March 11, 2009

Dinner Rolls I

I will be posting many dinner roll recipes. The variety in dinner
roll recipes ingredients and preparation steps seem endless!

1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup spelt flour
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Place milk and butter in a small sauce pan. Warm on low temperature just until butter is melted. Place milk and butter mixture into mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs, flours, yeast and salt. If you are using a mixer knead the dough for 8-10 minutes on lowest setting using a dough hook. Knead the dough 12 minutes if you are kneading by hand. Roll dough into 2-3 inch balls. Place in a baking pan or pie tin. Cover the rolls and let them rise (in a warm and draft-free place) until the they double in size (about 1 1/2 hours). Bake at 375 degrees for 13 - 15 minutes. Brush them with butter and cover them with a towel for 5 minutes. Enjoy!
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Black Bean Soup

2 cups dry black beans (or 2 cans of black beans)
2 tablespoons of oil or butter
2 carrots
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk of celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper
4 cups organic beef or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Cook dried black beans according to the package. (I typically just place 2 cups of dried black beans into a large cooking pot and cover with 6 cups of water. I then bring the water to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours. I then turn off the heat and let the beans sit most of the day until I am ready to use in the soup for dinner) Saute the carrots, garlic, celery and onion in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chili pepper, broth and cooked beans. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low temperature for 30 minutes. Let the soup cool slightly and then place in a blender and blend (leave open a hole for ventilation if the soup is still hot, but cover the hole when you first turn the blender on or you'll be eating off the floor ;). If you like a chunkier black bean soup then only blend 1/2 of the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped onions, shredded cheese and sour cream if you desire. Enjoy!
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March 9, 2009


1 pound fettuccine noodles (or any other form of noodles)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream (or 1/2-n-1/2, 2% milk or I have even used unsweetened soy milk)
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Bake pasta as instructed on the package. In a small saucepan melt butter and heavy cream together. Add the Parmesan cheese and heat for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Pour sauce over noodles. Add any vegetables you want. Enjoy!
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Cream of Carrot Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 large potato peeled/chopped
6 large carrots peeled/chopped
29 ounces organic chicken broth
1 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 stalk celery chopped
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup milk

Saute onions in butter. Add carrots and potatoes and cook 2 minutes. Add everything else except the milk. Cover and simmer 30-45 minutes. Blend in a blender until smooth. Add milk and heat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
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Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

In a large bowl, stir together the peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda and chocolate chips. Roll dough about 1 heaping tablespoon at a time, into balls. Lightly crisscross the top of the cookies with a fork. Bake @ 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet; transfer to racks to cool completely. Enjoy!
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The Good Stuff

From my wonderful "lifesaver" friend, Elisabeth. This chocolaty, divine dessert has a crunchy brownie outside and a gooey, fudge center! (And so simple to prepare I have been known to make it a couple nights in a row!)

1 stick of butter
2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup flour

Melt butter with cocoa in small saucepan over the stove. Stir well. Mix sugar and eggs. Add melted butter/cocoa mixture, vanilla and flour. Pour into 4 custard cups ( or a greased loaf/bread pan). Put in a 9 X 13 inch pan. Pour enough water into the 9 X 13 inch pan to cover the bottom of the custard cups or bread pan 1 inch up the sides. (You are making a water bath for the custard cups or bread pan)Bake @350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from water bath. We enjoy the dessert warm right out of the oven. Enjoy!
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March 8, 2009

Baking and Cooking With Various Flours

I love mixing up different flours into various recipes. We tend to eat a lot of wheat in America and it is a nice change for both our bodies and for our taste buds to mix things up on a daily basis.

Here are the flours I always keep on stock in our pantry and use weekly:

Whole Wheat flour:
You can buy either hard red winter wheat berry flour or hard white winter wheat berry flour. Hard winter wheat (either red or white) contain high amounts of the protein gluten. This makes it suitable for making wonderful whole wheat yeast breads. I tend to buy the hard red wheat flour for using in my breads. I think it has a bit hardier texture then hard white wheat flour, but either work great for me!

Whole Wheat Pastry flour: This flour is ground from a soft spring wheat. This type of wheat grain has less gluten (then a hard red or white wheat grain), making it better for whole grain cakes, muffins, quick breads (unyeasted breads) and cookies. When a recipe calls for all-purpose flour (white flour) I almost always replace 1/2 or all of the white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. It gives the recipe such a richer taste that your taste buds will not want you to go back to using all white flour!

Spelt Flour: Wonderful alternative to wheat flour. Spelt has gluten, but a different form of gluten protein then wheat. Some folks who can't handle wheat flour can sometimes do fine with spelt flour because it is easier to digest. I wasn't going to make this long, but spelt is an ancient grain and has an interesting history so I am going to ramble for a bit. (I am using two resources to help me explain spelt, "Whole Food Facts" and "Feeding the Whole Family") For hundreds of years, the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, as well as unplanders of central and southern Europe, grew and ate spelt. It is mentioned in the Bible (Ezekiel 4:9 and Exodus 9:31, 31). St Hildegard of Bingen of the twelfth century, credited with curring the sick, was spurred by a vision that instructed her to feed spelt to the people. Some people refer to spelt as German wheat; the Germans call it Dinkel and the French call it epeautre. As other varieties of wheat became popular, this hearty, coarse grain fell out of use and by 1900 was relatively rare.

I often replace part of whole wheat flour in recipes with whole grain spelt flour. It works great and gives our bodies a nice change and a different combination of nutrients.

Barley Flour: Barley flour is another great flour. It is a low gluten flour so I will often only replace 1/4 - 1/2 cup of wheat flour with barley flour in recipes (cookies, breads, muffins, pancakes ect..). Barley flour can be added to breads to produce a cake like product with a delightful sweetness. My experience has been that if I replace too much of the wheat flour in a recipe with barley flour I end up with a more crumbly product. So I add it in small amounts. As far as I am concerned ever little bit of variety makes a difference to our systems!

Corn Flour: What a great hearty flavor corn flour or cornmeal can give a bread or muffin. Of course there is corn bread! Corn is another flour (or in the meal form) I like to add in small amounts to add variety to our diet.

6, 8 or 10 Grain flour mixes: I love, love, love keeping these on hand. Usually they include a mix of soy flour, millet flour, brown rice flour, corn flour, kamut flour, barley flour, buckwheat flour, spelt flour, rye flour and wheat flour. What a wonderful and easy way to kick up your muffin or bread recipes. I highly recommend replacing 1/2 cup of your wheat flour with a 6, 8 or 10 grain flour mix in your next bread or muffin recipe! I am never disappointed when I do.

Brown Rice Flour: Rice flour is a gluten-free flour. If using it on its own you'll need additional ingredients to help it rise and bind within a recipe. I often just replace a 1/4 cup of wheat flour in a recipe with brown rice flour. This is my all time favorite flour to use when I am cooking gluten-free.

Oat Flour: Oat flour is a low gluten flour. The gluten in oat flour is different then in wheat flour. I have read that 4 out of 5 people on a celiac diet can tolerate oat gluten. Oat flour tends to cook up very heavy and dry. I only add it in small amounts to my baked goods. Like the brown rice flour I will replace 1/4 cup of wheat flour with oat flour in a recipe. It adds a nice settle change and our bodies welcome the change.

Xanthan Gum: I prefer using Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum. Xanthan gum is considered a polysaccaride derived from the bacterial coat of xanthomonas campestris.. It is made from a microorganism. It is wonderful for "replacing" gluten in a gluten-free grain/flour. It helps bind ingredients together. It is expensive, but it will last a very long time since you use just a little bit at a time.

Flours I don't use very often but you can still find in my pantry (only in smaller containers):
There are so many wonderful flours to "experiment" with. There is quinoa flour, millet flour, teff flour, soy flour, kamut flour and even garbanzo bean flour. You can find these in bulk at a health food store or packaged in small bags in the health food section of a grocery store (typically Bob's Red Mill brand). These flours are great, although realistically they can be a pain to work with. They lack the protein gluten. How I use these flours is I love to add them a tablespoon or two at a time to all different baked goods. Before I know it I have used up a pound of millet (or any other not so normal flour) within a month!

When working with only gluten free flours in a recipe additional ingredients are often necessary and it is nice to keep them on hand in small amounts. These additional ingredients may include: tapioca flour (from the ground starch of the cassava root used to help stick the dough/batter together), xanthan gum (definition provided above), potato flour, potato starch or arrowroot powder (made from the dired and ground rootstalks of the arrowroot plant and used as a thickener). All of these you can find in a health food store or often in the nutritional section of your local grocery store.

There are many wonderful recipes available for gluten alternatives and many amazing websites and blogs that share how to bake with gluten-free flours. (Not to mention endless books) The recipes you will see posted on my blog will be simpler and often without needing the "additional" ingredients I just listed above. Although, when I find a jewel of a recipe that uses all these nontraditional ingredients I will not hesitate to post it! I encourage the use of gluten-free flour for a variety in our diets even if we aren't allergic to gluten.

Granola II

If you like big chunks this granola is a great one.

2 cups extra thick rolled oats
1 cup rolled barley, spelt or quinoa
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like chopping them extra fine were 1/2 turn into a flour consistancy)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup dried milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rasins

In a large bowl combine rolled grains, nuts, coconut, flour, cinnamon and salt. In a small saucepan warm the oil, honey and brown sugar until brown sugar is mostly dissolved (low heat about 3 minutes). Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and blend well. Lay out on a cookie sheet with edges. Bake for 25 minutes @ 325 degrees stirring every 10 minutes. (Don't over cook) After 25 minutes remove from oven and add raisins (or any other dried fruit you like in your granola) and let sit. The granola will begin to harden after sitting. Make sure you stir after 5 minutes of sitting or it begins to stick to your pan (not fun). Enjoy!
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March 7, 2009

Baking and Cooking With Various Fats

Fats and oils can be complicated. I am going to keep it simple. Here are four oils we use in our kitchen and why we use them. (Oh and why we steer clear of Canola Oil)

Organic Virgin Coconut Oil: The more I read and research about coconut oil the more I am replacing the use of general oils (like safflower oil) in our kitchen with coconut oil. Here is what The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook had to say: Virgin coconut oil contains the medium-chain triglyceride, lauric acid. Interestingly, lauric acid is the main fat found in human milk. This fat helps to destroy unwanted pathogens in the digestive tract, while promoting the growth of friendly flora. Lauric acid is readily sent to the liver to be burned for energy rather then being stored as fat in the body. Virgin coconut oil is also a rich source of disease-preventing polyphenols. This fat remains relatively stable at higher temperatures and can be used for most of your cooking needs!

Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: We use olive oil strictly for salad dressings or for a dipping sauce. Olive oil does not stand up to high heat for an extended period of time. Instead of risking creating free radicals we just avoid baking or cooking with Olive Oil all together. When buying Olive Oil we purchase extra virgin olive oil (organic if I can get a good deal). Another nice salad dressing or dipping sauce oil would be Sesame Oil.

Here is a nice definition out of Evelyn Roehl's book titled, "Whole Food Facts": " ... the fruits (tree-ripened olives) are crushed and the liquid is extracted. The oil that is skimmed off after the pulp settles is called virgin olive oil; it is one of the few true cold-pressed oils. Virgin olive oils are available in four different grades. In descending order of quality, they are extra, fine, unnamed grade (the most common grade sold in the US) and Lampante."

One important note: Watch out for olive oil that is only labeled "pure" olive oil. (One of the most sold form of olive oils in the US) It is extracted from pulp residues and ground up pits by solvent method (bathed in a solution of hexane or other petroleum solvent and then heated, I know gross) and is further refined by bleaching or deodorizing.

Organic Unrefined Safflower Oil: Safflower is a good all-purpose oil. It can stand up to high heat (even suitable for frying). Safflower oil has one of the lowest saturation levels of all commercial vegetable oils (this is good). It is extracted from the seeds of safflower, a plant in the thistle family. Look for unrefined safflower oil (organic if possible). Other good all-purpose oils would include: Unrefined Peanut Oil or Unrefined Sunflower Oil. We typically stick with safflower.

Butter: I can't lie. We love real cows milk made butter. Sometimes nothing cooks the same as good old fashion milk churned butter. I use butter in moderation for baking and some cooking. Do I even need to explain butter?! Yes, high in saturated fat so we use it were most needed (like plain white flour, white sugar chocolate chip cookies!) (Also, butter falls into the "Whole Food" category!)

Why we DO NOT use Canola Oil: Canola oil is Rapeseed oil. Again, I am going to quote out of the book "Whole Food Facts": "Rapeseeds contain two antinutritional factors. One is a fatty acid called erucic acid; the other is glucosinolate. Erucic acid oxidizes at a slower rate then other fatty acids, which can cause undesirable accumulations of triglycerides. Glucosinolate has been known to promote goiter, the enlargement of the thyroid gland."

Ok so not all "Whole Foods" should be consumed just because they fall into the "Whole Food" category. As we see with Rapeseed certain "Whole Foods" can also provide us with poor nutritional benefits.

March 6, 2009

Banana Bread I

1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 mashed bananas (about one cup)
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a small mixing bowl and set aside. Mix brown sugar, mashed bananas, melted butter, milk and eggs until well blended. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until blended. Place in a bread pan and bake for 40 - 50 minutes @ 350 degrees. Enjoy!
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March 5, 2009

Beef and Barley Stew

1 pound organic ground beef, browned
3 cups organic beef broth
3 cups water
14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano
3 cups sliced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup diced onions
1 cup barley (for gluten-free you'll want to use brown rice)

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for about 1 hour. (You could also put it in a crockpot for 5-7 hours on low.) Enjoy!
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Granola I

1 cup rolled barley
1 cup rolled spelt
2 cups extra thick rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons safflower oil
3/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins or dried fruit (optional)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside. In a small sauce pan heat oil and honey until well blended. Add vanilla and salt. Pour over dry ingredients and mix. Spread onto a large baking sheet with edges. Bake 25 minutes stirring every 10 minutes. After you take out the granola add the raisins/dried fruit (while granola is still warm) and let sit. The granola will harden as it sits. Make sure you stir it after 5 minutes of cooling down (otherwise it can really stick to your cookie sheet). Enjoy!
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Hearty Cabbage Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cups shredded cabbage
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into medium cubes
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon dried dill
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon milk

Heat butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery and cabbage; season well. Partly cover and cook 10 minutes over low heat. Add potatoes, chicken stock and dill; and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and bring to boil and continue cooking, partly covered, 20 minutes over low heat. Mix floer with sour cream and milk in a small bowl. Add to soup stock. Mix well, heat and serve. Enjoy!
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Oatmeal Cookie

1 cup honey
3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups extra thick rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins or dates (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat honey, butter and vanilla until smooth. Add egg; mix until well blended. Add combined flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, nuts and raisins; mix well. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 9 - 11 minutes. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack. Enjoy!

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Black Bean Burrito Casserole

8 small flour or corn tortillas (to keep it wheat-free and gluten-free)
2 cups refried beans
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 red onion chopped
2 cups black beans
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup monetary jack cheese
1 cup enchilada sauce (wheat-free or gluten-free one)
1 1/2 cup salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the onion in the oil. Cut 5 of the tortillas into strips, about 1/2 inch in width and set aside. Line the bottom of a 9 by 13 casserole dish with the remaining tortillas. Spread 1/2 of the refried beans on top of the tortillas. Sprinkle with 1/2 the onions, black beans and cheese over the refried beans. Mix the salsa and enchilada sauce together. Pour half of the salsa/enchilada over the cheese. Top with tortilla strips. Spread the remaining refried beans, black beans and onions over the tortilla strips. Pour remaining salsa/enchilada sauce on top. Top with remaining cheese. (Or layer as please :)) Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Let sit. Enjoy!
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Apples with honey sauce

2 apples
1 cup halved grapes (optional)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate one hour. Enjoy!
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Beef Stew with Onion and Sweet Potato

1 pound organic beef stew meat (1 inch chunks)
14.5 ounces organic beef broth
2 sweet potatoes peeled, cut into 2 inch chunks (I often add a baker potato too if I have one on hand)
1 large onion, chopped (1 inch chunks)
2 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Combine all ingredients except cornstarch. Cover and cook 7 hours on low or 5 hours on high in a crockpot (or 1-2 hours simmering on stovetop). With slotted spoon transfer beef and vegetables to separate bowl. Combine cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Mix and add to juices. Cover and cook 15 minutes, spoon sauce over beef and vegetables. (I often cook this stew in 28 ounces of organic beef broth because I like it more "soupy") Enjoy!
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Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

In mixing bowl beat butter, peanut butter and sugar (brown sugar and honey) on medium high speed for about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and beat for 1 more minute. Shape into balls (about 1 inch) and flatten by crisscrossing with the tines of a fork. Bake for 8 minutes @375 degrees. Enjoy!
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Baked Ziti

1 pound ziti noodles (whole wheat to stay with the whole food concept)
3 cups spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons milk (unsweetened soy milk works great)

Cook ziti noodles for 7 minutes. Place 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of casserole dish top with 1/2 of the partly cooked noodles, sour cream, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 3/4 cup sauce. Then add the rest of the noodles, sauce and mozzarella cheese. Drizzle the milk over the top. Bake covered for 20 minutes @350 degrees. Then uncover and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
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The focus of our meals:

The focus of our meals are: simple, down home, back to basics, nutritionally dense foods. My goal in most of the recipes I post (some of the recipes I will post have only a pure indulgence factor) is to focus on Whole Food ingredients.

What is a Whole Food? A whole food has only one ingredient - itself. I enjoy the definition that Cynthia Lair uses in her book, "Feeding the Whole Family". Cynthia Lair's definition is as follows:

If you want to know whether a food is whole or not, ask yourself these questions:

- Can I imagine it growing? (It is easy to picture a wheat-field or an apple on a tree. Tough to picture a field of marsh-mellows.)

- How many ingredients does it have? (A whole food has only one ingredient --- itself.)

- What's been done to the food since it was harvested? (The less the better. Many foods we eat no longer resemble anything found in nature.)

- Is this product "part" of a food or the "whole" entity? (Juice is only a "part" of a fruit)

Most of the ingredients in the recipes you will find on our site have not been stripped, refined, bleached, injected, hydrogenated, chemically treated, gassed, irradiated, genetically modified, grown with hoemones, fertilizers, pesticides, antifungal agents and herbicides. The ingredients in these recipes still have "life" left in them, and you should be able to pronounce each one!

Warning: You will see some unbleached white flour, brown sugar or powdered white sugar being used in a handful of recipes I post. I am not that extreme. :)

One last focus of our meals you should know---- everything in moderation!