Gluten Free Risi Bisi

Dinner is not my friend, to put it mildly.

angry mom spatula

Every day the question looms large in my mind, as in, what the hell am I going to feed these people? My family is picky, as I’ve mentioned dozens of times. Besides the whole gluten thing, we have veggie-phobes, meat neglecters, tofu snobs. There are VERY few things everyone will eat.

angry mom eat it

Sure, I could strong arm it and go all, one-meal-for-everyone-suckers, but I don’t. I do draw the line at not making more than two different meals on any given night… okay, that’s a lie. But I try not to, because that is just NUTS. Mostly my husband and I eat the same thing, Bunky eats another (or a slightly modified version), and Little Guy eats one bite of whatever I tossed on his highchair tray before throwing it on the floor.

Sidebar Alert! The whole toddler throwing food on the floor thing is getting really, really OLD. One of my hands has to hover next to his plate/bowl at all times, and if I move for just one second to say, take a bite of my own dinner, or get a drink of water, the food goes flying. It is NOT cool. He’s lucky he is so cute. Seriously.

little guy peanut butter man

Back to dinner angst…

Recently, I came across this cool idea about trying the ONE MEAL FITS ALL experiment and hyping it up like it’s a big exciting adventure, and if the picky people turn their noses, they are offered a few simple and healthy snacks (like, nuts, bananas, or cheese) that they can eat so they won’t starve to death (but the snacks remain the same so they are super boring and un-fun) but — I haven’t gotten the chutzpah (er, balls) to try that yet. It takes a resolve and strength that I simply do not have after seven years of broken sleep (not even kidding).

Thankfully I’ve discovered ONE SURE THING that every person in my picky family will eat and adore (am I jinxing myself or what?!) and that is Risi e Bisi, a delicious and creamy Italian rice and peas dish that you can totally modify to your family’s picky or less than picky tastes. For example, we cook up the pancetta on the side since my daughter doesn’t like it, and sometimes a few chicken breasts, too, for an extra protein boost. But it can absolutely be all veggie, which is how my kids eat it.

Mine is a rice cooker recipe, but don’t worry, for those of you who haven’t jumped on the rice cooker bandwagon yet (which I highly recommend you do!), I’ve included a link to a stovetop version, here. Just bear in mind, I’ve only made ours in the rice cooker.

Risi e Bisi

Lightly adapted from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.

bowl risi bisi

*Machine should be a medium (6-cup) or large (10 cup) rice cooker, fuzzy logic or on/off, cycle: quick cook and/or regular or Porridge

*The above is rice cooker lingo, don’t be scared! Or be a little scared, I know I was when I started researching, but in the end I opted for a $60 on/off with a Porridge Soup option. But I pretty much just pour water and rice into it and turn it on. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup minced celery [or, 1/2 cup minced celery + 1/2 cup minced onion or shallots]
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons medium-grain risotto rice (Arborio)*
  • 3 cups chicken, meat, or vegetable stock
  • 1 + 1/2 cups frozen peas (if using fresh peas, see recipe for details)
  • 3-5 slices of pancetta, chopped (cooked separately and optional)

You can also cook a few boneless chicken breasts to toss in at the end for a heartier meal.

* This recipe feeds 3 comfortably, but if you want more generous servings, or to feed 4, use 1 and 1/2 cups of Arborio rice and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more broth.

To Finish:

  • 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream OR milk
  • 1 can of 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • salt

Directions:

1. Set rice cooker for Quick Cook or regular cycle. Place olive oil and butter in rice cooker bowl. When the butter melts, add celery (and possibly, shallots). Cook, stirring a few times, until softened not browned, 2-3 minutes. Add wine and cook for a few minutes more. Add rice and stir to coat the grains with hot butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until grains of rice are transparent except for a white spot on each. About 5 minutes. Add stock and stir to combine. [If you are using fresh peas, stir in now, otherwise wait.] Close cover and reset for Porridge cycle, or regular cycle and set timer for 20 minutes.

risi in progress

2. While the rice is cooking, you can cook the pancetta in a skillet until crispy.

Before...

Before shot of uncooked pancetta…

Food sidebar: My husband just came across this little gem at our local supermarket.

Pre-cut AND gluten free, score!

Pre-cut AND gluten free, score!

Chopped pancetta, be still my heart! It’s actually really HARD to cut into pancetta (I try not to think about why this is true, but, um, hello fatty meat?!) so this makes it loads easier. And I love easy.

Set aside to be sprinkled on top at the end. YUM!

pancetta crispies

And after! The crispy saltiness is awesome.

2. After 20 minutes, stir rice with plastic rice paddle or wooden spoon. Rice should be only a bit liquid and rice should be al dente, tender with just a bit of resistance. If needed, cook a few minutes longer.

3. When you are ready to serve, add frozen peas, stir to combine. Add the butter and close cover for 2-3 minutes to allow it to melt and the peas to heat through. Stir in cream or milk, cheese, and salt to taste. Top with crispy pancetta and cubed up chicken, if you’d like a protein boost. Serve immediately and enjoy!

risi up close

Do you have any tried and true meals that everyone enjoys? Any kid-friendly(ish) crowd pleasers? If so, please share! I could use another failsafe option.

 

Shared on the fabulous Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday link up. Click the badge below for more awesome GF recipes and tidbits.

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Gluten Free Gnocchi with Tomato Cream Sauce

Scroll down for a poorly lit photo of gnocchi, but first, here’s Little Guy looking pensive and adorable. He’s wearing more clothes than usual (believe it or not): a pair of Thomas the Train underwear and his Buzzy Bee costume. Most of this winter he’s been naked and peeing on the floor. Oh, I mean, potty training. The only thing worse than pee on the floor is… well, you get the idea.

Buzzy bee

We spent Bunky’s winter break upstate and I rediscovered my love for snow. It was the first time I had a chance to “play” with B outside. Most of this winter and last I’ve been (hiding) inside with Little Guy, and secretly relieved to do so, because I hate being cold. But in 40+ degree weather with PERFECT snow packing/sculpting conditions, it was awesome. We also busted out the sleds, and I might have had more fun than Bunky.

Too bad a snow avalanche from the roof decapitated our girl in the night. But we made more.

Too bad a snow avalanche from the roof decapitated our snow girl in the night. But we made more.

Now, moving along to food. I brought about ten bags of edible supplies upstate – including a package of gluten free gnocchi and made it with left over smashed up meatloaf muffins mixed with Rao’s marinara sauce. It was great, but so is this tomato cream sauce. Mmm, cream sauce. You really want to get in there with a fork, don’t you?


gf gnocchi yum

Okay maybe not, but wait until you try it. Creamy and rich, but not overpowering. Super easy to make, this tomato cream sauce is a dream.

I use Farbella gnocchi that my local grocer carries, but you can use any GF brand or make your own. I did once and it was surprisingly easy. But it IS labor intensive with all the squishing together the dough and freezing it and THEN boiling it, so if I can buy a bag, even an overpriced(ish) one, I will. Because that’s the kind of girl I am.

The best thing about gnocchi? Besides the delightful flavor? Boils in 2 minutes. Yup. Crazy. So when you’re making this meal, don’t get over excited like me and throw it in first, before you make the sauce, otherwise it will get all squished and stuck together while it waits. Might as well cook the sauce first, putting water on to boil midway through, and then boil the suckers when the sauce is done. Voila, dinner is served! (Side dish not included.)

Creamy Tomato Sauce 

Based loosely on this recipe. *Use for gnocchi or any pasta you’d like*

Note: These measurements can be adjusted to your particular tastes. For example, like garlic? Use more. Want to serve more than 2-3 folks? I suggest you double it. Enjoy the cream-aliciousness of heavy cream, or perhaps you don’t? Adjust accordingly.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 can of 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste (optional)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream (OR, you can sub in a few tablespoons of whole milk)

Directions:

1. Heat a saucepan on medium and melt the butter, then add the minced garlic. Cook about one minute until fragrant.

2. Add the diced tomatoes, and possibly the tomato paste (totally not necessary, just bonus flavor). Stir and then simmer for about 10 minutes, more if you double the batch, until the sauce is slightly reduced and it smells gooood.

3. Remove from heat and CAREFULLY puree, using an immersion blender (if you happen to have one) or a food processor. It doesn’t have to be perfectly blended, just a texture you enjoy.

4. Then add the cream and simmer for about 5 minutes.

That’s it! You’re done. Slide the gnocchi into the sauce, stir, and enjoy. Top with grated parm, if you’d like. We sure do.

Oh yeah, you know you want some.

Oh yeah, you know you want some of this.

Shared on the fabulous Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday link up. Click the badge below for more awesome GF recipes and tidbits.

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Lemon Chicken with Garlicky Green Beans

chicken-beans_300

Not my photography, obviously.
Credit, Real Simple magazine.

I’ll get to that lovely chicken dish in a moment, but first, some words about my photography skills, or lack thereof. See Exhibit A.

Exhibit A

gnocchi

Sorry gnocchi. You’re better than this.

Farabella is a fantastic brand of pasta that comes from Italy (bonus) and has many gluten free options, including the sadly photographed gnocchi above (recipe for the sauce coming soon). It’s unfortunate that I have yet to capture it  properly. Sigh. Maybe one day I’ll make it for lunch on a sunny day and you can see it in all its glory.

Until then, there’s this utilitarian but super tasty one pot dinner…

Lemon Chicken with Garlicky Green Beans and Red Potatoes

What it looks like at my house. On a very fancy paper plate.

Looks can be deceiving. Don’t judge. Please.

This is an old standby that I’ve been using ever since I cut out the recipe from Real Simple magazine more than a decade ago. It’s a keeper, clearly. Chicken breasts rest atop lemon slices, all tucked in with green beans and red potatoes, swirled with olive oil and lots of garlic. All it takes is a cutting board, one big bowl for tossing, a serving dish, and voila! I am a sucker for a good one pot (or dish) meal.

The original recipe uses bone-in chicken breasts, but lately I’ve been making it with boneless breasts, which cooks up faster, and is still very juicy. Something magical happens to the lemon slices on the bottom when they get all caramelized and sticky. Yum.

Lemon Chicken with Garlicky Green Beans, slightly adapted from Real Simple, whose food photography is just a hair better than mine (ha)

Yes, using 2x because it's that pretty.

Yes, using 2x because it’s that pretty.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced, 1 juiced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound trimmed green beans
  • about 8 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless, or bone-in with skin, about 3 1/4 lbs)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F for boneless, 450°F for bone-in. Coat a large baking dish or cast-iron skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom of the dish or skillet.

2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper; add the green beans and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the lemon slices. Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, arrange the potatoes along the edges of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans. Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive-oil mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the chicken, skin-side up (if bone-in), in the dish or skillet. Pour any of the remaining olive-oil mixture over the chicken.

My husband begged me not to post raw chicken pics, but this may help you with arrangement.

My husband begged me not to post raw chicken pics, but this may help you with arrangement.

3. Roast for about 40 minutes for boneless breasts, 50 minutes for bone-in. Remove the chicken from the dish or skillet, after checking first that it is cooked through. Then place the beans and potatoes back in oven for 10 minutes more or until the potatoes are tender.

4. Place a chicken breast on each of 4 serving plates; divide the green beans and potatoes equally.

Enjoy! We do. And then make someone else do the dishes. Even one pot meals add up.

Do you have any fabulous one pot meals? If so, please share! I could use a few more. 

Gluten Free Buckwheat Noodle Stir Fry + a Slice of Country

It’s November, already. I know I’m not the only one caught totally off guard by the insanely fast passage of time this autumn. I’ve heard the rumbling on other blogs. I know it’s super boring and redundant to talk about how fast time goes by, but seriously, it feels like Bunky started kindergarten about three seconds ago, and now Halloween is over, Little Guy’s 2nd birthday was over a week ago (!) and Thanksgiving is a stone’s throw away. I’m behind on posts and pretty much everything else.

How I'm feeling lately.

I can relate to how this guy feels.

But, instead of throwing up my hands and giving up (my usual m.o.), I am going to take some deep cleansing breaths (trying) and go one post at a time. First up, our awesome pre-Halloween trip to the country and a super yum buckwheat noodle stir fry recipe.

Important note from the author: I totally understand if you feel the need to scroll past the ridiculous amount of pictures of my kids and the photogenic country background and get right to the recipe. All I ask is that you look at this one before you go.

indian corn

I mean, really. How does nature make this stuff up?

Okay, so here we go. A few weeks ago we drove up to the country for what might be my favorite time of the year (well, besides summer at the lake, of course). Besides everything looking so golden hued and gorgeous with all the fall foliage, there is THIS:

Cunningham Farms Corn Maze

Cunningham Farms

Cunningham Farms is a lovely little farm in Bethel, NY. (Bethel is the location for the original Woodstock concert, btw, with a trippy museum to boot.) We stumbled upon their pumpkin patch and corn maze last year and loved it. This is a picture of Bunky in October 2012 giving her famous double thumbs up (highest level of praise).

farm thumbs up with hay bale

And now, one year older. (Same fleece, ha.)

Bunky on hay bales

They added some cool new features like an obstacle course, giant chess board, and Bunky’s absolute favorite, panning for gems. The kid is super into crystals and rocks. I mean, who isn’t?

obstacle course

chess board

Bunky loved "finding" gems.

Bunky finding “gems” with her dad.

I loved the corn maze, which I skipped last year because I didn’t feel like carrying Leo.

corn maze kids

Of course, I still ended up lugging him around most of the way, but with a face like this, how could I resist?

Little Guy close up

Look at the sky. It was a perfect mix of clouds and sun.

Look at the sky. It was a perfect fall mix of clouds and sun.

There was a tractor, because of course.

tractor

The Indian corn was a huge hit all around.

candy corn

Little Guy loved his so much he fell asleep holding it later that day. No joke. He also used it as a “phone” on the ride home.

corn nap

A real life nap. Not staged.

I feel like the corn was more colorful than I remember, each kernel so shiny and vibrant. Or maybe I just never really saw it before. My mom used to love Indian corn and every autumn we’d have some hanging on our door. I used to think she was a little silly for getting so excited about it, and now here I am. There are so many things I wish I could tell her she was right about. Corn is the least of it, you know?

She would’ve loved these guys, obvs.

Bunky thief

little guy thief

She also would have loved this blog. I think she would have been surprised about the recipes since I had never been much of a cook. My claim to fame as a post college graduate was that I made edible scrambled eggs and rocking rice krispie treats. No joke. It wasn’t until I met my husband at the ripe old age of 26 (yes, I thought I was old then – HILARIOUS, right?!) that I began to learn. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was his master plan to teach me how to cook and then conveniently hand over the tongs.

Well. I’ve come along way from those early days. For years I relied on recipes, strictly. I felt like if I strayed from a recipe even in the most minor of ways, it would end in disaster and chaos. Not unlike how I live my life, ha. Oh, the metaphors one can come up with on such little sleep. Anyway. It’s only very recently that I feel brave enough to go out on my own, to combine recipes, to leave out (seemingly!) key ingredients, to swap things out, to PLAY. I still keep it safe, as I don’t have any free time to experiment for whimsy’s sake. I’ve got a picky family to feed, you know?

So, the recipe I came up with works in several key ways for me and my people:

1. It’s HEALTHY, but covertly so (6-8 grams of protein per noodle serving!)

2. I can switch up the veggies depending on what I’ve got hanging around.

3. It is super flavorful (which is saying a lot given my spice averse family).

4. (Perhaps most importantly) It’s FAST and EASY.

Here’s the secret: awesome gluten free soba noodles.

king soba

I used King Soba Sweet Potato Buckwheat for this recipe, but their Pumpkin Ginger Brown Rice noodles are great, too. They are organic, gluten free, and super healthy. You can cook them up and add them to soup (which we did for Bunky who is anti-stir fry for some strange reason) or make this…

stir fry

Please don’t judge a book by its cover. Or my recipe by this photo.

Gluten Free Buckwheat Noodle Stir Fry (with chicken or all veggie)

Adapted from this recipe and this one, too.

Ingredients (for the sauce):

For the sauce:
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger minced or thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar

For the rest:

  • 1 complete package of gluten free King Soba noodles (comes in batches of 3 but each is about one serving, according to my family)*
  • 2 teaspoons of canola oil
  • 1 broccoli crown, separated into bite sized pieces
  • carrots (we used pre-shredded from the store, or 2-3 carrots shredded or sliced)
  • 2-3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips or thinly sliced (omit and use cubed tofu if you’d like)
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, deveined and chopped

* We also cooked up a package of plain rice noodles and used both cause we are noodle people.

Directions:

1. Mix all sauce ingredients into a small bowl. Set aside

2. Boil water for noodles. Cook as directed on the package. Set aside when done.

Gray noodles look gross, but they taste good.

Gray noodles look gross, but they taste good.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in the pan on medium. Add broccoli, cook for a few minutes and then add carrots. After a minute or two add the chicken and cook until almost cooked through.

(Sidebar: I had taken a picture of the raw chicken happily nestled inside a circle of veggies, but my husband nearly threw up when he saw it and told me to delete it. So I did. Thanks, honey. Probably a good call.)

Add kale. Cook for a few minutes until wilted down.

stir fry chicken and veg

4. Now add sauce. Stir everything together and cook for a few minutes more on low heat.

5. Finally, add noodles and stir to combine or serve over noodles. Your call.

stir fry gf

It looks like I served this version over rice, ha! Works just as well, but with less protein power than buckwheat soba.

Some day I’ll manage to take pictures during daylight hours and not seconds before starving people are waiting to eat. Until then, they’ll look like the one above. Sorry.

I leave you with this final photo from Cunningham Farms. Yup, this guy was back.

See you next year, suckers.

See you next year, suckers.

On the Cusp: One Last Summer Recipe

First, let me just update you about Bunky and kindergarten. If you’ve been following my insanity here, you know I’ve been kind of a mess leading up to the big day. Well, you’ll be happy to know all my worrying was a waste of time (as worrying pretty much always is). Day 1 went well, and though there have been some minor bumps and adjustments, things are pretty awesome. Fingers crossed it continues to be.

First day of school dress.

First day of school dress.

Fall is nearly upon us, at least here in New York. And so is apple picking season, yay!

apple picking 2013

The air is all crispy and so are the leaves. Little Guy is loving how they crunch under his feet. The look on his face when he saw the playground covered with fallen leaves was priceless. And don’t even get me started on what he thinks about pumpkins. I think I have another fall fan here.

little guy pumpkin

Fall is about pumpkins, apples, and let’s not forget about pie. Fall is savory stews and soups and maybe, just maybe, using my five year old crockpot for the first time. Fall is the time for hunkering down, cuddling up, and wearing thick socks inside (especially when you live above your apartment’s parking garage). Fall is about tucking in for winter.

But first, while we hover on the cusp of the seasons, let’s squeeze in one last summer recipe before the pumpkin recipes start rolling in. Let’s be honest, they already are rolling in, because pumpkin recipes rock, but so do ones with tomatoes. Am I right?

tomatoes

This recipe is an old standby for us, and was in our gluten days. The first time I made this GF it was a disaster. The rice pasta was slimy and disgusting. I remember shoveling it into my mouth with a forced smile. No one was fooled. I don’t think I made it again for a year. But that was way back when I didn’t know how to cook GF pasta. Or which kinds to buy. But I do now. We either use Bionaturae or Farabella penne, but pick your own fave.

I don’t have exact measurements because this is the kind of recipe you taste along the way. Some people may like more or less balsamic vinegar, for example, so start with less and add if necessary. The less liquid-y this meal is, the better.

You can also add a couple of cooked chicken breasts cubed, for some animal protein, which my husband likes, but I prefer it without. Your call.

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Pasta

fresh mozz pasta dinner

This was made with rigatoni out of necessity, but I think penne is better.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of GF pasta, we like penne
  • vine ripened tomatoes, 4-6 depending on the size – or whatever tomatoes you find at your local farmer’s market
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, the tastiest you can find
  • fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Cook the pasta NOT according to the directions (ha) but the way you KNOW works. I often cook ours significantly less than the package says. When it doubt, test it after about 6-8 minutes. You don’t want it overcooked. Blecch. Drain water using a colander and run the pasta under cool water to stop it from cooking, and then add a glug or two of olive oil so it doesn’t stick inside the colander. Check out this link and this one for some advice on cooking GF pasta successfully. It is NOT necessarily intuitive.

2. Chop tomatoes into small-ish cubes. You may want to get ride of some if not most of the juicy seeds and innards so your final dish isn’t too soupy. Put into a large bowl.

fresh mozz tomato prep

3. Cube up fresh mozzarella. Try not to eat too much of it while doing so. Add to the bowl.

4. Make sure pasta is cooled (so as not to melt the cheese) and add to bowl as well.

fresh mozz pasta prep 2

5. Now it’s time to make the magic happen. Carefully add a glug or two of balsamic vinegar. Then the olive oil. Mix and taste. Add more of one or both if necessary. The balance of acid and oil is key and particular to your own palate. Trust yourself, here. You can’t go too wrong. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Finally, toss the chopped basil and mix gently.

Dinner is served. Easy and delicious. (As long as you’re not me two years ago gagging down squishy overcooked GF pasta. I shiver just thinking about it.)

Now, before we say farewell to summer, please enjoy my children as sand creatures.

My little mermaid.

My little mermaid.

And her mostly companion. (That’s from Eloise, if you don’t know.)

Mini merman.

My mini merman.

Oh, I will miss summer.

beach family

But here’s hoping fall will be pretty great, too.

Gluten Free (duh) Burrito Bowl

When in doubt, burrito bowl. Seriously. That’s all you need to know in life. Well, about dinner, anyhow. Burrito Bowl is now officially a staple around here. Check out these satisfied customers.

Burrito Bowl eaters

I know something is a hit when Bunky actually asks for it. Like yesterday afternoon, I was doing my usual crying and moaning about what to make for dinner, and I lamely offered up my old standby for emergencies (um, which is every few days): scrambled eggs. This was extra lame since I knew we actually had no eggs. Bunky shot this down immediately and when I thought all hope was lost, she got excited and said, “I know, I know! Let’s have burrito bowl!” And we did. Even though we had no beans (thank goodness for the new deli around the corner), we did have most of the other staples: rice, shredded cheese, tomatoes, greek yogurt (for sour cream), and salsa. Woo hoo, dinner is served!

On a better night, I include strips of chicken breast seasoned with sweet paprika, salt and pepper. On a better night, my rice is fragrant with freshly squeezed lime and chopped cilantro (plain for the kiddos). On a better night, there are gorgeous slices of creamy avocado. No matter, though, because either way it works.

I was inspired by this post on Dinner, A Love Story where the author explains how she fancies it up on weekends (cilantro lime rice, for example) or goes fast and easy on busy week nights. I like those kind of options.

Here is my family’s version of the Burrito Bowl. Check out Little Guy, how cute is he? (Yes, I know I’m biased, but still, seriously.)

burrito bowl close up

Breaking it down, right here.

Chicken – 2-3 boneless breasts filleted by the butcher (or at home, but I so love when the nice butcher guys do the dirty work for me) so they cook fast, or a package of thinly sliced chicken. I like to pour some canola or olive oil in a pan and sprinkle with sweet paprika, salt and pepper, but you could use chili powder if your family allows spice. Cook through, about 4 minutes per side, or until you feel confident you won’t poison your family. (For me, this means hacking into the chicken with a knife a whole bunch of times because I’m paranoid.) Then slice into strips for fun.

Rice – Have I mentioned how much I adore my rice cooker? Seriously, it’s True Love. We had a play date yesterday afternoon while my rice cooker did all the work. (I tried to look up which one I bought two years ago, but couldn’t find it on amazon. For the record it’s a pretty simple Sanyo model and cost about $50). I like to use white or brown Lundberg Basmati, but any favorite rice or GF grain would work here. I have used quick boil in a bag rice, but my husband says it’s not as good. Regardless, when I’m feeling “fancy” I add freshly squeezed lime, chopped cilantro, and salt. Yum.

Beans – I use canned black beans and/or red beans that I heat up in a saucepan with a dash of garlic powder and black pepper. Maybe a splash of olive oil if I’m feeling crazy.

Those are the basics, the rest is based on your family’s preferences (or in my case, picky-nesses).

Yummy Add-ins:

Shredded cheese, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, lime, salsa.

Burrito Bowl ariel view

An ariel view, taken in a rush before being stampeded by starving family members.

I love a sure thing and right now this is it. Here’s hoping it lasts.

T minus 1.5 weeks until Kindergarten starts… I totally should be editing my celiac info letters for school, but I just can’t do it yet. I am SO not ready to dive into the real world, celiac style. I am enjoying our gluten free summer where I don’t have to explain anything to anyone. Sigh. Going to have to get into gear next week. Wish me luck!

 

I’m so happy to be part of Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday recipe link-up! Click the badge below for more great GF recipes.

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Gluten Free Fried Rice, Free Style

fried rice in bowl revised

If you know me from my rants on this blog, you know my family is picky (as hell), but there happens to be ONE (okay, fine, two) meals that we ALL enjoy. Besides pizza, I mean. And this fried rice dish is one of them. Even Little Guy ate some, though to be honest he seemed to enjoy the carrots most of all. Note to self, cook the kid some carrots. Second note to self, consider covering entire kitchen floor with a plastic sheet before any meal with rice and two kids. Enough said.

This meal makes my people happy, but more importantly it makes ME happy to only cook one dinner. The other night I slaved over this delicious lemony pasta dish only to have Bunky turn her nose at it. I made her wait until I finished eating my bowl before making her dinner #2 which turned out to be a grilled cheese that I burned on one side because I was so annoyed and in a rush. Lucky for her she ate it cause I was not making another. That’s right, I run a tight ship around here. (Yeah, right.)

The great thing about this meal is that IF you can think ahead – and sometimes I actually can – cooking the rice earlier in the day makes it come together pretty quickly. Bonus, if you can cook the chicken or tofu ahead of time, or use leftover chicken, even faster. In my home, I consider it a raging success if I can make dinner within one 20 minute show on Netflix. (Recently, it’s been Horseland, which sounds more tolerable than it actually is. A bunch of Bratz-ish looking hot girls who ride horses and often act catty. Oh, I am nostalgic for the sweet days of Little Bear, sigh.)

Don’t have zucchini or don’t like it? Skip it. Do you find peas and carrots to be a rather banal veggie combo? No problem. Free style it, people. Use what you like and/or what you have. Frozen veggies are awesome because you don’t have to chop or thaw or anything. Just toss right into your hot skillet.

The less work for me, the better. Time is money, right? Or in my case, time is just time and the less of it I spend slaving over a hot stove while kids are screaming and crying in the background the better. Ah, domestic bliss! Well, sometimes, it is.

Thank goodness there are two kits.

Fortunately there are two kits.

Gluten Free Fried Rice, Free Style

Ingredients: 

  • 4 tsps canola or vegetable oil divided in half (plus more just in case)
  • 1/4 medium onion diced (not for us, alas, but you can!)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb chicken breasts or tofu, cubed (this is optional and totally your call)
  • 1 zucchini or summer squash diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, or any mixed veggie you like! free style it
  • 1/2 cup corn (or not – I opted out because of my picky husband)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried ginger
  • approximately 3 cups of cooked brown rice cooled*
  • 3 tablespoons of gluten free tamari or soy sauce (we use San-J)
  • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • iceberg lettuce if you want to serve in lettuce cups/wraps

Directions:

* Cook rice ahead of time and store in fridge to get it cold. I cooked 1.5 cups of long grain brown rice in my rice cooker with 3 cups of water + 1.5 tablespoons of water an hour or so before starting this meal. Fried rice is best prepared with rice that is nicely chilled, similar to white wine, which you should also totally have.

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium. [Skip to step 2 if you are not using chicken or tofu.] Add diced chicken or tofu and cook until it is cooked through, for chicken, or browned the way you like it, tofu. Remove meat or tofu and set aside in a large serving bowl.

Often, I dice up the chicken into small pieces after cooking. Easier that way.

fried rice prep

Food prep with our over the counter drug stash in the background.

2. Lower temperature to medium low and add onion (if using) and squash to the skillet. If necessary, add another teaspoon of oil. Saute until onions become translucent, then add garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.

If you’re NOT using onions, then saute the squash in oil for about 3 minutes BEFORE adding the garlic. Then add garlic for another minute or so until fragrant. You really don’t want to burn garlic, as it is a total buzz kill and smells awful.

3. Add frozen veggies – peas, carrots, corn, or your choice – to the squash and possible onion/garlic mixture. Continue sauteing until frozen veggies are completely thawed and hot.

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Once cooked, remove veggies and add them to the bowl with chicken or tofu.

4. Add remaining oil, or another 2 teaspoons if you used it all, and then turn heat to medium high. Add the brown rice to the skillet and stir frequently until all the rice is heated through.

5. Return meat/tofu and veggies back to the skillet as well as the 3 tablespoons of tamari. Stir everything until it is well combined. Remove from heat and sprinkle with cilantro. Or not if you forgot to buy cilantro and your kid has an aversion to pieces of added green stuff.

An aerial shot of fried rice on a finger painted paper plate. Fancy, right?

Aerial shot of fried rice on a finger painted paper plate. Fancy, I know.

Serve in bowls or use iceberg lettuce cups/wraps.

Taken by phone while both children screaming.

Taken by phone while both children screaming.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

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Thai Coconut Shrimp, Curry Optional

As I may have mentioned (um, ranted), we have more food restrictions here than just gluten. My husband’s stomach has a phobia of most veggies and my daughter is a fruit and cheese-etarian who can be sometimes be coaxed into eating meat as long as it’s doused in cheese sauce. Little Guy used to be easy, but now is becoming a picky toddler. Hmm, wonder why??!!

So dinner is pretty much ALWAYS a challenge. I prefer not to make 4 different meals, but I’ll compromise with 2. This meal went down that way, Bunky refusing the shrimp even though she loved them once, sigh, but Little Guy – who is a big fan of coconut milk – enjoyed chopped shrimp mixed with rice and sauce.

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I can’t wait for the day when we ALL eat the same dinner. Am I fooling myself, or is that really possible?

Since my husband might divorce me if I use curry paste, I didn’t, but feel free to add it for yourself as I’m sure it would be awesome. However, if you live with spice (um, taste) averse folks, please know this dish is also great without.

This recipe is adapted from a new and fantastic recipe blog I’ve discovered called Skinny Taste. I also made a version of this easy and tasty meal, which went over well with 3 out of 4, once we bribed Bunky to eat a few tiny pieces of chicken. Each recipe also contains nutritional info including weight watcher’s points, which could be helpful to WW followers.

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Thai Coconut Shrimp, Curry Optional

Ingredients: 

  • 1-2 tsps canola or vegetable oil
  • [1 tbsp Thai red curry paste, optional]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 oz  coconut milk + more to make it extra saucy
  • 2 tsp fish sauce (Thai Kitchen brand is gluten free)*
  • 1 cup of sugar snap peas (sub any veggies you like here, snow peas, carrots, etc)
  • 1 small can of sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt to taste

*Don’t be afraid of fish sauce! It won’t make your dinner taste fishy, just awesome.

Directions:

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium. Add garlic (and curry paste, if using) and shrimp. Season with salt and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Then add coconut milk, fish sauce and mix well. Throw in veggies. Add extra coconut milk if you want more of a sauce. I honestly don’t think you can use too much coconut milk, and neither does my husband.

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Simmer about 2-3 minutes more, until shrimp is cooked through. Veggies will be on the crunchy side, which I like, but if you want them cooked more, remove the shrimp so they don’t overcook, and continue to simmer veggies in the sauce until done to your liking.

Remove from heat and add cilantro (which I totally forgot until we were half way done, sigh. It really adds a lovely fresh flavor to the meal). Serve over rice, or any gluten free grain, and enjoy!

Try to imagine cilantro sprinkled on top.

Try to imagine cilantro sprinkled on top.

This next picture has absolutely NOTHING to do with our dinner, but I who can resist a kid swallowed up by stuffed animals and dolls in an Ikea egg chair? Not me.

egg chair

 

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma. Click the link to find more great GF recipes!

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Meatloaf in a Muffin Tin, no joke!

It’s a double header dinner, but first…
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Yes, that’s Bunky eating broccoli. Frozen. As picky as she is, the kid has loved steamed broccoli (dipped in cheese sauce, of course) for a while now. But the other night she asked for some frozen on the side and ate them like, well, broccoli pops. Crazy and awesome.

Okay, back to dinner.

For the most part I tend to fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to meals. No menu plan or scheduled grocery store trips, though maybe that would help. I wing it every day, pretty much.

But every now and then the stars align in the domestic goddess constellation and something magical happens. I’m talking about meatloaf. Meatloaf muffins to be precise. Please don’t gag, you’re just using a muffin tin. These are savory with a sweet ketchup and Worcestershire glaze.

One of the best things about this meal is the leftovers. Yes, you read that correctly. In my family of four, well three for dinner since Little Guy just nibbles, I make 12 muffins and there are usually 3-4 leftover. The next day I chop them up, or crumble with a potato masher (my husband’s trick) and add to marinara sauce or a big can crushed tomatoes, add some dry spices, and voila, dinner #2. An easy fast bolognese sauce served over gf pasta. Or, even better, make baked ziti with meat sauce.

This recipe is adapted from Carol Kicinski’s Meatloaf Mashed Potato Cupcakes. I’ve never made it with the vegan mashed potato “frosting” – I have to admit, I was kind of weirded out by that – but have created my own simplified version. I usually serve roasted sweet potatos or homemade baked fries on the side.

Meatloaf Muffins with Ketchup Glaze

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Ingredients:

  • 1½ pounds lean ground sirloin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce plus a couple of dashes for the glaze
  • 1 cup gluten free bread crumbs (I use Schar, but whatever works)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 dash hot sauce (if desired, I omit because of my spice averse husband)
  • 2 teaspoons honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a standard muffin pan with gluten-free, non-stick cooking spray.

* I use an OLD muffin tin for these meat muffins because I’d rather not mix my meat with my treats, you know what I mean?

2. Put the sirloin in a large mixing bowl. Add minced garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire Sauce, bread crumbs, and egg. Mix with your hands to combine. Do not over mix the ingredients. Portion the mixture into the prepared muffin tin, an ice cream scoop works well for this or just lightly roll the meat mixture into balls with your hands.

3. In a small bowl combine the ketchup with a couple dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, the hot sauce and the honey. Spoon some on top of each mini meat loaf.

Bunky prefers hers without the glaze. Go figure.

Bunky prefers hers without the glaze. Go figure.

4. Bake for 20 minutes. Cut into one and make sure they are cooked through.

I’ve been making these easy roasted sweet potatoes as a side dish. Little Guy loves them. Just peel and cube two (or more) large sweet potatoes, then toss with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped fresh rosemary (if you have on hand; also delish without). Bake along with the meatloaf for about the same amount of time, stirring at around the halfway point.

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Now for the next night, take your leftover meatloaf muffins and chop up or crumble. Toss with a jar of sauce or 24 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. Serve with GF pasta, or make baked ziti, my new favorite food group.

Cook the pasta al dente. It doesn’t have to be ziti. We’ve used penne. Whatever has a hole in the middle, really. We’ve been using this new brand, Farabella, from our local butcher.

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It even reheats up nicely the next day. Seriously! That is a first for us. Reheated GF pasta. Kind of a miracle. I’m a little teary eyed just writing about it.

Then throw the cooked rinsed pasta into a bowl with the sauce and meat (or omit meat for veggie version). Pour into a baking dish. Dollop some ricotta cheese on top and slip some beneath too, bonus cheese is always nice. Then top with slices of fresh or regular mozzarella. Cook at 350 for about 20 minutes and then stick under the broiler to crisp up the cheese if you’d like. Second day dinner perfection.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mamma, and Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. Click the links to find more great GF recipes.

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Is Chili without Chili, Chili?

I’m talking about making chili without chili powder. Is it possible? I’m sure some foodies will strike me down for saying so, but YES. And in my home it’s the only way my husband will eat it, so that’s the way I made it last night.

Sure, I could make three separate meals (um, NO) since my daughter is now avoiding all meat, cooked tomatoes, and butternut squash, or I can make one batch of chili without chili to be served over brown rice and heat up some black beans (to be eaten with rice) for my kid. Or everyone can starve except for me. But then they’d be really grumpy, which would be annoying and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my spicy chili anyhow.

Self-portrait at the Christmas tree farm. Cute, sure, but picky as anything.

Self-portrait at the Christmas tree farm. Cute, sure, but picky as anything.

It’s cold here in NYC people, like really bone chilling cold. Colder than last winter which was like a pretend winter, and I still hardly left the apartment (well, I did have a brand new baby). But I have no excuse now and in weather like this I require soups, stews, and chilis. Of course the spice factor would certainly help beat the chill, but I can always add some to my own bowl. Or just eat it boiling hot.

This recipe can of course be made with chili powder. Just add one teaspoon (or more if you’re into it) with the cumin.

You can also go vegetarian quite easily by skipping turkey and throwing in another can of beans. I’ve made it that way before with black and red. Very yum.

Oh, and you’ll notice there’s no onion. Toss in a small onion (diced) first thing and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Except if you live in my house where onions are outlawed. Yes, that’s right. You see what I’m working with here. Yet even without chili powder or onion, this chili – or stew, whatever – is really quite hearty and full of flavor.

Turkey Butternut Squash “Chili”

You don't come here for the food photography, I know. It tastes great, though, I promise.

You don’t come here for the food photography, I know. But it does taste great. Promise.

Ingredients:

  • nonstick cooking spray, or a few teaspoons of olive oil
  • about 1 pound of lean ground turkey
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • about 20 oz (1 pre-cut pkg) butternut squash, or one small acorn squash cubed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1+1/2 cups of chicken (or veggie) broth
  • 1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, or beans of your choice*
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 cup of frozen corn (optional)
  • cooked brown rice (optional)
  • garnish with greek yogurt or sour cream if desired

Directions:

1. In a big pot, spray bottom or add a teaspoon of oil and then cook ground turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a spatula, until no pink remains. Set aside in a bowl.

2. In the same pot, over low heat, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and cook garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add cubed squash, stir to coat. Add salt and pepper. Then add broth, tomatoes, beans, and cumin. Stir and break up tomatoes a bit. Raise heat to medium and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3. Stir in the turkey and corn (if desired), recover, and simmer for another 10 minutes until squash is softened and chili is thickened.

4. Pour into bowls over rice (or not) and a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream.

Then go make your kid something else. And your baby. Then go insane. Start all over again the next day.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian MammaEat.Live.Make, and Gluten Freed R.D., and One Creative Mommy’s Gluten Free Monday link up. Click the links to find more great GF recipes.