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.

Chicken with Eggplant and Zucchini

My search for tasty and easy chicken recipes has landed another one! This one doesn’t come from the Chicken Bible but is a combination of a recipe I found on-line and what I had in my refrigerator. Once everything is peeled and diced, including the chicken, it’s so simple to put together. Planning ahead is necessary with this recipe however since the chicken must be marinated for at least an hour in the refrigerator after dicing.

First, mix together the marinade in a gallon storage bag or large bowl:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Then dice up:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

Add to the marinade, and after closing the bag, swish around the chicken to make sure it’s completely covered in the marinade. If you want a stronger lemon flavor, add:

Grated rind of 1 lemon

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the vegetables:

4-6 small cipollini onions, peeled and quartered*

1 medium zucchini, washed and diced

1 pound eggplant (any type will work, I used 4 small graffiti eggplants), peeled and diced

1 clove garlic (about 1 1/2-2 teaspoons minced)

When the chicken is almost ready, heat a 10″ skillet over medium heat with:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is hot, add:

onions and garlic

Cook for 2-3 minutes just until the onions turn translucent. Then add the:

Zucchini

Eggplant

And cook another 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Put the skillet back over the heat and add the:

Marinade and chicken mixture

Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until chicken is cooked through and sauce is beginning to reduce. Stir the vegetables back into the skillet and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

*Don’t have cipollini onions and your local supermarket doesn’t carry them? They are small and slightly sweet becoming much sweeter after cooking. So feel free to use a different sweet onion in their place but cut smaller.

Lemon Sauce for desserts

Another easy quick sauce.

In a small saucepan combine:

1/2 cup date sugar (agave nectar, honey, or use 1/2 teaspoon monk fruit powder)

2 tablespoons arrowroot

3/4 cup water

zest and juice (1/4 cup) of 1 lemon

Whisk over medium high heat until thickens, about 3-5 minutes. If a richer taste is desired, when thickened, whisk in:

2 tablespoons avocado oil (or vegan butter or margarine)

Serve warm.

Plum Pie with Oatmeal Crust

I’m always looking for ways to make desserts that don’t contain lot of sugar and/or simple carbs. So when I found a recipe for an oatmeal pie crust, the thought hit me that this would be an interesting concept to investigate. Having more plums on hand than I could eat that were ripening rapidly, I thought it would be a tasty combination and indeed it turned out to be just that. If you’d like to make a crumb crust for the top as well, increase the crust recipe by 50%.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl combine:

1 cup rolled gluten-free oats

1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (just brown rice, sorghum, oat, etc., would also work)

1/3 cup date sugar*

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup avocado oil (or melted vegan butter or margarine)

Stir until it forms a crumbly texture. Press firmly in the bottom of a 9″ pie plate. Cover with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until crust is browned. Let cool while the plums are prepared.

In a medium bowl combine:

3-4 cups (depending on how full you like your pie) diced plums (skins on is fine as long as they’re organic)

1/4 cup date sugar*

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour

2 tablespoons avocado oil (or melted vegan butter or margarine)

zest of 1 small lemon and juice from 1/2 the lemon

Stir to combine ingredients before spooning into the pie crust. If desired, cover with more crust mixture before baking for 45-60 minutes (depending on how full the pie is). Cool completely before cutting. Serve with a non-dairy whipped topping or, vanilla or lemon sauce (see recipes under sauces).

*To lower the glycemic index value of the dessert even more, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of monk fruit powder in the plums and 1/3 teaspoon in the crust. If you choose this alternative, start with 1/4 cup of oil and add by tablespoons until the mixture is a crumbly consistency.

Cucumber Boats

It’s getting very hot here in Minnesota, will hit the mid-90s this coming week. I wanted an easy, lighter meal and had seen cucumber boats on-line stuffed with tuna salad. These work best with regular cucumbers but I generally buy either the English or the mini cukes so that’s what I used. If you also use the mini cucumbers, pulse the salad in the food processor for a few seconds to grind it up. It fits in the smaller boats much better that way. Any kind of salad will do – I made some curried chicken salad but tuna would also work.

First thing, prepare the salad:

1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed from the bones and pulsed in the food processor for a few seconds

4 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 to 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (or walnuts if not allergic)

Mix the dressing in a separate bowl:

1 to 2 tablespoons green curry paste

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup vegan mayonnaise (if not allergic to eggs, feel free to use any mayonnaise)

2 teaspoons mustard

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon sriracha (optional)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 cup dill pickle relish (optional)

Pour the dressing over the chicken mixture and stir to incorporate. Salad is ready. Next, peel and cut lengthwise:

12 mini cucumbers (probably 2 regular sized cucumbers)

Using a small spoon, remove the seeds to create the “boats”. Fill with the salad and serve. May be garnished with sliced scallions, chopped chives or chopped parsley.

Vegan Carrot Spice Cake

I’m updating this recipe. Just spoke with my son and daughter-in-law who said it was good but it wasn’t sweet enough! I admit, I don’t like my desserts as sweet as most people so I’ll adjust the recipe so that those of you who want a sweeter cake can still use this recipe.

I love carrot cake but I love my carrot cake to be more like a spice cake with some carrots in it. So unlike most carrot cakes, I add more spices. If you don’t, feel free to stop with the cinnamon. I was easily able to divide this cake into two bowls and mix some ground walnuts into one bowl (for my son and his family) and some chopped dates and pumpkin seeds into the other for me. This cake only takes one bowl and is fairly easy to mix even for me with 2 rotator cuff tears.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2, 8″ baking pans (I used one square and one round so that I knew which was which!). In a medium-large bowl, combine:

3 tablespoons ground flax

7 tablespoons warm water (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon)

Whisk to combine and then let sit for 5 minutes or so to form flax gel. When ready add to it:

1/3 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

Whisk or stir to combine and then add:

1 scant cup unsweetened fruit sauce (apple, pear, peach, oh pineapple would be good) [I actually only had 7/8 of a cup and it worked fine]

1/2 to 1 cup date sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Stir or whisk to combine. Add:

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

Stir or whisk to combine (by now the whisk will be having a difficult time so use a hand mixer if necessary). Add:

1 cup grated carrots

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

1 cup oat flour

Stir to combine adding another 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk if necessary. Stir in:

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, feel free to mix it up using chopped pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and/or dates, chopped raisins, cranberries, or dried pineapple also work (Optional)

Spoon the batter equally between the two pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (I would actually bake it about 5 minutes more after the toothpick comes out clean). Don’t worry if it’s slightly overbaked since gluten-free baked goods take longer to cook than regular ones, it still comes out fine.

Remove from oven and let cool, on a cooling rack, for 15-20 minutes before removing from pan. Let cool completely before frosting or serving. For faster cooling, place in the refrigerator for about a half hour. Serves 8-12.

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

1 large or 2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Vegan “Cream Cheese” Frosting

One just has to have cream cheese frosting on carrot cake! I’ve tried several nut-free, tofu-free recipes for vegan cream cheese and none of them worked very well until I found this one, delicious! Of course, if you don’t care for sweet potatoes, it may not be your cup of tea. It uses white flesh sweet potatoes which are starchier and not as sweet as the ones we’re used to here in the U.S. They can be called Japanese, Hannah, or Batata.

Wash, peel and dice:

2 medium-sized white flesh sweet potatoes

Since we don’t want to add any liquid to the sweet potatoes, it’s very important that they are steamed rather than boiled. Steam until fork tender. Place in a small to medium bowl. Using a potato masher, mash and then measure out 2 cups.

Transfer the 2 cups to another medium bowl (or the same one if it used all the mashed potatoes). Add:

1/3 cup avocado oil (coconut would also work)

Juice from one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/8 teaspoon salt

There’s the basic recipe for vegan “cream cheese”. To make it into frosting, whip in using a hand mixer:

1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc. (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Will frost two layers of a naked cake (no frosting on the sides).

Chicken and Rice with Caramelized Onions and Cranberries

This recipe is quite involved and takes some time but it’s not a difficult dish to make. And to be sure, every minute spent on this is well worth the effort! The herbs and spices used amp up the flavor profile and adding some freshly grated lemon zest and lemon juice at the end takes it over the edge! Rather than adding the lemon juice at the end, some sliced lemons on the side would also work.

First, peel, cut in half and then thinly slice:

2-3 medium-sized sweet onions

If you don’t have sweet onions, add 1 teaspoon date sugar when you cook them. Let them sit while heating a medium-sized Dutch oven over medium heat with:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When the oil is shimmering add:

1 1/2 to 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or boneless, skinless chicken breasts

that are seasoned with:

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

If using skin-on, bone-in thighs, cook skin side down. Loosely arrange chicken in pan (may take more than one batch). Brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes. Remove to a plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the pan before adding the onion slices. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently until well caramelized (browned). If not using sweet onions, here’s where to add the:

1 teaspoon date sugar

It can take 25-30 minutes to caramelize the onions because they need to cook slowly so that they don’t burn, we want them browned – caramelized, not burned. Once the onions are ready, add to the pot:

4 garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons minced garlic)

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (or cardamom, nutmeg, or allspice)

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

Sauté for about 30 seconds until the herbs and spices are fragrant before adding:

6 ounces sliced mushrooms (Optional, peas would also work)

2 cups chicken stock or bone broth

the browned chicken pieces and any juices on the plate

If using skin-on thighs, be sure the browned side is up. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add to the pot:

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice*

1/3 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries but raisins or dried cherries would also work)

Stir in the rice and fruit, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until rice is tender and chicken is cooked. Most of the liquid should be gone from the pot so be careful not to burn the dish. Remove the chicken from the pot, moving the pot off the heat and re-cover so that it stays hot. Remove skin if using skin-on chicken and let sit for 8-10 minutes before slicing the meat (and removing the bones if using bone-in chicken). Add the chicken back into the pot along with:

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon juice

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley (Optional)

Stir to combine. Reheat until the chicken is heated through and serve. Serves 4-6.

*I used pre-cooked brown rice in my dish so I cooked the chicken 30 minutes before adding the frozen rice and then cooked it only an additional 10 minutes.

Since I don’t care for cilantro and don’t think much of parsley either, I sprinkled some green onions on top of my dish.

Easy Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

The Chicken Bible strikes again! I had a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and wondered, what am I going to do with these? So out came the Chicken Bible and this recipe struck my fancy. I love fried foods but don’t make them often because of the mess, all that fat and because they are especially unhealthy for diabetes. Nothing shoots up glucose levels more than fried foods. We’ve all got to indulge in something sinful now and again so I thought I’d give it a try. Turned out very easy to make, the only part I didn’t like was, of course, cleaning up after frying. If you have a deep frier use it instead of a skillet on the stovetop! Makes 2-3 servings.

First, make the marinade by combining in a medium bowl:

1/4 cup soy sauce substitute

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons date syrup

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Whisk to combine before adding:

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds (6-8) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed off and cut into 1″ wide strips*

Stir to combine chicken with the marinade. Let sit on the counter for about 30 minutes. While the chicken marinates, prepare the pans needed as well as the dredge. So, line two medium baking sheets with parchment paper, set one aside and place a drying rack on top of the second and place 2-3 layers of paper towels on top of the drying rack. Set aside. In a pie plate or large soup plate, place:

1 cup tapioca starch (cassaba flour, corn starch if you can have it, potato starch, or arrowroot would also wok)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk to combine and set aside until chicken is ready. When the chicken is done marinating, using tongs, pull out all the chicken from the marinade, letting any excess drip back into the bowl and place it in the tapioca starch mixture. Using your hands, coat each piece individually and place on the first baking sheet (the one with just the parchment paper), being sure to knock off any excess starch. Repeat until all the pieces are coated. Set aside the marinade for later use.

Next, in a 12″ skillet with high sides or a small Dutch oven, heat 2-3 inches of:

Oil (I used a mixture of olive and avocado but feel free to use your normal oil)

Be sure to also use a thermometer so that you can heat the oil to 375 degrees and keep it between 350 and 375 while cooking the chicken. While the oil heats, look over the chicken. If there is still patches of white starch, using a cooking brush (or spoon) brush with the marinade to moisten.

When the oil is to temperature, using the tongs, place individual pieces of chicken into the oil from back to front (place them in the oil away from you then towards you). Don’t overcrowd the oil. It took three batches to cook all my chicken. Cook about 4-6 minutes depending on thickness, turning over once. Place on the second baking sheet (the one with the paper towels) using either the tongs or a slotted spoon. Salt lightly as you remove them from the oil. Serve the chicken with lemon wedges – don’t squeeze the lemon on them until you serve them or they’ll get soggy! I served mine with some air fried zucchini squash slices – delicious. See recipe under side dishes.

*With the thigh skin side up (that’s the side that has the film over it), long side towards you, slice crosswise into 1″ strips. You should get about 4 slices per thigh. Don’t worry if some come out in triangles, cubes, etc., since some pieces will come off the main parts of the thighs.

More brown food! Can’t seem to get away from it.

Spicy Curried Carrot Soup

Quick, easy, and delicious, this soup with warm your stomach. It has that comfort food vibe with great flavor. Using pre-shredded carrots is what makes it so easy. Either regular orange carrots or rainbow carrot shreds will work. Add some lemon zest on top and a lemon wedge on the plate to add some freshness and lighten the spiciness of the soup. Serves 2 but easily doubled.

Put a 4-quart pot on over medium heat and add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat until shimmering before adding:

1 small onion, finely diced

Cook the onion until translucent and then add:

1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder (depending on how spicy you want the soup)

Stir the curry powder into the onion and heat until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add:

2 cups shredded carrot

Stir to coat the carrots in the onion and curry mixture before adding to the pot:

1 to 1 1/2 cups stock (I used chicken bone broth but a mild vegetable broth would also work and keep this soup vegan; want to cover the carrots completely but not drown them)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (to taste)

Cook over medium low heat until carrot is softened, about 20-25 minutes, covered. Put the carrot mixture into a blender and add:

1/2 to 1 cup oat milk

Start with the 1/2 cup and add more if the mixture needs to be thinned to your taste. If the carrot mixture is really hot, cover the top of the blender with a kitchen towel and don’t fill it more than 1/2 full or you’ll have an explosion of hot soup all over your counter! Start blending on the lowest speed and as it purees, increase slightly. Should only take 30-45 seconds to blend. Serve with lemon zest and a wedge of lemon on the side. Serving it on the side allows the person eating that bowl to add as little or much of the lemon as they like. [I learned this trick from a Vietnamese chef and it really does mellow out the curry.]