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I have missed baking. It has been so hot lately that the idea of having the oven on was not appealing. Also, I have recently discovered that a side effect of my fibromyalgia is gluten intolerance. As a result I am trying (not always successfully) to maintain a gluten free diet when possible. Thanks to a very dear friend of mine, I am now in possession of some very nice gluten free flour, and I can get to baking!

As I have mentioned in a previous post, we have an abundance of carrots in our pantry. I am also not a fan of the orange root veggie. As a result I am trying to find and create recipes to use them all up. Carrot cake is by no means a new recipe, but, this was my first attempt at baking with a pre made gluten free flour blend. I was indeed nervous. I used my basic carrot cake recipe I have had for years, but tweaked it just a tad for a healthier twist.

I hate to brag, but this was by far the best carrot cake I have ever had, let alone made. Let it never be said that being adventurous in the kitchen does not pay off.

Ingredients:

4 eggs

1 cup veg oil

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 cups brown sugar

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups gluten free flour blend

2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

zest of one orange, finely grated

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated

3 cups grated carrots

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 f. Grease a 9×13 cake pan
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, orange juice, sugar, vanilla, orange zest and ginger. Mix in flour and other dry ingredients. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack and cool.
  4. Dust with icing sugar and ground cinnamon.

*A quick side note: I could not find my 9×13 pan i would normally use, so I used a layer cake pan, which was just a bit too small. All of the batter just fit into the pan, coming to the very top. As a result, I had to bake this about 1/2 hour longer, but it turned out great.

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I spent a good amount of time this morning fretting over what to make for dinner.  My fridge was getting low and my pantry failed to inspire me.  I decided to head out to the grocery store in the hopes of finding some inspiration there.  Chicken was on sale for a change.  Then I passed through the ethnic foods isle and saw cans of enchilada sauce, BINGO! (I did not buy the canned sauce, however, as it is so easy to make from scratch.)

Mexican it is.

enchilada

In a small saucepan, heat some tomato puree (I still have an abundance of tomatoes from my garden so I made this myself), add 2 tablespoons of chili powder, a teaspoon of ground cumin, a tablespoon each of garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper.  Leave it on medium low heat to warm through.

enchiladasauce

Meanwhile, cut 2 good sized chicken breasts into small chunks, and heat in a skillet with a small amount of olive oil, over medium high heat, until cooked through.  Add 1/4 of the sauce (above) and a handful of shredded cheddar cheese.  Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

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Now to put it all together.  You will need 6 large flour tortillas (corn works well here too and adds a bit of flavor.)  Dip each tortilla in the warm enchilada sauce to coat.  Place about 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture in the center, and roll it up.

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Place the rolled enchiladas into a glass baking dish just big enough to hold them all snugly. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Bake at 400 f for 10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden on top.  Let cool.

 

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Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole or whatever you like 🙂

What you will need:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • olive oil
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 large flour (or corn) tortillas
  • tomato puree

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It was a comfort food kind of day today in my home.  With fall weather peeking its head around the corner, I felt like a meal my mom used to cook for us, only updated a tad.

I am not the biggest fan of carrots, in fact, they are one of my least favorite vegetables, but my hubby came home from the grocery store with 10 pounds and now I have to get creative.  I could eat these glazed carrots by the bowlful!  Simply the best carrots I have ever had.

Taking the extra step to roast the garlic before adding it to the mashed potatoes gives it a warmer, less pungent  garlic taste, and just feels like comfort food.  And roasted garlic has the added bonus of making your home smell amazing.

I kept the meatloaf recipe pretty basic this time, as I had some pretty bold flavors in the sides.  For once, I think the protein on this dish is not the star, and I am okay with that.

Meatloaf:

1 lb lean ground beed

1 small onion, diced

1 tspn oregano

1 tspn garlic powder

1 tspn smoked paprika

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg, beaten

1/4 breadcrumbs soaked in some milk (just enough to moisten the crumbs)

Glaze for the meatloaf:  Mix together a bit of ketchup & mustard, a dash of hot sauce, about 2 tblspn of brown sugar and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.  Brush some over the meatloaf at the beginning of the cooking process and halfway through. 

Preheat oven to 400 f.

Mix together all the meatloaf ingredients and form  it into a log.  Wrap tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Unwrap and  bake in a deep baking tray for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on top.  ( I never do my loaf in a loaf pan, as it sits in it’s own fat for too long.)

Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

 

Roasted Garlic Mash: 

Chop the top off of one whole head of garlic, ad place it in some tinfoil.  Top it with a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Wrap it tightly and bake it for 45 minutes at 350 f.

Boil 4 medium sized potatoes, cut into chunks until tender. (I don’t peel my potatoes, as the skin holds so many nutrients and flavor, but that’s up to you.) Drain the potatoes and season with salt & pepper.  Add 1/4 cup of butter and a splash of milk, and the roasted garlic. (no a whole head is not too much, it’s very mild when its roasted.)  Mash well, to your preferred texture.

 

Glazed Carrots:

Wash and slice (on the bias) 4 large carrots into medallions.  Boil for about 10 minutes, or until just cooked but not crunchy.

Drain.  Season with salt and pepper and return them to the pot.  To the pot, add 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tblspn of butter (or a tad more, i didn’t measure)  Simmer over medium high heat until the extra liquid evaporates and the carrots look nice and sticky/shiny.  Don’t walk away from the pot, butter and sugar can burn very quickly.  let cool slightly before serving.

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Caesar Salad

ImageIf you’re anything like me, you have a tough time thinking of new and creative things do with chicken.  While thinking of what to make for dinner, I found myself staring blankly at a couple of chicken breasts thawing on the counter.  How on earth am I going to make these exciting and new?  I had  been thinking about also making a Caesar salad to accompany whatever entree I prepared and suddenly I thought of buffalo wings, minus the wing.  The two dishes have always been favorites of mine back in my pub crawling days, so why not combine them into a light, easy meal?   I’m so glad I did!  There is not a leftover in sight tonight.

Recipe:

Dressing:
  • ½ cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh grated parmigiana reggiano (Parmesan cheese)
  • 1½ tbsp anchovy paste (optional, but adds a more authentic taste)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Instructions
  1. In a glass bowl whisk together all the ingredients except the olive oil, until smooth and creamy.

2. Slowly drizzle the olive oil, while whisking. Do not pour the oil too quickly, but instead make sure that it has emulsified           into the rest of the ingredients before pouring in more. Continue to drizzle and whisk until all the oil has been added.

Buffalo Sauce:
1/4 your favorite hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
2 tblspn melted butter
Instructions:  Mix together the sauce and butter and keep warm over low heat.
Salad Instructions:  Season 2 chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook in a 350 f oven until cooked through.  You can also use the bbq here, which will add a nice smokey flavor.  While the chicken is cooking prepare the dressing and buffalo sauce as above.  Set aside.  When the chicken is cooked allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes.  (this keeps your chicken nice and juicy).  Slice it lengthwise and cut into chunks.  Toss the chicken in the buffalo sauce.
Tear up 1 large head of romaine lettuce and wash and dry it well.  Pour just enough dressing on to dress it but not drown it.  (The remaining dressing will keep in the fridge up to a week.)  Top the salad with croutons, bacon bits (homemade if you can) and the buffalo chicken.
Serve and enjoy!

Zucchini Muffins

ImageAs i mentioned in a previous post, I took up gardening as a new hobby this year.  I was absolutely astonished by how much zucchini those 4 little plants gave me.  I was also amazed at how much I enjoyed the muffins that resulted from such a plentiful harvest.  I wan’t sure I would like zucchini muffins, I only remember the ones I had as a child, which were dry and tasted like vegetables.  These were the polar opposite; moist and savory with the addition of olive oil instead of butter.  Great for a quick weekday breakfast.

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Recipe:

  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)

METHOD

You don’t need a mixer for this recipe.

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large bowl combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini and then the olive oil. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir these dry ingredients into the zucchini mixture.

2 Coat each muffin cup in your muffin pan with a little butter or vegetable oil spray. Use a spoon to distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups, filling the cups up completely. Bake on the middle rack until muffins are golden brown, and the top of the muffins bounce back when you press on them, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a long toothpick or a thin bamboo skewer to make sure the center of the muffins are done. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin let cool another 20 minutes.

Deep Dish Pizza

ImageIn honor of National Pizza day, I’ve decided to stray from my oh so loved ultra thin crust pizza and make a meaty deep dish pizza. Something about the idea of baking a pizza in my cast iron skillet excites me.  There is no real recipe here, but I will post my recipe later today for my pizza dough (I need to give actual measurements for that).  Other than that its just pizza sauce, lots of cheese and meat, and any other veggies you like. Me, i’m going with Italian and breakfast sausage, green peppers, mushrooms and green olives, pepperoni. This is not a meal for the health conscious.  Nor is it something I would eat very often, but hey, we all deserve a treat now and then, right?

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All you need to do is make sure your meat is precooked, spread the dough into a 12 inch skillet (oven safe), layer in the toppings (I do 2 layers of cheese, 1 between and one on top) and bake in a 400 f oven on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes.  Voila, meaty goodness!  Let it cool slightly, serve and enjoy 🙂

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I was looking through my fridge and noticed I had some bits of half used veggies, cheese and sausage.  I was also very aware of the fact that I didn’t have a lot of energy to make a big dinner.  What to do?  Frittata!  This is a versatile recipe and you could use whatever you happen to have laying around in your fridge (within reason, of course).  This one takes on an Italian flavor with the addition of fennel seed and oregano.

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*note: you will need an oven safe frying pan for this recipe, but avoid cast iron.  Non stick is best.

Ingredients:

2-3 Italian sausages cooked and cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 bell pepper diced

1/2 small onion diced

1 handful of mushrooms chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

small handful of grated mozzarella cheese (or whatever kind you like)

pinch each of fennel seed, oregano & dried basil

5 large eggs beaten with a couple tablespoons of milk

salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 350 f.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in an oven safe frying pan on the stove top over medium heat.

Add the sausage, veggies and spices to the pan and sautee until the veggies are tender.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir gently just until the eggs start to cook.  (do not scramble). Top with the shredded cheese.

Place the pan into the oven and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs do not jiggle when the pan is moved.

Remove and let cool slightly before slicing.

Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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Nothing beats home grown 🙂

This summer, I decided to take up gardening.  I am a believer of making as much as I can from scratch, and what better way to embrace that idea than to grow my own veg and herbs.  As a result i found my kitchen this weekend overrun with fresh ripe red tomatoes, and various other veggies.  (I think I’ll have enough zucchini to keep my going till next summer.)

My husband was worried all these tomatoes would spoil before we could eat them, so I put his mind to ease and decided to whip up some sauce, that could be frozen until needed.  Then he was worried there wouldn’t be enough tomatoes left for him to eat, sometimes I just can’t win.

It was really a very easy process, and tasted amazing on the pizza I made for dinner that night.

Recipe:

12-15 vine ripened tomatoes (mine were various sizes)

4-5 cloves garlic (depending on your tastes)

2 tblspn each dried oregano and basil

1 tblspn onion powder

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 bay leaves

1 small can tomato paste

Bring a large pot of  salted water to a rolling  boil, meanwhile, rinse and cut the very tops of the tomatoes.  Place the tomatoes into the boiling water and let them boil for about 5 minutes, or until the skin begins to wrinkle and peel away.

Have an ice bath ready.  Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and place them in the ice water to stop cooking.  They should be cool enough to handle within a minute or two.

With your hands, remove the skins from the tomatoes. (The above cooking process makes this part a breeze).  Place them back into the cooking pot and mash them up with a potato masher.  Pour this through a large fine mesh strainer and push the tomato through using a wooden spoon.  You will be left with tomato puree in the pot, and all the seeds, pith, and skins in the strainer.

Place the puree over medium heat and add the minced garlic and herbs, salt and pepper and bay leaves.  Bring to a simmer and add the tomato paste, stirring it in well.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes then remove from heat.

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Amazing on pizza!

Use the sauce right away on pizza or pasta, or freeze it for up to a month.  You could add meat for a heartier sauce after its cooked, it’s so versatile, it’s up to you.

Enjoy!

A Bit About Me

ImageI figure since this is a brand new blog, I should tell you a little about myself and my cooking style.  I Found cooking later in life, sometime after my 30th birthday.  It is the best thing I have ever done for myself.  Quite frankly cooking is my favorite thing to do.  I am self taught (with some help from the Food Network) but I hope one day to put myself through culinary school.

I must say that I do not follow any diets or subscribe to any “trendy” cooking styles.  I cook what I feel like eating.  I do not believe that eating should be trendy, I believe it should be embraced and enjoyed with passion.

I am new to recipe writing, and since I almost never measure (unless I am baking), most of the measurements in my recipes are educated guesses.  I know well by now what most amounts look like to the naked eye.

Please feel free to ask me anything about any of my recipes, or even add improvements if you have one.  I see this as a learning experience and a chance to reach out to other fellow foodies.

So that’s me, and this is my food.  I look forward to sharing it with you!

I was a bit worried that my hubby would turn his nose up at this one.  He’s not too keen on food he is not familiar with.  I served it with some Italian Sausages to appease his meat and potatoes palate.  It was a winner!

Curried Lentils

A yummy comfort food dish for a cool late summer afternoon.

1 Large Onion
1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
2 pods cardamom (shells removed)
tspn fennel seed
tspn ground coriander
tspn cumin seed
tspn turmeric
2 tblspn curry powder (or more, that part is up to you)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large carrot (optional)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup lentils (rinsed)
2 cups veg stock (or water)
1 140z can coconut milk
cinnamon stick
2-3 bay leaves

Pulse the onion, garlic and ginger a few times in the food processor to make a puree. Add a bit of olive oil to your pan and cook the mix over medium heat for a few minutes.
Add the spices and cook for another 30 seconds.
Add the lentils, veg stock (or water) and carrots, turn the heat to med high and simmer for about an hour. (lentils should be al dente)
Add the coconut milk, peas, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and salt and pepper and continue to simmer over medium heat for another 30 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!

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