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


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:
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.

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

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


Here are some other helpful basics:


  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.


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


  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


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


  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:

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.

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:

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:

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