Many of you are asking me for gluten free recipes and substitutions. Chickpea Flour is my newest gluten free favorite! With an earthy, sweet taste, this gluten free flour creates delicious pizza dough, muffins, cakes and sweet potato falafel balls!
Chickpea flour gets sticky. Be sure to wet hands before trying to mold it and grease your baking vessels well before baking. It will stick!
Supercharged Sweet Potato Balls
3 sweet potatoes, peeled (see directions)
1/2 cup kale, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup chickpea flour
1 tbsp. Cumin
1 tbsp. Brown sugar
1 tbsp. Chia seeds
1 tbsp. Sesame seeds
(Long method, shorter method, shortest method.) Bake peeled sweet potatoes for 1 hour at 400 degrees and mash or microwave peeled potatoes 10-12 minutes and mash or mash drained potatoes from the can.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix in kale, flour, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
Wet hands and roll mixture into 1 inch balls.
Sprinkle on chia seeds and sesame seeds.
Spray baking sheet with Pam.
Bake for 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees or until the sweet potato firms.
Back to school for a mom of a preschooler and a half-day kindergartener means pick ups and drop offs all day long. Other than 4pm-5pm, there is little time to prep and cook dinner! Oh yeah, and on Mondays with baseball at 4:30 and dance at 5, there is absolutely no time!
On these busy days, a crockpot meal is a perfect option! And Mexican is healthy and super easy in the crockpot! Throw in frozen chicken or beef, pork, with the ingredients that you have onions, peppers, corn, beans, taco seasoning, salsa, etc. Let it cook for the day and your crockpot mixture is ready to be stuffed into fresh tortillas!
1 lb. Frozen boneless chicken (use any meat or no meat!)
1 35oz. can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup taco seasoning (you can substitute chili powder)
1/2 cup salsa
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can black beans
1 8oz. bag frozen corn
10 of your favorite tortilla shells
For extra spice, add 1 tbsp. Of cayenne pepper and 1-2 tbsp. Red pepper flakes and/or chopped habanero peppers.
Additions: Making burritos? Add quinoa or rice-1 cup uncooked.
Throw it all in and cook all day 8 hours + on low or 4-6 hours on high!
Chicken and pork will shred easily with a fork.
Chop fresh tomato, lettuce.
Top with sour cream, shredded chihuahua cheese and guacamole.
The ingredients can vary based on your family’s preferences!
Don’t mess with my sauce! For those of us who make homemade pasta sauce, more than likely, we are in agreement about one thing: Our sauce is the best sauce. Whether it’s grandma’s recipe, Giada’s recipe, or from the internet ; ), we take possession and will defend our sauce anyday, anytime. Back up.
Ok, maybe too strong.
So many different recipes and ingredients all yield a great sauce! From crushed tomatoes, whole tomatoes, and San Marzano tomatoes, to veggies, meat, and spices, there are many different types of sauce and cooking variations.
I get many questions and comments regarding sauce do’s and dont’s. The latest question is “Should I brown my meat before putting it in the sauce?” Great question!
I don’t brown…but there are great reasons for both methods! Ground meatballs, Italian sausage, pork, or ox tail, can all be put directly into the sauce raw as long as you are cooking the sauce until the meat is cooked. I cook my sauce for approximately 4-6 hours.
Here are 5 observations I have made after trying both methods:
1. I love putting my round meatballs into the sauce and having them come out round! I have tried browning meatballs and it caused some kind of cone head problem. My meatballs ended up like triangles.
2. Cooking raw meat in the sauce for 4-6 hours creates the yummy tender tiny bites throughout that surprise our palates.
3. The carmelaization during browning will help hold together the meat as it cooks in the sauce.
4. Browning adds flavor and texture to the meat.
5. The fat can be drained after browning. Shhhh! (The fat adds and irreplicable flavor!!)
Of course, both methods are great! I encourage you to try them, get creative, and don’t forget to add fresh grated Parm!
I absolutely love fish tacos, any kind of tacos, and I’m always searching for the best! Between Penn Ave Fish Company’s fish tacos and Edgar’s Taco stand’s Carne Asada tacos, I am a happy girl.
I eat some form of taco every time I’m in the Strip District! (And Penn Mac olives and cheese and La Prima coffee and Colangelos pizza and Pittsburgh Popcorn Company) Yikes!
Anyway, every fish taco is different; made with different fish, cooked plain or spicy, stuffed with lettuce or cabbage, and the list goes on. Penn Ave Fish Company uses a variety of fish, boiled in onion water, totally spicy, stuffed with cabbage, topped with tomatoes…and they are delicious!
I visited my fish mongers at Penn Avenue Fish Company and told them, for Fish Week on the blog, I wanted to make amazing fish tacos like the ones they make everyday! They chopped fresh grouper, salmon, and tuna, ready to cook. This saved me the fish choosing process, of which I am totally clueless, and the chopping time for sure! This is why you need a good fish monger!
Penn Avenue Fish-ish Fish Tacos
(makes 6ish tacos)
1-1/2 lbs. chopped tuna, grouper, and salmon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp. taco seasoning
4 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup chunky medium salsa (I used Ortega)
2 tbsp. Sriracha sauce
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 chopped tomato
6 tortilla shells
Fill a pot with water and chopped onions.
Bring to a boil.
Cook until the chopped fish floats (5-8 mins, not long!)
Remove fish with a slotted spoon to drain water.
Place fish in a mixing bowl and coat with taco seasoning while warm.
Mix together the sour cream, salsa, and sriracha in a small bowl.
Fill the tortilla shells with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, fish and sauce! Sprinkle some cilantro!
Ever hear of Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch? If you are worried about seafood safety, this is your app! Whether you are buying fresh fish or ordering in a restaurant, the Seafood Watch app recommends ocean friendly seafood and gives up to date information regarding how each item should be fished or farmed.
My fish mongers at Penn Avenue Fish Company in Pittsburgh’s Strip District introduced me to this cool app! Have you found your fish monger, yet?
Enjoy another easy fish week dinner! On the table in 30 minutes!!
2 cups shrimp, cleaned and deveined.
1 35 oz. can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 tbsp. chopped thyme
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 15oz. can white cannellini beans
2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes ( and a little extra to sprinkle on top)
Heat olive oil in your deepest frying pan on medium heat.
Add garlic, onions, pepper and cook for a few minutes to soften the veggies.
Add tomatoes, shrimp, beans, herbs, and spices.
Cook until shrimp are cooked through -approximately 7 minutes with the lid on. The shrimp will lose their translucency and pink/whiten up when cooked.
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained, for 1-1/2 cup water.
Heat water and quinoa to a boil.
Simmer until liquid is absorbed.
Serve the shrimp jambalaya over the red quinoa and top with extra red pepper flakes for an extra kick!
Penn Avenue Fish Company
2208 Penn Ave. in the Strip
Why are we scared of fish? Is it our lack of fish knowledge? Our ability to overcook fish EVERY TIME!? (Yep, this was me!)
Meet Henry Dewey, co-founder of Pittsburgh’s hip fish market/restaurant Penn Avenue Fish Company! Pittsburgh is lucky to have Henry and his team of fish mongers!
Henry explained that everyone needs a knowledgeable fish monger to navigate them through the fish buying ocean. “Find someone you can trust,” Dewey says, “and build a loyal relationship.” That way, there is no question about the origination or freshness of the fish.
Grilled Foil Packet Tilapia
1lb 8oz.-or 6 count tilapia fillets (thawed if fresh frozen)
1 large tomato chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roasted (foil packet on grill for 3- 5 mins. during grill heat up) and finely chopped
4 tbsp. olive oil
6 very small, thin pats of butter
Freshly grated parmesan
Heat grill to medium heat 300-350 degrees.
Place tilapia fillets on 6 aluminum foil sheets large enough to fold and seal.
Top each fillet with 1/2 olive oil, 1 small pat of butter, 1/6 chopped tomatoes, 1/6 roasted garlic,a shake of freshly grated parmesan, salt and pepper.
Fold foil to seal packets.
Place packets on the grill for 5-7 minutes or until the fish flakes and turns white, losing its translucency. (I guess that’s a word! Ha!)
Spicy Grilled Green Beans
Mix one pound of fresh green beans with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, and 1 tbsp. Sriracha in a Ziploc bag.
Coat the beans in the bag.
Place beans evenly on your grill’s vegetable grate or foil.
Cook for 5 -7mins. or until cooked and hot, but still crunchy.
Stop in and try the fish tacos! The kids and I think they are the best in the Burgh!
2208 Penn Ave. in the Strip!
Fruit and vegetable infused water hydrates in the heat while adding a flavor burst. Water is essential, but so so boring!! Why not jazz it up? As a healthy alternative to sugary drinks, fruit and veggie infused water has found itself at the top of diet plans and cleanses. It’s sexy, it’s “in.” Well, for right now!
With combinations like carrot-ginger and pear-cucumber-mint, anything goes! Try different flavor combinations or do what I did and use what you have in the refrigerator!
Here is the recipe:
Peach Raspberry Mint Infused Water
2 quarts of water
3 peaches sliced
1/2 cup of raspberries
1/4 cup mint
Chill for at least 8 hours!
Enjoy! Experiment! Please share your favorite flavor combinations!
Sometimes I only have 20 minutes to cook dinner! A quick San Marzano tomato pan sauce mixed with cooked pasta is quick, light, and delicious! In the summertime, I include fresh vegetables and fresh herbs! Here is one of my favorite summertime dishes!
The key to a great tasting quick pan sauce is getting the acidity out of the veggies by tossing them with olive oil and garlic before adding them to the tomatoes.
Simply adding squash and zucchini to the tomatoes creates a sour taste. Follow these simple steps and your simple pan sauce will be transformed into a gourmet dinner!
Summer San Marzano Veggie Pasta
1 yellow squash, chopped into quartered rounds
1 zucchini, chopped into quartered rounds
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped kale
2 35 oz. cans San Marzano tomatoes
1 tbsp. fresh chopped basil
1 tbsp. fresh chopped rosemary
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb. of your favorite pasta
Heat olive oil in your largest, deepest frying pan on low to medium heat, and add pressed garlic.
Add squash and zucchini, cook until slightly softened but still firm.
Add kale, basil and rosemary and coat with liquid.
Mix in tomatoes and heat through.
Cook pasta according to package in a separate pot of boiling water until al dente.
Add pasta to sauce and mix well.
Always top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Want to add meat?
The addition of chopped bacon, italian sausage, or ham adds another layer of flavor! Experiment!
Sometimes lettuce is overrated. Although I am a sucker for traditional leaf lettuce, spring mix, “rabbit food” salads, I always spice them up with fun toppings such as cranberry, pecans, and crumbled blue cheese. Need a salad change? Hold the lettuce!
Perfect for entertaining, a veggie stack or veggie and cheese stack with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar is easier to serve and easier for your guests to eat!
Did you know cutting salad greens is a major dining etiquette no no? Proper salad eating etiquette is to shove the leafy lettuce in your mouth and chew with puffed cheeks while spatters of sticky dressing cover your entire mouth area, cheeks, and probably make their way up a nostril or two. Sounds perfectly proper to me! This comes from the past when knives were made from steel or iron and could react with the vinegar from the dressing. Today, cutting huge pieces of lettuce is acceptable one piece at a time; however, chopping your entire salad is still frowned upon.
Etiquette expert Nancy R. Mitchell, The Etiquette Advocate, shows us how…
Here is a basic Caprese salad I love to serve because it looks beautiful and tastes delicious!
Tomato Mozzarella Caprese Salad
Makes 6 individual salads
5 vine ripe tomatoes, slices 1/4 inch thick
1-1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella sliced 1/4 inch thick.
12 fresh basil leaves
Olive oil to drizzle
Course salt and pepper
Layer the slices starting with the mozzarella, following with a tomato, and then a basil leaf.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper!
Eggs plus flour plus water equals homemade pasta! Surprised? The ingredients are extremely basic. The process takes practice, and a whole lotta patience!
I am very “old school,” so everyone says, and old school ravioli making involves a hard surface, eggs-flour-water, a hand crank pasta machine, some filling, a knife, and a fork. I do not use pasta making KitchenAid attachments or ravioli cutters. I’m so fancy. Ha!
Kale Ricotta Ravioli
Makes approx. 3 dozen 3″X 3″ ravioli
3 cups flour
1/2 cup water
Extra flour for surface.
2 cups ricotta
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup kale, finely chopped
Clean your work surface. If it is porous, cover it with waxed paper.
Wash your hands!
Crack the eggs on top of the flour pile and mix with your hands using a squeezing molding motion.
Add water 1 tbsp. at a time and continue kneading until a dough ball forms.
If the dough is sticky, add 1 -2 tbsp. flour. If the dough is dry and cracked looking, add water 1-2 tbsp. at a time.
This is the trickiest part. I always keep a pile of flour and a a little bowl of water right on the work surface. So many external factors are involved with dough making including humidity and air temperature.
When you feel that the dough ball is malleable and well mixed, break off a handful of dough and flatten it into an oval.
Sprinkle some flour on the pasta machine and work surface.
Starting at #1 setting, feed the dough through the machine while turning the crank in one fluid motion. Repeat at #3 and finish on #6.
(I have the craziest pasta machine ever! The numbers are backwards, so I start with #7. Took me minute to figure it out!)
Place 1 tbsp. of filling on the dough approx. 1 inch apart.
Fold the dough over and press finger between filling.
Cut with a knife into squares.
Press and seal the raviolo’s edges with a fork.
Add the ravioli to salted boiling water and remove with a slotted spoon when the ravioli are floating.