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.



Meatloaf

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.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Loaded Sweet Potato Salad

I was trying to figure out what kind of side dish I could bring to a BBQ that was tasty, Tommy safe and good cold. I don't care for regular mayonnaise based potato salads. But I figured if I made one with the cream from a can of coconut milk, and loaded it with bacon it would be ok. And I was right. This is delicious. I forgot to take a picture right when I made it, and this was all that was left. I'll definitely be making this a lot this summer. 



Loaded Sweet Potato Salad

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ~3/4 in cubes
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 slices bacon
1/2 cup cream from a can of whole fat coconut milk
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Reserve the bacon grease.
3. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, combine the sweet potatoes, carrots, pepper, salt, paprika and bacon grease. Toss to coat.
4. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring once, until the veggies are soft but not mushy.
5. In a large bowl, combine the cooked veggies (drain off any remaining grease), coconut cream, green onions and crumbled cooked bacon. Serve warm or refrigerate for later.

Monday, June 2, 2014

An Unsatisfying Customer Service Experience (Homemade Worcestershire Sauce)

When Tommy was first diagnosed with food allergies, I read a lot of online support forums about kids with food allergies. I don't read those anymore since I feel like I have a good handle on his allergies and the forum posts are very repetitive. One of the things other moms have talked about is calling the 1-800 numbers on food packages and asking for clarification on ingredients. Especially if they contain "spices" or "natural flavorings." Unfortunately in the US only the Top 8 most common food allergens are required to be clearly labeled. Those are fish, shellfish, soy, dairy, wheat, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. And yes, the list says "wheat" and not "gluten". So that may mean that things can contain barley and rye unless it specifically says gluten free. 

My favorite recipe for beef in the crock pot uses a bunch of Worcestershire Sauce. The ingredients on the label are all things Tommy has now had (even anchovies and tamarind), except for "natural flavorings." I googled recipes for making your own Worcestershire Sauce and about half of them included mustard. So I decided to put on my big girl panties and call Lee and Perrins' customer service.

What a disappointment. The lady that answered the phone said she could not tell me whether or not it contained mustard. She said that even she was not given complete list of ingredients. I understand a company wanting to keep it's recipe a secret, but I hung up the phone feeling very frustrated. Mustard is a relatively common food allergy and is required to be labeled in the European Union and Canada. I bet I'm not the first person who has called asking about mustard. 

So I grumpily decided I'm no longer buying Worcestershire Sauce. Now I'll be making my own from ingredients I already had in the pantry anyway. Lee and Perrin's, you just lost a customer. I read through multiple recipes online and created my own recipe. It doesn't taste exactly like the bottled version, but I sure do like knowing exactly what it's made of. I used some of it the first day I made it, but I bet the flavor will get even better after sitting in the fridge for several days.


Homemade Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp fish sauce
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp granulated onion
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a tight fitting lid. Cover and shake until mixed. This can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for several weeks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Carolina BBQ

Ben's family has a beach house out in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. It has been such an amazing place for his family to get together and for all the cousins to really get to know each other. One of my absolute favorite foods out at the beach is Carolina BBQ pulled pork. This is North Carolina style, so it's a runny, vinegar based tomato sauce. It is NOT the South Carolina BBQ style mustard based sauce.


Years ago Ben's mom and aunt put together a family cookbook of all their favorite family recipes. One of those was for homemade Carolina BBQ. I've kept pretty close to that original recipe for the pork, but over the years I've come up with my own sauce recipe. I never measure the spices for the dry rub. Generally I use more paprika and lighter on the chipotle/cayenne pepper. That's a personal preference so it's not too spicy for Tommy.

I love making it in the crock pot. Be careful that you don't buy a roast too big for your crock pot. It's a pain to trim it down, especially if it has bones. I like picnic roasts or Boston Butt. Ideally you want something with a lot of fat and bone-in. One time I made pulled pork with a small pork tenderloin roast and the pork was so dry it was almost inedible. Basically I buy the cheapest large pork roast I can find. Costco has some great ones. The packages at our Costco are huge, but each one contains two roasts, so I freeze one for later.

There's a little BBQ hut in the town of Corolla, NC called Corolla Village BBQ that is sooooo good. The restaurant is little more than a walk-up counter and some picnic benches, but they sure make tasty food. Just a word of warning, you may insult the owner if you ask for a lot of extra sauce. Apparently we have a very different opinions on how much sauce a Carolina BBQ sandwich needs.

My sauce recipe is based on Corolla Village BBQ's. It's sour, sweet and a little spicy. If you want more heat, add more crushed red pepper flakes. Or make the sauce in advance and let it sit in the fridge for a week. Over time the sauce gets hotter. You can make a larger batch of the sauce and can it for later (water boil method pints for 10 minutes at sea level, 20 min in Utah). If you can the sauce, be sure to stir it frequently when you're filling the jars otherwise the pepper will all settle to the bottom.

We love this stuff. So do our friends. I am not ashamed to admit I have used this pork recipe multiple times to bribe people into coming over to help us move furniture. 


According to Ben, this is the way to make a Carolina BBQ sandwich. First comes the bottom of a hamburger bun, then a pile of pork, more sauce, creamy coleslaw and then the top of the bun. I don't care for creamy coleslaw, so I make my own slaw with the shredded cabbage and the Carolina BBQ sauce. I'll even share with you guys my recipe for Creamy Coleslaw. 

Carolina BBQ

4-8 lb Pork Roast (Picnic/Shoulder/Boston Butt)
Paprika
Smoked Paprika
Ground Black Pepper
Ground Chipotle Pepper or Cayenne Pepper
(Optional) Liquid Smoke
(Optional) Crock Pot Liner

1. Optional: Line crock pot with a Crock Pot Liner.
2. Sprinkle spices and a few dashes of liquid smoke onto the meatier side of the roast and rub in.
3. Place roast in the crock pot, fat side up. Add more spices and liquid smoke, rubbing into the meat.
4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
5. Shred the pork removing the fat, bones and connective tissue.
6. Stir in some Carolina BBQ Sauce.


Carolina BBQ Sauce

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1. Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. 
2. Heat over medium heat, whisking frequently until the sugar dissolves.


 Creamy Coleslaw

Shredded Cabbage or Prepackaged Coleslaw
Hidden Valley Coleslaw Dressing

Mix the coleslaw with the dressing. Start by adding a couple tablespoons of the dressing for a good sized bowl of coleslaw. Add more dressing to get to the consistency you want.

Yup, we use bottled Coleslaw Dressing. Ben has made his own dressing a few times from scratch using plain yogurt, but usually we just use the bottled stuff.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saucing It Up and Whole30 Steak Stir Fry

Today was a sauce making day. I made ketchup, salsa and a stir fry sauce. I'm glad my food processor is still hanging in there even though it has multiple cracks. 

I made The Clothes Make the Girl's Kickass Ketchup. I followed her recipe exactly except that I omitted the mustard. I used 1/8 tsp cloves and allspice.

I also made the Food Network's Ree Drummond's Restaurant-Style Salsa, minus the sugar. It isn't as good as my friend Eleanor's salsa, but it is tasty, easy and makes a large batch. I was getting tired of just having hot sauce on my eggs in the morning. This salsa will be a delicious change. 

We have a lot of leftover steak from making fajitas this weekend and my FAVORITE use for leftover steak is Steak Stir Fry. Before Whole30 I would make a stir fry sauce with hoisin sauce, ketchup and some other ingredients. But hoisin sauce is definitely off the plan and the kind I buy locally isn't Tommy safe anyway. So I created a new stir fry sauce that is Whole30 and Tommy safe. And instead of rice we'll be having the stir fry with spiralized sweet potatoes. This sauce turned out really good (if I do say so myself). It's sort of sour, a little sweet and has a little spice. And it's super easy.  The flavors worked really well with the steak and sweet potatoes. Yum. 

If you haven't gotten the message, I'm loving my Paderno Spiralizer. It's such an easy way to make veggie noodles and hash browns too. If you don't have a spiralizer, you could always serve this stir fry over rice, millet or quinoa.


Stir Fry Sauce

1/2 cup Kickass Ketchup
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp coconut aminos
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp tamarind paste
1/4 tsp granulated garlic (garlic powder)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir until smooth.



Steak Stir Fry with Sweet Potato Noodles

2 sweet potatoes
2 cups cooked and sliced steak
8 oz can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
4 large cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbsp oil, divided
1 recipe Stir Fry Sauce

Cooking the Sweet Potato Noodles
1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a dutch oven sized pot over medium heat.
2. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop a little off one of the short ends to make it flat.
3. Firmly press the sweet potato into place on the spiralizer, with the small spiral cutting blade.
4. Cut the sweet potato into spiral noodles. Repeat with the other sweet potato.
5. Add the sweet potatoes to the pot. Cook until crisp tender, carefully stirring the sweet potatoes so they cook evenly.

Preparing the Rest
1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned.
3. Add the steak and bamboo shoots. Saute for a couple minutes until warmed. 
4. Add the stir fry sauce and heat thoroughly, stirring continuously.
5. Pour the contents of the skillet into the noodle pot. Carefully stir together.