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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Strawberry Banana Split Balls

strawberry banana ball

Yes, more balls, I know. It’s getting out of hand. Will I ever get tired of making balls or making puns about balls? I don’t think so, but I may run out of ingredient combos. This one is stretching the bounds of imagination a bit. But it’s good. Really good.

Let me start by saying this is in no way meant to be a replacement for an actual banana split. Not at all. If you’re looking for a decadent ice cream extravaganza, you will probably be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a super tasty raw ball that happens to be delicious and healthy, you’re in luck.

Now that it’s strawberry season (or so I will assume since strawberries are no longer a bazillion dollars and tasteless) I am buying a pint a day. Between me and the kids they go fast. Then the other day I got suckered into buying not only fresh strawberries, but the crazy expensive freeze dried ones, too. I was waiting in line at what Bunky calls The Pickle Market, because of the pickle samples she gorges on, and my hand – with a will completely of its own – reached over and snatched one of these suckers off the rack.

freeze dried strawberries

It ripped on one corner so I very understandably realized I’d have to buy it no matter the price. It turns out Little Guy loves freeze dried fruit, but I didn’t let him finish the bag because I had some new balls in mind…

strawberry banana ball no bits

Strawberry Banana Split Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dates cut in half, soaked in some water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes (mine were finely ground already, but any would work)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup freeze dried strawberries (you could use more but they are crazy $$)
  • handful of freeze dried bananas (leftover from my banana “bread” bars)*
  • 1/4 cup (or more!) mini chocolate chips, optional

* If you don’t have freeze dried banana, no worries. Use half of a ripe banana instead, and if the batter is too mushy, just add some more moisture sucking coconut flakes.

Directions:

1. While the dates are soaking, grind the nuts first. [I do this because I want them to be finely ground for the Little Guy, who doesn’t have all his teeth yet, but you can skip this step if you don’t mind a little more texture.] Then remove ground nuts to a bowl, set aside.

2. Put dates and just a bit of the soaking water into the food processor. Whirl away until a paste is formed. You can either add all the whole nuts now, or the ground ones. Pulse to combine. Then add the coconut, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pulse again.

This is what Little Guy was up to while I made these.

What Little Guy was up to while I made these. So cute.

3. Then add the freeze dried strawberries and banana. Add chocolate chips (please) if you’re not feeding these to a baby. Pulse to combine. Turn out the batter onto parchment and roll into balls or press into a bar. Freeze until firm.

Raw dough blob very gross looking.

Raw dough blob very gross looking.

I did a totally unnecessary thing, mainly out of boredom but also because balls are not very photogenic, and rolled a few in some extra strawberry bits. It looks kind of cool in the pics, and adds an extra strawberry burst, but you don’t need to do this. They taste pretty rad all on their own.

Random but important tip: When rolling the dough into balls, DO NOT wet your hands thinking that will help with the stickiness. If you do the balls become hideous looking and slimy. It’s okay that your hands will be covered in bits of dough. Lick it off or wash it later, but keep them dry for the rolling. I speak from experience and on the behalf of one sad soggy little ball that I had to throw out.

strawberry balls in parchment

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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I’m also excited to share it on Raw Foods Thursdays on Gluten Free Cat. * Please note, that the recipes on this link-up will NOT all be gluten free, so be sure to read carefully.

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Awesome Egg Bowl with Coconut Rice GF + DF

As many of you busy mamas out there can relate, I spend a lot of my time doing stuff for everyone but myself. In the morning I’m rushing around throwing yogurt pops at people, making lunches, feeding Little Guy, that I barely have time to gulp my coffee down let alone eat a proper breakfast.

Don’t feel too sorry for me, I really do enjoy my coffee even when inhaled at high speed.

Just add milk and I can down this sucker in about two minutes.flickr, waferboard

Just add milk and serve. I call it breakfast.
flickr, waferboard

A proper breakfast is important though, not the least because when I’m high on caffeine I’m bound to crash hard and I will take family members with me if they’re not careful. Watch out. Really, it’s in everyone’s best interest for me to take care of myself. So I’m trying. I even ordered make up online from Sephora. Crazy but true!

Little Guy contemplating my stash.

Little Guy contemplating my stash.

Back to food though. I’m thinking of making some of these morning glory muffins or maybe these delicious looking vanilla biscotti, but until then I will wait until Bunky is out the door and then cook up this hot bowl of deliciousness that I call Awesome Egg Bowl. Because it’s that good.

The key to this meal – which, incidentally can be enjoyed any time of the day – is to have the rice made ahead of time, or else just forget it. Who has time to wait for rice? Not me.

I’ve made this with regular brown rice, but it’s even more awesome if you use creamy coconut rice. But please don’t feel any pressure. I’m here to help, not to make you feel all food inferior (the way I do when I browse the stylized photos on so many food blogs; sometimes I just have to take a deep breath and remind myself, I’m NOT a food blogger).

Sorry, I’m losing focus here. In the rice bowl recipe it’s also the coconut oil that makes it so snazzy and crackly and super yum. But if you have the time, and some extra coconut milk from making those healthy banana chip muffins, then by all means do it. Because you can make another breakfast with the leftover rice which I will tell you about after this…

Awesome Egg Bowl

egg bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil (or olive oil, really it’s okay)
  • about 1 cup cooked brown rice (for coconut rice, see below)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup frozen peas (or any other veggies you want)
  • 1-2 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a small frying pan over low heat. Add the rice and stir gently until rice is hot. Add the peas, continue stirring, and cook until peas heat through and are bright green.

2. Spread the rice in an even layer over the bottom of the frying pan. Crack the egg(s) into a small bowl and carefully transfer them to the top of the rice layer. Season with salt and pepper and cover. Cook the egg to your desired doneness.

That’s it! So easy and fast. Carefully shimmy the rice egg mixture into a bowl and enjoy. Throw some hot pepper flakes on top if you want to spice things up.

egg bowl

Now, if you’re feeling ambitious…

Coconut Brown Rice (in a rice cooker)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of medium or long grain brown rice
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt (if desired)
  • 3+1/4 cups of cold water

Directions:

1. If you have time, soak the rice first in about 4 cups of cold water. Let it sit for an hour then pour rice into a strainer to drain water and rinse. This will make it less starchy and also get rid of any pesky arsenic.

2. Put rice in rice cooker. Add coconut milk, coconut oil, ginger, and salt. Stir well. Then add 3 1/4 cups cold water. Stir it up and close the lid. If you have a brown rice setting use it, otherwise just turn it on.

3. When the timer goes off, check the rice and stir. If it needs more time, close the lid and let it sit in the On Warm cycle for 5-10 minutes before turning it off.

coconut rice

*Another great breakfast idea for leftover coconut rice is to warm it up in a small saucepan with some milk (dairy free if you’d like), cinnamon, a dash of vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Heat on low and then pour into a bowl. It’s a nice change from oatmeal. So very creamy and comforting.

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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GF Pasta-bilities and a Recipe

flickr, cookbookman17

Looks innocent, doesn’t it? But it’s not.
flickr, cookbookman17

Finding decent gluten free pasta can feel like the holy grail in the early days of going GF.

I remember soon after Bunky’s diagnosis we went on a mad search to replace her beloved mac and cheese. We had used Annie’s brand in the G days, but at the time the creamy GF version wasn’t readily available.

Before we knew her favorite gluten mac & cheese was making her sick.

Before we knew her favorite gluten mac & cheese was making her sick.

B had never been a fan of the orange powder. (My kid has standards, okay?) But desperate times. So we bought a couple versions with powder and ALL were failures. The one that stuck out the most was a strangely yellow hued macaroni made from corn. After B pushed away her bowl looking utterly dejected, my husband and I took a bite. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? Yup. It could. It was.

Soon after we found Annie’s GF creamy mac (score!) but looking back, I realize now that it wasn’t the pasta’s fault. (The orange powder cheese is another story.) Our brains and taste buds were programmed to seek out gluten. After a lifetime of eating gluten pasta, one bite of corn pasta is a shock to the system. It doesn’t taste bad, necessarily, but it does taste different. Like when you accidentally take a sip of milk thinking it’s your orange juice and you gag because of the shock, not because the milk tastes bad.

There were other failures, too. Overcooked brown rice pasta was a big one. The summer after B’s diagnosis I had an urge to make our family’s favorite summer pasta dish: cubes of fresh mozzarella, chunks of tomato, and slivers of sweet basil, all tossed together with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I cooked the Tinkyada rice pasta following the directions on the package. Big mistake. You know how it went down. It was a soggy, mushy, slippery, rubbery mess. I can very clearly remember putting one fork full in my mouth after another in front of my daughter, pretending to enjoy it, pretending it was fine, when really I wanted to cry.

I didn’t make pasta for six months after that. Which is terribly sad, really, because pasta can (and should) be delicious. Not only that, but pasta is supposed to be a mama’s best friend for a fast easy dinner. Big, huge, annoying bummer.

Fast forward months, years. After talking with other celiac families and reading countless blogs and articles, we figured some things out about pasta (among other things). Like you can NOT overcook GF pasta because it will suck. Especially brown rice pasta. We learned how Tinkyada can be good, great even, if you are careful to watch the clock and test the noodles periodically. Jovial is another great brown rice pasta. Pick some up, especially if you see it on sale. Totally worth it.

We also decided to give out some second chances. Brands we had initially thought were mediocre (at best) we realized were actually great, like Bionaturae, for example. Hey, it’s made in Italy for crying out loud! Italy, we discovered, is very celiac-friendly. Which makes sense, if you think about it. How could a country that is famous for gluten-rific dishes not take care of the population who is gluten free? Answer, they do. Very well. Note to self: go to Italy ASAP.

Other great brands we’ve tested and loved are: Schar (so good! always!) and Mrs. Leeper’s brown rice spaghetti and corn spaghetti. Yes, corn! We gave it another shot and love it. Especially in this recipe with diced tomatoes, garlic, white wine and shrimp. Yum.

Which brings me to my new favorite GF pasta – fresh. Yes, you read that correctly. Fresh gluten free pasta does exist. And it’s awesome. We discovered RP’s brand recently and I buy it whenever I order from Fresh Direct and it’s always a hit. They make fettuccini (regular and spinach), linguini, and fusilli. Click here to find a store near you that sells it.

Just like any GF pasta, the key is DO NOT overcook. The great thing about fresh pasta is that it’s ready in 2 minutes. Seriously. No joke. Sure, it’s a bit pricey, but so is gluten fresh pasta. It’s worth a splurge every now and then. Or, um, almost every week.

This delicious recipe, adapted from About.com, is reason enough to try out this pasta.

IMG_1606

Butternut Squash Pasta with Brown Butter and Sage

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, about 2 pounds (I’ve used about half and it was OK)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 packages of RP’s fresh fettuccine*
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 dozen sage leaves (or as many as you get in a package)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan

* It really depends on how much pasta you eat. My family of three (not counting the Little Guy) can easily put away 2 packages. You could also use any kind of regular GF pasta. If so, you’ll want to cook it a few minutes sooner since it will need more time.

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 375°. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash. Scoop out seeds and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes. You could also buy the squash pre-cut and cubed. Toss squash with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Spread it out on a large jelly roll pan or roasting pan.

2. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned, turning about halfway through the roasting time.

3. When the squash is nearly finished, put water on to boil for the pasta. Fresh pasta cooks super fast, so wait until after step 4 to cook it.

4. In a large saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat, cook butter and sage leaves until the butter begins to brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 1 minute. Do not let the butter (or garlic) burn. Remove from heat and remove the sage with a slotted spoon; use a spoon to crumble. It should smash up into pieces quite easily.

5. Cook pasta as directed on the package. About 2 minutes for RP’s fresh pasta.

6. Add the cooked and drained pasta to the butter mixture, along with the crumbled sage and roasted butternut squash. Put back on the heat and continue cooking stirring, until pasta and squash are hot. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Toss with the 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese just before serving. Garnish with more Parmesan.

IMG_1604

By the way, tonight I gave Bunky a new pasta – Ancient Harvest’s Quinoa made from quinoa and corn flour. She didn’t bat an eye. Ate up the entire bowl. Sure, it was doused with butter, but still. Made me a bit teary to see how far we’ve come.

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.

Pumpkin Soup in the Country

One of Bunky’s, and my, favorite fall books is Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper. It’s a gorgeously illustrated story about three bickering pals, Duck, Cat, and Squirrel, who live in a hollowed out white pumpkin and make delicious pumpkin soup.

Every time I read it, I want to eat the soup. The author makes it sound, and look, so good. But I’ve never made it until now.

The recipe I made is adapted from Gluten Free Girl and The Chef to fit my (picky as hell) family. I thought I had a fighting chance with Bunky, but not surprisingly she didn’t like it. My husband, however, said it was The Best Soup he EVER had. This is coming from a guy who doesn’t throw out gratuitous compliments. Also, we were totally annoyed with each other at the time, so clearly the soup had to be AWESOME.

I think Duck, Cat & Squirrel would approve.

Pumpkin Soup adapted from Gluten Free Girl and The Chef

Ingredients

5-pound sugar or pie pumpkin
4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
cracked black pepper
1 large carrot, peeled and large diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and medium diced
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated is best, regular is fine
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (sub coconut milk for DF)
2 tbsps butter** (skip this for DF)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Carefully cut the top off of the pumpkin and cut it into quarters. (I used two smaller pumpkins.) Scrape out the seeds and the innards and set the seeds aside*.

Place the pumpkin quarters in a baking dish and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft enough to scoop with a spoon. Let cool to room temperature. Scoop the pumpkin flesh from the pumpkin and set aside.

2. Place a soup pot over medium heat. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the carrot and garlic to the hot oil and cook. Stir frequently so the garlic browns lightly but doesn’t burn. Cook until the carrot is somewhat softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add the sage and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the sweet potato, nutmeg, and bay leaf to the stockpot. Pour in the chicken broth and pumpkin flesh. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is fork-soft.

It’s burbling away. Looks witchy, doesn’t it?

3. Remove pot from heat. Take out bay leaf. I also took out the chunks of garlic, but you can leave those in if you’d like. Carefully, use an immersion blender to puree soup to desired consistency. It can be a little chunky if you like, or very smooth. Mine was mostly smooth with a bit of texture.

WARNING – be careful not to splash yourself with hot soup while blending. Transfer to a large serving bowl first if you prefer, and then return to the pot once blended. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender or Cuisinart and then back to the pot.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream and butter. Put soup back in pot (if not there already) and bring to a boil and reduce to low heat. Let simmer until soup is thickened to your liking (about 10 minutes).

* If you want to bake the pumpkin seeds, spread them on a baking sheet and lightly coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake in the oven with the pumpkin, until the seeds start to brown (5 to 10 minutes). Remove from oven and season with salt.

For some reason I am unable to roast pumpkin seeds. I either over or undercook them. They are never edible. Don’t let my own failure stop you, though. I’m sure the soup would be lovely with some sprinkled on top.

My husband and I enjoyed this soup for dinner and lunch the next day. I was concerned about how to transfer the leftovers for the ride home, but turns out my worry was unnecessary. There was not a drop left.

A delicious, warm lunch.

My new plan for our country weekends is to make soup or stew the first night so we can all enjoy a warm lunch the next day. This way we can cut down on our cold sandwich intake. I just need to find a recipe everyone will enjoy. Having 2 out of 4 family members give it the thumbs up isn’t bad, but next time I’m shooting for at least 3.

Let me know if you make this soup. It takes some time, but it is SO worth the effort. Check out the original recipe if your family tolerates more spice and onion. You could also add some freshly grated ginger to heat it up. Oh, that sounds good…

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian Mama, Eat.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.