Thursday, February 28, 2013

February On The Homestead

February proved to be a very, very full month.  For starters, we began boxing up all non-essencials in preparation for expanding our 1,000 square-foot Christmas Cabin to over twice it's size.  It's getting real!

Our bright, witty, introspective eight-year-old turned nine (and daddy massively hammed up the birthday song, as you can see).

We made 95 Valentines.  It was fun, at first...

There are currently 400 seedlings growing in our bedroom and kitchen table.  There's gotta be some way to convince my husband that we would make great use of a greenhouse.  Tehe.

 Our ewe lambed!  Again!  At least this time we knew they were coming.  This deserves it's own post (it's in the works!) but here is a sneak peak:

Spring has officially sprung here on the Riddle Ranch.  I am enjoying the glorious weather and still continuing to pray for rain.  It's just been too dry.  That water on my favorite daffodils is from the sprinklers which have been irrigating our land since January, which is supposed to be our wettest month.  Come on, rain!  Get on over here!

I discovered the phone app, Vine.  If you're ever hankering for some video footage of this place and all that's going on, that's where you'll find it.  Oh, and our baby is walking.  This is also documented on Vine.  Oh my.

It seems like we just rang in the new year a couple weeks ago.  How can tomorrow be the first day of March?  I hope your February was full of love and your March will be bursting with signs of new life, vibrant colors, and shared with loved ones.  If you'll excuse me, it's time for another lamb feeding and well, there's always the dishes.  Maybe I should plant more seeds indoors?

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gluten-Free Weekly Menu Plan #65 (Winter)

As winter begins to wain, daffodils and tulips remind us that spring is just around the corner.  We even found a few blossoms in our strawberry patch!  As we say goodbye to February this week, spring is almost here, along with more produce options.  For now, we enjoy many cruciferous varieties and pump our bodies full of antioxidants and other super nutrients.  

Breakfast:  Porridge & Eggs
Lunch:  Hummus, Carrots, Raw Cheese & Apple Slices, Cookie Dough Bites 

To do: make yogurt, thaw stew meat for Thursday
Breakfast:  Fried Mush
Lunch:  Cream Cheese, Almond Butter, Apple Slices, & Powdered Cinnamon Wrapped in a Rice Tortilla, Hummus, Carrot Sticks
Dinner:  Cauliflower Pizza Topped With Pesto, Olives, Spinach, & Cheese

Lunch:  GF Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, Tangerines, Cookie Dough Bites

Lunch:  GF Peanut Butter & Manuka Honey Sandwiches, Oranges, Almonds
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Beef & Root Stew (Using Beets, Carrots, & Winter Squash), Salad

To do: soak beans for chili
Lunch:  Olives, Raw Cheese, Hard Boiled Eggs, Cookie Dough Bites

Lunch:  Quesorritos

Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

7 Easy Almond Butter Recipes ~ Paleo & GAPS Friendly

Many folks these days are choosing almond butter as a healthier alternative to peanut butter.  When taste buds are used to peanuts, switching to almond butter can be a rough transition.  I'm sharing a new recipe along with some other favorites to present a collection that will help fan the flame for almond butter.  Check it out over at Modern Alternative Kitchen!

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan #64 (Winter)

It's been quiet here at the blog for the past week.  I can't say the same for this homestead of ours.  With birthdays, Valentine's Day, out-of-town family visits, and so very much more, there has been no time for anything but to stay in the present with all the wonderful hustle and bustle that it brought for the week.  I'll share more about it later, but for now, here is what we will be eating on the on the mini ranch:

Monday: President's Day (No School)
To do: soak porridge, make cookie dough bites
Breakfast:  Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes, Eggs, & Pastured Bacon
Lunch:  Quesorritos
Dinner:  Thawed Simple Winter Squash Soup, GF Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, & Salad

To do: make yogurt
Breakfast:  Porridge & Eggs
Lunch:  Hummus, Carrots, Raw cheese & Apple slices, Cookie Dough Bites

Breakfast:  Yogurt with Frozen Berries & Maple Syrup
Lunch:  Cream Cheese, Apple, & Peanut Butter Wraps, Raw Cheese Slices, Cookie Dough Bites
Dinner:  Chicken Quesadillas, Roasted RutabagaSalad

Lunch:  GF Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches, Hummus & Carrot Slices, Cookie Dough Bites
Dinner:  Mujadarrah (lentils & wild rice with Caramelized Shallots) & Salad

Lunch:  GF Peanut Butter & Manuka Honey Sandwiches, Apple & Raw Cheese Slices, Orange
Dinner: London Broil Steaks & Watermelon Radish Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

Lunch:  Irish Nachos

Breakfast:  Egg Burritos
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

I'm sharing this at Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Menu Plan #63 Valentine's Week!

Okay, so I might enjoy festivities just a little bit.  Special days mark the year and help familiarize our children with the rhythm of the seasons.  Besides, holidays are just plain happy.  I can always use a little happy in my life, can't you?  Not only does this week hold Valentine's Day, but our second born celebrates birthday number nine the day before!  My boy!  As I've said before, I allow the birthday baby, er, person to choose each meal of the day and I relinquish food standards.  Thankfully, all the junk food my children know is found at Trader Joe's so it's not too horribly bad and there are not artificial anythings going on.  Wishing you a week filled with love and happiness.

Monday: Lincoln's Day! (no school)
To do: soak porridge, make cookie dough bites
Breakfast:  Coconut Flour Crepes
Lunch:  Quesorritos
Dinner:  Albondigas

To do: make yogurt
Breakfast:  Porridge & Eggs
Lunch:  Hummus, Carrot Sticks, Raw Cheese Slices, Apples, Cookie Dough Bites
Dinner:   Lemon SoleSavory Cakes

Wednesday: our son's birthday!
To do: thaw beef for Friday
Breakfast:  Trader Joe's GF Waffles & Fried Eggs
Lunch:  Cream Cheese & Strawberry Jam Wraps, TJ's Squeezable Yogurt, TJ's GF Snickerdoodles
Snack:  TJ's Baked Cheese Puffs
Dinner: TJ's Organic Cheese Pizza, Frozen Grapes, Cake & Ice Cream

Thursday: Valentine's Day!
Breakfast:  Pink Pancakes
Lunch: GF Peanut Butter & Manuka Honey Sandwiches cut into hearts, Dark Chocolate Fruit Hearts, Almonds

To do: make breakfast cookies
Lunch:  GF Turkey & Raw Cheese Sandwiches, Hummus & Carrot Sticks, Cookie Dough Bites 
Snack:  Orange Julius
Dinner:  Pot Roast & Salad


Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers 
(Sunday is my day off)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Healthy, Frugal, Creative Valentine's Day

Living a healthy, mindful, creative lifestyle should not exclude anyone from enjoying each holiday.  I'm on a mission to prove this.  We have enjoyed a healthy, happy Valentine's day for several years, and I'd like to share a few of our ideas with you.

Let's start with decorations.  We have made heart garland (pictured above) from this Martha Stewart tutorial and our children really enjoyed making it.  Just this morning, my daughter looked up at it and said, "I love looking at those hearts every day.  They remind me of how much I love my family."  Forever melt.  After the photo above was taken, we removed the picture frame and candles and added two little pink pots that hold "Little Jewels" pink flowers found at Home Depot for $2.

For breakfast, pink pancakes are on the menu and I have been reminded several times to be sure they are served on February the 14th.  It's true.  One can enjoy pink and red foods without artificial food coloring.

For gifts, my girls are making these braided cloth bracelets for their friends.  My son wants to make something sweet for his friends and his choice are gluten free coconut lace cookies.

These Paleo dark chocolate fruit hearts would be a very fun surprise at lunchtime, along with a heart-shaped sandwiches (these cutters were made specifically for sandwiches and they would work for quesadillas, too).

At dinnertime, we gather around a red dish piled high with gluten-free pink Alfredo pasta with hearts (also pictured above).  Even though there are no local ripe tomatoes around here this time of year, you can make this creamy tomato bisque with 4 jars of these strained tomatoes instead of fresh ones.  For dessert, we each dig our forks into a slice of grain-free red velvet cake with buttermilk frosting.

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, creative Valentines Day.

Would you share your Valentine's ideas below in the comments box?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Collection of Healthy Soup Recipes

As we are smack dab in the middle of soup season, gathering up all our soupy recipes seemed like a good idea.  More will likely be added to the collection by the end of this cold weather time, but here they all are, bundled up and ready to warm homes and bellies.

While we are on the subject of soups, the hand blender has been my favorite soup tool for years.  Pureed soups are a hit over here so we use this handy appliance very frequently.  It saves a lot of time and mess to be able to blend the soup right in the pot instead of trying to transfer it to a stand-alone blender.  I happened to stumble upon a deal that's currently going on over at Amazon for the exact hand blender I have loved using for several years.  It is over 50% off and if you are an Amazon Prime member, free 2-day shipping is also offered.  What perfect timing this deal is, right during Soup Season!

Now on to the soup recipes collected thus far:
Happy souping, friends!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Mexican Rice Pilaf ~ A Gluten-Free Recipe

What is wintery about this pilaf?  The vegetables.  What vegetables, you ask?  Exactly.  Some things we make are overtly vegetable-laden.  Other times, we run a covert operation.  When I need assurance of a peaceful dinnertime with vegetables eaten whether they know it or not, dishes like these are crafted.  My family scarfed down this rice and along with it, a whole butternut squash and one bunch of rainbow chard.  Yes, it is true.  A happy dinnertime experience and veggies eaten can happen all at once!

We enjoyed this rice with some grated raw cheese, creme fraiche, fresh cilantro, and avocado. Simple and scrumptious.  It would also be delicious over a bed of (un)refried beans in a bowl, wrapped up in a special burrito, tossed in some enchiladas, or included in a homemade Chipotle dinner.

Winter Mexican Rice Pilaf
Prep time: 15 min; bake time: 45 min; yields about 6 servings
  • 1 1/2 cups rice (I used half wild rich and half short grain.  It's what I had and it worked.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 winter squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin, spaghetti...)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bunch dark green leafies (chard, spinach, kale...)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • pepper to taste
Possible Garnishes:
  1. 12-24 hours before serving, soak rice in water and vinegar and cover.
  2. When you are ready to prepare the dish, heat oven to 375º.  Slice squash in half, scoop out seeds, and place in baking dish, cut side down.  Add about a cup of water to the dish and bake for 45 minutes, or until squash is soft and easily scoopable with a spoon. 
  3. While the squash bakes, drain and rinse rice.  Place in large pot and add chicken stock.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Skim off any foam and turn heat to medium.  Add chili powder and cumin.  Simmer, covered, until the rice is fully cooked. 
  4. While rice simmers, de-vein dark leafy greens of choice and place in food processor.  Mince.  When squash is done baking, allow to cool enough to handle, then scoop out flesh.  If it's watery enough to mix into the rice, dump it straight into the rice.  If it's still chunky, scoop the squash meat into food processor and run it until the squash is smooth.  Stir squash, minced greens, garlic, salt, and pepper into rice.  Heat through and serve warm.  Freezes well.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan #62 ~ Back to Simplicity

With planting season well underway here in Northern California, as well as finishing up some pruning and oh, you know, getting ready to expand our tiny home, things need to simplify.  As much as I love playing in the kitchen and trying lots of new recipes, I will be scaling it way back, most likely for the rest of this year.  Many of the recipes I will share here on the menu plans will be modified to make as simple as possible.  I will try to share my notes as much as possible, or even turn them into new recipes altogether if they change that much.  The beautiful thing about real, local, organic, in-season food is it already tastes so superior, extravagant dishes are often unnecessary and simple dishes allows each ingredient's flavor to be enjoyed.

Also, a word on bacon.  Sometimes on these menu plans you will see several dishes with bacon in them.  We actually don't eat very much of it.  In fact, we don't even buy a package a week, but when we do, it is used sparingly to stretch over several meals. I usually brown all of it for the week, crumble it up, and sprinkle it here and there.  Just FYI.

To do: soak porridge, make hummus (beans were soaked Sunday)
Breakfast:  Egg Burritos (scrambled eggs, salsa, creme fraiche, cheese, bacon) using Rice Tortillas
Lunch:  GF Manuka Honey & Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Snack:  Carrot Cake Smoothies
Dinner:  Baked Potatoes with creme fraiche, raw cheese, bacon, and broccoli on top

To do:  make yogurt
Breakfast:  Porridge and Eggs
Lunch:  Hummus, Carrot Sticks, Raw Cheese Wrapped in Lunch Meat, Almonds

To do: thaw beef for Friday
Lunch:  GF Sandwiches with Raw Cheese & Leftover Chicken, Oranges, Almonds
Dinner:  Taco Salad

To do: make cookie dough bites
Lunch:  Rice Tortilla Wraps with Cream Cheese, Thin Apple Slices & Cinnamon, Walnuts, Dates

Lunch:  GF Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches, Oranges, Cookie Dough Bites
Dinner:  Hamburger Salad

Lunch:  Quesorritos

Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Leftovers
(Sunday is my day off)

I'm sharing this at Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives ThursdayPennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lemon Vanilla Bean Breakfast Cookies ~ A Paleo, Gluten-Free Recipe

Our littlest baby started sleeping through the night at seven weeks old.  I felt human!  This baby stuff is a piece of cake when you get enough sleep.  I was ready to take over the world!  Until teething, mental, and physical growth spurts hit and I never slept again.

I allow myself to sleep in (for as long as the baby sleeps) every Saturday morning.  This is only possible if breakfast is prepared ahead of time and the older children can satisfy their "starving" bellies themselves.  Enter the breakfast cookie.  I mean, who doesn't want to eat a cookie for breakfast?  Or anytime, for that matter?  These truly can be enjoyed at any hour of the day, thanks to each wholesome ingredient.

Paleo Lemon Vanilla Bean Breakfast Cookies
Prep time: 15 min; bake time; 15 min; makes 20 cookies (leftovers freeze well)
  1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Measure and pour coconut and almond flours into mixing bowl.  Turn mixer to low and continue to add the rest of the ingredients until fully mixed.
  2. Form cookies by taking about 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie, rolling them in a ball with your hands, and gently pressing them down to about 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Bake on a cookie sheet (greased or lined with parchment paper) for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely on the cookie sheet before removing.  Serve immediately, store in air-tight, lidded container on the counter for up to 2 days, in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to several months.


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