Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘(Mostly) Healthy Recipes’ Category

Zombie Juice. Tell me that phrase isn’t just a bit disturbing… Makes you wonder why I would name one of my products something like that, huh?

zombie juice

Well, you see, it started out as a bit of a joke. Then, we decided it tasted something like one would imagine a zombie might taste like, should you ever find yourself in a position to taste one.

That isn’t really a good selling point, though, so, after much consideration, I decided to tell people that I named it that because it will prevent one from turning into a zombie should we ever actually experience a Zombie Apocalypse. That sounds like a much better marketing strategy, right?

Fortunately, it is kind of a mostly true statement. At least, I believe it to be, though I haven’t actually had the opportunity to test out our hypothesis. Yet.

You may wonder what would cause me to come to this conclusion. Well, I will tell you.

When I set about creating my Zombie Juice, I was going for an end result that was good for the whole body. A tonic. Something that would boost the immune system, strengthen the organs, regulate digestion, cleanse toxins, and provide lots of vitamins and minerals to the body. I wanted it to have all the ‘anti’ properties…antibiotic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-radiation, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory…I wanted it to be strong enough to knock out any stray bit of illness or disease that might find its way into our system, but gentle enough to be able to take daily to prevent any illness or disease from finding its way into our system in the first place.

There are a couple of tonics out there that came very close to what I wanted, like Dr. Christopher’s Anti plague tonic, but nothing that hit the exact target I was aiming for. So, I turned all mad-scientist and came up with my own formula.

To date, we have had lots and lots of opportunities to test out our Zombie Juice. Colds, coughs, bronchitis, flu, strep throat, dental infections…all those little illnesses that run rampant through the work-place and schools. What we have found has been pretty amazing. It doesn’t just work…it works spectacularly!

It gets rid of infections of all types in about 48-72 hours. It helped clear up colds and sinus infections. It helped with constipation. And, while we can’t scientifically prove it, we all believe its preventative properties have allowed us to slide right through the flu epidemics that swarmed the country. While our friends and family that refused to swallow this ‘awful brew’ hacked and puked their way through, we smiled and choked down the Zombie Juice, germ-free.

I gotta tell you, though, it is some unusual-tasting stuff. Imagine extra-vinegary Worcestershire sauce. With a little dirt added for flavor. Yeah, that’s a pretty close comparison. I have contemplated adding it to salad dressing, though. Maybe in place of balsamic vinegar, cause that might be kind of good and still effective…

My advice to those who let the…unusual…flavor deter them would be this; Suck it up, buttercup! A spoonful of nasty will not kill you. Pansy.

This is one of those times when I am going to share my recipe with you. Generous of me, isn’t it? I will admit, my reasons aren’t entirely altruistic. For the most part, few people will go through the time and expense of tracking down all the ingredients, then properly preparing them. This stuff takes 6 weeks to make and it is a real pain in the ass. So, only the truly adventurous will bother to make this.

Also, I can’t seem to make enough and I keep running out.

So, here goes:

Zombie Juice Recipe

In a half gallon jug, combine:

½ lb organic garlic (minced, smashed or pulverized)

Apple Cider Vinegar (enough to fill the jug ½” from the brim)

garlic vinegar

Let this sit in a dark, slightly warm space for 5-6 weeks. Shake the mixture daily. Strain, squeezing as much of the liquid from the garlic as possible.

Gather up these herbs:

2 pts burdock root, red clover blossoms

1 pt alfalfa leaf, amla root, horsetail, black walnut hull, peppermint leaf, dandelion root, nettle root

½ pt milk thistle see, kelp

¼ pt cayenne, golden seal root

Get a couple of gallons of distilled water. Not tap water, well water or any other type of water. Only distilled water should be used.

Place each herb in its own separate glass container. I prefer glass Pyrex measuring cups.

Add enough water to equal 8 oz.

Place the herb/water container in a pot of water and place on medium low heat. This needs to be simmered down until it reaches 4 oz.

You do not want your herb/water to boil, just a very low simmer. This will take several hours and should be stirred occasionally.

Each herb is going to be brewed separately. This is an important part of the process. Don’t just throw the herbs in together. They must be done individually. Yes, I realize that this may take a couple of days. Do you?

As each tea is done, strain and add the liquid to your vinegar.

When all of the herbs have been extracted, add

2 oz of vegetable glycerin  and 5 oz of raw honey to the mixture.

Mix well.

Bottle and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Here is how the adults take it:

When we are feeling run down, tired or sick, or if we know there is an outbreak of some type going around, or should we hear of a possible zombie attack headed our way, we take 2 Tbsp twice a day.

When we aren’t trying to get rid of an issue, we take 1 Tbsp per day…you know, just for general good health…

You can take it straight or add it to a little fresh juice…however you have to get it down is fine.

We don’t suggest giving this to any children under 2, but 2-10 years old, we suggest 1 Tbsp twice a day to fight off illness and ½ Tsp daily to help fend off illness. Nobody wants a child zombie running around town, cause that’s just…well…disturbing!

Of course, we are not licensed medical doctors around here, so you could just chalk all of this up to quackery. I don’t mind and I get it…I know, the zombies and all are a bit much to contemplate. I would never consider handing out any type of medical advice or diagnosis, and I most certainly can’t tell you that herbs and other ‘natural’ ingredients can make you better if you are sick. I’m simply handing out some friendly advice that we believe has helped my family and friends stay a little healthier. And not zombies. What you choose to do with the info is your own business.

So, there you have it. Sounds tasty, huh?

Read Full Post »

A few years ago, I had a fantastic job at this great little local winery that served delicious lunch creations.  One of them was the most incredible quiche I’ve ever tasted.  While their recipe is top secret and I promised to never, ever, ever give it out, I never promised not to modify it to suit my own taste, then share it.

Over the years, I’ve played around with it quite a bit.  What follows is the best quiche experience you will ever taste.  Feel free to add to it as your taste buds dictate, although it really is perfect just the way it is!  I, of course, like my eggs fresh from the bird’s butt, my milk raw and unadulterated, my cheese homemade and my veggies fresh from the garden, however, I realize that isn’t an option for all of my readers.  Do the best you can with what you have!

What you need:

10 eggs (I used a combination of duck and chicken eggs for the quiche pictured)

1/4 Cup raw goat’s milk

4 oz cream cheese

3 Tbsp sour cream ( I prefer mine with a little fresh dill and basil added)

1/4 cup cheese, shredded, grated or crumbled. Mozzarella, feta, cheddar, swiss….whatever you prefer will work!

2-3 slices of bread or rolls

1 tsp fresh herbs of choice or 2 tsp of dried herbs

1 Cup fresh veggies, chopped or diced

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter the bottom and sides of a glass pie pan or bread pan.
  • Break bread into small pieces and line the bottom of the pan.  You can make this layer as thin or thick as you like.  The bread will help soak up excess moisture from the veggies and keep your quiche from being watery, and also forms the crust.  This is a great way to use up stale bread, or you can substitute this with bread crumbs, also.

bread crust

  • Mix eggs, milk, herbs, cream cheese, sour cream and cheese together, whisking until completely blended.  Pour mixture over the bread.

Egg mix

  • Sprinkle chopped veggies into the egg mixture and gently stir until all the veggies are immersed in the egg mix. I like to put the tomatoes on last and just set them into the top.  It looks prettier when it is done!

quiche raw

  • Cook for 17 minutes.  Remove from oven for 10 minutes. Return to oven for 8-12 minutes, until the sides are golden brown and there is no liquid remaining on the surface of the quiche.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes.

quiche done

  • Top with avocado, cheese, sour cream or whatever else sounds yummy at the time.

quiche serving

Read Full Post »

Seaweed veggie rolls are one of my favorite healthy snacks.  What’s not to love? Beauty, flavor and nutrition graces every bite and it is like a little taste of Mother Nature herself in every mouthful.

How healthy, you ask?  Well…that depends on how many fruits and veggies you add to them, but the seaweed alone is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is a natural, rich source of protein and iodine, which is essential for maintaining proper thyroid function.  It is rich in carotenes, vitamin C, vitamin B12, and also contains sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chlorine, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, molybdenum, fluoride, manganese, boron, nickel and cobalt. Throw in a variety of fruits and veggies in a rainbow of colors and these are some powerful, energy-inducing snacks!

I refuse to call it ‘sushi’ anymore, though.  Every instantly thinks ‘raw fish’.  Don’t misunderstand…I ADORE sushi, raw fish and all, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I guess they have a ‘technical’ name, but I don’t know what it is. Veggie rolls?  Rice rolls? Seaweed rolls? I’ll just pretend like I came up with the idea for these all by myself and call them ‘Tammi’s Vegiriceseaweed Rolls’.  Has a nice ring to it, no?

Aren't they absolutely gorgeous?

Aren’t they absolutely gorgeous?

How could these beauties not make your mouth water? Trust me…this is one recipe you won’t want to pass on.

Tammi’s Vegiriceseaweed Rolls recipe:

  • 4-5 seaweed wrap sheets
  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Fresh fruit/veggie slices (anything that sounds good will work here.  Carrots, peppers, celery, eggplant, mango, avocado, apples, pears…
  • Cream cheese (Optional.  I like to use cream cheese with herbs like parsley, basil, mint, cilantro, dill, etc.)
  • Fish (Optional. I don’t recommend raw fish unless you know what you are doing, but tuna, salmon, shrimp and even sardines are quite tasty additions!)

Start your rice first.  Mix the rice and water in a glass or stainless steel pan and let sit for 15-20 minutes.  While this sits, set out your cream cheese.  You want this to soften up so it is easier to spread on the rice. If you are mixing herbs into it, do so now.

In a small bowl or cup (I like to use my smallest glass measuring cup), mix your vinegar, salt and sugar.  Place in a pot with appx 1-2″ of water and heat gently until salt and sugar is completely dissolved, stirring frequently. Don’t use wood or plastic utensils with the vinegar mixture. Remove from heat and set aside.

Rice, salt and sugar mix

Rice, salt and sugar mix

By now, your rice should be ready to cook.  Place a lid on the pot and heat on high until the water comes to a boil.  Stir, reduce heat to the lowest setting and let cook until water is completely absorbed.

While your rice cooks, slice all of your fruits and veggies into thin strips, lay out a sheet of wax paper that is larger than your seaweed sheet and get everything set up within reach.  Once you put the rice on the seaweed sheet you will want to work quickly.

Fruit and veggie slices

Fruit and veggie slices

When your rice is done cooking, spread it onto a glass or stainless cookie sheet to cool.  You want to spread it as thin as possible.  When it is no longer steaming and about room temperature, pour the vinegar mixture over the rice and stir gently with a wooden spoon until the rice is completely coated and you don’t have any vinegar mixture puddling underneath the rice.  Let sit for a few minutes while you set out a sheet of seaweed, shiny side down, on your wax paper.

Pour vinegar over rice and mix gently

Pour vinegar over rice and mix gently

Okay, now you are going to want to work quick so your seaweed sheets don’t get too soft and rubbery.  Put enough rice on the seaweed to completely cover the seaweed from edge to edge on 3 sides.  Leave appx 1″ of the sheet uncovered at the bottom so you can seal it up after you roll it.   If you are using cream cheese, spread a thin layer appx 1″ wide at the top of the sheet, on top of the rice.  If you are using some type of fish, place it on top of the cream cheese.  Add fruit/veggie strips on top of  the cream cheese and fish.

sushi assmbly

Grab the top of the seaweed sheet, holding the veggies in place as best you can and roll it up tight enough to be solid, but not so tight that you rip the seaweed sheet.  Seal the roll by wetting down the bottom exposed strip with cold water.  Set aside and repeat until your rice is gone.  I can usually get 4 thick rolls or 5 thin rolls from this recipe.

sushi rolls

Using a very sharp knife, slice the rolls into 1″ rounds.

sushi sliced

Garnish it with some pickled ginger, a dash of Bragg Amino Acids, a little dab of wasabi and you are ready to go! That’s it.  It is really very simple, once you know what you are doing.  Expect a learning curve the first time you make these.

sushi done

Here are a few tips to make your experience easier.

~If you want to be really fancy, you can buy sushi-rolling mats and bamboo spoons at most kitchen stores, but I’m way too cheap for all that.  My cheap wooden spoons work just fine and rolling them up by hand is really not that difficult.

~Keep a small bowl or glass of cold water mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar nearby.  Sushi rice is very sticky and you can use this to dip your fingers, knife and spoon in to keep the rice from sticking.

~If you accidentally rip one of the sheets as you are rolling, you can fix it by cutting a piece of seaweed wrap slightly larger than the tear, wet it and place the patch over the tear, patting it down securely.

~It is very important to use an extremely sharp knife when slicing the sushi rolls into rounds.  A dull knife will tear the seaweed sheets and ruin all of your hard work.  When the knife gets sticky from cutting through the rice, rinse it with the cold water/vinegar mixture.

~Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Sometimes, I like to make the layer of rice very thin and add lots of extra veggies.  Sometimes I like thicker rice and less veggies.  The more rice and veggies, the thicker your roll will be, and the more difficult it will be to roll.

Read Full Post »

There isn’t much I love about summertime in Missouri.  Intense, breath-taking heat, high humidity, biting and stinging insects…discomfort is virtually assured from June through September.  However, there are few a things that make all that discomfort worthwhile.  Long hours of daylight, spending time at the river and, most of all ~ fresh garden veggies.

No summertime garden would be complete without Zucchini.  Baked, fried, stuffed, pickled, raw ~ it doesn’t matter how you prepare it~ I love it!  The last couple of years have solidified my favorite method of eating those big, fresh beautiful zucchini, though.  It is definitely stuffed and baked. Which means that I have to share that wonderful recipe with you.

The beauty of stuffed zucchini is that it comes out tasting perfect weather you use fresh or frozen zucchini.  I always like to take a few zucchini and stick them in the freezer for this garden-fresh treat during the cold months of winter.  Zucchini is one of the few veggies that requires little or no processing before freezing.  Simply cut into slices, shred or grate it, stick it in a freezer bag and pop it in the deep freeze.  To freeze it for stuffing, cut off the ends, scoop out the seeds and voila!

Admittedly, zucchini can get a little mushy after it thaws, but if you aren’t eating it raw it doesn’t really matter.  Use the slices for fried zucchini, pizza topping or add  them to a quiche or pasta sauce. Throw chunks in some chicken or beef broth to make a delicious winter soup.  Use it grated in zucchini bread or, as I’m about to share, as stuffing.

If you are looking for an exceptionally healthy veggie, this one nears the top of the list, providing you leave the skin on.  Zucchini has a high water content, making it very low in calories, and contains no fat or cholesterol. It contains 7 g of carbohydrates, 56 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C, 11 percent of your daily value of vitamin K, 16 percent of riboflavin, 21 percent of vitamin B-6 and 14 percent of folate, plus vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, calcium, iron, sodium, zinc and selenium.

Anyway…my stuffed zucchini recipe…

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients needed:

3-4 large zucchini

8 oz cream cheese

1-2 cups shredded cheese -any kind will work, but we prefer shredded Italian blend, cheddar and/or pepper jack

2-3 cups diced or grated raw veggies ~ tomatoes, squash, carrots, cabbage, peppers, celery…   This is a great recipe for using up some of those veggies that have gone soft but aren’t bad yet.

1/2 lemon

1 lb cooked meat (if desired) ~ ground turkey is amazing, but so is sage sausage, hamburger, steak…

Herbs of your choice ~ I love fresh basil, thyme, dill and oregano in this dish.  Just a tsp of each, chopped super-fine, works perfectly

Like all my recipes, this one is adaptable.  If you are using frozen zucchini, you can skip this first part and jump ahead to the stuffing part. If you are using fresh zucchini here’s what you do.

Take the 3-4 large zucchini and fill a pot big enough to lay them in. Fill the pot with water and bring to a full boil, then place zucchini (with ends still intact) in pot.  Boil for 7-9 minutes.  Remove from pot and place in ice cold water for 2-3 minutes.

Remove from water and slice off the ends of the zucchini, then cut the zucchini lengthwise down the middle.  Gently scoop out the seeds, saving as much of the flesh as possible.  Place zucchini on a cookie sheet lightly coated with the cooking oil of your choice and sprinkle with sea salt.

Mix all of your other veggies and the meat in a large bowl.  Make sure you get the cream cheese mixed well enough that you don’t have large chunks in the blend. Add herbs and squeeze lemon juice over the mixture.  Mix well.

Fill zucchini with stuffing.  Pile it on thick and high!

Cook for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle extra cheese across the top.  Return to oven and cook until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven and cool for 3-5 minutes.

Serve it up!

I feel it is only fair to warn you that this dish is VERY addictive!  I grew extra zucchini this year so I could make sure I have enough to last me until next growing season.

If you make more than you can eat at one sitting, you can throw the extra in the freezer and they reheat beautifully.

Enjoy!

Read Full Post »

After blogging about our bountiful harvest on the farm, it only seems fair to add a few recipes to go with the lovely fruits and veggies we grow.  Cucumbers, blackberries, zucchini, squash…we’ve been so blessed with our gardens this year that we have had to come up with some new and creative ways to eat them.  Here are a couple of simple recipes that we came up with, borrowed or just added our own spin to.

Blackberries Galore!

July is not really one of my favorite months.  I don’t enjoy extreme heat unless I intend to be in the river.  I don’t like the ticks, the flies, the mosquitoes.  I don’t enjoy high electric bills caused by the constant running of the AC.  However, I do enjoy the bountiful blackberry harvest that July brings to our farm.  We aren’t talking a couple of gallons.  We have far more blackberries than we will ever be able to harvest, but we greedily grab as many as we can before the short fruiting season is over and we are left with nothing but dried leaves and vicious thorns.

Unfortunately, blackberries are not known for their long shelf life, so we have to find creative (and tasty) ways to preserve them for the year ahead.  Here’s a few ideas and recipes that we have come up with to ensure we have some of their sweetness to sample in the coming months.

Freeze them ~

This one is simple.  Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and place a single layer of berries on it.  Keep them from touching so they don’t freeze together.  Pop them in the freezer for a couple of hours, then transfer them to an air-tight freezer bag.  They will keep for several months and can be added to pies, tea, syrup, pancakes, or (our personal favorite) they can be added to drinks in place of ice cubes.  They add a little bit of summertime to tea, water, coffee or any other beverage!

Make some jam or jelly~

Now, before you dismiss this as too difficult or time consuming, just read on.  I was a little scared of the whole canning process at first because it seemed so complicated and messy.  But, I weaseled in on some friends who were doing canning a few times and realized that, once you knew what you were doing, the whole thing was pretty simple.  Jam, especially, was quick and easy and completely worth the effort. Three ingredients and a pot is all you really need.

Ready?

Ingredients:

5 cups mashed berry pulp or juice (for seedless jam)

7 cups sugar

1 box pectin

(7) 8 oz canning jars

Mix the pulp/juice in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil for 1 minute.  Add sugar and continue stirring until the mixture resumes boiling.  Allow to boil for 1 minute. Put a spoonful of your jam in the freezer and see if it has reached the desired consistency.  If it is too thin for your liking, boil it for another minute and test it again.  Don’t boil for more than a minute at a time as things can happen quickly at this point and you don’t want it too thick.  When you have reached the desired gel, skim off the foam and set it aside.  Carefully ladle into sanitized jars and cap.  Place in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.

That’s it.  It really is that simple.

The only problem I ran into was that I couldn’t convince my water-bath canner to boil, so I had to grab a smaller pot with a tight-fitting lid to use instead.  It worked fine.  Just make sure you have at least 1″ of water over the top of the jars and don’t have the jars packed in too close. Keep them from touching and clinking together while they boil.

If you are looking for a jam with less sugar, you can buy low-sugar and no-sugar needed pectin anywhere they have canning supplies.  The process remains the same.

Oh, and remember that foam you skimmed off?  Don’t throw it out! It is still good.  It’s simply jelly with too many air bubbles, which gives it a funky texture that kids love.  My kids snatch spoonfuls and eat it plain, but that’s a little too sweet for me.  Instead, I use it mixed in with a bit of  (or in place of) syrup on pancakes or waffles.  It easily re-liquifies when warm.  I’m thinking of adding it to the Gooseberry Sour Cream Pie that everyone has been asking for, too.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

I also intend to juice up enough to make several more batches of jam throughout the year.  Somehow, I just don’t think 7 jars is going to last too long around this place…

Cucumbers ~

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I don’t like cucumbers all that much. Every now and then I’ll wish for a nice, fresh cucumber, but it is usually in the middle of winter when I’m wishing for a nice, garden-fresh anything.  So, why then, did I plant so many cucumbers???  You can’t freeze them, you can’t dehydrate them.  That only leaves canning.  Fortunately, we really like pickles.

This was almost as easy as the blackberry jam.  So easy, in fact, that I now have 21 jars of pickles made and have enough cucumbers brining to make another 10 or 12 jars.  Told you we liked pickles.

We don’t do sweet pickles, though, so all I made was dill.  Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

cucumbers, zucchini, garlic, green tomatoes or any other veggie you want to throw in the mix. Slice, cube or leave whole.  I like to slice and cube mine.

Pickling spices ~ you can use the pre-mixed, fresh or make your own up.  We us fresh dill (2-4 immature sprigs), mustard seed (about 10 seeds per jar, peppercorns (2-5 per jar), and sometimes chili peppers (1/2 per jar)

Grape or oak leaves – this is optional, but adding a leaf to each jar will help your pickles retain crispness

Fill sanitized quart-sized jars, packing as tightly as possible.  Keep the jars warm so you don’t break them in the next step.

Boil the following together, stirring frequently:

4 Cups vinegar ~ apple cider or white with 5-6% acidity

4 1/2 Cups water

6 Tablespoons canning or kosher salt

Ladle carefully into jars, leaving 1/4″ from the top of the jar.  Run a popsicle stick or butter knife along inside of jar to remove any air pockets trapped between the veggies and jar.  Place lids and rings on jars and place jars in water-bath for 15 minutes.  Remove from bath and set aside to cool.  This will take 10-12 hours.  Make sure they seal properly and store in a cool place.  You can eat them after a week or two, but they will take up to 6 weeks to fully develop their flavor.

Read Full Post »

Oh…My….Goodness!  It wasn’t good.  It wasn’t great.  It was PHENOMENAL!!!  We needed a recipe that would let us enjoy the unimaginable flavor of our freshly-harvested veggies that we picked from our greenhouse and here is what we came up with.  You just gotta try this simple dish that is packed with nutrition and flavor.

I guess I should warn you that I have an advantage.  Not everyone is fortunate enough to have garden-fresh, heirloom veggies in January.  What difference does that make?  Flavor.   I’m sure this recipe will be almost as good with supermarket veggies, but if you have access to organic heirlooms you can go from good to phenomenal, too!

Like every meal I cook, we winged this one.  You can use as much or as little of each ingredient that you would like.  We went heavy on the veggies and shrimp, light on the pasta.

Ingredients:

Raw shrimp

Angel hair pasta

Olive oil

Chipotle powder

2-4 leaves each of fresh  basil and oregano

Salt

Pepper

1 Fresh lime

Raw, Fresh Veggies (we used broccoli, green beans, peas, carrots, red leaf lettuce, adzuku beans, wild onions, garlic, apple)

In skillet, lightly cook wild onion, garlic, basil, oregano, chipotle powder and shrimp in enough olive oil to lightly coat everything.  Sprinkle with lime juice.  Cook until shrimp turns pink (about 4 minutes per side, depending on size of shrimp used).

At the same time, cook angel hair pasta.  When done, drain and add to skillet with shrimp.  Cook for 4-6 minutes to allow pasta to absorb flavor.

Cut fresh veggies to desired size.

Combine everything and serve hot!

It really is that simple.  It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and is so incredibly good that you’ll find it hard to remember that it’s super nutritious, too!  If you like your citrus fruit as much as I do, sprinkle a little extra lime juice over the finished dish for an extra bit of flavor.

And, for dessert we made homemade lemon bars.  It was a perfect meal for our spur-of-the-moment girl’s night feast!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Read Full Post »

Okay, I was all excited to get on here and share a new pie recipe with you…apple berry pie, actually.  I wanted to tell you how absolutely scrumptious it was…moist, just a little tart, just a little sweet…how it practically melts in your mouth.

Then I screwed it up and now it sits on my counter, a little too dry, a little to tart and, well…let’s just leave it at that.

So, I’m moving on to the next recipe.  I’ve made this one once before and it was gone in no time.  My family, quite literally, inhaled it by the bowlfull.  It was so good, in fact, that I’ve made it again and thought I’d share.

Here’s the thing…with this Chicken Spinach and Gnocchi soup, you can go super-healthy, semi-healthy, super quick, or make it take all day.  If you make everything from scratch it takes about 3 hours.  That’s about what today’s batch took me, so we’ll just say it’s a great project for a rainy afternoon.  However, the payoff is the most extraordinary blend of flavors in a medium thick soup that has a ton of vitamins, nutrients and other health benefits.

Then, there’s the quick and easy way.  It still tastes good.  Just not as good.  You can go with canned chicken broth and frozen gnocchi, which knocks your cooking time down to about 20 minutes and your prep time down to about 15 minutes.  Either way, you still have a delicious homemade soup.

Using everything listed, I made enough soup to feed 8 of us (me, my husband, two teenage boys and 2 teenage girls, as well as one of our friends and her daughter, with enough soup left over to do it again.

The gnocchi recipe made enough for me to make this pot, set aside a freezer bag full of cooked balls and two freezer bags full of uncooked gnocchi.  I’m freezing them both to see how well they freeze and retain their flavor and texture.  I’ll be sure and let you all know the results.

Okay, here we go.

Start with a great chicken broth.  I always make my own because it’s incredibly simple and very nutritious.

Get a whole frying chicken and throw it in a pot.  Then, choose what you want to go in it.  I add herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, fennel seeds and peppermint), a little salt and pepper,  a few cloves of garlic, half a red onion, 4 stalks of celery and 1/2 a lemon.  Add distilled water to about 1/2 inch past the top of the ingredients, put a lid on it, turn it on medium and leave it alone for about an hour, until the chicken is fully cooked but not tough. Strain off the broth into a large pot.  Now, you have a delicious, healthy chicken broth.

Chicken broth

Pull the meat from the bones and chop, then set aside however much you want to add to your soup.  We use about half the meat for the soup and make the other into an awesome chicken salad for sandwiches!  We occasionally freeze the cooked chicken, too.  It’s great to use in chicken fajitas or tacos, or to add to a soup later on when I want something quick and easy.

This chicken broth totally blows away anything you can buy in a can and it gives you a very tasty,  healthy, nutritious base for just about any soup, plus a full chicken’s worth of meat, so you really getting enough food here for 2 meals.  Inspiringly economical of me, huh?

I’ve also found that the left-over broth freezes well.  I wait until it cools down, then stick it in a freezer bag and it’s ready to use whenever a recipe calls for chicken broth.  I’ve stored it for up to 3 months without it losing flavor.

I do have to warn you, though…when I make this in the springtime while my windows are open, I’ve had neighbors knock on my door asking what in the world I’m cooking that smells so good.  More than once, we’ve ended up with unexpected (but welcome)  dinner guests.  It also makes your house smell totally appetizing!

Next comes the gnocchi balls.  Don’t know what that is?  It is simply little balls made of flour, butter and potato.

Boil 8 potatoes until they are soft but not mushy.  I like to use the gold or red potatoes, but brown work just fine, too.  When they are done, drain them (I save the water and add it to my chicken broth), peel them, then mash them up.  Add 2 Tbsp of butter and enough flour to form a workable dough, usually about 2 cups.  When finding the right texture, think of slightly soft and sticky Playdough.

Roll the dough into long ropes and cut into 1/4″-1/2″ sections.  If you are feeling particularly creative, you can kinda squish them with a fork to give them a pretty texture.  I wasn’t feeling so creative today, so mine came out looking entirely ordinary.

Gnocchi ropes and balls

Next, bring a pot of  water to a boil.  I prefer to use a mixture of half distilled water, half chicken broth because it gives the gnocchi a bit of flavor.  Ordinarily, they are a bit bland.  Drop in the gnocchi balls and cook until they float to the top.  Drain them, then set them aside to add to your finished soup.

The gnocchi will float on top of the water when they are done

When the gnocchi is done, it will float on top of the water

Cooked Gnocchi balls

Finished gnocchi balls

I mix the liquid left over from cooking the gnocchi with the rest of the broth I’m using to make my soup. It makes the base a little thicker and yummier.  For now, just set it aside or pitch it.

Next, chop 1/2-1  red onion and 4-5 cloves of garlic.  Throw them in a large skillet or pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Saute until the veggies are soft, then add 3-4 cups broth, 1 pint half and half and the chicken.  Let simmer 15-20 minutes.  Add gnocchi balls and simmer 3-5 minutes.  Add fresh spinach.  If you really like spinach, load the soup up.  I love it this way.  If you aren’t a huge spinach fan, just throw in 3/4 -1 cup.  Cook until it is wilted.

That’s it, folks!  Here’s what you end up with.

Chicken Spinach & Gnocchi Soup

So, let’s sum  up the quick and easy version:

1 large can chicken broth

Chicken ~ cooked and chopped

1 pkg frozen, pre-cooked gnocchi

1-2 cups Spinach

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

1 pint half and half

parsley ~ fresh is best, but dried will work

salt and pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil

Saute onions, parsley and garlic in olive oil until soft but firm.  Add Chicken broth, half and half and chicken.  Simmer 15-20 minutes.  Add gnocchi and simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Add spinach and simmer until wilted.  Cool and serve.

I’ll update this post later on and let you all know how the frozen gnocchi turned out.  I’m hoping to have enough soup left over to try freezing.  We’ll see how that goes….

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »