Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tomatillo Salsa and Pico de Gallo

My husband loves carnitas, particularly pork carnitas.  That’s what I made for dinner on Friday night. I cooked a pork roast in the slow cooker with onions and bell peppers, cumin, garlic, oregano.  It would’ve been good to eat on its own but that’s not the end!  Then I made a tomatillo sauce, crisped the shredded pork a bit in a skillet and covered it in the sauce.  Wrap it up in a corn tortilla with some cheese, homemade pico de gallo and guacamole and you have a yummy dinner.  I thought I would share a couple of the recipes here.  Most people already know how to cook a pork roast in a slow cooker, I will skip that one.

Tomatillo Sauce

5-6 tomatillos, hulls/skins removed (that brown outside part)
1 large onion, quartered
3-4 garlic cloves, skins on
1 poblano pepper
1 T vegetable oil
¼ cup water (use a little more if needed to loosen up the sauce)
Juice from one lime

1.      Preheat broiler
2.      Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl with oil
3.      Place everything on a baking sheet with a lip, making sure they don’t touch
4.      Place under the broiler and keep an eye on it, once things start getting really brown turn them over to brown the other side
5.      Remove everything from the oven and let cool until ok to handle
6.      Remove the skins from the garlic and poblano (you don’t have to get everything off, just most of it, whatever you do DON’T  rinse it!)
7.      Put everything in a blender with the water and lime and blend until smooth
8.      You can use the sauce for anything, its good stuff!

Pico de Gallo

4-5 roma tomatoes, seeded
1 small sweet onion
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
1 lime
Salt to taste

1.      Cut up the onion and jalapeno and place in food processor, pulse a few times to begin to chop them up
2.      Cut tomato and remove all seeds, place in food processor with the onion and jalapeno mixture, squeeze in the lime juice
3.      Pulse until everything is chopped
4.      Place in a storage container, add some salt, to taste, and put in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the flavors come together

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mini Quinoa Quiches - Mexican Style

I moved offices at work today, I finally have a door!  No, you don’t understand, in my office that’s a good thing, I work with some loud people (that I have to admit, I will miss hearing).  I love where I work, the good and the bad, it really is a great place to work.  I’m excited about what to put up on the walls in my new home, I have only ever had cubicle walls to work with.  I’m going to try to come up with something good this weekend.
I haven’t cooked the last couple of days which is unusual.  Our dinners have been leftovers out of the freezer.  I was thinking tonight about what I should write about in here and thought maybe I would share some recipes I have discovered on the internet that make great make-ahead breakfasts.  For me breakfast is really my most important meal.  I always wake up hungry and if I don’t have a substantial breakfast then hunger is a problem for the rest of the day.  The recipes below are takeoffs of ones that I have found during my internet searches, there are some great blogs and websites out there that have tasty GF recipes.  I encourage you to go out and look, you will find some good stuff.  Oh, and sign up for Pinterest if you haven’t already, you can collect all of the ones you want to try in one place (have I mentioned I’m a Pinterest addict?)

If you haven’t already been to her site, I recommend you visit Iowa Girl Eats.  She has lots and lots of great recipes.  This isn’t a GF specific website but you can find some REALLY good recipes on here, I have even taken a few and made them GF very easily.  The recipe I love and have reinvented over and over again is the Mini Ham & Cheese Quinoa Cups.  These things are so good you will want to have them every day.  I have even done several variations on them with different flavors.  They freeze beautifully and warm up in the microwave easily for a quick breakfast.  Oh, and they are portable if you want to eat breakfast in the car on your way to work.  Here’s my take on the recipe (I recommend you check the original out on the website, it is accompanied by beautiful step-by-step photographs):


Mini Quinoa Quiches – The Mexican Version
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

2 cups cooked quinoa (about ¾ cup uncooked) – I cook it with either FF chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 cup zucchini, shredded
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup cooked chorizo
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped finely
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp hot sauce (I add more, but I like spicy food)
Salt and pepper (if you are a salt person, I don’t add any, the cheese and chorizo is enough for me)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until set and edges are slightly browned
  4. Let cool before removing from the muffin tin
  5. If you are making a batch to freeze just wrap up in some freezer plastic wrap, they will freeze really well.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Creamy Tomato/Kale/Kielbasa Soup

Quiet day here in this house.  We had our normal Sunday morning breakfast date, ran some errands and then hung out at home.  It was a windy/rainy day which made me want something comforting.  I decided to make some soup, I love soup, all kinds of soup.  They are hearty, mine are always full of veggies and there is always enough for lunches/quick dinners later on. 

I decided that tomato soup sounded good today, the recipe is my own, I tend to do a lot of recipe creation on the fly.  I had a turkey kielbasa in my refrigerator because I let my husband go grocery shopping on his own a couple of weeks ago.  I added kale because I love kale in soup and it is a good way to get even more veggies in our food.  If you decide to try this recipe use it as a base putting your own twists on it, I really think you could take this one a bunch of different directions, I know I’m going to make it again without the meat and possibly more veggies.


Creamy Tomato/Kale/Kielbasa Soup

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 Jennie-O turkey kielbasa, cut into bite size pieces
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 C kale, chopped into bite size pieces
4 T balsamic vinegar (do yourself a favor, use a good one)
¼ C Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is GF, French’s makes one too)
2 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
2 cups fat free low sodium beef or chicken broth
1 C heavy cream

  1. Warm heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium to medium high heat, add olive oil
  2. Once the oil is warm add the kielbasa to brown (you want to develop the flavors, let the brown bits collect on the bottom of the pot), after it is browned remove to a bowl and cover to keep warm
  3. Add in chopped onion and a bit of salt to help them sweat, cook for two minutes
  4. Add garlic and cook another two minute or until the onions are soft
  5. Pour in the vinegar and Worcestershire sauce (stand back so you don’t get that vinegar nose clearing experience), work the brown bits off of the bottom of the pot
  6. Add all of the tomates and broth, stir well
  7. Drop in the kale, this may be in two steps depending on the size of your pot
  8. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the kale shrinks a bit
  9. Add the kielbasa back in and simmer for another 30 minutes
  10. Add the cream let it come up to temperature with the soup on a very low simmer, keep warm until ready to eat.

Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches on GF bread and you have an easy supper with lots of leftovers for lunches!  The leftovers heat up well and the flavors get a chance to mingle the longer they sit together.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Gluten Free Travel Isn't Easy

This morning I was reflecting on my week.  It was a little long; I started the week with travel.  Unfortunately, one of the problems with traveling is I have to eat out eventually.  I do take snacks with me, usually at least a couple of GF protein bars. Eventually though, you have to eat out.

I ended up with gluten, somewhere.  I’m sure it was the restaurant with the waitress that cocked her head and looked at me like I had three eyes when I told her to tell the cook that I had a gluten allergy.  I explained as best I could and told her to have the cook talk with me if he had questions.  I ordered something safe, salad with grilled chicken, oil and vinegar for the dressing, explaining that I couldn’t have any croutons.  When the salad came the chicken didn’t look right and it had croutons.  I told the waitress I couldn’t eat the salad with the croutons and she told me that was ok, I could just take them off…..sigh, more education.  I also asked her to ask the cook if there was anything he put on the chicken other than salt/pepper.  I’m not sure she ever asked, and I’m pretty sure there was flour involved.  This is why I don’t eat out much anymore.

Anyway, that meant for a miserable few days getting the poison out of my system.  Not a fun process, but a necessary one.  I don’t know if anyone else out there has a way of doing it, I would love to hear from you if you do.  For me, I get a lot of liquids…broth, water, green tea.  I am also very careful about what I eat.  That’s gotten me really thinking about what I eat in general.  I have been eating better, but I can do even better.  I need to eat as clean as I can, respect that my body needs me to take good care of it.

Every week I put together a menu of meals so that I know what to buy when I hit the grocery store (or farmer’s market in season).  I don’t know if I mentioned it but my husband is a type 2 diabetic, the menu also reflects that need for less carbohydrates overall which really isn’t all that difficult since I’m GF J

I’m going to attempt some baking this weekend, I’m not a great baker so I’m a little nervous about it…..wish me luck, if the recipe turns out good I will share it!

Happy Saturday all!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Creativity for Relaxation and a Healthier Meatloaf

What are you doing this weekend? It’s a common question around the office on Friday. I ask the question many times myself, sometimes you get some interesting answers, other times you wish you hadn’t asked the question.  So…what are you doing this weekend?

Me?  I have a weekend filled with nothing but whatever I want to do. I’m really looking forward to it; I haven’t had a weekend quite like that in a while.  I hope to read, do a little experimental cooking/baking and work on some artwork that I started a while back but never really finished. I’m shooting for a weekend of creativity. Being creative really fuels my spirit and relaxes me.  This will be a no stress allowed weekend.

Giving myself more sleep each night this week has really paid off in my energy level and my brain fog tendency.  I have been more awake and productive all week, I have actually been able to work through some market analysis that I have been putting off because I couldn’t reason through it well enough.  I finished it yesterday and tackled another one today, yay!

I was thinking about all of the good things I have eaten over the last couple of months (there have been some epic fail recipes too) and thought maybe this weekend I would try to post a couple of the recipes that made my husband say “we have to make this one again”.  Today I thought I would share my turkey/chicken meatloaf recipe.  I know, it sounds weird, but it’s really good.  For those of you that love meatloaf and find it comforting, this is a little bit healthier way to have it.  My husband loves this; I always make enough for lunches and another meal.

Chicken-Turkey Meatloaf
(This makes 2 loaves, enough to freeze for other meals)

1 lb. ground chicken breast
1 lb. ground turkey (I get the leanest I can find)
2 large carrots
2 celery stalks
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
½ T olive oil
3-4 slices of bread; ground for fresh breadcrumbs (I use my GF bread)
3 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T soy sauce (I use a GF one)
3 T ketchup
1 T yellow mustard
½ T powdered garlic
½ T oregano
(Here is where you insert the spices you like, these are my preference)
1-2 T ketchup (for the outside of the meatloaf)

1.      Preheat a skillet over medium heat with olive oil
2.      Put the carrots, celery, onion and garlic in a food processor and let it to until everything is finely chopped and drop into preheated skillet, add a little bit of salt and cook until veggies are soft, not browned, set aside in a bowl to cool
3.      Preheat oven to 375 degrees
4.      Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well, be careful not to overdo it or the meat will be tough.  You need to check to see if it is binding well here, if not add one more slice of bread
5.      Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray
6.      Divide the mixture in half and make two loaves on the baking sheet being careful to ensure that they are similar in size and thickness (this helps with cooking time)
7.      Spread additional ketchup on top of the loaves and put in the oven
8.      Bake for approximately and hour, check for doneness with a thermometer (remember, this is poultry)
9.      When the meatloaves are done remove from the oven, tent with foil and let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  Leave one of the loaves intact and freeze whole for another meal.