Spaghetti Pie

gluten-free ~ dairy free ~ vegan option

I am currently basking in the sun in Florida, contemplating all the amazing seafood I could eat at one of the great, local restaurants. I can imagine the cocktail I will have while I wait for my dinner, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the ocean view. And just as my food comes out from the kitchen….I am ripped from my foodie fairytale and am promptly thrown back into reality. I am welcomed by the decibel crushing screeching of my two kids; age five and two. They are passionately screaming at each other over a plastic dragonfly while simultaneously trying to eat each other puffs and chase a deranged crab that has been bizarrely stalking us all morning. My daughter looks like the energizer bunny on steroids and my son is eerily reminiscent of Stewie from Family Guy. And at that exact moment, as my kids begin to meltdown from a full day at the beach, I also realize that I am NEVER going to have that meal.

So, instead of ordering the food I am now making the food. And I know three things. One, I’m sun stupid so I really don’t want to put in a lot of effort. Two, it needs to be “family friendly” aka satisfy the grandparents. And three, it needs to be simple enough to make in my limited kitchen at the condo.

Enter, Spaghetti pie stage left.

I found this recipe via the Cooking Light September issue. I made a few minor changes to make this gluten and dairy free, and added in the minced garlic for a little extra flavor. The original recipe also called for chicken sausage but I was unable to find any at my local grocer that didn’t have cheese in them. This would also be a great meal to make vegan. Simply switch out the sausage for crumbled seitan. Serve this with a simple salad and garlic bread and I promise you will have a happy family and maybe even find the time to have that cocktail (or two) you dreamed about. Enjoy!! nom nom

Ingredients

8 ounces of gluten-free spaghetti, I prefer the  Tinkyada brand pasta

2 large eggs, lightly beaten; or  vegan egg substitute

1 tsp olive oil

6 ounces of mild sausage, chicken sausage or seitan, casings removed if applicable. *30 day substitution below*

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups of tomatoes, chopped

1 cup of onion, chopped

1 (9oz) bag of spinach

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3 oz shredded cheese or cheese substitute, I used shredded Daiya Cheddar

Cooking spray or oil

*to make this Arbonne 30 day compatible substitute with ground turkey and season with 1/2-1 tsp of salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Directions

  1. Place an 8-9 inch cake pan or pie dish in oven. Preheat oven to 500F (leave pan in oven as it preheats).
  2. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to boil over high heat. Add pasta; cook 6-7 minutes or until almost done; drain.
  3. Place eggs in a large bowl. Add hot pasta; toss to coat.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and garlic; cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add tomato, onion, and spinach; cook 7 minutes or until liquid has almost evaporated, stirring occasionally. Add sausage mixture to pasta mixture. Stir in pepper, salt and 2 ounces of cheese.
  5. Carefully remove pan from oven; coat pan with cooking spray or oil. Add pasta mixture to pan; sprinkle with remaining 1 ounce of cheese. Bake at 500F for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven, cut into wedges.

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!

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.

 

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli and Grown up Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

 

gluten free / vegetarian / dairy free option 

This meal represents to a tee both sides of my foodie mind. One the right side you have the very healthy, super easy vegetarian (with a meat option) pasta fagioli. And on my left side yo u have a decadent, gooey adult grilled cheese (which can also be made kid friendly with ease). This is a great mid week meal since the soup is done in the slow cooker and the grilled cheeses are super quick. I love these types of soup in early spring because they are still warm and hearty for the cold nights but at the same time is a light broth based soup perfect for those warmer days. The grilled cheese came about as a bit of a bribe… or better yet as a reward for my kids to eat the soup. And I can personally attest that this system worked like a charm since my five year old daugher ate it all, and even gave me a hug and said it was “a very good meal.” Score.

One reason we all love the slow cooker is because we can just “throw” it together, walk away, and 8 hours later we have a kitchen that smells like we’ve been cooking all day. Now, I don’t mean to be a negative nancy here but even though its a “throw and go” style of cooking  you still have to do whatever prep work comes with it. And if your mornings are anything like ours that prep work can sometimes be more than we can handle. So here are a few quick tips on how I make it as easy as possible. First, prep the night before by chopping your onion, garlic and cabbage/kale and put them into containers or baggies and store in the fridge. Also, set out your canned goods and your slow cooker. If you are adding meat to the dish, you can also go ahead and saute that the night before and refrigerate once it is cool. In terms of the grilled cheeses, you could also go ahead and carmalize your onions. That way in the morning, your prep time has been cut in half!! Now I know there are a few of you thinking “This lady is nuts…. I’m fried at the end of the day and the last thing I want to do is cook…again.” But hear me out….I wait until my kids are asleep, put on whatever music I feel in the mood for, perhaps I make a cocktail or crack open a cidre, and for the next 20 minutes I just jam, sip and chop. Before you know it, the prep work is done and your morning just got a whole lot easier!! Enjoy!! nom nom

Pasta Fagioli Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp Italian seasoning

3/4-1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black poepper

4  1/2 cups vegetable broth,

1/2 small green cabbage or 1 bunch of kale; stems removed, finely chopped (4 cups) For kids: the cabbage will be much softer aka”mushier” than the kale which typically makes it a better option. The kale adds a great heartiness to the soup and gives it more a rustic italian feel.

4 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1-2 medium zucchini, diced

1 (15-ounce) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup small GF pasta of your choice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Additional salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 lb of ground beef or 1/2 lb if you want to keep half of it vegetarian (see note below)

Optional toppings: Fresh parsley, shredded Parmesan cheese, or for a kick red pepper chili flakes

Note: In order for my kids to eat this soup I have to do two things. One, let them pick the noodle shape and two, add ground beef to the soup. I enjoy it both ways but since I am limiting the amount of meat I eat I choose to eat this vegetarian and save my meaty mains for something else.

  1. Drizzle the olive oil into a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring once or twice, for 1 minute. Splash in about 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour into slow cooker. NOTE: If you are pressed for time, you can leave the onions and garlic raw. But if you can, saute them! It definately enhances the flavor.
  2. To the slow cooker, add remaining vegetable broth, cabbage/kale, carrots, zuchinni, beans, and tomatoes. (If you’re adding 1 pound ground beef to the entire batch, you can cook and drain the ground beef and add it now.) Cook for 8 hours on low.
  3. About 20 minutes before the you are ready to serve soup bring a pot of water to boil. Add a drizzle of olive oil and your cup of GF pasta. Cook it according to package directions. Drain and set side. If you’re adding ground beef to half, set a large saucepan over medium heat, add the 1/2 pound ground beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, and no pink remains. Drain any excess fat. Transfer a little less than half the soup to the pan with the ground beef and let simmer, covered, until soup is heated through.
  4. Stir in red wine vinegar (divide between separate pots if doing the half-meaty version) and taste. Add additional salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Place the pasta in your bowl and ladle the soup over it. Note: GF pasta loves to suck up all the liquid in soups. So we just make the noodles seperate and add them to the soup before serving. This way we don’t use a ton of extra stock trying to add liquids back in!
  6. Serve topped with chopped parsley and with Parmesan cheese if desired.

 

Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Carmelized Red Onions

Serving: 1 sandwich

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

*to make these dairy free just sub in your preferred non-dairy cheese slices

2 slices of GF bread; we usually use Trader Joe’s GF bread but Rudi’s Sandwich bread is good too!

1-2 tsp butter or butter spread

1 oz of soft plain goat cheese

1-2 oz Drunken goat cheese; you can get this type of cheese at most stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods

2 TBS carmelized red onions (see note below)

handful of spinach and arugula salad blend. If you cant find that either one by itself would work.

  1. Thinly slice one small red onion and set aside. Heat a small skillet over medium high heat and add 1 1/2 TBS olive oil to pan. Once the oil is hot add red onion slices and cook until soft; appx 10 minutes. Once soft add 1-2 TBS balsamic vinegar and simmer until balsamic vinegar is reduced to a glaze on the onions; an additional  10-15 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large non stick skillet over medium heat and coat with a non stick spray or a light olive oil rub on the skillet. Butter one side of each piece of bread and lay butter side down on plate or cutting board to build your sandwich.
  3. Place the greens down first, followed by the cheese, and finish with the carmelized red onions on top.
  4. Place top piece of bread on sandwich and place in the hot skillet. Cook until bread is a golden brown, press down lightly on sandwich with the back of your spatula before flipping. This ensures the sandwich will stay together when you flip it. Cook until other side is golden brown. Remove from pan and slice sandwich diaganolly.

Variations: Proscuitto or Serrano ham give this sandwich the ultimate gourmet touch. 2 slices per sandwich.

Kid Version: If your kids are willing to try things, have them try the sandwich as is. The onions are sweeter because of the balsamic reduction and the greens are nicely masked by the cheese. If you have picky eaters, which I understand as I have one…. just take off the onions and greens. The goat cheese’s used are both mild so kids typically love this sandwich.