Mix It Up Monday: Baked Lemon Pasta With Chicken and Pastamore’s Lemon Garlic Orzo

One of my great pleasures as a food blogger is the opportunity to try products that I otherwise would never have access to.  A while back I was offered the chance to try out some of Pastamore’s gourmet gluten free pasta line from J.D. Gourmet.  I got three (so there will be more recipes to come) but straight out of the box I KNEW I had to try the lemon garlic orzo in Pioneer Woman’s Baked Lemon Pasta.  The only changes I made to her recipe was to half it, use light sour cream, and add in some rotisserie chicken for Mr. Carnivore.  And of course using this gluten free orzo instead of the spaghetti.

The pasta itself has a lovely flavor, though not quite enough on its own to enjoy with just a touch of olive oil, IMO.  It paired beautifully with the lemon and garlic in this cream sauce.  The texture was properly pasta-like and did not become overly gelatinous on sitting (we had half for leftovers) as so many gluten free pastas do.  Overall, I was very impressed with the quality of this product!  Thank you J.D. Gourmet for this opportunity.   I’ll be writing about the tomato basil fettucini and the wild mushroom linguini as I try them.

Healthier Spaghetti Carbonara

I love carbonara.  It is, hands down, my very favorite pasta.  The true traditional carbonara is straight up bacon and eggs and pecorino with the yolk making this lovely creamy, velvety sauce.  What you see in restaurants is usually all of these things and loaded with cream to boot.  Decadent and HORRIBLE for you.  So I’m always interested in people’s interpretations for lightening it up.  I tried out this recipe from Amateurs with Knives  with a few modifications: gluten free spaghetti, fat free half and half instead of evaporated skim milk, 4 strips of bacon instead of 2 strips plus 2 ounces of Canadian bacon, and I added in some mushrooms and peas for some veggie content.

The verdict: The overall flavor was good, but it absolutely does not serve 6 as a main course.  I’d set it at serving 4 and then hubby and I were still hungry and split a serving.  I think I’d like to try this again with some grilled chicken added.  It wouldn’t constitute low cal, but certainly healthier than the restaurant version.

Healthier Spaghetti Carbonara

Mix It Up Monday: Spicy Kale Chips

I’ve been hearing about kale the last couple of years as some kind of nutritional power house.  But it’s a green and other than basic spinach, I’m not really a fan of greens.  Given I’m southern, this probably breaks a law somewhere, but whatever.  Sometime earlier this year, I saw kale chips mentioned on one of my Food Network programs and I thought, “Huh.  Weird.”  Because who ever heard of making chips out of something green?   Then I kept hearing about them in one form or another, so I determined that I should try them.  I prowled around the interwebs and came across this recipe for spicy kale chips from White on Rice Couple and gave it a go.

All I can say is…WOW.  With the sea salt, these shockingly actually tasted like potato chips, and I loved the spicy kick from the red pepper flakes.  I inhaled an entire pan’s worth (approximately half a bunch of kale) in one sitting.  They were light, satisfying, and so surprising.  I saved one for hubby to try when he got home.  He wouldn’t touch it, so I popped it into my mouth and learned that these do not fair well too far from the oven.  The bitter really came out after it had been sitting a while.  But straight out after a 14 minute bake they were wonderful.  Cook’s Note: I used my Misto so that they weren’t soggy from the olive oil.

spicy kale chips

Mix It Up Monday: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos

In the name of healthy, I’ve been trying out a lot more vegetarian recipes the last few months.  Perhaps my FAVORITE that I stumbled across is this recipe for black bean and sweet potato burritos from One Lovely Life.  The flavor of these is out of this world and they’re SO SIMPLE.  You can make a big batch of the filling to keep in the fridge for fast work week lunches.  Or breakfast.  Anything goes.  Half the time I leave out the black beans entire and add extra onions.  I just LOVE the combination of sweet potato with taco seasoning.  It’s marvelous.  It is, naturally, great with cheese and sour cream, but it’s equally good with nothing at all, just wrapped in your favorite tortilla.  This is a fast, budget and calorie friendly meal to take into the new year.

Mix It Up Monday: Cook’s Country Chicken Riggies

I got this recipe in my inbox from my Cook’s Country newsletter.  I liked the idea of it and have had it on my To Try list for quite a while.  This was delayed somewhat by my not being able to find cherry peppers (which I hadn’t even heard of).  Ultimately found some at Kroger and gave this a whirl.  I made a few substitutions–changing out the chicken breasts for chicken thighs, using roasted red peppers instead of raw red peppers, using gluten free pasta, and swapping fat free half and half for the cream.  The end result made a TON–I’d say 6 servings.

Hubs and I were both kind of meh on it.  Me because I discovered I do NOT like kalamata olives AT ALL.  Hubs…well sometimes I’m not sure what he doesn’t like about stuff.   Either way, it won’t be going on our rotation.  I did at least discover I like cherry peppers!

Mix It Up Monday: Greek Yogurt Hash Brown Casserole

I am a southerner, so I have a deep and abiding love of hash brown casserole.  The original is loaded with fat and cheese and cream of mushroom soup and it’s delicious.  But not gluten free and definitely NOT healthy.  So when I came across this recipe from The Spotted Lamb, I knew I had to try it.  I made a few changes from the original.  I used fat free Greek yogurt, swapped the chicken stock and milk for 1 cup of evaporated milk (not skim!), added 2 diced onions, and omitted the Italian seasoning (as I was making this for breakfast and it just didn’t seem to fit).  The end result came out to 6 servings for 255 calories, which is a darn sight better for you than regular hash brown casserole.  I used fiesta blend cheese, but I think it would be AWESOME with smoked gouda.  Definitely a keeper recipe.

Mix It Up Monday: White Pizza Grilled Cheese

I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and immediately knew I HAD to try it.  Because, seriously, it combines two of my favorite foods–white pizza and grilled cheese.  What’s not to love?  It’s a Cheese Lover’s Dream.   I opted to make these Friday night for our girls’ weekend.  Mine didn’t turn out as pretty as the original, probably because the internet had gone out and I misremembered quantities and ended up putting 4-6 sandwiches worth of filling onto 2…  But dear GOD it was good.  Decadent and rich.  We balanced out the rich with some baked eggplant fries (coming soon).  I made a few small changes to the original recipe, swapping out for part skim ricotta and using whole wheat bread.  Otherwise…yeah.  Delicious.   I definitely will have to make this again with the CORRECT portions and some gluten free bread so hubby can try it.

Mix It Up Monday: Gluten Free Potstickers and Baked Pork Rice Paper Rolls

One of the things we missed the most when we switched to gluten free life is Chinese dumplings or potstickers.  The ones we love are absolutely a labor OF love, backbreaking and time consuming and SO WORTH IT.  Given the easy tearing nature of gluten free dough, I thought that they were out of our reach.  Then I found The Gloriously Gluten Free Cookbook, which I bought expressly because there was a recipe for potstickers listed in the index (pg. 114).  It’s taken me months to get around to trying it.

I had a few issues with this recipe.  For one, it calls for SIX EGGS in only 24 dumpling wrappers.  That’s ludicrous.  I found the dough incredibly difficult to roll out, and of course it didn’t really stretch.  Once I finally got the dumplings wrapped (and I used my original filling from the recipe linked above), which only used half the filling btw, I followed the cookbook’s advice for how to cook them.  Promptly burned the entire first batch (about half the dumplings).  Went back to cooking them the way that I cooked my regular dumplings and those turned out better.  The wrappers themselves were a little bit gummy and thick, not unpalatable but not at all what I associate with dumplings.

I’m thinking I’ll be continuing the hunt for a viable gluten free dumpling wrapper, but this was enough to give me hope that it CAN BE DONE!

 

Now, as I said, I had the other half of the filling remaining to do SOMETHING with.  So for lunch the next day, I chopped another 3 scallions, finely diced another 3 leaves and stalks of bok choy, added another teaspoon of tamari and a 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, and sauteed the pork until cooked through.  Then I pulled out the package of rice paper wrappers I bought FOREVER ago and forgot about, soaked them according to package directions and filled each one with 1/3 cup of filling and rolled them.  I brushed them all with oil and baked them at 425 for 20 minutes.  They were quite tasty as a gluten free alternative to egg rolls, though definitely flimsier.  They kind of fell apart when we ate them, but it was still a tasty and simple use for the remaining filling.

 

Mix It Up Monday: Sausage, Pepper, and Cannellini Bean Stew

I decided to make an effort to start incorporating a few meals a week that are not carb heavy.  This is a challenge for my meat and potatoes self.  I have a hard time thinking of meals that don’t include pasta, rice, potatoes, or a bread, so I turned to Kalyn’s Kitchen, where I always found fabulous options for South Beach friendly meals back when I was trying that.  This stew was filling and totally delicious (although hubs said it would be better with a grilled cheese, as that is a legal requirement for soup).  I didn’t bother calculating the nutrition info, but it uses turkey sausage and a metric ton of veggies, so it can’t be bad.  Serves 4.

Mix It Up Monday: Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

When you go gluten free, of course the biggest thing you crave are all the things you aren’t supposed to have.  That includes good sandwich bread.  We’ve tried a handful of recipes with varying degrees of success.  Most were okay for regular sandwiches, but were epic epic fail for grilled cheeses (which, IMO, constitute their own food group as a go to meal).  So I’ve been on a bit of a crusade.  And this weekend, at long long last, after an endless and arduous (okay, not really) two year search, I had the good sense to try the sandwich bread from The Art of Gluten Free Baking.  Jeanne is fabulous and so is this bread.  See this?  THIS is a perfect, roasty toasty, ooey gooey grilled cheese.  Yes, I know, it looks like a waffle.  Because I make my grilled cheeses on the waffle iron (it’s how my granddaddy did it for me as a kid).  You should try it some time.  Faster and no flipping required.

ALL HAIL JEANNE!

NOM!

 

The only change that I made was to use water for the milk and add the requisite amount of powdered milk to the recipe.  Oh, and I added an extra 5 minutes bake time because the first time I made this, the middle was still a little doughy.  That’s it.  FABULOUS.  Highly recommended.