Grilled Salmon & Vegetable Quinoa

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Yes, I know. Quinoa is considered a grain.

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The internet says this, “Quinoa, a species of goosefoot, is a grain crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, as it is not a member of the true grass family.”  

So irritating when they fold your salmon at the store! It tears up the middle of what would have been a perfectly gorgeous filet.

So irritating when they fold your salmon at the store! It tears up the middle of what would have been a perfectly gorgeous filet.

After reading this, I have no bloody idea what quinoa is. (Read in English accent, it will make you laugh.)

Grain, seed, grass, pseudocereal?

Heat your grill to 350 degrees and season salmon with olive oil, garlic powder, dried dill, sea salt, and pepper.

Heat your grill to 350 degrees and season salmon with olive oil, garlic powder, dried dill, sea salt, and pepper. I do mine on foil because I don’t like to have a fishy grill.

Who knows.

All I know is that it made a very tasty bed to lay my salmon on, and I’m thankful for that.

Cook Quinoa according to directions. Typically, one cup of Quinoa to two cups of water or broth.

Cook Quinoa according to directions. Typically, one cup of Quinoa to two cups of water or broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until the liquid has been soaked up.

After being off of grains for a several weeks now, I’m not entirely convinced that grains were leading to more joint issues for me. I’ve eaten rice twice and had one adverse reaction. Both times were at two different restaurants. The first time was a small Asian restaurant near us that “swears” the dishes I order are gluten free. However, the last two times we’ve eaten there, even prior to going grain free it made me sick. Achey, major migraine headache, etc.

Saute your favorite vegetables in olive oil. I used broccoli, onion, mushrooms, and red bell pepper.

Saute your favorite vegetables in olive oil. I used broccoli, onion, mushrooms, and red bell pepper.

The second time I had grains during my grain free trial was a few days ago at PF Chang’s. We ordered off of their gluten free menu and every- single-thing, was fabulous. I wish I would have taken pictures for you!

When the veggies are aldente, add a heaping couple of handfuls of fresh spinach and grate a clove of garlic over it.

When the veggies are aldente, add a heaping couple of handfuls of fresh spinach and grate a clove of garlic over it.

But long story short, I had zero reaction to that food and ate probably a half a cup of brown rice along with gluten free condiments, seasonings, etc. So I’m guessing the restuarant near us, is not as gluten free as they claim to be.

Toss until it's all wilted.

Toss until it’s all wilted.

Add a few pinches of your favorite seasoning.

Add a few pinches of your favorite seasoning.

The possible silver lining to this food allergy cloud is that I may be able to enter grains (occasionally) back into my diet with no adverse effects.

We’ll see.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Add the quinoa to the vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the quinoa to the vegetable mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I’ve been very truthful about how I feel about the whole grain free and Paleo “thing”. It’s annoying to say the least. And so far during this grain free trial, I notice the blanched almond flour bothers my joints more than anything. Yesterday we had paleo pasta made with almond flour (I’ll post a review soon) and paleo chocolate chip cookie dough made with almond flour. I felt terrible when I woke up this morning. Swollen, painful, hands and knees, headache, puffy. The typical allergy response to something your body doesn’t care for.

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At first when I went off of the grains I noticed a major difference in joint swelling and pain. However, the main flour I was using was Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour. There are other ingredients as well, so I just assumed it was the rice and the thought that I may possibly be bothered by almonds never even crossed my mind. I guess I’ll never know for sure until I’m tested. Another thing to go on the “to-do” list when we are properly insured.

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So I’ll start experimenting a little at a time. A healthy, happy, food balance is all I’m looking for.

Aren’t we all!

Veggie & Chicken Goat Cheese Melt

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Last weekend at the farmer’s market just down the road from us, we stumbled upon a local goat’s milk cheesemaker.

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He had lots of samples which is always fantastic and I came away with two different types of goat cheese.

A spreadable garlic dill cheese and a goat mozzarella. We used the goat mozzarella on pizza a few days ago and it was delicious. Melted perfectly without being too moist. I think I even prefer it over buffalo mozzarella.

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I decided to use the garlic dill goat cheese and another cheese I found at our local grocery store for the melts. The garlic dill is incredibly flavorful. The dill really stands out and I love the balance of garlic and salt. The Beemster goat cheese tastes similar to a  light swiss cheese.  Alone, or together, they are fabulous.

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I sliced up an onion, pepper, a couple of mushrooms, chopped a clove of garlic, and sautéed them in olive oil.  When they were almost finished I added three chopped sun-dried tomatoes (in oil) and tossed them around until they melted nicely.

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Then I cut a piece of french bread in half and toasted it under the broiler.

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This is such an easy lunch.

I then spread the garlic dill cheese on the toasted bread, added a layer of sautéed veggies, then a few slices of left over chicken breast.

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Then, another layer of veggies, a drizzle of olive oil on each…

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and a generous amount of grated Beemster cheese.

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Popped it under a 500 degree broiler until the cheese started to bubble…

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Easy as that.

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Fabulous and full of flavor. I served mine with a side of spicy mustard.

Delicious!

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Halibut & Shrimp Tacos

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Years ago when I heard someone mention how delicious the fish tacos were they had eaten at a restaurant downtown, I thought it was the most appalling thing I’d heard in a long while.

Fish tacos? Ugh.

But then…

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I realized I had the form of a traditional taco stuck in my head, with fish. No one would like that.

Fresh Pico with cherry tomatoes, red onion, pineapple, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Fresh Pico with cherry tomatoes, red onion, pineapple, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Finally, I was talked into trying them and there was no turning back.

I was hooked.

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Ha, no pun intended.

Fish tacos when made correctly, are bright and light and absolutely full of fresh flavors.

Creamy broccoli slaw with olive oil mayo, apple cider vinegar, freshly ground pepper, and a generous pinch of coconut sugar crystals.

Creamy broccoli slaw with olive oil mayo, apple cider vinegar, freshly ground pepper, and a generous pinch of coconut sugar crystals.

There’s texture and flavor contrasts, which are an absolute must in a fabulous fish and shrimp taco.

A lightly fried corn tortilla brings all of the flavors and textures together.

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Just a couple of seconds in avocado oil  is all it takes. If you’ve never fried corn tortillas, you’re missing out on fabulous comfort food.

They are fried quickly, just a couple of seconds on each side in very hot oil. This leaves them soft and supple and they have such an amazing aroma and flavor. I make traditional tacos like this as well.

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The halibut is steamed so it turns out flaky and gorgeous.

Oil pan with olive oil and top halibut with garlic powder & sea salt.

Oil pan with olive oil and top halibut with garlic powder & sea salt.

Once it was finished steaming, I gave it a good squeeze of fresh lemon.

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The shrimp is sautéed quickly in olive oil and pressed garlic, and finished with fresh parsley.

These were HUGE shrimp. I cleaned them and sliced them down the middle.

These were HUGE shrimp. I cleaned them and sliced them down the middle.

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Once they were done, I sliced them again in half.

Once they were done, I sliced them again in half.

It may look labor intensive, but the entire meal comes together very quickly.

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Make the broccoli slaw and pico first. Then while the shrimp is sauteing and the halibut is steaming, fry your tortillas. Keep a close eye on your shrimp though, it cooks very quickly and you don’t want it being over done. It will cook faster than the halibut.

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When it was just at the done point I quickly removed it from the heat and set it on the back burner while the halibut finished and the tortillas fried.

You can make it as casual or as fancy as you’d like. We went casual. Served it right off the kitchen counter and we ate while watching a movie.

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This is a great summer meal for company as well. Larger quantities of course, but you could make a taco bar on the deck or patio and enjoy an outdoor meal. A Lemon Lime Margarita would be the perfect touch.

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Broccoli Slaw

1 10 oz bag of Organic Broccoli Slaw

About 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil Mayonnaise

About 1/8-1/4 Cup of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

A Generous Pinch of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

Ground Pepper

Whisk the mayo, vinegar, and sugar together. Pour over slaw and add ground pepper. Toss well to coat. Refrigerate.

Pico De Gallo

14 Organic Cherry Tomatoes (I used red and orange), chopped with seeds and juice

About 3 Tablespoons of Organic Red Onion, chopped

1/4 Cup of Fresh Pineapple, chopped

2 Tablespoons of Organic Fresh Cilantro, chopped

1 Large Clove of Organic Garlic, minced

1 Whole Jalapeno, diced (if you don’t like spicy, remove the seeds and membrane before dicing)

Juice of 2 Organic Large Fresh Limes

Pinch of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss. Refrigerate.

Fried Corn Tortillas

*Be careful to check the ingredients on the tortillas, I ran across a bag the other day that was a combination of flour and corn and they looked exactly like the plain corn tortillas

1 Package of Corn Tortillas, they are small…I would do 3-4 per person

Avocado Oil

Medium Saute Pan

Tongs

Several Paper Towels

*Hot oi is extremely dangerous and of course, children and pets should be kept out of the kitchen while making the tortillas

Place a plate next to the area where you’re going to be frying. Tear off several layers of paper towels and set aside. (Don’t catch them on fire with the gas flame like I did…Ha.)

Fill the saute pan 1/4 to 1/2 way with the oil. Heat on medium high. When oil is hot, carefully dip the tortilla in the oil and fry for about 2 seconds. Quickly flip the tortilla with the tongs and fry for another 2 seconds. Remove tortilla to paper towel and cover with another paper towel. Repeat until all tortillas are cooked. It’s important to make sure the oil is hot. The tortillas should start frying immediately when they touch the oil.

Allow the oil to cool completely and then dispose. I pour mine in the garbage can…not a good idea to pour it down the sink.

Halibut & Shrimp Tacos

1 lb of Wild Caught Halibut

1 lb of Wild Caught Shrimp, shelled and cleaned

1 Tablespoon of Freshly Chopped Parsley

Garlic Powder

Sea Salt

Olive Oil

2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, pressed

Fresh Lemon for Squeezing

1/8-1/4 cup of Water

Oil two medium-large skillets with olive oil and heat to medium. Add the shrimp to one and the halibut to the other. Add the pressed garlic to the shrimp and a pinch or two of sea salt. Saute for just a few minutes until the shrimp curls and is pink. While the shrimp is sauteing, sprinkle garlic powder across the top of the halibut and add a pinch or two of sea salt. Add about 1/8 cup of water and cover, steaming for 10 minutes. If you’re using very large shrimp, slice them down the middle as if you were butterflying them but all the way through. After sauteing, cut them again, but in half.

Simple Chicken Dinner & A Fabulous Fallen Cake

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Simple is my middle name these days. I used to just relish working on recipes that had a gazillion steps and were a labor of love to create.

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Now, I still aim for fabulous and crave fantastic, but the first thought on my mind is “simple”.

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Something simple that won’t take me hours to make, where the cleanup won’t exhaust me, that really anyone with basic cooking skills can make, and still have it be delicious and not taste or look simple.

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Both the chicken dish and the spicy cauliflower and broccoli dish are extremely easy with very few ingredients.

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The dinner had a prep time of 20 minutes and cook time of about 35 minutes.

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Delicious, simple, fantastic.

The chicken has amazing layers of flavor. The onion, garlic, and sundried tomatoes work perfectly together. Distinct flavors, but not so much that they overpower the chicken. The spicy cauliflower and broccoli has just enough spice to contrast the sweetness of the cauliflower but not too much heat to take away from the flavors of the chicken.

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The not so fantastic part? Enjoying it on the patio overlooking our dirt back yard. 

Yep.

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Landscaping was supposed to start Tuesday, now it’s Friday…they “think” they’ll be able to start the sprinkler system on Monday then it will take “about” 10 days to complete all the landscaping. At this point, I’m convinced that the majority of construction and landscape laborers live in an alternate universe where time is of no consequence.

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As many of you already know I’m doing a grain free trial run. Baking grain free has been a challenge to say the least. So far I haven’t been impressed with even one bread recipe I’ve tried. But I’ll save that post for later.

For now we’ll discuss the flourless fallen cake.

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I tweaked the recipe a bit like I said I would. Added more chocolate and a bit more coconut oil. Also baked it in a regular sized cake pan rather than two tart pans. Turned out much more moist and now has the perfect balance of chocolate. However, with the fear of over cooking it and having it be too dry, I believe I may have under cooked it just a touch. It looked wonderful coming out of the oven…and then.

You may be wondering why I’m calling it fabulous… Of course I didn’t know it was fabulous when I was taking pictures of it. So I took my shots and then set it aside and ignored it while it cooled.

I’ve seen tons of recipes on Pinterest for Paleo frosting made with avocado. So I found one that looked promising from Gourmet Innovations and tweaked it to suit my needs.

Behold, the Fabulous Fallen Cake.

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Amazingly enough….FABULOUS in every way.

Even the avocado frosting. Not weird at all.

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Both the cake and the frosting are very rich but in a light and airy way. The cake was perfectly moist and now I’m convinced that the fallen aspect is no big deal and just gives it rustic character.

I like rustic character.

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Fabulous Fallen Cake

*Instructions in bold are what have been updated from my previous recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooling time: 1 hour

Cook time: 34 minutes (Maybe add another 5…)

(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cakes)

4 Tablespoons of Raw Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil

8 ounces of 70%  Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped (or Enjoy Life chips)

6 Large Organic Eggs, yolks and whites separated

1 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

1 teaspoon of Instant Coffee or Espresso Powder (decaf is fine!)

2 Pinches of Iodized Sea Salt (1 for the chocolate mixture and 1 for the egg whites)

2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I use convection). Line the bottom of one 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and rub the paper and pans with coconut oil or spray with coconut oil. Place the 4 Tablespoons of coconut oil and chopped chocolate in a small glass bowl over a steaming pan of hot water. Stir until combined and fully melted. 

Remove bowl from steaming pan, wipe bottom of bowl with a towel to avoid any water dripping into the chocolate. Set aside. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of coconut sugar crystals on medium high until thick and fluffy and crystals have dissolved completely.  Add the instant coffee or espresso powder, salt, and beat until combined and coffee has dissolved. Add the vanilla and slowly drizzle the melted chocolate mixture in and beat for about 1 minute until combined.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until foamy. Increase beating to high and slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar crystals in small batches. Continue beating on high until stiff peak (close to 5 minutes). Gently fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Pour batter evenly in one 9 inch pan. 

Bake for 34 minutes, remove and cool completely on baking rack.

Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Prep time: 3-5 minutes

Mix time: 5 minutes

(Adapted from Gourmet Innovations)

1 Organic Avocado, pitted & scooped out

1/4 Cup of Organic Cocoa Powder

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of Pure Maple Syrup

1 teaspoon of Organic Coconut Sugar Crystals

1 Tablespoon of Dairy Free Butter

Place all ingredients into a food processor. Process until smooth and fluffy, scraping down sides several times. 

Frost cake when it is completely cooled. After serving, store lightly covered in fridge. 

Simple Chicken Dinner

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

5-6 Organic Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Thighs

1 Organic Medium Onion, peeled and sliced thinly

2 Organic Cloves of Garlic, peeled & pressed or shredded over chicken

About 1 teaspoon of Organic Dried Thyme

3 Sun Dried Tomatoes In Oil, chopped

Paprika

Sea Salt

Organic Olive Oil

Place chicken thighs in an 8×8 baking dish. Layer sliced onion on top, in between, and under thighs. Shred garlic cloves over chicken (I used a zester). Sprinkle the thyme over the chicken, disperse the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little paprika and sea salt. Drizzle somewhat generously with olive oil.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Spicy Cauliflower & Broccoli

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

About 1 1/2 Cups of Organic Cauliflower, large stalks removed and heads broken into small bite size pieces

About 1 1/2 Cups of Organic Broccoli, large stalks removed and heads broken into small bite size pieces

1/4 of A WHOLE Jalapeno, membrane and seeds intact, diced

Organic Olive Oil

Sea Salt

In a medium saute pan add the cauliflower, broccoli, and jalapeno. Drizzle with olive oil. Saute on Medium Low for about 20-25 minutes until aldente. Season with sea salt. (I added another drizzle of olive oil toward the end of the cooking process).

Spicy Sausage and Bean Soup & Lazy Man’s Garlic Bread

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I could live on soup.

In fact, as long as I had a nice variety, I literally would eat soup every day of my life for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have no idea why I feel this way about soup, but really, what’s not to like about it? Your options are endless. You can make a light soup or a hardy soup. You can make a puree or you can make one with all kinds of yummy texture and flavor. All I ask is that you don’t eat it out of a can.

Soup is easy to make yourself (not as easy as opening a can…but not much harder)  and the payoff is huge. Just the fact that you’ve created something delicious from scratch all on your own is a plus. The fact that you can control what’s in it…that’s the important part. No chemicals, creepy thickeners, hidden allergens, or crazy genetically modified who knows what for you. Just simple organic ingredients that are beneficial for the whole family.

Spicy Sausage & Bean Soup 

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Small Onion, chopped

1/2 Cup Celery, sliced thinly

2 Garlic Cloves, chopped

About 2 Cups of your favorite GF/DF sausage, sliced (I used Hot Italian Pork & Sweet Italian Chicken)

4 Large Tuscan Kale Leaves (rib removed) rolled, cut in half, and sliced thinly

1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves

1/2-1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (depends on how spicy you like it)

1 15 oz. Can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz. Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained

8 Cups Chicken Broth

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

Kosher Salt & Pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a dutch oven or large pot and heat. Saute the onion, celery, garlic, sliced sausage, kale, thyme, and red pepper until the sausage is cooked through and the onion and celery are becoming translucent. Add the beans, broth, and Old Bay Seasoning and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes. Add kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

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Lazy Man’s Garlic Bread

*Super easy and a perfect way to use up leftover hamburger buns.

2 Udi’s Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Earth Balance Soy Free Butter Spread

Garlic Powder

Dried Oregano

Open the buns and spread with butter. Sprinkle generously with garlic powder and dried oregano. Place under the broiler until golden.

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Fail! Organic Black Bean Pasta

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I ran across this pasta in the co-op the other day and was intrigued by its color. The black bean aspect intrigued me too, but black pasta?

Cool!

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I had no idea how it would turn out, but I had my heart set on pesto and that oh so good salty sheep’s  Pecorino Romano I bought the other day. I had a beautiful picture in my head of what it would look like on the plate, drizzled with a lovely extra virgin olive oil. The contrast of the pesto and cheese with the black noodles….the drizzles of olive oil around the dish….ahhhh.

I should have taken note of the picture on the front of the bag.

 My pairings were totally wrong for these noodles and the photos turned out nothing like I had created in my mind.  It’s probably a better noodle for soup and Asian cuisine. It reminded me very much of the texture of Top Ramen noodles. Except more earthy flavored and almost the same color as something you might find slithering around in the soil in your garden.

Mmmmm appetizing!

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There are probably a lot of people out there looking at food blogs who don’t blog themselves who have never considered how many fails it takes to create great recipes. With Pinterest right at the tip of everyone’s fingers, it’s clear to see after a short look-see, food can be ART and they make it all look so easy.  And don’t get me wrong, I love looking at beautiful food just as much as the next person, maybe more!

But, it’s also nice to see the struggles and the not so artsy every now and then. Because realistically, all of us are not sitting down to a three course meal worthy of a gallery wall every night.

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It’s easy to just call it a loss and only post the fantastic and beautiful recipes. I mean, you would never know!

But I’m here help you learn and to help you love being allergen free, not fib about how easy it is. This is only just one of many, many, of my recipe “fails”. It can be frustrating (and expensive) but if you look at it on the positive side, they really aren’t fails if you’re figuring out how to use new products and experience new things. And one oops out of about 10 YAY’S!! really isn’t a fail, it’s just a good try.

So here it is in all of its ugly and very unsavory glory!

Ha!

Better luck next time.

Meatloaf For Two

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DSC_5277Meatloaf For Two

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 pound of Organic Hamburger

1 Organic Egg

2 Tablespoons of Organic Onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon of Dried Organic Basil

1 Tablespoon of Dried Organic Oregano

1 teaspoon of Organic Bragg’s Sprinkle Seasoning

2 Tablespoons of Sugar Daddy Sugarhouse Special BBQ Sauce

1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

4 Grinds of Fresh Pepper

4 teaspoons of Organic Tomato Paste

Bragg’s Sprinkle Seasoning

Place all ingredients in a large bowl.

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Mix with one hand until thoroughly combined. Not too much! I like my meatloaf light and fluffy. If you mix it too much it will be dense and have a weird texture.

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Spoon it into oiled ramekins, pat down, and smooth with the back of a spoon.

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Top each meatloaf with 2 teaspoons of tomato paste and spread with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with Bragg’s Seasoning.

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Place on a baking sheet and cook in a preheated oven for 50-60 minutes.

I served mine with smashed potatoes and pan gravy. You can either eat it right out of the ramekin, or take it out and slice it like I did.

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For the smashed potatoes:

Organic Red Potatoes

Almond Milk

Earth Balance Soy Free Butter

Salt

(The amount will depend on how many people you’re cooking for.) Boil and drain the potatoes. Mash by hand with a potato masher. Warm milk and butter and slowly mash/stir into the potatoes. Salt to taste.

For the pan gravy:

Earth Balance Soy Free Butter

Mama’s All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

Organic Beef Broth

Kosher Salt

Bragg’s Organic Sprinkle Seasoning

Heat the beef broth. Place butter and flour in a pan and whisk to create a roux.  Slowly add the beef broth whisking the entire time until the gravy is to the consistency you want it. Season with salt and Bragg’s seasoning.

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