Category Archives: Gluten Free

Creamy Cashew Mac topped with Crunchy Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

I am blessed with a very cool little group of frugal friends. No bargain goes unnoticed, no opportunity to simplify life is missed, and nothing is wasted. Even food scraps are transformed and repurposed into valuable time-saving and money-saving morsels.

In that spirit, I am turning to my own cupboards to see what little treasures they will yield. Honestly, this is great fun! Suspending grocery shopping in lieu of creating nourishment from nothing makes one feel imbued with superpowers. (Okay, I am easily amused.) It can be empowering to to keep your money in the bank while, at the same time, feeding your family very well.

Full bellies. More shelf space. Saving money. Nothin’ wrong with that.

So what needs to be saved from rotting today?

Tortilla Chips and Raw Cashews that had been ground into flour.

Perfect! The easiest stale tortilla repurpose may be the crunchy topping. And cashews can be so creamy. Spice them up and we may have something. By the way, these chips are really good. I don’t know why we did not eat them all. You can use any corn chips or tortilla chips you have on hand.

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Vegan Creamy Cashew Mac topped with Crunchy Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

First, pasta shells. We always have these. Nothing special, Just leave these slightly undercooked because they will be baked again later. These happen to be gluten free.

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Next, the creamy delicious savory sauce. And it happens to  be gluten free and vegan! The cashew “flour” is soaked overnight, then combined with almond milk and spices. You can see more images here.

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Now pour the yummy sauce over the al dente pasta.

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Mix it together… slowly for your enjoyment.

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Fill ramekins or a small baking dish. (A little extra paprika for fun. Not needed.)

cashew mac creamy cheesy

cashew mac creamy cheesy

Now crumble up your tortilla chips, any tortilla chips you have on hand. Pile them up on top. Bake until stale chips are revived and crunchy and delicious. Sauce should be hot and melty.

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cashew mac creamy cheesy

 

cashew mac creamy cheesy

Creamy Cashew Mac topped with Crunchy Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips

Pureed cashew makes a delicious and creamy sauce. In this recipe are some flavors that I like. Feel free to change up the flavors to any that you like!

To make Cashew Mac

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, leaving it slightly undercooked
  2. Make sauce and combine with pasta, put in a baking dish
  3. Crumble tortilla chips and top pasta and sauce with them
  4. Bake at 350° for a few minutes, just until the cheese is heated and chips are toasty

Ingredients for Easy Creamy Cashew Sauce:

Yields about 1 cup sauce. Perfect for about 2 cups pasta.

  • 1 cup raw cashews, processed into a coarse flour*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced or roasted
  • 1/2 – 1 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • 1/4 t turmeric (if you have an aversion to turmeric, you can leave it out)
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast – more if you like
  • 1/8 cup almond milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional flavorings: a little miso, mustard, or cayenne will change up the flavors

Method

Add water to cashew flour. Cover and put in the fridge to soak overnight.

Add all other ingredients to the soaked cashew flour. Place into a food processor or blender and puree until the texture is smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings, as desired.

If you like the viscosity, you are done! If sauce it too think, stir in a little more almond milk. If it is too thin, heat sauce in a small cooking pot on a low-medium heat to reduce it to the thickness you like.

Add to pasta, vegetables, anything you like!

*You can grind raw cashews into a coarse flour using a food processor, pulsing until you get the texture you like. Because you will be blending this again later, you can dispense with the processor and just mince cashews with a knife before soaking.

Enjoy!

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Classic Falafel – Vegan, and Gluten-Optional!

Eat a good falafel once and you understand why they are so loved. Crunchy on the outside, fluffy and bread-like on the inside. Packed with earthy, fresh, lemony herbaceous flavor, they taste sinful, but are actually all good! If you dip them into cool creamy tzatziki sauce, you have taken them to yet another level. Add bright summer tomatoes and crisp lettuce, then throw it all on flatbread and you have an unbeatable lunch or dinner.

The perk: its all plants. …well, except for the tzatziki sauce, but even that it packed with cucumber (and you could do a vegan version of that too). All those textures and savory flavors scream plant-based diet suitable for anyone, including carnivores.

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falafel
falafel

Here’s how… So Easy!

Soak chickpeas in water and let them sit overnight. You do not have to cook them or anything! Just soak them; it couldn’t be easier.

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Here is your flavor, your texture, all the yumminess you need.

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Drain chickpeas (after they have soaked overnight). Lay them out to somewhat dry. You do not want them to be soaking wet. Finely mince parsley, cilantro, and garlic.

You can use any combination of parsley and cilantro that you like. I like either equal parts, or a little more parsley than cilantro.

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Put all ingredients, except flour, into a food processor. Pulse until the chickpeas are minced. In order to have a nice texture with a bite, do not turn your mixture into mush. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt, if desired.

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Scrape down the sides and pulse once more.

If you feel you need a bit of a binder, you can add chickpea flour or all purpose flour. Pulse a couple more times just to incorporate the flour.

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In a sauce pot, heat cooking oil. I like coconut oil for its digestibility. Peanut oil is also good. Any oil that can withstand high heat will work. Using a portion scoop for uniformity, or just your hands, form little balls.

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Fry them until they are golden brown on all sides, flipping as needed. Remove falafel from oil using a slotted heat-safe spoon and set aside to drain, either on a rack or paper towels.

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Serve falafels over salad, or rice, or in a pita pocket or on flatbread with tzatziki sauce, tomato, lettuce, and cucumber.

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falafel
falafel
falafel

Classic Falafel – Vegan, and Gluten Optional

As-is, this recipe is delicious! But it is also easily customizable. Change up the flavors around anyway you like! Make them more lemony, add heat, whatever floats your falafel boat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
  • 1 cup combination of parsley and cilantro, minced (equal parts, 1/2 cup each is very good)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about one small onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/4 t. coriander
  • 1/4 t. paprika
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1 t. salt (or to taste)
  • optional: cayenne, to taste (if you can take the heat, this is highly recommended)
  • optional binder: chickpea flour or all purpose flour (1 T or more, as desired)
  • cooking oil, enough to fry falafel (I like coconut oil, or a blend of peanut and coconut oils)

Method

Drain chickpeas (they should have soaked overnight). Lay them out to somewhat dry. You do not want them to be soaking wet. Finely mince parsley, cilantro, and garlic. Put all ingredients, except flour, into a food processor. Pulse until the chickpeas are minced. In order to have a nice texture with a bite, do not turn your mixture into mush. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt, if desired.

If you feel you need a bit of a binder, you can add chickpea flour or all purpose flour. Pulse a couple more times just to incorporate the flour.

In a sauce pot, heat cooking oil. I like coconut oil for its digestibility. Peanut oil is also good. Any oil that can withstand high heat will work. Using a portion scoop for uniformity, or just your hands, form little balls. In pot of cooking oil at medium- high heat, fry falafel until they are golden brown on all sides, flipping as needed. Remove falafel from oil using a slotted heat-safe spoon and set aside to drain, either on a rack or paper towels.

Serve falafels over salad, or rice, or in a pita pocket or on flatbread with tzatziki sauce, tomato, lettuce, and cucumber.

Enjoy!

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Super Simple Seed Crackers

Seriously simple! All seeds, nothing else. No nuts. No flours. Which makes this cracker, of course, gluten-free, common allergen-free, vegan, and paleo. Nice!

In my circles, there is this really cool little group of money-saving, brainstorming, efficient, simple-living, inspiring women. They share deals and coupons, as well as ideas and resources for clean, debt-free, productive, purpose-driven living. I love these ladies!

The current group challenge is aimed at the kitchen, specifically the pantry… those items that sit there taking up space when they could be used to feed our families and save a trip to the grocery store. That’s money in the bank! The challenge is to scout out those items in our own pantries and use them up.

In my fridge and pantry, I have little bags of seeds. Hemp, pumpkin, chia, flax, sunflower, black sesame, white sesame, things that are not labelled… you get the idea. Seeds don’t last forever. It is time to use the seeds. Seeds can be used a thousand ways, which frankly is why I have the seeds, but I would like to use these seeds in one quick application.

The solution? Crackers! Gluten-free homemade sesame flavored crackers. For snacking, to serve along side soup, do dip, whatever. These nutrient-packed little bites will be eaten easily in cracker form.

Challenge accepted. Seeds done!

seed crackers

Here is the super simple method.

I am using a blend of about equal parts sunflower, pumpkin, and white sesame seeds, and throwing in a couple teaspoons, maybe, of flax seeds. When water is added, the flax seeds will act as a binder. Sunflower seeds create a great flour-like cracker texture. And pumpkin and sesame seeds will provide a pleasing flavor without having to add anything else but salt.

Maybe we will enjoy these with a simple asian soup, egg drop or wonton. I happen to have all the ingredients, including some soup stock in the freezer. 🙂 Still in the spirit of the challenge.

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In a mini food processor, grind your seeds down to almost a flour.

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Some clumping is fine. For texture, it is nice to leave some seed pieces in tact. Mix in salt and any seasonings you would like to use. Taste. Adjust seasoning if needed.

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Place seed “flour” into a bowl and add water, a little bit at a time. Combine seed flour with water to form a dough. You need very little water to do this.

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On a lightly oiled silpat or parchment-lined cookie sheet, press dough into a flat rectangle.

Note: My silpat is rather heavily oiled here, with olive oil. I thought about turning up the heat to get crispy edges. Oily crispy edges of this sometimes taste a little like bacon. Just an option.

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Cover with parchment to easily press or roll it flatter. I like a very thin cracker; you can go as thin as you like. Very thin crackers will be more delicate.

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Remove parchment. Pre-cut slices with a pizza cutter or sharp knife so they will easily break apart when baked.

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seed crackers

In a low oven, 200º or less, place cookie sheet. Prop the door slightly open with a wooden spoon to help crackers dry. Bake for about 2 hours. Check periodically.

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If you like the texture, remove crackers, break apart and serve. You can leave them in longer if you want them dryer.

seed crackers

seed crackers

Enjoy!

Super Simple Seed Crackers

This simple cracker is good on it’s own, but even better when added to a snack tray with fruit and cheeses! Also, try mixing in spices and herbs, or even veggie pulp from juicing. You can go just about anywhere with this method. 

Ingredients:

  • (1 cup) seeds – today I have a blend of equal parts sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame
  • about 1 T flax seeds – whatever seeds you are using, added flax or chia seeds will give your crackers a binder
  • salt, to taste
  • water
  • optional: spices and herbs, whatever you like

Method

In a mini food processor, grind your seeds down to almost a flour. Some clumping is fine. For texture, it is nice to leave some seed pieces in tact. Mix in salt and any seasonings you would like to use. Taste. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Place seed “flour” into a bowl and add water, a little bit at a time. Combine seed flour with water to form a dough. You need very little water to do this.

On a lightly oiled silpat or parchment-lined cookie sheet, press dough into a flat rectangle. Cover with parchment to easily press or roll it flatter. I like a very thin cracker; you can go as thin as you like. Very thin crackers will be more delicate. Remove parchment. Pre-cut slices with a pizza cutter or sharp knife so they will easily break apart when baked.

In a low oven, 200º or less, place cookie sheet. Prop the door slightly open with a wooden spoon to help crackers dry. Bake for about 2 hours. Check periodically. If you like the texture, remove crackers, break apart and serve. You can leave them in longer if you want them dryer. I have set the oven under 200º (on keep warm) and left them in the oven overnight (door still propped with a wooden spoon). They dry out and have a texture somewhere between baked and dehydrated. Very good!

Note: this recipe method suggests beginning with one cup of seeds because this amount fits easily onto a cookie sheet. You can make as much as you like!

Enjoy!

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Black Bean Hummus

If you ever tire of hummus, how about changing it up a bit with black beans! Switching out chickpeas for black beans takes that familiar-yet-exotic something we love about hummus and adds a deeper, richer flavor.

Use black bean hummus in recipes, as a dip or a spread, the same way you use any hummus, to add interest to your dishes. I love it spread on a tortilla and piled high with fresh raw spinach and summer tomatoes dressed simply with olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Mmmmm

A perk… it is difficult to find naturally gray food. I wish I had thought of this for the last game day when gray was needed to represent team colors! This comes out a beautiful light gray with black flecks. Really pretty! Images do not do it justice.

black bean hummus

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black bean hummus

black bean hummus

Organic restaurant style corn tortilla chips and black bean hummus = a natural pairing.

Party food. Movie night. Family night. Yes, please.

black bean hummus

Black Bean Hummus

For a delicious twist, use as a dip, a sandwich spread, or in any dish you make with hummus.

Ingredients:

  • cooked black beans, 1 3/4 – 2 cups (equivalent to one 15 oz can)
  • optional: 1/2 onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed, skins discarded (optional: roasted if using canned beans)
  • 1 1/2 t. lemon juice (or 3/4 t. ume plum vinegar for a flavor variation)
  • 1/4 cup tahini (see noted below)
  • 1/2 t. cumin powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional: cayenne or hot sauce, to taste
  • optional: garnish with cilantro and/or a drizzle of olive oil

Method

If you are using dried beans: Soak beans in water for at least an hour, or overnight. Rinse and strain beans. Place beans into a pot, add garlic cloves, and cover beans with water. If you want onion flavor, add that in too. Simmer until beans are tender. Drain, saving the bean broth. Add salt. to taste.

If using canned beans: Drain and rinse. Garlic can be minced raw, or you can roast your garlic for a deeper and sweeter flavor.

Combine all ingredients and put them into a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides once or twice. Use just enough water, or bean broth if you cooked your beans, to loosen the mixture as it purees.

Taste puree and add salt, pepper, additional flavorings as desired. Garnish and serve with chips, veggie dippers, or use as a sandwich or wrap spread.

Notes: If you do not have tahini, you can grind about 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds, then add a little oil to loosen it (olive oil or nonGMO canola), and add a couple drops of sesame oil. In a mini food processor of blender, puree until smooth. Salt, to taste. I used sunflower seeds flavored with sesame oil in this hummus because those things were in my pantry. It hit all the right notes!

Enjoy!

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Hash with Adzuki Sausage

I could eat this every morning. But that would be much too much potato.

The one real “trick” to making a good hash is in the treatment of the potato. Other than that, you just need lots of good flavor. In this version, fresh crisp green pepper melds with pungent onion, savory, spicy, Italian adzuki sausage, and creamy-crispy salty potato to make a very tasty bite.

You can use any sausage you like; click here for the recipe for Adzuki Bean Italian Sausage. Happens to be vegan. No soy. No wheat. No nuts. So much flavor!

hash with adzuki bean sausage

The one real “trick” to making a good hash…

First, brown your potato.

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Then smoosh it with a potato masher. Nest, let it just sit there getting all browned and crispy on the bottom. Let it just build and develop flavor for you. Mmm

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Salt it, pepper it, stir it around, and mix in your sausage.

Delicious and DONE!

But if you are not making a vegan dish, a fried egg with a runny yolk will provide an easy sauce, softening the potato and making it amazing!

hash with adzuki bean sausage

hash with adzuki bean sausage

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Hash with Adzuki Sausage

With or without an egg on top, this is simple and delicious… provided your sausage is already made.

Ingredients

  • cooking oil
  • one small potato per person, small dice
  • green bell pepper, small dice
  • optional: thinly sliced onion
  • optional: jalapeno pepper, small dice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • adzuki bean sausage – get recipe here

Method

In a skillet, saute potatoes in oil. Add onion. When potatoes start to brown, add green bell pepper and jalapeno pepper, if using. Using a potato masher, break down and smash potatoes just a bit. Then allow them to sit in the skillet and get crispy brown on the bottom. This is flavor! When potatoes are to your liking, salt and pepper, to taste, stir them around, gently stir in some of your adzuki sausage, and remove them from the skillet.

If desired, top each serving with a fried egg.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Flourless Chocolate Muffin Tops

When a yummy dish from a brilliant blogger appears on my screen, I save it, fully intending to make the dish. But usually, it never gets made. Instead, I make whatever is already in my kitchen, usually from whatever is in season or was a good price.

Food blogs are fabulous sources for inspiration! Hopefully, you use this blog to inspire you to make your own kitchen masterpieces. Take an idea, tweak it, and make it your own.

Enter Dr. Sarah’s Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Recently, these little Paleo donuts from Dr. Sarah, The Paleo Mom, appeared in my newsfeed. Those adorable little donuts look so chocolaty and cakey that they prompted a little impulse baking. (most of the time, baking is my dear daughter’s job)

As if the lure of “chocolate” were not reason enough to try these, they are made from plantains! Plantains and bananas digest very well in my family. Nuts, not so much. This recipe calls for plantains, and no nuts. And did I mention, it adds chocolate. How can that possibly be wrong?

Dr. Sarah’s donut recipe calls for lard, palm shortening, or ghee, all of which would be delicious! She says that using coconut oil may make the donuts more chewy. So, being the rebel that I am, I had to try it with coconut. A few minutes after making a batch, they were all gone, so it seems that the coconut oil was fine. Because of the eggs, the texture is a little spongy. It is very light, and will definitely satisfy a sweet tooth.

I don’t have a cute little donut mold, but I do have a muffin top tray… so tweaking just a tiny little bit, this easy batter becomes 6 muffin tops.

This is what they look like as muffin tops. Not as cute as the little donuts, but just as delicious!

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Topped with chocolate. Mmmmm

flourless muffin tops

Filled with chocolate and turned into a chocolate muffin top sandwich…

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Chocolate cravings officially satisfied. 🙂

Paleo Mom’s Recipe for Chocolate Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Click here for details and to see those cute donuts!

Ingredients:

  • 1 large green plantain
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used organic chips from the bulk bin at Whole Foods)
  • 2 Tbsp lard, palm shortening, or ghee (I used coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean (optional) – vanilla bean is better! but I had extract & threw in a splash
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • generous pinch salt

Method

Preheat oven to 350º

  1. Peel and quarter plantain and put in a blender with the eggs.  Puree until completely smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and lard (coconut oil) together.  Now would also be a good time to plug in your mini-doughnut maker. – I just pulled out my handy-dandy muffin top tin. 🙂
  3. Add vanilla bean, baking soda and salt to the plantain-egg mixture in the blender.  Blend a few seconds to combine.
  4. Turn blender on low, remove the little insert in the lid so you can pour stuff in.  Slowly pour the warm chocolate-lard mixture into the blender and keep blending until it’s entirely incorporated.
  5. Fill your muffin top tins. Bake for just a few minutes, until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Carefully remove and let cool on a wire cooling wrack before glazing.  Repeat with remaining batter.

You can get the Paleo Mom method for glaze here. It looks great! I needed a quick chocolate topping, so I used the microwave on medium, 30 seconds at a time (stirring between 30-second intervals) to gently melt chocolate chips with a spoonful of coconut oil. Mmm

It worked.

Enjoy!

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Adzuki Bean Italian Sausage

The idea of vegan charcuterie has always intrigued me. It is the ultimate contradiction. And one I have frequently explored. The mock meats, fakons, tofurkeys, and quorn… leave a lot to be desired. But if you are working at home and you start with your own wheat gluten or soy, you can make an impressive and delicious charcuterie plate.

To make it a real challenge though, take out the wheat and soy. And if you have an intolerance to nuts, take those out too. What are you left with? Some pretty amazing ingredients.

When making a vegetable sausage, it is good to think of it as just that… a vegetable sausage. Not a “meat substitute”. The substitute thing implies an inferiority complex, and a bit of a martyrdom factor, as though it really aspires to be meat, but can only be a sad little wannabe, an imitation.

My vegan food does not have meat envy.

For this particular sausage, I want umami, heat, and Italian cuisine flavor that will keep me coming back for more. And nutrition (without tasting “nutritious”). It has to taste good. And it does! And it makes me feel good too.

adzuki bean italian sausage

Key Ingredients

Adzuki Beans make a great base. They are meaty, a great source of protein, iron, potassium, and folic acid. And they are often more easily digested than other legumes. They have a nutty flavor that will add to the dish without overwhelming, or making muddy, the other flavors.

You can usually pick up organic whole adzuki beans at an Asian market, or order them online. Soak them in water overnight, then cook them like you would cook any dried bean… bring to boil, simmer til tender. When 3 random beans are tender (eat 3 beans), not mush, the batch is probably cooked.

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Sundried tomatoes have a deep rich gorgeous umami flavor.  Try to find a good brand, preferably organic, to get the best flavor. You can easily reconstitute dried tomatoes by putting them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Just let them sit for 30 minutes.

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Then for this recipe, puree them into a paste. Flavor town!!!

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The secret ingredient.

Star anise, combined with tomato and pungent herbs, is the magical ingredient that makes this a sausage, and not just mushed beans. It is the ingredient that brings everything together and reminds you of pepperoni pizza.

If you buy it whole, you can grind it up in a mini food processor or with a mortar and pestle. If you do not have either of these tools, buying them will change your culinary world!

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Adzuki Bean Italian Sausage

Prepare your ingredients so that you can enjoy building your flavors. Mince onion, pepper, and mushroom very finely. If you use a food processor, be careful that you do not puree your ingredients. It should be minced for good texture.

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In coconut oil, begin sauteing your onion. You can be generous with the coconut oil. Sausage is better if it is fatty, not dry. Give onions time to get tender and begin to brown. This is flavor!

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Add hot pepper and mushrooms. Add more coconut oil, as needed.

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When mushrooms are cooked, add garlic. Cook for a few minutes. Do not allow garlic to burn.

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Add sundried tomatoes. For a deeper tomato flavor, add in a little extra tomato paste.

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Add cooked beans. To get a firm texture, be sure you have not overcooked your beans.

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Using a potato masher, break up all the beans. You do not need to completely pulverize your beans, you just need them all broken up and mingling with the other flavors.

Sausage is “forcemeat” I am forcing these meaty beans through my potato masher. 🙂

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Add the remaining ingredients. Taste, and adjust ingredients to your liking. Don’t forget salt and black pepper! Fresh hot peppers, red chili flakes, and black pepper hits different places on the tongue. They work beautifully all together. Spice up your sausage as much or as little as you like.

I like to add star anise until the mixture reminds me of pepperoni.

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If you would like your sausage to hold its shape a little better, remove from heat and stir in xanthum gum.

Divide mixture into even pieces and roll them into logs. Wrap them in cheesecloth, twist the ends to firm and shape sausages to your liking. This is not terribly pretty food. If you have kitchen string, you can tie the ends. If not, just twist them up.

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In a stainless steel calendar over a pot with water, steam sausages for about 15 minutes. This will allow them to begin to set, especially if you have added xanthum gum.  To help them set better, refrigerate them overnight. This is a great make-ahead recipe!

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When you are ready to serve your sausages, gently remove cheesecloth, slice and enjoy!

This is not the prettiest of foods. It doesn’t care. It has other virtues.

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adzuki bean italian sausage

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If you do not have xanthum gum, or just do not want to use it, your sausage will make a nice crumble, great for pizza toppings, over rice, in an omelette, etc. Here is a xanthum gum free sausage that I crumbled up.

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Enjoy any way you like! Consider a charcuterie plate with nut cheese and seed crackers. 🙂

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Adzuki Bean Italian Sausage

Ingredients

This is delicious as-is, but can also be a great base for any flavors you like. Because it is wheat and soy free, the texture is not as firm as a traditional sausage. It is delicious on a pizza, in hash, or as part of a charcuterie plate. Make it your own!

Ingredients

  • coconut oil, be generous… fatty sausage is a good thing
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • 1 hot pepper (I really like a serrano)
  • 1 cup finely minced mushrooms (will take about 8 mushrooms)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 T reconstituted and pureed sundried tomato paste
  • 1 T tomato paste, if needed
  • 1 cup cooked adzuki beans
  • 1 t ground star anise (at least, you may want more)
  • 1 t ground oregano
  • 2 t vegan worcheshire sauce
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • optional: 1 t xanthum gum -please see Chef’s notes below
  • cheesecloth

Method

Prepare your ingredients so that you can enjoy building your flavors. Mince onion, pepper, and mushroom very finely. If you use a food processor, be careful that you do not puree your ingredients. It should be minced for good texture.

In coconut oil, begin sauteing your onion. You can be generous with the coconut oil. Sausage is better if it is fatty, not dry. Give onions time to get tender and begin to brown. This is flavor! Add hot pepper and mushrooms. Add more coconut oil, as needed. When mushrooms are cooked, add garlic. Cook for a few minutes. Do not allow garlic to burn. Add sundried tomatoes. For a deeper tomato flavor, add in a little extra tomato paste.

Add cooked beans. To get a firm texture, be sure you have not overcooked your beans. Using a potato masher, break up all the beans. You do not need to completely pulverize your beans, you just need them all broken up and mingling with the other flavors. Add the remaining ingredients. Taste, and adjust ingredients to your liking. I like to add star anise until the mixture reminds me of pepperoni.

If you would like your sausage to hold its shape a little better, remove from heat and stir in xanthum gum.

Divide mixture into even pieces and roll them into logs. Wrap them in cheesecloth, twist the ends to firm and shape sausages to your liking. If you have kitchen string, you can tie the ends. If not, just twist them up. In a stainless steel calendar over a pot with water, steam sausages for about 15 minutes. This will allow them to begin to set, especially if you have added xanthum gum.  To help them set better, refrigerate them overnight. This is a great make-ahead recipe!

When you are ready to serve your sausages, gently remove cheesecloth, slice and enjoy!

Chef’s notes: Planning ahead makes this dish very easy! Cook your beans, ground your star anise, and puree your sundried tomatoes. You can even shop you veggies and store them in containers in the fridge. With this done, you can just build all the flavors in your skillet and enjoy the intoxicating aromas in your kitchen.

Fat is good in this. Water is not. Before filling your cheesecloth, use the skillet to cook out as much water as possible.

Xanthum gum does help the sausage to hold it’s shape so that you can slice into it. But to me, it adds a slightly gummy sticky texture which numbs the flavor. I prefer to leave out xanthum gum and crumble the sausage.

Enjoy!

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Jamaican Bammies

Looking for something cool to do with yuca (aka cassava or manioc)? How about simple crispy Jamaican Bammies? Versions of this recipe are all over the blogosphere, so finding who to credit for this method is difficult. Apparently this recipe is either a frequently copied recipe or a frequently used recipe, making it pretty standard. In any event, to follow is my slant, respecting tradition.

Yuca a very starchy, dough-like root that is acceptable in moderation in paleo diets. As the plant from which tapioca comes, it is a great replacer ingredient for gluten-free diners. Bammies are almost bread-like. This recipe is more potato-cake-like, because the grated root is not grounded into a flour. Feel free to dry and grind it, if you like! Traditionally, they are eaten with fried fish in Jamaica, the way that cornbread is enjoyed with fish in the southern and midwest U.S. But they could also work as a side for a vegetarian dinner, or even as a gluten-free pizza crust!

jamaican bammies

How to make Bammies

Wash and peel yuca. I like to cut it into large pieces, stand them on their ends, and run my knife down them to remove peel. Yuca contains toxins, most of which are in the peel. Get rid of the peel.

yuccapeelchop1

Grate yuca, using the smallest holes on the grater. It will smell like almonds in your kitchen. Delightful! But also deadly. There is cyanide in the juice. It is important that you cook this food thoroughly! There are also soaking methods which render bitter cassava safe.

This is not a raw foods diet food.

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You will end up with a big mound.

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Over a bowl to collect the juices, wrap grated yuca in cheesecloth or a clean cotton towel. Squeeze to remove as much juice as possible. You can juice a little at a time if you like. It is easier than trying to juice the whole batch. Really man-handle this yuca to get out as much of those toxic juices as you possibly can!

yuca_cheesecloth2

Fermentation

Option: At this point, you can soak the yuca in water and set it in a cool dark place to slightly ferment. This is a very good idea and a standard practice for a more thorough removal of toxins. It also gives the yuca a slightly acidic flavor. Allow yuca to soak for 3 days, changing the water once each day.

I like the soaking method because it allows you to prepare yuca in advance and cook it up later. I love a good make-ahead! When you are ready to use it, you will drain it and dry it thoroughly with a clean towel or paper towels. You can even spread it on a cookie sheet and gently dry it further in the oven.

If you are feeling very industrious, you can grab your mortar and pestle, beat this down to a fine paste, dry it, and turn it into a powder. (tapioca flour)

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Either reserve liquid to make Cassareep, or discard. Do not consume liquid raw! It is toxic raw.

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This yuca is not fermented. We will want to cook it very well!

Add salt to the grated and squeezed yuca. Combine well and break up lumps.

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Divide grated yuca into 2 equal parts.

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Heat a very lightly oiled frying pan to about a medium temperature. (I like cast iron)

When the pan is hot, add one half of the yuca to the middle.

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Spread and shape the mound until it is about 1/2 inch thick.

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Cook until set and golden brown, carefully flip the cake, and brown the other side. Set aside and repeat with the other half.

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Set your bammies aside.

When you are ready to fry your bammies…

Pour the coconut milk into a shallow dish. Cover the bammies in coconut oil and allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes. I like to do this one at a time, for easier handling.

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bammysoak2

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Heat cooking oil in a skillet, enough oil for frying, about 1/4 – 1/2 inch.

When oil is hot, carefully place a bammy into the pan and cook until browned. If oil does not cover the bammy, flip it over to brown both sides.

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Place on a rack or on paper towels to drain.

Alternatively, you can bake the bammies, lightly oiled (or buttered) on each side, in a preheated 350º oven for about 15 minutes.

jamaican bammies

Traditional Jamaican Bammies

This is a quick traditional method for making bammies. The texture will be more like a potato cake than a bread. If you ferment, pound, and dry the yuca, you can make your bammies more bread-like. But I would still use this as a gluten-free pizza crust, as-is.

Ingredients

  • fresh yuca, aka cassava or manioc
  • salt to taste
  • 1 – 2 cups coconut milk (or enough to cover bammies)
  • cooking oil (I like coconut)

Make the Bammies

  1. Wash and peel yuca
  2. Grate yuca, using the smallest holes on the grater
  3. Over a bowl to collect the juices, wrap grated yuca in cheesecloth or a clean cotton towel. Squeeze to remove as much juice as possible. Either reserve liquid to make Cassacreep, or discard. Do not consume liquid raw!
  4. Option: If you are going to soak and ferment yuca, you can do so at this stage. In a bowl, cover yuca with water, place in a cool.dry place. Allow to soak for 3 days, changing out the water each day. Drain and thoroughly dry yuca.
  5. Add salt to the grated and squeezed yuca. Combine well and break up lumps.
  6. Divide grated yuca into 2 equal parts.
  7. Heat a very lightly oiled frying pan to about a medium temperature. (I like cast iron)
  8. When the pan is hot, add one half of the yuca to the middle. Spread and shape the mound until it is about 1/2 inch thick.
  9. Cook until set and golden brown, carefully flip the cake, and brown the other side. Set aside and repeat with the other half.

When you are ready to fry your bammies…

  1. Pour the coconut milk into a shallow dish. Cover the bammies in coconut oil and allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes. I like to do this one at a time, for easier handling.
  2. Heat cooking oil in a skillet, enough oil for frying, about 1/4 – 1/2 inch.
  3. When oil is hot, carefully place a bammy into the pan and cook until browned. If oil does not cover the bammy, flip it over to brown both sides.
  4. Place on a rack or on paper towels to drain.

Alternatively, you can bake the bammies, lightly oiled (or buttered) on each side, in a preheated 350º oven for about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately. Traditionally, these are eaten with fried fish, or a vegetable dish like Callaloo.

Important Note: Cook yuca thoroughly! Discard the juice unless you cook it down completely. If yuca is eaten raw, it is toxic!

Enjoy!

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Vegan Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

This is for my friend Kayrie, and for anyone who loves a hearty soup that will fill you up without weighing you down. My tastebuds can’t seem to get enough of this soup! I enjoyed a warm bowl every morning until it was gone! …right down to the last tiny lentil.

This comes from ATK’s new vegetarian cookbook. Kayrie expressed interest in a good vegetarian dinner, and as I had been carrying around my new toy, aka “The America’s Test Kitchen Complete Vegetarian Cookbook”, I tossed it over to her and asked her to choose something. She leafed through the pages and quickly found this one – White Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Mustard Greens.

Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

This was a great choice! What a lovely evening we had chopping, dicing, and layering flavors. Sadly, we could not find white lentils anywhere. Whole Foods had black, yellow, green, orange, and a few other colors, but no white! So we used some french lentils from my pantry. French lentils hold up very well in a soup. Our mustard greens did not have much of a mustardy bite, but were still very delicious. When soup was done, we filled up our bowls and were surprised that after all those incredible aromas, the first bite was … mediocre. But the second bite was kinda good. The third was delicious. Which each bite, the flavors layered and built on the palate and each bite was more delicious than the last. The final bites were heaven.

Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

The recipe calls for adding a little lime/tomato salsa to the top of the bowl. Do not skip this! It enhances flavors exponentially. For a twist, Kayrie had the idea of adding okra to this soup, which also sounds amazing!

Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens

And, oh! This happens to be vegan  and gluten free too.

From America’s Test Kitchen

White Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Mustard Greens

This recipe comes straight from America’s Test Kitchen’s new book! (I am a fan)

Ingredients:

  • 2 t cumin seeds (we had only powder, and used a little less)
  • 3 T vegetable oil (we used coconut oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 2 T grated fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup white lentils, picked over and rinsed (we had french lentils)
  • 5 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 14 oz mustard greens, stemmed and chopped (we use stems too)
  • 3 plum tomatoes, cored and chopped fine (we just dice them & use everything)
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 3/4 c canned coconut milk

Method

  1. Toast cumin in 8-inch skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about one minute. Transfer to bowl. (Because we had only cumin powder, we skipped this and added cumin powder with the garlic in step two, to allow it to bloom)
  2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/2 t salt and cook until onion is softened and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Stir in half of jalapeno, ginger, and garlic (and cumin powder, if you are using powder in lieu of seeds) and cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in lentils, broth, bay leaf, turmeric, and one teaspoon toasted cumin and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave mustard greens in a bowl until wilted and tender, 3 to 4 minutes; transfer to colander and let drain. In a separate bowl, toss tomatoes, lime juice, remaining 1 teaspoon toasted cumin, remaining jalapeno, and 1/4 t salt. (See notes)
  4. Discard bay leaf from the soup. Puree 3/4 c soup and coconut milk in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds, then return to the pot. Stir in mustard greens and bring to brief simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top individual portions with tomato mixture, and serve.

Notes: I’m very sure there is a sound scientific reason for microwaving the greens; it is probably delicious! But I can’t bring myself to do that, for fear of losing nutrients. I threw them directly into the soup.

Enjoy!

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Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew

In honor of Star Wars Day…

Hardcore Star Wars fans will immediately notice the faux pas on this page. But it is not in the food! The food is good! When these spices, which will now be “Yoda spice” to me, hit the pan, the aroma is intoxicating. A feeling of peace and serenity fills the air, and the soul. And with power spices like turmeric and ginger, this would be fabulous for a young Jedi in training!

According to Wookipedia:

Rootleaf stew was a favorite meal of Jedi Master Yoda during his exile on Dagobah. It was a staple of his diet, supplemented by yarum seeds, mushroom spores, galla seeds, and sohli bark. Yoda prepared rootleaf stew the evening that he met Luke Skywalker.

To set the scene…

The only information that Wookiepedia has on the stew’s ingredients is that they “came from plants found on Dagobah”.  So with no access to Dagobah vegetation or knowledge of their Earth counterparts, we have to use a little guesswork to create Yoda’s Stew.

This was done for us by Craig Claiborne in 1983. Chef Claiborne was hired by NPR to create this dish for a 10-part radio drama aired on the station. This recipe is his, with a few tweaks.

Chef Claiborne’s recipe is printed below. Feel free to make it as-is, or tweak it any way you like! It does contain the primary elements, roots (ginger, turmeric), bark (cinnamon), and seeds (cumin, cardamon). There should probably be mushroom added, and I do question the availability of lamb on Dagobah, but the flavors synergize nicely!

Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew

To make this recipe easier, you can gather all the spices together first. This is your coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamon, cinnamon, and cloves… Yoda spice blend.

(This is pretty much a Garum Masala.)

yodaspice1

I am adding ground lamb because I have ground lamb. However, it seems very unlikely that there would be lamb-like creatures in the swamps of Dagobah. Maybe crustaceans, frogs, and snakes?

Cook the lamb first, then set it aside. Discard the grease from the pan. Keep the fond!

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Chef Claiborne’s recipe calls for A LOT of parsley. I just chopped up about one half of a bunch, then threw in, maybe a cup. Use any amount you like.

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Blooming spices!

A little bit of coconut oil in the pan will bloom your spices beautifully, bringing out all that wonderful flavor and aroma. Ahhhh

If you have sliced your onions, brown those first! Then bloom your spices and throw in your bay leaf and ginger too. My Jedi do not like onion pieces, so I grate my onion and garlic and add it after the spices and ginger. If desired, add heat in the form of peppers. I have habanero, so that will go in.

spicebloom

Seriously, happy happy aroma…

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Now we have spices, grated onion and garlic, ginger and bay leaf… add water, just enough to make it soupy and allow flavors to continue to meld. I think Yoda would approve of this sauce.

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The lamb goes back in…

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About 5 minutes before stew is thoroughly cooked, with flavors developed to your liking, add fresh chopped parsley. As much as you like.

If you want your stew more soupy, add water, or chicken broth.

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The last item to go in is the spinach. It takes seconds for it to cook. Chef Claiborne cooks his spinach separately, probably to ensure that it is not overcooked, and to improve the texture. I prefer to save time and throw it in at the very end… and I use a lot less spinach.

yodastew_4

Jedi ready!

Yoda Root leaf Stew

In case you did not notice the faux pas… I thought it would be cute to use my daughter’s Old Republic symbol in the background, only to be quickly reminded that Yoda’s time was thousands of years AFTER the Old Republic.

Whatever….

Yoda Root leaf Stew

The stew is REALLY good! Serve it at your Star Wars party. 🙂

Yoda Root leaf Stew

Stay tuned for my Vegan version! To be posted soon!

Yoda’s Rootleaf Stew by Craig Claiborne

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds lean lamb or other meat
  • Salt to taste; if desired pepper to taste
  • Freshly ground 6 tablespoons oil, light or vegetable or other
  • 6 cups parsley, finely chopped
  • cups onions; thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic; finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons ginger root; finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon hot green or red chilies; finely chopped, seeded
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamon; ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 pounds fresh spinach; well rinsed and tough stems removed

Method

  1. Cut the meat into one inch cubes, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet and add the meat, turning to brown the pieces on all sides.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in a Dutch oven or heavy casserole and add parsley, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring often until the onions are wilted. Add the meat, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger root, chilies, cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir. (I add about 2 teaspoons salt at this point, then adjust at end)
  4. Add water to cover, bring to boil and cover tightly. Let simmer about 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the meat is quite tender.
  5. Meanwhile, drop the spinach into a kettle of boiling water with salt to taste and let simmer about five minutes. Drain well and run under cold water. Drain thoroughly.
  6. Squeeze the spinach to remove all excess liquid. Place the spinach on a chopping block and chop coarsely.
  7. Add the spinach to the stew and stir. Let simmer together about five minutes.
  8. I like to serve this over white rice with steamed carrots.

Enjoy! And May the 4th be with you.

For great food ideas for your Star Wars theme event, please check out my new ebook on Amazon.

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