Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Caramelized Onions (Crockpot)

These caramelized onions prepared in the crockpot are easy, aromatic, and flavorful.

I had quite a few recipes over the weekend that needed caramelized onions. Instead of preparing them over the stove, which requires me to pay attention to them, these onions caramelized themselves in the crockpot while I slept. When I woke up Saturday morning, the house smelled wonderful! Not only did I have perfectly caramelized onions, I also had liquid gold (aka onion flavored beef broth).

Stay tuned over the next week for the recipes I used these caramelized onions for, including Portobello Mushroom Burgers, French Onion Risotto, and French Onion Grilled Cheeses. I also froze half a batch of the caramelized onions to use for future recipes.

Caramelized Onions (Crockpot)
·5-6 large onions
·½ cup homemade beef broth
·½ cup water
·4 TBS butter
·2 TBS port wine (optional)

Peel onions and cut off stems. Chop onions in half and place in the bottom of a 6-quart crockpot. Pour broth and water over the onions. Cut butter into smaller pieces and place on top of the onions. If desired, drizzle with port. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours (I find it convenient to cook the onions overnight).

Remove onions from crockpot and use as needed in recipes/meals. (You may want to chop into thinner slices when using caramelized onions as an ingredient). Save onion flavored beef broth for future recipes that call for beef broth. Freeze extra caramelized onions in cupcake liners for up to 3 months.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cauliflower with Carrot "Cheese" Sauce

Cauliflower with Carrot "Cheese" Sauce is a good side dish that is healthy and "cheesy".

This healthy cauliflower side dish from Rachael Ray is good. We didn't even miss the cheddar cheese, as the carrot "cheese" is a good substitute. While this is a good side dish and Mike and I both enjoyed it, I probably won't go through the hassle of making it again. It's hard to top our favorite way to enjoy cauliflower - Roasted Cauliflower.

Click here for Cauliflower with Carrot "Cheese" Sauce recipe from Rachael Ray

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spinach and Black Pepper Alfredo

Your taste buds won't be able to tell this creamy and flavorful Italian meal is healthy!

Italian food was my favorite cuisine in my pre-gluten free days. I cooked it often and it was my go-to cuisine when dining out. Not being able to enjoy Italian food was my biggest fear when I started the gluten free diet a year and a half ago. Luckily, my mom interested me to Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta which has allowed me to continue to indulge in Italian cuisine.

In my pre-gluten free days, Spinach and Black Pepper Alfredo was one of my favorite meals at a local restaurant. I easily recreated a healthier version of this creamy and flavorful meal for a vegetarian meal Friday night. As a starting point, I used my Low Cal Alfredo recipe, which is incredibly flavorful and way healthier than traditional Alfredo sauces. This meal was delicious and As Good As Gluten.

Spinach and Black Pepper Alfredo
·6 oz. gluten free brown rice spaghetti noodles (I use Tinkyada)
·1 TBS butter
·¾ cup milk
·2 TBS Neufâtchel cream cheese
·1 tsp minced garlic
·¼ cup Parmesan cheese
·½ tsp salt
·2-3 tsp cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
·5 oz. fresh spinach

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. When water reaches a boil, salt the water and add the noodles. Cook until al dente, according to package directions.

In a small saucepan, stir together butter, milk, cream cheese, and garlic over medium heat until bubbly. Add Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper and stir until no clumps remain. Taste and adjust to taste.

When pasta noodles are al dente, reserve 1 cup of starchy cooking liquid before draining the noodles. Drain the noodles and return to the pan. Over low heat, add Alfredo sauce, 1/2 cup of starchy cooking liquid, and spinach to the noodles. Stir until spinach is wilted and sauce is combined well with the noodles. If needed to help the sauce come together with the pasta and spinach, gradually add more starchy cooking liquid. Remove from heat and serve immediately with a few cracks of black pepper on top.

Yield: 2-3 servings

I've also shared this recipe on: This Week's Craving

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wedding Cake Martini

This Wedding Cake Martini is another dangerously delicious way to enjoy cake vodka. It's as delicious as Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini and Grown-Up Cake Floatbut not as sweet.

Wedding Cake Martini
·1½ oz. amaretto
·½ oz. UV cake flavored vodka
·2 ounces pineapple orange juice

Pour amaretto, vodka, and pineapple orange juice into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, then pour into a martini glass for serving.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos with Chipotle Sauce

This meal left us speechless at the dinner table. The only "word" Mike and I could manage as we quickly devoured these über flavorful tacos was "mmmmmm".

I came up with this Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos with Chipotle Sauce as our first vegetarian meal for Lent. In case you missed my last-meaty-recipe-until-Easter that I posted earlier this week, Mike and I gave up meat for Lent this year. After this phenomenal meal, I'm less concerned about the sacrifice we made this Lenten season and more excited for the flavorful journey ahead. This recipe had "husband-not-approved" written all over it with the inclusion of sweet potato and no meat. Fortunately after we were done devouring our dinner, my husband could not stop raving about how incredibly amazing this recipe was!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos with Chipotle Sauce
·Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
·2 tsp minced garlic
·1½ tsp cumin
·¾ tsp cayenne pepper
·½ tsp onion powder
·1 small onion, chopped
·1 – 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
·1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ dice
·½ tsp each - salt and pepper
·1 TBS chipotle in adobe sauce purée
·¼ cup mayonnaise
·½ TBS lime juice
·10 soft corn tortillas
·1 cup Monterey Jack cheese

Place diced sweet potato into a microwave safe dish. Cover and cook for 3 minutes to soften. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat 1-2 TBS EVOO.

Add garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, onion powder, and onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes then add black beans and sweet potato. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until beans are heated and sweet potato and onion are softened, about 5-10 minutes.

In a bowl, stir together chipotle purée, mayonnaise, and lime juice. Taste and adjust to taste.

Brush one side of each corn tortilla with EVOO. In a skillet over medium heat, place corn tortillas, oil side down, in a single layer. Sprinkle the tops of each tortilla shell with cheese and cook until cheese is melted and tortilla shells begin to crisp around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove from the skillet and continue until all tortilla shells are prepared.

Spread a dollop of chipotle sauce across the center of each prepared tortilla shell. Top with seasoned black bean and sweet potato mixture. Serve immediately.

*Note: A can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce makes the chipotle in adobe purée. Remove the seeds from the peppers and then purée the peppers and all of the liquid. Use the amount needed then freeze the remaining purée in a freezer bag. The next time a recipe calls for chipotle in adobo purée, break off the needed amount of the frozen purée.

I've also shared this recipe on: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays, This Week's Craving

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blackened Fish and Cheesy Grits

Spicy, flaky fish served with creamy and cheesy grits. Yum! 

Over the holidays, I spent a week in Alabama for a family getaway/vacation. Relaxing and spending quality time with family was just what I needed to recharge again. The weather was wonderful (sunny and much warmer than the Midwest), the people were friendly, and the food was delicious. For dinner one night I ordered a southern meal of Blackened Fish and Cheesy Grits. To my surprise, I loved the meal even though I'm a very picky fish eater and grits haven't impressed me in the past. I recreated this meal last week for dinner and it instantly brought me back to this ...

I just need to hold onto this warm, sunny beach for a month or so longer and then the Midwest winter will be better be behind us. Back to the meal. I made my Blackened Tilapia recipe and experimented with quick grits until they were creamy, cheesy, and flavorful. It was so good that Mike and I inhaled our dinner.

Cheesy Grits
·3 cups water
·¾ cup quick grits
·1 cup skim milk
·2 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese, cubed
·¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
·¼-½ tsp cayenne pepper
·Salt and pepper

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Salt the water and then stir in the grits, milk, and cream cheese. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 4 minutes. Once the grits have thickened but moisture still remains, add the cheddar cheese and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir to melt the cheese and adjust seasonings to taste.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fritos Chili Pie

Fritos Chili Pie is a quick and simple recipe that's packed full of spicy flavors. It's a great way to repurpose left over chili, or put a new twist on homemade chili.

Mike and I have decided to give up meat for Lent this year, so this is the last meaty meal I'll be posting until Easter. I thought my meat-loving, hunter husband was ill when he recommended we give up meat because it would "be a big sacrifice." I'm proud of him for making this sacrifice and am fully supporting it by giving up meat as well.

I know Mike will miss red meat, and I'll miss chicken. We had to assure that we could do this and enjoy variety, so I've already made a list of 50+ meatless meals and fish recipes we'll be eating until Easter. There aren't too many fish recipes I'm fond of, so I'm hoping to expand my taste buds during Lent. Over the weekend, we enjoyed a few of our favorite meat recipes before Ash Wednesday, including Four Cheese Lasagna, Cream Cheese Chicken Chili, and Vegetable Beef Stew.

What are your favorite meatless meals or fish recipes?

Fritos Chili Pie
·1 – 10.5oz. bag of Fritos corn chips
·1 recipe homemade chili, heated (I use Mike's 20-Ingredient Chili or Steak 'n Shake Chili)
·1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
·Toppings of choice: chopped onion, jalapeños, sour cream, etc.

Preheat oven to 350˚. Pour Fritos evenly in the bottom of a large baking dish. Pour prepared homemade chili over the corn chips. Add additional toppings of choice and then sprinkle with cheese. Place in the oven and cook until cheese is melted, about 5-10 minutes.

Notes: For crunchier chips, omit the step of cooking the Fritos Chili Pie in the oven. If you or others in your house are not gluten-free, my husband tells me this is an even better recipe if Chili Cheese Fritos are used.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ranch Mashed Cauliflower (Mock Mashed Potatoes)

While the texture is not startchy like mashed potatoes, Ranch Mashed Cauliflower is super flavorful and healthy. Without self control, Mike and I very easily could have eaten the entire dish in one sitting.

My mom has been making cauliflower mashed potatoes long before it was popular. I've never tried mock mashed potatoes (aka mashed cauliflower), but I thought ranch style would be the perfect way to try it sans potatoes. I was right, the ranch seasoning is what made the dish. One day I'll have to share my mom's recipe, which combines both cauliflower puree and mashed potatoes - delish!

Ranch Mashed Cauliflower (Mock Mashed Potatoes)
·1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
·1½ TBS Neufchatel cream cheese
·2 TBS skim milk
·2 TBS butter
·2 TBS dried parsley
·1 tsp dried dill
·1 tsp garlic powder
·1 tsp onion powder
·½ tsp dried basil
·½ tsp pepper
·¼ tsp salt

Steam cauliflower in a pot of water until tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until blended and the consistency of mashed potatoes is achieved.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tomato and Sausage Risotto

Incredibly tasty and healthy.

Mike loved this meal because it had a ton of "stuff" (interpretion - sausage, tomatoes, spinach, rice) in it. I thought it was equally delicious, but the "stuff" did take away from the creaminess of the rice, which is my favorite part about risotto. All of the "stuff" makes this a completly healthy one pot meal. No need to feel guilty eating a bowl of risotto for dinner when it's packed full of heart healthy tomatoes and spinach.

On a side note, please continue to put up with me (as my husband so nicely has - thanks!) as I continue to obsess about risotto. I'm not sure how much longer this risotto obsession will last, but I'm enjoying it.

Tomato and Sausage Risotto
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

·2 – 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes
·3 cups water
·1 TBS EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
·½ lb ground pork sausage
·1 medium-small onion, chopped
·1 cup Arborio rice
·½ cup sherry
·1 – 9oz. bag fresh spinach leaves
·¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
·2 TBS butter
·Salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring tomatoes (with juice) and 3 cups of water to a simmer. Cover and keep warm over medium-low heat.

In a large Dutch oven, heat EVOO over medium heat. Add ground sausage and onion; cook until sausage is browned and onion is translucent.

Add rice; stir for 1-2 minutes until rice is toasted. Add sherry and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute.

Add 2 cups of tomato and water mixture to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed; about 4-5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for each cup of liquid to be absorbed before adding the next. Continue to stir frequently. Cook until rice is creamy and al dente; 18-20 minutes after first batch of liquid is added.

Stir in spinach, cheese, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Stir until spinach and wilted and flavors are well combined. Remove from heat and serve.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Torte (Flourless)

This Chocolate Covered Strawberry Torte is decadent, rich, and indulgent! It's the perfect after dinner dessert for Valentine's Day.

What are your Valentine's Day plans? Mike and I are enjoying dinner at home this year, and I couldn't think of any better way to celebrate. Mike is making one of my favorites for dinner - Garlic Chicken to Die For and gluten free spaghetti with marinara sauce. I made him Chocolate Covered Strawberry Torte for dessert. Happy Valentine's Day!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Torte (Flourless)
Based on my Flourless Double Chocolate Torte recipe

·1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces (plus more for the pan)
·¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for the pan and 1 TBS for the strawberries)
·¼ cup half-and-half
·1 cup dark chocolate chips
·5 eggs
·1 cup sugar
·1 cup sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 350˚. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder. In a medium saucepan, heat butter and half-and-half over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth; remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and cocoa powder; whisk in the chocolate mixture.

In a small bowl, toss the sliced strawberries with 1 TBS of cocoa powder. (This helps keep the strawberries from rising to the top as the cake bakes).

Fold the strawberries into the batter mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until puffed and set, 45-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake before removing sides of pan.

I've also shared this recipe on: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays

Monday, February 13, 2012

Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole

Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole is really good, really really good. The casserole consists of cheesy ranch potatoes and spicy buffalo chicken topped with a crunchy cornflake crust. This recipe passed our "As Good As Gluten" test with flying colors.

For more buffalo chicken recipes, check out: Healthier Buffalo Chicken Dip (a definite crowd pleaser), Jalapeno Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese (oh, so incredibly good), Buffalo Chicken Nachos (perfect for sitting in front of the TV watching sports all weekend), Buffalo Chicken (Crockpot) (simple and tasty), Buffalo Chicken Tacos (for blue cheese lovers only), and Hot Buffalo Chicken and Cheddar Sandwich (delicious twist on a classic sandwich).

Buffalo Chicken and Potato Casserole
Inspired by Betty Crocker

·2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
·6 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced into cubes
·½ cup Frank’s red hot sauce
·½ cup ranch dressing
·1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
·1 prepared Cream of Anything Soup Base (recipe below)
·3 celery stocks, finely chopped
·½ cup corn flake crumbs
·2 TBS butter, melted
·3-4 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray one 13x9 baking dish or two 1.5 qt baking dishes with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine potatoes, ranch dressing, shredded cheese, prepared soup base, and celery. Mix well and spoon into baking dish.

In a separate bowl, stir together shredded chicken and red hot sauce. Spoon over potato mixture.

In a small bowl, stir together corn flake crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the chicken in the baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 30-40 minutes longer, or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle the top with green onions and serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Cream of Anything Soup Base
Adapted from One Orange Giraffe Blog

·1 cup non-fat instant dried milk
·¾ cup cornstarch
·1 TBS onion powder
·1 tsp dried basil
·1 tsp dried parsley
·1 tsp cracked black pepper

Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Store in an air-tight container.

To prepare for use in recipes: When ready to use, mix ⅓ cup prepared dry soup mix with 1 cup water in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for one and half minutes, or until thick. Use as a substitute for one can of condensed cream soup.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

Honestly, these Gluten Free Sugar Cookies are As Good As Gluten! They taste exactly the way a sugar cookie should taste - sweet and buttery. The texture is also perfect - tender and flaky.

I was overjoyed making these sugar cookies yesterday because these cookies are made like, look like, and taste like REAL sugar cookies!! Not only did the recipe turn out the very first time, but the dough was easy to roll out. My biggest fear was that the dough would be sticky and impossible to roll out, as gluten free doughs often are. I had a huge smile on my face as I easily rolled out the dough and cut used cookie cutters to make cute heart shapes.

I haven't had a sugar cookie in years, but when these gluten free sugar cookies came out of the oven I was anxious to try one. I patiently waited the appropriate time length to let them cool and was overjoyed again when I took my first bite. They taste just like I remember and have no funky gluten free after-taste! My husband put his seal of approval on these cookies too and confirmed they are As Good As Gluten.

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies
·½ cup butter, softened
·1 cup granulated sugar
·1 egg
·1 tsp pure Mexican vanilla
·1⅓ cup gluten free all-purpose flour blend (I used the blend from Bob's Red Mill)
·½ tsp xanthan gum
·½ tsp baking powder
·½ tsp cream of tarter
·½ tsp salt
·Powdered sugar for rolling cookie dough out
·Sprinkles, optional

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, cream of tarter, and salt. While mixing on medium speed, gradually add dry ingredient mixture to creamed mixture. Chill dough in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375˚. On a surface dusted with powdered sugar, roll chilled cookie dough out to about ¼ - ½ inch thickness. Cut into desired shape. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle the tops with sprinkles. Bake for 7-9 minutes until cookies are lightly browned on the edges. Let cool on the cookie sheet for 20 minutes; then remove to a cooling rack.

Yield: Approximately 24 cookies

I've also shared this recipe on: Go Ahead Honey it's Gluten Free, This Week's Craving, Slightly Indugent Tuesday, Gluten Free Wednesdays

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tomato-Basil Parmesan Soup (Crockpot)

The flavor combination of tomato, basil, and Parmesan cheese in this soup is phenomenal. Dunking a gluten free grilled cheese in the soup sends this meal over the edge.

Can you believe that this is my first experience with tomato soup - EVER?! Traditional canned tomato soup reminds me of watered down ketchup - gross. Thus, in my mind, all tomato soups must be the same. I can't believe it took me a quarter of a century to get over my illogical assumption. This "gourmet" Tomato-Basil Parmesan Soup was so incredibly delicious!

I followed the recipe in the link below pretty closely, except I used brown rice flour to make my roux. After I made the roux of butter and brown rice flour, I added the roux directly into the crockpot and stirred for 3-4 minutes (as opposed to slowly adding the soup to the roux in the saucepan). The other change I made was that I used 1 cup of half and half and 1 cup of skim milk, instead of 2 full cups of half and half.

I'm feeling adventurous and want to try other tomato soups. What are your favorite tomato soup recipes?

Click here for Tomato-Basil Parmesan Soup recipe from Crockpot365

Friday, February 10, 2012

In My Pantry: Synder's of Hanover Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks

My sister discovered Synder's of Hanover Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks a few months ago. I was very impressed that they taste just like real pretzels - crunchy and salty. Lucky for me, my local grocery store carries the pretzels for $2.99 a bag! For once, the gluten-free version is comparably priced with the regular version. My only complaint is the ingredient list contains no gluten free flour substitutes, just starch. They taste great, so I can't complain too much!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. It's a product I bought, loved, and wanted to share with you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Coconut Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Coconut Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies are crunchy, sweet, chocolatey, and chewy. Coconut adds great flavor and texture to the traditional Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie and makes for a delectable cookie!

Coconut Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
·1 cup of creamy peanut butter
·¾ cup sugar
·1 egg
·½ cup sweetened coconut flakes
·24-32 Hershey kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350˚. Cream together sugar and egg, then add peanut butter. Place coconut flakes into a shallow bowl. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in coconut flakes. Place one inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Place an unwrapped Hershey kiss in the center of the cookie as soon as the cookies are removed from the oven. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

Yield: 24-32 cookies

I've also shared this recipe on: Gluten Free Wednesdays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Monday, February 6, 2012

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies have the perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate in every sweet bite.

I visited my family over the weekend and had a great littler helper in the kitchen (thanks, Jillian!) to make these cookies. The classic Peanut Butter Kiss Cookie is easily made gluten free (and As Good As Gluten) with my Easy Peanut Butter Cookie recipe.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
·1 cup of creamy peanut butter
·¾ cup sugar
·1 egg
·24-32 Hershey kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350˚. Cream together sugar and egg, then add peanut butter. Roll cookie dough into 1 inch balls and then place, one inch apart, on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Place an unwrapped Hershey kiss in the center of the cookie as soon as the cookies are removed from the oven. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack.

Yield: 24-32 cookies

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pretzel Crusted Parmesan Pork with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

This meal, prepared by husband, was fantastic! The pork was crispy, flavorful, and juicy. We served with our favorite and easiest way to cook veggies - roasted to perfection.

I'm a very picky pork eater. Pork has to be moist and prepared perfectly, or else I have to drown it with applesauce in order to eat it. This meal was delicious and one I'll definitely be requesting again in the near future. Mike's recipe for Pretzel Crusted Parmesan Pork below can easily be substituted with chicken or fish for an equally tasty meal. 

Pretzel Crusted Parmesan Pork
·2 boneless pork chops/loin chops
·Salt and pepper
·1 slice of gluten free bread, processed into crumbs
·¼ cup gluten free pretzels, processed into crumbs
·½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
·1 egg
·EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Combine the bread crumbs, pretzel crumbs, and Parmesan cheese into a shallow bowl. Crack the egg in a separate shallow bowl and lightly beat. Dip the seasoned pork chops, one at a time, into the egg. Then dip the pork chops in the crumb mixture and coat both sides well. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of EVOO in a non-stick large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the prepared pork chops and cook until golden in color, 3-4 minutes. Flip the pork and cook on the second side until golden and cooked through, 3-4 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings

Roasted Potatoes and Carrots
·2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
·8 oz. frozen carrots
·EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
·1 TBS garlic powder
·1 TBS onion powder
·1 tsp salt
·1 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425˚. In a bowl, toss potatoes, carrots, EVOO, and spices. On a baking sheet, spread veggies in a single layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender and desired crunchiness is obtained.

Yield: 2 servings

I've also shared this recipe on: Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Friday, February 3, 2012

Recipe Semi-Flop: Quinoa Mac & Cheese

Two weeks ago, I came across this recipe for Quinoa Mac & Cheese. I've never tried quinoa before, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a chance. I was very excited for a healthier mac & cheese recipe, until I took my first bite. It was dry and bland. It wasn't bad enough not to eat, it just lacked a lot of moisture and flavor. My husband completely disagrees and thinks it is inedible. He was a trooper and choked down his portion that he claims "tastes like dirt."

I made a few revisions to the recipe, but I don't think the revisions I made would explain the lack of moisture and flavor. The original recipe calls for white quinoa, but I had red quinoa in my pantry. Instead of leeks and tomatoes, I chopped a whole yellow onion. I also added a half a cup of sweet potato puree to the cheese mixture. And, I sprinkled extra cheddar cheese on top.

Despite my high expectations for this dish, this recipe is a semi-flop in my book. It's not bad enough not to eat, but I wouldn't recommend it either. I still think the concept of Quinoa Mac & Cheese has some potential, so I may revisit this on my own and try to develop my own recipe some day. It'll be awhile though, as it will take some convincing to get my husband to ever try it again. If it doesn't taste As Good As Gluten, he's not in. I don't blame him.

What are some of your favorite quinoa dishes? I'm anxious to give quinoa another try with a no-fail recipe!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Caramelized Carrot Risotto

To continue with my risotto obsession, this Caramelized Carrot Risotto is sweet, creamy, and flavorful. If you've been afraid to try risotto, you need to overcome your fear and try it. If I can make it, I promise you can too!

Caramelized Carrot Risotto
Adapted from Fake Ginger
·2 TBS EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), divided
·3 TBS butter, divided
·1 – 16oz. bag frozen carrots, partially thawed and finely chopped
·3¾ cups water, divided
·½ tsp salt
·1 tsp sugar
·3½ cups chicken broth
·1 small onion, chopped
·1½ cups Arborio rice
·½ cup sherry
·½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
·½ tsp ground thyme
·Salt and pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 TBS EVOO and 1 TBS butter over medium heat. Add carrots and stir with a spoon until well coated. Add ½ cup water, salt, and sugar; cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates and carrots are starting to brown. Reserve half of the carrots. In a blender, puree the other half of the carrots with ¾ cup hot water.

In a small saucepan, bring chicken broth and 2½ cups water to a simmer. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

Heat remaining EVOO and butter over medium heat in the (unwashed) Dutch oven. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add rice, stirring with a spoon to coat for 1 minute. Add sherry and stir until sherry evaporates. Add carrot puree and stir until mixture no longer looks soupy.

Add ½ cup of hot broth mixture, stirring often, until rice absorbs most of the liquid. Repeat this process, adding ½ cup broth at a time and stirring often until each addition of liquid is absorbed before adding the next, until rice is al dente (about 18-20 minutes).

Stir in reserved carrots, Parmesan cheese, and ground thyme. Add up to 1 cup of broth (¼ cup at a time) to loosen the risotto. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Yield: 6 servings