Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zoodles with Sausage, Peppers, Mushrooms & Tomato Sauce

I got a spiralizer last year on sale at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and it is so much fun to use. That might be the most American middle class sentence ever written on this blog. But really. Love being able to have a big bowl full of spiralized vegetable noodles and meat sauce without feeling like I just ate a brick of gluten. I started out steaming or boiling zoodles (zucchini spiralized into noodles), but they get pretty sloppy-- a better method is to spread the zoodles out on a baking tray in the oven and cook at 400F for about 15 minutes. They bake just enough to loose the raw crunch without absorbing moisture and are then the perfect canvas for whatever toppings you so choose.
spiralized zucchini noodles = zoodles
This recipe combines a simple tomato sauce with a few more veggies (bell peppers + mushrooms), and sausage for protein. Alternatively, you could brown ground beef or ground turkey in the skillet first, then add the veggies and sauce. But I'm a sucker for those pre-cooked, well seasoned sausages (without preservatives! Hooray!) at Trader Joes. Just chop them up and throw them in. 

baked noodles ready to be topped with sausage and veggies in tomato sauce
I've also baked this recipe up as a casserole: mixing the zoodles into the tomato-sausage mixture and pouring it all into a lightly greased casserole dish, topping with some shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese, and baking it in a 400F oven or under a low broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly. 
Easy, delicious dinner chock full of vegetables
If you don't have a spiralizer, a julienne vegetable peeler also works fine. And you can even just dice up the zucchini and sauté it with the onions and peppers if you want for a noodle-less tomato ragu. Enjoy the added veggies in your naturally gluten-free spaghetti dinner!  

Zoodles with Sausage, Peppers, Mushrooms & Tomato Sauce
Serves 4

3 zucchini or summer squash, shredded into noodles with a spiralizer or julienne peeler
1 tablespoon cooking oil (such as olive oil or canola oil)
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, any color, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sliced white or brown mushrooms
4 pre-cooked, Italian-seasoned-style chicken sausages, sliced in half length-wise then chopped into half moons
1 15oz can or bottle tomato sauce, no sugar added (try to find just tomatoes and salt)
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend (or 1/2 tsp each of dried oregano, parsley, rosemary)
pinch each of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 400F/ 204C. Spread the spiralized zucchini noodles evenly onto a baking sheet. Once the oven is preheated, place the zoodles in the oven and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, until the zoodles around the edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven and set aside. 

While the zoodles are baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the oil and swirl it around to coat the bottom. Add the onion and pepper, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add the minced garlic and sliced mushrooms, and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until onion and peppers have begun to soften. Add the chopped sausage, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to low, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until the sauce is heated through. 

Divide the baked zoodles into 4 bowls or plates, top with sausage-tomato sauce, and garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately. 

Storage tip: Combine any leftover zoodles and sausage-tomato sauce mixture and store, covered in the fridge for 2-3 days. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

One-bowl {Gluten-Fee} Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you read this blog on the reg, you know we don't do peanuts, as the hubs has a (non-life-threatening) sensitivity to them. If you knew me in college, you'd have thought I survived merely on a diet of pretzel twists, honey-roasted peanut butter, and Common Grounds coffee. Seriously. But love makes you do crazy things, like switch to almond butter (who could never steal my heart, dear PB).

However, the hubs has been in Sydney for work for the last month, and you better believe I have been going through a jar of Trader Joe's natural, creamy, no salt added peanut butter a week. He comes back in a couple of days (hooray!) so I'm winding down the PB habit and clearing it out of the house. This afternoon, rather than my typical snack of apple slices slathered with nut butter, I felt the urge to make a small batch of cookies: to re-live the college days of baking with the roomies (one of whom is now a pediatrician and rightly chides our undergraduate sugar consumption levels). The cookies needed to be quick, easy, and have that ideal crispy outside, gooey inside finish.

One bowl clean-up for these chewy, chocolatey, peanut butter oatmeal cookies.
These turned out perfectly. Use one bowl to mix up the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla and egg, then add oats and leavening, chocolate chips for good measure, and you're set. Don't have peanut butter? Use any nut butter. Don't do sugar? Use the equivalent measure of mashed banana. Don't have chocolate chips? Don't use them, or add some chopped pecans, walnuts, etc. Make a few for a snack, and save the rest of the dough in the fridge or freezer for later. But since it's only a small batch, you won't be tempted to go overboard on the sugar splurge. Enjoy!
Easy to make, tasty to eat.
One-bowl {gluten-free} Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 8-9 cookies

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used natural, no sugar or salt added; can use any nut butter)
1/3 cup brown sugar (or a mix of brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, whatever you have)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant; gluten-free if you're cooking g-f)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chocolate chips
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F/ 177C.

In one medium-sized bowl, mix together thoroughly with a spoon or with an electric mixer the peanut butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Add the oats, baking soda, chocolate chips, and salt, and stir to thoroughly combine.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto a non-stick or pre-greased cookie sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350F/ 177C for 8-10 minutes, until golden on the bottom but still not completely set in the middle. Remove from oven, and let stand on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing.

Cookies will keep at room temperature in an air-tight container for 3 days.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Shepherd's Pie with Butternut Mash & Capers

This is the hubs' recipe for shepherd's pie, and it is epic. Born to British parents, he knows a thing or two about hearty, pub-style cooking. This is the kind of thing you'll find in a country pub, perfect for warming you up with a pint alongside. It's also great because it makes so much, so cook it up to feed a crowd, or put some in the freezer for easy meals later in the month.

The slightly sweet butternut-sweet potato mash is the perfect topping for the salty, caper-flecked ground meat (and makes this savory pie gluten-free). We sometimes crumble a little stilton or blue cheese over the top if we're feeling extra cheeky... but that might be a step too far for some.

No pictures yet for this one. Honestly, it's a hard dish to catch an an aesthetic angle, like many good comfort food, casserole-style dishes. But I promise it's worth making, especially if there's a chill still hanging around where you are! And if the temp has already hit 80, as it is here in Los Angeles, file it away for next winter: you'll thank me. In lieu of a Southern Spoon pic, here's a cheat photo of Jamie Oliver's delicious-looking vegan shepherd's pie:

Jamie Oliver's photo, not mine!
Recipe below is original to Southern Spoon, and is very much not vegan.
Shepherd's Pie with Butternut Mash & Capers
Serves 6-8

1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces (about 1.5 cups)
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces (about 1.5 cups)
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon oil (such as olive or canola)
1 yellow or brown onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 packages ground beef (20% fat content works well)
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup frozen peas
1-2 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 anchovy, mashed with a fork (optional!)
1 teaspoon coursely ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or crumbled stilton/blue cheese (optional)

Place the butternut and sweet potato pieces in a medium size pot with water covering the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then place the carrots in a steamer basket, and set the steamer basket on top of the pot with the potato and butternut pieces. Boil/steam the vegetables for 10 minutes. Remove the steamer basket and set the carrots aside (they will go into the pie's meat filling). Drain the potatoes/butternut, and mash them thoroughly with a potato masher or fork. Stir in a pinch of salt, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until onions begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the ground beef, and carefully stir and break up the beef as it browns in the skillet. Cook for about 6-7 minutes, until beef is mostly cooked through.

While the beef is cooking, whisk the cornstarch evenly into the beef stock. Add the steamed carrots and the stock to the beef, along with the peas, capers, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy paste, pepper, thyme, paprika, and a pinch of salt. Stir carefully to combine, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, then taste and adjust any seasoning-- adding a bit more Worcestershire, capers, salt and peppers, etc, as you like. Simmer for another 5-7 minutes to further reduce the stock.

(At this stage, if you are not using a dutch oven, transfer the ground beef mixture to a large, oven-proof casserole dish).

Carefully dollop and lightly spread the butternut/sweet potato mash over the top of the ground beef mixture, and sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the top. Place the shepherd's pie under the broiler set at high heat for about 3-5 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble and slightly brown, watching to ensure it doesn't burn.

Serve immediately.

Storage Tip: Shepherd's pie will keep in the fridge, covered, for 2-3 days, or can be covered and frozen for up to 3 months.