Spiced Carrot Millet

If you’re looking for something different as a side dish, here’s a tasty way to go. If you haven’t tried millet, or just used it for breakfast, this gives you a great introduction to using it as a savory side dish. Per usual, the recipe is very adjustable – carrot is one way to go but parsnips, butternut squash, or even pea puree would work just as well depending on your family’s tastes. It’s fairly quick, about 30 minutes to prepare, and quite an easy, straightforward recipe. Enjoy something different!

First, in a 12″ skillet over medium heat dry toast:

1 cup whole millet

While the millet is toasting, in a 4-quart saucepan, over medium high heat, bring to a boil:

2 cups stock (I used vegetable stock but use any type you like, or even water, works)

Once millet is toasted (about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally), add it to the boiling stock. Stir to combine, cover and reduce heat to medium low or low, and cook through, about 20 minutes, until water is evaporated and the millet is softened.

While the millet cooks, in a double boiler, steam:

3/4 cup carrots (I used the pre-sliced but any kind will work)

Steam until soft and then blend, using a hand-held immersion blender with:

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin (or 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric)

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

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

In the bowl of a food processor, or using a hand grater, grate:

6-8 baby carrots

You should have about 1/3 to 1/2 cup. Once the millet is cooked, stir in these grated carrots and cover again. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Once the cooked carrots are pureed (you could also use a food processor or stand blender), add to the millet mixture, stirring to combine.

Finish with some avocado oil, vegan butter or margarine; or a squeeze of lemon and/or 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind. Garnish with some cilantro, green onions or chopped carrot top if desired. Serves 8.

Easy Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

I don’t eat a lot of oatmeal since I became diabetic but I do enjoy it now and then. Here’s a twist on the standard bowl of oatmeal or the now in vogue baked oatmeal bowls. This is another instance where you can get creative and use whatever fruit sauce or jam you’d like to flavor the oatmeal such as apple, banana, strawberry, etc. Very easy to make; the food processor does all the work, especially if you buy pre-shredded carrots. And of course, feel free to adjust the spices to your families taste – nutmeg, coriander, etc.

First preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9″ baking pan with parchment paper, overhanging on two sides so that the bars can be lifted out of the pan when cooled. In the bowl of the food processor add:

2 cups rolled oat

Pulse until it’s a coarse texture then add:

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup pitted dates (softer the better so if they are hard, soak in hot water for 5 minutes)

2 tablespoons avocado oil

1 1/2 cups fruit sauce or jam

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 generous teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pulse to combine before adding:

2 cups shredded carrots

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)

Pulse to combine and break down the carrots. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes depending on how your oven runs. Cool in pan before lifting using the overhanging parchment paper and cut into squares. Store in airtight container or in the refrigerator. Can be frozen.

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.

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.

Roasted Turkey Tenderloin with Fingerling Potatoes

Here’s a very easy and quick to put together recipe for dinner. I’m always looking for new recipes for poultry since I eat a lot of it so I was thrilled to find this one that only needed a few small changes. If you can use white wine, use a cup of that in place of one of the cups of chicken stock.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or grease (with olive oil) a 10×13 (or larger) baking dish (with 2″ sides). In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

While the oil heats, coat:

2 turkey tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds)

With about:

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules

1/2 teaspoon garam masala (or whatever herb your family likes)

Sear the turkey on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place in the prepared baking dish. Wash and cut in half lengthwise:

24 ounces fingerling potatoes

Arrange the potatoes around the turkey and sprinkle them with:

1/4 cup chopped scallion (whites only) or shallots

Salt and ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine:

2 cups low sodium chicken stock (or 1 cup stock and 1 cup white wine)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Pour over chicken and potatoes. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until internal temperature of the turkey is at least 160 degrees and the potatoes are tender. Let the turkey rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting. Pour any remaining stock* over the meat before serving. Garnish if desired with:

4 tablespoons cranberry compote (see recipe under sauces/condiments/dressings)

Makes 6 servings.

*I thickened the remaining gravy with some gluten-free all-purpose flour.

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.

Pumpkin Seed Butter

Lots of us are allergic to nuts so use butters made from seeds instead. I know sunflower butter is very popular along with tahini but I prefer pumpkin seed butter. I find, however, the cost to be almost prohibitive – over $20 for 8 ounces or less. Ridiculous price to pay. So I purchased two pounds of raw pepitas at the store, brought them home and roasted them (place on a large cookie sheet and stick in the oven, set it to 425 degrees and when it comes to temperature, turn off the oven and let the seeds sit in there for about 10 minutes) and then proceeded to make my own pumpkin seed butter which came out quite delicious and creamy, with a little bit of crunch. It’s very simple but it does take awhile because the food processor gets too hot so one has to wait about 10 minutes for it to cool down between each 3-5 minute of processing.

Place in a food processor bowl:

3 cups roasted (or raw if you prefer) pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Feel free to add a little sea salt if preferred. Process seeds for about 3-5 minutes or until food processor gets hot. Stop and repeat until nuts are creamy, about 6-7 times, scrapping down the sides of the food processor during every rest period. Place in sealed jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

FYI, the seeds will start off quite grainy, then become crumbly and clump up in one spot before they get creamy. The longer they’re processed, the creamer and smoother the butter becomes.

Salisbury “Steak”

Salisbury steak is basically a hamburger with mushroom gravy. Since I don’t eat beef, I had to change it to ground turkey but since I also wanted to make one last meatloaf before it got too hot, I used a meatloaf mixture to make the “steaks”. If you only need a couple of servings of Salisbury steak, use 1/4 or half the mixture for this dish and bake the remainder in the oven as a meatloaf. Feel free to use whatever ground meat you like, or even pieces of tofu would work. I basically used the recipe I published several weeks ago for turkey burgers with zucchini because they stayed so moist and were so delicious.

In the food processor combine:

1 large onion, cut into quarters

1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then into chunks

1/2 cup carrots

Pulse until shredded. In a large bowl combine the vegetable mixture with:

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound ground pork OR

1 pound mild/sweet Italian sausage (pork or turkey)

Add to the mixture:

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (smoked or sweet)

3 teaspoons ground coriander

3 teaspoons garlic powder or granules

3 teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1/2 cup non-dairy Parmesan cheese (Optional)

Mix to combine (I used my hands, much easier than a spoon!). Using a 1/2 cup measure, scoop out the mixture and form each 1/2 cup into a burger shape (should make 10-12). In a 12″ skillet heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add the burgers and saute them until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness, firm to the touch when cooked). Probably have at least 2 batches, perhaps 3 depending on the size. As they are cooked, remove to a plate. Add to the pan:

12 ounces of sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)

Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. When the mushrooms are cooked add:

2 tablespoons gluten-free, all-purpose flour

Stir or whisk in so the flour absorbs all the oil. Cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes and then add:

1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or bone broth)

1/2 cup dairy-free milk (anything but soy), unsweetened

Salt and pepper to taste

If you are cooking all the mixture as Salisbury steak, you may need to increase the oil, flour, and liquid to make additional gravy. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the patties back into the sauce to reheat before serving. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta.

I know, more brown food! Just can’t seem to stay away from it. But it really was so delicious!

Quick and Easy Air-Fried Zucchini Strips

I do love zucchini, it’s one of my go to vegetables. It’s delicious and versatile. This recipe is so easy to make (if you have a mandoline) but not difficult if you don’t, just slice the zucchini as thin as possible with a knife. Makes 2 servings.

Wash and trim off the stem from:

10-12 baby zucchini*

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice lengthwise into strips, discarding the skin slices (unless you manage to find organic baby zucchini!). Place strips into a medium bowl and toss them with:

1 tablespoon vinegar (whatever your family likes)

Spray the air fryer tray with non-stick spray and place the strips in one layer into the tray (took me 2 batches to cook them all). Place in the air fryer at 375 degrees. If you don’t have an air fryer oven, cook in your regular oven at 375 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, turning once. Cook for 5-6 minutes before turning them over and cooking until they begin to get crisp, another 2-3 minutes. If they start to get too brown, remove them or they will taste bitter. Salt and season however you like – i.e., garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, coriander, etc.

*If you have a Trader Joes near you, they sell packages of baby zucchini. I used one package.

Easy and Quick Vegan French Toast

I’ve posted a number of recipes on my blog for pancakes but in reality, I much prefer French toast to pancakes. Difficult to find a pre-made or even a workable recipe for gluten and egg-free bread. I’ve found one that I’ll post next on the blog but in the meantime, if you already have a delicious bread, here’s a way to make it into French toast without the egg. Takes only a few minutes to put together and cook, a few more if you want to bake it rather than fry.

In a shallow bowl (like a soup plate) combine:

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tablespoon ground flax (or chia would work also)

Let sit for about five minutes so that the flax slightly thickens the milk. Add:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or other spice that you like such as nutmeg, allspice, etc.)

Whisk to combine. In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon oil

As the oil gets hot, soak slices of:

gluten-free, egg-free bread, 4-5 thicker slices

In the milk mixture, being sure to turn them after about 10 seconds in the milk mixture. Add to the skillet as you take them out of the milk. Cook for about 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Sprinkle with date sugar or top with syrup – maple, agave, date, coconut, etc. Makes 2 servings.