Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Garlic & Rosemary Shiitake Mushrooms

When I was a kid, I hated mushrooms. I mean, really hated them. As far as I was concerned, it was the equivalent of eating packing peanuts. Gross! No flavor! Icky!

And then I grew up, and so did my palate. Now I love the darn things, especially since I found out that there are more mushrooms in the world than just those plain old white ones that still DO taste a little like packing peanuts to me. There are Portobellos, and Morels, and Oyster mushrooms. There are Puffball mushrooms, which, if you live in the midwest, you can sometimes score just by going for a hike in the woods each fall.

One of my favorites is the Shiitake mushroom. Partly because my kids and I think it's hilarious to say "Oh, SHIITAKE!" but also because they're delicious. They've got a nice woodsy sort of flavor to them and you can do all kinds of neat stuff with them. Last weekend, I forced invited my family to join me for a day trip down to Jungle Jim's International Market, which is two hours away but totally worth the drive because it's like Disneyland for foodies. Lo and behold, I nabbed a bunch of nice fresh plump Shiitake shrooms, and decided to make them as a side dish for dinner that night. The results were outstanding.

GARLIC AND ROSEMARY SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS


2 Tbs butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound of Shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
A handful of fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in your saucepan, and then saute the garlic. Before it gets brown, throw in the mushrooms. Stir them around so they get coated in the melted butter, and let them simmer until they're softened but not mushy. Add rosemary, salt and pepper.

Seriously, that's it. That's the whole thing. AND THEY ARE AMAZING.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tomatoes and Basil with Balsamic and Mozzarella

I love summertime because I can consume a decent amount of food just by walking into my own back yard. Especially tomatoes. I plant four to six plants every year (usually losing two when my derpy dogs lay on top of them or dig them up) and so it's nonstop TomatoPalooza out there. I also do basil, onions, and plenty of other stuff, so it's not hard for me to build an entire meal out of things I can go pick fifteen feet from my back door.

TOMATOES AND BASIL WITH BALSAMIC AND MOZZARELLA 

This is a super easy salad you can bang together in about five minutes, chill in the fridge while you relax, and whip out at dinner time to impress your friends. It's not only tasty, IT LOOKS PRETTY. You'll need:

5 - 6 Roma tomatoes, chopped into chunks
1/2 an onion, diced
5 - 6 leaves fresh basil, chopped
3 oz. Mozzarella cheese, chopped into little pieces
A pinch of salt
A pinch of black pepper

Mix all of these together in a bowl, and then drizzle with:

2 tsp. Balsamic vinegar**
2 tsp. olive oil

Blend it all together so everything is coated in the olive oil and Balsamic, and then chill for about half an hour.

The best part about this? It tastes EVEN BETTER the next day after the Balsamic has had time to soak into the Mozzarella cheese!

** Super important note here about the use of Balsamic vinegar: There's a lot of controversy over whether or not vinegar is safe for people on a gluten free diet. Jane Anderson, About.com's Guide to Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity, says, "Balsamic vinegar starts out as grapes and is aged in casks made from wood. There's a very small possibility that the paste used to seal those casks (generally wheat or rye flour) could contaminate a batch of balsamic vinegar, but only those most sensitive to trace gluten would notice. Otherwise, balsamic vinegar should be safe on the gluten-free diet." The bottom line here is if you've used it and had a negative reaction, DON'T use it again.

Also: If you type the word "tomatoes" a bunch of times it just looks like you've spelled it wrong.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Turkey and Avocado Scrambled Eggs

Yes, this is the second breakfast post in a row. DON'T JUDGE ME. I love eggs, and since I'm on a diet that's about 20% protein right now, I'm all about eggs. We usually get ours from a guy who has chickens, so they're even tastier than the ones you buy in the grocery store (and probably better for me, since they're free range).

I recently scored some really nice looking avocados on a trip to the grocery store, and while I'm happy to eat an avocado totally naked (the avocado, not me... well... never mind), I also like to mix them into stuff.

I had half an avocado left over from yesterday's lunch, so today's breakfast included some delicious green avocado-ey goodness.

TURKEY AND AVOCADO SCRAMBLED EGGS


Butter
1 onion, chopped and diced
Salt and pepper
1 C deli turkey, chopped
3 eggs

1/2 C Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 an avocado, chunked up into pieces

Melt a tablespoon or so of butter in your skillet and sautee the onions. I like to get mine nice and soft, just to where they start to turn brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the turkey, and let it get to where it's nice and warm, but not really browned up.

In a bowl, beat the eggs until they're all mixed together. Pour into the pan on top of the onions and turkey, and mix together. Make sure you move your eggs around constantly so they don't stick.

Once your eggs are nice and fluffy, add the cheese and blend it in. Add the avocado last - it's really better if it's not too warm. Serve it up with a little dollop of sour cream if you like, or just dig in and enjoy as is.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Totally The Best GF Wraps Ever

I work full time, so I generally end up packing a lunch or dinner for myself five days a week. That's not a problem, because I've always got leftovers, but sometimes I'm just in the mood for something that's grab-n-go. For normal people who don't have to eat gluten free, that's often a wrap. They're quick, you can make 'em pretty healthy, and you can snarfle them down while you're driving through rush hour traffic.

But honestly, most of the GF wraps out there suck. They're either short on flavor, like the ones made from ivory teff flour, or they're tasty but way too chewy to be enjoyable (brown rice tortilla wraps, I'm lookin' at you). I've finally stumbled upon something that's not only delicious, but it's soft and OMG IT FOLDS LIKE A REGULAR TORTILLA.

These guys, right here, from Toufayan. I found them in the bakery aisle at Meijer, my local grocery store, and they were $4.99 for a six-count bag, which isn't bad at all. The company's website says they freeze well, but I've just been keeping them in my fridge's deli drawer.

So far I've stuffed them with all kinds of veggies, spinach and alfalfa sprouts, chicken salad, a turkey 'n avocado blend, even a Reuben wrap with corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. I'm thinking they'd be great for burrito night, too.

Seriously, I can't recommend these enough. Definitely the best GF wraps I've ever tried.

Gluten Free Breakfast Crepes

I'm a big fan of the hearty breakfast. Sometimes, it's my biggest meal of the day, so I feel like it should be a celebration. Lots of proteins, fruits, and whatnots... really, as much stuff as I feel like I need to get me going for the morning.

I've been doing Weight Watchers for the past few months (down 23 lbs in twelve weeks, thanks very much), which is great if you're someone like me who enjoys from-scratch cooking using locally grown and farmed ingredients. I don't usually use their recipes - simply because my idea of cooking is Throw It In a Pot Til It's Done - but I did find one for breakfast crepes that looked intriguing. I substituted a gluten free baking mix for the flour, and reduced the number of servings because the original recipe served eight, and there's no way in halo that I'm feeding eight people breakfast. The results were pretty impressive. If you do WW, this is worth 6 PointsPlus per serving.

BREAKFAST CREPES (serves 2)

3 egg whites
A pinch of salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 Tbs melted butter
1/3 C milk (I used 1%, but you could go Skim if you like it)
1/3 C gluten free baking mix
1 C fresh strawberries or bananas, chopped
Powdered sugar

Whisk everything except the fruit and the powdered sugar together in a bowl. It should be a fairly thin mix, way more runny than pancake batter. Spray a bit of non-stick cooking spray in your pan, and then pour half the batter in so the bottom of your skillet is covered. Let it cook for about two minutes, and then flip - the crepe should be a bit rubbery in texture.

Place half your fruit on top of the crepe (on one side, like an omelet) and then let it cook another two minutes. Fold the crepe in half so it looks like a taco. Sprinkle with just a bit of powdered sugar, and then repeat the whole process with the rest of the batter.

These are amazing, and perfect if you're just doing breakfast for two. If you don't have any fresh fruit on hand, you can use preserves or jam. And yes, I totally ate mine with a side of bacon!