Category Archives: spinach

Crock Pot Lasagna-no kidding

I’m always looking for a way to save time while cooking without losing flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I love being in the kitchen chopping, stirring, and tasting. But some days there just isn’t time for that. For those days, there is the crock pot. Now, being a vegetarian means it’s not always as easy as just dropping a roast in there like some folks do.

Veggie, GF, Crockpot Lasagna

Veggie, GF,  Crock Pot Lasagna

Most ideas on the Web are not gluten-free, or vegetarian, or both. So, I decided to modify some of the recipes I found to make my own version of crock pot lasagna. My family was willing to give it a shot. The end result? I will never make lasagna in the oven again, seriously. This was just as good, if not a little better, than any other lasagna I’ve made. No pre-cooking noodles, no mess, minor clean up. Beat that! Give this a try and let me know what you think.

 Crock Pot Vegetarian, Gluten-free Lasagna

1 box gluten-free lasagna noodles (I used DeBole’s)

1 12 oz. container ricotta cheese (light or regular)

2 eggs

1 tsp each of garlic powder, dried parsley and salt

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

2 cups shredded mozzarella

3 cups Marinara sauce (your own or your favorite brand)

2 cups chopped fresh spinach

2 TBS chopped fresh basil

1. Turn on a 6-quart crock pot to high (I use an oval). Spray with cooking spray or oil.

2. Mix Ricotta, eggs, spices and 1/4 cup Parmesan.

3. Pour about 3/4 cup Marinara on the bottom of the pot and spread it out to cover.

4. Layer with rice noodles so you have one even layer. Don’t worry about breaking them up to make a layer. It’s like a puzzle.

5. Cover noodles with 1/2 of the Ricotta mixture.

6. Next layer is 1/2 the spinach and 1 TBS basil.

7. Cover with another cup of Marinara and then repeat the next layer.

8. Top layer is another layer of noodles. Break it up to cover as well as possible.

9. Cover top layer of noodles with last of the Marinara, making sure to cover all of the noodles so they don’t dry out.

10. Cover the top with a layer of cheese and a few bits of fresh basil.

11. Cover and cook for 3 hours on high or 4-5 on medium/low. Check it after 3 hours to make sure it’s not cooking too fast. It should be bubbly on the sides and cooked well, and if you stick a knife into it there is very little resistance.

Note: I had planned to cook for four hours but stopped at 3 and it was perfect. Let it sit for a few minutes to firm up and serve with extra Marinara sauce if you have it.

This was so easy, even the kids can do it. There is no cooking involved, as long as you’ve already got the Marinara on hand. All it takes is layering and putting the top on. And if you mess up a layer and forget, who will know? I think Daughter switched the spinach and cheese layer in there somewhere, but it tastes great and that’s all that matter. Next up, try this with GF penne or spaghetti, just like my last version here, only easier.

Enjoy!

 

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Filed under dinner parties, gluten free, lasagna, mozzarella, noodles, spinach, 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

Here’s how to have a gluten-free book club tea party

It was my month to choose a book and host book club in November. Not only do I love reading, but I also love hosting parties. The book I chose was Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier. And since the book is based on the lives of spinster women searching for fossils on the coast of England in the early 1800s, (yes, it really is), I chose a tea-party theme with seashells and dinosaurs thrown in for fun.

Tea Party with sea glass, shells and dinosaurs
Tea is served

First let me note that I am the only GF eater in the group. It’s been my mission to prove to them all that GF cooking is just as good and that the wheat is not missed. Top that with the fact that we’re vegetarians and there isn’t any meat at our house and I’ve got a real challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge, Dear Chef.

The dinosaur is there for a reason, trust me.

I decided on making two veggie tarts, (basically quiche without the crust). The first was made with carmelized leeks, browned mushrooms, mozzarella and goat cheese. Carmelize one onion and two leeks, then add mushrooms and brown them with the onions. When they’re done, place them on the bottom of a tart pan and spread out evenly. Cover with a layer of shredded mozzarella and about 3 TBS of shredded Parmesan. Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme and parsley. In a separate bowl, mix together about 4 egg whites and 3 eggs. Add about 1/4 cup of goat cheese and whisk it all together with a pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried mustard and nutmeg. Pour evenly over the tart and bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Don’t let it get too brown. Slice when cool and enjoy. I’m always apprehensive about using goat cheese since even though I love it, I have found that people either love it or hate it. But this was first plate to be empty, so I suppose this wasn’t anything to worry about.

Another dinosaur, representing the fossils in the book.

The second tart was onion, spinach, asparagus and Swiss cheese. Start with the onions in a bit of olive oil and butter (as above) and cook till brown and sweet. Add about 2 cups of fresh spinach and cook until wilted. Turn the heat on low and cook for about 10 minutes until the liquid has cooked out of the spinach. Add 1/2 tsp fresh garlic, pinch of salt and pepper. spread evenly into a pie/tart pan. Cover with 1 1/2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese. Take asparagus and arrange in a patter on top of the cheese. In a separate bowl, beat together 4 egg whites, 3 eggs, 1/4 cup half and half, salt, pepper, pinch of both nutmeg and dried mustard. Chop about 1 TBS fresh parsley and add to the mixture. Beat and then pour evenly and gently over the veggie/cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, but don’t let it get too brown. Slice when cool.

Thanks to Udi’s for the fabulous bread used to make the cucumber sandwiches and the egg salad sandwiches. They were the first to go and not one was left on the plate. Daughter and I kept eating them while making them, we love them that much. Simple to make, really. For the cucumber sandwiches, just cut the crusts off the bread, then spread with cream cheese and layer with strips of cucumber (use a veggie peeler for strips) and slice. Sprinkle with a little salt and a bit of chopped fresh parsley. For the egg salad I used chopped egg, mayo, apples, celery, salt/pepper and chopped parsley. I didn’t cut the crusts off of these and they were yummy .

In keeping with the fossil-hunting theme, Daughter actually made a wonderful GF coffee cake and placed a small dinosaur in one of the pieces while plating the cake. (Fossil hunting in the dirt? Too much of a stretch?) The cake was gone quickly, and worked perfectly with the tea after dinner.


And believe it or not, I found the perfect wine in the spirit of the fossil-hunting theme of the evening. Thanks Trader Joe’s.

I was depending on Trader Joe’s for their lovely shell-shaped chocolates to round out the decor. And wouldn’t you know it, they don’t have them yet for the holiday season. What’s a girl to do? Ask her teen to make some chocolate, that’s what. Darling daughter actually melted white and dark chocolate and poured it into molds to give us our shell chocolate. What a doll! The night was rounded out with cheese/pesto/sun-dried tomato torte with rice crackers, caramels with sea salt and a lovely salad of spring lettuce, roasted beets and candied pecans in a balsamic dressing.

I’m sad the night is over, but I can’t wait for next month. Try reading the book and see what it inspires you to cook. Enjoy!

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Filed under asparagus, cake, cheese, chocolate, cucumber sandwiches, eggs, gluten free, leeks, quiche, sandwich, spinach, tart, vegetarian

Garbanzos with spinach and lemon


Today’s post is short and sweet. I wanted a quick, easy lunch before running out to a meeting, recently. I remembered that I had a great lunch recently in Tucson at the Shish Kebab House. Along with a lovely but standard Greek salad, we ordered the sauteed garbanzos and spinach. I decided to try and recreate it since it was so good. Mine tasted just like the restaurant, and I could even add a little more lemon. The garbanzos are firm and chewy and the spinach and lemon give it just enough tartness. It is quick and satisfying, and its good for you. Best of all, it’s gluten free naturally. I love this recipe since it’s so easy to prepare, but if you prefer to soak your beans overnight, go right ahead. The dish just takes a little more planning.

Garbanzos with spinach and lemon
1 can garbanzos, drained and rinsed
2 cups raw spinach, rinsed
Juice of one medium lemon
1 TBS olive oil
salt/pepper

1. Sautee garbanzos in the olive oil till warm.
2. Add all other ingredients and cook until the spinach is wilted and warm, but don’t overcook it. You still want some texture to it and a bright green color.
3. Serve with a wedge of lemon for a little treat.

Simple, quick and yummy. Enjoy!

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Filed under garbanzos, gluten free, lemon, spinach, vegetarian

Amazing Enchilada Pie

Gluten-free, Vegetarian Enchilada Pie

Since most enchilada sauce is made with flour to thicken it, I had mostly just given up on eating and making enchiladas. I thought the sauce was the most important part of the dish, right? Even canned sauce is suspect since I had a bad reaction once. But those days are over! I searched on the Internet to find out how to make my own enchilada sauce. Turns out, it’s not that hard. Using corn starch to thicken it makes it gluten free and adding the spices you want keeps it just as spicy as you like it. I read about 10 different recipes calling for all kinds of spices, flour, corn starch, etc. and decided to create my own…And after attempting to roll the tortillas, I gave up and decided it was easier to make this a layered pie instead. Still tasty and much easier, but if you feel like rolling, go for it.

I decided to fill it with veggie goodness since cheese enchiladas seems to be just a little overkill…but don’t get me wrong. I still love cheese as you can see from the photo. There’s plenty of cheese in there and if you’re rocking this vegan, just use your favorite soy/rice cheese in place of the cheese I’ve used. Still yummy!

Amazing Enchilada Pie
Sauce
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used Trader Joe’s)
1 6 oz. can of tomato paste (I used Trader Joe’s)
About a tsp of each of the following, then keep tasting and tweaking till it meets your tastes
  salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried epizote, dried parsley
(if you don’t have epizote, you can skip it. I just happen to have it as a gift from a friend)
2 tsp each cumin and chili powder
1 cup water
2 TBS corn starch

Enchiladas
1 doz. corn tortillas
1 sweet onion, chopped finely
2 cups frozen roasted corn (Trader Joe’s)
2 cans black beans
1 1/2 cups frozen spinach
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground pepper
2 cups grated Mexican cheese
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray a glass pie dish. This recipe actually made three pies, so cut it in half if you don’t need that much. Remember you can freeze them.
2. In a large pot, combine diced tomatoes (don’t drain), tomato paste, 1/2 cup water and spices. Stir until mixed and let simmer while you make the enchilada filling.
3. To make the filling, use a large skillet and add the onion in some olive oil and cook until tender. Add a pinch of salt to the onion.
4. When the onion is soft, add the corn, black beans, spinach and spices. Mix and let it simmer for about 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
5. Use an immersion blender and blend the sauce until smooth. (you can use a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender, but be careful since this is hot)
6. Mix corn starch with 1/2 cup of water and mix until corn starch is dissolved. Add it slowly to the sauce while stirring
7. Now it’s time to layer the pies. On the bottom of the glass baking dish, spoon enough sauce to just cover the bottom. Layer with tortillas by ripping up the tortillas if needed to make one layer. Spoon the bean/corn mixture evenly over the tortillas (about a cup), then cover with a sprinkling of cheese.
8. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, veggie mixture and cheese.
9. Top off the pie with another layer of tortillas, then spoon about a cup of sauce to cover the top. Make sure no tortilla is left uncovered since it will get hard and burn in the oven. Cover this layer with cheese.
9. Repeat in the remaining baking dishes.
10. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let them sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

This is the cheesy goodness that came out of the oven! Yum!

This recipe made just enough sauce for the three baking dishes. Next time, I may double the sauce recipe to have a little extra. Other than that, these are the best I’ve ever made, or eaten. Even my husband said the sauce and enchiladas were better than any restaurant. High praise!

Enjoy!

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Filed under beans, corn, enchilada, gluten free, spinach, vegetarian

Quiche Muffins


I’ve been making these for ages and just realized that I had never put the recipe up here. Somehow I thought I did, but I was wrong…what can I say? I came up with these after having one that was similar at Paradise Bakery. I decided to give it a try at home, make sure it’s gluten free, and create something simple. And, Dear Chef, as we all know, simple is better. The ingredients here are few and preparation is a cinch. That’s what makes it so nice. Whip these up in about 5 minutes, bake for 15 minutes and put them away for breakfast or lunch for the week. I calculated the calories for each one and it came out to about 85 per muffin-not bad. You can also use tiny muffin tins and make snack-sized muffins for a party or just for fun. Everyone will think you worked on them forever.

Quiche Muffins
1 16 oz. bag of organic frozen spinach
2 eggs
4 egg whites
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp ground nutmeg
salt/pepper
2 Tbs grated parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Put spinach in a microwaveable bowl and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the liquid.
3. In the same bowl, add all other ingredients and mix well.
4. Spoon out mixture evenly into 12 muffin tins. (sprayed with nonstick spray)
5. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the oven and let them sit in the oven for about 5 minutes.
6. Remove muffins onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for just a few minutes. This will help them firm up a bit.
Enjoy!

I’ve made these with many different kinds of cheese including Fontina, Swiss, Gouda, Mexican mix, and more. Use whatever cheese is your favorite and experiment to find what you like best. These are a great way to get protein and veggies, and my Daughter loves them. Mix it up with different veggies if you want, but the spinach always seems to be the best. I also added the Parmesan recently and it seems to give them a great, salty flavor.

Enjoy!

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Filed under eggs, gluten free, muffins, quiche, spinach

GF Veggie Lasagna

My cravings for lasagna have not gone away. Although I’ve made a GF version of lasagna using TJ’s brown rice pasta (and it was yummy) I’ve been craving the kind Mom used to make. Finally, I came across these GF lasagna noodles. Pow! I’ve heard about them, and was so excited to see them at our local Whole Foods Market.

I will tell you that I put them in boiling water, let them cook for a minute, then checked the box to see how long it takes to cook them. Imagine my surprise when I saw “No Boiling – Oven Ready” right on the front. I turned the flame off but let them sit in the water while getting everything else finalized. They sat in there about 5 minutes, then I pulled them out and used them. They turned out great and I think I’ll do it like that again. I liked having them just like “regular” noodles. But go ahead and try them straight from the box and let me know. Dear chef, lesson learned – read the directions before cooking.

This was made with zucchini and spinach, but give it a try with any of your fave veggies. I love carrots, yellow squash and mushrooms also. Can’t wait to make all kinds of varieties now that I know it’s an option to make lasagna. Even Daughter loved it.

GF Veggie Lasagna
4-5 GF lasagna noodles (pre-cooked or not)
2 zucchini, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbs chopped garlic
1 package silken tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 cup TJ’s goat’s milk mozzarella (shredded)
1 large can plum tomatoes
1 cup chopped and roasted carrots
dried oregano, parsley and basil to taste

This sounds like a lot of work, but it can all be going on at once. Don’t let it intimidate you. It is so worth the effort and is truly a comfort food you will love.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put chopped carrots in a flat roasting sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, mix and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes.
3. Cook zucchini in a saute pan with 1/2 TBS of olive oil, salt and pepper until it becomes translucent.
4. Add spinach to zucchini by handfuls and let it wilt and cook.
5. Add 1 Tbs chopped garlic to veggies and cook for another minute, then put veggies in a strainer over a bowl to let the liquid drip off (too much will make the lasagna mushy).
6. Set a large pot of water to boil. When it boils, turn off the heat and add the lasagna noodles. Let them sit.
7. No need to wash the saute pan. Add the chopped onions and another 1/2 Tbs olive oil. Cook until onions are translucent.
8. Add 1 Tbs chopped garlic and cook for another minute.
9. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper.
10. Remove carrots from the oven. They should be carmelized and soft. Add to tomatoes, along with 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and parsely, mix and let simmer.
11. Place tofu in a bowl and add a 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, basil and parsley. Add most of the mozzarella, leaving a little for the top of the lasagna. Mix well and set aside.
12. With an immersion blender (or regular blender if you don’t have one) blend the tomato sauce until smooth. (If you use a regular blender, be sure to keep the top slightly open so you don’t blow the top off the blender.)
13. Layer your lasagna in an 8X8 glass baking dish. Add sauce, noodles, half of the tofu mixture, half the veggies- then repeat. On the final layer, add noodles and sauce, then top with the reserved mozzarella.
14. Bake for 35 minutes until bubbly and cooked through. Let the lasagna rest for about 15 minutes before serving.

This is so much like Mom used to make. Yes, she used ricotta cheese, eggs and wheat noodles, but you’ll be surprised how much this tastes like the real thing. It hits that comfort spot with a warm, bubbly sauce, al-dente noodles and wonderful veggies. Add a little leftover sauce and it’s just like being a kid.

Enjoy!

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Filed under gluten free, pasta, spinach, vegetarian, zucchini