Thursday, March 6, 2014

Healthy Salad Night!!

Almost every time I go to the grocery store I load up on various veggies and kale. The funny thing is, I rarely make a salad out of the ingredients. Typically, I toss them in with quinoa or pasta dishes. Tonight, I had a hankering for a fresh salad.

This week, I picked up spinach, tomatoes and fresh mushrooms so I tossed those together with artichoke hearts, white beans and a dash of fresh parm. For the dressing I just topped the salad with a little olive oil and balsamic glaze. Healthy and flavorful in no time at all! That makes me a happy girl!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Gluten Free Crockpot Bolognese

One of my favorite things to do on a lazy Sunday is to curl up on my couch watching trashy tv for hours. I could literally eat junk food all day (chips and dip please!) and veg out with my feet up... Feeling guilty about not be productive as times passes. When I preplan for such events, or lack there of, cooking all day is another fave.

Like the smart girl that I am, today I planned to be lazy. I picked up all the ingredients necessary to make crockpot bolognese. A little lazy since I let the crockpot do the work, but still a delicious meal at the end of the day. Personally, I prefer my bacon-packed stove top bolognese but this recipe certainly does the job.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup whole milk
1 cup white wine
2 28-oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed

1) Heat olive oil a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot and cook until the onion is tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beef or turkey, breaking it apart with your spoon and cooking until it is just browned. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
2) Stir in the milk and bring it to a rapid simmer. Continue simmering until the milk has reduced completely and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and simmer again until reduced completely, about 10 minutes. Transfer the beef mixture to the slow cooker.
3) Add the cans of tomatoes to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8 hours.  4) In the last half hour of cooking, remove the lid to allow any excess liquid to evaporate and reduce the sauce. The finished sauce should be chunky and creamy without being soupy.

The finished product with some fab g-free rigatoni and freshly grated parm. Yum!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lamb Chops and Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

When I was home with my family over Christmas I went to the grocery store a lot. Not because I was hungry all the time but more so because I missed gallivanting through endless aisles of food at cheap prices. You don't see that in New York!

One of my trips included my parents, who were on their weekly food run. When we walked through the meat department we started thinking of what we could have for dinner that night. From pork loins to short ribs, relatively inexpensive meant (for NY standards) lined the shelves. We came across lamb and all agreed that we haven't had lamb in the longest time so our decision was made. The loin chops looked delicious so we picked them up and were on our way. 

Since my mom loves that I cool so well she left dinner prep up to me and watched from the kitchen island. When dinner was served we dug right in hands first - these babies were so tender and juicy. The cucumber dipping sauce added a delightful light flavor to the meat. It was perfect! (And apparently I did such a good job cooking that my parents are sill bragging to their friends about the meal.) ;) 

Chop Recipe:
5 - 6 1/4 inch-thick lamb loin chops
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, lightly crushed 
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, lightly crushed 
2 tsp salt 
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 

1) Mix garlic, rosemary, thyme salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil in large bowl. Add lamb then turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.  
2) Heat remaining oil, or more if needed, in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the chops and cook to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. 
3) Transfer to platter and cover with foil to allow the chops to rest. 

Cucumber Yogurt Dipping Sauce Recipe:

3       3 Cups plain Greek yogurt
4       3 tbsp lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
5       1 garlic clove, minced
6       1 large cucumber, peeled and diced small
8       1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
9        salt and pepper to taste 
In a medium-sized bowl, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, and a dash of black pepper. Stir until well blended, then stir into yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving so flavors can blend.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gluten Free Lasagna Soup

When I think of the ultimate comfort food, Italian cuisine always comes first to mind. I am constantly craving pasta, pizza, caprese, meatballs and so on. Toward the top of that list is lasagna! Having Celiac does not allow me the opportunity to pop over to my favorite trattoria to get a slice of the delicious cheesy, meaty saucy Jenga-like pasta. In fact, I haven't had lasagna at all since begin diagnosed. :(

When I saw this recipe for lasagna soup I could not wait to get in the kitchen and adapt it to my gluten free needs.  It so deliciously creamy and cheesy. The perfect comfort soup for yet another Polar Vortex this winter.

This recipe makes about 8 servings so I was able to set some aside in the freezer to enjoy later. I can't wait!

8 oz pasta of choice, I used gluten free small seashell
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage, casing removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups chicken broth
1 28-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

For the ricotta mixture
8 oz ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and black pepper, to taste

1) Cook pasta according to package instructions.
2) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
3) Once the ricotta mixture is complete, heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add Italian sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat. Add garlic, onion, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste until well combined, about 1 minute.
4) Stir in chicken broth, diced tomatoes and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir in pasta.
5) Serve with a heaping spoonful of the ricotta mixture then with mozzarella and basil as you please.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gluten Free Creamy Kale Pasta

As you're probably aware, I love creating new meals. But I also tend to cave make the same dish over and over. One of my recent go-to meals is one of the a great flavorful and fiber packed pasta combinations: creamy kale pasta! This is the easiest thing to make too!

I would write a detailed recipe but to be honest, there is no real measuring required. I start by cooking pasta as directed. Meanwhile, I sautee a medium one with two to three handfuls of chopped kale and a dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Once veggies are cooked through and pasta is complete I toss together. To make the cream sauce, I melt 2 tablespoons of butter then add about a cup of heavy cream. Once the cream and butter reach a rolling boil and it looks like the sauce is thickening, I toss in a ton of Parmesan. (I say "ton" because I'm sure it's anywhere between 1/2 to whole cup - and varies based on my mood.) Once the cheese has melted, about a minute or two later, turn off the heat, add salt and pepper to taste the pour over veggie pasta combo. 

Boom! A perfectly creamy, tasty pasta dinner in less than 20 minutes!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Restaurant Review: Don Antonio's by Starita

Warning: This review might become the most honest post I've ever written. I first went to Don Antonio's by Starita with a friend after work for dinner and drinks. She had researched her neighborhood and knew this had plenty of gluten free options for me. It sounded like the perfect place or both of us.

In addition to our cocktails we started with burrata mozzarella.  I was offered gluten free bread to go along with it. The bread was awful. Like, so bad you'd rather chomp on tree bark over this stuff. It was so dense and flavorless. I hated it and didn't take another bite. I still cringe thinking about it. Yuck.

When the burrata came my mind was blown (in a really great way!) It was the largest ball of mozzarella I have ever seen! And when we cut that baby open, tons of gooey mozzarella goodness came poring out. I was in cheese heaven! (What other kind of heaven is there anyway?) They paired it with wonderful prosciutto, balsamic glaze, olive oil and two small tomatoes. It was very delicious.

Next, we placed our order off of their gluten free pizza portion of the menu. I asked a few questions to ensure proper food handling as well. We settled on the Margherita with Salami Gluten Free Pizza. While ordering, the women next to us over heard and when they placed their order they decided to try the gluten free pie as well (not for allergy issues.)

Our pie came out first and looked amazing. You would have no idea it was gluten free. The crust was thin, bubbly and tasted perfect. My friend and I literally kept talking about it... Until the pizza came to the table next to us. And looked like a cracker!!!!!!!! I was poisoned!! I immediately freaked out. I definitely frightened the people next to me by interrogating them to ensure they too ordered g-free. I called my server and the owner over. Boy was that fun. They too were scared. The owner literally stood in the corner listening not saying a word while the server (who was most likely straight off the boat from Italy) tried to talk to me in broken English. He swore we received a gluten free pie. I literally had argue and show him that our pizza looked entirely different than the one next to us. End result: he went to ask the chef. Downfall for the server: the kitchen was three feet from our table and we could see the entire conversation play out. The two chefs, server and owner looked like they were huddling before going to war. Whispering, peering over their shoulders, looking at our tables - the whole nine.

My friend and I saw the entire thing unfold. We both assumed they'd come over and lie but to my surprise (and not a happy surprise) they admitted their mistake and apologized. Great. Satisfaction of being right didn't really make me excited on this one. Within about thirty seconds the owner walked over to also apologize, comped our entire bill and provided me with a $50 to return another time so they could get it right.

I was skeptical but also impressed. The most I expected was to receive a comp for the pizza, not the entire bill. I thanked the owner, left a tip (we really didn't know the protocol for something like this) and left. I grabbed the first cab I could find and hightailed it home. It didn't make much difference because I started feeling sick along the way. Lovely. The following two days were even more painful.

I waited a few months before returning. On my second visit we ate the bar. We ordered drinks and burrata. Yet again, they served me the same crappy gluten free bread. When ordering our gluten free pizza we were very clear that I had an allergy and even pointed to the gluten free section of the menu.

The pie came out and looked exactly the same as the table next to us on our previous trip. Great news! The crust was super thin and crispy and to our surprise tasted pretty good. We opted for the regular Margherita - covered in tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella pecorino romano, basil and olive oil. It tasted amazing!

I have to say, I was hesitant to return after my previous experience but let's be honest, this is New York City. If someone gives you $50 to eat at their restaurants that doesn't look like a dump, you take it! I'm glad I did. I was pretty angry after my first visit to Don Antonio's. After my second visit I know I will return. I know most people with Celiac would have completely boycotted any restaurant that made them sick - sure, my judgement could have failed me but thankfully it didn't. The burrata is so amazing, how could I have to pass that up. ;)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gluten Free Roast Beef

Where's the beef!? That's not a question often asked in my kitchen. I tend to cook turkey, chicken or shrimp and rarely even purchase red meat. Sometimes, you just have a craving, or in my case, found a really great deal and popped a juicy roast in the freezer for a rainy day.

I'm sure I've shared this story before but in case not, my first meal I ever remember cooking was beef roast. Random, right? In high school my mom worked during the day (mid nights prior to that) and would call on her way home to have me start dinner. It was usually beef or pork roast. Super simple and in felt like a junior chef when then fork tender meat came out of the oven.

That feeling still hasn't changed. It's pretty darn amazing that you can put a large tough piece of meat in a slow cooker and a few hours later, voila, tender beef cooked to perfection!

Not the best photo but beef roasts are not the prettiest meal in my opinion.

1 tbsp olive oil
3 lb top or bottom round of beef
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth
1/2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups peeled, chopped root vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, etc

1) Coat the roast in olive oil then pat with cornstarch, salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the roast, turning on to each side to ensure entire roast is browned.
2) Place beef round roast in slow cooker, then add carrots, onion, potatoes and any other desired vegetable. Add in garlic, wine, broth, thyme and bay leaves.  Cook on Low until the meat is tender, 6 to 8 hours.