It’s funny how sometimes you know you’re on the right track with something because everything around you somehow matches up or brings forth new info or knowledge pertaining to the exact thing you’re already working on. It’s like the universe is saying a big “Yaaaaasssss” […]
I know it’s the New Year and that’s not the reason for this post…well, for the most part. I’ve been wanting to change my diet for quite some time now. The keywords here are change my diet “lifestyle.” As in, the way I eat, from […]
So, here we are. Winter. At least they say it’s winter. Even though it’s a balmy and wet 62 whole degrees outside here in Georgia.
I’ve noticed a lot of things lately (besides the strange weather) and it includes a lot of sniffling noses, coughing, and body aches. What is up with the weather and people suddenly falling ill? People here in this area always blame our crazy, wackadoo weather conditions on the sudden health ailments of everyone but it actually has very little to do with that at all. It’s just the simple fact that people are spending a lot more time indoors as opposed to outside. And when you think about the fact that a major holiday just passed and people did what? Hung out with tons of family members INDOORS in CLOSED IN areas. People together. Tight quarters. Germs abound. So with all these colds, the flu, and viruses being spread around I started thinking that maybe I needed to up my defense. Besides my normal dose of gummy adult (yes, adult) vitamins I take I’ve also been downing a glass of orange juice a day for better measure. I’ve been thinking a lot about bone broth lately and perhaps incorporating that into my routine as well.
I got a reminder from Facebook this morning saying that exactly one year ago to the day I posted about making stock. So funny that today, in my crock pot, sits a mess of bones and vegetables and herbs for just that.
I watched a video the other day with Ben Greenfield who is a brain and body coach and well known biohacker. He wrote a New York Times bestselling book called, “Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health, and Life.” In the video he talks about how to make your body the best body it can be. A lot of tips are reinforcing what most of us already know, such as getting the proper amount of sleep, staying away from sugar, and exercising. But he delves deeper. He tells you what supplements to take and why, the proper ways to exercise, as well as little things you can do to improve your daily performance as well as improve sleep. One of the things he mentioned was taking a regular dose of collagen. You can catch his video here:
So, What Exactly Is Collagen?
Collagen is a protein that actually accounts for 1/3 of the total protein found in our bodies. It’s the glue that holds our bodies together. It is found not
only in the skin but also in the bones and connective tissue. Loss of collagen starts occurring in your mid twenties and usually becomes more pronounced in your 30’s with loss of elasticity in the skin. Of course there are factors that can cause rapid or premature collagen loss such as smoking, large sugar intake, sun exposure, and autoimmune disease.
There are some things you can do to counter this loss though and it includes taking the recommended dose of Vitamin C, which helps synthesize collagen, and eating foods that are high in alpha-hydroxy acids which are found in vegetables, fruits, and milk. The best vegetables to consume are dark leafy greens like kale and spinach. Fruit-wise, stick to berries, which are high in antioxidants. And eat proteins like salmon, tuna, and grass fed beef which are high in Omega 3’s. This is where the bone broth comes in.
What’s Bone Broth?
Let’s forgo the bone broth hype and call it what it is. It’s stock. It’s not fancy. It’s not boujee. It’s bones. It’s water. It’s vegetables and herbs. It’s the base of soups. It’s the backbone of sauces. It’s necessary. And it’s so simple to make. A good stock is not only rich in flavor but rich in body, too. And it’s full of collagen. And since collagen is found in bones and bones are used in stock, why not drink said stock? And call it something fancy like, hmmm, bone broth?
Roasted Chicken stock:
- 8 lbs chicken bones and trimmings (I’m using back bones)
- 1 pound mirepoix; chopped in 1″ pieces (1/2 pound onion, 1/4 pound celery, 1/4 pound carrot). <Or one large onion, 2 carrots, and 2 stalks celery chopped.>
- 1 satchet of cheesecloth (lil bundle) with: 10 parsley stems(leaves removed), 8 sprigs thyme, 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 2 garlic cloves. <Or throw it all in sans cheesecloth. It’ll get strained out in the end anyway. >
- Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
- Salt (kosher or sea) and freshly cracked pepper
Today I followed that recipe exactly. The only difference in the recipes was that for this crock pot version I did not roast the vegetables with the bones and added the vegetables after putting the bones in the crock pot. I also cooked the stock for a total of 8 hours.
Instructions for Crock Pot Bone Broth:
*Brown the bones in the oven at 425° for one hour and place them in a large crock pot.
*Add fresh raw vegetables for this version and cover with water about an inch from the top of the pot (about one gallon of fresh cold water).
*Cover and turn on high. Once stock starts boiling uncover and skim surface of impurities and turn to low. Cover with lid.
*Cook on low heat for 8 hours.
*Strain though fine mesh strainer.
*Cool down to room temp.
*Refrigerate or freeze. This makes 10 – 12 cups of beautiful gelatinous stock
All bagged up and ready for the freezer!
I’ve been inspired to drink stock. Half of this will find its home in my fridge for me to consume like a cup o’ coffee and the other half will go in the freezer. It’s kind of the perfect time for inspiration isn’t it? Heading into a New Year. Making little tweaks here and there, and maybe even a complete overhaul for some. I think I’ll start with this simple little tweak by adding a cup of “broth” into my daily routine. I know what went into it because I made it. It doesn’t need a fancy label to tell me that..or a 12 dollar price tag.
Have you jumped on the bone broth bandwagon? What are your thoughts and/or experiences with this trend? Comment below!
I’ve been doing a lot more pinning as of late trying to fit in with all the “cool kids” and thought I’d research some Christmas cookies, “Easy Cookies”. It started like any other day looking up recipes, except that day I was doing my research […]
I’ll never forget when my dad was in the hospital years ago. It was a sad, stressful, and painful time. The hands on the clock that hung on the wall just seemed to be stuck in one spot, yet the days were passing so quickly […]
Cheese boards are a great start to a meal (sometimes even a meal on their own) and a great conversation piece at a gathering. It’s kind of the pregame for food and allows people to socialize while tasting some new cheeses and possibly try some new wines. I actually put this one together the other day when I caught myself staring at a pack of dried figs and thinking, “Now, what could I do with those?” I was actually checking out some dried Greek figs on a string that were packaged neatly. After thinking about how I would prepare them and what I’d serve them with, I actually decided to go with some dried Mission figs. I knew I wanted to stuff and bake them and I knew the Greek figs were known to be very “seed forward” if that makes sense. The mission fig is what most people are used to snacking on out of hand and the dried version is actually pretty reminiscent of Fig Newtons. So Mission figs it was..and is.
Number 1. I love cheese. One of my local grocers here actually has a humongous cheese case and fills some of the baskets with leftover cuts of cheese that are below 5 bucks. That’s kinda perfect for this board because you can really go a little variety crazy on your cheese selections. A few basics to keep in mind with creating any cheese board is:
Try and keep your different offerings of cheese between 3 and 5 varieties. I chose 3 selections because it’s a smaller platter for 2-3 people and I wanted to keep it simple.
*Offer a variety of cheeses such as hard and soft as well as one’s that are made with different types of milk, like goat, sheep, or cow’s milk.
*Add a fresh fruit component as a palette cleanser between foods as well as mix it up with some dried fruit.
*Stick to cheeses that are not layered with flavor like a simple Parm or Brie and stay away from the flavored ones such as an herb or garlic cheese.
*Offer something salty or acidic such as olives or cornichons.
*If you want to have a bit more variety you can add some cured meat(s) which pairs wonderfully with the cheese.
*Offer either a bread or cracker selection, keeping it simple with the flavors as to not overpower the cheese flavor.
*Add a handful of nuts for crunch as well as for pairing with the cheese and fresh fruit.
*Estimate about a pound of cheese for every 5 guests. I bought about 3/4 lb. cheese for this board.
*Try cheeses from a particular region of the world…maybe even your own home town!
Go ahead and pre-cut the cheese into serving sizes before service and refrigerate until about an hour before you serve the cheese to allow it to get to room temp again. This will actually help the true flavors of the cheese shine through and reveal little nuances that would’ve gone undetected with the colder cheese.
These are the cheeses I chose:
Naked Goat: 6 month aged goat cheese from Spain. It has an oiliness but is at the same time buttery. It is a firm cheese with grassy notes. This is great served with a crispy white wine.
Fromage D Affinois: A double cream cheese reminiscent of brie that is completely addictive. It’s from cow’s milk and has an edible white rind. It is earthy and buttery and goes great with walnuts or grapes (hint, hint). This was my soft cheese of choice and it’s important to let this one rest at room temp so that it softens nicely and is perfectly spreadable on whatever bread or cracker vessel you choose. This cheese pairs well with a sparkling wine like champagne, a cider, or wheat beer.
Blue Valdeon: This was my fig stuffing cheese and I chose to use the rest of the wedge on my board. It’s pretty pungent but deliciously so. It is deeply veined but is balanced in saltiness and spice. This is actually a mixture of cow and goat’s milk. This would pair well with a Porter or Stout beer or even a Reisling wine.
It’s funny that most of these cheeses have a recommendation of white wines. I just picked up my favorite Pinot Noir and it didn’t let me down, per usual…especially with the blue cheese.
This platter has a handful of grapes as well as some sliced fresh cantaloupe. I scattered walnuts around the platter. My “piece de resistance” was the stuffed figs. They were so delicate and delicious but had a pungent bite from the bleu. The recipe is here below:
- 10-12 Black Mission Figs, Dried
- 1/8 lb. Blue Cheese
- Olive Oil, 1 Tablespoon
- Balsamic Vinegar (A good one), 1 Tablespoon
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 350°. Remove hard stem end from fig. Split figs in half lengthwise. Make a little indentation with your finger and place a pinkie nails worth of cheese in the center. Top with other half of fig, pressing together slightly to seal, and set to side. In a small bowl toss figs with a glug of oil. Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and drizzle with fine Balsamic Vinegar. Bake for 5 minutes and set to side to cool.
Slice your cheeses into thin 2 to 3 bite pieces. Arrange cheese in varying directions. Add dried fruit and nuts. Set crackers or bread on platter and top with fresh fruits. I made my crackers from scratch using a super simple recipe you’ll find here.
If you love cheese the way I do you’re really gonna love putting these boards together for friends….or maybe just you and someone special. It’s really a great excuse to try some new flavors in cheeses and in wines and what a new and exciting world to have open up before you-the world of CHEESE! What kind of accompaniments do you like to have with your favorite cheese(s)? Maybe you prefer something with a little more salinity. Olives from Spain or maybe Prosciutto from Italy. Tell me!
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It was around this same time last year that I made my Moroccan Pumpkin Soup and that’s also the time when the pie pumpkins showed up in my local store. That soup was inspired by Steve, my coworker who has since left us to join the […]
Pumpkin pie. Pecan Pie. Some sort of fruit Pie. That’s typically what pops into one’s mind when they think of the Thanksgiving dessert table. Yes, table. Growing up, we visited my family in middle Georgia and for dessert there was a TABLE filled with an array of desserts. And for a little kid peering down the long church borrowed folding table, it was a buffet of sweet and udder deliciousness meant for my tiny tummy. My Aunt Kathy, which I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, was a hell of a cook. Everything she made was comfort food at its finest. Buttery. Rich. Indulgent. Delicious. How could it be anything but delicious when it was being made by the hands of the sweetest woman on earth?
When I was thinking of pies to make this season my mind immediately went back to all three of the pies I mentioned above. The pumpkin recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin can has always been a dependable recipe. The same goes for the ol’ faithful recipe for pecan pie located right on the Karo syrup bottle. The only exception I made with the pecan pie (after reading several other versions) of pecan pie was to cook the sugar and syrup before adding it to the recipe as opposed to just stirring everything together and pouring it in a pie shell. I also wanted to do a homemade crust for each.
The crust I used for all three mini pies was the same I used for my Southern Tomato Pie which is an awesome crust by Alton Brown that uses both lard and butter. It is the flakiest, richest, butteriest crust that’ll ever touch your tongue. And believe me, it won’t be there long.
I used muffin tins that make 12 muffins per tin and are about 3 inches in diameter. The pie crust will come up the tin only about half way, making a truly “mini” pie. The pecan and apple pies both benefit from a knife being run around the edges slightly to help loosen the baked on sugar. Once all of the pies have cooled completely they will release fairly easy from the greased muffin tin using the edge of a butter knife or a spoon.
6 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Lard
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Sugar
1/4 Cup Water, Iced
Make sure your fats (in this case your lard and butter are super cold…like put in the freezer cold). Mix Flour, Salt, and Sugar in bowl of food processor. Add in butter and pulse until butter is in pea sized clumps. Add lard and pulse just a couple of times until it is in small chunks as well. Through food processor feeder slowly add half the water and pulse a couple of times. If it’s still super dry, add rest of water.
Once it’s looking like the dough in the video you can watch here, remove it from the food processor and put it in a Ziploc bag. Gently shape it into a ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes. I left mine in the fridge for about an hour while I prepared everything else. The picture to the right is of a perfectly golden brown crust after it’s baked in the oven.
Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Mini’s
This recipe makes enough filling for about 25 mini pies! I doubled the recipe on the pie crust for this recipe.
Double recipe of Pie Dough/Divided
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
2 large eggs
1 Can (15 oz.) Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 Can (12 oz.) Carnation Evaporated Milk
Mix sugar and spices in bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar spice mix. Gradually add in milk. Put filling to side.
Preheat oven to 425°.
Spray a nonstick 12 count muffin pan lightly with cooking oil. Working with one recipe of dough at a time, roll out pastry to 1/8″ thickness. Keep the other dough in the fridge until ready to use. It’s much easier to work with cold dough versus warm dough. Using a cookie cutter ( 3 1/2″ – 4″ diameter) (or cup, or lid, or whatever you’ve got on hand with about the same diameter) cut out your pastries. You’ll probably only get 8 or 9 in the first go, so carefully gather your dough and roll it out again to get your remaining discs. If you need to refrigerate the dough again to firm it back up, feel free to do so now. Gently press each into the molds. Using a small measuring cup gently pour the pumpkin filling into each mold almost to the edge of the crust. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn oven down to 350° and bake another 10 minutes until set.
This pie uses the ingredients exactly as they are written by Karo Corn Syrup. The method of preparing is only slightly different. This makes about 15 mini pecan pies.
1 Cup Karo Light Corn Syrup
1 Cup Sugar, granulated
2 Tablespoons, butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cups pecans,chopped.
15 Additional pecan halves for decorating (optional)
Spray muffin tins with a nonstick cooking spray. Roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness. Using a cookie cutter gently cut out circles to form pies. Heat corn syrup and sugar in a sauce pot until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Beat eggs in medium sized bowl. Add butter to hot mixture and either let cool to room temperature or temper sugar into eggs slowly to avoid cooking eggs. Stir in extract and pecans. Using a small measuring cup, gently scoop the batter into the pie shells, filling almost to the tip top. Top each with a pecan half. Bake at 350° for 15 to 17 minutes or until filling is set. If you’re using a thermometer the temp should be 200° or you can insert a knife gently near the middle and it will come out clean when they are done cooking.
Pear Walnut Mini Pie:
This recipe makes 12-15 mini apple pies. I top each with a walnut half before baking.
7 Bartlett Pears, Peeled and Sliced (about 6 cups)
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
1/2 Cup Walnuts, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Flour
Mix together both sugars and all spices and salt. In stock pot melt butter. Add Pears and sugar mixture and gently stir. Bring to a simmer and sprinkle over flour. Bring back to simmer and stir gently for a minute or two until thickened. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temp.
Roll out Pie Crust to 1/8″ and cut out rounds using a cookie cutter. Grease muffin tins and line with pie crust. Gently spoon in cooled filling and top with a walnut half.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Lower oven temp to 350 and cook 25 to 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from muffin tin.
The pumpkin mini pies are delicious (and additive) and the recipe by Libby’s is pretty much no fail. You can always add a little more spice if you feel the need but it’s unnecessary. The pear and walnut pies are perfect lil bites of Autumn flavors with a bit of crunch from the walnuts. By far though, my favorite and family’s as well, were the pecan pies. This recipe has the perfect ratio of filling to pie crust. The pie crust is so rich and the filling so heavenly and sweet. We loved the added crunch from the pecans. Those were the first to be eaten. I may double the recipe next time so there’s more to go around.
When you think of Fall and desserts and family gatherings, what desserts in particular pop in your head? Have you ever tried your hand at a home made pie crust? It’s so worth it. To be able to handle the dough. Feel it squish between your fingers. Roll it out. Watch it go from some flour and butter to the tastiest little thing you’ve ever popped in your mouth! If you’ve never made one, what’s holding you back? Comment down below:)
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