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Spaghetti with Lentil Vegetable Marinara (gluten-free and vegan)

April 28, 2013


Lately I’ve felt incredibly distant from Espresso and Cream. I can honestly say that in the 3 1/2 years that I have been blogging, I have never felt my passion and excitement for blogging trail off in the least bit. Until recently. That’s not to say that I’m going to stop blogging, it’s just something I’ve been thinking and feeling for the last couple weeks. More than anything, it seems that my life is so full of food that at the end of the day I feel creatively tapped out. My job, which I love, has me in the kitchen constantly, creating new recipes and developing new ideas. And to top things off, Joe and I embarked on a cleanse that has made every day eating and cooking more of a creative challenge than I had anticipated.

I’ve loved our cleanse and enjoyed being forced out of my comfort zone in the kitchen. Reading labels is a new (not so favorite) pastime and I have a new found appreciation for anyone who has to live with a food allergy, especially a gluten or dairy allergy since it is in everything.

That said, I’ve also had a lot of my creative juices zapped since planning for and preparing three cleanse-friendly meals a day takes a lot of time, effort and energy. Already I can see how things are starting to get easier and I’m sure that if Joe and I were to stick to this diet longer term it would become second nature to me, but for now it is uncharted territory.

All of that is really just me saying thank you for understanding if I’ve seemed a bit distant and removed from E&C over the past couple weeks. We are now on our last week of the cleanse and feeling great, but I’m also looking forward to adding some foods back into the regular rotation, mainly eggs since they are so useful in the kitchen.

In the meantime, I thought I would share with you this dish I made for lunch on Sunday. It’s incredibly simple to pull together and also super tasty. I should also note that it is husband-approved, meaning it feels hearty and satisfying, without weighing you down after. The “meat sauce” is made with a mixture of lentils, mushrooms, onions and sweet peppers. The combination is flavorful and packed with protein and vitamins. And if, like me, you are seeking ultimate convenience, there is no shame in purchasing pre-cooked lentils to cut down on time in the kitchen.


Spaghetti with Lentil-Vegetable Marinara
Makes 4 servings
*4 servings of gluten-free brown rice spaghetti
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 medium onion, chopped
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1 medium orange or red sweet pepper, chopped
*1 cup chopped mushrooms
*1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked brown or green lentils (to make things quicker/easier this week, we bought lentils pre-cooked at Trader Joe’s)
*1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 jar (25 to 28 oz) gluten-free marinara sauce of choice (I used a roasted garlic variety)

*Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. While pasta cooks, you can throw together the rest of this dish.
*Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is softened and opaque. Add in the garlic, sweet pepper and mushrooms and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes more or until pepper and mushrooms are cooked through and tender. Add in the lentils, salt and black pepper. Stir until well combined.
*Pour sauce into skillet and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more or until sauce is warmed through and flavors are mixed together.
*Serve mixture atop cooked pasta.

Happy Cooking!


Roasted Potatoes, Asparagus and Onions with Rosemary

April 22, 2013


Well friends, Joe and I officially made it through an entire week of our yoga cleanse! I know I created an entire blog for the sole purpose of not talking at length about the cleanse on Espresso and Cream, but that’s becoming more difficult than I had expected. Since our new way of eating (no gluten, animal products, processed sugar, alcohol or caffeine) is permeating everything we do and all the food I make, the recipes that I share on Espresso and Cream over the next two weeks will most likely reflect the meals that Joe and I have been enjoying on the cleanse.

At this point, I can’t imagine baking up treats that we can’t enjoy. I’m afraid the temptation would be a little too much to handle at this point. Although I don’t miss gluten or animal products much at all, I would kill for a piece of dark chocolate right about now. And maybe a cup of coffee, too!

This roasted potato and asparagus dish Joe and I ate for dinner last week was one of my favorite meals of the week! Probably because it was incredibly easy, but also because it was filling and satisfying, too. In order to make it a little more balanced, I added in some cubed seasoned and marinated tofu before serving. And although Joe is still not a huge fan of tofu, he still ate it when it was mixed with all these other flavorful roasted veggies.

My mom has been in town this weekend and we haven’t stopped going all weekend! I think that may be why it’s 8 pm and I’m already about to crash and head to bed. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are ready for a great week to come!

Roasted Potatoes, Asparagus and Onion with Rosemary 
Makes 2 to 3 servings
2 pounds Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Potatoes (you could also use fingerling potatoes)
1 bunch asparagus spears, ends trimmed
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; cut asparagus into bite-sized pieces.  Place potatoes, asparagus and onion in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss to coat evenly.

Roast for 15 to 25 minutes or until potatoes and onions are golden brown and asparagus are tender. Serve immediately. (Also: highly recommended to serve this dish with a little salsa on the side.)

Happy Cooking!


Sweet Vegan Cashew Cream

April 18, 2013


Since I can’t enjoy my nightly dark chocolate fix while we are doing our yoga cleanse, I have been looking for creative ways to satisfy my sweet tooth after dinner. Not an easy task considering that the “sweets” can’t contain any sweetener other than agave or stevia and they also can’t contain dairy, gluten or eggs. Basically, my options are seriously limited.

I’ve seen recipes for cashew cream, both sweet and savory, on blogs and websites quite a bit, but I had yet to make any myself until this week. I think I’m going to have to restrain myself from making another batch because I had no control with this stuff. It’s crazy good. Something about the nutty taste of the cashews whirled into a creamy pudding-like dessert satisfied my sweet tooth perfectly.

Fair warning: this is not a low calorie dessert. Although the ingredients are wholesome, the cashews are also pretty calorie dense. Hence, I’m not going to allow myself to make another batch for at least a week since the first batch lasted me about six days. Yikes!


Sweet Vegan Cashew Cream
Makes 6 to 8 servings

*3 cups unsalted cashews
*2 cups water
*1/4 cup agave
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*Additional stevia to taste

*Place cashews in a bowl and completely submerge in water. Soak for 3 hours to soften cashews completely.
*Drain cashews. Combine cashews, 2 cups water, agave, cinnamon and stevia to taste in a blender and blend until smooth. If you do not have a high-powered blender (personally, I don’t) I suggest that you run the mixture through a food processor first to get it as smooth as you can and then run through a blender to make it truly creamy and delicious.
*Refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve with fruit, nuts or other desired topping.

Happy Cooking!


Gluten-Free Apple Crumble

March 10, 2013


One of the most wonderful parts about moving to Minneapolis has been the fact that we are now, once again, surrounded by plenty of things to do in a city filled with people our age. While we enjoyed our time in Grinnell, it never felt like our long-term home. And while we don’t know how long we will live in Minneapolis, it’s a place we could easily see ourselves living for a long time. A place where we hope to develop deep friendships and really start to build a life.

I’ve never been a huge fan of entertaining or having people over for a meal. Perhaps it was because we didn’t have much extra space and having people over always felt like a huge undertaking to make enough room for everyone to sit comfortably. Another factor might also have had something to do with the fact that I felt the need to pull out all the stops by making a meal that seemed both effortless and impressive. When your title at work is “food editor” it seems like people expect something great.

But lately we’ve been making it a habit to have friends over for dinner once a week, sometimes even more than that, and I absolutely love it! It’s cheaper, friendlier and more casual than going out to eat at a restaurant. There’s something nice about having friends into your home while managing to not go crazy preparing over-the-top dishes. When friends come over, especially on weeknights, I’ve been relying on dishes that are big on flavor and easy to prepare in advance: slow cooker beef stew and buttermilk biscuits, wild rice casserole with lentils and a large salad, my mom’s three bean chili and cornbread. Is this the absolute best work I could do in the kitchen? Absolutely not, but I’m starting to realize that it’s not really the point. It’s secondary to conversation and community.


It seems wrong not to end the meal with a little something sweet when friends are over, doesn’t it? And since I’m not sure my friends would all share my enthusiasm for a piece of dark chocolate and warm almond milk, I’ve taken to preparing fruit crisps and cobblers since they’re super easy and slightly healthier than a piece of cake. The great part is you can tailor the amount of sugar to suit your tastes. I usually cut the sugar in most traditional recipes in half since the fruit is so naturally sweet and too much sugar seems to mask the fruit’s flavor. Last week I made a crisp with frozen mixed berries and this week I used the apples I had on hand.

And since you never know what people are or are not eating these days, I made this crumble gluten-free to err on the safe side. I promise that even if you aren’t eating gluten free (we certainly are not) you will not feel as if you are eating a sub-par version of a traditional fruit crumble. It’s hearty and flavorful thanks to the almond meal used in the topper. If you can’t find almond meal locally, feel free to make your own almond meal by pulsing blanched almonds in your food processor until they are finely ground, just be careful not to over-process and turn your almonds into almond butter.

Gluten-Free Apple Crumble
Makes 4 generous servings
*3 medium gala or granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
*3 tablespoons quinoa flour or other gf flour of your choice
*1/4 cup sugar
*1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2/3 cup rolled oats (certified gf)
*1/4 cup almond meal (I buy mine at Trader Joe’s)
*1/4 cup brown sugar
*4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
*Gluten-free ice cream (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the apples, quinoa flour, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Toss to coat evenly. Spoon into an 8×8-inch baking dish.
*In a second bowl, combine the oats, almond meal and brown sugar. Add butter to flour mixture and combine with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture atop apples in baking dish. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and filling is slightly bubbling around the edges. If you like your apples soft and almond applesauce like (which Joe and I prefer) bake 50 minutes. If you prefer your apples to have a bit of crunch I would suggest taking the crumble out around 40 minutes.
*Cool slightly. Spoon into dishes or plates and top with ice cream, if desired.

Happy Baking!


Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese

September 12, 2011

The road warriors are back from Chicago! We traveled across the state of Iowa and over to Illinois for the weekend to stay with my sister-in-law (Joey’s sister) Amber and her hubby Jake. They are expecting a baby in a little over four weeks so this will most likely be the last time we see them until the baby arrives. So darn exciting! The other purpose of our trip was to watch Jason, Joey’s brother, play football. He’s a senior in college so we are going to try and make it to as many games as possible this season.

Before we headed out for the weekend, I found myself with a bag of quinoa pasta on my hands (more on that later). Paired with a block of cheese, it seemed like the perfect excuse to make a slightly healthier version of macaroni and cheese. I’m a sucker for a good homemade version of the cheesy stuff and figured Cooking Light would be the best place to start looking for a recipe.

Of course, they did not disappoint. The original recipe wasn’t gluten-free, but making a few small alterations quickly turned things around. I also added in some creamy Dijon mustard and paprika for a bit of tang and dimension and sharp white cheddar cheese for another punch of flavor.

After making the stovetop recipe, I spooned the mixture into four ramekins and covered the ramekins with aluminum foil. When we returned from our trip, dinner was ready to be heated up in the microwave and finished in the oven, just be sure not to top with cracker crumbs and broil until you are ready to eat.

Personally, I find the best way to eat this dish is when paired with a large side of steamed broccoli to balance out all the cheese. What’s your favorite mac and cheese add-in?

Updated 9.13 to Note: Reader Jennifer sent me a very kind and insightful e-mail after I originally posted this recipe (which called for gluten-free whole wheat crackers) letting me know that such a thing doesn’t exists since it is made with wheat, which contains gluten. She is completely right and I’ve made changes to the recipe to reflect this. 

Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light  

*1 1/4 cups quinoa (or other gluten-free pasta) elbow macaroni pasta
*1 cup 1% milk
*2 tablespoons quinoa flour or other gluten-free flour
*1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
*1/4 teaspoon paprika
*3/4 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
*1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/8 teaspoon black pepper
*Crushed gluten-free crackers (optional)

*Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
*Combine milk and flour in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes or until mixture is thickened, stirring constantly. Add in the mustard, paprika, shredded cheddar cheese, salt and black pepper. Stir until the cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
*Add pasta to the cheese mixture and stir gently until evenly coated. Spoon pasta mixture into four ramekins. Top with crushed crackers, if desired.
*Preheat broiler. Broil mac and cheese for 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Happy cooking!