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Posts tagged ‘organic recipes’

Too Hot to Cook Challenge: Day 2

Tomorrow is CSA day, which means today I’m lucky if I have anything left from it. 😉

Note to self: If your box is 2/3 fruit, 2/3 of your box will be gone on day one.

What I do have left is some jalapenos. And a few peaches. Oh, and like 2 cloves of garlic.

Here’s the plan:

Spiced hummus, w/peaches and cream smoothies to tame the spice.

Here’s the approach:

Make your hummus. If you have never made it before, you will be amazed by how easy it is. 🙂 Here is your basic hummus recipe:

One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans

1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh preferred

1/4 cup tahini

Half of a large garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving (I use Bari)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 to 3 tablespoons waterDash of ground paprika for serving

Combine all ingredients, minus the paprika, in a blender or food processor. Process until creamy and smooth. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of paprika.

For my *spiced* hummus, add to the basic recipe, before :

1 jalapeno, stem and membrane removed

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Puree until smooth.

Serve with pita, pita chips and/or veggies. And breathmints.

Hummus makes everything ok.

Hummus makes everything ok.

 

Now, for the smoothies.

In a blender (that has been washed really well and doesn’t smell like hummus), toss in:

4 peaches that have been pitted, halved and frozen. Peel if desired, before freezing, preferrably.

1 cup vanilla greek yogurt

Dash of vanilla

Dash of cinnamon

Puree until creamy. Thin as needed with a milk of your choosing. I thin mine with vanilla flavored kefir. 🙂

Serves two large smoothies or four half sized ones. 🙂

These would be SO good frozen in popsicle molds for the kids this summer!

Quick, easy, fresh and packed with protein…all without the heat of the oven. Sounds great to me!

 

 

 

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Spicy Sausage, Potato and Kale Chowder

What’s not to love about a recipe title like that?!

Not only was it delicious, but it came together fast, was full of healthy, organic ingredients and was a perfect fit for what is sure to be one of the few crisp evenings we have left this season. Another bonus? I had four of the required ingredients at my fingertips from my CSA box. 😀

Earlier this week I was given a 50 pound box of potatoes. When I saw the recipe that inspired this variation, the potatoes are what sold me. I made a double batch so that I could freeze some for another day. By another day, I mean a day when it’s so stinking terribly hot that I don’t feel like cooking. Those days aren’t far off.

SUPER easy. For ONE batch, use the following recipe. As I said, I doubled it.

Here goes:

1 pound bulk spicy italian sausage (I found it at Sprouts.)

3 cups cubed potatoes

1 white or yellow onion

2 cups chicken stock

3 cups organic half & half

3 cups kale, ( I used curly), torn into bite size pieces

1/2 tsp fresh oregano

pinch of salt to taste

pinch of crushed red pepper

basil for garnishing (and amazing flavor)

Assembly:

Brown the sausage, drain any fat/grease.

Add onion, cooking until just translucent.

Add potatoes, tossing all ingredients until coated and incorporated.

Add chicken stock, bring to a low boil, then drop to a simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

Add half & half, kale, oregano.

Simmer for 10-15  minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with a garnish of basil on top.

soup

Considering the free ‘tatoes, the awesome CSA bargains and the Sprouts meat sale, and the fact that our local Grocery Outlet market had organic half & half AND organic, free range chicken stock SUPER cheap, I was able to do a DOUBLE batch of this soup for less than $6.00. That’s all kinds of amazing.

Give it a try!

 

Yogurt the Wise…

Yogurt the all powerful…

Yogurt the magnificent…

Have I lost you yet?

If you missed this “Spaceballs” reference, you’re either much younger than I am  or have much better cinematic taste.

“Please, please, don’t make a fuss. I’m just plain Yogurt.”

Ok, I’m done. It’s out of my system. Maybe.

Just plain yogurt. Not my favorite way to enjoy cultured dairy. I love my cultured dairy products, this is for sure, but I definitely need some flavor added into my yogurt in order to enjoy it.

Did you know that you can make a half gallon of organic yogurt for five dollars or less? Let me show you how to do that first, then I’m going to give you some ideas for flavoring your yummy creation.

Here is what you will need:

1/2 gallon organic FULL FAT milk. I LOVE Straus Farms for yogurt. So creamy and delicious.

1 cup of plain organic yogurt, either store-bought (if this is your first batch) or a cup reserved from your previous batch.

A crock pot.

The end.

yogurt 1

The steps could not be easier:

Start this in the early afternoon so that the final step is done at an appropriate time.

1.) pour milk into crock pot

2.) set crock pot to LOW, put lid on, set the timer for 2.5 hours and walk away.

yogurt 2

3.) make sure you set the timer, because believe me, you will forget.

4.) when timer goes off, come back to crock pot, unplug it, set timer for 3 hours and walk away.

5.) repeat step 3.

6.) when timer goes off, come back to crock pot, add yogurt to warm milk, whisk gently, put lid back on, and put a large folded towel over the top of the crock to insulate. Leave overnight on the counter, unplugged.

In the morning, you will have an entire crock of organic yogurt! I love that it is full fat as well, which is really hard to find in large quantities. Especially this cheap. 😉

Put the yogurt in a glass container (The Straus bottle works really well) and pop it in the fridge. The process is NOT complete until the yogurt has dropped to fridge temp.

So now that you have your amazing and all-powerful yogurt, what do you do with it? The possibilities are endless. (ok, maybe not ENDLESS.) Just make sure you flavor your yogurt in small batches so that you still have plenty of plain to use for your semi-endless possibilities. You also need to set aside a cup for your next batch.

Here are a few ideas for you, inspired by the amazing produce in my CSA box. 🙂

1.) Fruity yogurt: Blend whatever fruit you love…berries, stone fruit, etc…and fold into your yogurt. Do not blend them together as homemade yogurt tends to get runny when mixed too much. 🙂 A bit of honey mixed with your fruit may be needed depending on how sweet you like your yogurt.

This week, I used white flesh peaches from my box, blended them with a bit of cinnamon and honey and folded it into my yogurt. So  yummy.

2.) Tzatziki (Greek yogurt/cucumber/mint sauce):

Take one cucumber, peel, seed, and grate. Set in a strainer over a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and let it drain for about 20 minutes.

Prepare two cups of plain yogurt. If you want a thicker sauce, Strain your yogurt in a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth or a tea towel, set on a bowl,  for several hours. Save the whey (the yellow liquid that drains into the bowl) for later and use the resulting greek yogurt for this recipe. 🙂

Mince 2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on your preferences.

Chop up some fresh mint…about 1/4 cup.

Blend all ingredients together, seasoning with sea salt at the end.

SO yummy over burger patties or grilled chicken!

3.) Use the yogurt to make anything that normally calls for buttermilk: Pancakes, waffles, cakes, breads. You get the idea. Top with pears, peaches, plums or any other in-season fruit you have access to.

The pears in my box this week would be awesome stewed down in a bit of water, butter, and cinnamon until tender, then poured over something starchy and amazing that I totally can’t eat.

4.) Smoothies! My go-to food. I guess you know that by now. Puree that yogurt up with whatever amazing stuff you’ve got and drink up. Don’t forget veggies too. There are so many veggies that “hide” well in smoothies.

Give it a go, guys. It’s too easy not to! Save money, eat well, and maybe try something new.

May the Schwartz be with you. (Hey, I said “maybe”.)

Sack Lunch

It’s that time of year again. Gettin’ up early, catching the bus, homework and field trips… Time for school!

Well, for some.

We homeschool, so I guess it doesn’t apply to us, but this post still does.

Even if you love your child’s school, chances are, their cafeteria options could use some work. School lunches are often full of processed foods, nasty GMO’s, empty calories, and lack variety. We public-schooled one year and most definitely went the route of the sack lunch. I realize that sounds a little snooty, but hear me out:

It is not the fault of the school, or the “Lunch Lady”. It’s the lack of proper funding. There is no priority given to the nutrition of our children! As long as they represent the “food pyramid” (which I honestly think is utter and complete crap) they are good to go. Don’t get me wrong…school lunches have come a LONG way from when I was in school. No more green hot dogs and fruit fly-laden fruit cocktail in heavy syrup. I’m glad they have made progress, but it doesn’t change the fact that our children are fed meat of horrible quality, pesticide coated produce, and for the kids receiving breakfast at school, LOADS of sugar to start their day. Maybe your school has a superb lunch, and I’m glad if that’s the case, but I assure you, not every school has it so good. Remember the “pink slime” controversy that restaurants and grocery stores faced? Guess who bought all that product once McDonalds and your neighborhood grocer vowed not to? Prisons and SCHOOL DISTRICTS.  Granted, not all school districts purchased it, but the headline should have really read, “ALL SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‘JUST SAY NO’ TO PINK SLIME.” Someone get Jamie Oliver on the phone!

As I said, maybe your district has a great food program. Again, I hope it does. You need to know, however, that there are many, many kids in this country eating utter and complete garbage at school. We cannot look at what they are eating and wonder why so many of our kids are diabetic, have high blood pressure, etc.

I looked up a menu from a local school district. Here is an actual example of the menu:

BREAKFAST:

Chocolate chip muffin top (sugar, flour, chocolate…um, hellooooo sugar crash!)

banana (yes, its a fruit, however, its also a HUGE dose of sugar as well)

1% white milk (Pasteurized, homogonized milk which isn’t even full fat. Yes, I know you’ve been told that full fat milk is bad. Read more on that HERE. Also, dairy turns into sugar as it digests.)

The result? Kids who are completely crashing by the time math comes around.

LUNCH:

Toasted cheese sandwich (very likely processed cheese)

Carrotteenies (What the hell?)

Spiced Apples (Because a fresh apple left alone just won’t do!)

Happy Birthday Cupcake (….*blink*…*blink*…)

Let’s take inventory of sugar here: bread, check. carrots, yep. spiced apples? Possibly. CUPCAKE!?  There is no amount of cheese that can balance out the sugar reaction these kids are facing. It frustrates me terribly.

Even though my children eat lunch at home these days, my  husband obviously doesn’t. If left to his own devices, his lunch would surely be full of processed foods, empty calories and would most certainly lack variety. Add in our dietary restrictions, and I’m sure he’d break every guideline I have set for him.

So, I pack his lunch.

Typically, when I order my CSA box, I make sure there are a couple of items that can be eaten on the go. Seasonal fruit, grape/or cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. Today, his lunch looked a little something like this:

sack lunch

Two chicken salad sandwiches made with mustard, a bit of full fat sour cream, (conventional mayo has all kinds of nasty garbage in it, so I opted for the sour cream instead of making my own mayo), mustard,  and diced jalapenos from my box – served on toasted gluten free flax bread. Two organic nectarines and an armenian cucumber, sliced, drizzled in lemon juice, and sprinkled with “real salt”. CSA items put to use? Nectarines, cukes, jalapenos! Not bad! I always keep him stocked up on things like nuts and seeds too, so he has other snacking options while he is working.

If I didn’t pack his lunch, I guarantee it would look more like a gas station corn dog.

When ordering your box, think ahead…how can you use it to supply your family with healthy lunches on the go? How can you preserve the items you receive to benefit you later? Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Sack lunch doesn’t have to be a sandwich, piece of fruit and carton or milk. It could be soup in a thermos, little bits of chicken, fruits and veggies in a bento box, or even a salad in a jar! Check these out from http://www.eatingbirdfood.com!

salad-in-a-jar1

While I usually encourage you to love and nourish YOUR cake, please don’t forget to love and nourish the folks around you too. I realize that cost comes in to play for many people, and if anyone is sensitive to that, its ME. Trust me. When my kids were in school, they qualified for free lunch, and that doesn’t happen without reason. I was determined, however, to find a way to feed them quality food without breaking the bank. It IS possible, It’s not easy, but it can be done. You’d be surprised how much you can provide your family with when you cut out the pre-packaged foods marketed as “lunch box” food. Ditch the cheetoes, lunchables, capri-sun and pre-cut “apple dippers” and opt for taking a little more time to prep. You’ll spend LOADS less, and your children’s bodies will thank you.

Your corndog-less husband just might too.

Preserving the Harvest (Part 2)

I always thought I hated tomatoes. Unless they were presented as pasta or pizza sauce (and occasionally ketchup) I avoided them like the plague.

Then one day, after touring her garden, my friend Libby offered me a slice of a brandywine tomato. My first words? “It tastes like SOUP.”

I’m not sure what that means, but what I was trying to communicate was the complexity of the flavor. It tasted like something I had never had in my life…it tasted like a real tomato. I think that was the first time I really realized the difference in quality, organic food. I had eaten organics off and on for over a decade at that point, but that tomato was really eye-opening for me. I mean, come on. You cannot tell me your grocery store tomato looks like THIS:

tomatomg

tomatOMG

My CSA is offering five different types of tomatoes this week. It is not uncommon for me to have 2-3 different varieties in my fridge at once. Matter of fact, right now I have four. Heirloom, roma, red grape, and red cherry. Although I have plenty of tomatoes, it will not stop me from ordering more this week. Why? Because I want delicious, fresh tasting salsa for months to come. In fact, our CSA is offering  20 pounds of organic “cosmetically challenged” red tomatoes for $30 right now, which means that next week, it’s ON. I will be out of town this weekend, so hopefully they will still have 20 pounds available next week when I can devote more time to stocking my freezer and pantry with my favorite thing in the world.

Fresh salsa.

Easy, fast, tasty, and super nutritious, it’s the perfect condiment. I love the stuff!! It is the perfect way to add more veggies (and technically fruit) to your diet without much effort.

I am going to make a small batch today to add to my ever-growing stash in the freezer. Here is what I am starting with:

salsa1

 

A ton of roma tomatoes, some white onion, serrano chilies, “cherry bomb” peppers, lemon juice, sea salt, and about 20 minutes of my time. When I thaw the salsa for use, I will add fresh cilantro to freshen it up a bit. 🙂

For each batch, I use 1/4 of a white or yellow onion, 6-8 roma tomatoes, 2 serrano chilies, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkling of sea salt. You really can’t go wrong with measurements on salsa, guys. If you like more onion, add it. If you don’t like spicy, omit the peppers. You get the idea. I toss it all the food processor, pulse until all is combined and uniform in texture, and pack into freezer bags for later.

salsa2

 

I will do most of it with serranos (my fave) but plan to do a batch or two with the cherry bomb’s. Gotta see what all the fuss is about. 😀

My favorite uses for salsa?

2 TBSP (or more) mixed in with my scrambled eggs.

A heaping spoon-full over the top of shredded beef or pork that has been stewed all day…or crock potted. YUM.

Right out of the bowl with “Food should taste good” brand chips. OMG!

Or maybe my go-to quick lunch: A can of organic white meat chicken (the kind that looks like it’s in a tuna can) mixed with about a half cup of salsa, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of “real salt”.  Straight out of the bowl or with whole grain chips. My favorite meal these days. 🙂 Quick, easy, and full of protein and veggies (and yes, fruit.) Here are a few of the reasons you should be eating the wondrous tomato:

number103ok

Now is the time to capture the deliciousness of the tomato. You will thank yourself for the effort made when you are enjoying chips and fresh salsa in December!

 

 

 

Chicken Fiesta Salad Wraps

Want to make the easiest meal ever out of the abundant peppers, onions, tomatoes and lettuce this time of year?

(Ok, and a few out of season items too!)

Here’s one for ya:

Chicken Fiesta Salad!

Take some leftover cooked chicken. Or cook a few chicken breast. Or pick up a rotisserie chicken…you get the idea. I like to use 2 chicken breasts to make enough to serve 2-3 people. Multiply this recipe as needed for your home. 🙂

Add 2-3 ripe, delicious tomatoes, finely chopped. ( I food process all the veggies together.)

Mix with 2 minced serrano or jalapeno chilies. I have serranos from my CSA, Which is great because they are my fave. 🙂

How much do I love the hand-written tag btw?

How much do I love the hand-written tag btw?

Toss in 1/2 of one minced onion. I like white or yellow.

Throw in a handful of cilantro, chopped.

Squeeze 1/2 of a lemon over the top.

Drizzle with olive oil, about 2 tbsp.

Sprinkle with a good quality sea salt.

Stir to combine.

Serve cold  with corn chips, if dietary restrictions permit. I can’t eat  much corn, so I roll these up in big leaves of lettuce that have been comin’ in my box lately. 🙂

Other serving ideas: Serve warm, as taco filling. Serve cold or warm as a salad topping. Mix with avocado and eat it with a fork. My personal fave? Serve it with margaritas. Yep.

It is good no matter how you eat it. 🙂

Staying Hydrated…With FLAIR

because that’s how I do things. Last week, you may remember me mentioning that I ordered primarily herbs in my CSA box. I put them to use in some pretty amazing ways.

Lemon balm pesto, purple basil pesto (OMG THE BEST EVER. I am working on a pizza recipe post) and I managed to stick some in a few delicious beverages. So grateful for such an amazing source of organic produce!

I know I already told you about mint tea, so here are a couple ideas for making infused waters. Haven’t tried infused waters yet? Take a look here. Mind you, this is only a guideline, but the idea is:

infusedwaters

Pick a berry (or other sweet fruit), pick a citrus, add an herb and/or something “extra” such as cucumbers (not in my cup!)  and add your favorite water. Not only are you drinking your H2O, but you are managing to get some extra vitamins and antioxidants into your system as well. Here are two that I came up with after being inspired by the lovely stuff in my box. Lemon and Lavender Water:

lemonlavendar

One sliced lemon and 2 TBSP of lavender buds (about 6 sprigs of lavender for me), added to about 2 cups of hot water, steeped for 20 minutes, then filled with water and refrigerated until cold. I really loved the subtle sweetness of this. My husband said “It tastes like bath water…in a good way.” I’m not sure what that means, but it was too funny to keep to myself. I am sure it threw him off because I use so many lavender products. It has a very nice herbal and slightly floral thing going for it. Refreshing and elegant, I thought. Strawberries would have be delightful in this, I’m sure.

Purple basil, blueberry, lemon:

basilblueberrylemon

In a half gallon container, I added 1/2 of a sliced lemon, 1/2 cup blueberries and a handful of purple basil leaves. I then added about 2 cups of hot water, and let everything steep for about 20 minutes. I then filled it with cold water and capped it up for the fridge.

This has been my favorite so far! It was bold and different in every good way possible. I love, love loved this one. I was inspired by a cocktail my brother made for me once. Fresh squeezed lemonaid, muddled blueberries and a sprig of basil…oh, and vodka. Definitely a more exciting way to enjoy these flavors, but certainly not as health conscious as my concoction. 🙂

Italian or Thai basil would be just as delicious I am sure!

I’m working on a few other combinations and will pass them on if they pass inspection. 😉

In the meantime, try out some fun combinations of your own. You deserve water as fabulous as you are. 🙂

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