Apple Tart

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2017-09-01 16.06.13

We have one more day of somewhat summer weather this week and then we start the road to fall. We spent much of August socked in with terrible smoke conditions due to all of the fires in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Canada. All of that time spent with the windows closed and the air conditioning running 24/7 made my brain think the seasons had already changed. I found myself making soup and comfort foods like this delicious apple tart.

Now that summer is winding down, my vegetable garden has been cleaned out, and the mornings are calling for sweaters, I find myself day dreaming about all of the wonderful options for fall baking and cooking.

Stay tuned!

Apple Tart

1 Pie Crust From Heaven Crust Portion

6 Cups of Your Favorite Apples, sliced

Juice of 1 Whole Lemon

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of Ceylon Cinnamon

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanillla Extract

6 teaspoons of Dairy Free Butter

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Add the sliced apples, lemon juice, coconut sugar, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla to a large bowl and let sit for one hour, tossing every 15 minutes.

While the apples are marinating, press the dough into a 9×1 inch tart pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Overlap the apples in a circle starting at the outside edge and work your way to the middle. Drizzle half of the marinating sauce over the apples. Dollop the butter over the top of the apples.

Bake for 50-60 minutes (it will depend on your oven) until apples are fork tender. Cover the tart with loosely with foil at the 30 minute mark so that the apple tips don’t burn. Drizzle the tart with the remaining marinade and cool before serving.

Poached Cod with Vegetables

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2016-02-22 13.12.10

I’m trying to be diligent about getting more fish into my diet. I ate a lot more fish and shellfish when we lived in New Hampshire.

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It was readily available and always fresh. Here, we basically live on the border of Washington and Idaho where “fresh” seafood means a little something different.

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We were spoiled in NH so it’s hard to get excited about seafood when it comes frozen (or previously frozen) in the grocery store. But I’m trying.

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I’m definitely a red meat kind of girl. In fact, if you put a rib-eye in front of me a few nights a week you wouldn’t hear any complaints.

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However, because I deal with inflammation issues related to Lyme Disease, my diet has to involve a  lot of vegetables and lighter meals as well as the occasional bloody rib-eye.

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It’s easy to get in the rut of baked fish dishes, but poaching brings a little something different to the table.

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It’s very easy and fast. If you poach it properly, the fish is amazingly moist and flaky. You can poach a large variety of fish with a large variety of ingredients which make the options endless. And lastly, I think it’s gorgeous.

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The contrast of the fish with the broth and whatever other ingredients you use can make for a really beautiful dish. Great for company because it looks so fresh and bright and like you really know what you’re doing.

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When in reality, all it takes is a few minutes to slice some vegetables, a quick saute, and then about 6 tiny minutes to poach the fish. Easy and delicious!

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Poached Cod with Vegetables

1/2 of a White Onion, sliced

1/2 of an Orange Bell Pepper, sliced

3 Large Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

4 Small (thin) Carrots, sliced

About 25 Heads of Asparagus

2 Large Swiss Chard Leaves, sliced

3 Cloves of Garlic, diced

2 teaspoons of Avocado Oil

1 1/2 teaspoons of Fresh Rosemary, minced

2 teaspoons of Fresh Thyme Leaves

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

Several Grinds of Pepper

4 Cod Fillets

32 ounces of Chicken Broth

Fresh Lemon & Parsley For Garnish

Prepare all of the vegetables, herbs, and garlic and set aside. Heat the avocado oil in a large pan and add the vegetables and garlic.Saute over medium high for a few minutes until the onions and peppers begin to soften. Add the chicken broth, salt and pepper, and herbs. Bring the broth and vegetable mixture to a simmer. Add the cod, cover with a lid, and poach for 6 minutes.

**Serve immediately. If you leave the fish in the broth on the stove, it will overcook and become tough.

2016-02-22 13.12.10

Bone Broth For A Healthier You

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Turkey Bone Broth After 17 Hours of Simmering

Turkey Bone Broth After 17 Hours of Simmering. Turkey carcass, skin, cartilage, etc. Break the carcass to fit in crock pot or stock pot, rinse off any leftover stuffing that may be attached, fill to the top with filtered water and add 2 Tablespoons of organic cider vinegar. Simmer for up to 24 hours.

When most of us hear the words bone broth I think soup usually comes to mind. However, did you know there is a big difference between broth, stock, and bone broth?  Broth is generally made with meat and a small amount of bones and only simmered for a short time. Stock is generally made with bones and water and is simmered for 3-4 hours.

Bone broth is made with bones and cartilage and sometimes a little meat that was left on the bones after roasting. Then, a couple of Tablespoons of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar is added, sometimes vegetables, it is simmered either on the stove or in a crock pot for a long period of time, usually up to 24 hours. Although I’ve heard of people leaving it for days.

The benefits of drinking and cooking with bone broth are well, amazing really.

The carcass leftovers of an 18 pound organic turkey

The carcass leftovers of an 18 pound organic turkey.

Bone broth has the ability to:

~ Increase your body’s ability to absorb minerals

~ Heal leaky gut syndrome (which many doctors agree is the leading cause of food allergies)

~ Support connective tissue

~ Grow stronger, healthier hair and nails

~ Keep your joints healthy

~ Heal adrenal fatigue

~ Detoxify the liver because it is high in glycine

~ Give us healthier bones, ligaments, tendons, and skin because it is packed with glycine and proline which is the biological glue that holds our bodies together

~ Calm an overactive immune system and help to rebuild stronger and healthier cells

~ Heal autoimmune conditions by healing the gut

~ Aid digestion by regulating bile and gastric acid

~ Balance blood sugar and help reverse heart disease by reducing plaque build up

~ Improve nervous system function

~ Help with inflammation

~ Aid in thyroid health and hormone balance

Turkey Bone Broth

Turkey Bone Broth

Who knew something so incredibly easy to make could be so beneficial for our health? Now, let’s get down to the brass tacks. Here are the absolute MUSTS of making bone broth:

You can use beef bones, chicken bones, turkey bones, lamb bones, buffalo bones, fish bones…but they MUST be 100% healthy. Which means no hormones, chemicals, GMO feed,  and they need to be free range, preferably grass-fed, etc. That might seem a tad overwhelming, but what kind of sense does it make to boil bones for 24 hours and then drink condensed chemicals and God knows what else? There’s a bit of sticker shock when it comes to organic meat/bones, but once you get used to that, it’s smooth sailing from there. Look for sales, find a local butcher who may even be willing to give you the bones at a discounted price, find a local (very good) farmer and work out a deal. There are options! And the more we support organic farmers and ranches, the less expensive it will be in the long run. More demand helps the farmers to better afford to do things organically and brings the price down, if you can believe it.

Bone broth will last in the fridge for 3 days and in the freezer for months. Use canning jars for freezing. Strain the broth into the jars.

Bone broth will last in the fridge for 3 days and in the freezer for months. Use canning jars for freezing. Strain the broth into the jars.

You MUST use just a bit of organic, unfiltered, apple cider vinegar. About 2 Tablespoons for a big pot. This helps leach all the good stuff out of the bones. You MUST also use joints, cartilage, even chicken feet or turkey feet add a ton of gelatin benefits. I used filtered water, you can also use spring water. I don’t know if this is a MUST, but it makes sense to me. If you fill your very expensive pot of bones and goodies with chlorine and fluoride and who knows what….what’s the point really? You can add whole organic veggies, veggie scraps, and organic herbs if you like. If you don’t want the smell of food in  your house, you can put your crock pot in a safe place in the garage or basement. But beware, if your garage or basement get really cold, you run the risk of cracking your pot. This very thing happened to my sister-in-law and she came out to the garage to find broth running down the front of whatever she had set the crock pot on. The thought of leaving it in our garage all night freaked me out a little, so I went ahead and left mine on the kitchen counter. I had already been cooking our Thanksgiving meal all day, so really, the smell of food for another several hours was not a big deal.

You can cool the broth and scrape off the fat layer, or not, it’s up to you. You can drink it hot in a cup like tea, use it in soup, or cook with it.

Leave some room in the top of the jar for expansion or the jar can crack. I've learned that the hard way!

Leave some room in the top of the jar for expansion or the jar can crack. I’ve learned that the hard way!

So there you have it. Bone Broth. Loaded with all kinds of good reasons you should make it and use it in your daily cooking. I plan to drink at least a cup of it each day. This week it’s turkey bone broth, next week I’m going to do a post on beef bone broth.

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There’s so many easy and tasty things we can do each day to take control of our own health. If you’re ill, have food allergies, migraines, hormone issues, skin issues, mood issues, weight issues, blood pressure issues, whatever the problem may be or even if you’re healthy as an OX…don’t wait around for something to change and someone else to tell you how to take control of your health. Do a little research, see what ailment alternatives are out there that may benefit you and your family. Partner up with your physician for a healthier you!

Resources:

Townsend Letter, The Examiner of Alternative Medicine

Oh Lardy, Everything You Need To Know About The Benefits of Bone Broth

Dr. Jockers, Supercharge Your Health, The Amazing Benefits of Bone Broth

Real Food RN, The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Coconut Mama, Benefits of Bone Broth

Eat Naked, Healing Foods 101, Seven Reasons To Add Bone Broth To Your Daily Diet

Presto! Fresh Flavor By The Spoonful – Anytime

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Not really sure what to call these…I’m sure there’s a name for them…little flavored pestos, citrus zest cubes, citrus juice…yummy goodness to toss into pasta, top roasted vegetables, season fish, slather meat, throw into smoothies, and add into whatever is your favorite food for the day. I’m not a trained chef or cook, or a trained anything, really. So for now, I don’t have a name for them until one of you can tell me what to really call them. If you can give me a great and unique name for them, then that is what I will call them forevermore.

So, as I was making a batch of pesto the other day, I thought, “Now why couldn’t I do this with all kinds of things? Herbs, fruit, juice, roasted garlic? The things I like to cook with on a regular basis. But in smaller batches, so I could just pop one out of the freezer and toss it in a pan or defrost it quickly to season a beautiful piece of meat or flavor my favorite Clementine Cookies?” There’s no reason why not!

I love freezing little servings of things. People with food allergies need to be a little more organized in that area if they want the convenience of having something fresh and homemade to eat on a whim. I freeze small servings of soups, lasagna, whatever we’re having that allows a little leftover, usually. It’s nice to be able to grab something delicious when my husband is traveling and I don’t feel like cooking, or heaven forbid, if I’m sick with something that only allows me to make it to the freezer, microwave, and back to bed. It’s also nice to have fresh herbs on hand at all times, and if you buy organic, you know they don’t last long. I try very hard to steer clear of sprinkling my food with fresh herb pesticides so this is turning out to be a really great way to have “fresh” herbs on hand all the time.

I can’t wait until summer when I have pots and pots full of plump, fresh, herbs to whiz together and stash away in the freezer for winter!

You Will Need:

Organic Beef, Pork, Poultry, and Seafood Herbs

About 5 Heads of Organic Garlic

Olive Oil

Citrus of Your Choice, I Used Clementines

Juice of Your Choice, I Used Pomegranate

Food Processor

Ice Cube Trays

Tin Foil

Fine Point Permanent Marker

Start off with all of your favorite herbs. Remove the woody ends and check for soil that was left behind. I didn’t remove the rosemary leaves from the stems for the pictures, you will want to do that before you put them in your food processor.

Next, label the herb piles and grab a piece of paper. Make a list of which herbs are in each pile. For Example: 1. Poultry – rosemary, sage, thyme, and olive oil, 2. Clementine Zest…etc. Once you begin to grind up the herbs and olive oil, you will mark each ice-cube tray so that it correlates with your list of ingredients.

This is incredibly easy. I think I did the entire pile of herbs, including photography and clean up in an hour. An extra bonus was that my house smelled fantastic when I was done.

Here’s what you do: 

1.  Place the herbs in the food processor. Whiz them up until they are small bits.

2.  While the processor is running, add a small amount of olive oil…maybe a teaspoon or two at the most,

to bring the mixture together a bit.

3.  With a small spoon, add the herb mixture to the ice trays. Label with the corresponding number on your paper.

EASY!

Below are the herbs, garlic, zest, and juices that I used.

Dill, Parsley, and Thyme

Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme

Oregano, Sage, Tarragon, and Thyme

Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme

Rosemary and Lemon Thyme

For the roasted garlic you will need about 5 heads of garlic, tin foil, olive oil, sea salt, and a sprinkle of herbs. Slice the tops off the garlic heads with a sharp knife, remove any loose paper. Place on a layer of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil, herbs, and sprinkle with sea salt. Place another piece of tin foil over the top and wrap them up tightly. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. When they are easily squeezed out of their skin, they are done.

Allow them to cool and then squeeze them out of their skins. Pack them into the ice-cube tray.

The zest and juices are incredibly easy…pretty much a no brainer.

Once everything is in the ice-cube trays and labeled, cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

Once they’ve sat overnight, loosen them by twisting the trays just like you would for ice cubes. Using a fork, carefully loosen each one and place it in a small plastic freezer bag and pop them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Remember to label the bag and pay attention to which ones you’re removing!

The Maiden Voyage…

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The house is finally done! Well, when I say done, I really mean “done”.  There’s still window treatments to be hung, caulking to do, paint touch ups, decorating, etc. Most of the major things we set out to do have been accomplished. (More pictures to come soon…) I think we might have been a little crazy to do the entire house (minus our unfinished basement) at once. It was a whirlwind experience to say the least, and quite frankly, I’m shocked that it went as well as it did.

We still have a “to do” list for next spring…maybe finish the basement, look into replacing counter tops, and then the outside of the house needs to be painted. The list never really ends, does it?  We are very pleased with the finished product and now that the major stuff is done, I’m thankful that we decided to do it all at once.

We love the new appliances! What a difference a modern appliance makes. Ha! Our old oven and dishwasher were 11 years old and the fridge was 16 years old. They were in for several days before I even had time to sit down and figure out how to work the oven! We switched from electric to gas/convection and our new oven has a lot of buttons and a 37 page manual. Yikes. I read through it twice and honestly, there were so many directions for pre-settings and default settings and few other settings, that I had no idea what they even meant.  I took the first basic three or four instructions and just went with it. Turns out it’s much more straight forward than the manual would have you think. Which believe me, after putting in 15 hour days in this house for the last 4 weeks, was a huge relief.

There is something that cracks me up every time I look at all those buttons on the stove though…there’s a Chicken Nugget and a Pizza setting! Preset temperature and everything so all a person needs to do is put a frozen pizza or frozen chicken nuggets in the oven and push one button. I suppose some people might think this is clever, but I have to wonder what it says about America’s eating habits and the time spent on family meals. How about a Fresh Baked Bread button, or a Roasted Turkey button, or a Vegetable Quiche button?

My Maiden Voyage consisted of a stuffed, roasted chicken, with roasted vegetables. I finally figured out the roast setting and it worked great! Lightly crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. The vegetables were a little al dente, but that was due to the fact that I was rushing and cut them too large for the size and cooking time of the bird. Had they been with a turkey, it would have been fine.

Stuffed Roasted Chicken with Roasted Veggies

1 Whole Chicken, innards removed and set aside

Gluten Free Stuffing (Million Dollar Stuffing)

2 Boxes of Gluten Free Chicken Broth

Vegetables and Potatoes of your choice (I used celery, mushrooms, carrots, onions, and red potatoes)

Dairy Free Butter

Chopped Garlic

Fresh Herbs that go well with chicken (Rosemary, Thyme, Sage…)

Olive Oil

Sea Salt & Pepper

Potato Starch

Rinse and thoroughly dry the chicken and place in a roasting pan. Follow the directions for the gluten-free stuffing, minus the baking and stuff the bird. I stuff both ends and sometimes separate a little of the breast skin so I can push some stuffing into there as well. I love stuffing, so I try to get as much of it in the bird as possible!

Cut the vegetables and place around the bird in the roasting pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and pour about 1 cup of chicken broth over the veggies.

In a small bowl, place about 2 Tablespoons of dairy free butter, 1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic, and 2 Tablespoons of chopped, fresh herbs. Season with a generous amount of sea salt and pepper and mix with a fork until it is completely incorporated and smooth. Spread over your dried bird. I had a little extra so I dolloped a bit on the veggies also.

Place in a hot oven, about 325 degrees, and roast according to your oven and weight of your bird. Mine took about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the chicken innards in a medium sauce pan and cover with chicken broth. Add a couple of chopped celery tops and some fresh herbs. Simmer for 1 hour. I use this broth for the gravy. You can chop up the soft innards for “giblet gravy”  (my favorite!) or strain them out and just use the broth if having chicken liver in your gravy freaks you out.

When the chicken is done, remove it from the roasting pan onto a cutting board and cover with foil to rest. Remove the veggies to a serving platter and cover.

Place the roasting pan on your stove top and turn two burners (or if you have a middle long burner use that) to medium high. Strain the fat off of the remaining pan juices and replace in the roasting pan. Strain the simmering broth and add that (and the giblets if you like) to the broth in the roasting pan.

Pour about 1/2 cup of chicken broth into a glass and add 2 Tablespoons of potato starch. Whisk with a fork. When the broth begins to boil, slowly add the starch to thicken the gravy. You may need to add more to get it to your desired thickness. You can also use corn starch or gluten-free flour. I prefer the potato starch because I feel that corn starch gives it too much of a gelatinous texture and flour gives it a grainy texture that is difficult to cook out. When I make a gravy with a roux base, I use gluten-free flour and that works well. But for this gravy, potato starch works the best.

A terrible picture, but dinner was fabulous!