Monday, October 27, 2008

Sage and Parsley Chicken with Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Gravy

Mmmm, sage. While I was visiting some friends in Champaign-Urbana a few weeks ago, we went out to a farm in the area and picked bags of fresh herbs. I picked what seemed like a scant amount of sage, but it turns out, I have more of the stuff than I know what to do with. I used part of it in my Butternut Risotto last week, but that still left me with 90% of what I had originally bought. My boss was telling me this week about baked herbed chicken made with a wine gravy that she's tried before, and that sounded pretty good to me, so I thought I'd give it a whirl with the fresh herbs that I happened to have in my kitchen: sage, of course, and parsley. It turned into a very 'comfort food' kind of meal; a steaming mound of mashed potatoes, a tender chicken breast, and a smooth and delicious gravy to top it all off. I made this for two people, and the amount of potatoes was actually just right (although we had an extra serving of gravy leftover). But obviously, you can adjust this to accommodate a larger dinner crowd very easily. The gravy is made with cornstarch, by the way, but feel free to subsitute another starch (arrowroot, perhaps) if you are avoiding corn. Using only cornstarch, I discovered, will also give your gravy a nice little sheen, so if you'd like it to look less....shiny, I would combine the cornstarch with sweet rice flour or some other starch to tone it down. All of the seasonings are approximate and you should add more or less depending on your own taste. I personally could have done with a little more sage on my chicken, but that's just me. I also think this would have turned out just as wonderfully if the chicken had been cooked entirely in the frying pan and been allowed to brown a little more. So experiment with it, and enjoy!

Sage and Parsley Chicken with Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Gravy

For the chicken:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 - 1 tsp. lemon juice

For the gravy:

8 oz. gluten-free chicken broth (I used Pacific Chicken Broth)
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 - 1/2 cup hot water
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. fresh sage
1 tsp. fresh garlic

For the potatoes:

22-oz. package of Red Creamer Potatoes (625 g), chopped into halves or quarters with the skins still on (or off, if you don't like them)
1/4 - 1/2 cup soy milk (or other thick non-dairy milk)
3 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2 -3 tbsp. minced garlic (depending on your own taste)
1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
Salt, white and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Chop potatoes and place them in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil while you're working on the chicken and gravy.

Combine the fresh sage, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice in a bowl, and then coat each piece of chicken in the mixture and place in a skillet. Saute the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side so that it gets a little brown, then place them in a small baking dish and place in the oven at 450 F for 20 - 25 minutes. I covered mine with foil, but feel free to bake uncovered or to remove the foil after 10 minutes to allow the chicken to brown a little.

In the same pan in which the chicken was sauteed, place the remaining 1 tbsp. sage and 1 tsp. minced garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add the 1/3 cup white wine, bring to a simmer, and heat for another 1 - 2 minutes. In a small jar, combine the 2 tbsp. cornstarch with at least half of the chicken broth and shake it up to mix the cornstarch into the liquid. Add this to the pan, and then add the other half of the chicken broth, stirring constantly to avoid clumping. As the mixture thickens, add the hot water little by little until you've reached your desired consistency and taste.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain the water and mash them up with a masher or fork. In a small pan, heat the Earth Balance Buttery Spread with 2-3 tbsp. minced garlic (depending on how strong of a garlic flavor you'd like) and the fresh sage and parsley. Saute for about 2 - 3 minutes, and then add all of it to the mashed potatoes and stir in. Add the soy milk a little at a time, stirring it in thoroughly, until you've reached the desired whipped consistency. Add salt, white pepper, and black pepper to taste. Remove the chicken from the oven once it is thoroughly baked and serve with the smashed potatoes and gravy to top it all.

Pumpkin Cake with Maple Frosting

This was another winner from Karina's Kitchen, one of my favorite gluten-free blogs. Karina's blog is great because not only does she offer a ton of delicious gluten-free recipes, but a lot of them are dairy-free as well. After the Brown Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Bars I made from her site were such a huge hit, and because I love pumpkin desserts, I immediately set out to make another one of Karina's recipes. You can find the recipe for Maple Frosted Pumpkin Cake here on her blog. I used one 8-oz. package of Tofutti "Better Than Cream Cheese" instead of regular cream cheese, and Earth Balance Buttery Spread instead of butter, but other than that, I made it exactly as Karina told me to. This cake is moist and rich in flavor, and the frosting is absolutely to die for, rolling down the sides of each piece in big dollops, fluffy-looking yet velvety rich and smooth. (I would be absolutely shocked if anyone could tell that it is dairy-free.) This would be a great dessert to bring to Thanksgiving in lieu of traditional pumpkin bread.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

(Halloween) Stuffed Peppers

In the town where I spent most of middle school and all of high school, there is a huge Halloween parade on the 31st. Everyone goes. And no one is at home for trick-or-treaters. So at some point, the town came to an understanding that trick-or-treating would be expanded to the 30th and, for the few brave souls who wanted to try their luck with the mostly empty houses, the 31st as well. My younger sister's birthday is October 30th, and when we were still young enough to go trick-or-treating (and I'm not going to lie; that tradition lasted way beyond respectability with me and my cousin Erin, who were known to trick-or-treat at quite a ripe old age), my family would invite our cousins over every year on her birthday. We'd all have big steaming bowls of stuffed peppers with pumpernickel bread, and then we'd head out to collect our booty. We did this every year for as long as I can remember, to the point where this dish is synonymous with Halloween for me. Well, I got my annual hankering for stuffed peppers this week, and this weekend, Andrew and I made a huge pot of them. Being the good spice-fearing people that they are, my family would never add cayenne pepper to these, but I thought a dash would add a nice kick and round out the flavor a bit, which it did. Give these peppers an hour and a half to stew and you will not be disappointed with the rich flavor that develops! I brought some to share with some of the people I volunteer with, and they thought the sauce could be very versatile; some suggestions included to use it as a pasta sauce, over spaghetti squash, in a lasagna, over rice, or as a pizza sauce. It really is that good. But it's also perfectly delicious on its own. There is an excellent chance that you won't want to stop eating these and may in fact lick the plate shamelessly -- which is why I would suggest making a huge pot and living off of them for a week or so until you're peppered out.

Halloween Stuffed Peppers

2 lbs of ground meat (I used lean turkey)
1 egg 1 - 1 1/4 cups gluten-free oats OR rice 5-7 bell peppers, any color
1 very large can of tomato juice
Tomato sauce to fill a large pot (I used 4 15-oz. cans)
2 - 3 tbsp. each of oregano, basil, black pepper, minced onion, onion salt, divided and to taste
dash of cayenne pepper

Mix roughly 2 tbsp. each of oregano, basil, and minced onion into the meat, and about 1 tsp. each of black pepper and onion salt (or to taste) into the ground turkey. Add the egg and oats and mix into the meat. Use your hands or a spoong to work it into the meat thoroughly.

Wash the bell peppers and remove the stems and all seeds and flaps of skin from each of them. Pack each pepper with meat and form the leftover meat mixture into large meatballs.

Place it all into a heavy bottomed pan with the peppers on the bottom. Pour the large can of tomato juice and the 4 cans of tomato sauce into a large bowl, and add the same spices that you added to the meat to the sauce to taste (I added about 1 1/2 tbsp. each of oregano, basil, minced onion, and onion salt, 1 tsp. black pepper and about 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper). You can always adjust the seasoning to your taste after it has simmered for a while. Pour the spiced tomato sauce over the peppers and meatballs, and if the sauce does not yet cover all of them, add another can of tomato sauce.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for about 1 ½ - 2 hours. This is a hearty meal on its own, so you don't have to serve it with anything else, but my family traditionally served it with pumpernickel bread (for the gluten eaters out there). Otherwise, I'd imagine that Beth's Yankee Cornbread Mix would go very nicely with this dish.

*If you want to use beef, lean hamburger meat cuts down on frothing that regular-fat beef can cause.
*If you want to make this vegetarian or vegan, rice can be used instead of meat altogether.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Peanut Butter Oat Chocolate Chip Bars

Have I mentioned enough times that I love peanut butter? As in, LOVE it? These bars turned out to be slightly crumbly, but stayed put together for the most part, and turned out to be completely delicious -- and even better on the second day. Good enough to bring to serve to mixed company for sure (gluten-free or otherwise). They got rave reviews when I brought them around to people at work! If you like peanut butter, you will love the flavor of these bars, made even chewier by the gluten-free rolled oats I added in. [A word of caution about oats: not every celiac can tolerate them well, especially if you've just been diagnosed, so you may want to talk to your doctor before using them. If you don't want to use oats, try quinoa flakes or coconut flakes in this recipe instead!] If you are allergic to nuts, try using sunbutter instead of peanut butter here. I added Hazelnut milk because I'd never tried it before and thought it might add a nice touch, but I think this would work fine with any other kind of vanilla non-dairy milk, especially a thicker one like soy milk. If you want something less cakey and more fudge-like in its consistency, try using only one egg instead of two. Enjoy these while they last because it won't be for long!

Peanut Butter Oat Chocolate Chip Bars

3/4 cups all-natural peanut butter (I used creamy Smuckers, but my favorite is Trader Joe's brand)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup gluten-free oats
1/4 cups oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)
3/8 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread, softened
1/4 cup Pacific Hazelnut milk (or other milk substitute of your choice)
2 eggs (for vegan bars, replace with 3 tsp. + 4 tbsp. warm water)
2 tsp. gluten-free vanilla
1 1/2 cups Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix (or another gf flour mix of your choice, especially if you cannot tolerate dairy; consider using 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, and 1/2 cup brown rice flour with 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. xanthan gum, and 1/4 tsp. salt)
6 oz. dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Chips)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all wet ingredients ingredients together, then add the flour and finally the chocolate chips. Spread into a 9 x 13 pan that has been greased or sprayed with cooking spray on the bottom. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Cool and cut into slices. Store in an airtight container and freeze any slices you won't eat within 2 days.

**This would also be tasty with any other kind of chips you think would complement the peanut butter flavor!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brown Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Bars by the Gluten-free Goddess

When fall comes around, all I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen, stirring, chopping, whipping, spreading, mixing, simmering, and smelling all of the different telltale whiffs of the season. Autumn is my favorite time of year because it is such a colorful season, both indoors and out. As the leaves are changing colors outside, there is also a flurry of colors inside the kitchen - bright orange pumpkins, soft beige butternut squash, green beans, plump red apples, juicy blackberries, sweet yellow corn. To me, there is something very cozy about holing yourself up in the kitchen on a cold day to cook and bake, humming along to your favorite music. For me, pumpkin is so much of what I love about fall, and I will try just about anything that contains it. So when I was poring over the wealth of recipes on Karina's blog (a.k.a. The Gluten-Free Goddess) and found this recipe for Brown Sugar and Spice Pumpkin Bars, I knew I had to give them a try. And they are scrumptious. I don't often use that word, actually, and I'm a little surprised myself that that's the first word that came to mind. The pumpkin in these holds them together beautifully, so they are not crumbly like so many gluten-free desserts tend to be. The icing is a wonderful complement to the flavor of the bars themselves. These taste just like the gluten-ful pumpkin cookies I made last year for Thanksgiving, and I can see them being a dangerous thing to have sitting around my kitchen, taunting me with their fabulous flavor. I brought them to share with some of the other people I volunteer with last night, and it was fun to watch their faces go from dubious to shocked at how good these tasted (they know about my dietary restrictions and have low expectations for the quality of anything I am actually able to eat). They actually liked them and ate almost all of them! So I hope you will give these a try, because they are sure to be a hit.

You can make these vegan by using egg replacer as a substitute for the eggs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oatmeal Pancakes with Fresh Raspberry Compote

Oh, my goodness, these were good. Inspired by a recipe I found on one of my favorite sites, The Gluten Free Girl's blog, I set out to make these last night with a few tweaks, intrigued by how oatmeal-inspired pancakes could turn out. You see, oatmeal is another one of my favorite foods; I ate it for more than one meal a day sometimes in the days before my diagnosis because it was the only thing that would soothe my stomach. I have missed it dearly, and even though I have had a big bag of gluten-free oats sitting on my counter for months now, I only recently broke it open. I've heard that some people with gluten intolerance have bad reactions to oats if they try to eat them right away, so I wanted to give my body time to recover a bit before I started testing it with oats again. I wasn't overly impressed with the oats that I used when I had them as a bowl of oatmeal, but man, was I blown away by these pancakes. I like my oatmeal with cinnamon, brown sugar, and maple syrup (incredibly healthy, eh?), so I sprinkled some cinnamon and brown sugar onto the pan and poured the batter over it, which allowed it to crisp up into that delectable photo-worthy pancake you see above. I also tried one with peanut butter spread over it (it may be weird, but I love peanut butter on pancakes. Add it to my very extensive list of food quirks) and one with the raspberry compote that you see in the photo, but my personal favorite was the plain cinnamon-brown sugar combination because it really tasted like I was eating a steaming bowl of oatmeal. The raspberry compote was delicious, but I found that it drowned out that delicate flavor that I had been looking for when I made the pancakes. But by all means, use it if that's what your taste buds tell you!

Oatmeal Pancakes (as seen on Gluten Free Girl's website, but with a few modifications)

1/2 cup Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix (these contain a bit of dairy, so use another mix if needed)
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3/4 cups dry gluten-free oats, cooked as directed (roughly 2 cups cooked oatmeal)
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp. cinnamon + 1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. brown sugar
Cooking spray, butter, or oil

Cook the oats as directed. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Add the soy milk to the oatmeal and stir, allowing to cool for a few minutes. Mix the beaten eggs into the oatmeal and then add the flour mixture to it. Add the cooking spray or oil to the pan and sprinkle some cinnamon and brown sugar onto it, and then pour 1/4 cup pancake batter over it. Cook over medium heat until small air bubbles appear on the pancakes (don't touch them before then!) and then flip them over and cook for another 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately, topped with maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon, or the raspberry compote seen below. I made the entire batch of these, which made about 10 smaller pancakes, and I only ate 2 of them, so I froze them in baggies in pairs and plan to toast them when I'm ready to eat them.

Fresh Raspberry Compote (Also inspired by the Gluten-free Girl's recipe for Blueberry Compote but with a few tweaks)

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup fresh raspberries, divided
1 cinnamon stick
2 - 3 tbsp. cornstarch, as needed
2 tbsp. water

Combine the orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring. Add half the raspberries, reduce heat, and simmer until they have broken down and are falling apart. Add the rest of the raspberries and continue to heat for 1 - 2 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Combine 1 - 2 tbsp. cornstarch with 1 - 2 tbsp. water and dribble it into the raspberry mixture a little at a time, stirring, until you have achieved the consistency you want. Once it has thickened to your liking, remove from heat and set aside until you are ready to use it.

Butternut Risotto

I think sometimes I get more email from the various cooking website or food blogs that I follow than I do from my actual friends and family. And that's a little unsettling to think about. But sometimes it works out well, like in the case of this delicious risotto that I tried out last night. I had spent the last week or so in constant movement, going places, was on the road to see friends this weekend, and was barely at home all week. Last night, I decided I needed a whole night of nothing but me and some recipes, cooking and baking while I watched the nightly news in the kitchen. So last night, I ended up with a huge batch of oatmeal pancakes with a raspberry compote, a tray of pumpkin bars with brown sugar and spice icing, and a giant vat of butternut risotto. Part of the reason I wanted to cook so much food is that this week will be another busy one, and I wanted to take care of preparing some of my meals in advance. But really, that's just a fringe benefit - cooking and baking is my therapy, and I needed a long session of it last night. Nothing relaxes me quite like the rhythmic motion of chopping vegetables, whipping together some cake batter, or stirring a simmering pot of something delicious. Even though I didn't eat this for dinner last night (since it didn't get done until about 10 p.m.), I did taste it, and I can definitely recommend giving this recipe a try! Even if you're not a huge fan of butternut squash, the flavor of it was not too potent, and it added a nice creamy texture that was wonderful. You can find the recipe here on the Cooking Light website; all I did was change the Parmesan cheese to Vegan Parmesan Topping and added more spices than what the recipe called for, as follows: 4 cups low-salt chicken broth (I used Organic Pacific Chicken Broth) 1 1/3 cups water 1 small leek, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup thinly sliced celery 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio or other short-grain rice 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh sage 1/3 cup dry white wine 2 - 4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut or other winter squash (about 2 pounds) 1 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup Vegan Parmesan Topping 2 -3 teaspoons lemon juice 3/4 - 1 teaspoon white pepper Combine chicken broth and water in a large bowl and set aside. Cut leek crosswise into thin slices. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and celery, and sauté 2 minutes. Add rice and sage, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 cup broth mixture, squash, and salt, and cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, and cook until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes). Stir in Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and pepper. Season to taste and serve.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Indian Dal

I made this dal to go along with my Indian potatoes, and after letting it simmer for a good 40 minutes, it turned into just the consistency I wanted: a dense, thick porridge-like stew that was rich in flavor and was the perfect complement to the potatoes. I hope you enjoy!

Indian Dal

1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 red chile (or 2 if you're feeling the need for some extra spice)
1 tbsp. chopped jalapeno or hot pepper
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. salt
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup yellow lentils
2 cups gluten-free chicken or vegetable broth (I used Pacific Chicken Broth)
1/2 - 1 tsp. garam masala

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and the red chile, and continue to heat for about 1 1/2 minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add the garlic, jalapeno, ginger, and turmeric and continue to heat for another minute. Add the onion and salt, reduce heat, and saute until the onion begins to turn translucent.

Add the yellow lentils to the pot and stir into the onion mixture, and then add 1 cup of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, add the 1/2 - 1 tsp. garam masala, then cover and simmer until most of the broth has been absorbed. Add the other cup of chicken broth, and do the same: bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer. Feel free to add more garam masala if you would like a stronger flavor (I did!).

Once the lentils begin to get soft (this took about 30 minutes for me), you can remove the lid and let some of the liquid evaporate so it will become thicker and less soupy. Serve with Indian bread, rhoti, or with rice. Or with Indian-spiced potatoes!

Roasted Potatoes with North Indian Spices

I have been craving these potatoes ever since the last time I made them (which was for my friends Reena and Lisa). Spicy and bursting with flavor, they are everything I love about Indian food. Crispy on the outside and wonderfully tender on the inside, these are absolutely delicious; the flavors unravel in your mouth as each spice reveals itself. These are some seriously bold potatoes. So since I just happened to have bought some fresh mint last weekend, and since I still have some cilantro left from my carrot soup, tonight was the night for these. At the same time, however, I did not want to have a dinner comprised solely of a giant bowl of potatoes. So I got a little creative and used some yellow lentils to make myself a dal to go along with them. I used most of the same spices that the potatoes call for, and it turned into a deliciously thick stew-like consistency. It was dense enough that you could eat it with naan (if you can eat naan, that is). The potatoes and lentils were wonderful together, and if you like spicy, you will love this.

Roasted Potatoes with North Indian Spices

3 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
1 3/4 teaspoons black mustard seeds
6 dried red chiles
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)
8 lime wedges (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.  Combine 1 tablespoon oil and potatoes, tossing to coat. Set aside.

Heat remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons oil, mustard seeds, and chiles in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until seeds begin to pop. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add ginger, garlic, and jalapeño to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, turmeric, and Garam Masala; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add spice mixture to potatoes, tossing to coat. Arrange potato mixture in a single layer in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 400° for 25 - 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, browned, and crisp, stirring every 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, mint, and juice, if desired. Serve with lime wedge.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Namaste Blondies

Um....yum. So far I have been nothing but impressed with Namaste's gluten-free mixes (and by the way, they're dairy-free, soy-free, and corn-free as well). I made their brownies a few weeks ago, which were so delicious that I don't think they lasted more than 2 days...if that. So I had high expectations for their other products, and I definitely was not disappointed with these! I baked them for slightly less time than was called for so they'd be gooier, and I added Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips to the batter. As an afterthought, I bet these would have been amazing with some peanut butter swirled in, too. Or with butterscotch chips. Possibly with chocolate and marshmallow swirl. Or, with chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and nuts. Clearly, the possibilities are endless, so get creative if you make these! I brought them to a gathering at which I was the only gluten-free and dairy-free person there, and they still got gobbled up.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Creamy Carrot Cilantro Soup

While my grandma is rehabbing her recently broken leg, she is stuck away from home for a few weeks, and thus away from decent food, much less delicious food. And since she also has strict diet restrictions, she can't even eat all of the unappetizing food that they put in front of her. I remembered that she liked this soup when I made it for once her last year, and aside from being an incredibly healthy meal choice, it is also perfect for this time of year, as the weather starts to turn chilly and a hot bowl of soup sounds especially cozy. And besides, it doesn't get much more comforting than soup when you're sick.

Creamy Carrot Cilantro Soup

1 lb. carrots (baby carrots are fine, too)
1 -2 tbsp. sunflower oil/olive oil
1 tbsp. Earth Balance "Buttery Spread"
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, diced finely
2 small Yukon potatoes, or 4 red potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 - 5 tsp. ground coriander (to taste)
1 - 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 cup soy milk
salt and freshly ground black or white pepper

Trim and peel the carrots and cut into chunks. Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion over gentle heat for 3 - 4 minutes, until slightly softened. Dice the celery and chop the potatoes. Add them to the onion in the pan, cook for a few minutes, then add the carrots. Cook over gentle heat for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring, and then cover.

Reduce the heat even further and sweat the vegetables for about 8 - 10 minutes. Shake the pan, or stir occasionally, so the vegetables do not stick to the bottom. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Half-cover the pan and simmer for another 10 - 12 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Melt the Earth Balance "Buttery Spread" in a small saucepan and saute 3 tsp. ground coriander for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat, add the chopped cilantro, and saute for about another minute. Set aside until required. Process the soup in a food processor or blender and pour into a clean saucepan. Stir in the soy milk and the cilantro mixture. Season to taste, adding more coriander, salt, and pepper as desired, and heat gently just until hot (but not boiling).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Curried Chicken Salad

Last night at 10:30 p.m., I realized that I hadn't made anything for lunch the next day. And since I can't just grab something on campus when I forget to have food on hand, that is a problem! So I threw together a curried chicken salad that my Aunt Maggie makes, with a few slight variations (due entirely to pantry limitations). I will say that the red onion in this lingered a little longer in my mouth than I would have hoped, so I ended up picking some of it back out to make it a little more friendly for those who want to be in my proximity. Otherwise, I was very happy with the balance of flavors in this salad. Curried Chicken Salad 1 6-oz. can white chicken in water, chopped very small 1/3 cup shredded carrots 1/2 cup diced celery (1 stalk) 1/4 - 1/2 cup red onion, diced very small (basically, add to taste) 1/2 cup dried red cranberries (Craisins) 1/3 - 1/2 cup slivered almonds (or the nut of your choice) 1/3 - 1/2 cup Light Miracle Whip 1 - 2 tsp. curry powder 1/2 - 1 tsp. salt (to taste) 1/2 - 1 tsp. pepper (white or black pepper, to taste) 1 - 2 tsp. yellow mustard powder (to taste) 1 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh is best) 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp. honey (to taste) Other ingredients you can add that I didn't have on hand last night: halved seedless grapes, diced apples, golden raisins, and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger. Mix all ingredients together very well. Refrigerate until ready to eat. Serve on bread or with crackers (I ate this on Almond Smokehouse Nut Thins).

Chicken Cacciatore

This is a recipe that is super easy to throw together, as long as you have the time to let it simmer itself into a delicious stew-like consistency. Once the ingredients are assembled, it's very low maintenance, and all you'll have to do is make the rice towards the end of its cooking time. Andrew made this for me this weekend when I was down there visiting, and the recipe comes from my cousin Erin, who modified it from a recipe she found in The Joy of Cooking. It was delicious!! The original recipe calls for flour, but we omitted it from this recipe. I'd imagine, though, that cornstarch or another starch would work very well as a substitution in this recipe. Ours still thickened up without it, but we had to let it simmer uncovered for 20 or 30 minutes towards the end to get it to the consistency we wanted. So it's up to you - but either way, it will still taste great.
Chicken Cacciatore
¼ cup olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
2 ½ lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 – 3 tablespoons flour or cornstarch (optional)
2 cloves garlic, diced or put through a press
1 cup wine
1 cup water
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 14.5 oz cans whole tomatoes
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
4 bay leaves
½ tsp. thyme
1 tsp. basil
¼ tsp. sweet marjoram
2 small packages mushrooms, sliced 1 cup Jasmine rice, cooked as directed OR 1 cup brown rice penne, cooked as directed
Brown the chicken in the olive oil with the onion, garlic, and flour/cornstarch in a large pot. Add the wine and water. Stir in the tomato paste. Slice the whole tomatoes in the can and add them, juice and all, to the mixture. Stir in the spices. Stir in the mushrooms. Simmer covered for 1 – 1 ½ hours until the mixture thickens a bit. There should be no need to add more liquid.
Serve over white rice (Jasmine rice is the best - and it's not as sticky as regular white rice). I have not tried it this way, but I think this would also work well served over brown rice penne noodles.
Note: Make sure you add the salt to the rice despite the fact that the directions on the bag call it optional.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Strawberry Banana Swirl Bread

In my days as a faithful custard scooper at Bobby's Frozen Custard stand, I took full advantage of the employee discount (perhaps a little too often...) For a while, I was obsessed with strawberry banana concretes, and last week, as I noticed 3 rapidly deteriorating bananas sitting on my kitchen counter, I wondered if there could ever be another medium in which strawberry and banana could be so perfectly wed. I decided to find out...and despite my forgetting to add the vanilla (doh!), this variation on a traditional banana bread recipe turned out great! I had to bake it for quite a long time before the strawberry swirl batter baked completely, so I would recommend that you test this for doneness every 5 minutes after an hour and a half has gone by. The strawberry part never got quite as done as the banana part did, but it still turned out to be delicious. If you're a peanut butter fan, this is heavenly with some all-natural peanut butter spread across it!

Strawberry Banana Swirl Bread

1/2 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used "Beth's Gluten Free Pantry All-Purpose")
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups strawberries, divided (can be fresh or frozen, but should be thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients through the vanilla extract together in the order shown. Mix well, making sure the bananas are mashed well and distributed evenly throughout the batter. Take 1/2 cup of banana bread batter and combine with 1 1/2 cups of strawberries (fresh or thawed) in a food processor. Mix on high for about 45 seconds to 1 minute until the strawberries have been mixed into the batter and the batter has a light, whipped texture. Slice the remaining 1/2 cup strawberries into small pieces. Line a bread pan with wax paper. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup brown sugar across the bottom of the pan, and then spread the sliced strawberries evenly across the bottom on top of the sugar. Pour 1/2 of the plain banana bread mixture, then 1/2 of the strawberry banana batter, then the remaining 1/2 of each. Swirl around with a knife and then make sure the top is spread evenly. Bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes - 1 hour 45 minutes, sticking a knife in the bread to test for doneness. The strawberries add a lot of moisture, so this will likely take longer than normal to bake. Remove from oven and place on a rack until cool.

Pasta with Spinach Basil Pesto

I am currently house-sitting for someone at work, and theirs is a huge old house on a tree-lined street near Forest Park. The house has lots of space and best of all, a professional kitchen. Another unexpected amenity has been the free reign over the herb garden in the backyard, including three huge basil plants (the size of which I have never experienced, since plants typically die shortly after coming into my care). Well, since the plants are outside and will die soon anyway, I decided to "harvest" the basil plants and make myself some pesto. A friend of mine mentioned that adding spinach will enhance the flavor and color of the pesto, so I decided to try it. This turned out to be not quite the traditional pesto sauce, but a delicious one nonetheless.

Spinach Basil Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh or frozen spinach
1/3 - 1/2 cup olive oil (adjust according to your taste and the consistency)
5-8 whole cloves of garlic, according to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts (or more, according to taste)
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/4 - 1/2 cup Vegan "Parmesan Cheese" (or real Parmesan cheese if you can have it)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a thick paste is formed and becomes creamy. Adjust ingredients to taste. Makes about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of pesto. Boil pasta and drain, then add the pesto to the pasta, toss, top with more Parmesan cheese, if desired, and serve!