Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Simple Veggie Stir-Fry

For a meatless Monday meal, this recipe could not be any easier. I also believe the Bear is finally coming to grips and believe it or not, enjoying meatless Monday. Remember all the trouble I had in the past? Lately, he's been complementing my vegetarian meals. I just keep saying, "Shut the front door! I'm glad." While a lot of my stir-fry/ Asian inspired dishes look the same, this one had one key difference- coconut oil. The coconut oil added an amazing depth of flavor to this incredibly simple dish. I highly suggest you try it for your next meatless meal.

Simple Veggie Stir-Fry

8 oz. brown rice spaghetti noodles
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 12 oz. bag frozen vegetable stir-fry blend
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cook noodles according to package directions. Heat coconut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables, edamame, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, while the noodles cook (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile, in a small dish, whisk together the soy sauce, peanut butter, sriracha, and sesame oil until smooth. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat. Drain the noodles. Add the noodles. Toss again to coat and serve.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

How has your weekend been? Ours has been so relaxing. After being so busy this summer, it has been nice to not have a whole lot on the weekend agenda but cleaning, prepping for the week ahead, and absolute relaxation. It's even better when the Bear pitches in and helps me clean. Score!

And a score for the Bear since I left the mushrooms off the grocery list and did not include them in this evening's Sunday Salad. We've been eating in a lot these days and neither one of us is minding one bit. Unless it is out of convenience or for something out of the ordinary, I feel like I can make a lot of restaurant dishes at home for a lot less money. This salad is one I used to get when I wanted a good entree salad. Bacon and onions are deglazed in the pan with a douse of balsamic vinegar mixed with brown sugar and Dijon mustard to make a stellar warm dressing that wilts the spinach ever so perfectly. Served with a hard boiled egg and golden raisins for sweetness and you've got one amazing entree salad!

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

1 bag baby spinach
1/4 cup golden raisins
8 slices center cut bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced

Place the spinach in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle the raisins over the spinach. Set aside. Place the bacon and onions in a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon and onions begin to brown (about 8 minutes). Add the vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Stir until combine. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken and reduce. Remove from heat and pour over the spinach and raisins. Toss to coat. Top the salad with the sliced hard boiled eggs and serve.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Feeling Like Fall Menu Post

In less than 24 hours it will be fall! I think I love about every season, but fall is special because of the beautiful colors, its shear coziness, and the prelude to the upcoming holiday season. The Bear and I are just soaking it all in. All of our fall decorations are out on display. My favorite fall scented candles are arranged throughout the house. The only thing left is to find a huge pumpkin or two or maybe three. I'm even thinking about getting some more decor for outdoors. I guess this recent cold front has me feeling pretty domestic today.

This week's menu says sayonara to summer and welcomes fall. Sunday marks the last of the Sunday Salad series with one of my favorite restaurant salads- Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette. The salty-sweet, warm-cold combination is a perfect match to the changes we experience during the fall season. Meatless Monday this week includes a little veggie stir-fry dish I created last weekend. Super simple, super tasty through the use of a few pantry ingredients and frozen stir-fry veggies. Then later in the week, I am planning on serving classic meatloaf. Nothing fancy, just plain ol' make ahead comfort food. Finally to end the work week, I will be whipping up a stellar deep dish pizza recipe with one of my newest kitchen tools. Bring on the pumpkins because fall is finally here!

Sunday 9/22          Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette and Cheese Toasts

Monday 9/23         Veggie Stir-Fry with Brown Rice Noodles and Edamame

Tuesday 9/24         Leftovers

Wednesday 9/25    Classic Meatloaf with Chive Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Thursday 9/26        Leftovers

Friday 9/27 or        Gluten Free Deep Dish Pizza with Caesar Salad
Saturday 9/28

Here is what you will need:

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 package center cut bacon
1 package deli ham
1 bunch fresh chives
1 bag mini Yukon gold potatoes
1 yellow onion
1 shallot
1 bulb garlic
1 bag baby spinach
1 bag chopped romaine lettuce
1 container golden raisins
1 jar roasted red peppers
1 jar kalamata olives
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 box gluten-free Bisquick
1 package gluten-free brown rice spaghetti noodles
1 package gluten-free flat bread or pizza crust
1 bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 bag frozen shelled edamame
1 bag frozen green beans
1 bag shredded Parmesan cheese
1 bag shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1 bag shredded Swiss cheese
1 package provolone cheese

Pantry items you will need:

Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin coconut oil
Sesame oil
Balsamic vinegar
Brown sugar
Gluten-free soy sauce
Peanut butter
Dried onions
Garlic powder
Poppy seeds
Salt and pepper

Enjoy the beautiful weather!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Srircha Reubens

TGIF!!! So very glad to be at home and typing this post. The weather outside is nothing short of outstanding and I cannot wait to enjoy it with the Bear. Now, about this little gem of a sandwich. Cyclone fans, how about those adorable little toothpicks? I know the Clones are off this week, but I thought maybe this might be the luck our team needed for next week's game. Ha ha!

We made these sandwiches last night just as the cold front moved through. It was pouring down rain and the Bear's slow pitch softball game was cancelled. Perfect weather for a hot sandwich. In this particular sandwich, I've taken the classic Reuben and added some modern elements worth trying. Have you tried sriracha yet? If yes, you understand the addiction. If not, then I suggest you go to the Asian food isle in your nearest grocery store and buy some. The sriracha mixed with the mayo adds the perfect amount of sweet heat that cuts through some of the overly creamy mayo textures adding for a unique flavor experience. This sandwich is the perfect step in the sriracha direction.

Sriracha Reubens

8 slices whole grain gluten-free bread
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup canned sour kraut, drained
1 package deli turkey meat
4 slices sliced 2% Swiss cheese

Heat your skillet or a panini press to medium-low heat. While the press is heating, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, and sriracha sauce in a small bowl until smooth and combine. Spread over 4 slices of bread. Top with the sour kraut, turkey, and cheese. Cover the sandwiches remaining bread slices over the cheese. Place on the skillet or panini press and grill for 5 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and the bread is lightly toasted.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Bake

I cannot tell you how incredibly stoked I am to share this recipe. Let's just say there might be a lot more make ahead quinoa bakes coming this season. This particular creation just happened to be the perfect meal for a cold, rainy, meatless Monday.

Let's talk quinoa (pronounced KEENWA) a little bit shall we? This ever so popular and mispronounced ancient seed commonly used as a grain is incredibly versatile. I've used it in many dishes as a gluten-free alternative for pizza crusts, pasta, rice, couscous, you name it just to change things up a bit and take advantage of all the nutritional powers. Yes, quinoa is super powerful. These little suckers are packed with protein and amino acid chains equal to a cut of meat. Pretty stellar right?! I am just amazed. Here I've taken my classic make ahead Broccoli Penne Mac recipe and vamped the whole dish up by switching out the pasta to quinoa. While I was already super excited about this, I got even more excited when the Bear said this was the best quinoa recipe I had ever made. So if you haven't hopped on the quinoa trendy-train or have been afraid your loved ones might not enjoy it, this recipe is for you.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Bake

Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup water
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 cup dried quinoa
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
4 oz. cubed 2% processed cheese such as Velveeta
1 bag steamed frozen broccoli florets
1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese

Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Bring the water, milk, and ground mustard to a boil. Add the quinoa. Stir, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes or until the liquid is mostly absorbed. While the quinoa is cooking, steam the broccoli in the microwave for 5 minutes and heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes or until the onion softens. Add to the quinoa mixture. When the liquid is mostly absorbed in the quinoa mixture add the broccoli, then gently stir the cream cheese and processed cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese is melted. Pour the mixture into your casserole dish and top with the shredded cheddar. At this point you can cover the dish and store until you are ready to bake and serve. When you are ready to bake and serve, place the dish in a cold oven. Set to 350 degrees and cook until the cheese on the top of the dish begins to bubble and turn golden brown around the edges.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spiced Lentil & Rice Salad

I think I'm already experiencing weekend withdrawal even though it is still Sunday. It has just been such a great weekend I hate to see it go so quickly. The weather has been outstanding, the Bear and I have done some major relaxing, and we've watched a lot of football. Besides errands, cleaning, and typical weekend things it has just been a nice weekend. The perfect taste of fall. I must say it is nice to send the weekend off with this warm, spicy, lentil salad.

I made a similar dish a couple of years ago when I served my tapas menu. When I was planning the menu for the week, I thought the lentils would make the perfect salad. This salad is not your ordinary salad. Served room temperature or somewhat warm, I've taken some very Spanish tapas elements and turned the dish into an entree. Packed with fiber, anti-inflammatory agents, and tons of great flavor this salad is the perfect, nutrient rich dish for a fun tapas menu or a detox meal from a glutenous weekend.

Spiced Lentil and Rice Salad
inspired by Cooking Light

4 cups water
1 cup dried green lentils
1 lemon, cut into quarters seeds removed
1/4 teaspoon ground gloves
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Juice of 2 lemons

Place water, lentils, lemon wedges, ground cloves, and the bay leaves in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Then, place the cover over the sauce pan at an angle, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain and discard the lemon wedges and bay leaves. Set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes or until the onion begins to soften and turn translucent in color. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and next 7 ingredients to the lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the lentils, rice, onion mixture, cilantro, parsley, and mint in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon juice. Toss until evenly coated. This dish can be served immediately while still warm or can be chilled and served later. Either way it is delicious!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Thinking Fall Menu Post

While it is still technically summer, the cooler weather and football season are encouraging me to begin thinking fall. Yes, fall! I have to admit, the late summer heat wave had me in a major recipe stump since the Bear was limiting my use of the oven. During the summer this is not a problem, but once the school year starts it puts a cramp in my meal preparation. In hopes that we are past 95+ degree weather I have a great autumnal menu post for you all this week. Continuing with the Sunday Salads theme through September, I have a toasty taste of Spain for you with my Spiced Lentil and Rice Salad. Monday is calling for temps to only fall in the 60's, so I am planning on whipping up a new make ahead dish with the use of one of my favorite gluten-free grains quinoa in a Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Bake. Wednesday I will be creating an updated spin on the classic Reuben sandwich. Finally to wrap up the work week, I plan to remake on of my favorite recipes I made last fall- Sage and Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken. It's time to get cozy up in here and I am so excited! Here is the rundown:

Sunday 9/15          Spiced Lentil and Rice Salad with Gluten-Free Focaccia

Monday 9/16        Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Bake with Steamed Baby Carrots

Tuesday 9/17        Leftovers

Wednesday 9/18   Sriracha Reubens with Oven Fries and Veggies

Thursday 9/19       Leftovers

Friday 9/20           Sage and Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Here is what you will need:

4 bonless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package deli turkey
1 package prosciutto
1 bag baby carrots
3-4 roma tomatoes or 1 pint grape tomatoes
2 yellow onions
1 shallot
1 bulb garlic
3 lemons
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 bunch fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh sage
1 can sour kraut
1 bag lentils (any variety will do, I will be using green)
1 box brown rice
1 box quinoa
1 loaf gluten-free bread
1 bag frozen broccoli florets
1 bag frozen green beans
1 package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar
1 pacakge 2% Swiss cheese
1 package 2% Velveeta cheese
1 pint 2% milk

Pantry items you will need:

Extra virgin olive oil
Champagne vinegar
Bay leaves
Ground cloves
Ground cumin
Curry powder
Garam masala
Garlic powder
Ground mustard
Onion powder
Ground tumeric
Salt and pepper

Hope you have a fantastic weekend! I look forward to sharing all of these recipes with you this week!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Wonderful Night

Hey everyone! Sorry I've been MIA on the blog the last week or so. I've just been living in the moment and enjoying every sweet second of it. Over the weekend family arrived for the Region III Kansas Teacher of the Year Banquet. It was such a wonderful, memorable event.

That is me with the state commissioners of education. I received a beautiful framed certificate for my nomination.

From left to right, our district's secondary teacher of the year, our superintendent who I so admire, and me. Many thanks to my family, the Turner community, all of my colleagues, and students! I will never forget this!

I hope to be back to regular blogging this coming weekend when life settles down a bit with more tasty, gluten-free recipes, menus, and grocery lists. Until then please visit past menus and recipes. I am so grateful for your viewership!

Monday, September 2, 2013

My Wendy's Baja Salad

One of my favorite fast food salads is Wendy's Baja Salad. The best part is the side of chili that comes along with the salad. It doesn't matter what the season, I love that salad.

It is hard to really even call this a "recipe" because all I really had to do was chop the lettuce and make the pico de gallo. I made my pico by simply chopping 1 cup tomato, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 of a red onion, and 1 seeded jalapeno. I placed all ingredients into a medium sized dish. Then I squeezed 1/2 of a lime over the mixture, sprinkled a little salt and sugar, and tossed it all together. You could even save yourself more time and effort by using bagged lettuce and store bought pico de gallo. Regardless, the salad is so colorful and looks way fancy, but with very little effort. This is my copycat version of Wendy's Baja Salad you can make in the comfort of your own home.

My Wendy's Baja Salad
inspired by Wendy's Baja Salad

8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup shredded 2% Colby-Jack cheese
4 cups leftover chili, gently reheated
2 cups pico de gallo
4 tablespoons prepared guacamole (I used Wholly Guacamole)
4 tablespoons prepared ranch dip or ranch dressing
Tortilla chips

Divide the lettuce among 4 large bowls. Next, layer 1/4 cup of the cheese, 1 cup chili, 1/2 cup pico de gallo, 1 tablespoon guacamole, and 1 tablespoon ranch onto each bowl of lettuce. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cheddar & Pickle Spiked Chicken Burgers & a Leftovers Menu Post

Happy Labor Day weekend! What better way to end summer than with a good burger recipe? This one is sure to please as it has some of the condiments already inside the burger. I'll keep this post short so you can run to your kitchen and get these burgers ready!

Cheddar & Pickle Spiked Chicken Burgers
inspired by Weight Watchers

1 lb. ground chicken breast
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons dill pickle, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cubed 2% cheddar cheese (I cut them into 1/4-inch cubes)
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Penzy's 4S)

Preheat your grill to medium heat. Mix all ingredients together until combined in a large bowl. Let set 5 minutes to allow the flax to bind the ingredients together. Divide the mixture into 4 even sections. With your hands, form each section into a patty. Make sure to press a small indentation into the center of each patty so the burgers do not shrink on the grill. Place on the grill. Grill for 5-6 minutes, flip, and grill for 5-6 minutes more. Serve with your favorite hamburger buns and toppings.

P.S. This week's menu post will not include a grocery list. I am planning on using a lot of leftover ingredients from the deep freeze that need to be used before frosty takes over. This week's Sunday Salad is my version of one of my favorite fast food salads made slightly healthier. I plan to use some leftover chili I made way back in July when I got a mean hankering for Wendy's chili.  I've also found another use for the Late Summer Veggie Sandwich recipe by turning it into a pizza. Here is this week's rundown:

Sunday 9/1          My Wendy's Baja Salad with Tortilla Chips

Monday 9/2         Late Summer Veggie Pizza with Tomato-Mozzarella Salad

Tuesday 9/3         Leftovers

Wednesday 9/4    Southwestern Chicken Salad Wraps with Veggies and Chips

Thursday 9/5        Leftovers

Next weekend I don't have much on the agenda as family will be arriving for the weekend we've been waiting for...the Region III Kansas Teacher of the Year Awards Banquet!! It should be a very exciting week around here. I look forward to keeping you posted throughout the week.