Frozen Vegetables Make-Over: Part 1

Several people have reached out to me and asked if I would share exactly how I make frozen vegetables better. So many people simply toss vegetables into a pot of water and boil them until they are hot. This leaves you with veggies that lack flavor and nutrients. I have found my child much prefer vegetables that are flavorful and not mushy. I started experimenting and thus far it has been a roaring success!

I am going to (hopefully) create several posts over  the next few weeks with my personal recipes. I will add pictures as I make each dish.

This post will include Roasted Balsamic Carrots, Sauteed Peas with Onions, and Curried California Medley.

 

Roasted Balsamic Carrots

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Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Baby Carrots
  • about 2-4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
  • about 2-4 T Balsamic Vinegar*
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Thyme
  • Salt (I use Pink Himalayan)*I never measure so this is an estimate

What Next?

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees
  2. Place parchment paper in roasting pan
  3. Add the carrots, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Mix to coat carrots.
  4. Add garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and salt. I do not measure, so add based on preference. Mix
  5. Place in oven for 20 minutes. Check. If the carrots are fork tender then they are done. If not, stir the carrots and add more oil if needed. Place back in oven and check about every 5-10 minutes.

Recipe Notes:

  1. I understand that it must be frustrating that I eye-ball my measurements. You want enough olive oil and balsamic vinegar to coat the carrots. As for the seasonings, this is is very much based on preference. For example, we love garlic so I tend to add a decent amount. I would guess I use about 2 tsp of the seasonings and 1 tsp of salt.
  2. I use parchment paper to prevent sticking and for easier clean up. Make sure you use parchment paper and not wax paper, the wax would melt. If you do not have parchment paper please oil your pan first to prevent sticking!

    Sauteed Peas with Onions

    sauteed-peas

    Ingredients:

    • 1 package of frozen peas
    • 1 onion (type doesn’t matter. I use what I have)
    • 2T olive oil
    • salt
    • pepper

    What Next?

    1. Get a large deep skillet.
    2. Add oil and heat on medium until hot.
    3. While the skillet is heating, chop onion.
    4. Add onion to the skillet and cook until the onions start to become translucent.
    5. Add peas. Stir occasionally until peas have cooked.
    6. Add salt and pepper to taste

    Curried California Medley

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 a large family-size bag of frozen California Medley
    • 1/2 C Butter or Butter Substitute (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
    • 3T Curry Powder (more or less depending on what you prefer)

    What Next?

    1. Steam the California Medley. If you do not have a steamer, place vegetables in a large pot, add enough water to cover the bottom (about .5-1″). Do NOT cover the veggies! Place a lid on the pot and cook on medium about 10 minutes. Be sure to check, you want these cooked but not over cooked!
    2. In a small pan melt butter. Add about curry powder and mix.
    3. When the veggies are done, drain, place back in pot (or serving dish), add butter-curry mixture and toss.~Thanks, Andrea!

Millet Congee

Millet Congee is one of those recipes I randomly found years ago when I had an over abundance of millet. It is a fairly inexpensive meal, hearty, and full of your favorite fall flavors. This is almost a porridge. The sweet potatoes aren’t mushy, but nice and soft, and the apples are crisp and add that extra texture needed to make this a wonderful eating experience. My SPD kid has no trouble eating these textures.
The taste is sweet and savory rolled together. I add a pinch of cayenne pepper and I find it really brings this dish full circle.
This healthy comfort food is vegetarian (with a meat option for you carnivores) and free of all the top 8 food allergens, including corn. This is one of my kids’ favorite meals. I double the recipe for my family of 7. We do end up with leftovers. Leftovers are usually my lunch the next day or 2 so this is a good thing.  There are a few notes at the end, make sure you read them! When I add the honey at the end I just drizzle-pour it in so I do not have an accurate measurement. Always taste your food and add more salt, honey, etc as needed!

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Ingredients for my doubled recipe. I only used 2 apples.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup hulled millet
  • 1-2 sweet potato peeled & diced (about 1 C)
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 cups broth, water, or a mixture of the 2
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (I use Pink Himalayan)
  • 1-2 apples diced (about 1 C)
  • honey to taste ( about 1/4 C)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

What Next?

  1. Rinse and drain the millet.
  2. Combine millet, liquid, sweet potato, ginger, cinnamon, and brown sugar, & salt in a deep pot.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stir often until the liquid is absorbed; about 1 hour.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Add apples & honey

Recipe Notes:

  1. If you choose you can add bacon crumbles tot he top. If you do this OMIT the salt! I add the salt to replace the bacon.
  2. My husband tossed a handful of raisins in bowl and really enjoyed it!
  3. If you would rather use your slow cooker, grease your cooker (trust me), reduce liquid by 1 cup, and cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
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    Millet Congee. 

    ~Andrea

Loaded Potato Soup (Slow Cooker Recipe)

I have had several friends ask me for my Loaded Potato Soup recipe, so here it is! This is amazing! One of the best dishes I have ever made, maybe even the best! It is thick, creamy, hearty, and full of flavor. I hope y’all enjoy it as much as we do!

Prep: about 15 minutes
Cook time: varies; 4-8 hours (refer to step #3)

A few disclaimers:

*I stink at taking the time to do accurate measurements unless I am baking. My estimates are fairly spot-on, but they are not 100%. I will give you my best estimates of what I do, but you may need to adjust accordingly.

*This is NOT dairy-free (some of you expect this). Since my little Elf did her food challenge we can keep milk in the house with no issue. She still does not actually eat dairy though, so she gets Lentil Soup (which she loves).

*You do not have to use the same potatoes I did. Russets would work just as well. I have russets for a different dish this week though so I opted to use Yellow Yukon. The flavor was amazing!

*All of my ingredients (aside from the butter, starch, & salt) were bought at Aldi. This is not a disclaimer, but I thought you would like to know where to buy items 😀

*This is free of gluten, egg, soy, nuts (peanut & tree nut), seafood. Contains milk. This is vegetarian if you do not top with bacon.

*Excuse the picture quality. I was not originally intending on posting this recipe, but people went nuts for it!

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Loaded Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 3-pound bag of Yellow Yukon potatoes; peeled & cubed (about 1/2”)
  • 3 stalks of celery; diced
  • 1 onion; diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic; minced (I used my garlic press)
  • (about) 1 ½ containers of Vegetable Broth (I use Aldi Simply Nature 32 oz carton)
  • ¼ C of butter (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
  • (about) 1 C of grated Parmesan Cheese
  • (about) 3/4 of a 12-oz bag of Sharp Shredded Cheese
  • about ½ tsp white ground pepper (you can use black, I just didn’t want black specks)
  • 1 tsp salt (I used Pink Himalayan)
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • (about) 3T tapioca starch (do not add right away!)

Toppings:

  • plain Greek yogurt (you can use sour cream, but I recommend the yogurt)
  • (about) 1 C scallions; chopped (I keep scallions in my freezer in a plastic container so I always have them on hand. Buy, chop, freeze!)
  • shredded cheese (the rest of the bag from above)
  • red pepper flakes
  • bacon (I splurged and bought a nitrate-free package of bacon at Aldi. I baked it and then chopped it**)
  • whatever else you may like on your loaded potato

What Next?

  1. Make sure potatoes, celery, onion, and garlic are peeled, chopped, diced, minced, etc. and put them in your slow cooker.
  2. Add broth, butter, Parmesan Cheese, shredded cheese, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. Stir.
  3. Set slow cooker to HIGH and cook for about 4 hours OR
    Set slow cooker to LOW for 8 hours OR
    Set slow cooker to HIGH for 1 hour and turn to LOW for 6 hours (this is what I did)
  4. About 20-30 minutes before serving, add the Tapioca Starch to thicken the broth. I used a tablespoon at a time and lightly sprinkled the starch over the broth. I stirred to combine after each tablespoon for a total of 3x.
  5. Let it sit and cook and thicken for a little while prepping the toppings.
    *baking, cool, & chop bacon
    *chop scallions or pull them from freezer and place in a bowl
    *etc.
  6. Take your immersion blender (seriously, y’all need this kitchen staple. If you do not have one then use a potato masher, but it will be more work) and blend soup. I opted to leave it a bit chunky. I blended and stirred and checked and blended some more until it was the consistency I wanted (small chunks). I didn’t want super smooth and I didn’t wanted big chunks.
  7. Serve! Add some scallions, grated cheese, bacon pieces, and a dollop of Greek yogurt to the top and you have a beautiful dish!

**Baking bacon:
Put foil on baking pan (makes clean up easier), lay bacon on it, bake at 350 until crispy (about 20-30 minutes), turn the pan 180 halfway through baking time. Voila!

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Bon appetit!
~Andrea

Chicken with Black Beans, Tomato, and Spinach including Bonus Fajitas Seasoning Recipes

My kids can be seriously amazing for my self-esteem. At the same time they can be a bit too blunt. After trying yet another “mom creation” I got “There isn’t anything you have ever made I haven’t liked!”
Aw! Thanks guys!
“Wait, don’t forget about that one recipe. That one was gross.”
Then they go on to discuss said gross recipe until I have to remind them 99% of the time I succeed. Hahaha. It is all well meaning and I love that they are honest.

That all said here is what we ate last night. I very literally opened my cabinets and thought “Hm….I think I will try this” and proceeded to pull things out.
I am sharing this because it was wonderfully simple and everyone liked it. I was able to make it ahead and so the boys just popped it in the oven for me while I ran to pick Mark up from work. Make ahead meals are vital to us since we have swim team 5 nights a week and we are never home before 7:30. Some nights it is even later. OK, enough chatter, here you go!

Baked Chicken with Black Beans, Tomato, and Spinach (served 7)

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts cut into tender-sized pieces
Fajita seasoning**
1 can diced tomato (use fresh if you have it, but I had canned at this time)
2 cans black beans (don’t forget to rinse these!)
2 packages fresh baby spinach
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Sea salt and pepper

  1. Place chicken in a baking dish and coat pieces with fajita seasoning. Add just a bit of water (1/2 cup at most). Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until done.
  2. Put tomato, black beans, and spinach into a large skillet, cover. Cook on medium until spinach is wilted. (I literally covered and walked away as it cooked. I only stirred once).
  3. When the bean mixture is done add salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
  4. Place the bean mixture into a clean baking dish and add the cooked chicken to the top. Cover and place in fridge for later.
    OR
    Place bean mixture in a serving dish and add cooked chicken. Enjoy!
  5. When you are ready to re-heat the dish, place in a cold oven (this prevents the glass dish from cracking), turn oven to 350 degrees and heat for about 20 minutes or until hot.

    Chicken with Black Beans,  Tomato, and Spinach

    Chicken with Black Beans, Tomato, and Spinach

I served this with brown rice and grits (for Elf who is allergic to rice). I used 2 cups of dry rice for our family of 7. This meal was just the right size. There was enough for everyone. There were not leftovers, but we do not like left overs so this is perfect for us.

**I make my own fajita seasoning. It is so good. I store it in a small mason jar. Here is the recipe:

  • 2 ½ Tbs. Paprika
  • 2 Tbs. Pink Himalayan Salt
  • 2 Tbs. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Pepper
  • 1 Tbs. Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Cayenne
  • 1 Tbs. Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbs. Dried Thyme
  • 1 Tbs. Cumin

    *I imagine you could make this vegetarian with tofu or some other substitute. If you do so please let me know how it turned out! We cannot do tofu (Elf is allergic), but I have friends who can and do and this would be helpful knowledge.

    ~Andrea

Refried Bean Casserole

I have way too many dried pinto beans; several jars full. I have never cooked with pinto beans. I have never even bought canned refried beans before. My only encounter with this food is at restaurants.

As the end of our budgeted month was coming to an end I decided we needed  to use what we had and pretend there was no money at all to buy any food. Since we have actually been in this position not too long ago it was not very hard to convince everyone, even my husband, that we were down and out.

He got a little perturbed at me a few days later when he realized I did in fact have more cash than I had let on. He couldn’t decided if he was amazed at my frugality or annoyed that I made everyone “suffer” because I wouldn’t cave to cravings and made them eat what we had.

Anyway, this is how I ended up in front of the computer trying to figure out what the heck to do with pinto beans. Apparently there isn’t much other than refriend beans or soup. Hmph. People are so unimaginative. We are all sick of soup since we have soup about 3-4 times a week since it is a cheap, healthy, and filling meal for a large family. I was determined I was making something different and good.

I did decided that I needed to play it slightly safe for our first meal. Remember I have never worked with pinto beans before. I also acknowledged that making a new meal can be as easy as taking a tried and true dish and just adjusting it and taking it up a notch.

I made homemade refried beans for the first time ever, knowing that I was going to make a delicious meal out of it. I was determined. I found a recipe online and decided it was my best bet, although I did change it slightly. I added our leftover peppers and onions from the previous night’s meal; fajitas. I also used coconut sugar instead of brown sugar. I use coconut sugar as a brown sugar replacement because it is healthier and full of flavor. Other than those small changes this recipe was a win. This girl perfected refried beans and I am not going to mess with perfection.

refried beans

I used my stick blender on the beans, but I was careful as I wanted a chunkier bean since I was making a casserole. If I was making dip or burritos I would have made it smoother.

refried beans 2

A good recipe does not need to be complicated in order for it to be amazing. I chopped a tomato and added a jar of salsa to the refried beans. Boom. That is all. The refriend beans already had some amazing flavor and I didn’t want to lose that by adding to much “stuff.”
I used a mild salsa since Princess claims she hates spicy foods. It was still really good because the refried beans have red pepper flakes in them.

I put the mixture into a casserole dish and added cheese. I made a small casserole for Elf that was cheese-less as she has a dairy allergy.

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I can assure you that the cheese-less casserole was just as tasty as the one with cheese. When I took it out of the oven I served it on Romaine lettuce that I had sliced up and warm tortillas that were leftover from the fajitas. I cut our tortillas into triangles and used them like a dinner roll. We didn’t put the casserole on the tortillas.  I used what we had and it was warm, good, and filling. Everyone enthusiastically agreed this was a “keeper” recipe. We ended up with leftovers; enough for TWO lunches!

casserole

Refried Bean Casserole:
One batch of homemade refried beans
One tomato; diced
One jar of salsa
Shredded cheese (optional or use a dairy-free alternative)
Lettuce
Tortillas (homemade is really best)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Mix the refried beans, tomato, and salsa. Put in a casserole dish and add the cheese. I did “grease” the casserole dishes with coconut oil. Partly for flavor and partly because I had no clue if this would stick to the pan.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes

4. Serve on shredded lettuce with warm tortilla.

I am now determined to create amazing pinto bean recipes and give new life to this under-appreciated bean.

~Andrea

Old-Fashioned Dairy-Free Butter Mints

I am not a huge candy person. I rarely eat it or buy it for my kids. I much prefer ice cream. Candy, to me, is more of a treat meant for holidays.
Due to the fact we have food restrictions I usually make our candy. There is an online shop I can buy some candy at, but it adds up fast. Besides, there is a joy in making treats that are special for those you love.

I have a few tried and true recipes. For example, every Christmas I make pomegranate clusters (recipe found here). This is a favorite and I only make it for Christmas in order to keep it special.

This year I really wanted to try something new. I found a recipe for butter mints and I wondered if I could make it safe for my kids. I managed to successfully change the recipe! Yay! So without further ado here is my recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Old-Fashioned Dairy-Free Butter Mints

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1 1/4 cup butter substitute (I use Earth Balance Soy-Free Buttery Spread)
  2. 3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar plus 1/4 cup+, if needed**
  3. 1/3 cup Cream of Coconut (this is NOT coconut milk! Make sure you are getting cream of coconut)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract*
  5. food coloring, optional (I use natural food coloring)

    **Due to the fact that store bought confectioner’s sugar has corn in it I make my own. All you have to do is put sugar, 1 cup at a time or 2 if you have a high-powered one like Vitamix, in a blender or food processor and make it into powder. Some people will tell you to add a starch but I do not feel it is necessary unless you want to make enough to keep on your pantry shelf. If that is the case here is a good recipe for you.

DIRECTIONS:

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth; about 1 minute-ish on medium-high.  Add 3 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, cream of coconut, and peppermint. Beat on medium-low speed until a dough forms. If the dough seems wet add additional confectioners’ sugar until dough combines; being careful not to add too much. The dough will be crumbly but will come together when squeezed into a ball.

Taste the batter. If needed, add additional mint extract.*Be very, VERY careful how much mint you add; you cannot undo this!!*

This is what the dough looks like pre-color.

This is what the dough looks like pre-color.

If you want multiple colors remove dough from the mixer and separate into smaller balls. I opted for red and green (Christmas colors). Add the food coloring (I started with 8 drops) of your choice to the ball and mix on low speed until the color is well blended. Add more color as needed to achieve the desired look.

Red and Green mints for Christmas! Yes, I realize the red is more pink than red, but I use natural food colors and I think this is more retro looking; very cool.

Red and Green mints for Christmas! Yes, I realize the red is more pink than red, but I use natural food colors and I think this is more retro looking; very cool.

Wash the mixing bowl and the paddle in between each color change and repeat until all the balls are colored. Make sure these are completely dry or they will mess up your dough consistency!

Place a golf ball sized amount of dough in your hands and roll dough into long, thin ropes. I found it easiest to roll all of the dough of one color and place each rope next to each other on the counter. I then used a pizza cutter and cut through all the ropes, creating bite sized pieces. I did have to add a bit of powered sugar to my counters as my house was a bit warm and the dough was getting slightly sticky, but be careful not to add too much!

I cut the mints about 1-1.5 cm long.

I cut the mints about 1-1.5 cm long.

Store mints in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They they will keep for several weeks.

These mints are seriously good. I had to cut my children off or they would have just sat and ate them all! I think 4 at a time is more than enough. I am guessing we got about 200 mints out of this batch.

These mints are seriously good. I had to cut my children off or they would have just sat and ate them all! I think 4 at a time is more than enough. I am guessing we got about 200 mints out of this batch.

*Please note that mint extracts are far more intensely flavored and potent than vanilla extract; You will NOT use a 1:1 ratio! It is more like 1/8 teaspoon of mint extract to 1 teaspoon of vanilla. It is best to add very little and add more as needed since you cannot undo the flavor.
There are different kinds of mint extracts available. You will find mint, peppermint, spearmint, etc.  I used what I had on hand; Watkins Pure Peppermint Extract. Next time I will use Frontier Mint, which has a more spearmint smell to it. Use what sounds, smells, tastes best for you.
I do think I will try other extracts for different holidays. I am thinking that for Easter I will try lemon or orange. I imagine cinnamon, rum, coffee, etc could also work. If you try any of these let me know how they turn out!

If you want to make the dough and walk away for a bit you can store it in the fridge. Wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container until you are ready to roll it out.

Enjoy!
~Andrea

Simple Egg-Free (and soy-free) Meatballs

One of my simplest recipes is meatballs. Most call for eggs, but we can’t do eggs. I have tried a few variations but they all fell apart. This recipe sticks together and tastes great!
Make it even better by grinding your own meat! Mmmmm!

1 pound of ground beef (I suppose turkey or even chicken would work also)
1 small onion (about 3/4 cup), diced
fresh garlic, minced I use 4-5 cloves because we love garlic. You can use less.
**I use this garlic press so I do not have to peel or chop the garlic.
2 tablespoons coconut amnio
1 flax egg **prepare this first and set aside to thicken**
(1 tablespoon ground flax, 3 tablespoons warm water; whisk and set aside)

salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste.

mix with hands and roll into balls. The amount you get depends on the size of meatballs you make.

Pop into the oven at 350 degrees F and bake for 25 minutes.

Serve however you like. We use them in sandwiches, with pasta, plain. I bet they would work in soup also.
Enjoy!

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Gluten-Free Scone Recipe

I have been wanting a good scone recipe but it seems all my trials have failed. This week I am packing so I am cleaning out the fridge and freezer. I had 2 bags of fresh cranberries I had frozen. I desperately wanted to use them so I decided to try one last time to make scones. I think I nailed it as best I can considering the restrictions we have.This was a simple recipe and fairly quick to make; maybe 10 minutes at most. The kids L-O-V-E-D them! That means I get to share my recipe with you!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Corn-Free, Soy-Free Orange Cranberry Scone Recipe

  • 2 cups GF baking flour (recipe at the bottom)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder (make sure you are using a corn-free one if that is one of your restrictions!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I use this because both girls can eat it but I prefer this, although Princess can’t have it)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (add about 1/2 first and rest only if needed. You do NOT want this too moist!)
  • half a bag of fresh cranberries (or less if you want and aren’t trying to get rid of food)

Blend together dry ingredients.
Cut in butter until it is crumbled.
Add in 1/2 cup orange juice, adding more slowly if needed.
A soft dough should form.
At this point you can follow a typical scone recipe and do this: Turn dough out on a floured board and knead for one minute. Pat into a circle on cookie sheet and cut into wedges.

I didn’t do that. I did this: Add cranberries and hand stir them in.
Plop dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

I made mine slightly bigger so I got 6. You can make them smaller though.

Bake at 425F for 10-15 minutes (until brown).
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While cooking I made a glaze. I used confectioner’s sugar and orange juice. Be careful not to add too much liquid!

Once I take them out I cool them about 5 minutes and add the glaze and eat them hot. I haven’t stored them so I have no clue how well they save.

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Gluten-Free Baking Flour Recipe
(I made this up based off of other recipes I had seen. Trial and error; this works for us)

  • 2 3/4 cups garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 2 1/4 cups arrowroot starch
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca starch

Blend well and store in an air tight container. I keep mine in the fridge. Make sure you stir/shake before each use.

Homemade “Soy” Sauce

We can’t eat soy. Elf is allergic to it. The concept of Chinese take-out is a bit foreign (no pun intended) to my kids. For some reason I find that sad. I fondly remember sitting around the table as a family and digging into those little white containers and eating that yummy goodness. I wanted my kids to have a similar memory. I knew it wouldn’t be the same, but it didn’t mean it couldn’t be special. So my husband and I started compiling homemade Chinese food recipes. The big problem is almost all the recipes call for soy sauce. What is a girl to do???
Well this girl creates a “soy” sauce recipe!

I have three versions. I use each one for different recipes because, although they each have a very similar taste, there is a slight difference and I like that I can make recipes have different undertone flavors. You will notice they are very similar and the cooking and storage instructions are the same.

“Soy” Sauce Recipe #1
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar (I use this brand)
1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (you could use regular but I much prefer the blackstrap molasses in this recipe)
pinch of white pepper, garlic powder and ground ginger (I use fresh garlic and fresh ginger, finely minced.I do not use a whole clove!)
salt of choice (I use sea salt) to taste

Add all of the ingredients, minus the salt, to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it at the gentle simmer until it reduces to about 2 cups. season with salt to desired preference. This will last 10 days in the refrigerator.

“Soy” Sauce Recipe #2 (Vegan)

1/2 cup tart cherry juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar (refer to above link to see which one I prefer)
1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (I highly recommend sticking with this type for this recipe. It tastes best)
pinch of white pepper, garlic powder and ground ginger ( I have not used fresh garlic and ginger in this recipe, but I will next time I make it)
salt of choice to taste

Add all of the ingredients, minus the salt, to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it at the gentle simmer until it reduces to about 2 cups. season with salt to desired preference. This will last 10 days in the refrigerator.

“Soy” Sauce Recipe #3 
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (note this uses a different vinegar than the above 2!)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar (I use this brand)
1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (you could use regular but I much prefer the blackstrap molasses in this recipe)
pinch of white pepper, garlic powder and ground ginger (I use fresh garlic and fresh ginger, finely minced.I do not use a whole clove!)
salt of choice (I use sea salt) to taste

Add all of the ingredients, minus the salt, to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it at the gentle simmer until it reduces to about 2 cups. season with salt to desired preference. This will last 10 days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!
~Andrea

South Carolina BBQ Sauce

Sauces, marinades, and dressings of any kind are hard to buy for my family. Almost all have soy and/or corn in them. Whether oil or syrup, soy and corn are in practically all pre-packaged items! To make matters worse if they aren’t organic or GMO-Free certified then they are most definitely GMO; something we try to avoid as much as possible. The brands that omit these items tend to be quite expensive and I just cannot justify the cost. As a result I have become quite skillful at creating tasty and affordable substitutes.

This past week we had chicken…again. Chicken is fairly affordable right now so that is what my carnivorous minions get. I try to mix it up so we aren’t eating the same recipes week in and week out. They love BBQ but have never tried South Carolina BBQ. For those who don’t know this is NOT a tomato based BBQ sauce. It definitely falls under the “new and different” category.

I did realize *after* this recipe was made that the butter substitute we use has corn-derived items in it. Darn it. That is what I get for not re-reading the label and just assuming it was still safe for all kids. The revelation of Princess’ corn allergy is fairly new to us so I am still learning. I found this recipe online for a vegan butter that is corn and soy free. I think I will try it out.

I served up the South Carolina BBQ Chicken to my kids and much to their own surprise they loved it! They gave me a hard time about it and I had to pull out the adage “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” Bug, being the elder and the peacekeeper tried to smooth it over by saying “Well, at least it looks good.” All had seconds. Ha! Mark says it is a keeper so I decided that means I need to share the recipe.

This makes enough for 2 batches of chicken for my family. That is about 2.5 pounds of chicken total. If you are a smaller family this will stretch for more meals. It is better if you make it in advance and marinate the meat for a few hours.

Ingredients:
1 C mustard of choice (this time around I used Dijon because that is what I had. I plan to use honey mustard next time)
1 C apple cider vinegar (I highly recommend Braggs. It is superior in flavor and worth it)
1/3 C light brown sugar (I recommend using coconut sugar. It is healthier and low on the glycemic index making it safe for diabetics)
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (I used 3/4 tsp because we like spice in this house)
1 T unsalted butter (I used a dairy-free, soy-free butter substitute)

Directions:
1. Whisk together all of the ingredients, except the butter, in a sauce pan. Bring it to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low.

2. Add the butter and turn off the heat. Allow the sauce to stand and thicken.

3. If you aren’t going to use the sauce right away let it reach room temperature before transferring it to a container with a tight lid. Refrigerate. This will keep for 1 week.

South Carolina BBQ Sauce

South Carolina BBQ Sauce

This recipe was fast and easy to make. The prep was maybe 5 minutes tops and the cooking time was about 10 minutes because you have to let it stand.
Try it and let me know what you think!