Chicken, Mushrooms, Red Peppers and Tomatoes with a Cream Sauce

Yum. This is a great fall time dinner. It’s warm, comforting, and it’s pretty dang healthy. I love creamy sauces, this went great over rice. I’ve also eaten it without. The roasted red peppers and tomatoes give it a nice flavor, and I could eat mushrooms everyday. I had almost wished I had doubled up on them, but as much as my family likes them, it’s me who craves them.

This dish is not difficult to put together. Most of the time, I can’t sit and watch the pans so closely, so I prefer meals that I can allow to cook for a bit while I am cleaning up. I do find cooking relaxing, I just don’t always have the time.

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Ingredients:
1 large red pepper, sliced
1 large tomato, seeded and cut into slices
2 tablespoons butter
4 chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 375F. Place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Cut the tomato and red pepper. Lay them skin side up on the baking pan, and bake for about 20 minutes, until starting to blacken.

While they roast in the oven, take the butter and put it in a larger skillet. Put the heat on medium, and when the butter has melted, add the chicken. Salt and pepper the side that is up, and sear. Once the bottom side is done, flip them over and salt and pepper the side that is already cooked. Sear the other side until it’s a light brown. If the chicken hasn’t fully cooked, this is ok, it will finish cooking later.

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Remove the chicken from the pan and add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until they soften up, then add the chicken stock. Add the heavy cream to the pan, along with the Parmesan cheese. Stir together well to mix. Place the chicken breasts back into the skillet, and add the tomatoes and peppers when they are done roasting. Sprinkle a bit of dried parsley into the pan. Add a bit more salt and pepper, if desired. Turn the heat to medium low, and allow everything to cook together for about 10 minutes.

Makes 4 servings. Goes great alone, or over rice or quinoa.

Caprese Quinoa Salad

capraisequinoasalad22This salad is great for enjoying outside during the warmer months and is fast and easy to prepare. The quinoa can be prepared a day or two ahead of time even. Fresh basil and cherry tomatoes along with a bit of rice wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil make this a light and fresh salad. I’ve served this as both a main dish, and as a side dish – it can compliment a lot of dishes well, and it makes for great leftovers for your next day’s lunch!

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Ingredients:
3 cups cooked quinoa to package directions (1 cup dry)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
8 oz fresh mozzarella pearls (or cut into 1/2″ pieces)
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

capraisequinoasalad3In a large bowl place the cooked quinoa with the rice wine vinegar and olive oil, stirring until the quinoa is coated. Add in the tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, then add a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together well. Serve chilled. Serves 4 as a main dish 6-8 as a side dish.

Lemon Butter Shrimp Pasta (GF)

Butter Lemon Shrimp PastaI’d love to have fresh seafood more for dinner, but where I live it’s hard to get, so this was a treat for me. Pasta is also something I don’t eat very often, but do enjoy so I combined the two. I’ve enjoyed most of the gluten free pastas that I’ve tried and this linguine was really delicious and had a nice texture. I stayed light on the butter and topped it with just a bit of of shredded parmesan cheese.

shrimppasta1Ingredients:
2 lemons, juiced and zested
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 pound medium sized shrimp deveined
10 oz linguine
3 tablespoons butter
fresh ground pepper, to taste
parmesan cheese, to taste

shrimppasta2In a medium sized bowl add the lemon juice, zest, garlic, olive oil, salt and shrimp and allow to marinade while you prepare the pasta noodles.

Cook the linguine noodles for about 2 minutes less than the package directions recommend. Reserve about 1.5 cups of the pasta water.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add butter and the shrimp. Cook until each side is starting to slightly brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan. Add the marinade and the reserved pasta water. Next add the cooked linguine noodles, and add the shrimp back. Top with a bit of fresh ground pepper and allow everything to cook together for 5 minutes. Serve hot and top off with a bit of fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Vegetable Lasagna

Vegetarian Lasagna

I wanted to try a lighter lasagna – that would still be filling and make great leftovers, but be a bit lighter on the calories and fat and I wanted to try meatless. I picked some fresh zucchini, mushrooms, green bell peppers, and onions to place between the layers of gluten free noodles and the traditional tomato sauce and cheeses. I’m very pleased with the results – the different vegetables give a lot more texture than the traditional lasagna and there’s a lot more flavor.

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Ingredients:
10 oz gluten free lasagna noodles
2 large zucchini, chopped
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 small white onion, diced
22 oz tomato sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil
8 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese

veggielasagna2Preheat the oven to 375F. If you have the no boil noodles go ahead and start your bottom layer in the pan (I tried the no boil this time) – if not cook the noodles and prepare the vegetables.

Starting with a layer of noodles on the bottom,  then a layer of sauce and the garlic at the bottom, then ricotta, then vegetables, then cheeses. repeat, and top off with the fresh basil. I like to keep a spatula handy to help smooth out the ricotta as I go. After your final layer of cheese and herbs, cover carefully with tinfoil and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove the foil then place back in the oven for 10 minutes.

Serves 6. Enjoy!

 

Asparagus Risotto

Asparagus RisottoThere are so many ways to prepare risotto. The two things that I find is key to it, is giving the rice enough time to absorb all the liquid and to cook properly – and using a good quality shorter grain rice.  I used Arborio rice for this dish, which is pretty easy to find.  Asparagus is in season and even though it died in my garden this year, it’s all over the farmer’s market.

asparagus risottoIngredients:
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (this can be replaced with another short grain white rice)
4 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 fresh grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
asparagus risottoIn a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add in the rice and 1/2 a cup of the broth. Allow the rice to soak up all the broth and keep adding in 1/2 a cup of the broth at a time, allowing the rice to soak it up after each addition. Slowly keep stirring the rice every minute or two as you add in all the liquid.

After the rice has absorbed all the broth and is at your desired firmness, add in the asparagus and a little bit of salt and pepper.  Stir well and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cover for another 5 minutes. Top off with parsley and fresh parmesan and serve hot. Serves 4.

Eggplant Marinara with Goat’s Cheese

Eggplant Marinara with Goat's Cheese

I haven’t had eggplant in awhile and was craving it and goat’s cheese, so I combined them together and added some fresh red bell pepper to make a great Italian dinner. The eggplant was firm, the sauce was delicious with hints of basil and garlic, and the goat’s cheese added this wonderful creaminess to the sauce.

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 ounces goat’s cheese
1.5 cups tomato sauce
1 red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried basil
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-5 tablespoons parmesan cheese

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Preheat the broiler on the oven to high and lightly cover each side of the eggplant pieces with oil and a bit of salt. Place the pan in the oven, for 3 minutes – then flip the eggplant and cook for another 3 minutes.

In a medium sized bowl mix together the tomato sauce, garlic, and basil. Crumble up the goat’s cheese and carefully stir in in with the diced red pepper. Take about half of the mixture and cover the bottom of a 9×9 pan. Place half the eggplant slices down, cover them with the sauce mixture. Place another eggplant piece on top of that and cover with the remaining sauce. Top off with some parmesan cheese and place into the oven for 12 minutes.  Serves 2-3.  Enjoy!

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Baked Portobello Parmesan

Baked Portobello ParmesanI enjoy Italian food – but I try to not eat pasta very often. These mushrooms give me a healthier alternative and they’re really easy to make. They have a light breading on the bottom and topped with fresh mozzarella cheese. They can be made as a meal, or an appetizer with smaller mushrooms.

portoparm3Ingredients:
4 large Portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup tomato sauce
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons dried basil
portoparm2Preheat the oven to 400F. Gently wipe down the mushrooms and clean out the gills with a spoon. Place them stem side down on a baking sheet. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg. Add the bread crumbs, parmesan, milk, parsley and garlic and combine well. Brush this on top of the mushroom tops and place in the oven for 10 minutes.

While they cook – in a small bowl add together the tomato sauce and basil. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and carefully flip them over so they’re stem side up. Carefully divide the tomato sauce between the mushrooms and top with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle a bit more parsley on top and place back into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Serves 4, serve warm.

 

Caprese Meatloaf

caprese meatloafI’ve talked about my love of caprese before. Salads, appetizers, and I’ve made it as a grilled cheese. I love how fresh it is, and the combination of flavors just makes me smile. I wanted to make comfort food of sorts for dinner tonight – it’s so cold out, the area schools and public buildings will be closed again tomorrow. I put this together and served it with a salad for a wonderful dinner. The fresh basil smell warmed the whole house,  and this filled our hungry bellies.

capresemeatloaf1Ingredients:
2 lbs lean beef
1 cup gluten free bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1/2 cup dry white cooking wine
8 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 large bunch fresh basil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried oregano
sea salt and pepper, to taste

capresemeatloaf4Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl mix together the beef, eggs, bread crumbs, white wine, onion,  garlic, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Place it on a baking sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper. Carefully flatten the meat mixture into a large square.

Lay the fresh basil on top of the meat, followed by the sliced mozzarella (save 1-2 ounces to top off the meatloaf!) and sun dried tomatoes.

capresemeatloaf3Start on one side of the parchment paper and carefully roll the meat using the parchment to help. capresemeatloaf8Place it seam side down on the baking sheet and dispose of the parchment paper. Coat the top of the meatloaf with the 1/2 cup of tomato sauce letting it cover the sides, and the 1-2 ounces of leftover mozzarella (give it a quick dice first). Place it in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Serves 6. Enjoy!

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

baked spaghetti Ingredients:
12 oz gluten free spaghetti
1 lb lean ground beef
28 oz spaghetti sauce
12 oz mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 an onion, chopped
1/2 a green pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons basil
salt, to taste
3/4 cups parmesan cheese
bakedspaghetti2Cook pasta to package directions, salting the water. Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large skillet cook the beef, onions, and green peppers together with the garlic. When the pasta is done, drain the water out and place the pasta in a large bowl. Cut the cream cheese into smaller cubes and place with the noodles. Gently stir the cream cheese into the noodles until it’s melted and the noodles are covered.

bakedspaghetti3Add the spaghetti sauce to the beef and combine well. In a large casserole dish (I used a 9×13) place a light layer of the beef and sauce mixture. Add the spaghetti on top, and then the rest of the sauce. Gently stir the sauce into the pasta a bit. Place a layer of the mushrooms on top, and then the parmesan cheese and basil. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 375F.

bakedspaghetti4I’ve found this to be appealing to both adults and children – and it went over big here last night. It’s also great leftovers. Feeds 6.

 

Meatballs and Beans in Tomato Sauce

meatball6With Thanksgiving this week and needing time to prepare a few days in advance, I wanted to make something that will reheat well so I don’t have to worry about having a healthy meal, and something that will pair with salad well. I’ve always loved good meatballs, and learned to make them towards the end of my college years when things finally settled down a bit and I could make a meatball instead of buying bags of frozen ones.

Meatballs and BeansIngredients:
For the Meatballs:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup gluten free panko or breadcrumbs
1/2 an onion, diced
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

For the Sauce:
1/2 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 14 oz can cannellini beans
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil

5 medium sized tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder

meatball3Preheat the oven to 350F. Starting with the meatballs – whip together the eggs and milk. Place the dry ingredients for the meatballs in a medium sized bowl, then add in the milk+egg mixture and the beef. Mix together well (works best to use your hands.) Make into balls, size of your choice. I ended up with 13 medium sized balls. Place on a baking sheet (I used a piece of parchment on top for less mess) and bake for 30 minutes. For really large meatballs, cook for 35 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, place the olive oil, onions, celery and red pepper. Cook together for 5 minutes. In a food processor or blender place the tomatoes (I cut mine into fourths) with the garlic, turmeric, salt and cumin. Process until smooth and add into the skillet. Rinse and drain the beans and add to the sauce. Add the meatballs to the sauce once they’re done in the oven and cook together for 10 minutes.  Serves 4. We ate 3 medium sized meatballs per adult.

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