Monday, March 31, 2008

Italian Polenta Skillet Pie

Last night was cold and a bit snowy/rainy, so naturally we felt like snuggling up with some comfort food. We have a good amount of veggies hanging around, so we decided to go Italian pot pie style. I named it a skillet pie for obvious reasons...we have a cast iron skillet, but no pot. Cast iron feels a little more rustic to me, and helps with the whole comfort food feel.

Italian Polenta Skillet Pie

2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cups medium diced Zucchini
2 Cups medium diced Eggplant
3 Cups thick sliced Bell Pepper; red, yellow, green
1 small Onion, sliced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Parsley
1 tsp. Thyme
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Red Chili Flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Cups Water
1 Cup Corn Meal
3 Tbsp. freshly shredded Parmesan Cheese
Lightly copped fresh Rosemary

3 Tbsp Butter
2 Cups Veggie Stock, Chicken Stock or Water
1 Tbsp Corn Starch or any thickener you want

Preheat oven to 350 f. In skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add veggies and saute until tender. Add seasonings, turn heat down to medium low and let cook down, stirring occasionally.

In a separate pot, boil water and add corn meal. Whisk constantly over medium low to medium heat until thick, about 5 minutes. Add cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper.

In another pot, melt butter and add most of the stock, reserving about 1/3 Cup and bring to a low boil. Whisk the corn starch and reserved cold stock together and add into the boiling stock/butter mixture. Add salt and pepper. Whisk until thickened, this should take less than a minute.

Pour sauce into the skillet over the veggies. Add some more butter for good measure ;) Spread the polenta over the top of the veggies, making sure to seal the edges completely.

Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the top starts to crisp and turn golden. Once out of the oven, sprinkle shredded parmesan, rosemary, salt and pepper over the top.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

This recipe is inspired by The Good Eatah's Almond Banana Cookies. I didn't have any almond butter available, so I used natural peanut butter. I also added chocolate chips and substitted agave nectar for the brown sugar. This has become my favorite cookie recipe-it is quick to make and sooo delicious :)

I brought these to the Pinewood Derby as a refeshment (since I am a Cub Scout leader), and they were the hit of the party...nobody could believe that they were GF!

Thanks again to The Good Eatah, I hope you don't mind me posting this :)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

1 Cup Natural Peanut Butter (smooth or chunky)
4 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1 Egg, beaten
1 Banana
1 Tsp Baking Soda
Dash of Salt
1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven tp 350 F. In a mixing bowl, combine first 6 ingredients, mix well. Mix in chocolate chips gently. Spoon batter onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet, spacing them far enough apart to allow for spreading. Flatten each cookie a little and bake for 8-10 minutes.

*Cooks note--The 1st time I made this, I used a super ripe, black banana and it made for a very loose batter. They turned out great. The 2nd time I made them, I used a yellow banana and the batter was much tighter. They still turned out great. Either way, they are delicious, but I don't want you to freak if your batter turnes out loose. They will still be awesome :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thai Peanut Pasta

This has evolved into Mark's favorite dish. There are a hundred different ways to alter this recipe to your liking...go nuts!

Thai Peanut Pasta

1 box Quinoa pasta, pagoda style (with little ridges)
1 1/2 C Natural Peanut Butter, creamy or chunky-whatever floats your boat
1 tbsp Canola Oil
1 C Broccoli
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 small Onion, diced small
2 C Chicken Stock
1 tbsp GF Worcestershire (walmart has some)
1 tbsp GF Tamari/Soy Sauce
2 tsp Sesame Oil
pinch of Chili Flakes
3 Shredded Carrots
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil a big pot of water, add the noodles and cook according to package directions. Sweat onion and garlic in the canola oil in a medium to large saucepan. Add chicken stock, peanut butter, worcestershire, tamari and sesame oil and whisk until combined...this may take a minute. Add a bit more peanut butter if the ingredients just won't combine. Let that sit on low and stir occasionally. Add chopped broccoli to the sauce and heat through. Add salt and pepper. If your sauce is thicker than you like, whisk in more stock.

Toss pasta and sauce together, garnish with a heaping portion of shredded carrots and a pinch of chili flakes.

A lot of times, we add cubed chicken and any extra veggies we can find. Homemade mango salsa totally rocks as a garnish as well. Also, we usually use thick cut rice noodles (A Taste of Thai brand), which are a bit more authentic, but Quinoa pasta has major protein :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Strawberry Pavlova

I created this luscious little ditty on a whim. We had guests coming, and I hadn't prepared like I was supposed to. I had some leftover meringue cookies and strawberries around, so naturally I thought of a Pavlova. Alas, no whipped cream to complete this classic dessert, so I used yogurt. It turned out delightful, and no one was the wiser!

Strawberry Pavlova

1 pint yogurt (vanilla, plain, strawberry...whatever you like)
2 Cups Strawberries, Sliced and macerated in sugar

About 35-40 Meringue Cookies (I happened to have some from the store, please don't slap my hand!)

If you would like to make your own meringues, please see the recipe below.

For the strawberries, sprinkle a good handful of sugar over them, gently coat all of the slices using a spoon and let sit for about 20 minutes until good and syrupy. Then simply pour the yogurt into the bottom of a decorative serving dish, top with the meringues, leaving a 'hole' in the center, and pile high as many berries as you can fit into the center. If you have some around, you are welcome to garnish it with some mint if you please. Also, some lemon zest would be lovely sprinkled on top.

This also works very nicely as individual desserts. Just make it as above, but in a fancy glass- say a martini glass.

Meringue Cookies
2 egg whites
1/2 C. white sugar
Splash of vanilla

Preheat oven to 200 f.
Using a whisk attachment, whip all ingredients until meringue reaches stiff peak. Pipe using a star tip onto a parchment lined tray and bake for an hour. Turn off oven and let cookies sit in oven for another 45 min to 1 hr. When the cookies are firm and crispy, they are ready to go!! Sometimes they will take longer to bake depending on the weather.

Cooks note: If it is humid outside, you will not be as successful in making meringues. Meringues like dry climates. Make these on a warm, dry day! Also try dipping them in decadent!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Apple Currant Cobbler with Sweetened Coconut Foam

I figured I would post the recipe I made up which Mark and I had for brunch on Saturday. Nothing like cancelling out your workout right after you get home from it! :)

I start by making the topping and letting it simmer while I make the dough and par bake it. Once plated up, it would be equally as good with ice cream or whipped cream. I happened to have some leftover coconut cream in my fridge which I just foamed up with a bit of sugar and a hand mixer. I then drizzled it over each plate. Oh, and if you like toasted nuts, those would be really nice in this too. Just mix them in with the topping.

The biscuit recipe was adapted from Gluten Free Kitchen by Roben Ryberg.

Apple Currant Cobbler with Sweetened Coconut Foam

1/3 C COLD Butter, cubed
1/2 C Potato Starch
3/4 C Cornstarch
1 3/4 tsp Xanthan Gum (GF binder-found at health food stores)
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
2 tbsp Sugar
3/4 C Milk
1/2 tsp Salt
Preheat oven to 375. In medium bowl, blend all ingredients. Mix very well to remove any lumps. Remember, there is no gluten, so you don't need to worry about over mixing. They cannot get tough. Dough will be quite soft and sticky.
Spray nonstick spray in desired baking dish. I used a decorative deep pie dish. Transfer dough into baking dish, spreading out as best you can. It is meant to look rustic, so no need to be perfect. Par bake in oven for about 5-8 minutes. Just long enough to set the dough a bit and create a very thin crust.

4 tbsp Butter
1/2 c. Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Cinnamon (adjust if you like...go with what tastes good)
pinch of Nutmeg
pinch of Ginger
pinch of Salt
3 medium Apples, cored and sliced. Peel them if you like.
handful of Dried Currants
handful of GF Oats

In a medium/large sauce pan, let the butter and sugar melt together. Add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer while preparing the biscuit dough. You are welcome to add more butter or sugar if you want it more syrupy.

Once dough is par baked, pour the topping over the biscuit, covering the top evenly. Bake again for 10-12 minutes. You will know when to pull it out-it should smell really nice, and some of the apples will begin to brown.

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