Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Healthy Biscuit Success!

So last week my post contained a reference to Sweet Potato Biscuits, which drew some comments. Well we have officially amended the recipe and it was a success!

 As mentioned before, I used Lisa's recipe here on 100 Days of Real Food as a reference to modify the sweet potato biscuit recipe that I found. (Side note, I love, love, love Lisa's blog and totally admire her commitment to real food! I am going to seriously analyze her recent posts on real food on a $125 a week budget! Even she said it was tough. And did you realize full food stamps benefits are worth $167 a week??? Now I don't feel so bad when I can't get out of the grocery for less than $200.)

 So here is what I did.

 Sweet Potato Whole Wheat Easy Biscuits
1 enormous sweet potato (carefully selected by my 8 year old Daisy) baked to near perfection, cooled and then scooped out
2 cups of whole wheat flour (I did not use white whole wheat flour which seems to be a little lighter, but it still worked)
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of butter, cut into a small dice
about 1 cup of milk. (this was totally based on judgement, I started with 1/2 cup as I thought the sweet potato would add moisture, I think I ended up using more than a cup as my dough seemed a little dry, but start small you can always add more, it is much harder to take it away)

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees F Combined flour, baking soda and salt with whisk. Cut butter dices into the flour mixture until crumbly and well mixed. Add sweet potato puree, gently. Hand mix at this point and add milk bit by bit to form a somewhat sticky dough. Then turn the dough out on the floured counter, knead a little bit. Hand pat out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Then i hate wasting dough, so I just cut into squares or the equivalent. Bake on an ungreased (or in my case silicon lined) cookie sheet for about 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

 My batch took about 15 minutes as the extra moisture took longer and they were still very moist inside! This made about 20 good sized biscuits that were delicious warm with a little melted butter. YUMMMMO!

We ate half and froze the rest for another meal! PHOTO TO COME!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Homeschool Help - Multiplication Copywork

In trying to help my kids memorize their math facts, flash cards and quiz sheets have not been a lot of success.  So I started to look for copywork that would include math facts.

Through research online, I found a few resources, but either I did not like how they were divided, or the font was too small, or they were just too costly.  So I created my own.

I have posted the multiplication facts on my blog and they are free for all to share.

The document is a pdf file with a different set of facts on each page.  The document includes the multiplication facts for 2 through 12.  You can print off whatever page you want to work on at that time until your child gets the facts down.

I am a big fan of copywork as it reinforces in the memory the correct answer or spelling or fact unlike flash cards that often reinforce wrong answers!

As I have a lefty coming up, I will be creating a left-handed version with the facts on the right soon.  I also have an addition version on its way!

If you share my sheets, please link directly back to my blog!  Thanks!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lenten Soups 2012 Week 2

So despite my cooking slump,  here are the menus for week 2 of Lenten soups.

Thursday, Mar 1- crock day
White Bean and Ham Soup

Friday, Mar 2 - fish day Fish fry cancelled due to weather.
(I don't want to go out either so I will do pasta.)
Baked Ziti with Roasted Vegetables
Garlic Bread

Saturday, Mar 3- leftovers

Sunday, Mar 4 - feast day and meet day
hmmm?? I have no ideas.  I will have to come back and edit.

Monday, Mar 5 - crock day
Hearty Lentil Soup
Sweet Potato Biscuits

Tuesday, Mar 6
Sirloin Chili

Wednesday, Mar 7 - crock day
Slow Cooker Chunky Minestrone
Parmesan Breadsticks


White Bean and Ham Soup
2 meaty smoked ham hocks (1 1/2 lbs)
1lb dried white beans
2 qt. low sodium chicken broth
4 ribs of chopped celery
4 carrots cut crosswise into rounds
1 large onion, chopped
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
12 sprigs of fresh thyme plus leaves for garnishing
salt and pepper
1 loaf of crusty bread sliced

1. In a large slow cooker, combine ham hocks, beans, broth,
celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and thyme sprigs.  Cover and cook
on low until beans are tender, about 5 hours.

2. Discard thyme stems.  Remove ham hocks and shred off meaty
 parts.  Mash garlic cloves with back of spoon into soup.  Discard skins.
Return shredded ham to soup.  Season with salt and pepper.

3. Serve with bread and garnish soup with thyme leaves!

Baked Ziti with Roasted Vegetables
10 ounces ziti pasta
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
28-ounce can diced tomatoes with basil, undrained
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

[1] In a large bowl, toss eggplant, zucchini and onion with half of the olive oil. 

Spread in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking 
spray. Roast and stir occasionally until well-browned and tender, about 25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

[1] Meanwhile, Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until cooked through

 but still firm to the bite. Drain and set aside.

[2] Add tomatoes, thyme and rosemary to skillet with half olive oil and simmer 5 minutes. 

Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and 
garlic powder and mix well. Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish*.

[3] Top with half of the cooked ziti. Top with half of the cheese mixture and veggies. Top 
with 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Repeat layers with the remaining ziti and remaining cheese 
mixture and veggies.

[4] Top with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Cover with foil 

and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until cheese is golden and bubbly.

* For 2-4 servings use an 8x8 dish, for 6-8 servings use a 13x9 dish.

Note: use fresh herbs instead, if you have them.

Hearty Lentil Soup - Crock Style

Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 4 hours

1white onion , chopped
2carrots , peeled and diced
2stalks celery, sliced
2teaspoons garlic, minced
1bay leaf
1teaspoon dried oregano
1/2teaspoon ground cumin
1teaspoon dried basil
2cups dried lentils
4cups water
4cups vegetable broth
114.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained
2cups fresh spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2tablespoons white vinegar
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
[1] In a crock pot, add onion, carrots, and celery;  Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, cumin and basil;

[2] Stir in lentils, and add water, broth and tomatoes.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours in crock pot.

[3] About 30 minutes before serving, stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts.

[4] Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired. 

Sirloin Chili

1 1/2pounds sirloin steak, cut into strips
2tablespoons canola oil
1/2white onion , chopped
1teaspoon garlic, minced
2teaspoons chili powder
1teaspoon ground cumin
1teaspoon dried oregano
1pinch cayenne pepper
1teaspoon paprika
1tablespoon brown sugar
114.5 ounce can beef broth
3tablespoons lime juice
1tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
128-ounce can crushed tomatoes
115-ounce can ranch-style beans, drained
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1red onion , chopped
1cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2cup fresh cilantro, chopped

[1] Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot over medium heat. Add the sirloin strips and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides, remove the meat from the pan.

[2] Heat another tablespoon of oil in the pot and add the onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, paprika, and brown sugar, stirring until the onions begin to soften and the spices become aromatic, about 7 minutes.

[3] Stir in the beef broth, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Stir in the meat and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have time. Fold in the beans and add salt and pepper to taste and heat thoroughly.

[4] To serve, top chili with red onion, cheese, and cilantro.

Slow Cooker Chunky Minestrone   V C LC 
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 6-8 hours

5cups vegetable broth
214.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
115.5-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
110-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1cup water
1white onion , chopped
1zucchini , quartered and sliced
2teaspoons olive oil
1teaspoon Italian seasoning
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6ounces small pasta shells, uncooked
1/4cup shredded Parmesan cheese

[1] Combine the broth, tomatoes, beans, spinach, water, onion, zucchini, olive oil, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper in the slow cooker.

[2] Cook on low for 5-8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, add pasta, season with salt and pepper and cook on low for an additional 30 minutes. Serve in individual bowls and top with cheese. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cooking Slump

So Baseball teams and atheletes go through slumps where nothing seems to work out.  Right?  

Well has anyone ever gone through a cooking slump?

I think this has been my least successful month with cooking since I had just gotten married and had 2 small toddlers running around.  Even those meals were tastier,  albeit sometimes "well done" ;)

But this month has been just awful.  I have used tried and true recipes that I know we all like and for some reason they all have turned out just plain bad....  maybe it is the ingredients, maybe it is the modifications,  ... maybe it is the cook.

Anyway, between my cooking and Rose not eating anything worthwhile at meals, I am definitely in a slump right now and eating out is so very tempting. Even the sandwiches at the gym are better than my cooking lately.

So this is a shout out for support.  Have any of you gone through a cooking slump?  What brought you out of it?  and How did you do it?

So thanks in advance for the support and I guess next week's menus will be forthcoming.  ...