Turkey and Vegetable Casserole

This is very easy to put together. It takes about a 20 minutes IF your rice is precooked. Mine took a little longer because I didn’t think to cook the rice beforehand. And since I wanted to add a little Minnesota to this recipe, instead of using straight brown rice, I used a brown and wild rice mix which takes longer to cook but adds a whole lot of flavor. Feel free to change up the vegetables used – broccoli would work just as well as zucchini. And the oregano and thyme can be substituted for an Italian herb mix.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a 9×12 baking pan or a 2-quart casserole dish. In a high-sided skillet, heat over medium high:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering add:

1 pound ground turkey (this would work just as well with ground pork, Italian sausage or hamburger, just be sure to drain off the fat after cooking)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Break up the meat as it cooks and cook until no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add:

1 medium onion, diced

2 small zucchini, cut into approximately 3/4″ slices (I quartered mine before slicing so I had chunks)

2 large portobello mushrooms (deveined and diced)

1 medium yellow sweet pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)

3 garlic cloves minced (about 3 teaspoons)

Stir to combine and then simmer for 4-5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add:

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon siracha sauce or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Stir to combine and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in:

2 cups brown and wild rice mix, cooked

1/4 cup grated non-dairy Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons chopped parsley, flat-leaf or Italian

Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with:

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Bake until mixture is bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown, about 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with another tablespoon or two of parsley before serving. Serves 6.

Spicy Plum Sauce Pork Chops

I have jars of jam in my freezer and since I don’t eat much toast or other things where jam would be good, I’ve been looking for recipes to use up these jams. Here’s one I found for my plum jam. If you do a search on my blog, you’ll find a recipe for strawberry jam (sugar-free of course) which you can use to make sugar free plum jam which is the base for the oriental spicy plum sauce for these pork chops. I served these chops with sauteed bok choy (find recipe under side dishes).

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees then make the plum sauce by combining in a small saucepan:

1 1/2 cups plum jam

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons date sugar

1 tablespoon dried onion (flakes or granules, both work)

1/2 teaspoon spicy chili sauce (or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Whisk to combine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, over medium high heat. Once it boils, remove from heat.

In a 12″ skillet, over medium high heat, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When shimmering, add:

4 pork chops, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness

Sear on all sides, including the outsides, until browned. Place in a 9×9″ baking dish (or whatever size fits your pork chops) and cover with the spicy plum sauce. Bake, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of your pork chops. Serves 4.

Crispy Sticky Asian Chicken Wings

Like ribs, wings are high on my favorite foods list. I usually just bake them and barbecue sauce them (see recipe under Appetizers and Snacks) but I wanted to do something a little different today so I found three or four recipes for Asian wings and took what I liked from each to get you this divinely mouth-watering succulent wing recipe. In fact, I enjoyed them so much I went to the store and bought another package of wings just so that I could make them again! If you want to make them a meal, serve with cooked rice and some sauteed bok choy (see recipe under side dishes).

First, if your wings are whole, cut off the mini pointed section (the wing tips) and then cut the wing between the mini wing and the drumette. Throw the wing tips in the garbage and the other two parts into a gallon food storage bag. You should have about 2 pounds of wings.

Second, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a medium size baking sheet by spraying it with non-stick spray. Next, add to the bag:

1 tablespoon all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika (more or less depending on your taste)

Seal the bag and shake to coat the wing sections. Place each piece on the prepared baking sheet. Best to make sure they don’t touch. Bake for 30-40 minutes. While the wings bake, prepare the sauce. Mix together in a small saucepan:

1 teaspoon avocado oil

1 teaspoon ginger juice (don’t have ginger juice? Peel and finely mince a thumb size piece of ginger)

1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons chili sauce (depending on the heat level you want in your wings)*

2 tablespoons honey

2-4 tablespoons date sugar, depending on how sweet and sticky you want them

1/3 cup soy sauce substitute

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

Whisk together and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the wings are cooked, remove from the pan to a medium size bowl and pour over the sauce.** Mix together with a serving fork or large kitchen spoon. Add:

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Move to a plate and garnish with:

1/2 cup sliced scallion greens

Serve hot.

*I used 2 teaspoons and it was quite spicy but not overly hot, just the way I like it. And the addition of the sesame seeds and scallions help cool the wings a little.

**I used only half the sauce for my 1 1/2 pounds of wings.

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.

Chicken and Vegetables in Plum Sauce

Had a little of the soy substitute sauce left over from the recipe a couple of days ago so thought I’d make some choy mein. But there wasn’t quite enough sauce for that and I’d gotten a jar of plum jam out of the freezer and added some of that and oh my goodness, how mouth-watering is this! Like adding a little pear or apple to a pork or chicken gravy, adding a little plum to this Chinese sauce turned out luscious. Don’t have any plum jam around the house? Stew up 2 plums (skin too if organic) along with about 2 tablespoons of date syrup and then puree it and you’ve got plum jam!

Just like with most Chinese recipes, the first step is always to cut everything up!

Peel:

1 small to medium onion, slice in half thin slices

1 large o 2 smaller carrots, slice on the diagonal

2 garlic cloves, minced

Trim:

2 whole stalks or 4 stalks from the celery heart (about a cup altogether), slice diagonally

6 ounces of shitake mushrooms, sliced

Put the vegetables in a bowl and set aside until ready to cook. Trim the fat and slice:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts*

Place the slices in a food storage bag and add:

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot

1/4 to 1/3 cup plum jam

Seal and refrigerate 15-30 minutes until ready to cook. When ready to cook, heat over medium heat in a 12″ skillet:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add the vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes. Cover and lower heat to medium low and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until carrots are tender. Remove the vegetables to their bowl, turn the heat back to medium and add to the skillet:

the marinated chicken and marinade

Cook stirring constantly until the chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the vegetables back to the skillet along with:

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Stir to combine and continue stirring until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Serve with brown rice or rice noodles.

*Want a vegan entrée? Substitute firm tofu or your favorite plant-based protein.

Pumpkin Sticky Cinnamon Buns

Who doesn’t love a sticky bun? All gooey, finger licking delicious. But many of us find working with yeast not an easy chore. I had to start this recipe 3 times because the yeast didn’t bubble up the way it should, first had the water too hot, then too cool but the third time I got it right. The water should have the same temperature as your inner wrist so that it doesn’t feel hot or cold on your wrist, just warmth. These take some time but they are so definitely worth it.

First, preheat oven to 200. While it’s heating up in a small bowl mix together:

2 teaspoons yeast

3 tablespoons warm water (around 110 degrees, see above)

3 tablespoons agave nectar (or coconut, or honey) [I actually used date sugar at the end instead of the nectar so if it doesn’t work with the nectar try date sugar; mixture will of course be much thicker so add a little more water.]

Whisk to combine and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Yeast should start bubbling fairly quickly. If it doesn’t, throw it out and start over again. While the yeast is working, in a large bowl combine:

1 1/4 cups all purpose, gluten-free flour such as 1to1 or cup4cup

1/2 cup oat flour

1/3 cup brown rice flour

6 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Stir to mix well. If the yeast is now activated and bubbly, stir into it:

3 tablespoons avocado oil

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (or non-dairy yogurt)

Whisk and then mix into the dry ingredients until just combined. Turn dough out onto a flat surface covered with plastic wrap and knead just until it comes together. Spray the bowl with non-stick spray and return the dough to the bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 15-20 minutes.

Turn off the preheated oven. Turn the dough back out onto the plastic wrap surface sprinkled with some of the flour and roll out to approximately 14″x10″ rectangle. Spread with a filling of:

4 tablespoons vegan margarine or avocado oil

6 tablespoons date sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Leave about 1/2″ unfilled along one of the 10″ sides to help seal the buns. Roll the dough beginning on the edge you didn’t leave unfilled and be sure to rub the last edge into the roll to seal it. Cut into 10-11 rolls* using a knife or pizza cutter (or even dental floss). Spray with non-stick cooking spray a baking dish large enough to hold the buns loosely. Or grease the dish generously with vegan margarine and sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds if desired. Place the buns in the dish, leaving space for them to rise. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the oven to rise for approximately 2 hours until they’re about doubled in size. Remove and heat the oven to 375 degrees. While the oven heats, prepare the glaze by mixing:

1/2 cup agave nectar (or coconut nectar)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup honey

*I actually cut my buns much smaller so I got 15-16 rather than the 10-11. Pour the glaze over the buns before baking.* Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the buns. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the dough part of a bun (in the middle of the pan) coming out clean means they are cooked. Remove and serve immediately. The sticky part will be on the bottom of the buns. Easily reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds per bun.

*If preferred, use a glaze after baking instead of the honey bee glaze. Whisk together:

6 tablespoons vegan margarine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar-free confectioners sugar (there’s a monk fruit based one available)

1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Pour the glaze over the buns before serving.

Chicken Canzanese

When I first say the listing for Chicken Canzanese in the chicken bible, I thought it was a Chinese dish but turns out it’s a very old Italian recipe. I’ve resized and revamped it for those of us with allergies. It originally made eight servings so I’ve reduced it to 4. I’ve also changed the white wine in the original to chicken stock plus a touch of rice vinegar and honey. Since I’m used to using dried herbs rather than fresh, I’ve also reflected that change in this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In an ovenproof skillet (about 10-12 inches), heat over medium high heat:

1 teaspoon olive oil

Add:

1 ounce prosciutto cut into 1/4 inch cubes*

Cook, stirring frequently, until just starting to brown. Add:

3 teaspoons chopped garlic

Cook, stirring often, until garlic just starts to brown. Transfer the prosciutto and garlic to a small bowl. Dry with paper towels:

4-5 chicken thighs, skin on

Dust them with pepper to taste (no salt is necessary in this recipe because of the salt in the prosciutto. Replace the skillet on the heat and add:

1 teaspoon olive oil

the 4-5 chicken thighs, skin side down

Cook until well browned on the first side (about 5 minutes) then turn over and brown on the meat side, reducing heat to medium (about 5 more minutes). Transfer the chicken to a plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoon of the oil from the skillet (the chicken will release quite a bit of fat). Add to the skillet over medium heat:

2 tablespoon all purpose gluten-free flour

Whisk to combine and let the flour cook for about 30 seconds while whisking before adding:

2 cups of chicken stock

drizzle of rice vinegar (about 1/4 teaspoon)

drizzle of honey (about 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (depending on your taste)

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

dash (1/8 teaspoon) ground cloves (or add 2 whole cloves – just remember to remove them before serving)

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional depending on your taste)

Whisk to combine and cook until slightly thickened. Add the prosciutto, garlic, and chicken (skin side up) to the skillet, nestling the chicken into the sauce. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. After about 15 minutes check and see if the sauce is bubbling; if it is reduce oven temperature to 300 and cook until chicken is tender. Sauce should have thickened but if it’s still thin, remove the chicken from the sauce (move to a plate and cover) and cook the sauce on the stovetop for a few minutes until reduced to approximately 1 1/2 cups. Remove from the heat and whisk in:

1 tablespoon vegan margarine

1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Stir to combine and then pour the sauce around the chicken. Remove the bay leaves (and whole cloves if used) before serving. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.

*Prosciutto can become tough if fried when very thinly sliced so it’s recommended that a 1/4″ piece be used to cut “chunks” for this recipe. However, my deli wasn’t able to provide a “slab” of prosciutto because of shortages now due to the pandemic so I used the thinly sliced prepackaged prosciutto instead. Seemed to work alright but I simply chopped it into larger pieces than 1/4″.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

It’s very difficult to find a gluten-free pizza crust recipe that doesn’t include at least one egg. This one is yeasted so if you have trouble with getting yeast to work, not an uncommon problem, just make sure your yeast is: 1) still viable – there should be a date on the package; 2) that your water isn’t too hot or too cold – like with a baby’s bottle, the water should be just slightly warmer than a neutral feel on your inside wrist or about 105 degrees; 3) never put the salt in with the yeast, always add it to the flour; and 4) yeast needs food to grow so add the sweetener to the yeast to help it develop.

Those types in place, here’s the recipe. Takes awhile because of letting the yeast do it’s thing but it’s a very easy recipe to make.

First, in a 8-10 cup bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (I used the 1to1 but any will work fine)

1 tablespoon date sugar

1 teaspoon guar gum (or xanthan gum)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix to combine. In a 2-3 cup bowl mix together:

1 1/2 teaspoons yeast (this is one packet)

1 cup warm water (see above)

1 teaspoon date sugar

1/2 cup of the flour mixture above

Use a whisk to combine until there are no lumps or very small lumps left. Set aside and let the yeast work for 15-30 minutes, it should double in size. If it doesn’t start bubbling within the first few minutes, either the yeast isn’t any good or the water was too cold or too hot. Start again in this case.

After the yeast has doubled in size add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Then pour the wet yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir (wooden spoon best) until all the flour is absorbed. Try not to mix too much once the mixture is combined and smooth or the dough may become tough. Form the dough into a ball, or as close to a ball as possible – if the mixture is too wet and sticky, wet or oil a spatula to form into a ball. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let sit for about 1 hour or until the ball is about double in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 10-12″ pizza pan (or a rectangular baking sheet) with:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Depending on the size and shape of the pizza desired, either scrape the entire ball of dough into the pan or cut into sections to make smaller pizzas. Personally, since I live alone, I quarter the dough and shape it into 4 personal size pizzas on a large baking sheet. Spread it on the pizza pan or shape it using wet or greased hands. I spread the olive oil on the baking pan with my hand and then have a greased hand to spread the dough out and shape it as I like.

Bake the dough for 10-12 minutes or until it just starts to brown. Remove from oven and either cover with toppings and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees (baking time depends a lot on the thickness of the crust), or cool and freeze the prepared pizza crusts for later use. I made 4 small personal sized pizza but I added the toppings to all of them, baked them and then froze the extra 3 fully made to heat up at a later date.

TIP: Gluten-free baked goods take longer to bake than “normal” baked goods so don’t be afraid to let the pizza dough cook for longer if it isn’t browned on the bottom. My crusts were quite thin so the 20 minutes was sufficient.

Pork Chops with Pear Sauce and Sautéed Endive

Mostly I eat chicken but occasionally I’ve have some pork and I find it difficult to find creative ways to cook it, a plain pork chop can be so boring. Here’s one I adjusted from one I found online. I added the endive which goes great with both the pork chop and the pear sauce.

First, make a batch of pear sauce (see recipe under sauces) except instead of adding the ginger, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of allspice (per cup of pear sauce/about 1 pear). Additionally, add about 1 tablespoon of date syrup (or 2 teaspoons of honey or agave nectar).

In a 10″ skillet, heat over medium high:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Blot dry:

2 1″ thick pork chops (or a little thinner or thicker if preferred just adjust the cooking time)

Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (granulated works best). Add to the hot oil and sear on each side (about 1-2 minutes per side) then reduce heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, for about 5-6 minutes per side or until the pork is firm to the touch. Set aside and let sit off the heat for approximately 10 minutes to rest.

While the pork rests, heat in 12″ skillet over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2 medium sweet onion, dice

6-8 medium to large endive (slice off the lower stem end and then quarter)

Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder then cook stirring occasionally so that the onion doesn’t burn. After about 3-4 minutes, reduce heat to medium low and cover so that the lower cores of the endive soften and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes or until the endive cores are softened.

If you’ve premade the pear sauce as I did, heat in a small pot until hot. Pour half the mixture (about 1/2 cup) over each pork chop. Serves 2.

Easy Moroccan Chicken

I’m reposting this recipe that I original developed in 2020 because I have some additional tips for you about it that I thought made it so much more scrumptious. Many of us can’t (and shouldn’t) eat corn. I know because I’m one. But I grew up eating corn and I do so love it. Especially when it’s corn season, like it is right now. I happened to get to the market this morning right after they’d put out a fresh batch of local corn.

If you don’t know when corn is fresh, here’s what to look for: check that the tassels are still moist or at least still have some green to them and are not turned completely brown and that the stem end is still green. If the stem end is brown, the corn is old and will have lost much of it’s flavor. Also don’t husk the corn until you’re ready to put it in the pot! A definite no no. And always steam corn, it should never be boiled.

My mother was a great admirer of Craig Claiborne, the food critic for the New York Times in the 1970s. When he published a cookbook, she had to have it. About a week later, she found a recipe in it for corn in which he said corn should be boiled. She slammed the book shut, said the man was an idiot and never read anything else he ever wrote.

Having grown up on a farm where my father wouldn’t eat corn unless he went out and picked it, husked it and brought it to my mother who had the steamer all set to cook it. And the bushels of corn that we’d blanch and cut off the cobs in September to freeze for the winter. My, it was a two-day affair.

So please, another tip, never reheat or cook corn in water. If you have frozen corn off the cob, it should be simmered in milk (such as oat milk) and some fat (of course my mother always used butter!). Corn has a milky base, not a watery one so cooking it in milk enhances the flavor.

So, today, even though I knew better, I added corn to this recipe. And of my goodness, it was so delicious and I suffered so desperately all afternoon after I ate it but the enjoyment and flavor was worth the few bad hours afterwards. Here’s the amended recipe, feel free to omit the corn if you can’t eat it.

You’ll need:

4 chicken thighs (I tried using a breast and it was tough)

1 cup salsa – use whatever salsa your family prefers, mild, medium, hot or spicy, doesn’t matter

Approximately 3/4 cup of freshly cooked corn cut from the cob (I used only 1 ear)

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon garam masala or coriander

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce [optional]

1/2 teaspoon salt or herbamare

Spray a 9×9″ pan with cooking spray. Mix the salsa, honey and spices together (I use a small whisk) and put a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the thighs on top and then spread the remaining salsa mix on each thigh. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken thighs.

It’s that easy! You can serve it with brown rice to sop up all the wonderful flavors of the salsa.

PS: I gave the rest of the corn to my grandson so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it myself!