Slow Cooker Beef Lettuce Wraps

Another AMAZING slow cooker summer dish is here!! Lettuce wraps are very versatile and can be a great alternative to your traditional bread laden sandwiches or heavier taco wraps in summer. The cucumbers and carrots are in season right now and lend a great vibrant crunch to the beef. And the beef…well, its super tender with a subtle sweetness to balance out the umami flavor. Translation, it is good enough to eat all by itself!

My hubby thought these were the bomb, and even though my kiddos were not keen on the lettuce wraps, they did devour the beef with some brown rice and the veggies on the side! So that is a win win in my book. This recipe is courtesy of Cooking Light magazine. I made a few minor adjustments to the recipe to ensure it was gluten free. And while they had you soak the cucumbers and carrots for 15 minutes, we thought they were much better when they marinated longer. Enjoy!!! nom nom

gluten-free / dairy free 

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 8 hours on low

 

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut into slices

8 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2 tsp canola oil, plus more for slow cooker liner

1 (2-3 lb) boneless chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat

1/2 cup unsalted beef stock

1/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce

11 TBS rice vinegar, divided

2 TBS sesame oil, divided

2 TBS coconut palm sugar (brown sugar works as well)

2 TBS unsalted tomato paste

1 TBS white miso (soybean paste)

3/4 tsp crushed red pepper

16 Bibb lettuce leaves

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

 

Quick Pickles

3/4 cup thinly sliced english cucumbers

3/4 cup julienne-cut-carrots

1 cup of water

1 TBS granulated sugar (I use turbinado)

3/4 tsp kosher salt

**The quick pickles are best if they marinate overnight. If you don’t have the time, let them marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  • Place cucumber and carrots in a shallow container with a lid. Combine remaining 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup of water, and granulated sugar in small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour vinegar mixture over carrots and cucumber. If you are marinating overnight or all day, let mixture cool and then place in refrigerator. Remove from fridge about 15 minutes before serving; drain well.

 

  1. Coat bottom and the sides of slow cooker with canola oil. Place onion slices in the bottom of slow cooker; top with garlic.
  2. Heat canola oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chuck roast to pan; cook 2-3 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Place beef on top of onions and pour any drippings from pan over the top.
  3. Combine stock, soy sauce, 3 TBS vinegar, 1 TBS sesame oil, and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper) in a medium bowl, and whisk together. Pour mixture over beef and onions. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  4. Transfer beef and onions from slow cooker to a large platter; shred with 2 forks. Reserve 1/2-1 cup of the cooking liquid and discard  the remaining liquid and garlic. Sprinkle evenly with salt and 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid, toss to coat.
  5. Divide beef and pickles among lettuce leaves, sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Buttermilk Pancakes

gluten-free – dairy free option – refined sugar free

Pancakes. Most definitely in my top 5 of all time favorite foods. They are (or should be) little golden mounds of fluffy, slightly sweet heaven. Which you can then drown in maple syrup, slather with jam or just throw on an ungodly amount of butter and eat until euphoria sets in.  I told you I like pancakes….. and without fail at every breakfast outing I would go on, no matter what else I might order, you were guaranteed to see a single pancake next to me. That is until I had to give up gluten (which can make eating pancakes out almost impossible). So, I had to put on my big girl panties and learn how to go without my beloved pancake. Sometimes I am lucky and the restaurant will have a GF option and I will literally have to fight myself not to get up from my chair, kiss the server and do a little pancake jig.

Pancakes are also a big deal in my house. They are pretty much a weekly occurrence since breakfast for dinner is one of the kids most requested meals. I won’t lie, it has been an uphill battle to find a gluten-free pancake recipe that my crew approved of.  I pinned and googled a ridiculous amount of recipes and we began our search. Unfortunately, we had many disappointing dinners where the pancakes were either to dense, to mushy, or simply not the pancakes of days gone by. So after a few failures, the lightbulb finally went off (sometimes it takes a bit ya’ know??) and I pulled out our pancake recipe from the days before allergies and sensitivities and we started to tinker around with it. We had a few false starts but pretty quickly we had the recipe you see now, and they were ok.

HA! Just kidding…but wouldn’t that be some shit???!!! If after reading this whole thing about my weird obsession with pancakes I just said they were “ok”?? They were better than ok, they were actually fantastic!!! Light, fluffy, slightly sweet and the perfect dessert for any breakfast. Enjoy!! nom nom

 

3 TBS butter or vegan butter; melted and cooled to room temp

2 cups of gluten-free flour; I use Cup4Cup brand

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar or other unrefined sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups buttermilk or non-dairy buttermilk* (see note below)

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla

mini chocolate chips (optional) I used Enjoy Life brand mini vegan chocolate chips

**If you want to make a dairy free buttermilk here is how you do it. This will make enough buttermilk for the pancakes. In a liquid measuring cup put in 2 TBS of apple cider vinegar. Add enough dairy free milk to the apple cider vinegar to equal 2 cups total liquid. Let stand for 5 minutes and whisk before using as the mixture will separate a little.

  1. Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly
  2. In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, whisk wet ingredients together.
  3. Pour wet ingredients in to the dry ingredients.Whisk gently until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated; stop before batter is evenly moistened.
  4. Add the cooled melted butter and mix until evenly moistened.
  5. Let the batter rest while the pan heats up.
  6. Lighlty oil the pan and pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake into the pan.

*Not everyone in my fam wants chocolate chips in their pancakes (my hubby is a purist). So, I add the chocolate chips to some of the pancakes right after I put the batter in the pan!

 

 

 

Zucchini Patties

gluten free / dairy free option / vegan option

There are two words I would use to describe zucchini. The first is Prolific.. The other would be Huge. I assume you see where this is going and that it goes without saying…. I have a ton of zucchini in my house. Between my mom’s garden and a few friends I find myself staring at the zuchinni wondering how many different recipes I can create or find with zuchinni as the main ingredient. And since zuchinni bread is the poster child of Zucchiniville, and I like to walk off the beaten path whenever possible…. I decided to start off with a savory dish like the patties you see above.

These zucchini patties are crazy good!! And minus the shredding which can be a bit annoying, they are a breeze to make. Both my kids devour them and will even eat them multiple times in a week!!! I mean…that NEVER happens in my house…. not unless its chicken tenders or dessert. And they are super versatile. My hubby and I make BLT  or BELT stacks with them…..ridiculously good. We take one patty and give it a swipe of Veganaisse, top that with mixed greens, bacon, tomatoes and an occasional fried egg and you would give up sex for a month to get another one. I promise. They are also superb topped with a slow cooked pulled pork and creamy slaw or make them mini and use them as a base for your own version of salmon latkes.

I ALWAYS double the recipe so I can make one batch with regular cheese and one with vegan cheese….I live in a divided household when it comes to cheese. For true vegans….I have never made these completely vegan and removed the egg, But I assume a flax-seed egg or other egg alternative would work just fine.

Enjoy!! nom nom

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini**

1 small onion shredded (grated)**

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, I use Daiya shredded cheese

1 egg or flaxseed egg

1/2 cup gluten-free bisquick (or regular bisquick if you are GF friendly)

salt and pepper to taste

**The quickest and easiest way to shred the zucchini and onion is with a food processor fitted with the shredding blade. Make sure you scoop out the seeds from the zuchinni before shredding. Once they are shredded, squeeze all the excess water from both the zucchini and the onion.

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until completely mixed together
  2. Heat enough oil to coat your skillet (I use grapeseed or canola) to medium heat.
  3. Drop mixture by the spoonful to make approximately 6 patties
  4. Let them cook on each side until brown, appx 5-7 minutes per side.
  5. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain off the excess oil

 

Would love to hear of any awesome zucchini patty concoctions you come up with!

Biscuits

Take it from a girl from Kansas, where biscuits are pretty much a daily occurrence, these gluten-free biscuits are the bomb!!!!!! Warm out of the oven with a little butter and honey (or jam) and you will be in heaven.  They are flaky and moist with a beautiful golden brown top thanks to the melted butter you brush the tops with both before and after baking. These biscuits have also become a weekly staple in our house so that we can make breakfast sandwiches. They are a breeze to whip up taking only 20 minutes from start to finish. If you want to warm them up from room temp, just pop them in the microwave for 15 seconds or in the toaster on the lightest setting. Enjoy!!! nom nom
2 1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour; I use the Cup4Cup brand
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon raw cane sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tablespoons cold salted butter  or vegan butter
2 tablespoons melted butter; divided
1 cup buttermilk or non-dairy buttermilk substitute
flour for rolling out dough; I use rice flour as the GF flour is more expensive
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet
Stir together the dry ingredients. Cut butter into small cubes and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. Work in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk by hand.
Dust clean surface with rice flour. Roll out dough into a disk that is about 3/4-1 in thick. Cut out dough with a 2-in round cookie/biscuit cutter and place rounds on prepared baking sheet.
Brush the tops of the unbaked biscuits with about half the melterd butter, reserving the rest to use once they are removed from the oven. And sprinkle with salt.
Bake biscuits about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Serve warm.

Raspberry Chocolate Tart

gluten free / vegan / paleo friendly

This dessert took me 12 MINUTES to make and required NO baking!!  Ok, now that I have your attention……let’s get excited about the summer desserts’ that are coming our way!!! Here in Wisconsin we are all in avid anticipation of the strawberries that will be arriving any day now. A few of my favorite recipes I can’t wait to share with you are strawberry scones, strawberry rhubarb pie and strawberry bread. Follow that up with blueberry and peach season where we will discover the beautiful and simple nuances of the fruit with just a buttery pie crust holding it together. And how amazing a simple muffin can be when it’s jammed full of Michigan blueberries. And last but certainly not least are raspberries! They have a longer season than most berries, ranging from mid July to October in places like Michigan. So you can look forward to raspberry sorbet, jams and my personal favorite, anything chocolate with raspberries! And so we come full circle, to the whole point of this post. The Raspberry Chocolate Tart. I cannot take credit for this particular recipe as I found it via the blog bakerita. so…kudos to her because this tart is phenomenal!! It is not only ridiculously rich and satisfying but it is also…..gluten free, vegan and paleo friendly!!! It is also the PERFECT summer dessert. Easy to make, requires no oven and will impress even the toughest dessert critic! Enjoy!! nom nom

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 TBS pure maple syrup or agave nectar
  • pinch of coarse sea salt

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup canned full fat coconut milk
  • 6oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raspberry preserves (100% fruit)
  • 1 pint of raspberries

 

  1. Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with coconut oil
  2. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust and stir together. Press evenly into the prepared tart pan; set aside
  3. Place finely chopped chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring coconut milk just to a boil. Pout hot coconut milk over chocolate and let stand 1 minute, then stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in raspberry preserves. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
  4. Garnish the top with raspberries
  5. Place tart in the refrigerator to set and cool completely, about 1-2 hours. Slice and serve.
  6. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

 

 

Coconut Basil Curry Chicken

gluten free / dairy free / vegetarian option / grain free option

 

In my house, Mondays are slow cooker days. They are one of the busier days for our family and it’s also one of my non-blogging days which means I’m not preparing delicious meals all day. Side note…they are not always delicious, but rest assured ONLY the delicious ones make it here!!! I also find that Mondays seem to be the day when all hell breaks loose. So I FINALLY figured out that when we are transitioning back into our routines after the weekend and trying to find our groove again that it is SOOOOO nice not having to scramble to put dinner on the table. I mean…I don’t know about you, but I would much rather sit down with my cocktail of choice (that is a MUST in this scenario), play with my kids and enjoy the fact that some machine just did 98% of my job AND that dinner will actually be served on time.

I found this recipe via The Food Charlatan. She is a new favorite of mine and I find that I can convert almost all of her recipes to be gluten-free with ease!!! I made a few minor changes to the recipe but all in all it is pretty much the same. I swapped out the bone in skin on chicken thighs for boneless and skinless. Mainly because it was less fat but as a happy by product it also eliminated a bit of work towards the end of the recipe. I also messed a little with the spice ratio but again nothing major. I just needed to make it a bit more kid friendly in regards to spice level.  I believe this recipe originated from Better Homes and Garden.

Slow Cooker Meal

Basil Coconut Curry Chicken

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 4-5 hours on high, 6-8 on low

Ingredients

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs; if you are vegan/vegetarian sub Crispy Tofu
salt and pepper to season chicken
1 TBS oil
2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk; I use one light and one full fat coconut milk
2 TBS dried basil leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 TBS sweet curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 large red onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped; if you want less spicy for kids start with 1
1 TBS gluten free cornstarch
1 TBS cold water
1- 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced; depending on your level of love for ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Salt and pepper each side of the thigh. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add the oil.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add 3-4 chicken thighs. Make sure not to over crowd them in the pan. Leave a little space inbetween each thigh. Cook for about 2 minutes, until nicely browned. Then flip the chicken over to brown the other side for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Repeat the process with remaining chicken.
  3. In the crock pot combine coconut milk, basil, salt, pepper, sweet curry, and chili powder. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the chopped red onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Add the browned chicken and stir to combine.
  5. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. Once it is done you can shred the chicken thighs in the slow cooker with two forks. Go ahead and add the ginger.
  6.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water. Add this to the crock pot and stir.
  7. Return the lid and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the cilantro.
  8. Serve with rice or Cauliflower Rice.

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Crunch Bowl with Salmon

gluten free / dairy free / vegan option

Food bowls….not necessarily a new invention but they are definately the cool kids of food presentation right now. For starters, practically any meal you make looks bigger and better when you put it in a bowl.

Notice how I said looks bigger???  When your meal in a bowl instead of on a plate you are likely to eat less because of the structure of the bowl, i.e. less surface across and higher sides. But in the same breath you feel just as satisfied with less  because your food is stacked and mounded giving the illusion of more food. And that makes your brain and belly happy!

Food bowls are also aesthetically more pleasing than looking at your food on a plate because the bowl allows you to layer your food which gives you the most appealing mouthful possible. This creates adventure for you mouth..aka a “party in your mouth” which is how my five-year old so adeptly describes eating cake.

I think Asian food also presents really well in a bowl because of its elemental structure. Most Asian food is served with either noodles or rice as a base and is then finished with sautéed vegetables and the protein of choice. This bowl is amazing both hot and cold, as I found out the other day when I had the leftovers for lunch. So next time you want to switch things up or you are looking for an easy way to eat less and still feel satisfied, try a bowl!! FYI….kids also love to help make their bowl and it can get them more engaged with the food you want them to eat!

Makes 2 bowls

Ingredients:

Bowl

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of chicken broth or water

3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks

1 large red pepper; thinly sliced

1 package of edamame, thawed

1/2 of a small red cabbage; cored and thinly sliced

8 ounces of skin on  wild caught salmon filets or 1 pkg of extra firm tofu to make vegan

2 teaspoons of chopped dry roasted peanuts (optional)

 

Thai Suace for Salmon or *Tofu (see notes at end for prep)

1/2 cup of GF soy sauce or coconut aminos

4 cloves of garlic; minced

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1-2 teaspoons of Siracha Chili Sauce; I use Lee Kum Kee brand

2 TBS. of rice vinegar

3 teaspoons of fish sauce

2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil

Juice of 1 lime

Sesame Peanut Sauce

2 TBS. of natural creamy peanut butter

2 TBS. of rice vinegar

1/2 TBS. sesame oil

1 teaspoon of lemongrass seasoning; we get ours at Penzey’s

1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice

Juice of 1 lime

  1. Combine all the ingredients for sauce in a bowl. Place the salmon in another bowl and pour marinade over the salmon. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Periodically brush or baste salmon with the marinade. If you are using tofu, put the sauce in fridge until you need it in Step 6.
  2. Place quinoa and 2 cups of chicken broth or water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 mnutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your sesame peanut sauce and vegetables.
  4. Once salmon has marinated for at least 30 minutes, remove from the fridge. Put enough oil to cover the bottom of a medium skillet. Place skillet on medium high heat.
  5. Once oil is hot, remove the salmon from the marinade and reserve the marinade to use with vegetables. Place salmon skin side down and sear for 3-4 minutes or until cooked about halway up the filet. Flip salmon over, place pat of butter on filet and put in oven for  another 4 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cutting board or plate.
  6. Wipe out the skillet and put back on stove on medium heat. Put a swirl of oil in the pan and add vegeatbles to pan. Saute the vegetables for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add in the reserved marinade and continue to saute until the vegetables are fork tender, another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Put quinoa in the bottom of your bowl, followed by the vegetables and place the salmon on top. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts (if using), and drizzle sesame peanut sauce on top.

Tofu Option:

If you are using tofu instead of salmon follow the recipe for Crispy Tofu. Note that to prep the tofu you need to let it sit overnight so plan accordingly! Follow steps 1-3 from above. Jump down to Step 6 and in addition to the vegetables add in the Crispy Tofu and the sauce you prepared in Step 1.