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Balsamic Glaze is a balsamic syrup created by reducing balsamic vinegar and adding a little sugar until it’s gets syrupy and incredible.

You can buy a premade glaze in a grocery store but you can just as easily (and way more economically) make it yourself at home with two ingredients that you control. 

The final product has some natural balsamic vinegar sweetness, some bright tart balsamic vinegary oomph; it’s a little syrupy but not overly viscous and it adds a touch of elegance and surprise to any dish.


Glaze cooling and looking very reflective!


RECIPE NOTES:
I used Sugar in the Raw, which is Turbinado sugar, a type of brown sugar. 

I used Fairway Market Modena balsamic i.e. not expensive at all. Here's what the bottle looks like.




Here's how to pick out a bottle of balsamic vinegar from Serious Eats.

I played around with a few different ratios of sugar to balsamic vinegar; so far this one has worked the best. 

Scale up if you want more quantities to use on meats or larger dishes.




RECIPE:
Balsamic Glaze, Vegan, Allergen-free

1/2 cup Modena balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

Mix the sugar and vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil then simmer the mixture for about 10-13 minutes or until barely coats spoon. Let the mixture cool, then transfer to non- reactive container. Keep in the fridge.

Drizzle over ice cream, strawberries, cheese, salad, meal to finish a dish, the options are endless. 

But, I say: start, like I did, with roasted strawberries, homemade vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of the good stuff. And share with a loved one!


Valentine's Day 2018



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Namaste Foods kindly sent me some of their chickpea flour to try. 




Chickpea pancakes are generally light, not too "beany" and savory. I found an easy recipe for Pudla from The Kitchn which gives them some background notes of spice and heat, but not too much. 

Chickpea pancakes, made from chickpea flour, as a change up from my usual corn tortillas or even sweet Sunday pancakes, are a healthy, affordable and easy option. 

And as the chickpea flour is made by Namaste Foods, I know it's safe for me and most likely, for you, too!

Here is the Namaste Foods allergen statement: "All of our products are free-from the Top 8 most common food allergens in the US, as declared by the FDA which are: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish. In addition, our products are made in our own dedicated allergen-free facility, so there’s no chance of cross contamination. We also are free-from Canada’s twelve priority food allergens, which include the Top 8 listed above plus sulfites, crustaceans, sesame and mustard."

Here's more about Namaste Foods and please contact them directly if you have any questions about their products. 

(NB: This is not a sponsored post. Namaste Foods sent me some product sto try but if you follow me on any social platform or have been reading my blog for the last 12 years you know, I just LOVE and use Namaste Foods regularly.)

***




RECIPE NOTES:
I used an 8-inch frying pan which made the perfect size for my household.

I used a ¼ cup measuring cup to portion out pancake batter which made 5 pancakes. I definitely could have made the earlier pancakes thinner to get a 6th pancake out.

I made the batter and then, becuase of the other work commitments, had to put it away, overnight, in the fridge. I used that overnight batter to create the pancakes you see on this post and they were perfect. So I’m thinking I can whip up a batch of batter and have them around for anytime snacks!

***

RECIPE: Savory Chickpea Flour Pancake, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free
Makes 5 crepes
Adapted from Pudla on The Kitchn 

1 1/3 cups chickpea flour
1 cup water
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, washed and chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, washed, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon Kosher coarse salt  
1/2 teaspoon chili seasoning powder
Olive Oil

In a large mixing bowl, place the chickpea flour, salt, chili powder, cilantro and grated ginger. Whisk in the water. When you have a smooth mixture, let it sit for 30 minutes (or even covered overnight in the fridge).

When you’re ready to eat, heat your frying pan on medium high heat with a drizzle of oil. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, add a scant ¼ cup of batter and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. You will see bubbles form and the color change from raw to cooked in about 1-2 minutes. When it looks almost cooked through, give it a flip with your thinnest spatula and let it cook through on the other side, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pancake to a prepared plate and add a little more oil, let it heat up and add more batter and continue the process for between 5-6 pancakes.

Eat the pancakes with fried eggs for breakfast, pictured below.




Or I know these pancakes would pair well with my smoky refried black beans and some homemade Greek yogurt mixed through with some chopped fresh cilantro, lime juice and lime zest.

Any way you have them, they will be delish and allergen-free! 

Thank you, Namaste Foods!






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Photograph copyright Zach Nelson, Ireland Studios


An elevation, a surprise, a little something different - that’s exactly what this recipe delivers.

Easy Cinnamon Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream is a gloriously chocolatey chocolate cupcake with buttercream and when you bite into its lusciousness, you think: “Hmm, there’s something else in there, some flavor, some note that is familiar and yet I’m seeing it anew. Cinnamon!”

Cinnamon adds a touch of warmth, a soupcon of elegance, a hint of the exotic and drives the chocolate train just a little off course, to a new adventure in deliciousness.

This cake will charm your loved ones for Valentine’s Day and will delight *you* if you’re having a self-love V-day. Below are my recipes notes and recipe.

Recipe Notes:

This recipe is free from: gluten, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts. Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake may have soy.  I use cow’s milk and butter.

I tried this recipe a few different times with differing amounts of heat. Here are some permutations if you want to try something different from my recipe below:
--2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne in cake batter
--1  teaspoon cinnamon in cake batter with a 1 shake of cinnamon and a shake of cayenne in frosting

I made Hershey's One-Bowl Buttercream exactly as written by them, it’s reprinted below.
They suggest for a light chocolate flavor, use 1/3 cup cocoa; for a dark chocolate flavor, use ¾  cup cocoa. The middle amount, ½ cup cocoa was delightful to my taste buds and my taste testers.

I used Enjoy Life Foods Mega Chunks in the cake batter to make this a triple chocolate cake situation. Oh my! I threw in two handfuls and it was the right amount for me. Add as many or as little as you like. Enjoy Life Foods mini-chips would be perfect in this batter, too!

I used Betty Crocker Devil’s Food Cake. These are the ingredients and the directions as of February 2018.




I made cupcakes. I like cupcakes because it’s easier to transport and share, they are great portion control and I can frost to individual tastes, too. I made 16 cupcakes out of one mix; it says 12, I got 16. Go figure. No complaints here.

I used Fairway’s organic large eggs.
I used Nielsen-Massey vanilla.

I bought all of my ingredients at Fairway Market in Manhattan. Fairway Market graciously sponsored the making of these Cinnamon Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Thank you, Fairway Market! (*Here are my policies regarding my sponsored posts.*) 

***


Recipe: Easy Cinnamon Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free


Photograph copyright Zach NelsonIreland Studios
***


Hershey's One-Bowl Buttercream

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey vanilla

Beat butter in medium bowl. Add cocoa and powdered sugar alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Blend in vanilla. Yields about 2 cups frosting. Set that aside.


***

(Bake according to directions on the box, reprinted below)


1 stick of butter, softened
3 eggs
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using, line cupcake pan with liners. Beat butter, eggs, water, cinnamon and cake mix in a large bowl with a hand-mixer for 30 seconds, then on medium speed for 2 minutes. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter into cupcakes pan. bake for 18 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Let cool completely and then frost generously.

***

Serve and enjoy!







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I was inspired to make up this recipe after watching the New Orleans episode of 
Somebody Feed Phil. Have you seen this show yet? Somebody Feed Phil: "Everybody Loves Raymond" creator Phil Rosenthal travels the globe to take in the local cuisine and culture of Bangkok, Lisbon, Mexico City and more". It's kinda of adorable. And the food photography is stunningly gorgeous!

Watching the New Orleans episode last week, I saw red beans and rice, a New Orleans Monday night staple. (Here's a recipe from Serious Eats, Camellia Brand and one from the New York Times.) I thought that looks yum and I bet I could make it vegan and with everything I already have in my well-stocked pantry. And that's exactly what I did. And it's yum! 

Recipe Notes:
Really this was all pantry stuff, so use what you have, no need to stress the details or buy special things.

I used an orange bell pepper because it's what I had on hand; green, red, yellow, orange, all fine.

I used tomato paste because I had some left over and already opened. If you have some too, or a tube use it but otherwise you can skip it.

Bump up the spice if you like. This recipe definitely has herby notes.

I used Goya Red Kidney beans, not dark red beans, although they'd be fine here, too. Only have chickpeas, I'm sure they would be fine, too.



I served this over cilantro lime rice (steamed white rice, with a squeeze of lime, a shake of EVOO and a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro) with a side of steamed broccoli, and some avocado. All yummers!

***



Recipe: Vegan New Orleans-Style Red Beans and Rice, Allergen-Free

1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 t tomato paste (optional)
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ t smoked paprika
1/8 cayenne
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, juice and tomato flesh
Oliver oil, water, salt and paper as needed

In a medium sized heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, sauté onions in 1 T olive oil until translucent. Add peppers and sauté until they begin to soften. Add garlic, sauté for 30 second until fragrant and then add tomato paste if using, stirring until paste is incorporated into veggies. Add your spices and herbs (oregano, thyme, bay, paprika and cayenne) and stir until they are all fragrant. Add the drained beans and the can of tomatoes, juice and all. Give everything a stir and add up to a ½ cup of water to the mixture if needed. Bring all to boil and then turn down and let simmer for about 20 minutes, until flavors are melded. Taste and adjust for seasonings. 

Serve over steamed white rice and enjoy!


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ATTENTION *LICENSED SOCIAL WORKERS* 

In conjunction with New York University, I'm presenting a continuing education webinar for licensed social workers.

YES!

As a licensed psychotherapeutic social worker in private practice working with children, families and adults with food allergies for the past decade, I've created several strategies and appropriate inventions to help my clients cope with a new food allergy diagnosis, manage anxiety around food allergies and create their own tools to live their best food allergy life. 

And now I am teaching those tools to other licensed social workers!

MSWs, LMSWs, LCSWs can sign up HERE

If you are a licensed social worker in the United States or you are seeing one and would love for them to understand more about food allergies and our perspectives, please check out the New York University website for more information and to sign up!

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Recently, my colleague at Allergic Living Magazine, Gwen Smith, Editor In Chief, wrote a fantastic, smart and sensitive feature about dining out with food allergies.

Here’s an excerpt from Allergic Living Magazine:
"One of the tougher topics to address is simply this: Can the food-allergic person dine out safely? The short answer is yes, depending on the menu offered. But that short answer also misleads.

The larger truth is that the safety level depends hugely on key factors, such as whether the restaurant has trained its staff about food allergies and a system to prevent cooking and plating errors, and whether the allergic diner properly communicates the allergies and is prepared to use an epinephrine auto-injector, should a mistake be made."

It's a well written, researched and thought out piece that I hope every food allergic person (or food allergy caregiver) will read and think about how to apply this principles to their dining out experiences.

NB: Allergic Living magazine has written about dining out with food allergies many, many times  before, including a feature by me in 2012, called a Allergic Living’s Guide to Smart Dining with Food Allergies. A longer version of my dining out strategies are in my book,  Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies (Wiley, 2011) – also worth a think and a read.

***

Have a read of the full Allergic Living Magazine feature here:  Dining with Food Allergies: Factors Critical to a Safe Experience and Common Errors

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Orange. Orange marmalade. Vanilla. Cake.  Light, sweet, tangy with the slightest edge of bitter peel, this is a taste of sunshine on a cold winter's day - and just right for afternoon tea. It's also free from wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, seafood, soy as well as gluten. So invite over your all of your besties and they can all indulge.


Recipe Notes:


I adapted this Orange Marmalade Cake from the New York Times using a box cake. But if you like, use your favorite yellow cake recipe or use the Orange Marmalade Cake recipe from the New York Times, it's already nut-free.

I used the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake. As of January 2018, these are the ingredients on that cake box. Always double check becuase they are subject to change.

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake ingredients

I've made the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake as a loaf and in as 9-inch round, both shapes worked perfectly well. Follow the directions on the box for cooking times depending upon the pan you use.

Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake directions and add-ins

The Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake box calls for 2/3 cup of water. The juice of one orange yielded 1/3 cup of juice, I then finished with water. Oranges will vary; ultimately, you need 2/3 cup of liquid. You could use all water, water and fresh juice mix or even buy orange juice and use for all of the liquid required.

My Orange Marmalade Cake recipe is free from wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, seafood, soy and wheat as well as gluten.

This recipe uses eggs and dairy.

Ingredients used


***

Orange Marmalade Cake, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free!


Recipe: Orange Marmalade Cake, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free
Adapted from Melissa Clark, New York Times Orange Marmalade Cake #NYTCooking


Ingredients:
Glaze

1/3 cup orange marmalade
4 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 Tablespoon butter


Cake
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Zest from one orange
2/3 liquid (water and fresh orange juice)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla


Preparation:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9-inch round pan and set aside. 
In a bowl, beat together softened butter, orange zest, orange juice/water mixture, eggs, vanilla and box cake dry mix (i.e. following directions on box). Scrape batter into prepared pan. 
Bake until surface of cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, about 33 minutes.  
Remove from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack. Cool for at least 10 minutes.  
While the cake is cooling, heat 1/3 cup marmalade in a small pot over low heat until melted; whisk in confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 tablespoon butter until smooth. 
Pour warm glaze over top of cake, allowing some to drizzle down the sides. Cool completely before slicing.
Enjoy!


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Pear pickle

A chef friend, Chef Billy Brigtsen
, made this for me, at a dinner party a few years ago. I asked him to write out the recipe which I posted here BUT I never made it myself and now I have. It couldn’t be easier and it’s a delight.

***

Pickled Pears


1 c plain white %5 acidity vinegar 
1 c water

2 t salt

3 T maple syrup

1 T whole coriander seeds

1 t red pepper flakes

1 coin of ginger, peeled

1 bay leaf 
3 whole cloves

1.75 lbs of Bosc or seckle pears, skinned, cored and sliced thinly 
1 shallot, sliced thinly 


In a non-reactive pot, combine vinegar, water, spices and bring to a boil. Once boiled add the sliced fruit, swirl everything together and bring back to a quick boil. Once boiled, take the pot off the heat. Allow the pickle to cool in a non-reactive container like a glass bowl. Transfer to a sealable safe container and refrigerate. Give them a few hours to allow the flavors to  meld together and enjoy for up to two weeks. 

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Stuffed cabbage was one of my Omah’s specialties. I have distinct and treasured memories of arriving at her house in Brooklyn, sitting at her kitchen table and tucking into a steaming bowl of sweet and sour cabbage rolls stuffed with meat with rice. Oh, yummy yum.

This month, courtesy of Fairway Market, I made this very Jewish of dishes: stuffed cabbage. It’s a humble, hearty yet surprisingly light dish. Like many old-world cuisine staples, it transforms simple, easy to find/buy/procure ingredients: tomatoes, onions, raisins, sugar, vinegar, meat and cabbage into a luscious meal that will feed an army. And the sweet and sour flavor (I mean meat with sugar and raisins and vinegar and lemon?!) is something that the moment you have it, you just want more.

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find many great recipes on the internet and even within my Jewish or Kosher cookbooks. So many recipes had additions that didn’t feel right to me: garlic, cornstarch, citrus peel, paprika, ground turkey, pork (ack never!), apples, cream. OY! So, I combined the recipes and techniques of Ina Garten and Joan Nathan and came up with this dish. I know my Omah would be proud



Recipe Notes:
There are three components to this dish: tomato sauce, steamed cabbage leaves and a ground meat mixture. The more you can do ahead, the easier this recipe becomes, really an assembly job at its easiest. You can do this all in one day, like a Sunday or Friday early if you’re cooking for Shabbat but too much time on your feet I say.

How I made this: I threw the tomato sauce together one night and cooked the rice while the tomato sauce was bubbling. I also chopped more onions for the meat mixture, ahead of time.   The day of, I steamed the cabbage leaves, mixed up the mix and assembled. So much easier!

This recipe is free from: peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat and dairy. 

It does have eggs in the meat mixture which if you are egg-free, use your favorite egg-replacer. Here’s a nice article from Allergic Living about egg replacers or just skip the egg and know the meat mixture will be a little denser.

You can skip tomato paste, if you don’t want to open a can just for one tablespoon . I happen to have some lying around because of making Cybele’s Pascal’s Taco recipe earlier in the week.

I used Lucicni Extra Virgin olive oil.

I used 4 cans for 14 ounce diced organic tomatoes because that’s what I had in my pantry.

I used Eden foods red wine vinegar.

I used sugar in the raw, brown sugar.

I used Sun Maid raisins.

I used Morton course Kosher salt.

I used Fairway organic large eggs.

I used Fairway brand ground chuck beef.

I used a generic brand of white rice. Use any kind of rice you like but definitely cook it.

Cabbage: if you can get a light loose leafed cabbage, or two, do. I bought a heavy, tight-leafed head and it made getting steamed leaves off a bit more of a struggle especially as I couldn’t core it totally. It still worked but if you can get an easier cabbage, do.

How many cabbage rolls you make depends upon you: how much meat you stuff into each leaf of cabbage and the size of cabbage(s) you buy. 

The 2.5 pounds of meat plus the add-ins in this recipe and the cabbage leaves I retrieved from the 3.5 pound cabbage I purchased equaled 14 rolled up stuffed cabbage cigars with ¼ cup of the meat mixture in each. AND a dozen just meat meatballs.

This recipe as written easily makes 24-26 rolls if you buy two cabbages and scoop ¼ cups of meat filling into each or 14 rolls with scoops of ¼ cups of meat filling into each and 12 meatballs, if you do it this way. 

But really, anything you do is correct. It’s stuffed cabbage, it’s meant to be homey, yummy and simple. So just go for it!

I bought all of my ingredients at Fairway Market in Manhattan. Fairway Market graciously sponsored the making of this Stuffed Cabbage. Thank you, Fairway Market! (*Here are my policies regarding my sponsored posts.*) 




***



Stuffed Cabbage, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free:

Tomato Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (or 2 medium sized yellow onions)
4 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and their juice
1 T tomato paste (optional)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar in the raw
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 (Fresh lemons on standby for a squeeze of sour)

For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Rice:
1 cup cooked rice 

Make according to the directions on the rice container. Set aside and let cool once cooked.

Cabbage
1 large head Savoy or green cabbage, including outer leaves

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a paring knife. Make little slits around the base so the ribs come away from the core and the leaves peel off easily in the boiling water. Gently immerse the head of cabbage in the boiling water, peeling off each leaf with tongs as soon as it’s flexible. Set the leaves aside.
  
Meat Mixture
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck 
3 large eggs, lightly beaten 
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1 cup cooked white rice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the all ground chuck, eggs, onion, cooked rice, salt, and pepper. Add 1 cup of the cooled sauce to the meat mixture and mix lightly with a fork.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To assemble: place a half cup of sauce to the bottom of your cooking dish. Remove the hard rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a small paring knife. Place ¼ cup of the filling on each cabbage leaf. Tuck the ends in and roll up like a big cigar. Place them, open side down, in a large 6-quart Dutch oven (or casserole dish). Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage. Cover the dish tightly with the lid (or foil if using a casserole dish) and bake at 350 degrees for one hour and a half, and then uncover for an additional half hour, adding water if too dry. 

Taste for sweet and sour and, if needed, squeeze the juice of a fresh remaining lemon over all. Serve hot. And know this: this dish is even more delicious the second day.



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SWWWWOOOOON!
Taco meat – a little sweet and little spicy – all lush.

Cybele Pascal’s Taco recipe is genius and has instantly entered into high rotation in this Allergic Girl household. I made some very slight changes to Cybele Pascal’s original recipe but so slight that really it’s still hers hence I’ve called Cybele Pascal’s Taco recipe.

If you don’t know Cybele Pascal’s books, and you are cooking for yourself or your family with any food allergy restrictions, Cybele’s books are essential reading and buying




Recipe Notes:
I’ve made this with ground dark meat turkey and ground beef (85%/15%) and both were excellent.

I’ve made with all colors of bell peppers, they all work.

I’ve forgotten the cumin, it was still great.

Chili powder here is a blend of spices, a chili seasoning, a chili mix. Not one chile. Here’s an explanation of the difference from Fine Cooking.

The original recipe calls for honey, I used maple syrup. Go with what you have or like. Both work well. (I bet some granulated brown sugar, if that’s all you have on hand, would be fine, too.)

I’ve made with red onion and yellow onion, either was fine and no discernable difference, use what you have on-hand.

I’ve served with all the fixings like Cybele’s suggests (shredded cheese, taco shells, shredded lettuce, chopped onion, diced tomatoes and cilantro) and I’ve served just over rice. I bet it would be great in stuffed pepper. Or as Sloppy Joe’s! Cybele Pascal’s Taco recipe incredibly versatile.




Ingredients:
1 T EVOO
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chopped bell pepper
1 pound chopped beef, 85% meat/15% fat
2 t chili powder
1 t smoked paprika
½ t cumin
¾ dried oregano
½ t salt
¼ ground pepper
4 t red wine vinegar
¼ c tomato paste
2/3 c water
1 t maple syrup

Directions:
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed large pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and ground meat, stirring to break up the meat, about two minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for three minutes more, until the meat is no longer pink.

Add the red wine vinegar and stir. Add the tomato paste, water and maple syrup. Brong to a simmer and then cook over low heat, partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Taste at 20 minutes for salt and adjust if more is needed.

Serve with taco fixin's, serve over rice, serve in a warmed bun, serve in lettuce cups.  Just serve it and enjoy!

Corn tortillas, melted Jack cheese, tacos meat, health salad pickle and pickled peppers.


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