Acorn Squash with Sweet Sage “Butter”

I have been so impressed with how well our herb plant not only survived the move, but also how much it is thriving, even in this cooler climate. Must be all of the great sun it is getting in our very bright new (to us) kitchen.

Alisa's herb garden

I have found good use for the basil and parsley with some regularity, but until yesterday, I hadn’t found a good recipe for the sage. My husband is okay with sage in light moderation, but I have to use caution, lest he be overwhelmed (I am an herb- and spice-aholic). So it took me some time to be inspired by a sage-including recipe that we would both enjoy.

Acorn Squash with a Sweet Sage Butter

This one definitely fit the bill, and it also gave me another opportunity to test out the new Earth Balance soy-free margarine (all natural – none of those nasty trans fats!). If dairy works in your household, butter can of course be utilized, but all of you dairy-freers and vegans out there will be happy to know that the Earth Balance was excellent as a “browned butter.”

Though I typically roast squash for that caramelization effect, I must admit that this cooking method worked fabulously. It was almost like a steaming technique that locked in the natural flavor. Try it!

Acorn Squash with Sweet Sage “Butter”

Recipe adapted from Recipezaar. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, and optionally Vegan.

  • 1 Acorn Squash (medium-sized), cut in half lenthwise and seeded
  • 2 Tablespoons Dairy-Free Margarine (I used Earth Balance soy-free, but you could also sub in coconut oil and a pinch of salt)
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey (agave nectar, brown sugar, or maple syrup should also go nicely)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 Teaspoons Fresh Sage, minced

Preheat your oven to350°F.

Place the prepared squash cut side down on a baking sheet or in a bakng dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. Keep in mind, if you leave it cut side down after removing it from the oven, it will continue to soften and cook a bit.

While the squash is baking, place the margarine in a small saucepan over medium-low to medium heat. Stir (not constantly, but with regularity) and cook until it just begins to brown, but do not let it burn (took about 10 minutes for me – You can also see these more detailed instructions for browning butter)

Remove the margarine from the heat and stir in the honey (or other sweetener) and sage. Allow the flavors to sit and meld while your squash cools for a few.

Cut each squash half into quarters (this is how I like to serve it), and evenly spoon the sweet sage butter into the squash sections and serve.

Note: I like to make cuts in the middle of each squash section, allowing the butter to seep in. You can also smash it in for some tasty mashed squash.

Another Note: I served this for lunch with simple baked chicken breasts. Slopping up any honey-sage-butter that had drizzled onto my plate with the chicken was really yummy too.

Yields 2 squashy servings

Acorn Squash with a Sweet Sage Butter

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Smoked Salmon Crustless Quiche, sort of

Since my last Dutch Baby venture was such a dee-licious success, I set out to create a savory version the other day. But, I couldn’t stop with that one challenge alone. Oh no, silly me decided to go for the gusto and make it grain-free too! Luckily it worked out okay, but I used ground almonds, and was surprised at how bready the first trial turned out. It was good, but somehow the texture didn’t really go with the flavor. So in round two, I switched to cashews, using half the amount, and a star was born!

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Smoked Salmon Quiche

However, this new concoction wasn’t really a Dutch Baby anymore. Determined to find a name, I went online to read about the various types of egg dishes (yes, I do waste too much time on completely useless activities once in a while). The most comparable dish I could find was a quiche, but since this recipe contains no cheese, cream, or dairy of any kind, it seemed like a bit of a stretch. I mean, a healthy quiche?

I have never really had a quiche, so I turned to my husband for his taste-testing expertise. He said, “It’s kind of like a quiche, but different. It’s good though!” And thus, this name was born …

 

Smoked Salmon Crustless (Sort of) Quiche

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, and Soy-Free. I got a gread deal on wild smoked salmon ($1.50 for 4 ounces per package!), which is why I opted to use it in this dish. Feel free to use fresh salmon if you prefer.

  • 2 Ounces Cashews (can sub almonds)
  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk or Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage
  • 4 Medium Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Tahini
  • 4 Teaspoons Nutritional Yeast (optional)*
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Dried Dill or a scant Tablespoon Fresh Dill
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Ounces Smoked Salmon, flaked or diced (depending on the type you use)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Oil (your choice) or Dairy-Free Margarine

Preheat your oven to 425ºF

Grind the cashews in a spice grinder for about 30 seconds, or until they turn into a powder.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cashews, milk alternative, eggs, tahini, nutritional yeast, dill, onion powder, and salt. Stir in the smoked salmon.

Place the oil or margarine in a 9″ pie plate, or divide it between four ramekins. Place the dish(es) in the oven to warm up for a few minutes. Remove and make sure the oil/margarine nicely coats the bottom of the dish.

Give the egg mixture another quick whisk, and pour it into your prepared dish(es). Bake for about 25 minutes, or untili the egg dish is nice and puffed, and just beginning to brown. It will deflate upon removal from the oven, so if you want a picture, be quick!

*You can use more or less nutritional yeast based on your tastes, or omit it altogether. I wasn’t really going for “cheesy” which is why I didn’t use a bunch, but rather a well-rounded and slightly bold/hearty flavor.

Yields 2 hearty servings or 4 servings with a big salad

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Smoked Salmon Quiche

Healthy Dutch Babies topped with a Chunky Blueberry-Maple Sauce

Earlier this year, I discovered the Dutch Baby; a thick, eggy oven pancake that is sometimes referred to as a German pancake. Though it had been months and months since my first enjoyable and successful endeavor, I got a huge craving for these babies this morning!

Of course, I didn’t want to make the same recipe that I made the first time, so I did a little research and came up with a second variation that was, dare I say, positively delicious!

Most of the Dutch Baby recipes I spied were made with white sugar, white flour, and an unnecessary amount of butter. If I ate that way for breakfast, I would fall flat on my face by 9am. I reduced the butter significantly, and in fact changed it to coconut oil, I subbed the flour with rolled oats (ground in 30 seconds into a flour), and used maple syrup as my choice of sweetener in moderation. Trust me, there was no sacrafice. This is a wonderful brunch-worthy recipe that you can actually feel good about eating. Plus, with the changes, the recipe is dairy-free, soy-free, and wheat-free (optionally gluten-free)!

blueberrydutchbaby

Yesterday I promised something with blueberries … so I decided to pair our breakfast with a quick and chunky blueberry maple sauce. But these ultra-thick pancakes are very versatile. I have suggested a few different topping ideas in the recipe, but feel free to go crazy and experiment with your own pairings.

Oh, I have one last note, on the eggs. Until I discovered organic eggs, I literally (literally)  couldn’t stomach eggs. No idea why, but my husband even noticed the quality difference. I know what you are thinking, organic eggs, I thought you were frugal?! Take a look around for medium organic eggs. They are quite a bit cheaper than the large ones, and we still tend to use the same amount of eggs no matter what size I buy. Hence why this recipe uses medium eggs. You can sub 3 to 4 large eggs if you wish, depending on how eggy you want it.

I really want to make a savory and grain-free version of Dutch Babies, but the flavor ideas just aren’t coming to me as of yet. Most savory versions use cheese, but I know some fresh herbs and vegetables can stand alone, if only I can think of a good combination. I welcome suggestions! In the meantime, enjoy …

Healthy Wheat-Free / Dairy-Free Dutch Babies

This recipe is Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Wheat-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Low Sugar, Relatively Low in Fat, and optionally Gluten-Free (seek out some of those certified gluten-free oats)

  • 1 Cup Rolled Oats (can sub 1 cup of your flour of choice)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt 
  • 1 Cup Regular or Unsweetened Milk Alternative (I used unsweetened coconut milk beverage from Turtle Mountain – it was on sale! Rice, Almond, or Hemp Milk should also work well)
  • 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup, Honey, or Agave Nectar (I used pure maple syrup)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Medium Eggs, brought to room temperature if you have time
  • ½ Tablespoon Coconut Oil or Dairy-Free Margarine (I used coconut oil)

Preheat your oven to 425ºF

Place half of the oats in a spice / coffee grinder and whiz for about 30 seconds, or until the oats turn into a flour. Repeat with the remaining oats. I believe this can also be done in a food processor, but it is so quick, easy, and clean in a cheap little spice grinder ($15 at the grocery store!), why bother.

Sift the oat flour and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk in the milk alternative, sweetener, and vanilla, stirring until everything is well combined.

Whisk in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.

Put the coconut oil or margarine in a 9″ pie plate, cast iron pan, or similarly sized baking dish, and place it in the oven for a few minutes, or until the oil / margarine is melted and the pan is good and heated.

Removed the dish (with a pot holder!) and swirl the oil / margarine around a bit to coat. Pour in the egg batter, pop it in the oven, and leave it be for 25 minutes.

The batter will climb up, swelling a bit like a souffle (it is really fun to watch). When you take it out of the oven, it will deflate …

dutchbabyfresh

While this may seem less desirable than a puffy souffle, the crater actually makes for a wonderful bowl to hold delicious fillings or syrup! You can fill it with my Sinful Cinnamon Apple Saute; a bounty of seasonal, chopped fresh fruit and/or berries; a dusting of powdered sugar and served with pure maple syrup; your favorite jam; or try my Chunky Blueberry-Maple Sauce (recipe below) …

blueberry dutch baby filled

Since I feared we might eat the entire dish in one sitting, I only made 1/2 batch of the blueberry sauce. If you want to fill the crater, the full recipe should do it. But, it was a good thing I held off, because for my husband and I, this was just a 2 serving recipe …

The dutch baby is gone!

Yields 2 to 4 pancakey, eggilicious servings

Chunky Blueberry Maple Cinnamon Sauce

I find that the sweetness of this sauce does vary depending on how ripe your blueberries are. You may want to start with less maple syrup and sweeten to taste, and of course, you can always add more than 1/4 cup of maple syrup if it isn’t sweet enough for you too! Honey and agave are less expensive (and slightly sweeter) options that you can substitute if desired.

  • 2 Cups Fresh or Frozen (not thawed) Blueberries
  • 1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup, more or less as needed (can sub honey or agave nectar)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract (optional)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (I love cinnamon, I use 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cornstarch

Add the blueberries, maple, lemon juice, vanilla, and cinnamon to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow it to simmer for a few minutes. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, whisking to combine (I didn’t have any clumping problems with this method), and continue to simmer for a few minutes more to thicken.

Yields about 4 sweet and fruity servings

blueberrydutchbabysmaller

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I submitted this recipe to A Gluten Free Holiday: Breakfast & Brunch Recipes at Ginger Lemon Girl.

Sweet Freedom: Fluffy Fruited Whole-Grain Pancakes

When I asked my husband how the pancakes were, he said “Great! Can’t you tell?” As he handed me an empty plate just 5 minutes after I handed him a full one.

Could he tell that they were made with whole spelt flour? Nope. Did he detect anything missing from the lack of refined sugars? Not a chance. Did he notice the added dose of protein? He’s a man, it was surely welcomed if anything. But the texture, surely it wasn’t quite right without eggs? Slightly different perhaps, but fluffy and uber cake-like … just the way he likes them.

sweetfeedomfluffyfruitedpancakes

The recipe I used is from Ricki Heller’s new cookbook, Sweet Freedom, and I cannot tell you how much I love her pancake recipes! They are actually made with whole spelt flour and use everyday pantry ingredients. In fact, all of the recipes in Sweet Freedom are wheat-free (many are also gluten-free), vegan (dairy-free and egg-free), and free from refined sugars.

Though I have enjoyed her Carob and Date Pancakes (they were the inspiration for the Pillowy Whole-Grain Pancakes in my book, Go Dairy Free!), these Fruited Pancakes were perfect for using seasonal summer produce. Okay, I lamed out and used diced bananas. What can I say, we were in a banana mood. But, you can use any fresh seasonal fruit you like. Blueberries, diced peaches, pitted cherries … just toss them in.

Yes, pancakes are no longer banished to the land of weekend indulgences. These babies are nutritious, and positively delicious …

Fluffy Fruited Spelt Pancakes

Adapted from Sweet Freedom, by Ricki Heller

Alisa’s Notes: These pancakes are very light in sweetness, perfect for dousing with maple syrup. You can increase the sweetness a bit by using a regular vanilla milk alternative if you desire. I went with an unsweetened one.

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Wheat-Free (but not Gluten-Free), Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Whole-Grain, and Free from Refined Sugars.

  • 1-3/4 to 2 Cups Plain or Vanilla Milk Alternative of Choice ( I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
  • 2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Grapeseed, Sunflower or Other Mild Tasting Oil (original recipe uses 3; your call, I was cutting the fat a bit, but more oil means more fluff!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup
  • 1-3/4 Cups Whole Spelt Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Unflavored Protein Powder (rice or soy are ideal) or Soy Flour or Chickpea Flour, sifted
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg or 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 Cup Berries or Chopped Fruit (I used banana)

Measure 1-3/4 cups of the milk alternative into a measuring cup and add the flaxseeds, vinegar, oil, and agave, stirring well. Set aside while measuring remaining ingredients, or for at least 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and spice (if using). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just to blend (there should still be a few lumps here and there).  If the batter is too thick, gently fold in another 1/4 cup of milk alternative (I needed too since I was only using 2 T of oil). Gently fold in the fruit.  

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat (spray the pan with olive oil spray if desired). Using an ice-cream scoop or measuring cup, measure out about 3 to 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup) of batter for each pancake and spread slightly in the pan.  

Cook each pancake about 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffed up.  Serve immediately. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers for later use (may be defrosted in the toaster). 

Yields 15 to 20 pancakes (Ricki says 10 to 12, but I am not coordinated enough to make pancakes quite that big)

sweetfeedomfluffyfruitedpancakes2

Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage – Quick & Lean

One of the biggest challenges with our new fitness regimen has been getting in enough lean protein. I think I mentioned before that it includes a diet plan which is very lean, and starts out low in carbs, higher in protein (gradually tapering off to a very sustainable and carb-rich diet for energy). Since we don’t consume dairy or soy, this means protein powders, eggs, fish, and meat.

I must confess, I am not a big egg fan, and I have never been a big meat consumer either … even dabbling in vegan cooking regularly. However, I have found some ways to sneak in some of that lean protein in an enjoyable way. One of them is breakfast sausage! Of course, pork would be a wee bit too fatty, so we opted for a nice, homemade turkey sausage. 

Extra-Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

I went ultra-lean on this sausage, but for a juicier end product I have included recipes for “leaner” and “lean” turkey sausage. All are low-carb (obviously!) but lean will have the best texture while maintainig some virtue, and ultra-lean will suit super low-fat dieters.

Turkey Breakfast Sausage (Lean to Ultra-Lean)

Starting with the Spices … Combine all of the following spices, either leaving them whole, giving them a five or six pulses together in your spice grinder (my preferred method), or whizzing them to a powder in your spice grinder.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 Teaspoon Salt (I like 3/4 – but it will still be good with 1/2)
  • 1 Teaspoon Fennel Seed
  • 1 Teaspoon Sage
  • 1 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper, White and/or Black (I use a mix of white and black freshly ground peppercorns)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • Generous Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper

Choose your meat …mix your spices into 1 lb of Ground Turkey, choosing ONE of the folllowing …

  • Lean – Use 1 lb of 93% Fat-Free Ground Turkey (best for egg-free)
  • Leaner – Use 1 lb of 97% Fat-Free Ground Turkey
  • Ultra-Lean – Use 1 lb of 99% Fat-Free Ground White Turkey Meat

Let it Rest … If time permits, cover and chill for at least an hour (preferably overnight) to allow the flavors to meld. If you are in a hurry, skip this step and move ahead to the next one.

Add Some Moisture … Combine ONE of the following egg options into the meat to add a little moisture into that turkey meat …

  • Lean – Use 1 Large Egg (optional)
  • Leaner – Use 1 Large Egg or 1 to 2 Large Egg Whites
  • Ultra-Lean – Use 2 Large Egg Whites (about 6T pasteurized egg white)
  • Time to Cook … Spray a skillet with cooking spray (or use 1 teaspoon of oil) and heat it over medium heat. Scoop the ground turkey (it will be very moist if you added egg, I use an ice cream scoop) into your skillet and flatten it with the back of a spatula. Cover and allow the patties to cook for 3 minutes. Flip, cover again, and allow them to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the turkey is cooked through. Don’t cook them too long, as the meat will dry out, but make sure there is no pink left in the middle. And serve.

    Yields 4 servings (about 8 2-ounce patties)

    Ultra-Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

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