2/17/15

chicken stew!




 Im still trying to wrap my head around the fact that it was 65 degrees two days ago, and now its below freezing with ice covering the ground. Like wha?? The weather in this area is just so crazy. I woke up this morning with an awful sore throat, so I started right off the bat with some elderberry and raw garlic. I then thought to myself..."hey I want to make soup for dinner tonight!" A nice flu/cold fighting soup with lots of yummy herbs and veggies. Now this sore throat could have  been caused by nothing more than the changing of the weather, but when you're a mom you just don't take any chances! The best way to fight any virus is to get on top of it ASAP- which is why Im so glad I made this soup. It was delicious and packed full of all the essential vitamins and minerals needed when fighting off an uninvited invader. So take that, Cold!! Between the elderberry and this soup, you just never stood a chance;)

Im gonna call this a chicken stew. It fits all the criteria for a stew, and ended up looking and tasting like one. Yeah, I just wing my recipes now so naming it before hand is almost impossible. I read along time ago about a virus fighting broth that pureed broth, garlic, and onions together. I added mushrooms to the mix, and it came out really creamy and frothy. It looked pretty and tasted divine. I then was thinking, okay this is more on the lines of a chicken mull. Chicken mull is a traditional southern dish that consists of parboiled whole chicken in a cream or milk based broth. Once I added the veggies, however, the broth cleared up and started looking like a traditional stew.

Ingredients
  • 1 8oz. jar chicken broth (I get mine from farmers market- the quality and taste is soooo much better!! I highly recommend. If you do buy store bought, you'll have to add a lot of seasoning)
  • 2 whole chicken legs (organic from whole foods-they were on sale!)
  • mushrooms (once again..you haven't had a mushroom unless you do local organic grown. the flavors are amazing.. another recommended farmer market buy. You just cant compete!)
  • onions
  • garlic
  • butter-kerrygold irish grassfed butter from both Kroger or whole foods.
  • basil
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • butternust squash




I started this dish off by pouring the jar of broth and chicken legs into the stockpot and putting it on medium-high for a good hour. After it was done it looked like this- Nice and dark, almost like a gravy. The seasonings you see on it is a little extra basil I added. Everything else was what already came in the delicious broth.

While waiting for your chicken broth to boil down, It is now the perfect time to prep the other components. This was the next step I did. I gathered a handful of mushrooms, sliced a half an onion (kept them Julienne style) , minced one clove of garlic, about a tbsp or more of kerrygold butter, and then a pinch of dried basil. Sautee all this goodness toghether until tender, then set aside.

mmm:) the mixture once it starts sautéing.

The next step would be to pull the chicken broth off the stove and get it ready for your mushroom mixture. I took a colander like this and set it on top of the stockpot. I pulled my chicken legs out and set them inside the colander to cool down- all while making sure I didnt lose any yummy juice! once cooled down, I started pulling the chicken off the bone. I had a separate bowl for my bones. (I will use them later to make a bone broth!) I then kept the meat in the colander, but took some of the skin off and threw it in the broth.

After cleaning the chicken and making sure I had some skin in my broth, I put it in my blender and added the sautéed mushroom mixture. I pureed it together. Please don't mind the dirty blender. Things can get messy sometimes in the kitchen!

After pureeing it, I poured it back in the pot. This is the result. Look at that creamy deliciousness!!:)


    Time for some veggies! what made me choose these three?  Its very simple- They are organic, and I thought they complimented each other well. Buying organic is the most important thing to me. I truly believe there is a difference. And believe it or not, it actually makes grocery shopping easier! Just buy whatever is available for the season that is organic, and then formulate a meal around that. Its what I usually do!

\yummy carrots. I peeled and chopped them like this. This was the only vegetable that actually went into the broth to cook until tender. Carrots are full of antioxadants, and beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A.

While the carrots are cooking in the broth, its best to start on the squash. Butternut squash is actually the hardest of them all to prep. The squash itself is hard, so be careful! I peeled, sliced in half, scooped the seeds out, then cubed, and roasted on a pan with butter on 400 for 35 minutes. I seriously love this vegetable. Its so healthy, and adds a little sweetness to the stew!
The last veggie was the Cauliflower. I didn't get a pic, so this one of Rob chowing down on a carrot will have to do. My carrots are never safe around him!:) I always with every meal strive to have at least one cruciferous vegetable, which was the cauliflower in this case. Cruciferous veggies are so beneficial to our health, however, 'over-doing it' can result in an upset gassy stomach, so be careful. It wont hurt you, but can make you feel a little unpleasant. I recommend looking up a list of cruciferous veggies to make sure you don't pair two together. I loved the cauliflower in this dish as it added a really nice potato texture, and made it seem even more like a real stew, just healthier!  I chopped and steamed the cauliflower for about 10 minutes on my stovetop until they were tender.

Once the cauliflower and roasted butternut squash was tender and ready, it was time to be added to the broth and carrots. I also added the meat that had been separated back in the earlier steps, and let everything simmer together for an extra 15 minutes. Now its time to season to taste! I use pure Himalayan salt (whole foods) pepper, a little cinnamon, and then maybe some dry basil here and there. Its really up to you and what you like. Just have fun with it!

I hope this recipe was somewhat easy to follow. I never use measurements for things like this, because I'm still learning, and I really just enjoy playing around. I encourage everyone to just get in the kitchen and do the same. I've had dishes turn out as complete flops, but I've also had dishes turn out fantastic! Either way, I'm always learning something, so its never a fail. Good luck and happy cooking!:)


Side Note: I served it with a side of toasted sourdough bread (another farmers market buy) and slathered it with butter and smashed avocado! yum!:)









2/15/15

Valentines Day Fun.




This Valentines was a special one. Family days like this have been a little hard to come by now that Im back in school. Even on those gorgeous days where we do get out, Im still on a bench off to the side somewhere finishing and reading assignments. blah. That has definitely been the hardest part about going back to school. Ive been so spoiled as a stay at home for two years, that trying to re-adjust to this new lifestyle has been a little daunting, both physically and emotionally. But God is good to me, and his grace has never been more visible in my life than it is right now. He has been doing some incredible things for our family, and no matter what he has planned for us, my heart will rejoice.. I have some huge decisions to make here soon that Im not quite ready to talk about. A precious opportunity has presented itself, and I kindly ask for prayers that God gives me more clarity on the right decision. My heart is just still a little torn.

Back to valentines day! Look at those cuties^^. Im so glad to call them mine!:) I decided on this day that I would put all books away, and focus completely on these two loves of my life. (oh and amos too!:)  Im so glad I did, because It totally helped me to see why Im even going back to school in the first place. I just love them with all my heart. Watching them play.. hearing them laugh...and even the temper tantrums are more enjoyable on wonderful days like this. And that's saying a lot...because little mans tantrums can get pretty ugly. A fellow mommy friend once asked if Rob turned into Oscar the grouch when he missed a nap like her kid. I said...Oscar the grouch? that's cute. Try hurricane Katrina!! haha! but for reals. were working on it! Despite the occasional tantrums, he actually is the kindest, most tender hearted soul to ever grace this earth. He cares so much about others, and has a natural desire to serve. He will come to your rescue in a heartbeat if you need it. I pray Im what it takes to guide and help shape those amazing qualities of his so that he can do great things for this world one day. A mother can only hope and pray. And then there's my husband. He has pretty bad tantrums too. (kidding kidding, hehe!) But his love for us two just amazes me everyday. Im so unbelievably blessed to say I have a husband who supports me the way this man does. I couldn't, without a doubt, even attaempt school if I didn't have him. The amount of love and support that is poured out by him during the times I need it most is unreal. Hes a good man. period.

Now.. for what we did! We started the day off at the farmers market in midtown. Seriously, if you haven't been you should. We buy all our meat and dairy there because its all local and organic. Oh...And like delicious. They serve fresh breakfast and all other kinds of goodies. I think I might just blog soon about what we actually get from there, because its just that good. Oh and they also occasionally bring their farm animals, so the kids just have a grand time. Unitl you pull them away, and then the infamous hurricane Katrina tantrum ensues. but oh well. :) After the farmers market we headed to overton square so Cal could try the new belly acres restaurant that Ive been raving about. We then played some corn hole in the square, then packed up and headed to the park. :) It was a stunningly gorgeous day that couldn't have been more perfect if we tried.

snippets from the day























2/9/15

Midtown Mondays!


   oh, how Im really loving Mondays right now. I decided last week to start a mini segment on my blog about local restaurants here in midtown. Basically, I find a new place every Monday to eat lunch at in between classes. What a horrible thing to blog about...gosh I just cant stand it;)  ha! yeah right. Yes, Im a health nut and I love to cook, but eating out is kind of important to our family as well. Cal and I love taking Rob to new places to try new things. Its a simple way to have family fun and make new traditions. My family grew up eating Chinese food after church every Sunday. Maybe not the most exciting thing, but gosh, us kids looked forward to it every week! And I can honestly say that eating food from a different culture, even if it was as simple as Chinese, helped us to be more adventurous with our food. Unfortunately back then, Chinese restaurants were using a lot of MSG in their meals, so we had to stop that tradition. (why you should look out for MSG, here)  Most Chinese places in our area have changed that. Thank goodness. Cause this girl still loves some Chinese food. But then again I just love food period!;)
                                                              
      Lafayettes!

My sister actually recommended this place. After looking them up online, I found out they were actually in Memphis in the 70's, and are just now making a re-appearance. Good for them!:) The food was delicious, and the restaurant itself was super clean and fresh. They host live bands, so cal and I will definitely be back to catch one. Were into that kind of thing:) If you are too, click here for a list of upcoming events. It might just be me, but I enjoy concerts way more when its paired with good food!



Now for the Good Stuff


Okay, so I feel bad for even posting that first pic. Definitely not healthy, but you best believe I ate it. In moderation of course :) And it was darn good. It was pimento cheese waffle fries with bacon. The good thing is that the flavors are so rich, you can only eat a couple bites and be satisfied. When restaurants don't offer healthy options, moderation is key! For my entrée, I tried to choose something that would offer a variety of nutrients to keep me satiated throughout my night classes. Pizza is such a good option, as it usually can have that nice variety of ingredients slathered nicely on some dough. As soon as I saw this breakfast pizza on the menu, I was in love. Im one of those who loves breakfast food, just not for breakfast. I could eat it every night for dinner! This bad boy had cheese, tomatos, an egg, and aragula. I was a little disappointed at the skimpy serving of arugula that was put on it, but oh well. Maybe it was just my guilty conscience for eating that appetizer above, because more arugula or no arugula, that pizza was divine. I think Ill still ask for extra arugula next time;)

I give this place a thumbs up. The food was clean and delicious, and the ambience was fantastic. Such a fun local hangout if that's your thing. So try it!:) And in the mean time, enjoy this random pic of me and my sis that was taken by a complete stranger. He totally stopped his car in the middle of traffic to get this for us. A man who knows the importance of documenting life. I like it. Midtown, your growing on me:)




2/2/15

Local Mondays


Belly Acres. 


I first heard of belly acres from some friends. They talked about how it was a farm to table restaurant, and I was like "no way!!"  If anyone should know anything about me, it would be that Im madly passionate about where my food comes from. I always prefer local over conventional. Especially when it comes to meat. Buying meat, eggs, and dairy from places like a farmers market is the best way to ensure you are getting true organic, high quality livestock. Im not actually sure how local their meat is. I tried researching what farm(s) they use, but couldn't find anything. I'll just have to ask next time I go in:) because I most definitely will be going back. Their motto is citified farm fresh, and all their burgers are labeled 100% grass fed beef- which is how I always prefer my beef.
 
We live in a world now where just eating fruits and veggies isn't good enough anymore. Our agricultural systems that mass produce our food have caused wide concern among many health experts and even environmentalist. Unfortunately quality of food has been trumped by quantity, and believe it or not, we are paying a high price for it: Our health. These burgers may seem expensive, but I promise the quality is what you are paying for, and its worth it. As an aspiring dietitian, I genuinely hope to make this concept more aware to people.
 
Now onto the good stuff!:) I ordered the early riser burger. It was a 100% grass-fed beef patty with melted cheese underneath a poached egg (runny- the best way to eat a poached egg!), and two pieces of bacon. All of this was on a sweet waffle. It was pretty tasty, and very satisfying! I have night classes on Mondays, and all these yummy animal fats were enough to sustain my energy, and keep me sharp-minded and focused. I could go into all the ways animal fats have been proven supremely beneficial, but I would much rather supply you guys with some articles and journals that go into the history of it, and the new research that has been done. click: Mindful foodie blog,   Dr. Mercola, and oxford journal-how the ideology of law fat conquered America. All of these are wonderful and short articles. I tried to pull three different ones from three different aspects; personal blog, a doctor, and history of the low fat fad from oxford journal. Based off these articles, and my own personal experience, I can honestly say fat is not the culprit. Sugar on the other hand....well that's another blog for another time. but yeah that stuff is pretty bad-mainly because its everywhere! yikes!
 
Now, go support your local businesses that are trying to do right by its people, and indulge in an open faced burger with delicious bacon. oh, and feel good about it!:)