Monday, February 24, 2014

‘Macaroni and Cheese’

Things aren't always what they seem, and in gluten free cooking or baking, often times you need to be a bit inventive with your ingredients and use them thoughtfully. What I have found is that often times, after recreating a recipe it ends up more nutritious and just as tasty as the original. You see, it’s easy to make something taste good, the recipe for that is simple, add butter, sugar, and salt. These are the ingredients we crave as humans because they are quick and easy calories. We have evolved to crave these. The trick is to re-make a recipe without these ingredients and have it taste just as good. Yep, it’s possible, and I can’t think of a better recipe to healthi-fy and gluten-free-ize than a good old fashion bowl of homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Oh yes I did.

The really need thing about this recipe is that it not only is healthy and gluten free, but it is also vegan. Ta-da! It’s like magic. You just have to taste this recipe for yourself.
I'm don't usually like outright deceiving people, If you ask I will always let you know what ingredients make up a recipe, but I didn't come right out and say what this all was made of before my family tasted this 'macaroni and cheese'. Let me just say, it looks and smells divine so there isn't much of any convincing to taste going on. It is a "Grown-up" version of macaroni and cheese with more complex flavors than the blue cardboard box version you make while babysitting.
Here is a recipe that I myself, don’t think I will ever mess with. I think it is perfect the way it is, and I would be happy to eat it just the same again. This recipe makes a lot, and it’s really beefed up with all of the vegetables. It makes for a satisfying main dish, and leftovers that you can look forward to!

Yield: 6 servings.

1 box of quinoa pasta
1 head cauliflower, steamed and pureed.
2 cups veggie cheese*
1 carton of mushrooms, any kind you like
½ onion, diced
1-2 leeks, washed and sliced
A handful or two of torn kale or spinach
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

*I used a variety of Vegan veggie cheese that I bought pre-shredded at the supermarket. I found it in bags that were on display by hanging by organic cold items. If you are not vegan/vegetarian an want to use regular cheese of your choice, by all-means, feel free! Sometimes I have fun making dishes vegan and gluten free, just because of the challenge.

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil, adding a pinch of salt to the water. Once boiling, add quinoa pasta noodles until al dente. Watch the noodles closely, if you have ever cooked with G-free noodles before, you know how quickly these cook. Follow the cooking time provided on the packet. Strain the noodles out and set aside, being sure to save some of the past water to use later in the recipe.
Cut the whole head of cauliflower into florets and steam them. Once cooled a bit, puree in a blender. Depending on the size of your blender you may have to puree the florets in batches. If you needed, add some pasta water to help puree. Store the puree in a large bowl until later.
Mix the ‘cheese’ into the cauliflower puree.
Heat a large skillet with the olive oil. Add the onions and leeks. Allow these to cook a few minutes before adding the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and allow these to cook down until the onions are slightly caramelized and golden. Once cooked, add the cooked noodles and kale or spinach. When the greens are cooked down, stir in the cheese and cauliflower puree until combined and thoroughly warmed.
Taste and Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve in the skillet or you can transfer to a large serving bowl.

Have you made macaroni and cheese from scratch? What is your favorite pasta to use? I liked these little shells, mostly because all of the melted cheese and mushrooms fill them and you get plenty of flavor in every bite!



Monday, February 17, 2014

Is It A Smoothie Without A Blender?

Did you ever want a smoothie, and not have a blender available?
This is a problem.
By definition you need a blender in order to acquire a smoothie, I checked...


noun Informal.
a person who has a winningly polished manner: He's such a smoothie he could charm the stripes off atiger.
a thick beverage of fruit pureed in a blender with ice and milk, yogurt, or juice.
                                                                                           copied from

I miss the blender when I'm at school. First week of summer I live off of smoothies and shakes to make up for the lack of them during the school months. But during school, I can improvise.
I've developed a smoothie-like drink that does the trick when you just need the refreshing and healthiness that is a smoothie. It consists of contraband frozen berries from the caf, and almond milk I keep in my room. I sometimes add protein powder if I'm in the mood, and maybe even a bit of sweetener. It is a quite satisfying and convenient treat, and something I will continue making, even without my beloved blender.

(please excuse the below-par photography...I'm banking on the paper hearts as a distraction) 

Blender-less Smoothie:
1 1/4 C frozen berries of choice, I use raspberries and blueberries
1/2 C almond milk
1 scoop protein powder (chocolate would be fun to try!)
1 t sweetener of choice

Put the frozen berries in a cup. Allow them to defrost a bit, until the berry juice begins to form puddles at the bottom of the cup. Pour in almond milk, add protein powder and sweetener if using. Now, with a fork, mash and stir the mixture.

Of course the berries will not be pureed like a blender. In fact  most blueberries will stay very much intact, though the raspberries tend to break apart. This is just fine by me and is kind of fun in a way. I like to eat all the blueberries first and then sip the rest of the smoothie through a straw.
The beauty of this smoothie, besides the color, is that it is very versatile. You can add however much fruit, milk, or protein powder as you want. I would even suggest using orange juice, yogurt, or even banana that has been frozen and defrosted.
It is completely customizable.

So, by definition...
this is a thick beverage,... check.
made of fruit,... check.
pureed in a blender....okay, no.
with ice, milk, yogurt, or juice;... check...well, it's made with ice-y berries, that make the milk icy-y.

So, this is 3/4 of a smoothie, I suppose. But whatever it is, It is tasty, healthy, and easy, meaning I will continue making it!
I'll be taking this to go..


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Broiled Grapefruit?

Sounds strange, tastes fantastic!
Its a great way to jazz up a simple breakfast.


There are a lot of variations out there for this tasty treat, but they pretty much are all the same, grapefruit halves sprinkled with sugar and baked in the oven until the top is caramelized. Sounds good to me! :)

Broiled Grapefruit

Yeild: 4 halves

2 grapefruits, halved
4 Tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar
sprinkle of any spice you like: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, clove
Greek yogurt

1. Preheat your oven broiler. 
2. Halve your grapefruit. You can make a base oh your grapefruit so they don't roll around on a baking sheet by slicing off part of the bottom peel around the stem of the fruit.
3. In a bowl, combine sugar and spices.
4. Place the grapefruit halves face-up on a rimmed baking sheet.
5. Sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon of sugar and spice on each fruit half.
6. Broil 7-10 minutes, until the sugar has melted and turned a little golden.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving plain or with yogurt, honey, and granola.

Look how lovely and pink! Just makes for a happy morning!

I enjoyed these with some Greek yogurt and granola.

Mmmm, enjoyed until the very last drop!

I think this recipe is the epitome of sugar and spice and everything nice.
And look! It's perfectly pink, just in time for Valentine's Day!

Cheers,     Suzy

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Blueberry Strawberry Banana Baked Oatmeal!

Another lovely combination of Oats and Berries!
It just never gets old.

I found a a really good looking recipe for baked oatmeal from Annie Eats, and changed the procedure quite a bit to match more of that found on Deliciously Ella. I really like the idea of soaking the oats before cooking them, so that they have time to absorb some of the liquid. I also added some strawberries and mashed one of the bananas before stirring it into the mixture.
This has such a pretty presentation, and was lovely to have for breakfast with family.
I served it with Greek yogurt and extra cut-up fruit. Yummm!

Blueberry, Strawberry, Banana Baked Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
½ tsp. baking powder
2 T. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¼ cup maple syrup or honey
1/2  cup skim milk or almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, one mashed, the other thinly sliced
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen), divided
1 cup strawberries, halved
handful of walnut pieces, optional
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. 
In a bowl, combine the rolled oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Stir to combine. Combine the maple syrup, milk, water, egg, vanilla, and the single mashed banana. Mix the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients and let sit for a few minutes while you gather the remaining toppings and add-ins. Mix in half of the blueberries, and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the nuts, strawberries, remaining sliced banana and blueberries over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the berries on top have cooked, the oats are golden and set. 
I served this immediately, nice and steamy! The Greek yogurt helped to cool it down quicker.
It was like eating an inverted fruit crisp, lovely.