Collard Green Wrap

Today’s post is not really a recipe, but rather a concept. ūüôā Overall, being gluten-free isn’t altogether difficult, but there are times when I miss the ease of everyday breads, tortillas, and other baked goods. It takes more effort to make or more financial investment to purchase adequate alternatives.

My pantry typically includes corn tortillas for soft tacos or enchiladas, rice cakes for snacks, and Rudi’s Multigrain GF Bread for toast, garlic bread, and pb&j sandwiches. ¬†Occasionally I splurge on gluten-free tortillas (other than the corn variety) so I can make hummus veggie wraps or bean and grain wraps.

Recently I tried using blanched collard greens for wraps and it worked out quite well. Once blanched the greens do not have a strong flavor, so you’re able to enjoy the filling. Not only does it save some money to use collard greens, but it also facilitates eating more leafy green veggies, which is excellent for all of us. I’ve seen this idea on a few healthy eating oriented blogs, but I followed the directions in the¬†Nourishing Meals cookbook (are you getting the idea that I used this cookbook all of the time?!).

Collard Green Wraps

BLANCHED COLLARD GREEN WRAPS

To prepare the collard greens for wrapping: Wash the greens and cut the stem off the bottom of each leaf. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the collard greens by submerging them in the boiling water for about a minutes. Gently remove them with tongs and place them on a plate to cool.

To assemble your collard green wrap: Place a collard green on a cutting board. Spoon your desired filling near the stem end of the the green. Fold in the long ends of the collard green about 1 inch on each side and then tightly roll.

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Gluten-Free Pita Bread

These pita pockets can be made in about 25 minutes. They are dairy-free, egg-free, yeast-free, and gluten-free. And despite all that “free-ness” they are delicious. We enjoy them dipped in hummus, as mini pizza crusts, or as pockets to stuff with veggies for a sandwich.

I have found that these don’t create their own “pockets” very well, which just means I have to cut them open myself, not a big deal to me. I also love that these freeze well, so I often make a double batch and freeze half. I like to freeze some in pocket form and some just whole.

The original recipe calls for using just sorghum flour and sweet rice flour. I have successfully replaced up to a 1/4 cup of the sorghum flour with teff flour or brown rice flour. I also sometimes add some herbs or spices depending on what I plan to use the pitas for (ie adding Italian seasonings when I use them for pizza crusts).

Gluten-Free Pita Bread

GLUTEN-FREE PITA BREAD
(from Nourishing Meals)
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1 1/4 c. warm water
6 Tbsp ground flax seed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 — 3/4 c. sweet rice flour (in the mountains here I always have to add the larger amount of flour, but start with the lesser amount first)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
Herbs or spices, opt.

Preheat the oven to broil/550¬įF. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven, not right underneath the broiler.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the warm water and ground flax seed. Let rest for about 5 minutes to thicken. Then whisk in the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and use a fork to mix together. You should be able to form a ball of dough that is not too sticky or too dry. If the dough is sticky add in extra sweet rice flour (up to the additional 1/4 cup). If the dough is dry, add a little water.

Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces (I’ve done 6 smaller pitas or 4 larger pitas too, depending on what I’m using them for). Using wet hands, roll each piece of dough into a ball and then flatten with your hands until they are 5-6 inch circles. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet. If you’re using a large baking sheet, you should be able to fit all the pitas on there (they don’t spread much). Otherwise use two baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, flipping each pita after 6 minutes. The pitas bubble slightly and get golden around the edges when done. After they are cooled, slice them in half and cut the bread to form a pocket.

If not using right away, layer these between waxed paper and store in a sealed container. Or freeze.

Savory Spiced Nuts

Nuts are a staple snack in our house. In the interest of health, I’ve been avoiding buying the pre-roasted, salted varieties. So, I buy raw nuts and toast and spice them myself. This is our favorite savory spiced nut recipe thus far. It’s also quite easy as it’s all made on the stovetop. Once completely cooled, store the nuts in a glass jar.

Savory Spiced Nuts

SAVORY SPICED NUTS
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1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne
1 c. raw almonds
1 c. raw walnuts
1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add all the spices and stir to make a paste. Add almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds and stir to coat evenly. Continue stirring the nuts, toasting until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool in the pan.

Easy Lasagna

My mom is the one who introduced us to this easy version of lasagna. The layers are beautiful and it is such a¬†delicious dish. I like it for company, providing a meal for someone, Sunday dinner, or even as a non-traditional holiday main dish – this is probably how I most remember having it growing up. I gave my husband a choice of things to serve for a dinner we were hosting recently and I didn’t get past the lasagna suggestion ūüôā –¬†I don’t make it often but it is definitely a family favorite.

Lasagna can be involved with bechamel sauce, meat sauce and more but this version will achieve the levels of flavor and takes a fraction of the time. I always use sausage because I think it adds incredible flavor! Also, the spinach is optional but I like the color it provides and, of course, the nutrients. Serve this with garlic bread or homemade breadsticks, and a lettuce salad. Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

EASY LASAGNA
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1 – 16 oz. pkg. lasagna noodles
1 qt. spaghetti sauce (jarred or make your favorite homemade!)
1 lb. sausage or ground beef
1 c. water
1 – 15 oz. carton ricotta cheese
1 egg beaten
8 oz. shredded mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
6-8 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1/3 c. water
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 Tb. parsley flakes
dash nutmeg
salt, pepper to taste
1/2 c. parmesan cheese

Brown meat, add spaghetti sauce and 1 c. water, bring to a boil.  In mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese, egg, mozzeralla, spinach 1/3 c. water, 1/4 x. parmesan, parsley flakes, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

TO ASSEMBLE: Use uncooked lasagna strips bu rinse in hot water before layering in a 9×13 pan (about 4 lasagna strips fit in a single layer – 3 lengthwise, 1 crosswise). Layers: 1 2/3 c. sauce, lasagna strips, 1/2 cheese mixture, 1 2/3 c. sauce, lasagna strips, remaining cheese mixture, 1 2/3 c. sauce, lasagna strips, remaining sauce, top w/1/4 c. parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 degress covered w/foil for 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes.  Let stand 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Grandma’s Easy Chicken Salad

For many summers, we would drive up to Grandpa and Grandma’s and spend a long morning blueberry picking at a nearby blueberry farm. Grandma always packed a picnic lunch and after picking 70+ pounds of blueberries, we’d head to a local park for lunch. Something I’ve always appreciated about Grandma was her care and preparation of balanced meals, the picnic would include fruit, raw veggies, homemade cookies, sometimes chips, and sandwich makings–bread, peanut butter and jelly, condiments, lunchmeat or this chicken salad.

Grandma gave me this recipe at one of my bridal showers. Although the recipe is typed up (her exact recipe is below), in her neat handwriting she signed the bottom corner with Grandma C.

This comes together quickly and is just right for seasonings and flavors. I usually make a fruited chicken salad, so I found this sweet pickle version a lovely change. We enjoyed it with crackers, but it would make a perfect sandwich as well.

GRANDMA’S EASY CHICKEN SALAD
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1/3 c. finely chopped celery
1/4 c. chopped sweet pickle
2 tsp finely chopped onion
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper
1 1/2 c. chopped cooked chicken

Combine celery, pickle, and onion. Combine next four ingredients; fold into celery mixture along with chopped cooked chicken. Cover and chill.

Grandma’s 5 Cup Salad

First, thank you for your kind thoughts and comments. We had a long but beautiful weekend with our family – lots of tears, lots of laughter, and lots of memories. We have a great big, supportive family and it was truly wonderful to be together even for such a sad occasion. We miss her but we rejoice for her.

_______________________________________________________________________

A few years back, I was planning and hoping to compile a family cookbook and began collecting family recipes. I still hope to do that. Instead, we had the best kind of interruption and found out that #3 was on the way very quickly – surprise! We learned of our youngest in early July and he was born mid August. His adoption was finalized in November. Whirlwind. Sometimes I still think we are recovering and he is 3. ūüôā My sweet Grandparents were some of the first people I called with the news of our eminent arrival. They were excited for us. I have pictures of my grandma holding him when he was maybe 4 or 6 weeks old. She loved babies and she got to see him quite a bit those first few months as we had 3 family weddings within 6 weeks.

Anyway, I was looking through the recipes she submitted – some were new to me and others were old standbys. This recipe is the latter. It’s quick, easy, and delicious. I most remember it coming to picnics – we are big on pitch-ins and picnics in our family. Oh and I must mention that one thing I really admired about my Grandma is that she regularly tried new recipes. A funny thing is that she sometimes apologized for her food which was, in fact, nearly always delicious. It was not fake modesty, it was genuine humility – she was definitely not a praise seeker.

So here is her 5 Cup Salad to kick off our time of tribute to one of our favorite cooks and one of our favorite people! I made it just as she wrote and chose to add pecans because I think that is mostly what she did. She really liked nuts. You could easily add both coconut and nuts but then it would be 6 Cup Salad or you could add 1/2 and 1/2 or just pick your favorite. ¬†Also, I used red grapes. I’m pretty sure this salad was served at the funeral dinner on Saturday or at least several like it.

GRANDMA’S 5 CUP SALAD

1 c. mandarin oranges, drained
1 c. pineapple chunks, drained
1 c. seedless grapes
1 c. coconut or nuts
1 c. sour cream

Mix and serve.

(P.S. I’ll add the printable link later – my computer is in the shop and I don’t have a pdf writer on my back up one.)

Overnight Coffee Cake

In case you still haven’t set your Christmas breakfast menu, let me offer this delicious coffee cake! My favorite part is that you make it the night before and refrigerate it overnight before baking. In the morning you can stick it in the oven and hit snooze a couple more times or send your significant other down to stick it in while you stay asleep – I would, of course, never¬† do that (hehehe).¬†This recipe is delicious and you are a total rockstar for effortlessly serving a warm cake.

I like to pair this with egg casserole which can also be made the night before AND they can be baked at the same time. WIN!¬†Now you will actually need to accept an award¬†for your fabulous, organized, awesome breakfast – I promise I’ll keep the easiness a secret from your admirers… ūüôā The awesome thing about this egg casserole is that you can customize it for your taste – you can add veggies, herbs, different meats, or various kinds of cheese – it is an all-time¬†family favorite!

You will thank your self for getting it done the night before and you will love the results! I serve with coffee and tea and with fruit juice and/or fruit salad. Since it’s the holidays, sometimes we will sneak in some of our favorite(!) eggnog from the local creamery or a wonderful champagne cocktail or sparkling wine. Delish!

OVERNIGHT COFFEE CAKE
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3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. yogurt (or sour cream)
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon,¬†nutmeg and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with¬†yogurt. Pour into a greased 9×13 in. baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon; sprinkle over coffee cake. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes. Combine confectioners’ sugar and milk; drizzle over warm coffee cake.

Lentil Pasta Soup

Lentil soup is pretty much one of my family’s favorites. It’s comforting, healthy, and just plain delicious. One thing I love about cooking with lentils is that they are quick and easy to prepare – you don’t have to¬†soak the beans or let them cook for hours like most dried beans.

Anyway, I’ve made many variations¬†of lentil soup and¬†this one did not disappoint. I adapted it from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe. The pasta made it extra good and we definitely enjoyed this meatless,¬†hearty soup. It’s¬†heathy and easy¬†– perfect for¬†winter and perfect for¬†these busy holiday prep days!

LENTIL PASTA SOUP
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2 Tb. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 c. lentils (I used a combo of green and red)
11 cups chicken broth (or vegetable to make it vegetarian)
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 c. dried elbow pasta
Parmesan cheese (opt.)
Olive oil for drizzle (opt.)

Heat the oil in a  large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (do not drain). Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Return to a boil and stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve: sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.

Roasted Radishes

I would not characterize myself as a big fan of radishes. Sometimes I enjoy them, sometimes I find them too strong. I have mostly (maybe always?!) eaten them raw. Radishes grow best in cooler weather (early spring or fall) and the tops are edible also. They are easy to store and there are a number of varieties. We’ve grown them in our garden and I have used them in salads or on a crudites tray with dip.

When I saw a recipe for roasted radishes, I knew I had to try them. It was easy and best of all, I really couldn’t stop eating them. They were delicious! I tried them with and without¬†a squeeze of lemon juice and never did decide which I preferred. They were good¬†hot from the oven and still good at room temperature.¬†These would be such a unique addition to your holiday table. The colors are gorgeous and so festive!

ROASTED RADISHES
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1 bunch of radishes
1 Tb. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh lemon juice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 1/4 or 1/8th the radishes depending on their size. Toss the radishes with the butter, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Squeeze lemon over all if desired.

Appetizer: Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Chilis

These were the star of dinner last week! They were easy and incredibly delicious. Don’t skip the sauce – it took the dish to a whole ‘notha level. The grill flavor and the melty, cheesy goodness with the slight heat/spice was perfection. The grilling of the jalapeno made these less spicy than I would have expected. The recipe says this serves 4 but really, this easily served 8 for us. Just writing this post makes me want to go make more – a winning recipe from Bobby Flay!

GRILLED STUFFED JALAPENO CHILIS W/GRILLED RED PEPPER-TOMATO SAUCE
From Bobby Flay/Food Network
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8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces soft goat cheese
4 ounces shredded aged white Cheddar cheese (I used regular sharp cheddar)
2 ears corn, grilled in husk and kernels removed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 jalapeno chiles, halved, stemmed and seeded
1 heaping tablespoon ancho chili powder
Grilled Red Pepper-Tomato Sauce, recipe follows

Heat grill to medium.

Whisk together the cream cheese and goat cheese in a medium bowl until smooth. Fold in the Cheddar, corn and green onions and season with salt and pepper. Fill each jalapeno half with about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and sprinkle the top with some of the ancho powder.

Place on the grill, filling-side up and cook until slightly charred and tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Spoon the red pepper sauce onto a platter and top with the jalapenos.

GRILLED RED PEPPER-TOMATO SAUCE

2 red peppers, grilled, peeled and chopped
2 plum tomatoes, grilled until charred on all sides, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the pepper, tomatoes, vinegar, honey and cilantro in a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add oil and season with salt and pepper.