It’s late February and I’m already longing for summer food. That can’t be good considering I’m sitting her watching the snow fall in huge, fluffy, flakes out of the sky. I suppose the snow and frigid temperatures they are forecasting means that we’ll be waiting quite some time for even spring-like weather. I’ve been craving tomatoes lately and found some today that actually smell like tomatoes are supposed to smell. Since I’ve been longing for summer food I thought I would make a simple tomato and onion salad with the garlic olive oil and balsamic vinegar that my husband bought me for Valentine’s Day. That combined with baked chicken breasts stuffed with sheep’s milk cheese, herbs, and sun-dried tomatoes is the perfect pseudo summer meal.
Tomato & Onion Salad
3 Medium Vine Ripened Tomatoes, sliced
1/4 Red Onion, sliced thinly
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, sliced thinly (chiffonade)
Drizzle of Olive
Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar
Plate sliced tomatoes and onions, sprinkle with basil. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate.
Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Pre-Heat Oven to 350 degrees.
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Block of Sheep’s Milk Cheese
4 Sun-Dried Tomato Halves, chopped
2 Tbsp. Red Onion, chopped finely
1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
2 tsp. Garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. Dried Thyme
Sea Salt & Pepper
Rinse and dry chicken breasts. Place between two pieces of parchment or plastic wrap and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Set aside.
Place cheese, tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, and basil in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with about 3 or 4 grinds of pepper.
Stir together thoroughly and spread on one end of the chicken breasts.
Fold the plain end up and over the filling, tucking in the filling as you go. Place in a prepared dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and the dried thyme.
Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven cover with tin foil and allow to rest for about 8-10 minutes before serving.
We’re just coming off of a four-day weekend and although they are always a welcomed relief from our hectic schedules, the day after when things have to get back to normal seems to draggg by. Sort of like our bodies and minds are putting the brakes on and yelling, “No,I’m not ready to get back into the regular swing of things just yet!” My whole day has been like that. Plus, it’s cold outside and I walked the dogs 4 miles in a windy snowstorm which quite frankly, sucked the life right out of me.
I spent the remainder of the day forcing myself to clean house and then sat on the couch and consumed an entire Big Hunk (yes, they are dairy-free & gluten-free) while reading my new book, “The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship” by Lisa Verge Higgins.
Now it’s coming around to dinner time and I am just as lazy as I was earlier today. Rather than scrambling eggs or making sandwiches, also very easy for a day like this, I believe that lazy, cold days are perfect for pasta. If I’m lucky, I’ll even be able to eat it without looking and continue to read my book.
Lazy Tuesday Pasta
About 20 minutes start to finish. Feeds 2 people.
About 1/2 Package Tinkyada Spinach Spaghetti Style Pasta
2 Tbsp. of Garlic Olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 Sweet Onion, sliced thinly
1/2 Large Red Bell, sliced thinly
3 Sun Dried Tomato Halves, chopped, about 2 Tbsp.
1 Tbsp. Fresh Garlic, chopped or 1 1/2 Tbsp. organic chopped garlic in the jar (love it!)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped
(I also added 1/2 of a grilled chicken breast because I had it left over in the fridge.)
1 or 2 Grinds of Sea Salt
A Few Drizzles of Garlic Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Parsley to Finish
Fill a medium pot with water and about 2 tsp. Sea Salt. Bring to a boil. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, slice and chop vegetables, herbs, and garlic. Once the water begins to boil, add pasta and cook for 15 minutes (I always follow the package directions for gluten-free pasta.) Drain and rinse, set aside until vegetables are done. It won’t take long, the pasta was still hot when I plated everything.
While the pasta is cooking, pour 2 Tbsp. of Garlic Olive Oil in a large skillet and heat on medium to medium high. Add onions and peppers and saute until onions are almost translucent. Add sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, and chicken breast. Continue sautéing until herbs have wilted and tomatoes and chicken are heated through. Season with 1 or 2 grinds of sea salt and plate. Once plated, drizzle lightly with garlic olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
For some reason, chili and cinnamon rolls go together beautifully. I’m not talking about canned chili and a cinnamon roll that came out of a tube either. I’m talking chili from scratch, and warm cinnamon rolls straight from your own oven that have come from the work of your hands.
When I first entered into the gluten-free world I was shocked by some of the baked items I found in the gluten-free freezer section of the grocery store. Seriously, who buys this stuff? On top of that, I’m also dairy-free, which adds another frightful dimension to trying to figure out what to eat. Don’t get me wrong, there are gluten-free choices out there on the shelves and in the freezer sections that are do-able. Some are even quite good. But, with that said, I typically prefer to do my own baking and cooking, control my own ingredients. And when I buy something packaged, I usually doctor it up with my own ideas.
Once I ventured out and learned the science behind gluten-free baking, it opened up a whole new world. I have always loved to cook and bake and was used to doing things a certain way. Gluten-free baking can be challenging. If you like to take gluten recipes and transform them, it can take a lot of trial and error before you come up with a satisfying recipe. But once you do, it’s incredibly rewarding! You can teach an old dog new tricks! Pat yourself on the back, do a happy dance, feed your friends and family… Anyone can throw together an easy wheat, sugar, baking powder, and butter recipe for crying out loud. It’s predictable. It does all the work for you. But gluten-free baking? It can be a wild card, it’s exciting, it makes you use your noggin’. That’s what this dinner is about. A reward for hard work and trying something new “ish”, and the great satisfaction it brings when you’ve created something special with your own hands.
Rich & Spicy Chili
1 lb. Ground Beef, I like to use extra lean
1/2 lb. Ground Hot Sausage, make sure it’s gluten-free
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Stalks Celery, sliced down the middle & diced
1/2 Large Red Bell Pepper, diced
4 Cloves Fresh Garlic, smashed & diced
2 14.5 oz. Cans of Fire Roasted Tomatoes
6 oz. Can Tomato Paste
7 oz. Can Mild Roasted Green Chilis
2 15 oz. Cans Kidney Beans
1 15 oz. Can of White Beans
15 oz. Beef Broth, make sure it’s gluten-free, you may need to add 1/2 cup or so more during the simmering process
3 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Dried Parsley
1/2 Tbsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Dried Basil
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/4 tsp. Ground Pepper Medley
1/2 tsp. Crushed Chili Pepper
Drizzle about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large Dutch Oven, heat on medium to medium high heat and brown the hamburger and hot sausage. While the meats are browning, prepare the vegetables, garlic, and gather the seasonings. Set aside.
Once the meat mixture is browned, remove from pot and set aside. Leave browned bits and drippings in pot. Add onions, pepper, celery, and garlic and saute until onions are translucent.
Drain the beans, set aside.
Pour both cans of roasted tomatoes and the tomato paste in a blender and puree until smooth, set aside.
Once the vegetable mixture is sautéed, add the drained beans, green chilis, spices, meat, and sauce. Stir until combined.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and slowly simmer for 4 hours stirring occasionally.
This is what it will look like after 4 hours.
Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls
Makes about 11 large rolls.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
(If you’re not dairy-free, you can use real butter. I haven’t tried it though, it may alter the outcome.)
For The Rolls:
4 Tbsp. Earth Balance Natural Butter Spread
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Almond Milk,warmed but not hot to the touch
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
2 tsp. Pure Vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp. Yeast, dissolved in the warmed almond milk
1 Cups Sorghum Flour
1/2 Cup Mama’s Almond All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
2 Cups Potato Starch
1/2 Cup Tapioca Flour
4 tsp. Xanthan Gum
4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Sea Salt
Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer on high until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
Warm the almond milk lightly, not hot and add yeast. Stir and let rest while you’re measuring the flours, etc. Measure the sorghum flour, almond flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
To the creamed mixture, add the eggs, oil, vanilla, and milk/yeast mixture. Mix on medium speed scraping down bowl at least once, until combined. It will look curdled.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour and scrape down bowl. Mix on high until thoroughly combined (about 1-2 minutes). Dough will be sticky.
Next, flour a piece of parchment paper and scoop dough out onto paper. Flour the top of the dough and pat down. Flour a rolling-pin and roll the dough into a 21×13 oblong “ish” form.
For The Filling:
4 Tbsp. Earth Balance Natural Butter Spread
1 3/4 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
Place the butter in a small dish and stir until softened enough to spread with the back of a spoon.
Once it is softened, spread carefully all over the rolled out dough.
Sprinkle the dark brown sugar over the entire surface. Smooth with fingers. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Using the parchment paper to assist you, slowly begin to roll up the long sides of the dough. As you go along, tuck the dough toward the paper so that the roll doesn’t end up too loose.
Once it is rolled up completely, pat the ends in so all of the filling doesn’t spill out and smooth out the roll a bit.
Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices and carefully place in a greased 9×13 glass dish, some of the filling will try to sneak out. Place a small dollop of dairy-free butter on each one.
Cover very lightly with sprayed plastic wrap, leaving edges loose, and let rest for 30 minutes on top of stove. Bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes or until lightly browned and when you press in the center it feels firm with just a little give. If you over cook them they’ll be dry, and if you under cook them they’ll deflate.
Remove from oven and allow to cool almost completely before frosting.
I like to frost mine when they are still just a little bit warm on the inside.
For The Frosting:
About 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
About 4 Tbsp. Dairy Free Butter
About 4-6 Tbsp. Almond Milk
About 2 tsp. Almond Extract
Melt butter in microwave and add to powdered sugar, add almond extract, and about 2 Tbs. of the milk. Whisk until completely smooth. Add more almond milk if necessary to make a good spreading consistency, but not too thin. Dollop onto cinnamon rolls and spread carefully with spoon. Make sure someone you love gets to lick the spoon!
Our winters last anywhere from about the end of October through the end of March, sometimes even into the beginning of April. There are years when I worry that it’s going to drag on forever and things will never warm up and bloom. Winter always makes me want to hibernate in the kitchen. I love to fill our house with the scents of baking bread, cookies, pies, soups, and stews.
Steaming, fragrant, homemade soup served alongside a warm roll or large slice of french bread slathered in butter (dairy free for me of course) on a chilly winter day…it gives me the warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Soup is soothing and comforting. Typically the first thing we crave if we’re not feeling well, and there’s a reason for that. Soup equals love and comfort, in my mind anyway. If you’re lucky enough to come from a “foodie” family, it’s the first thing your mom or grandma make for you if you’re not feeling well. It’s comforting on a cold day, calming on a stressful day, and a perfect gift for someone you care about that is going through a hard time in life.It’s a labor of love and you can taste it in every, soothing drop.
Spicy Sausage & Cabbage Soup
2 Pkgs. Al Fresco Chipotle Chorizo Chicken Sausage With Mango and Adobo, sliced on the diagonal
1 Whole Red Onion, diced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced
3 Medium Red Potatoes, cubed
3 Large Italian Kale Leaves, rough chopped
1/2 Cabbage, rough chopped
1 Tbsp. Oregano, torn into pieces
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed and diced
2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
3 32 oz. Boxes of Chicken Broth, make sure it’s gluten-free I use the organic Pacific brand
About 2 Tbsp. of Sea Salt
Several Grinds of Pepper
About 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Heat olive oil in dutch oven on medium to medium high heat. Add sausage and brown.
Remove from dutch oven and set aside. Add onions, pepper, and garlic to dutch oven and saute until onions are almost translucent.
While the onion mixture is cooking, chop the Italian kale and potatoes.
Slice the cabbage.
Add the sausage, potatoes, kale, cabbage, oregano, and hot pepper flakes to the onion and pepper mixture in the dutch oven and combine.
Add the 3 boxes of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a low to medium boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes or so. Add the salt and pepper and serve with warm gluten-free rolls or french bread.
I’m not a big fan of really sweet breakfasts. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t turn down a pancake, waffle, or crepe, but when I do have those types of breakfasts I like to balance it out with some savory side dishes. The men in my house usually wake up thinking about something sweet to eat, but not me. Starting my day off with a sugar load usually leaves me with a huge headache and within a couple of hours I’m hungry again. Typically, I eat leftovers for breakfast from our dinner the night before, but today a fish taco just didn’t sound all that great at 7:00 in the morning. Remembering that I still had leftover riced potatoes from our Valentine’s Day dinner, visions of seasoned potato cakes, bacon, and an egg began dancing through my head. This is such an easy breakfast to whip up…maybe 30 minutes from start to end tops, and that includes the eggs and bacon.
Savory Potato Pancakes
About 2 Cups Leftover Mashed Potatoes or Riced Potatoes
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp. Basil, finely chopped
1 tsp. Garlic, finely chopped
About 4 Grinds of Sea Salt
About 6 Grinds of Pepper
Drizzle of Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Bacon Fat, if you have it
Pico de Gallo, if you have it, or you can use ketchup, salsa, hot sauce, whatever you like.
Place potatoes in a medium bowl and add the chopped oregano, basil, and garlic. Add the beaten egg and sea salt and pepper. Stir gently until all ingredients are incorporated.
Heat olive oil & bacon fat in a large skillet on medium to medium-high. Place potato mixture into skillet by large spoonfuls and flatten lightly with spatula.
Fry until golden brown about 5 minutes or so on each side. Keep an eye on them so they don’t get too dark.
Remove from pan and plate, top with Pico sauce. Serve with all natural, uncured bacon, an egg, and orange juice or coffee.