Heartland Revival

In My Kitchen

Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones | 100 Days of Real Food

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
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I don't bake often but when I do, I prefer to find a recipe that uses simple ingredients and that is low in sugar. 100 Days of Real Food is one of my favorite blogs and when I saw them post a recipe for Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones, I knew I had to try them. I like that they always use whole grains in their recipes and that the only sweetener in this recipe is a few tablespoons of honey. (I also used this recipe as an excuse to use the dough blade on the food processor I received for Christmas, ha) I did make a few changes, which you'll see in italics in the recipe. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Blueberry Scones (from 100 Days of Real Food)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour (I used maybe a 1/2 cup more. start with 2 and then add if the dough is too sticky)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest, chopped (used lemon zest)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold butter (straight out of the fridge)
  • ¾ cup frozen blueberries (used 1 cup fresh blueberries, folded in after the dough was mixed)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup heavy cream (used coconut milk)
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. In a food processor fitted with a dough blade, mix the flour, baking powder, zest, and salt until combined.
  3. Cut the butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and sprinkle them on top of the flour mixture. Pulse until the butter breaks up into pea sized pieces. Add the blueberries and pulse again just until combined.
  4. Drop in the eggs, cream, and honey and process until the dough comes together into one ball chasing itself around the machine (or if that doesn't work, you can just bring it together with your hands).
  5. Turn the dough ball out onto a floured surface and pat down with your hands (or use a rolling pin) into one big circle that's about ¾ inch thick. If the dough sticks to your hands, pat it with a little more flour.
  6. Cut the dough into triangle shaped pieces (it helps to cut into the circular shape like you would a pie or a pizza) and place on an ungreased baking sheet. If there are any remaining scraps press them together and cut more shapes until it’s all been used.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Snow Day Vegetable Soup

In My Kitchen, At HomeAmber BransonComment

Yesterday I got woken up to "WHAT, Um, we need to go to the store...." Apparently the forecast for the beginning of the week had changed and now we were finally getting our first "real" snow! I had already been promised a trip to the History Museum so on our way there, we made a quick stop at the store to stock up on some snow appropriate foods including the fixings for vegetable soup. Well, the weatherman was right so I took a break from my snow day work to make a batch of soup to simmer until dinner. 

Vegetable soup makes me think of my childhood. I remember my mom taking leftever vegetables from dinner and putting them into baggies and into the freezer. Once our freezer was full of half baggies of corn, green beans, etc, she would defrost them all and throw everything into a big pot to simmer throughout the day. When I was little, I loved the soup EXCEPT I would always beg for her to leave out the cabbage.... but I guess we all have to grow up at some poing so I now love cabbage in my soup. (thanks, mom!)

As you know, I like being flexible when cooking so feel free to substitute or change the ratios between vegetable or spices. I use some frozen vegetables because they are convenient but fresh can be an option. Also, I make my soup without a fat, using broth to saute the vegetables but if you prefer, they can be sauteed with oil or butter. This batch makes a lot of soup, probably enough for around 6 bowls. I like to cook one big batch and then freeze for quick lunches to take to work. Hope you enjoy! 

Vegetarian Vegetable Soup
1 celery stalk
3 carrots 
1 small yellow onion
1/2 small green cabbage
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup frozen green beans
1/2 cup frozen corn (I like fire roasted)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 can of crushed tomatoes 
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
48 oz of vegetable broth (approximately)
salt and pepper to taste (keep tasting as it cooks to adjust the seasonings.. I feel like I use a good amount of salt for this soup)

1. Heat a stockpot and add a few splashes of vegetable broth. Add chopped carrots, onion and celery, season with salt and pepper and saute until vegetables are softened, about 3-5 minutes. 
2. Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme and oregano. Stir until the vegetables are coated in herbs and fragrant. Add more broth if needed to keep from burning. 
3. Add frozen green beans, corn and peas, stir and add more salt. 
4. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and cabbage and stir. Pour in vegetable broth until you reach the consistency you like your soup. (I like mine more stew like, while my guy likes it more liquidy)

Bring soup to a boil and then cover and let simmer at least an hour. I usually try for about 3 hours. Once you are ready to eat, remove bay leaves and serve. 

Birthday Cooking Class

Out and About, In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
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Last week, for my birthday my guy gifted me tickets to a Vegan cooking class at the Kitchen Conservatory. I was most excited because the theme was Mexican inspired and I would probably eat Mexican every day for the rest of my life if I could. The class was taught by Susan of Yellowbird Nutrition and the menu featured everything from tamales and mole sauce to tempeh tacos with cashew cream. The group was partnered up and then the pairs chose what recipe they wanted to tackle. We went for the pickled onions and pickled vegetables and then also helped another pair with the homemade flour tortillas. The food was delicious and I'm excited to try the recipes at home!

Final CSA

In My Kitchen, At HomeAmber BransonComment

Here are the past three CSA shares, concluding my little project! Over all, I loved the produce I received and it taught me a lot about eating seasonally as well as challenged me to use things I wouldn't typically buy at the store. For next year, I've decided not to participate in a CSA but instead visit a weekly Farmer's Market to do most of my shopping. I feel like I will be able to control any food waste better if I can buy week to week and purchase according to our eating habits. If you are interested in a CSA, I would highly recommend it! Unfortunately, the farm I used is taking a break in 2015 but the Local Harvest site is a great resource to find a CSA near you! Also, see the little animation below I made to show you the arch of seasonal produce. Enjoy.

Pumpkin picking + Red, White, Green "Hen" Chili

At Home, In My Kitchen, Out and AboutAmber BransonComment
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Happy Halloween! On Sunday, we made our annual trip to a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkins for our stoop. We visited a new-to-us patch, Stuckmeyer's Farm Market, since it was closer and we were short on time. For some reason we always seem to go on the hottest day in October so we didn't hang around too long, just enough to find our pumpkins and for me to gawk at the chickens for a bit. Once we got home we each started a pot of chili (meat for him, no meat for me) and let that simmer while we carved away.

 

henofthewoodschili

Recently, we were given some hen-of-the-woods mushrooms that had been scavenged by my boyfriend's dad and when we discovered it had a meaty texture, I knew I had to use it for a mock white chicken chili.  I love white chicken chili but haven't had it since I became pescatarian. Once I started collecting ingredients, I realized I was unprepared and only h one container of white beans. So enter red beans, green chilies, bell pepper and tomatoes, making this a Red, White, Green "Hen" Chili.

Ingredients:
1 medium onion
1 medium bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups hen of the woods mushrooms (any meaty mushrooms would work - such as portobello)
1 small can diced green chilies
2 containers of beans (26.8oz combined)
1 can or jar of diced tomatoes
32 oz vegetable broth
2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Dice onion, bell pepper, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute in stock /chili pot until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent. Stir in spices and saute for about a min until fragrant. Add beans, green chilies, tomatoes, broth and maple syrup. Stir and then bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce to low. Simmer for at least an hour. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in coconut milk.

I topped mine with sour cream and some tortilla chips. Here is a cashew sour cream for you vegans out there.

Note /// Spices are very subjective so feel free to improvise. The chipotle chili adds some smokiness and then the maple syrup balances out the spiciness. I actually had added some cayenne pepper to my batch and it turned out very spicy so I omitted it here.

Be well,
Amber

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Sourdough English Muffins

In My Kitchen, At HomeAmber BransonComment

In our house, we try and limit the carbs but sometimes a girl just needs some bread. So the latest gluten-full thing I have been making are sourdough English muffins using my trusty old sourdough starter. Besides the occasional Ezekiel bread purchase, (ok, and that box of pumpkin cornbread I got at Trader Joe's the other day) I prefer to make homemade bread so that I have control of the ingredients and I know what I'm eating. After a quick recipe search, I came across this recipe and have since made it twice. Practice does make perfect but they taste delicious all the same. See my recipe interpretation below for some ingredient options in case you have a dairy allergy or want to make it vegan-friendly.

SourdoughMix

Here's what you need to make them:
1/2 cup of sourdough starter
1 cup of milk (use unsweetened dairy-free milk to make vegan. I prefer coconut milk)
2 cups of flour (whole wheat preferably)
1 Tbs of honey (or use maple syrup to make vegan)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda

Flour or cornmeal, for dusting

Stir the starter into the milk until it's dissolved and then add the flour.  Stir to combine, cover with a plate or plastic, and leave out for 8 hours or overnight. I have left it for only 6 hours and it's done fine.

Next, add the honey, salt and baking soda and mix well. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes with wet hands. Flatten it out to 3/4" thick and cut with a biscuit cutter or a drinking glass into rounds. Repeat with scraps until they've all been made into rounds. Place muffins on a surface dusted with cornmeal or flour cover and let them rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Spray skillet (or griddle if you're fancy) lightly with spray oil or add a little butter. (If it’s nonstick, you may not need any grease at all.) Heat to medium high and cook muffins for about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned on the top and bottom and cooked through.

Notes /// Using WET hands when touching the dough is very important! I also run the biscuit cutter under water to keep it from sticking.

Recipe adapted from here. For more information on a sourdough starter go here.

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These muffins make a perfect quick breakfast for me as I'm known to roll out of bed and head for the office. After cooking up a big batch, I let them cool and then go ahead and split them, individually wrap and then store them in the freezer in ziplock bags. When you're ready to eat one, just pop them into the toaster and top with your favorite nut butter. (or in my case, peanut butter with chia and flax seeds from Trader Joe's.) They are pretty great at other times of the day too. Mini pizzas with homemade sauce and fresh mozzerella? Done. Tuna or Egg salad? Easy-peasy. Quick snack to cure the hangries? Been there, done that. 

Interested in easy ways to implement a more-fun, fewer-ingredients way to eat? Contact me for a FREE session to go over all of your health and food desires.

Be well,
Amber

CSA:8 + CSA:9

In My Kitchen, At HomeAmber BransonComment

Big changes over here with a move and merging of two households! I've basically been making the same dishes with my CSAs so I am combining 8+9 into one post. Despite the hectic schedule that comes with a move, I was still able to can and preserve some of my CSA. I mainly canned tomato sauce and pickles with these two CSAs and also made a batch of sun-dried tomatoes in the dehydrator.  Looking forward to having fresh produce during the blustery Missouri winter months.

 

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CSA 8:

Tomatoes: salsa, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce
Cherry and/or Plum Tomatoes: sun-dried tomatoes using the dehydrator
Green Beans: sauteed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Melons: (watermelon) as a snack!
Onions: misc.
Cucumbers: maple bourbon pickles for Christmas gifts (and as a special garnish for Bloody Mary's)
Summer Squash: curry squash soup
Sweet Peppers: salads
Garlic: misc.
Lettuce: salads

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CSA: 9

Loose-leaf Kale: Kale Ceasar salad
Okra
: Fried okra (recipe courtesy of Riverbend Roots Farm)
Tomatoes
: tomato paste (to be made into Ketc
Green Beans
: sauteed with onion and bell pepper (omitted the bacon grease and used butter instead and vegetable broth to make it vegetarian friendly
Cherry or Plum tomatoes
: in salads and bruschetta
Cucumbers: cucumber salad and pickles
Sweet Peppers
: in salads
Summer Squash: squash au gratin
Zucchini
: hashes
Onions
: misc.
Garlic: misc.

CSA:7

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
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Pretty obvious who the star of this week's CSA is, as well as the next few weeks I'm sure. Fine by me since I recently bought myself a canning set and a huge canning pot. Here's what I did with this share. (as I am a few weeks late posting this)

Tomatoes - made into canned stewed tomatoes and salsa
Cherry and Plum tomatoes - salads and
LOTS of bruschetta
Onions - in breakfast hashes
Cucumbers - raw or made into Whiskey Brine Pickles
Zucchini/Summer Squash  - breakfast hash and yet to be used...
Fennel - in juice
Basil - in bruschetta, pesto and still on my counter... I've figured out how to make it last forever!
Lettuce
- used in a Mexican-type salad since it was bitter

Already looking forward to my next pickup (which is tomorrow) and canning some pasta sauce and more pickles. How is your CSA going? Are you canning anything?

CSA:6

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA6

Since I am so late in posting this, the contents of this CSA is long gone! Here is what I did with my share:

Tomatoes - in my Sourdough Calzones (with basil and balsamic)
Cherry o Tomatoes -
Double Tomato Bruschetta (with this recipe, I usually use sun-dried tomatoes, NOT in oil and skip the cheese)
Lettuce - Salads
Potatoes - breakfast hashes
Cucumbers - salads, with hummus
Summer Squash & Zucchini - roasted together with onion, garlic and red pepper flakes
Green Peppers - raw with hummus
Basil - in Calzones, Bruschetta, and for Blueberry Basil Jam sweetened with honey
Scallions - in everything

Purplette onions - in hashes and salads
Onions - with the roasted squash and zucchini

CSA:5

At Home, In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA:5

My CSA pickup was on July 3rd right before the holiday weekend so I wasn't able to plan and start enjoying until the Sunday after the 4th of July. Boy, was I glad to come home to some fresh vegetables after the (to many) fried fair foods and sweets. So far, this is the share that I am most familiar with except for the fennel... to be honest, the fennel makes me very nervous. I am not a fan of licorice and when I put the fennel away, I caught a whiff of just that. After some googling "fennel recipes", I decided on Roasted Fennel with Parmesan from Food Network. The reviews claim that the licorice taste goes away when roasted, and I love anything with parmesan on it so this seemed the best choice. As I am writing this, I have made most of the below except for the fennel so I will come back and update my experience. Hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend!

Carrots: pickled and roasted
Potatoes: roasted and mashed
Celery: chopped and then froze for soup bases this winter
Bunched Purple Baby Onions: in salads and hash
Fennel: roasted with parmesan
Cabbage: roasted with carrots and potatoes
Cucumbers: cucumber salad
Summer Squash: squash au gratin for one
Zucchini: breakfast hash with easy-over eggs
Parsley: garnish, in cucumber salad

 

FENNEL UPDATE /// In attempt to use up the rest of my CSA, I combined the cabbage, carrots and fennel, roasted with thyme and rosemary, and then topped with fresh parmesan cheese. As a whole, it wasn't too bad! I am still getting used to the fennel flavor but am open to using it other ways to see what I like best. After all, it it very good for you!

CSA:4 + Sesame Seed Dressing

In My Kitchen, At HomeAmber BransonComment
CSA4

After receiving Kohlrabi in my share last week,  I was a little perplexed. I had never seen or eaten Kholrabi so I was at a loss as to how I was going to use it. After some research, I found a few salad recipes to try it in and ended up making a salad of mixed greens, red onion and equal parts Kohlrabi + apple. I am a fan of making homemade salad dressings and have gotten pretty good at winging it so for this salad, I made up a sesame seed dressing. I'd say it turned out pretty well so I thought I would share the recipe.

Sesame Seed Dressing
scant 1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients into mason jar or container with lid and shake until combined. The dressing will store in the refrigerator for about a week. Shake to recombine before using.

Here is what's up with the rest of the share:

Chinese Cabbage - stir-fry cabbage
Peas - for a snack with hummus
Beets - juice!
Basil- grilled pesto shrimp
Summer Squash - in foil packs on the grill
Parsley - juicing
Scallions - in foil pack with squash, sauteed with cabbage
Garlic Scapes - in everything
Lettuce - salads
Kohlrabi - in salad with apple, red onion and homemade sesame dressing (see recipe above)

 

 

 

CSA: 3

At Home, In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
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Here is the latest and greatest from my CSA. This week's share had several items that I had never eaten or cooked with but I am up for the challenge. Using more ingredients sourced locally and in season has started to change my thinking when shopping at the grocery store. I can tell tremendously the difference in quality of foods out of season compared to in season. It feels good to be more in tune with nature!

Swiss Chard: Lemon Garlic Swiss Chard
Lettuce: Salads, of course
Bag of Lettuce Mix (not pictured): Same as above
Scallions: in stir-frys, salads, everything
Kohlrabi: Shaved with Apple and Hazelnuts
Bok Choy: Salad from CSA:1
Turnips: Caramelized, served with an egg on top. (made this for last Sunday's breakfast, SO GOOD)
Strawberries: In salads and in breakfast overnight oats
Peas: As a snack or in a stir-fry
Garlic Scapes: In salad dressings, stir-frys, wherever I would normally use garlic

What new vegetables have you tried lately? It's so easy to Google recipes and find how to prepare foods; there are no excuses with today's technology. Next time you are at the store or farmers market, purchase a vegetable that you've always wondered about but never had the courage to try it!

CSA: 2

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment
CSA2

These are the contents of my CSA from last Thursday. So many greens! Here's what I have planned:

2 heads of bok choy: crunchy slaw

2 heads of lettuce: lettuce wraps and salads

1 bunch of kale: cheesy kale chips

Bag of spinach: salads and for juicing

Bag of baby kale: juicing

Bag of mixed greens: used for a Greek salad for Memorial weekend camping

Small container of strawberries (not pictured): in overnight oats and strawberry chia jam

I am most worried about using it all before it goes bad. I did some research on storing greens and so far, so good! Do you have any tips for storing greens? Let me know in the comments!

Making Recipes Healthier: A How-to

In My Kitchen, Food for ThoughtAmber BransonComment
 Art found  here.

Art found here.

Often times I find recipes that sound awesome but can be made a little healthier (IMO). I wanted to show you how easy it is to deconstruct a recipe and rework for maximize health benefits. I keep these 3 questions in mind when customizing recipes.

  1. How can I add more vegetables?
  2. Can I make this with less sugar? Or with a different sweetener (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar)
  3. Is there a more nutrient-dense or gluten-free grain to substitute with? (If the recipe calls for a grain)

Lets take this recipe I came across today. It sounds delicious, looks easy to make and I've been on a pineapple phase so this is right up my alley.

Here are the ingredients called for:

  • 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cubed (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. dark or light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. sweetened coconut flakes, optional
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • Serve over white rice

Here is what I would do differently:

  1. Reduce amount of pineapple (too much natural sugar) to 1 1/2 cups and add cubed zucchini (something green!) instead.
  2. Substitute vegetable oil for coconut oil. Vegetable oils cause inflammation (among other things) and the coconut oil will better complement the other flavors.
  3. Omit brown sugar as the pineapple has enough sugar. (reading comments on recipes that you've never made before can be helpful. many said that there was no need for additional sugar )

  4. Use unsweetened coconut flakes instead of the sweetened. Again, reducing sugar but not compromising flavor.
  5. Serve over soaked brown rice or quinoa instead.

There you have it! Cooking healthy food is not as hard as you think. What is a favorite recipe that you could rework to be healthier? Or what methods do you already use to make recipes healthier?

Let me know in the comments!

-Amber

Pom-love

In My KitchenAmber BransonComment

Pomegranates have to be one of my favorite fall foods (after pumpkin, duh). Perfect as a snack as I had them today, or in a salad with roasted kale, butternut squash and goat cheese (last weeks lunch).  Another favorite of mine is to make chocolate–pomegranate clusters, but this recipe is next on my to-make list.

Pomegranates are high in Polyphenols, which have an array of health benefits from reducing inflammation to normalizing blood pressure . Here is a little more info along with a few options for getting your Polyphenols.

Lettuce Turnip the Beet

In My KitchenAmber Branson2 Comments
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 I began juicing about a year ago and although I don't do it everyday (like I probably should), it makes me feel amazing when I do. I love it. And I'm totally into the hype. My favorite juice is anything with beets.

At home my concoction usually consists of:
1 medium sized beet (top included)
1 bunch of kale (or I use about half bag of kale from Trader Joes)
1 apple
1 small lemon
1 inch chunk of ginger

I got a great deal on this juicer and couldn't pass it up. With juicing being so popular, there are a ton of resources on the internet, as well as books, explaining the best fruit-to-vegetable ratios as well as recipes and techniques. Here is a good place to start.