Monday, September 24, 2012

FSC Academy Fermenting Class

There is this really, really cool group of folks in my area - they're big on making food and consumables from scratch; they're called the From Scratch Club

I can't remember how I first heard about them - perhaps it was a retweet on Twitter, but for months I've 
been eyeing their classes and swaps. I've got a major crush on the group but my schedule (er, it was mostly my husband's schedule) wasn't panning out for him to watch the little guy so I could take a class. But the stars must have aligned right for me because a giveaway popped up on the awesome Saratoga Mama and I won a class! 

And for that, I am super appreciative. (Classes are $48, which is a steal when you think about the time, effort and goodies that go into each class.)

I recently took Elissa's Fermenting class in Ballston Spa. It was so very cool.

We started off the class listening to a bit about fermenting, then we sampled some of Elissa's great ferments (think dilly beans, crisp savory asparagus, and ginger cabbage...) and then we got in the kitchen. 

When it comes down to it, fermenting can be super simple. All you need is spring water and sea salt (and jars and your veggies). We chopped, stirred and got our hands dirty and by the end of class we all took home samples of our ferments: cabbage, green beans, and carrots.

I proudly kept mine on our kitchen table and just today put them in the fridge so they would stop fermenting. I'll be trying to make my own sauerkraut soon.

Elissa passed along some great handouts with helpful books and some links to videos on the subject. If you're interested in learning more about fermenting, check out these clips:

A how-to ferment vegetables by Sandor Katz and  Eat Real Food's Making Homemade Sauerkraut.

Thanks FSC and Saratoga Mama!     

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Video Reviews

Off topic, kind of - I have a background in video and television production. I've always thought it would be fun to make blog posts in video form (I've done one before) and cook recipes and do reviews... but I was overwhelmed with the idea of creating a script, getting the proper lighting and sound and having it come out professionally because well, that's my business.

But after my sister sent me this I realized that it's all about the content.

I want to be this man's friend. He just proved to me that even if I shoot a bit in my car, it could still be totally awesome.

Dayn Drops - thank you for inspiring me. (And making me really want a Five Guys double cheeseburger with bacon.)

And also thank you to Leonard from Community for his frozen pizza reviews.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fool-proof Cranberry Chicken Salad

This is my go to pot luck dish. I've made it for baby showers, pool parties and picnic lunches, and it's always a hit.

It's also kind of irresistible, well, to my husband at least.

On more than one occasion I've found him eating a bowl of chicken salad that he knew was supposed to be saved for an event. The last time I caught him it was after 9 at night. At first I thought he was eating a bowl of ice cream, then I noticed he was acting guilty.

The man loves his meat.

You can use leftover chicken of any kind for this recipe but I usually simmer chicken breast in spices. I think it creates a better texture for chicken salad. I'll bring a pot of water to a boil, add dried herbs and spices like bell's seasonings, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme, turn down the water to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Then I leave the chicken in the broth and let it cool off before chopping (I feel like this helps keep the chicken moist).

Below is the recipe but keep in mind the measurements are pretty loose. I don't recommend messing with the ingredients much, but just about everything can be added to taste.

Cranberry Chicken Salad

1 lb cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 small grated, or finely diced onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, loosely chopped
1/4 cup fresh flat-leafed parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste

Add all of the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until evenly coated.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip Mashed Potatoes

The word accomplishment has a different definition for me now.

It used to be that I felt accomplished when I finished a triathlon or received an award at work.  

Nowadays, if I'm able to exercise, shower and cook dinner in the same day, I feel like superwoman.

...As the commercial goes, having a baby changes everything. 

I felt like I had accomplished something (albeit a little victory) the other night when I needed to use up 3/4 of a can of artichokes and a bit of spinach. Oh, and some potatoes that were starting to sprout. My tape-worm of a stomach called at me to make spinach-artichoke mashed potatoes, and so I did. 

It was quite delicious. 

I simply made the beginning of a spinach-artichoke dip and added it to mashed potatoes, checked the seasonings and added some dairy goodness. I really think it could be delicious without the dairy too. The spinach and artichoke add a great heartiness to the potatoes (and a nice kick of color).

Spinach Artichoke Dip Mashed Potatoes
serves 4-6

2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, roughly chopped (or any good mashing potato)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped

5 oz fresh spinach (frozen will work here too)
14 oz can of artichokes, loosely chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cream cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add potatoes and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, in a saute pan over medium low heat, add chopped onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Then add the artichokes and spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook another five minutes or so. When the potatoes are done boiling, drain and return back to the pot. Add the spinach mixture and cheese, sour cream and cream cheese. Taste and season with more salt and pepper and serve (with a bit more parmesan cheese on top if you'd like). 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Loot

A recent trip to Homegoods provided the following gluten-free loot.

I LOVE finding gluten-free foods on the cheap (and in unexpected places). I just did a quick search to see what Heartland Gourment's regular price is for their cupcake mix and it's $6.99. I paid $4.99. The Falafel chips are usually close to $7 at my local Shop Rite. I got them at Homegoods for $3.99.

Anyone else find gluten-free bargains anywhere unexpected?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free

Before I get into the deliciousness of the doughnut above, I have a few short stories to tell...

I've only lived in the Capital Region of New York for about a year and a half, but Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free has been a part of some major life events. First, when my husband and I were looking at houses here (mind you, this is after seven years, three deployments, and thousands of miles apart, we were finally living in the same place for good) I mentioned to our real estate agent that I couldn't eat gluten, so she brought us to Sherry Lynn's for lunch. It was the first meal I ate here and immediately after I remember telling my husband, "I hope we find a place close to Sherry Lynn's." 

We did.  We live about four miles away in a house that's so perfect for us it's almost creepy.

Fast forward about eleven months after we moved to upstate New York and I'm in labor with my son. After ten hours of contractions and pushing we meet our little (er well, big: he was 9.1 lbs, which probably had something to do with the Sherry Lynn's cravings I had during pregnancy) guy. It was the most amazing, tiring, rewarding experience of my life and how do we celebrate? I ask my parents to pick up some Sherry Lynn's to bring to the hospital for lunch.  A patty melt filled my stomach as I watched my son sleep in the bassinet beside me.
It's one thing to be gluten intolerant and eat at a gluten-free restaurant because it's safe. It's another to make that restaurant a part of your life, a way to celebrate big life events, and a place you want to take your family.

I heard recently that Sherry Lynns was having a breakfast and lunch buffet. I haven't been to a buffet where I could eat all the food in probably seven years. This was very exciting.    

We went for breakfast and I had something I've never had before: breakfast pizza. And in a word, it was ridiculous. Ridiculous in the best way possible. Chewy, soft bread with egg, cheese, veggies and meat cooked on top. My husband informed me this breakfast pizza is nothing new (his college had it in their dining hall) but in my head, this mixture of pizza and breakfast blew my mind.

(The buffet also had a tasty quiche-like dish, eggs, bacon, waffles, hash browns, and doughnuts. Fresh-from-the-fryer glazed doughnuts. I couldn't handle it. I ate two - they were mini doughnuts -  and had to restrain myself)

Oh Sherry Lynn's. You've outdone yourself.

To use the terms that I hear my sister use with her four-year-old-niece about food that's delicious but not good for you in large quantities, Sherry Lynn's is a sometimes food. A "special occasion" food. A place with food that I can't wait to share with my little Wild Man (when he starts eating food, of course).  

I can't write a post about the place without mentioning the people. Sherry Lynn's is family run. They work hard and they treat you right. And they're super kid friendly.  They're doing the gluten-free community a great service here so I urge you, if you are even traveling within an hour of Albany, NY - make a trek here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spinach and Pecan Pesto

Spinach is a great addition to almost anything. I've put it in smoothies and it's been the star in dips. And because (to me at least) it just tastes fresh it can be a sneaky addition to many baked goods and casseroles.

But sometimes it needs to shine; to get all the attention. Pesto is a good way to do that.

Pestos are usually made with huge handfuls of basil, or large bunches of parsley. When you make it with spinach, that fresh taste just hits you. And that color! It's just so green.

You can spread it on sandwiches, use it as a sauce in pasta dishes (or spaghetti squash like I did the other night) or even use it as a vegetable or chip dip. It's good stuff (and yes, highly caloric) so moderation is key.

I need to remind myself of that.

Spinach Pecan Pesto  

About 2 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted (just put the nuts in a pan over medium low heat until fragrant)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (can be omitted to make dairy-free)
1/4 cup parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all of the ingredients EXCEPT the olive oil in a blender or food processor and mix on high. Slowly add in the olive oil until you get a smooth consistency.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z

Happy Friday, everyone! I took this meme from my friend Jen of A Life of Sugar and Spice.

A is for age: 29

B is for breakfast today:
2 eggs, a piece of center cut bacon and gluten-free toast.

C is for what you’re currently craving: Salty and sweet anything.

D is for dinner tonight: Not sure yet. There are chicken thighs in the fridge. We'll probably BBQ them because it's nice out.

E is for favorite type of exercise: Normally any type of group fitness class. Or, I turn on music in our gym and do a very random lifting routine for about 45 minutes.

F is for an irrational fear: My car going over a bridge into water. This story only worsened that fear.

G is for gross food: Fried clam bellies.

H is for hometown: Brockton, Mass - City of Champions

I is for something important: Family.

J is for current favorite jam: Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye

K is for kids:
My life, my (almost five month old) son Jack.

L is for current location: The island in our kitchen

M is for the most recent way you spent money: I need to get a g-darn new tire for my jogging stroller because one of the wheels has a hole in it. (And it's brand-new. GRR)

N is for something you need: A babysitter for Jack every once in a while. (Though family has been great for this when visiting)

O is for occupation: SAHM and journalist/filmmaker

P is for pet peeve: Not using your directional when changing lanes/turning.

Q is for a quote:
"The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention" AND "Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress. Don't strive to make your presence noticed, but your absence felt."

R is for random fact about you: I was voted nicest in my 7th grade class.

S is for favorite healthy snack: Carrots and hummus.

T is for favorite treat: Ice cream of any variety.

U is for something that makes you unique: I have A LOT of freckles.

V is for favorite vegetable: Carrots

W is for today’s workout: Probably a jog when the huz gets home from work so he can watch our little guy.

X is for X-rays you’ve had: Teeth.

Y is for yesterday’s highlight: Yoga with the babe.

Z is for your time zone: Eastern.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Simple, Zesty, Dairy-free Caesar Salad Dressing

I love Caesar salad.

In fact, I get on kicks where I make it multiple times a week; especially when it's warm out. And today it hit 90 here in Upstate New York.

It's something about the zest and tang of the dressing and that crisp Romaine lettuce.

And for me, it's one of those foods that will cause a craving the instant I hear the words caesar salad or see a photo of the stuff.

(You can imagine writing this post is a little difficult for me.)

But! Caesar dressing can be downright fattening. And if you can't eat dairy, out of the question. I came up with this dressing a while back - when I couldn't tolerate dairy. Now, even though I can eat dairy, I usually choose to do without. In my eyes, the kick of the garlic and dijon make up for the lack of cheese.

Here's my five ingredient (not counting the salt and pepper) gluten-free, dairy-free Caesar dressing recipe:

2 tablespoons mayonaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
the juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
2 zest-ed cloves of garlic ("zest-ed" - to zest or microplane your food)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl whisk all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust to your liking.

*Warning: the fresh garlic gives the dressing quite a kick. I've omitted the fresh garlic and used garlic powder (about 1 teaspoon) and more mayo to make it less kick-y.

Whether you like your Caesar salad on its own with gluten-free croutons, or with shrimp on top, don't forget about the importance of tossing your salad! Oh, and Henry says Hi!

One last thing: Did you know Caesar salad was not invented in Italy, but Mexico?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Corned Beef Cabbage Rolls

Salty, fatty, tender corned beef. It's good by itself.

But add some potatoes, cabbage and mustard and the combination is plain delectable.

Wrap it in a cabbage roll and it's plain awesome.

I never thought that a St. Patrick's Day feast was one that I could eat with my hands, but by the end of dinner on Saturday night my fork and knife remained untouched.

The Lerner clan ate our corned beef and cabbage a week early and in an entirely new, delicious and portable way with corned beef, mashed potato and cabbage rolls.

I got the idea after watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives last week. They were in Annapolis, Maryland and visited a place called Galway Bay. The restaurant specializes in Irish food with a unique spin, like, turning a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner into something that resembles a sushi roll.

Now, some might call this blasphemous - and I was a little hesitant to stray from the Irish-American dinner I know so well (my maiden name is Clancy and my freckles number in the thousands) - but I think a new tradition has begun.

Meet the most hearty, dense and delicious way to get your St. Patty's Day feast in your belly...

Corned Beef Cabbage Rolls

3 lbs corned beef
3 lbs potatoes (any kind will do)
1/2 cup spicy mustard (or yellow if you prefer)
1 large head of cabbage

Boil your corned beef in pickling spices for three to four hours. Boil your potatoes until tender and mash with milk, butter, salt and pepper. Peel the leaves off of a head of cabbage gently and boil each leaf (a few at a time) for two to three minutes or until tender.

Make an assembly line.

Have the cabbage leaves ready.

And the cubed corned beef.

And have the mashed potatoes nearby.

And some mustard too.

In a large bowl combine about 1/4 cup of the mashed potatoes, about the same of the corned beef and about a tablespoon of the mustard. (I like to combine the mixture in small batches for each cabbage roll instead of making one large bowl of mashed potato and corned beef)

Place in the center of a cabbage leaf and roll.

Steam over boiling water for another five to seven minutes.

Serve with more mustard for dipping and a tasty beer. And Happy St. Patty's Day!

(You'll likely have some left-over corned beef which is delicious the next day in hash...)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chop Suey & Jennie-O Giveaway

If I were to write a post about the top five foods that I eat, Jennie-O turkey burgers would top that list. I always have them in my freezer because they're healthy, tasty, and gluten-free. Also, they cook up in minutes.

So, I was pretty excited when the company contacted me and offered to give away $15 in Jennie-O coupons (read: $15 to spend on Jennie O foods) to one lucky reader.

I already had a package of their ground turkey in my fridge and a quick browse on their site for a recipe had me whipping up some Chop Suey in no time. I've never made it before because I was intimidated by what I thought you would need, but it turns out chop suey - at least Jennie O's version, is quite simple. I adapted it to be gluten free and left out the water chestnuts. (See original recipe here)

Jennie-O Ground Turkey Gluten Free Chop Suey
(serves 4)

4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced, or 2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

1 package JENNIE-O TURKEY STORE® Extra Lean Ground Turkey

3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce

4 green onions, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices

1 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 package (about a cup, cooked) of thin rice noodles soaked in hot water for ten minutes and loosely chopped

Coat a large deep skillet or wok with cooking spray. Crumble 1 package JENNIE-O TURKEY STORE® Extra Lean Ground Turkey and cook as specified on the package. Always cook to well-done, 165˚F as measured by a meat thermometer. Add 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced, or 2 cups sliced and 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic; stir-fry 2 minutes add 3 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce. Cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 4 green onions, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.Then add the chopped rice noodles and stir. Combine 1 cup chicken broth and 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixing until smooth. Add to skillet; simmer uncovered 5 minutes or until thickened.

To enter to win, comment on this post by 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 20th.

A winner will be notified by email (please leave a valid email address) by 12pm on Wednesday, March 21st.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Must-Go Night & A Quick Dinner

There was this thing called "Must Go" night in my house growing up.

For a long time I thought my parents were calling it "Muskgo Night" - like Muskgo was the name of some Slavic country whose food we were going to sample that night. But the food always turned out to be a weird mixture of things. Like, a meal of potato pancakes, teriyaki chicken and tomato salad.

That's when I figured out my parents were saying "Must Go," as in, we're eating all of the things in the fridge that must go before they go bad.


We had a "Must Go" night of our own the other evening. Left to use up were roasted split chicken breast, spaghetti squash, goat cheese and spinach. And I have to say, when cooked together with a little love the results are delicious.

Roasted Chicken and Spaghetti Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese
(serves one for dinner)

1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
the meat of one roasted chicken breast
one half of a cooked spaghetti squash, squash removed from shell
two large handfuls of baby spinach
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tomato, quartered
1 tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese

Saute the onion in the olive over medium heat in a large pan until tender. Add the chicken and cook until warm. Then add the spaghetti squash and baby spinach, then the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add the tomatoes and toss gently while cooking. Then add the balsamic vinegar. Cook another few minutes and serve with crumbled goat cheese on top.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coconut Curry Beef Stew

Dinner time has really changed since the babe came along. My cooking, and honestly everything that I do can't get my full attention anymore because a chubby little beautiful being is at my beckon call. This is not a complaint, but merely a confession that my garlic sometimes burns and my chicken has come out under-done because I can't be as attentive as I used to be.

It's an adjustment. I end up wearing the babe a lot (we have an Ergo Baby and we love it), but sometimes he just doesn't want to be in there so I put him on his gym mat and he bats at his toys and cries for me after about five minutes, so I pick him up and make the rest of dinner one-handed. I know this is a stage and soon he'll be able to play independently (and yesterday I quartered a tomato with one-hand, so I'm learning new skills!) but again, simple meals are key here.

As is frugality. I'm a working/stay-at-home mom. I'm keeping my hands in a few projects in my field because I love what I do, but by no means is it full-time work. So we're on one income, which means I buy food on sale: stew beef was the special this week at our Hannafords.

My first thought was beef stew and my mom makes the most delicious recipe but I was craving something with a kick, so, a little internet search and a few alterations to a recipe and I've got a spicy, hearty (dairy-free, gluten-free) curry that'll warm you right up.

The recipe below is adapted from this one found on epicurious.

Coconut Curry Beef Stew
(serves 2)

1 lb stew beef cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried clove
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 teaspoon dried cinnamon)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups light coconut milk (if you only have regular coconut milk use 3/4 cup coconut milk and 3/4 cup water)
2 tomatoes quartered
2 tablespoons mango chutney (I used Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
cilantro to garnish

Brown the stew beef in one tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Place the beef aside. Add the other tablespoon of oil in the pot and saute the onion for about five minutes. Add the beef back and add all the spices; cook for another minute or two. Then, add the coconut milk, tomatoes, chutney, lemon juice, ginger, curry powder, salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an hour and a half (the longer, the more tender the beef). Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.

When I make anything with curry, roasted cauliflower is usually my go to side. I'll take a head of cauliflower and break into small pieces, toss in oil and spice with salt, pepper and curry powder to taste, roast on a oiled cookie sheet at 400F for about 25 minutes (tossing once in the middle of the cooking process) and toss in a bowl with raisins, cilantro and a drizzle of agave.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Muesli

*Enter tonight (Tuesday, 2/21) by 11:59pm by commenting on this post to win a gluten-free/dairy-free cookbook*

Muesli soaked in milk was one of my favorite breakfasts when I lived in Australia. (That was in 2003 when I did eat gluten - and drink beer and eat meat pies and douse crumpets in butter...)

It's hearty, filling and tasty, but it usually contains wheat germ and wheat bran. So, I hadn't eaten it in quite a long time.

Until 2010 when I get the chance to go to Switzerland with the huz. We discover a great little health food store in Interlaken that carries Schar brand gluten-free muesli. I have it for breakfast and my love for muesli is rekindled.

I have yet to find it in the states so I've been making my own. It's a super versatile recipe. You can adjust the amount of nuts/seeds and dried fruit to your liking:

Gluten-free, dairy-free muesli

2 cups rolled oats (certified gluten free)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
5 dried apricots, diced
1 scant teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and store in an airtight container.

I prefer to eat my muesli soaked overnight in So Delicious coconut milk but many people eat it soaked or topped on yogurt. There's also a whole movement to eat your muesli soaked in juice. (I've tried it soaked in cranberry juice and it's good, I just prefer the creaminess that the milk produces)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway

Five years ago I started my gluten-free journey with the realization that in order to heal properly I'd have to cut dairy out of my diet too. That was even more difficult for me to accept than the gluten sensitivity diagnosis. (No cheese?! No ice cream?! Oye.)

I spent a good year and a half trying to concoct dairy-free foods that could replace my beloved creamy treats. And I spent way too much money buying products that attempted to do the same.

Fortunately, as the years have passed, food companies and some publishers are realizing that casein (the protein found in dairy) intolerance often comes along with gluten intolerance - even if it's temporary like mine.

(And then there's this whole other subset of groups who have to avoid dairy: the lactose intolerant, those with autism and/or ADHD, those who are vegan and gluten-free and those who believe that humans aren't meant to consume other mammals milk. )

Which is why I'm excited to see more cookbooks tackling the gluten-free/dairy-free issue.

I received a copy of Denise Jardine's "The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen" and I've been having fun with the recipes: bisque, pizza, fettuccini, lasagna, and flan - foods that normally contain a whole lot of dairy have none.

Photos accompany many of the recipes (I won't buy a cookbook that doesn't have accompanying images - we eat with our eyes after all) and the recipes clearly state what they are "free of" at the top of the page.

But most important, the food is good. Yes, it's gluten-free/dairy-free cooking and with that comes understanding that you can't get non-dairy foods to taste like dairy, but! you can create so much flavor that you don't miss the dairy at all.

Take the broccoli soup I made. It was delicious. So delicious in fact that my dinner last night was three bowls of it. It won't taste like the broccoli cheese soup you find at Panera - where all you taste is the cheese. But it will feel like it: thick and hearty. (And it's so much better for you.)

I want to share the gluten-free/dairy-free love so the publishers have agreed to send out a copy to one lucky commenter on this post. If you leave a comment by midnight on Tuesday, February 21st with a valid email address, and you're chosen by you'll get a free copy sent to you (sorry - you must live in the U.S.)

In the meantime, make this soup. You won't miss the cheese. I pinky-swear.

Creamy Broccoli Soup

2 pounds broccoli, stems and florets chopped separately into 1-inch pieces

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

11/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2 potatoes)

31/2 cups Chicken Stock (page 176) or Vegetable Stock (page 177)

1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup Dairy Milk Alternative (page 173), plus more if needed

Herb Toast (page 185), for garnish (optional)

Grated lemon zest, for garnish (optional)

To prepare the soup: Combine the broccoli stems, onion, potatoes, stock, lemon juice, bay leaves, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, decrease the heat to low, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add broccoli florets; reduce the heat to low, and simmer until florets are just tender, about 8 minutes. (By placing the broccoli florets on top of the other partially cooked vegetables, they cook via steam, and retain their vibrant green color.)

To puree the soup: Remove the soup from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Ladle half of the soup into a blender along with 1/2 cup of the milk, cover, and puree until smooth. Empty the blender into a large bowl and repeat with the remaining soup and 1/4 cup of milk. Transfer the pureed soup back to the saucepan. Thin the soup if necessary by adding a little more milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved. Taste and correct the seasonings. Reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, taking care not to boil the soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with Herb Toast (recipe in book) and lemon zest.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Turkey Taco Casserole

When I was a kid, it was a big deal when Taco Bell opened near us. Their advertising campaign made me drool: crunchy shell, ground "meat" and cheese = super kid friendly.

Even my dad was pretty excited, "A whole box of tacos for five bucks!" You bet that looked appealing for a family of four.

And now as a mom I totally get that. Spending five bucks on dinner for the family is awesome!

But, now we know that what's in those tacos isn't exactly awesome...

And certainly not gluten free.

(Slightly on topic - did anyone else see that Chipotle commercial last night during the Grammy's? It's nice to see a chain focus on the quality of food they use.)

But the point of this post isn't to rag on Taco Bell or get all judgmental on fast food; it's to share with you a taco recipe I made last night. This isn't something you'll find in Mexico or the southwest. But it's something you'll find on our table at least once a month. It's simple, relatively inexpensive and features one of my favorite Mexican (or Spanish) imports: chorizo.

Ground Turkey Taco Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled chorizo (chopped if it is Spanish chorizo)
1 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon each of: garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, hot paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
16 oz can of ranchero style refried beans
1 jar of your favorite salsa (I like Green Mountain Gringo)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
10 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly oil a 9x13 casserole dish. Saute the onion and chorizo over medium-low heat until fragrant (you may not need oil on the pan if the chorizo is fatty enough). Add the ground turkey and all of the spices. Cook until the turkey is no longer pink. Layer 5 of the corn tortillas on the bottom of the casserole dish. Spoon half of the ground turkey mixture over that and half of the salsa on top of that. Then add a cup of the shredded cheese.

Layer the next five corn tortillas on top and continue with the other layers. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with salsa and sour cream on the side. I also put together a salad of romaine lettuce, tomato and avocado and whisked together a quick salad dressing of mayonnaise, agave and lime juice - add chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Party Dishes

Welp, I had my first moms' night out (in) last week and it was great - a nice little break from changing diapers and doing the mom bounce. It was at a friends house and was an "apps and zerts (and wine)" party. I love the idea. As far as I'm concerned appetizers and desserts are the best part of any meal.

I made a Spinach Artichoke dip that's been my go-to for awhile now; I first saw it on the Today show and liked that it was a bit healthier than your average dip. Here's a link to the recipe so you can try it yourself. I serve mine with baby carrots and celery.

Another recipe I've been making a lot of is this healthy enchilada dish. I use ten corn tortillas instead of the four whole-wheat ones (make sure the corn tortillas are warm before you start working with them). The in-laws came to visit this past weekend and it was a simple, healthy and tasty meal to entertain with.

Do you have any go-to party recipes? This chili dog dip looks pretty tasty for a Superbowl party.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My version of Shepherd's Pie

Simple seems to be my new mantra when it comes to cooking. I'm now a mom (Jack arrived on December 7, weighing 9.1 lbs via a natural, unmedicated labor and delivery) and we're slowly finding a schedule together. I'm now cooking and writing again, but I'm also at his beckon call. Simple food has become a necessity.

Add to that this whole trying-to-eat-healthy thing. My mid-section certainly isn't the same after carrying a 9 lb baby and I'd like to assist its shrinking in any way possible, so that's another goal: more veggies, less fat and high fiber. (It's not advised to go on a diet during the first few months of breastfeeding, which is why I'm not counting calories/limiting food, etc)

So, in an effort to keep simple and healthy, here's my take on gluten free and dairy free Shepherd's Pie:

Bison Shepherd's Pie

gluten-free, dairy-free, serves 4

For topping:

3 large sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons earth balance

1 tablespoon maple syrup

paprika for garnish

For bottom:

1 small onion, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

2 cloves garlic of 1 tsp garlic powder

1 cup button mushrooms (any type mushroom is fine)

1 lb ground bison

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper, about 1 teaspoon each

(I'm not much for exact measurements in recipes like these, all amounts except for the bison are approximate)

Poke holes in sweet potatoes and microwave at "potato" setting until cooked through (you could also boil or bake until tender). Preheat oven to 400 F. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-low heat saute onion, carrot and mushroom until slightly tender, then add garlic, bison, Worcestershire and salt and pepper and cook until pink is gone from bison. When sweet potatoes are done cooking, cool slightly, peel and mash with earth balance and maple syrup. Spoon bison mixture on bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish and top with sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and bake at 400 for 30 minutes.