Spicy Spanish Meatballs (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free)

Just like with meatloaf, I love meatballs. I’ve gotten lazy in my old age and simply made meatballs with some of my meatloaf mix but I recently saw a recipe for Spicy Spanish Meatballs and thought I’d give them a try. Here’s my revision of that recipe that used beef, veal and eggs, none of which I can eat.

You’ll need for the meatballs:

2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or ground cumin)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds (or ground coriander)

2 whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

9 ounces ground turkey

8 ounces ground pork

2 teaspoons allspice (or you can use nutmeg, I don’t happen to like it so substituted allspice)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 garlic cloves crushed

1/2 cup chopped dates (if you used dried dates, be sure to rehydrate them before adding)

1 small hot red chili pepper (I used a red finger pepper, seeds and veins removed), finely chopped

flax gel (3 tablespoons ground flax mixed into 1/3 cup hot water; let stand 5 minutes)

You’ll need for the sauce:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (roast and grind as above) (or 1 teaspoon ground cumin)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons diced garlic

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon paprika (I used 1/2 teaspoon regular paprika and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika)

1/2 cup wine (if you can have it) OR 1/2 cup chicken stock

28 ounces (1 large can) diced tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon dry oregano or marjoram

2 tablespoons date syrup

Make the meatballs: In a dry skillet, heat the cumin and coriander seeds and whole cloves over medium heat until aromatic, a minute or two. Let cool for a few minutes and then grind in either a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I used my coffee grinder that I never use for coffee).

Add to a food processor, the flax gel, dates, dried spices, garlic, cinnamon, allspice and chili pepper and grind until smooth. Remove to a bowl, add salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of each) along with the meats and blend until mixed. Try not to overmix to avoid tough meatballs. Form into about 1 ounce meatballs with wet hands (makes about 16-18). Place on a greased, small baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Whwn the sauce is simmering, take the meatballs out of the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper (again about 1/2 teaspoon each), cumin, cinnamon and paprika and cook for a few minutes over low to medium heat being careful not to let the spices or garlic burn. Add the wine or chicken stock and boil for several minutes until almost evaporated. Add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes uncovered, stir occasionally.

Add 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste depending on how thick you like your sauce, and the oregano or marjoram along with the date syrup (don’t have any? Use maple syrup or agave instead).

Add the meatballs to the sauce, remove the bay leaves. If you wish, you can sprinkle the dish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve over any small grain such as quinoa or faro, couscous would also work. Or serve with slices of gluten free bread to sop up the sauce.

Serves 4 people generously.

Curried Vegetable Pie (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, meat free)

I LOVE curry! It’s one of my very favorite dishes so when I saw a recipe in the Trader Joe Fearless Flyer for Spicy Pumpkin Curry Pot Pie, I had to adapt it. Since I didn’t put any pumpkin in my pie, I’ve renamed the recipe to fit the actual ingredients. Since it contains beans, you could serve it as a side dish or an entree.

Like many of my recipes, this one can be adapted to suit your family’s tastes. For example, I used butternut squash but any winter squash, including pumpkin, could be substituted. Also, I love white kidney beans so I used those but feel free to substitute another bean, such as garbanzo; instead of parsnips, you could use carrots, and instead of the chopped dates, feel free to use dried cranberries, raisins, currents, etc. Whatever your choices, remember that curry loves sweet foods!

You’ll need for the vegetables:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup diced onion (I used sweet onions)

2 medium parsnips, cut into medium sized pieces

1 cup butternut squash, cut into medium sized pieces

1 bunch rainbow chard cut into shreds (feel free to use any chard or kale)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

16 oz can of beans, drained

1/3 cup chopped dates (or other dried fruit)

For the sauce, you’ll need:

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup gluten free flour mix

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon curry paste (depending on your taste)

And for the pie, you’ll need:

1 9″ pie gluten-free pie crust (I use Wholly Gluten Free even though it has a small amount of sugar in it but feel free to use whatever pie crust your family likes, just remember, don’t put a cold pie crust on top of hot mixture)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet, add the 3 tablespoons of oil, heat then saute the onion and parsnips (or carrots) for about 5 minutes. Add the squash, cover and cook another 5 minutes. Add the chard, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cover and cook for about 5 more minutes or until vegetables are softened but still hold together. Remove from heat.

To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in the bottom of a saucepan and add the curry powder (remember not to burn the curry, just toast it so have your heat on medium). Add the flour and whisk in; it should absorb all the oil. Let simmer on low for several minutes to cook the flour. Add the non-dairy milk (any milk except soy which will not thicken); coconut milk would be wonderful if you can eat coconut. Whisk constantly until thickened; if too thick (should be the consistency of watery mash potatoes), add a little more milk. Once completed, pour over the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Grease a 9″ round casserole dish and then add the vegetable mixture.

If you are using a frozen pie crust, prebake per directions. Many frozen crusts will not come out of the pan until pre-baked (like the Wholly Gluten Free crust I use). That works well since then we’re putting a hot crust on hot mixture. Once pre-baked, flip it on top of the vegetable mixture. Bake in the oven until crust is done and mixture is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serves 6-8.

HINT: If you’d like to add some crunch to this dish, add some seeds, I used pumpkin.

Oriental Spare Ribs

(Dairy free, soy free, gluten free, sugar free)

One of my favorite foods – spare ribs! Probably because all summer my father grew the pigs for our winter table and the treat was always the ribs. I had them so rarely growing up, just that one time every year, so now that I’m grown I cook them as often as I possibly can. I had to give up Chinese style ribs when I developed my soy allergy but with the soy sauce substitute (see sauces), I’m now experimenting with some of my favorite Chinese dishes like ribs. The recipe is very simple to make and prep time is short but cooking time is longer to get that bone tender rib that we all love.

You’ll need for 2 servings, depending on how many ribs you can eat!:

1 full rack of ribs (I prefer the St. Louis style, more meat, less bone)

6 tablespoons chicken stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (or use real soy sauce if it doesn’t bother you)

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

6 tablespoons date syrup (or agave, coconut nectar, etc.)

1 teaspoon molasses

Cut the ribs into individual sections. If you have a cleaver, you can chop them into 3 pieces for each rib but this isn’t necessary. Mix the liquid ingredients together.

If you have a crock pot, you can cook them on high for 2-4 hours. Put the ribs in the pot then cover with the sauce. If you don’t, like me, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, spray your casserole or oven safe dish with olive oil, add the ribs and the sauce. Use a covered dish so that the sauce doesn’t all boil away during cooking. I turned them every 20 minutes since my dish didn’t allow them to all be completely covered. Cook in the oven 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Once cooked, pour the remaining liquid into a saucepan and boil down until syrupy. Pour over the ribs to serve. At this point, you can top them with sesame seeds or chopped green onions.

HINT: Ribs can be very fatty. I cooked mine, poured off the liquid and then refrigerated them separately overnight. The next day, dinner prep was simple. I heated the ribs in a low oven while I removed most of the fat from the sauce and then boiled it down. I then poured it over the ribs, and heated them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Moraccan Chicken

With all my food allergies, I eat a lot of chicken so I’m always on the lookout for new, interesting chicken dishes. I don’t know how many of you subscribe to the magazine “Simply Gluten Free” but I’ve been a subscriber since their very early days when they were titled “Cooking Without.”

This last issue had a recipe for easy Moraccan Chicken which I thought sounded interested and it turns out it is very delicious. I’ve changed the recipe slightly to meet my tastes and decided to share it with you. Several cautions – cook in a slow cooker if you want but if you do it in the oven like me, be sure to cook at 350 degrees. I screwed up this time and used 375 and even with watching it closely and cooking no more than 1 hour, the top still scorched. So in the oven, be sure to cook at no higher than 350. It should only take 3/4 to 1 hour to bake.

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

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon salt

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.

It’s that easy! You can serve it with brown rice, mashed potatoes or celery root.

Orange Chicken (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free, sugar free)

I love Chinese food but since I’m allergic to soy I don’t get it very often. There’s a small Chinese restaurant in central New Hampshire that I visited frequently when I was there last year where they were willing to cook meals for me without any soybean oil or soy sauce. My selection was, of course, limited due to my other allergies but it made me hungry for more.

I recently found a recipe for Orange Chicken and decided I could adapt it if only I could find a substitute for soy sauce, such a staple in Chinese food. So, for those of you who can’t use soy, like me, I’ve got an alternative here for that as well. The recipe is a little complex but if you follow it step by step, its easy enough to make a great dish.

The soy substitute works well in this recipe and I’ll probably try it out on different dishes in the future. Make it ahead. It will freeze which is nice since most recipes call for only a little soy sauce at a time.

In a small saucepan mix:

1 1/2 cups bone broth – I used mushroom but beef would also work

3 teaspoons vinegar

1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses

2 teaspoons date sugar (or date syrup)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. Cool.

For the orange chicken, to serve four:

3/4 chicken broth

Zest and juice of 2 oranges

1/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder

6 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons diced garlic

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle (use more if you like it hot)

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

5 teaspoons corn starch (if like me, you have trouble with too much corn, you can use arrowroot, tapioca or cassava here as well) mixed into 2 tablespoons water to make slurry

1 cup arrowroot, tapioca, or cassava flour

1 tablespoon aguafava powder mixed into 1/2 cool water (or you can use 3 egg whites)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups olive oil (or any oil you can use)

First, whisk the broth, grated orange zest and juice, the monk fruit powder, vinegar, soy sauce substitute, garlic, ginger, and chipotle in a large saucepan until thoroughly mixed. Transfer 3/4 of the mixture to a large zip-lock bag, add chicken, and toss to coat. Get the air out of the bag by sealing it most of the way and then pressing the bag. Finish sealing bag and refrigerate for at l hour.

While the chicken marinates, bring to a boil the rest of the sauce. When it comes to a boil, whisk into the sauce and continue whisking until the sauce is clear and thick. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven heat the oil to 350 degrees.

Beat the aguafava (or egg whites) until soft peaks, add cream of tartar.

Combine the arrowroot with the baking soda, salt and pepper in a large zip-lock bag.

Set up 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or paper towels on the bottom of the tray and put a cooling rack on top of the paper in one of the baking sheets. Drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. In parts, don’t try to do all the chicken at once, coat it with the beaten aguafava (or egg whites), then toss into the bag of flour and shake to coat. Remove chicken from the bag shaking off any excess flour. Place the chicken on the baking sheet without the rack.

Add the floured chicken one piece at a time to the oil and fry until golden brown 3-5 minutes, turning chicken as needed. You should be able to fry 1/3 to 1/2 of the chicken at a time. Transfer to the wire rack. Be sure to bring the oil back to 350 degrees between each batch of chicken.

Reheat sauce until simmering. Add chicken and serve immediately over rice. Some cut scallions add to the dish. You can also add to the sauce some sautéed onion and celery, water chestnuts, broccoli, bok choy, etc.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops (Dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free)

My mother used to make pork chops covered with onion-soup mix and cream of mushroom soup.  I loved those pork chops and have been trying for years to find a recipe that I could eat that would produce such juicy, succulent pork chops.  And I think I’ve finally found one!  This recipe adds some spice (I like to use spicy brown mustard) along with a slight sweetness to a juicy chop.  I serve it with some of my celery root and parsnip mash that’s been reheated in a skilled until crispy brown.

This recipe is for 2 chops but can easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many chops are needed.

In a small bowl mix:

  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  •  2 tablespoons honey (I like to use raw organic honey)
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil

Grease a 6×9″ baking dish.  Trim excess fat from the pork chops.  Add the chops and spread with half the honey mustard mixture.  Turn over the chops and spread with the remaining mixture.  Marinate at least a half hour but I’ve left them as long as overnight.  The vinegar in the mustard will tenderize the pork so the longer you let them marinate the better.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the chops for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your pork chops and then remove and turn the chops over.  Be sure to test with your finger or a spoon to determine if the chops are cooked (a done chop with have no give when pushed with a spoon or finger).  If my chops are almost done after turning over, I put them under the broiler to brown the top for 3-5 minutes.    A 1-bone chop takes roughly 20 minutes total.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes to rest before serving.

Fish and Rice Stirfry (Dairy-free, Soy-free, Gluten-free)

I’m always looking for new ways to use fish.  Fish is one of those proteins that I love to eat but don’t often like to cook.  This is a quick recipe that really highlights flavor.  Its well balanced nutritionally, very filling, and can be adjusted to serve the tastes of anyone.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  •  6-8 ounces white fish, diced
  •  1/2 cup diced onion
  •  1/2 cup shredded carrots
  •  1/2 cup cooked peas
  •  1/2 cup diced celery
  •  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  •  1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 3 tablespoons fresh parsley)
  •  Scallions, cherry tomatoes, etc. for garnish
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
  •  Juice of a half lemon

In a large hot skillet, add the olive oil, onions, carrots, and celery.  Saute over medium heat until celery and carrots are softened.  Add the fish and cook thoroughly.  Add the rice, quinoa, peas, and herbs.*  Stir to combine.  Heat through, spritz with the lemon juice and serve with whatever garnishes you like.  This time of year, my first garnish is always tomatoes although this year, without my husband’s garden, I’ve had to find fresh tomatoes in the markets.

*Other additions, depending on your tastes, could be some diced peppers, sweet or hot; some hot sauce or chili oil; Old Bay seasoning or other herbs; and perhaps, since I’m now living in Minnesota instead of New Hampshire where this seems to be like seafood back east, some wild rice instead of the brown rice and/or quinoa.

Hash (dairy-free, gluten-free)

Anytime we had left over meat of any kind, my mother or I made hash from it.  My favorite is probably ham while my mother really liked red flannel hash made with corned beef.  It can be served with gravy, ketchup, horseradish sauce, or even plain with a poached or fried egg on top.  The vegetables added can also vary depending on taste and what’s in the frig or freezer.  I like to use sweet potato but again, any potato will work just fine.  It could also be made with just vegetables for a vegan hash.  In my eyes, any way one makes a hash is delicious with the crispy potato, tender meat and tasty vegetables.  The English version of Chinese stir fry!

You’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1/2 diced celery
  • 1 cup diced and cooked potato
  • 2 cups diced and cooked meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, ham, tofu, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked carrots

In a large skillet, heat the oil and cook the onion and celery until softened.  Add the potato and cook until potatoes are browned.  Add the meat and vegetables and stir well.  Cook until heated through.  Add salt, pepper, and herbs to taste.  I used my salt-free mixed herbs.  Top with gravy, ketchup, etc. or serve plain.  My mother always fried eggs to go on top of her hashes but for those of us allergic to eggs, that’s not an option.

Baked Chicken Breasts (dairy-free, gluten-free)

I eat a lot of chicken since I’m allergic to anything that comes from a cow as well as most other red meats.  So I’m always trying out new chicken recipes and this is an old recipe I found while digging around for blog posts in my old cookbooks and files.  It originally used almond flour and nut butter but I’ve updated it and removed those ingredients and added several healthier options.  It can be served with some cranberry sauce (see Cranberry Compote).  Be careful with the baking times — its a very moist breast due to the marinade but will dry out around the edges if cooked too long.  Its difficult to tell when its cooked just by looking at this chicken; take it out of the oven and check it for firmness to be sure its cooked.  Depending on how thin the breasts are pounded will vary the cooking time.  Mine were around a 1/2 inch and I cooked them 35 minutes which turned out to be about 5 minutes too long since they were a little dry around the edges.

This recipe serves 4 using two whole (versus half) chicken breasts.  Place a breast in a gallon storage bag.  With either a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer (flat edged), pound out breast until its about a half inch thick.  Repeat for the second breast.

Spray a shallow 10″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Add the flattened breasts.  In a small bowl mix:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Pour over chicken breasts.  Turn over the breasts several times to be sure that all parts of the breasts have some marinade on them.  Cover with plastic wrap and marinade for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a second shallow dish (like a large pie plate), combine:

  • 1/4 cup ground flax/hemp mix
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Stir to combine.  Press a chicken breast into the mixture to cover.  Turn it over to coat the other side and don’t forget the edges.  Repeat with the second breast.  Place in a greased baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes depending on thickness (for 1/2 inch breasts; for thicker breasts increase slightly).  Serve plain or with cranberry sauce.  I paired mine with the celery root and parsnip mash (see Side Dishes) which is now one of my favorite sides — can’t tell you the last time I ate a potato!

Chard Wrap (dairy-free, gluten-free)

A friend challenged me last week to find a way to produce a wrap for her lunch that didn’t use a tortilla. Of course, my first thought was a lettuce wrap that I’ve been making for years.  But she wanted something new and different.  The swiss chard can be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for several days.  

Put a large (dutch oven type) pot on the stove about half full of water.  Bring to a bowl.  Meanwhile, clean:

  • 1 bunch of swiss chard (green or rainbow) – collard greens could also be used

Cut out the toughest parts of the stems which will leave a V-shaped leaf.  When the water comes to a bowl, place the chard leaves in the water for 60 seconds (I did this individually so that they wouldn’t break and would cook evenly but that’s not completely necessary; the last few I did altogether and they were fine).

Remove and place in a bowl of cold water for just a few minutes.  Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.  

To make a wrap, cut the Vs into two pieces.  Stagger several pieces (4-5) on top of one another to strengthen the wrap and make a solid wrapper.  Spread with honey mustard sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw honey

Whisk until blended.  Place the wrap meats and tomato across and the sprouts and avocado lengthwise so that there’s some of each in every bite.  I used:

  • 2 slices organic, low sodium turkey breast
  • 2 slices organic honey baked ham
  • 2 slices non-dairy provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • 1/2 a medium avocado sliced

Fold in the longer edges of the chard wrap (if possible) and then fold the shorter ends to each other.  Cut in half and serve.  

Alternatives:  

  • Make this entirely with vegetables using sprouts, shredded lettuces, wedges of carrot, celery, or cucumber laid in the short direction, add cheese if desired