Luxurious Winter Veggie Soup

 How a soup can be luxurious is less important than how luxurious a soup can be.  And if you don't understand, you never will.  But just for you, I'll add this:  This soup is sweet and savory, rich and flavorful. You'll feel full, but also healthy  - how can this fit so many criteria while being so easy to make?

I found this recipe on the New York Times Cooking App, which I've mentioned before but will mention again and again and again. I'm clearly a huge fan of this app. From teaching cooking basics in the "Learn to Cook" video section to outlining food and drinks ideas that will ease you in to more complicated recipes, their clean interface has it all - including the ability to save recipes to a home screen and add or read other viewer's notes while trying each recipe out.

Although there's a special place in my heart for each of the authors on the app, I keep coming back to Martha Rose Shulman's recipes. She always seems to find new ways to play with healthy foods so that the boring veggies you have at home seem appealing and fun, and to make you interested in other foods you never imagined would sound delicious. Everything just seems so comforting! Current recipes of hers I saved include: Endive Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing, Salmon Rillettes, Three-Greens Gratin, and Crispy Spiced Kale. 

I Now, back to what I actually made! Martha's Winter Vegetable Soup with Turnips, Carrots, Potatoes, and Leeks was super simple to put together; in fact I made it for the next day while my braised short ribs were in the oven for that night's dinner! Since everything goes in with the water you don't have to worry about making your house smell like garlic and onions by cooking those in oil first, and you don't need to cut the veggies into pretty shapes since they'll be pulverized soon enough. The most work you're doing is cleaning and cutting the veggies, and once the soup is ready you get to do the fun part - putting it in batches through the blender! Or an immersion blender if you're a fancy-pants.

The following is how I made Martha's soup at home, including the adjusted ingredients. Click on her link to compare if you're thinking of making it at home to decide what works best from you, or if you're thinking of planning on playing with the recipe at home. And let me know how it turns out!

Serves: 6 dinner portions, 10-12 appetizer portions

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 3 large leeks - white parts only

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 3 large carrots

  • 1 celery stalk

  • 1 large turnips

  • 1 pound russet potatoes (I used four large potatoes)

  • 1/2 quart beef stock

  • 1 quart water

  • A bay leaf and a few sprigs thyme (parsley is also recommended but I didn't have any at home!)

  •  Big pinch of salt and a few rotations of a black pepper grinder

  • ¼ cup crème fraîche, if desired (half of our group didn't even add it after trying the soup alone!)

Instructions

  1. Clean and chop vegetables into even sizes. Like I said above, this is the most work you'll have to do: peeling and chopping the carrots, turnip and potatoes, cutting the leeks and cleaning them thoroughly (I chopped the white part in half lengthwise, then cut into fine pieces before running through a salad spinner a few times to clean). But take out a big knife, turn on a jam, and chop away the week's frustrations and you'll be relaxed and done with the big job in a few minutes.
  2. Add chopped vegetables along with beef stock and water to a large pot. Martha recommended just water, but I thought it might be fun to add a little complexity and flavor from beef stock, plus I had it out for the short ribs at the time. Add salt, pepper, and bay leaf and thyme (parsley if you grabbed some, too!). 
  3. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and leave at a simmer (I had it medium for about 20 minutes then since it was still pretty bubbly moved it to medium-low), stirring occasionally. I'm a weirdo about finding bay leaves in my food later so I leave it in a very obvious spot and stir around it, watching it like a hawk. Feel free to be a little less of a weirdo and let it disappear for a bit (but regret not heeding my warning when you're searching for it later)!
  4. Taste a few pieces - I go for the turnip with a little broth and a piece of leek - to make sure the veggies are fall-apart soft, then turn off heat and move pot to a cool burner. If you're Coolio you can use an immersion blender now, otherwise wait until the soup has cooled enough to handle and run it in batches through your blender. I ladled 3 or so cups in the blender at a time and pulsed manually for about 10 seconds before pouring in a big bowl. The first two batches I finely pulsed, and the last two I left some bigger pieces in since I was scared of making it too much of a baby food consistency. The combination really balanced out!
  5. Cover and serve later, or return to your soup pot and reheat. With the crème fraîche, I'd recommend letting each diner decide if they want it or not instead of adding it to the whole soup pot. When we ate it, each person ladled out their serving into a bowl and microwaved it, either with the crème fraîche spooned in and mixed before heating or not using it at all (no need to clean another pot!). This can be fun to play around with though, so do whatever makes you happy!

 

 

 What a fantastic way to make a relatively hands-off but super impressive winter warmer. Thanks again to Martha for her #FoodInspo !

Life Made Simple's Insane Flourless Brownies

Holy freaking moly. I've had the biggest fudge-y craving lately.  Like, seriously, I have been craving anything with that thick, chocolately fudge flavor and consistency. Whether that means fudge, brownies or hot fudge that I could heat in a jar and eat with a spoon. The problem with this craving was that I didn't want to try out a new gluten-free mix it or deal with the eventual xantham-gum reminder of mixes I've tried before, but I wasn't sure how to make something fudge-y without gluten. Thank god for this recipe I found then. After searching for hot fudge recipes, I remembered a great flourless chocolate cookie recipe I found in the New York Times Cooking app. Sadly I was missing powdered sugar and it's WAY too cold to go the store after Coming home from work, so I had to give that recipe a rain check. It got me thinking though - if there are gooey flourless cookie recipes, wouldn't there be some flourless brownie recipes too?

Natalie at Life Made Simple's flourless brownie recipe was one of the first ones up in my search, and I could tell from a quick skim through the post that it was a winner. There were only normal brownie ingredients (no avocados or black beans), and everything I needed was already at home! All I'd need was a little elbow grease (more on that in a few).

Honestly though, what most shocked me was how incredibly good these brownies are. They are  everything you're looking for in a brownie – gooey and chocolatey like the ones you take out a few minutes early - but these were perfectly cooked! I totally ignored Natalie's claim in her post that these tasted like the (expensive) Ghiradelli brownie mixes you can buy at Costco until I tried them - and they're actually better than those! I insisted that everyone in the family try some or take one to work the next day. I am still sort of shocked/disappointed that I didn't tell everyone they sucked so I could eat them all myself.

 My only, seriously only, problem with this recipe is super small and totally my own fault. I've mentioned before that I am a complete weakling. In this case I decided It would be more fun to be lazy than weak, with the thought that I'd have one less bowl to clean and I'd be a little bit stronger if I just whisked everything like the recipe called for instead of using my stand mixer for a few minutes. There was a bit more whisking involved than I expected - or more than my tiny wannabe muscles can manage. Next time I'll check my pride and use the KitchenAid. Cleaning an extra bowl isn't a bad deal for these suckers, and if you're like Popeye (with brownies instead of spinach) I think you'll be fine. 

With Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder, Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips, a few pieces of Godiva dark chocolate I didn't eat yet (how I'll never know), and salted butter instead of unsalted (plus the few additional ingredients you can select your own brand for), I went straight in on this recipe. The idea of sifting also seemed a little over the top for me, so I poured the cocoa powder and cornstarch in a small cup and stirred together with a fork. Normally our oven cooks a little too fast, but these were ready in 24 minutes, right within the 22-30 minute cooking time.  I worried that the little flecks you can see in the picture above meant I hadn't whisked - though I was getting a leeetle bit sweaty in a freezing cold house - enough. There were no problems  though - no grainy bits at all, just perfect chocolatey happiness.

 

 

 

Fantastic recipe! I never imagined a google search would provide such lucrative results! Here's the link to the recipe again if you missed the embedding above and don't want to scroll (I don't blame you!): http://lifemadesimplebakes.com/2014/07/rich-fudgy-flourless-brownies/ .Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that it'll be a weekly staple now? 

Braised Short Ribs

Whew! I am a WILD WOMAN. Seriously. I was a powerhouse tonight, just cook, cook, cooking away! I had some absolutely amazing short ribs while eating out with my sister last week. This insanely flavorful, perfectly fall-apart meat was served with a super flavorful roasted carrot/turnip mix alongside some haricots verts. I came home talking about it and - of course - showing the picture of my food to everyone. It's 2016 people! We take pictures of our food and show them to each other! Get over it.


So anyway, I think I really drove my "this was the best thing I've ever had" home since my mom suggested this morning that we try making short ribs at home. After googling a hundred thousand recipes (maybe 10), I felt like I'd learned enough about the basic process to choose my own adventure. Those were seriously the best books.


The result was a relatively easy, mostly hands-off recipe that was restaurant quality for a fraction of the price! More money to spend on some vino with dinner. While my short ribs were in the oven and before I had to start in on the mashed potatoes, I started in on a winter vegetable soup that I'll share later on. Can you see why I said I'm a wild woman now?

All in all, both recipes are pretty simple. There's always a little anxiety making a completely new recipe, never mind two, but really you spend most of your hands on time for each just cleaning and cutting veggies, so there's nothing actually difficult here.


And on we go! Get wild with me.

Serves: 4

Total Time: 3 1/2 hours


Ingredients

  • 4 short ribs (bone in or out, Wegman's had good looking bone out ones in two-packs for just under $10 each so I went for those!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pre-minced if you don't have a garlic press/mincer/whatever it's called
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cups dry red wine (I used Lab since we had a bottle opened)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 small bunch thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to rub on short ribs

 

 

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Dice onion and wash, peel and finely chop carrots and celery. Rub salt and pepper onto largest sides of each short rib and rub in gently.
  2. Heat large high-rimmed pot to medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and swirl around pot until bottom is coated and a hand an inch or two above the oil can feel heat.
  3. Add short ribs, with plenty of space between. Let sit for a few minutes until deep brown on each side, turning and letting sit on each side to fully sear. This will take about 10-15 minutes. I found that using tongs to turn the meat as I lift it up is the cleanest way to remove it from the pot, otherwise it'll tend to stick. And once you place the meat down, don't touch it! You want a perfect sear instead of a messy-looking side. As meat is searing, prepare a large high-rimmed pan with a few layers of aluminum foil.
  4. Once all sides are browned, add carrots, celery, and onion, and use a garlic press to mince garlic over. Adjust heat to medium and stir veggies in until onions are translucent, about five minutes.
  5. When onions are translucent, pour in wine and beef stock. Bring pot to a boil and cover for 2 minutes.
  6. Remove cover, turn stove off, and use tongs to move each short rib into foil-lined pan. Ladle sauce over meat and add to pan, then cover the pan tightly with a piece of aluminum foil (alternately, if you have a large oven-safe dish with a cover, use it here! Although the foil-on-foil concept really minimizes cleanup) and add to lower third of oven. Set timer for two hours.
  7. Now you have some free time! Start a load of laundry, read a new book, make some soup! Or, okay, fine, go watch Netflix. Just one episode of New Girl. Or four.
  8. With a half hour left on your timer, start in on those mashed potatoes or whatever side you're planning on. I used two russet potatoes per person, just covering peeled and chopped potatoes in a pot with water and boiling at medium/medium-high until a fork goes cleanly through (about 20 minutes). Drain potatoes, mash with a potato masher - a great way to release some tension - and add what you need! We go for some s&p with milk and butter melted in a mug in the microwave for a few seconds, but you can go totally crazy with cream, cream cheese, sour cream, or whatever else you wacky lactose-loving people use (trust me I would join your ranks if not for lactose intolerance in our house).
  9. Remove covered short ribs from oven and let sit on stove for twenty minutes. I know! You're hungry! But the mashed potatoes are covered and ready and you have some time to set the table or microwave some frozen haricots verts. Or watch the last few minutes of that episode you were watching - Winston is the BEST. Plus, I'm letting you off easy: a lot of recipes recommend leaving this in the fridge overnight or putting back in the oven again after shredding the short ribs.
  10. Open the foil (or top) and carefully skim the fat off the sauce. Pour sauce over each short rib, then serve over mashed potatoes and nom away (sounds like when they say on my way do doo do do doo): 

Have you tried making short ribs at home? Any special secrets you want to share?

Fast and Easy Chili

I'm sure there have been lots of people in your life who have promised something then reneged on it, but I'm going to deliver on my title's promise. So tell those people to go screw and come hang out with me! We're having chili.

Before we went gluten-free for shared meals (and important sidebar: I know my family's all in agreement but can the rest of us agree that "meal" is a gross word? Like, just the sound of it is gross. Say what you mean instead: dinner [NEVER supper unless you're my grandmother in which case it's cool and also pronounced  "suppah" so totally different], lunch,  breakfast or a snack. You are what makes America great. Thank you, PSA over), I did a lot of at-home chili experimentation. I'd pull up a long list of recipes that looked good and try to combine what seemed like the best elements for my own recipe. So basically every time I've made chili it's totally different. Some of the standbys are a basic spice mix, chilis in adobo sauce, and beer.

Since the Celiac diagnosis though we haven't had any chili at home. It's also been surprisingly warm for winter in New England and chili's really only a once-a-month deal, so a few days ago was our first venture into the gluten-free chili world.

A word of advice here: my lovely mother does not like things spicy. At all. Normally when I make chili I throw in a few red pepper flakes, some cracks of black pepper, and as previously mentioned, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The amount of chipotle peppers you actually put in is totally negotiable and based on your ability to manage heat, but a few spoonfuls of the adobo sauce that they hang out in is an absolute must. My ideal chili is basically just meat and cheese, served with tortilla chips or - better yet!  - nachos with salsa, sour cream and guac on the side. This particular chili though is a bit more, how should I say? Worldly? It has more vegetables, more life, and won't leave you feeling completely bloated and bed-ridden as you recover from the epic amounts of salt you just inhaled. Normally tortilla chips are a must for me, but here we went for the Trader Joe's cornbread mix I posted about yesterday and it was delish. We considered adding a gluten free lager, but with everything we had we decided it wasn't necessary in the end. Let me know if you've added gluten free beers and had any success so I can test them out next time!

Serves: 4 with leftovers

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound 85% ground beef
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 carrot (untraditional and not my favorite! Feel free to skip. My mom insisted)
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of Diced, Fire Roasted Tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 turns of a black pepper shaker
  • 1 can Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce using at least the sauce if not 1-4 peppers (depending on how much heat you want/can manage)
  • 2 15oz cans beans - I go for kidney and usually like one can red and one can white
  • Cornbread or tortilla chips and shredded cheese for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat large pot with cover to medium heat. Add olive oil, and when sizzling add diced garlic (or run through a garlic press). Dice onions and chop carrots into fine pieces.
  2. Once garlic is fragrant, add ground beef, breaking up and cooking through. As beef starts to brown add in onions and carrots, stirring until beef is entirely browned. Dice chipotle peppers if using.
  3. Once beef is fully cooked add in both cans of tomatoes, diced chipotle peppers, and at least 3 tablespoons of adobo sauce (or as much as you can get out of the can) with cinnamon, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cover for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir chili, and add both cans of kidney beans. Here I've found that breaking down about half the beans, either with clean hands while adding them in or with the back of a spatula or potato masher while they're in the chili, results in a thicker and more substantial chili. Cook for at least 20 minutes on medium-low.
  5. Taste chili and add additional spices, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, or gluten free beer as you'd like. I'd recommend letting this come together on a low setting for as long as you can, but if you're in a rush bring it back up to medium heat for 5 minutes and serve! It'll still be delicious, especially with lots of cheese on top and salty or savory sides!

How do you make gluten free chili at home? Do you have a favorite gluten free beer to cook with?

Roasted Chickpeas

If it's salty, I'll eat it. With pretty much only one exception (nuts, because I'm allergic), anything that is salty and I can grab a handful of is right up my alley. I've read all sorts of reviews of toasted chickpeas lately, and I figured I'd give them a spin during that past-lunch-but-don't-want-to-spoil-my-dinner-appetite times.  This was really easy, I really spent the most time working on peeling off the chickpea skins which you apparently don't have to do. 

Working reminds me of the new Diddy son - did you know he has a new album? And it's under his old name Puff Daddy instead of P Diddy or Diddy. My personal favorite is Workin with Travis Acott and Big Sean because it's just hilarious and driving and a whole lot of fun.

But anyway, the chickpeas! The other bonus is that the different toppings were all things o had on the house, so there's nothing else you really have to go out for. I made three different kinds - plain with sea salt, spiced, and honey cinnamon. I'd say the honey cinnamon was my favorite, but my mom preferred the plain with sea salt. Overall these were good, but honestly next time I'd probably make a big batch of popcorn. I think I was looking for a relatively healthy but salty snack, but by the time you'd make these chickpeas salty enough you might as well chug a bottle of sodium (or get hot and sour soup at a Chinese restaurant). I definitely honk these are worth trying at home, and I'm open to suggestions for better flavor combos to make these little guys shine.

 

Serves: 2-3 as a snack

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1/2 tablespoon sea salt

For Spiced Chickpeas:

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

For Honey Cinnamon Chickpeas:

  • 1/2 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Small pinch sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Drain and rinse chickpeas in a colander. Dry well with paper towels and let sit to dry for at least a few minutes. If any skins are peeling from chickpeas, pull them off, otherwise leave on. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line pan or baking sheet with aluminum foil (if using baking sheet, roll up sides to avoid chickpeas falling into oven), and add chickpeas, EVOO, and sea salt. Toss to combine and roast for 25-30 minutes, shaking halfway through.
  3. While chickpeas are roasting, prepare flavors. With either topping option, combine thoroughly in small bowl to add hot chickpeas to when finished roasting. 
  4. Once chickpeas are browned (and some may pop! That's normal) and a sample chickpea is crispy all the way through and not soft inside, remove from oven and split into groups, adding chickpeas to each bowl you've created a flavor for. For plain chickpeas, add 1 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/2 tablespoon EVOO if chickpeas appear too dry for you.

Southern Wannabe Sides

Happy New Year! Hope you rang it in with loved ones and drank like you haven't since you were 19...erm, 21.

We lucked out in New England with some incredibly beautiful winter months, and in the last few days we're finally and sadly starting to be hit with full winter weather. To combat this freezing and dreary shit, we tried to comfort ourselves with some babyback ribs last night, and while my dad was responsible for those, I took on the responsibility of the sides. We haven't had real barbecue post-Celiac diagnosis, so making something at home felt like an opportunity to bring in some of the classic flavors. There was a bit of a problem though - the ribs were being dry-rubbed as I walked in the house, so I had one hour and only the ingredients already in the house. Challenge accepted!

I stayed in this hotel! Swear.

After writing the title I couldn't stop singing this in my head, so now you have to suffer/celebrate with me.

I ended up making a ridiculously simple side, a really easy side, and a surprisingly easy side. The ridiculously easy side was frozen sweet white corn kernels, which I microwaved and drained. Those were so easy but added such delicious sweetness - if I had more time I wanted to do a play on Chrissy Teigen's (LOVE HER btw) street corn salad, sauteing them after draining and adding some salty cheese and maybe avocado or other deliciousness. Alas, I decided to move on and spend time on the final side, so I won't spend any more time on the easiest piece.

The second side I made was a refreshing tomato salad. This was inspired by some heirloom tomato salad recipes I've seen lately, with vinegar and olive oil and s&p, and I added a little fun with some red onion slices. This took all of 3 minutes to prepare, and hung out with some plastic wrap in the fridge while I finished the real fun.

Which was...mac and cheese! In my world, barbecue is best served with some mashed potatoes, coleslaw and cornbread. But since we were low on supplies and time to find gluten-free cornbread recipes with the at-home ingredients, I decided to go with another family favorite. This mac and cheese took so little time to set up, and after cleaning the pot while it was in the oven I was left with absolutely zero pots or pans to clean. Big win right there.

Without further ado, here's how to put together three easy, gluten-free barbecue sides you can have on the table in under an hour with almost no work!

Serves: 5

Total Time: 1 hour (honestly probably only 40 minutes)

Ingredients:

For the Corn

  • 1 bag frozen sweet white corn 
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter and salt to serve (optional)

For the Salad

  • 8-10 cocktail tomatoes
  • 1/8 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (I used white modena)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-3 grinds of black pepper

For the Mac and Cheese

  • 1 box gluten free pasta - I went for Barilla gluten free elbows
  • 2-3 cups shredded or grated cheese - I used a bag of shredded white cheddar with some pieces of Cabot cheese and a sprinkle of grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 2 grinds black pepper
  • 1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Pour bag of sweet corn into microwave safe container, add water and cover,  heat in microwave for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, set a medium pot of water on high to boil.
  2. Wash and cut tomatoes into halves, then three or four pieces from each half (depending on size). Slice red onion into thin slices and add to bowl with tomatoes. Cover with olive oil, vinegar, sea salt and black pepper. Toss to coat and cover with plastic wrap, then leave in fridge until other ready to serve.
  3. Check on sweet corn in microwave, stirring and putting back in micro for another 3 minutes (or following instructions on the bag). Use cover to drain excess water from the container and let sit in micro until ready to serve. Add pasta to boiling water and cook as directed.
  4. Line a 8X8 pan with aluminum foil, then spray with vegetable oil spray - this will save you a whole pan's worth of cleaning (hands together or hands up emoji, your pick)! Drain pasta, and as it's sitting in the colander add butter, milk, and cheeses back on your burner but at medium-low heat. Stir to combine until you have a light sauce, adding in nutmeg and black pepper. Pour pasta in pot and stir to thoroughly combine, tasting to determine what other flavors/how much more cheese you need.
  5. Pour pasta mixture into lined pan and add breadcrumbs to top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tops start to brown - my picture could have used a few more minutes but everything else was ready and we were about to get hangry!
  6. Microwave corn for another 20-30 seconds if necessary, give your tomato salad a little stir to reincorporate everything and taste test because why not, and serve!

Our ribs were delicious if a tad bit overcooked, but for a first time learning experience for all parties involved in this home cooking challenge I'd call this a big success!

What's your favorite barbecue to cook at home? Any other gluten free sides I need to try?


Toasted Goat Cheese Salad

After a long weekend of delicious heavy food (in my case, a whole lot of chip and dip and chocolatey desserts), I need a bit of a detox. I've never been one to just give up - or I guess some people would say just the opposite - and go full-healthy. I'm always going to need an extra few treats to eat normally most of the time, and if I don't have cheese at least once, usually twice a day, I feel like my body would just self-destruct. I think this salad is a healthy balance of salty warm cheese and light leafy greens, something that will make you feel a bit less bloated but also keep you from feeling like you're magically a better person. Food is not going to make you a better person.*

So pop on some Tuesday morning tunes and let's get going! It's snowy and dreary in New England right now so I'm putting on a sunny and warm song from a lady I only became a fan of after listening to. If it's not Tuesday morning, pick some new tunes these ones are no longer in vogue.

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 log of goat cheese (or in the UK: "goat's cheese" *heart-eyes emoji*) cut with unflavored dental floss into wedges
  • 1 toasted piece of gluten free toast, crumbled in a food processor with 1 clove garlic, salt and pepper OR - and let's be real here - 3 tablespoons gluten free bread crumbs
  • 2 cups packed leafy greens or spinach
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar (Modena!)
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Pinch eat salt, pepper and sugar

Instructions

  1. Pour your crumb of poison - and seriously unless you have magical amounts of free time and aren't hungry (who thinks of cooking before they're hungry though? Psychopaths) it's the gluten free breadcrumbs - into a bowl. Gently dip each cheese wheel into the breadcrumbs, pushing into the crumbs to coat evenly on all sides.
  2. If you didn't buy a premix of salad, why? Seriously. Go wash and dry your greens and feel embarrassed that you didn't just take the easy way out. The rest of us are waiting and pouring our mix into our bowl.
  3. Heat nonstick pan at medium heat, and pour in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add cheese, turning to toast for about 1-2 minutes each side until it looks warm and ~melty~.
  4. Add cheese to salad and top with the rest of your vinegar, olive oil, salt pepper and sugar. Some people top the salad with each individual piece, some combine in a small bowl and pour over. I'm not going to tell you what to do, since honestly I do both depending on my mood. Today's mood votes the latter option, but I trust you.**


*Unless you share with me

**Unless you like skim milk more than 2%


Crumb Cake

I'm not a big breakfast person, but there are two things that always make me want more in the name of the most important meal of the day: bacon egg and cheese on a croissant (no-go here) and Boston Coffee Cake. If you never had it (and at this point unless you're a friend/family of someone with Celiac or gluten intolerance you just can't) I am so sorry. This is a - I know we all hate this word but there isn't another! - moist, soft, marbled cake that is miraculously made for the mornings.


Growing up, these cakes would be the special treat for holiday breakfast, and during college our mom might buy one on a morning you came home. That's how you know you're loved. My only qualm with them in the past was the inclusion of walnuts in their cinnamon coffee cake, ensuring that if I reeeeally wanted a bite I'd have to risk bloated itchy lips (and maybe anaphylaxis...), but luckily the chocolate chip marble cake was usually the family go-to.


Since our Celiac discovery, sadly those red and yellow striped boxes are out of our lives (unless and until they can come up with a gluten-free alternative?!). America's Test Kitchen has a Gluten Free cookbook though, and in Volume 2 I was excited to find a recipe for crumb cake that didn't look very difficult. My KitchenAid mixer had just come in the mail and I was itching (in a non-walnut way) to test it out, so I adapted the recipe below to try to find a version close to what I'm used to.


I was looking for a dense, soft cake with a lot of cinnamon flavor and a solid cinnamon sugar crumb topping that melds slightly into the cake. I would say this recipe was a big success, with two caveats. First, I accidentally made WAY too much topping, which ended up being a bit aggressive, even for this sugar addict. Second, and this is more something to keep in mind: although this tastes like an almost-perfect crumb cake, including gluten-full versions, there will still be a tiny little gummy taste at the end. But only once you think about it! I've sort of resigned myself to that fact though - no gluten-free cake is going to taste exactly like the gluten-full version - and as long as you do that you are in for a real treat! Thanks to ATK for their Gluten Free Cookbook Vol. 2,  I'm a big fan of the explanations of why certain techniques and products work best in different g-free recipes, and will definitely be testing out some more recipes (especially the new ones I scoped out online).

So if you're looking for the perfect post-holiday breakfast treat, look no further: here's my version of ATK's Crumb Cake. Full story: I originally misread the topping since it was in ounces and cups and made WAY too much, so I only included cups in the ingredients below, and I like this very cinnamon-ey. For the true ATK recipe check out their cookbook!

Serves: 10-12

Total Time: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

Topping:

  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and warm
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (really I just did a little sprinkle)
  • 1 1/3 cups ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend (in their cookbook)

Cake:

  • 1 1/3 cups ATK All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 6 tablespoons butter (it says unsalted but I only have/use salted so why not), but into pieces and softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Confectioners' sugar for serving - ATK recommends this but honestly with the extra cinnamon and topping I made I skipped it!

 

Instructions

  1. Start with the topping: Whisk butter, sugars, egg yolk, cinnamon in salt to combine. Add flour blend after using a rubber spatula until it looks like a thick dough. The rubber spatula makes a big difference here, although after a few minutes I just used my hands! Keep in mind I made 1 1/3 cups of sugars each instead of the 1/3 cup so yours will look smaller than mine (thank God).
  2. Start the cake: Heat oven to 325F with oven rack in the upper middle position. Cut parchment paper and fold to fit your pan - ATK recommends you use an 8 inch pan - then spray parchment with vegetable oil spray, letting extra parchment hand over the pan to pull the cake out later.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle or an insane amount of human strength, mix the flour blend, sugar, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum on low speed to combine (note: be careful with the xanthan gum! One dab of that on the table and even a hint of moisture and it's Gum City for you, buddy). Add butter one piece at a time and mix until you have a crumb-like mixture with no visible butter. Add sour cream, eggs and yolk, vanilla and cinnamon (exclude if you want the ATK version but why wouldn't you want more cinnamon??), increase mixer or your incredibly strong arms to medium-high, and beat until batter is light and fluffy.
  4. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Add the topping in pieces - what I did here was form small pieces with my hands and drop the pea-size (or slightly larger) pieces on the cake. After adding about half of the topping, I used my fingertips to create tiny wells in the topping to try to push pieces of it into the cake for that classic topping-cake fusion. Then add the rest of your topping chunks (ew! gross word I get it!) to the top of your cake, avoiding the growing OCD telling you that the amounts/heights aren't even. Bake for about 40 minutes or until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer (I use toothpicks) in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let cake cool in pan for 30 minutes, then pull from pan using parchment and add to plate. Serve with a confectioners' sugar dusting or just big glasses of milk! 

You can store this cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days - if it lasts past the first serving that is!

Gluten Free PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The hardest part of planning for Christmas is avoiding repetition. There are work parties, school parties, friend and family parties, and you're probably bringing some kind of food to every event. I am always psyched about this time of year because FOOD. So much food, and everything you could want - salty, savory, sweet, tangy, just the whole nine yards. 

The only problem with this is that you're probably experiencing a lot of repetition. A few chip and dips, some salads (fruit or veggie or lettuce variety), brownies and cakes. Whether your friends are bringing the same thing or you're making the same thing, here's your chance to switch it up.

 

I made Chungah's PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps copycat recipe for dinner, but this would be a really fun and pretty easy party snack as well! It's sweet and savory but can carry a little heat with sriracha or even some red pepper flakes. Everyone loves to serve themselves, and making semi-tacos with lettuce makes you feel a bit healthy! Or at least makes you feel like you deserve a few more chips with buffalo chicken dip.

 

Rice noodles in boiling water - easy to make but they're slimy little guys!

Rice noodles in boiling water - easy to make but they're slimy little guys!

Chungah's recipe is pretty spot on, so this is essentially how I cooked it using her recipe as a guide for what to purchase, with a few riffs to make it gluten free and based on personal preference. 

 

Serves: 4

Total Time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce (Boston or butter lettuce is great too! Probably want 2 heads though)
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained
  • 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons gluten free hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/3 pack gluten free rice noodles (optional)


Instructions

At the intersection of needs more cooking and time for everything else!

At the intersection of needs more cooking and time for everything else!

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry lettuce, cutting off bottom and carefully peeling to make lettuce shells. Mince garlic, dice onion and water chestnuts. If using rice noodles, set a pot of water to boil, then cover noodles with boiling water in a bowl and let sit.
  2. Heat wok or large pan on medium-high heat with olive oil. Once oil is hot, add garlic and toast until fragrant, then add chicken. Use a rubber spatula to stir and break down chicken into small pieces.
  3. Once chicken has started to brown, add onions, water chestnuts, soy, hoisin, oyster, vinegar, sriracha and sugar. Stir to coat and let sit for about five minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. While mixture is cooking, clean and cut green onions and drain rice noodles, cutting into smaller pieces. 
  5. Taste mixture again and top with green onions, then serve with lettuce and rice noodles.


Have you tried this copycat recipe? Any other gluten free recommendations to take it to the next level, like frying the rice noodles or adding extra ingredients? Thanks Chungah for doing the legwork on this copycat!

Chicken Tacos

Today we hit two of my favorite categories at once: lazy food and Tex-Mex. These extremely easy tacos involve minimal work and even less cleanup, so you can focus on what's really important in life: what to eat or drink next. We went on the lighter side with our toppings, trying regular and pineapple salsa, sliced avocado, and Cabot shredded cheddar. You could always walk on the wild side and add jalapeños, or stick with classics like lettuce or sour cream to add a little something.

Without further ado:

The unidentifiable thing is a tea light! Just FYI since I know you care 

The unidentifiable thing is a tea light! Just FYI since I know you care 

Total time: 1 hour

Serves: 5

Ingredients:

image.jpeg
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers - red and orange look great here!
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 pack Taco shells - Trader Joe's or Old El Paso have great gluten free ones
  • Toppings: avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, lettuce

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Trim and cut chicken into bite sized pieces, then cut onions and peppers into long slices.
  2. Add peppers, onions, and chicken to foil pan along with olive oil, salt, pepper and chili powder. Stir to combine and add to oven for 40 minutes, shaking and rotating halfway through.
  3. Heat taco shells ton foil sheet in oven according to directions.
  4. Serve tacos with chicken and veggies with added toppings. If tacos split in half, enjoy as Mexican-style pizzas!

Roasted Beet Salad

 

I feel like there hasn't been a lot of middle ground here. The food I make (and eat) is either super healthy or really unhealthy. That might be my perfect life balance though - simple and quick food that is super rich and dense and usually also salty, battled with very light meals or snacks that make you like yourself again. Or maybe that's not the best way to phrase it. Liking yourself is why you have those treats, and wanting to keep liking yourself and not feel like an oompa loompa is why you switch over to healthy food on occasion.

IMG_8598.JPG


If you've never heard of this save it for a time you don't mind being totally freaked out by an animated clip.

This lunch is part of that healthy end. As I mentioned before, I'm not really into salad (except quoting Salad Fingers) unless there are a lot of fatty and salty items on top - bacon, heavy dressing, handfuls of cheese. Cobb salads are where it's at. This little guy though is for when you're in between meals or planning on a big holiday feast for dinner and want to feel like you can go, well, H.A.M.

 

Beets are like the easiest thing to make, and they are insanely delicious. There's something about making everything you eat them with a little pink mess that is just a blast, from a full salad with Craisins and veggies to some mixed greens and feta or goat cheese, which is what I've done here. I like to make my own salad dressing for this since I've found prepackaged ones are a bit too heavy here and don't hit the beet/cheese combo just the way I'd like, but feel free to skip my steps and use whatever you have on hand!

In the past I've cut the tops and bottoms off of my beets, slathered them in a little olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and peeled and cut them after they're out of the oven. I went a little Ina Garten (I have a lot of mixed feelings to share about Ina another day) and cut off the skin and chopped them before roasting, which I have to say was pretty genius. In about an hour you'll eat so well you'll feel like you deserve a big plate of nachos or tub of ice cream for dinner.

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 4 medium beets
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pinch crushed black pepper
  • 3 cups packed mixed greens
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Vinegar (I use white Modena for feta and Balsamic for goat cheese)

Instructions

A little wrap example/size comparison

A little wrap example/size comparison

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut tops and bottoms off of each beet, then wash and dry thoroughly with the rest of the skin on. Some people recommend washing and using the beet greens, but I've never been impressed enough with the ones I get to follow through.
  2. Cut off remaining beet skin. I bet you could use a vegetable peeler, but I had a good knife and found it came off pretty easily once you're underneath the skin to cut everything off. Cut beets into smaller pieces that are about double what you would deem bite-sized.
  3. Add beets to the center of a piece of aluminum foil large enough to wrap at the top. Cover with 1 tablespoon of EVOO and sea salt and pepper. Mix around with your hands to coat.
  4. Close aluminum foil up tightly, and place inside/on another pan lined with foil (broken foil drippings in an oven are no joke! Trust.). Bake in oven for 40 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes before serving or you will burn your tongue off.
  5. Prepare mixed greens - I go for a prepackaged, prewashed deal that encourages me to live my sloth life - with your choice of cheese and other veggies or toppings. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of EVOO with your choice of vinegar, salt and pepper (honestly I sneak a little sugar in there too to give it some warmth), and pour over salad. Add warm beets and enjoy!

I've found the best way to store beets is to put them in a bowl that you put inside a large resealable bag. This keeps them fresh and keeps beet-colored juice from destroying everything you love. Anyone else make this salad? Any different ingredients or salad dressings I should know about?


Is It Okay to Say My Hot Chocolate Is Dank?

...Open for discussion.

I recently made Flourless Chocolate Cake, and one of the ingredients I'd needed for it was unsweetened cocoa. Now, as soon as it's cold out I'm a huge hot chocolate fan (half because of the whipped cream half because chocolate let's be honest), but I usually reach for the delicious, nutritious (um, maybe?) Trader Joe's sipping chocolate. It is seriously "dat good dat good" - I think Wiz Khalifa would agree.

Anywho, now that I have some nice unsweetened hot cocoa I thought I'd go all out and make some homemade hot chocolate. It only felt appropriate to make this a play on my favorite non-alcoholic beverage - a latte - so I used my stovetop espresso maker and some Peet's grounds to make a little faux-spresso. Feel free to add/subtract whatever you want but you should really only be adding to this bad boy.

Serves: As many as you want bud! I made for myself so just multiply by your friends (imaginary or otherwise)

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Minimum 1 cup (really whatever will fit in your biggest mug) milk - 2% or whole or go home. Seriously.
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (I had regular Hershey's but you could go anywhere g-free it's your world)
  • 1/2 tablespoon specialty hot chocolate mix you have around (again, g-free but that's your only limit! I used TJ's Sipping Chocolate)
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • An appropriate amount of ground coffee for someone your age/size/level of exhaustion
  • Whipped cream, chocolate shavings, chocolate syrup, whatever you want you're an adult!

Instructions:

  1. Start brewing that espresso! If you have a stovetop espresso maker add your poison and start brewing! Regular coffee machine? Knock yourself out! Keurig? Go ahead! True espresso maker? Be my friend?!
  2. In a pot appropriate to the amount of milk you're working with, turn your stove on medium. Stir milk occasionally.
  3. Once the milk is piping hot but not bubbling, stir in next five ingredients. Whisk thoroughly.
  4. Add espresso/coffee/oh you fancy huh to mugs.
  5. Pour hot chocolate mix over caffeinated selection in mug.
  6. Smother in whipped cream and additional toppings.
  7. Pull up an old Downton Abbey and feel sad that there's only one season left. But isn't that better than the show going off the rails? I guess so. But MARY.

What am I missing? Let me know if you can Pimp My Hot Chocolate even further!

Beef Stir Fry

One of the things I recently discussed in my Stir Fry Sauces Review in the Shopping section here was the difficulty in finding a nice place to have a delicious Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean etc. dinner. Not that any other restaurant is totally easier; it's definitely give and take with each individual establishment. But so many Asian ingredients rely on soy or wheat or other things our precious Celiac friends/family/selves can't have. And there is nothing more frustrating than thinking you've found a restaurant that can safely serve you something good and find out you have two options, both of which are chicken with a vegetable.

So to satisfy our iron-deficient friends (and really why take an iron pill when there's so much delicious red meat out there? Oh it's really bad anemia? Sorry definitely take that pill too), I've outlined exactly what I make for our family stir fry.

In college - okay first of all I need to acknowledge that my university had the BEST. Seriously BEST. Dining locations of all time. Sorry Kanye but I have to overrule you on this one. It's continuously rated at the top of the college dining lists, and because I was so spoiled there I was able to try so many things I never ate before (salmon! sushi!) and make at home on the reg now (not the sushi that's way too much work for me when I can buy it).

Do I have a picture on my phone of my recent college stir fry visit? Of course I do.

Do I have a picture on my phone of my recent college stir fry visit? Of course I do.

One of the biggest stations at the multiple dining halls is the stir fry. At one of the closest dining halls to me my junior and senior years I was always impressed by the workflow at these stations. Huge woks over these giant flames, sitting in the middle of these sort of trays of running water that would be added to woks to clean them between customers. You'd line up at the little salad-style bar and add your veggies to your bowl. At the front of the line, you'd hand over your plate and tell the chefs what you'd like for your protein (usually steak and chicken, sometimes shrimp instead of one of the two) and what sauces you want. Most people say "everything and (how much "spicy" you want)." The spicy part is the tricky piece. For years I said no spicy, always ensuring a joking conversation with whichever chef was manning my wok as they'd pretend they misunderstood. Once they had added your protein and cooked it up, with huge flames for extra excitement, they'd add your veggies and hand you your bowl. You would take that bowl to the rice (white or brown), add it to your bowl, and by the time you came back your stir fry was hot as hell and covered in sauce, which the chefs would pour over your rice.

Whew. So now you know how to order like a regular.

During and right after college I started to make this at home - HUGE hit. Like you cannot overdo the success this dish has in our house. And really the most work is cleaning and cutting the veggies and cutting up the protein you've selected. I always vote steak. One its steak so it's delicious, and two I think it absorbs the flavors a bit better than chicken does. But do whatever you want, it's your party and I'm not behind you acting like a backseat cook (what a weird image).

And the version you can make at home! (Almost) just as easy

And the version you can make at home! (Almost) just as easy

So here we go! Head over to that Sauce Review to get the skinny on the sauce prep, and once you have those and literally any veggies and protein you like you're in business! In terms of veggies, I look for different colors, and then within those varying textures (broccoli vs peppers, for instance) and for things that will absorb sauce well (broccoli again, a real winner here). That being said there have been many many days where I just use whatever veggies we have in the house. Minute rice is not only acceptable but encouraged! Do what you can to eat quickly. There are a few dishes to clean, but I promise it's worth it.

And who really cares? The rule in our house is that if you cook you don't do the dishes. If that's not a rule at your house it will be after you cook this. And no one will mind - promise. If you just realized you're starving (which no one is according to my mother; "you can be hungry but not starving") and are making this for one good news: basically no dishes for you since you're using so much less!

God this will be a long post. TIME FOR THE GOOD STUFF IF YOU'RE SCROLLING:

Serves: 5 large servings (which you deserve)

Total Time: 1 hour (unless you are a veggie cleaning and cutting champ then probably 30)

Ingredients:

The OCD in me is so relaxed right now

The OCD in me is so relaxed right now

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauteeing
  • 2 lb sirloin tips (or whatever lightly marbled steak tips you find, don't waste time on the cheap "stir fry" steaks available they're just not as good!)
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 clove garlic (2 if you want to go wild since you're smelling up the house anyway)
  • 1 cup snow peas
  • 2 heads broccoli (I cheated here! For the first time! Wegmans precut broccoli slayed, I just cut them a little bit smaller)
  • 1 large carrot
  • Any other veggies you have hanging around! I go for different colors but zucchini, frozen peas, cauliflower, or anything else you have around would be excellent. 
  • 3 cups white rice - let's be real and just go with the Minute Rice kiddos
  • 4 tablespoons gluten free Oyster Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons gluten free Hoisin Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons gluten free Teriyaki Sauce (or local Stir Fry sauce that's light and sweet)
  • 1 cup gluten free beef stock (or beef bouillon in 1 cup microwaved water)

Instructions

  1. Wash and cut the veggies. I go for small, bite sized pieces. Think about how these will fry up and how long different pieces will take - I usually cut carrots into thin strips - and how they will best absorb the sauce (i.e. cutting the broccoli into tiny florets). Make sure the veggies are thoroughly dried with paper towels, to make sure they cook properly in your oil.
  2. Cut your steak into bite sized pieces. I've found kitchen scissors do the best job. 
  3. In a wok or large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat, adding half of your minced garlic (a garlic press works wonders here). This is the point that you want to run around and close the doors to all the rooms you don't want to stink up, and maybe/definitely open your kitchen window a bit.
  4. As soon as the oil is hot (and I mean put your hand an inch or two away from the pan to feel the heat hot), add in your beef, stirring continuously. As soon as the beef is mostly brown, add 2 tablespoons each of the Teriyaki (or Stir Fry sauce), Oyster and Hoisin. Continue to stir, adding a half a cup of your stock to ensure there is extra sauce for later!
  5. Once all beef is cooked and coated in sauce, take a sample. Make sure the flavors are right - real chefs do it all the time! Add whatever you need as appropriate - maybe a few red pepper flakes, maybe some extra salt in the form of gluten free soy sauce - then pour your steak from your wok to a ceramic dish with a cover until it's veggie sisters are ready to hang.
  6. In between batches is the time to start on your rice. Add the appropriate amount of water for your servings and put on high heat.
  7. Clean out your wok a bit with a few dry paper towels, then add the rest of your olive oil and garlic to the wok and let them heat up. This should only take a second since it's already super hot!
  8. Add veggies, starting with the ones that will take the longest to cook. For me, those are the onions, peppers, snow peas, and carrots. The broccoli can take a backseat for a minute since it's going to fill up the pan anyway.
  9. Around this time your water should be boiling for the rice - add in your rice, pull off the burner and cover so it'll be ready in time with your stir fry!
  10. For the starter veggies, I like to give them a few minutes - let's say 5 - to start to cook. Toss them around a lot with a rubber spatula to try to give everyone a chance at the hottest part of the pan.
  11. Once the others have had a little attention add whatever's left, just broccoli in my case. Add the rest of the Teriyaki/stir fry sauce, Oyster and Hoisin, and stir to coat. Pour over the remaining stock, and cover. Let the mixture cook with the extra liquid for about 10 minutes, opening to toss around every 2 or 3 minutes.
  12. Season again! Make sure your veggies have the appropriate taste and texture you want for your stir fry, trying a few different types of vegetables to be thorough.  Then add your veggies to your beef in the serving dish, or vice versa and throw your beef in the wok with the veggies. Just get those two best friends together and give them a big stir to incorporate.
  13. Fluff up the rice and serve! Some people do rice on the side, some do right on top. I am of the latter party that enjoys a big party of flavors melded together, but do your thing.

Happy eating! 
 

Do you have a standby stir fry dish or variations you think I should try? Any thoughts on noodles vs. rice for this stir fry?

 

 

 

 
 
 

Kale Salad

Only within the last two or so years have I become a big kale fan. I thought it was one of those super earthy-crunchy snacks, and I'm a little too mainstream foodie to buy into anything super outside of the box. But I realized my mistake as soon as I tried it - kale is really just what lettuce should be. Less listless than iceburg and with the extra crunch you wish romaine had.

Now, it should be noted that I am really not a soup and salad gal. A salad is pretty much never a whole meal for me. It's a great side, but unless I just had a big Chinese-food lunch or ate a hundred burgers, I am not going to have a salad as a standalone. What's (probably) worse, my kinds of salads include heavy dressing, lots of cheese, and a few flavorful standard veggies.  So..."healthy" but not really healthy. Whatever gets you to eat some vegetables though right? Right?

For this salad, I had already had a big breakfast at noon, and I wanted a little something before dinner that wouldn't make me feel like I'd eaten a days worth of food before three o'clock. I had some kale and some local eggs in the fridge, and there's really nothing easier than that.

Serves: 1

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • A few leaves of kale, dependent on size
  • 1 large or 2 small eggs
  • Lots of cheese (I used shredded Cabot cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons Ranch dressing (Marie's gives you the homemade flavor but I do love some Hidden Valley)
  • Black pepper to taste

 

 

Instructions

  1. Add egg(s) and enough water to cover by an inch in a small pot. Put on burner and set to High.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry kale, and rip into small bite-size pieces. Add to bowl and cover with some cheese and dressing.
  3. Once water in pot starts to boil, place on a cool burner and cover. For medium farm-fresh eggs leave for 9-10 minutes, for large store-bought leave for 12-13.
  4. Empty water from pot and run cold water over drained eggs. Refresh water in pot and add ice, let eggs sit to cool for 5-10 minutes (as long as you can stand, really). Dry and crack eggs to peel, and cut however your little heart desires.
  5. Add eggs to salad, cover with black pepper and extra cheese/dressing/whatever makes you feel like your salad is more or less healthy than it actually is.

Flourless Chocolate #CakeCakeCake

The saddest part abut going g-free for many people are the desserts they have to push away. Luckily for you, one of my personal favorite (non-ice cream) desserts has no gluten anyway! And it's super easy. And Rihanna even wrote a song about it! Okay nix that last one.

I was looking for a holiday dessert that would please a crowd of assorted food-allergies/intolerances/Celiacs and I think this is the winner! Thanks to Whole Foods for creating the original recipe, although I've made a few little tweaks. On the whole though a pretty easy cake for a pretty lazy person (read: me). This is a super rich cake though, as you'll notice skimming the ingredients. Those with delicate stomachs, beware!

I followed the ingredients exactly as recommended, so with Whole Food's permission I will copy their instructions (link again is above), sneaking in my cooking notes alongside their recommendations for you!

Serves: Well there have been about 10 servings so far and a little less than half is still in my fridge so...a party size?

Total Time: I'd guess about an hour and a half, including cake cooking and cooling time

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (gluten free - I went a bit wild and used the Nestle semi-sweet I had in the house and loved it)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray, too, then set the pan aside.
  2. Place two-thirds (8 ounces) of the chocolate and 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stirring often, melt chocolate with butter until completely blended. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. (Alternatively, you may use your microwave to melt the butter with the chocolate, if desired). Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Kerry's interruption: Now I had just used a whisk at this point since my only other option at the time was an electric hand mixer but I was feeling too lazy to clean it after. I made it through three eggs and had to switch over - it gets so thick! Unless you are the Incredible Hulk or Popeye the Sailor post-spinach consumption, use an electric hand or **stand mixer** (oohs and ahhs). Sift cocoa into bowl and stir until just blended. 
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake has risen and top has formed a thin crust. The cake should be just firm in the center when done. Kerry's interruption again: So I went for the minimum, 35 minutes and my cake was really browned on the top and sides. This seems to be a theme, although I can't decide if it's my oven or gluten free goods. I'd recommend keeping an eye out either way - I'm going to pull it out at 25 or 30 next time. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate, removing sides of springform pan. Remove and discard parchment paper and set cake aside to cool completely. In my case, this involved flicking off the hard bits on the top, which looked fine particularly thanks to step 4!
  4. Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze. Melt remaining 4 ounces chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, then stir in milk, honey and vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly. 
  5. When cake has cooled, pour glaze onto the center. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, very gently smooth glaze along the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes before serving to set the glaze and make the cake easier to slice.

A few notes: don't forget to remove the parchment paper! May or may not have forgotten last time, but it sat with the rest of the cake so it wasn't an issue. This cake stays very well in the fridge, so keep it comfy in there for leftovers.

Mussels for a Weakling

I mean, I'm not THAT weak. Although I was never able to pull myself up on the handlebars in gym class. 

Water in the glass, wine right from the bottle. Hashtag classy feels appropriate.

Water in the glass, wine right from the bottle. Hashtag classy feels appropriate.

Mussels! A restaurant-quality dish that you don't have to spend 1 spend a lot of money at a restaurant and 2 can make pretty quickly at home. There are all sorts of fun recipes for mussels - fra diavolo, in a cream sauce, in beer (not for us!) - but my favorite is just some simple mussels in a white wine sauce. Not only does this save us from having to use a cart at the grocery store, so we don't have to fight other pushy people in a cart battle-to-the-death/checkout lane, but it means we have some leftover wine that you must drink from the bottle. Don't waste a glass!

Serves: 4 

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 lb mussels (1 lb per person)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups dry white wine for recipe
  • Remaining dry white wine for you (and a guest or two if you're feeling generous)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 diced or minced shallots (dependent on how lazy you are)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (I use a little sprinkle, use what you can handle!
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (gluten free) or water

As you may have noticed, the ingredients are a lot of "a little bit of this, a little bit of that" so I highly recommend jamming to this as you gather them. For the Monica, Erica and Ritas  that make your mussels so great.

 

Instructions

  1. Scrub and debeard mussels. This is honestly the most work you'll have to do. While debearding the mussels, I highly recommend using something stronger than your two fingers to try to pull that hanging string out - maybe a paper towel between your pointer finger and thumb? I'm really open to suggestions here so please comment with what you do! Discard any broken or lousy looking mussels.
  2. Add butter and olive oil to a large pot and turn on medium.
  3. Once butter and olive oil have melted a bit, add red pepper flakes, lemon zest and shallots until fragrant, about a minute or two. Add onions and cook, another 5 or so minutes, stirring throughout.
  4. Add wine (minding the potential for a splash near your moneymaker [face]!), stock/water and mussels, then cover your pot and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. With both hands (and potholders!), hold either end of your pot and attempt to give a shake in one fluid motion. This is a bit trickier than it seems, since you don't want to shake too hard and break any shells, but you do want to try to cook everything evenly. Practice in front of the mirror if you'd like, but this seems to be a skill acquired only through true practice. So I hope you like eating mussels every day kids. Cook for another five minutes or until almost all shells are open.
  6. Serve mussels in bowls with parsley on top and black pepper, discarding any broken shells or mussels that didn't open (shame on them). Enjoy with some g-free bread and all that wine you didn't use for your recipe. Honestly I am such a fan of mussel broth I could eat it with a spoon, so if that's what you resort to you're my kind of friend.

Pasta and Meatballs

There are few things as comforting as pasta and meatballs. When my dad was recently diagnosed with Celiac I think the first type of food our family thought we'd have to cut out was Italian. Now, we're big meat and potatoes Irish people, but don't come between us and our carbs - particularly when they involve sauce ("gravy" in some places according to Guy Fieri but I'm sorry guys that grosses me out).

What else do you think of when someone mentions spag(h)ett-i and meatballs?

Luckily though, Barilla makes some solid g-free pasta - it tastes like normal pasta to me so I would HIGHLY recommend. There's plenty of g-free jarred tomato sauce as well (although I'm a big fan of my simple sauce to come soon), so this family fave is still on rotation.

Too hungry to take the picture with the penne in the box!

Too hungry to take the picture with the penne in the box!

My dad actually did the honors with these bad boys, adapting a Betty Crocker recipe as follows:

Feeds: 5

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs (we used 4C, below)
  • 1/4 cup milk (we use whole or 2% - anything else is water)
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • Jarred (or Kerry's special) gluten free pasta sauce
  • 1 box/12 oz gluten free pasta (we use Barilla gluten free penne)
  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil; spray with cooking spray. Bring pot of water to boil and cook according to directions.
  2. In large bowl, mix all ingredients. Shape mixture into about 16 meatballs. Place 1 inch apart in pan. Heat sauce (in microwave if you hate dishes or in a pot if you're civilized - no judgement here).
  3. Bake uncovered 18 to 22 minutes or until no longer pink in center.

Serve with loads of cheese and glasses of (again either 2% or whole there is no debate) milk!


Baked Eggs (Or if We're Being Fancy - Shakshuka!)

I'll admit: I stalked the images and recipes for Shakshuka, or eggs baked in tomato sauce, for a long time before I tried making it myself. I was a little tentative about actually trying it because 1 I wasn't sure how I'd like the eggs with tomato sauce combo and 2 there seemed to be lots of spices that I wasn't too amped about but I didn't want it to be bland either.

Finally I got off my dupa, as my grandmother would say, and gave it a try. Most recipes I found for this dish served a whole group out of a skillet, but since I didn't want to waste a whole bunch of eggs in case I decided I hated it (and come on when was the last time I hated food? Never.), I opted to use two individual baking dishes. This recipe is then built for one, but feel free to multiply it for a group and use a skillet instead.

So what really is Shakshuka? Tomato sauce - please use a quick homemade one I swear it makes a difference - that baked eggs are tucked into, full of spices and pockets of cheese! What could be better. 

Serves: 1

Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup homemade tomato sauce (or gluten free tomato sauce from the store fine I get it)
  • Sprinkle (1/2 teaspoon) paprika
  • Sprinkle (1/2 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • Sprinkle (1/2 teaspoon) cayenne
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes, or what you can stand (my weak Irish palate can only manage so much!)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup crumbly and salty cheese - I recommend feta or goat cheese
"We're not cute now, but soon we'll be HOT!"

"We're not cute now, but soon we'll be HOT!"

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. If reheating sauce, warm up on the stove or in a microwave-safe container (I know you and I know what you're doing. Go for it). 
  2. Add paprika, cumin, cayenne, and red pepper flakes to sauce, and divide between dishes (or in a skillet if you're going all in).
  3. Create a slight indent in each individual dish, or pockets for as many eggs as you have in your skillet. Gently crack eggs into each pocket.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that good manners indicates you should taste all food before seasoning it, so maybe don't overdo it before that puppy's done (hey dad are you reading this blog jw). Add cheese of choice around, on top of - hell sneak some cheese in with your sauce for a surprise later!
  5. At this point I'd recommend putting smaller dishes on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil to avoid clean up later. Add this to your oven and bake for 7-10 minutes, until just set.
  6. Voila! You are Ina Garten level cool. Now add  your extra s&p or hot sauce or whatever you want, LL Cool J.


Sauteed Kale

This is probably one of those you have to trust me recipes. 

If you don't, well...I don't actually blame you.

But I promise this easy recipe will be worth it! Sauteing kale until it's a little crunchy (which makes it a little salty) and throwing in a few flecks of sriracha creates a side or snack made for the gods. Healthy gods, but gods-worthy nonetheless. It's salty, crunchy, and guilt-free (not that that's ever stopped us from enjoying something right).

 

Serves: One (multiply for more, obv)

Total Time: 10 minutes (or more, depending on how slow of a veggie washer you are. Veggie washer. What a weird phrase.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, for sauteeing
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (let's be real I only use about 4 - I'm weak!)
  • 2 cups kale
  • Sriracha or hot sauce, to taste

Instructions:

Very little olive oil - we want the heat of the pan not oily kale!

Very little olive oil - we want the heat of the pan not oily kale!

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry kale, breaking into small pieces as you dry and discarding stems.
  2. Heat up olive oil in small pan on medium heat. with pepper flakes.
  3. Add kale, tossing around bowl occasionally, ensuring each piece has its time at the bottom of the pan. Kale is ready when it has a few seemingly burnt sides (They won't taste burnt! Just crispy and delicious! Trust! It's important!).
  4. Once kale is a bit browned, add it to a bowl with a few flecks of spicy sauce of choice and enjoy!

I first had this at Galentine's Day last year and totally forgot about it until there were some farmshare goodies my coworker offered up! I was wondering why I liked it so much with the sriracha until I remembered the best food in Hawai'i:

Poke bowls! 

This looks pretty bogus, sure, but it is honestly the BEST. Every time I went here for work I grabbed at least one from Da Poke Shack. It's fresh fish (usually tuna or salmon) in whatever marinade or sauce you choose with rice and sides! Here I went for the spicy option with seaweed and brown rice. Add a bit of sriracha and goddamn.

Now I'm looking through my poke bowl pictures. There are more than I think I should admit.

Anywho! I think the next kale-adventure will be kale chips. Any words of wisdom before I begin?


The Case of The Homemade Rustic Bread

God damn. From the picture you'd think my first g-free bread attempt went swimmingly, right? Like that is some good-looking bread. Smelled great too. Then you pick it up and try to cut it. A normal knife could only scrape the surface of that bad boy, and when I tried to use an electric knife I ended up with a thumb gash that a week later my mom decided I should've had stitched up.

So.

This recipe is more of an adventure for our readers than it is a ringing endorsement.

My poor dad has been a real trouper about his non-wheat bread, but it's been clear that there's a difference between his bread with wheat and his current version. I attempted to mitigate this transition by creating America's Test Kitchen's gluten free rustic bread, using their flour blend - all found in their "How Can It Be Gluten-Free Cookbook Vol. 2" (spoiler alert: I can tell you how for this recipe). I should mention that although this bread was nearly impossible to cut - watching what looked like sawdust from the crust being cut as I finally succeeded with the knife was a real turn-off - it doesn't taste that bad. In fact, my dad said it was the closest he'd tasted to real bread so far. All you'd do is wrap a piece in a damp paper towel and microwave for ten seconds, slather with butter, and enjoy a pretty decent snack.*

Long story short - ATK's cookbook is great if only for their ideas, and I'm hoping by creating more recipes that I'll end up loving their book, but I would not recommend making the rustic bread.

Everything looks and smells beautiful, but for the price of the ingredients and time involved it'd be easier to buy this at a local G-Free store and save your finger from being sliced.

 

 

*EIGHT. HOURS. LATER.