Monthly Archives: January 2014

Roasted Rosemary Carrots

roasted carrots with rosemary

I’ve got another super-easy vegetable solution for you this week, complete with a super-easy video showing you just now super-easy it is to make.

Doesn’t that sound super-GREAT?

Okay, maybe I’m getting a tad over-excited. After all, we’re talking about carrots here, right? But these carrots, in my opinion, are worth getting excited about. They take only a few minutes to prepare, and after a little time hanging out in the oven, they emerge with caramelized edges and sweet, carrot-y goodness that can please any palate. Who wouldn’t get excited about that?

Check out the video (and feel free to subscribe, so you can be notified as soon as I post new videos to YouTube). You’ll even get to see my dogs and their affinity for carrots. They tend to always be nearby if I am cutting up carrots – it’s by far their favorite vegetable.

Print Recipe

Roasted Rosemary Carrots (gluten-free, vegan)

5-6 large carrots, peeled if desired

1 T rosemary needles, chopped

1/4 – 1/2 t kosher salt, or to taste

1 1/2 – 2 T coconut oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces (I cut mine about 3/4 inch thick). Toss carrots with rosemary, salt, and coconut oil until evenly coated. Spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning over about halfway through the baking time, until the carrots are browned and tender. Remove from oven and serve.

Serves 2-3.

Sriracha-Curry Hot Wings

Sriracha curry hot wings

Looking for a fun appetizer for the “Big Game” this coming weekend?

Honestly, I’m not even sure how of the Superbowl much my hubby and I will be watching. It’ll be on, certainly, as we don’t mind watching the Broncos, but we will always be Dallas Cowboys fans first and foremost; even though they’ve pretty much stunk up the place for many years now. Also, we are old and require an early bedtime. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have good munchies.

Even if you’re not a football fan, these wings will certainly be something to celebrate. They’re easy (no frying required), and they pack a punch of spicy flavor, thanks to Madras curry powder and Sriracha. While I may not have announced it often here, I have to confess: I am a huge fan of all things Sriracha. It’s a delicious, spicy-but-not-too-spicy condiment. When you have something that needs just a little oomph, Sriracha can be just that “thing.” I enjoy it especially on fried rice and eggs, but honestly, it’s excellent on just about anything. These wings are another such place where it compliments the curry flavor perfectly without overwhelming it. They’re complex in flavor, but easy to make and eat. Best of all, they’re finger food, and what better for a party than finger food?

What do you like to serve at a Superbowl party?

Print Recipe

Sriracha-Curry Hot Wings (gluten-free, dairy-free)

3 lbs chicken wings, drummettes and flats separated (save wing tips for chicken stock)

2 t Madras curry powder

2 t ground coriander

1/4 t cayenne powder

1 1/2 t kosher salt

1/3 c canned full-fat coconut milk

1 T Sriracha

1/2 t honey

1 t gluten-free soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top of the foil.

In a large bowl, add the wings. In a small bowl, mix together the curry powder, coriander, cayenne, and salt. Add to the wings and toss well, ensuring each wing is well-seasoned.

Place wings in a single layer on top of the rack, ensuring none touch. Bake on center rack in oven for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, Sriracha, honey, and soy sauce. When wings are done baking, toss them in the sauce to coat.

Serves 4-6.

 

 

 

Fish Tacos with Southwestern Cabbage Slaw

fish tacos

I casually mentioned on Facebook the other day about a “foodie” related resolution I was making for this year – getting more comfortable with cooking seafood. You see, living in landlocked Dallas means seafood is often more expensive, meaning I have historically tended towards land animals for our protein sources. But not all of seafood is prohibitively expensive. There’s some reasonably-priced seafood around, especially the varieties local to the Gulf coast. There are also reasonably priced wild-caught options that are flash frozen. It’s not always optimal, but I can still make some good dishes with frozen seafood.

So therefore, I am making it my mission to learn to cook many more seafood varieties over the next year. I’ll be attempting to make something at least once a week. They might not always show up here, but I’ll definitely share if there are winners! One such winner? These super-easy fish tacos.

I found some flash-frozen wild-caught cod on sale. While this kind of purchase isn’t usually excellent for a dish where the fillet needs to be beautiful, they’re perfect for tacos, where the shape and size of the fish isn’t all that important. And with a bit of seasoning, a quick visit in the cast iron skillet, and topped with a simple cabbage slaw, these tacos make for a healthy, easy dinner. The cod, pan-fried in coconut oil, has pleasing little crispy edges that compliment the crunchy, slightly spicy slaw. Corn tortillas make the perfect delivery vehicle, and are a simple, naturally gluten-free option. From start to finish, these tacos can be ready in 30 minutes or less. Best part? They definitely won the husband “seal of approval”. There were no leftovers.

Also, I’ve made my first “how-to” video, just for you! In an attempt to hopefully give you more insight into the goings-on of my kitchen (and to demonstrate just how easy this recipe truly is), I’m sharing with you some instructions on how to make the slaw for these tacos. I hope you’ll agree that once you see just how little time it takes to whip up, you’ll be sure to add it to your menu. I hope to provide even more simple videos in the future. Stay tuned!

Without further adieu, here’s the video.

And the written recipe!

Print Recipe

Fish Tacos with Southwestern Cabbage Slaw (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 lb cod fillets

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t each chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder

2-3 T coconut oil

8 corn tortillas, warmed (I like to toast them in a dry skillet)

Sour cream (dairy-free or regular) and/or avocados, if desired, for topping

Southwestern Cabbage Slaw, recipe below

Pat the cod fillets very dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together the salt and spices. Season the cod fillets with the spice blend.

In a cast iron skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the cod fillets, 2-3 minutes per side, until browned and crispy on the edges and cooked through. Remove and allow to sit on a paper towel-lined plate.

To make tacos, break apart fillets into a few pieces and place pieces in each corn tortilla. Top with sour cream or avocado if desired. Top with cabbage slaw and serve.

Serves 2-3.

simple slaw

Southwestern Cabbage Slaw (gluten-free, vegan)

2 c shredded or thinly sliced cabbage

1 large carrot, peeled and julienned (I like to use my julienne peeler for ease)

5 green onions, sliced thinly

3 T chopped fresh cilantro

1 T finely chopped jalapeno

1 T lemon juice

1 T olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, add the cabbage, carrot, green onions, and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk together the chopped jalapeno, lemon juice, olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour this dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss until well-combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve or use for fish tacos.

 

 

Ways To Incorporate More Vegetables Into Your Day

vegetable collage

The other day on The Balanced Platter I encouraged you to say “yes” to more fruits and vegetables. Many of us are pretty good at eating fruit. It’s sweet, it’s generally ready-to-eat with little or no preparation, and it’s convenient. You can just grab a banana and walk out the door. An apple makes an excellent afternoon snack. And I’ve yet to find a kid that doesn’t like some kind of fruit. But vegetables? That’s a bit harder.

Incorporating vegetables into your diet can be done, and with delicious results. Vegetables don’t have to be the most-hated part of the meal, something to moan and groan about, or an afterthought. It just takes a bit of rethinking!

Start your day with a veggie! It seems most people don’t think about vegetables during breakfast. This is where green smoothies have gotten such a positive following – sneaking in a bit of spinach into a fruit-filled, creamy beverage seems an easy way to add them. But vegetables at breakfast doesn’t have to stop there. How about adding a squash hash to your morning? Or a few spoonfuls of salsa to top your eggs? Throw some greens into a quiche, or zucchini into a frittata for a delicious and healthy addition. And as always, a veggie-packed omelet is a great way to get a serving of vegetables in before noon.

Step outside the salad. A salad certainly is a simple and easy way to ensure you get vegetables at lunch. But if you’re anything like me, the same salad can get old day in and day out, so I try to change it up a bit. Some days, a kale salad is just the thing. In summer, cucumber salads are refreshing. But there’s more than just salads out there. Vegetables can also make excellent dips, which are great for lunch! How about green pea hummus or fire-roasted tomato almond dip, or even chipotle butternut dip? And when the weather is chilly, soup is a great way to add more veggies. Celeriac soup, cabbage soup, or curried acorn squash soup are just a few of my favorites.

Get creative and don’t be afraid to try new vegetables! Dinner is when many of us make acquaintance with a vegetable. However, we often fall into a rut of only preparing a few vegetables, leaving so many other good ones in the dust (or worse, in the vegetable crisper, to wilt). This is when you can let your vegetable creativity shine. Grab a new-to-you veggie and learn to cook something delicious! Try collard greens in a new way – with sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. Bok choy is delicious and easy to make with sesame seeds and shiitake mushrooms. Bacon or prosciutto makes every veggie better – these Brussels sprouts are a great example. I personally love using unique spices to change up my dinner vegetable routine, as I did with these curried kabocha squash wedges.

What if you have picky eaters? Sometimes, you can even sneak veggies into a meal without anyone realizing, such as with my eggplant-tahini pasta sauce or even in smaller amounts in a meatloaf (a meal ALL of my picky eaters will eat!). Make a simple mash from different veggies, such as turnips and rutabagas. Go totally hard-core with your vegetable-sneaking, and make this secret ingredient chocolate cake. You can also try to woo them with vibrant colors – my stepdaughter actually likes beets, and I won her over with their gorgeous hue.

What are some of your favorite vegetables to eat? How do you successfully incorporate more vegetables into your day?

Arroz Con Pollo

arroz con pollo

Somehow, it seems that I never managed to make arroz con pollo. It just never appeared on the “to do” list. Obviously, this was a terrible oversight on my part. Now that I’ve made it, I’m not quite sure how I got by without it all these years.

I realized that I’d made this oversight this past week, (Okay, so I was watching Top Chef and one of the chefs made Spanish arroz con pollo. Top Chef is one of my guilty pleasures.) and started to research recipes. I looked at Spanish versions, Cuban versions, and all sorts of other variations. Some recipes called for a ton of peppers, some, none at all. Some called for long grain rice, others, short-grain. Some used saffron, some annatto, and some turmeric. A few versions called for olives, and I even came across a recipe that used beer. After my research, I then decided to compile snippets of each recipe and make my own. It leans towards Cuban, but I won’t attest to its authenticity, as I’m not Cuban and have not had the pleasure of enjoying any Cuban food other than what has come out of my own kitchen. (Someone should really help me rectify this…are there any good Cuban restaurants in Dallas? Can someone fly me somewhere where there are good Cuban restaurants, please?) But regardless of origin, it was a hit with my husband and me. We ate until our bellies were full, enamored by the flavorful, slightly sticky Valencia rice with its aroma of saffron and tomato. The chicken was tender and echoed the same flavors as the rice. The jarred roasted red peppers added a perfect piquant punch that complemented the creamy, sticky rice.

Comfort food at its finest. We’ll be having this again, I promise!

Print Recipe

Arroz con Pollo (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 3-4 lb chicken, cut into 8 parts

1 t dried oregano

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t black pepper

3/4 t kosher salt

1 T red wine vinegar

2 T olive or coconut oil

1 c finely chopped onion

1/2 c red bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c tomato puree

1 c white wine

3 c chicken stock

1/4 t saffron threads

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb Valencia or other short-grain rice (Arborio is an acceptable substitute)

1 c frozen green peas, thawed

Jarred roasted red peppers, for garnish (optional)

Blot the chicken dry with paper towels. Toss the chicken in a large bowl with the oregano, cumin, pepper, salt, and red wine vinegar. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil to medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or other casserole dish. Brown chicken pieces all over, 2-3 minutes per side. (I did this in batches) Set chicken aside on a platter.

Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the remaining oil in the Dutch oven, and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook for another minute. Add back the chicken, wine, chicken stock, and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the rice in a fine-meshed strainer and rinse until water runs clear. Drain. When the chicken has simmered for 25 minutes, add the rice and stir in. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. (If you peek in on it and it seems too dry, you can add a bit of water and stir.) When it’s just about finished, stir in the peas.

Garnish with roasted red peppers and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

A New Type of New Year’s “Resolution”

resolutionsDoes the New Year have you tempted to go on yet another restrictive diet or “detox”? Less food, no sugar, no treats? Are you certain the only path to health is by saying “no”?

It’s high time we stop with the “no”, and instead embrace saying “YES” to some wonderful things that can benefit our health. Today over at The Balanced Platter, I’m sharing some ways you can Say Yes in 2014. The best news: you don’t have to give up chocolate, sugar, carbs, grains, or anything you enjoy.

Head on over to The Balanced Platter and check it out!

Review: Ronzoni Gluten-Free Pasta (Recipe for Southwestern Penne Pasta Salad)

pasta salad

This post is sponsored by Ronzoni and written by me. All opinions are 100% mine.

How often do you purchase gluten-free pasta? I buy it every once in a while, but when Ronzoni contacted me about their gluten-free pasta, I’ll be honest: I was unaware that they offered it. However, I was keenly interested in learning more. After all, there are quite a few gluten-free pastas on the market that are incredibly finicky and often turn to mush at a moment’s notice. I’m always a fan of discovering a pasta that can cook up nicely, retain a good bite, and not turn to mush if I blink and leave it in the water for 10 seconds too long.

If you’re familiar with Ronzoni, you’ll know they also make regular “gluten-full” pasta. I asked them about cross-contamination, and here’s what they had to say:

“Ronzoni Gluten Free™ Pasta is also produced in a dedicated gluten free facility. When the ingredients arrive at the facility, they are verified to be gluten free and then each step in the manufacturing process is strongly controlled in order to protect the product from gluten contamination.”

Good to hear, Ronzoni!

So once the pasta arrived, I got to work preparing this lovely pasta salad recipe they shared with me. Cooking the pasta was a breeze – I just followed the instructions and it was the perfect texture. And while I’m not generally a pasta salad fan, I have to say, this pasta made a really nice salad. It was delicious at room temperature and served chilled. I brought it to my co-workers the following day and got several compliments on it! (The only person that knew it was gluten-free pasta was someone who has celiac disease.) It obviously passed the taste test of gluten-eaters, which is a good sign.

I’m definitely a fan of Ronzoni. I’ll be checking for it the next time I’m at the store looking for pasta (this weekend, in fact!).

Print Recipe

Southwestern Penne Pasta Salad, recipe courtesy of Ronzoni (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 pkg Ronzoni Gluten Free Penne

1 can (14 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup thawed frozen corn

1 each large red and orange pepper, diced

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

1/3 cup canola oil (I used olive)

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tbsp honey

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp each finely grated lime zest, ground cumin, and chili powder

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

1 avocado, diced (optional)

Directions:

1. Cook Ronzoni Gluten Free Penne according to package directions. Rinse under cold running water until cool; drain.

2. Toss penne with black beans, corn, red and orange pepper, green onions and coriander.

3. Whisk canola oil with lime juice, honey, garlic, lime zest, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper until combined. Toss with the penne mixture. Stir in the avocado (if using) just before serving.

4. May be served warm or chilled. To serve chilled: refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Want more information about Ronzoni’s gluten-free pastas and recipes? Visit http://www.ronzoniglutenfree.com/ for additional product information and recipes!

 

Accommodating Gluten-Free Friends and Family

Dijon Honey Pork Chops are an easy gluten-free meal!

While I no longer follow a gluten-free diet, I still have several family members that either have celiac disease or are extremely sensitive to gluten. Our house has been the house where everyone gathers for family get-togethers, and so I am often making meals that accommodate all sorts of diets. Beyond checking labels for gluten-containing ingredients, there are a few things I have to consider. Here are some tips and tricks to ensuring that when you have gluten-free family or friends visiting your home, that you can keep them safe and well-fed.

- Serve easy, naturally gluten-free foods. Whole, fresh meats and seafood (watch for added broths and marinades), eggs, vegetables, fruits, plain white or brown rice, beans, and nuts can all make up delicious, easy meals. How about a dinner of roast chicken, a baked potato, and some green beans with smoky pecans? Or lamb chops with a Mediterranean pepper salad? How about strawberry gelato for dessert? These are all simple, easy-to-make, fresh dishes that are naturally gluten-free. No need to buy expensive special “gluten-free” items or a million flours.

- Have a dedicated area for gluten-free items, if you will also be serving items with gluten. Label them clearly and keep them separate. If you will be using jars of peanut butter, mayonnaise, and the like, start with a new, fresh jar. (Don’t want any gluten-y crumbs in your gluten-free condiments!) If you have young children, putting brightly colored tape around a jar might be a great way to let them know that product is safe for them. If you buy certain specialty products, store gluten-free products on a higher shelf than gluten-containing products (if you are storing anything for several days), so if by chance, a bag spills, the gluten-y crumbs don’t fall into the gluten-free products. Educate everyone so they know where the safe gluten-free foods are.

- Thoroughly clean counters after cooking, so you won’t have to wonder if a stray crumb is gluten-free or not. I make sure to do a thorough cleaning before I have gluten-free guests over. Get down to eye level on the counters and inspect. You can also opt to designate one counter or one special area for all gluten-containing food preparation, to make it a bit easier. Other areas to think about cleaning: silverware drawer (notorious collecting crumbs) The drawer below your oven – mine gets crumbs from the oven in it pretty often. Pay attention to other surfaces that gluten-y hands touch – refrigerator handles, backs of chairs, the faucet handle, light switches, and so on.

- Have separate cutting boards, especially if you ever cut gluten-containing bread on your cutting board. If you bake gluten-free just for your guests, but typically use wheat flour, check mixers, blenders, wooden spoons, rolling pins, flour sifters, pizza stones, colanders, etc. that previously were in contact with gluten. Some tools can be well-cleaned and reused – like stainless steel cookware, which is non-porous. Tools previously in contact with gluten should not be used if they are plastic or wooden. Even baking pans that have metal seams or small edges that are hard to clean are suspect. Use your best judgment when making a decision about whether to replace or clean a certain tool. Gluten is sticky and likes to hide in these small crevices, so if you know there’s no way you’ll be able to effectively clean it, it’s best to use something else.

- Check your spices. Single-ingredient spices (such as oregano, sage, cumin, etc.) should be gluten-free, but read labels on those mixed blends. Also, consider this: did you ever use a dirty measuring cup/spoon to measure out spices, after that measuring cup/spoon was used for wheat flour? This could have contaminating the jar of spices. The same can be said of sugar and other naturally gluten-free baking ingredients – if you used the same measuring cup for the flour and the sugar in the past, it’s best to toss the sugar and buy fresh.

- If preparing gluten items, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. If you were handling crumbs or flours, you may want to use gloves or clean with a nail brush as well, otherwise, your hands could contaminate the gluten-free items. Don’t touch any gluten-free foods with hands after handling gluten items. Same goes with utensils.

Of course, simple and easy is best - it reduces worry on both your part and the part of your guest. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests for any preferences or suggestions of what they like to eat – you can gain inspiration and find that a wonderful meal can be easily made with minimal concern.

For more information on living gluten-free, visit my resources page. Happy Cooking!

Learn more about living gluten free! Visit http://udisglutenfree.com/community

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Udi’s Gluten Free. The opinions and text are all mine.

Dairy-Free Basics: How to Make Almond Milk

almond milk

When I was struggling with poor digestion, I had trouble not only with gluten and dairy, but often, I struggled with digesting carrageenan and gums, such as guar and xanthan gum. In order to avoid these ingredients, I rarely ate gluten-free baked goods that contained gums, which sometimes was difficult. But even more difficult was finding a non-dairy milk that I could use that was gum and carrageenan-free.

So I decided to make it myself.

If you’re new to dairy-free, struggle with digesting gums, or are just looking for a simple way to enjoy a non-dairy beverage without resorting to store-bought “milks”, making almond milk is an easy alternative, and only takes a few minutes of active time. In my opinion, the flavor is also superior to the store-bought milks, and you can customize the milk to be as thick or thin as you desire.

With just raw almonds, fresh water, a pinch of salt, and an optional sweetener, you can make this at home! Here’s how:

Print Recipe

Almond Milk Recipe (gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free)

1 c raw almonds

3 c filtered water

pinch salt

optional: 1/2 t maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey

Add the almonds to a medium bowl and cover with water. Allow to soak for at least 4 hours and up to 8. Drain.

Place soaked almonds, 3 cups fresh water, salt and optional sweetener into a blender. Blend on medium speed until smooth and frothy (with a high-powered blender, this won’t take but a minute; with a regular blender, you may need to blend for several minutes).

Using a nut milk bag, a clean flour sack towel, or several layers of fine cheesecloth, strain the milk into a bowl or large container. Be sure to squeeze the bag or towel to get all of the milk out, leaving only the pulp behind. Discard the pulp (I find it works well in my compost pile) and refrigerate the milk. Use within 4-5 days, and be sure to shake before use.

Makes about 3 cups milk.