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Category Archives: Affordable Eats

Meatless Mondays: Fancy Grilled Cheese with balsamic caramelized onions, rosemary roasted cauliflower and roasted red peppers

Just short of a year since my last post, it’s about dang time I post something on here. ūüôā

We’ve had a few peeks at Spring around here in Seattle lately, but we all know that it’s not even near time to put away the comfort food recipes. This one is fortunately not THAT bad… after all, it’s all veggies!

When we are short-ish on time or too lazy to come up with a full meal, we like to make fancy grilled cheese sandwiches in our house. Basically that just means sauteing or roasting some veggies or using up some leftover meat from the fridge and putting it into a grilled cheese sandwich. Easy-cheesy!

While this photo really does NOTHING for the sandwich, it really is a fantastic flavor combination – you really gotta try this! ūüôā

We like to get all fancy like with our grilled cheese round here y'all!

We like to get all fancy like with our grilled cheese round here y’all!

Ingredients

Bread – crusty/rustic type is preferred (I used day old Ciabatta bread with fantastic results)
Butter, softened
2 small onions or 1 large one, diced
2 Tb. Balsamic vinegar
1 red bell pepper
Half head of cauliflower, cut into very small florets
Dried rosemary
Celery salt or kosher salt
Garlic powder (not garlic salt)
Sliced mozzarella cheese (or any other melty white cheese)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Hardware
Roasting pan/cookie sheet
Aluminum foil
Spatula
Frying pan
Saute pan
Paper bag

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  2. Melt a pat (Tb. or so) of butter into a saute pan over Medium Low heat. Throw the diced onions into the melted butter and stir to coat. Cook slowly until caramelized. Once caramelized, pour the balsamic vinegar in and stir to coat. The vinegar will reduce and further caramelize the onions.
  3. Put the small cauliflower florets on one side of the foil lined pan. Drizzle with olive oil, celery salt, garlic powder (or fresh garlic, not garlic salt) dried rosemary and ground pepper.
  4. Rub olive oil all over the red bell pepper and place on the other side of the foil lined fan place. Place pan in oven and check every few minutes. Once the pepper starts to get charred flip it over so the other sides get charred as well.  Flip the cauliflower so it gets a good roast on all sides.
  5. Once the cauliflower and peppers are done pull the pan out of the oven. Place the pepper into a paper bag and fold it shut. Let the pepper sit in the bag for about 5 minutes to sweat – this will loosen the charred skin so you can easily remove it. After you have removed the skin, cut the pepper into thirds.
  6. Slice your bread and cheese (if necessary). Butter the bread and sprinkle with garlic powder. Heat up a frying pan on low heat.
  7. Once your pan is heated place your bread with the buttered side down. Spread on the caramelized onions and then layer with mozzarella cheese, roasted cauliflower, feta, roasted bell pepper, more mozzarella cheese and then top with the other piece of bread with the buttered side facing up.
  8. Press the sandwich down with a spatula and cook on a low temp for a few minutes until the bread is golden brown, then carefully flip the sandwich over and continue cooking until the cheese is ooey-gooey.
  9. ENJOY! ūüôā

Servings: 3 sandwiches

Irish meets Polish: Corned Beef & Cabbage Pierogi

Corned Beef & Potato Pierogi. The best of Irish and Polish foods combined!

This is one of those posts that I almost want to start with a “why bother.” Why bother because I am posting on how to use up those delicious St. Patrick’s day leftovers a week later. Likely (aka hopefully) you don’t have any left, but perhaps you froze some of your corned beef for later. If that’s the case, then you’re in luck. But even if you need to create the filling from scratch, these are some delicious and SUPER EASY pierogi.

In our household the Polish (that’s me) and Irish (that’s my hubs) play nicely, so what a lovely way to combine some of our loves into one tasty lil’ dumpling.

Side note: depending on who in my family you ask, some will tell you that we are German, others will tell you we are Polish.

I made these pierogi a little more healthful by using half whole wheat flour and substituting plain Greek yogurt for what would be sour cream.

This recipe created enough dough for me to make about 40 pierogi. I boiled and sauteed about 20 of them for dinner and leftovers the next day. The other 20 I froze for a quick weeknight dinner. They need to be frozen individually first (so that they don’t all freeze together in a big clump) by laying them out on a pan sprinkled with cornmeal and once frozen throw them into a freezer bag and back into the freezer. I have a feeling I (or my hubby) will thank me for that later.

Here is the recipe – be sure to comment and let me know how you liked them!

Ingredients

Dough

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. olive oil

Steps for preparing dough

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl using hands to mix together until a dough forms. A stand mixer with a paddle attachment can also be used for this. The dough will be very sticky at this point.

2. Take the dough out of the bowl and put onto a well floured board. Divide the dough in half. Knead each piece of dough a few times on the floured surface until less sticky but still tacky. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

The dough just hangin' out waiting to be made into pierogi

3. On a well floured surface, roll each half of the dough into a thin circle, 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough using a 3-inch circle cutter.

All ready to be filled with yummy fillings!

Filling

I used the leftover potatoes and carrots from my crock pot that were cooked with the corned beef. Cooking the potatoes with the corned beef provided a lot of flavor to the potato filling. If you are making this from scratch you will need to boil some potatoes.

1 medium onion, diced
5 potatoes, peeled and boiled
butter to taste
1 cup shredded swiss/gruyere cheese (or other sharp cheese)
leftover corned beef, shredded

2 tablespoons of butter for browning the pierogi

Variations for filling: Just potato and cheese or ground beef and onion

1. Caramelize the onion with some butter and olive oil. Remove the potatoes and carrots from the liquid in the crock pot and heat them up in a pan. Add the caramelized onions to the potatoes and mash together. Add the cheese and mix together.

2. Place 1 tablespoon of the potato filling in the center of each circle of dough and lay a small piece of corned beef on top and fold over. Press and seal into half-moon shapes. Use a little water to seal the pierogi. Using the tines of a fork press around the edge gently to get a good seal.

Fill 'er up! Almost there...

Filled and sealed. Ready to be cooked and eaten! YUMM!

3. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pierogi for 8 minutes, or until they float. Remove from the water and drain.

4. In a saute pan, melt some butter. Sear the pierogi for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown. Remove from the pan. The pierogi will need to be sauteed in batches.

Garnish¬†with green onion and serve with sour cream (or more Greek yogurt if you’re trying to save calories). I served this delicious dish with a green salad.

Enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread with a twist! Cranberry Orange Hazelnut Soda Bread

Those aren't burnt spots, their sweet dried cranberries. Yumm!

This week I have been terrible with getting my posts up for the dishes I have created. No real excuses, just life. But I will have a really yummy winter meal coming in one of my next posts – creamy polenta with chicken in a mushroom red wine sauce ūüôā

But first things, first. Today is St. Paddy’s day, and in true St. Patrick’s day style, I have a corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots cooking away in my crock pot right now. My hubby is Irish, so today is sort of a big deal to him. Bigger than any other holiday. He has mandated (rather lovingly) that we listen to the Celtic station on Pandora ALL day. So, as I am typing away my foot is tapping to the tune of an Irish jig. [Oh yeah!]

Since I didn’t really do anything special with the corned beef and cabbage, I felt the need to make the homemade Irish soda bread with a twist. But really, the truth is… I just don’t like following recipes. Perhaps it is a need to make my life more difficult than it needs to be, or maybe it is just that cooking and baking is a creative outlet for me. ūüėČ Yep, that’s it.

I’m not as confident in my baking skills as I am in my cooking, probably because baking is more of a science. As such, I typically start a baking adventure by finding an inspiration recipe to go off of and then make it my own if possible. This recipe is inspired by the recipe for Irish Soda Bread by¬†Barefoot Contessa, I just love her.

I can’t resist orange and cranberry flavors balanced with a little¬†nuttiness. Below is my recipe for Cranberry Orange Hazelnut Irish Soda Bread.

Ingredients

Inspired by Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread

  • 4 cups¬†all-purpose flour, plus extra for¬†dried cranberries
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold¬†unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken (or buttermilk substitute)
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated¬†orange zest
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk, warmed
  • sprinkle of cornmeal for baking dish (or you can use parchment paper)
  • Aluminum foil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Sprinkle a pie pan with cornmeal .

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the dried cranberries with 2 teaspoons of flour and mix into the dough. Add the chopped hazelnuts and mix. The dough will be very sticky.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared pie pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife.

Combine the melted butter and warmed buttermilk. Brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter mixture. Continue to brush the mixture on the dough throughout baking process (every 15 minutes or so). Bake for 45 to 55 minutes; keep an eye on the loaf and after it becomes golden brown cover with aluminum foil for rest of baking time. Loaf is done when a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Leave me a comment and let me know how you life it!
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East meets West: Indian Curried Chicken Vegetable Enchiladas

East meets West: Indian Curried Chicken Vegetable Enchiladas
It's due time to mix up the enchilada with a little eastern flair

Delicious and easy chicken enchiladas made with a quick indian madras curry sauce

Is there really any reason to mess with the nearly perfect foods of Madras Indian curry or chicken enchiladas? In and of themselves they are quite delicious lil meals, however, I like to mix things up and it was high time these got a remix of their very own. Queue Bollywood/Mariachi mashup song.

I love cooking curries, both of the Thai and Indian variety. Frequent trips to the spice and ethnic grocery stores in our area make this an easy feat to accomplish. I think a lot of people believe curries are difficult to make, but I have found them quite the contrary, especially Thai curries which I have a habit of making far too often.

Recently I learned just how easy it is to make your own homemade enchilada sauce from Mr. Emeril Lagasse. You can find his recipe here. I couldn’t believe how flippin’ simple and quick it was! Seriously so simple and tastes way better than anything you will get in a can. After mastering my homemade enchilada sauce I got to thinking how great curried enchiladas would be. I have never had them before, but I like curry and I like enchiladas. Sounded like a match made in heaven. We have had a tin of Madras Indian Curry powder in our cupboard for some time and it seems we have still barely made a dent in it (it’s a large tin), although I assure you we use it in our cooking quite often.

The tin looks like this.

Madras Curry Powder

This is the Madras Curry Powder we use

This Madras Curry Powder has the following ingredients in it: coriander, turmeric, salt, fennel, chili, black pepper, fenugreek, garlic, cumin, bay leaf, ginger, cassia. This curry powder had a good mix of all the spices so I didn’t feel the need to add too much to it. You can play around with other curry blends if you want such as vindaloo or garam masala.

I have to say that this dish turned out amazing with just the right amount of curry flavor and spice. While it may take a little longer to assemble than most people are used to spending on a weeknight meal, I believe you could make a pan or two of this on a weekend and freeze one for when you need it. The thing that takes the longest to cook is the shredded chicken, which cooks in about half hour. You will notice that I didn’t actually roll my enchiladas in this recipe, that was due to my flub of not taking the frozen corn tortillas out of the freezer to thaw prior to starting to cook. Instead I layered the ingredients which made it quicker to assemble and tastes the same as the rolled ones in the end. For the veggies in this recipe I used carrots, peas and fresh chopped spinach, but I encourage you to play around with the veggies you have in your fridge as I am sure they will taste fantastic in this dish.

Now let’s get to messing with the enchiladas, shall we? Or is it messing with the curry?

Servings: 8

Tools: 2 medium saucepans, 1 saute pan, knife, cutting board, micro-plane, 9″ x 13″ pan, spatula, ladle

Ingredients

I’m going to break down the ingredients into sections below for each element you have to prepare prior to assemblage in the pan.

  • Shredded Chicken (see recipe below)
  • Easy Indian Madras Curry Sauce (see recipe below)
  • Vegetable Blend (see recipe below)
  • 4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 18 corn tortillas (should probably have an entire pack of 24 in case you need as many)

Shredded Chicken

1 lb. chicken breast (this can be either the bone-in or the boneless skinless variety)
water to cover chicken by a few inches in pot
pinch of kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/2 cup prepared curry enchilada sauce (see recipe below)
Optional Garnishes: sliced green onion, cilantro, avocado or sliced radishes

Easy Indian Madras Curry Sauce 

3 Tb. vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 in. knob of grated fresh ginger (Use a micro-plane for this. I keep my fresh ginger in the freezer so I always have it on hand)
4 Tb. Madras Curry Powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Vegetable Blend
1 Tb. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 medium carrots, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 large handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

Steps

1. Prep all ingredients above so they are ready to begin cooking. Preheat oven to 375¬į

2. Place chicken in a pot and fill with water to cover by a few inches. Put on stove top on High heat. Cook for about 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and is easy to shred with 2 forks.

3. While chicken is cooking, start on the Madras Curry enchilada sauce. Heat vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan on Medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until tender (they turn a bit translucent). Turn down heat to LOW. (This is very important because you don’t want to burn your flour in the next step)

4. After you have turned heat on onion, garlic mixture to LOW and it has a minute or two to adjust temperature, add in the flour and stir. Cook for 1 minute. (Note: Be sure NOT to burn your flour in this step.) Add in the curry powder and stir. Cook for another 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste and stir until combined. Cook on low until sauce reduces and thickens; about 15 minutes.

5. While curry sauce and chicken are cooking, start on the vegetable blend. Add extra virgin olive oil to a saute pan and heat on Medium heat. Add carrots and cook for several minutes until tender. Add the frozen peas and grated ginger and cook another minute until peas are defrosted. Add chopped spinach and cook until it wilts and moisture is cooked off. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

6. Once chicken is cooked through and it easily shreds, pull it out of cooking water and onto a cutting board. Using two forks, shred all of the chicken. Retain about 1/2 cup of the cooking water in the sauce pan, drain rest off. Add the shredded chicken back into pan with remaining water. Add 1/2 cup of the curry sauce to chicken and combine. Cook on Low a few minutes for chicken to season in the sauce mixture.

7. Add a ladle or two of the curry sauce to the bottom of the 9″ x 13″ baking dish and spread around bottom of pan. Place 6 corn tortillas on bottom of baking dish and spoon more sauce over them, spreading to cover. Alternate each layer with the cheese, veggie blend, shredded chicken (be sure to strain the chicken out of the sauce it is cooking in, so it doesn’t get too watery), curry sauce and tortillas. Be sure to finish the final two layers with sauce and then cheese.

8. Place into oven and cook for about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. When finished take out of oven and let sit to cool for a minute or two. Slice, garnish and serve.

9. Enjoy and let me know how you liked it!

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Amazing Brunch Recipe! Basil Spinach Quiche Lorraine

Basil Spinach Quiche Lorraine

Mmmm... Basil Spinach Quiche Lorraine full of egg-y custard deliciousness and a flaky buttery pastry crust.

I’ve been meaning to get this post written all week, however, I’ve been rather busy. Oh wells, life goes on.

The other night we were craving some brownies. I typically insist on making them homemade, because I’m a purist like that (and they are JUST as easy to make with less artificial ingredients), but I happened to have a gluten free Bob’s Red Mill brownie mix in my cupboard that could afford to be used. To my horror we were out of eggs though, so I made the trek down to the store to get some more. I was in luck because they had free range vegetarian fed eggs on sale – two cartons for $5. I don’t see that pricing very often around here for non-conventionally raised eggs, so I obliged and picked up two cartons even though there are only two of us who hardly eat our weight through eggs in a typically week. I figured somehow I was going to find a way to use up these eggs even if it required a week of nothing but deviled eggs. Heh. I’m not that evil.

Enter good idea #1: Quiche. I have to say that I haven’t had many affectionate feelings towards quiche, although I have tried my darn hardest. I like the little mini ones that my mom used to make when she owned a tea shop years ago, but the moment you start talking the 9″ pie sized quiches I get a different idea in my head. It isn’t that the idea of buttery pastry and egg-y filling with delicious¬†mix ins¬†are the issue – it is more the texture of said egg-y filling that I haven’t been a fan of. The large ones always seemed to have a “watery” texture, and I wasn’t sure if that was a consequence of not baking properly, not baking long enough, or using fillings that give off too much juice during baking which¬†ensued an undesirable “watery” texture.

That said, my idea of quiche was transformed a few years ago when I was a starved college student held up at Tea Zone in Portland (If you live in the Portland, OR area you MUST check it out – it’s an awesome tea shop/lounge in the Pearl¬†District). I don’t know if my long hours of studying translated into some type of self-induced hallucinations when I must have quite mistakenly ordered a quiche (or perhaps I thought I had ordered a crumpet, or scone). Either way, no harm nor foul was done to me through subsequent bites (ne scarf-age) of decadent buttery pastry and light egg-y goodness. Quite the opposite actually. My delightful experience with Quiche Lorraine from Tea Zone¬†entirely changed my outlook on quiche.

BEWARE: This recipe or a visit to Tea Zone may just change your mind about quiche as well. So, If you are quite happy hating on quiche, then you better be on your way. Shoo!

My husband wasn’t too thrilled at first mention that I wanted to make quiche for dinner. That’s ok, I pushed ahead. Besides, I knew I could change his mind, and I had eggs to use up¬†damn-it! After it came out of the oven and we dug into it, he was whistling a different tune and went back for seconds, or thirds… He just wasn’t thrilled to take it for lunch the next day so all his macho buddies could tease him about eating quiche (apparently it’s a girly meal). So moral of the story… it was pretty much amazing for dinner, as well as leftovers for lunch the next day, and brunch today! The whole time I was eating it – I elicited images of Julia Child, weird. I will definitely be making this meal again and probably serving it at my next brunch gathering with friends.

For my pastry dough purists out there.. I reluctantly have to tell you that I didn’t make my own pastry dough for this. I know, I know… the shock! the horror! I had a leftover pie shell in the freezer from my holiday pumpkin pies, so I used that instead. Plus, I don’t own a pretty quiche pan. But, that one shortcut alone made this an easy meal to throw together for a weeknight meal. I had bacon left from the gluten free/dairy free Potato Leek Soup I made a few days ago, as well as spinach and basil that I wanted to use up in this recipe. So now you see why my Quiche Lorraine was fortified with additional yummy goodness.

And now you have it.. the recipe. Make it, eat it, weep, and change a few people’s minds about quiche.

Servings: 8, but it’s pretty tasty..you might want more.

Tools: Hand mixer or stand mixer, baking sheet, sheet of aluminum foil to tent quiche while baking

Ingredients

Frozen 9″ pre-made pie shell, take out of freezer about¬†20 minutes¬†prior to cooking
1/2 lb. bacon – cooked, drained and crumbled. Reserve about a tsp. of bacon grease.
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic minced
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 whole eggs
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup swiss or gruy√®re¬†cheese (I used a mix of both – it was a bag from Trader Joe’s)
handful of fresh basil, chiffonade cut
pinch kosher salt
ground black pepper

Garnish: Fresh chiffonade basil or sliced green onion

Steps

1. Take pie shell out of freezer. Prep ingredients above. Preheat oven to 375¬į and make sure oven rack is on center position.

2. Cook bacon in skillet until crisp. Take out of pan and place on paper towels. Drain bacon fat, but reserve about a teaspoon in pan (you will cook additional ingredients in this). When cool, crumble or chop up bacon.

Carmelized onion

Now you know I don't have fancy pans, but I can show an onion a good carmelization.

3. Heat pan with reserved bacon grease on medium heat. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook until carmelized, it should be light brown in color.

Caramelized onions meet Spinach. Acquaint yourselves.

4. Add fresh chopped spinach to pan and stir. Add a pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and stir. The little bit of salt will help draw the moisture out of the mixture so that it doesn’t make the eggs “watery”. Cook until leaves wilt and moisture cooks out. Add the nutmeg and stir.

5. Crack eggs into a medium sized bowl (or stand mixer) and add cream. Blend the eggs and cream together on low speed for about 15 seconds until it is well beaten. Mix in (by hand) the onion/spinach mixture, bacon, cheese, and basil. Add a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper.

6. Place pie shell on baking sheet. Pour egg mixture into pie shell. Tent the foil over quiche, making sure to cover the crust on all sides to keep your crust from burning during the baking process. Carefully place the baking sheet and quiche into oven (My egg mixture sloshed a bit, but at least it was on the baking sheet and not on my floor or oven).

7. Cook for 35 – 45 minutes. Check after 35 minutes. Quiche is done when egg mixture is set and doesn’t jiggle easily.

8. Take quiche out of oven and let sit for a few minutes prior to slicing and serving. You will notice that when it was in the oven the egg was fluffier, it should set a bit for a flatter top once it is cooling. Slice and garnish with chiffonade of basil or sliced green onion. I served this with a spinach salad.

Bon Appetit!

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Love me some Slow Cookin’ Potato Leek Soup (Gluten Free & Dairy Free)

Love me some Slow Cookin' Potato Leek Soup

It's not a load of crock! Your slow cooker loves you. And you'll love this soup!

Last night I had to work late and knew this ahead of time so I figured it was a good night to use our slow cooker. I happen to love using our crock pot and it makes me happy to see that so many other people are now loving theirs again by welcoming it back onto their kitchen counters with open arms. But if I need to try and validate to you why I love it so… well, it reads like a cheap romance novel.

Reason for crock pot love number 1: It cooks for me even when I don’t treat it well. When it’s not ever so sweetly being used by me, I am usually shoving it into the dark recesses of my kitchen cupboards.

Reason number 2: It’s a cheap date. I have never given it more than $5-$10 at any one time and it puts out enough for the two of us… for sometimes several days. Tell me who you can take out for that cheap and treat with such disrespect and force to do almost all the work in the relationship and you reap all the benefits? Yeah, my guess it’s the other way around.

I’ll stop now, because there are probably children in the room…

So now onto soup. ūüôā

I had a couple of odd veggies still hanging around and some bacon that I was hoping to get used up this week. So with my meat and two veg (sorry, I can’t help myself), me and my crock pot made us some homemade potato leek soup. The soup turned out super (or rather, souper) yummy even though I decided to not add any cream, butter or milk to it. I had it in mind to keep it a little healthier while still being a comforting winter meal, so I made it a broth based soup. Also, did you notice that it is gluten and dairy free? You’re welcome. Just make sure that the broth base you use is such and everything will be okay. You could even make it vegetarian by leaving out the swine and using vegetable broth.

And speaking of broth… Likely if you don’t have any homemade stock lying around, you probably have to go to the cartons or cans, right? Well I have been using this super convenient and very affordable alternative to canned broth called Better than Bouillon. It is organic and free of MSG and according to my research on surefoodsliving.com is gluten free (but not dairy, corn or soy free). A jar costs under $5 and makes up to 38 8-ounce servings with it… that’s roughly 19 cans of broth which at about $1/can can get rather pricey. All you have to do is scoop out a teaspoon and add it to 8 oz. water. Yep, it’s¬†that easy! This is a picture of what the label on the jar looks like so you you can find it for yourself.

Organic Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

I love using this stuff as an alternative to canned broth when I don't have homemade stock around

Below are the ingredients I prepped and put into the slow cooker and then I did something unimaginable… I plugged it in and turned the notch to ‘low’ and left it to occupy itself for about 7 hours. Yep that was it!

You really don’t need to measure any of this out, just start dumping things in the crock pot. It doesn’t mind… it can take a beating.

Servings: at least 4, but i’ll let you know in a few days when we’re done eating it

Ingredients

6 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
6 strips of bacon, cooked, drained on paper towels and then chopped up
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 leeks, chopped (the white and a bit of the light green only)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, needles removed from stem and chopped
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
6 cups broth (vegetable or chicken broth) – check for gluten and dairy free on label
2-3 bay leaves
Fresh cracked pepper
Kosher salt

Steps

Prep all ingredients, throw into crockpot, stir. Put lid on. PLUG CROCK POT IN and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6 hours. Enjoy!

Garnish with sliced green onion, fresh cracked pepper and if you’re like me some red chili flakes.

And for all of you bachelors out there, be sure to refrigerate it and or freeze once it’s cooled down. Yeah.. there is a back story there. ūüėČ

I look forward to hearing your comments on how it turned out for you!

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Meatless Mondays! Roasted Vegetable Rice Bowl with Toasted Walnuts, Basil and Blueberry Balsamic Sauce (Gluten Free & Dairy Free)

Roasted Veggie Rice Bowl with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Roasted veggies and sweet tangy blueberry balsamic sauce with toasted walnuts and chiffonade basil

I’m not sure what it is with me and cooking gluten and/or dairy free lately, because it isn’t something that is compulsory¬†for my health, however, I do feel pretty good when I eat this way. The last couple gluten and/or dairy free¬†recipes that I posted have occurred by chance, and not at all through planning. Last night was one of those nights that I didn’t think I would create anything worth a damn in the kitchen, but I surprised myself. Yet again! We are nearing the end of our rations at this point and really need to get to the grocery store, but I am playing that game of trying to stretch as many meals out of what we have in the fridge. It’s quite a fun game, and something I have become pretty good at I must say. I think living on a budget has made me a better cook; a more resourceful steward, and definitely provided a stage for improvising ingredients when I need to use something up or don’t have something I want to use.

We have lots of half used veggies in our fridge right now (and of course fresh basil) that need to be used up in the next few nights. My hubby and I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our repertoire, so last night seemed like a good night to do that especially since it was Monday… ahem… Meatless Monday ūüėČ

As I started cooking last night the only thing I knew was that I needed to use up some broccoli, a quarter head of cauliflower, a handful of some mini bell peppers, as well as some fresh basil. Recently I was informed through my¬†Pinterest (and namely through the blog http://www.amateurgourmet.com¬†on behalf of the Barefoot Contessa‘s book Back to Basics) that I have been cooking broccoli wrong my ENTIRE life! How could I be so ill informed?! I’ve always pretty much just steamed or sauteed broccoli and that was the extent of it… until now. Have you ever roasted your broccoli? Well, I gotta tell you… it is AMAZING! It caramelizes it and gives it a nutty flavor that beats all other water logged broccoli you’ve ever had to date! Armed with my new found broccoli cooking method, I hit the kitchen with my remaining veggies and got to roastin’.

After I started the rice and got the veggies into the oven to roast, I figured I would just pour some balsamic vinegar over the dish and call it good… but then inspiration came over me. (cue angels singing) I recalled that I had about a half cup of blueberries in a bowl in the fridge that I had been telling myself to make a smoothie with since I made pancakes over the weekend. Aha! Blueberry balsamic reduction sauce it is! Balsamic is a great vinegar to use with fruit and it reduces beautifully to create a wonderful fruity, slightly tangy sauce. Sidenote: In addition to using balsamic in this sauce, I often times put a tsp. or so into the fruit mixture when I do fruit crisps and it turns them from great to AWESOME – it’s something in the caramelization of the fruit.

The dish ended up with a lovely mixture of sweet, tangy, nutty, roasted flavors. The sauce along with the toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch and the fresh chiffonade of basil¬†(I love to say that word, chiffonade, but let’s be real here.. it’s just shredded). You will hardly notice that you are missing meat! But… if relinquishing your rights to meat is a big deal for you, then by all means you better cook up some chicken or salmon with this meal…I would hate to see you famish. ūüôā

Servings: I made enough for 2 and some leftovers for lunch

This is one of those meals that you can estimate measurements of the veggies.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cup water
pinch kosher salt
Small crown of broccoli, cut into florets and stem pieces
1/4 crown of cauliflower, cut into florets and stem pieces
1/2 bell pepper, cut in strips
3 garlic cloves, smash it open and mince it
small onion, roughly chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling (couple Tbs)
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Garnish
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
basil chiffonade
feta cheese (optional, but not dairy free)

Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tb. honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. water
pinch of kosher salt

Cooking Steps 

1. Prep all veggies as instructed above. Preheat oven to 425¬į

2. Put water and rice in pan. Place on stove on High heat. Once water starts boiling, cover and reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes or until rice has absorbed all liquid.

3. Place broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, onion, garlic in a foil lined roasting pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in preheated oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until veggies have good roasted color.

4. While veggies and rice are cooking, start the Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat add olive oil. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until tender. Add blueberries and cook for 2 minutes, until skins are bursting. Add honey and balsamic vinegar and stir. Heat until mixture comes to a boil. In a glass cup, mix the cornstarch with the water and then add this into the pan. Reduce heat and cook uncovered so liquid reduces. Keep this on low while you prepare rest of meal.

5. Heat a pan on medium heat (I find a cast iron pan works well for this). Add roughly chopped walnuts to pan and toss for a few minutes until they are nice and toasted. (Make sure you keep an eye on this pan as they go from barely toasted to blackened in seconds… trust me, I know.) Take toasted nuts out of pan and set aside to cool

6. Chiffonade your basil (check out link for how to chiffonade). Once the veggies and rice are finished cooking plate on a dish and drizzle with the blueberry balsamic sauce. Garnish with chiffonade basil, toasted walnuts and (optional) feta cheese.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think of this dish!

 

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