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

September 22, 2010

Spicy Szechwan Peanut Sauce with Grilled Chicken, Brocolli and Peppers over Pasta

Filed under: Appetizers & Dips,Pasta,Recipes — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 7:23 am

I developed this recipe a few years back and since then, this has been a favorite in our household and a regular part of our dinner rotation.  I am constantly passing the recipe along to friends who dine at our house and the dish finds itself falling into their regular repetoire as well.  Not only is this an easy and tasty sauce to be served over pasta or rice with stir fried vegetables and chicken, but it also makes a fabulous dipping sauce for raw veggies!  

 

You’ll need:

For Sauce/Marinade:

2/3 Cup Peanut Butter (Smooth or Crunchy)

8 Tbsp Soy Sauce (Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are Gluten Free)

4 Tbsp Rice Vinegar

1-2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (depending on heat desired)

1-2 tsp Jarred Crushed Garlic (You can use fresh but be sure it is minced very fine or put through a garlic press)

Cold Water (up to 1/2 cup as needed)

For the Pasta Dish:

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

16 oz. prepared Pasta – Gluten Free or Otherwise (I like Rotini)

1 cup Brocolli Florets

1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into chunks

Snipped Chives (or sliced Green Onions)

What to do:

First, make the marinade/sauce.

Put all sauce ingredients, except water, into a bowl.

Mix with a wire whisk to incorporate.  It’s gonna seem hard to mix at first, but just keep wiggling that whisk and the Peanut Butter will start to break up.

You’ll find that as you continue whisk, the sauce will become thicker. 

Once it is thick and smooth, add water a bit at a time, and continue whisking.  You want it to reach the consistency of very heavy cream.

You can serve this immediately or refrigerate for later use.  The sauce will thicken up when cold, but is easy to thin again by bringing to room temperature or, if you are in a hurry, adding a bit more water.  The cayenne will become stronger as it sits, so be careful not to add too much if you are taste testing.  You can always mix more in before serving if you feel it needs it.

Now, grill your chicken.  You can separate out some of the sauce and spread the marinade over the breasts while cooking, or if you have time you can let the breasts sit with marinade on them in the refrigrator for a few hours.  It’s up to you!    Just don’t contaminate the sauce you will be using later with raw chicken!  That’s yucky and just plain dangerous!

Set the chicken aside, and it’s time to cook your veggies.

Heat about 1 Tbsp of Oil in a Wok or Saute pan. 

Stir Fry Peppers and Brocolli (this dish is also great with sliced carrots) until cooked, but still somewhat crunchy.

Okay, it’s time to eat!

Place a portion of cooked Pasta on each serving plate, and top with vegetables and a sliced grilled chicken breast.  Drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle with snipped chives. 

Toss your plate contents together a bit, then take a bite and get prepared to be hooked! :-)

I frequently make this vegetarian-style, without the chicken.  My kids also love this sauce over plain cooked spaghetti and it’s an easy thing to keep on hand so they can throw a plate together on their own.  My husband has been know to go through a pound of cut carrots in a couple days dipping into this sauce!   Even folks who say they don’t like Peanut Butter ask for this sauce when they come over.  Try it, and please tell me what YOU think!

August 2, 2010

Love At First Bite: Walnut & Basil Pesto

Filed under: Appetizers & Dips,Pasta,Recipes,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 8:56 pm

I thought I wouldn’t like it. 

I had a somewhat vague recollection of trying Pesto years ago and from what I recalled, it was not a good experience.  But since I absolutely love Basil and Garlic, I figured it must have been the Pine Nuts that were the problem.  

As I’m sure you know, Pine Nuts are expensive!  I wasn’t willing to shell out the dough to give it another whirl when I thought there was a pretty darn good chance I would just be repeating the bad experience I’d remembered!  So, when I saw this recipe suggesting that Walnuts be used as a substitute for Pine Nuts, I figured I’d finally give it another go. 

This recipe comes from my friend Twinks over at Tasty Kitchen.  She was my first friend over at TK, and this is the first recipe I ever tried from that site. 

I am so glad I did.

You’ll need:

2 Cups Basil Leaves, washed and stems removed

3 Garlic Cloves, peeled

1/4 tsp Salt

1/2 Cup shredded or grated Parmesan Cheese

1/4 Cup Walnuts

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

What to do:

Place walnuts, garlic cloves and salt in bowl of food processor.

Pulse until finely chopped.  Then, add olive oil.

Add cheese and pulse slightly.

Now add basil and pulse a few times again.  Scrape down sides of bowl.

Replace cover and finish pulsing until well combined and finely chopped. 

Remove to serving bowl and enjoy!

You can spread this on bread like we did tonight, or toss with hot pasta.  Either way, I doubt you’ll have any leftovers.  We sure didn’t!

July 26, 2010

Rosemary & Roasted Garlic Cream Pasta with Mushrooms and Sundried Tomatoes

Filed under: Pasta,Recipes,Sides — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 12:27 pm

I’m drooling just typing that title.  This stuff is seriously good.  I developed the recipe after dining out one night and eating the most delicious creamy pasta dish I had ever encountered.  It was served beside bread with rosemary baked right in and I came home determined to replicate the taste combo.  I think I may have done better than the original, if I do say so myself!  This recipe would make The Pioneer Woman proud too, since I use a ton of heavy cream and a full stick of butter in the sauce!

You’ll need:

12-13 Garlic Cloves (about 2 heads)

1 quart Heavy Cream

1 stick Butter

12 – 24 ounces Mushrooms

1 Cup Sun Dried tomatoes – sliced or chopped

3/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

Dried Rosemary

Salt & Pepper

Your choice of Pasta – Gluten Free (or Regular), prepared according to directions

Optional: 1 Tbsp Cornstarch, 1/3 Cup Milk (see Note below in directions),

What to do:

First, place garlic cloves (unpeeled) on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until soft and golden.

While Garlic roasts, slice mushrooms.

When Garlic is ready, remove from oven.  Let them cool at bit, and then peel the cloves.

Fold over the parchment and use your hands to mash the cloves all together.  Scrape into a mound and finish up chopping them a bit with a knife, making sure there are no large pieces.

Add mashed roasted Garlic to a large sauce pan with the Cream.

Cook while stirring over medium heat, until liquid is reduced to about 2/3 and the sauce is thickened*. 

*Note: Here’s my little cheat on this part:  I take about 1 Tbsp of Cornstarch mixed with about 1/3 cup Milk and add it to the pan to thicken up the sauce more quickly.  This also serves to stretch the recipe a bit since you will have more sauce by not allowing it to cook off so much liquid.

Add salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp each), then set aside.

Grab another large saucepan (or pour the roasted garlic sauce into a large bowl or glass measuring cup and use the same pan – you don’t even have to wash it). 

Melt 1 stick butter over medium heat. 

 

Add Sundried Tomatoes to pan.

Then add sliced Mushrooms.

Saute for just about a minute, then return Garlic Cream Sauce to pan and stir.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Oh, it gets even better.

Add Parmesan Cheese.

Now, add a couple handfuls of dried Rosemary, which you’ll want to crumble between your hands as you add to the pan to release all the goodness in each leaf. 

I love Rosemary. 

This is my “stash”. :-)

Add salt and pepper as needed, to taste.

Mmmmmmmm…..

You can toss the sauce right in with your pasta, or just place atop individual servings. 

This recipe makes a LOT of sauce, so I like to keep the pasta and sauce separate as it works better for leftovers that way.  

If you are feeding a crowd, this quantity of sauce would  probably cover about two 16 oz. boxes of pasta.

If you like, you can slice up a grilled Chicken Breast and toss with the pasta and sauce.  Be sure to top with additional Parmesan Cheese, too!

Maybe some Bruschetta and crusty bread on the side?

We ate this last night, and we are having leftovers again tonight.  I can hardly stand the wait!

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