Author Archives: trendybookworm

About trendybookworm

I'm a stay-at-home mom and doctoral student writing my dissertation in Comparative Literature (about cultural interactions in early modern Jesuit world missions).

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken

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So I saw this recipe on fellow blogger JenE’s Easy Recipes that sounded really yummy and perfect for the summer. I know that we’re at the end of summer, but I needed one last taste before I was ready for Fall. However, the original  recipe relies on store bought barbecue sauce, which usually has a long list of artificial preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. This set me on the mission to make a great tasting homemade barbecue sauce. I started with the tangy barbecue sauce and worked my way to a sweeter honey barbecue sauce which I think compliments the pineapple and chicken beautifully. My recipe isn’t quite as quick and easy as the original, but if you have your sauce already made, it is a pretty quick recipe.

Pineapple Barbecue Chicken

pineapplechk

Ingredients

2 cups diced chicken (if you roast chickens and freeze the meat in 2 cup portions this part requires no prep)

2 Tbsp fat (butter, olive oil or bacon grease)

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup carrot shavings or diced carrot

1 cup chunked pineapple (you can either leave it in large chunks or chop it into smaller pieces)

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1 cup homemade barbecue sauce (I recommend honey bbq sauce)

4 cups brown rice or quinoa

Directions

  • Place 2 Tbsp of fat (butter, olive oil or bacon grease) in a skillet on medium high heat.
  • Once fat is warm, add onions and saute 6-7 minutes, until becoming transparent.
  • Add carrot and saute with onion until carrot is tender.
  • Turn heat to medium low and add  cooked chicken, pineapple, pineapple juice and barbecue sauce
  • Mix all the ingredients on low heat with a wooden spoon until combined and warm
  • Serve over brown rice or quinoaIMG_1439

Sweet Honey Barbecue Sauce

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So I love a good tangy barbecue, but sometimes you just want something sweeter. This is great on chicken wings or in the Pineapple Chicken recipe that I’ll be posting soon.

Sweet Honey Barbecue Saucebbq2

This recipe is very similar to the tangy barbecue recipe but with a few variations that make it have a sweeter flavor and a little less kick, but it’s still just as flavorful.

Ingredients

(Makes approximately 2 cups)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3-4 cloves minced garlic

1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)

1/4 cup water

1 cup honey

3 Tbsp molasses

3 tsp clean Worcestershire sauce (most name brand sauces have artificial preservatives and corn syrup, so look at the label)

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar (I recommend sucanat or coconut sugar)

3/4 tsp sea salt

4 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/8 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Pour the olive oil into a sauce pan and place on medium heat.
  • When the oil is warm, add the minced garlic and allow the garlic brown slightly (about 40 seconds) while stirring.
  • Add the water and tomato paste to the garlic and stir until the paste and water have combined.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until they are combined.
  • Allow the mixture to start to bubble and then lower the heat to low/simmer for 20 min. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
  • Once the sauce is cool, you can pour it through a strainer or puree it in a food processor to incorporate the minced garlic or just leave it as it is.
  • Store in a glass container in the fridge for about two weeks.

Tangy Barbecue Sauce

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So Summer is almost over and if you haven’t already, it’s time to dust off the grill. It’s hard to picture summer without BBQ chicken and ribs, but it’s hard to find a BBQ sauce that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup (one of the most highly processed food substances on the planet) and tons of sugar.  Even if you decide to make your own, most of the recipes you come across call for ketchup (which contains high fructose corn syrup). In my search for a good BBQ sauce I’ve made a few batches from whole food recipes that didn’t taste anything like what I would expect BBQ at a good restaurant to taste like, so I’m really excited that this recipes doesn’t disappoint the taste buds.

bbqsauce1

Tangy Barbecue Sauce

I will admit that this recipe does have what I would consider a lot of sugars to it. If you like your BBQ sauce less sweet and more spicy then reducing the sugars should be fine.

Ingredients

(Makes approximately 2 cups)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3-4 cloves minced garlic

1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup honey or agave

3 Tbsp molasses

3 tsp clean Worcestershire sauce (most name brand sauces have artificial preservatives and corn syrup, so look at the label)

3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar (I recommend sucanat or coconut sugar)

3/4 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp onion powder

1 tsp chipotle powder (optional)- this gives your sauce an extra slight kick as an aftertaste

4 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp mustard powder

Directions

  • Pour the olive oil into a sauce pan and place on medium heat.
  • When the oil is warm, add the minced garlic and allow the garlic brown slightly (about 40 seconds) while stirring.
  • Add the water and tomato paste to the garlic and stir until the paste and water have combined.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until they are combined.
  • Allow the mixture to start to bubble and then lower the heat to low/simmer for 20 min. The mixture will thicken as it cools.
  • Once the sauce is cool, you can pour it through a strainer or puree it in a food processor to incorporate the minced garlic or just leave it as it is.
  • Store in a glass container in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Banana Blueberry Muffins

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Banana Blueberry Muffins

Banana Blueberry Muffins

bananablueberry

We love banana bread for breakfast and blueberry muffins are pretty much a Saturday morning staple, so one morning I decided to find a recipe that combined the two. I came across Martha Stewart’s Healthy Banana-Blueberry Muffins Recipe and decided to give it a try.

After several batches, I’ve made it a bit more whole foods friendly and tweaked it to our preferences. It isn’t the fastest muffin recipe out there by any means but it is so good, and you can cut a few corners if you’re short on time, which I explain in the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup King Arthur’s white wheat

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup brown sugar (sucanat or coconut sugar)

1/3 cup brown sugar (date sugar)

2 large eggs

2 ripe bananas

1/3 cup whole milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Directions

• Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

• In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (flours, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg).

• In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer on low until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

• In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork and stir in milk and vanilla. (If you’re short on time you can combine these with the sugar mixture rather than mixing them separately and then in the following step you will just have to mix in the flour mixture).

• With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.

• Fold in blueberries with a spatula.

• Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes.

Variation

Instead of using sugars, you can substitute either honey or maple syrup. If you choose to add maple syrup or honey, preheat your oven to 350 rather than 375 and follow the directions above but substitute 3/4 cup of honey or maple syrup for the sugars and decrease the milk to 1/4 cup.

You can also substitute a cup of another fruit in place of the blueberries, such as cherries or raisins.

Simple Baked Salmon

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I love to cook salmon because it is so easy, nutritious and most of all delicious! For this recipe, I have used both fresh and frozen salmon and both have turned out great. Also, if you have frozen chicken broth cubes and frozen lemon juice cubes it makes this recipe even faster.

Baked Salmon

2 lbs salmon (4 fillets)

2 Tbsp butter, softened

1/2 cup homemade chicken broth (5-6 frozen chicken broth cubes)

2 Tbsp lemon juice (1 frozen lemon juice cube)

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

  • Preheat oven to 425° F
  • Place salmon fillets in a 13 x 9 baking dish and brush with butter.
  • Combine remaining ingredients and pour over salmon. If using frozen chicken broth and lemon cubes, melt them ahead of time by placing them in the refrigerator about an hour or more ahead of time.
  • Bake salmon uncovered for 20-25 min.

bakedsalmon

 

Roasted Chicken and Bone Broth

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To me, roasted chicken (or just about roasted anything for that matter) is a special occasion meal. Roasted chicken conjures up images from my childhood of holiday meals with my family and what seemed like endless leftovers. My mom would always roast a chicken for Christmas Eve and a turkey for Thanksgiving and that’s about all the roasting she did except for an occasional pot roast.

thanksgiving

But roasting is an incredibly easy way to get a lot of great tasting food for minimal expensive. Oddly enough, buying a whole chicken to roast is usually much cheaper than buying the separate pieces of a chicken, such as chicken breasts, legs, etc.

I bought a large roasting pan at Target and usually roast two 3-4 pound chickens ($ 6.00 max for both chickens) at a time which gives me one chicken to eat for dinner and use for sandwiches, wraps, etc. and the other chicken to shred and store in the freezer in 2 cup portions for easy use in casseroles and soups. I also always roast veggies with my chickens (onions, celery, potatoes and carrots) and whatever is left over can also get frozen for use later in a stew or casserole.

    Roasting Chicken

  • To roast a chicken, start by washing the carcass well. I always buy my chickens from a local meat market to ensure freshness and so that I don’t have to deal with internal organs. If your chicken does have organs inside, remove them for use later in your chicken broth.
  • Once your bird is washed, place it breast side down and season it liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, poultry seasoning and any herbs that you like (marjoram, tarragon and rosemary are all great for roasted chicken).
  • Layer your vegetables in the roasting pan and then place the chicken(s) on top of the veggies. If you don’t want the veggies to mix with the chicken drippings, many roasting pans comes with a grill that raises the bird so that you can separate the drippings from the veggies and meat. I always save the drippings in a glass jar to incorporate into my chicken broth for flavor.

roastchicken

Now that you have some great tasting chicken, you can make some yummy chicken broth too that can be used in a plethora of recipes in lieu of buying a can of broth at the store or using a bullion cube for broth (both of which contain loads of sodium, preservatives and MSGs).

My mom always taught me not to eat the chicken skin because it was so high in fat, but it was always the part that tasted the best since it was seasoned. Well, now you can enjoy all of the seasonings  of the skin without feeling guilty! Once you have de-boned your chicken(s), you can use the leftover bones and skin to make chicken broth.

Bone Broth

There are a lots of ways to make chicken broth, but this is the method that I have found to be the least intrusive in mchickenbroth1y life, maximize the amount of broth made and be the most flavorful.

  • Place the bones (even leftover bones from dinner, they will get sanitized in the process) and skin of one chicken into a large pot or dutch oven.
  • Fill the pot with water until the bones are completely covered (usually this means filling the pot a little more than halfway full).
  • Add a “glug” of vinegar, white or apple cider works well, and allow the mixture to sit out for 30 min. to an hour. The vinegar starts to break down the bones and will not affect the taste of the broth at all.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then cut it back to simmer. You can let it simmer anywhere between 4-24 hours. You can add any vegetables (barring cruciferous veggies) and seasonings, such as salt or poultry seasoning, to the mixture anytime after it has boiled, but they should not simmer for more than four hours or they will give your broth a bitter taste. If you want to add parsley, it’s best to add it within the last 5-10 minutes of simmering since it can make the broth taste bitter if it simmers for very long.
  • When the broth is done simmering, place a large bowl in the sink and place a colander on top for straining the bones from the broth. Then pour the broth into glass jars and allow to cool. I recommend measuring broth out in 2 cup measurements since that is usually what is called for in recipes. You can also freeze broth in an ice cube tray for smaller portions of broth you can use in recipes or when someone is sick.

Recommendations and Tips

The longer  your broth simmers the more flavorful it will be but it will be more condensed, so you will have less of it. I usually put it on just before I go to bed at night and let it simmer for 8 hours while I sleep. An 8 hour simmer produces a pretty flavorful broth and I can usually fill two 2 cup containers halfway with the broth produced. For this first broth I don’t add any additional seasonings since the skin contains seasonings and because I’m letting it simmer for more than 4 hours.

After I have strained my broth, I put the bones and skin back in the same pot and start the process all over again. You can use the same bones to make broth up to three times but with each successive time, the broth will be weaker. I add water, vinegar, let it set 30 min. and then bring it to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, I add my veggies (1/2 a large onion, 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks) and seasonings (salt and poultry seasoning). Since you won’t be consuming the veggies, you don’t have to peel carrots or even take the skins off the onions, so don’t stress too much about prepping them.

I let the broth simmer for 4 hours and then strain it and add it to the broth I had already made with the same bones. Below is the broth I made from just one 4 lb. chicken. I usually roast two chickens at a time, so I do the same thing to the second chicken’s bones and skin and I have plenty of chicken broth stored in the freezer for soups, casseroles, sick days, etc.

chickenbroth2

The center jars are 2 cup measurements. The outer jars are ones left over (one is a peanut butter jar and the other a salsa jar). The broth also filled the entire ice cube tray.

The Freezer Pantry

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When I first decided to try eating more whole foods, it seemed overwhelming. I came across the book Better Than a Box: How to Transform Processed Food Recipes into Whole Foods Favorites by Katie Kimball, author of Kitchen Stewardship blog, and it inspired me not only with its recipes but with its philosophy of using the food and resources you have to their fullest.

One of the tips she gives in her book is to essentially use your freezer as a second pantry. If you store things in easy to use portions, then dishes that could take hours only take an hour or less instead. This is especially true of frozen veggies and meats that can easily be incorporated into stews and casseroles. She also suggests freezing liquids that you need in many recipes, like homemade chicken broth, lemon and lime juices, and buttermilk, in ice cube trays for small servings or measured in the typical amount a recipe would call for (like 2 cups chicken broth or 1/2 cup buttermilk).

The other tip that she gives that was at first intimidating and then liberating is consecutive meal planning. I have always hated meal planning for an entire week. But no one wants to meal plan at 5:00 pm when you’re hungry and your toddler is cranky, so of course you throw together something fast that isn’t particularly healthy or you send someone on a fast food run which is pricey and usually unhealthy. Meal planning a week at a time helps you avoid settling for something unhealthy and goes hand in hand with developing a freezer pantry.

I’ll be posting some recipes that help to develop  and use your “freezer pantry” to make meals that are healthy and fairly quick.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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As a kid, I thought oatmeal cookies were ok, but when there were chocolate chip cookies around I would always choose one over an oatmeal cookie. This recipe is a great blending of the two. You can also add 1 cup of chopped nuts if you like, but I wanted my toddler to be able to eat the cookies (which she did with gusto), so I didn’t include them in the recipe.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

cccookies2

Ingredients

1 cup King Arthur’s white wheat flour

 1/2 tsp baking powder

 1/2 tsp baking soda

 1/4 tsp sea salt

 2 cups rolled oats

1 egg

1 stick butter (room temperature)

1/2 cup brown sugar (sucanat or coconut sugar)

1/2  cup brown sugar (date sugar) (optional)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats with a whisk and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar(s)  with whisk and then beat in the egg until the mixture is smooth.
  • With an electric mixer on medium high, drizzle in the maple syrup and vanilla to the sugar mixture.
  • Turn the mixer to low again and add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture gradually.
  • Blend in the chocolate chips with spatula.
  • Spoon the cookies in walnut-sized portions onto baking sheets covered with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 9 min. and turn them halfway through so that  they bake evenly.

 cccookies1

Tender Salsa Beef

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One of the down sides to eating whole foods is that they can be more pricey and take more time to prepare. I wanted to start with something that was very easy, yummy, and not that expensive to make. This is a Taste of Home slow cooker recipe that I’ve adapted to be more whole foods friendly. Here’s a link to the original recipe if you’d like to see it for a comparison.

Tender Salsa Beef

salsa beef

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs diced stew beef
2 Tbsp molasses
2 cups organic salsa (we use Muir Glen Garlic Cilantro salsa)
1 Tbsp brown sugar (sucanat, coconut sugar or date sugar)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 minced garlic clove
2-3 dashes of sea salt
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
4 cups hot cooked brown rice

Directions

• Place stew beef in a plastic bag with 2 Tbsp molasses, shaking well to make sure all the meat is covered and refrigerate overnight.
• In a 3 quart slow cooker, combine marinated beef, salsa, sugar, balsamic vinegar, garlic and salt
• Cover and cook on low for 7 hours
• Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and sauté 8 min.
• Add bell pepper strips to onions and cook 2-3 min. (until bell peppers are tender)
• Add onions and peppers to slow cooker mixture (mixing well before re-covering).
• Cook mixture an additional hour (8 hours total)
• Serve beef mixture over rice

Step One: Rethinking Juice

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So, I bought a juicer, and it was not just because I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead!

Most people would agree that freshly squeezed juice in the morning would be preferable to the juice we buy at the grocery store, but honestly who has the time for that?! I HATE pulp, so every time I’ve been in a fancy hotel with freshly squeezed orange juice (which of course includes pulp), I just cringe and get water or milk instead. So why on Earth would I want to start making my own juice?!

My toddler drinks juice like there’s no tomorrow. She doesn’t like cow’s milk (I have to mix soy milk in with her juice), and she’s not crazy about water although she will drink it. I started giving her watered down Gerber juices when she was 10 months old, and when she started toddling we moved on to the Graduates (which have a little logo for toddlers). When I started looking at labels, I was shocked to see that while the juices for infants weren’t too bad the juices for toddlers were out in out false advertising.

One of her favorite juices is the Gerber Graduates Fruit Splashers Strawberry Kiwi. According to Gerber’s website, their Strawberry Kiwi juice includes the following ingredients: PURIFIED WATER, WHITE GRAPE JUICE CONCENTRATE, APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE, CITRIC ACID, CALCIUM HYDROXIDE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), NATURAL FLAVOR, STRAWBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE, NIACINAMIDE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6)

Strawberry juice (from concentrate) is a long way down on the list, and I don’t see anything about kiwis. There are also ingredients that don’t have anything to do with juice per se, like calcium hydroxide (also known as slaked lime) which is used in a variety of products such as pesticides, hair relaxers, and sewage treatment, just to name a few.

Now, I don’t want to go on a diatribe against Gerber because I was raised on it, and its organic products are good, but it is like so many other companies in that it just assumes we are fine with consuming processed ingredients that our bodies weren’t designed for and are willing to subject our children to the same cycle. I don’t think that we’re all necessarily going to die younger because we consume these things, but they are definitely not what we need in our diets.

So I’ve started juicing for our toddler at lunch and for my husband and myself at dinner so that both we and our toddler can have real fruits and veggies in our diets instead of the processed and watered down versions we would find in store bought juices. I still buy some juices at the store for breakfast and crazy days when I don’t get to make juice, but I am looking at the labels a lot closer now. I’ll pass along some juice recipes and tips in a later post.