Monday, November 28, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Bake

It's no secret Jon and I both have an affinity for all things "buffalo." When I was cruising around food blogs and I found this recipe on Holy Cannoli Recipes, I knew I had to try it asap.

I made minimal tweaks to the recipe to adapt it for my gluten free life style. It was delicious. Jon gave rave reviews.

We kept it very simple by serving the dish with a side of raw celery and carrot sticks. Easy, filling, and oh so satisfying!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures!

Buffalo Chicken Bake
Serves 6-8

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1/3 cup Franks buffalo sauce
6 cups shredded potatoes
1 cup light ranch dressing
1/2 cup reduce fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (10 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup *
1/3 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1/4 tsp each- garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt, black pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. 

Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. 

In medium bowl, stir together chicken strips and buffalo sauce. Spoon into baking dish in a single layer. 

In the same bowl, stir together potatoes, dressing, cheese and soup. Spread over chicken. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over the top. Sprinkle with seasonings.

Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

* As always- make sure you are using a gluten free cream of chicken soup if you don't make your own.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

GF Corn Bread Stuffing

Happy Belated Thanksgiving. My apologies on the tardiness of my greetings, but I was busy in retail land. AND spending time with the amazing family God has blessed me with. :)

I made something new this year for our family get together. This was my first major holiday as a gluten free girl in the kitchen.

We opted to go with corn bread instead of biscuits. So I scoured the web and found some very promising recipes.

I will admit to being a bit intimidated at the thought of feeding my family a recipe I hadn't ever made before. But, I went for it anyway. And I can tell you with certainty, I will be making this again my friends.

There were a few slices left over so I decided to try a scaled down batch of corn bread stuffing (ok, I know it was technically dressing since I didn't do it in a bird. Deal with it. LOL)

Mmmm Corn Bread Dressing

It was the most flavorful stuffing/dressing I have ever made! Completely from scratch. It was a tasty success. I have no problem making this dish for my next big holiday meal.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Gluten-Free Cornbread & Cornbread Stuffing

For the cornbread:
 1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I used Hodgson Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix)
 ½ cup scant brown rice flour
2 TBS corn starch or tapioca starch
2 TBS packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum 
1 tsp salt
4 TBS butter, softened
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg beaters

Preheat the oven to 400F. 

Place a 9x9 baking pan in the oven.

Dry ingredients: Whisk together flour blend, rice flour, corn starch, brown sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Use your fingers to cut 2 TBS of butter into the flour mixture until it resembles the consistency of peas. Whisk in cornmeal. Set aside.

Wet Ingredients:  Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and 1 TBS melted butter together.

Dump the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. 

Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven. Place remaining 1 TBS butter in the bottom. Swirl to coat the bottom and sides.

Pour the cornbread batter into the hot dish and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and it tests clean with a toothpick.

Let cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm with room temperature butter. Wrap and freeze leftovers. Or let sit out overnight and make corn bread stuffing the next day.

Corn Bread Stuffing

1 recipe day old gluten-free cornbread, cut into small cubes and dried out (about 5 cups)
3 TBS butter
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 ribs of celery sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp poultry seasoning (more if you like)
1/4 tsp each- garlic and onion powder
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1/3 cup chopped pecans, slightly toasted
1 small chicken breast, diced small or shredded
freshly ground black pepper & salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt butter over medium low heat. Add onion and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, add spices and  minced garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes or until celery is tender. Remove from heat and place into a large bowl.  

Add chicken and pecans to veggie mix.

Dump cornbread into the bowl. Add chicken stock. Gently mix so you don't tear up the bread. This is where you have to use your own judgment – you want the dressing to be wet but not soggy. You want just enough liquid so the bread can absorb it all but not so much that it's swimming in a puddle of broth.

Gently turn dressing into desired dish. Spread gently. A larger pan allows you to spread it for a thinner dressing. A smaller pan will produce a thicker dressing. The choice is yours.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes, until top is golden brown and crispy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cookie Dough Dip

Who loves cookie dough?

Ok, better question who doesn't love cookie dough?

I stumbled on this recipe the other day while cruising around pintrest.  I knew I had to try it.

I am honestly lost for words on this one kids. Its healthy, but it's sooo good. All I can say is try it. You will love it. Your kids will love it.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Cookie Dough Dip

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter
2-3 TBS water or milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 to 3 TBS gluten free oats
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Be sure to scape the sides down periodically.

Then mix in the chocolate chips.

Serve with sliced apples or a big spoon :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quick Sauteed Fish

I love fishing. I have for as long as I can recall.

In fact- see that little girl lovingly wrapped around her grandpa's leg. Yep, that's me. I have spent more hours dangling my toes in the water and fishing off the end of that dock than I can count.

Grandpa Zimmy, me, and my brother-Adam fishing on Little Bass Lake
Over the years, the dock grew to include more sections to accommodate seating. It also allowed us to cast our lines right to the drop-off where the larger fish liked to hang out.(Truth be told- I still love the thrill of catching all the little fishies right off the edge of a dock) I loved sitting and relaxing with my so many important  men in my life- my grandpa, some of my uncles, my dad, my brother, and even my husband.

As I got older, I expanded my fishing trips to several other lakes and rivers in Northern Minnesota.  I have a handful of women that I love to head out onto the water with. As soon as my niece was old enough to hold a fishing pole, I started taking her out too.

I am proud to tell you- I can bait my own hook with a variety of bait and lures.I can tie several fishing knots. I can identify many fish by the markings. I can skillfully extract hooks that have been inhaled by over-eager fish. I can, and do clean all my own fish. And, I learned many these important skills from my Dad and my Grandpa Zimmy.

I can recall vividly, my Grandpa Spranger leaving to have fishing time aka alone time when I was a kid. Sometimes, he'd come back with a stringer full of fish, other times all he had was the pole he left with. But no matter what- he always had a smile on his face when he returned. It was only as I got older that I understood fishing wasn't just about the fish. It was about peace, quiet, and personal time with Jesus. He was after all, the greatest fisherman of all time- a true fisher of men. This, was another deeply meaningful lesson for me.

I am blessed to have great men in my life. Men who have taught me the importance of faith, family, and providing for those you love.

Sometimes, as I have told you before, my dad would grill the fish he caught. Other times, however, my mom would saute the fish. We aren't deep friers in my immediate family. So, I never really appreciated deep fried fish. My mom's fish was lightly coated and sauteed in a little olive oil that produced a crispy, crunchy, and flaky result.

Jon comes from the school of deep fried fish.(haha, get it-school of fish. Sorry, my own bad puns make me giggle.) But, the first time I made this for him he fell in love with it. It has an unexpected light lemony undertone. And when the picky fish eater is happy- you keep the recipe close at hand.

This recipe was another minor setback  when I went gluten free.  Her recipe called for 3 TBS of flour. I didn't want to use my all-purpose flour because I didn't want the soy flour I add to my mix to overpower the delicate fish. I opted for flavorless corn starch and corn meal. The coating was perfect. It gave the same results that mom's original recipe produced.

Jon had one recommendation- get more fish and make more soon. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Quick Sauteed Fish

1 lb fish fillets- thawed if frozen*
2 TBS corn starch
2 TBS corn meal
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil

Rinse fish; pat dry. Arrange in a single layer on a plate. Sprinkle lemon juice over both sides of the fish. Let stand for 5 minutes. Pat dry.

Mix corn starch, corn meal, paprika, salt, and pepper together in a shallow dish. Dredge fish through the mixture, coating each piece well. Let sit on a wire cooling rack.

Meanwhile- spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Add oil. Heat to medium-high heat.

Once oil is hot, add fish to the pan- do not crowd the pan and do not move the fish once they are in the pan.(Moving the fish around will just cause your coating to come off the fish so leave it alone!) Cook 3-4 minutes per side until the coating is golden and crisp. The fish should flake easily with a fork but not fall apart. Transfer to a cooling rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray, cool slightly before serving.

* Tilapia, grouper, ocean perch, walleye, and pan fish are all great options for this recipe.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baked Apple Chips

I am always trying to get that sweet husband of mine to eat more fruits and veggies. It has been an ongoing battle challenge for years now. He willing eats what I put on his plate, but he hasn't gotten to the point where he goes out of his way to get them on his own.

To his credit, he willingly eats raw carrots, raw or cooked green beans, and baked beans. He even asks for them now :)

But fruit is still another story. He'll eat dehydrated fruit, but I don't always have time to make it/babysit the dehydrator.(No one likes overly dried fruit, and yes there is such a thing.) Store bought dehydrated fruit- particularly banana chips,  is often fried in a palm or coconut oil before it's actually dehydrated. Icky and not healthy!

A few years ago I introduced Jon to the world of baked apple chips. I have a few recipes, but the one I am going to share today is one of his favorites. It's one of the few fruit things he asks for every fall.

These are really simple, don't be scared by the lengthy instructions. There are only about 15-20 minutes of hands on prep work, the rest is either soaking or baking.

Oh hey! Before we bake some apple chips- let's see what Flat Stanley has been up to this week shall we?

Button Angels!
I caught him in my button collection making button angels the other day. His explanation? With no snow in southern Georgia he can't make snow angels, so he improvised.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Baked Apple Chips

3 medium apples
1 cup water
1/2-2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a medium sized pot with a lid- combine the sugar, water, and cinnamon. Bring to simmer. Stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved.Set aside.

Core apples. (I have an apple coring tool, but you can use a paring knife to cut out just the core. You want the apples to remain whole.)

On a mandolin or with a sharp knife- slice the apples into 1/16 inch thick rings.

Put the apples into the warm syrup. Gently press the apples down so they are all coated well. Place the lid on the pot. Let the apples soak for 10 minutes.

Line two large sheet pans with foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Remove the apples from the syrup one at a time, shaking off the excess. Line them up on the baking sheets. Don't overlap the slices.

Place oven racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 250.

Set one pan of apples on each rack. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pans so the top pan becomes the bottom pan and the bottom pan becomes the top. Bake 30 minutes. Flip all the apples over. Return to oven for 15-20 minutes longer.

The apples should be lightly browned. Once they cool, they will be nice and crisp.

Allow to cool completely before storing in a paper bag.

***Save the apple infused syrup for another batch of apples in the fridge OR use it to sweeten hot or cold tea.***

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lasagna Soup, take 2

Lasagna soup is my all time favorite soup, no other soup even comes remotely close. I posted the recipe last winter when I discovered it. I have made it several times since then.

Then, I went gluten free. I was REALLY disappointed because the soup had cheese tortellini. Today I decided to give it a new twist.

I omitted the tortellini and added about a cup of diced butternut squash. It was. phenomenal. I like it better than the original recipe.

Jon agreed the new, more veggied up version is delicious. The fact that he loves when I put more veggies in a dish still confuses me to no end. This is the man who claims he can live by meat alone...

This soup gets better as it sits. The pasta will continue to suck up the broth even after cooking- when reheating leftovers simply add a little water or chicken stock to return it to a soup consistency.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Lasagna Soup- Gluten Free Version
Serves 4-6

8oz lean breakfast turkey sausage
1/4 cup minced onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
8oz tomato sauce
3 cups fresh spinach
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
2 tsp. basil + 2 tsp. oregano OR 4 tsp dry Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup diced butternut squash
3/4 cup gluten free pasta shapes- spirals or shells work best
diced or shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the turkey, onion, and garlic together in a soup pot.

Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth. Add in the spices. Bring the soup to a light boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and simmer soup for 30 minutes or longer.

Stir in the diced butternut squash. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes.

Add in the spinach and pasta. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat.

In the bottom of each serving bowl- sprinkle about 2 TBS of shredded cheese or a few small cubes of diced cheese. Ladle in soup. Top each bowl with additional cheese.

November Nachos

It's already November! Where does the time go?

In the last few weeks Jon and I have passed a few anniversaries- A year ago mid-October, we sold the majority of our "stuff," packed up what remained in a U-Haul pull behind trailer, said good-bye to our friends and family, and started a road trip across country. We landed in a town we didn't know, to a cute little condo we'd never actually seen before our arrival. (Thank goodness for the Internet! And  two wonderful parents who were willing to be our eyes and ears while we searched for the house God had set aside for us.)

Part of our move involved Jon transferring down to a new store and a new position, again where we knew no one. I am so proud of him! Side note on this one- Jon was apprehensive about the move until his transfer went through. When it did, it wasn't quite what we had expected. But he hung in there until God told us it was time for a new chapter. I am continually amazed at how God uses time and circumstances to bring us closer to himself as long as we are willing to trust Him.

With-in hours of our arrival to GA I applied for a job and received a call for an interview. I recently celebrated my 1 year anniversary with Michael's Arts & Crafts. :) And for this crafty girl, it's a wonderful job.

With a year of seasons under our belts, I am very happy with the move. I love the sun and there is plenty of it to go around down here. I must admit- in the summer I did long for some rain to break up all those blue skied days. When the rains did come, they were always welcome. I, unlike my husband, have become acclimated to the warmer temperatures. Most days now I have to bring a jacket to work- early days or later nights mean temperatures in the low 50's. Daytime temps of high 60's and low 70's are a far cry from the 105 degree days of summer. Another happy benefit of the cooler days? The windows stay open most of the time. YAY! (Great for us, apparently not for our kitty. Charlie was greeted by a neighbor dog licking the screen the other night. Needless to say he was less than thrilled for the company on the other side of the window.)

Another mini-anniversary for me? I have been gluten free for just over 4 months. It's been a challenge, but it's been fun. I have learned how to cook with new flours and baking mixes. I can adapt most supper recipes to gluten free versions. I've been able to keep family classics alive by tweaking just an ingredient or two. I feel blessed to have a good set of cooking skills and an openness to new techniques.

One thing I had to get used to while changing over to gf was non-traditional supper ideas. Sometimes you just need to change things up. I read a recipe for tater-tot nachos over on Lynn's Kitchen Adventures. I got to thinking, why don't we have traditional nachos for supper? It's a fun finger food, and they can be healthy for you.

I like to make a weekly menu list. I say list because I don't like my menu to be so rigid there is no room for real life. With a special diet and a grocery budget I need to have some organization, but I want some freedom to choose what fits best for that day. Here's a peek at this weeks list (Yes, there are more than 7 days on here, it allows for less grocery shopping trips. And I always make enough for leftovers for lunches):

-Homemade Phillys (Gf hoagies, thin sliced beef roast, onions, bell peppers, provolone), baked chips
-Lasagna Soup
-Loaded Nachos- build your own
- Pork Chops, mashed potatoes, corn
-Shrimp Pad Thai with rice noodles
-Grilled fish, grilled veggies or potatoes
- Chicken Quarters, salad
-Ham, gf pasta/veggie toss
-Build your own omelets, toast, fruit
-Jacksonville Fair Food

This gives me a broad range of supper plans while still having some clue what I can make when I get off work. It also allows Jon to be involved in what I prepare, and not eat my supper ingredients LOL.I leave a few of the meats open- pork chops, chicken quarters so we can decide that day if we want it breaded, grilled, broiled etc.

You'll notice fair food on the menu- we are heading to the Jacksonville, FL fair tomorrow with my parents for the evening. You can't go to the fair and not eat fair food. Jon is particularly excited about that one.

We chose to have nachos on Sunday night while watching football. Jon said it was a great "man day food."(Sunday has been deemed "Man Day" at our house in during football season.)

So, there you have it. A quick review of  some of our accomplishment anniversaries and a peek into my menu for the week.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Loaded Nachos

1 lb lean ground beef, pork, or chicken
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 envelope taco seasoning or fajita seasoning*
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes
chopped banana peppers or jalapeno peppers- drained well
cheese sauce or shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream + milk
thicker tortilla chips- we like Mission tortilla strips (they are certified 100% corn chips with no wheat flour)

Brown meat, onion, and garlic together. Add seasoning and water according to package directions.

In a small bowl, mix sour cream with skim milk to thin. Add a tablespoon at a time until it is thin enough to drizzle off a spoon.

To build your nachos-

Make a layer of chips. Top with desired amount of meat.

If you are using shredded cheddar cheese- pop the nachos under the broiler to melt the cheese.  If you are using cheese sauce, drizzle over the meat mixture.

Load up the veggies! Top everything off with a drizzle of thinned sour cream. Enjoy immediately.

*If you don't make your own seasoning mix- be sure to check for gluten. Some brands do have thickening agents in them.

** I listed our favorite nacho veggies- but you can use whatever you like- olives, avocado, bell peppers, refried beans are all great additions.