Thursday, March 5, 2015

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

The age old comfort food: mac & cheese.  Whether is it comes in a small blue box or made from scratch, this dish always is a crowd pleaser.

How many times have you gone to a restaurant and seen truffle or bacon Mac & cheese and immediately began to to salivate? Perhaps it's because of childhood memories or maybe it's just an immense love of cheese. For me, it's both. Growing up my mom made mac and cheese pretty often but almost never from the box - always from scratch. I loved how when taking a bite, strings of cheese would stretch from fork to mouth. As a kid, it was fun to see how far it could stretch. I loved the fun of it just as much as the flavor. 

However, the older I get the more guilty I feel when making it. I load on the cheese like there is no tomorrow then of course I dive in and  eat until I can't possibly eat anymore. Is that the smartest move? Definitely not! So typically I avoid cooking it.

I had a craving recently and wanted to find a way to incorporate veggies and still make it delicious. In no time I found a recipe for butternut squash mac and cheese. I whipped up a batch as soon as I possibly could and omg it was so delicious!! And guilt free too!!!

1 bag of frozen cubed butternut squash, thawed
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
8 oz gluten free elbow macaroni or any tube shipped noodle
2 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp gluten free flour
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1 cup  shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1) Place thawed butternut squash in a bowl and microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes until heated through.
2) Meanwhile , cook macaroni according to package directions, drain well. Set aside.
3) Add heated butternut squash to  blender and puree until smooth. Add in 1/2 cup of the milk and puree again. This will help thin out the butternut squash before adding to the cheese.
4) In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter is melted whisk in the flour. Add the nutmeg. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes, whisking constantly, or until flour mixture smells nutty. Add the remaining 2 cups of milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil while continuing to whisk. After sauce has thickened, turn heat to low and whisk in butternut squash mixture and cheeses. Stir in rosemary and continue to stir until cheese is melted. Add cooked macaroni to the pan and stir until the macaroni noodles are well coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

The great thing about this meal was the perfect balance between the gooey stringy cheese and the delicious (and healthy) squash! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Restaurant Review: Friedman's Gluten Free Brunch

Last year Friedman's opened a second location in the city right around the corner from my office. Their original location is in Meatpacking. I hadn't even been before learning of their new location but was so excited to have actual gluten free options within steps of my office.

I have to be fully honest with you, I've been several times and ordered gluten free food... then felt sick afterward. It happened almost every time. Very disappointing. Why did I return? Because I prayed that it wasn't their food making me sick... But it was. 

Despite feeling sick afterward, I loved their gluten free fried chicken and waffles on their brunch menu. The chicken was super crunchy and the waffle was perfectly fluffy. Being sick afterward, not so fun! 

Diners be ware. Not everything is as great as it may seem. If you have an allergy like I do, don't bother. If you're eating gluten free just because, you'll be pleased. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Poached Eggs

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that this post isn't overwhelmingly exciting. Poached eggs... Nothing special, right? Yes, I agree. However, I've never attempted to make them at home. Eggs Benedict is one of my brunch time faves so it was about time I learned how to make it at home if I wanted.

Now let's not get crazy. I didn't attempt the hollandaise sauce just yet... Baby steps. I did some research and all of the egg data I collected suggested adding a tablespoon of vinegar to your water, bring water to a slow bowl, stir then pour the cracked egg into the mini cyclone forming in the pot. I started by cracking my egg into the bowl then when dropping in i executed as seamlessly as possible. I lost a bit of egg white but not too much. Not too shabby for my first try! 

Have I made them again since then? No... But I know I can do it and it tasted amazing over toast points! ;)

Creamy Chicken, Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta

Anytime I take a trip to Trader Joe's, I find myself stuck in the produce section staring aimlessly at their amazing selection of fruit and veggies. I end up tossing everything that looks fresh and appetizing into my cart unless I am prepared with a full grocery list. The way I see it is you can't go wrong stocking up on nutritious ingredients... as long as you use them before they spoil.

Last weekend I knew I wanted to make my roasted tomato veggie casserole. After stocking up on the ingredients I wandered to the cooler section to grab zucchini to complete the dish and noticed the asparagus..then the mushrooms...then Brussels sprouts. I was overwhelmed and couldn't resist purchasing all three ingredients.  Within minutes, I figured out how to use it and continued on my way through the store. (Brussels sprouts will be used later this week.)

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb chicken breast, cubed (seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano)
1 bunch of asparagus, stems removed, diced in about two inch sticks
1 cup sliced portabella mushrooms
1/2 red onion, diced
1 glove garlic, smashed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup Parmesan
8 oz gluten free pasta (Trader's brown rice and quinoa pasta is the best!)
Salt, pepper and oregano to taste

1) Cook pasta as directed on package. Rinse then set aside.
2) While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add seasoned cubed chicken and cooked until no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside. To that heated pan, add mushrooms, onion and asparagus and cook until softened. Stir chicken and pasta in with veggies then remove from heat.
3) Once pasta and veggies are cooked heat the butter in your sauce pan over medium heat, until melted. Add heavy cream and cook until cream starts to bubble and looks thickened. Stir in Parmesan then salt and pepper as desired. Remove from heat then toss over pasta mixture.

Because I am a Parmesan fanatic, I always add more to my dish as I eat. This meal is insanely delicious!! And to me, I feel no guilt in the creamy cheesy sauce since it's packed full of healthy veggies and chicken! :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Restaurant Review: Sauce NYC

I've been dying to go to Sauce on Allen and Rivington for a while. They specialize in homemade pasta sauce, hence the name. Sadly, gluten free pasta is not on their menu. :(

Thankfully, they do have some great brunch options and really, after seeing this you won't want to bother looking for anything else! It's called The Plank. Creamy polenta topped with their signature bolognese sauce, Parmesan cheese and two poached eggs. 

My taste buds died and went to heaven!! It was so damn good. The yolk cascaded over every delicious bite of the bolognese and the cloud like fluff of the polenta was there to soak it all up. Mmm mmm mm!!! 

The meal is meant for two and is served on an actually wooden plank and is assembled right before your eyes. Hands down, everyone needs to try this dish!! You won't regret it! 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Two Ingredient Pancakes

Okay, I have seen like 800 Pinterest and Buzzfeed posts about the miracle two ingredient pancakes using only one banana and two eggs. After weeks of curiosity, I finally found a morning where I could give it a try.

All you have to do is put one banana and two eggs in a blender until they're smooth. Pour the batter into a pre-heated, pre-greased saute pan and after a few minutes, you have yourself a pancake! Of course my first try was a fail. In the video I watched, the cook poured all the batter out at once and made a gigantic pancake. Yea... good luck flipping that. I ended up with scrambled eggs and banana. Not going to tasted pretty damn good!

The next morning, I redeemed myself and made several small pancakes. So delicious!! And they're totally guilt-free. Two eggs and a banana for breakfast?? You can't get much healthier than that!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sweet Potato with Ground Turkey and Veggie Hash

Sweet potatoes!! Another delicious nutritious food that I recently started eating. Yes, at 30 years old, this is a newer food to me. For some reason, I always disliked the taste. What's not to like?? They're starchy, sweeter and packed full of health benefits.

I've been on a huge sweet potato kick the last two months. Usually, I eat them as a side dish but I saw a great recipe for sweet potato sliders, using the potato as the bun. I really liked the idea but wanted to make the meal more rustic and put together a burger-like hash. It was great! The ingredients came together making each bite very balanced from a flavor perspective.

1 medium sweet potato
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 lb ground turkey
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup of corn
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup mushrooms
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Wash then bake potato until fully cooked. I popped mine in the microwave so I didn't have to put in much effort.
2) Over medium-high heat, heat olive oil then cook turkey until fully browned. Add in onion, pepper, corn, garlic and mushrooms until all veggies are softened. Season with salt and pepper.
3) Cut cooked potato in half on a plate then spoon turkey and veggie hash on top.

Voila! A fully balanced dinner in 20 minutes or less.