Sunday, January 26, 2014

Italian Sausage Seasoning Mix

This blend makes delicious Italian sausage!

4 teaspoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs, like McCormick's or your own blend
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1. Combine all the seasonings and store in a labeled and dated air tight container.

2. Combine 2 Tablespoons of the mixture with 1 pound of ground pork.


You can add some fennel seed if you like.  It is traditional in Italian sausage, but I hate it, so I leave it out. 

If you want spicier sausage, add more red pepper flakes. 

You can use this spice blend with any kind of ground meat: beef, chicken, turkey.

Italian Sausage Burgers with Spinach and Squash

This meal was a happy accident.  I had thawed some ground pork for dinner and had a few vegetables in the fridge that needed to be cooked: a spaghetti squash and some fresh spinach.  At the last minute, I decided to make the pork into Italian sausage patties. The rest is history.  It just turned out that these three components go perfectly together to create a delicious, cohesive meal that needs no other accompaniment.  I thought about adding some sort of sauce, but honestly, it was so yummy that it just didn't need it.  Parmesan cheese might go well and I plan to try that next time (We were out), but with or without, this combination will for sure be in our regular rotation of meals.  Delicious!

1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons Italian sausage seasoning mix
1/2 spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded with a fork
1 bag fresh spinach
2 Tablespoons butter
Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Bake the spaghetti squash in the oven, remove the flesh and put away half of it for another meal.

2. Stir a little salt, pepper and butter into the rest and set aside.

3. While the squash is baking, mix about 2 tablespoons of Italian sausage seasoning mix into the ground              pork.

4. Shape into 4 patties.

5. Cook pork patties how ever you'd like: grill, broil, skillet, griddle.

I made a double batch and cooked them on my griddle. 

6. While patties are cooking, heat up a skillet and melt some butter.

7. Add the whole bag of fresh spinach and some salt and pepper.

8. Saute spinach till tender.  Add a little water for steam if the skillet gets too dry.

9. Once all the components of the dinner are cooked, just assemble the meal by placing a serving of                   squash on the plate. Top that with 1/4th of the spinach and top that with a pork patty.

Servings: 4

If you have kids that don't like spinach, just make some green beans or something for them.  That's what we do for Claire.  Broccoli also goes great with the sausage and squash.   Most kids will love the sausage!

Oven Roasted Cabbage Rounds

This is our favorite way to eat cabbage.  It is amazing when oven roasted like this.  You can add garlic, or red pepper flakes or any of your favorite seasonings, but I love it plain with salt and pepper with the subtle bacon-y flavor giving a perfect compliment to the sweetness of the cabbage.  This really is delicious!

1 small head of cabbage
2 tablespoons bacon grease, or other fat
ground black pepper

1. Remove core and loose outer leaves from cabbage

2. Slice cabbage into 1/2 inch thick rounds.

3. Spread some bacon grease on the bottom of a cookie sheet. 

4. Place cabbage rounds on the sheet, dot each with more bacon grease and sprinkle with salt and                     pepper. 

5. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or so until cabbage is tender and outer edges are crispy,               flipping with a large spatula half way through cooking time. 

Serves 4 to 6

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fried Apples

Go ahead and make apple crisp or apple pie for special occasions, but for an everyday treat, keep it simple, and grain free with these Fried Apples!

2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey, raw
3 Tablespoons walnuts, chopped

1. Peel,core and slice apples.

2. Melt butter in a skillet and add apples.  

3. Saute until apples are tender. 

4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and add honey.
(The honey is optional and not really necessary if you are using sweeter apples.  Granny Smiths will require a tiny bit of honey.)

5. Spoon apples into serving dishes and top with chopped walnuts. 

Serves 3

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cauliflower Fried "Rice"

This dish tastes just like fried rice!  We both loved it and will be making it often.  

Ted said, "Put a star by that one!" 

1 small  cauliflower, grated, stalk and all
6 slices bacon, diced small
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup red onion, diced small
1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise and then slice thin
1/2 medium zucchini, cut into short matchsticks, or 1 cup peas
8 ounces shrimp, wild caught, cooked, pealed and deveined.  
2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, or more to taste, can substitute coconut aminos
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
salt , to taste

Make sure your washed cauliflower is completely dry.  Grate your cauliflower, stalk and all, in a food processor or with the large side of a cheese grater.  Set aside.

Dice the bacon and cook in a large skillet, on medium heat, till crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a medium sized bowl.  

In the bacon grease, pour in scrambled eggs.  

Let the eggs flatten out and cook in a thin large circle.  Turn and when cooked through, remove to a cutting board.  Slice into thin strips and then cut into pieces.  Add the eggs to the bowl with the bacon.

Add more bacon grease or other fat if needed and saute the diced onion for a couple of minutes. 

Add the carrot and saute a couple of minutes more. 

Next add the zucchini and saute a couple of minutes more.  You want the onions soft and the carrot and zucchini tender but not mushy. 

Set all the vegetables aside in the bowl with the bacon and eggs.

Add more fat to the skillet if needed and add the riced cauliflower.  Cook on medium for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently, but also let it sit at times so some bits get browned and crispy. 

Toward the end of the 7 minutes, sprinkle in the soy sauce and seasonings.  

Finally, add all the pre-cooked ingredients and the shrimp into the pan and stir to heat through and combine. 

Servings: 4

You can use any type of onion, but the spiciness of the red onion really added to the dish. 
You can substitute cooked, diced chicken or pork for the shrimp. 
Use fresh ginger if you have it. 
This dish can be changed up depending on what vegetables you have on hand.  Any of these would be good: frozen green peas, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, green onions, bean sprouts, spinach, red cabbage. 
Try adding 1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil. 
Ted tops this dish with Huy Fong Sriracha Sauce. 

Ted loves this sauce but it does have sugar in it.
We are using it up and looking for an alternative.
Use it sparingly, if at all, but does taste great on fried rice! 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Turnip Gratin

This Turnip Gratin recipe by Ree Drummund is really great!  It is rich, creamy and delicious.  I had never had Gruyere cheese before and I'm so glad I tried it! It's a special treat.  The sauce for this dish tastes a lot like an Alfredo sauce and seems appropriate for special occasions.  I plan to try making it next time with less butter and cream for a lighter, week night side dish.  I used only 4 ounces of Gruyere and it was plenty for flavor.  The day after I made this for dinner, I thawed some pre-cooked shrimp and plopped them in a bowl of left over turnip gratin for my lunch.  It was delicious!

The Pioneer Woman's Turnip Gratin

Monday, January 6, 2014

Apricot Cheese Bites

8 dried apricots
4 ounces cream cheese, full fat, cold!
1/8 teaspoon vanilla, optional
1 teaspoon honey, raw
almond flour or shredded coconut, unsweetened

1. Put apricots in food processor bowl and process till minced. 

2. Add remaining ingredients except almond flour and blend till very smooth. 

3. Taste the mixture for flavor.  Add another apricot or so if desired.  

4. Shape mixture into 1" balls and roll in almond flour or coconut. 

5. You may need to place the mixture back into the refrigerator or freezer to chill it and make it easier to            handle, before rolling into balls. 

6. Place balls on a plate and into the freezer for several hours.  Once frozen, store in the freezer in a                   baggie or plastic container.  

These are a yummy, quick snack to grab when you want something a little sweet. Just one or two will do the trick.  

If you love cinnamon, add a dash to the mixture before processing. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Pumpkin Blueberry Pancakes

Nutrition packed pancakes for breakfast!  The eggs, pumpkin, blueberries and flax seed give you a great nutritional start to your day! 

4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon raw honey or pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons coconut flour
1 Tablespoon ground flax seeds, totally optional for nutrition
1 Tablespoon chia seeds, totally optional for nutrition
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon (Claire likes a lot of cinnamon!)
dash salt
1/2 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter

1. Mix wet ingredients into a bowl and whisk (except blueberries and oil). 
2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl, then sift into wet ingredients. Whisk till well blended.
3. Heat oil on a griddle or heavy skillet.
4. Pour 1/4 cup measures of batter onto griddle.  
5. Plop several blueberries into each pancake if desired.  (I omit them for Claire.)
6. Cook till bubbles come up through the middle of the pancake. 
7. Flip with a large spatula and finish cooking.  
8. Be sure pancakes are well browned before turning. These will be darker than your normal pancakes.  

Makes six pancakes, 3 servings. 


Pumpkin Banana Pancakes
Ted loves banana in his pancakes.  When I make them this way, I omit the honey/ maple syrup to help limit carbs and sweetness.  Everything else is the same.  You can add the blueberries or not depending on your tastes.

4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 medium banana, mashed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1 tablespoon chia seeds, totally optional for nutrition
1 tablespoon ground flax seed, totally optional for nutrition
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil, for frying

Serve with berries or pure maple syrup.

You can use frozen blueberries right out of the bag, but be sure to allow the pancake to cook long enough as the cold berries slow down the cooking process.  You can also use fresh or thawed blueberries.

I have made these with half coconut flour and half garbanzo bean flour and they turned out wonderful.

We've recently tried adding chia seeds to the batter for additional nutrition.  They change the texture slightly.  Ted says he can't tell they are in there.  ClaireAnna won't eat them with chia seeds.

I make three batches of these up ahead of time and freeze in two pancake portions.  (Three batches is 1 whole small can of pumpkin and makes 9 servings of 2 pancakes each.)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Bayou in Winter

Sniper and Joey and I hiked to the river today and did some exploring.  It was only in the thirties, but they didn't seem to mind the cold water at all, running in and out of it joyfully throughout the hike.  
You can click on the photos to see them in a larger frame.

The Illinois Bayou actually flows through our farm,
 lopping off this 10 acre section of woods that we have only stepped foot on twice.
Maybe someday, I'll talk Ted into helping me cut some horse trails through there.
Maybe not.....  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Creamy Yogurt Ranch Dip

3/4 cup yogurt, greek, full fat
3/4 cup sour cream, full fat
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a rubber spatula.

2. Store in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

Excellent, nutritious dip for vegetables with added protein from the greek yogurt.  You could even make it will all greek yogurt if you wanted to.