Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Heart My Neti

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My husband has suffered from sinus congestion from seasonal allergies.  His congestion often leads to sinus infections and sometimes even bronchitis.  He's always popping allergy medicine or alka-seltzer cold.  I have just been sighing, and quietly reminding him he is welcome to try my neti pot....well sometimes I am just plain nagging him.  I hate that he is putting all of that stuff in his body, but he is an adult.

To use a neti pot, all you need is a pot, sea salt, and distilled water.  Add 1/4 tsp of salt to 1 cup of water.  You can warm it a little if you are really congested **do not make it hot**.  Add some of the salt water to the neti pot.  Put the spout into your nostril and tilt your head to the side (ear parallel to the floor).  Over a sink, begin to pour the water slowly through your nose.  Concentrate on breathing slowly through your nose and allow the water to flow out of your other nostril until it is gone.  Finish by blowing your nose well.  You can rinse the other side now.  With severe congestion, you can repeat, but allow 10-15 minutes between rinsing.  It is so simple, and so refreshing. 

Seeing my husband finally get it.  And he even did a second rinse later this afternoon!  Have you tried a neti?  What is your verdict?
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Milk Kefir

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I’ve been meaning to do a post on milk kefir for quite some time now, but I always think, “what would I even write?”  Milk Kefir is the absolute easiest and best nutritional thing you can add to your family’s diet.

So what exactly is Kefir?  Have you seen it in your local health food store?  

Kefir is fermented by kefir grains that contain the bacteria and yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk protein) and complex sugars. The bacteria and yeast mixture can actually colonize the intestinal tract, a feat that yogurt cannot match. Several of the strains of bacteria in the kefir culture are not found in yogurt. The yeast in kefir is able to deal effectively with pathogenic yeasts in the body. The bacteria/yeast team cleanses and fortifies the intestinal tract making it more efficient at resisting pathogens.
Because kefir is a balanced and nourishing food, it has been used to help patients suffering from AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes, and cancer. It has a tranquilizing effect on the nervous system and is beneficial for people with sleep disorders, depression and ADHD. Kefir promotes healthy bowel movements when used regularly, and helps reduce flatulence. It also helps reduce food cravings by allowing the body to feel more nourished and balanced.
Kefir has many other nutritive features in addition to bacteria and yeast. It is loaded with minerals and essential amino acids. Because its protein is partially digested in the fermentation process, it is easily utilized by the body, and can, in most circumstances be consumed by people with lactose intolerance. Kefir contains significant amounts of tryptophan, the amino acid that promotes relaxation and sleep, making it a good choice for a nightcap.  Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in kefir and other ruminant products that has been shown to possess anti-cancer activities in in-vivo animal models and in vitro cell culture systems. It is also rich in vitamin B-12, vitamin K and biotin.
So are you convinced yet?  Here's what you have to do to get started!  Find some kefir grains.  They can be adopted online or find a friend locally who has some extra.  All you need is milk (at least 2%), preferably from a caring local farmer you look in the eye and shake hands with on a regular basis.  Read here about the benefitsof raw milk and the dangers of homogenization.  If you need to find a reliable source for raw milk check this out.
Now, brace yourself this is complicated!  Put the grains in the milk and set the milk on the counter.  Wait.  And wait.  Depending on the temperature in your kitchen and the proportion of milk to the chunk of grains you start with it could be anywhere from 24-48 hours.  

Here's my current chunk of grains.  You need about half this much to get started.

Check your kefir periodically.  This will not hurt it.  Turn it on its side.  If it looks like milk, give it a good shake and leave it longer.  When it is done it will pull away from the side and look like yogurt.  These are the basic instructions I give people who adopt my little grains from me.  There is no “science” to it, so relax!!  When it’s all done try it in a smoothie, use it as buttermilk, or strain it to make some kefir cheese.


This is done!  See how it pulls away like yogurt.

I've had a lot of worrisome folks ask a lot of questions during the process of incorporating kefir into their family diet.  The hardest is knowing when it is "done" and also to get over the expectation of uniformity.  We have been so ingrained by the industrial food systems to expect that if a then b.  But in the home kitchen sometimes you do a and you get c...it just is.  Here are some pictures of different batches of my kefir to show the variance in the finished product.

This one has separation toward the bottom.

This one is separated right under the cream line.

This batch was really thick.

This one really thin.

And this one is somewhere in the middle.

All a little different, all good kefir.  After you make kefir for a while, you will probably find a rhythm to get a pretty consistent product.  Do remember that just a change in season can affect the fermentation process.  And again, remember it isn't science and have fun!!

Love and Butter, 

Mishelle


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Monday, April 23, 2012

Game Plan 4/23

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I am a day late, and feel a dollar short.  Wow! Traveling can really take it out of you.  I have a post in progress of all of the amazing local food I ate while I was in Louisville, KY.  I have to say that city really supports local businesses.  There were even some local restaurants with several locations, I hope that one day my beloved city of Chattanooga will be that way too.
This week my meal plan will be mostly stuff from my freezer cooking.  Especially my slow-cooker freezer meals, which take no work at all...I have one of those going right now.  Here's the plan:

Monday:  BBQ Chicken (from my freezer)
Tuesday: Roasted Chicken w/ baked potatoes (you can freeze baked potatoes)
Wednesday:  Lasagna (this will be my first make 1 freeze 1 post)
Thursday: Ginger Beef (from my freezer)
Friday:  Hot dogs and Kraut at the Park, Some of this potato salad
Saturday:  Enchiladas (I froze half of this recipe, but I will make them in the oven, the crockpot was a bust as far as I'm concerned)
Sunday: Slow Cooker Clam Chowder (will post recipe)

So, if you haven't taken the plunge and done some freezer cooking..maybe this meal plan will convince you.  Take the time now, the food will be ready to go when you need it.  Have a delicious week!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Simple Sauerkraut and Kefir Cheese

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I started my day with two slices of my soaked bread, slathered with grass-fed, cultured butter, and raw local honey.  Does it get any better than that?  I should have had some raw milk, but I was too full!  Besides cleaning, packing, and school lessons, I've been trying to use all of the fresh food in my fridge or get it frozen or preserved.
I made a batch of simple sauerkraut.  It took about 10 minutes, including the time it took to get enough whey from some kefir.  The recipe couldn't be easier, and it will be ready to be transferred to the fridge when I get back from my sisters.  Here's how I did it.

Simple Kraut (lacto-fermented)

Ingredients:
1 medium head of cabbage shredded (I use my food processor's slicing attachment)
1 tbs. of sea salt (this is the mac-daddy of salt)
4 tbs. of whey (see a quick way to make whey below)

Tools:
a mallet/or tenderizer
a large bowl
a large mouthed jar (large enough for the mallet to fit into)

Put all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix.  Mash with the mallet until the juices start to form.  Nourishing Traditions recommends 10 minutes.  It will vary based on the shred size.  You want a good amount of juice.  Transfer the cabbage and all of the juices to the jar.  Mash it down as much as you can.  The goal is to have all of the cabbage fully submerged in the liquid.  

Glass and metal aren't optimum, but this is what I have. 

I would love a bowl like this.
And a mallet like this!

Here's my easy way to make whey...that makes me giggle a little...I'm such an English nerd!  I take a simple 49 cent dish towel from Ikea, a plastic pitcher, and a stainless steel colander.  My contraption looks like this.  I'm sure if you dig through your cabinets you can find something to use.


Very quickly there is enough whey to use for the kraut.  Then I hang it like this.  


You are waiting for the the kefir (or yogurt) to be the consistency of cream cheese.  Then remove it from the towel, and put your extra whey in the fridge.  Whey will store for months and it is useful for fermenting veggies and sauces (like ketchup), soaking beans and grains, and adding protein to smoothies or salad dressings.  The possibilities are endless, so if you are hesitant, thinking you won't use it...trust me you will!
Oh!  The cheese, I almost forgot.  My favorite way to eat the kefir (or yogurt) cheese is on bread.  I mix it with just enough Grade B Maple Syrup to cut the sourness and add some chopped walnuts and spread it on THICK!!  It would also be good on sliced apples.  
If your new to the idea of fermenting take a second to read the notes from the talk I gave at my last local Weston Price chapter meeting.  I know fermenting sounds so hard...but once you start working it into your routine, the easier it gets.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Soaked Bread Round #2

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I have my third batch of soaked sandwich bread baking up in the oven right now.  I thought I would post my second attempt and some tips on using the e-cookbook Is Your Flour Wet? to make bread. This is the only thing I've tried so far in the e-cookbook, but I think overall it will be a reference I will frequently use in the future.
There are two Wheat Sandwich bread recipes in this cookbook.  One is made for a top attached mixer (like the common KithenAide or my Cusinart) and the second is made for a bottom mixer (like Electrolux or Bosch).  The recipes vary in the kneading/rising process.
My first round, which you saw was a total disaster, was probably because I used the recipe that was made for a bottom mixer.  So the second time, I followed exactly the recipe for the top style mixer and the bread was a total success.  I must admit I did use bread machine yeast, because the rising process still baffles me.
I am still a little hesitant about these recipes because they do contain white flour.  I haven't used white flour in my kitchen (except birthday cakes) in years.  So I am planning on tinkering with the process a couple of more times and them moving on to sourdough.  I just got some starter and when I get back from my weekend in Louisville I will get that stuff going.  I will definitely keep this in my book for quick bread.  For now, here's a few pictures of my success!!





My best advice to getting good bread, is taking your time, reading the instructions well, and most importantly, be patient with yourself and your dough.  In the end, whether dense, fluffy, or plain old soggy in the middle...just slather some butter on there and go to town!  Your mouth will thank you!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Let There Be Head-Lights

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My headlights were burnt out, and I literally didn't know for months.  I almost never drive at night, so by the time I figured it out, they were both out.  My husband was exasperated, because it hadn't been a year since we changed them last.  But apparently our model of van has electrical issues and most commonly blown headlights.  Oh well!!  I am not in the market to buy a new van, especially since my kids are still young and still think it is funny to sneak crayons into the van and "decorate" the seats and ceilings...oh yeah the ceilings!
So to perfect our state of procrastination, we've not changed the light, until today because we have baseball tickets and have to leave in a couple of hours.  My hubby is so overwhelmed with work right now, so I figured I would just plain do it myself.  And you know what?? I did!
To get directions I did a simple google search "kia sedona change headlights" and came upon this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iFeg9dPZgw
I must say it was fulfilling to get my hands a little dirty and not have to be talked down to by a mechanic.  It was also extra special to take something off of my husband's plate.  He does so much for our family and seriously it felt GOOD!!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

4/15 Meal Planning Before Vacation

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I sat down and planned meals for this week, and then I realized we will only be eating dinner at home this week three times.  Tomorrow we are heading down to our first Braves game of the year, so I will have to pack tailgating food instead of the Roasted Chicken I planned on making.  I am also counting down the days until we head to St. Augustine Beach for vacation.  So I am concocting a meal plan and some advice on how to plan meals in the days before heading out of town.
It is good to start thinking about what is in your fridge a couple of weeks before, and to start to consume it and be careful not to plan meals that have you buying new ingredients and then wasting what you have.  So #1 Take Inventory.  Always!  Or you will lose track of something you paid money for!  This is a good idea to do every couple of weeks anyway.  For instance, right now I have a few logs of goat cheese I got on sale, some run-over produce from last week, and some salad dressings I've made.
On top of getting ready for vacation, I am heading out of town this week to my sister's college graduation.  This means grandma will be feeding the kids this weekend, and my main Love and I will be trying some great restaurants in the Louisville, KY area.   So I am planning meals until Thursday, with the single goal to clean out my fridge.  My slow-cooker freezer meals on Thursday helped a lot with that, and I can't wait to try those eats.

Monday:  Sandwiches, black bean and corn salad w/Blue Corn Chips, snacks (we do peanuts, no Cracker Jacks...go Braves!!)
Tuesday: Cranberry Pork Roast (from Mama and Baby Love) and Colcannon (from my freezer)
Wednesday: Pizza (like this)
Thursday: Chicken Tetrazzini (based on Giada De Laurentiis but with broccoli)

Hopefully I will find some good local food while we are on the road.  I am looking forward to traveling without the kids.  I will miss them, but it is easier to eat out with 2 and not 6.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Three Freezer Slow-Cooker Meals

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WARNING: Freezer Cooking is addictive!!  Freezer meals are all over blogs and Pinterest.  I can totally understand why.  I had done freezer cooking in the past, especially when I was nesting prior to one of my little love's arrivals.  My third love was so late, I just kept cooking and freezing, I didn't have to prepare a meal for a solid month after she was born.  That was such a blessing in those sleepless days.


There are several strategies to freezer meals.  There is the once a month approach where you shop, cook, and freeze an entire month's worth of meals.  Another, is to always double anything that takes considerable time (i.e. enchiladas or lasagna) and then freeze the second.  Finally, and this is what I am doing here, is to take what produce you have access to via sales, gardening, or CSA and preserve it by freezing it in meal size portions with recipes all ready to go.

The three recipes I chose were all for the slow-cooker this time.  They are Slow-Cooker BBQ (inspired by Stephanie at Mamaandbabylove.com), Chicken Teriyaki (inspired by Jaima at ringaroundtherosies.net), and Ginger Beef from MomswithCrockpots.com.  I changed quite a bit of these recipes so I'll post the entire recipes that I used.  I packed these in 1 gallon bags and I didn't add the meat to them, because my meat was already frozen.  I think this will maximize my savings, because I buy all of my chicken on markdown and my beef from a local farmer, so it is already frozen.  Then I can make the freezer meals when I get the produce on sale or from my garden and then I have saved all around.  (If you can't tell frugality is very important to me. I think it is rubbing off on my kids, today my daughter was cleaning up after dinner and she asked me if I wanted to save the hot dog water to use for something else!!)

**I used a full recipe in each bag.  This should be enough to feed my family of 6 and have some leftover for lunch the next day.  If you have a smaller family you should consider splitting the recipes between 2 bags.

Slow-Cooker BBQ Chicken
(I fell in love with Stephanie's idea of having so many veggies in BBQ, my main changes are in the ingredients in the sauce.  If you have a special way you like to make your BBQ sauce, by all means change it up!)
Ingredients:
2-3 lbs of chicken thighs or legs
3 sweet potatoes diced
2 green bell peppers chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
2 zucchini chopped
2-6oz cans of tomato paste
2 tbs. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tbs. unsulphured molasses
2 tbs. worcestershire sauce
2 tbs. whole grain mustard (or spicy brown)
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp. of salt
1/4 cup of quick cooking tapioca
1 cup of smoky stock (or regular stock + a dash of liquid smoke)

Combine all ingredients, except stock in a freezer bag.  Freeze.  On day of cooking, add all ingredients to slow-cooker, add stock.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours.  (I will add the chicken the day of cooking, I do not think the chicken would have fit into the bag, if you are splitting it into to 2 meals the chicken will fit.)

Chicken Teriyaki
(This recipe had the ingredients of Sweet and Sour Chicken with Teriyaki sauce, I cooked it once before I froze any of it.  It was good, the peppers were a little mushy, so I will leave them out until the last part of cooking next time).



Ingredients:
2-3 lbs of chicken thighs or breast (weight varying on whether meat is bone in or boneless)
1 pineapple cored and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 red bell peppers cut into 1 inch chunks
2 chopped onions chopped
2-16oz bags of baby carrots
1 cup tamari, liquid aminos, or soy sauce (read here why fermented soy is better for you)
1/3 cup sucanat, honey or brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground dried ginger
1 tbs. garlic powder
2 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca

Combine all ingredients (except peppers) into a freezer bag (or 2).  Put peppers into a smaller freezer bag and tape the smaller to the larger.  On day of cooking, empty large bag into slow-cooker.  Cook on high 4-6 hours.  Add peppers in last 30 mins-1 hour until desired tenderness. Finally, tasted the sauce, adjust to your tastes, more soy sauce if it is too bland.  More honey if you don't think it is sweet enough. Serve this with rice and top with lo mein noodles if desired.

Make sure to write any directions on your bag with permanent marker and let it dry before filling.

Ginger Beef

Ingredients:
2-3 lbs of stew meat or roast cut into cubes (preferably grass-fed and local)
1-16oz bag of baby carrots
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 onion chopped
1-8 oz pack of mushrooms sliced
2 tsp. of grated ginger
1/2 cup of Hoisin sauce (gluten-free variety)
1 cup of beef broth (if using homemade stock or broth, you will probably have to salt to taste or add salt initially- I usually do a good palm full for a 6 quart crock meal, and then salt to taste at the end, homemade stock is always your best gluten-free option)
1/4 cup of quick cooking tapioca
toasted sesame seeds (optional
garnish)


Add all ingredients (except peppers) to a 1 gallon bag or split between 2.  Bag peppers separate, label both bags and tape them together.  On day of cooking dump large bag into slow-cooker.  Cook on high for 4-6 hours, adding peppers last 30 mins-1 hour until they reach desired tenderness.



While I was at it I made a couple of bags with chopped celery, onions, and carrots to make a quick pot of chicken soup when I have leftover roasted chicken.  All in all, it was a couple hours that will save me many!  Give it a try!  You will not go back to cooking every night again.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

This recipe is linked up with: Simple Meals Friday, Mama Moments Mondays, Monday's Homestead Barn Hop, Natural Living Monday, Mix It Up Monday, Modesty Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Make It Yourself Monday, Better Moms Monday, Clever Chicks Monday, Hearth and Soul Tuesday, Domestically Divine Tuesday, Titus 2sday, Fat Tuesday, Tasteful Tuesday, Teach Me Tuesday, Making a Home, Tuesday Greens, Whole Foods Wednesday, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Encourage One Another, Simple Living Wednesday, Wellness Wednesday, Wise Woman Link Up, Show and Share Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Healthy 2day Wednesday, Hearts for Home Thursday, Proverbs 31 Thursday, Little House in the Suburbs, Fabulously Frugal Thursday

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Front Porch Spring Makeover Part 1

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To ring in Spring I have been working on refreshing my front porch.  After all, a front porch in the South is a vital part of life, right?  I'm still trying to be a real Southerner...my husband says it's all in the sweet tea, but I'll take my kombucha any day!  My azaleas were in full bloom and timed perfectly with my creeping phlox.  So I got to work.  I painted the door with some leftover bedroom paint, and with a clearance can of spray paint I rehabbed a table, a rug, and the bird house.  I'm working on some plans to build a bench out of our old drop front crib, because it is against the law to resell them now.  And I think I am too sentimental.  Three of my four babies slept in that crib and the littlest one would have too, except my last two were too close together...aaah the days of two cribs.  I barely took a shower each day back then!  I'd go back in a minute to smell that baby smell again!

Ha! Take that Master's Azaleas!

There's the new door color, and the 15 bags of mulch I spread...and my basset.

Here's the before...that is pollen, not dust...yick!

New color.

I forgot to take a picture before.  Here's the old rug getting painted.

That's it for now.  I'm looking forward to finishing the bench and accessories.  And doing all of while spending almost nothing!  So far total cost $2.50 for spray paint, and $8 in mulch.  Oh! And I got most of the weeds pulled before mulching by using it as a consequence to sibling fighting...how awesome is that?  Let me know what you are doing to make your home Springy!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Means Buttah!!

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There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING like Spring butter!  I made a huge batch the other day and took some pictures to walk you through the process, in case it makes you nervous.  I remove about half of the cream from my raw grass-fed milk.  This time of year when the grass is growing so fast, the amount of cream increases on the milk.  It is also the highest in nutrients and makes this gorgeous yellow butter.

I use my whisk attachment.

I crank it up to the highest setting-12 on mine.

Let it rip.  See the yellow tint?  That's grass baby!

Here it is whipped cream. 

This is a little firmer whip cream, this is how I like it on my strawberries!

Keep Whipping!

Getting Closer.

Starting to seperate.

YUM!

This one shows how the buttermilk seperates.

Then I packed it into this container.

I made a huge mess.  Squished out all of the buttermilk.  You can rinse it, I don't..mainly because I am lazy.

Final product.  Butter and Buttermilk!

That's it.  I figured if I was going to earn the title of Love and Butter, I should be able to show you how to make butter.  Hope you get it try sometime!

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Roasted Chicken to the Rescue

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I didn't make a meal plan this week.  In part, because of the chaos of the holiday weekend, but also some distraction on my part.  I was working hard to complete my 40 bags challenge before Lent was over.  And work in the yard, and...and...and.  So I must confess at the end of last week I started changing things from my plan, and then I didn't even write one this week.  And yesterday, with all shame, because of a lack of planning on my part, I had to throw out some organic chicken that I bought.  Simply because I was off my game and I didn't throw it in the freezer.  Because I didn't have a plan.  I didn't know what was coming.
This week I've been doing my best to eat everything in the fridge and get it all organized so that I am ready to have my game plan together for next week.  I'm also reading through some freezer meal recipes to replenish my stockpile of ready made meals.  The only saving grace this week was the almost whole ham we took home from Easter dinner and the 2 chickens I roasted over the weekend to warm the kitchen while I was baking bread.  (Which I will have to post, because take two on the soaked bread was AAAH-WSOME!)

Almost every week I roast 2 chickens.  I just choose a day when I know I will be home and get them defrosted and then roast them up.  Not for dinner, just because.  When they cool I pull the meat off the bones, use the bones for stock, the pan juice for gravy, the fat that rises to the top of the pan juice to cook veggies in, and the meat for whatever I need it for.  It makes meals so quick, like: Chicken Noodle Soup, Chicken Quesidillas, Casserole, Chicken Salad, Chicken Pot Pie...the options are endless.  Sometimes in the summer, I will do the same with chicken Andy grills or smokes for me. 


This is some Chicken we grilled.  Made a great addition to couscous salad.
Simple Way to Roast Chicken
It doesn't take a lot of work, just a lot of time.  You'll need:
2 Chickens
Sea Salt
Poultry Seasoning or other all purpose seasoning.  This is my favorite.
Lemon or Orange (optional-I don't notice a lot of difference, but if you have one that's about to go bad, use it!)
Deep Roasting or Casserole Pan (I prefer ceramic like this one)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Remove gizzards and neck (reserve for stock).  Rinse Chicken.  Place in pan breast side down.  Squeeze citrus over chicken if using.  Salt generously.  Sprinkle with Poultry seasoning.  Pop in the oven for 30 minutes.  Reduce oven temp. to 350 degrees.  Cook for an additional 40-60 minutes until temperature in deepest part of the thigh reads 165.  Remove and let rest.  Enjoy the skin and pull the meat for later use.  Or eat all of it for dinner. 

I must admit, we fight over the skin!

I've tried on a rack and I am a fan of without, it keeps the white meat (which I put down) very moist.  When we are eating the chicken right away we will pour out some of the pan gravy and bring it to the table.  It's messy, but so so worth it!

This stuff may look gross, but it is so, so good!!
So I guess even though I didn't do a game plan for the week, some of my obsessive planning still got through to make the week work for me.  I never regret the things I cook when I'm not trying to get a meal on the table.  They always come in handy later.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Good-bye Easter

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I haven't posted my meal plan yet, so sorry.  I got sick this weekend and then we ended up with the leftover ham (which I am thankful for) and 2 dozen dyed hard boiled eggs, but now will have to plan our meals around that.  Right now I have my second attempt at soaked sandwich bread rising, and crossing my fingers we can have grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner.  Well metaphorically crossing them, because I am actually typing.
So once I know if I have bread I will post my Game Plan for this week.  For now, I'll share some pictures from our Easter festivities.  We had dinner with family.  I was planning on bringing broccoli salad, but on Saturday I found the cutest pasta on sale at World Market.  Bunnies and eggs.  I couldn't resist.  There are a million variations on Pasta Salad, but here's what I threw together for Easter dinner.



Here's my recipe:
1 box of pasta cooked according to directions
1 pint of grape tomatoes halved
1 yellow pepper diced
1 small head of red leaf lettuce chopped
1 can of black olives sliced
1-5oz package of shredded parmesean and romano
1 cup of homemade zesty Italian (recipe to follow)

Cook pasta according to box.  Rinse with cold water until cooled.  Drain well.  Mix all ingredients together.

Recipe makes 16 oz.
1 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs of water
1/2 tbs garlic powder
1/2 tbs onion powder
1/2 tbs of honey
1 tbs of oregano
1/2 tsp of black pepper
1/4 tsp of dried thyme
1/2 tsp of dried basil
1 tbs of sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a mason jar.  Shake, and allow to set for 2 hours or more.  It gets better overnight.

For dessert I made some "Bird Nests With Eggs."  This is as "real" as I can get this recipe.  The cute factor outweighs the ingredients in the Chinese noodles.


Ingredients
1 jar of natural peanut butter
1 bag of dark chocolate chips
1 bag of Chinese noodles
Pastel M&M's or egg shaped candy

Melt peanut butter and chocolate chips in a double boiler or a homemade one (shown below).  Stir in Chinese noodles until covered.  Scoop onto waxed paper, press in candies to center.  Allow to cool, use the freezer if you are in a hurry.  Enjoy!!


Simmer 3 inches or so of water below.  Stir to constantly to melt.  Be mindful that the bowl will be hot.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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