Egg Cocette

I recently read one of Suzy’s posts about making baked egg cocettes, and since we had just gotten fresh eggs from some friends, this seemed like the perfect dish to make.

I modified ours to use some of the vegetables we already had. I sautéed some chopped potatoes until they were soft, then added in some spring onions and bacon, because bacon makes everything good. I added spinach into the pan until it wilted and put all of the vegetables into the bottom of two small dishes. I cracked two eggs into each dish and topped them with fresh cut herbs before pouring on about half a cup of half and half. I baked ours at 350, a little on the longer side, around 25 minutes because I do not like runny eggs. We topped them with salt and pepper and some chives, and it made for a delicious dinner!

I have some asparagus in the fridge now, and I’m thinking that would make a really nice vegetable base for the next cocettes we make.

Perfect French Toast

We often eat bacon and waffles for breakfast on Saturday mornings, but some weekend breakfasts call for an extra special meal – french toast. It is only recently that I started loving french toast – previously when I had made it I felt like it was too soggy and too eggy. I would definitely eat it, but it wasn’t my favorite thing.

One day we randomly happened to catch an episode of America’s Test Kitchen on tv, and they were making french toast. It looked so delicious that we went out the next day to buy bread so we could test their recipe.

It was unbelievably delicious.

The secret to making perfect french toast is to use challah bread. It is made from eggs and is nice and dense. We have been able to find it at our local bakery (Stick Boy) and some of our grocery stores. Just so you know, it’s pronounced “halla”. That way you won’t feel as self-conscious buying as I did.

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Slice it an inch thick and let it get nice and dry in the oven.

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Soak it in the egg and milk mixture for exactly 20 seconds on each side.

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Cook it with butter.

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Pour on real maple syrup.

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And enjoy!

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Since this isn’t my own recipe, I’m not going to type it out here, but you can get it on America’s Test Kitchen website. You will have to register as a user to view the recipe, but it is free and worth it!

Grapefruit, Orange, Ginger Juice and Pear Bread

It’s cold outside. Even when our house thermostat is set for 70, I am still cold. It’s funny how winter makes you slow down. Even though I hate the cold weather, I really appreciate the opportunity to rest and relax. It’s like my own time to hibernate. I can’t stay out working in the garden until the last bit of light fades at 9. I don’t really want to leave the house once we get home from work, and if I do go anywhere it’s to Espresso so I can have coffee and read, while getting out of the house. Most days after work I come straight home, crawl under my puffy-puff (down blanket) and read or watch episodes of Netflix. I’m currently on season 4 of both Frasier and How I Met Your Mother. Seriously, what would we do without Netflix?! I’m sure it would help if we went to the gym after work, you know since we have a gym membership that we haven’t used since we started it in December, but it’s just too cold and I’m just too lazy. So instead I’ve been trying to make us more nutrient rich foods so that we’ll have energy to make it through the winter.

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Grapefruit, carrot, ginger juice and pear bread – it’s what we’ve been having for breakfast this week.

The juice was made with 4 grapefruits, 10 carrots and a good inch cube of peeled ginger root. I would use more but I don’t think Matt would drink it. I love ginger – it’s pretty much my favorite thing to eat. As a side note, did you know that most ginger-ales don’t actually have ginger in them? That’s right – take a peek at the ingredients on that can you’re drinking to help settle your stomach, and I think you’ll be surprised! I like to drink Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew. It has 26 grams of ginger. Now that’s some delicious ginger-ale! Alas, this post is not about ginger.

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If you’re interested im my pear bread recipe, here it is. I’ve started writing down my recipes as soon as I make them, or else I forget how I made them and I can’t recreate it. I can’t type it up for you because I have to get back under my puffy-puff and watch another episode of How I Met Your Mother, so hopefully you can read my chalk board scribbles.

Oh yeah, I cooked the bread at 350 for about 65 minutes.

Oatmeal

It has been pretty cold and snowy in Boone the past few days. And windy. And did I mention cold? We have been running from the house to the car to work, and back at the end of the day. We haven’t really been venturing out much because it’s cold, I’m lazy, and we don’t need anything. I am seriously stocked up on groceries for a while, and I did some cooking on Monday, so we haven’t even been tempted to eat out. It has been glorious!

Oh, did I tell you that I joined a co-op? I’ll save that discussion for another day, but I will say that it has changed my grocery shopping habits, which tend to get out of control.

Anyway, to the real point of this post … we discovered oatmeal this year. Not the packs of oatmeal you mix with water and microwave. Real oatmeal – that isn’t mushy and full of weird ingredients. We eat it almost everyday for breakfast, which is a big step because before ate chick-fil-a for breakfast a lot. Oatmeal is quick and easy to make. We make a big batch at the beginning of the week and eat on it for several days. It reheats really well.

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Oatmeal
*modified from Oh She Glows

2 cups water
2 cups almond milk
1 cup steel cut oats
1 TBSP flax seeds, ground
1 TBSP chia seeds
1 TSP vanilla extract
1 TSP cinnamon
1 apple
maple syrup
walnuts

Mix all ingredients, except for apple, syrup and walnuts in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add apples and maple syrup to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Served with toasted walnuts.

The nice thing about oatmeal is that you can alter it to suit your palate. Don’t like apples? Try substituting pears instead and add some cloves and nutmeg for a nice flavor. Try blueberries – frozen, fresh or dehydrated. Don’t have chia seeds? Cut down on the liquids, but get yourself some chia seeds. You can find them at a health foods store -Whole Foods and Earth Fare carry them. They offer the only complete source of protein in a vegetable form. They will help you have energy throughout the day. Don’t have almond milk? Use all water instead- it will be less creamy, but it will work. Haven’t used steel cut oats before? Get some. Don’t be afraid. You can find them in the bulk grains section of many grocery stores. Sometimes they can be found in cans in the breakfast cereal section, but they will be really expensive. I order from our co-op, and I was able to get 30 lbs for $1.06 per pound. I love steel cut oats because they don’t get mushy.

So, if you are looking for a healthy, filling breakfast recipe to comply with your New Years’ resolutions, look no farther.

Applesauce

I finally cleaned two bushels of apples off my kitchen counter and finished making our applesauce!

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I usually make applesauce in pint sized jars, but somehow I was running low on those, so I used quarts. 14 quarts and 8 pints – I’m not sure if that is enough to last us through the year or not, so I might pick up some more apples.

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I discovered that my apron pocket made moving apples much more efficient than just using my hands!

Making and canning applesauce doesn’t necessarily take a lot of work, but it does take a significant amount of time. It took me about 4 hours one night, start to finish. I would rather do all the sauce at once instead of doing lots of small batches since so much equipment and prep work is required.

1. Peel, quarter, and core apples. One of those apple peeling, coring and slicing gadgets makes this process so much easier!
2. Cook apples with a little bit of water until they break down.
3. Put sauce through food mill.
4. Sanitize jars and lids.
5. Fill jars and hand tighten lids.
6. Process in water bath for 35 minutes (longer time because I am at a high altitude).

So for 4 hours, I had each of these steps going continuously because I had so many apples. While I was peeling, a batch was cooking, a batch had been milled and was ready to go into jars, and a batch was in the canner.

I know I’m going to be so thankful for all this applesauce when January rolls around and my sources for local fruits and veggies are hibernating for the winter.

Homemade Toothpaste

I have been making my own toothpaste for a little over a year now, and I must say that I like it so much more than conventional toothpaste. I got the idea from Susy over at Chiot’s Run.

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I love the way this toothpaste works. I have always appreciated toothpaste with baking soda, but I never thought about making some myself. If you are used to a foaming toothpaste, it may take you some time to get accustomed to this kind, because it doesn’t foam, but it makes my mouth feel cleaner than a store bought toothpaste that foams. I find it difficult to use other toothpastes now because they seem too foamy.

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The ingredients are very simple: baking soda, vegetable glycerin, salt, and essential oils.

To make the toothpaste, simply mix together the following ingredients:
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 2 teaspoons sea salt or mineral salt
- 4-5 tablespoons vegetable glycerin
- 20 drops peppermint oil
- 20 drops citrus oil (orange, lemon, tangerine, etc)
- 10 drops eucalyptus oil

You should be able to find glycerin at any health food store, but you can always order it online. I just ordered this kind from vitacost. If you don’t want to use the vegetable glycerin, you can just omit it for a powdered toothpaste.

That usually makes me enough toothpaste for 2-3 months. I keep mine stored in a mason jar with a lid and leave in a little spoon to put some in my toothbrush.

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Apples

Nothing says fall to me more than apples and knitting, and I have certainly had lots of both lately!

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I currently have two bushels of apples sitting in my kitchen waiting to be turned into applesauce! If you have never made applesauce, you should definitely give it a try. Just peel, core and chop or slice your apples, put them in a pot with enough water to keep them from sticking, and cook them, stirring frequently, on medium low until they break down. If you want it to be really smooth, you can run it through a food mill, but don’t worry if you don’t have one. It is just as delicious when it is a little chunky. Add cinnamon to taste if desired. It will last a week or two in the fridge, or you can freeze it to enjoy later!

Crispy Flatbread Pizza

Here is our most recent garden harvest:

I feel so blessed that we are getting such an abundance of fresh produce right now. I spent all day yesterday making strawberry vanilla jam and freezing green beans, zucchini, bell peppers, and peaches. We will be eating well way into 2012!

Given all of our fresh produce, and the fact that our local Earth Fare weekly special was free fresh mozzarella cheese, I decided to make flatbread pizza tonight.

We usually switch between two different pizza dough recipes, depending on how much time we have and what type of pizza we feel like eating. Mitch’s basic pizza dough has been our staple for several years. It is a thick and delicious crust, but it requires at least 1 1/2 hours for the dough to rise. Sometimes we just want fast and quick pizza, and I have started using the Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Rosemary Flatbread as our crust recipe. There is no rising involved, and you can easily go from ingredients to crispy pizza in less than 30 minutes. We’ve tried several flatbread pizza recipes, and this is the only one we’ve found that is actually thin and crispy instead of thick like focaccia bread.

Flat Bread Pizza
 *(adapted from the Smitten Kitchen’s crisp rosemary flatbread recipe)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
Combine dry ingredients in bowl of mixer. Add water and olive oil and mix until dough forms a soft ball in the middle. Divide dough in half and roll out or press out with fingers onto baking sheet. Bake at 450°F for 6-8 minutes until the crust is crispy. Put tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings on cooked crust. Bake for another 4-6 minutes until the toppings and crust turn a golden brown.

Serves 2-3 people. We often double this recipe in order to have leftovers.

Topping options:
Sauteed onions and bell peppers.

Vegetable: onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, kale, and zucchini

Margarita: basil pesto instead of tomato sauce, tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil

The pizzas were delicious, and I love that fact that every single topping, except for the mozzarella cheese, was from our garden! We are down to one last jar of tomato sauce and one last jar of basil pesto from last year’s harvest!

Kale

This is the first year we’ve grown kale, and I must say it has done surprisingly well. Early this spring I had a problem with it being eaten by grasshoppers and worms, but once we got past that stage it was smooth sailing.

Now we can harvest as much as we can eat! We put it in everything from smoothies and stir-fry to soup and lasagna. Every now and then I make kale chips for us to snack on. It was starting to slow down its growth with the hot weather we’ve had lately, so I harvested a whole lot. I blanched it in boiling water and froze it to use this winter!

Kale Chips:

These are so easy to make and you can customize them for your palate! Wash your kale and tear it into pieces about 2-3 inches large. Mix a little bit of olive oil, a little lemon juice, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Massage the oil mixture into the kale before spreading it out on a baking sheet. Bake at 200 until the chips get dehydrated and crispy – usually 30 minutes to an hour – stirring occasionally. Store uneaten chips in the refrigerator and eat within one week.

Strawberry Lavender Lemonade

There has certainly been a heat wave this week. It is consistently above 80 degrees in our house and the humidity has been hovering between 50-80% recently. I realized that 80 degrees doesn’t compare to the sweltering heat found around the rest of the country, but we don’t have air conditioning in our house so we can’t get away from the heat and humidity. It is starting to feel a bit oppressive, so yesterday I made us a nice drink to try and beat the heat.

Strawberry Lavender Lemonade

Ingredients:

  • Several ripe strawberries
  • Lemon juice (freshly squeezed or concentrate)
  • Lavender blossoms (fresh or dried)
  • Sugar
  • Mint leaves (optional)
Start by making a simple lavender syrup. Mix 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Add in approximately 1/4 cup of lavender blossoms and simmer for 5-10 minutes. The syrup should begin to pick up a nice purple color from the lavender. Strain the blossoms from the syrup and allow it to cool. {You will have plenty of lavender syrup left over from the lemonade to use for future recipes. Keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It is nice to add to soda water for a refreshing treat.} Mix 3 cups of water, 1/4 – 1/2 cup lemon juice, and sliced strawberries. Mix in as much lavender syrup as you would like to sweeten your lemonade. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and enjoy!