Who Knew Soup Was a Spring Thing …

It has been a little bit cool but really grey, windy and damp for days! It’s been either raining or drizzling for over 5 days straight … and at times just crazy downpours. Then yesterday it was really cool and the same wet. I was craving a warm bowl of soup the other day to comfort me, but since I am also in the middle of studying for finals and end of semester papers I have not had a ton of time on my hands. Thank goodness soups tend to be quick to throw together and are better the longer they cook and sit. My solutions … tomato soup and butternut squash soup.

Tomato soup is a classic and one of hubby’s favorite soups (there are not a lot of soups he can make a meal out of). Pair with a hot sandwich or quesadilla and you have a childhood classic!

Butternut squash soup is hearty and filling, but creamy and luxurious. It is one of my favorite soups on a cold, damp day. It can be made so many different ways and I like them all! 🙂

My tomato soup took a different twist than I anticipated, but it turned out amazing and I think will be the way I make tomato soup from now on!

Tomato Soup

2 large cans tomato sauce
1 large can whole tomatoes
1 shallot – large chop
3 garlic cloves
Penzey’s Ancho Chile Powder
Penzey’s Smoked Paprika
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Chicken Stock
Applewood Smoked Salt
Tomato Paste
Hot sauce (if you like it with a little kick)

Saute shallots until almost soft, add halved garlic cloves and saute just a minute. Add about 1 tablespoon tomato paste, stir in. Add chicken stock and scrape brown bits off the bottom. Add 2 cans of tomato sauce. Let cook until almost bubbly. Add whole tomatoes. Cook another couple minutes. Add chile powder, paprika & black pepper. Let cook a few minutes then taste before adding salt (some tomato sauce is saltier than others). Add salt to taste. Let cook a few more minutes. Keep adding seasoning to taste and let simmer with the lid on for 20-40 minutes. Use immersion blender to blend up the whole tomatoes. Let simmer 20-40 minutes.

Chiffonade basil to top with. Yes, basil and smoky flavors go! Who knew!? 

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Then … the next day … or two days later …

Boil some orzo or tiny little pastas. Drain just short of done.
(You could also add rice (brown or white) or farro)
Start to heat leftover tomato soup on low heat
I cut up some kale, drained a can of chickpeas (cannellini beans might be better), add some white wine (about 1/2 cup), a little more chicken stock and let the soup heat through. Add the pasta or rice. Let it get all heated through until the pasta are done and plate up. I added a grilled and sliced chicken breast to the top. So YUMMY!

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Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
3 carrots
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
Chicken stock (you could easily substitute vegetable stock)
Coconut milk
2 cups white wine

Soup Topping (I may have gone slightly overboard, but oh man was it gooood!)
Bacon
Mushrooms
Goat Cheese
1 Apple
Chives

Roast the butternut squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until tender. Wash the carrots, do not peel, cut into chunks and roast until tender. I usually roast at 350 degrees.

While the squash and carrots are roasting, render out the bacon until crispy. Pull out the pieces and set aside. Add a little olive oil and saute the onion until softened. Add the garlic and saute for just a few seconds. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, add about 1/2 the carton of chicken stock. Let cook a couple minutes, then add the roasted squash (scooped out of the skin) and carrots. Add the remaining chicken stock. Cook and taste for salt and pepper. Let it cook for another 15 minutes or so and make sure all the carrots and squash are really tender. Either put it in a blender or use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Add a couple cups of coconut milk. Stir together until creamy and combined. I let it cook for little bit for the flavors to meld.

For the toppings add a little olive oil to a pan, add the mushrooms (sliced), some black pepper and a little bit of thyme. Once the mushrooms are a beautiful browned, add just a tad bit of salt, stir well.

Slice the apple thin (with skin on) and then slice into little matchsticks and then halve.

Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with the bacon, mushrooms, goat cheese crumbles and apple sticks. Then cut the chives pretty small with scissors (sooo much easier than a knife).

Enjoy a delicious, hearty bowl of soup!

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Soup & Sandwiches

It was a VERY cold few days here in NC. It was Denver cold, but in NC. It was also been pretty damp, the kind that goes right to your bones and doesn’t let go. All we wanted was hot and hearty food. I had been itching to try to make a French Onion Soup from scratch, but I have never actually tried French Onion Soup. My in-laws are huge fans of a good French Onion Soup and have tried it in many different restaurants. They said mine was pretty bang on. SCORE! And who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich, even better a grilled cheese with bacon? So I decided, for this particular VERY cold evening to do French Onion Soup and an amped up grilled cheese for hubby and in-laws and then I made a grilled sandwich for me that didn’t include cheese. All turned out delicious! When I got home from work hubby and father-in-law had a fire going in the woodstove to combat the frigid temps and strong winds outside. We were tucked up inside the house, with a large pot of soup on the stove and grilled cheese sandwiches getting all toasty and golden brown. This meal was fairly easy, not greatly time consuming and made for a cozy evening.

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French Onion Soup
4-5 smallish onions
1 can beef consume (adds that really beefy flavor)
32 ounces beef stock
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. dried thyme leaves
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
4-8 ounces of gruyere cheese
1/2 loaf crusty bread
4 individual soup crocks (see picture)

1) Peel and cut the onions into half, then slice to a medium thickness (not too thick and not too thin). (I did this the night before, but it made the fridge & freezer smell like onions so perhaps the thinking ahead was not the best plan in the particular instance).
2) Put the onions in a dutch oven, one layer at a time, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then add another layer (mind the amount of salt, because you are going to be adding salt later in your consume and stock).
3) Cook the onions on about medium-to-medium-high heat for about 30-40 minutes until they are well sweated down and caramelized, stirring only occasionally.
4) While the onions are cooking, grate the gruyere cheese and slice the bread into thicker slices and to the size of the opening of your individual crocks and set all aside.
5) Once the onions have sweated and caramelized, add garlic and cook for just a minute or so. Enough to cook the garlic and get that great flavor, but garlic will burn quickly.
6) Add two tablespoons of flour (this will help it thicken) and stir in well and let cook for just a minute to cook off the raw flour flavor.
7) Add the white wine, deglazing the pan and scraping all the deliciousness up from the bottom. Cook that for just a minute until the onions have absorbed and the bottom of the pot is scraped pretty well (those brown bits are good flavor).
8) Add the beef consume (most cans will say to add a can full of water, not needed here unless its super salty), the stock and thyme leaves. Bring to a simmer. Give a taste and see if the and pepper needs to be adjusted. If it is too salty, add some water.
9) Let simmer for about 20-30 minutes and reduce just a bit.
10) While the soup is simmering brush the bread with a little olive oil or butter and toast just a bit.
11) Turn the heat off and ladle the soup into the soup crocks.
12) Place the bread on top and cover with the grated gruyere cheese.
13) Put under a broiler (we used a toaster oven) until the cheese is melted and bubbly. (I would also suggest placing the crocks on a sheet pan lined with foil in case the cheese bubbles over).

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Grilled Cheese & Bacon Sandwiches
1 loaf good bread, something hearty. I used a loaf of some sort of several grain bread. It was a big round.
Provolone cheese slices
Your favorite hardwood smoked bacon
Gruyere cheese
Alouette Garlic & Herb Spread

1) Spread butter or margarine on one side of the bread slices.
2) On the other side, spread some of the Alouette spread)
3) Layer a slice of provolone, cut in half, layer of bacon and a layer of the grated gruyere cheese.
4) Put in a pan or on a griddle until golden brown on that side, then flip to the other side until golden brown.
5) Wrap the sandwiches in foil, pop in a toaster oven for a few minutes until the cheese is completely melted.

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The variation I made for me was a take on something one of my roommates used to make. Spread a thin layer of butter on the bread, same as the others. Instead of the Alouette spread, spread a layer of roasted garlic hummus. Add slices of bacon, thin’ish slices of avocado and thin slices of a tomato. Add a little freshly ground pepper. Toast the sandwich same as the others. If you are not adverse to dairy things, the Alouette spread would be VERY good with the hummus and all the other stuff.

Jambalaya

We have had a cold snap here … as in 30’s and snow the last two days. It was a really wet snow and slushy. This morning’s commute was GROSS. Wet and cold and blustery … which is ok in February, NOT MAY! Last night was so cold and wet that hubby and I wanted a hot, hearty meal to comfort our disgruntled spirits from the weather. Hubby’s jambalaya was the perfect solution. Fairly quick and easy and so filling and comforting.

Spice Mix:
We make the spice mix and just keep it on hand for when we want jambalaya.
2.5 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1/2 – 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (we use only a little cayenee because I don’t like it super hot. If it was just for hubby, he would put quite a bit more in.)
1 tbsp. dried, ground oregano
1 tbsp. dried, ground thyme


Rice:

3 cups of chicken broth
1 tbsp. spice mix
2 cups jasmine rice
Cook rice according to package directions. I use Golden Star or Mahatma brands jasmine rice.

Jambalaya Meat/Veggies:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 packages Hillshire Farm turkey polska kielbasa
1 green pepper
1 shallot
2 cloves of garlic

Directions:
1. Cut each chicken breast into bite size cube. Toss in a few spoonfuls of spice mix or until it looks like it’s well seasoned (it took us a few times to find out the right amount).
2. Slice kielbasa into ½ inch rounds and then slice the rounds in half.
3. Cut green pepper into bite size pieces.
4. Add small amount of olive oil. Saute chicken until barely cooked. Remove from pan into a bowl.
5. Add a small amount more of olive oil. Add peppers. Saute until barely soft. Remove from pan into the same bowl the chicken is in.
6. Add kielbasa to same pan and brown. Remove from pan into chicken & pepper bowl.
7. Add garlic to pan, saute for a few minutes (too long and it will burn and be bitter).
8. Add ½ cup chicken stock to pan, allow to simmer and deglaze the pan for 5 minutes or so.
9. Make sure to taste for seasoning.
10. Add chicken, peppers and kielbasa back to pan. Let simmer for a few minutes just to get the flavors combined.
11. Serve over rice.

Variations 1: If we were still living on the East Coast, I would definitely make it with shrimp. Shrimp out here is expensive and so disappointing (no flavor) so we don’t use it. We did make this with my in-laws back in March (who DO live on the East Coast and can get delicious shrimp and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg) with shrimp and it was fannntastic. If you can get good shrimp and not break the bank, you should absolutely add it in! Just cook the shrimp until just done before saute’ing the garlic.

Variation 2: If I make this when hubby is not eating, I would add okra for sure. You could just add some frozen sliced okra. You can cook it with the peppers until just done. It is amazing.

Biscuits and Gravy

There are few things more comforting to southerners than biscuits and sausage gravy. I have to confess, I don’t blame them. I can’t help but admit that I really love a good chedder and chive or cheddar and herb or just herb biscuit. Since living in NC for 7 years I learned how to make good sausage gravy, but since going gluten free I have not attempted biscuits. I don’t generally like to bake and especially when it comes to things involving dough, I am not a fan. Well, it’s been really cold and for some reason I had a craving for some biscuits and gravy. My journey to gluten free biscuits has been a frustrating one. It’s not often that something completely beats me when it comes to cooking and the first attempt at biscuits did. I was so mad about it I didn’t try again for two weeks. They were hockey pucks, hard, chewy, awful! The second attempt was not quite as maddening, but still didn’t quite turn out to be the light, flaky biscuits I was hoping for. This got hubby and I both searching for another recipe and hubby found one and it worked great! Pair with some sausage gravy and as hubby said, “it’s slap yo momma good”. When a southern boy says that, it can’t get much better. When he says it’s almost as good as Bojangles, you know you’ve won! 😉

I have learned from experience that sausage gravy is a staple in the south and let me tell you, I fell in love with it. It’s creamy, warm, comforting, great flavor & crazy good on top of biscuits, fried chicken, fries dipped in it. Oh, who am I kidding, I haven’t found anything it wasn’t good on.

Gluten Free Biscuits
I found the biscuit recipe at Your Home Based Mom‘s blog. She is right on with this one!

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Ingredients
3 1/2 C gluten free flour mix*
1/4 C sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 C cold butter, cut into pieces
4 eggs
2/3 C cold buttermilk or almond milk

Instructions
Mix together gluten free flour mix, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add in butter and mix together until crumbly and pea sized.
Add in eggs and milk.  Mix until a cohesive dough forms(will be slightly sticky)
Cover counter with additional gluten free flour to make rolling easier.
Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick.
Fold dough into thirds lengthwise.
Fold dough into thirds crosswise.
Roll out to 1/2 inch thick and repeat process two additional times.
Cut out biscuits and placed on a greased cookie sheet.
Put biscuits into freezer for 20 minutes to allow butter to solidify and create flaky biscuits)
Bake in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Brush with melted butter after baked for extra goodness if desired.

* Notes: 1)  You can find her recipe for gluten free flour mix here. (I found the gluten free flour mix to be key to this recipe) 2) I added a few tablespoons of Finnes Herbs for an herb biscuit. Delicious!

Sausage Gravy
Ingredients:
1/2 lb Breakfast sausage (we love Jimmy Dean Original)
2 tbsp. butter
1-2 tablespoons gf flour
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk (you can use non-dairy milks as well, coconut milk, almond milk, etc. for a dairy free version)
1/4 cup half & half or whipping cream (optional – gives extra creamy texture, not necessary. If you don’t have it, just add more milk)
Salt & Freshly ground pepper
Directions:
Brown the breakfast sausage
Once browned and crumbly, scoop out onto paper towel to “de-grease” (By scooping it out, you will leave a bit of the grease from browning the sausage in the bottom of the pan. This will give you good flavor for your gravy.)
Turn heat to medium.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, let melt completely.
Once melted, scoop 1 spoonful of gf flour into the pan and whisk around. If it’s still soupy, add more flour. You want it to look pasty and almost “crumbly” in the pan.
Whisk in chicken stock and keep whisking for a minute.
Add milk and cream (if on hand).
Whisk for a few minutes and let it get warm. Add in sausage back in and salt and pepper to taste (your sausage will add some level of salt so be aware when salting).
Continue whisking, the lumps should dissolve, it will take about 5-7 minutes to thicken up. Once it’s thick and bubbly, serve over biscuits.
Copyright © AromasFromMyKitchen

Fall Apple Crisp

Cool, crisp weather has definitely arrived and the leaves have started changing color. This is my FAVORITE time of year! When I was a kid, when the weather turned cool & crisp it meant apple picking and apple crisps and apple cobblers. During our yearly apple picking trips we would almost always pick up a couple pumpkins and a few gourds and thus began the fall decorating at home. My mom would almost always combine the apple crisps & cobblers with other fruit and my favorite was usually an apple cranberry crisp. Well, I didn’t have any cranberries, so I just used what I had in my freezer. I had forgotten how quick & easy crisps are. Crisps are great, warm, fall desserts that use seasonal fruits and can be super versatile!

This dessert is a small version as it’s just for hubby & I, but it can very easily be made larger. The portions listed below are for a small, square pan of crisp.

3 apples, peeled, cubed (I tend to use larger cubes)
3/4 cup strawberries, frozen (I had sliced them before I froze them)
1/2 cup blueberries, frozen
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats
2-3 tablespoons stick butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans (any nuts can be used)
Cinnamon, nutmeg or a bit of allspice could be added depending on like. (I am not a huge fan of any of those

Preheat the oven to 350. Peel the apples and cut around the core. Cut them into medium-sized cubes. Add any other fruit to the apples. Add the white sugar, lemon juice & 1 tablespoon of the flour. Stir thoroughly and let sit a few minutes. In a separate bowl combine the brown sugar, remaining flour, oats, butter and pecans. Combine with your fingers (or a fork, I find my fingers always work better) until the butter becomes like small peas in the mixture.

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Lightly grease a glass baking dish (I used one that was about 9×9) and pour the fruit into the baking dish. Pour the oat mixture over the fruit and spread evenly. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the apples are soft.

It can be enjoyed with ice cream or whipped cream. Best eaten when still warm! 🙂

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Copyright © AromasFromMyKitchen

GF Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts – UPDATE

Just a quick update on these … I made them again this morning for breakfast and I used coconut milk. I have recently decided to try dairy free and coconut milk is my “dairy” of choice. It worked beautifully and didn’t add or take away to any flavor or consistency.

I also reduced the amount of sugar and you really taste the cinnamon & nutmeg more. Delicious! They are still sweet, but not overpoweringly so.

These are soooo easy to make, I can see them being a great winter-time, weekend breakfast go to! And who knows … they may end up with a little orange flavored icing on them … hubby’s favorite! 🙂

steak tips with mushroom gravy

well, as you can see it’s been a while since my last post. this is primarily due to starting a new day job mid-April and quite a bit of company over the last couple weeks. this post was originally written at the begining of April. back in the next few days for a few more things i’ve been playing with over the last few weeks and haven’t had a chance to post.

the weather here has been a little odd … last weekend we had 10+ inches of snow, cold, cloudy, etc. this past weekend was 60s, sunny, a slight breeze … gorgeous! today … grey, cloudy, cold, windy and then this afternoon it snowed “buckets” for two hours, then the sun came out. being out in the weather today made me want something hot & hearty for dinner. and i found the perfect, new recipe! this meal hits two checkboxes, a new meal for the week and hot & hearty.

the recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. before i continue i must take a minute to talk about Americas Test Kitchen. i was first introduced to it by my mom who had caught their program on a PBS channel & later learned about their website and a seasonal magazine. when she introduced me to it, i was also immediately hooked, especially by their magazine. the various sections are written by the different test chefs. they test everything from equipment, to techniques, to recipes, to food products. if you enjoy cooking, kitchen & cooking gadets and equipment and everything to do with cooking you will love this. when it comes to recipes, they talk extensively about how they tested them and all the components. it’s delightful reading! and their recipes (since they are so extensively tested) are always spot on! tonights feature is no different and the flavor was deep & satisfying! i made a few adjustments according to our tastes and what was available which i will note.

the current magazine’s topic is “skillet meals”. this piqued my interest. as much as i love to cook, i am always looking for recipes that don’t require every pan in the kitchen and don’t take all evening to make. there is a bit of prep required, but once you are rolling it doesn’t take long at all.

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips (see note regarding meat purchase below)
1 3/4 cups beef broth
1/4 oz dried porcini mushrooms
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound white mushrooms
1 large onion*
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour (i used gluten-free all-purpose flour of course)
1 garlic clove (we love garlic so i used 2)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Preparation:
Cut sirloin steak tips into 1 1/2 inch chunks.
Combine soy sauce and sugar in medium bowl and add steak once it’s been cut into chunks.
Gently toss to coat and marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, microwave 1/4 cup of the beef broth and the porcini mushrooms in a covered bowl until steaming (about 1 minute). Let stand for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes drain porcini through fine mesh strainer lined w/a coffe filter (i did not use a coffee filter and it turned out fine), reserve liquid and mince porcini mushrooms, set both aside.
Halve and slice the onion thinly.
Clean mushrooms (this should not be done by running them under water as mushrooms retain the water, gently brush them off w/a damp papertowl)
Slice mushrooms into 1/4 inch slices.
Mince fresh thyme.
Peel garlic and mince.

To make meal:
remove steak from marinade and put on a meat-safe board and pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle with pepper.
heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch skilled over medium-high heat until smoking.
add steak and cook until browned on all sides (6-8 minutes).
transfer to a large plate and set aside.
add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the empty skillet.
add white mushrooms, minced porcini mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
cook and be sure to stir frequently until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms start to brown (7-9 minutes).
scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon to get all the little bits off the bottom of the pan (this is where a lot of flavor tends to reside).
add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, continue cooking and stirring frequently until onion begins to brown (6-8 minutes).
add flour, garlic and thyme, stirring constantly until the flour coats everything (about 1 minute).
stir-in remaining 1 1/2 cups broth and porcini soaking liquid, scrape the bottom of the skillet as you do this to make you get all that flavor.
nestle steak into mushroom and onion mixture and make sure all the accumulated juices make it in there as well, more flavor!
reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the steak is cooked to 130 degrees (another 3-5 minutes), stirring to coat w/sauce and turning steak.
season with salt & pepper and garnish with fresh parsley at the end.

Notes:
i served this over gluten-free noodles, but hubby & i both agreed that it would have been better over rice or mashed potatoes. if you are thinking that having to make mashed potatoes is too much work for a weeknight, we have found that Bob Evans has “pre-prepared” mashed potatoes that are delicous and gluten-free. I am not a huge fan of pre-prepared foods, but this is a nice thing to have on hand when you don’t want to spend the time to make mashed potatoes.

*i used a finely chopped shallot instead of an onion because hubby is not so much an onion fan.

herb butter & goat cheese linguine with fresh tomatoes

well, one new per week is going pretty well. i’ve a week or two that i didn’t even end up cooking all week, but for the most part it’s really pushing me to try new things.

this week’s recipe (i found it in either i had the great honor of making for a dear friend of mine and it was DELICIOUS & so easy to make gluten free. i would change a few things next time, but overall it was a great week night recipe for two chicas who love goat cheese! 😉 sorry, no pics this time … we inhaled it too fast! 😉

1 pound linguine (i used gf fettucine b/c it was all i could find at the store)
8 ounces goat cheese crumbled (i used a garlic & herb goat cheese)
6 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup parsley (flat leaf italian) chopped finely
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped (i used quite a bit less than this as we are not huge dill fans & it’s a bit strong)
1/4 cup fresh tarragon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 cups multi-colored heirloom tomatoes, chopped

Put the pasta water on to boil and when it’s boiled add the pasta & cook till al dente.
While the pasta is working, in a serving bowl, add the crumbled goat cheese.
In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
Add the shallots & cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
Stir in the white wine & cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.
Add the parsley, dill, thyme & tarragon.
Add the pasta to the goat cheese, pour the herb sauce on top & toss for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes & toss gently, season with salt & pepper.

Seee, easy peasy!

My variation:
I roasted cherry tomatoes & green beans together until the cherry tomatoes had burst a bit in place of the fresh tomatoes, i just seasoned with a little salt & pepper.
I also sauteed some orange & yellow sweet peppers with the shallots to add some color and i mean, you can’t go wrong with adding peppers! 😉
I didn’t this time, but next time I will definitely add a couple cloves of crushed garlic to the sauteed onions & peppers.
I added a grilled chicken breast on top of it … i seasoned it with salt, pepper & some Penzey’s italian herb mix.

roasted cauliflower

this past friday afternoon an unexpected opportunity presented itself. i arrived at the airport to pick up a friend only to find her flight was going to be delayed an additional 30 minutes from the originally planned landing AND i was already 30 minutes early. sooo, i made a beeline for the nearest bookstore to find some reading material. when i walked in, staring me in the face were 2 racks full of foodie magazines. with an hour or more to kill, i purchased 4 of them and found a spot to indulge myself. and indulge i did … blocking out the sounds of antsy kids running around me and mothers trying to corral them and the drumline sitting behind me practicing while they waited for their flight. during my indulgence session i happened upon the following recipe in bon appetit (february 2013) which i tried this evening and i will just say, this is going to become a regular in my repotoire. the recipe suggests adding parmesan cheese … and i am sure it is delicious … but i was out so i just made it without and it made my tastebuds VERY happy!! it’s like Anne Burrell of Food Network says, “brown food tastes good!”. you can’t go wrong!

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    Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
3 tbsp olive oil
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
4 thyme sprigs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion
1/2 cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the cauliflower into florets, toss onto a large, rimmed baking sheet.
Slice onion, toss onto baking sheet w/cauliflower florets.
Put olive oil, thyme sprigs, kosher salt & black pepper over the onion and cauliflower. Toss to coat w/olive oil, salt & pepper.
Put pan in the oven and roast, tossing occasionally for 35-40 minutes depending on how soft you like your veggies. Sprinkle w/parmesan cheese, toss to combine and put back in oven to continue roasting until everything is tender, about 10-12 min longer. The cauliflower and onions will turned a beautiful golden brown with toasty edges.

Comfort food … Mac & Cheese

There is little more comforting food for me than mac and cheese. I grew up with close family friends whose roots were in North & South Carolina and for almost every large family gathering and holidays … mac & cheese was served in huge restaurant size pans. And I usually went to town! Fast forward a few years and I married a truly southern boy who loves his southern comfort food. Fast forward a few more years and I went to a gluten free diet and I have yet to have mac & cheese made gluten free anywhere … what to do? Learn to make it! Hubby’s favorite version is with chunks of ham in it, but when I am making it as a side, I exclude the ham. It took a little perfecting, but I think we’ve finally found a delectable balance! 🙂 Here’s my take on comforting gluten-free mac & cheese!

1 bag or box of gluten free macaroni noodles or fusili (my favorite is rice macaroni noodles)
2-3 cups of colby/monterey jack cheese (i usually get this pre-shredded)
1 block applewood smoked gruyere, grated (ends up being a couple cups)
3-4 cups of milk (i prefer whole milk)
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp butter
2-3 tbsp gluten free all-purpose flour
fresh ground black pepper
4 strips thick slices

Cook the pasta to aldente (make sure to salt the water a bit)
Make sure all the cheese is grated and all the ingrediants are ready to go, once you get started it will move quickly
Melt the butter in a fairly large saucepot over med heat
Crush the garlic cloves into the butter and cook for a few minutes, being careful not to brown too much
Add the flour to the butter & garlic to make a rue
Cook for just a few minutes
Add the milk and whisk till smooth
Once the milk has just heated (don’t want it to boil) and you start to see steam come off of it
Add the cheese in small handfuls starting with the applewood smoked gruyere
Once all the cheese has melted into the milk and is smooth, add black pepper to taste
Pour pasta into cheese sauce and stir
Once mixed, pour into greased baking dish (i typically use an 8 x 11)
Top with cheese to cover the top
Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (or until cheese on top is melted)
While baking, crisp the 4 bacon strips and chop finely
Once the mac & cheese comes out of the oven, sprinkle the bacon on top

Enjoy hot!! DSC_0169

Variations:
Main Dish Variation – Add chunks of ham (this will add some saltiness, so season carefully)
Bread crumb topping – some more traditional southern mac & cheese recipes have a bread crumb crunchy topping. I usually combine 1/2-3/4 of a cup of gluten free bread crumbs and a few tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle them on top the last 10 minutes of the baking process. They will brown up and make a sorta crunchy crust. It’s delicious!

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