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Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I love hummus and I finally made it (successfully) starting with dried chickpeas or garbanzo beans instead of canned chickpeas. I tried in this post, but I failed because I failed to cook the chickpeas before blending them with the other ingredients.
The hummus turned out great and I must say that starting with dried chickpeas really does make a difference. The flavor truly is that much better when you start with dried chickpeas. Using dried chickpeas does require advance planning and at least 24 hours and because of this I will keep a can of chickpeas on hand at all times for those instances when I did not plan in advance or get a huge hummus craving that cannot wait.
As with any dried bean, I sifted through them to remove any stones or bad beans. Then, I placed them in a large saucepan with cold water and ½ tsp. salt. The chickpeas soak overnight and are ready the next day.
Be sure you drain the water off the chickpeas and then add new water to rinse off any starchy fiber that would cause gas. Simmer the chickpeas for an hour or an hour and a half.
Drain the liquid saving 1 Tbsp liquid.
(You can tell that I threw some black beans in. I had some left over from Mexican food and decided to use them in this. It was a great variation!)
The recipe calls for Tahini. It is sesamee paste. You can find it near the peanut butter or in the international aisle. It stores for some time in a room-temperature location and does separate.

Place chickpeas, 1 Tbsp liquid, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp tahini, 1 large garlic clove, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper in a food processor. Stream in olive oil into the food processor as the mixture blends. (it will be approximately ¼ c. olive oil.)
Taste and add any additional seasoning as needed.
Place in a serving bowl and cover with paprika. Serve with crackers, pita, raw vegetables, as a sandwich spread, or in a cold pasta or quinoa salad.
I made two; one with black beans and one plain as I used it in a dip.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Carrot Onion Slaw


Bryan is a great chef and has an amazing ability to make up recipes. He made carrot onion slaw and we ate it on burgers. The slaw was great and it was an amazing addition to our pork burgers.


He grated the carrots and chopped the onion

Then, he added the garlic. We love fresh garlic and always have it on had. You can easily get that outer skin off the garlic by laying your knive down on the garlic and hitting your knife.

If you look closely you can see that the skin has separated from the garlic

Pull the skin off and you have the garlic clove

Chop and add to the carrots and onion. Season with Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, Lemon Juice, Vinegar, salt, and pepper


Carrot onion Slaw

10 baby carrots, grated
¼ red onion
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. Sweet Thai Chili Sauce
½ tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Grate carrots and finely chop onions and garlic. Combine the ingredients in a small serving dish and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eggs are not Dairy

My husband is not a country kid. In fact, he grew up in town and his farm experience was limited to one time when he “helped” on one of his school friend’s farm. (His friend’s mom made him his first homemade cherry pie and he talks about that to this day.)
You already know that I grew up on a farm but now live in a town.
My husband has a great attitude about everything in life and enjoys our trips to my parent’s house and farm. He asks a lot of questions about agriculture related things and helps me understand city things.
When we were newly married, I told my husband that I was “going to town” and I asked him if he needed anything. To which he replied, “First, we are in town and no, I do not need anything at the store.”
The first summer of our marriage, I woke up and decided to mow the lawn. Lucky for me, it was not too hot outside and the grass was dry so I got ready to mow the lawn. (Yes, my husband would do it, but I do not like to sit still so I do it sometimes.) So, around 8:00AM I was all ready to mow the lawn. My husband told me I could not mow the lawn but I replied, “Yes, I can. The grass is dry and it is not too hot out.” My husband had to explain that because I have neighbors I cannot mow the lawn before 10 AM.
The stories go on and on, but you get my point.
My husband has helped me understand that people do not always think about the origin of their food.
For example, on more than one occurrence people have referred to eggs as dairy. I was shocked the first time someone made this reference to me and you can be sure that I helped them understand that eggs are poultry and not dairy. You see, eggs come from chicken and dairy comes from cows.
The more times I heard the confusion the more frustrated I became. My husband helped me see that because eggs are stored in the dairy section of the grocery store people confuse them as dairy. I get that, I guess, but food does not come from the grocery store. The process is much bigger than that.
I would love to keep this blog about food, but also educate people about where their food comes from or how it is made. In the future, you will see recipes but you will also see my rendition of how things are made or the origin of our food.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chicken Satay Noodle Salad

I love the peanut butter and soy sauce combination. I eat it on pork, chicken, vegetables, and quinoa.
Maybe I need an intervention? Nahhh, I need to share this recipe! This nutritious dish is also d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!
I do not know where I found the recipe, but I modified it a bit (of course) and do not feel as guilty as I should when I gobble up a huge plate because it is full of protein and vegetables!

The recipe makes enough to feed 6 people so I often times cut it down to feed two (with leftovers for lunch, of course!)
I use Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta. I love that it has protein, dietary fiber, and more. Actually, I compared the nutrition label to quinoa and found this pasta to be the same or better than quinoa. (Which naturally makes me feel like I can eat pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!)
I do realize that I should not eat pasta every day or for every meal, but I may allow myself to indulge more than I have recently. J
Once we finally got home from the gym we fired up the grill and put the chicken breast on to cook.  The original recipe called for a rotisserie chicken skinned and shredded so you could do that too if you were in a pinch. I have not bought a rotisserie chicken because they are expensive and do not save time as in this dish you can multi-task by chopping veggies and cooking pasta while the chicken is cooking. In addition, I get to add my own seasonings and control the quality of the ingredients, salt, and what not when I do it myself.

(Yes, I am one of those people who want to do things myself and find great satisfaction in doing so. I realize that I am a special breed so I try to give the rest of the world a reasonable option.)

While the chicken is cooking, cook the spaghetti per package directions and drain.

I also chop up/prepare all the veggies. You can see that I used more vegetables than the recipe called for, but I am really trying to get more vegetables into our diet and this was an easy and tasty way to do just that! (To me this is another benefit of making food myself, I get to put in the amount of ingredients I want.)
Then, I mixed up the peanut butter sauce.

And added the sauce to the noodles.

I placed the saucy noodles in a serving bowl

And topped with the chicken and veggies and nuts

Then, I inhaled enjoyed my wonderful dish!

Chicken Satay Noodle Salad

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
½ cup peanut butter, softened                                                                 
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ c. lime juice
1 tsp. red pepper flakes, chopped
1 garlic clove, grated
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups cooked chicken**                                             
1 cup packed fresh spinach
¼ cup shredded carrots
4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle                                                         
¼ cup chopped peanuts
Cook pasta, drain, rinse and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, and ¼ cup warm water. Whisk in the soy sauce, lime juice, red pepper flakes and garlic. Pour in the oil in a steady stream, whisking to combine. Add the reserved noodles and toss to coat.
Place the noodles in 4 shallow bowls and top with the chicken, spinach, carrots, scallions, and peanuts.

** You can use pulled pork, pork tenderloin, or pork chops in this dish as well!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Cranberry Meatballs

Bryan and I decided that meatballs sounded good, but we wanted to try a new recipe to change things up a bit. (The recipes we have a great – but we make those a lot.)
We needed to use up some ground beef so we stuck with a entirely ground beef recipe. I think future meatball attempts may include beef and pork and we will freeze the excess in smaller portions so we do not have to eat meatballs all week long!
Bryan found this recipe in The Complete Guide to Country Cooking, a cookbook my mom and dad gave me when I was in 8th grade. I begged my parents for cookbooks when I was a kid but they tried hard to get us age appropriate things but I was not necessarily interested in a child’s cookbook as I had some of those and wanted something more advanced. Eventually, I got this cookbook and it appeased me for some time.
This recipe included a sauce that we will use as the beginning of a BBQ sauce. Once we get the recipe perfected we will post it here J
I don’t like to touch raw meat so Bryan offered to make the meatballs. He combined all of the ingredients and used a 1-inch cookie scoop to make the meatballs. He was careful to pack the cookie scoop full so that the meatballs did not fall apart while cooking.

We placed them on a sheet and baked them for 20 minutes.

Once the meatballs were out of the oven we put them in the cranberry/tomato sauce for 10 minutes to finish cooking and to take on some of the sauce flavor.
You’ll see that we are missing a vegetable in this picture. We did have them (cucumbers) but the dishwasher had all of our dirty plates, so we ate our main dish first in these bowls and then had the cucumbers. It happens!
Cranberry Meatballs copied from The Complete Guide to Country Cooking by Taste of Home Publishing
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ c. crushed saltines (approx 15 crackers)
¼ diced onion
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 lb. ground beef
1 can (16 oz) whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 can (10 ¾ oz) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Crumble meat over mixture and mix well. Shape into 1 ½ inch balls. Place on rack in a baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until no longer pink.
Meanwhile, combine cranberry sauce and soup in a large saucepan; heat through.
Add meatballs, simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles.

Yield: 4 servings

Monster Cookies

I think my mom has had this recipe since before I could walk as I do not remember a time before Monster Cookies. My Mom shared this recipe with my aunt, so I usually get them at family gatherings one way or another. They are soft, filled with deliciousness, and do not disappoint.

I normally encourage people to mix up any recipe, but I believe that adding crunchy peanut butter makes the cookies a bit crisper so if you prefer a soft cookie I highly recommend creamy peanut butter.
Traditional Monster Cookies are large in size. Being one to buck tradition I like to make them smaller, usually mine are about 2 inches in diameter. Plus, that way I can eat more than one J
Tip: I make the cookies into a ball and place them close to one another on a sheet pan. I place the cookies in the freezer and freeze them until they are firm. Once frozen (I usually leave them in the freezer overnight) I place them in a freezer-safe container and then bake a few when I need and/or want them. This way I always have fresh cookies when I/we want. (Oh, and I can eat a frozen cookie ball when I want J)
Oh – and the cookies will continue to cook once you take them out of the oven as the pan is still hot so I try to take them out around 10 minutes and let them sit for 2-3 minutes.
Monster Cookies
1 c. sugar                                                                            
2 c. brown sugar
3 eggs                                                                                  
½ c. butter
1 ½ c. peanut butter                                                      
½ t. vanilla
1 c. flour                                                                              
2 t. soda
2 c. oatmeal                                                                       
7 ½ oz. plain M & M’s
Mix in order given.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes.