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Gluten Free Gluttony: Macaroni Cheese!!

Gluten Free Gluttony: Macaroni Cheese!!

Well, Summer is over (not that we really had any Summer here in Cardiff…) and it’s getting colder & darker outside.  Don’t worry, I’ve found a way to make you feel warm & cosy inside – gluten free, lactose free Mac n Cheese!!  Hot, oozy, carby goodness; it’s the perfect time of year for it!  Shut your eyes to the calories, shut your eyes to the mess you will make in your kitchen (pour yourself a glass of wine if you need to!!) roll up your sleeves and prepare to make magic…

 

a real winter warmer…

Ingredients:

For the Sauce…

  • 20g gluten free flour
  • 200ml lactofree milk (or soy milk / dairy free milk)
  • 200ml veg stock  – cold (I used gf/df bouillon powder)
  • 20g dairy free spread (eg Vitalite)
  • 150g grated Lactofree cheese (* please note this cheese is not suitable for vegetarians)
  • black pepper to taste

Also…

  • 250g gluten free dried pasta
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 150g sliced button mushrooms
  • knob of dairy free spread
  • handful chopped spinach leaves
  • 250g halved pomodorino tomatoes (or just small / cherry tomatoes)
  • 100g grated Lactofree cheese for the top

 

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200C, and put a large pan of water on to boil (salt if you wish)
  • Use this time to chop/slice/weigh/grate…
  • Add your pasta to the boiling water (and boil for about 10-12 minutes, or until soft)
  • In a frying pan, melt knob of butter and fry onion & mushroom until just browned, then turn off the heat

Meanwhile make the Sauce…

  • In a jug add a little of the milk to the flour and whisk until there are no lumps
  • Add the rest of the milk and the cold stock and mix well
  • Pour into a cold saucepan, add the dairy free spread and heat gently, whisking frequently
  • Once mixture is almost boiling, mix in the cheese to melt, and bring to a very gentle simmer
  • Season to taste with black pepper, and simmer for a few minutes until thickened

Now for the Magic…

  • Once the pasta is soft, drain and return to the saucepan
  • Mix in the onion, mushroom, chopped spinach & cheese sauce
  • Spoon this all into oven proof dish (I like to use individual ‘pie’ dishes – or just use one large, preferably shallow one)
  • Layer the halved tomatoes on top, sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese, and pop in the oven
  • Bake for around 30 minutes, until bubbling, and cheese has turned a lovely golden brown
  • Serve with something naughty & comforting (I did chunky chips, skins on, seasoned with fresh rosemary…)

 

This was B’s idea tonight. I was going to do Spag Bol – I fancied something hot & pasta heavy; but this is B’s favourite and I haven’t made it for a while, so it was a no brainer! I got 3 very generous portions from the above quantities (greedy, gluttonous portions!).  The perfect meal for when you need something starchy & carb-heavy, with the added comfort of cheesiness! The only downside I can see to this is the washing up (thankfully, that’s B’s domain!) and the fact that you’ll burn your tongue again and again because it’s so delicious that you won’t have the patience to wait for it to cool before putting it in your mouth (think of the moth & the lightbulb from the kitkat advert…). Enjoy!

 

30 Minute Soul Food – Spicy Rice & Beans…

New home & new job has left my kitchenware feeling rather unloved.  My food processor is gathering dust and my matroyshka measuring cups have become mere ornaments to pretty up my kitchen.  My foot’s on the mend which means I’m out and about more now, and have less time to poke about in the kitchen like I did a few months ago.

Anyways, when there isn’t enough time to spend all day cooking, this one pot wonder is a life saver; throw everything in a pan, put the lid on it for a bit, then serve.  This is a real hug in a bowl, or a bowl full of hugs… Spicy, hearty, warming, stomach filling… I could go on!  And the end result is always delicious – slightly different every time I make it, but that’s the fun of it – it’s definitely food for the soul, and satisfying enough for times when you’re feeling greedy.  Enough rambling, here’s (roughly) how I make my Spicy Rice & Beans…

One Pot Wonder!

totally warming food for the soul!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1 large red chilli, sliced
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed / finely chopped
  • 1 400g tin red kidney beans – drained & rinsed
  • 1 400g tin black eyed beans – drained & rinsed (or any other bean you fancy! Adzuki works well!)
  • 1/2 cup frozen sliced green beans
  • 225g long grain rice
  • 750ml vegetable stock (preferably hot)
  • 100g tomato puree
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep pan and add the onion & pepper – fry on a fairly high heat for around 5 minutes until the onion starts to brown
  2. Turn down the heat, add the garlic, chilli, paprika, smoked paprika & chilli powder and fry for a further minute
  3. Throw in your canned beans, frozen beans, hot stock, tomato puree and cayenne – mix well and bring to the boil
  4. Stir in the rice, cover and simmer gently for around 20 minutes (until water has been absorbed and rice is tender)
  5. That’s it – serve, and enjoy!

See, I said it was easy.  If this isn’t comfort food then I don’t know what is.  Best of all, it lends itself to whatever fresh/frozen ingredients you’ve got lying around – perfect for one of those ‘emptying the fridge’ days.  If you’ve only got one tin of beans, add more veg; I’ve made it with carrot, courgette, sometimes mushrooms – and I’ve even been known to throw in a diced potato.  Yes, I make it that often!

The above quantities will make 3-4 portions (generously) as a stand-alone main dish. Use common sense; if you need to feed more people, add more stuff! If anyone tries it, I’d love to hear how yours turns out!

MeatFreeMonday: Paella Baby!

Wow, what a one-pot-wonder! This recipe is full of flavour, what a way to kickstart the week!  I’ve tried my hand at making paella before, but it was less than amazing.  I wanted to try again because I’m always drawn to the lively colours, and it’s rice – I love rice!  Looking back, my first paella fail was probably down to me over-complicating it, because tonight this was so easy and quick to make!

Here’s the recipe, it’s vegan and gluten free!

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

160g spiced tofu, chopped (I used this one by Cauldron and it was fantastic)

200g paella rice

170g chopped mushrooms

2 green peppers, sliced (I only had green peppers here, any colour is great)

1 carrot, diced

1 medium courgette, diced

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

750ml vegetable stock

pinch of saffron (about 1/8 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons paprika (you could use smoked, but maybe use less of it)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup of frozen peas (or fresh if you have them)

3 spring onions, sliced

juice of 1 lime

 

Method:

  • Add the saffron to the hot vegetable stock in a jug or a bowl and leave to infuse
  • In a large deep pan, heat the oil over medium/high heat
  • Add the tofu, mushrooms, carrot, celery, courgette and green peppers and heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring and shaking every so often as it simmers
  • Stir in the garlic and chilli and leave for about 10 seconds
  • Add the stock (with saffron) and keep the heat high, bringing it to the boil
  • Stir in the paprika and cayenne
  • Once boiling, stir in the rice, cover and keep on a medium heat to a fast simmer for 18 minutes until the rice is tender and almost all of the water has been absorbed (don’t poke about with it during this time or the rice will release it’s starch and you’ll end up with risotto!)
  • Open the lid, put the peas evenly on top of the paella, then re-cover and allow them to steam for 1-2 minutes
  • Take off the heat, stir in the lime juice and spring onions, and serve!

The above quantities came out with 3 generous portions. Simple! This is definitely my new favourite one-pot-wonder, it even had B’s seal of approval (and he’s a proper carnivore!).  You could change up the vegetables and use whatever you fancy or whatever you have to hand – throw in some tomatoes, maybe some green beans – I’d definitely use the Cauldron tofu again, it’s marinated and lightly spiced so goes really well in this dish.  Happy Meatless Monday everyone!

 

 

MeatFreeMonday: Sweet Potato Tacos (gluten, dairy free!)

I haven’t been around here much lately.  Things have been a bit crazy with househunting and one thing and another, but tonight I made Tacos that I just had to share with the world.  They were born from the simple fact that I had sweet potatoes in the cupboard that needed eating.  I’d like to say I made my own taco shells, but I didn’t.  B found the corn shells we bought on offer when they fell out of the cupboard this morning – so the decision was made, we were having sweet potato tacos for dinner!

They were sweet, tangy, creamy, and spicy all at the same time.  As well as being stupidly easy to make, they are healthy and filling too.  Here’s how I made the filling for roughly 8 tacos…

 

Ingredients:

3 small-medium sweet potatoes

400g tin white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

50g frozen spinach

1 red onion, chopped

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 red chilli, sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/4 tsp each of: paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder

freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used about 1/8 tsp)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp ground flax seed

8 gluten free taco shells

 

Method:

  • Peel and roughly chop the sweet potatoes
  • Place them in a bowl, cover, and microwave for approx 7 mins, checking half way through – cook until tender
  • Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat the onion and green pepper in a little oil until they soften (a few minutes)
  • Add the garlic, chilli, spinach and beans to the pan, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes (until the beans are soft and the spinach has defrosted)
  • Add the cooked sweet potato to the pan, along with the spices, flax seed & oil
  • Mash the mixture together with a potato masher until the potato & beans are fairly smooth, don’t worry about the odd lump & bump, then turn off the heat
  • Heat the taco shells in the microwave for around 1 minute 30 seconds
  • That’s it – serve! Add salad, cheese, salsa, guacamole or anything else as desired – we had naked tacos – just the above mixture inside corn shells, and they were amazing

 

So there you have a satisfying taco filling – tasty and healthy, and no need for any micro-protein-pretend-beef-mince.  Happy Meat-free-Monday everyone!

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese (gluten & dairy free!)

Spag Bol, as it’s commonly known here, is a classic.  It’s simple, and everyone loves it.  I’ve often heard Gino D’acampo say that in Italy, you won’t have spaghetti with bolognese – but since I can’t seem to get gluten free tagliatelle, or fettuccine, gluten free spaghetti will have to do.  And it does, quite nicely!

Truthfully, I had never eaten spaghetti bolognese until I met B  7 years ago, and then, it meant frying some beef mince and onion, stirring in a jar of sauce, and putting it on some spaghetti.  If that sounds like your version, next time you’re at the shop, instead of buying that jar of ‘sauce’, just pick up a carton of tomato passata.  It couldn’t be simpler to make it from scratch, and surely far cheaper than buying a gluten free sauce.

I’ve been off work for a little while with a bad foot, so I seem to have watched a lot of daytime TV, and have picked up some tips too.  Gino alwas says that you never put the sauce on top of the pasta; you always put the pasta into the sauce. This might well be common knowledge, but it’s not the way I used to do it, and it seems to make on hell of a difference!  Anyway, I know most people have their own recipe for this family favourite, but incase, like me, you’d always made it using a jar of sauce, here’s my ridiculously easy yet amazingly tasty version of ‘Spag Bol”…

Ingredients:

250g lean beef mince

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

4 mini portabella mushrooms, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and pressed / finely chopped

500g tomato passata (sieved tomatoes, from a carton)

1 whole dried bay leaf

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp each of dried oregano, dried basil, dried parsley

250g gluten free spaghetti (I used corn)

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, add about 1tbsp olive oil to the mince, and break it up with the back of a spoon, while on a low heat
  • Once the mince has started to brown, add the onion, mushrooms and red pepper
  • Once the veggies have softened and the mince is pretty much cooked, add the garlic and stir through
  • Now add the passata, and turn up the heat to bring it to a simmer
  • Mix in the black pepper, oregano and basil, and bury the bayleaf, whole, in the sauce
  • Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes (add the parsley in for the last 5 minutes of cooking)
  • Meanwhile put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta (I don’t salt my water; I don’t see the need, but do so if you must)
  • Put your spaghetti into the boiling water, and cook for 8-9 minutes, until it is ‘al dente’ – cooked but firm
  • Drain your spaghetti, and put it into your bolognese sauce, mixing well
  • Give your spaghetti about a minute to soak up some sauce, then serve and enjoy!

Easy! So that’s how I do it.  I get 3 good servings from this, so it feeds me and B, with leftovers for his lunch tomorrow.  I use dried herbs, but if you have fresh to hand then use those instead.  One day I’ll have a little herb garden up and running, but until then, my dried herbs will serve me well.

Cocoa-Coconut-Cupcakes! (gluten & dairy free!)

Cocoa-Coconut-Cupcakes! (gluten & dairy free!)

Everybody needs cheering up on a Monday, don’t they?  B’s been feeling under the weather, so I decided to make yet more cakes in an attempt to perk him up.

I used up all the nuts in the cakes I made the other day, so I raided the cupboards and decided on a mixture of Cocoa Powder and Creamed Coconut (I but the Patak’s sachets of creamed coconut which is solid and then I chop it).  Here’s what came out of the oven:

And here’s how I made it…

Ingredients:

125g gluten free self raising flour (I used Dove’s Farm)

125g brown sugar

50g dairy free margarine (I used Vitalite)

25g Cocoa Powder (the Green & Black’s that was in my cupboard)

3 free range eggs (small to medium sized)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lactofree milk or milk substitute

1 tsp gluten free baking powder

50g creamed coconut (chopped)

Easy Peasy Method:

  • Measure out your dry ingredients and mix them together in a bowl
  • Add your wet ingredients and mix well until there are no lumps and you have a nice thick batter
  • Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases, fairly full
  • Bake for around 20 minutes at 190 degrees C
  • Try not to burn your fingers when you try to eat them straight from the oven!

The chopped creamed coconut left lovely gooey chunks of coconutty goodness through the cakes – you can see it in the pic here:

This mixture made about 15 small cakes.  15 small cakes, for 2 people… all this baking can’t bee good for the waistline.  It’s just me and B here, and we live about an hour away from family… so whatever I make in this kitchen, gets eaten in this kitchen.  Oh well, that’s a dilemma for another day, these cakes brightened up my Monday and that’s all that counts!

The Versatile Blogger Award – sharing the love!

I woke up to a lovely message today, telling me I’d been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award! How lovely is that!

 

Huge thanks to Liz at just another day out west for nominating me for the award.  It really made me smile!  I came across the blog by chance when searching through posts tagged ‘gluten free’, and it’s lovely to read about her idyllic lifestyle and beautiful horses!

Rules are rules; now I need to share with you 7 random pieces of information! Here goes…

  1. I’m 23 years old
  2. I have a 4 year old rescue dog named Jeremy, he’s a Lhasa Apso who loves the sound of his own voice!
  3. I live with B, my fiance, who is 6’5″ tall (77 inches)
  4. I am only 5′ tall… (60 inches)
  5. I’ve been gluten free since January 2011
  6. You will often find me in the kitchen with a glass of wine – it gets the creative juices flowing
  7. I’ve not cut my hair since November 2010

On with the show! Below (in no particular order) are the 7 bloggers I’ve chosen to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award:

If the 7 bloggers above want to share the love, too, here are the VBA rules:

1. In a post on your blog, nominate 7 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

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