Simple Homemade Hummus Recipe

Simple Homemade Hummus Recipe

One of my favorite snacks in the whole world is homemade bread topped with homemade hummus, green olives, and fresh tomatoes from the garden. This hummus recipe is easy to make, super nutritious, and oh so very delicious!

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 15 oz. Cans of Garbanzo Beans (drain and save the liquid)
  • ½ Cup Tahini (make sure it’s evenly mixed)
  • ¼ Cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon (juice from one lemon or more if you like it tangy)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (peeled and sliced, more or less depending on taste preference)
  • 1 t. Cumin (Some recipes don’t call for this spice, but I think it’s what completes the flavor.)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • *Blender (You could also use a food processor.)
  • *Parsley (as a garnish, optional)

Directions

  • Drain the liquid from the garbanzo beans and add them to the blender. Set the liquid aside to add later as needed to get the blender going.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients (tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper). 
  • I like my hummus on the thicker side, so I try to add as little of the reserved garbanzo bean liquid as possible which is usually about half of a can.
  • In order to blend everything evenly, I use a large spoon to stir, blend, stir, blend, repeat until the consistency is nice and creamy.

In Conclusion

By having some delicious homemade hummus prepared ahead of time, you can be sure that when hunger strikes you will have a healthy snack on hand. I love chopping up fresh carrots and celery and using the hummus as a dip or putting it on top of my homemade bread. Delicious!

Hummus on Homemade Bread

Hummus on Homemade Bread

Super Simple Homemade Bread Recipe

Super Simple Homemade Bread Recipe

When we were first married, my parents got my husband and I a grain grinder. Since I was so busy with teaching, my mom actually taught my husband her famous bread recipe. He was the main bread maker in the family until we had two kids and I became a stay at home mom.

Scott is teaching his sister how to make bread in our old apartment back in 2006.

Here’s an old picture from 2006 where Scott is teaching his sister how to make bread.

When I have the time, I actually prefer making sourdough muffins (I never have been able to master a sourdough bread loaf recipe.) because it breaks down the phytic acid, but this whole grain bread recipe is great for when I just want a quick and simple loaf of bread.

This recipe will make 3 loaves. Before you get started, preheat the oven to 350° F. Also note that while this recipe is simple, it does take about 2 hours start to finish until you’re eating bread. (Don’t worry though, it’s not so much work as it is waiting.)

Ingredients

  • 6 c. Flour – I use organic prairie gold wheat berries that I order from Country Life Natural Foods (you can get prairie gold wheat berries on Amazon too) and grind my grain fresh with this grain grinder. If you are just looking for flour, this sprouted grain flour is the best. (Sprouting is another way to break down phytic acid.)
  • 1 c. Hot Water – Many recipes will call for warm water, but I like mine scalding hot to dissolve the coconut oil and honey. I make sure it’s not scalding when I add my yeast though!
  • 2 T. Coconut Oil – I buy my coconut oil in bulk from Country Life Natural Foods and keep a large yogurt tub full of it on my counter for greasing pans and cooking. If you don’t need such large amounts of coconut oil as I, then you should check out Nature’s Way Coconut Oil. *You could also use extra-virgin olive oil instead of coconut oil.
  • 2 T. Raw Honey – The yeast needs something sugary to consume, and I think raw honey is the best, but you could also use regular honey or even plain old sugar. I like finding local sources for raw honey, but you can find organic raw honey on Amazon as well.
  • 8 t. Yeast – I usually pick up something like this Red Star Active Yeast at the grocery store, but these individual yeast packets are really handy too.
  • Salt – You’ll be sprinkling some salt onto the dough during the kneading phase (any earlier and it can kill the yeast). I like using Real Salt because of the taste and high mineral content.
  • *3 Bread Pans – I like using glass baking pans. You could also trade out a loaf of bread for a pizza crust.

Directions

  1. Activate the yeast. In a large bowl, combine the hot water, coconut oil, and honey. Stir until the coconut oil and honey until dissolved. Sprinkle in the yeast, gently stir, and cover with a towel for 10 minutes.

    Activated Yeast

    Activated Yeast

  2. Add the flour. The mixture should be nice and frothy from the activated yeast at this point. Add 3 cups of flour, stir, then add the remaining 3 cups, and mix everything thoroughly. If it seems too wet, add a bit more flour. If it seems to dry, add a bit more water.
  3. Knead the dough. Dump the dough onto a floured table and knead the dough by folding it in half and rolling it over itself, turning the dough, flipping it over and repeating this process over and over again. Try to knead for 5-10 minutes. The longer you knead the dough, the more it activates the gluten and sticks together. You’ll notice a change in the texture after kneading for a bit.

    Kneading the Dough

    Kneading the Dough

  4. Break into three loaves. Evenly divide the dough into three lumps and continue kneading each one for about 5 minutes each. (You’ll be surprised how much easier it is once it’s divided!) As you knead, sprinkle salt onto the dough about 3 times for each loaf.

    Three Loaves

    Three Loaves

  5. Let it rise. Grease your pans, roll the dough into the shape of a hot dog bun with a crease on the bottom, and place inside of the pans. Set them on top of a stove that’s pre-heating or somewhere warm for about 40 minutes to an hour. To help the dough rise faster, sometimes I’ll open the oven door with the pans on top or put them inside the oven set to the lowest setting with the door open.

    Dough Baby

    Dough Baby

  6. Bake. Once the dough has doubled in size, it’s ready to bake! Bake at 350º F for about 35-40 minutes. You’ll know when it’s ready by the bready smell!

    Two Bread Loaves and a Pizza Crust Ready to Bake

    Two Bread Loaves and a Pizza Crust Ready to Bake

  7. Eat! There is simply nothing better than a fresh warm slice of bread topped with butter and honey. This is our traditional reward for a bread well done!
    Fresh Baked Bread

    Fresh Baked Bread

    Fresh Baked Bread with Butter and Honey

    Fresh Baked Bread with Butter and Honey

In Conclusion

There is something so satisfying about making your own food from scratch. My kids always love helping me make bread and eating the dough along the way. I love this recipe because it’s simple, easy to follow, and makes the most delicious bread ever. Another favorite snack I love to enjoy with my homemade bread is a fresh slice topped with homemade hummus, chopped green olives, and fresh tomatoes from the garden. Yum!

Homemade Bread Topped with Hummus, Green Olives, and Tomato

Homemade Bread Topped with Hummus, Green Olives, and Tomato

Embracing Motherhood Chicken Soup Recipe

Healing Chicken Soup Recipe

This is just your basic chicken soup recipe, but when each component is carefully prepared from the roasting of the chicken, to the making of the stock, to the preparation and addition of other ingredients like the soaked barley, it is truly a masterpiece. I like to make some sort of soup every other week or so (especially during the cold months) because it makes a great “go to” lunch, dinner, breakfast, or snack. Whenever I am too busy to prepare a meal or feel hungry and tempted to eat a pile of cookies or go to McDonalds, I just put my soup on the stove and minutes later I have a nice, delicious, healthy, and nourishing meal.

Ingredients

  • Roasted Chicken (Cut into bite sized pieces. Usually when I make a roasted chicken, we are able to make one meal out of just eating the meat and what’s left over gets put into the soup.)
  • 4 Quarts of Chicken Stock (Check out how I make my simple bone broth here.)
  • 2 c. Soaked Barley (You could also use soaked rice or soaked beans, but barley is the healthiest choice.)
  • 2 c. Chopped Carrots
  • 2. c. Chopped Celery
  • 4 T. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here, you can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • Optional: 1 c. Chopped Leeks, 1 c. Chopped Bok Choy, or whatever else is leftover in your fridge that could be chopped up and sounds like it would be good in soup (broccoli, potatoes, zucchini, green beans, etc.)!

Directions

  1. Bake the chicken. Check out my roasted chicken recipe here, but basically, you’re going to season your chicken (I use garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and throw a stick of butter in the cavity) and bake at 350° F for 1.5 hours.
    roast chicken

    Roast Chicken

  2. Cut it up. Let the chicken cool, cut it off the bone, and leave to soak in it’s own juices.
  3. Make your bone broth. Read more about making bone broth here, but basically, you’re going to low boil your bones, skin, etc. with cold filtered water and a dash of apple cider vinegar (to draw out the minerals) for 24-36 hours (or at least overnight). Then, drain the broth and use it for your stock.
    straining the broth

    Straining the Bone Broth

  4. Low boil and add the chicken. Bring the chicken broth to a low boil. As it’s heating up, add the chicken. If it looks like there is too much broth, drain some off and either freeze it or save it for later. (I like setting some broth aside and adding it later to make my soup last longer!)
  5. Add the veggies. Depending on how big of a pot you’re making and how long you think it will last, keep that in mind when you cook your veggies. Carrots and celery tend to take longer to cook, so I like to add them first. If I’m adding bok choy, leeks, and parsley, I’ll wait to add them to the end and not cook them for very long so that they don’t get soggy.
    Chicken Soup with Carrots, Celery, Bok Choy, and Leeks

    Chicken Soup with Carrots, Celery, Bok Choy, and Leeks

  6. Add your starch. You can add your pre-soaked barley, some rice, or even beans too (garbanzo and white beans are my favorites). Sometimes, I like to hold off on the starch and just leave the meat and veggies, and sometimes, I like to cook a pot of rice and pour my soup over it. Yum!
    chicken soup over rice

    Chicken Soup Over Rice

  7. Salt to taste. Yes, you can over salt your soup, and I have done it many times! Start out with some, then add a little more and a little more until it tastes just right.
  8. Enjoy! When everything is just right, get out your bowls and enjoy some soup! It’s also really good to serve some piping hot sourdough muffins with this meal.
    Chicken Soup with Carrots, Celery, Bok Choy, and Leeks

    Chicken Soup with Carrots, Celery, Bok Choy, and Leeks

In Conclusion

Chicken soup make with organic, pasture raised chickens using properly prepared broth and grains is just about one of the healthiest meals you can eat. I love making a pot whether it’s summer or winter for a nourishing go to meal that can last my family through the week. Read more of my soup recipes here or my chicken recipes here.

How to Make the Best Roasted Chicken

How to Make the Best Roasted Chicken

This is a very basic recipe for roasted chicken, but sometimes the best meals stem from simplicity. I like to make a roasted chicken about once a week. My kids love eating it cut up into bite size chunks when it’s fresh out of the oven, and my husband always gets first dibs on the legs! After I pick all of the meat off, I’ll boil the bones to make chicken stock and the extra chicken will either go into a pot of soup, or I’ll use it for some other meal.

Ingredients

  • One Whole Chicken (Organic and pastured is best, look for a local farmer, or check it our here)
  • 1 Stick of Butter (Pastured butter like Kerrygold is the best.)
  • 1 t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here. You can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • 1 t. Pepper (Buy it here.)
  • 1 t. Ground Oregano (I buy mine here or you can buy it here.)
  • 1 t. Ground Basil (I buy mine here or you can buy it here.)
  • 1 t. Garlic Powder (I buy mine here or you can buy it here or here.)
  • 1 t. Onion Powder (I buy mine here or you can buy it here.)

Directions

  1. Thaw the chicken. If the chicken is frozen, try to remember to put it in the fridge for a day or two until it thaws out. If you’re in a pinch, fill the sink up with warm water and let it soak for an hour. (Don’t try to cook the chicken frozen.)
  2. Get the oven ready. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  3. Prepare the chicken. Once the chicken is thawed, pull out the giblets and give them to your cat/dog, rinse with cold water, pat dry with a paper towel, and place in a roasting pan. (I like using a glass pan).
  4. Season. Sprinkle the seasonings generously all over the chicken, especially inside the cavity. I actually never measure my seasonings, I just try to coat the chicken evenly.
  5. Butter. Put the stick of butter inside the cavity of the chicken. (You could also rub some of the butter into the skin of the chicken. Just do it before you add the seasonings.) *Butter is not to be feared as we have so previously and erroneously thought. Read more here.)

    raw chicken with seasonings stuffed with butter in glass pan ready to be cooked

    Seasoned Whole Chicken Ready to be Cooked

  6. Bake. Bake at 350˚F for 1½ hours.

    roast chicken

    Roasted Chicken

  7. Let cool. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before cutting. (This gives the juices a chance to settle in.) If you notice that the juice is really pink or that the chicken is still pink, cook for another 20 minutes and check again. If you’re the type who likes to check the internal temperature, it should read 165˚F.
  8. Cut into pieces. Peal the skin back and cut horizontal lines in the breast followed by vertical lines. Then cut down at an angle until you get big chunks of breast meat falling off the bone.

    pre-cut chicken breast on a cooked roasted chicken in a glass pan

    Pre-Cut Chicken Breast from a Roasted Chicken

  9. Soak the meat in the juice. Let these chunks of meat soak in the juice of the chicken. Cut the rest of the meat off the bones as much as possible. (To remove the chicken legs, find where the two bones connect and gently saw through the cartilage.) Leave the legs and wings intact if it suits your fancy. Let all of the meat soak in the juice, sprinkle with a fresh bit of salt, and serve! *My chicken legs never make it past my husband; they’re his favorite! 🙂

    roasted chicken breast meat cut up and soaking in juices legs cut off

    Roasted Chicken Meat Cut and Ready to Serve

  10. Save the scraps. Save the bones, skin, and all other remnants to make a healing chicken broth and/or use the chicken (and all of the juice of course) to make some delicious chicken soup!

Variations:

You can use any combination of the following variations. Try a few things out. See what you like and don’t like. Get creative and try something new!

  • Cut a lemon in half, gently squeeze both halves into the cavity of the chicken, and place both halves in there as well.
  • Peel some garlic cloves (about 4-6 nice sized ones) and place them in the cavity of the chicken.
  • Use rosemary, salt, and pepper only.
  • Chop up some big chunks of onion and place them around the chicken.
  • Cut up some potatoes (or leave them whole) and place them around the chicken.
  • Cut up some carrots and celery into big chunks and place them around the chicken.
Embracing Motherhood How to Make Bone Broth

How to Make a Nourishing Chicken Bone Broth

Making a good chicken bone broth (or chicken stock as it is also called) is one of the simplest and most nourishing things you can make. You can use it immediately to make some chicken soup, put it in a Ziploc bag and freeze it to use later, freeze it in ice cube trays to have little bursts of “bullion” to use whenever you need it, or you can simply sip a nice hot mug of it instead of coffee or as a snack/meal replacement.

Health Benefits of Chicken Broth

I love making soup of any kind because it provides a nice complete meal that can feed my family at a moment’s notice for the week, but I especially like making any kind of soup with chicken bone broth because it is pretty much the most healing and most nutritious food there is.

Chicken bone broth is easy to both digest and metabolize (two things that are very different yet people think are the same…I’ll be exploring this in more depth at a later time). This makes it perfect the perfect food when you are trying to heal from any chronic illness or are sick with the flu or the common cold.

During digestion, the gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, which helps to support proper digestion. In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon also states that chicken soup,

“Has a natural ingredient which feeds, repairs and calms the mucous lining in the small intestine. This inner lining is the beginning or ending of the nervous system. It is easily pulled away from the intestine through too many laxatives, too many additives…and parasites.”

Chicken broth also contains valuable minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur chondroitin, glucosamine, and a variety of trace minerals that are in a form your body can easily absorb. When your body is healing, you NEED these nutrients from nutrient dense food to heal.

Another cool thing about bone broth is that because of the anti-inflammatory acids such as arginine, it helps to inhibit infection caused by cold and flu viruses. In her article, Broth is Beautiful, Sally Fallon explains,

“Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.”

My Recipe

Ok, so are you ready to make some broth? For such a simple meal, there sure are a lot of different recipes for bone broth. With four young children underfoot, I like to cook food that’s as nutritious as possible as simply as possible. This is why I don’t add anything (except apple cider vinegar, which helps to draw out the minerals) to my bone broth. You can surely get creative and add whatever you’d like, but if you’re looking for simple, you’ve come to the right place!

Ingredients

  • One Whole Roasted Chicken (Preferably organic and pastured, the stock will not gel properly with a battery-raised chicken.)
  • One Large Pot
  • Cold Filtered Water
  • 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar (This pulls the minerals, especially calcium, out of the chicken bones.)
  • Optional: Carrot tops and pieces, celery stalks and leaves, onion skins and onion, parsley, and salt (I usually don’t add any of these ingredients except the salt, and I wait to add that at then end so that I can salt it to my taste preference. If you’re going to add parsley, wait until the very end.)
  • Advanced: Chicken feet (Provides a more gelatinous broth.)

Directions

  1. Roast your chicken. You can read more about my roasted chicken here, but basically, I stuff mine with a stick of butter and season with salt, pepper, and onion powder and bake at 350° F for 1.5 hours.

    roast chicken

    Roast Chicken

  2. Pick off the meat. I like to cut my breasts into cubes before cutting off the bone. Then I methodically pick off all usable pieces of meat, cut into bite size pieces, leave all pieces to soak (Don’t you dare waste the drippings!) in the remaining chicken juice, cover, and store in the refrigerator until the next day.

    Pick the Meat Off the Bones

    Pick the Meat Off the Bones

  3. Save all skin, bones, and other parts. I do typically discard the giblets (unless my cats want to eat them), but other than that, every last little scrap goes into my pot including the carcass, bones, skin, and any other little tidbits. I also like to leave just a titch of meat on the bones for extra flavor.

    Save ALL of Your Chicken Scraps

    Save ALL of Your Chicken Scraps

  4. Cover with water. After filling the pot with your chicken scraps, fill to just about the brim with cold filtered water.

    Chicken Bits Covered with Water

    Chicken Bits Covered with Water

  5. Apple cider vinegar. You have to be careful that you don’t add too much or you will really taste it. You might want to start with just a teaspoon and adjust to taste. Even though 2 tablespoons would be most effective, I usually only add about a teaspoon because that’s the flavor I like.
  6. Slow boil. Bring the water to a slow boil and skim any scum that comes to the top. (These are impurities.)
  7. Cover and simmer. Cover and reduce to a low rolling boil. (On my stove, this usually hovers around a 2 or 3.) Ideally, you’ll want it to simmer for a good 24-36 hours for the maximum benefit, but at the very least, just let it simmer overnight.

    bone broth cooling

    Bone Broth Cooling

  8. Cool and strain. Turn off the burner, let it cool, then strain into a separate bowl through a colander. You’ll notice that the bones will be soft and break apart easily. Do not feed them to any animals, it will tear up their insides.

    straining the broth

    Straining the Broth

  9. Enjoy! Time to put your broth to use.
    • Chicken Soup: Add some chicken, celery, carrots, and soaked barely to make a simple chicken soup.

      Chicken Soup Bowl

      Chicken Soup

    • Egg Drop Soup: Bring it to a boil, add some Bragg Liquid Aminos, Sriracha, and eggs to make an egg drop soup to die for.

      egg drop soup

      Egg Drop Soup

    • Store in the Freezer: Store your stock in Ziploc bags in the freezer. (Just be sure to lay them flat instead of plopping them on a rack where they will freeze while seeping through the cracks and then rip open when you try to take it out later….um, personal experience!)
    • Freeze into Cubes: Freeze in ice cube trays to save for smaller size portions to use instead of those MSG laden “bullion cubes”.
    • Sip It: Pour into a mug to sip on. Sometimes, I like adding some Bragg Liquid Aminos and Sriracha for a spicy oriental flavor!

      Bone Broth in a Mug

      Bone Broth in a Mug

In Conclusion

If there is one food that you could add to your family’s meal plan that would make the most difference, I would say that bone broth is in the top ten for sure! If you’re not much of a cook, don’t worry! You can hardly get this recipe wrong! If you are, there are certainly a lot of variations you could try to make this a gourmet dish. As we enter another cold winter season full of viruses, I’m sure that I’ll be finding ways to incorporate this bone broth into our diets on a regular basis.

See more ideas for what to make with this broth in my soup section.

Embracing Motherhood chicken cordon bleu

The Best Chicken Cordon Bleu You’ll Ever Taste!

This is the best chicken cordon blue recipe I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The taste is amazing and complex, but it is seriously easy to make.

I have so many other blogs that I want to write right now, but I just have to take a moment to share this recipe that I stumbled upon for chicken cordon bleu because it is soooooo good! (Thanks mortgage company newsletter!)  I have tried making this before, and I always felt like I needed a sauce to go along with it, but the way that all of these ingredients work together makes a sauce or any sides even…irrelevant.

Ingredients

  • 4 Boneless Chicken Breast Halves
  • 1 lb of Deli Ham
  • 1 lb of Swiss Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Melted Butter
  • 4 Slices of Bread (I prefer sourdough.)
  • Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Paprika, really…whatever you fancy

Directions

  1. Preheat the Oven: to 350º F
  2. Cut the Chicken: Use a really sharp knife to cut the breasts into layers that are ¼ thick.

    My Workstation for chicken cordon bleu

    My Workstation

  3. Ham and Swiss: Top each chicken breast filet with a slice of cheese and then ham.
  4. Roll It: Roll, tuck the ends, and secure with a couple of toothpicks.
  5. Butter: Use a glass bowl to melt the butter (the shallower the better), then dip the entire roll in it. Make sure the butter gets into every crevice.
  6. Breadcrumbs: Use a blender, or crumble by hand, the slices of bread. Add your preferred seasonings and mix. After dipping the chicken in butter, roll it around in the breadcrumbs.
  7. Baking Pan: Place the chicken rolls into a (preferably glass) baking pan. You can squish them together pretty closely.

    Ready to bake my chicken cordon bleu!

    Ready to bake!

  8. Cook: Bake for 40 minutes at 350º F.

    chicken cordon bleu out of the oven

    Ok…so a few are missing already. 🙂

  9. Serve: Serve alone or with noodles or rice and some sort of veggie like broccoli or asparagus.

    Kid's Plate of chicken cordon bleu

    Kid’s Plate

Embracing Motherhood Homemade Guacamole

Homemade Guacamole

Avocados are ridiculously healthy! Along with their monounsaturated fat (mostly oleic acid), they are naturally nutrient-dense and contain around 20 vitamins and minerals. I love slicing up avocado and using it on sandwiches or toast (check out my friend Lindsey’s simple and delicious recipe for avocado toast here), but I just love, love, LOVE making homemade guacamole!

Ages ago, before I attempted making most of my food from scratch, I would simply pick up one of the avocado packets from the store, but now I skip that msg laden pouch and instead make my own mixture that tastes WAY better and is better for you too.

Ingredients

  • 4 Ripe Avocados (Avocados are on the clean 15 list, so you don’t need to worry if you can’t find some that are organic.)
  • 1 Lemon (or lime)
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • *1 Tomato (optional)
  • 2 t. Real Salt
  • 1 t. Cumin
  • ½ Pepper
  • *Cilantro (optional)
  • *Cayenne Pepper (to taste if you like a little spice)
Guacamole Ingredients

Guacamole Ingredients

Directions

  1. Open the avocado. Cut the avocados length-ways and pinch the skins to expel the soft buttery flesh of the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit). Discard the skins and pits and dump the avocado into your bowl.

    Avocado Flesh

    Avocado Flesh

  2. Mince the garlic. 4 pods will give the guacamole a noticeable garlic flavor and give you some garlic breath to boot, but feel free to just add one or two pods for less of a garlic effect! I like to press the garlic pods with the side of my knife until they pop and then easily remove the skins. Then I chop them as fine as I can with my big knife. Sometimes I like pulling out my hand chopper or mini food processor to get the garlic minced really fine. *If I were to add cilantro, I would put it in the food processor with the garlic, but I didn’t have any this time around, so I didn’t add it.

    Minced Garlic

    Minced Garlic

  3. Squeeze the lemon. I love using this handy lemon squeezer. (I actually kind of prefer the taste of a lime, but we usually keep more lemons on hand, so that’s what I used.)

    Squeezing Lemon on Avocado

    Squeezing Lemon on Avocado

  4. Add the seasonings. I don’t usually like measuring my seasonings. I just add some (usually less than I would think), taste it, and add more until I get the right flavor. I’m really generous with the salt here, sparing with the pepper, and appreciative of the cumin, which is really the key ingredient and gives the guacamole its distinctive flavor! I love adding cayenne to just about everything, but my kids don’t like it, so I just add it separately to my portion.
  5. Mash it up. Use a fork to mash up all of the avocado onto the sides of the bowl. Keep spinning and mashing until you’ve gone over all the avocado flesh. I think that it looks and tastes better if left a little lumpy.

    Mashed Up Avocado

    Mashed Up Avocado

  6. Chop up a tomato. This is totally all about your personal preference. I like adding just one tomato for a little color and extra flavor, but if I’m running ow on avocados and want to stretch things out, I’ll add more tomato. When I chop up the tomato, I like to get rid of all the seeds and extra juice so that it doesn’t make the dip too watery.
  7. Set and serve. The longer this sits, the more the flavors can sink in, and the better it tastes. It also tastes better room temperature. So I like to make mine the day before I need it, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, and make sure it sits out long enough to get to room temperature before serving it.
    Holy Guacamole!

    Holy Guacamole!

    *This guacamole is so much more than just a dip! Sure you can enjoy it with some tortilla chips, but it also makes a great topping on a burger, a delightful edition on an egg sandwich, and a must have for tacos too!

Embracing Motherhood Panera Bread Style Broccoli and Cheese Soup

How to Make Panera Bread Style Broccoli and Cheese Soup

I love, love, LOVE  broccoli and cheese soup, especially the Panera Bread style of broccoli and cheese soup that is all puréed and creamy. Since I’m not going to run out to Panera Bread every time that I want some of this delicious soup, I decided to make my own. I searched the Internet for copycat recipes and compiled my favorite parts into this recipe which includes all of the wholesome ingredients I love cooking with such as bone broth, raw milk, and organic vegetables!

Ingredients

  • 2 c. Chicken Stock (I always like making extra and keeping some in the freezer, but you might need to roast a chicken to make some fresh. If you do this, you could even purée some chicken to throw into the mix to make it an even heartier soup.)

    Frozen Chicken Stock

    Frozen Chicken Stock

  • 2 c. Raw Milk (I like letting the cream rise to the top and using that mostly, or I’ll get some organic half and half from the store.)
  • ¼ c. Flour (I like mine freshly ground.)
  • 1 Stick of Butter (½ c.) plus 2 T. (to sauté the onions)
  • 2½ c. Shredded Cheese (I like Colby Jack)
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Pods of Garlic
  • 2 Head of Broccoli (Or you can substitute with 2 c. of other vegetables such as carrots and celery.)

Directions

  1. Sauté the 2 T. of butter with the garlic and onion. I like peeling the garlic (crush with the side of your knife first for easy peeling) and mincing it with a knife or my handy dandy hand chopper (if I feel like cleaning it). You’ll be puréeing all of this later, so don’t worry about chopping it up super fine. Cook at a low to medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside until later. (I put mine in a little bowl because I always need my cast iron skillet available!)

    Sautéd Onions and Garlic

    Sautéd Onions and Garlic

  2. Steam all of the vegetables. By steaming the vegetables first, it will make them a lot easier to blend later! (*Note: When making this recipe, my sister skipped this steaming step by using her food processor to chop up all of the vegetables raw. She said it turned out great!) Coarsely chop up the broccoli (and the carrots and celery if you’ll be using them) and steam. Check out my tips and tricks for perfectly steamed broccoli here! Put in a big bowl to cool. *My steamer isn’t very big and I made a double recipe, so it took two batches of broccoli and one batch of carrots and celery to get the job done.
    Steamed Broccoli

    Steamed Broccoli

    Steamed Carrots and Celery

    Steamed Carrots and Celery

  3. Make the roux. Melt the stick of butter in your soup pot. Once it’s melted, add the flour and stir. Cook at low to medium heat (nice and bubbly) and continue stirring for about 3-4 minutes.

    Roux

    Roux

  4. Add the milk. Add slowly, stir often, and keep at a low to medium heat.
  5. Purée the vegetables with the chicken stock. While the milk is heating up, add small batches of steamed vegetables into the blender. I like blending my onions (that we set aside from earlier) too. Top off the blender with the chicken stock to make it blend easier. Add to the soup pot.
    Steamed Broccoli, Carrots, and Celery with Chicken Stock Ready to Blend

    Steamed Broccoli, Carrots, and Celery with Chicken Stock

    Turn the blender off and on repeatedly so that it is puréed, but blended as little as possible if you’re like me and want there to be a few little chunks in there to chew on!

    Pulse on Low

    Pulse on Low

  6. Add the cheese. Wait until the soup is good and hot before you add the cheese. You want it to melt right away.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes. Cook on a low to medium heat and continue to stir often. If it starts to bubble, turn the heat down a little bit. Let cool and serve. I find that this soup tastes better the longer it sits. This gives everything a chance to thicken and the flavors to really soak in.

    broccoli and cheese soup

    Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Embracing Motherhood How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

Using sourdough is one of the pillars of healthy eating in our family because it is the best way to get rid of phytic acid, which is in all grains (and basically anything that is a seed) and prevents us from accessing the much needed phosphorus located in grains and leaches minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. (Read more about phytic acid in my blog here.) Not only that, but the souring process breaks down all of the sugars in the flour and makes it much easier for the body to digest. Making sourdough can seem like a daunting task at first, but once you get the sourdough starter established, it can become a very easy part of your routine.

I got my first sourdough starter from a friend, and things didn’t turn out so well. The problem could have been any or all of the following: 1) the starter flour was different than the flour I was using to bake with, 2) my gallon size jars were too big, 3) my hard winter wheat grain was too dense, and/or 4) I didn’t feed it enough. So I scrapped the project and waited until I had more time to do it properly. Now, I have an excellent starter that’s nice and poofy, some great containers, the perfect grain, the time to feed it regularly, and some great sourdough recipes that I love using.

Materials Needed

  • Sourdough Starter Packet (I got mine from Breadtopia via Amazon)
  • Wide Mouth Mason Jars (I use 2 jars at a time. You can get some here or in the canning aisle at your local grocery store.)
  • Coffee Filters (To cover the mason jars. This keeps out the fruit flies and lets the sourdough “breathe”.)
  • Fresh Ground Grain (I get my organic prairie gold wheat berries here, but you can find some similar here too. I use my Wondermill Grain Grinder to grind it up, but you can also get a hand operated grain mill if you’re looking for a cheaper option.*I’ve tried hard winter wheat berries, and they just didn’t work as well.)
  • Filtered Water (We have city water that fortunately has no flouride, and we bought a simple filter to get the chlorine and other chemicals out. You can also let water sit out for 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine.)

Starting the Starter:

  1. Put 1 t. of dried starter into your mason jar(s) and add 1 T of lukewarm filtered water. Stir until softened.
  2. Add 1 T of freshly ground flour and stir. (You can grind a big batch of flour and keep it on your countertop, which is what I do, or you can get a little coffee grinder and grind some fresh every day. The more freshly ground the flour, the more phytase will be available to break down the mineral leeching phytic acid. Don’t freeze your flour, this will “kill” all of the phytase.)
  3. Cover the mason jar with a coffee filter, screw the cap on to keep it in place (or place a rubber band around it), and let it sit for 24 hours.
  4. For the first few days, you’ll just add tablespoons of water and flour, but once your starter is established (you will notice the bubbling action of the fermentation), you can increase the amounts to 13 c. of flour and 14 c. of water. *You want the consistency to be soft but not soupy, and you want to be able to mix it easily.

    Sourdough Starter

    Sourdough Starter

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is my sourdough established? After you feed your sourdough and let it sit for 24 hours, you should see it get poofy, double in size, and there should be little holes dotted throughout. Because of this, you never want to let your jar(s) get too full.
  • How should I maintain the starter? If you’re like me and want to use the starter as often as you can for things like sourdough muffinssourdough pancakes, and sourdough pizza crust, you’ll want to leave it on the counter in warmish place (not near a drafty window) where it can be left undisturbed but remain within easy reach, and feed it 13 c. of flour and 14 c. of water every day. If you won’t be using it very often, you can keep it in your refrigerator. When you want to use it, take it out of the refrigerator, feed it, and let it sit out until it gets nice and poofy again, preferably 24 hours. Try not to let more than 2 weeks go by between feedings.
  • What if I need more? You can always double the amount of flour and water each time you feed your starter or feed it every 12 hours if you need a quick boost in volume.
  • What should I do if I forget to feed my starter every day? If you miss a day here and there, you should be fine. But if you miss more than a couple of days and the starter starts to turn black, you are getting near the point of no return. But still, try to feed it, stir it really well, and see if it will come back.
  • How do I know if my starter has gone bad? Make it a point to really stick your nose in your starter and smell it when it is first established. It should have a pleasantly sour smell. If it goes bad, it will have a rotten and putrid smell. When this happens, you just have to throw it away and start over.
  • When should I clean out my jars? When wet sourdough dries, it is VERY hard to clean! This is why I highly recommend cleaning any measuring cups with sourdough starter in them right away! If you notice that the inside sides of your jars are getting caked with lots of dry sourdough and especially if the dried sourdough is turning black, it’s time to clean your jars! Get a fresh clean mason jar(s), transfer as much of the wet starter as you can into the new jar, and soak the dirty jar in hot soapy water. Warning: It will not be easy or fun to clean! It will require a lot of scraping and perhaps even some more soaking, but you will be glad you did it when it’s over. 🙂
  • Why should I go to all of the trouble of using sourdough anyways? All grains (as well as seeds, nuts, corn, oats, tubers, and bean…even coffee beans) contain phytic acid. Phytic acid is found in the hull of the grain and protects it. If we eat phytic acid without breaking it down first, not only can we not access the phosphorus inside (which is needed by every cell in the body), but it leaches valuable minerals (such as calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium) from our bodies. By making sourdough, we are releasing the phytase within the grain which is the only thing that can break down the phytic acid. I did an insane amount of research to learn more about this fascinating topic and you can read more about what I learned in my blog: The Dangers of Phytic Acid and What to Do About It.
  • Where can I find some good sourdough recipes? Well, I’m glad you asked! It just so happens that I have a collection of my favorite sourdough recipes here.
Embracing Motherhood How to Make Sourdough Muffins

How to Make Sourdough Muffins

I have tried so many different recipes for sourdough bread, and I never found anything that really worked (or that I really liked) until I stumbled across this recipe and found the perfect solution! Who needs to make loaves of bread when you can have these perfect, single size, delicious little muffins? We love eating them toasted for breakfast with butter or cream cheese, as an “English muffin” for an egg sandwich, with lunch meat and cheese for a portable school lunch, or as a bun for hamburgers. Everyone who comes over LOVES these muffins!

The sourdough process is extremely beneficial for your health because it is the best way to get rid of the phytic acid in the grain. Phytic acid prevents us from absorbing phosphorus and it leaches valuable minerals from our bodies. (Read my blog: The Dangers of Phytic Acid and What to Do About It to learn more.) It also breaks down the sugars in the grain which makes it easier to digest.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. Sourdough Starter (Blog Post: Sourdough Starter Recipe)
  • 2 c. Raw Milk (Blog Post: Why We Drink Raw Milk)
  • 4 c. Fresh Ground Flour (I get my wheat berries here, but you can find some similar here too. I use this grinder. You could also just buy some organic sprouted grain flour here.)
  • *2 T. Raw Honey (Optional: It helps to neutralize the sour flavor. Get some here.)
  • 1 ½ t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here, you can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • 2 t. Baking Soda (Optional too, I think it just helps them rise a bit better.)
  • Coconut Oil (To grease your hands and the pans. This coconut oil would be best, but on our budget, I buy this.)

Materials

  • Mixing bowl
  • Towel or saran wrap
  • Stirring utensil
  • Baking sheet (I use the standard baking sheets I’ve had forever, but in a perfect world where money was no option, I would love some stone baking ware like this.)

Directions

Part 1: Mix it Up and Let it Sit

  1. Mix together the sourdough starter and the milk. I usually don’t mix it until it is completely dissolved, I just try to stir it up for a bit to make sure it mixes more evenly when the flour is added.
  2. *Add the honey. If you are going to add the honey, now would be a good time. My raw honey is usually solid at room temperature, so I put it in a glass cup and microwave it until it melts. (I added this when I first started making these to cut down on the sour flavor, but now that my family is used to it, I don’t add this anymore!)
  3. Add the flour until you achieve a solid, but pliable consistency. When you use freshly ground flour, it has plenty of phytase that will break down the phytic acid. (Read more about the dangers of phytic acid here.) If you don’t have the time to grind it fresh every time you use it, you can always leave your flour in a sealed container on your countertop at room temperature. Just don’t freeze it or it will kill the phytase.

    Sourdough Ingredients All Mixed Together

    Sourdough Ingredients All Mixed Together

  4. Cover with a towel (or saran wrap) and leave in a warm undisturbed place for 8 hours. It is best if it can be slightly warm during this process (but not over 90°F). I usually just tuck mine away on the counter during the warmer days, but if it’s cold, I’ll put it on top of the stove and turn on the stove to like 200°F.
  5. *Notes: If you’re just starting to get your family used to the taste of sourdough, I would start out only letting it sit for a few hours. This will still be enough time for the sourdough to break down some of the phytic acid. Then, you can gradually increase the time to 8 hours, and you can even leave it overnight if that’s more convenient. If you set it out and 8 hours later, you’re not ready to make your muffins, pop it into the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Part 2: Make Your Muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Get the dough ready. The dough mixture should have risen to almost double its size by this time, and you’ll need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to loosen the mixture before dumping it onto your countertop. (*If it didn’t rise, it probably wasn’t warm enough, or maybe the starter isn’t good anymore.)
  3. Add dry ingredients and knead. Sprinkle your salt and baking soda on top of your lump, grease up your hands with some coconut oil, and knead the dough to mix everything in. *If your dough is too soupy, you can add a little bit of flour at a time until its more stiff and pliable. **It is very important that you don’t add the salt until the end because it hinders the fermentation process. You don’t want to skip it though because it tightens the gluten structure and prevents the dough from getting too sticky. 

    Sourdough Mixture Ready to Make Muffins

    Sourdough Mixture Ready to Make Muffins

  4. Grease the baking sheets. I like to use coconut oil.
  5. Make dough blobs. Make sure your hands stay nice and greased up with coconut oil and then pull apart a little blobs of the dough, roll them in your hands until they are formed into nice little cookie dough balls, and place them on the baking sheets. (This recipe should make enough for two sheets of muffins.)

    Rolling Dough Into Balls (Yes, my pans are atrocious!)

    Rolling Dough Into Balls (Yes, my pans are atrocious!)

  6. Flatten the blobs. Use the palm of your hand to press them down, and then even out with your fingers.

    Flattened Out Muffins

    Flattened Out Muffins

  7. Place the muffins sheets on top of the warm oven. Cover with some towels and leave them to rise for about an hour. (If you don’t have an oven underneath your stove, you can turn your stove to warm and place them inside with the door open.)

    two trays of sourdough muffins covered with towels so they'll rise

    Covered Sourdough Muffins

  8. Bake at 350˚F for 10 minutes.
  9. Place in Ziploc bags and store in the fridge or freezer. I like to cut them in half and toast them or use for sandwiches, English muffins, hamburgers, etc.

    Homemade Sourdough Muffins Fresh Out of the Oven

    Sourdough Muffins Fresh Out of the Oven

*I adapted this recipe from The Fresh Loaf, which is a GREAT resource for all bread making.

Tips and Tricks

Cutting these little buggers in half can be a little tricky, but my husband came up with a way that works really well even on the thinnest of muffins. First of all, hold the muffin up on its side and insert just the tip of the knife all around the edges (almost like you’re scoring it). Then, gently saw back and forth while rotating the muffin in a circular motion until you get to the middle. Walla!

cutting technique for homemade sourdough muffins

How to Cut These Sourdough Muffins

These muffins are kind of little, so they can get stuck in a toaster. I prefer making them in my toaster oven.

Toasted Sourdough Muffins with Butter

Toasted Sourdough Muffins with Butter

These muffins taste great with an egg sandwich, with scrambled eggs, or my favorite…sunny side up eggs!

Check out my sourdough starter recipe here, or take a peek at some of my other sourdough recipes like these sourdough pancakes and sourdough pizza crust.