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PGF: Pesto Chicken & Lemon Kale Sandwiches

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Pesto Chicken & Lemon Kale sandwiches make a quick and healthy meal. These warm, toasted sandwiches can be made with GF or wheat bread. Perfect for a group of people who have differing dietary needs. The lemon and pesto combination is irresistable. Whether you are eating GF or not you will love this sandwich!

I really enjoy eating soup. There’s nothing else like a tomato soup and grilled cheese, and any time I feel sick with anything I make Avgolemono Soup. I have a whole pinterest board just for soups I want to try!

Soup is a cold weather food. The last thing you want to do on a hot day is eat a big bowl of steaming soup. Hot days are the majority here, so as summer approaches I’ve been trying to get my fill of soups.

A few weeks ago, when the temperature starting getting into the 70s, I kind of freaked out about all the soup recipes I wanted to try and hadn’t had the chance yet! There was one soup in particular that I was anxious to try so I planned to make it that very night. I needed something a little more substantial to go with the soup so I invented these sandwiches out of ingredients from my refrigerator.

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The soup, sadly, wasn’t that great but the sandwiches were awesome! The lemon flavored kale and pesto go together strikingly well. As someone who usually eats all of my foods separated I was honestly a little worried, but the sandwich was 100% enjoyable. The tastes and textures all blended together perfectly. Even the GF bread was perfect. It browned and crisped up so much better than the sandwiches I made on wheat bread for Steve.

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Before actually putting together these sandwiches you’ll need to cook some chicken and saute some kale. It sounds like a lot of work for a sandwich, I know. First, I will tell you that it’s worth it! I’ll do a little extra work for a healthy, delicious meal that everyone in the family likes! Second, these two steps take about 20 minutes total and can be done ahead of time. These sandwiches are a great use of leftovers if you happen to have some extra cooked chicken laying around!

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Pesto Chicken & Lemon Kale Sandwiches

Steps 1 – 3 can be done ahead of time. Store the cooked chicken and kale in the refrigerator until ready to use.
 
Ingredients
  • 8 slices of bread (GF, wheat, or combination of both)
  • 8 tsp pesto
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
Directions
  1. Fill a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil and add the chicken breast. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 12-15 minutes.
  2. While the chicken in cooking, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the kale and saute for about 5 minutes. The kale will turn to a brighter green color and then soften and wilt. Add the lemon juice to the pan and cook, continuing to stir, until there is no more liquid remaining on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.
  3. When the chicken has finished cooking shred it using two fork (or cut into bite sized pieces).
  4. Heat a skillet (the same one you cooked the kale in is fine) over medium heat. Prepare the GF bread by spreading a tsp of pesto sauce on one side of each piece of bread. Spray the other side of the bread with cooking spray, and place that side of the bread down on the baking pan. Put about 1/4 of the chicken on one slice of bread, topped with 1 tbs of cheese. On the other slice, spread out some of the lemon kale and top with another tbs of mozzarella.
  5. Cover the skillet with a lid and let cook until the cheese is mostly melted. Remove the two bread slices from the skillet and carefully put them together. Press down on the top of the sandwiches with a spatula to help keep the sandwich together.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the reaming bread. Be sure to cook all of the GF sandwiches before cooking any sandwiches using wheat bread.

Curry Lentils with an Egg

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I found a recipe for Spiced Lentils with Eggs on theKitchn a while back. I loved the idea, but when I tried the recipe I wasn’t a fan of the garam masala taste. I add garam masala to flavor plenty of foods, but it’s not something I love as a main flavor (that’s just me – if you enjoy give the original recipe a try). I added some curry powder to my next batch and this time I did love the flavor!

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While my curry flavored lentils with an egg were delicious, I knew that as a meal it was really lacking in the vegetable department.  Adding an onion and some leafy greens made me feel a lot better about the vegetable content of this as a meal.  I’ve used both spinach and kale successfully – delicious either way!

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This meal is cooked in two steps. First, the lentils, spices, and vegetables are combined and cooked. The second step is to bake the lentil mixture, topped with an egg. You can bake the lentils in 4 or 5 ramakins right after preparing the lentil mixture on the stove or store the mixture in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it. Since I eat this one serving at a time I tend to store a big container of the lentils in the refrigerator. When I’m need a lunch I scoop some into a ramakin, microwave it for 2 minutes to warm up the lentils, crack the egg on top, and then bake. I know it sounds weird to microwave something before baking it, but I’ve found that this method really works the best when using refrigerated lentils. Otherwise, the baking time ends up being much longer.

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This has quickly become one of my favorite lunches. The curry lentils are so good on their own, and even better with an egg. It’s something about the smoothness of the egg against the spices and slight firmness of the split peas. I find myself fishing through my eggs looking for the largest ones each time I’m making this, just so I get more to eat!

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Curry Lentils with an Egg

modified from The Kitchn.
See post for modifications for baking one serving at a time.
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 c red lentils
  • 1 c green split peas
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or a minced garlic clove)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs curry powder
  • 4 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 c chopped spinach or kale
  • 1/3 c chopped cilantro
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper for seasoning (optional)
Directions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium/large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, stir, and cook a few minutes until the onion is softened.
  2. Add the lentils, split peas, broth and stir. Stir in the garam masala, garlic powder, and curry powder. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 30-45 minutes. The red lentils will cook down into a mush and the split peas will be the texture of al dente pasta.
  3. Stir in the spinach/kale and cilantro.
  4. Preheat oven to 350.
  5. Grease 4 small ramekins or glass dishes and scoop lentil mixture into each. Crack and egg on the top of the lentils, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until the egg is opaque and mostly set. Let sit for a few minutes before eating to let the egg finish cooking.

P.S. I’m going to use this recipe for my submission to this week’s Gluten Free Wednesday at Gluten Free Homemaker. Thanks to Linda for organizing the event! Check out the event; there are lots of great recipes and meal ideas there!

Spanikorizo (Spinach & Rice)

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I LOVE Spanikopita! The dill and feta cheese have give it such a strong, unique flavors. It’s chock-full of spinach to make you strong and healthy. What’s not to love? Well, if you’re a celiac, the phyllo dough.

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One of the foods I was saddest about giving up after finding out I had celiac was Spanikopita. I tried making my own phyllo dough but it took so much time and was nothing like the original. It just wasn’t worth the effort.

Over the years I have come up with a few GF Spanikopita “hacks”. This one is called Spanikorizo, which means “Spinach & Rice”. It’s not my own idea by any means. Spanikoriza is another Greek dish that is very similar to Spanikopita. Instead of using phyllo dough Spanikorizo uses rice and is cooked right on the stove top. I crafted my own version to accomplish two things: first, have all of the strong, Greek, flavors I love and second, use up the ingredients I buy specifically for this meal. You won’t end up with half a bunch of dill and a cup of leftover spinach.

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Spinach and rice doesn’t sound like the most desirable, tasty meal, but trust me, this stuff is good. I probably spent a full year eating this for lunch nearly everyday. It cooks up with little effort and tastes just as good leftover. It’s a great GF choice for healthy eating, and (like all of my other favorite recipes) is full of flavor!

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Spanikorizo

Ingredients
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 10 oz frozen spinach
  • 1 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced (use both green and white ends)
  • 1 c rice (white or brown)
  • 2 c water (may need up to 4 c for brown rice)
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
Directions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is warm add the minced onion and saute until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the spinach, green onions, and dill to the skillet and mix, breaking up the spinach as it defrosts.
  3. When the spinach has mostly defrosted add the rice and water to the skillet. Cook until the rice is done (time will vary, about 20 min for white rice and about 40 min for brown rice. If needed, add more water).
  4. Stir in the crumbled feta cheese and serve hot.

Black Bean Quesadillas with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

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These tasty quesadillas are easy to transport, very filling, and totally appetizing hot or cold. They are perfect for an on-the-go snack or lunch, and a quick vegetarian dinner option, too!

This is a really busy time of year for everyone. It seems to be parties, church events, and travel keeping me busy this year. A couple years ago I was on the road for work every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is not so simple for people on a gluten free diet to stop by the drive thru for lunch in the midst of shopping for Christmas gifts or eat your fills worth at a holiday party. There is more planning required.

I love these quesadillas for busy days. Once you’ve made the black bean mixture and the sauce it takes just a couple of minutes to cook them. Since they are self contained, kind of like a tortilla sandwich, they travel so easily. You don’t need to remember to bring a fork with you, or even need to heat these up in the microwave. Sometimes I cook the whole batch of these all at one time and keep them on hand in the fridge for a really quick and easy meal to bring with me when I will be out all day. Other times, I make the bean mixture ahead of time and then cook 3 or 4 tortillas worth of quesadillas at a time.

Black Bean Quesadillas

Have I mentioned how filling these are? Something about black beans always fills me up really quickly – anyone else experience that? I find that feeling full is GREAT when I am at a party or somewhere else with tons of food that I cannot eat. It helps me not feel so bad about missing out on all of that great food!

The quesadillas are good on their own, but even more excellent with this spicy dipping sauce. As a former Taco Bell employee I am very familiar with the different sauce. The Baja sauce is my favorite, but their quesadilla sauce is a close second. When I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to try it. I made a few modifications (mainly swapping out the sour cream for greek yogurt), and ended up with a healthier version of that yummy Taco Bell Quesadilla sauce. Yum!

Next time you need to bring a meal with you give this a try! A few of these quesadillas packed up with a dollop of this spicy sauce will keep you full and satisfied!

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P.S. My eBook is now available on Kindle! You can also purchase it for $1 off the Kindle price here. Check it out for your holiday baking!

Black Bean Quesadilla with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients (makes 12 quesadillas and 1/2 c of sauce)

 

For the Spicy Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 c plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbs jalapeno, roughly chopped (more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 4 shakes cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Quesadillas

  • 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small onions, finely chopped (about 1/2 c)
  • 1/3 c cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • 1/2 c shredded mexican cheese blend
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • cooking spray
  • salt
 
  1. In a blender or food processor combine all of the sauce ingredients and mix until smooth and well combined.
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix the first eight quesadilla ingredients.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. When it is warm, spray with cooking spray and place a tortilla flat in the pan. Spray the tortillas with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt. Flip the tortillas over using a spatula. Scoop about two tablespoons of the bean mixture onto on half of the tortilla. The amount of mixture you use for each tortilla may be more or less, depending on how large your tortillas are. Using the spatula, fold the tortilla in half over top of the bean mixture and preww the top down with a spatula.
  4. Let the quesadilla cook for a minute or two, until the bottom is brown (just light the edge up a little bit with a spatula to check), then flip and let the other side brown.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the remaining tortillas.
  6. Serve with the spicy yogurt sauce.

Lemony Quinoa & Spinach (GF)

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When I need a quick and nutritious meal this is what I make. Great things about this dish:

1. It will be done in about 15 minutes, and most of that time is just letting the quinoa simmer.

2. It only takes one pot.

3. It uses feta cheese. Personally, I love feta.

4. Quinoa and spinach are both really healthy. I eat this whole recipe for lunch often and I feel totally energized (and not at all guilty). I’m all for foods you can feel good about eating.

5. Did I mention, quinoa is really healthy?! Once you learn about it and try it you’ll be sold. Just ask my husband; he didn’t know what this stuff was before we got married and now he goes around showing people at work his leftover quinoa at lunch telling them “its one of those superfoods!” He’s correct. It contains more fiber than any other grain (good for us celiacs), tons of protein, and lots of other nutrients (iron, magnesium, and others). The price tag may be a little scary, but it’s well worth it. I’d suggest buying in bulk if possible – it cuts down on the cost, and then you have more quinoa to eat!

 

So, anyway, that was my quinoa rant. Now, onto the recipe!

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Lemony Quinoa & Spinach

Ingredients (makes 1 serving as a meal, makes 2 servings as a side dish)
  • 2/3c water
  • 1/3c quinoa
  • 1c packed spinach 
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • feta cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Bring quinoa and water to boil in a small pot.
  2. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover the pot (it will be boiling pretty hard, so just watch and make sure nothing overflows until the boiling slows down). Let the quinoa cook for about 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  3. When the quinoa is done add the lemon juice and stir, just a bit.
  4. Dump the spinach on top of the quinoa and cover it again. Once the spinach is wilted, stir it in.
  5. Finally, add a few crumbles of feta cheese, though this will be tasty with or without it!
 
 

 

Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins

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I love egg muffins.

They are fairly quick and easy to make. They taste great fresh but are just as good as leftovers- hot or cold!

I also love spicy foods. The amount of buffalo sauce in this recipe is not going to set your mouth on fire (or get it even close to that), so don’t worry if you are not a spicy food lover! If you want to ramp up the spice level try coating the shredded chicken in buffalo sauce. You could also add more buffalo sauce to you egg mixture. I’d suggest decreasing the milk if you do that, though. The ratio of milk/buffalo sauce to egg keep these muffins very moist, but still able to hold their shape.

If you have them, I’d suggest using silicone muffin cups. Eggs can be so sticky, but the muffins will slide right out of the silicone. Once, I tried making eggs muffins in an old muffin tin (from before the days of nonstick bakeware) that was just sprayed with an olive oil cooking spray. It was a disaster. Lots of soaking and scrubbing, lots and lots. So, use these awesome little silicone liners if you have then, or a nonstick muffin tin.

If you’re a buffalo chicken fan, or just want an easy, on-the-go meal give these a try!

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Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4c milk
  • 1/4c buffalo sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot, but there are many varieties out there to try)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4c shredded chicken
  • 1/2c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • a few green onions, sliced
Cooking Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl.

3. Add milk, buffalo sauce, and baking soda.

4. Pour the egg mixture into muffin cups, filling each one about 3/4 of the way.

5. Drop shredded chicken, green onions, and cheese into each cup.

6. Bake for about 25 minutes. The tops of the egg muffins will start to brown just a bit and will feel spongey. Let cool for a few minutes before removing them from the muffin cups to eat.

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