Monday, October 7, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Yogurt

The air is cooling, the leaves are falling - fall is here. And with fall comes the total inundation of pumpkin everything.

I don't want to burst your bubbles, ye folk who live and die by the pumpkin latte calendar. You know who you are. Ye who pin image after image of these concoctions, ye who have designated pumpkin latte coffee mugs or ye who....

I have a friend who knew the "secret password" that, if whispered into the ear of a barista, granted her access to a pumpkin latte a full two weeks before they became publicly available.

I don't want to burst your bubbles. I really don't. But I'm going to.

There is no pumpkin in a pumpkin spice latte.

I repeat: there is no pumpkin in a pumpkin spice latte.

I know, I know, it's hard. But you were going to find out sooner or later and it's better that you heard it from me, right?

So I have a proposition for you. Calm down, it's not one of those things. My proposition is this: how 'bout, instead of relishing the thought of something that is artificially flavored to give you your morning pumpkin fixed, you actually eat some pumpkin?

I know, I have you intrigued. I'm not judging you, dear friends. Believe me, I'm not. I love pumpkin as much as the next person. But that's just it - I love pumpkin. Real pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is my favorite pie. Pumpkin scones are my favorite scones. Pumpkin muffins are my favorite muffins. Pumpkin... well, you get the picture.

But when I was diagnosed with my gluten allergy, it put a crimp in my pumpkin groove. I had to get creative. Let me tell you, lovebugs, creativity is good.

So back to my proposition: how does pumpkin pie yogurt sound as a morning treat? Try to contain your excitement. Although, I promise, it's so good. Here's what you do:

First, we're going to make the "crust" portion of this food-fest, which is a healthy granola. (Inspired by this amazing recipe.) Believe me, kids - you'll never buy granola again. It's that good. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Into a large mixing bowl, measure 5 cups of gluten-free rolled oats. This is going to make a lot, but trust me when I say that you'll be glad you made so much.

Next, measure a heaping cup of sliced/flaked almonds and a half cup of chia seeds. Pour all of that into the bowl with the oats and mix thoroughly.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, measure 1/2 cup of olive oil and 5-6 tablespoons of maple syrup, depending on how sweet you want it.

Add four packed tablespoons of brown sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a good pinch of kosher salt. Stir.

Pour that gorgeous caramel-y mess over the oats and chia seeds. Gently stir.

I know that it might not seem like enough liquid to cover, but that's why this recipe is healthier than others. It may take you a few minutes of very gentle mixing, but this is enough liquid to lightly cover all of the oats.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the oats onto the baking sheets.

Place in the oven and bake for eight minutes. After that time, take a spatula and gently turn the oats. Bake for another eight minutes. Turn again. Bake for another 4-5. But watch them during this last round. You don't want them to get too brown.

Now comes the hard part. You have to leave the pans alone to let them sit for 15-20 minutes so that the granola can set up.

I know. I'm horrible. On the bright side, however, your house smells amazing by now. You're welcome.

Once the granola has cooled, use a spatula and "break" it up. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. ...if it lasts that long.

But now we move forward.

In a bowl, measure 6 oz, or 3/4 of a cup of nonfat, plain greek yogurt. This is the equivalent of a pre-measured cup that you can buy.

Next, measure 1/2 cup of pure pumpkin puree. You can make your own or used canned. Either way, I won't judge.

In with the pumpkin and yogurt, measure one tablespoon of maple syrup.

Add as much pumpkin pie spice as you like. I usually add about 1/2 teaspoon.

Mix together!

Now, add your granola! I usually use about 1/3 cup. Mix it together and kick yourself for all of the time you've wasted with lesser pumpkin treats.

Here's another look. You know, just for good measure.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do I'm sure you will.

Happy Monday, y'all! Have a fantastic day!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Avocado Pasta Recipe

In case you are turned off by the concept of Avocado Pasta, let me assure you that it is one of the most delicious things I have ever made with them. 

But let's back up first. It happened. We sent Kara off to law school. She's all moved into her adorable little apartment with her adorable roommates and her adorable furniture. And, well, it's been pretty quiet around here. But the show must go on, right? Remember last week when I posted that amazing enchilada recipe as the first installment of The Kara Chronicles, alternately titled "Recipes that I'm teaching my little sister to make so she won't starve when she moves out?" Well, this is the second installment. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that Kara was really skeptical about this recipe at first. As in, "I'm not going to eat that, it sounds gross," skeptical. 

But she came around. They all do. One bite of this avocado pasta and all of those doubts and nay-sayings are history. I mean, come on. How could anything containing these three lovelies be bad?

You're right. It can't be. This recipe is based on the 15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta recipe by Angela of Oh She Glows. Her recipe is 100% vegan, which mine is not....mostly. But let me tell you, she makes the most amazing vegan recipes I've ever tasted. Really - I've never had a bad experience with any of them.

But I'll stop gushing now. Here's the recipe:

2 avocados
1 package of pasta of choice (mine is gluten free - Tinkyada is my favorite)
2 lemons
1/2 tablespoon dried basil 
8 cloves of garlic (I know, I know. I have a problem. Its a love affair, what can I say?)
fresh parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Let's get started. Wash and zest your lemons.  Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

Peel your garlic.  In your food processor, puree the garlic until it is fully pulverized.

Slice your avocados in half, remove the pits, and then scoop the flesh into the processor. I can't do this without making a mess of the bowl to save my life. Sorry for the picture, y'all, but doesn't that beautiful color sort of make up for it?

In with the avocado, squeeze the lemons, taking care not to get any seeds in the bowl. I usually do this over a sieve and bowl with my citrus reamer. It gets all the juice out of the lemon. Puree until smooth.

It will look like this.

Pay no attention to how much like guacamole this looks. I mean, it tastes like really delicious halfway-to-guacamole guacamole, but that's not where this ends, my friends.

Hopefully, by now your water should be boiling.

Salt the water liberally and add your pasta.

Just in case you're curious, this is what your kitchen will look like if you have a house full of gluten-eaters (large pot) and one person who is allergic to gluten (me, with the little pot.) For this demonstration, the gluteny noodles are the penne and the gluten-free are the spirals. Oh the joys and conveniences of allergies, amIright?

 After, drain your pasta, but not too well. Some of that starchy water helps the sauce stick to the noodles. Just a splash left in the pan will do. Add in your avocado sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and as much freshly grated parmesan as your little heart desires.

Enjoy. And trust me - you will. Even though this is an entirely meatless dish, Carter requests it every single week because it is just that good. Seriously. I'm almost salivating just looking at these pictures. 

 Did I lie? Of course I didn't. And these pictures don't nearly do it justice. You'll just have to try for yourself!

For Kara, this will be a great recipe to make for dates and friends alike. It doesn't get much easier and I can't imagine it being any more delicious. Carter is already brainstorming what more we can add. I'm thinking peas and maybe some crisped pancetta. He's thinking broccoli. I'll let you know how it goes.

Let me know how you like it! Until next time!

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Kara Chronicles: Carter's Favorite Chicken Enchiladas

The title of this post might be a little misleading. Yes, these are Carter's favorite enchiladas. But we're making them for my sister. My kid sister is going to law school. Can you just imagine my buttons bursting with pride? Because they are. She's moving out to get a big girl apartment wherein, if she is like most humanthings, she will have to feed herself.

Problem? Kara never learned to cook.

It's my fault. I liked it so much that she never really had to. Sorry, Kara! So I'm making amends. This is the first post in The Kara Chronicles, a series of recipes I'm teaching my sister to cook and documenting on here for her reference and your general enjoyment. Yes, all 11 of you who read this blog.

Tonight's dinner was a big hit. And let me tell you - we fed 6 people to the point of being completely stuffed and STILL have leftovers. It's so easy - and do you want to know why?

Let's all, in our best Liz Lemon voices, sing/yell "SLOW COOKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Okay, I'm done with that magical moment. But really. Can we say win/win? Of course we can. I'm hoping this will be a great recipe for you to make for all of your law school friends, Kara! (When you speak of me, speak well.)

Here's your ingredient list:
10 frozen chicken tenders
3 cups of frozen corn (fresh is fine, too!)
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups of your favorite salsa
Taco seasoning (I use this and double it for this recipe, but you can use your own, too.)
1/2 cup of water
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Tortillas (corn or flour)
Non-stick spray

Ready? Let's go!

Spray the inside of your slowcooker with non-stick spray. Make your taco seasoning.

Next, put your chicken, corn, and mixed taco seasoning in your slow cooker. Please ignore the lack of color in these photos. I promise, you're about to step into Oz, Dorothy. Technicolor!

Bam! See? Did I lie? Did I lie?!?!

Ok, moving on. Mix it all together as well as you can. Set your slowcooker on low and set the timer for 8 hours. Yep, you heard me. If you aren't going to be home (which I'm usually not), it's perfectly fine to add your drained and rinsed black beans at this point. But if you have sweet, funemployed husbands who can add them later because you may or may not have forgotten to buy them and so he went out to the store to get them, drained, rinsed, and added them later, well, then you can do that. (Love you, Carter!)

Here's what it looks like halfway through. (Again, thank goodness for awesome husbands who indulge my craziness and take pictures of slowcookers in the middle of the day.)

And here's what it looks like after 8 hours.

Don't you just want to dump that on some chips and call it, "My dinner, Nachos!" Get it? Like, Not yo's? Nevermind. Anyway, now comes the part where you actually have to participate in this mess. I know, I know, you've worked so hard for dinner already. Not. Let's get rolling.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

With tongs or a spoon, pull the chicken tenders out of the slowcooker and put them on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, chop them into small pieces and then put them back into the mix, stirring.

On a clean surface or, if you're lazy like me, a really big cutting board, lay out your tortillas. I always spoon the mix into a smaller bowl so I'm not wrestling with the jumbo slowcooker crock on my tiny countertop. Spray a baking dish (I usually use a 9x11ish, but there is literally no wrong size for this.)

And now we roll! I made them with half flour tortillas (for Carter, Kara, and the other non-gluten-challenged people I was feeding)...

...and half corn tortillas (for me, the gluten-challenged one, remember?).

Keep them separate if you're allergic to the wheatthings.

Keep on rolling until you run out or get bored. Or, and this is an awesome option, you can roll three pans worth and still have leftovers and you know what leftover enchilada filling means, right? TACO SALADS!!!!!!! (Only in my best Oprah-Giving-Me-A-New-Car Voice) Or nachos. Or you could just eat it with a spoon right out of the slowcooker.... which I may or may not have done.

If you're using corn tortillas, don't be upset or downtrodden if they crack like this. It's not your fault, it's the tortilla. They're uncooperative and bitter about not being made with flour. Ignore them. Even cracked, those enchiladas will be delicious.

Once you've got the enchiladas in your pan, cover them with as much cheese as you want.

See? I told you it made a lot.

Put the pans in the oven and bake them for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and starting to brown around the edges.

And voila! There you have it! Enjoy with salsa, sour cream, hot sauce, guacamole, or any other topping that strikes your fancy. I've tried them all and they are all delicious. They keep well in the refrigerator and reheat well for a couple of days. Carter will be eating these for lunch this week and I will be making taco salads galore with the leftover filling... if it lasts that long.

I hope y'all enjoy this recipe as much as we do. And Kara, I hope these enchiladas bring all the future lawyers to the yard. ... or something like that.

'Til next time, y'all!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Mixed Berry & Beet Smoothie with Chia, Honey, and Kale

Goodness! It's been a while, hasn't it? Let me catch you up - Carter (my husband) and I moved, I started a new job, and I've discovered tons of amazing gluten-free recipes, you know, since that is the "on the rocks" part of this blog and all. I won't leave you for so long again, I promise. But it is a little difficult to dive into a cold pool head first, isn't it? Of course it is.

So, to dip my toes in, so to speak, I'm starting small and sharing a smoothie recipe with you. I make this smoothie for breakfast nearly every day and let me tell you - it is D-E-L-ICIOUS. Ask Carter. Go ahead! Ask him! He's probably drinking one of these right now, or, at least, will be shortly!

It may sound like the weirdest combination of ingredients but I can't rave enough.

So let's take a minute and talk beets. First of all, completely put from your mind the memories of canned beets or salad bar beets. That is unless you like them, and then remember away, my good friends. For the rest of you who are under the impression that beets taste like old gym socks, fuhgeddaboutit. That image, I mean.

Beets are awesome. And they are awesome for you, too. High in Potassium, Magnesium, Fiber, and Vitamins A, B, and C, among many other thing, beets are both a cleanser and, according to the Romans, an aphrodisiac. I'll let you do with that factoid what you will. Who knows? Maybe they'll ask you about ancient Viagra at your next trivia night. And won't you feel smart then!?

Let's get started.

First things first: I generally cook six or seven beets at once, just so that I only have to do that once a week. If you have a preferred method for cooking beets, by all means use that. But for these smoothies, I generally remove the stems (just tear them off) and scrub the beets really well under running water. Then, put them in a large pot and cover them with water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar (this keeps the color from staining your cookware, I'm told). Put the pot on the stove, bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Simmer the beets for 45 minutes. When they are done, pour the water out and strain the beets. Run cold water over them and when they are cool enough to handle, rub the skins off with your hands. If you're worried about your hands getting stained by the juice, you can wear powder-free latex gloves for this part. From there, put them in an air-tight container and store them in your refrigerator.

Ok, now that we've got that out of the way, onward to the smoothie. In your blender, put the kale (torn into small pieces), the chia seeds, and the water. Let this sit for 5 minutes so that the chia seeds will begin to soften. You are looking at two of my favorite "super" foods. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable, which means that it is AMAZING for you. And Chia Seeds are an excellent source of fiber and protein. Ancient Mayans used them as a quick energy source. So look at you, being all Ancient Mayan Warrior with yourself! I like to use Lacinato Kale because it's milder than curly kale, but if you can't find it, the curly stuff will do just fine.

After the 5 minute chia bath, add one beet, one cup of your frozen mixed berry mix (I get mine from Trader Joe's - it includes Strawberry, Blueberries, and Rasberries), and as much honey as your little heart desires. My mom prefers hers with stevia, and that's just fine, too. You can add ice, but the frozen berries replace it, in my opinion.

From here, you just blend! You may have to blend for a minute or two to make sure that everything is smooth and evenly broken down. It's an AMAZING pink color.

Please forgive my dirty kitchen. I promise my next photos will be a little more, shall we say, clean? Let's get another look at that gorgeous color, shall we?

You know what they always told you about how the more vibrant your food is colored, the better it is for you? What do you think about this, my friends? Health in a glass, I tell you. This will make a giant smoothie, but you can share it, too... if you're willing! I know that I usually double the recipe when I'm making them for two. They're just that good.

I hope you enjoy this smoothie and that it makes your mornings a little brighter the way it does mine. 'Til next time, y'all!

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