Meandering down a path of Creativity

Posts tagged ‘dinner’

Muscles & Meat Sauce, Oh My! (Gluten-free)

As I mentioned in my post earlier today, I need to increase my protein intake. Normally, my preference on from-scratch red sauce for pasta is a chunky garden-style sauce, with lots of fresh veggies and tomatoes I put up from the previous year’s garden… and absolutely NO added sugar (a high quality sweet balsamic vinegar does the job quite nicely).  The ingredients and amounts always vary and I never really measure anything. Well, tonight I’m adding some meat to the mix *and* I carefully measured everything, except the herbs. Hopefully this beautiful gravy will have my muscles nice and happy and ready to take on the chicken kicks tomorrow at MMA!

 

meat sauce cooking

Yummy gravy in the making…

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Zoe’s Summer Squash Soup

Another squash recipe! It’s gluten-free, it’s vegan, and it uses up a lot of squash! Oh, and it’s pretty darn tasty, too! This soup recipe works great with either just zucchini or a mix of zucchini and crook neck or straight neck yellow summer squash… I’m sure it would work well with patty pan squash, too, but I haven’t tried that yet. It’s also excellent if you add a couple of cloves of minced or chopped garlic in with the onions, but since Mom can’t have garlic, my standard recipe doesn’t include that. Oh, and it fits in with my ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy- you know those giant zucchini that seem to appear overnight, with the giant seeds and tough, spongy flesh? They are perfect for the broth base!

Two giant squash from my garden, with playing cards and veggie peeler for scale

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Quick n Easy Pasta Topper… GF

This is just a quick post to give you a quick n easy ‘recipe’ if you’re in the mood for something new to put on your pasta. It’s very flexible on the ingredients, too. As a bonus, the version I made tonight used up some leftover hot Italian sausage- and I love being able to give the leftovers new life!

What you’ll need: (more…)

Recipe: Roast Beef Perfection- Sharing the Family Secrets!

Happy July!

So it seems that I have, once again, slacked off in my attempt at regular posting. Life happens sometimes, though, and blogging seems to be the easiest thing to let slide when there just aren’t enough hours in a day. It looks like everything is settling back into some semblance of normalcy, though, so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to it with gusto!

The following is a super easy recipe for perfect roast beef, no matter how big or small a roast you have. It comes out perfectly every time! (Seriously, I’ve used it on a piece of meat as small as 2 1/2 lbs, and as large as 14 lbs. and it has never failed!) Oh, and it also yields a lovely au jus!

DISCLAIMER: This method does **NOT** follow proper food safety rules. If you decide to try it, you do so at your own risk. I do not do it with meat bought from a grocery store or an unknown source. I ONLY use this method when I am using beef that has been naturally raised and is from a well-trusted source. This method pre-dates World War II, and food was a lot more trustworthy back then. So please, please, please be careful and use your best judgement!

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Falling down on the job!

So I don’t have my own recipe to share with you this week. I had grand plans, but life happened. So, instead of giving you one of my own recipes, I am going to direct you to a recipe on a friend’s blog:

Nicole’s Visions- Tomato Ketchup

(You might recognize her name from that gorgeous nature photo I posted a couple of months back, with the lake and the stone bench.)

She tried the recipe for ketchup and gave it a good review, and I am planning on making it in the coming weeks, using some of the tomato paste I canned during last summer’s tomato glut. I’ll be turning the paste into ketchup, and then turning the ketchup into homemade BBQ sauce!

And if y’all are reeeeal nice, I might just share my Sweet n Sassy BBQ Sauce recipe with you at some point in the future! Hope you’re having a great week!

**edited to make the link actually show up!

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup (dairy-free, gluten-free)

I decided that, since we’re dealing with recipes, they should each go into their own post. Hopefully that will make life easier for anyone who needs to search the archives for something specific in the future.

Recipe 2: Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

Loosely based on this recipe: http://healthyblenderrecipes.com/recipes/creamy_vegan_roasted_sweet_potato_soup/

So, the night that I wrote the post about how to breakdown a large cut of meat into smaller portions for several meals, I used one of my pork roasts for dinner. We had it with roasted sweet potatoes and ‘sugar snap’ pea pods. Now, I had happened across the recipe I linked above a while back and had been wanting to try it, but I don’t like to run the oven just for roasting up some veg- I prefer to keep it more efficient than that. So, since I had a whole bunch of sweet potatoes from the trip to the market, I popped them all in the oven while the pork was roasting, and then stuck what we didn’t eat into the fridge to make this soup the next day. It came out really nicely and was a hit all around.

What you’ll need:

– Food processor or motorized chopper/blender thing to grind up the nuts into a smooth puree

Stock pot or large pot with a minimum capacity of 12 quarts (You can scale the recipe down if you don’t have a pot large enough to handle this)

– Immersion Blender (aka stick blender- Optional– it just makes the soup pureeing a LOT easier)

4-6 lbs cooked sweet potatoes, peeled (I’ll include how I cooked mine below)

– 1/2 small to medium sized onion, chopped (I used a sweet onion, but any white or yellow onion would be good here)

– 2 Tbs olive oil

– 10-12 cups cooking liquid (I used a combination of vegetable broth, squash soup base I made and canned last summer, and the liquid the sweet potatoes cooked in. You could use vegetable broth and/or chicken broth, but I highly recommend using the sweet potato cooking liquid, as it gives a little extra oomph to the soup flavor)

– 1 c macadamia nuts, unsalted, soaked and pureed (if you don’t have macadamias, cashews would work here, too- if you want the macadamia flavor, but are using cashews, try adding a teaspoon or so of unsweetened flaked coconut to the pot at the same time as the cooking liquid)

 seasonings of your choice (I used about 1 Tbs of thyme, and the squash soup base added approximately 1/4 tsp marjoram, a dash of onion powder and some salt)

– 1 Tbs cider vinegar

What to do:

Cooking the sweet potatoes:

Give the sweet potatoes a quick scrub under running water. Cut them up into chunks that are maybe 2-3 inches on a side. I don’t bother peeling them at this point. Put them in an oven-safe pan. (I lined mine with foil for easy clean-up.) Important: No potatoes should be above the edge of the pan. Add water so it’s about halfway up the wall of the pan, and either put on a tight fitting lid or seal the top with foil. You don’t want the water to escape as steam, so really crimp that foil down on the pan edges. Pop them in a preheated oven at about 350F for an hour or so, until the sweet potatoes are fully cooked. Take off the lid and allow them to cool enough to be handled.

Making the soup:

At least 6 hours before starting the soup, pour a few cups of hot water over the macadamia nuts and allow to soak for an hour or 2. Drain the water, rinse the nuts, add more water and allow to soak until you’re ready to start the soup.

Change the water in the nuts again.

Chop up the onion, and, in a stock pot (or whatever you like to use for soup), saute in the oil until translucent. Add the thyme and marjoram, giving it a stir to distribute the herbs. Add about 10 cups of cooking liquids and heat this soup base over medium to medium high.

While the soup base heats, peel the sweet potatoes and add them to the pot as you go. (The peels compost very nicely!) Once all of the sweet potatoes are added, put the lid on your pot and allow it to come to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it’s boiling, remove the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Taste, and adjust your seasonings. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.

Drain & rinse your macadamias one last time, then add them to the bowl of your food processor, along with about 1 cup of your soup base. Puree until as smooth as possible- any little bits that are not ground up now will be in the finished soup.

Remove the soup from the heat, add the macadamia puree to the pot, stir & put the lid back on. Walk away for 10-15 minutes.

At this point, you can either blend the soup in batches in your food processor or use your stick blender to puree it in the pot. Use more of the cooking liquid to thin it out, if the consistency is too thick for you.

Once it’s pureed, give it another taste to check if it needs salt or any other seasoning adjustments and then serve with bread and butter (a nice cornbread would be a perfect accompaniment to this soup!)

BONUS: Since there’s no dairy, leftovers can be frozen without worry of separation or curdling!

Please don’t forget to let me know what you think if you give this a try!

Hello again! More recipes for you… Orange Thyme & Tarragon Salad Dressing

Well hello there! It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted, so this post is going to have 2 recipes!

Life has been a bit hectic here, with the weird weather and tax season, amongst other things, but hopefully we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging next week…

For now, though, I’m just going to get these recipes posted for your enjoyment!

Recipe 1: Super Simple Salad Dressing

We love a good, hearty salad in this house. Back before we had our allergy testing done, I used to make what I call The Uber Salad for dinner at least once a week in the summer, and it was a big hit- some nice romaine or mache/corn salad greens (sometimes a bag of mixed salad greens), a bunch of mix-ins, and flavorful croutons, all tossed together with a nice dressing.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but my mom, who lives with us, is sensitive to cane sugar, red pepper & garlic. She & the hubby are sensitive to eggs, the hubby & I are supposed to avoid black & white pepper, and all 3 of us are sensitive to gluten & dairy. Have you ever read the ingredient list on a bottle of salad dressing? It is pretty much impossible to find a salad dressing that doesn’t have at least 1 of them, and most commercial dressings contain several of them.

We weren’t willing to give up the salads, so I’ve been using dressings with the lowest level of allergens in them, while I’ve sought out a decent dressing I can make from scratch. I made this one for our dinner salad earlier in the week, and it definitely fits the bill!

The recipe is very loosely based on one similar to this:
http://whatscookingamerica.net/Salad/OrangeBalsamicVinaigrette.htm

Tips:

Note 1: As always, all measurements are by best guess. I did not use any measuring equipment, and am gauging these guesses based on the jar in which I made it being a 1-pint canning jar.

Note 2: This is one of those things that really benefits from some rest time. If at all possible, make it at least 2 hours before you are planning to eat it. (It can safely be stored in the fridge for at least a few days.)

What you need:

A container to mix it in. I like to use a wide-mouth jar with a secure lid, because I like to be able to stick a mixing implement in to give it a stir, and I am a klutz who tends to spill things. You could use an old salad dressing bottle (that’s been thoroughly cleaned, of course) or a bowl, or whatever

1/2 c oil. I used vegetable oil because it’s what I had on hand, but would have preferred olive oil. Really, though, any ‘light flavored’ oil would work.

1/2 c orange juice. I used my store bought Florida’s Natural brand ‘With Pulp’, again, because it’s what I had on hand. This is a pretty sweet orange juice, so if you’re using an OJ that is not so sweet, you might want to add a little less of the vinegar. It would probably be downright amazing with freshly squeezed OJ, too.

1/4 c vinegar. I used white wine vinegar, because it’s what my sniffer decided needed to go in there. A decent quality balsamic would also be fine. You could use cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, but might want to add a drizzle of honey to it (maybe 1 teaspoon), since they’re not as sweet as the White Wine & Balsamic vinegars.

1 Tbs dried minced onion

1/4 tsp dried tarragon

1/4 tsp dried thyme (I used powdered. If you’re using the dried and crumbled stuff, you might want to increase it to 1/2 tsp)

1/4 tsp dried summer savory

1/4 tsp ground chia seeds (OPTIONAL– I added chia seeds to give the dressing a little body. It’s a personal preference thing. If you don’t have them or don’t like them, feel free to use ground flax or ground sesame seeds, or just skip it.)

What to do:

Basically, put all of the ingredients into your container- first the liquids, give a stir, then the herbs, give a stir, then the chia seed powder, if you’re using it, and then give it one last stir to mix it all together nicely. Lid, cap or other wise cover it, and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. (Personally, I recommend giving it a stir and a taste test after about an hour, just to check if you want to adjust any of the seasonings.)

I’d say it should definitely keep safely in the fridge for 3 days, and might even possibly be good for a week. Use your own judgement after that 3 day mark. If it smells funny, looks funny or tastes funny, toss it!

As always, please let me know what you think if you decide to try this dressing recipe. I would love to have feedback, even if you think it’s awful!

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