RSS Feed

Tag Archives: home cooking

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. 🙂

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

Servings: 3 sandwiches

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. 🙂

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. 😉

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

Pin It

Pineapple Basil Fish Cakes and Avocado Cilantro Lime Slaw (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Yummy fish cakes. Cool tangy avocado cilantro lime slaw. Yay, no mayo!

As one who grew up not eating fish very often, I sure love it as an adult. Not only is it yummy and versatile, it also cooks in record speed and is one of the most healthful animal protein sources that I know of. I love playing with sweet fruit flavors in my recipes and complimenting them with fresh herbs and spices. My favorite herb has got to be basil. Lots and lots of fresh FRESH basil. If it isn’t large quantities of garlic and onions, I am probably using fresh basil more than any other ingredient. I just wish I could keep my plant alive so I didn’t have to keep buying it at the store. I know, I know…Woah is me.

Just as I was finishing up my last post (Low Calorie Shrimp Jambalaya with Egg Noodles), I was trying to think of what I wanted to make for dinner next. I was feeling void of inspiration for a short moment. A cloud of anxiousness covered me…. suddenly I feared that my blog would only EVER (E-V-E-R!!!) have four posts (at least it’s more than the first blog I started). Ok, ok I am slightly embellishing the feeling I had. One thing that I love about cooking and food is that I am pretty much ALWAYS thinking about it, so it doesn’t take me long to come up with my next recipe (thus why I keep a notepad on my phone to keep notes of dishes I want to make).  There is actually a running joke in my family that whenever we eat together, I have always said, “You know what we should have had?” It’s not that whatever we are ever eating isn’t worthy of praise and interest at that very moment, I am just always forward thinking and onto the next… meal.

And… back to the topic at hand. Fish.

Fish cakes are easy, yummy and a great way to mix up the normal fillet routine. You can use fresh or previously frozen fish in nearly any variety… salmon, cod, halibut, tilapia and lots more. Plus the ingredients you put into them can be changed up to suit your fancy, but you’ll definitely want to try my recipe to get you on your way to fish cake fanaticism. The slight sweetness of the pineapple coupled with the herby basil notes and then topped with the creamy lime cilantro dressing and crunch from the slaw make for a wonderful taste combination. The slaw also absolutely does not have mayo in it, because like you will soon come to know… I LOATHE MAYONNAISE! I find it vile and so gross, so I find ways around using it, or just don’t use it at all. You’re welcome, the calories weren’t welcome in this recipe anyways.

Oh, and did I mention this recipe is dairy free and gluten free! Yeah, well it is… so also healthier, so eat up!

If you buy fish when it is on sale or in the frozen fillets, you can save big money. We happen to buy almost all of our groceries at Grocery Outlet. Most people are amazed at that, because we certainly don’t survive off Ramen and Hamburger Helper in this house, that is for sure. We definitely are on a budget, and I am able to buy an assortment of fresh and frozen organic produce most of the time as well as wild caught fish for usually about half the price of normal grocery stores. I just love it there, and they have a fairly decent wine selection too.

Tools needed:

Food processor
Zester
Knife
Mandolin Slicer (optional – I don’t have one so I didn’t use it, but if you do it will make your life that much easier to thinly slice the cabbage into airy crisp goodness)

Servings: 4

Pineapple Basil Fish Cake

Ingredients:
8 oz. fresh or canned pineapple, drained as much as possible
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 bell pepper, cut up (any color will do)
FRESH basil – a large handful
pinch of red chili flakes
zest from 1 lime
1 lb. fish thawed, skin removed (salmon, cod, halibut, tilapia… your choice)
1 Tb. vegetable oil (I tried to use EVOO but found that it started smoking when cooking)

Avocado Cilantro Lime Slaw (NO MAYO! YAY!)

Ingredients:

1/4 – 1/2 cabbage, shredded airy thin (mandolin slicer can assist here, but I just used a sharp knife)
1 small ripe avocado
juice from 1 lime
large handful cilantro
1 clove garlic
pinch kosher salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Enough to thin out the dressing mixture

Steps

1. Start assembling the slaw first. Put the shredded cabbage in a medium bowl.

2. Plug in food processor. Scoop flesh of avocado into food processor, lime juice, cilantro, garlic and kosher salt and blend until smooth. Drizzle EVOO into processor until thinned enough that it can be mixed into slaw to dress cabbage. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

3. Scoop dressing out of processor and toss with shredded cabbage until covered. Place into fridge while assembling rest of meal.

4. Rinse out food processor to begin preparing fish cakes.

5. Put pineapple, garlic, kosher salt, bell pepper, basil, chili flake, lime zest in processor and blend until combined and finely pureed. Add fish and again pulse until incorporated with other ingredients.

6. Heat frying pan on medium high heat with 1 Tb. vegetable oil.

7. Scoop out 1/4 cup of fish mixture and place into heated frying pan. Press the fish mixture down to form a patty. Cook about 1 minute each side. Take out and place on a plate with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

8. Plate fish cakes and top with a heavy helping of slaw. Enjoy!

Note: We made mashed potatoes seasoned with my cajun spice mix as the other side for this. These weren’t GF/DF, so I omitted them from the post.

Pin It

Low Calorie Shrimp Jambalaya with Egg Noodles

Last night was Mardi Gras and we most definitely had a hankering for some jambalaya (us and well… every other American it seems). I have to say that in the past my experience with jambalaya has mostly consisted of a box mix which is full of lots of preservatives, salt, added calories and usually empty promises. We’ve had quite a bit of rice lately so I thought I would try out my own recipe this time and pour it over a helping of egg noodles as I have a few bags of this stashed around the kitchen and it was begging to be eaten.

This dish actually turned out much better than I anticipated. After I thumbed through my notes of what I used, I also figured it was pretty low calorie. The worst part of this dish is the egg noodles which you can definitely sub for something with less calories or just eat it without any added carbs. A cup of cooked egg noodles is about 220 calories, the jambalaya (shrimp, veggies, sauce) was probably under 100 calories, I figure (with my best google attempt). That means that a pretty large serving is still hovering under 350 calories. Not bad I’d say, not bad. The spice level was a perfectly balanced medium and not too spicy, although you can sure add more spice if you’d like. My hubs shies away from the spicy hot dishes, while I gobble them up, so I usually err on the side of less is more when more people that just myself are eating.

You will notice that I added cauliflower to this recipe. I certainly know that it isn’t an ingredient that usually makes an appearance in this dish, however I had it to use up and took my liberties to do so. This is a great dish to add any other random veggies you have lying around as the cajun spice mix will likely make it taste very good and you won’t notice you are eating veggies (if that is a difficult thing for you).

And on with the recipe! Enjoy!

Servings: 4

Ingredients

12 oz. package of egg noodles
Water
1 lb. wild uncooked Shrimp, de-veined and tails removed (Medium to extra-large in size)
1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 crown cauliflower broken into small florets
1 cup bell peppers sliced (red, yellow, and green)
1/2 large onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup broth (I used chicken broth)
Cajun Spice Mix (See recipe below)

Cajun Spice Mix

1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt (this is critical, DO NOT whatever you do use table salt or sea salt. Only Kosher or it will turn out too salty)
2 tsp. dried basil
2 Tb. paprika
1 Tb. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (this will result in medium spice, adjust according to preference)
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine these seasonings in a bowl and mix until combined. This recipe will create more than you will need for the whole recipe, but I suggest putting in an airtight container to use later in other cajun inspired dishes (chicken, fish, shrimp, veggies.. etc.)

Steps for making Jambalaya

1. Make the cajun spice mix according to recipe above. Set aside. Have all other ingredients prepped.

2. Fill a pot with water, sprinkle with kosher salt, and put on the stove on High heat. Bring to a boil. Drop the noodles into the water and set timer (according to package directions).

3. Put shrimp in a bowl and stir in enough cajun spice mix to cover the shrimp. Set aside.

4.  Put a saute pan on the stove, pour in 1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil and heat oil on Medium-High heat.

5. Add chopped garlic, onion, bell peppers and cauliflower to pan and cook for a few minutes until the veggies get nice and seared, leaving then with some brown edges.

6. Sprinkle a bit of the reserved cajun seasoning mix onto the veggies (a couple tsp. is sufficient) and stir to coat.

7. Add the seasoned shrimp to the pan. Cook the mixture until shrimp is half cooked.

8. Add the broth and chopped roma tomatoes to pan. Stir mixture together. Drop the heat down to medium and cook for a few minutes so that some of the liquid reduces.

9. Drain noodles when they are done (according to package directions).

10. Place a scoop of noodles on a plate and cover with jambalaya mixture. Pat yourself on the back, and enjoy!

Pin It

Mediterranean Pesto Chicken Sausage and Quinoa (Gluten Free)

I don’t eat exclusively gluten free, but I have dabbled for periods in the past and are often subject to these dishes when dining with family and friends with the sensitivity. Most gluten free recipes are pretty healthful in and of themselves, so I try to incorporate gluten free recipes into my repertoire every now and again. This was a good meal for getting some of my half eaten veggies and canned peppers and olives used up in the fridge, not to mention the half used pesto container from the night before’s homemade pizza (but I really would advocate for making some fresh pesto if you have the ingredients and a few extra minutes, as it’s more flavorful and comes together so quickly in a food processor).

I didn’t intend to make this dish gluten free, but it was a nice little afterthought when I started realizing that all of the foods I was pulling out of the fridge were of the sort. I was actually going to make this dish with noodles or pasta, which would have been delicious too, but I am glad that I chose quinoa as it is so yummy and it’s very healthy for you too, full of protein and fiber. I also love that this dish doesn’t ‘taste’ gluten free, so nothing about it makes you think you are missing out. This meal was delicious so I deemed it blog worthy (as did my husband – although he has to say that, right?). Not only is this yummy it’s also pretty healthy (with a few substitutions that I will note, you can cut more calories if you want), it cooks very quickly and even a novice cook can get this right on the first shot.

This is one of those recipes that you can eye-ball (except for cooking the quinoa) so put away your measuring cups and just start cooking 😉

I made this recipe for 4. There was enough for 2 of us for dinner and then enough for leftovers/lunch the next day.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa (will make about 3 cups cooked quinoa)
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 Tb. of extra virgin olive oil
1 package of fully cooked chicken sausage in casings, sliced into medallions (I used Al Fresco brand sun dried tomato chicken sausage, which is gluten free and has no nitrates)
handful of canned pepperoncinis, stem and seeds removed and sliced
1/2 cup greek pitted kalamata olives, halved
A few Tbs. of homemade or store bought pesto (I used about 1/3 of a 6 oz package)
crumbled feta cheese, enough for garnishing each dish
zest from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: dried red chili flakes (I like adding a little spice to my own plate, so I sprinkled a little of this on my own)

Instructions

1. Rinse the quinoa in water and discard rinsing water (A strainer might be helpful here). Add quinoa to saucepan and add in the water or broth. Turn on to high heat. Once it starts boiling put a lid on it and turn it down to a simmer. Keep covered and cook for 15 minutes. Remove quinoa from the heat and allow to sit with the lid on for 5 minutes.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, start preparing the rest of the dish. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan or an enamel coated cast iron pan at medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, add onion, garlic, bell pepper and cauliflower. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to get golden colored.

3. You might want to add another Tb. of olive oil if your veggies sucked up all the oil. Add your fully cooked chicken sausage medallions and cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes to give a good sear to the sausage.

4. Turn off heat and stir in the pepperoncinis, kalamata olives and pesto sauce.

5. Open lid of quinoa and fluff with a fork. Dish the quinoa onto plates first, top with the sausage and veggie mixture.

6. Top with a shake of crumbled feta and some fresh lemon zest

Cutting Calories? Consider omitting the pesto sauce and add some fresh chopped basil leaves at the end.

If you are using this recipe and sensitive or allergic to gluten, please verify each individual product label you use for this dish is free of gluten.

Pin It

Let me know how you like it 😀