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ITALIAN TOMATO AND SPINACH SOUP

There are I believe, 2 or 3 tomato soup recipes on this blog….one of my favorite soups!

Recently we had dinner at a local gluten free restaurant that served one of the best Italian tomato soups I have ever had.  It was rich, full of flavor, and tasted almost like an Italian marinara soup.  I started asking questions about the soup….the only seasonings they would share with me was basil and oregano.  I could not taste the oregano at all, and was a bit stumped as to what exactly was in this soup.  They also served it with chunks of feta cheese in the bowl of soup.

Well, I decided to create my own Italian Tomato Spinach Soup Recipe.  Of course, this is a soup that would be even better in the height of summer…but for me, tomato soup is a craving all year round.   Like other tomato soup recipes on this blog, it begins with roasted garlic and tomatoes.  Homemade chicken stock is a must here.  Although not quite the same as the restaurant’s soup, it was still mighty tasty.  We had this with Gluten Free Toasted Parmesan Cheese Garlic Baguette (Baguette by Udi’s)

16 ripe medium to large sized tomatoes

1 whole bulb of garlic, split into cloves, skin on

drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp. dried Basil

salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and then cut again – about 2 inch pieces and add to a roasting pan.  Add the whole bulb of garlic cloves, add seasonings, salt and pepper with a drizzle of EVOO to lightly coat. Toss to combine, and roast in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Remove the skins from the garlic, scrape up any brown bits in the pan and transfer to a good sized bowl.  I used a stick blender to puree the mixture well.  Refrigerate.

3 cups homemade chicken stock

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 &  1/2 celery stalks, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

salt and pepper

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. ground fennel

1  28 gram package of fresh basil, finely minced (about 1/2 cup firmly packed)

fresh baby spinach

freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

In a good sized saute pan, drizzle the EVOO and place on low medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, dried basil, and ground fennel.  Saute about 5 minutes to sweat out.

Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, lid on and cook about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Remove from the heat, and allow to sit at least 15 minutes to start to cool down.  Add the pureed tomatoes and garlic, then with a stick blender puree the vegetables.   Add fresh chopped basil and bring back to a light simmer.  To serve, add a small handful of fresh baby spinach to the bottom of your bowl, ladle in the hot soup and top with grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese.

Parmesan Cheese Garlic Bread:

2 Udi’s French Baguettes sliced length wise

2 finely minced garlic cloves

1 Tblsp. finely minced Italian flat leaf parsley

4 Tblsp. butter

Add butter to a sauce pan and add in the finely minced garlic.  Keep on a very low simmer for about 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let sit about 5 minutes.  Add in the finely minced parsley stirring to mix.

Toast the Baguettes under the broiler until golden.  Remove from the oven and brush on the garlic parsley butter.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, then return to the oven, just to melt the cheese.

Serve with your favorite soup.

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GLUTEN FREE RAMEN NOODLE STIR FRY

We love Chinese food inspired dishes in this household.  Having given up Chinese Food many years ago, it was such a delight to find actual Gluten Free Ramen Noodles – at Costco no less!

Millet & Brown Rice Ramen Noodles are from Lotus Foods Company – finally, a real gluten free ramen noodle – yayyy!  Perfect for chicken chow mein, or a Chinese vegetarian meal, they would also be a great addition to soups.  This evening we had teriaky marinated pork chops done on the grill – a perfect accompaniment.

I could eat this dish every day….especially since I usually cook Chinese Food only once in a long long while.  I am one of those people that loves Chinese food for breakfast….even cold! The best news?  These noodles cook in about 5 minutes.  With a quick stir fry of vegetables….dinner is served.

1  cup broccoli florets cut small with stalk – diced

1 celery stalk finely sliced

4 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp. Toasted Sesame Seed Oil

1 small onion, diced

one inch piece of ginger finely diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

15 snow peas

4 crimini mushrooms, halved then sliced

3 cups fresh bean sprouts, rinsed well

1  1/2 cups chicken stock, save a small amount for a cornstarch slurry

2-3 tblsp. gluten free soy sauce – taste first

1 tblsp. rice wine vinegar

cornstarch

3 gluten free ramen cakes

Heat up a good sized cast iron frying pan on medium high heat with the EVOO and toasted Sesame Seed Oil. (by the way, my cast iron frying pan is still going strong with the last seasoning I did -  and well used in the last 4 months!)  Saute the mushrooms until golden, turn the heat down to medium low, adding in the onions, garlic and ginger.  Continue to saute – about 3 minutes.  Add in the broccoli and celery, continue to saute about 5 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar bringing to a low simmer – lid on, about 3 minutes,  to cook the broccoli through.  Then add in the snow peas, and bean sprouts, tossing to combine, sauteing about 2 minutes.  Add in the corn starch slurry, stirring well to thicken slightly.  Check for seasonings and if necessary add in another tablespoon of soy sauce.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of 6 cups of water to the boil.  Add in the Ramen Noodles – once back to boiling, gently separate with a fork, and continue to cook on a good boil for 4 more minutes stirring from time to time with a fork.  Drain and rinse in cool water.  Then add to the vegetable stir fry mixing well to heat through.  Serve immediately with any other side and main dish.

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WEST COAST TRAIL COOKIES

I have heard from many a backpacker/hiker that our stunning West Coast Trail is not for the faint of heart, however, it is also considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world.  It is a hiking trail with miles of rugged beaches and forests, that many people have done more than once in their lifetime.  If you would like more information on this amazing West Coast experience you can check here.  Check out the West Coast Trail Gallery…the pictures are fabulous!

The original recipe for West Coast Trail Cookies came from a newspaper article I had read.  It has taken me months to finally get down to converting it to Gluten Free.  They are a cookie I have never tried before, so I was not really sure what to expect.  My Dtr. has tried the original version….she assures me these are most worthy to be classified as a Gluten Free West Coast Trail Cookie.  They are a hearty, dense, flavorful cookie that would make a great breakfast cookie, as well as giving you a good boost of energy for those many miles of hiking.

Dry ingredients:

2 cups Organic Quinoa Flakes

3/4 cup Tapioca Starch

2/3 cup Sorghum Flour

just under 1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour

1 tsp. Xanthan Gum

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1 rounded tsp. dried Ginger

2 tblsp. ground Flax meal

pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

1 cup of butter

2 large organic eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup organic coconut sugar

Fruit/nuts/seeds:

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone pad or parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy.  Add in the sugar and continue to beat until incorporated.  Then add in the eggs and vanilla – beat for another 3-4 minutes until well combined, then set aside.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients, mixing well.  In a smaller bowl combine the fruit, nuts and seeds.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet – mixing well.  This is a very thick, sticky batter – keep mixing with a wooden spoon until combined.  Then add in the fruit, nuts, and seeds, mixing until incorporated.

Keep a bowl of water on hand to dip your fingers in to keep your hands moist so the batter will not stick to your hands.  Roll the dough to a good 1 inch size, and then press down with a fork to flatten to 1/2 inch disk.

Bake 18-20 minutes – this will make about 40 cookies.  Great for a good hike, or for a mid afternoon snack, or a good start to your day…enjoy!

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PAN FRIED WHITE FISH WITH A TARRAGON PARSLEY WHITE WINE SAUCE

This easy pan fried fresh gray cod was a lovely dinner enhanced by a tasty Tarragon Parsley White Wine Sauce.  When using a white fish such as cod, halibut, or snapper just about any herb sauce will enhance the delicate flavors of the fish. (make the Tarragon Parsley White Wine Sauce first, and keep on [...]

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GLUTEN FREE RICE A RONI

This gluten free side dish – Rice a Roni, makes a nice change to every day rice or potatoes.  It is a dish I have been making for years, following Bette Hagman’s recipe from her cook book “The Gluten-free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy”.  So, I decided to change things up and create my own [...]

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THE VERY VERY BEST WAY TO SEASON CAST IRON PANS

In previous posts, I have written about how to season your cast iron frying pans.  I had always used oils such as:  grape seed, olive oil, coconut oil, and even tried using rendered duck fat.  While these oils did work – they were very temporary.  It seemed the frying pan was constantly needing to be [...]

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TURKEY PESTO MEATBALLS

If you read my blog, you will have read many a time that we do love meatballs of any kind in this household.  You could use ground chicken or ground beef in this recipe – we like to use ground turkey when we can get it.  It makes for a nice change, and is not [...]

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GLUTEN FREE HARVARD BEETS

Do you love beets?  We have always loved beets in this household.  Back in the day, I used to buy canned Harvard Beets – thinking they were divine.  However, when you look at the ingredients and it says “modified cornstarch”, that is definitely a no go in any gluten free household.  In Canada, fortunately all [...]

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A FESTIVE BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BROCCOLI RICE CASSEROLE

This was a dish that sort of evolved as I was making it – without really thinking about the ingredients, all of a sudden I realized this would be a great Vegetarian side dish for the  holidays – Thanksgiving or Christmas.  We had this yummy dish on it’s own as a Vegetarian meal, however, it [...]

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HERB MARINATED PORK LOIN ROAST

This recipe is a slight variation from the pork loin roasts I usually make, so thought I would do this new post.  Rosemary is such a lovely herb with pork…but add in some fresh Sage and it creates another dimension of flavor – yum!  Once again, I forgot to take a picture when it came [...]