Fish Casserole

I baked a beautiful halibut fillet yesterday but it was too much for just me. I’ve had a craving for tuna casserole for several weeks now so decided to mix the leftover halibut in with the tuna and wow, what a delicious, warm, comforting bite. I grew up on things like tuna casserole since my mother worked as a teacher and I began helping her cook meals when I was about ten. This was always a quick and easy meal to put together, but of course, we used canned soup and tuna along with frozen peas and regular pasta. Nothing I use today except the canned tuna and frozen peas. I find having grown up on it and not having fresh tuna until I was well into my 20s, that I prefer the canned stuff even though it’s not politically correct these days to use it. Feel free to use fresh if your family prefers it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish (I found that my 12″ deep skillet made just enough to fill my 9x9x3″ baking dish). Put 3 quarts of water on to boil in a large pot. Chop either by hand or in a food processor:

1 small onion

4-5 stalks celery

8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms

2 medium carrots

Over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12″ skillet with deep sides. Add the chopped vegetables along with:

1 cup frozen peas (or fresh if you have them)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon dry thyme

Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent and carrot is softened, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, add one box (4 servings) to the boiling water of:

gluten-free pasta (I used a mixture of the heart of palm linguini which I love and some brown rice pasta)

Cook per package instructions. When the vegetables are ready, add:

2 cans tuna (I use the Safe Catch, low mercury brand that you don’t drain)

about 1/2 pound cooked white fish (such as halibut, haddock, cod), flaked

1 cup chicken stock (another 1 cup below for a total of 2 cups of chicken stock or fish stock if you have it)

In a small bowl, combine:

1 cup chicken stock

2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour

Combine with a whisk until smooth before adding to the vegetables. Stir constantly until mixture is thickened. Add the strained pasta and place in the prepared baking dish. Top with a bread crumb mixture or French fried onions if desired. Bake for approximately 30 minutes. Serves 4.

Old Fashioned Cake Donut Muffins

It’s a snowy day here in Minnesota so I’m stuck at home. Days like this always give me an urge to bake. It comes from the days, growing up, when my father who worked for the Town road crew, could be out all day and often into the night plowing snow and salting the roads. He’d stop home once or twice in a twelve-hour period and be hungry and want a fresh thermos of coffee. On days like that, I’d bake cookies, muffins, cupcakes, anything portable but his favorite thing was my old fashioned cake donuts. I found a recipe yesterday, not allergy friendly of course, for donut muffins (Dianne on allrecipes.com) and I managed to make it allergy free. Hope you enjoy these. Make a single batch (6-7 small muffins) or a double batch (12-14). Either way, it takes longer to measure out all the ingredients than it does to mix them together and get the dough in the muffin tin! Very quick and easy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a mini or small muffin tin and set aside. For a single batch, in a medium bowl combine:

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons date sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (those of you who follow me regularly know I don’t like nutmeg but in old fashioned donuts, it just has to be nutmeg!)

Stir to combine before adding:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

2 tablespoons avocado oil (or any melted butter, margarine or shortening)

Stir until just combined. Portion into the baking sheet. Try to get all the muffins around the same size. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes or so before removing from the baking pan. If desired, top with the following:

Dip each muffin’s top into:

1/4 cup avocado oil (or melted butter, margarine or shortening of your choice)

Then dip into a mixture of:

1/4 cup date sugar

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (cinnamon, allspice, etc., would also work just fine)

Let cool a few more minutes before serving, if they last that long!

*I used a small muffin pan (about 2″ diameter at the top and a double batch made 12).

Pumpkin Scones

The Asian pear scones were so delicious – moist and flavorful – that I decided to try another scone. These pumpkin scones are also very moist, with warm spices. Perfect served warm for breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea. And easy to make.

In the bowl of a food processor (or a medium size bowl) combine:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum (or guar gum)

1/2 cup date sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon allspice (or cinnamon)

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (or nutmeg, ginger, pumpkin pie spices, cardamon)

1/4 cup Spectrum shortening (or full fat solid coconut oil or congealed olive oil*)

Pulse until crumbly (or use a pastry cutter or fork to combine until crumbly). Place mixture in a medium bowl. Add:

1/2 cup oat milk

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree

Mix until just combined. Spray a small baking sheet (9×15) or line with parchment paper. Turn the mixture out onto the baking sheet and form into a flattened circle approximately 8″ diameter. Using a wet knife, cut into quarters and then cut each quarter in half to form 8 triangles. Arrange pieces approximately 1″ apart on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes (20-30 depending on your oven), or until the top is slightly firm when pressed and the scones are slightly darker in color. Cool.

OPTIONAL:

Glaze with a mixture of monk fruit confectioners sugar (approximately 2 tablespoons) and 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup. Add 1-2 teaspoons water as needed to form a thin glaze, or more maple syrup. Drizzle over scones.

*Put the olive oil in the freezer about an hour before you need it and it will solidify.

Quick Pumpkin Bread

Quick breads are so easy to make and so delicious to eat. Flavorful with warm spices, they take minutes to mix together and, when gluten-free, can take almost an hour to bake. But definitely worth it. Here’s a pumpkin quick bread recipe that will delight your whole family. I used allspice and ground cloves but feel free to use cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or ginger (pumpkin pie spices) instead. Various flours can also be used including all-purpose (I use the 1 to 1) but whatever one you choose will work. For a lighter bread, eliminate the protein powder and use an additional half cup of one of the other flours.

First make some flax gel by combining in a small dish:

2 tablespoons ground flax meal

1/4 cup warm water

Whisk to combine and set aside to gel. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bread pan (9×5″) with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Into your mixer’s bowl or a medium bowl (if using a hand mixer), add:

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup maple syrup (date or agave syrup, honey)

1/4 cup avocado oil

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Mix until combined before adding:

1 cup oat flour

1/2 cup millet flour

1/2 cup quinoa flour

1/2 cup pumpkin protein powder (or another 1/2 cup of any of the flours)

2 teaspoons allspice

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/4 to 1/2 cup date sugar (depending on your taste)

the flax gel

1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional, you could use chocolate or carob chips instead)

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional to sprinkle on top in the pan)

Mix until all ingredients are well combined. This is a thick dough. Spoon into the prepared bread pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds if desired. Bake for 50-60 minutes. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean cook for another 5 minutes. Cool on a rack. Great warm or toasted the next day. Will keep for several days in an airtight container.

Spice Cookies (with pumpkin)

This is a revision of my Gingerbread Cookies that I posted a couple of years ago. Gingerbread cookies and ginger snaps are my favorite kinds of cookies but this past year, I’ve found that ginger, as well as cinnamon, bother me. But one of my favorite things about Christmas is that I allow myself to indulge in a batch of gingerbread cookies. How am I supposed to do that this year? Well, I revised the recipe taking out the cinnamon and ginger and replacing it with allspice (my favorite spice) along with some ground cloves and coriander. I’ve found in the past that these cookies don’t affect my blood sugar unless I eat too many which is easy to do, they’re so delicious!

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a table-top mixer), beat until combined:

1 cup shortening (such as Spectrum)

1/2 cup date sugar

1 teaspoon monk fruit powder

Beat on medium speed until well mixed. Add:

1/2 cup agave nectar (date syrup, honey or coconut nectar would also work)

1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or sweet potato puree)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix on medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients a cup at a time (combine them in a large bowl first):

1 cup millet flour

1 cup tapioca (or cassaba) flour/starch

1/2 cup arrowroot

1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Mix until well combined. If using a hand mixer, best to add half the dry ingredients and then use a large spoon because the dough too thick for a hand-mixer. Form into a round disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1/2 to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough spreading out the plastic wrap to cover the countertop. Put a sheet of parchment paper over the top and roll out to 1/8 to 1/2 inch depending on your taste. Cut using a cookie cutter or a knife and place on the baking sheets. These cookies don’t spread so they can be baked close together. Repeat until all dough is used. Bake 10-20 minutes depending on thickness and your taste (soft or crunchy). When the cookies are still soft to the touch but browned (which is hard to tell with the molasses in them!), they’re cooked. Cool on cooling racks.

For a simple frosting combine (for every 4 cookies):

2 tablespoons monk fruit confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon milk/vanilla/extract (I used some of my coffee)

Whisk to combine. Use immediately, it will harden fairly quickly.

Chocolate Caramel Fudge

Well, here’s a little change of pace for everyone this holiday season. This recipe isn’t allergy free so although I was able to make it (had a bit of an upset stomach later in the day from inhaling chocolate fumes), I couldn’t taste it to tell you if it’s any good but, judging by the recipe, who could lose with chocolate and caramel! I started making hand-dipped and hand-molded filled chocolates when I was twelve years old. The woman who I learned with, Carol, just turned 80 and has lost most of her sight. So, not needing her recipes anymore, she sent them to me earlier this year. Mostly fudge recipes. Well, I tried for years to make fudge, even the never-fail kind with the marshmallow but I was never able to succeed at it. That’s the reason I learned how to make filled chocolates. I had an uncle that I adored and every Christmas I made him a pan of fudge and every year, he stood there with a spoon eating it and told me it was the best fudge he’d ever had. So, after about four or five years of that, I learned how to make chocolates and he was very pleasantly surprised that Christmas. So, it’s been decades since I attempted to make fudge. My daughter-in-law has two favorite candies – chocolate fudge and chocolate covered caramels. This recipe should be perfect for her so after putting it off for several days, I finally tried it today and was very pleased to find that it actually worked!

Spray an 8×8″ baking pan with non-stick spray being sure to coat the sides as well as the bottom. In a medium sized microwave safe bowl combine:

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/4 cup brown sugar (or you could try date sugar)

1/3 cup baking carob or cocoa

1/4 cup non-dairy milk (or regular milk)

Microwave on high until the mixture comes to a boil, approximately 3 minutes. Immediately stir in:

3 cups confectioners sugar (I used the monkfruit confectioners sugar)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix thoroughly (I added 1 cup at a time) until all the sugar is incorporated. Mixture will be thick. Spoon into the prepared baking dish and smooth out the surface. In a smaller microwave safe bowl combine:

30 unwrapped caramels (I know there are sugar-free ones available but unfortunately not dairy free)

1 tablespoon water

Microwave on high for approximately 2 minutes until caramels are melted. Immediately pour over the fudge mixture in the baking pan. If desired, add 1 cup of chopped nuts to the caramel before spreading it. Lastly, into another microwave safe bowl, put:

1/2 cup semi-sweet carob or chocolate chips

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (if preferred and you want sugar free and dairy free ones, use all semi-sweet)

Microwave on high for approximately 1 1/2 minutes until chips are melted. Stir to combine and spread over the caramel. Refrigerate for about 2 hours until the fudge is set. Cut into pieces. I cut it in quarters, then the quarters in half and then each slice in thirds so I got 42 pieces total. It’s easiest to cut it with the chocolate side down so the tops won’t be as smooth and pretty as one might like.

I’m thinking, since the actual fudge can be made with the monkfruit confectioners sugar, that I might substitute a nut butter, perhaps cashew, for the caramel, 1 cup of nut butter and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of monkfruit confectioners sugar.

Asian Pear Coleslaw

I love coleslaw, probably even more than potato or pasta salad. It’s often my go to vegetable if I have everything on-hand. But when my stomach started have a bad reaction to leafy green vegetables, I found it more difficult. At the store the other day, they had some small red cabbages. Red ones I can eat so I bought one, about 3-4 inches in diameter, just enough for a couple of servings of coleslaw. It’s also Asian pear season so I’ve been buying them as well and wondering what to do with them since I always seem to buy more than I can eat just as fruit, especially since the ones I find at the market are extra-large in size. So, of course, this recipe seemed ideal. Feel free to use any cabbage you like be it green, Chinese or red or any combination thereof. I’m rather lazy when it comes to chopping these days with my two rotator cuff tears so I chopped everything in the food processor. Feel free to do the chopping whatever way you like.

In the bowl of a food processor, add:

1 small cabbage, cut into chunks after removing the tough core

4-5 trimmed scallions

1 small or 1/2 of 1 large Asian pear (or slice into thin slices for more crunch)

2 stalks celery, cut into chunks

Pulse until chopped to your liking. Remove the chopped vegetables to a medium bowl. Set aside. In a blender combine:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2-3 teaspoons roasted pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)

Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)

1 tablespoon mustard (whatever type your family likes)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (a dash or pinch)

2 teaspoons maple or date syrup

Blend until most of the seeds are ground and the olive oil is emulsified, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes depending on your blender. Pour dressing over the cabbage mixture and combine. Makes 4 servings. To serve garnish with:

1/4 – 1/3 cup roasted seeds

Non-dairy cheese (optional)

Creamed Salmon with Pasta Casserole

It’s one of those day when the snow is falling and I don’t want to go anywhere. Unfortunately, I neglected to get anything out to cook so what do I do now? Well, I had a can of salmon in the pantry so I pulled it out and mixed up this casserole. I added peas but asparagus or any other vegetable you like would also work.

Spray a small casserole dish with non-stick spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a large (4-6 quart) pot with water and bring it to a boil to cook the pasta. In a separate 1-2 quart pot, heat over medium high:

1/2 cup oil or melted margarine

Whisk in:

1/2 cup (more or less) all-purpose, gluten-free flour (I find I use several tablespoons more flour than fat)

Cook the roue for 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour before whisking in:

1 3/4 cups non-dairy milk (anything EXCEPT soy)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon rind

1 tablespoon brown mustard

Reduce heat to medium. If the water is boiling add:

2-3 servings dry pasta (I used the Thai Brown Rice noodles)

1/2 to 1 cup peas

Cook according to package directions. Continue whisking the sauce until it thickens, more milk may be necessary to get the right consistency (thick enough to stick to the pasta but not gloppy!), reduce heat to simmer and add:

16 ounces of salmon (freshly cooked or canned, skin removed)

When cooked and drained, stir in the pasta and peas. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and slightly browned on the top.

Asian Pear Scones

I’ve only had scones a couple of times and found them to be very dry and crumbly. So I was hesitant to try this recipe but I had a very large Asian pear that would make three servings of fruit, way to much to eat at one time. So this recipe offered me a nice alternative. And, oh my, what a delicious, fluffy, scone! The pear added flavor along with the allspice I used. Asian pears are less juicy and much crisper than other pears like Bosc or Bartlett, they have more of an apple consistency. If you don’t have any Asian pears on hand (they can be difficult to find unless they’re in season which is the late fall), use a very firm pear so that it isn’t too juicy. If you have a riper pear, don’t add as much liquid which would mean none since there’s only a 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk in this recipe.

First, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a medium to large baking sheet with parchment paper. Then make a flax egg by combining:

1 tablespoon ground flax

3 tablespoons warm water

Whisk to combine and set aside for several minutes until it forms a gel. While that’s happening, grate:

1 very large Asian pear (or two smaller pears), washed, cored, and peeled – want about 1 cup of grated pear

In the bowl of a food processor (or if you don’t have one, into a medium bowl), combine:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon guar gum

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup fine date sugar

1 teaspoon spice – cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, etc.

1/3 cup Spectrum shortening (or vegan butter) – without a food processor, use a pastry fork to cut the shortening into the dry ingredients

Pulse until the shortening is combined with the dry mixture. Add:

1 cup grated pear

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

flax gel from above

Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Remove from machine and using a large serving spoon, spoon onto the prepared baking sheet (makes six) and let sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes before baking for 15-20 minutes. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. They can be frozen as well.

Seafood Capellini with Lemon Sauce

Bought some beautiful scallops the other day and wondered what I could do with them. I also had a jar of crabmeat in the refrigerator and since I’ve been carving some seafood pasta, I decided to try something a little different. Generally, one can’t mix lemon juice with dairy since it curdles the milk. However, we don’t use dairy milk but plant-based milks so that doesn’t apply here. Basically, I made a white sauce with oat milk, grated in the rind of one lemon and stirred in the lemon juice, added the seafood and voila! Feel free to use whatever pasta and seafood your family enjoys.

First, put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook pasta according to box instructions. Also in a small pot, boil (or steam):

1 cup frozen green peas

Next, in a medium saute pan, heat over medium high:

1/4 cup olive oil

When the oil is very hot add:

8-10 sea scallops (dried thoroughly)

Reduce heat to medium and saute on each side for approximately 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of the scallops. Remove from the heat, reduce heat to medium low and stir in:

1/4 to 1/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

Stir to combine the two, the flour should absorb all the oil. Stir while it cooks for 1-2 minutes. Add:

Grated rind of one lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (NOT soy)

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk to combine and continue whisking over low medium heat until the mixture thickens. Stir in the seared scallops and whatever other seafood your family likes. Add cooked pasta and strained peas. Serve immediately.