Roasted Cauliflower

June 1, 2016

Roasted cauliflower is my latest vegetable obsession. I can’t get enough of it roasted with herbs, onions, and garlic. So delicious! I love that it is healthy, but also hearty. It is substantial enough to almost be a meal by itself!
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Roasted Cauliflower with Onions and Garlic
adapted from this recipe, makes 3-4 servings as a side dish

-1 head cauliflower
-1 medium onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices
-1-2 tsp thyme or Italian seasoning (I just throw in a little of both)
-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-salt & pepper to taste
-fresh Parmesan cheese, optional

1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Wash and remove leaves from cauliflower. Place cauliflower head on a cutting board and slice top-down into 1/3 inch slices. Break up cauliflower slices into florets and place into large bowl.
3. Add sliced onions, whole garlic cloves, herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper to bowl with cauliflower. Mix well.
4. Spread cauliflower mixture into a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
5. Roast in 425 degree oven, tossing occasionally, until cauliflower is tender and browned at the edges, or about 30 minutes.
6. If desired, sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top and return to oven for another 5 minutes to melt.


Green Smoothies

May 30, 2016

Recently, I’ve been trying to eat more Paleo (basically eat more veggies and less carbs). That wasn’t difficult to incorporate into my lunch and dinner plans, but breakfast really stumped me. My usual breakfast was cereal (usually Honey Nut Cheerios) with almond milk or oatmeal. Both are a very carb/sugar rich way to start my day that I wasn’t super happy with. My diet is further limited that I can’t eat wheat, eggs, or much dairy (I’m gluten-intolerant and eggs and dairy also agitate my digestive system). I tried a few other Paleo breakfasts – including a potato/sweet potato/onion/bacon hash and pumpkin/banana pancakes. Both were great, but time consuming to make — so not sustainable for regular workday breakfasts.

At the perfect timing for my life, one of the blogs I read posted about incorporating green smoothies into her diet. I’d obviously heard of green smoothies before, but I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before to try them for my breakfasts. My sister Kelsey makes a similar smoothie for her breakfast occasionally. But it started the wheels in motion and I’ve been green smoothie-ing for breakfast for a couple weeks now and LOVING it!

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Part of the reason I hadn’t tried this sooner is that we didn’t have a blender (Drew broke ours trying to blend a spoon in it while making daiquiris for a party he threw a few years ago when I was out of town, lol!). I tried to blend my first smoothie in our food processor and that turned out terribly! I did a little research on small blenders perfect for smoothies and narrowed it down to these two: NutriBullet ($79.99) & Bella Rocket Blender ($24.99). The NutriBullet is a little more expensive and probably better for the long run, but since I wasn’t even sure I was going to like smoothies, I went with the cheaper, but still well-reviewed Bella Rocket Blender. So far, I’m perfectly happy with my choice! At just under $25, it has been working great (and I’ve been using it daily for the last few weeks). It is super easy to clean, comes with multiple cups, and even includes an extra grinding blade for grinding small seeds and such. I like that it is small enough to leave out for daily use and the design is simple and looks nice.

P.S. Feel free to use your regular blender if you have one! No need to buy a specific smoothie blender for this! I will say though, that the super easy to clean design of this is what has made me actually stick to it. If I had to take a blender apart every day to clean it, I wouldn’t do it (Drew washes the dishes in this house!).

There are a million ways that you can make green smoothies, but this is the recipe that I’ve found perfect for my daily use:

Banana Spinach Green Smoothie
makes one single-serving smoothie

Ingredients: (all rough measurements – feel free to modify as you wish!)
-1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves (probably more, I use a generous cupful)
-1 cup unsweetened almond milk
-1/2 tsp honey (if your bananas are super ripe, you can omit honey)
-1 tsp ground flax, chia, and hemp seeds (I pre-grind these myself and keep on hand to use throughout the week)
-1 Tbsp almond butter
-1 banana (fresh or frozen)
-3 strawberries (sometimes I leave these out if I don’t have on hand)

Other ingredient ideas:
-raspberries, blueberries, peaches, pineapple, pear, apples (fresh or frozen)
-coconut milk
-nuts or other nut butters
-cocoa powder

1. Place spinach, almond milk, honey, and ground seeds into blender cup and blend until well blended. (I’ve read that mixing the spinach and liquid together first before adding other fruits helps to get a smoother blend and avoid small bits of spinach in your smoothie).
2. Add banana, almond butter, and other fruit or mix-ins as desired. Blend until well blended.
3. Enjoy!

Using frozen bananas or other fruit will make the smoothie thicker and colder. Using fresh bananas will make it thinner. I like both, but might almost prefer the thinner, easier to drink, result of using fresh bananas.

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I honestly can’t believe what a difference this has made so far in my routine. It is still quick and easy to make and drink (the small smoothie blender makes it so quick and easy!). It doesn’t take any longer than making and eating a bowl of cereal! But I feel SO MUCH BETTER! I’ve noticed that I have so much more energy lately and this is just such a refreshing way to start my day. I like feeling like I’m being better and healthier to my body. I’ve even started to crave and look forward to my morning smoothie — so much so that I’ve even had another for an afternoon snack some days! I’ve been drinking a bag of spinach a week!

This is my own take on a dish my family would always have at holiday meals. It seems like most families (in the Midwest especially) have their own take on this dish – called Texas Potatoes, Funeral Potatoes, or as I like it simply put, Cheesy Potato Casserole. It had been years since I’d had it, mostly because I can’t have cream of chicken soup (its not gluten-free!). I think condensed soups are an odd ingredient in food anyway, and I would prefer to avoid them, gluten-free or not. So here is my more whole foods version of this family staple. Drew and I don’t make it often, but it is the perfect thing to bring to potluck family or work meals when you need something cheap, easy, transportable, and that stays warm or reheats easily.

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Cheesy Potato Casserole
makes one 9x13in casserole

-2 lbs (32 oz) Southern style frozen hash browns/diced potatoes, thawed
-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-2 cups sour cream
-1/2 cup water mixed with 2 tsp chicken broth base/bullion
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp onion powder
-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
-2 cups cornflakes (make sure they are gluten-free if making gf)
-1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) salted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together potatoes, cheese, sour cream, water/broth base, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning in large bowl.
3. Spread mixture into a 9×13 inch glass baking dish.
4. Sprinkle cornflakes on top.
5. Cut 1/2 stick butter into slices and spread slices out across the top of casserole.
6. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.


Beef Barbacoa

May 28, 2016

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Beef Barbacoa

-3.5 lb beef roast (de-fatted, if fatty)
-1 med/large onion, chopped
-3 Tbsp butter
-2 cups beef broth
-1 cup water
-salt & pepper to season roast

For seasoning paste:
-6-8 cloves garlic, finely minced
-2 chipotle peppers (sliced open, de-seeded, and finely chopped)
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp ground black pepper
-1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1 tsp chili powder
-1 Tbsp cumin
-2 Tbsp Adobo sauce (from chipotle peppers)
-1 Tbsp tomato paste
-3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Optional ingredients for serving:
-sour cream
-lime juice
-hot sauce
-black beans
-Mexican rice
-white corn tortillas

1. In a small bowl, mix minced garlic, de-seeded and chopped chipotle peppers, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, adobo sauce, tomato paste, and lime juice to form a seasoning paste.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. In dutch oven, melt butter. Lightly salt and pepper both sides of beef roast. Sear the roast on both sides in melted butter until browned.
4. Add chopped onion to the sides of beef roast in dutch oven and lightly saute.
5. Rub seasoning paste over all sides of roast.
6. Add water and beef broth to pan, pouring beside meat, leaving seasoning paste intact on top.
7. Put lid on dutch oven, and cook in 350 degree oven for around 4 hours, or until tender.
8. Shred with a fork (I usually shred it around 3 1/2 hours in and let cook for another 30 min after) and serve!


P.S. You can also make this in a crock pot, cooking on low for 8-1o hours. 

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Blueberry Lemon Walnut Muffins

February 21, 2016

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Homemade muffins were a weekend breakfast staple in my house growing up. We would go pick our own fresh blueberries practically just to have for muffins. My mom would freeze them in big bags so we would have them for muffin making year round. We also made banana muffins, peach muffins, and strawberry muffins, but blueberry (with lemon and walnuts!) will always be my fave. Last summer, I went blueberry picking with some friends on the North shore, just outside New Orleans. I have a large bag of those blueberries in my freezer just for muffin making! The recipe we used growing up is great, but after going gluten-free, I found I didn’t like the way the muffins in that recipe came out as much. I also like this GF Blueberry Lemon Ricotta muffin recipe, but when I came across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen I knew it was bound to be great. I tweaked it a little to make it gluten-free, more lemon-y, and to add walnuts, and I’m in love with the result! The first time I made these was over Mardi Gras when Drew’s mom was in town and Susie and I had eaten them all within 24 hours. They must be good, because when I made the next batch, even Drew (who says he doesn’t like blueberry muffins) ate TWO!

Blueberry Lemon Walnut Muffins
makes 12 muffins, adapted from this recipe

-6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (OR 6 Tbsp salted butter & decrease salt to 1/8 tsp)
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-3/4 cup sour cream
-zest of one lemon or orange (at least 1 tsp)
-1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (I just squeeze some in)
-1 1/2 cups flour (I use GF all purpose mix)
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt (OR 1/8 tsp if using salted butter)
-1 cup blueberries (use fresh, or ones you’ve frozen from fresh, don’t buy frozen)
-1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin tin.
2. In electric stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, beat, then beat in sour cream, zest, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Mixture should be creamy and slightly fluffy (I use one of the highest settings on my mixer).
3. Stir together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt) in a separate bowl.
4. Turn mixer setting down to just a stir and slowly mix in dry ingredients (in about 1/4 cup-fuls) just until combined.
5. Gently fold in blueberries and walnuts.
6. Batter will be thick (almost like a cookie dough). Scoop into prepared muffin tin cups.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown and when a tester comes out clean.
8. Remove from muffin tin to a wire rack to cool.
9. Serve warm with a pat full of melting salted butter.


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