Mediterranean Chicken “Pasta”

Here’s another recipe that I developed to serve with rutabaga pasta. I decided to include the instructions for making it again. The rutabaga is quickly becoming my favorite vegetable… And while this does require a special piece of equipment, it’s totally worth it if you ask me.

So, what’s the difference between a rutabaga and a turnip?  I’ll save myself the trouble and just link to this article. If you’re too lazy to go read that link, turnips are more white and rutabagas are more yellow.

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Mediterranean Dry Rub
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Garlic Galore or use powdered garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 6 sundried tomato halves, chopped into thin strips
  • 4 baby artichoke hearts (bought mine at Costco), quartered and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Basil leaves for garnish
  • 1 large rutabaga
  • Pinch of salt


Mix the chicken and spices in a bowl and allow to sit in the fridge for a few hours. You can also freeze the meal at this stage.

Prepare the rutabaga pasta.

Peel the rutabaga and use a Paderno spiralizer to make rutabaga “pasta” (see photos).


Once the rutabaga is fully spiralized, use kitchen shears or a knife to cut the strands into lengths of about 12″. Heat water in a pasta pot to a boil and add a pinch of salt.

Prepare the chicken.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Brown the chicken. Add the sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts to the chicken and allow them to heat through. Add the butter and stir until melted. Now add the cream, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge all the yummy brown bits. Lower the heat, cover, and let the sauce simmer until the pasta is ready.

Dump the spiralized rutabaga into the boiling water. I cooked it for about 6-8 minutes (but I’m at 5400ft above sea level). Pluck a piece out from time to time and pull it off the stove when it reaches al dente (a little bit of bite) texture. Drain and serve as you would pasta. Garnish with basil or parsley.


Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I think I’m on an official lettuce wrap kick. I decided to develop this recipe to enjoy PF Changs-type lettuce wraps. Did I mention that between gluten free and no egg, that’s about the only dish at PF Changs that I can eat? Almost everything on the menu, even the GF menu, is marinated in something that contains egg.  Sigh… I like these almost as much as the PF Changs variety, and probably more so if I skipped the crispy rice noodles at the restaurant. 🙂

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1/4 cup gluten free Teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Garlic Galore, or use 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed oil or grapeseed oil (for the pan)
  • 1.5 lb ground chicken breast
  • 4 oz white mushroom, diced (1/2 package)
  • 1/2 can water chestnuts, diced
  • 1 butter lettuce, washed and leaves separated.
  • Optional additional toppings include: chopped bell peppers, green onions, additional teriyaki sauce for dipping.

Mix the Teriyaki sauce through salt in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat a large frying pan on medium. Cook the ground chicken with the grapeseed oil until no longer pink. While the chicken is browning, prep any optional toppings that you plan to serve with the lettuce wraps. Once the chicken is no longer pink, stir in the mushrooms and water chestnuts and allow to heat through. Stir in the sauce from the small bowl and heat through. I served this with additional teriyaki sauce and sliced green onions on top.

Korean Bulgogi Beef

This is one of those wonderful dishes that tastes so good but, when you order it out, you often wonder what you’re eating and if you are going to get “glutened”. This may take a little time to prepare at home, but trust me…  It’s SO worth it.

Korean Bulgogi Beef

  • Servings: 4
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  • 1.5 lbs New York strip steak
  • 2 tablespoons Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed Oil or regular grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Wildtree Garlic Galore seasoning (or you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup Tamari sauce (or gluten free soy sauce or gluten free Teriyaki sauce)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper (or more if you want it spicy)


In a large ziploc bag, combine the oil and seasonings and let them sit while you prepare the steak. I like to freeze the steaks for about an hour so that they are easy to slice. You are looking for paper-thin strips for the steak. So sharpen your favorite knife and go to town…  You can also ask an Asian grocery butcher if they sell pre-sliced Bulgogi meat. It might be rib eye or New York strip. Basically you want some marbling so that the meat isn’t dry and boring. When you are ready to cut the steak into strips, make sure that you slice it across the grain. This way the meat will be tender and easy to chew.


Once the meat has been cut into thin strips, allow it to marinate in the bag with oils/seasonings for several hours or up to a day in the refrigerator. You can also freeze this.

Make sure that you thaw it completely before cooking. You will be cooking individual slices in the pan, and you don’t want to be tearing apart partially frozen bits of meat. Preheat a skillet or wok to medium-high heat. Use a small amount of oil to grease the pan, and cook the steak in batches. Make sure that you don’t crowd the pan, since that will lead to the meat steaming rather than getting nice and brown. Cook on each side for about 30 seconds, then pile up the meat onto a dinner plate. I use tongs when cooking this. You will need to work in batches. Once all the meat is browned, toss it all in the pan for a final heat-through.

Serve with rice and sauteed vegetables. Tip: but frozen plain rice at Trader Joe’s or other grocery stores. It takes three minutes in the microwave.

Note: this is traditionally served with half-moon slices of onions. While that’s delicious, I don’t tend to cook with onions because they make my husband sick. We had an onion-free version of this and it was delicious. If you choose to add onions, feel free to add them to the marinade. Cook them in the pan before starting the steak, then add them back to the pan when you do the final heat-through before serving.



Roasted Chicken Breast “Deli” Meat

Have you ever read the ingredients on deli meat? Thought about the price per pound? Why not make this for dinner one night and then slice it up for lunch for the rest of the week? You could even slice it up and put it alongside other healthy snacks on the anytime shelf (see link). I don’t normally like buying really large chicken breasts, but this is one recipe where I make an exception to that rule. In fact, for this recipe, the larger the better.  Just make sure not to overcook them. When the thermometer reads 165F, you are done. You don’t want this being rubbery and overcooked.

  • Servings: 4
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  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast (2 large chicken breasts)
  • 2 teaspoons Wildtree Lemon Rosemary seasoning (or seasoning of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons Wildtree Garlic Grapeseed Oil or regular grapeseed oil


In a large ziploc bag, combine the oil, seasonings, and chicken. Allow to marinate for several hours or up to a day in the refrigerator. You can also freeze this. It’s one of my son’s favorite freezer meals. You can also double this recipe, make some for dinner, and then slice the leftovers for lunch meat for the rest of the week.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grab a sheet pan and some aluminum foil. Line the sheet pan with foil. Place the chicken breasts on the foil-line pan and roast, turning once every 6-8 minutes, until the meat registers 165F. It will take about 20-22 minutes total, depending on your oven. When the meat registers 165F, immediately turn off the oven and allow the chicken to sit for about an hour. Slice thinly and store in a tightly sealed glass container. Use for sandwiches, salads. I especially like this between butter lettuce sandwiches leaves.

Store in the refrigerator for up to several days. It will likely not last that long. You can also freeze this after it’s cooked, but only do that if you didn’t freeze it before cooking.

Feel free to experiment with other seasonings like Cajun Blend, Java Rub, Chipotle Lime, or whatever else you’d like.


Gluten-free Egg-free Italian Meatballs

Buckle up. These are amazing… Three people have told me that. Low carb, no eggs, no gluten. This is my new go-to recipe for meatballs. It does have dairy. I just hope they freeze well. More on that in a few days and I will update. 

So…  the chicken meatballs I developed a few weeks ago weren’t tender at all, so I decided to step back and try a recipe with ground beef.  After a bunch of recipe research, I decided to use ricotta cheese for moisture. This recipe is also centered around a 1.5lb package of ground beef from Costco. This recipe makes 30 meatballs, which is about perfect considering I only wanted to use one pan. This would be awesome with my rutabaga pasta. If you do that, note that this recipe includes the sauce for the meatballs. Each serving is 5 meatballs…

Gluten-free Egg-free Italian Meatballs

  • Servings: 6
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  • 1 tablespoon flax seed
  • 2.5 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Smoked Tomato and Mozzeralla Blend
  • 1/4 cup Wildtree European Dipping Oil – Balsamic
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • One 15oz. container whole milk ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup potato flakes
  • One 24oz. jar marinara sauce
  • 6oz water
Grab the largest saucepan that you have that has a good lid. By the end of this recipe, you will be cramming 30 meatballs in it and it’s best if they can fit in one layer. I used our large cast iron pan and a copper lid that happens to fit it.
Get your big food processor out. Trust me, this recipe is worth the clean up. You’ll also need two small bowls. In the first bowl, mix the flax seed and water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. In the second bowl, mix the 1/4 cup European Dipping Oil and the Smoked Tomato and Mozzeralla Blend.
Allow both to sit while you start adding ingredients to the food processor.
Put the cutter blade in the food processor bowl. Combine the following ingredients on in the food processor bowl: ground beef, ricotta, parsley, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and potato flakes. Add both the flax seed mixture and the dipping oil mixture and pulse to combine. You want to pulse it enough so that everything is mixed. It will look like a pinkish paste when you are done, and that is OK!
Preheat the stove to medium-low heat and grab a cutting board and two dinner plates. Use a spoon to scoop out small portions of the meat mixture and put them on the cutting board. I find it easiest to work in batches of 10.  Make 10 meatballs and then start them browing in the pan. While those are browning on one side, make 10 more meatballs and put them on the first dinner plate. Flip the meatballs over once using a silicone spatula. These are so tender that they will fall apart unless you are very careful. Let them brown on the second side. Don’t worry about the pinkish hue that’s left around the middle because they will finish cooking in the sauce later. They should look like the photo below. Remove them to the second dinner plate and start browning the second batch.
Continue until all three batches have been browned. Scrape the bottom of the pan, add the marinara sauce and the 6oz water (I put the water in the jar and shake it up to loosen any good stuff that is left). Put all the meatballs back in the pan and allow them to come to a simmer.
Turn the heat to low and cover the pan. I simmered mine for 10 minutes before they came up to temperature (145F).  They will firm up and shrink a little bit.  You can freeze small portions of these in Ziploc containers.  I doubt we’ll have any to freeze.  Yes, they are that good.  OK.  I set aside some to freeze because I want to make sure they bounce back alright.
IMG_9819 IMG_9820

Cauliflower Rice

This is a simple dish that can be easy to do well but tricky to do really well. You don’t want cauliflower rice to be soggy, nor do you want it to be sticky. I solve both these problems by processing it while uncooked in my food processor and then baking it (but covered) in the oven. You can tweak this with multiple spices to take it in multiple directions. This recipe is for plain rice. Make sure that you start with a fresh cauliflower. I use frozen cauliflower for my mashed cauliflower, but fresh is really key in this recipe.


Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 4
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  • 1 head fresh cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon Wildtree Roasted Garlic Grapeseed Oil (or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon water


Preheat the oven to 375F and grab a covered baking dish, cutting board, food processor, and a chef’s knife.

Chop the cauliflower into florets and divide into two batches. Pulse the first batch in your large food processor until the cauliflower reaches the consistency of rice. Repeat with the second batch of cauliflower.

Combine the cauliflower, grapeseed oil, salt, and water in the baking dish and cover.

Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes, stir, then cook for another 10 minutes. Taste to see if you like this consistency, and cook longer if you want it more tender.

Serve with your favorite dish just as you would with rice. I’ll follow up next week with a Spanish rice version to serve with Mexican.  Mmmmm….




Wildtree Mac and Cheese Sauce

Have you ever read the back of a package of popular mac and cheese and seen the list of ingredients in the cheese sauce packet?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my child eating Yellow 5 OR Yellow 6, whatever those are.  As a result, I’ve really taken to the Wildtree Kids Cheez blend, although I make a sauce differently from the directions on the bottle. Since I guess that officially counts as a recipe, here goes.

Wildtree Mac and Cheese Sauce

  • Servings: 4
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Grab a small saucepan and turn on the stove to medium heat. Melt the butter and dump in the Wildtree Kids Cheez.  Add the milk and stir with a whisk until blended. Continue heating through until the mixture just starts to bubble and thicken.
Serve over broccoli or mix with pasta.

Low-carb Dairy-free Beef Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is one of those dishes that seems easy to make without dairy, until you realize how tough it is to make a good creamy mashed potato without milk, butter, or cream. Since I’m not a proponent of strange ingredients, those vegan butter substitutes kinda scare me. Add the extra challenge of making it low carb and compliance with Ideal Protein (by using mashed cauliflower), and the whole thing becomes exponentially harder. After a lot of research and thinking, I’ve finally cracked the creamy mashed cauliflower recipe. See the link here for the recipe.

To make this recipe for shepherd’s pie, you’ll need at least half the recipe for my mashed cauliflower. In fact, that recipe is so good that I’m going to at least double it next time I make it.  It does require the food processor, so I’ll have to do it in batches, but that’s ok with me.

This dish can be assembled and refrigerated up to two days before you plan to eat it. It’s also a good candidate for freezing, although you have to either freeze one of your good dishes or use disposable cake pan. This would work well in a disposable 8″ or 9″ square cake pan.

Low-carb Dairy-free Beef Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: 6
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  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1.5 lbs ground beef, between 85% and 90% fat
  • 1 teaspoon powdered onion
  • 2 teaspoons Wildtree Garlic Galore OR use granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Tip: by it in a tube and don’t struggle with canned tomato paste ever again.
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce. Make sure that you pick one that is gluten free.  I like Wan Ja Shan Organic Gluten Free Worcestershire Sauce.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini, about one small zucchini.
  • 1 turnip, cut into 1/4″ cubes.


Grab a large frying pan, chef’s knife, cutting board, and a 8″ or 9″ square baking pan, preferably one that’s not too shallow. You’ll also need a box grater.

You’ll need at least one half recipe of the mashed cauliflower listed here. If you’ve previously frozen the mashed cauliflower, make sure that you’ve thawed it out prior to starting. If you plan to freeze the shepherd’s pie, I suggest making the mashed cauliflower the day before and putting it in the fridge in a storage container until you are ready to assemble everything. Never freeze things twice…

Brown the ground beef over medium heat in the frying pan. While it’s browning, chop the turnips and grate the zucchini. Once the ground beef is no longer pink, add all the spices and vegetables. Cover, lower the heat to low, and let the mixture cook until the turnips are tender, about 15 minutes.

You are now ready to assemble the casserole. Spoon the meat mixture into the baking dish, then top with the mashed cauliflower. You can top it with parsley or sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 400F until the top is browned nicely and it’s heated through, about 20 minutes. I normally broil it at the end for a few minutes. Tip: Use a teaspoon to make little fluted edges around the edge of the baking dish. This will allow the heat to escape so that you don’t have a bubbling giant mess on the bottom of the oven.


Serve with your favorite vegetables.



Dairy-free Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

It’s been a week since we got back from Spring Break and somehow I feel like we are still recovering. I finally sat down and did some menu planning this morning and perhaps that’s what I needed to finally feel like we are back on track.

There are few recipes that I develop and immediately plan to make again. There are also very few recipes that I start immediately dreaming about all the things that I’m going to serve it with. This morning I created one of those rare recipes that will become a family favorite and staple. So glad that this will go live tomorrow. Can’t wait to make this into a topping for shepherd’s pie. Also dreaming about braised short ribs with this.

Face it. There are many things that make a great recipe, but they all come down to either ingredients or technique. Ingredients are easy: keep them simple, use good stuff, and don’t buy anything with a giant list of ingredients or things you can’t pronounce. Technique is different. It comes down to knowing about cooking times, which cooking method to use, and when to use which kitchen gadget. It can also mean knowing how to add flavor, what ingredients can impact or achieve a specific texture, and how things will react when they freeze. The technique part of tweaking recipes is sometimes a challenge.  It’s also the part of recipe creation that I enjoy the most. It involves research recipes, reading reviews, thinking about other ways to achieve the same thing using different ingredients. I credit Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen for helping me to learn to think about cooking this way. It probably didn’t hurt that both of my parents are chemists…

Enter the mashed cauliflower challenge. Most dairy-free recipes for mashed cauliflower risk being grainy, watery, or both. And neither of those two adjectives sounds like a good mashed cauliflower recipe to me. So that was the challenge. Most recipes solve these problems by calling on a combination of ingredients (think cream cheese, butter, heavy cream) or technique (such as using a food processor instead of a manual potato masher). While these are all great, I wanted to maximize flavor while keeping the list of ingredients as short as possible. I also wanted to make this dairy free since that is the main challenge. It’s not that hard to make creamy something if you add cream cheese, for example. Where’s the challenge in that?

I use chicken broth to cook the cauliflower, then discard it because I don’t want the extra moisture. If you want to use vegetable broth, go right ahead. The garlic cooks in the liquid, again adding flavor. Many of the little garlic bits will stick to the cauliflower, so don’t despair. I then boost the flavor with salt, pepper, and even more garlic. I wanted to make sure that the texture wouldn’t get soupy or grainy over time, which is why I decided to add just a few tablespoons of potato flakes at the end. I did taste it before and after that addition, and it really makes a world of difference. The dried potato flakes also soak up some more liquid, so they contribute to both texture and flavor.

I portioned this out into two containers, one for tonight to serve with rotisserie chicken, and the other to make a topping for a shepherd’s pie that I’m making in a few days. I lined a disposable baking tray (Dollar Tree is great for these) with plastic wrap, then spooned in the mashed cauliflower, then wrapped it tight to prevent freezer burn. I placed the whole thing in the freezer. In doing so, I am also testing this for potential mass batches to freeze…

Dairy-free Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

  • Servings: 6
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  • Two 1-lb bags frozen cauliflower. I use the 365 organic bags from Whole Foods.
  • 2 cups organic chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons really good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Wildtree garlic galore seasoning, or use garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons instant potato flakes. I like the instant mashed potatoes from Whole Foods.


Grab a large pot, colander, large mixing bowl, and your big food processor. Put the cauliflower, chicken broth, and chopped garlic into the large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until cooked through. I use a paring knife to test whether it’s cooked. The knife should easily slide into the cauliflower. Once cooked, put the colander in the mixing bowl and dump the cauliflower in to drain.  Leave for 15 minutes to make sure that as much liquid as possible leaves the mixture.

Add the cauliflower to the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the olive oil and the other seasonings, and turn on the food processor.  Stop it every 10 seconds or so, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue until the mixture is creamy. Add the potato flakes and mix using the food processor until just combined.


Note: this is Ideal Protein Phase 1 friendly and Paleo if you skip the potato flakes.



Meal planning tips for a Sunday

It’s Sunday and that means meal-planning day.  We aren’t doing a large Easter thing today. I’m going to focus my energy for a few hours on getting ready for the week and planning out dinners for tonight, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I think sometimes people feel overwhelmed by meal planning because they think you have to do a ton of it at one time. Just start small and work your way up. I only feel like planning half the week right now, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

For me, the proteins are always easy because I do freezer cooking. If there is a day that I’m not prepared for, we simply grab a rotisserie chicken. Since today is planning day but not a giant cooking day, I like to think about pouring my energy into one or two side dishes that will do double duty for me during the rest of the week. For side dishes during the week, most of the time I simply match the veg cooking style with that of the main dish. I am low carb and B and D aren’t, so that just means I cook one additional veg for them that I don’t eat.

Here is my plan for today and the first half of the week.

Today: make chicken/vegetable soup for lunches. I will make mashed cauliflower, some for tonight and extra knowing that I’ll be making a shepherd’s pie some day this week. I’ll probably cook up the ground beef and assemble the shepherd’s pie for Tuesday. I might also assemble some tortellini/meatball freezer meals for Dylan, since that’s been his favorite meal lately on “choice night”.

Here are planned meals:

Sunday: steamed veg (carrots, broccoli, and green beans) + rotisserie chicken + mashed garlic cauliflower.

Monday: Weather is forecasted to be nice, so I’ve already pulled out the freezer meal for Wildtree best burgers. With this we will have grilled veg. (zucchini, asparagus, and bell peppers). Organic frozen fries for hubby and child.

Tuesday: GF, DF, EF shepherd’s pie with mashed cauliflower topping… Steamed veg (carrots, broccoli, and green beans).

Wednesday: Wildtree Lemon Rosemary chicken + roasted veg. (turnips, brussels sprouts). Hubby and child get roasted potatoes and carrots.
I’ve already pulled my two freezer meals out for tomorrow and Wednesday and put them in the “meat bucket” in the fridge. See picture… Basically it’s a plastic container that is big enough to hold the normal-sized meat containers from grocery stores. Mine is Sterilite and I found it at Walmart.  Our rule around here is that we have to think about meals every Sunday. I’m not allowed to buy fresh meat while there is something in the meat bucket, unless it’s something that I plan to prep during the first half of the week.

Today I will be buying ground beef and various vegetables. I was considering having the shepherd’s pie on Wednesday, but just rearranged so that I cook the meat today and we eat it on Tuesday. I didn’t want that much time to go by with the dish sitting in the fridge. I’m about to hit send on my Instacart list, but I’m just going to a mental run-down of needed staples in addition to the meals that I have planned through Wednesday.  I just added yogurt drinks, sandwich bread, kefir, red wine vinegar, and some other things to the list…

Please post your recipe planning advice/tips.  And if anyone finds a modern version of this wonderful thing featured on Downton Abbey, please let me know!