August 3, 2016
dinner, Freezing, philosophy, Tips
I’m convinced that this is the answer to all my problems: Crock Pot “Dump” Meals. Ok, not really the answer to ALL my problems, but a really valuable tool for simplifying life a bit. “Dump” meals are the ones where you dump a bunch of ingredients into the crock pot, turn it on, and 6-8 hours later, voila! Food – hot and ready to eat! Here’s the key – most dump recipes, also called “Freezer-to-Crockpot” meals, can be prepped ahead of time and frozen in freezer container or bag, without cooking them first.
We’ve talked a lot here about doing batch cooking and using the freezer to store prepared food for future meals, but this is even easier. All that is required is to put raw food in freezer bag, label, and place it in the freezer. And pulling a bag out of the freezer and dump the contents into the crockpot? Easiest thing ever!
*Pro tip – freeze the food in a shape that fits into your crockpot or else allow several hours for the package to thaw before cooking it.
Here’s a super simple recipe to get you started:
Place in a freezer bag:
4 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbs rosemary, chopped
1 tsp salt
When you’re ready to cook:
Empty contents of freezer bag into the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
It really doesn’t get much easier than that, people! Serve it with salad or steamed veggies on the side, whatever you like, and enjoy the fact that dinner cooked itself!
September 14, 2012
baked goods, dinner, Fab or Fail, Freezing
flexible tortilla, Mexican food
Part 1 is here if you missed it.
Well, it’s been a busy week putting up garden produce. I’ve picked and/or processed green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, grapes, peaches and apples this week. So I haven’t been baking to say the least. We had enough gluten-free, corn-free tortillas from last week’s batch that I didn’t tinker with my recipe since my last post. Feel free to flog me with a virtual wet noodle.
To make up for it, I’m going to post the recipe as I’ve developed it so far. I have frozen these before, and they do just fine. Keep in mind this is a work in progress. If you tinker with it, I’d love to hear how it comes out for you!
Flexitillas (make sure you say this with a Mexican accent: flex-i-TEE-ya. Sombrero optional.)
1 Cup Tapioca Starch
1 Cup Cooked Beans (Navy beans are high in calcium and the right color)
1 Cup Almond Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Salt
Put the ingredients in the food processor and run the machine until it purrs. (What, yours doesn’t purr? Ok, then just process until smooth. And then buy a cat.) Add some palm shortening – about 1/3 cup – and process again. You’re looking for it to turn into coarse crumbles. Add some water into the spout part of the food processor while processing and stop when the mixture starts to form dough.
These toast up nicely!
Cook as usual by pressing out balls of dough in a tortilla press and toasting on a medium-high griddle.
September 7, 2012
baked goods, dinner, Fab or Fail
corn-free tortilla, flexible tortilla, gluten-free tortilla, Mexican food
If you’re looking for Part 2, click here.
So, the Hubby likes Mexican food. It probably has something to do with growing up in a border state where there is a Mexican restaurant on every corner. It’s pretty much his favorite cuisine. And it’s pretty much the hardest to duplicate in an allergen-free environment. It’s easy enough to make your own taco seasoning to season your own meat or beans however you prefer. There are a million ways to make salsa to avoid whatever you’re allergic to. But tortillas! Ay! You can’t eat Mexican cuisine without tortillas, and as far as I can tell, there are no tortillas commercially available that are free of both corn and gluten. The ones that come the closest are made from rice, so that’s no good for me, either.
I’ve been using Jaye’s tortilla recipe for several years now, and it’s a good start. The tortillas bend a little, as long as you don’t overcook them. I’ve fiddled with the recipe, changing the proportions of flour, fat and water, and every time I get a pretty similar result. It’s tasty food, just not exactly what I was hoping for in the flexibility department.
Over the summer, Jaye had a tortilla accident. You know the kind. It’s what happens when you run out of food and payday isn’t until next week. You start throwing together random things from the pantry, hoping that food will result. Fortunately, this was a happy tortilla accident (as opposed to the unhappy kind that involves blood and property damage). Tapioca starch and cooked beans, blended together as a flour base for tortillas made a VERY flexible tortilla. However, I’m not gonna lie. It was gummy. Not so bad as trying to eat oobleck, just not the sort of thing I’d make again on purpose, if you know what I mean.
So now I’m tinkering with tortillas again. I’ve tried it with almond flour (using up what I had on hand before we discovered the nut allergy), and it seems to be working. But I need the recipe to be nut-free, since my bigger boy is anaphylactic to several nuts.
Will my experiments be fab? Or another in a long line of tortilla flops? Tune in next week for the result!
August 22, 2012
allergen-free teriyaki, baked teriyaki, homemade teriyaki, soy-free teriyaki, sugar-free teriyaki
So, in the spirit of keeping it simple, last night’s dinner was Teriyaki-Style Chicken. It’s just sauce, chicken, and veggies. Cooked grain on the side optional. Super-easy, I promise.
Hubby found a recipe* for Teriyaki sauce on the internet that sounded yummy. Naturally, it called for several ingredients that we either can’t or don’t use. Of course, we didn’t let a minor concern like that stop us! This is where having a list of cheats really helps out.
We find that Coconut Aminos are a great soy-free, gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. It’s a pricey ingredient, to be sure, but the flavor it adds to your cooking is really hard to duplicate. (We think the cost is worth it and keep this on hand as a kitchen staple.) Tapioca starch is the easy substitute for cornstarch. A pinch of cayenne instead of black pepper does the trick nicely for us. Hubby even figured out how to use orange juice in place of the white sugar, since we don’t like to use refined sugar. The result was a fairly easy recipe that we’re going to add to our regular rotation. Cooking the veggies in the sauce with the chicken also made for an easy (and yummy) way to get veggies on the table.
Baked Teriyaki-Style Chicken
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup Coconut Aminos
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 12 skinless chicken thighs
- 3 cups chopped veggies of your choice such as carrots, squash, broccoli, green beans, peas, cabbage, celery, etc.
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the tapioca starch, orange juice, Coconut Aminos, vinegar, garlic, ginger and cayenne. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. (We used palm shortening.) Brush chicken with the sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.
- Bake, covered, in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and add veggies. Turn pieces of chicken over, and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking. Sprinkle with green onions or sesame seeds to garnish.
Serve with rice, quinoa, or other grain of your choice. Or, if you’re going low-carb like the Hubby, eat a salad on the side instead of grain.
Technically, Teriyaki Chicken is supposed to be grilled. However, by baking it, this recipe should adapt beautifully to bulk cooking as the sauce will keep it from drying out when reheating. I also want to try cooking the meat halfway, then sealing it in a baggie and freezing it. Then it should just be pretty convenient to grill it, for a bit more authenticity. Now doesn’t that sound yummy?
*Link to the original recipe here.
*Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with Coconut Secret and are not being compensated for mentioning Coconut Aminos in any way, not even a free sample of their product.
August 9, 2012
breakfast, dinner, Freezing, Frugal cooking, lunch, snacks, Tips
garden, recipe, squash, vegetables
This lovely blossom will be a yummy squash in a couple weeks!
It’s that time of year again when the garden is yielding up more squash than you can shake a stick at. Squash is pretty easy to grow, and produces a lot of food, so it’s a good crop for the novice gardener. Last year, I was given nearly 50 yellow squash starts for my garden, and as a result, I had an abundance of yellow squash for much of last summer. By the end of summer, I had mastered the art of hiding squash in a number of creative recipes.
- Sliced thin, lightly salted, and dehydrated into squash chips (a tasty low-carb snack!)
- Dredged in a mixture of flour, salt and herbs and fried
- Sautéed in oil with tomatoes, white beans, caramelized onions, garlic, bell pepper, etc.
- Steamed with broccoli and lightly seasoned with herbs for a side dish with grilled chicken
- Boiled with potatoes and cauliflower and mashed into “mashed potatoes”
- Roasted with potatoes, carrots and bell pepper
- Lightly brushed with olive oil and grilled
- Julienned into a squash/carrot/radish coleslaw-like salad
- Chopped into lettuce salad
- Shredded and in baked into muffins and pancakes
- Added to soup
- Mashed and added to spaghetti sauce
- Lacto-fermented (aka pickled) in brine
- Peeled into thin strips as a low-carb, grain-free pasta substitute
- Shredded and mixed into meatloaf and chicken patties
I think the only thing I didn’t do is stuff them, and that was only because I didn’t let them get that big. I also sliced and shredded a bunch for the freezer so we could enjoy squash all year long.
This year’s garden has less squash, but overflows with broccoli instead. I’m sad to say that it is not proving to be nearly as versatile. I’d be happy to hear your suggestions for using up broccoli or squash in the comments!
June 13, 2012
applesauce, baked chicken patties, chicken patties, corn-free, egg-free, freezing chicken patties, gluten-free, quinoa
I know this is labeled as kid food, but the grown-ups at our house love these chicken patties, too. I love that the recipe is allergen-free. There are no eggs, gluten, corn, soy, or any of the other top 8 allergens in the recipe. Not only is it safe for many people’s allergies, it’s really easy – just throw the stuff in the food processor and let it go!
However, this recipe deserves Best-of-the-Web status, but only after some minor tweaking. We substitute pureed veggies (or baby food, since we’ve got a ton of that lying around) for the applesauce, add some more seasonings (oregano is a good place to start), and bake them instead of frying them (easier to mass-produce that way). Some of us like the patties dipped in applesauce, others prefer to use mustard. Of course, you can change all that up according to your family’s taste. This is really a super-versatile recipe.
These do really well in the freezer. Just flash freeze the cooked patties, pop them in a labeled baggie, and you’re good to go. I recommend cooking the patties about ¾ of the way, then freezing them, as that helps preserve the moisture during the reheating process. If you do this, just spread them out on a cookie sheet and reheat at 350 F. Make sure the internal temp reaches 165 F, of course.
Chicken Patties (gluten-free, egg-free)
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half (about 7 ounces), cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 scallions, coarsely chopped (or onions, or dried minced onion – whatever’s handy)
- 3/4 cup cooked quinoa, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons applesauce, plus more for dipping
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, or canola oil
- Pulse chicken and scallions in a food processor until coarsely pureed. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in quinoa, applesauce, and salt, if desired. Form into 2-inch patties that are 1/2 inch thick. Patties can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month until ready to cook.
- Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add patties to skillet; cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Serve warm with applesauce.