Easy Pozole Verde

This is my time saving version of a Mexican stew with pork or chicken and hominy that can take days to make. I use homemade salsa verde and canned or frozen green chiles made from homegrown produce instead of fresh tomatillos and chiles, but store bought works, too. More depth of flavor can be added by searing the salsa in the pot after the pork has been browned and before other ingredients are added. This recipe can also be made with chicken. I often use prepackaged cole slaw mix for the shredded cabbage. It’s not a traditional addition to pozole, but I like the added texture, fiber, and nutrients the cabbage provides. It can be added to the stew in the last 30 minutes of cooking if you prefer the cabbage to be cooked. White beans can be used instead of hominy, though hominy is traditional and has fewer carbohydrates. Plain, full fat Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream and has a little more nutritional value. This can be made in a crock pot as long as the pork is browned first. I also make an easy pozole rojo with homemade adobo sauce instead of fresh or dried red chiles that I will post in the future.

1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder cut into small chunks
3 cups vegetable or pork stock
1 25oz can hominy, drained & rinsed
1 16oz jar (2 cups) salsa verde
1 4oz can green chiles (optional)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs lard or coconut oil
1 Tbs dried oregano, preferably Mexican oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste
¼ cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
½ head of cabbage, shredded (optional)
1 avocado, diced (optional)
3oz pepitas, toasted (optional)
4oz sour cream (optional)
lime wedges (optional)

In a stockpot, heat the lard or coconut oil until shimmering. Add the pork pieces in a single layer and brown on all sides. This may have to be done in several batches. Remove the browned pork from the stockpot and add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the salsa verde, green chiles, garlic, and oregano. If desired, pan sear the salsa and chiles until most of the liquid has evaporated and it starts to brown. Return the pork to the stockpot and add the stock and hominy. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring periodically. Cook until the pork is tender and almost falling apart, 2-3 hours. Before serving, salt to taste and stir in the cilantro. Serving suggestion: ladle soup over shredded cabbage and top with avocado, pepitas, sour cream, and a wedge of lime.

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

No Churn Sugar Free Ice Cream

I had a crazy idea for a complicated no churn sugar free ice cream the other day and last night I decided to I try it. I wouldn’t attempt this recipe without a stand mixer, preferably one with multiple bowls. The tricky thing with sugar free ice creams is the size of the ice crystals and the hardness of the freeze since there’s no sugar in it to modulate those things. I attempted to solve those problems by whipping lots of air into the ingredients with whipped cream and whipped egg whites with gelatin as a stabilizer. It turned out pretty well. The ice crystals are a little bigger than machine churned, but it’s not frozen any harder than other premium ice creams. I got 3 full pints out of the recipe. I knew I kept these containers from Talenti Gelato for a good reason.

There are lots of steps to the recipe and having everything set out and ready to add at the appropriate times helps a great deal. The lemon juice in the egg whites acts as another stabilizer to reduce deflating. I powdered the stevia erythritol blend in a spice/coffee grinder after measuring it so the sugar alcohol crystals would freeze smaller. The recipe actually took less time than making an ice cream base and churning it in a counter top ice cream machine, though freezing took longer. I flavored this batch with lemon zest & lemon extract, since good lemon ice cream is hard to find & it’s my favorite flavor. Other ingredients like frozen berries, mini chocolate chips, or syrup/caramel can be gently folded into the base before freezing.

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 large eggs, seperated
1/4 cup granulated stevia erythritol blend, powdered
3 Tbs water
2 tsp vanilla or other flavored extract
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp gelatin powder

Whip cream and vanilla extract to stiff peaks in a large bowl of a stand mixer. While that is whipping, bring a small pot or a double boiler pot with a few inches of water in it to a simmer on the stove. Seperate eggs into two different bowls, one safe for the double boiler and one to use with the stand mixer. Add lemon juice to the egg whites. Add powdered stevia erythritol blend to the egg yolks. Put three tablespoons of water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it to bloom. Whisk egg yolks and sweetener over the double boiler. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until egg yolks are lighter in color and the gelatin and erythritol are melted. Remove from heat. Once cream is whipped, set aside and whip egg whites to stiff peaks with the stand mixer. Once egg whites are whipped, carefully fold half the egg whites and half the egg yolk mixture into the whipped cream. Once well combined, fold in the rest of the two egg mixtures into it. Fold until the ice cream base is an even light yellow color. Ladle into proper containers for freezing. Freeze at least 12 hours before eating.

Posted in Dessert, Specialized Diets, Sugar Free | 2 Comments

Sugar Free Almond Pound Cake

I did a butter taste test yesterday on ten different varieties of butter (Kerrygold was the best by far), so since I had so much butter in my house and a couple of pints of strawberries I decided to make pound cake. It helps to bring the eggs and butter up to room temperature first.

I used a stevia-erythritol blend that measures 1:2 with sugar to sweeten this. Half a cup of granulated erythritol plus half a teaspoon of stevia extract (liquid or powder) can be used instead. A teaspoon each of lemon zest and lemon extract can be added.

2 cups super fine almond flour
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup stevia-erythritol blend
1 Tbs coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9″x 9″ square baking pan. Parchment paper can be placed on the bottom to make removing the cake easier. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and stevia-erythritol together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add one egg at a time, mixing until incorporated into the butter, sweetener, and vanilla extract before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once eggs are blended in, add coconut flour and baking soda. Mix for a minute before slowly adding the almond flour. Mix until well combined. Pour batter into the baking pan and smooth the top with the back of a spatula. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream, if desired.


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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 Condiments, 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.


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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