Clean Out the Crisper Muffins! (Carrot Zucchini Muffins)

Oh my! These carrot zucchini muffins are quite delicious! Though I more fondly like to call them “clean out the crisper” muffins 🙂

I realized the other day that I still had a very large zucchini from my little garden…and it was just begging me to use it before it went bad! I was looking up zucchini bread recipes when I realized…I don’t have a loaf pan! When I switched to looking for a muffin recipe, I was IMMEDIATELY surprised by and drawn to a recipe that used both zucchini AND carrot!! I had accidentally bought carrots when I already had a bag in the crisper.  PERFECT! Clean out the crisper muffins.  And I took it a step further and decided to use up some left over chocolate chips…so I guess now they are clean out the crisper and the cupboard muffins.  And they’re delicious.  I saw my husband eating one and asked if he liked them.  He smiled and informed me that it was his fifth one 🙂  Husbands are fun.

This is what I did, and it made me 24 muffins. Most of which are gone…and it was just last night 😉

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs (if your eggs are smaller, use 3)
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 Cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 Cup shredded carrot
  • 1-2 Cups chocolate chips
  • Cinnamon Sugar for topping.
  • Chopped nuts (optional). I chopped some walnuts up and sprinkled them on top of half of them…I usually hate nuts in baked goods but the flavor complemented it SO good I highly recommend you do so as well!)

How it’s done:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour (or use liners) 24 muffin cups.
  3. Beat oil, eggs, sugars, and vanilla.
  4. In a separate, large bowl stir together flour, soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  You wanna use a spoon, or add it gradual with the mixer or you will have a flour explosion in your face.
  6. Fold in the shredded zucchini and carrots, and chocolate chips 🙂
  7. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and/or nuts 🙂  Please don’t skip the cinnamon sugar…it was my favorite part.  It made a nice crisp, sweet layer on top!
  8. Check at 22 minutes.  The middle is sneaky and stays soft for a while, so check in two-minute increments after that 🙂  You can do the ol’ toothpick in the center of the fattest one trick 🙂  If they are a little soft in the middle after you take them out, don’t panic! They will set up a small amount as they cool 🙂 If you leave them in the pan longer, they will cook longer even out of the oven.

Yummmm!

Can you see the little carrot shreds?  So moist and mildly sweet!

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Gluten Free Kielbasa and Cheese Pasta!

Gluten Free Kielbasa Pagodas

Comfort food!! My favorite! This is a quick and easy dish that I often make at work, it gives me my protein and the satisfaction of a cheesy pasta…without the gluten that, unfortunately, I have discovered my insides are not fond of.  Sad day…  Oh wait…over it!! Cause you know what?! I declare that gluten-free does not have to mean delicious-free!

If you or someone you know is attempting a gluten-free lifestyle…and if you love macaroni and cheese and all that yummy comforting childhood food but want to avoid the wheat and that mysterious orange death powder…give this one a try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised 🙂

What you’ll need:

  • 6-8 ounces of your favorite uncooked gluten-free pasta.  (Pictured is corn/quinoa blend pagodas. I’ve also made this recipe with gf macaroni…that was my favorite.  Be creative, you could certainly use spaghetti or even spaghetti squash!)
  • 1 lb fully cooked turkey kielbasa (or smoked sausage of choice), cut into slices.  Double check your package to make sure its gluten-free! According to Google it looks like Hillshire Farms is a safe brand.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (I am a “more is better” girl when it comes to garlic.  Can I get a witness?!)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 1 C fresh or frozen peas, or half a bag of frozen broccoli
  • 1 C (4 oz, or more to taste) cheddar or jack cheese, shredded
  • A few good cracks of fresh black pepper

The process:

  1. Read the package on your pasta, and get it cooking.  I would follow the instructions closely on this one…gluten free pasta can be finicky and you don’t want to end up with mush 🙂 Note: if your pasta gets done before your sauce…make sure to toss it with some olive oil so you don’t end up with a pasta brick 🙂
  2. While you wait for your pasta, melt your butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Toss in your kielbasa slices and garlic cloves. Cook until your kielbasa is starting to brown, but be careful! You don’t want your garlic to burn!!
  3. Combine cornstarch and milk until smooth.  Gradually add it to the skillet and bring to a boil.  Add peas or broccoli.  Cook and stir until it reaches desired thickness…probably 2-5 minutes.
  4. Add in pasta and cheese, and stir until it is all combined, melty, cheesy, thickened goodness!!
  5. Eat.  Be pain-free.  Enjoy!

Verdict: This meal makes me happy because I love pasta, cheese, AND kielbasa.  I thought I was giving up pasta when I decided I should give up gluten.  NOT SO!  I have made this twice with minor differences between the two…and definitely recommend the use of gluten-free macaroni, and cheddar cheese! If I do pagodas again I will cook less so the sauce covers the noodles better…which is why I changed it to “6-8 oz uncooked pasta” from the original “8 oz pasta.” Feel free to try adding your favorite herbs and spices and let me know how it goes!!

Here’s some more pictures of the process!! I put the recipe first cause I always scroll through to the recipe at the end when I am using recipes from other blogs, and I get annoyed having to pass all the pictures! But for you visual learners, here ya go!!

Cook your gluten-free pasta according to package instructions, drain when ready and toss with olive oil if sauce is not done.

While waiting for your pasta to finish cooking, brown your kielbasa and garlic in the butter!

Combine your milk and cornstarch and gradually stir into the pan.  Bring to a boil and add veggie of choice.  Stir, letting thicken for 2-5 minutes.

Add in pasta and cheese and stir until well combined and melty!!! Serve hot and enjoy peace of taste buds and peace of digestive system!

 

 

 

Creamy Avocado Enchiladas!

 

Oh my gosh.  Seriously.  Eat these.  I’m not kidding.  Do it.  I thought that I didn’t like enchiladas.  Until I ate these ones.  Life.  Changed.  FOREVER!

The picture doesn’t do it justice.  Bare with me as I learn to take photos…and wait for a camera I can use other than my little 3GS’s camera. 😉 I am SO thankful for my iPhone…but as far as iPhones go, its slightly ancient and the pictures I take are proof 😉

Anywho…on to important business.  FOOD!  Thank You Lord for Pinterest…or I never would have discovered my avocado enchilada love! And thank you to closetcooking.com for being the wonderful soul who first pinned it.  I am forever in your debt.

Here’s what you need to make these beauties:

Note: For the sauce you need a food processor or blender to get it really creamy! However, I recently broke mine, so I mixed the sauce ingredients in my KitchenAid mixer to get it as creamy as possible.  My husband suggested that.  He’s a genius.   Obviously, if you do it that way its going to have some more chunks in it.  It still worked smashingly…you just might want to make sure you chop your jalapeno and such a little smaller 🙂

  • 1 Cup chicken broth
  • 1 Cup salsa verde
  • 1/2 Cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 4 avocados, divided
  • 1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped (or if you don’t have a food processor…chopped up as tiny as you can get it! Feel free to remove the seeds and ribs if you don’t want to bite in to one, or if you want it less spicy.)
  • 1 Clove garlic (refer to my advice on the jalapeno!)
  • 1 tsp Cumin (It says toasted and ground. I just used the powder and it tasted great.  If you wanna toast and grind your own…go for it and let me know how you did it and how it tastes!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (I hate it when recipes say that.  I used 1/2 tsp of salt if that helps.)
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped (or you can do what I do…go to the produce department and buy cilantro paste and give this sauce a few good squeezes of it.  The stuff tastes exactly the same as the fresh herb, and yet will stay good for weeks in the fridge in contrast to the few hours you seem to get out of a bunch of cilantro leaves)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 4 Cups shredded cooked chicken (I baked 4 chicken breasts with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and herbs for about 40 minutes.  It was just the right amount.)
  • 2 green onions, chopped (Don’t throw away those white ends! Stick them in a cup of water in your window and they’ll grow you a constant supply!)
  • 2 Cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 tortillas, 7 inch (I couldn’t find any that said “7 inch” on them…so I just used “small taco” size)

How to do it.  It’s really pretty easy!!

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chop up your jalapeno, garlic cloves, and cilantro and peel your avocados.  Believe it or not, I’ve known people who try to peel their avocados with a knife or vegetable peeler.  Don’t do that.  Cut it in half long ways, take a big spoon and scoop between the skin and the flesh, starting at the big end.  It will pop right out.  You probably already knew that, but I just had to make sure.  If you don’t have a food processor or blender and are preparing your sauce in a mixer or by hand, smash two of your avocados in a bowl, like you’re making guacamole.  The more you smash, the creamier it should get 🙂  But read closely, ONLY SMASH TWO OF THEM!! You need to dice the other 2 🙂 Once your veggies are prepared, you are ready to begin combining things with ease!  If you are slightly OCD like me, you can also pre measure everything at this step too and have it all waiting in cute little bowls 🙂
  3. In your blender, food processor, or mixer, add your chicken broth, salsa verde, sour cream, the first 2 avocados (the smashed ones if you’re using a mixer), jalapeno, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, and lime juice.  Blend, process, or mix it until it’s as creamy as possible (or whatever consistency you decide you want it.  🙂 ) Now…admire its beautiful color.  Green is my favorite 🙂
  4. Now take half of that sauce and mix it with your shredded chicken, 2 diced avocados, green onions, and half of your cheese.  I had a total of about 4 Cups of sauce…so about 2 Cups should be going into this mixture 🙂
  5. Coat the bottom of a 9X13 pan with some of the remaining sauce, I used about a Cup.
  6. Wrap the chicken mixture in the tortillas burrito style, and place them seam side down in the saucy dish 😉
  7. Pour any remaining sauce on top of the enchiladas, and cover them with CHEEEEESE! Confession…I think I forgot the cheddar cheese here…but it still seemed to be PLENTY of cheese and was magically delicious…so if you don’t have quite enough cheese…don’t fret, it will still be a success!
  8. Bake in 350 degree oven until the cheese has melted and the sides are bubbling, about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Eat.  Enjoy.  Be changed!!! 😀

Here’s a picture of my end product.  It’s not very pretty…but in real life it was gorgeous…and DELICIOUS! Trust me, it’s true.