Monday, December 30, 2013

Cooking for your freezer...

 Have you made any New Years Resolutions?  Is yours to be more prepared/organized in the kitchen? To eat  healthier?  
Gnocchi is a great go-with-anything freezer staple. It is a potato pasta that is fluffy like a dumpling. Gnocchi can be made with any potato; I can remember a couple of years ago my CSA basket was full of sweet potatoes and led to a lot of gnocchi. You can add cheese or veggies to the dough as well. It's super versatile that can be treated as a pasta with a simple sauce or often-enough at my house as a dumpling. 
Roast your potatoes in the oven until cooked through. Remove skins when cool to the touch. 
Get out your trusty potato masher or a fork and mash away. But not too much. The potatoes will be chunky. The less you do with this dough, the better it is. It is truly rustic. Add an egg and mash into the potatoes until combined. Next you pick your flour such as potato here...

Combine flour a little at a time until the dough starts to hold together. Cover it up and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes. It's tired. 😉
Tear off bits of dough and roll into logs. Use a light hand. It shapes really easily. 
Cut into bite-size pieces. You may want to toss a hand full of your flour onto pasta to prevent sticking. 
Place gnocchi into boiling salted water or as I do into boiling stock for lots of flavor. It cooks very quickly and floats to the top when done. 
Do as you wish with these fluffy beauties! Toss into a skillet with garlic and olive oil for a tasty side dish or make as a yummy main course. The best thing?  Toss these into a freezer bag, label, and save for those busy nights that a quick meal is in order. This weekend I used a batch as dumplings in my Rabbit & Dumplings...
Happy New Year Friends!!! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Where Have I Been?

Well, to answer that question I will tell you that my husband and I opened our own business. It has been something we have thought and prayed about for a long time and when I lost my Step-Father who raised my brother and I... Things changed. Losing him so suddenly really put a lot of things into perspective for us. My husband and I married young and had to build up our "nest egg" for a long time. After a lot of prayers we started seeing God really working and opening doors for us that had not been there in the past. We decided to let God take control and we've never been more excited or busy!  Opening a business is not for the faint of heart and I have done more paperwork these past couple of weeks than I ever had. We have been truly blessed with a business that has been up and running non-stop since we made our decision. We have been blessed with Family and close friends rooting us on and passing out business cards to whomever they meet. As my role as my Husband's biggest fan and personal assistant is slowing down a bit... I wanted to share all of these changes with you all!  
Now to good stuff in the kitchen!  My crock-pot has been working overtime to fix dinner for me. We happened to have a rooster that needed to be put in a pot, so I was happy to oblige. We now have some beautiful canned chicken stock and enough pulled meat for a couple of different meals. Do you prepare ahead?

My Paleo Chicken!

One organic, free range chicken from my farm or yours... Or the grocery, Lol
2 stalks celery
3 medium carrots
1 onion quartered

Place all in crockpot and cover with water for at least 6 hours on low setting. Overnight is best. 

Remove chicken to pull meat when cool to the touch. Strain your stock to can or freeze ( I do both). 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bringing God Back Into The Kitchen

My daughter asked me if God gave her food allergies.  The answer...Yes, he did.  I then reminded her that God has a plan for everyone and everything.  She asked if I knew what God's plan was for her food allergies and if she would ever grow out of them.  I told her that she was very lucky.  I told her that because of her Hypersensitivity Spectrum Autism that her body only knew what "real" food was.  I shared with her that most people in the world had food allergies and/or intolerances but have never realized it.  Her body doesn't allow itsself to be tricked by "fake" food.  I then told my kids a story.  I told them how a long time ago there were lots of farmers who grew food for their families.  They also had chickens, ducks, pigs, cows, and other farm animals that provided their eggs, milk, and meat for families.  I told them how people lived this way for thousands and thousands of years, but it was not to last forever.  As time went on people changed more and more.  Soon there were not a lot of farmers left in the world because people were moving into cities.  Little did they know that soon the government would have to "help" the people with their food sources.  Without enough farmers; scientists figured out how to make a little food go a lot further.  They started processing the food to break it down and add a bunch of "stuff" to it, and then they build it back up so that it will feed a lot more people.  They also used their science to change even the seeds used to grow food so that one seed would produce a lot more plants.  Little did the world realize that God was soon being taken out of everyone's kitchen.  People were eating foods that were developed in labs and soon people started getting sick.  People were suffering with awful diseases and illnesses with many losing their lives.  People started praying to God for a cure and to help with their families.  A wonderful thing started happening.  A "Real Food" movement started to take place in the world.  People were getting back to nature and all that He provides.  People even started homesteading and farming more; some even in the cities.  There still aren't as many farmers in the world as their used to be, but God has shined his blessings down on us and people are more aware of what they put into and onto their bodies.  It's a beautiful thing to see that my children get to be such a big part of watching the world bring God back into their kitchens.  The End

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lunch Box Treats

It's Back-to-School time again!  I've been getting a lot of questions as to what to put in those lunch boxes in a pinch.  Easy enough!  I thought I would include a bit about what we have found to put in A's lunch box on those busy mornings.  We also enjoy these packable treats for soccer weekends because truth be told, when you're at a soccer tournament out-of-town or often enough out-of-state; it's not easy when you have food allergies.  I always pack up a cooler to take with us because there's not too many food-safe restaurant options that you can just grab and go..  These crackers make a great snack-time option.  They carry the tapaz2go which are a hummus and lentil crackers combo.  These are great for an easy lunch at school or between soccer games.  Hummus gives them the protein and good fat they need to help keep kiddos and grown ups full with some energy.  My A loves the apple mango applesauce.  These are super packable and user friendly.  We cannot have all of glutino's options but have discovered a few that we really enjoy.  My A gets to take an afternoon snack as a part of her health plan at school.  The cereal bars or pop tart's are a great option for that.  She really enjoys anything with blueberry or apple.  This brand is top 8 allergen free and has expanded so much just in the past year.  I always keep a few of their chocolate bars on hand at home.  Always!  You never know when Little Judy is going to have cupcakes to share.  Also, why wouldn't you want to celebrate that team win?  They also have out some new decadent bars that I can't wait to order.  These are our lunchables.  I do the subscribe & save option from Amazon and have them automatically delivered every 3 months.  My daughter can only have one version and I don't want her to get burnt out on them because of how easy they are for us.  Lots of options being added and I always go through and check ingredients for the moment we can add to our sunbutter & crackers.  I place the tubes in the freezer.  For summer they are the best popsicles ever.  For the lunch box they work as an ice pack as they thaw enough for her to enjoy at lunch time.  They also have new chobani bites that are a sweet treat.  Yogurt is great!  I love to make it at home using our goat milk and these chobani options make it great for when we run out.

These are a few of the options we use to pack her lunch with.  We also use these to take on vacations, hikes, and her soccer tournaments.  She is a young competitive player who plays on multiple teams which means that large sections of our year are spent travelling.  I enjoy our farm life immensely but I also enjoy being a soccer mom to my daughter and a baseball mom to my son.  Now is the beginning of fall!  So go ahead and get those coolers ready all of you football, baseball, soccer, golf, and swim moms!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Honey Mustard Pasta with Turkey Meatballs

School has officially started for the Hill Family! We are starting to get a routine down and I'm getting my freezer, fridge, and pantry stocked up. We have discovered lots of new lunch box finds lately that I'm looking forward to sharing with you. Also, don't forget to stock up on those healthy dinners!  I've got a great pasta recipe to share with you. Enjoy it with a quickly made side salad and you've got a healthy and filling start-back to school celebration dinner! 

Turkey Meatballs

1lb ground turkey
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbs garlic powder
1/2 tsp gr mustard
1 tbs herbs de Provence

Get your hands dirty and mix well and shape into golf ball sized meatballs. Brown both sides in skillet and then place on cookie sheet in oven on warm setting to finish through. This will help keep your turkey from becoming dry. Also, I have been known to add a little oil or bacon grease to my skillet. 

1 box brown rice pasta or your favorite prepared using directions on box. 

To Pan Drippings:
1 13.4 oz box organic cannellini beans with liquid. 
2 heaping tbs French Dijon style mustard. 
1 tbs raw honey. 
Stir well and use salt and pepper to taste. 
Add drained pasta to sauce and coat pasta with saucey-goodness. Add meatballs and salad plus a little vino for the grown ups!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lots of Changes....

I know that it's been a while and even now I feel it's too soon to be back at it. We suddenly and very unexpectedly lost my stepfather a little more than a week ago. He had been a father to my brother and I for more than 20 years and I ache that he's gone. We've been concentrating on taking care of my Mother and making sure she's getting established back here in Kentucky as they were in the process of moving back here from Mississippi. Needless to say, there hasn't been a whole lot of cooking going on at my house. Thank goodness for my Husband or I doubt anyone would have ate, Lol. I do realize now why people bring food when someone passes away; because the last thing I have wanted to do is cook. However, for those of us that have food allergy families- we don't have a choice. I am super grateful to my good friend Hilary for bringing lots of fruit to the funeral home for the kids to snack on. It was definitely appreciated. 
And now a week later I am sending my kiddos off to start their new school year. They are finally in the same school again which will make pick up and drop off much easier!  Meetings with the principal and school nurse have been had. Her microwave has been placed in appropriate classroom. And epi pen and new health plan has been signed, sealed, and delivered. Now that I feel like I can start to take a deep breath again, I know I need to get back into the kitchen!  I am super thankful that I have planned ahead to allow for easy, filling breakfasts by making up batches of waffles, sausage, and bacon. It makes school mornings so much easier.  Now to start preparing as many freezer meals as possible! Menu planning coming soon! 

Look at those two big kiddos! I'm one proud momma for sure. Notice her purse?  She eats lunch at school at 10:47. No really!! Therefore we have the perfect size purse to carry her afternoon snack as a part of her health plan. Today she's carrying a Glutino brand Blueberry Cereal Bar. I can't wait to hear all about their first day!  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Little Effort Provides....

As some of you may husband is a man of many talents and we have been adding on and remodeling our home for quite a while now. We are doing this ourselves with me being the supervisor/design expert and Jason being the manual labor. Anywho, we are almost finished! How blessed to have built our home ourselves and for our children to be able to say "My Dad built those cabinets, made that trim. " Truly blessed are we. What's even better? Zero house payment my friends!

In my kitchen you will find a shelf above and to the right of our stove. That shelf is full of extracts. I have vanilla extracts, orange extracts, lemon, cinnamon, and even one that is a combination of vanilla and cinnamon that smells and tastes an awful lot like a certain "Hot Damn" liqueur. No, really. I made for my holiday cooking and my husband even drank a bit to be sure of his assessment. Not a proud moment of mine, Lol. Homemade extracts are super easy to make and you can get as creative as you want. For instance, you may have noticed that in my previous shortcake recipe I used lemon extract. I have 2 different ones. 

Lemon Extract 

1 lemon peel with pith removed as much as possible (the white part between peel and fruit) 
Jam jar with lid
Alcohol of choice - I have vodka in one and sambuca in the other. 

To your jam jar add your lemon peel and then pour your alcohol in - covering peel. Place lid on jar and place in a dark, undisturbed location (for me it's the corner in the bottom of my pantry, I've even been known to use an empty tater box). Shake jar once a week for at least 6 weeks, and of course the longer it sits, the better the flavor.

I often start making these at the end of October to use as Christmas gifts. 
My list of extracts:

For the cinnamon, I use cinnamon sticks. Vodka is the most common alcohol used and what is used for your "grocery store" extracts. Go ahead and try some of these or make up your own. I'd love to hear what you end up with!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summertime Blessings

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Our family has been blessed with the bounty from our gardens. We try to live as sustainably as possible by growing much of our own fruits and vegetables. We gather eggs from our own chickens and have even been known to put a rooster or two to use. We are able to produce our own dairy products by using milk from our goats. We also have the noise of guinea fowl running rampant throughout eating the insects to help keep us organic.  Although my husband and I didn't initially seek out this lifestyle, we are truly grateful for all we have been blessed with. We turned our family over to God and have been blessed with the means and knowledge to help provide for ourselves. I tend to look at my recipes as a lot of semi-homemade meals. As a busy mom I like to use a lot of our farm fresh options combined with the help of items made easily accessible by the grocery stores.  Such as with the following shortcake recipe made semi- with the use of an allergy-friendly baking mix and homemade with our farm fresh eggs, blackberries, and my homemade extracts. Please enjoy!

Blackberry Shortcake

1 qt blackberries
1/3 cup sugar 
Combine and set aside. 

1/4 cup sugar
2 1/3 cups GFree Bisquick
1/3 cup coconut oil

Use a fork or pastry blender to combine ingredients until coconut oil has formed dry ingredients into pea-sized granules. 

3/4 cups coconut milk
3 eggs beaten
1 tsp of my lemon extract 

Stir wet ingredients into dry until dough is just formed; it will be lumpy. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheet and place in 425 degree preheated convection oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. 
Recipe will make 6-8 shortcakes depending on size. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's Zucchini Time!

The best and worst part of being a semi-sustainable, organic food family is growing and putting away your harvest. It is time consuming and you never want to do too much of the same thing. Our family is blessed to have an orchard, spring garden, summer garden, and fall garden. Although we haven't planted our fall garden yet, it will be where the spring garden was. I have now finished digging potatoes and onions up, cutting greens, and pulling beets. They have all been put away for later use. Currently, our summer garden is finally starting to produce. I was so excited to pick the 1st zucchini. The hard part now is figuring out what looks to be a bumper crop. To start things off I decided to do a different take on zucchini bread by turning it into a waffle. These will be great for breakfast or as the 'bread' for sandwiches.

Zucchini Bread Waffles

2 cups AP Flour
1tsp Xantham Gum
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix Dry ingredients well to be sure Xantham gum is well-incorporated. 

2 cups Coconut Milk
3 eggs
2 tbs Honey
2 tbs Coconut Oil in its liquid form

Mix well and combine with dry ingredients. 

Fold in 1 shredded large zucchini and 1 can of crushed pineapple drained with juice reserved. 

Make waffles according to the directions for use on your machine. 

**with reserved pineapple juice I like to reduce it down on the stove top by about half and add a little honey or agave to thicken for use as a syrup. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Who Needs Flour?

It's the beginning of July which means school days are only a month away!  Whatever happened to school starting the first of September and ending the end of May?  Oh how I miss those days...

Now is the time that I have to start preparing for those busy school days. If not, I will be a basket case by the end of July. I like to plan ahead and have my freezer ready for those busy mornings. One thing my daughter loves to take for lunch is chicken nuggets. I wanted to make sure they maintain a healthy option and I also wanted to experiment a bit. The breading I came up with is absolutely wonderful and I hope you enjoy!

Flour Free Chicken Nuggets

Cut up an organic, free range chicken into bite size pieces. 
To a food processor combine potato chips, raw pumpkin seeds, and toasted sunflower seeds
I like to add the jalapeño kettle chips or regular wavy lays..
Place chicken in large Tupperware(ish) container, pour breading on top, and shake until chicken is covered. Breading will be a bit thick so shake really well! Place on a cooling rack in top of baking sheet to prevent soggy nuggets and bake @ 350 degree convection for 35-45 minutes depending on thickness of chicken. Enjoy!