Gluten-Free Pierogies

OK, so they’re not actually pierogies. They’re more like cheese dumplings, but they’re quite tasty! The recipe is a modification of one that my husband’s family gave me.

With an electric mixer, mix 2 cups of Arrowhead Mills organic gluten-free baking mix, 2 eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/3 cup of whole milk.

Take the dough out of the mixer and knead it on a piece of waxed paper. Once it has reached the consistency of pizza dough–well, it’ll never quite get there, because it’s gluten-free, but aim for it–tear off small pieces, flatten them, fill them with Georgic cheese, and pinch them closed. Be sure to seal them completely. Boil three or four pierogies at a time in a large pot of boiling, heavily salted water, for 10 minutes. After boiling the pierogies, fry them in butter (I like Kerrygold salted butter … mmmmm). Keep them warm in the oven or serve them immediately, plain or topped with maple syrup or sour cream. Enjoy!

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What to Cook When You Can’t Leave the House and All the Meat Is Gone

Ah, yes: the joys of parenting. This week, my daughter and I had a nasty upper respiratory virus. Neither of us wanted to do much except watch movies, play board games, and color. Further complicating the situation was an unfortunate stock-out at our farmers’ market delivery service, which meant that we ran out of meat on Wednesday and had only six eggs left after lunch today.

What to do for dinner tonight? I made like a fifties housewife and casseroled it:

Set 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese out to soften.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Steam fresh broccoli florets by placing in rice cooker’s steamer basket, which is resting on top of a pot with one inch of water in it; boil the water until the florets turn bright green. Place the steamed florets in a Pyrex dish; cover it to keep them warm.

Make pasta. I like Mrs. Leeper’s organic corn spaghetti; I made half of the package.

Drain the pasta; then stir in both packages of cream cheese over low heat. Add 1/2 bottle of honey mustard. Stir until thoroughly mixed, then add steamed broccoli. Stir the whole thing together, transfer it from the pot to the Pyrex dish, and bake it (uncovered) for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Cheating

As I’ve mentioned before, when I cook, I take a whole food (a vegetable, fruit, meat, or fish) or some combination of whole foods, and I saute/fry/bake/roast it with a combination of seasonings and/or acid and/or fat. Occasionally, however, I cheat. If you’re pressed for time, there’s no shame in short-cutting by cooking a main ingredient or two with a well-chosen commercially prepared sauce. I use only glass jarred sauces, because I’m concerned about the BPA lining in metal cans, and I write down the ingredients so I can try to mix my own version when I have more time and more ingredients on hand.

Here are three of my favorite “cheating” recipes:

Sesame Ginger Pork Chops

Place four boneless pork chops (roughly 3/4 inch thick) in a Pyrex baking dish. Cover with Annie’s Naturals Organic Sesame Ginger salad dressing. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Confirm done-ness of pork with a meat thermometer.

French Shrimp

Gently heat 1 pound of cooked, deveined shrimp in a skillet with 1/2 bottle of Annie’s Naturals Organic French salad dressing. Pour the whole skillet into a 9×9-inch Pyrex baking dish (can you tell I love my Pyrex?) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Serve plain, over rice, or over egg noodles.

…and here’s one for the vegetarians:

Indian-Style Rice and Beans

I’m not of Indian descent, so this is not an authentic recipe. However, the sauce is richly seasoned with south Asian spices.

Rinse 2 cups of lentils and remove any non-lentil bits that may be present. In a Dutch / French oven (like this awesome one my parents gave me), heat the lentils to a boil (slowly–you never want to blast the heat on a Dutch / French oven… get there slowly with a slightly tilted lid) with 3 cups of water and 1 container of this amazing tikka masala sauce. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 60 minutes. Check the lentils periodically to ensure that the liquid hasn’t boiled away. Add more water as necessary, but don’t add too much–you don’t want them to get soupy.

While you are cooking the lentils, prepare 2 cups of rice according to package directions.

Serve lentils over rice.

Allow Me to Sing the Praises of Super Flour

I clicked over to Jen Maan in Amman’s blog the other day and found an amazing cupcake recipe. I’m not going to steal it; I’ll let you click over there and read it yourself.

I will, however, add one note: I have a relative with celiac disease and a few young relatives with food allergies, so I like to work with recipes that can be modified to be suitable for family gatherings. Additionally, I prefer a gluten-free lifestyle, so I bake gluten-free 99.9% of the time.

I am happy to report that you can substitute Living Intentions Sprouted Super Flour (gluten-free and dairy-free) for the flour in this recipe, and it tastes amazing. This flour does contain almonds, so it’s not suitable for people with nut allergies, and I didn’t try making the recipe with dairy substitutes, but if celiac is your only dietary issue, you can totally make these cupcakes and LOVE them. (Yeah, I didn’t give up cupcakes for Lent.)

Simple Sausages and Apples

This hardly qualifies as cooking, since the quality of the ingredients almost entirely determines how good it tastes, but I have loved this dish since I was a child. It’s a great thing to put in the oven if you have work to do and want to get dinner squared away before getting started on your work.

You’ll need a pound of pork sausage links (the breakfast kind); I get mine from Pure Sprouts. If you are lucky enough to live in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, you can get yours there, too. If not, Organic Prairie is a good substitute. Yes, they’re expensive; non-factory-farmed pork is expensive. It also tastes much better, is better for the environment, and is less guilt-inducing because the animal had a good life before it became your dinner.

Slice five or six medium to large Fuji apples. Place them in a large Pyrex baking dish and cover them with the breakfast links. Pour maple syrup over the whole thing and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees. I like to bake it covered for 60 minutes and then uncovered for another 30. If the pork isn’t done by then (use a meat thermometer to check), you can re-cover it with foil and bake another 30 minutes.

Asian-Style Stir-Fry

I can’t claim any authenticity for this one–I have no Asian heritage–but it does contain some Asian seasonings. It’s pretty quick and easy to make, and it involves the stove, not the oven, so it’s a good spring and summer recipe. Why make the house hotter, right?

Cut 1.5 pounds of chicken breast into strips. Heat 3 tablespoons of sesame oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. One at a time, add 2 tablespoons each of the following seasonings: ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, and ground cumin; stir between additions. Add chicken strips and stir-fry until completely cooked. (You can cut a strip in half while it’s still in the skillet to check for done-ness.) Optional: add a small splash of tamari, raise heat for 20 seconds, then serve.

Pancake Dinner!

My daughter loves Fridays in Lent, because they usually involve at least one pancake meal. Any entree that she can top with syrup or honey makes her happy. She’s too young to be required to abstain from meat, but it’s easier for me to make the same meal for all three of us, unless I have a leftover cutlet I can reheat for her (and then it’s hard-boiled eggs and salad for the adults in the house).

Here is the simple pancake recipe I use–simple in part because it involves a gluten-free flour mix:

Combine 1 cup Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Mix, 1 egg, 1 generous tablespoon of honey, and 1/3 – 1/4 cup of whole milk yogurt in a large bowl. Mix by hand with a spoon until completely blended.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a cast-iron crepe pan (like this awesome one my in-laws gave me) over very low heat. Scoop 1/4 of the batter onto the pan and spread it out a bit with a wooden spoon. Cook over very low heat until bubbles rise to the surface, then flip with the wooden spoon. Yes, this takes a bit of finesse, but you can do it. If I can do it, you can definitely do it 🙂 Cook another 30-45 seconds on the second side, then slide the finished pancake onto a plate and top it however you like. (In my house, it’s either local honey or Coombs Organic Maple Syrup, with the occasional jelly topping for variety.) Repeat until you’ve made four wonderful, wonderful pancakes.

Where do I procure my awesome ingredients? When I post my recipes, I usually link to Amazon, since so many people shop there, and I do buy some grocery items there. However, I obtain the bulk of my food from three sources: Pure Sprouts, an organic local delivery service that shops at the farmers’ markets so customers don’t have to; Soap.com Grocery, which is actually an Amazon subsidiary now, but which has delivery times that can’t be beaten; and (basically just for Stonyfield milk and yogurt) Giant, which does carry a few organic dairy items reliably.

Lenten Friday Dinner

I warn you: this dinner does not involve sacrifice at all. It’s just meatless.

Forty-five minutes before you plan to eat, make the marinade: one part olive oil, one part tamari soy sauce (I use San-J, which is gluten-free and tastes AMAZING), plus one tablespoon of ginger for every four pieces of salmon.

Prepare salmon filets: ensure that skin is removed, and cut into sections to remove bones.

Place salmon pieces into marinade. I like to use a Pyrex loaf pan for this step, because it’s narrow and deep. Make sure the marinade covers the salmon. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes of marinating, remove salmon from marinade. Discard marinade and cook salmon in a skillet (with a few tablespoons of olive oil–enough to ensure that the salmon doesn’t stick to the skillet) over low heat for four minutes per side. The salmon will be a much lighter shade of pink and will flake apart easily when it is done.

Serve over a bed of arugula or with steamed broccoli.

Now, if you want a dinner of more in line with the self-denial of Lent, hard-boil a couple of eggs and pair them with a side dish of sliced apples and cheese.

Easy Baked, Breaded Cutlets

I used pork cutlets, but you can do these with chicken if you prefer.

Dip cutlets first in melted butter (or olive oil, if you’re going for a dairy-free meal), then in a bowl of the following ingredients (combined): 1 cup Orgran rice crumbs, 2 tablespoons Himalasalt, 2 tablespoons Simply Organic all-purpose seasoning. Make sure to coat the cutlets completely with the breading mixture, then place them in a greased (I use Spectrum organic olive oil spray) 9 x 9 Pyrex dish and bake in a pre-heated 350-degree oven until the meat is done (roughly 90 minutes for a very thin cutlet–slice the cutlets in half to verify done-ness). Enjoy!

Simple Chicken Salad

Occasionally, I’m called upon to bring food to a family gathering. Here is a dish that you can make in advance and then bring in one of these insulated bags to serve cold right away.

Bake 6 pounds of chicken breasts until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees (approximately 90 minutes at 350 degrees, uncovered). When the cooked chicken breasts are cool enough to eat, cut them into chunks about twice what you would consider “bite-sized.” Mix with 2-3 tablespoons of chicken seasonings and mayonnaise (how much you use depends on your taste and how concerned you are about your mayo intake). There you have it!