Archive for ‘Gluten-Free’

December 4, 2017

Dump Soup – Perfect for a Lazy Day

This morning, I’m making dump soup. I’d like to say it’s because I’m having a relaxing day with nothing else to do. The truth is, I’m sick. I don’t feel like standing in the kitchen, but I want some soup to sip on.
veggies
The good news is, I have remnants of broccoli, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, carrots, celery, fresh rosemary, and ham in my refrigerator — all left over from last weekend’s family meal prep. I also have a bag of small red onions I picked up on sale. The other good news is that the broccoli has already been cleaned, the potatoes were peeled & sliced for scalloped potatoes (but wouldn’t fit in my dish), and the tomatoes were chopped for a salad. I can just dump everything in a pan, no prep required!!!!

Dump soup, unlike a carefully prepared stew, doesn’t require chopping. It doesn’t require potatoes that haven’t turned dark. You don’t need to cut the leaves off of the celery or pull the rosemary off its stem. You can just dump cleaned veggies in a large pot, season with salt, pepper, garlic (dump some fresh in if you have it), and any other herbs or spices that compliment your flavor profile, then add meat & water.
ham
Any leftover or uncooked meat will work — ham, chicken, and bacon are my favorites. Dump soup is a great place to use chicken or turkey necks, hearts, livers, and gizzards. It’s the perfect excuse to skip closely trimming a ham bone. Leaving some meat on the bone will add even more flavor to the soup. If you don’t have meat handy, mixing some chicken stock in your water will deepen the flavor of the vegetable broth.

If you’ve ever made chicken stock, you know that once the broth is flavored, you remove all of the chicken and vegetables because they’re overcooked and have given most of their flavor over to the broth. Dump soup is the same. What you’re going for initially is a flavorful broth. Slowly simmering your mixture for 3-4 hours will result in a rich broth. The lengthy cooking time is another reason it’s perfect for a lazy morning or a day you’re stuck at home doing chores.

After 3-4 hours, dump in whatever you’d like to chew on in your soup. First, remove all the meat, vegetables, and herbs. I don’t worry about straining out little remnants, but you can if you want a clear broth. Today, I’ll probably dump in some brown rice, but pasta, quinoa, or lentils are good options as well. If I felt like spending more time in the kitchen, I might add chopped vegetables and/or meat.
biscuits
I’ll serve today’s dump soup with some ratty looking gluten-free biscuits I threw together this morning. I keep the dry ingredients mixed up so that on days like today, I all I have to do is cut in some shortening and add the milk and buttermilk. That means it takes about 5 minutes to mix the biscuits and get them in the oven. Obviously, I didn’t take much time rolling or cutting these! A piece of fresh fruit will round out the meal.

And I’ll have plenty of everything left for tomorrow. Of course, I hope I’m feeling better by then but you never know. Having something warm and comforting already prepared makes me feel less anxious and able to rest more easily while I try to get ahead of this virus. There’s also something comforting about the delicious aroma filling the house.

In a matter of minutes, I cleaned out 80% of the contents of my refrigerator, made the house feel comforting, and created several meals — all by making dump soup. Not bad for a morning when I’m mostly lying around watching TV!

November 13, 2017

The Holidays…Already? How About a Cornbread Salad!

Can it really be the holidays…already; how about a cornbread salad? It would be an understatement to say this year has flown by. I’ve been running full speed ahead the whole time so it seems like only 6 months have passed. Now it’s time to get my mind and menu ready for Thanksgiving. I’m not sure I’m prepared, but that’s probably beside the point. I have to get ready anyway.

In my family, the Thanksgiving crowd varies widely from year to year. Some years I’ve hosted 26 and some years there have only been two of us. That means every year requires a slightly different plan. This year my plan is to keep it simple, but I also want to keep it interesting!
stuffing
Instead of cornbread stuffing, I think I’ll try a cornbread salad. I found this recipe in my mom’s recipe scrapbook. It was cut out of a newspaper and it’s called Mississippi Cornbread Salad. The recipe calls for cornbread mix.

In order to make it gluten-free, I’ll start with a Cooking2Thrive cornbread recipe.

Make some cornbread

1/4 cup shortening
1 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 cup white corn meal
1/2 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup buttermilk

Place shortening in cast iron skillet & put in oven to melt while you mix batter. In a medium bowl, mix together white and yellow corn meal, sorghum flour, sugar, and salt. Add baking powder and mix thoroughly. Add egg, milk, and buttermilk. Stir just until mixed.

Remove skillet from oven. Swirl melted shortening around in skillet until sides are coated. Pour hot shortening into batter and stir. Place batter in hot skillet. Place skillet in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove skillet from oven and place on rack to cool. Turn cornbread out of pan.

Gather the salad ingredients
Once the cornbread is cool, I’ll crumble it. In the meantime, I’ll gather the other ingredients:
bell pepper
One envelope of Ranch style dressing mix. (Hidden Valley does not currently contain gluten)
8 ounces sour cream
1 cup gluten-free mayonnaise
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped orange or red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onion
4 cups cooked pinto beans, drained (or 2 16-ounce cans)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
3 1/2 cups whole kernel corn, cooked & drained (frozen, canned, or fresh)
10 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

Make the dressing
In a small bowl, make the dressing by combining the dressing mix, sour cream, and mayonnaise until blended. Set the dressing aside.

Combine tomatoes and peppers
In a second bowl, combine the tomatoes, bell peppers and green onions and toss gently.

Assemble the salad
I’m going to assemble the salad in a large trifle bowl, but any 3-quart bowl will do. Place half of the crumbled cornbread in the bowl. Top with half of the beans, the tomato mixture, the cheese, the bacon, the corn, and the dressing. Repeat with a second layer. Cover and chill for 3 hours.

That’s it. The salad is done. Now, since I haven’t tried this yet, I can’t tell you if it’s going to be good, but all of the ingredients go well together. My only question would be one of proportion. When I make a combination like this, I eyeball it and add veggies until it feels right to me.

I’m fine with preparing a dish for the first time and serving it to guests. That doesn’t mean the recipe always turns out perfectly. It just means that I don’t worry too much about a failure. I’ll have plenty of food on the table even if I have to throw one dish in the trash. If it’s good, but not great, I’ll improve it next time.

So, let’s give this simple, interesting recipe a try and see whether we should make it a tradition! Join me?

Follow-up note: I made this salad for Thanksgiving. It was good enough that I have plans to come up with a Cooking2Thrive version that we’ll tweak and test until it’s better than good. After all, we always aim for superior deliciousosity!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

May 23, 2017

Salad Days

Could these be your salad days? I know they’re mine.

Spring always delivers sweet, tender greens perfect for salad – Oak Leaf, Black Seeded Simpson, Deer Tongue, Bibb, Cos, Green Leaf, and Buttercrunch. Bitter Arugula, Kale, Frisée, and spicy micro mixes widen the flavor field. Toppings abound in green onions, radishes, salad turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and fresh herbs. Mix, match, and combine your favorites…yum!
leafy greens
It’s not unusual for me to serve a salad as part of a family meal, but when it’s just me I have to be a little more crafty. I may not want to take the time to clean and chop a salad for one. My way around that reluctance is to create a basic salad mix and store it in the fridge. At meal time, I can grab a handful to throw on my plate or I can add ingredients to create a specific flavor profile or entree salad.
sld base
I currently have a salad made of red and green spring mix, chopped green onions, and carrots stored in a Glad® Ovenware 9 x 12 pan in the refrigerator. These pans work great for this purpose. They’re rectangular, not too tall, and easy to stack. I can fill a second container with a salad of arugula or spinach and store it on top of the existing one.

For dinner yesterday, I topped a large bowl of this salad base with tuna salad and almonds. It was crunchy, satisfying, and ready in 5 minutes. Having something green I can quickly prepare helps keep me on track when I fill my schedule too full. When it’s just as easy to reach for the salad as it is to reach for something less healthy, I’m more likely to reach for the salad.

I’ve also discovered that salad is appreciated when family and friends gather for the birth of a baby, a health crisis, or the loss of a loved one. Last year when DJ was born, I mixed a variety of salads each week and delivered them to Ben & his wife. It was easy for me and a great addition to all the casserole dinners their friends delivered. Every time I offered assistance in those early days of baby fatigue, Ben asked for more salad.

Leafy greens don’t just provide a filling crunch, they’re packed with vitamins like A, C, K, and folate plus minerals like potassium and calcium. Delivering all this nutrition with a maximum of fiber and a minimum of calories makes leafy greens a great food choice. Of course, it’s easy to make them less healthy by overdressing or over adorning a salad.
dressing
I like to make salad dressing just before serving the salad and I usually serve it on the side. Yogurt or olive oil make a good base for homemade dressings, and flavored balsamic vinegar, fresh squeezed juice, or unsweetened fruit juice can add interesting flavors.

Here’s a vinaigrette I often pair with arugula. Just mix it all up and let it sit for a few minutes before dressing the salad.

1/2 cup Just Black Cherry juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp water
3/4 tsp salt to taste
1/8 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 pinch garlic powder

Some of my favorite salad toppings are blueberries, strawberries, ripe pears, oven roasted pumpkin seeds, spiced pecans, raw sunflower seeds, raw almonds, raw cashews, goat cheese, bleu cheese, green peas, homegrown tomatoes, green onions, fresh basil, and fresh mint. I also appreciate black beans, avocado, red bell pepper, white cheddar, and crispy bacon.

However you mix it, top it, flavor it, and dress it, having a basic salad prepared is sure to increase your consumption of leafy green vegetables. That can’t be a bad thing. And all the fresh, tender greens make spring my favorite time of year for salad days!

http://www.webmd.com/diet/healthy-kitchen-11/leafy-greens-rated

https://www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/dark-green-leafy-vegetables/

http://www.rwknudsenfamily.com/


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

March 7, 2017

Five Minute Gluten-Free Dessert Tricks

Everyone needs some five minute gluten-free dessert tricks. When the kids start asking for a treat on a rainy school night, I bet you think of your mom’s five minute desserts. I’m pretty sure all moms have them.

I grew up on a farm about seven miles from town and 10 from the closest grocery store. If I wanted dessert some evening, no one was baking and no one was driving me to the store. Instead, my mom’s go-to treat was what she called “angels-on-horseback”.
farm
If I search that name online, I find s’mores, but my mom’s version was a saltine cracker topped with a slice of American cheese (from a cheese brick, not a sliced single), and half of a large marshmallow placed torn side down. She’d place these on a baking sheet under the broiler until the top of the marshmallow was toasty brown and they were ready to serve. The mix of salty from the cracker and sweet from the marshmallow balanced by the slight tang of the cheese was a perfect bite for a kid who wanted dessert.

My mom had a couple of other tricks up her sleeve. She sometimes made icing with milk, butter, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla and then put it between two graham crackers. That was her favorite, so you might find some already made and wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter if you looked around for a minute.

I suppose these days it’s more likely that the pantry has prepackaged cookies, snack cakes, or oatmeal cream pies, but in the gluten-free home, that may not be the case. There are too many expensive, mediocre gluten-free products on the grocery store shelves. Homemade is better, but can mean that dessert is reserved for special occasions rather served every day. If that’s the case at your home, you need some five minute gluten-free dessert tricks handy when the family gets a craving.

Here are a few and they’re all gluten-free:

Stuffed dates. I often keep dates in the pantry. I like to use them to sweeten muffins, but I also like to eat them. If you have some dates, raw pecan halves and smoked gouda cheese, you’ve got dessert. Just slice a pitted date lengthwise and then insert a pecan half and a thin slice of smoked gouda. Voilà, dessert.
dates
Chocolate dipped grapes. This is a great one person dessert and it will encourage your children to eat fruit. Place 2.5 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter in the microwave. Heat for 30 seconds and stir. Place back in the microwave for 15 – 30 seconds depending on the power of your microwave. Stir until smooth. Dip grapes, fresh pineapple, cherries, strawberries, bananas, or dates in the mix and eat. Cold grapes are my favorite.

Chocolate oatmeal. Fix a packet or cup of instant, single-serving gluten-free oatmeal. Once it is cooked, stir in a handful of chocolate chips and a spoonful of marshmallow cream.

No bake cookies. For a more elaborate dessert that the whole family can share, you can stir up some no bake cookies by combining 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, and 2 tbsp water in a medium microwaveable bowl. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. Add 2 packets of maple brown sugar gluten-free oatmeal and stir until evenly distributed. Drop in spoonfuls on wax paper and let sit at room temperature until hardened – about 20 minutes or eat them with a spoon right away.

These gluten-free dessert tricks are all fast and easy! They’re also a tiny bit healthier than the typical dessert. Each one of them contains something healthy – fruit, whole grain, or nuts and a minimum of sugar. Some of them are based on single servings providing automatic portion control.

Best of all, these simple solutions satisfy that desire for a sweet treat after a meal. Who knew gluten-free dessert could taste this good with this little effort?