GF/DF Black Bean Soup

blackbean2This month, as you know, is Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free for me! I’ve caved a few times, not gonna lie. Some of them may, or may not have been after a bottle of wine…or because I’m pretty the bag of chips  started speaking to me (I ate 3…lol). Although it’s been a challenge to completely change my diet, I feel SO much better than before I started it. I was just sick to my stomach, EVERY time I ate, and I definitely feel more alert and not tired during the day.

This lifestyle change is absolutely inconvenient, haha! It’s almost impossible to snack, and breakfast has been a real challenge which is heartbreaking, since it’s my favorite meal. I really miss my eggs+french toast…like, a lot.
Or…my homemade Pepperoni Egg-McMuffins. Sad.
The flip side of feeling better is just about worth it though :) I don’t miss feeling like a filled up balloon all the time, and dropping 10 lbs since last week didn’t exactly break my heart either! Heading to Mexico in a couple of weeks, so getting the summer bod back is an absolute necessity!

Going out to eat-is a pain in the butt, and tempting, so I’ve been staying home…A LOT. I miss being able to pick out anything on the menu, and the only things I want are things I’m not supposed to have. I try to force my eyeballs immediately move to the salad section, and I try not to glance around any further for fear of ordering and eating a whole plate of french fries.

I’ve found myself coming home and getting irritated that I haven’t planned ahead enough for dinner. Having something thawed out, or recently purchased and ready to go is not something I’m real skilled at :) I’m a professional “wing it” kind of dinner person.  I’m going to have to start pre-planning my weeks a little better, remembering to plan meals so I have things already thawed out, or make my trips to the grocery store verify specific to that week, so everything is fresh.

A night this week, I stumbled in the door after a long day at work, I was exhausted from the gym, and starving. I wanted someone to make ME dinner… but that ain’t gonna happen, so I started fumbling thru the cabinets. Everything convenient (aka awesome) was pasta, cheese, or pizza related. I just stood there aimlessly staring at the same items in the pantry and fridge…for a good 15 minutes, by minute 14 I was convinced that God actually hated me for taking all my favorite things away. After checking the fridge now…for the 13th time, my eyes finally set on a Tupperware of beans I’d soaked the night before in attempts to try dried black beans for the first time. hmmmm….

I’d eaten enough salads to bore a cow this week, and it was an entire 3 degrees outside… and then….* light bulb *. SOUP. Boom, on it.
Black bean soup, is just so…different. It is its own category of soup. I’m not even real particular about the consistency, since there are so many varieties of thin to creamy.
I glanced around online at a few recipes and then just started playing around in the kitchen- which turned into a fantastic new recipe!!
Awesome new recipe accident? Check. This was phenomenal.
The in-depth flavor profile completely took me by surprise. For me, what really made this one a home run, was coffee. Weird right? I’d used a little instant coffee packet the day before for a protein shake additive, and had a half packet leftover-which just gave me a little wink in the cabinet. The warm simple flavors were good, but the coffee really brought it around and turned it into decadent dish. It doesn’t overpower anything, but you can taste the resonance at the end of your spoon, it’ll make you happy. Promise

Black Bean Soup
Serves 2
2 cups Black Beans, cooked. This is a half pound of dried.
(I soaked mine overnight in water, and then boiled them for 10 minutes) I would not recommend using canned here, they won’t stand up as well.
1/2 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1 bay leaf
2 jalapenos, slice in half, remove the seeds
1 tsp oil (I used sesame oil)
1/2 packet of single serving instant coffee
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
s/p to taste

Directions:
1. Take the black beans you soaked overnight, and boil them for about 10 minutes if they’re not tender enough and drain
2. In your pot, add oil, garlic, and onion on medium heat, let cook for about 10 minutes, then add the beans back in
3. Dump in the rest of the ingredients (that was easy…wasn’t it)
4. Simmer for about 20 minutes
5. In your food processor or blender, blend! Add back into your pan and simmer again for 5 minutes to bring the temperature back up.
** You can pick your consistency here, if you want to thin it out, just add more water/or broth!

Gluten-Free (GF) January

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So I love food, this isn’t exactly news. Well Baby Jesus 2015 must dislike me, because every time I consume something exciting, aka bread/pasta or milk/cheese based I want to keel over. After much research,  I’ve been instructed to clear my system of both and then introduce back in one at a time to see if it could be a slight gluten or dairy intolerance. Let’s hope it’s neither, but in light of the situation, I figured it would be a great time to play in the GF playground for the month of January.

I know it’s a double hit, but you’ll see little to none dairy aspects this month as well as I try to clear my system. If anything it’ll at least be a great recipe learning experience! Starting the new year with some clean-eating isn’t the worst idea either! Greens and protein here I come!

Happy New Year!

:) Claire

Lasagna Rolls

lazrolls2This is one of my absolute go-to recipes, I can’t believe I’ve never posted about it. It’s in our regular rotation, and a perfect winter comfort meal. I love that it’s made in easy single-dish servings, making it easy to pack and go. Plus, have you ever tried to reheat lasagna and did it too quickly or on too high of heat? The outside it’s crazy hot, and the inside…ice cold. How to you reheat something that burnt your mouth, then cooled it in the same go? Ya, I have no idea either- that’s why I like these, they make me look less…stupid.

No one makes better lasagna than my Mom. I don’t know what she does that’s different, I’ve never even tried to learn, but it’s- just – different. I can only think of one reasonable excuse for my lack of attempt… and that’s because I’m not trying to feed an army of people, and I don’t want to have leftovers for an entire week, of the same meal. To avoid overkill on one of my memories of her recipe,  I’ll be proactive and just keep letting her make it when I come home :)

We use cottage cheese in my family instead of ricotta, but feel free to swap out whatever you prefer. I think store-bought ricotta is absolutely disgusting, so if you’re feeling adventurous… try my Homemade Ricotta. I really like putting left-over ricotta in my oatmeal. Is that legal? It’s a cheese technically, but somehow it just works. A dash of cinnamon won’t hurt your feelings either. Promise.

Just a heads up, the first time you make these, you’re going to burn your fingers on the noodles, and make an absolute mess of your noodle space. Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out :) Here are some tips for the above mentioned.

**When cooking the noodles, take them out about 2-3 minutes before they’re cooking time. You want them a little firmer, this helps the noodles not break apart, and avoids overcooking them in the oven.
Strain the noodles, then use tongs to lay them on a large cutting board, or where ever your placing them…or “you’ll burn your fingers”.
**Anti-mess tips- sauce, meat, cheese mixture. Roll firm, but not too tight, and don’t over-fill, or you’ll have all kinds of stuff fall out. Also known as lasagna splooge.

**Cottage Cheese Haters- Have someone in your family that doesn’t like cottage cheese? No problem, put the egg/cottage cheese mixture in a food processor. Hides the texture and traditional taste. Also, it gives it a similar ricotta fluffy texture.lazrolls1

lazrolls4lazrolls3

–Also a great recipe to cut in half!

Lasagna Rolls

8 Lasagna Noodles
1 Large can/jar of sauce (I used Hunt’s brand because the large can’s are just too hard to beat, and they’re under a dollar)
1/2-3/4 lb of hamburger or sausage, browned
1 1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 Egg
4 handfuls of shredded mozzarella, this is about 2 cups
1/4 tsp of s&p
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp ground or flaked oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley

Directions
1. Start to brown your hamburger or sausage in a saute pan.
2. While meat is cooking, boil the noodles in a large, wide, sauce pan. Cut their cook time short by 2-3 minutes. You want them al-dente if not 1 minute less.
3. Drain the pasta after its done cooking, I lay them out on a large cutting board. If you don’t have one try parchment paper, so that it saves you the mess, and the noodles don’t stick.
4. Prepare a 9 x 13 dish (I used glass) and spread about 1/4 cup of sauce on the bottom.
5. While the noodles cool a bit, mix your cottage cheese mix either with a fork or in the food processor. Mix together the cottage cheese, egg, mozzarella, s/p, red pepper, paprika, basil, oregano, and parsley.
6. Two tablespoons or so of each in order, sauce, meat, cheese mixture. Leave an inch at the end of each noodle for rolling up.
7. Place noodles seam side down, cover with remainder of the sauce, and two more handfuls of cheese.
8. Bake at 350 covered for 30-35 minutes.

Pumpkin Bars

pumpkinbars2I love this time of year, pumpkin EVERYTHING, in any form. It’s so wonderful in everything you put it in, how can we only use it (in a social/seasonally acceptable fashion) only two months out of the year? TELL ME WHY?!

I’m going to have to just give up Pumpkin Pie completely, because these are just absolutely ridiculous-my tighter jeans said so. I literally can’t not eat more than three at a time. I didn’t even attempt to make these healthy, but I’ll give it another go soon to cut out some of the sugar and go easier on the frosting, so stay tuned.

I’m an absolute freak, for making things harder on myself than should be. Taking something to a potluck or gathering for instance. I almost always pick something to bring that is ridiculously labor intensive (individual or bite size servings in large quantities), or something that needs to be piping hot, or appropriately chilled to be served at best. Why do I do this, why?! I’m trying to learn my lesson, and not cause so much un-needed food stress. (woe-is-me-right?)

Well here is the answer to every single one of those problems. These bars are easy, quick to bake, easy to frost, and they can be chilled or at room temp. What could make these better, but cream cheese frosting?! Yep, it’s got that too. Cream cheese frosting in any instance is great at locking in the moisture of the cake/bars.
Cream Cheese Frosting two-part awesome factor-
1. Cream cheese is dense, when you pair that with locking these up air tight, it makes your bars last so much longer, locking in all that moisture.
2. When you chill bars, whether same day, or as leftovers (because it’s dairy, fridge it!) and then serve them again later, as they come to room temp, some of the cream cheese starts soaking in to the bars. Extra yum factor.

This was my first jelly roll pan (12×17) experience. Love it, will do again! I wanted them more bar-like than cake-like (9×13) in a rectangular cake pan, bars are so much easier to get out of jelly roll pan than a cake pan! But either is great, so just use whatever you have on hand, or prefer. I feel like in my jelly roll pan I can eat more, stretching it out! Course…I’m not supposed to eat the whole pan alone- I’m pretty much doing that.

I LOVE November, December, and everything holiday, and I HATE eating moderately these two months. It is absolutely zero fun. So in honor of kicking off Thanksgiving week, lots of football, Family and Friendsgiving’s, eating till you explode and excessive amounts of wine, let’s celebrate with a basic pumpkin bar recipe. There really isn’t a lot of variation of them floating around, unless you start adding in different ingredients. Sometimes it’s better to just stick with keeping it simple, and not over-complicating what’s already great! (Isn’t that true in life sometimes too?)

**I can’t wait to re-post my healthier version in a couple weeks! Enjoy!! (I am…still)

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

BARS
1 15oz can of Libby’s Pumpkin
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup veg or canola oil

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 nutmeg
3 tsp cinnamon

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
7 oz. cream cheese, softened– I know, you can use the whole package, I just think it makes it too much frosting, people tend to start scraping it off
5 tbsp. of butter, softened
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 C powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
2. Whisk together oil, eggs, sugar and pumpkin.
3. Pour into a greased (buttered, floured. Or, sprayed, then floured) 12 x 17 jelly roll pan or 9 x 13 cake pan.
4. Bake at 350 for 24 minutes in the jelly roll pan (35 minutes in the 9×13). Make sure when you remove from the oven to set it on a wire rack or something that allows air flow to the bottom of the pan.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Cream all ingredients until smooth. Add the powdered sugar in 4 sessions slow so it doesn’t explode all over your kitchen.
Wait about 20 minutes or until cooled to frost.pumpkinbars1

Red Potato Pork Chops

redpotatopork2

I’ve been on a break-but I’m back, I’m back!! Just in time for fall, and just in time for EVERYTHING PUMPKIN. This is prep-post. It’s not about pumpkin, I promise but it is pretty fall-worthy. So while I work you up with a fall dinner dish, be prepared to have an overkill of pumpkin because

1. I LOVE it
2. It’s October
3. It’s fall (they’re different, promise)
4. It’s acca-mazing 5. Because real people dig pumpkin

That was your warning, so here is a post to let that Pumpkin-Info settle in, before I drown you in it. In the meantime, let’s discuss this recipe, because it’s delicious- and you want another of reasons why…right?!

1.Red Potatoes: awesome
2. Cutlets: sign me up
3. One pan bake that isn’t really a casserole: stop why you’re doing, YES.
I’m on a list binge today–stay with me
Casseroles are good, but they’re super hard to photograph (amateur alert) and they are really hard to heat up without being a bowl of mush afterwards. This one, which I’m not calling a casserole because
1. I hate that word
2. It reheats like a charm
3. This doesn’t have rice or pasta in it
soooooo…..you’re carb-ly welcome.

I’m not gonna lie, this did take some time to prep, it’s not a quick meal to table deal. It probably took 1 1/2 hours start to finish…but wine was involved so the focus was…in my glass. I should really be a guest host on My Drunk Kitchen.
It’s worth the time, or at least a bottle of wine to put together :) We’ll definitely be adding this into a regular rotation!  Great for a Sunday night dinner because of the prep time or even a partial prep the night before for a quick Monday family meal! Because this recipe is swap out friendly, swap the pork cutlets for chicken or even cube-steak if you want!

As always feel free to remove or substitute any part you choose to customize it to your family-

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Red Potato Pork Chop Bake
Serves 4

Ingredients
4 butterfly pork chops, cut in half (to make 8)
1/4 Greek Yogurt
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/8 s/p each to season
2 tbsp of veg oil to fry
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
7 small red potatoes, cut into very thin slices (use a mandolin if you have one)
1/2 yellow or white onion, VERY thinly sliced, then cut the rings in half
1 small can of mushrooms and stems
1 tbsp of butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup + 3/4 can of water (**sub in Cream of Chicken if you’re not a mushroom fan**)
1 cup broccoli florets
2 handfuls of shredded Mozzarella
Parsley to Garnish

1. Trim your pork (or chicken if needed) then slice in half. Whisk your Greek Yogurt and marinate along with you salt/pepper, ginger, and cumin. Let this marinate while you prep the rest. Can marinate up to 24 hours if you want to prep ahead of time.
2. Thinly slice half an onion into rings, then cut in half and soak in water for 5 minutes. This will remove the onion bite.
3. Next very thinly slice your red potatoes.
Preheat oven to 375
4. In a saute pan, with 1 tbsp of butter on medium high heat, cook your onion and mushrooms for 15 minutes(I added 1 tsp of sugar at the end to caramelize).
5. In a 8×10 or 9×13 size casserole dish, line the bottom with a thin layer of red potatoes, don’t overlap too much, you just want it to cover the bottom.
6. Your mushrooms/onions should be translucent and fragrant by now, remove them from the pan onto a plate. Keep the saute pan on medium high heat and add 2 tbsp of oil, or enough to cover the bottom.
7. While oil is heating, take your pork/chicken cutlets and dredge them until coated in your flour. Brown each side for about 2 minutes (they will continue to cook while baking. Place browned cutlets on top of the red potato base in your dish.
8. Scatter your broccoli next across the dish along with the mushroom/onion mixture.
*Add 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes for a kick here if you wish.
9. Place remaining red potato slices over the dish on top of all the ingredients. (I threw several tbsp of Greek Yogurt in with this too, because I love it!)
10. Whisk water and cream of mushroom/chicken together and then pour evenly across the dish.
11. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Top with Parsley to garnish.redpotatocutlets3

Cookie Crust Apple Pie

10534641_10152209099321148_2236412238399488515_n (1)Apple and cherry, are my favorite pies ever. Simple, not too sweet when done right. The perfect texture of soft fruit with a crunch of crust! Every time I make a pie, I search out a new recipe. Fruit pie fillings are pretty consistent for the most part without a lot of change. When you’re trying to stay true to a classic pie, you aren’t thinking of anything crazy or over the top, just really great taste and texture. Pie recipe searching…no more!! At least for the crust anyways. I can’t imagine how amazing this would be with a vanilla pudding pie!

Pie crust. Ugh. Something everyone struggles with at some point, and something that everyone has their preference on. Thin, thick, flaky, pre-baked, ect. Well I found a new one…a new, absolutely, awesome, new one. It’s basically an oatmeal cookie for a crust, with the same cookie streusel topping. Like, seriously. Apple Pie Cookie.

Best part of this recipe…you don’t have to pre-make your crust, no rolling, shaping, or messing with dough. Fool-proof!! I just love it. For those who don’t like baking, or think they can’t, it’s easy, quick, and time-to-table in less than an hour. Even a great last-minute dessert! What more do you want, cookies with your pie? Wait- it’s that too.

I wish I could take all the credit for this recipe, but…I can’t. I first viewed then adapted this recipe from Six Sisters: The Best Dutch Apple Pie. Please try this, share it with your friends…then dump ice cream over the top!

 

Cookie Crust Apple Pie

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup oats (I used quick oats)

Filling:
2/3 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cups cold water
4 apples, diced in 1 inch cubes (I used Braeburn)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and oats. Measure out 1 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside to use as topping.
3. Press remaining crumb mixture into a 9” ungreased pie pan. I used my right10659223_10152209129346148_4091321112804247363_n (1) hand to press, and my left hand as a guide to push the crust up against to make an event line on the rim working the crust up the sides.
4. In a saucepan over medium high heat, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir continuously while bringing to a boil for about a minute or thickened. This will happen very quickly!
5. Remove pan from heat and stir in the diced apples, cinnamon, and vanilla.
6. Dump covered apples into the pie pan and top with the reserved crumb mixture.
7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the streusel on top starts to turn golden brown.

Chicken and Kale Wrap with Buffalo Dipping Sauce

chickenkalewrapIf you’re from Nebraska, you go to Amigo’s, and it’s not because they have amazing Mexican Fast Food. You go because you would give your first born child for their ranch.
A great wrap is similar, the secret is in the dipping sauce!! You can make the most simple combination of ingredient, but if you have that dipping sauce, that’s where you bring it home!

Most people go to a casual dinning restaurant or a bar and get a burger, right? Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re great, but wraps have always had this pull on me I can’t resist, which is the first place I look on any menu. IIt makes me feel about getting something…sorta healthy…until…I slather it ranch or some other form of heaven in small cup they’ve placed on my plate. Now that I can bathe it in sodium, empty calories, fat, and preservatives, I feel better. I don’t care, it’s my splurge, so I order fries for  my side too instead of cottage cheese. I’m gonna dip those fries in ranch too. Shut up, I’m weak. Don’t act like you don’t. It’s amazing. (Periodically throughout the meal I’m telling myself ” I work out, I deserve this)

I love working out, it’s a hobby, it’s a passion. You know what else I love? Pizza, burgers, ranch, cheesecake, cookies, chocolate, french fries, mozzarella sticks, tortilla chips. This is my life.  Although  i don’t splurge a lot, and when I do, I almost always regret it, or feel like a waste of space afterwards…BUT,I love every second I’m dipping my pizza in ranch and stuffing it into my face too.

Anyways, now that I’ve dumped that out. Healthy things! :) As much as I love everything I listed above, they actually make me feel horrible afterwards, or the next day. If I carb load anymore after 4pm, I feel it for the next two days, not awesome. This is why I’ve taken one of my favorite guilty bar-food pleasures and turned it into something quick, easy, and healthy at home.

As always, feel free to substitute or remove certain ingredients.If you don’t want to plan this meal ahead, just ditch the yellow squash. Grilling your chicken is also a great and quick way to get these to the table!
These can be as simple or as complicated as you want. The secret weapon here, maybe to your surprise, isn’t the sauce, it’s throwing them on the stove top to seal the wrap and to melt everything cohesively together along with giving your tortilla the perfect crunch! Wrap it up.wrapsauce

Chicken and Kale Wrap with Buffalo Sauce
Yield: 4 wraps

4 Flat Wraps, or tortillas
2 pieces of boneless chicken, sliced in half the long-way to make them thinner
1/2 cup balsamic salad dressing
2 tbsp of lemon
2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 small yellow squash, peeled, seeds removed, sliced into even 1″ pieces
1 red onion diced
1 cup of kale, chopped
shredded cheese as desired per wrap (I used a small palmful of mozzarella per)
fresh basil (extra addition if you have some in your garden, 1 tbsp)

***At least 2 hours prior, or the day before is fine too
1.Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
2. Peel, scoop out seeds, and chop yellow squash. Season lightly with salt and pepper and 1 tbsp oil.
3. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Toss the squash, leave in the oven, but turn the oven off after the 20 minutes. (or grill these too!)
You want your squash to be in the oven for about an hour with the oven off. This will cook them firm without overcooking, and they won’t be mushy,
4. Slice the two pieces of chicken into four, the add the balsamic, lemon, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Cover and marinate in fridge until you’re ready to cook.

*** READY!
5. Preheat heat to 425 degrees (or fire up the grill, and grill your chicken!)
6. Bake your chicken for 20 minutes or until done
7. While chicken is baking, chop your kale, basil, onions, and whip together your buffalo dipping sauce.

ASSEMBLE
8. Arrange your kale and basil (optional) and onions on the wrap leaving a 1-2″ gap at one end.
9. Then add your chicken. I do chicken here, because your other ingredients are loose and the meat helps hold it in place.
10. Now your cheese, add as much as you want, make sure the inch gap you left now as a little cheese at the end too, this will help seal the wrap together and not come apart.
11. Roll it up!
12. Heat up a skillet on medium-high. Sear 4 sides of your wrap (sealed side first), for about 30 seconds each side. You’ll get beautiful golden-brown sear marks as it crisps up. Feel free to omit this portion if you’re in a hurry or just want it cold!

Buffalo Dipping Sauce
1 cup of plain Greek Yogurt
4 tbsp of Wing Sauce
** I like mine spicy, and very buffalo–y. You can also start with less, add one tbsp at a time until you get a desired flavor.

1. Whisk together ingredients, then divvy out 1/4 cup to each person on the side, or you can spread the dip in the wrap if you’re not a dipper.