Poached Eggs over Winter Vegetable Hash

20140127-111847.jpgSince learning I was allergic to corn, I have opted to purchase pasture raised eggs. The first time I tried them I was astonished at the dramatic difference in color, flavor, and health benefits. I still never get over it! Such a creamy white, and such a brightly colored, orange yolk! I will never, ever go back. 

I once read on a website where someone said that man cannot make a better sauce than the oozing yolk of a good soft-cooked egg. I could not agree more! Although I used to think making poached eggs at home was never worth the trouble, finding such excellent eggs changed my mind real quick. It also helps that I found what I think is the perfect way to poach eggs! No more straggly egg white frothing in the water. Here is a neat poached egg with a perfectly glorious soft yolk! Continue reading

Oat-Free, Nut-Free Granola

20140121-162409.jpgFinding out that I was allergic to oats was not nearly as earth-shaking as finding I was allergic to corn or soy or potatoes. But it has proved very difficult to find grab-and-go, healthy, fueling breakfast options that are oat (and nut) free!

So this month when planning my grocery list, I resolved that I was going to make a delicious, allergy-legal granola for cereal and yogurt parfaits. I did not know what I was getting myself into, but I am ECSTATIC about what came out of my little experiment! It’s the perfect blend of crunchy, sweet, and salty, with all kinds of wonderful textures. (Beware if you make this, your house will smell fantastic for days!)

Not only is this granola delicious and healthy, but portioning and storing it in mason jars makes it so easy to grab in the morning. I just add half a cup of milk, yogurt, or applesauce and run out the door. The protein and fiber in the granola are more than enough to hold me over until lunch.

Behold, nut-free, oat-free granola!

Oat-Free, Nut-Free Granola

  • Servings: 6 1/2 c. servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1/4 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 c. coarse wheat bran
2/3 c. unsalted, unroasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds without the shell)
1/4 c. unsalted, unroasted sunflower seeds
1 c. Arrowhead Mills puffed rice or barley cereal
1/2 c. dried unsweetened cranberries
1/6 c. sunflower seed butter
2 tbl. raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. ground sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the coconut with the wheat bran and spread in a thin layer on a baking sheet. When the oven is hot, place the baking sheet in the oven and cook until the bran and coconut has browned. Be sure not to walk away, because it can burn quickly!

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Pour the toasted wheat bran and coconut into a large bowl. Making sure that the baking sheet is clean of all bran pieces, spread the pepitas and sunflower seeds on the baking sheet in a thin layer and toast in the oven until browned as well. When the seeds are toasted, add them to the bowl with the puffed rice cereal and cranberries. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

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Turn the oven down to 300 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, add the sunflower seed butter, honey, sea salt, and vanilla. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir until the mixture is smooth and blended well. Add this to the granola and stir gently until everything is covered.

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Spread this mixture in a thin layer on your baking sheet. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Bake until the granola has browned and the smells drive you crazy. Be certain to watch carefully during this step too, as burning happens quickly! Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

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For easy storage and for grab-and-go mornings, portion out one half cup servings and store in pint sized mason jars.

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Whenever you need breakfast or a healthy mid-day snack, grab a jar, add milk/yogurt/applesauce/a spoon, and enjoy!

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What are your favorite healthy breakfasts?

Homemade Applesauce (no sugar added)

20140120-140146.jpgOn my trip to the farmer’s market this weekend, I saw a stand with baskets and baskets of gorgeous apples. As I work to eat healthier snacks, I knew that making my homemade applesauce again would give me an easy, healthy, packable snack option. And the best thing about farmer’s markets is that you can talk with the vendors about the practices behind their produce. I was thrilled to find that this seller’s apples are low spray, so much so that I didn’t react to the slice of apple she gave me to taste! Because I react to some spray or pesticide used on apples, I haven’t tasted a fresh apple in about 8 years! (I’ve never had a problem when they’re cooked.) It was truly a glorious moment! Anyway, I’m getting off track! I was able to collect quite a few of those pretty beauties and take them home for some delicious, nutritious applesauce.

It’s important to remember when you’re selecting apples for your applesauce- don’t just get the ones you like to snack on. When I could eat fresh apples, I loved the sweet-tartness of Pink Lady apples. However, when I make applesauce, I want it to be sweeter, and found Pink Lady applesauce wanted sugar. In order to make this as healthy and naturally delicious as possible, select naturally sweeter apples like Fuji or Gala. No added sweetener necessary!

You can peel your apples if you prefer an even, smooth applesauce, or leave the peel on for easier prep, added nutrients, and a little texture. Enjoy this applesauce with yogurt, granola, as a healthy substitute for butter in baking, or packed in small Tupperware bowls for breakfast or snacks throughout the week!

Homemade Applesauce

  • Servings: about 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 c. cubed apples (I used a mixture of Fuji and Honeycrisp)
1 1/2 c. water
1 tbl. lemon juice
1 tbl. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

In a large pot, add your chopped apples, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When the apples have come to a boil, place a lid on the pot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook the apples for 25-30 minutes.

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When the apples are soft, add the cinnamon and ground cloves. Stir to coat evenly and let the apples cool a bit before blending.

In two batches, add the apple mixture to your blender and blend until you have reached the desired consistency. Add water if desired to reach the thickness that you prefer.

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Serve and enjoy, or store for later deliciousness! Keep in mind, applesauce freezes really well!

How do you like to enjoy applesauce?

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Hedonist Hot Chocolate

20140104-123045.jpgToday is one of those cozy winter mornings. I love winter mornings where it’s sunny enough to look gorgeous outside, but cold enough for me to stay wrapped up on the couch in a fuzzy blanket. This morning I decided to make Poached Eggs and Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce for breakfast, and curl up after with a nice mug of hot chocolate and Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Netflix. What better way to spend a Saturday morning?!

Before you attempt this I’ve got to tell you: to me, the only right hot chocolate is rich hot chocolate. I don’t want a cup of warmed up chocolate milk; I want a creamy, decadent drink that makes me giggle with satisfaction into my mug. I want to feel like the contents of my cup contain everything that is good and holy about warm winter drinks. That is the kind of hot chocolate that this is.

If you don’t drink all the hot chocolate this recipe makes, you can still make the full recipe (or more) and store it in the refrigerator for a week. Warm each serving slowly when you want more during the week.

How do you like to spend cozy winter mornings?

Homemade Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 c. cream
1 c. milk
1/4 c. Domino sugar
1/2 tsp. homemade vanilla
1/8 c. Soy Free Sales semi-sweet chocolate chips*
1/4 c. cocoa
sprinkle of cinnamon

Over medium-low heat, heat the milk, cream, vanilla, and sugar, stirring constantly. When the sugar has dissolved and the milk is steaming, remove the pan from heat and add the cocoa, chocolate chips, and cinnamon.

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Stir until thoroughly combined, strain, and serve. Top with a dollop of whipped cream if you like and enjoy!

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*I am not being compensated in any way for my endorsement of Soy Free Sales chocolate products. I was so excited (after a LONG search) to find chocolate chips that are both corn-free and soy-free! They also have soy-free, corn-free white chocolate chips! Anyone who needs to avoid soy and corn and loves chocolate should know about this glorious find.

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Homemade Dinner Rolls

rolls crDinner rolls are a family-get-together tradition in my family. My mom is always asked to make them whenever our family gets together for holidays. I always looked at those fluffy, rarely enjoyed rolls reverently, and wished I could have them more often. Well last night I asked myself, “Why should I not try to make my own dinner rolls?” So I did! And when I tried them, I fell in love. So soft and warm and buttery, just the way they should be. And I loved them all the more because I was the one who put in work to make them.

You’ll love how easy these dinner rolls are. They’re so simple that after only two times making them, I have the ingredients and steps memorized. The most time required is for the dough to rise twice, and even so, they’re ready in about an hour and a half. Even though I just got a KitchenAid mixer (yay!), I didn’t even break it out for these. All you need is a big bowl and a spoon. I hope you like these as much as I do!

Homemade Dinner Rolls

  • Servings: 15 large rolls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 package yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
3 tbl. granulated sugar
2 tbl. vegetable oil
1 tsp. sea salt
4 c. King Arthur flour

In a large bowl, stir the yeast, warm water, and sugar. Let it sit for about five minutes, or until the yeast mixture is creamy and has tiny bubbles on its surface. Add the vegetable oil, salt, and two cups of the flour. Mix well with your spoon. Add in another cup of flour and stir until just combined. Add your final cup of flour and mix gently until thoroughly combined. Your dough should be elastic-y and coming off the sides of your bowl.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead about 4-6 times. Oil the surface of a clean bowl, pat your dough into a ball, and place the dough ball into your oiled bowl. Cover with a dish towel and place it in a warm area to rise for 20-30 minutes.

Once your dough has about doubled in size, tear off a piece and form it into a roll shape. Do this by tucking the ends under until you have a smooth ball of dough. Place the roll into a buttered glass 9×13 baking dish. Continue until you have used all of your dough. (The size of your dough ball call vary depending on how large you want your finished rolls to be, but keep in mind- these will rise one more time, so don’t make them to actual desired size.) Cover the baking dish with your dish towel and place in a warm area to rise for another 20-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Once the rolls have risen the second time, bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. (Baking time will depend on the size of your rolls, so keep an eye on them.) Brush the tops with butter and serve.

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As you can see, I didn’t get to take a picture before they were attacked… Enjoy! 20131231-195741.jpg

Homemade Apple Butter

apple butter w.spoon(rd) Merry Christmas to all of you!!! Thank you so much for joining me on this StrictlyDelicious journey! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday with your loved ones and that you enjoy today’s recipe: Homemade Apple Butter. It is perfect for this holiday season. 🙂

Although I’ve only tasted apple butter once before, I just knew making it homemade would be the perfect final element to my Christmas homemade goodie baskets. Along with homemade vanilla, citrus salt, and rosemary salt, this smooth apple butter made oh-so-sweet gifts. This was my first canning experience, but it really is as simple and addicting as they say.

Once I made this apple butter, I couldn’t stop eating it! It’s so creamy and flavorful and delicious. I paired it with everything I could, including a spoon. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as mine!

Homemade Apple Butter

  • Servings: 8 1/2 pints
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 1/2 lbs. apples (I used a combination of unwaxed Fiji and local Gala apples)
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 tbl. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt

After washing, peel, core, and slice all of the apples. I cut mine into thin slices, but I’m sure you could cut them any way. Put the slices into your crockpot dish.

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Combine the sugar, spices, and salt in a bowl, and pour over the apples. Stir the apple mixture with a spoon to coat all slices until evenly covered.

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Put the lid loosely on the top of your crockpot dish. By this I mean do not latch it closed as you usually would. I put my lid on a little crooked, leaving space on each side between the lid and the dish. This will allow the apples to cook down. Set the crockpot on low and cook the apples for twelve hours. Whenever you walk past the pot, stir the apples to recoat in the spices and liquid.

After twelve hours, add the apples to a blender and blend until smooth. You will need to do this in batches about 1-2 cups of apples at a time. Add a tiny amount of water if needed to help your blender. (You could also execute this step with an immersion blender.)

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If desired, pour the apple butter into a pot and cook on low heat on the stove to thicken it. Stir consistently. This will not take much time at all, and it is easy to burn the apple butter, so do not walk away!

Once it has reached the desired thickness, it is ready to store. You can store it in a lidded container in the fridge for up to three weeks, or can it for gifts and to store for up to two years. (For canning pints and half pints: fill to 1/2 in. below the rim, seal, and process for 15 minutes.)

Enjoy, and have a blessed holiday!

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Parmesan Rosemary Biscuits

bisThese rich, fluffy, flaky biscuits were the perfect accompaniment to my StrictlyDelicious Pot Roast, and are great on winter mornings with a hot beverage. These are so easy that I can make them with for a quick breakfast on the weekend or to accompany any dinner on a time-crunched weeknight. I will make biscuits using no other recipe! I hope you enjoy this variation, and want to add it to your comfort food recipe bin!

I don’t know about you, but I like my biscuits a little on the sweeter side. It usually makes them different from the biscuits made by others, and I think the sweetness is always a great complement for each of the savory dishes or sweet hot drinks that I pair the biscuits with! But I know not everyone is like me, so the recipe below includes options for you to modify the sugar to your tastes.

Parmesan Rosemary Biscuits

  • Servings: 14 biscuits
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 c. King Arthur flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda + 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar (or 3 tsp. baking powder)
1 tbs. – 1/4 c. sugar (according to your tastes)
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped if desired
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 c. butter, softened (To soften butter, let it sit at room temperature. Do NOT use the microwave, as you do not want your butter melted!)
3/4 c. cream (for less rich biscuits, use milk)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Whisk together all dry ingredients, including the rosemary and parmesan cheese. Then cut in the butter with your whisk until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Make a well in the center of your mix and pour in the cream/milk. Mix gently with your hands until just combined.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Knead only a few times (3-4), just until the dough comes together. Gentle kneading is what creates the buttery layers in your biscuits, so do not overknead! Roll your dough out on your surface to about 1/2″ thick. Use a pastry cutter (or like me- a crystal mug dipped in flour) about 3″ in diameter to cut biscuit rounds from your dough. Place them into a 9×13 glass baking dish.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes, or just until the biscuits have turned a pretty golden brown. While not required, waiting about ten minutes after removing them from the oven will decrease the likelihood that the biscuits will fall apart when you remove them from the baking dish!

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These need no butter, so just place on a plate or napkin and enjoy!

What are some of your favorite variations on a standard biscuit recipe? What do you like to pair your biscuits with?