Monday, January 30, 2012

Move over Martha..we are reinventing the wheel!

My big goal for 2012 is to bring our food spending under control. It never fails, every month I go over my allotted amount causing us to spiral out of control and ending up borrowing from Paul to pay Peter it seems!

I have been taking a hard look at my freezer purchases. I hate paying $5 for a jumbo bag of tots. My kiddo's love them but I refuse to pay the ransom anymore!!!! So, I am on a mission. I am going to reinvent the wheel if I must starting with an all time family favorite, the tots.

These babies will defiantly be making my menu rotation for breakfast, lunch and dinner! No not every meal everyday! My kids gobbled these puppies up so fast there was barely anytime to take a photo. I think my job here is done. 

May your table be bountiful with savings! ~blair

1 cup quinoa flakes 
1/4 cup golden flax meal 
canola oil1/3 cup finely chopped sweet onion 
4 sweet potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled
1 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt, plus more
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper

* to bump up the flavor you could add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine quinoa flakes and flax meal in a bowl; set aside. Place skillet over medium heat. Sparingly coat pan with oil. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Transfer onion to a bowl; set aside. Wipe out to use later. 

Using your food processor, finely grate potatoes to make 4 cups. Transfer to a colander and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. salt. Massage salt into potatoes and squeeze out the excess liquid. In a medium bowl; add egg to potatoes and mix well. Add onion, garlic powder; season lightly with salt and pepper. The mixture should resemble a potato pancake mix but be on the dry side. Using your hands, form potato mixture into 1" balls. 

Roll potato balls in quinoa flake mixture. Heat skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat pan with oil. Working in batches, cook balls, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer tots to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes. 

** Note**
These tots freeze well. Make ahead, but skip the final step. Place tots on a cookie sheet and flash freeze. I do not like to use freezer bags or anything plastic BUT that seems to be the best way to freeze. Bring Tots to room temperature before placing in skillet to avoid being splattered with oil. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mason Jars...not just for canning anymore

Mason Jar centerpieces
I am uncertain what the attraction is but I LOVE mason jars! They are versatile, fun and frugal.  We use them as drinking glasses, storage containers, and vases to name a few. 

On Pinterest I found another  awesome dish I want to share. Amberlee at Giverslog is the orgininator of the idea but these are my recipes. My daughter Emily thought I had lost my mind when I set the table last night. She thought it was a lot of fun to eat dinner from a jar! My husband thought I was "brilliant" to pack his dinner. He had no clue I had baked it all together til Emily told him. Sorry no photo my camera battery died :/ so I borrowed Amberlee's photo's. I feel certain there will be more posts of mason jar meals!
May your table be bountiful of mason jars!~blair
Chili and Corn Bread Jars

3 cans of stewed tomatoes with juice
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed
1 can of pinto beans, rinsed
1 can of white kidney beans, rinsed
1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 red pepper diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 pound of ground meat (turkey, chicken or beef)
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp thyme
1/4 tsp chili powder *adjust according to how much heat you like
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked chipolette

Saute onions, garlic til soft and tender. Add meat season to taste, cooking till crumbly and brown. Drain immediately of all grease. Place on a paper towel doubled over and drain any remaining fat.

Meanwhile place all canned ingredients into a large stock pot including seasons on medium heat until contents begin to barely bubble on side of pan. Turn down heat, simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add meat mixture and simmer for 15 mins.

Preheat oven to 400 degree F
1 C white rice flour
2/3 C stone-ground cornmeal * I grind by cornmeal a little finer. My family does not like the texture.
2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C PLUS 1 tbsp earth balance (divided)
2 beat eggs
1 C almond milk (reserve 1/4 C of almond milk to rinse out magic bullet after pureed corn!)
1 can of whole kernel corn

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium size bowl and set aside.
Puree corn in magic bullet to desired consistency. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, pureed corn, milk and melted earth balance. Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients stirring until just moistened. If it is too thin sprinkle a pinch or two of cornmeal until desired consistency.

Spoon chili into a wide mouth mason jar1/2 full. spoon 1/2 C of cornbread mix on top chili. Bake 15-20 minutes on a baking sheet. Insert knife to check if done.
Serve with a honey infused earth balance.

* to prevent sticking spray jar with with non-stick spray.


Friday, January 20, 2012

French Toast Muffins

Snow Buds waiting for hot muffins.

Did you know Seattle averages 4.5 inches of snow a year? This is now day 5 of snow and we have a little over a foot of the white stuff! We are loving every minute of it with the EXCEPTION for the fact that I am now out of Udi bread to make sammies for the kids and french toast.

I think I might have mentioned before that I have a set daily menu for each meal. It is my minimalist approach to meal planning. Today's breakfast menu is french toast, our youngest daughter Emily's favorite. Did I mention Emily reallllly does not like it if I stray from the said menu? What to do, what to do?

While the kids were outside dragging each other through the snow playing, I spent hours my time wisely on pinterest. The most awesome black hole site on the internet! If you have not checked it out go, right now and do so. I will wait for you right here. So anywhoo, while recently discovering about 100 new recipes to try, I ran across the gem french toast muffins. Thank you Ann at Velvet Lava.
This is the stuff goodness is made from!
And on a side note: My wonderful sister-in-law Sherry sends us maple syrup from her husband's family farm in Vermont. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this syrup. We use it so sparingly to make it last as long as humanly possible and refer to it as liquid gold! I served some of our awesome maple syrup on the side, cause goodness knows there is not enough sugar already in these muffins! Seriously, using the syrup took them to a whole new level! YUMMIE

**The french toast muffin recipe originally contained gluten and casein. I altered it to become gluten and dairy free. The original recipe was nut free but I could not serve french toast anything without pecans. :0)

Photo from Velvet Lava 
Hope these find their way onto your bountiful table~ Blair

French Toast Muffins

1/3 C Earth Balance, melted
1/2 C sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 C GF flour mix
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 C Almond Milk
1 1/2 tsp xanthum gum

1/2 C sugar
1/2 C Earth Balance, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 - 1 C of chopped pecans *optional (We LOVE pecans so the more the merrier)

It is VERY important to read your recipe thoroughly before attempting. I mistakenly mixed all the topping ingredients together rather than setting aside the melted Earth Balance ! OOPS! Still yummy according to the girls.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a medium-large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir until combined, but still a bit lumpy. Be careful, do not over mix. Scoop batter into lightly greased muffin tin. I used a medium size ice cream scoop to get 12 muffins. I did not fill them as large as I usually do so I could get 12. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until they are lightly gold brown.

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bow. Place melted Earth Balance into another small bowl. Dip the
warm muffins in melted earth balance then roll in sugar/cinnamon. You could just dip the top of the muffin, but why?!

2 C white rice flour
2/3 C potato starch flour
1/3 C tapioca flour

To make 9 C of flour mix:
6 C white rice flour
2 C potato starch flour
1 C tapioca flour

In the past when making muffins or quick bread I have used brown rice flour rather than white rice. I have even thrown in brown rice flour to white rice flour to even out the measurement if I am running low to complete a recipe. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On a snowing winter day

Looking out my kitchen window to the back yard.

Winter has come to the Pacific Northwest. Snow is gently falling, there is fire roaring in the fireplace, and kids are all worn out from playing outside. There is barely a skiff of snow but that does not deter them!
Sheer joy!
Daddy would not come out to play in the snow. So they created Snow Daddy!

Joseph loves to watch the snow! 

This morning I was thinking about how this same weekend several years ago we had gone to the farm to spend MLK weekend. While there over a 18 inches of snow fell in 2 days! Needless to say we were a bit snowed in. We actually had to hire a local farmer to dig us out and clear the road so that we could get back to Charleston so Jeff could go to work. :0(

Our kids love the farm for so many reasons, staying outside from sun up to sun down or they are frost bit; and spending tons of family time together working puzzles, playing games and cooking. My favorite thing about the farm is the fact that we are off the grid. No tv, computers and our cell phone is for emergencies only. I take naps, read, take bubble baths or long hot showers and cook my brains out!
One of our favorite comfort foods is corn pudding. I do not make it as often as I should. Why? I have no clue! It is so easy and I always have the ingredients on hand. The origin of this recipe came from my Grandma. I have seen numerous alternatives recipes that use cream cheese, cream, with the list going on. I do change it up occasionally adding red peppers and a dash of chili pepper but honestly I love the simplicity. Everyone always fusses about who has the claim on the crusty rim of the dish. A sign that they like it! next time I plan to serve in ramkins. That way everyone gets the yummy crust! :0)
When Heather is home from school I try to make as many of her favorites as I can. One of her requests this time around was for corn pudding. She asked that it not to be serve with Christmas Eve, Christmas or New Years dinners but to make on a non special dinner night. Her sweet request was, "let's make the corn pudding the specialness of the meal". Before she headed back to Grad School she asked for the recipe but I forgot to give it to her. So Heather, this one is for you honey! XoXoXoXo
May your table always be bountiful of friends, family and wonderful memories. ~blair

Corn Pudding
2 Cans of whole kernel corn or sloppy corn (**creamed corn)
                 or equal amount of fresh or frozen
2 eggs
4 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp flour heaping (brown rice or white)

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Grease a 8X8 Pyrex with Earth Balance.
Place 1 can of corn in magic bullet with 1 egg mix, repeat with other can and egg. Pour into Pyrex after mixing. Gently stir in sugar, salt and flour. Dot the the top with Earth Balance generously. bake for 1 hour.

** make sure you check the label for gluten and casein.