Category Archives: Pork

Gluten-Free Holiday: Christmas and Hanukkah Favorites – Tamales

It’s week 4 of Gluten-Free Holiday and this week’s theme is Christmas and Hanukkah Favorites – specifically, entrees and side dishes. Hanukkah is already in full swing, and Christmas is just weeks away. Diane over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang is hosting this week, and is sharing this amazing recipe for chipolatas. Seriously, they make my mouth water just looking at them. And of course, in our Gluten-Free Holiday style, there are more amazing gluten-free cookbooks to win.

One copy of Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found The Food That Loves Me Back…And You Can Too by Shauna James Ahern.

And one copy of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, also by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern.

One copy of Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller,

And three e-book trios, each including one copy of Sweet Freedom, one copy of Desserts Without Compromise, and one copy of Anti-Candida Feast Ebook, all by Ricki Heller of Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

My submission for this week’s theme is something that I look forward to every holiday season – tamales. While I don’t always make my own, I have found that they’re not all that difficult to make. (They are time-consuming, however.) But it’s great fun, and you’ll be rewarded with a lovely, spicy, flavorful treat.

Many times, we will get together with my husband’s side of the family on Christmas Eve. Rather than a fancy, sit-down Christmas dinner, we instead enjoy a casual, but generous spread of various snack foods, ranging from the ever-famous cheese dip to cookies and cake. In the past few years, we’ve brought tamales to our celebration, and they’re always a huge hit. With a bit of salsa, bottled hot sauce, or even unadorned, they are the perfect way to ring in the season. I highly suggest you try to make tamales once – it’s a fun experience, and you’ll be rewarded with delicious treats and smiles from all.

Read my tamales recipe here. And don’t forget to visit The W.H.O.L.E. Gang and link up your favorite recipes for Christmas and Hanukkah entrees or side dishes, and enter for a chance to win some amazing cookbooks!

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork

Sausage-Stuffed Acorn Squash at Gluten-Free Homemaker

Today I am a guest blogger over at The Gluten-Free Homemaker for Squash Fest. Go on over here to check out my recipe for sausage-stuffed acorn squash. While you’re there, check out all of the other delicious squash recipes – guaranteed to make your mouth water!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Pork, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Daring Cooks: The World of Pierogi

This is another great example of why I love the Daring Cooks’ and Bakers’ Challenges. It’s all about taking yourself out of your box – making something you wouldn’t ordinarily make. Maybe this “something” seems too difficult. Maybe it seems as though it will take too long, or maybe it’s been on your list of “things to do”, but you haven’t gotten around to making it yet.

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

I never tried to make pierogies before this challenge. Not because of the reasons mentioned above. Honestly, I never even tried eating them before either. They didn’t sound unappetizing, of course, but they weren’t on the top of my list of things to try. I didn’t know what to expect with this challenge because of my lack of experience with pierogies, so I was a bit nervous. But after brainstorming on fillings (I chose to make sweet potato and rosemary, as I had a bunch of rosemary in my garden, and smoked pork shoulder and mashed potato, as I smoked a bunch of meat a few days prior), I figured I’d give them a try.

Little did I know how well they’d turn out. My husband raved about them. Raved. He exclaimed that he could imagine these could be served at all sorts of parties and could see them being a big hit with a crowd. I didn’t disagree – and the ones I made were gobbled up by the two of us that evening. I can see endless variations of fillings for these things, both sweet and savory. Needless to say, I underestimated pierogies. Now, I’m sold.

 

Sweet Potato-Rosemary Pierogi Filling (makes enough for 30+ pierogies)

2 c mashed, cooked sweet potato (I simply microwaved whole sweet potatoes until cooked, scooped out the insides, and mashed)

1/2 t fresh rosemary needles, chopped

1 T Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together mashed sweet potatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste. Fill pierogies with this filling. (Leftover filling makes a great side dish for another meal.)

 

Pork and Potato Pierogi Filling (makes enough for 30+ pierogies)

1 c mashed, cooked potato (I simply microwaved potatoes until cooked, scooped out the insides and mashed)

2 c finely chopped smoked pork shoulder (ham can be substituted)

1/2 t fresh sage leaves, chopped

1/2 t dry mustard

2 T Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

1 T nutritional yeast flakes (optional, but create a somewhat “cheesy” flavor)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients and season to taste. Fill pierogies with filling.

 

Gluten-Free Pierogies, adapted from What I Eat (makes about 18 small pierogies or 12 larger ones)

1/3 c tapioca starch

1/3 c sweet white rice flour

2 T potato starch

1/2 t sea salt

1 T xanthan gum

2 eggs

1 T grapeseed oil

Combine flours, salt, and xanthan gum in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl, and then whisk in oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until combined. You can then knead this into a ball.

Grab small portions of the dough at a time and roll out on parchment paper (I rolled it out on a Silpat) to 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 or 4 inch circle biscuit or cookie cutter, cut rounds from the dough. Repeat until all of the dough has been rolled out and cut. Place a bit of water in a small bowl, wet your fingertips, and run them around the outside of each circle. This is to help the dough seal. Place a bit less than a teaspoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and then fold in half and carefully seal the edges, either using the tines of a fork, a pierogi form, or your fingers. (I found my fingers to be the easiest.)

To cook pierogies, bring a pot full of salted water to a boil. Lower the pierogies into the boiling water with a slotted spoon and allow to boil for 10-15 minutes or until al dente. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve with desired sauce or melted butter, or allow to cool to room temperature for frying.

To fry: Bring 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (or other frying oil) to medium-high heat in a heavy skillet. Pat the pierogies dry and place in the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until browned. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Serve with melted butter. (I melted Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread and infused fresh sage leaves in the “butter”. While I don’t use that stuff every day, it tasted lovely and was dairy and soy-free!)

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork

Kids in the Kitchen: Sausage and Biscuits

When Matt mentioned that he wanted to make sausage biscuits this weekend, my heart smiled. As I’ve gravitated more towards whole, natural foods, I stopped enjoying those corn syrup-laden, processed breakfast sausages that are available in the stores. (I know, I know, I could make my own, and I probably will some day, but corners have to be cut somewhere, sometimes!) But since I discovered Truth Hill Farm and their natural hot breakfast sausage, with no corn syrup, nitrites, or MSG,  I’m in love with sausage once again. I was glad Matt chose this breakfast option!

We made the biscuit recipe I’ve posted previously, subbing Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix for the gluten-free flours and of course, omitting the chives. We also used some lovely raw, whole milk from Lucky Layla farms – I am so glad to have raw milk available to me! I wish it was more widely available (like most of the States, it is only legal to sell raw milk on the farm property), but I am fortunate that the farm is only a brief detour on my way home from the office. Over the years, I’ve become less and less of a milk drinker. It just didn’t taste all that good to me, and while I’m not lactose intolerant, it just never made me feel “good”. But this stuff? It’s like liquid gold – creamy, sweet, and satisfying – and it is nourishing. (If you’re interested in finding a source of raw milk near you, and also learning more about the benefits of raw milk, check out realmilk.com.)

Anyway, back to the sausage and biscuits. I did make one minor error – I did not reduce the baking powder to compensate for leavening already in the Pamela’s mix. Whoops. They expanded and spread a bit more than we wanted, so a sausage biscuit sandwich wasn’t attainable. No matter – they still tasted light and flaky, and we still enjoyed them just the same! (I do need to nail down something besides a drop biscuit for sandwich-type situations, though.)

Check out the recipe for the biscuits here. Serve with your favorite sausage, and wash it all down with a glass of milk.

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Filed under Baked goods, breakfast, Gluten-Free, Pork

Kids in the Kitchen: Cajun ‘Gator Tail and Dirty Rice

Yes, you read that right. ‘Gator tail. Brandan reaches for the stars when it comes to creative choices for dinner. I thought I had a source for ‘gator tail too – I saw a vendor at the Firewheel Four Seasons Farmers Market a few weeks ago selling all sorts of Gulf seafood, including alligator tail. However, when we arrived this morning, that vendor was nowhere to be found. Brandan and I made plans to come up with an alternative solution – we planned to visit a fish market and find some sort of seafood.

Later in the day, Brandan, my husband, and I visited Captain Dave’s Seafood Market in Plano and looked around. We had nearly decided on crab legs when lo and behold, my husband noticed that ‘gator tail was on their board. I inquired, and they had some in stock! We happily purchased it and hurried home to start our meal, which also included grilled corn and dirty rice.

Just for a bit of background, alligator tail, or ‘gator, is an exotic meat/seafood enjoyed around the Gulf coast of North America, in states such as Louisiana and Florida. Its flavor is mild (as that saying goes, it tastes kind of like chicken), and its texture is somewhat firmer and chewier than chicken or fish. It’s not something you’ll find an a regular grocery, although I’ve seen a few places where you can order it online. Before we cooked it tonight, I’d only eaten it in restaurants, and only deep-fried. (Way back in my pre-gluten-free days, of course) This was an adventure for all of us.

To keep with our Cajun theme, we opted for dirty rice. Dirty rice is a Cajun rice dish, somewhat similar to a pilaf, that traditionally has chicken livers or giblets cooked with it, giving it a dark or “dirty” appearance. While I love chicken livers, I didn’t have any on hand, so we opted to make a simpler version that still was packed with Cajun spices and flavor. I found some lovely pork sausage from Truth Hill Farm, a local farm with grass-fed beef, pork, dairy, and free range chickens laying healthy, farm-fresh eggs. It was a perfect ingredient for our rice.

When contemplating Cajun or Creole spices, who better to use as a reference than Emeril? It had been a long while since I made any of his Essence, so we took this opportunity to make some. It’s a great go-to spice mix, perfect for seasoning everything from chicken to seafood to gumbos or rice dishes. We used it for both our dirty rice and for the ‘gator – it was a great way to streamline the cooking process. When you’re cooking with a very energetic child, this is definitely a plus.  

The gator was simply seasoned with the Essence and grilled – much simpler than going through the process of frying, and Brandan and I both love to use the grill any opportunity we get. Since we had the grill going, we also wrapped some fresh corn on the cob in foil, seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and a pat of butter. With the dirty rice, this rounded out a great meal that everyone enjoyed. Only Matt wasn’t fond of the ‘gator tail – the rest of us thought it was pretty tasty. And the dirty rice was a winner with everyone – it might have to become something we make on a regular basis. (My only thought for improvement would be to swap out the white rice for brown, just because I love the texture of brown rice, and of course, it’s heartier and healthier.) Another adventure with Brandan in the kitchen was a success!

 

Dirty Rice 

1 c yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped

1 small bell pepper, coarsely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled

½ lb loose pork sausage

1 T Essence

2 c long-grain white rice

3 c chicken stock or water

2 bay leaves

 Place the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in a food processor and process until no large chunks remain. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, brown and crumble the pork sausage over medium heat. When browned, add the mixture from the food processor and sauté for another minute or two. Add the Essence and rice and stir. Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Remove bay leaves. Fluff, adjust seasonings to taste, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

Grilled Alligator Tail

 3 lbs alligator tail, cut into 3 oz pieces

1/4-1/2 c Essence

Season ‘gator tail pieces with Essence. Preheat grill to medium heat. Place ‘gator tail on oiled grates and grill 2-3 minutes per side, or until gator tail is firm and opaque.

 Serves 6.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork, Rice, Seafood

Daring Cooks: Pork Satay

This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was chosen by Cuppy of Cuppylicious. As a huge fan of Thai-inspired flavors, I was excited about this challenge. I’ve made satay before (using chicken thighs), but it was years ago. When this challenge was announced, I wondered to myself why it had been so long since satay made it on the menu. After all, marinated meat on a stick? Who can say no to that? (okay, well maybe vegetarians would, but Cuppy was generous enough to suggest tofu or veggie satay as an alternative.) Needless to say, we let our carnivorous nature take over on this occasion.

I opted to use a pork tenderloin for this dish. I don’t use pork nearly often enough. It’s relatively inexpensive, and the tenderloins are, well, tender, making for a quick weeknight meal option. In fact, I did just that – prepared the pork marinade one weeknight, and we enjoyed pork satay the following weeknight for dinner. It comes together fairly quickly. I did “cheat” and use the broiler instead of the grill. My excuse? It was about 20 degrees outside that evening and quite windy. For a Texan, that’s way too cold to stand out in front of the grill! The broiler did a mighty fine job, though, and we didn’t miss the grill one bit.

The verdict? Tasty enough for a party! Again, meat on a stick always goes over well, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a flavorful marinade and delightful dipping sauces! If I were to make this again, I might put slightly less cumin in my marinade (my ground cumin is pretty potent), but otherwise, it was wonderful! A big thanks to Cuppy for sharing this recipe – it’s definitely going to become a repeat in our household!

Pork Satay with Peanut and Pepper Dipping Sauce, adapted from 1000 Recipes by Martha Day

For the pork:

1/2 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 T ginger, chopped

2 T lemon juice

1 T gluten-free soy sauce

1 t ground coriander

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground turmeric

2 T vegetable oil

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into strips (about 1 inch wide, 4-5 inches long)

Combine first nine ingredients in food processor, and pulse until well-chopped and combined. Place marinade and pork tenderloin pieces in a large ziploc bag, tossing pork to ensure each piece is coated. Place in refrigerator and marinate overnight.

Soak wooden skewers for 30 minutes in water before using. Preheat grill or broiler. Place pork on skewers. Broil or grill until meat just begins to char, about 6-8 minutes. Flip and grill or broil other side until cooked through, another 6 minutes or so. Serve with dipping sauces.

For the peanut sauce:

3/4 c coconut milk

4 T peanut butter

1 T lemon juice

1 T gluten-free soy sauce

1/2 t fish sauce

1 t agave nectar

1/2 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground coriander

1/2 t crushed red pepper

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well. Place a small saucepan over low heat. Add coconut milk, peanut butter, and soy sauce mixture. Mix well, and warm for 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Serve warm with pork.

For the pepper sauce:

4 T gluten-free soy sauce

1 T lemon juice

1 t agave nectar

1/2 t crushed red pepper

Mix well. Serve chilled or at room temperature with pork.

Don’t forget! If you haven’t entered yet for a chance to win some Xagave nectar and the Where Delicious Meets Nutritious cookbook, there’s still time! Check out the giveaway here!

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork, Quick and Easy

Ham and Red Bean Soup

Growing up, I wasn’t fond of ham. I wasn’t a picky eater, but ham seemed so salty to me (So did bacon. Honestly, I wasn’t much of a pork eater back then). Now I understand that one ham is not necessarily like the other, and some can be quite delicious – not too salty, just a tad sweet, and full of that wonderful porkiness. This year, for Christmas dinner, I chose a spiral-sliced ham. It made Christmas dinner much easier to prepare, so I could focus on other dishes and relax. On purpose, I chose a ham that was twice as large as we needed to feed our small group, just so there would be plenty of leftovers. Leftovers for my parents and my brother to take home, leftovers for my husband to happily snack on (okay, I snacked a bit too!), and leftovers for soup. Because if there is a ham bone, there must be soup.

I opted to make this soup entirely out of what I had left over in my fridge and pantry. I had small African red beans, (Really, that’s what they’re called. I bought them at an African grocery, asked the lady at the counter if they were called something other than “African Red Beans” – as this was what was on the package. They looked like Adzuki beans, which I realize are not African – but she said “They’re red beans.” I’m going with it.) so I opted to use them instead of a more traditional Navy bean or split pea. With the addition of some leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, and herbs, we were in business. After softening the vegetables in some olive oil and allowing the soup to simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, the house filled with the aroma of savory, beany, hammy soup.

I felt that this was one of the best bean soups to grace my kitchen. The ham gave the broth a big meaty boost, and the beans were creamy and released a silky texture to the soup. It was deliciously rustic, perfect for this long stretch of cold days we’ve had lately. And like any good bean soup, it reheated beautifully for my lunch the next day. Am I venturing into the “too many soups” category yet? I hope not. I plan to crank out a few more before the winter is over.

This soup is hearty enough to serve as a main course. I paired it with gluten-free crackers, but you could always opt for gluten-free biscuits, or a nice winter salad.

 

Ham and Red Bean Soup

3 medium leeks, green tops and ends cut off and discarded, washed well and sliced thinly (reserve one green top)

3-4 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

1 t coriander seeds

1/2 t black peppercorns

1 t cumin seeds

1 T olive oil

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T tomato paste

1 lb small red beans, soaked overnight and rinsed

Bone leftover from ham (or you can substitute smoked ham hocks)

Water (approximately 10 cups)

3 c diced cooked ham

1 t ground chipotle chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Take the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and wrap the reserved green leek top around. Tie with butcher’s twine to secure. Place the coriander seeds, peppercorns, and cumin seeds in the middle of a coffee filter or small piece of cheesecloth, and tie into a bundle using butcher’s twine. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add tomato paste and saute for another minute. Add the beans, ham bone, the herb bundle and the spice bundle, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, partially covering. Allow to simmer for 1 hour.

Add the diced ham and chipotle chile powder and stir in. Allow to simmer until beans are soft and are just beginning to break open, another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste. Remove ham bone and pull any remaining ham from the bone and return to pot. Remove herb bundle and spice bundle, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

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Filed under Beans, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Pork, Soups