Apple Walnut Butternut Squash

Butternut squash and apple pair beautifully in this easy autumn side dish.  Pretty enough for your holiday table, it is delicious and dare I say healthy?

 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbsp. chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. butter, divided
  • cinnamon

 

Preparation:

Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet.  Be careful not to burn the nuts, 2-3 minutes should do it.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Peel and dice the apple.  Add 1 tbsp. butter to the skillet and sauté the apples for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Steam the butternut squash until tender, then puree with a stick blender.  Stir in the remaining tbsp. of butter and brown sugar.

Place the squash in a serving bowl.  Top with the diced apples and the toasted walnuts.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve!

Notes: ♪♫ Speed up prep time by purchasing peeled and cubed butternut squash, it’s usually available this time of year.

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Shepherd’s Pie with Rutabaga

Rutabaga is a gluten free and nutritious root vegetable that can be substituted for potato in many recipes.  For my Shepherd’s Pie, I use mashed rutabaga as a topping instead of the traditional mashed potato.  This meal has been a family favorite for years and it was easy to modify the recipe to a gluten free version.  If you are gluten free, you probably eat a lot of potatoes, so this is a nice change from the usual.  Give it a try, delicious, gluten free Shepherd’s Pie with Rutabaga.

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4 Servings 

 

FOR THE FILLINg:

  • 8 oz. lean ground beef
  • 4 oz. gluten free Italian sausage 
  • olive oil 
  • 3 cloves minced garlic 
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced 
  • 2 cups gluten free frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots and corn) 
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste 
  • 1 tbsp. gluten free Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 cup gluten free broth (beef, chicken or vegetable) 
  • rice flour, for dusting

For the Topping: 

  • 1/2 large rutabaga or yellow turnip 
  • Salt, to taste 
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used gruyere) 
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • 3 tbsp. butter 
  • 1% milk (or use half and half) 
  • paprika 
  • Italian parsley for garnish 

Preparation: 

Peeling the rutabaga is the hardest part of the recipe, so we begin by giving those arm muscles a workout!  Use a good sturdy knife and cut ¼” off the bottom, so you have a flat stable surface.  Then set it on a cutting board and run your knife down the sides to peel.

 

Cut the rutabaga in half, and slice one half into large cubes.  Reserve the other half for another meal (it makes great oven fries).   

Heat water in a saucepan with a steamer basket.  Steam the rutabaga cubes until soft and easily pierced with a fork.  Add salt to taste, remove from heat and set aside.  This step usually takes 30-45 minutes, so I will often steam the rutabaga a day ahead and reheat it in the microwave when I’m ready to finish the dish. 

 

I’m preparing this dish in a cast iron Braising pan.  I’ll cook and serve dinner all in the same dish for easy cleanup!  You can also use an oven safe skillet, a Dutch oven, or if you don’t have an oven safe option simply transfer everything to a baking dish to finish in the oven.  To get started on the filling, heat a little olive oil in the pan over medium low and add the ground beef and sausage, breaking the meat up with a spatula to brown.  Add the onion and garlic.

You can throw the frozen vegetables right into the pan, they will defrost quickly.  Cook 4 minutes.  Clear a spot in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste.  Let it cook for a minute before stirring into the meat and veggies.  Season with salt and pepper.

Next add the thyme and Worcestershire sauce, then add the broth and reduce heat to low.   Simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes.  You can dust a little rice flour over the mixture to help things along.   

To make the topping I used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  You can also use a food processor or potato masher.  Combine the cooked rutabaga (reheat it if you made it the day before) with 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, 3 tbsp. butter and a big pinch of salt.

The recipe is very forgiving so substitute any cheese that you prefer, even cream cheese will work.

Mix on low speed as you drizzle in a little 1% milk (or use half and half for a richer taste), until the mixture resembles mashed potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Spoon the rutabaga mash evenly over the top, using a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth it out.  If you are transferring to a baking dish, be sure to coat it with cooking spray.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and paprika and bake for 25 minutes, then finish under the broiler for 4 minutes more to brown the top.  Keep an eye on it, after all that work you don’t want it to burn! 

When you remove it from the oven the sides will be bubbling, so let it rest for a few minutes before serving.  I like to garnish it with Italian parsley before bringing it to the table.  Mmmm, it is so delicious, and you will be surprised at how filling it is!  I hope you will try the recipe, it’s an interesting twist on this traditional comfort food dish. 

 

Notes ♪♫ As always, check ingredient labels and make sure all prepared foods such as the broth do not contain hidden gluten.  I used Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce in this recipe but watch labeling as it is gluten free in the US but may not be in Canada.  Goya frozen mixed veggies are labeled gluten free.  For the cheese, I always buy a block and grate my own.  If you use shredded cheese, be sure to check the ingredients, some additives may contain gluten. 

 

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Pork and Bean Soup

Fall temperatures have finally arrived here in New England, and for me that signals the beginning of soup season.  My Pork and Bean Soup is so rich and thick, just what we need to take away that first autumn chill.  This soup is gluten free, nutritious, and full of fiber, which is often sadly lacking in the gluten free diet.

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Fully cooked pork shanks make a wonderful soup base that is surprisingly low in fat.  I buy the Wellshire Farms brand, which is uncured (no nitrites) and gluten free.  They have a handy database on their website to identify gluten and other allergens in their products.

Friends, don’t shy away from cooking with beans.  Once you know how, you will have tender flavorful beans every time!  Making your own means you control the ingredients, including salt content.

Here are some tips.  Always soak beans overnight, don’t take shortcuts.  Rinse the beans before soaking, and change the water again before cooking.  Always start with cold water and plan on 3+ hours cook time at a very low simmer.  Do not add salt until the last hour of cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. dry beans such as great northern, navy, pinto or a mixture.  Use your favorites!
  • 1 fully cooked, uncured ham/pork shank (also called ham hocks)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/4 cup gluten free soup pasta (I used Le Veneziane Ditalini) 

Preparation:

The night before, rinse the beans well and place them in a stock pot or Dutch oven with cold water.  Cover and soak overnight.  The beans will more than double in size.  After the soak, drain and rinse the beans again.  Clean the stockpot to remove any residue.

Place the rinsed beans back in the stockpot and fill with cold water.  Do not add salt.  Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours.

Chop the carrots, celery and onion into 1/2″ dice.  Cook the veggies in 1 tbsp. olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Drain and rinse the beans one more time, then add them to a larger stockpot along with the veggies and the pork shank.  Fill to within 2” from the top with water, about 6 cups.  Here is where you add the salt, along with the sage, thyme and bay leaf.  Simmer on low one hour more.

If using gluten free pasta, cook according to package directions.  Transfer the pork shank to a cutting board and chop or shred the meat into small pieces.

Remove the bay leaf and discard, then partially puree the beans and vegetables with an immersion blender.  Don’t skip this step, it gives the soup a nice thick consistency.  If you don’t have a stick blender, you can carefully transfer a few scoops of the soup to a regular blender, puree and return to the pot.  Be very careful not to splash the hot soup!

Lastly, stir in the cooked pasta and shredded pork.  Taste and add more salt if needed.  Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Spoon the soup into shallow bowls and enjoy with gluten free rolls for a hearty lunch.  It really is substantial enough to be a main course!

Like most soups, this one is even better (and thicker) the next day.  We love this kind of meal throughout the fall and winter months.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the recipe.  I hope you will give my Facebook page a like so that you will continue to see more great meals like this one, made right here in My Gluten Free Cucina!

Notes: ♪♫ I love using a combination of different beans in my soups but avoid the popular mixes like the 16-bean blend.  Many contain barley, and even if not, it may be difficult to tell if a stray grain of barley made its way into the mix.  Bottom line, I just don’t trust the sorting process.  It’s easier to visually inspect the contents of single bean packages.  You can buy several kinds and make your own mixed bean blend.  For soup pasta, I like Le Veneziane gluten free ditalini.  If you can’t find it in store, it is available online.

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Shrimp Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder is one of those recipes that you must make when sweet corn is in season.  We are fortunate to live near several local farms and fresh corn is just a five minute drive up the road.  You can make this chowder with shrimp, crab, chicken or even meatless.  It’s ready to enjoy in about 90 minutes.

Now I know you are asking, can’t I make this with frozen corn?  You can, but you will be missing a key flavor component in the recipe.  The base of this chowder is made from the corn cobs.  After the kernels are stripped, the cobs are simmered to make a stock.  You can substitute chicken broth and use frozen corn, but seriously, try it this way.  It is very, very good!

6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 ears of corn
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 Maine white potatoes peeled and diced (use young, thin skinned or waxy potatoes)
  • 12 oz. raw shrimp in the shell
  • 4 oz. gluten free bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 2 tbsp. sweet rice flour
  • 1 cup gluten free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • paprika
  • Old Bay® seasoning
  • smoked sea salt (optional but very good)

Preparation:

Strip the corn kernels from the cob and refrigerate (you should have about 4 cups).  An easy way to do this is to stand the corn straight up on a cutting board and run a sharp knife down the sides.

Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells.

Place the cobs in a stock pot with the reserved shells, 6 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt.  Bring it to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Discard the corn cobs and strain the corn stock through a fine mesh sieve, or use cheese cloth.  You should have about 4 cups.  Add 1 cup chicken broth, or enough to total 5 cups of liquid.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium low and cook the shrimp in 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter for 2-3 minutes, just until you get a little pink color on both sides.  Remove from the pot, sprinkle with Old Bay and set aside to cool.  Refrigerate the shrimp until serving time.

Discard any liquid remaining in the Dutch oven and wipe clean.  Add the bacon and cook until crisp, stirring frequently.  Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving the fat.

Add the onions to the pot with the reserved bacon fat along with 1 tbsp. of butter.  Cook for 15  minutes, stirring frequently.  The onions should be nicely browned and caramelized.

Quickly sprinkle the rice flour over the onions and whisk constantly as you stream in the stock.  Add the potatoes, corn kernels, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, and more Old Bay.  Simmer on low until the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.

When ready to serve, gently warm the chowder over low heat.  Chop the shrimp, leaving a few whole for a nice presentation.  Add back the reserved shrimp, with 1/2 cup of half and half.  Cover and heat through, 5 minutes more.

Serve in shallow bowls and garnish with crumbled bacon and fresh thyme.  For a special treat I added a skewer of grilled scallops.

This hearty chowder will provide a filling meal for lunch or light dinner.  Like most soups, it is even better (and thicker) the next day.

Notes: ♪♫  For a perfect accompaniment to this hearty chowder, check out my homemade gluten free oyster crackers!

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New Orleans Shrimp Boil on the Grill

Bites of shrimp, sausage, potato, corn and veggies are assembled into foil packets and grilled to perfection in this easy summer meal!  It is no wonder that a few years ago this recipe was going viral.

You can’t go wrong on a gluten free diet when you prepare meals using healthy fresh ingredients, so before summer comes to an end, let’s revisit this popular dinner on the grill with a spicy New Orleans twist!

If you have never tried Old Bay® seasoning this recipe is a good excuse to go and buy some, you will find yourself using it in on everything.  Plan on about 45 minutes to prep and cook this meal.

4 packets

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Ingredients:

Preparation:

Defrost the shrimp under cold water (if using frozen), peel and devein leaving the tails on.  Cut the sausage into 1/4″ slices.  Halve the potatoes and microwave them in a little water for 4 minutes to give them a head start.

Lay out 4 sheets of foil, 15″ long.  Divide the ingredients evenly on the 4 sheets.  Be sure to place the shrimp on top so they don’t burn.  Drizzle with olive oil (1-2 tbsp. per packet) and sprinkle with Old Bay.

To make the packets, bring the long sides of the foil together and fold over twice to seal.  Fold over the ends.  You can prepare in advance up to this point and refrigerate.

When you are ready, heat the grill on medium low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Use tongs or a large spatula to lift the packets onto plates and open carefully so the steam doesn’t burn your fingers!

This is a must try dish for summer!  Having a cookout?  Foil packets mean no pans to wash and easy cleanup!

Notes ♪ ♫  Always check ingredients on prepared foods such as the Andouille sausage in this recipe for hidden gluten.

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Crock-Pot Rotisserie Chicken

Deliciously seasoned, falling off the bone tender chicken, just like the Rotisserie Chicken you buy at the market made right in your own kitchen!  This unbelievably simple recipe will give you the same moist flavorful chicken that everyone loves.  I used a 6 quart Crock-Pot to make this meal.  I had a family pack of 8 chicken leg quarters and not only was it very economical but I also ended up with 2 cups of chicken stock that I have frozen for making soup next month.  There are only 4 basic steps to the recipe.  Make the rub, prep the vegetables, cook in the crock-pot for 8 hours, then finish in the oven.  It doesn’t get any easier than this and you can plan it around your work day.  Wouldn’t you like to come home to this?

Ingredients:

  • 6 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. dehydrated bell pepper
  • 8 chicken leg quarters
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Rinse the chicken, trim any excess skin and pat dry.  Whisk together the first 10 ingredients to make the rub and liberally coat both sides of the chicken.  Leave a little aside for finishing.

Mist the crock-pot with cooking spray.  Chop the onion, carrot and celery and place it in the bottom.  Do not add liquid, the vegetables should hold the chicken up above any liquid that forms during cooking.


Arrange the seasoned chicken on top of the vegetables.  I was able to fit all 8 leg quarters in my 6 quart crock-pot.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, then reduce heat to low for 6 more hours.  It can go a little longer if you are running late.  About half way through, rotate the chicken in the crock-pot.  Remove the chicken and spoon out some of the excess liquid.  Then place the pieces that were on top in first, and the rest on top.  If you like, you can strain the liquid and reserve it for soup stock as I did.  After 8 hours preheat the oven to 350º.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with more seasoning and finish in the oven for 30 minutes.

That last 30 minutes in the oven is the magic!  The most tender, juicy chicken you will ever have at home.  Gluten free!

Notes: ♪♫ Most single ingredient seasonings are gluten free, but always  check your ingredient labels, especially for seasoning blends!

 

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Grilled Beef Kabobs

Here is an easy weeknight favorite to cook on the grill or stovetop, tender marinated beef tips skewered with veggies.  With a delicious marinade that you will want to make over and over again.  Serve with rice or a gluten free pasta salad for the perfect summer meal.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup gluten free steak marinade
  • 1/2 lb. sirloin tips, cut into cubes
  • 1 small red onion, cut into chunks and separated
  • 8 baby bella mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 3/4″ rounds

Preparation:

Combine the marinade ingredients in a nonreactive bowl and whisk together.  Reserve about 1 tbsp. for finishing.

Cube the steak tips and toss with the marinade.  Cover and let it sit at room temperature while you prepare the veggies.

Try to chop the vegetables to about the same size so that they cook evenly.  I did enough for 4 skewers.

The mushrooms and zucchini can be sliced thicker, so they don’t overcook on the grill.  I did the onions and peppers in single layers.

Thread the meat and veggies onto skewers and brush with any marinade remaining in the bowl.  If using wooden skewers, you should soak them in water for about an hour before using.  Now onto the grill!

Mist the grates with cooking spray or rub with oil before adding the kabobs.  Spread them out with plenty of space in between for even cooking.  Carefully brush on the reserved 1 tbsp. marinade, watch for flareups.  Turn the heat down to medium low and grill for 8 minutes total, turning every 2 minutes.  If cooking stovetop it will take about 15 minutes.

Perfect!  Nice grill marks but still juicy and flavorful.  And no gluten!  I hope you will give the marinade a try, it’s so easy and delicious.

Notes ♪♫ No grill?  No problem!  When a grill isn’t available you can cook kabobs on the stovetop.  Use a griddle, grill pan or flat skillet.  Just watch those wooden skewers, soak them in water for an hour prior to cooking so the ends don’t catch fire!

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BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

I love unique kitchen gadgets like this one.  It holds up to 17 chicken drumsticks at one time!  I wasn’t even thinking about gluten when I bought it, but it does have the advantage of holding the drumsticks upright so that they never touch the grill surface.  The chicken is coated with a dry rub and suspended vertically in the drumstick holder.  For this “off heat” method of grilling, we light only one side of the grill, and the drumsticks are cooked on the opposite side.  Since they are upright, the drumsticks do not need to be turned.  With only 3 ingredients, this recipe is easy to prepare and the chicken comes out moist and delicious every time.  I made 8 drumsticks but you can double the recipe for a larger family.

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Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. gluten free BBQ rub

Preparation:

Whisk together the brown sugar and BBQ seasoning.  Rub the chicken all over with the seasoning mixture and place in the drumstick holder.

Light one side of the grill, and remove the grate from the opposite side.  Place the chicken on the side opposite the flame.  Cover and grill for 1 hour.

Toward the end of the cook time, I grilled a little zucchini to go with dinner.

Just a few minutes to give the zucchini some grill marks.  It’s that easy.

Dinner is ready.  A side of rice and you have an easy summer meal.

Notes ♪♫  As always, check your ingredients for hidden gluten.  I used Creole seasoning combined with brown sugar in this recipe.

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