Old-Fashioned Jam

Old-Fashioned Jam

'Tis the season for preserves. Between deals on fruit at the grocery store, fruit stands, and berry bushes on the property of anyone willing to let you pick them, there is plenty of sweet goodness going around right now. And despite the heat, I am determined to keep some of it to be available during the long winter months.

Wasn't That a Party?

Cake is something that doesn't make an appearance here very often, mostly because there is so little to redeem it, as far as nutrients are concerned. As a "recovering sugar addict", I generally don't need to have any more temptation around the house.

However, when birthdays come along, I ask the guest of honour what special dessert they would like to have. More often than not, it is chocolate cake.

Jabin, who turned six on the 21st, seemed to be having a difficult time making up his mind. DQ ice cream? Chocolate cake? Pie? He kept waffling back and forth. I felt bad for the little guy--such a big decision for an almost-six-year-old.

So, this time, I made an exception. On his actual birthday, which was a Monday, I took him and Noah to Dairy Queen for lunch, complete with an ice cream treat (for them) as dessert.

Then, for his party on the following Friday, I made Chocolate Gingerbread cake--served up with even more ice cream!

The Jabin was very pleased.

(And I even snuck in some nutrients, anyway, in the form of pumpkin. Want the recipe?)

I knew it! ;-D

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake
(Click to follow link to a PDF 4x6 recipe card.)

olive oil
1 c. butter, softened, divided
1 ¼ c. unpacked whole sugar
1/3 c. molasses
3 eggs
4 1-oz. squares semisweet chocolate
2 c. pureed cooked pumpkin (or 1 14-oz. can)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 c. unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. sea salt, ground fine
icing sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray or brush a large Bundt pan with olive oil. 
  2. In large mixing bowl, cream ¾ cup butter and sugar. Mix in molasses and then add eggs one at a time, mixing well. 
  3. Melt remaining butter with chocolate; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Blend chocolate mixture, pumpkin, and vanilla into the creamed mixture. 
  4. Combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Pour into a Bundt pan. 
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes before inverting on a cake plate and removing pan. Let cool completely, then dust with icing sugar; serve with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. 

Note: For a more subtle flavour, the molasses can be left out and the sugar increased to 1 ½ cups.

Copyright 2011 Talena Winters.

Mo' Soup?!

A smooth Red Lentil Soup with instructions for the crock pot or stove top method.

Chicken Poppyseed Rotini

Today, I started cooking up pasta for lunch around 11:30, thinking that we would have baked Macaroni and Cheese--always a sure-fire winner, and not too labour-intensive (a great combo for lunch on a homeschooling day).

However, as soon as I got the pasta in the water, I realized that we didn't have any milk or cream. Or tomato sauce. What can you do with pasta--other than toss it in butter or olive oil with salt and pepper (not so protein-filled) without the two basic sauce bases?

My handy-dandy little "Greatest Ever Pasta" book to the rescue. I used a recipe I had tried years ago and liked as inspiration for an impromptu pasta casserole. Saved by the butter again! (And leftover chicken.)

Chicken Poppyseed Rotini

Feeds 5-8 people

1 lb. brown rice rotini or other pasta shape
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3-4 tbsp.)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 cooked chicken breast (or more, if desired--I only had one), diced
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Pepper, to taste

Cook pasta as directed on the package. When it has about 5 minutes left, add peas to pasta water. Drain and rinse as usual when finished.

While pasta is cooking, melt butter and mustard together in a small saucepan. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for several minutes.

When pasta is finished and drained, combine all together in a serving bowl. Bon appetit!

I confess--I thought it was totally delish, but my kids only ate it because they were hungry and that was all there was. Jude was turned off by the mustard and the texture of the poppyseeds. I think Noah just thought it looked weird.

That's okay--all the more for me! Wheeeee!

Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwiches

I know my dad is going to cringe at this one. He can never resist reminding me that I have, in times past, combined peanut butter and dill pickles. (Dad! I have since heard of other people who do that exact same thing! I am not alone in my strangeness!)

I tried a new peanut butter combination last week that was a total hit with my kids! I put it in a sandwich, but it would also be delicious as a fruit dip with apple wedges. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwiches

Combine until smooth:

1/4 cup softened cream cheese
1/4 cup natural (peanuts-only, NO sugar!) peanut butter
2 tbsp. raw honey (soft)

Wash and core 2 apples with an apple corer, then thinly slice cross-wise. (Leaving the peels on greatly increases the vitamin content. Most of the vitamins in apples are just under and in the skin, especially vitamins A and C.) Spread peanut butter mix on sprouted-grain bread, then arrange apple slices.


Carrot Spice Muffins

Yet another recipe for the Quick Mix repertoire!

Carrot Spice Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins, or up to 36 small ones

3 c. Basic Quick Mix
¼ c. whole sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ c. chopped Crispy Pecans*
1 c. raisins or other dried fruit

2 eggs
¼ c. molasses
¼ c. extra virgin coconut oil or butter, melted**
1 ½ c. milk, buttermilk, or kefir
2 c. carrots, peeled and grated

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well to receive the liquid.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to mix. Pour into well. With a wooden spoon, stir just enough to moisten. Fill greased muffin cups ¾ full. (I love using a ¼ c. scoop to fill up my large muffin cups.) Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 20-25 minutes.

After removing from oven, let cool in pan for about 5 minutes, and then dump onto cooling rack.

*Crispy Pecan recipe can be found in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.

**NEVER use a microwave to melt your butter, or for any other reason—that is, unless you WANT to be part of the statistic about cancer being the leading cause of death… your choice!

©2010 Talena Winters

Fancy Turkey and Feta Casserole

Something a little tasty, and a little special, to use up those turkey leftovers.