Tag Archives: gluten-free

almond fig cake

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On a Thursday a few weeks ago, I came home and took a few pictures of the changing leaves.  Then, I came inside and made a cake.

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Not just a cake; this cake.  Figs are either past their prime or almost past their prime, depending on where you are, but I was able to scoop some up for cheap at my food co-op that day.  Generally I prefer green figs for eating- they’re firmer and not as sticky sweet as their purple or black counterparts.   But a girl in Wisconsin can’t say no to cheap figs, regardless of color, and I was determined to make a mostly-almond gluten-free cake, like a cross between the one I’d seen on Joy The Baker and like the many almond meal cakes on Rachel Eats. {Pssst, this one’s my favorite.}

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This was not my first attempt at an almond fig cake, and the first one was maddening.  Too much liquid up front due to bad math resulted in me whisking in more and more tapioca starch and almond meal in vain.  The cake was good, but it took over an hour to bake and the figs were too heavy for the batter- they sank like stones.  Soggy figs cooked inside a cake are not very good, and I ended up picking around the fruit and just eating the cake.

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Then, that Thursday, I found this pin.  What!  The cake I was looking for… almost.  Of course I couldn’t resist tweaking.  With the lengthening sun filling my kitchen with crisp fall sunlight, I poured a Campari Shandy, pulled out my discount figs, and got to work.  The result is gluten-free, Paleo but for the 1/4 cup sugar, and absolutely perfect if you prefer your cakes dense and flavorful and without a wisp of frosting in sight.

Almond Fig Cake
One 9-inch cake
By David Tanis

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
140 grams almond meal
35 grams potato, arrowroot, or tapioca starch (I used potato)
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 almond extract
8 to 14 ripe figs, depending on the size of your figs and how many you want (I used 9, but the original calls for 12-14)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch tart, pie, or cake pan. In a small saucepan, brown the butter over medium heat.   Once the butter is browned, remove from heat and whisk in the honey.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond meal, starch, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.  In the saucepan, whisk the eggs and almond extract into the butter and honey mixture; then pour into the dry mix and stir until just combined.  Pour batter into the buttered pan.

Carefully wash and dry figs.  Remove the stems and cut the figs in half.  Arrange fig halves cut-side-up over the top of the batter.  Sprinkle the top of the figs and batter with the reserved 2 tablespoons sugar, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out dry.  Cool before serving, if you can resist.

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Filed under Breads, Clean Eating, Desserts, Fall, Gluten-Free, Summer

blubarb + buckwheat crisp (gluten-free)

It’s not too late, is it? I think we’ve got time for one more rhubarb recipe.

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This came about from a recipe that haunts me.  I first saw a link to the world’s easiest blueberry crisp last spring on Dinner: A Love Story (it’s the first link that sadly seems to be lost), and I hesitated before I put it on my weekend list.  I wanted something sweet but quick and easy, disguised as healthy (read: containing fruit), and I already had all the ingredients. But something so simple couldn’t honestly be that good, could it?  Frozen blueberries in a pie dish, a handful of panty staples haphazardly thrown together in a pot- butter, sugar, flour, oats- and popped into the oven.  But then.  45 minutes later your house smells like heaven and before you know it, you and your husband eat the whole dessert, along with a half-pint of softly-whipped cream melting into the divets of the crumble, running into the blueberry sauce, hovering over the stovetop with forks.  Seriously.  The whole thing, straight from the pan, minus a small dish that was set aside for breakfast the next morning.  Okay, not exactly set aside for breakfast… it was only for breakfast because I ate it before my husband got out of bed, because I wasn’t gong to share.  I wish I wasn’t serious.  (Oh, who am I kidding, I’m not even that ashamed, because IT IS THAT GOOD.) (Plus, it was a year ago.  I’ve matured since then.  I wouldn’t do that now, right?)

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So, the problem? Nothing, except a little gluten.  *sigh* But it’s okay, because I’m a tinkerer.  And I’m lazy.  My laziness manifests in the form of Trader Joe’s gluten-free all-purpose mix, which I love for recipes like this.  I understand that this mix is not perfect. A mix of starches and heavier flours (and yes, possibly gums) would be ideal, I’m sure.  However, that would require multiple bags and a food scale, and lots more tinkering.  In this case, laziness beat tinkering.  But in all fairness, for a crisp or a crumble, I don’t need to mimic wheat’s elasticity or tenderness – I just need bulk.  TJ’s gluten-free mix is perfect for this: not grainy, no weird aftertaste, and no gums added!

Of course I added rhubarb, because duh- it’s spring, rhubarb is everywhere, and blueberry + rhubarb is my favorite fruit combination.

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And while I was tinkering (lazy tinkering? “linkering“?), I also threw in some buckwheat.  It’s not really wheat, or even a grain- it’s a seed, and it’s in the rhubarb family- it’s got a bit of a rustic, dusty flavor.  It’s gritty and it adds some heft and chew.  And, of course, there are gluten-free oats, because a crisp is merely a crumble (and therefore inferior) without the addition of oats, in my completely unscientific and unsupported opinion.  If you’re not sure of the gluten-free-ness of oats, I’ve heard that quinoa flakes are a great substitute.  Or, if you’ve got another opinion on the necessities of crisps- chopped nuts, perhaps?- go ahead and tinker with it.

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When the berries and rhubarb cook down, they release lots of water.  Keeping an edge bare without topping around the pan will help some of that liquid evaporate, ensuring that you get a nice thick fruit filling.

Blubarb & Buckwheat Crisp
Inspired by Ruth Reichl’s Blueberry Crisp
Serves 2-8, depending on how greedy you are

In the spirit of the original, I tried to keep things fairly simple, but I did add in a little fancy by browning the butter.  If you’re in a hurry to get this in the oven, feel free to skip it.  But if you’ve got the extra 7 to 10 minutes, do it.  Browned butter and brown sugar… what could possibly go wrong?

Wild blueberries are really the key here. They’re small and sweet and juicy.  The big ones have got nothing on wild blueberries.  If you don’t like rhubarb, shame on you  just use 4 cups of frozen berries, and skip the 1/3 cup of sugar and the tapioca starch.

2 cups frozen wild blueberries
2 cups diced rhubarb
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca starch (or corn starch)
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 4 oz.) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
pinch of cardamom and salt
2/3 cup gluten-free all purpose flour blend
1/3 cup buckwheat
1/3 cup gluten-free oats (or quinoa flakes)

Over medium heat in a medium-sized pan, melt the butter.  Once it starts sputtering, lower the heat to medium-low or even low, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently and keeping a close eye.

Meanwhile, butter a pie dish or cake pan.  Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Put the fruit in the pie dish, sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar and the tapioca starch, and stir to coat evenly.

Once the butter has separated and the solids on the bottom have turned golden brown, turn off the burner and remove the pan from heat.  Stir in the brown sugar vigorously.  Add the cinnamon, cardamom, salt, AP flour, and buckwheat, and stir well.  Finally, stir in the oats.  Scoop the topping over the top of the fruit in the dish, and use the back of the spoon or your hands to even and flatten it out, trying to keep the topping at least 1/2 inch away from the edge of the pan.

Bake at 375 for 45 to 60 minutes, watching closely to ensure you get a thick filling and crispy crisp without over-browning the top.  Mine took close to 60 minutes.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Best warm with homemade icecream or softly whipped cream, although I’m particularly fond of leftover crisp straight out of the fridge for breakfast.

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten-Free, Summer

Fresh red cabbage slaw

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There are a couple of big things that have happened in the last few weeks.  The first: I think spring might actually have arrived.  Secondly: I apparently now like cilantro.

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The first one is a big deal because IT’S MAY.  The last weekend of April was gorgeous.  Mid-60s and low 70s, sunshine, green grass, even budding tulips and the tips of iris and hostas poking through the mulch.  And then, on May 2nd and 3rd (!) the Midwest got hit with a nasty system that included snow (!) and sleet (!) and freezing rain (!).  Not just a dusting, but 18 inches fell in northwest Wisconsin.  18 freaking inches of white, dream-shattering, soul-crushing snow.

But between the 60s and 70s yesterday and today, the snow has melted, the grass is re-perking, and my rhubarb has unfurled an impossible number of frilly leaves.  Spring is here to stay, I think.

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The second part- the part about me finally coming around to cilantro- is a big deal because, c’mon, it’s cilantro.  It’s fresh.  It’s green.  I can grow it.  It’s a big deal in Mexican and Indian cuisines.  And I’m pleased to say that I actually have bought and used it three whole times in the last two weeks and it’s been awesome.

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I made this slaw to serve with carnitas, and it’s crunch and tanginess was exactly what the tender pork needed.  And after all, the recipe is a bit like the weather we’ve had lately: schizophrenic.  It combines winter staples (cabbage and carrot) with a few fresh things that pack a little more punch in the flavor department (jalapeno, cilantro, and lime).  Even if I have to keep buying cilantro for a another month while the weather warms up (*grumble grumble*), I’m adding cilantro to my seed-purchase list, and I’ll definitely be making this slaw frequently for the summer barbeque circuit.  It took me less than 20 minutes to prep, and it needs only an hour in the fridge to really come together.

Fresh red cabbage slaw
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Pezzo

juice of 2 limes
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 large clove garlic smashed (approximately 1/2 tsp)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Greek yogurt might work?)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1 diced jalapeno (I removed the seeds; keep them for more spice)
1 medium carrot, grated
1/2 large or 1 small head of cabbage

In a jar or bowl, whisk together the limes, honey, garlic, mayo, and cilantro. Salt and pepper, and set aside.  Prep the veggies, and thinly slice the cabbage- you want approximately 4 cups of cabbage. Toss all the veggies together in a bowl; dress with the dressing.  Set aside in the fridge for the flavors to develop, at least 1 hour.  Taste before serving and add salt and pepper to taste.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Condiments, etc., Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Chicken tikka masala with gluten-free naan

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I married a man who doesn’t like flavorful food.

That’s maybe a little harsh.  He doesn’t like what he calls “ethnic food.”  What he’s referring to is any food that has specific/bold flavors.  No Chinese, no Thai, no Indian.  He likes American fare: burgers, meatloaf, potatoes and chips and cheese.  Basic tacos or enchiladas on flour tortillas and some stereotypical German foods make up the cultural boundaries of his palate.  He doesn’t even like wine.

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The woman behind the checkout counter at the grocery store last night couldn’t imagine.  She had identified the spice blend in the little self-serve baggie on sight- “Is this garam masala? I can tell just by looking at it, I cook with it that much!”  I told her it was for this chicken tikka masala that I was making this weekend, as my husband didn’t like it but he was gone.  “You married somebody who doesn’t like chicken tikka masala?!” she asked incredulously.  I sighed.

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I spent the last week in D.C., and without making a conscious effort, I ate things he wouldn’t have almost every night.  Lamb boti kabob and kachumbar, clam pizza, authentic Mexican, spicy kim chi, oysters on the half shell.  I drank way too much wine.

And as I waited in the airport on Friday afternoon, I had a serious hankering for butter chicken.  My blog feed included this chicken tikka masala recipe though, and despite it’s long list of ingredients and long marinating time, I decided that fate wanted me to tackle it on Saturday.  I didn’t go with the typical rice as a side; instead I had a small but flavorful mound of fresh fava beans, and I also experimented (barely) with gluten-free naan— and much to my surprise, it worked just fine.  My old stand-by naan recipe is AP flour + plain yogurt + a bit of salt and baking powder in a hot cast iron skillet, so I subbed in Trader Joe’s gluten-free all purpose flour.  While it probably won’t win any awards for World’s Best Naan, it was hot and chewy and good for soaking up the rich sauce.

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Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 4
Adapted from Bon Appetit via The Bitten Word

This isn’t a particularly spicy chicken tikka masala.  If you like more heat, add additional pepper flakes, or use dried chiles de arbol instead. I also realize the addition of raisins is out of the ordinary, but I love the extra sweetness and chew.

6 garlic cloves, finely grated
3-4 inches of finely grated peeled ginger, about 4 teaspoons
4 teaspoons ground turmeric
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons ghee
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 cardamom pods, opened up and seeds crushed, or approximately 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup raisins

Combine garlic, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk together yogurt, salt, and half of spice mixture in a medium container with a lid; add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and chill 4-6 hours. Cover and chill remaining spice mixture.

An hour before you plan to eat, melt the ghee in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, tomato paste, cardamom, and chiles and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture and cook, stirring often, until bottom of pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot.  Then add cream, water, raisins, and chopped cilantro. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, preheat your grill or broiler. If using the broiler, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack inside sheet.   Arrange chicken on rack in a single layer. Broil until chicken starts to blacken in spots (it may not be cooked through), about 10 minutes.  Flip and broil on the other side for 5 minutes.  If using a grill, preheat to medium high, between 400 and 500 degrees and grill for 6-8 minutes on each side, until it begins to blacken.  Again, it may not be cooked through, but that’s okay.  (I used the broiler method.)

Allow the chicken to cool for a few minutes.  Cut chicken into bite-size pieces, add to sauce, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Serve with rice and sprinkle with cilantro (both are optional).

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Gluten-free Naan
Adapted from Food.com

2 cups Trader Joe’s Gluten-free all purpose flour blend, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
Coconut oil for frying

Whisk together flour blend, salt, and baking powder.  Stir in yogurt, and then use hands to kneed together a bit.  The dough will be sticky and even paste-like, but don’t fret yet.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high.  Preheat the pan for at least 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, split the dough into 8 equal pieces, and then roll or press each piece out between saran wrap.  Fry each piece for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Add additional coconut oil to the fan as frying.  Set each piece on a towel or paper towel to rest, and serve warm.

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Filed under Breads, Chicken, Gluten-Free, Main dishes

Souper Bowl: Kale and white bean soup

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I haven’t exactly been present on this blog.  This last year has brought a lot of changes to my life: work has been busier than ever, I’m eating more healthfully, and having taken up running means that I get less time at night to prepare (let alone photograph) supper.  But when I saw Branny’s Souper Bowl post invitation, I knew I had to participate.

We have two cats.  Ever since I found out that I’m not actually allergic to cats, I’ve known that I wanted a couple and that I wanted to adopt them (rather than buy a specific breed).  Both of ours came from the local shelter, and both have very distinct personalities.  Sierra, the first cat we got and the older of the two,  is a cuddle-bug… for about two minutes. Then she’s out of your arms and dashing away to go off on her own… but if you wait long enough, she’ll be back, for two more minutes of intense cuddling, purring, and marking your chin with her nose. In any case, this post is dedicated to Sierra, our quiet furball.

Up close, wanting some love. (Soup in the background!)

This soup has been one of my winter staples until recently.  Bacon, homemade croutons, and soft slumped kale- what’s not to like?!  It’s filling, salty and almost buttery.  The bacon adds some chew, while the veggies and beans bring the heft. I’ve made it with both curly and lacinato kale, and both work just fine.  And if you’re a fan of chorizo or sausage, you may want to try that instead of the bacon.  But one thing is for sure- do not skip the homemade croutons.

Kale and White Bean Soup
Approximately 4 servings
Adapted from Everything is Better with Bacon and a recipe in the Williams Sonoma Bride and Groom Cookbook

1 pound or 2 cans white beans (if you can’t get fresh dried beans, go with canned)
4 slices bacon, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 bay leaf
1/4 to 1/2 t. sage and thyme each (to your taste)
3 -4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced (save the leafy greens if you’ve still got them)
5-6 cups chicken stock
1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the beans: if using dried beans, soak overnight and boil for 30 minutes, or prepare according to package directions. They don’t need to be totally soft as they will simmer in the soup.  If using canned beans, drain and rinse; set aside.

In a large dutch oven or kettle, fry the bacon in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes over medium or medium-high heat.  Stir in the onion and sautee for 4-5 minutes more.  Add garlic, sage, thyme, and bay leaf, and stir while cooking for a minute.  Add carrots and celery, stir, and saute briefly; add chicken stock and beans, and bring soup to a simmer.

Simmer the soup for at least 25 minutes, but up to an hour to combine flavors and soften vegetables. Stir in the chopped kale (and the celery greens if you’ve got them), return up to a simmer, and allow the kale to wilt in the soup, about 15 minutes. (If you want a bite to your kale, watch closely and only cook for about 5 minutes. I like mine silky soft and slumpy on my spoon.)  Season with salt and pepper, and serve with homemade salted croutons.

For croutons:
Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small sautee pan on medium high.  While melting, add 1/2-3/4 cup bread cubes.  Sprinkle with a few pinches of good salt.  Toss bread around and allow to brown for 2-3 minutes between stirs, for a total of 8-10 minutes. Serve warm or at room-temperature with soup.

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January 20, 2012 · 3:28 pm

asparagus risotto

 

This is not just a risotto with some asparagus pieces thrown in at the end- oh no.   This is a risotto swimming in miniscule flecks of asparagus, fully immersed in green and spring.  It’s my favorite kind of asparagus recipe- the kind that embraces the use of the entire stalk.  Instead of throwing out the tougher ends of the stalk [or adding them to the finished risotto to be picked around and pushed off to the side], we cook them a bit and then puree, producing a bright-green bubbly liquid.

Then this asparagus puree is stirred into the risotto, alternated with the traditional chicken stock, stirring and coaxing each little grain of rice to absorb as much of the asparagus- its flavor, nutrition, color- as it can.   A very asparagusy risotto indeed! 


Asparagus risotto
adapted from Mario Batali

Serves 4-6 as a side; 2 or 3 as a meal

1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus stalks
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, diced
1 T. butter
2 t. olive oil
1 cup short-grain rice
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan for serving

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, wash asparagus; trim off tough ends and discard.  Chop into 1-inch pieces, setting aside the tips and the pieces from the top two-thirds of the stalks.  Once the water is boiling, toss in the pieces of asparagus from the bottom third of the stalks.  Boil for 4-5 minutes; drain all but 1/4 cup water.  Puree aspargus and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor or blender; set aside.

Place chicken stock in a small saucepan and keep over medium heat.  In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat.  Sautee diced shallot for 1 minute, then add raw, unrinsed rice.  Sautee for 4-5 minutes, then increase heat to medium-high.  Add wine and stir while reducing. Once wine is mostly absorbed, add the hot stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring almost constantly.  Wait to add more stock until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid.

Once 2 cups of the stock have been added and absorbed, alternate adding 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and 1/2 cup of chicken stock, again allowing the rice to absorb almost all of the liquid before adding more.  At this point, check the rice frequently, wanting it to be cooked but with a bit of an al dente bite.  Once the risotto is creamy and the rice is fully cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian

spinach & bacon twice-baked potatoes

Every now and then, I make a conscious effort to feed my husband something more than starches, cheese, or meat.  In this case, it started with spinach.  An innocent thought of spinach…

… that was quickly overrun with starches, cheese, AND meat.

I try my best, people.  At least N loved them– leafy greens and all.

These are the best twice-baked potatoes I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot. Too often twice-baked taters are too cheesy and/or have a runny or thin texture. These guys are creamy AND chunky, thanks to the sour cream and only stirring the filling once; overstirring will break down the potato more and more, until you’re left with mashed potatoes instead of slightly-mashed potatoes. Oh yes, there’s a difference. :)

Small florets of cooked broccoli or cauliflower could easily be substituted for the spinach. The bacon could be skipped altogether, but then you might want to add a little salt to the filling.  Also feel free to add more cheese to the top if that’s your thing.

Spinach and bacon twice-baked potatoes
adapted from Food.com

2 large or 3 medium-sized baking potatoes
2 slices bacon
1/3 c sour cream
1 small or 1/2 large shallot
6 oz. fresh or frozen spinach (approximate)
3 oz. mozzarella or cheddar cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400.  Scrub potatoes, then make large slits across the skins, as if marking where to cut them in half lengthwise without actually cutting the potato in half.  Wrap in foil and bake until done through, about 1 hour. (This can be done before and potatoes can be stored in the foil in the fridge for a day or two.)

Heat a small skillet on medium-high and fry the bacon to your liking.  Meanwhile, cut the potatoes in half where you had previously marked them.  Scoop out the insides of the baked potatoes into a medium bowl; add the sour cream, but don’t stir yet.  Once the bacon is fried, drain on paper towels and chop into bite-sized or smaller pieces, and put into the bowl with the potatoes.  Finely dice the shallot and fry it in the bacon grease for just a minute or two, and then dump into the potato bowl.  If using fresh spinach, wilt it in the same pan;  if using frozen, just break it up a bit. Add the spinach to the bowl. Coarsely grate the cheese and add 1/2 of it to the bowl. Finally, take a large fork and mix all of this wonderful stuff together, smashing the largest potato pieces but not completely mashing them to smittereens.

Heat the oven to 350.  Lay the potato skin shells on a baking sheet and fill them generously with the potato mixture.  Grind a bit of black pepper over the top and then top with the remaining shredded cheese.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese on top is bubbly and the potatoes are heated through.

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Filed under Gluten-Free, Side dishes, Vegetables, Winter