Simply Perfect Crunchy Granola

Well, here we are, getting settled into our new homestead here in Alaska and life has been crazy to say the least.  We have so much work to do, spending every morning leisurely enjoying a hot breakfast of bacon, eggs and fried potatoes is nothing more than a picturesque fairytale right now.  As busy as we are, I need a few quick-fix tricks up my sleeve for breakfast and rather than falling back on store bought cold cereal, homemade granola is the ticket. Unlike the sugar-laden, empty calorie fluff from the store, (which, let’s face it, does no one any good because everyone is hungry 15 minutes later.) Hearty, homemade granola is made with healthy ingredients and will stick with you 10 times longer than that stuff with unpronounceable ingredients.
Aside from a few stove top suppers, our first experiment in cooking with my Kitchen Queen wood cook stove was some toasty, yummy homemade granola. I spent a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon attempting for the first time, to use the oven in my wood cook stove.  To be honest, there was more of a learning curve than I had expected in using said oven and after 2 hours trying to bake the stuff, we ended up toasting the granola on sheet pans on the stove top rather than baking it. It still came out great!

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Granola is one of those things that can be changed up 1,000 different ways depending on what you have on hand and what your own dietary restrictions might be. We use whole grain oats as our base then boost the nutrition value with all the yummy add-ins that take it over the top like flax, pumpkin & chia seeds and nuts.
The only downside to this recipe is that when I make it I have to make a seriously monster-sized batch because at all stages of preparing it (raw, cooking, cooked, cooling and put away in the pantry) I have greedy granola gobblers steeling it by the handful.
Hubby and kids alike can’t stay out of it.  We also love using this recipe when making trail mix by adding nuts, dried fruit and chocolate chips or candies.

For a long time my granola, while quite tasty, never held together in the big, crunchy clumps that I was looking for.  It always fell apart into individual oats, nuts and seeds which was rather disappointing.  So in order to save you from my own frustration, here are 2 simple tips for getting big clumps of crunchy granola that is the perfect breakfast cereal or trail mix base.

  1. Make sure that ALL the oat mixture is thoroughly coated with your honey/oil mixture.  (If you increase the oat/nut/seeds to more than what I have listed here, you will also need to compensate by increasing the honey mixture as well.)
  2. DON’T stir the granola while it is baking.  (This is so important.)

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Simply Perfect Crunchy Granola

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

• 6 cups whole oats
• 2 cups sliced almonds
• 1 1/2 cups pecans (chopped)
• 1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds
• 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (sweetened is also fine but an unnecessary addition of sugar)
• 1 1/2 cup raw honey or organic maple syrup
• 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
• 3/4 cup coconut oil (butter is also okay but will not yield the same crunchy results) 

  • 1 Tbl cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 Tbl cardamom
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
    • Optional super-seed addition
    • 1/2 cup flax seeds
    • 1/2 cup chia seeds
    • 1/2 cup water

1. In a small bowl, mix the flax & chia seeds with water and allow to soak while you get the rest of your granola mixture ready. This will produce a sticky clump of seeds that you will gently break up into large chunks and fold into your oat mixture later.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together your oats, nuts & pumpkin/sunflower seeds.
3. In a sauce pan, add coconut oil, honey and coconut sugar. Stir frequently while heating until just melted & combined. Do not boil.
4. Add vanilla, maple or other extract to your honey mixture.
5. Gently add super seed mixture to your oat mixture, keeping gumball sized chunks if possible.
6. Heat your honey, sugar & oil mixture over the oat mixture and toss to coat thoroughly.
7. Spread out on sheet pans (I like to line mine with silicone baking mats or parchment paper)

8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, rotate your pans to ensure even cooking and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes.

9. Turn off the oven and let the granola continue to toast and crisp up for up to 1 additional hour. If it is browning too much, remove it from the oven and allow to cool.
(Or if you are using a wood stove with a broken temperature gauge like me… Bake for 1 hour, then pull your baking sheets out of the oven and put them on the stove top to finish crisping up.)

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I promise that you and your family will love this, especially once you fine tune your own personal adaptations to the recipe.

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DIY Earl Grey Tea

My heart is closely connected to the scent of Earl Grey Tea.  When I drink a cup I am filled with a sense of strength.  It is uplifting, yet relaxing, boosts my confidence, relieves stress and the most important asset is that it brings my English Grandmother to my mind.

My love for my Grandma Hilda, in turn, has instilled in me a love for all things English, where deep roots of our family run.  I miss her dearly and cherish anything that will remind me of her, so it only makes sense that such a strong English tradition would take me back to her.

But why the automatic mood boost?

The secret is in that magical ingredient…

Bergamot.

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The Earl Grey blend is named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, the British Prime Minister in the 1830’s.  It is said that he received a gift, most likely by a Chinese diplomat, of tea flavored with bergamot oil

“Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) is a small citrus tree which blossoms during the winter and is grown commercially in Calabria, Italy.[13][14] It is probably a hybrid of Citrus limetta (sweet lime) and Citrus aurantium (bitter orange).[15]”

My sister and I used to joke that we could both drink Bergamot essential oil straight, the scent is just so intoxicating.  So once we realized that Bergamot was the magical ingredient our beloved Earl Gray, it didn’t take long to connect the DIY dots.

Earl Grey

Earl Grey is one of my favorite afternoon pick-me-ups….Bergamot is one of my most prized essential oils.  It’s a match made in heaven… it’s just perfection, plain and simple.

This recipe is beyond simple, but the really important key to it all is to only use the highest quality ingredients.

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Your ingredients are:

Black Tea 

Bergamot Essential Oil – I only use Young Living Essential oils.  It is absolutely VITAL if you are ingesting essential oils to only use Therapeutic, Grade A, Organic Essential oils(Don’t be fooled by oils labeled “100% Pure” which are only actually required to contain 5% of the actual essential oil in order to be labeled that way.)  

*Orange peel or Rose Petals, optional

 

To infuse your own Earl Grey tea :

  • Drop 4-16 drops of Young Living Bergamot Essential oil to the sides of a glass mason jar.  (I realize that this is extremely vague but it really varies from person to person.  My husband likes it best when it is mild, while I enjoy it very strong.)
  • Add your loose, black tea leaves (2 cups) and any other added ingredients (citrus peel, rose petals, etc)
  • Stir/shake the contents of the jar vigorously to coat.
  • Let the tea “cure” for several hours up to a few days.

You can drink a cup right away but I recommend being patient and letting the mixture cure.  For best results use within a few months as the flavor will fade over time.

This has been one of my favorite Homemade/DIY projects that I have ever done, I hope you love it as much as I have!

Earl Grey Collage

Coconut, Almond & Flax Energy Bites

If you haven’t yet discovered the world of “energy bites” AKA “healthy cookie dough bites” you have been missing out.  Energy bites can be made with a variety of ingredients and fit a variety of needs.

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#1  FEED THE TINY HUMANS

Let’s face it folks, it ain’t easy keeping the tiny humans fed.  They are ALWAYS hungry or… “snacky” I should say.  (Is snacky a word?  I guess I just invented a new word.)

Snacky = the insatiable need to continually put things in your mouth.

My girls are snacky kids and I’ll admit, it isn’t always easy to find something that satisfies their hunger for longer than 20 minutes.  It is also not easy to find kid friendly snacks that are either not processed crap food (I’m looking at you cheese puffs) or foods that are disguised as being healthy and will therefore break the bank (yep, that’s you “Bunny snacks”…)

On that note, energy bites are the perfect snack to actually satisfy a hungry cookie monster.

#2  Hangry Mama

I am one of those people who tend to be queasy in the morning if I don’t get SOMETHING in my tummy when I first get up in the morning.  And I’m not very clear headed in the morning so my decision making skills are not always the best.  I tend to reach for ANY snack food within reach especially if it is carbs.  I also tend (as does my 7 year old daughter) to get a bit “hangry” when I have not eaten well.

These energy bites are the perfect quick snack to take the edge off.

#3 “On The Go Jo”

Who isn’t in some kind of rush these days?  It seems like we all, if not every day, then most days are in a rush to get out the door for one reason or another.  For our family it tends to be Church on Sunday and CC Community day (our homeschooling group) on Tuesdays.  As I’ve confessed before, I am not quite on top of my game in the mornings so I tend to realize last minute that I haven’t made enough time for breakfast.

Once again, these babies are an easy grab and go option.

However, as is usually the case, there is often one downfall to these delicious bites… when you search the interwebs for a recipe, you will be invariably bombarded with about 200 recipes which may look delicious but aren’t exactly on the healthy side, or they claim to be… but contain oats or other grains.  That may be fine and dandy for some, but if you are Paleo, Whole Food, Keto, THM or anything else that either cuts grains or separates carbs from fats, then all of these recipes are taboo.

This recipe is gluten-free, grain free, sugar free & delicious.   And that, in my book, is a beautiful thing.

As I have made it a self-sufficiency goal to reclaim my health through healthy foods and essential oils, I have learned that one facet to keeping my hypothyroidism in check, is by starting the day with a Breakfast incorporating Protein/Fat/Fiber.  These little gems are just that.  If the total amount of protein doesn’t meet your needs you can always add some Collagen to your tea or coffee and you will be good to go.

So after all that talk, the process is really very simple.

Mix Coconut oil & almond butter until fairly smooth.

Add in unsweetened coconut flakes, ground flax, cocoa nibs, vanilla, salt and pure stevia extract powder.IMG_3093

Mix well and place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours to harden.

After a few hours the mixture will be a nice scoop-able texture.

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You can then roll into balls and place on a lined cookie sheet.  (I prefer to use non-stick silicone mats to eliminate waste and unnecessary trips to the store, but parchment paper will also work fine.)

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Return the cookie sheet to the fridge and let them harden again before putting into a bowl or dish for storage.

 

Coconut, Almond & Flax Energy Bites

  • Servings: 18-24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3/4 cup coconut oil

*3/4 cup almond butter (other nut butters are a fine option)

1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

**1 1/2 cup ground Golden Flax Meal

1/2 cup cocoa nibs or Lily’s brand, stevia sweetened chocolate chips

2 tsp  vanilla extract

1/2 tsp mineral salt

***1 “doonk” (1/32 tsp) pure stevia extract powder or a few drops of  liquid stevia (a “doonk” is a tiny scoop that is 1/32 of a teaspoon.)

  1. Mix coconut oil & almond butter 
  2. Add in unsweetened coconut flakes, ground flax and cocoa nibs 
  3. Add in vanilla, mineral salt and pure stevia extract powder.
  4. Mix well and place the bowl in the refrigerator to harden.
  5. Roll into balls and place on a lined cookie sheet
  6. Return the cookie sheet to the fridge and let them harden again before putting into a bowl or dish for storage.

Store in the refrigerator in order to avoid the mixture melting again.

A few notes:

*Natural peanut butter is okay too, I have just found that with a low thyroid condition, it is best to avoid over-doing it with peanuts/peanut butte

**For best results using Flax meal, grind your own Golden Flax seeds rather than buying “flax meal” as it loses it’s benefits shortly after being ground and who know how long the store bought meal has been sitting around.

***Pure stevia extract is NOT to be confused with store bought stevia blends like Truvia which are highly processed and contain fillers.  Blends such as Truvia will measure entirely differently and also have a completely different flavor as the chemical fillers leave a bitter after taste that pure stevia will not.  (I like THM brand’s pure stevia powder) – You can also add liquid stevia (but I have not tested a measurement for or a little raw honey rather than the stevia powder, just be aware that if you use honey they will no longer be sugar free or low carb.

Other notes:

You can also spread the mixture into a cake pan (well greased or preferably lined with parchment paper) and the cut into squares rather than rolling into balls.

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Elderberry Gummies

So, you’ve heard me talk about the endless benefits of Elderberries, and I’ve shared my favorite Elderberry Syrup recipe.

But you’ve got tiny humans in your house… and lets face it, they may not be so keen on the idea of swallowing a spoonful of some mystery flavored, black-ish purple liquid… (if they only knew just how yummy it really is.) 

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If that is the case, or you just want to see your kids get REALLY excited about consuming a powerful, antioxidant rich, vitamin packed remedy, then these babies are just what you are looking for.  They’re cute, they’re sweet and they’re super fun to eat!  My kiddos are crazy about them.  It’s just another fun step into the world of Redeeming Comfort Food when you can take a sugary-treat like gummy candies and replace them with something like this.

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And the best part?  They are a cinch to make.  

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Elderberry

Here is what you will need:

1 cup Elderberry Syrup

1/4 cup Gelatin (Good quality)

1/2 cup Hot (not quite boiling) Water

Silicone molds (or a glass dish)

Here is what you do…

  1. Add 1/4 cup of gelatin to 1/4 cup cooled Elderberry Syrup.  Mix well to temper the gelatin.
  2. Add 1/2 cup hot water and stir until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining Elderberry Syrup and stir (once again) until smooth.
  4. *Carefully pour into greased molds or dish.
  5. Refrigerate until firm (approx. 2 hours)
  6. Take as needed (see my Elderberry Syrup recipe for dosage details) 

*I place my silicone molds on a large cookie sheet to catch any spillage and make the molds more stable while moving into the refrigerator.

Elderberry Gummies

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This is the time of year that everyone loses their minds over pumpkin everything, particularly pumpkin spice everything.  But I think often underrated is the humble pumpkin seed.  Whether you are carving your pumpkins with your kiddos, canning pumpkin from your garden or baking a from scratch pumpkin pie, don’t throw out all those yummy seeds!

A favorite treat around here; they are packed with nutrients and oh so yummy.  Don’t waste a single seed!

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Here’s how it works:

As you are scraping out the guts/seeds from your pumpkin, drop the seeds into a bowl of water to soak (floating them in some water seems to help the process of cleaning them up.)  Rinse in a colander to make sure you’ve gotten all the bits and pieces off of them.

*Note: I recently heard that if you are not carving your pumpkin, that you can bake the pumpkin before cleaning it which makes the seeds even easier to separate but I have not yet tried this method.

Spread out the seeds on a cookie sheet (you can line it with a tea towel for quicker drying if you like.)  Leave the seeds to dry completely before attempting to roast.  (I just leave mind for a day or so.)

When the seeds are dry, transfer them to a bowl and coat with 1-2 Tbl of oil then add seasonings of your choice.  (I’ll share my favorite blend in a minute.)

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I love to use the silicone baking mats but parchment paper or tin foil will work as well.

Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-20 minutes until they reach the right color.  You will have to keep a close eye on them, they burn easily.

And that’s all folks, it’s that simple.

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Ingredients:

Seeds from 1 pumpkin

1-2 Tbl Olive oil

1 1/2 tsp of sea salt of mineral salt

1 1/2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili

Instructions:

1. Scrape seeds from pumpkin
2. Soak/Rinse seeds and remove pumpkin “guts”
3. Dry seeds thoroughly
4. Toss seeds in olive oil & seasonings
5. Roast in 325 degree oven for 10-20 minutes (watching carefully)


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Happy Fall Everyone!!!

Pinto Bean Spice

Pinto Bean Spice

1/2 cup granulated garlic

1/4 cup onion powder

1/4 cup chili powder

1/4 cup Cumin

2 Tbl Salt

1 Tbl Paprika

1 Tbl Pepper

*Note: This recipe makes a bulk batch to season Pinto Beans with at any time.  You will have to experiment on your own to reach the desired flavor you want but I would say that I use approximately 1/3 cup to a large pot of beans.

Homemade, Traditional Refried Beans

Who doesn’t love refried beans?  Especially true, homemade, traditional refried beans.

I grew up in the Southwest so I was surrounded good, traditional Mexican food and my favorites are those that are simple and classic with no frills or fusion flair added.

Traditional refried beans definitely fall into that category.  They are simple, stick to your ribs, comfort food that can be dressed up or down as needed.  So although this recipe is beyond simple, it is a great tool to have in your toolbox to whip out any time you need it.  It is the perfect filling for burritos, the base for a fantastic bean dip or a simple side for fajitas, tacos, or even steak!

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So lets talk beans.

You will want to start with cooked pinto beans.  This can mean that you start your beans from scratch earlier in the day, use leftover pinto beans (which is what I do) or you can also use canned pinto beans, but I’ll be honest, unless they are home canned beans,  they just won’t be as flavorful as home cooked or canned beans.

Now, before we start, let me make this disclaimer: not everyone agrees on the issue of rinsing and draining beans.  Some will tell you, you MUST… others that it isn’t necessary but the truth of the matter is that it depends on your own family.  If someone in your family has… ehem… digestive issues… (my Grandma Hilda would smack me for even referring to such things) due to eating beans, then soaking and rinsing your beans is the best thing you can do.  I never bothered with this step for a long time and my husband would be miserable for 24 hours afterward.  When I finally gave in and started rinsing the beans, it made a big difference!  So for us, we soak & rinse.

If you are not used to cooking your own pinto beans from scratch, here are two easy methods that you can use.

  1. Slow Cooking – Start by pre-soaking your beans overnight.  In the morning, drain off the soaking liquid, rinse the beans and replace the liquid with fresh water.  Add your spices to the pot and cook on low for about 5 hours.
  2. Pressure Cooking (my personal favorite) – Put your beans in the pressure cooker  and fill the pot 2/3 full of water.  Bring up to pressure, then vent your cooker until all the steam is released.  Drain off the cooking liquid, rinse the beans and replace the liquid with fresh water.  Add your spices to the pot and bring back up to pressure.  Pressure the beans for 18 minutes.  *IF you are using the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker and if you do not intend to rinse your beans then you can just do a quick soak for 15 minutes or so and then use the Beans/Chili button which will pressure for approximately 30 minutes.

Moving on to the good stuff.

The frying part.  (insert dreamy SIGH here.)

Isn’t everything just tastier when it is fried?  Now before you go judging me with your low fat, low calorie gavel, that trial was thrown out long ago.  Now I’m not talking about deep fried twinkies here people, but incorporating some good ole’ butter or bacon grease in your cooking is, in fact, healthy.  Recent studies have also shown that a high sugar diet is the real culprit for cholesterol and triglyceride issues.

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20100420/high-sugar-diet-linked-lower-good-cholesterol#1

As a matter of fact it has also been proven that our bodies cannot properly absorb the vitamins in our foods unless there is at least some animal fat in our diet.

Okay, I’ll step down from my soap box now.

Start by adding your lard or bacon grease to a non-stick type pan.  (I use well seasoned cast iron.)  Add finely diced onion, garlic and jalapeno or green chiles (all optional but will add great flavor; I suggest at least adding the onion.)  Saute veggies until translucent and very tender.  In the mean time, strain most of the liquid off of the beans and reserve the liquid for later.

Turn heat up to a moderately high heat and add your beans.  Mash well with a potato masher and then let the beans cook down and “fry” on the bottom.  After 5 minutes or so, stir the beans, scraping the bottom of the pan and allow to cook down and fry again.  Repeat this process until your beans have reached the desired consistency.  You can add the reserved bean liquid (or plain water if you don’t have enough) to moisten the beans, you can also do this with red enchilada sauce which will take the flavor over the top.    Keep the beans just a little more wet than you want your final texture to be.  As the beans cool, they will dry up a bit.  Add salt if needed.

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Traditional Refried Beans

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 cups cooked pinto beans

2-4 Tbl lard or bacon grease (you can use olive oil for vegan option)

1 small onion, diced

Garlic & jalapeno or green chiles (optional)

Grated cheese (optional)

  1. Add lard or bacon grease to a non-stick type pan.  (I use well seasoned cast iron.)  Add finely diced onion, garlic and jalapeno (all optional but will add great flavor; I suggest at least adding the onion.)  Saute veggies until translucent and very tender.  In the mean time, strain most of the liquid off of the beans and reserve the liquid for later.
  2. Turn heat up to a moderately high heat and add your beans.  Mash well with a potato masher and then let the beans cook down and “fry” on the bottom.  After 5 minutes or so, stir the beans, scraping the bottom of the pan and allow to cook down and fry again.  Repeat this process until your beans have reached the desired consistency.  You can add the reserved bean liquid (or plain water if you don’t have enough.)
  3. Add salt if needed.

*If you really want great flavor, you can season/moisten the beans with red enchilada sauce.

If you would like the recipe for my Pinto Bean Spice you can click HERE.

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Pork Fried Rice

Sometimes, the best things come from collaboration.  This recipe is one of those things.

My best friend and I rarely get to hang out and neither of us are “phone” people either so we end up going way too long without talking.  She only lives 45 minutes away but trying to overcome that distance and our schedules sometimes becomes nearly impossible.  So when we do have a day that we can make it work, we banish the kids to play in the other room, grab a cup of hot tea and debrief.

We never even make it to the couch, we just end up hovering over her kitchen island where spend the next 4 hours downloading all of our parenting struggles, crazy stories and random questions like “what have you been making for supper lately?’

This recipe came from one such conversation where we had both been making a fried rice style stir fry and I ended up combining the best of both versions to make something that my family LOVES.  It is an easy “go to” meal that really doesn’t even require a recipe or much thought at all but is a home run every time.

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First, begin by browning your choice of meat.  We typically use diced pork (because pork is something we tend to have a LOT of) but chicken works equally well.  This time were running a little low on pork chops to dice so I grabbed some pork sausage and it was fantastic.  Seriously people, use what you have on hand.  Don’t make an extra trip to the store.  This recipe has so many potential variations from the meat you can use to the vegetables that you choose.  Even your choice of garnishes are optional.  (Although the pistachios are pretty fantastic.)

Season your meat with a little salt and pepper and some granulated garlic, (but go easy on the salt, as you will be adding soy sauce or liquid aminos later.)

While your meat is browning, chop your vegetables, nuts and herbs.

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When the meat is done, remove from the pan and cook your veggies in that same pan (leave out the nuts and herbs.)  When the veggies are finished, add your meat back into the pan with rice and stir well.

*Note: I like to keep some extra, cooked brown rice in the freezer so that this recipe will come together easily. 

Add soy sauce or liquid aminos to taste and garnish each bowl with chopped pistachios and cilantro (or chives.)

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Pork Fried Rice

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 lbs Pork (diced or ground)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped small
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Brown your meat and season your meat with salt and pepper and granulated garlic, (but go easy on the salt, as you will be adding soy sauce or liquid aminos later.)

While your meat is browning, chop your vegetables, nuts and herbs.

When the meat is done, remove from the pan and cook your veggies in that same pan (leave out the nuts and herbs.)  When the veggies are finished, add your meat back into the pan with rice and Stir well.  Add soy sauce or liquid aminos to taste and garnish each bowl with chopped pistachios and cilantro (or chives.)

*Potential variations:

You can use pork, chicken, I’m sure that even shrimp would be fantastic.

In place of the peppers, mushrooms and zucchini you can use a combination of peas and carrots (or really any other combination of vegetables you like.)

Another fun addition to this dish is 1 egg, scrambled, to be added at the end.

Trust me, this is simple meal that won’t disappoint.  I would love to hear about your variations and how it turned out!

Zucchini and Eggs Breakfast (THM S/Whole 30/Grain Free/Paleo friendly)

I decided this morning that I just HAVE to take a few minutes and share this breakfast with you.

It just wouldn’t be fair to keep this one to myself.

As I have said before, one of the most important keys to developing a “homestead state of mind” is be reclaiming your health by the means of homeopathic remedies and nutrition.  I have also shared with you that in my own health journey with Hypothyroidism, a breakfast made up of Protein/Fat/Fiber is super beneficial.  On that note, one day I was trying to come up with a breakfast that contained those three things and this is what I came up with.

It’s totally cheating for me to even call this a “recipe.”  It is so crazy simple but SOOOO very good.  The tiny humans and even my mountain man LOVE this breakfast.  I mean really, when you tell your kids they are having vegetables at breakfast and they literally cheer… you have struck gold my friend.

So let’s break it down.

Melt butter, (ghee or bacon grease for Paleo/GAPS) in a cast iron skillet.  Saute diced onions until the edges start to brown (if your kiddos just can’t do the onions, you can omit but the flavor is really awesome so try it.  Seriously.  Keep trying.  My kiddos have come to LOVE cooked onions in their food.)  When the onions are starting to brown, add in your sliced zucchini and more fat if needed.  Season well with mineral or sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and a good amount of garlic powder.  Continue to saute the zucchini and onions until the onions are soft and brown and the zucchini are beginning to brown as well.

(When it comes to flavor, just remember, “brown food is good food.”)

You can complete this dish with either poached or fried eggs but you really want those yolks to be nice and runny.  

That’s all folks.  Super simplicity, super deliciousness.

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Irish Stew with Colcannon & Whipped Horseradish Cream

Irish Stew_Ad

I love all things Celtic, It’s in my blood and I always love celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with my favorite Irish Foods.  But a few years ago, things in life had gotten really crazy and I realized MID-DAY that it was actually St. Patrick’s.  GASP!  How had I let this sneak up on me without notice? 

I was in a panic.  I had NO CORNED BEEF in the freezer.  (And I wasn’t about to load up in the car and drive to town with two small children for 1 item.)  So I hopped on Pinterest for inspiration and realized that there are a LOT of options for delicious Irish fare besides my beloved Corned Beef and Cabbage.  I realized that a traditional Irish Stew is much like my own stew recipe so that would be a piece of cake.  But I needed something more, something celebratory that wasn’t on my typical monthly menu.  And then I discovered….

Colcannon.  A yummy concoction of mashed potatoes, bacon, cabbage and leeks. 

And not JUST Colcannon… but Irish Stew served OVER Colcannon. 

The next year, I decided to add a little extra flare and added whipped horseradish cream. 

Irish Stew OVER Colcannon TOPPED with whipped horseradish cream.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

Comfort food in it’s most glorious form.

So I am here to share the glory with you today, and it goes something like this…

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The easiest way to start any recipe is “mic en place” (or for us down home cooks, “get yer stuff together”.)  This recipe has many components and the best way to simplify is to get all of your ingredients chopped, sliced and ready to go. 

Slice your leeks, shred your cabbage and chop your bacon, carrots and onions (and stew meat if needed.)

Starting with the stew…

This stew can be cooked on the stove, in a Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) or in a crock pot. (see cooking times/methods in the recipe below)

Beef would be the most traditional meat choice of course, but you can use venison or elk, here I used bear stew meat.  Whatever you keep on hand is fine.

Start by cooking your onions and garlic directly in your stew pot or pressure cooker.  The only need for an additional pan here would be if you are going to use a crock pot to cook the stew.  In that case I much prefer cast iron for the browning process.

When the onions are cooked, remove from pan and turn you heat to high.  In batches, start browning your stew meat, seasoning with salt and pepper during the browning process.  *Note- Browning the stew meat in smaller batches is important.  You don’t want to over crowd your pan when browning meat.  If you do, the meat will essentially steam rather than getting that nice dark sear that you are looking for.  Give the meat some space and room to breathe.

After your meat is browned, remove the last batch and deglaze the pan with a bottle of Guinness or other dark beer, scraping the bits from the pan as you stir.  Add in your beef stock, tomato paste and all of your meat and vegetables.  You can tie your herbs into a bundle with kitchen twine or if you aren’t fancy like that, just place them on top and kind of “smoosh” them down beneath the level of the broth.

See the recipe below for cooking times & methods.

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Now, let’s talk Colcannon.

Add your bacon to a skillet and fry until crisp.  Remove from pan and add cabbage and leeks to the bacon grease and cook until tender (fresh garlic is a nice addition here too, but I was out today.)

While that is cooking, you’ll need to start some basic mashed potatoes; I won’t be going into that this time but will in a future post.

When your potatoes are mashed and seasoned the way you like, fold in the cabbage, leeks and bacon.  That’s it, Colcannon is done. 

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Now the third (and most epic) feature of this recipe, the whipped horseradish cream.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Well, maybe it’s not a secret but I didn’t catch on to this until about 2 years ago so it was big news to me.  So here goes… if you want a great punch of flavor from your horseradish you need to add… wait for it…

Sugar.  Sugar makes the flavor of horseradish really pop. 

Anyways… begin whipping your heavy cream in a stand mixer with a pinch of sugar and some freshly cracked pepper.  When the cream is whipped to stiff peaks, fold in your grated horseradish.  (Freshly grated horseradish is light and folds in nicely here, but if you are using horseradish from a jar, I suggest adding the horseradish during the whipping process. 

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So now you have all your components and all you have to do is pile it up!

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Colcannon, Stew, Horseradish Cream.  It’s a beautiful thing.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, or Tuesday, any day really will be a happy day when this is in your belly. 😉

Irish Stew with Colcannon & Whipped Horseradish Cream


Stew:

  • 2 lbs Stew Meat of choice
  • 1 lg onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 oz fresh or frozen green beans
  • 6 lg carrots, chopped
  • 1 lg bottle (mine was 1 pint 6 oz) Guinness or other dark beer
  • 1 qt Beef Stock
  • 2 Tbl tomato paste
  • 4 sprigs fresh herbs or 2 Tbl dried (I prefer rosemary and thyme for this recipe)

Saute onions and garlic until translucent, remove from pan and brown stew meat in batches (careful to not overcrowd.)  Season meat with salt and pepper while browning.  After meat is browned, deglaze pan with dark beer, scraping up any bits from bottom of the pan.  Add beef stock & tomato paste and adjust salt to taste.

Crock Pot: Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on low 8 hours.

Instant Pot: For tender meats such as elk or bear – Add all ingredients to pot and pressure for 2.5 minutes. For beef stew meat or chuck – Add meat to broth and pressure for 25 minutes, quick release pressure and add vegetables, pressuring for another 5 minutes.

Stove Top: For tender meats such as elk or bear – Add meat to pan and simmer for 1 hour, add vegetables and simmer for another 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.  For beef stew meat and chuck – Add meat to pan and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, add vegetables and simmer for another 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.

Colcannon:

  • 8 oz diced bacon
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks (green onions will also do in a pinch)
  • 4 medium potatoes, mashed and seasoned to taste
  • Crisp bacon in skillet.  Remove from pan and saute cabbage and leeks until tender.  Fold bacon and vegetables into mashed potatoes.

Whipped Horseradish Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2-4 Tbl grated horseradish (to taste)
  •  pinch sugar
  • freshly cracked pepper

Whip heavy cream in a stand mixer with a pinch of sugar and some freshly cracked pepper.  When the cream is whipped to stiff peaks, fold in your grated horseradish. (Freshly grated horseradish is light and folds in nicely here, but if you are using horseradish from a jar, I suggest adding the horseradish during the whipping process.)

To Serve:

Fill bottom of bowl with Colcannon, ladle stew over the colcannon and top with a dollop of the horseradish cream.

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