Sunday, September 30, 2007

cranberry chicken summer salad with citrus honey sauce

This is something I made this weekend when I was feeling too lazy to make something more time consuming. I basically made baked chicken fingers, a quick veggie/cranberry salad, some seasoned rice and decided I'd call it a salad. It was fast and easy but still flavorful. I didn't measure the spices I added to the bread-crumbs that covered the chicken, but here's a rough estimate of what all went in to this part of the meal:
1 lb chicken breast tenders
3/4 cup garlic and herb bread crumb
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp basil
Then the chicken breast tenders were dipped in an egg wash, covered in the bread crumb seasoning mixed. They cooked in the oven for about 30-35 minutes at 325.

The "salad", if you want to call it that, was also easy to make. Most of the prep time for this dinner was spent cutting up the ingredients I used, which included:
1/2 sweet onion
1/4 cup sweet, dried cranberries
1/4-1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 finely chopped onion
2 TBSP olive oil
a pinch of salt and pepper
1/2-3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
I then seared all these veggies/fruits together until they had a sweet and spicy aroma.

The rice was cooked in chicken broth and a mixture of spices, then I made the dressing last, so I could throw it over the baked chicken before serving. This is enough dressing for about 2 people:
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed tangelo or orange juice (I actually squeezed a tangelo...and I've only recently heard of them :)
1/2-1 tsp honey (depending on how sweet you want it)

This was all pretty quick and easy to make, I had a very lazy weekend. Today we made a pizza...and I'm really happy with how well the bread maker makes pizza dough! With just a few extra seasonings sprinkled over the dough after rolling it into a pizza shape, and the proper veggies and cheeses, the bread maker pizza dough, and the pizza in general, comes out so much better than delivery! I should have taken a picture, but it was so good that I couldn't resist diving into it before getting the camera out. Slow weekends are nice...especially on cold winter days...which I am definitely looking forward. But there's good news, it seems the unbearable Texas heat is finally giving in, at least a little, to the slight coolness of the approaching autumn days...we're finally in the low 90s!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

fresh tostadas and salsa

I bought a $4 whole chicken at the grocery store on Sunday, cooked it in the crock-pot and I'm still finishing it up! What a bargain! I've been able to make so many meals with it, including last night's tostada dish.

I had to add a few more spices to the chicken, since it seems only the skin absorbed the flavor of the spices I added when I cooked it in the crock-pot. So I just chopped up about 1 1/2 cups of chicken, threw it into a pan with a little bit of olive oil, then seasoned it with cilantro, salt, pepper, and parsley. I added about 1/2 tsp of parsley, 1/4-1/2 tsp of cilantro, then a few shakes of salt and a sprinkle of pepper. I also cut up a small garlic clove and 1/8 cup of onion--added that to the chicken while it was spiced over a medium flame for about 5-7 minutes--or until it was slighty golden (I like toasting chicken sometimes because it adds good flavor, especially in Mexican dishes...I notice that pork chops also taste better when they're on the crispier side, not burned, though!)

As for the tortillas that I used for the tostadas, I purchased a bag of locally made tortillas that are completely preservative free (I am horrible at making tortillas, I tried a few times and all that results is a horrible mess and blocks of flour!), then I fried them in olive oil over a medium flame until they were crispy. If you don't want to fry them (I actually didn't fry the ones I ate) you can toast them on a grittle pan until they get crunchy--this is what my grandma does.

The garnish I used for the tostadas included the following ingredients: romaine lettuce (chopped), a chopped roma tomato, some grated cheese, and of course the salsa.

My grandma taught me how to make salsa a few months ago, but I wanted to add a few more things to it. I added chopped red bell pepper because it has a sweetness to it that balances out the spiciness of the chili piquin I used.
Here's what went into the salsa (this makes about 1/2 cup of salsa):
2 boiled roma tomatoes, with the skin removed
1 chili piquin
1/8 cup sweet onion
1 small chopped garlic
2 TBSP finely chopped red bell pepper
3/4 tsp cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch of pepper
I threw the roma tomatoes into the blender with 2 1/2 tsp of warm water and the little piquin. While this was blending into a liquid, I chopped up the garlic, onion and red bell pepper, then lightly sauteed these ingredients in olive oil with the cilantro and pepper. I then added the sauteed veggies to the plain roma tomato/piquin chili "sauce", added about 1/4 tsp of salt, then I turned the blender back on for a few seconds on the "grate" setting; I didn't want a complete puree, there should still be some small pieces of bell pepper in there.

That's about it for the salsa, you can chill it if you want to, or eat it warm on top of the tostadas.

One thing I really like on my tostadas is refried beans. I still had beans left over from the other day (you can get the recipe here), so I just added a couple of tablespoons of oil to a pan (I used olive because it doesn't smell up the house as much as canola/vegetable oil, and it does taste good with the beans), spooned in the beans, raised the flame to a medium-low setting and started mashing them with a spoon once they warmed up. I didn't completely mash them into a big mushy thing, I left a few semi-whole and then let all the beans simmer over a low flame until most of the watery bean "soup" evaporated, so that I was left with the refried beans.

Oh, and before I go, here are a few more pictures of my guineas, I took these a few days ago:
This is Mochi (we refer to him as the mini buffalo, he kinda looks like it)

This is Yoshi! (he's actually really hyper, but you can't tell that here)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

spaghetti with (ground TURKEY!) meatballs in a homemade sauce and Italian bread on the side!

It looks like I only cook pasta, at least this blog would give visitors that impression! But I don't, it is one of my favorite things to make and dress-up, though. I was in the mood for some spaghetti and meatballs today, but I wanted to make a sauce that wouldn't feel like I was just eating, as Jose called it, a bunch of plain noodles lathered in tomato puree. I've gone to quite a few Italian spots, never really finding a place that serves a good and tasty spaghetti and meatball plate. It does seem that most of the sauces are overly-tomato tasting, and it doesn't seem like much thought actually goes into the sauce. I hate boring food, and this is definitely not a plain pasta dish. Pasta and french/garlic bread go perfect together, at least I think they do, so I decided to spice up a baguette I bought at the grocery store just yesterday, giving it a little bit more of a kick with a sauce that isn't just butter and garlic based. So here's the recipe and instructions on how to make this flavorful stuff:

As far as the meatballs go, they alone carry quite a bit of flavor and can definitely be used for meatball sandwiches if any are leftover. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I used ground turkey for the meatballs. My parents used to cook with it a lot when I was growing up, and it was actually my mom who taught me how to make these meatballs from ground turkey. It might sound a little odd if you've never tried it, but ground turkey actually has a much milder taste than beef, so it can showcase/hold the flavor of spices much better, in my opinion. It's also a lot leaner than beef, and you definitely won't have to worry about mad-cow disease if it's your meat of choice for this meatball recipe (by the way, this recipe makes enough servings for about 5 people):
1 pound ground turkey breast (or whatever ground meat you prefer)
1/4 cup chopped sweet white onion
1/2 cup garlic and herb bread crumbs
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 TBSP mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 egg
All these ingredients can be mixed together in a bowl, then rolled into little 1 inch balls before being placed in an all-purpose pan to lightly fry in some olive oil, I used 1/4 cup and that might sound like a lot, but it actually wasn't since the pan I used was a good size.

As the meatballs cooked for about 25 minutes over a low-medium flame, I got started on the sauce, this is what went into the sauce:
15 oz can of Muir Glen salt-free organic tomato sauce
3/4 tsp garlic and herb spice
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp sugar (to balance out the sourness of the plain tomato sauce)
3 whole bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground sage
1 3/4 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp vegetable broth powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
a pinch of nutmeg (everyone on food network does it, so I figured I should too :)
1/4 cup water (the sauce is kind of thick and will continue to thicken as it cooks)
1 cup portabella mushrooms
So I let this sauce simmer for about 10 minutes before adding it to the meatballs, which should now be browned on the outside. After I added the sauce to the meatballs, I let them simmer together while I cooked the pasta.

As far as the pasta goes, I just used a 12 oz bag of spaghetti. After I cooked it in the boiling water with a little bit of olive oil and garlic salt, I just added about 2 tsp of butter, a few shakes of Parmesan cheese, and a couple of olive oil sprinkles (as you can see, I definitely cook with a lot of this stuff :).

Now here's the Italian bread recipe, it's so fast and easy to make it could be served alone as a snack.
Preheat oven to 375
1/2 small baguette (horizontally halved--basically, it makes enough for 3 people)
1/8 cup melted butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
These ingredients can be mixed together in a cup, then drizzled with a teaspoon on the bread right before sprinkling it with about 1/2 cup of fresh spinach and 1/8-1/4 cup of a mozzarella/parmesan cheese blend. The baguette can then be placed in a 375 degree oven for 7-8 minutes. Afterward, you can garnish it with a few sliced roma tomatoes, and slice it into 3 medium-sized pieces, or about 4-5 small ones.

Funny thing about this spaghetti & meatballs plate is that I've actually made it before, but it came out so much better now that I actually measured the ingredients...even though it's my recipe. I don't get it haha! Happy cooking, next time I'll post something non-pasta related ;)!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Low-fat AND GOOD Snickerdoodles!

So today I baked some snickerdoodles before heading off to work, where they were then sampled by some fabulous gals with very refined taste buds; they were all under age 10 :). Of course, I didn't tell them they were low-fat, at their age, that isn't really a concern, unless they don't have a gallbladder like me! Anyway, they loved them...they even asked for more but I didn't want these sneaky snickerdoodles to spoil their appetite for dinner. Jose was even surprised that these classic but wonderful cookies could be made with such a small amount of butter, he calculated that they each had less than 1g of fat! Then we decided that the Food Network really needs to have a show centered around cooking healthy food that still tastes just as good or even better than the unhealthier versions. I do love me some Food Network, but I do get a little disappointed at how so many of the cooks/chefs on there feel the need to use a tub of butter to cook their desserts! If I wanted butter that bad, I would just eat the stick by itself and not even put the time into baking...and why put all that butter in a dessert if it's just going to leave you with regrets afterward? I swear to you, next to the chocolate chip ones I posted earlier, these cookies are some of the best and DO NOT TASTE LOWFAT AT ALL. I'm sure you'll have to try them in order to really understand what I'm talking about, so here's the recipe. They're super easy to make, and I bet you even have these ingredients in your kitchen already!

2 dozen delectable snickerdoodles with less than 1g of fat per cookie:
Yes, even Martha will find it hard to believe.

1 1/2 Cups white sugar
1/2 TBSP cinnamon
2 TBSP nonfat milk
2 TBSP softened/partially melted butter
2 eggs
2 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cinnamon/Sugar Mix (guessing here--you decide what's good for you)
3 TBSP sugar
1 3/4 TBSP cinnamon

you know the unfancy drill of throwing it all into a bowl...then just roll up little 1 in. balls of dough and dip them into a cinnamon/sugar mix--place them on a cookie sheet and slightly flatten them out with a teaspoon and bake them at 400 for 10-11 minutes (they don't expand much, so you really just need about 3/4 of an in. between each cookie).

If anyone out there uses this recipe, tell me how you liked the cookies!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

About & Blogroll

Howdy, I'm Sophie! Welcome to my gluten-free blog, Flour Arrangements!

If you're wondering how I came up with the name for this blog, it was actually inspired by one of my favorite movies: Stranger Than Fiction. At one point in the movie, Will Ferrell brings the girl he's dating a box of different kinds of flours, and then he says: "I brought you flours!". I thought it was adorable, especially since she works at a bakery.

So you'd like to know a little about me?

I love to bake and cook. But about a year ago, after experiencing gut issues off and on throughout life, my doctor told me to switch to a gluten-free diet. The issues seemed to improve with the new diet. I went back to the docs for further testing; a genetic test then revealed that I have one of the "Celiac Disease genes". So there's more or less a 60% chance that I have it. The only way to know for sure is to go back on a gluten-rich diet, but the doc and I both don't want to do that :/.

So here I am: feeling better, still stingy with money and hungry for [a kitchen] adventure. My craving for sweets and carbs continues, but tasty and affordable gluten free baked goods are hard to come by. The solution to this problem? Experiment, experiment, experiment! That's what you'll find me doing.

I'm the girl in the kitchen making a big mess. I'm covered in many gluten-free flours and I've probably just spilled the ridiculously expensive xanthan gum on the floor again. Believe me, I'm no baking or cooking expert, but I'm also no longer afraid of baking gluten-free! (And I'm still trying to find that perfect gluten-free bread recipe!)

Because I understand how frustrating it can be to not be able to find specific recipes due to being on a particular diet, I enjoy helping people out with their own special health diets. If you're on the look-out for a recipe and you can't find one for what you're craving, let me know! Feel free to send me a comment and I'll see what I can do about helping you come up with one :).

Click Here to view my profile and contact info.

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