Monthly Archives: June 2013

So I have this amazing book…

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And I would like to give it to one of you.

Yeah, I’m doing a giveaway with a second hand item.

Bear with me here.

I really believe that books should be shared. Well, most books.

This is one of those “most books”. It’s called “Food Rules”, written by Michael Pollan. It’s a fabulous little read that details a common sense approach to eating in our modern world. We are so far away from how food was intended to be eaten, and I love his simple and rational explanations about it all.

It’s not a diet book.

It’s not a self help book.

It’s an inspiring little book about loving your body enough to feed it well.

No, its not a new copy. Yes, I already touched and read it. Consider it recycling. 🙂

I want to send it to someone, so if you are interested, please answer the question below then  head over HERE and enter to win it.   Just click the “giveaway” box. 🙂 If you are on a mobile device, use THIS LINK after you have answered the question.

Also, be sure to answer the following question in the comments below before entering on FB. This will allow you to claim the “Points” for the “answer a question” portion of the rafflecopter widgit on the facebook page: 

What is your favorite thing about your body? 

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Staying Hydrated…With FLAIR

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because that’s how I do things. Last week, you may remember me mentioning that I ordered primarily herbs in my CSA box. I put them to use in some pretty amazing ways.

Lemon balm pesto, purple basil pesto (OMG THE BEST EVER. I am working on a pizza recipe post) and I managed to stick some in a few delicious beverages. So grateful for such an amazing source of organic produce!

I know I already told you about mint tea, so here are a couple ideas for making infused waters. Haven’t tried infused waters yet? Take a look here. Mind you, this is only a guideline, but the idea is:

infusedwaters

Pick a berry (or other sweet fruit), pick a citrus, add an herb and/or something “extra” such as cucumbers (not in my cup!)  and add your favorite water. Not only are you drinking your H2O, but you are managing to get some extra vitamins and antioxidants into your system as well. Here are two that I came up with after being inspired by the lovely stuff in my box. Lemon and Lavender Water:

lemonlavendar

One sliced lemon and 2 TBSP of lavender buds (about 6 sprigs of lavender for me), added to about 2 cups of hot water, steeped for 20 minutes, then filled with water and refrigerated until cold. I really loved the subtle sweetness of this. My husband said “It tastes like bath water…in a good way.” I’m not sure what that means, but it was too funny to keep to myself. I am sure it threw him off because I use so many lavender products. It has a very nice herbal and slightly floral thing going for it. Refreshing and elegant, I thought. Strawberries would have be delightful in this, I’m sure.

Purple basil, blueberry, lemon:

basilblueberrylemon

In a half gallon container, I added 1/2 of a sliced lemon, 1/2 cup blueberries and a handful of purple basil leaves. I then added about 2 cups of hot water, and let everything steep for about 20 minutes. I then filled it with cold water and capped it up for the fridge.

This has been my favorite so far! It was bold and different in every good way possible. I love, love loved this one. I was inspired by a cocktail my brother made for me once. Fresh squeezed lemonaid, muddled blueberries and a sprig of basil…oh, and vodka. Definitely a more exciting way to enjoy these flavors, but certainly not as health conscious as my concoction. 🙂

Italian or Thai basil would be just as delicious I am sure!

I’m working on a few other combinations and will pass them on if they pass inspection. 😉

In the meantime, try out some fun combinations of your own. You deserve water as fabulous as you are. 🙂

Gluten Free Fried Chicken

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Fried chicken. It’s pretty amazing stuff, right?

Unless you’re a vegetarian/vegan, in which case, you would not agree with me.

Or if you hate chicken.

Or if you hate fried food.

Hopefully my clear and detailed blog post title will weed out anyone with those preferences this time because this post is nothing short of decadent, deep fried goodness.

I am unapologetic.

There are a few tricks to preparing a good quality, deliciously crisp and juicy piece of fried chicken. Let’s go over them, shall we?

1.) Select a good quality chicken. Delicious fried chicken will never come from a crappy piece of raw chicken. Ever.

2.) Soak it in spices and/or a fermented dairy product. I decided last minute to skip the soaking process, and it showed. Soak it in buttermilk, or better yet, plain, (preferably raw) kefir. Water is fine, however, if you are off dairy. Soak with simple spices. We’ll get to that.

3.) You really don’t need white flour.

4.) Don’t use crappy vegetable/corn/”Monsanto” oils. Ever. For Anything.  HERE’S WHY.

5.) Use cast iron or coated cast iron to cook it. Preferrably a dutch oven style with a lid.

Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures, but it was such an easy process that I am sure you can handle this. 🙂

Start with a good selection of chicken. I only did legs last night, because Grocery Outlet (The NW Fresno one, for locals) had organic, free range chicken legs for 2.39 per lb.  Awesome deal. I love that store.

Take some buttermilk or kefir (just enough to cover your amount of chicken) and add:

1 tsp each:

sea salt

pepper

paprika (this is how it turns a pretty golden color)

cayenne pepper

Let it soak for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to cook, take your chicken out and use your hands to strip excess liquid off of each piece. Just wipe each piece with your hand so that they are not dripping. Set aside on a plate. Wash your hands (Eww, raw chicken, I know) and prepare your flour. I use a combo of Trader Joe’s gluten free flour:

tjgfflourand brown rice flour. For 12 chicken legs last night, I used one cup of each.

Season the flour with the same spices you used for the chicken, using 1/2 tsp of each. Dredge your chicken in the flour mixture, and set on a plate.

The trick to using gluten free flours for frying chicken is simple:

Leave it alone for a while after you dredge it. It needs to form a sort of paste as the flour soaks up the buttermilk or kefir. Oh, by the way, if you are dairy free, season the chicken as I stated earlier, skipping the dairy and using a bit of water to make the spices stick. You don’t need to cover the chicken as you do w/the dairy. Just use enough water to make it so that the spices stick to the bird. As long as the chicken is damp when you dredge it, you will not have a problem.

Once the coating on your chicken has become a bit wet and sticky, it is ready for frying. I find that it takes about an hour for the best results.

When you are ready to fry, prepare your oil. I used a combo of refined coconut oil and sunflower oil last night. I typically don’t use sunflower oil, but I didn’t have enough refined coconut oil and didn’t want to use unrefined and have it all taste like a tropical paradise.

You want about 2 inches of oil in your skillet or dutch oven. Please, please, please, do not use teflon for this. Heat your oil over medium heat until it reaches between 350-375 degrees (or so I have been told.) Confession: I never check the temp. When I sprinkle some flour over the oil, and it sizzles, that’s how I figure its ready to fry.

Precise, I am. 😛

Put a few pieces of chicken into the oil. Some of the flour will come off, yes, but all purpose does that too. Let it fry, making sure that its really *frying* with a good sizzle going. If the oil is not hot enough, it won’t get to sizzling right away and you will lose your coating in the oil. Put the lid on if you are using a dutch oven style pot. Leave it alone for about 10 minutes.

Come back, check the chicken, and turn it on the other side for another ten minutes.

Repeat this one more time, cooking for another ten or so minutes on the first side again. It really does take about 25-30 minutes for the legs to cook all the way through. The best way to tell your chicken is done? (Aside from a meat thermometer of course, which is probably the best, and most food-safety-appropriate way) The sizzling slows WAY down. You will hear your chicken start to go silent when its done. I always leave the lid off for the third rotation so I can “hear when it’s done.”

Use a meat thermometer if you are not sure.

If your chicken is browning too quickly, the heat is too high. Turn it down a bit. Cast iron does a great job of absorbing and maintaining even heat…sometimes too good. I find that by the middle of my 2nd batch, I have to turn the heat down. Pay attention and use common sense. 🙂

When they are done, pull them out CAREFULLY, and place them on a cooling rack placed over a plate to drain. Season with sea salt while they are hot. Serve with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, fried okra and greens in a perfect world. In my (mostly) grain free, potato free, gravy free, fried okra free world, you serve them with roasted eggplant & heirloom tomatoes with lemon balm pesto:

friedchickeneggplant

It’s still not potatoes. Funny thing.

What do you eat YOUR fried chicken with? Besides a big smile, that is….

Herbs and Eggplant and Tomatoes, Oh My!

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Alternatively titled: “How to cram a ton of veggies onto your plate making you feel less guilty for eating fried chicken.”

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So in my CSA box this week, I went heavy on the herbs. Herbs are not only so good for you in so many ways, but they are very inspiring in the kitchen.

Here’s what came in this week’s box from “The Farmer’s Daughter CSA.” 

2 bundles of lemon balm

4 bundles of purple basil

2 bundles of lavender

2 vidalia onions

2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes

4 medium sized eggplant

Lemon balm is my new favorite obsession. The stuff smells like lemon drop candy, you guys. It is AMAZING. I made some mint/lemon-balm tea this weekend and it was fab. If I was eating sugar right now, it would have made some amazing mint/lemon-balm lemon-aid. Also, it is good for you, in so many ways. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I was very happy to see this from http://www.naturalsociety.com:

lemonbalm infographic

Here is how a ton of it ended up on our dinner plates last night:

1.) Lemon balm pesto. Yes, even with all that basil, I still chose an unconventional pesto approach.

It’s SUPER.EASY.

Start with this:

2 cups Lemon balm leaves

3-4 heirloom tomatoes or 1 jar stewed tomatoes

1 vidalia onion

4 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp. sea salt, pepper to taste

lemonbalmingredients

*Take the leaves from two bundles of lemon balm (about two cups), put them in a food processor

*Add four heirloom tomatoes, quartered and seeded.

*Toss in one vidalia onion, quartered.

*Add four garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp sea salt, pinch of pepper

Puree.

lemonbalmpesto

Once all ingredients are smooth and combined, add 1/2 cup olive oil through your food processor cap. This can be done in a blender too. 🙂

lemonbalmpesto2

You can eat it raw, (with crusty bread, or over fresh mozzarella cheese maybe?) or cook it down to reduce and make a pasta sauce out of it.  (30 minutes at a simmer until some of the liquid evaporates.) I reduced it, added about 1/2 tsp of arrowroot to thicken it, and threw it in the fridge until dinner time. Of course, we are not eating pasta right now, so we put ours over some awesome roasted eggplant and tomatoes. 🙂 No lie though, I pretended it was pasta.

“Roasted eggplant and tomatoes?  Who needs pasta?”,  you say?

Exactly! By now you have probably caught on that I am pretty determined to figure out eggplant.

Here’s how I made another step towards mastering the art of eggplant preparation:

Gather ingredients.

Heirloom tomatoes (you decide how many, I used one large tomato)

Eggplant (I used two small/medium ones)

1/4 cup basil leaves (I used purple)

A couple of sliced garlic cloves

Pinch of sea salt and pepper

2 TBSP (or so) of olive oil.

roastedeggplant1

The rest is very easy.

*Slice eggplant in 1/4 in disks. Put into mixing bowl.

*Slice tomato the same. Add to bowl.

*Pull basil leaves off stem. Yep, add those too.

*Slice garlic, and throw it in…

*Sprinkle w/sea salt and pepper

*Drizzle with olive oil.

Toss.

Lay everything out over a parchment paper line cookie sheet.

eggplantsliced

Bake at 425* for 35-40 minutes.

We ate ours with reheated lemon balm pesto and *ahem* gluten free fried chicken. I will post that recipe separately so as not to taint all of this veggie goodness with our decadence.

friedchickeneggplant

Next time you go to Farmer’s Market or order your CSA box, try a new herb! It’s amazing how much your kitchen creativity expands when you stretch yourself. 🙂

Hey Good Lookin’ 6/19/13

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Easy dinner tonight! I have some awesome Boar’s Head roast beef that needs to be used, so sandwiches it is.

How I would love for them to be on toasted sourdough, but grain free pita it is! I have been using a good recipe lately but recently started to tweak it a little bit. Here is how I make them:

1/2 cup packed almond flour
2 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp bobs redmill baking soda
Pinch of salt
Two farm fresh eggs
3/4 cups water
2 tbsp melted grassfed butter

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  My 9 yr old helped. By “helped” I mean she made them herself. 🙂

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Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and spread about 6 inches around.

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You should get five to six pitas.

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes.

Here lately, I have been spreading the whole bowl of batter out evenly on a large cookie sheet, baking, and then cutting it into square “slices” because I find the pita doesn’t stuff well without tearing. Makes great sandwich bread though.

If you slice the round pita into triangles, drizzle with olive oil, and pop back into the oven for 5-7 minutes, you will have decent pita chips too. 🙂

Awesome for hummus, baba ganoush or other dips.

Tonight, we’ll use them for  roast beef, horseradish &  spicy brown mustard sandwiches with kale chips.

Eat thoughtfully guys…your body will thank you!

I love a good cocktail…

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I love me a vodka cran. My drink of choice. That said, since I have been trying to figure out my metabolic issues, I’ve been off the good stuff. I’m not a heavy drinker, mind you…but that occasional adult refreshment is sorely missed.

Instead, I have been drinking a different kind of cocktail. A Bragg’s apple cider vinegar cocktail spiked with honey and water.

acv cocktail

I know. I’m a rebel.

8 oz of water, 1 tsp raw organic honey, (dissolved in a bit of hot water first)  2 tsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, ice and a mason jar w/lid.

Serve shaken, not stirred.

There are a million reasons to use ACV.  Ok, maybe not a million. Here are 20 of them:

acv

If you are a kombucha drinker, this will be no big for you. Rather pleasant, perhaps. If you are not, this might cause your face to wrinkle up to the back of your head.  Add more honey if this is the case.

Check out http://www.bragg.com for more info and some really quirky information and products. 🙂