Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce

Whip up this bolognese sauce during late summer when the tomatoes are threatening to take over the kitchen. It's so tasty!Once again, this recipe comes to you courtesy of multi-generational living, via my daughter. During July and August she prepared this bolognese sauce whenever the tomatoes threatened to take the kitchen hostage. The wide variety of vegetables make the sauce a banquet of flavors mingling together. And it’s a good way to clean out the vegetables languishing in the fridge. Just remember that the secret of good sauce is to let it simmer for several hours. So you’ll be wise to start it right after lunch. But be warned–smelling the sauce all afternoon will work up a big appetite. So make plenty!

Clean Out the Vegetable Drawer Bolognese Sauce

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced very fine
2 carrots, diced very fine
2 stalks celery, diced very fine
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
4 or 5 fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons or more olive oil
2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
1/4 cup red or white wine
balsamic vinegar (optional)

In deep, heavy pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté onions, carrots and celery until onions are translucent. While sautéing the vegetables, add the salt. Add the cauliflower, chopped into small pieces, roughly the size of cooked ground beef.

When the vegetables begin to brown, add the ground beef. Cook until the beef is browned. Add in the garlic, pressed or chopped finely. Add the tomatoes. Stir and let the mixture come to a simmer. Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes and the juice reduce and thicken, 2–3 hours.

Once reduced, add wine. Simmer for a bit and taste. Add more salt if needed. Keep in mind that favors will be stronger in the end. Let the sauce simmer and reduce for about an hour more. The end product shouldn’t be chunky but not watery, rather than saucy like marinara. The tomato and red wine should stick to the meat and vegetables much like stir fry sauce does. Taste again. The flavor should be rich and savory. If it’s a little weak ,add 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, stir and let cook for 10 more minutes. Serve over spaghetti noodles.

Chicken Salad

The surprise ingredient in this chicken salad adds a delicious crunch to this lunchtime favorite.Sharing the kitchen with my daughter and her family has many advantages. One of the greatest advantages is that I am in charge of only half the meals. Another is the opportunity to learn new recipes from the cook who’s in charge of the other half of the meals. Here’s her take on chicken salad. I never would have guessed how much cauliflower can add to this simple dish.

Anne’s Chicken Salad

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
4 large pickle spears, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Saute cauliflower in olive oil until some pieces begin to brown. Remove from heat.

Combine chicken, onion, celery, pickles, and cauliflower in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 2-4 hours before serving with your favorite bread or on a bed of lettuce.

Save

Our Latest and Greatest Fake Butter (also known as Futter)

This dairy-free, soy-free butter substitute offers several variations that are perfect for high maintenance dietary needs.A new conundrum has arisen in our Gravel Road kitchen. In addition to having several adults in the house who have dairy allergies or lactose intolerant, the toddler has begun to sprout a terrible diaper rash when he’s fed soy. So the most available version of Earth Balance, our favorite butter substitute known affectionately as “futter,” is off limits to him. (Earth Balance has a soy free version, but it is almost impossible to find where we live.)

Thankfully, my daughter discovered a recipe for a very good vegan butter substitute created by Miyoko Shinner. Her recipe offers variations for baking futter (regular and hard versions), spreading, futter, and unsalted futter. The daughter has fiddled with the recipe and perfected a version that is very good for baking and meets all our high maintenance dietary needs.

Gravel Road Futter

Ingredients

1/2 cup rich, unflavored, unsweetened cashew milk (our recipe for a DYI version is coming soon)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups refined coconut oil (don’t use extra virgin, or it will taste like coconuts!),
2 teaspoons liquid lecithin

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and process at a medium speed for about one minute.
  2. Pour into a container of your choice*
  3. Set it in the refrigerator for a few hours until hard.

For a Harder Futter substitute ¼ cup of the melted coconut oil with ¼ cup melted cocoa butter. Reduce liquid oil by 1 tablespoon.

For Whipped Futter increase the liquid oil by one tablespoon, and process at high speed in the blender for about 2 minutes to incorporate as much air as possible. (We have tried this version several times without success.)

For Unsalted Futter leave out the salt.

*We use mini-loaf pans that hold 1 cup each. Once the futter is hard, it can be cut into 1/2 cup sticks the same size as regular sticks of butter or margarine.

Save

Shrimp Tacos

These shrimp tacos are dairy-free, filled with summer veggies, and a perfect meal at the end of a hot day.It’s takes a village to feed a high maintenance eater like me. So I’m thankful my village is populated with people like my big sister who keep their eyes open for delicious dairy-free recipes. She’s the villager who sent an email with this recipe for shrimp tacos. The dish is packed with vegetables that are plentiful during the summer months. Plus, it uses olive oil rather than butter to cook the shrimp and doesn’t suggest using cheese or sour cream as a garnish.

Because this recipe is truly dairy-free, there was no need to substitute ingredients or to omit others. Everyone at our house agreed it was delicious and a perfect meal to enjoy at the end of a lovely summer day. The tweaks I made are designed to keep the heat out of the kitchen in case a lovely summer day is also a hot one.

Shrimp Tacos

ingredients

1 pound raw shrimp. peeled and devaeined
1 lime, juiced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 avocados, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dry Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
12-6 inch tortillas

Directions

  1. Turn slow cooker on high. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in the slow cooker to warm for 30 minutes.
  2. Gently mix tomatoes, onion, avocados, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Saute for about 3 minutes, turning often until shrimp are pink and cooked through.
  4. Put shrimp, tortillas, and vegetable mixture in separate serving dishes for diners to assemble at the table.

 

Save

Save

Lemon-Blueberry Zucchini Bread

The zucchini in this quick bread makes it moist and light, while the blueberries and lemon make it pop with fruity zest and summer goodness.For the past week, our refrigerator has been playing host to a pint of blueberries, a large zucchini, and some lemons that need to be used. So when a recipe for blueberry zucchini cake with lemon buttercream frosting appeared in my Facebook news feed, it caught my eye.

The original recipe was very high in sugar and the frosting used butter, so I decided to fiddle with the ingredients and convert the cake into a glazed quick bread. The taste testers at my house (not the Man of Steel since he eats very few desserts these days) all liked the tasty treat. They thought it tastes more like pound cake than quick bread, and I have to agree. We enjoyed one loaf and froze the other to avoid overdosing on too much lemony goodness.

Lemon-Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Bread Ingredients

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup white sugar

2 cups finely shredded zucchini
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 pint fresh blueberries

Glaze Ingredients

juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 2 loaf pans.

In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Fold in the zucchini. Slowly add in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix in by hand. Gently fold in the blueberries. Divide batter evenly between prepared loaf pans.

Bake 40-50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of loaf comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

 

Put lemon juice, zest, and water in a small bowl. Whisk in powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until it is the consistency you like for glaze. Use a fork to poke holes all over the top of each loaf. With a spoon, drizzle the loaves with glaze until the top is well coated.

The zucchini in this quick bread makes it moist and light, while the blueberries and lemon make it pop with fruity zest and summer goodness.

Save

Non-Dairy Strawberry Crisp

Today's recipe for strawberry crisp is the latest in a long series of fruit crisp recipes at Gravel Road.Just a few weeks ago, I posted my recipe for low sugar rhubarb crisp. Until today, it was the most recent installment in a Gravel Road unintentional series of crisp recipes such as blueberry crisp, apple crisp, and strawberry-rhubarb crisp.

But not anymore. Because strawberries were on sale at the grocery store last week, so I bought several boxes to make strawberry-rhubarb crisp. The son-in-law is not a big rhubarb fan, though he said he thought a strawberry crisp would be just fine. Here’s the recipe I fabricated, and which he said was mighty fine.

Strawberry Crisp

6 cups washed strawberries, hulled & sliced
1/3 cup softened, non-dairy, softened non-dairy shortening substitute like Earth Balance
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 375°. Place strawberries in 2 quart baking dish. In medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of fruit. Bake for 30-45 minutes until fruit is bubbly. Serve warm.

Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Protein Bars

These protein bars are low in sugar, high in flavor, and a perfect meal on the go.My daughter and I went to a coffee shop in Madison during my last visit. We spied homemade peanut butter protein bars in the cooler. My daughter picked one up. “These look good,” she said.

“Too bad they probably have whey in them to jack up the protein,” I said.

“No dairy,” the woman behind the counter said. “But they do have flax seed.”

The daughter and I were ravenous as we’d eaten only salad for lunch, so we laid two bars on the counter, ordered our coffee, and sat down to enjoy our treats and watch my adorable grandson be adorable.

The protein bars were delicious. So good we spent every minute we weren’t laughing at the grandson’s high jinks deciding what ingredients were in the bars so we could make them at home.

Here’s the recipe I created after arriving home. That means the daughter hasn’t taste tested them. But the Man of Steel and I both think their pretty good. The recipe’s pretty forgiving, so you can add your favorite ingredients to the mix so they tickle your taste buds, too.

Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Protein Bars

1 cup natural peanut butter (the gooey kind)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Kirkland chocolate chips
1 cup puffed rice
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons honey

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until well mixed. Press into a greased, square 9 x 9 pan. Put in refrigerator until firm. Cut into 12 bars. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Downton Abbey Scones on This Fantastic Friday

Downton Abbey fans can whip up a batch of vintage scones and make the DA magic last a little longer.This Fantastic Friday post is an homage to last Sunday’s Downton Abbey finale. The recipe’s posting today so fans can whip up a batch of scones, make a pot of tea, put on their best English accents, and be jolly good sports all weekend long.

Downton Abbey Dairy-Free Scones

Between yesterday’s top ten list and today’s recipe, it feels like Downton Abbey Week along our gravel road. Today’s recipe comes compliments of Downton Abbey Cooks, the brainchild of food historian Pamela Foster. You can find Foster’s original recipe, along with many other Edwardian England dishes, in her post about guilt-free scones.

I spotted the recipe while sitting under the dryer and reading the paper at the hair dresser’s. It sounded so good, I came home and created my own dairy-free version. The scones were an immediate winner, receiving the coveted Hiram seal of approval. They were light, crispy, and flavorful. They will be a staple at our house, even though we don’t have a kitchen maid to sift the flour 3 times!

1 cup unnbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons frozen lard
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup dried fruit (I used dried cranberries)

Heat oven to 450°. Mix together flour, salt, and baking powder. Sift three times. (Or have Daisy the kitchen maid do that part.) Add sugar and mix in well. Grate frozen lard (another job for Daisy) and add to dry ingredients. Lightly cut in by hand until mixture has the consistency of sand. Stir in dried fruit. Add almond milk, a tablespoon at a time, mixing dough with a fork after each addition. Stop when dough holds together, but before it gets sticky.

Kneed dough gently a few times. Do not overwork! Form dough into a circle and place on a cookie sheet or heated baking stone. Press dough until it’s a circle 1/3 inch thick. With a knife, cut into 8 wedges.* Separate them slightly. Bake for 5–7 minutes.

Thai Chicken Soup

This easy Thai soup recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and full of flavor. It also yields some excellent leftovers.Soup season will soon be over. But while it lasts, this recipe is one to try before warm weather hits. Especially if you love Thai food. This recipe is my version of one from the Elana’s Pantry website.

This recipe is easy, dairy-free, gluten-free, and bursting with flavor. It makes a big batch. That’s good because The Man of Steel and I would have quibbled over the leftovers otherwise. Needless to say, this version of Thai soup received the Hiram Coveted Seal of Approval. Next time, I may add some red pepper flakes to add a bit more heat.

Thai Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
  • 8 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 28 ounces coconut
  • ½ pound crimini mushrooms
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 pound chicken breasts skinless-boneless, halved lengthwise, sliced on bias, cut into ⅛ inch thick pieces
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • ½ cup cilantro, minced

Cooking Instructions

  1. Warm oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add half of the green onions and cilantro, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes
  3. Stir in stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer
  4. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer and discard solids (green onions and cilantro)
  5. Return broth to saucepan
  6. Reduce heat to medium, add mushrooms and broccoli and cook until tender, about 5 minutes
  7. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink
  8. Combine lime juice, curry paste and fish sauce in a small bowl then stir into soup
  9. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, chilies and scallions

 

Dairy-Free Carrot Cake with Cream “Cheese” Frosting

The Man of Steel wants carrot cake for his birthday. This non-dairy version tastes unbelievably good.All the kids, their spouses and the grandkids, along with my sister and her husband, are gathering this weekend to celebrate the Man of Steel’s 60th birthday. That means he gets to choose his own birthday meal (chicken tetrazzini) and birthday dessert. He chose one of his favorites: carrot cake.

The only problem with that choice was that at least 3 people attending the celebration can’t have dairy. But, as a quick internet search revealed, someone invented dairy-free carrot cake. And as a trial baking adventure proved, dairy-free carrot cake is really good. So is the dairy-free cream “cheese” frosting.

I found the recipe for the cake and the frosting at the Go Dairy Free Website. The only alterations I made in the cake batter were to leave out the raisins…not my favorite and reduce the sugar. For the trial run, I made 1 small rectangular cake for a taste test and 2 round cakes, which went to a dessert auction at church. The birthday cake will be 3 layers of round pans. Warning: this recipe makes a very big cake.

Dairy-Free Carrot Cake

Ingredients

6 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

 Instructions

  1. Combine the grated carrots and brown sugar in a medium bowl and set aside for an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF, and grease and flour two 10-inch cake pans, three 8-inch cake pans, or two 8-inch cake pans +8 cupcake tins.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and briefly set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, and gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Stir the flour mix into the wet mixture, being careful not to over mix. Gently fold in the carrot mixture and nuts.
  4. Pour the batter evenly into your prepared pans. Bake as follows: 10-inch pans – 40-50 minutes, 8-inch pans – 30-35 minutes, Cupcakes – 20-22 minutes, or for all, until the cakes are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool for 10-20 minutes before removing them from the pan.
  6. Once the cake is completely cool, then you can frost it or drizzle with icing.

The Man of Steel wants carrot cake for his birthday. This non-dairy version tastes unbelievably good.Dairy-Free Cream “Cheese” Frosting

Ingredients

8 ounces vegan “cream cheese”
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Using an electric mixer or in a large bowl with a hand held mixer, place the “cream cheese” and margarine, and cream them together.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, and continue to beat the mixture until light and fluffy.

The Man of Steel wants carrot cake for his birthday. This non-dairy version tastes unbelievably good.