Saturday, February 27, 2010

Homemade Meat Coating

Homemade Meat Coating(Shake n' Bake) is so simple you would have wished you thought of it sooner.
You can make a huge batch of this stuff and store it in your freezer to keep it fresh. No need to run to the store for those last minute dinners and you have no idea what you are going to put on your chicken or pork.
You can use a high fiber cereal like Fiber 1 or any other type of brand that you would rather feed to the birds then eat. You can also use dried bread crumbs or even fresh bread will work too. If you have fresh bread and want to use dried bread crumbs, just cut up your bread into small squares and place it in your oven on 400 degrees for about 10-20 minutes to dry the bread out.
After you have decided what base you want to use you now add the spices. And again, this really is a no brainer. Just add whatever spices you like.
I added garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, onion powder, sage, thyme and basil.

The best way to blend everything is in a coffee grinder, but if you don't have a coffee grinder you can use a food processor or by placing the ingredients in a plastic bag and smashing it with a meat clever. If you do either of those two methods you might want to sift it through a fine sifter to get the fine granules out so you can continue to break up the large bits.

The best results are from a coffee grinder though. As you can see the constancy is exactly like the Shake n' Bake brand which is like a smooth powder.

When I use the coating I don't add any egg or water to the meat. I just place the meat onto the powder and pat it to coat the entire slice. Once both sides are covered the meat is ready to be baked.

All baked and ready to eat. I love being able to make my family a healthier alternative to packaged Shake n' Bake. My children love their meat with mild flavoring. But you can make this hot or sweet to every one's taste. enjoy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wheat Tortillas

Dough in the Tortilla Press

Tortilla pressed out

baked on iron skillet

completed Tortillas

Tortilla shells are another very overly processed bread product. A true Tortilla will only stay fresh for a couple hours at the most. After a period of time they get hard and not very easy to use. Store bought Tortilla's are packed with preservatives and softening agents to keep the Tortilla soft.

Wheat Tortillas are relatively easy to make, but they are very time consuming. You need to make sure you have at least 1 hour set aside to make the entire batch. If you are pressed for time cut the recipe in half, the original recipe does makes quite a few. I also suggest using whole wheat flour since it is a lot healthier for you.
You do not have to have a Tortilla Press to make these. I just find it helps to make them round, otherwise my Tortillas end up into a shape that isn't a shape. They also can not be rolled out too thin, the thinner the better imo.
Having two baking pans going will speed up the process. The work is definitely worth the effort. These taste so much better then store bought Tortilla's. The only down side is they don't freeze so well. Within a couple days they seem to take on the freezer taste. I suggest wrapping them in wax or parchment paper, then in tinfoil and then a freezer bag. This might be the only way to keep them from absorbing any smells. But they do defrost quickly and you can place them in the microwave for about 10 seconds to make them soft for wrapping.
In the past I have made Corn Tortilla shells using masa harina. These too are very good, but they have a much different taste then the wheat tortilla.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Vegetable Broth

Veggies ready to be simmered

Results after simmering for over 14 hours

I made a HUGE batch of homemade vegetable broth the other night.

This is an affordable and preservative free method of having yummy tasting veggie broth for recipes and soups.
I used my largest roaster for this broth. I filled the roaster with carrots, celery, onion and a bag of spinach. The options are endless really. You can add beets, potatoes, corn, squash and so on. For spices I added some course salt, garlic, bay leaf and pepper. The great thing about making homemade is you can add these spices all to taste.

After the veggies and spices were in the roaster I filled the roaster to the top with water, put the lid on and slow cooked the veggies over night at 200 degrees in the oven. You can also use a crock pot but you wont yield as much broth.
This can also be done to make your own Turkey or Chicken broth. Just put your chicken carcass in the crock pot or roaster, add veggies like carrots and celery along with the same spices listed above. Fill the pot or roaster with water and simmer for many many hours. If you use a crock pot put the setting at low for 10 hours.
Most store bought broth contains MSG which is usually labeled as "natural flavouring". Be aware of all the ingredients. I tried to find ingredient lists at the Campbell's website and they have none listed. They provide the nutritional information but nothing further. I find it interesting that they don't feel confident enough in their own product to list the ingredients.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wool Dryer Balls

Dryer Balls I have made

When I had my son I became very conscience of chemicals that were used in every day life. One of the big things I really wanted to eliminate was using dryer sheets and fabric softeners. I went for a period of time using nothing in the dryer. The winter months were brutal to say the least. Home Hardware came out with their fantastic Natura reusable dryer sheets. I bought them when my son was 1 and still have the same set 5 years later. But I was lucky, we have family close to a Home Hardware and could easily get the dryer sheets.
I was surfing the Internet one day and came across some instructions on how to make your own wool dryer balls. I thought the idea was wonderful and made a few.
They are simple to make and they really do work. Having about 4-6 balls in your dryer at one time is ideal, but I found that even 2 was good enough for regular cotton clothing.

If you haven't considered why fabric softener and dryer sheets are dangerous please read below and consider eliminating this harmful chemical from your home.
Why is Fabric Softner unsafe?

Many people will remember a famous TV ad where a woman races to her washing machine, fabric softener in hand, only to arrive just as the wash ends. This woman who "forgot to ad the fabric softener" was actually doing herself and her family a favor.
Although they may make your clothes feel soft and smell fresh, fabric softener and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products around. And chances are that the staggering 99.8 percent of Americans who use common commercial detergents, fabric softeners, bleaches, and stain removers would think twice if they knew they contained chemicals that could cause cancer and brain damage.
Here is a list of just some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets:

* Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
* Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
* Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
* Limonene: Known carcinogen
* A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage

* Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list

*Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders

* Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic

* Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders

* Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

So how could products with pretty names like Soft Ocean Mist, Summer Orchard and April Fresh be so dangerous?
The chemicals in fabric softeners are pungent and strong smelling -- so strong that they require the use of these heavy fragrances (think 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover up the smells. Furthermore, synthetic fabrics, which are the reason fabric softeners were created in the first place, do not smell good either when heated in a dryer or heated by our bodies ... hence the need for even more hefty fragrances.

In other words, remove all the added fragrance that endears people to fabric softeners and -- like the cliché wolf in sheep's clothing -- the real smells of the chemical-laced fabric softener and the synthetic fabrics they were designed around may prompt people to shoot their laundry machines and be done with it.
Are "Soft" Clothes Worth It?
Fabric softeners are made to stay in your clothing for long periods of time. As such, chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb. Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the dryer and the chemicals are released through dryer vents and out into the environment. Health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric softeners include:
* Central nervous system disorders
* Headaches

* Nausea

* Vomiting
* Dizziness

* Blood pressure reduction

* Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract

* Pancreatic cancer
Soften Your Clothes Safely With These Tips

Even if you don't feel the effects of these chemicals today, they can affect you gradually over time, and children, whose systems are still developing, are particularly at risk. There's really no reason to expose yourself to these risky chemicals when natural alternatives exist. Not only are they safer for you, your family and the environment, but they're much more economical too:
* Add a quarter cup of baking soda to wash cycle to soften fabric
* Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to rinse to soften fabric and reduce cling

Monday, February 15, 2010


Shaped and ready to be boiled


Baked and ready to eat!

All these need is a little jam or cream cheese, yummy!

No I am not a carb addict. But I find breads are the one food product that is very over processed. I challenge you to find a store bagel with only 5 ingredients. If you do let me know! I even find that many fresh bakery's still add preservatives and have a long list of ingredients that I can not even read, let alone pronounce.

I had made these bagels a long time ago when my children were small. For some reason they seemed much easier to make today compared to back when my kids were scooting around.

These are seriously very simple to make and take no time at all.

If you don't have a bread machine I encourage you to make a triple batch of these in a bowl. The only negative thing about this recipe is that it only makes 8 Bagels.

I have a second whole wheat batch in the bread machine right now. Hopefully these ones will make it into the freezer for quick snacks.

Your options are endless with this recipe. You can make chocolate chip ones for the kids, sun dried tomato and cheese, flax seed and rosemary(you get my point). Have fun making them and enjoy eating a chemical free bagel.

I would also assume that the calories from this recipe will be significantly less then a store bought bagel. You can cut out the sugar which will make them even lower in calories.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Refried Beans-not from a can

Refried Beans without the Refry.

I don't know many people who don't like refried beans. The canned variety, brand name or no name is pretty darn good.

About 2 years ago when all the issues with BPA came to light and the fact that canned foods were sitting in cannes lined with BPA, I decided to try and find recipes for some of my favorite canned foods.

I came across this recipe for Refried Beans without the Refry. I have to tell you, I have never bought a can of refried beans since. These are so simple to make and they taste SO GOOD! You can freeze the left overs (cause it does make a bunch). My only suggestion is to make sure they are fairly wet. If you drain them completely you will have dried out beans after they have been in the freezer for a while. I also cook them on low for 10+ hours overnight.

Freeze them in small 1cup size containers for fast defrosting. They make great quick lunches for the kids(my kids love these beans) great taco night dinners and also great for bean dips.

If you don't have a crock pot/slow cooker, buy one!