Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tater Tot Casserole

This is a quick, fun recipe that the kids love. Its quick to put together and great with a tossed salad or fresh green peas. I use the Cascadian Farms variety of tater tots because most varieties of tater tots have sugar and other undesirable ingredients in their potato products. The other option would be to make your own, which I have been working on but of course, its not nearly as quick. I will post a recipe for tater tots when I figure it out. You can also use canned refried beans. I like to make refried beans in large batches so I always have some on hand in the freezer.

1 1/2 lbs lean ground chuck
1/2 onion chopped
1 cup water
1 T chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups refried beans
1 16 oz bag of Cascadian Farm frozen spud buddies(Tater tots)
4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

How Tos:
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and onion until no pink remains. Drain off any fat. Add the water and spices and simmer for 10 minutes until most of the liquid is cooked off. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pour the meat mixture into a 9 x 13" pan. Spread the refried beans over the meat mixture by dropping spoonfuls evenly over the hot meat. Sprinkle the entire bag of the tater tots over the refried beans, spreading out evenly. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the tater tots. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until tater tots are lightly browned and crispy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gluten Free Peppermint Brownie Bars

These are a sweet treat that I am truly enjoying. Its gluten-free and since the ingredients are all relatively healthy, my son can enjoy them and really feels he is getting a special treat. They are easy to make and pretty to serve. Make sure you grease the pan well and chill the bars thoroughly though, or you may find removing them a challenge.

1/2 cup grass-fed butter
1/4 cup of organic dark chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 cup sucanat
2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup of millet or alternative flour
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

1/4 cup softened grassfed butter
2 cups of powdered sugar(mine was made with sucanat)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 cup cream

1-2 T organic dark chocolate chips
1 T crushed peppermint candy(optional)

The How To's
Grease a 13x9 inch pan with butter or coconut oil. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan over a low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate chips and stir till melted. Set aside.

In your mixer, beat the eggs until fluffy. Gradually add the Sucanat until you have whipped up a light fluffy mixture. Mix in the vanilla extract until thoroughly blended. Lower your mixer to a medium speed and slowly pour in the melted chocolate, which should still be warm.  Add the peppermint extract. Mix thoroughly. Sprinkle in the sea salt and then lower the speed to low and sprinkle in the flour. Turn off the mixer, stir in the nuts. Pour the somewhat thin batter into your greased pan.
raw batter
Bake for about 15-18 minutes. The somewhat thin chocolate mixture will look like brownies when you remove it. Set on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

cream starts to thicken
In your clean mixer, cream the butter and gradually mix in your powdered sugar.  light and fluffy, add your peppermint extract and then gradually add your cream at a high speed, whipping until it holds its shape well. Scrape down the sides regularly and watch for the cream to reach a nice consistency for spreading. Do not overmix or the cream will convert to butter and the whey will ruin your frosting.

Spread your frosting over the brownies. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips and candy over the top to give it a festive look. At this point I tried to loosen the brownie from the bottom of the pan, but cutting was challenging. I realized I did not use enough coconut oil to grease the bottom of the pan, so make sure you use enough. I then refrigerated until the frosting was more firm and cut them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cranberry Chicken

This savory recipe is so yummy. It can be done in a crockpot but I like it better in the oven. I use dried ingredients that I have on hand but during the holidays you can use fresh onion and cranberries and even use a clove of garlic you will just need to simmer the ingredients longer before baking the chicken. If you don't want to make your french dressing, use an organic french dressing from the store so you don't add corn syrup and msg to this healthy dish.

1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 quart homemade beef broth
1 whole chicken, cut up

The How Tos
Put the first five ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer uncovered until reduced by half. Set aside.
Place the cut up chicken in a baking pan, arranging the larger pieces to the outside. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake at 350 degrees about 45 minutes or until meat is cooked thoroughly (approximately 14 to 15 minutes per pound total cooking time) and sauce is thick and bubbling.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Coupon Trade

Coupon Trade is your one-stop shop for gift cards, online coupons and daily deals. Kind of like having your favorite coupon site, groupon and all your favorite retail stores all wrapped up in one. You can buy them or sell them.
Tonight at midnight is a special flash sale. That means a national card will be sold for half off. For instance, it might be a Shell gas card, a $50 card for $25? That would be nice. You won't know until midnight.  They will also be giving away $2000 in special give aways. 
So...if you are a night owl, check out www.coupontrade.com and set up your account so you are ready to roll when they roll out the deals.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

French Dressing

French Dressing


1/4 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon yogurt
  • 1 tsp homemade worcestershire sauce*
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pepper to taste
The how tos
Combine the first 8 ingredients in a blender. Add the oil slowly while blending on high. Add salt and then pepper to taste. Cover and refridgerate. Will last a few weeks. Makes about 1 1/2 cups

You can find an excellent worcestershire sauce recipe in the Often Used Recipes eBook at the Cooking Traditional Foods website.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lemon Chex

Chex Mix is a popular snack at our house around the holidays. We make it ourselves and use safer ingredients and we love to vary the way we make it. Today we are making a savory chex mix using a Moroccan spice blend and hot sauce and I also made Lemon Chex, which is more my style when it comes to sweets.

4 cups of Rice Chex(other flavors are too strong for this recipe)
1/2 cup of Vanilla Chips
1 1/2 tsp of lemon powder
powdered sugar

The How Tos
Place the Rice Chex(or equivalent) in a large bowl. Melt the vanilla chips in a saucepan. Stir in lemon powder, adding more or less to suit your taste, remembering that the lemon will be offset by the coating of powdered sugar at the end. Pour the melted vanilla chips over the chex and mix well. Spoon the mixture into a gallon ziplock bag and add about a cup of powdered sugar. Seal the bag and shake well to coat the cereal mixture with the sugar. Spread out on a baking sheet to cool. Store in an airtight container.

How to Make Powdered Sugar

Powdered sugar is one of those ingredients that you can't really substitute. I have been to the store many times to get some for a recipe in the past because I didn't have enough to make my frosting or enough to dust my chocolate cake. I never really thought much of it.
Since we moved to healthier sugars and tend to use organic rapadura or evaporated cane juice, the stakes go up. You don't pop into your local grocery store and pick up a bag of organic powdered sugar. You also don't find it without cornstarch(typically GMO), the ingredient used to keep it from caking up and it costs a small fortune if you can find it.
So, I decided to make it myself.

1 cup of evaporated cane sugar
1 T of arrowroot powder(or other starch to prevent caking)
evaporated cane juice and arrowroot

powdered sugar

How Tos:
Place your sugar and arrowroot in the blender. Cap the blender and set on high. You will see the powdered sugar move to the surface and the granulated sugar drop to the bottom as it processes. It takes about 10 minutes to get a fine powder for frosting, but less time if you just need some for making muddy buddies or lemon chex. You can use it immediately. I have not tried making it with Sucanat. You may need more arrowroot to absorb the moisture from the molasses and honey, but it would work the same way. Give it a try and let me know what you think!