My son loves smoothies, this is my super simple go-to blend when I need a meal for him in a minute.
When I was pregnant I always assumed that I would just feed my son exactly what we had for meals. I consider this about 70% true, but what about the other 30%? The days we eat steak, or a big … Continue reading
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Bear with me, I know that making your own almond milk sounds a little “ain’t nobody got time for that.” I promise that with the right tools, making your own almond milk is quick, easy and so delicious. Bonus is that there is no waste and you know every single thing in your milk.
First up is the tools.
You need a blender and a nut milk bag. (Yes, I giggle every time I say nut milk bag because I am a 13 year old boy trapped inside a 32 year old woman.) While I am sure a fancy high speed blender makes this job super easy, I have used both my (now died of old age) magic bullet blender and now my Cuisinart. I purchased my bag at a local health food store, or it can be found on Amazon. You could substitute cheesecloth, but this bag is worth every bit of the $10 I paid for it because it is easy to use and clean.
Now, lets get nutty!
For this recipe I am using some whole, raw unpasteurized almonds that are imported from Italy. I picked them up at a local health food store. There is a lot of current controversy about “raw” almonds grown in the USA right now. All US grown almonds must be pasteurized using either steam or a chemical process, but they are all listed as raw. For me, I’m trying to stay away from added chemicals so I picked up these imported almonds. I have more research to do to find out what brands use which method, because I like to buy homegrown products. If anybody knows a good source for this information I would love to hear from you!
Soak your almonds
I add about 1 cup of raw almonds to a quart size canning jar and fill with water. I have no idea if this should sit at room temp or in the fridge, so I opt for the fridge (side note: I also store all my nuts in the fridge to help keep them fresh) The water soak will help plump up the almonds and get them ready to blend.
After an overnight soak, rinse and drain the almonds. Add the rinsed almonds to your blender with 3-4 cups of fresh water. Blend blend blend. How long will depend on your blender. I probably do about 2 minutes total. Once I can see that all the almond bits are tiny and my blender doesn’t sound like it is chopping anything anymore.
Now you will pour the contents of your blender through the nut milk bag. I use a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup for this and it works perfectly. Drain all the liquid out of the bag by squeezing. I’ve never milked a cow but I imagine the process is somewhat similar. Make sure you squeeze all the liquid out, the creamiest milk is in those last few squeezes.
I pour the milk into a quart size canning jar for storage. There will be some settling as it sits in the fridge so be sure to shake it gently before pouring a glass.
What will you add?
I use my almond milk pretty exclusively for smoothies so I don’t add any sweeteners or flavors. Your imagination is your only limit for what you could add. Try different nuts, add some coconut, maybe some vanilla or dates.
What about the leftovers?
You will be left with some almond pulp in your bag. This is basically wet almond meal. You could use it in muffins or granola. There are tons of Paleo recipes on the internet that call for almond meal. You can dry it for a few hours in your oven on the lowest setting and store it in the freezer. I always err on the side of caution for food safety which is why even after drying I suggest the freezer.
I’ve been a busy girl this week! I have been elbows deep in strawberries whenever local toddler lets me. I bought a flat of strawberries from Prochaska Farm at the Canton Farmers Market on Sunday. I just finished up turning the entire flat into freezer jam.
Why freezer jam? A few reasons. The first, is the taste. Preserved shelf stable jam is very tasty, but to me, freezer jam tastes just like fresh berries. Secondly, it is much faster and easier. You don’t have to get the canner going and deal with preserving the jars after you prepare the jam. I can make freezer jam alone while wrangling a toddler (although I aim for nap time). I do not attempt to can things alone usually. I try to wait until I have help with either the canning or the toddler. It’s convenient to be able to make freezer jam alone, either when my kiddo is napping or mostly this week I made it while he was watching some cartoons. (Yes I limit screen time, but some well placed Sesame Street works wonders in actually accomplishing things)
Enough with the chit-chat. Let me get to the reason you are reading!
Low Sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam
- One box Sure Jell low sugar pectin (pink box)
- 3 cups sugar (I prefer the Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Sugar)
- 1 cup water
- 4 cups crushed strawberries (approximately 2 quarts of fresh berries)
The Sure Jell pectin comes with directions in the package, always check those to be sure that you are following the correct directions. I will break down the steps here so you can see just how easy it is!
Assemble all the components
Large pot and spoon for cooking the pectin mixture, canning funnel and ladle, measuring cups, bowl and potato masher for crushing berries
Mix pectin and sugar well in large pot, set aside. Clean, de-stem and crush berries, approximately one cup at a time.
Add water to pectin mixture, heat over medium-high heat while stirring constantly. Once pectin mixture reaches a boil, continue to boil and stir constantly for one full minute. Remove from heat, stir in crushed berries and stir until well combined.
Pour mixture into jars leaving a half inch of headspace(I usually use a mixture of pints and half pints) Place lids and bands and let cool for up to 24 hours on counter and then place into freezer for up to one year.
One batch of jam will yield approximately 4 pints, or 8 half pints.
If you are anything like me, I always keep a stash of quick food in my freezer. Things like chicken nuggets, I would buy a Costco size bag and always have a quick protein source ready. While most of the “better” brands don’t have too many creepy additives, I like to know that I’m getting local happy chicken. These things are awesome! I make several pounds at a time, and then I always have a meal that takes 15 minutres.
These are relatively simple to prepare, but a little time consuming. For the time reason, I do several pounds at a time. Time well spent if I can make a ton of meals at once!
First things first, in order to make breaded items, you need to know about “Wet hand, dry hand.” Breading with this method is exactly what it sounds like. One hand will be in the dry ingredients, and one will be in the wet. This prevents the dreaded “glove hand” of layers of breading and goo. Here are the steps:
- With your left hand; select a piece of chicken, and coat with the flour mixture. Leave chicken in flour.
- With right hand, pick up chicken from the flour and dunk into the egg mixture. Still using right hand, remove chicken and place into the breadcrumb mix without touching crumbs with your hand.
- With left hand, liberally coat chicken with breadcrumb mixture
Ok, now that we know how to bread, on to the recipe!
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I usually do 2-3lbs at a time)
- 1 1/2 c Flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4c milk
- 1c bread crumbs (I get some from a local bakery for super cheap!)
- 1c Panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- salt and pepper to taste
Set up your station:
I have the best results with two bowls and a deep plate (similar to a pie plate)
Bowl #1: flour and salt & pepper
Bowl #2: eggs, beaten and milk
Dish #3: both types of bread crumbs and seasoned salt
- Cut the chicken into desired size and shape.
- Follow “Wet hand, dry hand” breading instructions
- Place breaded chicken strips on a foil covered and greased baking sheet
- Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, turn halfway through baking
To make freezer nuggets:
- Follow all directions above and then let chicken cool completely after baking.
- Freeze and place strips into a zip top bag.
- To bake from frozen (don’t thaw) just place on greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.
Sounds a little “out there”, right? Making your own crackers? It’s actually not difficult! If you have a food processor it will take you no time at all. I don’t have a food processor, and I still make these quite often.
Now for the “why?” Why should you make your own? My boys think they are delicious, and let’s take a peek at the ingredient label for Cheez Its
ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN AND PALM OIL WITH TBHQ FOR FRESHNESS), CHEESE MADE WITH SKIM MILK (SKIM MILK, WHEY PROTEIN, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES, ANNATTO EXTRACT FOR COLOR), CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF SALT, PAPRIKA, YEAST, PAPRIKA OLEORESIN FOR COLOR, SOY LECITHIN.
Now, of all the processed food in the world, this isn’t that bad. There are only a few questionable ingredients (like some tasty TBHQ). In our quest to stay away from the supermarket, I decided to try out making our own crackers (especially for local toddler, who was really into goldfish crackers). I adapted this recipe from Tasty Kitchen. If you want to learn how to make them adorable and fish shaped, check out that link. If you want to see the quick and easy way, I will show you how they get made in the Real Food kitchen.
Let’s get cooking!
- 8 ounces Shredded Cheese
- 4 Tbsp Butter, cut into cubes
- 1 cup Flour
- Salt for sprinkling
- 2-3 Tbsp Cold water
First, shred the cheese. I usually buy blocks of cheese, but if you have shredded you get to skip this step.
If you have a food processor, you will pulse together the cheese, butter and flour together until the mixture looks like coarse sand. If you don’t have a food processor (like me), get out your handy pastry blender and get to work.
Add in water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Remove dough from the food processor, wrap in plastic, and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes. (For you bakers out there, you are basically making a pie crust recipe.)
Roll out the dough and cut into desired shapes.
Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until crispy.
- Roll the dough as thin as possible for a crispy cracker (more like a Cheez It or goldfish cracker).
- Slightly thicker dough will produce a more chewy cracker (my boys like them puffy and chewy).
- If you are making these for someone else because you can’t eat them because of a dairy allergy, do so on a full stomach because the temptation to grab a handful will be almost too much. Not that I know this personally…
One of my Costco weaknesses is always the rotisserie chickens. It’s $5 and makes at least two meals in our house. I have no idea where the chickens they use come from, or if they are local. I also can’t run to Costco every time I want to make a quick chicken dinner. So, lets learn how to make a rotisserie style chicken in the slow cooker.
I get whole chickens from Pure Pastures and cook them in my big crock pot. You can just lay a whole washed bird in the slow cooker with no liquid, set it for 8 hours on low and it will make falling-off-the-bone chicken. But if you want something closer to a rotisserie style, I will let you in on the secret.
That is the only difference!
Let’s get cooking!
- Wash and pat dry your chicken
- Coat your birdie with some olive oil, and then with a rub of your choice. (I just use some Montreal Steak seasoning and some paprika.)
- Make some foil balls and lay them on the bottom of your slow cooker (for my big oval pot, I use about ten balls with a one inch diameter)
- Place your massaged birdie on top of the foil
That’s it! You don’t have to add any liquid or anything. It won’t be crispy like a rotisserie, due to lack of big pretty flames, but it will be super tasty.
I’m a pretty lazy person. Sometimes making dinner sounds like too much work, I eventually get off my booty and do it, but sometimes you want some convenience. Today’s Homemade Convenience item is Taco Seasoning. Sure, you can walk into the local supermarket and peruse the 987 aisles and find 12 different little packets for taco seasoning. You probably even have a coupon. But, I am here to tell you that if you have a decent spice rack, you can make your own at home that tastes a whole lot better and no strange additives.
Did you know they put weird stuff in those little packets? Plus they get vague on the ingredients. Here is the label of one brand, let’s call them Mcnotcormick:
SPICES (INCLUDING CHILI PEPPER, CUMIN, PAPRIKA, OREGANO), ONION, WHEY (MILK), SALT, SUGAR, GARLIC, POTATO STARCH, AND CITRIC ACID.
Here is another, we can call them Notortega:
Yellow Corn Flour, Salt, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor, Caramel Color (sulfites).
Nothing says authentic Mexican cuisine like some “natural flavor” and caramel color!
How easy is it to make your own? Grab your spice rack, some small jars (I use 4oz canning jars, or glass baby food jars) and some measuring spoons. It will take you about five minutes.
- 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne (adjust to your desired spicy taste)
- 1/4 tsp Oregano
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1 and 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
Dump ingredients in jar.
I usually make four or five at a time. Use just as you would one of those little packets. For ground beef tacos, I will drain the beef after cooking, add one whole jar of seasoning, about a half cup of water, and simmer until water is absorbed.
I highly recommend using your seasoning to make Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos.
Disclaimers: I have been making this forever. I’m sure I found a base recipe somewhere, but I have no idea where.
Up until recently, I didn’t know that you could make granola bars at home. I guess I never gave it a second thought, You go to the supermarket and there are like 9 million choices, seems like there is a granola bar for every taste. So, I made the decision to see if I could make my own. Hop on Pinterest or Google, and there are a million recipes. Since I’m incapable of following recipes, I find one and tweak it until I like it. I will probably do more posts with other styles and flavors, but this one is the current favorite in our house.
I based this recipe on this one from Lauren’s Latest.
Gather your ingredients:
- 1/4c butter
- 1/4c honey (I will never measure honey, I hate dishes. I just eyeball it)
- 1/3c brown sugar
- 1/4 c Peanut butter. (again with the no measuring. I’m a bad cook for this reason. We like PB, so I probably use more than 1/4)
- 2c quick cooking oats
- 1c puffed rice cereal (or Rice Krispies)
- add ins. I like mini chocolate chips, coconut, and slivered almonds. Hubby likes dried cherries and slivered almonds. One of the beauties of making things at home is you can add anything you like.
Let’s get cooking!
In a medium bowl, add together the oats, rice cereal, and your add ins (except chocolate, I recommend not adding chocolate until the bars are made and pressing them in. Heat + chocolate = not a cute bar.) Set aside
In a small pot, melt together the butter, honey, brown sugar and peanut butter until bubbly. Reduce the heat and cook (stir like crazy) for two minutes.
Pour your gooey mixture into the bowl with the oat mixture and quickly mix the ingredients. I usually start with a spoon and end up using my hands. Work quickly before it sets up, and don’t burn yourself.
Once mixed, form the bars by spreading the mix out on a cookie sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper. Press down the mixture firmly and you will have one big sheet of delicious. If you want to add chocolate, this is the best time, just sprinkle the chips and press them down. You will get some melting, I encourage licking your hands. Let it cool for a few hours.
Once cool, cut into bars. A pizza wheel cutter is perfect for this job, but any knife will work.
I’m cheap I love to recycle, so I cut the used parchment into rectangles and wrap the bars individually in the parchment. I then wrap in foil to maintain freshness. Plus my husband is a mechanic, and takes these to work. Layers of protection to protect them from shop grime.