June 16, 2015

Loaded Borscht

I’ve really been slacking on this blog lately. But tonight’s dinner drove me to my computer when I realized I’d never shared it ­čÖé It’s a favorite recipe around here. And it’s soup. So that’s saying something. This soup is incredible left to simmer away on the stove on a rainy afternoon. The house smells delicious!

I love borscht. Before I go any further, though, let me first say–I am not Russian… or Ukrainian… or any kind of Eastern European at all. This is not an authentic borscht recipe. I’d call it more a “borscht-inspired” recipe. It has all the basics–beets, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, dill–but done with my own spin. This recipe helps me get tons of veggies into my kids’ tummies with no complaints! So here you go.

Loaded Borscht
Makes about 4 quarts

1 lb ground pork, beef, or sausage crumbles

1/4 c butter or pastured bacon fat
2 diced onions
4 stalks of celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 c red wine

4 c good beef stock
8 c water
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2-3 beets, peeled, and grated or cut into thin matchsticks
beet greens/stems from the beets, finely shredded (if you have them)
2 potatoes, diced (you can substitute turnips, diced small, for lower carbs)
2 zucchini, diced
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper, thyme, and paprika (season generously!)

sour cream or plain yogurt (you can omit if dairy-free)
fresh dill, chopped

1. Brown meat in a large stockpot (at least 6 qt) over medium-high heat.
2. When meat is almost done, add butter, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute until veggies are tender.
3. Deglaze pot with wine.
4. Add next set of ingredients, bring to boil then reduce heat, and simmer until veggies are tender.
5. Serve with sour cream/yogurt and fresh dill.

Enjoy! ­čÖé

December 9, 2014

Monkey in the Middle

Judah: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

Me: “To get to the other side?”

Judah: “No, you have to say ‘I don’t know’.”

Me: “Ok, I don’t know.”

Judah: “Because he got runned over by a car.”

Me: “That’s terrible!”

Judah: “I better change into Superman and go save him. ┬áAnd take him back to the farm. ┬áWhy did the cow cross the road?”

October 13, 2014

Working with what’s in my pantry!

It’s been awhile since I posted. ┬áTime to rectify that with a new recipe that is going in my “make again” list!

We’ve been eating our way through a big half-ham for the past week or so, and it was time to use it up. ┬áI trimmed off the rest of the meat, and threw the bone in my slow cooker with an onion, a sad carrot, some celery leaves, a pretty beat-up apple, some black pepper, and a bay leaf. ┬áFilled up the crockpot with water, and it’s been working hard on some awesome-smelling ham stock all day. ┬áNow what to do with the ham… some I set aside for my weekly quiche, the rest was a bit of a challenge. ┬áSee, we’ve already had ham sandwiches, lentil soup, ham and root veggie hash with peppers (and plenty of ketchup!), sliced ham with lots of veggies on the side. ┬áThis will be our second big batch of ham/broccoli/cheddar quiche. ┬áNo one in my house likes pea soup. ┬áHubby’s low-carb/primal diet means the kids and I eat pasta/potatoes/rice for lunch when we want it–dinner has to accommodate him! ┬áHam’s nice and all, but by the end of 10+ lbs, we’re all getting kind of tired of it…

So I checked my pantry, and found the usual fall staples–things like sweet potatoes, onions, apples… hmm, that sounds kinda good… and this was what resulted. ┬áTotally primal (skip the cheese if you don’t do dairy), and totally hard-to-stop-eating.

Ham hash

Sweet Potato, Ham, and Apple Hash with Eggs
Serves 4-6

3 tbsp butter
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large apples, peeled and diced
1/2 an onion, diced
a pile of leftover diced ham (I’d guess about a pound?)
chopped fresh rosemary
eggs (we used 7, but use however few or many you like–extra eggs is an easy way to stretch this)
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Heat the oven to 425. ┬áMelt the butter in a big roasting pan while you’re prepping the sweet potatoes. ┬áToss them in the melted butter and pop the pan back in the oven to start roasting while you prep the remaining ingredients.

Once the apples, onion, and ham are ready, mix them in with the sweet potatoes. ┬áSprinkle with chopped rosemary. ┬áRoast everything til it’s tender┬á(about 45 minutes),┬áthen turn the oven down to 375. ┬áCarefully crack your eggs over the hash mixture and cook about 15 minutes more, until the whites are set. ┬áSprinkle with cheese, and you’re done!

This was an awesome primal “breakfast for dinner”, but you could easily turn it in to a make-ahead breakfast as well! Make a big batch of the hash ahead of time, then in the morning, just add the eggs/cheese and pop in the oven while you get ready for your day. (Our microwave was a casualty of kitchen renovations; if any of you readers want to try that for reheating and cooking your eggs, let me know how it goes!)

November 21, 2013

Primal Thanksgiving stuffing casserole (gluten-free)

I usually make vegetable soup once a week. But luckily for the hubby, I (mistakenly) thought I was out of chicken stock, so I had to come up with something else to do with the head of cauliflower sitting in my fridge. Since it’s getting close to Thanksgiving, and I conveniently–and entirely accidentally–had an appropriate selection of ingredients, I decided to try out something Thanksgiving-themed. I pulled this together on the fly, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to taste, but it came out awesome! The four food critics gobbled it down and went back for seconds, and there were tears from the 3-year-old when it was gone. So I guess it’s family-friendly, at least in this family! If you’re curious, here’s the recipe:

Primal Thanksgiving Stuffing Casserole

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Drizzle of olive oil

1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 apple, diced (peeled or not)
Mushrooms, chopped or sliced (however many you like)

1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c GF flour (you could omit this, but the sauce won’t thicken without it)
1 1/2 c milk

1-2 lbs pork sausage (or use ground pork and add sausage seasonings–sage is especially nice)

1/4 c almond flour
1/2 c cheddar cheese

Combine first three ingredients in a large (9×13) casserole dish and start roasting in a 350 degree oven.

While those are roasting, cook onions, garlic, and celery in a skillet in a little of whatever oil you like best (we use bacon grease around here!) Add apple and mushrooms as the onions are getting soft, and saute a minute or two longer. Set aside.

While those are cooking, mix together butter and flour. You could add some salt and pepper, too, if your sausage is really mild. Add milk, and cook til thickened (which you can do in the microwave–stir every minute til it starts to thicken up). Set aside.

Brown sausage in the same skillet you used for veggies.

Layer sausage, sauteed veggies, and finally cream sauce over the cauliflower and sweet potato in the oven. Sprinkle with almond flour. Bake til cauliflower is fork-tender, about 45-60 minutes from when you first put it in the oven. Sprinkle some cheddar over the whole thing near the end if you like.

Serve with pomegranate seeds for a nice cranberry-sauce-like touch ­čÖé

While not insanely low-carb, most of the carbs come from the veggies, and it is FAR lower in carbs than stuffing or a traditional noodle- or rice-based casserole!

September 12, 2013


I’m not sure what it is lately. It could be the big kids moving to their own bedrooms downstairs. Or the littles sleeping so well together in the sunroom. The change in homeschooling approach, or more consistent behavior and habit training. Maybe it’s a bit more regular Bible reading, or a better diet. Managing my commitments and expectations of myself, and gaining courage to say “no” to activities more, has probably helped. I think the “aha” moment I had while learning about the Getting Things Done approach–to be present when I am doing something, instead of constantly thinking ahead to all the other things I need to do later–has helped a lot.

Whatever it is (and I’m thinking it’s a combination of all of those), I’ve never had peace like I have lately. I mean, I’ve had it in quiet time alone, or on retreats, or way back when I was single and it was just God and me. But I’ve never had that deep, lasting soul peace hold on for weeks at a time through energetic littles and testing behavior and laundry and grocery shopping and homeschooling and the mundane of everyday. And I am one of those who does NOT do well with the mundane. But I’m having peace now, and it’s wonderful. I’m enjoying my husband and kids like never before. I love being with them and watching them grow and change. They make me laugh and melt and grow myself every day, and they give meaning to the mundane. Pastor Jim said once that you can’t say you’re a Christian and not love people, because Jesus loved people (and you have to be WITH people to love them). That one really hit me; it challenged my whole “I’m an introvert I need my space” way of thinking.

I’m still not on top of everything at home, but I’m learning, and I have a growing understanding that I do not have to have everything figured out and perfect today… I just need to do what needs doing RIGHT NOW, not worry about the things that need doing later or agonize over what I should have done yesterday, and over time things will come together. I feel like Someone installed one of those artificial horizon gauges they have in airplanes and keeps bringing it back to level. Lord, please let it continue.

September 1, 2013

Progress on the kids’ bedrooms!

The past few days have been so encouraging! Jim O. finished up the spackle on the kids’ bedrooms, allowing us to paint. (Thanks Pam K. for the green paint!) Then today, the Hestermans came over to help; Ryan and Jay trimmed out the windows and installed the shelves in the girls’ room, Leah and I did decorative painting, and the kids kept our kids occupied ­čśŤ

Much thanks to all for the help!!!






August 15, 2013

Play-Doh creations

Some pictures from a couple weeks ago. Not sure what Jeffrey was making, a robot I think. He was pretty proud of his creation. Judah made a birthday cake, with no input from me. Then announced “I bo out a-can-does!” and did just that.



August 2, 2013

Clara the flower bride

The kids are singing Here Comes The Bride to her after sprinkling her in flower petals…



July 19, 2013

Just a peaceful evening at home.


June 25, 2013

Watching movies is way more fun…

…with a baby in your lap ­čÖé