Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mini Turkey Meatloaf and Mashed "Potatoes" aka Cauliflower

With the hubby's birthday, we haven't been sticking to the food path so well the past week. Today, I could certainly feel it...especially when it came to what I felt like eating. I wanted something homey and comforting, yet healthy.

This became a very "traditional" comfort meal, except there was nothing traditional about it. Turkey meatloaf full of veggies (gotta sneak these in where ever I can!) and mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. I wasn't sure if the hubby would like it at all, but he loved it! This will definitely become part of our regular dinner rotation.

Mini Turkey Meatloaf

1 pound lean ground turkey (93/7 works best)
1/2 large onion, diced very finely
2-3 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 carrot, shredded
1 smallish zucchini, shredded
1-2 stalks celery, diced finely
1 tsp thyme
1/4 cup ketchup

Line muffin tin with liners. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Make sure that the zucchini is wrung out. I do this in a kitchen towel. You don't want any extra liquid in the zucchini.

Mix all ingredients together so they are well combined. Fill liners with mixture. You can top each mini meatloaf with ketchup at this point if you want. It helps to seal in the moisture.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. This makes 11-12, depending on how full you fill the liners.

I served ours with mashed cauliflower and a big salad. It was incredibly delicious, satisfying and filling.

Mashed Cauliflower

1/2 head of cauliflower
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 tablespoons Spectrum shortening (butter would work fine)
1/4 - 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk (half and half for you dairy lovin' folks)

Boil or steam cauliflower together with the cloves of garlic until the cauliflower is very soft. Drain and try to squeeze out as much water as you can.

Transfer to a bowl and mash together along with shortening and milk. Season with salt and pepper.

This made enough for about 4 servings.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin Pasta

Its 86 degrees outside today. Doesn't that seem much more like temperatures for July and August instead of October? However, it seems like my body doesn't want to comply with what is going on outside. I'm completely ready for Fall...and so are my taste buds. So despite the atrociously warm weather, I decided it was time for a fall meal.

Now, we don't eat pasta very often. Too many carbs and grains for me. However, I do indulge every once in a while. Last night was one of those nights. My personal preference is Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta. For me, it doesn't get gummy or gooey like brown rice pastas can.

The flavors in this pasta sauce are warm and calming and bring the smells of fall to the kitchen. I used goat cheese to create a creaminess to the sauce. My sensitive tummy can handle to goat cheese much easier than any dairy. However, if you don't care for the tang the goat cheese can add, you can always substitute in cream cheese or plain greek yogurt. (If you choose the yogurt route, you may need to adapt the amount of broth added, as the yogurt is thinner than the cheese.)

Pumpkin Pasta

1 pound gf pasta
1/2 yellow onion, diced finely
3 garlic cloves, minced finely
2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth (if using store bought, make sure its low sodium)
5 oz goat cheese
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp agave

Cook pasta to al dente. You still want it to have a little bite to it.

In a tall sided saute pan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Saute onions until they start to become translucent, about 5 minutes. (You don't want them to get too brown, so make sure your heat isn't too high.) Add garlic, continue to saute until onions are completely translucent and garlic is soft.

In the same pan, add in pumpkin and chicken broth. Slowly whisk together until completely combined. Add in goat cheese, whisking until melted and combined into pumpkin mixture. At this point, if you want a thinner sauce, add more broth to reach desired consistency. I like a much thicker sauce, so I didn't add any additional broth.

Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, agave, salt and pepper. If you are using cream cheese or plain yogurt, you may not need as much spice, due to the tang of the goat cheese. I suggest starting with half of what I suggest and adding from there.

Serve hot with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

This makes more than enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta. The extra freezes very well and defrosts easily.

Shared at:  Slightly Indulgent Tuesday  Hearth & Soul Hop

Friday, September 30, 2011

Morning Mango Muffins

Confession: I am a terrible breakfast eater.

Yes, I know. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I try, I really do. But I'm just not hungry in the morning. Needless to say, my blood sugar the rest of my day is pretty screwy. So I'm trying to be better.

My first step is to always have something in the house I know I will eat. Unfortunately, it's harder than it sounds. I don't eat cereal and I have texture and dairy issues with yogurt. I can't eat too much fruit as it spikes my blood pressure too high. I've been trying to make things I can eat...muffins, breakfast bars, power bars, etc.

This means you'll be seeing a lot a breakfast posts on here. All healthier versions than what you can buy anywhere; most of them grain-free, egg-free, vegan and dairy free.

This recipe is based on a gluten-filled recipe I found at Alisa Cooks. I'm a huge fan of her website because she cooks dairy-free.

Now, these muffins are full of good fiber and natural sweeteners. They are dairy free with a vegan option and they can be modified to include whatever fruit puree you like!

Morning Mango Muffins
Modified from Marvelous Honey Mango Muffins at Alisa Cooks

1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup oat flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp basking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups mango puree
1/2 cup agave plus 1 tablespoon (set aside for later)
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquefied
2 eggs - either large organic or chia/flax for vegan
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mango, diced

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

If using chia eggs, combine ground chia/flax with warm water and let sit for 5 minutes.
In a bowl, combine together almond flour, oat flour, sorghum flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl combine fruit puree, agave, oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in two parts. Stir together just so dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold in diced mango.

Fill cups 3/4 full. Bake 25-30 minutes for regular, 40-45 for jumbo. Muffins will be browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the tablespoon of agave over the tops of the hot muffins. Let them cool for 15 minutes in the pan and them remove muffins to finish cooling completely.

Store in an air tight container, freeze if necessary.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gingerbread Muffins

There are so many things about these muffins that I love! The Greek yogurt makes them moist, dense...almost like the real thing. The spices make them lovely and warm . The smell that permeates the air of the kitchen is intoxicating.

Now, they don't have any molasses, so they aren't exactly like gingerbread, but the spices are lovely and delicious and makes it super close.

I have to say, these are the closest to gluten-filled muffins I've ever made!! Even though they are full of Fall, I may just have to start making them year-round.

Gingerbread Muffins

1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 almond milk (any dairy free will do)
2 eggs **see note for egg free
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3/4 cup agave

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flours, salt and spices. Sift together to evenly combine. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until light in color. Add in almond milk, yogurt, vanilla, coconut oil and agave. Combine until smooth. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir to combine. Don't over-mix.

Fill muffin tins to 3/4 full. Bake 15-20 minutes for regular muffins and 25-30 minutes for jumbo. Cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the pan to finish cooling. Leaving gluten-free baked goods in the pan to cool can make the bottoms mushy.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week. Wrap individually and then freeze in airtight container.

For egg-free, you can use either flax eggs or chia eggs. Just add an additional 1/8 tsp baking powder PER EGG!
Chia egg: For one egg, mix 1 tsp ground chia with 3 tablespoons hot water. Let sit 5 minutes.
Flax egg: For one egg, mix 1 tablespoon ground flax with 3 tablespoons hot water. Let sit 5 minutes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I love Fall. I'm fairly certain I could start every post for the next few months that way. I don't think there is one specific thing that makes Fall my favorite. I love the smells, the changing temperature, the changing leaves and the food....the warmth and depth that cinnamon and ginger give to soup, muffins, etc.

We went to our local farmer's market last weekend and it was full of Fall. Pumpkins, squash, rich maple syrup flavored with cinnamon and vanilla and apples. I was in heaven. As we wandered through the stalls, my mind raced with thoughts of soups, muffins and breads. There were so many options, but I knew that I couldn't take it all home. My kitchen is pretty little :)

As we wandered toward the end, my eye was caught by this beautiful butternut squash. Now, I've never really been a squash fan. I like zucchini, but the thanks. But this squash looked beautiful. Maybe I should broaden my horizons and try it. But how? I'd never cooked it before. I knew I didn't want it plain. They only thing I could think of was soup. The temperature has dropped into the 50's quite regularly. Soup would be perfect.

This was totally new for me; something I've never tried before. And I have to was SO good!!!!! Its a little more sweet than savory, but its thick, creamy and extremely filling.

Now, the squash we bought was huge! I only roasted half of it and that was about 4 pounds. This soup is very easy to cut in half, or double, depending on the size of your squash. It would also be pretty easy to make it savory rather than sweet...just change up your spices a bit. Use some thyme, sage, ginger, maybe curry powder or a little cayenne pepper. Modify until your heart's content! :)

An item of note: I don't tend to measure my spices when I cook. These measurements are approximate. When you're cooking, always start with less and add until it tastes the way you want it to.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

4 pounds squash
2 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small apples, chopped
1 cup coconut milk (can use half and half)
5 cups homemade chicken broth (can use veggie broth for vegan soup)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 scant tsp ginger
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (sea salt is different than table salt..its less salty)
1/4 cup agave (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and scrape out seeds. Using a fork, poke the skin side of the squash 6-12 times. Drizzle the cut side with a little olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, if desired. Roast until squash is soft to the touch. A fork should easily pierce through the flesh. You want it super soft. It will take around 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your squash. Remove from the oven and cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot over med to med-hi heat, depending on your stove. Add carrots and celery; saute for 7-8 minutes. Add onions and garlic. Continue to saute until all the veggies become very soft, adding the apples last. The carrots will take the longest to cook. Don't add the onion and garlic too soon or they will burn.

Scrape the flesh out of the squash skin. I actually found it easier to turn the squash flesh side down and peel the skin away instead of trying to scoop the flesh out.

Add veggies and squash to the food processor. (Due to the quantity, I ended up doing this in two batches.) Add about 3 cups of broth. Puree everything until smooth. You may need more broth in order for everything to move well in your food processor.

Before you return the mixture to the soup pot, make sure that you wipe out any remaining veggie bits that didn't make it to the food processor. You don't want those little bits in your soup.

Return the soup to the pot. Add coconut milk and additional broth until you achieve desired consistency. I used 1 cup coconut milk and 5 cups broth. Our soup was still plenty thick and creamy. Add spices and salt. Stir to combine. Simmer until warmed all the way through.

If your food processor didn't puree everything the way you wanted, you can always use an immersion blender in the soup pot to break down any additional chunks.

Serve with creme frachie or sour cream.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Asian Style Turkey Burgers

I've never really been a big red meat fan, but I LOVE cheeseburgers. I used to know when my body was lacking in protein based on my burger cravings. That is definitely one thing I truly missed since going gluten-free. Yes, I know I can wrap them in lettuce, but it just isn't the same. That is, until recently.

We've replaced most of our red meat consumption with ground turkey and chicken. (The Hubby still enjoys a good steak every now and then.) Unfortunately, both can get really dry due to the minimal fat content in the meat. Often times, it leads to an unappetizing burger and generally, a disappointing experience.

Last week started with a burger craving, which I knew meant I was in need of some additional protein in my diet. I decided I was going to make decent turkey burger to quench the craving. The key was adding some water to the mix. Yes, it made the meat mixture very wet and sloppy. It almost wouldn't mold into burgers. I just kind of had to form it as best I could. However, they cooked very well and held together perfectly.

SUCCESS!! They were moist, juicy and overall wonderfully flavored. We love Asian food, so these fit in very well with our pallets. If you don't like spice, you can leave out or reduce the sambal oelek (spicy chili paste). Remember, you do have to cook turkey all the way medium-rare burgers here. BUT....don't over cook them! The water will leak out and they will be come dry and flavorless.

We served ours with lettuce buns (and they weren't lacking, I promise), avocado, cucumber, red bell pepper, tomato, and cheese. I topped mine with sambal oelek mixed with some Miracle Whip. Hubby topped his with some homemade Thai peanut sauce.

Asian-Style Turkey Burgers

1 small/medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey (I used 93/7)
1 can water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and diced
1-inch ginger, grated
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sambal oelek* (or to taste depending on your heat preference. I'll probably add more next time as this wasn't very spicy)
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Saute onions until the soften and begin to turn translucent. Add garlic and saute until both are soft and golden in color. Remove from the stove a cool just a bit.

In a bowl, combine onions, garlic, turkey, water chestnuts, ginger, soy sauce, sambal oelek and cilantro. Add water slowly, combining everything with your hands. Depending on your altitude and the humidity, you may need more or less than 1/2 cup. You want a wet mixture, but on that will still stay together. This DOES NOT form together the same way ground beef does. That's ok. They will cook up just fine. Form into 4-5 patties, depending on how big you like your burgers. Grill about 5 minutes per side, but watch them carefully so they don't become over-done and dry.

Enjoy with your favorite burger toppings or favorite Asian toppings.

I buy the majority of my Asian ingredients at our local Asian market. I find they are much cheaper than the regular grocery store.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You'll Never Believe These Are Good For You

A couple weeks ago, I went home for a friend's wedding. While hanging out at my parent's house, I decided I wanted some muffins to eat for breakfast. I had seen a recipe on the Food Network for some muffins made with carrots and zucchini. Lately, I've been trying to incorporate more veggies into each meal and these muffins peeked my interest.

Now, when I made these back home the first time, I wasn't sure what to expect; but let me tell you...the taste surpassed anything I could have imagined. The were dense, moist, soft and the cinnamon gave a wonderful warmth and depth to the flavor. If you have kids and want them to eat more veggies...they'll never know they are in here. You can't even taste the carrots or zucchini. They melt right into the muffin.

The only problem was, they didn't rise at all. In fact, they sunk a bit in the middle. I tried again when I returned back to Saint Paul, making a couple changes. I substituted for the brown rice flour to make them grain free and added a reactant for the soda to help them rise. These ones were still wonderfully delicious, but a little more fluffy than the first ones.

They are both delicious, grain free, sugar free and can be made egg free. If you want a denser muffin, leave the apple cider vinegar out. If you want them fluffier, leave it in. Its a recipe that adapts well to change! I personally prefer them more dense and sunken...without the vinegar.

Spiced Carrot and Zucchini Muffins

1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour (can sub brown rice flour but they won't be grain-free)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup good maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar (leave this out if you want a denser muffin - I choose to leave it out) **see NOTE at the end
1 egg ( or 1 chia egg...1 TBSP ground chia mixed with 3 TBSP warm water, let sit for 5 min to gel)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Line muffin tin with liners.
Combine together almond flour, sorghum flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, syrup, vinegar (if using) and egg. Stir in carrots and zucchini. Add dry ingredients to the wet. Fold together to combine but don't over mix. Fold in cranberries or raisins.
Fill tines 3/4 way full. (If leaving out vinegar, you can fill them almost all the way.) Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.

I frosted a couple of mine with a mixture of 2 TBSP cream cheese and 1 tsp honey.

They keep well for a couple days in an air tight container on the counter. Then freeze the rest. (We didn't have any left to freeze!)

The muffins with the vinegar were great the first day, but they were fairly dry the next day. If you are going to eat them all the morning you make them, they work well with the vinegar to keep them fluffy. If you are making them as a week-long breakfast item, I suggest leaving the vinegar out. They stay moist much longer that way.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Comfort Food

Everyone has their favorite comfort food; that one thing you want to eat when you're sad, depressed, having a bad day, or often when its just ugly and cold outside. For some, its a warm bowl of soup and a nice, doughy roll. For others, its a steaming serving of mashed potatoes.

For a long time, I never really had one dish that just seemed to make everything better...until I started eating gluten free. I realized how much I loved tomato sauce and sausage. It doesn't matter how hot it is outside, or inside, when I crave comfort food, I want spaghetti sauce and sausage. The problem was, this is a dish usually eaten over pasta.

In the beginning, I didn't like any of the gluten-free pastas. I found one made from quinoa that I enjoy the most, but I still don't love anything out there on the market. Then, when we moved further towards a grain free and starch free diet, I just started eating the sauce plain. Plain just didn't seem to be quite as comforting as I remembered.

Enter cannellini beans. I first fell in love with these beans making soup. I love the warm, creamy texture they give and since I'm not a huge meat-eater, the protein the provide was a wonderful addition to my then lack-luster diet. I had these beans in a greek-style tomato dish once and I began to wonder if they would be a decent supplement for pasta. Man, was I surprised. The creaminess of the beans mixed with the spiciness of the sausage was absolutely fantastic. Comfort food or not, this dish has become a menu staple at our house.

PS - it stores very well in the frig and reheats wonderfully in the microwave or on the stove top. I often take leftovers to work for lunch.

Sausage and White Beans

4 Italian sausages, hot or mild
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup chicken broth (I make my own. If using store bought, use low-sodium.)
2 cups (1 14-oz can) diced tomatoes
4 cups (2 cans) cannellini beans, cooked, drained and rinsed
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
2 handfuls fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

In a tall sided pan or a larger pot, brown and cook sausages. Remove and allow to cool enough to slice.

Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil to the same pan and caramelize onions for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute. Use either chicken broth or 1/4 cup red wine to deglaze the pan. When deglazed, add remaining chicken stock to pan. Add in tomatoes, beans, basil, parsley and sliced sausage (remember to add the juice from the sausage on the plate). Let this simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste...season with salt and pepper.

Right before you're ready to serve, stir in spinach just so it wilts. Serve.

You can serve this over rice, pasta or quinoa if you want. We eat it plain.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Socca Pizza

Do you ever fall into a food rut? You find yourself making the same thing for dinner every week? I found myself in that rut a couple months ago. We were in desperate need of something new for dinner. Unfortunately, I was really struggling in coming up with new ideas.

In a recent research endeavor, I came across a recipe for socca. - a french flat bread/cracker made from chick pea flour. I originally wanted to use this to create something grain and gluten free to eat with hummus. However, it was closing in on dinner time and I still didn't have anything planned. I wondered what would happen if I made these crackers thicker, to be more of a pita type sandwich wrap. The first try was a giant fail. It crackled and crumbled all over the place.

I was so disappointed! I had this great idea and picture in my head and it totally bombed. But, sometimes out of our greatest frustrations come our greatest triumphs. A sandwich wrap fail became an amazing crust for a pizza!! Its delicious, believe me! Ok, even if you don't, you really should try this.


1/2 cup
chick pea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
optional: seasonings of your choice (basil, oregano, garlic)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
Pour oil in a heavy bottom, oven proof skillet. Heat pan and oil in the oven until HOT.
(My skillet is about 10 inches in diameter. If you are using a larger skillet, you will want to up the amounts of flour and water to accommodate the change. Just keep the measurements equal.)

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients together and let them sit for about 10 minutes, while the pan heats.

When the pan is hot, pour the batter into the pan and return in to the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes. You'll know its ready to flip when the batter has completely set and is no longer runny in the middle. Flip the socca and return it to the oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. Top the pizza as desired and place under the broiler to melt the cheese and heat toppings.

*Note: We found we didn't like this with traditional pizza toppings. The chick pea flour gave it just a bit of an odd taste.

Topping Suggestions:
Pesto, provolone cheese, chicken sausage and spinach
Thai peanut sauce, chicken, thinly sliced cabbage, thinly sliced carrots, thinly sliced red bell pepper, cilantro and jack cheese
BBQ sauce, chicken, sliced red onion, corn and jack cheese

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Beginning

I like to cook. Ok, I love to cook. And in all honesty, I love food! A few years ago, this love and I almost parted ways when I realized the way I thought, ate and cooked had to change....dramatically.

For years, I felt sick. I had constant headaches, felt depressed and was just generally unhappy. I had no idea what was wrong. I tried to eat healthier, exercise more and change up my lifestyle hoping that would help. Unfortunately, nothing changed. At the time, I had no idea what gluten was or that anyone could be allergic or intolerant to it. I certainly never thought about going to see a doctor. I'm not a huge fan of the medical industry and assumed they wouldn't be able to tell me what was wrong. I decided to turn to the internet and see what I could find. After mass amounts of research, I decided to try a gluten-free diet. WOW! What an amazing difference. I felt incredibly better within a week. Eventually, my headaches disappeared. I no longer felt nauseated, sick or depressed. But then I started thinking, "What in the world will I eat?" For weeks, I was stumped, surviving on eggs and fruit. After more research, I eventually found online blogs, resources and cookbooks that got me started along my gluten-free journey.

My love of food and cooking survived my diet and lifestyle overhaul. Now I love spending time developing and playing with new recipes in my kitchen. I continue to eat gluten-free and feel great.

After much poking and prodding from the hubby (years, in fact), I've decided to start this blog to share my kitchen adventures...along with some of our adventures in a brand new city! I hope it becomes something you enjoy.