Category Archives: cooking

Carbonara – The Gluten-Free, Vegetarian Way

carbonaraI see Pasta Carbonara recipes on the cooking channels all the time. They look wonderful, creamy, yummy. It just always seemed complicated or too tricky. And, I don’t eat bacon, of course. But, that didn’t stop me from giving it a try and finding a fantastic, quick ,and decadent dinner. Trust me, it sounds strange if you haven’t tried it, or if you are a meat-eater and want to add bacon, go right ahead. I don’t think it’s missing anything without the bacon. The Parmesan gives it a salty, creamy texture and the eggs add a bit of protein and a hearty flavor. I used spaghetti, but go ahead and try it with penne or even fusilli if you like. I know I’ll be making this again since it’s so easy and comforting.

Veggie Carbonara, Gluten-Free Style

3/4 lb of gluten-free spaghetti (I used Trader Joe’s corn pasta, you can use what you like. I used about 3/4 of the bag)

2 eggs

1/4 cup half & half (maybe a little less, depending on how big your eggs are. Mine were on the small side)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup chopped broccoli and cauliflower

olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, salt the water and add the pasta, cooking for 8 minutes (or whatever the instructions are for the pasta you are using).

2. While the pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a sauté pan and add cauliflower and broccoli. Add a bit of salt and sauté until brown and softening. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, add eggs, half & half and most of the Parmesan and mix well with a fork. Add a pinch of salt/pepper.

4. Drain the pasta, reserving a bit of the water in case you need to soften up the sauce.

5. Here’s the important part—take the saute pan off the heat and then add the drained pasta to the pan. Coat with the oil in the pan, and then add the egg mixture, tossing to get all the noodles coated. The sauce will thicken up as the eggs set, but as long as it’s off the heat you won’t have scrambled eggs instead. If it’s too thick, just add a little bit of the reserved cooking water to thin it out.

6. Top with a bit more Parmesan if you like, and the chopped fresh parsley.

If you don’t have broccoli and cauliflower in your fridge (I had a small bag of mixed), go ahead and use zucchini or even sauté some carrots. The veggies don’t matter, you can even leave them out and just make it plain. You probably have a couple of eggs and a bit of half & half in the fridge. That really all you need, along with Parmesan and pasta. Be creative.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Filed under broccoli, cauliflower, cheese, cooking, dinner, egg, eggs, gluten free, pasta, vegetarian

Pillsbury GF Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Makes Me Smile

cookies

I was so excited to see that Pillsbury had this chocolate chip cookie dough in the cooler section of the grocery store the other day. Of course, after the awful Eat Pastry chocolate chip cookie dough experiment from Costco (it was awful, don’t buy it), I was a bit wary of another scoop-and-bake cookie dough. But, grew up with Pillsbury products and I’m willing to give anything a try at least once. (OK, smart aleck, you know what I mean 🙂 )

First off, the dough tasted pretty good on its own, before being baked. And we all know that’s one of the first things we do with cookie dough, right? This was pretty tasty and not grainy at all. I heated up the oven, scooped eight little cookie piles on the cookie sheet and waited about 10 minutes while they baked. Since I made mine a bit smaller than suggested (I like little cookie bites), it took a little less time than suggested on the package.

I tried to wait a few minutes for them to cool off, but you and I both know that wasn’t going to last long. The final analysis…YUM! I only made eight and I was glad of that only because I think I would have eaten more if I made more. I ate three and my husband and daughter finished them up quickly. They are chewy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. They browned up just right and had a wonderful texture, which is always a bit of a challenge when we’re talking about GF cookies. They had just the right amount of chips, which means these are quite welcome in my home. Advantages include the option to make a few at a time since it’s in a tub, and you can make them when you please. They are tasty and not overly sweet (as if a cookie could be too sweet.) Disadvantages include the cost ($5.49) and the fact that I have had better cookies, but not this easy and right out of the oven. If you’ve got kids and/or friends who may want a few cookies, this is the ticket. My husband, who is not GF, asked me to make more. And as far as cost goes, I think using a small scoop means you’ll get a lot of cookies for the money.

I bought the Pillsbury pizza dough, which is also gluten free, to try next week. At the same price ($5.49) I hope it makes a pretty decent-sized pizza. Stay tuned for that one.

Next up, I’ll be scooping some of that cookie dough into a skillet, baking halfway and topping that with a bit of ice cream. What? It’s my birthday… Who’s joining me?

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Filed under baking, cookies, cooking, dessert, gluten free, grain-free, vegetarian

Gluten Free Ciabatta Pizza

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Once again, I failed to plan for lunch and found myself famished while working. Improvising proved to be a good thing again when I created these little beauties. I grabbed a package of Schar’s Ciabatta rolls and sliced them into three thin slices. They are thick enough and make the perfect crust for an impromptu pizza. I just used two rolls and got six little pizzas, enough to share.

Gluten Free Ciabatta Pizza

2 Schar Ciabatta Rolls
3 TBS olive oil
Pinch of garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, basil
6 TBS marinara sauce
3 TBS grated Parmesan
6 TBS shredded Mozzarella

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix olive oil with spices in a small bowl
3. Distribute olive oil mixture evenly over bread slices
4. Bake rolls for about 5-9 minutes
5. Layer 1 TBS marinara, 1/2 TBS Parmesan and 1 TBS mozzarella on each slice
6. Broil on low for about 3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Enjoy, and try to keep everyone from stealing these. I’m thinking about trying these for my next book club since they are so easy and so good. Maybe a bit of spinach next time?

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Filed under cheese, cooking, crust, dinner, gluten free, marinara, mozzarella, pizza, Pizza Crust, quick meal, vegetarian

Kinnikinnick to the rescue with a gluten-free pie crust

Pie. It’s just something I never thought I’d miss when giving up wheat. I was never a big pie eater to begin with. But when someone says you can’t have something anymore, you want it. Am I right? I have tried making my own pie crust before and it’s turned out pretty well, although I’m not a fan of taking all that time to make one. I was thrilled when I happened upon Kinnikinnick’s frozen gluten-free pie crusts at Whole Foods, and they were on sale. But at a regular price of about $4.99 for two 8-inch crusts, that’s not bad for the GF market.


I decided to make a Quiche first and give the crust a test. I made a simple spinach Quiche and it was a hit. The crust was flaky, tasty and not too strong. It really has a mild flavor for a crust, which to me is just what I want with a crust. A slight buttery flavor is good, as is a crust that doesn’t fall apart too quickly. It’s got to hold up to the filling, and it’s about the filling, right? The Quiche  consisted of one sautéed onion, Havarti and Jarlsberg cheese, frozen and thawed spinach, 2 eggs and 4 egg whites. That’s it. Just a bit of salt/pepper/nutmeg/thyme and garlic. I baked the crust first for about 10 minutes, then layered onions, spinach, cheese and poured in the egg mixture. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 and viola! Finally a Quiche with a crust.

And since that worked so well, I decided to try a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I used the recipe on the can of pumpkin (pumpkin, condensed milk, egg, sugar) and it was, once again, wonderful. Just a note, the recipe on the can of Libby’s pumpkin will make enough for two of these pie shells. Luckily, there are two in each box. Perfect.

Since you can never have enough pie, I also bought a fabulous cherry pie by Angel Cakes Bakery here in Phoenix. Angela makes the most wonderful pie crust of all, from scratch, and it’s gluten-free. Now, if I had my way that’s the only pie crust I would ever eat. But then I’d be calling her every week for more and I’d have to get a second job to pay for it. This was a treat and I highly recommend her cakes and pies. I’ve talked about her creativity and food before and I’ll continue to do so as long as she keeps baking. So, the dessert for the day was all set. What else do you need? Dinner, what dinner? What’s for dessert?

 

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Filed under allergies, baking, butter, celiac, cheese, cooking, crust, dessert, dinner party, gluten free, pie, quick meal, rice flour, spinach, Thanksgiving, vegetarian

Veggie-stuffed peppers

This is a quick and yummy meal that I thought up at the last minute. I was watching the Food Channel and saw someone making a traditional stuffed-pepper meal, meaning hamburger and bread crumbs. Uhm, not gonna work. But I remember loving my Mom’s stuffed peppers when I was a kid. So, with my daughter by my side, we came up with an even better, gluten-free, vegetarian version.

Quick and easy veggie-stuffed peppers

Veggie-stuffed Peppers

3 large peppers (I prefer red or orange since they are a little sweeter)

1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms

1/2 chopped zucchini

1 large sweet onion, diced

olive oil/salt/pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bag Trader Joe’s frozen Jasmine rice (about 2 cups)

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Oregano, basil (dried)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place olive oil, onions and garlic in saute pan and cook till tender. Add salt and pepper.

3. While onions are cooking, slice the top off the peppers. (when choosing peppers, try to pick out ones that will stand on their own.) Clean out the peppers and leave whole, placing them in a glass baking dish or pie pan so they stand on their own, then dice up the tops and reserve those for the filling.

4. Add peppers to the pan and saute till tender, then mushrooms to the pan and saute till brown.

5. Add zucchini last and cook for a few minutes until just tender.

6. Finally, add the rice, a bit more olive oil, oregano, basil, salt & pepper to taste. Cook until the mixture is warm and mixed well.

7. Fill each pepper halfway, then add a pinch of cheese (a little less than 1/4 cup) in each one.

8. Finish filling peppers and mound it on top.

9. Top off each pepper with another pinch of cheese.

10. Bake for about 30 minutes, then let sit for about 10 minutes. (These are piping hot inside and so good you’ll burn your mouth for sure.)

These can also be made with brown rice (which I didn’t have at the time) and any veggies you have hanging around in the fridge. It’s a great way to use up any leftover veggies, just saute with some rice and stuff a pepper. Enjoy!

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Filed under cheese, cooking, dinner, dinner parties, dinner party, egg-free, gluten free, mushrooms, quick meal, rice, squash, vegetarian, zucchini

Dear Martha

Recently, there was an article printed in The Daily Mail, UK edition, with a few quotes from Martha and her newest book. She was discussing dinner guests using cell phones and those with allergies or food preferences. I’m posting my letter to her in the assumption that this reporting is correct. If it is not, then I apologize up front and you are welcome to come by and chat, Martha. But if it’s true, what I say below comes from the heart.

Dear Martha:
I’m sure you have many friends, and I’m sure your dinner parties are elegant, as we’ve seen on TV. But I also know the reputation you’ve gotten over the years and I was always there to try and soften it. “If she were a man,” I would say to those who bashed you, “would they be so hard on her? No.” Well, I think I’m going to have to take it all back based on your newest book and interview.

Now, I do agree with you on your stance about cell phones at dinner parties. Unless one has a babysitter or child at home who may need you, there is no need to carry a cell phone at a party. And if it rings (and it should be on silent with only a vibration) then a quick look to see if it’s the aforementioned babysitter/teen at home and put it on ignore if it’s not. There is no reason ever to text or take a call when you are at someone else’s home, especially if that someone worked hard all day cooking, cleaning, and decorating in order to spend time with you and others in her/his home.

But when it comes to allergies and food preferences, I’m in the other camp. “Oh my God! Don’t ask! My rule is do not ask about dietary restrictions,” she says, clearly averse to making an extra effort for certain guests. This quote from the article reveals how selfish you are being when holding these parties. Are they about spending time with friends or showing off your cooking skills? It should be both! Why can’t you accommodate the very people you are hoping to please in your home?

I have always tried to accommodate people with allergies or strong preference when they are in my home. For instance, I know my niece and husband do not like mushrooms. I am always aware and leave them out of my dishes when I know there is a dinner party and they will be eating the food. I would rather find another way to be creative than have them skip something just because I thought it was an inconvenience. It’s about spending time with people, not just showing off.

At the same time, I do not expect anyone to cater to my needs. I am perfectly happy to bring my own food (I’m sure you would hate that, Martha. I won’t even go there) or just have a salad or the side dish. But I would never, ever, assume that someone I personally invited to my home should go without a meal. “You have to be semi-prepared,” she says of picky eaters. “But don’t fret about it. Everybody can miss a meal.” Seriously? You would be fine with someone coming to your home and eating nothing because you weren’t prepared with even a small bite for them? I certainly don’t want to be catered to, but I would also be pretty darn insulted if they had absolutely nothing, not even lettuce or fruit.

And finally, the big question. Do you do all the cooking for your dinner parties? I think not. What would be so hard about just asking one of the chefs in your restaurant-style kitchen to whip up something for the celiac/diabetic/peanut allergy/etc. eater who was invited to your party? Why not show them what a thoughtful, caring hostess you are and put to bed all that talk about you being a you-know-what?

Merry Christmas, Martha. If you want any help in preparing meals with thought, compassion and creativity, feel free to give me a ring.

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Filed under allergies, celiac, cooking, dinner party, gluten free, Martha Stewart

Egg "noodles" the grain-free way

Egg “noodles” with marinara

I’ve been absent for a bit, taking care of school work and remodeling work. But never fear, I’ve still been cooking and eating. After so long trying to curb the amount of grains in my diet, I fell off the wagon and went gangbusters on cookies, cakes, cupcakes, etc. for the past month. Finally, I’m back on track and feeling so much better.

Which means I’m still hungry, I just have fewer items on the menu. Noodles are one of my favorites and trying to find alternatives can be difficult. I’ve used raw zucchini in long, thin strips and it’s wonderful with pesto, and I love spaghetti squash as a pasta alternative, but what if I’m trying to add more protein in my diet as well?

Aha, it hit me today while watching Jamie Oliver on TV while he made crepes and cut them in long, thin strips for a salad. Why not do that with eggs? I scrambled 2 eggs and 2 egg whites with a bit of salt, pepper and garlic powder. The rest is so easy it’s crazy.

These are the “noodles” without sauce so you can see. Pretty, huh?

In a hot skillet with a little butter, add a small amount of eggs, just enough to cover the pan without leaving open spots (how much you use depends on the size of your pan. Just imagine you’re making a crepe). Swirl it around until you get an even layer. Then let it cook without touching it for about1- 2 minutes depending on the size of your pan. It should start to get well done on the edges. Then gently lift it from the pan and flip it. (you might need to get the hang of this, but it’s easy after the first one.) Cook another minute on the other side.

After you have a few of your egg “crepes,” stack about 3-4 of them and roll them in a tight cigar shape. Then cut in strips from one end to the other, essentially making pinwheels. When you uncurl them and fluff them, you now have long, thin egg “noodles” to add anything you want. I had some marinara and shredded Parmesan, which was wonderful. The noodles were chewy and had a nice bite, reminded me of an egg noodle from long ago. But it’s not a real noodle so don’t look for that texture. I liked the egg taste of it and the way it worked with the sauce and cheese. Perhaps using them as manicotti and rolling some cheese might work, or serving with pesto, goat cheese, Parmesan, roasted mushrooms, etc. The possibilities are endless. Yum.

Enjoy!

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Filed under cooking, egg, gluten free, grain-free, noodles, protein, vegetarian