Category Archives: low sugar

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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Filed under dairy free, egg free, gluten free, grain free, low sugar, nut free, paleo, slow cooker, soup, toddler approved

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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Spinach Egg Cups

I love eggs! Particularly now that I’m pregnant, I have been eating eggs almost every morning for breakfast.  They are low carb, gluten free, full of protein and good for the little one growing inside me!

Brian and I were having a friend over for breakfast and I wanted to make an egg dish that I had never made before.  Brian thinks it’s funny that I often try out new dishes on company before trying them out on just him, but it usually seems to work!  I have always wanted to bake eggs in cups because then you don’t have to watch over them on the stove or take care to put them carefully into poaching liquid.  So I did a little research on baking eggs in cups and found a whole bunch of recipes that looked appealing.  I took a few ideas from others and then added in my own twists. If you would like to make these dairy free, just leave out the cheese and they will still be delicious!

It would be easy to play around with this recipe…I was thinking of doing an egg baked with tomato or one with mushrooms.  You could add all sorts of different spices or different cheeses to change things up a bit as well.  So many possibilities!

For the brunch we had:  spinach egg cups, blueberry multigrain pancakes, maple apple chicken sausage and fruit salad.

FYI-these still taste great re-heated the next day for breakfast (although the yolk will firm up a bit more).

Spinach Egg Cups

Ingredients:

1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz baby spinach (2 bags)
4 eggs
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt
Red pepper flakes to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Spray 4 ramekins with cooking spray. Set aside.

3. Heat oil in large pan over med high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add spinach to pan. Turn heat down to medium and cook until all spinach is wilted. Salt spinach to taste.

4. Divide spinach into ramekins.

5. Crack an egg over each pile of spinach.

6. Sprinkle tops with grated cheese and red pepper flakes (if desired).

7. Place ramekins inside of a small glass baking dish.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Yolks will be runnier at 20 and firmer at 25.

~Serve with toast or eat on its own~

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Garlic Scape Soup

Garlic scapes are the jewels of late spring/early summer.  Scapes are the “flower stalks” of hard neck garlic plants.  Farmers cut off the scapes so they do not inhibit the growth of the bulb.  Scapes are beautiful and delicious and can be found at farmer’s markets this time of year.  Read more about scapes here.

I discovered garlic scapes last year at the Montclair Farmer’s Market and have been waiting patiently for them to reappear at my new local market in Sunnyside.  Low and behold, they did!  There are a lot of different scape recipes out there on the good ol’ internet that I want to try such as scape pesto and scape carbonara.

However, I have an amazing cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.  I constantly leaf through this cookbook, staring at the gorgeous photographs and dreaming of making every recipe.   One recipe has been on my mind for quite some time now-Garlic Scape Soup.  It is a simple recipe that yields a fantastically green-colored luscious soup.  Unfortunately, when I went to make the soup, I realized that I only had half the amount of garlic scapes that I needed, so I made a few substitutions.  The soup was still delicious! I definitely recommend buying this book (or her newer cookbook, Super Natural Every Day) and making this soup!

I served this soup alongside some crusty bread and a caprese salad.  A delicious, light, vegetarian summer meal!

The next time I make this soup I want to drizzle a bit of truffle oil over the top courtesy of The Filling Station.

Garlic Scape Soup

adapted just slightly from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen garlic scapes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 scallions, chopped
3 large russet potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1/2–inch pieces
5 cups vegetable stock
3 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
juice of ½ a lemon
kosher salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup half & half

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, then add the scapes and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and scallions and sauté for 1 additional minute.

2. Add the potatoes and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

3. Remove from heat, add the spinach and puree using a hand blender. (I was at my mom’s house and she does not have a hand blender.  I had to use her food processor, which worked fine.  Just make sure to process the soup in batches so the hot liquid doesn’t come squirting out and burn you.)

4. Season soup with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

5. Stir in the half & half.

6. Pour into bowls and serve!

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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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