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!

September 20, 2010

Rosemary & Sea Salt Gluten Free French Baquette

Filed under: Breads,Recipes — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 9:01 am

While I do take pride in making some pretty darn good glutenless baked goods (if I do say so myself), it’s truly rare that a gluten free bread is SO tasty that even I can’t walk away from it before scarfing down multiple slices!   The original recipe for this French-Italian loaf comes from my favorite (so far!) Gluten Free Cookbook: Annalise Robert’s Gluten Free Baking Classics.  I’ve amped it up by adding Rosemary and Sea Salt into the mix, and the result is nothing short of addictive!

   

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Rosemary.  It’s a key ingredient in my Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Cream Pasta.

I also keep a pretty decent “stash” of Rosemary on hand.

This bread starts with one of Annalise Robert’s (aka The Food Philosopher) Bread Mixes from her cookbook.

It’s a pretty simple mix, based on Millet and Sorghum flours and a few starches.  I make the mix ahead and store it in a labeled ziploc freezer bag, with the proportions written right on the bag so that I don’t have to look up the recipe each time I need to replenish my supply. 

I measure the flours right into the bag and whisk together.  If you have a sensitivity to corn, you can just increase one or both of the other starches to compensate, with like results.

Incidentally, this is the same flour mix used for my go-to Gluten Free Pizza recipe.

The Millet Flour gives the bread a slightly nutty taste. It’s not as fluffy a bread as a gluten-containing version may be, but it’s got great texture nonetheless and even more importantly, it has a fabulously crunchy crust!  You won’t be able to keep your hands off it!

Let’s get cooking. 

The recipe below is doubled, so you’ll get two nice long loaves with these proportions.

You’ll need:

 4 Cups Bread Flour Mix A (See photo above)

2 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum

1 3/4 tsp Salt

8 tsp Sugar

2 pkgs Instant Dry Yeast (NOT quick rise)

4 tsp Olive Oil

2 Cups Water, heated to 110 degrees

2 heaping Tbsp Dried Rosemary

Non-stick Cooking Spray (be sure it’s gluten-free!)

What to do:

Spray French Bread Pan with non-stick cooking spray.  The pan is not optional!  Gluten-free doughs spread quite a bit while rising and you really need the structure the pan provides.  I found my French Bread Pan really inexpensively on Amazon.  I also got my Italian Bread Pan at the same place.  You can pick up Annalise Robert’s cookbook there as well and if you spend $25, they often have free shipping. 

You’re supposed to also lightly dust the pan with rice flour.  I forgot this step and panicked the whole time this was cooking, but it slid effortlessly off of the pan anyway.  Whew!  Don’t be a rebel like me, though – follow the instructions! :-)

Place all dry ingredients (except Rosemary) into a large mixing bowl.

Combine well using whisk or beater attachment of mixer.

Add Water (110 degrees) and Oil.

Mix until just combined, then scrape down bowl with spatula.

Mix on high speed for 3 minutes.

Add Rosemary by crumbling into bowl between fingers.

Mix on high for one more minute,then spoon into pan into two long loaf shapes.

Wet a spatula with warm water.

Use spatula to smooth the surface of the dough in the pan.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Just perfectly imperfect!

Let rise for 30-40 minutes until about doubled in size.  I use an overturned Rubbermaid container as a “Proofer”.

Pretty clever, huh?

Preheat oven to 400 degrees while bread is rising.

Five minutes before placing dough into oven, place a pan filled about 1″ with water onto bottom rack of oven.

And don’t you dare even start with how dirty my oven is!!  I’ve been much too busy working and cooking and scrapbooking and blogging – emphasis on working –  to do anything about it!!! 

Sprinkle surface of dough with lightly ground sea salt and then coat lightly with non-stick spray.

Bake on middle rack in oven for 40 minutes, then remove bread from pans and place loaves directly on middle rack for another 5 – 10 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust.

Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

This bread is awesome spread with Walnut & Basil Pesto sitting beside Roasted Garlic Cream Pasta, with a side of Marinated Tomatoes and Basil.   Mmmm,  Mmmm Good!!!  This is a definite “must try” recipe, so please make this and tell me if you love it as much as I do!

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.

September 4, 2010

And The Winner Is…

Filed under: Contests & Giveaways — admin @ 9:06 am

First, let me say a big THANK YOU to all of you whom entered The Giveaway!!!  Whether you win or not, I hope those of you who have never been to Trader Joe’s get in to shop there soon.  You won’t be disappointed!

I heard feedback from quite a few folks whom don’t have a Trader Joe’s anywhere near them – and my sympathies go out to those poor folks!  TJ’s really needs to have an online-shopping option.  Are you listening Joe??  Anyway, because of this there are a limited number of entries, so I was able to handle the drawing the old-fashioned way.

I put the names…

into a hat.

I did bring in some help to handle the drawing.  He closed his eyes and picked a winner.

(drum roll please)

Everybody please join me in a round of applause for BRENDA!

I swear there was no fix, but I have to say that my boy was quite pleased with himself for picking his own Grandma!!!

Brenda – Congratulations and I’ll bring your prize when I see you on Labor Day.   

Nikki, Maureen, Tracy, Andrea, Kelly, Joanne – Thanks again for stopping by and entering!  I hope to see you back here again soon! :-)

September 2, 2010

Baba Ghanoush

Filed under: Appetizers & Dips,Recipes,Vegan,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 6:49 am

Or Baba Ganoush’.  Or Baba Ghannouj.  Or Baba Ghannoug.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Anyway it’s spelled, this is my favorite amongst favorites of the Greek restaurant dishes.  Sure, Hummous rocks my world.  I’m very fond of Tabbouleh.  And of course, I love me some Greek Salad.  

But Baba Ghanoush holds a very special place in my heart.  It’s creamy.  It’s smokey.  It’s so satisfying and nutritious. 

And until now, I was never able to replicate the restaurant flavor at home.  I tried a few times, but each attempt was followed by a soupy, not-at-all-smoky-tasting bowl of mush which ended up in the trash.    Maybe my inability to recreate this dish well is why I held it at such high esteem among the other Mediterranean recipes.   Absense makes the heart grow fonder, they say.  (Who exactly are “they”, by the way?  Does anybody really know?)

I saw this recipe over at Tasty KitchenThe Parsley Thief had posted it, and even though I had tried to make Baba Ghanoush time and time again, the recipe caught my eye and I was inspired to give it one last chance.  I’m so glad I did, because this is the Baba Ghanoush of my dreams!

I’ve roughly doubled the recipe here, just ’cause I just can’t get enough of this stuff.

What you need:

2 Medium Eggplant (Mine were slightly overgrown fruits from my own garden)

2 Cloves Garlic, peeled

2 tsp Course Sea Salt

1/3 Cup Tahini (Sesame Paste)

4 Tbsp Lemon Juice (or the Juice of 1 Lemon)

Olive Oil

Chopped Fresh Parsley

What to do:

Prick eggplant (both the normal and mutant-looking one) with a fork in a few places and place on grill over medium heat. 

Cook, turning as needed, until nearly completely blackened all over.

Turn off grill, close cover and let cool for a couple hours.

Remove eggplants to dish, cover and chill in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Cut into eggplant and scrape flesh from blackened skin.  Or vice-versa. 

Either way, it’s going to be a slimy job, but somebody has to do it.

It won’t look pretty either.

Place the “guts” in a colandar.

It’ll be worth it, I swear.

Discard the burned skins, unless you can think of something crafty to do with them.

If you can think of something crafty to do with these, well then….move over, Martha!

Let the pulp sit in the strainer for half an hour or so to drain off excess liquid.

Place Garlic, Salt, Tahini and Lemon Juice into the bowl of your Food Processor.

Add Eggplant pulp.

And pulse until smooth and creamy.

Remove to serving dish, and drizzle with olive oil and chopped fresh Parsley.

Serve with grilled pita wedges or fresh raw veggies.

It’s not even 7 a.m. yet and I’m thinking of tossing my granola and eating this for breakfast instead!  It’s so yummy!!

 
 

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