Category Archives: Recipes

Portabella Mushroom Burgers- Vegetarian Style

Use the mushrooms in place of hamburger patties, for a “meaty” vegetarian alternative at dinner. Or let the mushrooms cool off a bit, slicing into strips. Toss a simple salad of greens, olive oil, vinegar, and salt (or your favorite dressing), dish up onto salad plates, topping with the mushroom strips. What a salad!

 Vegetarian Main Dish: Portabella!INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Portabella Mushrooms
  • 1/2 c. or so olive oil
  • 1 TBS. chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or Jack cheese, sliced
  • 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

PREPARATION

1. Get enough Portabella mushrooms for the number of people you’re serving. Typically, it’s one burger-sized mushroom per person, or just a half mushroom per person for a salad. Remove stem and drizzle olive oil on the inside; rub more olive oil onto the outside. For four burgers, use: > 4 Portabella Mushrooms > about 1/2 c. or so olive oil

2. Next, spread some chopped garlic around the inside of the mushroom. Use: > 1 TBS. chopped fresh garlic

3. Add: > 1/2 lb. mozzarella, provolone, or Jack cheese, sliced (or grated)

4. Top with: > 1/3 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

5. Bake the cheese-mushrooms at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or so, until cheese is lightly golden. Serve on toasted hamburger buns, with all the fixings, if desired, or atop a salad.

6. If you’re short on time, you can speed things along using the microwave. Microwave the cheese-mushrooms (about 1-2 minutes per mushroom), then broil just a few minutes, until cheese is golden and mushrooms are soft.

Also posted in 7. Dinners, Blog, Featured, Vegetarian | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread

If I’m going to make homemade sourdough bread using freshly ground whole wheat flour, I definitely need a system. Otherwise, I won’t have time for this! Below is the streamlined recipe I use every few days (when we’re getting low on our daily bread).

Sourdough Bread w/whole grainsIn my earliest experiments, I kneaded bread on a wooden board (as directed in most recipes). Messy cleanup- arg. So I tried kneading the dough on our Formica counter top. Some success- it didn’t stick as much. The bread turned out even better since I didn’t have to add as much extra flour to keep it from sticking to the counter.

Then I moved up to kneading the bread in an 8-cup glass measuring cup, set on a towel (so it doesn’t move around too much), in the sink (a good level for throwing some hearty dough punches). So convenient, and I get a good work-out too!

Recently, I splurged on a Kitchen-aid for the home kitchen. Even though I don’t bake all that much, it’s proved to be a valuable time-saver for bread-making. Now I just knead the dough in the Kitchen-aid. But if you don’t have a mixer with a dough hook, the 8-cup-glass-in-the-sink is the next best method.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (scant) qt. sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 c. warm, filtered water (non-chlorinated is best for the yeasts)
  • 2 c. wheat berries, frozen (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 c. more of wheat berries, frozen (or about 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour)
  • 1 TBS. salt
  • Optional: 1 c. raisins, 2/3 c. millet,  1 1/3 c. walnuts, 1 TBS. caraway seeds

PREPARATION

1. In a medium bowl, add: > 1 scant quart of sourdough starter

2. Stir in, mixing well: > 1 1/2 c. warm water (around 105 degrees is fine, or warm to the touch)

3. Grind flour in a VitaMix, KitchenAid (with attachment), or other mill. Use frozen wheat berries to keep the flour from getting too warm from grinding. Start with: > 2 c. frozen wheat berries (or 3 c. whole wheat flour)

4. Stir flour vigorously into the bowl of starter and water mixture, until smooth. Pour a scant quart of the mixture back into the sourdough starter jar, to refrigerate until next time.

5. To the remaining mixture in the bowl, add more flour. Use: > 1 1/2 c. more of frozen wheat berries, ground into flour (or use 2 1/4 c. whole wheat flour)

6. Stir second batch of flour in fairly well. It’s OK if some of the flour remains in the mixing bowl.

7. Transfer the rather firm blob of dough into an oiled KitchenAid bowl (or 8-c. measuring cup). Use any leftover flour to rub around the first bowl, to pull the remaining dough bits off the sides of the bowl. Easier cleanup this way!

8. Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel or with oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise in the oiled bowl until doubled. You can let it take its time, even refrigerating it to really slow it down, or putting it in a warm place to speed it up. Even then, it’ll probably take at least two hours.

9. Add salt to the bread and knead it after it’s doubled in size, for 9 minutes or so. Use the KitchenAid dough hook, or hand-knead it. Recommended: Sitting the bowl on a towel in the sink- a great angle for serious kneading. (Or, of course, the KitchenAid, which saves time.)

10. Add any other fixings during the last few minutes of kneading, if desired. However, before adding anything, this is about 2 1/2 lb. of dough, which is about all that will fit into a standard 8½ x 4½” bread pan. With additional goodies added, you can make a big rounded loaf instead, set in a 12″ round cast iron skillet. Extra ingredients for variety: > Approx. amounts of various grains, nuts, fruits, etc. (1 c. raisins, 2/3 c. millet,  1 1/3 c. walnuts, 1 TBS. caraway seeds, 1/4 c. palm sugar, 1 TBS. cinnamon)

11. Shape into a loaf, rolling it in some organic corn flour or other favorite, to coat the outside. Set in well-0iled loaf pan or skillet (coconut oil works well for this).

12. Let rise another few hours, until doubled again. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes per loaf (or in skillet), or 15 minutes for a dozen rolls. For larger loaves, when goodies like raisins, millet and such have been added, let back 45-50 minutes. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool on a rack.

Also posted in 2. Bars, Bread & Breakfast, Featured | Tagged , , | 1 Response

Springerle- Easy Anise Cookie for Christmas

It’s great to involve kids in cookie-baking projects, but attention can wane. This particular recipe is perfect for those with a limited time/attention spans, of all ages! A special rolling pin is required, which will emboss a design on the cookie. But the dough is easy to make- just a few ingredients. Other recipes may contain extra ingredients, but this simple recipe seems to work perfectly.

Easiest Christmas Cookie: Springerle!

Although this festive cookie takes little effort, some waiting is involved. The dough refrigerates for several hours, and the cut-out cookies need to air dry on parchment for at least half a day before baking. This gives them their texture- perfect for dipping in tea and such. Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. anise seed
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp. anise extract, if desired

PREPARATION

1. Cream: > 2 eggs > 1 c. sugar

2. Stir in, until very stiff: > 2 1/4 c. flour > 1 tsp. anise seed > 1/2 tsp. anise extract, if desired

3. Place on plastic wrap, patting out into a rectangle shape, for easier rolling later. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or more.

4. Roll or pat out on floured board, into a piece (or two) that are about the width of the rolling pin. Roll out with a “springerle cookie rolling pin”, pressing down firmly to emboss. Cut into squares, let dry at least 10 hours on parchment paper.

5. Before baking, use a spatula to lift the cookies from the parchment (so they stick less). Bake on the parchment at 325 degrees, 12-15 minutes. They shouldn’t brown, although the edges can get slightly golden. Let cool on racks; store for 1-2 weeks (these actually keep quite well).

Springerle cookie rolling pin embossed design on cookies

Also posted in 8. Desserts, Featured | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Gingerbread Cake w/ Lemon Curd (& No Leftover Egg Whites)

I had to post this recipe for the Christmas season- my aunt used to love this dessert, and it brings back such good memories… Another memory: several years back, we made huge batch of this (20 x recipe), to serve at our church’s annual Women’s Christmas Dinner. (Contact me if you need THAT recipe!)

Gingerbread w/Lemon Curd- no leftover egg whites!I don’t typically want to save egg whites in the freezer- I just want a recipe that uses the whole egg! So I came up with this recipe, which uses the egg whites leftover from making Lemon Curd, in the cake. Heating the butter and lemon juice for the lemon curd before it adding to the egg yolks, speeds the process along. Serves 9 or so.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2-4″ piece ginger (or substitute 2 tsp. dry ginger)
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) room temperature butter, divided
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 c. light molasses
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced (1/3 c. total)
  • 1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter

PREPARATION

1. Mix dry ingredients together first: > 2 1/3 c. flour > 1/3 c. sugar > 1 tsp. baking soda > 1 tsp. cinnamon > 3/4 tsp. salt

2. Grate: > 2-4″ piece ginger (or substitute 2 tsp. dry ginger)

3. Mix the dry ingredients and the following in mixer on low, then 3 minutes on medium: > 1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, soft > 1/2 c. olive oil > 5 egg whites > 1 1/2 c. molasses > the grated ginger

4. Oil and flour 9″ square pan (or 13 x 9″ pan, which will cook quicker). Bake 45-55 min. at 300 degrees. Cool; serve w/ lemon curd.

 

Lemon Curd

This will make about 1 pint, enough for the above cake.

PREPARATION

1. Mix together until smooth: > 5 egg yolks > 1 cup sugar

2. Microwave or heat in pot, 1-2 minutes, until melted and bubbly: > 1 stick butter > 1/3 c. lemon juice > zest from 4 lemons

3. Slowly mix hot butter/lemon into yolk mixture. Microwave 30 seconds, then stir and repeat until thickened, or- warm gently on the stove just until thickened. This can store 2 weeks or more, refrigerated.

Also posted in 8. Desserts, Featured | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Stock- Homemade & Easy!

Stock is so easy to make! Yes, it’s easier to buy a carton or can of it, but I think some of the nutrition and flavor is lost. A good batch of stock is full of gelatin, congealing after refrigerating, so you know it’s rich. With homemade stock, you can also use minimal salt. I always like to add salt just as I’m finishing preparing a dish. Otherwise, I believe too much sodium soaks into the ingredients. Not that it makes the finished product taste that salty. But it IS loaded with sodium! The salt added to dishes last is more pronounced, so you can use less.

Some folks might add carrot, celery, herbs, and/or onion to the pan when roasting their meats, to add to the stock. It will add more flavor, but I prefer an unadulterated stock: other extras can be added in later, when using the stock in various soups and sauces.

Chicken, Turkey, Beef, or Pork: Homemade Stock

Stock Recipe from "Soup's On" (Jen's Book)

Also posted in 3. Soups | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gingerbread Cookies, Natural Style

I’m pretty excited about ginger right now. It fights inflammation and can help regulate blood sugar, serum cholesterol, and cortisol levels. Not that I’m chowing down on Gingerbread cookies for health reasons (although I am making some ginger tea). But for the holidays, these cookies are a fun, special treat, even for some gift-giving!

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies, Decorated w/Nuts, Dried FruitsUsing fruits and nuts to decorate allows for creative input from cookie-bakers of all ages- easier and less messy than frosting! Makes approx. 15 cookies.

INGREDIENTS

  •  1 stick butter
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c. molasses
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 TBS. (or more) fresh grated ginger (or sub powdered ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Cashew pieces (for smiles)
  • Dates and sweetened dried pineapple (for hair)
  • Pecans, almonds, and chocolate chips (for misc.)

PREPARATION

1. Cream in mixer, several minutes on high: > 1 stick butter > 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

2. Add the following, beating just until blended: > 1/2 c. molasses > 1/4 c. water > 2 1/2 c. flour > 1/2 tsp. salt > 1/2 tsp. baking soda > 1 TBS. (or more) fresh grated ginger > 1/2 tsp. nutmeg > 1/4 tsp. allspice

3. Refrigerate dough several hours, or longer. (Dough will keep in refrigerator for several weeks, wrapped in plastic.) Roll dough out to 1/4″ thickness (easily accomplished rolling it between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, floured some as needed). Cut into gingerbread people.

4. Decorate cookies before baking, using the following, or your own creations: > Cashew pieces (for smiles) > Dates & sweetened dried pineapple (for hair) > Pecans, almonds, and chocolate chips (for misc.)

5. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Also posted in 8. Desserts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Homemade Gifts: Natural Skin Care Goodies

Part of my enthusiasm for making my own skin care products is my love of essential oils, which I use regularly in face creams and bath salts for myself. Certain ones are perfect for skin, for mood; some have hormone-balancing and other benefits. I’ve shared my favorites at “Jen’s Shop“; if you’re interested in aromatherapy, take a look at the oils I suggest there (under the “Health, Beauty, & Lifestyle” section). I mention the qualities each is known for; also, I’ve chosen oils that are more therapeutic. Some “essential oils” may be a blend of an expensive variety (like, of lavender), but mixed with a carrier oil or even a sub-par plant variety. But I’ve picked out the best quality and value for you, at Jen’s Shop!

Oh, for another fun, homemade gift (that you can make with your kids), check out my “Cinnamon Ornament” post!

Homemade Gifts: Natural Skin CareWe had a lot of fun at a recent “Spa-rific” New Deli party, where we made up various creams, balms, and such to give as gifts come Christmas time. We made body butter, bath salts, lip balm… all using natural, top-quality ingredients. Didn’t have to bear with Holiday Shopping Mania- got all this stuff online! Below are some favorite recipes.

Homemade Body ButterBODY BUTTER

INGREDIENTS

PREPARATION*

1. Warm the 1/2 c. coconut oil in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Use a warm oven, or a double-boiler (with a folded towel set in bottom of pot to protect the glass cup).

2. Add cocoa butter pieces to the melted coconut oil, until it measures another half cup (that will be one cup total).

3. Warm this mix some more, until mixture’s melted. Add in the 1/2 c. shea butter using the same “displacement method”.

4. Let warm again, enough to blend the mixture, then mix in about 20-30 drops of favorite essential oils. (Lavender’s a nice one.)

5. Refrigerate the mix enough for it to set some, then whip it, then fill glass jars with it (these 4oz Amber Glass Jars are cute). Label cutely and you’ve got some nice gifts on your hands!

*General Tip: Three or four parts hard butters to one part oils works well. If you have a scale, you can measure equal parts of the four fats and oils, melting them gently in a small saucepan.

 

Homemade Bath SaltsBATH SALTS

  • 3 c. Epsom Salts
  • 2 c. Baking Soda
  • 1 c. Sea Salt
  • 8 drops or so  Lavender essential oil (or other)
  • 1 TBS. Vitamin C powder

Just mix and store in cute mason jars. My husband says most people aren’t as into Epsom salts as I am, but if you’re concerned about chlorine, this recipe helps address that issue. (Read my article, “Turning Chlorinated Water into Liquid Gold“, for more info on the subject.)

 

 

Homemade Face ScrubEASY FACE SCRUB

  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 4 or more drops favorite essential oil ( Lavender, lemongrass, linden blossom, etc.)

Mix, then put up in 4oz.-size jars (like these) – a good size for most of us. Use organic white sugar if desired, for a body scrub, but the granules are larger, so it’s not as suited for the face.

 

 

Homemade Lip BalmLIP BALM

Gently melt the first two ingredients, then add your choice of essential oil. “Decant” into little tins (like these little steel ones) or into lip balm stick containers (like these- a pack of 12 for under $1/ea.).

Also posted in 9. Crafts & Such, Blog | Tagged , , | 1 Response

Thanksgiving Verse (Desktop Wallpaper Too)

I work up various desktop backgrounds to match the season (or my mood)- see “Desktop Wallpapers” for more. With Thanksgiving coming right up, I thought I’d create one for the verse about Thanksgiving from Colossians 2:7.

I set the Thanksgiving table today. It’s a wise thing for two reasons: #1- It can be done ahead, before the kitchen work gets intense, and #2- The weight of the plates and such help pull any wrinkles out of the tablecloth. That’s right- a no iron tablecloth is my goal!

I made the centerpiece ahead of time too- just rounded up some of garden produce kicking around the yard, plus a few greens. Put all that in a burlap-lined wooden box filled with some mason jars. I added little candles to the jars- pretty! (See bottom of post for a closeup of that).

Let the weight of plates pull wrinkles out of tablecloth!The table looked so pretty, I wanted to create some computer monitor wallpaper out of a picture of it. I found this great Thanksgiving Bible verse to go with it, from Colossians 2:7- “Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught, and overflow with thanksgiving.”

Colossians 2:7 Thanksgiving VerseTo use the picture for a desktop background, click the links below, sized to fit wide or short monitors. Left click on the monitor size you want, which brings you to the actual picture, then right click and choose “select (or set) as desktop background”.

Background for wider monitors

Background for shorter monitors

Natural Tablescape w/produce, burlap, mason jars, candles

Also posted in Wallpaper: Desktop Backgrounds w/Verses | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thyro-Green: Natural Hypothyroid Treatment

I believe God gave us the tools to be healthy. I love the verse from Revelation 22:2- describing the wonderful fruit trees lining the river, and how “…the leaves of the tree will heal the nations.” I’m getting healed daily!

Mix of chlorella, ashwagandha & more, for natural thyroid healthYou might want to check out my post, “Jen’s List: 8 Diet Ideas for Thyroid Health“. But below is the main “recipe” I use to treat my hypothyroidism naturally. It’s not for everyone. Most folks would rather get a prescription and take a capsule. My friend can get Armour Thyroid from Kaiser through her insurance, and that’s just great. But, being self-employed, I get a more generic insurance that just covers catastrophic events; I have to pay for office visits and prescriptions. So, when my doctor and pharmacy were both causing me grief, I went this route instead. Five things I love about this little recipe:

  • I can support my thyroid gland with various supplemental food/herb powders that have been found to improve its function
  • I order the ingredients online- super easy!
  • It’s all over-the-counter stuff; the “ThyroGold” is rated a “food” (it’s dessicated thyroid gland from cows), so it doesn’t need a prescription.  Good news for me since I’m practically going off the medical grid- I had such a bad experience with my doctor and pharmacy.
  • I can easily adjust my quantities (even if going down to a quarter pill per serving), because there’s only a half-capsule of ThyroGold in each tablespoon of the powder. To reduce dosage is easy- I just take less than a tablespoon-size serving.
  • If I was to try to wean myself completely off of even natural thyroid, I could do it very gradually with this powdered mix

I originally took 6 capsules of the Thyrogold to get the same effect that I was getting from my 97.5 mg. of prescribed thyroid. I don’t actually know exactly what I was getting from the pharmacy, whether it was comparable to Levothyroxine, Synthroid, or what. They had originally promised they could get me something akin to Armour Thyroid, which was unavailable at the time. After six years, I discovered they’d been giving me synthetic thyroid the whole time. I was pretty disappointed! (Was that why my health and well-being had gradually declined?) I started in on my new, natural approach, and as my thyroid health improved over this past year, I’ve worked down to one capsule of dessicated thyroid per day, split into two doses. I have not felt this good in eight years, since originally getting diagnosed and getting treated by my doctor. The synthetic thyroid had been better for me than nothing at all (I was starting to really fall apart), but it never seemed to improve my health as much as this natural approach has.

THYROGREEN

This makes about 7 1/2 cups, lasting me just over two months when using 1 TBS. twice a day. It’s got a half capsule of Thyrogold in each serving. And it mixes easily into a small jar of water- just shake it up and drink! (Be sure to add water first, “ThyroGreen” next.)

Mixing the dried ingredients up and putting into jars can be messy, but it’s worth it for me. Let me know if you try it!

Also posted in 1. Healthy Style (Snacks, Meal-Replacements), Blog | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

A Time For Every Season Desktop Wallpaper

Find more of the wallpapers I’ve worked up, by clicking “Desktop Wallpapers“, under “Recipes” (at the bottom of the page).

I created a wallpaper for my computer last month, with the latest book cover designs I was thinking about. The plan? To meditate on some of those ideas, until I’d figured out which direction to go.

The reality? I don’t want to look at book cover ideas when I turn my computer on- I want some nice scripture that I can meditate on. After all, God will give me the direction if I let him. I don’t have to dwell on it too much myself. The only thing I have to dwell on is God!

So I thought I’d share with you, the background I switched over to. It’s a good reminder: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

There IS a time for all things

If you want to use the picture for desktop wallpaper, you can click the links below, which are sized to fit wide or short monitors. Left click on the monitor size you want, which brings you to the actual picture, then right click and choose “select (or set) as desktop background”.

Background for wider monitors

Background for shorter monitors

Also posted in Wallpaper: Desktop Backgrounds w/Verses | Leave a comment
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