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xo Gluten Free Lover xo bio picture

my two loves . . .

Hello! My name is Kathryn - a Georgia girl and bona fide bread lover. Well, that is until I met and fell in love with Justin. Let's be real, I still LOVE bread and all things gluten-ful, but have given up that life for a gluten-free one - because now, I am a gluten-free lover.

I have always loved food. Cooking it, eating it, discussing it. I hope you'll try some of the recipes I've posted and you'll see - gluten-free cooking is accessible and delicious!

Deliziosa Cucina Italiana

Rotelle with Vodka Cream Sauce

Rotelle with Vodka Cream Sauce

Let’s talk Italian, y’all! I have a new recipe, a Rachael Ray inspired classic, and a work in progress that I want to discuss. A little back story: Before I met J, I was a bona fide gluten lover. Any kind of bread or pasta – if it had a crunchy breaded crust, I was sure to put it on my dinner plate. I’m Southern, after all. “Deep fried” is practically another way of saying “I’m from Georgia”. In any case, I quickly learned that if J and I were going to make it as a couple, I would have to relinquish my love affair with gluten-ful food. It was hard at first, I’m not going to lie. Any time we went out for a meal, I stocked up on the gluten – flour tortillas, anyone? (Sometimes I still allow myself that luxury but honestly, my body is losing it’s tolerance for gluten.) It took us moving in together for me to fully commit to a gluten-free life. And while I still have a weakness for freshly baked biscuits and fried okra (I may never get over those two) I have been fully converted to gluten-free pasta. Quinoa Ancient Harvest pasta, that is…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Quinoa Ancient Harvest is BY FAR the best gluten free pasta in my experience. If you haven’t tried it yet you’re missing out.

[My Inspiration]: You-Won’t-Be-Single-For-Long Vodka Cream Pasta (from Classic Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals – honestly, I can’t stand the titles of her recipes, especially this one, but J and I came up with our own name since we’re already together: You’ll-Never-Be-Single-Again Pasta with Vodka Cream Sauce)
serves 4

12 oz short cut pasta, such as QAH brand rotelle
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 c vodka
1 c chicken broth
21 oz crushed tomatoes (3/4 of a 28 oz can)
1/2 c heavy cream
10-12 leaves fresh basil chiffonade
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-2 T of salt, a splash of olive oil and the pasta, stir. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, butter, and when the butter melts, add the shallots. Saute the shallots for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Carefully add the vodka and cook to reduce by half, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes. Bring the sauce to a steady simmer then reduce the heat to low. Season with salt and pepper and cook the sauce until slightly thickened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cream. When the sauce returns to a simmer turn off the heat and toss the pasta into the sauce. Toss until the pasta is completely coated with the sauce, add the basil (reserving some for garnish) and stir to distribute. Serve immediately garnished with more basil.

It amazes me how flavorful the sauce turns out. You can taste the vodka but it isn’t overwhelming nor does it get you drunk. Combined with the tomatoes it’s just such a special flavor. You don’t need any cheese or any meat because the sauce packs a real punch on it’s own. J has asked on several occasions if we could have it with chicken but I really think that chicken wouldn’t add anything to the sauce and in fact, it might take away from the flavor somehow. It is a bold sauce that easily stands on it’s own and would be great for company. You could serve it with a nice salad although I’d probably use a simple dressing so as not to compete with the spectacular vodka cream sauce.

Ham Macaroni & Cheese

Ham Macaroni & Cheese

So, this version of Mac & Cheese is very similar to the last one but with some changes. I plan to make a few more until I reach my desired final product. I made this for company and it was well received, but to be honest, I was not satisfied. J said he liked it better than the first one, so I guess that’s progress but it still isn’t perfect. Luckily, mac & cheese is one of those dishes you can make a million different ways and it’s a classic, so let the experimentation continue! (PS, thanks to Tristin for coming over and enjoying the test results!)

Ham Macaroni & Cheese
serves 6

1 lb QAH elbow macaroni
1 qt milk (I use 2%)
6 T unsalted butter
2 1/2 T cornstarch
8 oz Gruyere cheese (grated)
16 oz extra-sharp, white Cheddar, reserving about 3/4 c (grated)
7 oz thickly sliced smoked ham*, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 3 qt baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-2 T of salt, a splash of olive oil and the pasta. Cook according to package directions. Drain well. Meanwhile, heat the butter and the milk (reserving 1/4 c) in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter is completely melted, stirring occasionally. Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining 1/4 c milk to make a slurry. While whisking, add the slurry to the hot milk and butter. Cook for 3 minutes or so until slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and add both cheeses to the thickened milk mixture and stir well to melt the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Remember: the pasta is very well salted and the cheese and ham are both pretty salty, so don’t over salt.) Add the cooked macaroni and the diced ham and thoroughly combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish, top with the remaining cheddar cheese and put into the oven. Cook for 30-35 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the top is slightly browned.

Ham Macaroni & Cheese

Ham Macaroni & Cheese

As you can probably tell from the picture, I didn’t add the extra cheese on the top – oops. I also forgot to preheat the oven before getting started, so the ready-to-go mixture sat in the pan waiting for at least 20 minutes and I think the cheese and cornstarch started to separate which resulted in a grainy texture in the finished product. I liked the ham a lot. It adds great flavor and another layer of texture, which is always nice – keeps things from getting boring. I can only say that I messed up so many steps because I was distracted by wanting to be a good hostess to our dinner guest. I should have assembled the whole thing the day before so I could have been a better hostess but you live and learn. I still would have liked more flavor and here’s what I plan to do to accomplish that: saute 2 shallots in olive oil and add with the ham. (In fact, I might add the ham right in with the shallots at the very end of cooking to brown the edges a bit, couldn’t hurt, right?) Also, I want to try adding some red pepper flakes for a bit of heat. J has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t LOVE the Gruyere, so I think I’ll try using only cheddar and a mild cheddar at that. The sharp tangy-ness isn’t really working for our taste buds – we want creamy cheesiness more than anything. (*To make this mac & cheese relevant to Italian cuisine: use diced pancetta in place of the smoked ham. I would recommend sauteing the pancetta before adding it. Personally, I wouldn’t use pancetta but only because I’m not a huge fan of the way it tastes. It’s like bacon only not as good because it isn’t smoked. On that note: cooked, thick-cut bacon would be awesome in this dish.)

Italian Sausage all'Arrabbiata

Italian Sausage all'Arrabbiata

Italian Sausage all’Arrabbiata (Italian Sausage with “Angry” Sauce)
serves 2-3

2 T olive oil
1 1/4 lb hot Italian chicken sausage*
1, 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
3/4 – 1 c water (using it to rinse the tomato can)
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
6-8 fresh leaves basil chiffonade
1 yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Freshly shaved Parmesan (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until completely cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside. (Add a bit more oil, if needed, but there should be enough in the pan.) Add the onion and saute for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and water. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, stir and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat slightly and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the sausages to the sauce making sure to completely cover the sausages. Return the sauce to a simmer and cook uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency. Just before serving toss with the basil chiffonade. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Italian Sausage all'Arrabbiata

Italian Sausage all'Arrabbiata

I made this amazing, simple dish this past Tuesday evening while J was at band practice. I bought the sausage from the farmers market and since we didn’t have any peppers to make Sausage, Peppers and Onions, I decided to go with tomato sauce. I made this up as I went along and the whole time, I honestly thought, “This will be good enough for dinner, but I probably won’t even write a post about it…” Boy was I wrong. The sauce is divine! It is the PERFECT amount of spicy (if you like things spicy, that is) and the basil adds a nice, bright freshness. J ate some as soon as he got home and said the only thing missing was a hoagie roll. (I keep reminding him that I will get to bread at some point. I’ve never even made gluten-ful bread, let alone gluten-free! It’s going to take some time, people…) It is crucial that you cook the sausage in the pan before making the sauce because all the flavor gets into the onions and into the sauce as it simmers away. Just FYI, your stove will get messy – there’s no way around it. Sauteing sausages and simmering tomato sauce just do that to a stove. It is 100% worth it, though – and coming from a clean freak, that should say a lot.

One last thing: BUON APPETITO!!!

*Always check the ingredients when buying sausage. You’d be surprised how many are not gluten-free – although, there are quite a few brands that put “Gluten-Free” right on the label!

29 March 2010 - 1:25 pm SarahKate - Hi Kathryn! It's so great to hear from you! Your blog is realy lovely... you must have a seriously special guy to give up gluten! I couldn't go a day without bread, but lots of your recipes look good enough to tempt even a bread-lover like me! Hope to hear from you again soon. SarahKate

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