Chicken and Dumplings

gluten-free ~ dairy free option 

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours total

Recipe adapted from: More Than Simply Living blog

I know in some parts of the U.S. it is already summer, and to you, all I can say is I envy you. But please know, that mentally I am following that up with a few savory expletives. Because here in Wisconsin we are still firmly planted in spring. One day I have the windows open and a t-shirt on and the next I have cranked up the heat and dug out my favorite grandpa sweater. So, for those of us still grappling with indecisive weather….this recipe is for you!

This dish is super simple and is an instant comfort on these cold and wet spring days! The prep time for the soup base is less than 20 minutes. And the prep for the dumplings takes 10 minutes. But keep in mind, the dumplings have to cook for an additional hour and a half AFTER the chicken is done, so you need to allow yourself enough time. For this reason, I think this is a great recipe to make on Sunday and then you can use the leftovers to make a pot pie for Monday! This recipe makes ALOT of soup, and my family typically eats all the dumplings the first time around.

To make the leftovers new again I make a quick Gluten Free Pie Crust. I place the soup in a large baking dish, lay the crust over it. Make two or three slits in the crust, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until crust is a golden brown and insides are bubbly! And even if you have a few dumplings left, just leave them in!! It’s an extra yummy surprise!

**If you want to thicken up the soup, make a quick slurry and add it to the soup before laying the pie crust.

 

3lb whole chicken

1.5 cups of chopped carrots

1 cup of chopped celery

1 onion diced

1 cup frozen peas (optional)

salt and pepper; generous sprinkle of both

7 cups of chicken broth

Dumplings

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon of natural cane sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

3 TBS. shortening, butter or butter substitute

1/2 cup almond milk; may need a bit more if batter is stiff

Cover the bottom of a large crock pot with the vegetables.  Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the chicken broth over the chicken.  Cook on low for 5 hours. After 5 hours, turn the crockpot up to HIGH. Cook another 30 minutes, if the chicken is done (165 temp), remove and continue cooking soup another 30 minutes. Leave chicken in if it still needs time. Once done, place the chicken in a large bowl to cool.

For the dumplings, stir together the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut the shortening/butter into the dry mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the almond milk and stir until it forms a thick dough.

Drop dough by the tablespoon into the soup.  Cook on high for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the dumplings are not doughy. Once the dumplings are in, do not stir the soup. Stirring will cause the dumplings to fall apart.   If dumplings are not fully immersed, use a spoon to gently press down into soup.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and shred with two forks.  When the dumplings have about a half hour left of cooking time, add the chicken back into the soup and gently stir.

 

Creamy Potato Soup

gluten free / dairy free / vegan option

MAKE THIS IMMEDIATELY. That is honestly all I have to say about this recipe. One of the hardest things for me to give up in this crazy food journey of mine was dairy. Because let’s all be honest….recipes that are meant to be laden with dairy usually never turn out as well once you remove it. And being a farm girl from Kansas and growing up in Wisconsin, I am predisposed to LOVE cheese. You can keep your cold glass of milk but I will damn well eat the whole block of cheddar cheese. But over the last few months, as it became more apparent that dairy was also a trigger for me I have started to experiment more and more with dairy alternatives. And I am beginning to have some successes!

Let’s talk creamy potato soup for a sec, and yes, I lied about not having anything to say. First, this soup is made almost entirely in the slow cooker, there are two small stove steps; cooking the bacon and making the roux (simple I promise). Second, and most important, this soup tastes like it is made with whole milk and aged sharp cheddar cheese. I have used both soy creamer and coconut creamer to make this soup, and they both worked well. This soup is so hearty and rich that I made a only needed a simple salad and some Biscuits to complete the meal! Enjoy!! nom nom

Ingredients

10 slices cooked bacon or bacon substitute, diced and divided**

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled (if desired) and diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 tablespoons bacon grease, butter or butter alternative

1/3 cup all-purpose GF flour

12-ounces of soy creamer (coconut creamer works as well)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, I used Daiya vegan shredded cheddar

1/2 cup dairy free plain yogurt or sour cream, I used Tofutti sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or more to taste

1 teaspoon  black pepper

optional toppings: thinly-sliced green onions or chives, extra shredded cheese, extra bacon, sour cream

**Quick and easy way to cook bacon: Preheat oven to 450. Line a rimmed baking sheet with two sheets of aluminum foil. Place bacon on sheet and bake in the oven, turning once mid way through for approximately 20 minutes, or until crispy. No fuss, no mess!!!!

Directions

  1. Dice 8 slices of bacon, and add chicken stock, potatoes and onion to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, until the potatoes are completely tender and cooked through.
  2. Once the soup is about ready to serve, melt the bacon grease/butter in a small saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour until it is completely combined, cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Gradually whisk in the soy creamer and continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth.  Let the mixture continue cooking until it reaches a simmer, stirring occasionally until it thickens.
  3. Immediately pour the milk mixture into the slow cooker with the potatoes, and stir until combined.  Add in the cheddar cheese, yogurt/sour cream), salt and pepper, and stir until combined.  I like the soup to be thicker, so I use a potato masher (or a large spoon) to mash about half of the potatoes (keep the soup in the slow cooker while you do this).  If you would like the soup to be thinner, add in an extra cup of warmed stock.  Stir to combine, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Serve warm, with desired toppings.  As always, if you can do gluten and dairy feel free to put them right back in this recipe! But, I think you will be super surprised at just how yummy the dairy free version is!!

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.

Creamy Cilantro Chicken

gluten free – dairy free 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 5-6 hours on low, 3-4 on high

Whew! I don’t know about your neck of the woods but here in Milwaukee it is H.O.T!!!!! And when it is this humid and muggy the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven. I know most of us look at our slow cooker and think about all those yummy, warm winter dishes we make or it gets moved to the basement to take the summer off. But you couldn’t be more wrong!!! There is literally no better way to make dinner on a hot day than with your slow cooker!

I initially came across this dish via Pinterest a couple of months ago, and my mouth was watering looking at the picture. You see, I LOVE creamy anything; cream sauces, creamy desserts, damn I even love cream on my fruit. But (there is always a but, no?) my stomach can no longer handle dairy so in addition to my mission to make all my favorite foods gluten free I now get to add dairy free to the mix. This recipe originally called for heavy cream, so I did a little research and discovered that silken tofu can be a great dairy free substitution for whole milk or heavy cream. As luck would have it, the swap also made this dish significantly healthier as the fat content and calorie count was drastically reduced! With fresh cilantro from my mom’s garden and the swap of silken tofu for heavy cream this dish is made for summer. Pair it with some cauliflower rice and fresh green beans and dinner is served…..without breaking a sweat! Enjoy!! nom nom

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 TBS chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4-1/2 tsp pepper

2 TBS olive oil

2 cups of chicken broth

1/4 cup of lime juice

1/2 cup silken tofu; blended to be the consistency of heavy cream**

2 TBS chopped cilantro; more for garnish if desired

1 TBS cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of water

** If you do not have a problem with dairy or want a richer dish you can sub in heavy cream or milk for the silken tofu. The silken tofu makes this dish less calorie laden and decreases the amount fat in this dish.**

 

  1. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add olive oil. Place all the dry spices in a shallow bowl. Rub the seasoning into the chicken on each side. Pan sear in the hot oil until each side is brown; 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the chicken broth and lime juice and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high 3-4 hours. Right before the chicken is done, carefully remove the chicken and add silken tofu, cilantro, and cornstarch with water; mix well. Add the chicken back to the slow cooker and continue to cook until sauce starts to thicken about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Serve over rice or preferred grain. Garnish with additional fresh cilantro if desired.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

gluten free / dairy free option / vegetarian option

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 4-6 hours

Another fantastic (easy) weeknight meal using the slow cooker. This soup is a favorite of both of my kids so don’t be afraid of the dry sherry and the cayenne in this recipe. But if spice is a big NO NO in your fam just do a dash of cayenne to start.  My daughter is a traditionalist and pairs this with a grilled cheese. My son who is not a fan of cheese usually has crackers or buttered toast as his accoutrement and my hubby and I either do a big salad or open faced sandwiches.  This soup would also go well with the Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches I made last week. Whatever path you take you are sure to love this soup and you will have plenty for lunches throughout the week. Enoy!! nom nom

2 TBS unsalted butter or vegan butter

3 (14oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, juice reserved

1 onion, minced

1 TBS brown sugar, coconut palm sugar/sucanat are great unrefined options

1 TBS tomato paste

salt and pepper

2 TBS GF all purpose flour; rice flour will work as well

3 cups chicken broth; vegetable broth if vegetarian

2 bay leaves

2-3 ounces of goat cheese, 1/2 cup non-dairy creamer or blended silken tofu

1/2 TBS – 1 TBS dry sherry

pinch of cayenne

  1. Melt butter in skillet over medium high heat. Add tomatoes, onion, sugar, paste, 1/2 tsp salt and cook until tomatoes are dry and lightly browned 10-15 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly, whisk in one cup of broth, scraping up the browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Stir in remaining broth, reserved tomato juice, and bay leaves into cooker. Cover and cook 4-6 hours on low. Note: Due to timing issues I have cooked this for 8 hours on low and it was perfectly fine!
  4. Turn slow cooker to Warm setting. Discard bay leaves. Puree soup with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender then back to the crockpot. Stir in dairy, dry sherry and cayenne pepper.

 

 

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli and Grown up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

 

gluten free / vegetarian / dairy free option 

This meal represents to a tee both sides of my foodie mind. One the right side you have the very healthy, super easy vegetarian (with a meat option) pasta fagioli. And on my left side yo u have a decadent, gooey adult grilled cheese (which can also be made kid friendly with ease). This is a great mid week meal since the soup is done in the slow cooker and the grilled cheeses are super quick. I love these types of soup in early spring because they are still warm and hearty for the cold nights but at the same time is a light broth based soup perfect for those warmer days. The grilled cheese came about as a bit of a bribe… or better yet as a reward for my kids to eat the soup. And I can personally attest that this system worked like a charm since my five year old daugher ate it all, and even gave me a hug and said it was “a very good meal.” Score.

One reason we all love the slow cooker is because we can just “throw” it together, walk away, and 8 hours later we have a kitchen that smells like we’ve been cooking all day. Now, I don’t mean to be a negative nancy here but even though its a “throw and go” style of cooking  you still have to do whatever prep work comes with it. And if your mornings are anything like ours that prep work can sometimes be more than we can handle. So here are a few quick tips on how I make it as easy as possible. First, prep the night before by chopping your onion, garlic and cabbage/kale and put them into containers or baggies and store in the fridge. Also, set out your canned goods and your slow cooker. If you are adding meat to the dish, you can also go ahead and saute that the night before and refrigerate once it is cool. In terms of the grilled cheeses, you could also go ahead and carmalize your onions. That way in the morning, your prep time has been cut in half!! Now I know there are a few of you thinking “This lady is nuts…. I’m fried at the end of the day and the last thing I want to do is cook…again.” But hear me out….I wait until my kids are asleep, put on whatever music I feel in the mood for, perhaps I make a cocktail or crack open a cidre, and for the next 20 minutes I just jam, sip and chop. Before you know it, the prep work is done and your morning just got a whole lot easier!! Enjoy!! nom nom

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp Italian seasoning

3/4-1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black poepper

4  1/2 cups vegetable broth,

1/2 small green cabbage or 1 bunch of kale; stems removed, finely chopped (4 cups) For kids: the cabbage will be much softer aka”mushier” than the kale which typically makes it a better option. The kale adds a great heartiness to the soup and gives it more a rustic italian feel.

4 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1-2 medium zucchini, diced

1 (15-ounce) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup small GF pasta of your choice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Additional salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 lb of ground beef or 1/2 lb if you want to keep half of it vegetarian (see note below)

Optional toppings: Fresh parsley, shredded Parmesan cheese, or for a kick red pepper chili flakes

Note: In order for my kids to eat this soup I have to do two things. One, let them pick the noodle shape and two, add ground beef to the soup. I enjoy it both ways but since I am limiting the amount of meat I eat I choose to eat this vegetarian and save my meaty mains for something else.

  1. Drizzle the olive oil into a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring once or twice, for 1 minute. Splash in about 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour into slow cooker. NOTE: If you are pressed for time, you can leave the onions and garlic raw. But if you can, saute them! It definately enhances the flavor.
  2. To the slow cooker, add remaining vegetable broth, cabbage/kale, carrots, zuchinni, beans, and tomatoes. (If you’re adding 1 pound ground beef to the entire batch, you can cook and drain the ground beef and add it now.) Cook for 8 hours on low.
  3. About 20 minutes before the you are ready to serve soup bring a pot of water to boil. Add a drizzle of olive oil and your cup of GF pasta. Cook it according to package directions. Drain and set side. If you’re adding ground beef to half, set a large saucepan over medium heat, add the 1/2 pound ground beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, and no pink remains. Drain any excess fat. Transfer a little less than half the soup to the pan with the ground beef and let simmer, covered, until soup is heated through.
  4. Stir in red wine vinegar (divide between separate pots if doing the half-meaty version) and taste. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Place the pasta in your bowl and ladle the soup over it. Note: GF pasta loves to suck up all the liquid in soups. So we just make the noodles seperate and add them to the soup before serving. This way we don’t use a ton of extra stock trying to add liquids back in!
  6. Serve topped with chopped parsley and with Parmesan cheese if desired.

 

Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Carmelized Red Onions

Serving: 1 sandwich

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

*to make these dairy free just sub in your preferred non-dairy cheese slices

2 slices of GF bread; we usually use Trader Joe’s GF bread but Rudi’s Sandwich bread is good too!

1-2 tsp butter or butter spread

1 oz of soft plain goat cheese

1-2 oz Drunken goat cheese; you can get this type of cheese at most stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods

2 TBS carmelized red onions (see note below)

handful of spinach and arugula salad blend. If you cant find that either one by itself would work.

  1. Thinly slice one small red onion and set aside. Heat a small skillet over medium high heat and add 1 1/2 TBS olive oil to pan. Once the oil is hot add red onion slices and cook until soft; appx 10 minutes. Once soft add 1-2 TBS balsamic vinegar and simmer until balsamic vinegar is reduced to a glaze on the onions; an additional  10-15 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat and coat with a non stick spray or a light olive oil rub on the skillet. Butter one side of each piece of bread and lay butter side down on plate or cutting board to build your sandwich.
  3. Place the greens down first, followed by the cheese, and finish with the carmelized red onions on top.
  4. Place top piece of bread on sandwich and place in the hot skillet. Cook until bread is a golden brown, press down lightly on sandwich with the back of your spatula before flipping. This ensures the sandwich will stay together when you flip it. Cook until other side is golden brown. Remove from pan and slice sandwich diaganolly.

Variations: Proscuitto or Serrano ham give this sandwich the ultimate gourmet touch. 2 slices per sandwich.

Kid Version: If your kids are willing to try things, have them try the sandwich as is. The onions are sweeter because of the balsamic reduction and the greens are nicely masked by the cheese. If you have picky eaters, which I understand as I have one…. just take off the onions and greens. The goat cheese’s used are both mild so kids typically love this sandwich.