Easy Techniques To Make Super Gelatinous Bone Broth!

Bone Broth

SUPER Gelatinous Bone Broth

There is a lot going around these days about the health benefits of eating bone broth and, or gelatin (aka collagen). Bone broth contains gelatin, which in turn contains the amino acids glycine and proline. These amino acids are found in the bone, connective tissue and organs of animals. Our ancestors used to consume these parts of the animals they ate, but modern diets don’t usually include them, which is a shame because gelatin is great for our skin, nails, hair, joints and even our digestive organs, which directly relates to our immunity.

This article  discusses the many health reasons to consume gelatin, including, digestive health, releasing toxins and wound healing. It also gives suggestions for how to incorporate it into your diet.

I stated taking collagen when I was pregnant with my daughter. I started craving jello at about 4 months – and it made me think, why am I craving this? The main ingredient in jello is gelatin and what is gelatin good for? Bones. I was craving jello because I was literally growing my daughter’s bones, skin, joints and teeth. If that doesn’t put “you are what you eat” into perspective, I don’t know what does! I always say collagen is the reason why she is in a very high percentile for height! This post is not officially a part of my Post-partum Foods series, but it should be! If you know someone who is pregnant, make a batch of bone broth for her!

When anyone I know asks me what they can do for immunity, or especially if they are having digestive issues or joint issues, one of the first things I suggest is eating bone broth because it is so easy to make and so good for you! In fact both of my parents managed to break bones this year from accidents, and I made sure they both got some collagen to take during the healing processI make sure to include bone broth in our family meals, mostly in the way of soups and stews, but I also take this collagen* every day, stirred into my morning hot drink (usually Dandy Blend, sometimes Lavazza Decaf). 

So now that you are getting a general idea of why it is so important to add bone broth, or gelatin/collagen to your diet, how easy is it to make it? SIMPLE. It is one of the easiest things to make.

In my house, I am known affectionately as “the bone collector”. At any given time we have lots of bones in our freezer. We also have lots of whole chickens in our freezer, because we homestead and raise our own meat birds. Some years we have to “turn over” our laying hens when they stop producing eggs, and these hens are usually too small to roast, so I will use them to make bone broth. I also collect bones from other meals and sometimes buy beef bones from our favorite farm. The point is you have a lot of options when it comes to getting your raw materials. Collect bones, freeze them and then pull them out whenever you need to make more broth. I often mix and match my bones; one of my favorite broths to make is a chicken and pork broth, which is what I used to make the soup I will share with you in my next post.

All you need to make your own bone broth are: bones, apple cider vinegar (preferably raw), water and a crockpot.

Step 1: Place bones or whole chicken in the crockpot
Step 2: Cover bones and or chicken with water
Step 3: Pour in 1 TBS of raw apple cider vinegar (at this point you could also add seasoning, I like to season simply with salt, pepper and one or two bay leaves)
Step 4: Turn Crockpot on High setting and let cook for 24-48 hours.
Step 5: After 12 hours, put crockpot on the Low setting
Step 6: Strain broth and store

If you used a whole chicken, you can now take the meat off the bones and reserve to make classic chicken soup,  chicken tostadas, even my Moroccan chicken salad or throw it in some pasta! Then I store all the skin, tendons and other less desirable pieces to mix in with my pets’ food. I burn the brittle bones in our wood stove. This means there is never any waste.

This is a simple process that is mostly hands off, very cheap (you already bought it!) and so good for your health. There really is no reason not to do it! Plus, if you have pets they will literally love you forever!

Chicken Mole, My Way…


I love Dark Mole – it is one of those sauces that captures the imagination and has an almost mystical quality to it– chock full of colorful, luxurious and delicious spices, chilies and chocolate. Whenever I see it on a menu, I can’t resist ordering it. I have never made it before, and it has been on my kitchen “to do” list for a long while. A series of events happened that made this the perfect time to make Mole, my way. This is not a traditional Mole, made by a Mexican Matriarch, but I do feel it encompasses the flavors and spirit of the dish.


As I said, this dish was inspired by several things – a recent shipment of samples from my foodie friend Justin, at Marx Foods (these guys are awesome!) of various dried chilies that we will be giving away on The Foodie Blogroll soon. I used two mild varieties – Mulato and Pasilla Negro. The Mulato is described as having a chocolate and licorice flavor, which I thought would go well in the Mole. The Pasilla Negro said it was “good in moles” on the package, so I trusted the Marx Foodies on that one.


This dish was also inspired by a chocolate bar I bought for the trip from Florida to Vermont. On road trips, we always like to treat ourselves to some dark chocolate. This time I chose Dagoba’s Xocolatl bar – dark chocolate with cocoa nibs, chilies and cinnamon. It was wonderful on its own, a perfect pick me up during a long day of driving. As I was eating the chocolate, I knew it was destined to be cooked with – as it was not very sweet (which is the way I like my chocolate) and full of the flavors described on the package.

I also wanted to use some Calabrian pepper powder, I received as a recent sample from Scott at The Sausage Debauchery for a giveaway on The Foodie Blogroll last month, that I hadn’t had a chance to cook with yet. This hot pepper powder is very reminiscent of hot smoked paprika. It is a gorgeous bright deep orange, and smells wonderful. A little goes a long way though, and I didn’t need much to add a kick to the dish. I also used some Mexican Mole Seasoning that I got at the Saint Augustine Spice and Tea Exchange. A store I frequented in Saint Augustine when we lived there, and that I am very thankful has a website, so I can continue to order their amazing, top quality spices.

I was very pleased with the result of my first attempt at Mole. The sauce had a lot of depth, and all the flavors really complemented each other in a cohesive unit. Not bad for the first time!

queadillas 004

The leftovers make amazing quesadillas with some cheddar cheese and plain yogurt on top, or you could put some of the sauce over your morning eggs (fried or poached) for some Mole Eggs.

mole breakfast 020

This is definitely a diverse sauce that can be used to turn the ordinary into something extraordinary. I love that this recipe makes enough for either 4 people, or several meals for 2, making this not only tasty, but cost effective, which is always a bonus. Especially because sauces like this taste doubly better the next day and your efforts in the kitchen can be extended to several meals.


4 chicken drumsticks
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 1/2 TBS Mexican mole seasoning – fresh pepper, chocolate, cumin, coriander, chili pepper, garlic, onion, salt, etc. From The Spice and Tea Exchange
½ tsp Calabrian Hot pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
6 sticks Dagoba Xocolatl bar, melted
1 dried mulato chili (chocolate/licorice, mild)– reconstituted and scraped – reserve about 1 cup of water used to reconstitute.
1 dried pasilla negro chili (Good in moles) – reconstituted and scraped
juice of one lemon
1 cup strained tomatoes
5 carrots, chopped
4 small onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced


Wash the drumsticks while the chilies are reconstituting in hot water (this takes about 10-15 minutes for them to soften). In a bowl drizzle olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle spices over top. Add the chili flesh and massage everything into the chicken. Then add the lemon juice and stir all together. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300F. In a dutch oven, drizzle olive oil and brown chicken on all sides. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler, and pour over chicken. Add the reserved chili water, and strained tomatoes to the bowl the chicken was marinading in. Whisk together and pour over the chicken, de-glazing the pan. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, then stir the whole pot. Place the lid on the pot, and cook in the oven for 3 hours. After the 2nd hour, reduce heat to 200 F. Check for liquid every 45 minutes, and add water if necessary.

Serve on top of sprouted tortillas, if desired. Serves 2 – with leftovers for 4 small sprouted corn tortilla Quesadillas and 2 servings of Mole Eggs.

Norwegian Inspired Winter Solstice Dinner!

Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus

Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus

I know I said I was taking a break – but here is one more post for the year!

Monday marked the holiday of Winter Solstice or Yule as it was known to the Germanic peoples in pre-Christian times. The word Yule or Jul is still used in Nordic countries to describe the Holiday or Christmas season – which also coincides with the 12 Days of Christmas. Yuletide is a melding of the secular and religious celebrations of the season. Originally Yule was a Solstice celebration of the coming of the sun after the longest night and has been celebrated for likely as long as humans have been around to live through the longest night of the year and rejoice the longer days ahead.

I enjoy celebrating the Solstices and Equinoxes throughout the year. It helps me stay connected to the natural world and appreciate the natural cycles that could have meant life and death to our early ancestors if they were unprepared. In turn, these celebrations help me think about being more prepared in my own life by canning and preserving foods and enjoying a more seasonal bounty. Winter Solstice is a time to celebrate the bright and joyous times in our lives and give thanks for days filled with more light and less harsh times.

I get very inspired to cook Norwegian foods this time of year. When I lived in Norway I really enjoyed all the special foods that were served and enjoyed during the Christmas season. Of course in my family we have own own traditional foods that we enjoy during this season too. So when I came back to the US, I decided that I would celebrate the Winter Solstice by feasting on Nordic cuisine, that way I could enjoy all of the food traditions that I love this time of year. Usually I make Gløgg and Rommegrøt however, I already made versions of them this year for my birthday party that you can read about on a guest post I contributed to Outside Oslo . So I wanted to make something different.

Pinnekjøtt is a dish that was served during the Christmas I lived in Norway. It is a preserved and roasted mutton rib dish. The mutton is generally cured in brine or sea salt and served on Christmas eve with boiled potatoes and Akvavit or Akevitt – a distilled potato or grain liquor that is typically flavored with caraway seeds. Pinnekjøtt means “stick meat” in Norwegian because traditionally a layer of twigs from a birch tree is placed in the bottom of the saucepan instead of a metal steamer.

Since I have no access to Pinnekjøtt, and did not plan for making it, I decided to make some Norwegian spiced meatballs – or Kjøttkaker med Brunsaus – meat-cakes with brown sauce for our Solstice dinner. Kjøttkaker are very common in Norway and every family has their own “in house” version. I made the gravy using turkey stock from our Thanksgiving bird, although a gravy made from beef is traditional. I also served it with roasted potatoes and carrots (why have boiled if you can have roasted? Even if it is not the traditional Norwegian way) and sauerkraut.


This is a quick but festive meal – and I enjoyed every bite, reliving many wonderful times spent in Norway.


For dessert we had Yule log cookies. The cookies are fragrant with rum and nutmeg, and the perfect crunchiness, while the icing made with brown butter is truly heavenly. We decorated them with some toasted coconut and cocoa powder to make them look more like logs. (Recipes under the cut)…


Speaking of cookies, don’t forget to make some treats for the furry creatures in your life. We just made some for Pepino and Cipollina today! For some healthy ones, try these Holiday Cookies for Pets .

Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays to everyone! Thanks for reading this blog! Wishing everyone health, happiness and love this New Year!

Read the rest of this entry »

Pickling and Preserving: Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles and Pickled Peppers and Lifestyle Choices


(I just love my new pear apron from The Cupcake Provocateur. They are sponsoring an awesome Foodie Blogroll giveaway next month! So be sure to stay tuned for details about that!!!)

This year I challenged myself with some new cooking goals. Along with this blog I have grown, not only in culinary skills, but also in discovering the kind of life that I want to live – one in which I begin to produce more of my own food. Blogging has definitely changed me. Last year, I challenged myself to make our own bread and ice cream. Now that these have been easily assimilated into our lifestyle, I decided to add some more things. This year, as I have become more serious about it, I wanted to challenge myself to begin learning some skills that I will be utilizing even more when we finally have our a place in Vermont, and room for a big garden (and some goats and sheep) to go with it! Things are moving forward in that department! We are really looking forward to starting a new life up there and having a nice big kitchen and herb garden, and later expanding to animals. My eventual goal is to produce the majority of our food ourselves (with some food coming from our very rich local agricultural community) and raise sheep and goats so that I can make artisan cheese. But everyone has to start somewhere. So my challenge this year was to start making cultured dairy products, like yogurt, soft cheeses, kefir, buttermilk and creme fraiche that are easy to do in any kitchen. I started with the yogurt and cheese last week. This week, I am moving on to kefir.


Another challenge was to start preserving, so that I could stop buying condiments and canned goods at the grocery store. I started by switching from canned beans to dry beans and utilizing the soaking method in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. I also started adventures in preserving by making some jam earlier this year, during the height of blueberry season. But with summer coming to an end, I really wanted to make some pickles and pickled banana peppers or peperoncino rings. These two condiments we regularly enjoy – on salads, sandwiches, burgers and more. These were both important challenges, as both store bought varieties are chock full of dyes, corn syrups and MSG. I have been buying Bubbies pickles for the past 6 months or so, but at $8 a jar, it was getting out of control.


So I found pickle cucumbers at the farmers market a few weeks ago and bought several pounds to make refrigerator pickles. I used the recipe out of my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

It was really fun and quite easy. I got 4 ½ 1 quart jars. Each jar costing probably around $1. A great savings from buying Bubbies! Plus they tasted better (you know how homemade stuff always tastes better than even the best store-bought brands!). Something I will definitely be doing again. Although I would like to try some other varieties, especially naturally fermented pickles.


As for the banana peppers, in the last few months I haven’t been able to find a single brand to purchase, and we have really missed them. We tried growing the peppers ourselves with preserving in mind, but our plant only produced a few peppers. With all the rain this summer, so many Florida gardens just got soaked and moldy.


This weekend I went to a new farmers market near my mom’s and I bought almost 2 lbs of banana peppers (also known as Hungarian waxed peppers) for about $3. I could not wait to get home and pickle them! I had some help in the kitchen from our little dog Peperoncino (that is how much we love these peppers), who goes by the more pronounceable name of “Pepino” these days. Again, it took very little effort to do this, and I ended up with 4 1-quart jars, saving me a whole lot of money too!

I am really excited to continue learning more about canning and preserving and making it a natural part of our lives, just like bread has become. I am enjoying seeing the ratio in the refrigerator from store bought regulars like cheese, pickles, yogurt, kefir and condiments being slowly switched to homemade varieties! Soon I will begin canning seasoned beans, soups and condiments like ketchup and BBQ sauce. It is a wonderful warm and fuzzy feeling to get back to basics and provide the best quality food for myself and my family that I can.

If you have a blog, how has blogging changed you?

Mediterranean Mondays in February: Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods, Inc.


Hi Everyone. I have some really exciting news to report! We are getting ready to launch a new month of fabulous Foodie Blogroll random giveaways in February, sponsored by Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods, Inc. It will be called “Mediterranean Monday’s Foodie Box Giveaway”.
Inside will be packed with samples of their newest products and a Cedar’s T-shirt!

If you don’t know about Cedar’s, here is some info to get your mouth watering and your stomach rejoicing. Cedar’s is one of the nationally leading manufacturers of Mediterranean Foods, and some of their products recently won 2008 American Masters of Taste Gold Medals for the best tasting in America. These foods include hommus, tzatziki, and pita chips. The people at Cedar’s believe strongly in the Mediterranean Diet and are working with other companies, like The Mediterranean Food Alliance and Oldways to try to teach consumers about the health benefits of eating a diet filled with fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. All things we love here at The Leftover Queen. I was very honored and excited to find out that The Leftover Queen blog was mentioned in an interview of Nicki Heverling, the Program Manager at MFA as a source to find information on eating the Mediterranean way.


Speaking of good fortune, yesterday I was the lucky recipient of one of these Mediterranean food boxes – because you know, I want to sample this great food too – and I can tell you right now that you do not want to miss your chance to be eligible for this giveaway. Inside my Mediterranean box of goodies was pita chips, 2 varieties of hummus, 2 varieties of tzatziki, spinach dip and a very cool t-shirt. Yum yum yum. So you all can guess what we had for dinner, right?…I thought so – a lovely meze/antipasti of all this great stuff. Everything was delicious. Roberto’s favorite was the pita chips and spinach dip and I loved the tzatziki the best – especially the roasted red pepper flavor, which I have never seen before. The baked pita chips are super crisp and the dips all had great flavor.

Also on this plate of food is some delicious chorizo (back left corner of picture) that I received as a gift from my good friend Nuria who blogs Spanish Recipes all the way from Spain! She was kind enough to award me and a few other with this tasty treat by way of saying thanks for bringing extra traffic to her blog this past year. I would have thought just a thank you email would have been enough. But if you know Nuria, you know she goes out of her way to be thoughtful and generous. So thank you Nuria! It was delicious and tender. We loved every bite and we can’t wait to enjoy the rest.

Well, we wanted to involve the whole family in this treat, so we let Pepino lick the plastic seal over the Cedar’s hummus. I am not sure which he preferred, as he was too busy licking to tell me :)


So, if you are not an active member of The Foodie Blogroll(meaning you are not displaying a new personalized Foodie Blogroll widget), please go sign up today !

We will be featuring 4 giveaways like this – one per week during the month of February and you really don’t want to miss out!

Recipe: Holiday Cookies for Pets


I have seen lots of awesome Holiday Cookies popping up all over the Blogosphere. My friend Judy and a few of my other great blogging buddies are doing the 12 Days of Cookies and I am getting really inspired to start baking. My mom and I always bake Holiday Cookies together (see here and here for last year’s cookie series) and we are heading down to see her the week of Christmas, so we will do our cookie baking then.


As you all know Roberto and I got a puppy a few months ago, Peperoncino (- but we call him Pepino because we found most people have trouble pronouncing “Peperoncino”). Pepino has been going to Puppy School and the trainers had a big holiday party for all the dogs in all their classes at a dog park over the weekend . So since I can never go to a party empty handed, I decided that I wanted to make some holiday treats for them all to enjoy at the party. I had this recipe for pet treats that came with a cute dog bone cookie cutter, so I decided to make them, and add some peanut butter to the mix since that is Pepino’s favorite flavor. Also making my own treats makes me feel better about what I am giving them. I am not just about healthy eating for humans! The dough was great to work with and it made about 70 treats!!!! Sadly I couldn’t find the cookie cutter, so Roberto put his artist hat on and devised a way to make the shapes.


Somehow Pepino knew these treats were for him, because the whole time we were making them, he was right at our feet in the kitchen sitting on his “magic carpet” – the carpet that when he sits on it, gets him treats. It was so cute!

We had a great time at the party and Pepino had fun playing with friends. He shared his treats very nicely and asked for us to make them again soon. I am going to make the same recipe again, but instead of Peanut Butter I am going to use cheese. Our cat Nimue, loves cheese and it is the only “treat” she will eat. I am sure Pepino won’t mind! ;)
Read the rest of this entry »