Gluttonous and Good For You!

Gluttonous and Good For You!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Slow-Cooker Chili & Jalapeño Corn Muffins (gluten-free)

Every Super Bowl, my friends and I look forward to a giant hot bowl of chili to sit and watch the big football game. All my friends look forward to it. If I changed the menu, I do not know if they would be too happy. This chili sticks to your ribs, warms you up with the complex, deep flavors and slight heat from the chipotles (smoked jalapeños.) Ground meat, tomatoes, chili peppers, beans and a wide array of seasonings/aromatics are the basis of my recipe. With chili, the longer it cooks, the more the flavors marry together. I find this to be true with dishes that have a tomato base with many seasonings. That means you can throw it together after lunch, put it in the slow-cooker, and it will be perfect come game time. Leftovers are even better the next day, if there's any leftover.
My favorite pairing for chili is jalapeño corn muffins. Gluten-free, of course. They are delicate, light, spongy, corny, slightly spicy and sweet. These little treats disappear quickly. Make sure to have other accoutrements for the chili such as shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced avocados or guacamole, Fritos Scoops. I usually set up a buffet on the kitchen counter with bowls, spoons, napkins, of course the chili on ‘keep warm’ and all the fixings. Best to keep the corn muffins and scoops/chips in the center of the action by the TV.


For the Slow-Cooker Chili:

  • 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, diced small
  • 1 green pepper, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large can (29 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can (29 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 small can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 1 can (16 oz) kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ~1/3 small can (+/- to taste) chipotles in adobo, run through mini-processor
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt (+/- to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder or ground ancho chilies
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn meal or masa flour
  • As needed: water/broth

For the Jalapeño Corn Muffins:

  • 1 packet (200 grams) Chebe or modified tapioca starch
  • ¾ cup (130 grams) cornmeal
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups (470 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, beaten, room temperature
  • 1-2 pickled jalapeños (canned), seeds removed, diced very small
  • Dash of garlic powder (optional)


For the Slow-Cooker Chili:

Sauté the ground sirloin in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, turn the slow-cooker on high, and put in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and the beans. Once the meat has all browned, strain off fat/liquid, and add into slow-cooker.
Return skillet to low-medium heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, onions, green peppers, and garlic to sweat. Once it is tender and transparent, add to the slow-cooker and stir well. Add in the processed chipotles in adobo, salt, pepper, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cocoa powder, brown sugar, corn meal/masa and mix well. Adjust seasonings, salt, heat (chipotles) as needed. Cook for at least one hour on high with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Taste again and adjust as needed. Add liquid as needed if it gets too thick for your taste. Turn down to low or keep warm until guests arrive. Can tolerate 3-6 hours of heat easily. Serves 6-8.

For the Jalapeño Corn Muffins:

Preheat oven to 400oF. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add in the buttermilk and eggs. Mix well with a wooden or silicone spoon. Spray two small muffin tins well with non-stick spray. Fill each cup 2/3 full with batter. Bake for about 15 minutes (20-25 minutes for regular size muffins), until golden brown, and toothpick comes out clean. Note: since this recipe uses baking powder, the batter must be cook sooner than later for best results. Makes about 36 small muffins.

-Erin Swing
Swing Eats

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The comfort food we're focusing on here is chili for the big game. Here’s the link to our Pinterest board:  On twitter, it's tagged: #ComfortFoodFeast  Here are other super awesome chili recipes from fellow bloggers:

Feed Me Phoebe: Gluten-Free Chicken Chile Verde
The Cultural Dish:
Game Day Turkey Chili
The Lemon Bowl:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Pancakes (Whole Grain)
Big Girls, Small Kitchen:
Classic Chicken Chili
The Mom 100:
Barbacoa Beef Chili
Four Bean Chili
Napa Farmhouse 1885:
Three Bean and Veggie Chili
Red or Green:
Chili Dogs
Swing Eats:
Slow-Cooker Chili & Jalapeño Corn Muffins (gluten-free)
Taste with the Eyes:
Gourmet Bison Chili with Heirloom Cranberry Beans, Poached Egg
Creative Culinary:
Smoky Beef and Bourbon Chili
FN Dish:
Come Sunday, It's All About Game-Day Chili Bowls

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
Swing Eats 

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: