Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pineapple Cheeseball

Here's an easy "real food" appetizer (or easy lunch idea):

Pineapple Cheeseball

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
2 Tablespoons chopped green bell pepper
1 Tablespoon Real seasoned salt (I get mine at Azure Standard)
2 cups chopped pecans, divided

Mix together the first five ingredients plus 1 cup of the chopped pecans.

At this point, I scrape as much off the sides of the bowl as I can to form a somewhat spherical mound in the bottom of the bowl. Then I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour. Once the cream cheese has firmed up a bit, I carefully add the remaining pecans, pouring with one hand and with the other, pressing them into the cheese. I also save some for the bottom once I've removed the cheeseball from the bowl.

The pecans that fall to the side in the bowl get mushed into the cheese as I form the ball with my hands. I then turn it upside down in the bowl and add the last of the pecans. Keep refrigerated.

I like this cheeseball best with good, sturdy crackers. If you haven't tried these homemade soaked crackers, they're worth a try. My kids adore them!! Just be sure to roll them reeeeally thin. And I add quite a bit more salt than the recommended amount. Just 'cause I like salt. Enjoy!

This post was originally posted at Real Food in Little Rock and is linked up today at Works for Me Wednesday and Real Food Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole

I made a gigantic sweet potato casserole for our Seder Feast last weekend and received lots of compliments. Mostly 'cause...DUDE, you can't go wrong with sweet potatoes. 

But sweet potatoes with a sweet, crunchy topping??!! Well, what's not to love??

I haven't the first picture, though. Because I made this last weekend when I kept forgetting my camera, so.....sorry. (Maybe I'll add one later.)

But I wanted to get this posted for those of you who might be interested in something yummy and festive for your Easter holiday celebrations.

Okay. Here goes.

Start with approximately 8-15 medium to large sweet potatoes. I know that's vague, but I don't really know how else to tell you. You want somewhere around 8 cups of cooked sweet potato, skins removed. I used about 15 medium-sized potatoes. But once cooked, I certainly didn't measure out 8 cups of potato. (I was in too much of a hurry.) So there's really no telling how much was in there. Could have been as much as ten cups! I guess that's what your "taster's" for. 

Wash the potatoes and then bake them at 300 degrees for 3 to 4 hours. (P.S. I don't poke holes in them.) The longer and lower you bake them, the better, in general. Many sweet potato casserole recipes will tell you to boil the potatoes, but A) that's a good way to lose a lot of nutrients; and B) baking helps to concentrate the natural sugars in the potato. And when you eat a sweet potato, don't you want it...umm...sweet?! 

If you've got time to kill, let the potatoes cool before handling them. (Your fingers will thank me later.) Slice 'em open and scrape the skins with a spoon until you've got as much potato pulp out as possible. 

I put the pulp into my KitchenAid mixer with the whisk attachment and then whisk on medium speed. (You could do the same with a hand-held mixer.) After a few minutes, detach the whisk and rinse it off in the sink. You'll see that all those pesky potato strings that sweet potatoes are often notorious for will be wrapped around the whisk. Get all that gunk off under running water and do the whole thing again several times, stopping every minute to minute-and-a-half to rinse the whisk. (You'll probably think you're losing a lot of potato, but really it's mostly just stringy stuff that you won't want in your casserole.) 

At this point, you might want to switch to a regular paddle attachment, so you won't incorporate any more air into your dish than you already have.  :)  Or, if using a hand-held, just go ahead and switch to a big ol' spoon. 

Now add 3/4 cup sugar. I used organic cane sugar. You could use Sucanat. But your potatoes will be extra brown-looking. I sort of figured 3/4 cup is not that much considering how big this casserole is. Besides, this is soooooo a special occasion dish. So, sugar it up, people!! Add more if it's not sweet enough for you. (I didn't. I was exercising great self-control.) 

Mix in the sugar, 4 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 softened stick of butter (1/2 pound), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 4 heaping teaspoons cinnamon. (If you like nutmeg and cloves, they'd be good in this, too. But I left mine simple and straightforward.) NOW. Fold in a couple handfuls of raisins. Oh, maybe about a cup. Cup and a half. Something like that. Trust me. The little bursts of sweetness in every bite or so will make you very happy. (Unless you're my sister-in-law who doesn't like raisins. She'd probably say "hates," but that's such a strong word, don't you think?) 

Make sure the mixture is smooth-ish and then pour it into a huge casserole dish.

Next, in a medium bowl, mix 1 cup packed brown sugar (or Muscavado, which is what I used) and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour. Cut in 6 tablespoons softened butter until the mixture is coarse. Then stir in 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (my choice because I had a huge bag of them in my freezer). 

Sprinkle the nut mixture over the sweet potato mixture, spreading evenly. 

Things to keep in mind:

  1. This size recipe really needs a gigantic casserole dish. I don't have a gigantic one, at least not in length and width. I have a really deep one, which held this recipe nicely. But it didn't give as much surface area for the topping to be thin enough on top, so it took longer to bake. Here's something to go by, HALF of this recipe fits in a 9x13" casserole. So. If you're gonna make the big one, you're gonna need a bigger dish, Sweetie Pie.  ;)
  2. The topping WILL want to stick to the edges, especially if you have to cook it quite a while (as I did). Lightly buttering the sides of the dish will solve that problem.
  3. Lots of recipes call for milk as well. I ONLY use milk when my potatoes are ultra thick. I have found, however, that with this amount of butter AND all the air I whip into them, the potatoes are quite soupy when it's time to pour into the casserole. (They will thicken up a bit during baking.) I don't think milk is necessary, and I would much rather have a thicker casserole than a runny one.
  4. I would cut this recipe in half if I were making it for just my family. (Even with company coming.) Just FYI.

Now bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for at least 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned.

Sweet Potato Casserole

8 cups sweet potato 
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 heaping teaspoons cinnamon
1-1 1/2 cups raisins

   1 cup packed brown sugar
   2/3 cup all-purpose flour
   6 tablespoons butter, softened
   1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Bake at 325 degrees for 30+ minutes.

Serves 24
(Yes, it does! Twenty stinkin' four.)

This is part of Works for Me Wednesday.

Project 365: Week 16

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Popcorn Night Aftermath

Monday, April 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to Noah!!! Nine years old today! Where did the time go??

We went out for sushi, his favorite. 

The others enjoyed fried rice and veggies. 

I love that Noah still has tons of fun opening gifts. (Read: He's not too grown up yet.)

We got him this mp3 player, recommended for kids.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The family that showers together...

...looks cute together.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I had to go to traffic court today thanks to the wreck I had a while back. Ugh. (Took this picture with my phone and while looking directly into sunlight. Couldn't see what I was doing and didn't realize I left off the word "Little." Oh, well. You get the gist.)

Tonight we had Brussels sprouts. Here they are coated in coconut oil, generously sprinkled with Real Salt, waiting to be roasted in the oven. Yum!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I caught Saylor reading to the boys before nap time.

And then some neighbor friends came over to play.

Tonight we had bad storms and tornado warnings, which meant a night of sirens, me on the couch watching weather radars, and four children under our stairs for thirty minutes and then awake for another solid hour! In other words, it was a long night!! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

I did somehow manage to wake up early and get a batch of Brookies baked for a nice, big breakfast for Noah. He had to do standardized testing for homeschoolers this morning. 

While we waited for Noah to get done, somebody (whose initials are "Atticus Davidson") had a plan to get himself some more Brookies!

After the long test we blew off a little steam on this playground.

Finally, after a crazy day, I went to the Living Proof Live conference!! But I forgot my camera. Doggone it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

More Beth Moore this morning. But I STILL forgot my camera!!! Stink!

Paul ran errands with the kids while I was gone this morning. He took a picture of this tree uprooted in our friend's neighbor's yard. This is just a taste of the damage done in Little Rock during Thursday night's storm!

Late this afternoon we headed to a friend's house to do a Christian Seder with our community group. It was such a rich, meaningful time.

And fun, too...!

(Thanks to the Houks for these pictures. Because. Ahem. You guessed it. I forgot my camera AGAIN! Good grief.)

Sorry for posting so late, but I've had far too much going on. Far. too. much. Such is April. I've been telling people lately that April is the new May!! It seems everything has shifted to April now. (Not that May is any lighter.) Oh, well. Maybe Sara and company know what I'm talking about.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Needs a Menu


Breakfast: Strawberry kefir smoothies, cinnamon toast
Lunch: Leftovers from Seder Feast
Dinner: Soup from freezer
  To do: Begin baking ribs


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, fruit
Lunch: Four-cheese toasted sandwiches, fruit
Dinner: Ribs, baked sweet potatoes, salad
  To do: Soak rice, thaw hot dogs, soak muffin batter


Breakfast: Strawberry kefir smoothies, soaked muffins
Lunch: Hot dogs, guacamole w/ chips, fruit
Dinner: Stir fry
  To do: Soak beans


Breakfast: Cheesy scrambled eggs, buttered toast, fruit
  To do: Soak oats for granola
Lunch: Peanut butter sandwiches, carrots
Dinner: Brown beans (crock pot) and cornbread, sweet potato fries


Breakfast: Soaked waffles, fruit
  To do: Bake granola
Lunch: Don't know. Something quick and easy. Busy day.
Dinner: Frozen pizza  (See above entry.)


Breakfast: Soaked granola, bananas
Lunch: Arkansas Earth Day Festival
Dinner: TBD  (This, by the way, is usually code for 'Daddy comes up with something, because Mommy is on a kitchen break.')
  To do:  Mix up and refrigerate casserole


Breakfast: (Easter) Brunch Casserole, fruit
Lunch: (May be showing our house, so we will hopefully eat out. Maybe even with friends.)
Dinner: Popcorn Night

Join in with your menus!!!

Seeds Winners!!!!!

Took me a while, I know. But y'all are probably used to that by now. 

Hey, give me a break. I've been busy with taxes and the like! But you'll be happy to know I have indeed filed. And I even managed to do a load of laundry over the past couple of weeks. heh heh

Noah helped me assign points, and he even got the illustrious job of clicking the "Generate" button on's number generator. You should have seen him. It was quite exciting!! (Noah says "hi," by the way.)

Winners are........................

#21, #37, #55, and #67!!!!!!


Wait. That probably doesn't help you much.  ;)

How about...

Shonda, Erin (Anonymous commenter), Jenny, and Kimberly V??!!!

That better?

Soooooooo exciting!!!

I will be contacting you ladies ASAP.

For all those who didn't win, be sure and check out the Seeds Family Worship website and order some CDs for your kids' birthdays, Christmas gifts, etc.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

(Christmas) Brunch Casserole

You've probably already got two questions just from reading the title.

1. Is it Christmas already?

And 2. Based on past posts, does this girl love breakfast or what?? (See this recipe and this recipe for a little taste (get it?) of my obsession.)

Well, no, it's not Christmas. (And my pocket book is thankful.) But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a holiday family tradition any ol' time! (Granted, it's MY family's holiday tradition; maybe not yours.)

But, yes. I do love me some breakfast. Oh, I do.

In fact, I love breakfast so much I sometimes want it for supper! Talk about comfort food!!

You may already have this recipe or one similar. But I do mine "real food" style. It's one of those recipes that happens to be E-A-S-Y to adapt to my family's standards. As you may know, that's not always the case. This one is simply a matter of quality ingredients: raw milk, pastured eggs, raw cheese, sourdough bread, grass-fed breakfast sausage. The recipe itself is quick and easy. If you want it for breakfast, do the mixing the night before. If you want it for supper, do the mixing that morning.

1. Brown a pound of sausage over medium heat.

2. While the sausage is cooking, cube six slices of sourdough bread. I use sourdough over other breads because it absorbs the egg as well as white bread (which the original recipe calls for) and looks appetizing in the dish. (Whole wheat bread retains its brown color, so you end up with big brown chunks in your egg casserole. Not that that's extremely important, but...) Besides, some would argue sourdough bread is healthier because of the natural leavening process, as opposed to the use of commercial yeast in other breads. Not to mention the fact that it's a fermented food.

3. Next, lightly beat eight eggs in a large mixing bowl. (Can you guess which two hens didn't eat as many bugs??)

4. To the beaten eggs, add two cups milk, the cubed bread, the sausage (after draining), one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon dry mustard, and a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. (Yes, that's cheddar.)

5. Mix well and then pour into a well-greased 9x13" casserole.

6. Now the wait begins. Cover the casserole and place in the refrigerator overnight or approximately eight hours before you plan to cook and eat it.

7. When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. I usually set my casserole out on the counter for a while prior to and during the preheating of the oven so it can come more to room temperature before baking. Bake for 35 minutes. Serves 8 to 10. Goes great with a fruit salad at dinner or with the "full spread" at a brunch.

(Sorry I forgot to take an "after" picture. I was too busy stuffing my face.)

Easier-to-read version:

Christmas Brunch Casserole

1 pound sausage, cooked (preferably grass-fed)
6 slices bread, cubed (preferably sourdough)
8 eggs, slightly beaten (preferably pastured)
2 cups milk (preferably raw)
1 cup shredded or grated cheddar cheese (preferably raw)
1 teaspoon salt (preferably Real Salt)
1 teaspoon dry mustard

Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased 9 x 13" pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.

Originally posted at Real Food in Little Rock.

Speaking of food...I've been posting my weekly menu plans (to help myself become more organized). I even have two others linked up with me!!  If you blog, perhaps you'll consider linking up with your own menu plans! (Hey. Even if you DON'T blog, you can still link up. Email me to find out how.) Do it your own way. I plan all three meals on a weekly basis, others plan dinner only but for two weeks at a time. Anything goes!  Let me know if you're interested!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Needs a Menu

Link up with your own menu below!!


Breakfast: Cinnamon apples, made-to-order eggs, bacon

Lunch: Kefir smoothies, four-cheese toasted sandwiches

Dinner: Stir fry cashew chicken, Brussels sprouts


Breakfast: Cheese quesadillas, fruit

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Layered taco salad

  To do: Soak grains for breakfast tomorrow


Breakfast: Homemade cream of wheat, fruit

  To do: Boil eggs

Lunch: Hard-boiled eggs, cheese, carrots, bananas with flax seed meal

Dinner: Hamburger soup, cornbread

  To do: Soak beans


Breakfast: Scrambled eggs, cinnamon toast

  To do: Start beans cooking in crock pot

Lunch: Mac-n-cheese, carrots, fruit

  To do: Soak flour for Brookies

Dinner: Beans, cornbread, baked sweet potatoes


Breakfast: Brookies, fruit, scrambled eggs

 To do: Soak batter for waffles

Lunch: Peanut butter sandwiches, fruit

Dinner: Pizza


Breakfast: Soaked waffles, fruit

Lunch: TBD

Dinner: Seder Feast with Community Group


Breakfast: Something quick and easy

Lunch: TBD

Dinner: Popcorn night

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