Sunday, December 23, 2012

Are you ready for some Christmas?

Have you missed me? I’ve been working a lot of overtime at work. I feel like I’m in meetings at least half the time at work so I have to find the time to get my regular work done in those few blocks of time without meetings! Thankfully I got all my shopping done the week I was off after Thanksgiving.

My most exciting meal in the past couple weeks was rouladen – rolls of roast beef stuffed with mustard, onions and pickles. I would like to make it with roasted peppers instead of pickles sometime…or maybe with some horseradish. It was pretty good though. I’ve also used the crockpot a lot the past couple weeks – turkey breast with pomegranate molasses glaze, curried butternut squash with spinach and today chicken & rice soup. 

I’ve also been working on some new desserts. My current favorite – cooling right now on the stove – is Upside-Down Pumpkin Pie. It’s gluten free and vegan of course. 

Upside-Down Pumpkin Pie 

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
¾ cup white granulated sugar
¼ cup gf flour
½ cup dairy-free sour cream, such as Tofutti
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups gluten-free pancake mix, such as Bob’s Red Mill
½ cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup coconut oil (melted)

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine filling ingredients. Stir until all ingredients are combined and smooth. Pour mixture into a 9x9 dish.

In another bowl, combine pancake mix, pecans and brown sugar. Mix well. Slowly pour in coconut oil and stir. Mixture should be crumbly. Sprinkle crumb mixture over top of pumpkin.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Allow dessert to cool before serving. This would be great with your favorite vanilla dairy-free ice cream or whipped coconut cream.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Staycation is over

I had all week off last week…you’d think that would mean I would have time to blog more often. You’d be wrong. 

I did spend some extra time in the kitchen, but I also got Christmas shopping done, got caught up on laundry and dishes, and spent a lot of time at the gym. 

The one new meal I’m proud of that will make another appearance in the future is my Thai chicken & rice soup. I made it in the crockpot on Wednesday and even my picky eater was happy to eat it. 

Thai Chicken & Rice Soup
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups chicken broth
1 sweet red bell pepper, diced
½ onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 can coconut milk
1-2 Tbsp thai red curry paste
1 cup white rice
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 bunch broccoli

Place chicken, broth, bell pepper, onion and garlic in crockpot. 
Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours (if chicken is frozen, add another hour). 
Add coconut milk and red curry paste and stir well. Add 1 Tbsp initially. 
Cover and cook another hour. 
Cut broccoli florets into pieces that are the size you want for soup. 
Add broccoli, cilantro and mushrooms into crockpot. Replace cover. Cook for about 30 minutes. 
While the broccoli cooks, steam the rice in water using your favorite rice steaming method. I have a NordicWare microwave steamer I like. 
When rice is ready, stir into crockpot. 
Taste soup. Add salt or more red curry paste if you would like. 
Serve hot. 
Yields about 6 servings.

Dining out Review: P.F. Chang's

My favorite restaurants tend to be locally-owned, but sometimes I like chain restaurants as well. I've found that some restaurants are good about offering allergen information. Some you have to ask for it…sometimes the serving team is prepared; other times, the servers don’t seem to have any idea what’s going on. 

My best experience so far at a chain restaurant has been P.F. Chang’s. I went last week with family and first of all, the gluten-free dishes are all listed in a special area of the menu, but not a separate menu, so you don’t have to ask for anything special. However, I did let my server know when we were seated. 

As soon as I told him I was gluten-free, he told me what on the table I could eat and what I couldn’t. He brought me GF sauces right away and at the end of the meal, he also pointed out the GF dessert options without me having to mention it again. I was impressed with the attentiveness and would happily recommend P. F. Chang’s as a gluten-free option. 

I am curious if Pei Wei, the “faster” restaurant option owned by the same company, does the same in their locations.Let me know if you have any input on this - I haven't tried the Pei Wei in our area yet.