Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baker's Corner Gluten Free Brownie Mix

I'm not big on posting product reviews but after giving it some thought  I realized that many of you out there may not have tried gluten free boxed cake or brownie mix. Then I realized that if i didn't post this, you may never eat brownies again. Just kidding... Cue dramatics.

So here it is: my product review of Baker's Corner Gluten Free Brownie Mix. My mom picked this mix up for me at Aldi in Michigan and carried it with her all the way to New York. (Don't worry, she drove. It's not like this took up space in her only suitcase on a flight or anything.) I'm fairly certain Baker's Corner is an off brand of Betty Crocker. I've seen their g-free mixes at the grocery store as well but have yet to give it a try.


Anyway, let's get on with this. The process of adding ingredients i.e. egg, water, and oil or butter is the same as any boxed mix. That goes for he baking as well. The one thing different is the taste. I opted to use oil since I always did with regular mixes but going forward I plan to use butter. The creamy, saltiness of the butter would have definitely improved this recipe. Don't get me wrong, they were nice and chocolaty and perhaps some wouldn't have noticed the difference, but I did. The mix needed that tiny kick of flavor that it was missing with oil.

Despite this flaw, I devoured majority of the brownies myself. Do I regret it? Nope!! I don't get the opportunity to enjoy tasty cakey treats anymore.  I will definitely use this mix again. It gets and A+ for convenience and A- for taste.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Broccoli Chicken Pasta

In my  post earlier this week I mentioned that I had a great recipe to use up the wonderful chicken I roasted. As you saw from my leftover suggestions, I tend to make a lot of soup with extra chicken on hand so this one had to be different. I scoured Pinterest high and low and saw a lot of great options. Some form of chicken Alfredo is what stuck out to me. Since learning of Celiac, I've steered clear of Alfredo sauces since you can never be too sure of what is added to the sauce. Tonight, I mastered my own delicious creamy cheesy masterpiece!

12 oz gluten free noodles,  used the thinnest noodle I could find and broke it into bits
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 lb broccoli florets, steamed
1 1/4 cups milk

1) Prepare noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside. You'll probably want to pour a little oil over top to ensure they don't stick together.
2) Melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in g-free flour, salt and pepper, whisking until thick and combined. Slowly whisk in chicken broth until combined. Increase heat to high and whisk until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until melted.
3) Transfer noodles to a large pot and turn burner on low heat. Add chicken, broccoli and cheese sauce, stirring to combine. The sauce will be thick. Stir in milk to loosen sauce to your liking. Serve and enjoy. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Oven Roasted Chicken

Cooking a meal large enough to get me through a few lunches has become a pretty major priority for me. With later work meetings or events or planned workouts or happy hours (let's be honest... More happy hours than gym time..) I find myself with little time at home to cook for the week. Last fall, I was constantly making large batches of soup and it always worked out perfectly: food for days and freezer meals too!

I really needed to back into that habit and thankfully, my cube mate inspired me to do so. She came to work Monday bragging about the roasted chicken she made the night before. It sounded delish! And guess who bought two chickens from Costco a few weeks back? Me!

I took the tried and true simple herb roasted chicken route and it came out beautifully. I, personally, get sick of eating chicken by itself but you came make so many great soups from the leftovers. If you're looking for ideas,  take a look at a few of my old recipes below this one, or hang tight until tomorrow because I plan on making a chicken and broccoli pasta. Mmm mm.

3 to 4 pound chicken, neck removed, rinsed and patted dry
2 medium onions, quartered
5 to 6 cloves of garlic, pealed and smashed
2 tbsps of butter, sliced thin
A few sprigs of thyme
1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your favorite roasting pan and lay half of the onions on the bottom of the pan.
2) Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the remaining onions, lemon, thyme and garlic.
3) Set the chicken in pan, breast side up. Slip your hand between the skin and the breast meat and slide the slices of butter evenly underneath. This will melt and help to create that amazingly delicious crispy skin that we all love.
4) Lastly, season the top of the bird with salt and pepper and pop it in the oven. Bake uncovered for about an hour and 15 minutes. Check periodically to ensure skin is not burning, if so, cover with foil. Bake until the chicken reaches and internal temp of 180 degrees.

Chicken Leftover Ideas:
~ Chicken Minestrone Soup
~ Chicken and Rice Soup
~ Chicken and Barley Soup
~ Greek Chicken Quinoa

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gluten Free Veggie Pasta Sauce

It's half way through another week and I still have tomatoes leftover from my parents garden. Who knew my mom was being literal when she said she was bringing me a to!? The last thing I could possibly think to make of was sauce...and I can't really complain about that. ;)

I wasn't really in the mood for pasta so I served my fresh sauce over quinoa and topped it off with fresh mozzarella. It was delish! And as always, I made a pretty large batch of the sauce so I could save some for later. There's nothing better than defrosting homemade sauce instead opening a jar full of preservatives, don't you think?

2 24oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 24oz can whole plum tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning 

1) Heat the olive oil over medium high heat and saute onions and red pepper until softened, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and stir for another minute to incorporate.
2) Carefully, add the can of whole plum tomatoes, hand squeezing each tomato into the pot to break them up a bit. (I always manage to squirt my entire kitchen during this process.) Next, add cans of crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and bring pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gluten Free Kale, Carrot and Corn Soup

After a few days on an Italian kick, I was ready to mix things up by making soup tonight. I obviously still have some tomatoes from Michigan as well as carrots and onions from the Tomato Veggie Casserole I made last week so this was a no brainer. What's even better than being able to use up leftover? Being able to enjoy them later....lots of soup for freezer meals. :)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 to 3 carrots, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can white beans, drained, not rinced
5 cups chicken Stock
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of your favorite herb blend
3 cups kale, chopped
1) Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add onion and cook until just beginning to turn translucent. Next, add carrots and garlic, cook for about 3 minutes or until carrots are just start  to soften.
2) Add corn, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, stock, salt and  herbs to pot, stir well to combine. Heat to a low boil. Stir kale into pot, be sure all leaves are covered in broth. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes and serve immediately.
3) Veggies will be al dente, cook longer if you prefer softer vegetables.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Creamy Caprese Quinoa Bake

I STILL have tomatoes and mozzarella left over from when my parents were in town. To me, that's a blessing, not a problem! ;) I found this yummy recipe on Pinterest and new I would love it! ...and I was right! Brad and I ate off this for a few days and never complained a bit.

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
2 tbsps tomato paste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup parmesan
1 cup mozzarella, divided
1/2-1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 large bunch fresh basil, cut into ribbons
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Heat tomato sauce and tomato paste over low heat in a large saucepan. Once warm, stir in heavy cream, parmesan, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa.
3) Fold in half of the mozzarella and half of the tomatoes, then chop 6 fresh basil leaves and add them in too. Once combined, spray an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire quinoa mixture into the dish. Top with fresh mozzarella rounds or shredded mozzarella and the remaining tomatoes.
4) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes and then turn the broiler on and broil for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.
5) Remove from the oven and top with fresh basil ribbons. Give it a few minutes to cool then serve.

This is the dish just before topping with the mozzarella. I could eat this just as is, but who doesn't love more mozzarella!?

You should know: I did not have any heavy cream at home. At first, I was angry. Then I realized I could make my own heavy cream with butter and milk. Perfect! (so I thought...) To make heavy cream you have to combine 3/4 cup of milk with 1/3 cup butter. I microwaved my butter to ensure proper measurement then poured it into cold milk. All of you scientists out there know that if you add a hot ingredient into a cold ingredient it will separate. I basically had little butter caviar floating in my milk. OOPS! Thankfully, I knew that once warm again all would be right in the world. I popped my cup of milk and butter into the microwave for a few seconds and TADA... I had heavy cream.

Caviar butter! lol

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Caprese Pasta!

My parents always drive when they come to visit so I used that to my advantage this year: Costco trip! They told me in advance that they were bringing me a ton of tomatoes fresh from their garden. When they said "ton," they weren't joking. Between regular tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, I had about 6 pounds of tomatoes on my hands. I used a few in my previous Tomato Vegetable Casserole dish and gave a few away to friends, but that still left me with quite a few tomatoes to deal with. I'm a huge fan of mozzarella caprese so I picked up some fresh mozz when we we're at Costco.

Thank goodness I did!! On top of enjoying traditional caprese with my family, I made a pasta rendition of my favorite treat!

8 oz gluten free pasta - I went with tube shaped pasta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 beefsteak tomato, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups mozzarella, cut into cubes
1 bunch of basil, chopped
3 tbsps olive oil
2 tbsps balsamic glaze
salt and pepper to taste

1) Cook pasta as directed on package.
2) Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat and add tomatoes. Sautee until tender; about 4 to 5 minutes.
3) Turn heat off. Once pasta is complete, toss pasta into pan with tomatoes then add mozzarella and basil. Stir then add in oil and balsamic glaze. Season with salt and pepper.

That's it! Super easy and so delicious!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tomato Vegetable Casserole

My parents were just in town for the weekend and requested that I cook at least one meal for them, since they LOVE my cooking . We had a fun filled weekend planned - from Long Island City to Hoboken, Staten Island Ferry to South Street Seaport. We literally walked everywhere. With that, eating at my place was a bit hard but I planned ahead and had a meal in mind for their first day in town. 

My good friend Hillery and her mom made a heavenly delicious tomato veggie casserole a few weeks back. It smelled soooo good, but unfortunately had real bread crumbs in it so I couldn't partake in the goodness. I knew it'd be easy to make this g-free so that's what I had planned for my family. It was a fan favorite for sure! My parents have been trying to make healthier choices so this was the perfect meal for them. :)

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5 tbsps olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 small or 1 large zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces
Salt and pepper
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbsp gluten free Italian-style bread crumbs

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Toss the potatoes, bell pepper, carrots, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9x13  baking dish to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss until coated. Spread vegetables evenly over the bottom of the pan.
3) Arrange the onion slices evenly over the vegetable mixture. Arrange the zucchini over the onion. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomato slices over the zucchini.
4) Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the Parmesan bread crumbs over the vegetables in the baking dish. Drizzle with the last tablespoon of olive oil.
5) Bake uncovered until the vegetables are tender, and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Be sure to prick the potatoes to ensure they're tender. I had to cook for about 50 minutes to reach desired tenderness.

This meal was a wonderful blend of veggies with a perfect blend of tomatoey-cheesy Italian goodness!

My plated dish. :)