Roasting Chestnuts on an Open Fire in a Gas Oven

Although I was familiar with the verse, for most of my life, I’d never actually seen anyone roast a chestnut. Much like caroling and riding in horse drawn sleighs, it just sounded like one of those Christmas activities of yesteryear, that now really only live on in song. It wasn’t until four years ago, on the last night of our honeymoon, that I experienced the awesomeness that are roasted chestnuts.

After an afternoon of window shopping in Milan, we found ourselves starving. It was around six o’clock, so we thought we’d have an early dinner before heading back to our hotel. It turns out, there’s no such thing as an early dinner in Italy. Most restaurants didn’t even open until eight. Still we were famished, so we bought a bag of roasted chestnuts from a street vendor to fill the void.

We ate them leaning on a storefront window ledge, while we watched some guys selling knock-off Prada bags fleeing from the police. This was surprisingly entertaining, as the sellers kept coming back, setting up their displays in the same places, only to find themselves packing up and running again, a few minutes later. It was people watching at its best, and the accompanying snack was delightful.

Since then, we’ve talked about oven roasting our own chestnuts, but never got around to it until this year. It took us (and by us, I actually mean Jeremy) a few tries to get it right, but now we’ve got it figured out.

The nuts are scored, sprinkled with water and roasted in the oven for 25 minutes. When the nuts have cooled enough to touch, the shells can be easily removed.

I love the simplicity of roasted chestnuts. They don’t require any additional seasoning. They just have a hint of natural sweetness, which is refreshing this time of year when we’re otherwise bombarded with candy and chocolates.

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What I Made This Week: Sugar Free/Wheat Free Banana Loaf

It’s not as disgusting as it sounds.

Seriously.

Yesterday I went to a friend’s house to watch a movie and I though I would whip up a loaf of banana bread for the occasion. I recently discovered that I could make my banana loaf with gluten free flour but when I looked at the recipe I noticed it called for a ton of sugar. As mentioned in a recent post, I’m trying to cut back on my sugar intake so I decided to adapt the recipe again to be sugar free also.

I’m not even going to pretend this tastes exactly like regular banana bread. It doesn’t – but considering it doesn’t contain sugar or wheat flour, it’s actually not that bad.

Here’s the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Honey
2 Eggs
3 Mashed Ripe Bananas
2 Cups Bob’s Redmill Gluten Free Flour
1 1/2 TSP Xantham Gum
1 TSP Baking Soda
1/2 TSP Baking Powder
1/2 TSP Salt

Cream butter and honey, then add eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Blend mashed bananas.

In another bowl, combine flour with baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add banana mixture and stir to moisten.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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Macaroni and Cheese for Two

While chili and stew always seems to taste better the next day, I’ve always found that macaroni and cheese doesn’t reheat quite as well. It was for this reason I was inspired to adapt my potluck sized recipe into a meal for two (and also wheat free).

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup uncooked elbow macaroni (I used rice pasta)
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp corn starch
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup cheddar
1/3 cup swiss cheese
1/3 cup havarti or fontina
3 tbsp breadcrumbs (I used kamut cracker crumbs)

Directions

Cook pasta noodles al dente. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a saucepan melt butter and stir in cornstarch for about 30 seconds. The mixture will start to bubble.

Add milk and to saucepan and heat until the mixture starts to thicken (about 1 minute).

Remove from heat and add cheeses, a little bit at a time, then stir until melted.

Pour cheese sauce over pasta and gently stir until all of the pasta is coated.

Pour into 2 greased oven safe bowls and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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