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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mexican Chicken Casserole…How do you say that in Spanish?

I’m not really sure what to call this recipe – quesadilla, enchilada, tostada – or a combination of all three. However it’s called, it doesn’t matter because it tastes good and is easy to make!

The quesadillas we’ve had in restaurants are usually two tortillas laid out flat with meat and cheese in the middle and grilled to get them crispy. Enchiladas are tortillas rolled around meat, cheese or beans, covered with a sauce and cheese and baked. Tostadas are more like a pizza – a tortilla crust with toppings.

At first, I was trying to make an enchilada recipe I’d received from a friend, but the tortillas were too small and they cracked when I rolled the them. As always, if something doesn’t quite work out – I improvise! I layered the tortillas flat on top of some sauce, spread my meat and cheese, added another layer of tortillas, more sauce and cheese, then baked it. So simple.

I used chicken breast pieces in this recipe, but you could substitute ground meat, shrimp, turkey or just your favorite vegetables and beans. My suggestion, if you use just vegetables, is to saute’ them in olive oil with some spices first. This will add a nice flavor to the dish. Or you could also roast them in the oven the day before. Just thinking about the variations makes me want to try this recipe again soon! Roasted summer squash, sweet potatoes, black beans…mmmmm. Let me know what combinations you’ve tried!

Buen provecho! (Enjoy your meal!)

 

Mexican Chicken Casserole

1½ lbs. cooked chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1 pkg. gluten-free corn tortillas (~ 10 small tortillas per pkg.)

2 cups gluten-free green taco sauce

1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese

sour cream

fresh salsa

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Spread one cup of taco sauce on bottom of dish. Layer 5 tortillas on top of taco sauce, spaced evenly in dish. Layer chicken pieces evenly on top of tortillas. Cover with ½ cup taco sauce. Add the remaining 5 tortillas on top. Spread the last ½ cup of taco sauce. Cover with the cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, until heated through and bubbly. Garnish with sour cream and salsa. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Main Meals

 

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Cheesy cauliflower…add more veggies to your plate!

I’ve been trying to add more vegetables to our dinner plate. Who can resist a mound of cheesy, delicious cauliflower. Cauliflower has a mildly sweet flavor when it’s cooked and pairs very nicely with cheese and cream sauces. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and K and provides plenty of fiber. We cook this vegetable in many different ways – steamed, roasted, or baked. I’ve also used it raw in salads. Even though this recipe sounds rich, it’s been adapted from a Richard Simmons recipe. Remember him? Short shorts, tank top and head band? Okay, it’s a blast from the past – I won’t go any further!

Enjoy!

 

Cauliflower with Cheese

1 fresh head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces

2 teaspoons butter

2 tablespoons gluten-free flour

1 clove garlic, minced

dash of salt

dash of pepper

½ teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ teaspoon dried parsley

dash of paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a shallow baking dish. In a steamer or microwave, cook cauliflower until just tender, drain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour, garlic, salt, pepper and mustard. It will form a thick paste. Gradually add the evaporated milk, stirring constantly until the sauce boils and thickens. Stir in half the mozzarella cheese, until melted. Arrange cauliflower in the greased baking dish. Cover with the sauce and remaining cheese. Sprinkle parsley and paprika on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Makes about 4 servings.

 

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Side Dishes

 

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Kale Chips…Does this really look like Kale?

Okay, I’ll admit it – I find it difficult to take good photographs of food. I like cookbooks with really good pictures and I’m sure they use some strange techniques to get those yummy, ooey-gooey shots. My problem is the time of day and the lighting. Also, I’m usually taking the photo and then eating what was on the plate. I want to eat my dinner when it’s hot, not after it’s cooled down from taking a bunch of shots from every angle.

Photographing meals during the winter is especially hard. By the time we eat dinner, it’s dark out. I would have to have a light tent in my kitchen at all times, just so I could pop the plate into it and get a nice well-lit photo of our delicious meal. Sometimes I bake at a certain time of day just to get the right lighting. Summer is just around the corner and the end-of-day lighting will be much better!

I think my pictures have been okay so far, but I’m always trying to improve them. It’s very helpful to use a digital camera so I can see the results immediately. If anyone has any good ideas about food photography, please write a comment and let me know!

Now, for today’s recipe… Kale Chips! These are simple to make, delicious and quite addictive. Even my husband liked them, and he is not a fan of kale no matter how it’s cooked. They are an easy way to add extra green vegetables to your eating plan. I didn’t list the actual amount of salt to use – you will need to adjust that to your personal preference. (Mostly because I used my salt grinder, so can’t tell you how much I added!)

Enjoy!!

 

Kale Chips 

1 bunch of fresh kale, rinsed

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Make sure the kale is very dry before using. Remove the ribs from the kale and tear into medium-sized pieces. In a large bowl, toss the kale with the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Spread on a large cookie sheet and bake until crisp but still green, about 5 to 10 minutes. Check often so they don’t burn! Cool on a rack. Use as a garnish for soup or for a snack.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Appetizers/Snacks

 

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Pom’s Thai Restaurant…delicious and gluten-free friendly!

Photo courtesy of Pom's Thai Restaurant Facebook page.

Last night my husband and I ate dinner at Pom’s Thai Restaurant in South Portland, Maine. We had to be in Portland for a very special reason – my son was flying home for Spring break and we were picking him up at the airport! We love to see our son and are very excited to have him home for a week. He also enjoys coming home….getting some rest, eating and cooking some good food and this time, meeting our new puppy!

But, I digress, this post is about dining out at a gluten-free friendly restaurant. (A picture of the new puppy comes later in this post!!) Pom’s Thai Restaurant is located in a strip mall on Western Avenue, one street over from the Maine Mall in South Portland, Maine. The decor inside is very nice – simple, yet elegant and clean. We were very pleased when we opened the menu to find that any dish without gluten/wheat was labeled “no wheat” written under the circle and line symbol —> Ø.

Their menu is very extensive and my husband didn’t have to ask the server about each dish he was interested in, which was very helpful! We really love Thai food and this meal was outstanding. Whenever we go to a Thai restaurant, we generally compare it to our favorite place in Auburn, Maine. Last night, Pom’s Thai Restaurant became our new “Gold Standard” for comparison!!

We got the fresh vegetarian spring rolls, Pad Thai with shrimp, and massaman curry with chicken – so yummy! They have two more restaurants in the Portland area, so we may have to try them all!

We truly are “foodies” in this family, my son included. He whipped up a gourmet omelet for himself for breakfast, then went to the grocery store to stock up on goodies for his week home. He plans on cooking us a gourmet vegetarian dinner some night this week – if I can get a picture of it before it gets devoured, I’ll write about it!

Here’s a peak at our new pup – her name is “Miya”. We lost our older canine boy, “Dunkin”, at the beginning of January, so Miya was our answer to the empty nest syndrome!! She’s a cutie!

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Dining Out

 

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Italian Tiramisu…Schär Ladyfingers work great!

Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts! With a hot, frothy cappuccino alongside, it is the perfect ending to any meal. We recently went to some friends’ home for dinner and this is what we brought for dessert. My husband is usually the one who makes it, because it started out being my “birthday cake” a few years ago. Now, the tradition has stuck – it’s his culinary “baby”! And he does an excellent job, too – so creamy, luscious and light. Even though it has cream cheese and heavy cream, it still tastes light. The ladyfinger cookies soak up the coffee and become soft, the coffee liqueur adds a wonderful full flavor and the chocolate powder on top is just right.

Once our kitchen became gluten-free, though, this dessert could no longer make an appearance. I think the ladyfinger cookies would be hard to duplicate from scratch, although I never really tried…

But, then I found the Schär company (see my earlier post about their sandwich rolls)! These ladyfinger cookies can be bought online through Amazon.com or directly from Schär’s website. They worked great! I challenge anyone to tell me this tastes different than a regular wheat recipe! We adapted this from the Family Circle magazine recipe – “Coffee-Scented Tiramisu”.

Buon Appetito!!

Italian Tiramisu

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup coffee liqueur

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups heavy cream

2 pkgs.(5 oz. each) Schär Gluten-Free Ladyfinger cookies

1 cup strong brewed coffee

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Beat cream cheese, sugar, coffee liqueur and vanilla in a medium bowl until light and creamy. Whip heavy cream to firm peaks. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until well blended. Arrange one package of ladyfingers in an 8 x 8 inch dish, one layer only. Drizzle the ladyfingers with half the brewed coffee. Top with half the cream cheese mixture, spreading smoothly. Sprinkle with half the cocoa powder. Arrange the remaining ladyfinger cookies over the cocoa, one layer of cookies only. Drizzle with the remaining coffee. Top with the remaining cream cheese mixture, spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cocoa powder on top. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Makes about 8 servings.

 
 

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