Saturday, June 25, 2011

Catching Up

Unfortunately I have been very remiss in my blogging activities these past couple weeks. This is in part due to the fact that I have been limited in my recipe selection from doing my alternative diet project. As a result, not very many of them became what I would deem "blog-worthy." But I will still post some pictures. I believe my last post was gluten-free. Since then I was vegan for a week and now I am completing my diabetic week. After a month of watching and recording what I eat more closely than normal, I am so ready to be done! I was also sick with two different types of illnesses over the past two weeks, but that is all sorted out now and I hope to get a couple posts in before we leave for Nicaragua on July 1st!

Here are some snapshots of what I have made since I was last on here:

This was a fun gluten-free recipe. I don't remember where I found it, but it wasn't as flavorful as it looks, so it doesn't matter. But I did get to use the fenugreek we got in our CSA basket!

Next is my first vegan dinner. Ryan claimed to know a good way to make tofu (!), so I let him take that part over. He breaded and fried the tofu while I boiled some udon noodles, sauteed green beans, and made an Asian sauce. It was quite tasty!

I don't have ingredient amounts for you, but if you want to try to recreate's what we did.

Ryan mixed cornmeal, flour, and garlic salt together and rolled cubed extra-firm tofu in it. He then fried it in olive oil. We then added sugar snap peas to the pan. Once the udon noodles were done, we added them to the pan as well. Then I tossed in a glug of oyster sauce, a dash of sesame oil, some rice vinegar, a few shakes of soy sauce, and a fingertip of sambal oelek.

This next dish was made from a vegan cookbook I got from the library. It was...unpleasant. Too much dill. To make me feel better, Ryan claimed this was the one meal I've made that he wouldn't want me to make again.

The next dinner redeemed my vegan venture. I decided to go for something that is sort of "naturally" vegan. I settled on a curry. Here's the link to the original recipe, Vegetable Tikka Masala. But below is what I did with it. Just so you know, I omitted 4 onions, the curry leaves, the green chili, the 5 whole cardamon pods, and the 1 tsp Tandoori Masala mix, because I didn't have those things. As you can see, this dish could have had a lot more flavors, but I upped the amounts of some of the other spices and it was very savory.

Vegan Sweet Potato Curry (serves 2)
2 tsp pureed garlic
2 tsp ginger, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp curry powder
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 can of cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 chopped green, red, or yellow bell pepper
3 tbsp coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 tsp tomato puree
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
5 oz saffron yellow rice mix

Cook rice according to package directions.
Heat oil in a pan and add ginger, garlic, and cinnamon. In a bowl, mix together the garam masala, turmeric, curry power, and paprika.


Switch off the heat for 1 minute to allow the pan to cool a little. Add a little oil and add your spice mixture. Switch the heat back on. Gently fry the spices for 1 minute. Add the tomato puree and fry the whole mixture for another 1 minute.
Add the canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and the sugar and put on a gentle simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chickpeas and simmer for a further 5 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked and your sauce is at a desired consistency. Delicious!

Vegan week was by far the hardest for me. To be honest, I hated it. I was craving savory, meaty things, so this curry hit the spot. But I mostly lived on peanut butter and fruit, carrots and hummus, and chips and salsa. Oh, and vegan brownies!! Of which I am ashamed to say, I never took a picture. But I made a 9x13" pan and I think that's the only way I survived the week. I'm sure I will make them again, as they are one of my favorite brownies. Then I'll tell you all about them!

A couple days ago I made this Apple-Carrot Quick Bread and it has completely disappeared! I'm beginning to believe that quick breads do not get their name just from the fact that they contain no yeast, but also because they don't stick around very long on the counter.

Apple-Carrot Quick Bread (adapted from Garden Harvest Cake)
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 grated peeled tart apple 
1 cup grated carrot (about 3) 
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted 
1/4 cup canola oil 
1/4 cup nonfat buttermilk (or 1% mixed with a squirt of lemon juice) 
2 large eggs 

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flours, sugars, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add grated apple, grated carrot, and walnuts to flour mixture; toss well. Combine canola oil, buttermilk, and eggs in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Spoon batter into an loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove cake from pan. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

This was so addictive right out of the oven!

The last recipe I want to show you is Horseradish-Crusted Cod with Lentils. I made it from the Diabetes Cookbook for Dummies and paired it with a salad topped with pumpkin seeds.

 The lentils were very simple...simmer with parsley for 25 minutes, then mix with sour cream and your favorite seasoning mix. The cod was actually simple too...just coat with horseradish sauce and then sprinkle some breadcrumbs over. Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, it didn't photograph well.

 Now, I know this is long, but if you are still with me, I will give you a tour of my herb garden.

On the day I happened to photograph it, I found this little guy perched on top of my sage.

Next is Kentucky Colonel Mint.

An unidentifiable cactus (any help here?).

 Then my Christmas Cactus.

Good ol' Rosemary.

Trusty Jade.

You should know this one...

Beautiful Thai Basil, from my dad!

Cilantro...what would we do without it?

Oregano, from my mother.

My poor aloe plant is turning red. What is going on??

 Regular ol' cactus.

And Texas Tarragon...I'm not a big fan of tarragon. But I'm willing to give it a try. Any recipe suggestions?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Maple-Mustard Grilled Chicken Thighs with Truffle Roasted Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus--Gluten-free

This dinner blew everything I have made since the Croquembouche right out of the water. Ryan and I were "yumming" the whole way through the meal. The recipes for the chicken and potatoes came from Cooking Light, but I tailored them a little to be gluten-free, since this is my gluten-free week!

I have to say, breakfast and snacks are definitely the hardest to do gluten-free. This morning I had tapioca bread. You heard me. Tapioca starch...made into bread. Thankfully I got it on sale for about $2, but otherwise it would have been about $4.50! All of the specially made gluten-free foods are outrageously expensive. Want a bag of bagels? That'll be $7.50. How 'bout 8 chocolate chip cookies? $6. Oh, you want to make your own cookies? Well...$15 for a bag of GF all purpose flour and then don't forget to check your baking powder ingredient label and everything else you use for wheat protein and modified food starch from wheat! It's crazy.

Anyways. This dinner was flat out delicious.

Maple-Mustard Grilled Chicken Thighs

1/3 cup spicy brown mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp low-sodium GF soy sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
8 bone-in skinless chicken thighs (I used four boneless it's your prerogative)

Combine first 8 ingredients. Place half of the mixture in a ziploc bag and reserve the remaining mixture in a bowl to serve. Add chicken to bag and chill for two hours.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill thighs for about 8 minutes on each side or until done. (Ryan did all the I'm not quite sure what method he used.) Serve with reserved sauce.

I made these potatoes because I had been dying to use the white truffle oil my sister and her husband brought back to us from their honeymoon. I'm not putting down any measurements because I didn't measure anything and it just varies with how many potatoes you want to make.

Truffled Roasted Potatoes

Red new potatoes
Olive oil
Garlic salt
Black pepper grinder
White truffle oil
Fresh basil

Preheat oven to 450 F. Wash potatoes and quarter. Place onto a foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. Crack pepper on top. Toss. Bake for 35 minutes or until browned and tender.

Remove from oven and drizzle with truffle oil. Tear basil leaves and sprinkle on top.

As for the asparagus, I just trimmed off the woody stems and Ryan grilled them while basting with olive oil mixed with some kosher salt and cracked black pepper.

All around...very delicious. And not difficult to make gluten-free at all. If you make this meal, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed. I will definitely make this for company sometime!

One of the first things I did after Ryan and I moved to my parents was to start my long-awaited herb garden. I will have to give you the overview sometime. But for now, here's the basil plant that provided its leaves:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dairy-free Blueberry Scones

I made these scones for a Ladies Tea last Saturday. They were my lactose-free baking expedition for the week. I realized too late that I had used real butter (which obviously contains dairy), but that could easily be substituted with margarine in the future.

The recipe came from I was trying to recreate a scone I had made with my friends at one of our past scone parties. (Yes. We have scone parties. And we usually make our scones lactose-free, since one of us is allergic.) I think I didn't find the exact recipe we had used, but it comes close.

Here is my version:

Dairy-free Blueberry Scones

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup margarine, chilled
1 cup blueberries (fresh is best)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2 tbsp raw sugar

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut margarine into mixture of flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add blueberries and toss to mix.

In a separate bowl, beat together applesauce and egg. Slowly pour into dry ingredients, stirring with a spatula until a dough forms. Knead gently a couple times.

Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, form each half into a 6 inch round. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Cut into wedges.

Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for about 20 minutes and serve warm!

The nutrition facts only apply if you make 12 scones. I made about 20 from one batch. It's up to you.

Nutrition Facts
User Entered Recipe
  12 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 144.7
  Total Fat 4.5 g
      Saturated Fat 0.6 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 2.3 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
  Cholesterol 15.4 mg
  Sodium 230.4 mg
  Potassium 62.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 25.5 g
      Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
      Sugars 8.9 g
  Protein 2.9 g


They were quite good, although not very sweet (at least to me). They are not dry...which is the initial concern when removing dairy from a recipe. On the contrary, they were quite moist!

And my spare time I have been melting chocolate and dipping strawberries. What else am I supposed to do when berry prices hit rock bottom??