Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Gluten and Dairy free chicken fried steak

April 23, 2010

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade. Check out the other links for recipes, news, and thoughts on real food, slow food, organic and/or local food!

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Can you say YUM? These were really, really yummy. Of course, I did some research and found some recipes* that inspired me and then tweaked them to make them gluten and dairy free. I made my own gluten-free flour blend, as well. First, the recipe I based mine on is Gluten Free Chicken Fried Steak from Mom Cooks Gluten Free. I barely had to tweak this because it was already gluten-free. The major changes I made were that I used arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch (making it corn free). Also, I used Spectrum Organic vegetable shortening. If I had some lard from pastured pork, I would probably have used that. I also used Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – Soy Free. I doubled this recipe (there are 3 adults and 2 kids to feed in our house) and we had leftovers for breakfast/lunch the next day. This is the recipe from the website, with my changes in bold after each ingredient. Honestly, it’s a really good recipe, so I hardly changed a thing. I just used what I had on hand and also made it dairy-free. You could quite easily stick to the original recipe and it would be delicious.


  • 4 cube steaks (4 to 6 oz each) I used grass-fed cubed steak and tenderized it.
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend (I used the Authentic Foods Gluten Free Multi-Grain, but you can use any flour blend. See note below.) I made my own blend, see link below.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt I used sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder I had dehydrated onion slices, so ground them into a powder
  • 1/2 cup of shortening I used Spectrum Organic Vegetable shortening
  • 4 Tbsp butter I used Earth Balance Soy Free
  • 1 1/2 cup of milk (cow, rice or soy…I used cow) I used goat’s milk
  • 2-3 tsp corn starch or potato starch I used arrowroot starch and I think it took a little bit more, but my gravy was lumpy as I am inexperienced at making gravy!
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pound the steaks with a mallet to tenderize them (not too thin).
  2. Whisk eggs and place in a bowl big enough to dip the steaks in.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Divide the flour mixture between two large plastic bags. I just poured the stuff in the ziploc bags and shook them up good!
  4. Mix the steaks in the first flour mixture, one by one.
  5. Then dip them in the eggs.
  6. Then shake in the second flour mixture until fully coated. (repeat if necessary)
  7. In a large skillet (cast iron or non-stick because you want the drippings/brown bits for gravy), heat the 1/2 cup of shortening over medium heat (350 deg F). I added more as I went along and seemed to need more.
  8. Brown the steaks on both sides for approximately 2-4 minutes each side until steaks are cooked through.
  9. Set steaks aside and cover/tent to keep warm.
  10. In the same pan, pour off the shortening and add 4 Tbsp of butter and melt over medium heat. (you want to use the browned bits from the steaks to help flavor the gravy) I didn’t pour off the shortening as there wasn’t much left at this point.
  11. Slowly add the corn starch, stirring while doing so. Again, I used arrowroot starch.
  12. Add the 1 1/2 cup of milk slowly, continuing to stir. Heat through and stir to eliminate any lumps.
  13. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Serve with mashed potatoes. I served with green beans and corn because we didn’t have potatoes.

As far as the gluten-free flour blend goes, I used this blend, which is a blend of brown rice f lour, tapioca starch, and bean flour or sorghum. I used sorghum and sifted them together thoroughly.

*It’s so important to give credit to recipes. Simply cutting and pasting someone else’s recipe is not OK. Always, always give credit, a trackback, or whatever. I try to do this, no matter how much, or how little, I might change the original recipe.


Allergen free Easy Bake Oven recipes

April 15, 2010

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade. Check it out for lots of information, recipes, and ideas about real food. Food Renegade Banner

I find that being frugal and caring about the environment go hand in hand, at least for me. I hate spending a lot of money on things. Although, I will willingly spend good money on a good product, such as grass-fed beef or a good pair of sneakers or toilet paper. I am willing to spend a lot of money on food. In fact, I insist on buying high quality items as much as possible. Some things are worth the money. One thing that is often NOT worth the money is toys for the kids. Buying new is expensive (not that each little toy is expensive, but it adds up over time). It uses resources, such as oil for the plastics and gas to get toys here. Even if they are wood toys and made in the United States, there is still a cost, though it is definitely better for the economy and the environment. We try to buy used toys as much as possible, from Ebay, the thrift store, etc.

So what do I do when we are at the thrift store and there is an Easy Bake Oven and Aidan wants it? I mean the packets that come with it or that you buy at the store are awful. How is it even possible to make a cake where you just add water? The good thing is that I am not the only person who thinks like this. And the other good thing is the Internet. Oh how I love you, Internet! Where else can you find recipes for Easy Bake Oven sized desserts? I found a few good recipes on this site. We used the brownie recipe, but I admit I tweaked it to make it gluten-free*.

Also, I made my own chocolate sauce from scratch to avoid the high fructose corn syrup and other artificial stuff (see a list of the ingredients in Hershey’s chocolate syrup here). So anyway, I found a recipe for homemade chocolate syrup. I, of course, modified it as well. It seems I am constantly modifying recipes. In fact, Tim calls me Ida after some lady who made some substitutions to his mom’s recipes and then said it didn’t quite taste the same. I like to think that I am a better cook than Ida, though. Obviously I know what I am doing and she didn’t! 🙂

So, now that I have given credit to the recipes that inspired me, here is what I ended up doing.

Allergen Friendly Easy Bake Brownie Recipe (Gluten, dairy, egg and yeast free and easily corn free):

2 T succanat (though honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar would work)
1 t sunflower oil (a light olive oil would work in a pinch, as well as any other light vegetable oil)
1/8 t vanilla extract (NOT imitation vanilla!)
4 t homemade chocolate syrup
1 1/2 T buckwheat flour
1 T brown rice flour
1/8 t baking powder (if you have a corn allergy, it’s easy to make your own or you can buy Hain Featherweight brand)

  1. Mix the wet ingredients together first, including your sugar if you are using syrup or agave. If you are using some granular sugar, I’d add it with the dry ingredients.
  2. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until mixed.
  3. Grease Easy Bake pan lightly and pour batter into pan (mine was thick and didn’t really pour, but I patted it in there nicely).
  4. Bake 15 minutes.

Aidan said it was good. I asked him if it cooked all the way and he said yes. I asked him if it tasted good and he said it did, but could have more chocolate in it.

Now, for the chocolate sauce recipe:

Chocolate Sauce

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c succanat
1/4 cup agave syrup**
1 1/4 cups water
1 t vanilla extract

  1. Mix sugar(s), cocoa powder, and water in a small saucepan.
  2. Stir together and heat until boiling. Boil for about 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla. (I let it cool a bit before adding the vanilla, but I’m not sure it matters).

Next time I make this, I am going to try to use stevia, maybe mixed with a bit of maple syrup.

*At the moment I’m not supposed to be eating gluten or sugar or dairy or a whole big, long list of things. The kids can eat those things, but I figured nobody needs that much gluten anyway and the buckwheat flour is tasty and more nutritious than wheat flour.

**I’ve been using agave syrup/nectar, but I keep reading bad stuff about it so I probably will not be using it anymore. It’s a shame because it’s one of the few sweeteners my doctor said was OK. I think perhaps she doesn’t know the bad stuff about it. If you are curious, read Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? at Food Renegade.

Winter Cakes

December 2, 2009

When I woke up this morning I had a craving, or perhaps just a hankering, for something with molasses, butter, oats, and cinnamon. I looked for a recipe to use but didn’t really find one that was what I was looking for, so I made something up. Now, I’m not saying this was the most awesome recipe in the world or anything, but it turned out pretty good and really hit the spot. I wasn’t sure what to call this recipe – bars, cake, bread? Then it snowed the littlest, tiniest bit and the kids came in the house (after being out for less than 10 minutes!) just in time to have some warm goodness. Aidan called them Winter Cakes and I thought it was very fitting.

So I’m posting this recipe (though it’s more of an idea than a recipe) partly to share it and partly so I can find it again. I have to write it down before I forget. I did not measure everything, so some things are a guess, such as the spices. I added about the same amount of nutmeg, cloves, and ginger but put in a lot of cinnamon.

Winter Cakes

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar (though it would be tasty with molasses, honey, or syrup as a sweetener, too)
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 t salt (actually I used a little less because it was sea salt which seems saltier to me)
  • 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t ginger
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1.5 t cinnamon
  • 1 cup oats (not sure about this, added enough so that it wasn’t too dry but it had plenty of oats in it)
  • chocolate chips, optional

Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, salt. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and spices. Add to creamed mixture. Then add oats and chocolate chips. I put mine in some mini-loaf pan (similar to this one. I baked it on 350 on the top rack (we had a leg of venison roasting at the same time), but cold probably do 300 on a middle rack. I have no idea how long it baked, but the toothpick test worked fine.

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday. Take a look at what other people are cooking up and writing about real food.

Making jerky

November 20, 2009

Now, before I tell you all about our jerky making adventures and how to make jerky, I have to tell you that I didn’t really do much of the work. Unless you count mixing the seasoning together and leaving it on the counter for several days until it had to be thrown out because it was disgusting, had Asian lady beetles in it, and had a dirty towel land in it (shh, I don’t think I told anyone else that part!). Other than eating the finished product, that was my only real contribution. Tim did the rest, so I must give credit where credit is due.

This post is more about our learning how to do this rather than being able to teach anyone else how to do it. Keep that in mind, too. If you want to learn how to make jerky yourself, I suggest searching some other sites or good old-fashioned trial and error, which worked for us.

First, Scott the Farmer gave us some venison to turn into jerky. He has particular cuts of meat that he prefers for jerky. That’s all I can tell you because I am not wise in the ways of cuts of meat, especially cuts of deer meat. Second, he gave us the recipe he uses. I will post that and give him credit even though I am not sure where he got the recipe from. I suspect it is not from a cookbook or anything, though.

  • Two cups soy sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 4 oz. liquid smoke
  • 2-3 T worstershire sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups honey

Whisk and let sit.

That’s it. Now there are some other directions Tim found on the Internet, but basically you slice the meat (keep in mind it will get thinner while drying, of course), soak it in the sauce as long as you like. Then put it in a dehydrator or an oven. We turned the oven on to the lowest setting, which turned out to be too high, really. The first batch was in the oven overnight and it was pretty dry. It was still edible, though. The second batch Tim made used more honey and we watched it more carefully so it didn’t get too dry. It was delicious!

The best thing about jerky is that it is a great snack. It keeps well in the car, even in the summer. It’s low in carbohydrates and fat, but high in protein. The problem with store bought jerky is that it is expensive and it almost always contains MSG! Making at home gives you more control over the ingredients you use. And I’m sure there are a ton of recipes for jerky seasoning and there are many stores that sell jerky seasoning packets. I have no idea what is in those, though.

I can say that making jerky was surprisingly easy and super delicious. We have more venison in our freezer that is good for jerky, so we will make some again soon.

Edited to add this link to Making Jerky in Mother Earth News.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade

Pancakes, cornbread, and brownies

October 16, 2009

This last week, I was busy in the kitchen as usual. One thing I did was to clear out the pantry a bit and organize things. We have a lot of glass containers that we bought from IKEA more than a year ago. Some were empty on the floor of the pantry, while others needed to be combined or put into smaller glass containers. For example, I ended up putting rice in glass containers instead of leaving it in the loosely closed plastic it came in. I had an empty container that I filled with chili powder I bought at the bulk dry goods store in town, called Sugar N Spice. I need a lot of chili powder and cumin to make our own taco seasoning. I could actually use a few more glass containers, but I believe the closest IKEA is in the Chicago area.

I guess I was feeling particularly energetic, so I decided that while I was at it, I would measure out the dry ingredients for several batches of pancakes and cornbread and store it in the jars. Not that it is all that difficult to make cornbread or pancakes from scratch, but I admit that sometimes Bisquick sounds so darn convenient. So this is a compromise. Having the dry ingredients premixed and stored in the pantry will save some time. In fact, I’ve used the pancake mix and so far it’s been pretty fast to make pancakes. The biggest problem with this method is figuring out how much of the dry ingredients to measure out. However, I figured I’ll just scoop some of the dry ingredients out, add an egg or two and as much milk as it takes to make them the right consistency. It’s easy and requires no measuring that way. Now the only problem is that I need a bigger container for the pancake mix because now it is so much easier to make pancakes that we have had them twice this week. It’s just about time to make more chili and cornbread, too.

Another thing that happened in the kitchen this last week is that I made brownies twice and accidentally put in 3/4 a cup of sugar instead of 1 3/4 cups of sugar. The first time I did this I thought they didn’t taste all that sweet, but I thought that maybe I had had some store-bought ones lately and that was why they didn’t taste so sweet. But no that wasn’t right because I haven’t had any store bought brownies recently. Plus, the next time I made them they were also not sweet enough, as well as not being quite right because I had run out of baker’s chocolate and had to use cocoa powder and butter to substitute. So anyway, somehow it dawned on me what I had done and I realized that the brownies would probably be just fine with way less sugar. They are not quite sweet enough with 3/4 a cup of sugar, but I think that 1 cup or so might work. I will have to try and report on the results. All three recipes are from the Joy of Cooking. The brownie recipe I use is the Book club brownies.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday. Check it out for more great recipes and thoughts on food.


Monkey brains and other things

October 9, 2009

I have a recipe of sorts to post. It isn’t really a recipe, more of a meal idea, inspired by another meal idea. I read Cold Weather and Comfort Food at Miss Effie’s Diary. She called her meal Wild Rice Stuffed Squash. I took her idea and changed it a bit, making it more like Tom’s hamburger helper and calling it Monkey Brains. Tim called it “Monkey Brains,” I guess because it looks like eating monkey brains. So that was what we told the kids it was and they were intrigued, just not intrigued enough to try the stuffing in the squash today.

The Monkey Brains had the following ingredients: grass-fed ground beef, onion, garlic, red peppers, celery, zucchini, broccoli, and tomatoes, acorn squash, and wild rice. We also added basil, parsley, salt and pepper. All the vegetables and herbs are from our garden or the farmer’s market. The rice is from a local store called Sugar N’ Spice. Carol, the owner, sells bulk herbs, spices, flour, rice, baking goods, etc. The grass-fed beef is from a family cattle company that is about 30 miles from us, the same people who sold us our cows. Our freezer is full of grass-fed beef.

freezer full of grass fed beef

freezer full of grass-fed beef

So, like Miss Effie, I cooked the rice and the acorn squash while I made the stuffing. The stuffing is really the part that can vary widely, depending on what you have available. It would work with any ground meat, or even stew meat, I would think. She used a white sauce in her recipe and I used a tomato base. She used mushrooms and cranberries, too. Tom doesn’t like mushrooms and we didn’t have cranberries, so that was out. But, then I started thinking about ground beef and veggies and realized that what really sounded good was Tom’s hamburger helper dish. That’s why I called it more of a meal idea than a recipe. In fact, last night it worked out that the squash wasn’t done so we pretty much ate the stuffing, which wasn’t really like stuffing at all, and talked about how we could do something similar with a casserole.

By the way, I have to say that the celery from my garden has flavor. I mean serious flavor. Nothing I’ve ever had at the grocery store compares. I don’t know if it’s the variety I planted (not sure what variety it was as Scott the Farmer gave it to us) or the soil or just the taste of organic celery. I really don’t know, but I know that it has lots of flavor and it doesn’t take much to add flavor to a dish.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade. Go ahead and click to read more interesting posts about food!


Curried Butternut Squash soup

September 14, 2009

This last batch I made turned out pretty well. I did it in stages because I ran out of time and energy. The first step was to cook the celery, onions, and garlic. I may have used less celery than the recipe calls for, since I got it from my garden and it is not nearly as big as the stalks in the store. I think I added 3 or 4. Then I added the spices and cooked for a minute, then added the stock. At this point I think I let it simmer a bit and then turned it off. I let it cool then put it in the fridge. That was on Friday. I finished the soup on Sunday. I warmed up the onion and broth  mixture while I cut up the squash. Then I put in the squash and I just let it cook. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to how high the heat was or whether it simmered. I left it uncovered and just kept checking it, stirring it, and testing the squash. Anyway, it worked just fine and turned out yummy.

Curried Butternut Squash soup


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • garlic to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • cayenne to taste
  • 4 cups broth of your choice
  • 2 small or 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2 in. cubes (or so)

Toppings (optional):

  • Sour cream or yogurt, chives, cilantro, tomato


  1. Heat oil in large pan over the stove.
  2. Add onions and celery; Cook about 5 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add garlic and cook another minute.
  4. Add curry powder, cumin, and cayenne; Cook until fragrant or about 1 minute.
  5. Add stock, butternut squash, salt, and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.
  7. Let soup cool a bit, then puree (You can also do this while the soup is hot and do it in smaller batches if you would like).
  8. Serve with toppings of your choice.

I think it would be possible to make the base (the onions, celery, and garlic with the spices and stock) and then keep that around to add any kind of vegetable or beans, such as zucchini, lentils, or black beans. I think a curried zucchini soup would be yummy, though not as creamy as butternut squash. I might have to experiment a bit since I am a bit overrun with zucchini at the moment!

Chicken noodle soup

September 13, 2009

I’m going to attempt to make chicken noodle soup today. This presents two challenges for me: first, I have to compete with a cheapo version from the store that cheats with MSG. Second, I have to get the skin off the chicken and the chicken off the bones. I personally don’t think the store kind will compete with mine, but we will see what Aidan thinks.

We have chicken broth that Tom made from the bones of the last chicken we roasted. We have several whole chickens in our freezer. So far the only way we have cooked them is to roast them, which is super yummy. However, now I have to de-bone this chicken and I really don’t know how to do that. I’m not worried. I know I can figure it out and do it. The interesting thing to me is that many people, myself included, are used to buying skinless, boneless chicken at the store that we don’t know how to cook with chicken that is whole. I am going to figure it out, though. I do know exactly what to do with the skin – feed it to the cats – and bones – make more broth.

When we start processing our own chickens, I think we will leave some whole for roasting, but we will de-bone and skin the rest so that we don’t have to cook an entire chicken every time we want chicken. Anyway, I am in search of a recipe so that I can have a starting point. I find that The Joy of Cooking – 75th Anniversary Edition is a very good resource. This cookbook has detailed sections on vegetables and spices, along with all the recipes (including a kick-ass brownie recipe). For instance, it has a short section on tomatoes and how to skin them. It has a section on canning and probably has information about how to de-bone a chicken.

Tomatoes from our garden

Tomatoes from our garden

Another cookbook that keeps coming up is Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. If I can find this at the library, I will check it out and see if it is worth buying. I’m very tempted to just buy it, since I’ve seen it recommended in so many different places.

Anyway, so far today I have made pancakes and bacon, watched a dance show by Moira, listened to Aidan sing into a microphone, and wrestled with the kids. Now they are occupied with the guys so this is a good time to go finish the curried butternut squash soup, the tomato sauce, and to start the chicken noodle soup. I’ll try to write an update today about the various foods I made and maybe even post a recipe for the butternut squash soup.

Local food (and a few recipes)

May 24, 2009

I am buying more and more food locally. I have been buying Grama Sue’s eggs for several months. On Saturday, I met her in person since she was at the grocery store selling her eggs. I was pretty excited to meet her and she seemed pleased that I already had her eggs in my cart. I told her that I always buy her eggs if the store has them, but that unfortunately she would be losing a customer since I now have my own chickens. Lately, I’ve been able to buy more local food because my garden is producing food and the Farmer’s Markets have started. The Farmer’s Market in the small town near us, Colchester, started 3 weeks ago and the one in Macomb started on Thursday. I’ve been buying asparagus from Eli, who is Amish and has been at the Colchester Farmer’s Market every Saturday. I like buying vegetables from the Amish because I am quite sure they do not use any pesticides or herbicides. This is an assumption on my part, so I should probably ask to make sure.

Anyway, Friday night’s dinner was a quiche and a salad. I used Grama Sue’s eggs and some green onions from our garden for the quiche; The salad included leaf lettuce and radishes from our garden. The quiche recipe I use is a crustless broccoli and cheese quiche from Vegetarian Times. One of the cool things about quiche: you can substitute for the vegetables or the cheese. Last night I did not use the nutmeg or the mustard and I used some colby jack and cheddar cheeses instead of low-fat swiss. I often use mozzarella, but any cheese would do. It just depends on what you have on hand and what kind of cheese you like. I also didn’t have enough broccoli, so I added some asparagus I bought at the Farmer’s Market. Dinner was good because a) I actually cooked something for a change, b) it had fresh ingredients from our garden or that were bought locally, and c) the recipe is a good recipe.

Dessert was also good. I used this recipe for the rhubarb I bought on Thursday at the Farmer’s Market in Macomb. The recipe was a big hit; it didn’t last past the cleaning up from dinner. The recipe calls for 4 cups of rhubarb. I only had about 3 and a half cups, so I substituted with some strawberries (also from the Farmer’s Market). I am sure you could do 2 cups of strawberries and 2 cups of rhubarb if you wanted. It was tart, but also sweet. I think that if you add strawberries, you might want to reduce the sugar a bit. It just depends on how sweet you want it. I was using organic cane sugar, which seems to be a bit sweeter than regular sugar.

Saturday we hit two Farmer’s Markets so we picked up some asparagus, radishes, onions, tomatoes, ground beef, and some herbs to transplant in the garden. Dinner included local grass-fed, organic beef (though they are not certified because that costs money!), onion and tomato bought at the Farmer’s Market, and lettuce from my garden.

One thing I have learned about the Farmer’s Markets is that earlier is better. For example, let’s pretend you want to buy rhubarb. Well, you’d better get to the Farmer’s Market early because everyone else in town wants to buy rhubarb, too. Also, some people only bring a little bit of stuff and then they pack up and leave if they sell it all. So if you arrive towards the end of the market, you might miss out on some things. However, we did score a free hot dog because the beef people were leaving and didn’t want to take it home.

P. S. While searching for rhubarb recipes, I found this blog entry, which has recipes for dandelions, including a video on how to make dandelion fritters. I still have not tried dandelions (and I think it’s too late in the season at this point, also), but it seemed to go well with last week’s post.