Sweet Dumpling Squash and Roasted Apple Soup

A wonderful way to kick off fall! Tasty sweet flavored soup! Three cheers for our CSA box that posted this recipe.

Ingredients:
2 sweet dumpling squash
3 apples, cored and quartered
1-2 leeks, cut in half, rinsed and cut into slices
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1¼ cups cider
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
½ teaspoon ground coriander
freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream or coconut milk

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cut the squash in half down its length and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the halves on the baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes, or until very tender when pricked with a fork or knife. When it’s done, the skin will be slightly wrinkled and the juices will have caramelized. Leave the squash on the pan until it has cooled and is easy to handle.
3. Meanwhile, combine the apples and leeks in a roasting pan. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme, pour in ¾ cup cider, and dot with butter. Cover the pan with foil, and roast for 1 hour. Take off the cover and roast for another 30-45 minutes, the leeks should be very tender and most of the juices should be absorbed. Let it cool a few minutes, then puree in batches in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a stockpot.
4. Cut and peel off the squash and puree the flesh in batches in the food processor until very smooth. Scrape into the stockpot. Whisk in the stock and the remaining cup of cider, the coriander, and fresh grated nutmeg to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and taste for salt and pepper (a good hit of pepper is nice as a counterpoint to the sweetness of the squash).
5. Pour in the cream or coconut milk, bring back to a simmer, and cook for about 1 more minute. It’s ready to serve. Garnish with some croutons if you are in the mood

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Coconut Lentil Soup

I cannot compete (nor do I want to) with the beautiful pictures and message of this meal.  So, PLEASE, check out Ashley’s post about feeding South African children on Not Without The Salt.  There is one more day to donate to her wonderful cause!  So many are hungry – but our eyes and ears have become numb to it.  As you sift around in your cupboards, thinking of what to make for dinner, consider those who have nothing to sift through.

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 red pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

salt & pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 bay leaves

pinch chile flake

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk

3/4 cup black Beluga lentils (I’m sure other types would be fine, you may have to adjust the amount of water and cooking time)

2 cups water

Plain yogurt

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. When the oil is shimmering add the onion, carrot, celery and red pepper along with a pinch of salt. Saute until the vegetables are tender and lightly golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, bay, chile flake and a few grinds of black pepper. Continue to saute for 3 minutes until fragrant and the garlic softens. Stir in the tomato paste and coconut milk. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan then stir in the lentils. Add the water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, bring to a boil then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, remove the cover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with fresh cilantro, shaved radish and a drizzle of olive oil or unsweetened yogurt. To our family, the yogurt MADE the soup come alive – highly recommend!!

Kerry’s Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamonroll

 

I’ve tried lots of cinnamon roll recipes, but Kerry’s is the best!! And the easiest!! This is what we eat every Christmas morning.

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup butter
3/4 sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
2 packages dry yeast
1 cup warm water

Boil 1 cup of water and add butter, sugar, and salt. Let sit and cool until luke water. In a separate bowl, add yeast and luke warm water. The water needs to be warm enough to activate the yeast but not too hot, which would kill the yeast. Let sit until bubbly. Add eggs and yeast mixture to the cooled water/butter/sugar/salt mixture. Then mix in flour, 3 cups at a time. Dough should be somewhat wet. Refrigerate and cover overnight.

The next morning, roll out dough. Smear generously with softened butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Roll up and slice. Place rolls in a large baking dish, bake at 350 until golden brown on top.

Cover top with a cream cheese frosting or powdered sugar frosting and serve!

Cloth Napkins

This isn’t a recipe post, but a frugal saving money post which in turn helps to benefit the ability to make delicious meals! Check out the lovely post about using cloth napkins <<<<< click and read if you are interested!! Our family uses cloth napkins and they are great. I find them much softer and more absorbent than paper napkins. Not to mention the cost savings (which I like to roll over into buying yummy ingredients for recipes). We also use white “rags” as my children affectionately call them – they are harder workers than they typical paper towel and one bunch of $11 white kitchen cloths at Costco last for at least 5 years. I can’t remember the last time I purchased paper napkins or paper towels. Such a wonderful and easy way to save on your grocery bill. I can’t do all the math now, but I’m guessing that if you do use paper towels, you probably spend more than $11 dollars on them for 5 years. Yes, washing is a cost to consider – but again the total cost is certainly less than the cost of spending on paper towels and napkins!

Breakfast Pizza

breakfastpizza

The morning of Thanksgiving, we love to make this breakfast pizza! It’s filling and a great brunch type meal to keep you full until the big feast later. You can make it any time of the year though of course. I like to use a pre-made dough from Trader Joes, but check out the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen here to see how to make your own pizza dough.

Ingredients:

6 strips bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups grated mozzarella
6 large eggs

Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza.

Prepare the dough and toppings: Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Cool on a paper-towel-lined plate; roughly chop.

Generously dust the surface of a pizza peel or large inverted sheet pan with flour and place the stretched dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan, mozzarella and bacon. Crack 3 eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper.

Bake the pizza: Shake the pizza peel slightly to make sure the dough is not sticking. Carefully lift any sections that are sticking and sprinkle a bit more flour underneath, then slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone in one quick forward-and-back motion. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked, use the peel to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Sprinkle half of the parsley, chives, scallions and shallot on top, cook for another 5 minutes.. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.

Eating Clean and Saving $ on Your Grocery Budget

Being a one income family in a two income family world, I have been stretched to find creative ways to cut down our grocery budget. I used to coupon and it was great! But nowadays, with three little ones, my time to coupon is slim. In fact, nonexistent. I can’t follow deals anymore nor do I want to be driving all over town to hit up three different Walgreens. So this is an update post on how a family can save money on your monthly grocery purchases, without messing with coupons. Yes, it can be done!

I hope this post is helpful, even if you just find one or two ways to save your family money. Any little bit helps!

Fruits and Veggies:

We buy primarily organic produce. This can be expensive, especially shopping at your regular grocery store. The way we have worked around our desire to eat organic and our desire to save money is taking advantage of our local farmers markets and getting a CSA box. If you hit up a farmers market at the tail end of the morning, say around noon, you can barter quite easily! I’m not much of a barterer, but it’s not so hard to grab up a bunch of peaches and offer a dollar less than advertised. Especially at the end of the day, when sellers are packing up. They are happy to get that produce moving!

CSA boxes are also a huge help here. There are so many now that you can chose from. The price is great, the food is fresh, you know you are helping support your local community. Our family uses Live Earth Farms from Watsonville. The quality is wonderful and we get tons of fresh veggies.

And be a seasonal shopper. Don’t buy peaches in December – they are going to be ridiculously expensive, not taste great, and they have a large carbon footprint considering they were shipped half way around the world to get to your store. Thankfully, the Lord has give us many wonderful fruits and veggies all year round – embrace apples and grapes in the fall, citrus in the winter, blueberries in the spring and blackberries in the late summer. I know, I wish I could enjoy perfectly ripe strawberries all year. But it’s just one of those things in life that we have to embrace the seasons of change, right? I can’t make my toddler a baby again, I can’t go back on my first date with my husband, and I can’t enjoy a vine ripened tomato in December. Ce la vie. (i’m joking, but there is some truth here!)

Lastly, if your budget doesn’t allow for all organic, shop for just the dirty dozen and clean fifteen. This will help you chose which foods to buy organic and which not to!

Canned Goods:

Here is one place where we’ve saved a lot. In the last year, I’ve stopped buying canned goods unless completely necessary. I’ve found we can make the things we used to buy canned, and make them cheaper. Such as black beans, jams, applesauce, pumpkin puree, salad dressing, enchilada sauce and chicken broth. For example, I can make a year’s worth of organic applesauce for $40 from apples at the farmers’ market. I would definitely spend more than that through the year if I bought it pre-made. It does take time, of course, to invest in making these things from scratch. But you can make this into a fun adventure for the whole family. Take everyone berry picking – kids LOVE picking berries. Make a day of it. Come home, let them smash the berries to bits with a potato masher and then work together to make jam. It’s super fun! Some of my fondest memories are staying up late in the kitchen with Andrew, boiling jars together, making a mess, and enjoying the experience together.

Word up to those of you with a Vitamix! You can make your own nut butters! So easy! Big savings for you folks!

Grains:

The bulk bins and Costco are our friends! I can stock up on great organic deals in the bulk bins or by splitting grains with a friend at Costco. Buying a bulk bag of brown rice is pennies to the dollar cheaper than buying frozen packs from Trader Joes (which, I love by the way). It’s great to have time savers like this on hand, but if you are looking to cut back on money, try cooking the brown rice yourself. Double up the recipe and keep it in your fridge for a few days. You can even freeze it in your own bags and pop it out when you need it.

Another budget and health benefit is to limit or stop buying cereal. Packaged cereal is expensive for what you get, and it isn’t much of a health booster. Most “healthy” cereals are still packed with sugar and are refined carbohydrates, which your body breaks down into more sugar. All this to say, buying oatmeal (even better, steel cut oats) in the bulk bin, is a healthy better-for-you alternative and much cheaper. It took our family a while to get away from the cereal habit, but once we did I couldn’t imagine going back! Hot oatmeal, ladened with berries and nuts and milk and butter is just so much more delicious in the morning rather than cold cereal. If you really enjoy the ease of cold cereal, make your own granola!

Paper Things

Such as paper towels, napkins, diapers, and wipes … We just don’t buy them! This saves us big $ … Diapers alone in this house would run us upwards of $100 a month. Andrew jokes that I allow toilet paper in the house, haha – which I get when it drops to the lowest price and shipped for free to the door using Amazon prime. We use white clothes that I buy from Costco for about $11 – these last us at least 3 years per pack. We recently tried the norwex cleaning clothes and also find these super helpful. There are a zillion health benefits and environmental benefits for making the switch away from disposable paper products, but I will let you search for that information on your own if you are interested!

Drugstore Items

I make most of these. Toothpaste and deodorant is super easy to make and (in my opinion) work just as well as the regular stuff. I switched over to jojoba oil for a facial moisturizer and hair anti frizz. At $8 a bottle, it lasts a year and can’t be beat. Coconut oil is great here too. We use coconut oil as a moisturizer for the whole family. Nothing puts a baby into sleep mode like a bath, and lavender mixed into coconut oil! Vinegar is great for cleaning, especially with a few drops of essential oils to make it smell nice. Easy to save money when you don’t have to go to the drug store! There are some great websites out there with natural cleaning and beauty product ideas.

For things I don’t make (like shampoo, make up, etc) I take notice of sales and buy when they are cheapest. You can even find high end make-up and perfumes on sale (like bobbi brown and laura mercier) if you follow them online and wait until they do a sale. Yes, it does happen! I also enjoy the expensive Aveda hair products. By paying attention to their company, I’ve found they offer $20 off each purchase on Earth Day. I wait until April 17th each year to buy shampoo!

Dairy and Meat:

It’s just plain hard to find high quality dairy and meat on “sale”. Because we are able to save on all the above listed items, I do spend a pretty penny on our organic milk, and grass fed beef. This means, though, that we just don’t buy beef all that often. When we do, it’s a treat, and I try to find it at Costco for the best price. Same with salmon, which we love! Once a year copper river salmon goes on sale at Costco and we buy a bunch and freeze it. There are also wonderful opportunities to buy a quarter of a cow or be a part of a fresh fish CSA. However, these all require freezer space which our family does not have. I buy the large bag of frozen foster farms chicken at costco, because they are the only company that does not use hormones in their birds. Cutting down on meat is also the best way to save money in this area.

We chose to buy organic whole milk and whole milk yogurt. There are some good reasons for this which you can read about, but we do spend extra money here. Instead of purchasing individual cups of yogurt, buy the big tub when it’s on sale (or better yet, at costco where you can get two large tubs for under $7!). Then sweeten and flavor it yourself. We like fresh berries, honey or maple syrup, and a splash of vanilla extract in ours! Some of those preflavored “kid” yogurts have more sugar than an ice cream sundae.

Let me end by saying, there is something beautiful about investing time and effort into your family’s health by making foods that you might usually buy prepackaged. I’m certainly not above popping open a can of something for the sake of time. But it’s a great blessing to those you are feeding when you put the time into making your own version. There are health, taste, and budget benefits. You naturally avoid so many chemicals, salt, and sugar when you make canned goods yourself. And your bottom line will be a lot happier, too. Some of my fav “do it yourself” recipes are here.

None of us can make everything from scratch. I too enjoy the time saving advantages of many of the foods on the market – trust me with three kiddos they are super helpful. But even one or two choice to make yourself can help – not only with budget but with your enjoyment of food. I hope this post has helped in that quest towards making a few changes.

Ok, so that’s the low down! And, a disclaimer: Just in case you think I’m all miss healthy, floating around the house munching on carrots sticks and rubbing coconut oil in my skin – remember that last night my kids ate a premade frozen lasagna. Ha!

Sugar

For the first time ever, Andrew and I have decided to get really serious about our health – including seeing a nutritionalist. We’ve evaluated what we eat, and the first thing our wonderful professional has schooled is in is SUGAR. We are definitely sugar addicts. And, sugar is in everything.
The goal = get off sugar – ALL SUGAR – for a month to detox, then add it back with healthy doses. We’re talking no honey, agave, maple syrup, brown rice syrup … etc.

I’ve been off sugar for one week. At first, headaches and crabby behavior. I felt terrible! But one week later, the headaches have gone away and I feel great! Honest! I don’t crash in the afternoon and, by eating good foods throughout the day, I’m not craving sugar like I used to.

Anyways, all this to say, Reliable Recipes will probably be featuring less sugary meals/desserts and more healthy choices. A good thing!

For now, I want to share two things with you readers. One, if you have time, watch this. It’s awesome and full of great info about sugar vs. fat.

Second, if you do like delicious sugary desserts, try this one instead. Yes, it does still have a bit of maple syrup so it’s currently off limits for me. But its a great substitute and healthy alternative for dessert and it tastes amazing. It’s raw, gluten free, and actually pretty good for you. I can’t wait to eat a few next month! Might I suggest the Cacao Nib flavor? YUMMMM!

http://mycocoroons.com/