Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pasta Primavera- Gluten Free or Regular

This recipe can easily be made gluten free or with regular pasta. My favorite type of gluten free pasta is organic brown rice pasta:
I have been able to find this brand at my local grocery store. Its not mushy and has a great taste, perfect for pasta primavera.


Pasta Primavera

 
 
Ingredients
 

8ounce package of penne pasta (gluten free or regular depending on dietary needs)
2 medium bellpeppers(I used red & orange), seeded and chopped into 1 inch square pieces
1 cup of sugar snap peas
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots (These are easy to buy pre-shredded)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup grated Romano. (1/2 cup goes in pasta, the rest is used to sprinkle on top)
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp GF tamari (or regular soy sauce for a NON gluten free version)
salt and pepper to taste
 
Please refer to this post on how to chop vegetables, if needed: http://wholesomelysweet.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-chop-vegetables.html
 
Step 1: Rinse and cut vegetables, grate cheese. Get all ingredients ready and measured.
Step2: Cook pasta until al dente. Rinse pasta and save 1 tbsp water. Toss pasta with 1 tsp olive oil to keep pasta from sticking together and set aside.
Step 3: While pasta is cooking, Cook bell pepper, snap peas, squash and zucchini in a large skillet or wok on medium high heat with 2 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add carrots and mushrooms and continue cooking for 5 to 7  minutes until all veggies are tender.  If needed, add more olive oil to keep from sticking. Season with salt, pepper and tamari sauce. 
*Dont overcook or you will end up with mushy vegetables!
Step 4: Add pasta and 1 tbsp reserved pasta water to veggies. Season to taste with salt, pepper and romano cheese. Mix well.
Step 5: This dish should be served immediately and topped with additional cheese.
 
Enjoy!
 
 
 

How to Chop Vegetables


**For Those of you who are just learning to cook, I found this knowledge very helpful with recipes. Knowing how to cut your vegetables is key in getting the recipe turn out the right way.


 First, lets start with How to slice a bell pepper: Video by Chef Tony from bbqguys.com





Next, here's a video on how to cut an onion, also Chef Tony, bbquys:


 

Here are some other helpful basics:

Julienning

Julienning
  1. Peel vegetable. Trim ends.
  2. Slice vegetable into 2-inch x 1/4-inch slices.
  3. Stack the slices and cut into lengthwise 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch strips.

Mincing

Mincing
  1. Roughly chop vegetable on cutting board with chef's knife.
  2. Continue to chop until vegetables are very finely chopped.

Dicing

Dicing
  1. Slice vegetable into 2 inch x 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Stack vegetables and slice into 1/2 inch vertical slices. Hold slices tightly with hand and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch intervals

Cubing

Cubing
  1. Repeat as above except cut pieces into 1-inch pieces.

Slicing

Slicing
  1. Slice vegetable on the diagonal at 1/2-inch intervals with knife held at a 45 degree angle during slicing.
How to cut vegetables, provided by: http://www.lhj.com/recipes/easy/cut-vegetables/



Now put your skills to work! Pasta Primavera Recipe up next!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What's for Dinner? Easy Baked Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa

I want to start off by saying that I took a nice long break to focus on planning and enjoying our beautiful wedding! I couldn't ask for a sweeter husband and more supportive family, it was an amazing time!! Here's a glimpse of our beautiful ceremony:

 
 
With that being said, now I can continue..
 One thing my husband tells me the one thing he enjoys the most about my cooking is how good his stomach feels afterwards. Let me explain. Sometimes when you go out to eat, or eat unhealthy foods, you are left with rumbling in your stomach and feelings of extreme fullness. Heartburn, indigestion, etc. are signs that you ate something that your body is not digesting well.
Over time, poor digestion leads to malnutrition and, according to the Mayo Clinic, can lead to various health problems, including fatigue, depression, weakened immune system, anemia, muscular weakness, digestive, lung and heart problems and poor skin integrity. Poor digestion equals poor health.
That is why I strive to use natural ingredients that are whole foods in my meals so that after the meal, you are left with a happy tummy and a healthy body!
 
Eating healthy can be easy once you get used to cooking your own meals. Here is what I made for dinner with a break down of 3 easy recipes: Baked Chicken with Lemon & Herbs, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Quinoa and a light salad. Please read through all recipes and follow the steps to see how to prepare them so that everything is ready at the same time. This takes practice but comes easy over time.
 
Baked Chicken with Lemon & Herbs
 
 
8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp dryed basil
1 tsp dryed oregano
 
 
Step 1: prepare chicken and put in oven for 50 minutes total.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken thighs into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare marinade by mixing olive oil, butter and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add in herbs and mix well. Pour marinade over chicken and toss to coat. Let the chicken marinade for 10-30 minutes in the fridge. Once chicken has marinated, layer the chicken out into a large baking dish, skin up and cover dish with aluminum foil. Place in heated oven. total cooking time is 45 minutes plus an extra 5 minutes for browning.
 *Add sweet potatoes to oven with chicken after 15 minutes. Once you remove the sweet potatoes, remove the aluminum foil, turn heat up to 450 degrees and allow chicken to brown for about 5 more minutes.
 
Roasted Honey Sweet Potatoes
 
2 lbs sweet potatoes (or 4 large), rinsed and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
 
Step 2: Cut and rinse sweet potatoes, toss with glaze and place in oven with chicken for 30 min.
Place cut sweet potatoes into a large bowl. Make a simple glaze for the potatoes by mixing olive oil, butter and lemon juice. Add in honey, mix well. Pour over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Season with salt and lightly with pepper. Spread out the sweet potatoes evenly onto a large baking sheet. Place them in the oven once chicken has been baking for 15 minutes. The potatoes will take 30 minutes to fully cook and you should toss them around half way through to make sure the cook evenly. Remove from oven once tender. *You will then need to brown the chicken for 5 more minutes on high heat. Allow potatoes and chicken to cool some before serving.
 
Quinoa
 


1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups water
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin for flavor
 
Step 3: Rinse quinoa well and cook for 15-20 minutes until fluffy
Once well rinsed, add quinoa and water to a medium size saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add butter and simmer for 15-20 minutes until fluffy. Season with salt and cumin once cooked.
**Optional: add in finely chopped veggies such as squash and zucchinni, carrots, spinach or bellpepper half way through cooking. Other ideas for flavor:  use 1 cup water and 1 cup broth. Which ever option you choose, dont over do it. Quinoa has a great nutty flavor and doesnt require much additions, it tastes well just lightly seasoned. And of course, it's gluten free! It is very nutrient dense and is a complete protein source, providing all essential amino acids. Read more about it here:  http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice
 
Salad




Spinach
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped avocado
Coconut vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
 
Step 4: Create a light, easy salad to go with your meal for added veggies.
Toss some awesome veggies with a light dressing, salt and pepper right before your meal is ready. I have been using coconut vinegar on my salads along with olive oil and it gives such a great taste. It also is very low glycemic, and is an abundant source of 17 amino acids, minerals, vitamin C, broad-spectrum B vitamins, and has a nearly neutral pH. Its very healthy and inexpensive. The Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Vinegar can be ordered at my favorite site: www.vitacost.com.





If you followed the steps and watched the timer, all items should be ready about the same time.  Here's my finished meal:
 
Enjoy!!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gluten Free Pancakes

These pancakes taste even better if you make them the night before and let the flours soak overnight. Gluten free pancakes tend to taste a little grainy compared to the regular ones. Allowing the mix to sit in the fridge overnight helps the grains to soften up and taste more like regular pancakes.


Ingredients:

2 tsp ground flax meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup arrow root starch
1/4 cup brown rice flour
Optional* 1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 eggs separated
2/3 cup kefir or buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
5 tbsp butter melted and cooled slightly
2 tbsp honey or sugar (I used coconut sugar)

Preheat a skillet to medium heat.
Mix all dry ingredients well in a large bowl. 
Mix egg yolks with kefir and vanilla in a small bowl. 
Separately, whip egg whites with a whisk until frothy. 
Add yolk mixture to dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add honey and butter, mix well. Next, blend in egg whites until fully mixed. 
Add about a tsp of coconut oil or butter to preheated skillet. Scoop or ladle about 1/4 cup of mixture at a time, allowing it to brown a few minutes before flipping. When it is ready to flip,  you will see bubbles starting to form around the edges, as shown in the picture below. The second side should only take about 1 to 2 minutes before ready. Enjoy!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Scrambled Eggs, Veggie Style

Add some spice to your morning routine! We are trying to incorporate veggies into all our meals and this is a great way to start off your day with them. Of course, you could try different veggies. This is just one example how you can add veggies to breakfast.



Ingredients
6 eggs
4 tbsp milk or water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Start off by preheating a cast iron skillet or other skillet to medium heat.
In a medium size bowl, about 4 tbsp water or milk and eggs. Whisk well.
Add the sun dried tomatoes and olive oil to skillet. Allow them to heat about 30 seconds and then add eggs. Stir eggs as they cook. Once almost cooked, add chopped spinach and mix well. Remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sharing Homemade Tiramisu with my Lovely Sister!

I made a yummy gluten free Tiramisu this week and was able to share it with my sister. Desserts are even better when you can share them with the people you love!
This is a very easy recipe to make. But, it does require espresso, which gives it a rich flavor. Since I don't have a good espresso maker, I found myself at Starbucks asking for 10 shots of espresso.. hehe!
Tiramisu happens to be a dessert that both my sister and I love, and we were happy to indulge in this one since we both eat gluten free. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
*And of course, you could use regular lady fingers if you do not eat gluten free.




One taste of Hazelnut coffee and she's hooked! It's even more delicious when paired with Tiramisu!



Good until the last bite! 
A special thanks to my sister for being my model and enjoying my homemade Tiramisu with me!

Ingredients
1 (5.3 oz) box or 15 gluten free lady fingers 









About 8 or 9 shots espresso (you could use coffee, but it wont have as rich of a flavor!)
2 tsp dark or golden rum
2 1/2 tbsp cane sugar
8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp cocoa powder

Pour espresso into a large shallow baking dish to cool. Once cooled, place lady fingers in espresso for about 10 seconds on each side, allowing espresso to soak in. Don't over soak them, as this may cause them to fall apart. Remove and layer half of lady fingers evenly into a smaller, 8 inch baking dish. Set the others aside, out of the espresso.
Blend sugar and egg yolks in a mixer at medium speed for about 5 minutes until pale yellow and thick. Add rum and 1 tbsp espresso. Mix well.
Add half of the mascarpone mixture evenly on top of lady fingers. Sprinkle half of cocoa powder on top evenly. Add the rest of lady fingers on top of cocoa. Add the rest of mascarpone mixture evenly on top. Sprinkle the rest of the cocoa powder on top. Now you have two layers of lady fingers, mascarpone and cocoa powder. It just needs to sit at least 8 hours in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap. 
**We tasted ours early and the lady fingers were still crispy. This is how you know it is not ready. The longer it sits, the better it will taste. After one full day, the lady fingers will absorb more flavor and soften. This is when it's best. Enjoy!!




**Caution is suggested in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, it is recommended that you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers

I feel good about posting this recipe since it has many healthy ingredients. Its got plenty of vegetables that are chopped and blended in, brown rice for whole grains, and beef for protein. I also found it easy to prepare, and got some house work done while they baked. If you are short on time, you could chop and prepare the veggies on the day before. This  makes the  total cooking time much shorter.
I also found that what gave this meal a great taste was seasoning and browning/carmelizing the ingredients before stuffing the peppers.
For those who would like a meat-free version, simply saute veggies with some chopped portabella mushrooms for protein(5 grams in 1 cup) and mix with the cooked rice. Baking time may be shorter without meat, watch until golden brown.



Ingredients
Cooked brown rice- made with 1 cup rice and 1 cup water, 1 cup beef broth-use all natural/organic
10 bell peppers in various colors- 9 seeded and tops removed, 1 chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 lb carrots, finely chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
1 diced tomato
1 cup finely chopped spinach
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
pepper and salt
Optional- about 1/2 cup of tomato ketchup or tomato sauce to top peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add bell peppers and about 2 tsp salt. Boil for around 3 minutes. Stir with a spoon, making sure they are completely submerged. Flesh should be slightly softened and colors bright. Depending on how big the pot is, you may have to do a couple of batches if they do not all fit. Drain and set aside to cool.
Heat a large skillet at medium high heat. Add oil and onions and saute until tender. Add the one chopped bell pepper, carrots and garlic and continue cooking until tender. Remove from skillet and add to a large bowl.  
Season beef with salt and pepper. Put the beef in the skillet at medium high heat and brown until almost cooked through. Set aside to cool.
Add spinach, parsley, tomatoes, and cooked rice to bowl with onions and carrots. Gently mix. Season with oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.  Next  add in beef.  Now, all ingredients are in one bowl. It may be easier to put on gloves and mix with your hands at this point.
Once all ingredients are mixed, drizzle about 1 tsp of olive oil inside peppers and fill peppers with beef mixture. Add 1/4 cup of water to a baking dish and arrange peppers in it( you may need more than one dish). Optional- you may put 1-2 tsp of tomato ketchup or tomato sauce on top of each stuffed pepper. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until the internal temperature reaches about 160 degrees.
Enjoy!





Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Good Morning! These sweet muffins make a perfect morning snack! They are light and have a nice aroma of cinnamon and sweet apple taste. There are options listed to add a little more health- added carrots or raisins if you would like. Sometimes simple is better, and that's how we enjoy these muffins !



Ingredients
1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar- (We use coconut sugar, but you can use regular sugar here)
Optional- 1/2 cup natural brown sugar (not needed if using coconut sugar)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter (melt half way and stir well so its not too hot)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 green apple, cored, peeled and diced into small pieces
1/4 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut

Optional:
1/2 cup chopped nuts- walnuts or pecans are good in this recipe
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, brown sugar if using, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Break up any lumps.
In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture, stir gently until just combined. Do not over mix. Add apples and coconut. (you may now add nuts, carrots or raisins if using). Again, stir gently and carefully not to over mix.
Spoon batter into about 12-16 lined muffin cups(depending on if you add optional ingredients) until 2/3 full. Bake 25- 30 minutes until fully cooked. Toothpick should come out clean.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Chicken and Rice Casserole




Portabella mushrooms give this casserole a different and rich flavor. Finely chopped veggies are not as noticable for picky eaters. Veggie broth and seasoning help disguise the brown rice. Sometimes a casserole dish can help get your family to eat whole grains and veggies without knowing it. Enjoy  :)

Ingredients
2 cups all natural chicken broth (read label, some contain MSG)
1 cup rice
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch cubes
Extra virgin olive oil for cooking
1 onion chopped, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 whole red bellpepper, finely chopped
2 chopped portabella mushrooms- 1 inch cubes
2 tsp basil, 2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp garlic
2 cups spinach, chopped finely
1 tomato diced into small pieces
1 cup cheese ( I used half munster and half parmesan)
2 eggs lightly beaten
Extra cheese for topping *optional


Preaheat oven to 325.
 Heat broth, add rice and 1 tsp salt. Bring to boil. (optional- add 1 tbsp butter). Reduce heat and simmer covered until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Approx 20-25 minutes.
While rice is cooking, Saute diced chicken in large skillet on medium high heat in oil, season with half of basil and oregano, salt, pepper and 1 tsp garlic. Remove chicken and set aside in a large bowl.
Add a little more oil and saute onion, bell pepper and celery until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add mushrooms and 1 tsp garlic, cook until just tender. Add the rest of basil and oregano. Add mixture and cooked rice to bowl with chicken.
Mix tomato, cheese, eggs and spinach in a separate bowl. Add this to chicken, vegetables and rice mixture. Now, you should have all ingredients blended in one bowl.
Pour mixture evenly in a greased 9 by 13 baking dish. Bake in oven for 35 - 40 minutes until cooked and lightly golden bown. You can add cheese and put the entire dish back in oven at 450 degrees for about 5-10 minutes to brown if you are ready to eat now.
***Or
If you have more time and are not eating tonight, remove and let cool completely (about 1 hour).  This will allow the casserole to set. Once cool, slice into pieces, top each piece with cheese and put slices in oven at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes when ready to eat. The slices will be more composed, not falling apart and the top will be nice and browned.





Saturday, June 23, 2012

Veggie and Shrimp Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Here's a yummy and healthy dinner idea that gives some variety to your usual routine. Its packed with veggies and is made with goat cheese which has more health benefits than some other cows milk cheeses. Goat cheese is lower in calories and fat, a good source of protein, easier to digest and contains probiotics! It also makes this dish creamy and gives it a smooth flavor. No reason to feel guilty with this meal. You can also leave out the shrimp for a vegetarian alternative. Also, the veggies are sautéed before hand so that once everything is prepped, the oven time is very short.



Ingredients:

15-20 ounces shrimp, peeled
portabella mushroom caps, 10 medium size or 8 large size
1 onion chopped
1 bellpepper chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery

2 zucchini chopped
2 squash chopped
1 eggplant chopped
salt and white pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp oil for cooking. (olive oil or other)
2 tsp paprika
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp chopped garlic
5-6 ounces goat cheese
 
*Healthier Option- Instead of 6 ounces of goat cheese, do 3 ounces cheese and about 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt or plain yogurt
Optional- parmesan cheese to top


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Prepare all ingredients: chop vegetables and peel shrimp. Take portabella mushroom caps and scrape out gills and the core in the center with a spoon (Makes sort of a bowl to fill up later). Brush the outside of the caps with olive oil to help them cook. 
  • Saute onions and celery in 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet on medium high heat until tender. Add  bell peppers, squash, eggplant and zucchini and saute as well until tender, adding oil if necessary. Add in garlic. Season veggies while cooking with salt, paprika and pepper. Put in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 
  • Saute shrimp on medium high heat until pink and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice. Remove from heat once cooked and chop in halves. Add to cooked veggies. 
  • Next, add in goat cheese (and yogurt) to the shrimp and veggie mixture. Carefully toss to mix. Fill up the portabella mushroom caps by spooning in the shrimp and veggie mixture. Top with shredded parmesan cheese for extra flavor if you would like. Line the finished mushrooms up along a baking tray and place in the oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown on the top. 

  • Here's what they should look like right before going into the oven. I just put 2 mushrooms on the pan since that is all we are eating tonight. The rest are in the fridge. I will heat them in the oven when we are ready to eat them. Since the center mixture is cooked, you can wait for a couple of days to put them into the oven until you are ready to eat them. (Or freeze them). 
  • Also, if you have some of the mix left over, you can stuff some potatoes with it. I baked potatoes in the oven, cut them in half and scooped out the center. Added that to the mix and then stuffed the potato skins. Top with cheese and put them back into the oven for 10 minutes. New twist on twice baked potatoes!



Enjoy! 

Looks like my husband approves... yum!





Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken Fajitas

It's Fajita night!! Here's a yummy fajita recipe that can be enjoyed over rice or traditionally in tortillas of your choice with your favorite toppings. Marinade included in the recipe.



Fajita Marinade:
1 cup cold water
1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp basil, 1 tsp oregano
4 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
14 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime
1/4 bunch of cilantro, chopped finely
1 1/2 to 2 lbs chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch strips

Add lemon juice to cold water followed by other ingredients while whisking in between. Finally, slowly whisk in olive oil. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes in fridge, covered. When ready to use, take chicken out of marinade with tongs and remove excess water by damping with paper towels.

Fajita ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
3 chopped and seeded bell peppers, color of your choice
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinated chicken
1-2 tsp mexican seasoning (or use a blend of chili powder, cumin and paprika)



Heat pan to medium high heat. Add oil and marinated chicken. Season with salt, pepper and mexican seasoning. Use lid to drain excess water if necessary in order to brown chicken. Remove chicken once fully cooked and set aside. Add oil and onions, cook until tender and lightly browned. Add peppers and cook until just tender; season with salt and pepper. Add chicken back to skillet. Serve with tortillas, fajita style or over brown rice as a fajita bowl like picture below. We also use greek yogurt to top with instead of sour cream. For gluten free, use corn tortillas. Enjoy  :)


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cilantro Lentils with Red Potatoes



Cilantro Lentils with Red Potatoes
Estimated cooking time:45 minutes to 1 hour

Ingredients:
Green lentils- 16-ounce bag
Red potatoes- 4-5 medium
2 Small red bell peppers- chopped
1 cup finely chopped carrots
Juice of ½ lemon, plus 2 tsp lemon juice reserved
Seasoning- pepper and salt to taste
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
2 tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
½ cup coconut milk
2 tsp lime juice
Cilantro- ½ bunch, fresh and chopped


Soak lentils for about 5 minutes and rinse well. Put lentils in a pot and cover with water about 1 inch over lentils. Bring to boil and then turn down to medium heat. Add salt & pepper to taste. Add lemon juice.
 Cut potatoes into cubes and sauté in a skillet over medium-high heat  in butter and oil until tender. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin. Add to lentils.  Add bell peppers and chopped carrots to skillet, sauté until tender. Season with salt and lightly with pepper. Add peppers to lentils. Pour coconut milk into skillet while hot to deglaze and add to lentils. Turn down to low heat and continue cooking  until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes to 45 minutes. (depends on how fresh the lentils are, etc.)  Add fresh chopped cilantro, reserved lemon and lime juice when done and mix well. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shepherd's Pie (Gluten Free)

Here's a recipe that really feels like an American favorite! And who doesn't love meat and potatoes? This is comfort food to me. It's hearty, healthy and yummy! I'm happy to share this one with you. **This recipe is also gluten free.





Ingredients
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 cups frozen seasoning blend veggies
*these are awesome to cook with! Find them in the frozen veggie section. They are already cut up onions, celery, bell peppers, etc. Much easier than cutting up onions and adds great flavor without added preservatives or other ingredients. No salt even! Just veggies. Worry free addition  :)







1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen sliced carrots
1-3 tbsp butter or other oil for sauteing
3-5 pounds red potatoes rinsed and cut into cubes. cut off any sprouts, peel if desired
2 tbsp butter for potatoes
1 cup milk ( I used coconut milk which gave a nice flavor and bc my fiance is lactose intolerant)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable broth (you may use beef broth as well.)
1 1/2 tsp chopped garlic
Seasoning to taste- salt & pepper, oregano, basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese to add to top. (or whatever cheese you prefer)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cover potatoes with water in a medium size pot and bring to a boil. Add about a 1/2 tsp salt. Turn to medium heat and cook until tender. About 15- 20 minutes. Drain in a strainer once tender.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, crumble ground beef and put in a large preheated skillet on medium high heat. Season with salt & pepper, basil and oregano. Add garlic. Continue cooking until fully cooked. 
  4. Heat milk and 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pan on medium heat until steaming and warm. Mash up potatoes well with a potato masher or whisk in a bowl (while they are still warm). Add milk and butter to potatoes. Add 1 tsp salt and baking powder. Mix well until smooth.
  5. Remove beef from skillet and set aside. Add seasoning blend veggies in skillet with oil on medium high heat and saute for a few minutes until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add in carrots and continue cooking until tender about 5 -7 minutes. Add more oil if they start to stick. Season carrots as well. Add peas in and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
  6.  (Note- I always lightly season each layer to given a nice, flavor throughout. This way, you are building flavors and you don't end up with a bland dish. Don't over do the seasonings, just sprinkle lightly. Taste to make sure it is enough.)
  7. When all vegetables are tender, add beef back to skillet along with broth. Stir together and put the lid on for about 5 minutes to simmer, making sure everything is cooked throughout.
  8. Spread beef and vegetable mixture along the bottom of a greased 9x13 baking dish. Carefully spread the potato mixture evenly along the top. There should be plenty of potatoes to give a nice layer on top. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. 

Remove right before done and add some shredded cheese, put back into oven to melt for about 2 minutes only. Mine looked like this in the end after cheese:

Enjoy!!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Healthy Tuna Salad


Here's is a healthier version of tuna salad for your next tuna sandwich! Instead of mayo, I use plain greek yogurt and olive oil to give a similar taste with much less calories. For this recipe, I used 2  3-ounce cans of albacore tuna in water. I find it has a fresher, lighter taste. 



6 ounces tuna
3 tbsp 0% fat plain greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chopped garlic (to taste)
1 tsp lemon juice
Option- 1 boiled and chopped egg

Combine all ingredients and mix. Chopped tomato and / or chopped avocado are great additions to this recipe. Serve with fresh bread or toast. Enjoy!
***0% greek yogurt has about 8 calories per tablespoon compared to regular mayo which has 100 calories per tablespoon. By also adding the olive oil, you get a similar taste to mayo with only adding 40 calories per teaspoon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Coconut Apple Crisp (Gluten Free)



We LOVED this apple crisp! It reminds me of apple pie but with a taste of coconut. I found it very easy to make and received only positive comments from family who tasted this yummy dessert. Plus, it's gluten free! Check the bottom of this recipe for information regarding substitutions (if you must)!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
About 8 servings

Ingredients:
4 medium apples peeled, cored & diced
1 ½ cups coconut flakes
6 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or 2 tbsp white sugar and 4 tbsp brown sugar)













1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp salt
½ cup coconut flour

4 tsp honey warmed
6 tbsp butter melted
3 tsp lemon juice

*Optional/Recommended- So Delicious coconut milk ice cream



Preheat Oven to 350°F.
Place apples evenly in an 11X7 baking dish coated with oil or butter.
**When thinly and evenly spread, this dessert achieves a nice crunchy top.
In a medium size bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. Next, mix together liquid ingredients in a small, separate bowl. Add to dry ingredients. Stir until mixture resembles course meal. Top apples with mixture creating a thin layer on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until brown and crispy on top. Serve with ice cream.

Substitutions: I have tried this recipe with other types of flours. You can substitute coconut flour for regular or whole wheat pastry flour if you are not concerned with having a gluten free recipe. (no need to change amounts. Use 1/2 cup of any flour you like). Oats may also be used in place of coconut flakes. But, if you have access to these ingredients, I suggest trying it this way!! We really loved the flavor and consistency. Good luck!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chicken and Bell Pepper Roll Ups



These chicken roll ups are a great way to change up your regular taco routine! They are very easy to make and also a great way to get more vegetables in your diet. 




Chicken and Bell Pepper Roll ups
Estimated cooking time:15 minutes
Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 yellow, 1 red and 1 orange bell pepper, rough chopped
1 cup spinach, freshly & finely chopped 
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, rough chopped
2 lbs chicken- cut into 1 inch small cubes or small strips
2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
½ tsp garlic, chopped
Seasoning- salt and pepper

Dice all veggies separately and set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown on medium-high in large skillet in 2 tbsp  olive oil or coconut oil. Remove chicken and set aside. Add bell peppers to skillet and cook on medium high for a few minutes until tender. Make sure to leave space between vegetables when sauteing to make sure moisture can evaporate and this will aid in browning your vegetables. 

Add sundried tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper to skillet with bell peppers. Add chicken back to mixture and make sure chicken is fully cooked.  Remove from heat and add fresh chopped spinach to mixture. Mix well. Put a few tablespoons of the finished product in a heated corn tortilla and top with Greek yogurt (healthier choice than sour cream) or cheese if you like. Enjoy!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Banana Peach Freeze

This recipe is easy to make and has only 5 ingredients! It has a consistency of a thick milk shake and can also be served in small bowls like ice cream. I prefer using coconut milk because it gives it a creamy taste, but you can use any type of milk in this recipe. Even soy or almond milk if you are lactose intolerant. Enjoy!


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sliced frozen peaches
2 sliced and frozen bananas
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp honey

Put bananas and peaches into a blender. Pour milk on top. Pulse, turn off blender and stir to loosen up fruit chunks. Repeat until fruit chunks are broken. Add in honey and spice and blend until mixed. Should be a thick, creamy and smooth consistency. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 servings.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fresco Mozzarella Basil Stuffed Hamburgers

For memorial day, my fiance and I enjoyed some amazing hamburgers! This recipe is a simple, grill recipe with all natural ingredients. My fiance, Tony, is the chef for bbqguys.com and shopperschoice.com and does product and recipe videos. He taught me many of the cooking skills that I have today.  I included the recipe video to share with you below. This recipe is one of my favorites, I hope you enjoy it!


Fresco Mozzarella Basil Stuffed Hamburgers



Chef Tony's Memorial Day Burger Recipe

Ingredients:

  • Ground Chuck (80/20) 4 Lbs
  • Mozzarella Cheese (Shredded) 3/4 Cup
  • Basil (Rough Chopped) 3 Tbsp
  • Parmesan Cheese (Fresh grated) 3 Tbsp
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 Tsp
  • Keiser Rolls or Hamburger Buns 6 Each
  • Kosher Salt 1 Tsp
  • Black Pepper 1/2 Tsp
  • White Pepper 1/4 Tsp
  • Roma Tomatoes 3 Each
  • Basil (Fresh Chopped) 3 Tbsp
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil 3 Tbsp
  • Salt and Pepper To taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes 1 tsp
















Steps:

  1. Begin by pre-heating your grill to 425-450F, preferably with a hot side and a cooler side; by setting one side of your grills burners lower than the other (after per-heating).
  2. Place ground chuck in a large mixing bowl, breaking-up loosely. Add salt, black and white pepper and lightly blend them together.
  3. In a separate bowl, blend together the shredded Mozzarella, grated Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh chopped basil.
  4. Dice tomatoes and place in a colander, in the sink, or over a bowl; sprinkle with salt and allow them to masserate for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Once masserated, blend diced tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until hamburgers are cooked.
  6. Begin scooping out a small hand full of ground chuck and placing the loose balls on a baking sheet. Once you have all twelve balls portioned out (roughly the same amount in each), Begin forming patties by lightly pressing them down with your hands; careful not to over work or compress your patties. Once Flat and round, use your thumb to create a well in the center of each patty.
  7. With a kitchen spoon, fill each of 6 wells with the mozzarella mixture, lightly pressing in with the back of the spoon.
  8. Place the 6 empty patties on top of the 6 filled patties and lightly press together, Crimping the edges of each with your finger tips. Once all patties are crimped your ready for the grill.
  9. Grill the hamburgers for about 3 minutes on each side for medium and continue cooking a couple minutes per side if you prefer med-well to well done burgers.
  10. Toast the buns on the grill for 30-45 seconds, place patties on each of 6 buns and top with spoonfuls of the fresh marinated tomatoes and basil.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gluten free pasta with chicken sausage


Gluten Free pasta with chicken sausage
Estimated cooking time: 20 minutes



Ingredients
Chicken sausage- 12 ounce pack of fully cooked sausage sliced on diagonal into ¼ inch slices. ( I like Al fresco roasted garlic chicken sausage with onion & herbs. Its also Gluten Free)


1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter
½ tsp garlic chopped
1 bag of Gluten free brown rice spiral pasta (you may use any type of pasta)
juice of ¼ large lemon
½ tsp lemon zest
2 tsp basil pesto (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil)
salt to taste

1 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese( to add on top of finished pasta)


Cook pasta. While pasta is cooking, sauté sausage until brown in large skillet on medium high heat with 1 tbsp oil, garlic & 1 tbsp butter. Remove from heat once brown. Drain pasta once it is tender. Don’t overcook. Add remaining ingredients to pasta and then add to skillet with sausage. Toss to mix. Serve immediately with fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top.
*This works great with any type of pasta, regular or whole wheat. You also may use a different type of sausage if you prefer.