Cranberry Sauce

As a kid, my parents served canned, jelled cranberry sauce every year for Thanksgiving. I liked the flavor of it, but the jelly part always seemed a little odd. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized you can make cranberry sauce, and it’s really easy. After cutting way down on my sugar intake, though, the standard recipe pairing a 12-oz bag of cranberries with a cup of sugar seemed a little too sweet. This year, I created this sweet-tart version for our holiday feast.

cranberry_sauceCranberry Sauce

3 cups whole cranberries (340 g)
2 c orange juice

  1. Add cranberries and orange juice to a 2 qt pan and place over high heat
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for until thickened (about 60 min)

Yield 2 c cranberry sauce

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

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Tomato-Free Tomato Sauce

When I first gave up nightshades, I believed I would never be able to replace tomato-based sauces and I grieved deeply for my collection of Italian and Mexican recipes. After reading about the amazing tomato-free Nomato Sauce, I was inspired to try making my own version. It took many, many tries in the kitchen to get the flavors to blend well, but I finally found a combination of fruits and vegetables that really worked well. If you’ve seen my Cranberry-Beet Ketchup recipe, you already know that beets and cranberries stand in well for tomatoes. This sauce has a fuller body than the ketchup and makes a great base for my marinara, bolognese, and enchilada sauces. The next test: tomato soup!

Tomato-Free Tomato Saucetomato-free sauce

1 T olive oil
1 med onion, diced (110 g)
1 sm carrot, chopped (50 g)
1 med stalk celery, chopped (50 g)
2 sm fresh beets, chopped (170 g)
1½ c fresh or frozen cranberries (170 g)
1 t salt
4 c water, divided
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, and beets, and saute, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent
  3. Stir in cranberries and salt, cooking for an additional 60-90 seconds until fragrant
  4. Add 3 c water, bring to a boil, and reduce heat
  5. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beets are softened and sauce begins to thicken (2-3 hours)
  6. Blend until smooth and add remaining 1 c water

Yield 1 qt sauce

Updated to add: Try out this recipe in my Unbelievable Chili (click here for recipe)!

Do you have a favorite red sauce?

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Guacamole

I first discovered fresh guacamole when I was in college. It quickly became my go-to party dish. When I found out that I can’t tolerate nightshades, I thought perhaps my excellent guacamole days were over. I mean, I know you CAN make guacamole with just avocados and salt, but it’s really not the same. After some testing and tweaking, I finally have the proportions for my new recipe just right; I don’t even miss the tomatoes and peppers! I hope you like it as much as we do.

Guacamoleguacamole

Meat from 4 avocados, mashed (400 g)
1/3 c finely diced onion (60 g)
1 bunch cilantro (60 g)
2 cloves garlic, minced (6 g)
1 t lime juice
½ t salt

  1. Stir together all ingredients until well blended.
  2. Serve immediately or press cover directly on the surface of the dip to minimize browning.

Yield 2 cups

What do you like to dip in guacamole?

Unsweetened Apple Butter

A good friend has invited us over several times in the last month to help her harvest apples from the tree in her yard. Each visit, she sent us home with at least 10 lbs of apples. We all love apples, but after a couple of weeks my kids got a little tired of plain apples–even organic, fresh-from-the-tree fruit! I’m not a huge fan of applesauce, but I thought I’d try my hand at apple butter. I found an online tutorial at The Art of Homemaking, but it is sadly lacking in specifics, like how many apples, how much water, and exactly how long “many, many hours” might be. So, I started playing around on my own and found a recipe that works so well, my kids go at it with a spoon. My husband says it’s “tart” and an old friend to whom I’d gifted a jar described it as “almost savory,” but I just call it “delicious.”

unsweetened apple butterUnsweetened Apple Butter

3½ qt apples, cored and chopped (1.7 kg)
1 c water
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg

  1. Cook over low heat in a covered pot, stirring occasionally until apples have begun to break down (approx. 30-45 min)
  2. Uncover and continue simmering on low, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick enough to stick to the spoon when turned upside down (approx. 1-2 hrs)
  3. Press through a sieve to remove skins
  4. Can for storage or keep in refrigerator

Yield: 3¼ c apple butter

Notes:

  • The apples weigh about 5 lbs whole
  • If you prefer your apple butter a bit sweeter, you can substitute apple juice for the water

I’ve enjoyed this on muffins and added to a ham wrap. To what would you most like to add a little apple flavor?

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I feel almost silly posting a recipe that’s so simple, but these are so yummy, I just have to share. I never ate Brussels sprouts until I was an adult, and for years in no other preparation but covered with cream sauce. I can’t recall now what first inspired us to roast them, but I’m so glad we tried it! This dish is now a favorite among most members of the family. Even my two-year-old has actually begun to eat them, rather than merely chewing them up and spitting them out.

roasted_brusselsRoasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb fresh or frozen Brussels sprouts
2 T coconut oil, melted
¼ t salt
¼ t black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Arrange Brussels sprouts in a single layer in a 9 x 13 pan
  3. Drizzle sprouts with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 45-60 min, stirring once or twice during cooking, until sprouts have begun to caramelize a deep golden brown

Yield: 4 servings

What foods did you not discover until you were an adult?

Vanilla Fig Granola

I was always a big granola fan growing up. Mom used to make it in huge batches, baking it on three or four jelly roll pans. Grain-free granola is not an entirely new concept, but many recipes seem to require an awful lot of steps. Recently, my daughter begged for a package of premade nut and berry trail mix at the grocery store. On a whim, I tossed in some more nuts and poured almond milk over it. It was delicious! I figured starting with my own mix, adding some vanilla, and toasting it all would only make it better. If grins and empty bowls at breakfast are any indication, I was right.

vanila_fig_granolaVanilla Fig Granola

1¼ c blanched, slivered almonds (135 g)
½ c chopped walnuts (60 g)
½ c chopped pecans (60 g)
½ c raw pepitas (60 g)
½ c raw chopped cashews (60 g)
½ c minced dried figs (60 g)
1 c dried unsweetened coconut flakes (60 g)
1 T coconut oil, soft or melted
½ t vanilla
¼ t salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Stir together all ingredients until well combined
  3. Spread mixture into an even layer on an ungreased 12 x 18 baking sheet with sides
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring twice (I find it works well to stir after about 7 minutes and after another 5)
  5. Allow to cool completely before serving or storing

Yield: 1 lb granola (or 4 level cups)

Note: As this recipe has no added sweeteners, the granola is only lightly sweet. For a sweeter taste, try drizzling a little honey or maple syrup on top before serving.

What’s your favorite way to eat granola?

Strawberry Jam

Technically, this is a “strawberry spread” rather than a jam, as there is no added sugar. But we call it jam anyway. I first tried making a jelly-like substance after reading about recreating a PB&J burger at home on Clothes Make the Girl. It had never occurred to me that I could make PB&J without adding tons of sugar. From the first batch, my kids and I were hooked. Now when I make it, I have to hide the portion we don’t use right away in the back of the fridge or else I find small people hanging out in the kitchen eating it with a spoon!

strawberry_jamStrawberry Jam

2⅓ c fresh or frozen strawberries (340 g)
¼ c water

  1. Put berries and water in a small saucepan over low heat
  2. Stir occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and berries have broken down, about 45 min
  3. (optional) Blend until smooth

Yield: ¾ c jam

We like to use this jam for peanut butter sandwiches and to make strawberry cake. What do you like to do with your jam?