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.

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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.

 

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Cucumber-Onion Salad Encore

This recipe for cucumber-onion salad was passed down from Grandma to Mom to me and my siblings. It's easy, inexpensive, non-dairy, healthy, and keeps well.Thanks to our weekly CSA share, the vegetable bin is overflowing with cucumbers. So cucumber-onion salad is gracing our table almost daily.  Because today is my birthday and I’m celebrating by not experimenting with a new recipe, I’m rerunning this one that was first featured on Down the Gravel Road in July of 2012. It’s easy, it’s tasty, it’s non-dairy, it’s low-cal, and the longer it sits in the fridge, the better it tastes. No wonder this recipe has been consistently discovered and repinned on Pinterest since the day it first appeared there.

Cucumber-Onion Salad

1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
1 onion, sliced into thin rings*
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Place vegetables in a small serving bowl. In a smaller bowl or measuring cup, mix vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir well and pour over vegetables so they are completely covered with liquid. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve. This salad can be stored for several days or a week in the fridge.

I try to make it at least 8 hours before serving so the flavors can meld and the vinegar has time to pickle the vegetables a little. Also, more cukes and onions into the brine after the original veggies are gone. I usually do that once before discarding the brine and making a completely new batch.

*I used red onions, which is why the salad looks so pretty in the picture, but any type of onion is fine.

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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.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

These lemon poppy seed cookies taste great and will make your kitchen smell marvelous. Yum!A good while back, maybe even a year ago, a recipe for vegan lemon poppy seed cookies caught my eye. Not because of the vegan part. Because lemon and poppy seed are two ingredients I love. I got to thinking about that recipe on a recent, cold winter day that practically screamed for my kitchen to produce something warm, yummy, and fragrant in defiance of the weather.

The original recipe can be found at the Craftsy website. If you want the vegan version, you’ll want to check it out. While this version is dairy-free, it includes animal and gluten products. The cookies were quite tasty, but a little tough. Next time I make them (maybe later today), I’ll increase the amount of baking powder and use a lighter touch while mixing them. This is a recipe worth perfecting.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup natural plain almond butter (stir well if oily and separated)
  • 3 tablespoons softened unrefined coconut oil
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon lemon zest, loosely packed
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Crack egg into medium mixing bowl and lightly beat the egg.
  3. Whisk in the almond butter, coconut oil, agave, vanilla, and lemon zest until fully combined and smooth. Use a spoon if it gets too thick.
  4. Add the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt on top of the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir well until a large ball of dough starts to form.
  6. Knead a few time until it holds together
  7. Roll the dough into about 1-inch balls and place with 2 inches of space in between each on a large baking sheet.
  8. Tear a small square of parchment or wax paper and place on top of one dough ball. Gently flatten to 1/4-inch thickness with a flat-bottomed glass or bowl.
  9. Bake for 8-12 minutes. The bottom edges should be golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  10. Once fully cooled, store in a sealed container for 4-5 days.

Oven-Baked Fajitas

This recipe for oven-baked fajitas is easy, healthy, dairy-free, and full of flavor. Give it a try and see what you think.The test kitchen at our house is is officially open for 2016. The first offering of the season isoven-baked fajitas. The recipe, which is making the rounds of Facebook, is low fat, chock full of veggies, and contains no diary. When served on warm tortillas, however, the Man of Steel can top his with sour cream and cheese, and I can garnish mine with refried beans and guacamole. We really liked it. See what you think!

Oven Baked Fajita‬s

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased 13×9 baking dish. In a small bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat. Next add the tomatoes, peppers, and onions to the dish and stir to combine.

Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until ‪#‎chicken‬ is cooked through and the ‪‎vegetables‬ are done. Serve on warm tortillas. Spread the tortillas with refried beans, if you wish, add the meat mixture, and garnish with your favorite toppings.

Cilantro Pesto Pork Chops with a Brine Twist

This recipe is easy, delicious, dairy free, and quick. It even works with lean, boneless pork chops if you brine them first.Today’s recipe adds a slight twist to a tasty pork chop recipe that first appeared on the Gravel Road in October of 2014. A year ago, the pork chops used were bone-in, as you can see in the picture above. This time I wanted to clear out a few boneless pork loin chops from the freezer, but was worried that quick frying would make them to dry and tough.

So I placed the frozen chops in a brine of 2 cups water and 1/4 cup of pickling salt and let them sit all day–on the kitchen counter until they were thawed and then in the fridge until a 1/2 hour before supper. Then I poured off the brine, rinsed the chops several times, patted them dry, and followed the recipe below from then on.

The chops were as tender and moist as I’d hoped and as delicious as ever. This recipe is way too fast and easy for the taste punch it delivers. It’ll show up on our table several more times until grilling season arrives again!

Cilantro Pesto Pork Chops

2 cubes of frozen cilantro pesto, thawed  1/4 cup fresh pesto
4 pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick each
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the brown sugar and chili powder together. Sprinkle on pork chops and rub mixture in with fingers. Flip chops over and do the same on the other side.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork. Cook for 5–7 minutes on each side, turning once, until they are no longer pink. Serve chops with cilantro mixture.

No Yeast Pizza Dough

This no yeast dough makes a tasty base for homemade pizza, but it needs more tweaking to get the coveted Hiram Seal of Approval.Since the great allergy elimination diet of 2015, an event I hope never to repeat in this lifetime, I’ve cut down on carbs and products containing yeast. A very sad turn of events since I love pizza. And though I’ve learned to love it without cheese, I don’t want to get rid of the crust, too. Or make the cauliflower crust that’s all the rage these days. I just can’t go there.

So in an effort to find the next best thing, I gave no yeast pizza dough a try. I started with a recipe for healthifed pizza dough and substituted almond milk for the milk to make it dairy free. The Man of Steel agrees it’s a recipe worth tweaking, but for now we both still prefer pizza dough with yeast. That said, here’s how I made it.

No Yeast Pizza Dough

1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup almond milk

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place pizza stone in oven to heat. Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add oil and almond milk. Stir with a fork until it forms a soft dough. Put dough on a well-floured surface and knead 10 times. Cover and let set 10 minutes.

Form dough into a round disk and roll into a thin circle on a lightly-floured surface.. Place a piece of wax paper on top of the dough. Grasping the edge of the paper and the edge of the dough, carefully roll them together into a tube. (Use a spatula to release any dough sticking to the surface.) Remove pizza stone from oven and unroll the tube, dough side down, onto the stone. (See picture above) Discard the wax paper. Pri.ck dough in several places with a fork

Bake the dough for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add toppings. (Ours has basil pesto for sauce, oven-roasted tomatoes, thin-sliced onions and sweet pepper, cheese (on the Man of Steel’s half), and turkey pepperoni.

This no yeast dough makes a tasty base for homemade pizza, but it needs more tweaking to get the coveted Hiram Seal of Approval.Put in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes longer. Remove when cheese is melted and edges of crust are golden brown. Slice and enjoy!

Dairy-Free Pineapple Cream Pops

Pineapple cream pops are a healthy after school snack for warm August and September days. They are also dairy-free and gluten-free with no processed sugar.Today’s recipe is a great after school snack. It’s perfect for kids who come home hot and hungry the first few weeks of school. The original recipe comes from one of those annoying websites with lots of confusing arrows and pop up ads. The kind of websites I usually hate. But the ingredients were healthy and the recipe was easy to make dairy-free.

So I gave it a try. The frozen pops were tasty and satisfied my sweet tooth. The original recipe suggested freezing them in popsicle molds. Since I don’t have them and don’t want to reclutter my cabinets, I used 3 ounce. Dixie cups and plastic straws cut in half instead. The cups worked beautifully. The straws not so much. Next time–and I will make them again– I’ll use wooden craft sticks instead.

Dairy-Free Pineapple Cream Pops

1 large, ripe, fresh pineapple cut into cubes
2 cans coconut cream (not coconut milk)
1 lime
Stevia to taste

Open the cans of coconut cream (DO NOT SHAKE THEM) and skim off the heavy cream on top. Put it in a small, deep bowl. (Refrigerate the rest of the coconut liquid and use it in smoothies or baking.) Whip the coconut cream with an electric mixer until it is frothy and thick.

Put the pineapple cubes in the blender. Process until you have a smooth, frothy mixture. Add the juice of 1 lime and process for another minute. Add the coconut cream to the blender and process until all ingredients are mixed well. Taste the mixture and add Stevia if it needs sweetening.

Pour the liquid into 3 ounce. Dixie cups.

IMG_5085Put a wooden stick or plastic straw in each cup.

IMG_5086Cover with foil. Put in freezer for several hours. Before serving, peel off the paper. Enjoy!