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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Spicy Chickpea and Rice Soup

Allen made this soup for dinner last night.  And today, only one day later, I made a recipe card--because this is going to be a monthly staple at our house.  I don't know when I have tasted better soup.  It was so delicious and satisfying and flavorful and different.

This is why some people rhapsodize about soup!  It can be the best meal of your life!

It doesn't hurt that it's a pretty darn healthy vegetarian soup, either.

A couple things: we couldn't find any harissa paste, so we didn't use any.  The original recipe called for bulgur wheat instead of brown rice.  Again, none to be had in our small town.  And we used sour cream in place of creme fraiche.

So yummy.  I had a huge bowl for lunch today and wished there was more.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Coconut-Vegetable Curry (with optional shrimp)

This is a vegan recipe, and is also salt-free and contains only 1 tablespoon of oil (coconut oil, which is pretty much the healthiest fat in the world).  If you are not a vegan, you can add some protein and flavor by including shrimp--which always pairs well with coconut.

I prepared my brown rice in my rice cooker (3 cups brown rice + 5 cups water) with a whole tablespoon of Mrs. Dash (garlic and herb blend) and it was a lovely alternative to salt.  I prefer it, in fact--it made my house smell heavenly while it cooked.

The dish is aromatic, savory, and spicy (but not HOT spicy--just herb-spicy), and is very forgiving if you substitute whatever veg you have on hand.  The first time I made it, I used broccoli instead of red bell peppers, and it was delicious.

In addition to being absolutely yummy and satisfying, it's also ridiculously healthy.  Bonus.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

This is, hands-down, my favorite vegetarian meal.  It is hearty, filling, and every bite is delicious.  It also happens to be salt-free and oil-free, but is still super flavorful comfort food.  Cooking the quinoa in vegetable broth is a must!  It gives the whole dish a much richer flavor.  

Allen and I have been adhering to a (pretty much) vegan diet since January began (we have been having fish once a week, and eggs every Sunday morning).  It's been tough (especially the first two weeks), but food like this makes it easy!  I have made these stuffed peppers every single week, because it's a vegan meal that I could eat every night and never get tired of.  Cilantro and lime juice is my favorite topping, but spinach and salsa is also delectable.  The original recipe called for CANNED corn (gross), but it is an easy (and healthier, and cheaper, and delicious-er, I might add) fix to use a cup of frozen corn instead.

This is the first time I have ever used "nutritional yeast" in a recipe, and though the name is totally unlovely, it's a pretty delicious substitute for cheese.  From Wikipedia: 
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast . . . in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. It has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese.
But you do not have to be a vegan to enjoy these scrumptious stuffed peppers!  However our diet changes in the future, this recipe is going to remain part of my weekly repertoire.
You can't really beat avocado and cilantro.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dr. Fuhrman's Walnut Vinaigrette

This is for YOU, my vegan friends!  No animal products dressing!  It's also gluten-free, oil-free, and salt-free.  I'm sorry if you have nut allergies--it's not nut-free, alas.  (***Sidenote: you can substitute almonds or cashews to taste, or if you have allergies to walnuts only***)
But let's say you are not a vegan, and you love creamy, zesty dressings on your salads and other foods . . . this dressing also happens to be utterly DELICIOUS.  And delicious is the number one requirement for a recipe to make it to this site.  The fact that it's totally healthy is just a really great bonus.

Raisins make it sweet, the walnuts make it--well, nutty, the balsamic vinegar gives it some bite, and the mustard and garlic smooth out the entire dressing and add a warm, mellow flavor.  An Italian seasoning blend works just fine in place of thyme.  
I store the dressing in an Adam's Peanut Butter
jar and keep it in the fridge.  It'll stay fresh for
a month in an airtight container.
It's January!  Back in the saddle!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Conference Crepes!

I make crepes three times a year: Christmas morning (continuing my dad's family tradition: he used to make them for our family of eight kids growing up--he was in the kitchen all Christmas morning), and during the April and October General Conference sessions.  I have been making these crepes long enough that it is time for me to retire the old recipe card.

Old recipe card / scroll down for new one
This is a pretty rich crepe batter. As far as my kids are concerned, crepes is the most special food I can possibly make, which is why I save them for special occasions.  They look forward to any time they get to indulge in this delicious French pastry.

My kids, April 2015 on Easter morning.  Mollie set up all her
Littlest Pet Shops, Calvin played with cars and trucks, and
Truman and Brigham organized Brigham's Harry Potter cards
while we listened to and watched the amazing conference addresses.
My favorite crepes from the April 2015 General Conference.
It was hard to choose favorites talks from this conference, but I
really loved "We'll Ascend Together" by Linda K. Burton, and

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies

Last year, Allen's parents stayed with us for Christmas, and his mom asked me before they arrived if I had molasses and ground ginger on hand.  I did.  But I never guessed that these two pungent ingredients could combine to make the most heavenly Christmas confection known to man.

They are beautiful and crackly and festive.  They are soft and rich.  They are so fragrant and chewy and sweet, with the perfect hint of spice.  They may have actually TIED WITH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (gasp!) as my favorite cookies of all time.  In fact, these ginger molasses cookies differ specifically from CCCs in that, once I have eaten one, all I can think about is having another.  I can limit other kinds of cookies to one or two, but I feel like I never want to stop eating these.

This particular holiday treat comes with a pretty sweet story, too.  My mother-in-law clipped this recipe from her local paper years ago and everyone raved about the cookies . . . but then she somehow lost the clipping. Years later (tortured years of pining for the most-perfect-holiday-cookie-ever, no doubt) she went to the library and used the microfilm machine to look through years' worth of the Northwest Arkansas Times until she found it again.  The librarian copied it for her, and the rest is Renfroe family holiday history!
I love how Mom wrote out the triple-batch
amount to the side, which is what I put on the
recipe card below.  Go big or go home, people.

Mollie and I had so much fun making the cookies with Mom last year, made more fun by the adorable, matching, chicken-print aprons she sewed for each of us as an early Christmas present.

She gave me the recipe while she stayed with us, but then history repeated itself and I misplaced it.  Fortunately, I didn't have to use a microfilm machine--Mom just used her telephonics machine (read: iPhone 6) to snap a picture of her well-used recipe and send it to me via electronic mail . . . all taking about three seconds and zero research trips to the library.

I have made this tripled-recipe twice this December and am going for a third time tomorrow.  If you're going to make 24 dozen of any cookie during Christmas, this is the one . . .

My cookie helpers!
Brer Rabbit never tasted so good . . .
I hope we'll have some left for Santa--he might have to settle
for Oreos if we scarf through all seven dozen in the next four
I wish I was kidding . . .
My house smells like Christmasy heaven . . .
Perfect cookies for large family / social / holiday functions!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

One Bowl Apple Cake

This recipe is from one of my all-time favorite women, Kathy H. (via my sister, Bonnie, who raved about this apple cake and then hounded Kath for the recipe).  She was the young women president at some point when I was a teenage girl (the Young Women organization is an awesome auxiliary for girls age 12-18 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and has always been a friend to me.  We have stayed in touch over the years, and I love to drop in on her when I am visiting family in my home town.  She can make me laugh like no other!  

As of this blog post, she happens to be serving a mission in South Africa with her husband, where she is no doubt spreading her signature brand of humor . . . and we can still keep in touch over the splendors of the world wide web!

A mother of six who lives on a hobby farm? A lover of young adult fiction who loves to bake delicious things?  We are kindred spirits!  You'll be wishing you knew Kathy when you take a bite of this sweet, moist, delectable (and easy) cake!

My wonderful neighbor, Gloria, called me up
yesterday and asked if we would like all of
her apples.  YES, WE WOULD!  When the kids
got home from school, we pulled the wagon to
her house and picked every last one!
Brig was more excited about using the stepladder than picking
Gloria said that she's never seen this tree bear more than six apples,
and they never turned red before!  I think it's because this is the longest
we've gone between frost dates since I've lived here.  We picked up
all the windfalls for our chickens and rabbits, and then plucked all
the tree apples for apple cake and to press into APPLE CIDER!
I love harvest time!  Apples really are the food of the gods.
So yummy and moist--the top and bottom get slightly crusty
and taste kind of like a Nilla Wafer cookie.  Ummmmm . . .
I think I'll go make another one right now . . .

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mini Thumbprint Jam Scones

I fell in love with this recipe when I read about the baker Alice Currah in a beautiful magazine called Where Women Cook (which was a delightful birthday gift from my BFF, Cori, whose own scrumptious recipes are sprinkled throughout this blog).

Okay, true confession . . . maybe I liked the article about Alice, but drooled like a French Mastiff when I saw the delectable photos of the scones in said magazine.  See for yourself:

I knew these would be the perfect dessert to add to my "summer harvest" spread when I hosted book club at the beginning of August.
Summer harvest book club fare . . .
I love cooking for the ladies I love!
And guess what?  Everyone liked them more than rhubarb-raspberry pie made with rhubarb and raspberries I harvested that day, more than huckleberry buckle made with HOURS OF MY LIFE that I spent picking tiny-but-precious huckleberries, and even more than the apple pie made with three types of heirloom early-ripening apples (Red Astraiken, Carroll, and Goodland) that I picked from my dad's orchard just three days before book club and peeled and cut by hand because each apple is too uniquely shaped and sized for the peeler-corer-slicer.

That's how good these scones are.

I used my mom's Nanking Cherry jam/syrup (I make jam, but add a little extra water so it's more like a really thick syrup) as the jam in these scones, and that combination of cherries and almond glaze is so heavenly (this from someone who does not like cherry ANYTHING).  But I think it would also be perfectly delectable with raspberry or strawberry jam.

The recipe said to cut the disks into fourths, but I
cut them into sixths and I think they were perfect
It stopped raining just for book club!
The scones were the first dessert to disappear.
{PS- I like how you can see Brenda working
on the book club binder in the background}
I thought a cute retro fox was the perfect clipart to compliment this quintessential British confection . . .

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings

Comfort food does not get any more comforting than this.

I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, so you know it's good.  It was both my first time making chicken and dumplings AND (gasp!) my first time eating chicken and dumplings!  How is it possible to reach the age of 34 without partaking of the most delicious and satisfying dish in America?  I even lived in the South for 8 years . . . shame on me.  My husband (a true Southerner, who grew up in beautiful Fayetteville, Arkansas) was more excited about me making chicken and dumplings for dinner than any previous dinner-time excitement to date.

The reason I decided to tackle this dish is that he and I put up 34 quarts of canned chicken a week ago, after the Fall butchering of our laying hens.  I had more old hens than I care to admit, because I can't resist letting my hens hatch a clutch of chicks every time one of them goes broody (broody is when a hen stops laying, and only wants to sit on eggs all day, taking little or no food or water for about three weeks.  Certain breeds, like buff orpingtons, are more prone to broodiness than others--some hens will never go broody in their lifetime).
We did a bone-in method.  I added a teaspoon of chicken stock
and a pinch of fresh windowsill herbs: rosemary, sage, and thyme.
I wish all my jars had been wide-mouthed, but it was nice to not
have to buy any new jars.  Each jar had to pressure cook at 10
pounds of pressure for an hour and fifteen minutes (for our elevation)
We  have always butchered cockerels (a rooster that is less than a year old) right when they reach five months of age, but I've kept all the pullets (hens less than a year) for several years to add to my laying stock, and this Fall I realized we had too many chickens.  Knowing that the meat of these hens would be a little more tough than that of a young rooster, I researched canning chicken for weeks leading up to harvest day.  I knew from articles I had previously read that canning the meat would render it much more tender and flavorful than any other method of long-term storage, and that's what I wanted.
My favorite hen, Scarlett Johansson, with her seven "chicks" in
May 2012.  It seems like there are two cockerels for every pullet
in each clutch of chicks . . . but that means more healthy,
home-grown, hormone- free chicken in our freezer or pantry . . .
Hens free-ranging in part of my backyard.  This was in
August of 2010, before I built a fence around my garden.
Mistress Flora scratching around in the garden (July 2012)
I love my hens and always name them--they really receive the best
possible love and care during their lives.  But I am also a meat-eater,
and there's not better way to ensure the quality of your meat than
to raise your own.  I know it may seem corny to many people, but
my husband always thanks the chickens for their lives before he
butchers them.  We give them a good life, and they do the same for us.
This photo is from this past Spring (May 2013) when my Nanking
cherry trees were in bloom.  This isn't even close to all the chickens
we had--it was definitely time to butcher.  To quote Barbara
Kingsolver: "Having no self-sustaining bloodlines to back up the
industry is like having no gold standard to underpin paper currency.
 Maintaining a natural breeding poultry flock is a rebellion, at the
 most basic level, against the wholly artificial nature of how
foods are produced. ” (From: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle)
It was a long, looooooooooong day.  And of course, November Idaho weather is nothing but unpredictable.  Allen butchered, skinned, and cleaned 23 chickens in a good ol' early Winter blizzard (I kept a flock of ten buff orpingtons for eggs and meat next year, plus one cuckoo maran and her four 2-month-old chicks).  I was toasty and warm inside, but worked hard manning (er . . . womanning?) the pressure canner all day.  When ten PM hit, I still had two batches to go, which I saved for the next day.  I don't think "canned chicken" is an aroma that's gonna sell well in the scented candle world . . .

But it was worth it.  The chicken turned out superbly, and is fully cooked and ready to go, any time I need to add tender chicken to a dish.

And what better dish could they be used for than chicken and dumplings?  None, I tell you!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Waffles

Finally, I get to add a recipe from one of my favorite people, Renee H!  She and I worked together in a church calling for several years, and she's just about one of the sweetest women I know.  And a fabulous cook, to boot!  When she told me about these pumpkin waffles, I knew I wouldn't rest until I tried them myself.

Divine.  What better hot breakfast can you have on a cold October morning than one that makes your whole house smell like a bakery?  My kids loved 'em, too, and they've been permanently added to our Saturday morning breakfast choices.  Enjoy!

If only you could smell this picture: it's what heaven smells like . . .

I can't even stand the clipart I found to make this recipe card.  Isn't she the cutest little waffle you've ever seen?