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Carrot Noodle Stir Fry

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Everyone needs quick & healthy meals ideas, and I have a great one for you today. Even better, this tastes like any oil coated, sodium loaded stir fry but it’s totally healthy. Carrots + broccoli + a 2-ingredient sauce. It doesn’t get much more simplier or healthier than that! Plus, this stir fry is naturally gluten free!

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So, carrot noodles. You’ve probably noticed vegetable noodles and spiralizers are all the rage on Pinterest and food blogs. I love the idea of eating my vegetables in noodle form but seriously have no room in my kitchen for another fancy appliance. It turns out that you can easily make vegetable noodles with a vegetable peeler, no spiralizer needed!

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When I first started experimenting with veggie noodles, carrot noodles were not on my radar. I hate carrots. They taste like chalk to me. Even dipped in hummus – still gross. Then one evening Steve made some carrot noodles. It’s hard to remember how it all happened. I was in the bathroom vomiting from coffee withdrawal sickness and not really paying any attention to anything. Steve came in the bathroom with a small plate of food, saying I needed to eat. I was too sick to care and just ate whatever he gave me. I guess there had been some carrot noodles in there.

{If you’re interested in my coffee story, check back on Friday for a post about how and why I beat caffeine addiction!}

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Well, the carrots weren’t so bad. It turns out that cooked and flavored carrots taste amazing. There is really no carroty taste at all! I’ve now been honing my carrot noodle recipe, and found that carrot noodles are very well suited to stir fry. The carrots suck up all the flavors from the sauce. It’s very similar to eating a bowl of rice noodles slathered with sauce, but instead you’re eating a bowl of vegetables. Not only will you love how this stir fry tastes, but you’ll love how good it feels to be eating something that is truly healthy and good for you!

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Carrot Noodle Stir Fry

Serves 1. For a more substantial meal, serve with rice. I cook 1/4c rice (dry) for each serving of carrot noodles.
 
Ingredients
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 broccoli crown
  • 1 Tbs olive oil, divided (or other cooking oil, like coconut oil or sesame oil)
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs Bragg’s Amino Acids (this is a soy sauce replacement. If you don’t mind the sodium, just sub in soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp chili garlic paste (check label to be sure it’s GF)
Directions
  1. Heat half of the oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.
  2. While the oil and the skillet are heating, cut the broccoli into florets. When the oil is hot add the broccoli to the skillet. Stir the broccoli until it is coated with oil and bright green. Add the water to the skillet (be careful, it may splash/steam), reduce the heat to medium, and cover. Let the broccoli simmer until it is tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the broccoli is simmering prepare the carrots noodles. First, peel the outer layer off of the carrots. Using the same vegetable peeler, continue to peel along the entire length of the carrot to make long noodle shapes. Once the carrot is down to the small stub you are holding onto use a knife to cut it up into small pieces. Do this with both carrots.
  4. When the broccoli is tender move it to a plate and drain any extra water out of the skillet. Add the other half of the oil to the skillet and bump the heat back up to medium high.
  5. When the oil is hot add the carrot noodles. Stir to coat them with oil. Continue to cook for about 3 -4 minutes, stirring. The noodles will go from firm to softer, and be brighter in color. Once the noodles have softened add the Amino acids and chili garlic paste. Stir to combine. Add the broccoli back into the skillet and cook for just a minute more to heat up the broccoli.
  6. Serve hot.
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PGF: Macaroni & Broccoli

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Macaroni & Broccoli is a quick, healthy pasta dinner. It can be difficult to make a quick GF dinner, and even more tricky if you’re trying to make that meal healthy, too. Since the base of the dish is pasta and there are no strong flavors this healthy, gluten free dinner will please picky eaters, too.

Really, this is so simple to make that it hardly needs a recipe. I set two pots of water on the stove over high heat. While the water is coming to a boil I chop some broccoli florets and garlic. When the water is boiling I add some brown rice pasta to one pot, some regular pasta to the other and steam the broccoli. If I’m not feeling lazy I may saute the garlic in a little oil, but it’s not a necessary step.

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It goes without saying that you NEED to be careful when cooking GF pasta and wheat pasta side by side. Use two separate pots and get out two separate stirring spoons. I like to keep my GF pasta, pot, and stirring utensil on one side of the stove and the wheat-laden food on the other side. Package up any leftover pasta right when you are done with it to avoid any cross contamination! I time the pasta cooking times so that the GF pasta will be done first. I drain it, put in on the table, and then drain the wheat pasta when the GF portion is totally out of the way. If you take these simple precautions to avoid cross contamination your meal will be safe! (Of course, you could also make this meal entirely with GF pasta, or even entirely with wheat pasta if you don’t have a gluten intolerance).

Once the pasta is cooked I stir some broccoli and garlic in to each pot and dinner is ready! Super easy and dinner will be on the table in under 30 minutes! For a fuller meal, serve with a salad and some grilled chicken. You’ll still have a quick, simple dinner!

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PGF: Macaroni & Broccoli

See post for additional tips on safely cooking GF and wheat pasta simultaneously.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c GF pasta
  • 2 c wheat pasta
  • 1 large or 2 small heads of broccoli
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbc olive oil
Directions
  1. Fill two saucepans with water and heat over high heat.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, cut the broccoli into small florets and mince the garlic.
  3. Place the broccoli florets in a steamer basket. Fill another sauce pan with an inch or two of water and put the steamer basket in the pan. Heat to boiling, and then reduce the heat to low and let the broccoli simmer for about 8 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat. (See this post for step-by-step instructions on steaming broccoli).
  4. In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic with the olive oil. If you’d like, you can saute the garlic and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, until the garlic has softened, but this step is not required.
  5. When the pasta water is boiling, add the GF pasta to one pan and the regular pasta to another. Stir each, being sure to use separate stirring utensils. Cook each pasta according to package directions and then drain, starting with the GF pasta.
  6. Return the pasta to their respective pots. Add about 1/3 of the broccoli and 1/3 of the garlic/oil mixture to the GF pasta. Stir until the oil has coated the pasta.
  7. Add the remaining broccoli and garlic/oil to the regular pasta and stir to coat the pasta with the oil.

Hummus with a Hint of Lemon & Garlic (Plus: How to Make Smooth, Homemade Hummus)

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I love hummus! Do you love hummus? I think everyone loves hummus!

Lemon Garlic Hummus 3

I actually ignore the hummus display at the grocery store because it is sooooo tempting. All of the flavors are mouth watering, but they come at a hefty price tag! My favorite variety, the Tribe Forty Spice, I can’t even find locally! A runner up, Sabra Supremely Spicy, is $4.99 for a 10 oz (I think) container. I can make double that amount for about $1!

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Making hummus at home is simple, and there’s no limit to the flavors you can create.

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To make hummus, you’ll need a blender or a food processor. The main ingredient is a can or chick peas/garbanzo beans. Sure, you can just dump the in the blender, but the key to making super smooth hummus is peeling the skins off of the garbanzo beans. It takes a bit more time to peel off all of those skins but it makes a world of difference in texture. To peel off the skins, just squeeze towards one end of the chickpea between two fingers. The skin should pop right off.

Lemon Garlic Hummus 1

Another key ingredent in hummus is tahini (aka sesame paste). You can buy this is most mainstream grocery stores. Its usually $7 or $8 for a jar, but you will only use a tablespoon or two in each hummus batch. A great way to get tahini for a bit cheaper is to buy it at a mediteranean food store. The same goes for spices!

As for the process of actually making the hummus, like I said, it is very simple. First, I blend the chick peas and some of the liquid. Next, I add the spices. Finally, I slowly add liquid until the hummus reaches the perfect consistency.

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Hummus with a Hint of Lemon & Garlic

Ingredients
  • 1 can, 15.5 oz, garbanzo beans/chick peas
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs tahini
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
Directions
  1. Drain the garbanzo beans, saving the liquid from the can. Remove and discard the clear skins from the garbanzo beans.
  2. Add the garbanzo beans and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. If the mixture is dry, add some of the reserved liquid from the can of garbanzo beans.
  3. When the garbanzo beans are completely mashed, add the tahini, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and olive oil. Mix again until completely combined.
  4. Check the consistency of the hummus. If you’d like it to be smooth or more liquid slowly add more of the reserved liquid until the hummus reaches the desired consistency.

Green Beans Almondine

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Green Beans Almondine is a versatile vegetable side dish. It is quick and simple enough to throw together on a busy weeknight but nice enough to serve to guests.

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I’m always looking for ways to dress up vegetables. Actually, one of the first recipes I ever “invented”, back in high school, was a spicy sauce to put on steamed broccoli. Vegetables always seem more appetizing when they have some extra flavors added to them. Even if you love the taste of plain vegetables adding a unique flavor every once and while will keep things interesting.

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Although I’m not sure if this recipe is representative of traditional Green Beans Almondine, I am pretty sure that you will enjoy it anyway. Cooked in a bit of butter with the subtle taste of shallots and topped off with some almonds, these green beans have a few delicious additions. And its all ready in just about 10 minutes!

Yup, I just mentioned butter up there as an ingredient, which is an unusual ingredient here on this blog. I’m really not sure what to make of butter. I feel like there are some many different schools of thought on what fats to use that I can’t keep track. Personally, I like butter in this recipe. Would olive oil be good? Yup! Margarine? I haven’t tried it, but I think it would work. I think some people would probably use coconut oil, but I haven’t gotten into that yet so I can’t speak to how I think that would work. What do you think about butter? I’m curious what other people use and why! Let me know.

So, there are my thoughts, or lack there of, on butter. Probably not quite what you expected to read on a post about green beans.

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Green Beans Almondine

Ingredients
  • 1 lb green beans, cleaned and trimmed
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4c slivered almonds
  • 1 Tbs butter (or olive oil, margarine, etc – see post above)
Directions
  1. Place the green beans in a medium sauce pan and fill with water, until the beans are totally covered. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the beans and run cold water over them until they are no longer hot.
  2. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced shallots and garlic, and slivered almonds. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic and shallots and softened. The almonds will start to get browned, also.
  3. When the shallots and garlic are soft add the green beans to the skillet and stir to coat the beans. Cook the beans, stirring frequently, until they are tender and warmed through, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Chicken & Aspargus Stir Fry

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This chicken and asparagus stir fry is an excellent weeknight meal. It has a (fairly) short ingredient list and takes under 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish. Served with some brown rice or quinoa it is a healthy, well balanced meal, and it doesn’t sacrifice any flavor!

Why do kids hate to eat vegetables?

As I’ve been writing up this recipe and looking through the photos I keep thinking of the dichotomy of my eating life. As a child I hated vegetables. Like, really, really hated. I had some awful (well, awful in the mind of an 8 year old) dinners when my Dad decided to pull out his wok and do some stir frying.

My Dad, like me, enjoys to cook and bake. He used to have this bright red electric wok and boy was I unhappy when it came out of the cupboard. It usually meant I was going to be served up a big plate of veggies, and, like I said, I really hated veggies.

Now, I’m pretty good about eating my vegetables! I think this healthy stir fry recipe is a total winner. I can imagine though, that if my Mom found this recipe 20 years ago she probably would have been thinking “Yeah right, that’s not going to fly with my kids”.

I hope this is a meal your family would enjoy. If not, here’s to hoping your children end up like me and come around to vegetables eventually!

Chicken & Asparagus Stir Fry

Ingredients
  • 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce (or Bragg’s Amino Acids)
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, slice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Directions
  1. Before you start cooking cut the chicken and asparagus into bite sized pieces, mince the garlic and ginger, and slice the green onions.
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix the soy sauce, honey, and sriracha. Add the chicken to the bowl and stir until the chicken is coated with the sauce.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot add the asparagus to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes (or until the asparagus reaches the desired level of tenderness), stirring frequently so that the asparagus does not burn. Remove cooked asparagus from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the chicken to the same skillet, along with any sauce left in the bottom on the bowl. Cook the chicken for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked through.
  5. Push the chicken off to one side of the skillet. Put the garlic, ginger, and green onions in the empty space in the skillet and stir it around a bit so that everything gets coated with the sauce, then stir into the chicken.
  6. Stir the asparagus into the skillet again, and cook just a minute or two more, until the asparagus has heated up.
  7. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired. I serve this with rice or quinoa.

Spinach & Garlic Noodles

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In this time, when GF pasta is so readily available at grocery stores, it might seem silly to make your own. Even though I love all things cooking I still use store bought pasta most of the time, just because of the convenience factor.

One thing I really miss with GF pasta is the many, many varieties. Walking down the pasta aisle in the grocery store there are a plethora of shapes, sizes, and flavors to choose from. The GF section has a few options; maybe spaghetti, elbows, and ziti. Sometimes I miss the fancy pasta! Farfalle, acine de peppe, vegetable flavors, whole wheat – I can’t get any of these in GF (at least at my local, and not so awesome, grocery store. Maybe if you live in a big city you have more options).

I make GF pasta to fill that fancy pasta void in my life. With a basic dough, some creativity, and a pasty/pizza dough cutter your plain GF pasta will get much more interesting!

This dough comes from a recipe from The Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Food, and it is indeed more time consuming than using dry pasta, but requires little manual labor. You just throw the ingredients in the food processor and let it do the work (You don’t need a fancy food processor to do this. I have an 8 cup generic Sears brand food processor I got for $17 a few years ago. Its low quality, but it gets the job done)! The dough comes out soft and mold-able, making the rolling and cutting a breeze. When it’s time to cook, the pasta will only need 2 or 3 minutes in boiling water before it is done.

This dough can be modified to have many flavors, but this spinach and garlic variety is one of my favorites. If you’re not a garlic lover, I can vouch for how tasty the pasta is without the garlic, also, because I’ve made it that way a number of times, too. I cut mine into long fettuccine-like noodles but the shape options are endless!

Spinach & Garlic Noodles

 
Ingredients
  • 1 c packed spinach leaves
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 c white or brown rice flour
  • 1/2 c tapioca starch
  • 1/2 c cornstarch
  • 1/4 c potato starch
  • 3 tsp xantan gum
  • 1 tsp gelatin powder
  • 1 Tbs ground flax
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Cooking Directions
  1. Microwave the spinach and water for 90 seconds.
  2. Drain any excess water from the spinach (whatever comes out naturally, you don’t have to press any extra water out of the leaves) and puree in the food processor. You may have to scrape down the sides a few times.
  3. Add the eggs and oil to the food processor, and mix until combined.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and mix one final time. The dough is ready when it has formed a ball. You may have to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times in this step, too.
  5. Once the dough is mixed, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/16 – 1/8 inch thick. I’ve found it to be quicker to do this in three smaller batches.
  6. Slice the dough into long strips with a pastry or pizza cutter.
  7. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once water is boiling, add a couple handfuls of the freshly cut pasta. Be careful not to overfill the pot. Stir to make sure none of the noodles are sticking together.
  8. The pasta will float to the top when it is finished cooking, this will take 5 minutes or less so keep your eye on the pot as it cooks. Remove the pasta with a slotted spoon, and repeat with any remaining pasta.

Thai Basil Chicken (GF)

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I’m eating some of the leftovers as I type this. Delicious.

My love of this dish started two years ago when my sister bought me a packet of Thai basil seeds. I planted them in a small purple pot and a couple of months later I had a Thai basil plant. Sister and I decided it was time to cook with the Thai basil and, since this was in the dark ages before Pinterest, we googled “Thai basil recipes”. One of the first results that popped up was for Thai Basil Chicken. Sounded good. We only had some of the ingredients on hand and weren’t interested in even eating some of the other ingredients listed, so we made due with what we had. And that was how two Italian girls created a “Thai” recipe!

If you haven’t had Thai basil before, it’s a different taste that the Genovese Basil you can buy in bunches or dried at grocery stores. In fact, you may have trouble buying it at a traditional grocery store. I grow mine from seeds, and when it isn’t in season I use a pre-chopped variety in a bottle that I’ve found at Harris Teeter and Wegmans. I suppose you could potentially find it fresh at an Asian market. Since my Thai basil plant currently has only six full size leaves on it, I went for the bottled variety in this recipe. The taste is stronger than a traditional basil, and, as the bottle describes “anise-like”.

One component of this recipe is chili garlic sauce. I love spicy food, so this stuff is right up my alley and I add a full tablespoon to the recipe. I’d suggest toning the spice level down when you first make this dish and start with just a teaspoon, or even less if you know you have a low spice tolerance. Or, serve with lots of rice to counter the spiciness.

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Thai Basil Chicken

Ingredients (makes 4-5 servings)
  • 1 lb. ground chicken breast
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 oz shallots, minced
  • 2 Tbs fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs Bragg’s Amino Acids (or soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs chili garlic sauce
  • 3 Tbs Thai Basil, chopped
Cooking Directions
  1.  Mince the shallots, garlic, and Thai basil.
  2. Heat sesame oil in a large frying pan with shallots and garlic.
  3. When you hear the shallots and garlic sizzling, and the ground chicken.
  4. “Brown” the chicken on medium high heat, breaking up into small chunks. The end result will actually look white, not brown (see picture below).
  5. Add the amino acids/soy sauce and fish sauce to the chicken mixture. Take a few minutes to thoroughly combine this with the chicken. You will notice the chicken absorbs the liquid and turns a slightly darker color.
  6. Add the chili garlic sauce and mix.
  7. Finally, mix in the Thai basil.
Serve with rice and/or a vegetable. As you can see from the pictures, I enjoy eating this with green beans.
 
Photo Directions:
"Browned" chicken, shallots, and garlic.

“Browned” chicken, shallots, and garlic.

 
 
Chicken mixture with 2 tbs fish sauce and 2 tbs soy sauce added.

Chicken mixture with 2 tbs fish sauce and 2 tbs soy sauce added.

 
Completed dish, with 1tbs chili garlic sauce and 3 tbs chopped Thai basil.

Completed dish, with 1tbs chili garlic sauce and 3 tbs chopped Thai basil.

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