Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

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With Spring arriving so early this year, my egg dyeing project will be so much easier! *dancing around in my kitchen* I remember a few years back, looking for anything that grew already outside, and short of some blades of grass I couldn’t find a thing. 🙁 But this year, even though it’s gotten cold again, I will be able to beautifully decorate my eggs, and naturally too, using items you could eat, well mostly (onion peels, anyone?), but nothing chemical or artificial. The colors we can make are just as beautiful, although not quite as bright or unnatural looking.

For this adventure, you will need some small leaves or flowers from outside. Clover, and fern leaves work well, as do wild violets. What you are looking for is anything small that will lie (mostly) flat, so a round, puffy flower like the pink one in ‘Horton hears a who‘ would not work well. If you are wondering, just what the heck is going on, it will all become clear soon, promise. You will also need some cheap stockings or pantyhose/tights, (or use the ones you were going to throw out, the ones with the toe hole, you know, some string and the ingredients for whatever color you choose to try!

This is how my Mom used to dye eggs with us, when we were little, and gathering the decorations outside is half the fun! And isn’t it awesome that you don’t have to worry about artificial colors getting into your eggs or tummy of your family members? What Easter traditions from when you were little do you remember and cherish?

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For the onion skin version you need to first decorate your eggs with the leaves you gathered (Making them a little wet helps the leaves stick better), holding the leaf in place, stretch the tights/pantyhose over the egg, pinning the leaf in place, twist on the opposing side or bottom of the egg (The part where the nylon crimps will not get colored evenly) and tie with some string. If you are using the red beets or the turmeric, hard boil the eggs before then decorate once cooled down.

imageAll the eggs with stockings on and ready for their bath 😉

The easiest and my favorite first:

Onion Skins = Sienna/Reddish Brown (12 o’clock):

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You need about 3 cups of dry onion skins. Surprisingly the red onion skins make pretty much the same color, so it doesn’t seem to matter which ones you use. Next year I will know not to eat red onions for a month to get red onion peels

    • To make the dye with onion skins: In a stainless saucepan, place a good 2 cups onions skins and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in a quart of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
    • Strain to remove onion skins and discard, and let dye cool to room temperature. (Don’t be fooled by the orange color.)
    • In a stainless saucepan, add the cooled strained dye and eggs at room temperature (up to 1 dozen). The eggs should be in one layer and covered by the dye.
    • Bring to a boil over medium heat. When boiling, reduce heat, and keep at a simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let eggs sit in the dye for an additional 2-3 minutes.
    • Dyeing time will be affected by the color of the eggs. Start checking for color at 12-15 minutes.
    • Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and cool on racks. The remove the stocking and leaves, rinse quickly and dry.
    • When they can be handled, you can coat them lightly with olive (or other edible) oil.
    • Refrigerate until ready to hide, or eat.

Turmeric = Yellow

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Yellow you can get from Turmeric, use 2 tbsp per quart of water, bring to a boil and stir until the turmeric is all dissolved, then add the already hard boiled eggs. Mine did not get as yellow as I have seen this get. But I had tried to make them blue before, using red cabbage (it’s supposed to work) the color however was rather disappointing, more of a very faint barely visible pale sky blue, even after a looooong time in the brew, no real color and no more patience, and off into the yellow they went. Since they were already hard boiled and I did not want them to become, I don’t know, dusty and dry, I made the whole thing less hot and that combined with the faint blue made them a nice juicy yellow with a hint of green. very spring-like 🙂

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Red Beets = Dusty Rose/Pinkish Color (on the left)

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This one was a tad unsatisfying. You know how beets stain everything staring with your hands, the cutting board and the kitchen back splash if you drop them? Well, I expected a bit more from this one… Instead of boiling the chopped beets in water, I decided that beet juice would be a fantastic substitute, but after 5 hours in the fridge, the eggs still only had a dusty rose color.

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The great thing about any of these natural colors is, that even if the egg cracks or the white takes on the color you dyed the egg, it’s perfectly fine to eat, since all the dyes are food material. Egg shells are porous and I am always concerned about the bright chemical colored eggs, and just how much of that might have gotten into the egg?

Overall I’d say onion skins give the most vibrant color and the best contrast. The turmeric would have been brighter yellow, had I either boiled the eggs in it ( I might try that next year) or at least had the ‘soup’ real hot to start. I might try the red cabbage again  too,  even if it is mainly because I don’t like being defeated, by cabbage. Maybe if I let the stuff sit overnight…

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Tomato Kale and Cheese Omelette

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Not much words, just quick food 🙂

For those mornings, or lunch time, when there is not much time, but you are hugely HUNGRY, (or you will be hungry later if you don’t knock something out quickly and run), and there is no time to make a big production.

You need:

  • a handful of grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • a scant cup cooked kale with garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 1″x 3″ pc of cheese, (the size of a pack of gum) I think I used asiago, but anything that melts would work
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

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How to make it happen

  1. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet
  2. Scramble the egg with the egg whites and pour into the heated skillet.
  3. Add the cooked kale, the tomatoes and add the chopped cheese over top, cover with a lid and cook until the top of the eggs are set and the cheese is melted. (About 3 minutes)
  4. Grind some black pepper over your omelette and serve

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Mango Cheesecake

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All Mangoes are not created equal.

What I am trying to get at here is, this is a very seasonal dish, not all mangoes will be up for the task at hand, and the kind you need for this cheesecake are not always readily available. First, the common grocery store variety, you know the big green and red ones are NOT going to work. I know. I speak from experience, I had to find out the hard way, as I happily agreed to bring a cheesecake to a good friend’s birthday party. Even blending cannot get rid of the stringy fibers inside that fruit and unless you’re a cat and you don’t mind getting hair between your teeth or you like getting hairballs…(And juuust on the off chance that you are, I bet your dinner guests might not )

The Mighty Mango, an infographic← Just to give you an idea, the Mango varieties out there are in the hundreds, if not thousands. Over 500 varieties are known in India, the largest producer of mango in the world.

Okay, so now that we know what not to do, let’s get to what you do need 😉 There’s a variety called Champagne or Ataulfo Mango, it’s smaller, flatter and oblong in shape and yellow. Indian grocers might be a good source, they also carry a shortcut item I’ll cover a bit later here. If you live in other parts of the world, you might be lucky and get your fingers on any number of varieties of tasty mangoes that would work, but in the US there seems to be not that much choice. So after you got yourself the perfect mango to make the cake, you will need to start the day before you want to eat this, since it requires to get chilled and set in the fridge overnight.

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Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 3 packets of cream cheese (8oz each), softened and brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar*
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pureed mango (from 4-5 Champagne Mangoes)*

*lazy version/or when the proper mango cannot be found: Get Kesar Mango pulp from an Indian Grocer, omit the sugar in the filling, since the canned Mango pulp is sweetened already. Works great and is less messy. Get 1 mango to decorate the top of the cake

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Butter a 9″ Ø Spring form pan.
  • To make the crust,  stir together crumbs and the 2 tbsp sugar. Add the melted butter and mix until evenly moistened. Then press crumb mixture into bottom of prepared pan (only bottom, not up the sides)

imageMake sure you pack the crumb crust down firmly. Push progressively more as the crust starts to hold together

  • Bake until set, 12 minutes, then cool completely
  • For filling, peel and chop mango, then blend until smooth
  • (If you turned off the oven and did this in two steps, preheat the oven to 325°F again.)
  • Mix softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until completely creamy and no little chunks remain.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition.
  • Add the mango puree, beat until well blended, then pour filling over crust into springform. Wrap bottom of springform pan in a layer of aluminum foil. Then bake until the edges are golden and puffed and the cake is set (it should only move very slightly when the pan is shaken gently, if the whole thing jiggles, it’s not set yet) about 1 hour and 25 minutes
  • Cool cake one hour. Refrigerate uncovered overnight.
  • Before serving, run a sharp thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen cake. Remove ring. Transfer cake to serving dish and garnish with additional sliced magoes

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Kale #1 with Golden Raisins

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Kale is one of my favorite no-brain vegetables. Not because it isn’t good for your brain or you, no, but because I find it’s so easy to make it yummy that there isn’t a whole lot of thinking involved in figuring out how to prepare it.

In case you’re doubting me on the healthiness of kale, here are some facts:

  • One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
  • Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K — and sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
  • Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.
  • In fact, researchers can now identify over 45 different flavonoids in kale. With kaempferol and quercetin heading the list, kale’s flavonoids combine both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits in way that gives kale a leading dietary role with respect to avoidance of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.

Now that’s quite a track record, don’t you think?

This time, I sweetened the deal with some golden raisins that I found hiding in my cupboard, it was just a little handful, had to be used up, as space can be at a premium around here, with all the different food things I want to try. And have you ever noticed how you can almost never find just enough for one meal, as in ‘just to try it’? Yep, so I end up with a whole box of this and a bag of that, barley couscous and mochiko (sweet rice flour) are prime examples of that. So using up and finishing up things always makes me feel good since I might get to try something else!

So simple, healthy and quick, here we go!

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Feeds 2 as a side (around here though, I have been known to polish off a bunch of kale by myself, so use your judgement)

Ingredients

  • 1tbs oil
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1-2 tbsp golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Strip the leaves off of the stem (discard hard stems) and tear into smaller pieces if necessary. Wash and spin dry using a salad spinner
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add the washed and torn kale leaves. Sprinkle some salt over top.
  3. Add water and raisins and cover with a lid (even if the lid does not fit down onto the pan, juts balance it atop the kale)
  4. Cook until the kale is soft and reduced in volume. 5-10 minutes. (This depends on the age of the kale plant: If you have fresh kale from your garden in the early spring, it will take a lot less than mid winter, kinda tough plants that overwintered in your garden)
  5. Add cider vinegar, cover and cook another minute or two, then uncover and finish cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Swiss Barley Soup (Bündner Gersten Suppe)

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Before winter is totally gone I wanted to make one of my favorite Swiss soups just oooone more time. This recipe is a traditional from the Kanton Graubünden, or Grison, the home of famous ski resorts such as Arosa, Davos and St.Moritz, a region that also hosts Switzerland’s fourth official language: Romansch (speak ‘romansh’ in english)

A very mountainous region in the eastern part of Switzerland (this is where Heidi in the original story is from, and no, she did not have blond tresses but black curly hair in the written story. Seriously, I’ve read it 😉

This region is also home to other yummy specialties, like ‘Tuorta da Nusch’ (Nut CAke or Tart) Bündner Fleisch (Air dried Beef that get’s sliced transparent thin), Pizokel and more… Now I am starting to get home sick 🙁

But back to today’s favorite: Soups. This one is a staple at most ski resort restaurants, and I would often have it for lunch, with a good slice of bread, what more do you need?  It’s hearty and filling and makes me think of home 🙂

I had to make mine a bit thicker so the picture would show something. But be careful it’s very easy to make this into a stew or even a solid-something. It doesn’t look like there is that much barley when you starts out, but it swells almost exponentially once cooked. The soup should end up being creamy-thick, if that’s a technical term. But not to the point where there is just barley, it’s  a soup after all.

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It can be made totally vegan, but I usually prefer to have a sausage of sorts with it. In ski resort mountaintop restaurants, this is usually one of the cheaper lunch choices and comes with one, sometimes two franks.

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Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1-2 Leeks, depending on size, white and light green parts only, cleaned and cut
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into rounds
  • (optional: 3 medium potatoes, diced)
  • 3 oz Speck (or pork belly, or salt pork, or thick cubed bacon), diced
  • 1 1/2 cups (or 1 can rinsed) dark red kidney beans
  • 4 cups Beef or vegetable broth
  • water
  • 1 cup milk or some cream to finish the soup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 Franks per person and some hearty crusty bread

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Directions

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large stock pot, add the onions and cook over medium until translucent, add the cubed speck or bacon, and cook until the onions are slightly browned
  2. Add barley and diced vegetables, stir to coat, then add the broth and about 2 cups of water
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered until barley is almost tender, adding additional water as needed.
  4. Add the beans and keep cooking until barley is tender but not falling apart.
  5. If you are going to have the Franks, add them to the soup at this time until they are heated through, or cook any other way you prefer.
  6. Season the soup with salt and pepper and stir in the milk or cream just before serving.
  7. (This soup can be frozen, in portions, before adding the milk or cream. To reheat, let it defrost in the fridge then heat stirring frequently, add the cream or milk just before serving.)

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Sourdough Starter

Making your own Sourdough Starter

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My starter when it was still a baby, just getting some little bubbles…

I have been on a mission to recreate one of my favorite breads of all times: Walliser Brot! It’s a dark dense 100% rye bread from Switzerland. Let me finish before you say, I don’t like rye bread: I don’t like any rye bread except this one myself 🙂 What is called Rye bread here is like Arizona compared to, I don’t know, Alaska, yes, that far apart. Most bread labeled rye in this part of the world contains some rye flour, lots of regular wheat flour and the part I think most people don’t appreciate: Carraway seeds. The one I long for does have none of that going on.

Well step number one in the recreation process is to get my hands on a sourdough starter, and not just any sourdough starter, but a Rye Sourdough starter.

Why not just use bakers yeast from the store? Well first, since ‘Walliser’ Bread (from the Swiss Kanton Wallis/Valais), where the river Rhône has its source technically now has an AOC (from controlled origin, kinda like Champagne can only be from the Champagne region in France hence we have Prosecco and terms like Sparkling Wine, Scotch from Scotland, etc) and the technical details advise it has to be 100% Rye, and to be made with Sourdough, and can only be called that if the Rye was grown in Valais (well, total fail on that one, for sure, but I am going to try my best to follow the rest, maybe without actually, officially calling it Walliser Brot, since as we now know, that would not be appropriate 😉

Secondly, Sourdough, is fascinating, and once you have it started much cheaper than buying yeast over and over, keeps the bread fresher and more moist for longer and due to the lactic acid that is produced during fermentation that bread won’t go stale or grow moldy nearly as quickly as yeast bread. It makes a great easy care pet, takes only about as much care as a plant once you got it well fed and going strong.

Below are some quotes I found that give a bit more detail on the health benefits of making bread with your own sourdough starter. You can make one, buy one or you can adopt one from a friend, that has one in the fridge.

“The history of bread making is a good example of the industrialization and standardization of a technique that was formerly empiric….It was simpler to replace natural leaven with brewer’s yeast. There are numerous practical advantages: the fermentation is more regular, more rapid, and the bread rises better. But the fermentation becomes mainly an alcoholic fermentation and the acidification is greatly lessened. The bread is less digestible, less tasty and spoils more easily”         Claude Aubert Les Aliments Fermentes Traditionnels

“Baking with natural leaven is in harmony with nature and maintains the integrity and nutrition of the cereal grains used… The process helps to increase and reinforce our body’s absorption of the cereal’s nutrients. Unlike yeasted bread that diminished, even destroy’s much of the grain’s nutritional value, naturally leavened bread does not stale and, as it ages, maintains its original moisture much longer. A Lot of that information was known pragmatically for centuries; and thus when yeast was first introduced in France at the court of Louis XIV in March 1668, because at that time the scientists already knew that the use of yeast would imperil the people’s health, it was strongly rejected. Today, yeast is used almost universally, without any testing; and the recent scientific evidence and clinical findings are confirming that ancient taboos with biochemical and bioelectronic valid proofs that wholly support that age-old common sense decision”.              Jacques DeLangre

Essentially you are propagating a living organism, bacteria and wild yeast that feed on the sugars found in the flour, giving off gas as they do so, hence the bubbles that leaven the bread. Since it is alive, you have to feed your new pet(s), but the nice thing is, they do everything slower at lower temperatures. So once established, you can keep it in the fridge and take it out to feed once every couple of days, once a week at the minimum.

The King Arthur Flour Website has some great info on how to revive a neglected starter, de-sour one that has gotten too sour (discard most and feed 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups water) and I think they also sell one (not rye though)

There are many recipe’s for this out there, and some make it sound like it is super complicated, also a lot of instructions have you discard half of the starter at every ‘feeding’ which I think is just wasteful.  I had a wheat sourdough that I ‘made’ at some point and I remember it took a while to get it going, but the one I made with rye, was up and ready in no time. Apparently rye ferments more readily. But there is luck involved and it might not always work, depending on the organism that lie dormant on the grain or happen to float through the air at the time. Time of year, temperature, all those variables come into play.

So let’s get started:

You will need: Whole grain, unbromated, unbleached Rye flour (you could use pumpernickel flour for some of the feedings), Water, Glass container to keep the starter, something to stir, tape and pen to mark the level so you can check how much it came up

Day 1:

    • 1/2 cup whole grain rye flour (or if you have a grain mill, grind some fresh)
    • 1/2 cup warm filtered water (try to avoid chlorine if you can)
    • Stir the flour and water together in a the glass container, cover loosely with a lid or plastic wrap and set aside (room temp!)

Day 2:

    • add 1/4 cup Rye flour, 1/4 cup luke warm water, place the tape on the outside of the glass, make a line where the ‘dough’ ends so you can check if anything is happening yet (on mine it did start to make bubbles)

Day 3 & after:

    • add another 1/4 cup rye flour, and 1/4 cup water, if nothing much happened (If it got very bubbly and then fell again, add 1/2 cup flour/1/4 cup water, your pet is hungry!) Remove the tape and re-position so the line marks the dough level again.

Your goal is to get the starter to double in size, with my starter, that now takes about 6 hours. So keep feeding once a day until the starter gets really bubbly. If you run out of space, remove half of the starter, discard and then feed flour to the rest. And if after 6 days still nothing happened, you might have to call it quits and try again at a later time, or ask around, someone might have one, they most likely will be able to give you a piece you can feed into your own starter.

imageActive and bubbly!

From the King Arthur Website: on Storing your sourdough starter:

Storing

Refrigerating – Once your sourdough starter is safely in the refrigerator, it will need a little attention, although once it’s cold and relatively dormant, it can survive quite a long time between “feedings.” It is certainly not as demanding as children or more traditional pets, but it won’t just sit for months on end like a packet of commercially dried yeast either.

Freezing – You may be able to ignore your starter for a month or even much longer, but if you know you’re going to be away for a time, you can store it, unlike children or pets, in the freezer. You may want to transfer it to a plastic container first since it will expand as it freezes.

When you are ready to use it again, give it a day to revive, feed it a good meal, give it another day to build up an armada of fresh, new wild siblings and it will be ready to go to work.

Drying – An alternative storage method is to dry your starter by spreading it out on a piece of heavy plastic wrap or waxed paper. Once it’s dry, crumble it up and put it in an airtight container. Store it someplace cool or, to be safe, in the freezer.

To reactivate the culture, place the dried starter in a mixture of flour and water as described in the first section. To help the dried chunks dissolve, you can grind them into smaller particles with a hand cranked grinder, a blender or a food processor before you add them to the flour/water mixture.

Walliser Roggenbrot (in French: Pain au Seigle) with the traditional cracks on the surface. Let’s see how well I will do…

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Raspberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Quick ‘Cake’

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This chewy little treat can be eaten as much as a quick breakfast, on those gray and cold days, where the snooze button is your BFF and your feet are deadly afraid of the cold floor outside the cozy covers. You could even try to tell yourself it is all healthy by serving it topped with some greek yogurt. Or you can just face the facts that everyone needs a treat sometime, morning or night, and enjoy it as a quick desert or snack bake anytime you need a ‘cheer me up’.  Very similar to the Snack Bakes shown here, it uses a ripe banana for sweetness, but I am splurging and adding white chocolate chips and some frozen raspberries that miraculously turned up in my freezer today 🙂 Isn’t is great when you find things you didn’t know you had? Like the $20 bill in the pocket of your winter coat when you take it out of ‘summernation’ (yes, I just made that up) in October

imageBecause heart-shaped things make me happy 🙂

Makes 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 really ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats*
  • 2 tbsp white chocolate chips,
  • 2 tbsp frozen raspberries * you can also use rolled quinoa or other rolled grains
  1. Grease 2 ramekins or other heat proof little bowls/forms
  2. In a larger bowl, mash the ripe banana with a fork, until it doesn’t look dry anymore.
  3.  Mix in the rolled oats, then add the chocolate chips and the frozen raspberries.
  4.  Divide among prepared ramekins, and microwave for 3-4 minutes, depending on the power of your device, until the top looks no longer moist and the sides pull away from the ramekin.  Like in the picture below. (Mine usually take 3 minutes)
  5. Let cool down before quickly eating all enjoying, whoever you are trying to hide these from will smell them anyway 😉

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You can flip it over on a plate to serve or just eat with a spoon right out of the bowl after you have given it enough time to cool down a bit.

My ‘sweet seduction’ speed cooking contribution is ready in under 10 minutes! That should be an incentive to enjoy life and have desert, even after a long day or week!

Blog-Event LXXV - Speed-Cooking (Einsendeschluss 15. März 2012)

This is my contribution to a blog event over in the German speaking world of food blogs. Every submission has to be prepared in under 30 minutes, or the time it takes the average pizza delivery to get to you. Here is the whole list of all the goodies that can be made super quick! This sweet treat is ultra quick, and I am hoping it will sweeten up many a tired after work meal!

Nachwort auf Deutsch: Leider hatte ich keine Zeit den ganzen Beitrag auf Deutsch zu = Übersetzen, hier nur kurz: Oatmeal/Rolled Oats= Haferflocken, eine ‘1/2 cup/ ist etwa ein Deciliter, white chocolate chips= weisse Schokolade, in kleine Stücke oder Würfelchen geschnitten. Ich hoffe das diese kleine süsse Verführung hier manchen langen Tag erträglicher macht, wenigstens im Rückblick oder aber da man schlauerweise geplant hat, von wegen transportfähig und so 🙂 Einfach einpacken und mitnehmen!

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

3 Pepper Bean Soup

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Some days it just has to be a quick and easy soup. I literally made this one in between answering emails and studying. Like many soups the active time is minimal and the result is totally worth it.

For me soups can be eaten any time of year and day, for that matter (I had this one for breakfast the other day and it was delicious, and yes, I know I am wierd). And usually the ingredient list goes by the content of my refrigerator and freezer in the colder months, my garden or the farmers market the rest of the year.

This particular recipe ends with kind of a ‘build your own’ option, a more brothy one with hearty chunks or a little thicker and more creamy option. Depending on the mood and/or the outside temperature you can vary it accordingly. Okay, you can’t go back from creamy to chunky, but it works the other way round. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

If you feel like it, you can add some cooked, shredded or diced chicken or beef.

imageIt’s very hard to take pretty soup pictures 🙁 the taste will have to make up for it

Ingredients

  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1-2 small Thai chili peppers (or other hot pepper), sliced thinly
  • 4 cups beef broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
  • 2 1/2 cups red beans, cooked, such as dark red kidney beans, or small red beans (if you don’t cook them and freeze them, from 2 cans)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt & freshly ground pepper to taste (I used 1 tsp, but the broth I used, has no salt in it)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • water, to thin the soup if it get’s too thick

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Directions

  1. In a large stock pot, heat up some oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook juts until it changes color to light golden
  2. Add bell pepper and hot pepper, cook 8 minutes or until onions are tender.
  3. Add broth and beans. (If using canned beans, rinse them before adding)
  4. Cook about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, then remove about 1 cups of the soup including beans, and puree, or mash the beans with a fork for a very chunky soup. If you want a thick and creamy soup, puree 2 cups.
  5. Add the cider vinegar and cook for another 2 minutes. (trust me on that one, it is essential)

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Happy to say that my Rye Sourdough seems to finally take off 🙂 More on that later though

imageCopyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Nut Filled Braid

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Turn your kitchen into a European Bakery. This ‘bread’ would traditionally be served as a snack with coffee, but of course you could have it for breakfast as well. I have also experimented with slicing and freezing parts of this for later, in convenient portion sizes, just defrost in the microwave and voilà! instant homemade treat to the envy of your surprise guests. Or of course just that afternoon coffee snack for yourself 🙂 Looks pretty AND tastes great!

imageDough rolled out ‘rectangular’, with filling. And roll it up…

imagecut with a sharp knife…

image... twist and set into your prepared cake pan

imageApples and Nuts and just a little sugar turn this bread into a breakfast anytime treat!

Ingredients

    • 2 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp coconut sugar, sucanat or sugar
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/2 stick butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
    • 1 1/2 cups ground nuts ( I usually use almonds or hazelnuts)
    • 3 tbsp sucanat or sugar
    • 1 md apple (if using the bagged kind, usually they are smaller, use two)
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 4-6 tbsp milk or cream

Directions

    1. To make the dough: In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, sugar, yeast and milk, stir until smooth. Let rest 2 hours in a warm spot until bubbly.
    2. Gently melt the butter, set aside to cool. Add remaining flour, egg, salt and cooled butter to large bowl. Stir from the middle, incorporating more and more flour, then knead the dough until smooth and elastic.
    3. Cover and place in a warm spot until doubled in size (You can also do this stage in the refrigerator overnight, it will take significantly longer for the dough to double in size)
    4. For the filing, grate the apple and add to a bowl with the ground nuts, sugar, milk or cream and lemon juice. Mix with a fork until uniformly moist (it should not be liquid)
    5. Roll out the dough into a 1/8″ thick rectangle, spread the filing on top, stopping 1″ from the edge.
    6. Roll up the dough lengthwise, then press ends to seal.
    7. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll all the way through and twist the two strands (with the cut side facing up) around each other.
    8. Place braided bread into a parchment paper lined cake form, let rest and rise for about half an hour.
    9. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 380°F.
    10. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until browned and baked through. (Tapping the bottom of the braid should sound hollow, you can also insert a tester to check if it is done)
    11. Let cool for half an hour on a cooling rack before cutting into and devouring.

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That made me hungry, I think I will go get myself a slice or two from my freezer stash… And then on to my sourdough experiment!

Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved

Chicken with Capers and Feta

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Part IV of the series: Chicken for every day of the week!

Look here for Part I and II & III

This time we travel to the islands of the Mediterranean. Sounds nice, what? Haha, no, it’s just a simple week day recipe that can be whipped up in no time. But it borrows greek flavors hence my mind wandered off to sunny shores and white washed houses against blue skies. To make your taste buds experience the same image, we’re using feta and capers, and slices of lemon, if you like. It just looks so pretty with it 🙂

imageServes two

Ingredients

  • 1 skinless boneless chicken breast half, pounded flat using a meat mallet
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 lemon,  thinly sliced (optional)

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Directions

  1. Season the flattened chicken breast with salt and pepper on both sides
  2. Heat some olive oil in a skillet
  3. Cook the chicken over medium high until browned on one side and starting to look opaque, then flip it over, crumble the feta cheese on top and ‘sprinkle’ with the capers. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook until the chicken is cooked through and browned on the second side.
  4. (If you are using the lemon slices, place on the chicken for about 2 minutes to heat up, best way is to add it just a little before the chicken is all the way done, and cover the pan back up)

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Copyright © 2012 Simple Healthy Homemade. All rights reserved