Yes, You Can Cook from Scratch! 8 Simple, Family Favorite Dinners
Cooking from scratch? Why would I want to do that? It’s the new millennium! No one cooks from scratch anymore! Well, there is growing population of crazy people (like me) who are moving away from nutrient deficient, toxic, genetically-modified, and over-processed industrial food, and moving toward whole food, like your great-gramma made. And great-gramma cooked it from scratch… she probably canned her own produce, too… but we won’t get into that here.
Cooking from Scratch – Easier Than You Think
I understand that the thought of preparing your own food may seem daunting. I’ve been there. Four years ago, I had never cooked a whole chicken. Having practiced vegetarianism for most of my adult life, I never needed to cook a whole chicken. After reading Nourishing Traditions (book review), I bought a pastured chicken from a local farm, and didn’t know what to do with it. A friend of mine said, “Oh c’mon, just roast it in the oven!”. And so I did. My simple recipe for roasting a whole chicken is below. A roasted chicken dinner is a great place to start on the road to simple dinners from scratch because you can do so much with the leftovers.
8 Simple, Family Favorite Dinners
Roasted Whole Chicken
1. Your local chicken is probably frozen. It takes about 2 days to thaw in the fridge, or you can thaw it submerged in boiling salt water on the stove. Remove the gizzards and neck, and store in the fridge to add to your bone broth later.
2. Cut up potatoes and carrots into approximately 1 inch chunks, onions (optional) and parsnips (these are so yummy!).
3. Place your thawed chicken in the center of a large roasting pan surrounded by the chopped veggies.
4. Rub the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt (I like Lawry’s, no MSG).
5. I also drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt or herbs.
6. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 80 minutes, until meat thermometer reaches appropriate temperature.
With the chicken bones leftover from dinner (above), prepare Bone Broth as described in Nourishing Traditions. If you are moving toward traditional, whole food preparation, I highly recommend this book. Bone Broth is simple to prepare and can be utilized in so many recipes, see below.
Use 8 Cups of Bone Broth (above) to make soup + 1 C chopped celery*, 1 C chopped carrots, 2 C chopped chicken, ½ C onion*, 1 tsp dried (or 1 T fresh / frozen) thyme (I purchase local, fresh herbs in the fall, and freeze them for the winter), I like just a touch of natural sweetener (1 T) and salt to taste (you may be surprised how much you need to achieve typical chicken soup flavor) – add cooked brown rice, potatoes, or pasta (my kids favorite).
Chicken Pot Pie
Another use for the Bone Broth and chicken dinner leftovers, or the Chicken Soup leftovers. Place all your chicken (chopped) and veggies leftovers from your chicken dinner in a pot and add bone broth, just enough to cover. Simmer until warm. Season with onions*, celery*, salt, and a little bit of natural sweetener (refer to the soup seasonings above). Thicken the broth by mixing (in a separate container) 1T of (non-GMO) corn starch with 3T of cold water; then add the mixture to the pot. Continue to add additional corn starch combo until the broth has more of a gravy consistency (up to 3T of corn starch). Pour the chicken and veggie mixture into a pan or pie plate, and cover with pie crust or uncooked biscuits. Bake in the oven according to the pie crust or biscuit instructions.
Full disclosure, I do not make my own pie crust… I have not found that they meet the “simple” standard for dinner prep. They can be purchased at the grocery store. Full, full disclosure… my family loves Pillsbury’s flaky rolls (refrigerated in the can)… I know, somewhat toxic, and I should probably find a healthier alternative, but I always remember the 80/20 Rule to save my sanity.
1 # Ground Beef, 1 chopped onion*, 2 tsp garlic* – brown these ingredients and add 1 ½ T of flour to thicken. Add ¾ C broth, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp fresh (frozen) rosemary, ½ tsp thyme. When warm, add ½ C frozen corn and ½ C frozen peas. Spread in approximately 11 X 7 casserole dish and cover with mashed potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or until bubbling around the edges.
Baked Fish with Homemade Sweet Potato French Fries
Place fish in a baking dish with a ¼ inch water on the bottom. Cover with several pats of butter. Sprinkle crushed crackers over the top. Cover and bake at 400 for 15 – 25 minutes (depends on thickness), until fish flakes with a fork.
Slice sweet potatoes into French fry size. Place in large bowl. Add enough olive oil to coat the fries, and stir. Sprinkle with enough Lawry’s seasoning salt to cover, and stir. Bake for 10 minutes on one side, then flip the fries and bake another 10 minutes.
Simple, whole food dinner option. I purchase bacon from a local farmer.
I roast the bacon in the oven in a drip pan, 10 – 15 minutes per side.
Trader Joe’s taco seasoning is spicy, so for the kids, one package is enough for FOUR meals. To keep it really simple, brown the ground beef and add just a little bit of water and taco seasoning to taste.
Chili (goes great with corn bread recipe)
(Adapted from recipe by Stephanie S.)
- 1 C frozen corn
Brown the ground beef. Add onion and garlic and other spices and warm these up. Add tomatoes and beans. When everything is warmed up, add the frozen corn and finish heating.
*Kristen’s Quick Tip: I do not always have fresh celery, onions or garlic on hand. I do stock my pantry with high quality bulk dried minced onion (1 tsp = 1/2 C) and celery powder (1/2 tsp = 1 C) from a local food co-op. Quality herbs and spices are overpriced at most grocery stores, so it is worth the effort to find an alternative resource. I also purchase minced garlic in jars.
I hope you enjoy these family favorites as much as we do. Please share your family’s favorites with us!
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