Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BBQ Smoked Turkey Enchiladas

I dance, I dance, I dance! Around the Mexican hat! I dance, I dance, I dance and that's the end of that. Ole! Actually, I am not really dancing. I probably will not be up for dancing for quite some time. Spending a couple hours in the kitchen on my up day, Sunday, sort of did me in on the activity level. But, I'm glad I conquered it because I am now officially back to work. So, it was nice to be able to come home, relax, and pop my lovely leftover Sven enchiladas into the oven this evening. Not much to have to accomplish, but a little side of Cilantro Lime Slaw, turning on the oven, placing Sven enchiladas into said oven, waiting in my armchair propped up with my heating pad and pillows, and removing the enchiladas from the oven. Really, not too bad. Look at these little beauts!

Yes, Sven came to another use this evening in my BBQ Smoked Turkey Enchiladas. They were wicked easy to assemble and wicked tasty to enjoy. If you do not have smoked turkey, any kind of smoked meat will do just fine.

BBQ Smoked Turkey Enchiladas

4 cups chopped smoked turkey
8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded 2% cheddar cheese, divided
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
18 small corn tortillas
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 20 oz. can mild enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso because it is gluten-free)
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9' x 13' inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the turkey, cream cheese, 1 cup cheddar cheese, and garlic powder together. Set aside. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil to the pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes or until the onion begins to caramelize and turn light brown. Add the enchilada sauce and BBQ sauce. Stir until combine and remove from heat. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. Set aside. Place your tortillas on a large plate. Cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 1-2 minutes or until the tortillas are pliable enough to handle. Fill the one tortilla at a time with 2-3 tablespoons of the turkey mixture. Roll and place seam side down into the baking dish. Repeat with each tortilla. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Then, remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of the cheese. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble and melt in the middle. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cilantro over the enchiladas.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lean & Mean Smoked Turkey Chili

Sven sure makes a lean, mean batch of chili...not to mention Sven also has a "little helper" to add to the dish. Smoked Sven made for a delicious smoky, meaty deliciousness. Sven's helper added the secret touch.

Let's just say that Sven's "little helper" is yet another secret ingredient to add to my chili making arsenal. It is something that I like to sneak into any smoked meat recipe. I just never thought about using it in chili until today. You don't have to use it if you choose, but you might want to consider it before you knock it down. It just adds a little, hmm, how do you say it? Maybe like that terrible McDonald's sculpture commercial, my chili has a certain "Je Ne sais quoi" to it. Do I have your attention? Are you guessing before you read down? Well then, I'll just cut to the chase, since I know I have you on the edge of your chili making seats now. The secret ingredient is- BOURBON. Yes, good ol' Kentucky bourbon. Not enough to get you drunk, unless you take a few pulls after you add it to the chili. Just enough to make one say, "Hmm. What is that lovely depth of flavor?" Pretty crafty eh?

Lean & Mean Smoked Turkey Chili

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons bourbon
4 cups chopped smoked turkey (or left-over Thanksgiving turkey)
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced chili ready tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can chili beans, in chili gravy (do not drain)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon garam masala

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, stirring occasionally until the onions become translucent (about 3-4 minutes). Add the bell pepper, celery, and carrots. Cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the bourbon, stirring to break up any brown bits that have formed at the bottom of the pan. Cook for one minute or until the bourbon begins to slightly evaporate. Add the turkey and the remaining ingredients and stir until incorporated. Bring the chili up to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.


Tis the Week of Left-Over Turkey

I was so thankful my mother and husband put together a Thanksgiving meal. While I was giving directions from my arm chair propped up with a heating pad and pillows, my mom and the Bear put together the brine the evening before. We prepared the brine with about 10 cups water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup sugar, one roughly chopped onion, and a small bag of cheesecloth tied and filled with sage, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon pepper corns, and 1 tablespoon dried thyme. Because we did not have a vessel large enough to hold the turkey and liquid, we used one of our large coolers and ice to keep the turkey soaking and fabulous for 24 hours. Then bright and early Thursday morning, the Bear started the smoker. We removed the turkey from the briny bath and rubbed him down with a mixture of olive oil, 1/4 cup paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, salt and pepper, tied up the wings and legs, and placed him on the smoker for 6 hours. When the temperature began to stall, we removed the turkey from the smoker, placed him in a large roasting pan and finished him in the oven until our meat thermometer read the safe temp of 165 degrees. I was dozing in and out of my hydrocodone induced world and was disappointed we did not get a picture. The bird, I named him Sven, was a true smoked beauty. Now, what are we going to do with Sven's leftovers?

While I am not really a huge fan of leftover roasted turkey, I feel that there is a ton you can do with a smoked bird. Roasted turkey just tastes a little too gamy for my taste buds when it is not fresh from the oven. Smoked turkey though, well let me see you can make awesome salads, sandwiches, eat it cold, eat it hot with a ton of BBQ sauce, make many flavorful soups, risotto, and enchiladas. I plan on making the previous three said items this week. Unfortunately, I do not have a grocery list for you all this week. But, I do have a menu post of a variety of leftover recipes for your copious amounts of leftover Sven. Even if your Sven was not smoked, he should taste pretty darn good in these recipes. Yes, Sven will live on throughout the week!

Sunday 11/25          Lean and Mean Smoked Turkey Chili with veggie sticks and dip

Monday 11/26         Leftover chili

Tuesday 11/27        BBQ Smoked Turkey Enchiladas with Cilantro Lime Slaw

Wednesday 11/28   Leftover enchiladas

Thursday 11/29       Smoked Turkey & Mushroom Risotto with Winter Salad

Friday 11/30 or       Spiced Citrus Glazed Salmon with French Potato Salad
Saturday 12/1

I hope you all have a fabulous week! My goal is to not push things to hard, but enjoy being back on my feet again:)


Coming Around & GF Clam Chowder

Hello to you all! I am so happy to say I am finally beginning to feel back to myself after my surgery last week. To update you all, not to freak anyone out, my husband and I have been seeing a fertility specialist since September of this year. After three years of trying for a little bundle of joy, we were getting pretty frustrated and knew that something was not right. Low and behold, we discovered that my left fallopian tube was blocked. So, Tuesday of last week, the doctor went in and was going to either see if it could be repaired or if it needed to go. Like a clogged pipe, this tube was causing scare tissue and other harmful fluids to back up into my body that were making it very difficult to carry a baby. The doctor ended up clipping the tube, as it was beyond repair. Besides some bloating and pain from the recovery, I am actually feeling much better. My husband and I both feel that this was a positive step in the right direction. 

Before I was discharged from my usual household duties, I was like a squirrel harvesting and storing nuts in the kitchen. I think my parents were shocked at the amount of food I had prepared and stored in the fridge. I had made a plethora of cookies, snacks, and soups knowing that the Bear might get hungry. Being that cooking is very therapeutic to me, this also helped me burn off my nervous energy. One soup in particular that I am excited to share is my Clam Chowder.

Creamy and hearty, this soup is perfect for a chilly day. Loaded with bacon, sauteed veggies, potatoes, and clams my Clam Chowder will satisfy. To save yourself time and an additional ingredient, make sure you buy clams that are canned in their own clam juices. That way, you will not need to drain the clams or purchase a bottle of clam juice. I used Bumble Bee canned clams, which happened to be on sale. If you are looking for a meal that is quick and aims to please over the holiday season, I hope you consider making this soup!

Gluten Free Clam Chowder

4 slices center cut bacon, chopped
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
2 cans clams, make sure they are clams canned in their clam juices
2 russet potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inche pieces
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons corn starch
Chopped chives and crackers for garnish

Heat a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the bacon begins to crisp. Add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring to break up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot, until the veggies begin to soften (about 4-5 minutes). Add the wine, bay leaf, and clams to the bacon and veggies, stirring to break up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, while the veggies are softening, place the potatoes and chicken broth in a large microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 5 minutes to cook the potatoes. After the first five minutes, prick one of the potatoes with a fork. If the potato breaks apart or sort of crumbles. If not, microwave for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Add the potatoes and broth to the bacon and veggie mixture. Add the thyme and cayenne pepper. In another large dish, whisk together the milk, cream, and corn starch until the mixture is smooth are there are no lumps. Add the milk mixture to the pot. Stir constantly until the soup begins to thicken. Garnish with crackers and chopped chives.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

What a fantastic weekend it has been. This weekend was exactly what we needed to take our minds off things. My dad and his wife, Brenda, came to spend some time with us since we will not be back for Thanksgiving this year. Friday night we just hung out and caught up on family happenings. They were both pretty excited because Brenda finally convinced my dad finally to get iPhones. He did have a smart phone device pre-iPhone; however, never really utilized it beyond work e-mail and just another communication device. I think the iPhone will be more user friendly for him as he figures out Seri's powers. Brenda pretty well has hers figured out, so I'm sure between Seri and Brenda my dad will get a grasp on his new technology:)

Saturday we went to Lawrence for the KU versus Iowa State game. I've never seen so much red and gold in the Lawrence! It almost felt like we were back in Ames. We walked Massachusetts street and did a little sight seeing and shopping. Then, we headed over to the designated Cyclone tailgating lot and got the party started with our fellow Cyclone fans.

The Cyclones won and are now eligible for a bowl game this year. By the end of the game, Cyclone fans out numbered the sorry, sad Jayhawk fans:) The team gave many thanks by joining near the Cyclone seating waving, cheering, and celebrating the big win. Coach Paul Rhoads even stepped in front of the stands, turned his ball cap backwards, and threw a big kiss in the air. Truly and eventful night. I love my Cyclones!

Now on to the pizza we enjoyed Friday night. If you are looking for a use for leftover chicken or want a quick and easy kid friendly meal, this pizza will do the trick. The picture below is the crust I used for the Bear, my dad, and Brenda. My crust is not pictured; however, I did find a good gluten-free crust by Udi's and had my own personal pizza. I used a pre-made pizza crust and slathered on a thick and creamy layer of ranch as the sauce. Then, I topped it with leftover shredded rotisserie chicken I froze from earlier in the week, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and bacon. Super easy and super tasty.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

1 pre-made pizza crust
8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 cup light or fat-free sour cream
1 package gluten-free ranch dressing mix
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
4 pieces cooked and crumbled center cut bacon

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing until smooth and combined. Spread the ranch over your pizza crust. Then top the ranch layer with the chicken and cheese. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from the oven and then top the rest of the pizza with the tomatoes and bacon. You can sprinkle a little chopped flat leaf parsley for extra color if you choose. Slice and serve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easy Taco Salad

I have to say, I am really glad we had this meal tonight. It has been one of those days where I barely made it to work in time. I had meetings all morning, some teaching to do, and students to test. Then, I barely made it home in time to meet with the lender who is refinancing our home. It has just been one of those days. I don't know about you, but I am ready for some kind of break. Fortunately, I had to take the day off for my pre-operation appointment. Tuesday is the big day. In some ways it has been good to be so busy at work because it allows for little time to think about the big day. Emotionally, however, everything is starting to wear on me. I just keep saying to myself, "This to shall pass. What doesn't kill you will make you stronger. God would not give you anything you could not handle."

Business forces me to really prioritize my time and organize my life. Hence, a lot of the preparation I do for the upkeep of this little blog is over the weekend. I chopped the lettuce, veggies, and cooked the meat on Sunday. That way all I would have to do is make the dressing and re-heat the meat for this evening. If you do not have the advantage of prepping ahead of time, this meal can be prepared in 30-40 minutes. Either way, it is a quick, easy, and tasty weeknight meal.

Easy Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

For the Cilantro Lime Dressing:

1 package gluten-free ranch dressing mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Zest of one lime

For the salad:

1 yellow or white onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies (such as Rotel), drained
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 package of your favorite taco seasoning (I Penzy's)
1 bag chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, chopped
Tortilla chips

For the dressing: Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Pour into a resealable container and set aside.

For the salad: Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and add the onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Add the ground beef. Cook, stirring occasionally to crumble the beef until the beef is browned. Add the drained tomatoes and black beans. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture begins to heat through. Add the taco seasoning and stir until the meat mixture is evenly coated in the seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside. Serve the meat over the romaine lettuce. Top with tomatoes, tortilla chips, and cilantro lime dressing.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

I am so excited to share this soup recipe with you! I'm not sure when or who started the "meatless Mondays" movement, but it has been a fun way to add more vegetarian meals to our weekly menu. This recipe is not only vegetarian, but one that you could use as a starter for your Thanksgiving feast next week. Unlike my labor intensive Pumpkin Soup recipe I posted early in the year, I chose to take a few shortcuts by using canned pureed pumpkin. Which is also on sale at many groceries stores this week. I still have not one, but three pumpkins this year for decoration, but will most likely shy away from any major culinary projects involving my decor:)

Inspired by Gourmet magazine, I revamped an old recipe from there 2002 collection. I lightened the soup up by using a can of light unsweetened coconut milk and took out any added sugars. To make the recipe totally vegetarian if not vegan, I used extra virgin coconut oil in place of butter. The result, I creamy, silky comforting soup.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup
inspired by Gourmet magazine

1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 cans pureed pumpkin
1 can light unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground all spice
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat a large soup pot over medium low heat. Melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic. 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, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving Trimmings

Tonight's meal was almost like a Thanksgiving preview. We did not have turkey, but rotisserie chicken does the trick. Especially when served with sides of mashed potatoes, cranberry cornbread dressing, and green beans with caramelized shallots. Now what to do with the leftovers? I think I will save sides in the freezer until next week as my contribution to my Mom's dinner she plans to help with. The chicken I am saving for Friday night's dinner.

Consider this your double recipe bonus for the holidays and both recipes will meet the criteria for any gluten-free company you may be serving. In the stuffing, I've taken homemade crumbled corn bread and dressed it up with dried cranberries, sage, poultry seasoning, sauteed onions, celery, and carrot. And, who needs green bean casserole when you can have perfectly sauteed green beans with caramelized shallots? Besides making the cornbread for the stuffing and chopping a few vegetables, both side dishes are an elegant snap to put together.

Gluten Free Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing
Cornbread inspired by Gluten Free Mommy

For the cornbread:

1 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup corn meal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 beaten eggs
1 cup buttermilk

For the rest of the stuffing:

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely diced
1 rib celery, finely diced
1/4 cup carrots, finely diced
1 pan, of gluten-free cornbread (ingredients above), crumbled.
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
2 cups chicken broth
Salt & pepper to taste

To bake the cornbread: Spray a 9' x 9' baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the brown rice flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until moistened. Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Let cool before cutting or serving.

To make the stuffing: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Cut the cornbread into 1-inch cubes. Arrange on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cornbread begins to brown along the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool before crumbling. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat. In a large bowl, add the cornbread, vegetables, spices, and cranberries. Toss to combine. Pour the chicken broth over the dressing and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into the casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions
inspired by Weight Watchers

1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely sliced
1 12 oz. bag green beans

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook stirring every so often until the shallot begins to brown and caramelize. Meanwhile, in a large microwave safe dish or in a steam safe bag, steam the green beans for 3-4 minutes. Add the green beans to the shallots. Raise the heat to medium. Sautee the beans for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve.

Oops, I Forgot a Few Things

As I was cooking and prepping away today, I realized I forgot a few very important ingredients that go with the grocery/ pantry list. Very shortly after going to the store this morning, I realized I forgot to put taco seasoning on the list. I like to use Penzy's and buy it in a bigger bag so I always have it on hand. The next few things you will need are ground sage and chicken broth. They will be added to the list in the previous post. I apologize if this was any inconvenience to anyone! Thank you for your patience!

Blustery Sunday Menu Post

Isn't it really feeling like November out there? What is left of the frontal system, Brutus, made its way to Kansas City last night. No snow for us. Just a lot of rain and I am loving it. It is making me want to curl up on the couch, light a fire in the fireplace, and make some soup. Which is included in this week's menu, by the way:)

This will most likely be my last recipe post for the month with any new recipes, so I wanted to bring you some unique and seasonal dishes. Next week, I go in for my big procedure. I will still probably come up with some pre-made things to share as well as some old favorites, but most likely will not have a weekly menu post until I fully recover. I am still really, really nervous and have felt a little edgy lately. My friends and family who have and will be visiting are offering well needed support and a mental break. I just keep reminding myself that this will all be worthwhile and progress to our ultimate goal; having a little bundle of joy to join our loving family.

Anyhow, enough of the heavy stuff and on to one of my biggest joys; sharing my weekly menu post with everyone. This evening we will be taking it easy since we had company here over the weekend. We will be purchasing a rotisserie deli chicken and enjoying some classic, homemade side dishes that will also benefit you if you are looking for some gluten-free sides to serve over the Thanksgiving holiday next week. Save the leftover chicken and freeze it; however, as it will be a topping for a pizza I hope to share with you all on Friday when more family comes into town. Monday and Tuesday we will be dining on a vegetarian spiced pumpkin soup I cam across while researching some old Gourmet magazine recipes. For the middle of the week, I hope to get all of my prep-work done today for some easy taco salads with a refreshing dressing. Yes, it is a very seasonal menu post this week that will hopefully give you all some ideas for the upcoming holiday season! Here is the rundown:

Sunday 11/11          Rotisserie Chicken with Cranberry-Corn Bread Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, and Green
                               Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots

Monday 11/12         Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Salad & Bread

Tuesday 11/13         Leftovers

Wednesday 11/14    Easy Taco Salads with Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Thursday 11/15        Leftovers

Friday 11/16            Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Pizza

Groceries you will need:

1 rotisserie chicken
1-1.5 lbs. lean ground beef
1 package center cut bacon
2 yellow or white onions
1 bag baby carrots
1 stalk celery
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime
1 bulb garlic
2 bags romaine lettuce
1 loaf French bread (we will get one gluten-free for me and one demi loaf for the Bear)
1 package gluten-free pizza crust mix (I like Bob's Red Mill)
2 packages gluten-free ranch dressing mix
1 package gluten-free taco mix (I like Penzy's)
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies (such as Rotel)
2 can pureed pumpkin
1 can light unsweetened coconut milk
1 can organic vegetable broth
1 can organic chicken broth (make sure to check it is wheat free!)
1 bag dried cranberries
1 bag tortilla chips
1 box 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 carton low-fat buttermilk
2 containers light or fat-free sour cream
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar cheese
1 lb. Butter
1/2 dozen eggs (you will only need 1-2)

Pantry items you will need:

Bay leaves
Ground sage
Ground cloves
Ground ginger
Ground coriander
Ground sage
Curry powder
Poultry Seasoning
Non-stick cooking spray
Corn meal
Brown rice flour
Baking powder
Extra virgin coconut oil

Stay warm and cozy today! Have a great rest of your weekend:)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Slow Cooker Chinese Pork and Noodle Bowls

In case some of you avid readers were missing my Saturday menu posts, I will be sure to get it up tomorrow.  My youngest sister, Amy, came into town Thursday night. We have had so much fun catching up together, shopping, and doing girl things. It has been such a great weekend! And, I have another easy gourmet Crock Pot recipe to share:)

While the Bear and I were at work on Friday, Amy was sweet enough to prepare the pork. I don't make all of my visitors work, but cooking runs in the family so I trust my sisters in the kitchen. This recipe is such a flavorful cinch to put together. Pork tenderloin is cooked until tender. All of the juices the pork cooked in create the sauce for the noodles and veg. If you are looking for an easy Chinese recipe, I suggest trying this one.

Slow Cooker Chinese Pork & Noodle Bowls
inspired by Cooking Light

4 tablespoons soy sauce (check to make sure it is wheat free)
4 tablespoon packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 lb. pork tenderloin
2 cups hot water
8 oz. brown rice spaghetti noodles
1/2 cup carrots, cut into matchstick pieces
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts

Place the pork in the slow cooker. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. Pour over the pork. Cover and cook the pork on low for 4-5 hours.

Remove the lid of the slow cooker. Carefully shred the pork in the slow cooker using 2 forks to pull the pork apart. Add the hot water, noodles, and carrots. Toss together, cover, and cook on high for 1/2 hour.

Add the lime zest and juice and toss until combined. Spoon the noodle mixture into bowls and top with the cilantro, green onions, and peanuts.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Baked Chicken Meatballs with Peperonata

If there is one recipe I really would want you to try in the course of this year, it would be this one. This recipe could not only be a meal, but also carry you through the holiday season if you were ever put in charge of bringing a hot appetizer to a party or family gathering. Our mouths were so pleased with the symphony of flavors and the visual appeal, that the Bear and I did not even know what to say. We ate in silence. We cleaned our plates. In the end, we both looked at each other and said in harmony, "This is really freakin' good."

I don't know about you, but growing up whenever my mom had a baby or someone in the family was really sick, the grandmas of the church would make us a slew of meals. One of my favorites was meatballs. It didn't matter if they were beef or ham. These meatballs are like Italian church grandma meatballs, only better for you. I used lean ground chicken breast and mixed it with sauteed onions cooked in a couple of pieces of center cut bacon. "The binder?" you may ask. A tablespoon of corn meal replaces the bread crumbs, but does not change the texture or flavor. Do not fear the peperonata. I was a little hesitant for the Bear to try this. It is red and green. It is pickled. Not his favorite things. He was brave and even was forking the peperonata onto bites of the meatball. This does not happen often people! The peperonata takes the meatballs over the top by adding the perfect amount of fresh acidity. If you are wanting to impress your family with an amazing meal, make the meatballs as directed below. If you are wanting to serve them as an appetizer, make the balls smaller and maybe garnish them with a peperonata laced toothpick. Please, please, please make this recipe before the end of the year!

Baked Chicken Meatballs with Peperonata
inspired by Groumet

For the Peperonata:

1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
1 1/2 tablespoon capers, drained
1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 pinch red pepper flakes

For the Meatballs:

4 slices center cut bacon, cut into bits
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 lb. ground chicken
2 egg whites, beaten
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon corn meal
3 mozzarella sticks, cut into 1' pieces

To make the Peperonata: Toss the roasted red peppers, capers, and parsley together in a bowl. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Pour over the roasted pepper mixture. Toss together and cover with plastic wrap. Let the mixture marinate for 30 minutes or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

To make the Meatballs: Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the bacon, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions soften. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, onion mixture, egg whites, parsley, ketchup, and corn meal. Cover and let the mixture stand in the fridge for 15-20 minutes or overnight to allow the corn meal to bind the mixture together. Remove from the fridge. Begin forming the meatballs in your hands using approximately 1/4 cup servings. With your thumb, make an indentation in the meatball and stuff the cheese in the meatball. Cover the indentation by rolling the meatball in your hands so the meat fills in the whole. Place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all of the meat is used. At this point you can store the meatballs in the refrigerator  or freezer in a resealable container until you are ready to bake them. When you are ready to bake them, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking or casserole dish with non-stick spray. Place the meatballs in the dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the meatballs measure 165 degrees with a meat thermometer  Remove from the oven and let the meatballs cool slightly before serving. Serve with the Peperonata.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

I think I've said this a time or two before, but I have not met a potato I did not like. When I was in college, one of my favorite meals to come home to was either chili with a side of cheese bread or steak with a twice baked potato. It may not be the most thrilling meal, but it is cheap, easy, and pretty tasty on a blustery day.

Tonight I have made my twice baked potato into a meal by loading it with cheese, broccoli, green onions, and bacon. Serve with a simple side salad to round out the meal. I like to make my potatoes ahead of time and store in the refrigerator or freezer until I am ready to reheat and serve.

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

4 large baking potatoes
1/2 cup thawed frozen chopped broccoli cuts
8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 cup light or fat free sour cream
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sliced green onions
4 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the potatoes with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour or until tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20-30 minutes. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside into a large bowl leaving 1/4 of an inch around the skin to form a shell. Mash the potatoes until creamy. Add the broccoli, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, 1 cup of the cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir until combined. Spoon the mixture into the shells. Top each potato with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle the potatoes with the green onions and bacon before serving.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Flank Steak Fajitas

When I get tired of my favorite Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw, which is not very often, I crave fajitas. Fajitas, like tacos, are a quick and easy way to enjoy South of the boarder food without having to prepare many sides to accompany the entree. Before going gluten-free, I often used a package of fajita spice mix to speed the process along even further. Since many mixes are not guaranteed gluten-free or contain MSG and a ton of salt, I had to create my own. Honestly, I have not found a good combination until today. It took some thinking and I am very happy with the end result.

The flank steak is marinated in a little bit of olive oil, garlic, and lime juice then rubbed down with my smoky spice blend. Serve with a side of your favorite salsa and guacamole to round out a healthy, but mouthwatering meal at home.

Flank Steak Fajitas

1 lb. flank steak
1 tablespoon olive oil
Zest and juice of one lime
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin 
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow or white onion, finely sliced
Salt & pepper to taste

Place the steak in a large resealable plastic bag. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, and garlic. Pour over the steak. Seal the bag and toss to coat the steak in the marinade. Marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

While the steak finishes marinating, mix together the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Remove the steak from the marinade, place in the skillet, and discard the remaining marinade. Sprinkle the top of the steak with 1/4 of the spice mixture. Cook for 5-6 minutes, then turn the steak and continue cooking for another 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle the top with another 1/4 of the spice mixture. Remove from the skillet and set aside on a plate to allow time for the steak to rest before slicing. In the same skillet, add the green pepper and onion. Sprinkle the remaining spices onto the vegetables. Tossing occasionally, cook for 5-6 minutes or until the vegetables begin to char and soften a bit. Remove from heat. Slice the steak into strips. Serve the steak and vegetables over warmed tortillas.

Four Seasons Pizza

Before I go on to my fajita recipe, I have one more little gem to share from last week's menu...Four Season's Pizza.

Light, healthy, and topped with my favorite super foods- artichoke hearts and mushrooms. If you are looking for a quick and healthy pizza, you should try it!

Four Seasons Pizza
inspired by Weight Watchers

I gluten-free pizza crust (prepared by package directions or premade)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
12 slices chopped deli style ham (I like Oscar Meyer's Deli Fresh)
1 can quarter artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
6 black olives, sliced

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your gluten-free crust according to package directions. My crust was already prepared. Pour the tomatoes into a medium sized non-stick skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the garlic and herbs. Simmer for 4-5 minutes or until some of the juice has evaporated and the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside. To assemble the pizza, spread the sauce over the crust. Top with the cheese, ham, artichoke hearts, and olives. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble and brown along the edges. Slice and enjoy!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Magazine Recipes Menu Post

S-A-T-UR-D-AY! Yes, that is my weak attempt at trying to type in rhythm to Elton John's "Saturday Night" song. I love Saturdays. It is about noon and I am still in my sweats going about my day at leisure. I spent most of my morning putting together the menu and grocery list for the week. I wanted to throw together some meals that I can put together or prep over the weekend, but also wanted to try some new recipes from some of my ever growing magazine collection. My first two recipes for the week are not creative; however, are somewhat self-invented by me. My last two recipes for the week are inspired from Gourmet and Cooking Light. I'm looking forward to making some simple gluten-free tweaks as well as adding my own flare to both recipes. This is a peak at what I hope this week's menu will look like if all goes well:

Sunday 11/4        Steak Fajitas with Guacamole & Chips

Monday 11/5       Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes with Salad

Tuesday 11/6       Leftovers

Wednesday 11/7  Baked Chicken Meatballs with Peronato & Garlic Bread (inspired by Gourmet Live)  

Thursday 11/8     Leftovers

Friday 11/9         Slow Cooker Chinese Pork Noodle Bowls with Broccoli (inspired by Cooking Light)

Here is what you will need:

1 lb. ground chicken
1 lb. pork tenderloin
1 lb. flank steak (or other lean cut)
1 package center cut bacon
1 bag baby carrots
2 bunches green onions
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 bunch fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
1 bulb garlic
1 knob fresh ginger root
2 limes
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
1-2 avocados
4 medium sized Russet baking potatoes
1 green bell pepper
2 yellow or white onions
1 bag lettuce or your favorite salad blend
1 jar capers
1 jar roasted red peppers
1 container grated Parmesan cheese
1 container dry roasted peanuts
1 package brown rice spaghetti noodles
1 package corn tortillas
1 bag tortilla chips
1 pint 2% milk
1 container light or fat free sour cream
1 8 oz. brick 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 bag shredded 2% cheddar cheese
1 bag mozzarella cheese sticks
1 box chopped frozen broccoli cuts

Pantry items you will need:

Olive oil
Red wine vinegar
White wine vinegar
Rice wine vinegar
Brown sugar
Soy sauce (check to make sure it is gluten free)
Sesame oil
Red pepper flakes
Chili powder 
Smoked paprika
Garlic powder

If you follow my blog or frequently stop by and would like to prep ahead as I do, I would suggest saving this menu post for later use after each recipe is posted. Items I hope to prep ahead are the marinade and spice mixtures for the fajitas and pork noodle bowls. I will be baking and assembling the twice baked potatoes so all I have to do is pop them in the oven on Monday and Tuesday nights. I also hope to get the peperonata assembled so the flavors have time to marry together as well as assemble my meatballs and freeze them until I am ready to bake them in the oven.

In other news, I realized that I need to update my Weekly Menu page from last month. Feel free to check out present and past menu posts on my Weekly Menu page. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Happy November 1st! Does anyone remember the radio station that started playing Christmas music right after Halloween? Since getting some pretty harsh criticism, I don't think this particular station in Kansas City displays as much enthusiasm for the holidays anymore. I for one always thought it was pretty funny and enjoyed listening when the holiday spirit struck. I guess I will have to wait for now, but I do plan on getting Christmas decor out in a couple of weeks. This can be justified. Christmas decorations are just too pretty to only stay out for one month. Nope, it is not long enough. I like my decorations to be out for at least a month and a half:) Let the countdown begin! And, bring on more cold weather so we can enjoy more soup.

The lovely red leaf in the picture is courtesy of one of our trick-or-treaters last night. The little girl was so sweet and felt the need to give us a little treat in thanks to her chocolate. She said she had to give it to us because the leaf was "red and in the shape of a heart." How cute! This soup also warms may heart because it is so stinkin' easy to make. I pretty much throw everything into my Crock Pot, let it simmer, and garnish with a few fresh ingredients before serving. Serve it with a side of cheese bread and you've got one awesome meal.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 yellow or white onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup frozen corn
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
Fresh cilantro, avocado, cheese, sour cream, and additional tortilla chips for garnish

Place all ingredients to the corn in your slow cooker. Cook over low heat for 5-6 hours. Shred the chicken breast using to forks. Add the corn, black beans, and 2 cups tortilla chips. Cook for another 1-2 hours. Serve topped with the cilantro, avocado, cheese, sour cream, and more crunched tortilla chips.