Sunday, March 27, 2011

homemade chicken tenders

So tonight was my first attempt at gluten free "breading" -- chicken tenders. We went to Buffalo Wild Wings (really boring and expensive if you can't eat gluten) so I had a craving for real chicken tenders, not the lame ones they served me without anything on them.
So while I am not ready to call these a complete success just yet, they are certainly something I am going to make again and again, with different variations. It takes a few steps, but almost none of the steps take that much time.

slightly frozen chicken breast (defrosted maybe 75%)
a little milk (optional)
an egg
a little oil, no more than 1 T (olive, vegetable, canola, whatever)
some kind of flour (obviously, if you want gluten free, use a gf flour. I used rice.)
Almond meal (or crushed corn chips or potato chips or bread crumbs or panko)
salt, pepper
other seasonings as desired

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Grease or line a cookie sheet. (Really, do this now.)
2. Cut the mostly thawed chicken into nugget or tender sized pieces. I say smaller is easier, since you can be more precise with them, but it's up to you. The key is to make the pieces fairly thin.
3. Put milk, flour and breading into 3 separate bowls. Beat the egg with a little oil in a 4th bowl. Add salt, pepper, seasonings to the breading.
4. Now to bread: each piece of chicken goes through 4 steps

  • dip in milk (optional but I prefer it)
  • dredge in flour, coating the whole piece
  • dredge in the egg mixture, again coating the whole thing
  • roll in breading/almond meal until completely covered. 
Then put each breaded piece onto your cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, then flip and bake 5 more. Less time if your pieces are very small (maybe 1x1 inch?). 

Dip in your favorite sauce! noms. 

Fun twists: 
add some parmesan cheese to the breading
add some chipotle seasoning to the breading
make a homemade dipping sauce
use these in a chicken parm recipe or a chicken sandwich

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Box wine!

Ok, you're probably gagging a little as you remember that one time you had too much (any?) Franzia.
Well, box wine is starting to mature!
Far be it from me to tell you what to drink, but I don't drink Franzia. I've discovered that my local wine shop (yeah, Wine Source!) has a pretty decent selection of wine in boxes and tetrapaks like Yellow + Blue wine. Why not stick with the tried-and-true bottle, you may ask?
The environment is one big reason. We've known for a while that boxes are a lot lighter, and therefore greener (and cheaper!) to transport. So that's good. Slate talks about it here, NYT here
Another good reason: cheaper. Because it costs a lot less to transport, you can often get a quite solid box of wine, equivalent to 3 or 4 bottles, for the price of one or two bottles of the same quality.
And my reason for choosing boxed wine is that, since it's usually just me drinking, and when I want a glass with dinner, I don't mean a bottle, I can have just a glass and not have to worry about finishing the bottle the next night or tossing out the rest. Box wine stays fresh inside its box for about a month, so you can drink solo for longer. :-) At the moment, I'm drinking Maipe Malbec and I also endorse Le Petit Frog if you can find it.

The downsides of course, are still there.
While the wine in the box is pretty good, it's not going to be a five-star knock your socks off wine. It's good, I serve it to friends, but it's not exactly for the extra discerning oenophile.
The other is that you end up drinking a lot of the same wine. Which is fine for me, since I've had good luck picking them, but if you bore easily, then, maybe stick to the tetrapaks!

Plus, all wine is naturally gluten free! :-) 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Eating Sushi, Gluten Free

I am something of a newcomer to this Gluten Free thing, but I've already picked up a few tips that might be worth sharing.

My boyfriend and I went out to a sushi buffet last night, where I only had one or two possible trips (instead of the dozens at most places).
I brought my own soy-sauce, which is gluten free, and we ordered a ton of sushi. I felt a tiny bit silly to be carrying a bottle of soy sauce in my purse, but it worked. You can also buy little packets of gf soy sauce!
It broke my heart not to be able to eat any tempura, but then again, it's probably better for my health anyway that I can't. The things to look out for are mostly soy sauce brewed with wheat, and imitation crab which sometimes uses glutenous products to hold it together. (I also got barley tea when I ordered green, but I think that's not a common problem.) And tempura, obviously; panko is made from wheat flour.
Authentic sake is gluten free, but apparently some of the very cheap kinds have additives that may contain gluten. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

asian peanut noodles

There are so many versions of this dish already out there. But sometimes this is what you crave, so this is what I made for dinner tonight.
Easy to make gluten-free-- use rice noodles and gf soy sauce.

noodles (rice noodles or spaghetti, prepared)
1 small onion, sliced into thin slivers
1 carrot, chopped thin
1 crown broccoli, or a big handful of frozen florets
snap peas or whatever other veggies you feel like adding

1/4 c soy sauce
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
finely chopped or minced fresh ginger if you have it handy
1T sugar or brown sugar (less if your peanut butter is very sweet)
3 T sesame oil
2 T rice vinegar or rice wine
1/3 cup of creamy peanut butter
chili oil or hot sauce to taste

1. Mix together all sauce ingredients, adding peanut butter last. Once the mixture is smooth, taste it. A lot of the flavor depends on a few things: how salty is your pb? how salty is your soy sauce? how sweet is your peanut butter? If it doesn't taste salty enough, add soy sauce. Sweet enough? Try chili oil or sugar. Too sweet? More vinegar.
2. Heat some oil (I use peanut) in a wok or big skillet, and wait until it's nice and hot but not smoking. Add the onions, and stir fry until translucent. Add carrots, stir fry for a minute or two. Add other veggies, and stir fry until they look good.
3. Check to make sure the pan still has a little oil in it. (If not, the noodles will burn to the bottom, and it's a pain to clean up!) Add your drained, rinsed noodles, and stir fry those too for a minute.
4. Dump in the sauce, and toss until everything is coated and hot.
5. Serve!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

sophisticated pinwheels

You may know of pinwheels; perhaps you ate them at a party or reception.

Well, I've got a sophisticated version. I can't afford to make them for a party, but they make a great on-the-go lunch! And best of all, they're gluten free (if you use corn tortillas).

Corn tortillas
thin sliced salami or prosciutto
chevre or other desired spreadable cheese

If you're eating right away, briefly heat the tortillas. (I did 15s in the microwave). Spread the chevre on the tortilla. Layer with salami, then top with arugula. Roll up, and eat. You can slice them if you want, but mine didn't last that long. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tomato cream sauce

This is a yummy recipe! Pour it over pasta (regular, whole wheat, or gluten free!) or polenta for a delicious dinner.

1 small yellow onion, diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
1/2 cup white wine, vermouth or broth
1 can of tomato sauce (the cheap store brand is fine; not looking for a jarred pasta sauce)
salt, pepper
1 T crushed red pepper flakes
oregano and sage to taste (or 1-2 t of each)
Broccoli crowns, if desired
1/2 cup of heavy cream

1. Saute the diced onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add red pepper, herbs, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
2. Add the chopped garlic, letting it cook but be careful it doesn't burn!
3. Add the wine or broth. Let the liquid absorb into the onions and cook down. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
4. When the liquid is mostly gone, add the can of tomato sauce. Bring it to a simmer, then turn it down and cover it until the pasta is just about done. If adding broccoli, add it now.
5. Stir in the cream. Let it heat until the sauce is a uniform color and warm throughout, about 90s.
Serve over pasta or polenta, with chicken or a salad or whatever else your heart desires.

This sauce is creamy, tangy, a little spicy and a touch sweet but very well balanced. And totally delicious. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

What is Gluten?

No, not a jeopardy answer.

At the moment, I am on a gluten-free diet. So I may be posting some recipes that are gluten free (gf). But first, that good question: what is gluten?

Simply put, it is the common name for a specific set of proteins found in cereals and grains. You probably eat it several times a day, as it is very common in most food. The gluten people talk about when they talk about being "gluten free" or "gluten intolerant" or "gluten sensitive" comes from wheat, barley or rye. If you can't eat gluten, it means you can't eat bread, pasta, pastries, etc, but it also means you can't eat a many cereals or prepared food, where gluten sneaks into the otherwise gluten-free food in the way of preservatives, additives or thickeners.

You may have heard of celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where the body, triggered by gluten, attacks itself. Other people may not be diagnosed with celiac, or have tested negative for it, but are still quite sensitive to gluten in their diet. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Black Eyed Pea Soup

Yum. I love black eyed peas, and they're such a great food. I love that they don't have the same taste as beans but they do have the same texture. Plus, they're supposed to be lucky! So yesterday I made some soup, and it turned out really well, so I thought I'd share the recipe.

1 pound of black eyed peas, checked for stones and soaked overnight
1/2 pound of sausage or 4 strips of bacon or 1/2 pound of chicken thighs
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
several sticks of celery, split in half, washed and chopped
2-4 cloves of garlic, depending on how garlicy you like it
1 can of tomatoes (I like diced)
chicken stock or broth
2 bay leaves
oregano, sage, red pepper flakes, thyme to taste

If not using meat, saute the onions, garlic, celery and spices in olive oil until the onions are just turning clear.
If you are using meat, brown the sausage or cook the bacon or chicken. For sausage, add the veggies when the sausage is about half done. For bacon, cook the bacon, remove it, and use some of the fat to cook the veggies. For chicken, cook the veggies in some olive oil to start.

Add the tomatoes, juice and all. Use the tomato juices to help loosen whatever stuck to the bottom of the pot. (That is good tasty stuff down there, I promise). After a minute or too, add the broth (enough to cover everything well) and bay leaves and peas (and chicken if you're doing it that way). Throw in a sprinkle of salt if the broth isn't salted already.

Bring everything to a nice high simmer. Cover, stirring occasionally until the beans are tender (about an hour-- but anywhere from 45 minutes to 1:30).

To serve, add some grated cheese or sour cream to your bowl. Serve with bread and salad, or toss in some pasta (shells would be great) about 8 minutes before serving, and bring it to a boil.

A perfect fall/winter soup. The leftovers keep really well and freeze too if you didn't add pasta.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

bean soup!

I adore bean soup. Black bean soup, split pea, lentil soup, minestrone, anything. (Yes those are all in the bean family.) Noms. And as the weather is getting colder, and I've been suffering under a cold, I decided it was good weather to pull out the soup pot.
But, like I said, I've been sick, so I haven't gone grocery shopping. So I used what I had in the house and made a damn tasty soup.

Suggested Ingredients (but feel free to substitute):
  • one bag (1lb) of 16 beans (don't use the flavor pack if it comes with one. gross.) 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • carrots, chopped
  • celery, chopped
  • one can of diced tomatoes 
  • bay leaves
  • spices-- thyme, oregano, etc
  • broth or stock of whatever variety, or bouillon, etc
  • if you want, a chicken breast or some cooked Italian sausage
1. Either soak the beans overnight, or boil them and soak in the hot water for an hour (per package directions). Drain, rinse, and put in the soup pot.
2. Toss in everything. If using stock, you can dilute it with water. Add more than enough to cover everything.  The chicken can go in raw, it'll boil.
3. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a high simmer. Partially cover, and let cook for at least 2 hours.
4. If you used chicken, pull it out and shred it with two forks. If you want, you can also throw in some small pasta, like shells, and boil for a few more minutes until tender.
Add some olive oil for flavor, and grate cheese over to serve. Yummm.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In season: Beans

Green beans, to be exact. I bought a huge number of them at the farmer's market this weekend. So I blanched most of them so I can freeze them, and the rest get added to this pasta dish.

1. Boil some water for pasta. I used 1/2 a package of whole wheat spaghetti.
2. Trim green beans, dice a small tomato and cut a half a red pepper into slices, then halve those. (Can be substituted to something else handy, but preferably sweet.)
3. Cook the pasta.
4. Sautee the beans with olive oil and garlic until almost soft, about 3 or 4 minutes. Next add the pepper, and give it a minute to soften up. Deglaze the pan with a little wine (and I do mean a little-- a tablespoon or two!) before adding the tomatoes and letting it reduce even further.
5. Drain the pasta. Add a little butter or olive oil if you're feeling indulgent. Toss the pasta with the veggies, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese or fresh grated parmesean.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Twice Fried Tofu

Confucious says:
Anything good fried once is even better fried twice. 
Oh. That wasn't Confucius? It was something of a motto at the Big E? Huh...

Ok, so maybe this dish is better called "Stir-fried Fried Tofu".

1. Cut thin strips from a half a block of tofu. I prefer firm or extra firm for frying. Dry them with paper towels before liberally coating all sides in flour.
2. Heat some oil, preferably peanut, in a wok. When it gets nice and hot, fry those tofu strips until they are a lovely golden brown. You have to do it in batches, but that means you can use a lot less oil.
3. Choose veggies for your stir fry, and cut to appropriate size.
4. Clean the wok, when it has cooled slightly, so that the blacked flour goop on the bottom doesn't cloud your dinner. Add more oil and heat it back up.
5. While it heats, make the sauce. In a small bowl combine:
  • 1 part chili oil (to taste)
  • 1 part sesame oil
  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part rice vinager
  • 1 part sherry or Chinese cooking wine
  • 4-8 parts soy sauce
6. Stir fry garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds. Add onion, cook until translucent. Add other vegetables. Finally, add tofu, then immediately, the sauce. If you want it thicker, add some corn starch or flour dissolved in a little water.  Serve hot, over rice. Eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some thoughts for a meatless Monday

So, Monday for me is meatless Monday. When going out to eat, this can limit your options, but when you pack your own lunch, life is limitless!

I made two delicious dishes that are quite good for a meatless meal, either lunch or dinner. Both made enough for one of each for me. These will be in the following posts.

But for now, I wanted to share with you a discovery I just made, but which you may have made long ago...

Pita pocket sandwiches.

Ok, well there was always the gyro, but who among us has a gyro spit and plenty of ground lamb at home? So I started with lunch meat, but not good for Mondays.
So I stuffed mine with hummus (roasted garlic, yum), arugula and red peppers. Any kind of yummy green would be good, and any raw veggies cut into approximately bite sized bits. Also baba ganou or cheesy spreads would be awesome too.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meatless Mondays

There's a good piece on NPR today about Meatless Mondays here. Unless you're already stricter than that, I think it's a great idea. Whether you're concerned about your health, the environment, your budget, or your waistline, eating a bit less meat is bound to help.

I find that the trick is to make meals where you just don't miss the meat. For example, make a big salad, or breakfast for dinner (minus the bacon, if you can bear it). Vegetable curry, or pasta primavera, or pad thai with tofu make great Monday night dinners.

Tonight, I made rice and beans to celebrate finding fresh tortillas (and with them, the location of the mysterious missing Baltimore Mexicans!) and peach salsa to celebrate the bounty of peaches right now. Add a little sour cream and some cheese, and boy, what a delicious meal!

Either cook some dried beans according to package directions, or rinse a can of black beans. Heat up a skillet with a little bit of oil, and add the cooked, drained, rinsed beans. As they heat, start mashing them up and slowly stirring. You can add a little oil or broth or water to thin them if they're thicker than you like. I like to top mine with some sour cream and cheese, but that's being decadent. :-)

In a pan, heat a little oil. Toast 1 cup of long grain white rice for a few minutes in the oil. Then add some stock (I used chicken, I know it's meatless Monday but I didn't have veggie on hand!) or water. Add onions, diced jalepenos if you like, and some of this glorious amazingness (which is sadly not gluten free):

Then simmer for about 20 minutes. Toss in tomatoes a few minutes from the end if you like. I also added some frozen corn.

Peach Salsa:
From "Real Food Has Curves".

There are no tomatoes here, just sweet peaches. Tomatoes are firmer and almost meatier; by contrast, peaches offer a luxurious richness. That said, if you can’t find a good peach, go for plums, apricots, or nectarines. Try this easy salsa on top of a baked potato with a dollop of sour cream or alongside some rotisseried chicken picked up at the market. Keep connecting the taste of those peaches to pleasure in your brain.
1½ pounds ripe medium peaches, pitted and diced (about 4 or 5 peaches)
Up to 1 medium fresh jalapeƑo chile, seeded and minced
½ cup red bell pepper, seeded and diced (see Note)
½ cup red onion, diced
3 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves, 2½ tablespoons stemmed thyme leaves, or 2 tablespoons minced mint leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
Stir everything together in a serving bowl. If you want to make the salsa ahead of time, omit the salt and store the mixture, covered, in the fridge for up to 2 days. Salt will leach liquid from the mixture, turning it watery during storage—so stir in the salt at the last minute.
Note: To seed and core a bell pepper, stand it up on your cutting board with the stem end facing up. Holding the stem, use a large knife to slice one side off the pepper, leaving the seeds attached to the core. Continue making more slices around the pepper, always leaving the seeds and core intact. Once all the wedges have been removed around the pepper, slice off any white membranes on their insides, discard the core, and prepare the pepper as directed in the recipe.


Available on the Internet here! Thanks, Amazon. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A CSA Dinner

I was pretty proud of myself here... I baked the breadsticks, and made the pasta... just about everything is fresh, local and/or organic.

Anyway the caprese salad is what I wanted to share here-- the pasta was good, but not great.

Heirloom tomato (1 tomato per 2 or 3 people). Be careful with them, they have really fragile skins and break really easily.
Fresh mozzarella
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Wash the basil and the spinach. Mix them together in roughly equal amounts, and lay out a bed of greens on a salad plate.
2. Cut the tomato into slices through the middle, removing the tough core if it is in any of the slices. Lay the slices in the center of the bed of greens, one or two slices per person. Lightly salt the tomato slices.
3. Slice the cheese, and add that to the plate.
4. Grind black pepper lightly over everything.
5. In a separate bowl, mix equal parts olive oil and balsamic. Whisk together completely just before serving. Drizzle over the plate at the table, and enjoy.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CSA Veggies: Chard

So, as I blogged about before, I joined a CSA this summer. Today was my first produce pick up! It was very exciting. And since my CSA partner is out of the country at the moment, I have more food than I know what to do with right now...
Anyway, I of course had to cook with something new tonight: Chard.  I don't believe I'd ever had occasion to try chard, so it was all new. Plus we were in a hurry to make a late dinner tonight, so I referenced this Martha Stewart recipe and made my own version.

Pasta, a good swirly kind seems good
Protein (optional), diced. Sweet Italian sausage was awesome, but spicy sausage or chicken (etc) would be good too...
olive oil
onion, 1/4 to 1/2, chopped
garlic, 1 or 2 cloves, chopped
tomato, diced, 1 or 2
Chard, stems removed and chopped into smallish pieces
cheese (I had fresh mozerella on hand so I used it!)

1. Cook the pasta. (When you drain it, keep some of the pasta water)
2. Cook the sausage/protein. When partially done, toss in olive oil, onion, garlic, and any spices you want to add.
3. When the sausage is mostly done, add the chopped chard. If it looks dry, toss in a bit of the pasta water or more olive oil. Add the tomato at some point, according to how cooked you like tomatos. (Note: this would also work with a can of diced tomatos for the winter-- but add them earlier so they heat up and meld with the other flavors.)
4. Toss with pasta. Add cheese. Serve with salad, bread, whatever.