Sunday, September 27, 2009

Basil Pesto

As happy as I was a few months ago when all of my little herb seedlings started sprouting up, I was beyond thrilled when I finally got to use them. This weekend I put some of my fragrant basil to use and made a delicious pasta with basil pesto and grilled chicken. I found myself licking the spatula to make sure there wasn't a drop wasted and didn't even get a picture of it plated up because we couldn't wait to dive in.

I tend to only make pesto in the summer when I have my own basil so I never remember what recipe I like to use. This time I started with a Giada De Laurentiis pesto recipe from Everyday Italian.

Spaghetti with Basil Pesto & Grilled Chicken
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove (I used 2 or 3 - love garlic!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more
1 pkg. Mrs. Leeper's corn spaghetti, cooked al dente (reserve 1 cup of pasta water)
2 chicken breasts, grilled and torn or cut into bite-sized pieces

Pulse basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in food processor until finely chopped. Gradually add olive oil while continuing to blend until it reaches a smooth and thick consistency. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add pesto to pasta and mix. Add enough pasta water to thin to desired sauce consistency. Toss in chicken breast and serve topped with fresh grated Parmesan.

"Basil - an Indispensable Herb of French Cuisine." Online Image. French Culinary Blog - Made in Cantal. No date. 9-27-09 .

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Speedy Chicken Pasta

When I need a quick meal that I know the boys will eat this chicken pasta is on that go-to list. Not only does it go together quickly but I feel much better serving this over take-out. I use a jarred sauce, if I don't have any homemade marinara in the freezer, and then add fresh herbs and flaxseed meal to give it a boost.

Speedy Chicken Pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jar pasta sauce - I like Classico Sweet Basil
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
salt & fresh ground black pepper
optional: crushed red pepper
Mrs. Leeper's corn spaghetti, cooked al dente
Parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pan and add onions, garlic and chicken. Cook until onions are translucent and chicken is cooked through. Add sauces, basil, oregano, flaxseed meal, basil and oregano. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 5-10 minutes.

Add cooked pasta and serve topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cinnamon Puffs

Cinnamon puffs/muffins are the most requested item at our house (The kids know they have a better chance of getting these over cinnamon rolls). I think the boys would eat them every day for breakfast if I would make them. It is now one of those recipes I could almost make in my sleep and know it is a memory of childhood that Noah and Joshua will carry with them forever.

They are always a crowd pleaser if you need to provide a breakfast item and couldn't be cuter when made with the mini muffin pan. At home they are often requested "big" which is fine with me since that means they are less time consuming to make. Either way these puffs/muffins will be devoured and leave you hearing cries of dismay when there are none leftover for breakfast the next day.

Cinnamon Puffs
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour Mix*
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 rounded teaspoon egg replacer
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 350º. Spray mini muffin pan or 9 regular muffin cups with cooking spray. In large bowl mix together shortening, 1/2 cup sugar and egg. In separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, egg replacer, salt, and nutmeg. Stir flour mix into large bowl, alternating with milk. Fill muffin cups about two thirds full. Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes mini muffins or 22-25 minutes for regular muffins. Mix 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Immediately after baking, roll puffs in melted butter, then in cinnamon & sugar mixture. Serve with a large glass of milk!
**Rebecca Reilly Brown Rice Flour Mix**
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ice Cream Sandwiches

I come from a family that enjoys ice cream. I mean REALLY enjoys ice cream. We make homemade ice cream, we created a Father's day video that included my dad's love of Dairy Queen ice cream, and I believe strawberries and ice cream were served at every summer family gathering my Grandma and Grandpa ever had. It should come as no surprise then that I was elated to discover these ice cream molds by Tovolo on Amazon. Making ice cream sandwiches could not be simpler with molds that cut out your cookie shape and squish your cookie and ice cream together into a perfect little sandwich. The trick to the perfect sandwich is rolling your cookie dough thin enough. If it's too thick you end up with a sandwich that's too wide to bite. This summer I made a double batch for Noah's pool party using the chocolate chip cookie recipe in Rebecca Reilly's Gluten-Free Baking cookbook. They were fabulous. Make some for your family before the last heat wave of summer ends.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
2 1/4 cups Brown Rice Flour Mix*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Cream the butter until white. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing. Whisk together dry ingredients and slowly add to wet. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Refrigerate at least one hour before baking.

Preheat oven to 350º and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place half of cookie dough on parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap. With rolling pin, flatten into rectangle shape as thin as possible. Remove plastic wrap and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool 2-3 minutes then use molds to cut out cookie shapes. Repeat with other half of cookie dough. Cool cookies completely before using molds to build ice cream sandwich. Optional: press ice cream edges with mini chocolate chips. Wrap sandwiches individually in plastic wrap and freeze at least 2 hours before serving.

*Rebecca Reilly Brown Rice Flour Mix*
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lime Pie

Another taste of summer. Everyone loves this pie and I love how quickly it can be put together. It's the perfect dessert on a hot day.

Lime Pie
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 cup frozen whipped topping plus more to top, thawed
1 baked pie crust or graham cracker crust, cooled

Beat milk and lime juice in a large bowl until smooth. Add lime zest. Fold in 1 cup whipped topping and spoon mixture into pie crust. Spread whipped topping over the pie filling and grate a little lime zest over the whipped topping. Refrigerate for about two hours or until set.

9 inch Pie Crust
1 cup Domata Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
3 tablespoons cold water

Mix Domata flour and salt together. Cut in shortening until pieces are the size of peas. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened. Roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap then line pie plate. Crimp edges, prick bottom and sides with fork and bake at 475º for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

Graham Cracker Crust
1 box S'moreables by Kinnikinnick, or 1 1/2 cups of favorite GF graham cracker
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º. Mix S'moreables in food processor until finely ground. Add powdered sugar and butter and pulse until well blended. Pat into pie pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely before filling.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto

We love risotto. This risotto is a treat when asparagus first arrives in late spring and is still lovely throughout summer. Give it a try before all the asparagus is gone.

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

5 cups chicken broth, simmering
1/2 cup dry white wine or broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup finely minced onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 lb. fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, tips reserved separately
1/2 lb. cooked shrimp
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil in a heavy pot over moderate heat. Add the onion and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until it begins to soften, being careful not to brown. Add the rice ; using a wooden spoon, stir for 1 minute, making sure all the grains are well coated. Add the wine and stir until it is completely absorbed.

Add the asparagus, reserving the tips, and begin to add the simmering broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup, reserving 1/4 cup to add at the end. Add the shrimp and asparagus tips after the rice has been cooking for 10 to 12 minutes and continue to add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

After approximately 18 minutes, when the rice is tender but still firm, reserved broth. Turn off the heat an immediately add the remaining butter and Parmesan and stir vigorously to combine with the rice. Serve immediately.

* Adapted from an Asparagus recipe in Risotto by Judith Barrett and Norma Wasserman

What Can I Eat That's Gluten Free? is hosted by Linda at the Gluten-Free Homemaker.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries with dipping sauce are a new favorite around here. Okay, I'm still working on the boys, but I love them! Even though I know that sweet potatoes are better for you than regular potatoes, I've had a hard time making the switch because they are so sweet. I've tried them in the past and have always been disappointed that I couldn't make them more savory. That struggle ended after browsing recipes at Emeril Green and finding this one for Sweet Potatoes Fries with Two Dipping Sauces. Intrigued, I decided to give sweet potatoes another try and I am hooked! I also have high hopes that the boys will soon be converted to the sweet potato fry because they have trouble resisting anything that can be dipped. Who doesn't?

The following is my adaptation of Emeril's recipe.

Sweet Potato Fries
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes
  • cooking spray
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt to taste
(dipping sauce recipes below)

Preheat oven to 450º. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Cut sweet potatoes into french fry sticks and toss with olive oil. Lay flat on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping potatoes half-way through cooking. Bake until caramelized and evenly browned.

Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
  • 3/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon lime zest

Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce
  • everything from the above sauce
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
We love the chipotle pepper version. It adds just the right amount of heat. Yum!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

A sure sign that summer is close at hand is the appearance of rhubarb. My mom made a strawberry-rhubarb pie that was so good over Memorial weekend that I had to make one at home only days later. The Domata flour makes an unbelievably light and flakey crust that doesn't get too dark. This pie is best when served warm with homemade ice cream but is still fabulous when eaten cold, straight out of the dish.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

1-2 cups sliced, fresh strawberries
3 cup rhubarb, cut in 1/4-1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons tapioca flour

1 double pie crust (recipe below)

Mix to coat fruit. Let stand 20 minutes. Line pie plate with half of rolled pie crust. Fill with fruit mixture. Dot with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Cover with second half of rolled pie crust and seal (pinching edges together). Cut slits into top crust and bake at 400º for 35-40 minutes.

9 Inch Double Pie Crust
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4-5 tablespoons cold water

10 Inch Double Pie Crust
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
7-8 tablespoons cold water

Mix Domata flour and salt together. Cut in shortening until pieces are the size of peas. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened. Divide pastry in half and shape into two rounds. Roll one round out between two pieces of plastic wrap and line pie plate. Roll second round out and place over filled pie. Seal edges together by pinching into V shape.

Friday, May 29, 2009

1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes

With more and more gluten-free cookbooks on the market it might be hard to know where to start. Now, that question has been answered. Carol Fenster has written a comprehensive gluten-free cookbook that will keep your table filled with scrumptious gluten-free cuisine. From muffins, yeast breads and desserts to main dishes of every variety you will find them all in 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes

My family already has favorites like Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Savory Biscotti Sticks or Shrimp Vindaloo. We pretended we were in the French Quarter when we fried up Beignets and the Nebraska Runzas were delicious! 

With such an abundance of recipes, converting old recipes can become a thing of the past - Carol's already done the work for you! Whether you are looking for a special holiday dish or planning daily meals you will find what you need. To learn more about Carol Fenster and her books visit her web site Savory Palate, Inc. and follow her blog at Eat Free, Live Free.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Basil, Cilantro and Parsley, Oh My!

I get enormous pleasure when I see all my little herb seedlings growing. They couldn't have been easier this year with this greenhouse kit (purchased at Lowe's for $6.97). 

Last year I started seeds in egg cartons which might have been environmentally friendly, but were messy and hard to move. This greenhouse didn't even need more water until the lid was finally removed and they were ready to be transplanted into bigger containers. I have cilantro, Italian parsley, thyme, rosemary, basil and dill. There were plenty of seeds left to start a second batch later this summer. If I actually accomplish this I could have herbs through the winter. 

I love to cook with fresh herbs and am already thinking about the basil pesto and marinades that will be made with these plants. What do you like to do with herbs?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Needing cookies for lunches I scoured the cupboard to see what I had to make. Discovering a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips I adapted the recipe on the back to be GF and made these. They are soft and chewy and a welcome change from our standard chocolate chip cookie.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups GF flour mix (I used Rebecca Reilly's Brown Rice Mix*)
3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups (10 oz. pkg.) peanut butter chips

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl whisk together GF flour , cocoa, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt. Gradually add dry mixture to wet, beating well. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Refrigerate one hour.

Heat oven to 350º. Use cookie scoop to drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 9 minutes. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

**Rebecca Reilly Brown Rice Flour Mix**
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chipotle Hummus

Hummus is inexpensive to make and it seems silly to me, now that I have an awesome food processor, to buy little containers of it for almost $4 when I can make a greater quantity for so much less at home. This is our favorite flavor right now.

Chipotle Hummus
 1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, drained but save juice to thin hummus
1/4 cup roasted tahini 
1 chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Place chickpeas, tahini, chipotle pepper, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt cumin, coriander, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. While pureeing, add enough chickpea juice to reach desired consistency. 

Serve with tortilla chips or vegetables.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Making Vegetables Interesting Again

I have to admit that although I love vegetables, I don't often do anything very exciting with them. Typically they are steamed, and by steamed I mean microwaved, and served with spray butter. BORING! In the summer they are spruced up a little when they are grilled and occasionally roasted. 

The reason for this, I believe, is that by the time I've made a main dish I'm usually done being creative and cooking. It's all to easy to pull out that bag of frozen vegetables and pop them in the microwave. 

As the days have warmed up, I find myself fantasizing about all the yummy vegetables to be purchased at the farmers market and wondering how I might jazz up our vegetables. When I came across this recipe for Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetables from Giada De Laurentiis, I had to give it a try. Although the boys would only eat a red pepper strip out of it, Rich and I loved it. I'm sure it will be even better when fresh, local produce is available.

Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetables 

  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 5 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons halved pitted small black olives, such as kalamata
  • 2 tablespoons halved pitted green olives
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt for seasoning, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, ends trimmed and discarded, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 yellow summer squash, ends trimmed and discarded, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch strips
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. In a medium skillet, heat remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent and tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the warm vegetables to the oil mixture and toss until coated. 

Transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.

**We had this with fish and garlic pasta. It was also delicious mixed in with the pasta.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Banana Muffins

I find it amusing that my boys refuse to eat bananas but love banana bread, banana cake and banana muffins. In fact, they regularly request them and we often have over-ripe bananas in the fruit bowl for this very purpose.

This is my favorite banana muffin recipe. Adding ground flaxseed gives them a healthy kick. They also freeze and travel beautifully.

Banana Muffins

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, peeled and mashed
1/2 cup *buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
2 egg whites
Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

*Optional: replace with milk, rice or soy milk and add 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Lightly spray 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. 

Mix together the brown rice flour mix, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, xanthan gum, and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients.

Whisk together the bananas, milk, oil, egg whites and lemon juice. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake on the middle rack for 24 minutes or until done.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

These are the best cinnamon rolls in the world! I'm not kidding. They are not gigantic with an inch of frosting but instead can be eaten in a couple of bites. I'm not sure where the recipe originated, but it has been in my family for at least four generations. I remember eating them whenever we would go to my grandma's house. They were always ready and waiting in containers on the counter. I've watched my mom make them countless times for different occasions or even just as a special treat. They were always a birthday request and remind me of my childhood and family. Now they are a favorite of my children.

When you make these cinnamon rolls, it is an absolute must to eat them warm out of the oven with freshly added frosting and nuts on top. (Okay, you can omit the nuts or even the frosting if you're Rich, but I think that's all crazy talk.) They almost melt in your mouth. 

Now I make them gluten free and they are just as amazing. Break out your rolling pin and give them a try. Plan ahead because they need to be started the night before.

Cinnamon Rolls
1 package Active Dry Yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons
1/2 cup warm water (110º)
4 cups Domata All Purpose Flour (For those that aren't GF just use regular flour.)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 cup heated milk
1-2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
powdered sugar frosting (recipe below)
walnuts, ground

In a small bowl, stir yeast in warm water until dissolved. In separate bowl mix Domata flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Cut in 1 cup of butter with pastry blender until pea-sized crumbs are formed. In a large bowl beat eggs. To eggs gradually add hot milk. Cool to luke warm and add yeast. Add flour mixture and stir. Dough will be really soft. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Divide dough into quarters. Roll 1/4 at a time into a thin rectangle (18 X 10). Butter dough (2-4 tablespoons) and top with sugar and cinnamon. (We like a lot of cinnamon. Less is still tasty.)

Sprinkle on a little water then roll up.

Cut roll into 12 pieces and place on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet (cut side down). Gently flatten each roll with the palm of your hand and bake immediately at 400º for 12 minutes.

Top with powdered sugar frosting and nuts.

Melt together 1/2 cup milk and 4 tablespoons unsalted butter. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and enough powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.