Sweet Potato Knöpfli (Spätzle)


So what if you would add sweet potato to color and nutrify (like my new word?) the standard Spätzle? Besides being pretty and orange you would also have added nutrition, right? Although once you tired them, you’re not going to care about any of that, they are good freshly out of the water or like shown here, reheated in a skillet to add some crunch the next day. As I was re creating these (when I first made them and promised to have them up on the blog soon, I apparently was so exited that I forgot wholly and totally to write down the recipe 🙁 Soooo, I got to re-create them, and doing so I was wondering if it is a tad strange that this German-speaking lady does not have any recipe’s for the original version up on the blog yet? Something so quintessential as Knöpfli! You may know the little dumplings as Spätzle, but where I am from they are Knöpfli, little buttons 🙂 After reminiscing about this, maybe I will put how to go about making the originals on my list of things to do…



  • I medium sweet potato
  • 1 egg
  •  1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups flour
  • pinch of salt


  1. Bake the sweet potato in a 375º oven until cooked  and soft throughout when tested with the tip of a knife. Let cool slightly then cut it open and scrape the flesh into a bowl. Mash it with a fork and set aside to cool some more. (Do NOT microwave the sweet potato, baking will help remove some of the moisture making the result much drier, if your dough is too soft, it won’t stick together when boiling)
  2. Mix in the water, egg and salt and stir well to combine. Then add the flour, stirring gently starting with 1/2 cup. The resulting dough should be thick and only move slowly when you tilt the bowl. If necessary add the additional 1/4 cup of flour (This depends on the size of the sweet potato for one, but also on how humid or dry your kitchen is). Set aside for half an hour to let the dough rest.
  3. Set a pot of water to a boil. Get out a small wooden cutting board and rinse it off with cold water. Scoop about 1 cup of the dough (it should be thick and blob like, not runny) onto the board, holding it slightly tilted over the boiling water, and using the back of a flat knife, ‘cut’ slivers of it and slide off the board into the water. The Knöpfli should be roughly 1/4″ wide by 2″ to 3″ long.* Leave them in the boiling water until they swim to the surface. Skim them out using a wire mesh strainer or slotted spoon. Set aside to drain. Repeat process with remaining dough.
  4. Serve hot right away or heat some butter in a skillet and cook them until browned. (My favorite way)

*This is the old fashioned way of making them, you can also buy a special tool that allows you to make them much quicker and push the dough through what looks like a coarse grater.


Here with herbs in the dough and below after pan frying the next day

© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Mushroom Gruyère Tart


This past weekend I was on a mission to not go out and buy more, but use up all the odds and ends that can accumulate in your kitchen and fridge over the week. In my case that involved some mushrooms that were begging to be eaten and the large chunk of cheese that I bought and had not made much of a dent into looked like a contender as well. Add an open container of cottage cheese and you’re talking! And pie crust is always easy and cheap to make, you can even make a large portion ahead and freeze it for later.

And in the tradition of a true leftover dish, this can be made without the mushrooms, add some leftover steamed broccoli for example, Cheddar or other semi hard cheese can be substituted for the Gruyère. Play with it, it’s really easy to make something yummy if it is served in a pie crust. The result heats up well for lunch in a toaster oven or even as a light dinner with a side salad of spinach and pomegranate seeds. Ever since I discovered how easy it is to get to the seeds, I have been in love with the juicy little red things, when the weather gets colder, I know they will show back up in the stores soon 🙂

Also I am super sorry for still not posting the Sweet Potato Spatzle I promised a little while ago. Turns out I was so exited making them, that I never wrote the recipe down 🙁 So I will have to recreate them before I can share it with all of you. Not like I mind eating them again so soon, lol.image


  • 1 single pie crust I (preferably whole wheat and homemade)
  • 8 oz brown button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz Gruyère  cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (min 4% fat*)
  • 1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt

*using lower fat contend can make the result dry


  1. Heat  a little oil in a skillet, cook the onions until they start to become translucent, then add the mushrooms and salt. Cook until both the mushrooms and onions are soft, then add the balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In the meantime, heat the oven to 380ºF. Roll out pie crust and fill a pie or tart pan with the dough.
  3.  When the mushrooms are cooled down enough, add the eggs, grated cheese and cottage cheese (make sure you let the mixture cool down so the eggs don’t ‘cook’ when added) Stir well and fill into prepared crust. Smooth out the top.
  4. Bake in  the middle of the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until slightly browned and set in the center.


© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Grilled Pizza

With it being unseasonably warm again this past weekend, (as a disclaimer, I haven’t actually checked the average temperature this time a year, but somehow got used to the more frosty temperatures) I wanted to take advantage of my grill at least one more time. And, if you haven’t tried it before, pizza from the grill is the best! So following is a short tutorial on how to get the perfect Pizza off of the grill; and go ahead, have all the toppings you want!

This makes 2 pizzas, and serves four average sized appetites, however I have one time eaten a whole pizza in one sitting, not just a half, after a weekend out hiking and such. So I’d say depending on your level of activity.

    Ingredients, puffy pizza before flipping over, and toppings on ready to close the lid and let the magic happen!


  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups pizza sauce (store bought)
  • 1/4 lb to 1/2 lb Mozzarella cheese
  • Flour, to roll dough out on
  • Semolina or cornmeal, for dusting
  • Assorted toppings of choice, some suggestions:
  • Olives
  • Sliced ham
  • Red peppers
  • hot pepper flakes or sliced hot peppers
  • Salami, sliced
  • additional cheese (like Fontina, or blue cheese)
  • Capers! (I love capers 🙂 )
  • Oregano and basil
  • Anchovies
  • Pineapple


  1. Heat your grill to high/hot. 
  2. In the meantime, prepare all the ingredients so you have them ready and they can quickly  be put on the pizza. Set aside
  3. Divide the pizza dough into two balls, place one on a generously floured surface and roll out until very thin (less than a 1/8″), don’t worry if it gets odd shaped. Set aside on a sheet or pizza peel dusted with semolina or corn meal. Resist the urge to fold dough in half, it can get sticky quickly, I tried it, I know…
  4. When the grill has reached at least 400 F (You can get a thermometer for your home grill, but I have successfully made this over open fire while camping, it just needs to be hot), rub the grates using your grill thongs and a balled up paper towel with a little oil on it.
  5. Now you’re ready to start the pizza: Slide the rolled out dough, one piece at a time from the peel onto the grill grates, then close the lid and grill until slightly browned on the bottom. (They may become big and puffy as the water evaporates inside the dough due to the high heat. Don’t worry about that, just poke them with your spatula before you flip them over.)
  6. Flip the pizza, and quickly spread the sauce onto the dough, from the center out until about 1/2″ from the edge. Spread with Mozzarella, then top with any of your favorite toppings. ( You want to do this quickly to not lose too much of the built up heat inside the grill) Close the lid and finish cooking the second side until bottom is browned and crisp and the cheese is hot, bubbly and melted all the way. On a gas grill it might be necessary to turn the heat down a bit at this time.
  7. Slide off the grill onto pizza peel, and serve.


© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Harvest time or how to winterize your pantry

All the leaves are already past full color or already gone and I am enjoying the last couple of warm days ( presumably) until spring. It’s Fall and with Winter fastly approaching, I am going a bit into storage mode here. I guess yet another thing leftover in our system from long ago. But doesn’t the cold weather make you want to gather things too, stash them and store them up for the colder times coming? Winter IS coming. I feel like the guys from that HBO Series ‘game of thrones’ (I don’t have a TV, I got hooked on the books), if you’re watching that, you know the Starks of Winterfell, with their “winter is coming”. Crazy story, in that world they live in,  the seasons can last a lifetime, but just imagine once the tide is turning and you are facing Winter, and you don’t know for how many years? Gosh, makes you depressed and want to hibernate just thinking of it! I sure am glad we got four seasons, neatly coming around once a year, or thereabouts. Lately one wonders sometime, no?

In the last couple of weeks I made a yummy soup with the last couple of tomatoes from the garden, you know the rock hard green ones I saved from the hard frost the other week, now they finally made it to yellow and red and usable 🙂
But here’s what really convinced me its fall and getting colder, my saffron crocuses are blooming. Some days five or six others four at a time. Each little flower grows only three stigmas, and you have to hand pick and then dry them.   It takes 110,000–170,000 flowers or two football fields to gross one kilogram. No wonder this is the most expensive spice in the world! The average retail price is $1,000 per pound, or US$2,200 per kilogram. But boy is it awesome when you have that saffron risotto made with your very own hometown saffron! I don’t pluck the whole flower like in the picture below, I like having them bloom out there between all the fallen leaves.

 Kashmiri woman harvesting saffron flowersPart of my little harvest: dried on the left, fresh on the right

Please be aware that the saffron crocus is NOT your common garden crocus which bloom in the spring, that one is poisonous…

Other than that I have been busy preserving things for the colder months. I got a dehydration. Yeah, I finally broke down and bought one. So now i can dry apple slices and more…
I made mummy dries cinnamon apple and dried pineapple. Great for hiking. Weights nothing and tastes great!

imagePineapple dehydration is extremely useful when the pineapple isn’t as ripe as it looked at the store!


For the cinnamon apples, just slice thinly and sprinkle the apple slices with cinnamon before drying in the dehydrator in a single layer.


And I had to replenish my beans, as I ran out of black beans sometime before making the Santa Fe Chicken Soup and had to improvise with dark red kidney beans. Which by the way worked just fine 🙂

And of course I have been taking advantage of all the fall bounty in produce. With the shift to colder weather our bodies need different foods than in the summer. Cut back on cold salads, and reach for something warm, whether it’s a simple homemade vegetable soup,  braised brussels sprouts or a creamy soup, you need something warming and sustaining. Orange is the color of the season and sweet potato & co. are calling my name!

I have been enjoying Pumpkin Crêpes,  Pumpkin Cream Cheese stuffed French Toast, Apricot Pumpkin Muffins,  Kabocha Chowder and these Sweet Potato Spätzle, recipe will be up in the next couple of days, so check back soon!

© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Beans and how I cook them

imageSoaking the beans in plenty of water overnight is essential

With making most things from scratch, the question sooner or later arises: What about beans? As I have mentioned before, I do cook my own beans and then package them rather than buying cans. It’s first of all cheaper, then it’s also better for the planet and most likely much healthier for you, not only due to the sodium content in most canned varieties but due to the materials used in the can lining that have come under more and more scrutiny lately. And if that does not have you convinced to cook dried beans, maybe the fact that they just taste so much better will! And it is really not all that time consuming if you are organized about it. Yes, it is easier if you have a pressure cooker, like the one I brought back with me from Switzerland. Mine is a Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic, kinda like this one, but any good quality pressure cooker would make your life easier, not just for beans (Do NOT get the cheapo ones with the wiggly-rocking-weight-thingy balanced on top, not worth it)

imagethe next morning: after soaking

I usually cook a couple of pounds of beans in one day, depending on the size of your cooker (refer to the manufacturers guidelines) about a pound at a time. So yes, I will cook several batches, one after another and then store them in the freezer for an easy addition to soups and other meals. I know some resources say that you can cook the beans without soaking, or ‘quick soak’ them by letting them sit in boiling water, here’s my experience: You know all the things beans are supposed to do to you, the bad things why folks don’t want to eat beans? In my experience, the gentler you prepare the beans the less they cause you to have to forego your upcoming social appointments. 😉 That includes soaking them overnight, draining and rinsing them before putting them in the cooking pot and cooking over gentle heat. Yes, it takes a bit longer but the results are way worth it.

Trust me.

Have I ever led you astray? No? See!

image Finished Product: Black eyed peas

Here’s the way I like to do it. You need:

  • 1 lb dry beans, soaked overnight
  • water
  • snack sized zip top baggies (about 6-8 per pound)
  • 1 or 2 gallon sized freezer bag
  • pen for labeling

For most beans: 1 pound dried beans = 2  cups dried = 4 – 5 cups cooked beans= 3-4 cans of beans!

  • Rinse the dried beans in cold water, then to soak overnight place in a good-sized bowl (the beans will swell and get bigger as they soak up the water) and cover with cold water. You want them covered by at least two inches of water.
  • In the morning drain and rinse the beans, then put them in the cooking pot of your choice
  • Option A: Regular pot is fine, just cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil then reduce and simmer until tender, can take 1-2 hours depending on the variety.  
  • Options B (my preferred method): Pressure Cooker, (following manufacturers guidelines) For mine that means cover with about a finger’s width of fresh water, close the lid and place on the stove over medium heat. Slowly heat until the pressure valve gets up to the first red ring, turn heat to low and set your timer (*see below). 
  • After releasing the pressure from the cooker by running cold water over it, open and drain the cooked beans in a colander in your sink until cool, then package in snack sized zip top bags, and store 6 to 8 baggies in a gallon sized bag labelled with the type of bean and the date before putting in the freezer.

*Some of my favorites are listed below; with the times that I have found produce perfectly cooked beans (I will update as I add more species and specifics)

All ready to freeze, packaged in portions ( I could probably have let them cool a little longer,a s you can see there is condensation in the bags)

And please understand that every pressure cooker is different, the beans could be fresher or older, so you do need to experiment a little. A lot of times I can tell by the smell of the steam escaping the pot if they still smell ‘green’ and need more cooking. I pre-soak all of these beans, unless otherwise stated. I also find that letting the pot stand off the heat for a while before releasing the pressure by running cold water over the outsides and the top keeps the beans nicer. NEVER EVER try to open a cooker that is still under pressure, this could be highly dangerous as the water still boils inside the cooker long after it’s been removed from the fire! Also too drastic of a pressure change and they tend to burst, same when you cook them at too high a pressure, so stick with the first red ring. This is not an activity to watch TV next to. 

Type of bean: time at first red ring: standing time before releasing pressure:

  • Small Red: 4-5 minutes: 5 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top
  • Adzuki Beans: no soaking 5 minutes: 6 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top
  • Baby Lima: 5-7 minutes: 3 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top
  • Black Eyed Peas: 6-8 minutes: 4 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top
  • Cannellini Beans: 8 minutes: 4 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top
  • Black Beans: 9 minutes: 6 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top
  • Red Kidney Beans: 10-12 minutes: 6 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top
  • Pinto Beans: 10-12 minutes: 6 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top
  • Chick Peas: 10 minutes: 4 minutes: then run cold water over sides and top

Some tips:

*Buy beans at a place where they have a quick turnover. WHile they are dry and will keep a long time, quality will diminish over time, just like with anything else you eat. Buy your beans at a latin or indian grocer, folks that eat a lot of beans tend to not have them on the shelf as long.

* Don’t salt beans until they are cooked, or you are adding to the cooking time! (I usually forget in the end and just salt when using the beans)

*Do not mix beans from two packages bought at different times. Cooking time varies with how old and dry the beans are as well as by variety and a new bag plus one that just showed up in the back of your pantry could cook at different times leaving some beans hard and some mushy.


© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade

Gluten Free Pumpkin Crêpes

What better start could there be for a brisk fall day, than adding pumpkin to your crêpes on a Sunday any morning? And when you come back from running errands, your house still smells like pumpkin pie!

Make sure you keep these fairly thin as they tend to stay more moist than regular pancakes, too thick and the center will be more like pumpkin pie filling: namely dough-ey

These ‘crêpe-cakes’ were fine too. Any thicker though I have not had any luck with…

Serves 4


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 /2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup chick pea flour/ besan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice


  1. Mix all the dry ingredients, then add everything else
  2. Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat and quickly coat the inside with a bit of coconut oil, using a crumpled up paper towel.
  3. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the heated pan and tilt to coat the entire bottom of the skillet. Cook until bubbles show through and the batter stops looking shiny, then gently turn them over to cook the other side. (These are pretty delicate, so do make sure your skillet is non stick and cook them enough before attempting to flip over.)
  4. Repeat with the remaining batter, keeping the crêpes hot on a plate in the preheated oven or stick them in the toaster over (heat before, then turn off and put the plate in it)

© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade