Back to Basics: Homemade Chicken Stock

Ever wander through somewhere, pick up a certain smell and immediately find yourself lost in a sea of memories? You’re not alone. The human brain’s anatomy is designed to link your sense of smell to the parts of your brain linked with memory (Interesting read https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-babble/201501/smells-ring-bells-how-smell-triggers-memories-and-emotions). For me, the smell of chicken stock immediately reminds me of winter at mom’s house. Mom makes some of the best chicken noodle soup out there and always makes her own chicken stock from scratch. The smell of it bubbling away brings me back to memories of slurping away at soup over dinner or the one time I ate 7 bowls of it in one sitting and instantly cured the bronchitis I had been suffering from. Knowing how to make your own stock will help you waste fewer food scraps, improve the depth of flavor in any dish you’re making, fill you with a sense of self-sufficiency and fill your home with some wonderful smells.finished

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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This season’s garden has been a learning lesson. First, I approached it with more pre-thought and planning than I’ve ever put into a garden. I planned seedling start dates, crop yields, test soil pH and balance, and plotted and schemed about every aspect of my would-be bounty. Now, some of that planning time was well spent. I have bell peppers for the first time ever, more arugula than I know what to do with and a gorgeous eggplant plant that I was certain I would kill immediately. All that planning, but it turns out it was a plant that I didn’t plant, didn’t tend to, and thought was a weed initially, that produced my first batch of tomatillos.

Tomatillos, aka “Mexican husk tomatoes”, are a member of the nightshade family; a group of vegetables that also include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. Tomatillos are originally from Mexico as the name suggests, and taste like a slightly sweeter version of a green tomato. Slightly tart and citrusy, these fruits need to be peeled out of their husk and are extremely versatile and great in salsas just like this one!

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Homemade Lasagna with SunRise Ranch Ground Bison

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted my third cooking video “E03 Buffalo Lasagna” and just now realized that it might be super helpful to have the actual written recipe posted to go along with the video. I am so excited to share this lasagna recipe with you all. This recipe blends together a simple homemade tomato sauce with umptious cheesy goodness and light, flavorful ground bison. I really prefer using bison in place of ground beef for several reasons; bison is not greasy, it has a lower fat content and it is a very healthy protein.  The bison adds the meaty richness that you want in a homemade lasagna without adding the grease and fat that can accompany this dish.

My ground bison for this recipe came from the SunRise Ranch, out of Ramah, Colorado. These folks were selling at the Golden Farmer’s market (you can also find them at the Gilpin and Arvada Farmer’s Markets) and have a variety of bison and poultry products. You can purchase any cut from a bison tenderloin filet to short ribs and various roasts. SunRise Ranch prides themselves on caring for their animals naturally and does not use growth hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products when caring for their animals. Check them out at one of the various farmer’s markets in the area or visit their website at http://www.sunriseranchllc.com/index.htm to learn more about the ranch and order any cuts you desire.

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Cashew “Alfredo” Sauce

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While I love alfredo sauce as much as the next person, I was looking for a healthier alternative. I tried several types of “light” or “low-fat” store-bought alfredos but I was looking for something with fewer chemicals and more flavor. Cue the cashew-based alfredo alternatives. I tried several types of vegan alfredos and came up with a hybrid that has some great rich, nutty flavor but is based in healthy fats and vegetables.

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Easy Basil Pesto

Every summer my family and I diligently grow mass amounts of basil just so that we can make this great pesto. It’s an easy recipe that, with the help of a food processor, can be made in less than half an hour. This pesto keeps really well, can be frozen for a bit of summer even in January, and tastes great on everything from swordfish to sandwiches. Remember that pesto does not need to be warmed up, it will separate and you will be truly sad. Just let it come to room temp as you work on everything else, then add it to your muchies of choice.

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Left Hand Milk Stout Steak Sauce

So, the Costco ladies got me…while wandering about we tried some great tri-tip and bought it on a whim. Unfortunately, as soon as we got home I was faced with an entire tri tip roast when I though we had purchased individual cuts. The roast turned out well (30-35 minutes at 450 degrees) but because I wasn’t sure the success I would have, I thought a sauce might just save the day. I started doing some reading up and found a bunch of great wine-based sauce ideas but we had no wine on hand, so whiskey or beer became my deglazing agent. Since whiskey would likely have fried our faces off, I used some Left Hand milk stout and ended up making a salty, tangy sauce with nice aromatics.

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