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Archive for the ‘Quick’ Category

Is there such a  thing as healthy pasta with Alfredo sauce? Perhaps not, but you can’t blame me for trying!

You see, Alfredo sauce is a craving of mine. And I got the craving the other week. Unfortunately I had no Alfredo sauce in the house and I am not one to make it from scratch either. In fact, out of the jar is what makes it so comforting to me, I don’t have to do too much!!

So last week I bought a jar of Classico Roasted Garlic Alfredo sauce. (It says Gluten Free on the label!) And then I got to feeling under the weather and so I *really* wanted carbs and cheese, and lots of it! And this is what I ended up with…

Alfredo Vegetable Pasta

Alfredo Vegetable Pasta

an original from Beyond Rice and Tofu

1 pound of pasta, gluten free *

1 – 15 oz jar Classico Alfredo sauce, check the label

1 – 15 oz can artichoke hearts in water, chopped

8 oz frozen spinach

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, not in oil, chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable broth, as needed to thin

1 – 15 oz can white beans, drained (or garbanzos, cooked chicken or shrimp*)

a few Kalamata olives, sliced

fresh basil, torn

Cook pasta. For gluten free pasta, use lots of water in a large pot. And stir frequently to prevent it from sticking together.

Empty contents of sauce into a medium saucepan. Add artichoke hearts, spinach and tomatoes and stir to combine. (You can add the spinach still frozen like I did.) Add broth as needed to thin slightly.  Add beans and just cook till beans are heated through.

Drain pasta. Place in serving bowls and stir in some sauce. * Top with olives and basil. Enjoy!

Notes:

* My favorite pasta is Trader Joe’s brand, which is the same as Tinkyada pasta.

* I have been eating a bit of meat or fish here or there to bump up my perennially low B-12 levels. I added some cooked (frozen) shrimp to mine.

* Keep leftover cooked pasta and sauce separate. Reheat pasta in a covered bowl with a teaspoon or two of water in the microwave. Reheat sauce separately and then combine as desired.

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I love pesto. But my husband does not. So it is one of those things I make for myself, and I only make him eat it occasionally. This summer I have been keeping a small bowl of traditional basil pesto in the frig and I have been enjoying it smeared on toasted Udi’s or Canyon Bakehouse bread with a slice of fresh mozzarella and a slice or two of tomato. So delicious.

I had made some basil pesto earlier this week because my basil plants needed trimming and when I was digging around for something for lunch today, I found some leftover brown rice penne.  So I lightly heated up the pasta (add a bit of water and put a lid loosely on it – I’ve found that it helps to reheat leftover gluten free pasta slightly, even if eating it cold or room temperature) and stirred in a big spoonful of pesto. Then I sliced up some cherry tomatoes and added a few little chunks of fresh mozzarella, salt and fresh ground pepper. What a delicious lunch!

But I have also been known to make other types of pesto. A while back I made sun-dried tomato and spinach pesto. And when I saw Linda’s Pesto Challenge over at The Gluten Free Homemaker, I knew I needed to post this recipe since it has been languishing in my “future posts” folder for about six weeks now. I initially made this back when I was still harvesting a lot of spinach. No spinach growing right now, but it is almost time to plant spinach for a fall harvest.

Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Pesto and Pasta

Inspired by all, but an original recipe by Renee

1 pound bag of brown rice penne *

3 cups fresh spinach, divided

4 oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

3 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

olive oil

1-15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1-15 oz. can artichoke hearts in water, drained and coarsely chopped *

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Cook pasta according to directions. If you are making gluten free pasta, be sure to use a lot of water, more than you would for regular pasta. And be sure to stir the pasta frequently when you begin cooking it as it can clump together easily. Drain pasta. (Drain pasta into a colander with the remaining spinach in it if you prefer your spinach to be wilted.)

In a food processor, combine 1 cup of spinach leaves, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse it while slowly adding enough olive oil until it is of a pesto consistency. Taste and adjust according to your preference.

Stir pesto into warm pasta and remaining 2 cups of spinach leaves. Add chickpeas and artichoke hearts and top with crumbled goat cheese. Easy, delicious and nutritious!

Notes:

* My preferred gluten free pasta is Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta. For this dish I used the penne but you could use any shape. My other favorite pasta is Tinkyada, which may be the same as Trader Joe’s pasta, just under a different label.

* I prefer the artichoke hearts that are canned in water, not oil. I typically find them at Trader Joe’s. And depending on what I am making with them, I will buy the water or oil.

**This post is linked to The Gluten Free Homemaker’s Pesto Challenge on Gluten Free Wednesdays and Simply Sugar and Gluten Free’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.** And be sure to check out past Gluten Free Wednesday pesto posts here.

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Every time I make this meal, my husband comments that it “smells like Thanksgiving”, essentially because of the liberal use of sage. This is a family favorite that I have been making for years. I wasn’t sure where I found the original recipe but when I did a Google search I found a very similar recipe at Epicurious. The meat-eaters out there may enjoy that version although my meatless version is quite hearty and delicious too. We serve ours over Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Penne. I think this would also go well over polenta.

White Beans in Tomato Sauce with Sage

Adapted from Epicurious

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cups chopped carrot

2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 tsp sage

2 – 15 oz cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup vegetable broth or water

Cooked pasta, 3/4 – 1 pound

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Add the carrots, onions and celery and saute for about 10 minutes, until they are beginning to soften. Stir in the garlic and sage. Cook for about 30 seconds. Add the beans, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta.

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If you haven’t checked out Tasty Kitchen, I would highly recommend it. It is a project of Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman. Lots of goodies and plenty of inspiration over there. And you can also post your own recipes too, if you’re so inclined. I saw the following recipe and although I have another recipe similar to this one (Creamy Chickpea Curry), I thought I would try this version, substituting the chicken of course. I liked the inclusion of the additional vegetables with the broccoli slaw.

It was very tasty, although, right off the bat, I began changing it up to fit our tastes and needs.

Red Curry Coconut Noodles

Adapted from nika at Tasty Kitchen

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, julienned

2 red bell peppers, julienned

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated

1-1/2 tsp red curry paste

2 – 15 oz cans light coconut milk

2 -  15 oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup packaged broccoli slaw

1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce

1 package of rice noodles, such as these

2-4 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in your largest skillet. Saute onions and peppers in oil until they are beginning to soften. Add ginger and saute another minute. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour in coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add chickpeas, broccoli slaw and chili sauce. Add rice noodles and enough broth to cover the noodles. Cook until noodles are tender. Stir in salt to taste. Serve in large bowls topped with cilantro.

Notes:

* The original version called for full fat coconut milk (2 cans!), I used the lower fat version and added a bit of olive oil for sauteing.

* I think you could omit the Thai chili sauce. The curry paste dominates the flavor and the chili sauce is lost.

* This was great as leftovers except that the broccoli slaw pieces got really hard and were not good the next day. Omit these if you plan on eating as leftovers.

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Strawberry season. Love it! And there have been a lot of great strawberry recipes posted out there in the blogosphere lately. So of course I needed to try some. Luckily this week I had two excuses to make some special sweet treats.

For our monthly gluten free group potluck meeting, I decided to make Easy Sponge Cake from Kate over at Gluten Free Gobsmacked. Now I was taking a chance, waiting until the morning before the noon meeting to make this, but I managed, with only one small mishap (and I always have a back up plan!). You never know…

I followed Kate’s recipe exactly. Well, almost exactly. Her instructions don’t say to accidentally break your sixth (of eight) egg yolk into the egg whites. Eek!! As you may know, if you have slightest bit of yolk in your whites, they won’t whip. Unfortunately I only had nine eggs. And now six were contaminated. So I ran to the store at 10am for more eggs. And I hate buying eggs you see, because we have our own hens! But I had saved back these eggs knowing I was going to use them because we sell our extra eggs to friends. I should have had a back-up plan because unfortunately, hens do not lay on-demand.

Standing in front of the eggs at the store, I thought about only buying six eggs, since that was all I needed, but I was afraid I would screw it up again. So I bought a full dozen. But then in the two minutes driving home, I realized I could make things easier on myself.

So, I got the new eggs and sat them in a bowl of lukewarm water in order to bring them to room temp, fast. Then I pulled out another measuring cup and one-by-one, I broke my whites into the measuring cup and one-by-one, I put the white into the bigger mixing bowl. Just in case. And it worked. No more mishaps. Lesson learned. But now I have a lot of extra eggs.

Kate’s recipe was super easy, just like she says. I used my largest jelly roll pan and it was almost too much for the pan. And I should have let it cool longer - but I was on a deadline! It probably would have come off the parchment paper better if I could have waited longer. And the cake smelled wonderful while baking – all those yummy extracts were great!

I also chose to roll mine from the long side, as Kate suggests. I can’t imagine rolling it the other way – it would have been a huge roll! I filled mine with lightly macerated strawberries and whipped cream.

As I said, the roll was quite large, more than 3 inches in diameter. It was almost too large to cut – you’ll need your long bread knife. And I had to cut it in half in order to fit it on the largest platter I have – you’ll just have to excuse its tiki theme.

I think next time I may make half a recipe and try to get the cake slightly thinner so that it rolls more easily. And has more room for a filling.

So, in the end, I made it to the meeting on time and with a lovely dessert in hand. Of course it was gone instantly! Luckily for my husband, I left a slice at home for him before I left. (It’s the picture on top here.) He agreed, delicious! I WILL be making this again!

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Another great, light summer salad. When I made this recently I asked my husband if this pasta salad reminded him of anything. Nope. For me it has memories of an old apartment back in Chicago where we would sit on our back deck in the summer evenings to eat dinner and to try to catch a breeze as the apartment did not have air conditioning. We had a couple of window air conditioning units but we preferred to be outside. The deck faced north and stayed pretty cool, plus there was a nice little garden below us and squirrels across the way to entertain us. We spent many evenings on this deck. And for some reason I have vivid memories of eating this salad on that deck. Perhaps we ate it a lot in those two years that we lived there? I don’t know, but it’s a great dish to add to your repertoire.

Spicy Ginger Noodles

Adapted from Vegetarian Times magazine

1 pound of pasta *

1 large cucumber, partially peeled, seeded and sliced

carrots, sliced, in an equal amount as cucumber

2-4 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup cilantro

Dressing:

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce *

1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp chili oil*

2 cloves garlic

1″ chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain and cool. Chop vegetables and place in bowl. Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into cooled pasta and vegetables.

Notes:

* We prefer Tinkyada brown rice pasta or Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta (I think they are the same product actually, just repackaged for TJ’s). I use either the spirals or penne and, in a pinch, the spaghetti. Just be sure to use lots of water to cook the gluten free pasta and don’t overcook or it will turn to mush!

* Be sure the soy sauce is gluten free if you are cooking gluten free.

* You can probably omit the chili oil if you can’t find it. I can usually find it in the Asian food section of the large grocery stores. One bottle lasts a long time as you only need a little bit each time.

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This is another of our tried and true recipes; the recipe card is well splattered. It also garnered a “very good” written on the top of the card. I am not sure where I originally found this recipe as I wrote it on a 3×5 card and did not note the source. I searched the internet for the same recipe and only found a few similar recipes but none that matched this exactly. The original recipe calls for more curry paste and fewer chickpeas than what I use. Below is my adaptation of this tasty recipe. We like to serve this over white basmati rice.

Creamy Chickpea Curry

1 Tbsp oil

2 tsp red curry paste *

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic. minced

1 – 14 oz can lite coconut milk *

1 Tbsp soy sauce *

1-2 Tbsp sugar

2 – 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1-2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved)

1 cup fresh basil, torn

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add curry paste and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add onion and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more. Shake the can of coconut milk and pour into pan. Add soy sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the sugar, chickpeas and tomatoes. Heat until it is simmering once more. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Serve over rice.

Notes:

* Red curry paste can be found in small jars in the Asian section of a large supermarket. I use Thai Kitchen brand. Two teaspoons makes us sweat, but comfortably so. If you don’t like things too spicy, start with 1 teaspoon the first time.

* I prefer to use lite coconut milk when cooking and I can’t tell a difference in flavor.

* Use a gluten free soy sauce if you are cooking gluten free. LaChoy and San-J Wheat Free Tamari are both gluten free.

This recipe was a part of Meal Plan Monday, check it out for more ideas.

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This is a simple, quick, go-to recipe of ours. Be sure to turn on the rice cooker before you start chopping up the onions and peppers. You can dice the onions and peppers as finely as you wish but I like them chopped fairly coarse, like a 1/2″ chop. This is a good dish to use up bell peppers that have been sitting a little too long in the refrigerator and it uses some basic pantry staples that I try to keep around in case I need something quick. Tonight I served it with a simple tossed salad with lettuce from the garden and homemade Italian salad dressing – the recipe in the good old, red and white Betty Crocker classic cookbook.


Red Beans and Rice

1 tbsp oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1-8 oz. can tomato sauce (no salt added if you can find it)

1/2 – 1 cup water

hot sauce to taste

2-15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Cooked rice – we prefer white rice with this meal

Sour cream

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, garlic and peppers. Cook until the onions are getting soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and paprika and cook for about 30 seconds. Add in beans and tomato sauce. Stir in enough water to make the sauce liquid enough to simmer the beans in; start with about a half cup. Add the hot sauce (if desired) and simmer about 10 minutes. Serve over rice with a dollop of sour cream.

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Curried Tofu

This is a good starter recipe. The first time I made this recipe I modified it, which is unusual for me. You can check out the original recipe here. I think I change it slightly each time I make it. My modifications are included below. If you aren’t a fan of tofu, I am sure chicken would work just fine.

Curried Tofu

Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

2 tsp oil

1 pound extra-firm tofu *

1/2 tsp salt

1 medium onion, sliced

1 cup carrots, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 tsp curry powder *

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

1 can light coconut milk *

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

1 – 15 oz can pineapple chunks, drained

1/2 cup fresh basil, torn

Cut tofu into 8 slabs and press between the layers of a clean kitchen towel. Place a heavy pan on top and allow to sit for about 10 minutes, the longer the better. Prepare vegetables while tofu is draining. Cut each slab into 4 pieces.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add tofu and sprinkle with salt. Cook about 5 minutes and then flip over and cook for about 5 minutes, or until it is slightly browned on the edges. Remove from pan.

Add onions to skillet. Saute for about 5 minutes or until they are beginning to soften. Add carrots and bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes. Stir in curry powder and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk. Add peas and pineapple. Gently stir in tofu. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Top with basil and serve with rice.

Notes:

* Extra firm, water-packed tofu is best for stir-frying. You can find it at most large grocery stores.

* I used a different curry powder this time, some Turkish curry powder that my mother-in-law brought me back from a trip. It is getting old and needs to be used. It wasn’t the best flavor for this dish. Next time I will go back to my regular old Spice Island curry powder for this one.

* I prefer to use light coconut milk when I cook. Trader Joe’s has a house brand that works for me.

* The original recipe does not call for onions or green peas but I like them both a lot so I add some every time. I am not a huge fan of the pineapple but yet add it every time. Next time I think I will try to remember to make it without.

* I also used a whole can of coconut milk instead of just 1/3 cup. I wanted to be able to simmer the vegetables in the sauce a bit and 1/3 cup just isn’t enough.

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