Gluttonous and Good For You!

Gluttonous and Good For You!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Super Creamy Crab Mac-N-Cheese with Scallions (gluten-free)

Mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food. One of my friends was telling me about a crab mac-n-cheese she had at a new highly-rated restaurant.  I thought I can out do this by putting cream cheese into the sauce, adding in sauteed scallions, and add in lots of seasonings like nutmeg, garlic, and cayenne. I used my favorite Italian corn pasta made by Le Veniziane. The taste, texture, and appearance of Le Veniziane proves to be the best time after time for me, and everyone loves it regardless if they are gluten-free or not.

I really like the idea of portioning out the six servings into individual ramekins. I only baked baked two in a toaster oven for a friend and me.  Covered the remaining ramekins with plastic wrap and store in either the fridge and freezer. Either way, just pop them into the toaster oven to bake off for easy weeknight dinner or for visiting friends for dinner. Makes cleanup way easier, too. And using the toaster oven saves energy and time. I feel toaster overs are underrated. In my mind, they are adult Easy-Bake ovens. I hope you make and enjoy this recipe!

  • 1 package (9 oz) of Le Veneniane Pipe Rigate or other GF pasta of your choice
  • 45 grams (~1.5 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped 
  • 45 grams (~1.5 tablespoons) potato starch or flour
  • seasonings to taste: salt, white pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder, cayenne, Old Bay, etc
  • 2 cups of milk (whole or low fat)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 6 oz can crab meat
  • 8 oz of melting shredded cheese like Italian blend
Heat up a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add in the butter and chopped scallions, stir continuously. Cook until the scallions are slightly browned.  Add in the potato starch/flour and stir until barely golden.  Remove from heat.  Slowly add in milk in 1/2 cup increments, stirring until homogeneous after each addition.

At this time, also get a large pot of salted water boiling for the pasta. Boil the pasta shy of the time instructed on package. We want the pasta more on the firm side of al dente since it will cook more in the oven. Strain and put aside with a small reserve of the pasta water if needed to loosen up the sauce.  

Returning back to the sauce.... Once incorporated, turn up the heat to low-medium. The bechamel sauce should thicken up and come to a slight boil after a couple of minutes. Don't forget to stir constantly to ensure no clumps form. Turn the heat down again to low and add in about 1/2 to 2/3 of the cheese at once. It will take a few minute for it to incorporate with stirring. Then add in the creamed cheese in cut up pieces.  Slowly work in.  Add in the crab with the liquid (carefully remove that wierd paper encasing the crabmeat).  Taste the sauce for seasonings and adjust as needed for your own personal preference.

Add in the pasta to now what is the mornay cheese sauce. Use a large wooden/silicone spoon to fold the pasta and sauce together until evenly distributed. If it is really thick, add in a little of the reserved pasta water as needed. Divide up the mac & cheese amongst 6 ramekins. Top all the mac & cheeses with the reserved cheese. If not cooking immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in freezer or fridge. Cook uncovered in a 375F oven for 15 minutes or until the topping is a golden brown.  

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure  

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The comfort food we're focusing on here is comforting macaroni and cheese. Here are other delicious recipes to help keep you warm:

The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Cream Cheesy Risotto
The Mom 100:
One Skillet Carroty Macaroni and Cheese
Daisy at Home:
Squasheroni and Cheese
Creative Culinary:
Smoked Gouda with Bacon Macaroni and Cheese
The Cultural Dish:
New England (Lobster) Mac n' Cheese
The Wimpy Vegetarian:
Curried Cauliflower and Greens Mac ’n Cheese
Napa Farmhouse 1885:
Cauliflower and Veggie "Mac" & Cheese
Red or Green:
Mac & Cheese with Ham and Jalapenos
Swing Eats:
Super Creamy Crab Mac-N-Cheese with Scallions (gluten-free)
Taste with the Eyes:
Korean "Mac and Cheese" with Beef, Kimchi, Cheddar
Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese
FN Dish:
Food Network Chefs' Takes on the Gooiest Mac and Cheese Ever

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizzas (Gluten-Free)

When I was personal cheffing, my client was allergic to yeast, eggs, and lactose-intolerant in addition to having Celiac.   He lived in Chicago and grew fond of Chicago deep dish pizza before I started cooking for him and learning of his dietary restrictions.  My solution: using a crisped up polenta shell as the pizza pie crust, don't hold back on the fillings, and top with goat milk mozzarella (goat and sheep milk are naturally lactose-free).  Instant new pizza love.  It's just so different, yet very appealing while still obviously a deep dish pizza.  A pizza pie reinvented.

While it takes longer to make this polenta pizza pie crust since it's made from dry polenta, it is easier than a traditional pizza crust.  The beauty lies in its natural rustic character, i.e., the more imperfect it is, the more appealing it is.  Another beauty of this recipe is you can tailor it to your likes and needs.  This pizza has two layers of filling: a spinach/sausage/shallot and a tomato sauce.  Don't forget to taste each component along the way for the best tasting pizza pies.  Swap out the sausage for spicy sausage, chicken sausage, bacon, or even mushrooms to make vegetarian.  Swap out the cheese for your cheese of choice.  The possibilities are endless, but it will be guaranteed to be delicious.

Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizza Pies (Gluten-Free)

  • polenta or GF corn grits (dry), 1 cup
  • water or stock of your choice, 3 cups
  • olive oil, 2 tablespoons, divided
  • small yellow onion or large shallot, chopped fine
  • sweet Italian sausage, about 1/2 pound, without casing
  • baby spinach, about 4 hands full, chopped fine
  • can of crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves, crushed
  • chili flakes, pinch (optional)
  • oregano, 1 teaspoon, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • goat milk mozzarella, 1 cup shredded

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.  In a medium sauce pan, heat the polenta and water/stock over medium heat with some salt if necessary.  With frequent stirring, cook down until it becomes the consistency of a thick porridge (about 20-30 minutes).  Make sure to taste and add more salt if needed.   Immediately divide evenly into a 12-muffin tin.  Use something like a shot glass coated with oil to form into a shell with relatively uniform thickness walls.  Bake in a 325F oven until lightly golden brown and crispy (about 20-30 minutes).
  2. While the polenta shells are baking, start preparing to 2 layers: tomato sauce; and the sauteed sausage and spinach.
  3. Tomato sauce:  In a large skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and chili flakes.  Reduce heat to low and frequently stir until it cooks down to a nice thickness.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spinach and sausage filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with the chopped shallot or onion, and the sausage.  Break up and sauteed frequently with a spatula.  Once the sausage has browned, add in the chopped spinach and saute.  Season with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Assemble the mini pizza pies: using a spoon, first spoon the sausage and spinach filling half way in all the shells, followed by filling the rest almost to the top with the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle a little bit of the cheese on top.  Place in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese turns a little bubbly and/or browned.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.  Makes 12 mini polenta pizza pies.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on pizza.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing pizzas to try out from our other friends:  

Dishin & Dishes: Crab Rangoon Pizza Flatbread
Daisy at Home:
Mini Pizza Bites
The Cultural Dish:
Mini Eggplant Pizzas
Napa Farmhouse 1885:
Spicy Pizza with Garlic Confit & Pesto
Red or Green:
Tostada Pizza
Swing Eats:
Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizzas (Gluten-Free)
Quilt Pizza
Taste with the Eyes:
Pretty Little Cast Iron Skillet Pizzas
The Mom 100:
Two-Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Naan Pizza
FN Dish:
6 Newfangled Ways to Get Your Pizza Fix

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pastitsio: A Delicious Greek Pasta Casserole (gluten-free)

At any restaurant in Greece, you can find pastitsio. Pastitsio is a baked pasta casserole with a meat and tomato sauce and covered with a béchamel sauce. I clearly remember having pastitsio before going gluten-free and it was so good.

More Greek dishes than not are naturally gluten-free. However, there are a handful of traditional Greek dishes that I occasionally long for that are filled with gluten. Greek cuisine is similar to Italian in regards to having standardized recipes that they have been using for hundreds to thousands of years. One of which is pastitsio.The gluten-free version is no more difficult to make than the standard version. The key as always is sourcing the best ingredients. I cannot stress the importance of using the best gluten-free pasta possible. My favorite is Italian corn pasta; Le Veneziane is the brand I stock up on. If you have a corn sensitivity, rice pasta works but it is imperative not to overcook, cooking to right at al dente.

Pastitsio is traditionally made having a bottom layer of tubular pasta (bucatini, rigatoni, penne); topped with a layer of cheese to bind it all together; a middle layer of meat tomato sauce with oregano, cinnamon, and egg whites; plus another layer of pasta; and a top layer of an béchamel sauce with cheese and eggs known as an enriched Mornay sauce in the culinary world. A perfect side for pastitsio is salad: a traditional Greek Salad or a spring greens salad.

For the meat sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon Greek oregano, or more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup white wine
  • One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 egg whites

For the béchamel sauce:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • 4 cups hot milk
  • Salt, white pepper, and nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 cup grated cheese (Italian blend)
  • 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

For the pasta:

  • 2 boxes (about 1 pound) of gluten-free Italian corn pasta (like bucatini, rigatoni, penne)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup grated cheese (Italian blend)

For the Meat Sauce:

Heat the olive oil in large skillet and sweat the onions with the garlic over medium heat until almost translucent. Add in the ground meat and sauté until browned. Add the remaining ingredients except for the egg whites. Let the sauce simmer for about 10-15 minutes, while tasting the sauce to seasoning. I always add in a lot more oregano than called for. This sauce is best when it is seasoned assertively. Turn off the heat and stir occasionally until cooled, but not too hot that it would cook the egg whites. Stir in the 2 egg whites thoroughly, reserving those egg yolks for the béchamel.

For the béchamel:

Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the potato starch and whisk for about 1 minute. Turn the heat down to low/simmer. Add the hot milk all at once and whisk until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Add salt, ground white pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste. Remember, there should be only a hint of nutmeg. Remove from heat and add in about 1 cup of grated cheese and stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly with occasional stirring. Add in the slightly beaten 2 egg yolks plus 2 whole eggs into the béchamel and mix until it is all completely incorporated.

For the pasta:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add in all the pasta at once. Cook with stirring occasionally, especially at the beginning, to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, tender yet firm. Drain well and return to pot. Add in butter and stir in.

To serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a very large and deep pan (lasagna pan or disposable aluminum pan) well with non-stick spray. Evenly distribute half of the pasta in the bottom. Sprinkle about half a cup of grated cheese evenly on top. Then evenly pour the meat sauce as the next layer. Followed by the remaining pasta. Pour the béchamel over the top evenly. Sprinkle the remaining half a cup of shredded cheese on top. Bake for approximately one hour or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Details: Serves 10-12; Total time: 2 hours
-Erin Swing
Swing Eats

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal dish we are focusing on casseroles. Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #cookingwith and #comfortfoodfest. Here’s the link to our Comfort Food Fest Pinterest board: Here are other delicious features on Casseroles:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Thyme and Rosemary

What's a good, simple, and seasonal side for Thanksgiving? My vote (besides Brussels sprouts) is for sweet potatoes. Right now, the local farmers have amazing sweet potatoes with different color skins. Remember, most of the nutrients are in the skin. The skin also adds more texture and dimension than peeling it. Peeling requires unnecessary work, and ends in a lot of food waste. So keeping the skin on the sweet potatoes is a win-win. Keep it simple. There's no reason to over complicate, especially when roasting a turkey is involved. I prefer to roast sweet potatoes with fresh herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Here I used thyme rosemary. Sage would work wonderfully, too. Either way, this side compliments the rest of the turkey day spread well, especially the turkey and cranberry sauce.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Thyme and Rosemary
  • sweet potatoes, aka yams, 4 large, cut into large dice
  • olive oil, 2 tablespoons
  • fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon chopped
  • fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large roasting or jelly roll (non-stick) pan, toss the diced sweet potatoes with the olive oil and salt. Place into oven. Check after 15-20 minutes and give them a good toss using a spatula. Should be done and nicely roasted after 40-45 minutes. Toss in the herbs and pepper. Taste to see if they need more salt and pepper. Makes about 4-6 servings.
That easy. Remember, throwing in some sage I think would be a perfect flavor pairing, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

-Erin Swing
Swing Eats

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on  Thanksgiving Sides. Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #cookingwith and #fallfest. Here’s the link to our Fall Fest Pinterest board: Here are other delicious features on Thanksgiving Sides:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bourbon Maple Glazed & Braised Carrots

I love carrots. Especially their bright orange color. Usually, I eat carrots raw as carrot sticks. But I often forget how sweet carrots are when cooked. Another one of my favorites is roasted carrots with potatoes. It is rare to find a dish where the carrots are the star. One of the standard culinary carrot dishes I learned to make in culinary school was glazed carrots. Unfortunately, it rarely lived up to its potential. I believe due to the technical execution which consisted of boiling the carrots in too much water in a narrow sauce pan, resulting in watery and mushy carrots with no color left. Herein lies my redo of this classic. Braising proves perfect for glazing. Braising is when something is cooked in a wide covered dish with no added moisture over medium to high heat. Here my seasonings consist of my seasonal favorites: maple syrup, Kentucky bourbon (yes, it is gluten-free, made from corn: my choice Eagle Rare), nutmeg, and butter. My favorite cut for carrots is oblique which is easy, making all cut about the same size, and very fancy looking. Here's a link of oblique cut demonstration video. Special enough for the holidays. Easy enough for anyone to make. Tasty enough for everyone to enjoy.

1 pound carrots, peeled, cut oblique
1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
2 tablespoons (real) maple syrup
3 tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
dash nutmeg
salt, black and white pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon parsley or chives, finely chopped (optional)

In a large skillet (make sure you have a tight-fitting lid for it), heat the butter, maple syrup, and bourbon over medium heat with occasional stirring, simmering for about 5 minutes to cook off alcohol. Add in cut carrots, a dash of nutmeg, pinches of salt and pepper. Stir. Cover with lid. Occasionally stir. After about 10 minutes, the carrots should appear darker and glazed. Check with a fork for tenderness and taste for seasonings. Once tender per your preference, remove from heat and toss in parsley if you would like. Serve immediately.

-Erin Swing
Swing Eats

This is part of Food Network's Fall Fest, highlighting the produce that is in season. Check out The FN Dish. The seasonal produce we are focusing on the carrot. Come over to Twitter where we are discussing it on #cookingwith and #fallfest. Here’s the link to our Fall Fest Pinterest board:  Here are other delicious features on carrots :

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Scary Monster Fingers Cheesy Bread Sticks (gluten-free)

There's a fine balance between a food is scary-looking, yet appealing enough to eat.  Yes, these look straight up middle America and there is nothing wrong with that.  Embrace it.  I just handed out cellophane bags of these scary bread sticks to my neighbors and they all commented how cute they were.  Not too cute to eat!  This bread is a pao de quejo mix (Brazilian tapioca cheese rolls), Chebe bread mix.  Any bread mix can be used.  It's all in the presentation.

Scary Monster Fingers Cheesy Bread Sticks (gluten-free)
  • Eggs, 2 large (+ 1 for egg wash)
  • Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
  • Water or liquid of your choice, 5 tablespoons
  • Garlic salt or powder, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Parsley, 1 teaspoon finely chopped (optional)
  • Chebe, 1 box
  • Baking Powder, 1 teaspoon
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup
  • Almonds, raw, about 10-12
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the 2 eggs, oil, liquid, garlic salt together with a whisk or fork.
  3. Mix in the Chebe, baking powder, and cheese.
  4. Divide the dough into 10-12 portions.  Roll between separated fingers to get the knobby look.  Place on parchment evenly spaced out.  In the wide knobs/knuckles, mark with a knife.  Brush very lightly with egg wash.  Push an almond at the tip for the fingernail.  Brush the almond lightly with the egg wash too to keep intact and for good color.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool on a rack.  Share with your favorite goblins.
-Erin Swing
Swing Eats

This is part of Food Network's Fall Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on Halloween treats.  On twitter, we're tagging #FallFestHere’s the link to our Fall Fest Pinterest board:  Other scary recipes to try out from our other friends:

Feed Me Phoebe: 7 Frighteningly Healthy Halloween Recipes
Jeanette's Healthy Living:
Creamy Red Curry Coconut Butternut Squash Soup
The Heritage Cook:
Fried Cheese "Fingers" with Spicy "Bloody" Dipping Sauce (Gluten-Free)
The Lemon Bowl:
Lebanese Stuffed Peppers with Cinnamon and Pine Nuts
Cookie Dough Bites
The Best Halloween Candy and Cocktail Pairings
Elephants and the Coconut Trees:
Halloween-Themed Appetizer: Beet and Cucumber Rolls
Taste with the Eyes:
Malted and Salted: Milk Chocolate Pots de Creme
Big Girls, Small Kitchen:
Olive Oil-Maple Granola Walnuts
Swing Eats:
Scary Monster Fingers Cheesy Bread Sticks (gluten-free)
Napa Farmhouse 1885:
Cabbage Slaw with Peanut Sauce Vinaigrette
Red or Green:
Spicy Chard Chips
Virtually Homemade:
Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treat {Gluten Free}
Dishing With Divya:
Egg Puffs
FN Dish:
Trick or Treat! Your Guide to Being the Most-Popular House on the Block

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pumpkin Almond Spice Waffles (gluten-free)

'Tis the season for pumpkin.  Pumpkin everything.  Nope, it doesn't get old for me.  My only pet peeve about pumpkin recipes is that only a portion of the can of pumpkin is used.  Then, I have the remainder go to waste in my fridge.  I figured not matter what, I was going to develop a pumpkin recipe using one whole can.  Why not use it for waffles?  I like to make a big batch of waffles, individually wrap them, and heat as needed for a breakfast on the go.  I try my best to make my waffles as nutrient dense as possible.  Almond flour works great in waffles.  And separating the eggs, adding in whipped eggs whites makes for a fluffy texture.

Pumpkin Almond Spice Waffles (gluten-free)
  • Eggs, 3 large, room temperature, separated
  • Sugar (white or brown), 3/4 cup
  • Pumpkin Puree, 1 15oz can
  • Almond flour, 1 cup
  • All-Purpose Gluten-Free flour, 1 cup
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon, 1 tablespoon
  • Vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon
  • Nutmeg, Ginger, Allspice, 1/2 teaspoon each
  • Cloves, 1/4 teaspoon
  1. In a medium/large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff.  Set aside.
  2. In another large mixing bowl, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until homogeneous.  Add in the pumpkin puree, followed by the almond flour, AP GF flour, salt, and spices.  Gently fold in the whipped egg whites in three increments.
  3. Have the waffle iron heated to medium, medium/high.  Cook for a total of 6-7 minutes, maybe longer depending on size of waffles.  Remove and allow to cool on rack.
  4. If storing in freezer - individually wrap in plastic wrap, and keep in freezer.  To reheat, place in toaster (oven) on medium/high.
  5. Otherwise, serve with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and maple syrup.  Feel free to add bacon as needed.
This recipe make 16 small waffles.  If using a large waffle iron, it could be as few as 12.  Enjoy!

-Erin Swing
Swing Eats

This is part of Food Network's Fall Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on pumpkin.  On twitter, we're tagging #FallFestHere’s the link to our Fall Fest Pinterest board:  Other amazing pumpkin recipes to try out from our other friends:


Feed Me Phoebe: 7 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes for Fall  
The Lemon Bowl: Pumpkin Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies (Gluten-Free)  
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Oat Chocolate Chip Pancakes  
Bacon and Souffle: Easy Pumpkin Bundt Cake  
Weelicious: Quick Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls  
Virtually Homemade: Gluten-Free Dark Brownies with Pumpkin Frosting Devour: Eat As Much Pumpkin As Possible  
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Cake  
Red or Green: Spiced Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Syrup Glazed Bacon Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies  
The Cultural Dish: Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts  
The Mom 100: Pumpkin Gingerbread with Crystallized Ginger  
Haute Apple Pie: Pumpkin Bread Truffles  
Domesticate Me: No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites with Dark Chocolate Chunks (Vegan and Gluten-Free) 
Swing Eats: Pumpkin Almond Spice Waffles (Gluten-Free)  
FN Dish: Pumpkin Spice (and Everything Nice)  
I Am Baker: Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow  
Taste With The Eyes: Savory Little Pumpkins with Labneh, Zaatar and Pumpkin Seed Oil