Saturday, May 31, 2014

Meal Planning: Weeks 9 & 10

Yay!  I'm actually getting this up and going early!  Headed back to work at the end of next week, so I've gotta be organized so I can spend my extra time sleeping--not wracking my brain trying to work around a grocery shortage!
  • Breakfasts: Again, we're alternating scrambled eggs with real-food protein shakes as our morning protein.  We have a new rooster to add to the flock!  I can't wait for October(ish)!!!  Shredded stuff and a "carb of choice"--english muffins, bagels, cereal, or fried baked potatoes.
  • Lunch: Leftovers and/or sandwiches depending on leftover status.
Dinner Menu, Week # 9
  • Sunday: Leftovers.  I've decided to start "compensating" for leftover day by making it DESSERT day!  Going to try homemade Larabars (new recipe) and make my ever-popular Joy Bars.  One good thing about this heat is that my coconut oil is already pre-melted, making this SO easy to make!
  • Monday: Baked Potato Bar with Broccoli.  Load those up all the good stuff: sour cream, cheese, green onions, bacon, sausage--whatever you like!
  • Tuesday: Taco Salad.  I use my own seasoning mix (very easy) to avoid extra fillers, colorings, and junk.
  • Wednesday: Crock-pot roasted chicken with Green Beans and Rice (roasting two birds! One to eat, and the other to pick clean for other recipes--toss in the freezer!)  Also, I'll be making stock from the carcass.  Stock is great for adding flavor to soup, stews, beans, rice, etc.
  • Thursday: Cocktail Shrimp with Broccoli
  • Friday: (Leftovers) No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake
  • Saturday: Crock-pot Pulled Pork and Baked Beans
Dinner Menu, Week # 10
  • Sunday: (Leftovers) Cherry Tarts
  • Monday: Grilled Cheese with Bacon Lime Sweet Potato Salad (new recipe)
  • Tuesday: Crockpot Chipotle (pull some of that saved chicken from last week out of my freezer) 
  • Wednesday: Egg Fried Rice with Peas
  • Thursday: French Toast
  • Friday: (Leftovers)  Beet Chocolate Cake and Homemade Ice Cream
  • Saturday:  Santa Fe Chicken (use more frozen leftover chicken)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Protein Shakes, Real-Foodie Style

We have been sorely missing having ALL our chickens in full production.

We started with eight Rhode Island Reds...then lost 6 to a raccoon massacre.  Lemme just say, after that, all those little boy hats and sweaters for autumn with raccoons on them...yeah, no longer cute.  I would scowl when I walked by them in the store, lemme tell ya.  At the time Little Man was learning sign language and loved the Baby Signing Time videos.  Nerdy momma here decided that "evil raccoon" needed to be in his vocabulary.  True story.

Then we got ten Golden-Laced Wyandottes.  Due to a hawk attack in the city, a dog, and some chicken stupidity, we are finally down to just our 4 current hens.

When raising chickens is to expect to lose some.  Anything that can replace itself in its respective population on nearly a DAILY basis (that daily egg, y'all) is likely to be quite low on the food chain.

Our new batch of fifteen Barred Rocks need to hurry up and grow!

In the meantime, I tried to come up with some alternate protein sources for our mornings.  Again, nerdy momma here did some math and found that this makes TWO large 1-quart smoothies and each is equivalent to 3 eggs (18 grams protein).  The protein portion comes out to paying around $3.50/dozen equivalent in eggs, which isn't bad for a true, grass-fed protein source, even if you're paying $8/gallon for organic/raw dairy and making your own yogurt.  (Those "cage-free, organic" eggs at the store don't cut it in my book.)  If you can't source your eggs well (I'm VERY picky with my eggs) or need a break from daily eggs, this is a good alternative.

Did I mention that I can be a mega nerd?

Little Man approved!

Protein Shake

  • 3 c. organic, whole-fat yogurt (I make my own from whole milk. Super easy and much cheaper than buying at the store, provided you can even find it without a bunch of additives.)
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 2 bananas, ripe **
  • 1 large handful frozen strawberries (probably about 1-1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp of gelatin (I use the green can variety as it dissolves nearly instantly into cold liquids)

1. Place all ingredients into a blender. (I just keep adding in more orange juice and yogurt in a 3:1 ratio until I have enough liquid.  This is veeeery flexible!  You may want to halve the recipe unless you have people with big appetites at your home!)
2. Blend to smithereens.
3. Enjoy.

** I find that bananas are THE key to a good smoothie. It's just not the same without it.  I usually try to look for the marked down bananas at the store.  I peel them and place them on a plate and freeze then store the pre-frozen bananas in a plastic bag until I'm ready to make a smoothie.  Keeps me from wasting them.  And I hate how bananas turn black in the freezer with the peel on.  Just puts me off frozen bananas.  Gross.

This is very versatile and you can substitute (or add) whatever flavoring fruit for strawberries.  Keep those bananas though! I also will toss in baby spinach if I have it around (or make baby spinach into pre-blended ice cubes if I have a batch about to go bad and use it in smoothies to prevent waste).

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bean Dip

I was inspired to try to create my own bean dip after our anniversary dinner at an upscale Cuban restaurant here in town.  Their bean dip was AMAZING and Dan commented how he could've eaten a whole meal of it.  Being the frugal one, I decided to run with it! It's hard to get meat-less meals that satisfy hardworking man-appetites!  I will say that this did not have the same consistency of their bean dip, but it was very easy, tasty, and high in calories from all the whole milk products.  I am ALL about whole milk.

Do you know how hard it is to get a good picture of bean dip while still making it look like something you should eat?!??!  I'm not even gonna try...
Plus, it's an easy crockpot meal!  Double score!

Or am I up to triple or quadruple...

Crock-pot Bean Dip

2 lb pinto beans, soaked overnight then rinsed.
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
6-8 c. chicken stock (or can use water, but it won't be as yummy)
2 tbsp. cumin
1 (8oz.) package cream cheese
1 1/2 c. sour cream
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack (or Pepper Jack) cheese
Hot sauce (opt., to taste)
4 Tbsp taco seasoning mix
Salt, to taste (you likely won't need much!)

1. Soak your pinto beans in water (to cover, be generous as they'll soak up a lot of water).  I usually add a bit of whey (from greek yogurt making), lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar.
2. Strain your beans in the morning and rinse.
3. Add your beans, onion, water/stock, and cumin to a crock pot (my 3 qt size was just enough at the end). And cook at high heat for about 6 hours or until the beans are VERY soft.
4. Add in the remaining ingredients to the hot beans.  I find that this will mush the beans into a coarse dip and the heat melts my cheeses together nice.
5. Serve with tortilla chips and a salad!

Please note, this is super easy and I could see myself always making this for refried beans since it so much more flavorful.  However, I could see it needing a smidgen bit more flavor for this house!  Next time, I'm adding in more seasonings and use pepper jack (plain Monterey the first time), but since we love our spices and heat in this house, I figured I'd leave it as it for you so you can "doctor it" up to your taste.  :)

UPDATE: I normally serve these on tortilla chips and give a little regarding the bad oils, but hubby suggested that we have them on lactofermented dilly carrots! Win! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Meal Planning: Week: 7 & 8

After a long hiatus due to reasonable things like moving, remodeling, and having babies (thanks for all the meals that were lovingly brought to and provided for us!), I'm ready to get back into the meal-planning groove! Being in the country is awesome and my new kitchen is spectacular--but it does have a few new challenges. The distance from store is now a lot more than the quick 2-mile jaunt from our house in town. Add in an extra kid and gas money and suddenly all this meal planning becomes MUCH more important!  For that reason, I've decided to try to meal plan in 2-week increments and try to minimize the marathon that is now grocery shopping!  (p.s. Sorry this is late, mostly, just to keep myself organized and give you ideas for YOUR next meal planning! :) )

Super cute baby pics..see you can't blame me for being away for so long!
  • Breakfasts: We've been enjoying having our chickens moved--as have they.  Sadly, we did lose one hen and our rooster when our coop door fell/got knocked shut during a hot day.  We're alternating scrambled eggs with real-food protein shakes ("recipe" coming soon!) as our morning protein.  Shredded stuff and a "carb choice" of english muffins, bagels, or fried baked potatoes round out our breakfasts these days.  We need hearty breakfasts! 
  • Lunch: Leftovers and/or sandwiches.
Dinner Menu, Week #7
  • Sunday: Breakfast Crack Casserole with Spicy Greens
  • Monday: Hebrew National Hotdogs, Annie's Mac and Cheese, and Pea Salad. (We love this salad-- simple and filling) (80/20 rule, y'all.  This momma just had a marathon shopping spree at Costco AND Aldis in one day...)
  • Tuesday: Leftovers (soak beans for Bean Dip)
  • Wednesday: Shrimp Scampi with Green Beans (Make Refried Bean recipe.  Can freeze for Quesadillas, but saving for tomorrow's dinner.)
  • Thursday: Bean Dip with Sweet Potato Salad (new recipes to test!)
  • Friday: Enchilada Casserole with Steamed Broccoli (new recipe again!)
  • Saturday: Mini English Muffin Pizzas
Dinner Menu, Week #8 
  • Sunday: Leftovers
  • Monday: Salmon Basil Pesto with Green Beans
  • Tuesday: Spinach Artichoke Dip with Salad
  • Wednesday: French Toast with Pea Salad
  • Thursday: White Bean Soup with Broccoli
  • Friday: LEFTOVERS
  • Saturday: Peanut Crockpot Chicken with Spicy Greens

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Joy Bars

This is an all-time favorite "dessert" recipe for us. During my breastfeeding days, I almost consider it to be a "vitamin" of sorts as it is an awesome way for me to get the daily recommended 1-2 Tbsp of coconut oil in my diet. Usually, that's quite hard as it is a bit nauseating to me plain and I don't like it in my smoothie.

Combine that with some good vanilla, raw honey, and a dash of sea salt, and you basically have a super-food, in my opinion. Although this is ridiculously good, I can be pretty easily satisfied with just 1-2 squares--a quantity that I was NEVER happy about with a plain candy bar. One of my real-food friends and I think it's because it's actually satisfying a nutritional need, not just making a sugar fix. 

Joy Bars

1 c. Coconut oil
2 c. Shredded UNSWEETENED coconut (we tried regular sweetened good)
1/4 c. Honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp (or less!) sea salt
8 oz dark chocolate 
25 whole almonds, preferably soaked/dehydrated

1. Melt the coconut oil over low heat until liquid. Add to shredded coconut, honey, salt, and vanilla. Stir well to combine.
2. Press the coconut mixture into an 8x8 pan. Place in the fridge to cool,
3. Melt the dark chocolate and spread over the hardened coconut mix. Top with the almonds in a 5x5 pattern (for serving sizes!). Let chill in the fridge or cool on the counter (depending on patience level and the weather!).
4.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

This recipe was shared on the Prairie Homestead Barn Hop