gluten-free

Gluten-Free Dumplings for those comfort food moments

I have these wonderful memories from childhood of steaming hot stew with chunky hunks of beef, potato, carrot, celery, and onion, topped with a fluffy cloud of warm dumplings. Of course, back then, all I would eat was the meat, potatoes, dumplings, and broth. I still loved it. Because my memories are so swiss-cheesed with holes and gaps, I don’t know whether it was my dad cooking or my mom, whether the dumplings were from scratch or Bisquick. But whenever a cold or rainy day rolls around, that foggy memory rises up and I pine wistfully for the simple comfort of stew and dumplings. In the chill of the current polar vortex, I attempted another dumpling re-creation and I LOVE the results. 

I experimented with an Almond Flour Dumpling recipe two years ago, which is ok but I didn’t love it enough to make it more than once, and yet it ironically has been my most popular post over the life of this blog. (Quickly being surpassed by our recent Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Stuffed Pork Tenderloin post. 🙂 ) If you’ve tried the old dumpling recipe, you’ve GOT to try this one. Delicious. Easy. Just plain wonderful. 

Gluten-Free Dumplings, can be used for chicken or stew soups

Ingredients – makes 6-8 dumplings depending on size

  • 3/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda (this was a happy accident since I meant to use baking powder but the soda seems to work just fine IMO)
  • 1/4 cup broth from your soup

I combined all the ingredients in my food processor and blended it well. Then I simply dropped spoonfuls into the top of my stew. I put the lid on and let the dumplings cook for 10-15 minutes (until plumped and firm.)

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The dough was too thin and sticky to shape into balls which was why I opted for simply dropping spoonfuls in the stew.

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It firmed up quite well to my surprise and delight. (You know me, always a little afraid when trying something new. I’m always worried about the waste if something doesn’t turn out well.)

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Ta-da! Try it. Seriously. Good eats.

Food is the most primitive form of comfort.
~ Sheilah Graham

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Cauliflower Soup ReMixed

I made cauliflower and artichoke soups two ways recently and they were both good. But this past week I think I made the best soup I’ve EVER made.

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Don’t let the plain appearance deceive you. The flavor ROCKS.

My plan was to make the roasted cauliflower and artichoke soup again, like I had before. But after I had the cauliflower in the oven and was pulling out the rest of my ingredients, I discovered I didn’t have any artichoke. Doh! So I improvised.

Ingredients makes about 3 servings

I sautéed the onion, peppers, and garlic paste on the stove over medium heat until the onions were translucent.

Once the cauliflower was roasted to my liking (30-40 minutes at 400) I placed all the onions and cauliflower into my food processor. I added the box of mushroom soup and about a cup of water. I blended it until it was close to smooth, adding more water incrementally. I could not get a truly smooth consistency in the processor so I moved the mix to a saucepan and used my KitchenAid stick blender to further puree it all until it was creamy the way I wanted. Then I added the can of chicken and mixed by hand to incorporate it.

Between the peppers and the spice in the garlic paste, I didn’t even need to add salt or pepper. It was hard not to eat any then but I made it in the morning for the coming week so once combined I portioned it out and moved it to the fridge. I ate it for lunch at work the next day (pictured above.) Blew me away it was so good. WAY better than the first two editions. Definitely a great way to use up any cauliflower in your fridge that is close to the end of its shelf life. I highly recommend combining cauliflower, onion, mushroom, and chicken flavors. 🙂

The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.
~ Ann Wigmore

Broccoli and Mushroom Chicken Soup

Don had broccoli cheese soup on the brain last week. After a review of our pantry, this was what he came up with. De-lish.

Ingredients
makes 6 servings

  • bunch of broccoli (2 large heads)
  • 1 whole sweet onion
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 2 12-oz packages of organic cream of mushroom soup (this stuff is CRAZY good!)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 chicken thighs
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp garlic (we used our homemade chili garlic paste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can of coconut milk

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The preparation process is relatively simple.

  • Chop the onion, celery, and broccoli roughly and then use a food processor to reduce it to a rice-like consistency.

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  • Dice the chicken into small pieces and brown slightly in a skillet over medium-high heat with a little olive oil or coconut oil.
  • Combine everything, except the coconut milk, in a crock pot. Add chicken once it’s cooked through.
  • Cook on high for about 4 hours.

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  • Add coconut milk. Stir to combine well.
  • Continue to cook on high for another 30-60 minutes to warm and incorporate all flavors. Serve or save for quick meals during the week.

We actually did make this over the weekend for ready-to-go weekday meals so we didn’t try it for a couple of days. Which is why I don’t have any photos of a bowl of soup to show off the finished look. I’m a bonehead and never remember to take a picture during lunch so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Our intention was to top it with shredded cheese that we could mix in and it would be more like a cheesy broccoli soup, but so far, I have had it sans cheese and it’s just fine without. I am certain we will make this again. I would like to experiment next time with adding arrowroot powder or tapioca flour to thicken the soup so it’s more creamy, just for a change of pace.

Oh, and a side note to mention that I was SUPER excited last week to find an organic cream of mushroom soup that isn’t laden with processed chemicals and flavors! Check out Pacific brand organic soups and broths if you are interested in organic products. It looks like they are available in a number of stores – Safeway, Kroger, Whole Foods, and Amazon, to name a few. Yay!

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I wish I could come up with something more unique to call this dish but I seriously lack the creative juices. It may surprise some of my closer friends and family that despite my penchant for writing, I really struggle with creativity. I think that’s why I like to edit other people’s work more than anything. My writing here is about staying in touch with far-flung friends and family, and making connections with like-minded strangers who enjoy sharing information across this vast space we call the internet. Ask me to get creative and I just sit here writing and re-writing, banging my head for thoughts that just won’t come. So today I just push on and write and hope that my plain title doesn’t undersell this amazing meal.

This is something we (Don) concocted but it was inspired by a friend (thanks Diane!) who used spaghetti squash last month in a way we hadn’t imagined. This post isn’t going to play out like much of a recipe in the full sense of the word. This is more about the fundamental structure of the dish and the process. It is highly adaptable to your own blend of flavors, tastes, time available to cook, etc.

First, let’s talk about cooking spaghetti squash. When we first discovered spaghetti squash two years ago, we cooked it in the microwave. This is an option, and it’s the quicker option if you are pressed for time. One of the drawbacks we encountered with microwaving was that the squash was always very wet. We would strain it to try to remove as much water as we could before serving, but often our dishes were still runny. So one day, we tried roasting it instead. A vast improvement. But we still always strained the squash after scraping out the strands with a fork or tongs. Now, we’ve adapted our roasting process so that it comes out just right. We slice our squash in half, remove the seeds, brush with olive oil, and roast it flesh side down for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees. After about 20 minutes, I check the squash by pressing on the outer skin with a finger. When it gives a little, feels slightly soft to the touch, we flip the squash over and continue roasting it for another 15-25 minutes. This helps dry out the excess moisture and gives the flesh a toasted look and flavor. The timing all depends on the size of your squash. The larger they are, the longer they tend to take. The one in the photos below took about 50 minutes total.

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Most people use a fork to remove the strands but I find that tongs work just as well.

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As you can see, we are still a little gun-shy about making sure our squash isn’t runny. We always still place it in a colander first, but in this case, that bowl underneath wasn’t wet in the slightest.

While the squash was cooking, Don put together a blend of fresh vegetables and spices. I decided late in the game that I should be taking pictures and getting it all down, so I don’t know what all is in that bowl. I can guess at a few things: onion, cherry tomato, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, jalapenos…maybe a few other things. This is where you can modify based on your taste. Use vegetables you like or have on hand.

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We also browned two kinds of sausage…

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…and prepared our casserole dish by rubbing it with coconut oil. We also pulled out a jar of our own blend of tomato sauce with meat, previously canned.

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I began to see Don’s plan taking shape now.

Once the squash was done roasting, we combined it all in a large bowl and mixed it together well.

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As if this wasn’t already delicious looking enough, we then added fresh mozzarella.

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We baked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees to bring it all together.

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Beautiful.

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So, to sum up. You can make a delectable lasagna like dish with spaghetti squash, a few veggies, some meat (for meat lovers), and your sauce of choice, whether fresh from home or store-bought. Just brown your meat, roast your squash, dice your veggies, mix it all together, and bake! Easy. Peasy. Maybe a little time-consuming, 60-90 minutes, but totally worth it.

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
~ Michael Pollan

Baked Butternut Lasagna of sorts

Don designed this creative masterpiece. I was suspect when he told me what he was thinking of doing. One of these days you’d think I’d just trust his instincts. The man knows flavors and he knows his way around the kitchen.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Wipe the inside of your dish with coconut oil.
  2. Use a food processor to shred your butternut squash and place in the bottom of the dish.
  3. Add a layer of parmesan cheese.
  4. Add a layer of sauce.
  5. Top with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes or until your cheese is brown and bubbly.

Don made mini lasagnas in a sense, using medium-sized ramekins that are 4.5 inches in diameter or 500 ml. They really were perfectly sized for individual servings.

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Parmesan layer.

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Ready to bake!

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Beautiful.

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Booyah!

I was so uncertain about pairing butternut with tomato/spaghetti flavors. I thought for sure it would clash. Boy, was I ever wrong. This. Was. Mind-Blowing. Granted, a lot of the flavor comes from the homemade meat sauce but the combination of the butternut, cheese, and sauce was simply genius. Highly recommended for those of you looking for ways to make Italian dishes without the pasta.

When you cut that eggplant up and you roast it in the oven and you make the tomato sauce and you put it on top, your soul is in that food, and there’s something about that that can never be made by a company that has three million employees.
~ Mario Batali