Braised Cabbage (dairy-free, gluten-free)

My mother loved braised cabbage; this was her go-to winter vegetable when she was tired of peas, carrots, green beans or corn.  She always used red cabbage but any cabbage will work.  The onion adds a little tang and the bacon a smoky flavor.  I add pear; my mother always used apple.  Either will add some sweetness to the dish and, when combined with the fat from the olive oil and bacon, give it a full-bodied richness.  Prepare the onion, bacon, and cabbage ahead of time and this takes around 15 minutes to cook.  And it can be a vegan dish if you leave out the bacon.  Makes 4 servings using a 3-4 inch cabbage.

In a large saute pan, add:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped uncooked bacon (whatever bacon your family likes works fine) — IF your bacon is very fatty, don’t use the olive oil

Cook until bacon is browned.  If you have more than a couple of tablespoons of fat in the pan, drain some off. Add to the pan:

  • 1 cup chopped onion

Cook until onion is softened.  Add:

  • 4-5 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (any vinegar works but if white is used, a little less vinegar would probably be good unless your family really loves the taste of vinegar)

Cover and braise 5-7 minutes until cabbage is softened, stir once or twice during cooking.

Add 1 diced apple or pear and cook another minute or two until fruit is soft (the apple may take a few minutes more than the pear).  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.  Add salt and pepper to taste, stir well, and serve.

You can also add 1 tablespoon caraway seeds.

Baked Beans (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, fat-free, vegan)

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.

Soak overnight:

  • 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.

Clam Chowder (dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free)

Growing up in New England, chowder was part of everyone’s diet.  Fish chowder, seafood chowder, corn chowder, clam chowder, didn’t make any difference.  Several times a month we ate chowder (pronounced chow-dah for those of you not from New England).  This recipe can be altered to make any of these very easily, just substitute corn (and chicken for protein) for the clams; or add some crab and/or lobster and shrimp; or put in some white fish, usually cod.  Recipe makes enough for 4 appetizer servings or 2 entrée servings.

You’ll need:

  • 1 medium to large sweet potato, peeled, diced and cooked (if you prefer, you can use russet potato instead)
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas (I usually add them to the pot with the sweet potatoes)
  • 1/2 medium onion, sautéed until soft
  • 2-3 slices of bacon, cooked and diced (I use uncured turkey bacon but feel free to use whatever bacon your family likes)
  • 1 can of diced or chopped clams (6-8 ounces) OR 1 pound of fresh clams steamed, cleaned and diced (be sure to save 1/4 cup of the steaming liquid to add to the chowder)
  • 2 cups of rice milk (you could use any milk you like but rice is the mildest and in chowder, you don’t want a milk that interferes with the taste of the clams)
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice flour made into a slurry with 1/2 cup of the rice milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

After you cook the sweet potatoes and peas, drain and put back into the pot.  Add the onion, clams (don’t drain them but add the juice as well as the clams), and the milk to the pot.  Bring to a boil and add the slurry of brown rice flour and stir until the chowder starts to thicken.  We don’t want it really thick, just enough to get a good “mouth feel” when you eat the chowder.  Add the bacon and serve.  You can garnish it with diced scallion or chives if you like.  My mother always served chowder with oyster crackers but those are also optional.  Its so thick and hearty that you really don’t need crackers with this chowder.

BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado and Tomato)Burger (dairy-free, gluten-free)

This is one of my favorites.   I eat one of these sandwiches for lunch nearly every week.  Easy to make and delicious.  The creaminess of the avocado with the acidity of the tomato and crunch of the bacon and lettuce makes it well worth the calories.  I served mine with a side of 4 Bean Salad.

You’ll need:

  • Gluten-free bread or roll
  • 3 slices of tomato
  • 2-3 pieces of lettuce
  • 2-3 slices of cooked bacon (I use the turkey bacon)
  • 1 burger patty (mine is turkey which I make thin so it cooks very quickly but I have to be very careful not to overcook it)
  • 1 slice of non-dairy cheese (if you want a cheeseburger)
  • ketchup or mayo depending on your taste

While the burger and bacon are cooking, toast the bread if you want or warm the roll.  I start with the avocado, then the tomato slices, then the lettuce, bacon, and finally the burger.  I put the ketchup or mayo on the second slice of bread and there you have it.  Very easy, yet so tasty.

Turkey Bacon wrapped Dates with Sausage (dairy-free, gluten-free)

This is a very quick, delicious appetizer.  These take minutes to make and after you either broil them in the oven, or air fry, the dates get slightly gooey and just envelope the sausage.  The bacon gets crispy which adds the crunch needed to make this the perfect appetizer.  And its very easy to increase or decrease to fit your needs.

You’ll need:

  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 5 slices of turkey bacon, cut in half (or any pork bacon)
  • 1 turkey Italian sausage (or any kind of sausage you like but it should be a little spicy), cooked and cut lengthwise into 5 pieces and then each piece cut in half to fit into the dates.  If you want more sausage in your dates, simply cook a second sausage and cut in bigger pieces.  I cut mine to fit snuggly into the date.
  • 10 toothpicks soaked in water

Slice open each date (remove seed if not pitted).  Insert a piece of the sausage and then wrap with the bacon.  Insert a toothpick so that it holds the ends of the bacon together.  Place each on a greased cookie sheet if you are going to broil them, or onto your air fry tray with the outside edge of the bacon facing downward.  Broil or air fry for 5-7 minutes then turn over and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Potato Salad 2 Ways (dairy-free, egg-free)

German style Potato salad.  I like to use the small multi-color potatoes because they make the salad more interesting.  And you don’t have to peel them, just cut them into quarters and cook.  For this recipe,

  • Use a half-pound of these potatoes.
  • While they cook, dice up a couple of stalks of celery and some scallion (I use scallion instead of onion because it adds the flavor of onion but doesn’t give me the digestive issues that raw onions give me).
  • Cook 2-3 slices of bacon, chopped.
  • If you don’t have a vinaigrette already made, mix up one of your favorites or use a bottled vinaigrette.
  • Put about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette in a medium sized bowl, add the celery and scallion along with the crumbled bacon.
  • When the potatoes are cooked. drain and put them directly into the mixture.  Adding them when they are hot helps the potatoes absorb the dressing.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • You can serve this hot but I prefer to let it sit overnight and let the flavors meld. I often leave the bacon bits out until I’m ready to serve this so that they stay crispy.
  • Makes 2-3 servings.

Traditional Potato Salad.

One of my favorite parts of the potato salad my mother made was the hard boiled eggs.  Since I can’t eat eggs any longer, I simply

  • mix together cooked potatoes (1/2 pound of the small potatoes and perhaps, if I’m feeling like it, a diced small sweet potato),
  • diced celery and scallions, along with some crumbled bacon.  Dressing consists of:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (see my recipe for vegan mayonnaise under dressings)
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of my favorite herb blend (McCormicks or Mrs. Dash)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

If you can still eat eggs, by all means add 1-2 diced hard-boiled eggs.  This makes 2-3 servings.