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.) 

Elderberry Syrup 2

 

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

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 15 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
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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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Healthy, Homemade Velveeta Style Cheese

As I have said before, one of my passions in cooking is Redeeming Comfort Food.  Finding ways to enjoy those foods that are total guilty pleasures and making them GUILT FREE is super fun and completely supportive of a “homestead state of mind.”  Cooking from scratch and reclaiming your health with super nutritious foods is incredibly rewarding

So what is one of the biggest guilty pleasure foods of all time?  Processed Cheese.  We can all pretend to be above such highly processed, preservative ridden junk food but lets be honest here, it’s ooey-gooey, creamy and melty in a way that in many recipes, you just can’t get with good ole’ fashioned cheese.

Or can you?

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With 3 simple ingredients, this recipe uses real food to produce the same cheesy product with no chemicals, no preservatives, no additives, no artificial ANYTHING.

In fact, the addition of a good quality gelatin actually boosts the nutritional value.

So here’s how it’s done:

Healthy, Homemade Velveeta Style Cheese

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 16 oz grated cheese
  • 1 heaping, half tablespoon gelatin
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Grate cheese of your choice.  (I used a mixture of Cheddar and Colby Jack cheese this time, whatever you have on hand will do.)
  2. “Bloom” gelatin by sprinkling it over 1 tablespoon of water in a separate bowl.
  3. Bring milk to a boil on the stove.
  4. Add grated cheese to your food processor or blender.
  5. When milk is boiling, (be careful not to scorch it) remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture.
  6. Start blender/food processor and slowly add milk mixture until will blended.
  7. Immediately scrape out your cheese mixture into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hrs or overnight.

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The possibilities are now endless for you.  The world is your bowl of Queso, or Broccoli Cheese Soup… or Green Chili Chicken Soup…

You get the idea.

Any recipe that uses processed cheese is now free game!  Go crazy!