Monday, November 26, 2012

I am thankful for...

My boringly normal family. No holiday drama to report. Everything went swimmingly - I had no food breakdowns and there was only one big exciting thing to happen - my cousin and his wife announced they are having another baby (That's great news!). The weather was gorgeous. As soon as lunch was eaten we spent the afternoon outside playing Frisbee, soccer and cornhole.

Food-wise, I contributed several dishes I was proud of.

To my dad’s family gathering I took:
                Cranberry rice pilaf
                Lemon-garlic green beans
                White chocolate blondies

For Scott’s family gathering at our house I contributed:
                Steamed broccoli (boring, but a good standby)
                Baked zucchini with butternut squash sauce
                Summer sausage, hummus and crackers
                GF brownies

Everything turned out great. For the cranberry rice pilaf, I made baked brown rice adding a finely diced carrot, finely diced celery, and about ½ finely diced onion. I also threw in a little (about a tsp each) cumin and coriander and a bay leaf. Once the rice was baked, I added chopped craisins and walnuts. This was my sub for stuffing. I love stuffing, but I didn’t have the time to look for a GF recipe for stuffing so I just went with something I knew I liked. 

Lemon-garlic green beans are so very easy. I buy the steamer bags of green beans in the produce area of the grocery store. I steam those in the microwave. In a small bowl I mix together 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (I used garlic infused, but the other option is using regular olive oil and adding 2 minced garlic cloves), tsp of Dijon mustard and about a Tbsp of Mrs. Dash Lemon-Pepper seasoning. I add a little salt as well (I like Himalayan or Real Salt, but sea salt works well also). Toss green beans with the “dressing.” I like them room temperature. 

The blondies were from Chocolate-Covered Katie’s blog. I don’t remember who directed me to her blog, but she’s been a lifesaver in terms of vegan and gluten-free homemade desserts. 

For the baked zucchini, I used my food processor (Thank you Scott for the awesome Christmas gift last year), to slice several zucchinis into coins. Put a little olive oil on the bottom of a glass casserole dish, then layered the zucchini with a jar of butternut squash pasta sauce I got at Aldi. This sauce is seriously AH-MAZ-ING. I really need to hit the Aldi this week and see if they have more of this sauce. Anyway, I layer the sauce and zucchini, cover it with aluminum foil and bake it at 400 for about 35 minutes. Scott very lovingly stated “it looks absolutely disgusting, but tastes amazing.” I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not! 

Lastly for the brownies, I used a Hodgson Mill gluten-freebrownie mix, used about 1 cup pumpkin and about ¼ cup melted coconut oil and a tiny bit of coconut milk plus some chocolate chips to make the batter, then baked them according to the directions on the box. They turned out great – fudgy and they got better after they’d sat for a couple days!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

24 hours all to myself!

I somehow ended up with two entire nights and a day all to myself. Annyka is spending the weekend with my sister and Scott went to a computer show a few hours away for the weekend. Last night I "celebrated" by swimming a mile after work then making falafel for myself - I'm pretty sure I'm the only one in this house that likes falafel. Fine by me!

This morning I headed to a kickboxing class at the new YMCA downtown Indianapolis and hit the grocery store for my first Thanksgiving shopping trip. I'll have to go again later this week since I want to make sure I have fresh ingredients for my vegetable dishes.

Here's how my Thanksgiving contributions shake out:

#1  Tomorrow at my mom's sister's:
  • Spinach Salad
  • Chocolate Pie
#2 Thursday lunch at my dad's sister's:
  • Lemon-garlic green beans
  • Cranberry rice pilaf
  • Mashed butternut squash
#3 Thursday dinner at our house with Scott's sisters:
  • Vegetable - eek! Still haven't figured out what it will be
  •  Vegan Brownies and fruit salad
Today I made the chocolate pie and mixed up the dressing for the spinach salad.

Chocolate Pie
8 oz container vegan cream cheese alternative - Tofutti or Trader Joes are the two varieties I know of, but I'm sure there are others.
10 oz dark chocolate chips or chunks
2 Tbsp coffee liqueur
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
1 pie crust of your choice - I used a vegan, gluten-free prepared crust I got from Green BEAN Delivery.

Melt chocolate chips with liqueur using a double boiler or microwave, stir frequently with a rubber spatula. Using a hand mixer or food processor, mix melted chocolate with cream cheese, vanilla and honey. Beat until smooth and well blended. Taste mixture to make sure it is sweet enough for your liking. Add more honey if you prefer. Spread chocolate mixture into pie crust with spatula. Garnish with red raspberries or strawberries and/or chopped nuts. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

This will be very rich, but very yummy. If you wish to have a whipped topping with it, whipped coconut cream is wonderful. Oh She Glows describes that process well.

Since I'm taking such a decadent dessert, I'm also taking a much healthier salad as well.

Spinach Salad
  • Baby Spinach
  • Sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Craisins
  • Crispy bacon, crumbled
  • Walnuts, chopped
Orange-walnut dressing
4 Tbsp walnut oil - which I finally found at TJ Maxx after looking for it for since June!
 4 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlice
dash salt

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Good cookin'

I had another busy week...and guess what, next week will be as well...and the week after that! THEN, THEN, I'm taking a whole week off. With no plans!! But until then...

This week starts out with a Veterans Day program at my daughter's school and a visit from a team from corporate with whom I work directly. Then training several new employees, working on setting 2013 goals and whatever else comes up. The week after will be Thanksgiving so it's a short week of work - sounds exciting except that I know I'll be trying to jam five days of work (plus vacation prep) into three days. In addition, we're hosting a Thanksgiving dinner so we'll have to clean the house that week as well.

I'm so ready to done with going to the chiropractor twice a week - at least that would free up a couple hours.

Anyway, I did do some good cooking this week, I just hadn't had time to post it. This past week included chipotle potato salad, chicken enchilada tacos and cranberry-orange roasted chicken.

Chipotle Potato Salad
8 medium red potatoes
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1/2 bell pepper, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
2 Tbsp vegenaise (or mayonnaise)
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1-2 Tbsp adobo sauce, plus 1 chipotle pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
salt to taste

Bring pot of water to boil. Quarter red potatoes. Boil potatoes in water about 15-20 minutes. You'll want potatoes to still be firm so they don't lose their shape.

Combine vegenaise, mustard, 1 Tbsp adobo sauce, pepper and garlic powder in food processor to pureed pepper. Taste dressing mixture. Add additional adobo if desired.

Once potatoes are done, rinse with cool water and place in a large bowl. Toss will onion, bell pepper and celery. Stir in dressing and mix well. For best taste, place in fridge for about 4 hours before serving. This is a great side dish to grilled chicken with black beans on the side.

Chicken Enchilada Tacos
1 lb chicken breasts, thawed
1/2 can mild enchilada sauce
1/2 small onion
1 4-oz can green chiles
corn tortillas
shredded lettuce
shredded cheese, if desired

Place first four ingredients in crockpot. Cook on high about 2-3 hours, until chicken is fully cooked and easily shredded. Remove chicken from crockpot and place in bowl. Shred chicken - you can do this by using two forks or a mixer.

Warm corn tortillas in microwave or oven. Assemble tacos with lettuce, chicken mixture and other ingredients such as cheese, sour cream, avocado, pico de gallo, etc.

Cranberry-Orange Roasted Chicken
1 whole chicken, thawed
1 can cranberry sauce
1 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp onion powder

Place chicken in crockpot (remove giblets first). In a small bowl, whisk together cranberry sauce, orange juice, salt, pepper and onion powder. Pour over chicken. Cook on high about 3-4 hours.

I took some of this chicken and made chicken salad for my lunch - mixed it with celery, onion, walnuts, craisins, mustard and vegenaise. I love chicken salad.

Tomorrow I'm doing a test run of the dishes I plan to take to Thanksgiving - a rice pilaf and lemon-garlic green beans. I may even attempt a vegan pumpkin pie. Updates tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eek, it's been a while

Almost a week since I last posted. Last week with Halloween plus my normal stuff, my week got away from me. It's almost become a rarity to get home before 7 pm on school nights and since I've been getting up at 5:15 to work out in the morning before work, every day seems so long.

Last week I don't think we had anything exciting for dinner. Twice we ate out - Wednesday BW3 and Friday we had Mexican. The others days were mostly leftovers. At BW3 I asked the waitress for the allergen information/gluten free menu. She didn't know if it existed. Now, here's the thing. I've looked at BW3's allergen info online so I know it exists, but I don't have it memorized (imagine that). Thankfully the manager did have a print out of the info I had see online so I got the naked tenders and buffalo chips with one of the dry seasonings on them. It was tolerable.

I've been eating crappy the last few weeks - I've been lazy and had things like candy, caramel corn and ranch dressing. My body is paying for it. It must stop. And right away. I think I'm going to have to write out a menu to follow between now and Thanksgiving.

Tonight, the rest of the family will have frozen mini pizzas. That will allow me to hog on the roasted brussel sprouts I plan to make. I love these things. How could I have thought I didn't like brussel sprouts? I feel so awful for wrongly judging the cute little cabbagey things. I will also have some spaghetti squash (which I made last week) with it. No meat tonight.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
1 lb brussel sprounts
1 tbsp olive oil*
1 tbsp white wine
ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove any brown or yellow leaves. Cut each sprout in half. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and wine. Spread on a pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper over sprouts. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Serve immediately.