Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yummy Gluten-free "Pancakes", Or How I Get My Children To Eat Squash For Breakfast

I know I've been a little heavy on the recipe posts lately, but I'm just so excited about the way our diet has changed since the first of the New Year that I can't help myself! Every time I find a new way to cook veggies that my kiddoes will EAT, I just have to TELL someone!

My latest concoction is based on a 21 Day Sugar Detox staple-- the banana pancake. It's called a pancake because the banana makes it sweet-ish, but it's really more of an omelet. It relies on the egg to give it some texture and bulk.

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It's super fast-- way faster than regular pancakes-- and I can simply add ingredients to the bowl in approximate amounts as I begin to run out of batter (if I need more). And here's Judah's endorsement of the recipe!! Have you EVER seen such an enthusiastic grin on the face of a kid eating BUTTERNUT SQUASH before???

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Cooked butternut squash or pumpkin (I roast mine in the oven, cut in half, flesh side down in about 1.2 inch of water, at 350 till soft)

In a ratio of 1:1:2 (so, equal amounts of banana and squash, with two eggs per banana) mash up the veg and fruit together and add eggs. Season to taste. Mix vigorously, pan fry in butter till brown.

NOTE: The lower the heat you use and the longer you cook it, the more pancake-like a texture you'll get. A hot pan and a quick browning gives you something puffy and light-- more like an omelet, but it will fall fast. I top with home-made whipped cream and strawberries.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Picky Eaters? Or, How My Children Ate Six Different Vegetables In One Meal

The rainy season has started with a vengeance here in Central Florida and this means I am making lots of soup. Because when it's pouring, grey and chilly I need lots of soup. LOTS of soup.

Here's a recipe for one of our recent favorites. I made a giant batch of it in my Vita-Mix yesterday and was thrilled to announce to the boys that they were eating SIX different kinds of vegetables for lunch. YUM! This recipe can be tweaked to make it Paleo/21 Day Sugar Detox/Primal/Gluten-free/Dairy-free/What-have-you. AS an extra perk, you're getting almost-raw veg! The essential thing is a really good blender. Everything else is negotiable! I'm going to give you instructions specifically for a Vita Mix blender, but it's pretty much the same for any other type, I imagine. This recipe is based on an instructional demonstration at the Vita Mix kiosk in Costco. Totally not kidding.

Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup
(feeds about 6-8 adults for lunch, or 2 little boys for about a week)

1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
1/4 med head of cabbage (green, purple or savoy. the purple cabbage turns the whole soup a lovely pinkish color with bits of purple "confetti". or use spinach, kale, green leafy of your choice)
1/4-1/2 med onion
1 or 2 cloves garlic
1/4 sweet pepper
1/2 yellow or green squash
1 tsp cajun spice mix (or you can just sprinkle in a mixture of chili pwd and cumin)
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
3-4 cups hot broth, or water and bullion cubes (I use chicken stock, because I usually have it on hand, but any veg or bone broth will work fine. I've also used plain hot water in a pinch)
2 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1/2- 1 avocado  (I usually chunk in a whole one because we love it and I'm not avoiding natural fats)
1/2c frozen corn
1/2 can black beans
cooked chicken breast
taco chips OR plantain chips
shredded cheese

Ok. The above list contains all the possibilities I've tried over the weeks that I've been developing the recipe. I add and cut out and substitute to please my palate, diet and available resources. Feel free to do the same! This recipe tolerates tweaking quite well.

1) Put carrot, celery, green leafies, onion, garlic, squash and any other veggies you want to experiment with into the Vita Mix. With the dial set to 3 (which is med-low-ish), pulse chop till you've got a nice even slaw-like texture. Or you can go for a smaller dice, too, if you prefer a soup with less texture. Basically, mash that puppy up how you like it.

2) Turn the dial down to lowest setting and toss in spices and tomato wedges.

3) Once the tomato is fully blended, and with the blender still going, pour slowly in (through that nifty little hole in the Vita Mix lid) the hot water or broth. Slooooowly.

4) Sloooowly turn up the speed to #7 (med-high). Toss the avocado and the cheddar in that nifty little hole. Now you just let it spin a bit of a while. The avocado and/or the cheese are going to make your soup get all nice and creamy. You can use either one or both (both is yummiest). Once you see the soup get nice and thick with some froth on the top, turn the dial back down to lowest setting.

5) Now you're going to add the beans and corn and possibly the chips. There is a raging debate in our house about whether the chips ought to be added at this point, or crushed in the bottom of the bowl with the soup ladled over top of them. Judah prefers the soggy-ish texture of blended up chips (*gag*) and I have to admit that the original recipe called for this. I, on the other hand, prefer my chips crisp and crunchy. So. You choose.

6) Up to this point you've had a lovely and dishwashing-friendly one-dish meal thing going on, but now you have to pour it all into a pot and warm it back up. The original recipe claims that you can serve it straight out of the blender, but I have never had success with that. I think probably because I added in the frozen corn and a bunch of extra veggies. Anyhoo. It's just as well, because while your soup is re-heating on the stove-top, you're going to chop that chicken breast into about four pieces, toss it in the Vita Mix and give it a whirl at the lowest setting. You should end up with a nice taco-grade shredded chicken. Scrape it out into the pot and get it all nice and hot.

7) Ladle over crushed chips (or not) and sprinkle with cheese (or not).


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cutest Two Year Old in the WORLD

Jamie's been such a late talker, compared to the other two, but now that he IS talking, it's so much FUN!

Talking about how he burned his hand in the frying pan:

Showing off a little:

I'm off Facebook for Lent, so if you read this there, would you hop on over to leave your comment here, instead? Thank you! I'd hate to miss you!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Grain/Dairy/Egg-Free Thai Chicken "Pasta"

I know I keep promising to post and explain our new wheat-free (and for me, sugar-free also) diet, but I just never seem to get around to it. Or any blogging at all, lately. But now it's Lent. Facebook is OFF for 40 days, so maybe this blog will get a little more attention.

This still isn't a post about our diet, but it IS a wonderful new Paleo-*21DSD-Friendly recipe that even my children ate fairly cheerfully-- even though it contains no less than THREE different veggies they normally have to be force-fed. SCORE! The recipe I made is loosely based on this one I found online.

Grain/Dairy/Egg-Free Thai Chicken "Pasta"

  • 1 med spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus, tough ends removed and sliced into 2-3" pieces
  •  garlic pwd, sea salt, marjoram, pepper, sage to taste (I just used what I had on hand)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or equivalent in other cuts)
  • olive oil for stir-frying
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 T. corn starch
  • 3 T. cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup plain almond milk
  • 1/2 t. salt, or to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/8 t. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods, crushed (you could probably just use pwd cardamom, if you don't have the pods)
  • red pepper, to taste ( I used my berbere that I use in my Ethiopian dishes, and I added about 2 tbs-- we like it SPICY around here)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and stems removed
The only downside of this recipe is needing to cook the spaghetti squash ahead of time. I tend to have them on hand-- we eat a lot of spaghetti squash these days. I bake mine at 350 for about 30-45 minutes. Scrape the "pasta" into a dish and season with salt, pepper and butter.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and blanch the asparagus pieces for about two or three minutes. Drain and layer on top of the spaghetti squash. Cover and keep warm.

Heat a frying pan with enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Season the chicken breasts with spices listed (or play around with your own), and add them  to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the breasts are golden brown on both sides. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Cut the the chicken breasts lengthwise into pieces about 1-2" thick, then return the pieces to the pan and return the pan to the heat. Cook until the pieces are just cooked through, just 2-3 minutes more. Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.

Now for the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the corn starch and water until smooth. Set aside. In the same pan you used to cook the chicken, combine the coconut milk, almond milk, salt, lime juice, garlic powder, red pepper and cardamom pods over medium-high heat. With a whisk, stir briskly, bringing it just to a simmer.. Add the corn starch mixture little by little, and stir constantly until mixture thickens to desired consistency. (You might not need the whole 3 tbsp. I think it depends on the brand of coconut milk you use and how thick it is.) Turn the burner off, add the spinach and stir till the spinach wilts slightly.

At this point you have some options... The original recipe calls for you to add all the other ingredients to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce, but I've found that spaghetti squash doesn't respond well to lots of stirring around in sauce pans. Blech. So I took three dishes to the table; the dish of spaghetti squash with asparagus, the bowl of chicken pieces and the dish of sauce. Then I "assembled" everything on the plate: veg, chicken layered on top, sauce spooned over all. This also enabled me to separate everything for my OCD children who can't stand to MIX their food. Weirdos. Also, for the children's sake, I kept back the berbere and added it to the sauce pan after I had served their plates. They don't really do spicy.


Let me know if you try it out :)

*That's the Twenty One Day Sugar Detox Diet. That's the thing I'm doing. I pinky promise, I really will post about it soon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

More about my bar

I promised a while back to post a more detailed description of our bar makeover and I'm here today to deliver on that.

I didn't take a ton of pictures, but I think I have enough to get the idea across. To re-cap, we started with this gem, that we picked up off the side of the road,

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and that Jamie once "kimed":

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Despite it's condition, I had dreams of turning it into this lovely thing:

Got that? Ok. Moving on...

The first order of business was to sturdy it up a bit. Lying by the side of the road and then being climbed on by an active toddler had kinda taken it's toll. We already had a nice piece of plywood in the garage-- almost the perfect size. Screwed onto the back-- instant stabalizer!

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Here's where I wish I had taken more pics of the supplies we used, but I was kinda busy DOING stuff and forgot to take pictures of all of it. Basically we haunted all the local thrift shops for a week to find a table top. This failed so we went to Lowes and picked out a slab of hardwood plywood-- which up until that moment I had never heard of. We looked at our options for legs while we were there, but ohmygosh, they are PRICEY. We were looking at $15 to $20 EACH. Waaay outside my budget of $0.

So we schlepped over to the thrift store and bought this:

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It's a headboard for a twin bed. It cost a grand total of $10 and if you look closely you will see that gives us TWO legs for the bar.

After a good sanding, and some shimming, we have:

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And then J went to town on the details; including my wine rack and sliding shelf:

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We also bought new hardware, but in the end went with the original dresser knobs-- they just looked better.

Another genius idea of J's that I wish I had more pics of is this "wrought iron" detail on the cabinet door

I think I mentioned in the post before that he bought a section of garden bed edging, hacksawed it to the proper size, spray-painted it to match the knobs and nailed it to the inside of the door! Genius!

Here's the finished product:



Last weekend I found the perfect bar stools! No pics yet, because they're still being "upcycled", but here's a sneak peek at my inspiration board:$detail$

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Just Writing about my boys

They never tell you how exhausting mothering is... How seldom you have a moment to catch your breath, to gear up for the next thing. They don't tell you that once labor is over, once you've pushed them out of your body, that's when the work really starts.

Everything in life works in cycles... Only life itself is linear. And even death is only the outer ring of the next thing and then we go Deeper In. But those cycles, they start to feel like crazy sometimes. Like that game we played in the yard as kids where you spin and spin and spin till you fall down and close your eyes and the world spins around you in the darkness of your eyes squeezed shut.

In my mothering right now, in the cycle of mothering, one of my children is in a dark spot. I know we'll pass through, move on, but he's barely back out into the light before the next child is in the dark, in out day in day out. Barely catching my breath as I go from one to the other. My heart is on her knees, since I can't stop spinning long enough to get my body there, and the Spirit, I trust, interceeds.

And then like a drop falling into my whirlpool, comes a moment like this. And I can stop, mid-spin, and look and breathe and pray-- mind, body and heart. In this moment, this drop turns the cycles to ripples of Grace and I can dance in my spinning for a just long enough moment to keep me upright.

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