Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Peanutty Thai Chicken

It is no secret that I love peanut butter. I especially love it in Asian cooking. There is something so mesmerizing about the combination of peanuts, chicken, lime, red peppers, and tamari sauce that makes my toes curl. Throw in some ginger and cilantro, and I'm singing songs from "Mama Mia", and swinging from the chandelier. 

Well, I would if I had a chandelier.

When the allergist told me that I was allergic to chicken and peanuts, I went into a deep depression. And by deep, I mean I started writing songs of my lost love. And by writing, I really mean I reworded other people's work.

Sue me. I was sad.

 ♫Peanut Chicken, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Peanut chicken, does it show again?
My my, just how much I've missed you
Yes, I've been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we parted
Why, why did I ever let you go?
Peanut Chicken, now I really know,
My my, I could never let you go.♫

 Thankfully, chicken and peanuts were not the problem. Thankfully, I found another recipe that meshes my favorite flavors together.
Thankfully, my family won't have to listen to me massacre Abba songs anymore.☺

~Peanutty Thai Chicken~
(adapted from "The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth)
Use organic ingredients if possible.
~The Players~
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup chicken broth (or homemade stock)
1/2 cup low-sodium tamari sauce
zest and juice of 2 limes, separated
2 Tb. rice wine vinegar
8 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch chunk peeled fresh ginger
2 Tb. honey
1 t. red pepper flakes
2 sweet onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
2-3 lbs. skinned chicken pieces (I used breasts and thighs.)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (more if desired)
sea salt, to taste 
Optional: roasted chopped peanuts for garnish
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peanut butter, broth, tamari, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, honey, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary, and set aside.

Place chicken in the crock pot. Pour peanut sauce over the chicken.

Sprinkle the lime zest on top.

Add the onion and bell pepper. 

Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours, or on low for 5-6 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool enough to handle. Using forks or fingers, shred the chicken, and remove any bones. Add the chicken back to the crock pot. Stir in chopped cilantro and season with sea salt before serving. Serve over rice or bean sprouts. Garnish with chopped peanuts if desired.


Monday, February 27, 2012

A March Menu

February was a bust as far as the food budget goes. I don't have the official numbers yet, but I know that it's going to be bad. Remember how I went to the allergist and found that I'm allergic to practically everything in my pantry? 

Well, I panicked.

Then I went shopping.

Then I panicked some more.

Then shopped even more.

It's a vicious cycle I tell ya.

Last week I got the blood test results back. I tested negative for Celiac disease so I went out and had myself a big old hamburger, white bun and all. And it was "When Harry Met Sally" good.

Then it wasn't.

So, here's what I know. Beef is NOT my friend. It causes an inflammatory reaction that makes my thumbs swell and feet hurt. 

Bread is NOT my friend either. It gives me a horrible headache and causes my tummy to do very bad things. At the very least, I'm gluten intolerant.

And shellfish~how I loved thee. Now it causes my throat to tighten up as if I have a scarf wound too tightly around my neck. After abstaining from chicken and eggs for 2 weeks, I am finding that I have zero problems with either, so they're back on the menu. I'm adding peanuts back in this week, so we'll have to wait and see how they fare.

Here's what I know about food allergies...if you have a shellfish allergy, Red Lobster is not a restaurant you need to visit. Asking for an allergy menu does nothing to set the food server's mind at ease. In fact, I'm fairly certain when she returned with the special menu she was packin'. 

An epi-pen, I mean. 

Poor gal. We tipped her well.

 I'm still wondering why my Mister took me there to begin with...☺

Here's what's cookin' this month...

2/27~Butternut Thai Curry Soup, broiled asparagus

2/28~Crockpot Peanutty Thai Chicken (new), soaked brown rice, broiled asparagus

2/29~Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread (new)

3/1~Spicy Turkey Sausage Pasta Sauce (new) over brown rice pasta, Caesar Salad

3/2~Lazy Chiles Rellenos Casserole, Easy Cheesy Pepper Corn (new)

3/3~Split Pea/Sweet Potato Soup (new), GF Biscuits

3/4~Beef Stew with Orange & Cloves (new), sourdough rolls (family)
Garden salad with Balsamic Dressing (me)

3/5~Loaded Sloppy Joes (with ground turkey breast), baked french fries

3/6~Italian White Bean Soup (new), garden salad w/ Balsamic Dressing

3/7~Fiesta Mexi-Chicken (new), soaked brown rice

3/8~Crockpot Potatoes Au Gratin, fried venison, green peas

3/9~Spicy Black Bean Soup (new), Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread

3/10~Spicy Thai Noodles (still new), using brown rice pasta

3/11~Mexi-beans (new), soaked brown rice, tortilla chips and salsa

3/12~Minestrone Soup (new recipe), Gf Biscuits

3/13~One Pot Mexi-Mac, green salad w/ Lime Vinaigrette

Leftover Broccoli Soup (me)

3/16~Lentil Burritos (brown rice tortillas for me)

3/17~Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, green peas

3/18~Crockpot Orange Chicken (new), Jasmine rice

3/19~Fancy Schmancy Macaroni & Cheese, elk steak, green beans

3/20~Pineapple Pepper Chili (new)

3/21~Spinach & Herb Risotto (new), Roast, garden salad w/ Balsamic Dressing

3/22~Gf Pumpkin Waffles (new), fruit salad

3/23~Caribbean Black Bean Soup (new), deviled eggs

3/24~Cincinnati Chili (with brown rice noodles)

3/26~Toe Warmin' Chili, Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread

3/27~Shopping Day 
Chili Baked Potatoes, sweet corn

Breakfasts~Yogurt Smoothies, Cinnamon or Almond Joy Granola, Omelette's, Banana Walnut Muffins, Baked Oatmeal (different variations), Brown rice or buckwheat pancakes, Simple Soaked Oatmeal, Blueberry French Toast Casserole, Breakfast Hash, Steel Cut Nutty Oats, eggs & toast

Lunches~Leftovers, toasted cheese & tuna sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, almond butter & honey sandwiches (Our "sandwiches" are not always on bread. Sometimes they're on brown rice cakes, in wraps, or on biscuits!), popcorn & fresh fruit, layered bean dip & tortilla chips, quesadillas, Salad "buffet"

If it seems like there are a lot of new recipes, well, I found a new cookbook! I'll be using my crockpot several times a week to free up some of my afternoons for some crafting projects.

After all, a girl has to have her priorities.☺
This post is linked to Menu Mondays at Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Got Worms?

Last week, we took a field trip to the Portland Home & Garden Show. We said it was for the kids, but really, it was for us. The Mister and I were hungry for a little eye candy. You know, the kind that looks nice, but no one can actually afford?

This would be some of the candy that I'm talkin' about...

My dream pond~very relaxing.

Concrete art

A waterfall fireplace~how's that for an oxymoron?
There were other pictures, but as they say, too much of a good thing is never a good thing.

Okay, since I don't know who they are, here's one more...

Ahhh...My other dream pond.
Yep, I feel better.

Since the cost to put in our own "serenity now" oasis is more than the total cost of our home, we went for the next best thing.

Worms! One pound of Red Wigglers to be exact. That's approximately 1,000 worms. The above picture looks pretty gnarly, but I can assure you, no worms were hurt in the production of our farm. In fact, these worms are like itty-bitty kings & queens. And they have their very own castle to prove it.

The spigot is for the "tea" fertilizer we'll use to feed our houseplants with.
Since worms have both male and female reproductive organs, we named 500 of them HErman, and the other 500, SHErman.

Don't want to cause any mix-ups when they start dating.

Pumice and backyard soil

Mixing it up

We mixed the pumice/soil with a peat moss-type material and shredded newspaper.

Old lettuce, mushrooms, eggshells, and coffee grounds were placed in a back corner before we added the HErmans and SHErmans.

We covered the worm bed with shredded junk mail and squirted the whole thing with a little water.

Madison was reassuring the HErmans and SHErmans that "everything will be alwight."

She didn't think the worms would like the total darkness though.

Finally~a locally made product!
We'll add more food waste (minus meat, dairy, and citrus foods) until the tray is full~a little at a time. When tray #1 is filled, we'll start adding compost to tray #2 so the worms can begin working their way up as they run out of food. (Four trays came with the kit we purchased, but we bought 3 more to maximize our composted gold.) A fellow blogger, Clint, over at The Redeemed Gardener,  just posted some great info about red worms~check it out if you want to know more!

And while I wait for my beautiful worm casings to be ready (first tray will be ready in 2-3 months), I'll be busy dreaming about our own little garden oasis.

Even if we can't afford the pond to go with it.☺

This post is linked to The Homestead Barn Hop.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

One Pot Mexi-Mac

Actually, the real name of this family favorite is Mystery Meat Mexi-Mac, but I didn't think anyone would ever give a second glance at any food with the words mystery meat in it.

"Mystery meat" tends to conjure up images of summer camp and the tummy troubles that went with it. Of course, it may have just been the teenage girls who had the tummy troubles. See, for one week every summer, the girls at my camp didn't use the bathroom. Specifically to go #2. There was always the rumor that the boys had drilled holes through the walls and were watching the girls use the toilets. (Stupid girls that we were, we never actually questioned how the boys got those so-called drills.) And if you were really cool (aka, classy) there was no passing of gas either. Hence, tummy troubles. By day 3, most girls were complaining of cramps (because that was an acceptable ailment to have while maintaining one's coolness), and by day 5, the girls were all forgoing afternoon fun for naps. Which really meant that they had each visited the camp nurse for some Tums and were lying in their bunks discreetly releasing noxious fumes that left a green haze hovering over the entire cabin area.

Or, so I've heard.☺

How did I get so far off course from Mexi-Mac? Oh yeah, mystery meat. I'm back...

This is not the mystery meat of summer camp. Just so you know.

The reason that we added mystery to this dish is simple~we never know what meat will end up in the pot. Our family favorite is bulk sausage, but we also like shredded chicken and beef. And if meat is a luxury item, leave it out. I'm guessing that no one will even notice that it's gone...

I guess that could be the mystery!☺

~Mystery Meat Mexi-Mac~

~The Players~

1 lb. bulk sausage (pork, turkey, venison)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans (15 oz.) mild chili beans, undrained
2 cans (15 oz.)great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (14-1/2 oz.) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (7 oz.) can diced green chiles
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 cans of water (I use the tomato cans)
1 (16 oz.) bag uncooked brown rice macaroni pasta
2 cups frozen corn
1 can olives, sliced
2 Tb. plus 2 t. chili powder
2 t. sea salt
2 t. ground cumin
Garnish: shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream

In a large Dutch oven, cook the sausage until barely pink. Add onion, red pepper, and garlic and cook until meat is done. (If using pre-cooked meat, saute veggies in 2 Tb. olive oil and add cooked meat with the beans.)

Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, and macaroni. Add chili powder, salt, and cumin and stir to blend. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add corn and olives. Remove from heat and replace lid while you shred the cheese. 

Serve in bowls and if desired, garnish with cheese and sour cream.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Reluctant Speller

My youngest son Matthew, is not a speller. In fact, he rates knowing how to spell right up there next to his aversion to all foods that are green. As far as he's concerned, spelling lists and spinach were only put on this earth to cause unnecessary frustrations and endless hours of torture.

He's a little dramatic.

He gets that from his father...*ahem.*

His penmanship also leaves something to be desired. If he can concentrate on writing his letters, his writing is beautiful. But if he has to think about spelling words correctly, it quickly turns into something that requires a professor with a PhD. in unknown languages to decipher. Matthew can either write or spell, but not both. (Unless it's the word poop. First word he ever learned to spell and write. Boys. Go figure.)

We have been using Trail Guide to Learning/Path's of Exploration for Matty's history program. This curriculum includes all subjects except for math. Each week, spelling/vocabulary words are introduced, usually from something we're reading. At some point during the week, Matt writes his words down on 3x5 cards, and uses those to play games or quiz himself with. At the end of the day, those cards go into the appropriate envelope on the above chart. (Which grows every week!) So far, the cards are a hit. But practicing those same words on paper has still been a source of frustration...more for me than him I imagine!

Because Matty is a kinesthetic learner, meaning "hands-on", I decided to take a different approach with his spelling practices and tests.

First, I purchased some magnetic alphabet letters from a discount store. I bought 4 packages since there is only 1 of each letter per pack. They were about $1/pack.

Secondly, I dug out an old stainless cookie sheet and sprayed it with chalkboard paint.

Of course, then we played with the new "chalkboard."
I then gave Matt a spelling word off of one of his cards and he spelled it out with the letters.

This is a word that he was having trouble with on paper, but with the letters he got it right on the first try.

He didn't get all of them right, but he was able to see and fix his mistakes.

And the second day that we did this? He got all of his words correct.

For the very first time!

Matthew was so excited that he wrote me a little thank you letter.

Guess we have a few more words to add to the list.☺

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gluten-Free Biscuit Love

Moment of truth.

I miss bread.

I've even considered replacing my children's wall photos with framed pictures of french bread, cinnamon rolls and hot dog buns. I dream of brioche, ciabatta, focaccia, and baguette's. I want to bathe in sourdough and moisturize with pounds of butter.

It's disturbing, I know.

So while my family was busy guarding their photos and hiding the butter, I got busy looking for a gluten free quick-bread that would satisfy my need for some loafy goodness. I found a couple of different recipes that were either too flaky (meaning they fell apart before adding the butter), or they tasted like dirty socks. 

Not that I've ever tasted socks, mind you.

Just when I had resigned myself to never having a sandwich again, I stumbled upon this little gem. The original batch made 10 biscuits, and over the course of 3 days, I ate them all. By myself. I worried that they were only delicious because I was so desperate, so I made them again. And this time I shared. 

You know you've hit the big time when your daughters copy the recipe into their own personal Family Recipes book.

Even if it wasn't technically a family recipe until then.☺

~Easy Peasy GF Biscuits~
(adapted from "The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook")

~The Players~
2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. xanthan gum
3/4 t. sea salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 425 F. 

Combine the brown rice and tapioca flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and sea salt in a large bowl.

Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture until crumbly.

Slowly add the milk, stirring with a wooden spoon as you pour. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until ingredients are just combined. 

My new rolling pin made by my brother-in-law, Brian. I LOVE it!!!
Roll out dough until about 1/2-inch thick. These won't rise much, so don't go any thinner. Use a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut out the biscuits. 

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (line with parchment paper, if desired), or a baking stone. The biscuits won't spread, so they can be placed fairly close together.

These were rolled a little too thin, but they were still delish!

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until done. Serve with butter, jam, honey, nut butter, meat...

Or slap two of 'em together and call it a sandwich.☺


Sunday, February 19, 2012

#3~You Should Know...

A few weeks ago, we lost our beloved Bourbon Red turkey Lucy, to a mystery predator. She was sitting on a clutch of eggs at the time, so we did what any farmy kind of family would do.We adopted them as our own.

Since we're old hands at adoptions of the child variety, we felt more than qualified to handle the adoptions of some freshly layed eggs.

How hard could it be?

Here's what you should know about egg adoptions.

1. Most humans have things to do, errands to run, lives to touch...so unless you have a video-game playing teenage boy who just sits on the couch all day in a vegetative state, get an incubator. Unless you think that same boy won't notice the eggs beneath him...

2. Never, ever, ever keep your incubator in the same room where food will be prepared or eaten. 

3. Don't believe your young sons when they tell you that the turkey eggs were still "slightly warm" when they found them. These are the same sons who just a couple of weeks ago thought they saw a Sasquatch in the woods.

4. Not all eggs want to be adopted. And they will fight the process if at all possible.

5. An exploding turkey egg sounds an awful lot like a drive-by shooting. Two exploding turkey eggs, and all the grown-ups are suddenly throwing themselves across any small children in the room in order to protect them.

6. Don't expect any medals for your heroic efforts, even if they're well-deserved.

7. Exploding eggs do not smell like a breakfast food. And trust me, it will be weeks before you think about eating eggs again. Which is also why #2 is so very important.

8. The smell that comes from a rotting turkey egg is reminiscent of family vacations to Yellowstone National Park. Specifically, the sulpher pots.

Which makes you decide that a return trip to Yellowstone is not going to happen again anytime soon.

9. There are no scented candles currently on the market that will cover the odoriferous scent of rotting turkey eggs. Even if you light 8 of them all at once.

Now you know.☺

a change in plans

Meal plans, that is.

Since finding out that I'm allergic to almost every one of our planned meals for the month, I decided to just "wing it" for the remainder of February. Problem with "wingin' it" is that I never received my wings.

Not even honorary ones.

Truth is, I'm so bad at not planning, that most of my meals have consisted of yogurt and frozen berries. I've tried to mix things up a bit though. 

Sometimes I eat my yogurt in a coffee mug instead of a bowl.

Since one cannot live on yogurt alone (Or can I?), I had to pull up my bootstraps and research some tasty gluten-beef-chicken-salmon-peanut-egg, and soy-free meals. Believe it or not, I came up with more than belly button lint and composted dirt. 

And even better? I'm looking forward to dinners again.

This is my meal plan. The rest of the family is continuing with the original February plan.

Here's what's cookin' this week...

Breakfasts will be: Peachy Millet Muffins, Cranberry Apple Spice Muffins, GF Biscuits w/sorghum butter, Yogurt Smoothies 

Fried oysters (using cornmeal) w/tamari & wasabi, green salad w/lime vinaigrette


Beet Spaghetti w/ricotta (new), green salad w/Italian vinaigrette



Spicy Thai Noodles (new)

Lunches will consist of leftovers from the night before.

And if there are none, I guess it will be yogurt and frozen blueberries.

Maybe I'll even have them in a bowl.☺

Thursday, February 16, 2012

it's that time of year...

While the rain continues to rat-a-tat-tat against my windows, I've been busy gardening.

Okay, my gardening doesn't require dirt quite yet, but in my mind and on paper, it's a beautiful garden.

And it doesn't care that the rain continues on.

And on...

And on...

The sun may not come out tomorrow, but when it does, I'll be ready.

Here's a list of what's going in the veggie garden this year~

Green Beans~Old Homestead (Kentucky Wonder Pole)
Blue Lake Bush

Beets~Bull's Blood

Cabbage~Glory of Enkhuizen (kraut cabbage)

Carrots~Little Finger
St. Valery

Cucumbers~Parisian Pickling (for sweet pickles)
pickling cukes (to be determined)

Kohlrabi~Early Purple Vienna

Kale~Blue Curled Scotch

Amish Deer Tongue
Black Seeded Simpson

Onions~Tokyo Long-White Bunching
Bianca Di Maggio
Walla Walla Sweets

Garden Peas~Alaska

Snap/Snow Peas~Mammoth Melting Sugar

Hot Peppers~Anaheim
Jalapeno/Craig's Grande

Sweet Peppers~Lipstick
Italian Pepperoncini
Sweet Chocolate
Orange Bell

Spinach~Bloomsdale Long Standing
New Zealand

Summer Squash~Marina di Chioggia
Zucchini/Black Beauty

Squash/Pumpkins~Butternut Rogosa Violina "Gioia"
Sweet Dumplings
Acorn (to be determined)
Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Swiss Chard~Five Color Silverbeet

Tomatoes~Green Zebra
Arkansas Traveler
Cherokee Purple
Violet Jasper
Amish Paste
Jersey Giant
Striped Roman
Morning Sun

Turnips~Ideal Purple Top Milan

And just in case Summer decides to drag it's feet, we're busy prepping for Plan B.

A 24' x 14' hoophouse on the south-facing side of our home.

Which will also double as a clothesline when Winter drags it's feet!

Not that any of us Pacific Northwester's would know anything about that...☺

(My favorite seed company is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And the Winner Is...

First~Thank you to everyone who entered my first giveaway! I was blown away by the responses.

Second~There are a lot of people with way more ambition than I.

Third~Because I don't like to feel less ambitious than others, I've added a few more goals to my our list.

Fourth~My Mister is now on strike.☺

So without further delay, here is how we drew for the winner...

I wrote all of your names on a slip of paper, then folded them so they were approximately the same size. Then I placed all 49 of them into my small-necked IKEA pitcher.

That's where the trouble began.

The only hand that seemed to be able to reach into that incredibly small-necked pitcher belonged to a cute little 3 year old. (Who bought that pitcher anyway?)

Maddie drew a name and I asked her to read it.

According to Madison, she won!!

That's what I get for enlisting the help of a pre-reader based solely on the size of her hands.

I asked Maddie to hold the winner's name up high.

Then I asked her to stop wiggling so I could take the picture.

She couldn't.

So I took matters into my own hands.

Congratulations to Carolyn Renee!!

"#7 - Hay feeder for the goats. Our goat yard is constructed using cattle panels so I put the hay outside of the pen, in a large tub or 1/2 a blue rain barrel (cut long ways) so they have to put their heads through the cattle panel to eat. Although it doesn't entirely reduce the hay wasting (man does that drive me NUTS!!), it does help. #11 - Hoops for greenhouse. Cattle panels are expensive (that's why our goat pen is not as large as we'd like it), so we used PVC pipe to create the hoops over our raised beds. If you want to see ours, take a loot at: http://krazoacres.blogspot.com/2011/04/hoop-houses.html And although I'm also trying to clean out my bookshelf, I have to admit that I would love for a chance to win that book. Put my name into the cyber-hat please!
 Oops, almost forgot! ONE of my homesteading goals (admittedly, I have the same spiral-notebook filled to the 33rd line with items!) would be to get grapes established this year."

Carolyn Renee~you can send your mailing address to kimberlyj9@live.com and I'll get your book sent right out!

And for those who didn't win this book~I'll be having another giveaway very soon, so keep a weathered eye on the horizon!☺