Homemade Corn Chips

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This is a super easy recipe for homemade tortilla chips from my mother-in-law.  You can season them with various spices, sweet or spicy, which make them very versatile for parties.

Ingredients

  • 1 package of small corn tortillas (soft)
  • cooking spray
  • salt

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 450F.
  2. Cut tortillas across, into 8 pieces. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay the triangles individually on the pan (don’t stack them). Spray the tops with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Add any extra seasoning you’d like.
  3. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned. You’ll notice some are done before others, so take them out to prevent burning. There is a fine line between chewy – done – too hard, so be sure to watch the chips.
  4. Store in an air-tight container for up to a few days.
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homemade peanut butter

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Homemade peanut butter is one of the easiest things to make. I like it because I can control what goes into it (take a look at a jar of skippy peanut butter once…). Be sure to use roasted peanuts or roast your own raw peanuts (raw peanuts can contain aflatoxin) I always make it plain, but you could flavor it however you’d like (honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, chocolate, strawberries, banana, etc…). If you add anything to the peanut butter, it would be a good idea to keep it in the refrigerator. If you just use peanuts, you can keep it in the pantry. Since it is natural peanut butter, the oils may separate – THIS IS OK!! Just stir before serving so you don’t get to the bottom and have a hard chunk of mashed peanuts.

Ingredients

  • 16 oz container of unsalted, roasted peanuts

Directions

  1. Pour the peanuts into the food processor. Process for about 5 minutes. First the peanuts with be chopped up, then it will be a powder, and eventually it will ball up. When it is a ball it will make a lot of noise, but don’t stop it yet! After a minute or so, the ball will smooth out and you’ll have peanut butter.  The longer you process it, the smoother it will be.
  2. Once the peanut butter is smooth, you can add in any extras you’d like.
  3. Store in a canning jar in the pantry (or refrigerator if you are adding ingredients besides chopped nuts).

Crock Pot Green Bean Casserole

Here is a simple made-from-scratch green bean casserole recipe. There are notes at the bottom to make this even easier.

crockpot green bean casseroleCrock Pot Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of green beans (can also use yellow beans), cleaned and trimmed.
  • 1/2 large onion diced, or 1 small onion
  • 20 ounces ground beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 ounces of freshly sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups of 2%  milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • cornstarch (as needed)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Spray a 6qt crock pot with cooking spray.
  2. Slice with food processor or chop into cut beans. Add enough beans to fill the crock pot  1/2 way.
  3. *In a large pan, brown the ground beef with 1/2 of a diced onion. Add to the crock pot.
  4. **Add 1 tbsp of oil to the same pan and sautee the mushrooms. Remove from heat.
  5. **In a measuring cup, add 1/2 cup milk. While stirring with a whisk, add 1/2 cup flour and mix well to prevent clumping. Add the remaining 1.5 cups of milk and stir well.  Add to the mushrooms in the pan and return to heat. Add salt and pepper (just guess – maybe 1/4 tsp each). Stirring continuously, bring the mixture to a boil. Continue to stir and cook for one more minute to thicken the mixture. If the mixture isn’t thickening, cook for another 1-2  minutes. If it still seems runny, sprinkle cornstarch and stir well. Only do this a little at a time. Once thickened, remove from heat and add to the crock pot
  6. Mix everything together. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Top with breadcrumbs or crunch french onions when serving.

*If you are short on time, you could just add the meat directly to the crock pot. This is a little risky since there is a chance the meat will sit in the “danger zone” longer than it should and bacteria present on the meat could grow. People do this all the time and don’t get sick, but I just feel better about browning it first. If you put the meat in the crockpot uncooked, try to cook the first 2 hours on high and then reduce the heat to low for the remaining 4 hours.

**if you are short on time, you can skip steps 4 and 5. Instead, just use 1 cup of milk, 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, and 1 can of sliced mushrooms. Mix in a bowl and add to the crock pot.

Beef Stock

When we purchased our 1/2 cow they offered us bones for soup broth. We took them, of course (we’re cheap), but I never got the urge to make broth, so they have sat in the freezer for months. Last weekend I was going through the freezer to see how much meat we had left and I stumbled on a few packages of bones. I decided it was time to make broth. To my surprise, there was actually a lot of good meat still on the bones, so we ended up with 3 cups of shredded beef for J’s lunches as well.

Broth is one of the easiest things to make. Pour bones, vegetables, and water into a crock pot. Cook on low all day. Let cool overnight and skim off the fat. Done.

Crock-Pot Beef Broth
From Nom Nom Paleo

Ingredients

  • 3 packages (about 3 pounds) of beef bones
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (apple cider works well)
  • 3 garlic scapes (1/2-1 tbsp garlic powder would work too)
  • 2 cups misc. vegetables (carrots, celery, onions), diced
  • Water

Directions

  1. Place everything above, except the water, in the crockpot. Fill the crock-pot about 80% of the way with water. Place on low heat and hook for 8 hours (or longer).
  2. Remove the bones from the crockpot. If there is meat on the bones, take it off and shred it up for sandwiches.
  3. Push all the marrow out of the bones. This was absolutely disgusting, but necessary since the marrow has a lot of nutrients in it.
  4. With a whisk, mix up the mixture and dissolve the marrow.
  5. Pour the mixture through a strainer into a glass bowl. This will remove all the large pieces of vegetables or meat.
  6. Place the broth mixture in the refrigerator overnight. in the morning it will look like this:
    beef brothbeef broth (2)
  7. Skim off the fat and discard the fat.beef broth (3)
  8. Pour the remaining mixture into freezer bags and freeze until needed. We did quart bags since that is a common size we would need for a large batch of soup.
     

 

 

 

Bigger Wallet, Smaller Waist

Here are some website I have found with great tips on eating well while staying on budget:

  • Eat Well for $36/wk with some tips from You.Beauty! Eating healthy doesn’t have to cost much. It just takes a little planning and strategy.
  • I hate that I buy canned beans. Dry beans are so cheap and simple to prepare. The problem is that it feels like such a task to soak them ahead of time. I usually forget and need the beans NOW. Thankfully, Ella at Naturalla Ella as some helpful tips on how to freeze those beans so they are ready when you need them!
  • Whenever we make soup, we do it in the crock pot (why work if you don’t have to) and we make so much that we can freeze over half. This saves us time and money. The Kitchn has some great tips to “Freeze First, Eat Second.”
  • Looking to try canning this year? Old Fashioned Families has some great tips on how to prepare for and can produce from your garden!
  • More Ella I seriously LOVE her blog. She has some great tips on canning you should check out. We plan to use some of these recipes in late summer when our tomatoes and cucumbers are going crazy!
  • Have you ever thought about feeding your family with your garden, but weren’t sure where to start? Becky at Your Modern Family has a great post with tips to get you started
  • Oh Ella…did I mention I love this blog? Oh yes, just a minute ago. Well, this post is great too. It has tons of tips for homemade staples and how to stock your pantry.
  • Last, but certainly not least – Mavis. She blogs at One Hundred Dollars a Month (yes, it is what you are thinking – she feeds her family with $100/mo) and has more tips and tricks than you could ever imagine. If you are ever looking for fresh-from-the-garden recipes, tips and tricks for gardening, or ways to save money, this blog should be your first stop. She also raises chickens and travels all over, so there really is never a dull post.

4 Delicious Soups!

4 Delicious Soups from 101cookbooks. Here is what Heidi writes –

– A Simple Tomato Soup: Pictured here – A simple tomato soup recipe inspired by a Melissa Clark recipe – pureed, warmly spiced, and perfect topped with everything from toasted almonds and herbs, to coconut cream or a poached egg.

– Pumpkin and Rice Soup: This was the pumpkin soup I made first-thing after arriving home from India last October – it has an herby butter drizzle and lemon ginger pulp. I serve it over a good amount of brown rice with a dollop plain yogurt.

– Coconut Red Lentil Soup: If emails are any indication, this is certainly one of the more popular soup recipes with all of you. Inspired by an Ayurvedic dal recipe in the Esalen Cookbook, it is a light-bodied, curry-spiced coconut broth thickened with cooked red lentils and structured with yellow split peas. It has back notes of ginger, slivered green onions sauteed in butter, and curry-plumped raisins. It also relies on an interested cooking method to bring it all together.

– Posole in Broth: My style of posole. This version has a vegetable broth base, lots of blossoming corn kernels, avocado and mung beans. It’s topped with plenty of chopped olives and toasted almonds.

Beer Bread

photo (7)I made this bread and wanted to share a picture and some notes.

All in all, the bread is pretty good. It is SUPER easy to make, which is a plus. It took less than 10 minutes to mix things together and get it into the oven. It was extremely moist and had a wonderful texture. The beer bitterness took some getting used to, but after a few slices I was hooked. I could see how it would be really good with a cheesy dip (stay tuned for a semi-healthy cheesy dip in the near future, hopefully).

The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of butter but states you can get away for 1/4 cup. Honestly, you could get away with 1/8 cup (2 TBSP). This was SUPER buttery and I can’t imagine what it would be like with twice what I used.

Be sure to shift the flour (or at least fluff with a fork). The original recipe has many notes from people who tried the bread and it was too dense.

I plan to to try this recipe again soon with a few modifications – less butter and the addition of some tasty herbs. I’ll update again if I have anything new to share about it.

Note: the beer was DELICIOUS and I recommend you all try it if you ever end up in Hayward, WI. It is brewed by the Angry Minnow.

DIY Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has been “all the craze” for past few years. I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and am at the point that I am making a conscious effort not to (so.hard.to.resist). The whole thing just feels way too much like a marketing/foodie/hipster fad that I can see right through. The part that makes me laugh is how people never buy plain, unsweetened yogurt to eat (except me and J, I guess), but then the second it has Greek tagged to the front and enough foodies are blogging about it, everyone talks about how much they love this tangy/sour yogurt. Really, Greek yogurt is just normal yogurt with more water removed, making it thicker (and ultimately has more protein per spoonful). That’s it. If you like that, great! If not, don’t feel like you need to jump on the bandwagon anytime soon…I’ll be back here if you need some company.

One thing we can all agree on is that Greek yogurt is expensive. Like, really expensive (this is where the marketing conspiracy theory comes in…). If you are money conscience like me, but love your Greek yogurt, stop over at Mel’s Kitchen to learn how to make homemade Greek Yogurt. Her recipe is very similar to my earlier post “EASY homemade yogurt” but with tips on how to make it thicker. Enjoy!

EASY Homemade Yogurt

This is probably the coolest thing I have ever done with my slow cooker! Yes, that is right, I made yogurt in my slow cooker. I am so excited to tell everyone about this!

I found the recipe at A Year of Slow Cooking. It is a blog documenting a woman’s challenge to use her slow cooker everyday for a year. I think this is the coolest thing ever, since we are all so busy and rarely ever have time to cook good family meals. Plus, the slow cooker is much cheaper to run than an over – it only costs about 2 cents per hour!

Now, on the yogurt, The recipe is for whole milk (AKA vitamin D milk, which by the way has no more vitamin D in it than regular milk) but anyone who knows me knows that I would probably never even consider of purchasing whole milk. At the end of the recipe, Stephanie (the author of the blog mentioned above) mentions you can use unflavored gelatin with a lower fat milk. She also mentions you can strain runny yogurt with a cheesecloth or coffee filters. We had skim milk in the house (of course) so despite all of the warnings on her website about using whole milk for your first time, I decided I try the recipe with skim milk and unflavored gelatin.

The result was a little runny, so I let it sit overnight in a colander lined with coffee filters that I put into a big bowl. If you do this you want to make sure that the colander is not touching the bottom of the bowl – if it is, the liquid won’t be able to go anywhere! If the colander is too big for the bowl, your yogurt may strain into your refrigerator; you could place the colander on a smaller bowl and then place all of this into a larger bowl to catch any extra liquid.

I did loose about 1-2 cups of liquid, so the skim milk version does not make all 8 cups. If you really wanted to stick to skim milk, you could add some powdered milk and/or more gelatin to the recipe. This should help thicken the liquid up.Regardless, this is WAY cheaper than purchasing yogurt at the store. We buy 32oz plain yogurt tubs at Aldi’s for $1.60, which is an amazing deal (it would be $3 or so at Jewel Osco). We buy 1 gallon of milk for $1.89 at Aldis and the gelatin was about 25 cents a packet. Basically, we got about 2 tubs of yogurt for $1.15. I am going to try this with 2% milk next time; I think it will get a much higher yield.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 qt crock pot
  • 8 cups (half-gallon) of milk
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 bath towels

 Directions
  1. Turn your crockpot on low and add the milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
  2. Unplug the crockpot after the 2 1/2 hours and let sit for 3 hours.
  3. Remove 2 cups of milk from the crockpot and replace the lid. Pour the milk into a bowl and add 1 packet of unflavored gelatin (if using low-fat milk) and 1/2 cup yogurt. Whisk well and pour back into crock pot. Whisk everything in the crockpot well and replace the lid.
  4. Cover the crockpot with towels. Let stand 8-9 hours.
  5. If the yogurt is runny, line a colander with coffee filters or a cheesecloth. Place this into a bowl or pot so that the calendar is not touching the bottom. Scoop the yogurt onto the filters. Let stand in the refrigerator until it reaches the desired consistency. The yogurt closest to the filters will be thicker than the yogurt on top, so you can mix it together for an intermediate consistency.
  6. Scoop into containers and store in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. Reserve 1/4 cup for your next batch.

Bread, Cheese, and Wine

Flat Bread (from “The Best of Cooking Light: Everyday Favorites”
Ingredients:
– 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
– 1 cup warm water (100-110F)
– 1 package dry yeast
– 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
– salt
– garlic powder

Directions
1. Combine whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup water, and yeast in a dish and let stand 10 minutes.
2. Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp salt, and reamining water into a bowl. Add yeast mixture and stir until dough forms. Knead dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes, adding the reaminnig all-purpose flour as needed.
3. Place dough in an oil-greased bowl, cover with a dish towel, and place in the oven (or any other draft-free location) to let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
4. When dough is done, remove from the oven and prehead over to 450F.
5. Punch down dough and let rest 5 minutes. Divide in half and roll each into the desired shape.
6. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Bake for 10 minute, or until crisp. Serve with cheese spread, or top with marinated vegetables.


Herbed Cream Cheese Spread

Ingredients:
– 1 packaged of neufchatel cheese
– 1 tbsp minced garlic
– 2 tbsp minced basil
– 1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes

Directions
1. In a food processor blend all of the ingredients together. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash of olive oil.

Wine

Ingredients:
– Your choice of wine (I chose my favorite: Sauvingon Blanc)

Directions:
1. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy

*Blacksmith Inn on the Shore is where Jason and I spent a few days of our honeymoon. It is located in Door County, Wisconsin and is probably the cutest place I have ever been. I highly recommend it.