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 .....