Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recipe: Spicy Bruschetta

I can't even tell you why I made this dish originally. I don't really care for tomatoes, nor do I like making side dishes. Or even flavorings. (Mostly, I'm just lazy.)

Spicy Bruschetta on toast, with cheese
But when I made the first batch, I had so much of it and it was so spicy that I had to do something with it to get rid of it. I then discovered that this is the most perfect addition to most meals, and as the recipe has evolved over the years, I've grown more and more attached to it. 

I try to keep some in the fridge at all times now, and if I do run out, it's a really quick recipe to make.

Side dish, with stuffed peppers
Mixed into pasta, with goat cheese sauce
Vegetable soup, with mung beans

3-4 large tomatoes
2-3 medium red onions
4 tbsps olive oil
2  tbsps dried thyme
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
3 cloves of garlic, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the tomatoes and the red onions and add to a large mixing bowl. Add in the olive oil, garlic, and spices. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into an oven safe pan, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, stir the mixture, and then bake for another 15 minutes.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recipe: Fermented Potatoes

I am a huge fan of potatoes in all forms, and I think most people would agree with me. A few years ago I noticed that potatoes, again in all forms, began to upset my stomach and caused bloating. I was forced to limit my intake on that deliciousness.

However, I have found something that helps!

It's fermenting, of course.

(And no, we're not making vodka today.)

When you soak potatoes in salt water, you lower the starch in them considerably. You also lower the amount of acrylamide, which is a "heat reduced reaction between sugar (glucose, sucrose, and fuctose) and asparagine." This reaction causes the potatoes to brown, and also, just so you know, is a carcinogen. Fermenting can reduce the carginogen by up to 90% - you can read more about that here. (And on a more positive note, they're unlikely to burn in the oven!)

And apparently, the brine leftover is great for starching clothing, as reported over on the Pickl-It blog.

Of course, as you're typically going to be either baking or frying the potatoes, you'll lose a lot of the probiotic benefits due to the heat, but it will be easier to digest and you'll be less likely to have negative health risks so it's worth it.


Gently wash your fresh potatoes and cut them into the desired shape. As I was making french fries, I made sliced them, but you could leave them whole if you'd like.

Add your potatoes to your container.

Prepare a salt brine. I used a 2% brine. (If you're using unsure how much salt to use for your size container, the Probiotic Jar has an excellent chart at the bottom of this page.)

Add your salt brine to the container with the potatoes. Cover and let it sit for 1-3 days.

Once you're ready to use them, drain the potatoes from the brine and pat dry. Either fry or bake your potatoes, as you would normally.

I baked mine at 350 degress for 30 minutes. I then added a bit of Parmesan cheese and thyme for half. The other half just get my homemade ketchup. Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Recipe: Verde Sauce

I was first introduced to tomatillos a few years ago; before that I had never even heard of them!

In case you're new to them like me, tomatillos are small and green; they look sort of like tomatoes with a paper husk around them. If you're picking some up, make sure the husk is good quality, and make sure the tomatillo is firm when you give it a little squeeze.

Verde sauce is one of my favorite spicy sauces. It can be added to pretty much whatever you can think of in terms of meats, especially Mexican dishes, like enchiladas, etc - but sometimes I love to mix it with pasta and make a creamy pasta sauce.

This is pretty easy to make, and the recipe yields about 2 quarts of green sauce.

1 large onion, minced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, chopped
6 tomatillos, husked and quartered
1 bunch cilantro
1.5 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1.5 tsp cumin
4 cups water

olive oil

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat.

Saute onions until soft and lightly browned, about 3-6 minutes.

While onions and garlic are sauteing, combine tomatillos, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro in a blender. Process until smooth.

Add tomatillo mixture to onions. Add garlic, water, salt, pepper, and cumin.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down. Simmer for 45 minutes. 

Serve and enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Recipe: Perfect Drop Biscuits

I have been working on perfecting this biscuit recipe. Every weekend, I make a slightly different version, and then I force my friends and family to eat it and tell me what they think. It's really hard work, but it's worth it. 

The good news is that this recipe is amazing! It's a bit rich because of the butter, and I thought about cutting a bit of the butter out, but then I came to senses.

This biscuit recipe is perfectly fluffy and practically melts in your mouth. I want to write more words and wonderful adjectives to describe how happy you'll be when you place this in your mouth, but I think that sentence says it all.

I cannot vouch for the recipe if you use margarine, as I think the butter plays a huge role. I use grass fed butter and it's incredible, though I understand not everyone has access to such deliciousness.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsps baking powder
1.5 sticks (or 12 tbsps) of butter
1 egg
1 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) together in a large mixing bowl.

Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it in with your dry ingredients. I prefer to use my hands to gently knead the butter in. As it melts with the dry ingredients, it creates clumps of flour. You want the butter mostly mixed in, but some larger pieces are okay as well.

Add the egg and the milk and mix well. You should have a wet mixture, but it should still be able to hold its form.

Knead a few times. (I'm lazy and like to just squish it a bit in the bowl so that I know it's been mixed really well.)

With a spoon, get a heaping amount of dough and plop it into your oven-safe pan. (I LOVE cooking mine in cast iron.) The dough makes about 7-8 large biscuits.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


(And if you want to add goat cheese and honey blueberries and syrup like I did - go right ahead, it's delicious!)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Recipe: Honey and Blueberry Ferment

I belong to quite a few fermenting groups online. It's where I get a lot of my ideas, inspiration, and support. Last year I started seeing blueberries fermented in honey, and I have to be honest: I was not totally on board.

In fact, this year, when it seemed everyone was trying it out, I still was not impressed.

But then an excess of blueberries changed my mind.

Blueberries fermenting in honey is probably one of the best ferments I've done this year. At least, it's the best ferment so far in the "new" category.

I took a pretty terrible video one morning BUT you can see the amazing bubblies doing their work.

The blueberries remain crispy, but get a bit sweeter than normal. The honey mixes with the blueberries and you get this amazing syrup that I drizzled onto my biscuits - but you can also use it in salad dressing or beverages.

raw honey

Gently rinse your blueberries before putting them in your fermenting container. I don't know if you can tell, but I recycled a salsa container and used that. (After cleaning and sterilizing it, of course.)

After a layer or two of blueberries, grab a spoon and drizzle in the raw honey. It's much easier to get the mixture evenly spread if you layer the honey.

Continue layering with the blueberries and raw honey.

Do not fill all the way to the top! I mean, you can, of course, but it gets messy. Did you notice my jar in the video above was sitting inside another container? That's because the honey oozed out as it mixed with the blueberries. It was delicious, and a tasty treat every time I checked on my ferment, but I'd probably avoid losing so much next time.

Let the mixture sit out for about 3-5 days.

Taste as you go - the longer you leave the ferment out, the more alcoholic it becomes. Feel free to taste as you go. When you think they're perfect, stick them in the fridge for storage. 

Just a warning: the blueberries will rise to the top. It's okay that they're not covered all the time - don't even both trying to submerge them with weights. I would push the ones on top down every morning, and that's it.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Recipe: Homemade Deodorant/Antiperspirant (that Works!)

The very first "crunchy" skincare product I ever made was deodorant. My work contract had just ended and I didn't have anything lined up right after, which meant at least a week off of work, which was plenty of time to test out some homemade deodorant.

I'm not going to lie. I had an odor problem. And a sweating problem. My deodorant would last maybe an hour two, sometimes half a day. I used prescription strength. I even asked my doctor for botox injections in my armpits. He laughed and said no. (Jerk.) So I just carried anti-antiperspirant deodorant in my purse and re-applied whenever I could.

I was not excited to try out homemade deodorant, but I figured I'd give it a shot. And I only gave it a shot because another stinky sweater at Crunchy Betty, like myself, wrote a post about homemade deodorant being better than traditional deodorant. And not just better, but AMAZING.

So I tried it out one of her recipes. The first day I had to reapply mid-day. And after that? No problems whatsoever. I've never been stinky since. I've never had to reapply mid-day.

As for the awful underarm wetness I used to have, and I'm talking completely soaked and ultimately stained shirts, I've never had a problem with that either. I'm not saying there isn't some wetness. It's hard to avoid when it's 100 degrees outside, but I don't have underarm wetness just walking down the street anymore. I don't have to toss shirts. I don't have to worry about anything getting stained. I feel amazing.

And you can too!

Another note on this amazing concoction: I've always had rather rough feeling, generally bumpy armpits. I hated raising my hand if I wasn't wearing sleeves of some kind (and even then, I tended to avoid it because God knows what you could smell). After using my homemade version, I have silky smooth pits.

A quick word about rashes and bumps: They do happen, especially if you're allergic to the ingredients. I find that when I don't mix all of the ingredients as well I should, I'll get too much of a certain ingredient on my skin and it will cause problems. For example, too much coconut oil not mixed properly with arrowroot powder and baking soda causes my pores to clog. Too much baking soda in a clump causes my skin to turn red.

For me, I find it's easily avoidable as long as I mix well. I have also found that cornstarch (which can be substituted for arrowroot powder) is not something my skin likes and it gets sore and red and a layer will peel off. It's nasty. But I have no problems with the arrowroot powder so it's worth it to me to seek it out in stores or online and pay a little extra.

If you're new to the crunchy lifestyle, as I was, it can be a little expensive to buy your ingredients, but you'll have them on hand to make many, many batches and, if you do make other crunchy cosmetics and household items, you'll find that the items overlap.

So it's expensive at first, but really cheap if you stick with it. I think I paid $30 for the 3 ingredients, and I've only had to replace the coconut oil in two years, and that's because I use coconut oil all the time!

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
5 tablespoons coconut oil
5-10 drops essential oils (my favorite is lavender!)

Mix dry ingredients together.

If your coconut oil is solid, heat it on the stove until it's liquid. Add in the liquefied coconut oil. Add in the essential oils of your choice. Stir well.

For storage, you can keep this in a container and use an applicator to apply. I actually kept the last deodorant container I bought. I cleaned it, rinsed it out, and I pour my homemade deodorant into that so I can roll it on per usual.

Because this has coconut oil in it and coconut oil liquefies at room temperature (and way over - for those of us living without central air conditioning!), I keep my deodorant in the fridge. It's really easy to put it on in the morning when I'm getting ready for the day and I don't have to deal with a mess in the bathroom.

When I'm traveling and don't have access to a traveling fridge, I keep it in a small container and carry an applicator. It may sound complicated, but it's pretty simple and part of my routine now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Recipe: Summer Frittata

While I'm not typically a fan of eggs by themselves and egg-heavy food items like an omelette or certain types of quiche, I do really love a frittata in the summer time with lots of fresh produce.

Look at all the delicious summer squash!
In case you're not sure what exactly a frittata is, let me explain. (It's okay, I didn't know what they were until I read the French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook!) Essentially, you mix eggs with veg, cheese, meat, whatever you desire. You cook it a bit on the stove before popping it in the oven or under the broiler to finish.

A quiche, just for comparison, usually has a crust and some type of milk or cream added to the mix.

So to sum up: it's a quick, easy, and a delicious breakfast!

5 eggs
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
2 tbsps fresh parsley
5 stalks of kale, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper
olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan, grated

Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat with a fork.

Add the squash, kale,

goat cheese, and parsely. Stir to combine.

Heat the olive oil in an oven safe pan over medium heat. Preheat the broiler.

Add the mixture to the oven-safe pan. As the eggs cook, gently lift the edges up with a spatula and rotate the pan so that the uncooked eggs run underneath. Do this for the first 1-2 minutes, until the eggs begin to solidify. Once they have, cook for an additional 5-6 minutes until the eggs are set.

Cover the mixture in parmesan and place the pan under the broiler for 1-3 minutes. The eggs will puff up, and the cheese will melt and brown slightly.

Remove from the oven and enjoy!