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%


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.

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?