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Gluten-free Baked Pasta

March 17, 2011

Gluten-free Baked Pasta

Over the next month you are going to notice a bit of simplifying in my recipes. No I haven’t gotten lazy! I am excited to say that I am switching jobs at the end of the month. It is a very exciting time but on top of graduate school, something has to simplify. I was feeling frustrated by my lack of creative cooking these past few weeks and then it occurred to me that many of you are probably facing the same dilemma – how to balance a busy life filled with career, family and obligations while at the same time maintaining a healthy gluten-free diet? So this next month will be my adventure walking this fine line. Healthy, gluten-free meals, that are ready in less than an hour (preferably 30 min), taste great and have quality nutritious value.

Gluten-free Baked Pasta Recipe

To kick off this new segment of Gluten-free Table, I would like to share a recipe from this past week. This dish is a lot like baked ziti but without all the ricotta, eggs and hassle. It does take an hour start to finish but you can throw it in the oven and go take care of other things.

1 bag of Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne

28 oz jar of Pasta sauce

2 cups of mozzarella cheese

2 cups of cooked peas

10 oz of chopped mushrooms

1 lb of free range beef, bison or ground turkey

block of Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the bag. While the pasta is cooking, brown the meat in a skillet. Drain off the excess liquid. Add the pasta sauce and simmer for five minutes covered. When the pasta is done, drain and splash with cold water to prevent clumping. Spray a 9×13 in baking dish or casserole with olive oil. In a bowl, toss the pasta and the sauce until the pasta is fully coated in sauce. Add the peas and mushrooms and toss until evenly distributed. Spread half the pasta in the casserole dish. Sprinkle half the cheese on top. Shave a light layer of Parmesan cheese on top. Add the rest of the pasta, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and cover with a fine layer of Parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes. Serve with a garden salad and enjoy.

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Gluten-free Bar Review: Drink, Boston

March 16, 2011

Elderflower Sour

I have gotten used to being the most boring bar go-er ever. Bacardi with seltzer and juice or a glass of wine is my standard. Sound familiar? Well who can blame me? Ordering a drink in a bar when you are gluten-free is really tricky. It’s loud, you have to scream in your order and not a lot of bar tenders understand what gluten-free means. And of course there is that rumor that distillation removes the gluten which I from personal experience can say is just not true.

Last weekend, we met our friends Mike and Linda at Drink, a fabulous bar located at 348 Congress Street in the Fort Point District of Boston’s South End. What a fabulous bar. It is the kind of place where you can sit and enjoy your drink, made of the finest quality ingredients, without having drunk people falling all over you. Also, it is a bar where the bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable about mixology and presentation.

We met our friends in the late afternoon. The place was still pretty quiet so I felt comfortable asking the bar tender some questions. This place is so awesome, you don’t even have to know what you want, you can just tell them the flavors and spirits that you enjoy and they make excellent recommendations. I told her that I was gluten-free and that I loved citrus. They have two different gluten-free Vodka’s on hand, one of which is my favorite, Rain Organics Vodka.

Moments later, appeared a gluten-free Elderflower Sour. Amazing. This drink is like summertime in a glass. The flavors are like citrus, seltzer and lychee. Absolutely fabulous and refreshing. Please note that not all Elderflower Sour’s are gluten-free so don’t run out to a bar and order one unless you plan on having a chat with the bar tender. But fortunately if you live in Boston, you can stop over to drink, where the bar tenders and waitstaff are more than happy to help you with all your gluten-free drinking desires.

Friday Finds: Mrs. Crimble’s Original Cheese Crackers

March 11, 2011

Mrs Crimble's Original Cheese Crackers I was introduced to Mrs. Crimble’s Original Cheese Crackers while visiting my sister-in-law in Austin, Texas. These cheesy crackers are like a gluten-free gourmet Cheez-It, only not greesy or overly salty (sorry Cheez-It). They are light and crunchy,  and they don’t crumble apart. Beware – they are highly addictive!

Sadly, Mrs. Crimble’s Products are very hard to find in the US. Fortunately you can find most of their products online at glutenfreemall.com. My hope is that this post will show Mrs. Crimble’s that there is a huge market for their tasty crackers here in the States, and that soon, we will find them on the shelves of Whole Foods and other mainstream grocery stores.

Orange and Beet Salad

March 9, 2011

Orange and Beet Salad

The first time I ever had a beet, I was sixteen and living in Costa Rica. Growing up, we never had beets at home because my mother hated them. I fell in love instantly with this  simple delicious root vegetable. On our weekend trip to Wholefoods this past weekend, Mark grabbed a few golden beets. If you haven’t tried golden beets, check them out. They are a little sweeter than a red beet and they add a beautiful vibrant gold to your salad’s color pallet.

Baked Beets

For years, I enjoyed beets, simply boiled and thrown into salads or served sliced over rice. Recently, a friend introduced me to the technique of baking beets, a healthier, tastier and a more nutritious way to enjoy this garden treat. Wash the beets, place them in a covered baking dish (or wrap them in foil) and bake at 400 for about an hour. They are done when you can insert a fork easily into the center of the beet. Set the beets aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, use your hands to rub off the skin.

Orange and Beet Salad

After I baked the beets, I realized I didn’t have any red onions, goat cheese or lettuce in the house. All the ingredients I usually use to make a nice beet salad. Time to innovate! I opened the refrigerator and grabbed the few items we had:

  • 1 golden beet, baked and peeled
  • 1/2 of an English cucumber
  • 4 clementines
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

I quartered the beets, halved each clementine section, and chopped the cucumber into thin quarter slices. Mark whisked together the olive oil and lemon with a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. We tossed the dressing and veggies together and sat down to try our experiment. Who knew innovation could taste so good. This salad is a medley of flavors and textures. The cold crispness of the cucumber against the citrus of the clementines pairs beautifully with the sweet, earthy flavor of the beets. As an added bonus, this is an excellent way to bring some color to a dreary, March evening.

Gluten-free BBQ Chicken

March 7, 2011

Gluten-free BBQ Chicken

It was a frustrating trip to Wholefoods and Trader Joes this weekend as I searched endlessly for chicken thighs but to no avail, I came up short. In need of a substitute, I grabbed chicken legs and hoped for the best. Upon returning home, I decided that this twist in my plan, called for a change in recipe. This was a sign I was meant to try something new, throw in a monkey wrench and create a little culinary experiment.

Thus resulted a new fabulous homemade gluten-free BBQ sauces and oven baked sweet potato fries. This sauce is very flavorful and so good I forsook my napkin and licked the sauce of my fingers, determined not to miss a drop! It is easy, corn-syrup free and seems to get better each day. I hope you enjoy.

Gluten-free BBQ Sauce Ingredients

Spray a broiler pan with canola oil. Roast 1 lb of chicken legs or thighs on the broiler pan at 425 for 20 min. Turn and roast 20 minutes longer. While the chicken bakes, bring the gluten-free BBQ sauce ingredients to a boil on the stove, stirring continuously until blended and thick. Bake the chicken until it is golden brown. Place the chicken in a glass or ceramic dish and coat with the sauce. Serve and enjoy. This dish gets better after 24 hours so if you have the time, let it sit overnight in the fridge. When ready to eat, bake in the oven at 425 for 10-15 minutes, uncovered, watching carefully so as not to burn.

Gluten-free Sweet Potato Fries

Slice a sweet potato into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Spray a crisper or baking pan with olive oil. Spread the sweet potato on the pan and spray with  olive oil. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Turn the sweet potato rounds, sprinkle with salt and bake for 10 more minutes until golden. Try dipping the fries in the BBQ sauce instead of using ketchup. Just another way to enjoy this tasty tasty gluten-free BBQ sauce.

Friday Finds: Glutino Vanilla Wafers

March 4, 2011

Glutino Vanilla Wafers

These past few months, I have been on a delicious streak of new gluten-free products coming my way. This weeks Friday Find, Glutino Vanilla Wafers, is courtesy of my friend Alana who showed up last weekend, for lunch, with a bag of delicious gluten-free desserts. A very awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Glutino products are reliably fabulous and these wafers are no exception. Thin wafers layered with vanilla cream enrobed in quality milk chocolate. Almost like a gourmet gluten-free Kit Kat. We paired ours with warm cups of rooibos tea and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon before returning to homework.

Image Source: “Glutino Vanilla Wafers” – http://www.glutino.com/our-products/snacks/wafers/vanilla-wafers/

Gluten-free Granola Recipe

March 2, 2011

Gluten-free Granola

Part of the fun of making your own granola is that you get to add exactly what you want to the mix. I know there are many fabulous gluten-free granola options on the market but sometimes I want an exact combination of flavors. Also, I live with mark who can eat a whole bag in one sitting which gets cost prohibitive. So if you are looking for an easy, tasty gluten-free granola recipe, here you go.

Gluten-free Granola Ingredients

Preheat oven to 325. Spray a large baking pan or casserole dish (approximately 13 x 18 in) with canola oil spray. Whisk together the oil and syrup in a bowl. Combine the cereals, dried fruits, nuts and salt in the baking pan. Slowly pour half the oil/syrup over the mixture. Stir the cereal to combine. Pour the remaining oil/syrup over the cereal and stir again. Bake for 20 minutes in the middle of the oven. After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven, stir the mixture and return it to the oven to bake for an additional 20 minutes. Cool before serving. Interested in adding your own flare? Change up the recipe by substituting other dried fruits or nuts to the recipe. Add your own spices to give a hint of cinnamon or a cayenne kick. Let me know what you come up with in the comments section below.

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