Dehydrated Swiss Chard (in the oven)

Swiss Chard, and other leafy greens, have high levels of oxalates which can cause problems by forming stones in our body, especially in our kidneys. Since oxalates are water soluble, the blanching of leafy greens like swiss chard, spinach and beet greens is recommended before eating. I’ve tried to research whether dehydrating removes oxalates and have not found any evidence that it does. I would suspect that since only H2O is evaporated from the vegetable, the oxalates would be even more concentrated in the dried greens. Can a healthy person consume small amounts of high oxalic foods without problems? Probably.

Wash, drain and dry the swiss chard. Remove the center rib of the chard and cut the leaves into approximately 4″ pieces. Blanch in boiling water for a minute. Drain the chard and discard the water. Lay the leaves in a single layer on a parchment covered cookie sheet and place in oven which has been heated to 150 degrees. Check the progress every hour until the leaves are dry and crumble easily. When they are completely cool, store in an airtight container for use in soups and stews throughout the winter.

Potato Dumplings

Umm, this side dish takes you back to the old country. Serve these with your favorite hearty meat dish.

Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Mash potatoes and then add eggs, flour, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper. Add more flour if dough is sticky, maybe another 1/4 c.
Mix until combined.
Fill pot up with water and bring to a boil. Using a spoon, or a medium sized scoop shape dumplings. Wet your hands if you need to prevent dumplings from sticking. Place dumplings in boiling water and cook until they float, about 3 minutes. Remove from water with slotted spoon and drain.
In a cast iron frying pan melt butter. Brown dumplings in butter, using small batches. Once browned serve, immediately.

Creamed Rainbow Chard

Talk about eating the rainbow. I love preparing chard for my family. They range from dark greens to oranges, to reds. In this recipe you untilize all of the chard, including the stems. It is very tasty and delicious. It is also kid-approved! Fresh spinach works really well too.

Remove the leaves from the stems (something the kids can do)
Chop stems finely and set aside
Chop leaves of chard and set aside.
In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil.
Add stems to olive oil and saute until tender, five minutes.
Add garlic, then add leaves sauteeing for another five minutes
Salt and pepper taste.
Add cream and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately

Sauteed Brussel Sprouts

A fast, easy, delicious side dish, can use many kinds of veggies though brussel sprouts are featured.

Cut your veggies into similar sized pieces. I quartered the brussel sprouts.
Heat skillet (with a lid) on medium. Melt your butter (or whatever fat you’ve chosen).
Add your veggies and stir gently (just gently enough to not mangle them).
When I’m sure everything has been coated in butter, I cover it and reduce temp to med-low. Let it steam/cook/saute, whatever it’s doing under there that results in tender yumminess!
I check tenderness after about 7 minutes, but it’s not usually done yet. 🙂 When tender, add your sea salt and pepper.
Serve to happy family! 🙂

Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

A versatile and perennial favorite! Wonderful in burritos, tacos, tostadas and as a dip for fresh vegetables or home-made chips. We make ours from home-canned pinto beans so that it is quick and convenient, eliminating the time-consuming careful soaking and cooking each time. Never again need you purchase refries in a can, running the risks associated with BPA metal can lining.

In a cast iron skillet, melt the lard on medium heat.
Pour in the jar of pinto beans, including the liquid. Add the salt and spices.
Using a metal potato masher, thoroughly mash, and continuously stir the beans.
When they are mashed to your liking, continue to stir and scrape the pan with a spatula, and cook the beans until they are as thick as you like, keeping in mind that as they cool, they will thicken.
Serve warm. May be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for later use.
Another advantage to this method is that you can buy your beans in bulk, thus saving money, and won’t have to worry that they will get too dried out during long storage.
A note about the home canned pinto beans ~ if you’ve never done this, it is very easy. You do need to have a pressure canner to process them. I soak my pinto beans for 2 days, changing water 3 times during that process. Then I simmer them for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam, fill the quart jars leaving 1 inch head space, cover with boiling water, and process for 90 minutes at 11 pounds pressure. Please do not attempt this without consulting a reliable book of instructions on home canning. I recommend the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

Cream Cheese Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Pumpkin Pie

Looking for a way to sneak fresh squash into your family? This dish can be served as either as a dessert OR a dinner entree. Yup, it tastes that good.

Puree all the ingredients together using a food processor, immersion blender, or hand masher.
Fill 2 8×8 pans with the mixture.
Bake 350* for 45-60 min.
Serve warm or chilled.
FREEZER OPTION: This dish freezes great. Store uncooked in ziplock bags or pie-pans. Thaw and cook as directed.
AVOIDING DAIRY? DON’T HAVE CREAM CHEESE? This dish still tastes good without it. Just omit and enjoy.

Hash Brown Potato

Crispy, satisfying, homemade hash browns ~ a perennial breakfast favorite!

Carefully scrub your potatoes.
Grate them, and as you do so, put them into a bowl of cold filtered water, enough to cover the potatoes.
Begin heating a heavy skillet on medium/low heat.
Pour the grated potatoes into a colander, and then rinse them thoroughly under cold running water, stirring them around with your hand.
Allow to drain and press as much water as you can out of the grated potatoes.
Pour them onto a clean dish towel and press more water out using the towel.
Add the butter to your heated skillet. Allow it to melt.
Dump the grated potatoes into the heated skillet that contains the melted butter. Spread them out.
Now you can season them. I use salt and pepper to taste, a tiny amount of ground cayenne and a nice sprinkling of paprika.
Let the potatoes cook for about 4 minutes and then start stirring them around every minute or two.
Continue to cook, moving them around frequently until they are nice and soft.
Turn up the heat a little and press them down into the skillet. Cook until the underside is as brown as you like, and flip them over (it is not necessary to keep them all in one piece) and cook until the underside is brown also.

Classic Mashed Potatoes

A staple dish in many homes. Filling, delicious, and easy!

Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush under running water until they are very clean.
Now you must decide whether to peel them or not. I grow my own, so I know they are organically grown, but if yours are not, you might decide to peel. I usually don’t, but when the potatoes have ugly skin or are getting shriveled late in the storage season, then I do peel them first.
Cut potatoes into small chunks and place in a saucepan with 2 inches of filtered water.Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer until all the potato pieces are tender when you test with a sharp knife.
Drain the water out of the saucepan and add a modest amount of raw milk to the pan ~ just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Let it sit for a minute so the milk warms up.
Add some butter - as much or as little as you prefer.
Mash your potatoes, either with a manual potato masher, or an electric mixer.
Add salt to taste. A small amount of garlic powder will give you “garlic potatoes.” Alternately, you can finely mince some fresh garlic and add that instead, if you prefer.

Spinach Cheese Casserole

This is a simple, yet delicious casserole that goes great with a protein-based main dish, such as beef, chicken or salmon. Our 8-year-old thinks it is the greatest!

Use the butter to generously grease a 9×13 glass pan, then melt the remaining butter and let cool slightly. Whisk together eggs, cheeses, spices and spinach, then add in the melted butter. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with extra paprika. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until set. Don’t let it go too long, though, or it can start tasting dry. Enjoy!

Honey Roasted Smashed Acorn Squash

Roasted squash is my favorite. I love adding honey to heighten the sweetness.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash the outside of squash, cut open and de-seed.
Place on a baking sheet, lightly salt and pepper to taste.
Place 1-2 T in each squash shell
Bake in oven for 60 minutes or until tender, basting every 15 minutes with honey.
Remove from oven and let it cool slightly.
With a spoon scrape out flesh of in a large bowl.
Add butter, cinnamon, cloves, and remaining honey.
Mash squash by hand, or by a food mill, until smooth.