Monday, January 15, 2018

Spaghetti squash, roasted vs steamed

I came across a different way to prepare spaghetti squash recently.

I've only made spaghetti squash a few times, but I've always taken the "steam with water in microwave" approach because it's quicker.

However I had a bit of time to meal prep today, so I roasted it in the oven.

Here's how you do it:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the guts. (Save the guts)*

One major difference with this approach was that it was harder to cut because it hadn't been softened in the microwave. So I scored the flesh where I wanted to cut and it made it a little easier.

Onto a baking sheet they went, with a little olive oil sprayed on top.

After an hour in the oven (I flipped them halfway), they were done.

A quick summary of the differences:

-Strand length: Definitely longer when cut into rings.
-Texture: About the same using either method, but the squash is "wetter" when steamed.
-Flavor: Steaming makes blander strands, while roasting creates a caramelized, almost sweet flavor.

What method will I use in the future? The differences are subtle so it will depend on how much time I have, and what I'm making.

*I save the guts so I can roast the seeds. To make separating the seeds easier, I loosen them from the guts and put it all in a bowl of water. The seeds float so they're easier to separate. Just skim them off the top of the water.

I roasted these for 20 minutes in the oven on the bottom rack, while the squash roasted on the top rack.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Menu and wintry weather

Yesterday I was useless, but today I got it together enough to write down a menu. Small victories, y'all.

(S: pork stir fry.  M: pork carnitas bowl.  T: quick veggie soup.  W: salmon + roasted veggies  T: leftovers or travel?  F: salad  S: dinner out)

There is a chance of "wintry precipitation" on Tuesday, which is never a good thing in Houston because we are always totally unprepared. Of course I am scheduled to travel across town and also I'm trying to get to Louisiana at some point, so it should be an interesting week.

My plan is to go with the flow. At least I don't have to worry about what to cook for dinner!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Picnik Austin

My boss asked me to go to Austin last-minute for work this week. Of course I said yes.
My sister lives there, and she picked out a great restaurant for dinner. She even ventured into (gasp) NORTH Austin for me.

Picnik has a 100% gluten free kitchen and that pretty much is the best thing ever. The atmosphere was good, the staff was friendly, and the food was tasty. I'd go back.


The brussels sprouts appetizer was in that bowl. It was obviously so terrible that nobody licked the spoon or anything.

I ordered the chicken with a side of GF garlic bread. So. Good.

She got the pepper stuffed with duck (I don't remember the exact name). The cool thing was I got to try her dish, worry-free because IT'S ALL GLUTEN FREE.

Dessert was the blondie ice cream sandwich. I never get to eat stuff like this! Very happy.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Quick chili

I like chili. I think most folks like chili. Some have very strong opinions about chili, but I don't discriminate. I like all the kinds.

You know what else? I like beans in my chili. Yes, I live in Texas and I like beans in my chili. Get over it.

This simple, 6-ingredient basic chili is kind of my favorite.

Sautee in a pot: Chopped onion, a couple slices of chopped bacon, and some ground beef. I like frozen beef patties because they're already portioned out in small servings and they thaw quickly.

Halfway through cooking the meat, add in half a package of McCormick GF Chili seasoning. Making your own seasoning blend is great, and sometimes I mix some up to have on hand. But if run out, I like this kind.

When the meat is cooked, stir in a can (15 oz) of diced tomatoes and a can of kidney beans. Rinse the cans with a little water and add to the pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the consistency is right.

Feel free to add in things. Like leftover or sad vegetables. Or pumpkin puree. Or jalapenos.

Monday, January 8, 2018

One-pan salmon and roasted veggies

One-pan meals are my favorite. No cleanup on a Monday night? Yes, please.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
     (Take a sip of pre-dinner wine.)
Cover a sheet pan in tin foil for that easy cleanup, and spray with olive oil.
Put the food on the pan. Tonight was chopped brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes**, and previously frozen salmon.
     (Sip, sip.)
Season the salmon. (Trader Joe's 21-seasoning blend, olive oil), then put salt and pepper on everything.
     (When I sip, you sip, we sip.)

Stick the pan in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the salmon is at least 145 degrees when you stick the thermometer in it. Honestly it depends on how still-frozen the salmon was when you put it in the oven.

Just like that, dinner is served. And photographed with crappy lighting.

Bonus: I had a late lunch so wasn't very hungry. Leftovers went atop salad greens with a scoop of avocado for lunch tomorrow.

** I had some leftover roasted sweet potatoes in the fridge so they got double-roasted. They were really good. Kinda crispy and chewy which sounds bad but I kinda dug it.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

taco bowls and realism

Let's begin with a dose of realism. Oh, happy gluten free new year!

This is my weekly menu, on the kitchen counter, half-finished, next to some crumpled up Target bags.

(S: Taco Salad / M: Salmon and roasted veggies / T: Chili / W: Chili leftovers... Thursday-Saturday will most likely be something in the crock pot)

Here's how I ate tonight's taco salad, next to miscellaneous items on the kitchen table.

Now, this taco salad, however hastily photographed, was really delicious.

Essentially it's ground beef sauteed with  a chopped garlic clove and taco seasoning, atop mixed greens. Plus some cauliflower mexican rice and avocado slices.

Attempting to cut back on carbs, as part of a mini-detox after consuming nothing but alcohol and cake since Thanksgiving. I have to say there was enough going on in the taco bowl that I did not miss the taco shells... this time.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

21 seasoned pork chops

Hey, gf folks who still pop in now and again to see what I've been up to!

Lately, I've been content to eat a salad for dinner. Call it a combination of being busy and traveling, plus I've only got myself to feed and I've found it's not worth the trouble to cook every night.

Today, though, I was hungry and wanting something warm and nourishing. Hello, crock pot!

Super easy to pop some frozen boneless pork chops in the crock pot, with a generous dose of Trader Joe's 21 seasoning blend, juice from a lemon, a sprig of fresh thyme, and some chopped red onion.

Paired with roasted sweet potato and brussels sprouts... on top of greens because you can never force enough veggies down your throat.