Tuscan Stew

TUSCAN STEW lgk

I think you are really going to like this recipe. It’s perfecto for clean eaters, vegans, Paleo peeps, and all herbivores and omnivores. Delicious. Nutrient-rich. Simple. The artichokes, olives and curry mix with the fresh herbs and chard resulting in a rich, uber-flavorful hearty meal.

TUSCAN STEW

Ingredients:

  • 1 qt stock (veggie or chicken recommended)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (drained and roughly chopped)
  • 1 medium onion (small dice)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 -1 can olives (drained)
  • 3 red potatoes (medium dice) — swap with about 1/2 of sweet potato (chopped) if you aren’t eating potatoes
  • 1/4 bunch chard (chopped fine, I use the food processor)
  • 1/4 cup total of fresh herbs (chopped fine, I use the food processor) — recommend some combination of oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, sage
  • 15-20 oz canned chopped tomatoes — depending on how tomato-ey you like your soups
  • 1t salt
  • 1t curry
  • 1T EVOO
  • 1 cup shredded/cubed baked chicken (OPTIONAL)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sauté onion and garlic in EVOO in a medium-sized pot until onions are translucent.
  2. Add in stock and the remainder of the ingredients.
  3. Simmer until the potatoes are soft if you are in a rush. Longer if you have more time (up to an hour or so.) This stew is even better as leftovers the following day, when all the flavors meld together beautifully.
  4. Taste before serving. Add a little more salt until it “sparkles.”
  5. Garnish with a touch of grated Parm cheese or a pinch of the fresh finely chopped herbs.

Enjoy!!

IMG_9354

The Easiest Real Food You’re Not Making… Yet! Homemade Yogurt

homemade yogurt

I’m going all-out-hippie-chick on the blog today, crew. And dragging you along with me. Homemade yogurt is your ticket to high quality, affordable organic probiotic goodness. And it is so easy!! You’ll thank me when you are scooping that first luscious, creamy bite of yogurt out of your crock pot.

Of all the “it-looks-like-a-health-food, but-it-is-not” propaganda circulating out there, it seems like most people have gotten the message on conventional yogurt. It is basically a processed dessert in a little container, whether you call it breakfast or kids afternoon snack or end of soccer game treat. Each container is filled with sugars, corn syrups, coloring agents, flavoring agents, stabilizers, and other unpleasantness.

But that’s only the stuff you’ll find in the conventional dairy section of your grocery store. If you travel over to the health food aisle or a natural foods store, you can find a whole other group of options, many of which are delicious and nutritious and made from organic cow milk that was not pumped up with terrible chemicals in horrible conditions and then flavored with man-made lab fluids. Big problem here for many of us – the good stuff is expensive. Like $8.00 for a quart expensive.

Now yogurt happens to be one of very few probiotic/fermented foods that my daughter will eat. In fact, she loves it and requests it regularly. So when I heard that it was simple to make, I knew this was my ticket to happy-daughter-gut-health-without-financial-hardship.

Then I proceeded to fail completely with my first batch. And learned the number one rule of yogurt making – know your milk. And now, by teaching you this one homemade yogurt secret, you will be able to make gorgeous yogurt for your family with success right from the beginning. You can’t use ultra-pasteurized milk. It’s dead and doesn’t work. Which probably makes complete sense to you, but I hadn’t even realized my milk was ultra-pasteurized. So a failed batch later I was researching to find my family a new milk source. Just proving that there is always a next step in your real food journey!

Recipe: Homemade Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 quart organic whole milk – pasteurized. NOT ultra-pasteurized. We are clear here, yes?
  • 1/4 cup of the highest quality purest yogurt you can get. This is the only time you are buying yogurt, because after this batch you can use the remaining 1/4 cup of your homemade yogurt to make the next batch! So go crazy and buy the beautiful whole organic plain (or Greek) yogurt. It’s a worthwhile investment!

Instructions

  1. Pour the milk into your crock pot and heat on low for 2 hours. * You want the milk to hit somewhere in the 180 – 190 degree range. Use a cooking or candy thermometer to confirm your crock pot’s timing.
  2. Turn crock pot off and leave the milk in it for 3 hours (lid on). You want the milk to cool to a temperature of about 110 degrees. This is the magical yogurt temperature.
  3. When 110 degrees is reached, add 1/4 cup yogurt and whisk it around to mix. Place crock pot (with lid) in your oven (not on!!) with the oven light on for 8-12ish hours (you can go up to 24 hours if you wish to have thicker and tarter yogurt). I also wrap a towel around the crock pot to help keep the temperature stable.  photo 1 photo 2
  4. Transfer yogurt to a container and store in the refrigerator. I use old quart sized yogurt containers and just write the date made on the lid. Mine last over two weeks in the refrigerator.
  5. You can strain it through cheese cloth for a few hours if you are looking for thicker Greek style yogurt, but I’m lazy and never do. It’s a lovely consistency without straining.

After you have successfully completed your first batch, I highly recommend doubling the second batch if your family goes through yogurt the way mine does. We consume about a quart a week, so I only need to make yogurt twice a month if I double it.

My yogurt works out to about $3.50 a quart (because I buy very high quality milk – it could be made much cheaper if you have a better source for milk). Much better than the $7-8 I had been paying. We use it as sour cream on tacos, as a base for dips and dressings and as a late night treat with maple syrup, pomegranate seeds and a little granola.
It also is fantastic as the base for our Kids Clean Up! Flavored Yogurt recipe.

 

My gift to all the new homemade yogurt makers out there: a Pinterest Board full of recipes that include… YOGURT. Also pinned to the board is a recipe for making yogurt out of coconut milk for the lacto-free peeps. Might try that next.

homemade yogurt  Go get ‘em, yogurt makers!!

Recipe: Greens and Beans Soup

Greens and Beans Soup Recipe

Here is my contribution for all of you taking care of yourself and others during this cold and flu season, while still holding tight to new year’s resolutions and fresh starts. This nutrient-packed Greens and Beans Soup recipe is easy, inexpensive, vegetarian, nourishing and very satisfying. It is chock full of veggies, beans, herbs and spices. We like to enjoy it as the main meal with a loaf of rosemary sourdough from the farmers market (dipped in extra virgin olive oil), but it could be paired up with lots of things or even used as a starter. The leftovers are awesome for lunches all week-long. In fact I think, like most soups, it gets better on day two.

Greens and Beans Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • approximately 1-1.5 quart stock (your choice – veggie, chicken, or beef)
  • approximately 15-20oz of chopped tomatoes
  • 2-15oz cans of beans, drained and rinsed (mix it up, I like using kidney and cannelloni beans)
  • 2 cups chopped kale (chopped very small)
  • 1 cup chopped chard (chopped very small)
  • 4 carrots (chopped into small rounds)
  • 4 celery stalks (chopped into small crescents)
  • 1 small head of broccoli (chopped small)
  • 3 small potatoes (medium dice)
  • 1 medium onion (small dice)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 jalapeño (minced)
  • 1T butter or EVOO
  • 1T dried thyme
  • 1T dried oregano
  • 2T fresh parsley or basil (chopped fine)
  • 2t sea salt (more to taste)
  • 1t pepper (more to taste)
  • 2T red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar (more to taste)
  • Parm cheese (grated) – optional topper

Instructions

  1. Saute onion, garlic, jalapeño in olive oil or butter to soften.
  2. Add carrots and celery and sauté until onions become translucent.
  3. Add in all other ingredients except vinegar and bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for 30-45 minutes until potatoes and carrots are soft.
  5. Splash with vinegar and begin tasting. Using extra salt, pepper and vinegar (the amounts needed depend on what kind of stock you are using and your taste preference) taste and adjust until the soup tastes delicious and the flavors pop!
  6. Serve with a little grated Parm cheese on top or fresh herbs minced fine.

Notes: You can mix up the greens and use collards, spinach, beet tops, bok choy in any ratio. You can use dried beans, you just need to prepare them ahead of time, because the tomatoes in the soup will slow down the softening process during cooking. You can use extra jalapeño if you’d like the soup to be spicier. The amount used in this recipe adds flavor, but not much heat. You can play with the vegetables included in the soup as well. Use what you have that sounds good, such as zucchini, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Enjoy!!

Looking for other soup recipes? Check these out:
IMG_7863  Simple Squash Soup

IMG_7820  Easy Peasy Chicken Soup

IMG_7784  Crock Pot Taco Soup

IMG_5159  Summer Gumbo

IMG_4971  Minestrone

Chicken Eggplant Parm  Crock Pot Chicken and Eggplant Parmigiana

Weekly Tip: Make Your Own Beef Stock

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Here is the big finale for our three-week make your own stock series. We have made our own chicken stock (or maybe you used turkey), veggie stock, and now this week we tackle making beef stock. This one is a few additional steps, but I assure you the rewards are worth it in the end. Let’s top off those freezers with stock for all our culinary feats this winter. Having a quality stock is the foundation of beautiful meals and a lifesaver on busy, lazy days when real food is a must.

There are three challenges to making your own beef stock that we must conquer. If you can figure these three things out, you are golden — the rest is gravy (good gravy if you use your beautiful beef stock).

1. You need to source high quality beef bones. For me that means local, grass-fed cows. These cost more for a reason. And all the reasons that count. Better for your health, for the flavor, for the environment, for the cow’s living conditions, and for your local community. So do some research, go to farmers markets, talk with other foodies, ask questions of the person behind the meat counter at the natural foods co-ops, find a butcher. Do what it takes to buy good bones and feel gratitude that they will nourish you and your family for months.

2. You need to be near your stove-top off and on, but mostly on for one to three days. You are going to be simmering this stock for days. One day is the barest of minimum, three is ideal (I never make it to three, but some day…), two works great. I turn my pot off when I go to bed and turn it back on as soon as I get up. I turn the pot off to run short errands or whatever, but mostly I’m at home going about my business while my pot is working away for two days.

3. You need a big pot. You want to get a lot of stock out of these bones that you worked so hard to find. Plus, the bones themselves take up a lot of room, so a small pot won’t have space for the water.

*** If number 2 and 3 seem impossible, you can make this in small batches in a crock pot. Using less bones, fill up the crock pot with the same stuff, fill with water and leave on low for 24 hours. You’ll have to go through the process again at some point when you run out of stock, but it may beat staying home for a weekend or getting your hands on a huge pot! ***

Why do all this?

Beef stock is a powerfully healing substance. It is filled with minerals and amino acids ready for absorption. It contains ample gelatin, ready to heal your gut and your joints. Bone broth has been shown to aid digestion and build immunity. Many real fooders consume bone broth every day as a tonic. You can read more about all that’s in there from this post from Mark’s Daily Apple.

Beef stock provides a beautiful flavor, richness, and color to soups, stews and sauces.

It is worth it! The stuff in the box/can DOES NOT COMPARE. Homemade quality stock is considered by many to be a SUPERFOOD. Boxed and canned stock, not so much. This is the easiest way to bring nutrients into everything you prepare. So let’s get started. 

SIMPLE BEEF STOCK

Equipment Needed:

  • Stock Pot – The bigger the better, so you can get more stock out of all the effort. Crock Pots will work, but most won’t hold enough liquid to get the most out of your efforts. Consider investing in a large stock pot or find a foodie friend who might let you borrow one for a weekend. I love my 21 quart pot. Big but manageable.
  • Roasting Pan/Tongs
  • Cutting board/Chef’s Knife
  • Ladle
  • Cheese Cloth or Fine Strainer – I use a paint straining bag from the hardware store. I can place it into a pitcher and ladle the stock into it.
  • Large Storage Container
  • Gallon Sized Ziplock Bags
  • Permanent Marker

Ingredients:

  • 4-8lbs of beef bones (a combination of marrow, knuckle, neck and rib bones is the best option, but work with what you can get!)
  • 3 Organic Carrots – Chopped up chunky
  • 3 Organic Onions – Peeled and chopped in quarters
  • 6 Organic Celery Stalks – Chopped up chunky
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic – Cut in half
  • 1T Whole Peppercorns
  • Sprigs of Fresh Thyme and/or Parsley
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
  • 2-3 Gallons of Cold Water
  • Optional: Any other veggie bits or scraps you may have around. This is a great way to purge those veggie drawers!

Instructions:

  1. Place any of your bones that have meat bits on them in the roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees for about an hour. Meanwhile, place the bones without meat bits in the pot with the vinegar and pour in the water until the bones are covered. Let the pot just sit on the counter for the hour the other bones are roasting.
  2. Take the meaty bones out of the roasting pan and place them in the pot. Add vegetables and add the rest of the cold water.
  3. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Using a spoon, skim off any impurities or “foam” that has developed on the top and discard.
  4. Add peppercorns and herbs.
  5. Simmer that pot for 12-72 hours. You can add more water every once in a while if you feel it is getting too low. (Less water, more concentrated stock)
  6. I turn the stove off when I go to bed late at night for my own peace of mind (leaving the big pot on the stove top) and then turn it back on early in the morning. I also turn it off when I leave the house during the day for safety.
  7. Using your strainer and your storage container, ladle the stock into the strainer in batches, resulting in having strained stock in the storage container.
  8. Place storage container in the refrigerator to cool completely. When cooled, your stock may be thick and gelatinous. That is a GREAT sign! It means you used bones with lots of gelatin and pulled it all out of them. Sometimes mine is gelatinous and sometimes it isn’t.
  9. The next day: Once your stock is completely cooled, the fat will rise to the top and solidify. If you leave that in your stock, it will be rather greasy. I highly recommend taking it off the stock and rendering it down to clean tallow to use as a fantastic cooking fat! [Place fat in crock pot on low until it is all liquid, then strain through cheesecloth into a mason jar and store in the refrigerator. Amazing for frying up tortillas for Taco Tuesdays!]
  10. Using a permanent marker, label your Ziplock bags: BEEF STOCK and the date and how much you are measuring into each bag.
  11. I recommend measuring out 1 to 1.5 quarts of beef stock per gallon Ziplock.
  12. Be sure to check those Ziplock tops for a good seal before placing the bags flat on top of each other to store in the freezer.
  13. The stock will keep in the freezer for several months.

Notes:

  • This recipe is adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It is one of my favorite resources for my real food journey.
  • There is no salt added to this stock, so you must add it on your own when using the stock. Most recipes will assume your stock is very salty (because the box/can has a lot of extra sodium in it), so be sure to taste and adjust and probably add more salt to your dishes than you are used to if you haven’t made your own before.
  • If you don’t have much freezer space for your stock, I recommend simmering your stock on the longer side of the range and not adding additional water as it evaporates. You are basically making it more concentrated and then can add water to it once you defrost it prior to using. You might want to freeze it in smaller amounts since you won’t need as much. You can also simmer some of it down further after straining to concentrate some of it for sauces. Just be sure to label everything so you know what you have later!
  • I know of many people who, in an effort to get the most out of their beef bones, make  stock a second time using the same bones. If you have the time, energy and freezer space you should go for it!

photo 1  Finished product… over 10 quarts of beautiful stock!

tallow  Plus a little jar of beautiful tallow as a bonus!

 

So that’s a wrap with the Stock Series! Hope you use these recipes in your kitchen to warm and nourish your family this winter season. This, my friends, is the true foundation of real food. May you build real (good) food from here…

 

This post is linked to Party Wave Wednesday at HolisticSquid.com!

Read more: http://holisticsquid.com/party-wave-wednesday-121113/#ixzz2nHVO7fWs