Saturday, November 22, 2008


Or, as they're now known around here, "Pizzas with Hats" or also just "Hats." Mexican food wasn't often on the menu around here growing up, especially not anything more than the standard hard-shell tacos. I'm quite embarrassed to admit that in my now 31 years of living, tonight was the first time I had made quesadillas! AND THEY'RE SO EASY TO MAKE!!!
I won't list a recipe here, but I will give you the link to where I found the recipe I used. It is a wonderful recipe and very easy to follow:

Some hints I will share that made this easier for a newbie:
1) I did use a cast-iron skillet. If you don't have one, do yourself a favor and go get one (
2) Have your ingredients ready. Just like you see on cooking shows, we mixed up our beans & corn ahead of time and had them in a bowl, ready to add when needed. Justin wanted freshly picked hot peppers (courtesy of Shannon) and onions in his, so he chopped them up and had them ready when I was ready for them. This saves a lot of "oh crap!" moments.
3) Do let them cool for a minute before eating. This not only saves on "shit, that's hot!" but also gives the ingredients a moment to set.
4) Don't be afraid of adding fun ingredients and spices!
5) Definitely have some "dippers" ready. Tonight we just used sour cream, but even the kids demanded they're own.
6) Don't think this is a hard dish to make. Like I said, I'm horrified that I have waited this long to make them. They are so much better, as most dishes are, when homemade. Even little kids like them, as they're nice and finger friendly!

Tristan & Shannon, who were very happy to get "Hats" for dinner & each gobbled it right up!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Homemade Chicken Stock

I can't imagine actually buying chicken broth anymore, much less ever thinking anything store bought was good!! I was absolutely AMAZED to find out how easy it is to make and so have to share:
~Chicken Carcass (leftover bones, meat, this is especially easy after you've had a roast chicken)
~Leftover scraps of celery, garlic, onions, carrots, and herbs (I've even added potatoes).
Put all of these together in a large stock-pot, fill with water, bring to boil, then turn it back and let it simmer. I usually let it simmer most of the day. Once done, I drain off the stock and begin either freezing it or getting it ready for canning.
Obviously it is a ridiculously simple recipe. The amount of "scraps" I use depends on how much chicken is in there as well. More chicken carcass = more veggie scraps. In the photo you can see the peel of an onion resting on the spoon and also a celery stalk. What you can also see is the beautiful golden drops of fat.
The chicken in this stock is one of our Speckled Sussexes. It was raised naturally and "on pasture" (also known as our backyard). The fat in this chicken is high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is known for, among other things, being an immunity booster. It is an anti-oxidant with anti-cancer properties and also can help reduce body fat. Here is a great link for more info on CLAs:
SO, this is the reason chicken broth and chicken soup are so good for you! It is easy to make, helps find new use for leftovers or scraps that would've otherwise gone to waste, and it boosts the nutritional content of whatever you use it in.
Here are some ideas for uses:
1)In place of water in such dishes as grits and rice, and even mashed potatoes!
2)As a broth on it's own ~ great for cold days, or colds in general!
3)The classic chicken noodle soup: just cook up some noodles in it and add some fresh veggies and chicken!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Zucchini Bread Recipe

This is one of my most-requested recipes once people try this delicious and amazingly moist Zucchini Bread!

Zucchini Bread

2 1/2 cups sugar (as usual, I use turbinado)
3 cups all-purpose flour (Iuse whole wheat, or a natural white/wheat blend that we get locally)
1 cup oil (I use olive oil)
3 eggs
3 TB vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1 cup nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

-Set oven at 350 degrees; Combine all ingredients and pour into greased pans (this makes wonderful muffins, small bread loaves, as well as regular size loaves). Cook till done. Cooking time will vary based on type of pan you used. Begin checking muffins & small loaves between 20 and 30 mins.
-Fun Tip: grate up extra zucchini during the summer, portion out 2 cups worth into a ziploc baggies & freeze, labeling well. This way you can make zucchini bread in the winter time as well!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix

This recipe is one of my standard gifts at Christmas-time. It is wonderfully simple to make, stores seemingly forever (though it never lasts long enough around here to go bad!), and can be tailored to your own tastes.

Hot Cocoa Mix

2 cups nondairy coffee creamer
1 1/2 cups sugar (we use turbinado, and it works perfectly)
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 tsp salt

-Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use 2 TB per serving. Yield is about 36 servings. (We use more than 2 TB per serving, this is per individual taste)
-From Southern Living's 1981 Annual Recipes Book, page 287

We began using organic cocoa powder after reading how many pesticides are used on conventionally grown cocoa beans (a LOT!), and let me tell you .. GO ORGANIC!!! WOW!!! The difference in using organic cocoa vs. non-organic is night and day, and the taste is orgasmic! Now, I know this isn't the greenest of ingredients, but it is a fun way to personalize the cocoa: using flavored powdered creamers. In our last batch I used a Vanilla Caramel creamer. Yummy!