It’s squash time!

Monica and Daria say:

We love autumn!

The amazing and changing colors of the leaves, wearing sweaters, eating soup…oh we can go on, and on, and on!

Anyway, another delicious thing about fall is eating winter squash!

You know…acorn, butternut, delicata, pumpkin, and more. You can roast, puree, and sauté each of these in so many different recipes.

Squashes are considered a superfood by nutritionists and with good reason. They are loaded with antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties, are rich in vitamins (particularly folate), are loaded with beta-carotene (a super skin food), and are full of fiber.

Eating them is a no-brainer….you just need some great recipes!

Since the butternut squash is one of OUR favorites, we decided to combine it with some pasta to make yet another dish for “Meatless Monday!”

We shy away from veggies that are already cut in the supermarket and like to tackle the cutting ourselves for a fresher taste.

Butternut squash is not the easiest squash to cut due to its hard outside. So we found a neat link to help you cut it.

Now that you are ready to make a “Meatless Monday” dinner, let’s go!

This recipe is versatile as you can switch out the butternut squash for pumpkin, and you can switch out Feta cheese with maybe Goat cheese or another soft favorite cheese!

Happy cooking!

Enjoy!

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GF Pasta with Butternut Squash and Feta Cheese

Ingredients:

4 pounds butternut squash (or fresh pumpkin)

4 ounces sweet onion, peeled and chopped

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup fresh sage leaves, torn

Salt and pepper

12 ounces gluten free pasta of your choice

2 T butter

5 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel, clean, and cut squash into 1 or 2 inch cubes.

Toss squash, onion, olive oil, sage, salt and pepper together in a bowl and then arrange on a Pam®-coated sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your gluten free pasta al dente, according to package instructions. Strain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of pasta water.

Return pasta, cooking water, roasted squash, onion, butter, and Feta cheese to pot. GENTLY fold to combine.

Serves 6.

YUM!

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© 2015, Monica & Daria of glutenfreedoubletalk           whisks

 

 

 

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Zucchini and pasta…a match made in heaven!

Monica says:

When I think of dinner on a Friday, it’s a meatless meal!

Why?

Well, for so many years, growing up Catholic, we weren’t allowed to eat meat EVER on a Friday! So I guess you can say that I’m in a rut…but actually it’s a good rut!

There are so many wonderful meatless meals that you can come up with and being Italian, the Mediterranean diet fits the bill so beautifully.

So now I would like to share a recipe from my oldest friend’s mother, who everyone calls Nana Angie.

Nancy has been my friend since first grade so she really is my oldest friend…I can hear her now….”But you’re older than me!” Yes, chronologically I beat her by one month and two days (but who’s counting?)!

Nana Angie might be the BEST Italian cook in my little world! Everything she makes and has made over the years is just delicious. And she lives to feed everyone and anyone who visits with her! She is just a great lady!

Anyway, when I first tasted this pasta dish at Nancy’s house, I fell in love! And over the years, I think I have perfected it, but being a “throw a little of this, and a little of that” kind of cook, I found it really hard to write this recipe down!

So I hope it turns out great if you try it…and if it doesn’t, I apologize!

Cooking isn’t the fine art that baking is!

So here goes….enjoy!

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Zucchini, cheese, and eggs

Ingredients:

1-2 T Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2-3 slender young zucchini, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, diced

Gluten free pasta of your choice (16 oz)

1 can tomato sauce (16 oz)

1 can crushed tomatoes (32 oz)

Salt and pepper

Pinch of oregano, basil, and parsley (if you have fresh spices, USE them)

1 egg

2-3 T Romano cheese

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Directions:

Chop your onion and zucchini and set aside.

Make the pasta according to package directions.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onion first. When the onion becomes semi-soft, add the garlic and zucchini, sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper, and sauté until zucchini is fork tender.

Now add your sauces….first the tomato sauce. Stir to combine.

Then add your crushed tomatoes. Stir.

Add the spices.

Now let the mixture get incorporated and let simmer for a few minutes.

Right before serving, beat the egg with the Romano cheese and add to the skillet.

Incorporate the egg mixture by continually stirring for 2 minutes (sauce will lighten to a pleasant orange color).

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Rinse your pasta and place into a large bowl. Pour your sauce mixture over and top with additional Romano cheese OR…

you can place pasta in individual bowls and top with sauce.

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Just don’t forget the grated Romano cheese on top!!

© 2015, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk, inspired and conceived originally by Nana Angie

Veggie Lasagna…gluten-free and gorgeous!

Monica says:

Is your mouth watering looking at this picture?

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If so, then you need to make this gluten-free lasagna and make yourself happy!

Lasagna has always been a favorite meal in our household.

The saucier and cheesier the better!

But when Daria and I were diagnosed with celiac disease, our meals changed quite a bit….especially the Italian ones!

In 2002 the products that are on the market today were virtually non-existent. We ate very blandly and endured many a boring meal while we educated ourselves about this thing called a “gluten-free diet!”

We did have the occasional pasta but it was made by my hubby and Daria’s daddy who grew up making cavatelli with his Nana! He used Betty Hagman’s cookbook, The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy, like a bible. Thank God for Lewie because we were still getting used to our new lifestyle and were often sick!

Fast forward to today….gluten-free products abound! But we still find ourselves shying away from the commercially produced and processed items because we feel better eating “whole” foods.

Not to say that we aren’t grateful for the strides made in gluten-free food….we are! We just know what’s best for us…

as I’m sure you know what is best for you!

That being said, I have developed a recipe for gluten-free veggie lasagna that incorporates

all of the fresh and wonderful vegetables that I love.

Hope you give this recipe a try!

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Gluten-free Veggie Lasagna

This recipe has five parts…first, make the sauce…second, blend the cheese mixture…third, boil the noodles…fourth, sauté your veggies…and fifth, put it all together!

Sounds like a lot of work but it is so worth it!

Let’s get started…

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped fine

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2-28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes

1-15 oz. can tomato sauce

Sprinkle of basil

Sprinkle of oregano

Dash of cracked pepper

Directions

Sauté the onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil in a large sauce pan on medium heat.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a rolling boil.

Then reduce heat to medium low and cook for an hour making sure to stir every now and then.

After one hour, simmer for an additional hour.

MEANWHILE, while your sauce is getting lovely….

Cheese Mixture

Combine these Ingredients

32 oz. of Ricotta cheese

1 egg

Pinches of parsley, oregano, and basil

Dash of salt and pepper

Set the mixture aside and place in refrigerator.

NOW it’s time to make the…

Pasta

Boil ONE box of gluten-free lasagna noodles according to the package directions.

Cool.

Time to chop and sauté the…

Vegetable Blend

Ingredients

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2-8 oz. packages of mushrooms, chopped (baby bellas)

3 large carrots, chopped

3 small to medium zucchini, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bag organic baby spinach

Mozzarella cheese, grated

Romano cheese, grated

Directions

Sauté mushrooms and onions in extra virgin olive oil first. When translucent and semi-soft, remove to a plate.

Next, sauté the carrots, zucchini, and garlic until semi-soft.  Add in the spinach and stir through the veggie mixture until it wilts slightly.

Remove to the plate with the mushrooms and onions.

And now it’s time to assemble the lasagna!

Get your favorite 9 x 13 pan out and get ready to layer! (I use a non-stick ceramic baking dish)

Place sauce on the bottom of the pan, followed by noodles, followed by veggies, followed by ricotta mixture topped with a sprinkle of grated mozzarella and Romano cheeses.

Repeat.

Make sure you end with a layer of noodles on top, covered with sauce and topped with Romano cheese!

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 whisks   © 2015, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk

So the next time you are craving lasagna, why not try a vegetable version?

You can really pump up your recommended veggie intake for the day and have fun doing it!

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Buon Appetito!

© 2015, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk

Easiest supper ever!

Monica says:

My sister, Maria, and I went to Sam’s Club last week to pick up a few necessities.

Well, if you’ve never been to Sam’s or a “warehouse” store like it, then you can only imagine that it is nearly impossible to stick to your list!

Strolling through the huge aisles, you see so many items that would be great to buy, but are so NOT necessities.

With more and more gluten-free items hitting the grocery stores, supermarkets, and retailers, I suppose Sam’s is getting in on the action, too. But the two purchases that I made were very good, indeed!

The first was gluten-free orzo pasta! Daria and I have never seen it in the store before and needless to say, I was super excited!

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Thanks, Delallo’s!

The second was the jar of roasted peppers …. A medley of green, and yellow peppers.

Once again, thanks, Delallo’s, which by the way, is an awesome Italian marketplace in Jeannette, PA! Lewie and I have visited there and you feel like you are in an Italian food heaven!!

The jar of peppers had a recipe right on the jar’s tag…all I had to do was substitute the whole-wheat orzo for the gluten-free and voilà!

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Supper is born!

When I got home, I ran to Tarone’s Italian Market in town, and purchased some mild Italian sausage (we don’t do HOT sausage) to round out my ingredients! All the rest I had at home!

I just followed the instructions on the label and here’s my easy supper!

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We thoroughly enjoyed this meal and will definitely make it again….I split the orzo packages with Daria and gave her the peppers so that she can try it, too!

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So, make it an Italian night….a simple Italian night!

And don’t forget the wine!

Enjoy!

© 2015, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk

A visit to the “Steel City”

I love Pittsburgh!

It’s such a great city….so many beautiful bridges, churches, cultural events, and sports teams!

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I love the city…so much hustle and bustle! Heading over to the famous Strip District, we saw a group of people riding on what looked like a bike for multiple people….found out it’s the Pittsburgh Party Pedaler! Looks awesome….doesn’t it?

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My husband was in Pittsburgh on business. He goes out to the “Steel City” fairly often, but this time I was able to accompany him. I hadn’t been out in a few years so I was happy to go! Yay!

We arrived at the Strip District (only a half-mile strip of land) which is nicknamed “Foodie Heaven” where you can find ethnic grocers, restaurants, and local merchants selling everything “Pittsburgh!” Since I needed a Pirate shirt to wear to the upcoming baseball game, we grabbed that first, shopped up and down the street, and then needed to find some lunch.

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Thai food is usually a good choice for someone needing gluten-free options, so we were lucky to find Little Bangkok right on the main street. The lunch specials were appetizers and soups, so since we knew we were going to be eating a huge dinner, we decided on Bangkok summer rolls and two bowls of Tom Yum soup.

The summer rolls feature rice paper filled with veggies, fried tofu, mint, Thai basil and rice noodles. These were served with peanut dipping sauce (which I asked to be made with my organic tamari wheat free soy sauce). I carry it in my purse always!!

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The Tom Yum soup is a traditional spicy soup flavored with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and Thai chilies. Oh Yum!! It is the best!

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After lunch, we needed to walk around a bit to digest and then back to the hotel to get ready for our dinner at Lidia’s. Lewie was honoring a colleague on her retirement and I was invited, too!

Lidia’s lies in the heart of the Strip District and because Lewie has gotten to know the Executive Chef, Jeremy Voytish, from his many meals there, he knew that they could prepare a gluten-free meal for me. As soon as we walked in, Chef Jeremy greeted us and assured me that they would “take care of me!”

He wasn’t kidding!

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When we sat down to order, our server pointed out the many options that I had and told me that all of the gluten-free entrées were prepared in separate pots, pans and areas of the kitchen. Chef Jeremy even made sure that we were provided with an appetizer of fresh mozzarella, olives, prosciutto, and Italian meats. Delightful!

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First I had a salad “insulate di rucola” which was arugula with shaved pears, walnuts, and gorgonzola crumbles. Best way to start a meal!

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Next, I decided on the “ravioli di mais” with scallion butter and jumbo lump crab for my entrée and I was not disappointed. It was homemade gluten-free corn pasta and was prepared al dente which was perfect! So delicious and filling!

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For dessert I had Nutella ice cream but was so excited that I forgot to take a picture! Forgive me!

The next day, during our walk, we stopped for lunch at Uno Chicago Grill for pizza. I just LOVE pizza and this is probably the food that I miss most. During the first year after my diagnosis, if I smelled pizza, I would immediately feel like I could cry! I know it sounds crazy but only a fellow celiac can understand this!

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Anyway, Uno has a gluten-free menu and tries to accommodate those living gluten-free. If you are extremely sensitive, I would not recommend this restaurant, due to the cross contamination in the kitchen. I am able to eat here without too much distress and I did enjoy my veggie pizza. The crust on most gluten-free pizzas is still not anywhere near “regular” pizza and I am still in search of a gluten-free pizza crust to die for! If anyone knows of one, please let me know….thanks!

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My husband Lewie has been a Pittsburgh sports fan since he was a little boy. He especially loves the Pirates baseball team and when we visit, we usually get tickets to a game. In fact, he tries to plan his visits to Pittsburgh when the team is home!

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So how excited was I to find out (ahead of time) that PNC Park (where the Pirates play) has a food stand in the stadium that has gluten-free options. YES! It’s called Just4U Healthy Options and serves “baseball-type” food for people with celiac disease, food allergies, and who are vegetarian or vegan!

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When we approached the stand, the line was several people deep, and I was so happy to see gluten-free buns for kosher and gluten-free hotdogs, as well as gluten-free tacos with healthy salsa. But when I smelled gluten-free pulled pork on a gluten-free bun, I knew what my choice would be! I also had a side salad which was delicious, too.

No pictures, though….forgot my camera!

Who knew gluten-free people could enjoy food at the ballpark?? Thanks, Aramark Sports and Entertainment!

I hope you enjoyed my visit to Pittsburgh!

I know I did!

© 2014, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk

Gluten free pasta with fresh “tomato sauce”….easy as 1, 2, 3!

Monica says:

It’s hot outside and who wants to turn on an oven?

I know I don’t!

I want to make a supper that’s easy, nutritious, and has a stress-free clean-up.

Don’t we all?

Being Italian, my go-to is something highlighting the Mediterranean diet and since it’s summer, what comes to my mind first is….

The lovely little tomato!

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My tomato plants have given us such a great harvest this year that we have been eating tons of tomatoes as snacks, making countless tomato salads, and adding tomatoes to just about everything!

So when the temperature is hot, can you make a fresh “tomato sauce?”

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Sure you can!

All you need are little tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, salt and pepper, crushed red pepper flakes,  and some great olive oil!

Oh, and don’t forget the Parmesan cheese!

The key to this pasta dish is to decide on it EARLY in the day and here’s why!

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Take 4 pints of small grape or cherry tomatoes, and cut each one in half. I like to use half red and half orange for color.

Place cut tomatoes into a large bowl.

Sprinkle the cut tomatoes with salt and pepper, add 2 tablespoons of crushed garlic, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, and 15-20 fresh basil leaves, cut into strips.

Now pour ½ cup of olive oil over this lovely mixture.

Cover with clear plastic wrap and WAIT….

….at least 4 hours!

The tomatoes will marinate and all of the flavors will marry each other…it will be delightful!

At suppertime, make your gluten free pasta according to the directions, and after you drain it, place each serving

into a nice-sized bowl and then the magic happens!

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Place some nice heaping spoonfuls of the fresh “tomato sauce” onto each pasta serving.

Do not use a slotted spoon….you want to get every last drop of the marinade into the bowl.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and done!

 

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So yummy…and easy, right?

Mangia, mangia!

© 2014, Monica of glutenfreedoubletalk