Saturday, April 14, 2012

My New Obsession...Thrifting

Ok, so I have always loved garage sales, etc. However, it is relatively new find to go to Thrift stores. I have for many years, periodically, gone to resale shops for kids stuff, clothes, and whatever else I can find, mainly books. However, once I discovered the larger thrift stores, I love going. I still like to hit resale and garage sales too. My kids like to go to garage sales with me as well!!

Some of my favorite finds from last season's garage sales are a tin of vintage travel stickers, it is really cool and I will hope to use it in scrapbooking or crafting and it was only like fifty cents! My boys were also happy as I found them a big container full of pokemon cards!! I also found a really nice cast iron skillet, Jay scrubbed it up and seasoned it and we have used it repeatedly. The kids loved that it is from Cracker Barrel and has their logo on the bottom, we go there when we are on a driving trip, so the kids associate fond memories with Cracker Barrel. The kids love the cast iron "corn sticks" pan I got too, it makes the best corn bread sticks (shaped like corn). The entire family wants me to get a couple more so we can make more than 7 sticks at a time. I also found some cute painted spoons that I put in my kitchen on the wall.

What do I buy every time I garage sale or thrift shop? Books! I have a book fetish anyway, but I just can't resist books for such bargain prices.

This weekend I went shopping with my girlfriend. We had a good time and found some good deals. I bought a pair of gap pants, an Abercrombe and Fitch t-shirt, a Hollister t-shirt, a gap skirt and a really cute sun dress, plus a couple of other cute t-shirts for my daughter. I got a black tank top, a couple of really cute t-shirts, a really cute old navy ruffled shirt with a cute faux collar, a nice patterned shirt that is a bit dressier than a T-shirt, a White House, Black Market sequined tank (this was marked $15.99 and I got it half off for $8...I looked online and it was probably about $50 new if not more), a pink print tank which the fabric is layers of sort of sheer fabric, plus I got a cute pair of shoes, a black washable "American Tourister" purse great for travel that had a Samsonite toiletry bag with it, a gold lame little zipper pouch to go in my purse (this was brand new for $.99), several books. Total spent was $55.93 All in all 17 pieces of clothing, a pair of shoes, purse, toiletry bag, zipper pouch for a purse, 7 books. Not bad!!

My friend made some scores too. You can't really go in looking for something specific but I do have an ongoing list of things I would love to find used!! It's the hunt that is so fun!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu 2011

I love Thanksgiving. I love the change of seasons, it always feels like a great last hurrah to nicer weather and the peek of winter around the corner. I love fall flavors and colors, the warmth they invoke. I dread winter, so Thanksgiving still gives me the comfort of fall and I love to lose myself in the seasonal bounty and offerings and take the chance to remember how wonderful my life is and to give thanks.

There are still so many great local foods available this time of year that Thanksgiving is such a chance to cook and enjoy it with family.

This year my menu plan is pretty standard. I do everything Gluten Free, most things are Dairy Free and this year in deference to my nephew's newly diagnosed (serious) allergies we are peanut, tree nut, soy, sesame and navy bean free. Challenging, but I am finding it is working out ok.

Menu 2011

Turkey--We get our turkeys from Cloverlawn Farms...haven't ever had a better turkey. These are free-range, pastured birds. No factory farmed meat here. They are processed the day we get them, can't get fresher than that unless you raise your own.

We like to brine our turkey per Alton Brown's recipe "Good Eats Roast Turkey"
After we brine it, I rinse and dry it and sprinkle freshly ground pepper inside and outside of bird and then slather under the skin with a compound herb butter.
Herb Butter
1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons chopped, fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley
Mix all herbs into softened butter.

I place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan with a bit of chicken stock in the bottom of the pan and place a halved onion and some cloves of garlic in the bird cavity. I cook bird at 500 degrees for about 30 minutes to brown the bird and then stick the probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven to 350 degrees. If the bird seems to get too brown, I tent it with foil (I usually do end up tenting it). When bird is done (timing depends on size...I usually do a 20 lb bird... approx 3.5 hours give or take). When bird is done, I remove from oven, cover with foil and let it rest for 15-30 minutes before carving.

I do strain the drippings and put in my gravy separator to de-fat somewhat. I use the drippings to make gravy, but because the bird was brined the drippings do tend to be salty so I add them to homemade chicken stock to tone them down, makes a lovely gravy.

Stuffing-I grew up on stuffing made from Pepperidge Farms stuffing mix and vegetables. I loved the traditional flavor but once we started eating non-processed foods I had to create my own stuffing. It is very good in my opinion.
I saute onion, celery and mushrooms with some celtic sea salt and black peper till just about tender and then add some minced garlic and continue to saute till tender. I let cool and add it to dry Gluten Free bread cubes (I usually toast them before starting). I season with a bit more salt and pepper and some of Penzey's Poultry Seasoning. I then add enough warm chicken stock to have nice moist, but not swimming in water, stuffing blend. I add beaten eggs (usually 2 eggs to a big bowl) and stir till combined. I add it to a baking pan, sprinkle with paprika and cook it at 350 till top is crunchy and dry (for a large pan about 45 minutes to an hour).
I have developed a nice multi-grain Gluten-Free bread in my new bread machine. This year I am using it rather than a Bob's Red Mill Mix (due to the nut issue). I will post the recipe separately.

Mashed Potatoes- I use Yukon Gold potatoes, they give it a lovely buttery color and taste. I get my potatoes from CSA Farmer's Market. Instead of dairy to make them rich and creamy (and I don't like the taste of rice milk either) I use warm chicken stock and some chicken fat. I whip them in my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and they turn out nice and creamy. I season with salt and pepper.

Gravy-I make it from the drippings mixed with homemade chicken stock (which is unsalted) and add pepper and cornstarch mixed with water to thicken. I then add sliced cooked mushroooms and sometimes some leftover picked meat from the turkey carcass.

Sweet Potatoes -I love sweet potatoes and so do my kids. I simply roast them and mash them and serve them with butter (or coconut ghee for the non-dairy) and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Roasting them is the key, they turn out so sweet and caramelized they really don't need anything added to them.

Green Vegetable- This year I am doing just simple steamed green beans (organic/frozen) and broccoli, I do both because everyone in my family wants broccoli but Elliott can't have it, so the green beans are really for him, he loves them. I steam them till just crisp tender and then serve them with a sprinkling of Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle seasoning.

Cranberry Sauce/Compote- I love this cooked cranberry sauce. I grew up with the raw cranberry/orange/sugar cranberry sauce and I love that too. My dad makes it so yummy and we usually have both.
I have adapted this recipe over the years. It originally came from foodtv and was called Fall Berry Conserve. Feel free to check it out online and make it either way. I almost always make a double batch.

1 (12 oz) package cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1/2 cup orange juice
1 medium navel orange, unpeeled, chopped
1/2 cup honey (or to taste)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
2 Tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Combine cranberries, juice and honey in sauce pan bring to boil over medium heat and cook till honey is melted. Add chopped orange (and any accumulated juices),and simmer until cranberries burst and mixture thickens a bit. Add dried fruit, ginger and crystallized ginger and let cook till dried fruit is plumped. Taste for sweetness and add more honey as needed.

Allow to cool then refrigerate. Can be made several days ahead.

Fruit-It is a family tradition to have fruit salad or a fruit tray with dessert. My parents are bringing it this year.

Pumpkin Pie- I use this dairy free healthy version from The Nourishing Gourmet To be gluten free I make a crust using ginger snap cookie crumbs and coconut oil. This year I needed to find an alternative to the cookies I usually use as they had nuts, so I developed my own recipe. I will post it later. I used organic brown sugar in them as I have been out of Sucanat and Whole Foods was out and 2 times it didn't get split to be able to order from the buying club I belong to. So as soon as I have more sucanat I plan to develop the recipe with no refined sweeteners. However, I must say these were really good cookies, much better than store bought.

Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake with a chocolate crust. This is an recipe and I haven't made it in years (since we went gluten free). My daughter begged me to make a cheesecake so I decided to pull out the recipe and substitute Gluten Free cookies in the crust.

Whip Cream- Homemade from Pastured cream and a bit of maple syrup to sweeten.

If I have time I might do an apple crisp, just because I love apples and cinnamon.

I hope to have leftover turkey (won't know the size of my turkey till we get it on Monday night) and make a pumpkin cream sauce pasta dish with turkey in it...Pampered Chef recipe that I sub brown rice pasta and canned coconut milk and curry powder to make it suitable for our diet.

Turkey soup is on the menu after T-day too. I also have salad greens from CSA Farmers Market and plan to have turkey, cheese and dried cherries on a salad. Yum!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pulled Chicken -Mexican Food version

My sister said she loved my chicken for chicken tacos and asked how I made it. Here is my version. I do use local, pastured chickens which do cook up differently than store bought as they don't have a saline injection and tend in my opinion to have more meat on them. So you may get less yield or need to cook them for a different amount of time and gauge how much of the chicken juices you get and add accordingly.

1 or more whole chickens (depending on how many you want to cook and will fit in your crockpot)
Diced onion
diced bell pepper or some of Penzey's dried bell peppers. (optional)
water for chicken broth
1 bay leaf
Penzey's Chicken Taco Seasoning
Sea Salt
Penzey's Mild Chili Powder
Ground Cumin
Black Pepper
Juice of 1 lime

Dice one or more onions (depending on size and how many chickens you have) and put in bottom of crock pot. Add bell pepper to bottom of crockpot (I like the flavor it gives, I use the dried diced mostly, so if using fresh, dice it small and it will mostly disintegrate into it and leave a nice flavor).
Add about 1/2 cup of water or broth to keep chicken from scorching or drying out when it starts to cook. Add Bay leaf.
Place whole chicken(s) on top of onions, sprinkle with spices and salt on chicken and a bit onto the mixture in the bottom (onion/liquid mixture).
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until chicken is falling off the bone.
Remove chicken to a dish that will hold any juices and let cool until able to touch without getting burned.
Pull all chicken meat off of bones and put in a separate dish. Shred meat with two forks or with hands into nice shredded texture. Discard bones, skin, etc.
Strain the liquid to get rid of any chicken bones, skin, etc. You can save some onions if desired and mix them into the chicken. Skim some fat off liquid if there seems to be a lot of fat.
Put chicken back into crockpot and mix with enough liquid to make it nice and moist but not totally swimming in liquid (a bit pooled at the bottom is no big deal, but you don't want a ton of liquid). If there isn't enough juices to moisten it once you remove the fat off the juices, than add some heated up chicken broth.
Mix in more spices (chicken taco seasoning, chili powder and cumin)to taste. I usually shake a bit in and mix it and taste it and then add a bit more if needed. Add salt to taste. Add juice of one lime and mix in to chicken. Heat through in crockpot (you can heat it in high till it is all warmed through if you want it done quickly or if you want to let it go longer, heat on low).

Freezes well too.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back in Action

Well, I haven't posted in a couple of months. The reason was that shortly after I last posted I found out that (surprise, surprise) we are expecting a 4th child. Well, the long and short of it is that I have had a few complications and have felt really crummy until very recently. Finally the energy is coming back a bit and the nausea is abating.

I have started cooking a bit finally. Jay took over cooking duties for the last stretch and at least we ate good, but there was no planning, as I was not really wanting to think about food much.

However, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I am in full planning mode. I am excited about my favorite holiday (food wise) and am trying to do as much local as possible. I will post my menu when finalized and in the meantime post a few favorite recipes (both new and old)!!

Good eating and happy holidays!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Menu Planning Fiasco

So, I fell off the Bandwagon this week. I am still cooking, but boy I didn't have a minute to sit down and plan.

Here is the low down the best I can create.

Saturday we went to the in-laws and ate there at their club pool (garbage food). We regretted it later when we all felt lousy.

Sunday we had taco meat with tortilla chips and sauteed vegetables, refried beans and toppings as well as Corn on the cob.

Monday we cooked a turkey in our electric roaster (a free-range, organic chicken that apparently we stored in my parents freezer and forgot about, it was delicious). Mashed potatoes that we dug up the potatoes at our CSA and gravy. Steamed green beans along side it.

Tuesday we had leftovers.

Tonight I have meetings so it will be sweet corn, green beans and hot dogs (all natural from a local smokehouse).

Tomorrow- Undecided, but probably stuffed cabbage.

Friday--Kids eating at Grandmas, so we will probably take an easy packed dinner to the set up of the conference.

Saturday -We will be at the local HTN conference all day/evening, so leftovers or a packed dinner will be the deal.

Sunday School starts Sunday, so not sure what we will plan, probably Chicken as we need to make freezer space by the 15th when our new delivery of chickens arrives.

Hubby stayed up late last night (as he left this morning for a business trip) making applesauce from a case of juicer apples we got from our favorite local organic orchard. It is so good.

That is it for now, but I do plan to get back on the ball with planning soon.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nourishing Portable Food Challenge

One of my favorite Nourishing Blogs is having a Nourishing Portable Food Challenge. In light of the fact that I pack lunch for 2 children each day and they both have different requirements and likes/dislikes (my son cannot have dairy) and I often pack my own lunch for a meeting or whatever, I figure I can share some ideas and maybe figure out a recipe to post too.
You can check out all the ideas for healthy, nourishing portable foods at
Usually when I pack lunches I use the Laptop Lunches Lunchbox System I love these lunchboxes as they help with portion control and it is waste free which is good for the environment. They are plastic, but are made of the safer type plastics that aren't supposed to leach, for kids I really find plastic to be a necessity. The food presentation is wonderful because they are based on the Bento box style of Japan. When the child (or adult) opens the case, the food is ready and looks appetizing, things also keep from getting squished as they would in a plastic baggie.
I frequently make sandwiches for the children with all-natural lunchmeats or a healthy nut butter and raw honey with slices of organic banana, or sometimes an organic jam.
I also frequently pack homemade trail mix. This is my favorite portable snack as it is made with a variety of crispy nuts (nuts soaked in salt water overnight, then dehydrated to help break down the enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid and other anti-nutrients and make them more digestible), organic dried fruit, and a few organic chocolate chips. It is easy to pack and gives them a good balance of protein and carbs to keep them going. Also, if they don't finish their lunch, this is usually something that they an snack on after school too.
I often put either apple sauce (for my son) and yogurt for my daughter with some fruit on top (in the picture it is some organic tart cherries with organic vanilla yogurt. I also put either vegetable or salad. In the picture it is kale for my son and a salad for my daughter. I also frequently put some pieces of cheese or salami or other meat with a few organic crackers (or sometimes without the crackers).
I also frequently send stew, chili or soup in a thermos. The kids always love that. I only send water most days, once a week they can have juice, chocolate milk or kombucha.
I often do a "lunchable" type lunch instead of a sandwich. I just roll up or cut with a decorative cutter pieces of meat and cheese and put those in with some veggie sticks, cut up fruit, maybe some olives, pickles or sauerkraut/kim chi and crackers. The kids love these finger foods.
I also frequently use leftover dinners that may be good cold. Cold pieces (off the bone) of roasted chicken with some hard-boiled egg and maybe cheese pieces along with veggies and fruit. Frittatas are great too, as they are good warm, room temp or cold. They can be cut in a wedge and eaten on the go easily too. They can be any meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and can include a variety of ingredients. Meatloaf is also good cold too.
Many friends and family have told me my meatloaf is great. Here is my recipe (the amounts are not real exact as I usually just throw it together), I put frozen organic corn in the middle of the loaf as my dad always did that and the kids get a kick out of it, but if you are planning to use it for a lunch (sandwich or sliced) that does not work so well, so just leave it without the "surprise in the middle"
Lisa's Meatloaf
Note: These amounts are approximate as I just eyeball it (however, it is 2lbs meat)
2 pounds grass-fed ground beef (if very lean, add some type of oil/fat to the mixture)
1 small or half a medium onion, pureed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon Penzey's beef roast seasoning (or use you favorite beef spice blend or other spices)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1/2 teaspoon organic worcestershire sauce
1 large egg
sprinkle of garlic powder or 1 small glove grated (or finely minced)
1 tablespoon organic tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons salsa
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thouroughly with hands (I find that works best to get it very well homogenized). Cover rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat and mound meat mixture into a free form loaf shape. (If doing a corn surprise in the middle, mound the bottom of the loaf, build up some sides, place frozen corn in middle and cover with remaining meat mixture).
Topping mixture: Mix 1/8 cup of ketchup with 1/8 cup salsa and pour over top of meatloaf to cover completely.
Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Note: You can also shape the meat mixture into muffin tins and divide topping over them, reduce baking time to compensate (they will end up with grease puddled into the bottom of the tin, so remove immediately from tin to avoid them soaking it in or getting too soft at the bottom).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Menu Planning Week 5

Ok, so it is Tuesday and I am way behind (in just about every aspect of my life these days which just makes me procrastinate more!).

Well we have been cooking, but just not to organized about it.

Recap: Well we did have eggs, oatmeal and pot roast. Didn't get to much else.

Here is what we have had between last weekend and now: Saturday we had grilled steaks and grilled vegetables with baked potatoes, Sunday we had stirfry with the leftover steak, brown rice, salad and pickles with the last of the corn on the cob (in-laws came for dinner). Dessert was cantaloupe, blueberries and watermelon. Monday we had leftovers (well they did, I wasn't home).

Ok, here we go with this week.

Tuesday (August 26)
Breakfast-Soaked Oatmeal Porridge
Lunch-Bologna, fruit
Dinner: Meatloaf, Fried Summer Squash, Sauteed Red Cabbage

Wednesday (Aug 27)
Dinner-Pot Roast (need something that can cook while I am gone to the school meeting)

Thursday (Aug 28)
Breakfast -Muffins
Lunch Lunchmeat, fresh veggies, pickles
Dinner -Leftovers (we have to go to orientation for religious school)

Friday (Aug 29)

I also once again hope to get to making some desserts and zucchini bread as well as regular bread (since I am out of bread flour and plan to shop on Thursday evening). I got some wonderful local blueberries at the Royal Oak Farmers Market from Blueridge Blueberry Farm and I really want to make a blueberry dessert. I was hoping to make a blueberry peach crostada, but Rachel ate all the peaches lickity-split (and most of a bag of apples I got). I have enough Gingergold apples to make something, so I'll have to figure out what.