Creamy Green Garlic Soup

Posted by on March 15, 2010 | 18 Comments

This recipe is an ever so slight detour from my ususal “grocery store” fare (though regular garlic can be used, as noted), because I have at last joined the CSA world! Last week I got my very first ever CSA veggie box. Now that we live reasonably close to some of those great California farms, and since all of you wonderful food bloggers have introduced me to this concept, I had to join up. I was actually on the waiting list for Mountain Bounty Farm (who delivers to the Tahoe area), and was able to cut in mid-season.

I must say, I am not the least bit disappointed! A close friend splits a share with another friend, and she thought I was insane getting a whole share for just myself and my husband. But, I think she underestimated 1) my twisted love for vegetables and 2) how much food bloggers relish quality, organic goods. Lets just say, I have had no problem polishing off the entire box, and have still picked up some other veggies at the market this past week.

Since I was new to a few ingredients, like green garlic, I have been trying to stick to recipes with few ingredients, so that I can really taste what these veggies are all about. Green garlic is interesting, as it is the immature version of the bulb garlic we buy at the grocery store. It is milder, and to me it did have a “green” taste. It did seem to be a cross (in both looks and flavor) between large green onions / spring onions and mature garlic.

This is really just a very basic creamy potato soup made with green garlic. You could easily sub in a few cloves of regular garlic, or even a bulb of roasted garlic for a different, but delicious variation. Actually, I think if I were to choose, I would try this soup next with roasted garlic, but the green garlic was a nice variation that was a touch sweeter and had that “cold-kicking” garlic essence that I was craving after a big snowstorm hit.

creamy, dairy-free green garlic soup

 

Creamy Green Garlic Soup

Cheap russets or baking potatotes are the best for soups like this due to their high starch content. Yukons have a medium starch content and will also work well, while adding a touch of their “buttery” feel. This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and optionally Vegan / Vegetarian.

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Dairy-Free Margarine (I used olive oil)
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced (about 1-1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 lb Green Garlic or 3 bulbs, thinly sliced and cut in half (I used the whites, pink, and part way up the green) – can sub 2 to 4 minced medium garlic cloves
  • 1/2 lb Yukon Gold or Russet Potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I didn’t peel)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt, plus more to taste (I used 1 teaspoon total)
  • 1 Quart Vegetable or Chicken Broth (I used Pacific Foods Free Range Chicken Broth)
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon Dairy-Free Margarine (optional)

Heat the oil or margarine in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften and become translucent.

Add the garlic, potatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and saute for another 5 minutes – keeping things moving. If the pan dries out, splash in a wee bit of the broth to keep the ingredients from sticking.

Add the broth and bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low, allowing the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are nice and tender.

Using an immersion blender, or in two batches in a regular blender, puree the soup (garlic, onions, potatoes and all) until it is nice and smooth. I did it in my blender, allowing each batch to spin for a couple of minutes. Use caution when you turn the blender on, making sure you have a firm hand on the lid to ensure that no hot soup escapes. Trust me, that is never fun!

Return the soup to your pot and season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. As noted, I used a fair bit of salt, because I was craving it, but go for what you like best. If you have some miso on hand, I might try mixing in some of this for a different flavor variation instead of the extra salt.

If desired, serve with 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of margarine swirled in to each bowl.

Yields 3 light lunches

Creamy dairy-free green garlic soup

Jam-Filled Snackin’ Muffins (or Soda Rolls)

Posted by on March 10, 2010 | 12 Comments

I swear, sometimes I feel like Celine reads my mind when it comes to trialing out baked goodie recipes. I purchased some all-fruit spread solely for the purpose of coming up with some jam-filled muffins and PB&J granola for my husband’s morning snack … when low and behold, I opened her new book 500 Vegan Recipes (co-written with Joni Marie Newman) to discover recipes for both!

Vegan Jam-Filled Soda Rolls

She calls these muffins “rolls,” which I suppose is fair since they really aren’t very sweet, save for the jam surprise in the middle. Nonetheless, they are perfectly yummy and satisfying for breakfast. I had to modify the recipe a wee bit, based on what I had on hand. I did use honey (sorry, I know it isn’t strict vegan practice, and have no fear, 500 Vegan Recipes is honey-free!), but you can stick with their suggested sweetener or agave as I have noted.

 

Jam-Filled Snackin’ Muffins (or Soda Rolls)

Recipe adapted from 500 Vegan Recipes by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman

They do specifically recommend soymilk for this recipe since it curdles best; though you may have success with other milk alternatives. Though we don’t typically stock soy in our house, I was reviewing this soymilk for Go Dairy Free, so I decided to use it here. This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, and optionally Soy-Free and Refined Sugar-Free.

  • 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1-1/4 Cups Plain Soymilk (see above note for other soy-free milk alternatives)
  • 1-1/4 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole or White Spelt Flour (I used whole spelt)
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey, Raw Sugar or Agave Nectar (I used un-vegan honey)
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil (I used extra-light olive, but you could use grapeseed, canola, or melted coconut oil)
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  •  1/4 Cup Jam or All-Fruit Spread
  • Melted non-dairy margarine (optional)

 Preheat your oven to 400ºF, and lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

Combine the vinegar and soymilk in a medium-sized bowl or glass measuring cup, and allow it to sit as the vinegar “curdles” the soymilk.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the sweetener, oil, and applesauce to the now curdled soymilk. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture in your large bowl, and gently stir until just combined. No over-mixing!

Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the batter in each muffin cup. Top each mound of batter with 1 teaspoon of jam. Top the jam with the remaining batter (another heaping tablespoon per cup).

Bake for 15 minutes. As soon as you remove the rolls from the oven, brush the tops with non-dairy margarine if desired. Personally, I would skip this step next time, as I wasn’t a big fan of the salty margarine topping … but I am sure many people would love it. Pop the muffins out (they seemed to come out of the cups nicely, even while still quite hot) and indulge.

Yields a dozen sweet and savory muffins

Vegan Jam-Filled Soda Rolls

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Pumpkin Pie Perfection

Posted by on November 5, 2009 | 121 Comments

Was that dairy-free AND soy-free I said? Yes, I just couldn’t bear another tofu pumpkin pie recipe, so this year I went for a soy-free version that is oh so easy and delicious. Even better, both the filling and the crust use everyday pantry ingredients. Okay, hopefully you don’t keep eggs in your pantry, but you get the idea.

Speaking of eggs, I did attempt to make this pie egg-free / vegan using Bryanna’s recipe as a guide, but no go. The cornstarch-y texture and taste were both too “off” for our tastebuds. However, some good ol’ Ener-G eggs may do the trick. I have never used them, so I can’t vouch, but if you want a tofu-free, egg-free pumpkin pie, it may be worth a test!

If you do use eggs in baking, I can attest that this pumpkin pie recipe is a definite winner. It tastes fantastic and is a great make-ahead option. Growing up, I remember how the famous Libby’s Pumpkin Pie recipe would leave you with a soggy crust when stored overnight, but this recipe keeps a nice firm crust, and refrigerating it allows the flavors to meld … actually both my husband and I preferred it after a night of chilling …

Delicious Dairy-Free Soy-Free Pumpkin Pie

 

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, and optionally Gluten-Free. See my notes above on egg-free / vegan.

  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg or Allspice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 15-ounce Can Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Canned Coconut Milk (this is the stuff sold in the Asian section of most grocers – I use the full-fat version, but have received feedback from people that the Lite canned version works well too)
  • 1 Unbaked Pie Shell  (see below for my regular or whole wheat recipe, or for a gluten-free option, try this recipe, substituting soy-free Earth Balance for the butter)

Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

Combine the sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or allspice, cloves and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar mixture, pumpkin, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the coconut milk.

Pour the filling into the unbaked pie crust and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350ºF and continue to bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  It may be a bit wobbly still, but it will firm-up as it cools.

Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 2 hours (Be patient! This is important).  Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Easy Peasy Pie Crust

  • 1-1/2 Cups All-Purpose or Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I used ww pastry flour, and it was still excellent)
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 6 Tablespoons Grapeseed or Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Cold Water

Combine all of the ingredients, and press the dough into a 9-inch pie pan.  Fill and bake as directed above.

Yields 8 dee-licious slices

Dairy-Free Soy-Free Easy Peasy Pumpkin Pie

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Hoki-Dokie Oven “Fried” Fish Filets

Posted by on November 3, 2009 | 8 Comments

As promised, I have some delicious recipes for using the cereal in my U.S. Mills Organic Breakfast Giveaway (see that post to enter to win now).

This particular recipe was a huge hit after a series of fish fillet bombs. For some reason (whether it be frost-bitten fish or questionable recipe), every piece of mahi or salmon I made was coming out too dry, too chewy, or too bland.

But the combination of this popular New Zealand fish (that I stumbled upon at my local grocer) and this easy cooking method left us with wonderfully flavorful and flaky fish. Even my husband, who only likes his fish raw, proclaimed it was “Excellent!”

Of course, cod, halibut, or other firm white fish will work beautifully in this recipe should hoki not be available to you.

Dairy-Free Oven "Fried" Fish

Hoki-Dokie Oven “Fried” Fish Fillets

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, Low Fat, and optionally Gluten-Free. Did I mention it is positively delicious too?

  • 10 Ounces Fish Fillets (I used Hoki, but any thin white fish filet should work well)
  • 1 Tablespon Dairy-Free Margarine (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 Cup All-Purpose, Whole Wheat, Spelt, Chickpea, or other Gluten-Free Flour (I actually used oat flour – oats ground in my spice grinder to a powder)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Cornflakes, crushed or whizzed into crumbs (I used Erewhon Organic Corn Flakes)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper (black or white)
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

Preheat your oven to 400ºF.

Baste both sides of your fish fillets with the margarine, and sprinkle them with the flour until lightly coated.

Beat the egg in a shallow dish, and briefly set it aside.

Combine the corn flakes and all of the remaining ingredients (I actually combined the flakes and spices / salt in my spice grinder and gave them a few good pulses to turn the corn flakes into crumbs and combine everything), and place them in a large zip-top baggie.

Dredge one of the fish fillets through the egg (both sides), place it in the zip-top baggie and give it a good shake to coat, remove and place it on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fillets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets. You may opt to flip them midway, but mine worked well without the flip.

Yields 2 healthy “fried” entrees

Acorn Squash with Sweet Sage “Butter”

Posted by on October 24, 2009 | 19 Comments

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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Cauliflower “Risotto” (Grain-Free AND Dairy-Free)

Posted by on October 20, 2009 | 44 Comments

Recently, I stumbled across the idea of Cauliflower “Rice” on a Paleo / Primal Diet blog. Smitten by this idea for incorporating even more veggies into my dinner (and sneaking cauliflower in on my husband, hehe), I went with it. My first attempt was this Cauliflower “Risotto,” which amazingly turned out awesome right out of the shoot!

Dairy-Free and Grain-Free, Cheesy Cauliflower Risotto with Basil

I have since made it a few times with the nod of approval from my usually cauliflower-hating husband. I have also made some basic cauliflower “rice” to serve as the base under stir-fries. It has worked out well, but my husband agreed that the risotto is just better.

Another Bonus: Surprisingly, a large head of cauliflower only makes about 3 to 4 healthy servings. When grated, the cauliflower seemed much less overwhelming than eating large florets.

 

Cauliflower “Risotto” with Fresh Basil (Grain-Free AND Dairy-Free)

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Soy-Free, and Sugar-Free.

I like to use just a bit of nutritional yeast, but keep the amounts moderate so that it enhances the meal without creating an overpowering fake cheesy taste. Nutritional yeast can easily be found online and in the bulk bins of some natural food stores. Make sure it is specifically called “nutritional yeast;” brewer’s (which the grocery attendants will try to hand to you) is not the same thing. If you don’t have any on hand, try this recipe without it, I am sure it will still be quite yummy!

  • 3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts (about 1 ounce)
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt, or to taste
  • 1-1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Grapeseed, Olive, or Coconut Oil
  • ½ Cup Minced or Diced Onion
  • 3 Cups Grated Cauliflower (about ½ medium to large head – if you have a food processor, you are golden; I grated by hand)
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • ¼ Cup Broth (chicken or vegetarian)
  • Chiffonade 6 to 10 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste (optional)

Combine the nuts, nutritional yeast, and salt in your spice grinder, and give it a few pulses. The nuts should grind up, and begin to clump. It is best if it stays a bit powdery and doesn’t turn into a paste, but if it does, no loss. Set aside while you cook the cauliflower.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the grated cauliflower and continue to sauté / stir-fry for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and suate for 1 minute more. Add the broth, reduce the heat to medium-low, stir, cover and allow it to sit for 2 to 3 minutes. This cooks it to the perfect “al dente” consistency for us, but feel free to cook it to your desired tenderness.

Remove the lid, turn off the heat, and stir in the reserved nut mixture. It may clump a bit, but continuing to stir it in the hot pan will help it to distribute and become creamy. Stir in the basil and fresh ground pepper to taste, if using. Serve.

Yields about 2 side servings

 

No Onion? I ran out of onion the second time I made this dish, so I skipped the onion sauté, but added ¼ teaspoon of onion powder to the nut mixture. The fresh onion was better, but this was still tasty in a pinch!

To Serve: This versatile dish can be served with a salad or steamed veggies (broccoli or asparagus would be nice) to keep it light and vegetarian. For an omnivorous meal, we found it went quite well with baked chicken, and also made a quick lunch with leftover chopped chicken added.

Lower Fat Option: I haven’t tried this as of yet, but I think this would work with just 2 teaspoons of oil if you were trying to go lower in fat. I would just sauté the onions in the oil, add the cauliflower and sauté for just 1 minute, and then add the broth and cover. Cook until it reaches your desired tenderness. You may need to use a touch more broth. Don’t skip the pine nuts though; they add richness and nutrition!

Dairy-Free and Grain-Free, Cheesy Cauliflower Risotto with Basil

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Pulled Pork Potato Planks or Boats

Posted by on October 14, 2009 | 19 Comments

Have you ever driven the Nevada route from Las Vegas to Tahoe? Lets just say it isn’t a foodie haven. When we finally spotted a Safeway (3/4 of the way through the trip) we were overjoyed (yes, it is that pathetic).

Ravenous and cold, we headed for the very petite hot food case to discover a very limited selection … a modest-sized box with just pulled pork in it for six bucks, or two pulled pork sandwiches that appeared loaded with just as much meat as the non-sandwich box for just $.99 each. We really didn’t want those white, fluffy, flavorless buns, but with that price discrepancy, the choice was obvious.

I took off the top bun and had it open-faced (while my husband just ate the pork out of the middle), but it got me thinking, “how else can we enjoy pulled pork?” We both really enjoy this slow-cooked, barbecue-sauced meat, but since cutting bread from our daily diet, we have actually acquired a distaste for the buns it is always served on.  

With several hours left in the car to ponder this thought, it occurred to me that potatoes could possibly be the perfect vessel. It had been years since I had enjoyed potato skins, but couldn’t the bold flavors of pulled pork hold their own (sans cheese) when served in a potato dish? The answer was a resounding yes!

pulled pork potato planks

My batch of pulled pork made so much that we ended up enjoying the potato-pork combo for two full dinners. The first was with with potato boats (pictured below), and for the second I made potato planks (pictured above), read on for my reasoning.

We both loved the potato boats, but I did learn a thing or two. First off, scoop out the potato (reserving it for some yummy soup!), leaving only about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of flesh inside the skins. I left a bit too much of the white stuff on the first go around. Second, if your potatoes are greening, there is no need to throw in the towel. I had two boat-worthy potatoes, but the other two had to be peeled in order to get rid of that toxic greenish layer. So instead of boats, I sliced the peeled potatoes lengthwise (to about 1/4-inch thickness) and made potato planks! My husband actually preferred the planks, but I was quite impartial. The planks were roasted and awesome, but those skins are my favorite part of the whole potato! Either way, delish!

Pulled Pork Potato Boats or Planks

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, and Egg-Free, and it can be Gluten-Free / Grain-Free, and Soy-Free. Though this recipe veres sharply into omnivorous territory, I invite all vegans and vegetarians to use the potato plank idea as a base for your favorite topper … they really are yummy!

  • 2 Large Baking Potatoes (I used Russets)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive or Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, crushed (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the jarred stuff)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • Pulled Pork (your favorite recipe or my easy recipe below)
  • Sliced Black Olives, to garnish

For the Boats:

Bake the potatoes in the oven or microwave, if you are in a hurry. Scoop out the white flesh, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the white stuff (reserve the flesh for another recipe, such as soup or mashed potatoes).

This step is optional for the boats: Combine the oil and garlic in a small dish. Brush the tops and insides of the boats with the oil-garlic mixture. Sprinkle the boats with salt. Place the potatoes in the oven, and broil for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the boats just begin to brown.

Fill the boats with the pulled pork and top each boat with the sliced olives. If desired, return the boats to the oven and broil them for a minute or two.

On the first go around, we simply scooped out the potato flesh, piled the pork in, and ate. But after trying the roasted potato planks, I think giving the skins a quick roast is a good optional step to seal in some flavor. 

For the Planks:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Peel your potatoes, if desired or required. Slice the potatoes lengthwise, so they are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width. You should end up with about 6 or so long, flat “planks.”

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Combine the oil and garlic, and brush them on the tops and bottoms of your planks. Sprinkle the tops of the the planks with salt.

Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes, flip, and return them to the oven for another 15 minutes. They should just lightly start to brown on both sides.

Top the planks with the pulled pork and garnish with sliced olives. Return them to the oven and continue to bake, or broil, for just a few minutes to make sure everything is heated through and crisped up to your liking.

Yields 2 meal-sized servings or 4 appetizer servings

 

Easy Crockpot Pulled Pork

  • 1-3/4 to 2 lbs Boneless Pork Loin
  • 1 Small to Medium Onion (sweet white or yellow), sliced into small wedges
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce (Lea & Perrins is GF in the U.S., and I believe Edward & Sons is GF)
  • 1 Quart (4 cups) Chicken Broth
  • Water
  • 1 Bottle of Your Favorite Barbecue Sauce (I used an 18-ouncer; choose your BBQ sauce wisely if you have free-from needs)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Place the pork in your slow cooker. Sprinkle the onions over top, and drizzle on the Worcestershire. Pour in the chicken broth, and add enough water to cover the pork.

Set that baby on low for 8 hours. (I actually left mine for 10, and it was tender and delicious).

Remove the pork from the crockpot and shred it using two forks. Remove the liquid from the crockpot (I reserved mine for use as a broth in other recipes), and return the shredded pork to the crockpot. Pour in the barbecue sauce and stir until it is well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: I hate recipes that don’t tell you how much salt and pepper, but in this case, it really depends on the barbecue sauce you are using. I added 1/4 teaspoon of salt, but next time would increase it a touch and use a bit more fresh ground pepper.

Leave the slow cooker on low or warm, and allow the pork to cook with the sauce for another hour. Your pork is ready!

Yields way more pork than you need for a batch of these jumbo boats …

pulled pork potato boats

 

Want another creative way to enjoy pulled pork? I spotted these pulled pork tamales over at Healthy Delicious.

Do you have any other foodie ideas for serving pulled pork? Or what about another topping idea for those potatoes?

Treading Lightly into Fall: Cheap Chinese Chicken Salad

Posted by on September 17, 2009 | 22 Comments

**Don’t Forget, Giveaway: 9 Special Diet Cookbooks, 9 Winners!**

Do you find your tastes migrating as the summer heat dwindles? I mean, I know I will be craving hearty soups and pumpkin goodies very soon, but even my salad desires are slowly drifting.

Since we will be moving to a much cooler climate, I am sure that some warm salads will be on the horizon, but right now I guess my tastes are simply transitioning from “bright and fresh” to “comforting.” It is still 90+ degrees out, so by comforting I mean dishes like a quick quiche (recipe coming up!) and this Chinese chicken salad …

chinesechickensalad

I know, I know … it looks just like all of my other salads. I didn’t have any of those crunch chow main noodles, and I used romaine instead of Napa, but trust me, it is all about the taste … and you can use whatever add-ins you like to make it more “authentic” (see recipe below!).

Back to the point, this is one of those simple and flavorful dishes that I have always loved, but for some reason, until now, had never, ever made at home. What a fool I have been … so delicious! As an added bonus, unlike restaurant versions of this popular salad, this one is quite low in fat, and very inexpensive to make!

So I must know (okay, it is my greedy desire for inspiration in addition to insatiable curiosity), do you have any favorites that you have yet to adventure in your own kitchen?

 

Cheap Chinese Chicken Salad

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, optionally Gluten-Free, optionally Nut-Free, and optionally Vegan / Vegetarian. It was adapted from Ellie Krieger’s recipe on the Food Network.

Don’t let the ingredients fool you, this is a fast and easy recipe! I have broken the recipe into three parts simply so you can make the dressing or the chicken separately should you want to use them for another dish. While the chicken bakes, you will have just enough time to whip up the dressing and chop the veggies for a light and healthy meal on the table in 30 minutes!

Chicken:

  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or Wheat-Free Tamari
  • 1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, crushed or minced

If the chicken breasts are thick, butterfly them. Place the chicken in a single layer in a glass baking dish. Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic, and drizzle over the chicken. If you have time, allow the chicken to marinade for at least 30 minutes or overnight. If not, pop them in the oven as soon as it preheats.

Preheat your oven to 350º. Bake the chicken for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is cooked through. The juices should run clear, but be careful not to overcook the breasts, as they can easily dry out. Once done, slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Dressing:

  • 1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Wheat-Free Tamari
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar or Sweetener of Choice (agave, honey, or maple syrup will also work nicely)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Sriracha or Chili-Garlic Sauce
  • 1 Teaspoon Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons Peanut, Olive, or Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil

 In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients. (I usually combine everything but the oil, and then drizzle the oil in while whisking out of habit. It seems to work well).

Salad:

  • 8 to 10 Cups Greens (In the salad pictured, I used 2 small romaine hearts and 3 cups of bagged coleslaw mix. Napa cabbage, purple cabbage, etc. would also work well)
  • 1 Large Carrot, shredded
  • 2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Sliced Almonds

Optional Add-ins:

  • 1 Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 8oz Can Sliced Water Chestnuts
  • 1 11oz Can Mandarin Oranges in Water, drained
  • 1 Small Can Crispy Chow Mein Noodles (not gluten-free)
  • Etc…

Combine all of the salad ingredients, except for the almonds, in a large bowl. Add the chicken, drizzle with the salad dressing, and toss to coat. Divvy up the salad amongst four plates, and sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon of the almonds.

Nut-Free Option: Substitute toasted sesame seeds or crispy chow mein noodles for the almonds.

Vegan / Vegetarian Option: You can use faux “chicken” but a cheaper and more natural option would be to substitute tofu. Use the chicken marinade and baking technique above, but use ¾ to 1 lb of extra-firm tofu. It should bake in about the same time.

Untried Ideas: If you like a peanut-y Chinese Chicken Salad, try subbing 2 tablespoons of PB (or other nut butter) for the oil. But keep the sesame oil!

chinesechickensaladtop3

Trusting Your Gut: Creamy Thai Tomato Soup

Posted by on September 13, 2009 | 22 Comments

I am not always much for stories, but today, I just need to share. Luckily, my story (or two) includes a recipe (a really delicious one in fact) to reward all of you who stick around.

Two weeks ago, I was in the kitchen, experimenting yet again. I have been in constant pursuit of the perfect Thai Lettuce Wraps. It was my fifth round of attempts (yes, I said fifth). All prior recipes were okay, but not quite there, so I decided to go with a different inspiration, one with a tomato-y base.  I used a recipe as my general guide, and all seemed to be going well, until I added the coconut milk. Way, way too much. The seasonings were so diluted in the sauce that I knew the remaining chunks of veggies and meat wouldn’t be flavorful enough on their own.

I was about to give in, serve them in the lettuce wraps, and chalk it up as another mediocre attempt when something compelled me to just give the sauce a little taste to see if it was worth salvaging in some other way. IT WAS DELICIOUS. I seriously impressed myself. Not wanting to waste a drop, I added more light coconut milk and served it up as a chunky soup / stew. We licked our bowls clean within mere minutes. Needless to say, I have already made that soup again, and again (recipe below).

But it seems that whatever that something inside of me was, that gut feeling to not just let it go, was the theme that week.

For years my husband and I hesitated to even say the name of the town we moved from almost five years ago. We had lived there for many important and wonderful years of our lives. We bought our first home, we got married, we built a successful business … but, at the end of it all, we left with so much animosity. Though our marriage was strong, we hit one of those rough patches in life, and we took our anger out on “that place.” We couldn’t even appreciate the wonderful friendships that were just beginning to build and the sheer beauty that surrounded us.

But that week, as we laid on the living room floor staring at the ceiling and discussing our next step, as we wondered about continuing our lease or buying a place where we currently live, a place we do enjoy … the conversation took a sharp turn to the land of the unexpected. The monster was unleashed; someone said the name of “that place,” and we both rather suddenly, wanted to go back. It was a strong gut feeling that literally consumed us. Our anger had long passed and we knew, we just knew, it was where we now belonged.

Within a single day, we went from four plus years of refusing to say the name of “that place,” to committing to move there and “settle down” in just 30 days.

Today as we talked about it with both nerves and excitement, my husband said he even started to well up when telling some people that we were moving back (my husband does not cry!). When I asked him why we are both feeling so emotional, he said, “It’s because we are going home.”

Dairy-Free Tomato Thai Soup

Alisa’s Accidental Creamy Thai Tomato Soup

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, relatively Low-Fat, and optionally Vegan / Vegetarian. This is the baseline recipe, see my notes below for adding veggies and to make it vegan/vegetarian.

  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil (substitute peanut, olive, or grapeseed oil if you wish)
  • 1 Cup Thinly Sliced Leek (about 1 medium – whites and lower green, tough leaves removed) or Thinly Sliced Yellow/White Onion (about ½ medium onion)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Finely Minced Ginger
  • 8 Ounces Lean or Extra-Lean Ground Turkey (can substitute chicken or tofu or see veggie options below)
  • 1 8-Ounce Can Plain Tomato Sauce (like Hunt’s or generic)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Red Curry Paste
  • 1 Cup Light Coconut Milk or Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage
  • 1 Tablespoon Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lime Zest
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Lime Juice

Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leek or onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for 1 minute more. Turn the heat up to medium, and add the turkey. Cook, breaking it up as you stir, until cooked through, about 7 minutes or so. Stir in tomato sauce and curry paste, and allow the flavors to meld for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (coconut milk through the lime), and let the soup simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken a bit. Serve.

Optional Veggie Add-Ins: This recipe is very friendly to veggies in terms of taste. On the first go, I added 2 full cups of baby spinach leaves near the very end of simmering. The second time I added about 1.5 cups of thinly sliced cabbage after the onions. Both were wonderful (I think we liked the spinach best though). Some other veggies that really appeal to me for this recipe are cauliflower, eggplant (would need  a bit more saute time), and baby corn.

Vegetarian / Vegan Option: As noted above, you can substitute in tofu for the meat, and/or feel free to go crazy with the veggie suggestions or your own ideas. The tricky part is the fish sauce. It seems there is a vegetarian version on the market, or you can make your own homemade version, or in a pinch, substitute soy sauce (adding some nori flakes if you have them – seaweed gives it more of that fishy taste), but the flavor will be a bit different.

Dairy-Free Tomato Thai Turkey Soup

Blog Events: I am submitting this recipe to Souper Sundays, hosted by Kahakai Kitchen.

Sweet Roasted Five-Spice Carrots

Posted by on September 10, 2009 | 15 Comments

Don’t forget about the Vegan Brunch and Vegan Soul Kitchen Giveaway!

My husband and I got in a discussion the other day about carrots. Yes, carrots. For years he has picked through stir fries leaving a pile of carrots neatly on the side of his plate, which I eventually end up nabbing with my chopsticks to avoid any waste (okay, I love carrots, so I really don’t mind). But, when I made the outright statement that he doesn’t like carrots, he eminently denied it. I gave him my annoyed yet perplexed face, and he proceeded with an explanation. He claimed that most carrots just weren’t good quality. The ones that we have had in some finer restaurants are much sweeter … those, he likes.

I typically buy organic carrots (the extra $.20 for a 1 lb bag is well worth it for this high-pesticide veggie), but I proceeded to trial the baby carrots, the regular bagged carrots, and even locally grown carrots with their green leafiness still in tact. No luck. I knew the sweetness he was speaking of, but I just couldn’t seem to find it. Perhaps I am just a bit early in the year, since peak season for carrots doesn’t hit until next month. But still …

So I went online and discovered a little secret. Don’t ask me where I found it, as I merely committed the idea to memory, but it seems many chefs will sweeten the pot a bit with just a wee bit of sugar to bring out the natural sweetness in carrots without going overboard and creating a glaze.

So with this new-to-me concept and a 5-spice craving, I cranked on the oven, and threw together this lightly sweetened side dish. Though my husband wasn’t elated at first to see a big pile of carrots on his plate, he gladly devoured every last morsel …

5spicecarrots

Sweet Roasted Five-Spice Carrots

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Vegetarian, and optionally Vegan.

  • 12 Ounces (3/4 lb) Carrots, thickly sliced or baby carrots
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil (melted) or Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Honey (can substitute brown sugar, agave, or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Preheat your oven to 450ºF.

Place the carrots in a large baking dish (preferably in a single layer). Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine and evenly distribute the seasonings.

Place the carrots in the oven, and allow them to bake for 15 minutes.

Remove, give them a stir, and return them to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until they are nice and roasty-toasty.

Yields 3 to 4 sides of sweet carrots

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