Ladies Weekend Grilled Cheese

As you know I am all alone this weekend while Eric and the guys are trolling around Vegas! So what do I do? Let me break down my days for you so far. Day one, Wednesday, I wake up around 1100 hours and have a cupcake for breakfast. In an uncharacteristic burst of energy I start all the laundry in the house, following up by dusting all the surfaces and vacuuming all the floors. By 1400 hours I have finished all the housework and have leftover macaroni and cheese for lunch. The rest of the day is spent lounging around the apartment – some of it spent watching YouTube, some spent perusing Facebook. Scalloped potatoes provide sustenance for dinner and bedtime around 0200 hours. Day two, Thursday, my day is started earlier around 0900 hours. Coffee is the only sustenance necessary at this hour, unfortunately due to a last minute machine breakdown the straining process must be done carefully by hand. After finally procuring the sweet nectar of the gods I write up this week’s Let’s Cook blog post discussing last Sunday’s kimchi bokkeumbop. Once finished I walked to the nearby shopping center so as to make some kind of human contact. The beings around me, Californians, are a strange sort. They are always ready to rush others, but never in a rush themselves. So unlike the East Coast where everyone is in a rush no matter what, I’m still not sure what to make of their strange behavior. I arrived back at the apartment around 1600 hours and had a slice of flourless chocolate cake for lunch. The rest of the day was spent on Skype with friends from home, reading 1984, and watching episodes of The Office. Until 1800 hours rolled around and I began to recognize a particular rumbling in my stomach usually indicative of the fast approaching time to begin dinner preparations. Due to a lack of friends to cook for there was a dearth of ingredients in my fridge. I was left with the scraps from previously made meals and had no idea what to make of them. Finally it dawned on me. I had all the ingredients to prepare the mouthwatering meal that had been nourishing riley toddlers, lazy college students, and bachelors for ages, grilled cheese.

Pesto Turkey Grilled Provolone

2 Slices Sandwich Bread
¼ Cup Tomatoes (Sliced)IMG_20140808_123715833
¼ Cup Shallots (Sliced)
1 Tablespoon Butter (Quartered)
2 Slices Provolone Cheese
1 Teaspoon Pesto
3 Slices Turkey Deli Meat

  • In a small fry pan melt one quarter of the butter on medium high heat. Sauté the tomatoes and shallots until the shallots begin to turn translucent. Once done, set aside on a small plate.

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  • Melt another quarter of butter and add one slice of sandwich bread (I used Schar Gluten Free Wheat Free Multigrain Bread) to the pan, allowing it to soak up some of the butter. Flip the piece over and let the other side soak. Grill until lightly browned on each side, then set aside. Add another quarter of butter to your pan and grill the second slice in the same manner.
  • While grilling your second slice of bread begin adding ingredients to the slice you set aside. Start with the first slice of provolone cheese then spread the pesto on top of the cheese. Evenly top the pesto with your tomatoes and shallot mixture. Add the layers of turkey and second slice of cheese on top of the tomato shallot mixture, finishing with the second slice of cheese.

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  • Melt your last quarter of butter on medium heat. Place your sandwich in the pan and cover it with a lid, grill like this for two minutes. Flip your sandwich and grill for another two minutes. Wrap in a paper towel and enjoy!

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As you might have guessed from the first paragraph I am slowly losing my mind to solitary confinement. Also, because my coffee maker broke last Friday and instead of buying a new one I’ve been hand straining my coffee. How? Oh simply by precariously holding the machine strainer over a mug and pouring boiled water over it. I should really buy a new coffee machine before I lose it completely or burn the crap out of my hand. Anyway I hope you enjoy the grilled cheese recipe! It’s one of my favorite comfort foods especially with a nice cup of tomato soup. So yummy!

ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia

Delicious Gluten Free Italian at Luca Cucina Italiana Feast

A good friend of mine recently quit his job in preparation for an extended vacation where he’ll be traveling across Asia (I’m quite jealous) and to celebrate his last day at work this Friday we decided to go out for a feast!I’d passed Luca Cucina Italiana several times whilst wandering around Berkeley and was intrigued by the cozy atmosphere that seemed to radiate from the place. As a bonus I’d seen the name come up several times while browsing my “Find Me GF” app. So off we went with growling tummies and visions of delicious pastas dancing in our heads.

The glimpses I’d seen from outside the restaurant were correct in leading me to expect a warm environment. The interior is softly lit with beautiful art lining the walls on one side and rustic bricks on the other. Even better than the atmosphere was the fantastic dinner service. The waitresses at Luca were very attentive and helpful! The woman in charge of our table immediately pointed out which menu items could be made gluten free for me and was also able to suggest a wine pairing for my meal. Oh man and what a meal it was!

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We started with two appetizers – the carpaccio antipasti and special antipasti. The carpaccio included thinly sliced filet mignon topped with arugula, parmigiano, capers, red onion, and lemon. The onions and lemon were to the side of the other ingredients so we were able to add those at our leisure. I opted to combine all pieces of the dish so I got an extremely fresh slightly salty, slightly acidic bite of filet every time. It was incredible. The special antipasti that day included fresh roasted red pepper, mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, and sautéed portobella mushrooms. The portobella mushrooms on that antipasti were one of my favorite parts of our entire meal. They were cooked to perfection so you got a burst of fantastic mushroom flavor with each bite. Not going to lie, I snuck a few onto my bites of carpaccio and it was heavenly.

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Onto our main courses! The guest of honor ordered the panna penne with meatballs, Eric went with the chicken piccata with fusilli, and I had the chicken marsala with gluten-free penne. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the taste of any order but mine (since mine was the only one ordered gluten-free), but I can say that everything smelled delicious. So, since 90% of taste is smell I’d say that’s a pretty glowing review for everything ordered. Anywho, let’s get into an in depth description of my incredibly delicious chicken marsala. My first compliment really has to go to the thinness of the chicken. The chicken breast were as close to paper thin as (I believe) you could humanly get them and were cooked to crispy perfection. These were topped with mushrooms in a smooth buttery and sweet marsala wine sauce. Finally there was the gluten free penne, cooked perfectly and tossed in a light tomato sauce. I was really impressed by the two sauces on my dish – both were packed with flavors, but neither o
verwhelmed the chicken or penne. Something I’ve found is quite difficult to achieve.

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If you’re in the Berkeley area you need to try this place out. Gluten free Italian is
a rarity and Luca is an absolutely wonderful time. I hope you enjoyed, now go have your own fantastic Italian adventure!

ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia

Skillet Lasagna

How’s everyone’s weekend going? I took a break from blogging yesterday because we had take-out and game night with friends. Plus the new Sailor Moon Crystal episode came out and I was definitely not checking Hulu every five minutes to see if it’d been posted. Certainly not, that would be obsessive. (#^.^#) Anywho, this recipe is coming to you from Friday night and I’m not going to lie to you – I’ve been eating left-overs for pretty much every meal since then. Which is absolutely a good thing because they’re delicious, so onto the recipe!

Lasagna

2 Medium Eggplants (Chopped Small)
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms (Chopped Small)
2 Shallots (Diced)
4 Garlic Cloves (Grated)Happy Ingredients
1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
½ Tablespoon Dried Rosemary Leaves (Crushed)
½ Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
12 Dried Lasagna Noodles
1 15-Ounce Carton Ricotta Cheese
8-Ounces MozzarellaThere were no survivors Cheese (Shredded)
1 Cup Whipping Cream
2 Eggs
½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Heat your olive oil in a large cast iron skillet on medium high. Cook the eggplant, mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in the skillet until they begin to lose crispness (I did this in two shifts because of the HUGE amount of eggplant.) Once the veggies are just tender stir in the basil, rosemary, and Italian seasoning. Roast the vegetable mix in your oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  2. While roasting the vegetables cook your noodles according to package directions. I used Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta Lasagne brand to keep the recipe gluten free. Set the pasta aside once done.
  3. To make the cheese filling add your ricotta, 5 ounces of mozzarella, cream, eggs, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Combine the ingredients using your hands (make sure they’re clean first) until well-incorporated.
  4. Once the vegetable mix has finished take it out of the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove 2/3 of the vegetable mix from the skillet and set aside. Using a scraping spatula to spread the remainder of the vegetable mix evenly along your skillet bottom. Place an even layer of lasagna noodles on top of the vegetables and spoon a layer of cheese filling on top of the noodles. Continue this process until you’ve run out of layering ingredients, ending with a layer of cheese filling. Sprinkle your remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the final layer.
  5. Cover your skillet with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover your lasagna and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Skillet Lasagna

I put a pot holder on my kitchen table, slapped the skillet on that, and let everyone serve themselves. You could be more formal about it, but let’s be honest with ourselves here – nothing quite screams “family style” louder than the cheesy deliciousness of lasagna being served out of a cast iron skillet. I don’t know maybe I’m wrong about that; maybe my family was just weird. Whatever, enjoy!

Plated Skillet Lasagna

ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia

Chicken with Pasta and Fresh Tomato Sauce

To start, this dish obviously does not need to be made gluten free. If you are able to enjoy the fantastic delicacies of wheat, barley, and rye please make this as glutinous as you’d like. I will stay in my gluten free corner and weep for my losses… Anyway! This is a fantastic dinner for summer months. It’s light, flavorful and won’t leave you so full that you’ll worry you’ve ruined that bikini body you’ve worked so hard for (or maybe not who knows).

Chicken

2 Chicken Breasts
1 Teaspoon Montreal Chicken Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary Leaves (Crushed)
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoon Butter
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil

  1. First clean your chicken by carefully removing any fat or cartilage.
    Next, butterfly the chicken breasts and finish by fully cutting them in half. Alternatively you can pound the chicken breasts to thin them out; however, I find butterflying then splitting faster.
  2. Combine the Montreal seasoning, 2014-07-03 20.03.40rosemary leaves, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Evenly rub the spice mix all over the chicken cutlets. Next, spread the flour on a large plate (I used King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour) and evenly coat the chicken cutlets. Shake off any excess flour before cooking.
  3. In a large fry pan heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter. When the butter oil mixture starts to sizzle add two of the chicken cutlets. Cook each cutlet for 3 minutes on each side, once browned remove and transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon more of each part of the oil butter mixture to pan, repeat browning process on the remaining cutlets, and set-aside once done.
  4. Keep the oil butter mixture in the pan to use for the tomato sauce.

Sauce

2 Cups Chopped Roma
Tomatoes
2 Garlic Cloves (Finely Grated)
¼ Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Pepper
½ Teaspoon Dried Basil
½ Cup Chicken Broth
¼ Cup White Wine

  1. In the fry pan previously used to cook the chicken combine the tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until the tomatoes are tender then stir in the basil.
  2. Add white wine and chicken broth turn heat up to medium high so the sauce will begin to simmer. Periodically stir the sauce to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Once the sauce has begun to simmer place the chicken back in the pan and simmer with the chicken in sauce for 5 minutes on each side.
  4. After the entire dish has simmered for ten minutes remove the chicken and set aside on the plate it had previously been on.

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To serve toss your favorite pasta (I used Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta Spirals) in your fresh made tomato sauce & portion onto serving plates. Slice the chicken & place over pasta, garnish with fresh grated Parmesan, and enjoy!

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ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia

Chicken Piccata

Here’s another meal I find myself making quite frequently, mostly because I always have the ingredients and my boyfriend loves it – hope you do too!

Chicken Piccata

Chicken:

4 Split (2 Whole) Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

½ Cup Flour

¾ Cup Crushed Saltines or Corn Meal

2 Eggs

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Preheat oven to 400°
  • Put flour in a small bowl.
  • Beat eggs in a small bowl and place next to flour.
  • Place saltines or corn meal in a third bowl at the end of the assembly.
  • Bread the chicken by covering evenly in flour, dipping in eggs, and covering evenly again in saltines/ corn meal.
  • Heat the olive oil on high in a pan; test a small piece of chicken by placing it in the oil, when ready oil will bubble around it.
  • Add the chicken breasts and brown them on both sides; about 5 min. per side.
  • While cooking the sauce put the breasts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

Sauce:

3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

½ Onion Chopped

½ Cup White Wine

1/3 Cup Lemon Juice (1 Large or 2 Small Lemons)

1 Tbsp Capers

1 Tsp Basil

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper

½ Tsp Oregano

½ Tsp Rosemary

½ Tsp Onion Powder

  • Using a paper towel wipe out the crumbs from the pan you previously used for the chicken.
  • Heat the butter on medium, once fully melted add the onion.
  • Sautee the onion until translucent then add the wine and lemon juice; reduce heat to low.
  • While sauce is simmering add the capers, basil, salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, and onion powder.
  • Continue to simmer on low, stirring occasionally (I do this by lightly turning the pan in a circular motion), until the chicken is finished cooking.

Serve on a bed of pasta (fettuccini is pictured above) and garnish with a slice of lemon. Serves around three to four people.

ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia