Screen-Free Week

I know you’ll miss me. I’ll miss you, too. But, screen-free week is an important time to attempt to break my internet addiction and spend time going to the library, playing dolls with my little girl, and maybe, just maybe, tackle the huge pile of winter clothes that I pulled out of everyone’s drawers this last week when 100 degree weather hit that is now living in the middle of my bedroom floor.

Don’t worry, there are great things to come: I’ll be back on May 4th to post at least one amazing Cinco de Mayo recipe…maybe two, maybe three…we’ll see. Plus, amazing snacks, like cheese filled soft baked pretzel bites! I just made them today while I was playing in the kitchen. Dang, they were good. I’ll post that recipe when I come back. Meanwhile…turn off your computer! Go cook with your kids, or write a love letter to your spouse, or a thank you card for your 4th grade teacher. Life is good…go live a little bit!

Have a great week!

Calabacitas con Crema (Zucchini with Cream)

There’s a song I learned in my 7th grade Spanish class. Here’s how I remember it (starting from the part I can recall): “cinco de mayo, seis de junio, siete de julio, San Fermin. La, La, La, La, La, La, La. Hien a roto la pagareta. La, La, La, La, La, La, La. Hien a roto la pagara.” I sang this for my Brother-in-law once, who is fluent in Spanish, and he looked at me like I was crazy. After messing around with google translate, I’m pretty sure “hien” should be “quien”, but I am still pretty sure somewhere since 7th grade, the song has become warped. We called this the “Smurf Song”…you can guess why. I still sing it today (incorrectly)…every time I hear the words “Cinco de Mayo”. I live in the American Southwest, so Cinco de Mayo is a pretty big deal. We eat Mexican food on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, but I still love to have a little themed dinner on May 5th, just for funsies. This particular dish is one of my favorites. It takes some prep, but it’s sooooo worth it. Plus, it’s fairly healthy to offset the refried beans, rich meat and stacks of tortillas that is normal Mexican fare. Try it for your Cinco de Mayo dinner this year! It’s perfect with soft tortillas, Garlic Pork Roast and Roasted Red Salsa.

CALABACITAS CON CREMA

2 ears of corn
1 large poblano chile
1 pound zucchini or mexican squash
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced into thin strips
2/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a cookie sheet, place 2 ears of corn, still in their husks and poblano chili. Place in the preheated oven. Cook for 30 minutes, turning chili as needed to get a nice blister on each side. The blacker the skin, the better. While corn and chile are cooking, dice zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss the zucchini in salt and place in a colander. Put the colander in a larger bowl or over the sink or a towel to catch drips. The salt will draw out moisture, which you want to drain off. Let sit for 30 minutes, then dry zucchini on paper towels. Sometimes I have gotten 1/2 cup of liquid, and sometimes only a few tablespoons. Either way, I’ve noticed a difference in the texture of the zucchini after it’s cooked. Cut onion into thin strips. When corn and chile are done cooking, allow to cool, about 15 minutes. Take a paper towel and rub the chile, removing the blistered skin. The blacker the skin, the easier it is to come off. You may want to wear disposable gloves while you do this, as chile oil does not wash off easily and you will be in pain if you touch your eyes after the chile. Pull off the cap on top and any seeds that come with it. Cut open on side of the chile and flatten it out. remove any seeds and discard. Slice the chile into thin strips. Remove the husk from the corn and cut the kernels off.

When the zucchini, chiles, onion and corn are all prepped and ready, Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. And the zucchini and fry, stirring frequently, until brown and just tender (cooked, but not mushy). Remove the zucchini to a plate, retaining as much oil and butter in the pan as possible. If the pan is dry, add another TBS of oil and wait for it to come up to heat before continuing. Add the corn, onion and chile to the pan and stir-fry until onions are soft and brown. Add the zucchini back in to the pan along with the cream. Heat until the cream glazes the vegetables. Remove from heat and serve immediately. If you don’t plan to serve immediately, after the veggies are cooked, combine with the zucchini and let rest. Right before serving, add cream and heat over medium until cream reduces to a glaze, about 3-5 minutes. This tastes best if made and served immediately, so I would suggest you do all the prep work beforehand, then leave this to be your last dish cooked.

printable version

Adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless.

 

This is all new to me…

So, I’m new to the blogger world. I’ve only been up a few months and I’m slowly getting the hang of things. I recently received a comment from http://modernchristianwoman.wordpress.com/ that I’ve been nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award. I really enjoy modernchristianwoman’s blog. It’s along the same lines as mine: from scratch, natural cooking. As for the award, I’m discovering a food blogging sub-culture, and awards like this are part of it. I’m humbled that someone found and chose my blog, being so new to the game, so: Thanks, modernchristianwoman! I don’t really know how to do this, and I’m pretty busy, so I don’t follow that many blogs, so I decided to nominate 10 blogs whose recipes I’ve made and love, or whose philosophy I agree with.

The rules of accepting this award are as follows:

  •  Thank the award giver(s) and link back to them in your post
  • – Share 7 things about yourself
  • – Pass this award along to 15 or 20 bloggers you read and admire
  • – Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award
Okay, seven things about myself:
  • I’m paranoid about sharing personal info freely on the internet, ever since the movie “The Net” with Sandra Bullock. So, I’m nervous about this activity, lol.
  • I’m currently in school after a looooooonnnnngggg hiatus. I’m finally finishing my Bachelor’s in Psychology, after dabbling in Music Ed, Business, and Creative Writing (Children’s Lit focus). I graduate in December. I plan to go to grad school after my littlest starts kinder. My current plan includes getting an EdS degree in School Psychology.
  • i am lazy and hate capitalizing, even though i’m a stickler for grammar and spelling…and i still type with the first two fingers of each hand…my hubby makes fun of me for it, but using all my fingers to type freaks me out thanks to my seventh grade typing class (long story). i can still type as fast as him with my tyrannosaurus rex method.
  • We are proud new owners of a sugar glider, who I am in love with.
  • I am a horrible housekeeper.
  • I sang for a ska band for a few months in my younger years, and was a guest vocalist for a local ska/punk band. When I watch The Voice, I have secret fantasies about being a rock star, though I wouldn’t give up my job of being a mom for any amount of money or fame.
  • I hesitate to add this one, but I think it’s important. I am an advocate of neurodiversity and strive to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. I especially advocate for those with mood disorders, and personally, I am cyclothymic, which is a very mild form of bipolar. Basically, I cycle through periods of low and high mood. Luckily, it doesn’t affect my life to the degree of those with full-blown bipolar, but it has taken me years to recognize the cycles and find mechanisms to help stabilize my cycles. (And, btw, food has a HUGE affect on moods…any readers who suffer from mood disorders can feel free to message me or comment here. I’m always happy to share my journey and support). An interesting book that touches on the benefits of bipolar, cyclothymia and hyperthymia is A First Rate Madness.
The blogs I am nominating are:
http://canningwithkids.com/blog/2011/11/inconvenient-food.html (btw, I LOVE this post…it is worth a read)

Bourbon Street Chicken (soy-free!!!)

I wanted to have a big, long, entertaining thread about the history of a dish called “Bourbon Street Chicken”. But, in my scouring of the “interwebs” I have discovered that this dish is basically a mythical one-eyed unicorn. By that, I mean that no one knows the history and no one even consents on the recipe. Generally, it’s a chicken dish made with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. People differ on whether Bourbon is a necessary ingredient. Some say it’s named after Bourbon because it’s made with it, others say it’s named after the street in New Orleans and bourbon is not an ingredient. Some say it’s a Chinese-American dish and some say it’s a Creole dish (I may be grossly ignorant of Creole cooking, but soy sauce+ginger+garlic says Asian to me). You’ll see it on menus at Chinese-American restaurants as well as various American restaurant chains. It varies in taste from a sweeter teriyaki flavor, to a sweet and spicy complexity.

I have been wanting to develop a series of asian-inspired dishes that are soy-free. A huge task, I know. Soy sauce is a staple in various dishes and there’s nothing conventional that really compares to the flavor. I thought that Bourbon Street Chicken would be a good recipe to try out my soy sauce substitutions, and boy was it!! This recipe is a winner. I have one son who is sensitive to soy and one son who loves Chinese food. They both loved this dish, although they said it was a little spicy. If your kids are sensitive to spicy foods, you can lower or eliminate the red pepper flakes, but I encourage you to make it with them for yourself sometime. It’s just not the same without that kick. I also opted to leave out the bourbon in this recipe. I think people are confusing Bourbon Chicken with Bourbon Street Chicken, and that the original recipe is without bourbon, but that’s just my guess.

BOURBON STREET CHICKEN

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into large chunks
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS cornstarch
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup beef stock
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TBS molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar (dark is preferable)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

In a large frying pan, heat oil. Add chicken and cook until brown and cooked through (no pink on the inside, but don’t overcook). Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and apple juice until smooth. Add in the remaining ingredients. When chicken is cooked, pour sauce onto chicken and stir until chicken is coated and sauce is thick. Remove from heat and serve with rice or quinoa.

REAL food alert: check your beef stock for msg or autolyzed yeast extract.
ALLERGY alert: if you are allergic to corn, simply eliminate the cornstarch and cook the sauce longer until it thickens.
MAKE AHEAD alert: You can make the sauce, minus the corn starch, and marinate the chicken in it. When you’re ready to make it, dump the whole thing in the pan and add the corn starch after the chicken is cooked. Be careful not to scorch the sauce, it’s high in sugar. You can also pre-make and freeze the sauce.

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak

I love that “Salisbury” seems to have a superfluous “I” and I always pronounce it “SAL-is-burr-ee” in my head, and feel very British. We crazy Americans probably pronounce it wrong. When I was little, every once in a while we would be treated with T.V. dinners…we’d all go to the store and pick out our own Banquet brand T.V. dinner. (Funny how tasteless processed food was a “treat” from my mom’s delicious homemade cooking). I always picked out the Salisbury Steak meal, complete with a side of bland macaroni and cheese and apple dessert.

I make a slow cooker meal every Sunday. I love walking in the door from church and being hit with a delicious aroma and knowing that dinner is will be on the table as soon as we set it. Maybe we should start setting the table before we leave for church to eliminate that extra 5 minutes. This Sunday I decided to create a salisbury steak recipe in the slow cooker, complete with a savory mushroom sauce. I tried it two ways: breading the patties and pan-searing them before adding them to the slow cooker, and just breading them and stacking them in the cooker. I found that the difference in flavor was negligible and there was virtually no difference in texture, because the nature of slow cooking ruined any crispness I gained from the pan searing. I figured in the end, skipping the step and added oil was worth it to me. I also used panko bread crumbs, which adds more texture than your typical mushy bread crumb. If you have two slow cookers (hard core, I know…) you can pre-make your mashed potatoes and put them in your second cooker on “warm” or “low” if you’re out of the house, and you come home to a complete meal if you just add a salad.

SLOW COOKER SALISBURY STEAK

2 pounds ground beef
2 TBS dried onion
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 cup panko bread crumbs
6 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups beef stock

In a bowl, mix together the ground beef, the dried onion and milk. Form into 8 patties. Dredge each patty in the the flour, then coat with bread crumbs. Stack in your slow cooker, alternating so they are not right on top of each other. Dump the raw mushrooms over the patties. In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for a few minutes until the mixture turns a light brown. Slowly add the beef broth 1/2 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue to cook over medium heat until thick. Pour over the mushrooms and patties. Cook on low 4 hours.

REAL food alert: check your beef stock for msg and autolyzed yeast extract.
ALLERGY alert: if you are allergic to dairy, gluten or wheat, skip making the roux with butter and flour, instead pour the beef stock into the pan and bring to a boil. Mix 3 TBS corn starch with 3 TBS cold water. Add to boiling stock and whisk until thick. Follow the recipe as directed. Also, substitute bread crumbs for a gluten-free bread crumb.

printable version

Sour Cream Blueberry Zucchini Bread

My daughter is a food hummer. Do you have one of those? My niece was one when she was little, too. These joyous kids enjoy their food so much they hum while eating. My curly-topped blondie can’t hold in her joy when eating yummy food. Yesterday I made this bread. I tried to convince her to eat a slice. She was hesitant, she’s weird about certain colors in her food, she wasn’t sure about the big blue blotches. After a while, she decided to give it a go. A few minutes latter I starting hearing a little hum. A cute little tune coming from the dining room. A few minutes later, she toddled over to me to express “Mommy! Yummmmmmm!”. Yep, she’s her mother’s daughter. She loves to express her joy over tasty food.

This tasty, moist bread is a great way to use your bumper crop of zucchini, it makes great gifts (teachers need some love!!) and freezes well.

SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY ZUCCHINI BREAD

2 eggs
2/3 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups zucchini, shredded
1 pint fresh blueberries, washed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 8×4 loaf pans. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Add sour cream. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until almost flour is almost incorporated. It will be thick. Add zucchini and blueberries. Stir by hand just until mixed. Split the batter between the two loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a knife entered near the center comes out clean. Cool in the loaf pans on a baking rack before removing from pans.

REAL food alert: Check your sour cream for additives. The ingredients should just be cream, or cream, milk and enzymes.

HEALTH alert: Make this healthier by subbing 2 cups of the flour for whole wheat. You can also choose a healthier sugar, like raw honey or agave, or a less-processed sugar, like succanat. Keep at least one cup of sugar a “dry” sugar, so sub up to one cup for honey or agave. Subbing the sugar or flour will result in a denser, heavier bread. You can substitute fat free sour cream, but notice the increase in additives.

printable version

 

Strawberry Mango Trifle

“Trifle” means something of little value. To me, “A Trifle” is of great value. Traditionally, this European dessert is layers of cake soaked in an alcohol of some kind, jam, custard and whipped cream. Of course, here in The States we’ve bastardized it. Anything that is layered cake (or even brownies or cookie chunks) with a pudding or whipped cream is called a “trifle”. We also tend to use fresh fruit in our “trifles” here in the U.S. But, hey, who cares if it’s traditional or not, whatever you call it (Capulet or Montague), it’s dang tasty, and the perfect dessert for warmer weather.

In this trifle, I avoided the alcohol, and instead use the natural juices from the strawberries and mangoes to drench the cake. Instead of custard I used a sweet lime cream cheese folded with whipped cream for a light filling that perfectly compliments the mangoes.

STRAWBERRY MANGO TRIFLE

4 large mangoes, chunked
2 cups strawberries, halved
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
8 ounces cream cheese
4 TBS fresh squeezed lime juice
1 angel food cake

In a large bowl, combine mangoes, strawberries and 2/3 cup sugar. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to create juices. Meanwhile, whip the cream until very thick. See this post if you need help on this part. Scrape whipped cream in to a separate bowl. In your mixer bowl, combine cream cheese, lime juice and 1/3 cup sugar. Whip until smooth and fluffy. Fold the whipping cream into the cream cheese mixture. Folding is a method where you softly and slowly cut through the mixture, and “fold” it over, until it is mixed. It allows the whipped cream to stay as fluffy as possible. If you stir it in, it will turn liquidy. Here is a good video that shows the method.

Cut or break your angel food cake into chunks. In a trifle dish or large bowl, lay down a layer of cake. Top that with fruit, then the cream mixture. Repeat. Be sure to include the juices with the fruit so it can soak down into the cake. Finish it off with the whipped cream mixture, and garnish with fresh fruit.

REAL food alert: A store bought angel food cake will be full of all sorts of additives, including chemical preservatives and artificial flavors. You may be able to buy a more natural one at a store like Trader Joes or Whole Foods. Making one yourself does take a special pan, and a bit of work, but they are SOOOO much better tasting. Eventually I’ll post a recipe. Meanwhile, try this one. Whipping Cream: check for additives and artificial flavors in your whipping cream. For more info, check out this post.

check out all that nice juice…mmm…

Technique Tuesday: Whipping Cream

When I was a little girl, I didn’t know cool whip existed. Every Thanksgiving, my mom would make fruit salad with whipped cream. I grew up knowing the tricks: chill the bowl, make sure it’s clean, etc. Nowadays, they add stabilizers to the cream we buy in the grocery store that helps it whip and stay whipped, but I still think knowing the old school tips is important to avoid a runny mess instead of billowing peaks of sweet cream.

First, when you go to the store to buy whipping cream, you’ll notice a few different types. There is “Whipping Cream” which is 30% butterfat. It will whip just fine if you use the tips I’ll share, but it takes longer, and doesn’t hold up as well in the fridge (like for leftover pumpkin pie). It tends to deflate and separate a little. But, it still works. Heavy Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream has a higher butterfat content. It whips easily and hold up better for longer lengths of time. You may see “Bavarian Style” Heavy Whipping Cream. This is Heavy whipping cream with added sugar and vanilla flavorings. You may also see a difference in pasteurization. Cream comes in pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized. The better choice is pasteurized. Ultra-pasteurized is not as stable once whipped, but can stay in your fridge for longer. Unless you plan to buy cream in bulk and store it in your fridge for many months, there is no reason to buy the ultra-pasteurized. Also, the normal pasteurized has better flavor and texture.

When it comes to whipping, it’s all about two things: cold and clean. Any oil in your bowl or on your beaters will impede the cream from whipping. Also, the colder your cream, bowl and beaters, the quicker the process. If you have a metal bowl, you can stick it in the fridge or freezer while prepping other food item to speed up the whipping process. It’s important to watch the cream while whipping. If you whip it too long, it turns to butter (yep, that’s what butter is, churned cream). If real whipped cream is new to you, understand that it is not sweetened (unless you get the bavarian style). You can add powdered sugar to it, a little at a time, while whipping, until it’s desired sweetness. You can also add honey or liquid extracts while whipping to flavor it.

On to the whipping!! Easy: pour it in a bowl, beat on highest speed until thick. Knowing what “thick” means is the trick, and comes with practice. Hopefully, my pictures will help you.

Pour cream into your bowl (clean and cold). Be sure you have a large bowl. Cream can up to quadruple it’s volume when whipped.

Turn your beaters onto the highest speed. Following are pictures taken at various stages:

At this point, you may think it’s done. Keep going until it looks like this:

See how strong the structure is? It piles up in little mounds, but isn’t butter (yet). That’s what you want it to look like.

Here is another view of how it looks on the beaters:

It’s thick, but still “drips” in it’s form.

The form is right, it’s mounding instead of dripping, but is still pretty soft.

See the difference in the thickness? It holds it’s shape, and doesn’t fall through the beaters. that’s what you want. The trick is to not keep going and make butter. If you do, throw some salt and honey in it and make cornbread for dinner!

 

Technique Tuesday: Cutting a Mango

We love mangos. They can be a pain in the tush to eat, though. You can peel them and gnaw the flesh off the seed while juice drips down your chin and fibers get stuck in your teeth. You can peel them and then attempt to slice the flesh off while it slips out of your hands over and over again and soon your counter top is awash is sticky orange goodness. How in the world do you eat these things?

First, info on mangoes: with all produce, you know if it’s good by smelling it. That’s what you hear all of the time. The problem is, in our crazy society, they refrigerate produce in order to extend its life and ship it to places it doesn’t grow. When I go to my grocery store to buy mangoes, they almost always are fairly cold and you can’t smell any scent coming off of them. That makes it difficult to find which ones are ripe and which ones are just bruised. First: color is not always an indicator of ripeness. It can be mostly green on the outside and still ripe. There are also different varieties that are different colors, from green and red, to orange and yellow. You want to avoid mangoes with blemishes or dark spots. Gently press and feel if it’s soft, but not mushy. That indicates a ripe mango. Mango season is summer, so try to make your mango dishes then, when the mangoes are the freshest.

On to the cutting! The mango is oblong. A long skinny seed runs most of the length of the mango, and it’s about 1/3- 1/4 of the width. Start by setting your mango on end on a cutting board. Cut through the skin and as close to the seed as you can (without nicking the seed), slicing off one side.

I tend to cut concave, not straight, to get as much of the flesh as possible. Next, do the same for the other side.

Now, take each half-moon side and score the flesh to the desired size. I like big chunks, but you can cut small dice size if you need to.

From here, I push the skin up (see pic) then use my fingers (but you can use a spoon, if you’re so inclined. I’m lazy and don’t like washing extra dishes) to dislodge the pieces from the skin. The last step is optional, and depends on your mango. Sometimes it’s not worth the effort, but there is still flesh attached to the seed, mostly along the sides where there is still skin attached.

To get that yummy goodness, first, cut through the last piece of skin and peel it off (like above). Then, slice off any remaining flesh from the seed. I tend to do this at an angle, so you’re not cutting chunks of seed off.

Repeat until you’ve cut off all of the flesh you can. The closer to the seed, the more fibrous the flesh is, so you can totally skip this step if you want. I don’t like to get too close to the seed, personally. I’ve also had mangoes that don’t have much left over. This one was very ripe and had plenty.

I would say that you’re done, but then I’d skip my husband’s favorite part of cutting mangoes: gnawing what’s left off the seed. We never throw the seed away until hubby or a kiddo gets their paws on it and chews every last fibrous piece off the pit. (I spared you that picture). Did I mention we love mangoes in our house?

Real-Food Remake: Celebration Potatoes (Funeral Potatoes)

There’s a recipe that has been used for generations in my family and the families of many that I know. They are called “Funeral Potatoes”. What a morose name.

They are called that presumably because they are a tradition dish made for luncheons served to the family at funerals. They are the ultimate comfort side dish, easy to make in bulk, filling and satisfying. Every family you know who makes this dish has their own twist. Some people add green onions, some people like bread crumbs or corn flakes on top. In our family, we not huge fans of green onions, and we like a simple cheese topping. The dish itself is basically grated potatoes and onions in a scalloped-potato style cream sauce and baked. Traditionally, the recipe calls for cream of chicken soup and sour cream. Simple.

However, some of us can’t (or won’t) have cream soups, which are absolutely horrible for you. When planning my Easter dinner, I really wanted funeral potatoes, which we typically only eat at my in-laws house, and decided I’d do a Real-Food Remake.

The first step in the tradition recipe is to use frozen hash browns. Frozen hash browns don’t turn color, thanks to an additive called disodium dihydorgen pyrophosphate. It is a chemical additive. Because we avoid chemicals, and because potatoes are dirt cheap (a little pun for your Monday Morning), I make hash browns from scratch. The trick to keeping them from turning colors is getting the excess starch off. After shredding them, put them in a colander and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. If you are grating them by hand, grate them straight into a colander under running cold water. You’ll see in the pictures that my hash browns are white as white can be, no brown or gray to be seen!

To replace the cream of chicken soup, I made my basic cream of chicken substitute sauce. You can use this sauce in absolutely any recipe that calls for a cream soup. I opted for sweet onion instead of the green, ’cause that’s how we roll. Then, I topped it off with cheese. You can use bread crumbs and dot it with butter if you’d like. This recipe is still full of dairy and definitely high on the fat content, but it’s still a step up from a chemical-filled traditional funeral potato recipe. Because of that, I changed the name to “Celebration Potatoes”. It kinda has a nice ring to it.  Forgive the non-professional looking pictures. My family was VERY patient to sit while I took quick pics of our Easter feast, and I left them in a tad too long, your cheese doesn’t have to be this brown. 🙂

CELEBRATION POTATOES

1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp seasoned salt (like season-all…a salt-free, msg free seasoning)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
4 TBS butter
6 TBS flour
2/3 cup sour cream
5-7 potatoes
1/2 sweet onion
1 cup cheddar or colby-jack cheese, grated

Mix the chicken stock, milk and seasonings in a bowl. In a sauce pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk quickly. It will be very thick. Cook the flour for one minute. Slowly add in the chicken stock mixture 1/2 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Make sure you whisk out the lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add in the sour cream.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare your potatoes, rinse, peel and grate them. Rinse them under cold water until the water runs clear. Lay them in a 9×13 pan. Grate the 1/2 sweet onion and mix together with the potatoes. Pour the sauce over and mix into the potato mixture. Top with a layer of cheese. Cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes, removing the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.

REAL FOOD ALERT: Check your grated cheese for additives, it’s better to grate your own. Check your sour cream. Always use a “natural” sour cream. Next time you’re at the store, compare the ingredients of the store brand sour cream and Daisy brand, or another natural version. The ingredients should be “Cream” and that’s all. Hash browns: frozen hash browns have chemical additives.

ALLERGY ALERT: to make gluten-free, eliminate the butter/flour step. Instead, put the broth mixture into the saucepan, bring to a boil. Mix 2 TBS cornstarch with 2 TBS cold water and add to boiling liquid. Stir until thick.