Tag Archives: gluten free

Golden Snitch Popcorn Balls

Golden Snitch Popcorn Ball 4.jpgI don’t think I could even begin to explain the struggles that have prevented me from contributing to Emilie and my beloved Cork and Spoon.  For those that have stuck with us through the years, even this past year of silence, you know I usually begin my own creative process with what is going on in my life…you know, where I am emotionally and all.  Over the last three years, I basically shut down inside and it wasn’t until recently that both I and my shrink discovered the huge why that had been hiding in the shadows of all the whats (two words: narcissistic sociopath.  Sigh.).  Yet that fresh wave of pain earlier this month seems to have begun the washing away of the walls that had risen around me.  The fresh air finding its way through the cracks is feeding that ember of creativity I’ve been trying so hard to re-light for so long.  And boy did  that ember got quite a wind of fresh air when I heard that  October was National Popcorn Popping Month and given a challenge. .

So what was that challenge, you ask? Well,  dress up my popcorn for Halloween of course.  Now how fun does that sound?  Popcorn is actually a big thing in my office. Someone usually has a bag of SkinnyPoP stashed away in their cube lol.   Various health issues have led to a number of my co-workers restricted to gluten and dairy free diets, so popcorn is often the snack of choice.  A Halloween popcorn snack  was perfect since it was naturally gluten free, which meant I could share it with everyone at the office if I made sure to keep it dairy free as well.

So Golden Snitch Popcorn Ball Prep 1.jpghow could I dress up my Halloween popcorn in a fund and new way?

According to Pinterest, popular Halloween themed popcorn treats included bowls of popcorn colored slime green with either melted candy or food coloring, popcorn neatly nestled in cute Halloween themed bags, or the ever popular popcorn stuffed latex glove decorated with witchy finger tips and spider jewelry or Frankenstein stitches.  Well, we all know how I don’t like to do what everyone else is doing.  I felt like my little ember of creativity was losing its spark.

Then inspiration hit just in the nick of time.  I was perusing pins under “Halloween Food” and  came across a pin of a cake pop decorated as the witchs’ spell book from Hocus Pocus and next to it a pin of a Harry Potter butterbeer recipe. Harry Potter, perfect! Especially with all the new releases that are taking place between Broadway’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and the upcoming “Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them”. Oh, and of course because Emilie and I are huge Potterheads. I don’t know about Emilie, but I’m sure the Gryffindor scarf my sister knitted for me years ago is packed away with the rest of my winter wardrobe. What if I molded the popcorn into a rectangle and decorated it as the Monster Book of Monsters?

golden-snitch-popcorn-ball-3However, inspiration wasn’t done with me yet.

As I searched Pinterest for ” Harry Potter Monster Book of Monsters” cakes to get an idea of techniques and supplies I might need, a lone non-Monster Book of Monsters pin appeared…If you’ve ever scoured Pinterest for Harry Potter themed food, you’ve probably seen it too: Ferrero Rocher chocolate balls dressed up with wings to make them Golden Snitches. Hmmmm…

 

…Why not make Golden Snitches out of popcorn balls?

Emilie agreed with my brilliance as it hit the Halloween theme two fold: a classic Halloween party treat (popcorn balls) and a favorite modern-era story filled with Halloween’s favorite archetypes (magic, witches, wizards, creatures, monsters).

Now, I must admit. I had never made popcorn balls before in my life. I knew I needed golden-snitch-popcorn-ball-2popcorn and something to make it stick in a ball shape.  The majority of popcorn ball recipes called for a caramely simple syrup…this meant butter and so did not meet my criteria for a dairy free treat. With not too much wondering, I decided why not go the Rice Krispies treat route and use melted marshmallows and coconut oil instead?

BTW, I’ve never made Rice Krispies treats either. I was in for a kitchen adventure to be sure.

Everything started out great. Calm, relaxing, easy peasy…melt the marshmallows, coat the popcorn in the gooey marshmallow syrup, let it cool…then shape into balls, right?

Ummm, yeah.  I did not realize just how messy this process was going to get or how Golden Snitch Popcorn Ball Messy Prep.jpgfrustrating for this first time popcorn baller. For the life of me,  I could not get the popcorn to stay in a ball shape. After about an hour of frustration, I had to take a pause and analyze the situation.

My initial instinct was that I had used too much water for the marshmallowy simple syrup. Too late to fix that; I’d already poured it all over the popcorn and a new batch would require a grocery store run for another bag of popcorn. I also noted how after forming the popcorn into shape, the popcorn would stick to my hands as I released them into their treat cups. For this I had two  solutions. First, more frequent spritzes of olive oil on my hands.  Second, a olive oil spritzed ice cream scoop helped create a more compact ball that kept its shape better than when I molded them with my hands.

Oh thank goodness when fixes work!

After I had formed all the popcorn into round balls, I placed them in the fridge for some extra firming while I moved onto the final touches that would make them Golden Snitches.

For the color, I tested out two options: gold decorator’s sugar and gold food spray. I really thought the spray would do the trick, but Emilie’s idea of the sugar came out as the best approach to dress these treats in gold. Honestly, you don’t need the gold food spray at all, just the sugar, although I used the spray to get into the nooks and crannies the sugar wouldn’t go.

Golden Snitch Popcorn Ball Drawing Wing Template.jpgLastly, I tried out two materials for the wings (gold cardstock and gold vellum) and two wing templates (easily found using Pinterest or your favorite search engine’s image search).  I preferred the sharper lined wings of the template I chose and while vellum may have worked for the Ferrero Rocher golden snitches, the material was far too floppy to stick into the popcorn balls without any additional support. The cardstock, on the other hand, worked absolutely fine with only a few issues in “too gooey” areas of the popcorn balls.

When I had finally dressed my popcorn into Golden Snitches, I was so excited to share them with everyone.

golden-snitch-popcorn-ball-1

After all, there’s nothing like seeing something you envisioned in your mind’s eye take shape before you and become a (tasty) reality.

Happy Halloween, guys!

~Ruth

*Disclaimer: Neither Emilie or I received any form of compensation from SkinnyPoP.  This blog contains our own opinions and experiences and all ingredients, supplies, and props were procured with our own, personal funds.

golden-snitch-popcorn-ball-instagram

Golden Snitch Popcorn Balls

makes 20-24 popcorn balls depending on the diameter of the popcorn balls.

Ingredients

golden-snitch_ingredients

  • 1 4.4 ounce bag SkinnyPoP Original Popcorn (appx 4 cups popped popcorn)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 ounces mini marshmallows (about 1/2 a package)
  • Gold decorators sugar or sprinkles
  • Optional: gold food color spray

Directions

  1. Pour popcorn into a large cake pan or casserole dish. Make sure it is big and deep enough for you to toss and coat the popcorn easily. Set aside.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. After coconut oil is melted, add corn syrup, granulated sugar, and water to the sauce pan. Raise head to medium high.golden-snitch_simple-syrup
  4. Stir simple syrup mixture until the sugar has dissolved thoroughly.
  5. Add marshmallows to simple syrup, stirring constantly until completed melted.golden-snitch_melt-marshmallow
  6. Pour marshmallow simple syrup over the popcorn and toss with a spatula or spoon. Ensure the popcorn is evenly coated in the marshmallow syrup. Allow to cool a few minutes until the mixture is cool enough to handle.golden-snitch_pour-marshmallow-syrup
  7. Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Spritz with olive oil or your favorite cooking spray.
  8. Spray hands with olive oil. Optional: If using an ice cream scoop, also spray with olive oil.
  9. Either with your hands or using an ice cream scoop, form marshmallow coated popcorn into balls about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.  If using the ice cream scoop, really push the popcorn into scoop with your free hand to mold it into shape. As needed, re-apply olive oil to prevent popcorn from sticking to your hand or the scoop and loosing its shape. Golden Snitch_Shape Popcorn Balls.jpg
  10. Once all popcorn balls are formed, sprinkle with gold sugar, ensuring to approach from multiple angles for the best coverage.  Optional: After finished with the sugar, finish up with a gold food color spray.golden-snitch_gold-sugar
  11. Store popcorn balls in the refrigerator to help firm the marshmallow coating while you prepare the Golden Snitch wings.
  12. Hand draw or use a downloaded template to trace desired pairs of wings on a sheet of gold cardstock. Cut wings out and set aside for when ready to finish the Golden Snitches.golden-snitch_making-wings
  13. When ready for the final touches, transfer the popcorn balls from the baking sheet to gold colored baking cups.Golden Snitch_gold baking cups.jpg
  14.  Carefully fit wings into the sides of the popcorn balls.golden-snitch_fit-wings
  15. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve in order to ensure popcorn balls maintain their shape.

 

 

It’s a Beautiful Morning Pancakes – Gluten-free Coconut-Flax Pancakes

coconut flax pancake 9

Oh, what a beautiful morning, my friends! Ever wake up feeling the blue bird of happiness is chirping just for you? Yeah, not very often for me either, but by some miracle God decided to put a little sunshine in my heart…and it feels absolutely fabulous!  So I thought I’d share an equally fabulous recipe with you.

You see, I’ve been stuck for a very long time.  I thought it was the whole trying to get into business school these past twelve months, but when it coconut flax pancake 6came to being completely honest with myself I couldn’t keep hiding that I’ve been stuck for years.   So what a lovely and refreshing gift to wake up to!  How better to celebrate than to channel all that positive energy into creating an equally beautiful and delicious breakfast?

On days when we’re not so lucky with Mr. Bluebird, these pancakes will sure do the trick. On the inside they’re pillowy-fluffy, yet rich from all the coconut flavor. The exterior has this delicate crisp that reminds me of that very thin layer of the caramelized sugar atop a creme brulee. To top it all off, they’re gluten-free and full of fiber and anti-oxidants. Nutritious and delicious, hard to beat, don’t cha think?

coconut flax pancake 2

Coconut-Flax Pancakes

makes 10-12 pancakes, inspired by Elisabeth Prueitt
Ingredients

coconut flax pancake ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten free flour mix
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted plus 1-2 tablespoons for pan
  • optional: fresh fruit, maple syrup, and shredded coconut to top
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together gluten free flour mix,  sugar, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder and salt.  Set aside. coconut flax pancake dry ingredients
  2. In a medium bowl,  whisk  together eggs, milk with the 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil.coconut flax pancake wet ingredients
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until batter is moistened.coconut flax pancake making batter coconut flax pancake mixed batter
  4. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of coconut oil and melt to grease pan.  Through out cooking process, add additional coconut oil as needed to keep pan greased. coconut flax pancake coconut oil in pan
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto hot pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface and sides begin to try, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cool the opposite side until golden, about another 2 minutes.coconut flax pancake batter bubbling         coconut flax pancake golden
  6. Serve warm with desired toppings.coconut flax pancake 1
Note: Freeze leftovers.  The best re-heating method is to use the “frozen” setting on your toaster (like an Eggo!).  This will preserve the yummy, crispy exterior.

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

GF Pizza Crust 5When my sister mentioned a week before Thanksgiving she was going completely gluten free I wanted to reach through the phone and slap her silly.  Power to her for the life-style change, but I’m the one in charge of  all the holiday family meals.  I’m the one that had to figure it all out!  How about more than a week’s notice, please?  Luckily for both of us  my curious and experimental nature had already lead me to some dabbling in gluten free recipes.

Now I’m not much of a fad person myself, but I do respect the will-power of those who chose restrictive life-styles (for whatever reasons).  I also GF Pizza Crust 4empathize with those living with food allergies.  However, what is often left out of the conversation are those, like me, that do not have these restrictions, but find themselves thrust suddenly into that world. Emilie and I were discussing this not too long ago just after the New Year.

Who doesn’t love to accommodate their friends and family, but can you imagine how bad your host(ess) might feel if they didn’t know of your GF Pizza Crust 3recent vegan conversion and watched you pick at your bacon wrapped  steak and butter topped asparagus all evening?  Forewarned is forearmed!  Don’t feel bad about giving someone a heads up about your allergies or special diet. When Emilie and I were visiting a friend in San Francisco one Spring Break, I made sure to mentioned that it was Lent, which, after receiving a family dinner invite on a Friday night, allowed enough notice for a Lent friendly meal that everyone could enjoy.  When my friend Sue is in town, I know to keep a container of soy milk on hand for her coffee since she is allergic to dairy.  Now that my sister is gluten-free, I have engineered gluten-free versions of our favorite family GF Pizza Crust 6holiday recipes.  However,  there are still folks that might feel uncomfortable at the potential inconvenience.  Emilie has a great tactic for that.  She offers to bring a dish! This tactic not only ensures there will be at least one thing you can eat, but provides an easy opening to mention what you are not able to eat as well as eases any feeling of inconvenience, because you’re bringing the dish.  Not a bad idea huh?

With that said, many of you are like Emilie and me: food lovers.  We like to eat and cook new things, unfamiliar things.   Our friends are lucky, because we’re the most likely to have that paleo vegan, gluten-soy-nut free recipe in our back pocket.  We’re always experimenting.  My favorite food “fad” to experiment is, as I’ve mentioned, gluten-free substitutions.  So, without further adieu,  for your back-pocket I present this gluten free, thin crust pizza dough!

GF Pizza Dough Pizza 2 cu 2

Gluten Free Pizza Dough

makes 2 9″x 9″ personal pizza crusts
Ingredients

GF Pizza Dough Ingredients

  • 2 ½  cups Gluten-Free Flour (see recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons dried milk powder or dairy-free creamer
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar
  • 1 5/16 ounce package of instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for dough)
  • olive oil for pan
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal for dusting
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, blend together the gluten free flour mix, dried milk, baking powder, and corn starch.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, add yeast, olive oil, and warm water along with ½ cup of the dry ingredients.GF Pizza Dough Yeast Mixture
  3. Stir to combine and set aside for about 30 minutes.  Mixture should be bubbly and smell yeasty.GF Pizza Dough Yeast Ready
  4. When yeast is ready, add to the remaining dry ingredients.GF Pizza Dough Adding Yeast and Flour
  5. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix at medium-high speed until dough forms. It will not be like the pizza dough you’ve probably made in the past. Instead it will be sticky, like spackling.GF Pizza Dough Sticky Stuff
  6. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit .
  8. Divide dough in half.  If not using right away, grease two sheets of plastic wrap and wrap the two halves separately.GF Pizza Dough Dividing
  9. For a single personal pizza, grease a 9” x 13” baking sheet with olive oil and dust with cornmeal.
  10. Place one of the pizza halves on the baking sheet. Wet your fingers and begin working the dough outwards beginning from the center.  You should be able to get a 9″ x 9″ crust.GF Pizza Dough Forming Crust
  11. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes before baking the crust in the oven for 8-10 minutes.GF Pizza Dough Crust Resting
  12. Your crust is now ready to become a pizza. After adding desired toppings, bake pizza for about another 10 minutes.GF Pizza Dough Starting to Make Pizza

GF Pizza Dough Topping Pizza    GF Pizza Dough Pizza 2 in the oven

Gluten Free Chocolate Pancakes

GFCP 3Woweee! Who is ready for some chocolate? I know I am! Honestly, I thought life would get back to normal after the GRE was over. Nope! Life’s crazy, work’s crazy…oh wait, that is normal! LOL! It’s all good. You see, I am a full believer that God made chocolate just for this: to get us through that in between time when we think life really, really, REALLY bites to the time when we realize everything will be all right. And let me tell you, these chocolatey gluten-free babies taste just like heaven. They are the perfect reminder that there are good things in life…but that also the good things might take a little (or a lot) of work.

Be prepared folks, this is going to get a bit trippy.

Like I said, life and work are going crazy! I will stop at two funerals. You know the saying about the straw that broke the camel’s back? That is where I was, staring death in the face. Usually he sits next to me, but not this time. This time he was standing in front of me, arms crossed, eyebrow cocked, finger rhythmically tapping on his forearm. “Your move”, he said.

That snapped me back to reality. So what is reality you might ask of someoneGFCP 1 who just inferred seconds ago that she and death have tea and crumpets together? Well, it’s this: bad things happen. Bad things happen to everyone. Bad things happen to good people and to bad people alike. Bad things happen whether you have done the right thing, the wrong thing, or even nothing at all. Bad things just happen.

This snap back to reality reminded me of quote and a story. Pat Summitt. I learned about her in leadership training. The most successful college basketball coach in US history, if you are a sports fan you know what I am about to say.

“It is what it is, but it becomes what you make of it.”

This was her response to her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

“Your move,” he said.

“How about pancakes?” I replied.

Bad things just happen, but good things require work.

Like these pancakes. They are deliciously decadent…and they will require a bit of work. They are not hard to make, but the whipped egg whites definitely keep these pancakes from being quick and easy…and the whipped egg whites are key. Remember, these pancakes are gluten-free. They need some extra oomph to get the fluff.

Bringing something good into the world is always worth the effort.

GFCP 2

Gluten Free Chocolate Pancakes

appx 2 dozen pancakes
Ingredients

Gluten Free Pancake Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cup gluten free flour recipe
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, yolks and whites seperated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine and whisk together gluten free flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt. When thoroughly combined, set aside.GFCP dry ingredients
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla. Set aside.GFCP wet ingredients
  3. In a medium to large bowl, beat egg whites with a whisk or hand mixer. When foamy, add about 2 tablespoons of sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.GFCP merengue
  4. Taking your bowl of dry ingredients, add remaining sugar and begin whisking in the wet ingredients to form a batter. The batter will be more on the thin side.GFCP batter
  5. Once all the wet ingredients are incorporated, gently fold in the egg whites being careful not to deflate them.GFCP whites fold
  6. Spritz a pan with oil spray (or melt about 1 teaspoon of butter) and heat over medium. If using pancake molds, also spritz with spray. Be sure to re-spritz the molds after each use. Re-spritz the pan itself as needed.
  7. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side.GFCP pan
  8. Serve with maple syrup, strawberries, and whipped cream as desired.

BTW, these pancakes freeze beautifully. Place them in a freezer bag with parchment or wax paper separating each layer. Prepare by placing in your toaster as you would your favorite brand of frozen pancakes. For me, I set the toaster to a lower setting and hit the “frozen” button. This method provides a much better texture than the microwave strategy.

GFCP 4

Gluten Free Fun – Make Your Own Gluten Free Flour

Gluten Free Flour Mixed 3

This experiment started with a recipe that came out quite disappointing. It was a quinoa cupcake. The picture was so pretty. Lovely vanilla cake with quinoa scattered throughout like poppy seeds. It was healthy with all its fiber and lower calorie count. I didn’t even notice the “gluten free” tag line until I pulled up the recipe.

Oh, they smelled deeeeliiiish in the oven. Sadly they came out worse than my Friendship Muffins. Was it the same problem (too much liquid in the batter) or was it the lack of gluten? With gluten free baking ingredients not being the cheapest thing on the market, I was not willing to keep experimenting as I did with the muffins. My buttercream battles take up enough of my budget with all the butter, eggs, and sugar I go through. Time to make my own gluten free flour mix.

As I had researched gluten free baking previously, I already knew that gluten free flours were not a one for one swap deal with all purpose flour. Since I had brown rice flour already, I went in search of an uncomplicated, affordable blend based off of this flour. I also knew that “special” ingredients may be required to assist in replacing gluten’s connective powers. I crossed xanthum gum off my list immediately (Umm, “abdominal discomfort”?) . Instead I decided to use corn starch as a substitute since I had plenty of it available in my pantry.

It took me two days to find this amazing homemade gluten free flour mix fromGluten Free Flour Mixed 1 King Arthur Flour. Super easy and super cheap (compared to other gluten free flours that is), this one is a keeper. I have used it to make vanilla cupcakes, pizza dough, and chocolate pancakes. I won’t say you won’t “miss the gluten” as the products did show some change in texture (I’m very sensitive to food textures myself), but they were not bad changes. Everything tasted delicious!

I am also so very glad that I did this experiment, because a co-worker of mine has a four year old daughter with a gluten allergy. I found this out when I was heating up some of the leftover pizza for lunch and I was telling everyone about my gluten free experiment. When I shared my pizza dough and cupcake recipes with her, she almost cried. She was so happy that her daughter would be able to enjoy homemade childhood treats made with mamma’s love.

Gluten Free Flour Mix

adapted from King Arthur Flour
makes appx 4 1/2 cups

Ingredients

Gluten Free Flour Ingredients

  • 3 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together all the above ingredients to combine completely. As the flours and starches are very fine, this whisking is key for a nice and even texture in the final baked product. Gluten Free Flour Mixing Together
  2. If not using, pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.Gluten Free Flour Mixed 2

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

One week and counting, folks, until the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Summer Olympics!  And, if you will grant me a momentary indulgence, GO TEAM USA (good luck to everyone else too)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! During any series of Olympic Games, I tend to get most of my news several hours after the events are completed and the medals awarded, but I always try to set aside time for the artistic gymnastic competition and all forms of volleyball finals. Personally, I am   really excited, about gymnast Gabrielle Douglas, a Virginian like myself.

Of course, like any good foodie during the Olympics, I eat up all stories about the diets of the athletes, in Olympic Village, or food-related Olympic sponsors. I was really excited when I found this article about the merging of sports nutrition and culinary arts at the U.S. Olympic Training Center – and it came complete with the recipe for one the U.S. Olympic athletes’ dishes. Obviously, I was going to try to make it! I tweaked the recipe slightly, by adding matchstick carrots and only loosely following the measurements for individual servings. For an athlete knowing exact amount of Thai rice noodles is important, for me – far less so.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
makes approximately 4 servings
7.5 cups water
1 lb chicken, cut into one inch or smaller
3 tablespoon hoisin (Dynasty brand is gluten free)
3 tablespoon soy
3 tablespoon fish sauce
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 package (about 9 ounces) thin rice noodles
1 jalapeno or 2 serrano peppers, finely diced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons (approximately) green onion, chopped
3 tablespoons (approximately) cilantro, chopped
1 package Bean sprouts
1 package Matchstick carrots

1)     In a large pot, bring water, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, gluten free soy sauce, and chicken to a boil. Reduce heat and add garlic and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 1 hour, covered.

2)     About 30 minutes into the broth cooking time, begin to prepare noodles according to the package directions (this timing will vary based on the type of noodle you use).

3)     While the noodles are soaking/cooking: Mix finely 1 jalapeno/2 Serranos, finely diced with rice vinegar in a small bowl (double amount of vinegar and hot pepper if you like spicy food as you’ll use more…).

Toss together chopped cilantro and green onion in a separate bowl.

4)     When the broth and noodles are done: Add approximately half a cup of rice noodles, 1/3 cup each matchstick carrots and bean sprouts, 1 generous tablespoon cilantro/green onion mix, and at least 1 tablespoon hot pepper in vinegar (if you like your food spicy add more, but recognize you may need to make more of the jalapeno/vinegar mixture).

5)     Ladle about 1 cup of broth, with about a quarter of the chicken over noodles and veggies. Enjoy!!!

**Thanks Ruth for taking pictures while I cooked 🙂

Pinspired – Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Gratin

Today I’m bringing you another recipe inspired by my Pinterest account. The inspiration for this recipe comes to us from the folks over at The Kitchn who grabbed my attention with an amazing looking summer squash gratin recipe a few weeks back.

I have a great love of summer squashes, probably because I grew up picking yellow crooknecks and zucchini straight out of the garden every summer. Their firm, mild flesh is perfect on the grill with a little salt and pepper or in my awesome zucchini bread, but I  realized this summer that I was stuck in a multi-year rut and needed to get out. Enter this awesome round up of recipe ideas, where the first image that greeted me was an amazing looking gratin that I knew was the answer to my problem. I quickly clicked the little Pinterest button that resides happily on my bookmark bar and filed it away for safe keeping. So last week, after a particularly excellent Farmer’s Market trip, where the zucchini and yellow neck were a mere $1.5o per pound, I knew exactly what I was going to make.

I made a few small changes to the recipe, the most notable being the addition of garlic by creating a garlic-milk “tea.”  Great as a side with grilled chicken or tuna, but also awesome as a stand-alone lunch the next day. In fact, I was at my desk eating, and it drew my boss from 4 doors down and around the corner because it smelled that amazing and he needed to know what it was. Yep, I totally make my co-workers food jealous!

Potato, Squash, and Goat Cheese Gratin
serves six

salt and pepper
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
2 medium zucchini
1 medium-large yellow squash
3 small to medium red potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces goat cheese, pre-crumbled if possible
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup additional grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon thinly sliced basil, optional

1)     Preheat oven to 400°F.

2)     In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat bring milk, garlic, and about 1/2 teaspoon salt and a teaspoon pepper (adjust to taste) to a low boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes and remove from heat to steep.

3)     Slice the squash and potatoes into very, very thin slices, 1/8-inch or less using a mandolin slicer or vast amounts of patience and a sharp knife (clearly I used a mandolin, since I don’t keep enough patience on hand in the kitchen). Toss the sliced vegetables with 2.5 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large bowl.

4)     Use a pastry brush to coat a small casserole dish (around 8 or 9 inches square) with the remaining half tablespoon of olive oil.

5)     Place 1/3 of the squash and potato slices in the bottom of the dish—no need to layer them squash-potato-squash-etc. Season with salt and pepper, if desired (I seasoned the bottom layer, but not the next two layers).

Top with half of the goat cheese and an 1/8 a cup (2 tablespoons) of Parmesan.

Repeat with another 1/3 of the vegetables, topping with the other 1/2 of the goat cheese and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.

Finish with a final layer using the last 1/3 of the vegetables.

6)     Pour the garlicky milk over the entire dish. Top with 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until the top browns.

Adapted from The Kitchn