Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Guest Blogger: Jessica from The Leaky B@@b

I am very excited for our 2nd guest blogger, I think she did an amazing job and want to thank her so much for all the amazing recipes that she has shared with us.

Jessica, you and I share a common cooking style as lately when I decide I want to make something I have never made before I will google it, glance over 4-5 recipes and then use those as a starting point to do my own thing.

<3 Christy

Squiggle Bug helping to make bread

I spend a lot of my time talking and writing about breastfeeding over on The Leaky B@@b.  So much time, in fact, that one might think it is the only thing I ever talk about or do.  Seeing as I have 5 little girls I homeschool, am writing for my other blog, and a few other projects and a job to maintain, I do in fact have other activities.  Since I can't breastfeed everyone in my family forever as their primary source of nutrition, I have to actually cook.  Thankfully, most of the time I actually like it.  Which is a good thing because I do a lot of it.  One of the cornerstones of my kitchen is having a batch of Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day basic bread dough ready to go in my fridge so I can pull a handful out to shape into a free-form loaf and hour before meal time and have fresh, warm bread with dinner.
You should know that I'm a bit of a creative spirit.  This greatly effects my cooking.  I read recipes like one would scan a menu from a restaurant to decide if they want to eat there; it's just to get an idea.  To me a recipe is a starting point, a springboard for ideas of culinary creativity.  I can probably count the number of times I've followed a recipe exactly on one hand and the number of times I've made the same recipe exactly the same way more than once without using any digits what-so-ever.  Given the time, resources, education and the people to share it with, I would probably be a foodie.  However, my primary audience to feed all happen to be in various stages of taste bud development and my time is seriously limited.  Selecting menu options that are time saving and flavorful but with options for those that are a little less developed in their taste is a crucial element to my time in the kitchen.  I'll share a day's worth of my favorites.

Artisan Bread

There is a little independent restaurant in the artsy part of the town I live in that makes the most delicious Frittatas.  After having my first taste of one several years ago I determined that I had to learn how to make one.  I did and it was true love.  Except I didn't love the time and attention it required.  Or the fact that my kidlets would rather eat plain scrambled eggs with toast.  Or cereal.  Having the food I make snubbed isn't a new thing, I'm used to it and try not to take it personally.  But I admit my feelings were hurt when the Frittata that I was so proud of and had spend a significant amount of time chopping, watching and seasoning was sneered at by my 5 year old.  Didn't she understand all the work that went into that thing?  Didn't she get that this was a culinary masterpiece being offered up as breakfast?  Nope. 
Slow-Cooker Breakfast Casserole

I had to find a way to get that taste without that time.  That's when I created this slow-cooker breakfast casserole recipe, a mish-mash of recipes and ideas.  Over time it has experienced a variety of incarnations, here I'll share one of my favorites, inspired by a lovely, warm dish I had in France.  This recipe requires a little more than just putting everything in the slow-cooker before bed but seeing as you make it after dinner and the steps aren't that involved it never seemed like a big deal to me.
The Swiss/French Slow-Cooker, Breakfast is ready when I Get-up
2.5-3 quart slow-cooker
8 large eggs
1/2 Cup milk
5-6 pieces of already cooked bacon, crumbled (I cook a bunch and freeze it and just pull out what I need).
1 Cup fresh broccoli (frozen works but defrost and drain first)
3-4 Medium potatoes, scrubbed and sliced an 1/8th of an inch thick (I leave the peel on but it's up to you)
3 green onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme (I often use fresh but I'm not sure how much, I just throw some in)
1 tsp dried rosemary (If using fresh I use one full sprig)
1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 Cup (about 1lb) shredded or thinly sliced Raclette or Gruyere, comte, or beaufort cheese. (Raclette is the best for this recipe but one of the Swiss style cheese is very good too.  This is not your average Swiss cheese, you can use Swiss but the flavor is much better with one of the 3 cheeses listed here)
Layer potatoes, bacon, broccoli and cheese in thin layers in the stoneware of your slow-cooker.  Saute garlic and onions together in just a bit of olive oil in a small skillet on the stove.  Whisk eggs, milk, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and the onions and garlic together.  Pour egg mixture into the slow-cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  When you get up in the morning, take the lid off to allow some of the moisture that built up over the night to evaporate, you may want to try to drain some of it off.  Cut up some strawberries or other fruit and keep it covered in the fridge for the night and wake up to a balanced breakfast ready to eat.  If you can program your coffee maker even better!

Morning snack

My girls get hungry far more often than I'm willing to make a meal so I'm often coming up with something for a mid-morning snack.  Unfortunately, they often ask for it 20 minutes after breakfast is all cleaned up which makes me a little crazy.  Seriously, I could spend all day in the kitchen and they'd be perfectly fine with it.  I'm not though.

We're not a nut intolerant house so we snack on the high protein treats often.  If nuts aren't a problem for you give these easy treats a try.  I usually make them when I'm doing other meal prep and let the food processor run, checking on it to scrap the sides.  Then I just keep it in the fridge, pulling off what I need to make the truffles.
Almond Truffle Balls
1 Cup raw almonds
1 Tablespoon peanut butter (we use an organic, freshly ground peanut butter but any should work)
In food processor (I use the mini unless I'm making a large batch) whiz the almonds and peanut butter until smooth, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.  When the almonds are completely ground, drizzle in some honey to sweeten and turn it into a paste.  It doesn't need a lot but I never measure, just drizzle it in to taste.  After it is smooth, turn it out onto a small plate and form into one large ball.  It's best if you can chill it for a bit before shaping balls.  Sometimes I just give each girls a globe of the dough on a little plate and let them roll their own balls, other times I shape them myself.  The girls enjoy shaping their own, eating half of their batch before it's ever even rolled.  These are really yummy with apple slices.

Healthy Snacks
I love it when I have left overs but that's not always the case and sometimes left overs are the last thing anyone wants.  In the event that I actually have to make lunch it has to be something I can pull off pretty fast.  The food processor and my slow-cooker are good friends of mine, I depend on them a lot in the kitchen.
Carrot Salad
3-4 large carrots
1 Diakon Radish (or other root vegetable like parsnip)
Bottle of Lite Goddess Dressing or your favorite of salad dressing or salad dressing recipe
1/2 Cup walnuts, chopped
Fresh spinach leaves
Shred or julienne the carrots and radish in the food processor after scrubbing them clean.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and add half a bottle of salad dressing or enough to coat it all well and mix.  Serve on a bed of fresh spinach topped with walnuts.
Usually we serve this with a sandwich or wrap.  One of my favorites is a tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat bread with hard boiled eggs, tomato, maybe some thinly slice artichoke hearts and kalamata olives.  Yum.
Afternoon snack

My kids eat a lot of fruit, we go through apples pretty fast and other fruits get consumed almost before I get them unloaded from the shopping bags.  I love that they eat a lot of fruit but I also want to be sure they get a good amount of protein and iron.  Since my kids absolutely love anything you dip a chip into, I looked for healthy options that would be more nutritious than most chip dips.  Black beans and spinach offer such a powerful nutritional punch that they are often in the meals I create but sometimes the girls get tired of them and they have a particular disdain for spinach if it shows up on their plates too often.  Sometimes I have to be a cooking ninja sneaking spinach and other veggies into our food.  I put this recipe on my personal blog ages ago, I'll share the half a batch version here.
Serious Iron On a Chip Dip or Black Bean and Spinach Hummus
- 1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed (or cooked dried beans- I do a batch once a month in the slow-cooker and keep them in the freezer separated in 16oz bags)- 2 cups or so of fresh baby spinach 
- 1 garlic clove minced (or 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder)
- 1/4 tbsp chili powder- 3 tbsp water- salt and pepper to taste- half a bunch of fresh parsley or 1 tbsp dried- 1/2 tbsp olive oil- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 green onion, chopped
Whiz beans and tahini in food processor gradually adding water. When beans are pretty smooth begin to add spinach one cup at a time. Add garlic, chili powder, parsley and salt and pepper. Serve with toasted bread, toasted tortillas, tortilla chips, carrot and celery sticks or whatever else strikes your fancy.  We put it on just about everything.  I've even used it as the base for sandwiches and wraps, spread the hummus, load on avocado, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce and whatever else sounds good.  Partnered with rice it is not only a high iron delight but also a complete protein.

The Piano Man, my husband, grew up in France.  In the last 15 years he has greatly educated me in terms of food and I eat things I would never have considered at one point in time.  Oddly enough, our daughters do too.  This humble French country meal is an absolute favorite in our family in spite of the fact that it is loaded with veggies I can't get my girls to eat any other way.  I have never made this meal, it is one of The Piano Man's specialties and I gladly hand over the kitchen for him to make it.
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 yellow summer squash (1 large or 2 small), chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 eggplants, peeled and cubed
8-10 Roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped (can use dried, about a tablespoon)
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, peppers, and garlic in a medium stock pot in olive oil.  When onions are translucent and the peppers are tender add remaining ingredients.  Simmer for at least 45 minutes, until all vegetables are soft.  This is a vegetable stew, it can simmer for quite a while.  This recipe also translates to the slow-cooker after sauteing the onion mixture.  The longer it cooks on low heat the better the flavor will be.

Ratatouille over Whole Wheat Pasta
Serve over rice, quinoa, potatoes, pasta or your choice carb selection.
Usually we serve this with a hearty loaf of French country style bread either store bought or homemade and a very green leafy lettuce salad with slice mushrooms, walnuts, dried blueberries and blue cheese crumbles.  Sometimes we'll add either a simply baked white fish or pan seared thick country sausage.  I like it plenty as a vegetarian meal but it's really good with the sausage too. 
We don't have dessert all the often though we do love some homemade crepes, brownies, or cookies from time to time.  At the end of a long day, for a little treat for myself sometimes The Piano Man and I will melt chocolate chips with a spoonful of peanut butter and dip pretzels, strawberries or graham crackers in it as an easy chocolate fondue type treat.  A little bit goes a long way in satiating that sweet tooth!
I have a few other recipes on my personal blog: Cabbage and Sausage Stew, Coconut Curry Chicken in the Slow-Cooker, and Butternut Squash Lasagna.  There is even a recipe on The Leaky B@@b for lactation cookies that everyone, lactating or not, will enjoy for dessert.
Bon Appetit!

*NOTE: All guest blogs still fall under our Review Challenge so feel free to try any (or all) of these and review them as well.


  1. I am drooling over this post! I have five tabs worth of recipes to look at. Thanks!

  2. Really nice guest post, nice receipts thanks moms!!!
    Lucky mom


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