Category Archives: Outside of the Box

Mom’s Beef Pot Roast – Paleo Style.

Mom's beef pot roast paleoIn 2011 I made some of my mom’s recipes for the blog. They are family recipes that hold a nostalgic soft spot in my heart, but they do include prepared food items as well as grain and dairy derived ingredients. These are things I do not eat anymore, and in fact, neither does my mom. So for myself, the blog, and mostly for her, I have remade one of her classics as a paleo dish (the recipe…not the process, I still use a crock pot, no camp fires for this girl). Yes, I know, it does still have high carb regular old potatoes in it, but once in a while, I think a homegrown organic potato is completely acceptable. Otherwise, this is the old standby now featured without dairy, GMOs, grains, and a million other corn based “food” stuffs. And while I am the first to admit this is not something you need to be eating every day, it is nice to have a childhood favorite made in a healthy manner so that it is available for those special, nostalgic occasions.

So, let’s start with the original recipe, because you are going to use this recipe and simply substitute the canned cream of mushroom soup and the package of onion soup mix. I did add more carrots and less potatoes (and if you want you could add some parsnips or other root veggies). Oh and I also used a 100% grass fed, USDA organic chuck roast, Yum! My roast came from TX Bar Organics and was only 2 pounds, but do not fret, it turned out just fine with the smaller roast (if you are looking to feed more mouths, use two roasts).

Original Recipe: Please click here!

I was first inspired to remake this recipe by a paleo cream of mushroom soup recipe that I used on Christmas Eve. I have made it a couple of times since for other dishes and the only thing I did a little differently this time was to make it thicker (just add a little more starch) than I had in the past, so that it would hold up through 8 hours in the crock pot.  I also made a double batch of soup (we like gravy!). I put the soup in the refrigerator overnight so that it would be as solid as possible going into the crock. I did not measure when I added it to the crock, I just used all of what I made. The cream of mushroom soup recipe is here (I am not posting the whole recipe on my page because you should most definitely click through and check out And Love it Too): Please click here!

A few other changes I have tested with this recipe that may be helpful to know.

  • If you are looking to make this gluten free, not paleo and don’t use coconut flour, brown rice flour works very well.
  • If you do not use arrowroot powder (I personally do not prefer the flavor) tapioca starch works beautifully.
  • If you want to better control the level of coconut flavor you get in your final product and do not mind using refrigerated coconut milk (I know many people will not use it, this is just an FYI), the recipe works fine with regular, unsweetened refrigerated coconut milk.
  • Again, for controlling the coconut flavor, use refined coconut oil (however, I have tried both and I taste no discernible difference).

The second change to the recipe is to make an onion soup replacement. Here is what I made, storing it in an airtight container so I can shake it up before using. I used five tablespoons in this dish. Ingredients (which you can play with of course!): 2/3 cup dried, minced onion, 3 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, 2 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

And there you have it. Mom’s beef pot roast, no packaging needed. Oooh, this is fun! I am enjoying reinventing past posts on my blog with a grain and dairy free approach.



Filed under Beef, Crock Pot Cooking, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Midwest Inspired, Mom's Recipes, Outside of the Box, Paleo

Soda Replacement Project: DIY Sarsparilla Root Extract – Second Taste.

This is three days late, Sorry! The sarsparilla extract still tastes very much of vodka, but the sarsparilla flavor is very prevalent. It also smells very good on my hands after the alcohol evaporates. Once the stuffy nose that the hubs and I both have goes away we will give it a try with some water kefir and let you know what we think.

Happy extracting!


Filed under Beverages, Dairy Free, DIY, Outside of the Box, Vegan, Vegetarian

Chickpea & Rice Crackers.

We all know that good crackers are expensive. Last year for Thanksgiving, I resolved to make my own to go with our cheese and meat tray. I made the ones that Paula Deen makes. They use a stick of butter…needless to say, they were vry good and I never made them again.

This past weekend. the hubs and I were on a healthy snack kick, wanting something light to have on hand through the holidays. We made the kale chips you probably saw earlier this week. We also made these cinnamon apples, made by Lori over at Lori’s Latest – And other tales from the homestead. These crackers were an afterthought, born of the lack of good gluten free crackers at the store. There are a few we really like, a rice cracker and a lentil cracker, but we were looking for something new and the hubs recommended using the chickpea flour we have. Wondering what to combine with it, we thought that maybe the crisp rice we have would work. Turns out, it did. These are not 100% gluten free as I used AP flour for my work surface, but our choice to avoid gluten is not born of any allergies, it is a conscious decision to avoid too much of any one food: meat, corn, wheat, gluten, sugar, salt, and the list goes on. Moderation is much healthier.

Chickpea & Brown Rice Crackers. (Inspired by Alton Brown’s Seedy Crisps)


5 oz chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

5 oz ground puffed rice (I used Perky’s Crunchy Rice)

1 1/2 t kosher salt

1 1/2 t aluminum free baking powder (I use this one in all of my baking)

1 t dried thyme

1/2 t granulated garlic

3 T olive oil

6-8 oz water

flour for kneading and working (I used AP, however, if you are making these gluten free, use a gluten free flour)

olive oil and sea salt


Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl with a fork. Make sure that all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add oil and mix to combine. Add 6 oz of water, if the dough is too dry add a little more. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead several times to fully combine flour into the wet dough. Divide into two balls and cover with a towel to rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Roll dough out to 1/8 inch. Using a pastry brush, brush the surface lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cut the dough into crackers (I used a bench knife, but any knife or pastry cutter will work). Place the crackers on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes. Flip crackers and bake for 6 minutes more.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.


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Filed under Appetizer, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Outside of the Box, Vegan, Vegetarian

“Super Food” Kale Chips.

With Christmas travel coming up, the hubs and I were seeking some healthy snacks that keep well without refrigeration and that will keep us away from fast food temptations. We were browsing around at the store and saw some kale chips that looked really good. The only problem was that for a 3 ounce bag of the healthy goodness, they get you for $6.99, so yeah, we were not going to buy those. So instead we ran around the grocery store collecting ingredients to make our own.

Here is what we came up with. It is one of those recipes where I wish I was a dietitian so I would know more about just how good it is for me.

“Super Food” Kale Chips.


1 large golden beet (about .5 lb)

1/2 lb kale (I used the pretty purple kind)

1/4 lb spinach

1 t kosher salt

1 t granulated garlic

1/2 t chili powder

1 T coconut oil (heated to liquify in the microwave)

1 t toasted sesame seed oil

2 T chickpea flour, heaping (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1/8 C flax seeds (I used brown)


Roast golden beet at 400 degrees until soft (about 1 hour) — the easiest way to do this is to set the beet, skin and all, in the center of a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Close up foil and place the beet in the middle of the oven rack. When the beet is soft, remove and allow to cool in foil for about 20 minutes, or until it is cool enough to handle. Cut the ends off the beet and he skin should peel right off with your fingers. If it is stubborn, just use a vegetable peeler.

Prep kale and spinach by washing them. Remove the woody ends of the kale stems, but leave the rest there. Rough chop the kale so that the food processor doesn’t have too hard a time with the big leaves. Add all ingredients except the chickpea flour and flax seeds to the food processor and process until everything is completely chopped up. You may need to rock the processor just a little to get all of the kale leaves broken down.

Move the mixture to a large mixing bowl and  add the flour and flax seeds. Mix to combine. Add one tablespoon at a time to your dehydrator trays. Be sure to use the solid trays. Flatten the dollops and make sure you space them so they are not touching.

My dehydrator only has an on setting. Even the manufacturers website and manual do not state the temperature that it dehydrates at. But you can see what I use here. I think that it is about 120 degrees. We used two different methods for measuring the temp and that is the average we are getting. I dehydrated my chips for 10 hours, turning after 7, but I think they were too thick and turned them only to make them cook faster. If you make them thinner, I would bet that you are sitting at about 6-8.



Filed under Dairy Free, DIY, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Nuts/Seeds, Outside of the Box, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Homemade Relish.

We made a couple of jars of refrigerator pickle rounds with some late season cucumbers. They are not traditional dill, but I did not write down the recipe, so unfortunately I cannot share it and I cannot replicate it. They are fairly sweet and I know for sure they contain white vinegar, water, sugar, canning salt, celery seed, dil seed, chili d’Arbol, and cloves of garlic. Most of our refrigerator pickles turned out too sour this year so we were pleasantly surprised after opening these that they were quite delicious. They were the perfect flavor for some relish. You can make this with any pickles you have around, store bought or otherwise.

Homemade Relish. Makes 1/2 cup of relish.


1/4 C cucumber pickles

3 cloves of pickled garlic

1 T onion (pickled if you have it)

1/2 t dried or fresh dill


Mince ingredients. Store in an airtight container for three to five days. If you want this to last longer use all pickled ingredients and dried dill. Then you will likely get about two weeks out of it, if not longer.


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Filed under Condiments and Seasonings, Dairy Free, From the Garden, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Outside of the Box, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

DIY Yard Dog Treats.

People with pets understand the urge to dote on them. Especially if they have super sweet, soulful eyes. They look at you and you melt and want to feed them what ever you are eating…Our yard dogs have parents with strong wills. They get three kinds of treats.

1. Veg scrap. They sit at the edge of the kitchen and wait patiently for me to drop scraps of carrots or peppers. Or on a really good day, they get a piece of zucchini tossed to them. When we have too much of something they will get a little in their food dishes with dinner.

2. Ground peanuts. 1 teaspoon a day in their kongs as they are put into the kennel.

3. Dried sweet potatoes. This is the best dog treat we have found. About three years ago we switched exclusively to these and stopped buying dog treats. Dog treats are filled with chemicals, mystery ingredients, and empty calories. These are simply sliced and dried sweet potatoes. Simple as that.

Dried Sweet Potatoes.

Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch slices, arrange in a single layer and dry them overnight, maybe 8-10 hours in the food dehydrator. We just have a cheapy one, but it works wonderfully for this as the potatoes keep in a sealed jar for months. If you dry them too long they will be brittle, and too little they will be bendy (and will mold). Perfectly done they will be hard, just hard and solid, you won’t feel any give if you try to bend them. **You can likely do this in the oven, I have just never tried. I have also made all of the mistakes that I warn against above, so you will have to keep trying if you don’t get it right the first time!


How do you “treat” your yard dogs?


Filed under DIY, Outside of the Box, Pups

Chicken Pot Pie Soup.

Three words: chicken.pot.pie. Does that not entice wonderful thoughts of dark evenings, warm fires, and quiety falling snow outside? It does for me. It is the blanket of all foods, warm and cozy, it wraps your insides in in the equivalent of a down parka. Chicken pot pie reminds me of being a child, it carries a warm sense of nostalgia with it.

Well, this did not actually turn out as chicken pot pie. I have execution issues with this dish, I always have and this rendition was no different. I thought I had it in the bag. I was going to use my homemade cream of chicken soup as the creamy base for the gravy. Only one problem…the base of my cream of chicken soup is broth…not congealing chemicals and corn by-products…so the result was brothy! I ended up with a fantastic chicken soup that was topped with a gorgeous puff pastry. It was absolutely delicious. Have no fear, I will be back with chicken pot pie at some point, but today I give it to you in soup form. Just another warm, comfort food for fall!

Chicken Pot Pie Soup.


1 1/2 C homemade cream of chicken soup

1 chicken breast, cooked and small diced

1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

1 large potato, finely diced

4 crimini mushrooms, finely chopped

1 stalk of celery, finely chopped

1 small onion, small diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper

1 t dried thyme

1 piece of puff pastry, thawed if frozen

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine all ingredients except puff pastry and butter in a large mixing bowl. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray and fill with mixture. Cover with puff pastry.

Place in preheated oven and cover with a foil tent. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 25-35 minutes longer, until the puff pastry is puffed and golden brown.


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Filed under Casseroles/Bakes, Chicken, Midwest Inspired, Outside of the Box, Vegetables

Smoked Cream of Celery Soup.

Do you ever make something really good, but find yourself at a loss for how to use it all? I did exactly that with last year’s Thanksgiving duck. We smoked the duck to serve alongside our grilled turkey. It was very good, and I rendered the fat, and that was very good…especially in gravy. And then I made broth out of the bones and skin, and put it in the freezer…and left it there. What exactly does one do with a delicacy like smoked duck broth? Well, I have determined if they are doing anything, most people are not posting it on the internet!

So as the world turns and the autumn air brings in a desire for warm, comfort food, I started thinking about soup. I found this bacon cream of celery soup over on The Kitchn and started thinking about my smoked duck broth. If smoky bacon tastes good in this soup, smoked duck broth should too. And it does! It tastes so good, in fact, that I am no longer intimidated by the duck broth, instead, I am going to see what else I can make with it.

Smoked Cream of Celery Soup.


4 thick cut strips of bacon

5 C celery, chopped into 1 inch long pieces

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 large or 2 small/medium shallots, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 T fresh thyme, removed from stems

1 large potato, cubed

2 C smoked duck broth (can sub smoked chicken or turkey)

2 C chicken broth

2 C milk (you can experiement with how fatty you get-1%, 2% or whole, the soup is pretty creamy without the milk, so you could even try leaving it out)

kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat a large stock pot over medium heat. Ass bacon slices and cook slowly until done. Remove bacon and set aside and chop when cool. Add celery, onion, shallot, garlic, and thyme. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the celery is soft. Add potato and broth. Increase heat to medium-high, bring pot to a simmer, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Remove from heat. Using an immersion circulator puree until smooth. You can use a blender here, but I highly recommend purchasing the immersion circulator…less chance of burning yourself.

Fold milk and bacon into soup. Serve hot with your favorite garnish.


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Filed under Appetizer, Outside of the Box, Side Dish, Smoker Fare, Snacks, Soup/Stew

Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Granola.

As the granola kick continues…yes the hubs can eat the same thing every day from here to eternity…I thought I would mix it up a bit. While he never tires of eating it, I get bored just making the same kind every time! So this time around I mixed it up with an oatmeal inspiration, cinnamon and brown sugar oatmeal was a favorite as a child and I thought that since granola is basically the same thing that it would be just as tasty in this form. I also threw in some nuts, seeds, and chocolate for good measure.

I have to say, if you like cinnamon and brown sugar, this is the granola for you. This stuff is really good! It is also as close as I have gotten to making something that might stay together like a granola bar. Because I had set out to make granola for the hubs yogurt, I broke this all up, but I think I will make this again and stick with the bars, probably for upcoming road trip. The taste is very similar to the Nature’s Valley Cinnamon bars, which are a great snack when on the road.

Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Granola.


3 C rolled oats

1 C walnut halves, rough chopped

1/2 C brown sugar

1/3 C brown flax seeds

1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 t ground cinnamon

1 t vanilla

1/4 C butter, melted

1/2 C honey

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, combine ingredients through vanilla and mix to ensure that all ingredients are introduced to the vanilla and that the brown sugar is dispersed and free of lumps. Add butter and mix to evenly combine. Add honey and repeat to ensure that all ingredients are evenly dispersed.

Spread mixture over a silpat lined baking sheet. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Stir mixture to avoid burning the edges and bake for 15 more minutes, stirring after 10 minutes if the edges are browning quickly. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter.


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Filed under Breakfast, Grains/Rice, Outside of the Box, Vegetarian

Cream of Chicken Soup.

What did people do before the Campbell’s Soup Company? Well I suppose that they cooked. Cooked from scratch, with whole ingredients. I was inspired to make this scratch version of this soup when I was challenged to make my family friend Sue’s chicken lasagna “my way”.  I will post the lasagna tomorrow.

I have never liked condensed cream of chicken soup. It just tastes off to me. So I began to wonder, what does homemade cream of chicken soup actually taste like? Did it exist before the red and white can made it a kitchen staple? It must have, though a quick internet search has revealed no history on invention the dish.

While its origins remain a mystery, it is a mystery no more that the humble cream of chicken soup does not have to taste terrible, like the inside of an aluminum can! This creamy and nutrient rich soup turned out great. I used what I needed for the lasagna and froze the rest in pint and quart jars for easy use when needed (much like the convenience that the can offers). If you are feeling ambitious you should give this one a try. You could even add some orzo or rice and made a nice, well rounded, creamy soup to be eaten as a stand alone dish.

I adapted this from Nourished Kitchen, who adapted it from the great James Beard. You could make this same soup with store-bought stock, it just might not have the depth you will achieve by making it yourself. Also, if you want to make a stock from chicken bones and used pre-cooked chicken to make the soup, you could do that.

Cream of Chicken Soup.


4-5 lb whole fryer chicken

1 leek

1 T sea salt

1 t black peppercorn

2 bay leaves

4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 cloves of garlic, crushed with side of knife

4 stalks of celery, including leaves

4 large carrots, including tops

2 small/medium yellow onions

2 T butter

6 egg yolks (you can freeze the egg whites or use them the next day for egg white omelets!)

2 C heavy cream

Remove chicken from package and pat dry. Remove giblet package and discard or freeze for later use. I used the neck in this dish by adding it to the pot to make the broth. Place the chicken in an 8 quart stock pot. Cut leek into large sections and rinse well. Add to the stock pot. Add peppercorns, salt, thyme, garlic, bay, carrot tops, celery leaves, and one onion (cut in half) to stock pot. Cover everything with cold water. Heat pot to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for two hours, or until the chicken is nearly falling apart tender.

Remove the chicken from the pot and allow to cool. Remove solids from pot. Strain broth through a sieve and put it back in the stock pot. Simmer broth uncovered, over medium heat as you prepare the vegetables.

Finely chop carrots, celery and onions. Sauté in butter over medium heat until vegetables are tender, 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. When chicken is cool enough to handle, break it down and chop it. Reserve bones for another batch of stock (I went ahead and just made this at the same time since everything was already out). Place chicken and vegetables in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Beat egg yolks in a bowl and slowly add a few spoonfuls of stock to temper the eggs. Add egg mixture to the stock. At this time you can also add the chicken mixture. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Slowly add the cream.


**Just a note about my observations of this recipe, it is not as thick as you would think if you are used to condensed soup, it is much thinner as it is broth based, still wonderfully tasty, but if you want to thicken it up as a replacer, I would suggest adding a big roux and refrigerating the soup to solidify, then try it out. I have not tried this so if you do and it does not work please let me know.


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Filed under Chicken, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Outside of the Box, Soup/Stew