Category Archives: Budget-Friendly

Chicken Tomatillo Chili

I can’t stand soup when it’s hot outside. I often see coworkers enjoying soup for lunch all the year round, and I’m sweating just thinking about it if the temp outside is above about 75 degrees. (But I’ll drink hot coffee on an August morning, unless I’ve made cold brew coffee the night before. I’m weird, I know.) But now that it’s cooler, I’ve been incorporating more soups again.

I am the biggest fan of a soup that satisfies as a meal. Sure, simple starter soups are delicious, but I still have to make something else to accompany them. A stew or chili is substantial. Filling. I can also freeze leftovers and have soup ready for me to grab and take to the office for lunch. This chicken tomatillo chili not only meets these requirements, it’s also a budget stretcher, thanks to the beans. It’s a big bowl of comforting, warming, hearty deliciousness.

Chicken Tomatillo Chili (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 lb tomatillos, cut in half

2 medium yellow onions, sliced

6 garlic cloves, peeled

2 Hatch (similar to Anaheim or Big Jim) chiles (you can also substitute other fresh chiles, just mind the heat and adjust accordingly)

1 14-oz can whole tomatoes

1 3 ½ lb chicken, cut into pieces, breasts removed and set aside

6 c water

2 t ground cumin

1 t ground coriander

1 t dried oregano

2 t chipotle chile powder

1 t smoked paprika

1 t salt

¼ t black pepper

2 ½ c cooked black beans (or 2 cans, drained)

2 ½ c cooked white beans (or 2 cans, drained)

2 ½ c cooked pinto beans (or 2 cans, drained)

½ c chopped cilantro

Preheat broiler. Place tomatillos, sliced onions, garlic cloves, and chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for 5-7 minutes or until the skins of the tomatillos and chiles are blackened. Remove from broiler and allow to cool. Peel the skins from the chiles, and remove the stems and seeds. (It’s a good idea to do this with disposable [non-latex if you have a latex allergy] gloves on.) Place tomatillos, onions, garlic, chiles, and the can of whole tomatoes (with the juice) in a large soup pot. Add the chicken pieces (reserving the breasts) and the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and simmer for 20 minutes longer.

Using tongs, remove all of the chicken and place on a platter to allow to cool. Meanwhile, add the cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle chile powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to the pot and puree the broth and vegetables using a stick blender, or a regular blender in batches. Add the beans.

Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove the meat and shred with your fingers, and place back into the pot with the beans. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until flavors meld. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Serves 8-10.

Skillet Cornbread

That first cool breeze. That first day where the temps don’t reach 70 degrees. When we can open the windows and breathe a sigh of relief. The heat is finally over. That’s when my husband and I give each other knowing looks: it’s CHILI time!

I love to make a big pot of Texas Red chili. It’s spicy, hearty, and so satisfying. It takes the better part of a day to make, but what better way to pass Sunday afternoon then to have a pot simmering on the stove, with football on TV, while the cool autumn breeze blows in? I have one idea:

Make cornbread to go with the chili.

I am a huge fan of cornbread, but I’m kind of picky about it. It needs to be slightly sweet, and it must not be dry. This skillet cornbread fits those requirements perfectly. It’s moist, subtly sweetened with honey, and has these lovely crispy edges from the skillet that are delightful. Sure, you can stir in some whole corn kernels, jalapenos, cheese, or whatever you fancy, but it’s wonderful just as is.

Especially when sitting alongside that bowl of Texas Red.

Skillet Cornbread (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 c gluten-free cornmeal

2/3 c tapioca flour

1 t kosher salt

1 T baking powder

Juice of 1 lemon

About 7/8 c coconut milk

½ c water

1 egg

2 T honey

½ t baking soda

6 T vegan butter (Earth Balance buttery sticks)

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine cornmeal, tapioca flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk together.

Add the lemon juice to a measuring cup and pour enough coconut milk to measure 1 full cup. Add ½ cup of water, the egg, and the honey. Whisk together. Add the baking soda and whisk again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk together until combined.

Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add vegan butter and swirl until melted. Brush butter along sides of skillet. Carefully pour the butter into the bowl with the cornbread batter and whisk to combine. Pour the batter into the skillet and spread out evenly on the surface.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve in wedges, warm from the skillet.

Serves about 8.

Coconut Oil Kettle Corn

There are just a few days left for the State Fair of Texas. We actually visited this year – the first time I’ve been since I was a kid. It was fun – lots of things to see and do, and of course, tons of food to eat. Way more than anyone could possibly eat, much less afford. And if you’re following a gluten-free diet, there isn’t much that’s safe.

Good thing you can make a standard fair favorite at home! No, not Fried Thanksgiving Dinner (although that might be possible…). I’m talking about Kettle Corn – that deliciously salty-sweet, crunchy treat that’s so irresistible when fresh.

Sure, you can buy microwave kettle corn at the store, but it’s just not all that good. This version takes only the smallest additional effort, and it’s so worth it. Just a few ingredients in a pot, a few minutes over the stove, and a quick toss in a bowl, and you have a treat that will definitely be a favorite among kids and adults alike. It’s also an excellent, simple addition for a Halloween party snack table.

You could also fancy it up any number of ways. Toss a pinch or two of cayenne in, or cinnamon. Add peanuts or candy once you get to the stirring phase. I’d be happy with any of those variations – but the simple, basic recipe is always enough to make me happy. I’m sure you could also store the leftovers for the following day with ease, although I personally wouldn’t know. There’s never any leftovers to be had.

Print Recipe

Coconut Oil Kettle Corn (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

3 T coconut oil (I used unrefined coconut oil)

1/2 c organic, non-GMO popcorn kernels

1/4 c granulated sugar

3/4 t kosher salt

In a 3-quart saucepan with a lid, add coconut oil, popcorn kernels, and sugar. Turn on to medium heat. Stir with a spoon until sugar and coconut oil starts to melt just a bit. Once everything starts to heat up, cover the pot and shake intermittently, popping the corn, until the popping slows to 5 seconds between pops. Remove the popcorn from heat and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Immediately sprinkle the salt over and stir to coat the popcorn a bit more evenly with the melted sugar and salt. Serve.

Serves 2-4.

Homestyle Meatloaf

Meatloaf. It’s one of those polarizing meals, it seems. Most people either hate it or love it. Personally, I think that has a lot to do with what meatloaf you grew up eating – some people had some unappetizing versions that haunt them forever. (Or maybe it was those bad memories of the song “I Would Do Anything For Love” that’s so haunting?)  In my mind, though, there is only the ultimate comfort food version of meatloaf, packed full of flavor, warming, and the perfect neighbor to a big pile of mashed potatoes on your plate.

My Mom wasn’t a great cook, but she had a few dishes she made that were definitely family favorites. Her meatloaf evokes fond memories for me. While my version is likely quite a bit different than hers, one thing remains a constant – the ketchup topping. I’ve opted instead to use a corn syrup free version – and sometimes might even make my own – but it’s still ketchup. Sure, there are more refined ways to top a meatloaf. But in my opinion, meatloaf isn’t about refinement. It’s about comfort. And by the way my family manages to devour the entire pan, I’d say comfort wins.

Homestyle Meatloaf (grain-free, dairy-free)

1 small onion

1 celery stalk

3 cloves garlic

1 carrot, peeled

1 T olive oil

1/2 lb spicy ground pork sausage

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork (or another pound of ground beef)

1 egg plus 1 T chia meal

¾ c almond flour (can substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs or oats)

1 t kosher salt

1 ½ t freshly ground black pepper

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped (1 t)

2-3 leaves fresh sage, leaves chopped (1 t)

1/3 c minced fresh parsley leaves

2 tsp plus 1 dash Worcestershire sauce

1/3 c ketchup (I like to use either Annie’s or Organicville, or sometimes even make my own)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 Cut onion, celery rib, garlic, and carrot into large pieces. Place in a food processor and blitz until the vegetables resemble a coarse paste.

 In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add vegetable mixture and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

 In a large bowl, combine the sausage, ground beef, ground pork, eggs and chia seed meal, almond flour, vegetable mixture, salt, pepper, herbs, and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire. Form into a loaf and put into loaf pan. Mix remaining ketchup with dash of Worcestershire sauce, and cover loaf with sauce.

 Bake loaf for one hour.

Pork Chops with Orange Sauce

 

A few weeks ago, we stocked our freezer full of pork. A friend and I split a locally raised, pastured pig. I couldn’t have been more excited. We have all sorts of bratwurst, pork roasts, chops, bacon, and more. We’ve really been enjoying the pork bounty. But after a few dinners of pork chops cooked simply, I wanted to change it up a bit.

Enter orange sauce.

I won’t lie – one of my favorite Chinese take-out meals was orange chicken. I realize that the gloppy, heavy, sweet version at most take-out joints isn’t really all that authentic. I loved it nonetheless. Especially when there was a good number of chiles in it to add a little heat. It was sweet, salty, and spicy. What more could one need? I’ve even made it gluten-free in the past.

So when I was looking for a new way to enjoy pork chops, I opted to use that orange sauce and transform them. What resulted was an easy meal that definitely delivered on flavor. Paired with rice, green beans, and some pickled cucumbers, this was an awesome weeknight meal.

Print Recipe

Pork Chops with Orange Sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

1/4 c freshly squeezed orange juice (from about half of a large orange)

2 T fresh orange zest

3 T chicken broth

1 T wheat-free tamari or soy sauce

2 t rice wine

1 t rice vinegar

2 t sesame oil

2 T honey

1/4 t black pepper

1 T olive oil or coconut oil

4 dried red chiles

2 t minced fresh garlic

2 t grated fresh ginger

1 t arrowroot powder whisked with 2 t cold water

4 bone-in, thick cut pork chops

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, zest, chicken broth, soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive/coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chiles, garlic and ginger. Saute, stirring, for about 20-30 seconds. Pour in the orange juice mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and add the arrowroot slurry and continue to cook for about a minute, or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet) to medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. When the skillet is hot, add the pork chops. Allow to brown for about a minute or two, and flip the chops over. Put the pan in the oven and bake the chops until they are cooked through (145 degrees F read on a thermometer poked into the center of the chop), about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Brush the sauce over the chops immediately, turning the chops in the pan and brushing both sides. Transfer the chops to a plate and brush more sauce over.

Serve with rice and desired vegetables.

Serves 4.

Sriracha-Lime Grilled Okra

 

In late Texas summers, when it’s been hot and dry for weeks on end and the tomatoes and strawberries have long wilted under the sun, what’s still growing without fail? Okra.

And boy, how does it grow!? I just have a modest number of plants, but I go outside every afternoon to water, and find a handful of pods ready to be picked. It seems they appear almost overnight. A bud one day, a 3-inch okra pod the next. Not that I’m complaining. It gives me plenty to pickle, share with friends, and eat in all sorts of ways.

This time, I opted for grilled.

Grilling okra is a speedy way to get flavor into this unique veggie without making it slimy – a texture that often is off-putting to okra critics. It takes just a few minutes to do, and with a simple sauce brushed over, it’s divine. Especially when that sauce involves Sriracha.

If you have not become acquainted with the wonders of Sriracha sauce, I highly encourage you to seek it out. I’m not often a big proponent of store-bought sauces, but this is definitely an exception. It’s spicy and adds that perfect punch to just about anything – scrambled eggs, fried rice, and of course, pho. I’ve always wanted to make my own – one day I will – but until then, it’s the “rooster” sauce for me. Combined with lime and ghee in this quick sauce, it’s a bold wake-up for your taste buds, which pairs perfectly with mild okra. It’s quickly becoming my go-to way to prepare it.

Print Recipe

Sriracha-Lime Grilled Okra (gluten-free, casein-free)

About 20 tender pods okra

1 T Sriracha

Zest of 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon)

Juice of 1 lime (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

1 T ghee, melted (can substitute vegan butter or coconut oil for dairy-free/vegan)

Salt to taste

Heat a grill to medium heat. Skewer the okra pods so that there is a little space in between each pod. In a small bowl, whisk together the Sriracha, lime zest, lime juice, and ghee. When the grill is hot, place the okra on the grill. Brush one side with the Sriracha mixture. Allow to grill until lightly browned/blackened in spots, about 1-2 minutes. Turn over and brush other side. Grill another 2 minutes or until browned and the okra pods are softened/tender. Flip once more and brush any remaining sauce over. Remove, salt to taste and serve hot.

Serves 2-3.

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Basil

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen my cucumbers. I’m growing Armenian cucumbers for the first time, and boy, are these things prolific. I love them. They seem to enjoy this Texas heat – they’re never bitter no matter how hot it gets. They are more mild than a typical cucumber, and ever-so-slightly sweet. But they certainly take over. I planted them in a 4 foot square raised bed, and they’ve filled that bed entirely, climbing up and over the trellis, nearly filling the neighboring bed and a good bit of the lawn all around. But because of their ease to grow, I’m definitely growing them again next year.

Meanwhile, however, I am accumulating cucumbers like nobody’s business. I’ve brought them to work and dumped them off on coworkers. I’ve given a few to my husband’s coworkers. People that show up at my house go home with at least one. I’ve even brought them to my soccer games, donating them to anyone who wants them. I’ve juiced them in my green juices. I’ve snacked on them, eating as much as I can handle. I love cucumbers. But even I can’t keep up – I still have two, each about 18 inches long, in the fridge right now. Good thing I also have watermelon – because that means this salad can be made.

This is one of the easiest salads I’ve made in a while. It’s only 5 ingredients. It’s lovely just snacked on by itself (which is what I did), or enjoyed along grilled chicken or fish. I love the perfectly refreshing combination of cucumber and watermelon, highlighted by the punch of basil. It’s bright and cool and the epitome of summer.

But seeing as how I’m still growing cucumbers, I think I’ll need more watermelon.

Print Recipe

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Basil (gluten-free, vegan)

3 c cubed seedless watermelon

1 1/2 c thinly sliced cucumber (if you don’t have Armenian cukes, English cucumbers will do)

1 T chopped fresh basil

2 t lemon juice

About 1/4 t kosher salt

In a large bowl, toss the watermelon, cucumber and basil with lemon juice and salt. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Cold Brew Iced Coffee


This isn’t really a planned post, but I thought maybe I shouldn’t keep the amazingness all to myself. So you’ll have to be satisfied with an iPhone photo over something that comes from my DSLR. I’m sure you’ll let it slide…this time. Right?

I have recently learned the ways of cold brew coffee. And my friends, it is truly amazing.

Normally, I drink my coffee black. And hot. I tend to be a coffee snob, buying high-quality beans (and if I can find them locally roasted, even better) as much as I possibly can. When you drink coffee black, the taste of the bean is something you can’t compromise on. There’s no sugar or cream to hide the flavor. At least, that’s my opinion.

Of course, then I break all those rules by drinking coffee at the bowling alley where my hubby and I spend Sunday mornings together, and it’s cheap, mediocre coffee. But hey. I gotta keep my coffee snob level down to a minimum as much as possible, right?

Now, the whole game changed when I decided to try to cold brew my coffee. The flavor of the coffee is different. I’m using the same beans, but it’s a totally different experience. It’s smoother. Less acidic. And because of that, you pick up different notes in the coffee that you wouldn’t taste if it were brewed hot. Not to mention the fact that it’s iced makes it infinitely more refreshing. Especially on mornings when the thermometer already reads 80 degrees F when I wake up. And while I have no idea if this method makes for a more highly caffeinated cup of coffee, it sure seems that way – it’s a welcome jolt for my drive into work!

What makes this even more appealing? It’s not any harder to do than brewing regular coffee. You stick coffee grounds and water in the fridge the night before, and the next morning, you filter it. That’s it. If you have a French press, you can do this easily. I don’t, so I throw my grounds and water in a quart-sized jar, and then strain through a fine-meshed strainer with a coffee filter lining it. Easy peasy.

I prefer mine with a splash of coconut milk and a smaller splash of maple syrup. Not a lot of either, as I really still want to taste the coffee itself. While I’m fine without cream or sugar in a hot cup of coffee, I really enjoy that little extra in my iced coffee. It’s a divine way to start the morning.

Print Recipe

Cold Brew Iced Coffee (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

3/4 – 1 cup coffee grounds (I prefer closer to a cup, as I like my coffee strong)

3 1/2 cups water

Coconut milk, maple syrup, and ice, for serving

Place coffee grounds and water in a French press or a quart-sized jar, making sure the grounds get submerged into the water. (I shake my jar a bit.) Place in refrigerator overnight.

The following morning, push down the plunger on the French press, and your coffee is ready. If you used a jar, then place a fine-meshed strainer over a large measuring cup and line with a coffee filter (this is optional – if you don’t mind a rogue coffee ground getting in your coffee, you can skip). Pour the coffee through the strainer/filter. You may have to stop and allow it to drip through, so doing this in stages may be needed.

To serve your iced coffee, divide into two 16 oz mason jars (or similarly sized glasses). Stir in a desired amount of coconut milk and maple syrup. (For me personally, this is about 1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut milk and about 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.) Add ice, and enjoy.

Makes 2 servings.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

I love watermelon. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s cool, refreshing, and just screams summer. In fact, I love it so much that I am attempting to grow my own for the first time this year. I planted several starter plants in the spring, and watched as they grew and spread their vines ALL OVER my backyard. Seriously. It’s like a jungle back there, between the watermelon vines and cucumber vines. In spite of the fact that I’ve planted these in raised beds, they have overflowed and are taking over the lawn, making it so it’s impossible to mow in those areas.

Oh well. The things I do for yummy eats.

My real trouble is – I’m inexperienced in the watermelon-growing department. I have lots of watermelon babies. They’re growing (well, most of them – I had a few not make it past the softball stage and they went south…), but it seems to take forever. And as it turns out, it’s hard to tell when a watermelon is ripe to pick. In fact, I was eyeing the largest one with suspicion for a while, trying to decide when the time was right. I thumped it, listening for that “hollow” sound. Except every time I thump any watermelon, it always sounds hollow. Apparently I’m not good at hearing the ripeness. So I did more research, and found that once it ceases to grow larger, that’s another indicator. This one seemed to stop growing. Then I looked at the bottom, where the white spot is, and looked for yellow/cream color. I thought it was yellow enough, so I thought I was good to go. Hesitating a bit, I cut it.

Ta da, my first melon!

Only when I cut into it, it wasn’t ripe. It was slightly pink in the center, but definitely needed more time. Sigh. So what’s a girl to do when she’s killed off her first watermelon?

Make the most of it – use the rind for pickling!

I’ve never had or made pickled watermelon rind, but it’s something that’s always intrigued me. I mean, why not make the most of every part of summer’s favorite fruit? And I love just about anything pickled. So I gave it a go.

What resulted was something completely different than what I imagined. It’s sweet-tart, with lovely spice notes, reminiscent of the holidays somewhat. But it’s also amazing with smoked meats, making it a perfect compliment to summer barbecue. Mind you, you don’t need an unripe watermelon to make them either – the rind of any watermelon will work splendidly. Just peel the outer rind (this is easily accomplished just with a knife – just cut it away. No need to try to use some potato peeler, which seems more difficult than it should be.) and pickle away!

Watermelon Rind Pickles (gluten-free, vegan)

2 lbs peeled watermelon rind, cut into 1″ square pieces

3 c sugar (I have not experimented with alternative sweeteners, but I imagine a lesser amount of honey or agave might work)

1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar

3 whole cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch or two of salt

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add the rind. Bring to medium-low heat and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain and place the watermelon rinds into glass jars (I used 3 16 oz canning jars). Add sugar, vinegar, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and salt to the same saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the rinds into the jars. Seal jars with lids and allow to cool. Chill and store in refrigerator.

 

 

Potato Biscuits

I love biscuits. Like, really, really love them. Let me count the ways: biscuits with butter, with jam, with gravy (especially a good Southern sausage gravy!), with fried chicken, or even for the making of a sausage biscuit sandwich…that’s just the beginning, I’m sure. But good, tender, moist biscuits are hard to come by, especially when one is gluten and dairy-free. So for us, biscuits are a special event.

What I do love about making gluten-free biscuits is that there isn’t that pesky gluten in there, making things tough and chewy. Makes for an easy time – you can’t accidentally overwork the dough. And when using potato flour, it seems there is no need for gums like guar or xanthan gum. It also makes the biscuits taste nice and potato-y; something I really enjoyed.

I do have to apologize to you, however. It seems I’ve been hoarding this recipe for a while now. I’ve had it tucked away for at least a year, digging it out once in a while, but I’ve never managed to get photos of these humble beauties. Well, my friends, there’s no time like the present. I hope you’ll make up for lost time by making these quite often. Grab yourself some potato flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill), so you’ll always have it on hand for a quick breakfast treat.

Print Recipe

Potato Biscuits (gluten-free, grain-free, vegan)

2/3 c potato flour (not potato starch)

1/3 c potato starch or tapioca starch

2 t baking powder

1/2 t kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

3 T coconut oil

2/3 c canned full-fat coconut milk

1 T chia seed meal (grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder)

1/2 t apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the potato flour, starch, baking powder and salt. With your fingers or with a fork, blend in the coconut oil until the mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, chia seed meal, and apple cider vinegar. Stir the coconut milk mixture into the flour mixture until combined and the dough comes together. It will be crumbly, but it should hold together. Using a 2 inch biscuit cutter, press a handful of dough into a circle to form a biscuit, pressing just firmly enough for the dough to hold together. (Alternatively, you can simply form rounds by hand.) Repeat with remaining dough. Sprinkle each biscuit with a pinch of kosher salt.

Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 biscuits.

Do you make breakfasts more often during the summer, when kids are home? What do you like to make? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

This post is linked to Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free over at Gluten-Free Easily.