Monday, December 2, 2013

Mediterranean Lentil and Sausage Soup

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Last year, I scored a neat cookbook, The Ultimate Soup Bible at my favorite thrift store, The Salvation Army.  It probably wouldn't have been a book I would have splurged on, given it's hefty price tag and actual weight for that matter. I am the ultimate soup lover and for $8 that seemed like a book purchase I had to make.

This recipe was one I flagged as interesting. I immediately lighten it up a bit, removed the bread portion and added some carrots and celery.  It was delicious and hearty.  It is a wonderful cold weather soup and I will make it again very soon.  The only mistake I made was not doubling the recipe right off the bat.  I like to make my soups in a large pot and freeze a couple portions at one time.  My thinking is, if you are going to the trouble, you might as well make it count.

I used regular brown lentil beans found at any grocery store.

Mediterranean Lentil and Sausage Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup frozen miropaux mix, onions, celery, carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups lentils
2 cans chopped tomatoes (14 oz)
6 cups chicken broth
2 pounds Italian Sausage, turkey is fine
4-8 tablespoons prepared pesto


1. Heat oil in large stock pot and brown sausage over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Once brown add vegetables and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. 

2. Add lentils, tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.

3. Remove sausage links and slice into rounds.  Before adding sausage back, remove about 2 cups of lentils and puree with emulsion blender.  Pour back into pot.

4. Add sausage back to pot and cook for about 5-15 minutes more until soup is nice and thick.

5. Top with prepared pesto and swirl.  Can add additional pesto to servings if desired.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

The Ultimate Green Bean Casserole with cheese and bacon!

This is a holiday side dish staple at our house.  I've always loved the traditional green bean casserole, but some people in my house don't like onions.  I wanted to find a recipe that would get them to eat some vegetables during the holiday. I've adapted this recipe over the years to make it cleaner and then to make it gluten free.

Originally it featured Kraft Garlic Cheese.  If you've never seen such a thing, it was a processed cheese that came in a plastic tube.  I think it was really popular in Southern Louisiana because it was a prominent ingredient in a Spinach Madeline recipe.   It's no longer available, at least not here in Missouri, so I substitute Old English Cheese.  I realize this is still very much in the processed food category, but it's only once or twice a year and the Old English Cheese is a tasty substitute for the garlic cheese.

You are welcome to use canned cream of mushroom, but the homemade, gluten free version is really so much better.

The Ultimate Green Bean Casserole

2 (14oz) bags of frozen green beans
1 jar of Old English cheese
8 to 10 slices bacon
1 can cream of mushroom soup or Cream of Mushroom, below
1 large onion chopped
black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided


1. Saute onion in butter and add green beans with 2 slices of bacon.

2. Meanwhile, cook 8 to 10 slices of bacon in microwave and drain on paper towel.

3. Once green beans are tender crisp, remove cooked bacon and add cut up garlic cheese, stir until melted. (Only takes a minute.). Add cut up, cooked bacon to beans and 1/4 cup of the cheese and fold in cream of mushroom soup.

4. Top with more bacon and cheese.

5. Pour into greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown on top, approximately 30 minutes.

Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom

8 ounces fresh sliced mushrooms, finely diced
1/4 cup finely diced sweet onions
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup gluten-free chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper or to taste

1. Saute mushrooms, onions and garlic with butter in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat for about 3 minutes. 

2. Gradually stir in gluten-free chicken broth and stir to blend. Add 1/2 cup milk and continue to cook over medium heat. 

3. Once hot, add other 1/2 cup milk stirred together with cornstarch.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat and cook until soup thickens. 

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Authentic Cajun style (Gluten Free)

When I first went gluten free, I figured my gumbo days were over.  But thanks to the Lagasse Girls, daughters of the famous Emeril Lagasse, I embraced the idea that gluten free gumbo could be a possibility.  I mean, surely these girls know what really good gumbo tastes like.  

But after studying the recipe, I realized their approach to gumbo skips some very important steps for that depth of flavor I'm used to.  So I took this new found confidence and adapted my tried and true recipe. 

I would imagine this recipe will be most appreciated by those who are gluten free and miss having their gumbo, but in case you've never made gumbo before I'll try and go step by step here.  By all means, this recipe can be made with regular flour.

You are going to begin by frying up your sausage followed by your chicken.  I have been using boneless, skinless chicken thighs for years.  I don't believe that chicken breasts have enough flavor.  You could definitely use a little of both, but trust me on this one.  Use some good dark meat in your gumbo.

After you brown your sausage over medium high heat, you will place in large bowl set off to the side.  Add the chicken to the sausage drippings and brown them, turning down to medium. You don't have to cook the chicken all the way through, just enough to brown both sides.  I usually stop my browning and remove the chicken to the bowl when I feel like the brown bits on the bottom are about to burn.  You don't want that. You'll also notice I use an enameled cast iron pot.  It's super heavy and is easier to keep up than a traditional cast iron pot.  Especially since my chief dishwasher can't seem to keep from using soap!

 Next add the oil to the pan drippings, stir in flour.  Coincidentally, I use the same amount of oil and flour I used in my old recipe, I just replace with a gluten free flour blend.  I believe it's the Bob's Mill version. 

You want to cook on medium heat, stirring nearly constantly, until the mixture reaches a nice dark color like the last photograph on the right.  You'll notice the same, nutty scent you get from a flour gumbo.  Just be careful not to rush this.  And don't burn it.  If you do, there's no use in crying, just throw it out and start over.

I'm sure some people let their roux get a little darker, but I find that it continues to darken when the onion mix is added. This was difficult process to photograph. The oil kept foaming on the top and hiding the color of the roux.

Once your roux is brown add your onions, celery and bell pepper.

You'll notice that the photo below has carrots. Yeah, I grabbed the wrong bag of frozen Miropaux blend. I love that my Gerbes/Kroger carries these but they really messed up when the labeled both of these mixes Miropaux. They are, however, a great time saver and I've never been able to tell a difference in the end product if they are to be sauteed or cooked down in some fashion.

Once the onions, celery and bell pepper have softened add the garlic.  Cook until aromatic.  Don't let them burn.

Add in 2 cups of water or homemade chicken stock.  Once this is nice and smooth add the rest of the water and your meats back into the pot.

Add your seasonings and cook for at least 30 minutes, certainly you can cook for an hour if you have it.  I cooked for 30 minutes and then started to cook my rice, which was done in 20 minutes.  It looked pretty darn good at that point and we ate it!!

You'll notice my gumbo does not have okra. I thicken with Gumbo File instead of okra.  I do not like okra and think it's kind of gross and slimy in a gumbo.  In my opinion, a gumbo with okra is indicative of a Creole approach and I am Cajun. Two totally different birds.  Trust me.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices 
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup vegetable oil  
1/2 cup gluten free flour blend, or all purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped  
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped  
2 celery ribs, sliced 
6 cups hot water 
3-5 garlic cloves, minced  
2 bay leaves 
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning 
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
4 green onions, sliced  
1 teaspoon parsley
a good shake of Filé powder, about a teaspoon
Hot cooked rice 
Optional: chopped green onions 

1. Cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until browned. Move to large bowl and reserve drippings in cast iron pot.

2. Cook chicken in reserved drippings in cast iron pot over medium heat 5 minutes or until browned. Move to same large bowl you used for the sausage, reserving drippings in Dutch oven. Set chicken aside.

3. Add 1/2 cup oil to the pot along with the gluten free flour blend  and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 20 to 25 minutes, or until roux is a light chocolate color, or darker than peanut butter.

4. Stir in onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until tender. Cook garlic until it becomes fragrant.  Be sure not to let it burn.  Gradually add 2 cups hot water, whisk or stir vigorously until smooth.  Add rest of water and bring mixture to a boil; add chicken, sausage, and seasonings. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally,  for at least 30 minutes.

5. Remove chicken thighs with slotted spoon and chop as necessary.

6. If desired, stir in green onions and parsley; cook for 15 more minutes.

7. Remove and discard bay leaves. Remove gumbo from heat. Sprinkle with filé powder, if desired. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Sharing Here: Party Junk-Recipes @ Funky Junk Interiors  /

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Chicken Chili

Yep, more soups/stews to share.  It's definitely that time of year.

This is one the boys in our house will eat.  Nice and hearty especially with a side of cornbread or tortilla chips.

I like for the recipe to come out a little whiter in color, but I forgot to hold off on the black beans before I pureed it some.  Not that it really matters, but it is prettier in my opinion when it's more white in color instead of "chili colored". Ha!

The recipe is pretty straight forward. Here are few things that might need some explainin'. 

• I use a grill pan to grill the chicken after it's marinated for a while, the longer the better. Shoot for about 30 minutes.
 •  Roasted Salsa Verde, green salsa is much more flavorful than green chilies.  I actually think the best one is from Wal-Mart.  It's under their World Table label.
Penzey's Arizona Dreaming Seasoning is fantastic southwest seasoning blend.  If you can't get it or don't have it on hand you can just up the other spices as necessary.  Be careful if you try and replace it with the Ms. Dash Southwest Seasoning because it has a good kick to it.  Go easy on that one unless you like it spicy!
• You will need a big pot.  I often forget this does not fit in my 4.5 quart pot and end up moving up to a 6 quart pot.

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups cooked or grilled chicken diced
2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup roasted salsa verde, green salsa
juice of lime
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
4 cans white beans, drained & rinsed
2 can black beans, drained & rinsed
4-6 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more
hot sauce (optional)
1-2 tsp of Arizona Dreaming Seasoning, Penzey's
Ms. Dash Southwest Chipolte seasoning

shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
tortilla chips


1. Cook or grill chicken breasts marinated in lime juice, cilantro, Ms Dash Southwest Chipolte seasoning and salt. Chop and set aside.

2. Chop onions or use frozen chopped onions, saute in heavy pan, until soft. Add garlic, saute a few minutes. Add dry spices, stirring until distributed evenly.

3. Add Salsa Verde. Add chicken broth, white beans, corn and lime juice.  Add hot sauce if desired. I use a few dashes of cayenne.

4. Cook for a few minutes until corn is defrosted if using frozen. Puree some of the soup with a hand emulsifier to thicken soup.

5. Add chicken and black beans. Simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes. 

6. Add cilantro and more lime juice to the pot right before serving. 

7. Serve with your favorite cheese, Colby Jack, Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese, lime wedges, cilantro and tortilla chips.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I have been making this soup for quite a few years.  Unlike other recipes I've seen it actually has corn tortillas in the soup.  It's the primary thickener and I love the body and flavor it adds.

The only thing I did different this time than I've done in the past was to roast my own onions and tomatoes to replace one can of roasted tomatoes. I had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year and was looking for a way to use them up. I had intended to add a red bell pepper and a jalapeno to the mix as well, but forgot to pick them up at the store. I was not about to drive all the way back!

Feel free to use canned roasted tomatoes and just saute the onions if you are in a hurry.  It's nearly as good that way.

Either way the roasted tomatoes in this soup are part of the depth of flavor. Just imagine you also see a bell pepper and a jalapeno in this photo. ;) Roast them for 20-30 minutes in a 425 degree oven.

In a separate bowl, add the onion, tomato mix to 2 cups chicken broth and puree with an emulsion blender.

While the tomatoes and onions roast, marinate chicken breasts in lime juice, Ms. Dash Southwest Chipolte seasoning, cumin and salt.  Cook as desired.

I prefer to my grill my chicken. It's quick, easy and adds lots of flavor.  In the winter, I love using a grill pan with press.  (I happen to use the Pampered Chef one, that I think very highly of.) The result is terrific chicken with grilled goodness in 10 minutes.

If roasting tomatoes and onions, saute garlic in pot and then add rest of ingredients.  If not, start by sauteing onion mix and then add garlic.

After the garlic is sauteed, add rest of ingredients except tortillas.  Cook for about 10-20 minutes.

Lastly, reduce heat to low and add strips of tortillas to soup. Once the tortillas are dissolved and soup thickens, serve with cheese and tortilla chips.


For Marinade:
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast strips
Ms. Dash Southwest Chipolte seasoning
Lime juice

1/2 teaspoon cumin
kosher sea salt, enough to cover chicken lightly

For Soup:
1/2 cup chopped onion, frozen is fine if not roasting with tomatoes
1 cup of 3 pepper onion mix, includes: green, red and yellow bell peppers and onions cut in strips (I buy this frozen.)

1 jalapeno pepper, if desired
6 cups fat-free chicken broth
2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen corn
2 cans (14 ounces) organic fire roasted tomatoes or roast your own, about 2 cups of tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
6-8 corn tortillas (6-inch), cut into strips

1-2 teaspoon fresh cilantro
Monterrey or Pepper Jack cheese

Directions with Roasted tomatoes:

1. Prepare chicken strips by marinating them in chipolte seasoning mix, cumin and salt and lime juice. All just kind of sprinkled on top. After 30 minutes of marinating, broil or grill strips until done. Cool and shred or chop into small pieces.

2. While chicken is marinating, roast tomatoes  for 20-30 minutes at 425 degrees.  Once soft, add to 2 cups chicken broth in a separate bowl and puree with emulsion blender.

3. Saute garlic in stock pot until fragrant. Add pureed tomatoes onions, peppers.

4. Add broth and corn and bring to a boil. Add rest of ingredients except tortillas. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.

5. Add 6-8 tortillas cut into strips and cook on low for an additional 10-15 minutes or until tortillas dissolve and soup thickens. 

6. Add cilantro, serve with tortilla chips and top with Monterrey or Pepper Jack cheese.

Directions with canned tomatoes:

 1. Prepare chicken strips by marinating them in chipolte seasoning mix, cumin and salt and lime juice. All just kind of sprinkled on top. After 30 minutes of marinating, broil or grill strips until done. Cool and shred or chop into small pieces.

2. Saute onions and onion mix in stock pot coated with Olive Oil. Cook for 5 minutes and add garlic. Cook for 5 minutes more.

3. Add broth and corn and bring to a boil.

4. Puree one can of roasted tomatoes and add with rest of ingredients except tortillas. Simmer for 10-20 minutes.

5. Add 6-8 tortillas cut into strips and cook on low for an additional 10-15 minutes or until tortillas dissolve and soup thickens. 

6. Stir in fresh cilantro, serve with tortilla chips and top with Monterrey or Pepper Jack cheese.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Salsa Verde Mexican Pizza

As a teenager, I remember eating and loving the Taco Bell sensation that was the Mexican Pizza.  These days, Taco Bell has pretty much fallen off our radar, with all the other fast food restaurants, except for the road trips back home to Louisiana. (But if you are in need of a tasty meal there, the Catina Bowls are pretty good.)

I always seem to have leftover tortillas from The Best Steak Fajitas or soft taco night. Looking for new ways to use them, a while back I thought I'd give the ole' Mexican pizza a whirl.  Our family isn't a huge fan of red enchilada sauce.  So you'll find these flavors are a lot like my very popular White Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe.

You can plan ahead, and marinate your chicken overnight, or a few hours in advance or even while you toast your tortillas, if you choose to do so.

If you are not using hard tostada shells, then you'll want to crisp up your tortillas.  This takes quite a while if you are doing them one at a time.  I would advise using a larger skillet, so that you can do several at once. You want the tortillas to get brown and kind of crispy so that they can support the pizza.

If you can keep your attention focused on all these things going on at once you can toast your tortillas, grill your chicken and make your Refried Black Beans at the same time.

Once the shells, the beans and chicken are done, start putting your pizzas together.

Spread black beans over the corn or wheat tortillas or tostadas and cover with Monterey or pepper jack cheese.

Top with another shell and your salsa verde sauce. I simplified the sauce from my enchilada recipe a bit because this should be one of those quick and easy meals.  Your just going to mix the salsa and sour cream together.

Add sauce to the top shell. Sprinkle chicken on top and another good coat of cheese.

 Place in 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool a little and enjoy!  If you need more than 4 servings, simple double the recipe.

Salsa Verde Mexican Pizza


12-16 ounces Chicken Breasts
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
Ms. Dash Southwest Chipolte Seasoning, enough to coat
juice of a lime, about half
 Refried Black Beans
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cuming
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Roasted Salsa Verde, green salsa

8 or more Tortillas or Tostada shells, corn if gluten free 
2-3 cups grated Monterry or pepper jack cheese


1. Marinate chicken for as long as you have, overnight is good but not necessary.  Combine marinade ingredients and stir in chicken cut into strips.  

2.  Cook chicken on grill or in a grill pan for about 5 minutes per side.

3. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

4. Begin toasting tortillas if necessary.  Just want them to get nice and crisp on both sides. Use a large skillet to cook more than one at a time for convenience.

5. Place seasoning for Refried Black Beans in a small pot with oil.  Cook until they begin to become fragrant.  Be sure not to burn!  

6. Add rinsed and drained beans and water to the pot.  Cook until they begin to get soft.  Mash beans with back of spatula or large spoon.  Add water as necessary.

7. Once all the pieces are ready, assemble pizza.  Place refried beans on top of a shell and cover with cheese.  

8. Add another shell and top with sour cream and salsa mixed together.  Add a layer of chicken and finally your choice of cheese.

9. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes. Serve once cooled enough to handle.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Roasted Rubbed Chicken

This is a recipe I've been making for about 10 years.  It was originally a crock pot recipe that was called "Roast Sticky Chicken".  I can't give you a good reason why it was called this.  It's not at all sticky.

Most of the time I roast the chicken now in the oven because I like the outside to get nice and crusty. But feel free to prepare the rub on the chicken the night before, place in a zip lock bag and dump it in a crockpot for 8-10 hours on low.  It will fall off the bone and be delicious.

I have found that the rub doesn't necessarily need to be on it overnight either.  It does soak in nicely that way creating a brine like effect, but it's so good, don't feel like you have to do it that way.  This is truly a no fail recipe.

Initially, the recipe called for a lot more cayenne pepper and also white pepper. I have always been made it more on the mild side, but if you like spicy foods by all means go heavier on the pepper.

Roasted Rubbed Chicken

3 tsp. salt
2 tsp. paprika
3 dashes cayenne pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 large roasting chicken

Directions for oven:

1.  In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all the spices. 

2. Remove giblets from chicken, clean the cavity well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture into the chicken, both inside and out, making sure it is evenly distributed and down deep into the skin. 

3. If desired, place in a resealable plastic bag, seal and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, heat oven to 425 degree oven.

4. Place in the oven, and cook until skin is crispy and the juices run clear when pierced, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When chicken seems done, insert an instant-read thermometer into the breast, then the thigh. The breast temperature should read 180 degrees and the thigh 190 degrees.

5. Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes and then carve.

Directions for Crock Pot:

1.  In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all the spices.

2. Remove giblets from chicken, clean the cavity well and pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture into the chicken, both inside and out, making sure it is evenly distributed and down deep into the skin.

3. Place in a resealable plastic bag, seal and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, put the bird into the crock-pot and do not add any liquid. As the cooking process goes on it will produce it's own juices.

4. Cook on low 8 - 10 hours and it will be falling off the bone tender.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mexican Meatball Stew

I have been making this recipe for a very long time.  I'm pretty certain I found it in a magazine.  I seem to recall I had a receptionist made a copy while at a doctor's visit. I just had a hunch it was a good one.  

I even lost the recipe once after a move and all my long-time friends got a call from me asking if I had shared this recipe with them. And somehow I had been holding out on them because no one had it.   Thankfully, I eventually found a copy. It's probably one of the first stews I make when the weather turns cool.  Hence the reason it's popped up now.

This is one recipe where ground turkey works really well as a meatball.  All the other seasonings in the meatball mixture give it the zip ground turkey sometimes lacks.

The gluten free version below the original.  You'll notice I upped the meat weight in the gluten free version.  The men in my family always want a bowl full of meatballs so often just the stew was left at the end.  Not that you can't eat it without the meatballs, but I always seem to miss them. ;)

Mexican Meatball Stew

1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey or chuck
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (10 oz) can mild green chili enchilada sauce
1 cup seasoning mix of onions, bell peppers and celery
1/3 cup flour
3 cups water or chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 (14 oz) can of petite diced tomatoes
1 tbs chili powder
1 (15oz) can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp dried whole oregano
a few dashes of cilantro, if desired

1. Combine meat, crumbs, egg and 3 tablespoons of enchilada sauce, cumin and pepper. Add more egg or milk as needed to make the right consistency.  Cook 5  minutes at 70% power in microwave, toss around and cook for another 4 minutes or until done.  Microwave ovens vary so don't over cook them.  Remember they will go into the pot for a while so they can finish cooking there as well.

2. While meatballs are cooking, in a dutch oven, saute the onion mix until tender. Combine flour and chicken broth and stir well. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

3. Add meatballs, remaining enchilada sauce and rest of the ingredients. Bring to boil; cover and reduce heat. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

4. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream if you like.

Yield about 7 1/2 cups

Mexican Meatball Stew Gluten Free Version

2 lbs ground turkey or beef 90/10
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 (10 oz) can mild green chili enchilada sauce
1 cup seasoning mix of onions, bell peppers and celery
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups water or chicken broth
1 1/2 cup frozen corn
1 (14 oz) can of petite diced tomatoes
1 tbs chili powder
1 (15oz) can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp dried whole oregano
1/2 Southwest seasoning, like Arizona Dreaming from Penzey's
3 tablespoons chili verde salsa
a few dashes of cilantro, if desired

1. Combine meat, almond meal, eggs and 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce, cumin, salt and pepper.  Cook 5  minutes at 70% power in microwave, toss around and cook for another 4 minutes or until done.  Microwave ovens vary so don't over cook them.  Remember they will go into the pot for a while so they can finish cooking there as well.

2. While meatballs are cooking, in a dutch oven, saute the onion mix until tender. Add chicken broth, reserving about 1/4 cup to make a slurry with the broth and stir well. Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.

3. Add meatballs, remaining enchilada sauce and rest of the ingredients. Bring just to a boil; reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

4. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream if you like.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Rustic Tomato Florentine Soup

I've been working on this recipe for quite a while now.  It's inspired by my favorite soup at a local cafe/bakery.  I can not go to this place and not order this.  It is so good.  I really wanted to make this at home and with a little help from a friendly waitress, I think I've finally got it right. It certainly is the most delicious tomato soup I've every made.

Part of what makes this soup so wonderful is the rustic flavor that comes from leaving the vegetables chunky and not pureeing the soup, which seems to be common practice among tomato soups.

I was lucky enough to have a bumper crop of grape tomatoes this year.  I need to make another batch and freeze it ASAP! I could figure out how to can tomatoes, but I'm pretty certain I'd rather stock up on this soup!

Go ahead and pin this one now! I am absolutely positive if you like tomato soup, you will love this one in all it's chunky goodness.

Rustic Tomato Florentine Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
2  bay leaves
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 cups tomato juice
2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes with juice
OR 1 can and 4 cups of grape tomatoes sliced
2 tablespoons dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 oz frozen spinach thawed OR equal amount fresh
1 1/2 cup half and half
2 tablespoons butter

 1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Then, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stirring occasionally until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Carefully pour in white wine, simmer until almost completely evaporated. Pour in the cans of tomatoes with their juices, or 1 can and sliced grape tomatoes.  Add tomato juice, basil and bay leaves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring soup to a boil for 1 minute. Then, reduce heat and simmer soup for 10 minutes until vegetables are tender crisp.

3. Then stir in the sugar and vinegar. Add spinach and allow it to begin to wilt.

4.  Add the half and half.  Stir in a slurry of corn starch dissolved in about a 2 tablespoons of half and half and let cook on medium low for a few minutes to thicken. 

5. Stir in butter and once it's melted it's ready to serve. Remove bay leaves. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Sharing Here: /Totally Tasty Tuesday @ Mandy's Recipe Box  /  Tuesday Talent Show @ Chef in Training  / Show & Share Wednesday @ Mostly Handmade Mom  / Party Time @ the 36th Avenue  /   Two Girls and a Party @ Life with the Crust offParty Junk @ Funky Junk Interiors   /  Pin ME Party @ Diana Rambles  / Share it @ Winthrop Chronicles / Weekly Creative Party @The Creative Girl

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Monday, September 16, 2013

100% Corn Cornbread

I've tried a few different versions of gluten free cornberad and this one fits my tastes the best.  No "gluten free" flours, just corn flour and corn meal.  

 My mom actually turned me onto plain corn flour.  She and her husband use it to fry fish when I'm in town.  And it's amazing by the way.  They did a taste test and couldn't really taste a difference between their regular fish fry they mix up and the one using corn flour.

100% Corn Cornbread

1 cup corn flour, plain not a cornmeal blend
1 cup cornmeal, coarsely ground (corn grits or polenta)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or put 1 Tablespoon vinegar in your measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with milk)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. (Make "buttermilk" if you're going to do that, so it can sit a bit and do whatever it does that makes it buttermilky.).

2. Preheat oven to 425°F.

3. Combine the dry ingredients (except the soda).

4. Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk and add that to the dry ingredients.

5. Add eggs and melted butter. Stir together and pour into a muffin pan or 9x9 pan.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

 Notes: I like to use the Pampered Chef square pan to get the crunchy edges.  I think that's the best part. :)

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Monday, September 2, 2013

French Dip Sandwiches

This recipe for French Dip is simple and delicious adapted from All Recipes Cookbook.  It's one of the few recipes I will actually use a crock pot for. 

Be sure to use Gluten Free soy sauce and buns if that's an issue.  


4 lbs boneless beef roast
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 bay leaf
3 peppercorns
1 tsp dried rosemary or 3 or 4 sprigs if fresh
1 tsp dried thyme or 3 or 4 sprigs if fresh
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp original Ms Dash
Beef broth to cover roast


1. Remove and discard all visible fat. Place in crock pot.

2. Add other ingredients and cover with beef broth.

3. Cook in low for 10 hours or 3 hours on high, until easily shredded.  After shredding, return to pot for another 15-30 minutes. 

4. Serve on toasted bun topped with provolone cheese and a side of the gravy or au jus. 

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Homestyle Chicken Cordon Blue with Spicy Cajun Sauce

During a recent menu planning session, my husband suggested a dish with ham, cheese and chicken breasts.

"Hmm", I said, "You mean Chicken Cordon Blue?"

"Yeah, that." he said.

This request, while sounding delicious,  presented a few obstacles for me.  To start with I am gluten intolerant, so the bread crumbs were out. And I wasn't really into the time consuming task of rolling up and securing the precarious meat bundle with toothpicks. Not my idea of a week night dinner.

After some brainstorming for a tasty crumb topping, I opted to make it a little more home-style with potato chips. In past attempts to use potato chips as a breading, I knew I wanted the chips to be a little finer than just crushing in a zip lock bag, so I used a food chopper.

For the chicken breasts, I was happy to just keep them flat. To get them nice and thin I pounded them with a meat tenderizer and made them a cut them in half diagonally.

After dipping the bottom of the chicken into the chips, I placed them into the greased pan. Topped with ham and cheese, being careful to overlap each generously.

Then, I gave each piece with a good coating of potato chips.

I must admit I was a little concerned about skipping the dredging into egg step, but this totally worked. The little bit of moisture on the chicken kept the chips on and were nice and crunchy on top.  The cheese also became a nice "glue" for the topping.

Since I was going all casual on the dish I skipped the Hollandaise and made a tangy, slightly spicy Cajun Sauce.  I used some Cajun seasoning from Phil Robertson. Yep, the Duck Dynasty patriarch has a Cajun seasoning! It's not too spicy, just a nice flavor.

Next time, I would probably add some additional red pepper.  Whatever version of spice mix you use, just go slow to be sure it doesn't get to hot or too salty.  They vary quite a bit in both areas.

Homestyle Chicken Cordon Blue with Spicy Cajun Sauce


For the Chicken

3-4 chicken breasts
10-12 slices of smoked deli ham
8 slices of havarti cheese
1 1/4 cup homestyle kettle potato chips, reduced fat

For Spicy Cajun Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice seasoning


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2.  Finely crush potato chips and transfer to a shallow dish.

3. Rinse chicken breast and pound out thin with a meat tenderizer. Cut larger breasts in half diagonally and season with Cajun seasoning.

4. Dip chicken breasts into chips and place into pan.

5. Top each piece of chicken with ham to cover generously, followed by havarti cheese and crushed chips.

6.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

7. While the chicken cooks, prepare sauce.  Heat butter and milk in small saucepan on medium heat.  Once hot and just bubbling, add a slurry of cornstarch and enough water to liquify.  Add to pan and whisk until thick and smooth.

8. Lower heat of saucepan to the lowest setting and add Dijon mustard and Parmesan cheese.  Whisk to smooth and finish with Cajun seasoning.

Note: You will want to watch the heat on the Cajun seasoning.  Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add from there.

Handy Hummus

I call this Handy Hummus because I've adapted a basic hummus recipe to be made with mostly pantry items. These are items I keep on hand. I make this when I have unexpected company or in the mood for a healthy snack.

For gluten free alternative to pita chips, we like the Almond Nut Thins by Blue Diamond, tortilla chips, or veggies.  We especially like it with cucumber slices.


1 19oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, reserve some liquid
2 tablespoons tahini
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup rice vinegar, or lemon juice
1 pinch dried lemon peel
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

optional: 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or 1 teaspoon dried
dash or two of smoked paprika


1. Place chickpeas in processor and coarsely puree.

2. Add rice vinegar and rest of ingredients. I often use about a tablespoon of bean juice to get the right consistency.  If you aren't too concerned with the fat content you could add more olive oil.

3. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a good sprinkle of smoked paprika, if desired. 

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Pulled Pork Chili

Cook an extra large pulled pork and looking for way to enjoy it beyond a bun? Then this recipe is for you.

It's even better if you start with my Mom's Pulled Pork recipe.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from Heather Christo.  Her Pork Chili Verde recipe was decidedly more green. I use about the same proportions of salsa verde, but my pulled pork has a decidedly red rub. The end result is something more like chili with a kick of green.  I also like to use my favorite bean, the black bean. It's still fresh and light enough to eat anytime of the year.

Pulled Pork Chili

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cups pulled pork
1 cup salsa verde
1 cans white beans
2 cans black beans
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons chili powder
Kosher Salt
Garnish with Green Onions and Cilantro
Good sprinkle of Arizona dreaming from Penzey's or other Mexican seasoning
Dash of chipotle powder


1. In a large heavy pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and add the onion. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let cook until soft and translucent.

2. Add the pulled pork to the onion and cook about 5 minutes.

3. Add the salsa verde to the pork and onions and simmer together.

4. Rinse and drain the white & black beans.  Add the beans to the chili.

5. Add the cumin, chili powder and seasonings to the pot.

6. Add the chicken stock, put a lid on the chili and simmer for an 30 minutes to an hour. 

7. Season to taste with kosher salt, if necessary. Because my pork was well seasoned I didn't need to add extra salt.

8. Garnish with green onions and cilantro and serve immediately.

9. Top with Colby jack or Monterrey Jack cheese and serve with tortilla chips, if desired.

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Italian Trio Pasta

This is an easy, hearty pasta toss that features three meats, chicken breast, Italian sausage and bacon or pancetta, hence the name. 

During the summer months, I tend to grill the sausage and chicken to save on cleaning separate pans.

The cream sauce is easy to make and is naturally gluten free.  

This recipe is a real winner at our house. I'm sure it will be at yours too! My husband says it's just as good as his version of "Make your own" pasta at Macaroni Grill. Nothing but meat and sauce!

Italian Trio Pasta


1 8oz light (Neufchatel) cream cheese
1 c grated Parmesan, or 1/2 Parmesan and 1/2 Romano, if you have it
1 1/2 cup Half and Half, fat free versions work or evaporated skim milk

(For special occasions try 1 cup whipping cream, 1/2 cup milk
2 cloves garlic
1 pkg turkey italian sausage
1 lb chicken breast
1/4 cup chopped pancetta or 6 slices of bacon
10 oz of pasta or gluten free pasta
3/4 frozen peas (optional-sometimes I add them sometimes not)


1. Cook sausage according to directions. Cook chicken seasoned with salt, dried basil and oregano in a grill pan or in the microwave on 60% power until done. Chop both and set aside.

2. If using bacon, cook as desired.  Reserve some grease to heat the garlic in a large non-stick skillet.  If using pancetta, cook until brown and then add garlic to the heavy skillet until aromatic.  Either way don't let the garlic burn.

3. Start the water boiling and cook noodles according to package directions. If adding peas, cook noodles for half the allotted time and add them to the pot.

4. Add milk and cream cheese to the bacon/pancetta garlic, cook over medium heat, mixing well. (May need to whisk.) Add Parmesan and Romano cheese once the mixture is creamy. Finish with a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, basil and fresh black pepper.

5. Add chopped meats to skillet and cook on low until pasta is ready and drained.

6. Add a ladle of sauce to the bottom of a large pasta bowl, add prepared pasta, top with rest of sauce. Toss and serve with extra cheese if desired.

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