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Category Archives: Dinner

Pierogi Pizza

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Yesterday was John’s birthday.  It happens to fall on National Pi Day, and it makes this former math teacher giggle every year.  For several years I’ve made him pie for dessert instead of cake at his request.  His favorite meal is pizza.  If you haven’t noticed, we don’t have pizza often.  It’s hard enough when you’re gluten free, but toss in dairy and tomatoes and it all gets more complicated.  Now, John can still eat pizza, he’s not allergic, but the date falling during Lent puts a hitch in the situation.  This issue was discussed last week in a Facebook group I follow.  One suggestion was to try a pierogi flavored pizza.  Thanks for the idea, Elizabeth; it was great!

We tried to make real gluten free pierogis when we were studying Poland last school year.  It was pretty much a flop.  They all fell apart in the boiling water.  It was so bad that I finally baked the rest.  The baked ones were great, but I pretty much gave up trying to make gluten free-egg free pierogis ever again.  Pierogi Pizza was a much better idea.

Pierogi Pizza
I started with this pizza crust recipe.  As always I was missing a few ingredients, so I improvised a little.

I started by mixing this gluten free flour blend:

2 cups sorghum flour
2 cups tapioca starch
1 cup potato starch
1 cup teff flour

I doubled this pizza crust for my family, but next time I might triple it.  It worked out this time because I had extra mashed potatoes and dessert coming.  Don’t worry I plan to share the dessert recipe in the next post.

Pizza Crust
1 3/4 cups gluten free flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 teaspoon ground flax seed
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup almond milk
2 Tablespoons safflower oil
1/2 teaspoon vinegar, optional

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and blend thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add a tablespoon or two of additional liquid at a time, until dough comes together easily. Cover and let sit at room temp for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With lightly oiled hands, press dough into a 10″ circle on a lightly floured pan, building up edge slightly.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Remove crusts from oven, top with sauce, etc. and return to oven. Heat until toppings are bubbly, about 8-10 minutes. Parbaked crusts can be stored frozen to use as needed.

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This is the part where we diverged from traditional pizza recipes.

Earlier in the week I started fermenting sauerkraut using cabbage from my St. Patrick’s Day produce pack using mason jars and this method.  The finished product was waiting in the refrigerator.

Once I had my pizza dough mixed and resting, I started boiling 2.5 -3 lbs of potatoes for our mashed potato “sauce”.  These I mashed with almond milk and some nutritional yeast.  Sorry I didn’t measure that part.  Then I mixed in about two cups of sauerkraut.  Taste and add salt if needed.   The adults in the house thought that it needed more kraut, but the kids thought it was just right.

While the potatoes were boiling, I started browning one very large thinly sliced onion in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Stir regularly.  Once the onions were pretty brown 10-15 minutes, I drizzled them with a couple of tablespoons of safflower oil, sprinkled them with salt, and reduced the heat to medium-low for another ten minutes or so.

Then I sliced mushrooms and tossed them in to saute with the onions.  I had a few sprigs of fresh thyme from my St. Patty’s pack, so that went in too.  At this point I felt that it needed some color.  Once the mushrooms were cooked I added some spinach I had in the fridge leftover from our spring rolls the day before.

Somewhere towards the end of mashing the potatoes and cooking the mushrooms, I patted the dough out on the floured pizza pans and parbaked them according to the directions above.

I spread the mashed potato “sauce” on the cooked crust and topped it with the onion and mushroom mixture.  Discard the thyme stems as needed.   Bake for another 8 minutes and serve with oven roasted asparagus.

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Geography Studies: Iceland

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Iceland was the last European country that we studied before our school year ended right before Christmas.  It is also a regularly forgotten member of the continent.  Sometimes it isn’t even included on maps of Europe while you’re looking for one to print for school.  Even better is the fact that my mother lived there for a while because my grandfather’s job moved them there.

While we did listen to the national anthem online and read books from the library, this study ended a bit differently than our others.  Grandpa lent us his slide projector and boxes of slides from their road trips through Iceland.  We set up a screen made from a white blanket for our slide show.  It was lots of fun to watch the kids try to guess which family member was which, not to mention the great pictures of the Icelandic countryside.

My aunts and uncle insisted that we must try to find pylsurs, Icelandic hot dogs made of pork, beef, and lamb.  However, I never found a place to buy them in the States, and I imagine they’d be expensive anyway.  Another option mentioned in our books was hamburgers, but though it may be a regular option in Iceland, it didn’t seem to be a memorable option for our schooling.  So with that in mind and other unique options such as puffin, walrus, and whale equally unattainable, we decided to go with lamb.

We seared lamb chops in my cast iron skillet with salt and garlic.  Then I served it with salad, rhubarb compote, and Icelandic potato salad.  Rhubarb apparently grows very well in Iceland.

Rhubarb Compote

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup frozen chopped rhubarb (fresh would work)

Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Add the rhubarb and simmer until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes.  Serve warm or chilled.  It also makes a good jam for toast, or warmed as a thick syrup on pancakes.

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I used the last of out Hungarian Dill Pickles for the potato salad.  Click on the links below for the recipes for the mayonnaise and sour cream that I use.  I simply substitute vinegar for the lemon juice in all the recipes.  Not everyone in the house can have eggs.  Instead of mixing them in, I sliced them to top the potato salad of a select few in the house.

Icelandic potato salad and Lamb chops with rhubarb compote

Kartoflusalat (Potato Salad)

1 3/4 lbs red potatoes
3 eggs, hard-boiled and sliced
2 pears, cored and chopped
1/4 cup chopped pickles
1/4 onion, small diced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup soy-free, vegan sour cream (scroll to the last recipe in the post)
1/2 teaspoon Ruth’s Special Blend Curry Powder
salt, to taste

Boil the potatoes until tender.  Cool and cube the potatoes.  Chop the rest of the ingredients as noted above.

Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and chill for at least six hours before serving (At least the original instructions said to chill the dish.  I didn’t plan that far ahead, but our slightly warm potato salad was good!  The leftovers were even better).

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry

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Tonight’s dinner was easy to make, and it was a hit all around.  As much as I love sesame oil and ginger, every once in a while I need a change from those flavors in a stir fry.  This was even more true today when lunch was Sweet and Sour Pork leftovers.  I even had plenty of cooked brown jasmine rice leftover from lunch, so there was no need to cook more.  Without having to cook  the rice, this meal took less than thirty minutes to prepare.

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry
While you could use white button or crimini mushrooms in this dish, I like to splurge on the shitake variety every once in a while.

Napa Cabbage Stir Fry

3 Tbsp safflower oil
1 white onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey
1 pkg sliced shitake mushrooms
1 medium head of Napa cabbage, sliced in ribbons
3-4 Tbsp coconut aminos, to taste
salt to taste

Heat the oil a wok heated over medium-high.  Add the onions and garlic with a generous pinch of salt.  Stir fry until the onions become translucent.  If they get a little caramelized around the edges, it’s even better.  Turn the heat down to medium if the onions seem to brown too quickly.

Add the ground turkey and continue to stir fry for another 2-3 minutes until about half of the meat is cooked.  Then add the mushrooms.  If the heat hasn’t been reduced to medium yet, do so now.

Once the meat is cooked through, toss the cabbage into the mix.  When well combined, put the lid on the wok and allow to steam for 3-5 minutes.  Stir every two minutes or so to ensure the even cooking of the cabbage.  Steaming the cabbage this way will create a lovely broth at the bottom of the pan that is wonderful drizzled over the rice.

Once the cabbage is cooked to your desired texture, add in the coconut aminos.  We like ours soft, but stop cooking a bit earlier if you prefer yours with a little crunch.  Adjust salt to taste and serve over warm rice.

Carnitas

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Carnitas are the pulled pork of Latin food.  They are very easy to make.  You can dress them like your favorite tacos or burritos.  They’re perfect for a Sunday dinner or a busy day.

Carnitas
Most of the members of our family can’t eat tomatoes with pleasant results, so we like avocado, cilantro, lettuce, and refried beans on our carnitas.  You’re also welcome to add a little chile or cayenne to your spices if your family prefers, but we like ours just fine this way.

I doubled the recipe today so I would have enough meat and broth for a soup later this week.  The roast I used is from tamale meat I found on sale near Christmas.

This time I also tossed in three cubes of frozen recaito from when I made pasteles.  It added nice flavors to the meat, but the recipe below is how I’ve been making carnitas for years.  It will be great with or without recaito.

Carnitas

Brown Rice Tortillas
lettuce, avocado, cilantro, tomato, and/or salsa
Refried Beans (I made ours today with pink beans.  You can most likely find them in the Latin food section of your grocery store either canned or dry, but a Latin grocery store would be an even better source.)

2-pounds pork roast (Bones are okay; they are easy to remove after cooking.)
3-4 tsp salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
3 bay leaves or 1/4 cup recaito
3 cups chicken broth (I used leftover frozen broth from making tamales and pasteles)

Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 2” pieces. Sprinkle meat generously with salt. Place meat in a slow cooker.

Add herbs and spices to the slow cooker and pour broth over mixture.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8-10 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove meat from slow cooker. Save broth for soup later this week. When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat by pulling two forks through it in opposite directions; discard any fat.

Serve with tortillas and top with your choice of vegetables and salsa.

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

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My neighbor and I occasionally swap produce from our Bountiful Baskets.  She mostly gets peppers and other members of the nightshade family that we won’t use.  We get wonderful things in return.  Most recently we received some spaghetti squash.  Have I mentioned how we love winter squashes?  With the seeds inside you get dinner and a snack.

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I wish I’d remembered to take a picture when I first cooked this meal.  It got a little mushy after being in the slow cooker during church on Sunday.  Then most of the texture was gone when we reheated the leftovers.   That and it normally has a bit more bright green from the pesto, but I put the mushrooms in at the wrong spot and the color faded with the extended cooking.  Despite that, it tasted great, and several people at church asked for the recipe.  So here you go…

Oh, you can substitute cooked cannellini or cranberry beans in the place of the meat to make this vegan.  That is if you leave the cheese out of your pesto sauce like I do.

Spaghetti Squash with Pesto

1 large spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground pork
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup vegan pesto sauce
salt to taste

Brush the cut side of the squash with olive oil.  Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes (varies by size).  You should be able to pierce the flesh with a fork easily without the spaghetti-like texture of the squash becoming mushy.  It should be easy to scoop from the skin.  Remove the squash from the oven and cool for ten minutes (or grab it with a pot holder like I do).  Scoop the insides into a large bowl.

In a skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Saute until the onions are translucent.

Brown the ground pork with the onions.  When it is almost cooked through, add in the mushrooms.  Saute until everything is completely cooked.  Stir in the pesto sauce and warm it slightly.

Toss the meat sauce with the cooked spaghetti squash.  Serve with a side salad.

Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry

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Earlier this week I planned to make a beef-broccoli stir fry, and I did make it for dinner tonight.  However it was so similar to my green bean-beef stir fry that I decided to type up a backlogged vegan stir fry from back during the Nativity Fast.  The kids liked this one so much that we’ve had it twice since then.  It does make a nice diversion from the beans that we normally use for protein during the fasting seasons.  Instead we used plenty of cashews.

Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry

Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry

3 cups dry brown jasmine rice, cooked

3 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch knob ginger, minced
3 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1-2 lbs broccoli crowns (to taste), cut into small florets
1 1/2 cup cashews, toasted
3-4 Tbsp coconut aminos
salt to taste

Put the rice on to cook.

Heat a dry wok over medium heat.  Lightly toast the cashews for 3-4 minutes with constant attention, so you don’t burn them.  Set aside for later.

Heat the sesame oil in the hot wok and add the onions, garlic, and ginger.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Stir fry until they are just beginning to be translucent at the edges.

Add the carrots and celery.  Continue to stir fry for another 4-5 minutes while mixing thouroughly.

Mix in the broccoli and mushrooms.   Make sure you mix enough that the broccoli and mushrooms make contact with the bottom of the wok.  Stir fry for another 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the broccoli is tender-crisp.  If you’d rather have softer broccoli, cover with a lid and steam for 2-3 minutes.

Toss in the cashews and drizzle with coconut aminos.  Adjust salt to taste.  Serve over rice.

Baked Potatoes with Turkey and Broccoli

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Tonight’s dinner was fast and easy.  That was good, because Little Man refused to nap today.  He’s about to turn three and is becoming particularly mischievous.  It’s time to pull out the preschool quiet time boxes, so I can get dinner on the table.

This is our favorite way to make baked potatoes.  This is the original recipe that I modified for my first post on this blog.

Baked Potato with Turkey and Broccoli

Baked Potatoes with Turkey and Broccoli

10 small potatoes, baked using your preferred method
1 lb cooked shredded turkey from the freezer
1/2 medium onion diced
2 lbs broccoli, steamed or roasted
2-3 T olive oil
salt to taste
Vegan Parmesan Cheeze (optional)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan that has a lid.  Add the onions and start cooking with a pinch or two of salt.

Add the cooked turkey when the onions have turned translucent.  Stir it until well mixed and the turkey is warm.

Place potatoes on the plate.  Slice and mash slightly with a fork.  Drizzle with olive oil or coconut oil and a pinch of salt.  Top with turkey and Parmesan.

I served this with steamed broccoli, and served leftover mango rice pudding for dessert.