Chicken and Kale Soup

I LOVE this immunity-boosting turmeric chicken soup and make it often!  Click HERE for the original recipe.  Below is my take on the soup.

1 Tablespoon avocado or olive oil
1 onion - diced
4 large carrots, peeled and diced (I like them small)
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced (I like them small)
3 stalks of celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs (can use breasts, but I like dark meat better), chopped (I like them small)
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 inch (ish) of fresh turmeric, finely grated (can use 1 teaspoon of dried turmeric)
1 inch (ish) of fresh ginger, finely grated (can use 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (more if your bone broth isn't salted) - to taste
4 cups chicken bone broth
2 cups water
1 can full-fat canned coconut milk
1 head kale, chopped (remove the leaves from the stalk)

Heat the oil in a large stock pot.  Add onions and sauté until translucent - stirring occasionally.  Add the carrots, parsnips, celery, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes - stirring occasionally.  Add chicken and cook until the meat is browned.  Add spices, broth, water, and coconut milk.  Cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes (up to one hour).  In last 10 minutes of cooking, toss in the kale, stir, and finish cooking.  Add more salt if needed.  


Elderberry Juice

Elderberry is a great supplement for cold and flu season...and sure couldn't hurt anything right now!  It is easy and cheaper to make my own.  There are recipes that get the juice to more of a syrup, but this is my favorite, go-to recipe (a combination of a couple of different recipes that my lovely aunt first concocted).  

In a pot combine:
1 1/3 cups dried elderberries (I buy them on Amazon)
7 cups water
1 T whole cloves (I put them in a tea ball and drop it in)
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 T fresh ginger (I like to grate it)
Optional - 12 oz fresh blackberries (I don’t always add these…just if there is a good sale)

Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.  

Remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled.  Remove the cinnamon sticks.
Mash the mixture with a spoon or flat utensil through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or jar. 

Discard or compost what remains in the strainer (or if you have a husband like mine who likes to eat the elderberries, add it to some plain yogurt with a little honey and he's set for breakfast for a few days!).  

Add up to 2 cups  agave or honey (I use agave because I’m allergic to honey) to remaining liquid and stir well.  I usually just squeeze and stir until it feels about right.  So sometimes it is sweeter than other times, depending on my mood!

Store in the fridge in a container that is easy to pour from...I love these glass bottles that I have from other supplements and save them for using for elderberry juice. 

I give our littles (age 3 and 5) 1 teaspoon per day and all the big people get 1 tablespoon per day.  
If a cold or flu begins, you can take the normal dose up to once every 2 to 3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms stop and hopefully it will help shorten the duration of the illness. 

*I have no idea how this is against other viruses (such as Covid-19) and this is not intended as medical advice...if you are ill please contact your doctor and not the beans blog!  For me and my family, anything that might boost our immune system or give it a fighting chance, seems like a good thing to do - but use your own wisdom to decide what is right for you and your family.  Cheers to 2020 turning a corner to a healthier year!

Lemony Blueberry Muffins

My cousin found a recipe for AIP/Paleo Lemon Blueberry Muffins.
I have reintroduced a few foods so was able to modify these a bit to suit what I'm eating these days.
Here is my modified version ...

1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 eggs
zest and juice (about 1/4 cup juice) of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract ... I use my homemade stuff
2/3 cup coconut flower
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch or two of salt
1 cup fresh blueberries (I have also used frozen)

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).  Line muffin tins with preferred liner.

Combine wet ingredients using a whisk.  Reserving blueberries til the end, combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients a little at a time to the wet ingredients, whisk each time until the batter is no longer lumpy.

Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon batter equally into 12 muffin cups.

Bake 20 minutes, rotate, bake another 10 minutes or until a toothpick come out clean.

PS.  I sprinkled some cacao nibs on top of a few of these to see if they would be a yummy addition.  I didn't love them.  BUT ... next time I am going to stir the cacao nibs through a few of them and see if it's better that way ...

Cold Buster Broth

The cold season has hit and after too many days of coughing and sneezing and stuffy heads, we started fighting back with this.  It feels healthy alllll the way down to your toes!

Cut top of one head of garlic and rub in some olive oil.  Wrap the garlic in foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees or until garlic is soft.  Let cool and then pop all of the garlic cloves out of their skins.

Meanwhile, slice one to two onions and grate 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh ginger (I found that if you slice it you end up with woody strings in your soup).  Peel 26 cloves of raw garlic (or use the prechopped stuff...I did this because the cold was kicking my butt and I didn't have enough energy to peel that much garlic!). 

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add onion, ginger, and 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  Cook until onions are translucent (about six minutes).  Add roasted and raw garlic and cook another three minutes. 

Add 3 1/2 cups veggie or chicken broth, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.  Puree soup in a blender or with a stick blender until smooth.  Add 1/2 cup coconut milk (I only had coconut water one time I made this and it turned out fine).  You can either squeeze a slice of lemon into each serving or squeeze one whole lemon into the entire batch.  I forgot lemons at the store, but I have a bunch of limes, so I'm going to try two or three limes instead of a lemon and see how it goes.

The soup is pretty strong.  My husband enjoys it that way, but me and the kids, not so much.  I do about a half a mug of soup and then fill the rest of the mug with more chicken broth.  It's still intense but tasty and helped us feel better!

Serve hot.  You can store the soup for a day or two in the fridge.

For the Freezer

I've been making freezer crock pot meals for a while now.  A lifesaver on those days when I'm working and won't be home till dinner time, but a sporting event, band concert, school function, etc mean dinner needs to be RIGHT when I get home from work (either that or I end up cranky and hungry trying to manage cranky, hungry, tired babies!  Not fun!!).  
A few months ago I thought, wouldn't it be fun to do this WITH other people?  I love my house full of boys, but some times I just need some girl time.  Thus, my freezer meal party prep days started.  About once a month, a group of ladies (who ever happens to be interested and free that day) bring ingredients and we chat and prep meals.  
It's GREAT!  

Girl time plus our freezers are a little more stocked.  
Win Win!  

We make 5 or 6 recipes each time and since there are a wide variety of family sizes represented at the parties, I usually try to make sure that each meal will feed one entire large family.  Those that have smaller families either cook the entire meal and then refreeze portions for later use or separate the meal into multiple bags when they get home.  For the the larger families, I think it averages out to be around $10-12 per meal and less per meal for the families that can get two or three meals out of each recipe. 

Here are some recipes that I've posted before.
Part 1  - Teriyaki Chicken (you can do this with pork too); BBQ Ribs; and Salsa Chicken
Part 2 - Cheesy Chicken; Sausage Lentil Soup (this is a HUGE favorite); Sausage and Bean Supper
Part 3 - Quinoa Chili (this is a big hit too!); Black Bean and Chicken Tacos; Korean Beef Tacos

Here are a few more that we've been making.
Tortilla Soup (this one is SUPER yummy!)

Note for the crock pot meals: I recently saw an article that stated that the FDA recommends not cooking meat from frozen in your crock pot - not because the meat doesn't get thoroughly cooked, but because it stays at what they consider an unsafe temperature for too long.  I'm a thaw meat on the counter, dump frozen meat in my crock pot and go girl...use your own judgement and do what you're comfortable with.  The crock pot meals can all be pulled out of the freezer the night before and thawed in the fridge for easy dump and go the next morning.  

Here are two that don't go in the crock pot.

Here are some for the grill.
Grilled Korean Pork Chops (this is SOOO Yummy!!)

And this is on my "got to try this soon" list!

I need to try and remember to take pictures of these when I cook them!

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Dump into each bag:
·         1-2lbs cooked chicken, diced
·         1 can refried beans
·         2 cans black beans
·         16 oz frozen corn
·         16 oz salsa

Instructions for Ziplock:
Dump into crock pot and add 2 cups water and 2 cups chicken broth.  
Cook on low 8 hours or until hot and bubbly.  
Stir in 16 oz shredded cheddar and serve with tortilla chips and sour cream. 

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes

For each bag:
·         Brown and drain:
o   1lb ground beef
o   1lb ground turkey
·         ½ cup ketchup
·         ½ cup mustard
·         2 cans pork and beans (only drain 1 can)

Instructions for Ziplock:
Dump into crock pot and cook on low 4-6 hours or until heated through. 

Sausage, Spinach, and White Bean Soup

Sausage, Spinach, & White Bean Soup

Dump into each bag:
·         1 package Kielbasa sausage (thinly sliced and browned)
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 onion, diced
·         6 carrots, peeled and diced
·         2 cans great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
·         1 teaspoon dried oregano
·         2 bay leaves

Instructions for Ziplock:
Dump into crock pot along with 6 cups chicken broth.  Cook on low 8 hours.  
Stir in 3 cups baby spinach and serve.

Pulled Pork with White BBQ Sauce

Pulled Pork with White BBQ Sauce

Dump into each bag:
·         1 Onion, thinly sliced
·         4 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 T brown sugar
·         1 T chili powder (or less depending on your preference)
·         1 T salt
·         ½ t cumin
·         ½ t paprika
·         5lb pork shoulder or butt roast

Instructions for Ziplock:
Cook low 8 to 10 hours (recommended to shred meat after 8 hours and cook a little bit longer).  

Serve with white BBQ sauce: 2 cups mayo, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 T brown sugar, ½ t salt, 1 t pepper, 1 t cayenne pepper (or less depending on your preference), juice from 1 lemon (can be made ahead and stored in fridge for up to 2 weeks).

Pork Verde

Pork Verde

Dump into bag:
·         1 boneless pork roast (3-4lbs)  ADD PORK LAST SO IT IS FIRST THING IN CROCKPOT
·         1 onion
·         16 oz salsa verde
·         2 4-oz cans chopped green chili’s
·         2t cumin
·         1t oregano
·         1t salt
·         1t pepper
·         1/8t cinnamon

Instructions for Ziplock:
Dump into crock pot.  Cook on low 5-6 hours if thawed, 8 hours if frozen.  
Shred pork.  Serve over grits, rice, or corn bread. 
Add 1/4c cilantro if desired.  

Hurry Chicken

Hurry Chicken

Dump into bag:
·         ½ cup brown sugar
·         ½ cup ketchup
·         1 packet onion soup mix
·         1/4 t salt
·         1/8t pepper
·         3lbs boneless chicken

Instructions for Ziplock:
Dump into crock pot and add 1 cup chicken broth.  Cook on low 8 hours.  
Add red pepper flakes as desired.  
Shred chicken.  Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles, or rice.

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken

Dump into bag:
·         8 boneless chicken breasts or 12 boneless thighs
·         4 cloves garlic, crushed
·         1 ½ T minced ginger
·         2/3 cup soy sauce
·         3 T brown sugar
·         3 T apple cider vinegar
·         3 T rice wine vinegar

Instructions for Ziplock:
Thaw in fridge and then Grill! 

Grilled Korean Pork Chops

Grilled Korean Pork Chops

Dump into each bag:
·         8 pork chops
·         2 T olive oil
·         ½ cup soy sauce
·         4 T agave  (you can do honey if you prefer)
·         8 cloves of garlic, minced
·         2 t sesame oil
·         2 t minced ginger
·         2 t sriacha

Instructions for Ziplock:
Thaw in fridge and then Grill! 
(About 4 minutes for first side and 3 to 4 minutes for the second side...unless your chops are very thin or very thick)

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Grilled Cilantro Lime Chicken

Dump into each bag:
·         8 boneless chicken breasts
·         ½ cup olive oil
·         1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
·         Zest of two limes  (just the zest...the juice makes the chicken tough since it will marinate for so long.  We used the leftover limes to flavor water)

Instructions for Ziplock:
Thaw in fridge and then Grill! 

Grilled Chili Maple Chicken

Grilled Chili Maple Chicken

Dump into each bag:
·         8 boneless chicken breasts or 12 boneless thighs
·         4 T water
·         2 t salt
·         3 T maple syrup
·         1 T chili powder

Instructions for Ziplock:
Thaw in fridge and then Grill! 

Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan

·         Simmer chicken until cooked through
·         For each 9x13 pan:
o   Cut up 1.5lbs of cooked chicken, place in pan  (Note: it takes more than 1.5lbs raw chicken to make 1.5lbs cooked!  We learned this the hard way!!)
o   Add frozen broccoli
o   Mix together 2 cans cream of chicken soup, 2 teaspoons curry powder, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and one cup mayo – pour over chicken and broccoli
o   Mix together 1.5 cups shredded cheese and ½ cup bread crumbs – sprinkle on top of pan.
·         Wrap pan securely with plastic wrap and top with foil.

Instructions for Cooking:
Thaw casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. 

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

Brown Sugar Meatloaf

·         Coat bottom of pans with cooking spray and place two slices of bread at the bottom of each pan (the bread will absorb the grease from the cooked meatloaf and should be discarded not eaten…unless you want to eat it!)
·         In a large mixing bowl, combine:
o   3lbs ground beef
o   1 cup milk
o   4 eggs
o   2 pks of onion soup mix
o   1.5 cups breadcrumbs
o   2 teaspoons salt
o   ½ teaspoon pepper
o   ½ teaspoon ground ginger
·         Split mixture evenly between two loaf pans
·         Cover each pan with a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. 
·         Label each pan:
o   Thaw
o   Preheat oven to 350
o   Remove foil and plastic wrap
o   Mix ½ cup brown sugar, 1 cups ketchup, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and pour over meat loaf
o   Bake ~1hr until juices run clear or meat thermometer reads 160
o   Let rest ten minutes before slicing and serving

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff

Dump into bag:
·         2lbs stew beef (cheap, whatever kind you want)
·         1lb mushrooms, washed and sliced
·         1 onion, diced
·         ½ cup red wine (cheap)
·         2 beef bouillon cubes

Instructions for Ziplock:
Dump into crock pot along with 1 cup water.  Cook on low 8 hours.  
Stir in ½ cup sour cream right before serving.  Serve over rice or noodles.

BBQ Beer Chicken

BBQ Beer Chicken

Dump into bag:
·         3lbs boneless, skinless chicken
·         2 cloves garlic, minced
·         1 tablespoon onion powder
·         ½ tablespoon paprika
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         3 cups BBQ sauce

Instructions for Ziplock:
Dump into crock pot along with 1 can of beer (whatever kind you want).  
Cook on low 8 hours.  
Shred chicken and serve on buns of your choice.