Category: Semi-Homemade Ingredient


We all love empanadas at our house.  With my new no nightshade diet, I decided to search for sauces that are safe.  Korean BBQ Sauce from Ajumma Republic fits the bill.  Soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, pear, pineapple, sesame oil, and sesame seeds, all adding up to yum!

empanadas

1 lb. ground meat

1 lb. hot sausage, casing removed

1 large sweet onion, chopped

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

2-3 Tbsp. Korean BBQ sauce

2 Packages frozen empanada dough (large size) – this thaws at room temperature in about an hour.  We prefer El Sembrador brand, but any will do

1 egg for egg wash

Brown meat and onion in oil.  Break up into small pieces.  Add BBQ sauce and simmer 5 minutes.

Thicken with a little bread crumbs.  I used about 3 Tbsp.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray two large cookie sheets with coconut oil.  Assemble empanadas right on the sheet pans.  Place 2 heaping Tbsp. of filling on dough.  Wet edges with water to seal.  Press with a fork.  Brush with beaten egg.NOTE:

It will take about 30 minutes to assemble 20 of these.

Bake 10 minutes, switch racks.  Bake 10 minutes more.  They are ready when they are golden.

The filling gets really hot, so let them sit about 5 minutes before serving, and be careful not to burn your mouth!

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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!

 

This breakfast/brunch casserole is one of the kids’ favorites.  I had some apple butter on hand, had a coupon for Swirl bread, and decided to give this a try using Tofutti cream cheese substitute.  No one could tell that it wasn’t real cream cheese.  I reduced the amount of sweetener, and it was still sweet enough from the apple butter to forego putting syrup or powdered sugar on it.

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2 loaves Swirl bread (I used whole wheat cinnamon raisin, but there are some great varieties now including  a new oatmeal bread – pumpkin spice, brown sugar, etc.!)

2 containers Tofutti

1/2 c. agave (or use sugar, honey, maple syrup or natural sweeteners)

12 eggs

2 C. milk (I used unsweetened coconut/almond blend)

1/2 c. apple butter

Coconut oil spray

WARNING!  This recipe makes 10 large portions.  Leftovers are fought over!

Soften “cream cheese” and combine with sweetener.

Spray two 13 x 9 baking dishes with coconut oil and lay out bread to fit into dishes.  I cut some pieces in half to make it work.

Lay top slices of bread to the side, and spread top of bottom pieces and bottom of top pieces with “cream cheese” mixture.

Top with apple butter.

Close up “sandwiches”.

Mix eggs and milk (I use the bowl I mixed the “cream cheese” in to keep clean up to a minimum.  Pour over “sandwiches”.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until golden brown.

YUMMY!

Pizza without tomatoes?  How about garlic naan bread topped with amazing Mediterranean ingredients?  These were delicious and easy to make.  I also mixed up a batch of Mediterranean burgers for another night!

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8 garlic naan bread

2 lb. ground chicken

1 container hummus (we like Boar’s Head)

1 can pitted black olives

1/2 seedless cucumber

1 bag baby spinach

1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese

Olive oil for drizzling

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Brown ground chicken in a large skillet and break up into small pieces.  Remove from heat, and stir in hummus.

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Prepare two large baking sheets by covering them with foil and spraying with coconut oil.

Lay out naan and bake 4-5 minutes to crisp it up.

Meanwhile, chop spinach and slice olives and cucumber.

Topped crisped naan with hummus mixture.

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Add toppings – olives and cucumbers first, then spinach, and finish off with feta.

Drizzle with olive oil and bake 15-20 minutes.

 

I’m still feeling great after giving up nightshades.  No pain at all and the psoriasis is clearing up after less than two weeks.

I sense that providing recipes on my blog that are nightshade free may fill a need.  I’ve been trolling the internet for recipes, and there aren’t a lot of resources out there.  One site,  tomatoesareevil.com did give me a good laugh.  My youngest son also needs to limit dairy, so he joked that we will soon be eating grass and drinking only water.  I’ll meet that challenge and work to make interesting, tasty nightshade, dairy free recipes that no one will guess are as healthy as they are.

Tonight’s dinner was nightshade free, gluten free and totally delicious.  I saw  Ina Garten make this – I adapted it to fit our needs.

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1 lb. cobia filet or other firm fish, cut into 2-3 oz. pieces.

1/4 lb. prosciutto, sliced extremely thin

1/4 c. Italian dressing

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. oil (I used an Avocado Olive Blend)

1 large sweet potato cubed

2 parsnips, cubed

16 baby carrots, cut into thirds

3 Tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper

Marinate the fish in dressing and lemon juice and oil at least 30 minutes (I did it overnight)

Preheat oven to 375.

Prepare two baking sheets by covering with foil and spraying with coconut oil.

Toss the vegetables with the oil and salt and pepper and spread in a single layer on one of the baking sheets.

Cook for 15 minutes while preparing the fish.

Wrap each piece of fish in prosciutto and place seam side down on the baking sheet.   Pour marinade over fish to moisten the prosciutto.

Place in oven and cook alongside fish for 15 minutes.

The prosciutto shrinks down and gets crispy on top.  Yum!

 

 

I am avoiding nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes) as part of a diet geared toward reducing inflammation and pain from my psoriatic arthritis.  I know that I should also limit dairy, gluten, and processed foods, but I’ve had such great results already, I know nightshades are the real enemy.  Besides, I love chicken apple sausage and thought I’d see if it has an impact.  It  has only been a little over a week, and already I know without a doubt that the nightshades are no longer for me.  My pain decreased almost immediately, even though the information on pain management websites indicated it could take a while.  I used to take ibuprofen every day and night to manage my pain.  Since starting this experiment a little over a week ago, I have only taken it twice.  Both times  I had “cheated” and had tomato.  Absolutely not worth it.  I’m sold on eliminating nightshades.  An added bonus is that my psoriasis outbreak is going away.  On top of that, I feel more energetic and younger!  Tonight’s dinner was delicious, albeit a bit sweet from the sausage.  Adding hot sauce, pepper flakes, or cheese would likely take it to another level, but the kids liked it sweet!

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3 packages al fresco chicken apple sausage

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 small zucchini, cubed

2 small yelow squash, cubed

3 Tbsp. oil

2 Tbsp. sherry

3 Tbsp. pesto sauce

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1/4 c. seasoned breadcrumbs

2 boxes orzo, cooked according to directions

  1. Cut up sausage and veggies.  Toss with oil and cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly in large skillet until vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize.  Meanwhile, cook the orzo and drain.
  2. Add in sherry and pesto.  Simmer 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add in breadcrumbs to thicken sauce, if needed.  Simmer another 5 minutes.
  4.   Toss with orzo and serve immediately.  Top with a little parsley or basil for color, if desired.

The variations of this are endless.  Any vegetables or beans you like.  Different sausages.  Tofu or Tempeh in place of the sausage.  Cut up boneless chicken.  Yum.

 

I can’t remember the last time we had acorn squash.  It was on sale the other day, and I decided to give it a try.  I simply roasted it in the oven with a little oil, salt, and pepper (ceramic dishes are reportedly better than metal).  We loved it so much, the kids want to have some for Thanksgiving.  I will try mashing it with some garlic.  It’s so sweet, even though many of the recipes I found called for adding sugar, it doesn’t need it one bit!  I can’t wait to try it lots of different ways.  My new favorite squash!  It reminded us of sweet potatoes, but creamy and nutty.  Really yummy!

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10 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/2 c. sesame ginger dressing (I used Olde Cape Cod – makes a wicked marinade alone)

1/2 c. kimchi (I used wildbrine – I love this stuff)

1 large acorn squash

Oil for tossing acorn squash (I used grapeseed sunflower blend)

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine dressing and kimchi, and marinade chicken thighs at least 30 minutes (mine marinated overnight)

Cut acorn squash into wedges or slices and toss with oil, salt and pepper.

Place chicken in 13 x 9 baking dish.

Place squash in 13 x 9 baking dish.

Bake at 375F for 45 minutes.

I made some Minute multi-grain medley on the stovetop while the chicken and squash cooked in the oven.

 

I had some ground turkey and pork on hand for meatballs I am making for tomorrow nights meatball subs (a Donnie special request for his birthday month).  Due to a sale, I had more than I would need for the meatballs, and went to the local market on the way home from work in search of inspiration as to how to use the remaining ground meats.  It wasn’t long before low-sodium gravy mix caught my eye, and I realized it’s been a long time since we had shepherd’s pie.  I know that ideally, homemade gravy and mashed potatoes, as well as fresh veggies is best, but due to the time crunch, I opted for convenience ingredients.  It was still delicious!

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1/2 lb. ground pork

3/4 lb. ground turkey

1 onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

2 packets low-sodium gravy mix (I used one brown gravy and one chicken gravy)

2 c. water

2 cans no salt added mixed vegetables, drained and rinsed

1 package Ore Ida Steam and Mash Potatoes

2/3 c. sour cream

2 Tbsp. butter

Salt and Pepper to taste

Shredded cheese to sprinkle on top (I used Mexican 4 cheese mix).

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray 13 x 9 baking dish with coconut oil.
  2. Spray large skillet with coconut oil and cook onions and ground meats over medium heat until onions are softened and meat is cooked through.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  3. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in microwave.
  4. Sprinkle with gravy mix into meat mixture in skillet and toss until evenly distributed.
  5. Add water, and simmer until thickened.
  6. Add vegetables.
  7. Mash potatoes with butter, sour cream, and salt and pepper.
  8. If meat mixture is still too loose, add a little bread crumbs to thicken.
  9. Pour into prepared baking dish and top with mashed potatoes.
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle with a little cheese and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more at 400 to melt cheese.
  12. Enjoy!

You can easily substitute leftover meatloaf for the browned ground meat and onions.  Just chop it up and add in gravy.  As for the veggies, this is a great meal no matter what veggies you use.  Broccoli and Cauliflower work well.  So do summer squashes.  Some folks like to top this with mashed sweet potatoes, but I’ve got one who’s not a fan in the family, so I stay away from sweet potatoes.

 

Tonight’s dinner was a hit.  Easy as can be too.  Using the sauce the chicken was cooked in to flavor the rice noodles and spinach was yummy, and the addition of Kimchi gave it a nice kick!  I can’t wait to try variations on this – adding in green onions and other veggies.  This would be good with shrimp or tofu too.  There are as many possibilities as there are Asian sauces!  Topping it with a soft yolk egg would be good too!

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8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (marinated in Asian sauce – I used McCormick Sesame Chicken Skillet Stir Fry Sauce)

2 packs Thai Kitchen thin rice noodles – we love these and will buy them again!

1 bag fresh spinach

Kimchi for topping – we love Wild Brine brand!

Bake chicken at 350F for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make rice noodles according to package directions, adding in spinach with noodles.

Cut chicken into bite size pieces and toss with cooked noodles and spinach.

Top with Kimchi.

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I confess!  In the interest of saving money, I’ve been shopping at Lucky’s and other stores promising good quality organic boneless chicken at lower prices than Fresh Market.  This Little Big Meal offer called out to me, so I decided to splurge.  Guess what?  There really is a difference in the taste and texture.  I will start shopping the Tuesday sale again religiously in the interest of better tasting chicken!  This meal was super easy.  The website said to fry the chicken up in a skillet with a little oil.  Besides the fact that the thought of standing over a hot stove frying chicken didn’t appeal to me, it also sounded a bit greasy.  I opted for a baked method and the results were amazing.  I am on board every time they run this Little Big Meal deal.

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1 Little Big Meal – which includes:

4 large butterflied chicken breasts with light breading

1 jar sauce (the LBM deal was for a brand called Lucini, but they were out – I chose Cucina Artica fresh spinach cooking sauce – very good straight from the jar, but I always taste and doctor it up)

1 pack Fresh Market shredded Mozzarella cheese

My add ins:  sherry, butter, and jarred pesto sauce for sauce, bread, butter, oil, and pesto sauce mix for the garlic bread, and shredded 6 Italian cheese for on top.

1 box DeCecco pasta (I chose cavatappi)  FYI DeCecco won the blind taste test on America’s Test Kitchen as best tasting pasta.

1 package chop salad (again they were out of what it was supposed to be, so I got baby lettuce to make myself lunches for salad this week)

I also made some garlic bread from wonderful sourdough rolls I picked up at their bakery.

  1.  Line baking sheet with foil and brush with oil (I use a grapeseed sunflower blend).
  2. Place chicken pieces on sheet and drizzle with oil.  By the way, the picture is 1/2 of one of the chicken pieces, so it’s a lot of chicken.
  3. Bake at 400 F, setting the timer for 10 minutes to rotate pan and check for even cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta and heat sauce in pan.  I doctored the sauce with a couple splashes of sherry.
  5. Chicken will be golden around the edges after about 25-30 minutes total cooking time.  Remove from oven and spoon sauce over the pieces, reserving the remaining sauce to mix with the cooked pasta.  After adding the pasta to the sauce, I added in 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. pesto.
  6. Top chicken pieces with shredded cheese.  I had a little 6 cheese Italian on hand, so I used that and some of the Mozzarella.
  7. Return to oven and allow cheese to melt.
  8. For the garlic bread, I mixed melted butter, oil, and Knorr creamy pesto mix and dipped the pieces of bread in it, and baked them first on the lower rack, and then switching out with the chicken towards the end.

The Little Big Meal sells for $20.00 and is supposed to feed four.  We have some leftovers, so the kids are happy!  It’s a lot of food.  I also opted not to make a salad to go with, opting to use it for my lunches instead.  I did purchase the rolls to make the garlic bread for an additional $4.00 investment in the meal.

All in all a success and a great reminder of why the Fresh Market chicken is worth spending a little more!

 

 

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