Farm-fresh Deviled Eggs (and a Giveaway!)

I love eggs for just about everything, and there’s nothing as tasty as a farm-fresh egg, so I am super excited to team up with NestFresh Eggs to share my favorite recipes for holiday entertaining, and give away some delicious eggs.

I’m really serious when I say there’s nothing as tasty as a farm-fresh egg. When I was a kid, my family moved to the middle of nowhere in rural Tennessee, and I was abruptly immersed in the life of  small farm. One of the first things we did was one of the simplest: buy some chickens, build them a small coop, and let them roam around our whole 20-acre farm. Here are some old shots of our lovely hens and roosters:

chickens1

As you can see, they basically ran all over the place, picking up bugs and whatnot from the grass all around their coop.

chickens2

I can’t begin to tell you how delicious those eggs were. As a kid, I was used to eating small, white, runny eggs, and these farm-fresh beauties changed my life. Once you’ve had an organic, cage-free, farm-fresh egg, you can never go back. And the Nestfresh eggs are the same: it’s kind of hard to explain how and why they taste so good: the yolks are more bright yellow, when you bake with them your baked goods are fluffier, and your scrambled eggs just taste … egg-ier.

Once you get it, you’ll see.

scrambled

Speaking of getting it, my friends at NestFresh are giving away two dozen eggs to one of my lucky readers. I’m organizing the giveaway through Rafflecopter, so click here and be sure to use all of your entry options to win!

(* Disclaimer: The NestFresh company gave me two dozen free eggs to assist with the production of this post, and they will supply the two dozen eggs that are the giveaway prize. I was not compensated for my opinions or in any other way.)

deviled eggs three ways

Since I am not a very great baker, my idea of “entertaining” with eggs is using them for what was always on the Thanksgiving and holiday party tables: deviled eggs. My grandma always made the standard recipe, using grated or diced onion, a bit of mayo and mustard, and sprinkled with sweet paprika on top. There was always a huge platter of them on the table, and, when dinner was finally ready and someone needed to eat that last deviled egg so the plate could be cleared, guess who stepped up to take one for the team? That’s right.

These days, I try to make my everyday, “boring” recipes with a little extra kick, both of flavor and of healthiness, so I have the traditional recipe as well as lighter/healthier one, and a kicked-up spicy one.

Before you get started on various deviled egg recipes, please remember to not take these appetizers too seriously. They don’t need to be perfectly shaped or perfectly styled … in fact, because they’re more natural, they probably won’t be perfect.

Just remember that there are no failures when it comes to hardboiled eggs: even the cracked ones you can’t use for deviling …

cracked

… are perfect for ramen.

ramen

(As a matter of fact, use some extra turkey and turkey stock after Thanksgiving to make your own homemade ramen soup to use up your leftovers. Trust me.)

Now for the deviled eggs. These three variations are totally simple, and you can make them using everyday ingredients. I made all three of them at once, to satisfy the tastes of several guests. Perfect.

Traditional:

traditional deviled eggs

  • 1 dozen eggs, hardboiled, chilled, peeled, AND halved
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite mustard (or try this homemade mustard recipe)
  • 1 tbsp paprika, plus more for garnishing
  • salt and pepper

spicy deviled eggs

Spicy variation:

  • 1 dozen eggs, hardboiled, chilled, peeled, AND halved
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • handful of grated cheddar cheese
  • generous squirt of sriracha (of course, feel free to use less if you have spice-sensitive guests, or use your own homemade sriracha like me)
  • toasted pine nuts (for garnish)
  • salt and pepper

yogurt/lemon/dill deviled eggs

Lighter/tangier variation:

  • 1 dozen eggs, hardboiled, chilled, peeled, AND halved
  • 3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tsp dried dill, plus more for garnish

Instructions:

After your eggs are boiled, cooled, peeled and cut in half, gently remove the egg yolks and place in a bowl. Do your best to not puncture or damage the egg white, and set the whites to the side. When all of your egg yolks have been removed, add the other ingredients and mix well. Make sure the egg yolks are completely smashed, and the mixture is smooth.

Using either a spoon or a pastry bag (I use a makeshift pastry bag by cutting a tiny hole in the bottom corner of a freezer bag, then filling it with the mixture), fill the holes in the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture. Garnish as necessary and serve immediately.

traditional eggs recipe card

spicy egg recipe card

tangy egg recipe card

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October Unprocessed Made Easy: It’s the Little Things

How’s your October Unprocessed challenge going? This is my second year going clean for the month of October, and I see why this is really a lifestyle change instead of a simple diet or weight loss challenge. The more you employ small changes into your daily routines and everyday meals, the more an Unprocessed challenge won’t feel like such a challenge.

Obviously, living unprocessed is harder than it looks. It’s a great month-long challenge simply because it’s kind of hard to stick with. But making really small changes every day can help you eat clean the other 11 months of the year.

Here are a few small things that have worked for me, year-round:

Homemade condiments

Often, condiments and sauces are some of the first things people ask me about when I tell them about the Unprocessed challenge, but those sauces are some of the easiest things to make from scratch — and to leave out all of the mono-whatdjacallit sodium-hydrox-o-OMG. Seriously, read the label of the bottles in your fridge sometime. Most of them start with simple ingredients (salt, vinegar, tomatoes, etc.), and them all of a sudden, it goes off the rails with additives and stuff you can’t pronounce.

The solution is simple: Give up the labels and make your own. It’s very simple to make fresher, tastier, healthier versions of most of the condiments in your refrigerator right now. For the cost of a bottle of BBQ sauce laden with corn syrup, or mass-produced sriracha, or preservative- and dye-packed ketchup, or fake mustard, you can make a far better, healthier, tastier, cleaner version at home.

Here are my favorite condiments to make at home:

mustard

– salad dressings (usually I use a few tablespoons of homemade mustard or homemade jam, and put it in a mason jar with a bit of vinegar, some fresh herbs and olive oil, then shake it up)

sriracha (also kraut and kimchi)

curry ketchup and roasted corn relish

– roasted habanero salsa (and also a really awesome tomatillo salsa, but it’s not my recipe)

This week, I finished up a batch of homemade sriracha by draining the liquid from my fermented peppers …

fermented red peppers for hot sauce

then as I pureed the peppers for the sriracha,

homemade sriracha

… I used the liquid to soak a bunch of mustard seeds for a spicy homemade mustard.

spicy mustard

Awesome.

And have you ever tried store-bought sauerkraut? If you have, you probably hate kraut now, just on principle. Grab a jar or a nice chemical-free crock, and try making your own probiotics for a great project and a delicious and healthy nosh.

sauerkraut

Replace pasta with vegetables.

Lots of paleo recipe sites like this one have great ideas for replacing pasta with “zoodles,” or zucchini noodles. They’re easy to make and lots of fun, particularly if you have kids and need help getting them to eat properly.

Personally, I am a huge fan of spaghetti squash. It’s very simple to prepare; you can steam it my stabbing it with a few holes and either microwaving it (for about 2-3 minutes per pound) or slow-cooking it (4-6 hours on low setting, covered halfway with water), then using a fork to pull off all of the stringy bits, then mix it with your favorite sauce or pasta topping.

spaghetti squash

You can also cut it in half when it’s raw (you’ll need a wicked sharp knife) and roast it for the same effect. No matter how you prepare it, a medium-sized squash will give up enough stringy strands for at least 3-4 servings.

Replace meat with vegetables, or with better (aka cleaner) meat

Do you Portobello?

I love to replace hamburger patties with the big, hearty mushrooms, or just grill them with a little oil-and-vinegar salad dressing and serve as a side dish or vegetarian entrée option. No one will miss the meat when you grill up these babies. Eating Rules also has a great Portobello recipe this month.

cookout 019
Homemade bacon is beyond compare.

It’s stupid easy to make, and the homemade version is far better than any store-bought, nitrate-packed, pink slime. I take a nicely trimmed pork belly (my local Korean grocer does it perfectly and doesn’t look at you curiously when you request pork bellies), put it in a freezer bag with 2:1 ratio of kosher salt and brown sugar, then let it sit refrigerated for 3-4 days. When the meat is tough to the touch, it’s ready.

Rinse the meat, leave it in the fridge overnight without a cover, and smoke it for 3-6 hours, or until the internal temp is 160. That’s it. It’s unprocessed. It’s nitrate-free, it’s super-easy to make, and it’s f***ing delicious.

homemade bacon
Make your own cleaner version of everyday foods

Speaking of things that are easy to make, and the homemade versions far surpass the store-bought … my yogurt make is one of the best purchases I’ve made this year. You only need a bit of yogurt starter and some good milk, and the machine does the rest. I just make plain yogurt, then add organic honey or homemade jam. Bonus if you add some of this chow-chow from Friend in Cheeses Jam Company … it’s amazing! It’s all delicious and organic, and still unprocessed.

homemade yogurtAnd don’t forget, the idea is to control the ingredients. Think about other every day meals you can make from scratch instead of purchasing processed.

Fresh is best 

I have a subscription to a local farm network, so I get a weekly delivery of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. (I use Farm Fresh to You and I love it, but there are literally thousands of services out there, depEnding on your location.)

Cooking seasonally and locally usually means you’re eating the best, and no matter what you get in your weekly delivery, a recipe for it is only a Google search away. And when in doubt … CURRY. This is my favorite recipe for pumpkin curry, but you can literally replace the vegetables with anything. I did the same recipe with cauliflower. Yum.
curry

Lastly, don’t forget to use all of your gadgets! If you’re concerned about added fats, oils, and greases, you can’t go wrong with the clean taste of outdoor cooking and smoking. I used my outdoor smoker to pretty quickly (less than an hour) smoke a couple of pieces of salmon, plus some yams, fingerling potatoes and sliced delicata squash. A little olive oil, a few herbs, and you have a delicious unprocessed dinner in no time.

0salmon

 

Summertime condiments: Curry Ketchup and Roasted Corn Relish

I had never tasted curry ketchup until I spent a school year in Germany … they use it constantly there. Every dish of french fries comes with a puddle of it, and many German restaurants also have a killer curry-wurst sausage. I haven’t been able to find it in the states other than at the occasional German restaurant, so I decided to make some. 

Later, I amended this project to be a trio of condiments together for the San Diego Food Swap this month. I made spicy mustard (which I have made a few times, see here), as well as curry ketchup, and to change it up a little, instead of a cucumber pickle relish (booooor-iiiing, plus I prefer my pickles on the fried side), I decided to make a thick roasted corn and pepper relish.

All three condiments were a huge hit! Plus, they were all super-easy to make.

For the curry ketchup, I followed this recipe from Coco Cooks, except I quadrupled the recipe to make multiple jars (and I swapped every single one, so it was worth it), and instead of running it through a food mill at the end, I used my immersion hand blender to puree it, and then I used a slotted spoon to scoop out the seeds, spices and stubborn tomato chunks left inside. I also simmered mine a little longer — I figured more time letting all of the flavors get happy together couldn’t hurt. It didn’t.

I halved and quartered about 8 lbs of various ripe tomatoes, and then added all of the sugar, spices and vinegar, and set it to simmer on the stove. As it was cooking for several hours in a huge pot on the stove, I placed a few cups of mustard seeds into a bowl of beer to let them soak …

… and started a fire in my grill outside so I could char some peppers and whole ears of corn for the relish. As always, with grilling whole corn, you pull back the outer husk, then pull out the soft hair inside. Then if you are going to season it, do it now, and pull the husks back over the corn. Then place it on the hot grill with a few bell peppers.

Once the corn is cooked, simply strip the corn by removing the husk entirely, and remove the corn by standing the ear on one end and running a sharp knife down each side. Since we are making a relish, don’t worry if the kernels don’t look pretty and perfect.

Don’t forget to chop those roasted peppers, as well as a whole onion (and additional jalapeno or other peppers, if you want an extra kick:

Then, once all of the corn, peppers, and onion are diced, add 2 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of sugar, as well as 2 tablespoons each of kosher salt, garlic powder and cracked black pepper.

Let it simmer for about an hour, until the corn and onion are a little tender but still crunchy. This is an excellent topping for grilled fish and baked salmon, as well as just for a simple and tasty dip for tortilla or pita chips.

Now that the relish is finished (and getting ready for its 20-minute hot water bath), I blend the now-soft mustard seeds with fresh and smoked jalapeno pepper and smoked garlic, and puree them all a little in the food processor. Then it goes on the stove with the remaining ingredients while I puree and skim the curry ketchup.

The ketchup is refrigerator-only, but the corn relish and mustard can both be sealed in sterilized mason jars in a 20-minute hot water bath.

Homemade mustard – easy to make and suited to you!

Mustard is one of those amazing condiments that can be switched up and adapted to your personal tastes and favorite flavors. Maybe you like a sweet honey mustard. Maybe you prefer a spicy pepper or horseradish. Maybe you’d rather have a milder, herby mustard. Well, all of them are super easy to make — and these are all delicious variations of a similar recipe.

I adapted Local Kitchen’s recipe for Roasted Garlic and Lemon Mustard, only I substituted garlic smoked over pecan wood chips instead of roasted garlic. Then I realized that the recipe could also be adapted to be spicier — with smoked jalapenos — and milder — with dill and extra lemon. All three versions were amazing!

Smoked Garlic and Lemon Mustard

(also see variations below for Smoked Jalapeno Mustard and Dill-Lemon Mustard)

  • 4 heads of garlic
  • 1 cup mustard seeds (dark or yellow, or a mix of both)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups white wine
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good honey
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • kosher salt
  • olive oil, salt and pepper, for smoking the garlic
  • mustard powder and/ or garlic powder

First, either the night before or a few hours before, place 1 cup of mustard seeds in a jar or glass and cover with white wine  — at least a cup. After just a couple of hours (it’s actually surprisingly fast), the mustard seeds will absorb the wine, soften, and puff up a little. The longer you let the seeds marinate, the more flavor you will infuse, but honestly a couple of hours does the trick just fine.

I set the seeds to marinate, waited about an hour, then smoked the garlic and jalapenos. I clean the garlic heads and peel off the outermost papery layer, then sprinkle salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil on each head. Then wrap loosely in foil (you do want the smoke to get in there) and smoke over soaked wood chips at 150-200 degrees for about 2 hours, give or take 20 minutes. I smoked my garlic heads at the same time as a boneless turkey breast, and they were ready at almost exactly the same time.

Once the garlic is cool enough to handle with your clean, bare hands, the cloves will pop out very easily and will be deliciously fragrant and a little soft and gooey.

If you think I didn’t stuff one of these into my face standing there at my kitchen counter, you are sorely mistaken.

This mustard I wanted to be fairly grainy and chunky, so instead of pureeing the marinated seeds and garlic in a food processor like the Local Kitchen guru did, I left half of the seeds whole (but softened) and the other half, I ground by hand with a mortar and pestle. 

Then all of the garlic and mustard went into a pot on the stove, where I added the lemon juice and honey, and then (SLOWLY) added vinegar and wine until it was at the desired consistency. You might not need all of the vinegar and wine specified above, so pour it slowly — remember you can always add more, but once you add it, you can’t take it away. Make it a little thinner than you want the final product to be, because it will thicken upon cooling.

At this point, you want to taste the mustard, and if necessary, add more mustard powder or more garlic powder to even out the flavors and make it how you like it. Once it’s perfect, ladle it into hot, sterilized jars and seal in a water bath for 20 minutes. The total yield was two 8-oz. jars and nine 4-oz jars. Not bad!

* Smoked Jalapeno Mustard: Substitute jalapenos for garlic — smoke them in the same fashion, and chop the finished peppers very finely. Remember the heat is in the seeds and the ribs inside of the jalapeno, so if you scrape them out, you will get the smoky and peppery flavor without the heat.

I diced three jalapenos and scraped the seeds out of two of them, so mine was perhaps a 4 on a scale of 1-10. You can keep in all of the seeds and have a nice spicy mustard. Also, for this variation, I totally pureed the jalapenos and the mustard seeds instead of hand-grinding them; and I used apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar.

* Dill-Lemon Mustard: Add 1/2 cup of dried dill (or 1/4 cup of fresh, chopped dill) to the mustard seeds as they are soaking in wine, and add an extra cup of lemon juice to the total. It’s very mild (compared to the other two) and it tastes fresh and citrusy!