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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.

Roast Chicken Adobo

It’s no secret that I have a thing for bold, spicy flavors. I blame my Native Texan roots. I mean, when you have access to just about every variety of chile around all the time, how can you not love the punch and character they bring? Especially in big chile-centric dishes such as mole, a big bowl of Texas Red, or even enchiladas. But now, I have added another chile-ful dish to our menu: a Mexican adobo.

Adobo takes on a lot of different personalities depending on the origination of the dish. Simply put, adobo is a marinade that has roots in Spanish cuisine, originally consisting of paprika, oregano, salt, garlic and vinegar. However, there are variations – Filipino adobo, for example, is vastly different than Puerto Rican adobo, and both are different than a Mexican adobo. In the latter version, a combination of chiles are used. The key here is that the sauce created is used as a marinade.

I was craving some comfort food in a major way, and while even a simple roast chicken is comforting to me, dishes with heat seem to be on the top of the list in terms of that comfort factor. This dish definitely fit the bill. The sauce wasn’t overly spicy, but gave enough heat to warm the body (and the soul). The chicken was succulent and full of flavor. I opted to serve it with rice and refried pinto beans, but some gluten-free tortillas would certainly have been welcome to help sop up the sauce.

The beauty of this adobo lies in the ability to customize it to your liking. Not a big fan of heat? Lower or omit the number of chipotle and ancho chiles and sub with milder chiles, such as guajillo. Want more burn? Just up the chipotles, or even add in a fresh jalapeno or two. It’s all up to you, but really, you must try an adobo for yourself!

Print Recipe

Roast Chicken Adobo (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

6 dried ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed

2-3 dried chipotle chiles, seeds and stems removed

6 cloves garlic

1 ½ c chicken stock

½ c chopped green onions – white and green parts

2 t honey

¼ c red wine vinegar

1 orange, peeled and seeded

2 T fresh lime juice

1 t ground cumin

2 t fresh thyme leaves

1 T fresh oregano leaves

1 t kosher salt, plus more for seasoning chicken

One 4 lb chicken, backbone removed and cut in half

Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Place the chiles in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes, making sure the chiles are submerged, until they are thoroughly softened.

Place soaked chiles, garlic, chicken stock, onions, honey, red wine vinegar, orange, lime juice, cumin, thyme, oregano and salt in a blender. Puree, scraping down sides as needed, until completely smooth. Place the chicken halves and the marinade in either a large Ziploc bag or other large dish and coat the chicken completely with the marinade, making sure to massage the marinade under the skin of the chicken. Allow to marinate, refrigerated, at least 6 hours, turning once or twice.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the chicken halves from the marinade and place breast-side up in a cast iron skillet. Season with a bit of additional salt. Pour at least another cup or two of the marinade (enough to come up around the meat about an inch or so) around the chicken. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Roast for an additional 30-40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes or so with the sauce surrounding the chicken, until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Dairy-Free Sweet Corn Ice Cream

For a few summers now, I have seen recipes float around for corn in ice cream. Come to find out, this isn’t exactly a new concoction – it’s been around for quite a while. But it was new to me. While I’m not accustomed to corn in sweet dishes, I do like my cornbread a tad sweet, and I love creamed corn, so the thought of corn in ice cream wasn’t too much of a stretch. So when fat, fresh corn cobs showed up everywhere in the farmer’s market, I couldn’t let the season pass me by once more. I knew it was time to try this for myself.

Dairy-free, of course.

I grabbed two large fresh, luscious organic corn cobs from some of my favorite farmers and tucked them into my bag. By about 4 PM that day, my ice cream was already in the freezer, chilling and getting ready for an after-dinner treat.

And a treat it was. A bite of the cool cream was full of corn-y goodness, permeated with a touch of citrus from the orange liqueur and lime. The balance of flavors was nice, if I do say so myself.

Mind you, I don’t really eat corn often. I find I feel better with less grains, and corn is included in that group. However, once in a while, I indulge. And what better way to indulge than to grab the freshest, local organic cobs you can find – and then throwing them in ice cream?

No, I can’t think of anything better at the moment either.


Sweet Corn Ice Cream (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free), adapted from Rick Bayless

2-3 ears fresh sweet corn

1 1/2 c non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

2 egg yolks

3/4 c sugar or sweetener of choice

1 can coconut milk (full-fat)

1/2 t ground cinnamon

2 T orange liqueur, such as Cointreau

1 T freshly squeezed lime juice

Cut the kernels off of the corn cobs and measure out 2 cups. Place kernels and almond milk in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.

Set up a double boiler (or do as I do – place a stainless steel bowl over a small saucepan with an inch or so of water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer). Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together, and add this and the corn mixture from the blender to the double boiler bowl. Whisk almost continuously over the simmering water until the mixture is thick, about 20 minutes. (It should coat the back of a spoon.) If your mixture has any curdles/chunks, strain the mixture through a fine-meshed strainer. (I didn’t do this)

Fill a larger bowl halfway with ice. Place the smaller bowl into the center of the ice and whisk regularly until cool.

Whisk in the can of coconut milk, the cinnamon, the Cointreau, and the lime juice. Process with an ice cream maker according to the ice cream maker directions. Scrape into a container and place in the freezer for several hours to firm up.

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Summer is almost over! What summer foods or recipes are you hoping to try before the season is gone? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!


Roasted Chile Salsa Verde

For weeks, I’ve been receiving more chiles and tomatillos than I can manage in my CSA share. Serranos, cherry peppers, jalapenos, banana peppers, and Big Jim (a.k.a. Hatch or Anaheim) chiles all make their way into my kitchen. In addition, I planted Big Jim and sweet bell peppers in the garden, so I’m collecting even more when I venture outside each day. And what does a person do when confronted with too many chiles and tomatillos?

Make salsa, of course.

I’ve made three batches of this stuff so far this summer, plus a batch of tomato salsa. If more tomatillos make their way into my share, I’m sure more salsa will come. I love it – we often enjoy tacos for dinner, and I spoon copious amounts of it on top. I stir it into zucchini dishes, throw it in my eggs, and I even use it as salad dressing. The surplus is frozen (I don’t always feel up to canning), so I can enjoy the fresh taste of summer in January when I’m tired of winter squash and potatoes.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve shared a salsa verde recipe before. This one, however, is a touch different, because of the variety of chiles used. This time around, I threw a ton of chiles in the salsa – banana peppers, Big Jims, and a few serranos just for heat. But I also roasted those chiles (and the tomatillos) for a subtle, smoky sweetness. (Have you ever eaten a freshly roasted tomatillo? It’s amazingly sweet.) A quick blitz in the food processor, a pinch of salt and a taste or two, and this salsa was born.

I still am finding ways to use up more chiles. I roasted two baking pans full of Big Jims this weekend and put them up in the freezer. They’ll come in handy for any number of recipes (like Peach Hatch Chile Cobbler). I also threw a bunch of cherry peppers and jalapenos into a brine to pickle them – we’ll see how that turns out. I also put up some habanero-pear jam yesterday afternoon (yes, I’ll share the recipe soon, I promise!). And there are still peppers hanging about in the kitchen. It’s a nice problem to have, if you ask me!

Roasted Chile Salsa Verde

2-3 lbs tomatillos, husks removed

1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced in half

6 large cloves garlic, peeled

5-6 banana peppers

4-5 Big Jim peppers

2-3 serrano peppers

Juice of 1/2 lime

large handful of cilantro, chopped (about 1/4-1/3 cup)

Pinch or two of ground cumin

Salt to taste

Line a baking sheet with foil, and turn on the broiler. Place the tomatillos, onion (cut-side down), garlic cloves, and peppers on the baking sheet and place under the broiler. Broil until the skins of the peppers and tomatillos blacken (about 5 minutes, depending on your broiler – don’t wander too far off!), and turn over with tongs. Broil the other side until blackened. Remove baking sheet and place chiles into a large bowl. Cover the bowl with foil or plastic wrap and set aside for 5-10 minutes to cool. This will allow the residual heat to “steam” off the skins of the chiles, making for easy peeling.

Place the tomatillos, garlic cloves, and onion in the bowl of a food processor. Once chiles have cooled, remove the stems, skins, and seeds from the chiles (plastic gloves might come in handy here, especially if you don’t wish to feel the heat of those chiles later when you decide to scratch your eye!), and place the chiles into the food processor. (You may not be able to get the skins off on the smaller chiles, such as the serranos – this is fine, just throw them in.) Pulse the processor as many times as necessary to break down the vegetable pieces into small bits. Add the lime juice, cilantro, cumin, and salt and pulse again. Taste and adjust seasoning – does it need more lime juice? More salt? Add a bit more as needed and pulse again to blend.

Store in glass jars in the refrigerator for about a week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Print Recipe

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Giveaway: Pure Alaska Salmon Company (Cilantro-Lime Salmon Salad in Avocado Cups)

Disclaimer: I received a sample of Pure Alaska Salmon Company’s products for free in exchange for a review. This in no way influenced my review.

This giveaway has ended! Congratulations to commenter #85, Kathleen Conner!

Salmon is a favorite in our home. We don’t eat it as often as we should, because honestly, it’s not inexpensive. We live in the landlocked Dallas area, far, far away from the Pacific Northwest, where healthy, nourishing salmon is abundant. So while I know we’re supposed to get a healthy dose of those fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon, we generally only end up eating it about once or twice a month.

We do try to eat some other canned oily fish as well, namely tuna (the no-salt-added, soy-free varieties), and I am a fan of kippers and sardines. They make good last-minute sources of protein and pack well in a lunch. But until now, I’ve shunned canned salmon. I didn’t like the smell or the texture (and I’m definitely NOT a picky eater). So when Shirley of Pure Alaska Salmon Company contacted me about her canned salmon, I was up front with her about my opinions. She called me her “challenge”. I was willing to try the salmon out – after all, it was supposed to be a high-quality, straight-forward product. Nowadays, I’m limiting my reviews of products to only those I feel positive about, those that fit into our diet and healthier way of eating. Since the ingredients in Pure Alaska Salmon Company’s products are only salmon and salt (in the salt-added varieties), this fit the bill nicely. I was game. Of course, I arranged to get some samples to give to you as well, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Pure Alaska Salmon Company is owned by the Zuanich family, who resides in Alaska and has been in the fishing industry for generations. Their company is committed to bringing consumers sustainably harvested, healthy, delicious wild salmon. Wild salmon is preferred to farmed salmon because of its superior nutritional content and sustainable, eco-friendly harvesting practices. Also – did you know they dye farmed salmon pink with artificial coloring? Only wild salmon is naturally pink because of their diet. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, and calcium, as well as a great source of protein. Mercury levels are also very low in wild Alaskan salmon, so it’s a safer choice.

I was delighted to see that the samples sent to me included a dozen cans of various types of wild Alaskan salmon, both “red” (sockeye) and “pink”. I couldn’t wait to try them out. Even though my previous experiences with canned salmon were less than ideal, I love trying new things!

Needless to say, my opinions have changed. The first can I opened was the ThinkPink salmon, which is a pink Alaskan salmon that has a milder taste and can be substituted for canned tuna in just about any recipe. The texture is excellent – there are large chunks and fillets in the can (not like the mushy, near-shredded texture I associate with canned salmon). I was happy just to take bites of salmon straight from the can.

But then, after eyeing the avocados that needed to be eaten, an idea struck me. What if I used the avocados as a cup for a salad? Then you could enjoy a creamy bite with the salmon salad, without a ton of mayonnaise or other heavy dressing so often found in traditional seafood salads. And just like that, as I pulled the rest of the ingredients from the refrigerator, this salad was born.

It’s a great, super-speedy appetizer salad, perfect for a first course or a light lunch. I opted to eat it along with a bunch of mixed salad greens for dinner the other night, and it was lovely, fresh and bright.

Cilantro-Lime Salmon Salad in Avocado Cups (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

1 7.5 oz can of Pure Alaska Salmon Co. salmon (I used their ThinkPink Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon)

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/2 t olive oil

1/2 green apple, diced

1 T green onion, minced

1 T cilantro, chopped

1/2 t fresh serrano pepper, minced

1/8 t ground cumin

Pinch or two of smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

2 avocados, sliced in half, pits removed

In a medium bowl, gently toss the salmon, lime juice, olive oil, apple, green onion, cilantro, serrano, cumin and paprika until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss again.

Scoop salmon salad into the “cup” made by the removal of the pit in each avocado half. Serve with additional smoked paprika sprinkled on top, if desired.

Makes 4 appetizer-sized servings.

photo courtesy of Pure Alaska Salmon Company

Oh, yes, the giveaway. Don’t think I forgot about you. Pure Alaska Salmon Company has agreed to give one of my lucky readers a sampler pack, which includes a dozen cans of their Redhead and ThinkPink canned salmon. What a great way to stock your pantry with some healthy, easy, delicious options. How do you enter? Here’s how:

  • You get one entry by leaving me a comment below telling me what you’d like to make with canned salmon.

You can get additional entries by doing the following:

  • “Like” Pure Alaska Salmon Company on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did so,
  • “Follow” Pure Alaska Salmon Company on Twitter and leave me a comment telling me you did so,
  • “Like” Tasty Eats At Home on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did  so,
  • “Follow” Tasty Eats At Home on Facebook and leave me a comment telling me you did so,
  • Post an update on Facebook or Tweet about this giveaway, tagging Pure Alaska Salmon Company and Tasty Eats At Home.

This giveaway will end at 11:59 PM CDT on Sunday, March 25, 2012, so act quickly! No purchase necessary – just your comments, and bonus likes and follows!

Best of luck to you!


Menudo Rojo

This is the kind of dish that evokes strong opinions, at least where I live. There are devoted lovers of menudo, and there are avid haters. (Obviously, I’m of the former group, or I wouldn’t be posting a recipe.) Rarely do I meet someone who is on the fence. When faced with a steaming, spicy, filling, healing stew (some say it’s a hangover cure), with a mountain of tortillas to enjoy alongside, why would anyone despise this dish? Most of the time, it has to do with tripe. Tripe is scary, gross, or otherwise unthinkable to some. It’s not a “normal” cut of meat in my part of the world, so it’s frowned upon and shunned in favor of the fancier cuts. My opinion? That we should cozy up to tripe – give tripe a chance!

What is tripe? Tripe is made from the first three chambers of an animal’s stomach (usually beef). The type most commonly found in Latin markets and most commonly used in menudo is honeycomb tripe, which comes from the third chamber. You will most likely find it already thoroughly cleaned, so it will look white, have a honeycomb texture, and should have very little odor to it, if any at all. (Sometimes you might find a grayish version – this type needs to be rinsed well and boiled for a while to remove any grittiness.) The advantages to tripe? If you’re into nose-to-tail eating, tripe will definitely need to be considered. (I’m in favor of sustainable eating. Shouldn’t be throwing away perfectly good parts just because they’re not steaks or roasts. Sometimes, the offal is the true delicacy.) It’s a good, inexpensive source of animal protein – it sells for a fraction of the price of other cuts of beef. Most of the time, all that cleaning is done for you at the butcher, so it is not extremely difficult to prepare. It also adds a lovely textural contrast to soups – simmered long enough, it becomes slightly chewy, but also giving and soft. It is not strongly flavored, and is more apt to take on the flavors added in a recipe than imparting its own. It is a key component in menudo, one of the more popular Mexican soups available.

Menudo is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast, often on New Years’ Day, but can be enjoyed on just about any weekend morning. Imagine a large bowl, filled with chili-spiced pork broth, bits of pork and tripe, hominy, laced with lime juice, and garnished with onion, cilantro, and fresh chiles. You pick up a fresh corn tortilla, roll it up, and dip a bit in the soup, and enjoy. Spoonful after spoonful opens your weary eyes with a spicy kick, and your whole body warms and is awakened. If you’re like me, that heat, complimented by the fresh lime and cilantro, is an addictive, delicious combination.  It’s an amazing thing when salty, fiery, meaty, and piquant flavors combine – it’s almost an explosion that knocks you back, but keeps you coming back for more. You might decide that this should become a regular meal in your rotation, especially in chilly months. (Of course, I could enjoy menudo any time of year!) For me, this is a comfort food – the warmth that the soup gives my body brings a sense of calm and happiness. Why that is, I’m not sure. I just know this is good stuff.

If you’ve been shy about tripe before, give it a try in menudo. Cut it into small, manageable bits, so that you can enjoy bite-sized morsels without feeling overwhelmed. You might find that you enjoy this new nose-to-tail eating thing, and feel better for it. Menudo will cure what ails you!

Menudo Rojo, adapted from Diana Kennedy’s The Art of Mexican Cooking

1 ½ lbs honeycomb tripe, rinsed well and cut into 1-inch squares

2 pigs feet (trotters), halved

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled

8 peppercorns

2 t kosher salt, or to taste

2 t Mexican oregano

4 quarts water

4 dried ancho chiles

3 dried guajillo chiles

1 large Hatch chile (or Anaheim or poblano), roasted, peeled, and chopped (can substitute canned green chiles)

1 15-oz can white hominy, drained

1 t ground cumin

To serve:

Dried oregano


Chopped onions

Chopped cilantro

Corn tortillas

Place the tripe, pigs feet, onion, garlic, peppercorns, salt, oregano, and water in a large stockpot or soup pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the tripe and foot are tender but not too soft.

Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and toast on a dry skillet for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Pour enough water to cover, and allow to simmer at a low heat, soaking the chiles.

Remove the pigs feet from the pot and set aside. When cool enough to touch, remove the fleshy parts and either tear into small pieces or chop, and return to pot. Add the hominy and Hatch chile to the pot.

Remove the soaking chiles from the water and place in a blender along with the cumin. Ladle about a cup of the simmering broth from the pot into the blender, and puree until very smooth. (Add additional broth if necessary) Pour chile puree into the simmering pot and stir in. Allow to cook for about 2 hours (or more) a low simmer. Season with additional salt as necessary.

Serve in large bowls, with oregano, limes, onions, cilantro, and tortillas at the table for each guest to customize their own bowl.

Serves 8.

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program: Pace Picante Sauce and Enchilada Sauce

What do you do when Foodbuzz gives you Pace Picante sauce? Make enchiladas, of course!

As a Featured Publisher and a member of the Tastemaker program at Foodbuzz, I periodically get opportunities to receive free samples of delicious food from various vendors. Previously, I received a huge box of avocados (one of my most favorite fruits ever) and made ice cream with some of my bounty. Most of the time, I don’t participate – there aren’t a lot of products out there that I can eat. But when Foodbuzz announced they were giving away free Pace Picante sauce to members of the Tastemaker program, I was on board. While I love to make homemade salsa, I am already extremely low on our supply from the summer (only 1 jar left!), and wouldn’t dare use it for enchilada sauce. And while I could make enchilada sauce from scratch (as I’ve done here and here), it was a weeknight when I made these, and the Pace Picante sauce streamlined the process considerably.

While the photo may not represent just how tasty these were (enchiladas are not exactly the most photogenic of all foods), let me assure you – they were quite delicious. Let me let you in on another little secret – these enchiladas were completely grain-free as well! That’s right – no tortillas. See, I can tolerate corn from time to time, but generally, I try to avoid it. (Yes, those are corn tortilla chips you see gracing the plate. That’s mostly decoration for me, although I might have snuck a bite.) What do I use instead? Egg crepes! Carol over at Simply…Gluten-Free has a recipe. Honestly though, you barely need the recipe – these are so easy. I made up a bunch, and gently rolled them around a filling, and place them in the baking dish, just like you would any other enchiladas. This time, my filling was a mixture of leftover cooked chicken, a bit of enchilada sauce, and sauteed spinach – but you can use anything. I’ve previously filled them with cooked chicken and a bit of leftover butternut squash puree. (That was so delicious, by the way!) It might sound odd, but these are just as satisfying as any tortilla-based enchilada. Just roll them up, place in a baking dish, spoon some sauce over, and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Dinner is served!

Pace Picante Enchilada Sauce

1 16oz jar Pace Picante sauce (your choice – hot, medium, or mild. I used mild for this sauce)

1 t ground chipotle chile powder

2 t ground cumin

1 1/2 c water

Blend all ingredients together. Spoon over enchiladas as desired.

A big thanks to Foodbuzz for the opportunity!

Gluten-Free Holiday: Christmas and Hanukkah Favorites – Tamales

It’s week 4 of Gluten-Free Holiday and this week’s theme is Christmas and Hanukkah Favorites – specifically, entrees and side dishes. Hanukkah is already in full swing, and Christmas is just weeks away. Diane over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang is hosting this week, and is sharing this amazing recipe for chipolatas. Seriously, they make my mouth water just looking at them. And of course, in our Gluten-Free Holiday style, there are more amazing gluten-free cookbooks to win.

One copy of Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found The Food That Loves Me Back…And You Can Too by Shauna James Ahern.

And one copy of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, also by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern.

One copy of Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller,

And three e-book trios, each including one copy of Sweet Freedom, one copy of Desserts Without Compromise, and one copy of Anti-Candida Feast Ebook, all by Ricki Heller of Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

My submission for this week’s theme is something that I look forward to every holiday season – tamales. While I don’t always make my own, I have found that they’re not all that difficult to make. (They are time-consuming, however.) But it’s great fun, and you’ll be rewarded with a lovely, spicy, flavorful treat.

Many times, we will get together with my husband’s side of the family on Christmas Eve. Rather than a fancy, sit-down Christmas dinner, we instead enjoy a casual, but generous spread of various snack foods, ranging from the ever-famous cheese dip to cookies and cake. In the past few years, we’ve brought tamales to our celebration, and they’re always a huge hit. With a bit of salsa, bottled hot sauce, or even unadorned, they are the perfect way to ring in the season. I highly suggest you try to make tamales once – it’s a fun experience, and you’ll be rewarded with delicious treats and smiles from all.

Read my tamales recipe here. And don’t forget to visit The W.H.O.L.E. Gang and link up your favorite recipes for Christmas and Hanukkah entrees or side dishes, and enter for a chance to win some amazing cookbooks!

Daring Cooks: Food Preservation and Fresh Tomato Salsa

 The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

The recipes John suggested to make and preserve were apple butter and a tomato bruschetta. I contemplated making apple butter, but as both of these recipes were for things that usually top bread or toast – something that is a rarity in our household – I opted for something that would be more popular and useful for our family in the coming months. When I visited the farmers market and scored a huge cardboard box full of “sauce-ready” (meaning less-than-perfect) tomatoes for $10, the deal was sealed. I was going to can salsa.

I have prepared salsa many times on the fly for meals during the summer months. With fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, and herbs, how could I not? But when winter comes, I’m forced to buy jars of salsa from the grocery. While I’ve found some decent brands, nothing compares to salsa made with ingredients at the peak of freshness. I have not spent a great deal of time canning in the past (I’ve made pickles and jam, but that’s about it), but I had the general process down, so I got started.

First step was roasting some of the vegetables. While it’s not mandatory to do so, roasting the veggies gives the salsa more depth and an oh-so-subtle sweetness. This took a while, as I had a lot of tomatoes. But the blitz in the food processor was easy (gotta love food processors!), and then my attention was turned to canning the salsa. And of course, the best part – listening to the cooling jars for that satisfying “pop” of the lids, ensuring that my jars were sealed and I was successful!

This recipe is for a large quantity of salsa (it makes about a gallon!), but of course you can cut it back to suit your needs, and of course, you don’t have to can it. It’s excellent eaten as soon as it’s made. Of course, if you do choose to can, you’ll have that satisfaction of knowing that in the gray, chilly days of February, you can open a jar and taste the freshness of summer all over again.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

25-30 large tomatoes

22-25 garlic cloves, unpeeled

7 large yellow onions, cut in half and unpeeled

10 hot chiles, such as jalapenos or serranos

Juice of 2 large limes

1/3 c cilantro, chopped

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground chipotle chile powder

2-3 t salt (to taste)

Preheat the broiler in the oven and place the top rack about 6-8 inches below the burner. Line rimmed baking sheets with foil. Place tomatoes, garlic cloves, halved onions, and peppers on the baking sheets and broil, turning as necessary, until skins are blackened and tomatoes and peppers are soft. Remove and allow to cool. (You will likely have to do this in batches) Remove skins from garlic cloves and onions, and remove skins and seeds from jalapenos. Place vegetables in food processor and process until no large chunks remain. (If you like a chunkier salsa, you might like to pre-chop the vegetables so that you don’t have to process in the food processor so long. We like a thinner salsa, so I just let it nearly puree the vegetables.) You will likely have to process salsa in batches as well. Place in a large bowl and add in cilantro, lime juice, and spices. Stir and taste. Add salt as needed and stir.

To can: Heat clean jars and new lids in simmering water for at least 10 minutes (this will prevent the jars from breaking and will help to sterilize the jars). Prepare the canning pot by bringing water to a near-boil. Remove the jars from the water and fill the jars with salsa, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Clean rims of jars well and add lids. Screw the threaded lids on the jar until fingertip tight. Lower the jars into the canning pot and make sure they are covered by the water by at least an inch or two. Bring the water to a boil and process for 12 minutes. Remove and place jars on a towel on the counter. Allow to sit and come to room temperature for 12 hours. You might hear the lids pop – this is a good thing. Check the jars to ensure they sealed properly – the lid should be concave in the center. Remove the threaded part of the lid and attempt to lift by just the lid – you should be able to lift without the lid coming off. If the lid comes off, then reprocess or refrigerate and use within a week or two.

Makes about 8 pint-sized jars of salsa.

This post is linked to Real Food Weekly.

End of Summer Peach Salsa

I am honored to say that I am guest blogging over at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free today. Come on over and check out this super-fast peach salsa and celebrate fresh summer produce before it’s gone!