Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Paleo Crackers with Zucchini (grain-free & nut-free)

Man, it has been one helluva week so far, and it's only Wednesday.  Found out this morning that someone got a hold of my husbands debt card number and charged over $1,000 at a JC Penney in Louisville, KY yesterday.  Glad our bank account could be of help to this poor person who desperately needed to spend $1,000 at JC Penney!!!!!  Now I have checks that are going to bounce, online payments that aren't going to go through and a lot of explaining to do to all of those people when they find out they aren't going to get their money when they were expecting it.  UGH!  Oh the joys of living during the age of the Internet!

There is one bright spot in my day, I'm pretty excited to be bringing you this recipe today.  My first Paleo recipe, which is a great one because not only is it gluten-free, but it's also grain-free and nut-free, just in case you have some serious allergies, which I know there are a lot of people out there that do.  A month or so ago I made this recipe for Apple Pie Crackers that were wonderful.  My little boys loved them.  After eating them I thought to myself, there has to be a good way to make these crackers savory instead of sweet to eat with guacamole (or any other dip you prefer).  A few changes here, a modification there and voila, savory, grain and nut free crackers for the whole family to love, and my whole family does love them!  And if you want a sweeter version, which is perfect to crumble up in a bowl and add some almond milk to for a great breakfast cereal, head over to Healthful Pursuit and give their recipe a try.

Zucchini Paleo Crackers
adapted from Healthful Pursuit

1 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons grape seed oil
1/4 cup luke warm water
1 3/4 cups ground flax seed
1/4 cup ground sunflower seed
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to sprinkle on top of the crackers
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  You'll need two baking sheets, set aside.
2. Place zucchini, oil, water and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until zucchini is completely pureed.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until just combined.
3. Take a piece of parchment paper, about 10" wide, scoop 1/2 the cracker dough, roll between your hands to make a ball, then place on one side of the parchment paper, in the middle.  Fold over the parchment (like a book) and then roll the dough between the two pieces of paper until its about 1/4" thick.  Score the crackers into 1" cubes.  Keep dough on parchment paper and transfer to a cookie sheet.  Repeat with second 1/2 of dough and second cookie sheet.

4. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes.  Flip the crackers halfway through the cooking time, removing the parchment paper and sprinkling with sea salt.  The end result should be a cracker that is crisp and crunchy with no moisture left and not burnt!  Let crackers cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Irish Beef Stew

Yes, I'm a day late (and a lot of dollars short!), better late than never I always hear people say.  So, how was everyone's St. Patrick's Day?  Mine was just another day.  Got up at 6:45 am, took my 5 year old to school, came home, posted to my blog, worked out, took a shower, updated my accounts on, played with my 2 year old, did some school work, did laundry, searched through Pinterest for new recipe ideas, made a St. Patrick's Day dessert, picked up my 5 year old from school, took my mother-in-law back to Walmart, didn't get back home until 5 pm, stressed about whether I'd have enough time to make a tasty Irish beef stew before bedtime, finally started making dinner, ate dinner, cleaned the dishes, got my little boys in bed, watched the Voice, caught up on the NO new details of missing flight 370 and finally crawled into bed around 11:15 pm.  Yup, that's pretty much a normal day for me.

Speaking of flight 370, are you as addicted to the story as I am.  I drove to Denver (that's a 4 hour drive one way) and back this past weekend and pretty close to the whole drive was spent listening to CNN on Sirius radio hoping for some exciting new information.  But it's all just speculation, its getting very frustrating, I can't imagine how the families of the missing people must feel right now.  Even as frustrating as it is for me, I can't stop myself from watching or listening to CNN hoping they have finally found the plane.  How does a huge plane like that go missing?  I mean, my iPhone has an app on it that allows me to find it if it's missing, shouldn't these planes have the same thing?  Log in to your iCloud, send out a ping and voila, the missing plane is found.  OK, not that easy?  Fine, I'll let all the investigators do their jobs and keep my mouth shut.  I do pray that they find it soon, for the sake of the families.  It is truly a heartbreaking situation.

For St. Patrick's Day we had Irish beef stew for dinner.  I knew I'd never get my 5 year old and my 2 year old to eat corned beef and cabbage so I tried for something a little more kid friendly for our dinner.  This was the first time I had ever made Irish beef stew and let me tell was amazing!  I think you'll enjoy the recipe.  Don't wait for the next St. Patrick's Day to roll around, make this any night of the week, any month of the year!

Irish Beef Stew
(my Instagram picture, one beer for the recipe, one for the cook to drink!)

2.5 lbs of stew beef, cut into 1/2" by 1/2" pieces 
about 1/3 cup flour
3 Tablespoons of canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups white mushrooms, chopped
3 teaspoons minced garlic
6 oz tomato paste
4 cups beef broth
3 bay leaves
12 oz Killian's Irish Red beer
2 large russet potatoes, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
Parsley for garnish

1. Heat 2T canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Toss meat in flour, lightly coat and shake off excess.
2. Brown meat in pot in batches.  You don't want to crowd the meat, you want it to brown not boil.  I did mine in 3 different batches.  Cook meat for about 2-3 minutes, just until browned.  Remove from pot and set aside.
3. Heat 1T oil, add onions, mushrooms and garlic.  Cook until onions become translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Return meat to pot with tomato paste, broth, bay leaves and beer.  Mix well.
4. Add potatoes and carrots.  Bring stew to a light boil and allow stew to simmer for about an hour on medium-low heat, until veggies are soft and meat is tender.  Remove bay leaves before serving.
*Note: My stew was the perfect thickness after an hour of simmering.  If your stew is too thin mix 1 Tablespoon of corn starch with 2-3 Tablespoons of water in a bowl and mix into the stew right before serving.  Allow corn starch to thicken the stew to desired thickness and then serve.  It should only take 3-5 minutes to get it to thicken up a lot!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Green Fruit Sangria

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Hope you are wearing green, I'd hate to have to hunt you down and pinch you just because you aren't!  So, true story, I come from an Irish family, on my dad's side.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my dad took the day off of work just because it's St. Patrick's Day.  I guarantee he is wearing green, I guarantee he will be eating corned beef and cabbage and I also guarantee that he will be drinking at least one green beer today (he does have to get up tomorrow morning at 3am to go to work so he might be taking it easy on himself...wait, he's Irish, scratch that, I'm sure he'll be having several green beers.)  But, if, like me, you aren't a beer drinker (gasp! an Irish girl that doesn't like beer) then this Sangria might be a great alternative for you.  I considered throwing a generous shot of Irish whiskey into the recipe so I could call it an Irish Sangria, but alas, I didn't have any in my liquor cabinet (gasp! again).  Making a mental note to make that next year for St. Patrick's Day.  

Sangria has been my favorite drink for about a year now.  I don't really remember the first place I had one, but I do remember I tried it because I saw an advertisement sitting on the restaurant table and it looked really refreshing with all that fresh fruit. After that I was hooked.  We went on a cruise this past November and I was really disappointed that the cruise line (which shall remain nameless for fear of all my blog readers going on strike against them) didn't serve them!  With all that fresh fruit you would think it would be the perfect drink to serve on a topical vacation, wouldn't you think that???  Well I thought that, but nope!  And this was of course after I found out that they didn't have a sushi bar either! (Note to self, make a tropical Sangria to prove them wrong!)

Traditional Sangria is made with red wine, hence the name Sangria.  According to wikipedia, Sangria is named after the Spanish and Portuguese word for "bloodletting" because of its typical dark-red color. Personally, I prefer the red wine Sangria, which is really strange because I do not like to drink red wine on its own.  But, having said that, this Sangria, made with Moscato was pretty darn tasty too.  If you haven't tried a Sangria yet, give this one a try, it has a very mild flavor and its light and refreshing, I think you'll really enjoy it.

Green Fruit Sangria
adapted from Amanda's Cookin
750 ml Moscato Wine
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1 cup green grapes
1/3 large cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 green apple, thinly sliced
1/2 green pear, thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 liter club soda or lemon-lime soda

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher.  Allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  If you aren't serving it right away you might want to wait to add the soda until right before serving it so it doesn't go flat.  
*Note: I recommend using a lemon-lime soda instead of club soda.  If you use club soda you might want to add about a 1/4 cup of simple syrup to the mixture to sweeten it up a bit. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Leprechaun Green Fizz (kid-friendly drink)

As promised, two recipes in one day!  This is my take on a kid-friendly St. Patrick's Day drink.  There really isn't a recipe for this drink, more a method.  I got the idea for this drink when I was searching through Pinterest one day for drink ideas and I came across this really cool red, white and blue drink for 4th of July.  I thought my green drink for St. Patrick's Day would look cooler than it does, but in the end, taste matters more than looks and my little boys LOVED this drink.  In order to get the layering effect you need to pick drinks with different sugar contents.  The drink with the heaviest (or largest amount) of sugar goes on the bottom.  For my drink above I have Mountain Dew on the bottom, I don't know if you could find a green tinted drink with more sugar than Mountain Dew!  Please let me know if you do!  The middle layer, which is difficult to see in my picture, is Sprite and the top layer is green (lemon-lime flavor) Kool-Aid.  Unfortunately for me, I think the Sprite and the Kool-Aid had close to the same sugar content.  I made the Kool-Aid from the small pouch of drink mix so I really had no idea what the sugar content was on it, I was just taking a guess that it was less than the Sprite.  To make the drink put a little bit of ice on the bottom of your glass and pour in the Mountain Dew, fill only about 1/4 of the glass.  Next fill the glass to the top with more ice then slowly pour in the Sprite, about 2/3 of the glass should be full now with liquid.  Finally, slowly pour in the Kool-Aid until full.  The trick is to pour the last two liquids SLOWLY so that they sit on top of the layer before it, instead of mixing with it.

Here is a great video that explains the process a little better.

Green Cabbage and Jicama Slaw

I know, I know, I know...I'm late getting this post up.  I promised it to you on Friday (if you follow me on instagram: 7DifferentRecipes...follow me....right now!) but I have several really good reasons!  Remember how I told you my MacBook wasn't working? (read this post if you haven't already)  Well, I had to take it to Denver (a four hour drive from where I live) to get it inspected.  Notice how I didn't say, "to get it fixed!"  Apparently the problem will take 3-5 days to fix and since I am NOT planning on driving back to Denver anytime soon I had to bring it home with me.  So you see, I spent all day Friday driving to Denver, trying to find the Apple Store (a nightmare in Friday afternoon Denver traffic) and then found out that it would not get fixed.  I stayed the night in Denver so I didn't have access to another computer with which to post this amazing recipe.  Saturday I had to pick up my oldest son, who is 15 years old, from the airport and proceeded to drive back home from Denver.  When I finally got home I had to take my mother-in-law to Walmart to get a prescription filled only to arrive at Walmart at 7:30 pm and find out that the pharmacy was already closed...lucky me!  Plus, you know I'm a full-time student now too.  I had an assignment due today that I have been putting off all week.  Yes!  I'm a procrastinator when it comes to school work, especially when I'm taking online classes.  I'm hoping you'll forgive me, if you promise to forgive me I'll post two recipes  Ok good!  I like that we can work together for a common good!

Today's recipe is another great one for St. Patrick's Day. Yes, I know that's tomorrow and you've probably already done your grocery shopping for the next week (two weeks if you are me) but you probably have most of these ingredients on hand already so I'm sure you can just add this to your menu for tomorrow.  The jicama and pear in this slaw recipe give it a sweetness while the apple cider vinegar gives it a great tartness.  And if you like things a little spicy you can add more of your favorite hot sauce to give it a real kick.  I'm kinda whimpy so I only added two little dashes!

Ok, blogger is really confusing me right keeps underlining jicama like I'm spelling it wrong.  Am I?  I looked it up online and says it's right.  Strange...and very confusing!

Green Cabbage & Jicama Slaw
1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced into thin strips
1/2 large jicama, grated (I used my food processor)
3 carrots, grated (food processor again)
1 green pear, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
dash or two of your favorite hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Combine green cabbage, jicama, carrots, pear and almonds in a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine remaining ingredients to create the dressing for the slaw.
3. Pour and mix the dressing with the cabbage mixture and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Irish Soda Bread w/ Kale

I have been having the worst luck with technology the last few days.  My MacBook has decided to revolt against me, the screen goes black all of the sudden.  I can get it to come back on if I dim the brightness all the way down and then slowly brighten it back up, but if I make it too bright it goes to black again, and it only lasts for about 5 minutes.  My hubby has a computer in our bedroom with a very large TV screen as his monitor, which I love using (except that its a Windows machine) and I'm currently working on.  The only problem is that it's in our basement and its always COLD down here!  Plus when I'm in the basement, the munchkins find all kinds of trouble to get into.

Another technology issue I'm having has to do with this Windows machine.  My little boys and I wanted to have movie night after dinner and pj's were on.  Since my hubby is out of town and it's Spring Break I decided it would be fun to do movie night snuggled up in mom and dad's bed (we have an electric blanket!).  So Sunday night, around 7:30, I came down and turned on the computer and started up Netflix.  It took the boys 20 minutes to decide what movie they wanted to watch.  When I tried to play it, Netflix proceeded to tell me that I needed to download Silverlight.  Didn't think it was that big of a deal at the time, but then the Windows machine decided it didn't like Silverlight and rejected it, telling me I was missing some file I knew I was in trouble, especially since Silverlight is a Microsoft program...WTH???  (I'm not the computer wizard in our house, that's the hubby, who is out of town!)  After trying for over an hour to get the darn thing to work I finally gave up and made the little munchkins pick a movie from out DVD collection.  We ended up watching Despicable Me.  Here it is Thursday and I still haven't been able to get Netflix to work on this computer.  Instead, I took our Google Chromecast from the TV upstairs, brought it to this TV/Computer and we are watching Netflix through that now.

My final technology problem is with my Passport.  For those of you who don't know, a Passport is an external hard-drive.  I use it to store all my know, for this blog!  Before my laptop decided to take a crap I transferred all my photos over to my Passport.  This is the second Passport I've had, the first has tons of pictures of my 5 year old when he was just a baby, all my digital scrapbooking files as well as the scrapbook pages I've made (probably around 200 of them).  I can't get the first one to work on any computer, I've sent it to several different people hoping they would be genius enough to make it work but no luck.  My next option is to send it to some data recovery place that wants to charge me $1,500 to pull all the stuff off of it...donations anyone?  This however, is not my current technology problem I'm having with the Passport, this problem is with the second one.  This Passport has no problem connecting to my Mac; my Mac recognizes it, let's me save stuff to it, opens up when I need it to, etc.  The Passport does not like the Windows machine (can't say I blame it all that much).  The Windows machine won't even acknowledge that it's plugged into the machine.  So my problem?  How do I get the dang pictures I need off of the Passport onto the Windows machine to post them to this blog?!?!?!?  Well I still have them on my digital camera, I figured I'd just get my little USB cord, plug in my camera to the Windows machine and viola, my pictures!  NOPE!  The Windows machine doesn't like the camera either.  At least it recognizes it though.  Says I need a driver, well the Canon website states that my Rebel doesn't need a driver.  UGH!  I give up!  I just took the darn SD card out of my camera and plugged it into the computer.  You wouldn't think that would be as big of a deal as I'm making it camera is almost 10  years old and the button to push the card out of the slot is broken so I have to pry it out with a paperclip...good times!

I'm telling you all of this so you'll understand just how hard I've worked to get this amazing recipe to you!  Not to mention that I created it while having two young kids at home all day...with no hubby around to distract them and my in-laws here.  Don't even get me started on that subject, we'll save that for another day of rants!

This recipe is amazing...please make are you still reading this?  Go make it!  Oh, yeah, you need the ingredient list and directions...duh! The kale gives the bread a tangy taste with a slight green tint, perfect for serving on St. Patrick's Day, but really, this bread could be served with any meal.  The presentation of the bread, whole or cut open, will wow your dinner mates!

Irish Soda Bread with Kale
adapted from Epicurious

2 tablespoons white vinegar
about 1 1/2 cups milk
1/8 cup olive oil
5 stalks kale, hard stems removed
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
extra flour for dusting

1. Make sour milk:  Get a measuring cup that will hold at least 1 1/2 cups.  Pour 2 tablespoons of vinegar into measuring cup and then fill up to 1 1/2 cups with milk.  The milk needs time to sour, about 10 minutes. Or you could just use 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk.
2. Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly flour baking sheet.
3. In a blender or food processor combine the kale and the olive oil until it is almost a paste.  I wanted chunks of kale in my bread so I stopped before it was completely smooth.  This should create about 3/4 cup of the kale mixture. Set aside.
4. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin and red pepper flakes in a large bowl.  Add sour milk (buttermilk) about 1/2 cup at a time until moist clumps form.  Add kale mixture and mix until just combined.
5. Gather dough into ball and turn out onto lightly floured surface.  Knead dough until it holds together, about 1 minute.  Shape dough into 6-inch diameter by 2-inch high round.  Place on baking sheet and cut 1-inch X across top of bread, extending almost to edges.

6. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes.  Transfer bread to rack and cool.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blueberry Muffins with Spinach - Perfect for St. Patrick's Day

Happy Monday to you all!

To get my blog up and going again I decided to spice it up a bit and added a few more sections.  One section that I was really excited about was the holiday recipes.  I have two little boys, 5 and 2 years old, and they love it when a holiday rolls around and they wake up to red and green cereal, or blue and orange pancakes (we are Denver Bronco fans in this house, or at least they are).  I am always trying to figure out ways to incorporate whatever holiday or special occasion it is into my cooking.  With St. Patrick's Day right around the corner I figured it was the best holiday to start my holiday recipe section with.  Now we could make this really easy and just have, say GREEN pancakes

or GREEN waffles
(click on picture for credit)

But then I thought about what kind of mom would I consider myself if all I did was whip up some Bisquick (yes, some mornings I'm too tired to make pancakes or waffles from scratch!) and added green food coloring.  Not that there is anything wrong with doing that, but I blog about food for crying out loud, I need to be a little more creative than that!  So after doing a little research online (and by that I mean looking through Pinterest) I found that I could easily make my food green by adding some pureed spinach.  I know what you are kids will never eat anything that has spinach in it!  My advice...DON'T TELL THEM!  Do you hate me now for giving you that advice?  Tell a little while lie if you have to, "no sweetie, it's just a little green food coloring!"  You might feel awful about telling your children this little white lie, but think of how good you'll feel knowing you got your kids to eat spinach instead of artificial food coloring!  Personally, I don't have to do that with my kids.  They have been drinking my green smoothies since they were about 8 months old, they know spinach is what makes them green and they still love drinking them.  Plus, I ate one of these beauties this morning and there is absolutely no taste of spinach in them.  The directions for the recipe are a tiny bit labor intensive, compared to opening a pouch of blueberry muffin mix, adding some milk and eggs and baking.  But it's so worth it.  These will be perfect for your St. Patrick's Day breakfast!

Blueberry-Spinach Muffins
adapted from: Inspired Taste

**Note:  I live in an area that is close to 6,000' above sea level so I altered this recipe slightly.  I have marked these alterations in red.

1 1/2 cups of All-Purpose flour (I added 2T)
3/4 cup of sugar (I subtracted 1T)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder (I cut this in half, only 1t)
Large handful of fresh spinach
1/3 cup of oil (recipe called for vegetable oil, but I used melted coconut oil instead)
1 large egg, room temperature
1/3 - 1/2 cup of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw out if using frozen berries)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare muffin cups.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with a whisk.  Make sure baking powder and salt have evenly dispersed throughout the flour and sugar.
2. To puree the spinach, you could either juice it, if you have a juicer.  Or, what I did, was added my melted coconut oil to my blender with my spinach and about a tablespoon of very hot water (because coconut oil hardens up if it gets cold and my spinach was cold).  Once the spinach is pureed either through a juicer or in the blender, use a measuring cup that holds at least 1 cup of liquid, add the pureed spinach, oil, and egg.  Add as much milk as you need to equal 1 cup of liquid total (this should be about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk).  Add vanilla extract and whisk until combined.
3.  Add milk mixture to the bowl with the flour and sugar then use a fork to combine.  Do not over mix, the mixture should be very thick.
4. Add blueberries and use a spatula or spoon to gently fold the blueberries into the muffin batter.
5. Fill the muffin cups FULL.  This is the best way to get the big rounded tops instead of flat tops like cupcakes.
6. Bake muffins at 425 for 4 minutes, after 4 minutes reduce baking temperature to 375 and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. This way of cooking the muffins also helps in getting the big round tops.