Zucchini Patties

gluten free / dairy free option / vegan option

There are two words I would use to describe zucchini. The first is Prolific.. The other would be Huge. I assume you see where this is going and that it goes without saying…. I have a ton of zucchini in my house. Between my mom’s garden and a few friends I find myself staring at the zuchinni wondering how many different recipes I can create or find with zuchinni as the main ingredient. And since zuchinni bread is the poster child of Zucchiniville, and I like to walk off the beaten path whenever possible…. I decided to start off with a savory dish like the patties you see above.

These zucchini patties are crazy good!! And minus the shredding which can be a bit annoying, they are a breeze to make. Both my kids devour them and will even eat them multiple times in a week!!! I mean…that NEVER happens in my house…. not unless its chicken tenders or dessert. And they are super versatile. My hubby and I make BLT  or BELT stacks with them…..ridiculously good. We take one patty and give it a swipe of Veganaisse, top that with mixed greens, bacon, tomatoes and an occasional fried egg and you would give up sex for a month to get another one. I promise. They are also superb topped with a slow cooked pulled pork and creamy slaw or make them mini and use them as a base for your own version of salmon latkes.

I ALWAYS double the recipe so I can make one batch with regular cheese and one with vegan cheese….I live in a divided household when it comes to cheese. For true vegans….I have never made these completely vegan and removed the egg, But I assume a flax-seed egg or other egg alternative would work just fine.

Enjoy!! nom nom

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini**

1 small onion shredded (grated)**

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, I use Daiya shredded cheese

1 egg or flaxseed egg

1/2 cup gluten-free bisquick (or regular bisquick if you are GF friendly)

salt and pepper to taste

**The quickest and easiest way to shred the zucchini and onion is with a food processor fitted with the shredding blade. Make sure you scoop out the seeds from the zuchinni before shredding. Once they are shredded, squeeze all the excess water from both the zucchini and the onion.

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until completely mixed together
  2. Heat enough oil to coat your skillet (I use grapeseed or canola) to medium heat.
  3. Drop mixture by the spoonful to make approximately 6 patties
  4. Let them cook on each side until brown, appx 5-7 minutes per side.
  5. Place on a paper towel lined plate to drain off the excess oil

 

Would love to hear of any awesome zucchini patty concoctions you come up with!

Creamy Cilantro Chicken

gluten free – dairy free 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 5-6 hours on low, 3-4 on high

Whew! I don’t know about your neck of the woods but here in Milwaukee it is H.O.T!!!!! And when it is this humid and muggy the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven. I know most of us look at our slow cooker and think about all those yummy, warm winter dishes we make or it gets moved to the basement to take the summer off. But you couldn’t be more wrong!!! There is literally no better way to make dinner on a hot day than with your slow cooker!

I initially came across this dish via Pinterest a couple of months ago, and my mouth was watering looking at the picture. You see, I LOVE creamy anything; cream sauces, creamy desserts, damn I even love cream on my fruit. But (there is always a but, no?) my stomach can no longer handle dairy so in addition to my mission to make all my favorite foods gluten free I now get to add dairy free to the mix. This recipe originally called for heavy cream, so I did a little research and discovered that silken tofu can be a great dairy free substitution for whole milk or heavy cream. As luck would have it, the swap also made this dish significantly healthier as the fat content and calorie count was drastically reduced! With fresh cilantro from my mom’s garden and the swap of silken tofu for heavy cream this dish is made for summer. Pair it with some cauliflower rice and fresh green beans and dinner is served…..without breaking a sweat! Enjoy!! nom nom

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 TBS chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4-1/2 tsp pepper

2 TBS olive oil

2 cups of chicken broth

1/4 cup of lime juice

1/2 cup silken tofu; blended to be the consistency of heavy cream**

2 TBS chopped cilantro; more for garnish if desired

1 TBS cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of water

** If you do not have a problem with dairy or want a richer dish you can sub in heavy cream or milk for the silken tofu. The silken tofu makes this dish less calorie laden and decreases the amount fat in this dish.**

 

  1. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add olive oil. Place all the dry spices in a shallow bowl. Rub the seasoning into the chicken on each side. Pan sear in the hot oil until each side is brown; 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the chicken broth and lime juice and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high 3-4 hours. Right before the chicken is done, carefully remove the chicken and add silken tofu, cilantro, and cornstarch with water; mix well. Add the chicken back to the slow cooker and continue to cook until sauce starts to thicken about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Serve over rice or preferred grain. Garnish with additional fresh cilantro if desired.

Steak and Sweet Potato Bowl

It is bowl time again my friends!!! And this time we are taking a Latin approach. This recipe is super simple albeit a little putsy with the marinade and dressing. But have no fear, I wrote down a few time-saving tips at the end to make this an easy option for weeknight meals. This has an earthy spice rather than a hot spice so it can work well for the kiddos too!! And if you want to make this vegetarian, it’s easy!! Just double up on the black beans or add in pinto beans for some variety! Add in some extra vegetables like sautéed corn and peppers and voila, a vegetarian bowl!!! This recipe is great the day after for lunch if you are so lucky to have leftovers!!! Enjoy! nom nom!!

gluten free / dairy free / grain free option / vegetarian option

Makes 2 bowls.

Sweet Potato Bowl 

1 cup cooked organic brown rice or Cauliflower Rice

2/3-3/4 cup black beans

1 avocado; sliced

1 cup of sweet potato (approximately 1 large sweet potato); peeled and cubed

6-8 ounces of flank steak; marinated for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking

2 TBS roasted pumpkinseed kernels; usually found in bulk section

4 TBS. fresh cilantro, chopped

2 TBS. salsa verde

Steak Marinade

2 TBS neutral tasting oil, I like grapeseed or EVOO

1/4 cup orange juice, preferably fresh

2 TBS lime juice; preferably fresh

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 TBS cilantro, chopped

1/2 tsp jalapeno, diced (optional)

Honey-Chipotle  Dressing

1 TBS olive oil

1 TBS adobo sauce

2 TBS honey

1 TBS fresh lime juice

  1. For the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Place meat in large ziploc bag and pour mixture into the bag. Make sure the bag is sealed and massage bag until the marinade has coated the steak evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes though all day is preferrable to ensure the meat is tender!
  2. Preheat oven to 425.
  3. Prepare rice according to package directions. Once cooked, toss the rice with salsa verde and set aside
  4. Meanwhile, place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast until crisp with slightly dark edges, approximately 20-30 minutes
  5. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the steak to your desired doneness. For medium rare, cook on the first side for 8 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 6 minutes. Remove to plate and lest rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice against the grain 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
  6. For the Honey Chipotle Dressing, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Once all the components are done you can assemble your bowl!!! Start with the rice as your base followed by the sweet potaoes, black beans, 3-4 ounces of sliced steak, sliced avocado and pumpkin seeds to finish
  8. Drizzle with Honey Chipotle dressing and enjoy!!!

Time Saving TIPS!!

  1. Prepare the marinade and dressing the night before. The steak can marinate overnight and just remove the dressing once you start dinner so it can come to room temperature
  2. Buy the sweet potaoes already cubed!! Either frozen and make sure to thaw them before baking or Trader Joe’s has cubed sweet potaoes in the refrigerated produce section
  3. You can also make the rice ahead of time! We eat alot of rice so we make a big batch on Sunday and use it throughout the week!

 

 

 

 

Coconut Basil Curry Chicken

gluten free / dairy free / vegetarian option / grain free option

 

In my house, Mondays are slow cooker days. They are one of the busier days for our family and it’s also one of my non-blogging days which means I’m not preparing delicious meals all day. Side note…they are not always delicious, but rest assured ONLY the delicious ones make it here!!! I also find that Mondays seem to be the day when all hell breaks loose. So I FINALLY figured out that when we are transitioning back into our routines after the weekend and trying to find our groove again that it is SOOOOO nice not having to scramble to put dinner on the table. I mean…I don’t know about you, but I would much rather sit down with my cocktail of choice (that is a MUST in this scenario), play with my kids and enjoy the fact that some machine just did 98% of my job AND that dinner will actually be served on time.

I found this recipe via The Food Charlatan. She is a new favorite of mine and I find that I can convert almost all of her recipes to be gluten-free with ease!!! I made a few minor changes to the recipe but all in all it is pretty much the same. I swapped out the bone in skin on chicken thighs for boneless and skinless. Mainly because it was less fat but as a happy by product it also eliminated a bit of work towards the end of the recipe. I also messed a little with the spice ratio but again nothing major. I just needed to make it a bit more kid friendly in regards to spice level.  I believe this recipe originated from Better Homes and Garden.

Slow Cooker Meal

Basil Coconut Curry Chicken

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 4-5 hours on high, 6-8 on low

Ingredients

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs; if you are vegan/vegetarian sub Crispy Tofu
salt and pepper to season chicken
1 TBS oil
2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk; I use one light and one full fat coconut milk
2 TBS dried basil leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 TBS sweet curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 large red onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped; if you want less spicy for kids start with 1
1 TBS gluten free cornstarch
1 TBS cold water
1- 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced; depending on your level of love for ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Salt and pepper each side of the thigh. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and add the oil.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add 3-4 chicken thighs. Make sure not to over crowd them in the pan. Leave a little space inbetween each thigh. Cook for about 2 minutes, until nicely browned. Then flip the chicken over to brown the other side for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Repeat the process with remaining chicken.
  3. In the crock pot combine coconut milk, basil, salt, pepper, sweet curry, and chili powder. Whisk to combine.
  4. Add the chopped red onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Add the browned chicken and stir to combine.
  5. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. Once it is done you can shred the chicken thighs in the slow cooker with two forks. Go ahead and add the ginger.
  6.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water. Add this to the crock pot and stir.
  7. Return the lid and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the cilantro.
  8. Serve with rice or Cauliflower Rice.

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Crunch Bowl with Salmon

gluten free / dairy free / vegan option

Food bowls….not necessarily a new invention but they are definately the cool kids of food presentation right now. For starters, practically any meal you make looks bigger and better when you put it in a bowl.

Notice how I said looks bigger???  When your meal in a bowl instead of on a plate you are likely to eat less because of the structure of the bowl, i.e. less surface across and higher sides. But in the same breath you feel just as satisfied with less  because your food is stacked and mounded giving the illusion of more food. And that makes your brain and belly happy!

Food bowls are also aesthetically more pleasing than looking at your food on a plate because the bowl allows you to layer your food which gives you the most appealing mouthful possible. This creates adventure for you mouth..aka a “party in your mouth” which is how my five-year old so adeptly describes eating cake.

I think Asian food also presents really well in a bowl because of its elemental structure. Most Asian food is served with either noodles or rice as a base and is then finished with sautéed vegetables and the protein of choice. This bowl is amazing both hot and cold, as I found out the other day when I had the leftovers for lunch. So next time you want to switch things up or you are looking for an easy way to eat less and still feel satisfied, try a bowl!! FYI….kids also love to help make their bowl and it can get them more engaged with the food you want them to eat!

Makes 2 bowls

Ingredients:

Bowl

1 cup quinoa

2 cups of chicken broth or water

3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks

1 large red pepper; thinly sliced

1 package of edamame, thawed

1/2 of a small red cabbage; cored and thinly sliced

8 ounces of skin on  wild caught salmon filets or 1 pkg of extra firm tofu to make vegan

2 teaspoons of chopped dry roasted peanuts (optional)

 

Thai Suace for Salmon or *Tofu (see notes at end for prep)

1/2 cup of GF soy sauce or coconut aminos

4 cloves of garlic; minced

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1-2 teaspoons of Siracha Chili Sauce; I use Lee Kum Kee brand

2 TBS. of rice vinegar

3 teaspoons of fish sauce

2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil

Juice of 1 lime

Sesame Peanut Sauce

2 TBS. of natural creamy peanut butter

2 TBS. of rice vinegar

1/2 TBS. sesame oil

1 teaspoon of lemongrass seasoning; we get ours at Penzey’s

1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice

Juice of 1 lime

  1. Combine all the ingredients for sauce in a bowl. Place the salmon in another bowl and pour marinade over the salmon. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes. Periodically brush or baste salmon with the marinade. If you are using tofu, put the sauce in fridge until you need it in Step 6.
  2. Place quinoa and 2 cups of chicken broth or water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 mnutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare your sesame peanut sauce and vegetables.
  4. Once salmon has marinated for at least 30 minutes, remove from the fridge. Put enough oil to cover the bottom of a medium skillet. Place skillet on medium high heat.
  5. Once oil is hot, remove the salmon from the marinade and reserve the marinade to use with vegetables. Place salmon skin side down and sear for 3-4 minutes or until cooked about halway up the filet. Flip salmon over, place pat of butter on filet and put in oven for  another 4 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cutting board or plate.
  6. Wipe out the skillet and put back on stove on medium heat. Put a swirl of oil in the pan and add vegeatbles to pan. Saute the vegetables for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add in the reserved marinade and continue to saute until the vegetables are fork tender, another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Put quinoa in the bottom of your bowl, followed by the vegetables and place the salmon on top. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts (if using), and drizzle sesame peanut sauce on top.

Tofu Option:

If you are using tofu instead of salmon follow the recipe for Crispy Tofu. Note that to prep the tofu you need to let it sit overnight so plan accordingly! Follow steps 1-3 from above. Jump down to Step 6 and in addition to the vegetables add in the Crispy Tofu and the sauce you prepared in Step 1.

 

Crispy Tofu

gluten free / vegan / dairy free

 

Meat. I don’t know about you guys but I have a love/hate relationship with it. I try to go meatless at least 3-4 times a week. Primarily, because it is the best for our bodies to be on a plant based protein diet rather than an animal based diet. And while I could spend hours (which I don’t have) telling you why that is I will instead just include a link to view a clip of an amazing documentary called Forks Over Knives. This documentary examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases such as diabetes, cancer and obesity that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. It is a truly eye opening film whether you are looking to go vegetarian permanently or like me are looking for the perfect balance of both. I also began to contemplate the idea of being vegetarian because since the birth of my son in 2014 I have developed quite an aversion to certain meats like poultry and sometimes pork. I can only eat chicken in certain dishes and have to vacate the room if anyone heats up poultry or pork in the microwave, as the smell makes me beyond nauseous. And finally, but not any less important is what my consumption of meat means to our environment. Unfortunately, animal agriculture is a pretty big negative when it comes to the health of our enviornment.  It requires massive amounts of land, water and energy to raise and slaughter the animals and contributes to more than half of the green house gas emissions currently plaguing our earth. If you want to learn more check out this article from PETA on the enviornment and meat. So, while I can take down a steak with the best of them I know that in the long run it is not in my best interest personally or as a member of our planet to eat meat 24/7. So, here is a great protein alternative!

My hubby, aka the Weekend Chef makes killer tofu. It is light and crispy on the outside while having a firm yet creamy texture on the inside. Since I started eating tofu more regularly I have realized this is not always on easy feat to accomplish. More often than not, tofu can turn out either mushy or like rubber. The recipe below is a basic preperation for tofu.No bells and whistles so it can be a great protein base for almost any recipe. Just prepare it as written below and add to your recipe. I use this tofu alot when I am preparing curry or asian inspired dishes. I will make the sauce and add in the tofu near the end so it can soak up some of the flavor. If I am using the tofu with a aslow cooker recipe, I add it in about 15-20 minutes before serving. Tofu quesadillas are another great (and easy) family meal!!  Let everyone choose their own toppings and dinner is served! Enjoy!! nom nom

 

1 pkg of extra firm Tofu; we use Nayosa’s organic tofu

1/4-1/2 cup of neutral tasting oil; we use Grapeseed oil

  1. Drain liqiud from package. Place tofu block on cutting board and cut it into desired shape; cubes, patties or matchstick are common forms.
  2. Place tofu on a wire rack, place in fridge and allow to dry overnight.
  3. When you are ready to cook the tofu, place your skillet on medium-high heat and add oil.
  4. Once oil is hot, place the tofu in the skillet and “fry” until crisy and light golden brown on all sides. Approximately 1-2 minutes per side.
  5. Remove from oil and place the tofu on a lined plate to drain off excess oil.

Spinach and Black Bean Casserole

gluten-free/vegetarian/dairy free option/kid friendly

Whew! What a whirlwind ending to April!!! We have been in Florida for the past week enjoying the sun and sand and having a long overdue family reunion with my dad’s side of the family. And we were super blessed to have 80 degree weather and cloudless skies the whole time we were there. The warm weather and lazy days on the beach got me thinking about dishes that are quick and easy to prepare and that highlight the yummy produce I still have frozen in my freezer that need to disappear to make room for all the new yummy produce that is coming our way over the next few months. And since Cinco de Mayo is in a couple of days I thought this recipe would be perfect!! Serve it with guacamole and margaritas and you are guaranteed to have a fantastic Cinco de Mayo gathering!

This dish was originally made as enchiladas using flour tortillas but once I became gluten-free this dish morphed into what you see today. At first I attempted to make the enchiladas using corn tortillas but more often than not they would crack and break creating more of a messy casserole than enchiladas. So instead of fighting it I went along for the ride and switched things up! I also realized that by making it a casserole and not enchiladas I shaved about 10 minutes off my prep time, which is always a good thing in my book! But if you are jonesing for enchiladas or are using flour tortillas I made some substitution notes at the end of the recipe. Enjoy!! nom nom

 

1 15.5oz can of black beans; rinsed

4 oz can of green chilies

10 oz package of frozen spinach; thawed, squeeze out excess liquid

1 cup of frozen corn; omit if doing 30 day and replace with peppers or pinto beans

1/2 tsp. cumin

2 cups of sharp shredded cheddar cheese or non dairy shredded cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 16oz salsa

1 package of small corn tortillas

  1. In a medium bowl mash half the beans. Add the spinach, green chilies, corn, cumin, 1 cup of cheese, remaining beans and salt and pepper. Mix to combine
  2. Spread 1/2-1 jar of salsa in bottom of casserole dish. I use an oval casserole dish but a 13×9 pan would work as well.
  3. Place a single layer of tortillas down, tearing if necessary to cover any gaps. Spread approximately 1 cup of black bean mixture evenly across tortillas, then 1/2-3/4 cup of salsa, and 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat this process again.
  4. Bake at 425 for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly

Substitution Notes: If you make these as enchiladas using either flour or corn follow steps 1 and 2 as written above then lay the tortillas flat on the counter and divide the mixture evenly among the tortillas. Roll and place seam side down in a 13×9 pan. Finish recipe as written above.