Million Dollar Stuffing

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re still living without appliances or carpet until next week. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to be able to go over to mom’s house and do some cooking!

Stuffing or dressing? Does stuffing mean that it’s cooked in the bird and dressing mean that it’s cooked outside the bird? Or does it just depend on which part of the country you’re from? We’ve always called it stuffing. Maybe because we have always cooked it in the bird, I’m not really sure. This year we’re headed out to my in law’s for Thanksgiving and I’m bringing the GF DF stuffing and GF DF Pecan Pie Bars. (Which already have an entire missing row, by the way.)

I decided to name it Million Dollar Stuffing because basically, it’s very spendy to make. About $25.00 for an 8 1/2 by 11 pan. You could probably cut the cost a bit by making your own gluten free bread, but probably not by much. The flours that go into making homemade gluten free bread are also expensive.

It is Thanksgiving after all, and stuffing is by far the food I look most forward to today. So with that said, and a warning about the cost…stuffing it is! Or is that dressing?

Million Dollar Stuffing

Preheat Oven to 350°

2 Loaves Udi’s Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread (or your favorite gf bread, or homemade gf bread)

1 Package All Natural GF Bacon, partially frozen

4 Stalks  Celery, sliced lengthwise and diced

1 Medium Sweet Onion, diced

3 Cloves Garlic, minced

1-2 Boxes GF Chicken Stock (I used 1 whole box and will take the other box to pour a little over the pan before re-heating)

Dairy Free Butter, about 2 1/2 Tablespoons

1 Jar Poultry Seasoning (or your favorite stuffing seasoning or fresh herbs)

Sea Salt

Olive Oil

Slice and cube the gluten-free bread. The amount will depend on how many people you are serving, of course. I thought I would need three loaves but only ended up needing two.

Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet, sprinkle 1/2 the jar of poultry seasoning over the top,  toss with fingers.

Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, remove. Toss, then bake for another 15 minutes or until the cubes are browned and crisp on the outside with a little softness on the inside.

While the bread cubes are toasting, get the vegetables and garlic ready.

Dice the bacon and fry in a skillet until it is crisp on the outside but still a little chewy. Yes, the entire package! This isn’t “diet day” it’s Thanksgiving.

Remove the crisp bacon with a slotted spoon onto paper towels. Reserve 2 Tablespoons or so of the bacon fat to saute the onions, celery and garlic. Saute until the onions are translucent and the celery only has a slight crunch.

Place the toasted and seasoned bread cubes in a bowl, top with the sautéed veggies and bacon.

Add the remaining half jar of poultry seasoning. Season generously with sea salt. Pour 1 box of the chicken stock in a 4 cup glass measuring cup and add the 2 1/2 Tablespoons of  dairy free butter. Microwave for about 2-3 minutes or until stock is hot and butter is melted.

Pour 1/2 of the heated liquid over the top of the other ingredients in the bowl and toss carefully until liquid is absorbed into the bread cubes. Repeat with the remaining liquid.

Drizzle olive oil in a nice baking dish and rub around the bottom and sides with a paper towel.

Fill with the stuffing, cover with tin foil,  and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. This stuffing can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. When you’re ready to heat it, pour a little more chicken stock over the top, cover with foil and heat for about 30 minutes or until it is heated through in a 350 degree oven.

This is Miss Penelope. My mother is “babysitting” her for my son for a while. We can probably all see where that is going! She’s adorable and such a talker. Watched me the entire time I made the stuffing. Shared a little bacon with her and now I have a friend for life.

Happy Thanksgiving to you from the Policani Family and Miss Penelope!

Banana Plum Tart

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A few days ago I bought a bag of fresh Italian Plums at the outdoor market. I had eaten several but wanted to set aside a few to make something…I just wasn’t sure what that something was. For the last couple of days I’ve been mulling it over and going through what I have on hand that I might be able to pair with them to make something nice. I also remembered that I had stuck a bunch of very ripe bananas in the freezer. If you’ve never done this, you should. You don’t need to bag them or anything, I just stuck mine on the shelf. When they thaw they are amazing. Very intense banana flavor, like a banana liquor, and the texture is perfect for smoothies and baking.

This recipe is adapted (very loosely) from a tea cake recipe I used to make in the “olden days” when I could eat gluten and dairy. It was in the Better Homes & Gardens Old Fashioned Home Baking Cookbook. An absolutely amazing cookbook that I would highly recommend. If you’re into adapting recipes to fit your needs and aren’t the type that sticks to a recipe, you’ll love it.

Banana Plum Tart

Preheat oven to 350°

8-10 Very Ripe Italian Plums

1 Frozen Very Ripe Banana

2 1/2 Cups Mama’s Almond Flour

1/2 Cup Sugar

3/4 Cup Dairy Free Butter

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 Egg

3/4 Cup Almond Milk, with 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice

About 1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

Spray a round tart pan with non-stick spray and pour about 1/8 cup sugar in the pan.

Wiggle the pan around to disperse the sugar, coating as evenly as possible. Set aside.

Wash and dry the plums. Cut in half, remove the pit, then cut into quarters.

Set the banana on a plate to partially thaw. (This shows two bananas, you will only need one.)

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and xanthan gum. Add the dairy free butter.

“Cut it in” with your fingers until it resembles course crumbs, I prefer this over a pastry blender. What fun is cooking and baking if you can’t touch it? Do it quickly though, you don’t want the butter melting in your fingers.

Set aside about 1/2 cup of the mixture.

Into the remaining flour mixture, add the baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, and cinnamon. Stir or whisk until combined and set aside.

Measure out 3/4 cup Almond milk and add the lemon. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. This makes buttermilk. Or at least the scientific equivalent.

When it has set for 10 minutes, add the egg and beat with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Mash the partially frozen banana with a fork. The reason you want it partially frozen is because if you allow it to thaw completely it gets very runny and mushy.

Add the egg mixture and banana to the dry mixture.

Stir just until combined, do not over mix. Baking ingredients don’t like to be fiddled with and over-mixed, it makes them tough and cranky.

Spread two-thirds of the batter over the bottom and sides of the tart pan with a spoon.

Add the Italian plums in a pretty pattern.

Use the remaining one-third batter to dollop over the plums.

Sprinkle with the reserved dry topping and brown sugar. Why more sugar? Because frankly, dark brown sugar just makes everything taste better and it makes a perfect friendship with plums and bananas.

Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted into a couple different places comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely (or for at least 30 minutes) before removing it from the pan.

Veggie & Cheese Omelette

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Sometimes I just can’t face another bowl of oatmeal or dairy free yogurt for breakfast. I actually prefer dinner leftovers for breakfast, but that’s another post I suppose. I like an occasional omelette, and having it filled with vegetables is certainly not  an unhealthy way to start your day.

Veggie & Cheese Omelette

2 Organic Eggs

1/4 Cup Diced Summer Squash

1/4 Cup Diced Red Bell Pepper

1/4 Cup Chopped Broccoli Florets

1/8 Cup Diced Red Onion

1/2 Minced Jalapeno, Seeds & Membrane Intact

1 teaspoon Minced Garlic

Daiya Vegan Cheese

Olive Oil

Non-Stick Spray

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

Fresh Thyme Leaves

Gather all of the main ingredients. It might look like a lot of vegetables for 1 omelette but they cook down and end up being the perfect amount.

Drizzle a skillet with a little olive oil and saute the bell pepper, broccoli, and red onion for about 5 minutes. Add the squash, jalapeno, and garlic and saute for another 5 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk eggs in a small bowl until fluffy and completely combined. Pour into a small omelette pan that has been prepared with non-stick spray and heated on medium. If you’re not sure how to cook the egg part of the omelette, you can go here for tips . Really, it just takes practice. Mine don’t always turn out and sometimes they have to be morphed into scrambled eggs. It will taste great either way.

Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, add the cheese.

Then, add the sautéed vegetables.

Flip the empty side of the omelette over the ingredients, leave omelette in the pan for about 3 minutes to allow the cheese to melt. Season with sea salt & pepper and a sprinkle of fresh thyme.

Heaven in The Form of Caramel Corn

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I’m not a big fan of crunchy, crispy, caramel corn. I like mine warm, gooey, and slightly salty with a hint of vanilla. It’s a totally different experience than regular caramel corn. It seems lavish and special. Because it  is special. It’s not one of those desserts you make all the time because frankly, it would just seem so wrong to eat it on a weekly basis. But when you do decide to splurge,  it’s worth every gooey, morsel. The caramel is cooked just enough so that it attaches itself to the popcorn but not too much so it can stay gooey. Warm, rich caramel, with a hint of vanilla and a few sprinkles of sea salt, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Dairy Free Caramel Corn

*Please remember, melted sugar is very dangerous! It continues to burn when it hits the skin and can cause major damage. Use caution when making this recipe and please don’t involve your little ones in the caramel part of the recipe.

1 Medium Bowl of Plain Popcorn, seeds/kernels removed from bottom of bowl

About 1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter

About 3/4 Cup Dark Corn Syrup

About 2 Large Handfuls of Dark Brown Sugar

Pure Vanilla Extract

Sea Salt

Pop the corn and remove all seeds and hard kernels from the bottom of the bowl. I use two bowls. Pop into one and shake it until all of the un-popped kernels go to the bottom. Then carefully scoop out the fluffy corn into another bowl leaving the hard pieces behind.

Place the butter, corn syrup, and dark brown sugar in a large skillet.

Stirring constantly, heat on medium until boiling. Stop stirring and continue to boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and add about 2 teaspoons of vanilla, stir.

Pour half of the caramel mixture over the bowl of popped corn. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss carefully with a wooden spoon. Poor the remaining caramel over the popped corn and sprinkle with another layer of sea salt.

The stirring cools the caramel corn so at this point, it’s safe to eat.

Coconut Ice Cream with Warm Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Peaches

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Peaches, coconut ice cream, brown sugar, and warm, soothing Fall spices? Honestly, there aren’t enough descriptive words to tell you how delicious this was. I could eat this every day of my life. Next time I make it, which might just have to be tomorrow night, I’m going to add just a little splash of dark rum.

Serves Two

2 Ripe Peaches

About 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dark Brown Sugar

About 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

About 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss Ice Cream  (It’s Dairy Free)

Peel and thinly slice peaches into a small sauce pan. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Simmer on medium-low for about 10-15 minutes until the flavors are fully incorporated and peaches become juicy.

Remove from burner and cool for about 5 minutes. Drizzle sauce and peaches over ice cream.

Spinach Pasta With Grilled Veggies, Chicken Thighs, and Walnut Pesto

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Typically if I’m on my own for dinner I eat leftovers or toast, or cereal, or sometimes just dessert. However, all day today I was thinking about pasta and that Vegan Walnut Pesto I made a few days ago.  The day that I made it I didn’t have a chance to use it so I stuck it in the freezer. This is an incredibly simple meal that is absolutely packed with flavor. A perfect meal for two, but if you’re on your own, you’ll have enough for dinner tonight and leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Enjoy!

Spinach Pasta With Grilled Veggies, Chicken Thighs, and Walnut Pesto

Tinkyada Spinach Brown Rice Pasta

3 Chicken Thighs

1/2 Red Bell Pepper

1/2 Orange Bell Pepper

1/2 Summer Squash

1/2 Tablespoon Vegan Walnut Pesto

About 3 Tablespoons Gluten Free Barbecue Sauce

About 1 teaspoon Chopped Garlic

About 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar

Olive Oil

Garlic Powder

Dried Oregano

Sea Salt

Combine the BBQ sauce, chopped garlic, and vinegar in a small bowl. Add the chicken thighs (rinsed and dried) and toss. Set aside. Cook the pasta (reserve about 1/4 cup pasta water), rinse, and set aside. (Some people are completely against rinsing their pasta, however, with gluten-free pasta, I have found that if it’s rinsed right after draining it doesn’t stick). In a medium bowl, add the peppers, sliced in half, and the summer squash, sliced but not too thin. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a generous amount of garlic powder, oregano, and sea salt. Toss and set aside.

Heat the grill to medium to medium high and grill the chicken until it has about 7 minutes to go. Add the vegetables and grill everything until done.

Next, slice the chicken and vegetables. Place the pasta in a large bowl and add the pesto, vegetables, and chicken. Heat the reserved pasta water in the microwave, add about 1/2 to the mixture and toss. You may have to add more pasta water as you toss depending on the consistency of the pesto and how it disperses throughout the pasta, veggies, and chicken.

My Kind Of Sundae

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Trust me, living an allergen free life is not nearly as hard as people will tell you. I rather enjoy it.

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Sundae

1 Gluten Free Namaste Brownie

1 Scoop of Luna & Larry’s Dairy Free Coconut Bliss Ice Cream

Several Roasted Salted Almonds, Roughly Chopped

Chocolate Syrup

“Grandma’s” Potato Soup

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I had to call this Grandma’s Potato Soup because she made the absolute best potato soup there is, hands down. Hers of course involved a lot of whole milk or cream and butter…so I had to tweak my recipe a bit. But all in all, the inspiration comes from her. I can hear what you’re saying…”Potato soup, it’s 90 degrees outside.” Yes it is, but it’s only 72 in here. Perfect weather for a bowl of homemade potato soup.

While I was chopping everything up for this soup lots of really great memories came flooding back. Don’t you love that when it happens? I am so thankful that I have so many great childhood memories of my Grandparents to choose from. I can hear the fans humming in my Grandma’s house on those hot summer days, smell her garden, remember at least 35 amazing Thanksgiving dinners, sit right on the front porch with my Grandpa on those lazy, hot summer days while he sipped a glass of beer with a sprinkle of salt. A glass for him and a tiny dish of beer for their dog, Punkin. The smell of the hand cleaner my Grandpa used after he’d been working in the garage all day. The feel of my Grandma’s 100% heavy cotton sheets when we would jump back into bed in the mornings after she would wake up at the crack of dawn to make my Grandpa breakfast before he was off to work for the day. The smell of their attic that I thought had amazing treasures. I can taste the strips of pie dough with cinnamon, sugar, and butter that my Grandma always had leftover from making holiday pies.  The smell of the tiny little Christmas tree she bought for me to have in my bedroom one year when we were staying with them. The beautiful crystal formations that would form on their old windows upstairs and my Grandma’s stories of “Jack Frost”.  Sigh…I could go on and on. All I have to do is close my eyes and think about it and I’m right there. What a blessing that is!

On top of all of those wonderful memories they provided me with, she always had yummy, soothing things to eat. How is that possible? No matter when I stopped by, even unannounced, she would fix me a plate or bowl of something delicious. It must be a little Grandma miracle or something because it was the same thing when we went to one of my friend’s Italian grandmother’s house unannounced. Manicotti and lasagna always available? A miracle, I’m telling you!

My heart aches when I hear people say they weren’t close to their Grandparents. I cannot even imagine my life without mine. I hope someday I have the opportunity to be even half the blessing my Grandparents were to me, to my own grandchildren. If you’re able…have you hugged your Grandparents today?

“Grandma’s” Potato Soup

8 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, cubed

5 Medium Stalks of Celery, cut down the middle and sliced

1 Medium to Large Walla Walla Sweet Onion, diced

1 Whole Package of All Natural Bacon, diced (easier done when partially frozen)

3 Cloves of Garlic, diced

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

A Pinch of Dried Parsley

2 32oz Containers of GF Chicken Broth

2 Cups Almond Milk (or your choice, I like almond milk because it’s thick like whole milk)

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

Slice the celery and dice the onion, garlic, and bacon. Cube the potatoes.

In a medium-large Dutch oven, saute the bacon until it is golden and somewhat crisp. Be patient, it’s a lot of bacon and it will take a while. You want it to ever so lightly caramelize the bottom of the pan for a lot of flavor later. If you cook it to quickly, it will burn.

Remove the cooked bacon with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel and set aside.

Remove all of the little bits from the pan leaving about a tablespoon and a half of bacon grease.

Next, saute the onions and celery until the onion is translucent. Then add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes.

Add the butter and drained bacon and stir.

Add the potatoes and stir.

Cover the potatoes with both boxes of chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low boil until potatoes are tender.

Once the potatoes are tender enough to eat, add the two cups of almond milk and the pinch of dried parsley. Bring to a boil again and season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

Nectarine Peach Crisp for Two

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It’s finally peach season in the Inland Northwest. They are about two weeks late but still just as delicious as always. I’ve been waiting and waiting for some really good peaches and nectarines to make a crisp and it’s finally time. I put them in awesome over-sized ramekins from Pier 1. If you don’t have them, you must go out and buy them this week! They are perfect for so many things and incredibly cheap. I think I only paid around $2.50 for each one. Then after you go on a little shopping spree, you can come home with your ramekins and read my nightmarish experience when I went to buy them. It will give you a good chuckle.

Nectarine Peach Crisp for Two

2 Peaches

2 Nectarines

1/2 Lemon, juiced

1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar

1 teaspoon Mama’s Almond Flour

Peel and slice the peaches and nectarines into semi-thin wedges. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and flour. Stir to combine and set aside.

While the peaches are resting, make the topping.

1 Cup Gluten-Free Old Fashioned Oats

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed

1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar

1/4 Cup Mama’s Almond Flour

1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

4 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter

Add all ingredients except butter to a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Add butter and crumble with fingers until mixture begins to come together. Set aside.

Fill your new cool ramekins evenly with the peaches and nectarines.

Top with the oatmeal topping.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes until top is lightly golden and crisp and peaches are bubbly.

Vegan Walnut Pesto

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What do you do when you have a ton of basil because you keep buying it thinking that you’re out but you actually already have three packages in your fridge? You make pesto, of course! I don’t “do” cheese as you know, and I didn’t have pine nuts so I improvised and used walnuts instead of the pine nuts and left the cheese out altogether. It’s wonderful even without the cheese and really, you can make pesto with any nut you like.

Fill your food processor up with fresh basil

Add about 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

Add about a handful of walnuts

Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon into the mix

Pulse until thoroughly combined.

Turn food processor on and slowly drizzle olive oil in until it comes to a somewhat smooth consistency.

Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.