Tuesday, September 21

Crock Pot Ratatouille

At this time of year, we have had zucchini in so many ways.  And the squash and the eggplant are still coming in strong.  I have a favorite easy way to use up this bounty that can easily be adjusted to taste and whatever veggies are on hand.  The first night we had this over pasta with some browned Italian sausage.  I eat it a lot for lunch with a little feta on top.  And I've used it as a pizza sauce and toppings.  Last weekend I put some on an open faced roll and melted a little cheese on top.  YUM!  I love this ratatouille!

Crock Pot Ratatouille

Layer in a crock pot
1 large onion, sliced
1 large eggplant, cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 yellow squash, cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 bell peppers, cut into bite sized pieces
8-16 ounces tomato sauce

Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Thursday, July 8

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

I've been using the same basic zucchini bread recipe for years, but I keep making little adjustments to it based on how I'm changing the way I cook.  I used to be all about canola or vegetable oil and now you won't find any of that in my house.  I've gotten lazy and tend to just have whole wheat pastry flour on hand now.  Or I should say whole wheat pastry berries that I mill into flour.  I even used to buy whole wheat flour before I learned how quickly it starts to lose it's nutritional value after it's been milled (at home or in a commercial mill).

And lately I've been making my same bread recipe into muffins for easier eating on the run.  I bake them at 375 for 20 minutes and they are perfect!

Here's my updated recipe.

Noelle's Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

Cream together:
3 eggs
1/2 c melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 c turbinado
1/2 c sucanat
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 c shredded zucchini

3 c wheat pastry flour
1/4 c ground flax meal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Mix until just combined. Pour into 2 prepared 8 inch x 4 inch loaf pans and bake at 325 for 50 minutes.  For 24 muffins, bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Monday, July 5

connected with our food

Last night was one of those awesome food moments around here.

We went to our neighbors' front yard to pick some sour cherries from their tree.  Then we pitted those cherries and got them warming and thickening for a cobbler.  I made the cobbler topping and put it in the oven.  While it was baking I mixed up some vanilla ice cream.

Within an hour, we were eating warm cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.

Those cherries went from tree to tummy in a matter of hours....YUM!

Saturday, July 3

other blogs

Life is just as full as always around here.  Even though I haven't been blogging around here much, I have been blogging elsewhere.

Our CSA has a great blog and I will have my first post there soon.
I've also had the opportunity to blog about CSA life in a larger arena.  It's an online community for farmers, mostly large scale farms and I am a unique voice in that community.  You can find my posts here.

In between all of that, we've picked a big flat of strawberries and made jam and preserves.  I've also canned some blueberry preserves when I found a great deal at the grocery store.  And soon the zucchini baking will commence!

Saturday, June 26

My head is spinning and I need to vent

You know that saying, ignorance is bliss?  Sometimes that’s how I feel about our food system in the US.  Maybe I should stop reading things like Michael Pollan.  Or looking at food labels in the grocery store.  Maybe I should just put my head down and eat according to that stupid food pyramid.

How have we as Americans become so disconnected from our food that we think the government should tell us how to eat?  Seriously, people!  We resist government interventions in every other arena of our lives, but we allow the FDA to tell how much and what kinds of foods to eat?

They say it will make us healthier if we follow that pyramid.  Then why are more people fatter every day?  Obesity is now an epidemic, along with diseases like type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

And at what point did we begin to think that some company should cook for us or prepare our food?  I understand the idea of convenience foods.  Yes, my kids have had their share of boxed macaroni and cheese.  But why would we serve that boxed food alongside a grocery store chicken nugget?  Have you looked at the ingredients?  It’s not chicken, bread crumbs and egg wash, I can tell you that much.  But that’s all it needs to be so what is all that other stuff in there?

Who is going to fix this system?  And does anyone else even care that it’s broken?

Wednesday, March 10

Eat your greens!

Do you eat your greens?  Do you want to but not sure how?  We have been trying to have greens this fall and winter about once a week.  We have done southern style braised greens a couple of times.  But one of my absolute favorite recipes for greens is greens with carrots, feta and brown rice.

It is full of flavor with the greens and carrots, nutty brown rice and salty cheese.  I made it this week with cojita cheese, a Mexican cheese that is a cross between feta and Parmesan.  And I don't buy the frozen brown rice.  Instead I make my brown rice in the oven.

Monday, March 8

Orange Burst Bars

Around our house, we buy lots of fruit.  Lots and lots of fruit.  Most of it gets eaten right away, or at least in a timely fashion.  But for some reason, we get bored with oranges or clementines.  We can go through pounds and pounds of them, and then one day I realize the same 3 clementines have been in the fruit bowl for over a week.  And at that point, NO one is going to eat them.

Now they aren't like bananas that I can throw in the freezer for smoothies or bread.  And it's not like apples that can be diced and put into oatmeal.  But years ago I found a recipe for Orange Burst Bars.  They are a lot like lemon bars.....but orange.  There is a yummy shortbread crust, and then a topping made from eggs, sugar, a little flour and whole oranges!  I do cut up the orange to make sure there are no seeds in there, but my kids (my little boys especially) have LOVED putting a whole (or half) orange in the blender and watching it get all chewed up.  It's a very simple recipe, too.  So any time I have a few old, dried out oranges in that fruit bowl, we get these bars.  You could actually use fresh oranges too!

Orange Burst Bars

1 c melted butter
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 c flour

And pour into a 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, in a blender, combine:
4 eggs
1 1/4 c sugar (I used 1 c honey today...YUM!)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 c flour
2 small or 1 1/2 medium oranges

Pour orange mixture over crust and bake an additional 20-25 minutes.  Just like Lemon Bars, you could sprinkle the top with additional powdered sugar.  Or I think some kind of chocolate drizzle would be awesome too!

Monday, February 15

where does your food come from?

I saw this shocking video on YouTube tonight.

I've never been a fan of Whole Foods.  I mean, yes, you can go in there and know that there is no high fructose corn syrup or red dye #40 in their stuff.  But where do peaches come from in March?  Not Georgia and not California and especially not Colorado.  Or asparagus...that stuff is not growing anywhere near me right now.  Or cantaloupe.  Don't get me started!!!  Yes I'm getting tired of eating cabbage and potatoes and carrots right now, but that's what we have folks.

Anyway....off my soapbox.  I just wondered where your food comes from.  I'm trying really hard to know where mine comes from.

Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Pudding Cake

I saw this recipe just before Aleena's birthday in January and immediately thought of her.  Like me, she adores her peanut butter and chocolate.  And this is one of those cakes that makes the pudding sauce underneath so it doesn't require frosting.  It just needs a little ice cream to go with it.  And the best part?  Well maybe not the best part...but it's made in the crock pot!

The recipe is here.  I used my 6 quart oval crock pot.  And I decided to double the cake portion because it just didn't look like enough for our family of 8 plus a friend.  It would have been enough because we had half the cake leftover.  I didn't double the sauce portion because that just seemed like a lot of sugar, but we didn't really have enough sauce for the amount of cake.  But no one was complaining.

A word of caution...this is not for those interested in presentation.  It was a very unattractive cake in the crock pot.  But in the bowl, with the cake and the hot fudge pudding sauce and some vanilla ice cream....BLISS!

I look forward to making this one again.  It will be nice in the summer too when it's too hot for the oven, but I still want to make a dessert.  It will be perfect with homemade ice cream.

Saturday, February 13

new breakfast idea, sausage and cheese biscuit roll up

I saw a recipe for this the other day and it looked like something my family would really like.  I'm not posting a recipe because it's just too easy.

Take your favorite biscuit recipe and roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness.  Try to keep it in a rectangle.  Spread about 1 cup cooked sausage over the top, then add about 3/4 cup shredded cheese over that.  Roll up jelly roll style and slice into 1 inch slices.  Bake on cookie sheet like you would your biscuits.

I was a little heavy handed with the sausage and they fell apart some, but they were still really tasty.  There are a few left too since my oldest son is on a sleep over!

Sunday, February 7


Yep, I wrote one out, but I'm not posting it simply because it takes too much time and time is a very precious commodity these days.

Hope all is well out there in blog-land!

Thursday, February 4

It's a challenge!

I haven't posted about this yet but I am part of a real food challenge sponsored by one of my favorite bloggers.

So far the challenge has been about cleaning out our pantries and refilling them with good things.  We were also encouraged to do a soaked grain recipe.  And today is starting a sourdough starter.

I think I am already messed up because yesterday I baked sourdough bread, but I think it will be OK.

A lot of these first few steps are ones I have already taken in our kitchen.  If you're interested, you can still join in!

Sunday, January 31

weekly menu

Last week, I was out of the house by 8:30 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  I took kids to the dentist on 2 different days.  I went to the county offices to turn in paperwork twice.  I drove my father-in-law to the airport (which in Denver...DIA is in the middle of nowhere!).  We also celebrated 2 birthdays, I made 1 set of classroom cupcakes and took one kid to the pediatrician for a check up.

I also managed to plow through all of our laundry pile.  No small feat in this house.

This week looks to be equally messy.  Monday I have to take Kelli in for dental surgery.  We will be at the hospital for probably 4 hours all in all.  She's getting 4 teeth extracted, 2 fillings, 2 sealants and a "frenectomy".

Tuesday afternoon I take my big boys to the dentist, and then D and I have a potluck meeting in the evening.  Wednesday I have to take our middle son in for his middle school physical.

Then on the weekend, we have the Father/Daughter dance to prepare for.  Our family is contributing fruit for a chocolate fondue.  And of course there will be 2 little girls to dress.

So, with all that in mind, I have tried to make a simple plan for the week. (We are also at the end of our grocery budget so I have to wait until Saturday to do my big stock up which means I am using up all I can find in the freezer.)

Breakfast leftover muffins, frozen pancakes, leftover oatmeal with yogurt
Dinner chili with venison and beans
Prep soak oats

Breakfast baked oatmeal

Dinner going to a potluck and taking Asian cabbage slaw, kids will have pasta at home
Prep thaw chicken, bake bread

Breakfast eggs and toast
Dinner chicken pot pies
Prep start pancakes

Breakfast pancakes
Dinner macaroni and cheese with winter squash puree and cauliflower mixed in
Prep thaw ribs

Breakfast hot cereal

Dinner short ribs, mashed potatoes, cabbage cooked with bacon and onions
Prep make big monthly grocery list

Breakfast eggs with sausage, hash browns

Dinner salmon patties, roasted winter vegetables (carrots, beets and celeriac)
Prep grocery shopping, make muffins, soak beans

Breakfast muffins

Dinner ham and beans
Prep weekly menu planning

Friday, January 29

lunch time!

Today for lunch, I had some chicken salad, bread and butter pickles and kale chips.

OMG I think I have a new favorite!  The kale has a strong flavor so it might not be for everyone, but I loved it!

Thanks, Kathy!

Sunday, January 24

weekly menu

It's been an off week so I didn't necessarily stick to my plan for last week, but it helped to have a plan to know where I was supposed to be going for the week.

Here's to a new week and and a new plan.  This week my father in law heads back home so I'm making him some favorites on Monday.  And my oldest turns 14 on Thursday and my middle son turns 11 on Friday so they have chosen the meals they want those nights, too.

Breakfast Malt-o-Meal
Dinner meatloaf, mashed potatoes with celeriac, corn and salad with blue cheese dressing
To-do bake bread, thaw chicken, soak oats

Breakfast baked oatmeal
Dinner chicken with carrots and bulgur, creamed spinach
To-do make coleslaw

Breakfast eggs and toast
Dinner BBQ, coleslaw and oven fries
To-do grocery shopping, start pancakes

Breakfast whole wheat pancakes
Dinner angel hair primavera with shrimp and alfredo sauce
To-do thaw ground beef, start waffles

Breakfast chocolate chip waffles
Dinner bowties with meatballs and meatsauce
To-do thaw stew meat

Breakfast ??? maybe leftovers
Dinner Beef stew and sourdough bread
To-do make muffins, bake bread, soak beans

Breakfast muffins
Dinner (lunch) ham and beans
To-do menu plan

Tuesday, January 19

one of my favorite go to meals

Tonight we are having Tangy Pork Chops.  It's a recipe I found long long ago in a Taste of Home magazine and have since adapted a little for our family.  It's one of those recipes that uses inexpensive meat, pantry ingredients and a crock pot.  That always adds up to a winner for a busy mom!

I buy the big packages of bone in mixed chops when they are marked down really low.  My husband hates pork chops with bones, but these are absolutely falling apart so it's not an issue.  And we try to freeze lots of bell peppers in the late summer so I have those on hand too!  I serve this with either rice or mashed potatoes to use all of the yummy sauce, too.

Tangy Pork Chops
6 or so pork chops (bone in is great, sirloin chops are great here too, even pork steak would work)
salt and pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped (or 2 T dried celery or 1/4 frozen celery)
1 large bell pepper, sliced
1 pint jar, stewed tomatoes (or a 14.5 oz can and in the summer I have used fresh tomatoes, diced)

1/2 c ketchup
2 T cider vinegar
1 T sucanat (or 2 T brown sugar)
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T lemon juice

slurry of 2 T cornstarch and 2 T cold water

First season chops with salt and pepper then place in bottom of crock pot.  Add onions, celery, pepper and tomatoes.  Combine remaining ingredients (except cornstarch and water) in a small bowl and pour over chops, stirring a little to make sure it's all covered.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours.  Make slurry and pour into crock pot.  Turn to high and cook until liquid is thickened, approximately 30-60 minutes.

Monday, January 18

The Falafel

Dinner tonight was fabulous!  I love it when it just turns out like it should and is yummy!

I did the chicken shawarma recipe I had posted and the quinoa tabbouleh.  And I realized that I was a little lean on the food, even with a batch of homemade pitas and plenty of hummus.  So I made falafels.

OMG! They were so yummy and super easy too.  I fried them in my cast iron skillet with coconut oil.  Thankfully I was in the midst of making pitas, getting in and out of a 500 degree oven so I wasn't tempted to mess with them.  I just flipped them when they were really browned and took them out when the other side was good and browned.

I had never had falafel until a few weeks ago.  It's a mixture of mashed garbanzo beans and bread crumbs with some spices and onion and garlic thrown in.  Then it's shaped in a little ball and deep fried.

We will do this one again!

Sunday, January 17

Even Lazier Cabbage Rolls

In the winter we get lots of cabbages from our CSA.  Our family loves cabbage cooked with onion and bacon or made into a coleslaw, too.  But I remembered those cabbage rolls from my youth and wanted something like that.

But time is an issue for me somedays.  And even when I have time, I don't necessarily want to spend it filling cabbage leaves and trying to arrange them in a casserole dish.  Because remember, I'm cooking for 8 people.  And even though there are 6 kids, they eat A LOT.  So a little dish of 6 or 8 cabbage rolls would just be a good start.  lol

My friend Kathy posted this recipe and variations a long time ago and it was a go to recipe here for a while.   I would do her casserole version.  I would do a big 10x13 pan of it and there were rarely leftovers.  I needed to make more.

This fall I came up with my even lazier version, that feeds us all with a little leftovers.  You may need to downsize this recipe if you don't feed an army  like I do.

Even Lazier Cabbage Rolls

enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 carrots, diced
2-3 pounds ground beef (or venison works great in this one too)
1 large or 2 medium heads of cabbage, rough chopped
46 oz can tomato juice (we have tons of these leftover from our WIC days)
1 c water
1 1/2- 2 cups white rice
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet or dutch oven (I use my Le Cruset large oval French oven), drizzle the olive oil. Brown the onion for a couple minutes (you know, the amount of time it takes to mince the garlic). Add the ground beef and garlic. Brown until mostly cooked through. (the amount of time it takes to peel the carrots and dice them). Add the carrots and continue to cook. It takes a good stir to get it all incorporated. Then add the chopped cabbage. I let that cook for about 5 minutes, covered to let the cabbage start to wilt down.

Stir in the rice, tomato juice and water. Bring to a simmer and cook covered for about 40 minutes. Check about 20 minutes into the cooking time to check the amount of liquid. You may need to add more water. When the rice it cooked, season with salt and pepper and serve!

I gave ranges for meat and rice because some times I thaw more meat than other times. So the times when I have only 2 lbs of meat, I need to add more rice to stretch it out. My kids all love this. Very nice comfort food and super lazy!

Saturday, January 16

Menu Plan Saturday?

This is when I have time to do my planning so I'm trying to get it done now.  I'm realizing that life is really crazy when I am working 40 hours of nights every week.  I'm thankful for the job right now, but jeez, it wears me out some days!

apple oven pancake and bacon OK that didn't happen for a variety of reasons, but my kids did make chocolate pancakes
Dinner Even Lazier Cabbage Rolls (I'll post a recipe for that one later), Spinach Casserole
To do Prep muffin batter, thaw chicken

Breakfast Kefir Soaked Muffin, kefir smoothies
Dinner Chicken Taco Soup
To do start soaking quinoa, start waffle batter

Breakfast whole wheat waffles, yogurt with fruit
Dinner chicken shawarma, quinoa tabbouleh, pita and hummus and falafel if I get ambitious
To do make tabbouleh, make hummus, make pita, thaw pork chops, start oatmeal

Breakfast baked oatmeal
Dinner tangy pork chops with rice and Southern Style Braised Greens, biscuits
To do thaw ground beef

Breakfast hot cereal
Dinner meatloaf, roasted potatoes, corn and coleslaw
To do start pancake batter, thaw sausages

Breakfast whole wheat pancakes, kefir smoothies
Dinner White Bean and Kale Soup, French bread
To do thaw chicken, start for stock

Breakfast Eggs and toast
Dinner Layered Chicken Enchilada Casserole (I'll totally be winging it!)
To do Menu planning for next week

I'm still figuring out when I'm making bread each week too.  I like mixing it one day and shaping and baking another day.  It's been a time saver.

Thursday, January 14

Wednesday's dinner

This is a picture of the dinner my husband made last night.  I'm not the best with photography, especially using my phone as a camera.  But the food was awesome.  He grilled lamb chops (from our farm lamb that he picked up last week), and roasted some maple squash with apples, honey, muscavado and a bit of chipolte powder, and we also had roasted root vegetables...carrots, chiaogga beets and leeks.

It was a great meal, food from our farm share and I didn't have to cook! (Even though I do LOVE to cook)

Sunday, January 10

menu plan Monday

leftover curry sauce with chicken and vegetables over rice

beef brisket, mashed potatoes, corn and broccoli rabe

Duane is going to cook!


even lazier cabbage rolls


lamb, bulgur and carrots

Saturday, January 9

the beef tongue-update

Well, it just looked weird in the crock pot all day.  And when it was fully cooked and tender, I had my husband take it out.  He took the tough skin or membrane or whatever it is off and then diced the tongue for our tacos.

The meat was super tender and tasty.  Think about it...very lean and great texture.  It's all muscle!  And everyone sampled it.  Everyone even had a taco.  The girls followed that up with lots of water and a been and cheese burrito!

As for Spinner's question, no taste buds because that outer skin is gone.  It just LOOKS icky at first.  Then it's fine.

Friday, January 8

the beef tongue

I just put the beef tongue in the crock pot.  I'm using this recipe as a guide.

I just didn't expect the tongue to look so much like, well, a tongue.  It's dark and bumpy.  I tried to not think about it too much.  I was going to take a picture, but...  Maybe after it's cooked.

Thank goodness I'm making a big pot of refried beans too!

Thursday, January 7


I had to laugh about this.  Aleena's friend came home with her on Tuesday.  (She has a friend home with her a few times a week!)  Aleena asked if the friend could stay through dinner.  I said, "yes but we are having venison".  Aleena turns to her friend and says, "it's just deer!"  Like everyone eats deer but venison is just some weird fancy name!  (The friend wound up staying through dinner but NOT eating.)

I used a recipe from Nourishing Traditions that had me marinate the chops in red wine, orange zest and some thyme.  Then I browned the chops and let them simmer in the marinade for an hour.  It was a hit.  And a great way to use some of the venison that has been given to us.

I'm getting ready to thaw my beef tongue to use for tacos tomorrow night.  Hubby is soooo excited I am making lengua tacos.

Monday, January 4

menu plan Monday

It's Monday and I have at least thought about my menu this week.  I even went out to the "meat" freezer and looked to see what I have that I need to use up.

This week I will be feeding my children venison chops on Tuesday, making beef stock from our Christmas prime rib bones for French onion soup on Wednesday and figuring out how to make lengua tacos and burritos for Friday.  Lengua?  Yep, that's Spanish for tongue.

I'll also make a huge beef brisket, mashed potatoes with gravy and corn on Saturday to soothe all their dietary souls, as well.