Smoked Apple & Tomato Ketchup

We had bumper crops of apples and Roma tomatoes on my parents’ land this year. While watching an old Food Network show on Netflix I heard about smoked apple ketchup and decided to try it. It fits well in my collection of fruit based condiments. All the fresh ingredients came from either my or my parents’ yard.

I cut Chehalis tart apples in half & smoked them over apple wood chips in my stove top smoker. I imagine if you don’t have a smoker then they could be smoked on a grill. I cored them after smoking, but left the peelings on for more flavor. I didn’t strain it to make it more smooth before canning it in a water bath, but straining is recommended if you don’t like tomato seeds or small bits of apple peel in your ketchup. I don’t mind the extra texture. I’ve served it with sweet potato fries and it was the perfect accompaniment.

8 smoked apples, smoked, cored, & rough chopped
18 Roma tomatoes (about 2lbs), cored & quartered
1 Walla Walla onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
3 red jalapeños, seeded & chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs salt
2 tsp ground cloves

Cut apples in half and smoke according to the directions of your smoker. Prepare all fruits and vegetables. Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Stir often so the ketchup doesn’t stick to the bottom. Once everything is cooked down, purée with an immersion blender or food processor. Return to the heat and simmer until thickened to the consistency of ketchup. Stir often and be careful not to get burned by the bubbling liquid. If desired, the ketchup can be preserved by canning in sterilized jars in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Posted in Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Sauces, Specialized Diets, Sugar Free | Leave a comment

Low Carb Chicken and Dumplings

I was more fatigued than usual most of this spring so I lived on comforting and easy stews and soups. Since my dairy allergy has improved (though not gone away) with allergy shots, I decided to try some recipes using cream cheese. Chicken and dumplings is the ultimate cool weather comfort food so I came up with this recipe. The dumplings were light and fluffy just the way they should be. I used a whole, raw chicken but a rotisserie chicken or raw chicken parts would work as well. Using a rotisserie chicken would make this recipe much quicker. I didn’t add herbs and spices to my dumplings when I made them but quickly realized they’d be a good addition so I included them in the recipe. A friend suggested dill rather than thyme but I have several different types of thyme in my garden and it’s my favorite herb. One teaspoon dried herbs equals one tablespoon fresh herbs.

Chicken Soup Ingredients

1 chicken, whole or parts
8 cups chicken stock or water
6 carrots, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
juice of one lemon (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Dumpling ingredients

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup chickpea flour
2 Tbs flaxseed meal
2 Tbs cold butter, grated or finely diced
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp granulated garlic (optional)
1/4 tsp white pepper

Rub the skin of the chicken with olive oil and generously salt and pepper. Brown the skin in a stockpot or dutch oven, turning to get all sides. Cover the chicken with water or chicken broth, add thyme and sage. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about one hour if using a whole chicken, less if using chicken parts. Remove the chicken from the stock and add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Debone the chicken, dicing the meat. Return the diced chicken to the stockpot. Simmer until the vegetables are cooked, 10-15 minutes. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper, if required. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil. Combine the ingredients for the dumplings together in a small bowl and mix with a spoon until the flour and egg are incorporated. Small lumps of butter or cream cheese are to be expected. Once the soup is boiling, spoon the dumpling batter on top. Cover with a lid and allow to cook undisturbed for 10 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure the dumplings are cooked through before removing from the heat and serving.


Posted in Gluten Free, Grain Free, Main Course, Soup, Specialized Diets | Leave a comment

Three Tomato Sauce

A couple of weeks ago I finally used some of the seemly simple tomato sauce I made during harvest in the fall. It was even better than I remembered. It’s a fairly involved recipe but the results are worth the effort. I made it easier by not straining or peeling my Roma tomatoes, but a food mill works well for that task if you want to do it. I used an immersion blender but a food processor or blender can be used if necessary. To blend in the onions and garlic, put them in the cup of food processor or blender with a couple cups of tomato sauce. Purée until smooth & return the sauce to the stockpot.


Double batch of tomato sauce

I call this a three tomato sauce because it uses three different cooking times for the tomatoes: lightly cooked sauce, slow cooked sauce, & long cooked tomato paste. This method gives the sauce a complex, rich flavor that you can’t find in commercially made sauces. I use Roma tomatoes but any plum tomato can be used or a combination of types of tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are not as watery as larger tomatoes & make great sauces. Cooking times vary based on how much water is in the tomatoes. Due to limited energy, I purchased tomato paste rather than making my own. This recipe is easily doubled, but make sure you have a stockpot or bowl big enough. I made & froze a single batch and a double batch.


Two gallons of Roma tomatoes

The sauce can be used as it is or other ingredients can be added to make a heartier sauce (herbs, celery, mushrooms, Italian sausage, meatballs, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, etc.). It’s very versatile.

1 gallon plum tomatoes
1 sweet onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, optional
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs tomato paste
A few leaves of basil or tomato plant
Salt to taste

Quarter and core tomatoes, removing bad spots. Put them in a large stockpot and simmer until the juices are released and the flesh has broken down to a watery sauce. Run the sauce through a food mill at this time to remove seeds & skins or purée with an immersion blender. Set aside 3 cups of lightly cooked sauce. Steep the basil or tomato leaves and jalapeño, if desired, in the lightly cooked sauce for up to an hour. This gives the sauce a brighter, fresher flavor. Add the tomato paste to the stockpot with the rest of the sauce and simmer for several hours, until it decreases by at least a half, stirring often. Sauté onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the onions and garlic to the stockpot & purée once again with an immersion blender. Add the reserved lightly cooked sauce to stockpot. Season with salt to taste; it’ll take more than you expect, likely several tablespoons. Remove from heat and either put in jars to can or in containers to freeze.

Posted in Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Sauces, Specialized Diets, Vegan | 3 Comments

Strawberry Balsamic Shrub

After a persistent infection required me to be on antibiotics for 9 months this year, I started looking for foods to increase the good bacteria in my gut. Fermented foods are one way to do that. In my quest for easy & tasty recipes, I discovered shrubs, or sipping vinegars, made from fruit, vinegar, and sugar or honey. A variety of fruits or fruit juices and vinegars can be used and the recipe can be easily adapted to suit whatever you have on hand. Herbs and spices can be added to create different flavors, too. Most often I use raw apple cider vinegar that contains the “mother” but other vinegars can be used. I don’t use sugar in my cooking, so I use local honey in my shrubs. Either can be used as can maple syrup, coconut sugar, or raw sugar. Experiment with combinations of ingredients that you like.

This is my current favorite shrub flavor but the ratios are the same for any fruit or berries: 3 cups fruit, 1 cup sugar/honey, 1 cup vinegar. It’s easy to scale the recipe up or down depending on the quantity of fruit you have on hand. I often half the amount of honey I use in the shrub then sweeten it with stevia if necessary as I use it. Fruit juices can also be boiled down to create a syrup then vinegar and sugar/honey added. The cold method gives a richer, fresher flavor in my opinion, but boiling works best with juices like apple or grape. Currently I have a dozen bottles of shrubs in my refrigerator: strawberry balsamic, apricot cherry, blueberry white balsamic, raspberry lime, ginger lime, watermelon mint, nectarine, grape, apple cinnamon, thundercloud plum, & blackberry. All but the apricots, nectarines, limes, and ginger were locally sourced and picked either by my parents or myself. Shrubs age under refrigeration, improving the flavor and taking some of the bite out of the vinegar. I usually wait two about two months before using.

A few tablespoons of shrub syrup can be added to alcohol to make cocktails, to water or club soda to make flavorful and healthful drinks, or to olive oil and herbs or spices to make a vinaigrette for salad. Ginger lime and raspberry lime are my favorite shrubs to use in vinaigrettes.

Strawberry Balsamic Shrub

3 cups strawberries, hulled
1 cup mild flavored honey (clover, raspberry, wildflower)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Mash the strawberries and honey together with a fork or potato masher in a nonreactive bowl. Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours but no more than 72 hours. The longer it sits, the more the fruit will ferment. Strain the fruit through a fine mesh sieve or chinois (also called a China cap) to separate the berries from the syrup. Add the vinegars to the syrup, stir well, and bottle the syrup in sterilized bottles or jars. Refrigerate. Shake the bottles or jars every few days. Use once the flavor suits your tastes. I usually wait two months before using it in drinks and less when using it in a vinaigrette.

Posted in Dairy Free, Drinks, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Salads, Specialized Diets | Leave a comment

Beet and Parsnip Latkes

Latkes are one of my favorite fall/winter foods. They’re very versatile and the traditional potato and onion can be exchanged for pretty much any firm vegetable. I like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and purple potatoes in any combination, with or without onion. I even made summer latkes with shredded apples, onion, and fennel bulb this year. I picked up parsnips at the store recently & made baked latkes with them and beets from my garden. I baked them because it’s easier for me than frying them. I like to serve them with seasoned Greek yogurt. My current favorite is garlic cumin yogurt. I add minced garlic, salt, black pepper and cumin to plain, full fat Greek yogurt to taste. One day I’ll measure ingredients and type up a recipe.

2 medium beets, peeled & shredded (about 2 cups)
1 large parsnip, peeled & shredded (about 2 cups)
1 egg
2 Tbs flour of your choice (I use quinoa)
1 Tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat baking mat or parchment paper. Squeeze all the moisture out of the shredded beets and parsnips with a flour sack towel or paper towels. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until the vegetables are evenly coated with the other ingredients. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop up latka mixture and form into tight balls with your hands. Place on the baking sheet and flatten with your palm. Bake for 15 minutes, flip the latkes over and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven & serve.

Posted in Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Side Dish, Specialized Diets | Leave a comment

Chickpea & Seed Bread

I had 4 egg whites I needed to use so I decided to make bread. Whipped egg whites folded into the dough gives yeast free breads a lighter texture. I hoped combining chickpea flour and almond flour would give the bread a less cake-like texture. For extra nutrition, I added a bunch of raw seeds. I used what I had on hand. I recommend pulsing the hempseeds in a food processor a couple of times to crush them. I didn’t do that and they were very crunchy in the bread. Other than that, I’m very happy with how this recipe turned out. It tastes good, has a good texture, and doesn’t crumble as easily as most grain free breads.

1 1/2 chickpea flour

1 cup blanched extra fine almond flour

1 1/4 cup water

4 egg whites

2 whole eggs

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

1/4 cup psyllium husk powder or chia seed meal

1/4 cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup hempseeds, crushed

1/4 cup raw sesame seeds

1 Tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper in the bottom and coconut oil or olive on the sides. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients: chickpea flour, almond flour, flaxseed meal, psyllium husk powder, pepitas, sunflower seeds, hempseeds, sesame seeds, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well mixed. Whip the egg whites into stiff peaks and set aside. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the whole eggs, olive oil, vinegar, and water. Whisk wet ingredients together with a fork to break up the eggs. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon until well combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the bread dough. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until the top is light brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool at least 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Keep refrigerated or freeze.

Posted in Breads, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Specialized Diets | 1 Comment

Sugar Free Almond Coconut Cupcakes

For my birthday last week I adapted a recipe I found online for almond coconut cake. It’s the most successful grain free, sugar free cake I’ve ever made. The texture is light and fluffy, the flavor is buttery and sweet with a hint of almond. I had it with previously frozen blueberries for breakfast and with fresh raspberries and real whipped cream for dessert after dinner.

Almond coconut cake

I again used Pyure brand pre-blended stevia extract and erythritol and am still very happy with it’s performance. A word of caution, though, don’t buy the baking blend which has added maltodextrin and measures 1:1  with sugar rather than 2:1. With stevia and erythritol blends, less is more. Truvia also is a stevia extract/erythritol blend. Making your own is also easy if you buy granulated erythritol and powdered stevia extract. Until I found the Pyure stevia blend, I made my own.  1/2 cup erythritol + 1/2 tsp stevia extract = 1 cup sugar = 1/2 cup stevia/erythritol blend.

I used giant muffin tins to bake these cupcakes in and greased them with a liberal coat of coconut oil so I didn’t need paper cupcake wrappers. The thick batter filled the cups about 3/4 of the way full. I used the back of a spoon even out the top of the batter and push the batter down into the cups. It made 6 perfect large cupcakes. If baking in a 8″ or 9″ round or square cake pan, bake for 45-60 minutes and allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.

I use the scoop and press method for measuring my almond flour. It yields more flour than the fluff and spoon method but I find it works best for my recipes.

1 1/2 cups extra fine milled almond flour
3/4 cups cold butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into thick slices
1/2 cup stevia/erythritol blend
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond milk
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease the cups of a muffin tin with softened coconut oil or butter. In a large mixing bowl, cream cold butter and stevia/erythritol blend. Add one egg at a time, blending well before adding the next egg. Add the rest of the ingredients, leaving the mixer running the entire time, if possible. Mix until batter is well combined, scrapping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, level the batter with the back of a spoon, and bake for 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly brown and slightly cracked and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Let cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before attempting to remove them from the tin.

Posted in Dessert, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Specialized Diets, Sugar Free | Leave a comment