Lobster and Risotto

We both love lobster but never really eat it because let’s be honest, it can be rather expensive.  We are two college students and just can’t afford that kind of stuff on a regular basis.  Since moving here almost a year ago now we’ve had lobster once and that is because my dad bought it for us when we went to visit him one weekend.  We always say “if it goes on sale for a good price we’ll pick one or two up”.  The only problem with that idea is we NEVER remember to actually do it.  So when I got this weeks grocery ad’s in the mail I noticed that Shaw’s had the chicken lobsters (up to 1.5 lbs) on sale for $5.99 a pound.  We decided to break down and get two of them.

Lobster is one of those food items that can be enjoyed in many different ways: steamed or boiled then served with butter, baked, grilled, mac-n-cheese, lobster ravioli’s etc.  I tend to be a purist when it comes to lobster – I like mine steamed and served with a little butter on the side (usually garlic butter).  I prefer the steaming method for two reasons, one it’s a little harder to over cook them that way and two because it leaves more of their natural ocean fresh taste. Today however, I broke from away from that purist side of me and steamed my lobsters then removed all the meat, cut it in to large chunks, sautéed quickly with olive oil, butter and a clove of minced fresh garlic then served it atop a nice plate of Parmesan Risotto=delicousness.

In my post “Light and Delicious” I posted a quick recipe costing breakdown at the end showing how inexpensive meals made at home can be.  The recipe was for Pesto Pasta with Zucchini and Shrimp – the recipe yield was for two portions.  The total recipe cost was $5.34 (yes including the shrimp and store-bought pesto!) which made each serving just $2.67.  A good number of my recipes on here are for two portions because, we are just two people.  However, if you look at my soup recipes that is for a larger quantity because we love soup leftovers. I also posted a survey yesterday asking my you, the lovely readers of my blog if this kind of information is useful to you because I received a few comments and e-mails asking for more of this.  With all the positive responses to the survey, the e-mails and comments I decided to keep doing this…so below the recipe you will see the recipe cost breakdown with a little explanation.

Please note that I am a HUGE sales/coupon person.  I really don’t like to pay full price for just about anything so I only buy certain items such as shrimp and lobster when there is a good sale going on.  If you’ve noticed this is the first lobster recipe I’ve posted on here.

Lobster and Risotto

2 Chicken Lobsters (about 1-1.5 pounds each)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Garlic Clove – Minced

2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (I used Pacific Natural Food’s)

2 Tablespoons of Butter

3/4 Cup of Arborio Rice

1/4 Cup Dry White Wine (I used Gewurztraminer because it is what we had)

1/4 Cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the Lobsters – start these first so they have time to cool down

In a large stock pot place either a steaming basket or upside down colendar at the bottom and fill with water until it just barely comes over the top of the basket or colendar.  Bring to a boil and add lobsters.  Make sure your pan has a very tight-fitting lid to keep the steam inside.  Lobsters that are about 1.5 pounds should be steamed between 7-8 minutes (do not over cook!).  You will know they are done when they turn a very vibrant red color.

Remove from the pan and cool by placing them under cold running water.  You just want to cool them enough to be able to get the meat out.  Remove meat, cut into chunks and set aside.

When the risotto is almost finished heat medium/large sautée pan over medium heat and add olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of butter and garlic.  Cook for 1 minute, add lobster and toss until lobster is coated and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until lobster is heated throughout, again be careful to over cook.

For the Risotto

In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.  Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Add the rice and stir to coat, add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add 1 ladle (or 1/2 cup) of the simmering broth and stir until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking the rice, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time.  Stir constantly and allow each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next.  Continue this until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and mixture is creamy, about 10-15 minutes total.

Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

To plate the dish spoon half of the risotto on each plate, top with sautéed lobster, serve with a lemon slice/wedge and chives as a garnish. Enjoy with a glass of Gewurztraminer.

Below is the costing breakdown including all of the ingredients used (remember that the prices might be different depending on where you shop, your local specials etc.).  For each of us to have risotto and a chicken lobster for $10.87 I would say that isn’t too shabby of a price, especially since you would probably pay between $19.00-$24.00 and not have the same amount of lobster if you were to order this at a restaurant.  Cooking delicious (and gluten-free) meals at home isn’t just a way to control what you are eating but choosing the ingredients yourself it is also a great way to save money.  Many of the ingredients of these recipes you already have in your pantry so it is just buying a few of the key ingredients.  For example, the only ingredient we had to buy today was the lobsters themselves.

Light and Delicious

Last month I planted out little container garden (thankfully we choose a place with a deck!).  With all the heavy rains we’ve been having around here I wasn’t sure if some of the seeds would ever produce anything.  Thankfully everything is on its way to becoming some delicious goodies.  We planted Thai chili peppers, habaneros, pepperoncini, carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, super sweet tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, radish, zucchini, basil and lettuce.  I took this picture this morning:

My last few recipe posts have been pretty “heavy” foods, so today while I was making dinner I thought I should probably post this one.  It is quick, easy, light and delicious and believe it or not budget friendly (see below the recipe for more information).  A perfect meal for this kind of weather.  I love when spring and summer comes around because this means more fresh ingredients available and I don’t know if it is just me but I don’t crave those heavy meals much.  I love salads and more veggie based meals during this time of year and I plan to be posting more recipes like this soon. To kick off my lighter recipes (this may not be a daily thing but I will get better about posting more recipes like this), I decided to make some gluten-free pasta (We mostly eat Sam Mill’s or Goldbaum’s gluten-free pastas, we find that to use these are the two that have a very similar taste and texture to “regular” pasta) with pesto, diced zucchini and for a little treat some sautéed shrimp. My basil hasn’t grown enough for me to make homemade pesto so for now we have been using the Classico Pesto – which is gluten-free! and delicious.  While at the grocery store today I found some pretty decent sized zucchini and summer squash and thankfully shrimp was on sale so we picked up a few to toss in and add a bit of protein to our meal.  Of course Bryan made us a salad with mixed greens and cucumbers with some homemade balsamic dressing.

This meal is delicious with our with out the shrimp, however we never splurge on shrimp but we are pretty sick of chicken and red meat right now and wanted to mix it up a little bit.  You could always add some grilled chicken on top also or if you wish to add more veggies mix in some halved grape tomatoes, diced summer squash or blanched/grilled asparagus.

Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and Zucchini (serves 2)

1/2 Pound gluten-free pasta of your choice, I prefer penne,  fusillior gemelli because I think it holds the pesto better)

1 Large zucchini diced into 1/2 – 1 inch pieces

1/4 Pound of Shrimp (cleaned, deveined and tails still on)

1/4 Cup pesto – more if you prefer

2 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided

Sea Salt and Pepper

In a medium saucepan bring water with salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to boil for pasta and cook according to the package instructions.

Season the shrimp on both sides with sea salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon in a non-stick sautée pan over medium heat. When there is about 5 minutes left on the pasta add the shrimp to the sautée pan. Cook for about two minutes on each side (until shrimp is opaque in the center)

When there are four minutes left on the pasta cooking time add the diced zucchini.

Strain the pasta and zucchini but do not rinse the pasta in cold water.  Return the pasta to the pan, add the prepared pesto and shrimp.  Toss until well mixed (if you are adding in the halved tomatoes add them in now and toss again).  Add more pesto if you wish, serve with a side salad.

This meal is very versatile – add shrimp, chicken, veggies – whatever your heart desires.

Recipe cost break down:

Seeing as I just finished up my Menu Planning and Cost Control course I thought I would break down how inexpensive this meal was to make: the total recipe cost was $5.34 which means only $2.67 per portion!! Now can you imagine if you were to order this while eating out you would be paying around $12 – $14 for this dish that really only costs $2.67 per portion including shrimp.

Sriracha Burgers and Cheese Fries

If you are on a diet this recipe probably isn’t for you :)  We try to eat pretty healthy in our house by eating lots of veggies and fresh products.  We usually have a salad with every dinner but every once in a while we crave those fast food type meals – those that I usually can’t eat because of cross contamination issues.  To fulfill those cravings I try to recreate the items that we used to like to eat out and make them at home.  I’ve made a version of Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, P.F. Chang’s Beef a La Sichuan, P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef, and P.F. Chang’s Shanghai Cucumbers (we really like P.F. Chang’s and I am slightly obsessed with Chinese food in general).

Today Bryan had a craving for cheese fries – and I have to admit I’ve never really had cheese fries.  I do however love french fries so I told him we could have those and burgers on the grill tonight seeing as I have a package of the Udi’s new gluten-free hamburger buns in the freezer. If you haven’t tried these yet, you really should they are simply awesome.  If you local store doesn’t carry them you can request that they do.  I also have a package of their hot dog buns that I still need to try.  I didn’t want to buy any pre-made cheese sauce because let’s be honest they aren’t very good.  I wanted something with simple ingredients that I knew what they were so I found a few recipes online and the one from Serious Eats is the one I decided to go with.  I did make a slight moderation that you will see below, but we were very happy with the results.  It was four ingredients and didn’t turn out oily, clumpy or grainy! While on their site I also noticed a recipe for Ultimate Siraracha Burgers and almost started to drool.  We love spicy things and even more we love Sriracha.  (Have you visited Serious Eats yet?  If not please be sure to do so…it is an awesome site with plenty of delicious recipes and gluten-free ones too) I did change this up a bit too with not only the measurements (we are only two people so no need to make eight patties) and omitted some of the ingredients, and changed the sauce- but please check out the original recipe and try that one also.  Below is my version of Serious Eat’s Cheese Sauce and Sriracha Burgers, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did – which we LOVED these by the way.  When you first take a bite it takes a second for the flavor to hit you but if you love Sriracha Sauce you won’t be disappointed in these. 

Cheese Sauce (naturally gluten-free!)

  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese grated on large holes of a box grater
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce
Add cheese and cornstarch to large bowl. Toss to combine. Transfer to medium saucepan. Add can of  evaporated milk and hot sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with whisk until melted, bubbly, and thickened (about 5 minutes). Mixture will look thin and grainy at first but will thicken and come together after heating. Thin to desired consistency with additional evaporated milk. Serve immediately with fries (tortilla chips, burgers, or hot dogs).
We served some store-bought gluten-free french fries with dinner tonight.
Sriracha Burgers
  • 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free soy sauce (I use San-J)
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Gluten-free buns such as Udi’s (or Canyon Bakehouse or Katz)
  • 2 thick slices Swiss cheese
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Dynamite Sauce (recipe below)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, soy sauce,  Sriracha, and the pepper. Do not overmix. Form the mixture into 2 patties, and set aside.

  2. Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat. 

  3. Grill the burgers, turning once, 4 to 41/2 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer registers 130° to 135°F for medium-rare. Place a piece of cheese of cheese on each burger and cook until melted.

  4. To assemble, spread the Dynamite Sauce on both halves of each hamburger bun. Stack a burger patty,  and a few pieces of  romaine between each hamburger bun.

Dynamite Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons Mayo
  • 1 Tablespoons Sriracha (I like mine spicy so adjust according to your spice level)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until well combined – taste for spice level and adjust accordingly. Spread on burger buns.

And for a little fun…if you love Sriracha Sauce as much as we do, you have to check out The Oatmeal‘s post called “Dear Sriracha, a.k.a Rooser Sauce”
Hope you enjoy – if you get around to trying these please let me know what you think

Chicken Cordon Bleu

First before I get started on the recipe portion of this post, I want to say sorry for not being very active lately.  School started on March 8th and I’ve been consumed by it.  This is my first trimester and I am taking all academic courses (no actually culinary courses until the Fall).  What some might thing isn’t a big deal, taking Biology, Public Speaking, Leadership and Menu Planning and Cost Control really is to me.  For starters, I haven’t taken Biology in at least 14 years, I’ve never taken any of the other courses and I truly hate public speaking.  I’ve been out of college for about six years now so jumping back into this with both feet has been at times a little overwhelming for me.  It’s also been a little challenging for Bryan and I…we’ve kind of grown used to me being home all day, taking care of the house, making at least two meals a day etc. Now I am up at 4:00 am, getting the bus at 4:50 to Providence, walk three blocks to the Downcity Campus, wait about 30 minutes to get the shuttle to the Harborside Campus (where the culinary arts program is) and then starting class at 7:00.  Thankfully though I am done with classes by 11:15 M-Th and have Fridays off.  Now you are probably wondering why I get up at 4 and take the bus to school.  Several reasons.  One I don’t drive, two if I did we only have one car and with gas prices being as they are…it is more economical for Bryan to be taking the car to class than me driving to and from Providence each day.  Plus with my student ID, the bus is free anywhere in the lovely state of Rhode Island.  Honestly, I don’t mind the early mornings at all.  I thought I would but being done at 11:15, coming home, studying/doing homework making dinner and actually having time to relaxing with Bryan for a bit before I crash around 9:30-10:00 is worth it.  If my classes were in the afternoons I wouldn’t be home until about 8 or 9 at night.  Plus this is my dream and I would do just about anything to make it happen.  So you can think I’m crazy, that is just fine but I choose not to focus on the “oh my goodness you get up at 4 am, that is just crazy” comments, and push on towards my goal.

Speaking of my goal – after planning out my next few trimesters, which will mostly be culinary labs (yay!) and two more academic courses I will have my Associates Degree next summer!!  Next winter I need to apply for the BA in Culinary Nutrition, which I have been told is really hard to get into, so I am doing my best, studying hard and trying to get all A’s. I put a lot of pressure on myself for several reasons, I want this so badly.  As I said above, I’ve been out of school for a while now so none of this is fresh in my mind, and also I am at least 11 years older than the majority of these students.  Seriously I feel old, have little to nothing in common with them, but I’m doing my best.  Thankfully though most of them think I’m about 17 years old and when they hear me say 29 they laugh and don’t believe me…well its true I am, just don’t look at all the gray hairs coming in (and yes they are there, I promise you, lots of them!)

So again, I am sorry for my absence but please be patient as I get used to this new schedule and figure out a balance of home life, school/work and my blog.  I have a lot of respect for those other bloggers who blog everyday, some times several times a day and have jobs and families – you are all rock stars!

Now on to the recipe!

We saw some commercial the other day, I think it may have been for subway- anyway they were advertising a chicken cordon bleu sandwich and Bryan made one of those “mmmmmmm” sounds.  To me having a sandwich like that from subway just sounded nasty.  The “mmmmmmmm” sound wasn’t really for the sandwich its self but the idea of chicken cordon bleu.  I tend to associate those with weddings or banquets of some sort so I never really thought of trying out a gluten-free version of one.  Apparently Bryan really likes them so I said we could either buy you some frozen ones or I can attempt to make some – he obviously chose me making one instead.  I did a bit of researching online to see what was actually in the breading of it, I knew that it was chicken, Swiss cheese, ham and breading but wanted to get the flavoring right.  Honestly this is a really simple meal to make, I based mine off of a Tyler Florence recipe found on Food Network and we really enjoyed it…well mostly, Bryan isn’t so much a fan of the Thyme so I think next time I might leave it out completely or add a different kind of seasoning.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

  • 4 double chicken breasts (about 7-ounces each), skinless and boneless
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices deli ham
  • 16 thin slices  Swiss cheese
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I used Jeanne’s of Art of Gluten Free Baking mix-see below for recipe)
  • 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs or gluten-free rice crumbs (I used Orgran’s Rice Crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay the chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness (FYI a small fry pan or empty wine bottle work just fine, if you are like me and don’t own a meat mallet). Take care not to pound too hard because the meat may tear or create holes. Lay 2 slices of cheese on each breast, followed by 2 slices of ham, and 2 more of cheese; leaving a 1/2-inch margin on all sides to help seal the roll. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll. Squeeze the log gently to seal.

Season the gluten-free all purpose flour with salt and pepper; spread out on waxed paper or in a flat dish. Mix the Gluten-free breadcrumbs or rice crumbs with thyme, kosher salt, pepper, and oil. The oil will help the crust brown. Beat together the eggs and water, the mixture should be fluid. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, then dip in the egg mixture. Gently coat in the crumb mixture.  Carefully transfer the roulades to a shallow baking dish (I used my Le Creuset because, I love them and they are the easiest baking dishes to clean up!) and bake for 20 minutes until browned and cooked through. Cut into pinwheels before serving.

Here is Jeanne’s All Purpose Flour Recipe:

Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C (170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C (205 g) white rice flour
1 C (120 g) tapioca flour
1 C (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the cookies)

Hope you enjoy this recipe, its simple, flavorful and most ingredients you probably already have at home.  We served ours with some garlic broccoli and a side salad.

I have more catching up to do – product reviews and a giveaway I promise it will happen soon!  Please stay tuned.

Spinach-Stuffed Flank Steak

Martha Stewart’s Spinach Stuffed Flank Steak

My Spinach-Stuffed Flank Steak (minus the red pepper sauce)

I have been wanting to make this recipe for a while, but wasn’t sure how Bryan would feel about it because it has a cheese that he isn’t very familiar with and it also has capers.  I offered to leave out the capers but he said he would try them.  I should have  listened to my instincts and left them out.  He tried one but he just wasn’t a fan, they were too salty for him.  I’m not one for very salty foods but I love these green little gems, probably because I love chicken piccata so much. As it turns out, Bryan really liked this recipe and said this is one we should make again.

The recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine and it is also in her Everyday Food Cookbook “Fresh Flavor Fast” Another great recipe from here that is also naturally gluten-free!  You would be amazed how many of these recipes are naturally gluten-free or can very easily be adapted to gluten-free.

Seeing as this is a stuffed steak, it needed to be butterflied first, then stuffed with the spinach mixture and rolled up.  I always hear about people going to the grocery store and having the butcher cut their meat a certain way such as butterflied so I thought, why not give it a shot and have them do it.  I was so wrong, no pun intended here but he butchered my flank steak.  I was so upset when I got home and opened it up.  I should have taken a picture to show you all how bad it was.  It was completely uneven with some pieces being extremely thing and others looking like they hadn’t been cut.  I made the best of it for this because I didn’t want to waste the meat but not to self, next time do it myself!  However if you have a good butcher I’m sure he would do fine but this guy was complaining the whole time he was cutting this piece.  I am very much looking forward to my meat cutting class at school!

Here is how to butterfly the flank steak according to the recipe:

Butterflying the Steak: Lay the meat on a cutting board, with the grain of the steak running horizontally. Using a long sharp knife, cut the meat almost in half horizontally, opening it like a book but stopping before going all the way through.

With the steak being cut so uneven I had to adjust the cooking time a bit and despite having to put it in a few times because the middle just wasn’t cooked to our liking (it was pretty much raw – but again I blame that on the butcher and not the actual recipe its self.) it was a very tasty, easy and fairly quick dinner.  We served ours with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Too add a little something extra to it I made a Red Pepper Sauce to go on the side to either drizzle on top of the steak or just to dip it in.   I used a container of Wild Veggie Red Pepper Soup as the base, added a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon fine ground pepper.  To thicken it up just a bit I added a small amount of cornstarch/water mixture.

Have you heard about Wild Veggie yet?  If not you should check out their website and products.  Here is a little blurb about them from their website:

What is Wild Veggie? Is it a soup? Is it a drink? Is it an ingredient? If you think it’s all of the above, then you’re right! Wild Veggie is good in everything… and is good for everybody. Compared to similar products on the market, Wild Veggie is low in sodium and calories, and typically has more vitamins and nutrients, not only meeting but exceeding daily recommendations in many cases.

We start with the absolute freshest vegetables we can find, always picked at their peak of ripeness and flavor. We then wash, micro-cut, and fast cook at a low temperature, and then quickly freeze to preserve as much of the natural vegetable flavor as possible. There are no preservatives. No fake chemicals. Just the wonderful taste of pure, fresh vegetables.

Our unique process preserves the natural integrity, flavor or nutrients of the vegetables — we do not compromise on flavor or freshness, meaning that Wild Veggie is good for every body.

Spinach Stuffed Flank Steak (Martha Stewart – Everyday Food Magazine)

  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen leaf spinach, thawed

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese

  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

  • coarse salt and ground pepper

  • 1 small flank steak (1 pound)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

    1. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside. Place spinach in a clean kitchen towel, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine spinach, parsley, cheese, capers, vinegar, garlic, and red-pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Cut and open steak.
    3. Cut several 12-inch pieces of kitchen twine; space evenly underneath steak. Spread spinach mixture down center of meat (see opposite). Roll steak over mixture, pressing firmly to compact the filling as much as possible; tie twine to secure roll. Cut roll in half crosswise. Place halves, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet; rub with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Broil until browned, 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare; let rest, loosely covered with foil, 10 minutes. Remove string, and slice steak into 1/2-inch rounds.

     

    Chicken Parmesan

    One of my favorite dishes when I was younger was Chicken Parmesan. I love the crunch chicken but yet still tender and juicy inside with some bubbly mozzarella cheese on the top.  It is a very simple dish, however I never make it.  I don’t know if it was because I feared how it would actually come out with using gluten-free flour instead.  It has just been one of those dishes that kind of made me nervous to “re-create”. While flipping through my favorite cooking magazine (Everyday Food by Martha Stewart) I saw a recipe for chicken parm and asked Bryan if he likes it.  When he said yes I figure, why not give it a shot and see how it comes out.

    I opened up my flour cabinet (yes I have a small pantry with all of my gluten-free flours stored in my favorite containers by Snapware) and looked around to see what I had left (I’m running extremely low or I’m completely out of the majority of my flours) and saw that I had some Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour, Gluten Free Bisquick and also some Orgran Rice Crumbs.  I decided to use a mixture of the Bisquick and Rice Crumbs and see how that would turn out, and if we didn’t like it I would try another combination the next time around.  We both really liked it – which I was surprised because I kind of just threw this recipe together quickly one night. The recipe is very simple and quick, you can feel free to change the measurements of the seasoning and cheese to your taste level.

    Chicken Parmesan

    1/4 Cup Gluten Free Bisquick (You could also sub in your favorite GF All Purpose Flour mix)

    1/8 Cup Rice Crumbs (You could also sub in GF Bread Crumbs)

    1/8 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

    1/4 Teaspoon Salt

    1/4 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning

    2 Medium Chicken Breasts – pounded to 1/4 inch thickness

    1 Egg – beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water

    Cooked Gluten Free Pasta – We use Sam Mill’s GF Corn Penne Pasta (It is our favorite GF pasta that we’ve tried)

    1/2-1 Cup Pasta Sauce (You can make your own or used a jarred sauce)

    1/3 Cup of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

    Directions:

    In a shallow baking dish beat one egg with 1 tablespoon of water, set aside.

    In a second shallow baking dish mix the Bisquick, Rice Crumbs, Cheese, Salt and Italian Seasoning – mix well, set aside.

    Between two pieces of plasticwrap or parchment paper pound the chicken until it is about 1/4 inch thick (for even and quick cooking).

    Dredge each piece of chicken in the Bisquick/Rice Crumb mixture, shake off any excess and then in the egg mixture.  Again shake off any excess and then dredge it back in the Bisquick/Rice Crumb mixture.  Set aside.

    In a medium skillet add one tablespoon of oil and heat over medium heat.  Once oil is hot enough (I always test by running cold water over my hand and then flicking a little in the pan, if it sizzles then I know my meat will sizzle – this is by no means scientific but it works well for me).  Add the two pieces of chicken breast.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly golden brown and juices run clear.

    If you do not have pans that can go into the oven, place the pieces of chicken either on a baking sheet or baking dish for this next step.

    Turn your oven to broil and top each piece of chicken with half of the mozzarella cheese.  Place the chicken under the broiler just until the cheese starts to bubble and turn lightly golden brown.

    Serve atop your favorite gluten-free pasta and top with your favorite sauce.

    Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich-Gluten Free

    (sorry the pic isn’t so great, I rushed because I really want to try this, its been over 2 years since I had one)

    We don’t eat fast food much.  If we do, we either go to Subway so Bryan can get a sandwich and I get a salad or we go to Wendy’s because they fry their french fries in a separate fryer and I can get a bun-less cheeseburger and Bryan can get his favorite spicy chicken sandwich.  That sandwich used to be my favorite also before I found I had Celiac Disease.  Every time he gets one I ask “can I just smell it” – you laugh but I seriously do this quite often with some of his “regular” food.

    Lately I’ve been on a kick of making things at home instead of going out and buying them.  For example in my last post I shared recipes from homemade beef jerky and granola bars.  I can’t go out and get a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich but I sure as heck can make it at home.  Making things at home also lets you control the ingredients you use.  Not saying that this sandwich is super healthy by any means, don’t get me wrong.  I mentioned to Bryan the other day that I could try to recreate that sandwich for him, but would have to do it gluten-free so I can enjoy it too…he said sure.  So I looked online for some ideas of what is actually in the sandwich and then went to work on creating a recipe for it.  I have to say it came out pretty darn awesome!  We both really liked it.  I served mine between two pieces of romaine lettuce and Bryan had his on a “regular” bun.  The spicy flavor in mine was much more pronounced without having all that bread in the way.

    Gluten-Free Spicy Chicken Sandwich (Wendy’s)

    1/4 Cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

    1/2 Cup Water

    1/2 Cup Gluten-Free Bisquick

    1 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt

    2 Teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

    1/8 Teaspoon Fine Ground Pepper

    1/4 Teaspoon Paprika

    1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

    2 Chicken Breasts – pounded until about 3/8 inch thick

    4 Pieces of Romain Lettuce

    1/4 Teaspoon Mayonnaise (optional)

    2 Tomato Slices (optional)

    Mix together the Gluten-Free Bisquick, Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Pepper, Paprika and Garlic Powder in a large bowl.

    In a separate bowl mix together Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and water.

    In a large high-sided sauté pan heat 1/2 cup – 1 cup of canola oil (should come up about 1/2 inch the side of the pan depending on the size of your pan) on medium heat.  You could also use a deep fryer but I didn’t want to deal with all of that.

    Take one chicken breast at a time and dredge it in the GF Bisquick mixture, then coat it in the hot sauce/water mixture and then again in the Bisquick mixture.

    Cook chicken for about 4-5 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and no longer pink in the center (I cut mine just to make sure).

    Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.  Serve on lettuce or a bun and top with mayonnaise (optional), tomato (optional) and an additional piece of lettuce.  Enjoy!!

    The Bisquick worked perfect for this recipe.  It was nice and crunchy and the chicken was juicy, and just the right amount of spice.  Oh how I have missed this sandwich, but now I can make it at home!

     

     

    Butternut Squash Soup & Croutons

    I have been wanting to make some butternut squash soup for a while now, but sadly I don’t own a food processor, blender or immersion blender so I put it off. I started thinking about the soup again this past week and was determined to make it, so I thought if I cooked the squash enough I could just mash it, but then it wouldn’t have that smooth creamy texture so I finally went next door and asked my neighbor if she had a blender or food processor I could borrow.  Of course she had one, and why had I not thought of asking her sooner?  Who knows, I’m a bit slow lately.  Being sick for a month has really thrown me for a loop.  I am finally feeling better and getting back into cooking more.  Poor Bryan has been dealing with my half-ass attempts of meals lately, which consisted of mostly “mushy” foods because I couldn’t chew anything.  Even though this soup could be considered another “mushy” meal I refuse to look at it that way because I have been craving it for so long.  To add a little bit of texture to the soup I topped it with some crispy bacon pieces and homemade gluten-free croutons (see recipe below).

    Like always, I did some searching online for butternut squash soup recipes just to see what others put in theirs.  I found that many of the recipes were similar to the one that I had floating around in my head so I figured I would just wing it and see how it tasted (maybe not always the best idea). Bryan hasn’t really eaten butternut squash much and has never had butternut squash soup, so to make it more appealing to him I wanted to add a bit of spice to it.  The first time I ever had this soup was in China of all places.  It was amazing.   If you don’t like that much spice you can always start by cutting those ingredients in half at first, taste it and then add accordingly.

    Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

    2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)

    4 celery stalks – diced

    3 garlic cloves, chopped

    2 medium-large butternut squash (about 3 – 3.5 pounds) – See prep options below

    1 large sweet potato (or two small/medium) Peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

    3 cups of chicken broth (gluten-free low sodium/organic)

    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    1/8 teaspoon allspice

    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

    salt and pepper to taste

    1/4-1/2 cup half and half

    There are two ways that you can prepare the squash:

    1- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and place flesh side down on a foil lined baking sheet (oiled/sprayed well).  In a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 40-50 minutes.  Once roasted and cooled slightly scoop out flesh and add to soup

    2- Peel the squash, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and then chop into one inch cubes.  Cook squash in the soup with out roasting.

    The first one is probably a bit easier because the skin of the squash is very touch and can be a pain to peel.  I have a really good peeler so I didn’t have any problems with it.  So it is completely up to you on which method you prefer to use, and you will get great results either way.  The recipe below is for option number two, however if you choose to roast your squash then scoop it out add it after you sauté the celery, garlic add the broth.  You can then go right into pureeing the soup.

    Directions:

    Peel and cut your squash and sweet potato and set aside.  Over medium heat in a large sauce pan (or stock pot) add olive oil and celery, cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes.  Next, add squash, sweet potato, half of the spices and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil for 20 minutes.  Lower heat to simmer.

    In small batches ladle the soup into a blender (or food processor) and puree until smooth and there are no chunks.  Add the pureed soup back into the pan and repeat until all the soup has been pureed and it is smooth.  Add remaining spices and half and half.  Do Not bring back to a boil, just simmer on low for 15-20 minutes.  Serve warm with your choice of toppings (bacon, croutons, sour cream, spiced pumpkin seeds etc.)

    We served ours with crumbled maple bacon bits and some gluten-free multigrain croutons. Croutons are so simple to make, I dont’ know why people buy them. You can make them how ever you wish, plain, garlic, seasoned etc. You should really try to experiment with them at some point.  Great in both soups and salads or to just munch on.

    Gluten-Free Croutons

    6 pieces of gluten-free bread (I used Rudi’s Multi Grain Bread)

    1 clove of garlic minced

    3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

    1 tablespoon melted butter

    salt

    Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl combine garlic, oil, butter and salt – set aside.  Cut bread into small chunks and place them on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the oil, butter and garlic mixture over the bread chunks.  Toss the bread to make sure it is evenly coated.  Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes, turning once.  Croutons should be a light/medium golden brown.

    You can all any seasoning you wish to your croutons and increase the measurements according to the amount of bread you are using.  Other seasoning options include: dried basil, dried oregano, celery seed, pepper, parsley, grated parmesan cheese or whatever you wish.

    These can be stored in an air tight container for up to four weeks or frozen for up to six months.

    Help Rudi’s “Spread The Bread” “For every dollar coupon downloaded, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery will give a dollar to The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to help in their efforts to better educate physicians in the diagnosis of celiac disease. There are an estimated 3 million people in the United States suffering from celiac disease, yet only 160,000 are diagnosed.” Get your coupon HERE!

    Mozzarella Sticks

     

    One of my favorite snack foods when growing up was mozzarella sticks.  I grew up in fairly small town, however it had three or four pizza places (mostly run by Greeks instead of Italians) and none of the pizza was ever spectacular or out of this world but the mozzarella sticks were always good (and their sandwiches!).  I would much rather have an order of mozzarella sticks instead of pizza; I don’t know if it was because I loved cheese so much, or that they were hot, gooey and crunchy at the same time.  No matter the reason, I was a huge fan.  That was until I was told I was lactose intolerant (or so the doctors thought back then).  I gave up on my love of fried cheese way back then so when I was finally diagnosed with having Celiac Disease I never really gave them much thought.

    I can’t remember exactly what made me think of them and crave them again, but last time we went grocery shopping I mentioned to Bryan that I can try to make them gluten-free, he of course said “sure”. I began looking online for recipes on how to make mozzarella sticks at home, which I figured wouldn’t be hard but I needed to see the basics. You need mozzarella, bread crumbs, flour, oil and egg.  I found a “regular” recipe and a gluten-free recipe that were pretty much the same so I figured I would try that one first, and of course make a few minor adjustments.  First off instead of using bread crumbs I used Orgran’s Rice Crumbs and seasoned those (see below), I also changed some of the measurements from the original recipe.   I made Bryan these for lunch today.  He being my official taste tester really enjoyed them.  I love him being a non-gluten-free taste tester because if he says something is good, then it is.

    Gluten Free Mozzarella Sticks (GF/OF)

    1/3 Cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (you could use another flour blend if you wish)

    1/3 Cup Corn Starch

    2 Eggs

    1/4 Cup Water

    1 to 1 1/3 Cup(s) Rice Crumbs (or bread crumbs)

    2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

    2 Teaspoons of Italian Seasoning (Parsley, Oregano, etc.)

    1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

    1/2 Teaspoon Salt

    1 16oz package of Mozzarella Sticks – cut in half (12 sticks)

    Canola Oil – enough to have 1/2 inch come up the side of your pan

    3 Shallow Dishes

    1. In the first shallow dish add the flour and corn starch, mix well.  In the second dish add the egg and water, whisk well.  In the third dish combine the rice crumbs, garlic, Italian seasoning (your choice of herbs), pepper and salt, mix well.
    2. Open all of the mozzarella sticks and cut in half.  You should have 24 pieces.  You could cut this in half again and make little mozzarella poppers.
    3. In batches of four or six, coat the mozzarella sticks in the flour/corn starch mixture.  Shake off any excess.
    4. Then add them to the egg and water mixture – make sure these get coated all around – including the ends.
    5. Before adding the sticks into the rice crumb and herb mixture shake off any excess egg.  Coat well in, including the ends.
    6. You can either leave them as they are or go back and repeat steps 4 and 5 – I did this and the came out with a great crunch.  Trust me you will have enough egg and rice crumb mixture to do all of these twice.
    7. Place the ready to fry sticks either on a plate or cooling rack.
    8. Add oil to a large sauté pan so it comes up about 1/2 inch. Heat oil over medium heat.
    9. Again, in batches of four or six add your mozzarella sticks and cook for about thirty seconds on each side.  Take out of the oil and place on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to catch any excess oil that may drip off. Repeat this step until all of the sticks have been fried.
    10. Serve with warmed up marinara sauce.

    Notes:

    If you have the time (I didn’t) before you fry these up, place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze for about an hour.  This will help them from bursting open when you fry them.

    You can also make these in advance and then freeze them in smaller batches to easily be heated up again at a later time.  I would suggest heating them in a toaster or regular oven. This is a great idea for an after school snack for your kiddos.  Instead of buying the frozen ones at the store, make them at home, freeze them in small portions and there you go!

    The rice crumbs worked perfectly!  If  you haven’t tried these yet or are looking for an alternative to bread crumbs, you should really give them a try.

    Some recipes are just so easy so why not make them at home?  That way you know for sure you can eat them and the best part you know what is going into them. These really did come out great.  Very simple, easy and quick recipe.  I think I will make these for our super bowl party this year.

    Pulled Pork and Cornbread

    I have fallen in love with my crockpot!  I got a new one for Christmas from my dad and stepmom, a nice big 7qt one…mind you we are a household of two people but we put this to some good use.  After spending two very long weeks in New Jersey I came home with a horrible cold and no energy so I decided that it would be a week of easy and/or crockpot recipes.  I have been so excited to start using the crockpot and one of my new cookbooks (which I won from the lovely Shirley of GFE) “Make It Fast, Cook It Slow” by Stephanie O’Dea (A Year of Slow Cooking).  Her cookbook is fantastic, over 300 recipes all in the crockpot and all gluten free.  Over the holiday I had been flipping through the book trying to figure out what to make first and we decided on the Korean Ribs recipe (That recipe will be posted soon but just a quick summary of it – they were awesome!).  While looking through the cookbook Bryan saw the Pulled Pork Recipe and requested that “we”, meaning I make that soon.  I’m not the biggest fan of pork but I said sure, lets give it a shot.  We didn’t have all the ingredients listed in the recipe but we had a very large bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce (Bryan’s favorite) so we used that instead.  I have to say it came out really really good.  Normally one would eat pulled pork on a nice roll but seeing as I didn’t have or didn’t make any gluten free rolls, I made some cornbread instead.  I used Orgran Natural Foods Gluten Free Cornbread.  This I have to say is my favorite gluten free cornbread.  The taste, texture and the fact that I could use it as bread to make a sandwich is just awesome. Even Bryan, my cornbread loving non-gluten free boyfriend said it was his favorite, and he is very picky about his cornbreads.

    Have you checked out Orgran’s website? All Orgran products are Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Diary Free, Egg Free, Yeast Free, GMO Free and Vegan! So if you are a family with multiple allergies, you should really check them out. I have also had the pleasure to try their Gluten Free Easy Bake Bread Mix – YUMMM.  I used this bread with my favorite Boar’s Head meats and cheeses.  Great texture and flavor to this bread, perfect for sandwiches and/or toast in the morning.

    Pulled Pork – Slow Cooker Recipe

    1 2-3 pound pork loin

    1 large bottle of BBQ Sauce  (Sweet Baby Rays is Gluten Free!)

    1/2 cup water

    In a crockpot place the pork loin and between 24-30 oz of Gluten Free BBQ sauce (one large bottle) and 1/2 cup water.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to shred with a fork…trust me this will fall apart.  Mine was at this point around 5 1/2 hours but I let it cook for six.

    Enjoy!

    Chicken Pot Pie

    It is the time of year for comfort foods!  Who doesn’t love a nice hot meal on a very chilly day?  I know I do.

    Bryan had mentioned a while back that he really liked chicken pot pie and missed it.  Me being the nice girlfriend that I am decided that I would attempt to make him one, but of course it had to be gluten free so I could also enjoy it.  I actually have never been the biggest fan of pot pies for several reasons: when I was younger I choked on the crust a bit (probably why I don’t like pies that much either and prefer crisps or crumb toppings), I HATE peas, and very much dislike cooked carrots – which are ummm three major ingredients of pot pie.  The three things I don’t like are the three things Bryan really enjoys, well at least two of them, crusts and peas.

    I searched online for some gluten free recipes to gain some inspiration and hoped to find a good crust topping.  I eventually stumbled upon a gluten free recipe from Bisquick and seeing as we have some, I would give that recipe a try. I mostly followed it, with a few minor tweaks and it came out pretty well…Bryan really liked it and honestly that is all that mattered. (You can view the original recipe HERE)

    Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie

    Filling:

    2 tablespoons butter

    1 cup diced potatoes (peeled)

    2 garlic cloves

    3-4 celery stalks chopped (try to chopped all the vegetables the same size)

    2 medium carrots chopped

    1/2 cup frozen peas

    1 1/2 cups cooked chicken – cut up

    1 3/4 cup gluten free chicken broth

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

    3/4 cup milk

    3 tablespoons cornstarch

    Topping:

    3/4 cup Bisquick Gluten Free Mix

    1/2 cup milk

    1 egg

    2 tablespoons melted butter

    1 teaspoon tried thyme (I actually used 1 tablespoon and we both thought it was too much)

    Salt

    Directions:

    1. Heat oven to 350ºF. In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add potatoes; cook, stirring frequently cook for five minutes. Stir in celery, carrots,garlic and peas, cook an additional five minutes. Add the chicken, chicken broth, salt and thyme; heat to boiling. In small bowl, mix 3/4 cup milk and the cornstarch with wire whisk until smooth; stir into chicken mixture. Heat just to boiling. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole.
    2. In small bowl, stir all topping ingredients with fork until blended. Season with salt and pepper. Drop topping mixture by small spoonfuls over chicken mixture. Carefully spread the topping over the entire dish (this is optional, you can just top it with the spoonfuls).
    3. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of topping comes out clean. The topping should be a light golden brown.


    P.F. Chang’s Beef a La Sichuan

    My version of P.F. Chang’s Beef a La Sichuan

    P.F. Chang’s Beef a La Sichuan

    Yesterday was day two in my weekly menu planning and Bryan’s last day of classes for his first semester as a 1L, so I decided to celebrate I would try to tackled one of our favorite P.F. Chang’s recipes – Beef a La Sichuan.  Ever since this was put on the gluten-free menu at P.F. Chang’s it is all Bryan will order.  I usually order the Chang’s Spicy Chicken (it’s amazing if you haven’t had it yet, you should).  Sadly though we don’t have a P.F. Chang’s close to us so I’ve been searching online for “copycat” recipes for this dish.  I really only found one, but found plenty of pictures of the dish which didn’t help me at all.  The recipe I found was pretty good, however it didn’t have any measurements for the ingredients! Seeing as we hadn’t had this in a while I had to think back to what it tasted like and try to build a sauce based on memory-honestly I got it on the first shot…not sure if I should be proud of that or kind of embarrassed.  If you don’t know Chinese food is my biggest weakness and seeing as I can’t go to any restaurant and get something I do my best to create recipes inspired by my favorite Chinese/Asian dishes.

    I found the recipe on RecipeLink.com and like I said it had no measurements so below is my measurements along with RecipeLink.com’s directions.  Now this recipe is a little in-depth with the preparation so be prepared to spend a bit of time in the kitchen the first time-but I promise it is worth it.  I’m sure you can always find some shortcuts, like finding celery and carrots that are already julienned for you but I wanted to do it start to finished myself.   The original recipe called for green onion stems but seeing as we don’t cook/consume onions in our house we just omitted them but you can add them in if you wish.

    P.F. Chang’s Beef a La Sichuan

    Stir Fry Ingredients:

    1 Pound Flank or Sirloin Steak Sliced thin
    3-4 Medium Celery Stalks -Julienned
    2 Medium Carrots – Julienned
    Green Onion Stems (Optional)
    1/2 Cup Peanut Oil or Canola Oil (you may use less if using a non-stick pan, I only use about 1/4 cup)
    1/4 Cup Corn Starch
    1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes(or whole Tien Tsin Chinese Chili Peppers work great)

    1 1/2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil

    Sauce Ingredients:

    3 Tablespoons Gluten Free Soy Sauce (I use San-J)
    2 Tablespoons Gluten Free Hoisin Sauce (I use Dynasty)
    1 Tablespoon Garlic Chili Paste
    1/2 Teaspoon Chinese Hot Mustard
    1 Teaspoon Rice Wine Vinegar
    1/2 Teaspoon Chili oil/or Mongolian Fire Oil (made by House of Tsang) -(Optional)
    1 – 2 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
    1 Teaspoon Minced garlic
    1/2 Teaspoon Minced Ginger
    1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

    Directions

    Mix all of the sauce ingredients together and set aside.

    Julienne your carrots and celery and set aside. It is important to get these done first because when it comes time to stir-fry them, it is a very quick process.

    An important step is “velveting your beef” – Thinly slice your beef and place in a bowl. Add the cornstarch and  toss to make sure each piece is thoroughly coated. Set aside for 10 minutes.

    Rinse beef free from all cornstarch and pat dry – you do not want any moisture or the oil will splatter when you add the beef to the pan.

    In a skillet (or wok), fry the sliced meat in hot peanut (or canola) oil until crispy to your liking. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels.

    In the same pan (or wok) add the following ingredients in this order with sesame oil: stir-fry celery, crushed red pepper flakes (or Tein Tsin Chinese Chili Peppers) followed by carrots. Do not over cook these ingredients – you want them to be nice and crispy. Add fried meat and green onions. Add sauce and bring to a fast boil, cook for 1 minute and serve immediately over white or brown rice.

    This last step should take only 3-4 minutes – it is a very quick process so be sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t over cook.

    Notes:

    I sliced my beef a little bigger than P.F. Chang’s does but not by much and didn’t fry it as much as they do.  Some times the beef can become a bit tough when it is fried too long so I left mine a little tender but still had a slight crunch to it.

    The veggies were perfect – like the directions above say DO NOT OVER COOK them – they are supposed to be nice and crunchy.  This process goes very quickly.

    I drained off most of the remaining oil from frying the beef before adding the Sesame oil and veggies.  I didn’t wan it to be too oily.

    The recipe called for Chili Oil but I couldn’t find it anywhere around me (my grocery stores aren’t so good with stocking “international” cuisine products) so I left it out and didn’t miss it at all.

    The sauce was created from memory so if you have had it more recently and attempt to make it at home please adjust the measurements to your liking.

    I cooked this in a wok but you can use a large sauté pan.

    We had not leftovers!! Like I said this is Bryan’s favorite dish.

    Who says you have to go our to have great Chinese food when  you can easily make it at home!  It may take a little longer to make it but it is so worth it and helps save you a little money too.

    M&M Cookies

    Last night we had our first frost of the season! Took the dog out this morning and the cars were all covered and the ground was nice and crunchy – today was a baking day for sure.  In my last post I wrote about living the gluten-free life not only creatively but frugally as well.  Seeing as I am running low on all of my gluten free flours and xanthan gum I was trying to think of something to bake that didn’t require much of those ingredients and was simple to make.  I did some searching online because none of the recipes I have would of worked with what I have in the house.

    Bob’s Red Mill has some fantastic recipes on their website and I found a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe by Carol Fenster that sounded pretty dang tasty.  Who doesn’t miss coming home after school and your mom having fresh baked cookies for you?! I know I do.  Seeing as Bryan is at school all day and well, I’m home I thought I would make these for him and seeing as we don’t have any chocolate chips in the house, I decided to use some of his plain M&M’s instead (I have peanut ones, and those are just too darn big for cookies).  These cookies remind me of the ones you would get at the food court in the mall at the cookie stand, crunchy and soft at the same time-they went great with a cup of soy milk!!

    M&M Cookies (Chocolate Chip Cookies by Carol Fenster) (GF)

    Ingredients

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet or line with parchment paper; set aside.

    Stir together the GF baking flour, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt; set aside.

    In a large mixer bowl, beat butter (room temperature, not melted) with granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and egg; scrape sides of bowl frequently. Beat in flour mixture on low speed, mixing thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

    Shape dough into flat disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on baking sheet, or roll into balls if dough is hard to work with. Bake 10-12 minutes on center rack of oven or until lightly browned. Cool 2-3 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Makes 24 cookies.

    P.S. – We’ve got some give aways coming up so keep checking back in the next few days!! Trust me you don’t want to miss these:)

    Creatively and Frugally Gluten Free

    We’ve all been hit hard with the economy the way that it is and if you are like myself, you’ve been hit a bit harder because I am still out of work.  I wasn’t laid off or anything, I willing left my job and life in California to move back East to be with Bryan.  I don’t regret my decision by any means – I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. If I didn’t move in the summer who knows if or when it would have happened.  There were other factors (like our families) into moving when I did but he was the main reason.  Seeing as I left my job, I do not collect unemployment and have no income or health insurance. I spend my days searching and applying for jobs – which is usually about 20 jobs!  I’m not being picky and only applying for certain jobs, I am applying to anything and everything that I remotely qualify, however the call backs are scarce. sparse.  Honestly as depressing and defeating as it is, I keep doing it every day.  I know something will come along, I just hope it happens soon. It is funny because the few responses I have received back say I am over qualified and that is one thing I have never been told in my life, usually it is the opposite because even though I have about 10 years of administrative work under my belt (mostly in Higher Education admissions) I am under qualified because I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree (actually any degree for that matter).

    I would love to someday have the ability to donate my time with an organization or be a part time food blogger and work part-time, but right now we need me to be working.  I enjoy working (and earning a pay check) actually I miss working.  People keep telling me that once I get a job I’ll be wishing for this time again, and I’m sure I will at some point but I think it might take a while for me to feel that way.

    So with being out of work for a total of four months we have learned to not only live the gluten-free life creatively but also frugally!  I am a coupon clipper and at first Bryan would make fun of me for it but I think now he is pretty thankful for my OCD with coupons.  Each week when we get the grocery ads I scour them looking for the good sales.  We normally don’t buy anything that isn’t on sale.  I’m a big fan of the buy one get one items.  We buy more fresh items vs. processed items.

    I also try to make as many gluten-free things that I possibly can instead of buying them at the stores such as granola, bread, salad dressings, cookies, ice tea, mochas, cakes and pies.  Sadly however, I am running low on all of my gluten-free flours and my xanthan gum! So I have to be careful until I can afford to order some new ones.  Today I was trying to think of other things I can make at home with the ingredients I have on hand instead of buying.  One thing that came to mind is taco seasoning.  We eat tacos fairly often because it is a quick and easy meal that we both enjoy.  So I did some searching around online to find out what people really put in taco seasoning because the packages are a bit vague listing “spices” – well that is obvious but which ones? Here is what I came up with, and should probably note we really enjoy spicy foods in our house so you might want to adjust this recipe to your level of spice preference.  We tried this tonight and it was really good, if I do say so myself!

    CCGF’s Taco Seasoning (GF/OF/DF)

    1 Tablespoon Corn Starch (I noticed some people used Potato Starch or Corn Flour)

    1 Teaspoon Chili Powder (make sure it is gluten-free!)

    1 Teaspoon Paprika

    3/4 Teaspoon Salt

    1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

    1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (You might want to use only 1/4 teaspoon if you don’t like much spice)

    1/2 Teaspoon Chipolte Pepper (You can omit this or use 1/4 teaspoon)

    1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

    1/4 Teaspoon Sugar

    Add all of the ingredients to a bowl or plastic bag, mix well.  Store in an airtight container.

    Tacos:

    1lb – 1 1/2lb ground beef or turkey

    Taco Seasoning (see above)

    2/3 Cup water

    Corn tortilla shells -hard or soft

    Shredded lettuce (optional)

    Shredded cheese (optional)

    Sour cream (optional)

    Avocado (optional)

    In a large skillet on medium heat, brown beef and drain off any fat, about 8-10 minutes.  Add taco seasoning stir until well combined then add water.  Simmer over medium heat until sauce has thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Serve in taco shells with your favorite toppings.  You can even make nachos with this instead!

    Here is to living the gluten-free life creatively and frugally!


    Asian Inspired Green Beans

    When living in China a few years ago I feel even more in love with Chinese food (and Asian food in general).  I love the flavors, ingredients, smells and verity of cooking styles.  I had some of the best food I’ve ever tasted in Changping District.  Spicy cucumbers, Kung Pao Chicken, fresh made wonton soup and fresh soy milk (nice and warm) every morning.  One ingredient that I feel in love with was sesame oil.  It is one of those ingredients that just even smelling it makes me smile.

    The other night when I was making Bryan some Sweet and Spicy Chicken I decided we need a vegetable to go along with it.  Our choices were broccoli or green beans and we opted for the green beans this time.  (I think both green beans and broccoli go well with Asian dishes).  Instead of just plain steamed green beans I wanted to spice things up a bit and came up with the following recipe (which I have since tested – as you can see from the photo above).

    Asian Inspired Green Beans

    1 pound green beans – ends trimmed

    1/2 tsp sesame oil

    1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

    1 tsp water

    1/8-1/4 tsp honey

    salt to taste

    Steam green beans and drain – reserve one teaspoon of the hot water.  In a sauté pan add water, sesame oil and red pepper flakes over medium/high heat.  Add green beans and sauté for five-seven minutes (feel free to add more sesame oil or red pepper flakes to your taste).  Remove from heat and drizzle with honey.  Stir until green beans are coated well.

    You can add any other vegetables you make like – mushrooms, shelled edamame etc.  As you can see in the above photo I added mushrooms and served them over some read quinoa…a great light and refreshing vegetarian and gluten-free side dish or lunch.

    Also check out: P.F. Chang’s Shanghai Cucumber