Saturday, June 9, 2018

Thai Carrot Ginger Soup

I love Thai food more than any other ethnic cuisine.  I'm not a big fan of Pad Thai, too many years of munching on airline peanuts as both pilot and frequent passenger, but I love everything else.  My favorite  - some of the soups as well as ginger anything.

But how about making my own.  This soup was easy, creamy and delish and spicy without being "hot" and was a great way to use up some extra carrots. The ginger and spices balanced the taste of the carrots quite nicely.

You also want to make this with the canned coconut milk and not the carton style that you would use on your cereal.  That's essential to get the creamy taste as well as making it extra filling while still being less than 300 calories a serving.

 It also freezes well.

Thai Carrot Soup 

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
3/4 large sweet onion chopped
2 pounds carrot, peeled and chopped (1 pound of carrots is about 5 medium sized ones, no wider than an inch and about six inches long)
4 teaspoons jarred minced Garlic
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground Cumin
1 teaspoon ground Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground Ginger
pinch of crushed red pepper
3 cups low-sodium veggie or chicken broth. (I used chicken bone broth for a Paleo version)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk, (the full-fat kind)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, deep saucepan or Dutch Oven.
Add the onion and carrots and sauté until they begin to soften and onions are browning up)10-15 minutes)
Add the garlic and remaining spices and sauté until fragrant (1 to 2 minutes).
Add the broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer until the carrots are completely cooked.
Let cool slightly and then place the soup into a blender and blend until soup is creamy. 
Return to stove and heat for couple more minutes on medium.
When reheated, add a 1/4 teaspoon coconut sugar and a squeeze of lime before serving. (Optional)
Serve with some chopped basil or cilantro  (Optional)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Chily Days - Chili Mac

We had an unusually cold day for June yesterday, requiring a sweater while out for a walk, so a warm dinner sounded good, warm as in "heat" as opposed to temperature.

This was an experiment started by tweaking an internet recipe and it turned out REALLY good.   I made it with ground sirloin and bone broth that really complimented the flavor.  It's really low in fat, high in protein and was very tasty served over either gluten free pasta or steamed finely chopped cauliflower if you want a Paleo meal.

Chili Mac is something I never had growing up and didn't see it until I moved to the Midwest in the mid 90's.  It's easy to make, some folks just make a box of Kraft dinner and add a can of regular chili or it can be made from Scratch. (trust me, do the "from scratch").  Traditionally the dish doesn't contain peppers but as I had a handful left from another meal I threw them in and they added a nice taste.

Chili Mac.

In a crockpot place:
1 28-ounce can of Italian seasoned crushed red tomatoes (I love organic  Muir Glen).
A handful of chopped onion and
About 1/3 cup of chopped red and green pepper (small bite-sized)
1 Tablespoon honey

Start heating on low while you cook the meat.

In a skillet cook 1-pound ground grass-fed sirloin until about 3/4 cooked through. You will be cooking without adding oil to the pan so make sure you move the meat around the pan as it cooks so it doesn't stick

Sprinkle with:

1 and 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chopped minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (omit if you want a much milder version)
1/2 teaspoon mild smoky hot sauce (I used Scoville Brothers Singing Smoke which is available online and my absolute favorite brand of hot sauces)
add 1/2 cup bone broth (my favorite is Fire and Kettle which is simmered for 20 hours with various herbs and spices)
Cook until meat is cooked through and liquid is reduced by 1/2, stirring occasionally.

Stir meat mixture into tomato mixture and cook in the crockpot on low 4-8 hours.  You could also make this on the stove, just cook until the veggies are soft and the mixture is bubbly.

Top with shredded low-fat cheese and/or low-fat sour cream or leave off if you want a strictly Paleo meal.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

The photos are luncheon leftovers from Thursday night, so the broccoli isn't as bright green but it was still just as tasty and every bit as good as takeout with less cost and a LOT less oil.

I'm sure most of you know how to stir-fry, but there is another Chinese cooking secret that is key to meat that is silky soft and lusciously tender.  It's called "velveting".  Sure, it's an extra step, but it's beyond easy and takes only minutes.  Once you're done that step the meat is ready for the normal stir-frying.

Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry (Serves 4)

You start with a marinade

1 egg white
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch ½ teaspoon salt

Mix that up and slice your beef (1 pound of steak)

Beef has a grain to it; It's the direction that the major muscle fibers run in. The angle at which you hold your knife in relation to this grain while cutting has a pretty profound effect on the tenderness of the meat. Cut in the same direction as the grain, and your meat comes out tough and ropey. Cut against the grain, and you shorten the muscle fibers, effectively tenderizing the meat. So cut your steak up against the grain and place pieces in a bowl with your marinade that you’ve whisked together.

Let it marinate at least 30 minutes then you are ready for the "velveting step".  Add water to a depth of two inches into a large cook pot or saucepan.  Add 1 Tablespoon of oil.  Turn heat on high and bring to a boil  Reduce heat to medium LOW and immediately add the meat, stirring to spread out.  Bring water back to a gentle simmer and once it's barely bubbling cook an additional minute, stirring a few times.  Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon, draining well and setting aside on a plate or platter.

Make your Stir Fry Sauce:

Combine and set aside:

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1/3 cup bone broth or vegetable broth (you can use water if you don't have broth)
3 Tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
 1 and ½ teaspoons oyster sauce
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Assemble Stir Fry Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
 ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
 ½ teaspoons minced garlic (from a jar)
 half of a bag of frozen broccoli, thawed and patted dry (equivalent to half a head of fresh broccoli)
1/3 to ½  of a red pepper cut into bite-sized pieces
 1 small can sliced water chestnuts (drained)
 1 and ½ teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoons warm water

 1 small green onion for garnish (optional)

Getting Ready to Cook:

 Heat up a wok over medium heat with the oil. When the oil is hot (shy of smoking though as you don’t want it spattering) stir-fry the marinated beef in three batches, just until they are starting to crisp up on the edges (about 2 minutes). Cooking the beef without crowding makes for a more evenly cooked and tender outcome.

Remove the meat with tongs and set aside. Add the sesame oil to the oil left in the wok and stir-fry the garlic and ginger until fragrant.

 Add the broccoli, water chestnuts, and red pepper and stir-fry until they are tender with the broccoli still being bright green.

 Add the beef back to the wok with the prepared sauce. Simmer until the beef is cooked through (roughly 1 and 1/2 to 2 minutes).

Add the cornstarch mixture and cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly. Serve immediately over rice or “riced” cauliflower (if Paleo)

Monday, May 28, 2018

Flour Free/Gluten Free Quiche

Quiche is one of my favorite foods, even if it isn't low calorie the way I make it.  But it's a great way to use up chopped leftover meat and veggies or those eggs that are nearing the "best by" date.  Plus not only is it great out of the oven, a slice cold for breakfast or lunch is also great. and a very filling light meal. I've also made this with coconut alternatives to the dairy with decent success and substituted almond cheddar cheese (Lisanatti Foods in Oregon makes a good one that melts really well)

But what to do for a crust that's gluten-free if you are out of gluten-free flour

Try shredded hash brown potatoes.  The top is a wonderful little crunch and the bottom is softer but still holds together.

3 1/2 to 4 and 1/2 cups shredded hash browns thawed and blotted well with a paper towel to remove any moisture.  (My pie pan is fairly large so I used 4 and 1/2 cups)
1/2 stick butter, melted

Mix and pat into and up the sides of a pie pan.

Bake at 450 F. 22-25 minutes (edges should just begin to brown a little).

While that bakes mix:

10 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1/3 cup of chopped onion
(or substitute a cup of cooked leftover protein and veggies for the bacon and onions)
5 large or 4 Extra large eggs
1 cup cream
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 shakes of black pepper
2 shakes crushed red pepper
4 drops of hot sauce (I used Singing Smoke from

I never liked hot sauce at all until I tried theirs, handcrafted in Indiana. Online ordering is easy, they have a ghost pepper one, but if you like mild the Singing Smoke and Cowboy Crooner are amazing in adding a little depth to all kind of savory recipes.

When the crust is done, fill with egg filling, and lower heat of the oven down to 325 F.  Cook for an additional 50-55 until center is set and crust is browned.  Let stand 3 minutes, then serve.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Easy Gluten-Free Biscuits

Someone's missing a gluten-free biscuit.

In cutting back on gluten in my diet, one thing I missed the most was biscuits.  The gluten-free ones I tried were like bricks.
But I've had great luck with baking with King Arthur gluten-free flour so when I saw they had a gluten-free baking mix, I immediately ordered some from their website. It's packed in a certified gluten-free facility and comes with a number of recipes on the box including the biscuits, pancakes, waffles, and a yummy looking coffee cake.

You can order at the

website if your grocers do not carry it.  The website also has dozens and dozens of gluten-free recipes as well as tips on gluten-free baking in general.  The mix is composed of mostly of whole grain brown rice flour with xanthan gum and leavening (to save you the steps of adding) and it has ZERO grams of sugar.  Just top with a little regular or vegan "butter" and some sugar-free jam for a delicious treat.

The biscuits are super easy to make, even if you don't normally bake things from scratch.  Just put 2 and 1/4 cups of the mix in the bowl and add two large eggs and a cup of cream (or use full-fat coconut milk if you can't do dairy). 
You mix it with a big spoon just until it holds together in a ball.
Then place it on a cutting board that's lightly dusted with the baking mix and with dry hands fold it over (like you were folding a piece of paper for a letter) 4 times.  

Then cut (I used a wineglass sprayed with a little non stick spray as my biscuit cutter went missing) and bake at 400 degrees F (200 C.). for 16-18 minutes.
They sure looked tall and fluffy.  Let's see about the taste.

They are slightly drier than my gluten-laden biscuits but a dab of butter took care of that and they were VERY fluffy and light with a slightly crisp exterior and a very soft interior.  Yum!  Even my "I hate gluten-free" husband" scarfed down two of them ignoring the dinner rolls from the bakery.
I'm going to make another batch this weekend, with some sausage gravy made with the King Arthur gluten-free flour.

Thanks King Arthur flour.  These were a hit.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Gluten Free Thin Pizza

This is the best gluten-free pizza crust I've tried of the chewy/crisp variety (as opposed the softer, foldable New York Style or thick Chicago Style  It's also really easy to make just needing one bowl, a glass for the water, a mixer and your measuring tools.  You can bake it on a pan or a pizza stone.

It's a great platform for a simple sauce, some fresh mozzarella and a bunch of chopped veggies or whatever topping you like, without a boatload of carbs, eggs or wheat.

Gluten Free Pizza Crust

1 cup warm Springwater, about 110F 
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast  
1 1/4 cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour (my fav is King Arthur GF Flour)
1/4 cup almond flour (you can substitute more all-purpose or oat flour if you have a nut allergy)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon psyllium husk powder (OR 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the warm water, sweetener, and yeast in a glass measuring cup. Whisk to combine.

While the yeast is proofing for 3-4 minutes, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and psyllium husk powder (OR xanthan gum) in the bowl of a stand mixer, or use a large bowl and a handheld mixer, but you WILL want to use a mixer for this, not a spoon -  to get the right texture.

With the mixer running on low, slowly add the yeast mixture and oil. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3-4 minutes.  This is key, if you don't do it this long the batter will be too runny.

Using an oiled spatula, form the dough into a ball in the center of the mixing bowl. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Oil a 12-inch round pizza pan.  If you would like a thinner crust use a 14-inch pizza pan. Using oiled or wet hands, press the dough into the pan.  The dough will shrink slightly during baking, so press the dough as thin as you can to cover the pan. Let rise for another 5-10 minutes (depending on how thin you want it)

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add your desired toppings. Bake for another 10-15 minutes depending on your toppings. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing. Try not and eat all of it.

NOTE:  For a Paleo flour alternative make up a batch of this and keep it on hand.

2 cups finely ground almond flour, sifted,
1 and 1/2 cup tapioca flour, tapioca starch mix
2/3 cup coconut flour.

Mix the flours evenly and store in a cool dry place.  If you're not going to use it all right away it should keep in the refrigerator up to the "best by" date on the almond flour. I have used this mixture for desserts but the pizza as done was made using King Arthur GF flour.