Sunday, May 31, 2009

Steamed Broccoli with Carrots and Parsnips

Simple simple steamed veggies. Enjoy as a side dish or splash with balsamic vinegar and stir into some fluffy white rice.

Serves 2
20 minutes
- medium pot
- veggie steamer 'basket'
- lid or some Aluminum foil to use as a lid
Quick and simple

1 large head of broccoli
2 large carrots
2 large parsnips
dash of salt and pepper
splash of balsamic vinegar

1. Wash and cut broccoli into large-ish bite size pieces; leave some of the stem on if you can. Peel and julienne both the carrots and parsnips (cut root 'sideways' into ovals about 1/4 inch thick, then slice each oval into 2 or 3 long pieces) .
2. Place steamer 'basket' into the pot. Fill pot with water until it barely brushes up against the bottom holes of the steamer. Add in broccoli florets and carrots. Cover the pot with a lid (or a piece of foil). Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Steam for 3 minutes.
3. Carefully uncover the pot (watch out for hot steam) and throw in the parsnips. Replace the lid and steam for another 2 to 3 minutes. Check on the broccoli at the 3 minute mark. If it's still too tough, then let it go a minute more-- however, don't let the veggies go mushy. If you boil away all of the water, add in some more.
4. Remove veggies from heat once crisp-tender. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lasagna Roll-Ups

More really good vegetarian things. These will impress your guests.
I tried the rolls with both cottage cheese and ricotta based filling. Both versions were excellent-- the main difference was texture (plus, I thought the cottage cheese added a little more 'cheese' taste). If you want Italian manicotti-style rolls, use the ricotta. If you want a slightly more 'American' version, use the cottage cheese.
The rolls weren't that hard to make, but it did have several steps and dirtied quite a few pans.
Based off of this recipe.

Serves 3 (around 15 rolls)
15 minute noodle prep + 35 minutes for sauce + 10 minutes for filling + 15 for assembly + 40 min for baking (almost 2 hrs total)
- large saucepan
- small saucepan
- large baking pan (cookie sheet will work) covered in Al foil

~10 oz. box of lasagna noodles (around 14 noodles) --> I used Tinkyada GF rice noodles
6 cloves fresh garlic
1 medium white onion
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 (15 oz.) can crushed or finely diced tomatoes
Handful of fresh basil -or- 1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
dash of salt and pepper
4 cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
half of a 6 oz. bag of fresh spinach (quite a large handful of spinach-- it wilts alot)
1 tsp. fresh parsley
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 c. mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1.5 c. cottage cheese -or- ricotta cheese
1 large raw egg
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

1. Lay the full lasagna noodles into the large saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 inch. If they don't all fit, do them in batches. On an empty counter, lay down a large sheet of foil.
2. Bring the noodles to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce to medium and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until noodles are barely tender... you want them flexible enough to roll and bend without breaking, but DEFINITELY not fully cooked. They should be chewy on the inside.
3. Place the al dente noodles flat onto the aluminum foil. Don't overlap them too much... they'll stick together once cool.
4. Continue to cook the noodles and lay them out flat; add more boiling water as needed. Let the noodles be for awhile as you prepare the filling and sauce (they won't loose elasticity if they cool). Go ahead and rinse and re-use the large saucepan for the sauce.
1. Peel and mince up the (total) 10 cloves of garlic. [Hint: I like to mash the cloves slightly with a meat mallet so they'll slip right out of their peel and lie flat for easier dicing!] About half of the garlic will go in the sauce, the other half will season the filling. Peel and remove ends of the onion, then dice it up. Wash and coarsely chop up any fresh basil, oregano or parsley leaves. Set them aside.
2. Throw about 6 cloves worth of diced garlic into the waiting large saucepan. Add in all of the onion and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Saute the garlic and onion for 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Don't let the garlic burn.
3. Open the can of diced tomatoes and pour right into the saucepan (DON'T drain!). Go ahead and add about 1/4. cup more water to the sauce. Season sauce with basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
4. Let the sauce simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir it every once in awhile. If too much water boils off, add a little more in (it's a sauce, after all).
Remove from the heat and focus on the filling
1. In a small saucepan, place the rest of the diced garlic with 1 tsp. olive oil. Begin heating over medium-low heat. Rinse off the spinach leaves and stuff about half into the saucepan with the garlic/oil. Stir the leaves until they wilt, then add in the rest. Let the garlic, oil and wilted leaves sizzle for a minute or two. Add in and chopped parsley and onion powder and stir well.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add in the 1/2. each of mozz. and Parm. cheeses. The mozzarella will melt-- that's okay-- stir it vigorously to significantly break up and incorporate the spinach leaves.
3. Allow the concoction to cool to lukewarm (not hot enough to burn anymore), then add in the cottage (-0r- ricotta) cheese. Stir well. The spinach leaves should speckle the filling with green. Tast the cheese mixture and add in salt/pepper/more onion powder or cheese as needed.
4. Stir in the raw egg. Mix everything thoroghly; you don't want the egg to scramble (it definitely shouldn't be that hot anymore). The cheese filling should be a nice paste consistency and easily spreadable.
Assemble and Bake:
0. Preheat the oven to 380 F. Line a 9 x 12 baking dish or large cookie sheet with Al foil.
1. Starting with one flat, cooked lasagna noodle, smear about 2 tsp. of cheese filling evenly over the entire face, leaving a small space at one end. Start from the end with full filling and gently roll the lasagna noodle up-- don't press to hard, if done properly the filling won't squeeze obnoxiously out of the ends of the roll.
2. Place the 2" thick roll onto the Al lined baking dish, seam side down. The noodle should stick nicely to the foil and not unravel on you. Continue filling and rolling the noodles until they are all completed. Spread any remaining filling out over the tops of the rolls.
3. Spoon the tomato sauce evenly over the top of the noodles, then place them, uncovered, in the preheated over to bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the ruffly, exposed edges of the noodle start to tan and the sauce is bubbly. Remove rolls from the oven and top with a generous amount of extra mozzarella cheese. Return the pan briefly to the oven to melt the cheese (around 2 to 3 minutes should do). Serve immediately with more veggies or favorite GF bread.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Meyer lemon has a softer, sweeter flavor than 'regular' lemons. These muffins are tender and moist with a hint of lemon. The glaze is super easy to make and adds even more citrus-y goodness. Also, don't skip on the almond extract-- it tastes great with the lemon.
Inspired by these two recipes and the meyer lemons I found at the farmer's market

Question: Anyone else notice sour cream and ricotta cheese seems to make GF baked goods fall after baking? They rise okay in the oven, but fall while cooling. Muffins seem to fare better than cakes, but fluffiness still takes a hit. Maybe I should investigate this...

Makes 12 medium muffins
20 minutes prep + 20 minutes cooking time + 40 minutes glazing/drying
Preheat 350 F
- large mixing bowl
- electric mixer
- large spatula or spoon
- muffin pan; lined with paper or butter
- small bowl

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 c. white sugar
Lemon zest from 2 lemons (~1 Tbsp.); you will also need the juice of said lemons, so keep them!
1 egg
1 c. ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Lemon juice from 1 to 1.5 lemons (~1 Tbsp.)
2 c. GF flour --> [1 c. Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour + 1 c. white rice flour + 2 heaping tsp. xanthan gum]
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
Lemon Glaze
1/2 c. powdered sugar + more
Juice from 1/2 of a fresh lemon

0. Let butter come completely to room temperature. This should take about an hour if the butter isn't frozen. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line the muffin tins with paper or grease with a little butter.
1. In a large mixing bowl, briefly hand mix the soft butter and sugar. Scrub the outside of 2 large lemons and add in their zest. Place the zested lemons aside (you will use their juice later). Beat the butter/sugar mixture with an electric mixer until white and very fluffy-- around 3 minutes.
2. Add in the egg, ricotta cheese, and almond extract. Cut your fresh lemons in half and hand squeeze them to produce around 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice. Be sure to remove any errant seeds. Briefly beat in the egg, cheese, almond extract and lemon juice with the mixer until well combined with the butter/sugar mixture.
3. Add in the flour mix [BRM All-P flour, white rice flour, xanthan gum], baking powder, baking soda and salt all at once. Gentry stir the dry ingredients over the top of the wet (you could mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl if you wish). Once the dry ingredients are combined, start mixing them with the wet ingredients sitting below; I use a spoon for this. Hand stir until the dough is well mixed. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl and will be almost spongy in texture.
4. Plop the dough into the waiting muffin tins. Equally distribute the fluffy dough; 12 muffins will be filled almost to the top. Place muffins into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden. Take them out and let cool before glazing.
Lemon Glaze
1. Spoon 1/2 c. powdered sugar into a small bowl. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice. Whisk with a fork until clumps disappear. You want the glaze to just drip from the fork. If mixture is too thick, add in more juice... to watery, use a bit more sugar.
2. Clump the cooled muffins close together on a tray. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the muffins until they are well-covered. Let the muffins sit out for over a half hour, or until the glaze dries. Eat immediately or store in the fridge for a cool treat.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Oreo Cookies

These were GREAT!! Nice rich chocolaty crunch and smooth vanilla filling. Just like I remember them (granted, it's been over three years since I had a 'real' oreo). In fact, they were better... everything is better extremely fresh. Try to ignore the fact that the filling is basically sugar and Crisco and just enjoy these babies.
I bet these wafers would make GREAT thin mint cookies if covered in melted peppermint-chocolate.
Original recipe from here. She has much better pictures (sorry-- I'm terrible with icing).

Makes ~18 2" diameter sandwich cookies (around 36 chocolate wafers)
15 minutes mixing + ~70 minutes baking + 20 minutes whipping icing and assembling cookies
Preheat 375 F
- large mixing bowl
- wire whisk or electric beater
- cookie sheet lined with Al foil or parchment paper

Chocolate Wafer
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter or dairy-free alternative
2. Tbsp. vegetable shortening*
1 egg
1.25 c. flour --> (3/4 c. brown rice flour + 1/2 c. Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour + 1 heaping tsp. xanthan gum)
1/2 c. cocoa powder*
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 c. white granulated sugar
dash of salt
Vanilla Icing
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp. vegetable shortening*
~1.5 c. powdered sugar
~1.5 tsp. vanilla extract

*Crisco is GF, Hershey's cocoa powder is GF,

Chocolate Wafer
0. Place stick of butter on the counter to reach room temperature. Make sure it is very soft before continuing. Preheat oven to 375 F.
1. Mix 1/2 c. butter, 2 Tbsp. shortening and 1 egg in a large bowl with a wire whisk (or electric beater) until well combined. The oils and egg don't have to be whipped or anything, just stirred till a uniform color.
2. Add in the brown rice flour, BRM All Purpose Baking Flour and xanthan gum over the top of the oil/egg mixture. Stir the flours together lightly with a large spoon, then add in the cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Again stir dry ingredients without incorporating the 'wet' below. When it looks consistent, mix deeper to include the wet ingredients. Stir entire contents of bowl; the cocoa will start out light brown, then get a nice dark chocolate look once mixed well with the egg/oils. Continue to mix by hand until no more clumps appear. The dough will be soft and have a shiny chocolate look to it.
3. Pinch off about a teaspoon of dough and roll it into a 1 inch diameter ball. The dough should yield about 36 spheres. Place spheres onto an aluminum foil coated (or parchment paper coated) cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Use a level-bottomed drinking glass and squish each ball flat out to about a 2" diameter (around 1/4" thick).
4. Place cookies into the oven and bake for
exactly 10 minutes at 375 F. They will come out soft, but will harden after cooling; wait at least a minute to transfer wafers to a cooling sheet. Continue baking; it took me a little over an hour to bake all of the balls-- I placed the waiting dough back into the fridge while cooking.
Vanilla Filling
0. Again, be patient and let the butter fully come to room temperature. Watch a Daily Show or something.
1. Place 3 Tbsp each of butter and shortening in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, mix by hand until the sugar is not as volatile.
2. Add in the vanilla extract 1/2 tsp. at a time, beating with the mixer after each addition. You are looking for a thick, creamy consistency here-- it IS oreo filling. Basically you want to add vanilla extract until the mixture just turns from 'grainy' to smooth. Compensate for too much liquid with a little more sugar.
3. Beat the filling for 2 to 3 minutes to get it extra creamy.
Place around 1 tsp. filling between two chocolate wafers. Press and twist the cookies together to mechanically bind the sandwich. If you want to add more icing, they'll come apart okay to do so. I suggest storing the cookies in the freezer, it makes them hold together better. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spicy Sweet Bell Peppers (w/Beef)

A zesty, tasty beef fajita filling. The yellow bell peppers help tone down the heat of 2 large jalapeños. This was even better the next day inside a tortilla with melted colby jack cheese.
It's still satisfying to throw a few fresh things into a pan (without need of any GF 'substitutes') and get something good.

Serves 2 easily
40 minutes
- large saucepan with deep sides or a wok

2 large jalapeños
3 cloves garlic
1 large sweet yellow onion
1 large red bell pepper
1 large orange or yellow bell pepper
small bundle of fresh cilantro
1/2 to 1 pound beef steak (I used pre-cut stew meat because it was way cheaper than New York Strip)
1 tsp. Chili powder*
1 tsp. ground cumin*
sea salt + pepper*
1 tsp. corn oil

*McCormick spices are GF

1. Cut tops off of the jalapeños and remove the seeds. Finely dice the chilis. Peel the garlic and finely dice. Set garlic and jalapeños aside. Peel the yellow onion; cut into quarter inch thick disks (as if you were making thin onion rings). Cut tops off of both of the bell peppers and remove the seeds. Cut them in half first, then slice into quarter inch thick pieces. Cut the long pieces in half once to make them more manageable. Wash and chop the cilantro leaves.
2. Rinse off the meat and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place them into the large saucepan and partially fill with water (no more than 1/2" deep in the pan). Simmer uncovered over medium heat, stirring meat occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
3. When the water is all but boiled off, add in the diced jalapeños and garlic, plus another 1/4 c. water. Stir in the chili powder, ground cumin and a dash of salt + pepper. Cook meat for another 5 minutes; it should be nearing done-ness by the end (juices running clear).
4. Pour in the corn oil right before all of the water boils off. Add in the onion rings, red bell pepper and yellow/orange bell pepper. Stir to coat the pieces with oil. Continue to cook the entire dish until the peppers are about crisp-tender and the onion has just 'wilted' (should take around 5 minutes). Things shouldn't be burning if left unattened, yet.
5. Add in the chopped cilantro leaves and turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir fry the meat and veggies for about 3 minutes, or long enough for the onion to become translucent and the peppers to brown and soften a little.
Serve inside GF rice tortillas or over a little bit of white (perhaps brown??) rice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sticky Rice with Bok Choy

A simple, refreshing dish to make on a busy day. Good as a light side dish, or as a veggie main dish for one. Really easy to make.

Serves 1-2
35 minutes
- large saucepan or pot
Quick & Simple

5 cloves fresh garlic
1 inch piece fresh ginger
1 large carrot
1 large white onion
2 to 3 heads baby bok choy
3/4 c. dry rice-- use sushi rice or jasmine rice
[dash of GF soy sauce; optional, I liked the taste of the veggies and ginger]

1. Peel ginger and finely dice. Remove flakey, outer skin from the ginger to reveal the yellow root. Finely dice the ginger. Peel the carrot and cut into oblique pieces (as if you were cutting circular pieces, but do it at an angle). Slice each carrot oval into thirds to create matchsticks. Peel and chop the onion. Separate the individual leaves from the bok choy 'stalk'. Keep both the green and white parts intact, but you can cut off the tough white part at the very bottom. Wash the leaves well.
2. Place rice into a large saucepan or pot cover with about 1/2 inch of water. Bring rice to a rolling boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for around 5 minutes.
3. Add in the diced garlic and giner. Stir well and simmer another 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Add in the carrot matchsticks. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, adding more water in if necessary (like if the rice starts sticking to the bottom of the pan).
5. Add the whole bok choy leaves and the chopped onion to the pot. Cook until green part of bok choy leaves are wilted and white parts are crips-tender (shouldn't take longer than 5 minutes). Rice should be a little overcooked-- but nice and sticky. Add some salt, or a dash of soy sauce, if you so wish.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lemon Coolers

These small little cookies ended up crumbly, fat and wonderfully tinged with lemon. Almost like dry, fruity bon-bons. Coat these with tart powdered sugar-- I found them rather novel and very easy.
Original recipe here, but this one is GF.

Makes 50 bite-sized cookies
20 minutes preparing + almost 2 hours baking total
Preheat 330 F
- large mixing bowl
- wire whisk -or- electric beater
- cookie sheet lined with Al foil
- large heavy duty gallon sized ziplock baggie

1/2 c. + ~3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. white (granulated) sugar
1/3 c. butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1.5 c. GF flour mix --> [1 c. white rice flour + 1/2 c. Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose GF Mix + 1 heaping tsp. xanthan gum]
1.5 tsp. baking powder
zest from 1 fresh lemon
juice from 1 fresh lemon (about 1 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. powdered lemonade drink mix*

*Country Time Lemonade mix
I think is GF; I used it and didn't get sick

0. Preheat oven to 330 F. Place the butter on the counter to soften for awhile.
1. Wait till butter is room temperature (soft!) to begin mixing ingredients. In a large bowl, briefly mix the sugars (1/2 c. powdered and 1/3 c. granulated) with the butter, egg , vanilla and salt by hand. Once incorporated, cream together with a wire whisk or electric beater. The mixture should be creamy and consistent, but not fluffy.
2. Add in the GF flour mix and baking powder. Scrub the lemon well and add entire lemon zest into the bowl. Cut the lemon in half and easily squeeze its juice into the bowl, careful to remove renegade seeds.
3. Stir the entire mixture well. As usual, the dough will be thick, so I normally just hand mix it. Stir until the dough is slightly moist and easily forms a ball.
4. Roll dough into small little balls, no bigger than an inch-- I tried for about 3/4". Place balls onto the lined cookie sheet and press each one down slightly with your thumb; not too much. They will spread and puff out a little more in the oven, but you can get them fairly crowded on the sheet with no problems.
5. Before finishing the first batch, pour the remaining 3/4 c. powdered sugar into the heavy-duty plastic bag. Add in some of the powdered lemon drink mix and shake well to mix. Taste.** Add in more sugar or lemon drink if necessary (depends on how tart you want the powder!)
6. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes. They will get slightly tan on the top when done. Remove cookies and let cool for about 1 minute on the sheet. Before they cool ALL the way (they should still be warm, but not burning hot), plop the cookies into the bag and shake well to coat.
7. Continue baking and then coating the cookies. It took me about 5 rounds to finish the whole batch. I ended up just leaving them in the bag, there was enough sugar to go around.

**If you want more adult-like morsels, don't coat them with powdered sugar-- they have a good lemon taste on their own. I did prefer the melt-away lemon tang, though, and I'm in my 20's!

Mexican Chicken Rolls

My mother's recipe. Tender chicken covered in a toasty breaded exterior and filled with melted, spicy cheese. Excellent.
It takes a little more time with the make-your-own breadcrumbs and the pounding and rolling, but it's worth it. My mom suggests making quite a few at once while you're at it since the rolls freeze so well.

Serves 8
2 hr for breadcrumbs + 1.5 hours of pounding/rolling/dredging + overnight freezing + 1.5 hr baking (obviously these take awhile)
- blender or food processor
- Al foil
- 9" x 12" baking dish
- meat tenderizer (or a hammer)
- small saucepan
- 16 toothpicks

3/4 c. fine, dry prepared GF bread crumbs -OR- make your own with 4 slices favorite GF bread (I used Glutino corn-based frozen white sandwich bread and the crumbs turned out very fresh)
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese*
1 tsp. chili powder*
1/2 tsp. cumin*
1/4 tsp. pepper*
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tbsp. butter
1 (8 oz.) cube spicy Pepper Jack cheese

*Kraft Parm. cheese is GF (and low in lactose), McCormick spices are GF

Homemade Breadcrumbs:
0. Preheat oven to 180 F.
1. Arrange 4 slices of bread onto a cookie sheet and place in the warm oven for 1 hour.
2. Flip the bread to the other side and return them to the oven for another 40 minutes of drying.
3. Take dried (not burned) bread out of oven and break into pieces with your hands. The bread should be very stiff and you will get crumbs everywhere.
4. Place breadpieces into a blender or food processor and pulse several times until they become fine crumbs. 4 slices should get you around 3/4 cups of crumbs.
5. At this point I just mixed the Parm cheese and spices into the bread crumbs while still in the blender.. saved me from having to wash another bowl. Place spiced crumbs aside and skip to preparing the chicken.
Store-bought Breadcrumbs:
1. Mix prepared breadcumbs with Parmesan cheese, chili powder, cumin and black pepper. Place breadcrumbs aside.
Preparing Chicken:
0. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil (the chicken makes a mess when cooking).
1. Wash the 8 pieces of chicken and remove excess fat. Place 2 pieces of chicken into a heavy duty gallon size freezer bag. Place that bag into another freezer bag (double bag them). Lay the bagged chicken onto a counter and pound to 1/4" inch with a meat tenderizer mallet (or a wide hammer). The breasts will almost double in size. Take the flattened chicken out of the bags and lay onto the baking dish. Continue beating meat, 2 per bag, until all 8 pieces are pounded.
2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring the seasoned breadcrumbs over to the same area.
3. Cut the cheese cube crosswise (as opposed to lengthwise) into 8 equal pieces. Place each cheese slice onto the middle of a chicken breast. Start from the short side and roll the chicken breast up around the cheese. Secure the chicken roll tightly with two toothpicks at the seam of the roll.
4. Once all of the chicken is stuffed and secured, dip each roll into the melted butter, covering evenly with oil. Then dredge the chicken in the waiting breadcrumbs. Make sure they're well coated with crumbs (the homemade crumbs were so dry that they easily stuck to the chicken).
5. Arrange the breaded rolls onto the baking dish, cover and freeze until solid. I let mine freeze overnight and cooked them the next day. Alternatively, you could place the rolls into another freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
Cooking the Rolls (the next day):
0. Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
1. Place frozen rolls (arranged on the prepared pan) into the oven, uncovered.
2. Cook for 1 hour, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, cheese is bubbling and chicken reaches an inside temp of 175 F. Mine needed 1 hour and 30 minutes.. best to just check at the hour mark and adjust from there. Serve warm with something good, like Rich Asparagus Risotto (pictured) or Spanish Rice.
**CAUTION!! Remind your family and friends about the embedded toothpicks!!!**

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rich Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus is in season! Big bundles of fresh, vibrant green stalks. I suggest you make this... it was the absolute creamiest version or risotto I've had yet (richer than the version I posted a year ago). The blending part makes this more involved than usual, but it's well worth it. I followed the recipe almost exactly from here, but I'll re-write it below with the slight changes I made. I served this alongside Mexican Chicken Rolls (recipe coming soon).

Serves 4-5 (as a side dish)
50 minutes
- large saucepan with deep sides
- blender or food processor

1 big bunch of asparagus (about 20 stalks)
1 large red onion
6 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1.5 c. dry Aborio rice*
1/4 c. white cooking wine*
2 (15 oz.) cans Swanson Natural Goodness Chicken broth (or about ~4 cups of other GF broth)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese*
salt and pepper to taste

*Lundberg has some good Aborio rice that is for sure GF, Holland House cooking wine is GF, Kraft Parm. cheese is GF (and low in lactose!!)

1. Wash asparagus and onion. Break off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus stalks (bend them with your hands until they naturally break-- you will loose about 2 inches, but that's okay). Cut the asparagus into pieces about 1.5 inches long; separate the asparagus tips from the stalk pieces. Slice the ends off the red onion, discard outer layers and chop into small pieces. Peel the garlic cloves and finely dice.
2. Place roughly half of the cut asparagus pieces into the large saucepan. Don't use the tips, they will remain whole and be cooked later. Add water until the pieces are barely covered. Boil asparagus until tender, around 8 minutes.
3. Scoop the cooked asparagus pieces out of the saucepan and place into a waiting blender or food processor with a little bit of the cooking water. Blend until smooth and creamy. Place aside. [If you don't have a blender, try mushing the soft asparagus well with a fork.]
4. Rinse out the large saucepan and pat dry. Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter in the saucepan over medium heat; mix in the olive oil. Add the diced red onion and garlic when oils are hot. Saute onion and garlic for about 2 minutes.
5. Add in dry rice, stirring well. Continue to saute rice, onion and garlic until the rice becomes partially translucent (about 3 minutes; can see a dot of white in the middle of each grain) and onion and garlic are slightly golden tan. Stir frequently as to not burn the rice.
6. Pour in a splash of white wine and stir vigorously while the alcohol evaporates. Now add chicken stock (or veggie broth) 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well with each addition. Let the rice soak up the broth before adding in another 1/2 cup. You should be adding broth periodically for about 15 minutes. Make sure you stirring occasionally (you don't have to be there continuously). At the 15 minute mark, you should have gone through 1.5 cans (about 3 cups) of broth.
7. Now add in the reserved asparagus tips and stalks. Stir well to incorporate. Taste the rice and asparagus as they continue to cook and soak up broth (still adding stock as necessary). It should take about 5 to 8 minutes for the asparagus to become slightly tender and the rice to be chewy.
8. When the asparagus and rice is nearly done, spoon in the blended, cooked asparagus puree and all the remaining broth. Mix well for another minute or two, until the rice is no longer soupy, but nice and creamy.
9. Remove from the stove and stir in 1 Tbsp. butter and the Parm. cheese. Stir to incorporate. The rice should be rich and creamy (almost sticky), with bits of asparagus and a hint of cheese. Serve hot alongside meat of choice.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reclaiming My Life

Hi. After a grueling 1.5 years I finally have time to post recipes again. Right now I have a backlog of things I made months ago, so there will be a few items that appear out-of-season (such as the 'Valentine's day' cookies below).

Really, though, just change the icing from pink to yellow and they're in season again.

PS-- I'm starting another blog soon. I wanted a place to talk about science and politics and other random stuff. All full recipes will remain here.

Sugar Cookies with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

My mother would make these for Valentine's day when I was growing up. To this date, I still associate Valentine's day with these cookies. They are light and crisp, but still have some 'body'... even translated over to Gluten free. The lemon icing is wonderful.

Makes 25 huge (~3" diameter) cookies
25 minutes + 3 hours of chilling time + 30 minutes rolling and baking
375 F
- electric beater (or whisk)
- cookie cutters
- rolling pin


1 c. butter, softened
1.5 c. confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract*
1 tsp. Almond extract*
2.5 c. flour mix ---> [1.5 c. white rice flour + 1/4 c. potato starch + 1/2 c. tapioca starch + 1/4 c. cornstarch +
3 heaping tsp. xanthan gum] feel free to use your own favorite GF mix
1 tsp. backing soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar*
Lemon Frosting:
1/6 c. room-temperature soft butter
1.5 c. confectioners sugar
3/4 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbps. milk (or water, for dairy free)
zest of one lemon (preferably the one you just juiced)
GF food coloring*
*McCormick spices and extracts are GF

0. Set the butter out on the counter to warm. Go watch TV or something while it softens.
1. In a large bowl, mix soft butter, confect sugar, egg, vanilla and almond extracts till smooth. I normally use an electric beater for this, but a wire whisk will work okay.
2. Hand blend in the flour mixture (white rice flour, xanthan gum, tapioca, corn and potato starches), baking soda and cream of tartar to the butter/extract. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky. Like most GF dough, it will also be dense; I suggest using a strong spoon.
3. Split the dough into two 'lumps'. Cover both with saran wrap and chill for 3+ hours. You want to do this... the dough is horrible to work with if you don't chill it first.
3.50. Heat oven to 375 F.
4. Place half of the cool dough onto a clean countertop and try to press it down a little by hand (it should be fairly hard). Cover the dough with a large piece of saran wrap and roll the dough out with a rolling pin to about 1/8th of an inch thick.
5. Cut the rolled dough into shapes. I like circles.
6. Place on parchment paper and bake 7 to 8 minutes until the cookies are light bown on the edges. Pull out and let cool for a minute or two before scooping them up.
0. Let the cookies TOTALLY COOL before icing them!
1. Blend softened butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice, milk and zest in a bowl until soft.
2. Add in dye. Frost the cooled cookies gererously.