Archive for the ‘Pennywise Platter’ Category

Quickie: Pasta-less Carbonara

This is a quick meal hack: making carbonara without pasta.  Generally, I don’t eat a lot of pasta anymore, but occasionally, I just say “screw it” and make a bowl of the real stuff.  None of this shirataki/squash BS; I have real rice sticks with my pad Thai and real spaghetti with my tomato sauce.  But this week, I flat-out forgot to buy a box of pasta, and my pantry is such that pasta just isn’t a staple I keep stocked.  So I’ve come up with a quick, easy, grain-free way to enjoy the eggy-creamy-cheesy-bacony goodness of carbonara without pasta.

Potatoes.  Yeah, not low-carb, but they’re delicious and I find them far easier on my digestion than gluten grains anyway.  I mixed in some diced zucchini as well, since I’m starting the produce and protein challenge tomorrow and also because I overbought zucchini at the market (easy to do this time of year).

Potatoes alla Carbonara

Potatoes alla Carbonara

3-5 small red potatoes, cubed

1-2 zucchini, diced

1 egg + 2 egg yolks

2-4 Tbsp. cream

1/2 c. grated hard Italian cheese (I think I used Romano)

6 strips of bacon, baked and chopped, grease reserved

Start by steaming the potatoes until just tender.  While the potatoes steam, whisk together eggy goodness, cream, and some pepper if you want.  Add the zucchini to the steamer about 5 minutes before the potatoes finish.  Remove your steamer basket and empty the water out of your pan and put the veggies back in over medium heat.  Add 3-4 Tbsp. bacon grease and stir to coat.  Add in the egg mixture and 1/2 the cheese.  Stir until a creamy sauce forms.  Add in the bacon.  Serve over a bed of kale and top with the rest of the cheese.  Makes 2 generous servings.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.


Leftover Hash and Frugal Tips from this Week

This week I made a meatloaf on Monday night, which left me with some nice leftovers last night.  Hash is one of my favorite ways to use leftover meat, especially the night before I run in the morning.  Potatoes fill out what may or may not be sparse amounts of meat, and you can throw the veggies right into the hash, or else serve the hash over steamed veggies.  It’s a great way to reheat foods without a microwave and get some nice browning on them.  I’m giving my recipe for hash using leftover meat loaf, but you could use hamburger patties, cubed meat, or just some fresh ground meat.  And feel free to use any substantial veggie for the bulk.

Now for some tips for keeping it frugal from this week:

1.) Make your own jewelry and investigate alternative ways to manage your health.

2.) Use bountiful veggies to make moist, healthy muffins.

3.) If you’ve been practicing for a while, try building a yoga home practice.  You’ll save on class fees and transportation, and you can move through your practice at your own pace with modifications if you need, without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

4.) Use your leftovers!  Use substantial veggies like potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes, etc. to fill out meals to stretch more expensive ingredients, like pastured meats.

Yeah, I forgot to take a picture before digging in.

Leftover Hash

Potatoes, cut into cubes about 1/3″ on a side

Meat, cut into similarly small cubes

Other veggies, if desired


Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add ghee to the pan and let it melt.  Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt.  Cook, tossing every 5-10 minutes until browned and cooked through (about 30 minutes).  Add the meat and let brown.  Flip/toss and let brown some more.  Add other veggies if you want and allow to warm/cook through.  Remove the hash to plate, serve it over steamed greens, and top with white gravy, if you have it.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.

Homemade Healthy Bread

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that my husband is the master breadmaker of the two of us.  I just don’t have the patience needed to deal with bread, most of the time.  But I love homemade bread.  And with the renewed vigor of my commitment to traditional food preparations, I thought I’d try to make my own loaf of bread to eat this week.  Because eating healthy just isn’t as bad when there are bread-and-butter sandwiches involved.

I used a recipe I got from Passionate Homemaking for soaked whole grain bread, cut it down to my needs, and made a couple of tweaks.  I’m going to post the entire process as I experienced it, even though I’ve linked the recipe, since the original recipe is for 4 loaves of bread and plenty of people commented wanting to know how to make less.

Soaked Whole Wheat Bread

Soaked grain mixture:

2-3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup yogurt

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oats

2 Tbsp. ground flaxseeds

2 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. melted ghee

The day before you want bread, mix these together.  It’ll take some doing, as there isn’t a whole lot of moisture here, but it should eventually come together into a kind of dry scone-like dough.  Cover tightly and leave out at room temperature for 12-24 hours (I did 18).

Yeasty stuff:

2 tsp. yeast

3 Tbsp. warm water

dab of honey (maybe 1/2 tsp.?)

Mix this together and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until it gets foamy and alive-looking.  Then add this, along with 2 tsp. salt (I use Real Salt) to the dry soaked grain mixture.  This will eventually come together into a goopy dough.  Add some white or sprouted flour to get into a soft, cohesive mass.  Knead more flour into it as you knead the dough for 10 minutes, or until it becomes somewhat smooth and beautiful (the oats and flax will mar the smoothness just a bit).  It should feel bouncy.

Retire this lovely lump of dough to a greased-up bowl, rub the top with some of your greasing medium (I used softened ghee), and cover with a damp towel for an hour and a half to rise.  It’ll double in size.  Then, punch it, flip it, and let it rise again for 45 minutes.

Then, form it into a loaf and put it on it’s final baking destination (I used a 5×9″ loaf pan that was greased and floured) and cover with your damp towel to rise again for 30-45 minutes, or just until doubled in size.  About 10 minutes before you want to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cut a slit in your loaf to control where the crust will crack while baking.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees and the loaf is browned and gorgeous.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out and cool on a wire rack.  Let it cool for a combined 20 minutes, at least, before slicing.  Grit your teeth because you’ve been smelling fresh bread for the last hour.  Then, slice off the heel, slather in good quality butter, maybe some honey or jam, and enjoy the fruits of your labors.  If you want to keep it longer than a couple days, I recommend slicing it up and freezing it in parchment and aluminum foil.

Makes one loaf.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

Millet Porridge

While I used to eat oatmeal in cold weather, my new favorite thing is millet. It’s gluten-free, and it happens to be the cheapest bulk grain at my organic store. I thought I’d share my recipe for basic millet porridge for you, since it’s such a frugal way to base a meal. I mostly eat it for breakfast, but it would make an excellent bed for any kind of topping. I’ve made hearty meals, with meat and eggs on top of millet, and I’ve made simple breakfasts of millet with butter and honey.

My current favorite is to fry up some sliced mushrooms in ghee and then push them to the side, fry up an egg and top the millet with butter, fried egg, and mushrooms. Delicious, filling, and no added sugar, so I don’t get hungry again mid-morning like I do with sweet breakfasts.

Basic Millet Porridge
1/3 cup millet
1 cup water + extra for soaking
dash of salt
The night before, put the millet in a container and cover with water (at least a cup). Add a splash of an acidic medium, if you wish. Millet is low in phytic acid, so it does not need a long soaking. In the morning, strain the millet and bring a cup of water to a boil. Add the salt and the millet and cover, turning the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed. Serve topped however you like. Makes one serving.
This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.
Don’t miss the latest article at Wellness the Wild Woman Way, about stinging nettle!

Meat Pies: A Frugal Way to Use Leftovers

Another quickie showing one of my favorite ways to use up leftovers. Last week, I cooked a 5-lb. pot roast. While we ate a great deal of the meat for Sunday night dinner with a guest, and had it again the next night, I was not in the mood for more pot roast later in the week. So I chopped the meat, added sauteed vegetables, and simmered it in some of the reserved broth. I thickened the broth with a spoon of arrowroot, and then baked the whole thing in pie crusts for meat pies.

I used a standard pie crust recipe, with an added egg for structure to the crust, and a little more flour for the amount of butter I used. I also used half spelt flour and half white whole wheat flour, since I knew the meat filling could handle a heartier crust. The resulting pie was rich, filling, and altogether different from a bowl of pot roast with broth. Meat pies are a great way to recycle food without it seeming like “leftovers, again!”
This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.
Don’t forget to check out the debut article at Wellness the Wild Woman Way!

Whole Grain Pita Bread

Last week on Thursday, I got to stay home, pretended to be a pioneer in the morning before we got power back, and then made homemade pita bread because, after the power came back on, I had watched the last episode of Rome and was craving Mediterranean nibbles. It was good, but kind of off-the-cuff. This time, I actually mostly followed a recipe, although I used the same cooking method.

Homemade pita is delicious and very very cheap. The entire recipe below costs less than a dollar and a quarter, roughly, and I used organic, high-quality ingredients for everything. It’s fairly quick, although I bet a long-soaked or sourdough version would be delicious, too. And since pita doesn’t really rise like a regular loaf, it tolerates less kneading, lower-gluten flours, and just generally more shenanigans than a regular loaf of bread. I may try making an entirely-spelt version in the future.

Homemade Pita
2/3 cup water, at room temperature or slightly warmer
1 tsp. dry active yeast
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
Mix together the water and oil. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and set aside to let the yeast dissolve. Mix in 1/2 cup of spelt flour and see if it seems bubbly. Add the rest of the spelt flour, the salt, and half the wheat flour. If you have been using a spoon, abandon it and get your hands sticky. Mix in enough of the rest of the flour so that you have a slightly soft dough, but one that can hold a ball shape without oozing. Form into a ball and put into an oiled bowl. Cover and set in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. Then, divide the dough into fourths and shape each fourth into a flat round, about 1/8-1/4″ thick. You can lightly oil the flats, if you wish, with olive oil. Broil for 2-4 minutes on each side, until puffed and browned. Eat right away with butter or oil, or else let cool and wrap tightly in foil. Makes 4 pitas, each about 6″ or so in diameter.
This is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.
{an aside: please visit my new website, Wellness the Wild Woman Way, where I hope to share articles about general health and wellness topics}

Italian Chip Steak Skillet

In the interest of maintaining my Sugar-Free Challenge commitment last week, one of the additional changes was to drastically reduce my intake of grains. This means I had to increase my intake of meats, eggs, fish, veggies, and dairy. Fruit I saved for special treats, since it was my only sweet. One thing I’ve found about grain-free eating is that it tends to get expensive for me. I don’t stick to an exclusively grain-free diet, but I do try to eat a lot less grain than the average American (2-4 servings per day, rather than the 6-11 recommended by the Food Pyramid).

But I can keep it cheaper. The last time I visited Hedgeapple Farm to buy more local, pastured beef, I stocked up on cheap cuts of meat. They were having a sale on rump roast (think pot roast) and chip steaks (think Philly cheese steaks), so I got 2 5-lb. rump roasts, 4 packs of chip steak, and some of the bulk 5-lb. packs of ground beef. Chip steaks are especially wonderful because they thaw relatively fast, are cheap, cook really fast, and offer a nice variety rather than eating ground beef all the time.

There are, however, only so many bread-less Philly cheese steaks a person can eat. So I mixed it up a little. This week, we’re having chip steak, three ways. Tuesday night, I made an Italian-inspired chip steak skillet meal. It cooks in one skillet, has no unfamiliar ingredients, and is delicious and hearty.

Italian Chip Steak Skillet
2/3 lb. of chip steak (also called sandwich steak, or use thin-sliced beef of another type)
Ghee or clarified butter (coconut oil for dairy-free)
salt and garlic powder
1 medium green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 can organic diced tomatoes (get the no salt added kind!)
1 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (optional, omit for dairy-free)
Lay the beef out on a plate and sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Be liberal. Let that soak in while you slice up the veggies. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and melt your fat. Toss in your veggies and cook for a few minutes, until the onions soften slightly and begin to pick up a bit of color. Remove them and set aside. Add the meat to the hot pan and let it brown. When the meat starts to brown, add the veggies back in, along with the entire can of tomatoes. Bring this to a simmer, make sure all the meat is poked down into the sauce, and turn the heat to medium-low. Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the meat is cooked through, the veggies are tender, and the sauce has thickened slightly. Serve it up, over rice or pasta if you want, or on its own for a hearty grain-free meal. Top with grated cheese. Makes 2 generous, grain-free servings. Could probably stretch to 3-4 servings if served with rice or pasta.
This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.