Roasted Veggie Pasta

Delicious roasted and caramelized veggies mixed with basil drenched pasta make an amazingly warm, delicious, filling family meal.  Tonight’s meal started as one of those where I sort of went, “uh oh”.  It just didn’t seem like it was coming together as I was cooking it but once all the parts were tossed together, this was an outstanding dinner that brought us to have thirds or maybe even fourths.  I lost track of how many helpings I took and eventually had to take the bowl off the table so we didn’t keep eating.

 

Roasted Veggie Pasta

Recipe adapted from http://www.glutenfreegoddess.com

1 lb. chicken breast
6-10 medium sized mushrooms, halved
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 crown broccoli, cut into florets
2 zucchinis, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
a handful of cherry tomatoes (10-15 maybe?)
6-8 cloves of garlic, chopped
salt, black pepper
dried oregano, basil, and parsley
8 oz. gluten-free pasta
olive oil, balsamic vinegar,
several bunches fresh basil
fresh grated parmesan

Arrange all the veggies and garlic on a baking sheet. I like to put parchment paper down first. Drizzle them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar (be generous with the balsamic), salt and pepper. Give them a good stir to combine. Spread them so they are in an even single layer. I ended up using two baking sheets for mine. Sprinkle all of them with oregano, basil, and parsley.

Tenderize the chicken breast and sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and parsley. Place on the side of one of the baking sheets.

Bake in an oven at 400 degrees until chicken is cooked (about 20-30 minutes). Remove chicken and set aside. COntinue cooking veggies until caramelized (about 45- 55 minutes total).

Meanwhile, heavily salt pot of water to boil pasta. Cook until al dente. Reserve 1 c. pasta water. Drain. Put pasta back in pot. Generously pour olive oil over, add pasta water about 1/2 c. at a time and fresh basil chopped. Mix together. Cut chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. Add veggies and stir it all together. Serve with fresh grated parmesan on top.

 

Simple Chocolate Truffles (Gluten-free, dairy-free)

I wanted to make a fancy little dessert for some company we were having.  I combined a few different recipes I have seen before and made these delightful little treats!  They are amazing! And with only 4 ingredients, they are easy to make.  Overall, I feel like they really aren’t too bad for you.  At least that is how I am justifying eating way more of them than I should!  Yum!

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Simple Chocolate Truffles

Truffle Filling:
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. coconut oil
2/3 c. cacao

Truffle Coating:
1 c. dark chocolate or bitter sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided

In a blender or mini-food processor, combine truffle filling ingredients (maple syrup, coconut oil, cacao). Refrigerate until firm. Once cold, scoop out filling into ball shapes. (I used a melon baller for this step making it really simple). Place balls on a sheet of parchment and put in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. If your balls are a little droopy, you can easily reshape them once they are frozen.

Just before you take the balls out of the freezer, melt half of the chocolate chips and coconut oil together. This can be done in a double boiler or in a microwave on a low heat setting. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate.

Remove the filling from the freezer and dip each ball in the melted chocolate and put back on the parchment paper. Once you have used up the first half, melt the second half of the chocolate chips and coconut oil. This just helps to make sure it doesn’t cool down too much before you use it up. Dip remaining truffles in chocolate.

Freeze again until outer shell is hard. Truffles can be kept in the refrigerator until you serve them. I don’t know how long they will last in your fridge because ours only lasted a couple of days.🙂 Enjoy!!

Christmas Cookie Round-Up

This year we made some great Christmas cookies and while most of the recipes were from other bloggers, I wanted to keep track of what we made and the minor changes I did to some of the recipes so we can use them again next year.  So, here are the links to what we made and how we made them our own!

*Two notes… First, while I am generally dairy-free as well as gluten and corn free, I have found that I can tolerate some butter so many of the recipes do include it.  Second, in any recipe that calls for an all-purpose gluten free flour, I used the Namaste mix that you can find at Costco.  It worked great and I was even able to sub it one-for-one for regular all-purpose flour in my family’s traditional Belgium cookies.

1. Gingerbread Men and Royal Icing

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I love gingerbread cookies and I love to do cut-outs with the boys each year.  The cookie recipe was fairly simple and the only change I made was leaving out the xanthan gum (my flour mix had it in it already) and using arrowroot powder in lieu of cornstarch.

http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/gluten-free-gingerbread-men-cookies/

For the Royal Icing, I needed a recipe that didn’t use confectioner’s sugar as that is made of white sugar and corn starch.  Seriously, corn is in everything!  :(  This recipe uses regular granulated sugar.  While mine didn’t stiffen up as well as the recipe indicated, it got thick enough for the boys to pipe it out onto the cookies.

http://heavenlycakepops.com/2014/02/royal-icing-granulated-sugar/

I think for next year with these two recipes, I would like to work on finding a way to make these without refined sugar at all but for this year, we let go a little and just enjoyed them!

2.  Peanut Butter Balls

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Oh goodness were these delicious!!!  And, truly, they really aren’t too unhealthy for you with just simple ingredients: dates, peanut butter, oatmeal, coconut oil, dark chocolate.  The only change I made to this recipe was that I used an unsalted peanut butter so I added a pinch of sea salt to the mix.  Oh, and we made a double batch of these because they were just so good.  These may become a year-round treat at our house instead of just at Christmas treat!  :)

http://www.eatingbirdfood.com/2014/12/healthier-peanut-butter-balls/

3.  Butter Crunch Toffee

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One of my all time favorite Christmas treats that my dad always made when we were younger is Butter Crunch Toffee.  I love it!  But, unfortunately it has corn syrup as one of the ingredients.  Boo!  So, I came across the following recipe that was quite similar to my family’s original.  When my dad and I made it this year, he and I agreed that it turned out even better than the original recipe!  And, I love that it uses maple syrup and no refined sugars!  How awesome is that.

The main changes we made to the recipe were using chopped walnuts instead of almonds, and using unsweetened chocolate on both the top and the bottom of the toffee rather than semi-sweet chocolate on one side.  The other thing that we did was use a candy thermometer, getting the toffee to a hard crack before adding the nuts.

This toffee was so good that we ate it all up well before Christmas even happened and needed to make a second batch. Yum!!!!

http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2013/12/almond-roca-with-maple-syrup-graincorn-syrup-free.html

4.  Belgium Cookies

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When I first started cutting out gluten, one of the foods I most mourned not being able to eat were our family’s traditional Belgium Cookies.  While it is a family recipe and I am not going to publish it here, I just wanted to make note that by using Namaste flour mix one-to-one in the original recipe worked great.  They are such a treat!!! I LOVED that this recipe turned out and tasted so close to the original that even my dad, the Belgium Cookie maker of the family thought they were a close match.  Yay!

 

Chicken Pot Pie (Sugar-free, Grain-free, Dairy-free)

Ok, this one cracks me up… I made a completely sugar free chicken pot pie last night as I am doing a bit of a sugar fast before the holidays. My husband takes a bite of it and says it’s not his favorite, that it had too any sweet vegetables in it. I used cauliflower, carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash, nothing overly sweet there. I am guessing it was the squash he didn’t like but the last thing I would have thought he would complain about was this being too sweet! I thought it was delicious and plan to make it again!

Chicken Pot Pie

Filling:
3 parsnips, sliced
3 carrots, slices
1/2 a head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 whole chicken
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. Chicken broth
2 Tbsp. Arrowroot powder

Crust: (Recipe from http://www.primallyinspired.com)
1 c. Arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/3 c. Avocado or olive oil
1/3 c. Water
1 egg
1/3 c. Coconut flour

Instructions:

In a large crock pot, place whole chicken. Put veggies and garlic around the chicken. Pour broth on. Reserve arrowroot powder for later.

Set crock pot to low and cook for 6-8 Hours or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and take meat off the bones. (Save the carcass for making broth!) Return the meat to the veggies and broth.

Scoop out about 1 c. of the liquid in the crock pot. Whisk in arrowroot powder into the liquid. Return to the mixture.

In a large 2 qt. casserole dish, put chicken and veggie mixture. I had a bit extra that didn’t fit in my casserole dish. I just set it aside to eat for lunch the next day.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and make the crust.

In a medium bowl, mix together arrowroot powder, salt, onion powder and garlic powder.

In a small saucepan, combine water and oil. Bring to just barely a boil. Add to the arrowroot powder mixture and mix well. Let cool for a minute or until you can touch it. Add the egg and coconut oil. Mix with your hands until well combined and forms a ball. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper. Place on top of the casserole dish.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden and crispy on top and bubbly hot inside.

Enjoy!

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Chili

So, I feel like a recipe for Chili is something some people hold sacred, as in this is “THEIR” chili recipe, often with secret ingredients or their own special twists. I can say that I have been working and reworking “MY” chili recipe for quite some time, constantly tweaking the various spices and ingredients. Tonight, I think we finally hit on the combination that is just right. It was spicy without too much heat. It was meaty with some beans, had a few veggies in it without being overly heavy on vegetables. Even my 5 year old ate an entire bowl. Victory!!!

So, here is MY chili recipe. The seasoning is easy to mix up ahead of time and store in the cupboard until you need it. I have done it in a double batch before and used half and kept half for another time. Makes that second time of making chili a little quicker.

*If you like a lot of heat in your chili, add 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper to this recipe. We omit it because it otherwise becomes too spicy for the kids.

Chili

1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 small (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
3 c. chicken broth
1 can kidney beans
1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate

Chili Seasoning

2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 1/2 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 heaping tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. mustard
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf

Instructions:

In a large skillet, saute pepper, onion, and celery until tender and slightly browned. Add ground beef and continue to cook until beef is no longer pink.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until slightly thickened. The longer you simmer, the more the flavors merge and the better it gets. In fact, I prefer my chili a day old as the leftovers are always better than the first day.

Once thickened, serve hot. My family likes it with some crackers and cheese on top. I like mine just plain. Enjoy!

Husband Rating: 9 out of 10

Easy Gluten Free Dairy Free Zucchini Muffins and Bread

I love making zucchini bread and muffins around this time of year. There is so much fresh zucchini available at the farmers markets! This recipe is quick to put together and tastes great. The whole family liked it! I adapted the original recipe (linked here) by cutting some honey, adding some chocolate and making muffins instead of a loaf of bread but making it either way works well! Enjoy!

Easy GF/DF Zucchini Muffins (or Bread)

Makes 12 muffins or 1 loaf of bread

2 c. Almond flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 c. Coconut oil, melted
1/3 c. Honey (or maple syrup would work)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c. Shredded zucchini, lightly packed
1/3 c. Chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin tin with papers. Or if making bread, line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease well with coconut oil.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Don’t over mix.

Pour batter into prepared dish. Bake muffins for 22-25 minutes or bread for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!!

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Ultimate Trail Mix

Trail mix has become a staple snack at our house.  I love it as a pre-run snack and the boys love it when they need a little afternoon snack as well. We love taking it along on road trips and camping trips.  I have played with many combinations but this combination is our favorite.  I have to admit that sometimes my husband even calls it the devil’s mix because it is so tempting that he can’t resist it even when he isn’t hungry.  :)

For any of the nuts and seeds in this recipe, I use only raw and unsalted.  That is the healthiest form to eat them in.  It would be better if I had soaked them but I don’t always have time to do that.  Soaked almonds that are dehydrated are delicious, by the way.  So, when I take the time to do that, it makes this mix even better.

 

Ultimate Trail Mix

2 c. goji berries
2 c. mulberries
1 c. craisins (better if you can find ones that are juice sweetened as opposed to sugar sweetened – I can find that at our local co-op)
3 c. almonds (raw, unsalted, and soaked is best)
1 c. pumpkin seeds (raw, unsalted)
1 c. sunflower seeds (raw, unsalted)
2 c. cashews (raw – I have only seen these at Trader Joe’s or the co-op)
3/4 – 1 c. dark chocolate chunks (I use a 80% cacao chocolate bar and hit it with a rolling pin while it is in it’s wrapper until it is broken into bite sized chunks. You could also use chocolate chips – we prefer Enjoy Life brand).

Mix all ingredients together. Best if stored in the refrigerator.

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Fresh Veggie Penne Saute

This is one of my current favorite meals! I am not one to repeat meals very often as I love variety but this one we have made half a dozen times in the last few months! It’s easy, fresh, healthy, and there is something in it that everyone in the house likes. One of my boys likes the sausage, another the penne, and I love the veggies! With all the farmer’s markets and gardens growing, this meal will be even tastier with those fresh picked vegetables.

One thing we have discovered about this meal is that it is delicious as cold leftovers. So, it makes me think that it could also be a great cold salad for a potluck or picnic. I would think that you could do the veggies either cooked or raw in that case and maybe would leave the meat out. Just a thought. I will let you know if we do it that way.

 

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Fresh Veggie Penne Saute

Recipe adapted from The Nourishing Home

Ingredients

1 lb. Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)
12 oz. gluten-free penne (I use the brown rice penne from Trader Joe’s)
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
2 medium zucchini, sliced
1/2 c. yellow onion diced
6-7 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, reserve 1-2 Tbsp. oil from tomatoes
1/2 c. artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 c. fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/3 c. kalamata olives, halved
salt/pepper to taste

In a medium pot, bring water to a boil.  Cook penne until al dente.  Drain and rinse and set aside.

*To make my clean-up easier, I use the same pot for cooking the noodles as is the bottom to my steamer.  I make the pasta first; then refill with fresh water and steam the broccoli on top.

Chop all veggies and slice the sausage.  Steam broccoli until just tender.

In a large pan, cook sausages until hot through and set aside.  Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is tender.  Add the zucchini and continue to saute until zucchini is just tender.  Add remaining ingredients, including the cooked sausage, noodles, and broccoli and toss together.  If the dish needs a bit more flavor, add a bit more of the reserved oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or cold!

Husband Rating: 7 out of 10

Once Around the Kitchen Soup

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All this snow and cold weather has me craving soups.  On top of it, my little 3 year old has croup and a fever which always inspires me to make a good healthy soup.

Since soup was not originally on my menu plan for the week, I tossed together a bunch of random things to make it, hence using the phrase  “Once Around the Kitchen” in the name.  I ended up tossing in a bunch of veggies that I had in the fridge.  I was feeling doubtful about how this soup would turn out because it seemed like such a random collection of good from around the kitchen but my husband agreed that it was one of the better soups I have made lately.  So, as we ate, I grabbed a notebook and jotted down all I remember adding in.  Hopefully, I got it all.  And if not, no big deal – this is the kind of soup that you can just grab whatever veggies you have on hand, chop them up and toss them in making your own “Once Around the Kitchen Soup”.

 

Once Around the Kitchen Soup

Cooked meat of one chicken, shredded*
1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
6 c. chicken broth (preferably homemade)
2 parsnips, sliced
4-5 small red potatoes, cubed
1 c. sliced zucchini (I had mini ones on hand, perfect size for soup)
1/2 c. green beans, cut into 1 in. pieces
1/4 c. chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
salt/pepper to taste

*Cook the chicken however you prefer. I cooked a whole chicken as a starter for a new batch of chicken broth. Instructions for how I do that follow the recipe.

Instructions:

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots, onion, and celery. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. I simmered mine for about 3 hours because I started it during nap time. About 15 minutes before you serve it, add parsley and taste to see if it needs more pepper/salt. Serve hot. Pretty easy! My kind of meal!

Chicken Bone Broth Instructions

In a large stock pot, place whole chicken, one onion (roughly chopped), 2 carrots (roughly chopped), 1 stalk celery (roughly chopped), 1-2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs), and water to cover all. Turn heat to medium and bring to a simmer.

During the first 30-45 minutes, watch the pot to skim off any scum that floats to the top. Keep heat at a medium to medium low so that it just barely simmers.

After 1 1/2 hours, check the chicken to see if it is cooked through. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the water and turn off the heat. Pull the meat off the chicken putting the meat into a bowl and putting the bones and skin back into the cooking water. Set meat aside for whatever you want to use it for.

After the chicken is cleaned and carcass is back in the water, pour the entire contents of the pot into a crock pot. Set to high and allow to cook for 8-24 hours. I usually alternate between high and low on my crock pot because it seems like the high simmers too high and the low isn’t hot enough to get a good simmer going. Over night I usually leave it at low though.

About 15 minutes before you are ready to finish your broth, add 1 bunch parsley roughly chopped. This step isn’t necessary but I have read that the parsley helps to draw out additional minerals so can be very good for you.

When you are done simmering, strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve. Be sure to press down a little on those veggies to squish out any liquids remaining. Allow broth to cool. A good broth will become gelatinous when cooled. Mine doesn’t always. I haven’t figured out why yet… To store it, I put mine in 2 cup increments in quart sized freezer bags. I then lay them flat in the freezer to freeze. It makes for easy use later on. If you don’t want to freeze it, it can be in the fridge for about a week.

Best broth you can have! I love it and even try to drink it plain once or twice a week for all it’s good health benefits. Enjoy!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chicken Pot Pie

It has been almost a month now of having added in dairy-free and corn-free to my diet status.  I still have those moments of mourning for food I used to eat… like when my family has pizza, or when we go to a restaurant and there are only like 1 or 2 items on the menu I can order.  It really makes me sad because I loved eating out and being able to try adventurous foods that way. But, I am hoping that with time I can either:

A) add some dairy back into my diet occasionally thus giving me a few more options when we eat out, or
B) become more confident in my ability to order food at restaurants that won’t make me sick.

In general though, this who restricted diet thing seems to be getting easier.  I have more ideas now of what we can eat at home and of some simple substitutes or omissions to make in meals to make them gluten-free, dairy-free, and corn-free.

As far as any significant change in my health since doing this, I haven’t really noticed any.  I am wondering though how I might feel once I try some dairy again and if then I will realize what “symptoms” of my intolerance that have gone away.  I have about a month and a half to go until I try.

For dinner tonight, we had a delicious chicken pot pie. It is the second time I have made this recipe and I am really pleased with how it turned out!  It is the perfect meal on a day like today when temperatures never get above -6 degrees.  I found the recipe on a paleo food blog and adapted it a bit for our tastes.  Hope you like it like we did!

By the way, my photos were terrible of this so I will have to add one later.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Chicken Pot Pie

Recipe adapted from http://mrspaleo.blogspot.com/2012/05/chicken-pot-pie-sequel.html

The Filling:

3 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
1 celery stalk, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. green beans
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 14 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
3 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1 Tbsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and diced

The Crust:

1 c. tapioca flour
1/4 c. coconut flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
3 Tbsp. coconut oil or organic coconut spread (butter alternative)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. boiling water

In a large pot, fry bacon until crisp. Add in carrots, onion, garlic, and celery and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add chicken stock, coconut milk, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, beans, and sweet potato. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and whisk in arrowroot powder 1 Tbsp. at a time. Continue simmering until thickened.

Remove from heat, stir chicken in and pour into a 2-qt. casserole dish. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine dry crust ingredients. Cut the coconut oil in to the dry ingredients. When fully cut in, the oil and flours should mix together in pea sized chunks. Add in hot water and mix together into a ball.

Place dough ball on a sheet of parchment paper. Top with another sheet of parchment paper and roll out to approximate size of baking dish.

Using the bottom sheet of parchment paper, lift crust onto top of filling. Peel parchment paper away.

If cooking immediately, place in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about 10 minutes uncovered If you are like me and make it during nap time and bake later, place in a 400 degree oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Keep covered until it starts to get hot in the middle and then remove cover to allow crust to brown up.

Serve immediately.

Husband Rating 8 out of 10

Food for Thought: This is easy to adapt in that you can really add any different vegetables you have. I like to add red potatoes, or maybe peas. Just keep it somewhat similar in proportion to make sure there is enough sauce.

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