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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:

 

Thai Chili Tofu with Kale & Quinoa

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A clean, healthy, and nutritious dinner seasoned with a Thai-inspired sauce. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and guilt free!

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To be honest, I don’t know a lot about cooking with tofu. I only have a handful of tofu recipes, most of which my sister has sent me and (no offense, sis) have been difficult to successfully make gluten free. Back in January, when I did a Daniel Fast, I started playing around with tofu a bit more, and found this delicious recipe from VeganYumYum. It was so good, I’ve made it over and over again since then, even after the Daniel Fast was done.

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As I made this recipe over and over, I was never actually truly following the recipe. The original recipe calls for collard greens, but I had kale on hand, so I just used that. Rather than season the kale with lime juice I just sauteed it with a little garlic and crushed red pepper (my go-to kale seasoning). As for the quinoa, well, I just skipped the seasonings all together. I’m sure they would be delicious, but cardamom is just too expensive for me! I made a couple of minor changes to the tofu part of the recipe, also. I’m sure the original version is delicious (even though I’ve never actually tried it)! This version is, too!

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The invaluable lesson I learned from making Tofu dish over and over is the technique of dry-frying tofu. I was used to this soft, squishy, falling-apart tofu, and honestly, that isn’t incredibly appetizing. Now, dry-fried tofu, that is something totally different. Tofu prepared in this way has a texture very close to chicken. Because of it’s nature, it still basically functions like a little sponge that absorbs up flavor. The best of both worlds: great texture and great flavor! As I’m typing this I’m wondering “why do I not use dry fried tofu in more recipes”.

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Another benefit of tofu? It’s cheap. At least here, a pound of tofu is nearly half the price as a pound of chicken or beef.

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What makes this meal is not so much the tofu though, but the sauce. It’s so simple – just 5 ingredients you probably have in your pantry/fridge. When the sauce is mixed, and poured over the cooked tofu it soaks in a bit a forms a sort of glaze. The tofu + glaze is wonderful on it’s own, but to get the best result mix it with the kale and quinoa. It all blends perfectly, and is one of the best vegan meals I’ve ever had!

And for what it’s worth, my meat-loving spouse enjoys this dinner just as much as I do. It’s that good!

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Thai Chili Tofu with Kale & Quinoa

Serves 2 – 3 adults.
 
Ingredients
  • 2/3 c quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 1/3 c water
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu
  • 4 c kale, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Sweet Leaf Stevia blend (or use 1 Tbs sugar)
  • 1 1/4 tsp garlic powder (divided)
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (divided)
  • 3 T soy sauce (I use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos)
  • 2 T lime juice (approx. juice from 1 lime)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil or coconut oil
Directions
  1. Add the quinoa and water to saucepan. Heat to boiling, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer. (The quinoa will likely finish before the tofu and kale is done. Feel free to start the quinoa closer to the serving time if you’d like. If your quinoa finishes early, no worries. Just turn the burner off, but leave it covered, in the pan and it will stay nice and warm.)
  2. In a small prep bowl mix the stevia, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, soy sauce, and lime juice.
  3. Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces, and lay it in a single layer in a non-stick skillet.
  4. Turn the burner to medium high. As the tofu cooks, press it gently with a spatula, periodically. This releases some of the water in the tofu. Check the bottom side of the tofu, and when it is browned a bit flip all of the pieces. Repeat the same gentle pressing on this side, cooking until the bottoms have also browned. This whole procedure takes about 15 minutes give or take a few minutes.
  5. When both sides of the tofu have cooked, add the sauce into the pan and stir to coat the tofu with the sauce. Keep cooking, stirring, until the sauce has thicken and formed a glaze on the tofu, about 5 minutes.Remove the tofu from the pan.
  6. Add the oil to the same skillet, followed by the kale. Toss the kale with the oil, and cook, stirring constantly until the kale has softened and wilted some. Cook shorter for crisper kale and long for softer kale (I taste test mine to gauge when it is done). Stir in the remaining 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp of garlic powder.
  7. To serve, spread quinoa on each plate, and top with some of the kale and tofu.

Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole

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A fun, naturally GF dinner with a Mexican flare. Easily made to suit your tastes with any salsa flavor you like!

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My introduction to chilaquiles was when we were in Mexico on our honeymoon. We were at one of those all inclusive resorts so there was food everywhere. Everywhere! You could go up to a bar while in the pool and order food or drink.

Yeah, there was also alcohol everywhere. And we are not really into drinking much. Actually, we don’t drink at all. Neither of us really likes the taste of alcohol in the first place, and being celiac my options are limited. I may have a glass of wine here or there. Sounds so weird, but it’s true. Two adults who legitimately dislike alcoholic beverages.

We tried a variety of drinks in Mexico, wanting to have fun and make the most of all you can eat and drink atmosphere, but we just didn’t like anything. So, we had to make up for our lack of drinking alcohol with eating food. Some nights we had two dinners. I was getting fancy coffees a few times a day. It was great.

There was a huge room service menu, and one of the breakfast options was “chilaquiles”. I had no idea what it was. We ordered it, along with a bunch of other things (after all, it was all already paid for), and the next morning this plate that looked kind of like nachos arrived with our breakfast. The chilaquiles were good! Lots of flavors, some crunch, and a bit of spice. Honestly, I’m not sure why it is a breakfast dish, but I was a fan.

So, when a Chicken Chilaquiles Recipe and a Homemade Tortilla Chip recipe appeared within days of each other, I just had to try it all out! Savoring the last “cool” (if 80s counts as cool) days before summer hits, I turned this into a casserole to get in some final uses of my oven before it’s too hot to even think of turning on. Gotta love casseroles!

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Rather than using store bought, fried tortillas chips I made my own using this guide from the Kitchn. It was so simple. I got out a few tortillas, sprayed them with olive oil (using a misto), sprinkled with salt, cut into wedges, and baked at 350° F for 15 minutes. My chips took a little longer than the guide said. Just check yours frequently so you can take them out when the reach that perfect level of crispness, and not when they are burnt! The tortillas chips turned out great and it took a lot of willpower to not eat them all before they went into the casserole.

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I always tend to have some leftover shredded chicken around, so this was a great way to use that up. Any other meat or bean would be good in this casserole. If you’d put it on a taco or burrito, then you can throw it in this casserole! I’d honestly meant to throw in some additional diced tomatoes and then totally forgot! It was good anyway. Just have fun with this – make it to suit your tastes!

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Chicken Chilaquiles Casserole

Recipe Inspiration from The Mother Huddle and the Kitchn.
Serves 3 -4 (and the leftovers are good, too!)
 
Ingredients
  • 8 corn tortillas, made into chips (or total of 64 GF corn tortillas chips)
  • 10 oz shredded chicken (from about 2 small or 1 large chicken breast, approximate amount is fine)
  • 12 oz black beans
  • 1 c salsa
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 3 Tbs plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 c shredded cheese (I used colby jack, choose any variety you like).
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a saucepan, stir together the salsa and chicken broth.
  3. Add the chicken and black beans and bring to simmer. Add the greek yogurt and stir to combine.
  4. Prepare a baking dish (I used a 10 x 6 glass baking dish) by spraying it with cooking spray (I use misto). Put a layer of chips on the bottom of the pan, then spread half of the chicken mixture on top of it.
  5. Repeat the layers, leaving a handful of chips remaining.
  6. Top with cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  7. Serve with remaining chips, or place them on the top of the baked casserole for an extra crunch.

“Butter” Chicken

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I love Indian food and curries. It’s saucey and spicy and there are so many different flavors and varieties.

Butter Chicken 1

Honestly, though, I have zero idea of how to authentically make Indian food. I’ve looked up recipes and done research on more than one occasion. I learned that Chicken Tikka Masala was supposedly concocted in the UK, not India (according to wikipedia, anyway). Crazy, huh?! Interestingly enough, one of my favorite restaurants to order a curry dish at is actually a British pub style place. I guess that all sort of ties in.

On the cooking side of Indian food, I’m usually disappointed when I look up recipes for my favorite Indian foods. Almost all of the curries have heavy cream, half and half, or sour cream. Those are some of my “no way” ingredients. First off, I try to avoid cooking with a ton of dairy – like, cups and cups in a single recipe. Second, I just try to avoid unnecessary fat and unnecessary processed foods. Third, is heavy cream or sour cream really the authentic way to make a curry? Like I said above, I have zero idea what makes an authentic curry dish, but for whatever reason I can’t imagine that the original version has lots of heavy cream or sour cream in it. Maybe us Americans just put that in to make the heat level manageable?

So, this is my Kristin-approved “Butter” Chicken.  Butter is in quotation marks because there is actually no butter in this recipe. I used some pretty generic ingredients for the flavor: Thai Kitchen curry paste, some curry powder, and a bit of cayenne pepper for some heat. The base is tomato paste. I thinned the sauce out a bit with coconut milk and a tablespoon of greek yogurt.

Butter Chicken 2

In the end I had this warm, bubbling, spicy red sauce. Authentic Indian food? Not even close. But, it was delicious. I sprinkled it with a bit of chopped cilantro and we ate it with fresh naan bread. You can serve this with rice, too, but the naan bread totally takes this curry to another level. After we ate probably 3/4 of the recipe (luckily, Steve and I are blessed with quick metabolisms!) we were fully, happy, and, strangely, very sleepy. I hope this dish is as enjoyed in your home as it has been in mine!

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“Butter” Chicken

Serve this spicy dish with rice or homemade GF naan bread.
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs ginger, mnced
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4c + 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 12 oz coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp red curry paste
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 Tbs garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaping Tbs plain greek yogurt
Directions
  1. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot add the chicken to the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the chicken is opaque and cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil in the same skillet, reducing heat the medium. When the oil is warm add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until soft (about 3-5 minutes), stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.
  3. Add the tomato paste and coconut milk to the pan and stir to combine. If at any point the mixture is boiling or bubbling turn the heat down to low.  Next stir in the curry pasta, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. When the mixture is combined, add the greek yogurt. If you’d like a thinner sauce than what results stir in more greek yogurt.
  4. Stir the chicken back into the pan and serve with rice and/or naan bread.

The Best Gluten Free Casserole

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I’m calling this “The Best Gluten Free Casserole”, but we refer to it as “GF Casserole”. As if there is only one GF Casserole. Well, once you eat this, you may very well never need another casserole recipe in your life. It’s that amazing.

GF Casserole

There are a lot of flavors and textures – something I am not usually a fan of (I call myself a “purist” because I like to keep my food separate). There’s a pasta layer, a tomato-y ground beef layer, a smooth and creamy sour cream and onion layer, all topped with cheese. Everything melts together and somehow the mess on your plate is the best tasting casserole you’ve ever had.

This is the mess I was talking about . . .

This is the mess I was talking about . . .

If you’re anything like me you probably noticed that description sounds anything but healthy. Usually, I run from any recipe that calls for an ingredient with “cream” in the name, or at least find a way to creatively skip it or replace it. I try to avoid carb heavy meals and always include a sufficient serving of vegetables. So, yes, this casserole doesn’t fit into my usual meal requirements. It’s also not the worst meal choice I could make. I mean, there’s always ice cream for dinner. Or something fried. Its just impossible to eat perfectly all the time, though. This is definitely one of my favorite food splurges.

GF Casserole 2

In addition to its tastiness, this can be a super convenient meal. It takes a little bit of work to make it, but you can get a lot of meals out of that effort. Any leftovers you have will reheat so well in the microwave you will think its fresh out of the oven. You may want to make more than you need just so that you are sure to have leftovers! For the same effort as making one casserole you can also make a double batch and freeze the second one after it is all assembled. Yay for having a quick, delicious meal ready to just be throw in the oven on a busy day!

One more thing to mention before I give you the recipe. This is not an original recipe of mine, and I don’t know what the source is. I remember my father making this shortly after I was diagnosed with celiac and I have the recipe with our notes in one of my recipe binders. I know I’ve seen very similar casseroles in cookbooks and on Pinterest. I’m posting my version today to hopefully spread the deliciousness to even more people!

GF Casserole 4

The Best Gluten Free Casserole

 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1c sour cream
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 3/4c shredded cheddar cheese
Cooking Directions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, brown the ground beef in a large skillet.
  3. Add tomato sauce to the ground beef, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Spread pasta in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. I spray the dish with olive oil or cooking spray before putting the pasta in.  I find the dish to be too heavy if I use all of the pasta, so I cover the bottom of the baking dish with pasta and then save whatever is left for something else.
  5. Top the pasta with the meat and sauce mixture. Spread it out evenly over top of the pasta.
  6. Put the cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat it for about 20 seconds. This will make it easier to stir.
  7. Mix the sour cream and green onions with the heated cream cheese, and spread this on top of the meat mixture.
  8. Finally, sprinkle the top with cheese.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 25 – 30 minutes.

Crunchy Five Spice Chicken Tenders (GF)

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Do you like gluten free bread? 

Luckily, I’ve never been a big bread eater, even before I was diagnosed with Celiac, so I don’t often yearn for real wheat bread like many other celiacs do. I do use sandwich bread every once in a while for a tuna melt or occasional grilled cheese sandwich so I usually keep a loaf of GF sandwich bread around. I have a favorite brand (currently it’s UDI’s multigrain), but I tend to try new varieties when I have the opportunity. Sometimes, I love the new bread and other times I hate it. If you’ve been GF for very long I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience. 

This recipe utilizes one loaf I had sitting in the freezer which was particularly bad.  Have you ever had a slice crumble into bits as you tried to spread butter or mayo on it? That was what happened with this bread. Not great results for a sandwich but it was perfect for breadcrumbs! This chicken coating uses a few slices of the crumbly GF sandwich bread combined with the finer store bought breadcrumbs. The result is a really crispy outer coating on the chicken!

A hint of five spice powder gives it a unique, but not overpowering flavor. If you don’t have five spice in your pantry check the spice aisle at your local grocery store, or an Asian market. I like to serve this slightly sweet chicken with something spicy, for contrast. Pictured, are these stir fried snap peas from Kalyn’s Kitchen. We devour these; they are delicious! 

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As far as preparation goes, this recipe is fairly simple. I marinate my chicken overnight, but you could certainly do it for less time. Or, prepare the marinade, coat each piece of chicken in the marinade, then in the crispy coating mixture. Once you’ve done the breading just stick the chicken in the oven and wait for it to cook through. Your kitchen will smell great while this is cooking, too!

 

Crunchy Five Spice Chicken Tenders

 

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Ingredients (serves 2 hungry adults)

  • 2 chicken breasts cut into strips or 4-6 chicken tenderloins
  • 1/2c milk
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp five spice powder (divided)
  • 1 tbs soy sauce (I use Bragg’s Amino Acids)
  • 1c crumbled GF bread (about 3 slices)
  • 1/3c store bought GF breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray/olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. Prepare marinade by combing milk, soy sauce, and 1 tbs of the five spice powder.
  2. Combine chicken strips and marinade and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Prepare crispy coating by combining crumbled GF bread slices, store bought GF breadcrumbs, and 1 tsp five spice powder.
  4. Dip each piece of marinated chicken into the coating mixture and cover completely with breadcrumbs. Place finished pieces in a prepared (I sprayed with olive oil) glass baking dish. If you have coating left, spread it out on top of each piece of chicken.
  5. Bake at 400°F until cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.

Serve with stir fried vegetables of your choice and rice or quinoa.

 

 

Not Pad Thai Noodles

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This is not Pad Thai. I’m not sure what it is! I created this meal out of a concoction of several other recipes, mainly to satisfy my cravings for both soft and spicy foods. Each time I make it, though, my husband refers to it as Pad Thai. While this dish does have some of the same flavors as Pad Thai, a few of the important ingredients in Pad Thai are missing; peanut and bean sprouts. So, I’ve named it “NOT Pad Thai”. At least if I don’t know what it is I can tell you what it is not.

Similar to Pad Thai or other Thai noodle dishes, this recipe suits rice noodles very well. If you’ve ever cooked with rice noodles before you know that they do not behave like any normal wheat pasta. They tend to stick together immediately once they have finished cooking and are drained. The sauce and the butter are really the key ingredients to making this recipe a success. Combined, they have a smooth, slippery texture that coats all of the noodles and meat evenly and easily. No piles of rice noodles stuck to each other (I happen to love noodles stuck together, actually, especially fettuccine!) or tasteless portions of food. Another way I combat the sticky noodles is by breaking the noodles up before cooking them. This makes it much easier to stir in the sauce.

 

Now, a warning about this sauce. It is yummy, but IT’S SPICY, clear out your sinuses spicy! I’ve included the measurements I use when I make this and a toned back version. The key players in the spiciness are the crushed red pepper and sriracha, so just start with a bit of each of these if you are nervous about the heat level. You can always add more, but you can’t take spice out!

I’ve also written this recipe to include beef. Chicken works, too! Or try the noodles alone! If you want to get closer to that Pad Thai taste, try adding some chopped peanuts or serving with bean sprouts. I think you will find that whatever the heck this noodle stir fry is, you’ll get your fill of spice without sacrificing on taste.

 

Not Pad Thai Noodles

 

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Ingredients
  • 1/3lb wide rice noodles broken into pieces
  • 3/4 lb thin sliced beef in 1 inch strips 
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (1/4 tsp or less for toned down version)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbs brown sugar 
  • 3 tbs soy sauce/Bragg’s Amino Acids (2 tsp for toned down version)
  • 2.5 tbs sriracha (2 tbs for toned down version)
  • 1/4c chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 4 green onions, chopped
Cooking Directions
  1. Make the sauce by mixing brown sugar, soy sauce, and sriracha.
  2. Boil water for noodles in a medium pot. Cook noodles until al dente (check often – the noodles will get soggy easily).
  3. When the water nears boiling, heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat.
  4. When oil in skillet is hot and rippling and beef strips. Cook, stirring often, until no pink is visible.
  5. Remove beef to a plate and melt butter in the skillet the beef was in.
  6. When butter is melted, add the crushed red pepper.
  7. Add the eggs into the pan and scramble them. A few stirs is all it will take.
  8. When everything is done – eggs, beef, and noodles – combine it all in the skillet with the eggs. Add the sauce and stir to coat. This may take a few minutes.
  9. Top with cilantro and green onions.
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