Friday, December 27, 2013

Creamless cauliflower clam chowder with bacon and leeks

When it's cold out, I can't get enough soup. It's pretty much all I want to eat. New England clam chowder is tasty and filling with a nice hit of protein from the clams. However, I wanted to do one better and make it without all the cream and potatoes. I recently made a pureed cauliflower soup and wondered if it could be used as the base of a cream soup instead of dairy. It worked splendidly and required no additional starch thickeners. I also added some leeks and crispy bacon for a flavor boost (I found sugar-free bacon at the farmer's market!). I served it with some nori crisps in lieu of oyster crackers, and it made for a totally satisfying meal.

CREAMLESS CAULIFLOWER CLAM CHOWDER WITH BACON AND LEEKS
Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS
  • Four 6.5 oz cans of chopped or baby clams packed in clam juice (not packed in water)
  • 16 oz bottled clam juice
  • 1.5 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1.25 lbs), cut into florets
  • Four slices thick-cut bacon, chopped into 1/4" pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tbs fresh minced parsley leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain all but a teaspoon of grease.
  2. Increase heat to medium and add the leeks. Saute for a couple of minutes or until soft. Remove about 2/3 of the leeks and reserve for later, leaving the remaining third in the pot.
  3. Stir in the cauliflower, then add the clam juice, juice from the canned clams (but not the clams themselves), water, and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the cauliflower is quite soft, about 30 minutes. The cauliflower should be soft enough to mash with a fork.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. You can alternately transfer everything to a blender in batches but an immersion blender is much easier!
  5. Stir in the clams, leeks, bacon, and parsley. Simmer for a couple minutes to let flavors meld. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I like LOTS of pepper but very little salt since the clams, clam juice, and bacon are quite salty). Serve!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sugar-free low-carb peppermint bark

I really wanted to create some kind of Christmas cookie or candy recipe. This time of year, there are temptations everywhere with folks giving away sweets seemingly everywhere you go. So, it's nice to be able to bring an option that is more in line with your own way of eating.

I am CRAZY about peppermint bark, which is pretty much just dark chocolate, white chocolate, plus crushed peppermint candies. The white chocolate layer is the most challenging. Since I previously developed a recipe for sugar-free dairy-free white chocolate, I knew that I had a solution here. For the regular chocolate layer, you can either use very dark storebought chocolate such as Lindt 90% or add stevia to unsweetened 100% chocolate. Now we just have the peppermint candy. You have a few options here:
  • My top choice would probably be xylitol peppermints such as these. Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar zero-calorie sugar alcohol; more info here.
  • If you just want to reduce carbs and calories, you can easily find sugar-free mints such as these at most drugstores or supermarkets.
  • If you would rather use real sugar but avoid additives like high-fructose corn syrup, you can get organic mints such as these or these. You could also try health food stores such as Whole Foods.
  • Finally, I used two layers of peppermint candies with six crushed candies sprinkled on each chocolate layer. You could just reduce the overall quantity and use six instead on the top layer only with none on the dark chocolate.
SUGAR-FREE LOW-CARB PEPPERMINT BARK
Makes about 1/2 pound

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate or unsweetened chocolate + stevia equivalent of 1/4 cup sugar (note: many chocolate bars are sold as 3.5 oz; that's fine, just use 3.5 oz instead of 4 if that's easier.)
  • 2 oz (weight) food-grade cocoa butter (I use this stuff)
  • 1 packet (about 1.75 ounces) coconut milk powder (I buy Roxy brand from the local Asian market, which is unsweetened)
  • Stevia equivalent of 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 6-12 peppermint candies (see note above)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or ghee
DIRECTIONS
  1. Chop the dark chocolate and crush the peppermint candies.
  2. Put the dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl with the coconut oil. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and then microwave at 10-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. If using unsweetened chocolate + stevia, stir in the stevia now. Scrape the melted chocolate into a loaf pan or tupperware container (I used a Gladware entree container). Shake lightly to distribute. If using twelve candies for two layers of peppermint, sprinkle half of the crushed peppermints evenly over the chocolate. Put the container in the freezer and set aside.
  3. Next, make the white chocolate layer. Put the cocoa butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for a minute, stir, and then microwave again for 30-second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval. Vigorously whisk in the coconut milk powder, stevia, and pinch of salt until smooth.
  4. Remove the container holding the chocolate from the freezer. Scrape the white chocolate over the dark chocolate layer, shaking lightly to distribute. Sprinkle six crushed peppermint candies over the white chocolate layer and place into the freezer to solidify.
  5. When completely solid, cut into squares or break into pieces and serve. Keep it cold until serving, preferably in the freezer.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cornbread stuffing with caramelized onion & sage (low-carb, gluten free!)

Back in August, I posted a recipe for low-carb cornbread made with pureed baby corn along with ground nuts and coconut flour. You can read more about it (and my rationale for giving the nod to baby corn) at the original post here. In short, baby corn is more cob than grain and mostly fiber, so it's a way of adding corn flavor without the nutritional pitfalls of cornmeal. I knew when I made it that I would ultimately make it into stuffing. I've previously made herbed coconut flour stuffing with pancetta and leeks, which I still love, but I think this tastes even more like traditional cornbread dressing.

Stuffing recipes are often dressed up with meat such as sausage or bacon, or fruit, or nuts, but this is actually my favorite kind of stuffing: just some basic veggies and herbs. I added some chopped mushrooms for the textural contrast as well as caramelized onion and sage. Of course caramelized onions take forever to cook, so if you're short on time feel free to just do a conventional saute. I would be confident serving this to company, even those who subsist off a standard American diet. It's that good!

LOW-CARB CORNBREAD STUFFING WITH CARAMELIZED ONION & SAGE
Makes 16 squares

INGREDIENTS

For the cornbread:
  • One 15 oz can baby corn, drained
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 Tbs cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut flour (it's pretty expensive to buy a whole bag so I bought a small bag of chopped hazelnuts in the baking section and ground them myself in a blender)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Softened ghee, butter, or bacon fat for greasing the pan
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Put the baby corn, egg, and vinegar in a food processor. Puree until smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the almond flour, hazelnut flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture to the food processor and pulse just enough to combine, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Grease a 9"x5" loaf pan with the teaspoon of fat. Scrape in the cornbread dough; it will be thick like cookie dough, not a pourable batter. Press down on the top to form an even layer. It is easiest to do this with a rubber spatula, or you can cover it with a piece of plastic wrap, press it out with your hands, then discard the plastic wrap.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
For the stuffing:
  • 1 recipe low-carb cornbread (see above)
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced (I used the food processor fitted with a slicing disk)
  • 6 oz (weight) button or crimini mushrooms, stemmed and diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced (my celery was pretty scrawny so I used 6 ribs)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs fresh minced sage
  • 2 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbs + extra fat of choice for cooking (I used duck fat, olive oil or ghee would also work)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Cut the cornbread into 1/2" cubes. Spread them out evenly in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, including the crumbs. Bake at 250 degrees for an hour to dry out.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Melt the tablespoon of fat or oil in large Dutch oven over medium head. Add the sliced onion and toss to coat evenly with oil. Cook for a bit on medium until just starting to soften, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sticky and caramelized and greatly reduced in volume. You may need to add a bit more fat as you cook if the onions start to stick.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat a bit of fat for sauteeing. Add the mushrooms and cook until they just start to give up a bit of liquid. Add the celery and saute until all of the vegetables are softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds or until fragrant and straw-colored. Season with salt and pepper and set aside on a plate to cool.
  5. Grease a 13"x9" pan. Add the dry muffin cubes and the celery-mushroom mixture, including all of the butter and pan juices. You can add the onion too if it's done cooking, but it takes so long that I let it cook while the bread cubes were soaking and added the onion at the end.
  6. Beat the eggs + yolk, combine them with chicken broth, and pour over the bread mixture. Also add the sage and additional salt and pepper to taste. Combine everything with your hands, squeezing and crumbling the bread cubes to ensure that they soak up plenty of liquid. Let soak for an hour. If you hadn't previously added the onion, stir it into the stuffing mixture.
  7. Bake, uncovered, at 400 for about an hour or until the top is browned and crisp.
QUICKER VARIATION: Instead of caramelizing onion, you can just use a cup of chopped onion instead and add it with the mushrooms. You won't use as much raw onion because it doesn't shrink as much if you don't fully caramelize it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Autumn ambrosia


Ambrosia salad is typically a mix of canned fruit cocktail, miniature marshmallows, canned orange segments, sweetened coconut, and nuts swimming in whipped topping and sometimes even mayonnaise. As you may imagine, this doesn’t sound terribly appetizing to me. However, the concept of fruit and cream with coconut and chopped nuts is pretty close to heaven, so I set out to give this dish a makeover. While we never had it growing up, apparently it’s somewhat traditional on Thanksgiving, so I thought it would be a nice holiday post. You can serve this as a side dish, or put it out with dessert for an option with natural sweetness but no added sugar.

I wanted to leverage fresh, seasonal fruit rather than opening a bunch of cans. I settled on persimmons, pomegrante, and citrus, all of which are in abundance right now. In fact, I gathered the fruit for this dish by biking around, picking fruit, and stowing it in my front basket. For a dairy-free option which doesn’t involve Cool Whip (yes, it’s dairy-free...creepy) or mayonniase I whipped up some chilled coconut cream. This is a nice step-by-step photo tutorial so that you can visualize how it’s done. Finally, I folded in fresh grated coconut and toasted walnuts. Desiccating a whole coconut was a major pain, but it definitely made a difference. You can certainly substitute bagged coconut flakes if you’d like to save on time and effort. I used walnuts since I always see these guys at the farmer’s market, but pecans would be a fantastic alternative.

You can choose pretty much any citrus you’d like, but I recommend selecting something on the sweet side since we’re not adding any sugar or marshmallows. I love the flavor of grapefruit but the sweetness can range quite a bit, so only use grapefruit if you’re sure that your fruit is sweet rather than bitter. Alternately, use orange or tangerines. Pomelo, blood orange, or cara cara orange would also be some exotic seasonal choices.

AUTUMN AMBROSIA
Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled for several hours or preferably overnight (I have personally gotten this to work with Thai Kitchen and Savoy brands, and I have seen it done with Native Forest, but I cannot vouch for any others)
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (about 2 small pomegranates or 1 large)
  • 1 cup very ripe fuyu persimmion, peeled and cut into chunks (about 5 persimmions)
  • 1 cup orange or grapefruit segments, halved crosswise (I used 1.5 grapefruits; see recipe description for more information on choosing citrus)
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup freshly-grated coconut or unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Ensure that the can of coconut milk is very cold. Prep all of your fruit and have it ready to go. Take the mixing bowl and beaters that you will be using for the coconut cream and put them in the freezer.
  2. Toast the walnuts or pecans in a large, dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant but not burnt. Spread out on a plate and set in the refrigerator to cool.
  3. Flip the can of coconut milk upside-down and open the bottom of the can. Pour off the liquid. Plop the coconut milk solids in the chilled mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk attachment until the consistency of whipped cream. Add the spices and beat for a few seconds to combine.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the fruit, coconut, and toasted nuts.
  5. Chill for several hours or overnight. Serve cold

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tart & spicy cranberry-apple sauce

Cranberry sauce with no added sugar or sweetener is a challenge. Those berries are so incredibly tart that you generally need to add lots of extra sweetness to compensate. The only other option really is to combine them with another naturally-sweeter fruit and reduce the overall proportion of cranberries. Hence, cranberry apple sauce was born. I've been making applesauce in my crock pot fairly regularly, and it's so easy to do. Adding cranberries to the mix worked beautifully, and I also added some warm spices at the end for a bit of extra flavor depth.
I happen to be a fan of the weird jellied cranberry sauces that comes from a can, and I wondered if perhaps I could also use this as a base to make my own. I added gelatin along with cran-apple juice and poured it into mini-bundt molds, although a loaf pan would also work for serving it in slices. As a bonus, this was sweeter due to the added juice. The fresh cranberry-apple sauce is still a bit tart, but that's just the reality of cranberries. Make it either way you like!


TART & SPICY CRANBERRY APPLE SAUCE
Makes about a quart

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lbs apples (I'd use a sweet variety)
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed and bruised ones removed
  • 1&1/4 cups cranberry-apple juice (read your labels, I used a brand that was 100% juice)
  • 1/4 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice (optional)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Peel, core, and slice your apples. I peel them with a vegetable peeler, scoop out the stem and bottom ends with a tomato huller, cut them in half lengthwise, and use a melon baller to scoop out the core. Then I cut each half again so I have quarters and either slice thinly by hand or run them through a food processor fit with a slicing disk.
  2. Combine the apples, cran-apple juice, and cranberries in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring once halfway through.
  3. Add the spices, if desired, and mash with a potato masher until as smooth as you can get it.
VARIATION: JELLIED CRANBERRY-APPLE SAUCE: While the sauce is still hot from the crock pot, measure out 3 cups  and combine it with 5 tsp gelatin (preferably grass-fed such as this brand). If using packets such as Knox, use 5 tsp = 2 packets. Whisk it together thoroughly. Add 3 cups cold cranberry-apple juice and whisk until combined. Pour into a 9x5 loaf pan lined with plastic wrap or a ring mold or a bundt pan. Let chill overnight or until set.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving recipe round-up!

I've posted a lot of Thanksgiving recipes in years past. I'm working on a couple new recipes which will be posted next week! But in the meantime, I thought I'd showcase my existing Thanksgiving recipes for anyone starting their menu planning.

Turkey with gravy


I've never roasted a whole turkey on the blog. However, once I made a turkey breast roast so that I could try out my porcini-herb compound butter. Meat with a compound butter instead of gravy is traditional and fancy in a delightfully old-fashioned sort of way. If you avoid lactose and casein, you can substitute ghee, which is pure butterfat with the milk solids clarified out. I served this at Thanksgiving a few years back and everybody loved it.
Stuffing

I've made two low-carb/grain-free stuffing recipes on this blog. The first is herbed "cornbread" stuffing with pancetta and leeks. I made muffins resembling cornbread using coconut flour, and then turned that into stuffing. I did serve this at Thanksgiving and nobody could tell the difference. Maybe if I just served the muffins you'd know it wasn't cornbread, but in stuffing everything is all soaked and mashed up anyway.
The other stuffing recipe that I made is more of a whole foods option that doesn't use alternative flours and doesn't attempt to mimic bread. In fact, this one is Whole30 approved and was featured on Whole9. Cauliflower "wild rice" and sausage stuffing also adds pecans and veggies and results in a yummy but still traditional-tasting side.



Orange veggie

Some kind of orange vegetable always hits Thanksgiving tables. Usually it's sweet potato, but sometimes it's squash or carrots; there are plenty of nice sweet potato recipes out there and I wanted to devise some lower carb options. One of my favorites is sour cream and onion spaghetti squash gratin, which uses coconut milk solids and lemon juice to create a dairy-free sour cream effect. If you eat dairy, spaghetti squash with ricotta, sage, pignoli, and parmesan is a great option. For something a bit sweeter, try my coconut carrot souffle, baked in a large souffle dish instead of individual ramekins. Or savory carrot halwa, using the smaller amount of cardamom suggested in the range. In fact, when I made the carrot halwa my husband's first reaction was that it tasted like a Thanksgiving side. Or, go super-simple with roasted delicata squash wedges with rosemary. Delicata squash is so yummy that it doesn't need any gussying up. Best part is, you can eat the skin so no peeling required!
Spaghetti squash with ricotta, sage, pignoli, and parmesan
Coconut carrot souffle
Savory carrot halwa
Cranberry sauce


This one's a toughie. Unsweetened cranberries are almost unbearably tart and bitter, so it's difficult to devise something without lots of sweetener. Cranberry, apple, and onion chutney is a preparation where you expect it to be savory rather than sweet. It has lots of sauteed onions and spices like mustard seed, curry powder, and red pepper flakes. This makes it a perfect relish to complement turkey or ham. I also made sugar-free cranberry-grapefruit relish with mint, though I used quite a bit of artificial sweetener for that.


Veggie sides

There's a lot, so let's just blitz through these:
Rosemary mashed "potatoes", without a steamer 
Spicy parmesan green beans with kale
Broccoli rabe with garlic and pepper flakes
Balsamic-glazed rainbow chard
Cauliflower puree with roasted garlic, chevre, and asiago 
Oven-roasted mustard greens with bacon

Dessert

Finally, dessert. Everyone went wild over pumpkin tiramisu. I've also made pumpkin pave, kind of a cross between crustless pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake. Other fall-appropriate desserts include dairy-free mini cheesecakes with bacon-apple topping and beet-chocolate cupcakes with goat cheese frosting.
Pumpkin pave 
Dairy-free mini cheesecakes with bacon-apple topping 
Beet-chocolate cupcakes with goat cheese frosting

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Herbed pork tenderloin with roasted pumpkin applesauce

This is a bit of a twist on pork chops with applesauce. In fact, I've also made this with bone-in pork chops, but for this particular meal I had a nice pork tenderloin that I wanted to use. I got the idea for pumpkin applesauce from this recipe. She used ready-made applesauce and canned pumpkin puree, which you can certainly do. However, my apple tree continues to produce unrelentingly, and the farmer's market has those nice little sugar pie pumpkins, so I made mine from scratch. I'm crazy about fresh pumpkin these days, especially if I roast it first and get a nice caramelization.

Homemade applesauce also made a big difference, partially because the apples were so flavorful and partially because I liked that it was on the chunky side. I used my crock pot which made it particularly easy. Just combine 1 cup of water with the juice of 1 lemon in your slow cooker. Take 4 lbs of apples and peel, core, quarter, and slice thinly. Throw them into the slow cooker in the lemon-water mixture as you cut them up. Then cover and cook on low for about 4 hours. I used a potato masher at the end to smooth it out, but if you want it completely pureed you can use an immersion blender or food processor.

I seasoned the pork simply with salt, pepper, rosemary, and sage. You could use dried herbs or fresh ones. I still have lots of rosemary in my herb garden but I only had dried sage, so I used a combination.

HERBED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH ROASTED PUMPKIN APPLESAUCE
Serves 3-4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 pork tenderloin, about a pound (can substitute 4 pork chops instead)
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 Tbs minced fresh sage or 1 tsp dried
  • Fat of choice for cooking
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (can substitute water in a pinch)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (see description for recipe for homemade applesauce, or buy it pre-made)
  • 1/4 cup roasted pumpkin puree (I used this recipe and then mashed it with a potato masher; alternately just buy canned pumpkin puree)
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used Spicehound)
  • Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the applesauce, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  2. Cut the pork tenderloin crosswise into four pieces. For each piece, set it on one of the cut sides on a piece of plastic wrap, cover it with another piece of plastic wrap, and pound it flat with a meat mallet. It should end up 1/4"-1/2" thick. Season both sides of each pork medallion with salt, pepper, sage, and rosemary.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add a bit of oil to coat the pan. Sear the pork on each side until nicely browned, then check for doneness. The meat should have a slightly pink color but should be cooked through with clear juices. If it needs to cook longer, cover the pan and reduce heat to low. Cook until done. Remove the pork and set them on a plate, tented with foil to keep warm.
  4. Pour off any excess grease from the pan, if present. Turn the heat on the pan back to medium-high, then add the chicken broth or water and boil, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze it. Once it has reduced to about a tablespoon of liquid, stir it into the pumpkin applesauce.
  5. Serve the pork with the pumpkin applesauce and some green vegetables or a salad.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Orange-spice cold brewed coffee

Isn't it weird how we don't typically associate citrus with fall and winter? I tend to think of citrus as a summery flavor, yet it's in season in the colder months. I have an orange tree and the fruit is juuuust starting to ripen. So I decided to add it to this recipe.

I'm a big fan of cold-brewed coffee, whether I drink it iced or heat it up. You can read more about it in my cold brew tutorial here. Infusing it with citrus peel and spices gave it a nice subtle flavor without adding any sugar. It's a bit reminiscent of mulled wine, so I think that Ethiopian beans would be a nice choice for this, since they have some wine-y notes. However, any beans would certainly work!

ORANGE SPICE COLD BREW COFFEE
Makes 4 cups of double concentrate

INGREDIENTS
  • 2/3 cup coffee beans
  • 3-4 strips of orange zest (use a vegetable peeler to get the outer orange part only, without the white pith)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves

DIRECTIONS
  1. Follow the cold brew tutorial here, adding the spices and orange zest to the water along with the ground beans.
  2. To serve, dilute 1:1 with water. For iced coffee, I love using unsweetened coconut water to dilute it. Or for hot coffee, I love it bulletproof style sprinkled with cinnamon. But serve it any way you'd like!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Apple spice protein pancakes (grain-, dairy-, and nut-free)

My apple tree runneth over. Seriously, I have far more apples than I know what to do with. So expect some apple-y recipes for the next few weeks at least. First up: pancakes! My weekday breakfast is typically smoked sausage with sauerkraut, largely because it is so easy, but I had a lazy Saturday morning and felt like making pancakes. This is similar to my fluffy buttermilk pancake recipe, but I modified it a bit to make it dairy-free. I also amped up the flavor with some warm spices and a touch of molasses, resulting in an apple spice cake taste.

APPLE SPICE PANCAKES
Makes 6 pancakes (about two servings)

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 eggs, separated (make sure not to get any drops of yolk in the white)
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg whites or egg substitute (or 4 fresh egg whites)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (either lite or full-fat will work)
  • 1/2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs unflavored or vanilla protein powder*
  • 3 Tbs coconut flour
  • 1 Tbs arrowroot or tapioca flour (or just use an extra tablespoon of coconut flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp each ground nutmeg, allspice, and cloves
    (note: if you'd like, you can substitute 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the all of the spices)
  • 1 apple, cored and cut into eight wedges, then wedges sliced very thin
  • Coconut oil, ghee, or butter for greasing the pan
DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the coconut milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Start preheating a nonstick skillet over medium-low.
  3. Beat the egg whites that came from the whole eggs with a big pinch of salt. Use an electric mixer with whisk attachment to beat the whites until they reach soft peaks. Set aside.
  4. Combine the coconut milk mixture, egg yolks, liquid egg whites, molasses, and vanilla extract in a medium-sized bowl and whisk well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, arrowroot or tapioca, protein powder, baking powder, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until thoroughly combined. Stir in HALF of the chopped apple.
  5. Vigorously stir about a fourth of the whipped egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Fold the remaining whipped egg whites into the batter mixture, being careful not to deflate the whites.
  6. For each pancake, brush lightly with oil or grease with a bit of butter. Pour a quarter cup of batter into the skillet, shaking lightly to distribute batter (it will be slightly mounded up due to the beaten egg whites). Be sure to scoop the batter from the bottom of the bowl as the apple slices will sink. Cook until bubbles are visible on top, then flip the pancake over and cook until the other side is golden brown.
  7. While the pancakes are cooking, heat a bit of oil or ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining apple and saute until softened. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and remove from heat.
  8. Serve the pancakes topped with sauteed apples.
 *I used unflavored unsweetened beef protein isolate for these. Yes, beef. I love it in gluten-free baked goods. You can read about why it works well in the guest post I made on Protein Pow. However, feel free to substitute your favorite protein powder, or just leave it out.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Afghani pumpkin and beef (Kaddo Bourani)

It's pumpkin season! I get excited when I see pumpkin recipes, but there is one recipe instruction that pretty much guarantees that I won't be making that dish:
(relevant Know Your Meme entry)
I'm not gonna do it. Nuh-uh. Not gonna happen. However, there's an Afghani dish involving pumpkin that I really wanted to recreate at home. My solution? Cut a pumpkin in half, roast it until soft, then easily peel off the rind and cut the flesh into cubes. This caused far less gnashing of teeth, plus I got that nice roasty caramelized flavor in the oven that you don't quite get from the stove top.
"Sugar Pie" pumpkin cut in half and roasted.

Slice it into wedges...

Use a paring knife to slide the soft pumpkin off of the skin.

So how did I discover kaddo bourani, anyway? Well, I was in New York visiting my family and I came across an Afghani restaurant, Khyber Pass. If I see a cuisine which I've never tried, I immediately want to eat it. So we walked in and were treated to meaty dishes with eggplant, pumpkin, bell pepper, and okra. My kind of eating! Seeing as its pumpkin season, I decided to recreate this particular dish at home. Normally it is served with a yogurt sauce, but to keep it dairy-free I made a tangy coconut milk dressing.

AFGHANI PUMPKIN AND BEEF (KADDO BOURANI)
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 pumpkin, any variety intended for cooking rather than decoration. I used a 2.5 lb "Sugar Pie" pumpkin, which produced about 8 cups of cubes.
  • 1 onion, chopped (about a cup)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 Tbs fresh ginger root, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • One 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 cup thick full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh mint leaves
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS
  1.  Combine the coconut milk, lemon juice, mint, and garlic powder. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Put in the refrigerator to chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut your pumpkin in half lengthwise. I use a paring knife to make the initial cut, then I separate the halves with a large chef's knife. Scoop out the seeds. Place it cut side down on a baking sheet lined with nonstick foil or parchment paper (or use regular foil and grease it). Roast for about 30 minutes or until soft but not mushy. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let it cool. 
  3. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef with the minced garlic in a large deep skillet over medium-high. When it is no longer pink, drain the grease (I use a turkey baster) and season with salt, pepper, turmeric, coriander, and cinnamon. Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until ready to eat.
  4. Cut the pumpkin into wedges, then cut the pumpkin away from the skin and cut the flesh into cubes. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the jalapeno and ginger and saute for about a minute or until fragrant. Stir in the pumpkin cubes, then deglaze the pan with a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To serve, mound the pumpkin cubes on a plate, then top with the meat sauce and drizzle with coconut sauce. If desired, garnish with a sprinkle of cayenne.
Prep-ahead variation: You can roast the pumpkin and brown the ground beef with garlic ahead of time, which is what I did.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sweet potato & bacon turkey meatloaf with mustard glaze

I love the flavor of sweet potato, but when it comes to veggie sides I tend to choose ones which are less starchy. So, I like the idea of a meat loaf which incorporates a small amount of sweet potato. I adapted this recipe from PaleOMG, but made a few changes; some for flavor, some to make it a bit less indulgent for a weeknight supper. I nixed the almond flour and scaled back on the quantity of sweet potato, raisins, and bacon. I've found that meat loaf holds together just fine without any binder, so I usually leave it out. I'm also not a huge fan of bacon-wrapped meat loaf since the slices on the outside end up being quite distinct from the loaf itself. Instead, I made an easy sweet mustard glaze by combining mustard and apple butter. The sharpness of the mustard was a nice contrast to the sweet and smoky flavors. Finally, I subbed ground turkey for ground beef, largely because I thought that sweet potato and bacon would complement it nicely.

I thought that the leftovers tasted even better than when it was freshly made, and it freezes beautifully. I individually wrapped the leftover slices and froze them that way. In the morning I grab a couple slices and put them in a tupperware container with some veggies, and by the time I'm ready for lunch the meat has thawed and I just heat everything up in the microwave.

SWEET POTATO & BACON TURKEY MEATLOAF WITH MUSTARD GLAZE
Makes 6 hearty servings

INGREDIENTS
  • 2.5 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion
  • One 6 oz sweet potato (I used half a 12 oz tater)
  • 6 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) golden raisins (I think dried cranberries would work too!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I used super strong Vietnamese cinnamon, if you use something milder you might bump this up to 1.5 tsp)
  • 2 Tbs smooth mustard (I used yellow mustard, you could try Dijon or brown deli mustard)
  • 2 Tbs unsweetened apple butter (can substitute applesauce if you'd like)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Peel and shred the sweet potato. Dice the onion. I did both of these in the food processor.
  3. Put the chopped bacon in a cold skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high. Once the fat starts to render, stir in the raisins, onion, and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until the onions are translucent and the bacon is starting to crisp. Add the cinnamon and stir to combine, sauteeing for about 20 seconds or until fragrant. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  4. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the sweet potato, salt, and pepper. Add the ground
  5. turkey and mix thoroughly (it's easiest if you use your hands). Add the onion-bacon mixture and combine.
  6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (I used nonstick foil). Shape the meat mixture into a loaf on the baking sheet. Combine the apple butter and mustard in a bowl, then evenly coat the loaf with it using a basting brush or the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Savory carrot halwa

At an Indian restaurant, I noticed something on the dessert menu called "carrot halwa". Intrigued by the idea of a carrot-based dessert, I looked it up as soon as I got home. As per the Wikipedia page:
Gajar Ka Halwa (Hindi  : गाजर का हलवा ) (sometimes known as Gajrela, Carrot Halwa or gajar ka gajerela) is a sweet dessert pudding associated mainly with the state of Punjab in India & Pakistan. It is made by placing grated carrot in a pot containing a specific amount of water, milk and sugar and then cooking while stirring regularly. It is often served with a garnish of almonds and pistachios. The nuts and other items used are first sautéed in ghee, a South Asian clarified butter.
Sounds tasty. But, I also didn't really see the need for tons of added sugar. Carrots, raisins, and coconut all have a nice natural sweetness. What I ended up making is more of a side dish that I would serve in similar situations to a sweet potato casserole. I served it with grilled pork chops that I had seasoned with salt, pepper, and curry powder.
I used powdered coconut milk, but I am certain that it would be just as good with canned coconut milk instead. Also, I bought some nice sweet carrots from the farmer's market. I think that good carrots are pretty key to keeping this dish unsweetened. I used a combination of pistachios and almonds, but feel free to use only one or the other, or substitute chopped cashews.

CARROT HALWA
Serves about 8 as a side dish

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 3 Tbs (30 grams) golden raisins
  • 1 Tbs ghee or coconut oil
  • 2 Tbs sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbs pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
  • 1 oz unsweetened powdered coconut milk OR 1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2-1 tsp cardamom seeds, powdered (use 1/2 tsp for a subtle flavor, a full teaspoon if you really like cardamom)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Peel or scrub the carrots. Shred them using a box grater or the shredding disk on a food processor.
  2. Melt the ghee or coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the raisins, almonds, and pistachios. Saute until the nuts and raisins are lightly golden brown. Do NOT burn! Add the cardamom and stir for a couple seconds until fragrant. Add the shredded carrots and stir well to combine.
  3. If using powdered coconut milk, add a cup of water; otherwise, add the canned coconut milk. Cover, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil. Immediately remove the cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. If using powdered coconut milk, stir it into the carrot mixture.
  5. Pack the carrot mixture into an 8x8 pan and let cool. Cut into 16 squares. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quick Ethiopian curry bowls


Typical serving of Ethiopian food; photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
I love the flavors of Ethiopian food, but because of their meal structure, I basically had to give up Ethiopian restaurants except as an occasional treat. For the uninitiated, Ethiopian food is generally small piles of sautes (called tibs) and stews (known as wat) served with tons of thick injera pancakes. Instead of silverware, you use the pancakes to scoop up bits of cooked food. So it's very much a grain flour based meal, with tiny tidbits of protein. I still love the spices they use, so the only solution is to make my own: my proportions with their flavors.

This is a formula rather than a highly-specific recipe. The idea is that you can use these steps turn whatever animal protein and veggies you have around into a spicy Ethiopian curry. See, I had to order two ingredients that most American households don't typically keep around. I probably wouldn't buy them just for a single recipe, but for Ethiopian-style food on demand, I'll happily place an order. Alternately, you can easily make either yourself.

The first ingredient is niter kibbeh, a spiced version of ghee (clarified butter). I picked it up from Pure Indian Foods. The other ingredient is berbere, a spicy Ethiopian curry powder, albeit it may be more analogous to Southwest-style chili powder than curry. I bought it from Penzeys since I had to place an order anyway. This too you can make yourself. Alternately, if you don't care for spicy food you can substitute turmeric. The flavor will be completely different, but it is an authentic way of making milder Ethiopian dishes.

I'm pretty psyched to have this stuff around, and I'm excited to try it with different meat and veggie combinations!


QUICK ETHIOPIAN CURRY BOWLS
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 Tbs niter kibbeh
  • Half a red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8-12 oz cooked meat, such as ground beef or lamb, cubed chicken, or a shredded leftover roast
  • 3-4 cups quick-cooking vegetables. I used 2 cups of collard greens and 2 cups of cauliflower, both steam-sauteed ahead of time. Other great choices would be baked sweet potato, steam-sauteed carrots, cabbage, or string beans, or raw shredded kale.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice, preferably fire-roasted
  • 1-2 tsp berbere. I used 2 tsp which I enjoyed but it was nose-runningly spicy so be warned. Or substitute 1 tsp turmeric for a different but mild flavor.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS
  1. Melt the niter kibbeh in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add the berbere or turmeric and stir-fry until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  4. Add the meat and vegetables and stir to thoroughly combine.
  5. Add the tomatoes with their juice, bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately reduce heat to low. Serve immediately if you'd like, or cover and simmer longer to meld the flavors. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste before serving.
  6. If desired, top with hard boiled egg wedges for something that resembles doro wat!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Eggplant, red pepper, & roasted garlic dip

I'm a huge fan of veggie-based dips and sauces. Since I love eggplant, baba ghanoush is one of my favorites to serve cold. However, I think it tastes kind of funky if it gets warm or hot. This presents a problem for me at lunch time. See, my staple packed lunch is to stick a couple different veggies (often pre-frozen) plus some cooked protein in a microwave-safe container, then cover it with some kind of sauce and nuke the whole thing when I'm ready to eat. So I'm always looking for interesting sauce options that incorporate vegetables and still taste good after a trip in the nuker.

This was inspired by ajvar, a Balkan red pepper relish, which I discovered via The Clothes Make The Girl. My ingredients are virtually identical but the proportions and preparation are different. From what I understand, ajvar has more pepper than eggplant, is rough-textured like salsa, and has quite a bit of olive oil. This is more of a peppery baba ghanoush. I also streamlined the process by using roasted red peppers from a jar. I've served it cold with veggie dippers (it's awesome with snap peas and jicama sticks), and also hot (I used it instead of baba ghanoush in this recipe and brought it to work for lunch!).

EGGPLANT, RED PEPPER, AND ROASTED GARLIC DIP
Makes about 1.5 lbs

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 8 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained (I eyeballed half a 16 oz jar)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Minced fresh parsley, mint, or basil (optional)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Roast the garlic; I used the crock pot as per this recipe. Alternately, preheat oven to 350 F. Slice off the top of the head of garlic, drizzle on the olive oil, then wrap tightly in foil, twisting at the top. Bake for an hour and let cool.
  2. Heat oven to 500 F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Roast for about an hour or until wrinkly and soft, turning it halfway through cooking. Remove from oven and let cool thoroughly.
  3. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides into the bowl of a food processor, discarding the skin. Squeeze the cloves out of the roasted head of garlic into the food processor with the eggplant and add the peppers, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, and olive oil. Pulse until dip-able but still a bit chunky.
  4. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, if using, and serve. It will keep for a little over a week in the fridge.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Slow cooker pot roast with chunky vegetable braise

Taking a camping trip the first week of September was a strange thing. When I left it was summer, but I emerged from the woods to find that the world is now in full-blown fall mode. I'm actually pretty excited to switch gears for fall foods. Today, Fox News Magazine did a story which included my recipe for avocado ice cream, and you can't get more summery than avocado + ice cream. With that as my last vestige of summer foods, I'm ready for hearty greens, squashes, chili, stews, soups, warm spices, and of course everything pumpkin!

On our camping vacation, we road tripped through northern California as well as Oregon. Our camp sites ranged from amateurish car camping to remote sites to which we needed to bring our own water. Here's a short video clip of the latter:



Prior to that, we spent a night at Crater Lake and had dinner at the restaurant there. I ordered pot roast as it was basically the only thing on the menu that wasn't pizza, sandwich, or pasta. As I was eating it, I asked myself out loud about three times, "Why do I never make this??". It's so simple and tasty, plus it's an easy one-pot meal with veggies. I decided to make it at home, of course using my crock pot. I kept experiencing temptation to gussy it up somehow but I restrained myself and stuck with a simple, classic dish.

Some points about this recipe, in bulleted form:
  • You want to use a cheap, fatty cut for this, as it's a LOT more forgiving in terms of keeping the meat juicy and tender. I used a grass-fed chuck roast.
  • I never sear the roast before slow cooking it. It smokes up the kitchen and dirties an extra pan, which to me defeats the simplicity and convenience of a crock pot. I just made sure that no veggies sat on top of the roast, so it naturally formed a nice crust as it cooked.
  • I intentionally did not give amounts for the seasonings, as I think that measuring, mixing, and rubbing spices is often the most annoying part of a recipe. Sometimes I need that precision, but for this, shaking everything onto the meat worked great.
  • I add NO LIQUID! Since it's covered in the crock pot, no moisture evaporates, so even without added liquid I got plenty of gravy. Adding broth or similar would have created a soup.
  • Keep the veggies in large chunks, since it cooks for a while and small pieces would virtually dissolve. Feel free to add whatever root vegetables you like. In addition to carrot, celery, and onion, I added a rutabaga cut into 8 wedges (for me) and purple potatoes (for the husband; they taste like white potatoes but are packed with antioxidants!). Parsnips, celery root, kohlrabi, golden beets, and sweet potato are all good choices, and thick green beans stand up nicely to crock potting as well.

SLOW COOKER POT ROAST WITH CHUNKY VEGETABLE BRAISE
Serves about 6

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 chuck roast or other cheap fatty cut, anywhere from 2-5 lbs
  • 1 head of celery
  • 1 bunch of carrots (about a pound)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 bulb garlic (optional, if you want roasted garlic with your pot roast. But why wouldn't you??)
  • Root vegetables of choice, cut into large chunks (optional, more info in recipe description)
  • Salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Sweet paprika
  • Dried marjoram (feel free to substitute your favorite dried herb, such as basil, thyme, oregano, or rubbed sage)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Prep your veggies: separate the celery into stalks, chop off and discard the leaves and white bottoms, then cut the stalks crosswise into two or three pieces. Peel or scrub the carrots and halve them crosswise or leave them whole if they are small. Peel the onion and slice it into thick rings. Slice the top off the garlic. Prep any other veggies accordingly.
  2. Arrange the onion slices down the center of your crock pot with the other veggies in bunches toward the sides. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Season the roast generously on both sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and dried herbs. Lay it in the crock pot on top of the onion and other veggies.
  4. Cook for 7-8 hours on low.
  5. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Slice it, preferably using an electric knife to prevent the slices from shredding. Scoop out the vegetables with a slotted spoon and set aside. Use a turkey baster or ladle to scoop out the meat juices. I transferred it to a degreasing pitcher, though if you leave it in the refrigerator the fat will congeal on top and can easily be removed. Pour a bit of the reserved juices over the meat slices to keep them moist. Serve now, or reheat later!
  6. I always just serve it with the juices from the slow cooker. However, if you want a thicker gravy, just combine a tablespoon of arrowroot or tapioca flour with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Bring the pan juices (grease skimmed off) to a boil on the stove, stir in the arrowroot or tapioca slurry, and boil for about a minute until thickened.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Buffalo chicken shepherd's pie

This recipe sprang from a chain of inspirations. I found the idea on Once a Month Mom, who was inspired by My Kitchen Addiction, who started with Rachel Ray's buffalo chicken chili recipe. I made my own tweaks: most notably, I removed the dairy and subbed ranch-seasoned mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes. I also got a trick from The Clothes Make The Girl and used egg whites to keep the meat mixture cohesive. This way I was able to cut it into neat little slices instead of having ground chicken spill out everywhere.

Usually I use a steamer for mashed cauliflower to keep it thick and fluffy, but as a topping for shepherd's pie it doesn't matter as much. I just nuked cauliflower florets in the microwave and dumped them in the food processor. Frozen would work fine for this, too. I found a recipe for sugar-free dairy-free ranch seasoning mix at Low Carb One Day which I used in the cauliflower mash. At first I was worried that I overdid the seasoning, but it ended up being a perfect foil for the spicy chicken.

All in all, it was a delicious entree, the leftovers still tasted great, and it bypasses the need for a separate veggie side. I'll definitely be making this one again.

BUFFALO CHICKEN SHEPHERD'S PIE
Makes 8 hearty portions

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup each diced celery, diced onion, and diced carrot (I just used a 14.5 oz container of mirepoix from Trader Joe's instead)
  • 5 tsp ghee, bacon fat, or butter (divided use)
  • 2 lbs ground chicken (or ground turkey)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles (preferably fire-roasted), drained
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank's)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/3 cup liquid egg whites or 3 raw fresh egg whites
  • 1.5-2 lbs cauliflower florets (frozen is fine)
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 recipe dry ranch seasoning (recipe follows)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp fat, then add the celery, onion, and carrot. Saute until softened but not brown. Add the ground chicken or turkey, crumbling it with your hands. Cook, continuing to crumble with a wooden spoon, until it is fully cooked and no longer pink. If desired, take the pan off heat and drain the accumulated fat (I use a turkey baster), then put back on the stove on medium-high. Season with garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Mix in the tomato paste, then add the chicken broth and wing sauce. Stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered.
  3. While the meat is simmering, make your cauliflower mash. If using frozen, cook according to package directions and drain. For fresh, put in a covered container and microwave for 4 minutes on high. Taste a piece and continue microwaving for 1 minute intervals if necessary until completely soft and just slightly overcooked. Set it in a food processor with the lemon juice, 1 Tbs ghee (or other fat), and salt to taste (I like a lot of salt in these, I probably used about a tablespoon). Add the ranch seasoning and pulse it in until just combined.
  4. Take the meat mixture off heat and quickly stir in the egg whites. Transfer it to a 13"x9" pan and spread it out evenly. Dollop the cauliflower mash over the top, then spread it out evenly (I used dampened hands for this). Run the tines of a fork along the top to create ridges and spread it out a bit more. Melt the remaining teaspoon of fat and drizzle it over the top.
  5. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. If desired, run it under the broiler to brown the top. Let cool before serving.

RANCH SEASONING MIX
Closely adapted from Low Carb One Day
  • 1 Tbs dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (I think next time, instead of adding this directly to the cauliflower I will just sprinkle paprika over the top)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Slow cooker pollo sin arroz


Here's a spin on arroz con pollo. It has the feel and the flavor of the traditional dish, but with cauliflower "rice" substituted for the usual grains. So I'm calling it "pollo sin arroz". It lends itself readily to the crock pot, which I pretty much always choose over the stove or oven if I can get the convenience without sacrificing flavor and texture. Bonus: it's a one-pot meal with meat and veggies.

I used my normal trick of microwaving the aromatics with a bit of fat to deepen the flavor before slow cooking without having to saute. I also used tomato paste instead of puree since the juice released by the chicken does not evaporate in the crock pot. Finally, I stuck with boneless skinless thighs for the meat. I think that skin and bones get gross when stewed, and thighs don't dry out in the slow cooker like white meat.

SLOW COOKER POLLO SIN ARROZ
Serves about 4

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 head cauliflower, made into "rice" (I use the blender method)
  • 8-10 boneless skinless chicken thighs (2.5-3 lbs)
  • 1 onion, diced (about a cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 3 oz tomato paste (I bought a 6 oz can and eyeballed half of it)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil, divided use
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar, divided use
  • 1 Tbs capers
  • 1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, halved (about a 4 oz jar)
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves only, minced (about 2 Tbs)
  • 1.5 tsp salt (divided use)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper (divided use)
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the onion, garlic, oregano, and 1 Tbs olive oil. Nuke on high for 2.5 minutes, stir, then nuke for another 2.5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste (it's easiest to combine while it's still hot), green bell pepper, red pepper flakes, and capers. Set aside.
  2. Put the chicken thighs in your slow cooker. Toss with 1 Tbs vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Scrape in the onion mixture and stir to combine, nestling the chicken thighs in the sauce.
  3. Cook on low for 4-6 hours (preferably closer to 4).
  4. Turn the crock pot up to high. Put the cauliflower "rice" in a large microwave-safe bowl. Nuke on high for 2 minutes, stir, then nuke an additional 2 minutes. Stir the cauliflower and olives into the slow cooker and let it cook for a few minutes until fully softened. You can skip the microwaving step if you'd like but it'll take 30-45 minutes to cook.
  5. While the cauliflower "rice" simmers, combine the remaining oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl with cilantro. Before serving, stir the cilantro mixture into the crock pot.
  6. Serve; I like mine drenched with Cholula hot sauce, but if you want to get fancy, dollops of homemade chimichurri sauce (recipe) would be awesome.

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