Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

Something about birthdays makes me want to make lots of desserts. First there were the Gluten-Free Black Forest Cupcakes earlier this week. Now, I've made lemon bars. I am beginning to think I am becoming more and more domesticated every day.

To be honest, the only other lemon bars I had ever made in my life were whatever came out of the box. This was before my gluten free days. Of course, before going gluten free I didn't like desserts because they made my stomach turn, causing me hours of gut pain later. So, when the Bear requested lemon bars I told him I had to think about it. I almost grabbed for the box, but then did a little research. I wanted to enjoy these bars too!

Had I ever known how incredibly easy lemon bars are to make, I never would have used the box brand in the first place. Knowing I can make these bars gluten-free is even better. Lemon bars are the perfect summer treat. Bursting with sunshiny citrus and a tender shortbread crust, you will want to make these Gluten-Free Lemon Bars for your next summer get together.

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars
adapted from Betty Crocker

For the crust:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup gluten-free sugar cookie mix (I used Full Circle brand)

For the filling:
1 1/4 cup sugar
Zest of 4 lemons
Juice of 4 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
3 eggs, plus 1 egg white
1/4 cup gluten-free sugar cookie mix (I used Full Circle brand)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch by 9 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together the butter and sugar cookie mix until combine. Press the mix into the baking pan. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs, egg white, and sugar cookie mix. Mix until smooth. Pour over the hot crust. Bake for an additional 25 minutes or until no longer jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting and serving. You can lightly dust the tops with powdered sugar for decoration.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hawaiian Chicken

Today was an awesome start to my summer despite the rainy weather. My house is nice and clean. The laundry is done. I made Justin's second birthday dessert and I made this sunshiny, retro of a meal. Hello inner housewife. It's nice to meet you.

I don't know that I've ever made anything with a slice of pineapple on top of it, but maybe it needs to happen more often. Sweet meets perfectly salty in this dish. It brings the mediocre boneless, skinless chicken breast to fantastic heights.

Hawaiian Chicken

2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices deli ham
4 canned pineapple rings

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9" x 9" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. In a small dish, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, and sesame oil until combine. Arrange the chicken in the baking dish. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the chicken. Top each piece of chicken with the Swiss cheese, ham, red pepper, and pineapple. Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Monday, May 27, 2013

GF Black Forest Cupcakes

Happy Birthday to my loving husband Justin or better known as the Bear! I am so lucky to have such a handsome guy who lets me publicly call him the Bear. To celebrate his 34th birthday, he will be getting two desserts. Yes two because it is not very often I get around to making desert.

The first of the birthday fanfare, gluten free Black Forest Cupcakes! Before my grandpa Calderwood passed away, he told me that if I wanted to have a happy husband I needed to make his Doboschtorte and Black Forest Cake. I've made the Doboschtorte about two years ago and it was a) very labor intensive, b) not gluten free, and c) not healthy in the slightest. It had a total of 2 1/2 pounds of butter! Yikes! When deciding on making the Black Forest Cake, I again went to my grandfather's gourmet club recipes. The statistics were not looking good. So, I revamped the recipe by omitting some of the sugar and added portion control through the use of cupcakes. The results were fabulous! And, my grandpa was right. The Bear is very happy indeed.

Gluten Free Black Forest Cupcakes
Makes 6 large cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup gluten-free flour blend (I use Cup 4 Cup)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/4 cup water

For the topping:
1 cup frozen sweet cherries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry liquor)
1 tablespoon water
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Whipped cream in a spray can for decorating

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray your muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with cupcake liners and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, baking powder,  baking soda, and salt until combine. Set aside. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the canola oil, eggs, and water. Pour into the large bowl with your dry ingredients. Mix until just combine. If there are any small lumps, these will cook out. Pour muffin tins with the batter 3/4 of the way full. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Meanwhile, while the cupcakes are cooling. Place the cherries, sugar, kirsch, and water into a small pot. Stir to combine. Raise the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally until a syrup forms for about 15 minutes. You will know the syrup is ready when it coats the back of the spoon. Stir in the almond extract. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

To assemble the cupcakes, cut a 1/2 inch hole into each cupcake. You can sample the plugs or save for another use. Fill each hole with the cherry filling. Top the outer edges with the whipped cream before serving.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Summer Begins Menu Post

Hello sweet friends! I cannot believe this weekend is the unofficial start to summer. Just in time too, as today is sort of the start to my summer vacation!!!! Okay, I still have to go into work this afternoon. My colleague and I volunteered ourselves to help finalize our building's schedule. Scheduling is always a beast. We decided if it was one thing we could get out of the way to ease up the transition back to school in August than we might as well get it over with before we totally check out for the summer. Never a bad thing.

I don't know about you, but I am trying to unwind a little from the whirlwind of the school year. Life is not slowing down though, and I am surly not complaining. I LOVE the start of summer. My dad and step-mom are coming to visit this weekend to celebrate the Bear's birthday. Monday is not only Memorial Day, but also Justin's birthday. Since we've been out-of-town every other weekend since March, the house and pantry are a bit of a disaster. There is a hodgepodge of items that desperately need to be used up before they start to grow something funky on them. I've also got to get something lined up in the form of a birthday cake. With that being said, I have a menu planned; however, a grocery list is not included because I need to rummage through everything so I'm not purchasing more stuff than what we need. Do not fret! My attention will be shifting this week back to many blog posts with wonderful summer recipes. I hope you have not lost all faith. A Nickel's Worth of fabulousness is back!!! Here is the rundown:

Sunday 5/26          Grilled Chicken Thai Salad with Grilled Pineapple

Monday 5/27        Hawaiian Chicken Burgers with Veggies, Black Bean Hummus, & Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday 5/28        Leftovers

Wednesday 5/29  Grilled Salmon Skewers with Greek Quinoa Salad

Thursday 5/30      Leftovers

Friday 5/31 or      Taco Pizza
Saturday 6/1

I know this menu does not make a whole lot of sense, but neither does my pantry right now. To explain, I am hoping we have some leftover grilled chicken for Sunday's meal. I've also purchased and planted most of my fresh herbs to grow over the summer. I am just giddy to start using them, especially for the Thai salad. We also have more chicken in the freezer for my experimentation with the Hawaiian chicken recipe that I thought would be fabulous in the form of a burger. Plus, you can't celebrate Memorial Day without a burger or something that you throw on the grill. I also hope to post my special Black Forest Cupcakes as a bonus for the Bear's birthday. There is a special story connected to these delicious beauties that I cannot wait to share with you. As always all recipes will be gluten-free and healthy! Stay tuned my friends! It is going to be an awesome start to summer!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creamy Lemon Primavera

After three weeks of feeling pretty crummy from my never ending sinus infection and bronchitis, I am clearing up. The sun is shining. There are only 6 days of school left. Things are really looking up for a Tuesday. My disposition could be that of, and I quote from one of my students, "You're kind of like rainbows, unicorns, and chocolate today. That's pretty great Mrs. Nickel."

This recipe does not have rainbows, unicorns, or chocolate in it, but it is pretty great. Brown rice penne is tossed with sunny spring vegetables and a lemony yogurt sauce. The flavor tastes indulgent without the added calories. Pretty great for a Tuesday right?

Creamy Lemon Primavera

2 cups dried brown rice penne pasta
1 clove minced garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 cup asparagus, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add the garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, toss the penne pasta, mushroom and onion mixture, edamame, asparagus, and Parmesan cheese together to combine. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour over the pasta mixture. Stir until combine and pour into the baking dish. Cover and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve. When you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven. Toss the pasta slightly and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Grilled Chicken Cacciatore

Why hello grilling season. Welcome back. I think we got a little spoiled last winter with the mild temperatures. This year is nothing of that nature. We missed you dear sweet grill; Kansas City especially.

Chicken cacciatore is one of my favorite Italian dishes. I happen to enjoy mine with a side of cauliflower mashed potatoes instead of pasta. Traditionally chicken cacciatore takes quite a bit of time to make. My recipe, however, takes almost everything out to the grill to make for a quick and easy Italian meal.

Grilled Chicken Cacciatore
Inspired by Rachel Ray's Grilled Chicken Thighs Cacciatore

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, cut into thick slices
1 red bell pepper, cut into thick slices
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 box mushrooms
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the chicken thighs in a large resealable plastic bag. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and garlic. Pour over the chicken, seal, and shake the bag until the chicken is coated in the marinade. Marinade in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Heat your grill. Line a grilling basket with heavy duty aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place the grilling basket on one side of your grill and add the mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Place the chicken thighs on the grill. Grill the chicken thighs for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken thighs, toss the vegetables, and cook the chicken another 5 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Remove the veggies and chicken from the grill. Place the veggies in a large serving dish. Top with the chicken and serve. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Simple Saturday Menu Post

I feel like maybe I've used that title before. I checked and apparently I have not. The menu this week is in fact super simple. For some odd reason, my immune system just can't kick this sinus infection and bronchitis to the curb. Yup, it's back. So, I went to urgent care bright and early this morning to get prescribed another round of antibiotics. I am hoping to up my fruit intake and probiotics as well to really get rid of this stuff. As I am typing this I've got a magical concoction I'm consuming consisting of water, Bragg's apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. Fortunately, I can't really taste anything but tanginess as I'm sure it probably tastes like an inappropriate word that I don't care to use on my blog. We'll see if said magical concoction works. It must be doing something because I do feel a little less congested. I feel like a snotty, crusty kid. It is amazing I even got my menu and grocery list down on paper between coughing, sneezing, and blowing my nose. Thus, things needed to be really simple. Here's the rundown:

Sunday 5/12          Leftover Grilled Chicken Cacciatore with Cauliflower Mashers

Monday 5/13         Creamy Lemon Primavera with Garlic Toast

Tuesday 5/14         Leftovers

Wednesday 5/16    Hawaiian Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Asparagus

Thursday 5/17        Leftovers

Here is what you will need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package deli ham
1 lemon
1 box mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus
1 onion
2-3 sweet potatoes
1 bulb garlic (if you do not have any from previous lists)
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 small can pineapple rings, canned in pineapple juice
1 jar roasted red peppers
1 canister grated Parmesan cheese
1 bag brown rice penne
1 bag gluten-free rolls
1 package sliced Swiss cheese
1 tub plain non-fat Greek yogurt

Pantry items you will need:

Non-stick cooking spray
Gluten-free soy sauce
Brown sugar
Dried thyme
Salt and pepper

I hope you have a great weekend. I plan on getting lots of rest:)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Isn't spring great? The grass is technicolor green. Leaves are back on the trees. The flowers are illuminating with color. Despite the elevated pollen counts, it is so incredibly beautiful outside. I've pretty much forgotten about the 6 inches of snow that graced us with its presence a week ago. I'm hoping spring has sprung and decides to stick around for a while.

Bikini season is just around the corner. I figured this dish would be just perfect. Bursting with protein and color, these lettuce wraps are a cinch to throw together. Perfect for a light meal, diet plan, or as a lovely addition to a party menu! Eh hem, brides-to-be. Moms-to-be. Any shower throwers out there? You may want to consider this one;)

Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

4 cups cooked and shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
1 tablespoon ginger root, freshly grated
1 head butter or bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried

In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, edamame, red pepper, and carrot until combined. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the yogurt, agave nectar, soy sauce, and ginger. Pour over the chicken mixture. Stir until everything is evenly coated. Serve with the lettuce leaves.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Smoked Mozzarella Penne

So, um I know on my latest menu post this was supposed to be an eggplant pasta concoction. This is not that concoction. Believe me you, it was pretty good. The problem- it took a little more time to put together than what I thought. Some revamping is definitely in order. I'm not out for you to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen. No sir! I want to save you time my friend. Thus, I have a little somethin' that I wanted to share a couple of weeks ago...

You know how I love my make ahead penne dishes. Yes, yes, yes. I am talking to you busy moms! This is another dish for you. Simply dump, stir, put in a baking dish, store until you are ready, bake, and serve. Who does not love a home cooked meal that only took 5 minutes to prepare? I swear it is your secret artillery in the kitchen.

Smoked Mozzarella Penne

2 cups gluten-free penne noodles
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 oz. smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 cup frozen peas

Spray a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into your baking dish. Cover and store until you are ready to serve. When you are ready to serve cover the dish with foil and place in the oven. Set oven at 350 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Slowing Down Saturday Menu Post

Things are finally starting to slow down. Since spring break, I've been on mach ten speed. Even on the weekends. We only have 12 days of school left. The days will be packed with plenty of activity, but the end is in sight. I kind of feel like once school is out, I can finally channel my attention back to taking care of myself and the Bear. While we are always working on having a family, this summer will allow us to be readily available for upcoming appointments that will help us achieve our goal. I feel like it has been difficult this school year to be at the mercy of both my job, personal life, mother nature, and the rigor of fertility specialists. I don't know how some people do it. I'm not saying I can't. It just got to be a little much. 

Now that things are slowing down, I also hope to be back on track with my weekly menu posts. This week is a bit eclectic. As I was browsing through my giant recipe binder, I wanted things that sounded good and could be vamped to meet Drop 10 friendly standards. And, who could forget Cinco de Mayo? With all this in mind, I am planning on a spicy, meaty meal Sunday. Meatless Monday is still on the agenda with a lovely veggie and pasta dish I can make ahead this weekend. Also on the make ahead list is a lovely Asian chicken salad I plan to serve in lettuce wraps. In hopes that next weekend provides for outdoor grilling weather, I hope to make an Italian favorite- chicken caccitore with a side of cauliflower mashers. Here is the rundown:

Sunday 5/5          Steak with Spicy Potato, Artichoke, and Asparagus Salad

Monday 5/6         Feta & Eggplant Penne with Salad

Tuesday 5/7         Leftovers

Wednesday 5/8    Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps with Fruit

Thursday 5/9        Leftovers

Friday 5/10 or      Grilled Chicken Caccitore with Cauliflower Mashers
Saturday 5/11   

Here is a tentative list of what you will need:

1 lb. flank steak or other lean steak cut
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch green onions or chives
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley
1 knob ginger root
1 bulb garlic
1 onion
1 green bell pepper
1 eggplant
1 box mushrooms
1 bag baby carrots
1 head bib or butter lettuce
1 bag salad
1 jar roasted red peppers
1 can whole artichoke hearts (packed in water)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (if you do not have any in your freezer from previous lists)
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 bag brown rice penne
1 bag frozen edamame
1 bag frozen cauliflower
1 can grated Parmesan cheese
1 block feta cheese
1 tub non-fat Greek yogurt

Pantry items you will need:

Balsamic vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
Olive oil
Sesame oil
Gluten free soy sauce
Gluten free Worcestershire sauce
Italian herbs

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Apple & Cranberry Turkey Wraps with Quick Butternut Squash Bisque

I told you I had one more soup recipe up my sleeve. I think the timing is just about spot on too as winter storm Achilles moves through the nation. Actually, this probably won't be the last soup recipe. Last summer, I did make a mean batch of  Spicy Gazpacho in the latter part of July. Who cares what time of year you eat soup anyway? Nothing really says comfort and love more than a great bowl of soup. Especially when paired with an excellent wrap.

This soup took no time at all to make and is wicked good for you. Yes, I said wicked. To save myself some time, I used frozen pureed butternut squash. For a bit a unique flavor, I sauteed my mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onions) in a small dollop of extra virgin coconut oil. To add a healthy dose of creamy without any dairy, I pureed the soup using my immersion blender and added coconut milk. Pair with a Drop 10 friendly wrap and you've got a beautiful, light, easy meal.

Apple & Cranberry Turkey Wraps

4 gluten free wraps (such as Sandwich Petals)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
9 oz. smoked turkey deli meat
4 oz. goat cheese
1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dried cranberries

To make the wraps more pliable to work with, place the wraps on a large microwave safe plate. Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave. Take one wrap, spread 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard over the wrap. Top with 1/4 of the turkey turkey, cheese, apple slices, and cranberries. Roll to wrap. Repeat to assemble the remaining wraps. Place the wraps on a panini press or indoor grill such as a George Foreman. Grill over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until lightly browned on the outside and heated through. If you do not have a George Foreman grill or panini press, simply heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the wraps and place a heavy pan over the wraps. Brown on one side for 4 minutes. Remove the top pan, turn the wraps with a spatula, and brown on the other side for another 4 minutes before serving.

Quick Butternut Squash Bisque

1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot, finely chopped
1 12 oz. box frozen cooked winter squash, thawed
1 13.3 oz. can light coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a medium sized stockpot over medium-low heat. Add the coconut oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften and the onions begin to turn translucent in color. Stir in the butternut squash and remaining ingredients. Lower the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, cool the soup completely before running through a food processor or blender. Gently reheat before serving.