Tag Archives: organic

Egg Breakfast Cups

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Bacon & Kale Cheesy Egg Cups – Part of a Successful Weekly Meal Plan
Yield: 12 individual egg cups Temp: 325° (f) Cooking Time: 25 minutes Prep Time: 15 minutes  

Ingredients – Equipment Needed
undefined 1 head kale, chopped
undefined 5+ strips bacon, cut/crisped (save some bacon grease for cooking the kale)
undefined 12-14 eggs, medium to large
undefined ½ cup combined, shredded Parmesan & mozzarella cheese
undefined Kosher salt/pepper to taste
undefined 12 pan muffin tin
undefined Parchment paper or cupcake liners
undefined Skillet
undefined Canning funnel

Step 1: Preheat oven to 325° (f) and prep the muffin tin with liners. Set aside. My best advice for still intact, non stick egg cups is to use parchment paper by making your own muffin tin liners or purchasing liners that are specifically made from parchment paper. Making your own is super simple and here is a really quick cool video I found on the interwebs by Cooking with Manuela on how to make your own. If making your own is not your thing, I use these from Paperchef all the time and I 100% swear by them *not a paid ad

Step 2: Dice bacon and crisp in a pan. I use a cast iron skillet, but any pan will do. Make sure to drain the fat (but save it!!) while cooking to ensure a good crisp on the bacon. Once crisp, remove from pan and set aside.

Bacon rendering in a cast iron skillet.

Step 3: Wash, dry, and remove kale from stems. Chop and place in skillet with a tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat. You can omit and use olive oil or any oil of your choosing. Kosher salt and pepper to taste. Saute until desired wilt or crispness has been achieved, add back bacon and toss for a few minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 4: Crack and whisk eggs with kosher salt and pepper. Set aside. Fill each muffin tin with a tablespoon of bacon kale mixture. Sprinkle shredded cheese mixture on top.

Step 5: If you have a canning funnel, I would totally use it because it will help to eliminate any drips or spills, which in turn makes egg cup removal from the muffin tins a bit tedious… the funnel helps keep everything in the cup where it needs to be. If not, use a large spoon or ladle and fill each muffin tin ¾ full.

Step 6: place in a 325° (f) preheated oven for 25 minutes. Serve and enjoy immediately or do as I do and store in airtight containers in the fridge for your meal planning win during the week.

Additional Ingredient Options: Here are some additional examples of breakfast egg cup variations I’ve made this year:
undefined Broccoli, bacon & goat cheese
undefined Kale, sweet peppers, & cheddar cheese
undefined Sweet peppers, zucchini, sausage & Parmesan cheese

A Note About The Ingredients I Use:
The eggs in this recipe and all recipes I create are made from the chickens I raise. They are fed organic feed in addition to all of the organic produce scraps from my kitchen and all that nature has to provide for them in my pasture. All other ingredients I do my very best to source locally if it does not come direct from my homestead (i.e. the produce & meats) as well as organic and non-gmo options. These recipes do not need to be local & organic but this is what I chose to do for my family.

The Story: I’m a fulltime remote employee for a global tech giant, I wrangle two very active boys and husband daily. The dog needs walking & the chickens need food. The land needs tending and there are only so many hours in a day, then you need to eat. This year I’ve decided to reinstate meal planning and meal preparation. Egg cups – the first installment of that plan. I’m typically (when Covid-19 doesn’t have us stuck at home) on the go, tacking on 120+ miles a day in the car in addition to meetings, kids activities, tending to the homestead, trying to stay physically fit and all the things life has to offer. In my back to basics journey I’ve made deep strides to improve the health in my life and I don’t want to hinder the progress by eating crap on the fly. Having good for you, fueling meals ready on the go is key for success in my day to day. This recipe makes 12 egg cups for me for the week. I warm up 2 egg cups a day from Monday through Saturday for my breakfast. Sundays are left for meal planning and meal prepping. I’ll be 100% honest, these are best the moment they come out of the oven and look a little sad on day two, but the taste is still delightful and fills me up on the go. So, here’s to your meal planning success, Egg Cups!

Banana Bread Muffins

According to the interwebs, banana bread was one of the top icons of the recent quarantine. Everyone and their grandmother has been baking like their lives depend on it and banana bread was at the top of the list. This is not your grandmother’s quarantine banana bread. These are fluffy, moist and quite chocolaty. A perfect mobile breakfast for the meal planning guru’s arsenal, easily adjusted to be gluten free using a 1:1 baking flour, and really the only way I’ll enjoy banana anything… muffins!

Chocolate chip or double chocolate with deep rich red dutch cocoa, better than grandma’s. If my grandmother heard me say this… she might agree! This recipe is hers, with a twist.

As it relates to a meal planner’s arsenal, these muffins store well in the fridge or freezer and easily warm up in the oven or microwave oven for a good meal “on the go”. During what I refer to as meal prepping Sundays, I make at least a dozen and this will satisfy breakfast for my little boys for the entire week.

So don’t let those bananas go to waste on your counter top. If anything *pro-tip*, peel, cut in half, freeze on a cookie sheet, and then transfer to a freezer sealed bag to use for future smoothie material. OK, I’ll enjoy banana two ways… but for now… muffins!!

Banana Bread Muffins
350 (f) degrees / 25 – 30 minutes baking time / 10-15 minute prep time
Yield One Dozen (12) Muffins

3 Medium Ripe Bananas
2 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, Packed
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Spice (combination of cinnamon, ginger, & nutmeg)
1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
2 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Chocolate Chips (or as many as you like!)

For Double Chocolate Chip Make the Following Ingredient Adjustments
Add 1/4 Cup Red Dutch Cocoa Powder
Reduce All-Purpose Flour to 2 Cups only


For Gluten Free Make the Following Ingredient Adjustments
Replace All-Purpose Flour with 2 1/4 Cups of 1:1 Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Flour

STEP 1:
Pre-heat oven to 350 (f) degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with liners. Set aside.

STEP 2:
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment mix bananas, vanilla, sugars, spice, baking soda and baking powder. Once fully blended and fluffy, whisk in melted butter. Once incorporated, change the whisk attachment to the mixing attachment to fold in the flour (& cocoa powder if making the double chocolate variation) and chocolate chips.

If no stand mixer is available, start by mashing the bananas and sugar together with a fork or potato masher, then with a hand whisk or handheld mixer whisk in vanilla, spice, baking soda and baking powder. Once fully blended and fluffy, whisk in melted butter. Once incorporated, use a spatula and fold in flour (& cocoa powder if making the double chocolate variation) and chocolate chips.

Your batter should be thick and not able to easily fall from the spoon.

Why add the soda & powder to the wet ingredients & not the dry like every recipe on the interwebs??? I’ve found that by whisking the soda & powder with the wet ingredients, it helps to create a fluffier texture. This is why I recommend folding (do not over mix) your flours into the wet to avoid breaking down the fluff you’ve just created. I’m no scientist but baking is a science and to test & experiment is to find new improved ways to do things!

STEP 3:
Fill each cupcake liner to the brim. Don’t overflow but fill them to the top. Place the filled muffin tin in a preheated 350 (f) degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Test with a toothpick to ensure a clean removal & your muffins are done and ready to consume.

STORAGE:
Stores well in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week or in a freezer bag for a few months. Heat up on the go in the oven or the microwave for a few minutes. Perfect with your morning beverage to go!

Enjoy!!

Simple Country White Bread

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

I first started making bread eight years ago. I was trying to save money and cut out all of the crap in our daily consumption. The original recipe was quite tasty but there were too many ingredients involved for me to consider it cost saving. Plus, a simple tasty slice of bread is made from just a few simple ingredients.

Simple country white bread consists of flour, yeast, water, honey, and flax seed or chia seeds. I add the seeds for protein and omegas. The seeds are 100% optional and not needed to get a great fluffy loaf of bread. I store our loaf in an airtight container in a cool location. The loaf will last the week for the oldest’s sandwiches for lunch or honey toast for my youngest for breakfast. Any leftovers get turned into french toast at the end of the week!

SIMPLE COUNTRY WHITE BREAD

350 (f) degrees / 38 minutes / yield avg. 12-14 slices

  • 3 cups organic unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tablespoons yeast
  • 1/4 cup organic chia or flax seeds *optional
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons raw local honey

STEP 1: In a bowl combine yeast, honey, and warm water. Note, not too hot or it will kill the yeast. Set aside and let activate. You’ll have a layer of foam when you know the yeast has bloomed.

STEP 2: Once the yeast has bloomed add flour, seeds (*optional), salt, and olive oil. Mix. You can use a stand mixer with bread attachment or the best tools you have in the kitchen… your hands. Mix until combined and kneed for a couple of minutes. Add flour if it is too sticky. Once combined, set aside in the bowl, covered with a dish towel in a warm location. Let rise or double in size.

STEP 3: Prepare a loaf pan with parchment paper. Once the dough has doubled in size, kneed out the air for a couple of minutes, shaping to your desired loaf pan. Cover with dish towel and set aside in a warm location to double in size.

STEP 4: Preheat oven to 350 (f) degrees. Once doubled in size, sprinkle the top of the loaf with some warm water and place in preheated oven for 38 minutes. When finished, remove from oven and loaf pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

STEP 5: Store in an airtight container in dark cool location for up to a week. ENJOY!

Granola Bars

“Before I had kids, I didn’t even know it was possible to destroy an entire house with a granola bar.” – Twitter Quote

I will be revisiting all of the recipes presented on this site, as well as sharing new ones. The first recipe I’ll be revisiting is my infamous granola bars!

When I first wrote this recipe, I was starting a new journey, looking deeper into the food I ate and attempting to make better decisions on what my family consumed. Looking back on the recipe, what seems to be healthy on the outside may not always be healthy on the inside. I chuckle because I had added extra brown sugar in the recipe that really doesn’t need to be there.

Now don’t get me wrong, the original recipe is still very tasty but I decided to remove the brown sugar and make some other adjustments to reduce the amount of sugar we were consuming in our day to day lives. These bars are quick & easy to make and quite versatile. I make a batch weekly for my boys. The granola bars are better than ever and according to my oldest son, should be famous!

GRANOLA BARS

350 (f) degrees / 25 minutes / yield avg. two dozen bars / Prep Time: 15 mins / Bake Time: 25 mins / Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 4 cups organic rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup organic chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup organic flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup organic butter, melted (*can sub coconut oil)
  • 1 cup organic dried fruit, chopped
  • 1 cup organic peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup raw local honey
  • 1/2 cup organic semi sweet chocolate chips (*can sub cacao nibs)
  • 9 x 13 pan
  • sheet of parchment paper

Step 1 – preheat oven to 350 (f) degrees. In a large bowl combine oats, seeds, and chopped dried fruit. Mix well.

Step 2 – fine chop dried fruit of choice. You can really use any kind you like. In my recipe I use 1/2 cup dried chopped cranberries and 1/2 cup dried chopped apricots. Add to the bowl and mix.

Step 3 – add melted butter and mix to ensure all ingredients are coated.

Step 4 – add peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips. Make sure to mix well so all ingredients are well incorporated.

Step 5 – line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. Press your granola mixture into the pan, making sure you have an even spread across the pan.

Step 5.a optional – this is where you can get creative. I don’t add this to the ingredient list above but you have the option to add an extra layer of peanut butter to the top of the granola mixture or chocolate chips. When the granola’s are done baking, you would use a spatula knife and spread the layer of chocolate thin to cool and harden. The layer of peanut butter needs no attention after baking

Step 6 – place in preheated 350(f) degree oven for 25 minutes. When finished, place on wrack to cool. Pro tip – once the tray has cooled, place the tray in the refrigerator for an  hour to make cutting your bars less sticky and more uniform. Once cooled you can cut your bars to desired size. I typically cut the bars 4 inches in length which yields me up to 24 bars. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to a week… If they last that long 🙂

ENJOY!

PS: this recipe is quite versatile and simple to adjust. Don’t want chocolate chips, keep them out. Ingredients not coming together well enough, add more peanut butter or honey. Too sticky, add more oats. Substitute butter for coconut oil. Add any dried fruit of your desire. Add more nuts, chopped up walnuts or almonds or sunflower seeds. The possibilities are endless… have fun and enjoy!

There’s A Bun In The Oven

There’s a Bun in The Oven

It has been an amazing roller coaster of a year, 2014. Our little family found a beautiful place to call home that will allow us to fulfill many of our goals towards a less dependent lifestyle. We have the best neighbors anyone could ever ask for and we are grateful. After 19 years of renting together I believe the hubs and I have paid our dues and this is our reward.

bun in the oven

We’ve spent more time outside this year than in the past 5+ years collectively.

bun in the oven

We created a beautiful garden that will continue to grow and flourish in the years to come.

bun in the oven

bun in the oven

We’ve built our own coop and added some feathered friends to our household for fresh eggs.

bun in the oven

bun in the oven

Despite a full 9-5 schedule with new roles, promotions and more, I’ve still been able to maintain keeping things homemade, from scratch, local, and organic. I’ve been able to keep canning, keep making my kiddo’s snacks from scratch, and most meals… most… are cooked at home.

bun in the oven bun in the oven bun in the oven bun in the oven

Our handsome little boy has grown by leaps and bounds. He’s learned to ride a bike without ever using training wheels and has overcome his fear of swimming.

bun in the oven bun in the oven

He’s developed a love of nature and wildlife.

bun in the oven bun in the oven

He loves to draw and write words, “Mommy, how do you spell…?” He teaches us more and more every day.

bun in the oven bun in the oven

We took one step further in our journey for food closer to home. We learned how to harvest and butcher a pig that has filled our freezer for the year. We added homemade bacon and sausage to what we’ve learned how to make vs. buying at the store.

Bun in the oven bun in the oven bun in the oven

We took tiny steps to get ourselves involved in our new community with hopes for more involvement in the future.

bun in the oven

The hubs and I went on our first real date in over 4 years. Official Date Night of 2014!

bun in the oven

We celebrated 90 amazing years of the woman who has been an integral part of my entire life and has shaped us all, the matriarch of the family.

bun in the oven

I picked back up an old hobby and got the best anniversary present ever, celebrating 19 years with the best father and husband.

bun in the oven

We finally got a real family photo for the first time since our kiddo was born. I also got the opportunity to include my ol’ girl with us in the photos thanks to Marisa Duran Photography.

bun in the oven bun in the oven

I was so happy to capture this moment with my girl because as these photos were taken I knew in my heart there were going to be major changes on the horizon. Positive changes but major ones none the less.

The first of those changes was the major decision to add another four furry legs to our household. As we started the last month of 2014 we welcomed lil’ girl to our home with open arms.

bun in the oven

It may seem that the decision was quick but we’ve been talking about another dog for more than a couple years now. It was important that we didn’t let any more time pass to allow another member of our family to grow with our son. It boiled down to now or never. This statement, now or never, lends well to the next major change in our lives… at the age of 37 with a lot on the horizon it was now or never that we made this final leap to close the circle of our little family…

bun in the oven

From the moment my son was born people were in my ear, “we’ll see you back in 2 years with another”, “when are you going to have another”, “don’t you want more”, “it’s only fair to your son to have a sibling” and the comments continued. Of course I wanted more children. Of course I want a sibling for my son. But it was so much more than that. So much more than most could ever understand. From the moment I learned I was pregnant with my son I was deathly sick. Not morning sickness, all day all night sickness. So sick that one could not drink water or eat food without every ounce coming back up within minutes or hours of consumption. A sickness that depleted every ounce of energy from one’s body where simple tasks like taking a shower or washing a dish would wipe one out for the entire day or week. The sickness has a name and its hyperemesis gravidarum. Only with the assistance of medication and forced fluids was I able to make it through 8 months. My son arrived a month early and after 30 hours of labor and an emergency C-section did we make it out alive and more than well.

Those eight months were the hardest months of my life. In the end it was all worth it but with a heavy price. Not only was my physical tested beyond belief my mental as well. It took close to 6 months before I could get to a true recovery state. In my case, having a child changed every bit of my being and existence. Our lifestyles did a complete 360.

When I was pregnant with my son I had family and friends with 20 minutes of me in any one direction. The husband was close to work and my mom was within minutes to get to me when I was in need. With the strong support of my employer, I was able to take the bed rest that was required while still maintaining my job. I had no one else to tend to other than myself. The hubs did the groceries and cooked dinners. Every so often I’d have to let 2 already potty trained dogs out to wander the yard for fresh air. Otherwise I lay in bed for what seemed to be months. My mom would visit on weekends to bring over my cravings only for me to throw them up soon after. Exhaustion and stress only amplified the intensity of the illness so my activity was minimal to none.

Once my son was born and the questions constantly imposed, I was forced to be reminded daily of how I struggled and how times are now oh so different. I could not imagine (although I know many women who do) having to tend to a very active toddler while trying to manage the extreme sickness. Constant throwing up, nausea that never goes away, dehydration, exhaustion, aches and pains from throwing up, and constipation from the harsh medication. As I mentioned our lives did a 360 which meant that I was no longer brining in an income. We moved well over an hour away from family, friends, and support. I did not have a village to turn to in times of need. For as much as my little man and I had been through in the previous months I didn’t want to take any more time away from him that had already been taken.

The questions were a constant but I was able to push past them without much explanation. After all, most I’d speak with never could truly understand how sick I was.

As time progressed, my son started preschool and I returned to work. We moved on and upward with our lives thinking about our futures. We’ve always wanted more kids but as I just explained the pros and cons were to be heavily weighed. After much thought, planning, and as much preparation as we could do for ourselves knowing what was going to be ahead… we decided it was time. It was now or never and well…

With all of the planning and preparation I had hopes. I had hopes that this pregnancy would be different. After all, it is true that everyone is different… but how different is the question. With my first son I was sick within a day of my missed period. After 2 months of throwing up, extreme dehydration and lack of nutrition the doctors to finally placed me on Zofran, which is an anti-nausea medication. I had also been on Phenergan which was a suppository and only added to the worst experience of my life. It took roughly 4 months for the medication to regulate but if I missed a session, hello toilet!

Given our timing and planning, I had high hopes to be able to surprise the hubs on Christmas with a wonderful ultra sound picture, vibrant and happy, and not nauseous. Wrong. Within a week of my missed period the sickness started to creep on me. Given my history my OB did not hesitate to prescribe Zofran immediately. I know many “natural” moms that follow me and read my ranting’s may look down upon my use of a chemical, synthetic drug during pregnancy. Believe me, I’d rather not be throwing up, I’d rather NOT be taking a bunch of pills just to get through my day… but I can’t. Don’t tell me to eat crackers or ginger. This sickness is so much more than that. Smelling and eating peppermint, ginger, crackers, and broth, etc.; every natural remedy that has been thought of, women of HG have attempted. Even with the use of medications like Zofran the nausea is still very much present on an hourly, daily basis. It also does not always stop the puking sessions. As I mentioned exhaustion is a killer and doing a bit too much no matter how much medication will most likely result in an evening in the bathroom hugging the toilet.

I was a week into the medication when we brought our little four legged fury child home. Our lil’ girl is just that… so little and so new. She is a puppy. Puppies require potty training, puppy training, acclimation to a new home and a new pack. Of course this is also December and my most favorite time of the year. A time filled with decorations, baking, family time, holiday crafts, DIY gift making and more. This is my time and more than ever an important one because it is the last Christmas that I’ll have my kiddo just to myself.

Roughly 2 weeks into the medication, a week with a new puppy, and a mounting list of projects to get done for Christmas ahead, I still had hopes. I was exhausted but not yet sick beyond control.  We were out and about to get our Christmas tree and I had forgotten to bring my medication. Keeping in mind I had not yet told the hubs I was pregnant. I was trying so hard to keep it a surprise but after 19 years he knows me more than I think. I should also take more consideration to understand that not only was the first experience of HG a huge impact for me, it was huge for him as well. We’re in the car and I couldn’t help but express how crappy I felt at the moment and he knew right then and there. “You’re pregnant… aren’t you???” Well, so much for that White Christmas surprise. Instead he learned of the news in the car parked in the parking lot of a FedEx and a Five Guys Burgers. Joy. Coming to the end of the 2nd week of starting the meds and the sickness was rearing its ugly head. Every smell, everything made me sick. My poor kiddo kept asking when I was going to feel better. It’s not like me to sit on the couch for more than a couple minutes at a time. I’m a battery that keeps going and for me to be sidelined causes much concern from those who know me.   I wanted to wait to tell our kiddo till after I made it out of the 1st trimester. I wanted to get past his birthday before sharing the news but there was no hiding it. I was just too sick to keep something like this from him. So that following weekend the hubs and I so carefully told the kiddo he was going to be a big brother. It took some time for it to sink in. It wasn’t until he got to see the ultra sound picture did it really make sense there was something growing in my tummy. Since then he’s been asking a million questions with excitement and curiosity.

It was at roughly 6 weeks into the pregnancy when the illness had fully overcome me. My early morning routine, a routine that I cannot make much adjustment to, was causing great havoc. The sheer act of waking up is a task in itself. Knowing that the moment you open your eyes the nausea will wash over your entire being and you’re in dry heave mode. The light at the end of the tunnel was an already planned time off due to the holidays and an extremely supportive employer and team members. If it wasn’t for my wonderful managers and team members to pick up my slack… I wouldn’t be functioning as I am today. As much as I loathe when my little man catches a cold I was also thankful he was home sick with me so I did not have to rush him off to school. We both spent the week hibernating. He was such a big boy and so helpful beyond belief. The poor hubs who has a 3 hour round trip daily commute has been picking up the extra slack by taking care of dinner and the evening kiddo routine. I’ve been nothing but a lump on a log. I’m of no help. The week of Christmas was the worst so far and I know it has everything to do with exhaustion. I had to do as much as I could for my DIY presents, mandatory errands and doctors’ appointments over an hour away from home. They all took a major toll. By Tuesday before Christmas I was bed ridden and couldn’t move. Despite the medication I threw up daily, dehydrated and in pain. I made it to two family gatherings over the course of Christmas Eve and Christmas, but beyond that… I’ve been bed ridden.

I’ve missed out on crafts with my kiddos, volunteering at his school, baking cookies with the kiddos, and my favorite… amusement park rides with my lil’ man. I had to sit behind while the family went out for a Christmas light celebration and amusement park rides. I’m the one who usually rides the rides with my kiddo and for the first time I wasn’t there. I was so sad but knowing my kiddo was getting a chance to get out and have fun, pushed me through.

At this point in the journey I must take it one day at a time. Some days are more tolerated than others. I am fully accepting that I can’t do all what I do normally. I know there will be a time for it all in the future but for now I must rest. I am concerned for the days to come when work resumes. Will I be able to without being unbearably uncomfortable and putting a strain on my team? I hope for the better. I hope to get past this as I did with my first. Why do I share all of this with you… because a big part of my life has been this blog, the stories I share, the information I share, and the photography that helps me to tell the story. The blog will continue because it’s become a part of me but it will be sidelined until I get past this illness. It could be a couple weeks or it could be the entire duration of the pregnancy. Of course we hope for the best but understand anything can happen.

For now we’ll take it one day at a time and I hope to check in as often as I can with updates on the homestead and all we’re doing to get ready for the next venture in our family’s life. Thank you to all who have been there since the beginning and continue to follow me through the ups and downs. Thank you for the support! From my growing family to yours… I wish you the very best in the New Year!

 

365 Project 2014 – Day 3

365 Project 2014 – Day 3

What is it?
365 Project 2014 - Day 3

Imagination
365 Project 2014 - Day 3

Where the garden grows. A ground riddled with gophers but I will overcome! I’ve got plans for containers, raised beds, trellises, and much more. The seeds are ordered. Only heirloom organic for this homestead. The planning begins. Now if only Mother Nature would grant us with some rain, that would be wonderful.
365 Project 2014 - Day 3

Hey piggy piggy! Can you see the little black noses looking back at us. My ol’ girl is still trying to figure out what these round snorting creatures are.
365 Project 2014 - Day 3

A home for Rabbits Taking stock of the soon to be home for the rabbits. There is some work to be done…
365 Project 2014 - Day 3

The moth Whisperer They follow me wherever I go… well, they follow the light but let’s just call me… the moth whisperer!
365 Project 2014 - Day 3

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

During my childhood days I had a couple people in my world that provided an exposure to foods beyond the typical everyday fare. My late grandfather was one of those people. He loved liverwurst, salsa, headcheese, salty nuts, alcohol, and sweets. He use to get upset at me because I’d eat all of his special foods and leave him none. He didn’t expect his little granddaughter to eat all of his headcheese! One food or condiment he loved was spicy pickled peppers better known as pickled jalapeno escabeche. These peppers were tangy from the vinegar, sweet from the brine filled with carrots and onions and spicy because the peppers were jalapenos. He’d have a jar hidden on the door of the refrigerator. I’d eventually discover the hidden jar and clear it of all jalapenos so all that remained were onions and carrots.

Over the years I’ve developed a great love for these spicy tangy peppers and today I need to eat them with everything! Unfortunately the store bought versions are filled with unhealthy sodium (sodium is healthy but in the right form and the right amounts), vegetables grown from who knows where and covered with who knows what (produce shipped from long distances covered in chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and other gmo concerns). In addition to the unknown ingredients/chemicals in the store bought version you’re also dealing with the chemicals that come along with processing store bought foods in cans. In line with our goals of eating local food, organic food, from scratch food, and food with minimal ingredients I decided to make and can pickled jalapeno escabeche on my own. With a few basic ingredients this has been the easiest pickled and canned recipe I’ve made in a while.
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

I wish my grandpa was still here so he could enjoy my homemade version of his favorite spicy snack. He’d be so proud of the healthy alternative we’re enjoying now. As mentioned, in line with our goals of eating homemade, home canned, local, organic, seasonal foods we choose to can enough pickled jalapeno escabeche that will last us till jalapenos are in season again next year. How many pints is this do you ask? Well, I’m not sure yet since last year was the first year we attempted to make this recipe and start canning the jalapenos. This year I’ve canned an ample amount and we’re already enjoying the fruits of our labor. We’ve got a couple more weeks of peppers and the season is done. Just think to how often you eat these peppers. Some enjoy them on everything and some only enjoy them on certain things… nachos come to mind (= If you eat a jar a week… consider how many weeks you’ve got till jalapenos are in season again. 52 jars. That might be a bit much but giving you an idea of planning. If you eat a can a month then that might be a more reasonable approach. This recipe will provide you 6 to 8 pints of canned pickled jalapeno escabeche.

The following recipe is fun because it is versatile. I’ve seen versions with dried herbs and other vegetables that stand up to high temperatures. This is your basic pickled jalapeno recipe that I’ve compiled of various versions found across the interwebs. Adjust it as you like. Included in the recipe are basic instructions for water bath canning for long term storage. Enjoy pickled jalapeno escabeche!
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche
* = organic (or GMO free)
¤ = local

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche
1 pound fresh jalapenos (use serranos or even habaneros if you’re brave) *¤
1 bunch carrots (6 or more medium sized) *¤
1 onion (I prefer white but you can use any kind) *¤
10 cloves garlic *¤
1/3 cup olive oil *
2 tablespoons kosher salt (or sea salt)
2 tablespoons cane sugar (I use Florida Crystals a carbon free company. I’ve also tested coconut sugar, which works well) *
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water (optional to cut the zing of the vinegar)
6-8 sterilized pint mason jars + lids & rings
1 large water bath canning pot
2 tablespoons white vinegar (optional, add to canning water)

Step 1: Prepare your water bath canner and jars according to your manufacture instructions. In this instance I am using 6 to 8 pint sized mason jars, lids and rings. I prepare my oversized aluminum canner with hot water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar. I crank the temperature to high so it will be close to if not already boiling by the time I’m ready to fill the jars. With my jar grabber I place each jar, rings & lids removed, into the heating water. I will let the water fill the jars as they enter the pot. I fill a separate small pot with water and add the lids to get warm. Do not boil the lids.
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Step 2: Prepare your ingredients. You may cut rings or leave the peppers whole. If you leave the peppers whole make sure to cut a small slit in each to allow the juices to penetrate later in the cooking time. Set peppers aside. Clean and chop carrots. You can cut circles or on the bias and not too thin or they will fall apart in the cooking process. Set aside. Clean one onion. Cut in half and then cut slices. The thickness is your choice but keep in mind the thinner onion slice will fall apart sooner in the cooking process. Set aside. Clean 10 cloves of garlic and thinly slice. Set aside.
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Step 3: Heat up olive oil in a medium sized stock pot. Add the peppers to the hot oil and stir making sure to coat all of the peppers with oil. Add carrots, onions, garlic, and continue to stir, coating all of the vegetables. Next add the kosher salt and sugar and incorporate well. Sauté the vegetables till soft, roughly 10 minutes. Next add in the white and cider vinegars and stir well. If you like less of a tangy pepper you may add a cup of water to dilute the vinegar. Cook the vegetables till soft and the color has muted almost to an olive green (in the case of jalapenos or seranos), roughly 10 minutes. Once your vegetables are cooked through, remove from heat and begin preparation of filling your jars for canning. NOTE: If you don’t plan on canning and instead eating these right away, I would cook them for an additional 10 – 15 minutes to ensure a soft pepper. Otherwise your peppers will be crunchy and possibly too spicy. The canning process helps to cook them through further. END NOTE
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Step 4: Now it’s time to fill your jars. At this point the water bath is close to if not already boiling. Turn the water down just for the moment you’ll be handling the jars. Drain the small pot with lids and set lids into rings in preparation to top jars. With you jar grabber, remove one jar at a time from the hot water in the canning pot and place onto a clean towel. Make sure to pour out any excess water from the jar back into the canning pot. I like to use the canning funnel, which allows for easy filling of the jars with minimal mess. Place the funnel in your first jar and fill with vegetables and liquid. Make sure the liquid covers the vegetables and ensure there is a one inch head space between the vegetables and the rim of the jar. Remove the funnel and wipe the rim of the jar to ensure there is no debris that will impact the lid’s seal. Place a lid and ring on the jar and close till just barely tight. Too tight or too loose and the seal won’t work. With the jar grabber place the filled jar back into the boiling water and repeat with all jars till full. Once you’re done filling the jars bring the water back up to a full boil and start your timer for 15 minutes. NOTE: Make sure you start the time when the water is at a full boil and not before. Also note that you must have at least 1 to 2 inches of boiling water above the lids of the jars while in the canning pot. 10 minutes for ½ pints. 15 minutes for pints. 20 minutes for quarts. END NOTE
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Step 5: Once the timer is complete at 15 minutes turn off the heat and with your jar grabber carefully remove each jar and place on a towel in an unobstructed area free from roaming pets, wild kids, and breezes. The jars must sit overnight (24hrs) for a complete seal. Depending on the manufacturer (in my case Ball) you’ll hear the POP of the seal when it’s complete but it’s best to leave the jars overnight to ensure the seal is complete. For long term storage remove the rings of the lids before storing away and do not stack the jar. WHY you ask… because if a seal fails the ring will allow it to re-seal and then you’ll never know until opening the jar if you’re food has spoiled. Same process applies to stacking. Without a ring or object blocking the way you’ll know immediately if a seal has failed.

Step 6: ENJOY! When people ask me what they would eat these peppers with I remind them of nachos or burritos and then it clicks and they realize these tasty peppers are absolutely wonderful with most any meal. Need to add an extra spicy tangy condiment to your meals… add pickled jalapenos escabeche. Enjoy!
Pickled Jalapeno Escabeche

Homemade Scones

Homemade Scones

It’s neither a muffin nor a biscuit. Homemade scones are an easy grab and go add for your breakfast or snack on the run. I first tried a scone from one of my office cafeterias several years back. It was an overly sweet, overly dry square of dough. I needed more than one cup of coffee to help get the dry dough down and it usually lasted till lunch time rolled around. All of the scones I’ve tried, the fruit was a reconstituted substance with not much flavor and the dough was dry and chalky. I thought any baked fruit flavored dough must be good – but not these bites. There must be something more to the scone. There had to be because I saw them in almost every breakfast bakery section throughout grocery stores and cafes everywhere. I decided to try my hand at a version of my own. The store bought scone was dry, tasteless and expensive. Not to mention a majority of the ingredients were unknown. I tested several recipes, some with more fat some with more liquid. The following homemade scones recipe is a combination of several recipes found over the interwebs, which has become a “country breakfast” staple at our kitchen table.

Originally known as a “Scottish quick bread” and griddle cooked, the scone became an integrated part of English tea time, served everyday at 4:00pm. Now the scone is more likely to be baked in the oven and typically enjoyed at breakfast or during a very late night snack! The scone can be made sweet or savory; cheese, herb, fruit, vegetables, and even custards… a well made scone is a versatile dough ball of goodness.

Variations
Using the basic dough recipe, you can make several variations of the homemade scones. The following are variations I’ve tried all of which have been successful and tasted great!
* = organic
^ = local

– 2 small carrots, shredded & drained + 1 tsp cinnamon *^
– 1 medium zucchini, shredded & drained + 1 tsp cinnamon *^
– 1 large apple, peeled diced & caramelized in sugar or honey + 1 tsp cinnamon *^
– 1 cup shredded raw cheddar cheese + 1 tsp ground pepper *^
– 1/2 preserved lemon, cleaned & diced + 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries *^

The variations are endless. For this particular recipe we’re going to utilize fresh local organic strawberries that I’ve frozen and preserved meyer lemons. Have fun with your homemade scones recipe, the options are endless!

Homemade Scones
yeild: 6 to 8 scones depending on size
425 (f) degrees for 20 to 25 minutes

Basic Dough
– 2 cups unbromated all purpose flour *
– 1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon chia seeds * (optional ingredient)
– 1 teaspoon flax seeds * (optional ingredient)
– 1 teaspoon vanilla (corn syrup free)
– 1 egg *^
– 6 tablespoons butter * (or any fat of your liking. You can use lard or tallow, both of which I’ve tested and work great!)
– 2/3 cup whole milk *^ (you can also use buttermilk)

Variation – 6 strawberries, diced *^ (frozen or fresh)
– 1/2 a preserved lemon, washed cleaned & diced *^

Step 1: In a food processor, using a dough blade, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, seeds (optional), and salt – quick pulse to get the ingredients combined. Next add the egg, vanilla, and cut butter. Process till the mixture has a crumbled texture… kind of like sand. Remove the dough crumble from the food processor and place in a bowl. Set aside. {NOTE: if you do not have a food processor you can use 2 butter knives or a dough knife to cut in the butter.}
homemade scones

Step 2: Next wash and chop the strawberries and preserved lemons. Since a preserved lemon is stored in salt, you will remove the lemon from the salt, remove the pulp and wash. Once cleaned make a small dice of the preserved lemon. You can also use the zest of one fresh lemon in replace of the preserved lemon. You can use fresh or frozen strawberries. If frozen, make sure that the berry is semi defrosted before chopping. Mix in the chopped fruit to the crumbled dough mixture.
homemade scones

homemade scones

Step 3: Next slowly mix in the milk. You may not use all of the milk. You want the ingredients to come together but the dough must be sticky and thick. Thick enough to form a ball of dough. You don’t want to add all of the milk or the dough will turn into a batter and you’ll have pancakes instead of scones!
homemade scones

Step 4: Now with a large spoon, scoop out 6 to 8 balls of dough onto a cookie sheet; depending on the size of your scoop. They don’t need to be perfect but should generally be the same size to allow for equal cooking time. You can use a sheet of parchment paper or grease the tray. I do neither because there is plenty of fat in the mixture to keep it from sticking. Place in a pre-heated 425 (f) degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check at 20 minutes to make sure the scones are not burnt.
homemade scones

Step 5: Once the cooking time is up, remove the scones from the oven and place on a plate to cool for 5 minutes – the inside will be hot and soft and the outside will be golden brown and crisp. Serve with fresh homemade jam or butter and a hot cup of coffee… enjoy!
homemade scones

Apple Cinnamon Scones
homemade scones

Blueberry Lemon Scones
homemade scones

Carrot Cinnamon Scones
homemade scones

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes

In a big family the first child is kind of like the first pancake. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay, there are a lot more coming along. – Antonin Scalia

Pancakes were a special treat for me as a child; I only enjoyed them during overnight stays at grandma’s house. Sunday morning we’d wake up early and she’d pull out her very old very long griddle and we’d mix up some bisquik pancakes.

It wasn’t until my kiddo was born that I detoured from the typical box mix I remembered from my childhood. I took the time to read the box labels and I had that ‘ah-ha’ moment. I realized… I can make this myself, allowing full control of the ingredients!

I set out, scouring the interwebs to find a solid go to pancake. After testing a few variations, this has become our family’s go-to recipe. You can incorporate any fruit or vegetable… make the basic batter and fold in blueberries, sliced strawberries, apples, shredded carrots, or even zucchini. Yes, zucchini… just think zucchini bread. My three year old who once was the champion eater of our home, eating everything in sight, now only eats specific items; pancakes being one of them. To ensure he’s getting the most out of his pancakes I incorporate zucchini when in season. I hope to find and test a gluten free recipe that is comparable. For now…

Here is your basic pancake recipe with a zucchini variation… zucchini pancakes, enjoy!

zucchini pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes
Makes 12 to 15 zucchini pancakes depending on size
* = organic
^ = local

1.5 cups unbromated all purpose flour *
3 tablespoons cane sugar *
1/2 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chia seeds * (optional)
1 teaspoon flax seeds * (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla *
1/4 cup melted butter *
2 eggs *^
2/3 cup milk *
2 small zucchini, shredded *^

Step 1: In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and seeds). Give a good stir to ensure all ingredients are well incorporated.
zucchini pancakes

Step 2: Slowly incorporate one at a time, the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk. You’ll end up with a thick lumpy batter. Here is my kiddo helping to crack the eggs (2nd egg was not a success).
IMG_3304 v2

Step 3: Wash and trim 2 small zucchinis. Fine shred the zucchinis into a clean kitchen towel. Once shredding is complete, twist towel to drain out the extra liquid from the zucchinis. It is important to do this step otherwise your batter will be runny and the final pancake product will have too much moisture. Fold in till well incorporated but don’t over mix.
zucchini pancakes

Step 4: Prepare your cooking surface accordingly. I have a small griddle, which is a flat non stick skillet cooking surface but you can use a frying pan or cast iron skillet if available – prepare accordingly. Do not to over crowd the cooking surface to ensure the heat is maintained at medium to medium high. Bubbles will form at the surface when the pancake is ready to flip – between 3 and 5 minutes but make sure to check mid way to ensure your pancake doesn’t burn.
zucchini pancakes

Time to enjoy… topped with a little organic grassfed butter, or some fresh maple syrup, or our favorite some homemade jam.
zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes

zucchini pancakes

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

When life hands you lemons, you make Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake!

When I think of meyer lemons I think of my great grandparents and the modest meyer lemon tree in their backyard. My nona would pluck the lemons right off the tree and eat them as is. She’d bite right into them. I can remember the smell was distinct, bright and sweet. We were recently gifted a very large amount of meyer lemons from a family member’s backyard tree. I used the lemons to make candied lemon peels, homemade all purpose cleaner, lemon juice for cooking use, and other miscellaneous treats. The husband’s main request was coffee cake. We found the following recipe online. I made some minor tweaks to adapt to what was already in my pantry vs. heading to the store for extra ingredients. In the end I formulated my own version and have determined this is the best coffee cake I’ve ever tasted, hands down. It’s moist, sweet and tangy, bright, and simply wonderful. You could adapt any fruit to this cake mix but for the sake of late winter, early spring citrus; here is the best Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake you’ll ever try… enjoy!

meyer lemon coffeecake

* = organic
^ = local

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake
350 (f) degrees, 55 minutes

Crumble Top
1 cup all-purpose unbleached unbromated flour *
3/4 cup light brown sugar *
1/2 cup unsalted butter *
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350 (f) degrees. Next grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan and set aside.

Step 2: In a medium bowl combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and cubed butter. Using your hands, a fork, or a pastry cutter; work the butter into the dry ingredients until you form a medium sandy like texture of a mixture. Cover and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to top the cake.
meyer lemon coffeecake

meyer lemon coffeecake

The Cake
2 cups all-purpose unbleached unbromated flour *
1 teaspoon baking soda (aluminum free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cane sugar * (I prefer cane sugar but you can use any granulated sugar)
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal * (optional)
1 cup homemade yogurt *^ (You can use any store bought brand)
1/2 cup butter *
2 eggs *^
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extra *
5 Meyer Lemons, sliced thin
1/2 cup cane sugar * (this measurement is for the lemons only)

Step 3: Slice the meyer lemons as thin as possible. NOTE: You can use a sharp knife or a mandolin. I prefer a sharp knife because the mandolin slices too thin and the lemons fall apart in the cooking process.
meyer lemon coffeecake

Step 4: Place your sliced meyer lemons and sugar in a large sauce pan and cover with water. Place over a medium high heat and simmer for 15 minutes. This process helps to remove the bitter taste from the rind. Don’t let the mixture boil or your lemon slices will disolve.

Step 5: After simmering, remove the meyer lemon slices from the heat and drain. Place the slices on a cooling rack and set aside while you combine the cake ingredients.
meyer lemon coffeecake

Step 6: In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, flaxseed (optional), kosher salt, and set aside. In a stand mixer cream together, butter, sugar, eggs (one at a time), yogurt, and vanilla till all ingredients are creamy and smooth. Now on low speed, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients till everything has been well mixed. Make sure to stop the mixer half way through mixing and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are well mixed. You’ll have a thick cake batter consistency.
IMG_2943 v2

Step 7: Now divide the cake batter in half and spread it out on the bottom of the greased and floured 9 inch cake pan. Layer on half of the meyer lemon slices. Spread out the remaining cake batter, taking care not to move or spread the first layer. Spread out the remaining meyer lemon slices.
meyer lemon coffeecake

Step 8: Remove the brown sugar crumble from the refrigerator and spread out over the top of the meyer lemon slices to ensure all of the cake is covered. Use all of the topping because it will create a beautiful sweet crunchy crust and will keep in the moisture of the lemons. Place in a preheated 350 (f) degree oven for 55 minutes.
meyer lemon coffeecake

Step 9: Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Run a butter knife along the edges and with a small metal spatula, place under the cake and lift onto a storage plate. The cake will rest well covered on the counter for a week… if it lasts that long! Cut a slice and enjoy with your favorite cup of coffee or tea!
meyer lemon coffeecake

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake… enjoy!
meyer lemon coffeecake