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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Taste & Create: Rustic Potato Summer Gratin

Posted by on August 23, 2009 | 25 Comments

The week flew by, and I had an enjoyable, but rather uneventful weekend. We watched the movie There Will Be Blood. Has anyone else seen that? It was good, but totally mental! We also went out one night to one of our favorite restaurants, sat with a view of the giant fish tank, savored hearty sesame-ahi tuna wraps (I need to make those at home), and sipped on a couple of MGD 64’s. I know, woo! Don’t lose control there. Aside from that, there was a nice long walk, a good cardio workout, an hour of stretch, and … I made a delicous Potato Gratin, rich with tomatoes, onions, and garlic.

You didn’t think I was going to get to the food did you? Well, this dish is actually a take on my partner’s recipe from Taste & Create, food blogger Kendall at Res-O-Puh-Leese.

I had a doozy of a time picking a recipe, as there were so many to choose from buried within her blog, but I eventually settled on the Potato, Tomato, and Garlic Gratin.

Of course, since this recipe was already tested and approved as is, I decided to play around with it a little; within reason of course. Kendall isn’t a fan of onions, but I am, so I referenced the original recipe to add those babies back in. I took the fats down, as some of the oil seemed a bit unnecessary (no compromise there!), and I simplified a few of the steps (she is quite the gourmet!) for my simple kitchen style. In the end, I renamed it a “Rustic” gratin, because I like my potatoes unpeeled. The skin adds so much wonderful flavor and texture. The “Summer” part came from the use of fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.

Here is a close-up just before I popped it in the oven …

rustic potato gratin close

Now, I ran into one little glitch. Those potatoes on top crisp up and start to blacken well before the potatoes are done. At 45 minutes, I took it out, turned those top potatoes over, and popped it back in. You can do this, or try the untested tip which I include at the end of the recipe. I think it will work just fine.

The end result was rich, delicious, and completely gone in one meal (Thank you Kendall!) …

rustic potato gratin

Oh yes, would you like the recipe?

 

Recipe: Rustic Potato Summer Gratin

Summary: ReAdapted from Res-o-puh-leese, which was adapted from Simply French by Patricia Wells & Joel Robuchon.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Sea Salt, to taste (1/2 t is probably enough, but I went overboard with 1 t, and we loved it!)
  • Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 lb Ripe Tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded & chopped (See note below. I used fresh, but you can substitute 1 14.5-ounce can of drained diced tomatoes in a pinch)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Honey (can sub agave nectar to keep it vegan)
  • 1.5 lbs Baking Potatoes (nice big Russets!)
  • 3 Teaspoons Dairy-Free Margarine, divided (I used Earth Balance Soy-Free, but you can substitute more olive oil)
  • 3/4 Cup Chicken, Beef, or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Flat-leaf Parsley, snipped
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the garlic and saute for 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and allow it to cook and thicken for about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  3. Meanwhile, prep those potatoes! Give them a good scrub. I leave them unpeeled for that “rustic” effect, but peel them if you must. Thinly slice the potatoes (about 1/4-inch worked for me). Set aside about 1/4 to 1/3 of the potatoes in a medium-sized bowl to use as the topping.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the remaining potatoes with the sauce and toss carefully to blend.
  5. Liberally rub the bottom of a 9″ pie dish (or similarly sized oven-safe dish) with 1 teaspoon of the margarine, or oil if using instead.
  6. Transfer the potato-tomato mixture to the baking dish, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon. Add the broth to cover.
  7. Add the remaining 2 teaspons of margarine (or oil) and the parsley to the reserved potatoes for the topping. Toss to coat evenly.
  8. Arrange the “buttered” potato slices one by one atop the potato-tomato mixture in your baking dish (in an overlapping pattern), until the entire dish is covered with an even potato layer. Sprinkle with the thyme.
  9. Place the dish in the centre of the oven and bake until the potatoes are soft, most of the liquid has been absorbed, and the top is golden, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check in after 40 minutes. If those potatoes on top are crisping too fast, turn them over to cook the other sides, and return to the oven. Serve immediately.

Quick notes

Peeling Tomatoes: Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water large enough to hold all the tomatoes. Cut a slit in the skin of each tomato from top to bottom, and drop them all into the boiling water. Leave them in the boiling water for approximately 1 minute before removing each tomato with a slotted spoon and placing it immediately in the bowl of cold water. As soon as the tomato is cool enough to touch, remove the skin, which will now slide away easily.

Variations

Alternate Baking Method: If you run into the potato crisping problem I had, try this … reduce the broth to 1/2 to 2/3 cup, and bake for just 45 minutes to 1 hour. I think this timing will work well, since the potatoes are definitely done by 1 hour but with 3/4 cup broth, it isn’t all absorbed.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 90 minute(s)

Diet tags: Dairy free, Egg free, Gluten free, Nut free, Peanut free, Soy free, Wheat free, Low Sugar, and optionally Vegan and Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 4

Copyright © Alisa Fleming.

rustic potato gratin uncooked

Blog Events: I submitted this recipe post to Friday Foodie Fix (Thyme) at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.

Sweet Nutrition: True Blue Smoothie

Posted by on August 16, 2009 | 19 Comments

Thanks to this year’s bumper blueberry crop, our [tiny] freezer is quickly filling. But I must say, it is worth it; this year’s blueberries seem sweeter than ever. Plus, you can’t beat the prices. We have been getting loads of these delicious Oregon blueberries for just $1.00 to $2.00 per lb at our local grocery stores.

Though I offered to make some blueberry bars, my husband quickly declined with a, “Save them for the smoothies!” Considering how much he loves cookies and bars, this says a ton for his adoration of our homemade smoothies. In fact, there is one sweet blueberry smoothie, which  he not only enjoys immensely, but also brags to others about (in attempts to thwart his less than healthy childhood image).

You might be thinking, “Sure, fruit smoothies are healthy; what’s the big deal?” Well, for starters, I make them only with ripe fruit and unsweetened liquids, no added sugars; though you are welcome to sweeten to taste if your fruit is less than scrumptious. I also add in whatever I think we need at the time, such as some ground flaxseed, a little protein powder, etc. But what my husband got most excited about was what he didn’t know was in the smoothies for the first two months I was serving them too him.

Can you tell? (focus on the blue and please ignore the water spots!)

truebluesmoothie2

Do you see those wonderfully sweet blueberry flecks throughout? Those were my disguise. What you can’t taste, or see, is the spinach! You have probably seen claims on other blogs that you can’t taste spinach in smoothies. Years ago I put this theory to the test, and it was true, but because it turned the smoothie a less than attractive green, I couldn’t get my husband to go near it. However, when I snuck the spinach into this blueberry smoothie (blackberries work too), he was none the wiser, as he happily sipped away his new favorite breakfast.  

After I let him in on the secret, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. I have overheard him many times boasting, “You can add spinach to smoothies and you can’t even taste it!” My job here is done …

 

True Blue Smoothie

This recipe is adapted from my book! – Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Depending on the milk alternative you use, this recipe can be Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free, and Low Fat.

“This is my go-to smoothie, and trust me on this one … don’t omit the spinach. I don’t care who you are serving it to, they will never know it is in there. The blueberries mask the green color, resulting in a beautiful purple beverage. As for the flavor … even the most adamant non-believers come back to me with surprise comments of delight. I never add sweetener, but feel free to add a bit if your fruit isn’t very sweet.”

  •  1 Medium Very Ripe Banana, Broken into Chunks
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Plain or Vanilla Milk Alternative of Choice [This summer I am using 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk]
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Ice

Toss the banana, blueberries, and 1/2 cup of the milk alternative into your blender, and process until smooth. Add the cinnamon (if using), flax seeds, and spinach, and blend until those little green specks vanish. Blend in more milk alternative until it reaches your desired consistency. If desired, blend in a handful of ice for a frostier treat.

Optional Add-ins:

  • Sweetener, to Taste (agave, sugar, or your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Flax Seeds (left whole or pre-ground in your spice grinder)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Protein Powder of Choice

Yields 1 to 2 Servings

 

Freezing Blueberries (or other summer berries) – As mentioned, blueberries freeze beautifully:

  1. As soon as you get home with your bounty, set aside some fresh ones to consume over the next few days.
  2. Take the remaining blueberries, rinse them well, and pat them dry.
  3. I usually leave them on the counter on a towel in a single layer, after I have patted them dry, for an hour or so to get rid of any excess moisture.
  4. Place the blueberries in large freezer bags (make sure they are freezer bags, not the regular ones), zip them closed, getting as much air out as possible, and freeze.
  5. I usually lay the bags flat in the freezer and stack one on top of the other.

Taste & Create: Indian Potato-Stuffed Flatbreads

Posted by on July 20, 2009 | 13 Comments

tasteandcreatelogoThis month on Taste & Create I was paired up with Divya Vikram of the blog Dil Se. Though her baked bread recipes seriously tempted me, I thought I might be missing the whole experience if I didn’t trial an Indian recipe from her blog. I decided on the Aloo Paratha recipe, or personal-sized, Indian potato-stuffed flatbreads. Yes, it was still technically bread, but no oven required, bonus!

Though my ratios need to be perfected, this multi-step recipe was surprisingly simple, and it really flowed.  I kneaded the no-yeast bread within a few minutes, set it aside to rest, made the potatoes (while the potatoes were boiling I put the soup on – see next paragraph), rolled the dough out, plopped in the potato, bundled them up, flattened, pan-fried, and viola! A nice, flavorful, whole-grain, and dare I say, adventurous vegetarian meal.

Okay, so mine aren’t quite perfection … yet. But that doesn’t take away from the taste. Though this flatbread making does take practice, you should have some tasty and doable results on the first try.

alooparatha

Divya says that this is an authentic North Indian breakfast, but we decided to have them for lunch, alongside the creamy Lightly Curried Cruciferous Soup from my book, Go Dairy Free. It seemed fitting since both recipes used garam masala, so I could just make one little batch of the quick garam masala spice mix from my book, and I was good to go!  You can use a homemade version such as the one I used, or store-bought if you wish.  

As she mentions, these flatbreads are definitely best hot, but I did read on another site that they freeze well and can be reheated later.  They are certainly unique and full of good flavor. Enjoy!

Indian Potato-Stuffed Flatbreads (Aloo Paratha)
Recipe adapted from Dil Se ..

This recipe is Vegan, Vegetarian, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free, and relatively Low in Fat

  • 1 Cup Warm Water, plus additional as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon Oil (I used grapeseed), plus a little extra (or a little bit of dairy-free margarine) for pan-frying
  • 3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour, plus additional as needed (use white-wheat or half wheat / half white for a lighter bread, if desired)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt, divided, or to taste
  • 1 1/4 lbs Potatoes (about 3 medium), cut into 1/2-inch chunks (your choice – I used baby russets, but white, red, or yukon gold will work – no need to peel in my opinion)
  • 1 Teaspoon Garam Masala

Place the warm water and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large bowl. Add in the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and combine, kneading to bring the dough together into a ball. It should be just a little sticky but fairly firm; add more water or flour as needed. Lightly cover the bowl, and set the dough aside while you prepare the potatoes.

Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes, or until they are fork tender. Drain well and mash them with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and garam masala. Taste test, and season to taste with additional salt and/or pepper as desired (Divya adds a little cilantro, but we are an anti-cilantro household).

Divide the dough into twelve equal portions, and one at a time, roll the dough out into a circle that is about 6 to 7 inches in diameter (use additional flour as needed to prevent sticking). Place a potato ball in the center, and bring up the dough to enclose the potato mixture, pinching the seams at the top to seel (almost like a “purse”). If the potato balls are too large, just take a bit out so that it fits – you may end up with some leftover potato mixture. Turn the ball seam-side down, and gently roll it out (some potato mixture may appear or escape, nothing tragic), until it is fairly thin – maybe 1/4-inch high. Repeat with remaining dough and potato mixture.

Heat a little oil (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) or dairy-free margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add a couple of the flatbreads and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it just begins to brown. Flip and cook for another minute or so. Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining flatbreads, adding more oil to the pan if needed. Consume while hot!

Yields about 12 hearty flatbreads

alooparatha2

Easy Mexican Meals: Part 2 – Sloppy Joses over Polenta

Posted by on July 10, 2009 | 26 Comments

(Part 1: Easy Mexican Meals: Homemade Taco Seasoning)

By most people’s standards, my grandpa was a very difficult man. He was often labeled as stubborn, tough,  and bull-headed, but to me he was a loving grandfather with so much wisdom from life. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade. He built his first fortune from scratch in his twenties. He lost it all. He built his second fortune. And once again, he lost it all. He built his third fortune (no, this man was not a quitter!), but this time he held onto it, invested wisely, and lived a comfortable and long retirement.

Of course, my fondest childhood memories of my grandpa revolved around food. He loved my grandma’s loganberry jam and pies; OH how he clamored for those pies! But he always took a minute away from his dessert cravings to make sure my grandma put out an antipasto platter filled with black olives when we were coming for dinner. Within minutes of our arrival I would find my way to the olives, popping one on each finger and nibbling them away one by one until dinnertime. It always made my grandpa smile and laugh.

My grandpa passed away last month, but he fought his way to the wonderful age of 91. Though I miss him greatly, I think he would be happy to know that I am still playing with my olives …

Turkey Sloppy Joses Over Polenta

Turkey Sloppy Joses over Polenta
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Low-Fat, and Sugar-Free (depending on your tomato sauce)

This version is served over polenta, but you can use rice or a hamburger bun (with some lettuce of course!) as your base if you prefer. My husband convinced me long ago that Worcestershire sauce adds a “meaty” flavor to ground turkey that it seems to be lacking, so I frequently use it in dishes such as this one.

  • 2 Teaspoons Grapeseed or Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Diced
  • 1 20-ounce Package Lean Ground Turkey
  • 2 to 3 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
  • 1 8-ounce Can Tomato Sauce (like Hunt’s or a generic)
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes (around 3/4 to 1 lb), diced
  • 1 Batch Alisa’s Homemade Taco Seasoning, black pepper omitted (can sub 1 packet of premade taco seasoning, but if you ask me, mine’s better)
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn*
  • 1 Chub Prepared Polenta*
  • About 1 Dozen Black Olives, sliced

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté for two minutes. Add the turkey, and sprinkle with the Worcestershire if using. Sauté, breaking up the turkey as you go, until it is cooked through (no pink!). Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, and corn. Stir until everything is well combined. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow it to simmer for a few minutes or longer if you prefer.

While that  is simmering, slice the polenta into 1/2-inch thick slices, and heat it in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat, flipping once.  Divide the polenta between four plates, and top with the turkey mixture. Sprinkle with olives and serve.

*Since corn is a top GMO product in the U.S., I always purchase organic corn products. Organic frozen corn shouldn’t set you back more than an extra quarter or two depending on where you shop. Most chub polenta that I see is organic, so it shouldn’t be hard to find by default. Do not purchase the polenta at a local grocer unless on sale, they tend to charge way too much. You should be able to find it for around $2.00 to $2.50.

Yields 4 sloppy servings

Turkey Sloppy Joses over Polenta

Blog Events:

 

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5 Good Things Since My Last Post (oops, I almost forgot!)

  1. I emailed with a good foodie friend whom I hadn’t heard from in a very long while.
  2. When picking up some weights we happened across a clearance sale at a sporting goods store. While looking through the shoes my husband handed me a pair that were in the wrong section and said “these belong in the 6’s.” Me, not listening, thought he handed them to me to try on. So I put them on and they fit great! Up until that point only Asics fit my narrow heel and wider forefoot, but the Renegade Brooks fit like a glove and were on sale for a steal! I should not listen to him more often!
  3. I made fresh-squeezed lemonade, yum!
  4. Today I finished 3 big to-do items from my list. Yes, I am a list freak.
  5. I was honored with some personal tips from the blogger guru, Zesty, so you may see a facelift on this blog soon!

Easy Mexican Meals: Part 1 – Taco Seasoning

Posted by on June 18, 2009 | 24 Comments

Unless it is a burrito shop like Chipotle, my husband balks at the idea of going out for Mexican food. He just does not like it. But, he loves my homemade Mexican cuisine. Authentic or more likely, not, my homemade enchiladas, nachos, fajitas, and tacos hit his taste buds just right.

I love to make all of these dishes from scratch, including homemade dairy-free “cheese” for the nachos. However, when it comes to quick Mexican-inspired meals, I rely heavily on my good ol’ taco seasoning. In fact, over the past few weeks I have whipped up this taco seasoning about a half a dozen times. I will share the recipe for the meals I have made with it in upcoming posts, but for now, I thought that I should start out by sharing the taco seasoning from my guide and cookbook! You can of course use store-bought taco seasoning, but really, this tastes so much better, has no additives, and is a great frugal alternative to packaged and processed foods.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Flavorful Taco Seasoning
This recipe is from Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

We use a mild chili powder, as we prefer to control the heat of our meals after the fact, with hot sauce or salsa to taste, but you can use a medium or hot one if you prefer. This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free, Sugar-Free, and Non-Fat.

  • 1 Tablespoon Mild Chili Powder
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Crushed Oregano
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (increase if you like spicier)
  • 1/2 to 1 Teaspoon Salt (I use the full amount)
  • Up to 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper (optional) [I often omit]

 In a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients together. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container.

To Prepare: Add the full batch of this seasoning mix to 1 lb of almost cooked ground meat, cubed chicken, vegan “meat” crumbles, cubed tofu, or chopped vegetables. Finish cooking with the seasoning incorporated to help the flavors meld.

Yields 2-1/2 Tablespoons or the Equivalent of a 1/4-Ounce Packet of Store-Bought

The World’s Easiest Healthy Chicken Recipe

Posted by on June 4, 2009 | 17 Comments

Quite the claim, I know. And while it may or may not be true, this meal is unbelievably simple … and the recipe is a cinch to customize to your own tastes. My husband quite literally threw this dish together one night when we were starving and uninspired. It has since become one of our go-to meals on those hurried nights.

Please excuse the less than stellar photo. It was night (no light), but I still wanted to give you an idea of the end result …

salsachicken

Tony’s Two-Ingredient Salsa Chicken
This recipe is Low-Fat, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and Sugar-Free

  • 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Cup Salsa (your favorite will do, see below)
  • Chopped or Sliced Olives (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350ºF, and lightly grease a baking dish large enough to fit the chicken.

If your chicken breasts are particularly thick, you may want to butterfly them for a faster cooking time and to ensure that they evenly cook through. Lay the chicken breasts in a single later in the baking dish, douse with salsa, sprinkle with olives (if using), and put it in the oven, uncovered. Bake for about 30 minutes. The baking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken. You don’t want to cook it for too long, lest the meat become tough, but do make sure it is cooked through, with no pink left in the middle.

Choosing your salsa – One of the great things about this dish is that you can easily customize the flavor. Go mild (for timid taste buds) or extra-spicy (for fire lovers), use green salsa, a fresh homemade salsa, or stick with the cheapest all-natural salsa in a jar that you located on sale at your local grocer for $1.34 (that would be our pick!).

Make it a meal – I throw in some veggies to roast for an easy one dish meal. You can either add some extra salsa to flavor the veggies, or toss the veggies with just a wee bit of oil, some salt and pepper, and place them in the baking dish around the chicken just before you put it in the oven. I like cauliflower florets best, which seem to roast to perfection along with the chicken. 

To serve – We usually have a grain-free dinner, with just the chicken and a plate full of veggies, but this meal also goes well with rice.

Yields 2 to 3 servings

Taste & Create: Balsamic Chicken with Vegetables

Posted by on May 20, 2009 | 13 Comments

Last week our favorite “farmers” market (a grocery store, but focused on produce, bulk foods, fresh items, etc.) had boneless, skinless chicken breasts on for $1.67 per lb. Since we are using more lean protein, we stocked up. Okay, that is an understatement. We packed our tiny little freezer right to the ice maker!

So, when my Taste & Create partner was announced, I ♥ Food 4 Thought, I went straight to the categories on her site and selected chicken. One dish immediately caught my eye, the Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms. Let me tell you, it is delcious! In fact, I have already made it a few times. The first time I followed the recipe exactly, and then I added in some of her suggestions and a few of my own tweeks.

Thank you Clara – this is a great light and easy dish! So light in fact, that you should be able to justify some dessert from her other blog, I ♥ Cuppycakes.

balsamic chicken

Balsamic Chicken with Vegetables
Recipe adapted from I ♥ Food 4 Thought
This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free

This dish can be made on the fly, but it is best if you plan ahead, and let the chicken marinade for at least 4 to 24 hours.

  • 1 lb Chicken Breasts
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Crushed Garlic or 4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 8 Ounces Mushrooms, halved or quartered (depending on size)
  • 1 Small Onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 Medium Zucchini, sliced

Spread the chicken out in a dish. Combine the vinegar, mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pour 3 Tablespoons of this mixture over the chicken, flipping it to coat, and cover. Cover the leftover marinade. Place the chicken and leftover marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours if you have the time.

When ready to cook, heat the teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, moving it around to cover (can use cooking spray instead). Add the chicken along with all of its marinade (not the reserved marinade) and cook until it is cooked through (no pink left in the middle) – I cover it to retain moisture – flipping only once. Remove the chicken and divide it among your serving plates.

Add the onions to your skillet, and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the zucchini and reserved marinade, and cook for 2 more minutes, followed by the mushrooms, cooking until all the vegetables reach your desired doneness. Serve the vegetables alongside the chicken. If desired, this dish goes nicely with a grain, such as brown rice or quinoa.

Want some Broccoli?: Instead of the zucchini use 6 to 8 ounces of broccoli florets. Add the florets after just one minute of cooking the onion, along with 1 tablespoon of broth, wine, or water. Cover, and allow the broccoli to cook for a few minutes, before removing the lid and adding the reserved marinade and mushrooms.  Proceed cooking until the vegetables are done to your liking. Since the mushrooms will release some additional liquid, you may want to sprinkle on a little flour to thicken the sauce.

Note: If there is any leftover sauce that looks a bit runny, I like to thicken it for a minute or two after I plate the vegetables, by sprinkling in just a little bit of flour (your choice) and whisking over the heat then drizzling it over the chicken and veggies.

Yields 2 to 4 servings (depending on your appetite, and if you serve it with a grain)

Balsamic Chicken

Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage – Quick & Lean

Posted by on May 14, 2009 | 34 Comments

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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    The Guilt-Free Banana Bread Recipe You Have All Been Waiting For …

    Posted by on May 11, 2009 | 74 Comments

    Okay, maybe not ALL of  you, but ever since I posted about the Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread from my book, Go Dairy Free, I have been flooded with requests for the recipe. It is in the book (along with tons of dairy-free living info and many other awesome recipes, if I do say so myself), which can be ordered on Amazon for an insanely good price … but enough with the sales pitches … I am more than happy to share that recipe with you here!

    But first, a little background on the recipe …

    An important part of going dairy-free for me was turning to home-baked bread. At the time, every last loaf at my local grocer contained milk in some form (milk powder, cheese, whey, caseinate, etc.). Even when a couple specialty vegan/dairy-free brands appeared, they were way too costly to warrant regular purchase.

    While I learned to enjoy pounding on dough for a good homemade yeast bread once in a while (excellent stress reliever), I don’t always have time or the patience for the process. So I set out to create a quick bread that was nutritious enough to use for my morning toast. With that in mind, this bread is completely sugar-free, using just the bananas for a hint of sweetness. I find it perfect as a base for nut butter, jam, or honey, each of which adds their own dose of flavor, wouldn’t you agree Ricki? [Ricki has a new cookbook out called Sweet Freedom – desserts without wheat, dairy, eggs, and refined sugar – so I consider her the ultimate expert on sugar-free baked goodies]

    If you want a little of the sweet stuff, feel free to add around 1/4 cup of your favorite sugar (honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, sugar straight up, etc.) to the recipe. But, if you want a loaf of sugar-loaded, dessert banana bread, I suggest you look elsewhere.

    Healthy foodies who know how to savor the flavor … read on, and fire up that oven!

    Mini Sugar-Free, Spelt Banana Bread Loaf

    Unsweetened Breakfast-Worthy Banana Bread
    Recipe from “Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living” by Alisa Fleming (yours truly!)

    This Recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Sugar-Free and Optional Nut-Free

    “Going out on a limb, I created a banana bread recipe that is completely void of added sugar of any kind, relying solely on the extra-ripe bananas for their natural sweetness. What resulted was a mildly sweet loaf of bread that my entire family adores. It is perfect for breakfast, and won’t leave you face down on your keyboard by 10am. Feel free to make this bread the night before, allowing the banana flavor to infuse and giving the bread time to take on some moisture. If you do prefer a bit of a sweeter loaf, add a bit of sweetener with the wet ingredients.” – [Yes, I just quoted myself]

    1/2 Cup Unsweetened Milk Alternative of Choice
    2 Tablespoons Ground Flaxseed
    2 Cups Whole Grain Spelt Flour or Whole Wheat Flour
    1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
    1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
    1/4 Teaspoon Salt
    1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Coconut Oil
    1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    3 to 4 Medium-Sized, Very (Very) Ripe Bananas, Mashed (about 1-1/2 to 2 cups mashed)*
    1/2 Cup Nuts, Dried Fruit, or Other Add-ins (optional)

    Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC) and grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk alternative and flaxseed and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Returning to your mixing bowl, blend in the oil, vanilla, and bananas until well mixed. Stir in the dry ingredients by hand, being careful not to over-mix; a few lumps are okay. Gently fold in the nuts, fruit, or any other add-ins, if using. Spread the batter into your prepared loaf pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is browned and resilient to the touch. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Mini-Loaf Option: The loaf pictured above is actually a mini-loaf. This recipe will make four mini loaves, baked at 350º for about 22 to 25 minutes. I topped the loaves with some sliced almonds just before popping them in the oven and subbed the vanilla extract with 3/4 teaspoon almond extract for a slightly almond vibe.

    * I prefer to use a full 2 cups of banana for the deepest flavor and a very moist bread, but using 1/2 cup less will allow the bread to rise a bit more.

    Yields 10 to 12 servings

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