Monday, October 29, 2012

Broccoli Penne Mac

How was your Monday? It was not the worst of Mondays, but not the best. Really, it was kind of an "eh" day. I don't know what it is lately, but a lot of my days have been kind of "eh." I'm not really that stressed out. Okay, that is really sort of a lie. Actually, it dawned on me last night that I am less than a month away from having surgery. I have not said much about this, as I really try to keep the conversation rather light around here. After our big visit with the reproductive specialist, they confirmed that my left fallopian tube is in fact blocked. Like a clogged pipe, this is causing nasty fluid and scar tissue to back up into my other lady parts. Thus, not making a very hospitable environment for a baby. On top of that, we also discovered that my egg reserve is low just by the genes I've received and that we no longer have time on our side. They want to perform laparoscopy to see if they can either repair the tube or remove it because it is no longer functioning and causing me more issues than what I already have going on. We've decided to forgo our typical travels over Thanksgiving so I don't have to take too much time off from work. After I heal from the surgery, the doc said we will most likely have to do injections to get me regulated and ovulating on my right side. Long story short, I have a lot on my mind. So, I went to the gym after work and sweated some of my anxiety out. Better than internalizing it all like I normally do, which normally makes me barf. Really, I kind of have that problem like Stan on South Park. I tend to throw up when I get really nervous. Ha!!

Enough about that. When I really need to calm my stomach down, I tend to prefer meals that are a little less flamboyant than my regular spicy, ethnic tastes. Mashed potatoes, cheese, and pastas do the trick. Just like this evening's meal which contains two of the above- pasta and cheese.

This was so comforting, cheesy, and exactly what I needed on an "eh" kind of day. I was able to sneak in some veg with the lovely broccoli addition. A sprinkle of paprika gave the dish a happy retro feel. You can assemble this meal ahead of time and as usual there is no need to bother with boiling the noodles or adding any additional starches. G-free comfort food baby!

Broccoli Penne Mac
inspired by Weight Watchers

1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow or white onion, chopped
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese
8 oz. 2% Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
2 cups brown rice penne noodles
2 cups broccoli
Salt and pepper to taste

Spray a 9' x 13' baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion becomes translucent. Pour in the milk and cheeses. Stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Toss the noodles and broccoli together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese mixture, stir until evenly coated (the mixture will be soupy), and pour into the casserole dish. Cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake and serve. When you are ready to bake, remove the dish from the refrigerator and let set at room temperature for at least 15 minutes while you oven preheats at 350 degrees. Bake in the oven for 30-30 minutes or until bubbly in the middle. Give the pasta a little stir before serving and enjoy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Perfectly Pot Roast

It is finally really feeling like fall around here. I'm not complaining at all. The weather has been teasing us all season with little cold fronts and then spouts of 80 degree weather. It is confusing as ever for my wardrobe. I'm really hoping I can switch out my summer clothes and hang up all of my sweaters. Or maybe buy some new ones since I did donate several to Goodwill a few months ago. Regardless, it is weather like this that makes me want to cozy up and enjoy a simple pot roast.

My mouth is watering all over again just looking at the picture. A good pot roast is so very simple to prepare. I usually cook mine in my Crock Pot so it stays nice and juicy. This recipe requires very few ingredients and is easy to serve with a few simple sides- mashed potatoes, sauteed carrots, and green beans. 

My Perfect Pot Roast

2 lbs. boneless bottom round roast
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Layer your veggies on the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the beef on top of the veggies. Pour the wine and beef broth over the beef and veggies. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper. Cover your slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours. When you are ready to serve, remove the beef from the slow cooker. Reserve the juices for serving with the beef and discard the vegetables.

I saved half of the roast for this evening's meal- tater tot casserole. You can do the same if you have any leftovers:)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Satisfying Saturday Menu Post

I've got my Pot Roast in the Crock Pot, laundry in the wash, and my shoulders are finally feeling relaxed for the first time in a week. What a great way to spend Saturday after one crazy week. I could hardly believe I slept for almost 12 hours after falling asleep on the couch last night at 8:00 p.m. I know, very lame. I think my body was telling me it was time to relax. Now on the to-do list is grocery shopping.

With Halloween just around the corner, I plan on taking it pretty easy with the menu this week. I have a feeling with as amped as the kids were this week over Halloween, Wednesday will be even crazier:) I can't blame them. Not only is Halloween super cool because you get to dress up and get tons of candy, it is also the beginning of the holiday season trilogy. Three of the best holidays in the next three months. But enough about holiday festivities. It's time to talk about the menu.

Sunday, if there are any leftovers from the Pot Roast, I hope to make a school lunch favorite, Tater Tot Casserole. Monday and Tuesday we will be dining on another great satisfying favorite, Broccoli Cheese Penne Mac which I hope to make ahead this weekend. For Halloween and the day after, I will be serving another make ahead meal Chicken Tortilla Soup with a side of yummy Duree Family Cheese Bread. Satisfying meals that I can make ahead and serve throughout the work week. It will be something to look forward to every night of the week. Here is the rundown...

Sunday 10/28          Pot Roast Tater Tot Casserole with Green Beans

Monday 10/29         Broccoli & Cheese Penne Mac with Salad

Tuesday 10/30         Leftovers

Wednesday 10/31    Chicken Tortilla Soup with Duree Family Cheese Bread

Thursday 11/1          Leftovers

Friday 11/2 or          Deep Dish Four Seasons Pizza with Salad
Saturday 11/3

Here is what you will need:

1 package of your favorite deli shaved ham
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (for salads and snacks)
1 bag baby carrots
1 stalk celery
2 yellow or white onions
1 bulb garlic
1 avocado
1 box mushrooms
1 bunch cilantro
1 bag romaine lettuce
1 can diced green chilies
1 can black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 can black olives
1 box reduced sodium beef broth
1 box reduced sodium chicken broth
1 package gluten-free pizza crust or your favorite pizza crust mix
1 package gluten-free French bread (I will be using Shar)
1 bag frozen tater tots
1 bag frozen corn
1 bag frozen broccoli florettes
1 box 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 pint 2% milk
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar
1 box 2% Velveeta cheese
Butter or margarine

Pantry items you will need:

Garlic powder

As always, things are subject to change keeping sales and items available at the grocery store. I hope you all have a satisfying Saturday! I hope to post my Pot Roast recipe later this evening.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Linguine with Grilled Chicken

Has anyone else experienced a rougher than usual week? I was glad to hear at my meeting with some fellow teachers that I was not the only one. Not only have the kids at school gotten progressively crazy (hello Halloween), but I also came home to all of the sidewalks and curb sides being torn out of the streets in our neighborhood. This includes a a chunk missing from my half of the driveway. I almost did not notice, as the street cone that available to warn me about the missing chunk had toppled over into the 1' depth of a 6' long piece of concrete missing between our driveway and the street. We did not get much advanced notice, as I saw the little flyer the excavating company left in on our door after said excavation. When I looked at the flyer, it did not have any of the check boxes marked for what repairs they would be making nor did they state the date they would be "excavating" our neighborhood. The Bear was furious, needless to say. I guess the benefit of having a husband who is a very skilled civil engineer for the neighboring suburb is to say that he knows people. We will just say that he made a few phone calls this morning and had some choice words to discuss with some of the individuals overseeing the project. Ha!

When life gets crazy, who doesn't crave carbs? Whether sweet, salty, crunchy it does not matter; research suggests that carbs help release serotonin into the brain. Thus, making us a little bit happier when stress gets us down. Normally, I am a salty, crunchy kind of gal. If I'm really down, mashed potatoes do the trick. Since I could not make an entire meal out of mashed potatoes last night, this Spinach Artichoke Pasta did the trick...

Mmmmmm carbohydrates! Pasta is a speedy meal in itself. I saved even more time by using leftover Spinach Artichoke Dip as my sauce. Add a little chicken for protein and you have a creamy, cheesy, one dish meal that is perfect after a tough day on the job:)

Spinach Artichoke Linguine with Grilled Chicken

8 oz. dried brown rice linguine (or other gluten-free noodle)
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 4 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (marinated in My Marinade)

Cook pasta noodles according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, start your grill and preheat to 350-400 degrees. Place the chicken on the grill. Discard the marinade. Grill for 5-6 minutes, then turn and grill another 5 minutes more. Remove from the grill and let rest on a plate.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water before draining your noodles. Drain the noodles and place back in the pot. Add the reserved pasta water and Spinach Artichoke Dip. Stir until the noodles absorb the liquid and the sauce forms. Add the Parmesan cheese. Tossing and stirring until the cheese melts. At this point you can plate the pasta individually and then top with one sliced chicken breast per plate or chop the chicken and add directly to the pasta before serving. It is up to you:)

Bionaturae 32420 Organic Linguine Pasta Gluten Free (Google Affiliate Ad)Kraft 362445 Kraft Parmesan Cheese- Case of 200 (Google Affiliate Ad)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Harvest Bake

First, I must say that I did not come up with this recipe on my own. I got a little inspiration from the freezer section of the grocery store...

And, after doing a Google search on Kashi's Mayan Harvest Bake, I am not the only person in the world who loves this frozen dinner. Nor I am the only person on this planet who has tried to recreate this savory, vegan dish. It is tough to find in the grocery store anymore. Tonight I will be adding my hand to the 27,800 results.

My recipe is not vegan, though it could be with a few modifications. I caved and had to add a little cheese in order to get my husband to want anything to do with my meatless Monday attempt. Otherwise, I would be eating a lot of my Fall Harvest Bake. Not a bad thing, but I need a little more variety to my weekly lunches and dinners. My harvest bake is also not short on color or flavor. I am totally enamored by the lighting in my photo...

I had to wait until today to share this recipe because I missed my photographic lighting opportunity yesterday:) While this recipe does have a few more steps than what I would like, it is fairly simple to put together and can be made ahead. I actually put everything together Sunday afternoon and then popped it in the oven yesterday when I finally got home from the gym. Packed full of veggies and smoky chipotle flavor, this dish is not only gluten free, but also very calorie friendly. According to My Fitness Pal, this Fall Harvest Bake only clocked in at 160 calories per servings and we are talking pretty big servings. You will not go hungry my friends.

Fall Harvest Bake
inspired by Kashi

4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup corn meal
2 cups shredded 2% cheddar cheese (divided)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 yellow or white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 large sweet potato, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
4 cups kale, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped
2 chipotle peppers, finely chopped plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9' x 13' baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. In a sauce pan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in the corn meal. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue stirring constantly until the corn meal thickens. Stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese until incorporated. Spread the corn meal into the baking dish and set aside.

While the corn meal is cooling, bring a large stockpot to medium heat. Drizzle the olive oil and add the onion. Saute and stir occasionally until the onion begins to become translucent (about 4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and sweet potato. Saute and stir occasionally until the sweet potato begins to soften (about another 4-5 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients, stirring occasionally until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove the mixture from the heat. Top over the corn meal. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheese and bake in the oven until the cheese begins to bubble and turn lightly brown along the edges (about 20-25 minutes). Cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

* On a side note, I originally wanted to make this recipe using Swiss chard; however, could not locate any in my grocery store. Thus, I used kale. I would like to make this again using the Swiss chard as it is more tender and does not have quite as strong a flavor as kale. Any green you have on hand will work.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Honey Nut Chex Mix

The Fall Harvest Bake is currently baking as we speak, so I thought I'd share a little bonus recipe with you all this evening:) I made this sweet and salty treat for the guys on Saturday. This recipe makes a ton of snack mix! Perfect for tailgating, parties, pot lucks, or your next family get together!

The combination of the dry roasted peanuts and caramel coating remind me a lot of peanut brittle. Sweet, salty, crunch, with bits of chewy caramel. This recipe made two large gallon sized bags. It is so good I had to share!

Honey Nut Chex Mix
inspired by Honey Nut Crunch Chex Mix

10 cups honey nut flavored Chex cereal (roughly one box)
3 cups salted dry roasted peanuts
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Toss the cereal and peanuts together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Pour the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup into a microwavable safe dish. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir and microwave 1-2 minutes longer or until the butter melts and the caramel begins to bubble. Stir in the baking soda and evenly pour over the cereal and peanut mixture. Toss together until evenly coated. Spread the mix onto the two baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cereal begins to brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1 hour. Then break apart before serving or storing.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I know there are a lot of spinach artichoke dips out there. My recipe is probably not that original, but it is damn good if I do say so myself. When I first started going gluten-free, I primarily stuck to fruit, salads, variations on vegetable sides, and very simply prepared proteins. Knowing that I could not survive this way for long, I started to do my research on how I could recreate old favorites while maintaining my new dietary lifestyle. This dip was one of the first appetizer items I created. I had typically enjoyed spinach artichoke dip in restaurants with pita chips. I replaced the pita chips with tortilla chips and triple checked the cream cheese and sour cream for listed food starches. Voila! I found something I could enjoy! Here is my lightened up, gluten-free version that won't leave you feeling like you missed a thing.

Whenever I make this dip, I find myself making it over and over again because I just can't get enough of it. I even doubled the recipe last week when we had to bring treats for Bosses' Day. Unfortunately, most of the dip was gone before I could enjoy some myself:) Never a bad sign when you bring office treats and there are no leftovers! I knew I had to make more for the man friendly dry wall lunch. If there wasn't the little bit that I reserved for a recipe later this week, I would be left with no leftovers again. This recipe will not disappoint!

Spinach Artichoke Dip

8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese (I use Hy-Vee brand)
16 oz. light sour cream (I use Market Pantry)
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained & roughly chopped
1 10 oz. package chopped frozen spinach, thawed & drained
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

In a large mixing bowl, beat all ingredients together with an electric mixer until combined. At this point, you can cover and store until you are ready to serve. You can serve chilled or heat in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the dip begins to bubble.

Remember to reserve a cup or two of the dip for my Spinach Artichoke Linguine with Grilled Chicken later this week. Enjoy the lovely fall day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finally a Break Menu Post

Wow! Has it been the most insane week ever! We got back last Sunday in the later afternoon from our weekend trip to Iowa. We were completely exhausted from the game-day festivities and the long drive home that there was not enough time to really tend to the blog. The rest of my week, I spent in many a meeting preparing for parent-teacher conferences topped off by two 12 hour workdays. I am so excited to have today to myself. It was the most glorious feeling in the world to sleep in until 8:30 and write a well needed menu for next week. I can't wait to get the house cleaned, grocery shopping out of the way, and to spend a little time in the kitchen. Ahhh, it will be so therapeutic!

In all honesty, when life gets this crazy, I really miss my blog. I'm so glad to be back and have an awesome menu planned for the week. Over the weekend, I plan to share one new recipe and bring back one of my favorites that will carry over into some meals later in the week. I'm in charge of preparing lunch for my husband and the guys helping us drywall our basement. We are so close to finishing the Bear's man cave that I feel like I need to spoil the guys a little bit with a man friendly lunch. I plan to make my Chipotle Pork Tenderloin for some easy sandwiches with a side of chips and my Spinach Artichoke Dip. I hope to reserve one cup of the dip for a pasta dish later in the week, as well as left-over pork. If you choose to follow me on my menu quest this week, use your left-over pork for Sunday to make BBQ Pork Tacos with a side of Cilantro Lime Slaw. Monday, I plan to make a gluten-free version of Kashi's Mayan Harvest Bake. I used to really enjoy this microwavable meal for lunch in the past before going GF. I've also noticed that a lot of stores no longer carry the meal anymore, so I am looking forward to sharing my Fall Harvest Bake version. Wednesday if my Spinach Artichoke Dip does not get discovered and devoured by the Bear, I plan on using some of the dip as a creamy sauce for Spinach Artichoke Linguine topped with Grilled Chicken. To wrap the week up, I am hoping to make a tender, slow cooked, Pot Roast on Saturday in the Crock Pot with all of the comforting fixings. It should be a tasty week around the Nickel household! Here is the rundown and what you will need:

Sunday 10/21          Chipotle Pork Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw

Monday 10/22         Fall Harvest Bake with left-over Slaw

Tuesday 10/23         Left-overs

Wednesday 10/24    Spinach Artichoke Linguine with Grilled Chicken

Thursday 10/25        Left-overs

Friday 10/26            Out to eat

Saturday 10/27        Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans

1-2 lbs. pork tenderloin
1 lb. boneless bottom round roast
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 bulb garlic
1 shallot
2 yellow or white onions
1 sweet potato
1 bag baby carrots
1 stalk celery
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 limes
1 bag clean and cut Swiss chard
1 bag angel hair cole slaw
1 bag corn tortillas
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 bottle BBQ sauce
1 cantainer grated Parmesan cheese
1 bag brown rice linguine or spaghetti noodles
1 can organic vegetable stock (check to make sure it is gluten-free)
1 box organic low sodium beef stock
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1 lb. butter
1 8 oz. brick of 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 container light or fat free sour cream
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar cheese
1 bottle red wine (I like a good Cab)

Pantry items you will need:

Corn meal
Corn starch
Brown sugar
Smoked paprika
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

You can get the recipe for the Chipotle Pork Tenderloin by clicking on the link. You can also print the recipe from the My Recipage button as well as other archived recipes. I look forward to sharing my Spinach Artichoke Dip with you all later today! Have a fantastic Friday!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Copycat Recipe- Idaho Nachos with Granite City Dip

If you've ever eaten at Granite City before, I hope you have tried their Idaho Nachos with a side of their Granite City Dip. It is a glutenous appetizer that Justin and I used to split as a meal. Now, I've cracked the code and can make a healthier version in the comfort of my own home.

Waffle cut fries are baked until golden brown then topped with shredded cheese, bacon, tomatoes and green onions. And you cannot forget the creamy Granite City dip! You will want to serve this at your next game day event.

Copycat Granite City Idaho Nachos with Granite City Dip

For the nachos:
1 bag waffle cut fries
2 cups shredded 2% cheddar cheese
6 slices cooked center cut bacon, crumbled
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3-4 green onions, sliced

For the dip:
1 cup light or fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I like Hellman's olive oil blend)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Layer the fries onto the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the fries begin to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven. Top with the cheese, bacon, tomatoes, and green onions. Place back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

While the fries are cooking, combine all of the ingredients for the dip in a small bowl. Stir until incorporated. Serve alongside the fries.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chicken & Mushroom Wraps with Tomato-Basil Spread

Since my local Hy-Vee started selling Sandwich Petals, I seriously cannot get enough of my favorite sandwich wraps into the menu. If you cannot find them at your grocery store, Sandwich Petals can be ordered online with free shipping. We have been enjoying them and getting a lot of use out of our panini press.

These wraps are stuffed with savory chicken, mushrooms, and cheese with a creamy tomato-basil spread. You can either press yours in a grill press or not. Either way, it is a quick and delicious weeknight meal.

Chicken & Mushroom Wraps with Tomato-Basil Spread

4 sandwich wraps (such as Flat Out or for a gluten-free option Sandwich Petals)
1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used Hellman's olive oil blend)
1-2 roasted roma tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced

Place the mayonnaise, tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a blender or small food processor. I used a hand held immersion blender. Pulse until combined and creamy. Set aside.

Place the wraps on a plate and cover with a paper towel. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to soften the wraps and make them more pliable if you are using a gluten-free wrap. Remove from the microwave and set aside.

Take one of the wraps and spread 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of the tomato basil spread over the wrap. Top with 1/4 cup of the cheese, chicken, and mushrooms. Roll and set aside. Repeat the steps with the other wraps. If you prefer yours grilled, place the wraps on a panini or grill press and grill over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the outsides of the wraps begin to lightly brown. Remove from the grill press and serve.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Very Veggie Lasagna

I must say, our anniversary dinner last night was outstanding. Justin enjoyed beef tenderloin with a balsamic reduction, roasted sweet potatoes, and sauteed green beans. I enjoyed the fall risotto. It was really cool to be eating in a castle, but it really felt more like eating in some very wealthy home. The atmosphere at Renee Kelly's Harvest was so cozy and welcoming. After all the gourmet food, it is time to go back to some healthy eats.

Sometimes I just feel like I need to detox after the weekend. Deprivation, however, is not the way I like to do things. Gone are those days from adolescence and college before I understood nutrition when I thought starvation and fat-free foods were healthy. Whenever I feel I need a healthy boost, I simply up my intake of fruits and vegetables. Such is the case with this filling lasagna.

This vegetarian lasagna is not only gluten-free, but also low-carb as there are no noodles. I swapped zucchini and yellow summer squash for the lasagna noodles. Mushrooms replace the meat; but with so much cheesy goodness, you will not feel like you're missing a thing!

Very Veggie Lasagna

2 zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices the long way
1 large yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices the long way
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 jar marinara sauce
2 15 oz. containers part-skim ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 10 oz. box chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups shredded 2% mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a two large baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the zucchini and squash onto the baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes to soften and slightly dehydrate the squash and zucchini pieces. Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, spinach, Parmesan cheese, and garlic powder. Mix until incorporated and set aside.

Spray a large casserole or baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Ladle 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the dish. Then, layer the bottom of the dish with some of the zucchini and yellow squash. Next, spread a layer of the ricotta mixture. Top the ricotta layer with mushrooms, followed by 1 cup of the mozzarella and then marinara sauce. Repeat the layers. Top with the remaining cup of mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown along the edges and bubble in the middle.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Weekly Menu Post

I am so glad the weekend is finally here. Not that it was a bad week or anything. I am just super pumped for our anniversary dinner tonight at Renee Kelly's Harvest. Five years ago, I was a frantic bride waiting to marry my Bear. He's the best roommate ever. He made me leave my comfort zone in Iowa to start a new big city life. He's the only guy that I ever wanted to give a mooshy-gooshy nickname such as Bear. I love him so much and feel incredibly blessed to have him in my life:)

I've heard many good reviews about the Harvest. The establishment is in one of the only restored castles in Kansas City. The food is all farm to table and has certified gluten-free menu items. Not only will we be eating great food, we will be eating really gourmet food. So excited!! I'm looking forward to sharing our experience with you all later this weekend.

Now on to my favorite thing to share, the weekly menu post. This week I plan to use what is left of the late summer squash crop with a low-carb, gluten-free, noodle-free lasagna. I'm sure you all will appreciate cleaning your eats and detoxing a little after possible tailgates and football viewing. No worries though, this lasagna will not leave you feeling deprived! Later in the week, I have another sandwich inspired wrap recipe to share using chicken, mushrooms and a mouthwatering tomato basil spread. To top the entire week off, I am looking to sharing my copycat, healthier version of Granite City's famous Idaho Nachos complete with their Granite City dip. This will be a great appetizer meal you will want to make for a football party get together. Good eats all week. Here is the rundown:

Sunday 10/7          Very Veggie Lasagna with Garlic Bread

Monday 10/8         Left-overs

Tuesday 10/9         Chicken & Mushroom Wraps with Tomato-Basil Spread and Salad

Wednesday 10/10  Left-overs

Thursday 10/11      Idaho Nachos with Granite City Dip & Naked Buffalo Wings

Friday 10/12          Back to Iowa for Family October Birthdays!!

Groceries you will need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package center cut bacon
2 zucchini
1 large yellow summer squash
1 lb. roma tomatoes
1 8 oz. box sliced mushrooms
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bulb garlic
1 bag gluten-free wraps (such as Sandwich Petals)
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 jar capers
1 container grated Parmesan cheese
1 jar mayonnaise (I like Hellman's Olive Oil blend)
1 carton egg substitute or 1/2 dozen large eggs
2 bags shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar cheese
2 containers part skim ricotta cheese
1 container light or fat free sour cream
1 box frozen spinach
1 bag waffle fries

Pantry items you will need:

Dried Italian herbs
Dried parsley
Curry powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper

I think this is one of the shortest grocery lists I've made in a long time:) Enjoy the cooler temps and very fall like weather!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tanner's Chicken Enchiladas

I think this picture is like a freakin' fiesta people or maybe I've eaten at too many Mexican restaurants this past year. The only thing missing is a sombrero and an endless basket of tortilla chips that drive me (besides being mostly gluten-free) to always choose Mexican food if it is an option. I never feel like I am being ripped off if they keep that basket of chips coming:)

These enchiladas are a great make ahead meal. Assemble the chicken and tortillas, cover, and store in the fridge until you are ready to bake and serve. Inspired by my favorite bar nachos, I recreated a more substantial meal. They are also great if you have a crowd to feed. What better way to enjoy these cooler temps and football season than with cheesy, chicken goodness!

Tanner's Chicken Enchiladas

8-10 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded chicken breast
1 cup skim milk
2 cups 2% shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. cubed 2% Velveeta
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chopped jalapenos
2 diced Roma tomatoes
1 bunch chopped green onion
Sour cream & salsa to serve on the side

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Place the tortillas on a plate. Lightly dampen a paper towel with water. Place over the tortillas and microwave on high for 1 minute to soften the tortillas. To assemble the enchiladas, top each tortilla with a couple of tablespoons of the chicken breast, roll, and place in the dish seam side down. Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the enchiladas begin to brown.

Meanwhile, place the milk, cheeses, garlic powder, and jalapenos in a medium sized pot. Melt the cheese over medium-low heat, stirring often until the cheese is melted. Remove the enchiladas from the oven. Pour the cheese mixture over the enchiladas. Place the dish back in the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble and brown around the edges.  Remove from the oven. Top with the green onions and tomatoes. Serve with salsa and sour cream on the side.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

French Onion Soup

If I were to choose a favorite soup, French Onion would be in the running. When I first started going gluten-free, I thought my French Onion soup days were long gone. Restaurants typically thicken their soups with bread and sometimes a starchy flour roux. Then, to top it all off you can never have French Onion soup without the giant cheesy crouton. Let's be honest people it is so worth the bad breath:)

With a few substitutions, you my gluten-free health nugget can enjoy French Onion soup once again! Caramelized onions simmer away in an organic, MSG-free beef broth with a hit of sherry wine, Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch of thyme. I've re-created the giant, cheesy crouton by toasting sliced gluten-free French bread and topping it with shredded Parmesan cheese. Enjoy this classic soup without the fear of wheat belly my friends!

GF French Onion Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
2 medium sized white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry sherry wine or other dry cooking wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups organic beef broth
1 pinch of dried thyme
1 loaf French bread, sliced
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and butter, swirling the pot until the butter is melted. Add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes or until the onions begin to brown and caramelize. Add the cooking wine and stir to deglaze the pot. Add the Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, and thyme. Raise the heat and the soup to a boil. Stir and lower the heat to medium-low again. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, while the soup is simmering away toast the bread on a baking sheet for 8-10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden brown. Top with the cheese. Bake for another 5 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and bubble.

Ladle the soup into four bowls. Top each bowl with one of the croutons. You can sprinkle on additional Parmesan cheese if you choose.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumn Vegetable Hash

To celebrate my 10,000 page view mile marker, I thought it would be kind to share this lovely little breakfast recipe. Just an extra little treat:) Plus, it is kind of a pretty picture is it not?

Crumbled breakfast chicken sausage is mixed with roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and spinach then topped with an egg. I divided mine into glass jars to take for breakfast throughout the week. If I need to reheat food, I typically like to use glass dishes so I don't have to freak out about all the BPA and chemicals. 12 Mason jars will run you about $12. About the same as the cheap plastic wear. Jars are also great because you don't have to worry about leakage. It is breakfast perfection in a jar.

Autumn Vegetable Hash

2 large sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
1 8 oz. box sliced mushrooms
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1/2 lb. breakfast style chicken sausage (I used Isernio's)
4 large eggs
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Add the sweet potatoes and mushrooms to the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the veggies begin to brown.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the chicken sausage and stir to loosen the meat. Cook, stirring often for 8-10 minutes or until the sausage is browned and cooked through. Remove the veggies from the oven. Add the chicken sausage and spinach. Toss until everything is combined. Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the spinach begins to wilt.

While the veggies are finishing in the oven, spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Crack and add the eggs to the tin to individually cook each egg. Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes while the veggies are finishing. To serve, scoop the veggies into a bowl and top with an egg.