Category Archives: Gluten-Free

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic

sauteed spinach

Looking for a quick-and-easy way to get something green on your plate for dinner tonight?

How about spinach?

Gone are those days, when I was growing up, where Mom would open a can of spinach, and we would eat it, pretending we would grow big and strong just like Popeye. I can’t even remember the last time I ate canned spinach, honestly. It’s been a long time. I much prefer fresh when I can get it, frozen when I can’t. It’s a taste preference – canned seems mushy and salty to me nowadays.

Cooking from fresh, however, doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. With just a few ingredients and less than 5 minutes, you can have delicious sautéed spinach with garlic that is a million times tastier than the canned variety. The fresh flavors of the spinach and garlic really shine, and the spinach is tender and bright.

Want to see just how easy it is? Check out my simple instructional video – and while you’re at it, subscribe to my YouTube channel to see even more easy veggie ideas.

So while your main dish is roasting in the oven, pull out a skillet and sauté some spinach! You’ll be happy you did.

Print Recipe

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic (gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

1 T coconut oil (or oil of choice – olive oil or butter works well here)

1 clove garlic, minced

8 oz spinach leaves, rinsed well and drained (let any residual water cling to the leaves), torn into smallish pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat, swirling around to coat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add spinach leaves and stir to coat. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for a minute or two, or until leaves have turned bright green and have just started to wilt. Remove the lid and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 2-4.

Chocolate-Covered Cherries

chocolate covered cherries

Growing up, one of my Dad’s favorite treats was a box of chocolate-covered cherries. I loved them too. Biting into the chocolate shell to reveal the sweet maraschino cherry inside was like opening a delicious present. But over the years, the boxed chocolate-covered cherries of old became less appealing. The quality went down, and they were more often a cheap chocolate shell filled with cherry-like goo. Next-to-none of the real thing.

While I certainly could have sought out a higher-quality confection from one of the fancy candy stores, I opted instead to attempt my own. I’ve made other candies – chocolate coconut candies, fudgepeanut butter cups, chocolate pecan pralines and more – so why not these?

Turns out, they were easier than I’d imagined. Making the fondant was a cinch, and without the testy nature of boiling sugar (like there is with pralines or caramels and such), this was a project I could do at my own pace and while working on other things in the kitchen without fear. The most difficult part in my opinion was remembering to set the cherries to dry out a bit the day before I wanted to make these – which really isn’t that difficult at all!

So whether you want to treat your Valentine this year to something special, or you just want to play candymaker in a new way, I encourage you to make your own chocolate-covered cherries! They’re sweet and delicious and well worth a little work.

Print Recipe

Chocolate-Covered Cherries (gluten-free, vegan-adaptable)

About 20 maraschino cherries (I used an 8 oz jar of these, as they have no dyes or corn syrup)

2 T butter or vegan buttery sticks (don’t use the vegan spread, as it has too much water), softened to room temperature

2 t agave nectar

1 1/2 T reserved cherry liquid

1/4 t almond extract

1 1/2 c powdered sugar

8 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate (I used Guittard)

The day before you want to make your chocolate-covered cherries, drain the cherries from their liquid (reserving the liquid) and pat dry. Set on a wire rack inside the refrigerator to dry overnight.

The following day, to prepare the fondant, add the butter/buttery stick, agave nectar, reserved cherry liquid, and almond extract and beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar, and mix on low speed until everything comes together in a ball around the paddle. If it’s too dry, add a few drops of cherry liquid. Too sticky, add a bit of powdered sugar. You want the texture to be a soft and malleable dough, but not sticky.

Scoop a small ball with the dough (about the diameter of a quarter) and roll in your hand. Flatten out the dough into a circle, and place a cherry in the center. Wrap the cherry with the fondant so that it covers the cherry completely, and roll between your hands to get rid of any seams or wrinkles and make it as round as possible. Place on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining cherries. Place sheet of cherries in the refrigerator or freezer for about 30 minutes while you prepare the chocolate.

Temper the chocolate: Prepare a double boiler. Once water is simmering, add chocolate to the top bowl/pot. Allow to melt and come to about 113-120 degrees F, stirring occasionally. Scrape chocolate onto a cool marble slap, and using a scraper, smooth out the chocolate and move it around the slab to help it cool. (alternatively, you can reserve some “seed chocolate” and add it to the warm chocolate to cool it down.) Once it’s about 80 degrees F, scrape the chocolate back into the double boiler. Allow to come to about 90 degrees F, stirring occasionally, making sure not to warm it too much. Then it’s ready for dipping.

Dip each cherry into the chocolate, rolling around to coat completely. Place the cherry back on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cherries.

You can store the cherries in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Over the next few days, the fondant will soften and liquefy a bit (this will slow down considerably in the refrigerator). My photo shows them still with a solid fondant – they’re still delicious that way too!

Makes 20 chocolate-covered cherries.

 

 

Adventures in Curry-Making, or How to Make a Disaster of Your Kitchen

beef curry

So there I was, this past Monday night, with lofty goals of making a beef curry. I’d prepared the curry paste the day before to save time, and I grabbed my pressure cooker. The recipe I was using as a guideline (it’s rare that I actually follow a recipe – I tend to make a lot of changes along the way) suggested I would be braising my beef shanks for 2 1/2 hours. Since this was a weeknight, I figured a 45 minute stay in the pressure cooker would do the trick nicely.

And so it began. I browned the beef, and placed it in the pressure cooker along with a generous helping of coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass, and cilantro. Things were smelling good, and I was salivating at the idea of such a flavorful curry that would be gracing our plates in about an hour. I get really excited about curries of all kinds. There is just something so wonderful about an intense mix of spices and flavors that, when simmered for a bit, they really get to know one another and emerge as more than the sum of their parts. It’s comforting and soul-satisfying, and it’s why I have several recipes hanging around this blog, such as this Kerala-style Curry or this Shrimp Cauliflower Curry. A good curry sends me to my happy place.

Well, my (older generation, super-simple) pressure cooker began to heat and spit some steam, so I lowered the temperature a bit. I then set to chopping cauliflower for a side dish in my “prep area” towards the right of the stove. About 10 minutes had passed, and that’s when it happened.

Suddenly, the pressure cooker exploded with a loud “BOOM”, and shot off to my left, across the floor. I squealed. And then just stared, motionless, at the disaster in front of me. My husband (who was in our living room), moments later, asks me. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah.” I mutter, dumbfounded. So he asks again, worry in his voice. “Baby, are you okay?”

“Yes. I’m fine.” I say, rather flatly, given the situation. I was in a bit of shock. ”It exploded.”

The mess was horrendous. There was coconut milk on every surface to the left of where I’d been standing – on the cabinets, on the counter, on the stove (on the burner, smoking a bit and turning black, thanks to the sugar), on the floor, on the walls, and even on the cabinets and the books on top of the cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen from the stove. The smell of fish sauce permeated the air. By some miracle, I had none on me at all. Later on, I would realize that I was rather lucky. That pressure cooker could have flown in my direction and bruised or burned me, or worse.

I quickly picked up the pressure cooker and set it back on the stove, with the beef and about half of the sauce still inside. My husband joined me, and we started cleaning. It was about then that I started to realize just how absurd the whole fiasco was. I laughed at it. Laughed at the coconut milk under the cabinets, laughed at how disgusting the floor was, giggled at the cilantro stuck to the wall inside my combination laundry room/pantry at the end of our kitchen (a good 12 feet away, at least), and joked about how we’d be finding this mess for months. Any other night, an event of this magnitude might have brought me to tears, but in that moment, it was pretty darn funny, and laughing was all I could do. It took us about an hour to get the kitchen back to some semblance of order. I mopped twice, and came back home the following day to mop again so I could get rid of the film left by the coconut milk.

Needless to say, we didn’t have curry that night.

However, I did manage to salvage that beef and remaining sauce. I stuck it in my smaller, 4-quart slow cooker and stuck it in the fridge. In spite of all that happened, I still wanted curry. Also, I detest throwing away food. So the following night, I asked my husband to take the slow cooker out of the fridge and turn it on high for a few hours when he got home. (He’s typically home an hour or two before I arrive.) I was going to resume this curry-making, for better or worse.

Thankfully, it was worth the trouble. Well, maybe not worth the trouble of the whole pressure-cooker-explosion thing, but it was worth salvaging the meat for another night. The slow cooker finished the braising job beautifully, and with a relatively quick finish in my skillet, we had a deliciously spicy, silky beef curry. There are a few things I’d do differently, if I was to make this again (and I’ll share those notes in the recipe below), but we were both more than satisfied, with happy, full bellies and that sense of calmness and peace that accompanies a good curry. It was a tad salty (even though I reduced the fish sauce), and of course, due to the explosion factor, the amount of liquids actually used in the cooking process are approximated. So this is definitely not a perfected recipe at this point, but I felt I had to share with you, if for the story alone! But all in all, it was worthy of seconds by my husband, so I declare it a winner.

Now, the next question is: Does anyone have a good (safe) pressure cooker recommendation? One requirement – it must not explode.

Print Recipe

Spicy Beef Curry, adapted from Bon Appetit - this is what I did, but I am giving you notes to adjust for better flavor next time.

Spice Mix:

3 whole cloves

1 1/2 t coriander seeds

1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick

1 whole star anise

1 t cumin seeds

seeds from 2 green cardamom pods

1 t kosher salt (I would probably use 1/2 t next time)

1/4 t ground cayenne (I would reduce this to 1/8 teaspoon or omit, as the resulting curry was plenty spicy!)

Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Add cold water to cover, then drain. Place spices in large wok or skillet. Dry-roast over medium heat until dry and fragrant, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to spice grinder. Add salt and cayenne; grind to fine powder.

Curry Paste:

10 small chiles de arbol, stemmed

about 25 cilantro stems

1 c chopped yellow onion

6 garlic cloves, peeled

1 piece of ginger (about 1 1/2 inches long), thinly sliced

1 1/2 T grated lemongrass

Place chiles in small saucepan; add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Combine cilantro stems, onion, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass in large skillet. Add 3/4 cup water. Cover skillet and cook until ginger is tender, about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes.

Scrape vegetable mixture into a small food processor. Add drained red chiles. Blend, adding enough reserved chile soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls to form smooth paste. Stir in spice mix. If you are making this the day before, transfer to bowl, cover, and chill.

For the beef:

3 T coconut oil, divided

2 1/2 lbs cross-cut beef shanks (each about 1 1/2-2 inches thick)

2 cans coconut milk (if using a slow cooker, I’d reduce this by half)

2 cups beef or chicken stock (if using a slow cooker, I’d reduce this by half)

About 25 cilantro stems

3/4 c fish sauce (I would use 1/2 cup and increase the stock next time – or if using a slow cooker, I’d use 1/4 cup)

1/3 c coconut palm sugar (if using a slow cooker, I’d reduce this by half)

1 1/2 T grated lemongrass (if using a slow cooker, I’d reduce this by half)

1/4 c fresh orange juice

1/4 c chopped roasted cashews

1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a large skillet (if transferring to slow cooker) or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the beef with salt and pepper. Brown the beef, searing until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer beef to plate. Add the coconut milk, cilantro, fish sauce, coconut palm sugar, and lemongrass into the slow cooker or Dutch oven. If using a slow cooker, add the beef and turn on high for about 3-3 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender and pulling away from the bone. If using a Dutch oven, bring the liquids to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and add the beef. Cover and allow to simmer for about 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender and pulling away from the bone.

Transfer beef to a plate to cool. Strain braising liquid using a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of coconut oil in the Dutch oven or a large skillet over medium heat. Add the curry paste. Stir until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved braising liquid and bring to a boil. Add the orange juice and beef. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is silky and clinging to the beef. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve beef curry with steamed long-grain rice, such as Basmati, garnished with chopped cashews and cilantro.

Serves 6.

    Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts

    pan seared brussels sprouts

    A few weeks back, I shared in the Eating the Food group that I was having pan-seared Brussels Sprouts along with some eggs for breakfast. This started a conversation not only about Brussels Sprouts (and their deliciousness, of course) but also about getting more vegetables into your breakfast. I must confess: I don’t always get veggies in first thing in the morning. I do enjoy them (especially with eggs), but it just doesn’t always happen. Of course, that realization got me thinking and inspired this post about getting more vegetables into your day.

    So I’ve been motivated once more to be sure I’m giving vegetables their due. While I have no issues in the spring and summer, when I go to the farmer’s market and come home with more vegetables than any normal human can possibly consume in a week, (What can I say? They all look SO GOOD and I get starry-eyed and have to bring them all home with me.) winter-time makes vegetable consumption more difficult. This is when I focus on those veggies that are longer storage varieties, such as root vegetables, winter squash, cabbage, and of course, Brussels Sprouts, so they still taste fresh. I also try my hardest to make these veggies easy to make, so I’ll be more likely to consume them even on busy weeknights.

    Pan-searing is one such way to accomplish that “easy-to-make” goal. It only takes a few minutes and really highlights the natural sweetness of the Brussels Sprouts, thanks to the caramelization that happens in the pan. They’re delicious alongside meatloaf and mashed potatoes, pork chops, or even with eggs at breakfast. Even if you’ve previously shunned Brussels Sprouts, I encourage you to revisit them with this method. You might just find them not only tolerable, but they could become your new favorite veggie!

    For step-by-step instruction, check out my “how-to” video on YouTube for these Brussels Sprouts (and feel free to subscribe, so you won’t miss an episode!):

    Print Recipe

    Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts (gluten-free, paleo, vegan)

    1 1/2 T coconut oil

    1 lb Brussels Sprouts, sliced roughly into 1/4 inch thick slices

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium heat. Add coconut oil and allow to melt and coat pan. Spread out sliced Brussels Sprouts into a single layer in the skillet. Allow to sear without moving for about a minute, or until the sprouts start to brown. Stir around to flip the sprouts and brown the other side for another minute or so. Continue to stir every so often, spreading the sprouts back out, until they are browned on edges and just tender throughout. (Total cooking time is about 5 minutes.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Serves 4.

    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.

     

    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!