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Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Weekend in Food

There are not many weekends I get to spend at home with my children. Between their visitation with their father, and my SO's band schedule, we rarely get the opportunity to relax at home all together. This weekend was our first one in over 2 months and I had plans to cook. During the week I make sure to give myself 2 hours to make dinner every night, if possible, but I desire so much more time in the kitchen. My youngest child had a birthday party this weekend, so that gave me ample opportunity to put on an apron and bust out some ingredients.

The weekend started off with our family favorite - breakfast for dinner. It's a fall back meal when I have nothing planned, or I have the desire to be a short order cook. Often the kids will ask for pancakes, eggs, toast and bacon (on the rare occasions we have it); and my SO and I will tend towards fried eggs and home fries. I love breakfast. It's my favorite meal on the weekends, and it's my favorite special dinner. We had not had omelettes in a while, and with a fresh tomato straight from the garden sitting on my counter top, I couldn't resist pairing it with caramelized onions and sharp cheddar cheese. The home fries were a hodge-podge of root veggies and some left over pork ribs, and it was all served with some sauteed Swiss Chard.

(See Marshmallow Cupcakes and Veggie Rice & Dumpling Soup below)

Tomato & Caramelized Onion Omelette
Serves 2

4 fresh eggs
1 C cheddar cheese, grated
4 tomato slices
1/2 C onion, sliced thin & caramelized*
2 T butter
4 T water
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a 6 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of butter. Whisk together eggs and water. When the skillet is hot and butter has started to brown, pour in 1/2 the egg mixture and tilt pan around to coat bottom with egg. Turn heat to medium low.

2. With a spatula, gently push egg back from edge of pan and tip to fill with wet egg. Do this 2 times around the pan, letting the uncooked egg gently under the edge of the cooked egg. 

3. When egg is 85% cooked through on the top, cover one half of the omelette with cheese, onions and tomato slices. Fold in half and finish cooking. Flip gently onto a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

How to make caramelized onions:

1. In large cast iron skillet melt 2 T of butter over medium heat. 

2. Add thinly sliced onions and toss to coat thoroughly in butter, then turn heat down to medium low. Stir as necessary to prevent burning. Add a tablespoon of butter if needed.

3. Cook onions until soft and caramel color.

Root Veggie Home Fries
Serves 4

3 C potato, cubed and steamed*
1 C carrot, thickly sliced and steamed*
1/4 C beet, diced and steamed*
1/2 C onion, chopped
1/4 C pork, cooked & chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 C lard/oil/shortening
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

*Steam veggies until just soft. Do not overcook or you'll get mushy home fries. (They still taste fine).

1. Melt lard/oil/shortening over medium heat in a large deep cast iron skillet. Add in veggies once it is sizzling hot. You don't want the oil to cool or the veggies will soak it in and be greasy. You want it hot enough to sear the moisture in. Cook for 10 mins, stirring 2 or 3 times.

2. Add in the onions and pork and stir to mix evenly. Keep cooking 5 minutes, flipping mixture over once.

3. Add in the butter and garlic, and stir to coat. Continue to cook another 5 minutes or until desired done-ness is achieved. Season with salt & pepper.

Swiss Chard Saute
Serves 2

2 C Swiss Chard, sliced thinly, stems reserved for another meal
1/4 Water
2 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a medium cast iron skillet combine Swiss Chard and water over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes.

2. Add butter to Swiss Chard and toss to coat as it melts. Cook 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.


For my youngest child's birthday party I was going to make banana cupcakes with honey cinnamon frosting, and they were going to be amazing. Until I discovered meal worms in ALL my flour and oats in my cupboard. Admittedly, I hadn't baked in months because summer is too hot for that, and I had some oats from the farm that were probably the carrier. It was a sad moment, and I had to throw away all my flours. Which meant no cupcakes. With no time to go to the store, I called my parents to see if they had a box of cake mix (they live downstairs, so convenience was a huge factor in this). They did, AND they had some frosting....which was great because although I had confectioner's sugar, I had forgotten to buy butter.

The cake mix was your basic chocolate, and the frosting was cream cheese. I could work with this. In the cupboard I had some leftover marshmallows from a camping trip, and I decided to recreate an idea I saw on Pinterest. The directions are simple, but the results were perfect for the birthday party. I made 12 cupcakes and one small heart-shaped cake.

Make the cake mix as directed, or if you have the ability, make it from scratch. Take the marshmallow's and cut them in half. Place one half in the batter, gently pressing it down, but not so far it's buried. Bake according to directions, but cut time short by 3 minutes. When timer goes off, pull out of oven, press the other half of the marshmallow into the cavity formed by the first half. Bake remaining 3 minutes. 

I frosted these with the aforementioned cream cheese frosting, but I stirred in some orange flavoring for extra oomph. I had to go out the next day and buy a second thing of frosting, though, as one container was not enough for 10 cupcakes and a small cake.

Sunday Soup 

The weekend was a success and to reward ourselves for pulling off the birthday party, and getting some much needed chores done, I made us a hearty soup. Our garden has been over flowing with zucchini, summer squash, and green beans, and recently we've started seeing some small carrots and beets. I was craving a summer vegetable soup, but with colder nights being upon us, I wanted something with more substance. I needed dumplings! 

To start off, the day before we made the soup I started making a fresh veggie stock. I keep all our veggie scraps and meat bones in the freezer. Whenever I need stock I pull some out, boil it up for a day (or in this case 2) and voila! Fresh made stock. This weekends stock had a chicken carcass and a lot of summer veggie skins and left-overs. I simmered covered on the stove for 8 hours on Saturday, put it in the fridge with everything still in it, and then simmered again for 2 hours on Sunday. I strained out the veggies and put it in the fridge for 2 hours to cool. I then removed it from the fridge, skimmed off the milk and used about 6 cups for the soup. Delicious! And I have 2 cups left for curry tomorrow night.

Summer Veggie Rice Soup with Dumplings
Serves 4

6 C vegetable/chicken stock
salt pork, about 6-8 slices
1 C onion, chopped
1 C carrots, chopped
1/2 C Swiss Chard stems, chopped
1 C green beans, chopped
1 1/2 C summer squash & zucchini, chopped
2 C kale, chopped
1/2 C zucchini, shredded
1 T butter
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 C rice, cooked
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat soup pan over medium heat with salt pork. Cook for about 5 minutes, until pork is browned.

2. Toss in onions, carrots, chard, and green beans and cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. 

3. Stir in butter. Add in green beans, summer squash, chopped zucchini and kale, Sprinkle with salt and stir to coat.

4. Add 6 cups of stock and bring to a boil. Drop down to a simmer and cook 20 minutes, until veggies are soft.

5. Add shredded zucchini, rice and garlic. Stir and drop in spoonfuls of dumpling batter*. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. I served the soup garnished with fried zucchini and beet slices.

Gluten Free Dumplings

1 1/2 C gluten free flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 C buttermilk
2 T butter, melted

Mix together dry ingredients. Toss in melted butter. Stir in buttermilk until a dough forms.

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