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Tomato & Asparagus Risotto

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Here’s a risotto recipe that is healthy, not indulgent. It’s creamy and smooth, like any risotto should be, but there’s no cheese or dairy in sight. This makes a great lunch or side dish. It’s naturally vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free. Perfect use for that spring, framer’s market asparagus!

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Back in college, I had a great tomato risotto recipe. I can remember preparing it on my parents range, along with some chicken. It was just as yummy as the cheese-laden risottos I often made at that time, but so much healthier. I’ve searched far and wide for that recipe and have yet to find it. I finally decided it was time to stop the search and use my cooking skills to come up with my own tomato risotto recipe.

Tomato-Risotto-With-Asparagus-Gluten-Free

I’ve tested this recipe a few times, with a few different ingredient variations, and it seems to be foolproof. Add some broth and a tomato-y liquid. Stir. Keep stirring. Add more liquid. It’s simple. For the broth, I’ve used stock from a carton as well as Better Than Buillion + water, with identical results. Homemade stock would be great here, too!

To get the tomato flavor you can use a plain tomato sauce or a pasta sauce. The pasta sauce had tons of flavor from the herbs and spices, but that trade off was a more processed meal with higher calories. When I used plain old tomato sauce I added a bit of Italian seasoning (I used Penzey’s Frozen Pizza Seasoning that I just got a few weeks ago), just for fun.

Tomato-Risotto-with-Asparagus-Close

Serve with asparagus on top like I did or stir the asparagus spears into the risotto. The crisp asparagus with the smooth risotto do go wonderfully together. Pair with a clean eating protein of choice and you’ll have a well rounded, clean, healthy, meal!

Tomato-Risotto-Tall-Gluten-Free

Tomato & Asparagus Risotto

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 2 c chicken or vegetable stock (read label to verify that it is gluten free)
  • 20 oz tomato sauce or spaghetti/pizza sauce (read label to verify that it is gluten free)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 shallots (may replace with an onion)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, cut into spears
Directions
  1. Finely mince the garlic and shallots.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium to large sized skillet, over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the garlic and shallots. Cook for about 5, stirring frequently, until both garlic and shallots have softened some.
  3. Add the rice to the skillet, and stir very frequently. Watch for the edges of the rice to turn translucent.
  4. When the majority of the rice has turned translucent on the edges, add about half a cup of the stock. Keep stirring. It will likely absorb into the rice very quickly. When most of the rice is absorbed, stir in another half cup of stock. Keep stirring frequently (if not constantly) while the rice absorbs the stock.
  5. For the rest of the cooking time, alternate between adding tomato sauce and stock each time the liquid the liquid has absorbed, stirring very frequently. The liquid will most likely be absorbing slower than it was at the beginning, but keep adding it!
  6. When you’re on the final liquid addition, it’s time to cook the asparagus. Lay it in a small skillet in a single layer, and fill the skillet with water, just enough to cover the asparagus. Heat to boil, and then reduce to medium heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the asparagus is soft, but still has a bit of a crunch. Test firmness using a fork.
  7. Drain the asparagus in a strainer. Either stir it into the finished risotto or just lay it on top.

Spicy Tomato Chicken Noodle Soup

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Over the past couple of weeks us folks in the south have been hit with a couple of very rare snowstorms. As a former northerner I’m not phased, and it’s actually exciting to see the snow again. Snow is uncommon here so there are no snow plows or salt trucks. Schools are closed and everyone gets sent home from work. It gets so hot and humid here in the summer, so I’m trying to live up this cold weather while I have the opportunity. I’m doing lots of awesome, and less awesome stuff, like drinking hot chocolate, eating lots of soup, and wearing fleece. Hence the chicken noodle soup. In a month or two it will be so hot I won’t be able to bear the idea of heating the house anymore and do all of my cooking on the grill. I’ve gotta eat soup now while I can!

Spicy Tomato Chicken Noodle Soup

When my sister, Lauren, found this recipe a long time ago it was just a regular chicken soup with some tomato soup added at the end. Lauren and I have a history of making everything spicy, and that’s exactly what we did with this recipe. We had a few go-to spice blends that we added to everything. One of us would stir and the other would shake in various amounts of these spices. Then we would taste, evaluate the flavor, and adjust accordingly. I love cooking this way, but it’s not exactly conducive to writing out a recipe. I finally took some time to measure out the spices that I use.

Spicy Tomato Chicken Noodle Soup 2

This recipe was an easy favorite to modify for a gluten free diet once I was diagnosed with celiac. Rather than using regular pasta, I subbed in GF pasta or even rice. To make this a portionally gluten free recipe separate the finished soup into two saucepans. Add GF noodles to one pan and wheat noodles into the other. Just be sure to boil the pasta in two separate pots and use two sets of utensils for preparing both pasta varieties!

This is not your ordinary chicken noodle soup. It has a good amount of tomato flavor and good kick of spice. This will warm you up inside and out. The chicken is cooked in broth and seasoning to amp up the flavor. Don’t let the large ingredients list and long set of directions scare you off. Over the course of the hour and a half it takes to prepare this soup you’ll only be actively involved for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Spicy Tomato Chicken Noodle Soup 3

P.S. If you’re curious about that foccacia bread in the photos check back on Monday for the recipe!

Spicy Tomato Chicken Noodle Soup

See post above for directions on how to make this meal portionally gluten free. If you’re not a fan of spicy soups leave out the crushed red pepper flakes and the cayenne pepper.
 
Ingredients
  • 6c water
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs parsley flakes
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp chicken bouillon ( I use Better than Bouillon)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 c plain tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs mexican seasoning (I have a McCormick Mexican seasoning, but any mexicany flavored seasoning will do)
  • 2 shakes cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 c cooked GF pasta or rice (see post above for PGF directions)
Directions
  1. Put the water in a large saucepan and add the garlic and onion powder, parsley flakes and bouillon. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the spices. cut each of the chicken breasts in half, add the the pot, and let simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Towards the end of the 1 hour of simmering, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.
  3. Once the chicken has simmered for an hour remove it from the pan and shred or chop into bite sized pieces.
  4. Add the chicken into the pan, as well as the cooked onion/garlic. Add the tomato sauce, chili powder, red pepper flakes, Mexican seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Stir well.
  5. Add the cooked pasta or rice into the pot and let simmer for couple of minutes before serving.

Healthier than the Box Cheeseburger Macaroni (GF)

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Christmas season is in full swing now and I feel like I should be posting a cookie recipe, not a dinner. I’m sure I will be doing plenty of cookie baking and sharing in the coming weeks (including my eBook with cookie recipes), but, in this hectic and busy time of year we need to eat more than cookies! This skillet dinner is warm, comforting, and ready in under in 30 minutes.

Hamburger Helper was the first meal I ever cooked on my own. My Mom has always loved the stroganoff variety so that was a frequent and favorite dinner in our household. Since it was a fairly simple dinner I would often be the one responsible for mixing up the sauce or making the ground beef, and eventually making the entire meal. I suppose all cooks have to to start somewhere!

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Although Hamburger Helper was a totally viable dinner option in my childhood it is not now! When I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in my 20s it immediately became a forbidden food. Still, sometimes I crave it, even though I know it is both full of gluten and not exactly healthy.

Enter this recipe. It is delicious. It will take you the same amount of time to cook as the boxed variety. The ingredient list is short and includes more whole foods and less processed foods. Adults and kids will love it. And best of all, you don’t have to feel a bit guilty about eating this or serving it to your family!

Healthier than the Box GF Cheeseburger Macaroni

 
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb elbow shaped GF brown rice pasta
  • 2 c water
  • 1 1/4 c tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 c shredded cheddar cheese (this makes it very cheesy, feel free to use less)
Directions
  1. Add the chopped onion and ground turkey to a large skillet. Cook over medium high heat until the turkey is browned, breaking it into small bits as it cooks.
  2. Stir in the water, tomato sauce, mustard powder, onion powder, and garlic powder. When combined, stir in the pasta and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and simmer (reduce heat to a medium/low) for 15 minutes, or until pasta is done.
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese.  Serve with steamed vegetables or a salad.
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