Stuffed Peppers (gluten-free)

Baked Stuffed PeppersLooking for something do to with your leftovers? Grab a bell pepper, cut it open and stuff it! Stuffed peppers are a nutritious option for those who are going gluten free, dairy free, or interested in Paleo.

This recipe was created with help from the littlest Kitchen Diva in Training- she’s been begging for these for weeks. Sweet bell peppers are listed as one of the ‘dirty dozen’ foods, so we typically wait until organic peppers go on sale. Even better, wait until summer and purchase them from your local organic farmer!

Use the proportions and ingredients as suggestions to make your own stuffed versions. Have leftover green beans? Throw them in. Have a chicken breast sitting around from the other night? Use that instead of beef. Don’t have rice? Use quinoa or polenta… This is the type of recipe that really is anything goes. Dairy intolerant? Leave off the cheese on top- or use an alternative you enjoy.

Colorful Bell PeppersYour goal is to create a mix filled with veggies, protein, and a little starch- heck you could used pureed butternut squash and forego the starch entirely. It’s really up to you!

If you’re having a go on your own, we do recommend adding a diced onion, or other aromatic like garlic, leeks, or shallots- even celery. Be sure you season to your taste with salt, pepper, and another herb or herb blend of your choice. Oregano would be good, as would rosemary or thyme. We used Herbes de Provence.

Be sure to post pictures and any recipe changes over on our Facebook Page– we want to see what delicious adventures are happening in your kitchen!

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Turkey Curry with Yummy Yammy Sweet Potato Salsa

YummyYammy_postcardSo my friend Lisa has this awesome company that sells sweet potato salsa- Yummy Yammy. Yeah- you read that right- sweet potato salsa. And it’s freaking delicious!!

In addition to running a boutique food company, Lisa- like me, has two amazing daughters, and divides her time between growing a company, her girls, and managing all the ins and outs of parenthood, homeownership, and spousehood. Plus she’s super cool, and she makes time to mentor other folks- like me. Ingredients for a super-hero as far as I’m concerned.

Yummy Yammy has been on my radar for well over a year. I LOVE salsa, but like many, I have to be careful about how much tomato I consume. These salsas have no tomato, but all the flavor you could want. They’re great on chips,  heated up over rice, with a fried egg (yeah we did that this morning!) or out of the container with just a spoon.

Added benefit? It’s good for you! They give you a huge dose of beta-carotene anti-oxidant love. Did I mention you won’t be able to stop eating it?

Yummy Yammy is in over 100 stores from Wisconsin to Florida- many of them Whole Foods! For those of you outside of that area, you can get them on Amazon.com though- and if you go to the Yummy Yammy Website and sign up to become a YAMBASSADOR (who doesn’t love that?!?) you can get a coupon for free shipping to try them. I recommend you try them all- they are that good! Also- any orders over $50 naturally come with free shipping. Guess what I’ll be doing for stocking stuffers this year?

YummyYammy Turkey Curry SauceNow about that Turkey…..

I’ve seen the facebook posts over the last few days- you all are sick of your turkey and ham. May I suggest an easy way to get rid of the rest of it that is so delicious you’ll stop eating long after your stomach screams it’s full?

I like curry, but I really like saying “turkey curry” because that reminds me of Bridget Jones- one of my favorite movies. One year I even had a turkey curry buffet birthday party (my birthday is close to Christmas). Of course, the curry was pork as I didn’t have turkey on hand, but who cares? And like the movie- I shamelessly orchestrated an introduction of two friends that culminated in their marriage last year 🙂 I wish all my matchmaking attempts turned out so well.

Onto the recipe! This is pretty fast to put together, and like many Adventuresome Kitchen recipes, there is plenty of room for creativity and modification. If you make some changes, let us know what you did in the comments below- we’d love to hear! And be sure to visit the Yummy Yammy website and check out all the fun things Lisa has going on over there!

Cheers & Happy Eating!

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Best Cream of Chicken Soup Ever- Gluten Free

Cream of Chicken Soup GFI am a convert. I’ve never been much of a fan of ‘cream of’ soups. But then I came up with this because I was working on a recipe that called for 2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup. (Yes, occasionally I do follow a recipe!)

Celiacs and other Gluten-Freers know that most creamy soups are thickened with flour. That means bye-bye clam chowder, lobster bisque, cream of mushroom (the key ingredient in Green Bean Casserole) cream of chicken soup, etc…

Well, after a bit of research I realized that this is not rocket science, and away we went. The result? A creamy, chickeny, rich and tasty soup that literally comes together in less than 20 minutes. The prep time took longer than the actual cooking! And, if you’re really in a hurry, purchase pre-cut veggies and use canned chicken. (You might be compromising on flavor if you use canned chicken, but it’s definitely fast!) This is also a great starter recipe for the Junior Chefs in your life.

The secret to thick and creamy soup? Sorghum flour. Sorghum is a staple flour in our kitchen, and my go-to for things like making a roux. It’s finer than rice flour which means it doesn’t leave a grainy texture like some gluten free flours can. It’s got a pretty neutral flavor which in my opinion makes it better than potato flour. And it’s not a starch. Starches like tapioca, potato and corn can thicken, but in my experience they are not good for making a roux. Roues, in addition to thickening soups, also add a key flavor component. The flour absorbs the fat of the butter (you don’t want to make a roux with oil) and as the roux is cooking the sugars in the flour and butter caramelize and add depth of flavor.

See the recipe below for additional variations we came up with (Like using leftover Thanksgiving Turkey) Seriously- this soup is so yummy it’s now part of our weekly winter soup rotation.

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Gluten Free Pasta for One: 30 Minute Meal & ICDS2013 Round-Up

I don’t usually write about Celiac Disease. I was 27 when I was diagnosed, although I’m fairly convinced I had Celiac even as a little girl- I was one sick kid. But Celiac Disease isn’t how I define myself- it’s just kind of there. I know I need to avoid gluten for the rest of my life, and that’s that.

As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather jump in enthusiastically to explore all the delicious foods and meals that are naturally Gluten Free, or can be easily made gluten free than get hung up on what I can’t eat. Sure, do miss croissants? Yeah- I guess- sometimes. But I’m happy and healthy without most carbs in my life. And in fact, on a recent recipe testing binge- I actually felt pretty gross after eating piles of gluten free biscuits for 2 days!

So, as a food writer and foodie, it was really interesting for me to attend the International Celiac Disease Symposium last week in Chicago.  The opening reception, hosted by some of Chicago’s best restaurants, did not disappoint. If you want to eat well as a Celiac- come to Chicago.

WildFireRestaurantOn the vendor side of things, there wasn’t much new to report. All the usual biggies were there- Udi’s, Rudi’s, Enjoy Life, etc. My favorite by far, was a company from Sweden called Fria. They are making what is quite possibly the best gluten free bread on the planet. Too bad they are only available in Europe!

Fria Gluten FreeThe clinical sessions were super fascinating for me. Some of the world’s premier doctors and researchers presented their findings- all of which have been published and peer-reviewed. This was a point that was hammered on over and over again.

Why?

Because there’s a lot of research going on right now that has been published in books (Namely “Wheat Belly”) that hasn’t been peer-reviewed or formulated into randomized double-blind tests.

My favorite session was the myth-busting session. This session was devoted to dispelling the pop-culture myths as to why more people are claiming to have trouble with gluten. Here’s what I learned:

ICDS2013 Clinical ForumMyth: Because of GMO, wheat has more gluten than ever before.

Reality: In a comparison of European traditional tall wheat, and American hybridized short hard wheat- a slide showing the gluten pattern of both grains was shown. There is *no significant difference in gluten between the two.

Now, it is true that different varieties of wheat have slightly different amounts of gluten, and that those wheats have been traditionally used for different applications- pasta vs pastry, for instance. But for the Celiac- the differences are minimal. For the non-celiac, use of one variety of wheat over another isn’t going to have an effect on your digestion.

Myth:  Our diet has more wheat in it now than at any time in history.

Reality: Our ancestors in 1900 ate  *significantly more wheat as we do now. We do eat more wheat now than in the 1950’s.  Now- our diet is higher in processed food and sugar than at any other time in history… hmmm.

Myth: Our obesity epidemic is linked to wheat consumption.

Reality: Italians eat about 5x as much wheat as Americans, yet do not have the obesity epidemic we do, and they live longer too!

Myth: Gluten is cross-reactive with coffee and corn. If you have gluten problems you should also avoid corn & coffee.

Reality: There is NO- 0- Zip Scientific evidence to support this. I’m living proof that this is flat out false.

Myth: Celiac symptoms can be alleviated by over the counter glutenaze-enzymes.

Reality: Nope. Don’t waste your money. Again- peer reviewed scientific evidence shows this isn’t the case at all.

Other cool facts I learned:

  • Preliminary studies show that probiotics can help alleviate Celiac symptoms, but do not change gut permeability.
  • 39% of products that claim to be Gluten Free, but also disclose they were manufactured in a facility containing wheat, were in fact *not Gluten Free, and tested well above the 20ppm threshold.  This is why the recent FDA regulations concerning labeling of Gluten Free are so important.
  • Lastly, the reason we have scientific evidence that 20ppm is a safe threshold for Celiacs is because of the bravery and willingness of Italian Celiacs to put their bodies on the line in a randomized double-blind study documenting the effects of gluten exposure on the body. Any Celiac who knowingly risks illness so that the scientific community can come up with definitive and measurable safe guidelines is a hero and deserves to be publicly thanked.

Chicago-ViewNow, in addition to eating some great food, I also got to spend a little time cooking on my own. It’s the first time I’ve cooked for only myself in who knows how long. I’m often asked about writing gluten free recipes for one, as the proportions I normally suggest are for a hungry family of 4. I’ve forgotten that as a solo eater a few leftovers can go a long way, and 1 bag of groceries is usually more than enough to last a few days. I enjoy cooking though- even if I’m the only beneficiary of it. So, while I sat and worked and enjoyed the nighttime view- I came up with this fun Pasta alla Carbonara-esque recipe that you’re sure to enjoy. It’s super-fast (a ‘must’ these days) and easy to scale up for a family of 4 if you like the flavors. I’ll try and post a few more of these solo recipes I invented while in Chicago- my tastebuds were happy!

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Chicken with Garlic Sauce, Tomato & Basil – 30 Minute Meal

Gluten Free SpaghettiSo we were in the store recently and noticed the explosion of new gluten-free products- especially pastas. Like most parents, I tend to get into a rut and just reach for my tried and true favorite- Tinkyada – where pasta is concerned. But The Kitchen Divas in Training were anxious to try something new. So over the course of a week, we decided to have a “spaghetti-off” and try a few new pastas- grading them on ease of use, taste, texture, and how they hold up the next day. We tried: Tinkyada, Bionaturae, Hodgson Mill, and Ronzoni.

For those of you who may be thinking “all gluten free pasta tastes alike”, think again. There were some big differences in these brands.

For consistency’s sake, we agreed that we would put aside our thoughts about how pasta should be cooked, and trust the recommendation on the back of each package. We followed the instructions to the letter. Sometimes that meant rinsing, other times not. It also meant varying the cooking times.

First up- Bionaturae: I had high hopes for this pasta because it’s made by an Italian company, and in Europe the Italians are far ahead of the gluten free curve. The pasta had a nice flavor, but quickly became mushy and broke while serving. Not a bad thing if you have small kids, since you’d want to cut their spaghetti anyways, but you couldn’t twirl it. If I were to use this again, I would cook for a shorter period of time then is recommended on the package, rinse and coat in olive oil. It might hold up a little better that way. The pieces really stuck together.

Hodgson Mills: This New England company has a reputation for making fine flours, and they also have a gluten free facility. However, the Kitchen Divas in Training (and I agree with them) thought they should stick to their flour mixes. The pasta was just okay. It had a fine flavor, but turned mushy and fell apart. There was also a bit of a telltale “gluten-free” grainy texture that wasn’t very appealing. Again, if I were to use this pasta again, I would cook for a shorter period of time, rinse and coat in oil.

Ronzoni: This was a surprise. The pasta is made with corn and quinoa in addition to the rice flour blend. I don’t personally care for quinoa flour as it has a very distinctive, bitter aftertaste. And corn in pasta can also be a little off-putting- making the pasta too crunchy. But the flavor was very nice and the texture – albeit slightly more al dente than I usually prefer- was also good. The pasta was also pretty sturdy and didn’t fall apart. It also twisted on the fork nicely- much to the Kitchen Divas in Training’s delight- But this brand does contain mono and diglycerides.  You can read more about those here, and decide whether you like them or not.

Tinkyada: Still my favorite of the bunch. I don’t know what magic they put in their rice, but in my mind, this is still the best pasta on the market. A good al dente texture that doesn’t turn to mush if you accidentally overcook it, a flavor comparable to any glutenful pasta, and a flexibility that allows for significant pasta twirling.

I could not bring myself to cook the same exact meal for 4 nights in a row however, so the Kitchen Divas in Training helped me come up with a few fun variations. Happily all these recipes can be completed in under 30 minutes- making them the perfect school-night meal choice.

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Grilled Peaches

Grilled Peaches side 2We are at the tail end of peach season here in Kansas City. The late varieties are showing themselves by the bushel at the farmer’s markets. Three years ago I took the plunge, decided we probably weren’t going to be moving anytime soon, and purchased three dwarf peaches for our backyard. I have been in peach heaven ever since. Why I waited so long to plant peach trees I will never know.

But, for those of you who own fruit trees, you know that when the harvest is in, it is IN! We have had peaches covering every available surface for the last 4 weeks. I know- my life is so hard. I will tell you though that the fruit flies are getting a little bit annoying.

So- what do do with all those peaches? Eat-em of course! We’ve enjoyed:

  • peach pancakes
  • peach sangria
  • peaches on salad, yogurt, and granola

But I think the new favorite would have to be grilled peaches. They are so easy, and are a great way to use up the less desireables- you know the ones I’m talking about- they may be bruised and beat-up. Perhaps you had to cut a bit out, or maybe they’re slightly green. Grilling brings out all the sugars and sweetness, and the flavor here was enhanced with a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon. Although I think cumin would be great too.

We enjoyed our grilled peaches plain, and over bitter greens. And the leftovers? They went into a boozy adult shake! Summer in the backyard doesn’t get much better than that!

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Chickpea Salad (Garbanzo Bean Salad)

garbanzo bean salad

For many of us, the month of July is filled with celebrations. Canada Day (1st of July), Independence Day (4th of July),  or Bastille Day (July 14th) are just a few that come to mind. With celebrations including afternoon picnics, evening fireworks, and long hours in the hot summer sun, this is a perfect recipe for foodborne illness. So- what to bring to a picnic that won’t spoil or melt, and that will taste good warm or cold?

You could bring a summer pie. Gluten-Free pie is always a great option, especially when they’re packed full of fresh fruit. Check out these combinations here and here.

Gluten Free Maple Glazed Peach Tart

Or you could try out this colorful & delicious Chick-Pea Salad. This recipe is super easy and packed full of antioxidants. And, like most salads, the potential for variations is endless. There’s nothing in here that will spoil, and it tastes great both lightly warmed, or right from the fridge. A winning combination for an outdoor party. This recipe size is perfect for a complete meal for 4 people with leftovers, or to bring to a party. You can probably get 16-20 party sized servings

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad

4 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained

1 large sweet potato, diced into cubes

1 large red onion, diced

1 pint of cherry tomatoes- the bigger ones sliced in 1/2

1 bag, or several bunches of spinach, de-stemmed if necessary, and sliced in large pieces

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil + extra for cooking

3 tbs red wine vinegar

1 tbs dried rosemary

1 tbs herbes de provence

salt to taste

gluten free chickpea saladDirections

Dice the sweet potato and onion. Place on a large cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and cook in a 350 degree oven until softened- about 30 minutes.

Drain chickpeas and place in a large bowl. For those of you who prefer to cook dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soak 2 cups dried beans in water for 2 hours. Then cook over medium heat in salted water until softened- about an hour.

Add tomatoes. When the sweet potato onion combo has finished cooking, add to the bowl.

Place a large pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot add about 1tbs extra virgin olive oil and give the pan a little shake. Add the spinach and lightly saute until the greens are barely wilted- about 2 minutes. Add to the bowl.

Using a large spoon, gently toss all the ingredients together.

Drizzle the 2 tbs olive oil, and the red wine vinegar over the salad and gently mix again.

Sprinkle the rosemary and herbes de provence, and any salt you’d like to add over the salad and mix one last time.

Enjoy!

 

 

Gluten Free Meatloaf w/ Barbeque Sauce

Gluten-Free MeatloafThere is nothing attractive about meatloaf…..except the taste. To be honest, until last week, I’d never made gluten free meatloaf. It’s not on my list of favorites. My impressions of meatloaf from childhood are less than positive.

But after repeated requests from Mr. Kitchen Diva- it’s his favorite after all, I took the plunge. Only in my case, because I can’t stomach the thought of cooking an enormous lump of ground beef with only eggs and breadcrumbs, I ‘hippiefied’ it with the addition of carrots and kale. Then I “Kansas Citified” it with the addition of our favorite locally produced BBQ sauce, Oklahoma Joe’s Cowtown Bar-B-Q Sauce.

Oklahoma Joe’s is a barbeque joint in a gas station at the confluence of KCK and KCMO. They have the reputation of being the best barbeque in the world. Seriously. People wait in a line that wraps around the gas station for hours for this stuff, it’s that good. We locals know better than waiting and just call it in. Their sauce is gluten free (yay!) and it’s also without that other nasty ingredient- high fructose corn syrup. Oklahoma Joe’s has a thriving mail order business which I linked to above- if you’re curious or just plain love good barbeque sauce, head over and order a few bottles. I promise you, your tastebuds will thank you! And when you get your jar in the mail, you can make this gluten free meatloaf and think about making Kansas City your next vacation destination!

 

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Gluten-Free Penne with Morels, Asparagus, & Watercress

Gluten Free Pasta PrimaveraIn the span of a few short days, we’ve gone from piles of snow to drenching midnight thunderstorms. A sure sign that spring is here in the Midwest. Spring in these parts is always a battle. First, a battle between ice and warmth. Later, a battle between balmy breezes and the oppressive heat that will invariably settle in all too soon. For now, the 108 degree temps from last summer a distant memory, I’m just glad to take off my indoor puffy coat!

I also realized this week as I was scanning through previous recipes on my site that I have *one* traditional pasta recipe! There are several funky and fun recipes, but I seemed to have overlooked basic quick and easy pasta ideas! What was I thinking? As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got so many irons in the fire right now, fast dinner is about the only option for us these days.

Pasta-  like polenta, quinoa, and rice, is a great canvas to showcase fresh, seasonal ingredients. We don’t eat a lot of pasta because it doesn’t have much nutritional bang for the buck. But it’s fun, fast, and with a ton of vegetables added, not so bad.

For those of us that eat seasonally, spring means piles of asparagus, tender greens, and my favorite fungi- morels. It’s not quite morel season yet, but I couldn’t wait any longer. And, it seems I’m not the only blogger with spring food on the brain! My friend Toni Dash, host of Boulder Locavore, posted this fabulous lemon-asparagus pasta yesterday. Great seasonal minds do indeed think alike! Whatever recipe you end up preparing for your next pasta dish- do consider using fresh spring ingredients like asparagus, greens, herbs, or other flavors that catch your fancy.

A word about spring greens: I love spring greens. They are tender, super flavorful, and pack an anti-oxidant punch. They can also brighten up any dish- from salad, to smoothie, to any dish with starch as a backdrop. Below are a few of my favorites:

Watercress: A peppery green that grows wild near riverbeds (hence the name!)

Sorrel: A lemony green that pairs beautifully with asparagus, seafood, and other salad greens.

Beet greens: A sweet, earthy (but not *dirt-like*) flavor, great with eggs, cheese, and sauteed.

Mustard greens: A tangy, spicy flavored green that works well sauteed, in a salad mix, and with cured meats and cheeses.

Baby Arugula: A milder version of the mature green- a flavor that is a combination of watercress & mustard greens- peppery, a little hot, and tangy.

Do you have a favorite spring recipe? Share it in the comments below, or on the Adventuresome Kitchen Facebook page!

Gluten-Free Pasta Primavera: Penne with Morels, Asparagus, & Watercress

IngredientsGluten Free Penne Pasta

1 bag gluten-free penne pasta

6oz prosciutto, diced

3/4-1 lb asparagus, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 1/2 cups loosely chopped morels (fresh or rehydrated)

3 cups watercress leaves (or other spring greens)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup pasta water

1 1/2 cups shredded pecorino

1/4 cup white wine

2 tsp salt

zest of 2 large lemons (or more if you like!)

Directions

Place water in a pasta pot and heat to boiling.

Meanwhile chop prosciutto and place in a second, large pot- or a tall, wide skillet. The pasta will end up in this pan at the end, so make sure it’s big enough.

When the prosciutto has begun to crisp, add the morels. If the morels have been rehydrated, you will have to cook off some of the water. When the pan has started to dry and turn a bit brown on the bottom, add the wine and scrape up all of the bits.

** At this point, the pasta water should be boiling, and you should add your pasta and the salt into the boiling water. Do NOT go further with the recipe until this step has been completed. The pasta should take 7-10 minutes to cook to al-dente**

When the pasta has cooked for about 5 minutes, add the asparagus to the morels and prosciutto. Add a ladleful of the pasta water- about 1 cup.

When the pasta is a little bit chewier than al-dente (about 7 minutes) pour off the water and add the pasta to the pot with the morels, prosciutto & asparagus. Add the heavy cream and stir to coat. Add the pecorino and the lemon zest. Stir to combine. Turn off the heat.

Just before serving, add the watercress or other greens. Spring greens in particular are very tender and wilt very rapidly. The residual heat will be more than enough to wilt the greens, yet retain their bright color.

* to make a saucier sauce, double all (including the wine) the liquids, and increase cheese to 2 cups.

No leftovers. It was that good!
No leftovers. It was that good!

Mushroom Leek Frittata & Roasted Asparagus- Under 30 Mins.

Mushroom Leek & Goat Cheese FrittataSpring finally arrived with the Easter Bunny this past week. And we welcomed it in style! To see a round-up of some of the fabulous food we cooked up in The Adventuresome Kitchen for Easter, go check out (and be sure to ‘like’) our facebook page.

While this post does include an egg recipe, it won’t be a ‘what to do with your leftovers’ kind of recipe. For that- I recommend checking out my Pesto Deviled Eggs. I did toy with the possibility of a new deviled egg recipe, but that will have to wait for another day. We ate all our hard-boiled eggs!

So in the spirit of fast meals- which seems to be how we’re rolling in the kitchen these days (With the exception of super-fancy-snobby-food-extravaganzas like Easter), it was breakfast for dinner again the other night. I tend to gravitate towards frittatas over omelets because I confess, I have trouble flipping the omelets. Julia Child might say that I’m not committed enough to my flipping- and that very well may be the case. There has to be no fear when it comes to flipping the omelet. Incidentally, if you want to read the best-ever description of flipping an omelet, go out and purchase Deariea biography of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. His description of her first television appearance will have you crying with laughter.

At any rate, I like frittatas because they’re fast and they make a great canvas for whatever leftover food pieces you need to rescue from certain death in the back of the fridge.  Oh yeah- and they’re naturally gluten-free, so they’re a no-brainer. Quiche, omelets, risottos and polentas can all work in the same manner, but I say frittatas are the fastest and easiest- hence their continual appearance in my kitchen.

This mushroom leek frittata also includes goat cheese. If there had been any leftover bacon from Easter (there wasn’t), I would have added that as well. The roasted asparagus literally took 10 minutes and cooked while the frittata was finishing in the oven. So delicious there were no leftovers!

The Adventuresome Kitchen is working on some long-term and very exciting projects, including collecting stories of people’s gluten-free experiences. If you are interested in sharing your story, or know someone who would be willing to share their story, please contact me at: adventuresomekitchen (at) gmail (dot) com

Mushroom Leek Frittata w/ Goat Cheese

Ingredients

See how the egg is starting to pull away from the pan? This mean's it's ready to go into the oven!
See how the egg is starting to pull away from the pan? This mean’s it’s ready to go into the oven!

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (about 2)

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup goat cheese

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil- about 2 Tbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Heat a large pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, drizzle a generous swirl of olive oil in the pan (this is not an exact science). When the oil shimmers add the leeks and mushrooms. Cook about 5 minutes, until they are softened. Allow any juices to cook off so the pan is fairly dry.

While the leeks and mushrooms are cooking, beat the eggs and whisk in the goat cheese. Most of the goat cheese will ‘melt’ into the eggs, but there will be some pieces that don’t. This is fine.

When the leeks and mushrooms are ready, add in the eggs and give the pan a quick swirl to evenly distribute the egg mixture. Don’t stir the eggs- unless you want egg scramble (which would be okay). Sprinkle salt and pepper over the mixture and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.

When the eggs start to pull away from the pan, and begin to get a little firm in the middle, place the pan in the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.

The eggs are done when they are firm in the middle- 10-12 minutes.

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Oven Roasted AsparagusThis is one of my favorite ways to prepare asparagus. For a small batch, use the toaster oven,  for a larger batch, use the regular oven.

Rinse the asparagus and snap the bottom ends off. If you’ve never snapped asparagus, it’s pretty easy. Grab the woody end with one hand, and hold the stalk with the other. Bend until it snaps. This gets rid of the tough woody part.

Place asparagus side by side on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to your desired taste. Cook at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Et Voilá! Finger licking good.

Sweet Potato Polenta with Spring Greens

sweet potato polenta with spring greensSpring cannot arrive fast enough. It is the end of March and I am staring out the window at snow covered ground and a grey sky threatening to dump more of the white stuff. My cooking has turned to beta-carotene filled items reminiscent of hot days and summer sun. This sweet potato polenta not only fits the bill with its combination of spring and summer flavors, but it’s fast too. And these days, it’s all about making dinner in a hurry. I’m sure you can relate.

I’ve written about polenta before. It’s been awhile since we’ve enjoyed it, and it’s back in our regular rotation for awhile. It’s fast, delicious, and a great way to show off sauteed greens and other flavors. It also makes great leftovers. Wherever you are- may spring’s sunshine find its way into your kitchen!

Sweet Potato Polenta w/ Spring Greens

Polenta Ingredientssundried tomatoes, mushrooms and onions

1 cup cornflour, cornmeal or polenta (grits)

2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)

1 cup milk

2 tbs butter

1 cup shredded cheese

1-2 cups mashed sweetpotatoes

Spring Green Saute

2 tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms

1 1/2 cups sundried tomatoes (I use a 2oz pkg)

1 bag of mixed spring greens (if buying loose, use about 5 cups)

Directions

sweet potato polenta with spring greensBring the chicken stock and milk to a boil. When it’s boiling, whisk in the corn in a steady stream. Cornflour yields a finer polenta. Use what you have on hand or what you prefer. Whisk constantly until the polenta begins to thicken. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, the butter and the cheese. Cover and let sit while you make the greens.

Heat a large saute pan over medium. When the pan is hot add the olive oil, the mushrooms, onions and sundried tomatoes. When the onions are translucent an the mushrooms have softened- about 6 minutes- turn off the heat and add the greens. The residual heat will easily wilt the greens without overcooking them.

Et Voila! Dinner in less than 30 minutes!

To serve: Place sweet potato polenta in a shallow bowl, top with greens. Sprinkle with parmesan and for added sunshine- a little lemon zest. Top with salt and pepper to taste. We enjoy truffle salt!

Sauteed Kale with Quinoa- 20 Minute Easy Meal

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This also happens to be the 3rd Anniversary of The Adventuresome Kitchen- so my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have shared the journey and spread the word about this community. Without your support and encouragement, none of this would have been possible. I am so excited about what The Adventuresome Kitchen will be rolling out in the next couple of months- so stay tuned!!

GF Irish Soda Bread FinalOne of the inspirations for starting this blog three years ago was my ongoing effort to come up with a good Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread. I don’t make it much anymore- especially since our diet has moved away from a lot of unnecessary carbs. But for St. Patty’s or another special occasion, where you want a simple quickbread with great flavor and texture,try it out.

Pan Seared Chipotle Rubbed Corned BeefI’m very proud of it. And, upon further review- since it’s yet again cold and rainy- I think perhaps some pan seared chipotle corned beef is in order too!

However- if simple and fast is all you have time for- and that about sums up my life these days. Enjoy a nutritious, healthy and delicious meal of Sauteed Kale over quinoa. We’ve been eating this a lot lately. It’s one of those dishes that leaves you filled up both in stomach and heart. And it’s super high in protein and antioxidants. How can you go wrong?

Sauteed Kale with Quinoa

IngredientsSauteed Kale & Quinoa

2 cups uncooked quinoa (we used tri-color, but any will do)

4 cups water

2 bouillon cubes (optional)

16oz de-stemmed kale leaves, chopped into small strips

2 tbs olive oil or butter

salt or other herbs of your choice

lemon juice and/or parmesan for garnish

Directions

Rinse quinoa and place in a medium pan with 4 cups water. Add bouillon or salt if you desire. Bring to a boil and turn heat to low. Cook until water has absorbed and seeds have popped- about 20-25 minutes

When the quinoa is ready, heat a large skillet. Add olive oil or butter. When the olive oil shimmers, add the kale. Saute very briefly- no more than 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. The residual heat will wilt the leaves the rest of the way. Add salt, truffle salt, herbes de provence, or other seasonings of your choice.

To serve- place quinoa in a bowl, top with Kale. Garnish with your preferred flavorings: A squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of parmesan, or a drizzle of garlic tahini or even pesto. YUM!

See? I told you this was easy!!

A Gluten Free Dinner Party Menu

Pan Seared ScallopsWe had some friends over for dinner the other night. Normally when I host an intimate gathering I get out the fancy dishes and I spend all day in the kitchen concocting. But these days, with our mile-a-minute life, I just don’t have the time. I wanted to put together something elegant and flavorful, that wouldn’t take me hours of prep time.

I grabbed dessert from our neighborhood chocolaterie- Annedore’s. Sadly for my waistline Annedore’s is within walking distance of our house, and over the last year we’ve become regulars. Happily for my tastebuds, I love everything they make! I am absolutely not ashamed to buy dessert- especially from an artisan.

As for dinner? For the first time ever, my prep time took less than an hour. And dinner came together very quickly once our guests arrived. It was great to enjoy our guests as well as the food, and I will definitely be pulling these recipes out again the next time we have company- in about 3 weeks! Below is our dinner party menu, complete w/ paired wines.

Aperitif: Goat Brie, cured olives, and marcona almonds. Wine: Andre Delorme Brut 100% Chardonnay- sparkling reserve

1st: Pan Seared Scallops in brown butter with Orange Hollandaise w/ vanilla & rosemary. Served with roasted asparagus and garnished with truffle salt. Wine: 2011 Domaine Talmard Macon-Chardonnay, unoaked.

2nd: Argula tossed with mustard tarragon vinaigrette, served with chopped apples & bacon. Lemon zest. Wine: 2011 M. Chapoutier “Belleruche”. Cotes-du-Rhone.

Dessert: Annedore’s Fine Chocolate– dark chocolate covered strawberries and dark chocolate Imperial Truffles Wine: Ramos Pinto Quinta de Ervamoira 10-Year-Old Tawny Port

The wines can be found locally at my favorite wine store- Cellar Rat Wine Merchants. I love being able to take my recipe ideas in and get great wine recommendations. Excellently paired wine and food elevates even the simplest of meals. And if you’ve never taken a recipe in to a wine shop and asked for a pairing recommendation, I suggest you do so- next meal! Any wine-person worth their salt will hook you up with something delicious. If they can’t- find a new shop!

What are your favorite go-to recipes when throwing a dinner party? Pork loin? Pasta? Grilling in the summer? Post your favorites in the comment section, and don’t be afraid to try something new!

Salmon in Parchment a lá Rosalie

Salmon ready to be cooked in parchment
Salmon ready to be cooked in parchment

Have you ever been on the receiving end of an epic meal? I can think of at least three such meals off the top of my head: The Inn At Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island where I spent an incredibly romantic evening on my honeymoon (pre gluten-free). Our meal here was so fantastic I was dizzy. And not from the wine! It was the first time I realized that a meal could be a full-on sensual experience. This realization inspired me to start actively pairing food and wine, and taking serious flavor risks in the kitchen. I wanted to recreate how I felt eating this meal all the time!

And yes, nearly 15 years later, I could tell you exactly what we ate!

The second such meal was at Q’s at the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder. This was my first fancy gluten-free meal, and it was a revelation. I could still enjoy an incredible, flavorful, visually stimulating, and texturally interesting meal and feel great after! More recently, Salon Helene Darroze in Paris was another epic meal. It was also the first super fancy meal (not cooked by me) that the Kitchen Divas in Training got to enjoy. They savored every bite and commented on the dishes as if they were the Iron Chef judges. It was truly delightful.

What constitutes an epic meal? In my mind there are 3 things:

  • Company: A meal shared is a meal enjoyed. Food is meant to be shared, lingered over, experienced. The better the company, the better the meal- even if the food is average. Laughter can fill us up as much as the food.
  • Food that is prepared with heart and care: Notice I didn’t say super-snobby, fancy ingredients, fine crystal, etc. Often snobby-food meals like that are epic. But eat in a fine establishment with a rude waiter and your hopes for epic-ness are dashed. When you’re aware that you’re eating food that has been prepared with love, it’s transformative- no matter where you happen to eat it, or what the food is. I can think of a picnic I enjoyed in the middle of an ancient stone circle on a cool, sunny March day in the Cotswolds over a dozen years ago. We enjoyed freshly made local cheese and beer while we waited for the faeries to hop out and dance with us. Incredible. I can still remember the conversation I had with the shopkeeper who told us what cheese and beer to buy and where to find the faerie circle.
  • Heightened Senses: Think about the meals you’ve had where you remember the minute details of smell, texture, music, taste…Those meals that engage all of our senses, or that sharpen them, are the ones we remember for years to come.
Whether it's a meal for 2 or 20. Any shared meal can be epic.
Whether it’s a meal for 2 or 20. Any shared meal can be epic.

The other day, my friend Rebekah, who is currently living in a tiny village in Southern France, excitedly skyped me to tell me about this epic meal she’d enjoyed the night before. By the end of our conversation not only was I dying of jealousy, but I wanted to recreate a tiny fraction of what she experienced. This recipe is a loose interpretation of one component of her host Rosalie’s epic meal, and is named in her honor. I hope I get to meet Rosalie someday. She sounds like my kind of fellow cook and food-lover.

Saumon en PapilloteI have never made Salmon en Papillote before, and was surprised at how easy it was. The prep time is more lengthy than just putting salmon in a ziplock to marinate, but the results are worth it. The salmon is juicy and the flavors are intense. Don’t be afraid to really pile on the flavors. Salmon is rich and if you’re too delicate with your seasonings you will be left wanting something more from the dish. I was surprised at how generous I needed to be with the herbes de provence I used.  When I daintily sprinkled the herbes over the first few pieces, we couldn’t even taste them! It took sprinkling the herbes through every layer before they stood out and really added something to the dish!

Poached egg with Saumon en PapilloteBecause this dish at its core is so simple, you have complete freedom to add or subtract flavors based on your own personal tastes. Food should be a reflection of who we are, and those personal touches are often what elevates a meal from sustenance to memorable. In fact, we added a poached egg to the leftovers for breakfast, along with more herbes de provence, lemon zest, and truffle salt. Ooh Lo Lo! I just wish I had a bottle of champagne on hand to accompany it.

So here’s a toast to the Rosalies of the world. The love you bring to others through your food is a gift indeed!

What epic meals have you experienced in your life? Share them in the comments!

Saumon Rosalie (Salmon in Parchment a lá Rosalie)

Saumon en PapilloteIngredients

Salmon Filets, sliced into little 3-inch squares. (we used 2 sizable filets and made 10 packets.)

Fresh mozzarella, sliced thinly

Fresh tomatoes, sliced thinly

Fresh basil leaves- enough for 1-3 leaves on each piece of salmon

olive oil

1 tsp Herbes de Provence for each salmon packet

salt

1 lemon for zesting

Directions

If your salmon does not come de-skinned, remove the skin. Slice filet into 3-inch squares. No need to be exact on this. I made the squares bigger on the thinner side of the filet, and some squares were more rectangular. Do what seems right for your meal.

Cut a length of parchment paper- about 8-10 inches wide. Fold it in 1/2 with the short sides touching. Then fold in 3rds- so it’s about the size of an envelope, and turn the paper so it’s long and skinny and fold in 3rd again so that it’s a rectangle that can fit in your hand. Unfold the 3rds, but leave so that it’s still folded in 1/2- you should see 9 sections. Pre folding helps once you’re folding the parchment around the filet. I learned this the hard way!

Place a filet in the center of a folded piece of parchment. Sprinkle a bit of salt and part of the herbes de provence. Add a piece of mozzarella (Cream cheese can also work as a substitute). Sprinkle more herbes de provence. Add a thin slice of tomato, or two. Sprinkle more herbes de provence. Top with a few basil leaves and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.

Just about anything can be used to close a parchment packet
Just about anything can be used to close a parchment packet

Fold the packet around the salmon and tie with a bit of string. You will notice in these pictures that I used kitchen string, satin ribbon, and a clothespin. I discovered just as I reached for the string that the Kitchen Divas in Training had absconded with my kitchen string and used it for a Mideval art project of epic proportions! Use what you’ve got on hand- the oven temperature is only 350, and will likely not damage anything you use to secure your packets.

Place the packets on a cookie sheet or in a shallow pan and cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 180 degrees Celsius) for 20-25 minutes. The thinner filets will be done at 20. The thicker ones need a little more time.

IF and only IF, you know your fishmonger and you can get superfresh salmon – we cannot here in the Midwest- you might cook your thicker filets to 20 minutes. This would be very tender in the center. Ideal, but only if you trust your food source. Otherwise, make sure your fish is opaque at the center.

To Plate: Unwrap the packets and slide each piece of fish onto a plate. Sprinkle with more herbes de provence, a tiny bit of salt (we like truffle salt for this) and a generous sprinkle of lemon zest. You could even squeeze a bit of lemon over the top.

Most importantly- enjoy with people you love!

Gently reheat leftovers and top with a poached egg.
Gently reheat leftovers and top with a poached egg.

Gluten Free Fondue

Kansas City Blizzard 2013Before I get going, I must thank my friend Steve, author at Oui Chef, for inspiring me to hop on the fondue bandwagon last night. Kansas City has been buried under snow again. This is highly unusual- especially considering that the last two winters left us with less than 11 inches of snow combined! Steve is one of my favorite bloggers. He trained at Le Cordon Bleu, and is passionate about subjects such as local food and food sustainability. And most importantly, teaching his children to cook- as am I. While not everything on his blog is gluten-free, it’s a place I go for inspiration and encouragement to explore new flavors and techniques. If you don’t subscribe to his blog-you should!

Yesterday, Steve posted a great fondue recipe by Rachel Ray (it also happens to be gluten-free!). As I was sitting at home wondering what to cook as the snow started to fly- fondue seemed perfect. It brings up images of snowy chalets, cosy fires, and decadent eating.

gluten free fondueNow, I am probably the only fondue fan in the world who doesn’t actually own a fondue pot. They’re unitaskers, and I am firmly opposed to unitaskers. Until I can justify a rarely used piece of equipment taking up precious space in my cabinets, I won’t be buying a fondue pot. But don’t despair. If you find yourself in the same boat, a good stainless steel pot or my favorite- enameled cast iron, will do the trick nicely. I pulled out my small Le Creuset and went to town. If you opt to use a regular cooking pot, your fondue will thicken as it cools and get a bit stringy. If that bothers you- simply place the pot back on the stove for a few minutes to melt everything again.

My gluten free fondue recipe was adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook. Many cheesy fondue recipes call for the addition of a few tablespoons of flour. You can easily substitute sorghum flour, rice flour, or even cornstarch in these instances, and not compromise the flavor or texture of the end result.

herbes de provenceI also opted out of the traditional nutmeg seasoning in favor of the sunnier and warmer flavors invoked by herbes de provence. I happened to be lucky enough to receive some freshly dried herbes from my dad, and they’ve gone into everything I’ve made over the last few days. They are a great way to jazz up everything from broccoli to eggs to soups and salads.

Lastly, there are no hard and fast rules about what to serve with fondue. We enjoyed broccoli, mushrooms, gluten-free toasted garlic bread (directions will appear below), pears & bresaola. Basically- anything you enjoy with cheese is a candidate to dip in the fondue pot. As always- feel free to modify this recipe as your heart desires. Fondue is a fun finger food to enjoy with the people you love!

Gluten Free Fondue (a main dish for 4 or an appetizer for 8-10: adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook)

gluten free fondue with gluten free garlic toastIngredients

1 1/4 lbs shredded gruyere, emmental, or comte cheese (or a combo)

5 tbs sorghum flour (other gf flours would work too)

1 garlic clove, + 2 tbs minced garlic

1 1/2 cups dry white wine (we used a burgundy)

3 tbs herbes de provence

2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup milk

Directions

Toss the shredded cheese with the flour. Make sure that the flour is evenly distributed and coats and many of the cheese shreds as possible.

Rub the whole clove over the inside of the pot. Place the minced garlic and the wine in the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add the cheese one handful of a time and allow to absorb completely before adding the next handful. It is really important to not let the mixture actively boil. Your pot needs to be hot enough to melt the cheese, but not so hot that it boils. For my stove, this was just under the half-way mark on the stove.

When the cheese has been fully incorporated add the milk, herbes, salt & pepper, and continue to stir. The fondue is ready when it’s a thick, liquidy (ie non-stringy) mass. Bring to the table and enjoy with your dipping ingredients.

Dipping Ingredients

raw vegetables or fruit, gluten-free crackers, or gluten-free garlic bread. Gently roasted vegetables (enough that they’re partially cooked and softened, but not so much that they’re mushy- you want them to hold up in the sauce)

roasted broccoli & mushroomspears & pomegranates

To Make Gluten Free Garlic Toast

gluten free garlic toastTake 4 (or whatever number you like) pieces of gluten-free bread. Place them on a toaster oven tray or a cookie sheet if using the oven. Brush olive oil over the tops- make sure you get into the little nooks and crannies. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, or until you start smelling the bread toasting.

Remove from the oven. Take a clove of garlic, cut off the end, and rub it vigorously over the toasted top. One clove is usually good for about 4 slices. Of course, if you like bread that is more garlicky- you can be more generous, or scrape the garlic on both sides of the bread. Discard the skins and enjoy!

The History of Crepe Day

Gluten Free Galette on the Griddle
Gluten Free Galette on the Griddle

Happy Ground Hog’s Day! Happy Crepe Day! (In our house that’s gluten free crepe day!)We’re halfway through winter!

The History of Crepe Day

Crepe Day is February 2nd, and in Europe is also called St. Brigid’s Day, St. Bride’s Day, or Candlemas. In France, Crepe Day is called Chandeleur. Originally a Pagan fertility and planting festival called Imbolc paying tribute to the Mother Goddess Brigid,  it was co-opted by the Catholic church in the Middle Ages and turned into a celebration marking Christ’s presentation at the temple.

This is where the Candles come in- Priests would bless candles on this day and hold candlelight processions honoring the idea that Christ was the light of the world. However, the Goddess Brigid was so popular throughout the British Isles that the priests eventually made Brigid a ‘Saint’ and gave her the feast day of February 1. The origins of Brigid predate even the Celtic Druids, and as February 2nd marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, this date has been important to humanity for millenia. It has always been associated with light coming out of darkness, new growth and birth. In fact, many farmers today begin planting spring crops like peas, kale, radishes and broccoli on February 2nd.. (at least if you live in a place where the ground is likely to be unfrozen!)

Gluten Free CrepeIn France- Chandeleur has become “Crepe Day”. People across the country take the opportunity to stop and make crepes together. It’s said that on February 2nd,  if you can flip a crepe with only your right hand you will have good fortune for the rest of the year! I like that, and intend to make some crepes today.

I realized that I have several gluten free crepe recipes already posted- so below you’ll find links to previous Adventuresome Kitchen Gluten Free Crepe posts. Wherever you find yourself, and whatever your spiritual belief- know that for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere- we’re halfway to warmer, sunnier days! Cheers!

Basic Crepe Recipe
Basic Crepe Recipe
Gluten Free Chicken & Spinach Crepes
Gluten Free Chicken & Spinach Crepes

 

Gluten Free White Asparagus Crepes
Gluten Free White Asparagus Crepes

 

Gluten Free Galette de Sarrasin (Gluten Free Savory Crepes)
Gluten Free Galette de Sarrasin (Gluten Free Savory Crepes)

White Bean and Kale Soup w/ Chorizo

Gluten Free Soup with KaleHappy Friday! Did you know that Italian Wedding Soup has nothing to do with weddings? It has to do with the ‘marriage’ of flavors. And while I would love to eat this white bean and kale soup w/ chorizo at a winter wedding, I think that you’ll find the ‘marriage’ of these flavors perfect for a winter day.

Dinnertime has become synonymous with ‘quick and easy‘ around here. The Kitchen Divas in Training have finally reached the age where they are often running in opposite directions. And anyone who thinks homeschooling will simplify your schedule?

Ha! Think again! While our lives are simpler in some ways- for instance there is not mad chaos from 7-8am every morning- our schedule seems to become increasingly complicated.

It’s one pot cooking these days. Less mess, less clean-up, less headache. That leaves more time for mastering how to make macarons, or anything else we decide to cram into our busy schedule.

While I made this soup on the stove, it could easily be made in a crock pot. If you’re using dried beans, you could even start the chorizo and beans the night before, and add the additional ingredients in the morning.

Remember, the trick to super-bright green kale (and super nutritious) is to cut up the kale and place it raw in the bottom of each bowl. The heat from the soup is more than enough to wilt the kale. What are your quick and easy dinner tricks these days?

It’s not too late to challenge yourself with Gluten-Free Baking. Join us this month as The Kitchen Divas and I learn  How to make Macarons! Feel free to post your comments and stories below, or email me pictures of what’s happening in your kitchen!

White Bean and Kale Soup w/ chorizo-serves 6-8 with leftovers

Ingredients Gluten Free soup with Kale and Chorizo

1 lb chorizo (links or ground)

2 cups white beans, dried and soaked (about 2 cans)

2 cups chopped potatoes (about 3 medium sized red potatoes)

1 small-medium onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

3 carrots, diced

3 quarts water

There is no salt in this recipe because there is enough salt from the chorizo. However, you are welcome to season with additional salt at the table.

Directions

Gluten Free Soup In a large soup or stock pot, saute the chorizo. When the chorizo has browned, pour off the fat, and if they are in link form, take your kitchen scissors and cut them into small bite-sized pieces.

Add the onion, carrots and celery, and sauté for 2-3 minutes- until the onion has softened. Add the potatoes and beans. Cover with water and place the lid on the pot. Allow to come to a boil and simmer gently until the potatoes and beans have softened- about 30 minutes.

If you are using dried beans, you will need to allow the soup to remain at a nice bubbly boil for 30-45 minutes, so that they will fully soften.

When you are ready to serve. Cut up the kale and place it in the bottom of each bowl. Pour the hot soup over the kale and enjoy!

Gluten Free Pierogies

Gluten Free PierogiesNine and a half years ago, Mr. Kitchen Diva and I landed here in the midwest on a new adventure with nothing but our two kitties, a Ryder Truck full of mostly college-type furniture, and the apple of our eye- our eldest Kitchen Diva in Training. We had moved here for a job I took that among other things didn’t allow us to leave town during the holidays. That first year, far from friends and family, we were pretty lonely. But into our lives walked a Christmas Angel of sorts.

A fellow singer and adventurous chef took us under her wing and said “Let us be your family here!” She invited us for Christmas Dinner and didn’t bat an eyelash when I somewhat timidly mentioned my issue with gluten. In fact, she promptly set about making sure there was plenty on the menu I could enjoy. The twist in this story comes because everything on the menu was Polish. Kansas City has a very strong Polish heritage and community, and my dear friend and her husband both grew up in the heart of this community.

That Christmas, we were introduced to the delicious aromas and tastes of galumpkies, Traditional Polish Borschtborscht, and kapusto- all naturally gluten-free. We also tasted pierogies for the first time- yes, even me. My friend called a few days before Christmas saying she’d found a GF recipe for pierogies and would I like to come see how they’re made? Quite frankly, I was blown away.

Even after years of being GF, there are times when it still feels very awkward to disclose my dietary needs. There’s so much emotion tied up in food. Double that around the holidays. To this day, that simple act of hospitality has informed how I set my own table.

Treasured Polish Recipes for AmericansA few days before Christmas, the mini Kitchen Diva in Training (who was just more than two) and I arrived; aprons, rolling pins, and GF flours in hand to consult the grandmother’s Polish cookbook, and compare with a GF dough recipe we thought might work. A beautiful friendship was born in that warm kitchen 9 years ago. One that has sustained us, and led to many ensuing meals of Polish deliciousness. The pierogies? Not bad. Honestly, I didn’t care. I was so amazed someone cared enough to cook something special for me. We decided there was room for improvement, and over the years we’ve attempted to create Gluten-Free Pierogies off and on. A few years ago, Conte’s Pasta came out with their own version of Gluten-Free Pierogies. We started using them namely for the sake of time. Pierogies of any kind are an undertaking. We agreed there was still room for improvement.

Gluten Free Pierogi filled with potato-onion- cream cheese-green chile-bacon-chive filling.
Gluten Free Pierogi filled with potato-onion- cream cheese-green chile-bacon-chive filling.

Fast forward to this year, when for some crazy reason it seemed like I had gobs and gobs of time before Christmas. So I volunteered to tackle and improve our Gluten-Free Pierogies and bring them for Christmas Dinner. The traditional filling for Pierogies is a mixture of potatoes, onions and melted (usually cream) cheese. I got all ambitious and decided to improve upon this by adding green chiles, chives, and bacon. I even peeled the potatoes! Sadly, the filling was so delicious we gobbled it up while we were making and rolling the dough for the other fillings, and only made about 4!

We also made two additional fillings. The first blended crimini and black-trumpet mushrooms, onions, sour cream, rosemary & nutmeg. The second- butternut squash, onion, cream cheese, and sage.

According to the Polish Kitchen Diva, the dough we finally settled on ‘tastes like it should’. I don’t think there could be higher praise. Be warned- this dough is very delicate, and at times can fall apart. I found that a little water helped fix the cracks, and that in spite of the delicacy in rolling out the dough, it held up nicely through the boiling and frying steps.

On this Twelfth Night of Christmas, as we celebrate the end of a season and remember the gifts of the Magi- I invite you to remember those unbidden, seemingly small gifts you may have received from friend or stranger. The best gifts are usually not material. Rather they are acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and hospitality. May we all have the grace to receive such gifts, and the boldness to pay them forward.

Gluten Free Pierogies-makes 2-3 doz depending on the size

IngredientsGluten Free Pierogies

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup millet flour

1 cup corn starch

1 cup potato starch

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 stick salted butter (if using unsalted, increase salt to 1tsp)

1 cup sour cream (full-fat)

ingredients for the filling are up to you

Directions

Gluten Free Pierogi doughBefore starting, have your filling ready to go, and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Allow all the dough ingredients up to room temperature- it’s important to let the butter get very soft.

Place dry ingredients in a stand mixer, or if working with a 1/2 batch, in a food processor. I actually prefer to make my dough in the food processor, so I work in 1/2 batches.

Give the dry ingredients a whirl or a few pulses so that they are sufficiently mixed together.

Mix the eggs and sour cream, and softened butter together. It should have a smooth consistency.  Add this to the dough. Mix or begin to pulse.  As soon as the dough has come together, pull it from the mixer/food processor and place on a large piece of floured (with cornstarch or tapioca starch) parchment. Break off a chunk of dough, and sprinkle with additional cornstarch (or tapioca starch). Knead gently, reflour, and roll to 1/8th inch thick.

Using a biscuit cutter, make circles in the dough and remove the scraps. Gluten Free PierogiesPlace a generous tablespoon of the filling in each center and gently fold the dough in half. Using wet fingers, press the dough together so that the edges are slightly scalloped. You can also use a fork to get a different look.

Note: This dough is very fragile and more prone to breakage. Overfilling will definitely lead to breakage. However, it’s easy to squish the dough back together again- they just won’t look as pretty.

Place 3-4 pierogies in the boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes. They will begin to float to the top as they near readiness. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove them from the water and gently shake them to remove excess water.

Gluten Free Pierogies boiling

 

If you are planning to fry and eat right away: Preheat a medium saute pan while the pierogies are boiling. Place a dab of butter in the pan (I am generous with my dabs, but the amount is up to you. You could even use Olive Oil).  Once the butter has foamed, place the boiled/shaken pierogies in the pan and fry on each side until they start to turn a nice golden brown. How long you cook is really up to you. I like the color of a longer-cooked pierogi, some prefer them gently warmed through and not golden brown.

If you are saving for later use: you may place the boiled pierogies in a storage container (I used a stainless steel mixing bowl) and place a little butter on them. The heat from the pierogies will melt the butter, and help prevent sticking when you’re ready to fry them. Seal. I have read that pierogies will last over a week in the fridge, and even longer if you choose to freeze them. Mine have never stuck around that long!

Ideas for fillings Mushroom filling for Gluten Free Pierogies

Potatoes, cheese, onion (traditional)

Sweet potato or butternut squash and onion

broccoli and cheese

sausage and onion, or sausage and kraut

mushroom and shallot

blueberries, cream cheese and lemon zest (dessert, obviously, sprinkle these with powdered sugar before serving)

apples, butter, cinnamon

You get the idea- PLAY!

Shrimp Scampi w/ Black & White Quinoa

DSC04941I’ve never done this before, but last night I found myself cruising through my recipe notebook looking for something to cook. I came across a recipe I’d scribbled down the night we had a few good friends passing through on their way to a new city and new jobs. One of the ingredients was *extra love. We talked about Strega Nona’s pasta pot that night, and how food is better with extra love. I’ve modified the recipe to work with quinoa instead of pasta- but you could easily return it to pasta and substitute lemon (an original ingredient) for lime. I like quinoa, and when I cook with starch I try and use it as much as I can. It’s nutritionally denser, and therefore better for your body. The love is still in the recipe, and I hope as you go about the busyness of your holiday schedule you make room for extra love in your kitchen!

 

Black and White Shrimp Scampi

1 cup dried black quinoa Black & White Quinoa

1 cup dried white quinoa

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails can be on or off)

6 oz sundried tomatoes (chop if they don’t come that way)

1 small jar (4 oz) of capers, drained

1 bulb garlic

zest and juice of 3 limes

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

shredded parmesan for garnish

4 tbs olive oil

*extra love

Directions

Black & White Shrimp ScampiRinse quinoa. Add to a medium pan and fill with 4 cups of water. Add salt if you desire. If you don’t want to reserve extra quinoa for breakfast the next day (recipe forthcoming) you could cook with chicken stock. Cover and cook over medium heat. When the water boils (usually evidenced by a rattling lid or steam sneaking out the sides), turn to low and carry on with the rest of the recipe.

Smash and peel the garlic cloves. Heat large saute pan over medium. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Add the garlic, give a quick stir to coat and then turn heat down to medium-low. It’s very important not to scorch the garlic.  If it turns brown it will taste bitter.

Add sundried tomatoes and capers. Stir again. Zest and juice the limes, and set aside. Finely chop the parsely and set aside. Add the shrimp to the large pot with the garlic and tomatoes. Heat through if already cooked, or cook until bright pink if the shrimp are raw. Remove from heat as soon as shrimp are ready.

When the quinoa is cooked and is light and fluffy, remove from the heat and reserve about 1/3 of the cooked quinoa to cool. Place the rest in a large serving bowl and add the parsley and lime-both zest and juice. Toss until evenly distributed. Make a hole in the center of the bowl and add the shrimp mixture. Garnish with parmesan if you like. Don’t forget to add the extra love- it’s the most important ingredient.

 

 

 

 

Vegan Tacos w/ Quinoa & Black Beans

This post is a little bit special to me, as the recipe was developed with great enthusiasm by the Kitchen Divas in Training. I love more than anything that my girls are expanding their culinary horizons and working to create delicious, nutritious meals. I also love watching how a recipe idea takes shape and then morphs as they move through the process. This originally started out as a quinoa-salad, but as the flavors combined the girls thought it would be even better in a taco- and I have to say I wholeheartedly agree! The recipe is pretty simple, and could be used as a salad if you don’t have taco shells available. Enjoy, and don’t forget to play with your food!
Vegan Tacos- serves 4 with leftovers

Ingredients

1 cup red quinoa (white is also okay)

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 large tomato

1/2 large onion

1 can black beans

1 small cucumber

1 small red pepper

1/2 cup cilantro

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

2 tbs lime

salt and pepper to taste

8-10 cabbage leaves

Avocado and hot sauce for garnish

Taco Shells

Directions

Rinse quinoa, and place in medium pan with stock. Bring to a boil and turn to low. Cook about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, chop the tomato, onion, cucumber, pepper, and parsley and set aside. Thinly chop the cabbage leaves, squirt with a 1/4 lime and set aside for garnish.

When the quinoa has cooked, pour into a large bowl. Add all the vegetables except the cabbage and combine.

Fill taco shells, and garnish with cabbage, avocado, and of course- New Mexico Red Chile Sauce! Squirt with a lime and eat your heart out!