Monday, January 31, 2011

Sausage & Corn Chowder

What a perfect night for chowder and chocolate chip cookies of course.  The snow is coming in for a promised blizzard.  We have 4 movies from the library and the boys are listening to a book on tape as I type. A cup of my favorite Market Spice tea is sitting by my computer brewing.  I love rest.  No I don't mean sleep.  I mean rest.  The pure joy if it.  We are quite spoiled by a perfect Father who I will give all praise for all we have.

Sausage & Corn Chowder
2 tablespoon butter
2 leeks, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices, white and pale green parts only
2 celery rib, thinly sliced
2 pounds new potatoes, washed and quartered
6 cups chicken broth
3 cups corn, thawed if frozen
2 cups milk or substitute
salt & pepper
pinch nutmeg
1 lb breakfast sausage

Melt butter in a soup pot. Cook breakfast sausage until done.  Add leeks and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes. Add potatoes and broth; cover and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in corn, milk, salt, and pepper, and nutmeg and cook until potatoes are very tender, about 10 minutes more.

Sauteed Spinach with Red Onion, Bacon & Blue Cheese

Oh, I love this stuff.  I seriously could eat it every day but will settle on it once a week.  I am all about variety but hold a few things that are dear to me close.  This would be one of those things.

Sauteed Spinach with Red Onion, Bacon & Blue Cheese
Cook 1/2 pound bacon until crispy, remove from pan when done.  Add 1 cup red onion thinly sliced and cook until soft.  Add 3 cloves garlic minced and cook another minute.  Add one of those huge Costco packages of fresh spinach and cook, stirring just until wilted.  Remove from heat stir in crumbled bacon and and some crumbled blue cheese.  I like a lot.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Look Ahead

Got our taxes done today.  I have always looked forward to getting our taxes done.  We have always gotten money back and look at it as a savings account we cash out each year.  Until this year.  I read an article a few days ago stating that we as the workers shouldn't look forward to a huge income tax check.  Reason being that the more money we get back means that the government just got away with holding on to our money interest free.  Do they give us money interest free to hold and give back later?  So I really am not a political person.  Don't bash me I just am not and I probably won't ever be. did help me to feel better that we didn't get a huge check.  Actually it helped me bandage the wound. 

What has that got to do with food?  A lot.  We usually buy 1/2 or so of a cow.  We are now out of beef but for a few packages.  We will have to make due until Ford's profit sharing check that we are THANKFUL to get this year.  YAY FORD!

So this week's menu will be using up the last few packages of ground beef, beef stew meat and ground sausage. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pasta with Pistachio-Lemon Pesto

Love, love, love pasta.  Yes you can love pasta and be gluten free.  I have found that Walmart carries Tinkyada for $2.98 a bag! 

Pasta with Pistachio-Lemon Pesto
Make linguine pasta according to package.  When pasta is done add 6 cups baby spinach to pot to wilt.  Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. 

In a food processor pulse:
1/4 c shallots
1/4 c lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil
1 c shelled pistachios
salt & pepper
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

Toss everything together.

Our book pile

I am always interested in what people are reading.  I love to read.  I love to read to the boys.  Right now I am reading Little Men to them.  It is SUCH a good book so far.  I could close my eyes and be right there on a sabbath walking and talking.  I am also reading to them Phineas Gage.  Do you know who he is?  I didn't.  He had an accident at work where a tapping iron went in his cheek and came out through his forehead.  He lived!  Actually went to town and told the doctor himself what happened.  This happened in 1850 when medical science was very new.  The medical field learned a lot from him. 

Dalton is reading If I Perish about a Korean teacher during WWII who was persecuted for her faith. 
Bryce is reading In the Presence of Mine Enemies about a pilot in the Navy during Vietnam who was captured.
Chandler is reading The Crew of the Dolphin about 2 boys who go out to sea and learn many lessons especially that God is in control of everything, even the sea.

I am reading several books.  The one I finished in a few days because it was so interesting but scary is The Gift of Fear.  This was a book recommended by our pastor's wife.  The Three Battlegrounds is about spiritual warfare of the mind, church and the heavens.  How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and many books on soap making and garden planning. 

We are studying Ancient Greece so I have a pile of books to read this week during school but I want to tell you about a series that we enjoy.  It is called Drive Through History.  It is a DVD and we will be watching the one on Greece this week.  Check your library, ours carries 3 of them.

What are you reading?  What are your favorite books?  Tell me!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Day at Our Breakfast Table

Mornings in our house during the week are pretty standard.  Dalton wakes up at the crack of dawn, 5:30a.m. on his own.  Even yesterday he forgot to set his alarm and woke up anyways and he credited it to God.  I am not telling you this to toot my own horn because I do not require this of  him so it isn't my horn ;)

The rest of us sane people get up at 7.  Everyone has their personal time with God before anything so I sit with my coffee for a bit in my study room.  The boys then make it around to morning chores and music.  I get to the computer to catch up and usually listen to something on  Right now I am doing a study in Revelation with J.Vernon McGee.  Really like him, it's like getting a history lesson each day.  Breakfast is about 8:30 though it can be 9:00.  With breakfast we read the Bible together.  We have been reading a Proverb a day for well 24 days now.  So today we did Proverbs 24.  We talk about verses that stick out to us or that we come upon and have been struggling with.  We came to verse 11 and I am using ESV.

Rescue those who are being taken away to death: hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. 

In small groups last night I told the girls a gruesome story about the Judas goat.  So it fit with the Proverb today so I told the boys about it.  It went like this...

Let me tell you a gruesome story about being sheep.  Well the Bible says that Jesus was led to the slaughter like a lamb.  He was being led there by God.  He knew He could trust Him and He went.  We are also told in Revelation that goats and sheep will be divided.  So we have good sheep and bad goats.  The nature of sheep is mild, trusting, followers.  Goats are obnoxious, loners, will eat anything good or bad.  In real life they train a goat to lead sheep to slaughter.  This is called a Judas goat.  We talk about why it is called a Judas goat.  I tell them that the goat will be released into the group of sheep who are huddled together.  The goat will go to another pen and one by one the sheep will follow.  I ask them to think about that a minute.  Are you that goat leading others away from Christ to slaughter.  Are you the sheep being led to the slaughter or are you a sheep being led by God.  Dalton pipes in, "can't I be a sheep dog?"  Hmmm...thanks for giving me new eyes son.  Yes you can be a sheep dog who's master is God.  Amen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.” Aesop quote

Wednesday is a busy day.  We have co-op which starts back up in 2 weeks.  That is also our library and church night.  Crockpots save me this day of the week.  Tonight is chili but since I am home this morning I am just cooking it on the stove top but the crock pot is still being used!  I buy dried beans in bulk, by the 5lb bag actually.  I always have at least 5 different beans on hand.  The problem comes in when you have forgotten to soak the beans overnight.  I know you can do the quick soak but the problem with that I will answer from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

"Such care in preparation ensures that legumes will be thoroughly digestable, and all the nutrients they provide well assimilated because such careful preparation neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and breaks down difficult to digest complex sugars.  What about canned beans?  High temperatures and pressures used in the canning process do reduce phytate content, but the danger is that such processing overdenatures proteins and other nutrients at the same time.  Canned beans are best eaten sparingly."

So what should you do?   Bulk buy several types of dried beans, ones you normally use. Take one type add them to your crock pot after looking them over.  Fill the crock pot with water.  Leave them overnight, drain the water and fill it backup.  Cook all day until tender in the crockpot.  Let cool, you can put it out in the garage during the winter and it will cool off faster.  When cool divide them into 4c portions in freezer containers.  The next day do another type of bean.  By the end of a week you will have a few months supply of beans on hand ready to go!  Makes it easy to have a quick lunch of beans and rice too!

Today's Chili
(because each time I make chili it is never the same, depends on what I have on hand)
Brown in oil, 1 huge onion, green pepper and 1c celery.  Added 2lbs ground beef and spiced until cooked:
3tbsp chili powder
2tbsp smoked paprika
1tbsp dried thyme
1tbsp salt
2tsp cumin
5 garlic cloves minced

Add 2 bags of beans, kidney & black beans.  Added 3 big cans of tomato sauce and about 3c water.  Simmer until thick.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The other white meat ~ turkey

What's for dinner tonight?  Tom and Chandler are out at a skate and pizza party for Awana.  So we at home are having turkey and lentil soup and no bake cookies.  Yes they are healthy if you are a butter loving person!  Oats, rice milk, cocoa, butter, almond butter.  Okay 2 cups of sugar is a bit much but so what. 

Turkey Lentil Soup
Bring to boil and simmer covered for 1 hour:
4cups chicken broth
4cups water
1 1/2c chopped carrot
1c chopped celery
1 chopped onion
1/2c dry lentils
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp each poultry seasoning, pepper, ground sage

Brown together in a skillet then add to soup when done:
1 lb ground turkey
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/8 tsp each nutmeg, dried sage, dried thyme

No Bake Cookies
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup rice milk
1 cup almond butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups organic oatmeal
Waxed paper

In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter Borscht

Borscht - a Russian and Polish soup based on beetroot

Before you mark this one off because of the beets let me give you some nutritional information.

Nutritional Value of Red Beets

Red beets are favored over white beets for their juicy edible qualities and medicinal properties. Beets are a rich source of energy as they are full of nutrients and fiber. Following are some of the important nutritional value of beets.

Potassium: One cup of beet contains 518.50 mg of potassium. Potassium is essential for the normal functioning of the kidneys. It aids in muscle contraction and a good level of potassium will ensure that muscles do not weaken. A good level is also necessary to maintain the correct balance of water electrolytes inside the human body.

Iron: One cup of beet provides the body with 1.34 mg of iron. Iron is essential for maintaining smooth functionality of almost all body parts. The most common problem associated with iron deficiency is anemia. Beet juice is recommended to increase the blood count for anemic as well as for those who have lost a lot of blood due to accidents, mensuration, etc. The leaves of beet plant have much higher content of iron compared to spinach.

Manganese: Our body needs about 12 to 20 mg of manganese for normal bone development, and for production of thyroxine, which is the main hormone of the thyroid gland. It is useful to build protein such as nucleic acid. Manganese is a trace mineral concentrated mainly in the kidney, liver, pancreas, skin, muscles and bones. It helps in active absorption of biotin, vitamin B1 and vitamin C. One cup of beet adds 0.55 mg manganese in the body.

Magnesium: Magnesium is absorbed in the small intestines and excreted through the kidneys. It is essential for normal muscle and nerve function, and boosting the immune system. It is known to prevent hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A proper level of magnesium is needed to ensure a healthy regulation of blood sugar levels and blood pressure. One can get 39.10 mg of magnesium just by an intake of one cup of beet.
Phosphorus: Phosphorus is extremely essential for the formation of strong bones and teeth. It aids in speedy development and repair of connective tissues and cells, and for the production of the genetic building blocks; RNA and DNA. It plays an important role in maintaining a normal pH balance, and balances and metabolizes many important vitamins and minerals. One cup of beet provides the body with 64.60 mg of phosphorus.

Winter Borscht
Brown in oil in a big soup pot:
1c chopped onions
1lb beef stew meat in small chunks

Add and boil until tender and thick:
8c water (you can also use beef broth and add more if needed)
2c chopped potatoes
1/2 head cabbage shredded
3 beets cleaned, chopped with stems
1 large carrot chopped
1/2c lentils
2 bay leaves
2tbsp dill weed dried
salt & pepper
***I also added fennel as I had it in my fridge

10 minutes before serving add:
chopped parsley
chopped green onions

Seriously this is good stuff! 

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

This is not my recipe I got it from the celiac board.  It is good though!  I crave these!  We have tried them with several nut butters and my favorite is almond butter.  Try using dark brown sugar sometime too.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky/crunchy
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional—mini, regular size, or chocolate chunks)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients (except chocolate chips) together well. Last, add chocolate chips (if desired) and mix well. Grease or moisten hands slightly and form dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls on ungreased cookie sheet. (DO NOT press down as in some traditional recipes. See exception in notes below.) Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown and cookies look “set,” but not done. Do not overcook. Then allow cookies to sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. (This step is very important, because cookies finish cooking during this time and totally set up.) Remove cookies for cooling. Makes about 24 – 30 cookies. If you want to turn these cookies into a really decadent treat, get out your jar of Nutella and spread some on the underside of one cookie and then press another cookie on top (top side out).
Shirley’s Notes: Do not use low-fat peanut butter; the cookies will not turn out correctly. I use Jif (all are GF), but it’s my understanding that Peter Pan (all), Planters (Creamy and Crunchy), Reeses, and Skippy (Creamy, Crunchy, Super Crunchy, Roasted Honey Nut) are also GF. One reader/tester successfully made these using all natural peanut butter, but advises that you must press them down a bit before baking—with a fork or the bottom of glass will work—for them to spread enough. Ensure your vanilla and chocolate chips are GF. I make my own vanilla, but most are gluten free (e.g., McCormick’s).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Have you thrown a blessing dinner party? Why not?

“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink…” ~Epicurus

So I stole that saying from another blog but really it just fits.  I am going to let you in on a little secret plan.  I told you before God was leading me in a new direction right now.  Well, last night was the first of many parties.  Yes, a party!  A celebration! 

One day I was sitting around sulking.  Yep, sure was.  As some of you know my family is back in Alabama and Tom's family is in Michigan.  Our hope was to have Tom's mom live with us and after repeated arrows thrown at our hearts of her not choosing us she had finally agreed and she fell and broke her pelvic bone.  After that fall she decided to stay in the nursing home.  So when holidays roll around there is a small corner of my heart that hurts.  God started showing me that He will fill that corner and He will use people to do it.  I started to try and look at all I have to be thankful for.  You know reverse psychology.  It worked.  Okay I give credit to God alone not psychology.  He also placed a desire in my heart to be active in blessing my family and friends.  And to me that means food.  Seriously you DID see that coming right?

So as God places my friends on my heart I am planning a blessing dinner party.  I have been studying blessings since before Christmas.  There is a lot to say about blessings in the Bible.  I especially like the ones that are spoken.  The ones you say to someones face.  I soon started going to each of my children and asking God to bless them in what they had before them that day.  I started going to my husband and asking God to bless him.  You know what?  They returned the blessing! 

This is what my thoughts are so far, blessings are God's idea.  They come from Him.  If you bless someone or someone blesses you it really started with God's thought about that person.  So God uses you to let that person know they are loved.  It is not about what you do to "bless" that person, it really isn't about you at all. 

So God use me to bless my friends and family.  May our Lord bless you and show you His love for you today. 

Oh and here is the recipe for the caramel cake I made last night!
Caramel Cake

Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
Flour for dusting the pans
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
1 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Quick Caramel Frosting (see below)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.
Place the cake mix, milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.
Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 27 to 29 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each onto a rack, then invert them again onto another rack to that the cakes are right side up. Allow them to cool completely, 30 minutes more.
Meanwhile, prepare the Quick Caramel Frosting.
Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with the warm frosting. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with clean, smooth strokes. Work quickly, as the frosting will set. (If the frosting gets too hard to work with, place the pan back over low heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly, to soften it up.) Once the frosting has set, slice and serve.
Store this cake, covered in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.
Quick Caramel Frosting
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place the butter and brown sugars in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir and cook until the mixture comes to a boil, about 2 minutes. Add the milk, stir, and bring the mixture back to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon until the frosting is smooth.
Use immediately (while still warm) to frost the cake of your choice or the frosting will harden. If it does harden while you are frosting the cake, simply place the pan back over low heat and stir until the frosting softens up.
Makes 3 cups, enough to frost a 2- or 3-layer cake

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tangy Carrot Chowder

If you noticed my weekly menu plan for the week to the right this should read: Round steak, green beans & oven fries.  Do you ever keep up with your plan?  I seldom do.  Tonight is Tangy Carrot Chowder.  Have never made it before but it sounds good.  Along with a caramel cake I am making for Monday night that I tried out on the family tonight.  They don't mind, really!

Tangy Carrot Chowder
Brown 1lb ground beef in a large soup pot.

Add and cook until vegetables are tender, 20-30 minutes.  Adjust seasonings to taste and add more water if needed. 
4c tomato sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 1/2c shredded carrots
1/2c chopped celery
1/2c chopped onion
1/2c chopped green pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp celery salt or seed
salt & pepper
1 1/2c water (optional)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Haggai 2:11-13

We have been to Michigan and Chicago these past few days.  We had a great time visiting with Grandma Alice.  The boys played music for her and she enjoyed it very much.  It was such a good visit, unlike past visits.  We prayed for her before we left and Tom prayed a blessing over her and she was pleased.  We have wished she was with us or closer to us but we will just have to make it a point to go see her more often. 

On the way we listened to several tapes by Vision Forum.  One guy introduced what he calls the Hug a Pig Principle.  I have thought about it often since then and have read several Bible versions to gain more clarification.  I have never heard it used the way he used it and I am really not sure why??

Haggai 2:11-13 (New International Version, ©2010)

11 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’”
The priests answered, “No.”
13 Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?”
“Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”

By questioning the priests, Haggai establishes that an unclean thing can defile a clean thing (2:11–13).

First of all I know that my children and myself for that matter have to live in the world.  But I also know we are not to be of it.  Second I have not come to a complete understanding of this passage but I think it is very appropriate.  I mean I use to be told, I think as the boys have become older the questions don't come so often, that they should be salt to the world.  I am told that God uses young people just like He does the older.  Somehow I must have implied that I don't believe that as well.  I do believe that.  But what about the verses that say we are to be innocent?  That we should not walk, stand and sit with sinners. 

I think these verses say
1.  Cleanliness can not be transferred
2.  Defilement can be transferred

So if you hug a pig will the pig become clean or will you become dirty?

What are your thoughts? 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cheeseburger Potato Soup

What a great beginning to 2011.  This week looks promising too, Tom is HOME!  We are taking a trip to Michigan, going to Whole Foods and looking forward to the remaining school year.  I am reading a cookbook, Simply In Season.  As I sit and look at the seed catalogs coming in to give me fresh hope I am loving this book.  Last year I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  As I look at our garden plan it helps to look at what will be in season and try to plan so I will have enough to harvest and eat in season and enough to preserve.  I think it is wise to eat food in season.  I also think it is wise to eat food out of season that you have personally harvested and preserved.  So this week's menu I am  looking to eat food in season even if not here in Indiana as there is nothing growing.

Cheeseburger Potato Soup
Saute 2 tbsp butter , 1/2c onion and 1lb ground beef and cook until meat is done.

Add, cover and cook until tender:
3c potatoes, diced
2c broth (turkey today)
salt & pepper
1/4c celery, chopped
1/2c carrots, chopped
1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Mix together 2c milk or alternative in our case (almond milk) and 3tbsp flour or alternative in our case (arrowroot powder).  Add to soup.

When done, add your favorite hamburger cheese.  Mine is blue cheese!  You can also blend some of the mixture to make it creamier.
This serves 3-4 so with 3 boys I WILL be doubling it.

May God's face shine on you and me this year.