Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hawaiian Haystacks and Cream of Chicken

My kids love Hawaiian Haystacks. They love being able to pick and choose from a variety of foods to put on their dinner plate. In the picture above we have: pineapple tidbits, sliced green onions, cooked chicken, cream of chicken soup(home-made, and vegan is an option), diced tomatoes, grated cheese, sliced almonds. Most of the kids each have a few of these toppings they really like and will stick with those. I like them all, and the green onions in particular because they keep it from being bland.

The first thing you’ll want to do is make your brown rice according to package directions. I always make extra so that I have leftovers and some to freeze for the next time I need rice. I freeze it in ziploc bags or tupperware and when I need it, I pull it out of the freezer that morning and allow it to thaw on my counter to use that evening.

I make my own cream of chicken soup because the canned stuff is pretty nasty and most brands from stores contain MSG(mono sodium glutamate) which is a flavor enhancer and which has been known to cause adverse side effects on the body, like headaches amongst many other things. To make this soup, you’re going to need white bean flour. If you have a wheat grinder, you can grind the uncooked white beans in that on the coarse setting, or you can grind them in a high power blender. You only need 5 TBSP of flour for this recipe. I usually grind about 1/3 c of great northern beans and use the left over flour for next time, storing it in a small tupperware or plastic bag. You’ll put the bean flour, vegetable broth(or water and a bouillon cube or better than bouillon), and minced garlic in a saucepan and bring it all to a boil, stirring with your whisk.

You’ll boil it for a couple of minutes and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for a couple more minutes. This will cause it to thicken up.

Set your soup aside. Cut your green onion into thin slices (after you cut off and throw away the root end). Dice your tomato, grate the cheese, and get out whatever toppings you like and put them all in separate bowls. Once you’ve got everything out, you can put your plates together, starting with rice on the bottom (I put a little less than a cup on the adults plates and maybe a quarter cup on the kids plates) and then adding your toppings. I like to add the soup right after I put my rice on my plate so that it soaks into the rice and makes it more flavorful and moist.

THE RECIPES:

Cream of Chicken soup substitute– makes about 2c
1 ¾ cup cool water (or use vegetable broth instead of water and bouillon)
5 TBS white bean flour (small white beans ground in wheat grinder- on coarse setting)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp Better than Bouillon (can also use 1 cube vegetable bouillon)

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, bring all ingredients to a boil. Stir with whisk. Mixture will be thick in 2 minutes. Reduce heat and cook over medium heat for 2 more minutes- stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and it’s ready to use.

This mixture can be refrigerated up to 1 week and used in place of canned soup.

Hawaiian Haystacks- serves 6

4 c cooked brown rice (cook according to package directions; usually 1 c rice to 2 c water, cook for 50 minutes. Can prepare this ahead of time)
Chicken Soup Substitute (the whole recipe from above; about 2 c)
Several of these toppings(amounts may vary depending on people’s preferences): 2 diced tomatoes, 3 sliced green onions, 2 c cooked shredded chicken, crunchy chinese noodles, 1 can pineapple tidbits or 1 c fresh pineapple cut in chunks, 1 can manderin oranges, 1 diced green pepper, 1 c grated cheddar cheese, 2 stalks sliced celery, 1/2 c sliced almonds, oranges

Cook brown rice according to package directions. Follow recipe for chicken soup substitute. Cut up any toppings you like and have them in separate bowls with spoons for easy serving. To serve add rice to plate and then any other toppings.

**After posting, I found another variation of the homemade gravy that I love; both are great. Here is that recipe:

4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp minced garlic
5 Tbsp whole white wheat flour
2 c water or chicken/vegetable broth
1 c almond milk (or other milk)
2 tsp dried minced onion
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

In a saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in garlic and saute 1 minute. Add flour and stir. Whisk in water/broth and milk. Stir on medium heat for a few minutes until thickened. Add dried onion and salt.

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Filed under Dinner, Soups, vegan

Strawberry Shortcake w/Homemade Whipped Cream

When I told my mom, over the phone, that I made up a strawberry shortcake recipe, her first question was if I came up with a biscuit mix. That left me confused. Biscuit? I told her no. So she asked how I was able to do it. After a few minutes of talking, we realized we were talking about different things. The strawberry shortcake I make is an actual cake, not the biscuits you put strawberries and whipped cream on top. This cake recipe is whole wheat and doesn’t contain any refined sugars AND it tastes great! The home-made whipped topping and fresh sliced strawberries makes this cake especially tempting in the summer months.

I bake and decorate a lot of cakes. And yes, generally the unhealthy kind with lots of sugar, but it’s more of an artistic outlet for me than anything else. It’s usually just for fun, for my kids or friends birthdays, but also sometimes for pay. That being said, I love this Baker’s Joy spray. It’s a grease with flour that works wonderfully when you’re using a box cake mix. Comes out clean every time. But, I’ve found when I’m doing a cake from scratch, I need to do the spray AND use parchment paper on the bottom. So get out two 8 inch or 9 inch pans(either works), I use 9 inch, and then spray the whole pan, put the parchment paper on, and spray the bottom again. You’ll thank me for this tip when you’re cake comes out perfect and doesn’t fall apart.

Here are the ingredients:

I almost always use lemon juice and milk instead of buttermilk b/c I’ve got it on hand. So if you’re going to do that, just put 1 Tbsp lemon juice in your glass measuring cup and then add in milk until you get to the one cup mark. I almost always use whole milk, but I was shopping at a different grocery store this week where whole milk is a lot more expensive than the other kinds so I bought 2% this time…both work fine.  Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

This is what Sucanat looks like. It’s a cane sugar that’s dehydrated. You can use another unrefined cane sugar in place of this if you’ve got something else on hand.

Cream together your sugar and butter:

Divide the batter between the two pans. The batter should fill about half of each pan. Stick them in your preheated oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.

While your cakes are cooking, put together you’re whipped filling/topping. You’re going to need 2 c(pint) of whipping cream (sold near milk in stores), vanilla extract and agave.

Beat these together until soft peaks form(you’ll beat for several minutes). It’ll look and feel thicker. But don’t go too much longer because you’ll end up with better consistency.

When the buzzer rings, put a toothpick in the center to check for doneness (like my made up word?). The tops should be light brown. Let them cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. The cake should have pulled apart from the pan, but if there are any parts of it still touching the pan, run a knife around the edge.

After ten minutes, put a cooling rack on top of the cake and then flip them together so that the cake is upside down on the rack. Pull off the parchment and do this to your other cake.

My tops come out pretty level, but if they are ever not level, take a serrated knife and make the tops flat. Put one layer of cake on your serving dish, right side up. Cover it with whipped topping and sliced strawberries. Then put the other cake on top, but this time, upside down so that the nice flat bottom of the cake will be on top.

Cover the top of cake and sides with whipped cream and then cover with remaining sliced strawberries.

Refrigerate uncovered for at least an hour before you cover it with saran wrap so that the topping will harden up a bit and won’t stick to the wrap. Pull the cake out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving so the cake will soften a bit but the whipped topping will still be nice and set.

THE RECIPE:

Whole Wheat Strawberry Shortcake

Makes two 9inch round cakes (to stack)

1 c butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 c whole white wheat flour

1 1/2 c Sucanat or other raw sugar

2 tsp vanilla

4 large eggs

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 c buttermilk (or 1 Tbsp lemon juice mixed with whole milk)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with Pam w/Flour, line the bottom with parchment, and coat parchment with more Pam w/Flour, set aside. Cream together butter and Sucanat about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating each until fully incorporated before adding the next. In a separate small bowl mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture and milk to the egg mixture in three additions, beginning with the milk and ending with the flour. Transfer batter to prepared pans and bake until the top of the cake springs back when pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.

 Whipped Topping and Filling:

2 c whipping cream

3 Tbsp agave

1 tsp vanilla

1 pound strawberries, sliced

Combine all ingredients except strawberries in a mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form(several minutes). Can also mix in high power blender: place all ingredients in blender and hold down pulse button until it spins freely. Then scrape down sides with rubber spatula and push pulse button about 3-5 seconds.

Wash and dry and slice the strawberries. Lay half the sliced berries over 1 cake, then spread a 1/2-inch layer of whipped cream on top. Place the second cake over the first. Frost the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream. Top with sliced strawberries. Refrigerate. Allow to sit on counter about 20 minutes before serving.

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Filed under Desserts

Freezer Spaghetti Sauce

In the middle of August, our tomato plants really took off! We came home from a road trip and had tons of red roma tomatoes to pick. We spent quite a bit of time out in the garden with the kids. We also got lots of onions, sweet peppers, peaches, raspberries, zucchini and chard. I’ve canned tomatoes in the past, but I really don’t like to can so the past few years when we get lots of tomatoes, we make it into spaghetti sauce and freeze it. I know it still takes some work and time, but not quite as much and when I’m done I’ve got all this ready made portioned out spaghetti sauce that my family loves.

Before you start mixing up your spaghetti sauce, you need to blanch your tomatoes. I Fill a large stock pot about 3/4 full of water and then I bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Then I add a couple handfuls of tomatoes.

Set the timer for thirty seconds and allow them to sit in there during that short time.

After 30 seconds, remove the tomatoes with a large slotted spoon and place them in a large bowl filled with very cold water. Add another couple handfuls of tomatoes. Repeat the process until all the tomatoes are blanched. With a sharp knife, cut off the end of a tomato and squeeze tomato out of the skin into a large mixing bowl (when you squeeze, you’ll squeeze out some of the water and seeds into the bowl which is a good thing….you’ll dump those down the sink to create a thicker, less seedy sauce).

Put tomatoes in blender and blend until smooth. You’ll need to do a couple of batches. Dump tomato puree into slow cooker. (if you prefer a chunky spaghetti sauce, don’t blend until smooth but rather pulse a few times until the consistency you like)

In same the blender(no need to clean it), add onions and pepper. Pulse until the consistency you prefer.

Add this to a large slow cooker(5-6 quart) then add the remaining ingredients. You can also cook this in a large stock pot and simmer for several hours.

Cook for 4-8 hours in your slow cooker on high heat. The longer you cook, the thicker it gets. You could also add a can of tomato paste to thicken it up some more, but if I’m making spaghetti sauce from scratch, I don’t want to add anything from a can and I absolutely love the fresh taste! Stir it occasionally. Let sauce cool. Pour sauce into quart size freezer containers or freezer ziploc bags. Store in freezer for several months. Be sure to label your freezer items with the contents, date and amount.

THE RECIPE:

Freezer Spaghetti Sauce (makes about 4 quarts)

about 16+ cups  tomatoes (I used two large mixing bowls full of tomatoes…which was probably around this amount)

4 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried or fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Blanch tomatoes. Cut tops and squeeze out of skin. Put tomatoes in blender and blend until smooth. You’ll need to do a couple of batches. Dump tomato puree into slow cooker.In same blender(no need to clean), add onions and pepper and pulse until the consistency you like. Add this to the slow cooker then add remaining ingredients.  Cook for 4-8 hours on high heat. The longer you cook, the thicker it gets. Stir occasionally. Let sauce cool. Pour sauce into quart size freezer containers or freezer ziploc bags. Store in freezer. Good for several months(I’ve used mine a year later and it’s still good).

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Filed under Dinner, Lunch, vegan

Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola

Before we took off on our road trip a couple of weeks ago, I made a few healthy-ish snacks for us to bring along the road. One thing I hate about road trips is all the junk food and packaged food you end up eating because you don’t have a fridge or oven. I feel so nasty all day. We usually will stop and eat out one meal. In the past on our annual trips to WA we’d stop in Boise for breakfast at a McDonalds with a playland…yuck!  Did I mention we start our long roadtrips around 3am? This time we didn’t ever eat at McDonalds; we stopped at Subway instead and I got a veggie sub which was really good and made me not feel so nasty.  Everything else we eat on that 14 hour drive is in the van. I brought apples(bananas do not travel well and turn brown quickly and get really soft), green smoothies we drank before we stopped for breakfast, whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter to make sandwiches for lunch, veggies sticks to go along with the sandwiches, mini carrots, honey oat muffins, A Clif Bar for each person which we ate while in Yellowstone(Lara bars would have been better but me and Jane are the only ones in the family that like those), a trail mix and cashew cluster bag from Costco, and this home-made crunchy peanut butter granola. We’ve made this granola in the past and love it!  I don’t make it regularly because there is quite a bit of sugar, or in this case Sucanant(unrefined dehydrated sugar), plus there’s another sweetener. So I make it for special occasions, like this road trip, or if Scott(the hubby) requests it which he does sometimes. I still make my everyday granola recipe about every 10 days which is how long it takes my family to get through it. That granola recipe is very healthy and it’s softer than this one and is best eaten with milk(in the opinion of me and my children). This granola is also good with milk but it’s also fantastic just by itself, which is why I made it for our road trip. It was the first snack item we finished, which shows how good it is. We brought some disposable cups and wrote our names on them, and then we used those as snack cups so we could fill them with this crunchy granola or other snacks, and eat it from the cup so the van would be less messy….and it did help, but a road trip with a family of seven means there is going to be mess just with the amount of stuff you have to bring a long.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this granola(picture below). The bag on the right is the Puffed Brown Rice Cereal. I buy mine at Walmart for $1, but you can also find it at health food stores, though sometimes it’s a little more. Coconut oil I buy at health food stores and only when it’s on sale because it’s expensive! Did you know that coconut oil is also fantastic for your skin(if you’re not allergic to coconut of course). I got rid of the vaseline and started using this because my kids got eczema with the really dry climate here in Utah. Also, for this recipe you could substitute another favorite oil if you don’t have coconut oil. The sucanant(the brown grainy stuff in the white container) I get from health food stores, the vanilla, natural peanut butter and maple syrup come from Costco(I usually get my salt there too, but the one pictured is not from costco), and oats I buy in bulk(50 lbs because we make lots of the other granola) when stores are having case lot sales, though I’m not sure that would work outside of Utah. Or I buy it from the LDS food storage cannery building. The peanuts we buy in a bag in their shells because Scott and the kids like to shell them and eat them as a snack, so that’s what we used for this. Sorry all the detail on the ingredients but when people are just getting started with whole foods, a lot of times it’s helpful to know where to go to get the food and for the best price.

Preaheat your oven to 325 degrees. Take out a rimmed baking sheet and line it with with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, measure the oats and rice cereal and set it aside.

Melt the coconut oil with the maple syrup in a 2c or larger glass measuring dish. Why? Because coconut oil will solidify if it’s under 76 degrees so when you mix it in with pure maple syrup that’s cold from being in your fridge, you’ll get some solid chunks. In the summer at my house, our coconut oil is liquid, but the rest of the year it firms up. Add the peanut butter, salt and sucanat to the glass measuring dish and whisk together.

Pour this wet mix over the oats and rice cereal and stir well to combine. You’re not going to add the peanuts until after you’ve cooked this for a little while.

Spread the mixture out on your cookie sheet and cook it for about 15 minutes. Take it out, stir in the peanuts and put it back in the oven to cook for another 10-15 minutes. You want to cook it until it’s golden brown color and is crispy, but don’t let it go for long after it gets to this point because it’ll start to burn so keep an eye on it when you get close to the ten minute mark.

I like to cut my parchment paper so it’s a little big for the pan and the edge is hanging over a tiny bit so that it makes it easy for me to pick up the granola in the paper and slide it at an angle into an airtight container.

THE RECIPE:

Crunchy Peanut Butter Granola

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
1/3c smooth or crunchy all-natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 c Sucanat (or granulated sugar)
1/4 c pure maple syrup (you could also use agave, honey, or brown rice syrup)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted raw or dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Measure the oats and rice cereal into a large bowl, set aside.Warm up the coconut oil and syrup in a glass measuring dish. Add in the peanut butter, sugar/sucanat, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk together and pour wet ingredients over cereal and stir until evenly coated. Spread mixture on the prepared cookie sheet in an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven, stir the peanuts into the granola, and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the granola is golden brown and crisp. Remove granola from the oven and cool completely. Store in an airtight container. You can easily double this recipe.

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Filed under Breakfast, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers