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Crock Pot Pinto Beans with Bacon and Potatoes

6 Sep

These are incredibly flavorful, incredibly simple pinto beans that go great with crusty bread or Mexican cornbread. Cooking them on high for five to six hours instead of on low for ten to twelve results in tender-firm beans that, thrown together at lunchtime, are ready by dinner. The beans thicken nicely with the addition of the potatoes. You’ll need to soak the beans and the ham hock overnight, so keep that in mind for your dining plans.

- 1 pound pinto beans
- 1 ham hock
- water

- 2 cups beef broth
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper

- 1 15oz can white potatoes, diced
- 1 lb bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

To prepare the beans and ham hock overnight:

Soak the beans overnight – place in a large bowl and cover with water two inches above the level of the beans. Cover and leave on the counter. Soak the ham hock overnight – place in a small stock pot, cover with water, cover with a lid, and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day:

Drain and rinse the beans, and place them in the crock pot. Place the ham hock in the crock pot with the beans, and reserve the soaking liquid. Pour the beef broth over the beans, add the chopped onion, oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pour in the liquid from the ham hock, until the beans and hock are covered (you may not use all of the liquid – if you run out, add water). Stir well to combine.

Set crock pot on HIGH and cook for five to six hours.

In the final half-hour of cooking time, cook the bacon until very crisp, and crumble. Reserve two TBSP of bacon grease, and fry the diced potatoes until golden. Add the bacon and the potatoes to the beans and stir. Continue cooking the beans until they are the desired tenderness (mine are done usually right at five hours, but I let them sit on “keep warm” for another few hours until we’re ready to eat, and they’re just fine).

Remove the ham hock (you can chop the meat up and add it back in – I don’t really care for hock meat myself) and serve the beans with bread, sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced jalapeños, etc. IF there are any leftovers, they keep well in the refrigerator for several days.

Potato Leek Soup

10 May

- 3.5 pounds russet potatoes (about seven medium), peeled, halved, and sliced thin
- 3 medium sized leeks, whites and small part of tender green sliced thin (about 2 cups)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp flour*
- 10 oz bacon, diced
- 5 cups chicken stock or broth
- 3 cups water
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven or heavy soup pot, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate covered with a paper towel.

Sauté the leeks in the bacon fat over medium heat until lightly browned, about five minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, stir well to combine, and cook until lightly browned, about five minutes.

Pour in the broth and water, stir and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add the potatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until potatoes start to break down and soup thickens, about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, half-and-half, and egg yolks. Take one cup of the soup broth and mix it in. Pour mixture into soup pot and stir – DO NOT allow the soup to return to a simmer or the mixture will curdle. Add the basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir constantly for about five minutes, until soup is thickened and heated through. Stir in the bacon. Serve.

Makes 8 servings.

* For gluten free, replace flour with gluten-free flour of choice.

Potato Broccoli Cheese Soup

6 Jan

(Modified from the recipe in Dishing Up Maine by Brooke Dojny.)

Prep & cooking time: About 40 minutes total
Serves about six

Ingredients:
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 1/2 sweet onion, chopped (a half-cup or so of green onions would work well, too)
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 3 cups chicken broth or stock
- 4 cups russet potatoes, peeled and diced (4-5 small-ish potatoes)
- 5 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
- 2 cups half-and-half (light cream)
- 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire (optional)
- 1 tsp Tabasco (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add dry mustard, stir, and cook for about one minute. Add the chicken broth, stir, then add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, steam or boil the broccoli until tender, 5-10 minutes. Drain.

When potatoes are tender, use a slotted spoon to remove about one cup of the potatoes. Put on a plate and mash well with a fork, then return to the pot. This will thicken the soup.

Add the half-and-half to the pot, stir, then add in the cooked broccoli. Heat until very hot, but not boiling (boiling will cause the cream to curdle – doesn’t change the taste but makes the texture a little unattractive). Stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. If using, stir in the Worcestershire and Tabasco. Sprinkle in the nutmeg and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

This recipe would probably be excellent with some crisp-cooked crumbled bacon added in at the end, or added to individual bowls. I really haven’t found too many circumstances where bacon wouldn’t improve a potato-based soup.

Baked Orange Roughy

11 Jun

This is a light, simple fish entree that pairs well with roasted vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts – something green to brighten up the plate). Serve with rice pilaf or a dinner salad.

Serves two, generously.

- Two fillets of orange roughy (about one pound total)
- Two tsp olive oil
- Two tbsp salted butter
- Two tbsp garlic, finely minced
- Salt
- Lemon pepper, or regular pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse fish fillets and pat dry with paper towels.

Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lightly brush both sides of each fish fillet with olive oil and arrange on baking sheet.

Spread one tbsp of garlic on each fillet, then dot each with one tbsp butter. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is no longer opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

Five Flavor Pork Roast for the Crock Pot

22 Dec

You can mix up the herbs and spices used for this pork roast, it’s a very flexible recipe. I use:

- One 4-5 lb pork roast (bone-in or boneless), any cut, whatever is preferred
- Five cloves fresh garlic, sliced or quartered
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- One sprig fresh or two tsp dried rosemary, crushed
- One tsp. dried oregano
- One tsp. paprika
- One tsp. onion powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- One cup chicken or pork broth or stock

- Optional: 1-2 tbsp. any brand of fruit or citrus jam or marmalade (stirred until smooth), or a fruit jam made with hot peppers (like Crooked Acres Strawberry-Habanero Jam!).

With the tip of a sharp knife, cut several deep slits into all sides of the roast. Insert garlic slices into the slits, pushing them in at least several inches. Combine all spices in a small bowl, then rub all sides of the roast FIRMLY with the spice mixture, pressing into the pork to ensure the spices adhere.

Heat butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown each side of the roast, turning every two to three minutes. Remove roast from skillet and place in a large crock pot. Brush with jam or marmalade, if using. Pour broth or stock over roast, cover, and cook on LOW for 10-11 hours.

Serve with sweet potatoes or white potatoes, rice, or egg noodles. To make gravy, remove juices from crock pot into a medium saucepan, heat until boiling, and thicken with 2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water.

Sonoran Chicken (Crock Pot)

20 Apr

- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can sweet corn, drained
- 1.5 – 2 cups salsa of choice
- 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional – can also use nacho style jalapenos in a jar)
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp worcestershire
- your favorite spicy seasonings, to taste (red tabasco, green tabasco, Cholula, mexican spiced salt, etc.)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese -or- 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, cheddar/jack, mexican blend, etc.)
- garnish – tortilla chips, sour cream, etc.

Place chicken breast halves in the crock pot. In a large bowl, mix together beans, corn, salsa, jalapeno, garlic, worcestershire, spices, salt and pepper. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on LOW for six hours. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, add cubed cream cheese or shredded cheese to the crock pot, continue to cook until melted.

Serve with warm flour tortillas, or accompanied with spanish rice or skillet fried potatoes.

Sauteed Summer Squash

9 Mar

- Three medium yellow summer squash
- Two medium zucchini
- One can diced tomatoes
- Two cloves garlic, minced
- One half sweet onion, chopped
- Two tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- Two tbsp. olive oil
- Italian seasonings
- Salt and pepper to taste

Slice squash and zucchini into 1/4-inch thick slices. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sautee garlic and onion until transparent. Add squash and zucchini and sautee until desired tenderness is achieved. Pour canned tomatoes over vegetables and stir; add italian seasonings, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Reduce, uncovered, over medium heat for approximately five minutes. Serve as a vegetable side dish or main dish served over rice or noodles.

Pan Fried Pork Chops or Chicken Breasts, with gravy

26 Feb

Meat:
- 4 large pork chops (boneless or bone-in) or chicken breasts (boneless)
- 1/2 to 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup flour or bread crumbs, or a combination of both**
- meat tenderizer
- salt and pepper
- chicken or pork shake-on seasoning

Gravy:
- 2 cups chicken or pork broth, or 1 cup water or milk and 1 cup broth (boullion cubes can be used here to make the broth)
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1/4 cup milk or water
- Drippings, “crunchies” (the browned bits of coating that my family fights over) and pan juices from cooking the meat

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, rinse the pork chops or chicken breasts and pat dry. Sprinkle tenderizer, salt, pepper, and seasonings on meat. Poke with a fork to incorporate spices into the meat. Place each piece of meat into the flour and press down to adhere, turn and repeat on each side twice to thoroughly coat.

Place chops or breasts two at a time in the heated oil (to check to see if oil is hot enough, wet fingers under faucet and carefully drip one or two drops of water into the oil – if it hisses and spatters, the oil is hot enough). Cook without turning for five minutes on one side. Carefully turn over and cook for five minutes on the other side. The coating will now be firmly adhered so if additional browning and cooking is required, it is now safe to turn the meat over as needed (tongs are easiest, I find). Cook until thoroughly browned and juices (when a slit is cut into the thickest part of the meat) run clear.

Set meat aside and cover to keep warm.

To make the gravy – skim out all but four tablespoons of oil from the skillet. Leave all the browned bits. Carefully pour the broth or broth/water/milk combination into the pan. Whisk to combine juices and browned bits. Heat to boiling. Combine the corn starch and water or milk in a small bowl until smooth. Gradually pour corn starch mixture into broth mixture while whisking continuously. Add enough of the corn starch mixture to thicken the gravy as preferred (it may not require all of it).

Serve the chicken or pork and gravy with rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes.

**For a gluten free recipe, use rice flour or crushed Corn Flakes (which work really well).

Baked Enchiladas

25 Feb

- 3 cups cooked beef roast (use leftovers!) (-or- cooked chicken -or- cooked pork -or- a combination of any/all three -or- sauteed peppers, onions, spinach, or other vegetables for vegetarian enchiladas)
- 3/4 cup salsa of choice (we use a mild red)
- 1 sm. can (one to three oz) diced mild green chilis
- 1 32-oz can mild green enchilada sauce
- 1 16-oz can refried beans
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 cups cooked rice (we use instant rice)
- 6 large (burrito size, or 12 inch or larger) flour tortillas**
- Additional salsa
- Shredded cheese of choice (we use a cheddar/jack combo)
- Garnish recommendations: Sliced jalapenos, Sour cream, sliced black olives, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×15 casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Shred the beef roast into a skillet. Add 3/4 cup salsa, green chilis, and 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce. Stir to combine and heat over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, combine refried beans and water in a bowl and stir to combine until smooth. Prepare rice.

Line six flour tortillas on the counter, assembly-line fashion. Place 1/4 cup (or two heaping spoonfuls) of refried bean mixture onto each tortilla and spread down the center, stopping about 2-inches from the edges. Place 1/4 cup of beef mixture on top of refried beans. Place 1/4 cup rice on top of beef. Sprinkle each with two tbsp of salsa and 1/4 cup shredded cheese (or to taste). Keep in mind to stay away from the edges of the tortilla throughout!

To roll the enchiladas, fold one side over the ingredients. Fold top and bottom over the inside, then roll lengthwise to create a closed-ended wrap. Place side-by-side in casserole dish.

enchilada1 enchilada2

enchilada3 enchilada4

enchilada5

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and pour remainder of enchilada sauce over all. Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle generously with shredded cheese. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove and serve with sour cream, jalapenos, additional salsa, additional cheese, black olives, shredded lettuce, or whatever garnish you desire.

enchilada6 enchilada7

You will likely have leftover refried beans, rice, and roast mixture. Combine all in a large bowl and heat for an excellent dip served with tortilla chips, or for fast lunchtime burritos. Very versitile leftovers!

**For gluten free recipe, substitute flour tortillas with corn and roll taquito-style.

Chili Chicken

13 Feb

Four medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or eight b/s thighs)
1 can chili with beans
1 can diced or stewed tomatoes
1 cup (or more!) shredded cheese
Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper

Place chicken in an ungreased baking dish. Top with tomatoes. Season to taste with italian seasonings, salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Remove from oven and carefully drain off the majority of the liquid using a spoon or ladel (this is what I do, anyway, it doesn’t hurt anything to leave the liquid in). Spoon chili over each chicken breast and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven, top with cheese, and return to oven for five more minutes.

Recommended served with rice.