What Life Dishes Out A Gluten Free and (almost) Vegetarian Cooking Blog

November 13, 2010

Creamy Coleslaw: A Thanksgiving Staple

 

I’ve never been one to load up my plate with all the various side-dishes at Thanksgiving.  If I’m going to stuff myself silly (which is certainly a given on Turkey Day) then it’s going to be with only my favorites; Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Corn, Green Beans, and Cranberry Sauce.  But there is one more player who always makes it onto my plate and without whom I feel Thanksgiving Dinner would not be complete.  I may ignore the Veggie Casserole.  I may shun the Candied Yams.  I will likely say “No, thanks!” to the Salads.  But I always, always, always have room for a bit of Coleslaw on my plate. 

(Oh, drool!  Now I can’t wait for Thanksgiving!  Less than 2 weeks to go!!!)

Last year was the first year that I actually used my Mother’s China for Thanksgiving dinner.  My husband’s Grandmother had given me her Silverware a few weeks before and I knew she would enjoy my using it for the Holiday.  My own Mother’s Silverware had been poorly stored, and years of neglect had left it tarnished beyond repair.  But Grandma had kept hers pristine in a felt-lined silver case and it barely even needed polishing.  I’ve since learned that the best way to keep Silver nice is to use it often and although we won’t be dining with it daily (as Grandma did in her early married years), from now on it will be on the table for any occasion that warrants it!  Not surprisingly, the food actually tasted better served on real China instead of Chinet!  :-)

To make this Coleslaw, you’ll need:

1 small-medium head Cabbage

2 whole Carrots

2 Tbsp Onion, finely minced (optional)

1/2 cup Sour Cream

1/2 cup Mayonnaise

2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar (or White Distilled Vinegar)

2 Tbsp Sugar

1 tsp Black Pepper

1 tsp Salt

What to do:

Wash cabbage, cut in half root to tip, and cut each half in half again.

Cut the core, on a diagonal, from each quarter.

Cut each quarter in half again, then slice very thinly down the length of each piece.

This is my husband chopping.  Just look at him go!

Repeat with remaining eighths until all the cabbage is shredded.

Place cabbage in a large bowl, and set aside.

Wash, peel, and shred carrots.  I use a microplane grater for this job.

Now, here’s a recent trick we use:  We like a decent amount of carrot in our Slaw, but if you use too much, often the slaw gets an orange-y tint to it.  Here’s how to solve that problem:

(I really have to credit by husband with this brainy rinsing idea.)

After you rinse all the orange-ness down the drain, place strainer over a bowl and let the moisture drip out of the carrots.  Give them a squeeze or two with your hand to remove any remaining water, then place in the bowl with the cabbage.

Toss cabbage and carrots together, then set bowl aside.

In a smaller bowl, or large glass measuring cup, place 1/2 cup Sour Cream and 1/2 cup Mayonnaise (NOT Salad Dressing).

Add 2 Tbsp Vinegar (I used Rice Vinegar),

2 Tbsp Sugar,

1 tsp Pepper

and 1 tsp Salt.

Whisk together until mixture is smooth.

At this point, you can taste and add more salt, pepper, sugar or vinegar as needed. 

The goal is to not have the dressing taste too sweet or too tart. 

If it tastes too vinegar-y, add sugar and vice-versa. 

Pour the dressing onto the cabbage mixture, and be sure to get every last drop!

If you are so inclined, add the minced onion now to the cabbage/dressing mixture.   Some folks don’t go for onion, and it’s okay to leave it out if that’s how you roll.

Mix everything together, until all the cabbage is well coated. 

Cover bowl, and refrigerate at least several hours.  You’ll want to give this another taste just before serving and then season with salt and pepper as needed.

Since Thanksgiving is still a couple weeks away, this batch won’t be making it onto our Holiday table.  But I do have big plans for this Slaw….so stay tuned! :-)

September 12, 2010

Gluten Free Quinoa Tabbouleh

My job has been a little too busy for my tastes lately.  Since I work from home, I usually have a fair amount of free time on my hands for cooking, baking, scrapbooking and of course, blogging!   Just think of all the free hours that add up since I save on a long commute to and from the office.  Not to mention not having to shower, get dressed, or apply makeup!  Okay, you probably think I’m joking, but on some days you just might find me chained to my desk (not to worry – only figuratively) and still in my jammies still at 2 o’ clock in the afternoon! 

On these crazy busy days, it helps to have a quick lunch ready to go so I can just grab it and head right back up to my home office.  This dish is perfect served alongside Baba Ghanoush, with a grilled pita or a few raw veggies for dipping.

Traditionally, Tabbouleh is made with Bulgar.  On a Gluten Free diet, Bulgar – which is made from Wheat – is, of course, a big fat No-No!  Yet Quinoa makes a delightful stand-in for the grain and improves on the nutritional value as well.  Unlike wheat, Quinoa’s amino acids form a complete protein, so you can feel even better about this vegetarian dish!

Have you tried Quinoa yet?  This seed (it’s not a grain) is from the Chenopodium quinoa plant.  It originated in South America and was revered among the Incas, but scorned by the Spanish colonists.  What fools those colonists were, because Quinoa is highly nutritious, loaded with fiber, and quite tasty!  It’s also easy as pie to make – it cooks up just like rice!   One of my best friends, who is Gluten-Intolerant, keeps a bowl of cooked Quinoa in her refrigerator.  She tops it with Honey and Cinnamon for a quick breakfast before rushing out the door to work on frantic mornings.  She’s a clever girl!

Okay, enough small talk.  Let’s make lunch.

You’ll need:

1 Large Bunch Fresh Parsley

1 Handful Fresh Mint Leaves (I used Lemon Mint.  If you don’t have Mint at all, you can omit it.  The dish won’t be quite the same, but still will be good!)

1 small Tomato

1 slice Red Onion

Juice of 1 Lemon

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 cup Cooked Quinoa

Salt & Pepper

What to do:

Rinse, drain, and remove tough stems from Parsley.  Then, chop it and throw it in a bowl.

So that it won’t feel left out, chop up the mint as well.  Toss it in with the Parsley.

Ditto the onion…

and Tomato.

To the bowl, add Lemon Juice…

and Olive Oil.

Now, add the cooked Quinoa and a sprinkling of salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp each).

Stir it all together.  Can’t you just smell it?

Ta dah!

You can serve this up straightaway but for the best flavor, let it sit for a while first to let the ingredients mingle.  My kids like this salad packed into a pita pocket or rolled into Flatbread as a sandwich filling.  And how awesome would this be sprinkled atop Hummous on a sandwich?!?!

Spawn #2 gives this a big thumbs up!  I hope you like it, too! :-)

September 5, 2010

Pretty In Pink: Mixed Green Salad with Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing, Feta and Pecans

Filed under: Fruit,Salads & Dressings,Sides,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 12:59 pm

Every year, it seems our garden has a superstar.  You know, that one “stand out” performer that is most prolific. 

Last year, our cucumbers did really well.  I was able to make Refrigerator Pickles many, many times last summer.  This year, I was out of cucumbers before I could even get to a fourth batch.  I seriously thought about buying pickling cukes at the market just to get one last batch in, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it!

Some years, it’s been the tomatoes that have been most abundant, providing me with plenty of fruits for Bruschetta, Super Savory Summer Salsa, and Marinated Tomatoes with Basil.  There was also usually tomato harvest leftover to giveaway and go into our freezer.  This year though, our tomatoes got a late start and haven’t been nearly as abundant.  We are canning some of the tomatoes this year – since we’re out of freezer space – and only hope we are able to preserve enough of a supply to make it through the winter for inclusion in our Love Soup.

So, pickles and tomatoes are singing backup this summer.  This year, the star of the show is the Raspberry.

My Raspberry bushes produced a bit several weeks ago and I enjoyed them for a few days atop my Granola, and even froze a small bag or two.  Then they were gone.  But they are having a second wind and are back with a vengance so I am out in the garden every single day picking a pint of the sweet red berries.  Raspberries happen to be my favorite fruit, but I can only eat so many of them!   So, it’s time to get creative so I can include them in more meals than just my breakfast!

Today, I made this dressing, and drizzled it atop a perfect salad for lunch.  I’m thinking about having the same meal for dinner.  It’s that good.

For the dressing, you’ll need:

1/2 cup fresh Raspberries, rinsed and drained

2 Tbsp Honey

1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

1/3 cup Canola Oil

Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Cold Water, if needed

Poppy Seeds (Optional – I didn’t use this time but they would be a great addition)

What to do:

Place Honey, Dijon, Vinegar, and a couple grinder turns each of salt and pepper into a Blender or the bowl of a Food Processor. 

Now, add Canola Oil.

Pulse a few times, then add Raspberries.

Blend until smooth and creamy,

and pour into serving jar.

If you wish to add Poppy Seeds, do so after pouring the dressing into your jar and just shake the jar to combine.  Likewise, if the dressing is too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time, then shake until it reaches the desired consistency. 

Now, let’s build the beautiful salad that will wear this dressing! 

You’ll need:

Mixed Salad Greens (I used Romaine Lettuce tossed with Assorted Baby Greens)

Pecans or Walnuts (I wanted to use Walnuts, but found I was plum out so I used Pecans instead)

Fresh Rasberries, rinsed and drained

Red Onion, thinly sliced

Feta Cheese

What to do:

First, we need to toast the nuts. 

Place nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. 

Cook stirring and tossing occasionally, just until the nuts start to release their fragrance.  Now, remove from heat and cool. 

While the nuts are cooling, find a pretty plate. 

This one happens to be a hand-painted plate from my mother-in-law’s Aunt who passed away several years ago.  It seemed well-suited to this salad, so I took it off of it’s dusty shelf.  Don’t worry, I did wash the dust off!

Start with your greens, then add Onion, Nuts, Raspberries and Feta Cheese. 

Top with a couple grinds of fresh black pepper and drizzle with the dressing.

Dig in! 

Wouldn’t this be a pretty salad for a baby shower luncheon – especially if it’s a girl – or at a wedding shower?  It’s both delicate and flavorful, and topped with a sliced, grilled chicken breast it would make a good main dish.  You could even marinate the chicken in the dressing for added flavor.

I just love the combination of sweet/sour dressing, salty feta and crunchy nuts in this salad.  I’m sure I’ll be making this often, at least until my raspberry crop runs out.  After that, I suppose I can still use my frozen berries for the dressing, and just leave the fresh fruit off the salad as we go into the winter months. 

I can’t believe I’m even talking about the winter months.  Is it really September?  I refuse to believe it.

August 22, 2010

Mediterranean Restaurant Style Greek Salad & Dressing

Filed under: Recipes,Salads & Dressings,Vegetarian — admin @ 10:14 am

We used to visit a local chain of Lebanese Restaurants on the very rare occasions we dined out.  With a wide-range of vegetarian options on the menu, and really fresh ingredients, we were never dissapointed.  Besides, there was to-die-for-fresh-stone-oven-baked pita breads which they would bring to the table basket after basket so we could dip to our heart’s content in garlic spread, olive salsa, Hummus and Baba Ghanoush.   A visit there now would be absolute torture for the Gluten-Free member of our family, who would formerly eat his weight in pita breads on our visits!  So, the  only solution, short of trading him in for a gluten-tolerant child, was to learn to recreate all our favorites from the restaurant at home.  

Let’s start with the Greek Salad. 

We would always order two gargantuan-sized salads at the restaurant and split them with the kids.  Doused in a lemony-dressing, the taste is drastically unlike your typical coney-island-style greek salad, which usually consists of a couple of beets and sprinkling of feta atop some tasteless iceberg lettuce.

Can we build it?  Yes, we can! 

First, start with lettuce.  Shun the Iceberg.  This job calls for fresh, cold, crunchy Romaine.

Top with Tomatoes and slivered Red Onion.

Now, add good quality Feta Cheese, Beets, and Kalamata Olives.

Now, for the special ingredient. 

If you don’t want to share this secret with your friends when they ask for your recipe, that’s okay. 

Your salad will always have that certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”. 

You’ll make friends and influence people around the world.

Okay, not really. 

But your Greek Salad will be better than all your friend’s Greek Salads.

Chop up some fresh Parsley.  Just the leaves, not the stems.  Sprinkle it all over.

You have no idea as to the magnitude of what you’d just done.

For the final touch on the Salad, add a few Greek Pepperoncinis and chopped Cucumber.

Make the Dressing. 

You really should do this step ahead of making the salad so the flavors have at least a few minutes to blend together.  I’m a rebel though, who relishes in testing boundaries.

Place 1/3 Cup fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice in a jar.

Add 2 Tbsp Water, 2 cloves fresh minced garlic, 1 tsp Dried Oregano, 1/4 tsp Salt and 1/4 tsp Sugar.

Cover and shake well.  Now, add 6 Tbsp Olive Oil.

Cover, shake until well blended and creamy.

If you do make this ahead, be sure to give your jar a good shake before pouring the Dressing over your Salad

This is really an easy, satisfying Salad to make at home for dinner, especially served beside Greek Lemon Rice Soup.

Made in big bowl, this would also work well to feed a crowd at a potluck,  and I guarantee you’ll be asked for the recipe. 

Now, whether you decide to share the secret, that’s between you and your conscience. 

As for me, I’ll never tell!

August 14, 2010

Easy Ranch Dip and Dressing – Gluten Free

Filed under: Appetizers & Dips,Recipes,Salads & Dressings — admin @ 3:18 pm

I’ve always loved the taste of the Ranch Dressings I used to eat at restaurants.  No bottled dressings could ever come close.  I now realize it’s because the really good dressings were freshly made on site, and didn’t come from a bottle.  Now that I know the secret, I can make a great ranch dip and dressing at home, with no expensive envelope mixes, which I know will taste great and is Gluten Free, too!

You’ll need: 

1 Cup Sour Cream

½ tsp Dried Parsley

½ tsp Dried Dill

¼ tsp Garlic Powder

¼ tsp Onion Powder

1/8 tsp Salt

1/8 tsp Pepper

Buttermilk (If you are making a Ranch Dressing, rather than a Ranch Dip) 

Place all ingredients into a bowl.

Stir until well mixed and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend.

Serve with assorted raw vegetables.

This dip can also easily be made into a great Buttermilk Ranch Dressing by thinning the mixture with Buttermilk until it reaches the desired consistency.

July 15, 2010

It Tastes Like Summer! Marinated Tomatoes With Basil

Filed under: Recipes,Salads & Dressings,Sides,Vegan,Vegetarian — Tags: , , — admin @ 7:42 am

What goes better together than tomatoes and basil?  This super simple dish just says summertime, and is perfect to bring along to your next picnic/potluck, or to serve beside your next grilled dinner. 

You’ll need:

Tomatoes, Basil, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

First, cut tomatoes in half, then in wedges, then in half again.

Place in serving dish.

Roughly chop basil (if you make this ahead of time, wait to cut and add the basil until the last possible minute, since it will darken on the edges after being cut and exposed to air).

Add basil to tomatoes.

Now, add salt and pepper, Olive Oil (I used Garlic Flavored Oil), and Red Wine Vinegar.  You want just enough oil and vinegar to coat the tomatoes, but you don’t want them to swim in it.

Now, toss the whole mix together and serve at room temperature.

This is one of those easy summer no-cook recipes I look forward to every year!

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