Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Soaked, (Un) Refried Beans ~ A Simple Recipe

Growing up so close to the Mexican boarder, I thought refried beans were a staple in everyone's home.  We had them in one dish or another almost every day.  Our favorite way to eat them was in the form of what my mom called quesorritos (pictured above): a cross between a bean burrito and a quesadilla.  We loved them.  My kids categorize them as a comfort food now, too.  Add a dollop of creme fraiche and your favorite salsa and/or some guacamole on top and you've got yourself a pretty tasty meal, I tell you.

Making your own refried beans (consequently, this recipe never fries the beans) is too simple for words.  So skip the phytic acid-layden, BPA-contaminated, bad-salt-filled, canned beans and make a batch of these.  Besides the many health benefits and superior flavor, making your own is so much cheaper.  Also, they freeze well, so why not stock up?

Soaked, Refried Beans
Yields 4 quarts

4 cups dried black or pinto beans
Warm, filtered water
4 Tablespoons whey or lemon juice
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper (like bell), chopped
1 jalapeno or Anaheim chili, chopped, or several drops tabasco sauce (optional)
3 cloves garlic, seeded & minced
1 1/2 Tablespoon Celtic sea salt
  • Place beans in a large bowl.  Add whey or lemon juice and fill with filtered water.  The beans will greatly expand, so be sure to use plenty of water.  Stir, cover, and let soak 12-24 hours.

  1. When you're ready to make the refried beans, the beans should be nice and plump, some of them splitting apart, from soaking.  Goodbye phytic acid, hello, phtase, the happy enzyme that helps us digest and absorb the nutrients!  Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans.  Place them in a large pot and add filtered water; just enough to cover the top of the beans.  You can always add water if needed, but too much water will give you soupy beans.
  2. Place lid over beans and bring to a boil.  Remove lid and skim off any foam.  Now, you can either saute onions, pepper, & chili in some butter or oil (it will yield a yummier flavor), or just add the onions, pepper, and chili straight into the beans if you're short on time (like I usually am 90% of the time). 
  3. Stir, cover, and simmer for 2-4 hours.  You'll know the beans are ready when they start to fall apart (as seen in picture number three, below).
  4. If there is still too much water, you can skim some off.  Add garlic and salt.  Then, either use a potato masher or a hand-held blender to turn them into refried beans.  I store them in wide-mouthed, quart-sized mason jars and use these handy dandy lids.  Be sure not to over-fill the jars if you plan to freeze them.  I've done this... more than once, and you'll end up with a cracked jar.
** NOTE:  Charis reminded me that you can easily make these in the crock pot (thanks, Charis!).  I do recommend to start the beans in a pot so you can bring it to a boil and skim off the foam, but you can definitely finish them off in the slow cooker.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Never Want to Forget

Because I never want to forget the sweet things our children say during these tender years (that I know will fade away before we know it), and because what they say is too sweet or hilarious to keep to myself, here are a couple things our 5-year-old has said this month:

Do you want to know what will hold my heart forever?  My family.

(While squeezing my arm) I'm hugging Jesus who's in you!

Melt.  Times.  Infinity.
Excuse me while I grab all my kids in a massive, blubbery, sobby, hug as they wonder what on earth has come over their mom.

I'm sharing this at Gratituesday.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Weekly Menu Plan, Week 3

Let's do this again, shall we?  I don't know about you, but it's working for my simple brain to share what I make every week and show little notes as things come up on the menu plan.  So here are this week's notes:

  1. I've been sharing our previous week's menu.  That way, as I pioneer through it, all the kinks are worked out so you don't have to face the same problems as I did.  I'm just that nice, I tell you.
  2. I have three other notes to share, but they're too long, so I've decided to make them into separate posts.  So stay tuned.  I can tell you this much: one note involves gluten-free sourdough, another has to do with snacks, and the third is my shopping routine.  Oh, the excitement. 
To do: Pick up Azure order, make kefir cheese, soak peanuts & lentils, Trader Joe's run.
Breakfast: Apple cinnamon soaked, baked oatmeal
Snack: Blueberry kefir smoothies
Lunch: Strawberries and apples (from Azure order) with raw cheese and crispy nuts.
Snack: Leftover baked oatmeal
Dinner: Leftover sour cream melt from last Friday

To do: make peanut butter, thaw chicken stock for Thursday, start sourdough starter, make ice cream.
Breakfast: Grain-free banana pancakes, eggs & nitrate-free bacon
Snack: Strawberry banana kefir smoothies
Lunch: Hummus (made last week) wraps
Snack: Raw cheese & carrot slices
Dinner: Sloppy lentil bowls with kefir cheese (made Monday) and vanilla ice cream

To do: Make cheese crackers, soak porridge
Breakfast: Grain-Free Chocolate scones  & fresh raspberries
Snack: Veggie kefir smoothies
Lunch: PB & H popcorn, raw cheese, and carrot slices
Snack: Grain-free Cheese crackers
Dinner: Gluten-free Turkey Pesto PastaSkillet Italian Roots & Sweet Sausage

To do: Make cultured ketchup, thaw soup for Saturday, & Sunday's snack
Breakfast: Porridge & eggs
Snack: Mango kefir smoothies
Lunch: Asparagus artichoke salad with feta
Snack: Raw cheese & apple slices
Dinner: Nourishing Potato Cheddar Soup, cheese crackers (from Wednesday), & Grain-Free Lemon Bars

To do: Mill quinoa flour for tomorrow's breakfast
Breakfast: Grain-Free Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Snack: Mixed Berry Kefir Smoothies
Lunch: PB & H Popcorn, crispy almonds, & veggie slices
Snack: White bean hummus (made last week) with carrots, cucumber, and bell pepper slices
Dinner: (A version of) Chicken Sweet Potato Curry, veggie platter & cheese dip, Raw Samoa Cookies

To do: Farmer's Market
Breakfast: Sweet Potato Vanilla Patty Cakes & eggs
Snack: Strawberries from Farmer's Market
Lunch: Navy bean quesadillas and avocado slices
Snack: Pineapple Kefir Smoothies
Dinner: Dr. Connelly's Vegetable Soup (leftover from last week) & Farmer's Market Salad

To do: Menu Plan
Breakfast: Kefir Smoothies and eggs
Snack: Wheat(less) Thins (made Thursday)
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

Have a happy week!

I'm sharing this at Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gluten-Free Turkey Pesto Pasta ~ A Recipe

This recipe was concocted in the Trader Joe's isles a couple months ago in a desperate attempt to come up with a super-quick, super-frugal supper.  Bottom line.  It actually worked.  Let me break this down for you:

6 ingredients
15 minutes prep time
10 servings
 $1.57 per hearty serving

Hello!  The best part is... My family loves it.  Thank you, Jesus.  When you're faced with the option of either getting fast food or preparing something quick, a dish like this ends up being cheaper, way more nourishing, and by the time you're done making it, it would have taken you longer to go to a drive-thru.  So there, take-out "food."

Gluten-Free Turkey Pesto Pasta
1 package ground turkey (approx. 1.5 pounds)
1, 16-oz. bag organic brown rice pasta
1 jar pesto (mine was 6.7 oz. Even better, have some of your own on hand and use that!)
2 cloves garlic, seeded & minced
1 jar olives (we used the whole jar of kalamata as a treat.  We heart olives.  You can use less, or even non if you don't like them).
Parmesan cheese to taste (optional)

  1. Start cooking pasta.  While it cooks, brown turkey.
  2. Once the turkey is fully cooked, stir in pesto, garlic, and olives.  You can slice them, but if you're in a hurry, just dump them in like I did.
  3. By the time the meat mixture is done, the noodles should be ready.  Combine pasta and meat mixture.  Serve in bowls, top with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Beautiful Mistake

Today was going to be the last field trip of the school year.  We were going to see how wild horses are tamed.  We packed up a simple picnic of fresh raspberries, turkey, cheese, apples, and baked oatmeal squares.
Water bottles?
Aesop's Fables on CD?
Everyone went potty?
Ok, now check.
The drive was absolutely unbelievable.  The times I wanted to pull over on the side of the road to take pictures are too many to count.
Parts of the road rapidly lifted and dipped.
We were on a roller coaster.
Shrieks of delight.
Uncontrollable belly laughs.
Look how straight and tall the pines are!
See all those happy cows speckle the rolling, grassy hills!
Other parts of the drive was quite twisty and turney.
Mom, I'm car sick.  
Get me out of this car.
We made it!

There aren't many cars.  We're early.
Let's get out and look around.
Sweet mercies from heaven.  I'm in love with this porch.

Oh dear me.  Look at this garden!

Look at the kitty!
We all ache for a barn cat.
The secretary comes out and checks the books.
No.  No field trip scheduled for today.
Lots of staff changes, sorry this slipped through the cracks, she says.
Enjoy your day here.
Look around.
Picnic by the pond.
Thank you, I say.
I call the field trip organizer.
We were supposed to go to the site where they brake wild horses, two hours east of us.
We are where the wild horses are wild.
Where they graze, whinny, and be horses in the bright spring sun.
Well, this spot suites us even better!
What a beautiful mistake.
Thankful everyone is so sweet about my blunder.
I feel myself relaxing.
As a fat cat, bumbles up to the children.
As they quietly explore a bit.
As we sit by a canoe for a picnic.

As castles and forts are created from treasures discovered around us.
As we stop to watch fish.

We see the wild horses from a distance.
Nibbling grass, prancing, shaking their manes, braying, resting.  
It was all so right.

We thanked the secretary and drove home.
Through the windings.
Look straight ahead.
Up and over the lifts and drops.
Little giggles this time.
Everyone is quiet and peaceful.
Spirits are at rest.
Happiness is felt.
Life is good.
Thanking our kind Father for such a perfect surprise of a day.

I"m sharing this at You Capture.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gluten-Free Weekly Menu Plan, Week 2

Last week, more post ideas for the menu planning series were running through my head.  There are so many tools and components out there to make this process simple and enjoyable.  As different ideas came and went, I found myself exhausted.  So.  I decided to continue to post another week's menu to better share the flow of how food is planned over here.  
First, just a couple quick notes to explain the method of this madness:

Unless they are sweet, my husband despises eating leftovers the following day.  Despise is not too strong a word for this.  Because of this, leftovers have two fates:
1.  If there are enough leftovers to provide for another family meal, I freeze it and thaw it out for the the same day on the following week.
2.  If there are only enough leftovers for a serving or two, it is saved as a meal choice on Sunday (my day off).  
You'll see what I mean in this weekly menu.

We are trying out a new morning routine that involves a home economics hour.  An hour before lunch, the kids are welcomed to the inner workings of our kitchen.  Any snacks, condiments, or staples that need to be made for the week happen with my kids during this hour.  Basically, most of our kitchen to-dos happen then.  If there's any time left, we fine-tune our cleaning skills.  These are easy things for my kids to be apart of and my dream is for the children to have these basics mastered and in their routines.  These will be skills they can apply all throughout their lives, and preparing food traditionally won't require a learning curve once they're keeping their own homes.

To do: Make raw cacao nut butter cookies, creme fraiche, put frozen soup in fridge, thaw tonight's dinner, & make Trader Joe's run.
Breakfast: (A variation of) Soaked, Baked Oatmeal
Snack: Blueberry kefir smoothies
Lunch: Raw cheese, carrot slices, & raw cacao nut butter cookies
Snack: Leftover baked oatmeal
Dinner: Thawed turkey rice noodle pesto melt from last Monday

To do: Make hummus & thaw Thursday's dinner in the fridge.
Snack: Mango kefir smoothies
Snack: Crispy almonds and orange slices
Dinner: Asparagus Soup from last week & salad with kefir ranch dressing (also made last week)

To do: Make chicken stock, soak porridge, & thaw ground beef in the fridge.
Snack: Strawberry banana kefir smoothies
Snack: Carrot slices and raw cheddar
Dinner: (A variation of) Texas-style crustless quiche with creme fraiche (prepared Monday) & raw, ribboned asparagus salad with lemon

To do: Make Sunday's snack, roast coffee
Breakfast: porridge & eggs
Snack: Veggie kefir smoothies
Lunch: (Use chicken from Wednesday's stock in a variation of) Chicken salad with feta, corn, & blueberries
Snack: Raw cacao nut butter cookies (made Monday)
Dinner: Thawed leftovers from last Thursday

Our youngest turns three! 
Breakfast: Gluten-free cream cheese coffee cake & eggs with bacon bits leftover from last night's dinner
Snack: Mixed berry kefir smoothies
Lunch: PB & H popcorn, raw cheese, apple slices
Snack: White bean hummus (made Tuesday) with bell pepper, cucumber, and carrot slices
Dinner: (A variation of) Sour cream rice noodle bake, cake, and ice cream

To do: Farmer's market run
Breakfast: Eggs & Coffee Cake leftover from Friday morning
Snack: Blueberry kefir smoothies
Lunch: White bean quesadillas
Snack: Strawberries from farmer's market
Dinner: Dr. Connelly's vegetable soup & farmer's market salad

To do: Menu plan for next week
Breakfast: kefir smoothies and eggs
Snacks: Grain-free cheddar cheese crackers (made Thursday)
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

I'm sharing this at Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn ~ A Recipe

Popcorn.  A no-fight food.  Children welcome it.  Peace in the house.  Happy.  Here is our very simple, 5-ingredient recipe to jazz up your next bowl.  We pour this drizzle on two batches of air-popped corn, but if you want an extra tasty, gooey treat, you can use it on one batch.

Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn
About 12 servings

 1 to 2 batches air popped corn (or however you like to pop yours)
1/3 cup nut butter (we like peanut)
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil or ghee (this makes the sauce nice and drizzly so it disperses evenly over the popcorn)
1/4 honey (local, raw is best)
1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
  1. Start the popcorn.  While the corn is popping, in a small cast iron skillet, soften the nut butter over medium heat.  Turn heat off and stir in coconut oil and honey until all melted and well combined (I add the honey and oil after the heat is off to try and preserve as many enzymes as possible in them.  Since we use roasted peanut butter, we choose to heat that up first).
  2. The popcorn should be done popping right as the drizzle is ready.  Drizzle over popcorn, then sprinkle sea salt over popcorn.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Sample Weekly Menu Plan

We've chatted about introducing real food to your kitchen.  I shared my strategy on how I menu plan.  After several requests, I'm finally breaking down and sharing our weekly menu.  There will be more in-depth posts about why we choose what we eat and the rhythm of snack-making, etc.  It's hard not to talk this process through even more, but for now, this post is just the nitty-gritties what a typical weekly menu looks like 'round these parts:

To-do: Trader Joe's run, Make kefir-ranch dressing for tomorrow & thaw 1.5 qt. chicken stock
Breakfast: (A variation of) Soaked, Baked Oatmeal
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: Peanut butter & berry wraps
Snack: Kids' choice (nuts, fruit, raw cheese)
Dinner: Turkey, rice noodle pesto (recipe coming soon)

To-do: Soak quinoa
Breakfast: Grain-Free Peanut butter pancakes
Snack: kefir smoothies
Lunch: Cheesy melt wraps (recipe coming soon)
Snack: Kids' choice of fruit, nuts, raw cheese)
Dinner: Asparagus soup & salad with kefir ranch dressing

To-do: Soak porridge, rice, & thaw 7-bone roast
Breakfast: Cinnamon Apple Bars
Snack: Kefir smoothies
Lunch: PB & H Popcorn, cheese, & fruit slices
Snack: kids' choice of fruit, nuts, raw cheese)
Dinner: (A variation of) Quinoa Casserole & leftover breakfast bars

To-do: Thaw 1.5 quarts beef stock
Breakfast: Porridge & eggs
Snack: Kefir smoothies
Lunch: Grazing trays (recipe coming soon)
Snack: Carrots & peanut butter
Dinner: Top Secret Recipe (coming soon)

To-do: Soak porridge & make Sunday's snack
Breakfast: Raw Summer Berry Tart
Snack: Kefir Smoothies
Lunch: PB & H popcorn, cheese, & fruit
Snack: Free choice
Dinner: 7-bone roast (recipe coming soon) with cortido & creme fraicheThe Real Cheezecake

To-do: Farmer's Market (happy!)
Breakfast: Machaca
Lunch: beef & cheese quesadillas
Snack: kefir smoothies
Dinner: Sol Long Tang & raw, chocolate-dipped strawberries & bananas

To-do: Menu plan for next week (yippee!)
Breakfast: Kefir smoothies & eggs
Snack: grain-free garlic rosemary crackers
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack: Kids' choice: fruit, nuts, raw cheese
Dinner: Other leftovers

Yep.  Sunday is my day off. :)  Happy meal planning!

I'm sharing this at Menu Plan Monday & Monday Mania.


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