Pesto Shrimp Rice

When my husband and I were first married, we had a pasta dish we made on special occasions: month anniversaries (ah, The First Year…), Stay-in Date Nights, Valentine’s Day, Birthdays, Tuesdays.

It was simple and delicious.  And it always tasted better the next morning, especially when we snagged it right out of the fridge and took it back to bed in our studio apartment.  We ate it without shame and watched one of our 9 DVDs (ah, The First Year…)

I can’t have pasta now, but I still want that dish.  I can still taste the pesto, smell the pesto, CRAVE the pesto.  So I threw caution to the wind and made it anyway.  Minus the pasta and plus rice.

You’re Going To Need:
4 C. Instant Cooked Rice (White) (I use instant because I have children and a short attention span)
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Container Grape Tomatoes, halved
3/4 C. Pesto (I love the “Classico” brand)
Shrimp, Cooked and Deveined
Salt, to taste
Olive Oil

Heat Olive Oil in a large skillet.
Add minced garlic, stir constantly… cook until garlic is very fragrant. Don’t overcook! It’s so easy to burn it!
Add the halved grape tomatoes and stir constantly. Cook until tomatoes are nice and soft.
Add shrimp, again stirring constantly. Cook for at least 3 minutes -until shrimp is translucent. I usually cook it for 5-6 minutes.

Add pesto to cooked rice, fold in.

Add the pesto rice to the shrimp mixture. Fold in gently.
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Make sure you save some to put in the fridge. You’re going to want those cold leftovers for breakfast.
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Posted in Gluten Free, Healthy, Main Dish | Leave a comment

Two-Week GF Menu

Since my 7 year-old was an infant, I’ve used a two-week menu system I came up with myself. I’m usually consistent with it because it’s just become a good system for me, but the past year it has been shelved more often than not.

Since going gluten-free, I’ve had to bring the menu back for financial reasons more than anything. I write it all out myself, Amishly (without Microsoft Word), and leave a lot of space on the right side of the page for my grocery list. When I’m cooking, I notice that I’m almost out of this or that, and I just pencil it right on my hen-scratched menu.
Do I always follow the menu perfectly? Of course I don’t. But the menu ASSURES me that I have at least 14 dinners at my fingertips, no matter what order I choose to follow.

There’s a few recipes I’ve never tried this week (the quinoa mac n’ cheese, the beef pesto rice, and the avocado tuna salad), and this menu is a lot different than my menu seven years ago which contained glorious things like homemade bread, homemade English muffins… okay, I need to stop.  I’m wallowing.

Breakfasts:
Oatmeal
Eggs (scrambled, fried, Custard, Froggy in the Hole)


Granola


Power Cereal (to which I add sliced almonds, cinnamon, sugar, and Craisins… and it tastes like Heaven. or the best kind of sin. not sure which)

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Waffles (for Saturdays)

Lunches:
Cottage Cheese with Pineapple
Yogurt Parfaits using granola or popped amaranth
Tuna Salad, wrapped in Romaine lettuce leaves
Salads
Dinner Leftovers

Dinners:
Tilapia w/veggies (served with rice)

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Baked Chicken, Green Salad, Mashed Potatoes
Spaghetti Squash, Green Salad
Waffles (always better as a dinner, even with gluten-free flour!)
Nachoes

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Creamy Avocado Tuna Salad
Cheesy Zucchini Pizza Casserole (big hit with everyone)
Sweet n’ Sour Chili


Pot Roast
Beef Pesto Rice
Quinoa Mac n’Cheese
Leftovers

 

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Popped Amaranth/Power Cereal

A few months ago, I was riding in a car with two of my very favorite people when they both started gushing about amaranth.

Amar-what?

It’s a grain, my friend explained -she heard about it from Chef Brad.

Chef Brad?

I have a lot to learn. Thank goodness for Google. You probably already know about Chef Brad and Amaranth. I’m usually pretty late to these kinds of parties.
It turns out that Chef Brad is a grain master -his food is healthy and delicious.

Since going gluten-free (can you hear “Taps” playing? It can’t just be me…), I’m working hard to make sure I keep some healthy grains in my diet, so I added Amaranth to my “Thrive” shipment last month. I felt so accomplished just having it in my house, like I was somehow more sophisticated for having a heavy tin can of grain on my living room floor.
… in my trailer.
*ahem*
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It sat there for a few days because although I knew I wanted it, I didn’t quite know what to do with it. Eventually I started running out of other foods around the house (end of the paycheck famine), so I cracked open the can and went to work.
I vaguely remembered reading somewhere (from Chef Brad, maybe?) that Amaranth could be popped, and since I’ve found joy in the art of stove-top popping with popcorn, I decided to give that route a try.

I burned three batches, but eventually one came out right. And then another and another, and my son stood nearby, cheering me on.
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I poured some into a bowl, added sugar and some pomegranate honey (compliments of my Utah-residing sister) (it’s Zion’s honey, no doubt), topped it with milk and it was gone so fast.
So fast.
And my son kept begging for more -it didn’t matter that he didn’t even know what he was asking for.
“More of that, Mom… with the sugar, the popped… so good… I’m BEGGING.”
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I also threw about 1/4 C. in with my tuna salad and it was really, really, really good.
Amaranth itself is completely and utterly guilt-less -and what it lack in guilt it makes up in bliss.

You’re Going to Need:

Amaranth
A Pan
(seriously, that’s it!)

Heat a pan or skillet to high heat.
Add a small amount of amaranth (I pop 1 Tbsp. at a time). Cover (I mean it, sister). Shake pan. Keep it moving! The amaranth will begin to pop in a few seconds and will be done popping in 10-13 seconds. It burns SO fast, and you’ll end up throwing a few batches out as you figure out what heat setting works best for your stove.

One popped, let your imagination run wild. I can’t let my imagination run wild because once I pop a few batches, EVERYONE wants to eat it up in cereal-form. We started calling it Power Cereal. It’s a staple now.
Add yogurt, add berries, throw it into salads, eat it plain.
(I keep feeling like I’m trying to write a Dr. Seuss Tribute to Amaranth.)

Popped amaranth will keep in your fridge or freezer -I’ve even read a few places about dehydrating it!
I hope you’ll try it. It’s a wild ride (says the girl who screamed when she rode the Pinocchio ride at Disneyland… stupid whale popping up…)

Here’s a quick run-down on what it has to offer (source):
Vitamins & Minerals
vitamins A, B6, K and C, a well as folate and riboflavin, manganese and also iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.

Protein
Amaranth contains large amounts of protein, up to 30% more than wheat flour, rice and oats. It also contains no gluten.

Dietary Fiber & Amino Acids
Dietary fiber and essential amino acids, including lysine, which has clinically shown potential for cancer treatment, are prominent in amaranth. It also contains relatively low cholesterol levels.

Disease Prevention & Immune Support
The oils in amaranth have been proven to assist in the prevention and treatment of hypertension and heart disease. Regular consumption of amaranth can help to reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Amaranth has also been said to help boost the immune system.

Grey Hair Prevention
Some studies have even found that grain amaranth may even help prevent gray hair.

Now for the fun part: IDEAS!
Pinterest is a great search engine for things like this -I prefer Pinterest to Google when it comes to recipes… it feels more like a sweet, sisterly woman is opening her kitchen and knowledge to me. Google is so cold and robotic.
Cold and robotic has it’s place. Just not in my kitchen.

There’s Popped Amaranth Cereal in a Jar -I’m leaving my computer in a few minutes to go make some of this for my friends!

popped amaranth cereal {gifts in jars} || edible perspective

Popped Amaranth Peanut Butter Cups

And, of course, just plain Popped Amaranth!

popped amaranth

 

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, From Scratch, Gluten Free, Healthy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Brown Sugar Salmon

This dish will make you out to be a better chef than you actually are.

Okay, so maybe you’re a much better chef than I am… but speaking for myself, I kicked this dish out and was floored by my awesomeness.
I really DID this!

It made the perfect main dish for this year’s Valentines Feast because it was something fresh and new, fancy-pantsy, incredibly delicious, and seriously EASY. It took minimal effort and ingredients.
Those are my favorite kind of recipes.
Everyone loved it and polished off what was left of it for lunch the next day.
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You’re Going To Need:
1 1/2 lbs. Salmon fillets
Lemon Pepper, to taste
Garlic Powder, to taste,
Salt, to taste
1/3 C. Soy Sauce (remember to buy the gluten free if you need to!)
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/3 C. Water
1/4 C. Vegetable Oil

Season salmon fillet(s) with lemon pepper, garlic powder and salt.

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, water and oil in a gallon-size zip-loc bag (larger if needed -I doubled this recipe and used two gallon-sized zip-loc bags).
Place salmon in bags, remove as much air as you can, and zip shut. Toss the marinade around the salmon until it is fully coated.
Place in fridge for at least two hours.

After two hours:
Preheat oven to 425*
(VARIATION: pre-heat grill and try grilling the salmon instead
Wrap salmon fillets in tin-foil (one fillet per piece of tin foil). Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, more if needed.

I also took some fresh green beans and tossed them in the leftover marinade, then gave them their own tinfoil to steam in. They turned out to be a perfect side dish!
Our Valentine Feast 2014 was wonderful, complete with spinach salad and Martinelli! The kids were in heaven with their fancy goblets and the baby screamed the entire time because she was breaking a molar through and battling an ear infection.
But at least you can’t hear the screams through the pictures, right? It’s the little things.
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I hope you try this one out -it is absolutely worth it!

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Here’s our Valentine Feast from last year!

Posted in Healthy, Holiday, Main Dish | Leave a comment

Avocado Breakfast Bowl

Being married means cooking things you hate for people you love at least once a year:
on Valentine’s Day.

That said: I HATE avocados.
And that means yesterday, Valentine’s Day, we had them for breakfast.

As my gift to my husband this year, I wanted to give him a nice hearty breakfast but I wanted something a little different than the same ol’ eggs and bacon. Changing up much of our diet to gluten-free has thrown a wrench in things, but it’s also ignited a sort of creative revolution in my little kitchen.
I combined a few of my husband’s most favorite ingredients: avocado, egg, bacon, and cheese -and the ending result was something that made him feel treated, special, and important.
It was a fancy breakfast, and he loved the Royal Treatment (Royal Treatment for men = bacon).

NOW.
Having said that, I want to add a disclaimer that this dish isn’t something I’d ever make for taste-sake.
1) Because I hate avocados.
2) Because even my husband, who eats them every chance he gets, was more in love with the idea and look than he was with the actual taste.

I DO encourage you to make this because it does produce a certain I MATTER ENOUGH TO DO FANCY STUFF FOR ME kind of feeling. Just… don’t expect your taste buds to get high.

And upside? Even with the bacon, it’s still pretty healthy.

You’re Going To Need:

Avocado(s) (I used three)
Eggs
Mozzarella
Bacon, cut up and cooked (I used three slices -so: one per avocado.  Use more or less to taste)
Salt

Preheat oven to 425*

Begin by halving the avocado. Remove the pit (I like the “hit it hard with your butcher knife and twist” method because it gives me a sense of control and power -something mothers are lacking in SPADES).
Scrape some of the avocado meat out, remove to a bowl (I guess some people are into eating that kind of thing as-is, so don’t throw it out).
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Sprinkle the hollowed out center with bacon -don’t use up all of your bacon… save some for sprinkling on top when they come out of the oven!
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Crack an egg inside. My eggs over-filled the avocado cavity, and I might suggest cracking all of the eggs into a separate bowl and scrambling them… you’d end up having more control over the amount that actually goes into the cavity.
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Salt.
Top with Cheese.

0214140743Carefully bake!  I ended up needing to cook them for about 30 minutes, but if you scramble the eggs instead, they will most likely cook much faster.  I advise cooking them 15 minutes, and checking them periodically after that (maybe every five minutes or so?  Be extra vigilant -you don’t want to burn fancy food).

Top with remaining bacon and enjoy!

Valentine’s Day is an important holiday for me -it’s my favorite, and not because I’m in love and have the best. husband. ever. (could you hear my valley-girl voice through the screen?) but because I believe love is the most powerful force on earth and beyond.  A holiday to celebrate it is about the best idea since… well, Christmas (which, let’s face it: is totally about love).

I set out breakfast with a side of yogurt and fresh berries (topped with almonds).  I love my heart ramekins, bought on clearance after last year’s Valentine’s Day!  I’ve been dying to use them FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR!

I made a fancy breakfast, I made pretty treats, and I made a beautiful feast last night -which will be blogged later because I don’t want to over-do it with posting today.  Also: I do have a life to live today, and that means I need to get out of bed and away from my screen at some point!

But I did use the fancy glasses for breakfast.  I did tie a ribbon about the red napkin.  And I did buy bacon and orange juice (which I hardly do.  Do you anymore?  Holy inflation burning up my wallet, Batman!).

But then I didn’t wipe the table off.  What’s up with THAT?

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Posted in Breakfast, Gluten Free, Healthy, Holiday | 1 Comment

Hot Chocolate Float

In December, my Aunt hosts an annual Christmas dinner. It’s one of the highlights of the Christmas season! Her food is always so delicious, and her house is decorated beautifully.

This year, after dinner was over, we all gathered in the backyard and were treated to a hot chocolate floats. We stood over her outdoor Cowboy grill and warmed our hands… or sat around her outdoor fireplace.
Gosh, I have the best family.

I had NEVER had hot chocolate floats before, but my aunties all have amazing taste (and are amazing cooks) so I went with it. My husband, poor ol’ soul, had to stay home with a sick kid. Once I came home, I immediately made one for him.
They’ve sort of been going on in our home ever since. I’m going to show you how I made them, though there’s obviously so many routes to making hot chocolate. Pick your favorite and go with it!

You’re Going To Need:
2 C. Cocoa Powder
1 C. Sugar
1/4-1/2 C. Powdered French Vanilla Creamer
Vanilla Ice Cream

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing bowl using a fork or whisk.
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This next part might get confusing, but I promise it’s worth it. Just stay with me… stay with me…

Homemade chocolate milk mix can be grainy and weird (Hi, Nesquick), but I’ve come across a little trick that has saved the day! I pour very hot water into the bottom of my cup (about 1 Tablespoon) and then dissolve 2 Tablespoons of my chocolate milk mixture into it… AND THEN add the milk on top. Stir it all together and it’s wonderful.

I use the same trick with my hot chocolate. I heat up about 1 C. of water in the bottom of a sauce pan, and when it gets REALLY hot, I dissolve a heft helping of my cocoa mix (like 2 Cups or so, I don’t mayzure) into it. AND THEN I top it all off with milk (4 cups should do it, more or less to taste).
Heat until it’s nice and warm… or so hot it burns your tongue, whatever tickles your fancy.

And then scoop a heaping heapfull of vanilla ice cream into it.

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One sip/bite into and you’ll forget there ever was a life before.
Promise.

Posted in Beverage, Dessert, Gluten Free, Holiday, Snacks | Leave a comment

Spinach Dip

So far eating gluten free hasn’t been the worst thing that’s ever happened to me -I’m not kidding when I say I thought it would be.

I’ve actually had some AMAZING food, and I’m having fun putting more time and creativity into my kitchen. This afternoon’s lunch was incredible, and I’m so glad there’s a lot of it. So so glad.
So.
SO.
Sosososo.

Yes, it’s gluten free but it’s totally something I would have made last month -BEFORE The Great Gluten Death.

You’re going to need:
1 (9 oz) package frozen, chopped spinach (cooked in the microwave and thoroughly drained)
1/2 C. Cream Cheese
1/2 C. Mayo
1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese
1/2 C. Grated Mozzarella
Juice of one lemon (or half of a lemon if it’s huge, like mine was… plus that need that other half to stuff my chicken with tomorrow)
3 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried parsley
Salt and Pepper, to taste.

Mix everything but the spinach together using whatever means you feel comfy with (processor? wooden spoon? bare hands?)… then fold in the spinach:

 

0205141453I bought these expensive crackers, and I gotta say: I love them so much.  They are REALLY good.  If my husband didn’t want my joints to stop hurting as badly as I do, he’d eat them all without asking and blame the dog.  No foolin’.

0205141454Put them together?  True love.  Although you could use celery.  or french bread.  or Club Crackers.  Just don’t go bragging to me about the Club Crackers, okay?  Sweet, buttery goodness.

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Gluten Free Nachos

If you me on facebook, you already know I’ve gone gluten free.

It wasn’t a decision I jumped into, took lightly or enjoyed (let’s be honest). I’m not the BEST baker in the world, but I enjoy the heck out of it… the feeling of dough when it’s JUST RIGHT and beautifully elastic!
*sigh*

But the fact is: my joints hurt and they hurt a lot. My chiropractor is positive it’s nutrition-related, and so through a series of events and research, I’m going gluten free. It’s a trial period right now.
It’s expensive, and that REALLY stinks because money is scarce in this house.

So this dish isn’t budget-friendly, but it isn’t horribly taxing either. BUT IT IS AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS, my friend. AMAZINGLY.

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I made these nachoes at night because we eat at night.
So the pictures weren’t taken at night. Nor were they staged or posed. And I didn’t clean up the background.
Basically, you’re getting REALITY in these pictures. I’m doing you a favor really, so you won’t be disappointed when you make this recipe in your real kitchen… it should look exactly like the pictures! Win!

You can easily make this a gluten-friendly recipe, so don’t despair if you do -lucky bugger -eat gluten.

You’re Going To Need:
2 Cans of Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
1 package of Taco Seasoning
1 Onion, thinly sliced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Package Grape Tomatoes (get 2 if you REALLY love tomatoes), halved
2 Avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 C. Chopped Cilantro
1 Lime (you’ll need the juice)
1 Package Tortilla Chips (Gluten Free)
1 Package Frito Lay Chips (optional, but not for me. YUM.)
LOTS of cheese -because we’re talking about Nachos, here.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Mix pinto beans with Taco seasoning and 1/4-1/2 C. Water. Bake in shallow baking dish for 20 minutes.
While beans are baking, saute thinly sliced onion in olive oil. When onions are soft and translucent, transfer them to a bowl. In same skillet, add grape tomatoes and garlic. Saute until tomatoes are tender. Remove from skillet and add to The Onion Bowl.
Everything looks so pretty when you’re chopping it up. And smells so pretty.
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Spread the tortilla chips on a baking dish (I put tinfoil under mine because I hate cleaning).
Top with a sprinkling of cheese. Add baked beans. Top with onions, tomato and garlic mixture… finish off with MORE CHEESE and bake about 10 minutes.
While the nachos bake, cut up the avocado and chop the cilantro (I use up as much cilantro as I can… I’ve never had enough). Combine them in a bowl, gently toss. Juice a lime over the top of the mixture and sprinkle salt over.

When the nachos come out of the oven, top them with the avocado and cilantro… and squeeze MORE LIME over the mixture if you want to. And I wanted to.
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This pan made TONS. If you have a small family, I recommend halving my recipe.
We had to throw some out because avocado doesn’t keep, and I wept… partially because it tasted amazing, but MOSTLY because gluten free chips must be dipped in gold.

Recipe adapted from THIS lovely one.

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Roast Chicken and Vegetables

My husband has been eyeballing this recipe for a while. He suggested we get a sitter and cook it together.
He’s so cute. He had no idea that roasting an entire chicken would take for.ev.er.
I decided to make his day and cook the recipe up for our family Valentine’s feast. I had never roasted an entire chicken before, so I was nervous, but it turned out amazingly delicious!

This recipe is time-consuming, but it’s simple. It will satisfy the men in your life.

I pair it with homemade french bread (because it’s honestly easier to make it than haul three kids to the store and back), and bagged salad (with the house dressing, a’course).

You’re Going To Need:

3 Carrots, cut into thirds (I cut them up smaller and I use more like 6 carrots. We like carrots around here)
6 Small red new potatoes, quartered if large (I used whatever potatoes I have on hand and cut them up small)
1 Medium yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, for seasoning
Lawry’s Season Salts
1 Chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
1 Lemon, quartered
2 Fresh Rosemary sprigs
4 Cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Preheat the over to 425 degrees.

Put the carrots, potatoes, and onion in a 9×13 glass baking dish.
(I added more the double the amount veggies the recipe called for because when I followed the recipe exactly, I wanted MORE veggies. The result? The overabundance of veggies satisfied everyone, they weren’t AS flavorful as the time I made the recipe with less veggies, but they were still AMAZING.)

Toss the veggies with a few Tablespoons of Olive Oil.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the veggies to the sides of the pan to make room for the chicken.
Put the four peeled, smashed garlic cloves in the center. They will be under the chicken while it roasts… the chicken will protect the garlic from being burned. PS: I forgot to smash my garlic and everything still turned out.

Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of chicken and discard. Rinse the chicken under cold water.

Pat dry.
Rub chicken down with olive oil (don’t forget to rub inside the chicken as well).
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Pour about 2 Tablespoons of Lawry’s Season Salts into your hands and rub the chicken down (inside and out!), add more or less seasoning to your taste.
Put the lemon quarters and rosemary sprigs inside the cavity of the chicken.
Place chicken in baking dish on top of the garlic… in it’s purdy little nest o’ veggies:

Roast for 45 minutes.

While the chicken is roasting, you can have your son marinate steaks for tomorrow’s dinner (because there won’t be any chicken left, this we know):

After 45 minutes, remove dish from the oven. Using tongs, tilt the chicken, pouring the juices from the cavity onto the veggies. Shake to coat.
Baste the chicken in the pan juices.
If the chicken is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.

Continue roasting until the chicken is a deep golden brown and the juices run clear when a tip of a knife is inserted into the thigh joint or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh, away from the bone, registers 170-175 degrees, 25-30 minutes more.
(I just set the time for 25 minutes and let it roast that much longer. I haven’t died yet. It helps that my oven is super hot and overcooks pretty much everything.)

Transfer the chicken to a platter, cover loosely with foil and let stand for 10-15 minutes before carving.
Using the back of a spoon, mas the garlic and squeeze some lemon into the pan juices. Toss the juices with the vegetables.
Carve the chicken and serve the vegetables alongside. Drizzle any remaining juices over the chicken.
Here’s a picture collage from our Valentine’s Feast. It makes for a DELICIOUS and SATISFYING meal. Your husband will briefly pledge his allegiance to you.

And for info purposes, here’s a video on how to carve this bad boy:

I carved it m’self and it made me feel tough.

Posted in Holiday, Main Dish, Side Dishes | Leave a comment

House Dressing

Last night, I did something I’ve never done before: I made salad dressing.
I had half a bag of salad in my fridge that I wanted to have with dinner, but I didn’t have any dressing… I thought the situation was doomed.
And yes -I’m one of those spoiled children who hates to eat salad without dressing. Anyway, I don’t think the salad appreciates being eaten while naked.
Just my opinion.

Using Google and a scrappy attitude, this is what my daughter and I came up with. I had no idea what the end result would be, but I am officially in LOVE! It’s now going to be a staple in my fridge.

It’s now our signature house dressing!

You’re Going To Need:
1/2 C. Mayonnaise
1/3 C. White Vinegar
1 tsp. Vegetable Oil
2 Tbsp. Dark Karo Syrup
2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese (from the shaker!)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Italian seasonings
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 Tbsp (or to taste) Lemon juice

Beat all ingredients with a fork until smooth.
Dressing will be thin.

My little kitchen companion:

I adapted our recipe from the one found HERE.

Posted in From Scratch, Miscellaneous, Side Dishes | Leave a comment