Winter Harvest

Winter Harvest

Monday, August 3, 2015

Chicken Breakfast Sausage (Organic)

So I'm in the mode of trying to make things easier for myself. I am trying my hand at cooking and freezing individual servings of meals for everyone. Since everyone in my family works different hours and you never know when anyone will be home or hungry. I thought I would try and get some meals frozen and easy to grab. In the next year our life is going to get even busier and more hectic so this is a good time to get in the habit of once or twice a month doing a major cook and freeze.
My first attempt was bean burgers and buns. So we will see how those work. Next is for breakfast. Im going to make egg,cheese, sausage biscuits and again freeze them. I have already posted a good breakfast sausage recipe on here. I wanted to try and use just organic chicken breast (as organic pork is VERY expensive.) So this morning I whipped these sausage patties up and they are the BOMB DIGGITY if I do say so myself. So if you are looking for a good, healthy and lean breakfast sausage that tastes like breakfast sausage give these a try.
NOTE: I have one of those FoodSavor machines (I call it the sucky thing) and I am freezing the servings first on trays and then transferring them to the bags and sucky thinging them. You get what I am saying. Then into my deep freeze they go for the "Mom, is there anything to eat" times or "Mom, I'm hungry" times. I'm ready. Bring on the starving adult men in my life.
Here is what I did:

2 lbs boneless skinless organic chicken breasts (it was 2 chicken breasts), cleaned, cut into chunks and processed in food processor till is is smooth. Not pasty but well ground up. No chunks left.
Place in a bowl. In a small bowl mix the following dried seasonings (most but not all my seasonings are also organic.)The seasoning are really to taste. So play with them if this isn't quite to your liking.
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp dried. ground sage
1 tsp. dried savory
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (heaping )
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. brown sugar (you could add more. I just don't like a sweet sausage)
1]2 tsp. red pepper flakes

 Pour over the ground chicken and blend, blend, blend (I used my hands. They were clean!) Now after you are sure its all blended together well. Take a pinch of the meat mixture out and fry it in a skillet and give it a taste for seasoning. Make sure it is to your liking. If not then now is the time to adjust the seasonings. It was fine as is for me.  I took two pieces of wax paper and sprayed them lightly with cooking spray (so the chicken wouldn't stick to the wax paper.) I  placed the chicken sausage mix between the wax paper and flattened it out till it looked as thick as I wanted. I then used the same size biscuit cutter as I am using to make the biscuits that these will go on and cut out rounds of sausage. I got 18. Mine weren't super thick patties. I then added just a couple drops of  grapeseed oil to my hot pan and fried the chicken sausage for about 3 minutes per side and placed on paper towels to drain. I did continue to add the oil as needed.Too much oil and you won't get that sausage look on the surface of the patties (if that is important.) I'm very pleased with how these turned out and will be making them again. They taste great. They hit that breakfast sausage spot in taste and they are guilt free as they are lean and organic. Can't beat that.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hummus (2)

This is a new and improved hummus recipe. It is improved as I have learned a way to improve the texture of the hummus so that it is not so grainy. Its different in that it has different ingredients and a cleaner taste. Both recipes on my site are good but this one is my latest and maybe favorite of the two. After much research I came up with this version.

Here is what I did.

2 Cans Garbonzo beans, rinsed and place in a salad spinner.
3 cloves of garlic, minced (you can add more to your taste. I just don't want it to be overpowering.)
juice of  1-2 lemons, about 1/4 cup (add this to your personal taste. More or less whatever suits you.)
1 tsp. salt
1 (7oz) container of plain Greek yogurt.
3/4 cup Tahini (I have learned to make my own. It is very simple and I will post a recipe soon)
6 Tbl. olive oil
6 mint leaves
4-6 Tbl. water
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika (you can either add it to the recipe or just sprinkle it on top when serving. Since we don't ever just serve a big platter of hummus I chose to add it to the mix.)

Ok, part of what makes a smooth hummus is removing the skins off of the Garbonzo beans. I had no patience for this in the past. Then I watched a video on youtube (love youtube) and a woman had a great idea. She took the cans of beans and poured them into the strainer portion of a salad spinner ( you know the spinner that spins the water out of salad greens.) She rinsed them and then drained them. She then took her hands and gently rubbed the beans together in her hands and the skins sort of just came off. She didn't do it hard enough to mash the beans but enough that most of the skins came off. She then put the strainer into the bowl portion of the spinner and filled it with water. The skins kinda of float to the top. As she tilted the bowl and drained the water she used her hand to just push the skins out of the bowl. I did this twice to get rid of all the floating skins. Then drain the beans and place in a food processor.

Then add the chopped garlic, lemon juice, salt, yogurt, tahini, evoo, mint and blend well. Stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Next to get the consistency you want you will add water. I ended up adding between 4-6 Tbl. Blend well till it is smooth and no more chunks. Then taste for seasoning. Add the paprika if you want and blend again. Or wait and serve it with paprika sprinkled on top and a little olive oil drizzled on it before serving.
Like I said we just grab it right out of the bowl and so I added it.
Everything here is a personal taste thing. You can add more of something or less depending on what you like. I did try adding cumin to this once as cumin is in a lot of hummus recipes and I have always liked it but I like this better without the cumin. My other recipe has cumin in it. This is just a good clean tasting hummus and we enjoy it a lot. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Plain/Vanilla/Unsweetened Almond Milk and Chocolate Almond Milk

I'm listing my recipes that I use for both plain almond milk and chocolate almond milk. The plain almond milk is just the recipe I use that is basically the recipe everyone uses. It varies some depending on if you want it thicker or sweet etc....
The chocolate almond milk is soooo good and comes from "Raw Food Real World" recipe book. It is the only chocolate almond milk I have ever made and it is delicious. We always use raw/organic almonds.

Here is what I do: You will need a nut milk bag to squeeze the milk out of after you have blended the almonds. I just don't know of another way that will render you a nice nut milk with no grainy bits. You can buy nut milk bags at any health food store or order them on line. You can use multi layers of cheese cloth in a pinch but the bag is much easier.
You need to soak your almonds in filtered water 12 hours. If push come to shove I will do it in less but 12 hours but 12 hours or over night is optimal. This allows the raw almond to sprout.
Nuts have phytic acid.  Phytic acid is also found in grains and legumes.  Just as with grains and legumes, soaking nuts is essential for proper digestions.  When eating nuts that haven’t been soaked, the phytic acid binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract and can not be absorbed in the intestine and to many bound minerals can lead to mineral deficiencies.  By soaking, you are breaking down the phytic acid so it can be absorbed properly.  
Nuts also have high amounts of enzymes inhibitors.  This is another reason why un soaked nuts are hard to digest.  Soaking nuts neutralizes the enzymes allowing for proper digestion. (taken from whole lifestyle nutrition web site.)Take one cup of raw organic almonds and cover them in filtered water at least by one inch. The almonds will soak up the water and plump up. When you are ready to make your milk drain the almonds and rinse them well. Next.......

Plain/Vanilla/Unsweetened Almond Milk: I do not like thick almond milk. Most store bought brands are a little on the thick side for me. Its more like drinking cream than milk. BUT! if you like yours thicker than cut back on the water. (If you want 1/2 gallon then double the recipe. That is usually what I make or I would forever be making almond milk.)
Into the blender place the one cup of soaked almonds with 4 cups of filtered water and blend on high speed till the almonds are completely blended up. About a minute or so. I have a Vita mix. I have never tried this with any other blender so I can't tell you how it would work. I imagine if you have a strong blender it will work just fine.
I then add a pinch (tiny pinch) of salt and literally a drop of vanilla. You can use as much or little of the salt and vanilla as you want. You may also add agave or honey or pitted dates for sweetness if you like a sweet almond milk. I personally don't like it sweet and really don't like but a pinch of vanilla.  Add  1 tsp. to 1 Tbl. of lecithin OPTIONAL. More on Lecithin below. Blend again. Pour into a nut milk bag that is over a bowl and wrapping the top of the bag start to squeeze the liquid out of the bag. Do this till there is nothing but dry almond pulp left in the bag. There will be a little foam on the top. I spoon some of this off but don't usually spoon it all off. Pour into a storage container and place in the fridge. This should last you 3-5 days if kept refrigerated.

Chocolate Almond Milk (Raw Food Real World): double for 1/2 gallon, I always do.
Drain and rinse 1 cup of soaked raw almonds. Place in blender with 4 cups filtered water. Blend till smooth. Pour into nut milk bag and squeeze till all milk is out and nothing but dry pulp is left in bag. Rinse out blender and add the newly squeezed milk back into blender. Add

1 1/2 Tbl. raw cocoa powder (this varies depending on how chocolatey you like it to taste. I like it a little less on the chocolate. The original recipe called for 2 Tbl.)
pink of salt
1/2 cup agave nectar or raw unfiltered honey
1 1/2- 2 Tbl. vanilla (I would say start with 1 Tbl. and add till it tastes right for you. )
1 1/2 - 2 Tbl. coconut oil
1 tsp. too 1 Tbl. lecithin (this comes made from soy or from sunflowers.)
Blend till smooth. I scoop the foam as much as I can and then pour into container and store in fridge for 3-5 days.
The original recipe calls for lecithin. It is used as a fat emulsifier. Making things creamy. It is mostly made of soy beans. We ingest a very limited amount of soy and only organic. Usually oganic tofu for some recipe. Other than that no soy.  If I use it I use only lecithin made from sunflowers.  Research it and if you want to add it you can. Add 1 tsp. to  1 Tbl. to the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
Anyway, thats it. Go and enjoy good home made organic almond milk. For us it is much cheaper to make it. We pay around $10 a pound for organic raw almonds. So compared to the carton it is the better way for us to go, particularly since we haven't found an organic brand of almond milk.

Lets talk Lecithin:
One of the issues with home made nut milks is they separate. The fat from the nut and the water separate into what looks unpleasant (like dairy milk gone bad) There is nothing wrong with the nut milk it just needs a good shake or stir and back to beautiful. BUT, if you want keep it more combined and the fat suspended in the water more like a homogenized nut milk would look then Lecithin is the answer. Lecithin comes in soy or sunflower form. You can buy both GMO free but it is a little harder to find organic. I would say do the research. Lecithin has a lot of wonderful health benefits and I would urge you to also research that as well.
Now there is real debate over the safety of Lecithin during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Two thoughts on this is again is be your own advocate and do the research and also speak with your doctor about it. I know that it being soy or sunflower can make a difference. So I leave you with that choice. 
I would not based on my research be concerned if pregnancy or breastfeeding isn't an issue. I think lecithin is a VERY good and helpful supplement. BUT! You do the leg work and decide for yourself.
Your nut milk will not suffer without it other than the inconvenience of halving to stir it to make it look pretty again.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Black Bean Burger

As we try and eat better and try to eat less meat a good burger is necessary. I have always liked vegetarian burgers, so this was easy for me to enjoy.
One of the problems with black bean burgers is they tend to be mushy on the inside. I worked to try and prevent that. There is a fine line with bean burgers between firm and dry. I think these are just the perfect firm burger without being dry.
A very adaptable burger for sure. We don't eat a lot of bread these days but I do make home made hamburger buns to go with our bean burgers. We also do a little cheese with them as well. Everything we choose is organic if possible. Just another way to up the level of goodness these burgers offer.

here is what I did: You can absolutely half this recipe. It makes about 12

4 Cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup frozen corn, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
1/2 cup grated onion
2 cloves garlic grated
2 TBl. minced pickled jalapeno
3 tsp. salt (this seems like a lot but between the beans and bread crumbs the salt is needed)
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ancho chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
3 Tbl. hot sauce (we use Cholula hot sauce)
4 eggs beaten
2 cups dried bread crumbs
One of the things that makes bean burgers mushy is the moisture in the beans. So after rinsing  them, I placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. I stirred the beans about half way through to get the bottom moist beans to the top. If you bake them too long they will dry out too much. Better to under bake them then over bake them. Baking is not necessary it is just how I have found to help the consistency. After baking let cool and then place in a food processor and pulse them till they are large crumbles. Place in a bowl.
 Place the sunflower seeds in food processor and process till small pieces and add to the bowl of beans.
Next add the corn to the food processor and process till small pieces and add to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together and add the onion, garlic, jalapeno, salt, pepper, both chili powders, cumin,hot sauce and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. It should be slightly salty (this will be ok as we are adding bread crumbs and that will take care of the saltiness)
Next add the eggs and combine, stir in the bread crumbs (the mixture will be very thick. I sometimes just use my hands if it is too hard to stir.) Let mixture set for 5 minutes and then form into patties.
I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop out the mix and then squeeze the mixture together and then flatten out and form into a patty about 4" in diameter or about 1/2 " thick or so. Place on a plate till ready to fry.
Heat pan on med heat. Add a few Tbl. of oil and when oil is hot add burgers and fry for about 5 minutes. Turn the patty and fry an additional 5 minutes. If using cheese add cheese the last 2 minutes of frying. I cover the pan and let them steam a little to help melt the cheese. The burgers should be nice and crisp. You don't want to try and cook the burgers too fast as they will be crisp on the outside and still have uncooked egg on the inside. Unlike frying beef patties which cook at higher temps, you want to give these plenty of time to cook and get crisp.
I serve mine on home made hamburger buns with lettuce, tomato, raw onions, and smashed avocado that has a little lime and salt mixed in with it. You can of course use any condiment you like.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rustic Hummus

My family loves hummus. I have a son that could live on the stuff. I use to buy a big container of it weekly at Costco. It dawned on me that there was no reason to buy it when I can make it at home for 1/2 the price.
I have tried many different recipes. I have never found one that I loved. They were bitter or just not right. This one is really good.
 To get that super smooth hummus we tend to see you must sit and remove the little skins off of each garbanzo bean. Well after pulling the skins off of about 5 little beans (I had 4 cans of beans rinsed and ready to use) I said the heck with it. We will have rustic hummus. I'm not sitting there and peeling the skins off of 4 cans of beans. So it is up to you on how smooth you want it to look. It tastes the same.
This recipe makes a large bowl. You can certainly half it.
The thing about this recipe is that you can adapt it to your own taste. More of this, less of that. It is a good basic recipe to play with.

Here is what I did:
4 cans garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
1 cup tahini (this is a sesame seed paste you can find at most grocery stores and health food stores. Make sure you mix it well before you use it. The oil and seed butter separate. )
4 lemons juiced
1 Cup extra virgin olive oil + a drizzle or so as needed while blending.
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned and just tear the top leaves off, a little stem is ok. You will be blending it a food processor anyway.
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tsp. garlic powder (you can certainly use fresh garlic. This is just easy and works fine in my opinion.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
optional- a drizzle of honey if it tastes too tart from the lemon juice. The lemon will mellow some if you want to wait before adding any honey.

In food processor add tahini and lemon juice. Blend and scrape down sides if needed. Add evoo, cilantro, cucumber, garlic powder, salt, paprika, cumin and blend scraping sides down to blend it well. Add half the beans and blend well. Add the other half and blend well. Scrape down sides a few times during blending to make sure it is completely blended. If it is too thick add a drizzle of evoo or a Tbl. at a time of water.  Taste for tartness and add honey if you want to. Just a small drizzle. As I said before the lemon will mellow out. Now taste for seasonings. Add more salt or cumin needed. You don't want to under salt this or it will be very bland. The lemons and salt are important ingredients in getting the right hummus flavor.
Serve with cut up veggies, corn chips, pita chips or eat it off a spoon. It all works. We love to use it in veggie roll up as the condiment. YUM.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

No Bake Chocolate Walnut Bars

My husband and sons love, love, loves these. They are a great grab and go. If you have a sweet tooth, these will hit the spot.  They are pretty easy to make and work great for us.

Here is what I do:
1/2 Cup raw unfiltered organic honey
1/4 Cup organic cold pressed coconut oil
1/4 Cup almond butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Cup chopped walnuts or half cup walnuts and half cup almonds chopped
1/2 Cup raw organic cocoa nibs (you can use chocolate chips if you want. We just don't want the added sugar. Cocoa nibs keeps it healthier.)
1/4 Cup sunflower seeds
1/4 Cup pepitas ( raw shelled pumpkin seeds)
1/4 Cup dried goji berries (I sit and cut them in half. You don't have to but I like them smaller)
1 Cup organic rolled oats

Place walnuts, cocoa nibs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, goji berries and rolled oats into a large bowl. Mix and set aside.
Oil an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.
In a saute pan set over med-low heat add the honey, coconut oil, almond butter, salt and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over med heat and let boil about two minutes stirring constantly. This will be your tried and true work. If you boil it long enough the bars will not get soft and messy when eating them room temperature. If you don't boil it long enough they will be a bit gooey. Not big deal. You will figure out what the right amount of time to boil the mixture for is. After the two minutes remove from the heat and add the vanilla and stir well.
Pour over dry ingredients and stir well to combine (I use a rubber spatula for this. It seems to work best and everything doesn't stick to it.)
Pour into prepared baking dish and press everything in tight. Place in refrigerator for two hours. Take out and cut into 12 bars. I them wrap them individually in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator. They will soften some as they warm up while you eat them. Sticky and delicious. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Vegetarian Mexican Tortilla Soup

This soup is terrific, filling and healthy. It is adapted from "The Food Babe's" recipe. Just like most recipes I take a recipe and then make it my own to suit our tastes. I will give you options in making it healthier if you choose. I also used all organic ingredients where I could.

Here's what I did: (I doubled the recipe)

2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Cups onion, chopped (I used two small white onions)
1/2 Cup diced cerely
1 Cup diced carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 cup green lentils, rinsed (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup but I wanted more so I used 1 Cup to make it heartier)
6 Cups vegetable stock
1 (14oz) can or jar crushed tomatoes (mine were chopped not crushed and they broke down just fine)
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2- 1 tsp. salt (you will taste and adjust seasoning at the end)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 sprouted corn tortillas **( I did not use sprouted corn tortillas as I couldn't find them. I bought a bag of organic white corn tortilla chips and crushed up a hand full to add to the soup. It is important to use organic corn products as almost all corn and corn products are GMO's. If I can find sprouted corn tortillas next time I make the soup I will give it a try. The organic chips worked great though)

In a large pot heat the olive oil up over med heat and add the onions, celery and carrots. Stir and cook till the vegetables are slightly tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Next add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, lentils, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and chopped cilantro. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cover and simmer 30 minutes or so till lentils are tender. When lentils are tender add a hand full of crushed corn tortilla chips(or the sprouted corn tortillas.) Cover and continue to simmer another ten minutes. The chips should break up and dissolve into the soup and thicken it up some. Taste for seasoning.
Serve with optional toppings of :
tortillas chips
monterey jack cheese (I use pepper jack cheese. Organic or course.)
cubed avacado
additional cilantro