Savory Sundays: GF Pesto Shrimp Fettuccine

Being forced to eat a mostly gluten-free diet has been a challenging yet enlightening experience. Sometimes I choose to suffer the consequences and indulge, but most of the time I behave and search for GF options. Thankfully, many GF substitutions don’t have a drastic taste difference — except for GF pizza crust, I canNOT seem to find one that I enjoy yet. Sigh.

One night a few weeks ago I was craving seafood. I debated running to the store and grabbing some cream to make homemade Alfredo sauce, but decided to utilize some ingredients in the fridge. And here was my creation!

Our pantry had a half box of GF fettuccine and the fridge sported a small jar of pesto, nearing-expiration cherry tomatoes, and an almost-empty can of Parmesan. I decided to mix all the ingredients together and created one of G’s and my favorite dinners to-date.

I initially used 2 Tbsp of pesto, but felt it was a bit too strong. I also did not use any liquid the first attempt and found the dish pretty dry. Since experimenting a few more times, I’ve narrowed the pesto down to only 1 Tbsp and a Tbsp of olive oil. This is a super simple dish to make on a busy night and be completely full and happy for the evening.

Gluten Free Pesto Shrimp Fettuccine

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

A flavorful seafood dish that is gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1 lb gluten free pasta (I prefer to use fettuccine or spaghetti)
  • 1 Tbsp pesto
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • minced garlic, to taste
  • garlic salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Cook pasta until desired texture
  2. While cooking pasta, saute shrimp in a different pan with minced garlic and some salt
  3. When both pasta and shrimp are fully cooked, mix together and toss with olive oil
  4. Add pesto and stir together
  5. Add tomatoes and Parmesan
  6. Serve hot

If you would like to add some spice, red pepper flakes are a great choice — G usually adds a dash or two to his plate.

Let me know what you think, and if you try any substitutions or tweaks.

Enjoy, friends!

Savory Sundays: Spanish Chicken Over Caulirice

G and I are challenging ourselves to a No-Spend Month this June as we have some big travel plans later in the summer and have completed a number of house projects since the New Year. (One project was unexpectedly necessary when I opted to put my hand through one of the basement windows. Thankfully I’ll only suffer a scar or two from the accident… oops!)

We do not typically spend a lot of evenings eating out anyways, but we do treat one another to a Date Night once a week. Instead we’ll be attempting a few trickier recipes at home which, in all honesty, I am ALL about! Nothing excites me more than adding a new page to my personal cookbook, especially when it includes spending time with my husband.

Challenge accepted.

In conjunction with my necessity to eat gluten-free, many of the recipes I have lined up for June 2019 are on the “healthy spectrum” and might include new flavors or flavor-combinations for our household. Another exciting factor. This one-pan dish featured below was the first new recipe attempted this month, and it’ll definitely be making a reappearance in the future! Talk about tasty — this dish is a spicy mix of herbs and lemony chicken all within a 220 calorie per serving intake. You’ll have no guilt going back for second helping with this one!

Caulirice has become a staple at our house, and I can see me incorporating this recipe without the chicken alongside future Mexican meals as well. Spanish caulirice beside tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, etc? Yes, please!

Spanish Chicken Over Caulirice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
  • Print

One-pan Spanish dish that is Whole30/Paleo approved.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp Italian spices
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb chicken (I used wings and drumsticks, but plan to use breasts in the future.)
  • 16oz cauliflower rice
  • 1.5 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • cilantro as garnish
  • homemade guacamole, to preference

Directions

  1. Mix all the spices together in a small bowl
  2. Rub half the spice mix onto the chicken, save remainder for later
  3. Cook chicken until golden brown in a skillet, then remove and set aside (do not fully cook chicken yet)
  4. Pour stock and lemon juice into the skillet and blend any chicken drippings
  5. Add cauliflower rice, tomatoes, and remaining spice mix and stir well
  6. Place the chicken over the rice and cover with a lid, cooking on medium-low hear for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked
  7. Garnish with cilantro and serve aside guacamole

If you want more spice, add more red pepper flakes.

The original recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes rather than fresh. I had cherry tomatoes on-hand, so I used them and enjoyed the juiciness. Plus, fresh are usually a cheaper option.


The original recipe can be found at Paleo Gluten Free Eats.

Let me know what you think, and if you try any substitutions or tweaks.

Enjoy, friends!

Wine Pairings For Your Easter Brunch

It is about time for another Wine Wednesday, isn’t it!?

Easter falls late this year meaning you have plenty of time to find the perfect wine combinations for your holiday meal. With thousands of wine choices to choose from, finding that perfect pairing can be difficult! Fortunately, creating a friendly and delicious wine menu to pair with your celebration can be made easier when enlisting the help of others. Spring into the season with these foolproof menu options:

Whether you choose a traditional Easter ham for 2019 or go with chicken or lamb, you are covered:

  • Most people believe tradition states dinner wines must be dry. However, the combination of salty, smoky, and sweet flavors in an Easter ham diminishes the tastes of dry wines. Instead, look towards German wines such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Choose an off-dry version, and the delicately sweet flavors with underlying acidity will cut through the richness of the ham.
  • If you decide to roast chicken this holiday, nothing pairs better than Chardonnay. Chardonnay offers a perfect balance of crisp freshness with toasty notes. Try either unoaked or oaked for two diverse tasting experiences.
  • For the red enthusiasts, no Easter dish compares to lamb. Lamb is strong in flavor which can support full-bodied, tannic red wines such as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoy your lamb roasted or grilled with a glass of Cab Sauv and even a chilly Spring day will be a bit warmer!

Salads can be as diverse as wines. Keep it simple. Opt for mixed greens with Balsamic vinaigrette, and you will be pleasantly surprised with a pairing of Merlot. The rich oak flavors found in Merlot combined with highly acidic Balsamic create an amazingly full profile that is sure to please everyone.

When it comes to side dishes, there is quite the spectrum of delightful wines to savor. With a potato side, you should be tempted by a dry rosé wine. Having a pasta dish? You can never go wrong with bubbly, which is always festive. Bubbly also enhances cheese dishes! Traminette or another semi-sweet white wine pairs well with slaws. However, if you are not wanting too many drink options on the table, it is always a good rule of thumb to pair the same “meat wine” with its side dishes.

For the grand finale, let’s talk dessert. Though a sweet bubbly always pairs well with dessert, there are wines called “dessert wines” for a reason. A late harvest or icewine will truly wow your guests! Wines with citrus hints or exotic flavors will create a richness on the palate to both lift and support any dessert of your choosing.

Happy Easter to you and yours!He is risen!

Savory Sundays: Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw

I attempt a new recipe about once a week, whether it be for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. About a month ago I came across a recipe for shrimp tacos and decided to give it a try. WOW! G and I both fell head over heels for these spicy little delicacies, and we now eat them at least once every other week. They are quick, easy, and way too good not to share.

This original recipe can be found on Peas and Crayons, but I’ve made a few changes to go along with the specific ingredients I use (and do not use from the original.)

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Fast, flavorful, and sure to make you want seconds.

Ingredients

  • 6 soft corn tortillas (6-inch)
  • 1 pound shrimp, deveined and shelled (I prefer to use salad shrimp for their sizing)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup ranch (I use Bolthouse’s yogurt ranch)
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage / broccoli slaw
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • homemade guacamole, to preference
  • chopped cilantro, to taste

Directions

  1. Chipotle Ranch: simply whisk together the ranch and hot sauce, set aside
  2. Cilantro Lime Slaw: combine apple cider vinegar, honey, and lime juice; pour over cabbage/slaw mix; add diced jalapenos — I usually let this marinate for 2 hours (or make ahead of time and let set for a day or two in the fridge.)
  3. Season shrimp with paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder, mixing well
  4. Saute shrimp (I prefer to cook with coconut oil for this recipe.)
  5. Heat tortillas for 30 seconds to prevent tearing
  6. Layer tacos: tortilla, guacamole, slaw, shrimp, chipotle ranch, and fresh cilantro
  7. Serve immediately — devour!

Typically, G and I can eat these tacos over the course of two days — I can get two uses out of the slaw mix and make 1 pound of shrimp per evening. Beware, these are seriously addicting!

You can try with tilapia or salmon instead of shrimp too!


Enjoy, friends!

Christmas In Chicago

For Christmas this year, my in-laws took G and I on a weekend trip to the Windy City. Only two hours away from our quiet little country town, Chicago is a quick drive to experience city-life every now and then. It was a quick weekend full of memories and festive attractions. A big thanks to “Ma and Pa G” for this great Christmas present! It allowed G and I to get out of the house, away from work, and spend precious moments with his parents. We are incredibly blessed.

If you are visiting Chicago for a weekend around Christmastime, there are a lot of places to visit and things to do in the city. Though we couldn’t squeeze every attraction into our schedule, here is what we were able to see and do:

My friend Saki works for Hilton and has included me in her family and friends list to be able to enjoy discounts through the company while I travel. Thanks to her generosity, our little troupe stayed two nights at the Hilton Garden Inn at McCormick Place on the 21st floor overlooking the city. Our room’s window faced North, so we were able to glimpse Lake Michigan, Soldier Field, and the Wintrust Arena.

We pulled into the hotel relatively late after enjoying dinner en route. Not wanting to go out into the city at a late hour, we instead visited the VU Rooftop Bar and Lounge which was located on the 22nd floor of our hotel. We ordered drinks over conversation to kick off the weekend. I chose a glass of 2015 Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere from Colchagua Valley, Chile. This wine was one hell of a find! It was full bodied with green pepper, blackberry, and smoked oak aromas. It offered a dark fruit jam palate. Typical to Chilean Carmeneres, there was enough acidity to nicely balance out all the rich flavors with a long spicy finish. Yum!

The next morning we hailed an Uber and made our way to breakfast. I had been told to try the Nutella Cafe on Michigan Avenue by a friend. As we entered to the sweet smells of pastries and coffee, we knew we’d made a good choice. I opted for a Nutella crepe topped with strawberries and a Nutella latte. You know, being as basic as possible for a tourist in the city. *hey girl hey*

Following the delicious breakfast, the majority of our morning and early afternoon was spent shopping on the Magnificent Mile. For those unfamiliar with Chicago, the Magnificent Mile is Chicago’s premier commercial district. A bustling area, this district is home to upscale shops and luxe fashion outlets. And around Christmastime hosts window after window of winter wear and Christmas decorations. We ventured into a few notable retail stores such as Under Armour, Nike, The Disney Store, and Dylan’s Candy Bar. Along the way, we marveled at some of the architecture such as the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, the terracotta Wrigley Building skyscraper, and the 100-story John Hancock Center.

We ended our journey on Michigan Avenue at the Water Tower Place. Mainly seeking restrooms, we made our way through Macy’s and the crowds of shoppers to the third floor of the 74-story skyscraper which house a huge shopping mall. As we discussed our next plan of action, we moseyed around the mall and looked at some of the unique gift offerings. There was a succulent stand which I loved, and a chocolate seller with some spectacular wares! The Amazing Chocolate Workshop designs chocolate to look like a variety of different tools and gadgets. From scissors to pliers, and teacups to cameras, all of their offerings are made of chocolate. They truly are amazing! I simply had to buy something from their booth, so I bought one of the corkscrews for a gift exchange I had coming up.

Done with shopping, our group decided it was time to eat. Now, Chicago is famous for its food – not only as a gourmet dining epicenter, but as the home of several local specialties. Some of these culinary staples include Chicago deep-dish pizza, the Chicago-style hot dog, and the Italian Beef. As any good tourists would do, we stuck to a classic and went to Giordano’s for some hearty lunch.

Since we visited Chicago on a weekend close to Christmas, the shops and restaurants close to the Magnificent Mile were packed with people. Giordano’s was no different. We were told there would be a half hour wait for a table of four. As we waited, we were able to order our deep dish pizza (sausage, mushroom, green pepper, and onion) so our wait wouldn’t be much longer to eat once we were seated. Deep dish pizzas typically take 45 minutes to an hour to cook completely. Once seated, we enjoyed an appetizer of Wisconsin cheese curds before our gooey pizza came out. It is no wonder Giordano’s is constantly making headlines, both in Chicago and nationally. The pizza’s crust was fluffy perfection, the fillings were plentiful, and the sauce was rich. We nodded our stuffed faces as to why Giordano’s has been acclaimed “Chicago’s Best Pizza” by NBC, CBS Chicago, New York Times, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Eater, Home & Garden Magazine, Concierge Preferred and more!

Upon our departure from the late lunch, we decided to get off the streets and out of the cold. We chose to go to an AMC theater around the corner from the restaurant. Luckily, a movie was beginning within fifteen minutes of our arrival: Ralph Wrecks the Internet. Though not a great recommendation of sight-seeing in Chicago, being able to relax in the hustle-and-bustle of the city was welcomed by us “countryfolk.” And the movie was funny and light-hearted — a great option for our little vacation.

We exited the movie to a dark sky and hundreds of Christmas lights. Calling an Uber, we set our location to our only scheduled event of the weekend: the ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo. I have been to the ZooLights plenty of times in the past, but love to go every year. This one-of-a-kind experience offers a free, family-oriented holiday celebration featuring luminous displays and lots of seasonal activities. There are ice carving shows, carousel and ferris wheel rides, and over 2.5 million Christmas lights set up throughout the zoo. You’ll find lighted animal exhibits in the midst of a beautiful light show set to beloved Christmas music. The ZooLights are a must-see in Chicago during the holiday season!

If you do visit the ZooLights, also know you do not have to take a lot of time out of schedule to do so. We walked through the entire space within a half hour’s time. Though we definitely could have spent more time meandering the zoo, the cold temperatures of a Windy City December left us wanting to be indoors. Thus we looked up a dinner option and walked the short distance out of the zoo to Clark Street to find Green Tea Sushi.

There is nothing I enjoy more for a meal than sushi. Unfortunately, Southwest Michigan does not offer a ton of fresh options. When G and I do decide to go on a sushi date, it’s always a fancier date night than typical as it means we’re having to go out of town or to a formal restaurant.

Therefore, we were looking forward to sushi in Chicago. Green Tea Sushi, by appearance, did not seem to be an ideal place to get a high-quality sushi like we wanted though. It is a small, skinny restaurant thrown into a corner of Chicago’s Lincoln Park. The restaurant only had six seats at its sushi bar and six tables for seating. When our group of four entered, we took up an entire fourth of the guests’ space. However, it was a fun experience and made for an intimate dinner. G and I ordered three rolls to split: a Philly roll, a spicy tuna roll, and the Dragon.

Wow.

Talk about an experience. The sushi was by far the best I’ve ever eaten. Fresh. Flavorful. Gorgeous to look at…

It goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover. This little gem will forever be a staple for our future Chicago travels. We chose two “safe options” with our typical Philly and spicy tuna rolls, but the Dragon was outside our comfort-zones. The roll featured shrimp tempura, crab, and cucumber wrapped with fresh water eel and avocado. It. Was. Delectable. I am still having dreams about this sushi roll and cannot wait to return and discover new rolls.

All of those attractions and food adventures took place on Saturday. On Sunday we returned home. But not without stopping by the Lighthouse Place Outlet Mall in Michigan City, Indiana on the way home. It was interesting to see some of the same products at the stores in Chicago (namely at Levi and Nike) at half the prices at the outlet mall. G and I were happy we opted not to purchase anything in the city, and instead bought a few Christmas gifts at the mall for a fraction of the cost.

All in all, we loved our short trip to the Windy City with my in-laws but are happy to be home in our little corner of the world. The city is fun to visit. But for this girl, I love my small-town life.

Until next time,

 

 

 

Do you know of any attractions and/or restaurants that are go-to’s in Chicago during the holiday season? I would love to hear from you and add to my list for future trips. Please leave a recommendation below in the comment section. 🙂