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 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.

 

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!

 

Super Simple Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

This is by far the easiest gluten-free dessert I’ve ever made! Almost easier than opening a prepackaged mix. You only need two dishes to make this; a mixing bowl and a baking pan and you are ready to go. Start to finish, your cake will be ready in under 45 minutes!

I tried to cut down on the sugar since 1 cup seemed like a lot. I started adding it 1/4 cup at a time. I’m not sure if it was the cocoa powder or the gluten-free flour, but found that I definitely needed the whole cup. This cake is extremely rich and chocolatey. I ended up freezing about three-quarters of the loaf (I made mine in a loaf pan, not a cake pan). The slice I’ve defrosted since was just as good as the freshly baked. I think making this recipe into cupcakes, might make freezing a bit easier.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

 

 

Super Simple Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
From Food.com via FitSugar.

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used Better Batter.)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon guar gum or 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (only not included in GF flour mix)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add all liquid ingredients and mix well.
  4. Bake in greased and floured nine-inch square pan (or lined with waxed paper) for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Serve as is or with some berries and cream for extra indulgence.

Summer Fruit Pavlova

Summer Fruit Pavlova

I have to say successfully making this Pavlova was one of my finest moments in the kitchen. I remember thinking Pavlova was the fanciest dessert ever when I was growing up. But for as long as I can remember, the thought of making meringue has scared me. There are too many variables in meringue making and the fact that something can go wrong at any point in the process just stresses me out. I spent quite a bit of time reading old cookbooks and consulting the websites of chefs I trust for learning something new. The end result was a smashing success. I was so proud!

Summer Fruit Pavlova

I made this a bit earlier in the summer for my wonderful mother’s birthday, so depending on where you are peaches and cherries might not be at the peak. As far as  fruit selection goes, you can’t really go wrong. Personally, I would stick to berries and stone fruits, but there are endless combinations that would be delicious.

Summer Fruit Pavlova

 

Summer Fruit Pavlova

Ingredients

For the Pavlova
  • 4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white wine or distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Fruit Topping
  • 2-3 cups of mixed berries or fruits of choice.

Instructions

For the Pavlova
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F (130°C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 7 inch (18 cm) circle on the paper.
  2. Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn’t use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Gently spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)
  6. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until the outside is dry and takes on a very pale cream color. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)
For the Whipped Cream
  1. Whip the cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar gradually and then the vanilla, beating the cream until firm. Be careful not to over-do it, or might end up with a bowl of sweet homemade butter.
Assembling
  1. Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with sweetened whipped cream. Spoon the fruit carefully into the middle of the Pavlova, leaving a border of cream and meringue.

Veggie Protenia Salad

Veggie Proteina Salad

I’ve recently discovered Red Brick Pizza. They have amazing gluten-free pizza. It’s quite a luxury to go to a pizza parlor and have a real, wood-fired pizza straight out of the oven. I have watched them like a hawk every time I have been and they take so many precautions when preparing a gluten-free pizza (I would also recommend going for a very early lunch when they first open to avoid further cross contamination risks). Every employee I have interacted with has known exactly what ‘gluten-free’ is and what is and isn’t safe on their menu (in extreme detail; I was very impressed). So far my favorites only pizzas I’ve tried are the Hawaiian (the addition of cashews is quite amazing) and the Prosciutto, Mushrooms and Arugula (a drizzle of balsamic and a dash of red pepper flakes; fantastic). Unfortunately, the closest restaurant is 35 miles away, which means I only get to go on the rare Target trip I make (yes, our closest Target is also 35 miles away, I live in a desolate hole), but between Target and pizza, it makes any trip almost as exciting as going to Disneyland.

As amazing as the pizzas are, and they are fantastic, I have absolutely fallen in love with the Veggie Proteina Salad. I never could have dreamed up a more perfect salad, but lucky I don’t have to try anymore, Red Brick has figured it out for me.

From the Red Brick Pizza website:

VEGGIE PROTEINA 
napa mix, artichoke hearts, red & green peppers, mushrooms, onions, kalamata olives, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, mozzarella, croutons, choice of dressing

Obviously to make it gluten-free, don’t get the croutons. I also leave off the corn, but keep everything else. The salad is so flavorful and so delicious and so easy to make at home, so that’s exactly what I did. I’ve made it at home several times now and every time it’s been fantastic. At the restaurant, I’ve only tried the salad with balsamic vinaigrette, but at home I’ve tried it both with balsamic and ranch dressing. I really can’t decide which is better. Unfortunately in the pictured version here, I forgot to add the cheese, it definitely wasn’t missed. I have to say that in my homemade version I usually use Monterey jack or white cheddar. I just find them tastier, but the cheese isn’t needed at all.

A little more on Red Brick. They also have gluten-free beer and ciders on tap. There are also gluten-free dessert options as well. Gelato and gelato truffles seem to be the main gluten-free dessert options, but last time I went they also offered gluten-free ice cream sandwiches made with GF chocolate chip cookies and gelato. They all look amazing, but between salad and pizza and dessert, I have to prioritize and pizza always wins in my book.

Veggie Protenia Salad

Ingredients

  • MIx of cabbage and lettuce (I used green cabbage and romaine lettuce)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 8-10 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 large tomato (or a pint of cherry tomatoes), diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional) (recommend white cheddar or monterey jack)
  • choice of dressing (recommend balsamic vinaigrette or ranch)

Instructions

  1. Place cabbage and lettuce in a large bowl.
  2. Add in all other ingredients but dressing.
  3. Toss to mix together.
  4. Add dressing of choice and toss again to coat.
  5. Serve immediately.

Joe’s Special

Joe's Special Scramble

I started the fall semester yesterday morning. In order to recover from the trauma, I’m taking a long weekend trip (can 6 days really be considered a ‘long weekend’?) up to San Francisco to visit some friends. What better excuse that to share some tried and true San Francisco favorites.

This dish is a San Francisco classic. It originated in the 1930′s at Original Joe’s. Even though the dish is a classic, I had to put my own spin on things. I substituted extra-lean ground turkey for the ground beef. I used a ton of garlic (10 cloves, but they were all pretty small) and fresh basil and oregano from my garden. I have to admit that I like the fact that the eggs are not the main focus of this egg dish. I feel like the egg is just there as a loose binder rather than the main feature. It makes for a nice change from a traditional Quiche or frittata. It also makes the dish much more adaptable to meals outside the morning hours. In true San Francisco style, Joe’s Special is traditionally served with sourdough. I have yet to discover gluten-free sourdough, so I served my scramble with a couple slices of gluten-free toast (Canyon Bakehouse is my favorite at the moment). Not quite the same as sourdough, but it did the job.

I made Joe’s Special for Sunday Brunch over the weekend and this morning I heated up the leftovers for breakfast. It was even better! This would be a great made-ahead meal for brunch or for anytime you want to have a meal that you can reheat in a hurry.

Joe's Special

 

 

Joe’s Special

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5+ garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 pounds extra-lean ground turkey
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, finally chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/3 cups parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk/cream/half and half
  • a generous dash of tabasco (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the Tabasco, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to brown. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in ground turkey; cook, stirring, until browned and all moisture evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften. Add spinach; cook, stirring, until wilted. Add eggs; cook until eggs are cooked and mixture is slightly dry, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with bread.

Gluten Free Strawberry Ricotta Pancakes with Sautéed Peaches

Breakfast al fresco! #glutenfree Strawberry Ricotta Panakes with Sautéed Peaches!

I made these in an attempt to use up some summer fruits that were rapidly approaching their use or lose stage. There are endless summer fruit combinations you can use, so go wild. I think strawberries and peaches go together amazingly, but I could imagine raspberries, blueberries, pluots, apricots and all sorts of other fruits working perfectly.

These pancakes are perfect for brunch! If I was making these for a weekend brunch, I would definitely add a glug of bourbon to the pan when you add in the peaches, just to give it an extra decadent, boozy, brunchy feel.

I will say, I had a hard time getting these pancakes to cook through, hence the crispy looking edges. I think I was being slightly impatient with heating my pan (there really is only so long a girl can wait for breakfast after spin class…), so I had to sacrifice give a few utter failures to my official tasters (aka the pups). The crispy edges did not have a burnt flavor, which was lucky, just a different texture.

Gluten Free Strawberry Ricotta Pancakes with Sautéed Peaches
Adapted from Gluten Free Scallywag.

For the Pancakes:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (145g) full fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup (100g) rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
  • 6-10 strawberries (depending on size)
For the Sautéed Peaches:
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 large, fresh peaches, thinly sliced
  • A generous dash of nutmeg

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

I usually don’t like tuna salad. I feel like every tuna salad I have had is a horrible combination of mayo, celery, and sweet relish. The thought makes me cringe. Luckily this salad can erase any prior memories of tuna salad gone wrong. This salad is light and refreshing. There are so many amazing flavors. Using Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, not only lightens up the salad, but really adds a nice, creamy base that lets all the different flavors shine through. I really liked that nearly every bite had a little tangy bite from the capers and a little bit of subtle spice from the bell peppers. I served this salad on a gluten-free Chebe roll with a tomato, olive and balsamic salad.

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

 Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Adapted from Whole Foods Market.

  • 2 (6 ounce) cans albacore tuna, drained well
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell or piquillo pepper
  • 3/4 cup sliced Greek olives
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Put all ingredients into a large bowl and gently fold together until well combined. Serve on sliced bread as a sandwich or spoon over a green salad.