Sausage, Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole

by Susan on August 26, 2016

While I still prefer to fire up the grill or toss a salad this time of year, I can’t deny the fact that my kids start school next week and I need to get back into our normal routine. As much as I hate to be a cliche, casseroles are a great option for weeknight family meals. particularly like preparing casseroles that contain vegetables, and

This new Cooking Light recipe is a great option, as it contains the nutritional powerhouse quinoa, along with sausage and broccoli to make it a complete meal. The cheesy factor here really ties it all together, so even if you’re family doesn’t love broccoli or quinoa they’ll still likely really enjoy this one. The crispy topping is an added bonus. I used gluten-free panko breadcrumbs that I got at Whole Foods; if you’re gluten-free another option is to use almond meal.

I also used the appropriate flour to make this casserole gluten-free.

Sausage, Broccoli & Quinoa Casserole
adapted from Cooking Light

2 1/2 cups water
2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
4 (4-oz.) links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup gluten-free flour of choice (I used GF all-purpose flour)
2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups organic light cream
2 cups organic chicken broth
6 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets
1 tbs. chopped fresh thyme, divided
1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 cup gluten-free panko or almond meal
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Bring 2 1/2 cups water and quinoa to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 12 to 14 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove pan from heat; let stand 5 minutes.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add 1 tbs. oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, and sausage; cook 7 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Remove sausage mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Add flour, butter, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add milk and stock; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat to medium; stir in broccoli, 2 teaspoons thyme, 3/8 teaspoon salt, 3/8 teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Stir in quinoa and sausage mixture.

Grease a large baking dish. Fill dish with quinoa mixture. Combine remaining 1 1/2 tsp. oil and panko or almond meal in a bowl; add remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, remaining 1/8 tsp. black pepper, and cheddar.

Sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over casseroles. Bake at 400°F for 18 minutes or until browned. Finish under the broiler if you prefer a crispier topping.


Gluten-Free Cajun Chicken Pasta

by Susan on August 25, 2016

Back in my twenties, I didn’t think so much about what I ate.  Even then, however, I knew I was really indulging when I ate basically any pasta on a restaurant menu. My personal favorite was the cajun jambalaya pasta at The Cheesecake Factory, the perfect pairing of cream and spice.

I’m not calling my reworked version jambalaya, as I omitted the seafood because neither of my kids are fans. I stuck to chicken which I coated in homemade cajun seasoning, and tried to tweak the sauce to make it as clean and dairy-free as possible. You could even try to totally omit the dairy here, but I do love how the Parmesan adds flavor and body to the sauce. If you’re dairy-free, I would use a vegan cheese substitute (perhaps a cheddar one, as I’ve never seen dairy-free Parmesan).

I would suggest penne or other hollow pasta, as it’s the perfect shape for the sauce. While I topped the dish with chopped tomatoes, I think next time I will add some diced red pepper to the actual sauce as well to up the nutritional value. Everyone really liked this one, and the chicken had just the right amount of zip without being too spicy.

Gluten-Free Cajun Chicken Pasta
adapted from Damn Delicious

3/4 lb. chicken breast
2 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 tbs. cajun seasoning (see below)
12 oz. brown ricepenne pasta
2 tbs. Earth Balance dairy-free spread or coconut oil
4 minced garlic cloves
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (can use organic cream if not dairy-free)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 diced tomatoes
minced green onions, to garnish

cajun seasoning:
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients well.

for pasta:

Combine chicken, 1 tbs. olive oil and cajun seasoning in a large bowl. Toss to coat.

Heat remaining olive oil in a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes on each side. Set aside and for a couple of minutes and then slice.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente and drain well.

Melt Earth Balance or coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently for about 1-2 minutes.

Gradually whisk in cream or milk and lemon zest. Cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in pasta and gently toss to combine.

Top pasta with tomatoes and green onion (and additional grated Parmesan, if desired).


Shrimp, Watermelon & Feta Salad

August 23, 2016

One of my favorite summer salad pairings is watermelon and feta.  Together they are the perfect contrast of tangy and sweet, and are even better tossed with peppery arugula. I usually enjoy the dish as a side, as it’s perfect for picnics or paired with grilled meat. I had never thought to add shrimp to [...]

Read the full article →

Grain-Free Zucchini Brownies

August 22, 2016

Chocolate has magical powers. Beyond being a delicious pick-me-up, it’s amazing how well chocolate can taste sinful yet disguise other healthy ingredients. Take these brownies: you honestly can’t taste the grated zucchini and almond butter that help make up the grain-free batter. They help ensure a nice moist texture with the perfect crumb, but that [...]

Read the full article →

Vegan Banana French Toast

August 21, 2016

Curiously enough, this recipe was created not because I wanted to make egg-free french toast, but because I wanted one to make one featuring banana. It’s my son’s absolute favorite, but this love isn’t shared by his sister. I wanted to create a quick and easy technique that I could use just for his breakfast, [...]

Read the full article →

Gluten-Free Burrito Bowl

August 19, 2016

My kids love a place on Cape Cod that is kind of like a family-run take on Chipotle. They love to design their own burrito, and I appreciate that the restaurant is very sensitive about allergies and even offers gluten-free fried fish! When I dine there, I always opt for a burrito bowl, which automatically [...]

Read the full article →

Gluten-Free Bacon Mac & Cheese

August 18, 2016

My kids think homemade mac & cheese is just about the best thing ever. Add bacon to the equation, and they’re almost guaranteed to ask for seconds. I based this one on a Cooking Light recipe, adapting my version to be gluten-free with the appropriate flour and pasta. Definitely don’t skimp on a good quality [...]

Read the full article →

Cheeseburger Stuffed Peppers

August 17, 2016

This one is a win for a couple of reasons. It has all of the flavors of a cheeseburger without the gluten. Swapping in peppers for buns also ups the nutritional value. You could also make the entire dish low carb by using riced cauliflower in lieu of the rice. Some people boil their peppers [...]

Read the full article →

Dairy-Free Corn Chowder

August 16, 2016

Every summer my husband requests fresh corn chowder, and this year I decided to try out a new recipe. I adapted Tyler Florence’s version, making it both gluten and dairy-free. As written and pictured the dish is also vegetarian, but before serving I did decide to garnish mine with a little crispy, crumbled bacon. I [...]

Read the full article →

Marinated Grilled Shrimp

August 15, 2016

These shrimp looked even prettier still on the skewer. I feel the need to say this, as my husband popped them off before I was able to get a photo! Regardless of how they’re presented, though, these are definitely worth a nod. The simple marinade added a ton of flavor to the shrimp, with just [...]

Read the full article →