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Triple Coconut Doughnuts (or Muffins)

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I’m not much of a doughnut girl, but when I get a hankering for one, it’s usually on a Saturday. I had one such a hankering this last Saturday, and decided to see if I could throw some together with the ingredients I had on hand. I found some coconut in the pantry and threw these together real quick, amplifying the coconut flavor with coconut milk and coconut oil, topping with a coconut glaze and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. And…perfection! Dense and moist, the perfect doughnut or muffin texture, and they keep well to enjoy leftovers the next day.

Triple Coconut Doughnuts or Muffins

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¼ cup virgin coconut oil, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup coconut milk, or whole milk
¾ cup sweetened, shredded coconut

Glaze
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
Coconut milk or heavy cream, for thinning

½ cup sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease doughnut pan(s) and/or line muffin pans with paper or foil liners; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream coconut oil and sugar for two minutes. Add egg and extracts and beat another minute. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a separate bowl. Add it alternately to the creamed mixture with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the coconut.

Spoon into doughnut or muffin pans, filling ¾ full. Bake doughnuts 10 minutes, muffins 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

While they are baking, toast the coconut and make the glaze. Place the 1/2 cup coconut in a skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently until golden. Remove from heat and prepare the glaze by mixing the oil and powdered sugar together as well as possible with a fork in a small bowl. Add coconut milk or cream a little at a time until glaze consistency.

Once doughnuts and/or muffins are done, turn out onto wire rack and spoon glaze over the top. If they are cool enough to handle, you can also turn them upside down to dip into the glaze while they are warm. After glazing each, sprinkle with coconut while the glaze is still wet. Enjoy warm or allow to cool. For storing leftovers, allow to cool completely before storing in a Ziploc bag with the air pressed out.

Veronica’s notes: while the doughnuts came out of the pan with ease, perhaps due to the shorter bake time (sugar hadn’t had time to caramelize onto the pan), this batter tends to stick to even the most nonstick muffin pans and I highly recommend using liners if baking in a muffin pan. Also, the almond extract in this tends to flavor it as much as, or a little more than, the coconut. It is a nice compliment, but if you’d like the coconut flavor to come through more, especially if using cow’s milk instead of coconut, use 1/4 teaspoon or replace with more vanilla. Last, please do NOT substitute coconut milk beverage (found in the refrigerated non-dairy section) for coconut milk. Use the full-fat canned stuff.

Zucchini-Beef Enchiladas

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Enchiladas are one of my favorite foods, but they are a bit filling and heavy for summer fare.  I had a few zucchini to use up, and decided to try adding one to enchiladas.  Worked great, added some low-calorie nutrition & a little extra texture without detracting from the yummy flavor.  These were a hit, and we all liked them so much, I know I will never make my Mom’s Beef and Cheese Enchiladas without zucchini added in again.  And pssst: you can totally “bake” these in the microwave – doesn’t take long, just until the cheese is melted.

Zucchini-Beef Enchiladas

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1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, quartered & chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
2 1/2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning (or 1 packet store-bought)
2 tablespoons water
15 corn tortillas
1 (8 oz) package cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 (19 oz) can red enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil, swirling to coat bottom of pan.  Add the zucchini and cook about ten minutes, stirring often, or until soft.  Remove to a plate, then add the ground beef and cook until browned.  Drain and add taco seasoning, water, and the cooked zucchini.  Stir well and cook a few minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Wrap four tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. Set aside a cup of the cheese to use for the top. Take tortillas one at a time, keeping the others wrapped, and put a little cheese in a line down the middle, then some of the beef mixture, about 2-3 tablespoons. Roll up tight and place in prepared dish. Repeat, warming additional tortillas as necessary, until all the filling is used. Pour enchilada sauce over the top, then sprinkle the remaining cheese over. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Veronica’s note: I know it’s so much easier to buy pre-shredded cheese, but you just will never get the same glorious melt that you get with cheese you’ve shredded yourself. It’s worth the few minutes and extra clean up. Also, if you’d like to “bake” these in the microwave, it’s best to divide the recipe between two smaller microwave-safe dishes. Keep an eye on it and just let it go until the cheese is melted – should take five minutes or less. I prefer to do a few at a time on a plate.

Last-Minute Lasagna


This isn’t the greatest lasagna of all time, but it’s really good (quality does depend on the products you use), and it’s really FAST!  And that makes it a winner in my book. I served this to company (Nana Donna, AKA Momma Donna), and she said she had no idea it wasn’t real lasagna and she really enjoyed it a lot! So if you ever need a meal in a hurry, this one’s a great one to try.

Last-Minute Lasagna

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1 (24-26 oz) jar pasta sauce
2 (16 oz) containers frozen large, cheese or beef ravioli
1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed dry
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup (2 oz) grated Parmesan
Fresh basil or parsley for garnish, if desired

Heat oven to 350° F.  Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray, spread 1/3 of sauce to cover the bottom of dish. Cover with half of the ravioli, half of the cheeses, all of spinach, 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat with another layer of ravioli (not all the ravioli may be needed), spread with remaining sauce and top with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe source: Real Simple, as seen on Nutmeg Notebook

Other Italian favorites…

Lasagna & Garlic Bread – really good stuff! Possibly my favorite lasagna recipe.

shrimp-scallop-scampi-4-6-10Shrimp & Scallop Scampi with Linguini – a restaurant-worthy meal.

Really Great Spaghetti & Meatballs – this is the easiest way to make spaghetti and meatballs, and it’s just fantastic!

Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

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It’s been a while since I made this cake, but it was so incredibly good that I still remember the feel and taste of it in my mouth. You know a recipe is good when the end result leaves that kind of impression. Soft, warm, gooey, sweet, rich, nutty, crunchy, creamy, pillowy – basically, everything good. A whole lotta yum.  There is frosting mixed into the cake. And then it’s topped with even more goodness. Need I say more?

Pecan Praline Cake with Butter Sauce

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Cake:
1 (15 oz) box Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1 (16 oz) tub Coconut Pecan Frosting
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sauce:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9×13 pan with oil and set aside.

Combine all cake ingredients except the pecans and beat together until well combined, a minute or two, then stir in the pecans.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Rest on a cooling rack while you make the sauce.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the sweetened condensed milk.  Continue to stir until heated through, then stir in the pecans.  Pour over the whole cake, or individual slices.

Recipe source: The Country Cook

More cake mix favorites:

Chocolate Italian Love Cake – perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Easy Italian Cream Cake – chock full of pecans, coconut, and maraschino cherries, topped with cream cheese frosting. To die for.

Cookies ‘n Cream Cake/Cupcakes. I didn’t like Oreos until this cake.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal

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I like keeping things simple and easy at meal time, especially breakfast, so when I discovered how much Joshua enjoys baked oatmeal, I decided to make more of it.  A pan lasts several days and it’s so nice to be able to just take out a square and heat it in the microwave. Bam. Breakfast is done. He takes care of the rest.

I made this in an attempt to make a baked oatmeal that really would be reminiscent of cookie dough, since the pumpkin didn’t really have that feel to me (granted, I may have over baked it a tad, as I tend to do a lot these days). And wow, you guys, I nailed it.  *pats self on shoulder* ;) This stuff is warm and gooey and melty and soft and creamy and really, a lot like a thick, warm cookie dough. Dennis even ate it for dessert after dinner one day, with some whipped cream on top. It’s that good. And low in sugar, or sugar-free if you want to leave the chocolate chips out. You would never guess, it’s just so good, but feel free to use sugar if you prefer. This one is definitely worth a try.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Oatmeal

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2 cups quick-cooking oats
4 packets stevia*
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup milk
1 (4 oz) snack cup of unsweetened applesauce (heaping 1/3 cup)
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup chocolate chips, plus more for top if desired

Mix all ingredients together well until blended. Pour batter into an 8×8 pan sprayed with oil. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

*If you want to use sugar, I’d recommend brown sugar for a more cookie dough-like flavor. I’m not certain on the amount, but I’d try 1/3 cup and add more to your taste if needed.

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I have to show you guys what this looks like with the flash – the photo is cheaper-looking but this really shows off how cookie dough-like it is. It’s soooo soft and I just couldn’t capture that gooey softness as well with natural light. Honestly, sometimes the flash is the only way to show the true colors & textures. Amateur photographer problems. :)

Butternut Squash Lasagna

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My friend, Lynn, shared this recipe with me in the early fall when my grass was still green, and as you can see from the green in my photos, I made it immediately.  I’m so glad I’m finally getting around to sharing it before winter squash and hot comfort meals are forgotten in favor of salads and meals that can be cooked without turning the oven on.  This is definitely one to try before winter gives way to spring.

Lynn said she makes it every fall, and sometimes adds Italian sausage and caramelized onions to hers. Well, those additions didn’t sound optional to me and I’m so glad I found the time to add them.  This is a rather involved recipe but definitely worth the time. Utter deliciousness! Slightly sweet & creamy squash, gooey cheese, with layers of flavor from the onions and sausage…a big winner with our whole family.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

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3-5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 (1 1/2- to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 lb. Italian sausage
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
Pinch of nutmeg
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add the cubed squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet, cover, and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer the squash to a mixing bowl or food processor and mash. Season the squash purée to taste with more salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat 3-4 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions slowly turn brown and caramelized, adding additional oil if necessary, about 30-40 minutes. Stir into the squash.

Cook the Italian sausage in a skillet over medium heat, breaking it up and crumbling it with a spatula until cooked through. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Add the nutmeg. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 13×9 glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Cover the bottom of pan with one layer of lasagna noodles. Spread half of the squash purée over the noodle, then half of the sausage. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the cheese. Repeat layering once more, finishing with a layer of noodles covered only by white sauce.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove cover, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna and continue baking until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Recipe source: Mother Earth News with adaptation by Lynn S.

More squashy favorites…

Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Breakfast Pie – yes, you can have your breakfast casserole without all the carbs! A creation of my own that I’m pretty proud of. Seriously yum.

Garlic Chicken & Bacon Spaghetti Squash Alfredo – I don’t like pasta alfredo, but this…is heaven.

Slow Cooker Moroccan Turkey Stew…seriously one of my top favorite things I’ve eaten in the history of ever.

Cinnamon Freud Banana Bread

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I was assigned to Karen’s blog, Cinnamon Freud, for the Secret Recipe Club this month. She’s a counseling psychology doctoral student who also loves to cook and bake. How genius is her blog name?! I know she must get that a lot, but it’s true. Genius.

So anyway, last month I chose banana bread for my SRC assignment and Debra suggested I do banana bread every month because of my outrageous obsession with it. Although I didn’t intend to take her up on that challenge, as soon as I received my SRC assignment, I looked to see if Karen had a banana bread recipe, because I had a bunch of bananas that were really overripe and needing to be used. And she did – this recipe, in fact.  I made this bread the same day I received my assignment – the quickest I’ve ever done it!

Since she simply called it banana bread, and I have way too many banana recipes on my blog to call it just banana bread, I added her blog name into it.  I couldn’t resist – it’s just so catchy!  :)  My second choice for this bread’s name would be “Dessert Banana Bread.”  This bread has more sugar than normal (which I totally am on board with – the more sugar the better, as far as I’m concerned), making it a bit more indulgent and appropriate for dessert…with a scoop of ice cream and caramel sauce on top, of course. haha! ;)  Oh and I have to tell you this bread is excellent with black walnuts. I made one plain, one with black walnuts. They were beautiful – sweet, dense, soft & velvety, just perfect.  These disappeared FAST – a definite winner!

Cinnamon Freud Banana Bread

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3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 cups mix-ins (nuts, chocolate chips, etc)
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 loaf pans and set aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and any mix-ins you want to add. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until blended, then add the remaining ingredients, beating until combined. Add approximately 1/4 cup dry ingredients into the wet. Mix until just combined. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients.

Spread into prepared loaf pans & bake for 55-70 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe source: Cinnamon Freud

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I usually keep my recipe posts and baby posts totally separate, but since I haven’t been posting very much period, I just can’t resist including some baby love. :)  Here he is being a cloth diaper and baby leg warmers model. :D

Be sure to check out the other Group C Secret Recipe Club contributions this month by clicking the linky frog below!

Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

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Jessie turned ten earlier this month and I decided that I was finally, finally, going to throw her the birthday party I’d always wanted to throw her ever since we got her.  I had invitations I meant to use for it so long I finally ended up selling them at our garage sale last year, thinking I would always have too much going on to actually do it.  Ironically, I ended up throwing her a birthday party the year I’m most busy, with a little human puppy taking up most of my time.  Just goes to show, you always have enough time for whatever you put your mind to.

I plan to do a whole separate blog post about the party because it was the sauce, if I do say so myself, but first I wanted to share the recipe I made for the PupCakes.  Rather than make something flour-based, I decided I wanted to go with meat-centric PupCakes because, let’s get real here, it’s a rare dog that prefers a flour & fruit-based treat over a meaty one.  Jessie is alll about the meat.

So I just threw together a bunch of stuff that seemed like it might make good dog-friendly (i.e. no onions) meatloaf into a bowl, mixed it up, and took a tiny taste test after baking.  Wow, I was impressed!  The only salt in the recipe comes from the ketchup, so I thought it would be rather bland, but these are so good I wished I’d made extra to enjoy along with the pups!  I added a mashed potato “frosting” that I thinned with yogurt.  So healthy and delicious, and the dogs devoured them! (Don’t be fooled by Doc giving up his to Jessie in the video, he’s so sweet that if Jessie even looks at him when he has a treat, he drops it so she can have it.  Kind of breaks my heart, actually! lol)  Even the little tiny dogs ate an entire PupCake by themselves. I’d say they are definitely dog-approved. :)

Meatloaf PupCakes with Mashed Potato Frosting

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1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced zucchini
1 egg, beaten
1 lb 93% lean ground beef
½ cup quick oats
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 cup ketchup

Frosting
2 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 cup plain yogurt
Milk to thin

Optional garnish: real bacon bits

Remove ground beef from refrigerator to allow the chill to come off while you begin the recipe. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 9 muffin cups with foil liners; set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, red pepper, and zucchini, and sauté until softened, about 5-10 minutes. In large bowl, combine the cooked veggies with the remaining pupcake ingredients until well combined. Roll mixture into 9 large balls and place in prepared muffin cups.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160ºF. Cool slightly in muffin cups.

While loaves are baking, cut potatoes into large chunks. Place in 3-quart saucepan, cover with water, and heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cook potatoes until fork-tender. Drain; return to saucepan. Add yogurt and beat with an electric mixer, adding milk as necessary, until creamy and smooth like frosting.

Place potatoes in a 10-inch decorating bag and snip the tip as large as you want it to come out. Alternatively, you can place them in a Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Remove the pupcakes from the muffin pan and place on serving plate. Starting at outside of each cake and in a circular motion, pipe potatoes onto each meat loaf. If desired, garnish with bacon bits. Serve warm or room temperature.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia original

Roasted Tomato & Portabella Meatloaf

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Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Italian Green Beans is my ultimate comfort meal.  But for some reason I rarely make it!  In fact, I only have one other recipe for meatloaf on my blog.  What is up with that?  There’s a good reason that I don’t make other favorites like pecan pie and cheesecake – because I puffy heart loooove them would eat way too much of those fat and sugar bombs.  But meatloaf isn’t necessarily unhealthy (you can even use ground turkey if you like!) and is so delicious.  I really need to make it more often.

My first meatloaf sammie! So good.

I adapted this recipe from my Foodie Mama, Marina‘s, recipe, which she adapted from the original Quaker Oats recipe.  I love that about the online foodie world – recipes keep shifting and changing as they pass from person to person.  I didn’t mean to get all fancy pants on my meatloaf, but baby portabella mushrooms were on sale at Aldi (LOVE ALDI!) for 99 cents and I had no idea what I was going to do with them, and when I decided on meatloaf I had no tomato sauce and had to make my own with canned roasted tomatoes (also from Aldi), so this wonderful meatloaf was born.

This is probably my favorite meatloaf I’ve had so far, but I know there are a lot of different ways to make it and I don’t have a ton of versions to compare it to.  It’s got lots of great flavor, the added veggies keep it nice and moist, and we thought the the sweet and sour roasted tomato sauce really put it over the top.  I hope you enjoy it too!

Roasted Tomato and Portabella Meatloaf

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2 lbs lean ground beef
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 (8 oz) package mini portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 small onion (or ½ of a medium), diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz) can diced roasted tomatoes, undrained
¾ cup quick oats
1 large egg
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, divided
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon lemon juice

Take the ground beef out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before starting the recipe.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Saute until softened and all the liquid is evaporated; set aside. Place the roasted tomatoes, with the juice, in a food processor or blender and process for about a minute, or until pureed. Spoon out ½ cup of the puree and add the mushroom mixture to the remaining puree. Process until vegetables are very finely chopped, or until pureed if you don’t want to see them in your meatloaf. If you are using a blender, you might have to stop frequently to stir the mixture.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef with the tomato and mushroom mixture, oats, egg, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper. Pat into a loaf pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the reserved toasted tomato puree with ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Spread ½-2/3 cup of the sauce over the meatloaf and bake for 1 ½ hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 160F. Remove from oven and carefully pour off the liquid; allow to sit for ten minutes before slicing and serving. Refrigerate leftovers and make meatloaf sandwiches the next day. :)

What’s your ultimate comfort food? Here are a few of my personal favorites…

Chunky Chicken Soup

Easy Salisbury Steaks with Onion Gravy

Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Breadless Breading

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Pictured: Chicken in Basil Cream, using Breadless Breading

This is a fabulous low-carb, gluten-free substitute for breading that can be used as a coating for things you’re either going to be baking or frying.  I use it on both chicken and fish (it’s best for mild white fish, though it’s pretty good on salmon too) and have even added it to meatloaf*.  I prefer this tremendously over any other coating I’ve used, as it has so much flavor in comparison to even seasoned breadcrumbs.  The first time I used it on fish, my husband said, “this is like…onion ring-fried fish!!”  While this breading isn’t overly onion-y (in my opinion, it is perfectly seasoned), I will say that if you like onion rings, you’re going to love it as it does lend a similar flavor and texture experience to your meal.  I hope you enjoy!

Breadless Breading

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2 (3.75 oz) jars (2 cups) dehydrated minced onion
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves, crushed
1 ¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese

Place dehydrated onion in food processor bowl and process for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients except the cheese and process 30 seconds. Add Parmesan and pulse to blend. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.

Recipe source: adapted from Suzanne Somers’ Fast & Easy Bake & Fry Mix

*This doesn’t replace bread crumbs in meatloaf because there is nothing in it to absorb moisture the way real bread can, but it does add great flavor!  For a gluten-free meatloaf, you can add in quick-cooking oats along with some of this breadless breading.  You will not need to add onions to your meatloaf if you use this breading because it adds plenty of flavor, but I added a red pepper to mine and it was really good!

A quick and easy meal: coat one side of fish (this is swai) with breadless breading and fry in olive oil until golden.  Flip and cook until the fish flakes easily.  Enjoy your Onion Rings-Fried Fish!

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