Category Archives: Main Dishes

Chicken Nuggets

Many of you might remember my article that I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the dangers of eating conventional chicken nuggets. I specifically broke down all of the ingredients in McDonald’s nuggets, but sadly they are not alone. The junk that I mentioned that was in them is not just in nuggets, but can be found in many pre-packaged food-like substances.

So in order to avoid all of the junk while still allowing my children to eat the foods that they like, I came up with a healthy version of chicken nuggets. And guess what? It’s easy too! Who knew? What I suggest doing is to make a large batch of this and freeze them so you can have a healthy meal on hand when you feel yourself giving into the drive-though temptation that we have all felt. Serve them with some raw carrots or celery sticks for some added crunch.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 lbs. of pastured local chicken cut into bite-sized pieces (note- if you are using a bone-in chicken as I did, I suggest using the breast portion to save yourself the hassle of cutting the meat off of an un-cooked chicken on the bone)
  • 1 cup buttermilk or kefir
  • Enough flour to coat evenly (sprouted flour is always the preferred choice in this but use what you have on hand)
  • About 1 quart grass-fed beef tallow OR expeller pressed coconut oil or palm oil (expeller pressed coconut oil has no coconut flavor or taste but is still a healthy fat to consume-you must use expeller pressed as it has a higher smoke point than virgin)
  • A heavy bottomed stainless steel pan or deep fryer
  • About a tsp. each of the following seasonings (I didn’t measure so this is approximate)
  1. sea salt
  2. pepper
  3. dried mustard seed
  4. fenegreek
  5. adobo seasonings (the natural version)
  6. onion powder
  7. garlic powder
  8. paprika
  9. cayenne pepper (optional)

The How To:

First you want to slowly warm up the fat of your choice (I used tallow with great results) to prevent any smoking. While the fat is warming up, go ahead and add everything but the flour to the cut up chicken and allow it to sit for a few minutes. When you are ready to begin frying, (make sure the oil is gently bubbling) go ahead and cover the seasoned chicken that’s now covered in buttermilk or kefir in the flour. Once it’s covered completely, add it to the oil and begin frying the chicken in small batches. Make sure that you turn the chicken a couple of times to make sure it cooks evenly.  You want the chicken to look light brown all over-it will take about 5-7 mins. Use tongs to remove it from the hot oil and allow the fat to heat back up before starting another batch. Just keep going this way until you have fried all of your chicken! You now have super healthy chicken nuggets that you can serve right away or do like I did and serve about half and freeze the rest!

ENJOY!!! I really hope you like this recipe, I was so happy when my kids devoured them and asked for seconds. Oh and I also served it with a bit of raw honey to dip it in. Even I loved it!

This recipe is shared at The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop #48, day2day joys: Read the ingredients, and Real Food Wednesdays 5/18, and Simple Lives Thursday #44, and Fight Back Fridays 5/20, and Made it on Monday #10

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Lamb and Soaked Lentils

This dish was so appreciated after a long day; I just wanted to curl up with my kiddos and relax without spending over an hour in the kitchen trying to make them something healthful. I wanted something easy but also very comfort food-ish without spending all day preparing it. With a little forethought this is a very effortless meal to prepare that even your little ones will enjoy.

I will admit that I have never honestly cooked with coriander and fenugreek before and I’m really not sure why. I have only ever seen them in a couple of recipes and it’s a shame. They bring a certain mellowness to the dish that is really hard to describe unless you try it yourself. I wasn’t sure how much to use them so I didn’t measure the amounts and rather just sprinkled it in. If I had to guess I would say around 1/4-1/2 of  a tsp. Feel free to experiment starting with less and them build from there. Your mouth will thank you!

If you haven’t thought about doing a pre-soak with the lentils you can skip that step but I find it to be beneficial because it helps to break down the digestive inhibitors so you can get more of the good out of the legumes.  It only takes about an extra 3 mins. and also cuts the cooking time down some-about a 1/3 in my experience which also contributes to the speedy-ness of this meal. Honestly, it only took me the time to brown the ground lamb to get this dish from the stove to the table. So….15 mins? Maybe 20 tops?

So, in the AM (or about 7 hours before you plan to eat) soak 2 cups of lentil with about 2 cups of very hot filtered water. You can add a dash of vinegar or lemon juice if you want but it’s not entirely necessary for the phytic acid to break down, as long as the water is good and warm when you start. Doesn’t hurt to add it though.  Then proceed to recipe below.

Here’s what you need: (note that measurements on the spices are approximate as I did not measure because we needed to eat fast!)

  • 2 cups lentil soaked in equal amount of filtered water
  • 2 cups beef or chicken broth (I used homemade beef broth that I saved from when I made beef roast last week)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb. ground lamb-pastured (this is a bit more spendy than ground beef but not by much and it’s worth the splurge)
  • Touch of healthy fat such as: bacon grease, grass-fed butter, ghee, tallow, lard, or I just used a bit of the fat that was on top of the beef broth that I had in the fridge
  • A squirt of concentrated tomato paste or fresh tomatoes if you have them
  • Sour Cream and Cheddar Cheese for serving if desired
  • Seasoning-I didn’t measure them but I guess around 1/4-1/2 tsp of each:
  1. Sea Salt
  2. Freshly ground black pepper
  3. Coriander Seed-ground
  4. Fenugreek Seed-ground
  5. Adobo seasoning
  6. Ground garlic (fresh is better-about 2-3 cloves)

The How To:

First, saute the chopped onion with the garlic, if using fresh, and add to the pan with the lentils. Then add the broth and tomato paste to the soaking lentils and turn the heat up to about med/well. Now you can add the seasonings. Allow the lentils to cook while at the same time browning the ground lamb in the same pan that you cooked the onions and garlic in. Once the lamb is browned, simply add it to the lentil dish and allow everything to cook together for at-least 5-10 mins or longer if you so desire. I’m sure this could easily be converted to a crock-pot meal as well is you wanted.

Serve with a touch of full fat sour cream and some raw milk cheddar cheese. Enjoy, this dish is a real treat. I didn’t get a chance to take a picture-sorry!

Serves about 6

This recipe is posted on Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival week 5/2

And On Real Food Wed. 5/4/11 at Kelly the Kitchen Kop


Slow Cooked Grass-fed Beef Roast with Green Beans


This is another one of those super easy, super simple, super delicious meals.  It’s so simple that it hardly requires a recipe so I will just list simply how it’s made.

What’s so great about this is that I made the chuck roast in the crock pot the day before and pulled the meal together the next day shortly before we eat it. You can also cook a large batch and freeze some of the meat to make quickie meals later on, like a stir fry or beef tacos. This is a good meal to serve in any season, and it’s great for warmer weather because you cook most of it your crock pot which helps to keep your house cool. You will also yield about a quart or so of nice beef broth from this as well.

What you need:

2-3 lb. beef roast (chuck preferred)

Squirt of concentrated tomato paste (optional)

Seasonings to taste: sea salt, pepper, dried rosemary, adobo

1 large yellow onion, diced

4-5 cloves garlic, diced

1-2 lbs. green beans ( I used the last quart of what I canned last summer)

A little olive oil for heating it all together

The How To:

In your crock pot put in the 2-3 lbs. roast. Grass-fed is best as always. (It’s actually GOOD for you)  I used Chuck Roast as it’s my personal favorite roast meat because it comes well marbled and I don’t feel the need to add and extra fat to it. You can use a frozen roast just as easily as a thawed one for this; just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Pour enough filtered water to almost cover the roast and add the other ingredients. Place your crock pot on high for about 4 hours then switch to low until very tender.   At this point you can proceed with the meal to eat that night, freeze some of the meat for another meal, or stick it in your fridge to pull together the next day which is what I did. The left over liquid can be put into freezer bags or in a quart size jar to use for other meals that require beef broth.

To pull it all together simply take however much off the meat you want to eat for that meal and place it in a warmed pan that has the olive oil and green beans in it and warm it up. Pull it apart some to distribute the flavor as I did or just leave it whole.  I paired it with jasmine rice which helped bring it all together simply. Easy Peesy.

The picture looks pretty sparse because I forgot to take a picture before it was served. This was all that was left!


Braised Chicken and Veggies Julia Child Style

This is a variation of Julia Child’s Poulet en Cocotte Bonne Femme. Or for those of you that don’t speak French it’s Casserole-roasted Chicken with Bacon, Onions and Potatoes.  I also added leaks, ginger, mushrooms and white wine.  I took a risk with the ginger. I wasn’t sure how it would go with with the bacon. But the way I did it the ginger flavor was just enough to add depth to the dish without overwhelming it. This was very good. In a very gourmet sort of way.  This will please a crowd for sure. My family full with 3 picky eaters tore it up.

You will need:

1 large roaster chicken cut up into pieces. Save the breast for another meal-preferably pastured (grass fed-really adds to the flavor and tenderness. Plus it’s WAY better for you)

1 leak

2 medium onions

1/2 pd or more of button mushrooms

3 medium red skinned potatoes

5 pieces bacon (nitrate free)

3-4 cloves garlic chopped finely

2ish tbls. butter or coconut oil

1/2 cup white wine (I used cooking wine but the real thing would be better)

2 tsp. ginger chopped finely

about 1 tbls. fresh thyme

3 tbls. fresh parsley-leaves only

Kosher salt -good amount maybe a tbl.

Fresh ground black pepper

2-3 small bay leaves

1/4 or less red wine vinegar

Cast iron braiser or dutch oven (I used a braiser) You could also use a casserole dish but you need a tight fitting lid to lock in the flavor and juices

Ok, this is a bit time consuming until you get it in the oven but it isn’t hard at all. The beauty about it is that you can cook it all in one dish.

First thing you want to do is set the rack down to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 325. Also put your braiser on top of the stove and heat to medium. Now cook the bacon to an almost burnt crisp. You want to render the grease for the dish.

While the bacon is cooking you want to cut up the chicken, saving the breast for another dish. Pat dry the chicken completely and salt generously on both sides with kosher salt. You do this to achieve a better browning effect.  Once the bacon is done cooking remove it from the pan and place the chicken inside and begin to brown it.

Doesn’t look so hot yet, I know but your not done! So while the chicken is busy doing it’s thing on this side go ahead and start chopping up the onions. Cut them length wise, cut off the ends, peel and dice into smallish pieces julienne style.

Check to see if the chicken has browned sufficiently. You may need to move it around a but to make sure each part gets a chance to touch the bottom. You can go ahead and flip it over once one side is browned. Grind some pepper over it.

Now chop up the leaks, mushrooms, garlic and ginger.

Once the chicken is browned as evenly as possible go ahead and remove it and place it on a clean plate. Now add the onions and saute for just a few minutes before adding leaks, garlic and ginger.  As you continue to saute add the red wine vinegar plus some more kosher salt and fresh black pepper. Your pan should smoke up a bit when you add the liquid, that’s what you want. It will cause the liquid to reduce so it isn’t soggy but still imparts the flavor. Once the items are just tender remove from the heat.

Now add the mushroom and cook the same way. You can add a bit of butter if the pan is to dry. You cook the mushroom separately because they need ample room to cook properly.

Remove the mushroom and melt about a tablespoon of butter and the white wine into the braiser and let it melt. Once combined arrange the chicken back into the the braiser. Top chicken with some more salt and pepper and top with about 2 tsp. of fresh thyme.

Cut the potatoes into small pieces-sliced length wise not into cubes.  Chop up the fresh parsley and toss it with the potatoes, salting them as you go. Keep separate from the other veggies.

Now chop up the bacon and add it to the sauteed veggies. Toss it all together and add about 2 more tsp. of fresh thyme and some more salt and pepper.

Now top the chicken with the veggies and place the potatoes around the side of the dish filling in any gaps along the edge.  Top with a few more springs of thyme and parsley, the bay leaves and a dash more of kosher salt and pepper.

Put the lid on the braiser or whatever your using and bake for 45 mins. Check the meat and if it’s not done then you have two choices at this point depending on how much time you have. You can do what I did and up the temp. to 400 and cook for 15 more mins. until done or just put it back in and cook until done. Mine came out perfectly tender and you can do this if you are using a braiser or dutch oven. If not then I would just keep the temp. low and continue to cook until it’s done. You will know the chicken is cooked when the juices run clear. The meat will be really easy to pull off the bone at this point as well.

Cool. Now your done! Not so bad huh?

I served mine with buttered rosemary rolls. It would also go really well with rice or buttered egg noodles which is traditional.

ENJOY! Serves about 6

This recipe is posted over at Good Cheap Eats! Also found on Jasmine above Rubies and Penny Wise Thursdays at Nourishing Gourmet as well as Monday Mania #40 at The Healthy Home Economist


Lentili

This is another name chosen by my faithful hubby. Because it’s like chili meets lentils. Lentili. I thought it was clever.

So, this was a recipe that I adapted from something that I found on the Passionate Homemaking Blog. I wanted to do it in the crockpot because I was going to be running errands during prime time dinner cooking time and really wanted to avoid the temptation of drive through. So, I pulled out the crockpot and thought for a while about what I wanted to make. I remembered I had made this before in the crockpot so decided to whip it up because I remembered it being really good! And it is really good. Like comfort food to the max. Especially in the winter.

So you’re gonna want to start this early because it takes the lentil ages to cook. (If you pre-cook the lentils some than it will cut off a lot of time though, just adjust the liquid ratio in the dish) If you get started on it late then I would suggest par cooking the lentils first. I personally hate crockpot recipe’s that pretty much just keeps the food warm so I actually wanted the lentil to cook in all the delicious flavors of this dish. Just a note that you might want to add some of the chili powder and cayenne after serving it to kids. It wasn’t spicy but it did have a touch of a kick to it. But if your kids like that than by all means throw it all in there at once.

You will need:

1 cup lentils (I used green)

1 lb. ground beef (would also work with turkey)

3 good palm fulls of both cumin and chili powder

dash cayenne powder

1-2 tbls. white vinegar

1 onion sliced

3-4 cloves garlic diced small

1 tbls. Olive oil

1tbls butter

1 large can (about 28 oz) diced tomatoes

1-2 tbls super concentrated tomato paste (or more of the regular stuff)

salt and pepper to taste ( I used kosher salt-about 1tbls.)

3 cups water (you might want to decrease to 2 1/2 cups for thicker consistency)

Sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese to serve with

So, first you want to turn on your crockpot to high heat and put in the water, butter and lentils. Now take a skillet and add the olive oil and onion. Allow to cook down till about translucent. Next add the ground beef and garlic. (I started with semi-frozen ground beef and had to defrost it as it cooked as seen in the picture.) Go ahead and brown the ground beef really well. I like to do this because the flavor changes a bit when it gets really browned. The onion should be cooking with it at the same time.

Once the meat is done go ahead and drain any fat (I didn’t have any because we use grass fed beef which is VERY low in fat and the fats present are much better anyhow) and dump it along with all the other ingredients into the crockpot.

Now just let it cook for 7-10 hours on HIGH. Go even longer if you have the time. You really want those lentil to absorb all the liquid and cook through.

Top with sour cream and cheddar cheese, serve and enjoy! The leftovers will be really good from this too.

Serves 5-6


Super fast Gingered Chicken and Rice

This was really good! I had decided to make chicken and rice at the last-minute because I remembered that I had some left over chicken from making broth the other day that I needed to use up. I always use the breast and the dark meat separate and I had dark meat left over. I really prefer having the dark part of the chicken for things like chicken and rice because I think it has more flavor.

So this was super simple, fast and good! Great combination right! Great for a I have no time but must make dinner weekday meal. The only thing that you might not have on hand in the ginger. But you must have it for gingered chicken and rice. Other wise it would just be plain old chicken and rice. Which is good, don’t get me wrong. But this was special because of the ginger.

Ok, here goes. You will need:

1-2 cups cooked shredded chicken (dark part is best)

1ish tbls fresh ginger, peeled chopped and separated

1 yellow onion sliced thin and separated

3 cloves garlic minced and separated

Juice from 1/4 of a lemon or about 2 tbls.

2 -3 tbls butter

1 cup of rice ( I used white)

2 cups chicken broth preferably homemade

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

1 can or equal amount of frozen corn (optional but I didn’t feel like making a veggie side so this worked out) You could also use green beans I’m sure. Might actually be a tad healthier.

Ok, so like I said this was easy and it was done in less than 30 mins. so long as you already have cooked chicken. If you don’t, then that’s fine too just start to cook the chicken at about the same time you do the rice. You don’t really have to change anything else and it should still be ready at about the same time.

First, heat up the pot your going to cook the rice in and put a touch of butter in there to melt. While it is melting cut up the onion and the garlic. I have found the quickest way to cut an onion is to cut it length wise then chop off the ends and peel it. It’s faster anyhow. So once it’s all cut up add 1/2 of the onion and let it sauté a bit. Now cut the peel off and dice the ginger. Get your lemon juice and chicken broth ready.

Now add both the ginger and the garlic to the onions and let it cook no more than about 3 mins. You don’t want burn the garlic. Do this all at about medium high heat. On the lower end of it. Next add the chicken broth and watch it do that awesome thing were you add liquid to a really hot pot. It’s cool.

Go ahead and add the lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Once you add that you can now add the rice and cook it how you do white rice. ( note, if you’re using brown rice it will be better but you will need more liquid and more time) You cook the rice by letting it all come to a boil, letting it boil uncovered for a min. and then lowered the heat to a simmer and covering it for about 20 mins or until the liquid has absorbed.

Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking go ahead and heat up another skillet. Make it a deep one. Melt a tbls. or so of butter and add the rest of the onion. Let it cook a bit. Until it’s translucent but not brown. It will continue to cook but you want it to do so with the chicken to get more onion flavor into the chicken itself. Now add the ginger, garlic and corn and continue to cook on low/medium until the rice is done. Don’t over cook the rice or it will be mushy.

Now you just put it all together in the large deep skillet. But add the rest of the butter first cause butter is good. So yea, fluff the rice with a fork and add it gently to the chicken mixture and stir to combine. Now serve it to your family and eat it.

Serves about 6


No Mistakin’ Bacon Chedder Burger’s

(My husband named this one)
So my 6 year old is a pretty picky eater. She doesn’t even generally like burgers so I was surprised when she couldn’t stop talking about these. Between the sweet and almost spicy and the bacon-these are a crowd pleaser for sure. My hubby even had them as left overs (yes he had two) and they were just as good, even though there wasn’t any more bacon. You should make these. Your family will love you for it and you might make a new best friend if you make it for them.

You will need:
1 lb of good of grass fed beef (this would also work with turkey)
1 generous tsp. Sun Luck Hot Chili Garlic Sauce (Asian Isle)
1 generous tsp. Cholula Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
kosher salt and pepper to taste
several slugs Worcestershire sauce (or white vinegar to avoid corn sugar)
1/2 can pineapple
7 saltine crackers (or enough to firm it up some)
Cheddar Cheese and whole wheat buns
Nitrate free bacon-we used 1 slice each
food processor ( I used a mini)

First thing you want to do fry up some bacon. Your going to use the same grill or skillet and reserve some of the bacon grease.


Next, peel and somewhat cut up the onion and garlic. Then combine it and the pineapple in the food processor and process until smooth. (You don’t have to but you will have some pretty chunky burgers if you don’t)
Now take a large bowl and combine all ingredients except the saltines.

Now take any rings off (Cause you don’t want them to get all meaty. Unless you do then just leave them on. Mine came off). Now get in there and mush it all together. You’re going to notice that it’s going to be pretty wet and mushy. Now is when you crumple up the saltines and combine them. You could run them through the food processor but I didn’t.

Now, remove the bacon from the grill if not already and pour off SOME not all the grease.  Form your burgers and slap them on the skillet. I always form mine pretty flat so that they cook evenly and faster. Let them cook about half way and gently flip them. They’re going to stick a little bit because they’re so juicy. That’s ok. They’re juicy burgers. It’s good.

The rest is pretty straight forward. Just top them with the cheddar slices and plop them on the bun. You can toast your buns if you want but I didn’t this time. Also, SO good with BBQ sauce.

I served them with quinoa and black beans. ENJOY!! And tell me what you thought because I almost added an egg to hold it together more. Tell me if you try that.


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