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.