Thursday, September 17, 2015

Apple Pie Slices

This recipe was passed down to me by my husband's Grandmother.  She is turning 97 in November of this year.  She still lives on her own, bakes treats nearly every day, watches my munchkins occasionally, hosts meals at her home.  She is truly a miraculous human being.  I love her immensely.

Anyway, I'll get right to the recipe.

To make the crust:

2 cups of all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 egg yolk (SAVE the egg white!  You use it brush on the top crust before baking!)
1 cup of shortening
1 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of milk

To make the apple filling:

4 apples - any kind, peeled and diced
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Icing Glaze:

3/4 cups of Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon butter
pinch of salt
and then milk to consistency.  Usually no more than a teaspoon or so.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Ok, mix up the ingredients for the pie crust.  Divide it in 2.

Line a pizza pan with wax paper.  Take 1/2 of the dough and flatten it out all the way to the edges just like you would a pizza crust.  Pick it up and set it aside.  Grease the pan well.  Put the other half of the dough into the pan and flatten it out.

Now you have your top and bottom crust.

Chop up your apples, toss with sugar, flour, and cinnamon.

Spread over the bottom crust.

Add the top crust.

Pinch together the edges.

Brush the top crust with your left over egg white.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  THEN, turn down to 350 and bake an ADDITIONAL 40-45 minutes.

Pull it out of the oven, make your glaze, apply it while pie is hot, cut, and serve.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Meat and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Ever since our early dating years, this recipe has long since been a favorite of my husband's.  In fact, it was what I had fixed for dinner that Valentine's evening, oh so long ago, when he popped the question of marriage.  Since then, it's always been a special recipe to pull out occasionally when I want to shower my family with a little extra food love.  This is the recipe I alluded to when I wrote the Stuffed Spinach Rolls recipe.

This recipe makes 2 baking dishes full.  I freeze one, or give one away, and bake the other for dinner.  Add in a side of Garlic Toast and you're eatin' GOOD!

You'll need:

1 box of large shells
2 pound of ground meat - turkey, beef, chicken, Italian sausage, etc.
1 pound container of ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Parmesan cheese
2 jars of spaghetti sauce
1 pound of shredded mozzarella

First of all, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the shells according to package directions.

While that's going, brown the meat of your choice, and drain fat.

Chop onion and add to the meat. Cook til translucent.  Pour in 2 jars of spaghetti sauce.  You can use any you like.  I prefer our homemade sauce, but any you like is fine!

In bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, about a 1/4 cup of parm cheese, garlic powder, about a 1/4 tsp of basil and oregano, and about a 1/2 cup of mozzerella.  Mix up well.

In a baking dish, add just enough sauce to cover the bottom.

Spoon a tablespoon of cheese mixture into each shell, followed by a spoonful of meat sauce.

I use a slotted spoon so that there is less sauce and more meat to spoon into the shell.

Set into the pan with open side up.  Squeeze as many as you can into your pan.

Cover with meat sauce.

Top with shredded Mozzarella Cheese.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, or until cheese to brown and bubbly to your liking.


Homemade Garlic Toast

This was actually my husband's idea.  I resisted for the longest time thinking there was no way I could make it as tasty as the store bought stuff.  Turns out I was wrong!  This is WAY cheaper too!

You'll need:

2 loaves of french bread.  I picked them up from Walmart on their day old section for 39 cents a piece.  You can get plain, garlic and herb, or other flavors.

3 sticks of REAL butter

2 teaspoons of garlic powder (click link for how to make homemade garlic powder)

 In a bowl, slightly warm the butter til it's soft, but not fully melted.  I put mine in a stainless steel bowl and floated it in a sink of hot water until it was just right.  Add in the garlic, (you can use more or less if you prefer) mix it up good.

Slice up the bread.

I used a pastry brush to add a thick glob of garlic butter to each slice.

Place on a baking sheet and pop in the freezer for about an hour.

Then place in a bag or container to store until use.

To bake, warm at 400 for 10-15 minutes depending your personal preference.  I like mine soft and warm.  Some prefer it crusty.  Bake to what you like.  :)  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dehydrated Garlic Powder and Minced Garlic

A friend grew too much garlic last year and here it is spring and she wanted to get rid of a bunch!  I bought it off of her for 50 cents a bulb.  They were really big too!  And Organic!  However, they had tiny sprouts on them so I needed to do something with all of it fast.  I borrowed another friend's dehydrator and got to work!  I was not disappointed with how this turned out!

I started off with 20 giant bulbs of garlic and peeled them all.

Then I sliced them all up.  Not paper thin, just ..... sliced them and kept them as uniformly the same size as possible and laid them out on the trays.

I did not let the scraps go to waste!  I put them in a pot of chicken bone broth I had going at the time.


Then I dehydrated the garlic at 95 degrees for approximately 10 hours.  That time will vary depending on thickness.  Also, you could crank up the temp a bit too, but I set it up and went to bed.

Once it was dried, I then just put it in my little food chopper and whizzed it up.  I used a mesh strainer to sort out the pieces from the powder.  I then put the pieces of garlic back in, added more garlic, and whizzed some more.  Once I got tired of all that whizzing, I deemed some minced garlic and the rest garlic powder.

I then stored it in glass jars with lids.  I considered adding a few grains of rice to absorb any moisture, sort of like you do with your salt shaker, but I decided I'd first wait and see if I had any clumping issues first.  So far I've not.  It's been over a week and it's still nice and powdery.  But there's always that option too.

I went on to do the same with my onions!  It's so awesome to make a recipe and just grab a handful of dried garlic and onions and toss them in instead of having to peel and slice!  It makes whipping something up even easier!


Monday, March 2, 2015

Cabbage and Chicken Sausages

I was starving this morning and decided to raid the fridge and make up a quick concoction.  I've been craving fresh veggies lately.  Which is normal for me as we approach spring.  This came together very quickly.

All you need is:

Cabbage (about 1/4 of a small head)
Sweet Bell Pepper (about 1/3 of a large red pepper)
Onion (1 small onion)
Mushroom (3-4 mushrooms)
Sausage links of choice.  Italian, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, whatever.  I'm thinking here of the brat, herb seasoned sausages.  That's what I had anyway.  I had mozzarella stuffed, herb seasoned, chicken sausages. (I used 2)

I just diced up the cabbage, onion, peppers, and mushrooms and threw them in a pan with a little oil (your choice....coconut works great! So does butter!), sliced up 2 sausages and threw it all in the pan together, simmered on medium until the cabbage and onions became translucent.  (About 15 minutes)  Done.  Salt and pepper to taste!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

More Than A Decade of Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I devoured all the books I could get my hands on.  I read every book on pregnancy, natural childbirth, and breastfeeding that I knew existed.   I took the breastfeeding class that was offered at the hospital.  As well as a private Bradley Birth course, and even a water birth class offered at the hospital too!  I had my plan to birth naturally in water at the hospital with which ever Certified Nurse Midwife was on duty and we'd blissfully breastfeed without issue because I'd read all the books and knew all the tricks.

Well.....reality did not happen that way.  I had a c-section.  I struggled with postpartum depression and flat nipples causing nursing to be very painful and difficult.  I incorrectly used the pump offered at the hospital and it rubbed blisters on my nipples.  I was left cracked, bleeding, engorged, staples in my abdomen, a baby that wasn't sucking properly, and nurses on staff that just wanted to give her a bottle and had no experience breastfeeding.

The 2nd day of her life I finally relented and allowed them to take her to the nursery and they gave her a bottle.  I was told she sucked it down no problem and was sleeping peacefully.  I cried as I walked the halls with my husband and felt like a failure.  A friend visited us just after I'd pumped some milk and asked why my milk was orange.  She had breastfed her kids but never seen orange milk before.  That was weird.  Maybe it was from all the orange juice they'd given me in the hospital.  (It wasn' was because it was colostrum.  AKA liquid gold!)

On the 3rd day it was finally a Monday.  A Lactation Consultant came on staff and worked with us before we were released to go home.  I still remember the moment she told me she was swallowing my milk and I'd just had a "let down" (milk ejection reflex).  I hadn't noticed as I was preoccupied by the period like cramping as my uterus was apparently contracting due to the nipple stimulation.  I looked at my baby and saw her little jaws working hard as she swallowed rapidly.

We went home and continued on our journey.  Many trips were made back to the Lactation Consultant over the following weeks.  I was given a nipple shield that added to our drama as then my baby would not nurse without it and I had to figure out how to wean her back to just the breast.  I spent 4 weeks in excruciating pain as my nipples stretched out and we worked out this breastfeeding thing.  Knowing I also needed to pump and work on a stash of frozen milk for when I went back to work at just 8 weeks postpartum, added to the stress.  As did the loss of the birth I had envisioned.  I think possibly the ONLY reason we made it through was because I was absolutely determined that since I didn't get to birth my baby the way I had wanted, that by golly, I was gonna feed this baby the way my body was intended to feed her!

I looked for a support group like La Leche League to join and there was none around.  Well meaning family members told me of their breastfeeding failures of big babies and not enough milk, as well as of how I was creating bad habits holding and sleeping near my baby.

I was exhausted.  My baby would only sleep in my arms.  I tried all the tricks to get her to sleep in that nursery we'd put so much time and effort into, yet she would have none of it.  We finally gave up trying and just left her with us.  It was the first time we all got sleep.  Sweet, glorious, peaceful sleep.

After a while I started getting comments from others that breastfeeding was gross, that co sleeping was going to destroy my marriage by letting the baby into our beds and ruining our sex life.  When I would attempt to defend my choices by pointing out how other cultures cared for their babies, I was told that they were spiritually dark and deceived.   It's unbelievable the things that our current culture has warped in regards to our family dynamics and stolen from us.  Many of them in the name of Christianity and all things biblical.  I desperately wanted to find support for our journey.  It seemed I was the only person in the United States making the choices that we were.

I had set out to breastfeed for the recommended 6 months, but then I learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics had recently changed their recommendations to a year!  So then I thought, "Well....maybe I'll go to a year then."  THEN, I found out that the World Health Organization recommended 2 years!!!!  I honestly didn't think I could nurse that long but filed away the info anyway.

We moved just before my baby's first birthday.  I was SO excited to learn that our new location had numerous La Leche League groups that met up.  One even had a Toddler and Tandem group that met regularly!  Finally, I had found others like me and I was no longer alone.  I nearly cried with joy and relief.

Thanks to all that breastfeeding, I didn't get pregnant with my 2nd child until my baby was 21 months old.  It was a bit trying at times as my nipples were quite sore.  Over time it got better though.  I found that it actually hurt less the more often I nursed.  I guess the hormones helped reduce soreness somehow.  We nursed through most of that pregnancy only getting a couple of weeks break towards the end before the baby was born and my older baby returned to nursing at some point.  That birth, by the way, was a home birth attended by an amazing midwife that supported my desires to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean.

I felt much more prepared for breastfeeding this time, though I did still have sore nipples the first couple of weeks.  Turns out that no matter how experienced mom is, it's still a brand new skill for the baby and takes some practice to get it right.

My oldest is getting ready to turn 12 this year.  I've now breastfed 5 children until they all naturally weaned between 2 1/2 - 5 years old.  One of them is still nursing and is only 8 months old.  Which means I've been lactating for well over a decade at this point and often nursing 2 children at a time.  So here's what I've learned.

  • Breastfeeding is a lifestyle.  Almost more so than it is simply a feeding choice.
  • I don't remember the last time I wore a non nursing bra or sports bra.  
  • My wardrobe is put together based on how easily accessible my breasts are.  
  • Dresses have no place in my life at all.  
  • Nursing shirts are worth their weight in gold as they are pretty and easily disguise my ultimate goal of "whipping out" my breast discreetly in a moment's notice.
  • My children are well attached to me and their dad and will not stay with a babysitter for at least the first year.  Sometimes longer.  They simply are not ready to be away from us and no one else can take our place.
  • With 5 babies, breastfeeding and cosleeping clearly has not destroyed our marriage.  If you are only able to have sex in your bed and your child is hampering that, then your sex life is boring and you could use a little spice.  Be adventurous!   
  • It's been over 12 years since I've slept more than a 2 hour stretch without being awakened.  At first it was bathroom trips in pregnancy, which I now call training for real life as a mom.  Now it's to roll over and put a boob in a kid's mouth and fall back to sleep without ever opening my eyes.
  • I don't know how often my baby nurses nor for how long.  I've never counted.  When the doctor asks I simply say I don't know, but apparently it's enough.
  • I nurse on demand and have mostly missed the last two babies growth spurts until they stopped nursing constantly and I felt engorged. Then I realized they were sleeping more and must have had a growth spurt.
  • I've awakened with a baby attached to my boob and not remembered doing that, but I must have, because it happened.
  • I have permanent headlights.  Which is shocking to me since I had flat nipples pre-kids.
  • It's freaky how far my nipples can stretch now.  I wonder if there's a Guinness Book of World Records category for this? 
  • The best way to talk on the phone is while nursing.  Assuming I MUST talk on the phone, that is.
  • I've attended Nurse In's and I loved it.
  • The best and only book one really needs to read is The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
  • I've breastfed in just about every place imaginable. Yes, including in public and in church.  And no, I don't cover my kids' head with a blanket.
  • I've never had anyone say something rude to me for nursing in public, although once in Meijer a male employee offered to get me some water.  He said his wife just had a baby and he knew how thirsty she gets that maybe I was too.  :)
  • I've learned the best way to keep a baby from crying is to breastfeed.  Milk cures everything.  Loneliness, spills, falls, sadness, disappointments, boo boos, sickness, everything.
  • I've also learned that milk really does cure EVERYTHING!  Eczema, pink eye, earaches, you name it.  Put a little breast milk on that!
  • Support is probably the most important make it or break it to your breastfeeding journey.  If at all possible, find a local La Leche League Group.
  • Misinformation is the biggest contributor to failed breastfeeding relationships.
  • Chiropractic and/or Cranio Sacral Therapy are amazing tools that every baby (and mother) can benefit from in their nursing journey.  
  • Having breastfeeding babies that snuggle so well is a huge perk when mom isn't feeling well.  Typically the little one will nap more and stay right with you nursing so you can get more rest too.
  • I can't even imagine what my life will look like when I no longer have a child breastfeeding.  As I approach 40 though, I know it will happen eventually.  
  • I will never regret the time I've spent holding and nursing my babies.
This post came about as I thought about how many other moms there are out there that have had a similar journey.  Or, that may be in a similar place.  It's not commonly heard of to be a mom that's nursed for so much of their life.  Yet I know we exist.  :)  Speak up and share your wisdom and support with others.

**Be aware that I am an affiliate for some items.  If you order through my links, it does NOT change your price, but I do get a small portion of the sale.**

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Art of Bone Broths

Bone broths are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet.  Especially important and pretty darn essential for those of us following the Cure Tooth Decay diet and working to optimize our, and our children's health and teeth.

A few months back I read a recipe online that called for broth and it instructed the cook to make homemade broth by boiling up some chicken meat for an hour or two and use that liquid as their broth for the recipe.  I just about fell out of my chair with the realization that some people really consider that broth.  I then polled my friends on Facebook on how long they cook their broth.

There were lots of different times ranging from a couple of hours to days.  Me, I'm on the days end.  So what I've come to realize is that I have actually been making BONE broths all this time rather than just simply broth.  Assuming, of course, that there are bones to be boiled and not just meat.  I think there in lies one of the biggest distinguishers.  For the purpose of healthy bones, we want the minerals from the animal bones we are making broth from.

Also, how nutritionally dense your broth will be, will depend on how long you let it simmer to reduce the water content.  Beef bone broth requires a longer cook time than poultry.  People that are having trouble getting their beef broth to taste right should maybe try letting it cook for another day or so and add a bit of salt.  That usually works like magic.

Then the next question is....HOW do we get our kids to eat broth?  A little creativity can go a long way here.  Some people actually like a nice hot steaming glass of broth.  Some do not.  My kids, not so much.  However, they BEG for gravy with just about every meal!  So I make bone broth gravy.  I also do the traditional broths for soup like chicken and vegetable soups or something.  But I also hide it as much stuff as I can.  When I cook up rice (only once or twice a month), I cook it in bone broth.  Boil potatoes in bone broth, then strain off that liquid to mash and reuse it to make gravy. Saute veggies in broth.  Cook eggs in a bit of broth.

Seriously, there are TONS of ways to incorporate bone broths.  Even Popsicles!  Just use a bit of imagination and you'll be surprised at what you come up with.

We do a lot of whole chickens in our family.  I usually save all the bones, skin, juice, etc from one whole chicken in the freezer and wait until I have two to start my broth.  Once I have two whole carcasses, I then throw it all in a crockpot, cover with water, turn it on low and let it go.  Typically this would get started after dinner.  Then next morning I fill it back up to the top with water.  I do that each morning.  On the third morning I will let it simmer on low until about the same time of day as I started it, then turn it off and let it cool a bit, strain out the bones in a colander over a big bowl.  Once it's cooled more to safely stick it in the fridge overnight, I do.  The next morning I skim off the fat that has risen to the top and hardened.  Then I portion it up and put it in containers to freeze, or reheat it and transfer to sanitized jars and pressure can it.

So to recap:

2 carcasses of whole chickens, or 1 turkey, or a whole bunch of chicken bones of whatever parts you have


a crockpot

3 days time.  Cover bones with water and set on low.  Refill with water each morning for 3 mornings.  On the 3rd day, after simmering all day, drain broth from bones, cool in fridge, skim off hardened fat on top, and store.

The end.