Sloppy Beef


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sloppy beef served on a slice of GF vegan Rice Millet Bread made by Food for Life

The male given name in my family of origin is Joseph, and most of them have gone by the nickname of Joe.  Any time we have Sloppy Joes for dinner, my dad would pitch a mock fit of resentment about the term.  So around my house, we changed the name to Sloppy Beef to solve this problem.  We also would make this out of ground buffalo on occasion, so that was called Sloppy Buffalo.  To further complicate the naming of this dish, we also have “Daddy Sloppy Beef” and “Mama Sloppy Beef.”  My ex makes Sloppy Joes with beef, sometimes onion, ketchup and chili powder.  My recipe is the more complex one below that includes vegetables.  My ex does not like celery seed, so when he was eating it, I never put it in, but I love the taste it adds.

My kids tend to be horrified by the idea of “hiding” vegetables in food.  They point out that they can see them and taste them so therefore they are not hidden and the grown-ups who think they are pulling one over on the kids are really not.  I have to laugh at their honesty.  This is one of the “hidden” ways that I can easily get vegetables into them, though.  I guess if you add enough ketchup to anything it becomes edible to some of the kid population.  My daughter still won’t eat this, though.

This recipe is also flexible on the veggies.  I didn’t have a yellow squash for the version I made for the pictures, so I just used two zucchini.  I bought a red pepper because they were all the same price and I like the color it adds, but if green peppers are cheaper, then that’s what I use.  I like seeing if I can get red, orange, yellow and green colors in the recipe, or if purple peppers are in season, I can get purple in there, too.  The cup estimates are just that:  Estimates to give you a general idea of how much to add.  If you end up with 1.75 cups of squash and 1.75 cups of carrots, it will be fine.  I never actually measure the veggies when I’m making the recipe for my family.

IMG_0949-psSloppy Beef

2 pounds 95% organic or grass-fed ground beef or buffalo
1 medium organic yellow or white onion, diced (about 1.5 cups)
1 organic red pepper, diced (about 1.5 cups) (or any other bell pepper)
1 small organic zucchini, grated (about 1 cup)
1 small organic yellow squash, grated (about 1 cup)
2 small organic carrots, grated (about 1.5 cups)
1 tablespoon organic dry mustard
2 tablespoons organic chili powder (or less if you don’t like it spicy)
1 teaspoon organic celery seed (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper (optional)
About ¾ to 1 cup organic ketchup

Brown the beef, onion, and pepper over medium heat.  When it is about half way cooked, add in the zucchini, squash and carrots and continue to brown.  Once the beef is browned and all the vegetables are soft, add in the seasonings and the ketchup.  You should add enough ketchup to make the sloppy beef as sloppy as you prefer.

Serve over bread, tortillas, or rice.

Serves 4-6, depending on how many of them are starving carnivorous male children.



Mushroom Summer Squash Soup


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IMG_0297-psAfter five months, I’m back!  I had some really rough health months in the time I haven’t been posting, so my blog fell by the wayside.  I did take pictures of some of the recipes I created during that time, though, so I have recipes to share.  I just need to get them up on the web.  Easier said than done!

One of the changes that happened during that five month absence is that I removed black pepper from my diet.  I started getting migraines again, and I wasn’t sure why.  Through the process of elimination, I figured out black pepper was one of the main culprits.  I stopped eating black pepper right before Christmas, and within three weeks I had lost an entire dress size with no other changes.  Weight issues involve far more than just calories, sugar and exercise, but our society often fails to recognize that.

So for the past five months, I’ve been eating simply and eating without pepper.  It eliminated a few more of the very few processed shortcut foods I had (like a few of the Amy’s frozen dinners I could eat), but I’m probably better off without them.  It’s made me become more creative with seasonings rather than just relying on black pepper like so many of us are trained to do.

The soup below was a “use up what’s in the fridge” creation.  Summer squash are about to be overrunning CSA boxes locally, and squash recipes are always appreciated at this time of year.  This recipe could easily use zucchini, yellow, or zephyr squash or any other similar soft squash that you end up with.  Likewise, any type of mushroom that you prefer would work well.

This soup freezes well.


Mushroom Summer Squash Soup

Splash of canola oil
1 large organic white or yellow onion, diced
1 organic green chile including seeds, sliced
4-5 cloves of organic garlic, chopped roughly
3 cups sliced organic mushrooms (I used cremini)
7 cups organic summer squash, cubed in 1 inch-ish chunks  (I used zucchini  and zephyr)
½ cup fresh organic parsley, chopped roughly
1 tablespoon fresh organic rosemary, chopped roughly
6 cups organic chicken broth

Saute the onions, chile and garlic in the canola oil until the onions are almost translucent.  Add in the mushrooms, squash, parsley, rosemary, and chicken broth.  Cook over medium heat until the squash are tender.  Once softened, use an immersion blender to blenderize the soup.   If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer in small batches to a regular blender, being careful not to overfill.

Makes about 3 quarts.


GFDF Lemon Coconut Bread



I’ve been gluten free for over two years.  One of the first recipes I converted when I started baking gluten free was this great recipe from Farmgirl Fare.  Since it was one of my first conversion attempts, it doesn’t use one of the standard flour mixtures I now use in my GF baking.

It’s a dense bread, but it’s good.  The batter will be very thick and you will be able to scoop it up and plop it into the pan.  The gluten free version tastes best warm in my opinion.

This batch was made with the rest of the delicious lemons from Jenny of Websy Daisy.


GFDF Lemon Coconut Bread

Makes one 8-inch loaf

Adapted from Farmgirl Fare.

1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup organic tapioca starch
1/2 cup organic cornstarch
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup organic coconut flour
1/2 cup organic white rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cups organic evaporated cane juice (aka sugar)
2 tablespoons organic lemon zest (give or take)
2 cups finely shredded organic unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup organic palm shortening
2 organic eggs
3/4 cup organic rice milk
1/2 cup fresh organic lemon juice
2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil an 8×4 inch loaf pan. (I used organic canola oil.)

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients on the list starting at xanthan gum and ending with the shredded coconut.  Cut the shortening in the way you would with a pie crust.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, rice milk, lemon juice, and vanilla.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool and serve.  Or not.  It’s great warm.


GFDF Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


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Not long ago, Jenny of Websy Daisy posted to her Facebook friends that she had had a bumper crop of 192 lemons on her tree in her yard.  She was offering to share, and I happily took her up on the offer of fresh local lemons.  Their smell was amazing (to the point of being overpowering) when they first arrived at our house.  Grocery store lemons don’t smell that fabulous!

These muffins are mildly lemon flavored.  I found they become more lemony after sitting for 24 hours.  However, if you would like a stronger lemon flavor to your muffins, add another 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract or another teaspoon of lemon zest.


GFDF Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Greatly adapted from Bon Appétit, May 2009

1/2 cup almond meal*
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup organic brown rice flour
1/2 cup organic tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons organic poppy seeds
2/3 cup organic rice milk
6 tablespoons fresh organic lemon juice
1 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup organic palm shortening
1 tablespoon organic lemon zest (about 2 large lemons)
2 large organic eggs
1 teaspoon organic lemon extract
1 teaspoon organic GF vanilla extract

Organic powdered sugar
Organic canola oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil muffin tins with canola oil. Using electric mixer, beat eggs, lemon juice, sugar, palm shortening, lemon zest, lemon flavor and vanilla extract in a large bowl.  Using a spoon, mix almond meal, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, baking soda and poppy seeds in a medium bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir in rice milk.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full.  Bake muffins about 20 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pans and cool.  Generously sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Makes 14-16 muffins.

*Almonds are not true nuts but carry a cross-contamination risk. To make this recipe nut free, substitute organic millet flour.


GF Cranberry Banana Muffins


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Last fall at this time, I went through an insane cranberry craving.  I created several different cranberry baked goods.  I also stocked up on cranberries and froze them so that I would have them all year.  Luckily I still have several bags in my freezer stash, so I’m able to start posting recipes on my blog just before the organic cranberries are showing up in the stores.  Cranberry season should be starting soon!


GF Cranberry Banana Muffins

Wet ingredients:
1/2 cup organic granulated sugar
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 cup organic butter, softened*
1/4 cup organic rice milk
2 organic eggs
1 teaspoon organic GF vanilla extract

Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup organic tapioca starch
1/2 cup organic brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond meal**
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon organic cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon organic nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup organic mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1.5 cups organic coarsely chopped cranberries (1/2 of a 12 oz bag)
1/2 cup organic chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)**

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Oil 18 muffin tins (I used organic canola oil).

In a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients with a hand mixer.  In a small bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.   Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir thoroughly.  Mix in the bananas, cranberries, and optional nuts.  Scoop batter evenly between about 18 muffin tins; they should be about 2/3 full.  Bake for 25 minutes at 350F.

*To make this dairy free, substitute palm shortening for the butter.

**To make this nut free, substitute millet flour for the almond meal (which carries a cross-contamination risk) and eliminate the nuts.


Vegetable Lentil Soup


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While we’re back to warm weather in Central Texas at the moment, I’m sure it will get cold again… eventually.  This made a hearty soup earlier this week when the temperatures were a little cooler.


Vegetable Lentil Soup

Adapted from “Easiest Black-Eyed Peas and Lentil Soup” in 1001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes by Sue Spitler

3 medium organic carrots, sliced thinly
3 stalks organic celery, sliced
1 medium yellow or white organic onion, diced
4 cloves organic garlic, minced
2 tablespoons organic olive oil
8 cups organic GF low sodium vegetable or chicken broth*
2 cups filtered water
2 teaspoons dried organic thyme
1.5 teaspoons dried organic marjoram
1 teaspoon dried organic oregano
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon organic black pepper
1 organic bay leaf
1-15 ounce can organic white beans or black-eyed peas
1.5 cup dried organic lentils (I used a combination of red and brown)
1-15 ounce can Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes
2 cups packed organic greens, cut in small pieces (chard, kale or collard greens work well)

Sauté carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in oil in large pot for a few minutes until they soften a bit (or stick to the pan… that’s my signal it’s time to move on to the next step).  Add broth, water, herbs, beans, lentils, and tomatoes.  Cook over medium heat until the carrots and lentils are soft (45-60 minutes).  Stir in the greens and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes until the greens are done.  Discard bay leaf before serving.

Makes about 4 quarts.

*If making this vegan, obviously choose the vegetable broth rather than the chicken broth.


Happy Halloween!


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When my twins were two, we began trick or treating with them.  However, they had food sensitivities to dairy, soy, and corn at that point.  If you read the labels on most mainstream candy, that pretty much eliminates everything.  Furthermore, neither of them liked chocolate until recently.  That was definitely not from my part of their gene pool.  To  top it all off, I did not want to be loading them up with artificial flavors and colors since one of them did not do well with those ingredients.  So we were left in a quandary about how to do trick or treating when they couldn’t or wouldn’t eat anything they received.

That first year, my solution was to plant “treats” for them at a few neighbors’ houses.  Books, pencils, erasers—that kind of thing.  We went to the houses, did our trick or treating, and then my son announced, “This is fun!  Let’s do more houses.”  Um, well, no.  I didn’t have any more “safe” houses for us to go to.  We lured them home to look at their new goodies instead.

The next year, we let them collect candy, but we had prepped them in advance that they would “get” to trade in their candy for a new and wonderful toy when they got back to our house.  Since they never really ate candy, the trade was an obvious upgrade from their point of view.  They were really happy with their new toys.

And so it continued for many years with their younger brother eventually joining in the fun.  They would collect candy and trade it in for toys.  We would take the candy they collected, put it out in a bowl on our front porch, and let the local teenagers take it away.  One year the teenagers took the bowl which irked me to no end, so now we leave the candy in a paper bag.  Another year the teenagers failed to take the candy at all which utterly surprised me.  I offered it up on the free section of Craigslist, and within 10 minutes of posting, a local homeschooling teenager had collected it off of my front porch.  I know there are other options like taking it to a local dentist who collects the candy for sending to troops abroad.  Some years Mobile Loaves and Fishes has accepted donations to distribute with the meals they provide for those in need.  However, with my illness, I just haven’t had the energy to do more than put it on the porch and let someone else take it away!

In more recent years as the food sensitivities have waned and my kids have gotten older, we’ve also started buying organic candy from the bulk bins at Whole Foods and including that as part of the trade-in deal.  They surrender most of their loot for organic candy and a game.

However you celebrate, be safe tonight.


GFDF Pumpkin Pie


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There’s a red feather coming out of the pumpkin on the left. I was afraid to look inside and find out what it is.

When my kids were young, they had both soy and dairy sensitivities.  When I tried to find a replacement recipe for a traditional pumpkin pie, all of the non-dairy recipes substituted tofu which didn’t work for us.  I spent many years honing this recipe.  It doesn’t taste like a pumpkin pie made with condensed sweetened milk, but it is really good.  My kids adore it.  We make it all year, not just in the fall.  Amazon carries the organic canned pumpkin year ’round.

At one point I baked my own fresh pumpkin and made a pie out of that.  I couldn’t tell the difference and neither could my kids.  For the amount of work it took to bake and puree the pumpkin, I decided to stick with canned pumpkin.

Please note this recipe requires overnight refrigeration before serving.

Confession time:  The pie pictured above is in a gluten containing crust.  The gluten free crust comes out looking very similar, I promise!

GFDF Pumpkin Pie

9 Inch Crust:
1/4 cup organic tapioca starch
1/4 cup organic brown rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup almond meal*
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 c organic palm shortening
1 organic egg
Water as needed

1-15 ounce can organic pumpkin
2/3 cup organic sucanat
2 organic eggs
3/4 cup organic rice milk
1 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon organic ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon organic salt
1/4 teaspoon organic ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425F.

For the crust:  Mix together the tapioca starch, brown rice flour, sorghum flour, almond meal, xanthan gum, ½ t cinnamon, and ¼ t salt.  Cut in the shortening.  Lightly beat the egg and then add to the flour mixture.  If needed, add additional water until the crust is moist and forming a dry ball.  Press the pie crust into a 9” pie pan.  Set aside.

For the filling:  Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl with a whisk.  Pour into the pie crust.  Bake for 15 min at 425; reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 40 min.  Bake on a cookie sheet to avoid spills.

Allow to cool and then refrigerate overnight before serving.

*Almonds are technically not nuts but contain a cross-contamination risk.  To make this nut free, substitute millet flour.


GFDF Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Muffins


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Hi.  Long time no blog.  The thing about chronic health problems is that they are chronic.  Every once in a while, they tend to get really bad, and then things like blogging have to fall by the wayside.  But I’m back, and I hope it’s not temporary.

These were inspired by one of my wacky cravings.  The recipe originally came from the Betty Crocker’s 40th anniversary edition pumpkin bread recipe, but you’d be hard pressed to tell that now.


GFDF Pumpkin Cranberry Nut Muffins

Wet Ingredients:
1-15 ounce can organic pumpkin
1 cup organic sucanat
2/3 cup organic cane sugar
2/3 cup organic canola oil
4 organic eggs
1 tablespoons organic GF vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:
3/4 cup organic tapioca starch
3/4 cup organic brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup organic millet flour or almond meal
1.5 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon organic ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon organic ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoon baking soda

Stir Ins:
1/2 cup organic dried sweetened cranberries, coarsely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup organic pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly oil 24 muffin tins.  I use organic canola oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.  In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Stir in optional nuts and cranberries.  Fill 24 muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for a few minutes before removing from the muffin pans.


GFDF Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup


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[Update 7/7/12]

I realize that the soup picture above isn’t the most attractive looking; I used brown lentils in it which isn’t quite as pretty as when I make it with red lentils. It’s hard to make many blended soups look pretty, but this one tastes really good.  One of my sons doesn’t like beans in any other form, but he will willingly eat this soup.  He really likes to add in chunks of leftover baked potatoes to add a bit more texture and substance to it.  We all like to add in smoked sausage.

I often double this recipe so we have lots of leftovers.  It freezes and reheats well.

GFDF Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

a few tablespoons of organic olive oil
1 large organic white or yellow onion, diced (about 1.5 cups)
4 teaspoons fresh organic ginger, minced
4 large cloves organic garlic, minced
1 serrano or jalapeño or other hot pepper of your choice, sliced thin
1 tablespoon organic curry powder
1.5 teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon organic black pepper
1 large or 2 medium organic sweet potato, peeled and diced
1.5 cups organic dried lentils (I use brown or red)
4 cups organic GF chicken broth (I use Imagine or Pacific)*
2 cups water
1 can light coconut milk
½ cup loosely packed fresh organic cilantro leaves

Optional add-ins:
1 pound natural smoked sausage, cut in pieces and cooked
2 cups baked organic white/red/yellow potato, diced

Sauté the diced onion in olive oil in the bottom of a soup pan over medium heat. When the onion is partially cooked, add in the ginger, garlic, and pepper and continue cooking for a few minutes more.  Add in the curry powder, salt, black pepper, sweet potatoes, lentils, broth, and water.  Allow to continue cooking until the sweet potatoes and lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.  Add in the coconut milk and cilantro leaves and cook for a few minutes more.

Remove from heat.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, allow the soup to cool and blend in small batches in a regular blender, taking care not to burn yourself.

If adding in the optional sausage or potato, do so right before serving.

*Use vegetable broth and don’t add in the smoked sausage to veganize this recipe.