Friday, December 31, 2010

Black eyed peas!!! Happy New Year!!!!

Sorry I've been so negligent in writing.  The kids are out of school, and I promise, we have been eating, but I just haven't been writing much.  We've just been too busy!!!  I think when they get back in school and the holidays are over, I will get back to telling you about our attempts at eating healthy in the real-I-am-not-a-chef world!

It's the new year tomorrow, so you MUST have black eyed peas.  My family comes from the south (yes, Florida is the south and yes, my family actually has been native to Florida since about 1900 ..... thanks a lot Mom and Dad for moving to the Midwest!!  Not!!).  Anyway, in the south, black eyed peas are the New Years' meal.  I always find it funny when people in the north don't know this, but I know some of them must because of all the cans (yuck) of black eyed peas at the grocery store.

Obviously, I want you to buy a BAG of peas, not a can, LOL, but please leave one on the shelves for me.  These beans are easy to cook because they require no overnight soaking.  Traditionally, you need a hog jowl, and this is what I usually use, but I have a nice ham bone this year that I will use instead.  There is still ham left on this bone, so that will add some meat to our peas.  I'm excited.  So are the kids; they're already talking asking when we are having them.  If you can't use a hog jowl, I guess you can use bacon, but a hog jowl is the traditional way.

Rinse the beans, put them in a pot of water (as much as directed for the amount you're cooking), add the ham bone and some chopped onion (one or two onions) for flavor.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours (or as directed on the bag of beans).  You may also add garlic or other spices you like.  Don't add the salt until they're finished cooking.  I also like adding some Bragg's Liquid Aminos for flavor.

I will most likely cook the ham bone for several hours before I add the beans.  Bone broth is very nutritious, so I want to take advantage of having this ham bone.  Sometime I will have to tell you more about bone broth.

We sit around and eat these all day.  They have been eaten in the south for generations on New Year's Day as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!  As my Biggie (my great-grandmother) would say - "Peas for peace, jowls for joy, and greens for wealth"

Monday, December 20, 2010


Today was a very busy day.  Christmas is coming up this weekend, so I had so much to do, and taught pilates on top of that!

I bought one package of cheese tortellini and two packages of beef/spinach ravioli out of the freezer at Whole Foods.  I also bought a package of organic arugula and a tub of shredded cheese (three cheese blend).

This is so simple, I'm almost embarrassed to post about it, but I got such good comments about the dinner from my husband and kids, I have to!!!

Bring water to a boil.  Dump the pasta in the water.  I did not time it, but the time is on the package.

While the pasta was boiling, I rinsed the arugula and used my lettuce spinner to get some of the water off.  In the bottom of a salad bowl I poured some olive oil, the juice of a whole lemon, some maple syrup, and some roasted garlic from a jar and mixed with my wooden salad spoon (I have a wooden salad spoon/fork set for serving).  I dumped the arugula in the mixture and tossed.

I scooped out a piece of tortellini and ate it to see if it was done, and it was, so I drained the pasta.  I dumped it into a bowl, then poured olive oil over it.  I added dried oregano and tossed.

I topped the pasta with shredded cheese when I served it.  You would have thought it was a gourmet meal I spent the afternoon on!!!  My family thought it was very tasty and elegant!!


I know, I know .... you're looking at the last entry and thinking, "But how does she make the CHICKEN?"!!!!  So, I'll tell you, it's simple!

I bought a package of organic, free range chicken legs.  We all like the dark meat, and legs are a cheaper way to feed a big family.  I buy the large, family size package, which is an additional $ off.

I rinse the chicken, then place it in a greased, glass Pyrex baking dish.  I cover the chicken with olive oil, then spices.  I read this article by Dr. Mercola a while back, and use those spices for meat because they taste good and they have health benefits.  The day the picture was taken, I generously sprinkled paprika and Todd's Dirt on the chicken because I felt like something spicy and simple.

I cooked the meat uncovered at 350 degrees for about an hour.  If the chicken is watery, at some point you might want to pour off the water so the skin can crisp up.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gorgonzola mashed potatoes!!!

Oddly enough, one of my kids' favorite dishes is gorgonzola mashed potatoes!  Weird kids!  I will ask what they want for dinner when I'm on my way to the grocery, and they'll say "A big bowl of mashed potatoes, that good kind with the cheese."

I used a bag of red potatoes.  I cleaned and halved them, put them in a pot, and filled the pot with water, enough to cover the potatoes.  I boil the potatoes until they are soft (I check with a fork).  Then I dump the water off, add a stick of butter, a tub of gorgonzola cheese and enough milk to be able to mash them.  I never peel potatoes, and I always mash them by hand.  It's always a rougher mashed potato, but it's the way I prefer them.

I used to buy pre-cooked, organic bacon with no preservatives that was already chopped up, but Whole Foods stopped carrying it (it's too convenient I guess, grrrr).  So, I buy a small package of organic bacon with no preservatives and cook it while the potatoes are cooking.  I let it cool before I chop it up.

Once the potatoes are mashed, then I throw the bacon in and stir it around.  Seriously, my kids would eat it alone for dinner.  I served it with chicken and green beans.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pot roast, attempt #2

As you know, I tried making pot roast a couple weeks ago, and it was very good, but wasn't the recipe I wanted to try.

Sunday they were calling for snow to start at 1 PM.  I hadn't been to the grocery in a while because I had been so busy Christmas shopping all week (thus no posts here, sorry!), so like everyone else, I had to stock up before the snowstorm.  My oldest daughter took most of the kids with her to Kroger because most of the Kroger stuff is stuff they need - shampoo, school lunch food, pencils, etc.

I went to Whole Foods with my youngest.  While I was there I thought I'd buy ingredients for the pot roast I wanted to make, but of course I didn't have the recipe with me.  Perfect for this real life cooking blog, huh?!

So, I bought a pound of buffalo and a pound of 100% grass-fed beef, both cut into stew meat.  I bought carrots and potatoes.  I already had onions and garlic at home.  I should have bought beef broth, but didn't think of it.

Sunday we had chili for dinner.  I have my chili recipe on the blog a couple times already, so I'm not posting it.  I didn't do anything special with it.  Sometime I will change it a bit and post it again.  Monday I made the pot roast.

I dug up the recipe card I had picked up at wine tasting and realized this recipe isn't even what I would refer to as pot roast.  Hmm.  It's a regular roast in a roasting pan with veggies in the bottom of the pan.  That's not a pot at all!!  No chance of being able to make the recipe this time either!

Now, to make up my own recipe ..... I put about 4 tbsp (didn't measure, not important to measure) whole wheat flour with rosemary and thyme (maybe a tsp of each?  probably a little more) into a big stainless steel bowl.  I put the meat cubes into the mixture and stirred around.

I heated some ghee in the pot, then added the coated meat and the extra flour into the melted ghee (clarified butter).  I let the meat brown while I cut up the carrots, potatoes and onions.  I also spooned in some garlic from a jar into the pot with the meat.

I stirred the meat in the pot a couple times to allow it to brown on all sides.  Then I added a little water to the pan and scraped the bottom to get the tasty brown stuff mixed in.  Next I added all the veggies off my cutting board, poured in a little red wine, then added enough water to cover (I wish it had been beef broth).

I brought it to a simmer then moved it to the 250 degree oven (you can leave it at a simmer on the stove top) for a few hours.  It was good, everyone liked it.  A little plain for us, but it was good.  I served it over a slice of bread because it was really juicy, the bread soaked up the juices a bit.

Maybe next time I'll finally try out that recipe!!!  LOL!!  But it's not really a pot roast ......

Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sweet potato casserole!!

I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving!!!  I know I've been delinquent in writing about our eating, I'm sorry.  We had out of town company for a few days around Thanksgiving, then I just got busy.

I won't tell you about the entire dinner, but I do want to share a couple of my favorite recipes.  The first is sweet potato casserole.

I don't have a link to give you to this recipe because it is from First Magazine about TWENTY years ago!!!!  Their website is

Sweet Potato Casserole, serves 8

4 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams
12 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Butter a 2 qt. baking dish.  Peel and quarter potatoes.  Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil in a large pot of salted water.  Cook until tender (15 min.).  Drain and mash.  Melt 4 tbs. butter in the hot pot.  Stir in potatoes, eggs, cinnamon, and mix well.  Place in prepared baking dish.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt remaining 8 tbsp. butter.  Combine flour, sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Stir in butter.  Add pecans and mix until crumbly.  Sprinkle over potatoes.  Bake until golden brown, 30-35 min.

This recipe is soooo good!!!  One year I made a different, and quite excellent recipe and everyone threw a fit!!  It didn't have the pecan topping!!!!  I make this in a 9 x 13 Pyrex baking dish so that it's "flatter" otherwise the topping is too thick and not everyone gets some because the potatoes under the topping are also too thick.  I make 1 1/5 times what's called for because I'm always cooking for about 14 on Thanksgiving.

More recipes to come .....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grilled cheese and avocado!!!

Today reading Facebook I saw a friend's post that said she had eaten a grilled cheese sandwich with avocado for breakfast.  It sounded so good, I had it for lunch!

I just melted some butter in my cast iron skillet.  I places two slices of Ezekiel Bread in the butter and topped the bread with mild cheddar cheese.  Once warm and once they had sopped up some butter, I put together the two slices of bread/cheese together like a sandwich and cooked until the cheese was melted and the bread browned.

After I took it off the heat, I added avocado slices and almond butter, salted, reassembled the sandwich and enjoyed.

A quick, easy lunch!!!

Chicken soup!!!

You will find out this winter that chicken soup is one of my favorite things to make.  Friday I went to Whole Foods and bought stuff for chicken soup .... just a bunch of things I felt like eating - a whole chicken, carrots, onion, celery, already chopped cabbage, and sweet potatoes.  I had a jar of roasted garlic at home.

When I got home, I melted butter in the pot over medium heat and added four, small, roughly chopped onions.  I cooked the onions until they were caramelized (very brown).  Then I added a lot of garlic, the chopped carrots and celery.

I rinsed the chicken and added it to the pot, then filled it with enough water to cover the chicken.  I brought it to a simmer and simmered for about an hour.

After an hour, I removed the chicken, let it cool, then took off all the meat.  I put the bones back into a metal strainer (actually the steamer out of my pasta pot), then put the basket into the soup to let the bones simmer longer.

Several hours later, I added back the chicken and added the diced sweet potato and the chopped cabbage.  I let it cook about a half hour longer.

The picture is what it looked like when I added the final ingredients.  It was sooo good!!  And I made enough to last a few meals.  I did not put a lot of seasonings into this one.  With the sweet potatoes and the caramelized onions, it tasted sweet.  If you must have herbs, I would add thyme, but I think all it really needs is just a little salt.

Beet salad!!!

Sorry I've gotten behind on posting .... I'm certainly not behind on EATING!!!!!

I have to post a picture of a beet salad I had at Oceanaire, a restaurant in Indianapolis -

On the bottom are roasted red and yellow beets.  They are topped with thinly cut apples and gorgonzola cheese.  Wow!!!!  It was SO good!!!!  I am going to try to duplicate this.  Yum!  I will let you know how it goes ......

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Buffalo steak!!

I'm eating a lot of buffalo lately because it's much higher in iron than beef.  Heme iron from meat is more readily absorbed than iron supplements or iron from veggies, so I include a lot of red meat in my diet.  Buffalo is a very healthy red meat.

Yesterday I needed an iron boost, so I bought a bison ribeye.  I took my cast-iron skillet, melted some butter, and placed the steak into the melted butter (after rinsing the meat, of course).  I topped the steak with organic roasted garlic out of a jar.  I cooked for 5-6 min., flipped, then 5-6 min. more.

I cooked mine on the floor of the 450 degree oven to avoid having to clean up splatters on the stove-top, but it can also be cooked on med. heat on a regular stove.

It was perfectly med. rare and tasted GREAT!!!!  I had a glass of Layer Cake shiraz with the steak and some dark chocolate for dessert.

I made buffalo chili for the kids (same as last time, so the recipe is already posted), and hubby was out of town.  I had the leftover chili for lunch, ti was great, too!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Tonight we're all eating in shifts because of everyone's activities.  Those of us who are at home together, eat together.

I usually use corn tortillas for enchiladas, but I was shopping at Kroger today and they don't carry organic corn tortillas.  We won't use non-organic corn because almost all of it is GMO, so I used tortillas I had at home.  I needed to use them up anyway .... they were a mix of Ezekiel, spelt, and organic wheat.

I like La Preferida authentic beans.  They are made with lard so have a wonderful flavor.  I never use non-fat beans ...  ewww.  :-D  I also used organic, grated cheddar cheese and enchilada sauce.  Whatever brand of enchilada sauce is fine, just be sure you can pronounce all the ingredients.  ;)

This is soooo easy!!  Just open the cans of beans, place the beans down the center of the tortillas (be sure to use enough, this is the filling), then roll up the tortilla.  Place in a greased baking dish.  Use a baking dish that is large enough to hold all your enchiladas, but small enough that the enchiladas fill up the dish.

Top with enchilada sauce.  Bake at 350 until warm, about 30 min.  Take out of oven and top with grated cheddar.  Heat for an additional 5 min, take out of oven and let cool for 5-10 min.  Serve.

I made two dishes ..... one for the first shift that has already eaten, and now the second dish is in the oven cooking so it will be ready for the others who are eating later.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Beer can chicken on the grill!!!

It's been such a beautiful week with weather in the 70's that we decided to grill out.  Cooler temperatures are not the only reason people don't grill out in the late fall ..... it also gets dark early!!  So, yes, we felt like we were cooking out past 10 PM, but it was worth it.

Beer can chicken is GREAT!!!  The beer keeps the chicken very moist and the spices make it very flavorful.  I bought whole, organic chickens from Whole Foods, two of them because I'm always feeding a crowd.

Now, when you grill, it's "man's work", LOL, so my husband had to rinse the chickens, then he held them while I poured safflower oil over them.  He rubbed the oil all over the chicken to coat it.  Then I sprinkled Todd's Bayou Dirt over them generously.  Next, you open the beer, pour out (or drink) 1/3 of it.  Then you stand the chicken up on the beer can.

We took the chickens outside to the already fired-up grill.  We use a charcoal grill and use real charcoal, not that chemical-laden regular stuff.

While we were walking out, I asked my husband if he poured out a third of the beer ..... he stopped walking, and said he hadn't even OPENED THE CANS!!!!  LOL!  So we went back inside, he stabbed the cans with a skewer through the opening in the top of the chicken.

Then we put the chicken on the grill and it took about an hour to cook.  Use a meat thermometer to be sure you bring the chicken up to a safe temperate.  And as always when grilling, take all the plates/utensils that touched the raw meat inside and wash.

While the chicken was cooking, I cooked about 8 slices of bacon and put on some green beans.  I used two bags of the thin kind (not french cut) from the freezer case.  I poured both bags into the pot, poured over some beef broth I had in the refrigerator, then filled the pot with enough water to just cover the beans.  I threw in a couple slices of raw bacon for flavor.  I brought it to a boil, then simmered in the 250 degree oven (or just turn down the heat on a regular stove).

I also cut about 8 potatoes in half, skin on, placed them in another pot, covered them with water, and brought it to a boil.  I simmered the potatoes for 15-20 minutes until a fork would easily break them when stabbed.  I left the potatoes in the hot water until the chicken was done.

Once the chicken was done and hubby was cutting it up into parts, I poured off the hot water from the potatoes.  Added a little less than a stick of butter (it was what was on the butter dish), the previously cooked bacon that I had cut into small pieces, a tub of gorgonzola cheese pieces, about a tsp. of roasted garlic out of a jar, and then mashed the potatoes with a hand masher.  I added whipping cream (the kind that comes in a milk carton), as needed. I think it was about 2/3 of the pint container.  This is my own version of a recipe I saw on the Food Network.

On the table, there was a sliced loaf of pretzel bread and some butter to go along with dinner.  This is a wonderful dinner .... very tasty.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lunch - polenta and sun-dried tomatoes

Today for lunch, I sliced some pre-made polenta, browned it in melted butter in a skillet, then topped it with sliced sun-dried tomatoes that were packed in olive oil.  Be sure to drizzle on some of that tasty olive oil!  Mmmmm.

I'll have to tell you about my cast-iron skillets!!!  I love them!!  They're the best!  Next post .....

Lunch - quinoa and beans

Yesterday for lunch I had quinoa and beans.  I used the red quinoa.  I don't know that it tastes any different, but I thought I'd try it.  I always buy the pre-rinsed.  It's only pennies more expensive and is worth it to save the hassle, otherwise you have to rinse it to prevent it from tasting bitter.

I put the whole bag of quinoa in my rice cooker with almost 4 cups of water, and 3 cups in the bottom reservoir.

Once it was done, I doused it with olive oil and some butter (I like them together because it's a bit creamier than just olive oil).   I rinsed a can of salad beans and served those on top of each serving of quinoa.

Quick, easy, and healthy!!  High in fiber, protein, and iron!

Pot roast, attempt #1

Last Friday hubby and I went to Whole Foods for their wine tasting.  I love it both for the tastes of wine and the samples of food.  This time they had a pot roast at the meat department station.  It was SO good!!!  I picked up the recipe because I knew I had to make it at home!!!

Yesterday was the day ..... I got online and went to Whole Foods website.  I found this recipe -

I went to the store and bought all the ingredients.  I bought 2 3/4 pounds of meat, half grass fed beef, half buffalo.  I bought the already cubed kind because that's how I like my pot roast.  I don't like making a whole roast, though maybe I should try it that way sometime.

I bought 7 large carrots, a bag of potatoes, two cans of tomato paste, and two boxes of beef broth, all organic.

I mixed 6 tbsp flour (more than double because there's more surface area with the cubed meat), 3 tsp. dried thyme, and some salt and pepper, heavy on the salt.  I also added garlic powder.  I didn't see the garlic cloves the recipe called for, but I thought that it needed garlic and that this was a good place to add it.

I rinsed off the meat cubes.  My husband used to work at a grocery and a few times worked at the butcher shop in the grocery .... he says ALWAYS, ALWAYS rinse the meat, so I do.  Then I put the meat cubes into the flour mixture and stirred it around.

I heated up some oil in the pot I was going to cook the stew in, added the meat, and browned as directed in the recipe.  I scraped the bottom of the pot.  Because both grass-fed beef and bison are low in fat, there was nothing to pour off.

I cut up all the veggies as directed (Wow!  I followed directions with that part!!) and added them, the broth, and the tomato paste to the pot and stirred.

If I had a crock-pot, I would have put all the ingredients there, but since I'm using my Aga, I left them in the large, cast-iron pot.  I put it in the 350 degree oven because I made it at lunch time and not in the morning.  I would have used a lower temperature if it had been the morning.

I checked on it about 3:00 because I needed something to eat before I went to teach pilates.  I could eat it, but the veggies were still crisp and the meat still firm, not what you want for pot roast, but it tasted great!!

My husband was supposed to feed it to the kids about 6:15 when two of them got home from band.  He saw me making this at lunch, but I guess I never told him to EAT IT!!!  So ...... it sat in the 350 degree oven until 7 PM when my daughter got home from teaching her pilates classes (yes, we both teach pilates!!).

When I found out at 7:45 that hubby didn't feed it to the kids and called home to see if they ate it (you can't smell food cooking in the Aga because it vents outside, so they wouldn't have known it was there), my daughter said yes, and that she put it back into the oven she got it out of instead of just the warming oven, so it continued to cook.  Argh!  But she did comment that it was GREAT!!!  They LOVED it!!

I got home about 8 PM, and by then it had cooked a bit too long.  It tasted wonderful, but lets just say, I was glad I was not having dinner guests because by this time it was not pretty.  The meat had fallen apart so much my husband thought it was a vegetarian dish.  Five hours earlier, the meat was not cooked enough, so next time maybe 3 hours less cooking time, two hours more than what it was at 3, haha.

Oh, and on top of all this, when I was gone, I found the REAL recipe for the pot roast I liked at wine tasting in my purse.  NOT the same recipe at all!!!!  Next week, be looking forward to the pot roast I liked at Whole Foods!  Tonight's dinner, leftovers.  :)  Leftovers are great because in combination with not teaching pilates today, I have the whole day to get my painting project done!!!

I served the pot roast with Whole Foods pretzel bread and butter.  Yum!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quick dinner

Today we all went for a long walk to enjoy the beautiful fall.  All of us were beat when we got back plus it was close to dinner-time, so I went to Whole Foods and looked at their prepared food case.

I bought a sweet potato/potato mix and corn fritters there.  I bought an already prepared, raw meatloaf from the butcher, and some frozen, french cut green beans in the frozen foods.

I came home and put the meatloaf in the 450 degree oven.  Remember, my stove is always on, I thought it would cook faster in the hot oven, and with the soft heat of the Aga the increased temperature won't cook it all wacky.  In a regular oven I would cook it as directed.

I put the corn fritters and potatoes in a greased, Pyrex baking dish.  They are warming in the 350 degree oven.  To grease the baking dish, I just poured in a little olive oil, then rubbed it around with a small paper towel.

After about 20 minutes, I will start steaming the green beans in a pot with a steamer under the beans.  I will cook them for about 20 min. because I like green beans a little on the soft side.

I will butter both the potatoes and the beans.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Buffalo chili!!!

I have been anemic lately (long story, but basically they were out of my iron supp so I tried another one that didn't work), so I've been eating more buffalo because of its high iron content.  It's lower fat, calories and cholesterol than beef, and it's higher in protein, iron and B12.

I browned then drained 2 1/2 pounds of ground buffalo in a large cast iron pot.  I added chopped onions (2 small) and carrots (a couple handfuls of baby carrots).  When meat was brown and veggies softened I added two 28 oz. cans of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes and four cans of Westbrae chili beans (rinsed).  Also, chili powder and chipotle powder.

I heated it up and let it simmer for a few hours, it can be stovetop but I put it in my 250 degree Aga oven.

The kids had theirs over top of corn chips topped with grated pepper jack cheese.  I had mine with just chili and pepper jack.  YUM!!  And a very easy dinner to make.  It's unnecessary to cook for as long as I did, but the flavors do seem to be better if you can.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


So today I was busy painting all day (and I will be busy with this project for the next couple weeks), and I didn't make it to the grocery.

I thought, "Great, I'll make pancakes!"  But no such luck, but I did have a bag of oatmeal.  I use Bob's Red Mill oats.  I put 4 cups in a pot with 8 cups cold salted water.  I heated it to a simmer while stirring so it didn't stick to the bottom.  Then I lowered the heat and let it cook a while longer.

We ate it with real organic butter, grade B maple syrup (it has more flavor than grade A), some had a touch of milk.  Very tasty and everyone loved it!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Taco night!!!

I've been out of town, so haven't been cooking lately.  It was so nice staying at my friend's house and waking up to warm coffee every day.  Why is coffee so much better when someone else makes it???  LOL!

So, tacos ..... I bought blue corn tortilla hard taco shells from Whole Foods.  Also, grass-fed beef, refried beans, butter lettuce, roma tomatoes, cilantro, garlic-cilantro salsa, and grated pepper jack cheese (almost all of that organic).  I had a cucumber left from the ones we bought at the farmer's market a couple weeks ago.

I was taking a pilates class at 6:30 and my kids didn't get home until about then, so I browned the ground beef before I left and put it in the warming oven.  I took the refried beans out of the can into a cast-iron pot and put it in the 250 oven to heat up while I was gone.  The Aga makes things more convenient to make things ahead of time, but you make everything basically the same way even if you don't have one.  :)

To brown the ground beef I just put it in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and used a spatula to break it up while it was cooking.  I salted it and added some chipotle seasoning and cumin.  When it was cooked, I blotted it with paper towels because there was little liquid to pour off and I could see it was greasy.

When I cooked the beans, I added a little bit of water to them so they were easier to stir.  Once they get warm, they are easier to stir, so not a lot of water.  You can also heat these up on the stove-top, but be sure to keep stirring so it doesn't stick to the bottom .... and if they start to "boil" they splatter all over the place.

Be sure to chop up the veggies small.  I let everyone assemble their own, it's just easier that way.

This is one of our favorite dinners!!  And it's SO easy to make!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Millet Garden Medley

This meal is great, it's gluten-free and vegetarian!!

My husband went to the farmer's market and came back with a bunch of sweet potatoes.  This is a meal that includes sweet potatoes, so it was perfect.

I *try* to follow recipes .... it just doesn't work!!!  I copied a grocery list right off the recipe and somehow missed buying several of the items.  : /  Here's the "official" recipe of what I made:

Here's what I forgot .... chicken broth!!  Garbanzo beans!!  Oops, hang on, forgot to put in the chili powder, be right back ....

I seemed to have recovered.  

I used my handy-dandy cheater chopper from Pampered Chef (no, I don't represent them!) to chop the carrots (a handful of baby carrots, or maybe three handfuls), a couple stalks of celery and an onion.  I sauteed it in some unmeasured olive oil.  When the onions were close to translucent, I added roasted garlic out of a jar (I don't like messing with garlic).  

I added the little chicken broth I had and two cans of kidney beans.  ALWAYS rinse canned beans!!!!  No, I didn't make them from dried beans, takes too long.  I added some water.  I chopped up things one at a time and added as I went along .... 3 sweet potatoes, 7 fingerling potatoes, a few kale leaves, a bag of corn, one broccoli top, but no tomatoes, I don't like them, and no parsnips because Whole Foods was out. Then I topped it off with enough water to cover.  Here's what it looked like:

Since I was low on chicken broth, I'm going to dissolve some miso in some water at the end and add it for flavor.  I'm not cooking the miso for hours because it is fermented and has beneficial properties that are destroyed by cooking it for too long.

I currently have the veggies simmering on the stovetop (Aga owners can put it inside the upper left oven, but I didn't because I like the veggies to soften.  To keep them crisp, put it inside the oven.).  I also have the millet cooking in my rice cooker.  If you don't have one of these, it's a must-buy!!!!  I have a Rival, but it's similar to this one: 

You need a rice cooker because it cooks things like rice, of course, but also millet and quinoa.  It makes grains a breeze and you don't have to worry about them becoming sticky.

This was great topped with some salt and Bragg's Liquid Aminos.

As you can see, you don't have to be a genius or super-organized to cook a good dinner, you just have to be willing to experiment!!  This is a great recipe ..... of course, I've never followed it to the letter!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pizza Night!!

Yum!!  We went to Dewey's for pizza tonight and it was delicious!!!

The front one was the one I ate.  That is a 17", has olive oil and garlic for sauce, topped with cheese, feta cheese, spinach, black and green olives, red onions and tomatoes.  It was SO good!!!!

I had a harvest salad before dinner.  It had field greens, romaine, figs (I thought that was original!!), pumpkin seeds, bacon, boursin cheese, and apple cider honey vinaigrette (on the side).  YUM!!!

I also had a pumpkin spice beer.

Nice eating out on a busy weekend!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mac and cheese!!

Last night my kids wanted mac and cheese.  I'm starting to see the end of this bug .... I've hardly been eating, but the mac and cheese was so mild that it was perfect for me.

First, start boiling the water!  It can take forever, so get it started!  You can always turn it to a simmer if it boils before you're ready.  Get out a baking dish and grease it.  I just use a paper towel to rub some oil on it.

While the water is boiling, melt some butter.  Remember, I'm cooking for a crowd, so I melt a whole stick, organic of course!!  While it melts, get out the flour .... spoon some into some cold water.  I use several tablespoons.  I don't measure, you can always add more later if you want.  (I know I'm not specific, but if you learn by trying, you won't be so reliant on a cookbook or recipe!!  This is how our grandmothers cooked!!!).  Stir the flour into the water (about a cup, I mix this in a coffee mug) with a fork.

Next, pour flour mixture into the butter and whisk.  Have the milk ready when you do this.  When it thickens a bit (it takes like a second to thicken!!), the pour in milk.  Think about the size of your baking dish.  You will want enough liquid to cover the pasta in that dish.  Add grated cheddar cheese.  I also added some parmesan last night.  I used about 2/3 of a large package, the amount isn't that important.  You can taste it as it melts to see if you want more.  Whisk as this heats up over low-med heat.  Don't bring it to a boil, but to a simmer.  It will thicken a bit as it warms.  Set aside.

Cook your noodles according to the directions on the box.  They can be gluten-free, or whatever noodles you want.  I like elbows or spirals.

Drain noodles and put them into the baking dish.  Then pour cheese mixture on top.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheddar over the dish and bake until bubbly ... probably about 20-30 min. depending on how brown you want the top.  Let sit for 10 min, then serve.  If you serve it early, it will be watery, which tastes just fine.

I forgot to take a picture last night, so the picture below is of the last time I made mac and cheese.  That time I put bread crumbs on top!  Try different things!!  Take chances!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Been sick :(

Sorry I haven't been blogging, I haven't forgotten, I've just been sick.  I've had no appetite.  My kids have taken advantage of the opportunity and have walked over to Subway for dinner the past couple nights (yes, the kids who brought this bug home to me!!!).  I have never been there since it opened, LOL.  We have passed this bug through the whole family.  Three of us have it now .... I had one home with me today.  Two others were home with me last week.

Since I haven't had anything interesting to write about, that is unless you find Blue Diamond Nut-thins (gluten-free) topped with Justin's Maple Almond Butter for "dinner" to be interesting, I'll show you a grilled cheese I had recently that WAS interesting!!!

There is a local, organic restaurant outside of Cincinnati called Wildflower Cafe.  It's a wonderful little place with all organic food, grass fed beef, local eggs, etc.  It's in a little victorian house and run by a local couple.  Not the friendliest staff (and by that I mean the owners), but they do have great food, and it's nice to get this kind of food out at a restaurant and not just at home.

Now THAT'S a grilled cheese sandwich!!!!  Normally it comes with potato chips, but I got a side salad. Yes, I told you that a lot of raw food gives me a stomach ache .... and this did, haha, but once I took an HCL I was just fine!!

What you are seeing is butter toasted rosemary bread, melted provolone & cheddar, organic blue, organic feta, shaved onion, fresh tomato, organic greens, and bacon.  The sandwich is cut in half, stacked, then a toothpick holds it together with a couple pickles speared at the top.  The side salad has a balsamic vinaigrette that was delicious.  I can't wait to have another!!!

Thanks for stopping by!!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Buckwheat pancakes!!

For Sunday breakfast today, we had buckwheat pancakes .... mmmmm!

I just used Arrowhead Mills buckwheat pancake batter, four cups of batter, one cup kefir, three cups milk (plus more milk to thin batter), and four eggs.  I stirred with a whisk.  I use a ladle to pour the batter right on the oiled simmering plate (or a skillet).  Wait until the bubbles on the top start popping and look dryish, then flip.

We had choices for toppings - organic butter, organic ghee, coconut butter, coconut oil, and real maple syrup.  I prefer grade B syrup .... yes, not grade A, but grade B!!!  Grade B is not only cheaper, it's less refined so has more flavor.

I'm just getting used to this batter, it's a little on the thick side, but if you water it down with more milk, then it lacks flavor.  I might try mixing it with the buttermilk variety next week to see how well that works .... and I will give you a report.

We had lattes with our pancakes .... yum!!

Chili leftovers

For leftovers, if you want them to taste leftover, then use the microwave!  Microwaved food tasted GROSS!!  Do a test.  Take some frozen corn.  Heat up a dish of it in the microwave with some butter and heat up a second serving in a pot on the stove in some water, then butter.  See which tastes better and which takes longer to make.  It's a myth that the microwave saves time.

For the leftover chili we had for dinner last night .... well, it had gotten a bit dry.  I didn't have any canned tomato sauce, so I used some chicken broth to freshen it up.  I just heated it on the stovetop and stirred while it was heating.  For Aga owners, if you have the time, stick it in the upper left oven and it will heat up on its own.  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Popcorn!! Hummus!

Yesterday my daughter couldn't go to school due to pink eye (poor kid!), so we watched a movie and had some popcorn!

Please don't use that icky microwave stuff, it's just as easy to make your own!

Here's what we had - organic popcorn, otherwise it's probably GMO (, popped in an air popper.  We topped it with melted ghee, organic butter, and coconut oil.  If you want to use coconut oil, it's best mixed with butter or it doesn't absorb into the popcorn and the popcorn will taste dry with an oily coating.  We also squirted on some Bragg's Liquid Aminos and some sea salt.

We are always sharing popcorn, so we have one person pop and the other melt the butter, so both are ready at the same time!

Another regular snack and one I just had today is hummus.  I bought some hummus the other day after not having bought it for a couple weeks and my 17 year old daughter said, "Yay!!  Hummus!!" when she saw it!  Natural snacks can taste good!  I like to eat it spread with a knife on rice crackers, but my daughter prefers to dip organic corn chips in it.  Either way .... YUM!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Goup! Okay .... chili mac!

My great-grandmother Biggie used to make a dish whenever we came to visit called "goup".  Basically, it was chili with macaroni in it, and my husband insists that's called chili-mac.  Well, Biggie made hers in a large cast iron skillet, but I have eight people eating tonight, so mine is simmering in a large cast iron pot.

This is one of those nights that one - I don't feel like cooking, and two - everyone is busy with activities and is eating in shifts.  It's a good night for a one pot dish that I can just leave for hours in the Aga .... a crock pot also works, but, be sure it doesn't have lead.  Many of the older versions have lead.

This is what I did.  I should tell you I go to the grocery every day that I'm cooking (last night's pizzas doesn't count as cooking!).  I bought 3 pounds of grass-fed ground beef, two 28 oz cans of Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, 4 cans of Westbrae chili beans, and a box of Quinoa macaroni elbows, which brings up a point ..... most of my meals are gluten-free.  I don't have to eat gluten-free, but I am not a big believer that it's great for you, so I avoid it much of the time, or I eat sprouted grains like the Ezekiel tortillas I made pizza with last night.

I browned the ground beef in the cast iron pot the chili is simmering in.  I poured off the grease/water.  I meant to saute an onion with the ground beef, but oops!  So, I added the chopped onion and about 2 dozen chopped baby carrots to the pot.  Then I added the tomatoes and beans .... stirred.  I brought it to a simmer, then moved it to an oven that is 250 degrees ... it can simmer on the stove or can be put into a crock pot if you make it early enough (good luck with that, LOL, I never can manage to be that organized, though I try!).

I cheat when I chop!  I have a Pampered Chef food chopper and it makes it soooo easy!!!  I used it for the onions and carrots.

As I sit here, I realize that I didn't season it, so I'll get up when I'm finished telling you about dinner and go do that.  I don't really measure.  I know what herbs and spices I like and I know what they taste like and how much to use.  When you use an herb, I would suggest first taking it easy and maybe making dishes with one herb so you can learn what it tastes like .... like, sprinkle it over a chicken breast.  Also, smell your herbs to remind you of what they taste like.  Over time, you'll know how much to use and which ones, so you can read my recipes and say, "Yuck, I'll leave that herb out!"  :)

I will go back to the kitchen and add some salt, chopped garlic, chili powder (lots!), and chipotle powder (I love it and almost always put it in chili, it has a nice smoky flavor).  I use Simply Organic brand chili powder and it has other herbs in it, like garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander, etc., so I don't really need much more than that!  I'm generally heavy handed with herbs and spices because I love them!!!  I would recommend putting in how much you think you want, then let it simmer for a few minutes, then add more.  Once I made the chili so hot because I used a pre-packaged mix from a trade show my husband had gone to that none of us could eat it!!  I just dumped the whole package in!!  Yikes!!  You can't take the spices out once they're in!  (This time I probably put in 1 tbsp per pound of beef, and an additional half tbsp of chipotle chili powder per pound .... but that's a guesstimate).

A little while before I am ready to serve the chili, I will boil the pasta and add it.  Simple!

Off I go to add herbs ..... thanks for stopping by!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hahaha!! We're having quick and easy pizza!!

I've just spent so much time getting this blog set up, it's now 5 PM and I haven't thought about dinner yet!  How ironic!!

So this is what we're having - PIZZA!!  I'm taking an Ezekiel tortilla, coating the top of it with extra virgin olive oil.  Then I'm spreading organic garlic on it out of a jar of already minced garlic.  I'll cut up some organic leeks to sprinkle on top, then top with lots of organic cheese.

I have an Aga:

You can put your pizza on your oven rack, but I will be putting mine on the floor of the 450 degree oven for about five minutes, or until it looks done.  When it's cooked, I'll top it with basil, oregano, salt, and hot red peppers.  Yum!!!

The great part about this is my kids can assemble their own.  My kids prefer flatbreads instead of the tortillas for their pizzas.  Some use olive oil, some spaghetti sauce, some barbecue sauce.  Some add ham, some add leeks, sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers.  I keep all this stuff stocked in my refrigerator so that we can have this delicious snack/meal whenever we want!!


Hi, I'm sixhungrykids and I have another blog at that talks about my battle with Lyme Disease.  Because I am active in the Lyme community and people know I cook from scratch, I get asked all the time how I make things.  I don't use many recipes .... I know what flavors I like, and generally make something up using the foods I want for that meal.

There are plenty of evenings I wish I could just click on a website and be told what's for dinner tonight.  I hope to become something like that with this blog!

Sometimes I spend a long time cooking dinner using a complicated recipe, sometimes I throw something together quicker than you could heat up a frozen meal.  I'll tell about both here.  I'll try to post pictures, but I can't post smells, sorry!!

I have been told several times that I should do a cooking blog.  Every time I say no because I'm really not a trained cook and really don't think I have any business writing a food blog.  However, I do have a large family, eat a lot of things that are gluten-free, eat healthy, and have learned all this on my own over the past decade.  So, I do have things to share and look forward to sharing them with you!

Thanks for stopping by!