Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Vegetable Ragout

Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Veggie Ragu

This dish is pure comfort food if you ask me. It’s hearty enough for a cold winter’s night, but still light enough to be a great transitional meal when spring hasn’t quite decided if it wants to be hot or cold yet. The meat and vegetables make it both filling and nutritious. You will get a lot of leftovers out of this recipes, which is a plus in my book. I also thought that the ragout tasted even better then next day.

Polenta is not everyone’s favorite food, but I happen to really like it. I think it makes a great base for a meal and keeps amazingly well for leftovers. You can top it with just about anything. I really like making my polenta with added goat cheese. It gives it both a creamy and tangy bite that I think goes really well with tomato based sauces.

Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Vegetable Ragout
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.

For the Turkey Ragout:
  • 1 1/4 pound extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (14 1/2) ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 large red sweet pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

For the Polenta:

  • 1 cup quick-cooking/instant polenta
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese, slightly crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For Serving (optional):
  • Pesto
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef until brown. Drain off any extra fat.
  2. In the same skillet, heat olive oil. When heated add onions and bell pepper. Cook about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add in carrots, zucchini and garlic, along with undrained tomatoes, broth and salt and pepper.
  3. Cover and cook on low-heat until all the vegetables are cooked through and tomato and broth have slightly thickened.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare polenta according to package directions. I recommend using low-sodium vegetable broth for extra flavor. When polenta is almost cooked through, stir in goat cheese and butter.
  5. Spoon polenta into individual serving bowls and top with ragout mixture over polenta. Top individual bowls with pesto and garnish with basil and freshly ground pepper.

 

Haloumi Salad with Caramelised Onion Dressing

haloumi salad with caramelised onion dressing

Oh, haloumi, how I love you! Let me count the ways!  I really, really love haloumi. I also really, really love caramelized onions and tomatoes and arugula. I basically just really, really love this salad. There is something about the salty (and squeaky) haloumi and the kind of sweet, kind of not caramelized onion dressing that just makes for the most amazing flavor combination. The peppery arugula was also a flavorful addition that worked really well with the rest of the ingredients.

I’m not going to lie, making the dressing is going to take you a bit of time. To get really delicious, rich, sweet caramelized onions, you are going to need about an hour. Don’t believe anyone that says it will only 10 to 20 minutes, that’s a lie. And don’t believe anyone that says you can add sugar to caramelize them, that’s just gross. (I am very passionate when it comes to caramelized onions and these two points, if you couldn’t tell….) The onions will get naturally sweet and it is definitely worth the effort, you just need to give them time. You can definitely blend the onion dressing in a food processor if you prefer a more vinaigrette-like dressing. I left the onions un-blended (more like a chutney almost) because I felt it would make for a heartier salad.

haloumi salad with caramelised onion dressing

Haloumi Salad with Caramelised Onion Dressing

 

Ingredients

For the Salad:
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 block of halloumi, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 bag of salad greens (I used arugula)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Dressing:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

For the Dressing:
  1. Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions when oil begins to shimmer. Let onions sit for 10 minutes and sprinkle with salt. Reduce heat low and continue to stir onions every 10 minutes until they are a rich, caramelized brown. It’s going to take about 1 hour, give or take 10-20 minutes either side.
  2. When onions are caramelized place in bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Adjust flavors and spice to your taste. If you prefer a smoother dressing this can be done in a food processor.
For the Salad:
  1. Wash and prepare lettuce and tomatoes. Divide between two plates
  2. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat (you can reuse the same pan you caramelized your onions in). Once oil is hot add haloumi slices and cook until starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes, then flip the haloumi and repeat on the other side.
  3. Top tomatoes with halloumi, then add the onion dressing and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Gluten Free Greek Yogurt & Herb Potato Salad

Greek Yogurt & Herb Potato Salad

It’s already getting warm here. We had approximately two days of rain and a maybe four cold-ish (by Southern California standards) days and we are apparently heading right back into summer. I’m not a fan. The only plus side is that I now have a legitimate reason to insist on barbecuing as often as possible. I was all set to grill up a delicious meal the other day and it turned out we had no propane left, which is kind of a major component to using a gas grill. Memo to Self: always check for propane.

The meal was not a total loss because I had made some delicious side dishes to go with the barbecue. This salad is probably going to be in regular rotation over the next few months around here. It’s a very easy to make and very delicious. I originally used white balsamic vinegar in my dressing for this salad, but I honestly thought it turned out a bit too sweet. I think apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar would be a much better match. I used dill in the potato salad because it had a ton on hand, but you could use just about fresh herbs you have on hand. Parsley or basil would be great and I think arugula really would be great too.

Gluten Free Greek Yogurt & Herb Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled red or yellow potatoes
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Add potatoes, cover and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and when potatoes have cool enough to touch, cut into quarters and halves (depending on size). Let cut potatoes cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine yogurt, scallions, dill, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooled potatoes and toss to coat.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bread

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bread

I found a sad little bag of leftover frozen cranberries in my freezer the other day. I always freeze cranberries in the fall with the best intentions of using them sometime soon, but they always seem to end up hidden under everything else. I felt bad for these cranberries and wanted them to feel loved, so I baked them into a delicious bread. If baked goods don’t say “love,” I don’t know what does…

This recipe is pretty perfect. It’s fast, simple and delicious. I found the batter to be quite thick and it kind of smothered all my cranberries to the bottom of the baking pan. I will admit I got a little sick of the time it was taking to chop each individual cranberry in half, so I kind of just started hacking them up. Bigger pieces probably would have helped with more uniform berry dispersion. Every slice did have a lot of berries, they were just clumped on the bottom, which is not the worst thing. Next time, I might try substituting some of the milk for orange juice and adding some zest to make a delicious orange cranberry bread.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bread
Recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 ounces fresh cranberries, halved
  • 2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • Coarse/Raw sugar (like Sugar in the Raw), for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease well a standard (9-inches x 5-inches or slightly smaller) loaf pan and set it aside.
  2. Beat the butter in a large bowl on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the 1 cup of granulated sugar and the eggs, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a separate, medium-size bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well. Place the cranberry halves in a separate, small bowl, and add a tablespoon of the dry ingredients to the cranberries, along with the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar, and toss to coat. Set the cranberries aside.
  4. To the large bowl with the butter and sugar mixture, add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk and sour cream, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. The mixture will be thick but smooth. Add the cranberries and reserved sugar and dry ingredients, and mix gently into the batter until evenly distributed throughout.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. It will fill or nearly fill the pan. Sprinkle the top lightly with coarse sugar. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 1 hour). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice thickly and serve.

 

Cauliflower-Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Cauliflower-Broccoli Cheddar Soup

In another round of my second favorite kitchen game*, clean out the fridge roulette, I was lucky enough to come up with a winner! I am sure I am not the only one to do it, but sometimes you buy some vegetables and then kind of forget about them for a week or two. I always feel awful if I don’t rediscover them until after the use it or lose it stage, but luckily I found a kind of wilted bunch of broccoli, a cauliflower that was about to cross to the dark side and some lonely looking carrots.

I like to let my onions get nice and brown (preferably caramelized) in most of my soups, so I diced up the onion and shallot and threw them on first thing. I let them get soft and caramelized while I chopped and washed the rest of the vegetables. I don’t mind my veggie soups having a bit of a bite in them, but if you prefer a softer or more blended soup, you might want to add the carrots with the onions so they get super soft. I added them after the onions were well softened and thought they came out perfectly. Truth be told, I used less stock than usual (3 cups instead of my usual 4) because that what I had left on hand and didn’t feel the need to open or make more. This resulted in a much thicker, almost chowder-like soup, which was delicious and filling.

I topped my soup with a sprinkle of cheddar, freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of dill. After tasting the dill with the soup, I wish I had added some to the main recipe. Next time!

* – my favorite kitchen game is Don’t Cut a Finger While Cutting Onions, but I’m really not all that good at that.

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Cauliflower-Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 6+ garlic cloves, minced (I used a whole head)
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1 large head broccoli
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and shallot and cook until soft and just beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add the cauliflower, broccoli, spices and 3 cups stock. Bring broth to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and reduce to a simmer and cook 10-20 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and easily cut, stirring occasionally. The broth will not totally cover the vegetables but don’t worry- stirring will be enough to ensure the cauliflower cooks through.
  3. Using a regular blender or immersion blender, blend the cauliflower mixture until desired consistency is reached. (If you are using a regular blender, you will probably have to do this in batches so pour the blended soup into another large pot as you go. If using an immersion blender, you can blend the soup right in the same pot. Once blended, stir in the cheese and serve.

Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Dip

Jalapeño Ranch Dip

So apparently this March Madness business is finally coming to an end this weekend. Finally. I used to care about sports, but now I am more or less completely apathetic (with one exception). I think this is partially due to the false advertising of surrounding professional and college athletics in America. “March” Madness. We are now a week into April. Stop encroaching on a perfectly innocent month NCAA. However, I will consent to watching sporting events mainly because they allow for drinking at otherwise inappropriate hours of the day and snack foods, both of which I am a fan of.

Creamy ranch, a little kick from the jalapeños, tangy lime. It’s pretty much perfect  the perfect dip in my book. I used mild jalapeños and mild green salsa, and while I did increase the amounts from the recipe I based my dip on, I didn’t find the jalapeño flavor or spiciness to be overwhelming at all. If you are a little more hesitant about spicy, you might want to cut back on the jalapeños and salsa and add to taste.

Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Dip
Recipe adapted from Capturing Joy

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup tomatillo salsa (or any green salsa)
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 5 Tablespoons ranch powder (or 1.5 packets)
  • 1/2 cup pickled jalapeños
  • 2 limes, juiced
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until desired consistency is reached (I left mine a little chunky). Add more lime juice if dip is too thick
  2. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips and veggies and enjoy!

 

Gluten Free Runza (or Bierock)

Gluten Free Runza

I am currently enjoying the wonders of Omaha, Nebraska! Whenever I go on a trip somewhere new I like to see what there is to do there and what kinds of food the area is famous for. Before this trip I had only ever hear of Omaha Steaks (which are delicious), but there are all sorts of other culinary delights that are famous in Omaha. Yesterday I shared a gluten-free Reuben salad, which was my take on the famous Reuben sandwich that originated in Omaha. Today I made something that I had never heard of before! A runza!

A runza, which is sometimes called a bierock, came to the Midwest with the German, Russian and Eastern European immigrants that settled there. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed the runzas I made. They were delicious. I am partial to Eastern European food, so cabbage, onion and meat can’t really be bad in my book. With the addition of some spices and extra-lean ground turkey (they are traditionally made with ground beef or pork, but that’s not my style) to light it up a little, the end result was a perfect hand held sandwich. If I was the make runzas again (which I just might, because I think they would freeze and keep really well) I would probably add some grainy dijon to the cabbage mix. The flavor was good, but I think mustard would make it perfect. I was a bit short on time this week, so I cheated and rolled out some Chebe dough for my crust, which worked perfectly. I was able to get 8 big runza out of one bread mix. I ended up with a lot of left over cabbage and meat, so next time I might try to make mini ones instead.

Gluten Free Runza

 

 

Gluten Free Runza (or Bierock)

Ingredients

For the Filling:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/4 pounds extra-lean ground turkey
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • onion powder, to taste
  • smoked paprika, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage shredded (or a bag of cole slaw mix)
For the dough:
  • 1 box of Chebe bread mix, or dough recipe of choice

Instructions

For the Filling:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan. When heated add onion and cook until well browned and starting to caramelize. Add turkey and break apart to cook. Add spices and brown the meat.
  2. Add the cabbage and cover pan with lid slightly off to allow steam to escape. Remove lid when cabbage is almost completely cooked and allow excess moisture to evaporate.
  3. When cabbage and meat are both cooked through, remove pan from heat and allow filling to cool slightly.
For the Dough:
  1. Follow instructions on box and when dough is mixed, roll out on flat, well floured surface.
  2. Cut the dough in to 8 pieces that you will be able to fold it into a rectangle.
  3. Place filling in center of each piece and fold together into a rectangle
For the Runzas:
  1. Heat oven to 375. Place folded runzas on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Reuben Salad

Reuben Salad

Well, I am off on a trip today and I’m quite excited about it. Most might associate the Reuben Sandwich with New York City, but according to the internet, the Reuben originated in the wonderful city of Omaha, Nebraska, which is where I am off to! One of my best friends moved to Omaha last year and since I am always up for an adventure, I decided Nebraska would be the perfect spot for my spring break!

One of my favorite things about traveling, is trying the local cuisine and specialties. I am fairly certain I have never actually had a Reuben sandwich and since Rye bread is not gluten-free, I probably never will, but luckily you won’t even miss the bread in this salad. I was actually kind of surprised by how well this salad turned out. I was a bit wary of adding sauerkraut to a salad, but in the end I think it was my favorite part. I made my own Russian dressing as well and while it was very tasty, on its own it turned out a bit sweet for my taste. With the salad however, it did go quite well with the sauerkraut and pickles. Due to my prolong stint living in Eastern Europe, I have to absolutely love anything pickled and dill pickles and sauerkraut are two of my favorite foods. If you aren’t so big on those, this might not be the salad for you, but if you love a good Reuben sandwich this will be right up your alley.

Reuben Salad

Gluten-Free Reuben Salad
Dressing adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

For the Russian Dressing
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise or Greek yogurt (I used half and half)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For the Salad
  • 4 large handfuls lettuce or spring greens
  • 2 Tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut
  • 1 Tablespoon dill pickle relish (or chopped dill pickles)
  • 2 Tablespoons Russian Dressing
  • 3 ounces cooked corned beef chopped or shredded (leftover or deli meat will work)

Instructions

For the Dressing:
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside or refrigerate until needed. Dressing can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
For the Salad:
  1. Add lettuce to a large serving bowl or plate. Top with the rest of the ingredients. Serve and enjoy!

 

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad

No April Fool’s here! Just good food! My cousin posted the most delicious looking salad on Instagram last week and I was beyond jealous. Most of my family lives in Ireland, so with the time difference they are posting delicious looking lunches and dinners right when I wake up. Since checking Instagram is (shamefully) the first thing I do every morning, I get to start drooling over planning delicious meals right away. Luckily my cousin also mentioned the name of the restaurant in her picture and I was easily able to stalk the menu and find out more about this delicious meal. I read the description and was almost instantly in love.

Prosciutto, Pear & Parmesan Salad
Prosciutto ham, fresh rocket, toasted pine nuts,
sliced juicy pear and grated aged parmesan
with a strawberry and balsamic dressing.

I had everything on hand and set about making this bad boy right away. I took a few liberties of my own (NO pine nuts here! Yuck!) and had to imagine what the dressing might be like, but the end result was beyond anything I could have imagined. I think this the perfect type of salad for this time of year. There is a great combination of sweet winter and spring fruits, which are amazing with the salty prosciutto and the toasted almonds add a perfect crunch. And the very best part! It took less than ten minutes to put together!

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad

Apart from switching disgusting pine nuts for almonds, I had to guess what kind of dressing was used. Personally, I am not a fan of oily or sweet vinaigrettes, so when I came across this recipe from Whole Foods, I thought it would be perfect! I added some chia seeds to the dressing for some extra nutritional value. This dressing is best made with strawberries that have been sliced for a bit (so they can get kind of sweet and syrupy in their natural juice) or strawberries that are over ripe (like the day before you might have to toss them).  Strawberries like that will be the juiciest and sweetest, which will cut the need for added sweeteners or oil.

 

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients

For the Salad:
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 1 ripe, but firm pear, sliced (I used a Bartlett)
  • 4 large handfuls arugula/rocket
  • 3 Tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
  • a block of aged parmesan, for grating
  • freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
For the Strawberry Balsamic Dressing:
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chia (or poppy) seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. In a food processor combine all the ingredients for the dressing and mix until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Wash your arugula and place in large bowl. Add dressing and toss until well mixed (I used about 1/3 cup). Add almonds and grate parmesan to taste. Toss again.
  3. Place arugula on large serving platter, top with prosciutto and pear slices. Add salt, pepper and parmesan to taste. Serve and enjoy!

The World’s Best Tomato Soup!

I am going to make a bold statement right now and say this is the best tomato soup I have ever had. Ever. EVER! I consider myself a bit of tomato soup connoisseur and I thought I had found the only recipe I needed for the rest of my life, but I was sorely miss informed. I could happily eat this every day for the rest of my life and not even care. This soup was sooooooo good it inspired me to blog again. This is a very simple recipe, but when you let all the ingredients get friendly, it turns into an extraordinary soup.

This is not the world’s fastest soup, but you really do not want to rush it. The more time you give it the more flavorful it will be, and trust me! It’s worth it. There are so many flavors in this soup and they way the all come together is absolutely amazing, but it takes a little bit. Taking the time to fully caramelize the onions is essential. Luckily, since the onion is diced, it takes a little less time than caramelizing normally does (25-30 minutes). I made gluten-free Black Pepper and Cheddar Biscuits with a Chebe mix that were the perfect addition to the meal.

The World’s Best Tomato Soup!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6+ garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup dry vermouth
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 large (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes (splurge on the good ones!)
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 Tablespoons dried Italian herbs
  • Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
  • Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and continue to cook until caramelized, about 25-30 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the vermouth and stir everything around to deglaze the pot. Let cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and Italian herbs and stir until well mixed and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Using an emersion blender, blend together all of the ingredients. (A food processor or blender will work as well)
  8. Cook about 10 minutes longer to all the soup to reduce and thicken up.
  9. Serve and enjoy!