Category Archives: Dairy-Free

Garden-Fresh San Marzano Tomato Sauce

san marzano prep

This spring, I planted a San Marzano tomato plant (as well as two other varieties). I’d never tried this variety, but I figured it was worth a shot.

If I had to do it over again, I’d plant three. Maybe four. That’s how excited I’ve been about them. I’m already making plans for next spring to expand my tomato planting.

The tomatoes from this plant got going a bit later than others, and I thought maybe I was going to have another year buying most of my summer tomatoes from the farmer’s market. Especially since it seems I’ve had a rather poor gardening season so far – squash bugs devastated my zucchini and cucumbers, I have no idea why fire ants love my eggplant, and my lettuce got started late (I had surgery in March on my hip, so I wasn’t able to do some planting for a few weeks), so we only had a few salads before it bolted. (Truth is, I’m mostly a hack at gardening, and learn by trial, error, and a big dose of luck.) But here in the past two weeks, my little San Marzano plant really got going. I pulled off about 15 tomatoes in a week from one plant. I decided it was high time to make sauce. After all, San Marzano tomatoes really shine in a simple, fresh sauce.

I was excited about this sauce. After all, almost everything I tossed in there was from my garden, and if it wasn’t, it was from the farmer’s market. Talk about fresh. It was also super-easy. I didn’t even bother peeling the tomatoes, so it was a rough chop, a long simmer, and a brief visit in the blender, and I had delicious sauce that, dare I say, would rival any Italian grandmother’s.

I might get into major trouble with all Italian grandmothers for admitting that just now.

But really, it is good. Really really good. Hence why I want to plant more San Marzanos next year - so I can make massive quantities of this sauce, freeze or can it, and enjoy all year long. Having a sauce at the ready is awesome for a weeknight dinner (spaghetti in under 20 minutes!) or even a lasagna or baked ziti.

Of course, you don’t have to have fresh tomatoes to make this, so if you can’t find San Marzanos (Romas would be an excellent alternative), don’t fret. Canned tomatoes would work just as well. I’d definitely recommend canned over most of the grocery store tomatoes, especially in winter, as they are superior in taste and price. Your sauce will be just as delicious.

spaghetti on fork

Print Recipe

Garden-Fresh San Marzano Tomato Sauce (gluten-free, vegan)

2 T olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6-8 garlic cloves, chopped

1 t kosher salt

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

About 1/4 c fresh basil leaves

About 1 T fresh oregano leaves (you can substitute about 1 teaspoon dried)

3 1/2 pounds fresh San Marzano tomatoes, or other ripe summer tomato, chopped (I don’t bother peeling, but if you prefer, you can cut an “X” in the bottom of each tomato and drop into a pot of boiling water for about 60 seconds and remove. The skins should peel right off.)

1 cup dry red wine

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet or pot. (I used my enameled Dutch oven.)  Sauté the onion 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for an additional minute, until the garlic is very fragrant. (Be careful not to burn!)

Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, and wine, stirring to mix well.

Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, and let cook for about an hour uncovered. Stir the sauce occasionally to make sure the sauce is not reducing too quickly.

Puree in a blender or in a food processor to your liking. If the sauce still seems thin, return to the pot and simmer until the sauce is thick to your liking. Adjust the seasoning as needed.

Makes 2 quarts.

Pickled Banana Peppers

pickled peppers blog

‘Tis the time of year where canning and pickling is on every gardener’s mind. While my garden is not having its best year ever (my pepper plants are just now starting to produce), I’m still benefiting from others’ surplus.

A friend of ours gave us a large amount of various peppers – namely Santa Fe and banana – a number of weeks ago. While I cook and make a lot of salsas using hotter peppers, and I eat a fair number of sweet bell peppers raw, I don’t have much experience with peppers with just a little heat. However, I love pickled peppers on sandwiches, so I figured I’d try my hand at making some.

I opted for the easy route; I made refrigerator pickles. Something I didn’t have to process and make shelf-stable. I don’t mind doing that (and have several times, with jams and salsa), but I prefer a crispier pickle sometimes, and in this instance, the crunch from the pickled peppers was delightful.

Of course, I was so excited about these, that all I did was snap a quick shot to share on Instagram, and then I proceeded to give one jar away. Then I dug into the other jar before I realized that I hadn’t taken my fancy-schmancy photo. So you’ll have to live with my iPhone shot above. You’ll forgive me, won’t you?

Truthfully, you can use this recipe to pickle all sorts of peppers. The subtle sweetness and the combination of the coriander and black peppercorns will make all kinds of peppers taste delicious, especially after a week or two in the fridge. Mine were perfect last night on a salad, and I have a date with a sandwich later this week, and I’m sure these peppers will make an appearance there, too!

What are your favorite things to pickle?

Print Recipe

Pickled Banana Peppers (gluten-free, vegan)

4-5 c banana peppers, cleaned

3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed

1 1/2 c distilled white vinegar

1 1/2 c water

2 T black peppercorns

2 T coriander seeds

2 T kosher salt

2 T granulated sugar

Slice all of the peppers into rings about 1/4 inch thick. Knock out the seeds in the slices. Pack all of the pepper slices into a 1-quart jar or two pint-sized jars. Place the garlic cloves in the jar(s) as well.

Bring the vinegar, water, peppercorns, coriander seeds, salt and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the brine over the peppers and seal the jar. Allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for a few days before eating, and then enjoy within 1 month.

Makes 1 quart of pickled peppers.

Quick Pickled Beets with Serrano

pickled blog

Beets have made plenty of appearances here before. I love them. They’re gorgeous, for starters. Most are an unbelievably intense red, but some varieties are golden, or even striped like candy canes. How could it not be love at first sight? But beyond their good looks, they’re deliciously sweet and earthy. I enjoy them raw, steamed, in salads, roasted, in soups, in dips, or even in desserts. But I also love them pickled.

However, sometimes I think about having such things way too late. The other night, when preparing dinner, it occurred to me that I wanted pickled beets. But typically, making any type of pickle takes advance time. But this version doesn’t. Once you steam the beets, you simply pour over a vinaigrette and serve immediately. Of course, you can store the rest in the refrigerator for a week or more, and they stay just as delicious. I’ve enjoyed having a few slices along with all sorts of meals. They bring a happy brightness that just screams of fresh spring/summer produce.

So if you have a bunch of beets and are wondering what to do with them, why not try making some quick pickles? Eat them as a side dish, as a condiment, or on a salad – any of those options sound delicious to me!

What are your favorite ways to enjoy beets?

Print Recipe

Quick Pickled Beets with Serrano (gluten-free, vegan)

About 6 medium beets, stems trimmed to about an inch

1/3 c apple cider vinegar

1/4 c olive oil

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t coarsely ground black pepper

1 small Serrano chile, sliced thin

Place beets in a large pot and cover with water by at least an inch. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low boil. Allow to cook until the beets are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and let cool enough to touch. Peel the beets. This ought to be fairly easily and can be done with your hands – the peels should slip right off. (If you don’t wish to dye your hands pink, you can wear plastic gloves for this) Slice the beets into 1/4 inch slices and place in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the Serrano chile to the beets, and then pour over this dressing. Toss the beets to coat completely.

Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.

 

 

Cheerios Protein Chocolate Almond Munch

cheerios treat mix blog

This is a sponsored post on behalf of General Mills, but the opinions are my own.

Cheerios has another delicious option out there for those of you looking to add a bit of sneaky protein into your day. Their new Cheerios Protein line, which comes in Oats and Honey and Cinnamon Almond, have 7 grams of protein per serving. It’s not the super-high totals of a typical protein shake or a can of tuna, but it has the added benefit of tasting pretty delicious and is something that my picky kids will actually eat. I think it’s pretty tasty myself!

Of course, as much as I love munching on cereal (honestly, cereal is a dessert or late-night snack of choice for me), I thought I’d come up with a little treat mix using the Cinnamon Almond variety. Playing with the almond flavor and upping the protein a bit more, I threw in sliced almonds and a chocolate almond butter. For some sweetness, chocolate and dried cranberries were added as well. What resulted was a slightly indulgent, delicious treat that would please adults as well as children.

This treat mix is perfect to munch on as a snack or dessert. It makes a trumped-up version of my bedtime snack of choice, thanks to the chocolate. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it has a higher protein content!

Print Recipe

Cheerios Protein Chocolate Almond Munch (NOT gluten-free!, dairy-free)

5 c Cheerios Protein Cinnamon Almond

3/4 c dried cranberries

3/4 c sliced almonds

1/2 c honey

1 c brown sugar

1 c Justin’s chocolate almond butter

1/2 t ground cinnamon

Pinch salt

1/2 c dark chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is dairy-free)

 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cereal, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine honey and sugar. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. This should only take about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate almond butter and cinnamon.

Pour chocolate almond butter mixture over the cereal mixture and stir, mixing until thoroughly coated. Pour out onto prepared baking sheet and spread into clumps.

In a small microwaveable bowl, melt chocolate chips, stopping to stir every 15 seconds or so, until melted. Drizzle chocolate over the cheerios mixture evenly. (You can do this by using a spoon and drizzling, or by spooning the melted chocolate into a Ziploc bag and cutting off a small corner, and squeezing the chocolate out.)

Refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until chocolate hardens. Break into bite-sized pieces and store in an airtight container.

 

I received compensation in exchange for writing this review.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Serrano-Lime Dressing

zucchini ribbon salad fg

It’s that time of year around here – time for everyone to unload their massive bounty of zucchini and summer squash upon their friends, family, and neighbors! Everyone except me, that is.

You see, as soon as I plant any squash plant, every squash bug within a 10-mile radius comes to visit. It’s insanity. I’ve tried every organic deterrent that’s been suggested to me, from squishing them on the plant, cayenne pepper, soap and vinegar, diatomaceous earth, sticky traps. They’ve all failed. I even spent last summer with a shop-vac, vacuuming up squash bugs. There were just SO. MANY. BUGS. attacking one plant, and I was afraid if I pulled the plant, they’d go on to attack my melons and cucumbers. So while I’m not proud of being the girl that sucks up bugs in a vacuum, I’m just being honest – I feel like I’ve tried everything. I can’t win the war against squash bugs.

So until I come up with a solution that works, I’ll allow others to grow zucchini and squash, and I’ll gladly take donations. One friend donated a sizeable amount of zucchini and peppers the other day, so I’ve been coming up with ways to consume it all (and not resort to just making zucchini bread, as much as I love it). One night, as I was preparing tacos for dinner, I opted to use some of the same flavors and make a little zucchini salad to go along with them.

The beauty in this salad is that it’s simple and takes just a few minutes to throw together. It’s fresh, and the zucchini ribbons are tender and tasty, especially as they start to absorb the citrusy notes from the lime and the touch of heat from the Serrano chile. It’s easy to eat the entire salad by yourself. (Not that I would know or anything…*cough cough*)

If you have an abundance of zucchini in your garden, or if you were one of the fortunate recipients of zucchini (or even if you avoided all of this insanity and purchased some!), this salad is a great way to use it up and please your palate.

Print Recipe

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Serrano-Lime Dressing (gluten-free, vegan)

1 large zucchini or several small zucchini

8-10 small cherry tomatoes, halved

Small handful of pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

2 T chopped fresh cilantro

2 T lime juice (from 1 large lime)

1/2 t lime zest

1 t minced fresh Serrano chile, seeds removed (can substitute jalapeno)

2 T olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, peel long “ribbons” from the zucchini, lengthwise, until you hit the seeds. Rotate the zucchini and do this all the way around. Place ribbons in a medium bowl along with the tomatoes, pepitas and cilantro.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, zest, Serrano, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss the salad in the dressing and serve.

Serves 2 (or one hungry person).

Sparkling Peach Lemonade

peach lemonade blog

THE PEACHES ARE HERE! THE PEACHES ARE HERE!

Peach season is my absolute favorite. A ripe, fresh peach, perfectly ripe, is the definition of heaven. From the gentle fuzz to the intoxicating aroma to the insanely juicy first bite that drips down your face, peaches are hands-down the best part of summer. So when I visited the farmer’s market this past Saturday and found the first locally grown early peaches, I was ecstatic. I bought a reasonable amount this weekend, but mark my words: I will buy an insane amount of peaches before the season is over.

Most will end up straight in my belly. (I’ve even been known to dig into one in the car on the way home from the market – whether that means I have no shame, or just that I shouldn’t wait for something so delicious, I’m not sure, but I’m going with the latter.) But some will hopefully end up in new, delicious summer recipes, like this one.

I was hoping for something refreshing. It’s warming up this week, and it’s humid, so a lemonade seems just perfect. The addition of peaches means that this lemonade is sweeter, but it’s certainly not sticky. The balance of fresh flavors and the sweet peaches means this is a welcome beverage to accompany an evening sitting on the porch, or out by the pool. It’s kid-friendly, but if you want to make it more of an adult beverage, I have no doubt a few ounces of white rum would be right at home here.

As soon as you find some summer peaches near you, though, I highly recommend you snatch them up. The season comes and goes all too quickly, and this lemonade needs to be on your short list of peach-related treats. Hope you enjoy!

Print Recipe

Sparkling Peach Lemonade (gluten-free, vegan)

1 c water

1/2 c sugar

1 T grated lemon zest

2 large peaches, roughly chopped

1/3 c fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 c cold sparkling water or club soda

Peach slices, lemon slices, and mint sprigs for garnish

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, lemon zest, and peaches. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in the lemon juice.

Puree mixture in a blender, and strain in a fine-meshed strainer placed over a bowl, making sure to press the solids to squeeze all that delicious flavor into the juice. Chill the juice thoroughly for several hours.

Pour the juice and sparkling water into a pitcher and add the peach slices, lemon slices, and mint. Serve well-chilled over ice.

Makes about 4 servings.

Strawberry-Coconut Butter Cups

strawberry coconut choc cups blog

After you’ve made a batch of strawberry-coconut butter and have spread it on all the things (biscuits, toast, your finger…), maybe it’s time to take that next step with what’s left. If there’s any left, that is.

Which makes me think that maybe, you ought to make these before you get to spreading it and spooning it straight into your mouth, just so you can make sure you have enough. But either way, these are definitely a natural next level of deliciousness. They’re also perfect for gifts. After all, who doesn’t like chocolate?

Making your own candy might seem difficult, but I promise you, these are simple. If you wish, you can skip tempering the chocolate, like I did this time around, and make them refrigerator-only treats. But for gifts, tempering only takes an extra step or two (I describe how to do so here) and turns your chocolates into something professional-looking. But essentially, you melt chocolate, paint the inside of a chocolate mold, fill with the strawberry-coconut butter, and paint more chocolate to seal. It’s kind of like kindergarten, all over again. Easy peasy. And the results are far worth the effort – the mix of dark chocolate and the strawberry-coconut butter is a delicious treat.

So whether you’re tiring of simply eating this strawberry-coconut butter as a spread, or you want an easy-to-make candy that’s definitely worthy of gift-giving, these cups are sure to meet your needs.

Print Recipe

Strawberry-Coconut Butter Cups (gluten-free, vegan-friendly)

8 oz dark chocolate (I used Brix Smooth Dark Chocolate – if you want a vegan chocolate, be sure to choose one without milk or butter fat.)

About 1/2 recipe Strawberry-Coconut Butter - if refrigerated, allow to warm on the counter for about 30 minutes

Candy mold, such as one for peanut butter cups

Small paintbrush (like 1/4″)

Prepare a double boiler. (If you don’t have a double boiler, you can simply set a small saucepan with an inch or two of water to simmer, and place a large stainless bowl over the top. Place the chocolate in the top bowl/pot. Allow to melt and come to about 113-120 degrees F, stirring occasionally. (If you wish to temper the chocolate, bring the chocolate back down to 80 degrees F, and then rewarm to 90 degrees F, making sure not to heat it above that temp. Hold the chocolate at this temp while using.)

Using a small paintbrush, paint chocolate into the candy mold, making sure you cover it completely. Allow to dry. (I had to place the molds into the fridge for 10 minutes or so to set.)

Once the chocolate is set, spoon a small amount of strawberry-coconut butter into each mold. Finally, paint more chocolate over the top to fill the mold and seal the filling inside. Place the molds in the refrigerator or freezer to set for another 10-15 minutes.

Once the chocolates are sufficiently hard, you can pop them out of the molds by turning the mold upside down and pressing on the backs of each candy. They should pop out with relative ease.

Store in refrigerator, unless you’ve tempered the chocolate, and in that case, they can be stored at a cool room temperature.

Makes about 18-20 chocolates.

 

Strawberry-Coconut Butter

strawberry coconut butter 2 blog

Want something to spread on your toast or bread that’s a) different from the usual, b) way easier to make than jam or jelly, and c) full of spring deliciousness?

How about some strawberry-coconut butter?

This spread is creamy and pink (who doesn’t love that?) and packs a lovely, not-too-sweet punch of strawberry flavor. It takes just minutes to make and is completely dairy and gluten-free. Just throw the ingredients in the food processor, blitz to your heart’s content, and voila! Strawberry-coconut butter for all your spreading pleasures.

Put it on toast, put it on biscuits, or even just spoon it into your mouth. Throw it in your smoothie. When chilled, it’s smooth and scoops almost like ice cream, and is just as delectable. This little spread is the perfect springtime condiment.

Won’t you make some?

strawberry coconut butter blog

Print Recipe

Strawberry-Coconut Butter (gluten-free, vegan)

3/4 c coconut butter

3/4 c sliced fresh strawberries (you can also use frozen, simply thaw first – you don’t want cold strawberries hardening the coconut butter)

2 1/2 T maple syrup, agave nectar, honey, or golden syrup (whatever liquid sweetener you prefer)

Pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.

Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

choc chip pb cookie for blog

Apparently it’s National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day today. Usually I’m too late on all of these food holidays. I just don’t keep up. But today, it’s a good thing I have these in my pocket, ready to go for you. (Okay, not literally in my pocket – that would create a lot of crumbs!)

These are your traditional chocolate chip cookies, slightly soft, with chewy edges, but with a small twist. I had a partial bag of peanut butter chips in the freezer left over from making some treats for my co-workers, so I opted to use them in place of some of the chocolate chips.

What resulted was my favorite version of chocolate chip cookies, only better. There’s a lovely balance of chocolate and peanut butter in these beauties. My favorite part, though, has to be the texture. I’m very much a soft+chewy fan when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, and that specific texture is sometimes difficult to achieve when baking gluten-free. However, my friends, this seems to be the key.

Feel free to make these as written, or use all chocolate-chips for a traditional version. Unfortunately, peanut butter chips don’t come dairy-free (that I know of), so for a dairy-free version, use all dairy-free chocolate chips. They are, however, gluten-free, so you’re good to go there. Whether you make them with or without dairy, I’m sure you’ll be just as delighted.

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.

Print Recipe

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free options)

½ cup unrefined coconut oil, softened (can substitute butter)

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups superfine brown rice flour

¼ cup + 3 tablespoons tapioca starch

1 tablespoon gelatin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons water

6 oz chocolate chips or chunks (double for dairy-free – Enjoy Life chocolate chips are dairy-free)

6 oz peanut butter chips (omit for dairy-free)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the coconut oil/butter, sugar and molasses in a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Cream together on medium speed for about a minute. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix again.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, tapioca starch, gelatin, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat again on low speed until combined. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. (you may not need all 3 tablespoons) Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough into small balls (about 2 tablespoons each) and place on a parchment-lined (or silicone baking sheet lined) baking sheet, at least 2-3 inches apart. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges just start to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Bison Albondigas Soup

albondigas blog

Spring in Texas is fun. One day, we have temps in the mid-90s. The next, it’s in the 60s, with lows in the upper 30s. It’s shorts one day, and the next, you’re dragging out a jacket again to keep off the morning chill. I suppose it could be worse – I know many of you received snow yet again this past week.

For those days when I have fresh vegetables in the garden already, and yet get a cold and rainy spell, this soup does the trick. It’s fresh and light, thanks to the herbs and green onion, but it’s also warming and filling. It’s a perfect bowl of spring, nourishing and healthy, and great for giving me much-needed energy to work in my garden. It’s also pretty kid-friendly. I mean, who doesn’t like meatballs?

Today is another day filled with rain, followed by a couple cooler days. While I’m sure it’ll be overly hot all too soon, I’m going to enjoy the cooler temps with a bowl of soup. Wouldn’t you?

Print Recipe

Bison Albondigas Soup (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 lb ground bison or lean ground beef

1/3 c raw long-grain rice

1 T chopped fresh mint

1 T chopped green onion

1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 egg, beaten

1 t kosher salt

1/4 t black pepper

2 T ghee or olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1 1/2 c pureed tomato (can use fresh or canned)

3 c chicken stock (if you follow a gluten-free diet and purchase store-bought, be sure to read labels)

2 c peeled red potatoes, cut into 1-inch dice

1 c carrots, sliced about 1/2-inch thick

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large bowl, add the bison, rice, mint, green onion, parsley, egg, salt and pepper. Mix well with hands and form small meatballs, no larger than 1 inch. Place on a platter and stick in freezer for 10-15 minutes, just to firm up a bit.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the ghee or olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 7-8 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and jalapeno and sauté again for another minute. Add the tomato and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Remove the meatballs from the freezer and add them, the potato, and the carrot and bring again to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender and the meatballs are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with cilantro sprinkled over.

Serves 4.