Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-Cheese

The calendar may say it is spring, but walking outside into 16 degree temperatures this morning, it definitely did not feel like spring! While the weather is still chilly, warm up inside with a new spin on mac-n-cheese. This recipe combines my favorite spinach and artichoke dip with gluten-free pasta. The first time I ever made it I simply used the leftover dip from a party and mixed it with the cooked pasta. Great way to use up leftovers, however making it from scratch as a pasta dish is even better!

Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-Cheese

Ingredients

1-12 to 16 ounce package of your favorite GF pasta

1/3 cup of butter

¼ cup of Cup4Cup gluten free flour

2 cups of 2% milk (you can use whole milk)

3 ounces of cream cheese

1 Tablespoon brown spicy mustard

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

4 to 6 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1-10 ounce jar of artichokes, drained and chopped

8 ounces of cheddar, shredded (the Alpine Cheddar from Cabot works really well)

Directions

Prepare pasta according to directions on the box. In a large shallow pan, melt butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for a few minutes and then add the milk. Whisk together until all the lumps are out.  Stir in cream cheese, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Add spinach and artichokes. Combine and heat through, then add cheddar. Mix to melt the cheese and take off heat. Add drained pasta and serve.

Spring warmth and fresh recipes will come soon enough! For today, I will sit on the couch under a warm fleece blanket and watch movies with my daughter (home sick with strep) and dream of spring. What are you most looking forward to in the spring?

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One pot meals

My husband is always happy when I make a one pot meal. He is the one who does the dishes 🙂 A one pot meal can be anything from soup to chili to pot roast to pasta. Fewer dishes means less time in the kitchen and more time for the many other tasks you have to accomplish or maybe (gasp!) even give you 5 minutes to take some time for yourself.

One of the favorite one pot meals in my house is my Hot and Sour Soup.

It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and is the recipe I chose to display when asked to be one of the featured blogs on Wayfair.com’s Stock, Soup and Multi-Pots page. Check it out!

If you don’t like hot and sour soup, try my French Onion, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato Coconut Curry, Potato Leek or Carrot Ginger soup. One pot can also make amazing chicken stock or healing chicken noodle soup

Another flavorful meal you can create in a snap, is my One Pan Roasted Chicken.

Serve it with some zoodles and you have a tasty spring-like meal!

Chili is a one pot meal that can either be made in your slow cooker or in one pot on the stove. My Crowd Pleasing Quinoa Pumpkin Chili can easily be made, simmering on the stove in 2 to 3 hours.

Quinoa risotto is a decadent and healthy one pot meal for dinner one night on its own or you can serve it with some leftover chicken or steak.

One pot meals are versatile and easy. Try one of my recipes above! Let me know how it turns out. Let me know if there are other recipes you want to see.

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Beef Pot Roast

Winter will not quit here in the northeast! While the weather doesn’t yet call for actually making lemonade from lemons, take advantage of the cold and make warm, comforting food for you and your family. I have found it is definitely worth the effort to put the time in to prepare a meal in the morning before heading out the door, so you can come home to a completely finished meal that you just need to serve up.

This Beef Pot Roast recipe is an entire meal in your slow cooker. After preparing, there is no more work!

Beef Pot Roast

Ingredients

2 to 3 pound roast sirloin, or other favorite cut

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 pound of potatoes, diced

3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and diced

8 ounces of sliced baby portabella mushrooms

3 shallots, diced

2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1/8 cup of red wine vinegar

1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/8 cup of soy sauce (I use La Choy gluten-free soy sauce)

1/8 cup Worcestershire

¾ cup of beef stock

2/3 cup of water

2 Tablespoons of brown sugar

Directions

Take roast out of the refrigerator and rub with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Turn slow cooker on low and add potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. Toss to cover vegetables.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Sear roast on all sides and place into the slow cooker on top of the vegetables.

In a medium bowl mix the remaining ingredients and then pour over the roast. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Pot roast is the ultimate comfort food! Bonus, this is naturally gluten-free. Just make sure that the vinegar, soy sauce and herbs you use are gluten-free. I like to use Badia or McCormick dried spices. Badia is certified gluten-free and McCormick will mark on their bottles if there is any gluten present.

Here are some more slow cooker ideas from previous posts. What is your favorite slow cooker recipe?

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Marinated Roasted Teriyaki Chicken

The best meals are delicious and easy to put together when you need to get dinner on the table fast. Sometimes that means doing some prep the day before or morning of. This is one of those great meals. It takes a little time to make the marinade, but that is the most effort you will need to exert.

Marinated Roasted Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients

2 to 3 pounds of chicken thighs

½ cup of vegetable oil

½ teaspoon sesame oil

½ cup of soy sauce

½ cup of rice vinegar

½ cup of honey

3 Tablespoons of brown sugar

1 Tablespoon of minced ginger

1 Tablespoon of onion powder

1 clove of garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lime

1 ½ cups of water

¾ cup Wegman’s Organic Teriyaki sauce (gluten and lactose free), plus more reserved for after cooking.

sesame seeds, optional

Directions

Mix together vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, ginger, onion powder, garlic, lime and water. Marinate chicken in mixture for 4 hours to overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Discard marinade, rinse chicken and then pat dry. Spray roasting pan with non-stick spray. Pour 3/4 of a cup of teriyaki sauce into a shallow bowl. Coat each piece of chicken with sauce and plan in pan. Cover pan with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover, turn heat up to 400 degrees and cook for another 25 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure each piece of chicken is cooked through. If you want crispy skin on the chicken, place under broiler for 2 minutes.

Serve with rice and broccoli.

You never have enough chicken recipes in your repertoire!

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Eating Gluten-Free

Words cannot describe my son’s reaction when he found out that Tom Brady eats gluten-free food. I wish I had it on video. A six year old boy with celiac disease who lives about 20 minutes from Gillette Stadium, as you can imagine, it was filled with pure joy and excitement. Although Tom does not have celiac disease, that I know of, it is still great for my son to know that someone he looks up to, eats like him.

We don’t exactly #eatlikeagoat, as you can see if you read my blog. We eat a lot of meat, vegetables, fruit and some processed foods (for much needed sanity and convenience). I am trying to get more seafood into our diet, but find it challenging, since I need to buy the fish the day or day before I’m going to cook it and I only go to the store once a week. It takes some planning and coordination. I am trying to get the habit of buying larger quantities that were not previously frozen so that I can freeze some to take out, when the timing works. This Baked Lemon Cod recipe from Food.com is one of my go to recipes. I just substitute gluten-free flour for the all-purpose flour. If you have any leftover, try my fish stick recipe!

Our food habits have not changed that dramatically since our whole house went gluten free about 3 years ago. We are still a meat and potatoes kind of family. More habits have been added however. I make more from scratch and more in bulk to freeze. We eat less fast food, order take-out less and eat out less. I save chicken bones and vegetable scraps in the freezer to make stock from scratch a couple of times a month. I keep the ends of all of our bread in the freezer, as well, to make croutons or bread pudding because that $6 loaf of bread definitely needs to be used in its entirety!

Gluten free Bread Pudding

Ingredients

About 2 to 2 ½ cups of stale bread, cut into cubes

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

¼ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of cardamom

1 cup of milk

½ cup of heavy cream

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup of brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of cardamom

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss bread, butter, ¼ teaspoon of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of cardamom and spread out on a sheet pan. Toast in oven for about 15 minutes, mixing once half way through. Whisk the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Place bread in a casserole dish and pour mixture over it. Let sit for 15 minutes. Place in a water bath and cook for 45 minutes, until set. Serve with your favorite ice cream!

The eating and cooking habits we have added are all good. Are they all easy? Not always, but it has become our normal. Eating 100% processed foods, gluten-free or not, is not healthy. Eating 100% all natural, whole foods may be healthy, gluten-free or not, but not always convenient for everyone. Everything in moderation is what I try to follow for my family. I don’t judge anyone for how they eat or cook. Everyone does what they can, with what they are dealt with. If you have any questions about going gluten-free, please feel free to contact me, mammascooking@gmail.com or comment on this post! More ideas for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter coming up next week!

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Boston Cream Pie Cake

The complaint most often heard about gluten-free cakes is that they are too dry and crumbly. To combat this, whenever I use a gluten-free cake mix I make these changes:

  • Use milk instead of water, if the instructions call for water
  • Use melted butter instead of oil, if the instructions call for oil
  • Add an extra egg
  • Add ½ cup of melted white chocolate

With these changes, you can serve cake to those who are not gluten-free and they will never know! Betty Crocker, Wegmans and King Arthur are my go to gluten-free cake mixes.

Boston Cream Pie Cake

Ingredients

1 yellow cake mix, prepared according to package with my changes noted above

1 package of vanilla instant pudding, prepared according to package pie filling instructions (for Jello Instant pudding this means, using 1 ¾ cups of milk instead of 2 cups)

1-16 ounce container of chocolate frosting (Pillsbury is gluten free)

Directions

Prepare cake using two 8 or 9 inch rounds. Make pudding and place in fridge to set. Once cake is cool and pudding is set place one of the rounds on a serving platter and top with the pudding.

Place second round on top and then cover completely with the chocolate frosting.  Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

This is a great dessert to entertain with, easy enough for your kids to help with and absolutely delicious!

If you need more ideas to feed your sweet tooth, check out some of my favorite dessert recipes.

Gluten-Free Crispy Treats

Raspberry Lemon Tiramisu

Baked Alaska

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Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Chicken again? Definitely! I have been making a version of this roasted chicken recipe for years. It is SO EASY. It only has 6 ingredients, including salt, pepper and olive oil! I make it to entertain with or just on a weeknight for my family.  This feeds my family of 5 with enough for leftovers! Bonus, if you keep scrolling, I have a great recipe to transform the leftovers.

Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

About 3 pounds of chicken thighs (brined if you like)

¼ cup of lemon juice

3 Tablespoons of honey

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dry off the chicken thighs. Whisk together lemon juice, honey and olive oil in a medium sized bowl. Coat chicken with mixture and place in a roasting pan. Cook covered for 20 minutes, rotate pan and then cook for 30 more minutes uncovered. (Reserve juices in roasting pan for leftover recipe below)

To keep it simple, I recently served this with a new favorite product from Wegman’s, 90 Second Steamables, Savory Long Grain and Wild Rice, which one of my 6 year olds made by himself (2 bags for our family) and microwave in a bag green beans, which the other 6 year old made. The clean plate club was full that night!

This also made an incredible leftover dish based on an old favorite from Bertucci’s, Chicken Broccoli and Rigatoni in Cream sauce. I used the juices from the roast chicken above with a dash of pepper and some milk for the sauce. Heat the juices and keep adding a little milk at a time, until it tastes the way you want it. Cut up the remaining chicken and a head of broccoli. Toss everything together with your favorite pasta and it is a delicious meal!

What ways to do you like to cook chicken? How do you use your leftovers? We learn from each other, so comment and let me know!

Here are some of my other favorite chicken recipes:

Spatchcocked Herb Roasted Chicken

One Pot Roast Chicken with Tomato Sauce

Apricot Glazed Chicken Wings

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Balsamic Honey Mustard Slow-Cooked Pork Loin

School vacation is over!! While there have been weeks in the past where I have felt sad that school vacation is over, this time, as I drove away, I turned up the music and was literally dancing in my seat! (Sing Justin Timberlake’s, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” when you read that paragraph) Anyway, now back to the routine of cooking and writing (and lots of laundry).

Using your slow cooker is always a great way to have a delicious meal waiting for you when you get home. I especially like to use it on Saturdays when we are running around with errands, parties and basketball games. The aroma that awaits when walking in the door is heavenly.  This pork loin is comfort food at its best. I kept this easy and served it with polenta and microwaved frozen peas on the side. A gorgeous comfort meal with very little effort!

Balsamic Honey Mustard Slow-Cooked Pork

Ingredients

3 to 4 pound pork loin

1 ½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 ½ Tablespoons of olive oil

4 medium shallots, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

2 cups of beef stock

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoon agave syrup

1 Tablespoon of honey mustard

Directions

Rub the salt, pepper and thyme all over the pork loin. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sear the pork loin on all sides.

Place pork in your slow cooker.  Add shallots, garlic, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes.

In a measuring cup, mix together stock, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and agave. Pour mixture into skillet with the shallots and garlic, mix and cook for 5 more minutes. Pour liquid, shallots and garlic over the pork in the crock pot. Rub the honey mustard on the top of the pork loin. Cook on high for 1 to 2 hours. Turn slow cooker down to low for 4 to 6 hours. Or cook it on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Gravy

Ingredients

Cooking liquid from slow cooker

3 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon agave syrup

2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

2 Tablespoons of softened butter

Directions

Pour all the shallots, garlic and liquid from the slow cooker into a high sided skillet after the pork is done. Bring to a boil. Add the balsamic vinegar and agave. In a small mug, combine the butter and cornstarch. Whisk the butter and cornstarch mixture into the gravy. Cook about 5 minutes until thick. Pour through sieve into your favorite grave boat (I like to use a travel coffee mug! keeps it warm.)

Looking for other slow cooker ideas?  Check out some of my favorites here.

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Carrot Ginger Soup

Even though the weather seems to be getting warmer (wishful thinking that spring is near!) soup is still a great comfort. Especially, this light, delicious soup (which is vegan and gluten free if you need it to be). It is a great lunch with grilled cheese or perfect starter for you Easter dinner.

Carrot Ginger Soup

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil

½ teaspoon of sesame oil

1 large sweet onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch of fresh ginger, minced

5 to 6 large carrots, diced

1 ½ teaspoons of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

5 ½ cups of chicken or vegetable stock

Sour cream or plain greek yogurt, optional

Directions

Heat oils in a stock pot. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Stir and cook until the onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add carrots, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Add the stock and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Blend with a handheld blender or allow to cool and transfer to a blender or food processor to puree. If there are lumps, run through a sieve. Keep in stock pot on low heat or in a crock pot on warm or low until ready to serve. Top with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if you like.

Spring will be here before we know it! With a slight chill in the air, soups make an easy, healthy lunch, served with a salad or sandwich. Let me know if there are any recipes you want to see for the spring!

Here are some of my other soup recipes if you are in the mood for something different.

 

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Baked Alaska

Check one item off my 2017 Cooking Bucket List! For Valentine’s Day I made Baked Alaska for my family. It is definitely old fashioned and definitely delicious! I scoured the internet and my cookbook collection for recipes to learn the process. Allrecipes.com never fails to provide good recipes, so I used this recipe to make sure I got the meringue right.  Some use pound cake and sorbet and bake the meringue while others use sponge cake and ice cream and use a torch on the meringue. The thought of putting ice cream in the oven, made me nervous, so I decided to go the torch route. Plus that is more fun!

Baked Alaska

Ingredients

1 gallon of Hood Patchwork ice cream

1 box of gluten free chocolate cake mix, plus an extra egg (I like Wegmans GF chocolate cake mix)

8 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of sugar

Directions

Take the gallon of ice cream out to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare a medium sized bowl by lining with plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Press the ice cream down into the bowl and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Make 8 inch round cake according to instructions, adding the extra egg. Cool the cake and cut to size of the ice cream in the bowl if needed. Press cake onto the bottom of the ice cream. Cover and freeze for another 4 hours or overnight. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, take the bowl of ice cream and cake out of the freezer and make the meringue. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Turn the bowl with ice cream and cake onto a plate and take the bowl and wrap or paper off.

Frost the ice cream with the meringue. Take a culinary torch and run it over all the meringue until toasted. Serve immediately. Freeze the leftovers.

It was much easier to make than I thought. It does take planning, however. I froze the ice cream in the bowl and made the cake one night. The next morning (day of service) I cut the cake to fit the ice cream and put back in the freezer until after dinner, when I finished it with the meringue.

Working my way through my bucket list. I found cornish game hens on sale this week and put them in the freezer, so a fancy dinner where we will each have our own “little chicken” according to my kids, is coming soon 🙂 What is on your cooking bucket list? What would you love to cook?

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