Mother Earth Living

Food Matters

All about fresh, flavorful food


10/18/2013
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These are a combination between Lara bars, truffles, Girl Scout Samoa cookies and the best healthy food you ever ate! Thanks to my mom, the Girl Scouts and the price of Lara bars for the inspiration. My kids were literally fighting over them as quickly as I could roll them and the batch is gone! Back to the kitchen I go!

LaLa Truffles
Photo By Jennifer Robins

LaLa Truffles

• 1 cup pitted dates
• 1/4 cup enjoy life chocolate chips
• 3/4 cup pecans
• 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut (and a little extra for rolling)

ingredients in blender
Photo By Jennifer Robins

1. Put all ingredients into food processor, Nutribullet or blender and pulse until ingredients are well combined.

2. Take "dough" and roll into bite-sized truffles or form into snack bars.

3. Roll in additional coconut if desired and drizzle with my Magically Magic Shell for a little something special

4. Try to reserve any of these beyond the first 5 minutes of their preparation!!!


Jennifer RobinsI am Jennifer, just a plain ol' mom. Not a "Pinterest worthy" mom, or a "soccer mom," or a "PTA president mom." Just a run-of-the-mill, trying to survive, want-the-best-for-my-family kind of mom and wife. After being gluten-free for about four years, I realized there was still a lot of junk in our pantry, and I wanted better for our family. I began cooking more from scratch, using real WHOLE foods of which I can feel proud. I started predominantlypaleo.blogspot.com to share meals that are primarily grain-free and refined-sugar-free but full of flavor and spirit!



10/8/2013

Just as promised—an amazingly delicious soup using the soup stock from the last blog post. Transforming a rather mundane and boring vegetable into an amazing creamy, comforting soup can be a challenge—but not today! Cauliflower is the unexpected star of this dreamy dinner.

I was on a cauliflower kick for awhile; I was finding tons of new ways to use it. My husband loves raw cauliflower, but I think the taste of this strange vegetable leaves a little to be desired when it is served raw. I would rather eat a paper towel than that crunchy tasteless raw veggie. Broccoli, carrots, peppers….sure! Raw cauliflower? Pass. That being said, I am watching my baby cauliflower plants thrive in my winter garden! It’s my first time growing it, and I am trying the regular white variety as well as Romanesco (the beautiful lime green variety).

But back to the soup.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup Recipe

• 1 head of cauliflower; chopped
• 2 tablespoons of EVOO
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
• 3 cups chicken or veg broth
• 1-1/2 cups of aged cheddar
• 1 cup cream or milk (can sub evaporated milk as well)

First, you will need a large head of this crunchy crudité. Cut it into small pieces, trying to keep them around the same size. Spread these evenly on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Mid-way through cooking give them a flip with the ol’ spatula.

Meanwhile, don’t just stand there doing nothing! Go ahead and get your favorite soup pot out and be sweating some onion and garlic. Sauté those onions until they are clear, then add the garlic and let all those yummy flavors mix together. (It never fails: when I put onion and garlic in a pan and sauté it, my husband will inevitably say, “Wow, honey, whatever you are cooking smells so good.” Every. Single. Time.)

sauteeing onions and garlic
Photo By Jennifer Rose

After you sauté that for a few minutes, go ahead and add some fresh thyme. A teaspoon–ish should do the trick. Then add 4 cups of soup stock to the pot. You can use the chicken stock recipe I shared last week, or you can add any vegetable or chicken broth that you might have handy.

immersion blender in cauliflower soup
Time to get out the immersion blender! Photo By Jennifer Rose.

At this point, your cauliflower should be good and roasted, so you can go ahead and add all of that to the pot as well. Bring to a boil then let that simmer for 20 minutes. After that, here comes the tricky, could-be-messy-but-it-cleans-up-easy-part—grab your immersion blender. If you are like me, you may need a face mask for this step. (Goodness gracious.) Try to keep the head of the blender submerged as that will keep it from splattering on you and everything else in your kitchen. Be careful as that soup is hot. Blend it well. The consistency will be similar to a potato soup.

roasted cauliflower soup
Photo By Jennifer Rose.

Now add 1-1/2 cups of the best aged cheddar you can find. Let that melt. Then add 1 cup of cream or milk. This will help the soup become thicker and creamier. Now, here is where you can “make-it-like-you-like-it.” My husband loves bacon, so if you want to add some bacon bits to the top with a little dollop of sour cream or yogurt go right ahead; I won’t judge you. Serve it with some crusty sourdough bread or maybe some rye or pumpernickel croutons? Or maybe some cheese toast? Or maybe a grilled cheese with tomato? Sure. The possibilities are endless. Who said meatless Monday has to be boring? Not me! Enjoy the soup. Let us know what things you try as toppings!


Jennifer RoseJennifer is a lover of all things yummy! After traveling the states for 5 years, this Mississippi native brought all her Southern roots to plant them in the funky, easy-to-love, Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she resides with her husband, Phil, and two dogs. She is an avid cook, baker, gardener, and creator of all things wonderful.  She loves being in the kitchen, gardening, hiking, biking, traveling, yard work, anything DIY, good beer and great food! Except kale. She doesn’t like kale. 



10/8/2013

cookbookA few years ago, my daughter’s class did a cookbook fundraiser for their class trip. Now I must explain that my daughter was in a combined classroom of 7th & 8th graders with a total of 13 students at a small Catholic school in Southern Wisconsin. The students asked their parents and the rest of the parish to submit recipes for their cookbook. As many will agree with me, the best cookbooks are church cookbooks.

One recipe I found was named “Milk Can Feed,” which was submitted by the mother of one of my daughters’ classmates, who is known as the best cookie maker in the parish. Having eaten many of Kelly Kemp’s Cookies, as they are lovingly referred to at any church function, I figured this recipe would be great, too. The original recipe had an army-sized yield, but we are only a family of 6. Sure, we could do leftovers a few times or I could try to reduce the recipe.

As I didn’t own the milk can required to make the dish, I couldn’t call it “milk can feed.” But I decided that my pressure cooker would work—so here’s my recipe for “Under Pressure Dinner.” Arrange 12-18 ears of sweet corn on end around the outside of the pressure cooker. Then place 1 quartered head of cabbage, 2 quartered onions and 3 pounds of red potatoes in the middle of the corn circle. Layer 10-12 polish sausage or fresh bratwurst on top of the corn, cabbage, potatoes and onions. Finally add 2 quarts of hot water.  Once 10 pounds of pressure has been achieved, cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let the pressure cooker release pressure for about 15 minutes, then enjoy. (For more on pressure cooking, check out the article The Benefits of Pressure Cookers.)

I did, however, think that since hunting season is upon us, many men may be interested in the original recipe so here is “Milk Can Feed.” Arrange 24-36 ears of sweet corn (husk on but silk removed) on end, in the bottom of a clean 10 gallon milk can. Then add 4 heads of cabbage quartered, 4 onions halved, and 10 pounds of potatoes. Then stuff 20-25 polish sausage into the can and add 1-1/2 gallons of water. Put lid on tight and wire to the handles of the can. Place a 1/8-inch hole in the lid with a nail to act as a vent like a pressure cooker. Place on a HOT campfire.  When steam comes out of the hole, cook for 20 minutes more. Remove from heat and let stand for 20 minutes. Dump into large pans.


Char Scace is a married, busy mother of four with 20 years of professional chef experience.



10/7/2013

Reason number 1,502,844 why I love soup: the simplicity of a one-pot meal! Perfect for fall and full of flavor, this butternut squash soup is a great example of an easy meal made with delicious whole foods that the whole family will eat willingly!

butternut squash soup
Photo By Jennifer Robins

Easy Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

• 32 ounces butternut squash, cubed (2-3 pounds/1 squash)
• 32 ounces organic beef broth
• 1 stick organic salted butter (or substitute vegan butter)
• 1 onion
• 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt (or to taste)
• 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
• 1/4 cup organic heavy cream (or substitute coconut milk/almond milk/flax milk)
• 1 packet stevia

1. Cube squash (you can also buy pre-cut and packaged)

2. Sauté onions and full stick of butter over medium heat in stock pot. Allow to soften and caramelize a bit.

3. Add squash and beef broth and bring to a boil for 10 minutes or until squash is soft.

4. Add salt, pepper and stevia (and whatever other seasonings you may like).

5. Transfer contents to a blender (I use a Vitamix) or use an immersion blender until soup is a creamy consistency.

6. Transfer contents back into pot and add heavy cream, if desired, or you can substitute with coconut milk, almond milk or flax milk

7. Serve alone or garnish with my grain free cheese crackers.


Jennifer RobinsI am Jennifer, just a plain ol' mom. Not a "Pinterest worthy" mom, or a "soccer mom," or a "PTA president mom." Just a run-of-the-mill, trying to survive, want-the-best-for-my-family kind of mom and wife. After being gluten-free for about four years, I realized there was still a lot of junk in our pantry, and I wanted better for our family. I began cooking more from scratch, using real WHOLE foods of which I can feel proud. I started predominantlypaleo.blogspot.com to share meals that are primarily grain-free and refined-sugar-free but full of flavor and spirit!



10/3/2013

Every year I plant about 30 tomato plants and no matter what I do they are all ready for picking at the same time. I have tried delayed planting of half of the plants, but it seems Mother Nature always intervenes.  Then I have the mother-in-law intervention as well. She is a great mother-in-law, not like some of my friend’s horror stories. But when I have tomatoes, so does she, and when she says she will send a few home, I know that it means at least 5 milk crates.

tomatoes
Too many tomatoes! Photo By Char Scace.

When the tomatoes started to arrive this year, I checked out what we had in our pantry to see what I needed to make first.  I knew I had to make spaghetti sauce and a lot of it. The problem with making spaghetti sauce is the amount of prep time involved. First you have to blanch and peel the tomatoes, then cook them, then run them through a sieve. I found this prep usually took me a whole day and then I would have to can it the next day and only get a minimal amount of sauce.

So as I stood in my kitchen, slightly overwhelmed with the amount of tomatoes I needed to can, I started thinking about some possible shortcuts. First off, I decided to just coarsely chop the tomatoes. I then filled a 12 quart stock pot with the coarsely chopped tomatoes and turned it on low. I added about 1 cup of chopped onion, 1/8 cup minced garlic, 1/8 cup oregano and 1/8 cup of sweet basil. I let this cook for probably about 30-45 minutes, until it sunk about 1/3 of the way down, and I stirred often, making sure to lift the chopped tomatoes from the bottom of the pan all the way to the top to distribute the heat. I then added 1 package of Mrs. Wages Create Pasta Sauce and brought the sauce to a boil. I then shut off the heat and started filling my prepared quart jars. I processed them in a hot water bath for 40 minutes after boiling resumed. It made about 7 quarts and 1 pint.

I always follow the directions on the back of the Mrs. Wages Create Pasta Sauce package but always omit the sugar, as I prefer as low-carb as possible (my kids get noodles, I get spaghetti squash). My children always love my sauce; I always felt it was too salty. Now that I am using one package to season 7+ quarts versus 1 package for 5 pints, the salt level is much better in my opinion. With these shortcuts, I now have more time to annoy my teenage daughters. They are so lucky.


Char Scace is a married, busy mother of four with 20 years of professional chef experience.



10/3/2013

If you tried the ricotta from my last post and are finding yourself wanting “more” in the way of homemade cheese, paneer is a great next step. This version is a spiced paneer, but you can omit the cumin and make it plain, if you'd like. I find that the addition of spices to most fresh cheeses will extend the shelf life of the cheese by a few days—not to mention, it makes them very tasty!

All you'll need is:

• 1 gallon milk, raw or pasteurized, goat or cow
• a scant ½ teaspoon ground cumin
• 4-5 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (with goat milk, I prefer lemon juice; with cow milk, I use apple cider vinegar. The difference is subtle, but there)
• 2 tablespoons salt
• colander
• cheesecloth or flour sack towel

1. Pour your milk into a non-reactive pot; stainless steel or enamelware work perfectly for cheesemaking. Stir in the cumin. Bring the milk to a boil (yes, boil), very slowly. I use a portable infrared cooktop for cheesemaking, because I can control the temperature. If you have an infrared cooktop, set it to 275 degrees. If you are using a conventional cooktop, use no higher than medium heat. It takes a good while to bring it to a boil, and either way, you'll be keeping a close eye on it and stirring frequently. If you try to rush the process, you'll end up with scorched milk. Not only is that not palatable, but you will hate the cleanup process!

cumin in goat milk
Cumin in goat milk. Photo By Pier Jones.

2. Once you have a slow boil, not rolling, add your acid of choice. Because paneer is a solid mass of cheese (not crumbly), you will get a better curd if you add the lemon juice or vinegar slowly while stirring the milk in one direction. If, after about a minute, you are not seeing the curd separate from the whey, add more acid, one tablespoon at a time. Remove from the heat, add the salt (paneer is quite bland without it, even with the addition of the cumin) and stir for a few more seconds. Allow the curd to settle to the bottom of the pot for 10 to 15 minutes.  

paneer curd
Paneer curd. Photo By Pier Jones.

3. Line a colander with cheesecloth or a towel and drain the cheese. I find this step easier if I begin by pouring off the whey, down to the level of the curd. You'll get less splashing that way. Then wrap the paneer in cheesecloth, place it on several thicknesses of towel (several, so think about using a couple of bath towels here), and place a weight (a cast iron pot works well) on top for a few hours. Or, you can hang it until firm, as I prefer....after all, why dirty more laundry?

paneer draining
Drain the paneer using a cheesecloth-lined colander. Photo By Pier Jones.

paneer hanging
Hang the paneer until it is firm. Photo By Pier Jones.

You may wonder, “Why cumin?” I have used turmeric, and that adds a nice flavor and tint. And garlic powder, added sparingly, is good. But because I generally cube and marinate the paneer in a curry blend, the cumin seems the most complimentary. (To add the paneer to a curry blend, add your favorite curry powder to buttermilk, yogurt or milk and pour it over the cubed paneer. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.)

paneer marinating
Marinate the paneer in a mixture of your favorite curry blend and butter, yogurt or milk. Photo By Pier Jones.

Once marinated and browned in either butter or ghee, the paneer will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. It is a great snack or finger-food, and of course just begs to be added to your next dish of curried anything! Try adding it to soups and stews, for a meatless variation of those old favorites. Paneer is a mild cheese and will pick up the flavors of whatever you cook with it.

browned paneer
Browned paneer. Photo By Pier Jones.

You may be wondering what you can do with all that whey you have just poured off.  I drain my cheeses over a big pot and feed the whey to my chickens, who love it. 

Until next time, remember: Eat Real Food!


Pier JonesPier Jones is an Oklahoman who is passionate about many things—her family, gardening, yoga, food preservation, herbs and all things food-related. Like most Southern women, she lives to feed people! Follow her on her Facebook page, A Year of Traditional Living 



9/27/2013

It's the seasonal coffee drink that has its fans talking months before it debuts each fall. It's frothy, creamy, sweet and full of everything “fall.” But that's not all it's full of. Try this organic, dairy-free, sugar-free REAL pumpkin spice latte instead!

dairy- and sugar-free pumpkin spice latte
Photo By Jennifer Robins

Dairy- and Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

• 1 cup organic brewed coffee (regular or decaf)
• 1 cup coconut milk (I use this Native Forest)
• 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons organic canned pumpkin
• 25 drops vanilla creme stevia
• ground nutmeg to taste
• ground cinnamon to taste

1. Combine all ingredients and blend briefly until pumpkin is well incorporated.

2. Top with additional cinnamon and nutmeg if desired.

3. Serve with salted caramel shortbread as an extra treat!


Jennifer RobinsI am Jennifer, just a plain ol' mom. Not a "Pinterest worthy" mom, or a "soccer mom," or a "PTA president mom." Just a run-of-the-mill, trying to survive, want-the-best-for-my-family kind of mom and wife. After being gluten-free for about four years, I realized there was still a lot of junk in our pantry, and I wanted better for our family. I began cooking more from scratch, using real WHOLE foods of which I can feel proud. I started predominantlypaleo.blogspot.com to share meals that are primarily grain-free and refined-sugar-free but full of flavor and spirit!





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