Cook Kindly

Adventures in cooking and navigating a gluten-free life.


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Chicken Wild Rice Hot Dish

I’m from Minnesota, so I say hot dish, you might call it a casserole, depending on where you’re from. A hot creamy dish by any other name tastes just as delicious. This recipe is easy to prep ahead of time and have in the fridge, so you can just pop it in the oven after work. We actually had some decent weather the other day, so I asked Ryan to grill up some chicken breasts. We have 3 adult-food eaters in my house (my youngest is only 4 months old – not yet gumming adult-food), naturally I had Ryan grill up 10 chicken breasts (gulp). Throughout the course of the week, we put them to good use – between a grilled chicken dinner, salads for lunches, and this dish. Having grilled, chopped chicken in the fridge helped make this dish a cinch to pull together. The rice cooker made cooking the wild rice a set-it and forget-it breeze. PSA: I love having a rice cooker, we use it a couple of times a week. Perfect rice every time, without having to babysit the pot.

I made 2 cups of wild rice on Sunday, plus the grilled chicken, and kept both in the fridge until I was ready to prep this dish Tuesday evening. In a large bowl, I mixed all of my ingredients (listed below) and spread into a prepped baking dish, topped with tinfoil and put it in the fridge for the next night. It took me about 6 minutes.

The key ingredient in this dish, for my gluten free friends, is Progresso’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Hooray! This isn’t your condensed cream of chicken soup of yesteryear, so if you’re using it in other dishes, take into consideration that you wont need as much liquid. I can’t tell you how excited I was to find GF cream of anything soup. This soup makes it possible to put together a comforting dinner perfect for a mid-winter night.

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This recipe is pretty flexible, you could add or omit various vegetables, or even top it with cheese.

Chicken Wild Rice Hot Dish

2 cups wild rice cooked
3 chicken breasts cooked & diced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (*be sure it’s gluten free)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 – 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tsp salt OR season salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

combine all ingredients and spread into a sprayed13 x 9 or larger baking dish. (This makes a pretty big recipe.) Bake, covered with tinfoil, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly. This recipe refrigerates well for a couple of days prior to baking, you can also freeze it for later.

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Convenience

One of the hardest adjustments when going gluten free is the lack of convenience foods. There are some options, but by-and-large they either are not that great or they cost a small fortune. There are nights when you just don’t feel like cooking and want to throw a frozen pizza in the oven. Or nights where you need a quick meal on the table before heading out the door again. Those nights can be tough for a gf-er. On those nights, we do a lot of eggs in my house. My almost 3-year old prefers them scrambled with cheese, please.

Even canned soups often contain gluten, but stay tuned for my secret weapon in my Chicken Wild Rice hot dish, coming soon.

We do have a go-to meal that never fails to please. A meal that comes together quickly, without planning ahead. Drum roll, please… Spaghetti & meatballs. Yep, frozen, pre-made meatballs – gluten free. Taa daa!  Sam’s Club sells a 6 pound bag of Daily Chef meatballs (double check that they are gf, because they carry more than one kind), and I guarantee you there is always, always a bag in my freezer.

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Simmer a few (or a dozen) meatballs in spaghetti sauce, while boiling up your noodles. I love Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta noodles. They taste great and are reasonably priced, plus they come in a 16 oz bag (most gf noodles come in 12 oz packages). Once  the noodles are cooked al dente (literally meaning “with tooth” or having a bite still), drain the noodles and mix with the sauce. The starch in brown rice noodles is different than traditional wheat flour noodles, they tend to clump together & get hard. My secret, always toss your pasta with the sauce, the noodles maintain their texture better.

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Spaghetti & meatballs is a fast and convenient meal that’ll please the whole family.


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30 Day Challenge

I started this blog nearly 3 years ago, after being diagnosed with non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. After doing a ton of research and struggling to adjust to my new way of eating, I wanted to be a resource for others, which led me to the world of blogging. However, like everyone else, I’m busy. Slowly, my contributions to the blogging world dwindled and then stopped completely. I do have two very good reasons, my time and attention have been focused on my two sons, Max & Harry.

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Now, as the mother of two, I find that I get basically no “me” time, which has been throwing me off balance lately. As difficult as it is to take time for myself, I know that it’s important for my well being and will allow me to be a better mom and wife. So, today I am making a commitment to spend a little more time on myself, doing the things I enjoy. For me, that means cooking, sharing recipes, yoga, and walks. For the next 30 days, I will do at least one thing for myself each day.

My motivation to find more balance in my life comes from my two little guys. My motivation to get back into blogging comes from my love of cooking and my sister, who started a health blog, check her out at busyhealthymom.com.

I’m hoping this blog serves as a recipe resource – whether you’re gluten free or not. I also hope to offer some tips and tricks for being gluten free and living a more balanced life. I say “more” balanced” because I believe it’s an ever-evolving task.


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Chocolate Chip Muffins – Quick and Easy

I’m always challenged when it comes to gluten free baking. I don’t really like to measure or follow instructions terribly closely, which makes me a better cook than a baker. So, when I find an easy recipe that produces excellent results, I’m thrilled! These muffins are quick and easy to make, plus I usually have all the ingredients on-hand. Now that’s what I call a recipe for success (badum-bum-ching). In all seriousness, though, these muffins are quite easy to whip together and don’t require a huge time commitment.

Muffins are such a quick and easy on-the-go breakfast or snack.

When I first made this recipe, I followed it exactly, the results were good, although a touch dry. I thought about the 1:1 swap of apple sauce for oil and decided to give it a go. The result is a moist, spongey crumb, a really delicious muffin. Plus, it’s less fat, yahoo!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Muffins

(revised recipe, original from Quick Cooking Jan 2000)

Chocolate Chip Muffin

Chocolate Chip Muffin

Makes 12 muffins

2 cups of Gluten Free all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup skim milk

1/3 cup apple sauce (or 1/3 cup oil)

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use mini chips)

In a large bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients. In a small bowl beat egg, milk, and oil. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill muffin tin (either greased with cooking spray or lined with baking cups) 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Enjoy.


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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

Although there are gluten free bakeries and the grocery store even offers some gluten free baked goods options, I still steer pretty clear of baked goods now that I’m gluten free. Maybe I’m cheap, since I don’t want to pay $6+ for a couple of frozen donuts or muffins. Maybe I’m nervous they’ll taste terrible and I’ll feel guilty for “wasting that money” (hey, it happened on a $7 tiny frozen gluten free pizza that tasted like cardboard with tomato paste on it). Or, maybe the cost is just an excuse to deny myself those not-so-healthy options. Whatever the case may be, since going gluten free I definitely wait until I really REALLY want a baked good before allowing myself one. I’ve determined that I prefer baking my own to buying the frozen grocery store items (which I have never tried, so I’m not knocking ’em). But, with baking, I get to make what I want to make. Tonight, I ventured into muffin land… chocolate chocolate chip muffins, to be exact. 

I remember many Easter and Thanksgiving mornings my family would meet my grandma and cousins at Perkins for breakfast. Of course, at Perkins with your breakfast order you always have the option of toast, pancakes, or a muffin. Naturally, I would get a muffin to go (for breakfast the next day). More often than not, that muffin choice was a chocolate chocolate chip muffin, dusted with powdered sugar. Certainly not the healthiest choice, but oh-so-good.

For me since being gluten free, I generally don’t miss my previous gluten loves. Although, I do miss the convenience of it all. But, once in a while, I’ll see a past love and feel a tinge of sadness, and sometimes a craving that I wont be able to shake, which leads me to a google search and some baking.

Thanks to Gluten Free on a Shoestring for posting this recipe. http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/chocolate-breakfast-muffins/

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Tonight, I knew I wanted muffins. I couldn’t think of what kind to make (feeling lazy as Ryan and I had came to the end of our grocery shopping and not wanting to traipse back through the store to figure out a muffin flavor ingredient to buy). We were already in the baking aisle, so Ryan suggested his favorite kind of muffin, one with chocolate chips. So, I grabbed a bag of mini-chocolate chips and we headed for the check out. (Yes, we were grocery shopping at dinner time, and we were both hungry already.) After dinner, I pulled out the iPad and started my muffin recipe search. My first google search pulled up a few options, but they required xanthum gum (an ingredient I have yet to try out). So I decided to narrow my search: Better Batter chocolate chip muffins. (I have a few boxes of Better Batter All Purpose Flour Mix in the pantry). Ding! I found Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins using Better Batter flour (without the need for any xanthum gum or other weird ingredients I didn’t have on hand.

I followed the recipe instructions straight through (although my milk was not room temp, and I didn’t shake it, I stirred it) and I added mini chocolate chips. I also made 14 muffins, instead of the suggested 12. The batter was like whipped marshmallow cream, pretty thick and sticky. I filled up each muffin cup how I normally would (pre-gluten free days), about 2/3 full, but I had a LOT of batter left after my 14 muffin cups were full. So, I decided to top each muffin tin off with a bit more batter. Interestingly enough, my baked muffins came out with nice peaked muffin tops, similar to their gluten relatives.

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These muffins were pretty easy to make, look delicious, and should satisfy any chocolate craving. And they are amazing…moist, gooey, chocolatey goodness.


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Five Guys Burgers & Fries

As any gluten free eater knows, eating out can be a challenge, especially when you’re not in a familiar place. Friday afternoon Ryan and I were running around the state working on things for the house. Around lunch time I pulled out my phone to find a gluten free option. I googled “gluten free” + the city we wanted to eat in. Lucky for me, google came through, linking me to the Urban Spoon page for that city’s gluten free dining options. I read off a few choices, and ultimately we decided to try Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

If you had known me in college, you would be surprised that I would pick a burger place for lunch. Oh how times change. Back then, I was a pseudo-vegetarian. I ate mostly vegetarian (especially when I was cooking), but would eat meat on occasion (especially if someone else was cooking… I didn’t like to be a burden). Ha, how times have changed. Now, I often find myself ordering a burger without the bun, well, because sometimes that’s the best option when dining out gluten free.

At any rate, we walked into Five Guys to see the place pretty packed, bags of potatoes running down the center of the restaurant. It looked 50’s-esqu with checked tile on the walls. I quickly read through the menu, they only offer a few burger options (with & without cheese, bacon) or hot dogs, and you add your toppings. They also make pretty good hand-cut fries. I ordered a gluten free cheese burger with grilled onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Ryan got a double with the same toppings + jalapenos. We ordered a medium fry to share.

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I was busy reading all the signs on the walls, touting how great Five Guys is to notice, but Ryan informed me that the entire food crew changed gloves and cleaned off the food prep surfaces to make my burger. How awesome is that?!?! Not only did we find a place that I can eat the french fries, but they also take that extra step to ensure a safe meal for me. Thank you so much Five Guys!

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Once we got our food, I was so ready to dig in, and wasn’t disappointed. The burger was juicy and fully loaded with my chosen toppings. The fries we hot, salty, and well, there was a lot of them. We devoured our lunches with smiles on our faces. I have to admit that I am partial to crispy french fries, which generally you don’t get with hand-cut fries. Although the Five Guys fries were not crispy, they were very tasty and satisfying. All-in-all, I give Five Guys 5-stars for their tasty burgers and fries and quick custom-made fare.


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Apricot Kielbasa Slices

When you’re gluten free and you need a dish to share for a potluck, or you want a tasty hot hors devours, what do you bring? Well, the frozen meatballs cooked in a delectable sauce is pretty much out. But, what about Kielbasa? Oooh, goodness! I found this recipe while hunting for an Oktoberfest snack to bring to a friend’s party. Personally, I’m a big fan of kielbasa sausage, and I’ve been able to find lots of flavor varieties that are gluten free. Both my local Cub Foods and Sam’s Club carry plenty of gf options.

Thanks to Taste of Home, where I found the original recipe for this gf snack.

  • 1 pound fully cooked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

  • In a large skillet, brown sausage; drain and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet; cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Return sausage to the pan; cook for 5-6 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm. Yield: 4 dozen.

You can make this dish and keep it warm in a crockpot, or you can be (lazy) like me, and just make the whole dish in the crockpot (cooking at least until hot). I do think the smokey kielbasa flavor is enhanced by browning the sausage first, but certainly that depends on the time you have and your personal taste.

Taking this dish beyond just a snack, I’ve served the kielbasa in apricot sauce over rice and made a meal out of it (with a veggie either on the side or mixed in, broccoli is delish). It’s sort of a German take on orange chicken (a favorite of Ryan’s & mine).

I wish I had pictures to share, but this dish is so yummy, I ate it all!