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, 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

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

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.)

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

Food, Snacks

Favorite Toddler Snacks #2 (All Healthy and Well-Loved)

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Toddler snacks are not glamorous. They are messy, sometimes strange and maddeningly frequent. I feel like I give out a million snacks a day. And usually my kids want the same things over and over.

But I’m putting a halt to the easy things. (Like pretzels.) And I’m cutting down on the snacks. Too many snacks=too full for supper. No supper and bedtime schedule is thrown off.

I need to focus on healthy snacking.

I thought I would go over our favorite healthy snacks again and share the ones L loves. Her tastes are different than J’s. She will eat everything from snack list #1 and more. It makes me happy she is such a good eater. Hopefully it will continue!

Here are 14 of her favorites. They are all healthy and approved by my 1-year-old’s tastebuds.

 

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    She loves her frozen peas! And they are awesome for helping with teething.
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    Frozen berries…we’ve been loving Bing cherries lately.
  3. Watermelon slices.
  4. Red grapes, cut in 1/2 or 4ths.
  5. Almonds or cashews, sliced
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    These snack bars from nature’s bakery. (Dairy-free!)
  7. Freeze dried strawberries
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    Part of a freshly baked whole wheat bagel (from the grocery store bakery).
  9. Corn chips and guacamole.
  10. Homemade graham crackers.
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    Fruit smoothies. I use 2ish cups almond milk, 1-2 frozen bananas and 1/4-1/2 cup frozen berries. Then cinnamon and sometimes spinach leaves or (quick 1-minute) rolled oats to add more fiber and balance out the sweetness.
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    Dried berries. We made dried cherries using our dehydrator.
  13. “Peanut butter bread” as J likes to say. (It’s just natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread).
  14. These teething buscuits. I admit I haven’t made them in awhile but I remember L loved them. I love that they have zero sugar and use up that powdered baby cereal that I could never manage to use up otherwise.

And that wraps up toddler snack list #2! It was fun to look at all the different things that L likes. The pickiness factor is not as strong. I’m thinking it’s either because she was breastfed or just because I’m more determined to keep offering her things. Probably both.

I was tempted to add “crayons” to the list because apparently they are delicious. She was gnawing on one as I was finishing up this post. *Throws hands in the air* Ah me. The lure of the tasty crayon is not so easily overcome.

~Rachel

Desserts, Food

Accidental Hot Fudge

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A few days ago I accidentally made hot fudge. Want to know how? It goes like this…

My son J demanded wanted no bake cookies. I thought that was a good idea because I love them too.

Out came the recipe and I began making them. Butter, sugar, cocoa…oh and almond milk. But then it looked strangely soupy. Oh no I added 1 cup of almond milk instead of 1/2 cup. I didn’t want it to go to waste so…

I added double the amount of butter, sugar and cocoa. Let it boil for 1 minute as usual. Then poured it into a glass measuring cup. It was about 2 cups so I poured out half back in the pan and made the cookies like normal.

Except now I realise that I had a double recipe’s worth of milk and varying degrees of the others. The butter, sugar and cocoa were at the same level but the peanut butter and oats were still at the half-batch amount.

No wonder they looked like pancakes. Oh well. They still tasted fine.

What to do with the rest of the liquid? Well it certainly looked like chocolate syrup. I wondered what would happen when I froze it.

So I poured it into a cake pan and popped it in the freezer. I forgot about it until the next day when I brought home a pint of frozen custard.

When I pulled off the plastic wrap from the cake pan, the chocolate sauce had all the appearance of “hot” fudge.

I put it on my frozen custard and it was divine. A bit heavy on the butter but totally delicious.

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Accidental Hot Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter (can sub non-dairy butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (or other dairy or non-dairy milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan as the butter melts. Boil for 1 minute.
  2. Pour into a metal cakepan to cool. Cover with plastic wrap (press it to the surface of the syrup) and freeze overnight.
  3. Spoon or drizzle hot or cold over your favorite dairy or non-dairy ice cream/frozen yogurt/custard 😊

Cost:

$1.24. Yeah. Cheap. If I divided the chocolate sauce and my pint of chocolate frozen custard into 4 servings it would only be $1.31 a serving. Even for 1 cup servings it would be $2.62. That’s about a dollar cheaper than the ones I order ready made.

Yay for frugal wins!

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Homemade {Crockpot} Coconut Yogurt

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Last Tuesday and Wednesday I finally did something about my yogurt conundrum. I’ve been wanting some good non-dairy yogurt that isn’t saturated with sugar like the storebought kind.

I’ve been putting it off because I thought it would be hard to make my own. I was wrong. It totally wasn’t hard. Long process, yes. But not hard.

Why coconut yogurt? Some of you may know I can’t have a lot of dairy products. Currently everything is out except butter and cheese and just a few other things…like my beloved frozen custard that I would probably die without.

Anyway. The process began when I saw my local natural food store had this yogurt starter for sale. It was $10 for a pack of 4 probiotic starter packets. Oy. I went back and forth about buying it.

Finally I did because I figured once I made some yogurt I could use part of that as a starter and hopefully never have to buy more starters.

For the recipe, I used this one from Dawn @smallfootprintfamily and got an idea of a time frame for the crockpot from this post by Trisha @funkyfoodallergies.

From start to finish, this took about 16 hours. That seems absurd, but let me break it down. It heated up from 4-7pm. From 7-11pm it cooled down. I added the stuff and then it fermented overnight from 11pm-9amish. Very little hands on time.

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Ingredients I used: 1 yogurt starter culture packet, 33.8 oz 100% coconut milk, 2 envalopes knox unflavored gelatin. Not pictured: 1 TBS honey.
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By 7pm, the coconut milk had reached 180°.

And yes, that is a meat thermometer.

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By 11pm, it had cooled to about 95°. This was taken after I had mixed in the gelatin and honey.
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Bedtime for the yogurt…wrapped up in 3 layers of towels. Let it sit overnight.
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This was the jello-like consistency after it was transferred from the crock pot to the fridge for several hours.
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Emptied it all into a bowl in the sink.

In retrospect, I believe I added a bit too much gelatin. I calculated that I would need 1.75 packages to make a quart of yogurt. But I got distracted while pouring it in because I was talking with my husband. I’m thinking this was the reason it turned out so thick.

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Whipped it up to a smooth consistency.
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I tried some plain before I put it in the fridge again. Was planning on sharing it with L…thus the baby spoon.
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The whipped texture after the second time in the fridge.
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Vanilla and strawberries make it yummy.

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But does it taste good? Is the price worth it?

To me, the answer is yes and yes. The flavor and texture is something to get used to. As directed, I used full fat coconut milk. It was hard to get used to the unsweetened plain flavor, but with the addition of vanilla and frozen strawberries..yes. Very good.

And the price?

I calculated I made about 35 oz. (After it was whisked to a fluffy texture.) The price came out to $7.71. That’s 22¢ per oz and 88¢ for 4 oz. The last time I bought coconut yogurt at Wal-Mart, it was $1.58 for a 4 oz container. And that stuff was sugared to the moon and back. And rather on the thin side to boot. Currently none of the stores in my area carry any cartons larger than 4 oz so I can make no comparison there.

So yes, pretty easy to make. Tastes good with flavorings added and cheaper than storebought. There is a bit of investment initially, but I think its worth it. Per batch the price is right. I’m calling this one a triple win 🙂

~Rachel

Food, Main Meal

Crockpot Calico Beans

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Growing up, there weren’t many family cookouts that felt complete without my Mom’s broccoli cauliflower salad or her calico beans. Just thinking about them brings me back to my Grandma’s house. All of my senses are enveloped and anchored when I enter Grandma’s kitchen.

Memories, comfort and love have always surrounded me there. We all loved seeing Grandma (still do!) but we especially appreciated all the food she and everyone else made for us.

After I was married, I made the transition to cooking a lot more. I had to find my niche. See what recipes work for my family. And even now, its a process.

I’ve recently learned that I can make calico beans in my crock pot. I found an awesome recipe by The Crockin’ Girls that I adapted a bit. It tastes different than my Mom’s recipe. She uses more beans and cooks hers in the oven. It’s thicker that way and richer in flavor. Soooo good!

So yeah it does taste different. But still yummy 🙂 My husband wolfed down his when I first tried the recipe. I said, “I didn’t know you liked calico beans so much!” To which he replied, “It’s the sauce babe. It’s so good!” Suffice to say, he stuffed himself. And L loved it too. She didn’t eat a lot but this is the only way I can get her to eat beans.

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Bacon.

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Ground beef.

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Vinegar, lima beans, brown sugar, pork and beans, organic ketchup and onions.
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Add all ingredients to crock pot.
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Mix.
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Yummy leftover calico beans I had cold for supper yesterday.

 


 

Crockpot Calico Beans

Makes 8+ servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb bacon
  • 1 can lima beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 cans pork and beans
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 pinch s & p

Directions:

  1. Dice bacon & cook till barely done. Add to crock pot.
  2. Drain bacon grease & cook ground beef. (Optional: cook the onions with the beef.)
  3. Drain fat and add beef to crock pot. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Cook on low 1 hour, high 3+ hours. **Edit: I realize now it makes more sense to cook for 4+ hours on high, if you are not cooking the onions with the ground beef.

Note: If you cook the beef and onion together, you can cook the calico beans for 4 hours on low. This method would bring the flavor up a notch. I seem to forget every time but either way it works out!

Cost:

I calculated that it cost me $9.26 to make this recipe. But it makes a lot. Like 2 quarts. So (8) 1 cup servings at $1.15 each. 

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Recipe adapted from “Calico Beans”, by The Crockin’ Girls.

Food, Snacks

Homemade Graham Crackers

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Last night I made Rachael Ray’s Penne with Turkey and Broccolini for supper. It’s one of my go-to recipes that seems to be easy, tasty and well-liked by everyone. We also had cucumber spears and berry fruit salad.

But that’s not what this post is about.

After supper I decided to make homemade graham crackers again. I think this is my 4th time making them. Little House Living has a fantastic recipe going on. I love her blog. And she’s right, this recipe is simple and yummy.

My family loves these so much. Its fun for me to make too and I know exactly what is in them. Plus, you know, I get to sneak a few bites of the dough. We still eat graham crackers from the store, these just make for a different change of pace. Kinda like homemade pizza adds spice to the pizza game. This recipe does that for graham crackers.

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Mixing.

I got to use my Hatian vanilla! It smells so good. I followed the directions and added 1/2 of the recipe amount, since it’s concentrated.

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Prepping the dough for baking.
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The marvelous finished product.

These pictures seem like the Instagram type. However, since I am sans Instagram, you get to see them here 🙂 Plus I get bored of listing pictures sometimes. Collages are much more fun.

A few observations about the recipe.

  • Parchment paper does work well for sandwiching the dough during the rolling process. Plastic wrap will work too but it is very annoying to re-adjust. In a pinch you could use 2 gallon ziplocks with the sides cut out.
  • Experiment with thickness. I like mine thicker, more like a cookie. My son J prefers his crackers to be thin and crispy.
  • I used a fork instead of a toothpick to prick the dough..easier and takes a bit less time 😉
  • I baked mine at about 385-390° for 15 minutes. They could have stood a little less time but still taste really good.

Cost:

I broke down the pricing for storebought vs. homemade and this is what I found…

Homemade: $2.06 for 1 recipe. This makes at least 25 squares. So 8¢ per square.

Aldis is: $1.29 for about 52 squares (as well as I could figure our box is nearly empty and the serving size was vague). That’s per square.

Comparable? For me the homemade is worth it. Although they aren’t as shelf stable. But the taste..there is no comparison with the taste.

You can taste the crisp buttery goodness, the molasses and cinnamon. The crispy just baked texture. Heaven. Can you tell I’m currently eating some?? 😛

Last night I officially copied down the recipe and put it in my 3-ring binder that holds all my grocery, food and meal stuff. Right next to the recipe for homemade goldfish crackers 🙂

~Rachel

P.s.- If you’re looking for more healthy snack ideas for your kids (or yourself as well) check out my post Favorite Toddler Snacks.

P.s.s.- Sub non-dairy butter and this recipe is dairy-free! I haven’t tried it yet but I see no reason why it wouldn’t work.

Desserts, Food

Double Decker Fudge Brownie Cake (Dairy Free!)

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I made this cake recently and oh my it was good. My son J recently turned 4 and I wanted to make him something special. He does not like cake. I’m just getting him into ice cream too. But he loves brownies.

And because there were some guests in attendence that cannot tolerate dairy, I decided to make this cake 100% dairy free. 

I found a fudgy brownie recipe that I wanted to try. It called for butter and I decided I wanted to sub unsweetened applesauce.

Which led me to this article. Combining these tips with a modified version of the cookbook recipe led me to the delicious finished product.

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We all agreed. It was good.

It is wonderfully dense and moist. The flavor is awesome, even without butter or dairy. The substitution of applesauce for butter can make it less moist though, so its important not to overcook.

I made a triple batch but one of the 3 layers ended up becoming a bit singed. I used 9″ round cake pans, so my layers were on the thinner side. If (or rather when) I make it again, I would keep the recipe as is and use 2 pans.

My oven I set to 375°. All ovens are different though. Mine tends to run on the cool side.


Double Decker Fudge Brownie Cake

Note: this recipe is for a triple batch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon natural (no sugar added) applesauce
  • 1 2/3 cups cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla (optional)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • (2) 16oz jars of non-dairy frosting. I used Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Vanilla frosting.

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and cocoa in a small saucepan. Mix thoroughly and cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare (2) 8″ round cake pans by lining them with greased foil. I used coconut oil to grease my foiled pans.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk applesauce and eggs. Then whisk in cooled cocoa mixture.
  4. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix.
  6. Divide batter evenly between pans.
  7. Bake just shy of 30 minutes. Mine were done by the 27 minute mark.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool before frosting.

To frost:

  1. Place cake #1 upside down on a plate. Frost, heaping frosting towards the outer edge.
  2. Place cake #2 right side up on frosting. Frost as desired. I frosted the top, but left the sides bare.

Note: If cake #1 is uneven on top, use a bread knife to slice off a thin layer to even it out. This ensures that your cake will bear no resemblance to the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Enjoy!

~Rachel

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 15th Edition

Food, Main Meal

Delicious Beef & Root Vegetable Soup

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This is a simple supper recipe that I cooked up on Thursday. It turned out surprisingly well. Such is not always the case with my food “experiments”.

And yes, it is hot outside lately. Eat the soup slightly warm with a cold side dish and you have it made. It works.

My family might as well be hobbits. We don’t have hairy feet but we do like to eat a lot. The little ones more so. And we crave simple flavorful food.

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I love simple. I love easy. Sometimes I don’t want to share any recipes ’cause I’m like, “Nah. That’s too easy. Not interesting”. But seriously. This one is surprisingly flavorful and good. I say that because the only seasoning is salt and pepper, yet it tastes like there is more.

We all loved it, except for J, who tends to be a trifle finicky. At least he loves raw carrots. (Suprises me greatly.)

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Work with what you’ve got. I had potatoes, carrots and onions so I used those. Any root veggies typically blend well. Ground turkey is a good sub for ground beef as well. Use what you’ve got. You might be suprised at how well it turns out.


Delicious Beef & Root Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 large white baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, halved and sliced.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (I use Massel 7’s brand)
  • s & p

Directions:

  1. Boil potatoes (cover with at least 2″ of water).
  2. Add the carrots.
  3. Cook the ground beef with the onion until the onion has softened (slightly translucent). While cooking, season with s & p.
  4. Add beef bouillon cubes to soup pot. Dissolve, then add meat mixture.
  5. Let cook 5-10 minutes, or till reduced and tender to your liking.

 

Happy cooking with the po-ta-toes!

~Rachel

Food, Snacks

Favorite Toddler Snacks #1 (Healthy and Loved By My Little, Too!)

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If you are reading this post, then it is likely that you have a toddler and know very well what I am about to say. Toddlers have sporadic eating habits. In between the cravings for all things crackers, and the constant demands for something to eat coupled with the game of making them actually want to eat something healthy…it can get to be a bit of a challenge. But the need to eat will always be there. So its up to us to find healthy solutions for our kids and family.

It can be a difficult thing to find healthy snacks. But it doesn’t have to be. Sure, I have days where I feed him semi-unhealthy snacks that he wants because the alternative is not eating anything. But I try to save the more unhealthy options for when we are out of the house shopping, for example.

When my son was approaching his first birthday, I began a pinterest board of toddler snack ideas. Because pinterest is the place to go when you have an unsolved problem and you want to know what the masses think. The masses aren’t often wrong.

However, not everyone’s child will have a palate that lines up with everybody else’s child. This is totally ok. But the neat thing about looking at what others feed their children is that sometimes you may come across something excitingly delicious, and healthy and dare I say it, also easy to prepare. So here is my toddler snack food list.

Healthy Toddler Snack Ideas

1. 1/4 of a whole wheat tortilla

2. Natural applesauce cups

3. English cucumbers, peeled and sliced

4. Greek yogurt

5. Small Macintosh apple, left unpeeled

6. Canned sliced peaches in 100% fruit juice, cut into pieces.

7. Baby carrots

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8. Homemade cheese crackers
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9. Homemade popcorn
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10. Homemade biscuits

11. Red (Angou) Pears, sliced and peeled.

12. Fruit or Veggie Muffins

13. Cottage cheese

14. Any type of cheese imaginable. Swiss, Munster, cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan is his new favorite.

My little really doesn’t like very many veggies. But *cucumbers and baby carrots he loves a lot. We do a special crunchy face where we chew with our mouths open and squint our eyes when eating carrots. Anything to get him to eat his veggies. He loves fruits and will eat pretty much any kind except berries and melon. Apples and bananas are his favorites. Black olives are kinda his quirky thing that he likes. I really don’t know too many kids or adults that like them. But Baby J sure does! I didn’t think they were all that healthy so I asked his doctor about it. He said, “Well they really aren’t all that unhealthy”. So I guess they have fiber if nothing else. And also, his doctor made the point that you really can’t force kids to eat what they don’t want anyway.

I hope that was able to give some encouragement with this post. All kids have stages where they only want to eat x, y, z. And it passes, eventually. If your kid(s) just want to eat 1 food and its healthy, I say let them have as much as they want 🙂

*Bonus these two veggies are great to eat in the summer heat, but they also really help with teething. Particularly molars. Mom win.

~Rachel