I don’t know what your schedule is like, but mine definitely needs a lot more room for free time. Even those days when I am particularly virtuous and get up at five to exercise seem like they don’t have enough hours. By the time I get home from work at night, there aren’t many hours until I’m supposed to hit the sack.
One trick I’ve mastered is making fast meals. As I’ve mentioned before, so often, going out to eat feels like a huge burden — if it’s a new place, I have to determine which menu items fit into my gluten-free diet; if it’s a familiar place, the foods I can eat lead to a repetitive (and sometimes boring) dining experience. Cooking at home lets me explore the variety of foods I love.
But, like I said, it’s gotta be fast. It’s gotta be easy. It’s gotta be delicious. And if it’s a recipe that delivers leftovers as well, then bonus points all around! Continue reading “Frittata Ideas for Weeknight Meals”
One night, I was at my local Mexican joint, and wanting something, well, cheesy. Quesadilla cheesy. Since we’ve been going to this place for about twenty years (we are nothing if not loyal customers!), the staff are accustomed to my modifications to their menu.
Mostly, this means taking the tomatoes out of whatever dish I choose. I’m not much of a raw tomato person. This time, however, I went for the big substitution: corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas in a quesadilla.
My server didn’t even blink. And, I kid you not, that was the best quesadilla I’d had in years. Even my own weren’t that tasty. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but indulge me. I had a quesadilla in a restaurant. Continue reading “Gluten-Free Quesadilla Options”
Let’s get this out of the way first: there is no right way to build Huevos Rancheros. There are, of course, a few basic ingredients — corn tortillas, eggs, ranchero sauce and/or salsa, and beans. After that, it’s all about using your imagination. This, I believe, is what makes Huevos Rancheros perfect for a casual breakfast, a slightly more formal brunch, or a weeknight meal.
(I should note I frequently break the tortilla-as-key-ingredient rule, sometimes substituting Black Bean and Quinoa cakes for tortillas. Don’t judge!)
This recipe comes together fast, so I like to have everything set up and ready to go as soon as the eggs are ready.
Years ago during South by Southwest, my husband and I snuck out for a meal by ourselves. We ended up at the Moonshine Grill in downtown Austin. On the menu was an amazing macaroni and cheese with spicy green peppers. The moment we returned home, I started trying to recreate this recipe.
Over time, I stopped trying to make Moonshine’s mac and cheese, focusing instead on making my own. My ever-faithful bookclub has cheerfully (and hungrily) endured my experiments over the years, and there was only one major failure. Note to all: soymilk is not a good substitute for real milk in this instance.
You live, you learn.
From my perspective, the key to good mac and cheese is a mix of cheeses that bring appropriate meltiness and flavor. As a rule, I rely upon good old-fashioned regular milk when making my cheese sauce, but have, once or twice, tried out evaporated milk. The latter does add an interesting creaminess to the sauce…and that weird evaporated milk smell completely disappears in the sauce.
Needless to say, this recipe makes excellent leftovers. I do find that gluten-free pastas tend to absorb a lot of sauce, so I tend to go heavy on the sauce, lighter on the noodles.
I love me some burgers, and — truly! — since going gluten free, I think of burgers as jumping-off points for really fun meals. When I think back to how I felt after eating a burger with a bun (and, especially at restaurants, trying to figure out how to consumer the massive meal I was served), I realize how I don’t miss the bread.
As you can see from the variations below, think of the basic burger as a canvas for tasty variations. Serve with gluten-free fries (Tater Tots are GF!) or mashed potatoes or a green salad. Or any salad you like. Burgers are quick and easy weeknight meals.
Condiments can range from the traditional ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard to pesto sauce or salsa. Add your favorite cheese, if cheese is your thing.
- Basic Cheeseburger: Burger. Cheese. Oh, and whatever else floats your boat. Include the condiment(s) of your choice. Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce or baby lettuce mix.
- Bacon Cheeseburger: Top your Basic Cheeseburger with two slices of fried bacon and grilled onions. Promise yourself you’ll go to the gym in the morning. Make this even more decadent by drizzling gluten-free barbecue sauce over the whole thing.
- Avocado Burger: Yes, this is as simple as it sounds. Top the Basic Cheeseburger with sliced fresh avocado. Or guacamole, if you prefer. You can make a light avocado salad with cubed avocado, diced tomatoes, diced onion, and a bit of lemon juice. Add a little salt and pepper and you have an elegant topping for a burger! Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce. Skip the cheese if you want. Ain’t nobody judging your burger.
- Goat Cheese, Spinach, and Pesto Burger: Prepare your basic burger. Serve on a bed of freshly chopped or wilted spinach. Top with a tablespoon or so of pesto sauce. Finish with a dollop of goat’s cheese. For extra credit, if you have extra roasted garlic around the house (hey, you might!), spread a thin layer of garlic over the burger before adding the pesto. Note: carmelized onions also work very well with this combination. So do roasted red peppers. If you want to gussy up your spinach, lightly dress it with a vinaigrette.
- Huevos Rancheros Burger: Have I mentioned my love of Huevos Rancheros? No? Hmm, you need to read more of my recipes! Seriously, this traditional Mexican breakfast dish can be adapted to just about any meal you can imagine. In this incarnation, the burger takes the place of the tortilla, and the rest of the ingredients are layered on top of the meat. Start with a few spoonfuls of tomatillo salsa on your plate (I prefer the tanginess of tomatillo, but if you’re a tomato salsa person, go your own way). Add the burger, with or without melted cheese (a pepper jack is perfect here). Top with a fried egg and sliced avocado. Finally, drizzle more salsa over the top. Serve with fries, tortilla chips, or even refried beans (heck, if you have leftover refried beans, you can substitute them as the base for your Huevos Ranchero burger).
- Mediterranean Burger: Top your basic burger with a salsa of chopped tomatoes and cucumber. Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese over the top. Serve over a green salad lightly dressed with a lemony vinaigrette dressing. Tomato-Cucumber Salsa: Chop the tomatoes and cucumbers (use a seedless English cucumber if available), season with salt and freshly ground pepper. If you like red onion, add some into the mix. For added flavor, mix in a teaspoon of chopped fresh mint and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. Let the flavors marinate together at room temperature while you make the rest of the meal.
- Smash Burger: I like a smash burger when I’m grilling indoors. The concept is simple: instead of forming patties in advance, place balls of ground beef — about four ounces each — onto a hot grill. Let sizzle a minute and then smash down with your spatula to form a thin patty. Season with salt and pepper and cook until done. Only flip once during cooking. Add your favorite fast-melting cheese.
Easy, easy, easy weeknight dish. And versatile. There is no right way to make enchiladas…don’t want to roll your filling in your tortilla? Go ahead, make layers like lasagna. Change up the ingredients to suit yourself. It’s all good.
Since I make my own chicken stock, I often have leftover (bland) boiled chicken. This is a great dish for using up extra chicken, and the heat can be adjusted to suit your tastes. You can make this red or green — though, in all honesty, I prefer a green salsa. The tanginess of the tomatillo makes my tastebuds happy.
Also, I prefer salsa to pre-made enchilada sauce. For reasons that escape me, the sauces sold by my local store all contain wheat. Weird. Your mileage may vary.
Nachos are the ultimate party food (and, sometimes, main course). They’re great for those parties where sitting around and munching is an essential part of the gathering. As with so many dishes, Nachos are a flexible food: other than a base of tortilla chips and a good amount of gooey cheese, what you put on your dish is your business.
A note about nachos: they can made vegetarian or with your favorite type of meat.
If you wish to make your own guacamole, find the recipe here.