Sunshine Salad

This is a treat my mom and Nana have made most of my life. It’s cool, refreshing, not too sweet, a little crunchy, and perfect. I make it in a big bowl (I don’t own a jell-o mold) and serve it with a spoon, but if you’re so inclined, you can make it in a mold and slice it. I don’t know how my version will do with fitting in a mold though, as this version uses more fruit than versions I’ve seen elsewhere on the internet.

You need:

  • 1 6oz (or 2 3oz) package orange gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 14oz can mandarin oranges (in juice or light syrup)
  • cold water
  • 1 20oz can crushed pineapple (in juice)
  • 2 cups shredded carrots

Drain the mandarin oranges, reserving the liquid. Measure the liquid, and add enough cold water to equal 1 cup.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups boiling water with the powdered gelatin. Stir until completely dissolved.

Add the 1 cup of water/mandarin orange liquid and the pineapple with juice. Stir and refrigerate until starting to set.

Fold in mandarin oranges and shredded carrots. Refrigerate until fully set.

Lunch Recipe Formula

One of the fun parts about being gluten intolerant is that restaurants become a game of roulette. Even restaurants with “gluten free menu items” frequently screw that up, and I’ve gotten croutons on my gluten free salad before (after a specific request for no croutons). Salad dressings are a gamble – even vinaigrettes, if they’re from a bottle instead of made on site, since they often use thickeners.

The result: I don’t eat out much for lunch.

This means I need to bring my lunch every day. (I got a snazzy new grown-up looking lunchbox when I got my new job, specifically to be large enough to bring leftovers). The gluten free thing also means no sandwiches, and I’m very careful about bringing salads, because I am a giant clutz and always end up having to get oily salad dressing stains out of my shirts.

Alongside trying to eat small meals every few hours (which helps a lot with mood stability), this can be a little tedious, especially if it means cooking big meals every night so I have leftovers. While it’s pretty easy to have leftover chili, it’s harder with other things (like grilled vegetables, which SSH and I tend to just devour with abandon).

My solution recently has been to make a sort of casserole on Sunday with the express idea of eating it for lunch all week. While any casserole will do, one that doesn’t take much work is ideal. A baked (GF) pasta casserole does well and reheats well, as does my current favorite – roasted veggies and chicken.

Roasted Veggie Casserole

You need:

  • about 2lbs of meat, cut into 1” chunks (I usually use chicken breast or pork tenderloin, for a vegetarian version, try canned/cooked chickpeas)
  • Vegetables, cut up into roughly the same sized chunks – I’ve used red potatoes, sweet potato, carrot, beets, bell pepper, onion, zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, garlic, asparagus, brussels sprouts; basically any veggie you can roast (tomatoes don’t do so well)
  • olive oil
  • white wine or chicken broth
  • spices and salt and pepper

This is basically a recipe shell. I don’t list any spices because you can really go nuts. I’ve made this Scarborough style (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme), southwest style (chili powder, cumin, oregano), Italian style (Italian spices, garlic powder, crushed red pepper), grilled style (grill seasonings of various blends).

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with no-stick spray. In a big bowl, dump all the meat and veggies, plus a few tablespoons of olive oil and a few sloshes of white wine. Add the spices and mix well. (Do not under-salt this.)

Dump the resulting mixture into the prepared pan, distribute evenly, and cover with foil. Bake at 400F, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20 minutes, until you start to see some browned edges.

I usually leave this on the counter to cool until it’s lukewarm and then divvy it up into 5 small glass containers (like these little ones) and pop them in the fridge.  (Sometimes if I really fill the baking dish, there’s enough for a weeknight meal too) With a piece of fruit, you’ve got an excellent lunch that only takes a few minutes to get hot in the microwave and is remarkably good for you, with the added benefit that it is very neutral in smell (just the spices), so your coworkers won’t hate you for making the place smell like stale curried fish.

And it’s super tasty too!

This week’s version has chicken, new potatoes, zucchini, onion, bell pepper, and carrots, with Mrs. Dash “Garlic and Herb” plus a good bit of salt and pepper. Next week I’m thinking I’ll try an Italian version, maybe with pesto, garlic and tomatoes.

Beans and Cornbread

I read this post over on Google+ yesterday, and it made me really sad.

Why beans made me cry in my car today.

Also pleased in the power of humanity, because it’s really good to see people helping each other out, but really sad because it sucks to be in that position, with no money and hungry people to feed, and no idea what to do with this so-called staple, beans.

As such, I’m going to be reading up on what to do with things like lentils (since I don’t really have a clue what to do with them) and posting some of my findings here.

For today, though, I’m going to share a recipe that I love. It’s easy to make, uses staple foods (beans and brown rice), and is absolutely delicious. It’s also really good for a shared dinner/pot luck, because everyone can add their own toppings.

Bean and Brown Rice Burrito Bowls

Software:

  • 4 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • Optional: 1 red bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 1/4 cups water (or 1 cup broth and 2 1/4 cups water)
  • 1 boullion cube (omit if using broth)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans – drained and rinsed, or about 3 cups dried beans, cooked (NOT just soaked)
  • 1 tsp salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: ¾ cup corn kernels (canned or frozen and thawed)
  • Optional Toppings: Salsa, sour cream, sliced avocado, cooked chicken or ground beef, corn tortillas

Hardware:

  • Large oven-proof pot or dutch oven

Preheat the oven to 375° F.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion (and bell pepper, if using) to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned and tender, about 12-14 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the chicken broth or water and boullion to the pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the rice and salt, and cover.  Bake until the rice is tender, 65-70 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and uncover.  Fluff the rice with a fork, stir in the beans (and corn, if using) and replace the lid.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Mix in the black pepper.  Serve in bowls with tortillas and a mixture of toppings. My favorite is salsa and sour cream, but avocado is nice if you can get them cheap. I actually like this recipe better as vegetarian than I do with chicken or beef in it, but it’s certainly OK to add those as a topping too.

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Home Repair, part 2

After installing a dishwasher, we decided to install a new faucet in our prep sink as well. Which sounds like there was one before. There wasn’t. It went bad about 2 months ago, we just hadn’t replaced it yet.

Of course, I’m headed in to work today.

Let’s see if the faucet is going to be the same kind of dramatic experience that installing the dishwasher was…