Italian Millet

Millet is my newest favorite grain. It’s so simple to cook and it takes on other flavors so easily just as rice does. But unlike most rice dishes, millet is lower in simple carbs and higher in complex carbs so a great alternative to those watching their blood sugar levels. Here’s a really easy recipe that incorporates some of the great Italian flavors we all enjoy – sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, onion and garlic. This is definitely NOT a low-fat side dish! I used vegetable stock rather than a meat stock because most vegetable stocks have a nice mushroom flavor which adds umami to the dish. Be sure to use sun-dried tomatoes in oil because some of that oil will be used in cooking the dish.

First, cook per package directions (except using stock instead of water):

1/2 cup millet

in 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Generally, this means toasting the whole millet in a little oil and then adding it to the boiling stock, covering and cooking on low heat for 30-40 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the millet is soft. I like to take it off the heat at this point, leave the cover for a few minutes and then fluff the millet with a fork.

In the same skillet, heat until shimmering:

2 tablespoon olive oil (from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes)

Add and cook until tender, over medium heat:

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup shredded carrots* (optional)

When the onion is translucent, add:

1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes

2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1 teaspoon cumin (or turmeric)

2 teaspoons Italian herb mix (or dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, and basil)

Mix thoroughly so that the onion mixture is covered with the herbs. Continue cooking until the tomatoes and garlic are heated through, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cooked millet. If the millet is cold, continue to cook over medium low heat for 3-4 minutes to reheat the millet. Serves 4.

*I like a lot of vegetables in my grains so I added a cup of shredded carrots with the onions.

Easy Roasted Turkey Breast

Turkey is easy to overcook producing a dry, not very appetizing meat. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, I would suggest you invest in one. It makes cooking meats, especially poultry, much easier.

Turkey can also be rather bland so it needs help to bring out the flavor. This recipe combines a number of herbs to do just that. If you have time, rub the turkey breast, under the skin as well as on the skin, with the herb rub and then refrigerate for several hours.

Watch the turkey breast carefully while baking and take the internal temperature often after about 50 minutes so that it doesn’t get above 160 on the meat thermometer. This is meant for 2 people but the breast can serve up to 4, just increase the vegetables. As with many of my recipes, feel free to change out the herbs to suit your family’s taste as well as the vegetables – any root vegetables will work in this recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking dish a little larger than the turkey breast and spray with non-stick cooking spray or coat with a non-dairy margarine. In a medium bowl combine:

1 large onion, sliced

5-6 celery stalks (I used celery hearts so if you have whole celery, reduce this number), cut into large pieces

12-15 baby rainbow carrots, exclude the orange ones

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into medium-sized cubes*

2 tablespoons olive oil

If some of the baby carrots are on the larger size, cut them in quarters so all the vegetables will cook evenly. Mix the vegetables together to coat them with oil. In a small dish combine:

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dried sage

Mix the herbs together to combine. Add about 1/4 of the herb mixture to the vegetables and mix once again. Pour the vegetables into the prepared baking dish. Using paper towels, dry thoroughly:

2 1/2 to 3 pound turkey breast (this is a half breast)

Pull up the turkey skin and sprinkle the flesh with the herb mixture, reserving some for the other side. Rub into the flesh and then fold back the skin onto the meat and sprinkle a little more herb on the skin. Place the breast on top of the vegetables skin side down and sprinkle the remaining herb mixture on the bottom of the breast, rubbing it in. Flip the turkey breast so that the skin side is up. Roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 160 degrees.** Remove from the oven and place the turkey on a serving platter, loosely cover with foil and let rest for about 10-15 minutes.

Spoon the roasted vegetables into a serving bowl.*** When the breast is rested, cut and serve. If desired, pan gravy can be made with the fat in the pan by adding gluten-free, all-purpose flour until all the oil is absorbed (probably about 2 tablespoons) and then cook the flour for several minutes over medium heat before adding approximately 1 cup of chicken (or turkey) stock for each tablespoon of flour used. Or, for fat free gravy, heat 1 1/2 cups of chicken (or turkey) stock over medium high heat. Whisk 2 tablespoons of gluten-free all-purpose flour into another 1/2 cup of cold chicken stock and whisk into the stock on the stove. Whisk constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.

*If your family doesn’t like sweet potatoes, simply add the orange carrots and perhaps some cubes of red-skin or Yukon gold potatoes.

**FYI, my turkey breast was 2.8 pounds and I cooked it for 1 hour and 20 minutes before it reached 160 degrees. Remember it will continue to cook when removed from the oven and covered with foil.

***The carrots weren’t cooked when I removed the turkey so I increased the oven temperature to 425 degrees and cooked the vegetables for about 20 minutes more. This not only cooked the carrots but it also browned the sweet potatoes making them a little crunchy.

Easy Roast Pork with Mustard Gravy

I found this recipe and thought it sounded interesting. Not too many changes were required to make it fit our needs. Use either a small boneless pork roast or a large pork loin (about 2 pounds) and for a quick and easy meal, instead of peeling and cutting up large carrots, use one bag of either regular or rainbow baby carrots. All together, this recipe takes just about an hour, 10-15 minutes prep time and about 40 minutes baking. Feel free to change out the herb used on the roasted carrots if your family prefers something else – thyme, oregano, tarragon or rosemary will all work. Same with the carrots – parsnips, sweet potato, cubes of winter squash, any vegetable you can roast would work.

First, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Next, pour into baking pan, with 1 to 2 inch sides:

12 ounces to 1 pound of baby carrots

4 or 5 small to medium shallots, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

Sprinkle the carrots and shallots with:

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix up the carrots and shallots with the oil and herbs to combine making sure all the carrots have some oil on them. Put into the preheated oven and cook for approximately 10 minutes. While the veggies are beginning to roast, heat in a 10″ skillet:

1 tablespoon olive oil

While the oil heats, season with salt and pepper:

1 1/2 to 2 pound pork loin or boneless pork roast

Sear off all sides of the pork in the hot oil, about 2 minutes per side which takes about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the pan from the oven, push the carrots and shallots aside to make space in the middle of the pan for the pork. Return to the oven and cook for approximately 30-40 minutes until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145-150 degrees. Take out of the oven and place the pork and vegetables on a plate, loosely over with foil or parchment paper to keep warm while the gravy is made.

To make the gravy, pour the oil from the skillet into the roasting pan and add:

1 to 2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour

Over medium heat whisk to combine with the fat. All the fat should be absorbed by the flour. Cook the flour for about a minute before adding:

1 cup chicken stock (or pork stock if you can find it)

If you used more than 1 tablespoon flour, you’ll need to add additional stock to the baking pan. Let simmer, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes until thickened. Whisk in:

1 tablespoon mustard, whatever kind your family prefers

When the gravy is ready, slice the pork roast or loin and serve with the carrots, gravy and either mashed potatoes or rice. Serves 2-4 depending on the size of the pork.

Easy Turkey Alfredo Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Alfredo sauce is one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten and it’s so easy to make. I know there are a lot of steps but it’s a very easy process, none of the steps (except maybe cutting the spaghetti squash in half! are difficult). I blogged Chicken Alfredo several years ago so just used that basic recipe for the sauce. I’ve taken out the fresh parsley because I now can’t eat it and stuffed it into a spaghetti squash which reduces the simple carbs and calories. Don’t care for spaghetti squash? No problem, just mix it up and use it as a sauce for your favorite pasta. Delicious! Enjoy.

First thing is to cook the spaghetti squash. Cut a small to medium sized one in half, scrap out the seeds (if you have a sugar spoon [with ruffled edge] it works great for this), and coat the flesh with:

1 tablespoon olive oil or olive oil spray

Place skin side down in a baking dish, add just about a 1/2 inch of water to the pan and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for approximately 30-40 minutes depending on the size of your squash. I know, I know, most on-line recipes say to cook a spaghetti squash for 20-30 minutes. I find when I cook it for that short a time, it tends to be wetter producing more mash and fewer spaghetti strands.

While the squash cooks, make some thick rice milk but blending:

1 cup water

1/3 cup cooked rice (brown or white makes no difference)

Then make the alfredo sauce. Over medium heat, heat:

1/4 cup avocado oil

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

Be sure the heat isn’t too high, we don’t want to burn the minced garlic which will burn very quickly. When the oil starts to sizzle, add:

1 cup thick rice milk (that you just made above)

1/2 cup non-dairy cream cheese

Whisk to combine which takes a moment since the oil must also be incorporated. I thought about reducing the oil to 1 tablespoon (which you should feel free to do if you’re on a low-fat diet) but it does reduce the richness of the dish slightly. Next whisk in:

1/4-1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend (or oregano, thyme and marjoram)

Whisk constantly until cheese melts. Take off the heat. In a 12″ high sided skillet, over medium high heat, heat until shimmering:

1 tablespoon olive oil (or spray the pan with cooking spray if low fat desired)

When the oil (pan) is hot, add:

1 pound ground turkey

Salt, pepper and garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper)

Don’t oversalt because the parmesan in the sauce is also salty. Cook, breaking up the turkey into large chunks until cooked but not browned (or it will get too dry). Remove from the heat. Next using a fork, scrap the inside of the cooled spaghetti squash to produce spaghetti-like strands. Try to get as much of the squash out of the shell as possible without breaking or cracking the shell (I did have a large crack in one half and a small in the other and they were still useable). Put the squash into the ground turkey skillet and top with the sauce. Mix to combine. Place the squash shells in a sprayed baking dish and spoon in the turkey/squash/sauce mixture until well filled. Garnish with more parmesan and/or fresh parsley and bake for 15-30 minutes until bubbling. Time will depend on the size of your squash.