Browsing Category: real food recipes

Brat and cabbage soup

brat and cabbage soup

I’ve been waiting for a day cool enough for soup; today was the day! I’d been wanting to try out this recipe I spied on Taste of Home recently, when I was trying to figure out how to use up some leftover sausages — including some grilled bratwurst.

This soup exceeded my expectations! I love that it takes one of my husband’s favorite foods (brats/sausage), and makes it into a fairly healthy meal. Kick it up to the next level by serving with a hearty bread made into garlic toast. (Or Paleo English muffins made into garlic toast.)

Bonus: it’s really easy! We’ll definitely be having this again.

I halved the original recipe, since I was cooking for two. (The recipe below is the half portion.) Double these quantities to serve a larger group, or to have some to put in the freezer. Several reviewers said that it tasted just as good if not better, reheated the second day, so this would make a great make-ahead meal, too.

Leave out the beans to make it Paleo and Whole30 compliant. You could add chopped avocado in their place: similar texture, plus healthy fats!

Brat and Cabbage Soup Recipe

Serves 4

2 cups chicken broth or stock (or more, for a long simmer)
2 – 3 medium carrots
1 stalk celery
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
2 – 3 brats, cooked according to package directions
1.5 cups shredded cabbage
1 can (14 oz.) great northern beans, rinsed and drained (optional*)

Put the broth on to boil in a large saucepan. Chop the carrots, celery and onion into bite-size chunks, and add them to the saucepan, along with the seasonings. Once the mixture boils, turn it down to medium low and simmer till the carrots are tender.

Slice the brats in half lengthwise, then into half- to one-inch slices; add them to the pot and heat through. At this point, you can turn the heat to low and let it all simmer till 20 minutes before serving time. If the broth gets too low, add a little more chicken stock. Or put some or all in the freezer for a future meal.

About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, add the shredded cabbage and beans. Stir gently and continue to simmer. Serve with fresh-from-the-oven garlic toast.

*To make this a lower carb dish — with balanced carbs and proteins — just leave out the beans. Here’s the nutrition info with beans:

Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 276
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13 g 20 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 25 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 38 mg 13 %
Total Carbohydrate 26 g 9 %
Dietary Fiber 8 g 31 %
Sugars 5 g
Protein 16 g 32 %
And here it is without:
Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 206
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13 g 20 %
Saturated Fat 5 g 25 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 38 mg 13 %
Total Carbohydrate 11 g 4 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 10 %
Sugars 5 g
Protein 11 g 21 %

Oven-roasted tomatoes

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On BLT’s, oven-dried, oven-roasted, in a sauce…

I had some less-than-stellar farmstand beefsteak tomatoes last week taking up space in my fridge. Actually, just several slices from one large tomato. The flavor was only so-so in the BLT’s we’d sliced them for, but I was reluctant to throw them out, so there they sat.

Then something (probably something on Pinterest) made me think of oven-dried tomatoes. Which are basically sun-dried tomatoes, with more control and fewer bugs.


Tried it: uh, YUM!

Below are links to several recipes, but since most of them call for Roma or cherry tomatoes, I was kind of improvising. The first one on the list is the process that I more-or-less followed. Here’s mine:

  • oven preheated to 200 F
  • large tomato, sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • seeds and the jelly around them poked out and set aside
  • tomato slices on a cooling rack; rack nestled in my favorite baking sheet
  • checked after a couple hours.

Because mine were thin and mostly jelly-less, they dried out pretty quickly. In two or three hours, some of them were already crispy. So crispy, in fact, that the pieces with a fair amount of peel were like super-tomatoey potato chips. And the tart, intense flavor? Hugely improved over the disappointing fresh version. I chowed down! (Hubs thought they tasted kinda burnt, but I thought they tasted great! Maybe he just got a bad one.) I’ll probably try some more next week, to see if I can recreate that great accident.
Oven-dried tomatoes from About.com
> Oven-dried tomatoes from Food Network
> Oven-dried tomatoes from Tomato Dirt

I mentioned that I had poked out the juices/goop from the slices before baking. One of the recipes I read mentioned “tomato water;” never heard of that, so I googled it. One “recipe” required a food processor, cheesecloth, and eight hours. But I wasn’t up for that, so I just took the goop, seeds and liquid and poured the whole mess through a sieve. It yielded about a couple tablespoons of tomato-pink liquid. There wasn’t enough of it to use in a recipe, but I tasted it — then added a wee bit of salt — and tasted it again, and it was delish! I can see it being a great liquid to poach fish in, or to put up in the freezer to add a little genuine summer taste to a winter marinara or soup.
About tomato water, from Bon Appetit
About tomato water, from New York Times

Also, if you want something a little less dehydrated, here’s a recipe for roasted tomatoes, which just takes them to a concentrated but still fairly moist stage. I haven’t tried this method, but if I did, I would make them without the herbs, to make them more versatile. 
Oven-roasted tomatoes from Kalyn’s Kitchen

5-minute frozen yogurt

cherry frozen yogurt

Made this tonight for a li’l somethin’ sweet after dinner. It’s SO easy, and pretty guilt-free! I used sweet cherries because they were half off at Fresh Market today. (The original used strawberries.) And so I changed some of the other ingredients, too.

Here is the original recipe.

Here is my variation (half recipe, compared to the original, because my food processor is 7 cups, not 12.):

Quick cherry-almond frozen yogurt recipe

2 cups frozen sweet cherries (make sure they’re all pitted)
1.5 Tablespoons real maple syrup
1/4 cup plain Greek non-fat yogurt (If you use full-fat, you may leave out the cream.)
…(to make it Paleo, use dairy-free yogurt and skip the cream)
1 Tablespoon cream (optional)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

UPDATED: I just made it a second time and I also like this version; the alcohol makes it non-Paleo…

2 cups frozen sweet cherries (pitted)
2 Tablespoons Disaronna or Amaretto
1/2 cup plain Greek non-fat yogurt (If you use full-fat, leave out the cream.)
2 Tablespoons cream
optional: additional sugar or sweetener, to taste

I put just the cherries in the processor first, and let them just get a little chopped up, till most pieces are halves or smaller. Then I added everything else and let it run. It clumped up on one side for a while, but eventually it all smoothed out. Taste and see if you want additional sweetness. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup.

You might have to scrape the sides down once. But it only needed a minute or two to get smooth — nowhere near the five minutes listed in the original recipe.

And this half recipe makes 4-5 servings, in my house. Your mileage may vary. Even if you double up, a serving of Version 1 is still under 100 calories, and less than 20 g of carbs! (The alcohol in Version 2 adds quite a few calories and carbs.)

Hey, if you want more sugar-free, guilt-free dessert recipes, check out my e-cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (version 1)
Calories 49
Total Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Total Carbohydrate 9 g
Sugars 7 g

Protein 1 g
(Nutrition facts via myfitnesspal.com)

Spinach salad with strawberries

strawberry-spinach-salad-540x310

Spinach salad with strawberries is my second-favorite salad of all time, a close second to quinoa and spinach salad — and no surprise there, since they contain many of the same ingredients.

I think a big part of what keeps this one at the top of my list over other green salads is that I only buy strawberries when they’re in season. (My test for whether they’re good and ripe? If there’s a box of them at table height and I can smell them when standing over them, they’re good!) And since here in Kansas, good strawberries are only available April through June, this salad is a rare treat.

(SO jealous of my niece who lives in California, and can get amazing ripened-in-the-field strawberries year-round!)

It’s good with or without chicken, and all ingredients can be adjusted to your taste.

Spinach salad with strawberries

Recipe: Spinach salad with strawberries

For each individual salad:
2.5 oz. baby spinach (or thereabouts)
sliced fresh strawberries, to your taste (maybe 1/2 a cup?)
1 – 3 T. feta cheese, seasoned or plain (leave out for Whole30)
red onion, sliced thin; amount to taste
1.4 c. pecan halves (or to taste)
half of a seasoned, cooked chicken breast (about 3 oz.) – optional
balsamic vinaigrette or onion poppyseed dressing, to taste

(or the Whole30 compliant dressing of your choice)

Combine all ingredients; toss; enjoy!
—————-
Nutrition info, according to myfitnesspal.com:
Calories: 444
Carbs: 17
Fat: 32
Protein: 24
Sodium:  780
Sugar: 9

Super-simple creamy Italian dressing

creamy Italian dressing - sugar-free option

Creamy Italian dressing is one of my husband’s favorite salad dressings. It’s getting harder to find in the grocery store, and the ones that we had tried tasted so fake and sugary — the side effect of making pretty much all your salad dressings from scratch.

Then I found this one! The original recipe is on AllRecipes, but I’ve tweaked it to make it my own; I reduced the sugar and made a few other minor tweaks. Make it without the sugar, and use homemade mayo, and you’ve got a Paleo, Whole30-compliant Italian dressing!

Tried it; loved it; it’s a keeper!

I made it as a spread/dip for homemade submarine sandwiches a couple nights ago. My husband still misses a sub that Pizza Hut used to have on the menu, which had a similar spread on it, and this recipe is a good fit. Then the next day for lunch, I had a sub-sandwich-inspired salad (shown in the photo above). Romaine lettuce with diced ham, pepperoni, and salami; mozzarella cheese, and diced tomatoes. And pickled onions — which are also a great sandwich topper.

It’s really quick and easy to make. Tastes best if you make it a few hours or a day ahead, but I’ve made some notes in the recipe about how to adapt it if you need to serve it right away.

Yay! No more store-bought creamy Italian dressing!

Creamy Italian Dressing (low or no sugar)

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. water
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. granulated onion
1/4 t. white sugar*
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Place the minced garlic and olive oil in a small dish and microwave for 30 seconds.

Combine this and all the other ingredients in a 12 – 16 oz. jar and shake well.

Refrigerate for a few hours; better overnight.

*If you will be storing it 24 hours before use, you might skip the sugar. If you are living sugar-free, you can leave it out or replace it with your favorite sweetener. If you will be serving it right away, you might want to reduce the vinegar slightly and increase the sugar to taste.

 

Truly the best & easiest way to cook bacon!

best way to cook bacon

I’ve tried ’em all — stovetop, grill, microwave, and oven on a slotted broiling pan — but this method makes crispy, evenly-done, flat bacon with substantially less mess than any other method.

Here’s the summary:

  • use good quality, fairly thickly-cut bacon (I like Wright brand, at Dillon’s)
  • preheated 400 F oven
  • good quality cookie sheet: half sheet for 8 oz of bacon; full sheet for 16 oz.
  • cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil completely; up the sides and around the edge, for the easiest clean up
  • lay the bacon on the foil, close but not touching
  • bake for 12 minutes, pour off excess fat (save it for another use), return to the oven
  • check every two minutes till done to your liking, minus a bit (it will continue to cook a bit after being pulled from the oven)

Clean-up consists of carefully draining off the rest of the grease, wadding up the foil and tossing it in the trash!

For more details, check out the original article from The Kitchn. (Photo from The Kitchn.)

Emergency, quick, easy BBQ sauce

Emergency BBQ sauce recipe
Everybody’s got a bottle of BBQ sauce in their fridge, right?

Except, of course, if you’ve already been to the store, and the meat is in the oven, and you don’t want to go back out again. True story.

But a little desperation is often the beginning of a great new recipe.

A little googling turned up a recipe which claims to be “A Very Popular BBQ Sauce.” It looked quick and simple, so I used this as the starting point for my DIY BBQ sauce. I needed to scale it down, cut back on the sugar, and replace the hot sauce. I was very happy with the result! I think you will be, too.

(Note: Unless you’re using homemade ketchup, there will still be sugar and/or corn syrup in the ketchup. To avoid corn syrup in store-bought ketchup, look for the word “Simple” on the front label — and check the actual ingredients list on the back. Even if you use store-bought ketchup, this recipe still has waaaaaay less sugar than anything you can find at Kroger, and is cheaper than anything you can buy at Whole Foods!)

(Oh, so you’re hardcore on sugar, huh? Here’s a sugar-free ketchup recipe.)
.

Emergency easy BBQ sauce

1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. brown sugar (or 1/4 c. maple syrup, and omit water)
3 T. water
3 T. red wine vinegar
1-1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce (or more if you like it, or optional if you don’t have it)
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. adobo sauce, or more if you like it spicy (optional; adds heat and smokiness)
1/8 t. salt

If you’ll be applying the sauce to meat that’s going back on grill or oven, you can just mix it up and add it in/on.

If serving as a condiment, it will benefit from a brief heating….

Put everything in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir till well combined and cook for one or two minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.

Remove from heat and let cool.

photo credit: The mofoJT via photopin cc

Recipe review: Key Lime Laraballs

key-lime-larabar-ball-recipe
Key Lime Laraballs
Call them nut balls, energy bites, or no-bake cookies. No matter what you call them, I love ’em! First of all because I LOVE the flavor, but also because they are a totally guilt-free treat!
Let’s just list all the things these have going for them:
  • Quick and easy to make; no bake.
  • Raw, vegan, gluten free.
  • Acceptable as an occasional paleo-friendly treat.
They are very dominantly lime-flavored. If you don’t love lime or you’re a wimp when it comes to sour things, you might want to make mix it up it as-is, then taste before you start rolling the dough into balls. I’m glad I did, because since I was using unsweetened coconut, and I had to add a little extra dates and a splash of vanilla to sweeten it up a bit.
Try them! YUM!
Here’s the original recipe, from peasandcrayons: Key Lime Larabars.
And here are my tweaks:

1/2 cup chopped dates (pre-chopped; coated w/ dextrose)
1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (+ extra for coating)
1-2 Tablespoons raw, unsalted walnuts
2-3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon real maple syrup
1 splash vanilla extract

Combine in food processor till it starts sticking together. You may need to stop a scrape things down a couple times. Taste and add more dates and/or syrup as needed.

Put mixture in a small bowl and chill in the fridge for about five minutes. Remove, roll into balls, and roll the balls in shredded coconut. Place in a closed or plastic-wrapped container and store in the fridge.