German Pancake Two Ways

SliceGermanPancakeGermanPancakeSkillet

I’ve been dying to tell you about our new favorite weekday breakfast, but I had to perfect the recipe first! Everyone loves pancakes, but it takes time to flip all of those little silver dollars. What if I told you that you could make a pancake in the oven? Introducing the German Pancake — two different ways!

When we stayed at Stowe Meadows last month, Erich made us the most delicious German Pancake for breakfast. I had never heard of it before! After the trip, I found a recipe from Real Simple and have been tweaking it ever since. I’ve made German Pancakes for breakfast every week, and the monkeys have been cheering! I’m not a fan of using a gluten free flour mix. There’s always weird ingredients that I would never normally eat, so why would I eat them now? I prefer to keep things simple and natural. I like to know exactly what’s in my food.

I’m excited to share two variations of this German Pancake with you. If you don’t have food sensitivities or allergies, you can follow the original recipe or try mine with your choice of flour. My recipe below is gluten free, vegetarian, dairy free, soy free, and really good! And how easy is an oven pancake for Mother’s Day brunch? It’s coming up, people. Let’s get our recipes in order.

If you’re gluten free and/or nut free, use 1/4 cup of oat flour and 1/4 cup of rice flour with your milk of choice. For a paleo German Pancake, use 1/4 cup of coconut flour and 1/4 cup of almond flour.

For mix-ins, we love both cinnamon apples and blueberries in our German Pancake. Get the apples going before you start mixing together the batter. I slice up a whole apple and throw it in a pan with a generous pad of butter and some cinnamon or apple pie spice. If you choose to use frozen blueberries, leave them in the freezer until you add them or the batter will turn blue — unless of course you’re going for a Cookie Monster Pancake!

We love bacon with pancakes. I’ve timed it perfectly with this recipe for a fast, filling weekday breakfast. Bake some Applegate turkey bacon in the oven at 375 for 8 minutes while you’re making the batter. Then increase the oven temperature to 400, flip the bacon to cook for another 5 minutes, and at the same time put the skillet in the oven to melt your butter. When you take the bacon out, the German Pancake goes in the oven and you’re at the table in 18 minutes. Voila!

German Pancake
Serves 4
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Cook Time
18 min
Cook Time
18 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 eggs
  2. 1/4 cup oat + 1/4 rice flours OR 1/4 cup coconut + 1/4 cup almond flours
  3. 1/2  cup almond milk OR milk of choice
  4. 2 teaspoons of coconut OR date sugar
  5. 1/4   teaspoon salt
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR almond extract
  7. 2  tablespoons butter
  8. pure maple syrup for serving
Mix-ins
  1. thinly sliced apples sautéed with butter and cinnamon
  2. 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to combine. Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the milk, salt, sugar, and vanilla and mix until incorporated; set aside.
  4. Put the butter in a cast-iron skillet. Transfer to oven until the butter melts.
  5. Add your mix-in of choice to the batter.
  6. Remove skillet from oven and quickly pour the batter into the hot skillet.
  7. Return to oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, about 18 minutes for a 8-inch skillet, or 15 minutes for a larger skillet.
Notes
  1. - The almond extract really compliments the almond flour when baked with blueberries.
  2. - If you choose to mix-in apples, add some cinnamon on top.
  3. - We prefer coconut sugar with the coconut/almond flour combo and date sugar with the oat/rice flour blend.
  4. - After you pour the batter into the skillet, swirl the top of the pancake with a knife to combine the butter that reaches the surface.
Adapted from Real Simple
Adapted from Real Simple
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/
Cómelo todo!

Let’s Get Cooking!

FarmersMkt2

It was a shocking realization of mine about two years ago that I can actually cook. It still surprises me when something I make tastes good. Several things come into play here. You need the right recipes, ingredients, music, gear, and some confidence. 

I’m an all or nothing kind of gal. When Sweet Pea had her allergic reaction to coconut and Bean’s gluten allergy became more severe, we realized we couldn’t trust anyone to feed our little monkeys. I had to step up to the plate and cook ALL of the food for our family.

At first I cried. I cried a lot. And I’m not even a big crier. Going from being a family who ordered pizza and went out to eat every week to making EVERYTHING was beyond overwhelming. But it got easier and we got healthier. I would never say that the girls allergies are a good thing, but they did make our family a whole lot healthier.

I can’t tell you how many shirts I’ve ruined in my attempts to cook. So one of the first things I did was buy a really cute apron. That’s what you would do too, right?  I treated myself to this apron. The quality is fantastic and I love the colors; it makes me feel happy.

Then I did some research; I’m good at research. From my trusty Williams Sonoma catalogs, to cooking blogs and cookbooks, I found and stored hundreds of recipes in Evernote (the app that saves my life daily).  My family does not strictly follow the Paleo diet, but I figured out that if I search with the word “paleo” that Google will give me recipes that are unprocessed as well as gluten, soy, and mostly dairy free. 

I take recipes as a suggestion. Typically, there is at least one ingredient that can be swapped for something else. Unless you’re a pastry chef, amounts don’t need to be followed exactly (real chefs are probably shuddering). Once I figured this out, I felt a little more at ease in the kitchen. While I am a type A person, it stresses me out to have to be precise when I cook.

Another very important variable: good music. Crank it up! The girls and I dance while we cook. It makes it much more fun! On top of our cooking playlist right now are: Lonely Neighbor by Oh Honey, Happy by Pharrell Williams, On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons, and Light Me Up by Birdy. Don’t forget to put on all the lights. Make your kitchen sparkle.

Get everything out that you’ll need before you start.  This step is critical! It saves so much time and stress along the way. Sometimes I measure out each step in prep bowls. It works really well with chili and soups. And always buy the freshest ingredients. I try to buy local and organic whenever possible. CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture, are an amazing way to teach the monkeys about where their food comes from and will challenge you to try new ingredients. In the winter, we love getting deliveries from Boston Organics (use code 8319bob6jc for 10% off your 1st order!).  We always hit the Newburyport Farmers’ Market whenever we’re home on a Sunday.

My friends helped me unpack our kitchen when we moved to this house a year and a half ago. They asked if I was starting a catering company, seriously. I *may* have too many kitchen gadgets and tools. I have since paired down my collection, but there are so many great time saving tools! You have to have the right gear to do the job, right? I cannot live without my little lemon squeezer. I cook with a ton of fresh lemon so I use it multiple times a day. Love, love, love this little guy. A few pairs of come-apart kitchen shears are a must. Quality cutting boards in different sizes. I use both my juicer and blender multiple times a week — like air and water!

If I can cook, so can you. I cook roughly 90 meals a month, or 1,000 meals a year – and that doesn’t even include snacks!  I have tested and re-tested recipes without even realizing it. I have so many more recipes to share with you!

It’s time to gear up. Take stock in your cabinets, see what you need, donate what you don’t, and get ready to have some fun in the kitchen. Let’s get healthy together. Are you in?

Simple Roasted Chicken + Bone Broth

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Do you roast whole chickens? It’s an easy meal that my family loves, and one of our favorite weeknight meals. I roast a chicken every other week, sometimes weekly. I always use the bones to make homemade broth in my crock-pot.

I can’t tell you how easy it is to roast a whole chicken. I had to get over my irrational fear of touching it. These helped. It takes less than 10 minutes to get the chicken in the oven. After it’s in, I start chopping veggies and just pop them in the oven as they are ready. Easy peasy, lemon squeezie (from Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure – frequently quoted at our house in a British accent, of course)!

What kind of chicken should you buy? Choose a pasture-raised chicken and organic ingredients whenever possible. I purchase chickens from local farms, like The Pasture at Pettingill Farm (order now for June if you are in the Newburyport area). Pasture-raised chickens always taste better and it’s important to me to buy local and support local farms. Additionally, pasture-raised meat is higher in omega-3s. Because the chickens are fed grass-based diets, the meat is lower in total fat and calories with higher levels of antioxidants and vitamins (E, C, and beta-carotene). Pasture animal products are also better for the environment.

We have a chest freezer in the basement that I keep stocked with whole chickens and other local organic meats. I make an exception to my rule with organic chickens from Whole Foods, which is the only grocery store where I will buy meat because of their strict standards.

WholeChicken

How to Roast a Whole Chicken with Veggies
What you need: whole chicken, a lemon, an onion, olive oil, salt, pepper.

Directions (keep reading – it’s easy, I promise):
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2 Lightly spray a baking dish with olive oil. I use Misto because most packaged sprays have lots of hidden ingredients. Check your spray.
3. Take the chicken out of its packaging and remove the bag of parts inside, reserving for later when you make broth.
4. Rinse the chicken thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
5. Place the whole chicken in the prepared baking dish.
6. Cut a lemon in half and stuff it inside the chicken.
7. Cut an onion in quarters and place the pieces around the chicken.
8. Spray or drizzle the chicken and onions with olive oil.
9. Generously salt and pepper the chicken.  
10. Put it in the oven and cook for an hour and 1/2 or until the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
11. Now chop up some veggies: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, parsnips — whatever you have. Toss in olive oil and add some salt and pepper if you want. Put everything on a baking sheet, and flip after 30 minutes. Cook an additional 15-30 minutes.
12. Let the chicken cool enough for you to handle it.
13. Remove all of the chicken off the bones.
14. Put the chicken caracas (plus everything you are not eating that comes off that chicken: skin, etc.) directly in the crock-pot. Keep reading to find out how to make bone broth!
15. Optional: Remove the wishbone and dry it out for a few days. Bean and Sweet Pea love to see who will get the wish! 

What to do with leftovers?
– Add left over chicken to a salad for lunch.
– Cut chicken into cubes for lunch boxes.
– Make chicken salad or leftover chicken soup.

 Crockpotbroth

Bone Broth

Are you thinking, why would I want to make homemade broth when I can buy it in a box at the grocery store? Homemade bone broth is detoxifying and it contains excellent minerals and nutrients that help your body function. And let’s face it, it’s a great way to save money. It costs almost nothing to make, and would cost about $18 to purchase organic at the grocery store. But wait, there’s more…

Benefits of bone broth
– Aid digestion
– Heal the gut
– Boost collagen
– Good for your teeth
– Anti-aging
– Combat the side effects of cold and flu

The fact that bone broth is good for your teeth really caught my attention. My Mom made bone broth when I was growing up and I don’t have any cavities. I’ve been making bone broth for three years. The monkeys don’t have any cavities. Kind of makes you go, “Hmmmm.”

As with everything, there’s the easy way and the hard way. I like the easy way, so I use my faithful crock-pot. Keep the broth simple because it will be the base for whatever you’re making: soup, sauces, rice, quinoa, vegetables, and for sipping. You can add spices when you’re ready to cook.

How to Make Homemade Bone Broth in Your Crock-pot
What you’ll need:
– Chicken caracas plus all of the parts that come inside (neck, liver, etc.)
– Drippings in your baking dish from roasting the chicken
– A stalk of celery and a carrot if you have them
– 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar
– Filtered water to fill the crock-pot

Directions:
1. Put all of the ingredients in your crock-pot in the order listed above.
2. Turn your crock-pot to high until it is hot and bubbling, which is about two hours in my crock-pot.
3. Cook on low for about 24 hours. It doesn’t have to be exact. 
4. Pour entire contents of the crock-pot through a mesh strainer into a large bowl.  Note: Wear an apron; it can be splashy!
5. Discard the bones.
6. Cool and store in freezer safe glass containers or in cubes. Make sure to leave room at the top of the container for the liquid to expand when frozen.

Yields approximately 16-18 cups of broth, depending on the size of your crock-pot.

I keep a few boxes of chicken broth in my pantry for emergencies. I rarely run out of my homemade bone broth but when I do, this one is my favorite. Check what’s in your pantry and read the ingredients on the label. Most packaged broths have REALLY long ingredient lists with preservatives and tons of sodium. Besides, chicken in a box? Kind of grosses me out.

Buy a chicken. Make some broth. Unless you are vegan; I’m sorry this post just isn’t for you!

Here are some recent articles about bone broth:
NPR: The Elixir Du Jour: Bone Broth
New York Times: Bone Broth Evolves From Prehistoric Food to Paleo Drink
Yahoo! Health: Bone Broth: 4 Reasons Wellness Experts Are Obsessed

Cómelo todo! 

Simple Coconut Chocolate Bars

CoconutChocBar

Sweet Pea had a coconut allergy for two years that she outgrew last June.  Practically every company has jumped on the healthy coconut bandwagon, without being required to label for coconut as an allergen.  It was the worst of all of the allergies so far, sending us to the ER twice.  We were so happy to say goodbye to yet another allergy, and hello to coconuts again!

Do you like coconut?  These bars from The Paleo Mom are awesome!  Mini chips are key in this recipe as they disperse themselves throughout the bars, keeping them moist and delicious.  We like Enjoy Life Mini Chips because they are free of the eight most common allergens (note: the bar in the photo has chocolate chunks because I’m out of mini chips!).  Let’s Do Organic shredded, unsweetened coconut works great in this recipe without adding any sugar — and it’s organic.

With only four ingredients, you can throw these bars together super fast.  We usually make Coconut Chocolate Bars twice a month.  When you cut them into long bars, you can eat them instead of grabbing a granola bar.  They make a perfect snack at school and hold up well in a coat pocket for ski days. 

Simple Coconut Chocolate Bars
Yields 8
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Prep Time
8 min
Cook Time
22 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
8 min
Cook Time
22 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  2. 2 pastured eggs
  3. 1 tsp vanilla
  4. ½ cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk egg and vanilla together in a small mixing bowl.  Add coconut and chocolate chips. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
  3. Line a 8X8 square baking pan with parchment paper.
  4. Scoop mixture into prepared pan. Flatten out and pat down with the back of a wooden spoon or pasty roller.
  5. Bake for 22 minutes until edges turn golden brown.  Let cool.
  6. Cut into bars and enjoy!
Adapted from The Paleo Mom
Adapted from The Paleo Mom
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/
 Cómelo todo! 

Meatballs and Sauce with a Twist

Meatballzoodles 
My friend Christine taught me how to make her mother-in-law’s homemade meatballs and sauce when Sweet Pea was in preschool.  We went to her house one day after school with a big pot and a grocery bag filled with all of the ingredients.  Chris and I cooked while the kids played.  She learned to make the meatballs and “gravy” by asking a lot of questions over the years.  I jotted down some notes that day and have made a few tweaks to the recipe.  What’s the twist?  I add 1/2 cup of veggies to the meatballs and use breadcrumbs combined with almond flour for a healthier, more nutritious meatball.

I typically start cooking meatballs and sauce at 2 p.m. before I pick up the monkeys at school.  If you’re short on time, put all of the sauce ingredients on the counter next to the stove the night before.  You can also throw all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl, massage together, and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the sauce later in the day.  If you prep everything, it only takes 30 minutes to make the sauce, meatballs, and combine!  


MakingSauce

Meatballs and Sauce with a Twist
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For the Sauce
  1. 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  2. 2 26-oz. box of chopped tomatoes
  3. 1 26-oz. box of strained tomatoes
  4. 3 TBSP of olive oil
  5. 3 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
  6. Generous salt and pepper
For the Meatballs
  1. 1 lb ground grass fed beef
  2. 1 lb ground pastured pork
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  5. 1/4 cup almond flour
  6. Handful of fresh chopped parsley or 1 TBSP dried parsley
  7. 1/4 cup shredded kale, optional
  8. 1/4 cup shredded carrot, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for your meatballs.
  2. Put the oil and garlic in a large, cold pot. Then turn your burner to high.
  3. Don't let the garlic brown! Sizzle on high for 30 seconds.
  4. Immediately add the tomato paste and turn the heat down to medium.  Stir for 45 seconds and break up with the back of a wooden spoon.
  5. Add the 3 boxes of crushed and strained tomatoes.
  6. Bring the burner heat up to high for the sauce to get hot. When you see steam, turn the heat down; you don’t want the sauce to boil.
  7. Now make your meatballs. Massage all ingredients together until fully blended.
  8. Roll into balls that are even in size. You should have between 20-24 meatballs.
  9. Bake on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet at 350 for 6-8 minutes, until barely red. Bigger meatballs will take longer. I make mine big so I typically bake them for 8 minutes.
  10. Immerse each meatball in the sauce with a serrated spoon.
  11. Cook uncovered for at least 2 1/2 hours to flavor sauce, stirring occasionally. If you need to go out for a short time, partially cover the pot and turn off the burner.
  12. Serve over your favorite pasta with a kale salad or green vegetable.
Adapted from my friend Christine's Mother-in-law
Adapted from my friend Christine's Mother-in-law
Under the Monkey Bars http://underthemonkeybars.com/

Notes:
– Use a cast iron pot because the acidity of the tomatoes will react with metal.  Sauce will not taste as good in a stainless steel pot!  I learned this trick from Chef Jane.
– Tomatoes also react to the metal in cans, causing harmful chemicals like BPA to leech into your food.  I use boxed non-GMO Pomi tomatoes.  The only ingredient is tomatoes, unlike many other brands.
– We like the flavor of Gillian’s gluten free bread crumbs combined with Honeyville blanched almond flour.  You can try substituting any combination of bread crumbs and flours to fit your dietary needs.  This recipe can be gluten free and paleo, but obviously not vegetarian.  Sorry friends!
– I use kale and carrot pulp from my juicer to add extra nutrition to the meatballs.  When I juice, I remove the discarded pulp individually and freeze it in 1/4 cup portions.  I bake with the juicer pulp as well.  Stay tuned for juicing recipes! 
– We love to eat our meatballs and sauce over zoodles or spaghetti squash
– For gluten free pasta, we like Jovial Organic brown rice pasta and Andean Dream organic quinoa pasta.  I don’t buy gluten free pasta if it contains corn or soy.  
– I prefer not to touch raw meat, so I use food service gloves to make meatballs.  Just one of those things…
– Freeze the leftovers!  You know the drill: only in glass containers.
– Buy local and organic ingredients whenever possible.

Cómelo todo!*

 

 

*Translation :: Eat it all!
When I studied abroad in Madrid during college, my Señora Encarna would say, “Cómelo todo!” when she brought dinner to the table.  I sometimes say it to my monkeys at dinnertime with a smile, remembering that incredible experience.  You can expect to see “Cómelo todo!” at the end of my recipe posts as a tribute to the lovely lady who made sure I was well fed all those years ago in Spain.