Sugar and Spice Nuts

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz pecans or other nut – about 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

METHOD

1 Preheat oven to 300°F.

2 Put sugar, cinnamon, salt, ground cloves, and ground nutmeg in a plastic bag, shake to mix.

3 Put egg, water, and vanilla in a bowl. Beat until slightly foamy, add pecans and coat well. Lift pecans out of bowl with a slotted spoon or hands and put into the bag of sugar and spices. Shake pecans in bag making sure they are well coated.

4 Bake 30 minutes on a baking pan lined with parchment paper, silpat or lightly greased aluminum foil. 15 minutes into the baking, stir up the pecans with a fork. Let cool completely before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

 

Chocolate Sauce

Better than Hersheys and perfect for icecream, waffles, etc.  Simple too

1 C whole milk

1 2/3 C granulated sugar

2/3 C unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

*I add a tiny dash of salt but you don’t have too

Mix first 3 ingredients over med heat.  Stir constantly till mix comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Pour into jar and cool.  Refrigerate for up to a month.  Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Kale Chips

Everybody’s doing kale chips but most of the recipes have it wrong.  Buy your kale then come home, wash it and tear it from the stem (don’t use metal on greens or they will brown).  Dry leaves and put in a plastic bag with an additional piece of paper towel until ready to use.

To Bake:

Preheat oven to 300.  Tear kale into smallish pieces trying to stay somewhat uniform (helps with baking not burning).  Place in a single layer on a large baking sheet (preferably with sides).  Sprinkle with popcorn or fine-grained salt (you could use oil but I notice absolutely no difference when I do so I don’t.  My kale is also still moist so the salt evaporates on it while it bakes and makes it extra tasty).  Bake at 300 until crisp and fragile NOT BROWNED.  If there is any browning they’re burned and nasty.  Throw them out.  Watch them closely.  I set my timer for 5 min then I toss them around and pick out any that are crispy.  Done properly these are pretty tasty.  Not potato chip good, but, for a green leafy vegetable, good.  My kid who hates any form of salad begs for them, so, there ya go.  This is my daughter and my salty snack most days.

Buttermilk Biscuits (Better than Grandma’s)

These are my new go to biscuits.  My kids beg for them like candy.  This is the kind of recipe you will want to double but probably shouldn’t.  I never have leftovers and am fairly confident that, no matter how big a batch a made, there would still be no leftovers.

Tonight we’re having them for supper with sausage and a spinach omelet.  I have always resisted buttermilk biscuits because I had to buy buttermilk “special” for the recipe.  Come to find out there are millions of things to use the leftover buttermilk in or, if your family is like mine, you’ll just make some more of these tasty biscuits.

Better than Grandma’s Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups Self Rising Flour (not all purpose)
6 tablespoons  butter, cold
1 cup buttermilk (approx)

Preheat oven to 425 (this is for Golden, CO-Southerners bake at 450 (Remember all ovens are different so, if you think your oven runs hot, adjust)  Grease a 9″cake pan (I use Crisco and I do the sides and bottom)  Bake until golden brown on top (I never rely on a timer but about 10-15 min)

Sift together dry ingredients.  Cut in butter until dough looks like its got small peas in it. Make a well in the middle and add wet ingredients.  Stir only until dough is moistened (I always have a powdery mix at the bottom).  I then dump it out onto a floured silicon mat and pat it into a 3/4″ or so thick disc.  DO NOT ROLL!  Just fold the dough over onto itself, pressing out with your finger tips until it’s no longer wet and sticky.  Then cut your biscuits.  I like smaller ones because I think they bake more easily.  DO NOT TWIST YOUR BISCUIT CUTTER.  It seals the edges and makes the biscuits not rise as well.  I also use a trick I learned from my MIL.  I put mine into a greased cake pan.  I make them all fit and kinda squish them in (this looks like I’m putting too many in the pan but I read that it actually makes them rise higher).  If there are some misshapen pieces at the end, I do what she does and call them “baby biscuits” and just wrap them around the pan to fill in gaps.  The kids all want a baby biscuit so it definitely elevates the status from leftover pieces.  These are so yummy.  Hope you enjoy!

Marvelous Morning Muffins

2 eggs

1/2 C vegetable oil

1/4 milk (I always use whole)

2 tsp vanilla

2 C flour (I used 1 C. unbleached all purpose & 1 C. K A white/wheat)

1 C packed brown sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 C shredded carrot (ended up being 1 1/2 big carrots)

1 C shredded peeled apple (ended up being 2 small granny smith apples)

1 C cranberries (I rehydrated by letting them soak in warm water for about an hr before useing-dont use the water in the recipe)

3/4 C nuts (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease or line regular muffin tins.  Beat eggs.  Add sugar, oil and milk andmix until combined.  In a separte bowl mix together flour, soda, cinnamon, salt.  Add to wet mix and combine.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Fill muffin tin cup 3/4 way full.  Made 20 muffins for me.  Bake for 20-25 min or until tops spring back when touched.  I thought they were best at room temp but Grace like them best warm.  Sawyer likes his with butter.

Quiche Simplified + My fave combo-Bacon and Salted Leeks

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Ingredients

Single Pie Crust (my recipe makes double so half it)

3 eggs

1/2 C. whole milk

1/2 C. half and half

1 C good cheese (swiss, Guyer, smoked raw provolone, etc)

1 cup sliced leeks (if you’ve never used leeks before google which part to use & wash)

5 strips good quality bacon (I used nitrate free)

Pepper to taste (tsp for me)

Dash of nutmeg

Make single pie crust according to recipe.  Pre bake by lining a 9 1/2″ tart pan with the pie dough then lining it with foil.  Next I put dry beans (I keep a bag just for this) or pie weights on the foil. PRess down.  Bake for 15 min in a 375 oven.  Remove foil and beans & bake 5-7 min longer until top starts to turn golden.  Remove and cool and cover for later use or fill.  *The dough will shrink significantly so please don’t cut it off the edges for a perfect fit.  Let it hang down the sides.  It’ll be a tasty treat if you want to break it off later.  My kids were devouring it.  Also, when you remove the crust after the second bake (without the foil and weights), it may have puffed up a bit and pulled away from the sides.  While it’s still hot (without burning yourself) gently press it back down without cracking it.

Filling:

I use scissors to cut up my bacon into bite size pieces.  Then fry bacon in pan until crisps.  Remove and drain bacon on sheets-reserve fat in pan.  Add sliced, rinsed and dried leeks to hot bacon fat.  Salt well and cook until softened and browned.  Remove and drain with bacon.

Shred cheese to equal about 1 C.  Beat eggs.  Whisk all above ingredients together.  Either cover and refrigerate for later use or fill prepared pie crust.

Bake at 430 degrees for 20 min or until done (Quiche should wobble slightly but a knife should come out ungunked.  In my oven on convection bake, 20 min was perfect.  Remove and let come to room temp.  Slice and enjoy!

*I reserved the fat for a second time because I then sautéed rainbow chard to go with my quiche.  Any leafy green would be a perfect addition to this.  I pre-baked the crust and made the filling the night before.  The next morning (Sunday) I preheated my oven, filled the crust and baked.  We left for church while the quiche was cooling and came home to a great brunch.  I served with sautéed rainbow chard a fruit salad.  It was perfect, delicious and worth repeating.

Million Thumbs Up Banana Nut Muffins

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I had only a few bananas that were too ripe. Not enough for bread but I didn’t want to throw them out. I decided that it must be possible to make banana nut muffins and, by doing so, use less bananas. I scoured the web looking for the right recipe. I found one I could make work at The Cookbook Chronicles blog (it’s a good one if you like reading recipe blogs.) I changed up her recipe for muffins only, added whole wheat flour, all brown sugar and nuts. Then I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. They were perfect and popped right out of my buttered muffin tin without my using liners. They were even moist and tender 2 mornings later. My little boy said he gave them “a million thumbs up!” He also thinks they’re best with butter.
Million Thumbs Up White/Wheat Banana Nut Muffins
(adapted from http://www.thecookbookchronicles.com/blog/?p=3212)
1 C all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour (you could use all white if you’d prefer)
3/4 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups over-ripe bananas, mashed (about 3 large bananas)
1 C sour cream
1/2 C roughly chopped nuts (I like pecans)
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin with butter (never use oil, it’ll stick) or line 12 muffin cups with liners.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the oil, brown sugar. Mix in the vanilla extract, mashed bananas, sour cream, and eggs.

Stir in the dry ingredients until combined. Fill each
cup 3/4 of the way, and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.) Let muffins cool on a wire rack.

Baked Mac and Cheese Bites or Casserole (my kids loved these)

Mac and Cheese Bites
adapted from http://momscrazycooking.blogspot.com/2011/09/macaroni-and-cheese-bites-crazy-cooking.html, she adapted from a recipe Food & Wine Magazine

1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups, packed, sharp cheddar cheese, (didn’t have sharp cheddar and found monterey jack works too), shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling on top (you can omit this if you don’t have any-I did and it was great)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 24-count, nonstick mini muffin pan (or small casserole) with butter. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Cook, whisking occasionally, for about 2 -3 minutes until thickened. Add cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and stir to melt. Remove from heat and stir in egg yolks, salt and nutmeg. Stir in macaroni.

Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of macaroni and cheese into the prepared mini muffin pan. Each cup should be filled to the top. Pack each one down gently. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 10 – 15 minutes. Using a teaspoon, carefully loosen the mac and cheese bites and transfer to a platter to serve.

To make ahead, bake and cool mac and cheese bites. Sprinkle with a little more Parmesan cheese. Package and refrigerate. Place bites on a baking sheet and bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Real Food Process

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A friend recently asked about our “real food” way of eating.  I sent her an email but kept on thinking about the message I’m trying to give my kids about food and health.  My real approach all started because I read a book and made the connection that I was really only buying junk food for my kids.  Looking back, I’m shocked that I was buying food I wouldn’t eat because it wasn’t healthy and was feeding it to my kids.  I tried to remember why I made that choice and what was the biggest thing holding me back from doing what I knew was better for my kids.  I think it was fear.  I was scared of making them weird, or worry about food, or to have to politely decline junk offered to them by well-meaning adults.  Also I think we put a lot of stock in sentiment-since we ate this way as kids so it’s like a right of passage.  I also didn’t want to make others uncomfortable because we weren’t eating the stuff they were.  In the end, the transition wasn’t as earth shattering as I feared and I’m probably a little more lenient than I want to be.

Unlike some blogs and sites out there dedicated to what you shouldn’t eat, buy, & support, I take the approach of trying to do the best I can in the moment I’m in.  Our idea is to instill values and ideals, not rules, in everything we do.  Food is a daily choice and necessity so it’s the perfect place to start the conversation with my kids about what we think is worthwhile. Seems like everyone I know is trying to teach their kids about good choices and food should definitely be included.   I talk to my kids about what we are eating and what that means to the eater, animals, farmers, land and health of all those involved.  This has been 2 years in the making and has truly been processional. I love to talk about it so if you’ve got any other questions feel free!
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