Thursday, September 26, 2013

Apple Custard

My husband is whipping up a variation of his mother's dinner in one dish and I'm attempting an apple custard dessert.

I buttered a Pyrex dish and layered about 4 Macintosh apples on the bottom. Sprinkled them with sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Made a sauce of melted butter and triple sec. Poured it over them.

I whisked three eggs, some sugar, vanilla and almond milk and poured that over the apples.

Topped with lots of sliced almonds and put in the oven at 350 to bake for about 40 minutes.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Orange pepper steak

I bought steaks last night. At Target. Two steaks, normally $8.99 for the pair. They had a use or freeze date of today, so they had a coupon for $3 off. Plus I found a cartwheel coupon for 5% off Sutton and Dodge steaks. That brought the price of my steaks down to $5.59. Subtract my team member discount (55 cents) and then the red card discount (another 25 cents!) and the price is down for $4.80. 

My husband oiled my Le Creuset skillet with coconut oil and we slapped in the steaks. We covered them with fresh ground four color pepper.

I sliced a yellow pepper and added them to the pan. After the pan got hot, we added a tablespoon of butter.

As that cooked, we took some leftover plain white rice from the fridge. My husband warmed it, drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled parsley in it from my garden.

When the steaks were almost done, I poured triple sec all over them and turned up the heat to make a glaze. I added a pinch of nutmeg to keep the orange flavor from getting to strong.

This was so simple tasting and a refreshing blend of flavors.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baked omelet

Since our chicken sitting adventure began, we have received 31 eggs (I think)    from our feathered friends. 

We've had a round of fried egg sandwiches and then last night husband made chocolate chip cookies.

Tonight we got home from a long day at work and I had dinner all planned. Preheat oven to 400.

We toasted the last six slices of Pepperidge Farm rye bread and put some sweet potato fries on the cookie sheet.

We whisked about eight eggs (we lost count), added a little cold water and whisked some more. I got a 11x7 Pyrex pan and swiped it with some oil. 

In the bottom of the pan I poured the remaining bruschetta we made a few days ago. I sprinkled lots of local broccoli    on top. Poured the egg mix on top of that. Added some of last night's roasted peppers here and there. 

Put it in the oven.

The fries needed to be flipped after 12 minutes. About five minutes after that, I pulled the omelet out of the oven and sprinkled some tiny pieces of extra sharp cheddar on the top and seasoned it all with fresh ground four-color pepper, a touch of garlic powder and some Italian seasoning. I returned it to the oven for five more minutes.

I ate my portion on the rye bread like a sandwich, complete with horseradish sauce.

The bruschetta really made the vegetables zesty and juicy. This was incredible.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Roasting peppers and tomatoes

I greased a baking sheet, put my oven on broil and prepped some peppers and tomatoes from the garden of the woman who owns the chickens we are watching.

I took one yellow and one red pepper and halved them, cleaning out the stems, seeds and pith. I laid them on the sheet. I also added some small tomatoes of various varieties.

I placed the cookie sheet on the middle oven rack and broiled for five minutes. I pulled the cookie sheet out and sprinkled the tomatoes with garlic powder and four color pepper. I flipped the peppers.

Put everything in again for another five minutes.

Shook the tomatoes around and flipped the peppers one last time.

Broiled a last five minutes and placed everything in my Pfaltzgraf casserole dish and covered for about 30 minutes. They will finish cooking and cool on the counter, no more heat, and then I'll peel the skin off.

Garden Taco Night

I am happiest when I am cooking. I don't mean that when I cook I become happy, I mean that when I am happy I cook. And I do good stuff. Not the eat for survival stuff. 

The chicken sitting adventure is going well. We got 18 eggs today and rushed home and made thick egg sandwiches on rye before school.

I whipped up some soft taco filling: ground beef, beans that I made today not from a can, the last batch of corn preserved from a local farm last year and diced pepper from the lady who owns the chickens.

Spices for the batch include paprika, cumin, chili powder, hot chili powder and garlic powder. I use a lot of each, to taste.

Monday, September 16, 2013

First day with the chickens

Like true farmers, we woke really early today and left the house at 6:45 to care for our temporary wards, the chickens. The chickens' "momma" left us broccoli, beets, squash, tomatoes and a rainbow of peppers for payment. Yum!

It's raining today. So that provided some fun as we fed and watered chickens and gathered eggs. We only found seven eggs today and one little lady was not getting up from her nest. Can't blame her. I don't want to get out of bed on a rainy Monday either.

Pictures probably tell the story better than words so...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

On Milk Options

My daughter has had a lot of problems with fluid in her ears. She doesn't get colds per se, it all goes into her ears. We've found that a dairy-free diet helps her get rid of that fluid.

With back-to-school, she had her first incident last weekend-- on a day we were scheduled to meet friends for pizza. Instead of pizza, we had fried chicken.

I'm a big believer in moderation, so I struggle to find a go-to substitute for dairy milk. I think it partially depends on the purpose. I like to rotate my milks, primarily because I don't want to feed everyone too much soy.

Silk Very Vanilla (soy) is the family's favorite drinking milk, though the chocolate is my husband's favorite. I often use the Unsweetened for cooking.

Silk Pure Almond is common in this house, usually vanilla for drinking. My husband likes the dark chocolate, daughter does not. 

Silk Pure Coconut in vanilla is often in the house for drinking (and fruit smoothies) and plain coconut milk for cooking (especially for dishes like Mac and cheese). 

These are the alternative milks that Target carries. Coconut milk is full of fat, which for those on a paleo diet would be considered a good thing. I'm not really a low fat cook, so I don't think we need extra fat.

Almond milk doesn't have protein and since I usually need the extra protein... But we recently tried the protein fortified So Delicious Almond milk which did not have calcium.

Today we tried Good Karma flax milk, which had lots of omegas, but no calcium or protein. But no real fat either.

We also occasionally use the almond milk and soy milk from Aldi. My daughter swears their vanilla almond milk is the best.

15 years ago I always used Rice Dream rice milk that I used to purchase by the case. The nutritional value was minimal and it was all carbohydrates. 

So I still don't have a go-to milk. And rotation is not a bad thing.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


A friend of a friend is heading to a conference in Pittsburgh and needs someone to care for her chickens. I thought it'd be a great lesson for my nine-year-old.

We headed out to the farm this morning for our chicken care primer and the chickens had laid 4 eggs since their owner had gathered eggs earlier in the day. So my daughter collected them-- still warm! 

We brought them home, washed them and made a big broccoli-tomato omelet. The tomato came from our garden.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Birthday Biscuit Shepherds Pie

Now if you're one of those people who need an exact recipe, you're poop-outta-luck on this one.

I started with the Betty Crocker biscuit recipe and an oven preheated to 450. And I started to change it because I didn't feel like measuring.

- About 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
- About 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- About 3 tablespoons sourgum flour
- Almost 1/4 cup flax meal
 - About 1.5 tablespoons baking powder
- Not quite 1/3 cup lard (I got mine straight from a local butcher)
- A little more than 1/3 cup almond milk
- 1 big pinch salt

Combine. I didn't even use a spoon. I used my hand.

I sprinkled cornmeal into the bottom of a 11 x 7 Pyrex dish. Pressed the biscuit crust into it. Thin layer.

In my cast iron skillet, I browned some hamburger. Husband picked out some Chunky Steak and Potato Soup at Target  (on sale, plus employee discount, plus a Cartwheel, plus RedCard!) to use as a sauce. It is his birthday after all. I added the soup and some leftover tomato sauce.

Then veggies: a head of broccoli (chopped tiny), some frozen cauliflower and peas, about a cup of corn frozen from last summer (gotta use it up). 

When that started bubbling, I poured it on top of the crust. I layered sliced white potatoes from a can on top of that. Sprinkled paprika on top and lots of herbs from the garden (chives, basil and parsley).

Bake for 25 minutes. Uncovered.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Food blues

We're struggling with a very tight budget and trying to get daughter through a long morning at school with no snack.

I haven't cooked much lately. 

So today, since I went shopping yesterday at Wegmans, I tried to make up for my recent string of pasta and hamburger.

Breakfast was half a peanut butter sandwich, papaya fruit salad (from a can, in juice), and Yummy Mummy monster cereal with protein fortified almond milk. (Did I mention daughter is having ear issues again so we've gone dairy free for her?)

I had a smoothie mid-morning of frozen strawberries, almond milk, vanilla yogurt and carnation breakfast essentials powder.

For lunch, I experimented with wedge salads for husband and I: wedges of iceberg lettuce, with Annie's lemon-chive dressing, sliced almonds, golden raisins and mandarin orange slices, accompanied by carrot sticks, a taste of tuna and a few bites of ham.