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.]

Plum Salsa

Here’s a quick and easy way to kick up your grilled pork chop or chicken breast. Takes a couple of minutes to put together and will liven up your grilled meat.

In a medium, 3 cup bowl, combine:

1 large plum (or 2 smaller ones), diced

2 tablespoons minced red onion

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (or 1 teaspoon dried)*

juice from 1 lime

dash of hot sauce (to taste)

dash of sea salt

Makes 2 servings. Feel free to substitute other fruits such as nectarines, peaches, or pears.

*I hate cilantro. When I hear chefs on TV say, “Who doesn’t like cilantro?” I always want to scream, “Me, Me, I hate cilantro.” So I used dried parsley instead.

Hearty Pork Stew

I cooked a pork roast the other day and we only ate half of it so today I cut it up intending to make a hash with some sweet potato, onions and carrots. After I cooked the roast, I left the roasting pan out and it was cold when I decided to make some gravy to go with the rest of the roast when I reheated it. Threw in some cold chicken stock and all the fat congealed and I was able to spoon it out of the pan before I put it on the heat to get all the sticky parts off the bottom of the pan – made such a delicious gravy! So my hash turned into a stew, rich, succulent and soul warming on this single digit day in Minnesota! Let it be 9 degrees outside, I’m toasty warm in here with this stew in me.

In a high sided skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When shimmering add:

1 small onion diced

1/2 cup shredded or chopped carrots

1 cup frozen peas

Stir to combine and cover. Cook over medium low heat until onions are sweated and carrots are softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add:

2 cups sweet potato (or white if preferred), diced and cooked

2 cups diced cooked pork

1 medium pear, cored and diced

Again, stir to combine, cover and heat until the pear is softened and pork and potatoes are reheated, about 3-4 minutes. Add:

2 cups gravy (see recipe for gluten-free gravy under sauces)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6. Some crusty bread would be great with it to mop up the gravy!

Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

I know, you don’t have to say it! Another chicken recipe. This one can be fairly quick and easy. It’s a chicken stew with mashed potatoes (or in my case, mashed celery root and parsnips) on top with a few French-fried onions on top, baked for an hour (less if the stew is already hot). Again, like many of my recipes, feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand that your family prefers.

Grease or spray a casserole dish large enough to hold the stew and toppings. This will depend on the amount you need for your family, for me, I made a 4-serving size so used a 2-quart casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet over medium heat, add:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering hot add:

12 ounces of chicken breast, cut into bite-size chunks

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the chicken turning after about 2 minutes to brown on the other side(s). When chicken is fully browned, but not necessarily fully cooked, remove from the skillet and add to the skillet:

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup carrot slices

1/2 cup green beans

1/2 cup peas

1 teaspoon dried thyme (or parsley, or herb of choice [I really like sage in my chicken dishes]).

Sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are transparent, reduce the heat and cover for 5 minutes or until the green beans and carrots are tender. Remove the vegetables from the pan. Whisk into the remaining fat:

2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour or enough to absorb all the fat in the pan

Cook the flour for several minutes and then add:

3/4 cup chicken stock

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

Whisk to combine with the flour and get out the lumps and then stir frequently until gravy comes to a bowl and thickens. If it’s too thick, add a little more stock or milk. If it’s too thin, make a slurry of another tablespoon of flour and a little milk and add to the gravy.

Mix in the chicken and vegetables. Top the casserole with:

2 cups mashed potato (or 2 cups celery root puree (see recipe under side dishes)

Sprinkle the top with French-fried onions or paprika. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-60 minutes depending on if you bake it immediately or put it together to bake later as I did.

Chickpea Frozen Dessert

I love chickpea brownies and carob chip cookies but it never occurred to me to use them in a frozen “ice cream” until I saw a recipe on Pinterest. I’ve had to adapt it slightly to omit the nut butter and chocolate but it is very delicious, lusciously smooth and creamy. I added some carob powder but flavor it any way you like – some strong coffee in place of half the non-dairy milk, carob chips, or using various seed or nut butters will add various flavors. Also, using various extracts or oils could add different flavors, instead of vanilla extract, use some mint, orange, lemon, or even butterscotch flavored extracts.

In the bowl of a blender place:

1 15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained

1/2 cup dates (I used chopped but if using whole dates, be sure to soak them if they’re dried so that they will break down in the blender)

1/4 cup seed butter – tahini, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, etc.

1/3 cup protein powder (any kind or flavor)

1/4 cup carob powder

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend until the dates are broken down and the mixture is smooth. If one is available, put mixture into an ice cream freezer for 30-40 minutes and then transfer to individual serving dishes to freeze or eat immediately. If an ice cream freezer isn’t available, transfer to individual serving dishes and freeze for 1-2 hours or until you want to eat it!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Onions

My grandson loves Brussel sprouts so for Christmas this year instead of simply steaming them, I decided to try something different. Quite an easy dish to make, these roasted sprouts get quite crunchy which only adds to the delicious combination of sprouts and bacon! I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo before we ate them all.

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

1-1 1/2 pounds Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 small to medium red onions, peeled and cut into good sized pieces

1 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Toss to coat all the sprouts. TIP: I generally toss the sprouts before adding the olive oil. Spread mixture out onto large baking sheet in a single layer. TIP: I like to make sure all the sprouts are cut side down so they get extra crispy. Cut into thin strips:

1/2 pound bacon

Sprinkle the bacon strips over the Brussel sprouts and bake for 30-35 minutes until bacon is cooked and the sprouts are nicely browned. The onions will also be nicely caramelized. Serves 4-6. Serve warm.

Carob Pudding

This is a very quick and easy pudding to make and tastes creamy and rich just like one made with milk and cream. I garnished mine with roasted pumpkin seeds but if you can have one of the plant based whipped creams, that would work even better.

Put in a medium saucepan (2 quart):

2 cups oat milk (any milk EXCEPT soy would work)

about 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup carob powder

1/4 cup agave nectar (or 1/3 cup honey or date syrup)

Whisk until well blended. Place over medium high heat. In a small bowl whisk:

1/2 cup oat milk

3 tablespoons arrowroot or tapioca flour

When the carob mixture begins to steam showing that it’s getting hot, pour in the arrowroot mixture and begin whisking the pudding as it will thicken quickly once the mixture comes just to a boil. Continue whisking until it thickens. Remove from heat and add:

1/4 cup carob chips (Optional but makes for a richer pudding)

1 tablespoon vegan butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk until smooth. Pour into ramekins and cool. Cover with small amounts of plastic wrap to keep the pudding from forming a skin (I actually like the skin the best so I don’t mind it). Makes 4-6 servings depending on the size of your ramekins (or old-fashioned pudding bowls!).

Baked Oats and Pumpkin Puddings

I’ve been looking at all kinds of recipes for baked “oats”. But none of them have actual oatmeal in them, they all use oat flour. So here’s my alternative. I’ve added some quinoa flour and oat protein powder to the mix to increase the protein content of the pudding as well as increasing the sweetener a little because the flour, at least in my opinion, overrides the taste of the pumpkin and spices. I didn’t think of it until after they were in the oven but adding some roasted pepitas would some crunch.

As a reminder for those of you new to my blog, there are a number of allergen-free recipes here to make your Thanksgiving dinner allergen free such as gluten-free gravy (and fat free), string-bean casserole, vegan pumpkin pie, and a delicious mushroom and Italian sausage stuffing (which I made this year with a loaf of that quick and easy oat bread on the blog).

Lightly grease 6, 6-ounce ramekins and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together:

1 can pumpkin puree

1 cup quinoa flour

3/4 cup oat flour

1/4 cup pumpkin protein powder (or any protein powder you use, vanilla or even chocolate would work)

1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey, coconut nectar, date syrup, etc.)

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup dairy-free milk (any will do but I would advise against using soy)

1/4 cup roasted pepita seeds

1/4 teaspoon of salt

Whisk until smooth then scoop into the ramekins to about 1/2″ from the top. Dust top with more pumpkin pie spice. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes or until set.

Baba Ghanoush

Yes, another eggplant recipe! And a very simple dip to prepare; the hardest part is roasting the eggplant and that’s not especially difficult, just time consuming. I can’t tell you exactly what size eggplant to buy – you’ll want about 2 cups of eggplant pulp. The 3 oriental eggplant I used only gave me about 1 cup of pulp so I would recommend a medium to large Italian eggplant for this recipe or else adjust the other ingredients to the amount of eggplant pulp you roasted.

First, roast the eggplant by slicing it into 1″ slices. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray or brush the eggplant slices with olive oil then turn them over and repeat. Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.

While the eggplant is roasting, in a small skillet heat:

2 tablespoons avocado oil

1 teaspoon cumin

Heat only until you can smell the cumin, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Remove the eggplant and let cool slightly before peeling the skin from around the outside of each slice. Place in a food processor and add:

2 tablespoons tahini

1 teaspoon minced garlic

salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

the cumin and avocado oil mixture

Pulse until smooth, spoon into a serving bowl and sprinkle with dried or fresh parsley. If desired, sprinkle with olive or avocado oil as well. Serve with gluten-free pita or quinoa buns (see recipe below).

Quinoa Buns

I thought these sounded interesting – avocado and quinoa with lime juice? Who puts lime juice in a bread? But I thought it sounded like it might be a good vehicle for the baba ghanoush. And it sounded very easy to make so I gave it a try and it actually is delicious but just be miserly with the lime zest or it overpowers the other flavors in the buns.

In a medium to large bowl combine:

1 1/2 cup quinoa flour (if you don’t have any but you have quinoa, simply pulse in a food processor to make flour from the raw quinoa)

1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

In a smaller bowl mash:

1 whole large ripe avocado being sure to take out any brown bruise spots which won’t mix into the batter

Add to the avocado:

1-2 tablespoons lime juice (juice from 1 lime)

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

1 tablespoon honey

3/4 cup water

Using a whisk or hand mixer, combine the wet ingredients until fairly smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. It’s a sticky dough so using wet hands shape into 6-7 balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten to about 1/4 inch thickness. Sprinkle with more sesame seeds and let sit while the oven heats to 425 degrees. Bake about 25 minutes total, turning the buns over at 15 minutes to brown both sides. Test with a toothpick for doneness. REMEMEBER GLUTEN FREE BREADS CAN BE GUMMY SO EVEN IF THE TOOTHPICK COMES OUT CLEAN, THEY STILL MAY NOT BE COOKED THROUGH. Cool completely before cutting.

Chicken Marengo

Here’s another great recipe adapted from the Chicken Bible. Because of salt restrictions, I left out the chopped olives and brandy also isn’t allowed in my diet so that’s gone as well but I’ll list them as optional if you want to add them to your dish. It was quite tasty and fairly easy to make. Be sure to use an oven safe pan or after making the sauce, transfer the sauce and then the chicken to an oven proof dish.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and chop:

1 medium onion, diced fairly small

Using paper towels, dry:

4 medium size bone-in chicken breasts or 2 breasts and 4 thighs

After drying sprinkle with:

1/2 teaspoon salt (I used herbamare)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat over medium high, in a skillet large enough to cook the chicken without cramping:

1 tablespoon oil

Add the seasoned chicken pieces, skin side down and leave them alone for at least 5 minutes to brown the skin and get it crispy. Then turn and cooked for 2-3 minutes on the other side. Remove from the pan, drain all but 1 tablespoon oil from the skillet and add:

the diced onion

Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until softened before adding:

2 teaspoons minced garlic

10 ounces sliced shitake mushrooms

Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms start to soften and give off their liquid before stirring in:

28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dry thyme)

Combine and then add a sauce made with:

3/4 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1/3 cup brandy (Optional)

2 teaspoon hot sauce (or more if your family likes it spicier OR 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)

6 Kalamata olives, chopped fine (Optional)

Stir to incorporate before placing the chicken pieces on top of the sauce mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the breasts reach 160 degrees and the thighs register 170 degrees. Remove from oven and move the chicken to a serving platter. Add to the sauce:

2 tablespoons avocado oil

Whisk to combine and then spoon the sauce around the chicken and serve. Serves 4.