necessity is the mother of invention {& that's why we're here, friends} we dance to the music, we play in the kitchen & sometimes that means one of us breaks the wine glasses {we're not saying who} the cook is a cubicle-warmer/learning & development specialist by day, & a writer/photographer/kitchen goddess by night who has fun inventing healthy things she can actually eat we seriously both need capes & a kick-ass theme song & the baker is a catering delivery superhero; no job too big or too early or too floral not to come home & make magic with a mixer & an oven we are always gluten-free, dairy-free, & magically delicious now, somebody turn up the music! we're about to get our dance on!

28 April 2008

cranberry bean & turkey meatball soup

Introducing: the cranberry bean!!

I hadn’t even heard of tonight’s featured ingredient until the baker & I were perusing the gluten-free section of our local market weekend before last and found said beans in the Bob's Red Mill section {a good brand to know about if gluten is a no-no for you}. Cranberry beans? Really?

The dried bean is cream-colored with deep red streaks that disappear when cooked. And like our other bean-y friends, the cranberry bean (also known as the borlotti bean) is chock full of fiber and protein. Just 1 cup of the beans (dried) contain about 18 grams of fiber, 17 grams of protein, and 20% of daily recommended value of iron. In the proverbial boxing ring of healthy foods, this one floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.



And if you need help remembering all the good stuff iron, fiber, and protein do for you, check any of the previous posts where beans are a featured ingredient.

This is probably the first recipe concocted since the birth of this blog where I actually planned ahead. Don't expect to see a whole lot more of that. Because the dried beans need to be soaked overnight, an impromptu recipe was out of the question. So without further ado, this is what you do ...

Prep
Soak 1. cup cranberry beans in at least 3 c. of water overnight in an uncovered bowl or dish.

Basic Turkey Meatballs
1 – 1 ¼ lbs ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
Salt & pepper
Gluten-free baking mix

Add beaten egg together with ground turkey and baking mix (use enough to bind meatballs, approximately ¼+ cup).

Roll into balls.

Other Ingredients:
½ lb. frozen spinach
28 oz diced tomatoes (2 small cans or 1 large)
½ large yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. dried basil
1 c. chopped carrots
2 – 32 oz. containers vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

After draining beans, place in a large pot on the stove top.
Add tomatoes, spinach, onion, garlic, basil, carrots, and uncooked meatballs
Pour in broth until all other ingredients are covered.
Cover and simmer on low for 2 hours, stirring periodically.

Serving suggestion:
Try with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread. It is thick & moist & delicious and better than any gluten-laden cornbread I’ve ever had, I kid you not (but please don’t tell my mom I told you so).

Or, try without meatballs for a vegetarian dish.

photos by kirsten.michelle

22 April 2008

chicken chili & yamfries

The calendar says it’s spring, but a trip out of doors confirms my suspicion that someone has turned the calendar upside-down. When I passed the grocery store on my way to work this morning, the digital display outside said it was 26 degrees, a decidedly un-spring like temperature.

Seriously.

Since I have not yet figured out how I can exert power over nature [or God] to crank the temperature up outside, I’m left to do what I can to generate some heat on the inside. And that my friends, means soup: an soup both easy & delicious [if you can open a can, you can make this. And let's face it, if you can't open a can, there are larger issues at play than what you're going to eat for dinner tonight] and some sweet & spicy oven fries to go with it: food that makes you warm from the inside-out.

Maybe it'll be like Murphy's law: if I start cooking cold-weather food, maybe ... just maybe, the mercury will rise.

Here's to hoping!





Ingredients

Chicken Chili

  • 1 – 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 14.5 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 – 14.5 oz can white kidney (cannelloni) beans, drained
  • Chopped cilantro
  • ½ - 1 tsp. cayenne
  • ½ - 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 c. carrot shreds
  • 1 lb. chicken tenders (white breast meat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Yam-fries

  • 1 lb. Yams
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cayenne (a pinch)

What else you’ll need:

  • Kitchen knife
  • Cutting board
  • Soup pot
  • Skillet
  • Mixing bowl

Featured ingredients:
So by now, you are already aware of my fondness/obsession with beans, be they black, garbanzo, or of the kidney variety. Great for fiber and protein, hooray!! And I’ve introduced the wonderful, tasty, and versatile tomato. Yams however, are a newcomer to the playful cook scene. Here’s the lowdown on a vegetable you’re probably more used to seeing at Thanksgiving or as an ingredient in baby food…

Yams: these tasty little cousins to the potato are good sources of potassium, vitamin B6, and (you guessed it) fiber. Potassium helps control blood pressure and reduce hypertension, while vitamin B6 helps reduce risk of heart attack and stroke by protecting the walls of your blood vessels. Yams also contain diosgenin, a progesterone-like substance that helps support the female endocrine system and may help relieve symptoms of menopause. Go figure!


Directions:

Yam-fries
Cut yams into wedges, approximately ¼” thick.

In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, salt, pepper, and pinch of cayenne. Pour over yam wedges and coat well.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place oiled yams on cookie sheet and bake in oven for 25 minutes. Flip yams with spatula approximately halfway through baking.

Fries are done when edges are slightly browned and yams are tender when poked with a fork.


Chicken Chili
In a large pot, combine diced tomatoes, beans, cilantro, carrot shreds, and spices. Place on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Allow to heat through on low-medium heat for at least 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat. Place chicken tenders in skillet, add salt & pepper. Once chicken is slightly cooked, shred chicken with a pair of forks. Cook until chicken is cooked through.

Add to soup pot and stir.

Enjoy, friends!!

photo by kirsten.michelle

20 April 2008

Pumpkin and spice...make cupcakes taste nice!

Last Sunday I sat at home all day wondering what to do with myself and I had this realization, well maybe not a realization, but a fact that I have this amazing cupcake book and I have not utilized it enough. It is pretty to look at, but I find it much more useful when I utilize it's recipes.

So I was looking through it wondering which one to bake. Vanilla, chocolate, white chocolate, peppermint, lemon, peanut butter, and this isn't even including the type of frosting I had to pair with the cupcake. What is a girl to do? So I went to the next best option...what do I have in the kitchen now and what's the least amount of additional ingredients I have to purchase. And it came up pumpkin. My roommate Michelle had a bunch of the spices needed, I had confectioner's sugar, regular sugar, flour, eggs, that kind of stuff. But I realized that it wouldn't be fair to use regular flour or butter for there is a certain sister, whom I live with, who couldn't partake in the pumpkin spice goodness if I didn't convert them. So in addition to pumpkin I needed gluten-free, dairy-free substitions.

Crazy About Cupcakes
Pumpkin Cupcakes Recipe

Ingredients:
1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter; at room temperature*
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 c. granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour*
2 teaspooons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk*
1-1/4 cups pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*I substituted soy margarine sticks for regular butter sticks. Gluten-free all-purpose baking mix for all-purpose flour. And I substituted plain soy milk for regular milk.


Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Insert liners into medium cupcake pan.
2. In large bowl cream together the buttter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add eggs to the creamed mixture one at a time, mixing afer each addition. Beat well.
3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with milk. Mix until completely integrated.
5. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and beat until smooth.
6. Fill the cupcake liners 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


While they were cooling I whipped up a gluten-free, dairy-free, vanilla buttercream frosting. And it was just as good as a it sounds.


Ingredients and directions:
1/2 cup (1 stick) soy margarine
1/4 cup plain soy milk
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat until smooth.

The end result....pumpkin-licious.



Don't take my word for it or the word of others that have tried them...bake them yourself.

17 April 2008

spicy kick-ass stir-fry with tofu

Seriously. Who doesn't love a good stir-fry?

The great thing about stir-fry is that you really don't need a specific ingredients list; add whatever veggies and flavors you like. This creation came into being when I needed to go through some fresh veggies that were about to spoil and to use up some of those frozen ones, too. I kept adding and adding stuff that looked good.

And it was pretty stinking tasty. Check it out.



Ingredients
Extra virgin olive oil
Red curry paste
White rice vinegar
Sea salt
Firm tofu (1 package), cut into cubes
Green beans
1 Red bell pepper, chopped
½ yellow onion, chopped
Slivered almonds
Shredded carrot
1 package frozen Asian-style veggies
Edamame (frozen, approx 1 c.)

What else you’ll need
Cookie sheet
Kitchen knife
Two skillets (1 small, 1 large)

Directions
After opening the package of tofu, drain liquid and cut into cubes.
Spread out on cookie sheet and put in 350 oven for about 20 minutes
Check about halfway through and turn tofu to ensure it bakes evenly.

In a large skillet, heat up olive oil on medium-high heat.
Add veggies and almonds
Add about 1 tsp. red curry paste and a few good splashes of rice vinegar.
Add salt (to taste).
Stir frequently.
Reduce heat to low while vegetables are still firm (boo-hiss to mushy stirfry!!)

In a separate skillet, heat up olive oil on high heat. Add red curry paste (about 1 tsp) and a few splashes of rice vinegar.
Remove tofu from oven and place in hot skillet.
Add salt (to taste).
Stir frequently, cooking until tofu is golden and crispy on the outside.



Add tofu to vegetable mixture and stir.

Take a deep whiff of your delightful dish. Get a good look at your beautiful food. Now stop staring & eat it!!

06 April 2008

mission: {red curry chicken}

A new taste sensation was born for me when I went to Florida to visit Christianne. Thai is one of those ethnic foods that I can easily enjoy with my gluten & dairy allergies. So naturally, she and Kirk and I went out to their favorite Thai restaurant during my visit. I ordered Christianne's favorite, the red curry chicken.

And oh ... my ... goodness!! It was one of those rare moments of true love at first bite. Not just infatuation or a passing fancy. My taste buds were infinitely happy and welcomed each and every savory flavor with its wide-open little tastebud arms.




I recently had a simliar dish when I went out for Thai food last week and have been on a mission ever since to try and recreate the tasty Thai sensation in my own kitchen. What follows can be added to the file labeled MISSION: Accomplished.

This version of the Thai treat has two varieties of bell peppers which are ripe in nutritional goodness ...

Bell Peppers: Rich in vitamins A & C (nearly 300% of your daily requirement of vitamin C per serving, and over 100% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin A!!), bell peppers are no slouches in the nutrition department. Rich in antioxidants, these babies provide needed protection against free radicals. The red pepper is one of the few foods that contains lycopene which aids in reducing certain types of cancer. Click on the link to read all about the goodness these funky veggies offer!

Christianne, I have to say: this is pretty dang easy. And while sometimes getting take-out is infinitely preferable to cooking, know that you can easily enjoy a steaming hot bowl of yummy Thai heaven in your cozy little cottage kitchen.


Ingredients
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic (you guessed it, chopped)
½ - ¾ c. shredded carrot
Cilantro, a good handful, chopped
1 – 14 oz. can coconut milk {i prefer the "lite" variety}
1 Tbsp. red curry paste
Sea salt, to taste

Brown rice (prepare according to directions)

Optional: instead of rice, try with cooked quinoa (as pictured)

Directions
In a large skillet, pour olive oil and set to medium heat. Add garlic, onion, green pepper, red pepper. Stir occasionally, cooking until onions are translucent.
Add red curry paste, stir.
Add chicken, cook until done.
Add coconut milk (NOTE: be sure to shake well before opening!!).
Add salt to taste.
Simmer on low for 5-10 minutes. Add cilantro just before serving.

Serve over brown rice.

Enjoy the explosion of flavor. And dance, dance, dance all night long.



red curry chicken photo by kirsten.michelle

01 April 2008

six seconds of sisterly silliness

In honor of April Fool's day, I'd like to share the following video with you in which Kaari & I engage in a bit silliness. It should not surprise you that this was the third take.

If you really want to get rolling, here's Take #1. And here's Take #2.

Keep in mind that this video is best enjoyed with a glass of ...


pinooooooooooooooot grigiooooooooooooooo!!

video