Monday Meals: Butternut Squash and Spinach Rice Bowl

This is a spin on last week’s Monday Meal (click here for Zucchini Noodles and Rice).

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. This is no less true than trying to cook for a road trip because of food intolerances. Happily, shredded butternut squash was on sale at Kroger last week, so I snagged a bowl, along with two pounds of beef and a bundle of spinach.

The following recipe makes 4 meals. I ate one as a freshly cooked dinner. The other 3 were simply 1/2 cup each of rice, beef, and shredded butternut squash layered and frozen for my on-the-road meals.

This recipe is great for making lunches or just having a homemade freezer meal to reheat on a busy night. The meals reheat beautifully without losing flavor or getting mushy.

*note: I do not use much added spices to flavor this meal. I relied on the caramelized flavor of the cooked squash and salt to round out the meal. The more I cook simply for my diet, the more I enjoy the distinct flavors of the food itself that can be otherwise masked with other flavors. The savory flavor of the beef with the hint of sweetness from the squash is a great combination.

1. Brown 2 lbs of lean hamburger meat, salted to taste. Save grease and set meat aside to drain/cool.

2. In the same skillet, sauté 2 cups shredded butternut squash in 2 Tbs. of hamburger grease. Season with salt (and ginger, if desired). Cook about 10 minutes on high heat so that the squash is cooked through (but not mushy), and getting some crispy-ness and caramelizad for extra flavor.

3. In a smaller skillet, sauté 1-2 cups of spinach on high heat with 1 Tbs. oil and some salt to taste. Cook about 2-3 minutes, or until desired done-ness.

4. Top 1/2 cup warm, cooked rice with desired amount of beef, squash, and spinach. Divide the remaining beef and squash with rice (see notes above) for freezer meals. Enjoy!

Baking Day: Spice Cakes

Which one is gluten free and which one isn’t?

Click here for delicious “regular cake” and cream cheese frosting recipe from Cooking Classy.

Click here for the equally tasty gluten, dairy, oil, soy, and egg free version from The Vegan 8 with my modifications.

Pumpkin Scone Recipe: gluten, dairy, and egg free

Since it’s Thanksgiving break, I decided to experiment with my scone recipe. The first attempt was not a complete success, but edible. The second attempt was much more satisfactory. So, without further ado, here is the recipe:

1C. General Purpose Gluten-Free flour

1/2 c. Brown Rice flour

1/2 + c. Sweet Sorghum flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1/4 tsp. Baking soda

1Tbs. Coconut flour

1 c. Coconut cream (just the thick top from a can that’s separated… don’t shake the can to mix)

1/2 c. Vanilla almond yogurt

1/4 c. French vanilla coconut coffee creamer

1/3 c. Pumpkin puree (soak up as much extra moisture with paper towels as possible… the puree should be maleable much like soft play dough.)

1/2 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice (more, if desired)

1/4 tsp. Salt

1 Tbs. raw sugar

Mix ingredients. You may need to add a splash of creamer/ almond milk. Kneed on floured surface (I used brown rice flour.) Flour a small cup to cut out circles – about 2 1/2 inches. Pat dough out to 1/2-3/4 inch thick and cut out scones. Place in greased, round metal baking pans. Brush tops with coconut coffee creamer and sprinkle turbino sugar on top of scones. Bake 25-30 minutes at 390 F. Let sit 5 minutes before removing from pans.

*Tip: to make nut-free, use coconut milk yogurt instead of almond milk yogurt.

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Avocados – they’re not just for guacamole anymore

Since I started drinking almond milk, I thought I’d try making pudding with it.  I don’t know what I did wrong, but it never firmed up in the refrigerator.  And I left it in there all day. Recently, I came across some recipes for chocolate pudding made with… avocados.  I like avocados, and since I’ll eat anything once (and I was really wanting pudding), I decided to give it a try.  My family and my friends who’ve been brave enough to try it have liked it.  It’s a very rich pudding, but very good.  The key is to mix it until it’s completely smooth.  Little lumps of avocado kind of ruin it… and it doesn’t keep well.  The picture at the end of this post is from my first attempt (using a blender) and you can see the lumps still in it.  My second attempt didn’t have any, and it tasted much better.  So, if you are making this and the pudding looks like my pudding in the picture, keep mixing until it doesn’t. :)

When judging serving sizes for the pudding, I’d say that one avocado will make enough for two people.  It’s a pretty rich pudding. But, it’s also very healthy.

You will need:

-2 avocados

– 6 Tablespoons cocoa

– 6 Tablespoons honey or agave nectar

– 1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil

– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

– pinch of salt

Add these all together and mix.  I used a mixer, since I don’t have a food processor and my blender didn’t do well the first time I made this.  When everything is mixed together, I do a taste-test to see if I need to add more cocoa or sweetener.  When you’ve got the right taste, cover and put in the refrigerator until it’s chilled through.  I usually leave mine for 45 min- 1 hour.  Then, enjoy!

Sick Day Chicken Noodle Soup

With the change in the weather and the change in schedules from regular school to summer school, my body decided to cope by getting sick.  So, tonight I made what I call “Sick Day Soup”.  Onions, garlic, and ginger are all good, anti-inflammatory immune-boosters — perfect for fighting colds and sore throats.  Since immune-boosters are very valuable resources for new teachers (as well as grad students), I thought I would include it here under School as well as Lactose-Free Cooking.  I have two caveats for this recipe:

1.)  I like spicy food.  So, if spicy isn’t your thing, try reducing the amount of ginger to two teaspoons and go from there.

2.) I don’t measure when I make soup, so these measurements are really just approximations (sounds better than “guesses” :))

1 4-cup carton of Chicken Stock (I like to use Kitchen Basics Original because it has reduced sodium and no MSG)

2 teaspoons minced onion

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 Tablespoon ground ginger (if it’s not strong enough, keep adding by teaspoons until you get the desire taste.)

1 teaspoon lemon grass

1 cup chopped uncooked chicken

1 cup chopped carrots (I just halved baby carrots for tonight’s dinner)

Whole Wheat egg noodles.

Black Pepper to taste

I heat the broth with the spices first.  This way, I can make sure that I have the taste I want.  I make it a little stronger than I want because it will mellow a bit when the chicken, carrots, and noodles are added.  Once that is done, I add the chicken and the carrots and boil for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken and carrots are done.  In a separate pot, I cook the pasta — 2-3 cups.  I don’t add the pasta to the soup because the noodles tend to disintegrate if there is soup left over.  I add the pasta to my bowl and then add the desired amount of soup and black pepper.  This recipe makes 4 servings.

* Another version is pictured below with long grain and wild rice instead of pasta