Friday, April 30, 2010

The Breakfast Burrito

My husband isn't very creative about breakfast when he's in a rush to go out the door for work. Many times he just runs out the door without eating anything - poor guy! Part of this is because he's lactose intolerant, which makes breakfast cereal not an option. (He's not a soy-milk-drinking kind of guy either.) Sometimes he eats leftovers if there are any that are quick and easy. I hate to see him go hungry, so awhile back I thought I'd make him some breakfast burritos and freeze them. They are perfect for breakfast on the go or even for lunch at work. Plus, I think they're cheaper than store-bought, and you can create them exactly how you like them without all the added junk in it like the store-bought kind. I just made a batch today and thought I'd share.

Breakfast Burritos

1 cup diced onions
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
8 eggs
1/4 cup water
salt & pepper
1 cup cooked meat (bacon, ground sausage, taco meat, etc.)
spices (oregano, cumin, thyme, basil - whatever kinds you like) (optional)
3/4 cup green or red salsa (optional)
1/2 - 1 cup grated cheese (optional)
10 medium tortillas (white, whole wheat, or make your own!)

In a medium-large skillet, sauté the onions and garlic in some olive oil until the onion is translucent. Scramble the eggs with the water in a large bowl. (Water steams the eggs during cooking to make them fluffier.) Add the sautéd onions and garlic, salt, pepper, cooked meat and a teaspoon of each kind of spice you like and scramble some more to combine. In the same medium-large skillet add some more olive oil or cooking spray or whatever and pour in the egg mixture. Cook on medium, stirring periodically until the eggs are cooked, but not dried out. Transfer the egg stuff to a large bowl. Add the salsa and cheese, if desired, (I even added a healthy dose of jalapeño sauce as my hubby likes spicy food!) and fold to combine well. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Take one burrito and put 2-3 large tablespoonfuls of the egg mixture in the center. Roll up the burrito and wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with the rest of the burritos and egg mixture. Place all into a gallon-sized freezer ziploc bag and freeze. (Save one to eat right away if you can't wait!) Yield should be about 10 burritos.

To eat, put one frozen, plastic-wrapped burrito in the microwave for 45-60 seconds. If you'd like, you can remove the plastic wrap first, just be sure to wrap the burrito in a paper towel and to put it on a plate before microwaving.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

King Corn

I know a lot of people are talking about the documentary "Food Inc.", which I saw last year, but I wanted to mention a lesser-known (at least to me) documentary that I found really interesting.
King Corn is about two college students who decide to grow an acre of corn and trace it through the agricultural system. They discover the plight of the American farmer and what corn does to cows, among other things. It was really interesting and well done. Look it up!

Homemade Rice-A-Roni

We are a big fan of Rice-A-Roni in this house, but I am not a big fan of the junk they put in it. So, when I found a recipe somewhere on the web (I don't remember where) for the homemade variety, you better believe I gave it a try! I was expecting something that tasted at least similar, but my rice-a-roni tasted exactly like the store kind, only better! (I served it with chicken and steamed broccoli.) I'm interested in finding a way to do the different varieties we like, especially the Spanish Rice one which we always add a can of black beans and a can of diced tomatoes to. Yum....

Homemade Rice-A-Roni

1/2 cup raw angel hair pasta broken into 1/2" long pices
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
2 cups broth (I use Swanson because it doesn't have MSG, but you can also use your own homemade kind!)
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4-1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
dash of pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 chicken bouillon cube (or you can use the Better Than Bouillon paste which doesn't have MSG or nitrates in it - I am in love with that stuff!)

In a medium skillet, sauté the broken pasta pieces and rice in the butter, stirring constantly until the pasta begins to brown. Carefully pour in broth, water, spices and bouillon cube. Cover and simmer on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Serve hot with your choice of veggies and chicken.

I took a whole package of the angel hair pasta and broke it up in advance so that when I make it in the future I don't have to sit there breaking up pasta for a dish that's supposed to be quick. I keep it in a quart mason jar. Sorry I don't have a picture of the actual rice-a-roni, but do try it. It's really tasty!


Red Onion Marmalade and Carrot Marmalade

My days have been really busy what with taking care of a toddler and 2-month old, making sure food doesn't go bad in the fridge, keeping the house clean and trying out new marmalade recipes. After being inspired by Suzanne's strawberry-lemon marmalade, making my own and loving it, I got out my Ball Blue Book to see what other marmalade recipes they had. I had an overabundance of carrots in my fridge, so the Carrot Marmalade looked really interesting. And I absolutely love red onions, so I thought a Red Onion Marmalade sounded like fun! So that is what I made today.

But curse the pectin, I don't know why my marmalades aren't setting! I've had bad luck with the strawberry-lemon and the carrot marmalades. I think it has to do with when the recipe has me add the pectin, because with my red onion marmalade (which is mostly jelly) it had me add the pectin at a different time and it's looking like it's going to set nicely. Or maybe I'm not boiling it long enough? Aack! I don't know. There is nothing more frustrating that runny jam. At least the carrot marmalade has so much carrot and lemon peel in it, the runniness isn't as noticeable.

Aren't the marmalades a pretty color? Runniness aside, they are both very delicious and I am looking forward to spreading them on some cranberry almond bread. Mmmm!

Carrot Marmalade
From Ball Blue Book with my adaptions.

1 cup + 2 Tbsp. grated lemon peel (use a tiny-holed grater)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups grated carrots (use a tiny-holed grater)
4 cups sugar
2 cups crushed pineapple, drained (I used canned pineapple and let it sit in a sieve over a bowl for 15 minutes)
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 pouch liquid pectin

Combine lemon peel, lemon juice, carrots, sugar, pineapple, allspice and nutmeg in a large sauce pot, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in liquid pectin. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Slowly stir marmalade 2 minutes. Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
Yield: about 6 half-pints

Red Onion Marmalade
From Ball Blue Book with my adaptions.

2 cups thinly sliced, halved, peeled red onions
1 cup finely chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 package powdered pectin
2 tsp. grated orange peel
3 cups bottled unsweetened apple juice
4 cups granulated sugar

Sauté onions, cranberries, brown sugar and cider vinegar in a skillet over medium heat, until onions are transparent. Combine onion mixture, powdered pectin, orange peel and apple juice in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add granulated sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
Yield: about 5 half-pints (I got 6 half-pints out of it.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beans Continued

So, I made my third batch of beans from scratch. I made pintos and they're rather bland. I just don't remember to add the salt until they're completely cooked and then if I add it (still haven't found the right amount!) when they're done I risk mushing up the beans. (Which is why you're not supposed to stir beans while they're cooking - the skins break off and they resemble more of a mush. I learned this the hard way with lentils.) Anyway, they're still perfectly edible. We just haven't had beans in awhile. I realized that I'm going to have to do something with them so they don't go bad. Which made me think of ways of preserving beans once they've been cooked.

I have thought about just canning the darn beans so I don't have to cook them all day. It's not that big a deal to cook them all day, but cans are just so much easier! The USDA does not recommend canning beans in a bath canner. They must be done in a pressure cooker. Here's the USDA recipe. I'm sure plain bean juice can be used instead if you want to have plain beans.

I also found a site that talks about freezing cooked beans, which is the route I'm going to take with this batch:

Speedy Pre-Soak

2 C dried beans (any variety)

6 C water

Wash and pick through the beans. Place beans and water in a large pan, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 or 3 minutes, stir, remove from heat, cover and let set for 1 hour. Drain, rinse, package, label and freeze.

My in-laws canned beans using dry beans and water and processing them in the pressure canner. It took a few tries to find the right ratio of beans and water. But, I think the results aren't as predictable as I'd like, so I think I'll try canning them when they're cooked. Oooh! Another canning project! :-)

Thanks, Karen, for your comment which prompted my bean search!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I am totally in love with making beans from scratch. They taste so fresh and filling! I've only ever made things with beans from a can. Those cans, unknowingly, turned into a crutch. There was just something so intimidating about those bags of dry beans. Everything I had heard made them sound so difficult to cook - they took forever, they tasted chalky if you didn't cook them enough... I don't know. I think I took every excuse I could get to avoid trying them myself. Besides, beans in cans are so easy! When I finally took the plunge I was floored with how easy and delicious the beans were! With every new thing I am learning to make from scratch myself, the more I feel empowered and less dependent on the grocery store.

Next project: homemade rice-a-roni. I'll let you know how it goes and post the recipe!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Organic Milk Commitment

I know how good organic grass-fed milk tastes. My first experience was when I worked at Wild Oats in Indianapolis, IN. A local organic dairy sold their milk at our store. I think I bought my first milk of theirs because it was in a cool, old-fashioned-type glass bottle. My first gulp was a revelation. The creamy coolness running down my throat tasted so clean and pure. It was what milk was supposed to taste like! How a girl who had always drunk regular store milk was able to know that is a mystery. I took another drink, savoring the creaminess (it only came in the whole variety) and... was that a hint of grass flavor? I swear I could taste the grass in the milk. They say that what a cow drinks affects the flavor of the milk. I totally believe that is true. It helps that my taste buds are really sensitive.

Well, I haven't had much organic milk since then. After such an earth-shattering experience you'd think I wouldn't have gone back to regular milk. The issue has always been price. And availability. I am a milk girl. I just need my milk. And organic milk is dang expensive! So I usually take what I can get.

Now that I have two kids, that first taste of the good stuff has been haunting me. I know it's better. It tastes better, and it's better for us and for the cows. I want to support good things like that. And so, I finally decided to make the organic (grass fed, non-ultra-pasteurized) milk commitment. At least for the stuff we drink. (I like to use powdered milk for cooking.) I'm not sure how firm this commitment will be. But I just got done drinking a half-mug of amazing organic grass-fed milk and it was just like I remember. It was the way milk is supposed to taste.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Morning Walks

Lately, with a new baby and a three-year old I haven't ventured outside much. I'm still learning to juggle 2 kids and going outside or on an errand is still an overwhelming task at times. This morning, though I saw that we had forgotten to put out the trash and before the garbage truck came I rushed to get the can outside. I stepped out in my pajamas and flip flops and... it was an amazingly beautiful spring day! I couldn't take it. As soon as the baby was fed, I packed the kids into the stroller and we went for a walk.

I had forgotten how wonderful morning walks can be - the cool breeze chilling our skin, the warm early sun shining in our faces and the air was filled with the sound of song birds. I can't remember the last time I've heard that sound. For some reason in Utah, there is a sad lack of song birds and I have really missed their unceasing, varied songs.

We walked through the neighborhood and I breathed deeply, the smell of new grass and wet dirt nearly making me cry. How long has it been since I have appreciated these little things? Too long. We wandered down new streets (pretty much every street around here is new to me) taking in the hodge-podge of bungalos in varying degrees of good repair and neglect. I had to laugh at one yard where the folks had cactus plants growing out of a pair of boots - there were two sets of these. You don't see cactus much outside of the west. (Although, I swear I saw wild cactus growing in southern Missouri and no one believes me.) I was also surprised to see so many "Beware of Dog" signs. Everyone around here must have a dog. Except me. But we won't go into that.

That walk was so spiritually rejuvenating but physically exhausting. Lack of walks combined with post-pregnancy has really caught up with me. I need to remember to go on more walks in the morning.

Not that I've been sitting around doing nothing. Just yesterday I had a picnic on our back porch with my kids. My son was eating a PB&J sandwich - with bread and jam that I had made myself! It gave me such supreme satisfaction to know I can do that. Yesterday I also made strawberry-lemon marmalade (YUM!) and today I bottled some lemon juice and made some strawberry jam. Hooray for strawberry sales!

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