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How To: Cook Perfect Zucchini Noodles

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How-To-Prepare-Perfect-Zucchini-Noodles

I am a perfectionist. Especially when it comes to cooking. It’s kind of “my thing”, and therefore I should be good at it. And not just good, but excellent. I’m always aiming for perfect, and always realizing I cannot ever achieve it.

Zucchini noodles are wonderful in a lot of ways, tasty, healthy, quick, and simple substitute for pasta, but they very quickly turn into a mushy, watery mess (AKA – not perfect). If you’ve cooked with zucchini noodles before I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Once the zucchinis let out all their water any sauce on the noodles thins and then you are left with a pool of watered down sauce on your plate.

I’d rather eat my sauce, thank you very much!

So, I put my knowledge of zucchini, cooking skills, and desire to make the perfect dinner to use and figured out a way to eat zucchini noodles without all of the extra water. The steps are simple and in the end you’ll have a perfect zucchini noodles.

Maybe humans can’t be perfect, but zucchini noodles can be!

The key to making these zucchini noodles perfect is to get the water out of the noodles before you get the noodles on your plate.

First, you need to make your zucchini noodles. There are lots of options for how to do this, and tons of tutorials on the web. I tested a few different vegetable noodle making devices and eventually settled on a Spiralizer I found on amazon.com with a lifetime guarantee.

Step two couldn’t be easier, just dump all of your spiraled zucchini into a strainer in the sink. Shake some salt over the noodles; this seems to help with releasing water. Let the noodles sit for a while (I’ve found 15 – 30 minutes to be ideal). While the recently cut and salted zucchini sits in the strainer it begins to release of the water the zucchini has been holding.

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The final step is to squeeze out the liquid. I have a thin, cheap towel I use for this, but a cheesecloth would also work great. I put a handful of the zucchini noodles in the towel and wring out the liquid.

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Surprisingly, this doesn’t destroy the noodles. When you unwrap the towel you’ll find whole, intact – but much drier – noodles. Since you just put pressure on the noodles when wringing them out, the noodles will be very compacted in the towel. It looks a bit deceiving at first, like they’ve been all smashed into a ball, but you should still have those perfect spaghetti stands. These will separate when you cook the noodles.

Zucchini-Noodles-Drained

Cook these noodles however you’d like. They will stand up to being cooked in everything from a bit of olive oil with salt and pepper to a heavy sauce (like this one I posted on Wednesday). No oily, saucy, watery puddles will be left on your plate!

Zucchini-Noodles-Bolognese-Sauce

Zucchini Noodles with a Bolognese Sauce

Zucchini Noodles and Chicken in an Avocado Cream Sauce

Zucchini Noodles and Chicken in an Avocado Cream Sauce

Happy Vegetable Noodle Eating!

PGF: Spicy Meat Sauce

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A spicy tomato sauce that is ready to eat in under 20 minutes! Serve with GF pasta, wheat pasta, or spiralized vegetable noodles!

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I have a lot of fond memories of making this pasta sauce with my sister. As children we both enjoyed cooking but just could not manage to do it together. It always ended up with the two of us in a huge fight, stomping off to our rooms. For years we just avoided being in the kitchen together! Once we hit college age we managed to put our bad cooking experiences behind us and started working together in the kitchen. We developed a groove. I did all the work with raw meat and Lauren was in charge of all of the stirring. I often did cutting, she did measuring. Once we knew what we each liked and wanted to do in the kitchen working together was much easier! {Funny, as I type this I realize how similar this is to marriage. Figuring out HOW to work together is key!}

This spicy meat sauce was a favorite recipe for us to make together. I would add things to the pan and Lauren would stir it up. We had our jobs and it all worked out!

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What flavors inspired our meat sauce? Anything and everything spicy! Crushed red pepper flakes, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic . . . basically everything spicy that we could find in the cupboard. We’d shake in some spices, taste test, adjust seasonings, taste test, adjust seasonings, taste test . .. . you get the idea.

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Everyone we served the Spicy Meat Sauce to loved it! When I found out I had celiac disease, this was a familiar meal that was easily modified to meet my needs. I prepared the meat sauce as usual, but replaced regular pasta with gluten free pasta.

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In 10 years, this Spicy Meat Sauce recipe hasn’t changed, but what I’ve served it over has. Before getting my celiac diagnosis 8 years ago I was crazy about pasta! Now, things are different. Often, I prepare this sauce with a pot of GF pasta and a pot of wheat pasta to make the meal Portionally Gluten Free (PGF). Gluten free spaghetti is expensive, but regular pasta is less than a dollar a box! That way I get to eat something safe for me, and my husband can chow down on pasta and sauce without breaking the bank. Making a PGF pasta dinner is surprisingly easy. I boil two pots of water. The GF pasta gets cooked in one pot and the wheat pasta in the other. I use separate stirring spoons for each pan. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and plate the GF pasta, followed by the wheat pasta (I highly recommend sing separate strainers for wheat and GF pasta. Read more about PGF specifics here).

Lately, I’ve been trying out this sauce with vegetable noodles. As a somewhat new spiralizer owner I’ve been making every veggie I can think of into noodles. Served with zucchini noodles, the meal becomes surprisingly analogous to the taste of regular pasta and sauce. Sweet potatoes noodles are a fun compliment for this spicy sauce. Add a little feta cheese for some saltiness and you’ll be in healthy pasta heaven!

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PGF: Spicy Meat Sauce

Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 20 oz plain tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp mexican seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 shakes cayenne pepper
Directions
  1. Put the beef/turkey in a non stick skillet (or regular skillet, with an added 1 tbs olive oil) over medium high heat. Brown the meat, breaking it into small chunks using a spoon/fork/spatula as it cooks.
  2. When most of the meat is brown, add the onions and garlic. Continue cooking until no pink remains.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and spices and stir.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a few minutes up to 15 or 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with pasta (gluten free, or whatever works for your diet) or vegetable noodles. For a PGF meal, prepare gluten free and wheat pasta in separate pots using separate stirring utensils and strainers. Serve the GF pasta, topped with sauce before serving the wheat pasta topped with sauce.
Serve this with

Gluten Free Weekly Meal (What I Ate Last Week) #12

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Welcome to this week’s post of Gluten Free Weekly Meals! Every week, I take photos of the gluten free recipes I make from all over the web and then share my thoughts. Throughout the week you can find pictures of what I’ve been eating on my Instagram (tastefullygf) and Twitter (@tastefullygf). Each Monday I post a list of all my gluten free meals from the last week. You’ll see my photos of the food, a link to the recipe, and any modifications I made. To see previous “Gluten Free Weekly Meals” posts, just use the search bar on the right side of the page. You can also find these recipes on my Pinterest boards. I hope these posts provide you with some gluten free cooking inspiration!

You may have noticed I missed posting about my week’s meals last Monday. I was on vacation at the beach! Beach vacations are fun, but beach food is not very interesting. A granola bar here, a handful of nuts there, etc. My food wasn’t very conducive to a blog post about meals! So, this week’s post picks up with my first meal back from the beach, which was Tuesday’s dinner. Read on below!

Tuesday
For dinner I made these Spinach & Cheese Enchiladas I spotted on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe recently. I knew I had to try this particular recipe. I love spinach, I love really flavorful, Mexican-esque food, and everything I’ve made from Mel’s blog has turned out great! No surprise, these enchiladas were pretty good. I subbed in Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour in the sauce, and the texture was a bit funky, but that didn’t effect the flavor, as far as I can figure.

Wednesday
For breakfast I made Egg & Mashed Avocado on Corn Tortillas. I can’t get enough of this breakfast! It tastes perfect to me! The runny egg yolk + avocado combo just can’t be beaten. Unfortunately, I’ve been having a really rough time tolerating eggs, so I may have to put this breakfast aside for a while.

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Lunch was leftover enchiladas from Tuesday’s dinner + a smoothie. Get my Banana Chocolate Chip Smoothie Recipe here.

Dinner was Cashew Chicken and Rice & Carrot Noodles. This is the second time I’ve made the Cashew Chicken recipe. I actually tripled the recipe this time, and added some chili garlic paste for some heat. I like serving stir fries with the rice/carrot noodle combo. It’s a simple way to trade some simple carbs for some vegetables. We really enjoyed this meal! The Cashew Chicken requires a bit more effort than usual stir fries, but the extra work is absolutely worth it!

Cashew-Chicken-WAILW12

Thursday
I made banana sweetened oatmeal for breakfast. I went for something simple, chocolate oatmeal with a spoonful of almond butter on top. Simple, yes, but also very delicious! Steve had his usual, plain oatmeal topped with peanut butter and chocolate chips.

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For lunch I finished off the leftover enchiladas. Yum!

Dinner was burgers, cauliflower tater tots, and corn. These burgers were Buffalo Ranch Burgers, which I promise I’ll eventually post the recipe for. My cauliflower tater tots are are based off of this recipe, which is wonderful. Making homemade, healthy, tater tots is surprisingly easy!

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Friday
For breakfast I made Sweet Potato & Egg Breakfast Skillet, but added a bit of sausage. Although I love the original version, the added sausage is a fun treat. I use a spicy, andouille sausage to compliment the sweetness of the potatoes.

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For lunch I made this Purple Smoothie. It had so many good fruits & veggies in it I figured it would be adequate for a lunch. It was yummy, but didn’t keep me full. I ended up doing some snacking (on chocolate) before dinner.

I finally made and successfully photographed my Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash recipe. I told Steve that after having it so many times while I was the working on the recipe I’d be sick of it and not make again it for months. Well, a few bites later that thought was gone! I have a feeling this is a recipe we will be eating for years! It’s wonderful. I’m not sure exactly when the recipe will make it onto the blog, but keep an eye out for it. This one is a big winner!

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Saturday
Sweet Potato Pancakes. That’s all I have to say. I’ve spent a long time trying to find a recipe for sweet potato pancakes that actually results in a pancake, and I’ve finally found one. I used this recipe with a few modifications. Both Steve and I both enjoyed these with maple syrup. I tried to the pancakes with almond butter, too, and it was also good!

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For lunch we ate leftover Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash while on the road to Raleigh, NC.

After exploring Raleigh for the day we were hungry, and decided to hit up our favorite restaurant there, Guasaca. We love this place. It’s affordable, filling food. Everything is made from scratch in the restaurant and – get this – everything on the menu is gluten free. Did I mention that the food is absolutely delicious?!

Guasaca-WIALW12

Sunday
Breakfast was Coconut Baked Oatmeal (recipe coming soon). I’ve decided this is the perfect summer baked oatmeal. It’s warm and comforting like any other baked oatmeal, but it’s also light and gently sweet. I found that I’ve been craving this more than the Baked Cookie Oatmeal I’ve been obsessing over for months!

Coconut-Baked-Oatmeal-WIALW12

At lunch time there was really nothing around, so I threw together some sweet potato noodles with spinach and bacon. It was quite good, and was devoured before I took a picture.

Sunday is often Pizza Night, and for my choice I made a Margherita Pizza. I used my gluten free pizza crust, but grilled it. I added simple toppings, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil. The Italians definitely knew what they were doing when they first combined those flavors, it is always delicious!

Gluten-Free-Margherita-Pizza-WIALW12

See you back here on Wednesday for a new recipe!

Grilled Lemon Garlic Basil Tilapia

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Grilled Lemon Garlic Basil Tilapia is a quick weeknight dinner. Nutritious, and full of lemon & herb flavor.

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We all need quick and easy dinner recipes. Days get busy, evenings get busy and somethings there’s hardly time to sit down and eat, let alone cook. Even though I love to cook, on a busy day I’m definitely tempted to go through the Chick-fil-A drive through or just buy a GF frozen pizza. There are better options than fast food, though!

Which brings me to this Tilapia. It’s so speedy to make. I mean, really quick. Turn the grill on and 5 minutes later you have dinner. A healthy dinner. Fish has tons of nutrients and health benefits, and the flavors come from real, whole foods, too. Nothing artificial here!

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Grilling fish seems a bit intimidating, but it’s actual very simple. An important step is to spray the grill with cooking spray or olive oil just before you put the fish on. Yes, the oil will cause the flames to flare up for a minute, but it will also keep the fish from sticking to the grill.

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I’ve heard different opinions on whether or not you need to flip fish while it is grilling. Personally, I like to flip tilapia, especially the thicker filets. Mostly, I just like to see the nice grill marks on the top of the fish, but I think the flipping also helps the fish to cook a touch faster. Maybe that’s just in head, and it feels faster because I am more actively involved during the cooking process. Flip or no flip, just be sure to grill the fish until it reaches 145° F. Then it’s off the grill and onto dinner plates!

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Grilled Lemon Garlic Basil Tilapia

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 4 tilapia filets, 4-6 oz each
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (you can use fresh garlic, but I found the garlic powder stays on the fish better during cooking)
  • 2 Tbs minced, fresh basil
Directions
  1. Preheat the grill.
  2. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, and minced basil.
  3. Spray the grill with cooking oil/spray and place the tilapia filets on the prepared grill space (it should be over direct heat).
  4. Spoon a bit of the lemon juice mixture onto each fish filet, and use a cooking brush to spread it out over the top of the fish. Cover, and let cook for 3 or 4 minutes.
  5. Flip, and brush the second side with the remaining lemon juice mixture.
  6. Cook for an additional 3 or 4 minutes on the second side. Check to make sure fish has reached at least 145° F before serving.
Serve this with:

Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

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The beloved chocolate and peanut butter combination comes together in soft, flourless cookie. These simple cookies can be made, start to finish, in just about 30 minutes!

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Everyone loves these Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies! I make them often.  We’ve made and mailed them to family and friends for birthdays, served them at parties, and bring them to potlucks. These are the quickest gluten free cookies I have ever made!

A few weeks ago, after agreeing to bring a dessert to a party, I immediately thought of the flourless peanut butter cookies. I wanted to do something a little bit fun, so I made some “opposite” cookie. My typical, peanut butter chocolate chip, and then some chocolate peanut butter chips.

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I had the cookies baked and packed to bring to the party when Steve asked if he could just try one. He tried the Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip variety, and then tried another, telling me how soft they were. I had to have a bite. Sure enough, it was delicious. A moist, soft baked chocolate cookie with warm, melty peanut butter chips – how could it have NOT been an amazing cookie?!

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So I unpacked the Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies and quickly snapped a few photos in the 10 minutes before we had to leave.

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Steve wasn’t the only one who liked the cookies. I’m not one to brag about my cooking or baking, but everyone at the party enjoyed them, too!

Next time you need a dessert, these will surely be a hit! After all, who doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter?!

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Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Ingredients (makes about a dozen and a half cookies)
  • 1 c creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c peanut butter chips
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Mix the first six ingredients (you can do this by hand or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment).
  3. Stir in the peanut butter chips.
  4. Roll a spoonful of dough (about 1-2 tablespoons of dough) into a ball in the palm of your hand. Place cookie dough balls onto a baking sheet (a non stick baking pan will work fine, or use a regular baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat). Using the palm of your hand, gently flatten the cookie dough balls just a bit (these cookies don’t spread a whole lot, so once you’ve flattened the cookie you only need about 2 inches between each cookie on the baking sheet).
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes. Finished cookies will be firm on the bottom, but still soft on the top. Let the cookies sit on the sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack or plate (or eat).

This recipe is linked to Gluten Free Wednesdays hosted by Gluten Free Homemaker, Gluten Free Easily, and Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Check it out!

2014 Gardening Report #3

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It’s been nearly 2 months since my last garden update, and a lot has happened in my garden in that time!

We have cucumbers . . .

A-Cucumber-Garden-Update-7:2014

. . . and zucchinis.

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There is tons of fresh basil,

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and even more mint!

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There’s a whole bunch of oregano, too!

Oregano-Garden-Update-7:2014

I sort of cheated with getting some sage going, it’s a starter plant that my mother in law got for me.

Sage-Garden-Update-7:2014

The only herb that isn’t doing too well is the parsley. No matter how much I cut it down, I can’t get it to stop flowering. It hardly produces leaves anymore, just flowers.

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On the less successful side, the green bean plants are not producing many beans. There are some, but they are small, and the plants have not gotten very big at all.

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I’m having trouble with pests and broccoli. The leaves keep getting eaten! I do have one broccoli plants that the bugs haven’t found yet.

Broccoli-Garden-Update-7:2014

The cauliflower is growing sooo slowly. This was something I was so excited to grow, but I’m not sure if I’ll get any yield. I suppose there’s still plenty of growing season. Only time will tell what happens.

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The tomato, tomatillo, and bell pepper plants are all slow growing. The tomatillo plant is flowering (so are the tomato plants, but the photo is of tomatillo), which means tomatillos are coming soon!

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Here’s a creative pot for a tomato plant (we have a few tomato plants in more traditional containers, too).

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Some of the most exciting gardening developments have been the “volunteer plants” that have grown up from the compost. We dug up some potatoes that had grown from kitchen scraps, and that mystery plant I was talking about is a Spaghetti Squash! How exciting! Composting has been so rewarding. It’s transformed our sandy soil into something that actually supports plant life. Watching things grow from the compost is so neat, too. It’s so much better than just trashing your kitchen scraps!

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We have more plants growing than I’ve showed you today. This would be one long post if I wrote about everything we have growing. These are just the current highlights!

What’s growing in your garden?

Crispy Parmesan Chicken

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There’s no breading in this crispy baked chicken! Perfectly moist on the inside, crunchy on outside, all without any gluten or grains!

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Sometimes experimental cooking goes well, other times it goes poorly. This chicken is an example of experimental cooking success. In fact, it turned out far better than expected! I never intended this chicken to be a food blog recipe, or even especially good. If this chicken had turned out mediocre I would have, sadly, been totally okay with that. I just wanted a quick and easy protein to go with dinner.

Well, this is quick and easy AND delicious. The chicken takes all of 5 minutes (if that) to prep. It comes out of the oven with a crisp, golden crust. The chicken is moist and juicy on the inside, with a strong parmesan flavor.

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My super, not-so-secret ingredient in this recipe is almond meal. Sure, you can use bread crumbs to make a crispy coating for chicken, but it’s not always that simple when you are on a gluten free diet. Store bought gluten free bread crumbs are expensive, and making homemade GF bread crumbs isn’t exactly quick and easy.

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You might be thinking “but almond meal is also expensive”! It’s true! That’s why I make my own. I get raw almonds in bulk, and grind them up for a few seconds in my blender. This almond meal doesn’t have the same perfectly consistent texture as the store bought kind, but it’s good enough for almost every need I have. It also ends up being cheaper per pound than gluten free bread crumbs (at least the varieties I can find locally). By using almond meal instead of bread crumbs you’re also making the dish healthier – adding protein and cutting some carbs! It’s a great grain free alternative to breaded chicken.

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The other part of the crispy coating is parmesan cheese. Another money saving idea here – check the price of parmesan wedges at your local grocery store. I’ve found the normal price for a 1 lb wedge of parmesan is less, per pound, than a jar of the brand name, pre-grated cheese. With a grater, it will only take a couple minutes to shred the entire wedge. Freshly grated parmesan beats the pre-grated parmesan in flavor hands down! That’s part of what makes this chicken taste so good – a little bit of fresh parmesan goes a long way!

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 Crispy Parmesan Chicken

Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 5-6 chicken tenders
  • 1/4 c almond meal
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
  • cooking spray
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven (or toaster oven) to 375° F.
  2. Combine the almond meal and parmesan cheese in a shallow bowl.
  3. Trim the chicken of any excess fat.
  4. Spray each piece of chicken with cooking spray, then lay it in the bowl with the almond meal and parmesan mixture. Press each side of the chicken down, to get the coating to stick. Place the coated chicken on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken.
  5. Press any extra parmesan coating that is in the bowl onto the tops of the chicken pieces.
  6. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. Thin chicken tenders will need less time to cook through than a thick chicken breast. When the chicken is done the outside will be golden and crispy, and the internal temperature should reach 165° F.
Serve this with:

 

Gluten Free Weekly Meals (What I Ate Last Week) #11

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Welcome to this week’s post of Gluten Free Weekly Meals! Every week, I take photos of the gluten free recipes I make from all over the web and then share my thoughts. Throughout the week you can find pictures of what I’ve been eating on my Instagram (tastefullygf) and Twitter (@tastefullygf). Each Monday I post a list of all my gluten free meals from the last week. You’ll see my photos of the food, a link to the recipe, and any modifications I made. To see previous “Gluten Free Weekly Meals” posts, just use the search bar on the right side of the page. You can also find these recipes on my Pinterest boards. I hope these posts provide you with some gluten free cooking inspiration!

 

Monday
I’m starting off the week on a bad note. I have no written or photographic record of what I ate for breakfast on Monday. Opps! I do know that my lunch was leftovers from the day before – some sweet potato noodles with grilled corn and onions.

Dinner was an old recipe and a new recipe. The Ginger and Cilantro Baked Tilapia is a tried and true recipe. Healthy, tasty, and easy to make. I’ve come back to it again and again when I’ve been in the mood for fish. I paired it with a new recipe. This Quinoa Salad with Edamame, Cucumber and Avocado. It was good – good enough that it’s on my meal plan for this week, too! I used red quinoa, instead of black, and will probably try it with regular quinoa, too.

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Tuesday
Breakfast was my Sweet Potato & Egg Skillet. Recipe now up on the blog! A few people had asked me about the recipe, so don’t forget to check it out.

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Lunch was some leftovers from Monday’s dinner. I enjoyed the quinoa salad just as much as the night before!

For dinner I made my Mexican Stroganoff with Brazilian Cheese Bread. Usually I would serve this with rice, but I was out! Yup, a celiac who ran out of rice. I ate mine with the Shiratake Miracle Noodles, but it honestly wasn’t a great pairing. The rice is better. I made pasta for Steve, and the friend he had over for dinner.

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Wednesday
For breakfast I made Banana Sweetened Oatmeal.  Mine was simple – I just topped it with some natural, crunchy peanut butter. It “hit the spot” (as my grandmother always said). Tasty and filling! Plus, healthy!

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Lunch was more leftover, big surprise there.

For dinner I made some Chicken Kebabs, marinated in a tomato sauce, and served it with the leftover quinoa salad. By then the avocado was softened quite a bit, so it needed to be eaten. The food was all good, but I ate really quickly before running out the door, so I didn’t exactly have time to savor it.

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Thursday
My new favorite breakfast, an crispy corn tortilla, with mashed avocado and an egg. It’s super easy to make, and hardly requires a recipe. You should try it :)

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I had a mocha smoothie for lunch. It tasted pretty much amazing, but was a bit too liquidy. I only used 1 banana, so maybe I should have used the 2 recommended in the recipe.

I’d kinda spent the day on Thursday agonizing about what to make for dinner. Isn’t that why I meal plan? Yes, but I’d totally messed up my meal orders for the week and didn’t have meat defrosted. Eventually my creativity got to work and I came up with a plan. I used some leftover tomato sauce that was in the refrigerator to make a pasta sauce. Steve had regular pasta and I made zucchini noodles for me. Additionally, we had these Everything Bagel Quinoa Patties. We had some leftover cream cheese/feta/mozzarella spread Steve made that was a great topping. It turned out to be a totally delicious meal! Creativity for the win!

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Friday
Breakfast was Baked Cookie Oatmeal. I baked it in the toaster oven to save energy. It actually crisped the top more than with oven baking. Still delicious, and a bit of a more authentic cookie texture!

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Dinner was Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Sqaush. I intended to take pictures for the blog, but by the time we ate dinner it was nearly 8:30pm and the light just wasn’t good enough for photos. The sad part, I won’t get to post the recipe as soon. The good part, I get to eat it again soon!

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Saturday
I made these Paleo Pancakes for breakfast. My picture of them is quite-un Paleo, because we spread a little nutella on top! I think these pancakes are delicious plain, though, really. And you can’t go wrong with a three ingredient pancake recipe, either!

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Lunch was leftover Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash.

We went to a BBQ for dinner, with tons of gluten free food! I had a bacon guacamole burger, with some spinach salad and a few other sides. The girl hosting the party is a nutritionist AND gluten free, herself, so she knew exactly how to prepare a celiac-safe meal. It was fun and delicious!

Sunday
I made Grain Free Banana Pancakes, at Steve’s request. I hadn’t eaten these myself in a while (since I’ve been trying to eat less sugar and less calories), but they were such a pleasant treat. I’d almost forgotten how good they are!

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For lunch I made these Italian Chicken Sandwiches. I made some last weekend to bring on a day trip, and had some leftover sauce. I follow the recipe exactly, and just use Udi’s Gluten Free Bread.

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For dinner I made these Buffalo Turkey Flatbreads. I made a number of modifications, including cutting the cream cheese, using homemade ranch dressing, adding carrots, and swapping corn tortillas for the flour tortillas. There was a bit of a learning curve for me, grilling the tortillas, but the flavor didn’t suffer much. We just knocked off any overly burnt pieces of tortilla and kept eating. Delicious!

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Sweet Potato & Egg Breakfast Skillet

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Three ingredient, make ahead breakfast with eggs and sweet potatoes. It’s simple, but not lacking in flavor. A great healthy start to the day!

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A few months ago I spotted this Sweet Potato Hash recipe on the Kitchn (one of my absolute favorite cooking blogs). Honestly, it didn’t look super appetizing to me, but it sounded like something I’d be happy to get up and eat in the morning. Breakfasts here were a little rough around the edges at that time. It was always a “what do you want to eat today” type of deal. Which seems pointless, looking back, because there were really only two things we were eating for breakfast; oatmeal and cereal. So, I got the ingredients for this new recipe, followed the directions to a tee, and it was just as delicious as I’d imagined it to be.

Comparing my version below, and the original recipe you can see a lot of changes have been made. Mostly, things have been simplified and “southern-ified” (avoiding turning on the oven as much as possible when the temperature is so high). Would I still make the full recipe for a brunch of special occasion? Absolutely! Do I like my version better for weekday breakfast? Yup!

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I always prepare the sweet potatoes ahead of time. I dice them, cook them, and then store in the refrigerator until I’m ready to use them for a breakfast (just use them sometime within a week!). The morning I want to make this breakfast skillet I pull out the already-cooked sweet potatoes and eggs and layer them in my Calphalon skillet. Bake for about 15 minutes and breakfast is ready!

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Have I mentioned before how much I love this calphalon pan? It’s oven safe, which makes it my go-to pan for this recipe. It’s also safe for use with metal utensils, which is a biggie for me. I hate having to use only certain things with certain pans. I’ve found that even though it’s not coated with teflon it’s still surprisingly nonstick-like. Just a spray of cooking oil and none of these eggs or sweet potatoes stick to the pan ONE BIT! And eggs are sticky – this is saying a lot! These pans are elegant looking, and clean up so quickly and easily (check out the pictures, that skillet looks brand new), so you can keep them in great condition. I’m all about buying quality products that last, not getting something cheap and then needing to replace it just months later. Plus, I’m a lot more likely to make a fancy breakfast like this if I know the clean up will only take 30 seconds!

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Anyway, back to the food.

The directions below will get you two separate breakfasts (If you’re making food ahead of time, why not make extra? More food, same effort!), but you can very easily make more or less, or even vary the egg to sweet potato ratio. I always cook this with over-medium eggs. If you prefer solid yolks, cook them a bit longer. Softer yolks, a bit less. Personally, I find a runny egg yolk over my sweet potatoes + a dash of salt to be one of the most perfect, savory breakfasts out there!

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Sweet Potato & Egg Breakfast Skillet

This recipe is written to make enough sweet potatoes for two breakfasts. I bake 4 eggs with each batch of sweet potatoes, which feeds two people. To serve more people, try adding extra eggs, or just baking all the sweet potatoes and eggs at once.
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 8 eggs (4 eggs each, for 2 total breakfast skillets)
Directions
  1. Add the diced sweet potatoes and olive oil to a large non-stick skillet.  Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are tender (I test using a fork – if the fork easily goes in, the potatoes are ready). Let the cooked potatoes cool before putting them in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week before using.
  2. The morning you want to serve, preheat the oven to 425° F.
  3. Spray an oven-safe skillet with cooking spray (I use misto). Add a layer of potatoes (about half of the total made in step 1). Crack 4 eggs on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes. Check frequently near the end to see if the eggs are cooked. Serve hot.
  5. Save the remaining sweet potatoes and eggs to make another morning.

Quinoa, Avocado & Salmon Salad

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A quinoa salad packed with protein and veggies. Spices, lime juice and fresh parsley bring in light flavors, perfect for summer!

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When I first started blogging I felt very strongly about only posting 100% totally original recipes. Some of my recipe ideas just come to me out of thin air and are totally unique (or, at least I know nothing about any other similar versions out there), but many of my recipes are also a part of a creative process starting with another person’s recipe. Over the course of making the recipe a few times it morphs into something else. Sometimes it changes based on ingredient availability, how much I’m willing to spend at the grocery store, if I want to turn the oven on or not, and of course the obvious: if the recipe is gluten free or not! It’s so interesting to follow the whole process, and rather than feeling guilty about not coming up with totally new and original recipes I’m loving and embracing giving credit to my sources of inspiration! Bloggers supporting bloggers!

This particular recipe started off as “Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa” from The Cookie Rookie. I raved about it in one of my “What I Ate Last Week” posts. It’s a Whole30 recipe, but I served it with quinoa since I’m not doing Whole30. Like I said, I raved about the recipe. It was de-lic-ous! We had extra avocado salsa and just ate it plain. It was that good.

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As Steve and I are shoveling down the entire recipe, plus quinoa, he says “you should make this into a salad. Mix it all together.” We knew it would be good, since that was basically what we had each done on our plates.

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So, really, I can only take credit for a few minor recipe modifications. I used a bit of a different technique for seasoning the salmon, used a regular onion instead of a red onion, bottled lime juice instead of fresh, and parsley instead of cilantro, since my garden is literally overflowing with parsley. And of course, I added the quinoa.

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The salad-ified recipe is quite delicious. It’s good summer food. You could easily bring it to a picnic or a potluck, and probably have one of the tastiest (and healthiest!) dishes there! One cautionary note: avocado will turn brown overnight, so keep that in mind when deciding when and how much of this to make.

Enjoy!

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Quinoa, Avocado & Salmon Salad

Ingredients
  • 4 salmon filets, 3-4 oz each (I use the frozen kind, that come in individual pouches, but 12 – 16 oz of any salmon will work)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 3/4 c quinoa
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 avocado, cut into cubes
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 1/2 Tbs lime juice
  • 3 Tbs chopped parsley
Directions
  1. Combine the olive oil, salt, cumin, paprika, onion, powder, and ancho chili powder in a small bowl. Rub the paste evenly onto the salmon. Put the salmon in the refrigerator to “marinade” for 15-30 minutes.
  2. While the salmon is “marinating”, prepare the quinoa. Add the quinoa and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to the low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. When the quinoa is done, Put it in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Preheat the grill.
  4. Spray the grill with cooking spray (I use misto) right before adding the salmon. Grill over direct heat, with the cover on, for about 5 minutes, or until the internal temperature has reached 145° F.
  5. Remove the salmon from the grill. While the salmon sits for a few minutes, add the avocado, onion, lime juice, and parsley to the bowl with the quinoa.
  6. Cut the salmon into bite sized pieces and add to the bowl.
  7. Gently, stir everything together. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for a few hours and serve chilled.

This post is linked to Gluten Free Wednesday at Gluten Free Homemaker, Gluten Free Easily, and Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Check it out!

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