Kale & Company Breakfast Bowl

I love breakfast, so much so that I often whip up breakfast at dinner time. Breakfast hasn’t quite been the same without gluten, though. No more Sunday morning fluffy pancakes, everything bagel fresh from the toaster, or one of my dad’s egg sandwiches on a Thomas’ English Muffin. Time to get innovative.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I dined at Elizabeth’s Table in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York. This cozy little nook has quite the cook. The Vegetarian Bowl was chock full of yellow squash, zucchini, red onion, and kale sautéed to perfection. The finishing touch? A poached egg and feta–beyond scrumptious. The bowl made its way around the table, and I’m surprised (and lucky) there was any left by the time it returned to my hungry fork.

This recipe is a reimagining of the splendor at Elizabeth’s Table. I learned from the chef (via our waiter) that the kale was partially steamed before sautéed with the other vegetables, which softened the kale just right. Okay, I can handle that part. The poached egg? Now that was completely foreign territory. The Smitten Kitchen to the rescue, obviously. Deb Perlman’s egg poaching tutorial was very useful as I set aside my egg poaching fears and watched the chaos of yolk and egg white come together like magic. There are so many ways to modify this bowl–such as adding quinoa, Sriracha, or tofu–I added a few suggestions at the bottom of the recipe. Bon appetit!

BigLens4

BigLens7

BigLens1

Kale & Company Breakfast Bowl
*
Inspired by Elizabeth’s Table
Yield: Two bowls

Ingredients
4 cups of kale, coarsely chopped
1 cup of shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups Portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
4 scallions, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 egg, poached
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add shredded carrots, chopped mushrooms, and diced zucchini. Saute for 5 minutes until zucchini has softened. Add crushed garlic and scallions, sauteing for an additional minute.
2. While vegetables are cooking, fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water. Set a steamer basket in the pot. Add the kale and cover. Steam for about 3 minutes, until kale just begins to wilt.
3. Remove kale from the pot, shaking off excess water. Add kale to the pot of vegetables and toss together. Lower heat to “warm” or “low” while poaching the egg.
4. If you have never poached an egg before, I highly recommend the tutorial on The Smitten Kitchen. It’s much easier (and not as scary) as you may think!
5. Divide vegetables into two bowls. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top each with a poached egg.

Modifications:
1. For a heartier bowl, lay vegetables over a bed of quinoa.
2. For an added kick, toss vegetables with 2 tablespoons of Sriracha.
3. For additional protein, sautee cubed super firm tofu along with the vegetables.
4. Cheese fan? Add a few tablespoons of crumbled feta.

BigLens3

Posted in Breakfast, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

I have made this soup at least once (and sometimes twice) a month since September. It’s just that good–and easy to cook. Maximum flavor with minimal effort? During a busy work week, that sounds perfect.

In the early Fall, my parents and I paid a visit to Hand Melon Farm in upstate New York where we picked bushel upon bushel of fresh vegetables. Eggplants, green bell peppers, beefsteak tomatoes, yellow squash, acorn squash…you name it, it was ripe for the picking.

Hand Melon Farm, NY

Bushel of green bell peppers

Puppy says hello at veggie patch

Piece of trivia: Dogs enjoy vegetable picking, too.

Green Bell Peppers

One of my favorite meals growing up was Stuffed Peppers–green bell peppers hollowed out, stuffed with a ground beef and rice mixture, and simmered in a large pot of tomato soup. Sunday Supper Heaven. After returning from Hand Melon Farm with half a bushel of green bell peppers, we decided to stuff bell peppers…into soup form. (Sometimes, the best creations occur when you throw ingredients into a pot and hope for the best).  I’ve been making this soup ever since, and C and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. (Shocker).

Green bell peppers poured into soup

This soup is the lazy person’s Stuffed Peppers. It combines all the same ingredients–except for the ground beef, which I swapped for lean ground turkey–and packs the same, rich flavors. Each spoonful is like biting into a bowl of stuffed peppers, except not nearly as messy and ready in half the time. Win.

stuffed bell pepper soup

Disclaimer/Caveat/Sidenote: This recipe is one of the rare instances I use beef. Even though the ingredient is beef broth, that still counts. This was one substitution I couldn’t make–the stuffed pepper flavors just wouldn’t match up. It took almost a year for “cow” to make an appearance. Savor the moment!

Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup

Ingredients
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 small to medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
2 small green bell peppers, chopped into bite size pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 10.5 oz cans Campbell’s Tomato Soup
4 cups beef broth

1. Cook long grain brown rice in a pot according to package directions.
2. While rice is cooking, combine olive oil and onion in a large pot and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant for an additional minute.
3. Brown ground turkey in the pot, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add tomato soup and beef broth to the pot, stir to combine. Bring soup to a light boil, then simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
5. Add chopped green bell pepper and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
6. Distribute the soup into bowls, adding desired amount of rice into each bowl. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

soup

Posted in Soup | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

For the Love of Applesauce

I’ve never been a fan of cranberry sauce. Watching the jelly-like substance slip out of the can onto a serving dish always creeped me out as a kid (of course, I had to watch every year), and the flavor was simply too tart for the likes of my taste buds. Even after my sister took on the role of cooking cranberry sauce from scratch a few years ago, I still could not be swayed. Cranberry sauce is one of the few dishes at the Thanksgiving table that I pass to the person next to me without taking a serving myself. On the other hand, if someone passed me homemade applesauce instead, the serving would take up 1/3 of my plate.

When my sister (yes, the cranberry sauce sister) was still in college in New Hampshire, my mom and I paid a visit one Fall to celebrate the coming of autumn the right way–picking apples. And not just a bag or two, but 25 glorious pounds. One of the fruits of our labor was fresh applesauce. I was immediately sold on the made-from-scratch version’s chunky thickness and surprising lemony brightness, which was balanced by a hint of cinnamon. I make it every Fall after picking an astonishing amount of apples…and I’m hoping to convince my mom to serve it as an alternative to cranberry sauce on Thursday. We’ll see.  Apples are still in season in upstate New York, right?

Orchard apples

Apples in a pot

Mashed apples

Applesauce

Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients
4 lbs of a variety of all-purpose/baking apples (such as Fuji, Granny Smith, Gala, and Braeburn), peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick cinnamon
3 strips of lemon peel

1. In a large pot, combine the ingredients together. Cover and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples can be pierced with a fork. (This can take up to an hour depending on the ripeness of the apples).
3. Remove pot from heat and let cool slightly. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
4. Place pot on a sturdy surface, and smash apples with a potato masher until no large chunks remain.
5. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold.

Apples

Posted in Sauces, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A more appropriate name for these cookies, adapted from a gluten-free Betty Crocker recipe, is “Autumn Delights.” Fluffy, moist, and with just the right amount of sweetness, these treats will not last long once baked. They certainly did not in our house (we are liberal in our definition of “breakfast” when these are around).

A few years ago while living in Boston, my roommate decided to follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons. It was then that I was first made aware of gluten. While at the grocery store, I spotted a line of gluten-free Betty Crocker mixes and excitedly shared the news with her one night. “You can still eat CAKE!” I thank my roommate for bringing gluten to my awareness, which helped me better understand a health issue two years later that resulted in adopting a gluten-free lifestyle. With the realization that gluten was the problem and a life without gluten the only answer, I took comfort in knowing that I could still have a sweet treat every now and then. Thanks, Betty C.

I Heart Cookies

Pie shouldn’t hog all the pumpkin glory this month. Pumpkin puree displays its full potential with these cookies, showing us it is so much more than just Thanksgiving pumpkin pie filling. Since this recipe does not call for an entire can of pumpkin puree, here are 23 ideas for the leftovers. Spicy Pumpkin Hummus, Pumpkin Bao Buns, and Pumpkin Biscotti, oh my!

pumpkin cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Gluten-Free Recipes

Ingredients
1 box Betty Crocker gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix
3 tablespoons of unsweetened apple sauce
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla
1 teaspoon cardamom

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F.
2. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. In a small bowl, combine applesauce and baking soda, set aside.
4. Add remaining ingredients to large bowl, stir to combine. Add applesauce and baking soda mixture and mix again.
5. With fingertips, place rounded tablespoons (roughly rounded–the dough will be too sticky to roll in your palm) onto baking sheet, about 2″ apart.
6. Bake for 15-17 minutes until lightly golden on top and firm to the touch.
7. Remove from oven and immediately place on wire rack to cool.

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Posted in Breads and Baked Goods, Sweet Treats, Vegan | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Italian Roasted Vegetable Stacker

Sure, I could have chopped up vegetables, roasted them in the oven, and tossed them in marinara sauce and mozzarella. I’m sure it would have tasted, well, fine. However, I was not in the mood for fine. I was in the mood for fun. Fun with vegetables, which in the case of this dish, equates to playing with my food. What would happen if I roasted slices of eggplant and squash…and then stacked them? With–wait–fresh mozzarella between the layers, melted by a heaping spoonful of marinara sauce. Now, that sound just grand.

Italian VegetablesI chose vegetables that would be the easiest to stack after sliced. Eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash were the obvious choices.

eggplant brushed with olive oil

That little red rubber brush is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets (yes, I’m stretching the term ‘gadget’ in this instance). If you are seeking an extra kick, sprinkle red pepper flakes over the vegetables after brushing them lightly with olive oil.

vegetable stacker

The zucchini and squash are not large enough to create their own layer, so I overlapped them slightly, like so.

roasted vegetable stacker


Italian Roasted Vegetable Stacker

Ingredients
1 large eggplant
2 zucchini
2 squash
8 oz. fresh Mozzarella
15 oz. can of unseasoned, crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of minced onion
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 to 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste, fresh basil for garnish

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degree F. Spray 2-3 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, combine the crushed tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Wash and slice eggplant, zucchini, and squash into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Array on baking sheets and brush lightly with olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes.
  4. While vegetables are roasting, slice fresh Mozzarella into 1/4 inch slices.
  5. Remove vegetables from oven, and while warm, stack in the following order: Eggplant, zucchini/squash (these can overlap on single layer, especially if the pieces are small) mozzarella, eggplant, zucchini/squash, mozzarella.
  6. Top vegetable stacker with simmering marinara sauce.
  7. Garnish with fresh basil, and serve.

Caution: The “stack” may droop once the cheese melts. Eat it quickly!

Posted in Italian, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Very Berry Gluten-Free Scones

What better way to celebrate the coming Fall than with a mug of tea and a scone, brimming with Indian summer fruit? Fall arrived seemingly overnight–the leaves all of a sudden are golden, orange, red, and the air bears a hint of bite that reminds us winter is not too far off. And so I sit on my balcony, cozy in a sweater and sipping a hot mug of Earl Grey tea, both excited for the Fall days to come and reminded of the splendor of summer with the last of the season’s blueberries and raspberries wrapped in a hearty scone…with cardamom. Because everything is better with cardamom.

C’s cousin, whom I shall call “Cousin J” on this blog, is a gifted baker. We exchange recipes, and he bakes me gluten-free treats when I am in town for family gatherings. I adapted his classic gluten-free scone recipe by adding flax, berries, and cardamom. I also substituted the milk and yogurt with soy milk and non-fat Greek yogurt. While the substitutions resulted in a very sticky dough, the result was the same: warm and hearty, Fall-is-here goodness.

Not in a very berry mood? Add dark chocolate chips instead. Or cinnamon. What about nuts and raisins? The  batter is simply the base–the remaining flavors are up to you!

very berry GF scones

Very Berry Gluten-Free Scones

Ingredients 
2 cups Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup ground flax
1/2 cup each fresh blueberries and raspberries, washed and patted dry
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup non-fat Greek Yogurt
3/4 unflavored soy milk
Cardamom (for garnish)

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F and lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. Combine dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add butter and beat with a mixer or food processor until coarse crumbs form.
4. Whisk yogurt and milk together in a separate bowl until blended. Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, pouring a little bit at a time until a dough forms.
5. After the dough reaches consistency, form into a ball on a floured surface. (Warning: The dough will be very sticky)
6. Gently fold in the fruit with your fingers.
7. Dollop the batter into 2″-3″ rounded balls on the baking sheet, leaving ample room between each scone. (They by no means have to look perfectly round, mine were quite messy!)
8. Sprinkle each scone with cardamom and place in the oven.
9. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.
10. Cool scones on a wire rack, and enjoy!

gluten-free scones

Posted in Breads and Baked Goods, Breakfast, Gluten-Free Challenge | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pesto alla Genovese (Basil Pesto)

I couldn’t blog about Sicilian pesto without giving equal attention to its northern Italian counterpart, Pesto alla Genovese (aka basil pesto). Every summer, my mom grows basil in her backyard, which I help to “harvest” (if I’m visiting) into a massive batch of pesto that dominates our freezers–and fills our stomachs–throughout the winter. As the years pass and I get older, the size of her basil plant grows taller. This year was quite the year, as you can see below. Yes, that basil plant is 4 feet tall. All I see is pesto…pesto…pesto…

basli

I have experimented with basil pesto over the years, using different nuts and changing the olive oil-garlic-cheese ratios. Out of all the iterations, I discovered that I prefer walnuts to pine nuts, flat leaf parsley intermixed with the basil, and (shocker) Pecorino-Romano cheese versus parmesan/romano.

basil, garlic, and parsley

basil pesto

Because the flavor of Pecorino-Romano is so potent, I decreased the quantity in this recipe so as not to overpower the pesto. The flat leaf parsley adds another dimension of flavor, albeit subtly, and the walnuts have less saturated fat and more protein than pine nuts.

This pesto is a solid accompaniment to not only pasta, but white fish as well, such as barramudi, mahi-mahi, tilapia, and cod. Try dolloping the pesto over sliced fresh tomatoes and Buffalo Mozzarella for a flavor packed salad. The options are as endless as the leaves on my mom’s basil plant. My guilty pleasure? Scooping the pesto with fresh veggies or gluten-free crackers. Shh, don’t tell.

completed basil

Pesto alla Genovese

Ingredients
2 packed cups basil leaves
1 packed cup Italian flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (according to consistency preference)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Load basil, parsley, cheese, garlic, and walnuts into a food processor. Pulse several times until combined.
2. Run the food processor while simultaneously pouring olive oil slowly into the processor’s spout (if that is the right term)
3. Season with salt and pepper, and pulse one final time.
4. Fill pesto into tupperware container sizes of choice. Add a little olive oil to the tops of each container before adding the lids (this will prevent the pesto from browning).

Posted in Italian, Sauces, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment