Posts tagged ‘gluten-free’

May 3, 2012

Tacos with Black Bean, Corn and Avocado Salsa

Tacos! They make for a quick dinner and they’re perfect for lunch the next day. The kids thought I was a rockstar for serving crunchy tacos. Meanwhile, I was ecstatic because it was the world’s easiest meal. I haven’t made hard tacos before, because I try to stay away from corn taco shells or tortillas if they’re not organic. You know, that whole issue with all corn being genetically modified? Okay, I won’t hop on my soapbox. But the good news is that at Trader Joe’s I found taco shells made from organic stoneground yellow corn. The store also carries a taco seasoning mix free of monosodium glutamate and partially hydrogenated oils.

Shake the seasoning mix on a pound of ground turkey, beef, bison or chicken, along with some chopped onions and tomatoes, and simmer for about 10minutes and you’re done! The shells need to be crisped in the toaster oven for just  a few minutes. Scoop some ground meat into each shell and top with grated cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, etc. The kids loved creating their own.

As a side, I made a black bean, corn and avocado salsa. Since I only had 1 can of black beans, I added 1 can of pinto beans, too. Then, I added a bag of thawed frozen corn, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 4 chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup chopped red onion. I tossed the salsa in a dressing made from lime juice, olive oil and cumin. Lastly, I folded in some diced avocado (from 2 small avocados).

When I packed it for S’s lunch the next day, I separated all the ingredients so the tacos wouldn’t get soggy. S said it was fun to build her own taco at school.

Now, it’s time to go make myself a margarita!

** For a vegetarian option, you could fill the taco shells with the black bean, corn and avocado salsa.

April 26, 2012

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s Teacher Appreciation Day at my daughter’s school today, and ever since I found out her teacher is vegan I’ve wanted to whip up some tasty sweets for the fearless leader of her classroom. Now, I had the perfect excuse. In addition to the Grain- and Dairy-Free Breakfast Bars I wrote about in October, I decided to make these Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. A cookie that’s sweet and savory—is there a better combination? Plus, I like that you get a nice punch of protein from the peanut butter, making it almost good for you. With the grain-free recipe, you lose the flour and pack in even more protein from almond and peanut flour.

I first made these cookies last week when I found the recipe on Elana’s Pantry. If you’re on a gluten- or grain-free diet, you should bookmark the site. Elana has come up with some amazing gluten-free recipes for baked goods. Almost always, they’re tasty and straightforward. Last time, I made the cookies with butter (even though Elana’s recipe is vegan and called for vegan palm oil shortening)and added the chocolate chips. The kids loved, loved it! And so did I. This time, I substituted coconut oil to make it vegan for S’s teacher. They’re just as scrumptious, and the kids couldn’t tell the difference. With just 1/4 cup honey, 2 TB of butter or coconut oil and gluten-free, I’ve decided they’re healthy enough to serve as a mid-day and after-school snack. After the kids descended on these cookies, I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough left for S’s teacher. Try them, try them and you will see!

** If your child has a peanut allergy, consider making these with almond butter or sunflower seed butter.

 

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from ElanasPantry.com’s Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies)

Makes 12 – 16 cookies.

Ingredients

1 cup blanched almond flour (or 1/2 cup peanut flour and 1/2 cup almond flour)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup roasted peanut butter

1/4 cup honey or agave nectar

2 TB coconut oil or butter or palm oil shortening

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients: almond/peanut flour, salt and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, mix together wet ingredients (peanut butter, honey, coconut oil and vanilla extract) with a hand blender.

Blend dry ingredient into wet until well combined.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop dough 1 TB at a time onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 6 – 12 minutes until golden brown around the edges.

 

 

March 20, 2012

Turkey and Bean Chili

Brrrrr! It’s cold—okay, at least for San Diego it is. That means soups, stews and the crockpot. And plenty of leftovers. I was craving chili yesterday, but a slightly lighter version of one, so I decided on ground turkey. I had stray vegetables from my CSA, such as a couple zucchinis and some collard greens, so I decided to toss them in my chili.The recipe comes to me from my neighbor and friend, S. This recipe is very easy and quick, perfect for those evenings you really don’t feel like cooking. You can pretty much throw in whatever you have on hand, so it’s a great way to get rid of those lingering items in your fridge.

I sautéed ground turkey, chopped onions, peppers and garlic in a big pot with olive oil. After about 7 minutes, I added three cans of beans (two red kidney and one great northern), chopped tomatoes (I like the ones from Pomi that come in a box), 10 oz. strained tomatoes, 6 oz. tomato paste, a handful of chopped olives and all my chili spices— 2 TB chili powder, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp dried basil and a pinch of cayenne for a little kick. Season with salt and pepper. I  brought it back to a boil and then added two zucchinis, sliced, and thin ribbons of collard greens, just the leaves. After 20 minutes of simmering, dinner was done! I served it with cornbread and shredded cheese, scallions and Greek yogurt. With all the veggies thrown in, it was the perfect one-pot meal.

March 7, 2012

Corn and Egg Flower Soup

My mom used to make this corn and egg flower soup for me when I was growing up. It would show up on the dinner table on hectic evenings and when someone was feeling under the weather. Although I loved it, I never tried making this soup. But then, a chilly day drew out the memory of sweet-savory corn and egg soup from the far reaches of my mind. I had to have it. As a child, I never knew the simplicity of the soup. All I knew was that it was tasty and warm, and made me feel like I was snuggling with my favorite blanket.

I have recollections of my mom over a hot stove, stirring creamed corn into simmering chicken broth. Then, she would add chopped ham and occasionally some peas. Lastly, she would turn off the heat and mix in some lightly beaten eggs. With a few gentle, swift strokes, the eggs would turn into beautiful flower petals. Really, this recipe is Betty-Crocker simple, but it yields very satisfying results. My mom used to garnish the soup with chopped scallions and white pepper, but I leave out the onions because the kids don’t like it. However, those scallions would have brightened up the picture some.

S asked me last night: “How come you’ve never made this before?”

Just to be clear, this beats the socks off the bland egg drop soup you find at virtually every Chinese-American restaurant.

Corn and Egg Flower Soup

Ingredients

6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium

2 cans cream-style corn

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry (optional)

salt and black or white pepper, to taste

3/4 cup deli-style ham, thinly sliced

3 – 4 TB cornstarch, dissolved in 1/4 cup water (more cornstarch makes for a thicker soup)

3 eggs, lightly beaten (or you could just use the egg whites)

3 green onions, finely chopped for garnish

Method:

1. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Stir in creamed corn and simmer for another 3 minutes.

2. Stir in the ham, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine or sherry and salt and pepper. Return to a simmer for another couple of minutes, bringing it back to a boil.

3. Stir the cornstarch-water mixture until well mixed and then pour into the boiling soup. Stir soup until it thickens. Turn off heat.

4. Pour the lightly beaten eggs into the soup and stir gently but quickly until they form thin shreds.

5. Garnish with scallions.

February 28, 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Goat Cheese and Parsley

I have a confession to make: the spaghetti squash, which came from my CSA, for this recipe must have sat on my countertop for two months. Secretly, I was hoping it would go bad, so I wouldn’t have to figure out what to do with it. But I realized after two months that it was wishful thinking.

I scrounged through a vegetarian cookbook and realized that I could roast the squash without cutting it first. When I cooked spaghetti squash last year, I cut it in half lengthwise and then roasted it in the oven with the fleshy side down. But getting a knife through the uncooked squash was a huge challenge—one I didn’t want to endure again. So, this time, I poked holes throughout the squash with a fork and put it in the oven to roast at 375 degrees for an hour. After that, it was almost effortless to slice the squash in half. After scraping out the seeds, I dragged a fork through the flesh, pulling the strands apart. Then, I simply tossed it with a few tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of goat cheese, a handful of chopped parsley and some salt and pepper. My squash was so big it must have made 12 cups of spaghetti squash.

Surprisingly, the kids more than tolerated it. S said she liked it, but didn’t love it. Meanwhile, C gobbled his up quickly. But the truth is, C saw the squash as a vehicle for goat cheese, one of his favorites. Although I served it for dinner, I had plenty left over the next day. I decided to pack it in S’s lunch with some deli turkey on the side. It tastes fine at room temperature.  As for me, I warmed up the leftovers and ate it with an over-easy egg for a low-carb breakfast. That runny yolk made the squash unbelievably rich and delicious.

February 24, 2012

Chickpea, Spinach and Cauliflower Curry

I was craving a hearty vegetarian meal last night, so I decided to tinker with a few chickpea and spinach curry recipes. Both my kids like Indian food (But I want them to like it more!), so I thought this was a good way to get them used to more spices, without setting their lips and tongue on fire. Some of the recipes called for tomatoes, while others relied on a cucumber yogurt accompaniment for acidity. I decided to go with the tomatoes, since I’m a big fan of one-pot meals.

Somewhat to my surprise, the kids loved it. S had three servings and asked for it for lunch today. Everyone agreed it was a dish I should make again. Yay! Simple pleasures.

Unfortunately, I didn’t measure any of the ingredients or spices last night, so I’m not sure I can replicate the dish. I basically kept adding spices until I felt that it had enough flavor. I started by sautéing one large chopped onion with a tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger. Then I added roughly 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground cumin and ground coriander, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons curry powder and a fat pinch of salt. What I wish I had was some garam masala. But last night I had to make do without it. Once the spices became fragrant, I added a can of drained chickpeas, florets from a small head of cauliflower, a 16 oz. bag of thawed frozen spinach and 1 to 1 1/2 cups of diced tomatoes. I let it simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes, until all the flavors blended and there was a nice thick consistency. Serve it over rice with a little chopped cilantro over the top.

This is a great recipe when you’re low on fresh produce. All you need is an onion and cauliflower. You could also make it without the cauliflower.

Note to reader and self:  Indian food really does not photograph well.

February 21, 2012

Zucchini Patties with Feta

I’m always looking for ways to use up zucchinis, especially in the summer when they’re in season, so when I came across this recipe I had to try it. I couldn’t wait for the summer. And I’m glad I did, because C ate three in a sitting. S was lukewarm on them, telling me she prefers spinach patties. Oh, well. You can’t please everyone all of the time.

I bought so many zucchinis that I ended up doubling the Epicurious recipe.  To make it gluten-free, I simply substituted Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour for the regular wheat flour. Other than that, it calls for eggs, feta cheese, green onions (which I subbed with sautéed white onions and garlic) and fresh parsley and dill. I left out the dill, because I wasn’t sure the kids would like it. Instead, I minced and stirred it into the Greek yogurt dipping sauce that accompanies the zucchini cakes. As it turns out, the kids loved the dill in the yogurt. Next time, I’ll definitely mix it into the patties. I may also try it with Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, instead of the feta.

We had them as side dish with dinner, and the next morning C asked for them for breakfast. Even though S thought they were just meh, I packed them in her lunch. I froze the rest, so I could have an easy, healthy snack on hand.

CLICK HERE for the Zucchini Patties with Feta recipe.

 

February 7, 2012

Thai Fish Cakes

It’s a feast of leftovers at my house, after hosting a Thai food party on Saturday evening (I’m kicking myself for forgetting to take pictures!). I was so worried there wouldn’t be enough food that I sort of  completely overdid it. I made 100 Thai fish cakes, 100 skewers of chicken satay, a large mound of papaya salad and a vat of vegetarian green curry. And that was for 15 skinny women. On top of that, a friend of mine brought two rice noodle dishes, one cold and the other warm. Plus, another made Thai coconut and mango sticky rice. In my defense, I had a handful of moms who at the last minute couldn’t make it.

My kids love Thai fish cakes, especially after dipping them in a sweet chili sauce. It’s a good thing they dig them, because in addition to having them for dinner and snack time, they’re also showing up in S’s lunch today. Fish cakes are one of the very few foods I deep fry. But they’re so quintessentially Thai and so delicious that I give myself a get-out-of-jail pass for serving them to my kids. And I make them only once or twice a year.

The secret to a good fish cake is using kaffir lime leaves. I like to throw in a few extras for extra flavor, and I use a very generous tablespoon of red curry paste. Then, I also add some minced lemongrass, even though the recipe below doesn’t call for it. Add a tablespoon of fish sauce, a beaten egg and some thinly sliced snake beans or green beans and you’re ready to mix and shape them into little patties. I deep fry them in a wok, and drain and blot them on paper towels after they’re cooked. Serve these to your family warm, and I promise they’ll think you’re a culinary goddess. But don’t forget that dipping sauce. It comes in a glass bottle, often in the international section of grocery stores and at Trader Joe’s.

Fried Fish Cakes with Green Beans (from The Food of Thailand)

Makes 30

Ingredients

1 lb. firm white fish fillets

1 generous TB red curry paste

1 TB fish sauce

1 egg

2 oz. snake beans or green beans, finely sliced

5 makrut (kaffir) lime leaves, finely shredded

peanut oil, for deep-frying

sweet chili sauce to serve

Directions

Remove any skin and bone from the fish and roughly chop the flesh. In a food processor or a blender, mince the fish fillets until smooth. Add the curry paste, fish sauce and egg, then blend briefly until until smooth. Spoon into a bowl and mix in the beans and kaffir lime leaves. Use wet hands to shape the fish paste into thin, fat cakes, about 5 cm (2 inches) across, using about a tablespoon of mixture of each.

Heat 5 cm (2 inches) oil in a wok or deep frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil seems hot, drop a small piece of fish cake into it. If it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready.

Lower five or six of the fish cakes into the oil and deep-fry them until they are golden brown on both sides and very puffy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Keep the cooked fish cakes warm while deep-frying the rest. Serve hot with sweet chili sauce.

January 17, 2012

Kale and White Bean Soup

After last week’s Frito Pie, I decided we needed to cleanse our system with kale. Lots of it. Yay for super foods! That’s why I was instantly sold when I came across this kale and white bean soup from Epicurious.com. It calls for one whole pound of lacinato kale.  And soup was just the thing, in the midst of a few cold chilly days. Yes, contrary to popular belief, it can get quite brisk in San Diego.

The recipe uses dried beans, but you could just as easily substitute canned ones. If you opt for canned, I recommend that you add the beans towards the end, at the same time as the carrots. Otherwise, your beans will disintegrate after all that simmering. Instead of kielbasa, I chose a smoked chicken sausage with apple and chardonnay from Trader Joe’s. It’s lower in fat, but I think ultimately it was also lower in flavor. Next time, I’ll stick with kielbasa. Last bit of advice: don’t leave out the piece of Parmigian-Reggiano rind. It gives the soup so much richness and depth.

Even if your kids aren’t big fans of kale, I recommend that you try this recipe. Once kale is cooked in a soup or stew, its flavor really mellows out and turns from slightly bitter to sweet. S had seconds for dinner and then asked for it for lunch the next day. C only had one serving, but licked his bowl clean.

CLICK HERE for Epicurious.com’s Kale and White Bean Soup recipe.

January 13, 2012

Recipe Makeover: Frito Pie!

I never thought I would, but I did. And I blame it on the Texan I’m married to. Once or twice a year, my husband gets a faraway, wistful look in his eyes as he recounts how he and his childhood friend used to open a can of chili and pour it into a bag of Fritos.

“Mmmmm,” he’d say. “Frito pie. Those were the days.”

I’d respond with a roll of the eyes and a groan.

For me, Frito pie is right up down there with a tater-tot casserole or a green bean casserole made with Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and Durkee French fried onions. It just seems antithetical to all things culinary and nutritive. But, love drives you to do strange things.

I heard my husband’s story again over Christmas, so it was fresh in my mind when earlier this week Saveur featured its version of Frito pie on its Facebook page. I thought, I have to see this recipe. The recipe comes from Mabel’s Smokehouse, a barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn, NY. Initially, I had my doubts—because what do New Yawkers know about barbecue and Southwestern food, right? But I was impressed with how heavy handed they are with the spices in their chili. They throw in 2 tablespoons each of cumin, chili powder, black pepper, oregano, 1 tablespoon of paprika and garlic powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. At the least, I would have a very flavorful chili. So I decided to challenge myself to a Frito pie recipe makeover. Why not take gas station fare to a much higher level, and at the same time let my husband revisit some of his fondest childhood memories?

I substituted half the ground beef with ground elk to make it healthier, and I also added a can of kidney beans so the chili wouldn’t be so meaty. If I were to do it again, I would add two cans of beans. As the chili was simmering and thickening, I cut up 5 ounces of kale into thin ribbons and threw them into the pot. I know, I know. But, really, no one could tell. Lastly, though this is probably sacrilege to Frito pie aficionados, I substituted Trader Joe’s Organic Corn Chip Dippers for Fritos. They’re basically an organic version of Fritos. Seems silly, but it soothed my conscience.

The Frito pie was a hit! No surprise, right? My husband topped his with sour cream, shredded cheese and lots of sliced jalapeños. Meanwhile, the kids couldn’t get over the fact that they could eat corn chips with dinner. In my family’s eyes, I was Top Chef.

Of course, S wanted Frito pie for lunch. After all, that means she gets to eat more of those corn chip dippers! How can I blame her? Because I confess: I’ve turned into a Frito-pie convert.

Here’s the link to the recipe at Saveur.com:

Frito Pie

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