Category Archives: Recipes

Recipes I want to share with the world!

A Spontaneous Raspberry Picking and Making Granola: Reviews

Last weekend we went camping. My husband’s folks, brother and sister-in law joined us in the North Cascades. I successfully tested my home-made marshmallows on them (thumbs up all around).

To my delight our trip took us right by  The Cascadian Farm (regionally local company selling berries, granola and jam). I love their jam and berries. A cute little stand sells Ice Cream made on-site, Coffee, fresh berries and snacks. They also have U-Pick berry fields. While we stopped to enjoy a smoothie (they easily obliged to omit the dairy for our little girl), I confessed to my husband, that I really wished I’d planned ahead to pick berries (at $2.25lb for Organic Raspberries it’s a deal!). He did his super-hero thinking and found an empty container from our camping supplies to use. They do supply the cardboard boxes you normally see at stores, but I wanted something to reuse.

Our kids were a lot of help, and picking went quickly (granted our daughter may have eaten more than she picked). With loads of gigantic, sun-ripened Raspberries all around us, it was hard to stop. And we only picked one row. But, we had plenty, and I didn’t to have so many that they’d smash each other. We had enough for a frozen stash, smoothies and to try a home-made Granita recipe.

The experience was so much fun, that we agreed it would be worth a day trip next year to restock our Raspberry stash.  At about an hour and a half drive from Seattle proper, it’d make a wonderful day trip.

Granola and Granola Bars Review

As I stood in line to pay for our 5.5lbs of Raspberries, I scanned the products for sale: Granola, Granola Bars, Chips, Salsa, Crackers, etc. I was curious about the Granola Bars since I had just made my very own for our trip. The ingredient list included over 7 things, including some “natural” preservatives. I understand that they are needed for a long shelf-life, but our home-made batch never lasts more than a week. And, from my experience, fresh tastes best.

Home made Granola!

I used a recipe from Kitchen Stewardship‘s eCookbook, Healthy Snacks To Go. The book cost $6.95, and so far, I think it’s paid for itself. I’ve made the Granola and Granola Bars. The Granola recipe takes all of 20 minutes to prepare. Seriously, you mix together butter/Ghee/Coconut Oil, Honey and a little water with Oats plus whatever else you want like nuts and dried fruits. You can do this while your oven pre-heats to 350 degrees. Then, you toast it for 10-15 minutes, mixing it half way during the bake time.  Granola Bars take a little more time, but are mostly the same ingredients with a slight change to the ratios. The only change I’ve made to the Granola bars is to use less sweetener.

Now, I know there are a lot of Granola recipes out there on the web. I’d even like to modify this one using Olive Oil and baking at a lower temperature. The reason why I used this recipe on my first try is because Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has a long track record on the blogging scene, and I was sure this recipe had been tried many times over. I scanned all the other 20 recipes, and know I will be spending time trying them all out as we get ready for the school year. Really, I’m excited to recommend this handy book that includes gluten-free, dairy-free and other “allergy free” options, easily labeled. So, if you want to check it out and buy it, here you go: Healthy Snacks To Go (affiliate link so I make $2 if you buy it). Or you can just wait until I review each one and rave about them:)

Do you have any snack recipes I should try out? Please do share! Bonus points for dairy-free recipes.

Recipe Review: Marshmallows – Corn Free

Home Made Marshmallows

Most Americans can’t imagine camping without making S’mores. Well, last year, I decided we as a family would try our best to not consume Corn Syrup. Every package of Marshmallows I’ve seen has it as a staple ingredient. So, that meant we didn’t make S’mores when we went camping…Guess who wasn’t the most popular Mama?  So, you can imagine how excited I was to find a recipe that didn’t use any corn? I didn’t jump up and down, but was giddy to give the recipe a try. The blog, A Messy Kitchen, posted a recipe for Lemon Honey Cardamon Marshmallows. The author’s daughter is allergic to corn of any type, even corn starch. But, she’s an amazing baker and goes above and beyond to make substitute treats for her. I asked about this recipe, because I just wanted to make plain old Vanilla Marshmallows. Since it was my first try, she suggested I start out with Cookie Baker Lynn’s recipe for Classic Vanilla Marshmallows.

I must say Marshmallows are really a lot of sugar, like over 5 cups! So, I was amazed by the process of heating and mixing and beating to make them.

Lessons and Notes:

Doesn't my borrowed Kitchen Aid look pretty?

– Use a stand mixer. You’ll need to beat the hot syrup with sugar in a bowl on high speed for 10-12 minutes. I don’t recommend using a hand mixer simply because there might be some splatter, and you won’t want to get burned. Plus, the fact that beating for that long will give you an aching shoulder. I borrowed one, and a candy thermometer – Key tools!

– From start to finish, making these took over 2 hours, plus setting up overnight (the recipe says all you need is 4 hour to set).  But, I made my own sugar syrup, and took my time checking each step. Just so you know, hot sugar syrup burns like wow! I was trying to ladle it from the pot into a jar for later, and accidentally got some on my thumb. It wasn’t a blister level burn, but did make me worry that I’d mess this first try up. So, be very careful when you’re making the syrup and when you add it to your mixer to make the Marshmallows.

– The only change I made to Lynn’s recipe was with the finishing powder – calls for Powdered Sugar and Corn Starch. I used Arrowroot Powder instead of the Corn Starch, and think you could also use Tapioca Starch. And, some Powdered Sugar already has Corn Starch added. I found some at our local Co-Op made by Wholesome Sweeteners that doesn’t add anything. Whole Foods also carries some that has Tapioca Starch instead.

Sticky like glue, the Marshmallows set in 4-24 hours.

– Yield: I got 36 out of this, but cut some really small to fit into a cup of coffee, and others large enough to roast over a camp fire. The recipe says you can use a cookie cutter for fancy shapes, but I think the sticky factor would keep me from trying it out. I am happy use a knife and make squares or diamonds.

My official taste testers approved of the results and can hardly wait for camping to enjoy the rest. I’m so happy with how these turned out, that next time I want to try the Lemon-Honey-Cardamon recipe! Or, I might modify a bit and use her latest, shortened Vanilla Marshmallow Recipe, which uses a store bought Sugar Syrup, cutting the time down to about 30 minutes plus setting up (4-24hrs).

p.s. My friend Fran says you can also just roll the Marshmallows in sprinkles and avoid the Powdered Sugar coating step all together. I’m sure they’re not healthier, but I bet very pretty! A great party idea too.

Recipe: Vegan Zucchini Muffins and Zucchini Recipe Resource!

Finely Shredded Zucchini.

I love Zucchini, and it seems to be one of those garden veggies that simply thrive no matter where I’ve seen it grow around the Pacific Northwest. I prefer the delicate young ones for eating with pasta, or on the grill. Once they get bigger and tough skinned, the only way I like to eat them is in a baked goodie. So, this recipe has been a staple for a few years now. Once we discovered our daughter could no longer eat eggs and dairy, I modified it to this current one. These muffins are just as tasty! I think muffins last about 2-3 days before they need to get tossed in the compost bin. But, we never have them sitting around here that long. I’ve also frozen them and found they are delicious once thawed out. Okay, onto the recipe:

Recipe: Vegan Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients

– 1.5 Cups Flour (I like to use a 1:3 ratio of Refined and Whole Sprouted Spelt Flour)

– 1/4 Cup Sugar (Regular, Sucanat, or Turbinado is great)

– 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

– 1/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

– 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

– 1 Cup Finely Shredded Zuchhini

– 1/3 Cup Applesauce (unsweetened, plain or with Cinnamon)

– 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

– 1/4 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

– 2/3 Cups Water

Mix the wet ingredients with the dry.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and in a separate bowl mix the wet, then combine. You can fill lined or greased muffin tins – this recipe makes 12 regular sized muffins, or 24 mini-muffins. It also fills a 9×13 Cake sheet for making cake like bars (I’d recommend lining it with Parchment paper first). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Feel free to add a cup of crushed Walnuts or Pecans. Dried Currants or Cranberries are another nice addition to this recipe. I’ve also successfully used Brown Rice Flour or Whole Grain Flour, but find a ratio with Refined Flour suits our tastes. And, I’m happy to share that you can substitute the Apple Sauce for 1/4 Cup Butter, or 1 egg for the 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice if you want. This recipe is really an easy, flexible one that can be modified for whatever dietary sensitivities you may have.

Mini Zucchini Muffins ready to eat!

Zucchini Lovers Recipe Resource:

I was delighted to find a local blog, Seattle Seedling, with a whole page dedicated to Zucchini Recipes! There’s 13 and counting recipes from Zucchini Risotto to Chocolate Chip Cookies (I never would have thought of that).

p.s. Shared on Simple Lives Thursday – recipe, real food info round up.

Picky Eater Solutions: Kids and Vegetables

Iris picked a pretty Green Pepper in Grandma Mary's garden.

Yesterday our family met Elizabeth Pantley of the “No-Cry” Parenting Books. She’s working on a new book called, “The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution,” and needed families who were wiling to try her methods and be interviewed about them. So, we got an advance section of the book to try out for 4-6 weeks. She came with her talented daughter/ videographer, and filmed our kids being cute in the kitchen and then interviewed my husband, Casey, and myself.

They’ll only need a few seconds to create a short video for the book launch, so we’re not feeling like movie stars around here. We’re just glad we can help encourage parents to get their kids to eat vegetables!  While that’s not the whole purpose of the book, it’s certainly a struggle with Picky Eaters.

The interview really made me think about what has worked for us and where we still need to put in consistent effort. Her book outlines some really helpful tips and provides insight into the challenges parents face. For example, a child may need to try a vegetable up to 10 times before they can make up their minds about liking it. This is something I had read before in “Disease Proof your Child:Feeding Kids Right ” by Joel Fuhrman, MD. My friend, Karen, a speech pathologist also told me this in my post, The War on Vegetables.

Many of the concepts in Elizabeth’s Pick Eater book, we have learned the long, hard way over the last 10 months.  So, I found the material affirming and encouraging – like we’re on the right track. Many of you may have read my post, Children: Will You Eat Kale and Beets? back in March. Thanks to advice and persistence, our family eats vegetables at every meal. But, we still have those moments of resistance:

When our 5-year-old suddenly decides at one meal that he doesn’t like Carrots, we know it’s normal and not a sign of failure on our part.

What we have learned:

1) Vegetables are super important for overall health. Our daughter’s constipation problems have been “cured” in large part to eating vegetables at almost every meal in addition to  eliminating hard to digest foods, giving her some herbs and abdominal massage. The rest of the family has benefited through weight loss or weight gain (or skinny boy isn’t so thin anymore).

2) Getting kids to eat more vegetables takes time. Depending on the kid, it can take only a few meals, or several months. Our Picky Eater isn’t our daughter, it’s our son. He turned 5 last month, and spent almost 3 years of his life eating a normal “healthy” diet. He loved cheesy crackers, Bread, PB&J sandwiches, meat, yogurt, bananas, apples and any sweet treat he could get his hands on – notice what’s missing? Vegetables! I thought since I was buying “natural” and “organic” stuff he was a healthy kid. And he was healthy, but he was also quite thin. Since he’s been eating vegetables, his body has filled out more, and he’s gaining weight consistently. It took him a month to start eating Broccoli and Carrots. We’ve spent the last 8 months getting him to eat other vegetables. Our daughter took about 2 months to start asking, “More Kale, Mama?”

3) You need a team – seriously, if it’s just one parent trying to shove vegetables into a kid’s mouth while the other is eating Ice Cream and Bacon, you’re trying to swim against the current. You need your partner and the whole family to start eating better.  Other ways to get support: Ask friends and family to serve your kid’s favorite veggie at dinner or a party. Or, you can ask someone your child admires to eat a new veggie in their company.

4) Start Small – don’t try to change your diet drastically. You can ease into eating more vegetables as you have the time, resources and will power. Try just introducing vegetables at snack time and dinner. Then, as your Picky Eater starts to enjoy them, add them to more meals.

5) Make new vegetables cool – we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant where everything was new and exciting. Guess who ate their Broccoli, carrots, and edamame? Our Picky Eater Son! He had an Udon Noodle dish and didn’t complain about all the vegetables, or the fact they they were touching. The “new” veggies on his plate were perfectly acceptable to him. We think it’s because the food was new and the meal exciting.

6) Try, try again – if one idea or suggestion doesn’t work, try something else. Seriously, there is no magic solution or proper steps. Try things out until you find something that works for you. Read, talk to other parents and don’t be afraid to get creative.

Elizabeth Pantley’s “No-Cry Picky Eater Solution” book is due in October and will include recipes and tips from parents. Stay tuned for a book give-away!


Shared on Simple Lives Thursday #51

Sprouted Mung Bean Review

Pre-soaked and dried Mung Beans

I was first introduced to Mung Beans as an ingredient in a Traditional Chinese Soup for soothing a sore throat among other things. Since then, I’ve started using it in other ways trying to integrate it into our diet. The soup calls for sprouting the Mung Beans before cooking with it, and after trying to simply cook them like regular beans, I can tell you they taste better pre-sprouted first. It isn’t very hard to let 1/2 cup of Mung beans sit in a bowl on the counter to sprout, but does require planning ahead since they need about 12 hours to do so.

When I saw Pre-Sprouted, dried Mung Beans at our local Food Co-op, I was excited. The package promised only 5 minutes to cook. And, they were from a company I already love. Their Quinoa is the least expensive around, especially since I can buy it at Costco.

Here is what I thought after trying them out:

The first try yielded a grainy, almost not done yet texture. So, I tried cooking them twice as long. Fail. None of us liked the grainy texture or lack of flavor. Mung Beans have a specific light flavor similar only slightly to Edamame. I tried again soaking them overnight. Fail. So, I give up, and am back to sprouting them myself. Plus, they are a bit cheaper. The Pre-Sprouted bag cost over $5, but would have saved hours of planning ahead. Dried Mung Beans cost slightly over $2/lb, so you get a lot for your money.

Mung beans eaten with sauteed vegetables, Olive Oil and salt.

Lesson learned: Mung Beans are best when I do the work at home (not that letting them sit on the counter is much work, but planning ahead can be).

p.s. I love cooking from scratch, but also love finding ways to cut the cooking time down.

Recipe: Cool Cucumber Salad

Quick, easy and refreshing Cool Cucumber Salad

I am always delighted with myself when I take a bite of some new recipe I create on the fly and find it is delicious!  It never ceases to surprise me, as funny as that sounds. I guess I make as many “mistakes” as I do “successes” when it comes to creating new recipes.

This salad is perfect for a hot Summer day. The coolness of the Cucumber balances the slight bitterness of the Celery, and the Parsley and Thyme add just enough flavor to provide a light, satisfying taste.

Cool Cucumber Salad

Ingredients:

– 2 Stalks Celery

– 4-6 Leaves Romaine Lettuce

– Half a large Cucumber

– A handful of fresh Parsley (about a half cup)

– 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

– 2 Teaspoons Olive Oil

– Salt to taste

Wash and chop, dice or slice the Celery, Lettuce, Cucumber and Parsley and place into a bowl. Drizzle with Olive Oil, sprinkle on the Thyme and Salt to taste. Enjoy!

I think this recipe took me about 5-10 minutes from prep to eating it off my plate. It makes 2 large servings or 4 small dinner salads.

Recipe: Confetti Garden Salad

Refreshing and easy to make!

Cilantro and what we had on hand were my inspiration for this salad last week. It is refreshing and slightly sweet.

Ingredients:

– 2 Large Carrots

– 2 Stalks Celery

– 1/2 Cup Peas

– Handful of Cilantro (about 1/4 Cup)

– 2 Table Spoons Olive Oil

– Squeezed Lemon (about 2 Teaspoons)

– Salt to Taste (about 1/2 Teaspoon)

Wash, peel and grate the Carrots before adding them to a bowl. Dice the Cilantro and Celery or chop into desired size, add to the bowl. Add fresh Peas, or defrost frozen Peas but don’t cook them least they get mushy. Drizzle with Olive Oil, Lemon and Salt to taste. Enjoy!

This recipe serves 2-4 adults depending on portion size.  We enjoyed it with baked Cod and Zucchini. I think it would go well with any meat, and even with some added cheese like Cheddar or as a meal itself with some Rice or Pasta. Let me know what you discover!

p.s. Shared on Spain In Iowa’s Simple Lives Thursday.

Recipe: Applesauce Cookies

Applesauce Cookies with Currants.

After researching vegan cookies, I came up with this recipe. It is egg-less, and butter-less, but tastes light and is surprisingly soft. You can easily make these more crisp by baking longer. And, since it is so simple, it lends itself well to whatever additions you want. I have thought that crushed Walnuts, Pecans or slivered Almonds would be tasty extras. But, our Little Miss can’t digest them very well, so I haven’t tried them yet.

I have enjoyed these as a classic cookie flavor using only Vanilla and as a light Lemon variation with Currants. Below is the recipe with the modifications depending on what you’re taste buds want.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Ingredients:

– 1 1/2 Cups Flour

– 1/4 Cup Sugar (or Sucanat)

– 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

– 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda

– 1/2 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar

– 3 Table Spoons Ghee or Coconut Oil (Vegan friendly)

– 1 Tablespoon Vinegar or Lemon Juice

– 1 Tablespoon Vanilla or 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

– 1/4 Cup Applesauce

Pulling the dough up around the shapes is easier.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl mix together wet ingredients (if making Lemon Cookies, add the Lemon Zest too). Add wet ingredients to the dry and blend until the dough becomes soft like play dough.

You can roll the dough out onto a floured surface and use cookie cutters for fun shapes. When doing so, I’ve found it helpful to roll the dough onto Parchment paper, then cut shapes and then pull the dough up off the surface. Otherwise it can be tricky to transfer onto a cookie sheet. These only take 15 min to bake depending on how thick you want them.

Or you can simply shape Table Spoon sized dough balls and place onto the cookie sheet to bake. These take about 20 min to bake depending on how soft you like your cookie.

This recipe yields about 12-36 cookies depending on size.

Enjoy with a cup of Tea or your favorite beverage!

p.s. Let me know if you try other ingredients and how it turned out.

Recipe: Carrot Basil Soup

Basil Carrot Soup with Zucchini

I love the smell of Basil. And, Carrots are one of my favorite vegetables. These are the two reasons for creating this soup recipe.  It works as a great base to add complimentary vegetables, and if you chose to add fat and protein, all you need to do is add some Ghee, Butter, Chicken or Beef stock. From start to finish, it takes about 30 minutes or a little longer when you add extras. I chose to add Zucchini to my last batch, and it was so yummy!

Basil Carrot Soup Recipe

Ingredients:

– 3 Cups chopped Carrots (about 6-8 Carrots)

– 3 Cups Water

– 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

– 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

– 1 Tablespoon Freshly Diced Basil

– 1 Teaspoon Salt plus more to taste

Wash, peel and chop Carrots into 1/2 inch rounds, and place in a sauce pan to boil with 2 cups water. Once the Carrots are soft enough to puncture with a fork (about 5-10min), let cool for 5 minutes. Add to a Blender with residual Water, and add one additional cup of Water before blending on High for about 2 min. Depending on you blender, you may need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix the Carrots and blend to create a smooth texture. Once you get it to your liking, return the mixture to your sauce pan or pot, turning the heat onto a Medium-High setting. Add Salt and Herbs and let simmer until you are ready to eat. Enjoy with homemade, fresh Bread or Crackers!

The recipe yields 2 large bowls or 4 small bowls of soup. You can easily multiply the ingredients to make a larger batch.

This is a great recipe for experimenting – let me know what delicious variation you discover!

p.s. I have successfully added left over rice for more substance, and frozen Peas to cool it down quickly for eating.

p.s.s. I love this recipe enough that I also shared it on The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania Recipe/Food round up.


Recipe Review: Artisan Bread in 5 Min a Day!

Fresh, Easy Artisan Spelt Bread

In my quest to make food from scratch, bread was the one thing that daunted me. I imagined a laborious process of kneading, kneading and more kneading. Plus, the family was pretty happy with home made Tortillas and Crackers. So, I didn’t have any pressure. But, my Aunt linked to this recipe on Facebook, and so I decided to check it out.

Honestly, I doubted the “5 Min a Day” claim, but after looking over the recipe and talking to my Aunt, I learned that it takes about 3-4 hours from start to the finished result of eating a slice of bread. Or, you can keep the bread dough in your refrigerator and make a fresh loaf in the morning after about 5 minutes of shaping it (hence the name). The recipe is from FrugalLivingNW.com – they do a great job of lining out the process and include a YouTube video for more instruction. So, no need for me to repeat it here. Instead, I want to share what I have done with it.

Important note: Warm water = 100 degrees.

First Try: I made a slight alteration and used refined Spelt Flour instead of regular Wheat Flour. And, I didn’t have 6 cups of flour, so I halved the recipe and shaped 2 loaves instead of 3.  The result: small, tasty fresh bread with lovely hard crust and a moist center – but, it didn’t rise very much. Fortunately, I made my first loaf in time for a play date with my cousin and her little kids. She had experience making this recipe and gave me some good advice: make sure the “warm” water is at 100 degrees. Adding that suggestion to my notes make the loaves actually rise more.

Another tip: The recipe says it yields 3 loaves, but they are small. They’d serve just 4-6 people as a complimentary addition to a meal. As my cousin also suggested, you can remedy this by using the full recipe to make 2 larger loaves. I like this approach, because I can actually get sandwich sized slices out of it.

Since that first try, I have made this bread many times and just last week used the dough to make pizza. It was perfect! All we did was to knead it with additional flour after the rising step. That way it was less sticky as we shaped and flattened the dough out before adding our toppings.

I’ve also used a 50/50 ratio of Refined and Sprouted Spelt Flour and find it tastes even better. So, if you want to use Whole Wheat or combine flours, I think it would work out just fine. If anything, it might not rise as high.

Makes a great Pizza Dough!

We love the bread so much that when I make it, the challenge become to not eat all of it in one day. So, I don’t make bread every week because it nearly doubles our grain consumption.

Do you have a favorite easy bread recipe?

I’m looking for a great Sourdough recipe and a non-Artisan recipe – feel free to link me to it, or pretty-please do share it in the comments.