Just A Little Weekend Note :)

I just wanted to let you all know…that I’ve been working hard doing research for you!!!  🙂  Does it make me a weirdo that this is how I spend my days off?

Just a Note

If so…then I don’t want to be a…not-weirdo!!!  🙂  I already have a 3 page list of recipes that I want to try!  Can’t wait to continue my reading, for the sake of my dinner table, my family’s health…and you, my faithful followers!!!

 

Advertisements

Chef of Honor: Rebecca Kirkwood with a Passion for Baby Food!

There are so many wonderful cooks in the world. There really are. I mean, just the fact that the “big names” like Bobby Flay have whole shows dedicated to challenging the “average Joe” chef and proving they can cook better…and the fact that the big names often lose…is an indicator that there is some really good food out there, made by really good cooks. The thing is…there are so many scattered throughout the whole world…people like you and I sit here trying our own creations and attempting Pinterest recipes and such…but we miss so many gems!!! So I have decided that I will do what I can to help you guys experience the “gems” in my life. I would like to share my friends, acquaintances, and fellow cooks in my life with you. And their recipes 🙂 So be watching for my occasional “Chef of Honor” posts! It takes all types to make our world, and we need each other to make it complete…even in the cooking world 🙂

How appropriate is it that I would start with my beautiful sister-in-law and one of my dearest friends…Becca Kirkwood!! Like me, Becca (or Jim, as I call her. Don’t ask. It’s a long story. But if I accidentally call her Jim, you will know who I am talking about 😉 ) has a passion for providing HEALTH for her family. See…when you realize that the length of your future actually affects another person, you start thinking differently…and when you realize that the length or quality of someone else’s life depends on what you put on the dinner table at night…then you REALLY start thinking differently. This blog is a beautiful expression of that paradigm shift in Jim’s (er…Becca’s) life. And she can offer you something that I cannot: recipes that are kid-tested! She has provided me with the most beautiful (and hilarious!) niece and nephew…and they are being raised on veggies and healthy, organic things. I’m so proud of that family! Please check out her whole blog, because she has multiple great recipes and I am sure she will be uploading more! But for this feature, check out her Homemade, Organic Babyfood!!

Organic Baby Food

My niece gobbles it down all the time! That’s a great sign, right? Healthy, organic…and the kids LOVE IT?! Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But…it’s not! Let Becca show you how 🙂 (And get this…there’s quinoa in this one!! I stinking love quinoa! Maybe I’ll have to make some for me :D) If you are interested in her other recipes, check out:

Hearty Chicken Taco Soup with Lentils

This recipe…is a treasure. I ate two bowls last night and wanted more, but had to refrain in order to stretch our meals…we need to go grocery shopping 😉 Eh hem. And then I ate two more bowls today. Hehe. But you know what’s most exciting about this? It started out as a simple lentil soup recipe…and I butchered it!! Muaha! And it worked…really well! Like seriously…I added so much, it has gotten to the point where it’s beyond recognition. In fact…I was so excited about my recipe butchering (I hope you know I mean that in a good way 😉 ) that I had to text my sister-in-law Dani to share the news…and she congratulated me on using the recipe not as rules, but more like guidelines. Insert Pirates of the Caribbean quote here 😉 Anywho…if you knew me closely, you would know how big of a deal this is for me, and you would be rejoicing with me 🙂 Yay!!! This “diet” has been so good for me in that respect. I’m getting adventurous! And I’m so glad you are all along for the ride 🙂

So. On to the recipe! It started basically as a few veggies and lentils. Well…I had a few extra veggies going bad that I figured I’d throw in there. Then I noticed the chicken breast that had been sitting in my fridge thawed for a few days! Can’t let that go bad!!! Then I gave in to a common temptation I have…I love corn in soups. So I added corn. Then the veggies and the cumin in the recipe started making me think about tacos. Beautiful, wonderful, delicious tacos that I don’t get to eat very often any more. So I busted out the ingredients for home made taco seasoning and, BAM! You have this beauty. I’m serious. This recipe is beautiful. Please make it. You want to know one more wonderful thing? Nothing in this recipe came from a can. YEAH BABY! I think its an extremely healthy, satisfying meal!!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1-2 large Chicken Breast, cubed

  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced

  • 3-5 Stalks Celery, chopped

  • About 2 Qts Chicken Stock

  • 3 large carrots, sliced

  • 1 Onion, diced

  • 1 T Minced Garlic

  • 2 Medium tomatoes, diced

  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, diced

  • 1 C fresh or frozen corn

  • ½ lb Lentils

  • 1 sprig oregano, leaves pulled off and chopped

  • ½ tsp Chili Powder

  • ¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes

  • ¼ tsp Paprika

  • 1 ½ tsp Sea Salt

  • 1 tsp Cumin

  • 1 tsp Coriander

And here’s how you do it! It’s not scary, I promise 🙂

  1. Slice, dice, chop, mince…get prepped!!!

  2. Generously salt and pepper your chopped chicken.

  3. Get a real big pot! At least 6 quarts. Melt your coconut oil over medium heat. Add all your veggies minus the tomatoes and saute for about 7 minutes.

  4. Toss in your chicken and saute about 5 more minutes.

  5. Add tomatoes and stir everything up, cook for another minute or so.

  6. Finish off with as much of the chicken stock as you can fit, spices, and lentils.

  7. Bring to a boil, the reduce to a simmer and leave it for 35 minutes, giving it an occasional stir! Top with a bit of sour cream, shredded cheddar, perhaps some avocado…whatever you desire! Annnnd…you’re done! SO DELICIOUS!

    I hope you love this as much as I did…the beautiful taste of tacos, mixed with the satisfying heartiness of lentils (which is quite comforting, really), and with so many stinking veggies that your insides will thank you 🙂  Here’s some photos!!

Prep your veggies!!! Hearty Chicken Taco Soup with Lentils 1   Aren’t they pretty?!  SO MANY VEGGIES!  My favorite 🙂  I have to add one more photo of them…just so you can see my cup in the background.  Can you see it?!  It was my birthday present from my wonderful friends Costa and Karen…hand made with a quote from Meet The Robinsons (FAVORITE!).  “I’ve got this big head and little arms…”  Hahahahahaaa. Hearty Chicken Taco Soup with Lentils 6 Saute all the veggies (minus tomatoes) in coconut oil for about 7 minutes… Hearty Chicken Taco Soup with Lentils 2 Chop your chicken…salt and pepper generously… Hearty Chicken Taco Soup with Lentils 3 Add chicken and saute about 5 more minutes.  Stir in tomatoes…then add the rest! Hearty Chicken Taco Soup with Lentils 4 Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 35 minutes.  Scoop into bowls and serve with cheddar, sour cream, whatever you want!! Hearty Chicken Taco Soup with Lentils 5 And…if you want to step a little outside the “super healthy” realm, but crank it up a notch and still be decently healthy…grab a bag of these! Hearty Chicken Taco Soup with Lentils Last

Salmon with Pecan Pesto

Say whaaaaaat?!  Pecan pesto…and on fish?!  It’s true, it’s true!  And it was super fun!  We both enjoyed it!!!  I am seriously in love with salmon, and am loving discovering new ways to prepare it!!!!

I love that this pesto is hearty enough that it adds a lot of substance to the lightness of the fish…and I love that it has a mild warmness to it as well because of the jalapeno 🙂  I’m going to halve the recipe for you, because…I still have a tupperware full of it in my refrigerator, and my salmon is long gone haha!!  But I think you will find this very fun and delicious!!!

Pecan Pesto Salmon 6Yum!!!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1 lemon, for zest and juice
  • 1/2 T fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 oz cold butter (a stick is 4 oz so a little less than half), sliced into Tbs slices
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/2 lb shelled pecans
  • Wild salmon fillet
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil (optional)
  • 1-2 T Coconut Oil

And here’s how you do it!!  🙂

  1. Zest your lemon.  Cut your jalapeno into chunks, and deseed and devein if you want less heat.  Pull rosemary off stem.
  2. Heat oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Lay your pecans out on a cookie sheet in a single layer, and toast for about 20 minutes.
  4. Put the lemon zest, rosemary, jalapeno, butter, and pecans in a food processor and pulse a few times.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon in…and if you want your pesto to be thinner, add olive oil until it reaches the consistency you desire.  Ours was a liiiiiiittle thick.  Add salt to taste and process again until blended and the right consistency.  Feel free to taste and adjust 🙂
  5. Rinse your salmon fillets and pat dry.  Rub with coconut oil, and salt and pepper.
  6. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat, and toss in your salmon.  Saute it until it gets firm to the touch, about 8 minutes total, 4 per side.
  7. Remove salmon, spread with pesto, serve with some veggies, and devour!

Pictures, yes?! 😀

Pecan Pesto Salmon 1Toast your pecans 🙂

Pecan Pesto Salmon 3Get a sexy man to help you with the food processor…he’s getting so good at making pestos!!!  Remember the pictures of him making the pesto in the lamb and garlicky pesto recipe???  If you haven’t seen that one, you should go to the archives and look it up…it’s a favorite 🙂  And you may notice that he is almost 30 pounds lighter here than there 🙂

Pecan Pesto Salmon 4Here is what he created!  Well done husband!  Can you see the little bits of nuts and jalapenos?  Feel free to add olive oil if you want yours thinner than that!

Pecan Pesto Salmon 2Rinse the salmon, dab it dry, rub with coconut oil, salt, and pepper!!!

Pecan Pesto SalmonCook your fish!

Pecan Pesto Salmon 5Top with pesto, and eat!!  Get a little pesto in every bite.  So good, and such great flavor combinations.  I loooove pecans!  Enjoy!!!

Chicken and Pepper Skillet

If you have followed me, you will probably remember me mentioning my belief that if it starts with bell peppers and onions…it’s going to be a good meal!  And I am going to LOVE it 🙂  There is just something about those flavors together, warm and satisfying.  You don’t even have to season it that much if you so choose, because the peppers and onions bring so much flavor of their own, which is the sort of recipe this is!  So delicious, and so classic!!  Check it out!!!  It looked so pretty in my cast iron skillet 🙂  Which I have been trying to use more and more to avoid the controversy surrounding non-stick and it’s potential harms.  I have also heard that cast iron will actually add iron to your food!  Can you believe that?!  And I love the brown it gives to meat!

Chicken and Peppers 6

Don’t you want to eat that?  I’ll tell you how you can!

 

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced. I love me some garlic.
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil, Divided
  • 1 Onion, Sliced
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers, Julienned
  • 2 Green Bell Peppers, Julienned
  • 1 C Dry White Wine, or Chicken Stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

And here’s how you do it!!  It’s pretty simple, great weeknight meal!

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts.  If you want to shake it up a bit, use Herbamare seasoning instead of salt, or add some paprika!
  3. Get 2 T of your coconut oil nice and hot in a skillet over medium high heat; preferably a cast iron skillet, but at least an oven safe pan.
  4. Add the breasts and cook about 2 minutes per side, getting a nice brown color.  Take out and set aside.
  5. Heat remaining coconut oil in your pan, and saute all your veggies for about 5 minutes; until tender-crisp.
  6. Add the wine or chicken stock, simmer down for a minute or two.  If you like more seasoning, add some extra salt and pepper to the veggies.
  7. Add the chicken breasts back on top of the veggies, and transfer to the oven.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until your chicken is done.
  8. Take out.  Admire how precious and old fashioned it looks.  Taste.  Admire how comforting it tastes.  Enjoy :O)

 

Some pictures for you!

Chicken and Peppers 1Veggies julienned and minced 🙂

Chicken and Peppers 2Heat 2 T of coconut oil over medium high heat, and get a nice brown on both sides.  About 2 minutes per side.

Chicken and Peppers 3Isn’t it pretty?  That’s the best little sear I’ve ever gotten on chicken!!  Thank you cast iron skillet 😀

Chicken and Peppers 4Remove chicken from skillet, and add back in the rest of the coconut oil and your veggies.  Saute for about 5 minutes!

Chicken and Peppers 5Add your white wine or chicken stock and cook another minute or so.  Feel free to sprinkle with extra salt and pepper if you desire 🙂

Chicken and Peppers 6Put the chicken back on top, pop it in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the chicken is done.  Yummmmmyyyyyyy!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beth’s Brownies!!!

I’ve had lots of brownies.  Lot’s of fancy things, with extras added; caramel, oreos, marshmallows, frosting, peanut butter…but let me be honest, none of them cut it for me.  I am ruined.  Totally ruined.  That’s what happens when your mamma refuses to use a box, and puts lots of love in her cooking!  These…are Beth’s Brownies.  No, Beth is not my mom.  Beth is my cousin’s wife’s mom.  Confusing much?  Ha.  But we use Beth’s recipe for brownies, cause it’s heavenly.  It’s what we ate all growing up, probably our most popular dessert!!  Especially topped with vanilla bean ice cream, Mrs. Richardson’s hot fudge….and as many maraschino cherries as the parents would let you take out of the jar!  Oh, and sometimes we’d pour some of the maraschino cherry juice out on top of the ice cream too!!!  Mmmm.  I love family traditions….and even though most of them are full of gluten…I will oblige occasional.  For memory’s sake of course.  Or for an excuse to eat something soooooooooo wonderful.

What’s so great about these brownies?  Well, the chocolate chips make them extra chocolatey…they stay super moist in the middle…and the top gets a great, flaky crust.  Oh my gosssshhhhhhh I wish I could eat them right now.  I took these to a friend’s house for Valentine’s Day…unfortunately in the joy of the evening I forgot to take some pictures of our lovely sundaes…but I got you pictures of them in the pan at least before we left!!!  You will see the yummy crust.  Mmmmmmm.  So you can thank Kirkwood Family Tradition for this BEAUTY!

Note: This is definitely not a gluten free dessert…so if you are looking for a good gluten free dessert, please go visit my new friend at glutenfreegus.com.  Holy cow, they make some phenomenal gluten free treats over there!!!  In fact…give them a follow while you are at it!!  EVERY post I get from them on my reader makes me want to drool!  Like seriously.  Check out this Coffee Crunch Cake they made!  Anyways.  Back to warm, gooey, flaky  gluten-y brownies 🙂

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 C Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (or if you are cool like me and run out…1 tsp Vanilla Schnapps bahahahaa!)
  • 1 C Flour
  • 3/4 C Cocoa Powder
  • 1 1/2 Cubes Butter, Melted
  • 2 C Chocolate Chips

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they are getting fluffy.
  3. While continuously beating, slowly add your sugar until very fluffy!!  This is the secret right here!!  You want to get it as fluffy as you possibly can!!! Don’t rush it, cause you want the wonderful texture 🙂
  4. Add vanilla and mix in.
  5. Stop blending for a second and add in the flour and cocoa.  You are gonna want to mix this by hand a few strokes before you turn the blender back on…or you will be covered in flour and cocoa.  Unless you go for that kind of look 😉  Then mix with the blender until it is well blended.
  6. Blend in melted butter.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips.
  8. Pour into an ungreased 9X13 baking dish and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out “fairly” clean.  Those are my mom’s words 😉  It can be hard to tell, cause you may have poked a melty chocolate chip, so try a couple spots.  Probably somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes, but I always start checking before that.  I like my desserts a little gooey.  Enjoy!  This is seriously a delicious brownie!!!!

Here’s my eggs and sugar, beating beating beating….IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!!! 😉

Beth's Brownies 1Sweet action shot, ha!! 😉  And these are them hot out of the oven!  I was going to take them out and make a pretty little plate for you all to see, but…I have this thing about serving desserts that have already been partially eaten or cut or something.  Not that my wonderful friends, Costa and Karen, would care if one brownie was missing…but I would.  I would.  Plus…let’s just be honest here…it was Valentines Day…I had other things on my mind than getting a good picture of brownies.  Sorry 😉 See my little poke holes where I tested with a toothpick?  It’s vital! 😉  And do you see that crazy, crispy, flaky crust?!  But inside…oh, inside…pure, warm, gooey, delicious, chocolately bliss!!  Ohhhh man you must try this and tell me what you think! 😀 😀 😀

Beth's Brownies 3