Olive Garden Style Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Olive Garden Style Chicken and Gnocchi Soup with homemade chicken broth, chicken, fresh veggies and homemade gnocchi.  Includes gluten free gnocchi recipe.

Olive Garden Style Chicken and Gnocchi Soup is something my boys enjoy on the rare occasions we eat out. It didn’t seem overly complicated, so I went hunting on the internet and came up with two recipes. Neither seemed quite right to me, so I combined the two and tweaked it a little, and this is the result.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.  It’s great for using up leftover chicken and mashed potatoes, too.  I’ve also added a gluten free gnocchi recipe, so the recipe can be made with or without gluten. [Read more…]

Cranberry Chestnut Bars

Cranberry Chestnut Bars Recipe made with roasted chestnuts or chestnut flour, pumpkin, cinnamon and dried cranberries.  Gluten free, grain free, dairy free.

Some of you may remember that we planted some chestnut trees last year as part of our efforts to expand the number of different food crops that we grow and create part of our permaculture landscape.  Before we planted any more of them, I figured I’d better make sure we actually like to eat them, so I went hunting for chestnut recipes and chestnuts.  Costco had some organic roasted chestnuts for sale, so that covered the nut end of things, and these Maple Pumpkin Blondies from The Healthy Gluten Free Life looked like something my family would be willing to eat, so I started from there and made a few tweaks to work with our flavor preferences and pantry contents.  I’m rechristening my version as “Cranberry Chestnut Bars”, because the texture is nothing like a proper blondie (no offense to THGFL – they are just not blondies).  These bars have a texture more like really good quickbread – moist and tender, a little bit heavier than most cakes.  The cranberries add brightness to the recipe – a little “pop” of flavor.  They’d be great without the chocolate chips, too, but of course the boys are more likely to gobble things up if there’s chocolate involved. [Read more…]

8 Herbal Coffee Alternatives, Including 2 You Can Grow

8 Herbal Coffee Alternatives, Including 2 You Can Grow - Check out these natural, caffeine free, herbal coffee alternatives for a healthier morning habit or a warm and toasty drink that won't keep you up at night.

When I mentioned I was writing a post on herbal coffee alternatives, my eldest quipped, “Isn’t that called, ‘tea’?”  Not being a coffee drinker, the boy simply doesn’t understand the finer aspects of coffee drinking.  There’s just something about that rich, earthy brew that calls to me on cold winter mornings.  I drink plenty of regular and herbal tea, but coffee is an altogether different beverage category.

In the interest of being a little kinder to my liver and adrenal glands, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of herbal coffee substitutes without caffeine.  Do any of them taste exactly like America’s favorite morning caffeine hit?  Nope.  Are they reasonably tasty?  You bet!  Plus if you’re so inclined, they are a great way to help ween yourself off of your coffee habit.  Just start with mostly coffee and a small amount of herbal coffee, and gradually increase the amount of herbal coffee while decreasing the amount of regular coffee each day until you’re switched over to herbal.  [Read more…]

How to Make Kolache

How to Make Kolache, a lightly sweetened Czech pastry

Kolache, kolace, kolach, or kolacky -

No matter how you spell it,just about everyone enjoys these tasty treats.  My momma taught me how to make kolache the way I do in this post, but there are many different shapes, sizes and fillings.  From  rounds to folded pockets, hand sized to pie-sized, sweet to savory, your imagination seems to be the limit.  Most sources seem to agree that the name “kolache” (however you spell it) comes from the Czech word for “cookie”.  As for the origin of kolache, no one is really certain, but this story from the Polish Art Center is sweet: [Read more…]

Troubleshooting Tips to Help You Bake the Perfect Loaf of Bread

Have trouble baking homemade bread? Get answers to the most common bread baking questions to help you turn baking flops into bread you'll love.

I got a phone call from an old friend yesterday.  As we were talking, his recent bread baking mishaps came up.  He told me, “Next time we’re over for a visit, you have to show me how to bake bread.  I’ve been trying, but one loaf of bread was flat, another loaf of bread looked great and then in caved in, and I just can’t get my bread to turn out right.”  Since he and the family won’t be able to come and visit until summer, I decided to write up a list of troubleshooting tips to help you bake the perfect loaf of bread, or at least bread that won’t do double duty as a door stop.  We’re going to tackle things in a question and answer format, so hopefully if there’s a question you’ve run into while bread baking, you’ll find it in the list. [Read more…]