Thursday, March 31, 2011

easy chocolate and cream cheese cupcakes

Anyone who is short on time and loves a good cupcake will love this recipe. This recipe yields 12 cupcakes.

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups GF all purpose flour
1/4 cup Hershey's baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup coconut oil (or any oil on hand)
1 T vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl combine first four ingredients, add chocolate chips, and set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake paper-lined muffin tins halfway with the chocolate mixture, then drop a large spoonful of the cheese mixture on top of the chocolate (to fill the cups to 3/4 full). Bake for about 18 minutes.

So simple, anyone who is severely kitchen-challenged can still make these!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

decadent dark chocolate cupcakes

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, "American Classics 2009"

As much as I LOVE chocolate, I'm not a huge chocolate cupcake lover. However, I really enjoyed these chocolate cupcakes because they weren't overly sweet and they were incredibly moist, which always makes for a better cupcake. Considering that I took them to a party where only about 8 people partook in the cupcakes, and all of the 12 of these were eaten, along with another variety I made as well, I'm guessing everyone agreed these were pretty darned tasty.

Makes 12 cupcakes. Do not double batch.

8 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Hershey's baking cocoa
3/4 cup GF all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Combine butter, chocolate chips and cocoa in a medium heat-safe bowl and microwave for about 3 minutes, pulling out and stirring every minute to melt evenly. Set aside to cool. Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl to combine and set aside. In a separate, large bowl, whisk the eggs, add sugar, vanilla, salt and whisk until fully blended. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk. Whisk in 1/2 of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Whisk in sour cream, then sift in remaining flour mixture until batter is smooth and thick. Pour batter evenly into cups and bake for about 16 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Ice with meringue buttercream, if desired, recipe for buttercream can be found at: Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Taco Tuesday!

Authentic Mexican food is actually very healthy and gluten free. In my household growing up, my mom would make tacos when we wanted to make something fast and easy. It's also pretty darn cheap. What a concept: fast, cheap, easy, healthy... wow. Anyway, Jake loves mexican food and it's just so much better to make it at home than going out and having a grease-fest at your local Mexican restaurant.

soft corn tacos (get them in the refrigerated section)
1.5 lbs of ground beef (for 3 people), browned and drained and seasoned*
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup of grated cabot jalapeno cheese
salsa (home-made or store-bought), I used jalapeno salsa and black bean salsa
whatever other topping you would like (mushrooms, black beans..)

Just warm the tacos in the microwave covered with a wet paper towel for 1 minute. Place the ingredients in separate bowls on the table and each person can make their own individual tacos.

You can also substitute the beef with chicken or mushrooms.

*Taco seasoning:
1 T chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch salt
pinch pepper

Monday, March 28, 2011

oatmeal, how convenient!

Oatmeal is awesome. I mean sure, it's not a bowl of ice cream, nor is it that lovely huge chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. However, it is instead a very nutritious bowl of goodness. It's full of Omega 3s which are great for lowering cortisol levels which make many blood type A people gain weight so easily, as well as good for anyone to increase their heart health and even mood in many cases. Oatmeal is also full of fiber which, when paired with protein, is the perfect diet. Grains are apparently good for you... which I don't believe, but I will believe that brown rice and oatmeal are the only grains that you can truly benefit from. Both will fill your stomach and keep you fuller for a longer period of time than the other grains which really don't do much of anything for you.

I will admit that I have always hated oatmeal. I have tried for about 5 years now to like the mushy stuff. I finally came up with a recipe earlier this year, the dark chocolate molasses, that I actually enjoyed. Much to my excitement, my life changed when I walked into the grocery store the other day. There was a whole section of little convenient boxes of oatmeal made by Better Oats. There was a large selection of oatmeal packets such as Raw, Oatfit which only contain 100 calories per packet, Organic, Protein-rich, and more. The flavors were apple cinnamon, maple and brown sugar, plain, dark chocolate, cinnamon roll (my personal favorite), and several others. Of course, I grabbed several boxes even before trying them (because anytime I only buy one of anything to "try it" I go back the next time and everything is all sold out). I tried them all and loved them all. My favorite part about these packets are that each box contains 5 single serving packets. I tear off the top of the packet, pour the oatmeal out into a medium sized cup, fill the packet with water, dump the water into the cup of oatmeal, and microwave for 90 seconds. In 90 seconds, you have a wonderful meal to keep you going while at work or wherever you are. As you know, I must have 6-8 small meals a day, and this is one of them. 

More information can be found at . Nowhere on the box does it say "gluten free" and they are processed at a facility that processes wheat, so you may not want to try these. However, I have tried most of them and have not had any kind of reaction, and I am incredibly sensitive. I did find on the site that a few of the "raw" variety contain barley so I would stay clear of those. Yay for oatmeal!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

killer training... ending it with a bang

My legs are still in pain from my hardcore leg workout on Tuesday, but I figure it's been a few days so I should be able to handle another leg workout today. The stronger my legs are, the more they can handle at the half marathon sneaking up so quickly in two weeks.

I have never been so un-trained for a race before. Well, I was incredibly un-trained for my first half marathon three years ago, which is why I did so badly. The good thing is, I am in three times the kind of shape I was in back then, so I can at least handle this race. My hubby on the other hand... well I feel pretty bad for him. On submarines it is nearly impossible to train for any kind of race, or any kind of athletic event for that matter. He is the kind of person who hates to be less than 100% for anything, but the terrific runner that he is will still finish in around the same time I will finish even though he has run maybe three times total in the past year.

Anyway, after my 45 minutes long leg and shoulder workout today, I will go hit the hills at Mt. Trashmore. Jake and I are running the best half marathon ever in my opinion, the 2nd annual Outer Banks Flying Pirate Half Marathon. The race is so scenic, some of it slightly on trail, winding through the Wright Brother's Museum, then just as you think you've only got a short 20 minutes to go, you end up running on HUGE man-made hills that make you want to simply roll down that final incredibly large hill into the finish line. Last year, I was in great shape, at the end of my training for the White Lake Half Ironman. I ran an average of a 7:50 pace throughout the entire half, until I hit the last 3 miles and I slowed up to probably about a 9 minute mile or so due to those crazy hills that made me motion-sick. In order to deter the whole sickness, I am running a 30 minutes loop around Mt. Trashmore then ending the run with 20 minutes of simply running up and over the hills several times. Finishing your running workouts with the toughest part at the end is the best way to train for any endurance event, especially if that event has you ending your race with the most difficult barriers.

Let's just say I might end up crying during my run today, considering how little I have run this year. What keeps me going is the knowledge that my always-willing husband will be running alongside me during the race, in much worse condition than myself, all the while not showing his lack of condition whatsoever, well, besides his red face and mouth hanging open. It's all for fun!

Jake got his fish!!! ... and a GF chocolate chip cookie cake to go with them :)

I'm so proud of my hubby!! Not only is he a super incredibly amazing husband who could do no wrong, he is also smart and driven and is now a fully qualified submarine officer, and I wanted to show him how proud I am. He loves cookie cakes, and I have never made one. This one is light and fluffy and I even attempted to decorate it with an edible version of dolphin pins using cream cheese icing. Yeah, that part didn't turn out so well, but I'm pretty sure you (if you're part of the submarine life) get the picture. I lack any talent when it comes to visual art, but when you're married to someone awesome, it doesn't matter.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip/Peanut Butter Chip Cookie Cake:
1 1/4 cups rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate and peanut butter chips

In small bowl, whisk flours, starch, xanthan gum, soda and salt and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until everything is well blended. Add flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into cake tin (I used a 9 inch tin) and press to flatten. Bake until golden, 25 minutes. Cool and add icing if desired.

Cream cheese icing:
4 oz. butter
4 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. powdered sugar

Thursday, March 24, 2011

easy bacon and chicken... healthier than it sounds!

I branched out and made something that wasn't spicy. It was good! Well actually, it was great. This is sort of like the Alice Springs Chicken you would get at Outback, but about 90% healthier, simply because it's not baked in fat and covered in sugar and more fat. I served it with a side salad: spinach, fuji apples, walnuts, craisins, and honey mustard vinaigrette.

3 fresh, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup worstershire sauce
1/4 cup Annie's lite honey mustard vinaigrette
herbes de province pinch (or italian herbs)
1 small onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 T olive oil
about 9 sliced bacon, fried
1 cup cabot 50% reduced fat jalapeno cheese (or whatever you want)

Marinate the chicken in the worstershire, vinaigrette, salt, pepper, and herbs for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grill chicken on low for approximately 7 minutes per side. While chicken is on grill, saute the onions and mushrooms in the olive oil until mushrooms are fully cooked and almost soggy. Remove chicken from grill, top with 3 sliced of bacon per breast, then mushroom mixture, then cheese and bake in an oven-safe casserole dish for about 5 minutes. Enjoy your delicious protein packed meal!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

shrimp and stir-fry sauce

Adapted from Rocco Dispirito's Now Eat This: Rockin' Asian Stir-Fry Sauce

Last time I made this dish, I added lots of veggies such as onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and spinach. However, Jake decided to come home early and I had nothing prepared. I ran to the grocery store and grabbed some shrimp from the seafood department and threw together the sauce and wah-lah! Dinner was served. I make it sound so simple (which it is) but this sauce is so delicious, I could eat it over anything... pasta, chicken, veggies... whatever.

1.5 lbs shrimp, peeled
1 T sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch scallions, chopped fine
1 T cornstarch
6 T GF low sodium soy sauce
3/4 low-fat, low-sodium all natural chicken broth
3 T vinegar
1/2 cup simply Heinz ketchup
salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper

Heat large skilled over high heat. Add sesame oil to hot pan. Add ginger, garlic, and scallions and saute for a couple of minutes. Place cornstarch in a medium bowl, add the soy sauce, broth, vinegar, and ketchup and whisk together. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the pan and bring to simmer, whisking constantly until thickened. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper. Add the peeled shrimp and saute until shrimp are done. Serve over pad thai noodles, rice or over steamed veggies. Quick and tasty!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Burtons Grill: best restaurant experience ever

    Jake wanted to take me out to a restaurant, which is pretty difficult to do. We went to Croc's in Virginia Beach thinking they would have anything that could be gluten free, considering they advertise that they sell nothing but local and fresh food. However, they didn't even have shrimp that wasn't already breaded or anything else for that matter. Honestly, if something is fresh, it doesn't have gluten. So how in the world do you advertise your restaurant to serve fresh food when it really isn't? Don't get me wrong, I will still count on Croc's for cheap drinks on Friday nights :)
    One time for lunch I stayed later at work than I had originally planned, so I went into Panera Bread to get a smoothie. I also asked for a soup while I was at it, the only one that didn't have gluten (I looked it up online but can't remember which one it is now). The girl said they were out of it but I could have some new soup Panera just added to the menu. I asked if it contained gluten, and she responded "Oh every soup is just fine." I asked for the allergy checklist to make sure and every one of their soups besides the one I asked for had gluten. Wow. You would think someone in the food service industry would know how to answer their customers concerning their food.
    This weekend, I went to Starbucks. I got a drink and they were handing out free new desserts with each purchased beverage. I was about to say no when I spotted a caramel-nutty square. It appeared to contain nothing but nuts, caramel, and melted chocolate. I asked the barista if she knew whether that square contained gluten. She looked at me with such perky confidence and answered, "Oh I'm sure it's chock full of gluten!" I apparently gave her some look (I'm not good at hiding my thoughts) because she followed up her response with "I'm guessing everything that is full of fat or full of sugar is also full of gluten." I told her gluten is a wheat protein and has nothing to do with fat or sugar and she was completely lost. Another wow.
    I totally understand if a person with no intolerances who doesn't work in the food service industry would not know what gluten is. Heck, I didn't know what it was until it turned out to be why I was so ill. But if you are someone who serves a large number of people on a daily basis, you should probably have a good bit of knowledge about food allergies and intolerances. Someone commented after I walked away from the dessert that I have such great self control. In my head, I was thinking, no woman, it's self preservation. But the woman was just a customer so I don't blame her for not having a clue.
    Getting to my point, Jake took me to Burtons Grill in Virginia Beach. Oh my goodness, what an experience. As soon as we walked in, the host asked if I would like a gluten free menu. I wanted to hug him. Once we were seated, our incredibly awesome and thoughtful waitress recognized my gluten free menu, and told us the specials for the day, and told us which specials could be made gluten free if they weren't already. I ordered the local Rockfish with Shrimp and Crab Risotto. The fish was bronzed to perfection and was so fresh and delicious. I also ordered a Bacardi mojito. The bartender walked over to our table and told us she was looking online, and found a website that said Bacardi rum may have caused a reaction in a Celiac. She asked if I wanted anything else or if I have had that rum so I would know whether I would be okay to drink it. I told her it would be fine since I've had it and I know it's distilled and gluten free. Someone must have had a hangover and made some dumb assumption that it was the gluten. Anyway, it was awesome that the bartender actually took the time to look up the ingredients to make sure I was safe to drink it. Then it came time for dessert... mine and Jake's favorite time of day. Jake ordered the hot fudge sundae, which would be sprinkled with heath bar (which is processed in a factory that contains wheat, but I've never had any kind of reaction). The waitress informed me of this to make sure it would okay. Honestly, I felt like I was eating dinner at my parents' house. If you go to your parents' house for dinner, they are going to do everything possible to make sure nothing you eat makes you sick. That's exactly how it was at Burtons. The staff treated me like a queen. It was the most phenomenal service either of us have ever received at a restaurant... or any public establishment for that matter. I can understand why Burtons Grill is number 1 or 2 on Trip Advisor. I hope this restaurant lasts because I certainly appreciate having a place I can count on going and enjoying  like a normal person.

Monday, March 14, 2011

semi-homemade samoas, yes, GF!

You can't really ask for anything more than caramel, chocolate, and coconut, all rolled into one cookie. I miss those girl scout cookies (Samoas) so badly. I think they were brought up in about 3 completely separate conversations over the weekend. My niece asked her mommy right before bedtime if she could have some, she couldn't, and she almost cried (although she was allowed to have 1 since her mommy is so nice). I told her I wanted some too, and I think I wanted to cry as well. Seriously. So anyway, I made some.

Warning: these are in no way healthy. Well, I guess you could make the argument that chocolate makes you happy and coconut is healthy fat, but to be completely honest, these are not good for you, sorry :)

You have the option of making some homemade butter cookies and use those, but these cookies are time-consuming enough. I used Schars brand shortbread cookies and these turned out well.

2 bags Schars GF shortbread cookies (or 3 dozen butter cookies)
1 bag (14 oz) chewy caramels (make sure they are gluten free.. I used Kraft)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 T. coconut milk
3 cups coconut flakes, toasted (toast at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring often)
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt the caramels, milk, and salt in a microwave safe bowl for about 4 minutes, stirring in order help it melt evenly. While caramels are melting, place the cookies out on parchment paper. When caramel is smooth, stir in toasted coconut flakes. Spread a dollop of the mixture onto each cookie. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dunk the bottom of each cookie into the melted chocolate and place back onto the parchment paper. Once all cookies are dunked, drizzle the chocolate over the cookies. Remember, if the caramel starts to harden or the chocolate does, while you are working on them, pop it back into the microwave. Allow cookies to cool before moving and storing them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

spicy garlic baked chicken breasts with fried rice

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine's Asian-Glazed Chicken Thighs
If you love garlic, which you know how much I hate ( LOVE ) it, you will LOVE this dish! I even tried it on steak and thought it was delicious. I marinated these breasts overnight and the entire day, and it was so tender and great. I served it over the fried rice my mom always makes.. yum!

Chicken ingredients:
1/3 cup vinegar
1/4 cup lower-sodium GF soy sauce
3 T honey
2 T sesame oil
1 1/2 T sambal sauce
10 garlic cloves, minced
4 free range chicken breasts
cooking spray
1/2 tsp salt

Combine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, chile paste, and garlic until honey dissolves. Pour mixture into a zip-top bag with chicken and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour, turning every so often. Remove chicken from bag, and place marinade into small saucepan to simmer. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken on rack coated with cooking spray, and place rack onto pan. Place into oven and bake for 10 minutes, then baste. Bake and additional 10 minutes and baste. Toss the marinade and bake another 10 minutes until done. Serve with veggies or my fried rice!

Fried rice ingredients:
3 cups brown rice, cooked
2 eggs, fried and chopped
bacon, if desired
1 small onion, chopped
any other veggies chopped
3 T GF low sodium soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
black pepper
sesame seeds

Saute the onion and other veggies in 1 T sesame oil in large pan. Add the rice and all other ingredients and stir until combined. Remove from heat and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top. Easy as rice!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

baked sweet potato fries

When looking for a place to go, I always choose the one (if there is one) that serves sweet potato fries. That's only because I've never been able to make them taste good. Well here is a great recipe!

2 large sweet potatoes (get the purple ones if available- huge difference!), sliced into fries
1/4 cup fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese block, grated
1 egg white, whisked
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Dunk sweet potato fries into egg white and spread out onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle cheese over the fries. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Pop into oven for 30 minutes or until tender.

herbed shrimp and simple pasta

Jake and I LOVE shrimp. I mean, we love love shrimp. It's our favorite :) Anyway, this dish was absolutely delicious and I would eat it everyday if I could. Well, I guess I can, but I prefer variety. Shrimp is a great source of protein, and I decided I want to eat a good bit more seafood. Every time I go to a restaurant, I order seafood, but I would like to start cooking it more. It's just so darned good for you. Seafood absorbs all those minerals the salt water contains that you can't just get via pills. If you want to be super healthy, eat this without the pasta, and have brown rice or salad. Really though, it's all about the incredible shrimp. Even if you don't like cilantro, please eat this because the blend makes it so delicious. Trust me.

Shrimp Ingredients:
3/4 cup fresh cilantro
3/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh basil
3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T fresh squeezed orange juice
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves
1.5 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
cooking spray

Combine first 10 ingredients in food processor until smooth. Place in bowl and toss with shrimp. Marinating this mixture will make it even more tasty, but no worries if you don't. Spray pan with cooking spray (I honestly used olive oil since I think it tastes better and I'm trying to eat more good fats). Toss the shrimp into the pan until done, which will be just a few minutes. Serve over the pasta.

Simple pasta ingredients:
1 pkg brown rice fettuccine
1/4 cup fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese block, grated
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup white wine (I used Riesling even though I normally don't cook with Riesling, but it added a really nice sweetness that made the pasta even more great)
4 garlic cloves

Don't be fooled. This pasta may be simple, but it's glorious. I love making this when I make meat or shrimp or something else that deserves the spotlight, yet also deserves something up to par with it's great taste. Boil the pasta until done, and drain. In large saucepan, toss garlic, olive oil and lemon juice until garlic is sizzling. Add white wine, salt and pepper and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the pasta and toss in the grated cheese. Place on plate and serve with shrimp. Serious yumminess!!