Monday, January 28, 2013

Minestrone soup

Here is a simple recipe from EcoThrifty. If you are new to cooking, make this on the weekend when you are not feeling rushed. If you have a large family, you can double or triple this. Even if you don't have a large family, you can double this recipe and have left-overs for lunch during the week at work.

Minestrone is a great soup to make on a day when you can’t spend much time in the kitchen. It also works well in a slow cooker. If you will be gone all day, don’t add the pasta until you get home because it will be cooked to pieces after a couple hours.

Minestrone Soup
Serves 4
2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
2 quarts water
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1/2 pound green beans sliced
1 pound chopped tomatoes, frozen or canned
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked rotini or penne pasta
Drain the soaking beans and put them in a 5-quart pot. Add the 2 quarts of water. Cook over low heat until the beans are almost done, which will take about 2 hours. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot except for the pasta. Cook for 30 minutes, add the pasta and cook until it is done. If you have any spinach or cabbage in the refrigerator, feel free to add a cup to the pot.

Alternatively, put all the ingredients except the pasta in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Then add the pasta and cook until the pasta is done.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The best muffins ever!


It's a shame most Americans demand food out of season. They have no idea what jewels of culinary delight they are missing! We have discovered many delicious foods when we have been forced to think outside our cultural food box. Because our chickens are no longer laying, we are rationing eggs, which is typical for us in January. I created this recipe a few years ago, and it quickly became a family favorite. I even make these muffins when we have plenty of eggs!

Antiquity Oaks Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 T. baking powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups goat milk
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Mix together the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Using unbleached flour is healthier (no bleaching residue) and gives muffins a more golden glow after baking. Cut in a stick of butter, using a pastry blender, which is that thingie in the upper left corner of the photo. Add the milk and stir. For those of you without a goat, you can use whole cow milk. The dough will look a little looser than cookie dough, but definitely won't look like your typical muffin batter.

Don't overmix it, because you still need to add the chocolate chips, which will, of course, mean that you have to stir a little more to get the chips properly distributed. If you are lacking one or more of the different types of chocolate chips, don't worry. Just make sure the total amount of chips equals 1 1/2 cups. You probably noticed there is not a lot of sugar in this recipe, so you need the chocolate chips for sweetness.

Put the batter into your muffin pan. It will be heaping, which is totally unlike most muffin recipes where you fill the cups 1/2 to 2/3 full. With so much flour and no egg, these muffins are heavy duty, so don't expect them to melt and spread out.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. These muffins are absolutely the most delicious thing created since the invention of the oven! Okay, that's just my humble opinion.

Whether you're tromping through the snow or lounging on the beaches down under, Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Come home to a hot dinner

To help you with this month's goal of cooking at home, here is a soup recipe from EcoThrifty:

For years, split pea soup was one of our favorite dinners in the winter. When I worked full time, I would start the soup in a slow cooker and put dough ingredients in the bread maker before leaving in the morning. We would arrive home in the evening to the wonderful aroma of fresh bread and split pea soup. For those who think split pea soup is boring, or if you are a fan of spicy food, try adding a few drops of hot sauce to this soup.

If you know that your slow cooker can cook split peas in less time than you’ll be gone, use an appliance timer to start the cooking in time for the soup to be ready when you get home from work. It is usually best to try this first on a day when you will be home to watch the cooking in progress so that you don’t undercook the split peas or wind up with a pot that is completely dried out and a big pain to clean.

This soup makes a satisfying, nutritious and frugal meal served with grilled cheese sandwiches made with slices of cheddar cheese and whole grain bread made from the basic bread recipe.

Split Pea Soup
Serves 4
2 cups dried split peas
2 quarts water
1/2 cup dried great northern beans or navy beans
1/4 cup barley
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 to 1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Put all of the ingredients into a pot and cook over low heat for about 2 hours. Watch it very closely towards the end because as the peas cook, they can start to stick and burn. I prefer to use a slow cooker for this soup because it cooks on such a low, even heat, I don’t have to worry about burning.

This post was shared at Motivation Monday.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Healthier eating one month at a time


Happy New Year! A new year really is a great time to make plans for a new life. Whether you routinely make resolutions every January 1 or you swore them off years ago as impossible, I hope you'll at least "hear me out" and read the rest of this post.

It is a well-accepted fact that the majority of our health problems today are diet related -- heart disease, cancer, diabetes, cholesterol, and so on -- and there are very few among us who couldn't improve on some aspects of our diet. And knowing that healthy habits do not magically appear overnight, I thought it would be fun and helpful to set one healthy eating goal every month to focus on.

For January, the goal is simply to cook at home -- from scratch -- more often! Regardless of where you are on your food journey, you can do this. If you eat out three or four times per week or per month, set a goal to eat at home more often. If you already eat at home quite a bit, but you are heating up food from a box or can, set a goal to cook from scratch more. If you eat out every day for lunch, then double the size of the dinner you cook so that you can take left-overs for lunch.

Why should you do this? Because almost half of all food dollars in the United States are spent away from home. Yep, almost half of the money people spend on food is spent at restaurants and fast food establishments. Of course, you are not eating half of your meals away from home because eating out costs two to four times as much as eating at home, so eating out is an expensive habit. And who among us does not eat more when eating out? Restaurant servings are usually about twice as large as what we should be eating. And even if you try to control your portions when eating out, the food is often high in salt, fat, and sugar. By eating at home more, you will reduce the number of calories you consume, and you will save a lot of money! If you eat at home rather than a fast food establishment, you will also keep a lot of garbage out of landfills.

To get you started, I'll be posting simple recipes on here throughout the year. We'll have a different goal each month, and as you focus on that goal, I'll be providing tips and recipes during the month to help you stay on track. If you haven't done so already, you can sign up to "Get new posts by email" in the right-hand column so that you don't miss anything!
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