Saturday, January 4, 2014

Primal Pumpkin Mac and Cheese (gluten-free)

Cold this winter? Love mac & cheese? Eating paleo/primal? Try pumpkin mac and cheese for a tasty twist on an old favorite. The pumpkin adds a subtle flavor that excellently compliments the traditional cheddar cheese. It was a huge hit in my house and was the perfect way to warm up a chilly snow day!

Primal Pumpkin Mac and Cheese (gluten-free) 
Adapted from Inspired Taste
Serves 3-4

8 oz gluten-free pasta, any shape
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp arrowroot
1 c milk (any type will do)
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 c pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2 c shredded cheddar cheese (additional 1/4 c optional for topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350 (only if baking to make a crusty top layer). Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then cook pasta according to the package directions.
2. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan on low heat. Once melted, add and stir to dissolve. Pour in milk and bring to a simmer, then simmer for 1 minute. Mixture will get thick.
3. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in mustard and pumpkin. Add 2 c cheese and keep stirring until melted and all that goodness is evenly combined.
4. Grease an 8x8 casserole dish or other serving dish. Gently transfer pasta to dish, be careful as gluten-free pasta is more delicate. Pour in cheese sauce and gently mix everything so pasta is evenly coated. Mac n cheese is ready to eat as is, but to make a crusty top layer, sprinkle the extra 1/4 c cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Eat that bad boy up!!!! My family destroyed it in less than 5 minutes :P

Friday, January 3, 2014

Holiday Veggie Wreath

Happy new year! Hello 2014!

Each family has their own holiday traditions. My family usually whips up a whole batch of appetizers (see last year's post) but this year, we were all really tired from... life. So, my mom & I decided to do 2 appetizers, the holiday veggie wreath and chicken wings.Yes, the wreath is not paleo, but it's only once a year and very festive :)

Holiday Veggie Wreath 
(adapted from Betty Crocker)

4 oz onion & chives cream cheese
2 cans refrigerated dough (Whole Foods has a very good one; Pillsbury is full of chemicals)
8 oz spinach (or broccoli, chopped)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 egg white
Sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 375 (or temperature on dough can).
2. Heat a small saucepan on medium. Add a tsp of oil and cook the spinach until it reduces in size.
3. Unroll dough and arrange in a circle on a a round cookiesheet with the widest part slightly overlapping and the points radiating outward (see picture below). 
4. Spread cream cheese on the dough.
5. Transfer the spinach to the dough and evenly distribute over the widest part of the dough triangles. Add diced peppers (and/or broccoli). Only spread until you reach the end of the cookiesheet; do not put vegetables beyond the cookiesheet (why? when you flip the dough, it might fall out).
6. Flip end points of the dough triangles over the veggies and tuck underneath the wide part of the dough. 
7. Brush egg white over the dough ring. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
8. Bake for 15-20 minutes (look at timer on dough can). Wreath is done when it is golden brown. Garnish the center however you want... more food, candle, holiday decorations, or nothing at all.
9. Dig in!!! Optional: cut the wreath by crescent roll before serving.