Tag Archives: gluten-free easy recipes

Daring Cooks: Nut Butters (Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce)

This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was one I really could embrace – making and cooking with nut butters! The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

I’ve made a nut butter once or twice before, but before this challenge, I never made much effort to make it a regular part of my routine. After this challenge, I am a changed woman. I was so happy with my nut butters (I made almond butter and peanut butter) that I not only made the required recipe for the challenge, but I also made cookies and even ice cream – both recipes I will share soon. Our daughter Brittany even made a special request for more peanut butter, saying that it was better than any of the store brands. Anytime the kids request homemade food over store-bought, that’s one for the “win” column!

I started with almond butter so that I could make one of the required recipes for the challenge – Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce. Instead of simply roasting almonds for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven (as was suggested), I instead soaked the almonds overnight in a brine and then roasted in a 175 degree oven for nearly 24 hours. (This is the method used in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for crispy nuts. The soaking is supposed to make the nuts easier to digest. I found that this roasting method made some of the most flavorful nuts I’ve ever had.) 

To make nut butter, regardless of the type of nut, the process is essentially the same. First, pour the nuts into a bowl of a food processor. Grind the nuts until they form a paste or a butter. At first it will turn powdery or grainy. Keep processing, and it will eventually form a ball and start to “clump” to one side of the bowl. Then, as you continue processing, the nuts will finally start to release oils, and it will begin to really look like nut butter. (The total time required depends on the fat content of the nut you’re using. You have to be patient – stopping early will only result in grainy, not-quite-nut-butter.) If you’re using a “drier” nut, once it begins to turn into nut butter, you can thin it with a bit of neutral oil or an oil from the same type of nut (for example, peanut oil for peanut butter, almond oil for almond butter, etc. ). I used a bit of pecan oil in my nut butter, since I had it on hand. Use some restraint in adding oil though – you don’t want to end up with too much oil! Add a tiny bit at a time. Once this has been incorporated, then you can salt, if desired, and/or sweeten as desired, using a bit of sugar, honey, or agave nectar (what I used).

That’s it – you have nut butter! Of course, this would probably store best in the refrigerator and will likely need stirring before use. If you’re going to use it immediately for a recipe, then of course – get right to it!

This chicken recipe was delicious – something my husband and I both loved (and went back for seconds!). I followed the recipe pretty closely, only substituting olive oil for the butter, and using homemade cashew milk (I found a great recipe at Elana’s Pantry) instead of the milk. The sauce was so creamy, comforting, and satisfying. This will definitely be a repeat dish for us. I also loved that it was something I could make on a weeknight.

I’m so thankful for this challenge – I learned that it’s not hard at all to make nut butters. No more store-bought nut butters for us!

Chicken with Curried Almond Sauce, adapted from Food Network

Recipe notes: Substitute the protein of your choice for the chicken. This is a smooth sauce, so the onion is removed before serving. If you prefer, dice the onion and leave it in the sauce or substitute a bit of onion powder.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
4 (6 oz / 170 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
Salt to taste

Spice Blend:
1.5 tablespoons (20 ml) garam masala seasoning
1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) black pepper

Sauce:
4 tablespoons (60 ml) butter (I used olive oil)
1 large onion, cut in half pole to pole
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce/425 g) can tomato sauce
⅓ cup (80 ml) almond butter
⅓ cup (80 ml) milk (I used cashew milk)
½ to ¾ cup (120 to 180 ml) chicken broth or water, more as needed
1 cup (240 ml) frozen peas (optional)

Hot basmati rice for serving (I served with short-grain brown rice)
Chopped parsley (optional garnish)
Sliced almonds (optional garnish)

Directions:

  1. Cook the chicken. If desired, pound chicken to ¼ inch (6 mm) thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Dice chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside on clean plate and keep warm.
  2. Prepare spice blend. Stir garam masala, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter (or add the oil) in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for several minutes to infuse the butter with onion flavor. Keep the heat low to avoid burning the butter; a little color is fine. Add the spice blend and garlic and cook for 1 minute or till fragrant, stirring constantly. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Whisk in almond butter and milk (or cashew milk) until thoroughly combined with tomato sauce. The almond butter is thick so it takes a while to make a smooth sauce. Return to simmer. Add broth (or water) to sauce to reach desired consistency; return to simmer. Add more broth (or water) as needed to thin sauce as desired.
  4. Remove onion from sauce and discard. Stir frozen peas (if using) into sauce. Transfer sliced chicken to sauce. Simmer gently for a few minutes until peas and chicken are heated through.
  5. Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and/or sliced almonds if desired.

21 Comments

Filed under Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy

My First Blogiversary and Surprise #7

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Tasty Eats At Home turns 1 year old today! I cannot believe how much my blog has changed in the past year. When I decided to start this blog in 2008, it was a rather impulsive decision. I was rapidly becoming passionate about food and cooking at the time, reading anything and everything “food-related” that I could. I recently had become aware of Elise’s blog at Simply Recipes (the only food blog I was aware of at the time), and was impressed by her vast collection of recipes, mostly from her family. I thought to myself “What a great idea. I could share my recipes with my family and friends!” And with that, Tasty Eats At Home was born. Little did I know of the vast food blogging community that existed!

Since Tasty Eats At Home’s birth, I have created 84 posts (this will be #85). But more than mere numbers, these posts represent a lot of things to me. I debated a few weeks ago on whether or not to keep all of my posts. Some of the earliest recipes I am no longer terribly fond of, and some are without photos. Of those early posts that do have photos, they are not exceptional by any stretch. But after some consideration, (and some tweeting about it on Twitter!) I have decided to keep them all. Each post represents a moment in my life, and together, they represent the growth in my cooking abilities, my photography, and most of all, my writing. As frustrated as I can be at times when the photography just won’t work for me, or the right words just won’t come, I can look back and realize that Tasty Eats At Home is in a continual state of growth, and for that, I am proud.

Of course, Tasty Eats At Home would not be what it is, if it weren’t for the amazing support I have received. My husband constantly brags about Tasty Eats At Home to everyone he encounters, and that warms my heart. He is also my #1 critic of the dishes I prepare, helping me to grow and stay focused. My family is more than happy to help eat the dishes whenever they can as well, and critique accordingly! And to all of my fellow food bloggers – I can’t thank you enough for all the advice, recipes, and ideas we’ve shared!

But lest you all think I’ve gotten a big head, I wanted to share with you a recipe that in my mind and heart, brings everything back down to earth and close to home. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you: Surprise #7.

What is Surprise #7?

From what I can recall, there was a time when I was a child when we didn’t have much. My parents had to figure out how to feed three kids on a very limited budget. In addition, there were times my Mom was unavailable to make dinner, so the responsibility fell to my Dad. Dad was trying out various creations, only to have several of them fail to impress the kids. Determined, he created yet another budget-friendly dish: a concoction of rice, beans, ground beef, tomatoes and spices. This dish unanimously passed the “kid approval” test. We pondered what to call it…and after settling on “Surprise #7”, it was written down, and appeared on the menu on a regular basis. (Why Surprise #7? I don’t really know. I don’t recall Surprises #1-6…maybe they were the bad ones?)

Last night, I re-created this dish for our family. It is a very adaptable recipe. My version added frozen corn, and I used tomato puree rather than Dad’s choice of chopped tomatoes (I have some picky eaters in my household that will not eat tomato chunks). I also substituted brown rice for Dad’s white rice. It’s a tasty, no-frills, comforting dish that is quite kid-friendly, and with a few pantry staples on hand, can be thrown together in very little time. Perfect for feeding a hungry family on a budget – no wonder Dad created it!

Sometimes, re-visiting a dish from your childhood can invoke a lot of thoughts and feelings. Surprise #7 caused me to really think about Tasty Eats At Home and what cooking and food means to me, and so many of us. Cooking is an art, an expression, if you will. We all need food to nourish our bodies, but cooking allows food to become more than just a requirement – it morphs into an enjoyable, pleasureable experience. So we share the joy of cooking with others, with our friends, with our families, and it becomes a form of togetherness, and a way of connecting with one another. Creating Tasty Eats At Home has given me a way to more deeply connect with the joy that cooking brings to me and my family.

 Surprise #7 (adapted from my Dad)

1 T olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb lean ground beef

14-oz can tomato puree (I used El Pato Tomato Sauce – it’s a tomato sauce with chiles, garlic and onion)

2 T chili powder

1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained

1 c frozen corn

2 T pickle juice

3 c steamed brown rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onions, and saute for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add ground beef, breaking into small crumbles with your spoon or spatula, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add tomato sauce and chili powder, and stir. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, and add beans and corn. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes more or until everything is hot and your corn is cooked through. Add pickle juice and rice, and stir to incorporate. Salt and pepper to your liking. Optional: serve with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 5-6, or maybe only 4 if you have hungry teenage boys.

19 Comments

Filed under Beef, Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Rice

Kids in the Kitchen: Shrimp Scampi

P1010011Yesterday, Brittany began the second round of “Kids in the Kitchen”. This past week, she did not know what she wanted to prepare for her night in the kitchen. In an effort to help her generate ideas, I provided a few cookbooks. I was busy, so I wasn’t going through them with her at first. After a few minutes, she informed me she wanted to make soup…and showed me a berry soup recipe. Wonderful and tasty, I’m sure, but I had to explain to her that berry soup doesn’t really work as a dinner. (of course, I have a feeling that she and I would be happy with that for a light dinner, but we’re talking about feeding some hungry teenage boys here as well!) So she instead found herself in the seafood section, and found a shrimp scampi recipe. It’d be her second shrimp dish, but you’ll hear no complaints from me! She originally only wanted to serve bread with it. Knowing that again, certain boys in the house would be able to put away a pound of shrimp a piece (if I let them), causing this to become a high-priced meal, I encouraged her to come up with another side dish or two to round out the meal. (Besides, still working with the gluten-free diet, I would have otherwise ended up with only shrimp for dinner. Hmm.) We ended up with steamed corn on the cob. I suggested a bit of brown rice as well. So there wasn’t really a vegetable in this meal…we’ll work on that more in future rounds.

The shrimp scampi recipe is based on a recipe from Cooking Light. Personally, I have prepared shrimp scampi sans recipe many, many times, but we opted to rely on this recipe as a guideline, for purposes of instruction and ease. My only modification was to add butter (which makes it less “light”, I realize that…) It turned out quite well, and was super-speedy to prepare. (Shrimp is a fast-cooking option for dinner, which happens to make it great for weeknights as well.) Even though we doubled the recipe, Brittany had minimal prep work to do, as the only knife work needed was chopping a bit of garlic and parsley. (I peeled and deveined the shrimp while she was attending a birthday party…is that cheating?) Within a matter of minutes, dinner was ready to eat. And eat we did! I found pretty sizeable shrimp on sale, so these babies were plump, buttery, with just the right amount of garlic and that little burst of lemon. One of my favorite ways to enjoy shrimp. Brittany and I agreed we even liked this dish better than kabobs.

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Shrimp Scampi, adapted from Cooking Light Complete Cookbook

1 T olive oil

1 T butter

1 1/2 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 c dry white wine

1/2 t kosher salt

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

1/4 c chopped fres flat-leaf parsley

1 T fresh lemon juice

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and butter, swirling butter until it melts. Add shrimp in a single layer, saute for about a minute. Add garlic, and flip shrimp, saute for another minute. Stir in wine, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cook for 30 seconds. Add parsley and lemon juice, and toss well to coat. Cook 1 minute or until shrimp are cooked through.

Serves 4.

8 Comments

Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Seafood