Beetroot-Kidney Bean-Salad

I visited my auntie the other weekend and I have always loved her food. She from an Asian country and has a very special way of cooking and preparing food and I think it is just awesome. Everytime we visit with her and her family there would be the most delicious meals on the table combining ‘modern’ food issues such as low-fat, gluten-free or vegetarian and very traditional tastes, cooking methods or ingredients brought over from her home country.
This time I fell for a really yummy salad which I already re-made last week and which makes a really perfect office lunch. It is rich in vitamins and low in fat, it is of course gluten-free and satiable: Beetroot-Kidney Bean-Salad.

Here’s what you need for appr. 3 lunches:
– 1 large beetroot – cook unpeeled for about 45 – 60 min in water, then peel and dice
– 5 potatoes, cooked and diced – be careful they are not overcooked!
– 3 carrots, diced and cooked for about 7 mins – they should remain al dente!
– 3 pieces of green onion, sliced
– 1 small can of kidney beans, drained and washed
– 6 pieces of gerkins, diced
Dressing:
– olive oil, white wine vinegar and salt / pepper, freshly chopped parsley

The preparation is really easy once you have cooked the beetroot, potatoes and carrots. Of course you can do the cooking in advance, a day ahead or so and then assemble the salad later.
Add all ingredients to large saladbowl, whisk together the dressing and mix with the salad. Add extra salt and pepper to taste. And this is basically it. The salad keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days – but by then it will be gone anyway because it is so yummy. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did.

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The easiest banana-bread ever – gluten-free

Tonight I  threw together a very quick banana bread on impulse. I was sorting out the fridge and groceries as my weekend shopping is due tomorrow and when doing so I came across those 3 very   V-E-R-Y ripe bananas of which I knew for sure nobody in this house will ever eat. Since we’ve been wasting some food, especially overdue fruits, lately, I felt bound to use these poor creatures for something nice. So I was quickly looking up some recipes on the internet but eventually struck the best in one of my older cook books – I just had to convert it to make it gluten-free and there I was: Quickly and overly easy assembling a banana bread. As easy as the prep was as yummy was / is the result. The hardest part of the making was actually the 40-minute-wait while the loaf was baking. 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need for a medium loaf:
3 very ripe bananas
some tablespoons of either maple sirup or pita sirup – really depending on how sweet you like it
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 egg
1 egg white, beaten
125g cake’n’bake gluten-free flour
125 g rice flour

Place the bananas, the egg (the whole one… keep the stiff egg white for later), sirup and oil in your food processor and mix until the bananas are broken up and everything is well-combined.
In a bowl, mix the 2 flour types, then add the banana-mixure and stir through thoroughly, at the end add the stiff egg white and blend.
Fill the batter into a loaf pan and bake the bread for 35-40 minutes on medium heat (175 degrees C).

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It will not come up very much and like most banana breads it will stay a little moist on the inside. I think it would also be nice to add some nuts or/and choc-bits. It keeps well in a plastic bag and tastes delicious when reheated / roasted in your toaster. Plus: This one is really low-fat! Voilà! I hope you enjoy.

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’ Recipe

This is a must-try! I added some chicken breast filet for the men in the house 😉 Thanks heaps to http://www.nerdsteak.com

NERDSTEAK

Quinoa 'Fried Rice' Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’

If you are not familiar with Quinoa and are looking for a good recipe to give it a try, this is the one! Make sure you prep. all of your ingredients ahead of time, because once it is stir-fry time, the cooking process goes pretty quick!

Quinoa ‘Fried Rice’

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup peeled and diced carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onions plus extra for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
3 cups cooked Incan Quinoa Blend
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons sweetened seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
Sesame seeds, for garnish

Heat peanut oil in a large sauté pan or wok on high heat, then add yellow onion and carrot. Sauté for about 2 minutes, then add green onions, garlic and…

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Chicken Pie – trying out guten-free puff pastry

When I was browsing the store for gluten-free things the other day I first time noticed they even have a full ‘Frozen gluten-free food’ section there! Heaven! This was really THE discovery of that day. Taking a closer look the frozen puff pastry automatically caught my eye. I LOVE puff pastry, no matter if sweet or hearty and I’ve really missed it since going gluten-free. So of course I bought a pack even if it was really pricy compared to regular frozen puff pastry. Anyway. I bought it, took it home, stored it in my freezer and started hunting for a good recipe to use the pastry. I found one on the internet, a pie. A chicken pie. I’ve always wanted to make a pie, even when I wasn’t even gluten-free, so this was my chance. Just let me tell you: It was the easiest thing to make and everyone loved it.

Here’s what you’ll need for 3-4 people:

– 500g chicken breast, no bones, no skin, cut into 3×3 cm pieces (approximately….)

– 250g fresh mushrooms, clean and sliced

– 2 onions, finely chopped (so the kids won’t notice…)

– a bit of cream (I used Creme Fraiche), ca. 100g

– herbs, if you like

– 1 sheet of puff pastry – it should be defrosted by the time you need it

– 150g diced bacon

– 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour

– 300ml vegetable stock (watch out for gluten-free stock!)

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In a large pan, heat some olive oil and insert mushrooms, onions, bacon and chicken. Let it stew for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the stock and bring to a boil. In a very small bowl mix the flour and 1-2 tablespoons of water to get an even paste. When the mix is boiling in your pan, add the flour-paste and stir thoroughly, so the sauce will become thicker. Remove from heat and add the cream as well as salt, pepper, herbs to taste.

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Fill the mix into an oven-safe dish and cover it with the puff-pastry, just like a lid. You can now mix an egg yolk and some milk and ‘paint’ the pastry’ with it, it makes a nice tan when the dish is done.

Put in your oven on medium heat (170 degrees) for about 20-30 minutes, you’ll see when the pastry is done.

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Serve some fresh salad or cooked veggies as side dish and this makes a perfect, quick and easy family dinner. Voilà!

Family favourite: Lasagne

Lasagne is one of the most popular dishes of our family and one that really EVERYONE likes without any fuzzing around. Naturally, lasagne comes with pasta sheets and pasta comes with gluten. 😦 So I’ve been looking around and indeed found gluten-free pasta sheets in the store which I thought I should give a try. So I made a big dish of ‘normal’ lasagna and a smaller one for me and my middle monkey using those gluten-free sheets. I was a little skeptical beforehand as those gluten-free ones demand more prep than the others; you have to pre-cook them but also be careful not to over-cook them so it’s a bit of a tightrope walk. But in the end it turned out to be a really good and yummy substitute. So here’s how “my” home-made lasagne is done:

What you’ll need to feed a family of 5-7:

– 750g minced beef

– 500ml tomato passata

– 1 small can of tomato purree

– 1 onion, finely chopped

– 1 zucchini, diced

– 2-3 carrots, diced

– 1 capsicum, diced

– lasagne sheets, gluten-free if you need to – then cook according to the instructions on the cover.

– 250g mixed grated cheese, I used grana padano and gourd

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In a pan, heat some olive oil and add the beef and onions, stir constantly until the beef and onions get a little tanned. 😉 In a large pot, heat some more olive oil and add the veggies, do not stir too much as they should also get a little tanned and don’t burn that easy anyway. When the beef/onion mix is well cooked, add it to the veggies and also add the the tomato purree, stir thoroughly until all is well-blended. Finally add the tomato passata and ca. 400ml of water (use it to rinse the bottle!) and bring everything to a boil, then season with salt, pepper, rosemary, herbs… whatever you like. Make sure the taste is really hearty, rather take some more salt than too little as the pasta sheets will soak up a lot later.

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Once the filling is done start the layering: Fill in some sauce into an oven pan or your usual lasagne dish so the bottom is lightly but fully covered. Then comes the pasta sheet, then the filling again — keep going until you used up all your filling making sure the last layer is Sauce not pasta! Cover with cheese and put in the oven. It usually takes 25-30 minutes until the pasta is well-done, use a temperature of 180-200 degrees C.

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Cut it up into pieces and enjoy! Voilà!

PS: This is one of the dishes that gets better every time you reheat it … Try it!

Salad discovery of the week // Holiday reminder

We spent the last day of our Italy-getaway in Nice, as we departed from Nice Airport towards home. It is a lovely, lively, boutique city. I really liked it there though the differences to my beloved Italy were omnipresent even if it’s just a stone throw away. We found it for example very, very hard to settle for some lunch. The cafés and restaurants were pretty expensive, pretty crowded and – pretty French. I don’t know French.

Anyway when we finally decided for one restaurant I chose “Salad Nicoise” which I have never heard of before – bad gap in my education! 😉 It was delicious and as soon as we got home I started to research the web for this salad. I found thousands of hits and read a few dozens – eventually mixing all those variations into one recipe that fit me. I tried it out at the weekend when we had my brother over for dinner. Usually men are not very excited when it’s salad for dinner and hubby and my brother were – say, skeptical. But this salad is a real whopper and it even convinced the two of them.

Here’s what you’ll need to feed 3-4:

– 6-8 small young potatoes, cooked and cut in quarters

– 150g green beans, cooked and cut in halves

– 4 eggs, cooked and cut in quarters

– 250g ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

– 2 cans of tuna, drained

– 1/4 of an iceberg salad

– 1/2 red onion, sliced

– green or black olives

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In a flat bowl fill in the ingredients as follows: iceberg salad – tuna – tomatoes – potatoes – eggs – beans – onions – olives.

For the dressing, fill into a high jar:

– 4 tbl spoons olive oil

– 2 tbl spoons balsamico bianco

– 1 tbl spoon mustard

– 1 tbl spoon honey

– 1 tbl spoon mayonnaise

– some salt (not too much)

Use the puree-unit of your food processor to get a smooth, soft, well-blended dressing. Add some table spoons of water if you think it’s too thick (I did so) and taste to season with salt and pepper. Add to the salad and Voilà!

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I cooked the potatoes, eggs and beans in the morning already and kept them in the fridge. This way the salad is really very quick-assembled. It is really delicious and satiable. Enjoy!

Family favorite: Potato-salad, gluten-free

I know I’m one day behind promised publication of this dish, but I can assure you: it was worth the wait. 🙂

This potato salad is a classic around where we live and each and every family has a secret formula of ingredients and way of cooking – of course each claiming to be ‘THE’ real potato salad. So, here comes my ‘secret’ recipe. It is a mixure of the different kinds of potato salads eaten in hubby’s and my family, I just picked out the best parts and made my own.  It’s not exactly a quick one but it’s eventually easy in the end and both kids and adults love it.

For a feeding of 8 you’ll need:

– 2,5 kg potatoes, cooked THEN peeled and sliced or diced

– 2-3 onions, peeled and finely diced (or chopped in the food processor)

– 400 g gherkins, diced. IMPORTANT: Keep the brew!! You’ll need it for the dressing

– 400 g cooked ham (or something similar) – buy in a piece and then also dice like the gherkins

– 200 g mayonnaise – buy the ‘real’ mayo, not fat-reduced etc. take a look at the ingredients, real good mayo should contain not much more than eggs and oil, at least there is a number of labels without gluten

– some vegetable oil

– 1 tbl. spoon butter

– 1 tbl. spoon gluten-free all purpose flour

You can cook (and even peel) the potatoes a day in advance if it fits your schedule, if not start preparation with the potatoes because they need to cool down to be easily peeled and sliced.

Heat oil and diced onions in a small pot on medium heat until the onions become  glassy, then fill into a small bowl or plate. In the same pot now heat the butter until liquid, add the flour and stir well until combined. Fill roux up with the brew saved from the gherkins, stir constantly until thickened. Then turn off from the heat. This is the basis of the salad’s dressing. Now add all other ingredients: diced gherkins, diced ham, onions and mayonnaise. Season generously with salt and pepper as the potatoes will soak up a lot of salt. Stir well until it’s a consistent mass. Slice the potatoes into a big bowl or pot and add the dressing. Stir well but carefully in order not to break (or mash 😉 ) the potatoes. Cover and set aside for at least 5 hours in a cool place, best would be over night.

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Preparation will take about an hour or 1.5 hours, but it’s really worth it. You can have this salad all by itself or serve with chicken, steak or frankfurter. Voilà!

 

Back home – holiday review

 

Puuh, I really cannot believe we’ve been back for 4 full days. But we have. We are so, so back. We returned home monday night to a nicely quiet house with 3 peacefully sleeping monkeys snuggled up in their beds, convinced and trusting that Mom and Dad would be back by the time they wake up the next morning. And within the blink of an eye holiday mode was off and we were back to business as usual. Looking back it feels as if these 5 alone-days are far longer away than just half a week. In the last 4 days back home I’ve been busy doing all the laundry that already piled up, packing away all the things we’ve just moved over to my parents’ „just in case“ and – first and foremost – preparing the middle monkey’s 6th birthday. (which was a hit, I can tell you!)

In the middle of my family, my life, of all these little bits and pieces, of all these everyday issues I felt strangely different to before the holiday: I felt – and still feel – relaxed. These 5 days in Italy were so much worth all the planning, organizing, preparing, worrying. It was just so exactly what we had needed and it did us beyond good. All my worries were put aside and they really did stay in their corner. I missed the kids occasionally and I was really looking forward to coming back home to the three of them. But it was definitely not like I was homesick or unable to sit back and relax.

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It was ‚La dolce vita‘ at its best: Sleeping in, eating, drinking, eating, walking in the hills and / or along the beautiful coastline of the Mediterranean Sea or taking a sunbath on the terrace. The weather was warm and sunny, and I got a really nice tan. 🙂 We had time to talk but didn’t spoil the mood with too heavy topics. We were just happy to be around each other – uninterrupted. During those days in Italy we felt an almost unknown feeling of freedom – simply because we were free: free from responsibilities, time pressure, duties, work, schedules. Nothing needed immediate fixing. No mediating, no consoling, no bitching, no looking after and no caring about – at least not actively. It felt really really good and it was the recharger we longed for.

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For me Italy also meant: gluten-free-free. Before we took off I decided to take it easy with gluten-free foods in order not to spoil the holiday and having all those delicious Italian dishes in mind already. No sooner said than done. I had white bread, pasta and dessert the first day. Grissini, pizza slices and again bread the second … and then: along came the point when my digestive tract said „Thanks. But, NO thanks.“ It was really astonishing. It took only very little to have all my old and long forgotten inner construction sites return. So I tried to avoid gluten whenever possible for the rest of the time, and honestly – I’m still struggling with the effects of those two easy days and I have put myself on a stricter-then-ever diet since our return. I can see improvement though. 🙂
Anyway, this little ‚thing‘ could not decrease the great benefit of this holiday, it was just a side effect to be noticed.
Consequently I will publish another great gluten-free recipe tomorrow. It is easy, but not quick. And it’s an all-time favorite in my family.

Another coconut bread

You have probably noticed that I really love to bake breads albeit I haven’t totally succeeded since starting gluten-free. Also I really have a weak spot for sweet breads which can almost be a mixture between bread and cake. That’s why I tried yet another coconut bread – and yes, I also have a weak spot for coconut. 🙂

This one is a winner, though. I received my latest gluten-free baking “tool’ today – Xanthan Gum, and I just HAD to use it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

– 100g grated coconut

– 1 tbsp. baking soda

– 100g raw or brown sugar

– 200g gluten-free all purpose or bread flour

– 2 tsp. xanthan gum

– 60ml vegetable oil

– 240 ml milk or water (if dairy-free)

– 2 eggs

First mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. I roasted the coconut first, in a pan on medium heat without any oil or other grease (3-4 mins, stir constantly). Then mix all wet ingredients in an extra bowl and add to the dry mix. Process on medium speed for 2 mins until the dough is smooth. Fill into a greased or lined loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven (175 degrees C) for 50-60 mins.

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This bread is really what it looks like – DIVINE. It is soft, juicy, sweet… If I weren’t so full already I’d probably have it all straight away.

Again I think it would be nice with some more things in it, like nuts (almonds…) or dried fruits like sultanas. Maybe next time I’ll use little less sugar.

Nevertheless this is an absolute recommendation. 🙂