Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home made Hamburger Buns and Sloppy Joes

I made hamburger buns, which is a lot like making any other bread from scratch.

Activated yeast, check.

Let the dough rise, check.

Cut hamburger bun shapes, check.

The final buns.

They're definitely not the big, poofy, thick, sesame seed laden buns from the grocery store, but they are also free of unnecessary ingredients and additives, so it works for me!

For the sloppy joe mixture:

1 pound ground beef
1 can tomato sauce
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In a deep skillet, cook beef until it is browned.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.  Load onto buns.

Home made English Muffins and a Tomato-Spinach Sauce

I saw this picture of a tomato-spinach sauce over what looked like an English muffin, and it looked absolutely divine beyond explanation, but there was no accompanying recipe.  So I shot from the hip.

I googled English muffin recipes and landed on this one since the ingredients were mostly okay, unlike the others I saw which called for powdered milk (yuck).  I subbed butter for shortening & honey for sugar.  I was really happy with how they turned out.

For the sauce, I completely winged it and didn't write anything down, which I will live to regret.  I started by heating olive oil and garlic in a pan until it was fragrant, then I added spinach (already cooked) and mushrooms and let them cook until the mushrooms were a little brown.  I lightly pureed a few tomatoes (so they were still chunky) and added them with a little milk.  I brought it to a light boil, then reduced to a simmer and let it simmer for awhile.  I can't remember if I added anything else, but I don't think I did.

Once the sauce had thickened a little bit, I removed the heat and scooped the mixture onto the English muffins, then topped with grated raw mozzarella cheese.

This was so ridiculously delicious.

Butternut Squash Ginger Carrot Soup

I found a recipe for a carrot ginger soup, which sounded phenomenal to me, but I also had this big butternut squash lurking around my kitchen, begging to be used before it went bad.  I decided to try incorporating it into this soup by halving the amount of carrots and replacing it with butternut squash.  Since butternut squash doesn't have a very distinct flavor on it's own, you definitely just taste the carrot.  Or in my case, because I doubled the amount of ginger, you just taste ginger.  A mouthful of exploding ginger.

Chop, chop, chop.

Two cups carrots, two cups butternut squash.

Home made vegetable stock.

The recipe calls for vegetable stock, which I had previously never made before because I had no idea how remarkably easy it is.  You can follow these directions here, but basically: buy a bunch of random vegetables (I used celery, carrots, spinach, broccoli, onions and mushrooms) and simmer them in a pot of water for an hour.  Salvage the broth.  YOU'RE DONE.  There's really no need to buy veggie stock from the store.

The recipe also called for fresh ginger, fresh squeezed orange juice, and rolled oats.

If you're wondering if a tablespoon of ginger is enough: IT IS.  I used two tablespoons and my mouth was on fire with ginger.

Once all the ingredients had simmered on the stove for awhile, I poured it all into a food processor.

And the result is a creamy, smooth carrot-ginger soup!

I do like the soup, but I really did use too much ginger, so it was kind of overwhelming for my taste buds. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Healthy Food on a Budget

Whenever I talk about organic food, the price of it inevitably ends up in the conversation.  Most people I know compromise by getting the most important things organic (like the dirty dozen and milk, for example), and the less important things conventional.  I do a lot of that myself -- buy it organic unless the organic version is so alarmingly expensive that it makes me want to cry.

Today, I did a pretty big grocery trip & decided to pay careful attention to what I'm getting and how much I'm spending. We are a family of five and I spend roughly $500-$600 a month on groceries.  I'm told this is a modest monthly food budget, but I don't know, I feel like it's a lot!

I went to Costco first and purchased:
  • 10 pounds of sweet potatoes
  • 8 organic apples
  • 6 pounds of pears
  • 4 jars of organic applesauce (11 lbs, 13 oz)
  • 2 whole organic free-range chickens
  • 1 lb. organic spinach
  • 2.5 lbs. organic celery
  • 5 lbs. clementines
  • 3 lbs. bananas
  • 5 large hass avocados
  • 18 oz. blackberries
  • 32 oz. strawberries
  • 2 lbs. brussel sprouts
  • 24 oz. baby bella mushrooms
  • 40 oz. organic tortilla chips
  • 32 oz. pure maple syrup
  • 2 loaves of organic sprouted whole wheat bread
  • 24 large organic eggs
  • 2 pounds organic butter

Total: $121.20

From there, I went to Sprout's Farmer's Market and bought:
  • 1 eggplant
  • 4 lemons
  • 5 limes
  • 6 oranges
  • 1 lb. organic carrots
  • 5 lbs organic potatoes
  • organic whole milk yogurt, plain
  • organic whole milk yogurt, vanilla
  • organic coconut milk creamer
  • half gallon organic whole milk
  • 1 block organic cheese
  • 2 packages mini babybel cheese
  • 1 package string cheese
  • 1 can black olives
  • 2 six packs of natural soda (for husband, ha)
  • 2 pounds organic grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 thirteen lb. whole organic free-range turkey
Total: $87.31

Grand total: 208.51

I have no idea how this compares to others, but I would be curious to know!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Coconut Milk Coffee

It's been awhile since I've updated.  I'm still cooking - just not blogging!

I'm part of a local natural food group that holds monthly meetings.  They met today with the topic of Coconuts.

I know I've already talked about coconuts and already talked about how to make your own coconut milk, but I learned today that you can make this milk with the dried coconut flakes.  I usually make it with fresh coconuts and somehow it never occurred to me to use coconut flakes!

Making homemade coconut milk from coconut flakes:
• 2 cups organic dried and unsweetened coconut flakes
• 4 ½ cups water
First, soak the coconut in the water, covered for 20 minutes.
Transfer the coconut and water to a high speed blender or food processor and process until smooth and creamy (a few minutes, usually).

 Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer (or use a cheese-cloth to strain) over a bowl or jar. Press on the coconut pulp with a wooden spoon to remove all the milk. 

Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

From here, I heated 1 cup of coconut milk in a saucepan and whisked it to make it frothy.  Then I added it to 1 cup of coffee with a tablespoon of cocoa & a tablespoon of honey.  It's perfect!  I think I have finally found a homemade, naturally sweetened alternative to flavored coffee creamer - with all the added benefits of coconut! :)