Thursday, June 28, 2012

Irish Nachos ~ A Recipe

When I was a high-schooler, everyone from our youth group would go to Knowlwood's after church on Sunday nights to hang out and get a bite to eat.  I always ordered Irish nachos to split with a friend.  Why?  Because they were delicious and one of the cheapest things on the menu.  What are Irish nachos?  Well, they're nachos made with French fries instead of tortilla chips.  The Irish nachos I used to eat were covered in cheese with bacon bits and sliced green onions scattered about and a dollop of sour cream on top.  I've changed things up a bit.  These are as versatile as regular nachos.  You can put on whatever tickles your fancy.  I try to have a source of protein (besides the cheese) to round things out.  The batch pictured above has sweet Italian chicken sausage; a winner!

Irish Nachos
Serves 4-6; prep/cooking time: 20 minutes
  • 1 recipe potato wedges
  • 1-2 cup(s) bits of pastured bacon, sausage, or shredded beef or chicken
  • 2 cups grated cheese (we use organic raw cheddar)
  • 2 green onions or chives, sliced (optional)
  • creme fraiche as a garnish
  1. Brown meat if not already cooked.  Set aside.  In the same pan, prepare potato wedges. When potato wedges are done, sprinkle meat, then cheese, then green onions over the potatoes.  Spoon a dollop of creme fraiche on every serving.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Garlic Harvest

Remember when we planted our first crop garlic crop last November?  Well it happened.  A precious baby was born and garlic was pulled from the ground.  It's a meager crop, I'll admit.  It didn't get the care it should have while I was in the (tired) late stage of pregnancy and the (even more tired) first months with a newborn.  But we got some just the same.

Braiding and hanging garlic in my kitchen has been one of those curious dreams of mine for years.  I've always loved the look of it and the idea of having dozens of cloves ready to be plucked from the wall and used in a dish at a moment's notice.  Needless to say, I get quite gleeful when I look at this little corner of my kitchen and the scraggly-braided garlic bulbs.

The bulbs aren't big, so I braided them six bulbs to a braid (two for each section), and made one big braid with all the little braids, three strands at a time.  It was kind of like French braiding where you add a new strand after you bring one to the middle.

Will I do it again?  Yes, I think I will.  Garlic's taste and the aesthetic charm it brings to my kitchen makes me happy.  Some things learned along the way:
  • Hotter climates with warmer winters are suitable for growing soft-neck garlic.
  • You can only braid soft-neck garlic anyway, so it's a perfect match for me.
  • If you decide to cure your garlic (let it dry) in your house, be prepared for a very garlicy-smelling home for a day or two.
This fall I think I'd like to plant elephant garlic.  Doesn't it sound like fun?

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekly Menu Plan #33

Summer is an interesting season.  With the absence of school, routine seems to fly out the door and spontaneity runs rampant.  I'm not complaining, really.  It's a nice little break.  But meal planning, especially with real food, doesn't mesh well with spur-of-the-moment shindigs (or the lack of energy for food prep afterwards).  So my goal for the rest of the summer is to keep things as simple as possible, and to have staples on hand that can easily morph into a different meal than what might be planned if need be.  Like last week I had plans for a crock pot chicken dish but forgot to put it in the crock pot.  It ended up getting breaded and pan fried (and the people rejoiced!).

To do:
Breakfast:  Gluten-Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins & Kale, Beet, Carrot, Peach, Ginger Juice
Lunch:  Lettuce, Beans, Rice, & Cheese Bowls
Snack:  Peach Slices
Dinner:  Fish Tacos (using coconut oil instead of canola)

Tuesday: Our 13th Wedding Anniversary!
To do:  soak porridge, thaw refried beans for Thursday night
Breakfast:  Gluten-Free Peach Buckle (recipe coming soon)
Lunch:  Irish Nachos (recipe coming soon)
Snack:  Raw Cheese & Carrot Slices
Dinner:  Date night out to celebrate our anniversary!

To do:
Breakfast:  Soaked Porridge & Eggs
Lunch:  Summer Veggie Skillet (recipe coming soon)
Snack:  Raw Blueberry Bliss Smoothies
Dinner:  Taco Salad & Corn on the Cob

To do: thaw beef shanks for Saturday night
Breakfast:  Pastured Bacon & Eggs, Carrot Juice
Lunch:  Sourdough Sandwiches
Snack:  Very Cherry Smoothies
Dinner:  Mexican Food Bar & Lavender Lemonade (recipe coming soon)

To do:
Breakfast:  Summer Squash Hashed Browns
Lunch:  Hummus Flowers
Snack:  Raw Strawberry Cacao Kefir Smoothies
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Lemon Herb Chicken

To do:
Lunch:  Nibble Trays
Snack:  Peaches & Cream Smoothies (recipe coming soon)
Dinner:  Red Wine & Garlic Beef Shanks & Braised Green Beans

To do: menu plan
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives ThursdayFight Back Friday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Natural Teething Toys To Delight Baby & Crunchy Mama

Teething.  Ugh.  No one likes to see their baby in pain.  Our three-month-old is already a biting, drooling maniac and oh so cranky with his blistering gums from teeth slowly making their way to the surface.

Ten years ago when our first baby was teething, the only natural teething alternative to Tylenol and OraGel I knew of was Hyland's Teething Tablets.  They worked wonders the first couple of times, then their magic seemed to wear off.  Fast forward to a new decade and there are oodles of natural teething remedies to choose from.  My friends who know of my crunchiness so well absolutely lavished us at Joseph's baby shower with natural teething options to try out.  Here are a few items that have proven their worth with our babe:

Camden Rose Cherry Rattle
Who says the flashy plastic toys are the way to a baby's heart?  This simple, non-toxic wooden rattle captivates our little guy and can change the face seen above to this fascinated expression in a matter of seconds (these two pictures were literally snapped less than a minute from each other).

When up against the body, amber is warmed and releases succinic acid, which is known to help immune system function and has calming and anti-inflammatory properties.  I wasn't so sure about whether it would be effective or not, but after I put one on him, Joseph went from irritable to noticeably more calm in a matter of minutes.  Amazing!

He may only be three months old, but this cotton terry cloth bunny has a calming effect on him every time.  Another trick I learned is to soak and freeze a washcloth and allow the teething babe to gnaw on it.  The cold, stiff cloth feels good on their little gums.  This same concept can be used on the bunny.

This squeaky giraffe teether is made with natural rubber (not plastic) and was given it's color using food grade paint.  Her limbs are easy handles for babies and contrasting colors keep them fascinated.

But here's the deal.  Sometimes every gadget pushed at the poor teething tot can be met with further cries of exasperation.  I don't know about you, but this seems to happen when I have a full day ahead of me with so much to take care of.  That's when (after calming my own self down) I take a deep breath, remember this little person will be ten years old before I know it, let go of the day's chores for a bit, and give him a little cuddle.  This always proves to be the most effective method in both result and cost.  The best things in life are free (and usually inconvenient).  He might even doze off in my arms and I find myself all the more peaceful as I lay him down for a nap and pick back up with the demands of the day.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Real Food Weekly Menu Plan #32

You guys.  Today, it's supposed to get to 107º here.  Hold me.  At least along with it's heat, summer brings a huge harvest of the year's tastiest produce.  Sweet corn, watermelon, peaches, berries...  So I guess I'll try not to complain about the ability to fry an egg on the pavement.  Here's to the harvest!  Let's figure out what we're making with it this week, shall we?

To do:  thaw 6 t-bone steaks for Wednesday night
Breakfast:  Paleo Cinnamon Pancakes (using almond butter)
Lunch:  Irish Nachos
Dinner:  Summer Skillet (recipe coming soon)

To do:  make Baba Ghanoush, soak sourdough flatbread & rice for tomorrow morning
Lunch:  Sourdough Sandwiches
Dinner:  Fish Tacos (using sole instead of shrimp)


Breakfast:  Porridge & Eggs
Lunch:  Nibble Trays
Snack:  Fried Mush

Breakfast:  Scrambled Eggs with Salsa
Lunch:  Hummus Flowers
Snack:  Peaches & Cream Smoothies (recipe coming soon)

Dinner:  Attending a Potluck, bringing Grilled Sausage with Potatoes & Green Beans (made on the stovetop)

To do:  menu plan
Breakfast:  Raw Apricot Cobbler (using peaches instead of apricots)
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Maple Coconut Tapioca Pudding ~ A Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Dessert Recipe

Experimenting in the kitchen can be a risky game.  You win some and you lose some.  Last night, we were victorious!  I'm pleased to share with you this deliciously creamy, rich, decadent treat, free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar.  My husband, Mr. Tapioca Connoisseur himself, gave it two thumbs up.  Well, that's what I gather from watching him polish off two heaping bowls of it.  I suppose this recipe would be considered bulk cooking.  My family will demolish it in two meals, but for those of you living with less than seven people in your house, this pudding freezes well.  I suggest freezing leftovers in individual servings.  Tuck them into packed lunches and by the time you're ready to enjoy your meal, it will be thawed just enough for it to have a frozen custard effect.

Maple Coconut Tapioca Pudding
Prep time: 30 minutes Yield: 8 cups
  1. In a large sauce pan, bring water to a boil.  Turn off heat, add tapioca pearls, stir, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. While tapioca soaks, separate eggs.  Beat egg whites with maple syrup and beat yolks in a separate bowl.  Start measuring other ingredients while you wait for the tapioca to finish soaking.
  3. Add milk and salt to soaked tapioca and whisk in egg yolks.  Whisk constantly over medium heat until it thickens and is brought to a boil.  It's important to use a whisk to separate any tapioca clumps.  Reduce heat and simmer another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Slowly pour 2 cups hot tapioca into the egg white mixture as you whisk vigorously.  Now whisk in egg white mixture with the rest off the tapioca.  Whisk 3 more minutes over low heat.  Add vanilla.  Serve warm or chilled.  Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top of each serving if desired.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raw Very Cherry Kefir Smoothie ~ A Recipe

We had the treat of spending the day with generous friends, stripping their three cherry trees and taking home some of the bounty.  Harvesting with friends is my love language, I think.

We ate lots of them fresh from the tree.  Others were pitted and frozen to be eaten straight from the freezer or put in this smoothie that tastes like summertime itself.  Freeze any smoothie leftovers in popsicle moulds for a cool-down dessert later on.

Very Cherry Smoothies
Prep time: 5 minutes, Makes 5 cups
Place all ingredients in blender (you will get smoother results in a high-speed blender like a vita-mix).  Blend on high for about a minute or until it's smooth enough to your liking.  Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Real Food Weekly Menu #31 ~ Father's Day Week!

Well, it's definitely summertime: last minute BBQs, filthy children staying up way past their bedtimes, lake days, strawberry, blueberry, and cherry picking, jamming...  We didn't mow through our entire menu last week, so there are some carry-overs into this week.  We did however find a new favorite dish: sole with lemon cream.  What a delicious, quick, nourishing meal!  For those of you who live near a Trader Joe's, I was happy to discover they offer wild-caught sole in the freezer section.  My kids have VBS this week and they are offered a light lunch there, so lunches on the menu will also be light to round things out (and to get some nutrition down them).

Also, next Sunday is Father's Day!  So instead of taking my usual Sunday off where we eat up the week's leftovers, Saturday will be leftover day and Sunday will be cook-Daddy's-favorite-dishes day.

To do: soak porridge
Breakfast: Peanut Cinnamon Paleo Squash Pancakes (using almond butter instead of peanut butter)
Lunch:  Raw cheese slices with carrot coins, avocado slices, and cucumbers
Snack:  Blueberry Bliss Smoothies
Dinner:  Warm French Lentil Salad with Sausage

To do: soak refried beans
Breakfast:  Soaked Porridge with Plum Sauce & eggs
Lunch:  Sourdough Sandwiches
Snack: Very Cherry Smoothies (recipe coming soon)
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Coq au Vin & Salad

To do: make refried beanssalsa verde
Breakfast:  Raw Apricot Cobbler (using nectarines instead of apricots)
Lunch:  Hummus Flowers
Snack:  Strawberry Cacao Smoothies
Dinner:  Mexican Food Bar (refried beans, rice, cheese, creme fraiche, avocado, salsa, lettuce...)

To do: make chicken stock
Breakfast:  Eggs with salsa verde
Lunch:  Nibble Trays
Snack:  Peaches & Cream Smoothies (recipe coming soon)
Dinner:  Perfect Pot Roast Made in the Crock Pot & Potato Wedges

To do:  Soak Pancakes, thaw pumpkin purée & enchilada sauce
Breakfast:  Raw Strawberry Parfait (recipe coming soon)
Lunch:  Stovetop Ratatouille
Snack:  Nut Butter & Honey Popcorn
Dinner: Grilled Ribeye Sandwich Spread wrapped in lettuce leaves

Breakfast:  Pancake Bar
Lunch:  Pancake Sandwiches
Dinner:  Leftovers

Sunday: Father's Day!
To do: menu plan
Breakfast:  Healthy(er) Starbucks Pumpkin Scones
Lunch:  Out for Lunch
Dinner:  Chicken Enchiladas & Maple Buttermilk Pie

I'm sharing this at Monday Mania.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Real Food Weekly Menu Plan #30 ~ Looks Like Summer!

Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, oh my!  Although most of the country might still be in the throws of springtime greens, here in the west we're already receiving the bounty of summer.  Fret not, cool weather friends.  Your day is coming.  Take a look at these recipes and tuck them away for the coming months.  Speaking of cold weather, we are about to be blessed with a cold front Monday and Tuesday.  Make way for some baked goodness!  As a side note, I know the "recipes coming soon" are really building up.  I promise to work on getting them published, but as mentioned last week, the children are all growing so fast, I've been a bit captivated by them and it hasn't left room for much else.   Now that the littlest is sleeping through the night, I might be able to slip a recipe or two in while they sleep, so stay tuned.  Also?  I'm feeling French-ish.  Maybe it's from reading this book.  You'll see what I mean when you look at this week's chosen recipes.

To do: soak baked oatmeal
Lunch:  Beefy Nacho Dip with fresh tomatoes & avocado
Snack:  Peaches & Cream Smoothie (recipe coming soon)
Dinner:  Grandma Riddle's Green Beans (gluten-free version) Yep.  That's all we're eating.  Tons of it!

To do: soak sourdough flatbread
Lunch:  Sourdough Caprese Sandwiches
Snack:  Sugar(less)plum Smoothie (recipe coming soon)
Dinner:  Heavy Veggie Pizza with Grain-Free Crust & Raw Lavender Lemonade (recipe coming soon)

To do: make sourdough flatbread
Breakfast:  Poached Eggs over Melted Cheese, Wilted Chard, & Fresh Tomato & Avocado
Lunch:  Verrines Avocat, Fromage Blanc, Saumon Fumé (using kefir instead of fromage blanc)
Dinner:  Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon (modified & GF), Salad

To do:
Breakfast:  Strawberry Verrines (recipe coming soon)
Dinner:  Lemon Cream Sauce over Pan Fried Sole & Summer Squash (using almond flour for breading)

To do: soak sourdough pancakes
Breakfast:  Cherry Verrines (recipe coming soon)

Breakfast:  Pancake Bar
Lunch:  Pancake Sandwiches
Snack:  Cherry Smoothie (recipe coming soon)

To do: menu plan
Breakfast:  Eggs & Hashed Browns
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

I'm sharing this at Monday Mania, Fight Back Friday.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Grain-Free Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Muffins

It's not a pretty muffin as muffins go, but don't let it's look deter you.  With a soft-yet-dense texture that's unusual for a coconut flour bread and a flavor rich in chocolate, this muffin is a palate-pleaser to be sure.  Don't think you'll finish off a whole recipe?  Freeze leftovers for later.  You'll be glad you did.

Grain-Free Zucchini Muffins
Prep time: 10 min, Bake time: 20 min, Makes 24 muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. In a mixer, beat coconut flour until all the lumps are out and the flour is smooth.  On low speed, add salt, soda, and cinnamon.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then add the oil, sugar, and zucchini and mix thoroughly.  Mix in chocolate chips.
  2. Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin pans, about 2 tablespoons for each muffin.
  3. Bake about 20 minutes or until spongy-feeling in the middle.


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