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Prosciutto, fig and goat cheese pasta

It’s been a year. I know, I know. That’s not great. But I have a very valid reason – a few in fact. In November 2013, my mom had a health scare that eventually led to very serious surgery in February. My brother and I dropped everything to take care of her – and quite honestly, I ate whatever was available, when I could. Flash forward to the summer and I was launched into wedding preparation, something else that went on a mini hiatus for the first half of 2014. Then I got married, went on my honeymoon and have finally started to get back “in the swing of things.”

And then… I lost motivation to make anything new. It was a strange feeling. Until tonight. James wanted a fig, prosciutto and goat cheese sandwich this weekend. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a sandwich shop to make said treat. And so an idea was born.

Fig, prosciutto, goat cheese PASTA. And oh my – this was incredible pasta. It was creamy, and well balanced, and delicious. It was entirely made up as I went, and gluten free to boot (though this could be made with any type of pasta with marvelous results).

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 pound of spaghetti (I used Trader Joe’s gluten free quinoa spaghetti)
  • 1 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 dried black mission figs, chopped
  • 4 oz. prosciutto, torn into pieces
  • 2 tbsp of fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red wine (I used pinot noir – but any  light red wine will do)
  • Goat cheese to taste

To start, bring salted water to a boil for the pasta. Add pasta and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.

While your water is boiling, thinly slice the onion. Heat 1 – 2 tbsp of olive oil on high in a large frying pan and add onions. Lower heat to medium and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over onions, stir occasionally for another 1 – 2 minutes. Transfer onions to a separate container.

Chop the dried figs into 1/4″ pieces. I removed the stems, sliced in half lengthwise, then chopped across a few times. Heat the pan you cooked the onions in again and add the figs. There should be leftover olive oil in it.

Tear prosciutto into the pan with the figs. Occasionally stir in between tearing. After all of the prosciutto is torn up and in the pan, add 2 tbsp of red wine and stir.  Lower heat to low. Let wine evaporate (1 – 2 minutes), then add your finely chopped sage. Add the onions back in and stir to combine.

At this point, your pasta will most likely be cooked. Strain and add to the pan with your figs. Turn off the heat, and stir to combine everything.

Top with crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy!

 

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Pumpkin Pork Stew

The majority of October I was out sick. This meant a lot of working from home with the Today Show on in the background. During the Kathy Lee and Hoda portion of the Today Show (which is usually on mute, because that is very painful to watch), I happened to catch a glimpse of a cooking segment featuring pumpkin chili. As a lover of all things pumpkin, this is not something one can forget so easily. And so as I am finally back in action, three weeks later, I decided I must implement some sort of pumpkin stew recipe. And here my friends, you have it.

This might be one of the best things I’ve ever made.

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 lbs (approximately) of pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces of gluten free beer (I grabbed a 6-packed at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cans of green chilis
  • 3 tsp oregano (divided)
  • 1 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup of light sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 4 cups of kale, torn into small pieces with stems removed

Chop your pork into cubes. In a large pot, combine pork, beer, 3 cups of water, salt and half of the oregano (1 1/2 tsp). Bring to a simmer, removing some of the foam. Once  a simmer has started, add in the two cans of chilis, lower the heat to medium and cover. Let simmer for 30 minutes.

Add two tablespoons of the canned pumpkin to the 1/2 cup of sour cream. Mix together, cover and stick in the fridge.

While your pork cubes are cooking, chop the onions and tomatoes. Heat the olive oil and add the onions and tomatoes. Lower the heat to medium and let cook for 15 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the chili powder, the rest of the oregano and garlic. Cook another 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the pumpkin and tomato mixture to the pork. Uncover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale, stir in and let cook for another 10 minutes.

Let sit for 10 – 15 minutes before serving. Ladle into bowls, add the pumpkin cream and sprinkle with salt and paprika or chili powder.

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Gluten Free Cinnamon Buns

I don’t know about you, but I love cinnamon buns. It’s not something that one regularly gets to eat being gluten free, and unfortunately I have never found the perfect replacement. I made these paleo treats last year and while they were good (and I mean really good), they weren’t exactly what I was looking for.

Then I decided this morning, because it was slightly cooler outside, and I woke up at 5:30 am (ugh), that  I would give the cinnamon buns another whirl. I didn’t spend hours looking for the perfect recipe, I just grabbed my BabyCakes cookbook from the shelf and opened to the Wonder Buns recipe.

I was skeptical. Only 20 minutes in the fridge? This is really going to roll up in a log and hold together? Let me tell you… it does and wow. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose GF baking flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour + extra for dusting
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 1 3/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of warm water (NOTE: you will not need this all)

Combine the all purpose GF flour, brown rice flour, arrowroot, xantham gum, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl. Add coconut oil, agave and vanilla. Stir with a rubber spatula until the dough resembles a course sticky crumble. Slowly add the warm water to the dough, stirring between intervals until you have a ball that is slightly sticky. I only ended up using a 1/2 cup.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and pop into the fridge for 20 minutes. Preheat your oven for 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Tear off a large piece of wax paper and sprinkle it with brown rice flour to prevent sticking. Remove the dough from the fridge and form a lumpy sort of rectangle and place on the wax paper. Sprinkle more brown rice flour on top and begin rolling it out into a rectangle that is 1/2″ thick.

Now it’s time to fill! Here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil (split in half)
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 raisins (optional)

Brush half of the melted coconut oil onto the rolled out dough. Then combine the agave and cinnamon in a separate bowl (this takes a few minutes to come together). Spread on top of the dough, then sprinkle the raisins on top. Carefully, using the wax paper and a spatula to help you along the way, roll the dough from the short end until you have a 12″ log.

With a sharp knife, cut roll in half and then each half into 6 equal pieces. Place 6 buns on each baking sheet and put into the oven for 12 minutes. After the first round of cooking, remove and brush the remaining coconut oil on top of the buns. Put back in the oven for 4 – 5 minutes, but remember to reverse the pans.

Remove and let sit for ten minutes. Then combine 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with 1 tbsp of vanilla almond milk. Drizzle on top of the buns. Inhale.

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Gluten free grilled flatbread pizza

Did I tell you? I gave up cheese. Cheese! I do eat a little goat cheese and fat free feta, but otherwise everything else is cut out. I had a serious cheese problem. Ask James. He would tell you I spent at least $25 a week on fancy cheeses, shredded cheese and sliced cheese. I ate it as dessert. I ate it with every meal. I ate it when I was bored, hungry, tired… Cheese was my savior. And then after consuming a huge plate of cheese, I had a realization – this isn’t making me feel any better.

So I gave up cheese. I feel amazing. I miss it, yes, but that’s why I’m allowed the random moments of goat cheese crumbles and feta. Neither of which you can find on a gluten free pizza anywhere in town. And as I mentioned in a previous post, it’s too hot to turn the oven on. I wanted to make pizza on the grill, but how can one do that with gluten free pizza dough?! Oh, I will tell you.

To avoid massive heat, you can use a toaster oven for the first part. If not, make your crust in the morning when the heat won’t overcome the household.

I used a recipe adapted from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. Apparently you can make pita pockets from this too!

Here’s what you need -

  • 2 cups gluten free flour blend (I used BetterBatter)
  • 1 tsp xantham gum (omit if your blend has it already)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white (I used egg whites from the carton for this)
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water (possibly more if dough is crumbly)

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Mix the flour blend, xantham gum, baking power and salt in a stand mixer. Add the oil, eggs and milk and mix to combine. I used the paddle attachment for this.

For the water, add slowly while the mixer is still on and stop once a ball comes together and the dough is not overly sticky. Remove from mixer and divide dough into 3 equal portions. Oil a pizza stone (or a smaller tray for your toaster oven). For each dough portion, wet your hands and smooth down so that it’s 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.

Bake for 8 minutes, flip, and bake for another 8 minutes. Let cool.

For the pizza part of this, when you’re ready, add your toppings. In my case, I made caramelized onions and figs, shredded prosciutto and sprinkled goat cheese crumbles on top. Preheat your grill and oil the grate. Slide your topped pizza carefully onto the grill, and close. Let cook for 5 – 7 minutes, until everything is heated through and your crust has grill marks.

I added a balsamic drizzle on mine to finish it off.

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Cantaloupe & Prosciutto Risotto

I know. It’s been a long time. I have been going through a lull. I don’t want to cook anything new. It’s hot outside so turning on the oven is impractical. Telling you how to grill a hamburger is silly. But I had a dream that I made cantaloupe & prosciutto risotto and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

It was fate. I had to cook again! This turned out to be surprisingly delicious, but a little heavy for a summer dish. In retrospect, I would also add more prosciutto to bump up the salt factor and swap out the vegetable broth for chicken. But overall, it was pretty amazing.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.

What you need -

  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 ripe cantaloupe, grated
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup water
  • 2 ounces prosciutto ripped into small pieces

You may be asking, how the hell do I grate a cantaloupe? I know. I wouldn’t want to either. So this recipe works best if you have a food processor and access to the right blade. Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor, I recommend removing the seeds and rind from half a cantaloupe and blending it in batches. The end result doesn’t have any distinguishable pieces of cantaloupe in it so you won’t be missing much.

First thing first, as with all risottos, bring your broth (and in this case broth + water) in a medium size saucepan to a simmer.

Prep the onion, garlic and cantaloupe. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, cooking for two minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add the cantaloupe. Stir frequently until the liquid thickens up (takes two to three minutes). Add your arborio rice, stir and let soak in the goodness for about a minute. Add the wine, continuing to stir until absorbed.

Then add the broth by 1/2 cupfuls, stirring frequently until the broth has been absorbed. Do this until you’ve used up all the broth and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and add your prosciutto. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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Smoothie Heaven

For the past month I’ve been making smoothies for breakfast. This isn’t anything totally new in my routine, but up until very recently I was super reliant on protein powder. This is great when you’re in a pinch for a FAST high protein meal, but let’s face it, it’s not very natural, full of sugar and fillers and calories. So I wanted to try something new, something healthier and more natural.

Meet: the Spinach Breakfast Smoothie Family

I don’t have photographs of these bad boys because lets face it, I make them at night, pour into a cup, and they look rather green and brown by the next day. But I swear, these are tasty treats and I truly believe it’s helped me lose a little weight, or at least bloat. Here are my favorites:

Chocolate Banana Smoothie

  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Tbsp Dutch Processed Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 – 2 handfuls baby spinach

Combine all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, hulled
  • 1 Tbsp PB2 peanut butter powder
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 – 2 handfuls baby spinach

Combine all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.

Tropical Joy Smoothie

  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4 cup strawberries, hulled
  • 1/3 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 – 2 handfuls baby spinach

Combine all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Smoothie

  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Tbsp Dutch Processed Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 – 2 handfuls baby spinach

Combine all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.

Coffee Boost Smoothie

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee or two shots of espresso, cooled
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Tbsp Dutch Processed Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 – 2 handfuls baby spinach

Combine all ingredients together in a blender and blend until smooth.

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Raw Oreos

Eating at gatherings oftentimes means bringing your own food. It’s just the nature that goes with the GF beast. So for a St. Patrick’s Day feast at a friends, I brought my own shamrock inspired GF pizza and probably the healthiest dessert I’ve ever made. But they were delicious, and I don’t care what anyone says!

I bring you gluten free, paleo, sugar free, egg free, no bake Oreos! Here’s what you need -

For the cookie

  • 1 1/2 cups almond meal (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa (King Arthur’s Dutch Processed)
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

In a food processor, or in a large bowl, combine the almond meal, cocoa and salt together. Add the agave and vanilla and mix well until a ball forms.

For a no mess, easy clean up, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Roll 1-inch balls, then gently flatten. You need sets of two so if you have any leftovers, eat it! Place the flattened balls on the cookie sheet and pop into the fridge while you make the filling.

 

For the fillings

  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 – 2 tbsp agave
  • 6 – 8 mint leaves (optional, but this was St. Patrick’s Day!)

In a food processor (yes you really need one now), combine the above ingredients until a butter / paste forms. Using a butter knife, spread about 1 tsp on each cookie, then press cookies together, frosting side in the middle.