Coq Au Vin -Coco Blah Style

This recipe is sort of like Faux Coq Au Vin. It involves a big cheat -buying a chicken already cooked, but it is very delicious and simple enough for my 9 year old daughter to do most of the work. She dreams of becoming a chef and fashion designer and shop owner, so she loves getting her hands in the kitchen, baking and making!
I loved making this with her.

You’re Going to Need:

5 Slices of Bacon
7 Carrots, scrubbed and cut into 5″ pieces (I cut them on a slant because it feels fancy)
1 1/2 C. Chicken Broth (I make my own in my crock pot and freeze it for later)
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
10 oz. Mushrooms (more or less to your taste), quartered
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
2 tsp. Fresh Thyme
2 tsp. Fresh Rosemary
1 1/2 C. Frozen Pearl Onions
1 Cooked, Whole Rotisserie Chicken, carved

1) Begin cooking bacon in a large, deep skillet (a dutch oven will work best, but I don’t have one yet!)
2) Put carrots in a large, microwave safe bowl with 1/2 C. Water. Place lid on top and mircowave on high for 7 minutes, or until carrots are tender but not mushy.
3) In a large cup, mix tomato paste with 3/4 C. Chicken Broth, reserve the rest of the broth for later.
4) When bacon is done cooking, remove it from the pan. Use a slotted spoon so the grease stays in the pan!
5) Add garlic, thyme, rosemary, and mushrooms to the bacon grease. Cook over medium heat for about 6 minutes.
6) Add pearl onions to pan, continue cooking for 4 minutes more.
7) Raise heat to high and add remaining 3/4 C. Chicken Broth to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the delicious cooked bits from the bottom and sides of pan.
8) Bring broth to a boil and add broth/tomato mixture, stir to incorporate.
9) Add chicken pieces and carrots. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 10 minutes, turning chicken occasionally.
10) Transfer food to a serving dish (if desired) and garnish with crumbled bacon
11) Enjoy!
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We sopped up the juices with store-bought french bread. Well… everyone else did. I just sat by the wayside and cried. I miss gluten lots when people sop up sauce in front of my face.

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*Recipe adapted from THIS ONE

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Shamrock Smoothie

A friend of mine highly recommended the book, “Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit” by Adelle Davis. I’ve been reading it and appreciating her common sense approach to health. She’s a great advocate for supplementing with vitamins and minerals, and as I looked over her recommended dosing for protein, I realized I hadn’t been feeding our family enough!
I’ve been more conscious of our protein intake, especially because the kids are 9 and 7 and 3 and NEEEEEED some solid things to make the strong. They aren’t big eaters (unless there’s brownies).
I picked up some protein powder at the grocery store (and Sam’s) and I’ve been giving them this shake a few times a week. They love it!

You’re Going to Need:

Milk (any kind, we use cow milk right now)
Vanilla Protein Powder
Spinach
Bananas

I don’t really measure anything, I just fill the blender about halfway with milk, toss in two scoops of powder, a banana and about 1-2 cups of spinach.
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Posted in Beverage, Breakfast, Gluten Free, Healthy, Snacks | Leave a comment

Gravy Trick!

My mom rarely makes her gravy only on the stove top. Her step mom taught her a trick that she passed on to me. I know I don’t use this trick to it’s full potential -but a few nights ago, I worked perfectly for me!
I’d put a roast in the crock pot because it was rainy and cold outside. I wanted to have the house feeling and smelling warm. I added butter, ranch seasonings, onions and salt to the roast in the crock pot and walked away. I felt pretty bold about not adding water -I wanted to see what would happen.
The roast cooked on low for just over 8 hours, and it was moist and warm. The crock pot was bubbling with plenty of liquid -you couldn’t tell I hadn’t used water! I made homemade mashed potatoes and then started the gravy.
I melted butter and added my gluten free flour mix. It usually makes gravy no problem, but when I started adding drippings from the crock pot, it just lumped up.
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I tried adding more, reducing heat, adding milk… finally I remembered something my Mom had said about blending gravy that wouldn’t work.
What could I lose?
I poured the lumpy mix into my blender.
I had to blend it for quite awhile. I added more drippings and milk and then I cried out in pure triumph when it came out like:
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I immediately called my Mom to thank her, and she gave all the credit to her late step mother, Nedra. What a life saver!
Mom uses the blender to make her gravy, and it’s never failed her!

Posted in Crock Pot Cookin', From Scratch, Holiday, Ma's Specialties, Side Dishes | 1 Comment

Homemade Blender Salsa

When we were first married, our landlord gave us 1/2 of one of their garden rows. We planted cherry tomatoes and zucchini and felt very earthy about the whole thing. As the cherry tomatoes ripened, we tried to find places to put them. I’d remembered a recipe I’d seen in a homemade cookbook we’d been given at our wedding… it was for homemade blender salsa. I had no idea how cherry tomatoes would taste in a salsa, but I gave it a try anyway! The result was a steady stream of requests for homemade salsa. My husband began volunteering to bring salsa to social events, and we spent the first year of our marriage in blissful snackage.

Yesterday I realized I had all of the ingredients on hand to make salsa, and I realized I haven’t made it in YEARS. I knew it would make my husband’s day to come home from a long day of work to fresh salsa, so my kids and I got to work.

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The first batch we made, we only used cherry tomatoes from our garden. But Alice dumped it on the ground.
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So our second batch -because after smelling the salsa goodness and having it SO CLOSE was too much to NOT make a second batch STAT -included some store-bought diced tomatoes. Either way works -this salsa is pretty easy. I never measure, I just throw in this and that. Sometimes more of one thing and less of something else.
It’s pretty hard to mess up!

I am a cilantro lover and I feel like the cilantro MAKES this salsa, so if you hate it, I can’t promise that the salsa will still make your day. It might be nasty. Salsa without cilantro usually is. #haters

You’re Going to Need:

28 oz. whole or stewed tomatoes (canned or fresh) -I use a mixture of fresh cherry and full-size garden tomatoes
1-2 cans of diced green chilies (4 oz. each)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Jalapeno (I pluck one from our garden and take out most -but not all -of the veins and seeds) -more to taste!
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
Pepper
1/4 C. Chopped Cilantro
3-4 Chopped Green Onions (you can use white onions in a pinch, but green really are SO good)

Put half of the tomatoes in the blender with the garlic, peppers, sugar, salt and pepper. Blend well, pour into bowl.
Put remaining tomatoes in blender and blend SLIGHTY. We want chunks!
Stir in cilantro and green onions.

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Posted in From Scratch, Gluten Free, Healthy, Mexican, Side Dishes, Snacks | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Green Banana Smoothie

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I turned 30 over the weekend, and that meant I ate A LOT of food that my body didn’t appreciate. Tuesday I gave my body a break. I drank some lemon water in the morning and skipped breakfast. When lunchtime rolled around, I made a green smoothie and snacked on carrots and cantaloupe.
I rubbed my belly and apologized for the bally bad way I’d treated her.

I felt SO good after this refreshing lunch. It was definitely a green smoothie I didn’t have to choke down. It went down so well! You can bet I downed another one this morning after yoga.

You’re Going To Need:

Filtered Water
Ice Cubes (I use 5 or so)
1-2 C. Fresh Spinach
1 Banana (mine was covered in lovely brown spots)
2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil

Yesterday I also threw in 1/4 of a gala apple and it was great! This morning I didn’t have time to chop an apple, and it was still delicious.
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My body was much happier with me after this! I felt like The Very Hungry Caterpillar… I ate a lot of STUFF and then spent a day chowing through a green leaf.
A good friend gave me some sugar-free, gluten free banana oatmeal muffins with kefir grains. Put it together with the green smoothie and we have a recipe for a good morning!
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Posted in Beverage, Breakfast, Gluten Free, Healthy, Lunch, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Homemade Caramel Corn

As my 30th birthday inches closer, I’m feeling the press of some weird deadline to MAKE AND DO things that I haven’t done before, as if the embarassment of NOT having made or done them before turning 30 will kill me.

And it’s getting really dumb. ┬áBecause the stuff bothering me IS REALLY DUMB.
Homemade caramel corn is one of those things. The stuff in and of itself isn’t dumb, you understand, but the idea that I must make it before August 16th, 2015 is pretty petty.
Be that as it may…

You’re Going to Need:

12 C. Plain, Popped Popcorn
2 Cups Brown Sugar
1/3 C. Light Corn Syrup
1 tsp. salt
1 Cup Butter, plus extra for buttering pans
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 C. dry, roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Butter two jelly roll (cookie sheet) pans. If you have an 8-year old, they’d be really good at this.

Spread popped corn onto buttered pans (add peanuts as well, if you’re using them). Set aside.
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In a large saucepan, bring brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt to a boil over medium heat. Stir constantly for 5 minutes while it boils. Remove from heat, and stir in baking soda and vanilla. It will foam, so THIS is why we use a large saucepan!
While it’s light and foamy, pour it immediately over the popped corn. Don’t worry too much about coating the popcorn evenly… it will coat more evenly in the oven each time you stir it.

Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, pulling out every 15 minutes to stir. Pour finished caramel corn out onto waxed paper and allow to cool before breaking up and eating.

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This stuff tastes JUST like Sunday evening. Enjoy!

Posted in Dessert, From Scratch, Gluten Free, Holiday, Snacks | 1 Comment

Homemade Green Enchilada Sauce/Enchiladas

A few years ago when my Dad was sick, the community held a HUGE benefit for him. I wanted to contribute, so I volunteered to make enchiladas for the program/dinner Deanne had put together.
“Let’s do enchiladas,” she said, “They’re simple and delicious.”
I volunteered based on that knowledge because -confession: I’d never actually ever made enchiladas before. But I REALLY wanted to help, and Deanne SAID they were easy, so…

I cracked open my faithful, falling-apart Pioneer Woman cookbook and flipped to her recipe, “Simple, Perfect Enchiladas.”
SEE?! Even The Pioneer Woman says they are simple!
I bought all of the ingredients with gusto -it felt so good to have something to DO other than worry about Dad. I came home and chopped green onion, browned ground beef (Dad’s home grown fresh beef!) and heated up oil to dip the tortillas in so they’d be soft. I had all the right pans and all the right brands of cans!
Not counting shopping time, it took me FOUR HOURS start to finish.
By the time I’d sprinkled cilantro on top of the second pan, I kicked my feet up and decided that even though it took so long and wasn’t as simple as I’d pictured in my mind, it was for DAD. And if something takes that long, SURELY it would taste like Christmas at Disneyland.
After I’d let some blood flow back up my legs, I took a bite of those enchiladas and was alarmingly UNDERWHELMED.
I took another bite, sure that the first bite had been a mistake.
Same results.

I delivered them to the benefit with a heavy heart. I’d followed the directions EXACTLY. Or as my Dad likes to say, “Ezzactly.”

That was two years ago. I hadn’t bothered with them after that because
1) They are NOT simple
2) They don’t taste good
3) I’m surrounded by Mexican restaurants that make YUMMY enchiladas.

But sometime in May, I had a hankering for some Mexican Food. I didn’t have the money or energy to go to the store for enchilada sauce, so I googled how to make homemade green enchilada sauce… the Pioneer Woman uses red, and the amazing little restaurant in Snowflake, AZ called Eva’s has divine green, so GREEN was my game plan.
I had all of the ingredients, so I decided to give it a try.

At this point, I remembered that I didn’t need a cookbook to help me make enchiladas. I live in ARIZONA, people. Mexican food is what we DO. Why was I branching out for advice? Surely all I needed was my little gut, right?
I decided to do enchiladas MY WAY which meant I didn’t actually use any one recipe from start to finish… I threw that beauty of a dinner together in about 40 minutes, and it was so divine that my husband almost licked the casserole dish clean and WOULD HAVE had I not beat him to it.

I will say that for ME, making enchilada sauce from scratch is WAY WAY WAY easier than buying it because I live a good distance from a grocery store and I have three kids and if I go in for enchilada sauce I will come out with $55 worth of groceries.
$50 in groceries and $5 for the ice cream and chocolate I need after a trip like that.

Here’s the recipe for Green Enchilada Sauce:

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 C. finely chopped onion
1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 Tablespoons Flour (I usually use about 5 Tablespoons of Gluten Free Baking Mix)
1 1/2 C. Chicken Broth (water + bullion works in a pinch)
1 C. canned green chilies (try using fresh if ya got ‘em!)
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper (I use a fancy spicy pepper blend my husband bought for his homemade jerky… shhhhh)
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:
1) Heat up EVOO in a large skillet, add onions and garlic. Sautee until onions are garlic are soft and fragrant but not toasty and brown.

2) Stir in flour. Slowly add chicken broth. The flour will clump up, just continue to stir until the texture smooths out.

3) Add remaining ingredients and stir. Simmer, stirring occasionally. Depending on what kind of flour you use and how much, you may need to adjust cooking time and the amount of broth you add. The texture should be silky but still runny. You can put the sauce in the blender if you want it VERY smooth -which I don’t.

Sauce will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge and can even be frozen (though mine never lasts past the dinner table).

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How I assemble my enchiladas:

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I add chicken to my enchiladas, though it isn’t necessary. I usually rip up some rotisserie (which is what I did the first time I tried this), but last night I cooked up some boneless chicken cut into squares. Add taco seasoning!
Use plenty of grated cheese.
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Bake at 400 degrees for 15ish minutes, until the cheese is all nice and melty and slightly crispy.

NOTE: If you’re shy when it comes to messy cooking, just don’t make these. ┬áBecause these involve a lot of finger licking and chicken taste-testing.

Lacy took care of setting the table. She busted out a table cloth and our fine wedding china.
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This recipe usually makes about 11 enchiladas which is enough to feed our family dinner and have a couple leftover for breakfast the next morning -just crack a fried egg over that deliciousness!

This recipe is so loved in our house it was requested for Father’s Day and I happily made 4 pans for a huge crowd. It ACTUALLY WAS simple and the best part? I was able to feed Dad enchiladas! I’m happy to report he had seconds.

I’m also happy to report that I was able to finally get a grip on making enchiladas… I was starting to wonder if I’d have to divorce my state!

Green Enchilada Sauce recipe found and adapted from here

Posted in From Scratch, Gluten Free, Main Dish, Mexican | Leave a comment

Quick Granola

A few days ago, I was in the mood for some granola, but I was short on time. I found this recipe, and it’s becoming a staple! It’s perfect as a snack, a cereal or as part of a parfait.
We all love it!

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Cups Oatmeal
1/3 C. Butter
2 Tablespoons Honey
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Slivered Almonds
1/3 C. Craisins

Heat the Olive Oil in a large skillet. Add oats and cook until oats begin to brown (about 5 minutes), stirring very frequently.
Remove from heat and spread oats on a cookie sheet to cool.

Using the same skillet: melt butter, add brown sugar and honey. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly. Add oats -cook for another five minutes. Pour granola onto the cookie sheet -spread it around so it can get nice and cool.
Add nuts and craisins.

You can add whatever combo of dried fruit and nuts you’d like. I just happen to love almonds and craisins! I would have added cashews but I didn’t have any on hand.
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Original recipe found HERE

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Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

This morning, I woke up to soft rain and cloudy skies. I immediately decided to let the kids sleep in and miss the bus to spend more time snuggled up in their blankets.
While they slumbered, I mixed up a new recipe. It hit the spot!

Gluten AND sugar free AND everyone loved it! Toddlers, husbands, kindergarteners, second graders and mothers.
AND IT’S EASY.
Easy like Monday morning? If only…
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You’re going to need:

2 bananas
2 eggs
1/2 C. Oatmeal
Pinch of baking powder
Pinch of Salt

Blend ingredients in blender until smooth. Let sit for 10-20 minutes to thicken.

Pour batter onto a non-stick skillet, cook and flip and serve!

Top with maple syrup or fresh fruit.

Posted in Breads, Breakfast, From Scratch, Gluten Free, Healthy | Leave a comment

Southwestern Tostadas

Last night I had two problems:
#1) I needed to make dinner and
#2) I had no refried beans.

It’s SERIOUSLY a problem, okay? If you’re not from Arizona, you wouldn’t understand…

I had cheese, tostada shells and no refried beans! So I improvised and came up with something everyone loved. It was a pantry meal for sure.
We’ll be making it again and again and again -though no tomatoes for Trenton (hello, Family Feud over food).

NOTE: this recipe is VERY casual when it comes to ingredients and cook time… it’s all about how much you feel is right.

You’re Going To Need:
Tostada Shells
BBQ Sauce
Cheese (Your choice, I used a chedder and co-jack blend)
Toppings of choice: corn, black beans, tomatoes, diced bell peppers…

Preheat oven to 350.
I only had canned tomatoes, so the first thing I did was rinse and drain the tomatoes and black beans (though not at the same time).

I topped the tostada shells with BBQ sauce as if they were teeny pizzas. I added toppings (black beans, tomatoes, and bell pepper in my case) and then finished it off with a layer of cheese.
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Bake until cheese melts nicely.
I didn’t get a final picture, but really… these were easy and delicious.

Posted in Gluten Free, Healthy, Main Dish, Mexican | Leave a comment