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No Gluten!

Main Dishes

Delicious, Versatile Salad as Meal!

August 5, 2019

This dish is easy and delicious as well as versatile, to wit: it can be served cold or warm, and as a main or a side dish. Remove the shrimp and replace with tofu and, it’s not only vegetarian but vegan!  Because the ratio of rice to vegetables is high on the veg, it’s also a pretty low-carb and also gluten free!

My version here has some shrimp, but you can replace that with more vegetables, a vegan protein, and more quinoa to rice.  Play with it. It’s forgiving except, when making a salad with rice, you do NOT want warm or hot-off-the-stove rice. So read on to see what I did here.

A.  PREPARE YOUR RICE

  1. Prepare 1 cup of Jasmine Rice with 1 to 1-1/2 cups of stock. See my notes just below:Rice preparation can be personal. If you use a rice cooker, great! Just make your rice as always.I a mix of Quinoa & Jasmine rice, rinsed. Then I steam it up in a pot with 1-1/2 cups of stock to 1 cup of rice. For added flavor, I use chicken or vegetarian stock and also, I usually add about 7 hot pepper flakes and dried onion flakes.


    I steam my rice for about 15-20 minutes  — then just turn off the stove and let it sit while I continue prepping other foods.

  2. IMPORTANT: Spread your cooked rice out in a shallow pan & cool it off in the fridge or freezer. By the time you have chopped up the rest of the salad, your rice will be cool enough to add! You do not want to use warm rice when you add it to a salad. Ditto, by the way, for Chinese Fried Rice! Use cooled rice.

B.  WHILE YOUR RICE IS STEAMING UP, CHOP THESE & TOSS INTO A LARGE BOWL:

  1. 1 Large, ripe, red, tomato
  2. 1/2 Sweet, Vidalia onion
  3. 1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro
  4. 1-1/2 Cups finely shredded cabbage (my supermarket sells it in bags)

C.  IF YOU ARE NOT A VEGETARIAN, DO THIS:

  1. Sautee 24 small to medium shrimp in a bit of olive oil  & butter with a bit of spicy Creole or other spicy salt.  Sautee ONLY about 3 minutes, or until your shirmp are opaque, not clear and gray. Pull off the stove and cool. (Vegetable-based eaters can add Soy or other protein products.)

D.  THE FINAL PRODUCT!

Into your LARGE SALAD BOWL where you already have your chopped ingredients, ADD:

  1. The now-cooled rice
  2. 2 cups of fresh Arugula
  3. Juice of 1/2 a Lemon or Lime
  4. 1  or 1-1/2 Tbsp. of Rice Vinegar
  5. 1 Tps. of Sesame Oil (Sesame Oil is powerful, be careful!)
  6. 1 Tsp.  of Thai Fish Sauce (Don’t worry if you haven’t any!)
  7. DASH of Soy Sauce (Too much will brown your salad.
  8. Greek or Creole Salad to taste!

Toss all ingredients with clean hands or spoons.
Serve cold or warmed.

Comfort Food

Grown-Up Comfort Food!

March 12, 2019

Sometimes you need the comfort of a good, warm, creamy Mac ‘n Cheese, but with an adult flair.  My creamy Mushroom Risotto with white wine and parmesan fits the bill.  And it was SO easy!

I started mine on the stove top — and you can complete it here —  too. But I popped my mixture into an electric pressure cooker for 8 speedy minutes and … voila! Creamy, mushroom risotto as comforting as any mac ‘n cheese, but with a grown-up taste.

ALL YOU NEED: Pressure Cooker OR Stove Pot

All the measures below were actually estimated by me. This is pretty forgiving!

  • 1 cup of rice (Arborio Rice OR White Rice. I used 50-50 Basmati and Quinoa
  • 3/4 cup chopped mushroom
  • 1 tooth of chopped garlic
  • some butter
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, depending on your taste
  • A few sprigs or fresh thyme or 1/2 a tsp dry thyme
  • cream
  • salt & pepper

HERE IS WHAT I DID

  1. In a tablespoon of butter, I sautéed 1 smashed tooth of garlic with 1 cup of 1/2 Rice, 1/2 Quinoa. (You can use 1 cup of all Arborio rice, or regular rice, or a mixture.)
  2. To this, I added 3/4 cup of chopped mushrooms.
  3. Then I added a  1/2 cube of chicken or vegetable stock.
  4. Sautée on medium high until the rice begins to turn whiteish and your mushrooms soften, about 2 – 3  minutes.
  5. I put the mixture  in a pressure cooker and added 3/4 cup of white wine, 3/4  a cup of water. To be honest, I eye-balled the liquids to about 1-1/2 cups.If you are doing this on the stovetop, just add your liquid to your pot, cover and steam on medium low for about 17 minutes.
  6. Into the pressure cooker, I added a few whole, fresh sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp of dry thyme).
  7. I set my cooker on high for 8 minutes. (Again, on a stovetop, cover for about 17 minutes on low-medium.)
  8. When you release the pressure, stir in 1/4 cup of cream, a few dots of butter, salt and pepper to taste, and top with few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese.
Comfort Food

Flourless Pizza Crust!

January 5, 2019

Ah…good people…this one comes to you with lots of pictures!

My friend,  Susan,  mentioned, that cauliflower crust is labor-intensive. Well, I recently discovered that making pizza from store-bought dough is quite time-consuming.  With store bought, ready-made dough, you still have to knead it, rest and proof it so you can work it into shape without it springing back on you.  Not exactly a time-saver!

NOTE: Cauliflower crust is super easy to form and, to make it easier on you, many grocery stores offer bagged, “ready-riced” cauliflower in both the fresh and the freezer sections. Obviously, this saves a lot of  and mess!  Also, I found that if  prepare a bunch of  cauliflower in advance, I can freeze some and have my own ready-made cauliflower. It really makes the process quite fast!  I do recommend the fast route!

For those of you who own a fancy food processor, it won’t take long to grind down your cauliflower into rice-sized bits. You do have to chop the head into pieces! Believe it or not, the only food processor I own is a $12 mini chopper so I riced my cauliflower in batches.  Also, you can use an old fashioned cheese grater.

Obviously, from these photos, I did not make anything close to a vegetarian pizza.
But that would be so easy. It is only a matter of selecting veggie toppings.

My crust came out great! It was so good, I made another the next day, using pesto in place of tomato sauce.

So if you want a veggie-intensive, keto-friendly, gluten-free pizza crust, follow these steps below.

MAKING CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place 2 cups riced cauliflower (purchased, grated, or processed) a frying pan.
  • Keep on low heat, stirring so it does not turn brown. This removes liquid. You will see the steam rising. I stirred mine for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Place your dried and heated cauliflower in a shallow dish and stick it in the freezer while you prepare the rest of your pizza.
  • Into a new bowl, add 1-1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff from the cardboard carton, use the grated cheese from the cheese section).
  • Add to this 1 beaten egg and incorporate
  • When your cauliflower is cooled, add it to your cheese/egg mix and incorporate well.
  • Onto any sheet you like for baking pizza, place parchment paper. Place your crust mix into the center and press to form a nice round shape, about 1/8 inch thick.

  • Place your crust into your 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You will see the crust edges beginning to turn brown.
  • Remove it from the oven and let it sit a minute or two.
  • Have your toppings and sauce at the ready.
    TIP: If you don’t want to use a tomato sauce, try using  Pesto Sauce instead!
         
  • Now, ladle on about half a cup of your favorite tomato sauce (or use Pesto!), covering your crust but not so much as to make it soggy.  (I used one from a jar. You can purchase pizza sauce as well, make your own, or simply spread on 1/2 a cup of Hunts plain old tomato sauce from a can. It’s your call! ) 
  • Next, sprinkle a generous amount of Mozzarella cheese.
  • Next come your toppings. Meat, no meat, as you wish. Pizza your way!
    I had Mozzarella cheese; sautéed  mushrooms; fresh oregano; sausage and pepperoni.
  • Last, a bit more cheese, for show.
  • Pop it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes and… voila! You have flourless pizza!
Main Dishes

My Secret to Moist Chicken Parmesan

December 7, 2018

When I recently discovered that Chicken Parmesan is one of a friend’s very favorite dishes, I was dismayed. Traditionally, this is a chicken breast dish and when it comes to chicken, I am not a breast girl!  I find the breast cut dry and lacking in flavor. Then, I thought up a way to prepare it so it comes out of the oven moist,  tender and flavorful.

My trick? Instead of the breast, I used pounded, boneless chicken thighs.  I swear by this method!  The chicken comes out nearly fork-tender and juicy. Not only that, when you pound it just enough, you won’t need to divulge to any picky “white meat only” eaters that they are dining on the thigh. Trust me: they won’t even ask.

Here is what I did.

TENDER CHICKEN PARMESAN

Chicken Preparation:  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

  • Place 4 – 6 boneless chicken thighs in a plastic grocery bag or between plastic sheets.  Be sure they are unfolded.
  • Using a good tool (I use a flat, river rock. But a mallet or the side of your rolling pin will do. If you have to resort to using a wine bottle, be careful not to break it!), gently pound and flatten each piece to about 1/3 of an inch. Do not over flatten!  You want to pound them just enough to make each piece tender and even in thickness.
  • Salt and pepper all sides of your chicken pieces before proceeding to the breading stage, below.

Breading:

  • Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil or butter in a large skillet on medium heat.
  • Immerse each piece of chicken into
    1. Flour (shake off extra)
    2. Egg wash (1 beaten egg per every 2 pieces of chicken, so 2 eggs for 4 pieces of chicken and so forth).
    3.  Panko. Be sure to press the Panko bread crumbs into the chicken, fullycovering it.
  • Sauté chicken a few minutes on each side, until the Panko crust is beginning to brown.

Baking:

  • Place chicken in a buttered baking dish, either side up.
  • Spoon on 2 – 3 tablespoons of bottled or home-made tomato sauce to cover chicken top.
  • Optional: Dab on pesto sauce if you have some handy, or add a few leaves of fresh basil.
  • Cover chicken with Mozzarella (whatever type you have, fresh, bagged, either way).
  • Cover chicken once again with grated Parmesan.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes and serve.

TIPS:
If you don’t have Panko crumbs, use any bread crumb. If you can add some crushed corn flakes to your bread crumbs, it will be extra crispy.

My Daily Kitchen

Asian Inspired Orange Ginger Salad Dressing

August 27, 2018

What is it about that salad dressing they serve at our local Hibachi restaurants that makes my mouth water? It’s just delicious; it’s tangy, a little sweet, a little salty and I always want more.
My guess is it has a combination of sesame and ginger but I can never quite put my finger on it.

On a whim, I whipped up my own version, deciding to add orange for a little brightness.
I think it came out rather well.
Here  is what I did:

The Salad

  • 4 cups of washed lettuces of your liking. I had on on hand arugula and Chinese cabbage, but I would have added ice berg for that satisfying crunch.

Now on top of our lovely lettuces, arrange the following:

  • 1/2 Shredded or finely sliced carrot
  • 1/4 cup sliced mushroom (I used a small Portobella).
  • 2 inch piece of  cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, sprinkled over the salad
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • I did not add a tomato, but you might want to! It’s pretty and most people expect tomato.

The Dressing:  Add the following ingredients into a blender or smoothie mixer:

  • 1/4 medium sweet onion
  • 1 large (or 2 small) tooth fresh garlic
  • 1 small, chopped carrot or 1/2 a larger one. Cube this so it will blend easily and not get stuck in the blades.)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (I use low sodium but I prefer the saltier!)
  • 1 tablesppon sesame oil  (sesame oil is powerful so … careful!)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 dash lemon juice (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 3 full springs fresh cilantro (stems and all)
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons Tahini / sesame paste  (start with 1 and add if you like more)
  • 1 tablespoon minced or chopped ginger.

Whir it all around until well-blended.
Taste!


What do you think? Do you want to add a little of this or a dash of that?
Simply adjust to taste until you feel satisfied! It’s subjective. We have no rules.

Tips!  

  • Try adding toasted Sesame or Flax seeds if you like. (Flax is most beneficial if ground.)
  • Ginger root keeps well in the freezer. You can cut off a knob as needed. Peal and mince. I do like th convenience of the already minced ginger I can purchase at our supermarket.
  • To make a full meal: Arrange cooked shrimp  (blackend or steamed, as you wish) or chicken breast on top to make it a meal.  Try it with a portion of seared Salmon!
  • Save your left-over dressing in a jar in the fridge.
    Try marinating some shrimp of chicken breast in the left over for a jazzed up flavor!.
Main Dishes

Delicious & Versatile Creamed Spinach!

June 5, 2018

Creamed spinach is a great way to add vegetables while keeping carbs and calories to a healthy minimum.  Plus… this recipe fits into almost any diet:  Not only is it grain- and gluten-free, but also Vegetarian, Paleo and Keto friendly!  It works as a side-dish, but I love it topped with a poached egg, a la “Eggs Florentine.”  When I’m really hungry, I top the egg with a slice of cheese and broil for a minute.

The recipe below yields about 6 cups, or …12, half-cup servings at 160 calories and very few carbs.

In addition to the ingredients featured in the photo, I also used about 1-1/2 tablespoons of Quinoa flour to thicken, which adds a negligible amount of carbs.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 9-oz packages of baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 large Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (feel free to substitute Half ‘n Half)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp good butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (not shown)
  • 1-1/2 tbsp flour (I prefer gluten-free flour)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste (I ground about 20 times)

Preparing

  1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet
  2. Add chopped onion and salt, then sauté until onions are soft and clear
  3. Toss in all the chopped spinach and sauté, turning and stirring until soft
  4. Add the cream, stir, then add the parmesan and incorporate well
  5. Simmer about 3 minutes, then sprinkle in flour to thicken, pepper to taste and simmer until the mix reaches the desired consistency.

TIP: Portion out the large batch into individual half- or one-cup servings for freezing!
They thaw quickly,  so you’ll always have a handy, healthy side vegetable!.

Candidly Yours

DID YOU KNOW? REFLUX MEDS CAN CAUSE DANGEROUS DEFICIENCY

March 31, 2018

Secretly, I thought I might be crawling toward death and I wasn’t at all sure why. I had been so depleted, for months, and I was quietly frightened enough that I began writing the names of my loved ones on the backs of treasured  heirlooms in case I kicked the bucket in the night.

Looking back, so much was going on but I never strung the issues together. It just felt like my body and my mind were going down like a slowly but inevitably sinking ship.

I’ve always had insomnia, even as a small child, but for months, I had been almost unable to sleep at all and, if sleep came in spurts, it was never for more than 90 minutes, a couple of times in one night.  Yes, I had been living and working on about 3 hours of sleep for over a year.

Even sexier,  I had developed creepy, wrestlers legs. And to add to the fun, my muscles started going into painful spasms, my  eyes felt like they had grains of sand in them but a trip to the eye doctor and liquid tears did nothing.  The heart was palpitating, I was dizzy, my hair was falling out and my joints hurt so much that I could hardly walk in the mornings. Beyond dragging my sad self to work, I couldn’t get out of bed or get enthusiastic to do anything at all. Not even dance, my favorite activity, ever. Ugh. This is not the stuff for an alluring dating profile page!

Those who know me, know I generally a happy chick,  high-strung for sure, even hyper, but still a happy lady and this helped me be able to  ignore for too long, or hide all the above from anyone around me. Then, on Christmas Day, my stress level and my ability to cope with the regular bustle of guests was so overwhelming I felt embarrassed. I was a freak!

Blessedly, a few weeks into the New Year, a shocking blood pressure attack forced a reluctant visit to the doctor where it was suggested I have my vitamin B12 level checked.

B12 is an essential vitamin. Without it, one can develop pernicious anemia, neurological issues, even Alzheimers. It is detrimental to go without B12 yet oddly, it is not part of a routine blood panel. Still, it is easily fixed if caught in time.

In countries that follow a mostly vegetarian diet, such as India, B12 deficiency and it’s consequences, is common. Vegetarians and vegans are told they must  take a B12 supplement or consume foods fortified with the vitamin if they are to maintain  healthy levels. A close friend of mine became vegan when in her 20s. After a time, she began passing out. It was discovered she was B12 deficient and today, decades later, has a permanent loss of feeling on one of her little toes!

Since today, B12 is easily obtained in supplements and  fortified foods such as cereals, vegetarians can make a good case for giving up meat altogether.  Still, doctors tell me that it is best to obtain essential vitamins through diet over supplements, if possible, and B12 is naturally provided only in meats, eggs and dairy.  Okay … well … Ahem! I eat meat, eggs and dairy. So why, then  did I become dangerously deficient? And could this be happening to you? Well, if you suffer from acid reflux, it just might!

What many don’t know, and what no doctor told me 12 years ago when I began taking acid reducing meds daily,  is that people who suffer from acid reflux and related issues, and who are on a prolonged regimen of proton pump inhibitors such as Nexus or Prylosec, can develop a B12 deficiency because the stomach is not producing enough acid for absorbtion. This is likely how I became deficient. If you are taking reflux meds, think about having your B12 checked with your next blood panel.

I am happy always to cater to my vegan and vegetarian friends. But whenever I have tried to go without meat, it just does not feel right for me. I don’t eat a lot of meat, and I am conscious about where my meat is produced, how it is fed and slaughtered. Ditto for eggs. But I just don’t feel well when I remove it from my diet completely. And it begs, for me, the question that follows…

If Vitamin B12 is not readily available in plants, were we ever intended to be 100% vegetarian, as some claim?  If our creator had wanted us to abstain from meat altogether, would he not have provided B12 in plant foods?”  

I started taking high doses of B12 daily, without fail. You can get your B12 in a regular vitamin but for me, a sublingual or liquid delivery is more efficient because of  malabsorption in the stomach.  After just a few days, I began to sleep! Within 2 weeks, or even sooner, every one of the symptoms described above had begun markedly to disappear. Within 4 weeks, I was out dancing again! And my stress level is noticeably down and manageable.

Today, I take a medium dose of B12 daily. About once a month, I add liver to my mostly Paleo diet.To make liver taste almost like a good filet mignon, I soak it for about an hour in milk which helps remove that metallic after-taste.  I lightly dredge the meat in Quinoa flour, then I simply sauté in butter with a little salt and pepper. I top it off with caramelized onions. Delicious.

 

 

Comfort Food

20 Minute Lentil Heaven

January 26, 2018

These days, it’s a challenge to find a dish you can serve to everyone, from your manliest meat-eater to your weight-watcher, the animal-conscious vegan or even a diabetic. Here’s a fast and tasty way to provide bowl full of heavily health in only 20 minutes that’s good enough and healthy enough for almost any diet!

Red Lentils are low in fat, loaded with protein and fiber, and chock full of heart-healthy folate and manganese. They are also pretty to look at, which makes them festive enough for company. The best part? They are extremely easy to prepare because, unlike green or brown lentils, red lentils are very quick cooking, i.e., no soaking,  no waiting.

With it’s fresh splash of lemon and bright mint, this recipe will bring a bit of the Mediterranean to your soup bowl and it will keep you feeling full for hours.

EASY RED LENTIL SOUP

In a small soup pot, boil 2 cups of salted water and add to it:

  • 1 Cup red lentils
  • 1 large, or 2 small, minced garlic teeth
  • 1 Tsp. dried, flaked onion

Simmer about 15 minutes, until lentils are soft. Now add:

  • 1 Can “no salt” diced tomatoes. Your choice, but I prefer to add & control my own salt.
  • 1 Tsp. fresh Italian flat parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 Tsp. fresh or jarred lemon juice. Use more or less, to taste.

Simmer soup about 5 more minutes. Add salt to taste and serve.

Notes:  Garnish with fresh Mint or Parsley. Use fresh tomatoes, if you like. Add carrots if that appeals to you.  I did not need to use any type of flavor “cute” or powder as the lentils, garlic, salt I used and fresh herbs created a lot of flavor!

Comfort Food

You Won’t Believe it’s Vegan!

October 12, 2017

Okay people. I’m not gonna lie.
I can’t believe I made this and I also I can not believe it is vegan, gluten-free, low-cal, spicy and deliciously filling!

This soup was inspired by my beautiful friend, Sanchia, who, as a “Taoist Vegan,” abstains from eating the five pungent vegetables; green onion; garlic; onion; chives; and leeks.

I am not nearly as evolved as my friend so as I said, this is a “Sanchia Inspired” dish.
I did use quite a bit of garlic and even some cheap,  dried onion flakes.
I’m just not ready to give up the pungent…

Also, for meat-eaters who have a hard time getting excited about diving into a pile of vegetables, this is a truly delicious way to fill up on healthy squash that tastes smokey, spicy, and dare I say it? more than a tad Manly!

NOTE:  If you’re a vegetarian who consumes dairy, go ahead and use regular sour cream and even add some Monterrey cheese at the end, melted on top!

HERE IS WHAT TO DO:

  1. Turn your oven on to 400.
  2. Into any oven-friendly dish or tray of your choice, place:
    1 Spaghetti Squash (or any type of Squash of your liking), crudely cut into about 3 or 4 pieces, skin on. That’s right. No fussing with peeling.
    1 Large, Red Pepper, cut into about 3 chunks, pith and seeds removed.
    3 Large garlic teeth, skin on (you will easily remove the skin once roasted).
  3. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of White Truffle Oil OR Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the vegetables, and some Sea Salt.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  5. Now, using a cloth to hold the hot squash, scrape out your softened squash meat with a large, sharp-edged spoon into a large soup pot.  This is going to go onto the stove.
  6. Pop the softened, roasted garlic teeth right out of their skin and toss them into the soup pot.
  7. Place the roasted peppers into the pot as well.
  8. Add 2 cups of water and two teaspoons of vegetable broth base or cubes.
  9. Now, into the pot with the Squash, Peppers, Garlic & Water, ADD:
    1/2 teaspoon of Chipotle Powder (or a teaspoon of Chipotle Chilis from a jar or can)
    1/4 teaspoon of Chili Powder
    1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger root
    1/4 teaspoon onion flakes (mine, no kidding, are from a Dollar Store)
  10. Take out your hand blender (or toss the concoction into a good blender) and blend until very smooth.
  11. Simmer on low until you are happy with the flavor, about 20-30 minutes.
  12. Ladle your soup into a bowl.
  13. Swirl of Dollop a tablespoon of Vegan Sour Cream.
  14. Shed a few fresh Thyme Leaves onto the top. If you don’t have fresh thyme, that’s ok. Just sprinkle fresh parsley or oregano for decoration and a bit of flavor.
    I have a sense that a bit of Fresh Mint could be very interesting!

TIP: To create my “swirl” design, all I did was spoon some of my sour cream mixture into a small plastic baggie. Then I snipped a corner and piped! Easy, breazy!

This would be lovely served with some warm, grilled herb bread.

SUBSTITUTIONS:

If you are not vegan, just use regular sour cream!
If you don’t have fresh ginger, use powder ginger! Ditto for the thyme, but try to grind it up before adding if it’s dry. This will bring out the flavor.

 

Main Dishes

Make-Ahead Pear Bake (w/Vegan Option)

September 28, 2017

Entertaining is exhausting.  By the time I’ve done the planning, shopping, cleaning, arranging, last-minute cooking to have everything timed just right and served hot, not only am I filling the atmosphere with my nervous fussing, I’m  already on to onto the dishes and I’ve missed out on my own party. My solution? Delicious, make-ahead meals that taste out of this world.

I was able to make this entire dish, including my rice and salad, the night before my gathering.
The day of the party, with my meal cooked, tables set, I went to work a full day.

Once home, I simply popped  my make-ahead pear bake into the oven an hour before my guests were to arrive.  20 minutes before, I simple tossed 1/2 a cup of water into the rice (made the night before and  left on the stovetop, unrefrigerated), poured myself a glass of wine and waited for the eaters to show.

It turned out some people were arriving late but no need to panic! You can leave this dish in the oven until the cows come home. It only gets better. And the rice, once warmed, will happily stay that way on the stovetop, covered. Besides, you are going to spoon piping hot broth from the main dish onto the rice so it doesn’t have to be tongue-singeing hot.

My Goddaughter, Connie from New Zealand, inspired the  recipe below whilst visiting us in Panama.
She claimed it was an easy, fail-safe dish that company just adores. And she was correct.
In her recipe, Connie used local vegetables, pears and pork chops.

I decided to change it a bit, using sausage and chicken, and to brown my meats first.
It was a good call! This was absolutely scrumptious, the sauce had some sophisticated, developed flavors,  and the whole meal was an easy self-serve! So, I got to sit with my company and enjoy the conversation.

The bonus is that this dish is even better the next day and, it’s gluten-free if you omit serving with a roll!

Feel free to change this recipe up or down to suit your personal diet but whatever you decide, you must keep the pears, wine, sage and thyme. I am including a VEGETARIAN/VEGAN option below! So veggie folk, scroll down!  

My peeps and I are meat-eaters, so here is what I did.

Baked Pears with Sausage & Chicken

  • 3 Mild Italian Sausages, cut into halves to make 6
  • 3 Hot Italian Sausages, cut into halves to make 6
  • 4 Large chicken breasts, split into halves, making 8  (Or use 6-8 chicken thighs)
  1.  Brown all the meats in 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil into a large frying pan
  2.  Set them into a very large baking pan. I used a big lasagna pan.
  3.  Now, into the lasagna or baking dish, and arranged evenly, add:
  • 6 small new potatoes, halved
  • 1 Sweet potato, chopped into large chunks
    (If you dislike sweet potatoes, don’t worry. You will like them in this dish. I promise!)
  • 10 or 12 chunks of  peeled carrots, cut to 2″ long pieces
  • 1 Large, sweet visalia onion, cut into 8 chunks
  • 5 Bartlet pears, sliced into half-moon wedges. Ripe is great but semi-ripe will work.

4.  Into the juices from the meats in your saucepan, sautée:

  • 4 large cloves of garlic, just crushed
  • 3 or 4 cups of white wine
  • 1 cube of chicken stock (vegetarians, just use a vegetable flavor)

5.  Pour the hot wine, garlic & broth mixture over the entire meat and pears dish.
6.  Sprinkle 2 tbsp. of fresh thyme and 1 tbsp. of fresh, cut sage over the entire dish
7.  Salt and Pepper to taste

Bake 335 for 3 hours.
Serve over rice, with a soft dinner roll for dipping into the delicious broth, and a side of salad.

TIP:  When laying an array of food for self-serve, or buffet style, arrange your table so that your guests can serve from both sides of the table. (In other words, do not have your table up against a wall.) All you have to do is add a utensil on each end of the dish. This speeds up service remarkably!

VEGETARIAN/VEGAN OPTION.  Instead of chicken broth, use your favorite vegetarian flavoring.  And in place of the meat, use large chunks of dried bread. Any type of bread you like but they must dry, in the style of a traditional stuffing.  

You don’t have to purchase packages of stuffing mix, but you can.  I prefer cutting up chunks of a favorite bread and place them on a tray into a low oven until they are very firm. Also, this  is a perfect way to make good use of older bread.

Add the dried bread  chunks in after you have cut and distributed your veggies in the pan.  Now, toss  the bread in with all your vegetables and distribute evenly.

Now you are ready to  pour your wine mixture on top.  It is essential that you add the very fresh thyme and sage. You might want to use more sweet potato as well. This will be delicious. I made something similar for thanksgiving last year.