Desserts, Food

Delish Baked Apple and Peach Crisp {a gluten-free take on a family favorite recipe}

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Ready for some awesome baked goodness? Of course you are! It’s nearly fall, summer is wrapping up and comfort food season is coming this way😋

There’s something about fall dessert. It’s texture, flavor, warmth. Just gives you a warm and cozy feeling and puts you in your happy place.

Right?

Now growing up, there was one comfort food that my mom made that I always associated with fall. It could be made all year of course (but everyone knows apples are best when autumn arrives😉).

And not just any apples. Mom was always admanant. They must be granny smith. No other apple will do because the flavor will be so different and not quite pitch-perfect and balanced.

Man, I can taste it just describing it.

My mom always and I mean always made the best apple crisp. She would say, “the recipe isn’t actually all that special” or “it’s so easy to make”. Never understanding the way we fawned over that lovely dessert.

 

Mom you made it special. That was why.

It was special in it’s simplicity.

Special just because it was.

 

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Special notes about the recipe:

My mom’s recipe is totally the best, but I was craving a peach crisp. Not wanting to do all peaches, I added some apples for an extra flavor and texture boost.

Then of course I used gluten-free flour in the topping. For my recipe I used up the little bit of the all purpose flour blend I had. (I used the living now gluten-free brand.) It was only about 1 1/2 Tablespoons, so I put that in my 1/2 cup measuring cup and filled it the rest of the way with oat flour.

Oat flour is easy to make. Take some quick oats, throw them in the blender and pulse until the texture becomes fine. Then sift it and walla! Flour.

For the sugar, it was the same concept. I used a total of 2/3 cup sugar, but 3 Tablespoons of it was coconut sugar, the rest was brown sugar.

All of these additions made for a magnificent, and I mean magnificent final product. *kisses fingers like an Italian*. Haha. 🍏🍑😍


Delish Baked Apple & Peach Crisp

Serves: 4-6

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 peaches, sliced thin, pitted and peeled
  • 1-2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup/70g gluten-free flour*
  • 1/2 cup/70g quick oats
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 7 Tablespoons, 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup/67g butter, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

*I used 1 1\2 Tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour blend and the remainder oat flour, see above discription of flour under the above section “special notes about the recipe”.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 395°.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together flour(s), oats, sugar(s), and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
  3. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and work it in by hand (my method) or with a potato masher. The texture will be chunky.
  4. Place fruit in a medium bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Toss gently by hand to avoid breaking up the delicate fruit slices. Place the fruit in a 1.5 quart casserole dish.
  5. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and evenly distribute.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cost:

This recipe cost me $3.37 to make. That’s 84¢/serving when divided into 4 portions and 56¢/serving for 6.

Fairly cheap, but even if it wasn’t I wouldn’t care ’cause it’s so delicious!

Enjoy!

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Beverages, Food

Simple Fall “Smoothie” {gluten-free, dairy-free & made with butternut squash!}

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I don’t know about you, but I love butternut squash.

Love it. Since I’ve started going gluten-free I’ve had to look for substitutions and replacements for the wheat products I can no longer have.

So some nights I’ll fix myself some butternut squash when everyone else is having noodles or stuffing or whatnot.

I don’t typically eat a whole squash, so I’ll save the remainder, along with the cooking water so that I can make a puree. I usually throw it in the fridge so I can make it up in the morning. 😝

Sometimes I’ll use that to make some gluten-free muffins…made a triple batch of butternut squash and apple muffins last time.

But here I decided to make some smoothies.

Last year, I posted a recipe for a Pumpkin Spice Smoothie. I used a pie pumpkin to make that recipe. However, later that season I tried making it with butternut squash and I actually preferred it to the pumpkin.

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Overall, the taste and color I like much better than the pumpkin smoothie. It tastes much more like “pumpkin” than the actual pumpkin! Haha. I think of pumpkin pie Blizzard’s and actual pumpkin pie when I drink this. It would be good with dairy or non-dairy whipped cream too!

Cost:

This recipe cost me $1.57 to make a 16oz smoothie. That’s about 70¢ more than the pumpkin smoothie. Mainly because the price of almond milk at my Aldi store has increased, but also because the pumpkin was a bit cheaper.

You can find the recipe—->> here.

Enjoy!

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Food, Seasonal Food

A Saucy Summer {canning tomato sauce, salsa and a peek at my canning season}

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Hello everyone and welcome to canning season! Haha I just felt like saying that since it feels like it’s all I’ve been doing lately. 😴

I feel like I’ve been canning non-stop, but looking back at the dates on my jars I’ve just done a few things back to back with a week or so break.

The latest and greatest food on my canning list is toe-maye-toes.

I love tomatoes, but I’m beginning to get sick of the overabundance. So as with any other thing, when it’s in season and a good price, I buy a lot and preserve it.

This year, my canning goals for tomatoes was a bit lofty. In my head I ticked off all the jars I wanted to can. “Oh hey, I’ll just do 20 cans of spagetti sauce, 20 jars of salsa, like 8 of ketchup and 8 of red enchilada sauce.”

Eating.

My.

Words.

Y’all.

First of all, I would need 40 lbs of tomatoes to accomplish this. Which worked out to be about $60 worth. Hmm. No….?

Secondly, when I took home my *ahem* 20lbs of gorgeous tomatoes, I rather humorously misjudged how long it takes tomatoes to cook down.

There’s a reason they say to use paste tomatoes.

That reason is largely to avoid the transformation of yourself into an irate raving lunatic because your tomato sauce literally took 6 hours to can.

Six hours.

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But I got some lovely photos out of it at least. 😄 I cut up 10lbs of peeled tomatoes and made 3 1/2 pints of sauce with it.

The 20 pints will not be happening.

Oh well.

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The sauce was absolutely gorgeous though. We ended up having pasta that night with some of the extra sauce.

Here is a look at the tomato sauce (left) and salsa (far right).

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The salsa is very good, I used the recipe for Roasted Tomato-Lime Salsa from the book Foolproof Preserving: A Guide to Small Batch Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Condiments & More, which I mentioned I was borrowing in a few of last year’s canning posts. I ended up purchasing a copy because I think it is wonderously helpful.

I love the small batches, unique recipes and easy to follow directions in this book. Not paid to say that, just truly love it. 😄

Here’s a little peek at the other things I’ve been canning⤵⤵⤵

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Yummy fruit…cherry preserves, peach jam, canned peach chunks in apple juice, applesauce (looks strangely white).

Pickled things & condiments…dill pickle spears, pickled watermelon rind, and zucchini relish.

It’s been a saucy summer and thankfully I’m running out of things to can!

Any canning plans for yourself? I’ve been admiring the canning posts here on WordPress. I love all the unique and beautiful food!

Do you have any favorite home canned foods?

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Food, Lunch/Simple Meal

Garlic Butter Shrimp with Quiona, Brown Rice and Garden Fresh Peas

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Garlic butter makes everything better. It’s a known fact.

Well, you know. Savory dishes. Like pizza, and pasta.

And shrimp.

Of course shrimp.

I made this delicious lunch yesterday and it was so wonderful that I had to share. It was the first time I had ever made this recipe.

Ask any food blogger and they will probably say that the first time isn’t always a charm when it comes to new recipes.

But I’m glad it was the case here. Garlic butter and shrimp are like a married couple. They just go together. And quiona makes rice taste better and kicks up the protein a notch. Then some super fresh garden peas gives it a bright and beautiful punch of color and texture.

All together, these foods just made an awesome combo.

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Most of you know what quiona looks like when it’s done, but for anyone who isn’t sure, here it is. The edges of the quiona will become white and start to peel off a bit.

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Quiona, rice and peas are re-day! The texture should be more on the dry side so it absorbs the soy sauce and garlic butter better. Butter better. Haha.

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😋😋

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Garlic Butter Shrimp with Quiona, Brown Rice & Garden Fresh Peas

 

Difficulty: Easy

Serves: 1-2

Prep time: 3 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup-3/4 cup medium cooked frozen shrimp
  • 3-4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup quiona
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • handful of fresh peas (frozen works too!)
  • low sodium soy sauce, to taste

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a small skillet. Add garlic just before butter has completely melted. Cook 1 minute.
  2. Add shrimp. Saute for a few minutes.
  3. Next, cook the quiona according to the package directions. (About 1 cup water with the 1/4 cup of quiona, simmered for 15 minutes.)
  4. When the quiona is completely cooked, add the rice and peas, along with a 1/2 cup of water. Cook for about 5 minutes, or till heated through and peas turn bright green. The texture should be dry, not wet.
  5. Plate up! Spoon rice mixture onto plate and toss lightly with your desired amount of soy sauce. Spoon shrimp and garlic butter over rice.
  6. Serve & eat!

 

Cost:

It cost me $2.69 to make this entree for lunch yesterday. And it made a lot! I had 2 helpings, with some leftover. Definitely getting your money’s worth here, and lots of protein to boot!

Enjoy!

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Food, Snacks

Super Easy Peanut Butter, Oat & Cinnamon Cookies {no-bake, gluten-free, dairy-free and no refined sugar}

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These cookies have taken me for a stroll down memory lane. You can relax though…no long stories (today that is haha).

I remember eating these cookies when I was pregnant with my daughter (she’s now 2). I needed a quick snack with some protein to get me through some of those rough days. (Pregnancy isn’t all rainbows…sometimes you hate eating protein and can’t stand around a hot kitchen for long…oh the fun.)

Nowadays I have different nutritional needs. I’ve recently been trying to go gluten-free because I’ve been noticing some food sensitivity after eating wheat products.

This morning I wanted toast so much. I haven’t jumped into the gluten-free bread melee just yet. So gluten-free bread there was none.

But I thought hmm…maybe I can whip up some breakfast cookies.

So I hopped on Pinterest and looked up the No Bake Healthy Breakfast Cookies, from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.

I changed things up a bit and the result is the recipe that you will see below.

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Super Easy Peanut Butter, Oat & Cinnamon Cookies

Prep/hands on time: 15 minutes or less

Difficulty: Easy

Serves: 4-6 (maybe 😉)

 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a few sprinkles pink Himalayan salt
  • *1/2 cup plain cheerios, crushed
  • **1/4 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats

*I put some cheerios in a ziplock bag and crunched them up with a heavy glass cup.

**I like to make a bunch of oat flour in the blender so I don’t have to make it every time. Then I sift it through a mesh strainer to get a fine texture.

Directions

  1. Place cheerios, oat flour, quick oats and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. Measure the peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt into a medium saucepan.
  3. Set heat to medium high and stir till melted and thoroughly mixed. (Or you can use a microwave to melt the ingredients.)
  4. Pour and scrape the melted peanut butter mixture into the bowl you set aside and stir it into the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Shape into 16 or so small balls.
  6. Place on a plate and dust with cinnamon.
  7. Flatten and criss-cross with a fork.
  8. Eat!

 

Price Breakdown:

It cost me $1.54 to make 16 of these cookies. That’s only a little under 10¢ per cookie!

Enjoy!

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Beverages, Food

Easy Strawberry-Coconut-Chia Milkshake {dairy-free, gluten-free & paleo friendly}

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Last night my family and I binged out on homemade popcorn. It was delicious, as always.

But it left me feeling super-thirsty. So after I cleaned up the kitchen I made up a nice little milkshake. Everybody knows mundane chores go by way faster when you have a reward dangling at the end 😉

So I mixed up this and that, keeping in mind my Pumpkin smoothie recipe. Except this time it was strawberries.

I love strawberries 🍓🍓🍓Don’t you? (Strawberry allergy sufferers, you have my sympathy.)

No fresh strawberries this time, but maybe there will be more on that in the future. This time I used frozen, which I bought on sale, too. Yay!

Strawberry season in the midwest will be here soon & I can hardly wait.

This is a good strawberry recipe to whet your appetite. The concept of “rubbing x food through a seive” is one I learned from reading old school cookbooks. I’m thinking it was what people used before blenders.

But anyways. Here’s some photos, with the recipe to follow. My daughter and I fully enjoyed it both times (yes today and last night, it was that good 😋).

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Easy Strawberry-Coconut-Chia Milkshake

Prep/hands on time: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Makes one 16oz serving.

 

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 frozen strawberries, diced
  • *a drizzle of raw honey
  • **10oz/300ml vanilla almond milk
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chia seeds

*using an alternative liquid sweeter, such as maple syrup would make this recipe vegan.

**any kind of non-dairy milk will work here. If you can have cow’s milk, that works too.

 

Directions:

  1. Pour the diced strawberries into a pint mason jar, or any desired container with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Add the honey and stir well.
  3. Add the almond milk, attach the lid and shake it up.
  4. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the strawbwrry mixture into the bowl. Rub the strawberries through the strainer with a metal spoon (until you have extracted as much strawberries as you can).
  5. Set the strained strawberries aside.
  6. Pour the strawberry mixture into a glass and add the chia seeds. Stir.
  7. Top with a dollop or two of the coconut “cream” and the leftover strained strawberries.

 

Cost:

This recipe was fairly cheap, although I used a bit too much coconut cream in my recipe. Using much less of it would bring the price down from $3.06 to about $2.06. Still, at 19¢ an oz it’s not a bad price.

Got any favorite drinks to keep you cool this summer?

Enjoy!

Note: I realize that pictures of the topping when contrasted with the directions may be a bit misleading. In the photos, I did not “scoop on a dollop”. Instead, I whipped the cream. However, it was very liquid-y and I thought I could firm it up by freezing it, which didn’t exactly work out according to plan. But it did make the cream nice and smooth. So my recommendation is to save yourself some effort and just add a scoop on top. I sandwiched the leftover strawberries between layers of the coconut cream, in case you are wondering where it went 😉 Hope that makes sense!

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Beverages, Food

Chickweed and Cantaloupe Smoothie {with banana, strawberry and oats}

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So. *glances at clock* It is rather late on this Friday night but a promise is a promise. I said that I’d share my chickweed smoothie recipe today.

And so never fear, my loyal readers. I shall share it! *cue superhero music* To the blender!

(This recipe was alluded to in my last post: Two Ways to Eat Chickweed {spring foraging fun}.)

If you didn’t read the post, here is a quick summary⤵⤵⤵

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This⬆⬆⬆  and this ⤵⤵⤵ is chickweed.

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  • It grows in your yard.
  • It is an edible weed.
  • Birds/chicks like to eat it, hence the name.
  • It is full of vitamin C.
  • It tastes a little like spinach, but on the bland side.

Perfect for smoothies. And so I came up with the………..

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Chickweed and Cantaloupe Smoothie

Servings: 1-2

Cook/prep time: 10 minutes or less

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole frozen banana, diced
  • 4 frozen strawberries, diced
  • 3 smallish cubes cantaloupe
  • a handful of well rinsed chickweed, torn into a few pieces
  • a handful of *quick oats
  • about 1/2 TBS cocoa powder
  • 1-2 cups (240-480mL) unsweetened vanilla almond milk

*gluten-free oats will make this recipe gluten and dairy-free.

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender from first to last. (Fruit first, almond milk last.) I poured in almond milk until it reached the 2 cup line.
  2. Give it a quick stir.
  3. Blend on high until you reach your desired texture.

Cost:

I calculated that this smoothie cost me no more than $1.40. And that is probably overestimating. That’s about 70¢ per 8oz/240mL serving. Pretty good deal, eh?

Enjoy your smoothie! Let me know if you try it with the chickweed. It’s totally worth looking ridiculous for as your neighbors stare at you ripping it out of your yard. Haha! Promise! 😝😉

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Food, Lunch/Simple Meal

Nourishing Lentil Stew with Daikon and Sweet Potato

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Today for the second time in 3 days, the weather has chosen to deviate from acceptable “spring” conditions to an unacceptable wintry mix of horror.

It has been snowing.

Monday-snow.

Tuesday-rain (and lots of it) ☔ ☔ ☔

Wednesday-snow. Coupled windy-like blustery weather reminiscent of a hurricane.

What??

Quit it winter. Goooo away. Seriously.

 

So I decided that if the weather is going to be wacky and un-spring-like, I was going to make a dish of food that was reflective of that.

I made a lentil stew using a bunch of veggies, some of them spring veggies.

Take that, winter weather.

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I began by thawing and heating some chicken bone broth in my dutch oven. Then I cooked up some lentils.

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Next was more chicken broth and a plethora of vegetables. Onion, carrots, daikon, red radishes, beet and sweet potato. The only seasoning I used was thyme and salt. Keepin’ it simple is my jam 😝😎😋

I just added what I had and went a little bit out of my comfort zone with the flavor. But it turned out well.

For this recipe, I cut the carrots, sweet potato, and beet into smaller pieces so they would cook faster. The onions, daikon and radishes will not need as long to cook, so you could add them in last if you want a chunkier stew.

And don’t feel like you have to use any veggies you don’t like or have. Make it fun, make it you. 😋

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Nourishing Lentil Stew with Daikon and Sweet Potato

Serves: 4-6

Cook time: about 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups/46oz/1,680mL homemade chicken bone broth, divided.*
  • 3/4 cup/113g lentils
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 small piece daikon, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 2 red radishes, thinly sliced.
  • a few slices of fresh beet, sliced.
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt

*I used a combination of chicken bone broth (4 cups/960mL) and chicken soup base+water (3 cups/720mL, I used Gia Russa brand).

 

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, add lentils to 4 cups/960mL of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prep the veggies. When the lentils are done, add in the 3 cups/720mL remaining chicken broth, veggies and seasonings.
  3. Cook on medium high heat, uncovered, until carrots, sweet potatoes and beets are done.

 

Cost:

I estimated that it cost me about $2.05 to make this pot of stew. That’s 51¢ per 4 (large) servings. If you divide it into 6 servings, that’s 34¢ per serving.

Cheap, filling, delicious and nutritious.

Enjoy!

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Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 4, Dessert & Beverage)

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Welcome back my wonderful readers to this Moroccan edition of Global Eats! It’s been a wonderful journey 😄

Here we are at Part 4, the end of my research and recipes on Morocco, and possibly the end of Global Eats for a time.

You can view parts I-III below, if ya care to:

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2, Condiment)

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 3, Main Dish)

But today, oh today is about….

Dessert! (And tea…but mostly dessert!)

I’m pretty excited for this one. How about you? Today I am sharing pictures from a recipe for Moroccan Coconut and Semolina Cookies, from blog Tajoon.

What I love about this blog is that it is authentic Moroccan food from a Moroccan blogger.

Loubna lives in the states but is from Morocco. One issue I had with this series is that it was difficult to find authentic recipes from Moroccan bloggers. This site has quite a few awesome recipes & I was happy to find it.

Making the Coconut and Semolina Cookies

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Here is the set up for the cookies. I planned to make a 1/2 batch.

I subbed a few ingredients here. I didn’t have much white sugar (I try not to use it too much) so I used part white sugar and part coconut sugar.

Because the coconut flakes I had were on the chunky side, I ground them down a bit with a mortar and pestle to give it a finer texture.

Then lastly, I did not have orange water but I used what rose water I had. That stuff smells so good! 🌹😊

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A half batch made 12 good-sized cookies.

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These were messy, oh so messy to make. But fun and pretty easy.

As the cookies cooled, I made a cup of chocolate mint tea and let it steep for a good hour or so.

Then I added some raw honey and poured it into a pretty glass jelly jar.

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What I Love About This Recipe

Several things. First of all…

  • It’s dairy-free.
  • It uses a flour I’ve never worked with before.
  • And you don’t have to chill the dough.

Taste

The taste is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in a cookie. Like I said, I’ve never used semolina flour. The texture is a bit like fine cornmeal.

Texture

The texture of these cookies is what I would call crunchy. But not crispy. The semolina flour and coconut gave these cookies a good bit of texture. To me they tasted like a crispy waffle.

After letting these cookies sit overnight, I would say that the texture improved. The cookies were less crunchy and softer in texture.

I think this is the same concept as a cake made with oil. The first day it’s a bit dry. So you let it sit and its better the next day.

Taste

Not a whole lot of taste going on. Maybe this is due to the coconut sugar? There is some flavor from the coconut flakes and flour but it’s not like the dramatically flavored and sweetened American cookies I know.

But that’s probably a good thing. More sugar=more cravings=you can’t stop eating them=sugar crash.

These are good cookies and they do go well with the sweetened mint tea. They go well with a hot beverage the same way that biscotti goes well with coffee or whatnot. Although I’ve heard most Italians like their biscotti with wine…

Conclusion

Quick Preserved lemons, Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine and Coconut and Semolina Cookies.

Thus ends the Moroccan edition of my Global Eats series. Hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the beautiful and uniquely delicious country of Morocco.

It’s been far from a complete culinary experience but I’ve had a lot of fun learning about so many unique dishes and flavors. And I’ve enjoyed sharing some of what I’ve learned with you guys. 🙂

It’s been a fun series but I’m looking forward to writing about other things.

I just finished planning my garden today so perhaps that will be one of the upcoming categories.

Thank-you for following along & God bless!

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Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 3, Main Dish)

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Introduction

Hello and welcome back to the Global Eats series! This is country #2 in my new series.

 

Previously in the series on Morocco I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2, Condiment)

Check it out if you wish! Post #1 will give you a bit of background if you are not familiar with the food/culture of the country.

Goals for the Series

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1.  How do people in other countries save money on food?
  2.  What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

In my intro post, I covered question #2. I learned a lot about the common foods eaten and grown in Morocco.

And then in my last post, I shared my experience with preserving lemons. Why did I bother? Well because preserved lemons are awesome, obviously (nevermind the fact that I had no idea what they were for until I started reading about Morocco).

But mainly because I wanted to make tagine, and all Moroccan tagines call for preserved lemon.

 

The Main Dish: Moroccan Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine

The photos I’m sharing today are guided by the recipe for tagine which was created by The Daring Gormet.

Check out the site {via the link above} for the recipe 😊

And you may be wondering…ok so what is a tagine? Glad you asked!

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See the pots in the front that look like flower vases with a wide base? Those are tagines. They are cooking pots, for cooking..you guessed it. Tagines. How do they work?

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A tagine has 2 pieces. The bottom part is a bowl and the top part is the lid. The food is cooked on the stove and then served as is.

The cool part about a tagine pot is that the shape is created so that the moisture rises and drips down back to the food, keeping it moist and tender. Much like a crockpot or a dutch oven. (I used the latter.)

You may be wondering where the tagine pot originally came from and who invented it. I’m not 100% sure on this one. Most sources said that nomads in North Africa used them, although no specific country or person was credited.

It’s a really cool invention huh? Kinda like the predecessor to the modern day crock pot. Super cool.

Cooking it Up

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First of all, this was really good. Second of all there are 3 ingredients here that I want to spend a bit of time talking about.

Preserved Lemon

I talked about this in my previous post. I wasn’t 100% sure on why this was a necessary ingredient in tagine until I actually tried the dish.

I don’t know what the 4-week preserved lemons are supposed to taste like but I think the quick preserved lemons I used turned out well.

The recipe just called for 1/2 of a preserved lemon so I just added 2 pieces of it to the pot. I didn’t cut it up, just left it whole because I wasn’t so sure about eating it, to be honest.

Harissa

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I purchased this harissa hot sauce from Amazon. I thought about making my own, but ended up not doing so because I couldn’t find the right kind of peppers.

The ingredients in the picture are tiny but it says “Rehydrated chilli 52%, water, modified starch corn, salt, garlic, coriander, caraway, acidity regulator: citric acid”.

And yep it is hot. I tried a very small amount and it tasted chock full of cayenne pepper. The recipe called for 1 Tablespoon of it which I thought might be too much…but it ended up being perfect and wonderfully balanced.

Couscous

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I used this kind of couscous instead of following the directions in the recipe because I couldn’t find plain couscous at the store.

It ended up being really good and it went with the recipe pretty well. Garlic couscous is the way to go 😉

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Alright back to the food.

Flavors

What did this dish taste like?

There were a lot, and I mean A LOT of flavors going on here. Let me break it down.

  • Spices. right away I could taste cinnamon, followed by turmeric. Cumin slightly.
  • Spicy. The harissa I could taste, but it wasn’t overly powerful. The spiciness was pleasant & lingered.
  • Sweet. there was definitely a sweet element with the raisins and butternut squash. I couldn’t taste or find the apricot but I’m sure it added to the sweetness as well.
  • Sour. I could taste the preserved lemon in places. I didn’t eat the actual pieces but the lemon flavor was definitely more mellow but still had that bright citrus taste.

Overall this was very good. I loved the complex flavor. The sweet and spicy was balanced. There was great texture with the chickpeas, butternut squash and dried fruit.

The slivered almonds added an unfamiliar crunch that I didn’t especially care for, and yet it didn’t make me want to stop eating 😋😋

Saving Money

The last element I want to briefly mention are the frugal aspects of this dish. Looking at this meal, you wouldn’t think it is frugal at first because it has 25 ingredients. I used 22 and 6 of those are seasonings.

Also, just want to mention that this makes a lot of food. Like 4 generous servings, at least.

Another thing I see here is that the ingredients with the larger amounts are pretty cheap. Butternut squash, couscous and garbanzo beans are all pretty inexpensive. 

Also, there was only 1 pound of chicken in the whole recipe. Adding chickpeas and almonds adds more protein and keeps the cost down.

Basically:

  • Lots of spices & seasonings
  • Small amounts of pricier food.
  • Keep expensive meats at minimum.
  • Add alternate sources of protein.
  • Bulk up on produce.

 

Conclusion

What I love about this series is that I (sometimes) think that people around the world are so different but I am everytime so pleasantly suprised that we are so similar and have so much in common.

There are differences in our surroundings, in our countries. But in the end we all just want good, delicious and frugal food.

Stay tuned for more Moroccan food! The next post will be either a side dish or dessert. Haven’t decided yet 😃

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Desserts, Food

Yummy Fudgy Brownies {quick and healthy-ish}

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any new recipes. I made these wonderful brownies yesterday because of my brownie-loving children. And ok, I’m guilty too.

I made them because the only way I could get my son to come inside was by bribing him with brownies. (It was in the 70s yesterday. Not common for February, but we weren’t complaining!)

So when we came inside, I needed something fast. And delicious of course. I looked up Rachael Ray’s Fast Fudgy Brownies but had to substitute and finangle a few things.

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The end result turned out really well. My son didn’t seem bothered at all with the changes. All he wanted was brownies 🙂

These brownies have a dense, slightly chewy texture. The chia seeds add another element to the texture that I found myself enjoying. These brownies are wonderfully moist and delicious.

I will say these are a tad more salty than what I’m used to on account of the coconut sugar. Less sweetness means the saltiness isn’t as balanced. So I may try less coconut sugar or just use unsalted butter next time.

Still. We loved them 😊

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Yummy Fudgy Brownies

Servings: about 8

Prep time: 15 minutes or less.

Bake time: 25 minutes.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons/50g. butter
  • 6 Tablespoons/53g. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons/25g. shortening
  • 3/4 cup/105g. coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup/35g. white/granulated sugar
  • 2 chia eggs**
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2mL vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup+2 Tablespoons/53g. white flour
  • 2 Tablespoons/18g. whole wheat flour

**I made 2 chia eggs following the directions from minimalist baker: 2 TBS/19g. chia seeds, 5 TBS/75mL water. Mix and let set till goopy.

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°/200°C. Grease and flour a 5×8″/12.5×20cm pan. (Or similar size.)
  2. Melt shortening, butter and cocoa powder in a small pan. Stir till smooth and melted.
  3. Add melted chocolate mixture to a bowl, along with sugars, chia eggs, vanilla and salt.
  4. Stir in flour. Empty thick batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 400°/200°C for about 25 minutes. Check for donness by inserting a thin knife, skewer or toothpick into the center. A clean utensil indicates doneness.

 

Cost:

This recipe cost me $2.97 to make. That’s 37¢ per serving (1 brownie).

Enjoy!

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***I wanted to do the measurements and baking temperature in metric because I know I have quite a few international readers and I wanted to make things easier. Let me know if any of my calculations are off if you find any errors, please and thank-you 😄

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 4, Dessert)

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Welcome to Part 4 of my Global Eats series! This has been a series of posts focused on the food and culture of the Philippines.

Brief Re-cap

Previously in this series I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

Post #3-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 3, Sauce & Side Dish)

Feel free to check out the other posts, if you wish. Part 1 is an introduction post to the series, with some background info on the food of the Philippines. Last Saturday I shared Part 3, which proved to be unexpectedly delicious.

Today we have…..

Filipino-Style Flan (Leche Flan)

If you google flan, you will soon see there are many different types of it. So what makes Filipino flan unique?

From what I’ve read, it is the eggs. Filipino flan calls for egg yolks only, not the whole eggs. This makes a richer and denser dessert. To me this makes it more like a custard-style dessert.

(Side note: Flan came to the Philippines from Spain because Spain colonized the country from 1565-1898.)

Making the Flan

Psst….

I have never made flan before. 😝

It was a bit tricky. In this post you will see some imperfect flans. But this isn’t a cooking show..no competition here. Just lots of learning and fun 🙂

Recipe

Most recipes for flan call for evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Since I cannot have dairy milk, I sought out a recipe that gave a substitute.

The recipe I used is from the blog Grain-Free Belle.

(Yep. This flan is gluten-free and dairy-free.)

The recipe called for 3 beaten eggs and 4 egg yolks. It made a ton of filling. It also called for rice or hemp milk, but I decided to try something different.

I took a chance and used coconut milk. I thought it would be neat to use coconut milk in a Filipino recipe because coconut is a popular ingredient there.

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Aroy-D is the brand that I used. It is the same brand that I used for my coconut yogurt.

Flan Batch #1

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For my first batch, I made the carmel syrup and my custard far too thick. Of course I didn’t know this until the end…and the recipe didn’t really extrapolate on how full to fill the molds.

It did say to use ramekins, which I did not have, wasn’t going to buy. So I used 8oz mason jars.

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The result: a rather thick, half-formed flan.

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Flan Batch #2

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Lesson learned…thinner flan.
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One of the better looking ones…looks kinda like a scallop.

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This was my best-formed flan. The top cracked but the shape was good 🙂

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Taste

Ok but what did it taste like? Well, T.R. you are right. Flan is a bit bland. To me, this flan tasted fairly similar to custard pie. The caramel sauce added a nice element to the dessert.

Texture

Rich tasting. Smooth. A bit of a velvety texture.

It was a bit like sweetened scrambled eggs. But smoother, if that makes sense. It was good, but not particularly my cup of tea.

Flavor

Sooo sweet. For me it was an almost overpowering sweetness. Creamy, sweet desserts are not really my thing. Unless it’s chocolate! Haha.

A bit of carmel taste, a smidge of vanilla. But mostly a rich creamy flavor. I couldn’t especially taste the coconut.

 

Conclusion

Ginisang Togue. Banana Sauce with Rice and Leche Flan.

Thus ends the Filipino edition of my Global Eats series. Hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the Philippines!

It’s been far from a complete culinary experience but I’ve had a lot of fun learning about so many unique dishes and flavors. And I’ve enjoyed sharing some of what I’ve learned with you guys. 🙂

The next country will probably not begin until 2 weeks from now. I’m still deciding if I want to do a European or Middle-Eastern country. And you know. Preparation and all that fun stuff.

 

Take care & stay warm!

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Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 3, Sauce & Side Dish)

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Welcome to Part 3 of my Global Eats series! This has been a series of posts focused on the food and culture of the Philippines.

Previously in this series I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

Check it out if you wish! Post #1 will give you a bit of background if you are not familiar with the food/culture of the Philippines.

Today’s post is all about…..

Banana sauce!

I talked a little bit about banana sauce (also known as banana ketchup) in post #1. I mentioned 3 foods unique to the Philippines: ube (purple yam), calamansi (citrus fruit) and banana sauce.

I’ve read that one of the things that banana sauce goes really well with is rice. 

Ok. No problem.

I made the banana sauce first. (Recipe from Serious Eats) It wasn’t too difficult to make. There were quite a few ingredients and about 20 minutes cook time but nothing too hard.

I did leave out the jalapeno and substituted the rum for water. And after cooking, cooling and blending I got this:

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I think it looks like peanut butter.

Then I made up some brown Basmati rice. I think steamed rice is more of a thing in Asian countries but I don’t have the proper equipment for that so the rice was cooked my usual way.

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And you know, I won’t lie…I was fully expecting to not like this.

The sweet banana flavor, mixed with savory, salty, tomato paste, vinegar and ginger? Plus seasonings like allspice? I was not too sure about this.

But you guys…guess what?

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It was incredibly delicious. I had 2 bowls. Seriously.

I’m not sure what it was. It truly did have a ketchupy taste to it. The sweetness I could taste right away, then a combination of flavors, the vinegar and then I could definitely taste a tiny bit of the cloves in the aftertaste.

It is amazing. On its own it was ok. But with rice somehow it was really delicious.

What a cheap and easy way to spruce up a cheap bowl of rice, right? I usually just have butter and salt on mine, or the usual serve it with stir-fry (the Americanized version) or whatnot.

Yum.

Ever had banana sauce on rice? 100% recommend 😄

Stay warm out there!

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p.s.-Next post (and last from this country) will be a special Filipino style dessert 🍮 I’m planning on having it up on Tuesday. Enjoy your weekend!

Food, Snacks

Easy Strawberry-Apple Fruit Leather

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Howdy ya’ll 🙂 Just checking in on this fine Wednesday evening from my beautiful corner of the globe here in the midwestern U.S. Its been super cold lately…one evening it was even -16 with the windchill. Way too cold.

Some of you guys might have even colder winters than that though. I follow a Canadian blogger who said it was like -34 where she lives. What?? How do you even?! Yikes. It’s no wonder people are so incredibly happy come Spring.

Oh Spring! Come early this year! Please do!

Alright enough of my belly-aching and onto the real stuff.

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I don’t know if you remember my post on preserving apples, but in it I included the above picture.

Know what I did with all the peels and leftover bits of puree? Yep I put it all in the blender, made a puree and froze it.

Because I knew I wanted to make fruit leather with my dehydrator.

However…I couldn’t at the time because I had lost my fruit leather tray and was too lazy to find/think up/buy a replacement. So I found it. Yay! That’s what happens when you deep clean 🙂

Now I could finally make some! I took a big tub of apple puree and added it, along with some frozen organic strawberries to my blender to mix it. My ratio was 3 cups apple to 1 cup chopped frozen strawberries.

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This is the puree about halfway through the 4-6 hour drying process.
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Dry texture ontop when finished.
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Shiny texture on bottom when done. My edges were a bit too thick and didn’t dry properly.
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Cut off the underdone parts and the remainder into strips with kitchen scissors.

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These make for a super-delicious snack. My almost 2-year-old daughter agrees. And why not? These fruit strips taste just like candy. They store well too. But that point is irrelevant because they won’t last long!

Do you like fruit leather? Have you ever tried it or maybe made your own at home? If so, what flavors are your favorite? I’d love to try some different flavor combos 😋 🍏🍓🍑🍒

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Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

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Welcome back to the Global Eats series! Last week I posted Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro).

This is Part 2, out of 3 or 4 total posts.

Re-cap

To re-hash, this is what inspired the series:

I wrote in my latest blogging update post that I wanted to make a variety of dishes that are common in other countries and cultures. This idea was inspired in part by a post from the blog My No-Fuss Kitchen.

The blogger shared how she saved money by making Chinese-Malaysian stir fry dishes out of leftover ingredients.

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

So in my last post I covered #2. I learned a lot about the foods of the Philippines and I still have more to learn! I’m amazed at just how much there is to learn.

And I just love it. I love learning this stuff.

The Main Dish: Ginisang Togue

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Ok so the photos I am sharing today are guided by the recipe for Ginisang Togue which is from the website Authentic Filipino Recipes.

So check out the site for the recipe 🙂

The words “Ginisang Togue” mean “sauteed mung bean sprouts” in Tagalog. So that must be the main ingredient, right?

Right.

I hadn’t made sprouts before but I heard it was easy. Can I get mung beans in the US? Yes I could.

Making the sprouts

I purchased a sprouting jar lid for $4.75 and 4oz organic mung bean sprouts seeds for $3.79 from iherb.com.

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All you need to make sprouts: quart mason jar, sprouting lid, sprouting seeds and water. (Plus a bowl and a towel.)
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I wanted some longer sprouts so I rinsed and drained every 12 hours for 5 days.
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Ta-da! Sprouts!

 

Time to Cook!

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The recipe called for a lot of veggies. Garlic, onions, red and green bell peppers, sprouts and carrots.

It also called for tofu, which I didn’t use. I just used extra shrimp because I try to stay away from soy products.

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So a little bit about these ingredients. The recipe called for a large tomato, cubed. I didn’t have one and wasn’t about to run to the store just for that. So I used part of a can of my homemade crushed tomatoes.

I also used a bit of chicken flavored soup base instead of the chicken cube.

What is oyster sauce? 

According to The Spruce, “Oyster sauce is a thick, brown sauce with a sweet, salty, and earthy flavor. Oyster sauce is a popular ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai, and Cantonese cuisine.”

A good kind will be something like a combo of oysters, salt and soy sauce.

Mine was not high-quality and did not contain oysters. However, being many miles from acquiring good quality oysters, and also not seeing these recipes till just now, bottled “oyster” sauce was what happened.

To me, it just tasted like thick, slightly sweet soy sauce. Boo. Still, it made for decent flavor.

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The final product.

Flavors

What did this dish taste like?

There were a few different flavors going on. There was sweet, from the red bell peppers and carrots. Salty, from the soy sauce, oyster sauce and chicken soup base. And the sprouts, to me were a bit bitter, but just from the seed part. There wasn’t any big pop of flavor but I think all of the ingredients complimented each other.

Definitely an interesting flavor combo and a wonderful texture. I tried to keep the veggies slightly raw and that made for a nice crunch. I enjoyed eating this and I would make it again.

Saving money

To me, this recipe is frugal because…

  • Lots of veggies are added. And veggies are cheap. The ones used here I can buy year-round.
  • Sprouts are also easy to make yourself and cheap. Mine cost me about 95¢ for this recipe.
  • Rice is always a frugal ingredient that can feed a crowd.
  • Protein, starch and veggie in one dish makes for an easy meal. Yay easy!

Just a tiny peek into the flavors and ingredients of a Filipino dish 🙂 Not 100% authentic but a fun experience all the same.

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Resources:

www.tagaloglang.com

Toge

~

www.recipeland.com

Homemade Oyster Sauce

~

www.thespruce.com

What Is Oyster Sauce?

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

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Introduction

Welcome to the first post of my Global Eats series! This is a series I’ve been planning to help myself (and hopefully others) learn more about the value of food from other countries. This is a cultural appreciation, history lesson and culinary education all rolled into one.

I wrote in my latest blogging update post that I wanted to make a variety of dishes that are common in other countries and cultures. This idea was inspired in part by a post from the blog My No-Fuss Kitchen.

The blogger shared how she saved money by making Chinese-Malaysian stir fry dishes out of leftover ingredients.

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

Question #2 will be answered in this post. The others I hope to answer by the end of this series on the Philippines.

I am very excited to begin learning as much as I can about the foods that are popular and loved in different countries around the globe.

Disclaimer: I am not Filipino but I will try my best to share what I have learned. To anyone who is Filipino or is more knowledgeable on the topic, please feel free to share info or correct me if I am in error at any point in my posts.

 

History of Food & Melding of Cultures

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Question: what is the history that shaped present day food dishes in the Philippines?

Because the Philippines has a tropical climate, and because of its location in the Pacific and southeast Asia there are foods like coconut, bananas and rice that were well established in the country.

Then there are influences from neighboring countries. The Philippines are close to China, especially but also Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Trade and the mixing of cultures helped introduce new foods to the Filipino people.

Filipino-Chinese Food

From China there was an introduction to noodles, vegetables in a wrapper (like spring rolls or eggrolls), also things like steamed and filled buns and dumplings were incorporated into the Filipino diet.

Fil-Hispanic Food

One of the most unexpected things I found was that certain types of food have Spanish and even Mexican influences.

The Philippines were colonized by Spain for 333 years (1565-1898). Throughout this time dishes like flan (a custard-like dessert) and Paella (a seasoned rice dish with meat/seafood) were introduced and recipes were slightly modified.

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When I think of food in a specific country, I tend to (wrongly) think that the food there will be unique to and consistent throughout the country.

What I’ve found instead is that a country typically has many dishes that are not initially from that particular country. And within that country, dishes will vary by region.

That being said, there are a few foods that are unique specifically to the Philippines.

Common & Unique Ingredients in the Philippines

Three totally unique ingredients I’ve learned about:

  • banana ketchup
  • calamansi
  • ube

What are these things??

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Banana ketchup (advertised as banana sauce). source: Wikipedia

The story here is that when the US “met” with the Philippines, certain foods like ketchup were introduced. Tomatoes are not as common there, so a sauce was made using bananas. The ingredients are similar, but banana ketchup is sweeter. Read more here if you’re curious.

 

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Calamansi. Called calamondin in the US. Said to be similar to a lemon or lime in flavor. source: Pixabay

Calamansi fruit or juice was one ingredient that I saw in Filipino recipes over and over. It is available in the country in all seasons and has a pleasantly tart taste (like a lemon-lime combo), I’ve heard.

Most recipes I saw had pictures of the green fruit but when calamansi are ripe, they look like a tangerine. Very unique, beautiful fruit.

 

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Ube. Also called purple yam. source: Wikipedia

Another incredibly gorgeous food found in the Philippines is ube. It is naturally colored purple yam that is found most often in desserts. Google ube ice cream. Gorgeous. I totally want to grow some!

 

Tying it All Together

How to explain the flavors of Filipino food? I’m not Filipino and my knowledge is limited. I only know what I’ve read from others that are Filipino and have tried those foods they have written about.

I saw ingredients like rice, shrimp, onions, bell peppers, garlic, soy sauce, carrots, pork and fish sauce over and over. 

My general impression is that there is a lot of pork, chicken or shrimp cooked along with a lot of veggies in a somewhat simple sauce. There wasn’t a lot of the seasonings I’m used to, like oregano and thyme.

What I’ve read is that Filipino food doesn’t have heavy seasonings like we might have here in the US. Flavor comes from liquid sauces..not often made of tomatoes either.

 

Plans For the Series

As I go on in this series on Filipino food, I hope to more accurately describe the flavors I taste. The textures. The new ingredients I’ve used and the fun that I’ve had trying it all out.

Currently I plan on making and posting about 2-3 Filipino dishes. At least one will be a main dish and the other 1-2 will be a side, sauce or dessert.

This is as close as I can get to physically trying Filipino food in the Philippines. I am not a global food expert, but in doing this Global Eats series I hope to educate myself and learn a bit about the good food from other countries around the world.

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All photos unless otherwise noted are from Pixabay.


 

Sources:

The Multicultural Cookbook for Students, by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb

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www.buzzfeed.com

24 Delicious Filipino Foods You Need In Your Life

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www.foodrepublic.com

Banana Ketchup: The Philippines’ Answer To A Lack Of TomatoesCondiment of the Week: Filipino Banana Ketchup

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www.asian-recipe.com

The Philippines-Then and Now

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Wikipedia

Calamondin

Yam (vegetable)

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www.authenticfilipinorecipes.com

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Junblog

~

Food

What to Eat for Breakfast When You Would Rather Have a Donut {6 ideas}

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Honestly, some mornings I’m dragging. Like hardcore dragging and the only thing I want to grab is something super-easy. And what is easier than reaching for sweet tasting baked goods from the store?

I mostly do pretty well when it comes to my first meal of the day. But other days begin poorly when I’ve convinced myself that I can eat something deficient in nutrition just because it pleases my taste buds.

The result is always, inevitably a sugar crash which leaves me feeling ick. Never a good idea. But somehow I always have those moments when I think, “hey…maybe sugar for breakfast will be ok today.”

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Source: Pinterest

6 Healthier Breakfast Ideas (When You Would Rather Have a Donut)

 

1. Whip up a colorful fruit salad.

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I made this simple fruit salad last week from sliced/diced kiwis and mangos. Try to make a fruit salad that has as much color as possible for visual interest and nutrient value. The natural sugars will help curb the cravings.

 

2. Bake some good muffins.

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Muffins are always my go-to when we need a healthy breakfast food or healthy snack. I’ve been using the same ole recipe for like 4 years so recently I decided to try a new one.

The muffin pictured above is from a batch of Applesauce Oat Bran Muffins, from the back of a box of Hodgson Mill Old Fashioned Oat Bran Cereal. I tried it out and they were good! The kids liked them too. Even my pickier child (my son) ate them up.

Here is the recipe for the muffins I tried:

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A good muffin recipe will give you fiber, will be low in sugar and include some sort of mashed or pureed fruit or veggie.

3. Make some healthier donuts.

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My first attempt at making chocolate donuts…I think I filled the molds a bit too full.

These Chocolate Donuts from The Nutty RD are absolutely the bomb. (Lol do people still use that phrase?) No refined sugar, gluten-free and dairy-free. They also have healthy fat that will help you get your energy back. And not in a dramatic way like the other kind of donuts.

And if you don’t have a donut pan no worries 🙂 Check out this tutorial and video from Tip Hero on how to make your own makeshift donut pan with tinfoil and a muffin tin.

 

4. A big ole old fashioned breakfast. (Or a hot breakfast that appeals to you.)

Sometimes what your body really needs is a veratible smorgasboard of hot, yummy food. I do not do this very often. We are a small family and no one person seems to like the same thing. Except french toast. We are lovers of french toast 😋

Usually a hot breakfast for us is things like buttered toast and tea, scrambled eggs with lots of stir fried veggies, or my favorite…sweet potato hash. These things are super easy to whip up and will leave your body feeling satisfied. The protein/fat/fiber combo that will keep you feeling full for longer.

 

5. Oat bran cereal with apples, raisins and cinnamon.

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This is a new favorite for me and a change from my usual oatmeal and raisins. I cook the oat bran in a mix of water and almond milk. I will also cook up some apple chunks and raisins in a bit of cinnamon and water. I add the fruit, some of the liquid and a bit more almond milk over top the cooked oat bran.

The texture is smoother than cooked oatmeal and tastier, I think. Pleanty of fiber and the cinnamon and fruit will help tame your sweet tooth.

 

6. Homemade granola bars.

These are great because you can make them beforehand and just grab one when you wake up.

I finally found a recipe that I love…the Rock-n-Rolled Oats and Quinoa Energy bars from Sadie Nardini’s book The 21-Day Yoga Body are my absolute favorite. Ok so yeah they aren’t technically granola bars but might as well be.

They are full of awesome ingredients like cooked quiona, ground flaxseed, raw almonds and dried fruit. They hold together pretty well and its not because of a massive amount of sugar. Yay!

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Beverages, Food

Mama Chia {Copycat Recipe}

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Finally. I have finally concocted a cheaper version of the Raspberry Passion Mama Chia beverage my daughter and I love so much.

It was much easier than I expected it would be. I’m not sure why I kept putting it off.

I began by looking at the ingredients list.

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Already I had decided to use pomegranate juice. Odd that that isn’t one of the ingredients listed. Pomegranate juice to me tastes like a combination of juices…like a raspberry/grape/cranberry combo maybe?…so I was confident that this would work.

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Raw honey, soaked chia seeds, pomegranate juice and lime juice.

First I prepped the chia seeds. I took about 1 ¼ cups of dry seeds and poured them into a mason jar along with about 30 or so ounces of water.

I actually miscalculated the amount of water I would need initially. I filled my glass bottle (see pictures below) 3/4 full with chia seeds, then added water.

That is not the way to do it.

Chia seeds absorb a lot of water. Like 3 times as much as the actual seeds. 

So after that sat in the fridge for awhile I was ready to throw it all together.

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One teaspoon of honey was just right, once I figured out how to stir it up (stir with a metal skewer then shake vigorously).

A bit of lime juice added to the pomegranate juice added another element to the flavor that made it pitch-perfect, and just like the Mama Chia beverage I remembered.

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Rachel’s Copycat Mama Chia Recipe

Makes about 10oz (1 serving).

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup soaked chia seeds*
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in liquid measuring cup.
  2. Pour into desired container.

*To make about 25oz/3c. of soaked chia seeds, I put about 1 ¼ cups dry chia seeds into a quart (32oz) mason jar. I filled the jar with water, shook up the jar and let it sit in the fridge about 24 hours.

Cost:

For 10oz of this Mama Chia brand drink from Aldi, it was $2.29. My version was only $1.28 for the same amount.

Granted, my recipe doesn’t have the same exact ingredients. But the taste is very similar and still delicious.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Desserts, Food

Gluten-Free “Toffee” Apple Crisp (no refined sugar)

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This is the recipe that I’ve wanted to make for so long. I’ve said several times on the blog that I wanted to share an apple crisp recipe.

Yesterday I thought that I had totally blew it. I made a few alterations to my mama’s apple crisp recipe and wasn’t sure how it would turn out.

It definitely did not look like my mom’s version. And before I had even tasted it I thought, “Well..I can’t share this. It looks like a disaster. I’m not even sure it tastes good.”

So here I am, eating my words. My husband (who is my greatest cheerleader) was enamored with this apple crisp. He loved it. A lot. So because of his encouragement, I am sharing this with you today.

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I began with the usual ingredients. I forgot to include the almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill brand).

I chose to use coconut palm sugar and honey because of my current goal to avoid as much refined sugar as possible. It’s important to remember that sugar is still sugar. However, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index, which I think makes it a better choice of sweetener. It won’t give you that jolt of energy and subsequent crash if used wisely.

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Mixed together the dry ingredients, along with the honey.
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The topping turned out to be rather on the wet side and a bit sticky.

The butter for the topping sat out for a bit, which I think is what made it sticky. I usually use cold butter, but you know..blog stuff. It turned out ok though 🙂

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Right before I popped it into the oven. Made it in the evening, so apologies for the bad lighting.

The original recipe said to bake the apple crisp for 30 minutes. Mine took a little bit longer, probably about 35 minutes.

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“Oh no it’s a flop!”

The apple crisp did a weird thing where it looked soupy but wasn’t. It ended up having a nice, moist topping with perfectly chewy portions (not hard or overdone but just right) that reminded me of toffee a bit.

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Quite the opposite, thankfully.

 

Gluten-Free “Toffee” Apple Crisp

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 apples (granny smith preferred), peeled, cored and roughly chopped.
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats**
  • 1/3 cup+2 Tablespoons+2 teaspoons coconut palm sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons+2 teaspoons raw honey
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 teaspoon+1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided

**If you are gluten intolerant you probably already know to buy gluten-free oats. If you are cooking for guests this is important. Somehow I had 3 containers of the regular kind, so I used what I had since I can still tolerate gluten.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 395°.
  2. Place apples in a 9×9″ baking pan. Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if desired) and toss.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, oats, coconut sugar, honey and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut butter into small pieces and work it into the dry ingredients by hand. This topping may be a bit sticky.
  4. Add topping to apples in globs and lightly press together.
  5. Bake about 30 minutes, or until well browned.

Cost:

This recipe cost me $4.30. Not bad but not really great. Almond flour is expensive!

But if you break it down, it is only $1.08 if divided into 4 servings and 72¢ if divided into 6 servings.

But it’s so good that it probably won’t make it that far. My advice is to 100% double it if you are cooking for 3+ people.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Beverages, Food, Reflections

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea {First Impressions}

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The foraging adventures continue! I wanted to harvest some dandelion roots this fall with the intention of making roasted dandelion root tea.

It sounded interesting. And every single source said the health benefits of the plant were numerous.

According to learningherbs, dandelion roots are good for liver health. And because the liver affects many other parts of the body, dandelion root helps with a lot of different things. (The recipe I used can be found through the above links as well.)

As livestrong mentions, dandelion root has a lot of potassium and “It also contains high levels of iron, boron, calcium, silicon [and] vitamin C.”

Super-healthy? Sign me up. I can get it for free from my own yard? I’m on it.

And so I grabbed my shovel and I wandered about outside looking for some good-sized dandelion roots. The kids were mostly good enough not to wander too far from sight 🙂

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Here are some of the largest roots from some of the biggest plants. I harvested about 7 or so roots total.
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After scrubbing, chopping and air drying the roots completely they were ready to roast.
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The finished product. I sorted the pieces and discarded the blackened ones. I had exactly 2 Tablespoons the recipe called for.
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Here you can see the difference in color.
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After simmering the dandelion root for about 20 minutes I had a very dark tea, similar in shade to coffee and somewhat similar smelling.
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I blended the liquid with about a Tablespoon butter as directed.

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And then I took a sip. I immediately made a face. It was very bitter. As I expected. Somewhat like coffee but not as…warm? Flavorful?

I had to add things to it to make it drinkable. First, a bit of vanilla, cinnamon and honey.

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It was still too bitter. More honey and a lot of unsweetened vanilla almond milk were added. And then I ended up adding a spoonful of coconut palm sugar before I was happy with the taste.

I’m trying my best to avoid refined sugar. It’s been hit-and-miss so far. But this time…victory 🎉

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Afterwards…heavy on the sweeteners and milk.

Oh my it was so bitter. But tasted rather good in the end.

I couldn’t help but think about bitterness as an emotion, as opposed to a taste.

I remember my son when he tasted cocoa powder for the first time. It smelled like the chocolate he loved but left a bad taste in his mouth.

“Grace given when it feels least deserved is the only antidote for bitter rot.”

from Uninvited, chapter 7, by Lysa TerKeurst.

But tempered with sweetness and mixed into the cookies he loved, the bitterness was transformed. It was the same for the tea. Bitterness transformed was a pleasant thing instead of a thing almost poisonous to swallow.

As I battle bitterness threatening to overwhelm me, this lesson hit quite close to home. I’m grateful for the lesson so gently revealed.

And I enjoyed my cup of tea 🙂

Any coffee drinkers out there? Have you ever tried roasted dandelion root tea? If so, what was your impression?

~Rachel

Food

Before You Shop…{12 ways to save on groceries}

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There was a time in our not-so-distant past when our family had a very limited grocery budget. Each and every penny was dear.

I knew, just knew there were resources out there to help me. I knew that I wasn’t the only one. So I dug through the internet, and all the cookbooks and e-books that I could get my hands on so I could find some frugal solutions to bolster my courage and expand my knowledge of the art that is grocery shopping.

And what was most important to me? I wanted to be as frugal, but as healthy with my choices as possible.

I wanted to pass on some of the things that I learned for anyone who is where I was. I still practice a lot of these things, though our grocery budget is slightly larger than it was in previous years.

Plan

1. These items are at the core of any frugal meal.

  • beans
  • rice
  • canned tomatoes of all kinds
  • chicken
  • eggs
  • noodles
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • garlic
  • herbs & spices
  • frozen veggies

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2. Shop the sales and build meals from sale items. This goes hand and hand with meal planning.

3. Meal plan. I use this printable from Just a Girl and Her Blog. It’s got a newer design but it’s the same one I use. I write the sales items from local grocery stores on the back, as well as meal ideas. Then the names and dates of the meals go on the front of the shopping list.

I think of it as a game. I use a sale ingredient, good. I use it twice or even 3x or more, very good. See how many ways you can stretch the same ingredient. 

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Example: celery. I use it in chicken noodle soup, then I use it to make casserole spaghetti. I dice up the rest and freeze it for when I make chicken or beef bone broth.

4. How much do you need?

Believe it or not, when I was newly married I thought I had to follow a recipe exactly and I often made way too much food. Nowdays I will cut a recipe in half or even in fourths to suit my family.

I know about how much meat we will eat (1/2lb-slightly over 1lb, depending on recipe) and what size of pot, pan or baking dish I will need. When you know what everyone will eat, second helpings and all, you can plan better and save money.

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What Is In Season?

1. Fruits and vegetables that are often cheap and available (but not always locally in season) year-round:

  • garlic
  • onions
  • broccoli
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • bell peppers
  • celery
  • sweet potatoes
  • bananas
  • grapes
  • apples

2. Here are some (typically) cheap, in season foods for October and November:

  • apples
  • pears
  • cranberries
  • grapes
  • kiwis
  • pomegranates
  • some citrus fruits
  • beets
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • eggplant
  • kale
  • mushrooms
  • pumpkins
  • rutabagas
  • spinach
  • squash
  • turnips

It is good to pay attention to The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen. But don’t get hung up on it. If you can afford organic, awesome! If not, remember you are still caring for your family by buying them good and fresh produce. Eat as well as you can afford and don’t worry about the rest.

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Shop

1. Shop the perimeter of the store.

It is typical for produce, meat and dairy products to be on the outskirts of the grocery store. This is a common tip, but still worth mentioning 🙂

2. Buy (selectively) in bulk. 

When you see something on sale that your family loves, buy as much as you can.

Example: when our favorite bread goes on sale for BOGO, (Buy One Get One free) we buy 4, sometimes 6 if our freezer space allows.

Staples of course are good to buy in bulk. My family is small and my children have tiny appetites so much of what we buy in bulk is shelf stable. Honestly lately I have not bought much in bulk.

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3. Buy and preserve favorite fresh foods.

When a fruit or veggie is in season and your family loves it, see if you can buy a very large amount and preserve it in a way that they would most enjoy.

Freezing, canning and drying are all options. This often works best if you buy as close to the source as you can. This way you can maximize your savings and get the freshest and best produce. I’ve done this with apples, plums and corn this year.

4. Know when to spend.

I know. That’s not frugal. Well no it’s not. But knowing when to spend and when to save can save your sanity, which in my opinion is priceless.

Know when to cut yourself some slack and buy convenience foods or non-sale pricier items. For me, when I was pregnant and when my daughter was a baby I let a lot of things slide. My tastes, cravings and energy all varied by day and my goal was simply to stay healthy and get out of the store as quickly as I could.

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At Home

1. Explore MYO.

I learned early on from reading frugal cook books that one of the easiest ways to save money is to make your own convenience food. That may sound backwards but let me explain.

By making your own mixes, snacks and baked goods you have created a special stash of healthy or at least home cooked food for your family. Is it convenient in the sense that it saves you time? Well, not always. But consider the amount of time you spend going to the store and shopping. Is it faster to make some cookies or to buy them?

I maintain a balance of store bought things vs. homemade. Sometimes I make my own, sometimes I buy it.

Generally I make all my own spice mixes…taco seasoning, chili powder, pumpkin spice, etc. I do make my own granola bars because it’s cheaper, healthier and fresher that way.

2. Reduce waste.

There is this awesome blog Don’t Waste the Crumbs that got me started on this. It is amazing the amount of food I waste. It is an almost continual process to brainstorm ways to save as much as I can and make sure it is all used.

Example: save vegetable scraps for bone broth.

~~~

 

And that’s a lot of what I’ve learned!

It takes practice, but it can be done. Being frugal can be a challenge, but it can also be fun if you look at it as a game 🙂

~Rachel


 

A few resources:

Grocery shopping list printable from A Girl and Her Blog

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Complete Mix Recipe Index from Budget 101

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12 Simple Ways to Avoid Food Waste from Don’t Waste the Crumbs

Food, Main Meal

Super Yummy Spicy Mexican Lasagna

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The first chilly days of fall have arrived! A few days ago I was really in the mood for something spicy. Maybe it was the chill of fall. Maybe it was the change of seasons that prompt my tastebuds to say, “We crave something different!”. Whatever it was, I came across this recipe from allrecipes.com for Mexican Quesadilla Casserole. It looked good but I didn’t have corn tortillas. Or some of the other ingredients.

So I improvised this and that and decided to make it a Mexican lasagna instead.

It turned out wonderful. Like pitch-perfect, 100% awesome flavor yet still easy to make perfect. And my husband loved it. So it was a must for me to share 🙂

I do not have a lot of pictures of this one. I’ll just be real…it isn’t always easy to get a picture of my food creations. I’m hungry, my family is hungry. Time is limited. Kid raising takes a lot of energy! But I am learning, I promise. And busier women than I have done more and made it work. I will keep at it.

Anyways. Enough about my blogging aspirations. Sometimes I just have to get real with ya’ll. Sometimes it feels like my blog is a stage. And I’m the performer, manager and back stage crew all combined! Any one else feel that way too?

Haha well anyways here’s the recipe!


 

Super Yummy Spicy Mexican Lasagna

*Servings: 9+

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • (2) 8oz cans tomato sauce
  • (1) 15.5oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • (1) 10oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn (GMO-free, if possible)
  • **2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 8oz shredded cheddar cheese

*This recipe can easily make a 9×9″ pan of lasagna. But there will be leftover filling. It could also be made as a 9×13″ pan, if you stretch it a bit, or as (2) 9×9″ pans (one could be frozen for later!)

**I make my own chili powder and this is the recipe I use.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 9×9 pan with cooking spray or lightly grease with oil.

2. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Add noodles and cook till al dente.

3. Mix the next 9 ingredients together in a medium sized pot. (All but the noodles and cheese.)

4. Cook beef and onion in a large skillet till beef is barely cooked through. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup water, scraping the pan to remove any browned bits.

5. Add beef to the tomato mixture, stir and simmer for 5 or so minutes to combine flavors.

6. Layer the lasagna. Beef mixture, noodles, cheese. More noodles, beef mixture cheese and repeat, if desired. I stopped at 2 layers.

7. Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese has melted.

Cost:

Pricing this recipe proved a bit tricky as I wasn’t sure of the price of certain items. But I can say for sure that this entire recipe makes at least 12 servings for $12 or less.

I used frozen sweet corn that I blanched and froze myself, which turned out to be 46¢ a cup. I also bought a block of cheddar cheese and grated it myself which cut the cost a bit as well.

~Rachel

Beverages, Food

Easy, Dreamy Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (without using a blender!)

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Ah fall. Fall means pumpkins. And we Americans (most of us anyways) love our pumpkin spice. Is that just an American thing? I don’t know. Hmm.

(Ok international readers. Is pumpkin spice a thing in your country? Let me know in the comments, I would love to know!)

On a whim the other day I decided to cook up a pie pumpkin. I’m not really sure why they are called pie pumpkins. It’s not like they are used expressly for pumpkin pie. Honestly I buy one almost every year…not knowing if it will be for decor or for eating.

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The pumpkin in question *cue dramatic music*

My kids decided that the pumpkin was purchased so that they could roll/push it off of the kitchen table. No. That was actually not the purpose, my dear sweet children whom I love with all my heart but also who drive me completely loopy.

So to take the loopiness down a notch I cooked it up in the oven. I thought I could make some pumpkin bread with the puree.

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Pumpkin puree! I actually cooked the pumpkin and put it in the fridge for a few days before I pureed it.

And yep I made 4 full sized loaves. That used up about 4 cups. And I still had about a cup left over.

So I made up a new drink which was totally easy and delicious. My daughter (age 1 1/2) literally goes crazy for it. My son (age 4) asks every time if it is chocolate milk and wants nothing to do with it when I tell him that no, it isn’t.

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The flavors here are so simple and yet so delicious. Pumpkin tastes a bit like cooked squash, so on its own it isn’t all that tasty. But with honey, spices and almond milk? Yum 🙂


 

Easy, Dreamy Pumpkin Spice Smooothie

Makes: 16oz

Ingredients:

  • 12oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 4oz chilled pureed pumpkin (you can make your own puree, see below)
  • 1 small spoonful honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch or two of nutmeg

 

Directions:

  1. Measure about 1/2 cup pumpkin puree into a large glass. (I use a pint mason jar.)
  2. Add honey, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir well to combine.
  3. Add vanilla almond milk and stir.

 

To make the pumpkin puree

  1. Preheat the oven to 395°.
  2. Take a pie pumpkin and carefully cut it in half with a large knife.
  3. Place cut sides down in a large baking pan. (You can also bake them one half at a time if you don’t have a big enough pan.)
  4. Add a few inches of water to the pan and cover with tinfoil.
  5. Bake for 1 hour.
  6. Remove from oven, test for doneness and cool.
  7. Scoop out seeds and stringy stuff, set aside. Save the liquid from the pan.
  8. Scoop out the pumpkin and put it in the blender. Add a cup or so of the saved liquid (eyeball it) and puree.
  9. Chill the puree.

Cost:

This is super cheap. 89¢ for 16oz. Isn’t that crazy? I will definitely be making this again!

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Food, Main Meal

Easy Rustic Kielbasa and Noodles with Tomato-Onion Sauce

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Sunday night I was cooking away in the kitchen. My husband came in and peered into the skillet. He said, “You’re going to have to save some of that for my lunch tomorrow”.

He had an appointment to keep and was eating supper out of the house that day. Meanwhile…yum. Seriously this was so good.

I had an inkling to make a skillet supper using kielbasa. Its a cheap and tasty ingredient. I thought about rice. Nah. How about onions…and tomatoes? Then add some noodles? Yeah that sounded good.

And that’s what happened.

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Note: do not do what I did here! Tomatoes and cast iron skillets do not mix. Acid is about the only enemy of the cast iron skillet.

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I’m a big fan of rustic, simple food. Don’t overthink it. Don’t overcomplicate things. Get the best ingredients you can and let them do the talking.

The onions carmelized a bit. The tomatoes, combined with the onions turned into a beautiful sauce. Everything together was wonderful. I have found a new favorite kielbasa recipe.

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Don’t feel like you have to use egg noodles. I use them because my family loves them and they are cheap.

Other good choices would be rotini, campanelle, farfalle (bow ties) or rigatoni noodles. Whole wheat is better and healthier of course. Which is what we mostly do. Anymore it seems like organic whole wheat noodles aren’t that much more than regular noodles.

I always buy my kielbasa from Aldi because it is currently the only place I can find it cheap and msg-free.


 

Rustic Kielbasa and Noodles with Fresh Tomato and Onion Sauce

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 8oz Polska Kielbasa (1/2 of a 14oz package), sliced into thin diagonal pieces.
  • 3-5 small tomatoes (I used 3 the first time. 5 made it more saucy), halved and quartered
  • 1 onion, diced
  • A few tbs. extra vigin olive oil
  • 4oz (about 1/4 of a 16oz package) egg noodles
  • s & p

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add egg noodles.
  2. While noodles are cooking, saute onion in about 2 TBS olive oil until just beginning to carmelize. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add kielbasa and cook until tomatoes break down and the onions are translucent.
  4. Add noodles, stir and serve.

 

Cost:

It cost me only $1.94 to make this recipe. Using tomatoes from the garden makes it cheap.

If I doubled this recipe, it would be $3.87.

I shop at Aldi mostly so if you’re curious about prices it was $1.99 for 14oz of Polska Kielbasa, $1.19 for 16oz egg noodles, and $1.49 for 5 onions. Olive oil I purchased at another store for $6.09 for 17oz.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

canning, Food, Seasonal Food

Apple Season Always

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Apple season is upon us. I looove this time of year. Even if it has been uncharacteristically hot. I know that fall is on its way.

Today I wanted to talk about apples. About oh..2 weeks ago I brought home a bushel of apples to add to the peck I already had. I was planning on canning A LOT of applesauce and possibly doing some other things if I had any left.

This is what happened…First, the apples. I used 3 kinds.

Newton Pippin (I think)

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We picked these (With permission of course. Our neighbor was very kind and didn’t want them.) from our neighbors tree.

My friend and neighbor helped me pick apples and helped me during part of the canning process. We picked about a 1/2 bushel and 1 peck of them. Ended up not using the red ones because they didn’t have as much flavor as the green ones, which tasted like a combination of Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples.

After a lot of research (I love a good mystery), I believe these are Newton Pippin apples. They have some sooty blotch (a fungus) on them but peeling or scrubbing them makes them a ok to use. I found this interesting I thought they were just naturally that way. At any rate, they are delicious. Very crisp, a bit tart but still on the sweet side too. You can learn more about them from the link above.

Melrose

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This is part of the 1/2 bushel of Melrose apples.

The awesome thing about Melrose apples is that they turn the applesauce a pinkish-peach hue, depending on how many you add. I found that making half or slightly more apples in each batch made the sauce a pretty peachish color.

Cortland

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And part of the 1/2 bushel of Cortland apples.

Cortland apples aren’t very exciting. They are quite similar to a Macintosh. Rather soft and cooks down easily. A nice white fleshed apple.

~~~

And now…preserving the apples! Here are 3 ways to keep it apple season, always.

You Can Can Them,

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We had to use 2 big pots to make a double batch that would fill 8 pint jars.
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Pressing the mixture through a collander to strain out the peels and cinnamon sticks.
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Made about 30 pints applesauce. About 24 pictured here.

I used all 3 types of apples in my applesauce, but mostly Cortland and Melrose.

I used the recipe from this book.

 

Or Freeze Them.

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Had a ton of apples left to make apple pie filling to freeze.

With the extra Pippin apples I made some apple pie filling. Not sure if the apples are suited for baking but I guess we will find out! I made an apple crisp a few days ago with them and it turned out ok. Took a bit longer for the apples to get tender but delicious none the less.

I used the recipe from this book.

Or Even Dry Them.

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More Pippins for dried apples. Used about 10 apples to make 2 batches.

The Pippin apples are wonderful dried! So good. I did not peel them because I didn’t know about the sooty blotch at that time. I think its fine. I mean, I haven’t died yet. That’s a good sign.

I sliced them thin and dipped them in lemon juice, shook off the extra liquid and filled up the dehydrator trays. I think I dried about 8-10 apples total and it made quite a bit. Cheaper than buying it in the store and so much tastier 😊 My daughter L agrees!

I dried them for about 10 hours each batch at 135°.

~~~

Cost:

Applesauce

I paid $16.75 for 30 pints of applesauce. That’s 56¢ per pint, 28¢ per cup and 3.5¢ per oz.

Apple Pie Filling

$1.43 for 5 1/2 quarts. (Remember the apples were free.) That’s 26¢ per quart. Hopefully I can just use 1 bag per pie crust but we shall see.

Dried Apples

It was about $1.22 for 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice that I used to dip the apples. (Again the Pippin apples were free.) We can get technical and calculate the money spent to run the dehydrator for 10 hours each time but I won’t go there atm.

I made enough to fill at least 3 quart bags. Not too sure on the exact amount.

~~~

So there’s the breakdown! Pretty inexpensive to preserve apples. It may take a bit of time and patience but it is so worth it 🙂

Doing anything interesting with apples lately? Any baked goods with apples that you love?

~Rachel


 

Resources:

http://www.applename.com

Fantastic website for finding the kind of apple you have if you or the owner do not know. Trees/orchards planted long ago may have not-so-common names.

http://www.pickyourown.org/info.htm

Great website that has multiple handy charts. Mostly helpful for canning and freezing. If you want to know how many pounds/bushels/pecks you need to make a certain number of jars of a specific size, or vice versa, this should be a helpful site for you.

Food, Lunch/Simple Meal

4 Ingredient Baked Beans with Garlic and Dill

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Lately I’ve been working on a big ole post of all things apples. Oh yes the marvelous season of apples is beginning! I’m so excited. I’m working on canning and tweaking a recipe for a certain apple dessert.

In the meantime, I thought I would share one of my favorite recipes for baked beans.

My mom and I invented this recipe together. It was one of those days when we weren’t sure what to have for lunch (I was a teenager at the time and still living at home). My mom had a brilliant idea to take a simple can of baked beans and spruce it up.

And this recipe was born.

Garlic, butter, dill and beans. That’s it! The flavors work so well together. Garlic and butter give it a great flavor and the dill adds another layer to the dish. Plus dill is a herb which is good for digestion and the…problems associated with eating beans. Haha.

I always use the cheapest kind of beans from Aldi (49¢ pork & beans). The type of beans doesn’t matter because the sauce will just be rinsed off the beans 🙂

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4 Ingredient Baked Beans with Garlic and Dill

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pork and beans, drained and rinsed.
  • 6 tablespoons butter (more or less to your liking)
  • a teaspoon or two of dill weed (I went heavy on the dill)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 395°.
  2. Slice half of the butter into a small baking pan and put it into the oven to melt.
  3. Add the garlic to the butter and stir.
  4. Add the beans and dill.
  5. Slice the remaining butter and place it on top of the beans. (This keeps the beans from becoming dry.)
  6. Bake in the preheated oven till bubbly, 20 or so minutes.

Cost:

It cost me about $1.50 to make this easy dish of beans. I used some garlic from my garden and dill weed from a bulk food store to save some pennies 🙂

Enjoy!

~Rachel

canning, Food, Seasonal Food

Canning Local Concord Grapes to Make Juice & Jelly

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These grapes are amazing. I picked them and canned them myself and it was a fantastic experience.

I discovered, much to my joy, that a local vineyard was offering those in the community a chance to pick your own grapes. Even better? Only about 5 miles from my house. Better than that? Only 10¢ a pound. I could not believe it.

So I set out for an adventure, with the kids at home with my husband. I went to this vineyard that was rather out in the middle of nowhere. Not knowing what to expect. But everything went well. Talked with the owner, he loaned me some pruning clippers, parked the car and unloaded the baby bathtub which I hoped to fill with luscious grapes.

And I did.

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I thought I picked like 20 or more pounds but it turned out to be 15. Which was amazingly exactly how much I wanted.

So that was $1.20 well spent. And let me tell you, it made the most delicious grape juice.

This is my first time ever canning grapes. I did not do 100 quarts, like my neighbors in the vineyard were discussing. And how does one even make that much??

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I digress.

Here is the shortened version of the process I went through. Obviously there was a sorting, washing and plucking process. Followed by cooking and lots and lots of…straining. 3 separate strainings might not seem like a lot but it was. There was a lot of liquid and I think in the end I had strained out about 5 cups of puree.

(*See note at the end of the post on the recipes/canning directions I used.)

It took a long time. I did the bulk of it one night from about 9pm until 1am. It was a pain.

But so worth it.

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The first straining for the juice. I used this batch for the jelly.
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About to begin second straining with fine mesh strainer and 3 layers of cheesecloth.
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Finally completed. This part is for the jelly. Now to do it all over for the other portion to be canned as juice only.
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The juice had been in the fridge for 24+ hours so now it was ready to strain, (again!) boil and can.
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About to lower the jars and bring to boil for processing.

The steps for making jelly was very much the same. It was refrigerated for 24+ hours, strained and boiled. But once boiled, sugar and sure jell, then more sugar was added to make it into jelly.

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About to add sugar mixed with sure jell.
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This was right before or after I added remaining sugar.
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I had about 1/4 cup leftover so of course I had to make a PBJ ☺
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8 jars on right are jelly. All others are juice.

Here is the end result! 7 pints (or 3 1/2 quarts) grape juice and 8 half-pints (or 4 pints or 2 quarts) grape jelly.

I wouldn’t say it was the easiest process but it wasn’t super hard either once I got past the straining business.

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Cost

For (8) 8oz jelly jars of grape jelly I spent $14.41. (Jars included.) That’s $1.80 per 8oz jar and 23¢ per oz.

Aldi’s jelly is more like 1.29 for 32oz and 4¢ per oz. But this homemade grape jelly is so much better. And it doesn’t have any of that corn syrup business in it. Ew.

The grape juice was $4.98 for 112 oz or 3.5 quarts. That’s 4¢ per oz.

Store bought grape juice can easily be that price for only 32oz. So I think this is a huge win.

All in all, I really enjoyed this. I’m looking forward to using up the juice & jelly this winter. Yummy!

Have you cannned grape juice before? This was something totally new for me…have you tried anything new & yummy in the kitchen lately?

~Rachel

*Note: I used the Concord Grape Jelly recipe from the book “Foolproof Preserving: A Guide to Small Batch Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Condiments & More” by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen.

The grape juice recipe I followed part from my canning book “Saving the Seasons”, by Mary Meyer and part from the National Center For Home Food Preservation website. (Basically the same recipe although the one on the web was more detailed.)

canning, Food, Seasonal Food

Canning Homegrown Black Vernissage Tomatoes (Small Batch Without a Kitchen Scale)

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Lately I have been super enjoying canning. And while I’ve canned before, there is something about canning what you’ve grown yourself.

I’m bursting with pride (probably unflatteringly so) over my little 13×13 foot garden. It’s tiny, but it’s mine and I tend it with care.

I’m growing a variety of things but currently the tomatoes are the ones that are producing like crazy. Which is a relief because when I transplanted them this spring they were quite scraggly.

They are now a tomato jungle.

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See? Jungle.

Today I had over 30 tomatoes ripe and sitting on my counter. Hmm. Lately I have been canning the black ones. Those are plants # 1, 3, 5 and 6 in the above photo, starting from the left. Plant #2 is a Sungold (yellow cherry tomato) and plant #4 is a Goldie (huge yellow tomatoes I wrote about in my BLT post).

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Black V. tomatoes ripening on the vine.
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Size compared to a cherry tomato.
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Size compared to a medium sized tomato I got from a produce stand.
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The black tomatoes are fairly juicy and do not hold their shape well during cooking.
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33 tomatoes, washed and sorted.

I knew I was canning them and I had a recipe in mind. I’ve been using this book called Foolproof Preserving: A Guide to Small Batch Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Condiments & More (by the editors from America’s Test Kitchen) from the library and I love it so much I want to buy it. But it’s nearly $20 😦 Maybe I can find a deal somewhere…

Anyways.

The recipe I wanted was for crushed tomatoes. But it called for 14 lbs of tomatoes to make 4 quarts canned and I knew I didn’t have that much. But with a bit of brain power I figured that if I cut down the ingredients to 1/4 of the recipe, it would be about right.

I had canned these tomatoes whole and I knew it would take about 14 to make 1 pint. Thus about 30 tomatoes to make 2 pints, or 1 quart. My other canning book said that it takes 2 1/2-3 1/2 lbs of tomatoes for 1 quart canned. So I figured I had about 3 lbs.

The only other ingredients were bottled lemon juice and salt. Easy.

And no, canning isn’t easy at first. I’m no veteran but I’ve been learning a lot from anyone willing to chat about canning. This is my first year canning tomatoes. Before I stuck to just fruit. (*Haha looking back on this post I realise that tomatoes are also fruit! 🙂 Applesauce, peaches, peach butter, blueberry butter. That’s about it 🙂

So I followed the directions to prepare for cooking the tomatoes.

Filling up pots with water, washing jars, prepping tomatoes, blanching and chopping them.

Now they were ready to cook and here is what the completed “sauce/crushed tomatoes” looked like⤵⤵⤵

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Ready to can! The burner under the water bath canner had been turned off already. So now…canning prep!

Prepped hot jars, sterilized lids, lemon juice and salt in jar, filled jars, left headspace, wiped rims and lids and made sure lids were properly loosened.

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Jar 1
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and jar 2.

Then the jars were carefully lowered and I placed the lid on and waited for the water to boil.

While I waited, I made lunch. Last nights leftover burrito filling…rice, black beans and seasoned ground beef mixed with the remaining 2/3 cup of crushed tomatoes. Yum.

The water boiled after a bit and judging by the directions I went with a 45-minute processing time. It was the correct time for my elevation for quart jars so I just went with it.

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Finished product!

I love listening for the jars to pop. I didn’t hear these ones pop but I will test them later. Both are indented and not raised, so that’s a good sign 🙂

Whew. All that work for 2 pint jars. But it’s still quite a bit of tomatoes. And I love preserving the fruits of my labor. I hope they taste good when I use them in a recipe later!

Do you can? I’d love to hear what you are preserving this year 🙂 Do you can by yourself or do you have help?

~Rachel

Food, Lunch/Simple Meal

Yummy Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free BLT

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Check it out. I made a blt the other day. No dairy. No gluten. It was super yummy.

I planted Goldie tomatoes (huge and yellow) this year and they are just starting to ripen. I was trying to decide what to do with them, although in the back if my mind I was wanting a blt. And I remembered that I like to eat my garbanzo bean burgers in between two slices of tomatoes instead of with bread.

Perhaps a tomato bread blt? And instead of mayo…guacamole. Just avocado, lime juice and seasonings. That’s it. Tomato, guacamole, bacon, lettuce.

Definitely not fat-free. But some fat is good for you. And who can argue with bacon? Ok maybe vegans. I couldn’t be a vegan/vegetarian. Sorry. I love meat.

Anyways. Onward.

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One tomato,
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sliced
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and topped with guacamole.
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Bacon,
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more guacamole, lettuce
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and topped with another tomato slice.
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Side view. Photo isn’t the best quality but here you can see the layers.

There’s really no particular recipe here. I cooked up some diced bacon (a little over 1/4 lb). I cut up an avocado, mashed it (I use a ziplock bag) and added a bit more fresh lime juice than usual..since I didn’t add mayo. Then salt, garlic powder and onion powder to taste. I usually buy romaine lettuce whole but Aldi was out. I got some bagged Caesar salad instead.

And that’s it. This sandwhich tastes like summer and really hits the spot. Fresh tomatoes from the garden make this so good 🙂

~~~

Cost:

This sandwich cost me $2.78. Not bad! Decreasing the meat and using produce from the garden keeps it cheap. I’ll use a bit less bacon next time haha.

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Beverages, Food

Cuppa Chocolate Mint & Nettle Tea

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I started to blog about french toast today. And while french toast is all very well and good, I wasn’t into it. At the moment I was sipping a cup of chocolate mint and nettle tea. Bing bing! Yes. Yes I will blog about that.

I love tea. Even in the summer. I usually drink it warm or iced in the warmer months though.

A favorite lately is combining a 50/50 ratio of dried chocolate mint and nettle.

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Nettle (L) and mint leaves.

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My nettle I purchased in a 1 lb package through iherb. There was a ton. Like 3+ quart jars. I bought it 2 years ago and there’s still lots.

Nettle is awesome because of the nutrients it has. Lots of calcium, magnesium and iron.

It’s really good for joint health, fatigue, seasonal allergies and menstrual cramps among other things (the list is long).

The leaves are safe to use once dried. It will not sting your insides 🙂

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Stinging nettle. Source: pixabay

Mint is also good for many things, although most people are familiar with its ability to soothe the stomach and nix bad breath. I’ve been reading Rosalee de la Forêt’s book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal and learned that peppermint not only soothes and refreshes but it gives you energy too. So its no suprise that it makes a nice pairing with nettle.

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Chocolate mint in my garden. If it wasn’t in a bucket it would be all over the place!
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Tea steeping in a quart jar, my favorite mug and my chocolate mint stash.
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Yummy cuppa tea.

Is saying “cuppa tea” just a British thing? I really like the phrase 🙂

How about you? What is your favorite tea (or beverage in general)? I would love to know! I’m always looking for new teas and beverages to try.

~Rachel