Thursday, May 29, 2014

BBQ Meatloaf Muffins

Meatloaf is one of my comfort foods.  It makes me feel full and nourished after I eat it which is always a good thing.  Meatloaf was one of my favorite dishes that my mom made while I was growing up.  It wasn't anything like this recipe but it did always feel like love and home.  I started using BBQ sauce in my meatloaf about half a year ago when I stopped eating eggs and that is when this recipe started being developed.  I had mostly made it in a traditional loaf pan up until a couple weeks ago when I was just trying to throw together dinner quickly because it was getting late.  I knew I still wanted to stick to my plan of making meatloaf, but a full meatloaf takes about an hour just to bake. That is when these little guys were created.  They are delicious and I actually prefer them to loaf form because who doesn't like cuter, littler, and more compact foods (it also makes for great portioning so it's easier to pack for say a lunch or just a meat muffin snack haha!).  Something that is special about this meatloaf is that it is packed with veggies that give it even more flavor. I also make it with my special homemade BBQ sauce recipe that I posted a day ago on this blog so make sure to check that out.

B B Q  M E A T L O A F  M U F F I N S         R E C I P E
[Makes 20 muffins]

☂ 3 medium carrots, shredded
☂ ½ onion, shredded
☂ 3 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
☂ 2 Tbsp. honey
☂ 1½ cups BBQ sauce (I use homemade BBQ sauce which I posted in my previous recipe post and I would really recommend making it with that recipe!  It's super simple and adds a lot more flavor than a bottled BBQ sauce)
☂ 5 rice crackers, crushed until like breadcrumb consistency 
☂ 2 tsp. salt
☂ 1 tsp. black pepper
☂ 3 Tbsp. plain soy milk
☂ 2 lbs. lean ground beef (at least 90% lean)
☂ 20 muffin liners

☂ Preheat oven to 425 F and line muffin trays with 20 liners.
☂ In a large bowl combine shredded carrots, shredded onion, whole grain mustard, honey, 1 cup. of BBQ sauce (save the other half cup to top the meatloaf muffins with), rice cracker crumbs, salt, black pepper, and plain soy milk.  Mix well until all ingredients are well incorporated.
☂ Now to the bowl add ground beef and mix until it is just combined (making sure not to over mix because the meat will get tough.)
☂ Once the meatloaf mixture is combined shape it into 20 meatballs and place them into the muffins liners.  
☂ Place the meatloaf muffin trays into the oven to bake for 25 minutes.
☂ To serve the meatloaf muffins take them out of the liner (at the bottom of the liner will be the extra grease that cooked out of them and you want to remove them from that and discard the liner) and serve them with the remaining BBQ sauce to top them off.
☂ I enjoy these with either baked/mashed potatoes and spinach sauteed with garlic.
☂ WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sweet Texas-Style BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce is such a personal preference kind of thing and there seems to be about a million different varieties.  I like mine to be sweet, but not too sweet, spicy, but not too spicy, and thick haha.  I felt like a little bit of an idiot describing my type of BBQ sauce, but there it is and that's how I like it.  BBQ sauce is actually one of those bottled foods that I think you can find pretty good ones of at the store, but sometimes good isn't good enough.  Especially when it takes no time to whip up your own and it does really taste a lot fresher and more flavorful.  Plus you can monitor the sugar and salt amounts and tailor it more to your own needs.  I am all about tailoring things to your own liking because I am well aware everyone likes things differently.  I use this BBQ sauce for ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and in my Honey BBQ Meatloaf Muffins that will be coming up in my next recipe post!  

S W E E T  T E X A S - S T Y L E  B B Q       S A U C E  R E C I P E

☂ 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
☂ 1 Tbsp. olive oil
☂ 1 cup ketchup 
☂ juice of 1 medium orange
☂ ¼ cup sugar
☂ 1 Tbsp. molasses (I use organic black strap variety because it is super healthy [high in iron, calcium, and helps prevent cancer !hell yeah!]
☂ ⅓ cup. Worcestershire sauce
☂ 1 chipotle chili (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce), minced

☂ Place a medium sauce pan on the stove.  Pour in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and thinly sliced garlic cloves.  Once those are in, turn heat to medium-low and let saute for about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently until golden brown but not burned!
☂ Then add in all the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer on medium-high.  Be careful because this can easily start to splatter and make a mess!  Once you bring it to a simmer put a lid on it and drop the heat back to low.  Let it cook for about 10 minutes until it has thickened.
☂ WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished

Monday, May 26, 2014

Avocado Pesto Pasta

Pesto is one of those foods that just remind me of my childhood.  I remember having pesto quite frequently in the summer time and I could not get enough of the stuff.  That aspect of me has never quite changed and now it seems like pesto is everywhere you go.  I understand though because it is freaking fabulous.  When I started cooking it was one of the first dishes I made and I would really recommend it to any beginners because it is hard to mess it up.  It's also great for a quick weeknight meal when you're short on time! When I went dairy free I pretty much wrote off pesto.  A couple of months back I had a light bulb go off in my head that said avocados!  I mean I use avocados to make creamy dressing so why not for pesto.  The first time I made it I used nuts as well, just like in a normal pesto but I think with the avocado and the nuts it's a little much and not as good.  There is a better flavor without them.  This pesto is nice and creamy and you won't even miss the Parmesan.  I'm quite happy with this one and now can't really stop making it--good thing it's summer (or almost ;)!)  You can use the pesto in pasta like I did or you can use it as a dressing over any meat, fish, veggies, or whatever your heart desires!

A V O C A D O  P E S T O  P A S T A           R E C I P E

pesto sauce
☂ 4 oz. package of basil (which is about 1 cup of basil leaves), remove basil leaves from stems and wash thoroughly 
☂ 1 large avocado (or 1½
  regular sized avocados)
☂ juice of 1 lemon
☂ 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
☂ 1 tsp. salt
☂ ½ tsp. black pepper
☂ 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
☂ 1 Tbsp. water

☂ 1 lb. gluten free spaghetti (I use Barilla and highly recommend it), 
☂ 1 lb. cooked chicken breasts, diced
☂ 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved 

☂ Cook pasta according to package directions.
☂ While pasta is cooking place all pesto sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Taste sauce and adjust seasonings to taste.
☂ Drain pasta and place into a large bowl.  Add in diced cooked chicken and halved tomatoes.  Pour pesto sauce onto the pasta and toss until everything is coated! 
☂ WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Banana Bread (Gluten, Dairy & Egg Free)

Until now I hadn't had banana bread since I became gluten free over a year ago.  That's crazy.  I loved banana bread as a child, it was one of the special things that my mom made for my family that we actually liked haha (no offense to my mother, she was just ahead of her time with healthy food and would home brew us kombucha and other very healthy and non kid approved foods).  Honestly I haven't really baked much since going gluten free, and by not much I mean not every few days like I use to bake!  When I am making a gluten free baking recipe I never look up a gluten free recipe, I always look up a regular recipe and honestly just toy and play with it and make it completely my own.  Many people think that's crazy because baking is suppose to be so precise and especially gluten free baking, but that's just how I roll.  It works for me so I don't really change it.  Also another thing is I've never used xantham gum before, I'm sure it wouldn't do the baked goods any harm, but I haven't really seen the point when they come out fine without it.  So back to the banana bread, I just want to honestly state that this is the best banana bread I have ever made or had.  Granted I really did tailor it to my taste, but more than that it is super moist without being overly moist if you know what I mean.  The texture doesn't taste gluten free and it is just suppppperr flavorful.  I'm really proud of this one and think that's it's really worth giving a try even if you don't have food allergies!

B A N A N A  B R E A D  R E C I P E

☂ 4 bananas, mashed
☂ ½ cup earth balance (or any dairy free butter), melted
☂ ¾ cup sugar
☂ 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
☂ 2 Tbsp. water
☂ 2 tsp. baking powder
☂ 1 tsp. baking soda
☂ 1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
☂ 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
☂ 1 tsp. ground ginger
☂ 2 Tbsp. honey
dash of salt
☂ 1½ cups gluten free all-purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)

☂ Preheat oven to 350 F.  Thoroughly grease a loaf pan.  
☂ In a small bowl mix together 2 Tbsp. water, 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, and 2 tsp. baking powder (these ingredients act as an egg substitute).
☂ In a large bowl mix together mashed bananas, melted earth balance, sugar, baking soda, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, honey, salt, and egg substitute mixture from the small bowl.
☂ Gently fold in gluten free flour until it is all combined but not over mixed!
☂ Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake it for 1 hour.
☂ After an hour poke it with a toothpick to ensure that it has fully cooked and then pull it out of the oven and LET IT COOL for 30 minutes to and hour.  If you cut it hot IT WILL JUST CRUMBLE.
☂ WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished

Friday, May 16, 2014

Korean Seafood Vegetable Pancakes

When I was younger I always hated pancakes.  I don't mean the way you hated everything because you were a little punk kid either, I legit couldn't get far enough away from them.  The smell of them cooking made me nauseous. TMI?  I was kind of a weirdo haha.  Then I remember having these at a friends house and absolutely loving them; it's possible that these are what opened me the world of pancakes.  You see these don't really taste anything like normal pancakes, they are savory and crispy, and just overall wonderful.  I am just now coming out of sort of a creative food rut and the idea of making these popped into my head.  I looked online for recipes of them that I could eat, but I didn't find any.  That kind of made me even more excited because I realized I had the opportunity to share this recipe with all of those with the same food allergies as me that would absolutely love these. They are really delicious and addictive and just a warning this recipe makes a loooottt of batter, but the batter keeps fine in the refrigerator for a few days (I've been eating them for lunches).  Also if you make them, MAKE THE DIPPING SAUCE, seriously serious like caps lock serious because it takes them from good to great.

K O R E A N  S E A F O O D  V E G E T A B L E  P A N C A K E S  R E C I P E

☂ 5 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
☂ 2½ cups water
☂ 6 Tbsp. water
☂ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
☂ 2 Tbsp. baking powder
☂ ½ tsp. salt
☂ 1 lb. bay shrimp (these are small shrimp that come cleaned and cooked)
☂ 2 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
☂ 5 green onions, roughly chopped
☂ 2 medium carrots, shredded
☂ 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
olive oil to cook pancakes

Dipping Sauce
☂ 4 Tbsp. tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
☂ 2 Tbsp. vinegar
☂ 1 Tbsp. sugar
☂ 1 Tbsp. water

☂ In a small bowl mix together 6 Tbsp. water, 3 Tbsp. olive oil, and 2 Tbsp. baking powder (these ingredients act as an egg replacement).
☂ In a large bowl mix together gluten free flour, 2½ cups water, salt, and the egg replacement mixture from step one.
☂ Now fold in the shrimp and vegetables. (This batter isn't extremely thick so don't be alarmed, that's how it's suppose to be!)
☂ Heat a non-stick pan to medium high heat and drizzle in a little olive oil and wait until the pan is hot.  
☂ With the batter, spoon in a few thin miniature pancakes (if you make them too big it is hard for them to cook all the way through without burning on the outside).  When they have browned on one side drop the heat to medium and flip them over and cook until they are completely cooked through (this takes roughly 4 minutes).  If they start to burn at any point just turn the heat down!
☂ While these are cooking you can mix together the dipping sauce ingredients!
☂ These can be served hot or cold, but I would recommend if you have extra batter, rather than cooking it all up, save the batter and cook these pancakes individually.  They will get somewhat soggy if they are refrigerated after being cooked!
☂ WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Honey Mustard Dressing

Everyone who cooks has a thing that they feel like they are particularly good at (a niche), for me that is sauces.  I love to make sauces because a sauce can completely transform a boring dish.  Sauces are something you can totally wing on the spot with what you have on hand and they are also very forgiving.  Dressing falls into that sauce category for me, so it is also something I love to make.  I honestly don't know why anyone buys bottled dressing because for one they are so easy to make and they are a lot more delicious homemade, but you can also make them a lot healthier and avoid the chemicals they use in preserving dressings.  Dressings are also particularly quick to whip up and you can totally tailor it to what you love.  When I ate eggs I would mix some of this honey mustard dressing into mayonnaise and a little bit of water and it would make the most delicious creamy dressing.  This dressing can be used for a lot of things though; a sauce for chicken, dipping sauce for veggies, or just traditionally over a salad.  I personally like vegetables, but if I''m going to eat a big salad it has got to have a tasty dressing on it and this totally fits the bill.  

H O N E Y  M U S T A R D  D R E S S I N G     R E C I P E

☂ 4 Tbsp. whole grain mustard (it is essential that it is whole grain because it is a milder mustard and a lot more flavorful)
☂ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
☂ 4½ Tbsp. honey
☂ ¼ tsp. black pepper
☂ ½ tsp. salt
☂ 3 Tbsp. water
☂ pinch of cayenne pepper

☂ Place all ingredients together in a food processor and blend for about 1-2 minutes.  
☂ Taste dressing and adjust seasonings to your liking!
☂ This recipe makes about 1 cup of dressing.
☂ WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Italian Meat Sauce

Long time no post, and honestly it's for many reasons.  I've kind of had a creativity block, but also I've just been busy.  Life happens and if you don't make the time SUPRISE! it doesn't get done.  There's my excuse, but who really cares.  I'm going to put more effort in because I want to and that will be that.  

This recipe stems from a sort of confusion.  I couldn’t understand why sauces at Italian restaurants tasted so much better than my own.  I mean it’s just a simple tomato sauce, how could there be such a difference of flavor.  I had a feeling that it was something that I could actually make, and being gluten free it is a lot easier to eat Italian food when I make it at home because I can make my own noodles (I will hit on the noodles subject again to give you my recommendation of good gluten free noodles).  I searched the internet to try and figure out ways that I could make my sauces taste more like theirs, and that is how I formed this recipe.  The tips I learned were more garlic (much more garlic) and more olive oil and it pretty much transformed my sauce game.  It was simple which is sort of crazy and sort of great.  I can tell you one thing, this is one of my favorite smells in the whole wide world when it’s cooking. 

Just briefly (clearly not so briefly haha) I want to touch on the noodles.  If you are gluten free like me then you have probably tried many different gluten free noodles.  I myself, have tried brown rice noodles, corn noodles, quinoa noodles, etc.  until I found the perfect noodles.  The best part is they are inexpensive and very easy to find (pretty much at most grocery stores).  They are the Barilla gluten free noodles.  At first I was skeptical because it was a big brand and I just tend to be skeptical of big brands making gluten-free, but these have been my favorite for a while now.  They taste exactly like regular wheat pasta and I believe it is because they are made up of a blend of rice and corn.  It makes sense because most of the good baked goods and breads that are gluten free are made up of a blend of different flours.  It is easier to get the right taste and texture with a blend.  So if you’re making an pasta recipe, give these noodles a try.  Even if you're not gluten free, I would recommend them as a healthier alternative, my whole family (which all eat gluten)  ate these and didn’t notice the difference.

I T A L I A N  M E A T  S A U C E  R E C I P E

☂ 2 (28 oz.) cans of whole plum tomatoes in tomato juice
☂ 1 lb. ground beef (90% or leaner!)
☂ 12 garlic cloves, thinnly sliced
☂ 3 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
☂ 1 lb. gluten free Barilla spaghetti 
☂ ¼ cup olive oil
☂ 1 tsp. salt
☂ ½ tsp. black pepper
☂ 1 Tbsp. sugar
☂ 1 tsp. dried basil
☂ ¼ cup reserved pasta water
☂ salt, pepper & sugar to taste

☂ Place large pot on stove and add in olive oil and garlic.  Once the olive oil and garlic are in the pot turn the stove to medium low heat.  Cook garlic for 10-15 minutes until it becomes golden.  
☂ Add in both cans of tomatoes and turn the heat up to high heat.  Mix in 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. dried basil to season.  Let cook on high for 20 minutes then drop the heat to medium low.  
☂ While the sauce is cooking on high, heat another skillet to medium and cook ground beef until browned and fully cooked.  Season with salt and pepper.  
☂ Once the meat is cooked drain it (saving 1 Tbsp. of meat drippings in the skillet) and add the meat to the sauce which should now be on medium low.  
☂ In the skillet with the meat drippings drizzle in 1 tsp. of olive oil and turn the heat to high.  Add in the sliced crimini mushrooms and let them cook on one side until they are browned before flipping them to cook on the other side.  Add in salt and pepper to taste once the mushrooms have browned.  
☂ Once the mushrooms are cooked stir them into the pasta sauce.
☂ While the sauce continues to simmer (turn it down to low if there is any burning on the bottom), boil a large pot of water to cook the pasta in (sprinkle in about ½ tsp. salt).
☂ Once the water comes up to a boil cook the pasta according to the package directions (make sure to reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water once the pasta is cooked to add into the sauce.)
☂ Drain the pasta and add 2 Tbsp. to ¼ cup of pasta water to the sauce and check the sauce for seasonings (salt, black pepper, sugar, and dried basil).  
☂ Serve the tomato sauce with the pasta! 
☂ WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished