Thursday, February 28, 2013

Quinoa-Parmesan Chicken

I was perusing one of my favorite food magazines, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and knew as soon as I read this recipe for Quinoa-Crusted Chicken that I had to try it.  I've tried a variety of gluten-free breadcrumb brands and even made my own a couple times, but I'd never even thought of the concept of using a gluten-free grain as a breadcrumb substitute!

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I modified the recipe a bit, combining the toasted quinoa above with lots of grated Parmesan cheese and some roasted garlic & herb seasoning to make a breading blend.

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I chose to use thin-cut chicken breasts for two reasons - I thought they'd cook up more evenly, and they were on sale - always a big influence on what I buy in the meat department.

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After just 20 minutes in the oven, they were golden and delicious!  

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The quinoa definitely added major crunch to the cutlets, not quite the same kind of crunch as breadcrumbs as the grains are obviously a bit denser than bread would be, but really good.  The microwaved leftover cutlet I had for lunch at the office the next day wasn't as crunchy, but also was not soggy at all, unlike regular breaded cutlets after a trip through the microwave.

The only time-consuming part of this recipe was toasting the quinoa, which takes about half an hour, and you could always do that ahead of time to make for a super quick, healthy weeknight dinner.

Quinoa-Parmesan Chicken 

(lightly adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray)

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 package thin-cut chicken breasts (4 count, approx 1 pound)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp roasted garlic & herb seasoning (or seasoning blend of choice)

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Spread quinoa out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden and crispy, about 30 minutes.  Once quinoa is done, increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Combine toasted quinoa, Parmesan and seasoning blend on a plate.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and coat with the Dijon mustard.  Press chicken into breading mixture on both sides and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake chicken for 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Healthy Gluten-Free Breakfast: Overnight Oats & Quinoa

If you read blogs at all, you've probably heard of overnight oats - they seem to pop up everywhere these days.  I recently changed my workout schedule to first thing in the morning and I needed a quick and easy breakfast, so I decided to finally give them a shot myself.  The first morning I was eating them, though, Hubs made a very good point - he asked, "where's the protein?"  Protein is a really important part of a filling breakfast, plus it's essential for workout recovery.

Enter quinoa!  It has a very high protein content, and I've seen lots of quinoa breakfast recipes.  So I decided to see how it turned out if I used a combination of gluten-free rolled oats and quinoa in my overnight breakfast concoction. 

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I just eyeball what I put in there, so the ingredient amounts are an estimate - but I think it would be pretty hard to mess this one up.  The night before, I just spoon some raw rolled gluten-free oats and cooked quinoa into a big lidded mug, then add some flax, cinnamon, unsweetened almond milk and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Then I pop on the lid, put it in the fridge, and the next morning it's transformed!

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I find that I don't like them super cold, so I usually microwave them for 30 seconds to a minute after pulling them out of the fridge to take the chill off.  Then I add mix-ins to give it some interest - my current combination of choice is fresh blueberries, unsweetened coconut flakes and sliced almonds.

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It's tasty, high in protein, and filling - and only takes a couple minutes of prep.  Definitely my new healthy breakfast of choice for weekday mornings!

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Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup gluten-free raw rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, or milk of choice
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (use less or skip if using sweetened milk alternative)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax 
  • Optional mix-ins for added texture/flavor: fresh berries, coconut flakes, nuts

Directions

The night before, stir together everything except the mix-ins.  Tightly cover and store in fridge.  The next morning, uncover and microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute if desired, and add the mix-ins and stir it all together.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Meal PlanGot a few new products and recipes on the menu this week!  Especially excited about tonight’s quinoa-crusted chicken dinner, if it works out as well as the recipe reviews say. 

Monday

  • Quinoa-Crusted Chicken (this was on the menu for this past weekend, ended up postponing it)
  • Broccoli
  • Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

  • Baked Split Chicken Breasts
  • Zucchini Casserole
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sunday

  • Pasta & Meat Sauce
  • Green Salad

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Favorite New Gluten-Free Breakfast Treat

This morning I decided I wanted to do something a little different for our Sunday breakfast than gluten-free pancakes, so I turned to my Evernote Food cookbook for a little inspiration and stumbled across a recipe from I’m a Celiac that I had clipped a couple weeks ago – Bacon Ranch Cheddar Puffs.

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It was a total home run – easy to put together, quick baking time and minimal mess.  And the result was almost exactly like the biscuits I so fondly remember from my past, with the added bonus of bacon and cheese already mixed in!

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It only takes a few ingredients – head over to I’m a Celiac to get the recipe – and it took me less than 10 minutes prep to get them into the oven.  I ended up adding a splash more milk than Pam’s recipe called for, but I also shorted the ranch dressing a bit as I was using the end of my bottle.

I used center-cut bacon, Ken’s Ranch, and Sargento 4-State Cheddar (if you haven’t tried this cheese yet, put it on your shopping list – it is easily the best shredded cheddar we’ve tried).

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I used my cookie dough scoop to portion them out easily and quickly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  It made exactly a dozen.

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After just a few minutes in the oven, we had hot, fresh biscuit puffs! 

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They were amazing when they were hot, and later on I snacked on them cold and they were still really good.  I’m definitely going to be making these regularly, and I’m looking forward to playing around with other mix-ins.

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Thanks, Pam, for coming up with this genius recipe!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Gluten-Free Universal Studios: Margaritaville

I saved my favorite gluten-free restaurant option at Universal Studios for last - Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville at Universal's Citywalk!  I told Hubs right away when we planned the trip that I wanted to visit, as I've heard so many good things about how gluten-free friendly they are - and they did not disappoint.

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What I found most exciting was that I would be able to eat normally there, because they carry gluten-free buns for their burgers AND have a dedicated fryer for their french fries.  I haven't had a burger on a bun in a restaurant in over two years, and french fries are a rare delicacy too since so many restaurants use shared fryers.

When we arrived, I asked if they had a gluten-free menu, and they immediately pulled it out.  I had a whole page of options, from appetizers to desserts.  

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I was surprised to see that there were even a couple margaritas available.  For those of you who may not know, sour mix often has gluten, so I usually avoid any cocktail with sour mix - but Jimmy Buffett knows what's up and uses the good stuff, apparently.

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This is the Who's to Blame margarita on the rocks, which is easily one of the best, if not the best, margarita I have ever had.  Perfect balance of sweet and tart, with a nice fine-grained salt on the rim.  Delicious!

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We ordered the chips and dip as a starter - we debated the nachos, which looked great, but ended up deciding it would be way too much for just two people.  Turns out, so were the chips and dips - it was a huge bowl of chips and two big bowls of salsa and fresh guacamole.  Really tasty, but we snacked on them for awhile before getting our entrees and I wished I'd saved more room for the amazingness that was coming our way...

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Cheeseburger in Paradise!  Juicy and massive, on a full-size gluten-free bun, and fresh piping hot crispy fries on the side.  The bun was actually pretty good, so I asked the waitress what brand the buns were, and she reported that they were Udi's brand, which just so happens to be carried in my local Publix.  Score!  Will definitely be buying a package for our next cookout.

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I did the best I could, but after the appetizer I couldn't even finish the burger, much less the fries.  But it was so good that I talked Hubs into going there for lunch on Sunday and we skipped the appetizers - it was even better on an empty stomach :)

Like all the other restaurants I've reviewed this week, it gets super crowded, but we were able to get "priority seating" by making a reservation using the OpenTable app.  If you're staying at an on-site hotel, showing your room key will also get you priority seating, so be sure to flash that if you have one!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Gluten-Free Friday: Three Bakers Hoagie Rolls

I recently got the opportunity to try Three Bakers products thanks to a referral from Pam over at I'm a Celiac - after reading her review, I very eagerly said yes when they reached out!  One of the products I was very eager to try was the hoagie rolls that Pam talked about - French bread pizzas are one of my favorite quick meals, and I haven't had much of an opportunity to enjoy them lately since gluten-free baguettes are hard to come by here in Vero Beach.

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So, of course the first meal I had to plan with them after they arrived was French bread pizzas!  I stored the rolls in the freezer, so I pulled them out and let them sit on the counter for an hour or so before slicing them in half lengthwise - there was a perfect little ridge that was an excellent guiding line for slicing.  I topped them with tomato sauce and shredded Italian cheese, then baked them in our toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the cheese was brown and bubbly.

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They came out so well!  The bread was dense enough to be a good base for a pizza, and nice and chewy.  Even gluten-eating Hubs gave it his approval - and he's super picky since he can eat real bread and pizza!

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My only recommendation would be if you make these pizzas, put them straight on the rack or just on top of a piece of foil - I put them on our toaster oven pan and they didn't get quite as crispy on the bottom as I think they would have without it.  

Three Bakers products can be purchased in their online store, or use their store locator to find them in a retail store near you.  I was very excited to see they are carried in lots of health food stores in towns just south of Vero Beach, like Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Jupiter - I definitely plan to seek them out on the way back from our next trip down to Palm Beach Gardens and stock up.

I also got the opportunity to try their stuffing mix - review coming next week!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gluten-Free Universal Studios: Mythos Restaurant

I figured eating inside the Universal Studios park might pose somewhat of a challenge, and thought we'd have to venture out to Citywalk to find a good place for lunch.  Thanks to the Find Me Gluten Free app, though, I was proven wrong!  I pulled it up when we were in the Islands of Adventure park and discovered that right around the corner there was a restaurant, Mythos, with a gluten-free menu and a great review.  We immediately made a reservation on Hubs' OpenTable app and headed that way.

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What a find!  Not only did they have a really diverse menu, the regular menu was clearly labeled with gluten-free options, and there were lots of choices available.

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It also had a pretty unique atmosphere - it was like eating in a giant cave.  We were in the Greek mythology section of the park, I think the theme idea was that it was carved out by the Greek gods.

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After much debate I ended up going for the Pad Thai with BBQ Plum Roasted Pork - it sounded delicious, and I hadn't had Thai food since our trip to Sawasdee back in Raleigh.  I double checked that the pork was indeed gluten free, and the server assured me that the only modification the dish needed was leaving off the crispy noodles.

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I was so pleasantly surprised when this arrived at the table - beautifully presented, with perfectly cooked rice noodles and juicy, flavorful pork.  It was a huge portion, though, and while I did my best to finish it, it just wasn't happening.  We were headed out to more rides, so I figured stuffing myself to the gills was not exactly the best idea.

We will definitely be returning on our next trip to Universal Studios - thanks, Find Me Gluten Free, for helping me find this place!






Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Gluten-Free Universal Studios: Emeril's Tchoup Chop

Our first meal at Universal Studios was definitely the fanciest - on Friday night we stayed at the Loewes Royal Pacific hotel, just a short walking path away from the Universal Studios park, and decided eating at the hotel would be our easiest option.  I called and talked to the hotel concierge, who said that any of their restaurants could accommodate a gluten-free diet.  After perusing my options online, I went for Emeril's Tchoup Chop, an Asian-Polynesian fusion restaurant - the menu looked amazing!

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They don't have a dedicated GF menu and my options were somewhat limited as their GF specialty items only extended as far as gluten-free soy sauce, but they were very accommodating and knowledgeable about the menu and we had an extremely satisfying meal.  We started with a simple, satisfying appetizer - the Hot Iron Seared In-Shell Edamame.  It was definitely not the basic dish you get at most sushi restaurants - I really enjoyed the extra flavor the searing added, and the spice mixture was finger-licking good!

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I had a lot of trouble deciding on an entree, but finally chose the Garlic Grilled Black Tiger Shrimp after seeing (and smelling) it at the table next to ours.  They couldn't do the noodle cake with it and had to substitute rice, but I was able to enjoy the absolutely delectable lemongrass infused wild mushroom crema sauce.  The shrimp was flavorful and perfectly cooked, the sauce was phenomenal, and the dish was beautifully presented.  I could not have been happier!

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Finally, dessert - like the appetizers, this area of the menu was a gluten minefield, but they did have a couple of options.  I went for the Homemade Tropical Sorbets, as our entrees had been pretty rich.  It was a great way to end the meal - light, cool and refreshing.

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If you're looking for a special-occasion restaurant at Universal Studios, I highly recommend Emeril's Tchoup Chop, it was a wonderful experience.  Make reservations, though - they fill up fast!  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Meal PlanIf you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you probably saw some of the pictures from my fun-filled weekend at Universal Studios.  I had many amazing gluten-free meals while there, and I plan to post about the various restaurants we tried this week.  But today is meal plan day - this week's plan was done very hastily in the car on the way home, since we wanted to stop for our weekly groceries before we got home and collapsed on the couch.

I'm excited about this week's plan because it involves trying some new products that were sent by Three Bakers, a brand that Pam over at I'm a Celiac recently reviewed.  I’m definitely looking forward to trying them for myself!

Monday

Tuesday

  • Pork Chops
  • Green Beans
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday

  • Fajita Chicken & Veggies
  • Mexican Rice

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Friday, February 15, 2013

Gluten-Free Friday: Udi's Bagels


Our new apartment has one major thing going for it - it's an entirely gluten-free zone.  This was something that I didn't do in our former house, choosing instead to just be very careful, but Hubs has gone along with it so I can keep my new toaster oven completely non-contaminated and not have to put everything on aluminum foil (which is awesome, because foil definitely interferes with proper toasting).

Since we made the transition, Hubs has also been a lot more amenable to trying out my gluten-free alternatives and has actually seemed to be fairly happy with it and has started exploring the gluten-free sections of our local stores.  On our last grocery trip he threw Udi's gluten-free bagels in the cart - as a former New Yorker he is a big fan of bagels for breakfast!


I haven't actually eaten a whole bagel on my own yet (they are massive), but I've tried a few bites of his and I have to admit they are pretty good!  I figure bagels, like pizza, are a hard one to imitate, since the best part about a good bagel is the chewiness that can only be provided by gluten.




These have some chewiness, but it's nothing like a real bagel.  It's definitely more roll than bagel, but I found it surprising how much chew they were able to get into it.  Also, this could be just our toaster, but they definitely went from toasted to burned very quickly, so watch them carefully!


At just over $4 for a 4-count package at my local Publix, they're not cheap, but when you think about what you'd pay at a bagel shop it's not too bad.  I think they would be great for sandwiches, especially if you like your sandwiches on the larger side - most gluten free rolls and sandwich breads tend to be pretty small.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Turkey Florentine Meatballs

We're all about the spinach and cheese in my house - I even won a Whole Foods contest this past summer with our signature Turkey Florentine burger recipe!  Since we've been doing the apartment living thing, however, grilling has become more of a special occasion thing rather than our go-to method of cooking.  Considering we now live in a climate very conducive to year-round grilling, it's been tough.

However, there is an up side - it's also forced me to get a little creative with cooking proteins indoors.  I was really craving our florentine burgers, so I decided to make it more indoor-friendly by turning it into a meatball recipe - with delicious results!  

I amped up the health factor by adding a ton of fresh spinach and baking them rather than cooking them in a pan with oil - not only healthier, but easier!  I also decided it would be a great opportunity to try out a new flavor of Tinkyada pasta I found online recently - spinach spaghetti!  Hubs was a bit wary of all the green, but honestly we couldn't tell a taste difference, it was great.  

Turkey Florentine Meatballs

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 package ground turkey (about 1.3 lbs)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 bag spinach
  • 1/3 cup shredded Italian cheese, plus a little extra for topping
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Gluten-free pasta, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with the olive oil, and place it in the oven while preheating.

Finely chop the spinach - I recommend using a food processor, but chopping by hand works too.  (Alternatively, you could use frozen spinach, just be sure to squeeze out as much water as you can).  Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl with your hands just until incorporated.

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Scoop out meatballs approximately the size of a ping-pong ball - I used my medium ice-cream scoop I use for cookies for easy portioning.  

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Place meatballs in the heated dish about 1 inch apart and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining Italian cheese on top, then bake another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

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Serve with pasta and, if desired, marinara sauce.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Meal PlanDidn't have to plan much this week - we are getting away for a mini-vacation to Orlando this weekend, so I'll get to explore some of the gluten-free options at Universal Studios.  Apparently they are extremely GF-friendly, so I'm really looking forward to it!

Monday

  • Orange Chicken Stirfry
  • Brown Rice

Tuesday

  • Buffalo Bleu Cheese Chicken Sausage
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Baked Potatoes

Wednesday

  • Pan Fried Pork Cutlets
  • Steamed Green Beans
  • Roasted Potatoes

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

  • Turkey Kielbasa and Rice
  • Zucchini Casserole

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chicken Sausage Pasta with Green Beans

This recipe is a quick and easy meal that has been on our menu several times these last few weeks - and it's what's for dinner tonight!  

I can't take credit for this one - this is a creation Hubs came up with one night when he was cooking dinner for me, and I was floored by how delicious and simple it was.  He cooks by instinct, not recipe, and I am always impressed by his intuition when it comes to texture and flavor combinations!  

Chicken Sausage Pasta with Green Beans

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 package chicken sausage - we used Sundried Tomato and Basil
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 pound gluten-free pasta spirals (recommended - Tinkyada)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce

Directions

Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente (if using Tinkyada, I recommend tasting it after 8 minutes).  Drain and set aside.  

While pasta is cooking, heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Brown chicken sausages on all sides, then remove and slice (we find that waiting to slice them after cooking keeps them juicier).  Microwave the green beans in a covered dish until crisp tender, about two and a half minutes depending on your microwave.

Toss the cooked pasta, sliced chicken sausage, green beans and tomato sauce together and serve immediately.  

You can go a bunch of different ways with this - sub out broccoli florets, spinach or snap peas for the green beans, or try using an arrabbiata tomato sauce to add a little spicy kick.  And with all the different chicken sausage flavors out there, there are tons of flavor possibilities!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Meal PlanGoing to do a little something new this week – I’ve been wanting Asian food for quite awhile so I put a new recipe for Hubs’ favorite General Tso’s chicken on the menu tonight!
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
  • Grilled Flank Steak
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Beans
Sunday
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