October 21, 2013

Meatloaf. The Good Kind.

Happy fall, friendos!  I personally couldn't be happier that the cool weather is finally settling in here in Atlanta, and to celebrate I made one of my new favorite cold weather dinners:  meatloaf.  I didn't grow up in a family that made a lot of meatloaf, and I'm happy about that, because so much of it out there really isn't great.  But this meatloaf was perfect, on its own and in heavenly sandwich form.

Meatloaf Recipe
This recipe is of course gluten and dairy free, but feel free to make substitutions.  It's also wonderful with strictly 1 1/2 lb. of ground chuck used--play around with it.
  • 1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup rice milk
  • 1/2 lb. ground chuck
  • 1/2 lb. ground lamb
  • 1/2 lb. ground veal
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 yellow onion, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • Sambal Ketchup*

Alright!  First, make those breadcrumbs.  I always save the ends of my Udi's loaves to make them.  Throw them in a food processor, and you're ready. 

Then place them in a large mixing bowl and add your milk of choice.  Dry breadcrumbs make for dry meatloaf, so let them soak up all of the milk before you add the other ingredients. 

Then grate the onion and carrot and mince the parsley.  Add the veggies to the bowl, along with the egg, meats, salt, and pepper.  Mix this gently with the tips of your fingers.  Don't smash it all together.  This will result in a much better texture.

All that's left to do is place it all in a small loaf pan, cover it with the sambal ketchup, and bake it at 325 for 40 to 45 minutes.  After it comes out of the oven, let it rest for 10 or 15 minutes and then enjoy!

I should add, I served mine with an AWESOME onion jam.  Cut several pieces of bacon (I used three) into lardons and crisp in a pan.  Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon grease in the pan.  Dice a large yellow onion and add it to the pan.  Caramelize the onions and then add some brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, bourbon, and a little corn starch, as well as the crispy bacon.  This stuff is amazing.

*Sambal Ketchup 
This sauce is perfect because it's sweet and spicy.  You have a couple of options here.  You can just add some sambal to ketchup until it's as spicy as you'd like it to be, or if you're like me and don't have any ketchup, you can do what I did below.
  • 3 Tbsp. sambal
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • hot water
Combine the sambal, tomato paste, and brown sugar in a bowl.  Then just add a little hot water to thin it out a bit and dissolve the sugar.

September 30, 2013

Ridiculously Delicious Cookie Dough

I have to say, I am completely ashamed that I made the recipe I am about to tell you about.  I am even more ashamed, or maybe just in awe, of how much I actually loved this recipe.  I found it on FoodGawker last night and had seen so many others like it that I felt like I just had to try it.  It is gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough...meant to be eaten strictly as cookie dough, not turned into actual cookies.  That doesn't sound too crazy, right?  Just wait.  It is the type of cookie dough that is made with...canned chick peas.

I know, it sounds like it would taste awful, but worse than that, it just sounds like one of those ridiculous "healthy" recipes that make you want to yell "JUST EAT THE COOKIE DOUGH ALREADY!  WHY ARE YOU ADDING BEANS TO THIS?!" Like when people try to "sneak" vegetables into mac and cheese.  Why are you doing that?  Why can't you just have a side of vegetables and leave the mac and cheese alone?  Oh right, back to the cookie dough...

Clearly with such strong opinions about these kinds of recipes, it is a miracle that I tried it at all, but since I had all of the ingredients and was jonesing for some cookie dough, I gave it a shot...and I have to say, I am so glad I did. This is currently living in a large tupperware container in my fridge, and I have been eating it with a spoon and a large glass of milk.  My recipe is adapted from this cookie dough recipe, but don't worry about following the measurements exactly--there are no eggs in here, so you can just make it, taste it, adjust it.

Cookie Dough Recipe
  • 1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp peanut butter (or any nut butter)
  • 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar (not too firmly packed)
  • 3 Tbsp gluten free oats
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped, roasted almonds
Combine all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips and almonds in a food processor, and process until smooth.  At this point look at your consistency--it looks like cookie dough, right?!--but if you would like it a little thinner add a splash of milk (dairy-full or dairy-free is fine) and if you would like it thicker add a bit more of the oats.  Now transfer your "dough" that you are probably terrified to actually taste into a bowl and stir in the chocolate chips and almonds.  Now, just trust me and try it...it is awesome!

August 10, 2013

Home Again, Home Again

         I've made it!  At long last, I am in Atlanta, and I have to say, I love this place already.  In my life, I have primarily lived in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Clemson, South Carolina; and Boone, North Carolina.  While I have loved all of them, none of them are booming metropolises, and the thought alone of picking up and moving into a studio apartment in Atlanta without a job or friends in the area has at times felt  more than a little suffocating.
         But having been here for about a full week now, I'm really feeling settled.  I have found three grocery stores, one of which is a Whole Foods...I don't even know how to behave in there...there are so many gluten free options.  I have obtained a library card.  I have found a good Mexican restaurant.  I have been busily on the job hunt. 

 Pan seared halibut on top of shiitakes and shallots, served with spicy, garlicky kale.

          Today I found the Peachtree Road Farmers Market at St. Phillip's Cathedral and bought some beautiful silver oyster mushrooms as well as a Bear Claw (blackberry and honey) popsicle from the King of Pops stand there.  It was delicious! 

  King of Pops truck...I live in a food truck mecca...

William and I also found a great Vietnamese restaurant, where we had pancakes and pho.  It is hard to beat a meal of pancakes and pho, particularly when you can both eat, leave a generous tip, and pay only $15.  I cannot wait to try all of the awesome little Asian spots in this city.

Yum!  Vietnamese pancakes with shrimp and pork, served with lettuce, mint, and nuoc cham.

Ah, yes, I'm very glad to be settling in here...now back to that small matter of finding a job...

July 8, 2013

GF Pasta with Tomato, Basil, and Brie

This is a classic summer dish in my family. When my dad's backyard garden is overgrown with basil, and the farmers market it full of ripe tomatoes, we know it's time to make this quick summertime meal. The nice thing is, it really doesn't get easier than this. Cut the rind off of a large wheel of Brie, and tear it into pieces. Place it in a bowl with several finely chopped tomatoes, a handful of chopped basil, and two or three minced garlic cloves. Let this just marinate on your countertop for an hour or two with a good dose of olive oil and salt and pepper. Now I know some of you may be worried about leaving cheese out at room temperature for several hours. To which I say, live on the wild side, you crazy person! Let that cheese just sit until it's nice and warm and melty and delicious--you are such a daredevil! And your daring nature will be rewarded with the most delicious no-cook pasta sauce you've ever tasted. Just add warm pasta (gluten free or not) to this and top with a little more basil. This is by far my favorite summer dinner.

July 1, 2013

BLT with Homemade Basil Mayonnaise

Ah summer! It's the perfect time for lazy dishes, because when the tomatoes are as full of flavor as they are now, you don't have to do much of anything to them. Just pile them high with lettuce, bacon, and mayonnaise, and you have the perfect summertime lunch.

I used Udi's Millet and Chia bread, toasted of course, and made homemade basil mayo to be slathered inside. I started with Alton Brown's recipe (see link below), which is always flawless (as is he). To it I added a little minced garlic and tons of chopped basil. It is hard to actually get this stuff onto bread before devouring it. Now slice up a watermelon and enjoy.


June 7, 2013

Tonsil Free

Ever since I was a child I've wanted to get my tonsils removed.  Days of missed school combined with a diet consisting of ice cream, popsicles, and pudding still sound just about like heaven.  What I never learned is that if you wait until you're an adult to get this procedure done, the whole process lasts for around three weeks.  That's three weeks of force feeding yourself enough ice cream and popsicles that you don't become malnourished and get put on an IV...I am only on day three.

Fortunately, there is a whole other food group that I have failed to mention so far, and it happens to be my favorite thing to eat in the entire world:  snow cones!  Not snow balls or shaved ice.  Seriously, those are the worst.  I'm talking about snow cones from the green snow cone stand in the Oaks District in Hattiesburg.  These syrup drenched ice concoctions are the only things that have been pulling my through...along with my My Little Pony coloring book and of course my large bottle of liquid Lortab...but I think the snow cones are doing most of the heavy lifting.

May 21, 2013

It's...Arrested Development

We are clearly all freaking out that Season 4 of Arrested Development will be released in just a few short days.  Once Sunday hits, no one will be leaving the couch to think about such inconsequential things as themed snacks, so get your Banana Stand treats ready now and be done with it!

First, grab some bananas faster than Mr. Bananagrabber himself.

And cut 'em up into bite sized pieces.  Then put them on a plate covered with parchment paper, and freeze them for a couple of hours.

Next melt some dark chocolate with a little bit of peanut butter, and pull your banana bites out of the freezer.

Then just dip your bananas into the chocolate, and place them back on the parchment to go back in the freezer.  I topped some of them with chopped peanuts--yum!!!

Now all you have to worry about come Sunday is how to cram in all of the episodes before work on Monday morning...I believe in you! 

May 20, 2013

My Favorite New Blog

I have to share my new favorite food blog with you.  But a word of warning first:  this probably should not be read at work, shared with your kids, or passed on to your parents (unless they're very cool and laid back).  The blog just won Saveur's Best New Food Blog award, which is a pretty huge honor.  It's called Thug Kitchen, tag line:  Eat like you give a f***.  Like I said, your grandmother probably won't love it. I, on the other hand, do!

The recipes are primarily vegan, and the commentary is hilarious.  He shares the recipe for a Roasted Strawberry Salad and then tells you, "Eat a goddam salad. Eat ten! Brag about it!  It's like plant nachos!"  And really, who isn't more tempted to eat a salad when it's described to them as plant nachos...or when it's topped with succulent, balsamic roasted strawberries and toasted shaved coconut. 

He also makes other delicious things like Chickpea and Broccoli Burritos, Peanut Tempeh Summer Rolls, and Strawberry Grapefruit Margaritas!  Yes please!!!  Basically, I love him, and you should too.


Update on Avocado Toast

I made this for lunch yesterday, and it was so perfect!!

May 11, 2013

Avocado Toast

Okay, I have to admit that I haven't made this yet.  I stole it from Julie Yoon's blog, but something about it just seems perfect, and I don't know why we all haven't thought of it before.  Easy as pie, healthy, delicious (looking!) breakfast!  Just make some toast, top it with a smashed avocado and a few slices of tomato, and finish it off with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon.  Yumm!!!

May 8, 2013

Pan Fried Kingklip with Quinoa Salad

Any good chef will tell you to go to the market without a real plan in mind for dinner.  It opens you up to using whatever they have that looks best that day.  Let's be real, most of us don't the time to think about food this way, or a market for that matter, but when it does happen, it can be a great thing.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store with no plan in mind except that I really needed to make something delicious since William will be leaving for field school soon.  I started at the fish counter, where I spotted a gorgeous white fish that I had heard of but never cooked with before--kingklip.  From there I picked up some fennel, a couple of oranges, and a bottle of white wine, and I had a plan.

Pan Fried Kingklip with a Shallot, Lemon, and White Wine Pan Sauce
First, pull out your fish and let it rest outside of the fridge for a while.  You don't want to throw cold fish into the skillet.  While this is warming up a bit, get your dredging station ready.  I used GF all purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper, a basic egg wash, and lastly GF breadcrumbs which I seasoned with red pepper flakes, grated garlic, and lemon zest.  After the fish is dredged, again let it rest for about 10 minutes.  This will help the coating really stick to the fish when it's cooking.

During this time you can get the ingredients ready for the incredibly easy pan sauce.  Just slice a shallot finely, cut a lemon into wedges, and open a bottle of white wine.

Next, we'll fry the fish.  Depending on the thickness of your cut, turn your burner onto medium high, and get your pan and canola oil nice and hot before adding the fish to it to ensure nice, crispy breadcrumbs.  Flip once everything is golden brown, and you're pretty much done.  Just remove the fish and let them drain on a paper bag while you make the sauce.

If there is too much oil left in the pan, pour a little out.  Then add a nice amount of white wine to deglaze everything at the bottom.  Add the shallots, and let them start to wilt.  Finish with a big squeeze of lemon juice and butter or olive oil, and you're done!  William Loved this!

Quinoa Salad
Until now I have only ever liked quinoa for breakfast, but now I'm a believer.  I think the trick for me was going the extra mile and cooking the quinoa in chicken stock instead of just plain water.  Here's how:  first make sure you wash your quinoa.  Measure it out, add it to a bowl, and fill it up with water.  Then give it a good shake around and drain it slowly.  Then add your quinoa and your chicken stock (1:2 parts quinoa to chicken stock) to a stock pot and let them come to a rolling boil.  Then cover them, and reduce it to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Finally uncover it, and if there is an liquid left or it just doesn't seem quite dry enough (it should be similar to rice) then let it cook at a very low temperature uncovered until it is just perfect.  Then set your quinoa aside to cool.

While that is cooking, get your other ingredients ready.  I added shaved fennel, shaved red onion, toasted almonds, orange supremes, mint, and a little squeeze of lemon juice, and it was AMAZING!!!  Seriously, I haven't stopped eating this stuff, which is fine because you can't get anything much healthier than this!

April 22, 2013

Blueberry Pancakes

Ok, I'm not sure that making pancakes from a mix should constitute a blog post, but when that pancake mix is a gluten free mix, some serious altering must be done, so maybe a blog post was called for after all.

Personally I'm a big fan of all things Bob's Red Mill. To this I added buttermilk instead of regular milk, melted butter instead of oil, and (here's the kicker) I whip my egg whites separately, and then fold them in as the last step. To this batter I also added lemon zest and vanilla extract. Blueberries were added during the cooking process, and what resulted were fluffy, bright pancakes that tasted so delicious the average bear would have believed they were chock full of our dearly missed gluten.

April 20, 2013

Perfect Green Beans

I heard this recipe on The Splendid Table on NPR last week.  I listen to the podcast when I go jogging in the morning; something about Lynne Rossetto Kasper's soothing voice as she talks about the best way to pour port or the joys of making your own soft tofu is the happiest way to start my days.  Last night I made her Greek-Style Green Beans, and they were unbelievably delicious.  As to avoid making yet another trip to the grocery store I substituted the whole tomato for a few squeezes of tomato paste right on top of the green beans (again not stirring), and they turned out perfectly.  They, and they alone, were my dinner last night, and I was a very happy girl.  I'll copy the recipe below...

Greek-Style Green Beans

I’d tell you to stick a Post-It right here because, once you try these, you’ll be making them often -- but they’re simple enough that after one time through, you’ll probably remember how to make them forever. These green beans are cooked to falling-apart-ness in what’s essentially a garlic-tomato confit. Every bite is imbued with flavor -- garlicky, a little hot, meltingly tender; the kind of good that, with your first bite, you close your eyes and grow silent.

The traditional Greek recipes in which this method is rooted use as much as three quarters of a cup of olive oil -- too much for me. The few tablespoons here give flavor and allow the green beans to caramelize. Pretty they are not, but with one bite that is moot. Back in my restaurant days, I once received a proposal of marriage from a guest on the basis of these green beans.

Pay careful attention to the details here. Technique is all.

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, tipped and tailed
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • About 1 tablespoon medium to finely chopped garlic (5 or 6 cloves)
  • 1 large fresh tomato, chopped (I go ahead and leave the skin on and seeds in; if you are fussier than me, remove both and use only the chopped pulp of 2 tomatoes)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A few dashes of cayenne
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried dill
1. Blanch the green beans: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Drain them well, then rinse with cold water, and drain them again.
2. Spray a large, heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet with a tight-fitting cover with oil, and set it over very low heat. Add the olive oil, scatter the garlic over it, and add the blanched green beans (in contrast to most sautes, the green beans are added when neither pan, nor oil, nor garlic, is yet hot). Scatter the tomato over the beans. Don’t stir.
3. Still keeping the heat as low as possible, cover the beans and let them just barely cook, without stirring, for about 40 minutes. I know it’s hard, but keep on not stirring; leave the heat low enough so that nothing burns. If you like, you can push a few beans back to check on the garlic at the bottom of the skillet. It should not be browning, merely cooking very, very slowly. Some of the beans will be browned on oneside, which is good. If this hasn’t happened yet, cover again and cook for 10, even 15, minutes more.
4. When the beans are soft, lift the lid and stir gently. It is unlikely, but if there’s a noticeable amount of liquid in the skillet, turn the heat up and, stirring gently but constantly, evaporate the liquid off. You want soft, barely-holding-together green beans. They should be slightly shriveled-looking and browned lightly here and there, with a bit of the garlic-tomato jam sticking to them.
5. Turn off the heat. Salt and pepper the beans, sprinkle them with the cayenne and dill, stir one more time, and serve. No, no, you don’t have to thank me.

March 27, 2013

Risotto with Shrimp, Snow Peas, and Mint

Yumm you just have to love a big bowl if risotto on a Snowy March night! And it really is the easiest thing to make. I made shrimp tacos the night before and turned my shrimp shells into the most basic of stocks by simmering them in salted water.

To make my risotto, I sweated a small diced onion plus a couple of cloves of garlic in a medium sauté pan with a little olive oil. Then I added and toasted 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice. Once I could smell the nice toasty rice, I started the process of adding the simmering shrimp stock: add a ladle, stir until fully absorbed, repeat. This process will take between 20 and 30 minutes but is sooo worth it! At the end, I follow the same steps but with a nice glug of white wine. I then finish the risotto with a little lemon zest, salt, and lots of black pepper.

On the side, I sauté together shrimp and snow peas and finish this with a chiffonade of mint. Plate this on top if risotto!! It is perfect!!

**side note--many people would cook their shrimp and vegetables in the same pan as their risotto--I do this with mushroom risotto, for example--but in this case, you want to be careful not to over cook the shrimp and to keep the snow peas slightly crisp, so cooking them separately just makes sense. Also...it just looks prettier, and that really Is important!

February 5, 2013

Feeling Like a Kid Again

With school cancelled for snow, I am happily holed up in my apartment, feeling like a kiddo. Fortunately ABC Family agrees with me that Christmas classics like Home Alone should be played until spring. But without our moms around to make a kid-worthy meal, William and I had to fend for ourselves. And what did we decide to eat while watching Kevin's crazy antics? Creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches!

Creamy Tomato Soup
In a Dutch oven, roast one large can of whole tomatoes (juice reserved for later use) and half of a large white onion sliced for 30 minutes at 415 degrees. In the last few minutes of roasting, throw in 3 crushed garlic cloves. Remove pot from oven and place on eye of stove set on medium high heat. Add the reserved tomato juice, a little chicken stock, and a touch of heavy cream or coconut milk if you love William and don't want to make him sick. Blend the whole thing in food processor and season to taste.

This really was delicious!! Roasting the tomatoes and onions adds so much rich caramelized flavor to a very simple soup.

January 21, 2013

Chicken Wangs!

Have I mentioned that I have the best boyfriend in the whole world? Tonight William made gluten free dairy free deep fried chicken wings....and they were the best thing Ever!!! Here's the skinny: brine them over night, dip em in egg wash, roll them in a combo of rice flour, corn starch, and corn meal, and fry em up! Then all you have to do is top them with the best sauce ever (made by bill of course) and devour!

January 14, 2013

Mississippi Inspired

I seriously can't tell you how much I loved being in the Deep South over the holidays. A lot of my time was spent in Apalachicola with William's family, where we essentially lived on these...

But spending a little time in Hattiesburg always leaves me craving more creole food in my life! My mom sent me back up to Boone with 2 pounds of Camelia red kidney beans, the cream of the crop when it comes to making red beans and rice. I followed John Besh's recipe and added some sausage (really, John, what were you thinking?) and ended up with the biggest, most delicious pot of creole comfort food you've ever seen. We ate it for days and have enough in the freezer to feed a Cajun army (I think recipe could easily serve 20).