quiche

Cheddar and Bacon Quiche (with spelt crust)

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here before…but we got chickens last spring. Their names are Rosemary, BBQ, and Scramble. My daughter named them. 

chickens

We’ve had them for a year now. And they’re marvelous! Yes, apparently I have fully embraced the pseudo hippy in me and I now own backyard chickens in the middle of a town, for the sole purpose of getting eggs that I know are from pastured chickens but not paying a fortune for them. It’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. (Though once in a while they do escape and we have to go chasing them down the alleyway….)

eggs

And the eggs are delicious. With dark orange yolks and firm whites, the way eggs are supposed to be! And this quiche is one spectacular way to use them up. Bacon, cheese, onions, in a tender flaky crust? Yes, please!!

The quiche itself is perfectly simple. But the crust is a little trickier. It’s a lot more fragile than crusts made with white flour, so it takes some special handling. For that reason, this will be a long post because I’m going to walk you through the crust carefully so that you know exactly what to expect. Don’t be scared away by the length of the post, though! Once you get the hang of the crust it’s really not hard!

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pan-caramelized chicken breasts

Simple Pan-Caramelized Chicken Breasts

I want to share something with you that’s so simple it’s hardly even a recipe – more like a method. But it’s one of my go-to foods in my arsenal of keeping me away from simple carbs because it’s quick, easy, and delicious both hot and cold!

All it is is chicken breasts, sauteed in a cast iron pan until caramelized and crisp and flavorful. Here’s the best thing about this chicken: since it’s delicious cold, this is perfect for food on the go. If I’m going to be somewhere that I need to pack lunch, or on a trip and want to take easy protein along, I’ll cook up three or four chicken breasts this way, cut them into bite sized pieces, and store in a container. All I have to do is pop a few in my mouth whenever I feel peckish and they’re so good – so completely flavorful and satisfying. So if you’re stuck for what to do about lunch on the go without being able to eat sandwiches anymore, this is your answer!

A note about cookware: For this to really work, a cast iron skillet is really necessary. There’s no way you’ll ever get that beautiful brown, caramelized goodness from a nonstick pan. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet you can always do this anyway in whatever pan you have and it’ll taste fine – but it won’t come close to the fantastic goodness that a cast iron skillet will give it! (consider this your motivation to go get one. A 12 inch Lodge pan at Target is only like $20, so what are you waiting for?)

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Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Technically, this is dessert. I know that. It is not, and nor should it be, lunch. Or dinner.

And yet, in the past two days I have had it for both of these things.

Yesterday I made a whole bunch to take to a friend’s house for a lunch-time “strawberry shortcake feast.” And then, tonight, my husband’s working late and it’s just me and the kids and I didn’t feel like cooking and there were all these left-overs from yesterday’s lunch and so….

Strawberry shortcake for dinner. Yes I did.

The kids think I’m the best mom in the world right now.

But, really, it isn’t SO bad if you think about it. (Or, at any rate, that’s what I’m telling myself so that I don’t feel guilty about feeding my kids dessert for lunch. And dinner.) Because, really, what is it? It’s biscuits – tender, flaky biscuits. And sweet strawberries. And freshly whipped cream. None of which have a lick of refined sugar in them at all, with only the tiniest bit of maple syrup. Really, (if you cross your eyes and squint) it’s just like having a piece of bread, some fruit, and a glass of milk! Right?! So, see, it’s not THAT bad!

So, there you have it, folks. Your ready-made rationalization as to why it’s okay to have dessert for dinner!

And here’s how you make it. It’s basically just my standard Spelt Biscuit recipe with a few minor changes.

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scalloped ham and pasta

Scalloped Ham and Pasta

When you cook with good quality ingredients – especially grass-fed butter and raw milk – it gets kind of expensive. They’re treasures, and you start to understand why someone might, indeed, cry over a glass of spilt milk when it costs $8/gallon!!

Because of that reason, I’ve been terrified to try to thicken any of my sauces with something I’m unfamiliar with, like arrowroot or tapioca powder. I’ve been sticking to whole grain spelt, because the last thing I want is to waste an entire pot of sauce made with Kerrygold butter and $8 milk! I’ve been total chicken.

However…I’ve been having a LOT of problems with my sauces breaking (or curdling), and since I never used to have such a problem with it, I’m wondering if the whole grain spelt is to blame. And so I wanted to try something different. With much trepidation, therefore…I tried making a cheesy white sauce with arrowroot powder.

And…it worked! It worked just fine! The sauce was beautiful, without a weird texture or mouth feel, and – even better – didn’t break!

This recipe is something I’ve made for years and years – but this was the first time I’d tried it with arrowroot. It’s a great recipe because it uses up all that leftover ham that you loved so much when you made it, but three days later are starting to get really sick of eating cold from the fridge. And, it’s an all-in-one meal, which I always love!

So, this is my debut of my adventures into trusting arrowroot powder more often! (I think I’m going to have to go back to my macaroni and cheese recipe and make a note!)

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orange pineapple sherbet

Orange Pineapple Sherbet

Sherbet is delicious. And, for the purposes of eating better, it’s great because fruit is the main ingredient, and fruit is so naturally sweet that it requires very little sweetener added! It’s really pretty much a guilt free dessert. 

This particular sherbet is something I love to make when I have a cold, especially a sore throat. Not only does it feel nice a soothing, but the combination of orange and pineapple juice is an immune booster powerhouse. I grew up drinking a combination of orange and pineapple juice when I was sick, so this is basically the same thing – just frozen!

My sherbet is a little different from most recipes you see out there because I use much less dairy. I do this because I like more of the fruit flavor to shine through – and therefore less sweetener to be added. Technically, sherbet is supposed to use milk, not cream, but I use half cream and half milk so that I can still have enough cream content to make it creamy, but use much more fruity goodness! It works out great.

The most obvious thing you have to do is juice oranges. Lots and lots of oranges. How good your sherbet is directly depends on how good your fruit is! So use good, sweet oranges, not bland tasteless ones!

orange pineapple sherbet

You want 4 cups of juice. As you juice – DON’T THROW AWAY THE PULP! Keep the pulp and include it in with the juice. Not only does this mean that you have to use fewer oranges, but the pulp is full of really good health-boosting stuff, not just the juice. Combining the two is a great idea especially when you’re trying to fight off sickness. Don’t worry – we’re going to blend it all smooth so you’ll never know the pulp was there.

Pour the juice into a blender and add in 1 cup of pineapple juice and half a cup of honey. If you have it, also add in 2 tsp of tapioca starch. This isn’t strictly necessary so if you don’t have any, no worries. But it helps make a smooth consistency so if you have it use it.

You’ll see in the picture that the pulp rises to the top.

orange pineapple sherbet

Blend away on the highest speed until the pulp is completely blended in and is no longer visible. Pour it into your ice cream maker and add in one cup of whole milk and one cup of heavy cream.

Taste the mix. If necessary, add in some liquid Stevia extract. Whether you need this or not completely depends on how sweet your oranges were. For this batch I added in 20 drops of my Trader Joe’s brand stevia drops, but other times I haven’t needed any. So it’s important to taste to know!

Make it according to the ice cream maker instructions. Wait impatiently for it to be done.

orange pineapple sherbet

Then rejoice! Because your totally delicious, creamy, throat-soothing, immune boosting, healthy treat is done! Dish yourself some and scarf it down.

orange pineapple sherbet

Orange-Pineapple Sherbet
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This delicious sherbet has only ¼ cup of honey for 7 whole cups of liquid - so it's really as safe of a dessert as you can get! The combination of fresh orange juice with the pulp and pineapple juice is also a great immune booster, so this is perfect to make when you're feeling under the weather, especially for sore throats.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups orange juice from fresh sweet oranges, pulp included
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tsp tapioca starch (optional - makes a smoother texture)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • liquid stevia extract if necessary to boost sweetness
Instructions
  1. Use only good sweet oranges. Sherbet is only as good as the fruit that you use!
  2. Combine the orange juice and pulp, pineapple juice, honey, and tapioca starch in a blender and blend on the highest speed until it's completely smooth with no pulp visible.
  3. Pour the juice into your ice cream maker along with the milk and cream.
  4. Taste for sweetness. How sweet your oranges are will depend on whether you need to make it sweeter or not. If the sweetness needs to be boosted add in some drops of liquid stevia extract until it's as you want it.
  5. Make according to the ice cream maker's instructions.
  6. Store left-overs (if you have any!) in an airtight container in the freezer.

 

braised beef brisket

Braised Beef Brisket (with amazing sauce!!)

This is another one of those “set it and forget it” meat dishes that I love. Like the rest of them, it’s super easy, and just takes time. If you’re at home all day, just start it around noon and it’ll be ready for dinner. If you’re at work all day, stick it in the crock pot on low and it’ll be ready when you get home! Love those kinds of recipes!

About 10 years ago a friend showed me how to make beef brisket using a can of cranberry sauce, a packet of onion soup mix, and beef broth. It made an absolutely delicious sauce and turned out perfectly every time! Of course, I’m obviously not going to use either cranberry sauce (because of the sugar) or onion soup mix (because of…well…everything). So I came up with this version instead.

And it turns out that this makes an even more delectable, irresistible sauce that that old version! My son says that it’s “saucesome.” :) Real food never disappoints!!

Take your beef brisket (preferably from a grass-fed cow!), and season both sides with salt, pepper, turmeric, and marjoram.

braised beef brisket

Heat a large skillet until hot and put in some olive oil, then brown the brisket on both sides.

braised beef brisket

 

Pick up the brisket and slip some sliced onions into the pan, then place the brisket on top of them.

braised beef brisket

Then pour in 2 cups beef broth, 1/2 cup red wine, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, and 5 pitted dates.

Yes, I said dates! Even if you don’t like to eat dates, stick them in anyway – you don’t have to eat them. They serve the purpose that the cranberry sauce did in my old recipe: they sweeten up the sauce. As they simmer in the liquid, all their natural sweetness seeps out into the sauce and makes it super yummy!!

braised beef brisket

Pop a lid on it, turn the heat down to low so that the liquid is barely simmering, and leave it for 4-5 hours.

Then you end up with this!

braised beef brisket

If you’re bothered by the fact of the dates, you can remove them now. Otherwise, kind of mash them down to incorporate them into the rest of the sauce.

I always like to serve this with rice, because the sauce poured over top of the rice is absolutely delicious! And we’re really into turmeric rice lately because it’s pretty, and because turmeric is so healthy, so that’s why it’s yellow.

braised beef brisket

And that’s it!

(If you want to do this in a crock pot, you’d season and brown the brisket in the oil, then put all the other ingredients in the crock pot and put the brisket on top. Leave it on low all day, or on high for half a day.) 

Braised Beef Brisket
Author: 
Recipe type: dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
The dates in this recipe lend the sauce its wonderful slight sweetness, so even if you don't like dates leave them in! It's yummy!
Ingredients
  • 1 beef brisket (preferably from a grass-fed cow)
  • 1 onion sliced into rounds
  • turmeric, salt, pepper, and marjoram
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 5 pitted dates
Instructions
  1. Season the brisket with the spices.
  2. Heat a large skillet until very hot and drizzle in some olive oil. Add in the onions and then place the roast on top.
  3. Sear the brisket on both sides until browned.
  4. Pour in all the liquid and add in the dates.
  5. Turn down the heat to low and let the liquid barely simmer for 4-5 hours.
  6. If you don't want to eat the dates, remove them. Otherwise you can kind of mash them down to become more a part of the sauce.
  7. Serve with rice or something on which you can pour the yummy sauce!
  8. (To do this in a crock pot, season and sear the meat, then put the brisket in the crock pot on top of the sliced onions and add in the liquids and dates. Cook on high for half a work day or on low for a whole work day.

 

Shared on Real Food Wednesday

strawberry sherbet

Frozen Strawberries and Cream (Sherbet)

I have the perfect “it’s-been-a-long-winter-and-it’s-finally-spring-and-I-want-to-completely-forget-the-frozen-horror-that-was-the-past-4-months” recipe for you. It has to do with strawberries and cream and sweet frozen creamy goodness. Interested?

Basically, we’re talking strawberry sherbet. But the best strawberry sherbet you’ve ever eaten. My family went nuts over it. NUTS. And since sherbet is mostly fruit it has very little added sweetener in it, which makes this something you can eat guilt-free!

This particular sherbet strongly reminds me of an Italian Water Ice “cream ice.” (My fellow Pennsylvanians will know what I mean by that. For the rest of you…sorry.) Fruity yet creamy at the same time. And just like water ice, when you freeze the leftovers it freezes HARD – not like ice cream that can be easily scooped back out again. So let leftovers sit in the fridge for a bit to soften up before eating!

Unlike ice cream, no advance prep of cooking and cooling a custard is necessary. You can start it and have it in the ice cream maker in 5-10 minutes. Twenty minutes later you have dessert!

Take about 2.5 pounds of cleaned strawberries and stick them in your blender. You might need to add a little apple juice or something to get them going, but you shouldn’t need much. (Even my cheapo Oster blender did it no problem). Blend on the highest speed until it’s completely smooth and pureed. You should end up with 5 1/2 cups of strawberry puree.

strawberry sherbet

Taste, and add sweetener as necessary. Use honey, maple syrup, or pure liquid stevia extract. The amount of sweetener you need completely depends on how sweet your berries are, and your particular tastes. I added 1/4 cup of maple syrup and 2 droppers full of liquid stevia. Just taste until it seems sweet enough to you!

Pour it into your ice cream canister along with 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream.

strawberry sherbet

And make it according to the ice cream maker’s instructions. Twenty minutes later you have this!

strawberry sherbet

And a very happy family.

Store left-overs in the freezer in an air-tight container. It’ll be frozen hard later, so you’ll want to let it soften a little before eating.

Frozen Strawberries and Cream (Sherbet)
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 5½ cups strawberry puree (about 2.5 pounds whole strawberries, pureed in the blender)
  • 1½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼-1/2 cup honey or maple syrup, or to taste (will depend on sweetness of berries)
  • optional +/- 30 drops pure liquid stevia, or to taste
Instructions
  1. Make the strawberry puree and taste it for sweetness. Add sweetener as necessary. You'll probably need at least ¼ cup of honey or maple syrup, but maybe more. The amount will totally depend on how sweet your berries are and your personal tastes!
  2. If you want to boost the sweetness a little without adding more honey or maple syrup, add some liquid stevia.
  3. Pour it into your ice cream canister and stir in the cream.
  4. Make according to the ice cream maker instructions.
  5. Leftovers will freeze hard in the freezer, so let it soften a bit before eating after it's been in the freezer!

 

Shared on Fight Back Friday  and Real Food Wednesday