing multiple batches here's what mine looked like, a little more than half full....I am obviously a super-sloppy muffin filler!



 Bake at 350 for 15-24 minutes.  The time will vary based on what type of tin you are using.  Mini-muffins are more like 12 minutes.  These large muffins took 20 in my oven.  Just keep an eye on them when they brown around the edges and look firm in the middle insert a toothpick or fork and see if it come out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn onto a cooling rack.



Cool or enjoy warm.  They seem to taste less peanut-buttery when they cool and all of the flavors sort of meld together.  These make a great breakfast with fruit and milk, or for lunch with a hard-boiled egg and veggies or on the side of a salad.



They are good enough to consider a dessert and good enough for you to not!  Enjoy!!!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

Shared on Real Food Wednesday, Monday Mania, Wheat Free Wednesday, Fight Back Friday

Featured on Wheat Free Wednesday





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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Detox Soup

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I am ready for some real food, good-bye fudge, and gingerbread men...it was fun!  I don't know about you, but I can tell when my system is out of whack and I am 100% positive the culprit is sugar!  I use the most unrefined sugar I can get my hands on, but the truth of the matter is, we were not made to eat this stuff!  Not on a regular basis anyway.
So we are bidding farewell to the sweets and eating a lot of cleansing foods this week.  Here's the soup I made.  It is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, heart healthy, high fiber, grain-free, pro-immune system, and pro-detox!!  It's perfect to bridge from Christmas treats to New Year's Resolutions!!






Ingredients:

1/2 gallon of beef bone broth
1 small onion, diced
1 small head of cabbage
15-16 oz of canned or tetra-pak tomatoes
6-8 small turnips, diced (you could also use potatoes)
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 lb or so of carrots, sliced
1/2 lb or ground beef, stew meat, or leftover roast
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen green beans
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. of turmeric
1.5 tsp. of all purpose steak rub (I get an organic one at the meat counter at my local health food store.  I use if with almost anything-meatballs, meat loaf, burgers, steak and soup)
Salt to taste
Chopped parsley (optional)

Brown meat.  Add in onion and saute for 2 minutes.  Add broth and other fresh veggies.  Cook for 20-30 minutes until all of the veggies are tender.  Add in more broth if necessary.   Add in frozen veggies and enough salt.  Cook until it returns to a rolling boil and then 5 minutes more.  Serve.

I know turnips and turmeric are not common additives to cabbage soup, but with the health benefits they offer they cannot be missed, especially not during cold and flu season.  I've been trying to increase anti-inflammatory foods because I hurt my knee a couple of months ago....getting old sucks!  So I've been putting turmeric in everything, as long as you don't use a ton, it doesn't taste like curry.  Now I know that turnips are anti-inflammatory too, I will start to use them in other foods as well.  They make a great, less starchy, substitute for potatoes.  

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

Shared on: Real Food Wednesday, Monday Mania


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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!

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We have had the most beautiful Christmas season.  We took this week to just spend time together and make treats for our friends and family.  It was most blessed this year because for the first time my children bought presents for each other.  They worked odd jobs for family members in the fall, and spent their own money on each other.  Now I have been able to see the blessings on both sides, when they were picking out things for each other and then on Christmas morning when they exchange gifts.  To see my boys fiddle around Barbie outfits and Littlest Pet Shop animals to choose the perfect gift for their sisters was truly special.
Our favorite foods include sausage balls, bacon wrapped dates, spinach cups, and Chick-fil-a style chicken nuggets....not to mention gingerbread cookies and egg nog.  Here is our season in food.


Gingerbread recipe (without the black pepper and with 1/2 sprouted flour, 1/2 unbleached flour).  This was the perfect amount sweet.  I love the Smitten Kitchen.  It isn't a traditional foods website, but I edit her recipes to be traditional, I love them because they are never too sweet.  
Always just right, and her photography is inspiring!  
We used this icing recipe, which I have to say is my new favorite by far!


Too simple to call a recipe.  Shove a raw almond in a date, wrap with bacon.  Bake at 400.  YUM!


My husband made these, and I don't think he followed a recipe.  But it is probably similar to this.  
Soak Chicken for 1-2 hours in kefir.
Mix 2 cups of flour, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. 
Coat chicken well, remove excess.  Fry in about 1/4 inch of fat.
Of course, we fried them in Palm oil, lard would have been my first choice, but I used the rest of my lard in the "Bisquick" mix for my sausage balls.


My favorite!  Sausage balls!!  I followed this recipe, but used 1.5 lbs of sausage, because just 1 seemed too dry.  I also used my own "Bisquick" Mix so there was no trans fats!!

And to wash it all down?  EGG NOG...yes in all caps, because homemade nog is AAH-mazing!!  You CAN NOT improve on this recipe!!
We make it every year with fresh milk and eggs from our farmer.  I've never been a fan of egg nog because I hated the way it felt in my throat, but raw is totally different!  

Christmas Blessings to you and yours.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle



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Monday, December 17, 2012

Three Chicken Slow Cooker Freezer Meals

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Our halls are decked here and we are taking a break from school, so I've been busy cramming my freezer with ready-to-go meals.  Today I stumbled upon some marked down organic boneless skinless chicken thighs.  I love thigh meat, it holds up to long cooking without drying out.  It will shred nice, but also will stay in nice chunks if you cut it up.  I am a big proponent of eating the whole chicken, but there is much to be said for the convenience of boneless skinless meat.  I only buy it when it is organic and on markdown.  
While my hubs grilled up one pack, I put together some freezer meals for the other packs I bought. I must mention again that I have a large family, so these could easily be cut in half for two meals for a family of 3-4.


Cranberry Ginger Chicken 
(this would also work with a pork tenderloin or pork roast)

2-2.5 lbs of boneless chicken thighs
2 bags of fresh cranberries
2/3 cup of organic sugar, sucanat or evaporated honey
(you could sub. a can of canned whole cranberries)
1 tsp. of ground ginger
2 tbsp. of arrowroot powder or corn starch
4 oranges, quartered then sliced
2 small onions (or one large) sliced
1 tbsp. of sea salt or real salt *
3 tbsp. of whole-grain mustard
1 cup of chicken stock (*if you are using store bought, leave the salt out until the end of cooking and then adjust accordingly, I use homemade stock and it doesn't have any salt)

Combine all ingredients (except stock) in a freezer bag.  Freeze flat.  This fits tightly into a 1 gallon bag, but could easily be split between two.
On day of cooking add ingredients to slow cooker.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low 6-8.  Shred chicken if desired and serve with mashed potatoes or rice.
I love to serve this tart/savory sauce with goat cheese smashed potatoes.  The combination of flavors is amazing.


Tropical Curry Chicken

2-2.5 lbs of boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch peices
3 bell peppers sliced
2 small onions (or 1 large), sliced
2 mangoes diced
1 whole pineapple, cored and diced
1 can of additive-free coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp. of curry powder
1 tbsp. of sea salt or real salt
1 cup of homemade stock

Combine all ingredients (except stock) in a freezer bag.  Freeze flat.  This will fill a 1 gallon bag pretty tight. On day of cooking add ingredients to a slow cooker add stock.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours or 6-8 hours on low.  Serve with Jasmine Rice and fermented veggies like kimchi.


Fajitas (Oven or Slow-Cooker)

2-2.5 lbs of boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
3 bell peppers sliced
2 medium red onions sliced
2 generous tablespoons of taco seasoning
4 tbsp of lard or butter

Combine all ingredients in a freezer bag.  Freeze flat.  I like to defrost these and cook them in the oven, but you can also dump it all in the slow cooker.  If using the slow cooker, add 1 cup of chicken stock.  Serve with tortillas, or over rice.  Add cheese, salsa, sour cream, avocado, hot sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro to taste.

When you layer the food in the bag start with the fruit or veggies.  Intermingle the spices into the center parts of the bag, that way they won't be stuck to the sides.  And put the meat on the top.


Make sure you cut all of the pieces into bite-size, especially if you have little mouths!


Grocery List
7-8 lbs of Chicken Thighs
6 bell peppers
2 red onions
4 yellow onions
1 pineapple
2 mangoes
2 bags of cranberries
4 oranges
1 can of coconut milk

Check you Pantry/Fridge for:
taco seasoning (make some!)
ginger
whole grain mustard
arrow root powder or corn starch
sugar/sucanat/evaporated honey
curry powder
sea salt
Chicken Broth (make some!)


Well that's one less thing to worry about during the holidays.  Now as I start my cleanse from sweets in January I will have some yummy meals ready to go in my freezer.  And this only took the better part of an hour!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

Shared on: Simple Lives Thursday, Real Food Wednesday








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Friday, December 14, 2012

2 Minute Pizza Sauce

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Friday night is pizza night in our house!  I don't have a signature combination of toppings, with 6 different opinions I can't land on any one thing.  The hubs and I love goat cheese.  I have a Hawaiian lover and an olive-obsessed little princess, so that is always changing.  What doesn't change is the need for a simple sauce.
I know, you can just use pasta sauce.  My problem is with the jar half full of sauce that gets lost in the fridge.  I came up with this solution one Friday when I didn't have a jar of pasta, and since then I haven't cracked open a jar for pizza ever again.  The texture is better and it takes two minutes and  five ingredients I bet you already have on hand.

Two Minute Pizza Sauce
Ingredients:
1-6 oz. can or tetra-pak of tomato paste
1 tsp. of Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
1/2 tsp. of sea salt
a pinch of sugar (you can leave this out, but it really does balance the acidity of the tomato paste)
3/4 cup of warm water

Combine all ingredients.  Stir with a fork until all is combined.  Spread on pizza.  Should be enough to cover 2 large pizzas.  You could use 1/2 and then freeze the other half.  So if it is this easy, why would you ever buy pizza sauce?

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

Shared on: Simple Meals Friday, Simple Lives Thursday, The Home Acre Hop, Thrifty Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Hearts 4 Home Thursday, Simple Living Wednesday, Wild Crafting Wednesday, Homemade Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesdays, Full Plate Thursday, Tasty Thursdays, Wise Woman Link-Up, Wellness Wednesday, Tasty Traditions, Thursday Favorite Things, Works for Me Wednesday, Healthy 2-Day Wednesday
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Taco Seasoning

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Who doesn't love tacos?  I would literally fall over dead if I met some one!  I've been trying all sorts of homemade taco seasonings I found on Pinterest and think I finally came up with one my family loves.  It's not too spicy, but some we tried along the way were.  But here's the final recipe:

Ingredients

1 cup of Chili powder
1/2 cup of Onion powder
1/3 cup of Ground Cumin
1 tablespoon of Garlic Powder
2 tablespoons of Paprika
1 tablespoon of Sea Salt or Real Salt
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne (this adds a minimal amount of heat, but you can leave it out)

Makes 1 pint, so get out one of those lovely ball jars.  Add all of the ingredients and shake-it-Oh-Baby-Now!  That's it.  It couldn't be simpler--it is literally simplier than going to the store to buy it, and then searching for that skinny little packet in your pantry...seriously.  And if you consider all of the MSG you will be avoiding or $$ you will be spending on the facny organic packs--How can you go wrong?   
We go through a lot of taco seasoning here.  I use this on fajitas, in chili, shredded chicken, burrito filling, refried beans, and of course taco meat.  There are also a lot of quick recipes floating around that use taco seasoning packets.  I think somewhere near 2 tablespoons would equal a packet, but the beauty in not using a packet is you can adjust to your taste!  You can store it in the pantry in a glass jar for up to six months.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

Shared on: Mama Moments MondayMonday's Homestead Barn HopMix It Up MondayBetter Moms MondayInspire Me MondayModesty MondayMake Your Own MondayHomemade Mondays
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Saturday, December 1, 2012

My First Race!

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Yay!  Today I got to run in a race for an organization I love and I was sponsored by my favorite local health-food store.  I love the way the social network connects us.  I finished with a better pace than I thought I would, and most importantly I met my personal goal of not walking any!

First Thing First is an award winning non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families through education, collaboration and mobilization by serving as a community resource.
They offer marriage and parenting classes and support.  They are a constant encouragement to anyone trying to keep their marriage together or raise their children into responsible adults.  
After passing 10 year of marriage last year, I know how hard it can be sometimes to try and make life work with another person, to be one mind, one heart.  I admire an organization that seeks to strengthen those bonds within the community.  Strong families do not happen overnight or on accident.  It is lovely to know there are people working to offer affordable help to couples and families who need an extra hand in making life work.


I have to thank Earth Fare for sponsoring me.  I love our local store, they are dedicated to our community on so many levels.  They are always sponsoring events that celebrate a healthy lifestyle.    Plus I know anything I pick up in their store will follow their rules:

No artificial fats or artificial trans fats
No High-Fructose Corn Syrup
No Artificial colors
No Artificial flavors
No Artificial Preservatives
No Artificial Sweeteners
No Antibiotics or Synthetic Growth Hormones in Meat or Dairy
No Unbleached or Bromated Flour

All in all, it was a great morning!  Now it's time to finish decorating the Christmas tree and warm up with a bowl of chili!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Don't Throw Out That Pumpkin!

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It's no secret pumpkins are a serious power fruit...yep a fruit!  So maybe that part is a secret, but the power of the micro-nutrients in Pumpkin can be seen from across the room with it's bright orange color just waiting to infuse your body with Vitamin A and C.  Here's a quick rundown from wholeliving.com:
"Rich in potassium, a nutrient that helps maintain blood pressure and kidney function, pumpkin has a high fiber content, which has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Pumpkin flesh also contains a fair share of vitamin C, an antioxidant essential for healthy skin and gums.The gourd's high levels of carotenoids account for its orange color -- and star status. In addition to its vision-promoting beta-carotene, pumpkin contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which researchers now believe help protect against macular degeneration. Alpha-carotene, yet another invaluable pumpkin offering, may even aid in the prevention of tumor growth. Pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) also provide many nutrients, including bone-strengthening magnesium and copper. On top of that, the seeds contain cholesterol-lowering phytosterols and omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and may help prevent heart disease."

Did you know you can cook and freeze a whole pumpkin with almost no work?  And compared to the price of canned pumpkin, you will save a ton of $$.  Not to mention, that because canned food is treated at such a high temperature that most of the nutrients are lost, freezing your own pumpkin is a total win-win.  You also don't need to buy those small pumpkins, the big ones will render you much more fruit.  Plus, added bonus- you can roast the seeds for a fun snack!  Here's how I do it:

Seed and cut a large pumpkin.  Pile it into the largest pan you have.
Add some water to the bottom and put in a 350 degree oven for 1-2 hours based on size.
(2 hours is you have this much.)



Scoop it out and discard the skin.
Run it through the food processor until smooth.  Then bag it up for the freezer.  
2 cups will substitute for 1 can of pumpkin in any recipe.


When you need it just defrost and use.


Or cook it straight from frozen.  
The 2 cup portions are thin enough to break into pieces even when frozen solid. 
Just slam them on the counter edge.  
(I wish I had a fancy french word for slam it on the counter so I could sound like I went to cooking school!)


You could try this super yummy pasta sauce.


Or fight off winter germs with a smoothie
 I also slip it into chili, cheese sauces, soup or bread...and there's always good ol' Pumpkin Pie!


Love and Butter,

Mishelle





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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Homemade "Biscuick" Mix

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So many of my staple party recipes and treats this time of year involve biscuit mix.  But it doesn't take a 5-year-old to turn that box of mix around and see the ingredients are all garbage.  For the sake of shelf-life, this box contains a whole host of preservatives and hydrogenated oils that noone needs to have.  But what about the sausage balls?  Ha Ha!

Here's how to whip up a quick batch of biscuit mix.  This is in no way a substitute for the homemade biscuit recipe in Nourishing Traditions, but it is good for subbing that yellow (or blue box if you're a Jiffy family) in all of your favorite recipes.
I have been messing with this recipe for a while, I wish I could say it is great with all sprouted flour or even whole-wheat flour for that matter, but the truth is it just plain isn't!  But if you do half and half like I suggest you will get some fiber and still get a nice fluffy (not gritty) result.  Plus most importantly, this recipe removes the nasty trans-fats from that biscuit mix and replaces them with soul satisfying, quickly absorbable and converted into energy saturated fats.  I must say I can do some damage in the way of drop biscuits, I'll share my Red Lobster knock-off recipe later this week, but the saturated fat in these makes them so filling and it is easier to say "when"!


Ingredients

3 cups sprouted whole-wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons aluminum free (non-gmo) baking powder
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1 cup of lard (yes, lard!  It is complete awesomeness!) or organic shortening (palm oil)- a mix of the 2 works as well

Combine all dry ingredients.  Bring lard or shortening to room temperature (this is especially important if you keep your lard in the fridge like me).  Add the lard or shortening and cut it into the flour with a fork or pastry cutter.  
I just use a fork, basically you are just pushing the fat through the flour until the pieces of fat become smaller than a pea size.  This is where you will be happy you let it come to room temperature, otherwise your hand will feel like it is about to fall off!



Okay that's it!  Now you can store this stuff at room temp as long as it isn't too hot, or I keep mine in the fridge for a month or more.  It will work cup for cup just like the boxed stuff.  

For quick drop biscuits or on top of a pot pie style dinner, mix dry mix with enough kefir or buttermilk to make a sticky, but not runny batter.  Drop onto a pan or dish of meat and veggies and bake in a 375 degree oven until firm.  Times will vary based on the size of biscuits or of the entire dish.  Here's to one less thing you need from a store!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

This post is linked up at: Real Food Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Simple Meals Friday

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Ramblings of a Chubby Girl

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I guess holiday baking season is upon us, even though Thanksgiving came and left us an entire week of November.  But if the retailers are decking the halls, why not start making treats to fatten up all those lovelies around you?  I mean seriously we have to make New Year's resolutions in 5 weeks, and it is easier if you really kill it at Christmas.  Then you can say "no more holiday sweets" and mean it and stick to it until...well until Valentines at least!
For real, I get really serious with the scale this time of year...can't say I don't hate the thing, but I do keep tabs on my weight so that I don't gain any weight.  I must say I almost double my workouts to balance out the goodies...no just kidding..okay I'm really not.  I have been perpetually trying to lose weight (since I was eight or so and my mother put me on a grapefruit and cottage cheese diet and told me stories about how she had to wear "chubby girl" clothes).  I know it is a sickness, but now after years of spiritual and emotional rehab through the good book and a good man who has loved me at almost every size they make...well, I'd like to say I'm cured, but I think that is impossible.  I don't do diets though.  Never.  Never.  Never.  I don't try to change anything about the way I eat to lose weight, that being said, on rare occasion I allow sweets into my diet (mainly holidays) and I keep those pesky extra carbs in check with extra exercise. 
I should add that this doesn't mean I go crazy, I keep planning good nourishing meals for my family.  But I do get in the holiday spirit by making treats.  Here are my rules...the rules I try to follow (some exceptions apply and are listed below):
-I only use ingredients, I usually accept anyway (this means minimally processed, I can pronounce all of the ingredients and know what they are).  My one exception is Chex Mix.  I make 2 varieties every year, but my family loves them, and that would make a total of 5 boxes of cereal I have purchased in 2012 (3 for chex mix and 2 on vacation), I think that is pretty dang good! 
-I try to avoid all types of food dye ( I do this all year long except for decorating birthday cakes), because in my experience food dye causes much more havoc in children than sugar in moderation.
-If you can't make the treat, don't eat the treat.  Don't just buy all the crap the store puts out, do enjoy the holiday and make treats for yourself and your loved ones!
-Exercise first!  And exercise a lot!!
-Make treats mostly to give away, enjoy a couple and then get them the heck out of your house!
-Make memories along the way, there is no reason to bring sugar into the equation unless you have a tiny person smiling beside you.
-Watch carbs in balance, your pancreas can only do so much.  I try to plan more paleo-like meals this time of year so we can enjoy something sweet afterward.
-Realize that skinny models are miserable obsessive freaks of nature and you should never compare yourself to them.
-Don't get too busy to enjoy real food with the ones you love the most!  Even if its just leftover soup.

Well that's it.  I know it sounds crazy, but trying to follow a traditional diet in a modern world IS crazy.  I know there are traditional recipes out there for any treat you might want to recreate.  I'll try and share some of the modifications I've made through the years.  But most importantly have a Holly Jolly Christmas...and it's okay if you get a little more Jolly, we'll all still love you in January!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

This post was featured on: Whole Food Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey and Wild-Rice Soup

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Today is a lazy day in our house.  I didn't brave the mall, I came home last night exhausted and was drooling on my pillow by 9 o'clock.  I'm celebrating 10 years with my man in the most simple way with a warm bowl of soup and some fresh biscuits.  This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy leftover turkey.  It would also work if you only cooked a Turkey breast or a chicken.  The best part is all of the ingredients were in my fridge from cooking Thanksgiving dinner.



1/2 a Turkey (bones and leftover meat)
2 tbsp. of Apple cider vinegar

2 lbs of carrots, sliced
6-8 celery stalks with leaves, sliced
2 small yellow or white onions, diced
8 oz of bella or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of wild rice
1 cup of brown rice
4-5 quarts of water
1 bay leaf
1/8 cup of dried or fresh parsley
1 tsp. of garlic powder
1 tsp. of thyme
2-3 tbsp. of sea salt

In a large pot, cover leftover turkey with water and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, skip foam if necessary, and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 2-3 hours.  Remove meat and bones and let cool.  Add rice and cook for 30-40 minutes on a lightly rolling simmer covered.  When cool enough to touch pull meat from bones and discard bones and skin (this is my dog's favorite part!).  Add meat and veggies and spices, raise heat and bring to a boil again.  Reduce temperature and cook until veggies are tender.  Remove bay leaf and add 1 tbsp. of salt at a time until it tastes right.  Serve and enjoy!

For the Crock pot, cook the turkey, water, and vinegar overnight and then add all of the other ingredients back and cook for 2-3 hours on high.

You can also use a pressure cooker to speed up the process.  I love my Fissler!  I stopped using my pressure cooker for a little while after reading Nourishing Traditions, but after reading more about it here and comparing notes on how gelatin is broken down under high heat and seeing that pressure cooker stock is full of gelatin, I started using it again for stock and soups.  My favorite is still, meatloaf in my perforated pan...but that's for another post.  My verdict would be if you have a pressure cooker you paid $300 for like I do, you should use it.  If you don't have one...you may not need one.  Anyway...Happy Black Friday!!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle 
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

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These are the five people who make me who I am.  I live and breathe for them, with them and sometimes in spite of them.  My husband, who tomorrow I will celebrate 10 years with, and my four most beautiful blessings and trials.  Each day I awake to these faces and I am reminded of the God who promised me years ago to be patient and walk in Him, then He would bring me the desires of my heart and this, folks, is them!  Life is not perfect, that sounds so cliche, but the will of God is perfect and I am trying to realize that more and more each day.  And I must admit, that whining, frustrations, and disagreements teach me this just as much as smiles and giggles.

The truth, the will of God is Thanksgiving.

1 Thessalonians 5:18  In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

I've been meditating, memorizing, and repeating this verse for a couple of months now.  I've had it written out on the top of my markerboard in the kitchen, and I figured I would take it down whenever I saw it realized in my life.  That this, whatever this is, is the will of God for me in Christ Jesus.  The past year has been a trial of sorts in our home, with God challenging us to uproot every preconceived notion we have of Him and how we choose to live in regard to who He is.  I'm not there yet, so the verse will remain for now, maybe forever.  Maybe I should suck it up and stencil it directly onto the wall!  But I must tell that it has changed the daily struggle I have to be content with the mundane nature of home-making and it is beginning to shed light on some of the pain-causing circumstances we are walking through right now.  
Just the other day, I had a mini-breakdown coming on, my hubby could see it from across the room.  He made his way over to me, put his arms on my shoulders and turned me to face the board....

give thanks....

give thanks...

because this stupid pipe under my sink that we have fixed three times is leaking again less than 48 hours before my family comes to have dinner at my house....

give thanks...

for this is the will of God for me--right now...right here...in the midst of frustration or pain or suffering beyond compare.  

That I would turn my eyes heaven-ward and see HIM for who HE is and I would throw my hands up, in surrender to what I want, in praise to His glory and his plan that is so much broader and grander than I could think or imagine.


"For from Him, through Him, to Him are all things" and our hearts in Thanksgiving can respond, "to You be the glory forever, to You be the glory Lord amen!" (Matt Maher, Kari Jobe)


"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." Jude 24-25

Love and Butter,

Mishelle


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu

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I smell like onions cooking and I'm munching on extra ginger snaps.  Prep work is under way here in my little kitchen.  I am hosting a small dinner tomorrow (for 11-which isn't even double my normal dinner!) and I think I must say like most important things in life I have procrastinated.  I have this dang leak under the sink that we cannot identify and I am not about to turn off the water and pull out the plumbing when my sister is half-way here from Kentucky.  So I keep drying it and trying to catch the drips, that seem to change where they are coming from every time I get a container under there....geesh!
But on a brighter note, I do believe cooking Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite things all year.  Last year I cooked it in my sister's kitchen and did all of the traditional sides, but this year is a little bit different.  Since my sis is traveling here, where her hubs is from, then she will spend Turkey day with her in-laws and I will spend it with mine.  So to avoid repeating, I came up with an alternative menu for tomorrow.  It is still holiday-type food just not the norm in our families.

Roasted Citrus and Sage Turkey
My Grandma's Stuffing (from memory, recipe to follow)
Mashed Potatoes (nothing special..just lots of butter!)
Real Gravy
and More Gravy...is there really ever enough gravy?
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Caramel-Apple Cherry Pie (this was on the front cover of BHG this month)


I am excited to make my Grandma's stuffing.  I must admit, it isn't a real recipe, and better ones have probably been written.  I don't think she followed a recipe, and I don't even think she made it the same way every year.  But each year when I have stuffing with my husband's side of the family, the one dish so different is the stuffing, and I can't help but thinking back to my grandma's big table and our enormous Italian family dinners and her stuffing.  And my husband calls it "dressing"...what's that about?  He is so southern...it's stuffing in my book!
My grandma was a modern day saint.  She raised 14 children on a budget that would make a shoe-string gasp.  She put herself through nursing school after they all started school, and managed to help my disabled Grandpa...and she never missed a mass and I think she even did yoga.  It was probably what kept her from cracking all of those years.  I idolize her in my head, and I have since I had my 4 children in 5 years and my husband was sick for most of them.  Something in my soul felt close to hers, and something stronger than myself reminded me of her strength whenever mine was going to fail.  She passed from death to eternal life right after my littlest was born, and with my husband sick and my littlest still attached to me (literally) every 2 hours I didn't get to make the trip down to see her.  But tomorrow I will share a glass of wine with my sister and eat this stuffing and we will talk about the goodness and strength of our beautiful Grandma.

By Memory, Grandma's Stuffing
1 lb of bulk breakfast sausage 
1/2 cup of wild rice
2 apples, diced
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 onions, diced
1 cup of raisins
8 oz. of baby bella mushrooms, chopped 
1 bag of organic herb stuffing
1 loaf of sourdough bread diced (the drier the better)
Chicken stock about 4 cups
Sea salt
Fresh sage (optional, I have a ton on hand, so why not!)

Brown Sausage in non-stick frying pan.  Add onions and celery, cook until they become translucent.  Add apples and raisins continue to saute for 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and 1 tsp of salt.  Meanwhile in a small sauce pan cover the rice with chicken stock or water and a little salt.  cook until the rice starts to split open a little, add to the sausage mix.
This can be made the day before.  When ready to serve, bring 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.  If you are using homemade (unsalted) stock add 1 1/2 tsp. of salt.  When boiling add meat mixture in, allow to return to a boil.  Add bread mixture in. It is important that you don't stir it too much, or the bread will not remain in pieces   Taste for salt.  Stir in fresh sage.  Serve then or put in a casserole dish and keep warm in the oven.  If it is too mushy just bake it uncovered for a little while.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: The Phonetic Zoo Spelling Program

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I wanted to write a quick review on the Spelling curriculum I have been using this year with my third grader.  I first learned about the Institute for Excellence in Spelling's program while watching some of Andrew Pudewa's Writing Seminars.  Which, side note, the man is a genius...GENIUS!! 

"Spelling is the correct retrieval of sequentially stored, virtually random bits of information" --Andrew Pudewa

You can see his entire explanation on spelling here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-L6yWt6ZG4.  My simple break down was you can only receive a word in it's entirety like when you see a word..like  CAT..you get CAT.  But when you have to spell it, you need to know C...A...T, it must be sequential.  So then the best way to learn to spell a word is to hear it spelled..."C"..."A"..."T".  Because then your brain can receive the information in sequential order and only in that order.  I was sold!  
But I am not sharing this product with you because I bought the concept, but because I have tried it and really love it.  The child uses the product on their own, my daughter loves this (which may be a testament to how awful of a teacher I am).  They grade their own words, so each time they take a test they then check it by hearing all of the words spelled correctly.  Repetition. Repetition.  They move from one lesson to the next only when they spell all of the words correctly (15/lesson) two times in a row.
I must admit some of the harder rules like ie/ei drove my daughter crazy spending 3 weeks taking the same spelling test each day, but when she got it...she got it!  We just completed the 1st cd (of 4) and I can already notice a huge improvement in her spelling on other assignments.  I love that she does this by herself, I think she loves it too...as much as a child can love spelling.
I would, on an aside, say that my daughter is an older third grader because of her birthday and that we spent an extended time in Saxon Phonics 2 which deeply exhausts the skill of coding, so this may be attributing to my girl's achievement in spelling or maybe it is having a genius mom?..don't know?
That's just my two cents.  Any other great spelling curriculum out there?  Any horrible ones?

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Not-So-Political Truth

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Yesterday was a funny sort of day, I fell asleep Tuesday night watching intensely the votes trickle in from the swing states, wondering what direction our country has chosen to go.  Then I woke up to a horrible nightmare of one of my children running under a bus, only to end up intact on the other side.  The day was dreary and a little more bitter cold and damp than it usually is this time of year in the South...a lot like the sentiment I read from so many of my Christian friends after the election results.
I must say, first I don't want to be political...as if that is a thing one can or can't be.  We hold our own beliefs, for our own reasons, and we are blessed to live in a nation where we can hold a sign that says them, disagree with our leaders, and most importantly vote.  We get to do all of these things without fear of death or imprisonment.  So in essence, it is impossible to not be political, because even in apathy we choose the political tide of this great nation, by voting or not voting, posting political comments or cartoons of mockery on facebook, we direct the policies and direction of this country through just being whoever we are individually.  
So if I write, on food, on family, on homeschool, that is political even if I never declare what was on my ballot, because I share with you here what is near and dear to my heart and with that my political views and ideas are determined.  I do, in my sentiment, implore you to consider real food for your body and life, consider the bond homeschooling would create in your family, and do, by describing my own moments with my God, suggest that you consider your own religious or non-religious ideas.
In light of this, I have some scripture I would like to share in regards to the election and this ongoing frustration I see in so many.  If you don't want to read it...please by all means don't.  If we meet on one common thread (like food), I hope you still continue to read my blog on that basis.  For I do believe the greatness of mankind is that we are intertwined by so many different types of threads and it is those threads that hold us together.  If Christianity is a thread you hold in common with me, I hope you are encouraged by these words.

Habakkuk 1:5 " Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."

God gave me this verse the day Sandy hit the East Coast.  I was studying the Flood and I must admit it was hard not to try and make some sort of parallel conclusion.  But that would be something man would do, and did do (in a not so loving way) all over the internet.  But now here we are, we've voted--it's done.  So if you find yourself angry that someone was or wasn't elected, let me share with you the context of this verse.  In verse 6 and on, God begins to tell the prophet Habakkuk that Isreal is going to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians, but out of this, He is going to do great things--things so great that they wouldn't even believe them if they were told.  Please do not think I am comparing the current administration to the Babylonians.  I just want to point out if you had placed your hope in a change of policy and only in that change of policy, that might you consider that you are limiting God in doing so. 

Isaiah 14:24 "The Lord Almighty has sworn, 'Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.'"

We need not trust in government, or policies, or even in the Constitution itself.  We are not secure because we are Americans, we are secure because we are His.  Anything short of this truth and we are clinging to things that pass away.  We need not live in fear, no matter what trouble we think we foresee politically.

Joshua 1:9  "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Whatever the next four years hold, and how you feel about them, God has one plan today, tomorrow and the next--to make you look more like His son.  He will use the circumstances He has foreordained to do so...so walk in them and walk in HIM!  

1 Thessalonians 5:18  "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."

Have you thanked God for our re-elected President?  God is doing something so big and so great that even if He told us, we wouldn't believe it.  So give Him thanks for it now, for this is true faith. And our earthly goal will be realized, to walk by faith, not by sight.  I'm not one to read dreams, but I can't help but think that bus means something...eh!...for now I will rest in the truth of God's Word, for despite men and their many wanderings He never changes!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Simple Laundry Remedy

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Laundry is a daily chore here.  Gone of the days of separating it, we just shove it in and take it out.  Hope it gets folded and hope the folded laundry gets put away before the dog lays on it.  There is nothing pretty about laundry in my house right now, except that it is always done before we hit the pillow.  I'm sure this will evolve to something better later and I won't have to worry about a cloth diaper leaving its stench on my favorite sweater or a greasy towel spotting my husband's work clothes...but for right now...it is what it is.

I know you are thinking, why am I going to take a tip from a lady who can't separate her laundry, but here's the tip.  In my unashamed laziness, I must admit that on a regular basis I leave wet clothes in the washer too long.  When I switched my dinosaur machine out for a front loader this got even worse.  Because the door is so dang airtight and the high spin cycle leaves the clothes plastered together on the walls of the machine, they sour so quick.  Let me diverge and say a million times over, my front loader is an amazing feat of engineering that has saved me on water and electric...but seriously I think the clothes sour sometimes in less than an hour.  Who am I kidding I leave those things in there forever!
Okay so back to the tip.  If you do this like me, I have a quick solution instead of re-running the entire cycle.  Add some baking soda (the magical powder) and just run your quick cycle or your rinse cycle....viola!  Stink gone!  My machine only takes a fraction of the time to do this, trust me I do it almost every day!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

Linked Up at: Natural Home Challenge
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Beer Braised Shortribs

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After buying a side of beef this summer, I found myself with a few cuts that I had never used before.  The most perplexing to me was the short ribs.  The first recipe I tried involved dredging in flour and frying, reducing wine, and then cooking in the oven for 3 more hours.  Needless to say, that wasn't a recipe I really had the time for.  On top of that, somewhere along the way I botched the recipe (I think the oven temp) and the ribs were so tough.  I set out looking for a simpler recipe, but most involved this step of searing and also a step that said to remove the silver...something...I had no idea what this meant, I saw no silver stuff on my ribs.
So after a few (12) recipes, I decided to give my Slowcooker a shot to make these ribs tender.  If it is possible, use the low setting to cook, if not the whole time, maybe the last half.  Short Ribs definitely have quite a bit of textures, the slowcooking melted some of these into the sauce and made the meat fall off the bone.  You could easily substitute a roast, it would just cook a little faster.


Beer Braised Short Ribs

3 medium onions sliced
3-4 lbs of grass-fed short ribs
1 bay leaf
1 bottle of beer (12 oz) or (12 oz more of stock)
2 TBSP of sucanat or brown sugar
2 TBSP of dijon whole grain mustard
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 tsp. of dried thyme
1 tsp. -1 TBSP of sea salt (this will vary depending on the stock you are using.  If it is homemade with no salt 1 TBSP if it is store bought 1 tsp-or less)
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
3 tsp. unbleached flour (substitute cornstarch or arrowroot if GF)
Stock (3-4 cups)

This is the only picture of the soup I took,
not sure why I didn't notice how bad the bowl looked. 
Add all of the ingredients except stock to the slowcooker.  Add enough stock to cover the meat.  Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.  Serve with polenta, potatoes, or rice and a light salad.

You can use the leftovers to make a great soup.  Just add diced tomatoes and veggies.  I made this on a Sunday afternoon and then we had easy soup after a busy Monday morning.  It's all about making eating well easy enough to do it all of the time!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

This recipe is linked up with: Simple Meals Friday
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Family Picture Test Run

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I am dreaming the Impossible Dream.  That a family of 6 can get a good family picture.  Where everyone is looking at the camera.  At the same time.  And smiling.  And dressed to coordinate.  On the perfect fall day.  Today was first practice, I started pulling clothes to see how we could coordinate, what it would look like on film, so I could make a shopping list of what I need to pick up to get a little closer to this absolute total impossibility.  Here's round 1.  I'm not in any of these pics, but in all of the world these are my greatest loves...being themselves...which is exactly what I am trying to avoid!

Let's get started.  Thank goodness for SLR's and continuous takes. 

I have one grump, and one sleepy...yeah!

I almost gave up here.

Zoom in on the only two cooperating

And one who isn't.

Here's where I sighed, and promised them all a piece of their Halloween candy.  

I even had grumpy's attention now.

Looks like everyone's on board now.  Let's do this thing!

I was trying to loosen them up, I think I made a face.

Silly is coming.

Weird mouths.

Silly is making it's way out.

Little more.

Little more.

Close up...

We are getting closer...I promise

Last little bit of silly makes it way out and...

Now we are talking. 
Really like, Big Girl has a lot of teeth though.

I think this one is my favorite, but if I could I would swap Little Girl's face for the previous one.  

None of these look anything like the dream photos I have pinned.  But maybe with a little Photoshop?  I'm not loving the color combination as much as I thought I would, but it might also be that the cloud coverage was really thick.  Either way still some of the better pics of my loves in a little while...we'll see how the real day goes!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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