Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta (Vegan & GF)

I’ve been craving mac and cheese for about 2 years now. Sad, I know. But I’ve decided that the effects cheese and milk have on my system aren’t worth the temporary satisfaction of a hot, steamy, comforting, cheesy, melty, delicious bowl of mac and cheese. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyways. However, I recently discovered the plethora of GF pasta options available in grocery stores like Whole Foods and ALDI, and  knew that I could find a way to fill the mac and cheese void in my life. Butternut squash is (obviously) the answer. I know there are still some of you out there who don’t want to be members of my butternut squash fan club *ahem, Matt* but let me tell you, this recipe is a game changer.

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Let’s talk about some of the seemingly unnecessary/obscure ingredients I use in my recipes, because I promise that once you stock up on them, you’ll use them all the time…

  1. Nutritional yeast- This is a staple for your dairy-free pantry that mimics the flavor of Parmesan cheese in any dish, and is full of protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
  2. Smoked paprika- I never knew or cared about the difference between regular paprika and smoked paprika until our trip to Southern Spain last year. Smoked paprika is used in lots of traditional vegetable dishes like chickpea stew, and as soon as I got home I bought a jar. A little goes a long way to create a smoky heat that brings out the flavor of just about any vegetable. Buy some!
  3. Roasted garlic- I know this seems like an extra step, but the flavor of roasted garlic is mild with this wonderfully creamy texture that makes a big difference in your finished product. I roast a couple heads at a time and keep them refrigerated in a jar so I can squeeze a couple cloves into whatever I’m cooking. I have instructions below.

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta

Makes about 4 servings

1/4 C raw cashews

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 package cubed butternut squash (about 3C)

3 cloves garlic

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

2 T nutritional yeast (optional)

1 t onion powder

1/2 t smoked paprika

1/4 t chili powder

1/4 – 1/3 C vegetable broth or water

1 package GF pasta

Optional roasted vegetables for serving (Brussels sprouts or kale)

Sriracha (optional)

Method:

Soak cashews in 1 C of boiling water for at least 30 minutes, until they soften and absorb a good amount of the water.

Preheat oven to 375°. Toss cubed butternut squash with olive oil, salt & pepper and roast in oven for about 30 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and set aside. (If you are making roasted vegetables to go with your pasta, make those now, too.)

Roasted garlic- Slice the very top off of a whole head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes until fragrant.

Prepare GF pasta according to package instructions. Do NOT over cook!

In a blender, combine roasted butternut squash, drained cashews, about 3 cloves of roasted garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and seasonings and pulse until combined. Add broth or water a little at a time and continue to pulse until you reach desired consistency (I left mine pretty thick).

Combine cooked pasta with sauce and top with roasted vegetables of choice and sriracha, hot sauce of choice, or crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

 

 

Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

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Ever since I finally caved and bought a sturdy dutch oven last month, I have found myself looking for any and every excuse to make one pot meals. Matt’s parents had us over for lunch on Sunday and I decided to experiment with a vegan risotto. The finished product was vibrant and comforting, but still healthy with the addition of colorful roasted vegetables on top. I brought this risotto along with us to my in-laws, and this is what I learned:

  1. If you put a bowl of fresh Parmesan alongside the dish, no one cares that it’s vegan.
  2. Rainy Sunday afternoon + comforting risotto for lunch + wine = me falling asleep on the car ride home.

The sun dried tomatoes lend a really nice texture and acidity to the dish, which balances out the creaminess of the risotto. If you aren’t vegetarian, you can use any kind of broth you happen to have on hand. The best part is that you can top risotto with anything! I used fresh parsley, pine nuts, and store-bought pesto. This would be great with Italian sausage as well (definitely not vegan, I know.)

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I think some people are intimidated by the thought of making risotto at home, but it is truly hard to mess up. Risotto can be time-consuming because it requires standing over the stove as you stir the broth in a little at a time, but as long as you have hot broth ready to add in along the cooking process, it shouldn’t take more than 40 minutes. You can also view this time you’re spending stirring the risotto as quiet time in the kitchen, drinking wine. That’s what I choose to do 🙂

Risotto is my go-to dish for Pot Lucks because it’s a crowd pleaser, and you can use just about anything in terms of vegetables and seasonings. I love bringing this extremely heavy Dutch oven with me with the hot risotto inside because I make Matt carry it and I can just throw it in the oven at a low temp to warm back up when we get where we’re going! Easy as that.

Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Risotto with Roasted Vegetables

Makes 4-6 main course servings or 6-8 side dish servings

2 1/2 T good olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 small zucchini, quartered and diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 red onion, chopped

2 shallots, finely diced

1 C Arborio rice

4 C broth of choice

1/3 C dry white wine

1/2 C sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 t dried basil

1/4 C nutritional yeast (optional) or 1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese if not vegan

Toppings such as fresh parsley, pine nuts, pesto, etc.

Method:

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and red onion with 1 1/2 T olive oil, salt and pepper on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

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Heat Dutch oven or medium pot and add remaining tablespoon of oil. In a separate pot, heat broth on low/medium heat.

Saute shallots in Dutch oven for about 4 minutes, until they turn translucent. Add rice and stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 2 more minutes. Add wine and let simmer for 3-4 minutes.

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Add broth, one ladle at a time, stirring frequently and cooking until rice absorbs liquid fully before adding next ladle of broth. When the broth is about halfway gone, add sun dried tomatoes and dried basil and continue adding broth one ladle at a time and stirring until fully absorbed. When all broth is used and liquid fully absorbed into rice, turn off heat and stir in nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese. Serve with roasted vegetables and toppings of choice and enjoy!

Autumn Quiche with Paleo Crust

It’s a lazy Saturday morning and I have a bunch of random vegetables laying around, so you know what what means- QUICHE! I haven’t made a quiche with a crust for a long time, and now that I’m avoiding gluten, I needed to conjure up a new recipe. I found a recipe from Paleo Running Momma that uses a combination of gluten free flours, but sounded simple enough. I tweaked it just a tad, and it came out wonderfully. This crust is quick and easy, and doesn’t require any rolling out!

I had some turkey sausage and fresh sage to use, so I thought I’d combine some autumn flavors for a hearty and filling paleo breakfast. Like my other quiche recipe, you can use any vegetables and meat you have on hand and as long as you stick to similar measurements, it will turn out great! For example, I used leftover cooked acorn squash as the carb-y vegetable in my quiche, but hash browns or leftover roasted potatoes would be great too!

I tried something new today by not adding any milk to the egg mixture and really liked the results. It came out a little richer, and had amazing flavor. The pinch of smoked paprika adds a nice amount of heat that perfectly compliments the flavors of the turkey sausage and fresh veggies. Matt is a tough judge when it comes to quiche, as he is not a fan of eggs, so his seal of approval this morning was a real success.

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Autumn Quiche with Paleo Crust

Makes 6-8 servings

For the crust:

1 C almond flour

2 T coconut flour

2/3 C tapioca flour

1/3 C cold ghee or vegan butter

Pinch sea salt

1 egg

For the filling:

1 C cooked squash, cubed (or substitute with hash browns or cooked potatoes)

1/2 bell pepper (about 3/4 C) diced

1/2 yellow onion (about 3/4 C) diced

3/4 lb turkey sausage

1 t fresh sage, chopped

6 eggs

Salt & pepper

Pinch smoked paprika

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°.

For the crust, combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and use pastry cutter or two butter knives to cut butter and egg into dry ingredients. When dough starts to form, use clean hands to knead. Turn dough into pie dish and lightly spray your hands with nonstick oil. Press crust onto bottom and sides of pie dish lightly, until evenly distributed. Pierce with a fork to prevent crust from rising, and bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, and lower oven temperature to 350°.

In medium skillet, cook sausage until no longer pink, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks. Drain fat and discard. Add onion and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, until onion starts to turn translucent. Add bell peppers and season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat. Add squash or leftover potatoes to pie dish, sprinkle sage, and add mixture from skillet, distributing evenly over crust.

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In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and carefully pour into pie dish. Bake at 350°  for 40-45 minutes, until nice and brown on edges and eggs are completely set completely in middle of quiche. Let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes, and use knife to loosen crust from sides of pie dish for easier serving. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Tip** for a nice golden top, turn oven to broil for last 5 minutes of cooking. Watch quiche very carefully during this step so it doesn’t burn!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

As the weather begins to turn and the days get shorter, I find myself craving warm, hearty meals. Pot roast is one of my Grandma’s specialties, and making it at home always reminds me of Sunday dinners at her house. She makes a hearty gravy and butter-filled mashed potatoes to go along with it, so it took me a while to find a recipe that was almost as delicious and comforting as hers without the added dairy and gluten.

I finally found a winner by adapting Cooking Light’s pot roast recipe; reducing the number of servings and turning it into the perfect slow cooker recipe.  This pot roast is my go-to cure the Sunday Scaries, and leaves us with at least one or two more meal’s worth of leftovers for weeknights. When I am on the Whole 30 or am making a conscious effort to avoid alcohol, I simply omit the wine and replace it with more beef broth.

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Instead of cooking the potatoes in the crock pot, I made dairy-free mashed potatoes to mimic Grandma’s dinner

Searing the roast before adding it to the crock pot may sound like an annoying, unnecessary step, but let me tell you- it makes a huge difference. It seals in the juice and flavor, keeping the roast tender and moist while it’s in the slow cooker. Please don’t skip this step- you will not get the same great results.

After making this a few times, I learned to add the carrots and potatoes towards the end of the cooking process so they aren’t  complete mush when the roast is ready. I like my veggies al-dente, so this fix works for me. If you’d like very soft carrots and potatoes, feel free to throw those in the crock pot at the beginning of the cooking process.

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Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Makes about 6 servings

2 1/2 – 3 lb boneless chuck roast

1 t sea salt

1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

2 T ghee or olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

3/4 C red wine

2 C organic beef broth

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 t dried thyme, or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 t dried rosemary, or 2 t fresh rosemary, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into eighths

4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes cut into eighths

Method:

Heat dutch oven or large frying pan. Once pan is hot, add ghee or olive oil. Salt and pepper all sides of chuck roast. Add meat to pan and sear every exposed side of meat for about 1-2 minutes, until brown.

Add seared chuck roast to slow cooker, making sure to include all juice and scrapings from pan. Add onion, wine, beef broth, bay leaf, garlic, and thyme. Set slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

Tip** If you’ll be home while the roast is cooking, baste roast with liquid every hour or so. If you’re setting it and going to work, just make sure pot roast is mostly covered with liquid.

When there is about 1 1/2 hours of cooking left, add peeled carrots and potatoes and a little more salt and pepper to slow cooker. You’ll know beef is done when it’s tender enough to fall apart.

Cut roast into large chunks, and serve with potatoes, carrots, and a ladle of broth mixture. Enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash (Whole 30 & Paleo)

My mom always baked acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, until it was so soft it was basically falling away from the skin. The top would perfectly caramelize, making the whole house smell like Thanksgiving. When I make it now, one bite brings me straight back to eating dinner as a family at our kitchen table in the house on Parkside.

I had some organic pork sausage in the fridge this week and thought the best way to kick off my squash marathon would be by stuffing the one I’m most familiar with a bunch of yummy things!  I have to say that this turned out so delicious, I’m inserting it into my week night meal rotation for the rest of the year. If you don’t like one or two of the stuffing ingredients, just sub it out for something else! This meal is so hearty and flavorful, I believe it has the power to convert even the weariest of the squash-avoiders.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

Makes about 4 servings

2 acorn squashes

1 T olive oil or coconut oil

1 lb bulk pork sausage (sugar-free if you’re doing Whole 30/ Paleo)

1 small onion diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 small apple diced

3 handfuls chopped kale

1 t dried rosemary

1 t dried thyme

1 t garlic powder

Pinch of allspice

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 C golden raisins

1/3 C chopped pecans

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley for garnish

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Method:

Heat oven to 400°

Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Brush with oil and salt. Place cut side down on baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and bake for about 35 mins, or until soft.

Meanwhile,  brown sausage in a pan over medium heat until no longer pink. Keep fat in there! It adds so much flavor. Add onion, apple, and celery, cooking until soft. Add kale, and stir until wilted.

Add all seasonings, raisins, and pecans. Stir until combined and remove from heat. Spoon into prepared squash and top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie (DF, GF)

There are few things as comforting and satisfying as something home-made, fresh out of the oven on a cold and rainy fall day. I have been craving chicken pot pie and finally mustered the courage to try a grain-free, dairy-free version. If you know me, you know I LOVE making pie, but this one presented a challenge with its absence of gluten to keep the crust pretty and in-tact.

If you don’t need to make this recipe dairy-free/gluten-free/paleo, go ahead and buy a store-bought crust to save time. You can make this a double crust or single crust pie!

If you’re feeling up to the challenge, I swear it’s worth it! The dough was easy to pull together, but not as easy to roll out, so I’ve included some helpful tips below.

I made chicken breasts in the crock pot yesterday, and had them shredded and ready to go in the fridge, which saved me a lot of time during prep and clean-up. The filling is filled with colorful veggies, herbs, and the coconut milk/chicken broth combo is so hearty. It turned out amazing. (I had to stop myself from snacking on it while I rolled out the crust). I swear you won’t notice the absence of dairy in this dish.

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Chicken Pot Pie (dairy-fee & gluten-free)

makes one 8″ round pie

For the crust:

**single crust recipe

1 C almond flour

1/4 C tapioca flour

1/4 C coconut flour

1/2 t salt

9 T cold Earth Balance vegan butter, or 9 T cold ghee

1/2 t dried oregano

1/2 t dried thyme

1 t onion powder

1 t garlic powder

2-3 T ice cold water

Method:

Combine all ingredients besides water in food processor, pulsing until dough begins to lump together. Slowly add water, 1 T at a time, stopping when all dough comes together. You don’t want to add too much, or it’ll be tricky to manage when rolling out. Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and flatten into a disk. Cover completely with wrap and set in fridge for about 1 hour.

For the filling:Pie4

2 C cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works great)

2 herb cubes (from my last post!)

3 medium carrots chopped

3 stalks celery chopped

1 medium yellow onion chopped

1/4 C green peans or green beans (I used frozen)

2 garlic cloves minced

1/4 C arrowroot powder or corn starch

1 C light coconut milk

3/4 chicken broth

Salt & pepper

1/4 C chopped fresh parsley

Method:

Heat 2 herb cubes (or 2 T oil) in dutch oven over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, celery, and onions. Saute for 2 mins or until onions turn translucent. Add in frozen (or fresh) peas/green beans and garlic, and saute for another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Add arrowroot powder or cornstarch and mix to coat vegetables. Slowly add coconut milk and chicken broth, making sure to scrape bottom of pan. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a low boil. Continue to heat and mix until simmering and you see the mixture thicken. Spoon filling into bottom of pie dish and set aside to cool slightly. Sprinkle filling with fresh parsley.

Heat oven to 350°

If you cheated and bought pie crust at the store (jk I’m not judging), make sure it’s nice and defrosted so it’s easy to work with. If you made it per my recipe above, take it out of the fridge and roll out between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. DO NOT attempt to roll it out on your counter- GF dough is very sticky.

Transfer dough on top of pie and pinch around the edges to seal to the pie pan. Brush it with a little egg wash if you’re feeling fancy, and prick a few holes in the top for ventilation. Place in middle of preheated oven with a cookie sheet underneath to catch any filling that bubbles over. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Serve warm with more fresh herbs on top. Enjoy!

Fall Vegetable Soup

What makes this soup “Fall Vegetable” soup? One of my favorite things about Fall (if you haven’t noticed, it’s a very long list) is the abundance of butternut squash at the Farmer’s Market. Evanston’s Farmer’s Market is full of vendors from Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, and yesterday their tents were full of colorful squashes and veggies, reminding me of one of my favorite soup recipes! This goes out to my vegetarian friends (all two of them) but can be customized however you like. You can sub chicken broth in for the vegetable broth, or add sausage/chicken/noodles. I love making this soup on Sunday and having it ready for lunches all week.

Tip– if you’d rather not tackle cubing a butternut squash, Trader Joe’s sells them pre-cut in the refrigerated section.

Autumn Veggie Soup

Fall Vegetable Soup

Makes about 6 servings

1 T olive oil

1 medium white or yellow onion

2 large carrots, peeled and cubed

2 1/2 C butternut squash, cubed

2 cups yellow potatoes, cubed

1 zucchini, cubed

2 cloves garlic

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

4 C (one carton) vegetable broth

1 T fresh rosemary

1 T fresh parsley

1 t dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1-2 t crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can kidney beans (drained)

3 C kale

Method:

In large soup pot/Dutch oven, heat olive oil and add onion, carrots, and butternut squash. Cook and stir for 3 mins. Add potatoes, garlic, and zucchini and cook for another 2 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, broth, and herbs, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When vegetables are tender, add drained kidney beans and kale and heat until kale is wilted. Enjoy!

*freezes very well