Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Soup- Savory Sweet Potato with GF Cranberry Cheddar Braid

Do you ever feel just really hungry? Like the kind of hungry where you feel like you're constantly eating, but nothing seems to fill you up. That is the kind of hungry I've been feeling lately. Last week was the first time I was able to start working out again since August. I'm just walking for 30 minutes every other day to ease back into things. It has felt really good to get out, clear my head, and enjoy the gorgeous fall weather. Towards the end of the week, though, I think my body started noticing the calorie deficit. Good news, this meal finally filled me up and emulated all the fall flavors that make for a heart warming meal.

I could go on and on about the soup, but the Cranberry Cheddar Braid plays a shining star in this meal. I used to think anything that involved braiding a bread seemed incredibly too complex, but surprise it's not. Being I cannot even braid my own hair very well, braiding bread really just involves laying the strips of dough on top of one another. And, because it's been quite some time since there's been a recipe post you lucky readers are getting two recipes in one amazing post. 

Savory Sweet Potato Soup
adapted from Cooking Light

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 small or two large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups gluten-free reduced sodium chicken broth
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, thinnly sliced
4 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled

Swirl the extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a large soup pot. Heat over medium-low heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Add the sweet potatoes, chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, and sage. Raise the heat to medium-high and simmer for 30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft. Remove from heat. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender, food processor or blender until smooth. To serve, top with the Parmesan and bacon.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Cheddar Braid

2 cups gluten-free pizza mix (I used Domata)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/8 cup gluten-free flour, for dusting
1/4 cup light cheddar cheese (I used Cabot's light extra sharp white cheddar)
4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cut into slices
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pizza mix, water, and butter until combine. Set aside. Dust your counter top or a clean surface with flour. Place dough on top of the flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large oval about 1/4 of an inch thick. Transfer the dough to your baking sheet. In the middle of the oval, layer the cheddar cheese. Place the cream cheese on top of the cheddar. Sprinkle the cranberries over the cream cheese. Using a knife, cut strips along the sides of the dough. Overlap the strips one over the other to form the braid. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the dough begins to turn light brown. Remove from the oven. Let the braid cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Guess Who's Back Menu Post

After a much needed social media break, I am back. We have really been through a string of bad luck and misfortune these past few weeks. Part of my healing process, which I will eventually discuss when I am ready, was to cut myself off my regular daily Facebook/Pinterest/blog reading ritual. I truly love all of my family, friends, followers, and this blog. Family and friends are what help you get through those tough times. For what we were/still are going through, social media was too much too soon. I thank you in advance for your patience, understanding, and continuing to read this humble little blog.

Now let's talk food shall we? I am so excited to share these fun and tasty recipes with you! This week's menu sort of fell together via my latest magazine reads I received this week. Halloween may be this week, but after visiting my family last weekend I am already thinking about my favorite holiday Thanksgiving. Cooking Light, Food and Wine, and Bon Appetite, were chuck full of so many goodies that I cannot wait to try. Food and Wine has outdone themselves with all of their gluten-free desserts. From all those who live gluten-free we thank you! The recipe that really caught my eye for this week's Sunday Soup, however, comes from Cooking Light. I've been wanting to experiment with a couple sweet potato soups for a while, but have found them to be a little too much on the dessert side. Cooking Light's recipe has some interesting spices that make the soup more dinner worthy. My plan is to take all into consideration and make a savory soup that will be useful for your everyday arsenal as well as one that you might want to use as a Thanksgiving meal starter. For meatless Monday, I have a quick and easy grilled vegetarian sandwich on the menu with a side of zucchini fries. Midweek I plan to use some ingredients that will already be prepped and ready to go in an awesome nacho bake, perfect to throw in the oven for a quick beggars night meal. Finally, to top the busy week off we will be enjoying some gluten-free pretzel coated chicken fingers with a side of football watching over the weekend. It is going to be a spooktacular week of eats! Here is the rundown:

Sunday 10/27          Savory Sweet Potato Soup with Cranberry Cheddar Braid and Spinach Salad

Monday 10/28        Grilled Pesto and Tomato Sandwiches with Zucchini Fries

Tuesday 10/29         Leftovers

Wednesday 10/30    Layered Nacho Bake with Tossed Salad

Thursday 10/31        Leftovers

Friday 11/1              Gluten-Free Pretzel Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Dip and Broccoli

Here is what you will need:

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 lb. chicken tenders
1 package center cut bacon
2 large sweet potatoes
1 onion
6 roma tomatoes
1 bunch green onions
1 bag shredded lettuce
1 bag spinach
1 container prepared pesto
1 bag dried cranberries
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies (such as Rotel)
1 15 oz. can refried beans
1 small can diced green chilies
1 package gluten-free taco seasoning
1 box reduced sodium, gluten-free chicken broth
1 bag gluten-free pretzels
1 bag tortilla chips
1 loaf gluten-free multigrain bread
1 package gluten-free pizza mix
1 bag frozen broccoli florets
1 container light or fat-free sour cream
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar cheese
1 brick light white cheddar cheese
1 package fresh mozzarella cheese
1 package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 carton liquid egg whites

Pantry items you will need:

Extra virgin olive oil
Dijon mustard
Gluten-free flour
Dried gluten-free bread crumbs
Dried bay leaves
Dried Italian herbs
Dried sage
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Enjoy your weekend! Many thanks to my family, friends, and colleagues for all of your support. I am so happy to be back blogging and sharing my gluten-free recipes with you!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Copycat Starbucks Veggie Brown Rice Bowl

Vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free home slices, or people who just want to feel good about what they are putting into their bodies come hither. This is the recipe for you. This recipe is also one for those looking to power up on health, but not give up on flavor. I don't like to talk in all caps, but YOU NEED TO TRY THIS RECIPE!!!!

Yes Marilyn and Erin Nickel, I got Justin to eat this. Yup, all those veggies in that bowl except the beets. And, you know what? He said he liked it. I too was a little nervous about serving this to my Midwestern, Iowa, beef eating Bear. He reluctantly tried it and said, "Dang, this is pretty good." So, I swear to you America your veggies really can taste good especially in this recipe totally inspired by Starbucks. They got you to love all those freakin' sugar loaded coffee drinks right? Take my hand and eat your veg America!!

Copycat Starbucks Veggie Brown Rice Bowl

For the dressing:

1/2 cup tahini paste
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha

For the bowl:

1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
4 cups fresh broccoli
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes
2 cups red cabbage, shredded
4 beets, roasted and peeled (I used Melissa's)
1 cup frozen edamame, shelled and thawed
4 cups cooked hot brown rice
Tahini dressing (ingredients above)
Additional sriracha sauce for garnish

To make the dressing: Place all ingredients in a mason jar. Whisk together until incorporated. Seal with a lid and store until  ready for use.

To make the bowl: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Place the kale, broccoli, and squash in a large bowl. Pour the coconut oil and soy sauce over the kale, broccoli, and squash. Toss until coated. Spread the veggie mixture onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the kale begins to crisp. Remove from the oven. To assemble the remainder of the bowl, divide the rice among four bowls (about 1 cup per bowl). Divide the kale, broccoli, and squash over the rice. Toss in 1/2 cup red cabbage, the sliced beets, and 1/4 cup edamame per bowl. Drizzle with Tahini dressing and serve.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

I know I've probably said this a time or two before, but I really, really love soup. So humble, so simple, but so soul satisfying. This week's Sunday Soup is just that and so much more with all of its veggie power.

While I was making this soup, I kind of felt like I had an Italian giardiniera simmering away. This recipe pretty much is the kitchen sink of vegetables combinations- carrots, celery, onions, a potato, cauliflower, tomatoes, and sweet roasted red peppers. You can count on this recipe to fulfill a couple of your daily veggie servings and you can make it ahead. Like most soups, the flavors get better with time. Yes indeed.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
adapted from Weight Watchers

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped
1 12 oz. bag frozen cauliflower
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups low sodium, gluten-free chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 bay leaf
1 16 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

Heat the oil over medium low heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the potato, cauliflower, tomatoes, chicken broth, thyme, Italian herbs, and bay leaf. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the potato begins to break apart when pierced with a fork. Remove from heat. Remove the bay leaf. Add the roasted peppers. Cool for 10 minutes. Then, in a food processor or blender, process or blend the soup until smooth. Reheat before serving.

Short & Sweet Menu Post

This week is a pretty short menu week in the Nickel household. I have parent-teacher conferences and will be putting my extra hours in at work. The Bear's schedule has freed up some since softball is over for the year, but with me being out, there won't be much happening in the kitchen. Being we are still recovering emotionally and myself physically, it is okay. But, I still have two great, healing dinners planned that will nourish body and soul until things go somewhat back to normal.

This week's Sunday Soup, Roasted Red Pepper, is one I've wanted to try making myself for a few years now, but never really got around to it. I also took the liberty of using a few shortcuts to save myself a little time. Next on the agenda, is a copycat version of Starbucks' Veggie Brown Rice Bowl. I noticed their new items popping up on the food scene over the summer and thought other than for convenience, why couldn't I do it myself? So, I took the liberty of making my own homemade version. Not to mention that the leftovers make for great lunches and leftover dinners throughout this busy week. Here is the rundown:

Sunday 10/13          Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Spinach Artichoke Bread

Monday 10/14         Copycat Starbucks' Veggie Brown Rice Bowl

Tuesday 10/15         Leftovers

Wednesday 10/16-    Leftover Soup & Sandwiches
Friday 10/17

Here is what you will need:

Sandwich fixings (deli meat, gluten-free bread, etc.)
1 package precut and wash broccoli florets
1 package roasted baby beets (I am using Melissa's already prepared beets)
1 package shredded red cabbage
1 bunch kale
1 bulb garlic
1 large russet potato
1 onion
2-3 lemons
1 bag or box brown rice
1 jar tahini paste
1 can artichoke hearts
1 16 oz. jar roasted red peppers
1 can diced tomatoes
2 boxes low sodium, gluten-free chicken broth
1 bag frozen cauliflower
1 bag frozen edamame
1 bag frozen cubed butternut squash
1 box frozen spinach
1 container light or fat free sour cream
1 box 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 container grated Parmesan cheese

Pantry items you will need:

Extra virgin coconut oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Sesame oil
Gluten-free soy sauce
Garlic powder
Dried Italian herbs
Dried thyme
Salt and pepper

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rosemary Balsamic Chicken

I feel like I keep saying things are crazy. Then, I look back and regret saying it was "crazy" because life is just getting crazier. To top it all off, one of the most embarrassing things happened as I was leading a meeting yesterday. I recently updated my iPad to iOS7. The update was working fine until one of the books I needed to discuss to run the meeting somehow disappeared out of my iBooks library. I thought, "Well, I will just re-download it and it will all be fine," but alas, it would not let me download the book again because iTunes said I had already redeemed my certificate for the book. I must admit my tech skills are comparable to the average person. With a little bit of pecking I can usually figure out the problem myself, but being I was under pressure I needed some help. This would have been no big deal. I am not ashamed to ever ask for help except for some of the other hot romance books I downloaded a long time ago and forgot about all showed up as my tech savvy instructional coaches were helping me solve the problem. They were laughing, I would too, but I was sweating and trying to control the meeting. My face was bright red. Go figure! I cannot hide all my feelings because I wear my heart on my sleeve. Looking back on the whole situation it was hysterical and the comedic icing to top off my crap week. Lesson learned. I will no longer download any more steamy romances on my iPad. I also figured out how to create different libraries within iBooks to hide the Fifty Shades of romance I tried to delete or cloud so the average tech helper won't automatically see them in my library. Oh well, nothing a glass of wine and a nice meal at home won't cure. Especially one bursting with rustic fall flavors to help me relax.

This meal was so incredibly easy to put together. Steamed broccoli seasoned with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper along side simple roasted red potatoes with this lovely Rosemary Balsamic Chicken. To make the potatoes, I simply quartered 1 lb. red potatoes. Tossed them in 1 tablespoon olive oil, spread onto a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray, sprinkled the potatoes with salt and pepper, and roasted them in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.The hardest part was waiting for the meal to cook. It is just that simple.

Rosemary Balsamic Chicken

1-2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight. When you are ready to prepare, heat your grill to medium-high heat. Using tongs, place the chicken onto the grill. Discard the marinade. Grill for 5-6 minutes. Turn the chicken and grill for 5-6 minutes more. Remove from grill and serve.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Better Butternut Squash Soup

Are you feeling like you have a case of the "Mondays?" Maybe you are feeling a little down or under the weather. If so, I have the Sunday Soup for you!

This week's Sunday Soup- Better Butternut Squash Soup because it just makes you feel better. Comfort in a bowl that is super good for you. Ginger and curry add a nice heat while the creamy coconut milk adds that something special. I topped mine with some crispy kale. Yes, I finally figured out how to make those kale chips everyone has been raving about. I felt like I was having about as much success making kale chips as I have with playing volleyball in junior high. Then, I realized I was making things way to complicated. First, you have to by kale by the bunch not precut. Next, simply toss the leaves, just the leaves, in a little olive oil. Place on a baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 350 for just 15 minutes. That's it. No more more less. It makes for an amazing topping to this soup.

Better Butternut Squash Soup
inspired by my Spiced Pumpkin Soup

1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 shallot, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 cans pureed pumpkin
1 can light unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat a large soup pot over medium low heat. Melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and shallot. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the carrots and celery. Cook another 3-4 minutes or until the carrots begin to soften. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer on low to medium low heat for 20-25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. If you have an immersion blender, you can puree the soup right away while it is hot. If you are using a blender or food process, let the soup cool for 15-20 minutes before blending or processing. Blend or process the soup until it is smooth. Reheat before serving.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Focus on Health Menu Post

Good Sunday morning to you all! I hope today finds you all enjoying the chilly fall weather. We are very much enjoying lots of cozy time at home. Today is our sixth wedding anniversary. Due to some untimely and very personal circumstances, we don't have much planned; but, we did enjoy a nice dinner at one of our favorite farm to table restaurants Renee Kelly's Harvest. I am not really ready to discuss what is going on, but we are hanging in there. We have great friends, family, health, and each other to make it through this very tough time.

When the going gets tough, I tend to sit back and reflect on what I can control and how I can emotionally best handle the situation. One thing I like to take control of is my health and what I am putting into my body. I know crappy food is only going to make me feel like crap. Now more than ever I need to fuel my body and treat it like a shining thorough bread unicorn. While I am not sure what is going to happen this week, I know and am thankful for having a meal plan that will nourish us. Since it is the beginning of fall, I am introducing my new Sunday Soup series. This week's soup- Better Butternut Squash Soup. Comfort in a bowl that we can keep on hand in case I am out of commission to cook. I also have some lovely chicken recipes on hand that can be prepared in a pinch, are healthy, but ever so comforting. I'm not sure what will happen this week, but at least I am armed with a little plan. Here is the rundown:

Sunday 10/6          Better Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Kale and Garlic Toasts

Monday 10/7         Leftovers

Tuesday 10/8         Rosemary Balsamic Chicken with Broccoli and Roasted Potatoes

Wednesday 10/9    Leftovers

Thursday 10/10      Baked Chicken Meatballs with Peperonata 

Friday 10/11 or      Pork Tenderloin with Savory Cherry Sauce, Green Beans, and Quinoa Pilaf
Saturday 10/12

Here is what you will need:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 lb. ground chicken breast
1 lb. pork tenderloin
1 package center cut bacon
1 bag baby carrots
1 bunch celery
2 yellow or white onions
2 shallots
1 bulb garlic
1 lb. baby potatoes
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley
1 box reduced sodium chicken broth
1 jar roasted red peppers
1 jar capers
1 can light coconut milk
1 bag gluten-free dinner rolls
1 bag or box quinoa
1 bag or container dry roasted almonds
1 bag dried cherries
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 bag frozen green beans
1 box frozen pureed butternut squash or winter squash
1 bag frozen dark cherries
1 container liquid egg whites
1 bag mozzarella sticks

Pantry items you will need:

Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin coconut oil
Apple cider vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Corn meal
Dried bay leaves
Ground cloves
Curry powder
Ground ginger
Salt and pepper

Posts may be a little sporadic this week, but I will try my best to get most recipes posted. I thank you in advance for your understanding and patience.