Monday, April 14, 2014

What's For Breakfast: Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pancakes

Growing up, pancakes were traditionally the Saturday morning breakfast-of-choice as my Dad wielded his spatula over a sizzling griddle. So, it goes without saying that pancakes are often found on the weekend breakfast menu at our house. This week, I decided to try out my gluten-free all-purpose flour mix in a buttermilk pancake recipe, and it did not disappoint. Topped with a pat of butter and a quite-generous drizzle of pure maple syrup, these buttermilk pancakes are certain to satisfy.

Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pancakes
makes 12-14 pancakes

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups low-fat cultured buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter for the skillet/griddle

1. Preheat an electric skillet or griddle to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and sea salt.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk, and (cooled) melted butter.
5. Pour the liquid ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir vigorously to combine.
6. Melt about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter on the preheated skillet. Use a 1/4-cup measure to pour the batter onto the skillet. (You should be able to fit about four pancakes per batch.) Flip the pancakes when bubbles form on top.
7. Cook for an additional minute or two, or until the other side is lightly browned. Remove the pancakes from the skillet and place on a plate.
8. Put the plate in a oven set at around 200 degrees (or in a warming drawer) to keep the pancakes warm while you make the rest of the batch.
9. Serve with pure maple syrup add additional pats of butter

Friday, April 11, 2014

What's Baking: Gluten-Free Very Berry Muffins

I couldn't let the week end without posting another muffin recipe. Well, I could ... but I baked these muffins ... and ate a good portion of them ... so it would really be rude of me not to share, right? This week's gluten-free muffin is full of fresh berry flavor. I used a mix of blackberries and raspberries in my version, but blueberries would work just as well (unfortunately, they're not well-priced at the moment -- I can't wait for summer's bounty of berries).

Gluten-Free Very Berry Muffins
makes 8 muffins

3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup organic skim milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup halved fresh raspberries
3/4 cup quartered fresh blackberries
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon-sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with 8 paper liners and set aside.
2. In an electric mixer bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, sugar, ground flaxseeds, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, xanthan gum, and lemon zest.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, milk, and vanilla extract.
4. Using an electric mixer, slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then beat at medium speed until the batter thickens slightly. Carefully fold in the berries.
5. Use a scoop or large spoon to distribute the batter into the prepped muffin cups. The muffin cups should be almost completely full. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with cinnamon sugar.
6. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and let cool completely on a wire rack. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or wrapped and placed in a freezer bag to freeze for longer storage.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's For Lunch: Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and a Honey Lime Vinaigrette

A few weeks ago, D and I headed to Minneapolis to celebrate my birthday. We were starving when we arrived, so, after a quick Yelp search, we headed to The Local, an Irish pub located just around the corner from our hotel. D ordered a quinoa salad, while I went with the more traditional black bean burger ... oops. At least we paired our meals with a Guinness (him) and Big Ginger (2 Gingers Irish Whiskey and ginger ale) (me). Long story short, though my black bean burger was good, D won the ordering award with his delicious quinoa salad. Their version included crispy tofu, roasted sweet potatoes, bell peppers, capers, basil, spinach, and avocado tossed with a lime vinaigrette. My version includes several of the same flavors, with a few tweaks here and there.

This quinoa dish works well served hot, warm, or cold. It also works with or without the dressing, though the honey lime vinaigrette definitely adds a bit of zing. If you have a fresh avocado on hand, I highly recommend adding in some cubed avocado to each serving. Oh man, it's sooo good! Now I kind of wish it was lunchtime so I could eat this right now!

Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables
makes 6-8 servings

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 red bell pepper, cubed
1/2 green bell pepper, cubed
1 small red onion, cubed
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed if necessary
2 cups filtered water

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add together the chopped sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic cloves, cumin, pepper, salt, and olive oil. Toss to combine, evenly coating the vegetables in the oil and spice mixture.
3. Place the vegetables in a single layer on the prepped baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip the vegetables over, and roast for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.
4. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the quinoa. Add the quinoa and water to a medium sauce pot. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed and the grains are transparent.
5. Add the roasted vegetables and quinoa to a serving bowl. Add dressing (see recipe below) to taste, then toss to combine.

Honey Lime Vinaigrette
makes about 1/2 cup

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoon honey
pinch fine sea salt
pinch cayenne pepper
large pinch chili powder

1. Add all the ingredients to a small mason jar with a lid. Cover, and shake vigorously to combine the ingredients. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's For Dinner: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Now that we know how to make baked tortilla strips, we should probably put our new skills to use by making a batch of chicken tortilla soup, right? Chicken soups are my go-to recipes whenever I have leftover baked chicken in the fridge. Using already-baked chicken helps to cut down on the total cooking time for this soup, too.

You can control the spiciness of this chicken tortilla soup by adding in more or less chili powder; if you crave even heat, add in a pinch or two of ground cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Once the soup is made, the fun really begins as you can go as wild and crazy as you want with garnishes. I opted to stay simple with my bowl of soup by just adding in some cubed avocado. Because, really, does it get any better than fresh avocado? Not in my world.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
makes 6-8 servings

2-3 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion (1/2 large onion)
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10-ounce can) tomatoes and green chilies (I used Rotel)
32 ounces (4 cups) low-sodium organic chicken stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup diced cooked boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
baked tortilla strips

Options for garnishes:
Plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
diced avocado (my fave!)
shredded cheese
fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Add the olive oil to the bottom of a Dutch oven or large stock pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and peppers and saute until softened and the lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.
2. Stir in the garlic and spices, and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add in the tomatoes and green chilies, chicken stock, and tomato paste and stir to combine.
3. Stir in the diced chicken and black beans and bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
4. Five minutes before serving, stir in the frozen corn kernels.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls, add a few tortilla strips to each serving, and then garnish to your heart's desire.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What's Baking: Apple Cinnamon Granola

Another day, another granola recipe. I would say that I have officially switched from hot oatmeal to my standard warmer weather breakfast of yogurt + granola, but IT IS CURRENTLY SNOWING OUTSIDE. There's nothing more enjoyable than a spring "winter storm." (Yeah, that's most definitely sarcasm.) I think we're predicted to get 5-7 inches but I haven't checked outside to see how much has accumulated thus far. To be honest, I kind of don't want to know. Every time I get excited about bare pavement (and being able to run outside again without fear of slipping on snow or ice) we seem to get another pile of said ice and snow. One of these days spring will actually arrive, right? (No, please, reassure me that springtime will actually arrive!)

Although I'm still in love with my banana nut granola, I wanted to change things up, so I went with apple cinnamon flavors this time around. The benefit of using applesauce is that it helps to make clumpy granola without having to add much additional fat. Given that I like to drown my yogurt in granola, a lower-fat granola is probably a good thing in my world. In addition, I added in an egg white to both help with the clump factor (because, let's face it, clumps are the best part of granola!) and add in some additional protein content.

Apple Cinnamon Granola
makes about 5 cups

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
3/4 cup applesauce (I used homemade applesauce, which I pureed to a smooth texture)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white (or 3 tablespoons of packaged egg whites)

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the oats, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.
3. In a small sauce pot, stir together the applesauce, honey, brown sugar, walnut oil, and vanilla extract. Heat over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool.
4. Once cooled, stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until evenly moistened. Stir in the egg white.
4. Spread the granola onto the prepped baking sheet into an even layer. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden brown.
5. Let the granola cool in the pan completely before spooning into an airtight container to store.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What I'm Snacking On: Easy Baked Tortilla Chips

Whenever I buy corn tortillas at the store, it seems my options are limited to either the ginormous bag or the extra-grande ginormous bag of tortillas. And, with just two in our household, even though we eat a Mexican-inspired meal quite often, we never seem to finish off that package of tortillas before they start to go stale. So, in lieu of wasting a pile of tortillas, I made a batch of baked tortilla strips and chips. The strips are a perfect adornment to salads, and of course, chips are the perfect vehicle for shoveling -- er, I mean, daintily scooping -- salsa or guacamole into your mouth.

I fully recognize that this is totally one of those "semi-homemade" recipes -- and, of course, if you have the time and ingredients, you could always start with made-from-scratch corn tortillas. But when the clock is ticking, and those packaged corn tortillas are starting to go a little crispy, making these strips or chips is the way to go.

Baked Tortilla Strips and Chips
makes about 3 chips or 8 strips per tortilla

soft corn tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt [optional]

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack on top of the foil.
2. For tortilla strips, stack the tortillas together, then use a sharp knife to cut the tortillas into half, then into 1/2-inch strips.
3. For tortilla chips, use a small circle cookie cutter to cut the tortillas into rounds. You should be able to get about 3 circles per tortilla. (Two will be perfectly-shaped, the third will be slightly wonky.)
4. Place the strips or rounds on the wire rack. Brush both sides of each strip or round with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt if using.
5. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes, flipping the tortilla strips or chips halfway through the baking time. Keep your eye on the tortillas at the end of the baking period, as they can go from golden to super-brown in a matter of seconds.
6. Remove from the oven and let cool. Store any extras in an airtight container at room temperature.

Monday, March 31, 2014

What's For Dinner: Cottage Pie

It must have been a recent trip to an Irish pub in Minneapolis that inspired me to make a cottage pie for dinner this week -- as it's not something that's particularly typical of my usual repertoire. Regardless, this cottage pie made for a hearty and deliciously savory dinner meal. I initially intended to make a traditional shepherd's pie, but, alas, couldn't get my hands on any ground lamb. So, with grass-fed beef easily accessible (and handily, already in my refrigerator), I made a cottage pie instead. Which for all intents and purposes, is basically the same thing, at least according to my perfunctory Google search. :) The only thing that would make this cottage pie better would be to pair it with a Guinness. But, alas, given my recent foray into the world of gluten-free eating, a glass of red wine will (and did!) have to do for me.

Cottage Pie
makes 6-8 servings

For the mashed potatoes:
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup organic half-and-half
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the meat filling:
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 small or medium white onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons tapioca flour (use all-purpose flour if you aren't gluten-sensitive)
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen shelled peas

1. Place the peeled and chopped potatoes into a large pot filled with cold water. Set the pot over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Once the water begins to boil, remove the cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Stir in the half-and-half and butter and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
3. Add the ground beef to a medium-size skillet and cook over medium-high until browned through, about 3-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked beef from the skillet and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain off the excess fat. Carefully pour the excess grease out of the skillet then return the skillet to the heat. Add in the chopped onion and carrots, and saute until slightly softened and lightly golden, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.
4. Add the ground beef back into the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste, vegetable broth, Worcestershire sauce, and herbes de Provence. Then stir in the tapioca flour and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly.
5. Add in the corn and peas and stir to combine.
6. Spoon the meat mixture into an 9"x9" glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting by adding them around the edges to seal the meat mixture in. Use a fork to create a cross-hatch pattern in the potatoes if desired. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly browned. Let cool at least 5 minutes on a wire rack before serving. (It will be warm!)

(adapted from this Alton Brown recipe)


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