Beet Ricotta Gnocchi

I am not a fan of beets! My family will attest to that. However, when they come in my CSA box, I have to eat them. In order to do that I find or create recipes that allow me to incorporate them into my diet. I adapted this recipe from a recent Food and Wine recipe, and it was heavenly! I love to top this with Brown Butter and Sage leaves, but any pasta sauce will do.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a baking dish with a lid, place beets and drizzle olive oil to coat.
Salt and pepper the beats.
Add 1/4 C filtered water to the baking dish, cover and bake for 1 hour, until the beets are tender.
Uncover dish and let beets cool completely.
Peel skin of beets and cut into 1-inch pieces, transfer to a food processor or blender to puree.
In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, combine 1 1/2 C of beet puree (reserve any remaining for another recipe), ricotta, egg, nutmeg, 3/4 C Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, and 1 T of salt.
Mix until ingredients are combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Sprinkle flour at low speed until dough comes together. You may not need all of the flour.
Scrape dough onto floured work surface, knead the dough until smooth and slightly sticky.
Place into a bowl and cover with a damp towel.
Let stand at room temperature for 4-6 hours.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper and dust with flour.
Cut gnocchi dough into 10 pieces and roll each piece into 1/2 in. thick rope.
Cut ropes into 1/2 in thick pieces and transfer to prepared baking sheets.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add 1/4 of the Gnocchi to the water and cook them until they rise to the surface.
Repeat this process until all the dough is finished.
Drain them and place them on a baking sheet that has been coated in olive oil.
To serve: Melt butter in a large skillet until the milk solids start to brown.
Toss in sage leaves and simmer until fragrant (med. low temperature).
Add Gnocchi to coat and serve with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Nachos Grande Casserole

After having some great (but not very healthy) Nachos Grande at a local restaurant, I decided to try to create a healthier version at home. It’s a pretty versatile recipe, so mix it up with whatever you have on hand. I’m sure peppers, corn, and olives would all be great in it. I like to use up beans and meat leftover from previous meals too, which makes for endless combinations.

Saute onions and garlic in butter until translucent. Add meat and homeade taco seasoning and cook until meat is browned. Next add tomatoes and beans and cook until warmed.
Preheat the oven to 350. Then spread 1/2 of the tortilla chips in the bottom of a 9X13 pan. Pour 1/2 of the meat mixture on top. Cover with 3/4 cup of cheese. Repeat layers. Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.
While the casserole is baking, mash the avocado with the fork and mix with the lactofermented salsa.
When casserole is done, top with shredded lettuce, guacamole and kefir/sour cream. (You could also serve any of these on the side, if you happen to have any picky individuals at your house like I do at mine!)

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Pizza Thursdays aren’t a takeout night for me. This is a time where a “gourmet” pizza can be thrown together in a short time and I know that I am nourishing my family. This pizza recipe happened when leftovers needed to be eaten and it received rave reviews. The great thing about pizza is that you can add or subtract toppings as you wish.

Preheat oven 425°
Chop onion and saute with butter until translucent.
Stir chicken, pesto, milk/cream and cooked onion together in a bowl and set aside. This mixture should not be runny.
Roll out pizza dough on a pizza stone or pan (make sure there is sprouted flour on stone or pan before rolling out dough). You can prebake the dough in the oven for 5 minutes or proceed to next step.
Layer the dough with the chicken mixture.
Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until cheese is golden.
Let cool for 5-10 minute before cutting into pizza.

Tantalizing Chicken and Vegetables

I created this recipe after working all day in the garden and needing an easy meal that was quick, healthy, and delicious. It’s a great way to use up a surplus of vegetables (either in your garden or fridge)! This is a super quick and satisfying meal that scored big in my home. It’s especially delicious with portabella mushrooms, too. *Note: if you use veggies that require a longer cooking time, simply add them at the beginning when you sauté the onion. For veggies that cook up softer, add them at the end. I serve this over soaked and steamed rice Enjoy!

Chop and brown onion and carrots in 2 T. butter with a pinch of sea salt. When onions turn translucent and carrots begin to soften, cover pan with a lid and let simmer while chopping up remainder of vegetables. This will allow carrots and onions to slightly brown. *Sautéing carrots with the onions allow them the extended cooking time needed.
Remove lid and add 1 T. Butter, chicken thighs, and ½ tsp Sea Salt. Sauté until chicken turns color and is just over half done.
Add the Soy Sauce, Lemon Juice and Honey. Stir. Add the peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes, and stir to coat them. Place lid back on pan and let cook an additional 3 minutes or so – until chicken is finished cooking. *Be careful not to overcook and make your broccoli or other veggies soggy!
Remove lid, stir, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if desired. Serve over bed of soaked steamed brown rice and enjoy!

“Everything Free” Chicken Enchiladas

Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, night-shade free…perfect for those with allergies or just wishing to avoid a particular food group. While the ingredient list is a bit long, it is actually simple and quick to put together, and has a wonderful flavor! The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a family.

Place cashews and water in a blender with next 5 ingredients and blend for several minutes until smooth. Strain, set “milk” aside and stir solids together with chicken and 1/2 tsp. salt. Divide this filling mixture among the tortillas, roll up, and place into a greased 7×9 pan.
Heat coconut oil and add arrowroot until bubbly. Slowly add chicken broth, cumin, and “milk” from the cashew mixture, heating until thick. Pour over enchiladas and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly.

Simple Summer Succotash

Carrots, summer squash, green beans, onions, and a bouquet of herbs really got along nicely in your trusty cast iron skillet. Add a bit of healthy fat to help your body absorb all the nutrients these beauts have to offer along with some protein thrown in and you’ve got yourself a complete meal of summery goodness. And talk about easy on the ol’ grocery budget. Succotash was popular during the Great Depression for a reason. This can also be made in your cast iron on the grill.

Brown sausage in a large pan (I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet)
Meanwhile, while the sausage is browning (be sure to stir it occasionally), prepare the veggies: peel and dice the onion and carrots. Snap the ends off the green beans and snap or cut them into thirds. Cut the potatoes into 6 wedges each and the squash into coins chopped in half. Mince the garlic.
Once the sausage is done browning, add all the veggies to the pan, give it a mix, and place the herb bouquet on the top. The flavor will infuse into the vegetables. Place a lid on the pan, set the burner to medium (maybe slightly higher, but not too high), and allow to cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, slice the mascarpone or cream cheese into tablespoon-sized slices so they will easily melt when stirred into the dish.
Turn burner off, remove and compost herb bouquet, and mix in salt, pepper, and sliced mascarpone or cream cheese.
Sprinkle grated cheese on top and serve warm.

Spaghetti ~ all in One Pot!

Not long ago, I ran across the idea of cooking spaghetti noodles and sauce, all in one pot. This method eliminates the need to cook the pasta separately, and even better, I don’t have to add tomato paste to make the sauce nice and thick. You can, of course, substitute dried herbs in this recipe and fresh tomatoes and juice, or purchased canned tomato products. The Jalapeno peppers make it spicy, but not overwhelming. Zucchini is optional, but this is a great way to use some if you have it… zucchinis take on the flavor of what they are cooked with, as they are so mild tasting.

In a large pot that has a heavy bottom, or a cast iron Dutch oven, melt the olive and coconut oils together on medium-low heat.
Add the onion, garlic, Jalapeño, green pepper, and zucchini. Stirring often, saute until the onions are getting soft.
Add the basil, parsley, oregano, and thyme and cook for about 30 seconds more. Add the ground beef. Turn the heat up a little.
Continue to cook, chopping up the meat and stirring until the meat is all browned.
Add the drained whole tomatoes and chop them up. Add the tomato juice, sea salt, and pepper.
Bring it all to a boil, stirring often, and then add the spaghetti noodles, stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring often for about 15 to 17 minutes. Once in a while, test a piece of the pasta to see if it is as done as you like.
Then, it’s finished, thick and lovely! Serve warm with grated Parmesan cheese.
This reheats well. Serve with a fresh crisp salad for a complete meal.

Spicy Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon

Black-eyed peas are often only served for New Year’s, but they are super tasty and nutritious legumes that are underplayed and under appreciated. This spicy dish uses summer produce to give new life to these legumes. Forget about serving baked beans at your next picnic or barbecue! These black-eyed peas with bacon are a better real food alternative to those sugary beans.

Rinse and sort the black-eyed peas. Place in a bowl and cover completely with very warm water. Stir in baking soda. Cover and allow to soak at room temperature 12-24 hours. 24 hours is best and placing in the oven (turned off) will keep the water warm for better soaking. Soaking your black-eyed peas this way will reduce anti-nutrients, increase mineral absorption and eliminate “digestive responses.”
In a large pot, cook the bacon until it’s crisp (or try this method for baking your bacon). Remove bacon, chop or crumble and set aside. (Have you ever considered making your own bacon at home? It’s super easy.)
Saute onion in bacon fat for about 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and chili and saute another minute or two.
Add the peas, diced tomatoes, salt chili powder and chicken stock.
Bring to a boil and skim off any foam.
Reduce heat. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes. Check to see if the peas are tender. If not, add a little more water and cook for an additional 15 minutes or so. There should not be much liquid and the peas should be creamy and tender when finished.
Pour the peas into a serving dish and sprinkle crumbled bacon and chopped scallions on top. Even tastier the next day! The kids gobble it up.
*If you do not have fresh tomatoes or Anaheim chilies, substitute a 16 ounce jar of diced tomatoes and 4 ounce jar of green chilies.

Teriyaki Kombucha Grass-Fed Flank Steak

Grass-fed flank steaks are thin and best when marinated to make them extra tender. This particular recipe uses kombucha as the acidic medium that tenderizes the steak. The ginger and tamari are particularly enjoyed with flank steaks because their flavors can penetrate the meat all the way through.

In the morning, or at least 3 hours before you plan to cook the flank steak, combine the coconut oil, kombucha, tamari, honey, garlic and ginger in a small bowl. It helps to drizzle in the coconut oil while whisking to avoid clumping of the oil as it cools.
Place the flank steak in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the steak. Allow to marinate for at least 3 hours, but preferably 6, turning it occasionally.
Heat a barbecue on medium low or get coals ready and hot.
Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Grill 6 inches from hot coals, if using wood or charcoal. If using gas or propane barbecue, turn heat to medium-low. Grass-fed steak should be cooked at lower temperatures for longer. Cook the steak about 3-4 minutes on each side for rare, 5 minutes on each side for medium. Grass-fed steak is best enjoyed on the rarer side.
Carve the meat across the grain, into this diagonal slices.
Serve with your favorite stir-fried vegetables and soaked or sprouted brown rice.

Grilled Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich

This fun twist takes PB&J to a whole new level! Gluten-free, easy to prepare, with chocolately, gooey deliciousness in each bite!
(Editor’s Note: Probably shouldn’t make this one a regular lunch, but it would be fun to do for a special occasion or treat.)

Spread peanut butter on 1 slice of bread and top with banana slices. On the other piece, spread jelly and then sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Sandwich together, and then spread the butter on the outside of the sandwich (both sides). Heat a small cast-iron skillet, and grill sandwich until the outside is crunchy, with the chocolate and peanut butter hot and melted. Serve with a glass of cold, grass-fed milk!

Whole Wheat Soaked Lasagna

Lasagna is a favorite around here even though it isn’t made often. Why? I’m not really sure, because it is really rather simple, even when making everything from scratch. This recipe has the perfect balance for me. Not too much sauce or cheese plus it holds together well when taken out of the pan.

6-8 hours before you are ready to make your lasagna prepare your dough. Mix the flour and whey add about 1/2 cup water and start mixing. Add more water as needed until a smooth but stiff dough is formed. Let sit 6-8 hours.
At least two hours before you plan to eat start rolling out the pasta to dry. (If you have pasta already made you will only need 1 hour)
Roll out pasta to the thickness of a dime cut into strips that are 2 inches by however long your pan is (in my case I make them 2 x 13 and 2 x 9 because I like to do one layer the long way and one layer the short way.) Let dry for about 1 hour.
While the pasta is drying get sauce and toppings ready.
To make your sauce place all the ingredients for the sauce in a pan and cook on low until it just starts to bubble. turn off heat and let sit until ready to use.
Cook the meat, add salt and pepper to taste.
Cut veggies.
(Start here if you already have your pasta made) 1 hour before you want to eat start putting everything together. Put a little sauce in the bottom of the pan to keep the first layer of pasta from sticking. Put one layer of pasta in pan add a 1/4 of the sauce and then 1/3 of the meat, mushrooms, peppers, and ricotta. Top with 1/4 of the of the mozzarella. Repeat with another layer of pasta, sauce, meat, mushrooms, peppers, ricotta, and cheese 2 time. By now the meat, mushrooms, peppers, and ricotta should be gone. Put on one more layer of pasta the last of the sauce and mozzarella, then top with Parmesan.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Take out and let cool for 5 - 10 minutes before cutting and eating.

Roast Chicken with Ghee, Za’atar and Pomegranate Molasses

One of my favorite comfort foods growing up was chicken drizzled with ghee and roasted to a crispy perfection. This za’atar-pomegranate glaze adds a slightly tangy thyme-based flavor to it, making it simply delectable. Best of all, it’s a super simple glaze to add to your roasting routine!

Rinse and salt chicken: First rinse chicken thoroughly under running water, and apply salt generously to skin and rub in. Leave for 10 minutes and then rinse off the salt.
Add to pot with ingredients: I use my stainless steal strainer pot because it is deep, but you can use any pot that would fit the chicken and water without splashing everywhere while it’s boiling. Add filtered water, chicken, onion, mastic crystals, bay leaves, cardamom, salt and pepper.
Cook the chicken: Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and simmer for 45 minutes or so. During the first 20 minutes of cooking, remove foamy scum that rises to the top and discard. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the inside of the chicken has cooked and the internal temperature is over 165F.
Preheat the oven and prepare chicken: Preheat the oven to 375F on the broil setting. Meanwhile, take out the chicken from the broth and set on a baking pan. On one side of the chicken, evenly drizzle 1.5 tablespoons of ghee and 1.5 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses to cover as much of the exposed side as possible and evenly sprinkle 2 tablespoons of za’atar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper.
Roast in the oven: I prefer to roast the coated side first before flipping to add the glaze, so that it roasts evenly and the spices stay put when I flip the chicken. Roast one side for 10 minutes or so, then take out of the oven to glaze the other side. Flip the chicken, and repeat the same step as above with the same ingredients and measurements for the glaze. Place back in the oven to roast for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. I like to spoon some of the melted ghee that has settled on the bottom on top of the chicken before serving, hot, next to roasted vegetables or a creamy soup! Enjoy.
Editor’s Note: You can substitute oregano for za’atar in a pinch, but it is definitely NOT the same. Make pomegranate molasses by reducing pomegranate juice over medium heat until it’s a a thick syrup.