Friday, May 28, 2010

Fish on Fridays: Spicy Salmon on the Grill

As I've said before, one of the things I rarely cook is fish. I hate smelling fish in my house after I cook it, and I hate touching it. But I have decided to branch out with my menus and I've actually discovered some tricks that I think will help you other fish-haters out there. The first thing I've learned is that fish is actually really easy to cook, and now that it's semi-good weather in Utah, I can also grill it and not have to deal with the house smelling like salmon for two days. Bonus. I also like to buy my fish frozen, like I did here, because it really does eliminate a lot of the smell factor when preparing it.
So, at WalMart the other day I discovered that they have salmon filets for $4.95 and you get 4 frozen pieces. Score! I put two of them into a bowl of lukewarm water and when they were soft and thawed I put them on a plate and just drizzled extra virgin olive oil over them and sprinkled some of the McCormick Grill Mates Salmon spice blend on both sides. So easy! And I love that McCormick is so gluten free. Almost every spice they have is gluten free and that makes them stars in my book. Then I grilled the filets on the grill for about 5 minutes per side, until they flaked easily with a fork. That is the whole deal with fish and doneness, I've learned: look for the flaking. I served them up to my husband as a big old surprise for dinner, not only that we were eating fish but that it wasn't burnt to a crisp off the grill. (I have issues.)

Anyway, hope this gets the ball rolling for all of you non-fish eaters out there, and if you are a big fish eater and you have a favorite recipe you'd like to share with the rest of us rookies, please leave a comment...maybe you'll be the next one on Fish on Fridays!
Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gluten Free Tater Tot Casserole

One day I was minding my own business, watching TLC, when I totally saw someone cooking Tater Tot Casserole on a special about the Duggars, who are the people with 19 children, if you can believe that. Well, actually I can believe it, because this is a great recipe that you can feed picky hungry kids and make a pound of hamburger go a long way. No wonder the Duggars are making it. I was under the impression that this is totally a Utah recipe, but apparently not. And I'm also figuring out that there are endless ways to vary the recipe, but here's how I do it:

First, brown 1 pound of extra lean hamburger and drain the grease. I add some dried minced onion while it's browning. Second, add 1 small package of frozen mixed vegetables to the meat and one can of Progresso Creamy Mushroom Soup and mix well. This Creamy Mushroom soup is a little hard to find, but it's worth it when you do. It's the only gluten free cream of mushroom soup I have found that actually tastes good. Third, spoon it all into a greased 8x8 baking dish and top with frozen tater tots. Fourth, pop it into a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes. Then top with shredded cheddar and back into the oven for 5 more minutes until melted and golden.I know mine looks like a 9x13 pan, because it is! I doubled my recipe when I made it, so there's a lot here.
This is seriously one of those recipes where I do the social experiment of making a plain, humble casserole and serve it on fancy dishes to see if I get any comments about how lovely the meal is. So far my husband is not playing that game. But we are full and it is also a meal that won't break the bank. Hey, in a recession, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Happy eating and don't forget the first episode of "Fish on Fridays" tomorrow!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gluten Free Energy to Go..I Mean GU

So much for "Fish on Fridays"...I competed in my first sprint triathlon this past weekend, and I've been a little distracted with my last minute training. For those of you who are into endurance sports, of which I am only slightly a participant in, you know how important energy is on race day. I've recently begun to do a little research on energy gels and chews, just to see what's out there that's gluten free. It's a cruel irony that exercising burns a lot of calories, but that when you're out there exercising (trying to burn more calories) sometimes you need to eat some calories to be able to keep on exercising. Whew. Anyway, I used some of these energy gels by GU this week, and I must say I wouldn't have made it through my race without them.

Aside from the fact that energy gels taste like eating hair gel, and that your gag reflex kicks in every time you squirt one into your mouth, I did have a favorite. The most palatable flavor, I thought, was the blackberry one. The least palatable? Lemon. Just stay away. And the best thing about the GU brand is that they have apparently listened to me and they have printed two words right on the label: Gluten Free. That's all the inspiration I needed to purchase a handful of these before race day. I'm telling you, if companies would just ask my opinion, they would really come out on top. Anyway, if sports are your thing or you're looking to get into a sport and want some quick energy, try GU gels. And how did I do on my race, you may wonder? A solid B-. Right in the middle. Not bad for an old lady!
Happy exercising!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tinkyada Noodles and Sausage Marinara--A New Gluten Free Box

I'm a very traditional person, if you don't know me personally. I have to continually ask myself to think outside of the traditional realm of things, not just food, and see if things could work better put together differently. Continually. And I also have to try to divorce myself from the thoughts that if something's not a certain specific way, it's not good. I'm sure no one else out there thinks this way. Ahem. I try to rationalize it by saying that I'm a perfectionist and nothing's wrong with that, but really, I'm often narrow-minded. Luckily, I have to cook dinner every day, so I get plenty of practice in flexible thinking. For example, when spaghetti is on the menu, the water's boiling, and you could have sworn you had plenty of hamburger in the deep freezer but none of it is in there and you have to eat dinner and be out the door by 6:30 for a PTA fundraiser. What do you do? Put on your creative thinking cap, chaps. Never mind the fact that I can't move around the traditional idea that there must be protein present in all dinners for small children because if not you're a bad mother. Never mind the fact that I didn't just eat the noodles with plain marinara and call it good. Noooo. I had to chug through the fridge looking for a substitute. I had some polish kielbasa, I chopped it into medallions and browned it in my beautiful Calphalon frying pan, and added the Prego right to it. Never mind also that the whole time I had to keep telling myself, "It's okay, no one will know you mixed Polish and Italian one will even know...deep breaths." Seriously. Who is this person? My kids and my husband loved it. They thought it was so awesome that they got to eat "smokies" with their noodles. I loved it, too. You may recall my love of sausage here. So the lesson is: don't be afraid to substitute and definitely think outside of the box when making a meal, because your family might think you are a genius. The other lesson is maybe I need some relaxation therapy when I break the rules.
Happy eating!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries? No Worries...

It's Monday morning, and I always feel uninspired on Monday mornings, until I start looking at my food pictures from the week before and then the ideas start cooking. Lots of times when I go to the grocery store, that's when the ideas start cooking, too, and I'll have to make myself a list of all the fun things I want to try so I don't forget them during the week. (That has happened WAY too many times, if you're wondering.) One thing that's been on my list for a while now are Sweet Potato Fries. It seems like everywhere I've eaten lately has Sweet Potato Fries on the menu. Okay, maybe only two places, but still, they're getting more popular.

The problem with ordering Sweet Potato Fries at a restaurant is that you are never sure about cross contamination, and at some places I'm sure about the cross contamination because my server told me that they used the same oil to make the fries as they used to fry the battered onion rings. So sad. And baking is so much better for you anyway, so I thought I'd give it a try. Cheers to Giada de Laurentiis for inspiring me to make these. She makes everything look so easy. Her version is much more Italian, mine is much more housewifey.

I took three sweet potatoes, cut the ends off, cut them into steak fries, and scattered them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil for quick clean up. Then I drizzled them with about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tsp kosher salt.
I roasted the pan in the oven for 45 minutes at 425 degrees, until they were nice and browned and the potatoes were soft inside. Then I made a quick dipping sauce with 1/3 cup light mayonnaise, 1 tsp Tamari sauce (wheat free soy sauce from San-J), 1/2 tsp chili powder, and 1/2 tsp garlic salt and served it alongside my salmon. By the way, my salmon will be the first edition of my "Fish on Fridays" series for the next four weeks. You may know by now that I never cook fish and I want to try to break that habit and learn how to incorporate this into my menus. I hope it turns out delicious, or as delicious as a novice fish cooker can make it.

That's it! They basically cook themselves and Sweet Potato Fries are a great way to change up your summer menus. Plus, doesn't it seem like they talk about sweet potatoes being better for you on the Biggest Loser or something? Maybe I made that up, but they sure SEEM healthier.

Also, my Gluten Free Lemon Poppyseed Muffins will be a featured blog post over at Foodista tomorrow, so check it out!

Happy eating!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Livin' it Up at IKEA: Gluten Free Meal Options

My family is of Scandinavian heritage. My grandfather's family came from Norway and my Grandmother's family came from Sweden. My mom's side of the family is also Norwegian, and my husband's family is Danish. So I like to consider myself a Scandinavian-American. (Get a load of me. I'm from the suburbs, really.) Somewhere, one day, years ago, I thought I read an article that said that celiac patients are more likely to be of Scandinavian descent, but now I'm having a hard time finding that article to back up my story. This doesn't mean if you're not Scandinavian you can't be a celiac, it just means...well, I'm not sure what I'm getting at. I just know I wasn't surprised when they said Scandinavians could have celiacs and I ended up having it. Anyway, we are lucky enough to have an IKEA store, a company based in Sweden, about 10 minutes away from my house and I love it there. It's like a little trip to Sweden every time you walk through the doors.

My kids absolutely LOVE IKEA. And can you blame them? IKEA has really made it fun for kids to shop in that store. I think their favorite thing may be the macaroni and cheese in the cafeteria, so inevitably, every time we go to IKEA we end up eating a meal there. My usual fare is the shrimp and egg salad sandwich, which is served open faced on a piece of rye bread. I usually slide the salad right off of the lettuce barrier and just eat the shrimp and eggs, have a soda, and call it a snack. I'm usually never full when we eat there. It's more of a kid thing. Anyway, yesterday I went to IKEA with my two youngest children looking for some furniture and it wasn't very busy in the cafeteria, so I decided I would be brave and ask about some dishes to see if they're gluten free. Now, for those of you who have been my readers for a while, you may be asking yourself why a sassy girl like me needed to get upt he courage to ask about ingredients at a restaurant. Isn't that what I'm always preaching about? Communicate with your server! Ask to see the ingredient list! I'll admit, in some situations, like a crowded, busy cafeteria where you serve yourself, I'm still a little shy. But yesterday was the perfect storm, and I asked the girl about the Stuffed Salmon Fillet with Potato Broccoli Medallions. She told me what was in them and then showed me that they have a flip book with all the ingredients perched on top of the counter so you can step aside and peruse at your leisure. And the beauty was, I could eat the whole meal! Totally gluten free! I call that a score. And, yes, it was cafeteria food, but I was full. And the flavor was actually great. Let's hear it for the Swedes! So next time you're out shopping and you need a little something, never fear, you can have salmon and cooked vegetables ordered straight off the menu just like the rest of the world.

Happy eating!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Time for a Gluten Free Frenzy!

Here in Utah, we haven't had too many days in a row of good weather, so spring fever hits me like a frenzy. The cleaning, the gardening, the scooping up of old moldy leaves from fall, it all hits me and I have to cram it into one nice day. It makes me think of being in a gluten free frenzy, which also happens to be the catchy name of a fun website I've recently encountered. If you haven't entered to win something at Gluten Free Frenzy, a super cute website run by Chandice, whose motto is, "To make natural, gluten free living as big in taste and as fun as possible!", add it to your springtime to-do list today. Gluten Free Frenzy's cool factor is upped by the fact that she holds a gluten free product giveaway every Friday, which would make my weekend anytime. She also has recipes and, drum roll please, features gluten free bloggers once a week. You know where this is going, don't you? So, yes, this Tuesday, May 11 I will be the featured blogger over at Gluten Free Frenzy. Check it out and see what answers I gave Chandice's questions and see if I'm as full of it as I sound on my blog posts. And don't forget to check out her recipes and upcoming giveaways while you're over there!

Happy reading!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Everyday Food...Where Have You Been All My Life?

I recently got a subscription to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, which is a little half-sized treasure trove of recipes and food ideas. Every time I flip through a food magazine of any kind, the question that amazes me the whole time I am reading is this: where do they get all these recipes? Am I the only one who wonders how magazines can come up with 40-50 new recipes a month? I'm lucky if I come up with 5! Everyday Food is no exception. Not only is it filled with 40-50 new recipes every month, they are all simple, easy, and quick and it's got the Martha flair with the photography and design that makes it deliciously easy on the eyes. How's that for fitting the bill for today's cook? The latest issue I recieved has about 14 dog-eared pages of recipes that I want to try. This one is one of my new favorites because you all know how much I hate lunch. It's a quick, easy, nutritious lunch and I've made a few little additions to the basic recipe to make it the way I like it. And how's this for journalistic integrity? I have searched my house high and low for my May 2010 copy of Everyday Food and can't find it anywhere. In fact, it may even be the April 2010 issue. I just spend 15 minutes searching the Martha Stewart site for the recipe to link it for you, and I can't find it on there, either! What is with me today? So, pretend you all know that Martha made this recipe up and I just halved it and added two or three ingredients. Journalistic integrity, indeed.
Warm Tuna and White Bean Salad

3 T olive oil
1 can cannellini beans (Italian white beans)
1 clove minced garlic
pinch of salt and pepper
1 can tuna, drained
2 cups baby spinach
1 tsp red wine vinegar
6 green olives, halved
1 T capers (less if you don't like them, but how could you not like them?)
2 T freshly grated parmesan cheese
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add beans and garlic. Cook until beans are warm, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add tuna and toss all together. Place 1 cup spinach in two bowls and top with half of the tuna/bean mixture. Sprinkle red wine vinegar, olives, capers, parmesan, and lemon juice over all. Toss well. Makes two large salads.

I will usually make this for me and just put half in the fridge until the next day, but if you have a surprise friend pop over for lunch, this is a quick and easy meal you will both enjoy.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gluten Free Lemon Pound Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Mother's day is fast approaching, and in honor of our mothers, let's make something decadent and delicious, extravagant but simple, lemony and beautiful, just like mothers are. Well, maybe minus the lemony part. Pound cake got it's name from traditionally having a pound of butter in the batter. This one isn't quite a pound, but it's pretty dang close. So my advice to you is: save this recipe for extra special occasions when you are feeling fit and can afford the calories. Pound cake, unlike some recipes, is a dish which really can turn out better and taste better the finer ingredients you use. If you can at all use fresh eggs, do so. Use the very best unsalted butter you can find. Sugar? I think you can pretty much use any brand of sugar, come to think of it. At any rate, this lemon pound cake is really something to behold when it comes out of a bundt cake pan. Isn't everything? I always want to bake everything in a bundt pan just so it looks fabulous and extra super deluxe. This recipe came from my friend Susan Bromley in Minnesota, who adapted it from a recipe. I did fiddle around with the flour amounts, because as anyone who has ever baked anything gluten free will tell you, a gluten free batter must be wetter than a regular batter because the grains we use have a slower rate of absorption than wheat and continue to absorb liquid even as they're baking. As always, I'm using Grandpa's Kitchen flour, my favorite gluten free flour, but feel free to use your own favorite blend if you can't find Grandpa's Kitchen.
Gluten Free Lemon Pound Cake
1 1/2 cups softened butter
3 cups sugar
8 eggs
2 cups Grandpa's Kitchen Gluten Free Flour
1 T + 1 tsp lemon extract
juice and zest from 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and gradually add sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour, stir in lemon extract, juice, and zest. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan and tap on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean. (You can tent with foil if it is getting too brown and isn't finished cooking yet.) Cool in the pan 15 minutes (very important!) before you turn out onto a cake stand. Serve with Raspberry Sauce.
Raspberry Sauce for Lemon Pound Cake
2 containers fresh raspberries
1 tsp raspberry extract
2 T powdered sugar
6 T (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 T water
Puree 1 container of raspberries with remaining ingredients. Add to the other container of raspberries. Spoon over Lemon Pound Cake.
Happy eating!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lipton's Gluten Free Onion Roasted Potatoes

This is one of my favorite ways to come up with new recipes: read the box. I know, so complicated you could die, but worth every second it takes to look on the side of the box you are using. I was pleased to discover that Lipton Onion Soup Mix is gluten free, and I've used it in several crock pot recipes to add extra flavor and punch to my slow cooker dishes. But the other day I grabbed a box at the store and happened to notice a recipe on the back for, you guessed it, Onion Roasted Potatoes. It was so easy and the results were delicious, so that makes the cut for a Margo-approved recipe. I made these alongside Shannon's Gluten Free Barbeque Ribs the other night and it was definitely a great easy dinner. Here's how to make them:
Lipton's Gluten Free Onion Roasted Potatoes

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange potatoes on a large baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil, then sprinkle with contents of the packet. Smoosh the potatoes around to coat them. Roast for 35 minutes, stirring once so they don't stick to the pan.

Mmm. Just reading about them makes my mouth water. What is your favorite Onion Soup Mix recipe?

Happy eating!
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