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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

To make this recipe non-gluten free, simply substitute an equivalent amount of flour for the gluten free flour called for in this recipe, and omit the xanthan gum.

You will need:
  • 6 maraschino cherries
  • 10 ounces of crushed pineapple in juice
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 & 1/3 cup of gluten free baking flour
  • 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup of shortening
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
Note that, instead of butter and brown sugar, you can also use caramel topping (usually an ice cream topping). If you choose that option, you may want to lightly grease your muffin pan. 

For this recipe, there is really no way to use paper muffin cups, because the cupcakes are made upside down (hence the name "pineapple upside-down cake"), but you will need to have both a muffin tin, and a regular baking pan that is roughly the same size available.
Set the oven to 350 degrees. Split the butter among the muffin tins, and pop into the preheating oven for one to two minutes. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle the brown sugar into the melted butter. Slice the cherries in half, and place in the center of each muffin tin, with the flat side facing up. Drain the juice from the pineapple into a bowl or cup (be sure to keep the juice!), and spoon the pineapple into the bottom of the muffin cups, around each cherry. 

Blend together the rest of the ingredients, including about 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice (you can vary this amount, but don't add so much that your batter becomes too watery). Pour the batter into the muffin tin, over the pineapple & cherries, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven, and place the baking sheet upside down over the top of the muffin tin full of cupcakes. Immediately (and carefully) flip the entire tray over, and let sit for a few minutes. Lift the muffin tin away, and your cupcakes should be sitting right side up on the baking tray!

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Black Bottom Cupcakes (Gluten Free!)

Sometimes, the strangest food combinations actually go together, and combine to make something amazing, like chips on sandwiches, or cupcakes with bacon. Enter one of the most deliciously strange food combinations of all, chocolate and cheese, and you have the black bottom cupcake.

There are plenty of black bottom cupcake recipes to be found on the internet, but I decided to take a traditional recipe, and attempt to make it gluten free. It has been three months since I gave up gluten, and with Easter occurring in two days, it was important to me to have a recipe that would be safe to eat, without tasting "off" to the friends and family I would be sharing it with.

You will need:

For the cream cheese topping:
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the cake bottom:
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of gluten free all purpose baking flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/4 tsp of xanthan gum
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients for the cheese topping together, and set aside.

Mix the xanthan gum in with the olive oil until dissolved. Add the rest of the ingredients for the cake bottom, and mix until smooth. Pour the cake batter into greased muffin tin (I used muffin cups), filling each cup about halfway. Top with a scoop of the cheese mixture, and bake for 25 minutes.

This recipe makes 18 regular sized cupcakes, and they are amazing!

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Faux Potatoes: Mashed Cauliflower

When it comes to eating healthy, potatoes, in their many delicious forms, are my weakness. Sure, they technically count as vegetables (depending on who you ask), but they are, unfortunately, purveyors of copious amounts of sweet, sweet carbs.

I had heard of using cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes, and I was intrigued, but not totally convinced that mashed cauliflower didn't just look like mashed potatoes, without tasting like them. Here is the recipe that I used:

Note: I'm short on space in this apartment, and I'm not always sure that I will be able to use fresh veggies in time, so I chose to use frozen cauliflower. You can substitute a head of fresh cauliflower as you wish.

You will need:
  • 1 lb of cauliflower (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tsbp of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic (add more to taste)
  • 1/3 of an 8 oz block of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup of ground or grated parmesan cheese
  • Chives, basil, or other seasonings for garnish
  • A food processor
To make, boil or steam the cauliflower until hot. While it is still hot, add to the food processor along with the butter, cream cheese, parmesan, and garlic. Blend until smooth. Serve topped with chives (optional).

This recipe was really, surprisingly good, and similar to potatoes! While it was not exactly the same, it was definitely close enough, and would probably work very well in recipes that call for mashed potatoes, as a way to cut carbs.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

This chicken bacon ranch pasta recipe is a very filling dinner dish that is great served hot, or cold leftover the next day.

Note: this recipe is not gluten free as written, so be sure to substitute the flour and pasta for a gluten free variety if you are avoiding gluten!

You will need:

  • 13 ounces of pasta
  • 12 ounces of chicken
  • Bacon (approximately 10 strips)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Cook your chicken thoroughly, and cut into bite sized pieces (or you can use precooked chicken if you wish). Cut up your bacon into smaller pieces and cook with the butter until crispy.

Cook the noodles as instructed on the package.

Add the chicken, flour, ranch, milk, and cheddar cheese to the pan with the bacon, and cook over medium-high heat until all ingredients are blended and the cheese has melted. Pour the sauce over the noodles and mix everything together. Serve topped with parmesan cheese if desired, and enjoy!

This chicken bacon ranch pasta recipe is very filling, but also really good, and the leftovers are an easy lunch, because this pasta tastes great (maybe even better!) cold.

You may also enjoy:
Buffalo Chicken Tacos
Easy Mac and Cheese

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Tacos

These buffalo chicken tacos are extremely easy to make! Prep time is 10-15 minutes.

You will need:

  • 6 crunchy taco shells
  • 12 ounces shredded chicken
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup ranch dressing (can use bleu cheese if desired)
  • Shredded cheddar or other cheese of your choice
  • Cole slaw (you can find this with the pre-packaged salad in your grocery store)
Mix the chicken together with the hot sauce and ranch dressing in a small bowl. Arrange your taco shells on a baking sheet, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Fill the taco shells with shredded chicken, and top with cheddar cheese.

The stand up taco shells will be much easier for this, because at least one of the regular taco shells will fall over. However, if you have the regular taco shells, just be sure to stuff the cheese back in if they tip over. Bake the shells for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Add the cole slaw to the tacos, and enjoy!

The cole slaw adds a nice crunch to the taco, and offsets the spiciness of the chicken, while baking it all together not only heats up the chicken, but melts the cheese on top to help hold the contents together. That way, when you bite into your taco, it doesn't crack apart into so many pieces!

  You may also enjoy:
Buffalo Chicken Chili
Zesty Chicken Taco Quesadillas
Breakfast Muffins: All the Best Parts of Breakfast in One Little Cupcake!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Spicy Hummus & Parmesan Chicken

This recipe was so easy. I am always looking for ways to use chicken breasts in recipes, and this was a great way to use some leftover hummus!

You will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts (frozen is fine)
  • Approx. 4 tbsp hummus
  • Paprika
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • Grated parmesan
  • Parsley
For this recipe, I used a spicy hummus. If you have a regular hummus on hand, try mixing in some cayenne pepper to taste. While it definitely had a kick, this recipe is not too spicy, but it has a great flavor!

To start, arrange the chicken breasts in a baking dish or pan. While I used a baking pan (as you will see in pictures), I recommend using a smaller dish, where the chicken pieces will be closer together. This is because the hummus may melt while in the oven, and a smaller dish will help prevent it from sliding off of the chicken.

Cover your chicken breasts with the hummus. Be very careful not to dip the spoon used to press the hummus on the raw chicken back into the tub of hummus. If your spoon touches the raw chicken, and ends up back in the tub of hummus, do not eat what is left over.

Squeeze a few spritzes of your lemon or lime juice over the chicken. Sprinkle with paprika, and cover with a generous helping of grated parmesan. Finish with a sprinkle of parsley.

Cook the chicken in an oven preheated to 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes. 30 minutes worked for my frozen chicken, so if your chicken is not frozen, it should be finished in about twenty minutes.

Remove from the oven and enjoy! I served this with a side of quinoa pasta with alfredo and a mix of vegetables.

You may also be interested in:
Breakfast Muffins: All the Best Parts of Breakfast in One Little Cupcake! (gluten free/low carb)
Zesty Chicken Taco Quesadillas (gluten free/low carb)

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Zesty Chicken Taco Quesadillas

Tortillas were definitely off the table (literally and figuratively) when I decided to try a gluten free diet. Crunchy tacos seemed to be the only option, especially when my first and only attempt at soft tacos using corn tortillas was definitely not up to standard.

When I made my most recent grocery list, I casually browsed for another substitute item, prepared to risk another "sort of palatable" dinner. I found tortillas made of brown rice, which had mostly positive reviews. The only negative feedback was that they, like many other gluten free tortilla options, tended to get "crispy" or crumbly if the temperature was too cool. My reasoning for purchasing them was that I could use the brown rice tortillas for quesadillas, since the tortillas could remain flat (and not folded, which poses a problem with crumbly tortillas) and, since quesadillas are cooked on the stove, who cares if the quesadilla is a little "crispy"?!

You can use whichever tortillas you like, but, if you are on a gluten free eating plan, I highly recommend that you give this recipe a try.

Easy, Zesty Chicken Taco Quesadillas
(two servings)

You will need:
  • 4 tortillas
  • 12 oz. shredded chicken
  • Taco seasoning to taste (about 1/2 of 1.25 oz packet)
  • 1 & 1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice
  • Salsa & toppings as desired
To start, mix your shredded chicken in a bowl with the seasoning. I just used a pre-cooked can, but with a little extra prep time, you can cook and shred your own. Mix the seasoning well, making sure to coat all of the chicken, and avoiding clumps of seasoning.

Next, get your tortillas ready. If you are using regular wheat tortillas, you are probably all set.

If you are using gluten free tortillas, they may be frozen to start. Lay them flat between two paper towels (keeping another paper towel or wax paper between them) and microwave them for 30-60 seconds until warm. 

Next, layer cheese, the seasoned chicken, and another layer of cheese between the tortillas. Lightly coat a frying pan in non-stick cooking spray, and turn the stove to medium heat. Gently place your quesadilla in the pan, and cook until the cheese is mostly melted, for 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the bottom tortilla! Using a spatula, gently flip the quesadilla, and cook the other side for an additional 3-5 minutes. 

Repeat the process for the next tortilla. Slice the finished quesadillas into pieces with a pizza cutter, serve with salsa and toppings, and enjoy!

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Breakfast Muffins: All the Best Parts of Breakfast in One Little Cupcake!

These breakfast muffins are super simple to make, and they really have something for everyone! They are perfect for breakfast-lovers, and those who are eating a low carb or gluten free diet.

You will need:
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of shredded cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 6 sausage patties
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

I will admit, I used pre-cooked bacon and sausage for this recipe, but raw will work as well. Just be sure to check that everything is fully cooked before eating!

This recipe makes approximately 6 muffins. I ended up with a little bit of egg mixture left over, so I added a seventh muffin to the tin. 

To make, lightly spray your muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix your eggs and cheese together in a large bowl, along with the dash of pepper, or other seasonings as desired. Press the sausage patties into the bottom of each muffin tin, and wrap the bacon strip around the edges (it's okay if the bacon is sitting on top of the sausage patty, rather than wrapping all the way around the edge of it). Then, pour your egg and cheese mixture into the muffin tins. Because the egg will rise as it bakes, you only need to fill each tin about half way.

Sprinkle cheese on top if desired, and pop in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, and enjoy!

This was a really great and simple breakfast food that was filling and easy to make. They would also probably be good with the addition of peppers or mushrooms to the egg mixture.

You may also be interested:
Zesty Chicken Taco Quesadillas
Confetti Cake Brownies

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