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Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

27 Jun

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I have a sweet friend who comes over somewhat regularly. We offer her food every time she is here. It has nothing to do with the fact that she is thin and lovely. For reals. Nothing.

Anyway, she always asks if it is healthy, or organic. Not because she wants only healthy and organic food, of course. She is just testing me. Waiting, I think, for me to offer her something that is full of high fructose corn syrup. (I think it is because the gummy bears I gave her while we painted my bedroom were made with non-GMO cane sugar. Seriously.)

It won’t happen, I tell her. But still she asks. She must know it secretly gives me pleasure to tell her what is in something I made. She must be an enabler. Oh dear.

Well she was here this morning, but not for these muffins. I’ll have to make them for her now, since I put her in the same blog post.

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“Mmmmmmmmm.” At least, that is what my 8 year old calls these muffins.

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(I had to melt the honey cuz it was all crystallized.)

“These muffins are delicious! You can taste the peanut butter and the chocolate chips add a nice chocolatey flavor. Yumyumyumyumyumyumyummy! ” My 12 year old typed that herself!

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(This is how it starts.  Keep mixing!)

My son rolled his eyes and gave a half-hearted thumbs up. But that could be because I asked him what he thought about the muffins while his face was stuffed with pizza.

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(Til it looks like this!)

These are a super simple recipe that can be done by hand, in a mixer, or in a food processor. They can also be made with ANY nut butter. I love versatility!IMG_2099

Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

6 eggs (pastured)
½ cup nut butter (I used peanut)

½ cup coconut milk

1 ½ Tbsp vanilla extract

½ cup honey (or other natural sweetener)*

½ cup coconut flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder (aluminum free)

½ tsp salt

½ -1 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is a good brand)

 

*If you use another dry sweetener, like coconut sugar, add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil to maintain the moisture of the muffins.

Directions:

  1. In the food processor, mixer or by hand with a whisk, mix all ingredients, except the chocolate chips, until it is smooth.
  2. Add the chocolate chips and stir in.
  3. Use an ice cream scooper to fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Cool on a wire rack (or not).

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Gluten Free Fallen Souffle Cups

12 Mar

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I am what you might call an irregular blogger.  Every time I make a meal I think in my head, “Oh yeah!  This would be a great one to blog.”  And then I finish making whatever it is, serve it, eat it, put the kids to bed and carry on my merry way, (with an occasional gratuitous food picture on Facebook).

This week, after 4 months of chaos in my house-including a leak in the walls, replacing floors, bathroom vanity, walls, etc-I finally had a free moment to think.  So what do I think about?  Ah, that was clearly a rhetorical question.

Lately, I have been spending an unreasonable amount of time thinking of breakfast.  You see, our beautiful little chickens have finally been laying after a long winter’s rest.

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This means one thing:  EGGS!  Well, it also means that I am getting my money’s worth out of keeping them again.  No chicken stew this week!  (Okay, so I really can’t make any of them into stew.  My kids have grown ridiculously attached to them all.  It looks like it will be the long haul for these girls.)

Thanks to Pinterest, I now have about 15,000 recipes to use for breakfast, (though admittedly about 14,990 of them are just variations on the other 10).

Using one of those gluten and dairy filled ideas as a starting point, I created a pancake/souffle/biscuit cup recipe that is incredibly versatile.  We have already had it two ways, with a third way in motion for tomorrow.  Oh, and did I mention they are EASY?!

Now, without further ado:

Gluten Free Fallen Souffle Cups (with a dairy free option!)

7 eggs (preferably pastured)

1 cup milk (preferably raw/grass fed) Dairy free option: Coconut milk (can probably use almond or hemp or whatever)

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3/4 cup tapioca starch

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp. sea salt (I increased this to almost a full teaspoon on the dairy free version)

1 tsp. vanilla (optional-great for breakfast, I left it out for dinner)

1/4 cup salted grass fed butter – Dairy free option: coconut oil

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2.  Toss everything except the butter/coconut oil into a blender and mix until combined and slightly fluffy.  You MAY have to scrape the sides down once or twice.

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3.  Add half the butter/coconut oil, blend for about 15-20 seconds and then add the rest.

4.  Prep 12-18 baking cups, (you know, in a muffin pan), with either some really good oil or paper cups.  (I prefer the natural parchment paper liners)

5.  Divide the liquid evenly among the prepared cups.  For 18 cups, this is about 1/4-1/3 cup each.  For 12, go for about 1/3 cup to start and then go back and add more to each cup.

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6.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until very puffy and turning golden.

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7.  Remove from oven and allow to sit for a couple minutes to deflate.  Remove them from the paper and allow to rest on a wire rack until ready to serve.  I like them served ultra warm so had all my fillings ready to go by the time they came out of the oven.

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Some options for filling/topping them:

scrambled eggs with sausage or bacon, jam, whipped cream with fruit, sausage and kale (see first picture), sloppy joe mix, pulled pork, etc, etc, etc.  What I found is that they are best when topped with something that includes some sort of sauce.  But that is just my own personal preference.

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This one was filled with cream cheese mixed with a tbsp of coconut sugar nd 1 tsp of fresh lemon zest, topped with a blueberry lemon compote.  Seriously amazing!

 

If you make them and try a new variation, be sure to tell me about it in the comments.

How to Cut a Pomegranate (Or Life Changing Tip #1)

24 Oct

When I first learned this method it literally changed my life.  Previously, we have dressed in painting clothes, filled and spilled large bowls of water and generally made messes while trying to open the nutrient rich red seeded fruit.  Many of our lovely poms have been sent out to the compost bin or thrown out into the chicken yard because I just didn’t have the time or energy to work on opening them.  It was a tragic waste of good food.

Suddenly, we are going through several pomegranates per week!  I can’t even save any to send to work with hubs!  Bring on the poms!!!  I am ready for you now!

Sunday Sampler Week 2

9 Oct

Yes, I know it isn’t Sunday..or Monday..or..Tuesday..ahem. I got a little behind this week with family visitors and while the meals were cooked, not much was recorded…

SO.

Meals for this week are fun and yummy!

Only one is frozen, the other 2 are refrigerated to keep the veggies nice and crisp.

Meal 1- Barbacoa Pot Roast

 

This is our frozen meal. I made a barbacoa marinade, soaked a 5 pound grass fed chuck roast, added onions, carrots, beef bone broth and a few extra spices and then let it set for about an hour before freezing. This is a crockpot meal and will be cooked on low for 6-8 hours to keep the meat tender and yummy.

Meal 2- Hot Dog Skewers

I made a marinade of mustard, apple cider vinegar, celery seed and sea salt. Into this I put chopped red onions, baby pickles, spicy peppers, pasture raised hot dogs, cherry tomatoes and zucchini. Everything that I could think of that might make a super incredible NYC hot dog. After tossing, I loaded it all onto presoaked skewers. These go into the fridge to wait for the day we pop them on the grill.

I also made a gluten free buttery biscuit to go with these and froze them precooked. They will go into a 400* oven while the hotdogs are on the grill and cook for about 20-25 minutes.

Meal 3- Pear and Balsamic Quinoa Salad

 

This is one of my favorite cold or hot salads. It can be made with pears or apples, both crisp and fresh.

Need:

Chicken, chopped or shredded

Zucchini, chopped

Onion, chopped

Crisp Pears, chopped

Stinky cheese, (bleu, gorgonzola, etc)

Parm Cheese, shredded

Carmelized nuts (any) I used walnuts.

For the marinade:

Balsamic vinegar

Olive Oil

Honey Mustard

Garlic cloves, minced

Onion, minced

Sea salt/pepper

Mix together. Add to zucchini, onion and chicken, evenly. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.

For the Caramelized nuts:

Very carefully, melt some coconut sugar in a saucepan. Add chopped nuts before it completely melts and stir constantly until it is all stuck together. Dump onto a bit of parchment paper to cool. This stuff is seriously hot. It can burn!

For the quinoa:

2 cups of soaked quinoa

4 cups of chicken bone broth

Cook in a saucepan over medium to low heat. Bring broth to a boil, pour in Quinoa and cover tightly. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 20 mins or until broth has been completely absorbed into quinoa. Remove lid to finish steaming and remove from heat. Toss lightly with a fork. Dump into a large bowl.

Cook up chicken (if it is not already cooked, otherwise heat it in the saucepan/skillet), dump into bowl with quinoa.

Cook up zucchini and onion, dump into bowl with quinoa, including sauce.

Dump in cooled nuts, stinky cheese, pears and parm cheese.

Toss it all together. Taste and then salt to taste.

This keeps very well in the fridge.

 

So there you go. Our three meals for the week. I also made pizza for our Sunday family meal and had a quick homemade mac and cheese for last night. That is a full meal week. Hope that helps with some ideas for you!!!

What are you having this week?

Apple Chicken Salad (Paleo)

10 Sep

Not too long ago, I posted a super quick mayo recipe.  This recipe changed my life!  It has made so many other recipes simple and easy to make with real ingredients.

For example, this chicken salad recipe I am about to share.  The mayo takes about 3 minutes, and once the chicken is cooked, the rest of this thing just takes about 10 minutes total.  Such an easy protein to have in the fridge for snacks or for a quick meal.

Now, I always buy pasture raised chicken, since I can’t bring myself to eat any of the girls we have in the backyard.  Here are some good reasons to consider that for yourself as well.  And here.  Oh, and a little about eggs here.

ANYway, enough preaching, (Can I get an AMEN?!).  Time for sharing.

Apple Chicken Salad

1 whole chicken

1 apple, any crisp variety

1 red onion

3 or 4 stalks of celery

1 mayo recipe

sea salt and pepper to taste

1.  Start off with a fairly bland cooked chicken.  You can roast or fry or whatever.  I usually boil a whole chicken til it starts to fall apart, take it out of the water, strip it of all the meat and throw the bones and skin back in the water to make broth.  This gives you a perfectly shredded chicken and gives you lots of yummy flavor for the bone broth.  Chop it up and throw it into a big bowl.

I always start with a bowl that is too small and end up having to clean two.  Sigh.

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2.  Next, make your mayo.  (Click here for the recipe.)

3.  Cut up the apple, onion and celery into a dice.

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Throw those into the bowl too.

4.  Add the entire mayo recipe, some sea salt and pepper, then mix it all up.  It should be fairly moist.  Taste.  Does it need more salt?  Probably.  Add some more.  Taste again.  Should be perfect by now!

 

Did I mention that this is great to have in the fridge for a hurried snack or lunches for the kids?  Yeah, cuz it is.

This week, we had it wrapped in lettuce cups.  Mmmm, my favorite!

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Easiest Mayo Ever

2 Sep

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Since learning about how awful the new (as in the last 50 years or so) veggie oils are for our poor overtaxed bodies, mayo from the store has been a rare and fleeting treat.  I have made my own with different old school oils but the process with the food processor is tedious at best and positively time restrictive at worst.

Until now!  I have recently been scouring the good food blogs for ideas for the meal planning that I have taken up.  I found a quick mayo recipe on PaleOMG that seemed plausible.  So I tried a basic version of her recipe.

It worked!!!!

It literally took 3 minutes to make the whole thing!

So then I altered it just a bit to see if it would work with other oils.  It did!!!

Now, I am only sharing it here because hers is attached to other recipes so I can never find it.  But I also wanted a less expensive version, since she swears by avocado oil.  Trust me, it is VERY pricey if you buy the good stuff.   This is also just a basic recipe that can then be altered a bazillion ways.  Seriously, go look at her blog for some really cool additions.

All you need is an immersion blender, a wide mouth quart sized jar, and a few ingredients.

Easiest Mayo Ever

1/3 cup warm coconut oil (I like the refined stuff for this, less coconut flavor.  Also, coconut oil is liquid once it hits 76 degrees so it shouldn’t have to be very warm)

1/3 cup olive oil (you could also use any other old world oil here as long as it is expeller pressed and organic) *

1 pastured egg

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp any organic mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

pinch ground pepper

Directions:

Put all that into the mason jar.  Put the immersion blender to the bottom and blend.  Within about 30 seconds you should see the texture and color change.  It should look like a yellower version of mayo.  Mix til all the oil is emulsified, (blended in), and serve or refrigerate.

This only makes about 1 cup so it is the perfect amount for one recipe or a week’s worth of sandwiches.

*You can use more coconut oil if you want less olive oil flavor.  You want to make sure you have 2/3 cup oil total.

I may have to make this every week now.  I already made it 3 times just today.

Raw Yogurt the Lazy way

31 Aug

Well, I know that some of you were looking forward to the beyond mouth watering donuts that I posted on Facebook this morning.  I even started writing the post.

Here, I’ll just share the picture.

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I know, right?!

But, as I was writing some of the nuances of the recipe, I decided that I needed to tweek it some.  It has too many changes that could be made before it is perfect.

So, my family will get donuts a couple more times this week so I can share with you.  And today, I’ll tell you the cheater way to make Raw yogurt.

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There are lots of really amazing bloggers who have gone to the trouble of figuring out the right yogurt cultures to buy and cultivate to make the creamiest and thickest yogurt.  There are some who have even shown us how to use a yogurt maker or a crockpot.

I am not one of them.

Let me tell you a little secret about me.  I have done all that too.  But guess what, I can’t keep a starter alive for more than about 3 weeks.  Believe me, I have tried.  I have had some pretty amazing starters.  Some that have traveled across the world!

And yet, they all die in my kitchen.

It is the only thing that doesn’t get enough food in my house!

So, while you, dear reader, might be much better at growing bacteria than I, if you are here, it means you would like an easier way.  THAT, I can do.

Now, you might be wondering why we should even eat raw milk yogurt.  (I am assuming that you already know all the amazing benefits of raw milk and have assessed the risks.)   That is a good question.  Yogurt is often recommended for its cultures.  It is a probiotic in that it has active bacteria strains that have been shown in studies to provide health benefits in those who can tolerate it.  Did you know that we are mostly made up of bacteria?  Yeah, it is true.  We actually need to continuously feed our bacteria more bacteria to keep our bacterial bodies happy.  It’s like a microbial party going on all the time!

So, if yogurt has all those benefits, why should we bother with raw?

Well, at least in my family, a couple of my people are lactose intolerant.  My son is also allergic to pasteurized dairy.  And to be honest, after going raw, I don’t do so well with pasteurized dairy either.  Making this yogurt at home means that we can all partake equally.  This saves me from buying different types of yogurt for each intolerance or allergy.   Saving money and time?  Um, yes thank you!

There are actually all kinds of other reasons, not the least of which is the amount of time that most companies allow (or don’t allow) their products to culture.

So here we go.

This takes all of 10 minutes of active time.  If that.

Start with a high quality organic (preferably grass fed) WHOLE MILK PLAIN store bought yogurt.  I use Straus, although I have used Nancy’s and Trader Joe’s brand and Clover.  My favorite is Straus.  It gives me the best texture most consistently.  This is your starter.  It has all the active cultures present and it doesn’t have to be kept alive.  *Ahem*

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One quart sized container of yogurt will make 7 quarts of raw yogurt.  You don’t have to make it all at once, though I do.  It keeps for about 3-4 weeks in the back of the fridge so you can make a quart at a time, do the whole shebang like I do, or find your balance somewhere in between.  For us, it is an easy lunch and smoothie filler that the kids love so 7 quarts really only last us about 2 weeks.

The rule of thumb here is 1 rounded TBSP per CUP of raw milk.  That comes out to just over 1/4 cup of yogurt to 1 quart of raw milk.

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I just put it into the quart sized mason jar by the tablespoon and then add the raw milk to the top.  It is not an exact science.  Don’t stress it.

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If you happen to have any extra raw cream hanging around, a sneaky trick is to add extra cream before you add the milk.  This makes it…yep, you guessed it, more CREAMY!  If I have some I will usually add about 2-3 tbsp of cream per jar.  If I have a ton, (hardly ever), then I will add up to 1/2 cup more per jar.  Those are the best yogurts ever.

Once they are full of milk, you just mix them with a spoon.  I recommend wooden spoons just because of the rare possibility that stirring with a metal spoon in a glass jar can break the glass.

Um…yes.  It HAS happened to me.   Thanks for the reminder.  Sigh.

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Top it with cheese cloth or a coffee filter and the jar ring.  Or if you can’t find the rings just use a rubber band around the top.  Works just as well.

These can be left on the counter, put in a warmish cupboard, or even put in your dehydrator set at 85 degrees.  Some people have put them in the oven, with just the light on to give it warmth.  The goal is to keep it kinda warm or it will take longer to culture.  On a hot summer day, this will be ready in 12-18 hours.  During the colder months it can take anywhere from 24-72 hours to completely culture.

How to know it is done:

None of my pictures would show it well enough so I will describe it carefully.

It is done when you look at the sides of the jar and can see teeny tiny little bubbles in the yogurt.  I mean tiny.  These are not big air bubbles.  Just a small indicator that the stuff is not so liquidy anymore.  Also, if you tilt the jar, the yogurt will come away from the inner side of the jar in a thicker texture, usually leaving the jar without a film.

If you let it go too long and the whey begins to separate, you have a couple of choices.

You can mix it back in.  Usually that works fine.

OR you can use a cheesecloth, at least a few layers thick, pour the yogurt into the cloth, tie it closed and hang it over a bowl overnight.  You will then have a very thick yogurt, or a nice creamy cream cheese.  Plus, you have a cultured whey which can then be used for feeding chickens, preserving fermented foods, adding to salsa to extend the life, or just using in smoothies.

The finished product is usually the consistency of the starter yogurt.  Sometimes it is thicker, sometimes more runny.

My kidlets eat this stuff just about everyday with some frozen berries or fresh fruit and a tiny bit of maple syrup, (unless I am not looking; then the maple syrup mysteriously evaporates very rapidly).  The frozen stuff is great for the runnier yogurt.  Thickens it right up!

We also use it for baking, smoothies, and once I even made it into frozen yogurt.  That was yummy too!

Let me know how it works for you!

Who is the lazy chef?

24 Aug

Let me be clear.  I consider myself a lazy chef because I just do not have time to spend three hours in the kitchen making these Cordon-Bleu-level-of-perfection masterpieces.  However, I love food, as long as it is REAL food, and I love to make things taste good.  I have a pretty good understanding of much of the science behind how foods work, both in the body and when combined in cooking.    I eat real, whole, straight from the farm foods, and that ain’t always easy!   All my recipes reflect that as a life philosophy, and I hope you can join in and enjoy the flavor life takes on when it is real.

I also have a story, just like each of you has a story.  Mine includes an amazing hubby, four kids under 12, homeschooling, multiple degrees in education and a degree in progress for Holistic Nutrition.  (Can you say over-achiever?)  It also includes growing up in the middle of the country with a great big garden and chickens, having chickens in our urban backyard on the west coast, and cooking for a kid with multiple allergies.  (Hubby wanted me to put urban “homesteading” backyard, just to make a point.  You’ll have to ask me about that for more info on the inside joke!)

Oh, and did I mention that I am very opinionated?  I don’t always share them, but I almost always have a strong opinion about any given topic.  My goal though, is to always be courteous when sharing mine, so that you can be courteous when sharing yours.

Intrigued yet?  No?  Then this blog is not for you.

My true purpose in starting this blog, (cuz I already have one that I rarely ever use), is to have a record of the recipes I make since I am always forgetting to write them down.  So, follow along, try my recipes, alter them and let me know how it worked for you!

Simple Bruschetta on Sourdough Crostini

24 Aug

Lately, we have been getting a lot of tomatoes and basil in our CSA box.  I also heard recently that basil can help deal with flies so I bought a couple plants to put in the backyard with the chickens.  It didn’t work, but that is another story.  Now we have basil coming out of our ears.

I have to preface this by saying I am not a huge fan of tomatoes.  (I know, I know!  But it is a texture thing!!!)  Bruschetta has never been something I look forward to eating.  Usually, I take all the massive amounts of tomatoes that come in the box and from my garden, (I know, I know, but they grow so well!!!), and cook them all down into sauce.  Mmmmm, tomato sauce.

Anyway, Hubby and I spent our 15th anniversary in Santa Barbara just a few weeks ago, WITHOUT KIDS, and had a meal at our very favorite restaurant over there, Blue Agave. Everything we have ever had there has been fantastic so I highly recommend it.  This time, after we sat down to browse the menus, our sweet server brought us a plate with two tiny bruschetta on crostinis.  I was so hungry, I didn’t care what the food was, I just needed a bite.

A. Bite.  Oh.  My.

It was UH-Mazing!  By the time Hubby looked up from his menu, I was down to only a tiny bite left.  I struggled.  Then sacrificed it to him.  Just so he could understand…

We asked for more when she took our order.

I ordered a margharita pizza just to replicate the flavors.

Then we came home.  To basil.  And tomatoes.  And my desire to re-create the incredible taste.

So I did.

And now I’m going to share it with you.  Just please, don’t complain about the terrible quality of the pictures.  I know.  You should see how badly cracked my screen has become.  Sorry.

Bruschetta on Sourdough Crostini

Bruschetta

Tomatoes, garlic (or garlic powder), sea salt, basil, olive oil, grated/shredded Parmesan cheese- preferably grass fed.
1.  Start with fresh tomatoes.  Make sure they smell like tomatoes too, strong.  I used a variety of heirloom tomatoes.

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2.  Throw about 2 cups worth into the blender.  Don’t bother peeling or de-seeding them.  You could cut out the little stem part if it is particularly tough, but my vitamix makes it all look the same.  Blend until there are no big chunks left.  I like it to be pretty much like sauce, but it is okay to leave small chunks.

3.  Put that into a saucepan over medium to low heat and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes.  Add some fresh diced garlic, maybe 2-3 cloves.  (The easy way is to have a good quality organic garlic powder on hand.  Use about 1/2 tsp. if you don’t have time to chop.)

4.  When it is just about done, prepare an ice bath and add a pan inside that.

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My bowls are old and dented.  Hopefully you don’t have that problem.

Dump that heated sauce into the bowl inside the ice bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.

5.  While that is cooling take another 2-3 tomatoes and chop them into small pieces.  Put that into a glass bowl.  Add about 1 tsp sea salt.

6.  Pick about 10-15 leaves from your basil.  Image

Stack them up nice and neat, then sort of roll them toward the middle stem.  Hold it together and then cut into thin slices with a sharp knife.  Or just randomly chop them into little slivers.

7.  Add just a touch more garlic powder to the fresh tomatoes in the bowl. Then dump the cooled tomato sauce in the same bowl.  Add the slivers of basil and about 2 tsp of olive oil.  Toss lightly with a fork or spoon.

Crostini

1.  First you need to start with a really high quality sourdough.  If you can make it yourself, great!  If not, find a bakery locally that uses wild yeast and ferments the bread for longer than 8 hours!

2.  Next you need a high quality olive oil.  I use Chaffin Family Orchards from northern CA.  They will ship it and it is really good stuff.

3.  Cut the bread slices into small 2 bite sized pieces.  Lay them on a cookie sheet.  Set the oven to 400*.  Spray or brush the olive oil onto the bread.  Bake for about 4 minutes.

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4.  Take them out of the oven, flip each piece over with a fork and brush the other side with olive oil.  Put it back in for about 5 minutes.  Then they are ready to be loaded.

5.  Using a spoon, load each piece of bread with some of the bruschetta.Image

7.  Once all the bread has been stacked with yumminess, add the final touch: shredded Parmesan cheese.  (I use the raw stuff from Trader Joe’s.  I know it is not likely from grass fed cows.  It is a compromise I make because shredding parm is hard work!  Sometimes I pick up some better quality stuff from Whole Paycheck Foods.

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Next, eat at least two pieces before you tell the troops that it is ready.  Otherwise you will be lucky to get any at all.  As you can see, I didn’t even bother wiping the cheese off my hands before sneaking the first taste.

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Mmmmm.  Just like I remember!

And the kids like it too!

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