September 20, 2014

Pork Carnitas

This is an incredible easy meal, and it is soooo delicious. I'm not a really a lover of pork, but I eat this stuff right out of the pan. It's that good. It is so tender and juicy and the crispy edges are divine.  It pairs nicely with coconut rice or Cafe Rio style rice and black beans.

Get creative with this one! You can roll it up burrito style, serve it over tortilla chips and top with cheese, green onions, olives, lettuce and salsa for nachos. Or pile it on a bed of lettuce with your favorite toppings and some cilantro ranch dressing (my favorite option for sure!)  It's one of my favorite meals for those crazy days we all have because it's a comfort food and it's also quick and easy to serve.

PORK CARNITAS
*gluten free *soy free *dairy free
Pantry to Table in: 8-10 hours
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients:
2 lb. boneless pork roast
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth (I used reduced sodium)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Instructions:
  1. Place pork roast in crock pot.
  2. Pour chicken broth over the roast and sprinkle with pepper.
  3. Cook on low at least 6 hours. 8-10 is preferable as your roast will be more tender.
  4. If you have time, shred the pork 1-2 hours before serving, add cilantro, and continue to cook on low.
  5. 15 minutes before serving, drain the shredded pork and spread it out in a 9x13" metal baking pan, or on a cookie sheet. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up! The meat shouldn't be piled higher than 2 inches for even browning.
  6. Move your oven rack to a high position that is just under the heating element. Broil on high 5-10 minutes, until the pork on top begins to get crispy. Watch it very carefully so as not to burn it or dry it out. 
  7. Remove from the oven and serve on tortillas, lettuce, or tortilla chips!

September 14, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake


Pumpkin Pie Dump Cake.
If you haven't eaten a dump cake, or (heaven forbid) heard of a dump cake, you've really missed out in life. But no worries, I've got you covered. Gluten Free style.
I've been eyeing this lovely version I spotted on The Country Cook for a while now, and decided to give it a test run last night. The trickiest part was the cake mix.

Confession: I'm much too cheap to buy a boxed gluten free cake mix.

I've always just made my own from scratch and they've turned out amazing (Click here, here, or here for the recipes). But a dump cake must have a cake mix. I searched the web and decided to use a modified version of a home made cake mix recipe over at The Gluten-Free Home Maker.

Below is the combined effort of these two recipes, with a gluten free makeover. The whole family enjoyed it, but when we had more tonight after it had been in the fridge, it was even better. It is pretty rich, so we served it in smaller pieces than you would a regular cake. I also thought the topping was a bit too thick, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly.

 As an added bonus, making this recipe gave me a good excuse to buy Reddi-Whip. You know, the kind of whipped cream you can squirt right into your mouth without even using a spoon? Yeah, that stuff.

PUMPKIN PIE DUMP CAKE
*gluten free *soy free
Pantry to Table in: about 2 hours
Serves: 20
Notes:
  • You have 2 options for the spice cake mix since I haven't seen any gluten free spice cake mixes at the store. 
    1. Whisk 1/4 tsp cinnamon and scant 1/4 tsp allspice into a gluten free yellow cake mix.
    2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup gluten free flour mix, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/8 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and scant 1/4 tsp allspice. Add 1/2 tsp xanthan gum if using a flour mix that doesn't have any added.

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (Not pumpkin pie mix)
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Gluten free spice cake mix (see notes above)
1 cup butter, melted

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly.
  3. Add pumpkin puree, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk until will combined.
  4. Pour pumpkin mixture into a well greased 13x9" glass pan.
  5. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over the top.
  6. Drizzle butter evenly over cake mix. You want the butter to be touching pretty much all of the cake mix, otherwise you will have spots of dry cake mix (which obviously doesn't taste as good!), so use a spoon or ladle if you need to, to get a nice even coat.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes, The topping should be a golden brown and the pumpkin will still be a little "jiggly" as the original recipe put it, but will set as it cools. If you insert a knife in the center, it should come out with hardly any pumpkin on it. Cool for at least 1/2 hour before cutting/serving. Some people may like it warm, I personally liked it best once it had been refrigerated.





September 13, 2014

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal



Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast. I'm new to the steel cut oat craze, but we recently tried a recipe, made a few tweaks, and found we really like it. This is a good one because you can start it, finish getting ready for the day, and it's done when you're ready to eat breakfast. More stores are carrying gluten free steel cut oats, so just browse your cereal or baking aisles and you should be able to find some.
I adapted this recipe from Alton Brown at Food Network

BROWN SUGAR & CINNAMON STEEL CUT OATMEAL
thereislifeafterwheat.blogspot.com
*gluten free *soy free *can be dairy free
Pantry to Table in: 30 minutes
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
1 tsp butter (or canola oil if making dairy free)
1/2 cup gluten free steel cut oats
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk (use almond milk if making dairy free)
1 T brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:
  1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add oats and heat, stirring occasionally, until oats are lightly browned. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add water, stir, and cover.
  4. Bring to boiling, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Do not remove the lid or stir.
  5. Add milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon, replace lid, and simmer about 5 more minutes until the oatmeal is done. Steel cut oatmeal still has a bit of a crunch to it when it is done.
  6. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar if you want, add a little extra milk if you like it that way.
  7. Variations:
    • Top with berries, drizzle a little cream over the top, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
    • Replace the brown sugar and cinnamon with a little maple syrup, 
    • Omit brown sugar and cinnamon and add 1/8 tsp vanilla and 1 T white sugar after it's done cooking.
    • Reduce brown sugar to 1/2 T, top each bowl of oatmeal with sliced bananas, and drizzle with 1 tsp honey.

September 12, 2014

Swiss chard: Nature's Superfood

Talk about a food powerhouse! Swiss chard is amazingly good for you.

It's loaded with protein, fiber, vitamin K, antioxidants, and so much more. For a full nutritional workup, check out this Livestrong article.

Swiss chard has all other veggies beat in taste. I love this stuff! That being said, some people are hesitant to try chard, or have tried it and haven't liked it. It is somewhat similar to spinach, but it's definitely got it's own flavor and texture. There is more than one way to cook it, and if you find the way you like best, I really think you will like it, so give it another shot!

Not only that, but in my opinion, it's the most visually appealing vegetable out there-look at the beautiful color of those leaves! We tried growing some in our garden this year and it was by far the easiest and most successful plant. It only takes about a month for a seed to grow to a full-size plant, and you can plant it early in the season so you'll be harvesting all summer long.

So now that you're sold on this superfood, try one of the recipes below!

How to select swiss chard:

  • The larger the leaves, the more likely you are to get more stringy stalks. For best quality, select the bunch with smaller leaves. 
  • If you grow your own, harvest by cutting the stalks 1" above the ground with a knife or kitchen shears. You can harvest these when the leaves are only 2 or 3 inches tall and serve them in salad or toss them in smoothies. Or you can wait until the leaves are 6-10" tall and cook them.


Ideas for Preparing Swiss Chard:

  • Add to pan-fried chicken along with your other favorite veggies (squash, potatoes, corn, etc) and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  • Finely chop and saute and add to scrambled eggs.
  • Or use one of the recipes below!


SAUTEED CHARD WITH SEA SALT & PEPPER
thereislifeafterwheat.blogspot.com
*gluten free *soy free *egg free *dairy free
Pantry to Table in: 15 minutes
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
1 T olive oil
6-8 cups chopped swiss chard (any variety)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. Prepare chard by washing thoroughly. Remove stems if you want. Some people like them (me!) and some people don't. If leaving them on, cut off the very ends (where they were harvested) Chop into large sections.I just lay the leaves horizontally and slice in 2" sections.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat. If you don't have one, use the largest pan you have and adjust the recipe if needed.
  3. Add chard to pan and stir every 1-2 minutes. Do not cover. Chard will cook down a LOT. You want the leaves to get a bit crispy, but not burn. If they aren't getting crispy, turn up the heat a bit. They should cook for 6-10 minutes, depending on the size of the leaves and how big your pan is.
  4. When the chard is slightly crispy and cooked down to about 1 cup, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. You can also sprinkle a little parmesan on if that's your thing.

STEAMED CHARD WITH A SPLASH OF LEMON
thereislifeafterwheat.blogspot.com
*gluten free *soy free *egg free *dairy free
Pantry to Table in:20-30 minutes
Serves: 3
Ingredients:
8-10 cups chopped swiss chard (any variety)
Lemon juice to taste (I use about a teaspon)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. Bring water to boil in a pan with a steamer, or just a large pot.
  2. Prepare chard by washing thoroughly. Remove stems if you want. Some people like them (me!) and some people don't. If leaving them on, cut off the very ends (where they were harvested) Chop into large sections.I just lay the leaves horizontally and slice in 2" sections.
  3. Steam or boil chard, with lid on, about 20 minutes until it is very limp and soft. Drain.
  4. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir to combine.







September 8, 2014

Southwestern Relish


Looking for a little more excitement in your life? This is a very versatile side that can be the perfect addition to just about any meal, appetizer, or snack.
The possibilities are endless. Serve on hamburgers or hot dogs, as a dip for tortilla chips, on your favorite sandwich, as a veggie dip, over grilled chicken, salmon, or steak. Or, if you're like me, you can just eat it by the spoonful :) Enjoy!

SOUTHWESTERN RELISH
*gluten free *dairy free *soy free *egg free
Pantry to Table in: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped tomato
1/2 cup finely chopped avocado
2 T very finely chopped jalepeno, seeds removed, optional
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp lime juice
salt/pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients and stir gently until evenly distributed. 
  2. Yep, that's it!


September 5, 2014

Chicken Quinoa Skillet


If you haven't jumped on the quinoa train, you really need to give it a shot!

 It is packed with fiber, complete protein, and some important vitamins, and gives an earthy, rich taste to your dishes. The following is one of my stand-by recipes. You know, the "it's almost 5pm and I have no idea what I'm making for dinner" dishes. It can be thrown together pretty quick and is so easy to change up that no one will mind if you make it a few times a week. Customize it to fit your family's taste buds!
I have a couple of kids who are on a low sodium diet, and I found this little beauty that fits all of our family's dietary needs! It also happens to taste great. Yea!



CHICKEN QUINOA SKILLET
*gluten free *can be dairy free *soy free
Pantry to Table in: 20-40 minutes
Serves: 4
Notes:
  • You can use the bullion as directed, or substitute chicken broth for any amount of the water.
  • Use any combination of quinoa or rice. Just be sure all of them have the same cooking time. I used 2/3 cup quinoa, 1/3 cup plain white rice, and 1/3 cup parboiled brown rice. It was amazing.
  • Another way to switch this up is to add a few spoonfuls of sour cream or an ounce of cream cheese to the rice/quinoa once it is done, just before you plop the chicken on top.

Ingredients:
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb chicken, thawed or frozen, any cut you like. I usually use chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken breasts.
  • 1 1/3 cup quinoa or rice
  • 1 tsp or cube gluten free bullion
  • 2 2/3 cup water
  • Salt, pepper, and any other seasonings to taste
  • Vegetables, optional (mushrooms, chopped bell peppers, diced carrots, spinach, chopped onions, minced garlic, get creative!)
  • Cheese optional
  • Green onions optional

Instructions:
  1. Heat 1 T olive oil in large, deep skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add chicken, season as desired, and cover. Cook until chicken is done and almost all the liquid has evaporated. Chicken should be lightly browned on one side.
  3. Remove chicken and cover with foil.
  4. Heat 1 T oil in the same pan.
  5. Rinse quinoa if needed (Some brands come pre-rinsed)
  6. Add quinoa/rice and any veggies you want to add. Saute until quinoa/rice begins to brown. Don't burn! 
  7. Add water, bullion and any seasonings you like. I usually use pepper and some tuscan or rosemary garlic seasoning. Cover and bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until all water is absorbed. Stir and place chicken on top. Top with cheese and green onions if desired and cover until cheese is melted.




September 1, 2014

Brown Sugar Peach Ice Cream

Wondering what to do with all those beautiful peaches this time of year? Here's a delicious spin on a refreshing treat. If you haven't tried the combination of brown sugar and peaches, this is the perfect time. We usually have a bit of leftovers when it comes to ice cream, but there wasn't much left this time around. You really won't be disappointed!


BROWN SUGAR PEACH ICE CREAM
*gluten free *soy free
Pantry to Table in: 12-24 hours
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients:
2 cups half & half
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups peach puree
3/4 tsp lemon juice
Additional sliced or chopped peaches

Instructions:
  1. Prepare peach puree by peeling and pitting about 3 medium peaches. Pulse peaches in blender or food processor until you have a puree with lots of small pieces. Mix in the lemon juice to keep peaches from browning.
  2. Heat half & half  and sugars in medium saucepan over medium-low heat for a few minutes until warm and sugar is dissolved. Do not boil.
  3. Lightly beat egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk about 1/2 cup of milk mixture into yolks.
  4. Whisk egg mixture back into saucepan and heat and stir until mixture is just thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Again, do not boil. This step should only take 2-3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool in fridge or ice bath for a few minutes, then add peach puree, whisking to combine. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the mixture so it will not come in contact with air.
  6. Refrigerate overnight, or at least long enough so the mixture is cold. 
  7. Freeze in ice cream maker according to directions.
  8. Our ice cream maker makes a very soft serve, so we put our ice cream in the freezer for 30 more minutes before serving.
  9. Top with additional peaches and serve!