Some of you who follow my blog might remember the fudge brownies a few weeks ago that I overcooked. I froze them for future use and today got one out and since I didn’t have any hemp cream to make a hemp cream sundae, asked myself what else I could put on it to make it moister and decadent. I always have tahini on hand (its my peanut butter since I’m allergic to nuts) and I have a pint of my strawberry jam in the frig so I decided to heat up the brownie (15 seconds in the microwave or 5 minutes in a toaster oven) and then top it with a dollop of the tahini (which melted slightly from the heat of the brownie) and then a dollop of the strawberry jam. Delicious! Very satisfying because it was fudgy rich, moist, and the jam added more sweetness and just the perfect amount of gooey with the tahini.
When I make stuffed peppers, I have to make two varieties. My husband likes the traditional pepper stuffed with a tomato-based rice while I prefer them with a cheesy rice stuffing. We don’t have them often since he’s diabetic and all that rice isn’t good for his blood sugar so I’ve revised my recipe to include only half the rice using quinoa for the other half. Adds more protein while cutting the carbohydrates. So here are both recipes. Makes two servings with a little extra stuffing.
- 2 medium peppers, whatever color you like
- 1 cup cooked ground meat (turkey, chicken, beef or pork)
- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup cheese sauce (see Macaroni and Cheese recipe)
- 1 cup tomato sauce (see Spaghetti and Meatball recipe or use one from a jar) plus 1/2 cup for the bottom of the baking dish
- 1/2 cup diced onion, sautéed
- Salt, pepper, and herbs to your taste
- Sliced non-dairy provolone or shredded mozzarella for the tops of the peppers
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tops off your peppers and scoop out the seeds, cutting some of the white inside rind away as well (it can be bitter). Place them in a 2 quart pot with water filling the peppers and covering them. Simmer for about 10 minutes until just tender; since you’re also going to bake them, don’t overcook them, just want them parboiled. The 10 minutes includes the time it takes for the water to boil.
Mix together the onions, meat, brown rice, and quinoa, and herbs in a bowl. When mixed, divide into two bowls and add the cheese sauce to one bowl and the tomato sauce to the other. Mix thoroughly and fill the drained peppers. You should have some extra stuffing for serving with them (I usually cut them in half when serving and add the extra stuffing on the top, with more cheese, if you like.
Put the 1/2 cup of extra tomato sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. Add the peppers and bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes until very tender and the cheese melts.
Try to choose peppers with flat bottoms but if you can’t find two like-sized peppers with flat bottoms, cut the bottoms to flatten them trying not to cut into the pepper itself. When I can’t find peppers with flat bottoms, I will often cut them in half and stuff the halves and bake them lying on their sides. Or, of course, one could cut the bottom off entirely and place the peppers into the baking dish before filling them, allowing that the stuffing could run out during baking.
One of my more recent discoveries, pork sliders are so good as a meal if you eat several or as an appetizer for a party. People love them. I made these first last Christmas for a party I went to and they disappeared. A large pork roast will make 30-36 sliders but for a meal for my husband and I, I use a smaller portion. Great use of leftover pork roast.
- 1 cup shredded pork (I use my food processor to break up the pork)
- 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (such as Organicsville Agave Barbecue Sauce or home-made)
Heat in a skillet for several minutes and place on gluten-free dinner rolls (or if you have a leftover bagel, that works as well). Top with several tablespoons of cole slaw (see recipe under Soups and Salads). The cole slaw adds a great crunch to the slider.
Being from New England, one of my comfort foods has to be baked beans. I like to eat mine with rice, that way I eat fewer baked beans but my husband likes to eat his plain with extra ketchup. Whatever way you like them, this baked bean recipe makes hearty, not too sweet beans.
- 1 16-ounce bag of dried red kidney beans (or whatever bean your family prefers)
Be sure that the water covers the beans by at least 3 inches. Cover the bowl so that nothing falls in it while the beans are soaking.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. You’ll need:
- 1 medium diced onion
- 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup real maple syrup (depending on how sweet you want your beans)
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 cup sugar-free ketchup (such as Organicsville Agave Ketchup)
- 1/2 cup diced bacon (optional) [when I add bacon, I use turkey bacon that doesn’t add any fat to the beans]
Combine above ingredients except the beans and onion. Add the diced onion and your soaked beans to a bean pot. If you don’t have a bean pot, a very heavy Dutch over would work (like a cast iron one). Add 2 cups of the bean soaking liquid into the mixed ingredients and pour over the beans until they are just covered. Don’t overfill your bean pot to start or you’ll have a mess in your oven.
Bake, adding liquid as needed, for approximately 3 hours or until the beans are soft but not mushy. You want to check them every half hour and add liquid as needed as well as stirring them so that the beans on top don’t get undercooked while the beans on the bottom get overcooked. Remember, once you take them out of the oven and leave the cover on the pot, they will continue to cook. I usually let mine sit on the counter for about a half hour after taking them out and then I transfer them to a serving dish.
My father loved winter squash — any variety, he raised them all and loved to eat all of them. His least favorite was the most common, the butternut. It was too wet for his taste so when we cooked one, we had to mix it with other winter squash to dry it out. He always doused it with a good amount of gravy, so it had to be dry to begin with so the gravy would sink in (he also liked his potatoes very dry for the same reason). There’s a wide variety of winter squash to choose from — blue hubbard, acorn, butternut, buttercup, kabocha, carnival, dumpling, delicata, etc — I used an acorn, buttercup, and delicata in my mash but you can use any combination you want. I also use the very smallest I can find since, unless my older brother shows up, I have to eat it all by myself since my son and husband don’t like it.
Wash 3 winter squash and then stab them with a sharp knife to pierce the squash into the center so that the steam can escape while you cook them. Put them in a baking dish with about 1 inch of water and put the dish into a 400 degree oven until the squash are soft. In my case, it took around an hour. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 15 minutes (unless you like burned fingers) before you clean them.
Using some paper towels to collect the seeds and strings from the center and a bowl to collect the meat, cut each squash in half and scoop out the seeds and strings onto the paper towels. Once you have them basically out (its okay if a few strings get into the mash), scoop the meat of the squash into a bowl large enough to hold the meat from all 3 squash. Repeat for each squash.
Once you have the meat separated, mix in:
- 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup avocado oil, or if you can use it, vegan margarine; the amount you’ll use depends on how much squash you have in your bowl (for my 3 very small squash, I used 2 tablespoons)
- 1/2 to 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup agave, maple syrup, or honey (optional) — I actually think winter squash is sweet enough without adding any sweetener, especially if you use a delicata, carnival or dumpling in your mix
Stir briskly with a large spoon (or if you have a lot, use a hand mixer on a low setting) until the squash types and additions are well mixed. If your squash is now too cool to serve, put the squash into a greased baking dish and return to oven to heat up, roughly 15-20 minutes if your oven is already hot.
Another thing we always did with leftovers was make a stew and then either serve it with dumplings or put it in a pie crust and make a meat pie with it. And you could easily do it with a rotisserie chicken or turkey breast from the store. And you can adjust the vegetables to your taste, i.e., add some cooked diced turnip, parsnips or some lima beans, etc.
In an 8-quart dutch oven mix:
- 2 cups diced chicken
- 1 cup cooked peas
- 1 cup cooked green beans
- 1/2 cup cooked diced onion
- 1/2 cup cooked diced celery
- 1/2 cup cooked diced carrots
- 1 cup cooked diced sweet potato
Add stock until the pot is 2/3 full; this should take 3-4 cups and needs to cover the meat and vegetable mixture. Mix up your dumplings in your food processor:
- 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper
- 1/4 cup vegan margarine OR 1/4 cup avocado oil
Once there are pea sized crumbs, add in 3/4 to 1 cup of non-dairy milk depending on if you used the margarine or the oil (I use rice milk but soy would work as well; you want a milk that doesn’t have a strong aftertaste). Pulse until well mixed and the batter is smooth. If your like your dumplings more flavorful, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of an herb mixture OR 1/4 cup fresh parsley to the sifted dry ingredients.
Drop by tablespoons into your boiling stew. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then cover and cook an additional 10 minutes or until dumplings look dry on top. Makes about 12 smaller dumplings or 6 large dumplings (the larger ones will take longer to cook so I usually make them smaller for ease of cooking and my husband usually eats 2-3 of them.
Remove the dumplings into a dish and keep warm in the oven while you thicken the stock. Mix 1/4 cup of brown rice flour into 1/2 cup of cold stock until its smooth without any lumps. Add to the boiling stew, stirring constantly until the gravy thickens. If its too thin, make another slurry of brown rice flour and cold stock (a tablespoon at a time) until it reaches the desired thickness. Be sure the gravy boils before you add more flour slurry since it will thicken more as it boils. And be sure to stir scraping the bottom of the pot so that the gravy doesn’t burn on the bottom (also reduce the heat; you don’t want to do this on a high heat).
Return the dumplings to the pot and serve. Makes 6-8 servings.