Monday, March 24, 2014

Gluten Free Pasta & Cheese

8 oz gluten free pasta.  I used brown rice/quinoa from Trader Joe's this time.  Any will work.
2 cups shredded cheese.  Cheddar is best, for this version I used something called "Mexican blend"  Straight cheddar will make it a yellower dish.  This one has lots of white cheeses so it's only kind of yellow.  For a full out yellow mac & cheese toss in some American.  I hate American, so that's not happening for me.
1/3 cup ricotta
1/3 cup grated parmesan - not dry - the moist stuff from the fridge section
1/4 cup provolone

1/3 cup onion
1/2 cup diced peppers - bell, poblano, whatever you have
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ancho pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon gluten free all purpose flour (coconut flour works too, but is drier, so more milk might be needed)
4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup masa harina
2 tablespoons butter cut into the harina to make crumbs

2 cups milk
 1/4 cup heavy cream

Heat oven up to 350

make noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside.  

In saucepan combine 4 tablespoons butter, onion and peppers.  Saute until onion is soft.    Add spices, milk and cream.  stir constantly until boiling.  Mix in the cheeses and cook, again stirring constantly until bubbly and thick.  

Mix together with the noodles and put into a baking dish.  Make sure the sauce is well mixed.  

Old fashioned noodles & cheese add bread crumbs at this point.  I have yet to find a gluten free bread that I consider edible - especially given the price.  I made a topping crumb mix from butter and masa harina.  

Cut the 2 tablespoons butter into the masa  If you're not familiar with cutting butter into flour, Betty's Kitchen has a great tutorial.

Sprinkle crumb mix onto the noodles and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Everything should be piping hot and the top should be a little crunchy.

nutritional information is based on 6 servings.  It's a heavy dish and super filling.  I was super surprised that it came back with a b-.  After adding the cream, milk & butter I was fulling expecting a D.

Poblano peppers stuffed with spicy brie

A quick dish for 2 (or more if you double/triple/etc it)

2 large poblano peppers - seeds removed and sliced open lengthwise
4oz brie cheese
4 peppers from a small can of chipotles in sauce
4 1 inch slices of pre made polenta from Trader Joe's.  (or about 1/2 cup if you're making your own)

Steam the peppers until they are tender

While they are cooking mix the brie and chipotle peppers in a food processor.  I tried to do it with a hand mixer, but that failed miserably.  So much for being too lazy to get the food ninja out.  

When the peppers are tender layer the polenta in the middle and top with the cheese mixture.  Wrap each pepper in tin foil and bake until hot and the cheese is all melty.  

Each pepper is pretty filling, so I just serve one with a salad.  This dish got a C rating because of the brie.  You could easily substitute a cheese with lower fat/calories, but I wanted the specific taste of brie.  A bleu cheese mix would also be tasty I think.  chipotles not from a can would also lower the sodium quite a bit.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Coffee Caramels

I love coffee, so today I made coffee caramels

3  cups sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
3 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups brewed coffee - I saw a lot of recipes that called for instant coffee, but I don't have instant coffee because it's gross.  I used one of my favorite coffees, which was roasted right here in Kansas City from a small family roaster - Java Brothers

You will also need a 13x9 pan, a large, heavy pot and some wax paper

Add 1 cup of the sugar to the coffee in a large pot - big enough to finish the whole job in.  Because of the extra butter and cream this one expands a lot.  6 qts is probably better than 4.  heat at close to a boil until the mixture is thick.  I do get why people use instant, the reducing takes awhile with that much coffee.  also could have used several shots of espresso, but I didn't feel like making espresso.  Might do that next time though.  The whole house smells yummy while the coffee syrup is reducing.

meanwhile in other parts of the kitchen......

butter a large 13x9 pan  Set it aside.  This is where you'll pour the hot sugary caramel mix and wait for them to cool.

once you've got your syrup, add all the other ingredients EXCEPT the vanilla.

cook that over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it forms a firm ball when dropped in ice water.  Takes 20 - 30 min or so. I bet it would be wonderful if you stop at the soft ball stage and spread it between two layers of chocolate cake.  I can't eat cake, so I won't ever try it.  Some days my wheat allergy saves me from myself.

 As it gets closer you can see it getting thicker and the bubbles will start to kind of snap as they pop.  This is a good time to start testing it with the water.

Once you've reached the firm ball stage, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  The alcohol in the vanilla extract will evaporate quickly creating quite the commotion.  :-)

Pour into pan and cool completely.  Cut into pieces that are roughly 1 inch x 1 inches and then wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap.

Store in the fridge.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chipotle Chili

This chili is a bit of a change up from my normal weekend chili.  I tend to put a lot of veggies in my chili, but this one is heavy one the beans and meat.  The chipotle's give it a nice smokey flavor.

chili spice

35 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons dried ancho pepper
1 teaspoon salt


4lbs ground meat.  I usually use 80-20 ground beef, but I've used a lot of others as well.  


1 lb of dry black beans
1 lb dry kidney beans

The night before, soak the beans according to the package directions.  Drain


1 large onion diced
An assortment of fresh seasonal spicy peppers.  I use about 15 peppers.  Jalapenos, poblano, chilis and some thai peppers I picked up at the market.  The amount and variety really depends on what the market has
1 clove garlic


Canned products

1 large can diced tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
1 large can tomato puree
1 7oz can whole chipotle peppers


Other stuff

1 jar garlic lime salsa
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
6 cups water

Sour cream and cheese for garnish


really big skillet
very big pot.  


In the skillet

melt the butter and saute the spicy peppers and garlic.  I cut the garlic up into little bits, but leave the peppers in large pieces because not everyone in my family likes them and that way they can pull them out and leave them for me.  :-)

When the peppers are cooked remove them from the heat and put them in the pot.  Next toss the meat in the skillet with the chili spice ingredients and brown it.  I like to drain some of the fat from it.  4lbs is a lot of meat, so you might want to divide everything up into two batches if your pan isn't big enough.  Divide the spice mix too so that all the meat can get the flavor.  Drain the melted fat off of the meat before adding it.

Dump everything else into the big pot.  Add the meat and peppers cooked earlier. Stir it all together and cook.  I bring it to a boil and then turn it down and cook over medium until the water has reduced to a consistency you want AND the beans are soft.  If the chili is thick but the beans are not done, add more water and cook some more.  Stir occasionally to keep the meat and beans from settling on the bottom and burning.

garnish with sour cream and cheese if you wish.

you can sub any salsa for the garlic lime one, I just really like citrus flavors in my chili

The serving size is 1 cup and this is without sour cream and cheese garnish.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tomato Chili Heart Shaped Tortillas - gluten free

I made these little tortillas as a replacement for pita bread.  I like my humus and carrots are fine to dip in it, but occasionally I miss pita.  These are a great substitute - and they're cute.

1 1/4 cup masa harina (not corn meal)
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

Heat a skillet to slightly lower than for normal tortillas.  Mine was 2 lines over medium

Mix ingredients in a bowl - adding more water or masa to get the right consistency.  You want that wonderful feel of brand new play dough.  Silky soft, not dry, not sticky.

roll out dough or do the time consuming method of using a press.  That's what I did since I am awful about getting the dough even

Cut out hearts - do all them at once, before cooking.  They cook too fast to do them at the same time.  Use heavy plastic or wax paper and gently peel the hearts off.  It's easy to mess up a lobe if you go too fast.

cook 20 - 25 seconds on one side, 35 - 40 seconds on the other and then 20 or so seconds on the first side again.  On the last flip they should puff up like little pillows.

A serving size is 3 hearts

Morning Cup - March 8

Ancho Tortillas

On a whim I picked up some Masa Harina.  It was cheap.  I thought it might be fun to learn to make my own tortillas.  I can't eat wheat, so why not.

The why is simple - because once I started I can't stop.

Homemade corn tortillas are AMAZING.  I think my stomach would stage a revolution if I tried to put store bought ones in there ever again!

So easy to make too.  Takes no time to whip some up for a meal. 

1 cup masa harina
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 of ancho pepper powder - I love that stuff      I know it's not in most tortilla recipes, but I like the flavor it gives.
2/3 cup hot water

Start with your skillet.  Heat a cast iron or non stick skillet up to medium/high while you prepare the dough

mix until it's the consistency of a fresh can of play doh.  add a little more masa or a little more water if you need.  Humidity in your home can make a huge difference to each batch of dough  You want it to be smooth, soft and silky, but not sticky.

cover is a slightly damp cloth as you press or roll out the individual tortillas.

This batch is for 8, so divide the dough into 8 balls and press out one ball at a time into the thickness you prefer.  I go for somewhere around 1/8" of an inch thick but that may be because that's what my press decided for me.  Use heavy plastic or wax paper when you press.  

I have a tortilla press, but the first batches I did were with a rolling pin.  Tried the plate method but it didn't work for me and I didn't care if they were round.  Tortilla press makes it easy though and they are cheap.  Get a metal one, it will do a better job

Cook your tortillas
I cook one side for 25-30 seconds and then the other for 45-60 seconds and then flip it back and cook the first one again for 20-30 or until it puffs up.  I love to see it puff up.  The ones at the store are flat, I thought they were supposed to be that way.

Supposedly you can store them in the fridge, but I make small batches and people have scarfed them up before they even cool so I don't have any experience with storing them.  

Who needs bread.  I have tortillas!

The nutrition is based on 1 tortilla, though I never eat just one as a serving