Beef Summer Sausage Recipe

Summer Sausage has always been a favorite finger food of mine during the holiday season.  I’ve tinkered with recipes before, but haven’t felt like I’ve nailed them – until now.

Folks, we can now eat Summer Sausage – worry freeHigh fives all around!  No MSG, no nitrites, no preservatives.  Actually, salt is a natural preservative, so I guess I can’t say “no preservatives.”  But the least of my worries is sea salt, especially when I use Redmond. That means that “summer sausage” and “good for you” can be used in the same sentence.  Yay!!!

I think you’ll be as excited about this recipe as I am.  It’s homemade beef summer sausage!!  You will not believe how crazy easy this is to make.

Homemade Beef Summer Sausage - Easy and Healthy!

Beef Summer Sausage

2 1/2 pounds hamburger meat
2 1/2 Tablespoons liquid smoke (I prefer Wright’s Brand)
1 Tablespoon sea salt (I prefer Redmond brand)
1 teaspoon sucanat
1 Tablespoon ground pepper
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon mustard seeds

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, squishing with your hands until everything is well combined.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Knead meat mixture, then shape into 2 logs, about 13×2 inches each.  I found that rolling them in parchment paper helped form a nice, round shape.  Place logs in baking dishes such as Pyrex 9×13 inch pans (so fat drippings will not spill over into the oven).  Bake in a 300° oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

To freeze Summer Sausage:  Allow baked summer sausage to cool completely.  Wrap in parchment paper, then with plastic wrap.  Place in a freezer bag, storing in freezer for up to 2 months.

As if it wasn’t already wonderful news that we can enjoy healthy summer sausage – it’s even better news that this will be perfect for your Make-Ahead Lunch Box.  I’ll be packing this for road trips, for sure.

Share with us!  What’s your favorite holiday finger food?

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The winner of our Deborah and Co. $50 gift certificate giveaway is:

Serenity Summers: lasummers@

Serenity, email me and I’ll forward your info on for your prize!

 

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Apple Nachos ~ Quick and Easy!

Apple Nachos - Easy!

There aren’t even words to describe this treat.  But not to worry.  I can always come up with plenty of words (just ask my family full of men).  Let me see if I can come up with something…

Simple, fast, deliciously sweet, a little bit tart, sticky, drippy, caramely, chocolaty, the perfect fall treat.  There.

If you’re questioning whether or not caramely is a word or not, I declare that it definitely is.  The dictionary just doesn’t know it yet.  Don’t trust everything you don’t read.  (I don’t get paid to make sense.)  I figure, if chocolaty is a word, caramely should be too.  Also, I like to say words that get my point across whether they are real or not.  So don’t get all grammary and English languagey on me.  After all, you really want to know how to make these Apple Nachos.

How to Make Apple Nachos

Slice apples and lay them on a plate.  If you like, you can sprinkle them with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.  Drizzle warm Homemade Caramel Sauce over the apple slices.  Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the warm caramel sauce.  Serve immediately.

The result is a chocolaty, caramely plate of amazingness.

apple nachos

I think we can all agree that caramely should be a real adjective found in the dictionary, as should the word soccery.  What?  I used that word just yesterday to describe how our front closet almost made me pass out.  I innocently opened the closet door to throw in a pair of shoes and was met with a blast of stink that is typical in our home during soccer season.  Sweaty shin guards and wet soccer cleats, along with all the other gear - ah, the lovely scent of autumn.  I threw in the shoes and quickly slammed the door closed proclaiming, “Whoa-oh, gag me.  It smells completely soccery in there.”  Why take time to say real words in full sentences like, “The inside of this closet appears to be thick with the aroma of unpleasant apparel associated with this particular sport season in which we are all participating.”

No.  It just smells soccery.  It’s as simple as that.  When basketball season comes, the closet will become basketbally.  That’s just the truth of it.

I’m suddenly very aware that this is a terrible thing to talk about when writing a food post.  I apologize.  Sometimes, I get a little too real lifey when I write, forgetting that good food and sweaty footware should never be discussed in the same conversation.  How terribly nonproper-ish of me.

I now take your attention back to the wonderful Apple Nachos idea, whose caramely goodness brought us all here to this unlikely point of conversation.  Make these Apple Nachos.  They’ll make us all use the word caramely so much that the dictionary will have no choice but to include it.

You heard it here first.

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Hot Chocolate Souffle ~ A Recipe That Just So Happens To Naturally Be Grain Free and Dairy Free

hot chocolate souffle 2

Elias, our 12 year old, is my cookbook buddy.  Just like me, he enjoys looking through new recipes, getting food ideas, looking at the food pictures.  He’s my right hand man when it comes to finding new recipe ideas to play with.

During our past few trips to the library, Elias and I have picked up different cookbooks to look through and get ideas from.  This Hot Chocolate Soufflé is one he found recently.  He liked the look of the dessert and figured we could adapt it with our healthier ingredients pretty easily.  Obviously, he cares so much about using healthier ingredients, just like all normal 12 year old boys.  Ha. Haha. Ha. Ha.  Well, at least he knows his mom cares, and he sort of understands why.  Really, all he was concerned about was that this recipe looked like a yummy chocolate dessert.  What else matters, right?

Here’s what’s fun about this Hot Chocolate Soufflé recipe:

  • It’s very easy to make
  • It only has 4 ingredients
  • It can be made for those who need to avoid gluten and/or dairy

Hot Chocolate Soufflé

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup sucanat powdered sugar
5 eggs, separated
pinch of sea salt

Separate eggs – whites and yolks – into two separate bowls.  Stir sucanat powdered sugar into the egg yolks until smooth.  In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate, stirring constantly and removing from heat immediately after chocolate has melted.  Stir melted chocolate into egg yolks and sucanat mixture.  Beat egg whites and sea salt until stiff peaks form.  Fold chocolate mixture into the egg whites until barely mixed.  Pour mixture into a 8×8 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes or until done through and through.

Grain Free, Dairy Free Hot Chocolate Souffle

These would be great for your Make-Ahead Lunch Box.  Also, I looked into where you can purchase allergy free dark chocolate chips.  Here’s what I found:

Do you like looking through cookbooks and recipes?  (Hope so – this site is full of ‘em!)

This post contains affiliate links.

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Fresh Peach Milkshakes

It’s story time, children.  Please sit down, criss-cross-applesauce, and listen quietly.

Once upon a time, there was a lady who got a new blender.  It wasn’t just any blender.  It was the blender of all blenders, the Blend-Tec blender that she’d been waiting patiently to purchase.

She was super excited to make a peach milkshake with the fresh peaches she had in her kitchen, and figured that reading all the fine print in the “blender handbook” would be a waste of time.  “How hard can it be?” she thought, “It’s just a blender.”

And so, the uninformed lady proceeded to fill the blender to the top with delicious whole milk, slices of fresh peach, maple syrup, and vanilla.  With excitement, she placed the lid on the blender and pushed the on button.

Before the lady could say “one Mississippi” the force within the blender sent the lid shooting right off the top.  With a shout that sounded something like, “Aaoourrhheeeewwryeeeoo!” the lady quickly smacked the off button.  But no matter.  Peach milkshake had been sent to the ceiling, to the floor, to the stack of mail beside the blender, to the casseroles sitting on the countertop, to the side of the refrigerator, to surfaces she found three days later, and I think it goes without saying, to the clothes, arms, legs, shoes, and hair of the befuddled lady.

She stood, quite shocked and motionless, for approximately 8 Mississippi’s, before calling in her 12 year old son.  With a chuckle, said 12 year old brought in the camera, as moments such as this should be documented and preserved forever in ones memory and computer picture file.

peach milkshakes 1

This picture does not do the situation justice.
“The lady” was covered, the rug was covered, everything was covered. 

Thus lunch-time was delayed, and the kitchen got a much needed scrubbing.  The lady soon smelled sour from being drenched with dairy product, and even though she changed her clothes before going to a soccer game, was surprised to find flecks of dried peach stuck to her knees and ankles during half time.

The moral of the story: Read the directions, do not overfill your blender, and do not be surprised to find crusty milkshake residue four feet away on the front of the silverware drawer next Friday.

The end.

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Everybody hungry for a Peach Milkshake now?  Below you’ll find a recipe, which only makes about 2 servings.  Trying to make 6 servings at once, no matter how large your blender, is a bad, bad, bad idea.  I’m still not quite over it.

Fresh Peach Milkshakes

2 cups whole milk
2 fresh peaches, sliced
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place ingredients in a blender, making sure the blender is only half-full, trust me on this one.  Place lid on the blender, plug it in, and give it a whirl until ingredients are well blended.

Fresh Peach Milkshake

Make this milkshake at your own risk.

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Coconut Fudge Bars

Whether it’s because I’m getting older or getting healthier, my body no longer handles sugar well.  This is a great problem to have, obviously.  I’m really quite grateful, as I used to eat wayyyyyyyy too much sugar.  But what is a chocolate lover to do when she has a chocolate craving?  Suck on a bar of unsweetened chocolate?  Mmmm, no.

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries to the rescue.  Also, last week I played with my Chewy Granola Bars recipe.  I used to make them with chocolate chips – but that obviously adds extra sugar.  This time, I came up with a dark chocolate variety that is only lightly sweet, super coconuty, and oh so chocolaty rich.

Coconut Fudge Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter or sunbutter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In a medium sized saucepan, melt together peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, and cocoa.  Remove from heat and stir in oats and coconut flakes.  Spread mixture into a 9×9 inch pan.  Chill for 2 hours before serving.  Makes 8-16 bars, depending on how big/small you cut them.

Coconut Fudge Bars

These store best in the fridge, otherwise they are melty and will get chocolate all over your hands and face.  If this is not a problem for you, by all means, store them on the countertop.  If you want to pack these in a lunch, I recommend wrapping them individually, freezing them, and sending a spoon or fork along to make them less messy for the consumer.  If having chocolate all over your child’s hands and face at school is not a problem for you, by all means, send them without a utensil.

These are super rich and only barely sweet.  Feel free to add more honey if you prefer.

So tell me:  Are you a dark chocolate fan?

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Orange Creamsicle Recipe

Did you like the Strawberry Creamsicle recipe I shared?  How about an Orange Creamsicle recipe to add some variety?  For that matter, you can sub just about any fruit you like to make creamsicles.  Such a refreshing treat!

Orange Creamsicle Recipe

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup (or about 10 drops liquid stevia)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds or 3-ounce cups.  If using 3-ounce cups, place a popsicle stick into the middle of each after these have been in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Freeze for about 2 hours before serving.  Makes about 12 small creamsicles.

Orange Creamsicles

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Strawberry Creamsicle Recipe

Strawberry Creamsicles in Muffin Tins

Tis the season to enjoy cold, sweet treats.  Tis the season to find refreshment in a frozen snack after a hard day of work or play.  Tis the season to drip syrupy red or blue food dye down the chin, staining the teeth, the tongue, and the swim shirt in the process.

No, wait.  Not that last one.  Let’s skip the food dye and syrupy fake sweetness of high fructose corn syrup, and instead enjoy a real food treat.  Although do feel free to let this Strawberry Creamsicle melt and drip down your chin.  After all, what’s summer without messy, sticky chins and swim suits?  Seriously, you should watch me eat a slice a watermelon.  It’s like I’m a three year old, slurping and grinning and ignoring the watermelon juice as it runs all the way down my neck while I stand at the kitchen sink taking bite after bite.  Hey, there’s no shame in enjoying a treat while ignoring the napkin.

Sometimes you just really don’t know what to say or do with the things I tell you about myself, do you?  Oh c’mon.  Live a little.  Grab some watermelon and make some Strawberry Creamsicles.  Grin and slurp.  Be a kid again.

Strawberry Creamsicles

2 cups frozen strawberries
2 cups whole milk (or coconut milk)
2 Tablespoons real maple syrup (or about 10 drops liquid stevia)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds or 3-ounce cups.  If using 3-ounce cups, place a popsicle stick into the middle of each.  Freeze for about 2 hours before serving.

Strawberry Creamsicles

Nothing fake – all natural sweetness, just perfect for a summer treat!  I can’t think of anything I’d rather have running down my chin.

#whoneedsnapkins  #lifestooshort  #grinandslurp

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Quick and Easy Crepes (and 8-Piece Pyrex Bowl Set With Lids Only $13.49!!)

Welcome to a typical crepe conversation with my children:

Boy: What’s for breakfast?
Mom: Crepes.
Boy:  Is that it?
Mom:  Isn’t that enough?
Boy:  I’m gonna still be hungry.
Mom:  What’s new?
Boy:  Can’t we have something else too?  I just don’t get full on grapes.

Every time.  You’d think I’d recognize the difficulty by now in hearing the difference between the words grape and crepe, but they rhyme and confuse the children.  Then they confuse the mother.  And then the entire conversation is confusing.

Crepes.  They are very different than grapes.  They are easy, filling, and very tasty.  My recipe has three simple, whole food ingredients.  Crepes make a great breakfast, lunch, snack, or light dinner.  We love crepes!  (And grapes.  But as I said before, we’re talking about crepes, not grapes.  Okedokee.)

Quick and Easy Crepes

Quick and Easy Crepes

6 eggs
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
100% fruit jelly

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream until well combined.  Pour about 1/4 cup of mixture into a well greased, hot skillet.  I find that medium/high heat works best.  Cook the crepe until it begins to bubble and thicken, then flip it to cook the reverse side until lightly browned.  Remove from heat.  Spread a little jelly on one flat side of the crepe, roll it up, and serve.  Repeat process until all crepes have been cooked.  Makes about 10 small crepes.

I usually double or triple this recipe to fill my family.  Yes, sometimes we actually go through 18 eggs in one sitting.  And sometimes we also eat grapes.  But not usually at the same time as crepes.  Although I should totally do that sometime – just to throw everyone off.  Hmmm….

What’s your favorite kind of crepe filling?

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Look what I just found this morning!  This super useful 8-piece Pyrex Bowl Set With Lids is only $13.49.  That’s an amazing price and I’m snatching it up.  I posted about it last time it was on sale but it got bought out before I got mine.  No guarantees on how long this price will last so grab it now!  This set is super useful for prepping and storing tossed salads, cole slaw, potato salad, fresh fruits and veggies – so many great ways to use these.  Click our Amazon Deals page to purchase.

pyrex bowls 2

 

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Easy Cheesy Bean Dip

Need an easy and filling lunch, dinner, or snack?

No Laura, what we actually need is a complicated recipe filled with weird ingredients that our family will hate.

Okay, fine.  The question above was rhetorical.  Did you know that sometimes I like to be sarcastic? (also rhetorical)

Well anyway, my family loves this recipe and I think yours will too.  It’s great to throw together at lunchtime and serve with organic corn chips and fresh fruit.  Or, you could smear this dip in a whole wheat tortilla and wrap it up to take on the go.  You could take it to serve at a party.  You could make it for a game night.  You could make it for a simple evening meal.  You could make it for breakfast.  Really?  Well, sure, if you really want to.  Would the breakfast police actually show up and arrest you for serving bean dip with your morning coffee?  Don’t answer that.  It’s rhetorical.

Easy Cheesy Bean Dip

Easy Cheesy Bean Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
4 cups refried beans
3 Tablespoons taco seasoning mix
3 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

Mix cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl.  Stir in refried beans and taco seasoning.  Spread mixture into a 9×13 inch baking pan.  Sprinkle cheese over the top.  Bake in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with organic corn chips and salsa if you like.

What are your favorite quick meals to serve?  (I’d like you to answer that question.  That one is not rhetorical.)

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Flourless Fudge Cookies

flourless_fudge_cookies_3

You can’t go wrong with a recipe that has the word “fudge” in its name.  These cookies are very easy to make and live up to their name.  Mmm, fudgy cookies.  Yes please.

Flourless Fudge Cookies

2 1/4 cups sucanat powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put 2 1/4 cups of sucanat into a blender.  Process until sugar has become powdered.  (Here is a post with picture tutorial showing you how easy this is!)  In a bowl, mix sucanat powdered sugar with the remaining ingredients.  Scoop teaspoon sized balls of batter onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (very important).  Bake in a 350° oven for 8-10 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool completely while on the cookie sheet.

If you bake them on a baking stone or try to remove them before they are completely cooled, you’ll end up with this:

flourless_fudge_cookies_2

See below, how the cookies sit patiently and cool on their parchment paper so that they will come off the pan nicely?

flourless_fudge_cookies_1
Ah yes, that is the way to do it.  These cookies are worth the wait!

flourless_fudge_cookies_4
Have you ever made your own powdered sugar with sucanat?  It’s very easy – and these cookies are a great way to experiment with that idea!

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