Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gluten-Free Duree Macaroni 'n' Cheese

I cannot believe how cold it has gotten again! I know it is the last week of February, but since living in Kansas City I do remember times when spring has made an early arrival. I have noticed hints of tiny green bulb flowers trying to peek their way out of the ground around warmer parts of buildings. It is still too early to tell what flowers they will bring; however, I know everyone will smile and welcome their presence.

Growing up with long harsh winters is not a new thing to me since I grew up in Iowa. I remember living in Storm Lake, Iowa very early in my childhood. While I may sound like a senior citizen, I do remember snow drifts as tall as our house. One year, my dad helped us build a slide and fort fit for an Eskimo. We then moved to southern Iowa. It did not snow quite as fierce, but we still got a lot of snow. He was the kindergarten through 12th grade principal in Blakesburg, Iowa. When they were debating on whether or not to call off school, the superintendent would call my dad and ask if the bus would be able to make it up our steep, hilly driveway to pick me up for school. If the bus couldn't make it, instant snow day! We knew my parents would not be able to make it out either. We were snowed in. Above all, what I remember most about those cold winters was my mom and dad making the cheesiest, most gooiest macaroni and cheese.

We always had milk, some sort of noodle, butter, and a brick of cheese on hand just in case. It has taken a little bit of practice to create a gluten-free version as close to home as this. I think I've finally got it. This recipe is super simple with the most basic of ingredients. I've taken out the flour and regular pasta noodles, yet maintained a creamy consistency by cooking the noodles directly in the sauce. If you are looking for a comforting dish that reminds you of your childhood, this is it!

Gluten-Free Duree Macaroni 'n' Cheese

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/4 cups skim milk
8 oz. 2% Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon dried chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups dried gluten-free noodles (can be any shape)
1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese

Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Place milk, Velveeta, cream cheese, dried onion, salt, and pepper in a large sauce pan. Heat over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes or until all ingredients are smooth and combine. Toss pasta into the sauce pan. Stir to combine. Pour into your casserole dish. The mixture will be soupy at this point. It is okay as the noodles will eventually absorb the excess liquid. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. When you are ready to bake and serve, uncover the dish, give the pasta a stir to break up any noodles that have clumped together and release the starches to thicken the sauce. Let set at room temperature while your oven preheats at 375 degrees. When your oven is preheated, stir again, place in the oven, and bake for 25 minutes. Pull the dish out. Stir once again to break up any pasta that has clumped together. Sprinkle the cheddar over the top. Bake another 5 minutes or until the cheddar has melted and begins to bubble. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Simple Beginnings Menu Post

What a weekend it has been! My sisters and mom all made it to town to celebrate February and March birthdays. We had so much fun catching up and shopping together. The weather was outstanding! I even made it out Friday afternoon for a good 3 mile run before everyone arrived. While it is supposed to be pretty chilly this week, I was able to purchase some good winter gear on sale that will be perfect for chilly running conditions. It was all fashionably approved by my family fashionistas:).

Since we were all enjoying spending time together, I did not plan the menu post until around noon today. I was really lacking in the creativity department as I started to feel the Sunday slump approaching. It always happens when you have such a great weekend with the ones you love. Thus, I chose to turn this little feeling into something positive with my menu. I needed to keep it simple, so I brought out some old favorites I used to cook when I was trying to win the Bear over at the beginning of our relationship. I was not a good cook, so these are a couple of the recipes that managed to win the Bear over. I needed very simple recipes that did not require a lot of ingredients or time to prepare. Back then I was not a gluten-free girl. Now that I have a better knowledge base with gluten-free cooking and convenience it just seemed perfect. I thought it would be fun to recreate some oldies and make them gluten-free. The Bear was pretty pleased to say the least. I too started to feel a little spark when I pulled out the old recipes. The memories just made me smile. These are two of the recipes I made over and over during the simple beginnings of our relationship. Tonight we will be keeping it pretty simple with grilled chicken, veggies, and potatoes that we purchased from our grocery store in hopes that we are not out of grill gas. Something we used to do a lot when I didn't know what else to do. If we are out of grill gas it might be Domino's delivery. Otherwise, here is the plan for Monday through Thursday this week:

Monday 2/24          Gluten-Free Duree Mac'n'Cheese with Steamed Broccoli and Carrots

Tuesday 2/25          Leftovers

Wednesday 2/26     Baked Chicken and Bean Burritos with Salad

Thursday 2/27         Leftovers

I am not sure what next weekend will hold, but I hope these two recipes will be something you can use again and again like we have. Here are a few of the things you will need to make this all happen:

1 lb. ground chicken breast
1 bag baby carrots
1 bag pre-cut broccoli
1 bag of your favorite salad blend
1 package gluten-free tortillas (I used Udi's)
1 can fat-free refried beans
1 can diced green chilies
1 package taco seasoning (I used Old El Paso it is gluten-free)
1 box gluten-free penne pasta (I bought Barila this time because I had a coupon. We'll see about this)
1 half gallon skim milk
1 brick 2% Velveeta cheese
1 8 oz. package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 package shredded 2% cheddar cheese

Pantry items you will need:

Nonstick cooking spray
Dried chopped onion

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

In the morning, I go into third grade math and co-teach with another teacher. I really love the atmosphere this teacher has started to create with her classroom. She does not have an easy bunch of students, but has started to really build a sense of community. At the start of the day, we all join together in a circle. We then go around the circle and express one thing we (children and adults) are grateful for without repeating the previous day's gratitude. After we express our gratitude, we go around the circle again and say "good morning" and give each other a high five. It's just such a great way to start the day!

After I made these lovely meatballs, I told the kids I was really happy that I tried a new recipe and it turned out. They of course giggled knowing that I do have this blog and love creating new recipes. They then asked about what I had made. When I told them it was a meatball version of hot wings, they all got pretty excited.

I guess kids like hot wings. If your kiddos are not a fan of the spiciness, you could easily substitute a milder hot wing sauce. I happen to love Cookie's Hot Wing Sauce. It has the perfect amount of zing without setting your mouth on fire. I used a cookie scoop to make my meatballs for ease and portion control. If you do not have a cookie scoop, I suggest using a soup spoon.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken breast
1 package dried gluten-free ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon dried chopped onion
1/2 cup hot wing sauce
1 tablespoon light butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, fold together the ground chicken, ranch, and onion until combine. Using a cookie scoop or soup spoon, scoop out approximately 2 1/2 tablespoons of meat into your hands. Roll into a ball and place on the parchment paper. Repeat until you have used all of the meat mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the meatballs begin to turn very lightly brown on the outside. Remove from the oven. Place in a casserole dish. Pour the hot wing sauce and butter over the meatballs. Toss to coat and serve.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tempeh Stir-Fry with Almond Sauce

Once upon a time, Rachel Ray swept the world with her 30 minute meals. Lately, I've noticed that people are trying to break that record with now 20 or even 15 minute meals. It kind of makes me laugh a little.

Okay, enough of my thoughts on time in the kitchen. This little recipe uses an ingredient I have been afraid to use for a long time- tempeh. After having some kitchen losses and never quite grasping how to work with tofu, I didn't even want to mess with its cousin tempeh. Well, I was wrong in thinking this. Tempeh is soooo much easier to work with. Being it is firmer, it does not crumble or fall apart as easily as tofu. The texture is amazing too! I almost had Justin fooled until he looked at the menu on the fridge and asked, "What the heck is tempeh? You're not trying to mess with tofu again are you?" To that I said, "It's just tempeh. Not tofu and don't worry about it." Ha ha ha!!

You can expect more tempeh recipes to come my friends. I heart tempeh. And back to my earlier rant, this meal only took me between 15-20 minutes to make. How's that for a meatless Monday?

Tempeh Stir-Fry with Almond Sauce
inspired by Weight Watchers

Nonstick cooking spray
1 16 oz. bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 8 oz. package tempeh, cut into cubes
3 tablespoon gluten-free, reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon smooth almond butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until thawed. Add the tempeh. Cook another 5 minutes or until heated through. Meanwhile, in a small dish whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, almond butter, brown sugar, sriracha sauce, garlic and ginger until smooth. Pour over the vegetables and tempeh. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the sauce begins to slightly thicken. This would be great over rice noodles or hot brown rice.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lemon Chicken Artichoke Soup

My poor mother has been sick with pneumonia for well over a month now. She called me last week on Wednesday informing me that she might not be able to make it to super sister weekend if she was still under the weather. We were all super disappointed and worried that she might have to go to the hospital. Today, she sent us all a little text that she had been to the doctor and is finally on the mend! I hope she stays well as she has really been through it this winter. It is so hard when your family is away and you can't be there to help out. While I love living here in Kansas City, it is difficult to be away from family and friends. Especially when someone is not feeling well.

They say chicken soup really has no major medicinal purposes. When I saw this soup at Whole Foods, I began to think the contrary. With lemon, veggies, and herbs, I cannot see why this chicken soup version would be anything but medicinal if you were feeling under the weather. I gave my version an even healthier dose by switching out spinach for kale.

I froze some leftovers to send with my mother in hopes that she remains well and can make it this coming weekend for our birthday extravaganza. You know, just to keep her healthy and let her know how much I love her:). Whether you are feeling a cold coming on or just need a little reminder that spring is just around the corner, the lemon and artichokes give this traditional chicken soup a little pick-me-up. It is the perfect soul satisfying soup on a chilly winter night.

Lemon Chicken Artichoke Soup
inspired by Whole Foods

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 clove minced garlic
Juice of one lemon
2 cups kale, finely chopped
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
4 cups reduced sodium, gluten-free chicken broth
1 tablespoon gluten-free chicken base (I used Better Than Bouillon)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons corn starch

Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of a large non-stick skillet. Heat to medium-high. While the skillet is heating, season both sides of the chicken breast with the salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Place in the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes or until browned. Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook the other side of the chicken breasts for another 5 minutes or until browned. It is okay if they are not cooked all the way through. They will finish cooking in the soup. Remove the chicken breasts from the skillet and set on a plate. Add the carrot, celery, onion, and garlic to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally to pick up any brown bits for 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the lemon juice. Stir to pick up any more browned bits and remove from heat.

Place the chicken, vegetables, kale, artichoke hearts, herbes de Provence, and chicken broth into a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and set on low. Cook for 5-6 hours. Uncover, shred the chicken using two forks. In a small dish, whisk together the chicken base, water, and corn starch until smooth and combine. Add to the soup mixture. Stir to combine. Cover and cook for another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the soup begins to slightly thicken and serve.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fun Foods Menu Post

I must say it feels good to be caught up on the blog. If I could I could blog full time, I totally would. Blogging, however, does not currently pay me enough to do so. Maybe someday it will. As I was catching up from last week and shopping for the Bear's Valentine's Day gift Friday, I took a trip to Whole Foods. I absolutely love going to Whole Foods. There are so many things to look at. I didn't have much of an agenda or grocery list. I was looking for inspiration. I knew Saturday, my normal menu planning day, was totally out since the Bear talked me into volunteering for the engineering society's Math Counts event. So, the planning had to get done Friday.

Whole Foods did not disappoint in the inspiration department. I got ideas for an awesome soup that is simmering away in my Crock Pot as we speak. Meatless Monday is planned with a new ingredient I picked up- tempeh. And, I came up with another fun meatball recipe for a great midweek meal. The only problem, I almost came up with too many ideas! I have yet to plan Friday night's meal for my super sister weekend. So, there will be lots more to come this week on A Nickel's Worth of News. Here is the rundown:

Sunday 2/16            Lemon Chicken Artichoke Soup with Parmesan Toast

Monday 2/17          Tempeh Stir-Fry with Almond Sauce

Tuesday 2/18          Leftovers

Wednesday 2/19     Buffalo Chicken Meatballs with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli

Thursday 2/20         Leftovers

A few of the items you will need:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. ground chicken breast or lean ground turkey breast
1 package center cut bacon
1 8 oz. package tempeh
1 package baby carrots
1 bunch celery
2 yellow or white onions
1 bulb garlic
1 lemon
1 bunch kale
1 bunch green onions
1 bag baby potatoes
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 bottle gluten-free buffalo wing sauce (I love Cookies')
1 package gluten-free ranch dressing mix
1 box reduced sodium gluten-free chicken broth
1 jar gluten-free chicken base (I like Better Than Bouillon)
1 bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 bag frozen broccoli

Pantry items you will need:

Extra virgin olive oil
Almond butter
Gluten-free soy sauce
Brown sugar
Corn starch
Rice vinegar
Srircha sauce
Ground ginger
Herbes de Provence

Have a great rest of your weekend! I look forward to posting and sharing throughout the week!

Gluten-Free Double Decker Pepperoni Deep Dish Pizza

Wow! That was a mouthful to say. Gluten-Free Double Decker Pepperoni Deep Dish Pizza. Try saying that five times fast. This was our Valentine's Day meal. With Valentine's Day falling on a Friday, we just didn't feel like fighting the crowd. We did celebrate last night though, with an awesome date night at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Dos Reales is close, reliable, and we can usually drop in and get seating immediately. My kind of place.

Anyway, back to this fabulous pizza. This dish was inspired by Olympic speed skater Shani Davis, a Chicago native. Like Shani, I love deep dish pizza. Believe it or not it is so easy to make your own at home. The trick to making deep dish pizza? A well seasoned cast iron skillet. Something about the cast iron allows the pizza crust to get perfectly golden brown all around the edges while at the same time evenly heating the toppings. If you do not have one, I highly suggest you go and get one now I say!

Ahh...shear decadence! This pizza is loaded with cheese, turkey pepperoni, and more cheese. To cut some of the calories a little, I used fat-free mozzarella and shredded Parmesan. Harder cheeses such as Parmesan pack a ton of flavor for fewer calories. If you are looking for a taste of the windy city at home, you will want to make this pizza.

Gluten-Free Double Decker Pepperoni Deep Dish Pizza

1 tablespoon olive oil
Really Good Gluten-Free Pizza crust dough
1 package turkey pepperoni
1 package fat-free mozzarella cheese
1 package shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup jarred spaghetti sauce

Heat your oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle the olive oil in a 10-inch seasoned cast iron skillet. Using a paper towel, wipe oil all around the bottom of the skillet and up around the edges. Press pizza dough into the bottom of the skillet and one inch up around the edges to form the crust. Layer 1/2 of the pepperoni on the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle 1/2 cup each of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Place the remaining 1/2 of the pepperoni on top of the cheese. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup each of the cheeses over the pepperoni. Ladle the sauce over the cheese. Sprinkle remaining packages of cheese over the sauce. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Spinach-Chicken Alfredo Bake

I swear I have not forgotten about you dear readers. After putting in two 12 hour days for parent-teacher conferences and conducting six IEP meetings, I was spent! I think six IEPs might be a new record for me. I utilized every free minute. In all honesty, I didn't really even celebrate my birthday just because there was not time. Fortunately, next weekend my sisters and I will be getting together for another super sister weekend. I think then I will feel more like I had a birthday:).

When the going gets crazy, there is nothing like feeling prepared in the kitchen. This Spinach-Chicken Alfredo Bake was inspired by the many comments I saw while researching team USA's Olympic stars. Erin Hamlin, J.R. Celski, and several others stated that they eat a lot of spinach and chicken. While spinach and chicken are great on their own, I thought it would be the perfect addition to one of my many make ahead pasta bakes.

This dish is actually better and bakes faster if you make it a day or two ahead of time. There is no need to boil your noodles because they soak up and bake right in the sauce. I find gluten-free pastas actually taste better and hold their shape when prepared in this manner. If you are short on time like myself, this is the perfect comforting dish you can pop in the oven for a great weeknight meal.

Spinach-Chicken Alfredo Bake

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups dried gluten-free penne noodles
2 cups skim milk
4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup shredded or chopped cooked chicken (I used leftovers)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Spray an 8-inch by 12-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Place pasta in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, cream cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper until the ingredients are combined and the mixture is smooth. Pour the milk mixture over the noodles. Add the spinach and chicken. Toss together until everything is coated. Spread the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to two days until you are ready to bake. When you are ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Uncover the dish and let it stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Give the pasta a little stir. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded Parmesan and place in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Power Quinoa Salad

I am so tickled about this picture! The days are finally getting a little bit longer. Long enough to get some natural light for pictures anyway. This meal is the first on my Olympic themed menu for the week. I hope to get meal two, my Spinach and Chicken Alfredo Bake, posted by Friday after parent-teacher conferences are over. For now, I am happy to share this amazing Power Quinoa Salad. I took some leftovers for lunch today. It has kept me energized and full all afternoon!

As I said in my previous post, the diet of an Olympic athlete is lean, mean, and clean, but also a little mundane in its ingredients (i.e. spinach, chicken, and protein shakes). Aside from the deep dish pizza, it was a bit of a struggle to come up with healthy yet interesting ideas. I was pretty excited when I came across Gretchen Bleiler's favorite snacks while training. According to an interview in Women's Health magazine, she munches on a mix of walnuts, dried mango, and dried goji berries. I can work with this. 

To turn Gretchen's trailmix into a meal, I turned it all into a beautiful salad. This colorful salad is packed with Olympian worthy nutrients- protein, healthy fats, antioxidants, and a healthy dose of vitamin C. If you cannot find dried goji berries, cranberries would be another great substitute. I served mine over a bed of spinach with chicken, but it could easily serve as a vegetarian main dish. Simple to throw together, it will keep you fueled for the day!

Power Quinoa Salad

4 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried mango, diced
1/4 cup dried goji berries
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese
4 tablespoons of your favorite light vinaigrette

In a large mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together until combined. Serve as a side with poultry or over mixed greens for a vegetarian main dish. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Olympian Worthy Menu Post

Normally, I don't get that jacked up about the Olympics. This year, however, I'm pretty excited. It all started over the last few snow days when I ran out of reading material and started reading Justin's Sports Illustrated magazine. The hype got me thinking, "Hey! Why not have an Olympics theme for the menu this week?" It has been ages since I've done a menu post. After more leisurely research on the internet about some of the USA athletes' favorite foods, I got a pretty stellar menu planned.

The normal diet for an Olympic athlete is pretty lean and clean. Many stated they ate multiple small meals consisting of  nuts, berries, chicken, protein shakes, and spinach. Have no fear! There are no protein shake meals in this week's menu. Yes, there will be chicken, but some of these dishes might actually surprise you. After all, everybody has to splurge sometimes. For example, speed skater Shani Davis loves his native Chicago deep dish pizza. So, I had to put my gluten-free recipe on the menu. This menu is simple, short, and sweet since I will be putting in two 12 hour days for parent-teacher conferences. The beauty of it all? Almost everything will be prepped ahead and I plan on using leftover chicken from Sunday in the Alfredo bake. In honor of team USA, let the winter games in my kitchen begin!

Sunday 2/9            Roasted Chicken with Power Quinoa Salad

Monday 2/10        Leftovers

Tuesday 2/11        Spinach and Chicken Alfredo Bake

Wednesday 2/12   Leftovers

Thursday 2/13       On your own night for the Bear

Friday 2/14 or       GF Pepperoni Deep Dish Pizza
Saturday 2/15

A few of the items you will need to make this all happen:

1 whole chicken
1 package turkey pepperoni
1 shallot
1 bulb garlic
2 lemons
1 bag spinach
1 bag dried mango
1 bag dried goji berries (if you cannot find goji berries, cranberries will do)
1 small bag chopped walnuts (about 1/2 cup)
1 box dried quinoa (or 1 cup from the bulk section of your store)
1 box dried gluten-free penne pasta
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 container grated Parmesan cheese
1 bag shredded Parmesan cheese
4 oz. goat cheese
1 8 oz. box 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 quart skim milk

Pantry items you will need:

Extra virgin olive oil
Apple cider vinegar
1 package dried instant yeast
Gluten-free flour
Herbs de Provence or dried Italian herbs
Garlic powder
Onion powder

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bacon-Cheddar Turkey Meatloaf

So the Bear went back to work today. I, however, am on snow day number three. It is kind of like a bonus winter break, but I am getting a little stir crazy. This morning I did some paperwork I brought home. Now, the blog. I've been trying to think of some place to venture out to, but don't really want to work on removing the branch that has fallen on my side of the driveway. It seems these bradford pear branches only fall when there are extreme record setting temperature conditions. Remember my adventures in learning how to use a chainsaw this summer in 100 degree heat before attending my first hot yoga class? Fortunately, there is no need for a chainsaw this time, but I am a little unsure as to where to put it. Maybe I'll just drag it up onto one of the many piles of snow for now in hopes the city will get rid of it for me. Mmhe. Probably not a chance.

While I am running out of little things to do, I have been busy in the kitchen making some pretty great meals. All of this snow is causing me to make some of the Bear's favorite comforting classics. It has been fun to think of ways to make comfort food in a new, healthier way. Like these adorable mini-meatloaves:

Isn't it adorable? Here I've taken simple lean ground turkey, mixed in some sauteed onion and bacon, and added a little surprise in the middle- cheddar cheese! While meatloaf is humble in its nature, you can totally elevate the flavors by stuffing a little cheese in the middle. Serve with some steamed broccoli and roasted sweet potatoes and you've got one healthy blue plate special the whole family will love.

Bacon-Cheddar Turkey Meatloaf
adapted from Cooking Light

1 package extra lean ground turkey breast
3 slices center cut bacon, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ketchup, plus a little more for drizzling over the top
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 sticks light cheddar cheese, cut in half

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet to medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the onion and bacon. Saute, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the onions begin to soften and the bacon begins to brown. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, fold together the turkey, bacon, onions, ketchup, salt, and pepper until evenly combine. Split the mixture into fourths. With your hands, form loaves and stuff 1/4 of the cheddar cheese into the middle of each loaf. You can pat the mixture over the cheese to make sure the bottom is sealed and no cheese melts out. Place in the casserole dish. Bake for 35 minutes. You may have to drain some of the juices before serving. Drizzle more ketchup over the top before serving if you desire. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Really Good Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Recipe

In case you did not notice Kansas City on The Weather Channel yesterday, the first major snow event rocked the city. I wish I could have gone to the Plaza to shake Jim Cantore's hand! Thankfully, school was cancelled and the Bear made it home safely at around 11:30 yesterday morning. Truthfully after coming down with yet another sinus infection last week, I'm not minding being at home and catching up on sleep. We were total bums yesterday and it was amazing. Since today is another snow day, we woke up bright and early to start digging our way out of the driveway.

Some of you might be wondering, "Hey Sara! How's that training for the 10k you're running in March going?" Well folks, I'm a little disappointed that I cancelled my gym membership this year. While actually running and training for the 10k is going rather subpar, I am trying my best to maintain some sort of aerobic activity. Shoveling snow definitely does the trick! I'm actually thinking about purchasing a gator so when the sidewalks are safe enough to walk on and my sinuses are clear I can safely workout in the elements. For right now though, I think I'll stay inside. Maybe catch up on the blog a little.

In other news, how about the Super Bowl? It was not the most exciting game, but I was happy with the results. Not that I'm in favor of either team, it was just cool to see Seattle win. What did you all think about the commercials this year? We were a little disappointed as many were a little on the emotional side. Quite frankly, it is sad when yogurt commercials trump all others in humor. Come on, America needs to laugh! I don't want to spend my time watching the Super Bowl tearing up over puppies and cereal. Anyway, at least we got to feast on this delicious pizza.

The Bear took the leftovers for lunch on Monday. His office co-workers were all asking him where he ordered the pizza from. Proudly he said his wife made it! You know you've nailed gluten-free pizza crust when people are asking that! I've made this crust three different times all with different toppings. The crust has consistently been delicious. This happened to be my "Spaniko"pizza creation. I simply sauteed a little onion, garlic, and one box thawed and drained frozen chopped spinach together until the onions were nice and soft. Then I added a little salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed, 1 teaspoon oregano. I stirred it all together with 4 oz. softened 1/3 less fat cream cheese, spread it over the crust, topped with copious amounts of feta, and chopped cherry tomatoes. Regardless of the topping though, it would be nothing without this amazing crust.

Really Good Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

1 cup water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package dry instant yeast
2 1/2 cups Cup4Cup or your favorite gluten-free flour blend
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

Heat water to 110-115 degrees. Stir in sugar to dissolve. Add yeast. Let set until the yeast proofs and doubles in volume.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour and remaining ingredients together. Pour yeast into the flour mixture. Stir until a large ball forms. Pat together to pick up any remaining flour. Kneed into a ball. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for 1 hour. Once the dough has risen, you can roll it out and top with whatever you wish. I suggest using a pizza stone and baking in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until the crust begins to lightly brown along the edges.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Super Bowl Recipe II: BBQ Peach Chicken

Happy February 1st! While February is not the most favored month, there is a lot to celebrate. The Super Bowl, Ground Hog's Day, my mom's birthday, my birthday, Valentine's Day, President's Day, and maybe a couple of snow days. Snow days might be a little lofty, but hey when you are a teacher, snow days are worth celebrating.

After being under the weather this week with yet another sinus infection, my Super Bowl themed recipe week fell to the wayside. Fortunately, this Super Bowl ready recipe saved us from eating leftover deep freeze soup again.

I just happened to stumble upon this Pinterest gem a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure who the original author is, but I thank you. With only four ingredients, it is the perfect impromptu recipe to throw into a Crock Pot. This recipe is also incredibly versatile. I thought it was great served as tacos, but you could also serve as a sandwich, a salad topper, or over nachos for a unique twist. We topped our tacos with our favorite Cilantro Lime Slaw. This recipe is totally game day worthy!

BBQ Peach Chicken

1-1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup peach preserves
1/4 cup BBQ sauce

Place chicken into the bottom of your slow cooker. Spread salsa evenly over chicken, cover, and set on low. Cook for 6 hours. Uncover and shred chicken using two forks. Stir the peach preserves and bbq sauce into the chicken. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes to heat everything through. Can be served as tacos, sandwiches, nachos, or a salad with any of your favorite toppings.