Friday, August 26, 2016

Grilled Sausage and Peppers Pizza

This post is sponsored by the Ohio Pork Council. I bought my ingredients then created this recipe, the Ohio Pork Council paid me for my time.

a close up image of a slice of grilled sausage and peppers pizza

Grilled Italian pork sausages, bell peppers, and onions top this pizza with plenty of cheese from both provolone and mozzarella. Since everything is cooked on the grill, your house stays cool while you enjoy the flavor of a sausage and pepper hoagie in pizza form.

a close up image of a slice of grilled pizza topped with grilled sausage and grilled peppers and onions

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The purpose of this post is to get my readers to take a short survey about Ohio pork (you don’t have to be an Ohio resident to respond). When you take this survey, you’ll be entered into a Le Creuset Dutch oven giveaway. Since it’s free for you to be here there’s not even any purchase necessary to enter. You’ve got nothing to lose! Why not? Go take the survey now, I’ll be waiting with the pizza when you get back. 

The link to the survey is here. Enter to win!

a close up image of a whole grilled pizza topped with grilled sausage and peppers

I’m supposed to share what I love about Ohio pork today, and since we’re talking about love that means talking about my spouse. He returned from his 5th deployment a different man. I'm not talking about the time he went on his 4th deployment, and he went online and fell in love. Instead, my spouse now prefers to know more about the protein he eats than just “it was marked down at the grocery store”. For him, it’s a natural evolution from knowing who grows our produce—by joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share—to knowing more about the proteins we choose to eat by sourcing them locally as well. Since I want to keep my time in the kitchen simple and fix one entree for the family, I needed to find new sources of protein.

buying Ohio pork sausage from Jean Mattis of KJB Farms at the 2nd Street Farmer's Market in Dayton
My spouse took this photo (cuz that's me on the right).

Monday, August 22, 2016

Healthy Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast cookies with soaked oats and raisins, sweetened with peanut butter before baking, then topped with a maple spread frosting. Start the day off right with these gems. A whole grain cookie that is naturally gluten free, free of refined sugar and a tasty breakfast, too!

a plate with a close up of healthy gluten and refined sugar free breakfast cookies

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Each school year starts with such promise--we will have LESS clutter, lose LESS papers, be MORE organized, waste LESS food and LESS time, be MORE productive, etc etc. You know the drill. The inspiration of those blank planner pages soon fades into the daily grind of getting up and out the door with everything you need for the day Oh-and-by-the-way-mom-did-I-tell-you-I-needed-a-solid-blue-shirt, shorts, and-socks-and-this-specific-brand-of-index-tabs-by-3rd-period?

image of 'as healthy as a bowl of oatmeal' breakfast cookies

Sigh. I can't help you with that brand of index tabs [it's a thing you stick onto a piece of paper to make it into a divider. I had to look it up]. We went to 4 drugstores and office supply stores to amass sufficient quantities for the classroom stash. [Should have ordered online.] But I can help you put something nourishing into your folks' bellies to get the day off to the good start:

These breakfast cookies.

close up of a healthy breakfast cookie on a cooling rack

My working title over the summer months while I was making test batches was As Healthy As A Bowl Of Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies, because that was my goal:  a breakfast cookie that had all of the nutrition of a bowl of oatmeal but in handheld form.

My search started when I wanted to encourage my son to keep up his oatmeal habit during summer. Some people [my spouse] can start their day with a hot bowl of oatmeal year round. Not me. I like to mix things up. I figured I'd grab a Breakfast Cookie recipe and whip up a bunch one day for breakfasts throughout the week. If you've followed the blog and seen how I make muffins with LESS sugar, LESS fat, MORE fiber and MORE flavor--you can guess what happened next.

a plate of healthy breakfast cookies frosted with maple spread

I kept finding recipes for breakfast cookies that were Cookies with some oatmeal and orange juice tossed into the dough. Cookies--starting with creaming butter and sugar. Not the building blocks for breakfast in my house! Please do not misunderstand. I love cookies, and a good cookie recipe starts with creaming butter and sugar. But that's for dessert. Not for breakfast. Each has it's time and place.

an image of a plate of healthy gluten and refined sugar free breakfast cookies

I went back to the drawing board and thought about how, when I soak oats in buttermilk overnight for my muffins, the resulting mixture is pretty darn thick. I experimented with turning that into a baked handheld breakfast item. Each batch became better, but missing the essential sweetness until I hit upon frosting them. I used maple spread from my farmer's market and whoo boy did that do the trick! If you cannot find maple spread I'd suggest using peanut butter, apple butter, or Nutella.

a bowl of batter that will become healthy breakfast cookies
All my optional add ins (nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut) stirred in. Ready to scoop and bake.

Note: this recipe starts the night before when you combine oats and buttermilk. You can soak them in a bowl on the counter or in a container in the refrigerator. If it's hot out I use my fridge.
Note about maple spread: I get this from my maple syrup dealer at the farmer's market. It's a refrigerated item that is pure maple syrup cooked down even more into a thick spread.

Healthy Breakfast Cookies (makes 12, we eat 2 at a time)


  • 2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned kind)
  • 1+¾ cups buttermilk
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax meal
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup peanut butter (if you need to add sugar, I'd suggest ¼ cup here)
  • ½ cup raisins or chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • ¼ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds (optional)
  • ¼ to ½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
  • ¼ to ½ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • maple spread (in my opinion NOT OPTIONAL, but substitute peanut butter, apple butter, or Nutella if you cannot locate maple spread--see Note above)


  1. The night before you want to bake these cookies, combine oats and buttermilk in a bowl. You can leave them out on the counter or refrigerate them. Your choice. 
  2. In the morning, add the salt, baking soda, flax meal, egg, peanut butter and raisins. Stir well, and let it sit on the counter for an hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and use sheets of parchment paper to line 2 cookie sheets for best results (I found that the cookies will fall apart if you merely grease a cookie sheet, but they stick together until cool when using parchment paper).
  4. Stir in the optional add ins (nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut and/or chocolate chips).
  5. Scoop large cookies, about ½ cup size, onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Flatten with the bottom of a drinking glass, a spatula, or the back of your cookie scoop. These cookies don't spread out.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish.
  7. Frost with a dab of maple spread. It will dry so that the cookies can be stacked. Store these cookies on the counter for a day, in the fridge for a few days, or wrap up and freeze for a few weeks.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

What's growing on Farm Fresh Feasts?

A peek into the back yard garden to see what's been happening so far this summer.

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You might think, with a website entitled Farm Fresh Feasts, that I live in a home that looks like this.

looking down a lane to a farm surrounded by corn fields and woods

Not at all close!  That spread, in northwest Wisconsin, belonged to my Grandpa. My daddy grew up on a dairy farm. I'm a generation removed from daily farm life, however I sure like to grow my own food. The dirt (ahem, the amended soil like my Daddy taught me to nourish) is metaphorically under my fingernails. (The nurse in me couldn't handle actual dirt remaining under my fingernails for long).

Instead, I grow crops in raised beds in my small back yard. The yard is big enough for the dogs to get up a good speed while chasing bunnies and squirrels, but small enough that my son can mow it in 10 minutes.  [Fifteen if he's actually paying attention, twenty if he does a decent job]. Kids are a work in progress.

These raised beds were made by my spouse. He upcycled the unwanted old cedar fence boards from a tilting privacy fence we replaced before we brought home our first dog. I've now got 5 beds that are about 2 feet by 4 feet, with space between so I can reach into the beds from 3 sides. All of this fits behind our house on our small city plot.

a small cucumber on a vine

I figured I'd show you around how the garden is growing thus far this summer. As with every year and every garden, I've got some crops that are doing well and some that aren't. I've got surprise volunteers from my compost and from the local wildlife.

cucumbers growing in a raised garden bed

Let's start with what's doing well. If you follow me on FB or Instagram you'll know that I've been putting up piles of pickles. So far I've got a gallon of refrigerator dills--both slices and small whole pickles--in two half gallon canning jars (with these handy dandy plastic storage caps--Amazon affiliate link) in the back of the fridge. I've got 8 quarts of one kind of spicy dill pickle, and 6 quarts of another kind of dill pickle, downstairs in the basement. I will keep on pickling until the cukes give up!

dill seed heads ready for harvest

Along with the cucumbers I've got dill going to seed. I put the dill seed into the pickling jars, but I've just learned a terrific way to store my dill heads while I wait for more pickles. Simply put them in a paper bag and pop into the freezer. How cool is that? Thanks, Aunt Jan!

tomatillos growing in a raised garden bed

The tomatillos are also growing like crazy, though I haven't harvested any yet. It's OK, I can wait until the Hatch chiles appear before I put up my salsa verde. In the meantime, I just keep checking on those beautiful balloons and waiting for them to burst.  [Silently, so as not to give anyone a little fright.]

raspberry canes in a backyard garden

The raspberries had a terrific season. I used black raspberries in a wide variety of recipes and put up a bunch to enjoy now that their season is over. Check out my Raspberry Recipes Collection for ideas for your raspberries.

raspberries and strawberry plants in a patch

In fact, the raspberries decided to take over the strawberry bed! I'm not so sure how I feel about this, but I let them grow this year. If I am happy with the harvest next year I won't pull them out. But if the strawberries want their space back, they'll need to step up production . . .

sunflowers and tomatoes in a raised garden bed

Volunteer sunflowers have been both a blessing and a curse. After 3 years of deliberately planting sunflowers where I wanted them to grow only to have nothing sprout, I opted to let the birds do the planting by filling my winter feeders with only sunflower seeds. It worked--we now have sunflowers in many places in the yard, and goldfinches are regularly spotted eating the seeds. However, the presence of the sunflowers is hampering the tomatoes in the bed above--leading me to a pretty dismal tomato harvest compared to this time last year. I'm not too worried yet--it's only August after all--but I may need to buy some tomatoes from our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers to put up this year.

tomatoes growing in a raised bed in square red cages

While the tomato plants are not as vigorous as I've had in previous years, the fruits they bear do look pretty terrific so far. I'm sure they will taste amazing. For more recipes using red tomatoes, please see my Tomato (Red & Yellow) Recipe Collection for ideas.

a close up of a red hibiscus flower

I've got plenty of flowers planted around the yard to attract pollinators and make me smile. I tend to grab whatever's marked down without thought to coordinating colors, but things tend to work out every year.

herbs growing in a landscaped area of a garden

My herb area, above, has also been hit or miss. The parsley and chives are doing well, coming back after several cuttings. The cilantro pooped out well before salsa season, as it tends to do. More dills volunteered in this area after last year's deliberate planting, leading me to high hopes for next year.

a garden bed with a mystery squash vine, celery, sunflower and tomatillo plants

I've got 2 mystery squash vines this year. The one above is none too happy and will probably get yanked before the next yard waste curbside pickup so that whatever is bothering it won't spread in my compost bin. The one below, nicknamed tree squash, is probably a pumpkin and is doing fine.

a panoramic photo of squash vine climbing a tree, a peach tree, raised beds and a compost bin

Thanks for taking a tour around the garden with me!

I'm sharing more recipes on my Pinterest boards, follow me there. If you like a good peek behind the scenes like I do, follow me on Instagram. Need a good read? I'm sharing articles of interest on my Facebook page, follow me there. Want to know How to Use This Blog?

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