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Deliciously Organic: October 2009

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Friday, October 30, 2009

And the Winner Is....

Congratulations Noelle!  Your name was drawn to receive the hand immersion blender from this week's give-away.  Please send me your address to: deliciouslyorganic [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash, Pomegranate, and Roquefort Salad

Recipes made on a whim are such fun, especially when friends and family pitch in. Yesterday I was at the grocery store with my girls and my oldest saw the butternut squash and asked, "Please, Mom, Please! Can we get one and roast it?" Well, how do you say no to a request like that, especially when she's requesting a vegetable? I looked at her and said, "OK, but how can we make it different this time? I don't want to just roast it." She saw a pomegranate picked it up and said, "How about a salad?" So technically, my daughter came up with this recipe, well, minus the Roquefort...that was my idea.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Pomegranate, and Roquefort Salad
When buying Roquefort (or any cheese), look for one that isn't pasteurized. This way the the healthy bacteria (pro-biotics) will still be intact which helps support your immune system and digestive tract.
Serves 4

2 cups butternut squash, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon rapadura (evaporated cane juice)
sea salt
5 ounces mixed baby greens
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons Roquefort, crumbled

1 teaspoon pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash with coconut oil, rapadura, and then season with sea salt. Spread in an even layer on a baking dish and cover with foil. Roast for 15 minutes and then remove foil. Roast for another 20 minutes until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl combine greens, pomegranate seeds, Roquefort and cooled squash. In a small bowl whisk together pomegranate juice, vinegar, olive oil and maple syrup. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Baby Butterball Chive Biscuits

While I was baking these biscuits today I could hear my husband teaching our daughters the rules of football. You see, my husband loves football, but unfortunately he married a girl that doesn't care for it much. I encourage him to watch and will even make him "game" food, but unfortunately the sound of the crowd cheering in the background always puts me to sleep. He realized early in our marriage that football wouldn't be something we would share and since it takes many, many hours each weekend to watch a game he, yes he, told me he would like to fold laundry during the games so he isn’t sitting on the couch for hours “getting nothing done.” So, every Saturday afternoon you will find me washing huge mounds of laundry and piling them up in the living room for him to fold during his Sunday game. Did I get a great guy or what?

Recently our daughters have shown an interest in watching football and Pete is thrilled. They are still trying to learn the rules, so there is lots of pausing to answer questions. Sometimes I can hear a bit of frustration in his voice (b/c he keeps getting interrupted over and over) but he told me the other day he looks at it as investing, and hopefully he will get one of the girls in our family to be his football buddy. I hope for his sake he does.

While the biscuits were coming out of the oven, Pete and the girls walked through the kitchen every once in a while popped a few warm biscuits in their mouth. There aren't many whole wheat recipes you can make in less than 30 minutes. When I made these the other night, I am embarrassed to say that we ate the entire two pans! (In case you're wondering, that is about 50 biscuits. And yes, I was working hard in the gym the next morning!) It's hard to stop eating them since they are so little and can easily be popped in your mouth. The biscuits are buttery, salty, and flaky with yummy bits of chives. They go perfectly with soup, in fact, I served them with the spicy black bean soup the other night. Come to think of it, they could make a great game food too, served overflowing in a bowl on the coffee table. A great alternative to chips and dip I’d say.

Baby Butterball Chive Biscuits
Yields 40-50 biscuits

2 1/4 cups freshly milled hard wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 sticks butter, cut into tablespoons
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chives, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor pulse together flour, baking powder and sea salt to combine. Add butter and pulse for 10 one second pulses. Pour mixture into large bowl and add sour cream and chives. With the back of a spatula, firmly fold the dough until it comes together and is slightly tacky.

Place dough on a floured surface and roll out until 3/4" thick. Use a small biscuit cutter to cut biscuits and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.

Tip: If you don’t want the mess of rolling out the dough on the counter you can use a small 1” ice cream scoop to scoop the dough right out of the bowl.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Spicy Black Bean Soup and Give-Away

I don't think there's anything else that can warm you up from the inside-out like this soup. The aroma of black bean soup epitomizes comfort for me. It's an incredibly nourishing dish that costs little, keeps in the fridge for several days, and also freezes well.

The easiest way to puree this soup is with an immersion blender.  Before I bought one of these, I use to ladle the soup in batches into the blender which left me with many more dishes to clean and drippings all over the counter. This small appliance streamlines the process and I thought it would be fun to give one away, especially since it's the beginning of soup season. The Cuisinart has been getting the best reviews, so I thought it only appropriate to give away the best. All you have to do is leave a comment to this post between today, Oct. 16th  and Thursday, Oct. 22rd. I'll draw a name at random and announce the winner next Friday, Oct. 23rd. Good luck!

Spicy Black Bean Soup
Serves 6

2 cups black beans, soaked overnight, then drained
8 cups beef stock
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic
1 heaping tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 bunch cilantro, plus 2-3 tablespoons more for garnish
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
1 bunch green onions chopped
sour cream

Combine beans, stock, tomatoes, paprika, onion powder, garlic, sea salt and tomato paste in large pot. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 3 hours. Add cilantro, jalapeño and green onions to soup and let simmer for 5 minutes. Using a hand immersion blender, blend until smooth, or transfer to a blender in batches and blend until smooth. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with cilantro.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Twice Baked Spinach Potatoes

Over the last few years I've been slowly teaching my kids how to cook. When I ask them if they would like to help, their faces light up, they run to get their aprons on (pink princess aprons, of course) and my youngest will run up to me and salute...not quite sure why, I think it has something to do with the fact that my husband is in the military. Lately I've enjoyed watching their enthusiasm and also their "methods" for doing things. Today I asked my oldest to cut up some crowns of broccoli into bite-size pieces. She began chopping away and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that she held each piece of broccoli up to her open mouth. I asked her what she was doing and she replied, “You said bite-size pieces, so I am holding them up to my mouth to make sure they will fit!” Well, yea, I guess that totally makes sense.

I am trying to give my kids more responsibilities in the kitchen and I've finally gotten them over the fear of the stove. My oldest can now make steel cut oats from scratch, quesadillas and a salad (with homemade dressing!). My youngest is our creative one and will spend an hour making the perfect sandwich for Pete to take to work. She will even write his name on the outside (with hearts and flowers). I've also noticed that they are really paying attention to what I am doing with my blog. They will plate their foods as pretty as they can and I'm embarrassed to admit, but my youngest daughter can style food better than I can! If you ever see a dramatic improvement in my food styling it will most likely be due to her.

A few days ago I walked into their room and they were making cupcakes out of play dough and plating them ever-so-nicely. They made me promise to post one of the pictures on my blog, so I'm staying true to my promise.

The recipe I am sharing today has been a staple of mine for years. When I had just given birth to our oldest daughter, my mom came for a few days to help and spent hours in the kitchen cooking up meals for Pete and I to put in the freezer. After she left I had enough food for an entire month! One thing she made for me was these twice baked spinach potatoes. She told me to just pop them in the oven 45 minutes before lunch and I can't tell you how many days I sat there with my newborn so thankful for these potatoes.

Twice Baked Spinach Potatoes
Serves 4

4 baking potatoes, cleaned and dried
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sour cream
6 cups spinach, cooked down and excess liquid squeezed out (or 1 package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400° F and adjust rack to middle position. Generously oil skins of potatoes with one tablespoon coconut oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Bake for about 1 hour, until soft. Cut small slice off the top of potato, scoop out the flesh and place in a large bowl. Arrange empty shells on a baking sheet and place back in oven while you prepare the remaining of the dish. Add butter, dill, milk, cream, pepper, salt, sour cream, spinach, and 1/4 cup of cheese. Mash together until combined and creamy. Remove shells from oven, turn oven to broil, and and spoon mixture into crisped shells. Top with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and broil until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

These freeze very well. To reheat, simply heat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 45-50 minutes.

This recipe is linked to Nourishing Gourmet's "Pennywise Platter"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spinach Pockets with Marinara

I love this time of year. Not necessarily because it's fall because of all the wonderful things to anticipate in the next few months. By now the kids are settled into their routines in school, the days are getting cooler and (one of my secret favorites) all of the holiday catalogs are starting to pile up in the mailbox. I especially love Tuesdays because for some reason this is "catalog" day and I can thumb through them and get ideas from all of the wonderful things the different companies have to offer. (my husband prefers the mail on Thursdays...Sports Illustrated)  My kids just bought their Halloween costumes; one will be a cat and the other a banana (certified organic, of course). I am anticipating the amazing annual halloween party our friends throw, the fires my husband builds in the back yard and having friends over for smores, smoking our annual turkey at Thanksgiving (it's a 12 hour event), the warming soups and hearty stews, greeting the kids on a rainy day with hot cocoa, getting to see family at Christmas, and all of the other little moments mixed in.

More than anything, I love having friends over for a hearty meal and sending them away with full bellies and hopefully warmed hearts. I love the laughter around the table especially when my husband gets into one of his "modes" and keeps me laughing until tears are streaming down my cheeks and I am begging him to stop. My friends usually laugh and jab me a bit when they come over and I tell them how "easy" the meal was to prepare. They usually say, "Right, Carrie. How can 15 steps and hours of labor be easy?" I totally see their point, I guess it's because the kitchen is my favorite spot in the house and being there in my apron, no matter how many hours I spend making a meal for someone is completely satisfying to me. I am trying to simplify a bit and make things that are truly "easy" to make. I came up with these rustic spinach pockets the other day and even though they take a little bit of work to make, they can be made in big batches, frozen, and then baked straight from the freezer. On a busy day, or on a day you are having friends over, pop these in the oven, make a big salad and a quick marinara sauce, pour some wine and you've got yourself one "easy" meal.

Spinach Pockets with Marinara
Please note that the dough needs to be mixed the night before and don't worry about making your dough look perfect;  the uneveness and rustic quality of the dough lets everyone know that it's homemade.  Make sure you use hard wheat flour, not soft or pastry, otherwise the dough will be too soft to work with.  The dough ingredients are from Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions. yeilds 8-10

Yogurt dough:

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 pound butter, softened
3 1/2 cups freshly milled, hard wheat flour
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

1 pound spinach
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper chopped
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
olive oil, to brush on top
sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
Italian seasoning
sea salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream yogurt and butter.  In a medium bowl, whisk together salt and flour.  Turn mixer on the lowest speed and slowly add flour/salt combination until just incorporated.  Turn mixer off and mix the last bits of flour in with a wooden spoon, or if you prefer, with your hands.  Cover and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook spinach for about 2-3 minutes or until wilted.  Pour spinach into a colander and squeeze excess juice out.  In a large bowl combine spinach, parmesan cheese, garlic, bell pepper, eggs, salt, and mozzarella.  Clear a large area on the counter and sprinkle flour on top.  Take about a 1/4 cup of dough (I just approximate and pull off a large chunk) and roll out to about a 9-inch round.  Place a scant 3 tablespoons of filling on one half of the dough round and fold dough in half.  Beginning on one side of the dough, place your index finger down on the dough and gently wrap bottom layer of dough over the top of your finger.  Press down to seal dough.  Continue this around the entire edge of the dough until entirely sealed.  Place pocket on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Repeat until all pockets are formed.  Brush each pocket with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

While pockets are baking pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into medium sauce pan.  Add garlic and cook over medium heat until sizzling (do not let brown).  Add 28 ounces of diced tomatoes, a few shakes of Italian seasoning, a teaspoon of sea salt and a small squirt of honey.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes until thick. Serve in small bowls alongside pockets.

To freeze, cover and place in freezer before baking. To bake add about 10 minutes on to the baking time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Festive Kitchen

Some of my fondest memories of working in my Mom's commercial kitchen, “The Festive Kitchen", was scooping cookie dough.  My Mom came up with this unbelievable chocolate chip cookie dough that she began selling in the local Sam's Clubs in Dallas and after their popularity went through the roof she decided to turn the front of her commercial kitchen into a store front and sold her cookie dough there.  I was in high school at the time, in need of some extra cash, so my Mom put me to work scooping dough.  Now, when you bake cookies at home, you have a nice little bowl of dough and you scoop.  Well, at a commercial kitchen the quantities are much larger. These bowls of dough, when dumped on the table were about 3 ft. by 2 ft!  So let's just say that my entire day would consist of scooping.  I even had calluses from the dough scooper!  Some of my favorite times were the conversations I would have with the others working in the kitchen while standing at a table scooping for hours on end.  One of the ladies who works for my Mom just scooped her millionth cookie dough ball last year!!

Last week was the grand opening of her new store in Richardson. Remember the little store front that she began at the front of her commercial kitchen?  That little store has now relocated and so her commercial kitchen is over 2500 sq. ft. and her location in Richardson is a darling store just a few blocks away.  If you live in the Dallas area or are passing through, make sure to check out one of her three locations (Dallas, Richardson and McKinney).  Now there is so much more than cookie dough.  There are hand-made gourmet salads, sides, appetizers, desserts, breads....the list goes on and on. Other than her cookie dough, she also sells her famous amazing chicken salad.  Last year they sold so much that the refrigerator door fell off the hinges!  So here's the plan, head to The Festive Kitchen, pick up some chicken salad (tell them Carrie sent you), head to the closest park (Turtle Creek is my favorite) and enjoy an incredibly delicious meal.

Photo taken by my brother, Luke Korem, with "Sixth Seal"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tiny Pecan Muffins

These are my all time favorite muffins.  Quick and easy to prepare and so delicious. They are rich and sweet, with lots of pecans.  It's like popping a tiny pecan pie in your mouth.  They make the sweetest house warming gift; wrapped in celophane with a ribbon on top. 

Tiny Pecan Muffins
These muffins freeze very well and are great for breakfast, brunch, a snack or dessert.  Yields: 24

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup muscovado sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease mini-muffin pan with coconut oil or line with muffin liners.  In a food processor pulse together flour and muscovado until all of the lumps are broken up.  Pour into a large bowl.  Add melted butter, vanilla and eggs.  Stir until combined and then add pecans.  Using a teaspoon divide batter evenly among cups.  Bake 11 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 3-4 minutes.  Turn pan over and thump the bottom to pop the muffins out of the pan. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Coconut Oil

If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time you've probably noticed that I cook with a lot of coconut oil. I began cooking with this oil several years ago when I learned about all of the health benefits it contains and the versatility it has to offer. Coconut oil is a very stable oil with a very high smoking point. When an oil reaches its smoking point, the oil breaks down and begins to create free radicals. Free radicals damage the cells of the body so, of course, you don't want to create them in the foods you prepare. Coconut oil is a medium fatty acid chain and so therefore the body does not store it as fat. MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) are immediately used in the body for energy. Another great benefit of coconut oil is that it is rich in lauric acid and also has very high anti-viral properties. It's fantastic to use when cold and flu season comes around. Whenever anyone in our home begins to feel the symptoms of the flu or a cold we take 3 tablespoons of coconut oil a day and it has knocked out whatever virus we have. My husband actually travels with a jar of it since it's a quick remedy when he starts to feel sick. (perfect for this time of year when the flu is such a big concern!)

I use coconut oil anytime I am sautéing above a medium heat or when I am roasting, grilling, or broiling. Olive oil is a very popular oil to use for sautéing and roasting but it is important to understand that it has a medium smoking point. So, if you use olive oil above a medium heat it will reach it's smoking point and oxidize thus turning it into something that is harmful for your body.

As there are different grades of olive oil, there are also different grades of coconut oil. It is important to find an oil that is extra virgin and also centrifuged. This ensures the least amount of processing and in the end a product that has the greatest health benefits. My favorite oil is from Wilderness Family Naturals.  I've been buying from them for years and have always been completely satisfied with their product.

When you purchase coconut oil it will either be a solid or a liquid. This is because coconut oil is a solid at 76 degrees and below and a liquid at 77 degrees and above. So don't be concerned if your oil goes back and forth between these two states because this is completely normal.

If you would like to read more about the research that has been done on coconut oil and more about its health benefits click here. Personally my favorite article is called, "The Oiling of America". It's a fascinating article about the oils we consume today and why we consume them. Personally I found this article as good as any spy novel, but then again, I'll stay up all night reading a book about the studies on cholesterol so that really isn't saying much.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gingerbread Pancakes

Oh my, I can't even tell you how good these are. I have always had an infatuation with gingerbread pancakes and the other day I finally got around to creating a whole wheat version. These pancakes are light and fluffy, filled with the wonderful flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. I like to cook mine so they are just a tad crispy on the edges and then smother them with melted butter and maple syrup. The smells of gingerbread filling your kitchen on a cool fall morning is one of the best ways I can think of to start your day.

Gingerbread Pancakes
This is a large recipe and can be easily cut in half. I always like to make big batches of pancakes and freeze them. On busy mornings heat your oven to 350 degrees and put the pancakes in the oven (you can do this while the oven is heating up) and leave the pancakes in there for about 20-25 minutes. Go get yourself ready for the day and when you come back, pull the pancakes out of the oven and you will have pancakes that taste as if you just cooked them on the griddle. (you also get the added benefit of the gingerbread aroma filling your kitchen) Serves 8-10.

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup muscovado (a dark and very rich brown sugar, you can find this at most grocery stores)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup brewed herbal coffee (such as teccino)
3 large eggs separated
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
coconut oil or butter for frying
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup maple syrup

In a large bowl mix egg whites and muscovado sugar until well combined. Add buttermilk, milk, and herbal coffee and stir to combine. Melt butter and whisk together with egg yolks in a small bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Add the yolk mixture to the buttermilk mixture and stir until combined. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and quickly whisk together until just combined. Let sit for about 5 minutes before cooking.

In a small pot heat butter and maple syrup over low heat. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat and then add a teaspoon or so of coconut oil to the pan. Add the batter, by ladle-fulls and cook until little bubbles appear on edges and middle of pancake. Flip and cook on the second side until golden brown and cooked through in the middle. Drizzle warm maple syrup and butter over top and serve immediately.

Tip: If you are serving a large amount of people and you want to make some of these ahead of time, fry them as noted above and then place pancakes on a cooling rack set over a cookie sheet. Put them in the oven heated to 170 or so degrees to keep them warm. The cooking rack will keep the pancakes from getting soggy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Simple Weeknight Chili

A few weeks ago we found out we are moving back to Southern California for a couple of years so my world has been spinning! My husband is in the Air Force so we have the opportunity to move every few years. Many friends laugh when I say "opportunity" but I think you just have to look at it that way. It's not the most fun uprooting every few years but given that I wouldn't be where I am today without all of the wonderful people that have been brought into my life because of our moves, I have to look at it as an opportunity. At least that's what I say on my good days....

I am looking forward to being in a place where I can find anything organic again (it’s been quite a chore here in FL).  Also, I can finally buy raw milk at the store instead of showing up on a certain day at co-op.  I asked my daughter if she was ok with the move and she replied, "Yep, I can't wait to go back to the big farmer's market!" Ahhh, a girl after my own heart.

With so many things to do, again I have been reaching for those quick meals.  The other night I streamlined my chili recipe so that I could put it together quickly and then just leave it on the stove until dinner.  Plus with the new coolness in the air (it's only 65, but hey, a girl will take what she can get) a warm bowl of chili has been the perfect ending to all of my chaotic days.

Simple Weeknight Chili
This chili  freezes very well. Just put it in an airtight container and it will keep in the freezer for about 2 months.  I used dried beans in my chili which I had to soak the night before...if you are in a pinch you can use organic canned kidney beans.  Make sure to rinse them well and decrease the amount of chicken broth to 3 1/2 cups and the cooking time will only be 45 minutes. Serves 6

1 yellow onion, minced
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 pounds ground beef
16 ounces diced tomatoes (you can also use 5-6 fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped)
5 cups chicken stock
2 cups kidney beans, soaked the night before and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 chopped avocado
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup raw cheddar cheese

In a large stockpot, over medium heat, sauté onion in coconut oil until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and chili powder and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the beef as it cooks. Add tomatoes, chicken stock, kidney beans, and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 3 hours until beans are soft and your whole house smells amazing.  Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with chopped tomatoes, avocado, sour cream and a bit of cheese.