Category: Make Your Own


I bought a jar of sauce at Aldi and it sounded like it would pair well with meatballs.   It did!  Plus I tried a new method of making baked potatoes making this a stress free night.

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Regular readers of my blog know I often prepare, bake, and then freeze meatballs ahead.  I prepared these the same night I cooked burgers.  My meat mixture included pesto, bacon jam, sweet pickle relish, an egg, and seasoned breadcrumbs.   The meatballs were baked at 375 for 40 minutes and then I poured the sauce over them and refrigerated them.

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Unfortunately, I forgot to make my baked potatoes in the crockpot, so I tried a new method.

I put olive oil and salt in a bowl and rolled  the washed and dried potatoes (sweet and russet) in it.  I placed them on a sheet pan lined with foil and poked them with a fork.

They took 45 minutes all told at 425F.  I put the meatballs in for the last 20 minutes.

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Lasagna without tomatoes?  A recent experiment using hummus on pizza led to tonight’s tomato-less lasagna.  Next time more liquid, but otherwise blogworthy!

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Another part of my inspiration was Daniel’s garden.  Longevity spinach, rosemary and a red pepper added freshness to ingredients that I had on hand.

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2 lb. ground turkey

1 onion, chopped

1 pepper, diced (leave out to be nightshade free)

2 Tbsp olive oil

10 large leaves longevity spinach, chopped

1 bag baby spinach

2 sprigs rosemary, chopped

1 can garbanzo beans

1 container hummus

10 kalimata olives, chopped

Carrots and celery

Salt to sweat vegetables

Lasagna noodles

Shredded cheese for topping.

1/2 c. Crumbled feta.

 

 

Heat oil.  Cook fresh vegetables except baby spinach over medium low about 10 minutes.

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Add in turkey, breaking up and stirring until cooked through.  Add seasonings and spinach and cover.  When spinach is wilted down, add in hummus and garbanzo.  This is where a little more liquid  should be added in.  Live and learn!

Drizzle olive oil in 13×9 lasagne pan.  Layer noodles.  Top with half the meat and spinach mixture and sprinkle with feta.  Layer more noodles.  Top with remaining meat and spinach mixture.  Sprinkle top with shredded cheese  and bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until cheese is golden.

 

 

I made two versions.  One nightshade  and dairy free and one not.  Both yummy!!

I cooked a pork butt in the crock pot that had been rubbed with eelsauce and 5 spice.  Yum.  I pickled cucumbers carrot matchstick and thinly sliced onion in 1 c. Rice wine vinegar mixed with 1/2 c each water and sugar.  The only disappointment was the bread which had to be toasted as it was not crunchy enough.  It was a great success!  I can’t wait to try non pork alternatives.

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Pickle the veggies about 30 minutes ahead of serving.  Spread sirracha aioli on bread and assemble.  Enjoy!!

I am crazy about Asian food.  Last night we had Korean Barbecue Chicken and a Rice Melange.  It was delish!

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3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts marinated in Korean BBQ sauce

Sauce:

1 C. soy sauce

3/4 c. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. each ginger and sesame oil

1 Tbsp. each water and corn starch (in a slurry to thicken)

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add slurry and turn down to low.  Slowly simmer till it thickens.  Pour over chicken in 13 x 9 baking dish sprayed with coconut oil.  (I have bought a bottled Korean BBQ Sauce (Kalbi Bulgogi) from a company called Ajumma Republic and it is really good).  You can marinade the chicken overnight or even freeze it in the sauce for future use.  Once defrosted, bake for 35-40 minutes.  Chop into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears, stir around in sauce, and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Rice Melange:

1 box Near East rosemary garlic brown rice and quinoa (I have found that one packet of seasoning from these boxed rice mixes goes a long way, so no additional seasoning was added to the rice)

1 c. Lundberg Wild Blend Rice

1 c. brown rice

3 c. broth (I used unsalted chicken)

2 1/2 c. water

3 Tbsp. butter

Place in rice cooker.  The rice cooker knows its done when it runs out of liquid, so unplug and remove from heat as soon as the rice cooker clicks over to warm.  Add into the cooked veggies to serve.

Veggies for Rice Melange:

Heat oil of choice in large pot with a little butter.

Saute veggies of choice over low heat.  I used what I had on hand:

1 bag riced cauliflower

1 carrot, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 yellow squash, diced finely.

1 can Cannelloni beans, low sodium

1 tsp. seasoning blend of choice.  I used an Asian inspired one to stay on theme.

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After about 25-30 minutes over low heat, add in one can of beans.  I added Cannelloni because they are our favorite and I always have them on hand.  This way, anyone wanting to stay vegetarian (if you use veggie broth instead of chicken) can eat the rice melange.

 

My cousin cooked a great meal for Christmas that included turkey breast, green beans with carrots, and some gravy.  The leftovers begged to be made into a pot pie!  I added in some squash from Christmas Eve and refrigerated biscuits.

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1 c. leftover shredded turkey breast

1 1/2 c. leftover gravy

2-3 c. leftover vegetables

1 tube honey wheat biscuits

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine leftover turkey, gravy and vegetables in 13 x 9 ceramic baking dish.  If you don’t have enough leftovers, supplement with convenience products like frozen veggies or low sodium canned gravy.

Cut biscuits into quarters and top turkey mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and flip biscuit pieces over to crisp up bottom side.

Bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden.

 

 

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I was recently treated to a local restaurant called YOLO for a lunch with my boss and his daughter and girlfriend to celebrate Christmas.  Having been well-trained in the past to read all menus from right to left and respectfully order a reasonably priced item, I chose the moderately priced Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich.  Wow!  A love affair has begun.  The flavors were intoxicating.  I began trolling the internet for recipes and discovered that there are so many variations, we can have a “Banh Mi” type sandwich on a regular basis, since the ingredients usually used are non-shadetree (good for my arthritis) and I love, love, love freshly pickled onions and the like.  For New Years, since pork is traditionally considered a good luck meal, I’ll be trying out my own first Bahn Mi using pork.  Even though I don’t have pictures yet, I decided that working through the planning process by blogging it might be fun.  I’m also potentially going to do a side that includes, what else, black-eyed peas.  The picture above is from Martha Stewart, and the pictures below from Taste of Home, sites I visit regularly for ideas.  Another favorite of mine is Damn Delicious.  Food Network also provides a good cross section of styles.  I also love America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country.  My love of cooking was also enhanced by Lidia’s Italy and Fort Lauderdale’s own Chef Jean Pierre of Sunshine Cuisine.

The first step is deciding on the pork portion of the recipe.  Alton Brown (who I love) uses ground pork in his recipe.  As a devoted sale shopper, I will likely be opting for whatever good quality pork is on a great sale, and cooking it in the crock pot.  It will likely be a loin or roast.  I will thinly slice or shred, depending on the meat’s texture.  The internet is full of variations using steak, chicken, fish, you name it.  The idea is a crusty bread, tasty protein, pickled veggies, and a spicy condiment.

The bread is important too.  YOLO used a super crusty baguette.  The words “bahn mi” actually mean baguette or bread in Vietnamese.  My thoughtful daughter gave me a gift card to Lucky’s so I can sip and stroll, and they have freshly baked baguettes on sale most of the time.  It’s a good bet I’ll get my bread there.  They also have a killer produce department, so the veggies to be pickled can be bought there.  Depending on what the sales are next weekend, I may be able to one-stop shop!!

Almost all the recipes called for a sriracha or spicy style mayonnaise or aioli.  This I will likely make myself, since I always have sriracha and mayonnaise in the fridge.  Let me clarify, however, that for some people on a shade tree free diet, sriracha is a big no no because of the hot peppers used to make it.  However, I seem to still be able to have sriracha with no pain.  Ketchup and pizza sauce have proven to not be something I will be eating anymore, though.  My pain returned within an hour of very small amounts of both.

The juices from the cooked pork should also be cooked down for a dipping sauce, so this is kind of like a Vietnamese “French Dip”.

Writing this has helped to build enthusiasm for food again.  After a huge Christmas Eve of Ham, Bacon-Wrapped Carrots, and Roasted Squash, followed by an even bigger Christmas feast of turkey and all the usual trimmings.

My cousin and her father were coming over for dinner tonight, and she wanted to contribute some frozen shrimp, butternut squash, and sugar snap peas, so I trolled all my favorite sources for recipes and came up with a recipe for Ginataang Sitaw Kalabasa, a Filipino stew that called for green beans instead of the sugar snap peas.  Since it contains no nightshades, it was perfect! I had some boneless skinless chicken thighs on hand, so I adapted the recipe.  It was a huge success!

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1 lb. frozen shrimp, thawed

5 boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into strips

1 large butternut squash, roasted

1 package sugar snap peas

1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. oil (I used a sunflower avocado blend)

1 can coconut milk (14 oz)

2 Tbsp. eel sauce (or fish sauce)

1 Tbsp. red chili paste (okay, this is not nightshade free, but I grabbed the wrong jar! I meant to get curry paste)

1 C. chicken broth

1/2 C. chopped carrots

1/2 C. sliced celery

Saute onions, celery and carrots in oil.  Add in ginger, garlic, and chili paste, and stir a few minutes until fragrant.

Add in chicken.  Brown.

Stir in coconut milk, eel sauce, and chicken broth.  Simmer to reduce.  Add in sugar snap peas and cover until they are crisp tender.  Stir in shrimp and cook a few minutes until pink.

Thicken with bread crumbs, if necessary.  Gently fold in butternut squash, and heat through.

Serve over rice.  I used quinoa, brown rice, pineapple, and coconut with thai curry broth in the rice cooker.

The flavors of this dish were amazing.  Loved it!

 

I’ve been fighting a cold, and with Thanksgiving coming up, don’t want to wear myself down with meals requiring a lot of prep.  This meal definitely fits the bill of a meal that practically makes itself!

I was watching the television show Sunday Morning yesterday, and there happened to be an interview with the daughter of the man who invented the crock pot!  He was named Irving Naxon and he invented it in 1936, perfecting it to a “Beanery” by 1940, for the purpose of cooking a Jewish bean stew called cholent.   In the days before Naxon’s invention, they would heat the oven and place a dutch oven in it, so that they could turn off the oven during the Sabbath and have a meal ready to go that had cooked in the residual heat of the oven.  Rival bought the rights to his invention in the early 70’s.  Thank you Irving Naxon for making our lives easier!

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8 Skinless bone in chicken thighs

1/2 bottle Italian dressing (I used Drew’s – lower sodium and less sugar than most)

1 can low sodium Cannelloni Beans, drained and rinsed

1 Package frozen Swiss chard (I used Cascadian Farms)

1/2 c. seasoned Panko bread crumbs

Rice cooked in the rice cooker.

I pour the dressing over the chicken as soon as I get it from the market.  Sometimes I refrigerate it.  Sometimes I freeze it and then thaw it in the refrigerator (which takes longer than you think, depending on how you pack it in the tupperware).  This batch was laid out in a single layer, so it took about a day and a half to defrost in the fridge.  This way the marinade really flavors it well.

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Put chicken in the crock pot on low for 7-8 hours, until it’s literally falling off the bones.  Remove the bones using tongs, being sure to pick out those pesky knuckles too.  Shredding up the meat as you go along.  It’s a good idea to have a count on how many pieces there are, so you don’t miss any of the bones.

At this point, put on the rice cooker with rice of choice.  I had some yellow rice on hand, so I used it, and it was delicious with this.

Back to the crock pot – add in beans, and chard.  cook on high for about 10 minutes.  Add in bread crumbs to thicken, and place a paper towel under the crock pot lit to help absorb some of the moisture from the frozen chard, and cook until rice is done.

When the rice was done, not everyone was ready to eat, so I pulled the chicken aside in my crock and put the rice in with it, and set it to warm.  That way everyone could decide on their own rice/chicken ratio and eat at their own leisure.

Obviously, the variations are as voluminous as there are bottled dressings on the shelf!  Also, black beans and garbanzos work well.  Kale in the place of chard?  Add ins of onion, mushrooms, carrots, squash, etc.  You get the idea!  Great use of leftovers.  Eat it over noodles or quinoa instead of rice.  The list of what can be made this way is endless.

I’m thinking of trying a ginger miso inspired version of this and stir fry veggies for an Asian flair!

 

One of my sons is sensitive to dairy, and let’s face it, we can all benefit from scaling way back on dairy consumption.   I looked over my blog history, and I’m as guilty as anyone as using cheese as a go to for flavor and creaminess.  Tonight’s dinner was an experiment in a noodle dish with no dairy.  It was a huge success!  The addition of pumpkin in the recipe makes this the perfect time of year to try this dish, since you may have some left after making your pie.  Plus, it’s on sale everywhere.

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1 lb. pasta (I used cavatappi)

10-12 fully cooked sausage links (I used chicken hot dogs because so many sausages have cheese in them)

1 tsp. salt

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. oil (I used sunflower/avocado blend) although sunflower is not recommended on the anti-inflammatory diet.  I’m just using up what I had on hand before I found that out!

2 Tbsp. bacon jam

1 Tbsp. ginger preserves

1 Tbsp. garlic

1 container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

1/3 package Daiya mozzarella shreds

1 C. pumpkin

Chopped moringa to garnish.  (we grow moringa in the garden, but any green will do, even green onions.)

Heat oil in dutch oven and cook onions and sausage with salt added until onions are softened.  Low and slow works.  Put water on to cook your noodles.

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Add in bacon jam and ginger preserves.  Cook 5 minutes more.

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Add in cream cheese and mozzarella shreds.  Stir until melted.  Add in pumpkin.

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Stir in cooked noodles.  Serve topped with the moringa or other green.

Optional add ins:  Mushrooms, Cabbage, Parsnips, Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Beans, etc.!  This would be a great way to use up leftovers.

You could also put this in a baking dish and top with Panko bread crumbs and bake it.

We loved this.  I can’t wait to try it with pesto instead of the bacon jam and ginger preserves.  Lots of variations will work.  I also think that the cheddar shreds will make a great sauce.

 

 

Tonight we had the burgers I prepared the night we had the Mediterranean Naan Pizza.  All that fresh spinach, feta, and black olives inspired me!  I bake my burgers, since I’m always cooking for a crowd.  It definitely beats standing over a hot stove.

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3 lb. ground chicken (makes 8 large burgers)

1 egg

1/2 can pitted black olives, chopped

1/3 c. crumbled feta

1/2 c. chopped fresh spinach

1/3 c. (or more, if it’s still too wet and sticky) Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight.

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Approximately 45 minutes before you want to serve these, prepare a baking sheet by covering with foil and spraying it with coconut oil.  Preheat oven to 375F

Form meat mixture into patties.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Turn heat up to 450, and cook 5 minutes more to brown the burgers.

I’ve made a lot of burgers in my day, and these just might be my favorite!

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