Category Archives: dairy free

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

I typically make stock right after I cook a whole chicken in the slow cooker. After we have eaten and I have taken the rest of the meat off the chicken bones I put the bones and skin back into the slow cooker with the liquid that was leftover after cooking.  Yes, this is mainly fat, but it will add flavor to the stock and then it will be skimmed away later.  Next, add all those carrot peels and onions skins you have been saving.* This is also the time to add in the giblets you saved from inside the chicken.  Next, cover all this yummy goodness with about 8 cups of water.  I like to let my slow cooker cook on low for 10-12 hours.

In the morning, I turn the slow cooker off when I get up to allow the stock to cool a bit.  I then strain the stock, allow it to cool some more and put it in the fridge.

When I get home at night, I skim the fat off the top of the stock, then I put it into mason jars to store in the freezer.  That it, unless I plan on using it for another recipe later in the week.  Then I just store what I need in the fridge!

This chicken stock tastes a million times better than store bought and it is SO EASY to make. Enjoy!

cooking brian: slow cooker chicken stock

*Tip: any time you cut onions, celery, garlic, or peel carrots or parsnips, save all the skins and ends and peels in a bag in the freezer.  That way, when you are ready to make homemade stock, you won’t have to waste any vegetables, you will be able to use all these odds and ends.  You’re stock won’t taste exactly the same each time you make it, but it will still be delicious!

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Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

I LOVE my slow cooker and I am super excited because I just got this new Crock-Pot Slow Cooker after my old one died.  Slow cookers are amazing tools for busy cooks, and I love that I can set mine up in the morning and come home to an incredible meal after being at work all day.

Just about once a week, I cook up a whole organic chicken in the slow cooker.  Not only does that mean we have a delicious roast chicken dinner once a week but it also means that I can make sandwiches with the chicken for the rest of the week or use the chicken in another meal.  I love doing whole chickens in the slow cooker because it is easy and it gives me control over what I put on my chicken (as opposed to buying a rotisserie chicken at the store). I also have control over the type of meat I purchase.  The final reason why I LOVE roasting chickens in the slow cooker is because I then get to use all the bones and skin and other little non-edible bits to make my own chicken stock in the slow cooker.  Not only is homemade chicken stock better for you than the stuff in the cans or boxes, but it tastes a million times better too!

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

This is more of a method rather than a recipe.  Please feel free to play around with it, add spices of your choosing and most importantly, have fun!

Ingredients:

1 5-6 lb chicken (preferably organic)

kosher salt

white pepper

garlic powder

onion powder

Directions:

1. In a clean sink, rinse chicken thoroughly.  Make sure to remove the giblets for a later use (chicken stock!). If you are not using the giblets right away, you can freeze them.

2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

3. Place the chicken breast side down in the slow cooker.  I have done the chicken both ways, breast up and down.  I think that breast down keeps the breast more moist, but then the skin from the breast side will not get crisp.  It’s your call!

4. Generously sprinkle the chicken with seasonings.

5. Cover and cook your chicken for about 8 hours on low.  It is done when juices run clear.

6. Remove from slow cooker and enjoy! Mine usually falls apart a bit because it has been sitting on the warm setting for a while after it finishes cooking.  The presentation isn’t the most amazing but the taste is outrageous! 

DO NOT throw away the liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker or your bones, skin and other little bits of the chicken you are not going to eat once it is cooked.  This will all be a part of the slow cooker chicken stock.

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Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Bars

Hello there! It has been quite some time since I last posted but I am excited to be back! A lot has happened in the past year and a half.  I gave birth (yeah-thats him up there…all 14 amazing months of him!), we moved to Massachusetts, and both Brian and I got new jobs.  But, enough about me…on to the new recipe!

I have always made most of our food from scratch, but recently, I have become more committed to a clean eating lifestyle.  For the past few months I have been baking homemade granola bars for Brian to take with him to work and the baby loves them.  The problem is, the daycare the little monkey attends is a nut free zone and these granola bars are made with peanut butter.  So I set out to create a nut-free granola bar that the monkey and the rest of the family would enjoy and could take to school/daycare.  Well-the little man highly approves of these bars and so does Brian!

While technically these are granola bars, we all think they taste like oatmeal raisin cookies! Enjoy!

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Bars

 Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup raw honey

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats

scant 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup raisins

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 325 °F and line a 9 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix all wet ingredients together.

3. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Do not worry about over mixing.

4. Press mixture into lined pan and bake for 25 minutes.

5. Allow bars to cool completely before cutting (makes 16-24 bars…I usually cut it into 20 which lasts the three of us about a week!)

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Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

For Brian’s birthday a number of years back, I made a huge Mediterranean feast.  We both love Mediterranean food: salty feta, briny olives, creamy tzatziki, flavorful meats and fishes.  I created a whole menu based on our love for these foods which included my first attempt at stuffed peppers.  I got the original recipe from The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook which I received as a present from a co-worker a number of years ago during a holiday present swap.  These peppers were filled with the flavors of the Mediterranean: rice, olive oil, quality tomatoes, currants, parsley, pine nuts.  The flavors were a lovely balance of sweet and savory.  They came out beautifully and everyone seemed to love them.

Recently, we have been eating a lot less carbs during dinner and I wanted to make a stuffed pepper that reflected our eating changes.  I swapped out the rice for lean ground turkey and decreased the olive oil significantly from the original recipe.  What resulted was a sweet-savory protein packed dinner.  I served it with garlic broccoli.

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients

2 large red bell peppers
2 ounces pine nuts
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
1-1.3 pounds lean ground turkey
1 cup strained tomato (or no salt added tomato puree)
3 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
½ cup dried cherries or currants
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt to taste

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350

1. Toast pine nuts in a large sautee pan over medium heat.  Stir frequently to prevent burning.  Remove from pan and set aside.

2. In the same pan, still on medium heat, add the olive oil, chopped onion, and a pinch of salt. Sautee 5-10 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.

3. Push the onions to the side of the pan and add the ground turkey.  As the turkey begins to cook, break it up and mix it in with the onions.  Cook turkey until no pink remains.

4. Add strained tomato, parsley, dried cherries, cinnamon, pine nuts and a pinch of salt.  Cook down together on medium heat for about 10 minutes.

5. While mixture is cooking, cut peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs. Spray a glass baking dish with cooking spray and place the peppers in the dish.

6. Divide meat mixture equally among the 4 pepper halves.  The mixture will be slightly overflowing.

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until peppers are tender.

8. Enjoy!

Serves 4

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Homemade Apple Sauce

Apple sauce is one of those amazing comfort foods that not many people make at home anymore.  I remember when I was younger my grandma making applesauce for all the special occasions we would celebrate together as a family.  She would make one that was sugar free for me and another with sugar for the rest of the family.  I personally see no need to add sugar to applesauce if you buy apples that are not too tart.  Homemade apple sauce is good for you (an apple a day, right?), it is delicious, and most importantly it is easy!  I use one special piece of equipment, a Food Mill, but with the method I am going to show you, if you don’t want to buy a food mill or don’t own one already, there is a slightly more time consuming way to make it as well.

Apple sauce is GREAT for canning.  I do not know how to can (although I wish I did) and there are many people who make HUGE quantities of apple sauce and then can it. Check out these links if you are interested:

*Pick Your Own

*Make it Do

*Simply Canning

Homemade Apple Sauce

This is one of those recipes that is more of a method than a “I must stick exactly by the quantities to make this recipe work” recipe.

1. Gather apples.  The sweeter the apples, the sweeter the sauce.  Gala, Jonathan, Fuji and Pink Lady work well.  For this batch I used 10 apples that were getting a little mushy.  The texture was not great for eating, but that doesn’t matter for saucing.  However, as you can see from the picture, the skins of the apples are reddish/pinkish in color.  This will add a beautiful pink hue to the sauce.

2. Use either an Apple Corer and Slicer or a sharp knife to slice and core the apples.  DO NOT remove the apple peel.

3. Place apples in a large pot and add about an inch of water.  The apples will start to break down, so you don’t want to add too much water.

4. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  When the water has been boiling for a bit, reduce heat to medium-high and cook until all the apples are cooked through.

5. Let the apples cool a bit and then if you do have a handy food mill, pass the mixture through the food mill.  If you don’t have a food mill you have two choices: 1. Cook the apples with no skins to begin with and mash them with a potato masher when done (the sauce will not have a pinkish hue) OR 2. Spend some time pick out all the skins once the sauce is cool, then you can mash with a potato masher.

6. At this point, when all my glorious apple sauce is in a large bowl, I add cinnamon to taste.  For the 10 apples I added about 1 Tablespoon.

7. EAT! YUM!

Note: you can eat this apple sauce warm or cool it off in the fridge.  Either way it is amazing.  I suggest either eating it as a snack, over latkes or with pork chops.

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Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Quinoa is one of the most amazing and versatile ‘grains’ out there.  Quinoa is not a true grain, and is actually more closely related to beets, spinach and tumbleweeds than to grains like wheat or rice (thanks Wikipedia).  Quinoa is gluten free and a complete protein which makes it perfect for people with gluten intolerances and for vegetarians.  I personally feel that it is an amazing food for just about everyone!  You can typically find quinoa in a white or red variety and for this recipe I used red.

Lately, I have been making a big batch of quinoa salad on Sundays and eating it for lunch throughout the week.  I have been throwing together lots of different ingredients with the quinoa to create really interesting salad combinations.  Below you will find one of my favorite combinations which combines cilantro, lime, black beans and quinoa goodness.  I kept this version meatless, however, this would work well with some cubed chicken tossed in.

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water or chicken broth
1 2.25 oz. can sliced black olives
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 15 oz. can black bean, drained and rinsed
1/4 red onion, diced
5 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
2 avocados, cubed
*1 cup cilantro lime dressing

Cook quinoa in water or chicken broth according to directions on package.  Toss the cooked quinoa with the olives, pepper, tomatoes, beans, onion, scallions, avocado and dressing.  Serve immediately or refrigerate to eat later on in the week.  Bring back up to room temperature before serving.  Serves 6.

*Cilantro Lime Dressing

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and gorgeously green in color.

This dressing is phenomenal served on just about anything!  Brian and I also love to make a huge Mexican salad tossed with this dressing.  If you would like it sweeter, you can add a tablespoon or two more honey to the blender.

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Transylvanian Goulash

My book club just finished reading The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coehlo.  This is a very special book club for three reasons.  One, it is all women.  Two, the women who participate are amazing! Three, we match up the food we are serving to the setting of the book we read.  We each bring a dish and it turns out wonderfully.  We meet about every six weeks and I look forward to our meetings immensely!

The Witch of Portobello has many settings, but the main two are England and Transylvania.  At first I was thinking about my healthy version of Shepherd’s Pie, but then I got to thinking about Transylvania and what interesting dishes I could make from that part of the world.  I decided on a Transylvanian Goulash recipe and low and behold I found one I could make in my Crockpot!  Yay!  (I have yet to disclose how much I LOVE my Crockpot! Well, there you go…I LOVE my crockpot!)  Then I found some cool looking sweet Hungarian paprika at the market.  See how neat the container is?

I looked at quite a few recipes in order to create my own.  In our group we have some different eating styles.  In particular, I try to eat gluten free and one of the lovely ladies cannot eat dairy.  So this is a non-dairy, gluten free version of goulash that,  if I do say so myself, is pretty tasty.

Transylvanian Goulash

32 oz. bag sauerkraut (not the kind from a can, please!)
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tablespoon Penzeys Beef Soup Base* plus 3 cups water OR 3 cups beef broth
4 pounds beef chuck, stew beef, cut in 2-inch cubes
1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
Sour cream (for the dairy tolerant, to pass on the side)

Wash sauerkraut under cold running water, strain well, pressing out excess water.

Heat oil in a 5-quart casserole; add onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly colored, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper, then season with salt and cook a minute or two longer. Stir in paprika, pour in 1/2 cup of broth and bring to boil. Add beef cubes and stir.

Transfer beef mixture to crockpot.  Pour remaining broth, tomato sauce, sauerkraut, and caraway seeds over mixture.  Mix all ingredients together.  Cover  and cook on high for 4 hours. If crockpot turns to warm automatically, keep it on warm while you whisk rice milk and arrowroot powder together.  Pour rice milk and arrowroot powder into the crock-pot and mix together with the other ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper.  Keep on warm until you are ready to serve.

Pass sour cream on the side for the dairy-tolerant.

Serves 8-10 depending on serving size.

Tastes even better the next day!

*Just as an aside, I do not get an special kickbacks from Penzey’s…I just really LOVE their spices and soup bases!

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