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Caprese Pasta (with/without Grilled chicken)

I saw this recipe on Foodgawker. I browse the pictures every day looking for inspiration in the kitchen. 🙂 

I rarely eat pasta, but this sounded so good and I love to order Caprese Salads when we are at restaurants so I knew the flavors would be great! 

To make gluten free, just sub gluten free pasta of your choice.  I like Tinkyada Pasta Joy Brown Rice pastas. Also make sure your jarred tomato sauce is gluten free (most are). 

The smell of this sauce simmering on the stove is wonderful. And when you start chopping the basil you will surely get excited to combine these wonderful flavors! The original recipe uses grilled chicken in it. I only had a tiny bit of chicken on hand so I just used what I had. It would be delicious without any meat but for sure the men in our family prefer some meat in their pasta! 🙂

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Caprese Pasta (with/without Grilled Chicken)

Yields about 6 servings

Recipe from Cooking Classy

Ingredients:
2 medium chicken breast halves, grilled and diced into strips (optional)
9 oz Rigatoni or Penne pasta (I used Tinkyada Pasta Joy Brown Rice pasta)
2 cups fire roasted tomato pasta sauce (I used Classico)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup finely grated Romano Cheese
1 clove garlic, finely minced
red pepper flakes, to taste (optional, for added heat)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
1 pint grape tomatoes, diced into halves
12 oz fresh mozzarella, grated** (I used bagged shredded mozzarella)
16 fresh Basil leaves, chopped chiffonade style

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta to al dente according to directions listed on package. While pasta is boiling, in a separate medium saucepan over medium low heat, heat tomato pasta sauce, heavy cream, Romano cheese, garlic, optional red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheese melts. 
Drain cooked pasta well, return pasta to pot. Add in grilled diced chicken, grape tomatoes, half of the mozzarella and half of the basil ribbons, then pour warm sauce over mixture. Toss to evenly coat. Pour mixture into a greased casserole or baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and cook pasta uncovered for about 20 – 25 minutes until cheese is golden. Serve warm.

Fudgy Gluten Free Brownies

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I have tried many many gluten free brownie recipes.  I have tried multiple combinations of flours, using beans as a base (as in the beloved Black Bean Chocolate Cake recipe), no flour at all, etc . . . And none of them have been to my liking. Until now. While browsing foodgawker, I stumbled upon a flourless brownie recipe that uses a combination of corn starch and cocoa powder in place of the flour. I have been using corn starch in other recipes as a wheat flour replacement so that sounded genious to me.  But I still didn’t anticipate results this good. They are shockingly like gluten-filled brownies. The texture is fudgy and dense, which, in my opinion, is how a brownie should be! They have that nice crackly top and they don’t completely fall apart when cut. Woo hoo!

You really should make these for your family. Let the kids help. . . cause what is more fun that making brownies??? 

I put a combination of walnuts and pecans in ours.  But you can certainly add any filler you like.  I think dried cranberries or flaked coconut or even some chocolate chips or M&M’s would be great stirred into the batter. Or, of course, you can just leave them plain.

The recipe from The Comfort of Cooking says to use parchment paper in the pan.  Instead, I just buttered my pan and then dusted it with cocoa powder.  I did not have any trouble getting them out of the pan. Also, the original recipe says to us an 8×8 square pan. I couldn’t find mine since we are in the middle of moving so I used a 8×11 rectangular pan and I’m so glad I did. It made thick brownies and I still got 12 large brownies out of it.

Fudgy Gluten Free Brownies

*recipe from The Comfort of Cooking

Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan

1/3 cup cornstarch, spooned and leveled

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon table salt

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate chips)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (or any other filler you like)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a bit of overhang on two sides (Buttering underneath the parchment will help it lay flat on the baking pan).

I buttered and dusted my pan with cocoa  and did not use parchment. They came out fine. I also used a 8×11 rectangular pan and still had 12 very thick, good sized brownies.

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch, cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large microwaveable bowl, microwave butter and chocolate in 20-second increments, stirring between, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs one at a time, until combined. Add cornstarch mixture and stir vigorously until mixture is smooth and begins to pull away from side of bowl, about 2 minutes. Stir in pecans.

Pour batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack or trivet. Using paper overhang, lift brownies out of pan and cut into 16 squares.

NOTE:  If you want to cut brownies with clean lines and not have them falling apart, USE A PLASTIC KNIFE. (First let them cool completely) I know that sounds crazy, but the brownies stick to metal knives.  The plastic knife slides through them easily with minimal sticking and minimal destruction. 🙂

Store in an airtight container, up to 3 days

Enjoy!

Kickin’ Cashew Chicken

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I have been looking for some new recipes to try. We have been in quite a rut food-wise and I was hoping for some new flavor profiles to enter our doors.

Then I saw this recipe on Foodgawker. It looked relatively healthy, simple, and naturally gluten free so I decided to give it a shot. It was definitely a winner in our house! Even the kids loved it.I love the flavors and the added crunch of cashews thrown on each portion at the end. Delicious!

It is not really very spicy, though the name seems to imply that. I actually added a few dashes of red pepper at the end because we love spicy around here.

I am pretty sure you will love this!

KICKIN’ CASHEW CHICKEN (Naturally Gluten Free)

*recipe courtesy of “Pinch of Yum”

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used 3 TBSP because I wanted a stronger tomato flavor and color)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt (I used nonfat Greek)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used Olive Oil)
  • 1 lb. cubed raw chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/4 cup water
Instructions
  1. Peel and quarter the onions. In a food processor, process the onion pieces for about 1 minute or until a smooth puree forms. Add the next 8 ingredients (through oil) to the onion mixture and process for another 1-2 minutes.
  2. In a heavy pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Pour the spice mixture from the food processor into the pan and fry for 2 minutes. The lightly cooked spices will start to give off a nice aroma.
  3. Add the cubed chicken breast, half of the cilantro, and the golden raisins. Stir-fry for another 1 minute.
  4. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice and garnish with remaining cilantro or cashew pieces.
Notes from “Pinch of Yum”:

I like the sauce to have some texture so I don’t process it all the way (check out the texture in the pictures).

I love cilantro and spices, and these amounts reflect my preferences. If you’re hesitant, reduce the amounts. (And actually, the sauce is not all that spicy. There are lots of flavorful spices, but it’s not firey-hot-get-me-a-glass-of-water spicy.)

For a more veggie friendly dish, add broccoli, peppers, potatoes, or peas!

 

ENJOY!

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Muffins (gluten free or regular)

With cooler weather hitting recently, the official beginning of fall, and my stomach returning to normal, I couldn’t wait to get some canned pumpkin and bake these pumpkin muffins. My whole family loves them and no one ever guesses they are gluten free.  Of course, they are easy to make regular. All you do is omit the gluten free flours and xanthan gum and sub all purpose. The spice combinations are spot on.  I actually doubled the amount of cinnamon that the original recipe calls for, as well as doubled the nutmeg and cloves.

My kids gobble these up so fast! I’m always shocked when we run out so quickly. I also love that they are not overly sweet. Don’t get my wrong. They are sweet as any muffin should be, but not so sweet that they should be called a cupcake. The original recipe calls for raisins or currants, but I never include those. Occasionally, though, I will throw in a few handfulls of chopped pecans, which adds great texture and a bit of protein.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

original recipe from here:

  • 3  cups Jeanine’s GF flour blend (from the art of gluten free baking. com).  I have also used 3 cups of Pamela’s GF baking mix with equally great results. If you use Pamela’s, omit the baking powder and soda.

To make this flour blend, combine 1 1/4 cups white  rice flour, 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour, 1 cup sweet rice flour, and a little less than 2 tsp xanthan gum.  I mix mine in a zip lock bag and then store it in that bag for future use.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • Cinnamon/Sugar mixture for sprinkling over the top of each muffin before baking

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine canola oil, eggs, and pumpkin in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in currants and/or pecans if desired.

Spoon into prepared muffins tins. You can either use muffin paper liners or just spray with non stick spray. Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar over the top of each muffin.

Bake for approximately 12-15 min until tops are puffed up, lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Enjoy!

Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

Apparently, this is a Martha Stewart recipe. A quite good and easy one and relatively simple to convert to gluten free. I made these for a new years eve gathering at our house last night and amidst all the game playing fun, forgot to put them out. Sad. We ate one after everyone was gone but I’m left with about a dozen of them. Guess I’ll be taking them to my parent’s house for everyone to share today.
These really are simple and quick to make. Mercy (my 3 year old) had a great time helping me. Can you tell? 🙂

The only thing necessary to make these gluten free are some gluten free oreos or similar sandwich cookies. Our Kroger carries a brand that is quite good.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes
(This is half of the original recipe. The original recipe makes 30 which I didn’t need. If you want that many, just double everything)
(Makes 15)

INGREDIENTS

*15 cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 15 left whole, and 7 or 8 coarsely chopped (The Kinnikinick brand of GF oreos has about 21 or 22 in the container) If you use regular oreos you will have some leftovers to snack on. 🙂
* 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1/s tsp vanilla extract
* 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

These are fun any time but would certainly make great dessert for a baby shower or party.  I read on one blog where someone said they tinted the cheesecake part blue for a boy baby shower. Cute idea.

Hope you enjoy these!

Ultra Easy Coconut Chocolate Tarts (Gluten Free)

I knew when I saw this recipe that I would be trying it soon. I came across a blog called Ceramic Canvas, specifically this entry on Easy coconut chocolate tarts.  I think you should click that link right away. 🙂  They do such a beautiful description of these and their pictures are amazing. I don’t need to add much except that you should make these for sure. They are very easy (minus the little trouble I had removing the tart shells from the muffin tins) and require VERY few ingredients.  If you are like me and like coconut and chocolate you will be very pleased.  These are so cute too. I think they would be adorable to take to a brunch or shower or to serve for a nice dinner party.  I also think they would be fantastic with lemon curd in them instead of the chocolate.  I added an almond to the top of some of mine, trying to mimic the flavors of Almond Joys.  Definitely do that! I loved the nutty crunch on top. You will too.

Without further ado:

Ultra Easy Coconut Chocolate Tarts (Gluten Free)

1 egg white

7oz sweetened shredded flakes

2/3cup heavy cream

5oz quality dark chocolate, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350˚.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, spread coconut flakes out in one layer. Toast flakes in oven until they are just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8-10 minutes (be careful not to burn flakes).

Let coconut flakes cool slightly. In a small blender, pulse flakes until they’re finely ground. In a small bowl mix, coconut and egg whites until blended. With wet fingers, press about 1 rounded tablespoon of the coconut mixture into 2” wide muffin tin (mini-muffin pans).  Should make about 10 tarts.

Bake tart shells in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the shells are just beginning to turn light golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool shells for about 5 minute and then carefully remove them from the tin on a wire rack and cool completely on a wire rack. I had a BIT of trouble getting these out while maintaining their cute little shape.  Gently sliding a butter knife around the sides of each one helped.  I wonder if freezing them in the pan for a bit would work to solidify them even more and make removing easier???

Meanwhile, place the cream in a saucepan over medium heat and heat until almost boiling. Remove cream from heat. Add the chocolate. Stir until chocolate has melted and the filling is smooth. I heated my cream in the microwave for the sake of ease. Worked just fine.

Pour the chocolate filling into the tart shells and place in the freezer for 10 minutes or until the filling has set.

I added a whole almond to the tops of a few of mine.  I also think some fresh berries would be great and oh so pretty on top of each one.

Easter Cupcakes (Gluten Free)

These turned out ADORABLE! The kids and I had so much fun making them together.  I found the ideas on the Betty Crocker website and just adapted a little.  Super easy!

I used a box caked mix (Betty Crocker GF) and canned icing for convenience.  I actually don’t love Betty Crocker’s GF cake mixes all that much.  They are kinda dry and the yellow cake reminds me of corn bread a bit. But, in a pinch they are helpful.  And I didn’t have the other flours I needed to make cupcakes from scratch.  So, oh well.  If I was making from scratch, I would have used this recipe that is wonderful. Definitely give it a try if you have the ingredients on hand. If you don’t need a GF cupcake, I would recommend this recipe for Vanilla cupcakes from the Joy of Baking.

To make Easter Chick Cupcakes:

INGREDIENTS:

one recipe of cupcakes (GF or regular) to make 24

one can of white/vanilla icing or a recipe of good buttercream icing here

2 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

liquid yellow food coloring (about 8 drops)

48 chocolate chips (I used regular size but you could do mini if you want littler eyes)

orange gum drops

To assemble:

Place coconut in resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add about 8 drops yellow liquid food color; seal bag and shake to mix. Frost cupcakes with white frosting. Top with yellow coconut. For eyes, add brown baking bits/chocolate chips. Cut orange gumdrops to resemble beaks; place on cupcakes.

I put a tiny bit of frosting on each chocolate chip and the orange gum drop beak so that they would adhere to the coconut.  I found that without that they kept falling off when moved.

To make Easter Eggs in Grass Cupcakes:

0ne recipe cupcakes (GF or regular) to make 24

1 can of chocolate icing or  good chocolate frosting recipe here

2 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut

liquid green food coloring (8-10 drops)

1 bag of candy eggs (mine were Hershey’s I think)

To assemble:

Place coconut in resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add about 8-10 drops green liquid food color; seal bag and shake to mix. Frost cupcakes with chocolate frosting for “dirt”. Top with green coconut for grass. Place candy eggs on top of green coconut.

I put a tiny bit of frosting on each candy egg so that they would adhere to the coconut.  I found that without that they kept falling off.

Have fun making these with your kids!!! So festive and spring-y.

Hope you have a fabulous Easter celebrating the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus! He is risen indeed!!!