Birthday Brunches and Almond-Flour Banana Cupcakes

There is something magic about opening up your home for entertaining.  Whether it’s the cleaning up the “lived-in” qualities of your rooms, planning the menu, considering the food restrictions of the guests, buying flowers for the vases or just anticipating the arrival of the guests, it’s magical!  It fills my thoughts for days before and drives me to spend way more time than I have preparing food.

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This past fall, my younger sister Anna moved to my town!  I wish I could say it was to be with her cool older sister, but really it was so should could get an awesome education, explore Chicago and make great new friends.  Check, check and check!  For her birthday this year, I decided to throw her a brunch!  Because I am a selfish cook that wants to eat all of the food that I make (and because I fear cross-contamination) I made all foods either SCD legal or Paleo.

A is for Anna!

A is for Anna!

I wanted to serve a variety of foods so after weighing my options, I settled on this menu:

  • Crust-less quiche made with SCD goat milk yogurt (Find my recipe here)
    • Broccoli, sautéed onion and swiss chard
    • Bacon, sautéed onion and kale
  • Grain-free granola served with fresh fruit and coconut milk (Find Danielle’s recipe here)
  • Fresh fruit with Paleo chocolate fondue (Find my recipe here)
  • Paleo chocolate cupcakes (Find the combo of recipes I used here)
  • Annie’s Blend Tea (A mix of two of her favorite teas in fill-able tea bags)
  • Anna Banana Cupcakes (Recipe below!)
Grain-free granola with coconut milk and topping options

Grain-free granola with coconut milk and topping options

When we were growing up, we would celebrate our birthdays at our Grandma Beth’s house and she would inevitably make us her famous Banana Chocolate Cake for our birthday cake!  Sweet, almost to the point of being too sweet, it was sheer birthday indulgence and we always look forward to it.  Since being diagnosed with Crohn’s, I haven’t been able to tolerate sweets as well and since beginning SCD, there has been no Banana Chocolate Cake for me.  I decided to try and re-create one of our childhood favorites in Paleo form.  I experimented with several different versions of this recipe before settling on this one.

They are light and moist with a lovely fruit driven sweetness.  Topped with rich Paleo chocolate, they brought a rush of nostalgic childhood memories for me and smiles for us all!

The original Anna Banana and her darling friends!

The original Anna Banana and her darling friends!

Anna Banana Cupcakes

Ingredients: Cupcakes 2

  • 2 1/4 cups of  almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or a mix of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and clove in diminishing proportions
  • 3 medium bananas (Make sure they are over ripe or they won’t mash and give you the texture you want)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Icing:

For the frosting, I launched from this recipe of Elana‘s at Elana’s Pantry.  However, I made some alterations.  First of all, I halved the recipe.  I used 1/2 of the Ghiradelli 100% Unsweetened Pure Cocoa Baking Bar (about 1/2 cup).  Second of all, I added 1/3 cup of raw honey and kept the 1/3 cup of coconut oil.  I decreased the vanilla to 1 tsp.  I followed all other instructions.

Instructions:

1.    Preheat your oven to 300.  Line a cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners.

2.    Mix together all dry ingredients until well mixed.

3.    Blend eggs, honey and bananas in an electric mixer until smooth with no large chucks of banana.

4.    Fold in dry ingredients.

5.    Fill the tin about 3/4 of the way with batter.  They won’t rise a lot but aren’t too dense.  (I use an ice cream scoop to fill mine).

6.    Cook at 300 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

7.    Top with Elana’s icing after letting the cupcakes completely cool.

Me posing with empty plates and feeling soooo smug.  :)

Me posing with empty plates and feeling soooo smug. 🙂

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Paleo Candy Bars

Mike and I ate so so so bad B.C. (before Crohn’s)  We dated and were engaged long distance and when I came to visit, we’d spend the whole weekend eating fake chinese (fasian), fried everything and sugar galore!  When we went to movies, we’d sneak in at least 3 different types of candy bars and multiple soft drinks.  Honestly, it was awesome.

But eating like that has a high cost (Crohn’s being just one of them) and since starting the SCD, I’ve tried hard to monitor my sugar intake.  However, going to the movies bums me out.  I miss my candy and soft drinks!  Last night, Mike and I decided to go to “Argo” and I decided to do something about the candy situation.

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As a disclaimer, eating these on a regular basis isn’t a part of a healthy, whole living plan.  But once in a while, man does it hit the spot!

Paleo Candy Bars:

  • 1/2 bar 100% Cacao (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw, unfiltered honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Instructions:

  1. Heat coconut oil, honey and raw cacao over medium heat in small sauce pan until all ingredients have melted.  Stir to prevent burning.
  2. Add vanilla extract and remove from heat.
  3. Make sure to pre-soak your almonds!  Roast at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours with a sprinkling of sea salt.
  4. Add almonds to your food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
  5. Mix almonds and raisins into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture into a cold ice tray, filling about 1/2 of the way up.
  7. Freeze for at least 1 hour.
  8. Crack the tray like you would ice.  They fall right out!  Store in the fridge to keep from going soft but they will keep their shape at room temperature.

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Indian fried “rice” with Chicken Coconut Curry

At least two times a week I am surrounded by the delicious, pungent and seductive smells of Indian spices.  As a medical social worker at a refugee resettlement agency, I work with a lot of Bhutanese clients.  These are the Lhotshampa people, ethnically Nepali people who were forced out of Bhutan and have lived for over 20 years in refugee camps in Nepal.  I just love working with them.  They bring with them an incredibly tight knit community, amazing hospitality, great work ethic and amazing cooking (among other things).  A couple of times a week I will go to do a home visit and spend an hour or so inhaling the most incredible smells of their cooking.  They share a lot of the spices I commonly associate with Indian cooking.  B.C (before Crohn’s), I ate my weight in Nepali food– huge mounds of white jasmine rice,  Aloo Achar (potato salad) and lentil curries.  So delicious!  Now I have to refuse the hospitality of my hosts using my limited Nepali to explain that I’m so sorry (mauf garnus) but I have food allergies!  Explaining the SCD bacteria theory is a little beyond me for now.

A post by Jenni from Urban Poser on Indian “fried” rice made me think about trying to recreate a basic Nepali curry recipe.  I followed her instructions for making the rice pretty closely.  More Nepali delicacies to follow but for now, try this out!  Make sure to look at Jenni’s original recipe as well.  Her photos are out of this world!

Indian “Fried” Rice:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 3 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized carrot, chopped in small pieces
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp whole yellow mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp corriander
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 TBSP cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed

Instructions:

  1. Wash and chop cauliflower and put it in food processor.  Pulse until it resembles rice.  See Jenni’s recipe for recommendations on hand grating.
  2. Heat 1 TBSP of coconut oil in 10 inch skillet.  Once it’s hot, put a layer of the pulsed cauliflower over the oil.  Watch it carefully and scrape to keep from burning.  When it starts to brown and almost burn, remove from heat and put on the next layer, adding coconut oil as needed.  Keep warm.
  3. Once finished, add 1 TBSP of coconut oil.  Once hot, add carrots and serrano chili.  After 2 minutes, add chopped onion.  Stir to keep from burning.  After 5 minutes, add peas and lower heat.  Add the “rice” back in.
  4. Mix all the spices together and stir.  Once well combined, add to the hot “rice” mixture and stir in 1 tsp honey.
  5. Finish with 2 TBSP of cilantro and squeeze lime over it.
Indian fried "rice"

Indian fried “rice”

Coconut Chicken Curry:

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 3 peppers (I use 1 yellow and 2 smaller red)
  • 2 tsp curry powder*
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 can coconut milk (Make sure it is SCD legal.  I use Aroy-D, Trader Joe’s or Natural Valley)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro (or more!)

Instructions:

  1. Cut chicken into 1 in pieces.
  2. Combine salt and pepper.
  3. Coat chicken in 1/2 of it.
  4. Cook chicken in skillet with coconut oil.  Set chicken aside.
  5. Add more oil to skillet and saute carrots, peppers, and onion for 5 minutes or until tender crisp, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir curry powder, raisins, coconut milk, and remaining salt/pepper mixture and add to skillet.
  7. Add chicken and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.
Simmer for a few minutes to thicken

Simmer for a few minutes to thicken

*Curry powders can very from company to company.  Make sure that you know all of the ingredients in yours!  I recommend Penzey’s or The Spice Hunter.

Serve while hot!  The cauliflower rice will absorb the coconut milk so don’t combine, rather pour over to keep the rice texture.  Dari Ramro (so good)!

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Leek and Cauliflower Fritters with Sundried Tomato Pesto

I am back into the swing of life; back into work, back into cleaning and back into Saturday mornings at a coffee shop.  Oh but I miss vacation already!  I miss not being busy.  I miss cooking for as long as I want and cleaning up at my leisure.  But as I am neither a famous chef nor a kept woman, I am posting a recipe for an “on-the-go” food that I will be eating a lot of now that I’m back to the real world!

I’ve made these little fellas a couple of times, including a New Years celebration, and they don’t disappoint!  I got the idea while driving home to Minnesota for Christmas.  My awesome friend Laura gave me the new SmittenKitchen cookbook and I was SMITTEN with the beautiful pictures and delectable recipes!  Unfortunately they are filled with big old SCD no-foods so I will be forced to get creative in creating some of them.  Deb has a recipe for Leek fritters with garlic and lemon cream sauce.  It looks awesome and if you don’t have food restrictions, you should definitely make it.  SCD and Paleo friends, you should make my recipe because it is delish and is no second cousin in taste, texture or do-ability.

Color explosion!

Color explosion!

Leek and Cauliflower Fritters:  Makes 8-9 fritters

  • 1/2 Cauliflower head (about 2 cups chopped finely)
  • 3 large leeks chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup harvati cheese
  • 1/4 cup sharp cheddar (I like using goat aged cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. Chop cauliflower finely or process in food processor until you have small pieces.  Place in large sauce pan along with water and heat over medium heat until soft.  (About 15 minutes)  If cauliflower looks like it is drying, add more water, 1 TBS at a time and lower heat.
  2. Chop leeks very finely and add to cauliflower after cauliflower has softened.  Cook together with minced garlic for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and drain excess water.
  3. Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl.  Add Cauliflower/leek/garlic mixture to bowl.  Combine and then add all ingredients except the coconut flower.
  4. Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour.
  5. Heat 1 TBS coconut oil in a large skillet until water sizzles when it touches.  Remove mixture from refrigerator.
  6. Use a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup to put mixture on skillet.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Adjust heat accordingly.  If it crumbles, just put it back together with the spatula.  It will hold!
  7. Remove fritter from heat and repeat, adding more coconut oil as necessary.

Sundried-Tomato Pesto: Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 bag sun-dried tomatoes from Trader Joe’s or about 3/4 cup
  • 2 bunches of basil (or 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • 1/4 cup cheese (Parmesan gives me a stomachache so I use harvati)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)

Instructions:  Throw it all into a food processor and pulse until desired consistency.  Spread it on fritters and enjoy!

They are the perfect “to-go” food!  They are great re-heated, eaten cold or frozen for another day.  They hold up remarkably well and I even like them better the next day.  Plus, unlike a lot of SCD food, I can carry them in a zip lock bag!  They are featured here at my favorite tea shop during a hectic day’s lunch break.  It’s a nice alternative to the Tupperware full of salad and veggies I usually cart around with me.   Happy eating!

Featured on a paper napkin?  How vulgar!

Featured on a paper napkin? How vulgar!

Oh Charles, how quaint!

Oh Charles, how quaint!

Almond Flour Crepes with Herb Chicken and Caramelized Onions

I am sitting here on my couch, savoring the last few minutes before I have to go to bed because when I wake up, my vacation ends and I’m back at work.  I have had such a relaxing break.  I’ve slept an average of 10 hours a night, read for fun, looked at an inordinate amount of food blogs and spent a lot of time with my wonderful family.  And now I am girding my loins to go back to work.  I think the last couple months, I’ve had a hard time keeping sight of the fact that I need to take care of myself in the stress of my job.  Something to add to my list of resolutions!  A good place to start is with good food.

Resolutions for a New Year

I made a delicious and hearty almond flour crepe with herb chicken in a cranberry-pear vinaigrette.  Seriously, so many good things happening in this crepe.  The tang of the vinaigrette and the little burst of the pomegranate seeds balanced the savory of the chicken and chives.  To top it off, I added caramelized red onions for a heady aftertaste.

Almond Flour Crepes: 

  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil

I used coconut oil and a 10 inch skillet.  I mixed all the ingredients together.  I made sure the oil was really hot before pouring 1/4 cup batter into pan and cooked it for about 2 minutes on each side.  It made 5 crepes.

Caramelized Onions:

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Coconut oil for skillet

Heat oil and slice the onion very thin (I used my mandolin).  Mix onion and honey together.  Heat on medium for 15-20 minutes, stirring infrequently to keep from burning.

Herb Chicken:

  • 5 three ounce chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped basil

Roll chicken in herbs.  Salt and pepper.  Cook at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Tear for crepes.

Cranberry Pear Balsamic:

Ok, this is where it gets a little out of the ordinary.  I bought cranberry pear balsamic from Stillwater Olive Oil.  Worth every penny!  So incredible sweet yet tart.  I shook it up and it was ready to go!

  • 1/8 cup Cranberry Pear Balsamic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Finally, I bought turnip greens and red kale for my greens and soaked them for 10 minutes in warm water with a tablespoon of lemon and a teaspoon of salt.  Assembled while warm and served right away.  A good start to the year!

Almond flour crepes with herb chicken

Almond flour crepes with herb chicken and caramelized onion

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Homemade Marshmallows and Chocolate Dipping Sauce

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas!

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas!

I was given the best Christmas gift this year: the gift of chocolate.  As alluded to in my previous post, I have added unsweetened cocoa powder back into my diet and wow.  How much is wow?   Right between “ouch” and “boing”!  Also this year, my sister decided to take a couple of days off of work before Christmas and fly down to Chicago to visit.  As I have been trying to come up with more reasons to eat chocolate, I decided to pull out the stops for her visit.  Well, it’s not good, but it’s a reason.  I decided on a recipe by the charming Jenni at Urban Poser.

This was my first time trying marshmallows but it definitely won’t be my last!  When I first found it, I thought “it’s impossible, ridiculous and insane!”  but more than that “I wish I’d thought of it first.”  I watched the video that Jenni posted first and then had at it!  I struggled to find grass fed gelatin so just used the gelatin I found at Whole Foods.   I did not use the arrowroot starch that Jenni uses as it is not SCD legal but instead toasted a cup of unsweetened coconut flakes at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, which I processed in my food processors to make tiny pieces to line the bottoms and tops of my mallows.  Otherwise, I followed her instructions exactly!  If you’re looking for a quick treat, Honey, I’ve got a flash for you- it’s a real slow mover!  Over 4 hours to be exact.

For the chocolate fondue, I did the following.  I added 1/2 unsweetened Ghiradelli baking bar (100% cacao) to 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup honey with 1 tsp vanilla extract.  (Made with homemade vanilla extract!  Yum!)  I heated the chocolate over medium heat in a small sauce pan and added melted coconut oil and honey.  After it had reached desired consistency, I added the vanilla extract.

We've established the fact that the fondue is ideal.

We’ve established the fact that the fondue is ideal.

The result was fantastic!  So delish and such a fun treat.  It’s a smash, let’s take a bow!

I paired it with dairy-free egg-nog, also from Urban Poser.  The only substitution I made here was honey for maple syrup at a 1-1 ratio.  It was very good and my non-SCD counter-parts gave it a thumbs up as well!

I tried to wait to drink it until I got a good picture... but I couldn't!  It was too good!

I tried to wait to drink it until I got a good picture… but I couldn’t! It was too good!

Since I have been counting my blessings, instead of sheep, I will say that I am SO THANKFUL for Jenni (Urbanposer.blogspot.com), Danielle (againstallgrain.com) and Coco (roostblog.com).  They are women I’ve never met but that I’m so indebted to for making the SCD lifestyle look fun and attainable.  Oh, my word, if I wasn’t such a mean old biddy, I’d break right down and cry.  They did great, and I’m grateful!

Merry Christmas!

Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes

Warning:  The recipe I’m about to post is not strictly SCD legal.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about why cocoa is considered “illegal” on the SCD diet and I’ve felt quite skeptical.  The most compelling argument is that cocoa possibly contains saccharose, which is illegal as it is a sugar.  However, the support for this assertion is not substantially researched and I have found very little backing for it.  It is not the reasoning Dr. Haas and Elaine give and there is a growing body of literature to suggest that is actually can have really great benefits for your health, being high in anti-oxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.  To read more about the debate, start here.

With this is mind, I brought my concerns to my GI doctor.  My GI is a bigger supporter of the SCD diet and one of the lead clinical researchers on bacterial growth in the gut and it’s relation to Crohn’s.  She confirmed my suspicions about cocoa and suggested I try it.

Oh man.  The whole ride home from the office (which is an hour and a half away) I fixated on this.  I haven’t had chocolate in 8 months!

Yesterday, I tried these two recipes with some important alterations:  I started with Evan’s recipe over at The Wannabe Chef for the cupcake.  However, I substituted his 1/2 cup cane sugar with 1/2 cup raw honey.  Up to 1 cup, honey can be substituted at a 1-1 ratio.

For the frosting, I launched from this recipe of Elana‘s at Elana’s Pantry.  However, I made some alterations.  First of all, I halved the recipe.  I used 1/2 of the Ghiradelli 100% Unsweetened Pure Cocoa Baking Bar (about 1/2 cup).  Second of all, I added 1/3 cup of raw honey and kept the 1/3 cup of coconut oil.  I decreased the vanilla to 1 tsp.  I followed all other instructions.

The result was intoxicating!  They were so moist and chocolatey and delicious!  I couldn’t believe how incredible they tasted!  I shared them with two friends who don’t have any food restrictions and they loved them!

Sheer joy.

Sheer joy.

 

Fall Treats!

I have been on a hiatus the month of October due to an increase in refugee arrivals at my full time job and an increase in debate tournaments for my part time job.  The good news is that the added work, and therefore the added stress, has resulted in some serious sweet cravings and therefore, fall treats!

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Today, I’ll focus on two breads that I have been making all month, refining it to these two recipes.  I’ve been using the base that Erica from Comfybelly introduced.  The basic ingredients are below:

Ingredients

  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup of almond flour
  • 1/4 cup of coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of honey

Apple Bread:

For the apple bread, I add 3/4 cup of natural applesauce, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of apple butter.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F/175° C.
  2. Using a whisk or fork, blend all the dry ingredients together.
  3. Add the wet ingredients together, blend well, and then mix them into the dry ingredients.
  4. Oil or butter the baking pan.  I like to line the bottom with parchment paper and oil coconut the sides.
  5.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean.

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Note: The apple butter I use is one from a local farmer’s market and is sugar free and SCD legal.  Most apple butters are not!  However, I did make it without and it is still incredibly good.  Just add an extra tablespoon of applesauce for consistency.

Pumpkin Bread:

The added ingredients in the pumpkin bread are 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, (I followed Danielle’s Tutorial to make my own!), 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

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Follow the same baking instructions for moist, luscious bread!  I serve it with butter and my morning iced coffee, courtesy the amazing, acid-reducing Toddy Cold Brew.  Thank you fall!

More adventures with Spaghetti Squash!

This past week I went to visit a dear friend and her family.  Between her food sensitivities and my adherence to the Specific Carbs Diet, we had an adventure figuring out what to eat for the week!  One of my favorite meals of the week was Spaghetti squash with basil pesto, sauteed onion, tomatoes and mushroom, 21 Seasoning chicken and harvati cheese.  Yum!  And fairly simple.

Cook the spaghetti squash for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 400.  Either cut it in half before and seed or cook it whole.  It will take a little longer if you cook it whole.  We added a sandwich bag of homemade basil pesto (about 3/4 cup).  We cut up a tomato, onion and 1/2 cup of mushrooms and sauteed in olive oil for about 3-5 minutes.  We seasoned the chicken breast with Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and baked for about 35 minutes at 375.  We served it warm with harvati cheese grated on top.

Stay tune for Jamaican Spiced Meatloaf and kidney beans!

Italian Summer Soup

Italian Summer Soup

The farmer’s market this saturday featured an array of beautiful summer vegetables: sun-ripened, field grown tomatoes, vibrant green and yellow zucchini, small, “candy” onions, fresh basil and enough yellow squash to fill multiple truckbeds.  As I browsed, I decided to celebrate the end of summer bounty with a fresh, vegetable soup! 

I put the book “Simply in Season” in the picture not because I found the recipe there, but because it has influenced my understanding of cooking in season more than any other cook book.  It is apart of the World Community Cookbook collection, put together by the Mennonite Central Committee.  It was given to me by a dear friend in college, and while I’m not Mennonite, I have been very influenced by the theology that prompts their dedication to local food production and consumption. 

Italian Summer Soup

2 medium size yellow squash

1 small yellow zucchini

2 large sun ripened tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh basil

3 small candy onions

1 clove minced garlic

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp oregano

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

2.5 cups homemade chicken stock*

1 cup water

Chop all vegetables and place them in large crock pot.  Add chicken stock and water and then add herbs and s/p.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve warm with grated parmesan.  Serves 4.

The key to the dish is the homemade chicken stock.  It adds SO MUCH FLAVOR!  I followed this recipe from Nourishing Days, adding celery, carrots, onion, garlic, basil and thyme to my chicken stock.  I cooked it in the crock pot the night before making the soup.  It makes all the difference!

Happy eating!