Tuesday, September 2, 2014

You Can't Win Them All (Bison Cheeseburger Helper)

We just got back from a great weekend in Denver to celebrate a friend's wedding. Now we're back home and I didn't feel like going grocery shopping. So tonight I made a gluten and dairy free Bison Cheeseburger Helper. I saw a delicious looking recipe for Cheeseburger Macaroni by Kevin and Amanda on Pinterest and decided to make that tonight, with several modifications.

I used ground bison since I had some on hand and all of our ground beef is frozen. Last time I looked I couldn't find a packet of taco seasonings that were safe for Tommy. So I made my own seasoning blend. I'm still perfecting my vegan cheese sauce, but this version is way better than my last attempt. I also doubled the sauce and pasta. This is the first time I have correctly cooked gluten free pasta. It wasn't chewy or mushy. It actually tasted just like regular cooked macaroni. I used a white rice macaroni that I can buy in bulk at the local Winco.

I'm pretty excited about how this whole recipe turned out. It's delicious, hearty and full of flavor. Everything you would want in a bowl of hamburger helper, except made from scratch with no preservatives or questionable ingredients. I'm not thrilled about Tommy's reaction. As soon as I set the bowl in front of him he burst into tears. It's incredibly frustrating when he starts sobbing without actually trying the food. He eventually ate one bite of the meat and one piece of pasta. That was definitely a let down. This recipe is so delicious and easy to make that I was really hoping to add it to our regular rotation. For now I'll just file this recipe away to try again later when hopefully his tastes have matured a bit.

Bison Cheeseburger Helper

20 oz ground bison
2 cups dry gluten free macaroni
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
14.5 oz can chicken broth
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 cup water
4 oz can diced chili peppers, undrained
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 Tbsp potato starch
1 taco seasonings (see below)

1. Brown the bison in a dutch oven sized pot over medium heat. 
2. When the meat is done, add the tomato paste and taco seasoning and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
3. Add the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, diced chili peppers, and water. Bring to a boil.
4. Stir in the macaroni and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. While the pasta cooks, in a small saucepan combine the coconut milk, nutritional yeast, Frank's and potato starch. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously until thickened. 
6. After the 7 minutes are done, add the "cheese" sauce to the pasta dish. Stir to combine and cook for another 2 minutes.
7. Take the pot off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Taco Seasoning

2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ginger Stir Fry

I have been cooking more lately, but I haven't had a chance to write up the recipes until now. Last week I felt like a change from our usual ground turkey stir fry. And I thought if it was more saucy there would be a chance Tommy would actually eat the rice too. And I was right! So far this is the only stir fry recipe I've made that Tommy enjoyed. He ate all of the turkey and rice and tried the veggies. It's really good as is or with more chili garlic sauce to give it a kick.

Ginger Stir Fry

20 oz ground turkey
3 bell peppers, sliced into matchsticks
12 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp oil, divided
2 Tbsp coconut aminos
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp gluten free soy sauce
1 Tbsp potato starch
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Serve over white rice (I make 2 cups of dry rice)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, coconut aminos, potato starch, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce and ground ginger. 
2. Cook the ground turkey in a large non-stick skillet or a dutch oven sized pot over medium heat. When the turkey is almost cooked through, add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. 
3. Place the cooked turkey in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of oil. Saute the bell peppers until tender. Add the peppers to the large bowl.
4. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan. Saute the mushrooms for a few minutes until they are just tender and beginning to brown. 
5. Add the turkey and bell peppers back to the pan. Pour the sauce over the top. Stir until well combined and everything is warm. Serve over steamed rice.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Potato Crusted Salmon with Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Hash

Last night we made my Potato Crusted Salmon again. I tweaked the recipe just slightly so that I could cook the salmon and the veggies at the same time. I used tin foil to line the dish instead of parchment paper. I liked the foil better since it contained all the extra fat and cleanup was a breeze. I don't care for salmon skin, so when I serve this dish, I just scoop the salmon off the dish and leave the skin behind. I recommend only cooking as much salmon as you'll eat in that seating. Reheated cooked fish is one of my least favorite foods. Although I imagine if you reheated it in the oven it would be way better than the microwave.

We all loved this salmon dish. It's a great kid-friendly, bang for your buck way to cook salmon. Tommy ate every bit of his salmon and a little of the veggies too. 

Brussels sprouts tend to get a bad wrap. They can be super delicious as long as they're cooked well and not mushy. My favorite way to make them is to roast them in the oven. This time I used a mixture of Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and onion. Delicious! If you have any leftover veggies, they're great the next day heated in a skillet and served with fried eggs on top. 

Potato Crusted Salmon - Version Two

1 lb salmon fillet
1 cup potato chips (I used Kettle Brand Krinkle Cut)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) Earth's Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
2. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the Earth's Balance spread (about 30 seconds).
3. Add the potato chips and crush the chips with the back of a measuring cup. Stir in the seasonings.
4. Lay the salmon skin side down in the dish. Press the potato mixture on top of the salmon.
5. Bake for 25 minutes. 

Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Hash

1 lb Brussels Sprouts
12 oz Cremini Mushrooms
1 medium onion
3 slices bacon
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt

1. 1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Pan fry the bacon until crispy, and reserve the bacon grease.
3. Trim a small slice from the stem of the Brussels sprouts and remove the outer layer of leaves. Cut in half.
4. Cut the mushrooms into chunks and dice the onion. 
5. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, mix the veggies, bacon grease and seasonings (except for the vinegar).
6. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring once. 
7. Add the crumbled cooked bacon and the balsamic vinegar to the veggies. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Shredded Pork Tacos with Tear-Free Tortillas

We took almost three weeks off and went out the Outer Banks, NC to visit with family and relax on the beach. It was fantastic, and a much needed break. But now we've been home for a bit and it's time to get back into the swing of things. I've been struggling with menu planning. I just don't seem to want to put the effort into figuring out what we're going to eat. Unfortunately Tommy still needs to eat something, so not cooking is not an option. So we've been having some good standbys like MeatloafCarolina BBQ, and Chicken Pot Pie with Bacon.

The other day I picked up a big package of boneless country style pork ribs from Costco, so tonight we're having pork tacos. I served them with some Wholly Guacamole and a quick Pico de Gallo. Ben and I also had a little shredded cheese on ours. I was going to put some shredded lettuce on there too, but it turns out the lettuce in my fridge froze, so no lettuce for us. 

I really dislike making homemade tortillas from scratch. I just don't seem to have the technique down to be able to roll them thin enough for my taste and still be able to transfer them to the pan. I'm not quite ready to relive the frustration of making sorghum flour tortillas (read about my last attempt here). So my goal for tonight was to improve on my Millet Tortilla Pancakes and make a lighter tasting tortilla that can still be poured into the pan. 

I'm quite happy to announce that these were so successful! If you taste the tortilla by itself it tastes sort of like a pancake, but in a taco it's delicious. Very similar to the soft taco sized flour tortillas you can buy at the store. They are flexible and sturdy enough hold the filling. And best of all, they require NO ROLLING! This is the first time that I have made gluten free Tommy safe tortillas without any tears or cussing. A definite success. Yes, there is still room for improvement to make them a little thinner and a little less chewy, but my sanity is worth more than that. So for us, we're just going to relish the fact that I can make tortillas Tommy can eat without losing my mind.

I was in a hurry this morning to get out the door to meet a friend at the library, so I didn't bother measuring any of the spices for the pork. I just sprinkled the seasonings on the pork and turned on the crock pot. I used more of the smoked paprika, black pepper and cinnamon and less of the salt, cayenne and chipotle powder. If you want a pork recipe with actual measurements, try my Carnitas Tacos. Here's a picture of the raw seasoned pork to get a rough idea of how much seasoning I used.

Shredded Pork

~ 3 lb Country Style Pork Ribs (1/2 of a Costco pack)
Smoked Paprika
Black Pepper
Ground Cinnamon
Cayenne Pepper
Chipotle Powder

1. Optional: Line crock pot with liner.
2. Place pork in crock pot. Sprinkle with the seasonings.
3. Cook on low for 8 hours.
4. Shred the pork, removing any large pieces of fat. Use a gravy separator to remove most of the fat from the cooking liquid. Return the shredded pork and liquid to the crock pot and stir well.

Pico de Gallo

3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lime juice concentrate
1/4 tsp granulated garlic

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.

Tear-Free Gluten Free Tortillas
Makes ~14 Soft Taco Sized Tortillas

2 1/4 cup water, divided
1 cup lite coconut milk
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup potato starch
2 Tbsp mild flavored oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp whole psyllium husks
1/2 tsp salt

1. In a large bowl, combine the psyllium husks with 1/4 cup water and the oil. Whisk together to form a smooth gel.
2. Add the coconut milk, whisking to reduce lumps.
3. Stir in the remaining ingredients until a smooth batter is formed. It should be quite runny.
4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with oil. 
5. Pour 1/3 cup of the batter into the hot pan, gently swirling the batter once around the pan. Cook for a few minutes until bubbles form. Flip and cook for another minute or so until lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining batter. 
6. Store the leftovers in a plastic bag with wax or parchment paper between the tortillas. I have a feeling they may stick together when they cool. Leftover tortillas will need to be warmed before eating.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie with BACON

We had a nice, low-key Father's Day here. We took our nephew up to Snowbird to ride the Tram to the top, and then dropped him off at the airport. I decided to surprise Ben with one of his favorite meals, Chicken Pot Pie. 

And since it was Father's Day, I made it extra special and added bacon. OMG, it was fantastic. I don't know why every Chicken Pot Pie does not contain bacon. The delicious smokiness of the bacon fit right in with all of the rest of the flavors. I will definitely be adding bacon to all my pot pies from now on. 

For this recipe I increased the amount of pie crust and made them into four adult sized pot pies and two minis. I did take Tommy's out of the dish before serving though since the dish retained too much heat. I liked the thicker crust this time, and it stayed together better than when I make it in one casserole dish. If you don't have oven save bowls, feel free to cook this in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. I used to make pot pies with leftover rotisserie chicken and a bag of frozen veggies. Using grilled chicken and roasted veggies add a lot more flavor. I outlined the process for making the pot pie below, in case the recipe instructions seem confusing. 

Game plan for the pot pie:

1. Freeze shortening for the pie crust. 
2. Preheat oven and grill.
3. Start cooking chicken and veggies.
4. Mix the pie crust and let rest in the fridge.
5. Set cooked chicken and veggie aside.
6. Make the cream sauce and add in the chicken and veggies.
7. Pour into pans and top with pie crust.
8. Bake pot pies.

Chicken Pot Pie with Bacon

Chicken Ingredients:
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Veggie Ingredients:
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 small russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 in cubes
1 onion, diced
3 celery ribs, sliced
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic

Cream Sauce Ingredients:
3 strips bacon
2 Tbsp vegan butter or bacon grease
2 Tbsp potato starch
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup canned coconut milk

Pie Crust Ingredients:
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup + 2 Tbsp potato starch
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold water

1. Measure out the shortening into small pieces and freeze for 30 min.
2. Preheat oven to 425°F. Preheat grill to approximately 450°F.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken ingredients, tossing to coat well.
4. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, combine the veggie ingredients, stirring to mix thoroughly. 
5. Grill the chicken for 20-22 minutes, turning once. Remove from the grill and set aside to rest.
6. Roast the veggies for 30 minutes, stirring once. 
7. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
8. In a food processor, combine the starch, flour, sugar, salt, and guar gum. Scatter the shortening over the top and process until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add the cold water and process until smooth. 
9. Spread a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper on the counter. Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. 
10. In a medium sized pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon, reserving the grease. Add vegan butter to get approximately 2 Tbsp of fat. 
11. Whisk the potato starch into the fat and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add the stock and coconut milk, whisking to break up any lump. Cook the liquid for several minutes until thickened. 
12. Chop the cooked chicken into pieces about the size of the veggies. Add the chicken, veggies and crumbled bacon into the cream sauce. Stir to combine.
13. Place 4 oven save bowls and 2 small ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Spray with oil or nonstick spray. Fill with the chicken mixture.
14. Divide the pie crust into 5 pieces. Divide one of the pieces into 2. Roll or form the pieces into circles and place on top of each bowl and ramekin. Gently press the dough around the edge of the bowls and cut slits in the tops. 
15. Bake for 25 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the crusts are cooked. (Don't be alarmed when the pie crusts do not brown.) 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Absolute Favorite Beef Crock Pot Recipe (Beef with Brown Sugar Worcestershire Sauce and Corn-Free Polenta)

I love using the crock pot, especially in the summer. It uses so much less energy than the oven and doesn't heat up the whole kitchen. One of my all-time favorite recipes is Beef with Brown Sugar Worcestershire Sauce. I love the combination of flavors in the sauce. If you want it spicy, increase the chipotle powder a little, or use cayenne pepper instead. It really doesn't take much to make it incredibly spicy though. After my disappointing phone call to Lee and Perrins, I'm now making this recipe with my Homemade Worcestershire Sauce.

I started with Emeril's Beef Short Ribs with Cheddar Polenta and modified the recipe to make it in the crock pot, adjusted the seasonings and added broccoli. We've made this recipe will beef short ribs, stew meat, and roasts. Short ribs are our least favorite. It's harder to get the meat off the bone and it tends to make the sauce pretty greasy. My favorite is stew meat since it's already cut into cubes. Any type of beef roast is great too. This meal makes excellent leftovers too. 

Since Tommy is allergic to corn and dairy, I've made my own recipe for a Corn-Free Polenta. Ground hulled millet acts very similar to coarse cornmeal. I use the milling blade on my Baby Bullet. The final texture is a little chewier/coarser than a traditional polenta, but it sure makes a great substitute for traditional polenta. The polenta can easily be vegan if you use a vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. 

I made this recipe two weeks ago, but the night we were going to eat it we wound up buying a last minute climbing rope in Salt Lake City and ate out instead. I brought the beef on our camping trip. I reheated the beef and sauce mixture on our camping stove and then made the polenta fresh at the campsite with millet I ground at home. OMG, it was definitely the best meal I've ever had camping. It made a ton, but there were no leftovers. I forgot to take any pictures, but it was so good I decided to make it again this week. 

Flash forward to this week, and once again our dinner was postponed. I had the beef going for several hours in the crock pot and then we heard from a friend that he was in town and invited us to join him out to dinner. So once again, the cooked beef went into the fridge for the next day. So I'm 0 for 2 recently on eating this the day I cooked it. Good thing it's even better the next day. 

Beef in Brown Sugar Worcestershire Sauce

2-3 lb beef roast or stew meat
2 medium onions, sliced
2 cups water
6 Tbsp brown sugar
6 Tbsp Homemade Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp coconut aminos or gluten free soy sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp smoke paprika
3 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets

1. Optional: Line crock pot with crock pot liner.
2. Add the beef to the bottom of the crock pot. Top with the onions. 
3. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except for the broccoli. Stir until combined. Pour the sauce over the beef and onions.
4. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
5. Add the broccoli to the crock pot, cover and cook on low for another hour. Serve over mashed potatoes or Corn-Free Polenta.

Corn-Free Polenta

1 1/2 cups hulled millet
2 cans chicken broth
1 can full fat coconut milk
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Pour the hulled millet into a medium saucepan. Run your fingers through the millet to look for any rocks. In batches, grind the millet into a powder using the milling blade of a Baby Bullet, a coffee grinder, or a powerful blender.
2. Add the ground millet, broth and coconut milk to the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking frequently until the polenta is thickened and the millet no longer tastes raw.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Oh the Injustice! (Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Kale with Bacon)

Tonight we had meatloaf, mashed potatoes and sauteed kale with bacon. Ben, our nephew Aaron and I all thought it was delicious. Tommy loved the meatloaf but didn't care for the rest. He picked the bacon out of the kale. Then came the mashed potatoes. Full on toddler/mommy stand-off. He refused to take his required one bite. I told him he could have a cookie if he had one bite of mashed potatoes. Many big tears later he finally agreed. Oh the injustice of having to eat mashed potatoes! Seriously, what kid doesn't like mashed potatoes?! 

For the meatloaf I used some store bought ketchup. I love the Annie's Natural ketchup since they list all the ingredients. It's such a relief to know that there are no hidden mystery spices (which might be mustard). And it's organic too. Apparently I'm out of coconut flour. So tonight I used potato flour in the meatloaf. It worked well, but coconut flour binds a bit better.

I didn't measure anything when I made the mashed potatoes. I made a lot since we had three hungry adults for dinner and I love leftover mashed potatoes. So just season it to taste and keep adding milk and butter until it's the texture you like. When in doubt add more butter. 

The kale shrunk down much more than I expected. Next time I'll use even more. Mmmm, kale. Our nephew is visiting us for a couple weeks. He's been a great sport about eating everything I've made, like eggplant for breakfast, kale for dinner and cabbage in a breakfast burrito. I love cooking for people who aren't afraid to try anything.


1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1/2 cup dried minced onions
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
1 Tbsp coconut flour or potato flour
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried sage

1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
2. In a small bowl, combine the minced onion and coconut milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients except for the ketchup. Add in the onion mixture and 1/3 cup ketchup. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
4. Form the meat into a loaf on the lined baking sheet.
5. Spread the remaining ketchup over the top of the meatloaf.
6. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the internal temperature is at least 160°F.
7. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Mashed Potatoes

I didn't measure anything, since I wasn't even sure how many potatoes I used. I peeled the russet potatoes, boiled them until tender, drained and returned them to the pot. I mashed them with Earth's Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, canned coconut milk, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion and a little smoked paprika. They turned out delicious. The coconut flavor isn't overwhelming as long as you have a good amount of the spices.

Sauteed Kale with Bacon

1 bunch kale
3 strips bacon
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp salt

1. Devain the kale and break into smallish pieces. Wash throughly, drain, and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside.
3. Add the kale and seasonings to the pan. Saute over medium heat until the kale is tender. Stir in the crumbled bacon.