Friday, December 31, 2010

Water Kefir {Giveaway}

I have been playing around with water kefir the past few months and this time around have been enjoying the results.   Last year a friend that I met through this blog brought me hers because she was not getting good results with them.  I tried making homemade soda a few times and was only happy with the results once.  It was during the holidays and they were forgotten in the cupboard fermenting for about a month, so I tossed them L

This fall, I took the class on The Nourished Kitchen and learned some new skills.  Then I attended a gardening seminar about EM (effective microorganisms) and I was like “hey. This stuff sounds like water kefir smells like water kefir and looks like water kefir.” They taught composting methods, disease and bug treating methods and fertilizing methods.  I got really excited about it and tracked down some grains in excellent condition.  The girl who sold them to me even had a certificate about where they came from and how humanly they were treated J

Well, the grains have been multiplying like mad and now I want to share the love.

Enter to win 2 teaspoons of dehydrated water kefir grains and re-hydrating instructions.
  •             Must live in the United States or pay shipping
  •             If you are local, you have the option of choosing ¼ cup already hydrated ready-to-go water kefir grains, if you are willing to pick them up.
  •             There will be two winners, so your chance of winning just doubled
  •             Giveaway closes Thursday, Januray 6 at 12:00 pm MST
  •             I will announce the winners next Friday, the winners will have through Monday, January 10 to contact me through email to claim their prize.

Entries include;
1 entry for following my blog
1 entry for sharing this or other Taste is Trump link on facebook
1 entry for commenting on any recipe that you have tried on my blog
Leave a comment on this post for each entry stating which way(s) you have entered.
Maximum of 3 entries per person

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hot Chocolate from Scratch

It is raining and cold.  Brrr.  There are only a few days spread over 2-3 months that hot chocolate even makes sense.  Today the high was in the 50’s.  We haven’t turned our heat on yet, but the thermostat says 67 degrees, so I am thinking it will need to kick on to get me out of bed in the morning.

Our friends gave us these fancy marshmallows in a stick with crushed candy canes stuck all over them for Christmas.  Paired with a nice mug of cocoa, it made a nice dessert.  My husband HATES peppermint (can you imagine!?) so he opted for whipped cream, which I have to say is really good too.

We love Abuelita, but I have been looking for something I can make from scratch.  I found a great mix of chocolate, cinnamon and really good vanilla in raw, whole milk that makes a great replacement.  If you want to add a little kick, add a pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper.  Not too much, just enough so that people say “what’s that flavor; I can’t quite put my finger on it?”

3 tablespoons sucanat or honey
3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon
1 pinch salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk or coconut milk
1 teaspoon REALLY good vanilla

Over medium heat, mix sucanat, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt.  Gradually stir in milk and stir constantly until hot, do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into blender and blend until frothy and pour into cups. Serve immediately with marshmallows or whipped cream.
links; Real Food Wednesday, Works for me Wednesday, Things I love Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Ultimate Recipe Swap

Monday, December 27, 2010

11 Real Food Resolutions

In 2010, I set a goal to eat more vegetables.  My means for measuring was approximately 60 percent of every lunch and dinner plate consisted of vegetables.  I attained this goal by replacing meat with vegetables in many family favorites, sprouting, and making meals out of side dishes.  The idea evolved into eating less meat as well and I taught classes based on this concept, naming it “vegetarian-ish.”  You can check out some of my ideas here, here and here.

Many, many people set a New Year's resolution to eat better and fail year after year, or at least feel like they fail, when they have really made some unmeasured progress. In my opinion, the goal is too broad. Narrow it down and greater sucess will ensue. Here I have 11 ideas for you to get the ball rolling;
  1. Find a Pasture.  Eating pastured meat or eggs and dairy from pastured animals is expensive and takes a lot of time to research and track down.  But, I bet you could pick one thing to change over and you will be better for it.
  2. Bag the Boxed Cereal.  I know you are probably not going to be able to just throw out the cereal boxes that are in your house, I might even have a hard time with that.  But what if you stopped buying cereal for a given amount of time, say 6 weeks?  You let your stores deplete, the more you prepare good wholesome breakfast's the slower you run out, it's good motivation.
  3. Move to Organic.  Pick a couple fruits and vegetables (from the dirty dozen) that you are going to resolve to only buy organic.  If organic is not available, you do without.  I have done this with berries, it has made me revamp some recipes and keep my eyes peeled for a good deal to buy a load to freeze.
  4. Avoid a known toxin. Soy, hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup.  Look at the ingredient label on the products in your house and make note of the ones that you are going to look for alternatives to.
  5. Grow Something.  Most of you have a few months to stew on this one for a few months :)  Clear a small plot, or buy a pot or two. If you have a garden, resolve to expand it or learn a new technique to increase yields.  I always recommended to start with herbs, they are easier to grow, more expensive to buy, harder to keep on hand and are great for upping your consumption of vegetables because they will taste extra yummy with your fresh herbs.
  6. Dismantle the Microwave.  Unplug it or even better, move it to the garage for a month.  Figure out how to do without it for a while and when you bring it back, you will naturally use it less.
  7. Learn to Like Something New.  Anything you "don't like" is really just something you "haven't learned to like yet."  Choose something uber healthy, obviously.  Learn about all it's redeeming qualities, buy it every couple weeks and cook it in a variety of different ways.
  8. Upgrade Your Cooking Oil.  Switch over from canola, or any other over processed, cheap oil you are using to coconut oil for cooking and baking and extra virgin olive oil in raw foods.
  9. Get a Grip on Your Sweet Tooth.  Don't sabotage yourself by demonizing all sweet treats.  Make a goal to limit the number per day or per week.  Another idea is to grade all your favorite desserts and just avoid the more junky of the junk.
  10. Get a Culture Growing.  Sourdough, yogurt, kefir.  Track down one of these easy to use starters and get started!
  11. Cook Less.  It takes work to consume raw food, everything is pasteurized, heat processed and cooked to death nowadays.  With a dehydrator and good blender, there are tons of possibilities; raw breads and crackers, green smoothies, juices, nut based sauces, granola and desserts.
If there is something here you are going to resolve to implement, let me know.  Make sure I have your email so that I can check in with you throughout the year.  Nothing helps motivate like a mentor who holds you accountable.  I have loads of other ideas, if you would like me to recommended something more personal, shoot me and email;  Tell me your story, where you are with your diet and any concerns you have.  I will email you back with some questions, you reply with your answers and I will recommended around 3 suggestions.  Be sure to tell me which one you choose, so that I can follow up next month.  Happy New Year!
links; Top Ten {Tuesday}, Tuesday Twister, Hearth and Soul Hop, Tasty Tuesday, Frugal Friday's, Happy Homemaker Monday, Nourishing Resolutions

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Green Beans

With Christmas only two days away, I have been thinking about how I love to play food dress-up.  I enjoy making food all fancy, especially when it can take the place of a low quality, highly processed dish on the table.  Right here, I am talking about green bean casserole.  Cream of mushroom soup and fried onions in a can?  Boo.  Doesn’t the holiday’s deserve something more classy like pine nuts and prosciutto?

Without a doubt.

Enjoy this weekend with close family and friends as you celebrate the birth of our Savior. Merry Christmas.

2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into ribbons
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pressure beans on low for 2 minutes until crisp-tender (or steam for 12 minutes) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto; cook, stirring, until crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the beans, garlic, sage, salt and several grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are browned in places, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in pine nuts, lemon zest and juice.
links; Simple Lives Thursday, Things I Love Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fightback Friday

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Many years ago, at a church cooking class, this chica did a truffle demonstration.  I was so hooked.  After asking her if I could share the recipe she distributed then, she sent me this link, where she already blogged about it.  She does far better at pictures and tutorials, so I will let you clickity-click over there for the recipe.  Meanwhile, I will share my tips and tricks here about things I do  a tad differently.

I like my chocolate DARK, so I use Trader Joes Pound Plus 72% Dark Belgium Chocolate for the ganache (center).  I melt it with Trader Joes Organic Cream.  It is the best cream I have found, not ultra pasteurized, which is hard to find.  My source for raw doesn’t have a separator that makes it pure enough to whip, meaning there is milk mixed with it.  This moisture would cause the chocolate to clump and seize and get gritty.

There are many candy coating’s you can use; a low grade almond bark, which obviously is made of a bunch of garbage, would be the cheapest option.  My sister made an oreo truffle (crushed oreos and cream cheese dipped in almond bark) with my son on his birthday.  It’s allowed when most of them are not for you and when it is a kid project that creates a lot of waste.  There are also Wilton brand candy coatings in every color imaginable, still full of a bunch of garbage.

This year I found a real chocolate coating at none other than Trader Joes.  It is made with 65% cacao and has only 5 ingredients, the most offensive being soy lecithin.  They are called “Semi Sweet Chocolate Callets.”  What ever coating you end up using, a little weapon for your back pocket is palm shortening.  After dipping and dipping, the melted coating gets contaminated and starts getting thicker, and clumping.  A tablespoon of palm shortening thins it right out again so each truffle is nice and smooth.

For Christmas gifts this season, I made 4 kinds; mint, coconut, raspberry and orange by adding extract to the ganache.  I did a little drizzle that used a total of less than 1 block of almond bark (that I had left over from my sister) that I colored with 4 different colors to indicate the flavors.  They turned out lovely and are the epitome of sinfully delicious, homemade chocolate.
links; Things I Love Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday

Monday, December 20, 2010

Coming Soon

Catching up after a trip.
Kids are out of school.
Making Christmas gifts.

Working on the full report + a giveaway, yay!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

College Student Cooking {Noodles}

Dear Kate,

I made this yummy pasta dish the other day and thought of you.  With a few bags of Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli, vegetables and a few seasonings, you have a great lunch every day of the week.  All pasta recipes can be simplified and modified, you just need to do is visualize and experiment. I usually go with a cultural theme and try to keep my vegetables and seasonings from the same ethnic cuisine. 

This means I pair snow peas with soy sauce and green onions, zucchini with basil and tomatoes, peppers with chili powder and lime.  It is good to note that garlic goes with ANYTHING. If it is too tedious to deal with fresh garlic, try the paste that you can get in a jar, the frozen cubes, or even garlic powder if you must.  You can go at these noodle dishes two ways.

First, find a recipe that already has all the right combinations, then simplify it.  Take a look at my recipe for fideo.  There are tons of ingredients that add good flavor, but it is unrealistic to cook up something like this regularly in a dorm room.

Here is a simplified option that is still highly nourishing and tasty.

College Fideo

2 cups cooked brown rice noodles
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 oz can diced tomatoes
¼ cups cheese, shredded

After cooking and straining the pasta, heat hot pot to medium, cook peppers for 5 minutes. Add salt, garlic, oregano and tomatoes. Mix in noodles and cover with cheese. Place lid on pot until cheese melts.

Most of these ingredients are staples, that you should have a shelf for and keep stocked up on; noodles, olive oil, salt, garlic, oregano and canned tomatoes.  That leaves bell pepper, and cheese for your perishable shopping list. 

Another great addition to this that would up the protein, stretch the dish and stay in character would be to mix in a small can of pinto beans.  These would also be a staple to keep on your shelf.  A yummy brand that is good right out of the can is S&W’s Chili Beans.  Always make 2-3 servings when you are cooking so that you can enjoy your effort the following day.

 The second option would be to make up your own combinations and plug then into this simple formula:

1 cup noodles
1 cup vegetables (green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions, broccoli, ect)
2 teaspoons fat (butter, olive oil, cheese ¼ cup, ect.)
¼ teaspoon seasoning (garlic, basil, oregano, dill, hot sauce, soy sauce, ect.)
¼ teaspoon salt

Once in a while you might want to splurge on a can of salmon, tuna or even chicken to throw in.  Here is a recipe for you to take a look at and decide for yourself how it could be simplified for dorm room cooking.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Whole Foods for the Holiday's

It is so hard to search out a good, nourishing recipe online these days.  So many people are using boxes and packets and cans of this and that.  When you type in “healthy” with your search, you get a slew of low fat, still processed ingredients.  The term is so broad these days and of coarse everyone has their own opinion.  Mine, being traditional, is not included in the general public “healthy.”

I have found the keyword “nourishing” to be helpful at times while searching for ideas.  There are a fine group of real food bloggers that are right on the money where my “healthy” opinion is concerned. Many of them have teamed up this holiday season to host, round robin style, a progressive dinner blog carnival called “Whole Foods for the Holidays.” This is such a fantastic resource that I will be coming back year after year.  The recipes come from real food bloggers like me and are divided by courses so that everything is easy to find.

I will be better about taking pictures of my favorite holiday recipes this year, so I have more to share when it comes time next year.  In the mean time, are there any great ways you have found to search for nutrient-dense, traditional dishes on the internet?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mini Fruit Tarts

Melt in your mouth, tender, flaky, mmmm.  I kinda have a thing for puff pastry! These tasty desserts/extra special breakfast items were born out of an ancestral recipe. Kolaches are a family favorite from my beloved Czechs line again. They are made with simple sweet, yeasted dough and traditionally have a poppy seed or nut and date filling.  Puff pastry is completely different dough, and I use what ever filling is convenient, with gobs of them in my freezer, apricot and blueberry make good sense. 

The last time I had kolaches was when my grandfather died 17 years ago.  Many neighbor’s and friend brought them to my grandma’s house for the family to enjoy, how comforting they were!  Though I have recipes for the sweet treat, I have never made them myself.  I always reverently think of them when I am making these tarts, which makes them extra special.

Trader Joes has their all butter puff pastry back in stock, so if you are not up for making my homemade version at the moment, grab some there.  The glaze is up to you, I think they are still wonderful without, but it is nice to add to your desired sweetness.  It is fun to have a variety of fillings and see all the colors randomly placed together.  Note that a little goes a long way, each little tart can only handle a rounded tablespoon.  Also, jam does not have enough starch to hold up in the oven.

1 cup pureed fruit (may be slightly chunky)
½ cup honey (I used sucanat with blueberries)
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 recipe puff pastry
½ cup powdered sucanat
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Warm fruit in a sauce pan.  Stir arrowroot powder in with the honey and add to fruit.  Cook to a simmer.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  Let cool.  Cut pastry with a round cookie cutter and place circles on baking sheet 1 inch apart.  Combine the left over pieces by pressing them together lightly and cutting for more rustic rounds (this keeps the light texture, re rolling makes them tougher.) Let rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Push your thumb in the center of every round to make a dent for the filling. Carefully place 1 heaping tablespoon filling in each dent.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until pastry is lightly browned.  Mix sucanat, butter and vanilla until smooth.  Drizzle on warm tarts or brush glaze on edges. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

I have had good luck freezing the finished product and popping them in the toaster oven on low for 10 minutes to thaw and reheat.

links; Simple Lives Thursdays, Whole Foods for the Holiday's
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