Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gluten Free Cheese Stuffed Italian Meatballs

Luckily, I haven’t really had any true pregnancy cravings. Sure I’ve had a taste for this or that, but I’ve never felt like I absolutely NEEDED to eat something.

However, I have definitely noticed a tendency towards red meat when I plan our weekly menus. In the past I would always substitute ground turkey or ground chicken in a recipe that called for ground beef. But apparently Baby Ravelli likes red meat – and what baby wants, baby gets!

Baby wants meatballs? Baby gets Gluten Free Italian Meatballs stuffed with ooey gooey Tomato Basil Cheddar!


When my friends at Cabot Cheese sent me a block of Tomato Basil Cheddar, I knew I wanted to make a pasta dish. What better way to use it than to stuff it in a meatball?!


These meatballs are SUPER EASY to make. You could jazz them up with diced onion, shallot, or even parsley BUT I wanted a recipe with the fewest ingredients possible as a good base. Simple ingredients that I typically have in my pantry are taken to the next level with the addition of Cabot Cheese! Easy Peasy.

Start by slicing the cheese in to 1/2 inch cubes. You’ll need about 12 cubes, so you’ll definitely have some of your block leftover. (Which is good because it’s impossible to not sample while you sliced!)

Once sliced, pop the cheese in to the freezer until you’re ready to use it. This gives the cheese staying power during the baking process, and makes it less likely to melt out of the meatball.


To make the meatballs, you will need gluten free breadcrumbs. You could use whatever breadcrumbs you like best. Plain or Seasoned, use whatever you have on hand. I used the most basic breadcrumb ever:


Glutino Original Gluten Free Breadcrumbs

In a large bowl, combine one pound ground beef, one cup gluten free breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 2 cloves of garlic – minced, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tbsp. oregano (or Italian Seasoning), 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Using your hands, mix the ingredients well.

Once your meat is mixed, you’re ready to roll in to balls and stuff with cheese! I made my balls with about 3-4 tbsp. of meat mixture. Roll in to balls and then stuff the cheese cube in the center. Be sure to cover the cheese completely with the meat – this keeps it from melting out during the baking process.


Ready to Bake! ( OR freeze! These are great to make ahead and then freeze before baking! If frozen, just add a bit of baking time to allow for thawing)

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until the meat is browned and the cheese is popping out of the tops. I used parchment paper for baking, just in case the cheese made a giant mess.



Parrish and I enjoyed our meatballs in a traditional way:


On top of Schar Gluten Free Spaghetti (my absolute FAVE!!) with a simple red sauce. These would be great with roasted spaghetti squash or even inside of a meatball sub!

On the side:


LIFE CHANGING Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia! This bread was a total impulse buy at Whole Foods and I am SO GLAD I snagged it!


Soft, Flavorful, DELICIOUS. This was my first experience with Canyon Bakehouse and I think it’s safe to say that I’m a fan!

Have you tried any of their products?

Gluten Free Cheese Stuffed Italian Meatballs

You’ll need:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Cabot Tomato Basil Cheddar; cut in to 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. Oregano (or Italian Seasoning)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut cheese in to 1/2 inch cubes. You’ll need around 12 cubes, depending on how large you make your meatballs. Store cheese cubes in the freezer until you’re ready to stuff the meatballs.

Mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix well. Using 3-4 tbsp. of the meat mixture, roll in to medium sized meatballs. Once rolled, stuff the frozen cheese cubes in to the center of each meatball, covering the cheese completely with the meat.

Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15-20 minutes – until the meatballs are browned and the cheese begins to pop out of the tops of the meatballs.

Serve and Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

NEW Cookbook: Gluten Free on a Budget REVIEW and GIVEAWAY


The first time I met Chandice of Gluten Free Frenzy in person, it was like meeting a long time best friend. Especially since she and I have been online friends for so so so many years – 2009 bloggers represent!

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Man oh man I love this woman. (I also love the above picture because we both have little gluten free babies in our bellies!!)

So when she announced that her cookbook was getting ready to release, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be chosen as a stop on her books Blog Tour!

I LOVE the idea of recipes that embrace the gluten free lifestyle but keep a budget in mind. There have been so many times that I have seen a delicious looking dish, only to read the recipe and find that it needs 30 ingredients that cost $10 a piece.

Chandice is a gluten free expert for sure. I’ve been a long time reader of her blog Gluten Free Frenzy and I’m faithful follower on Twitter. She wrote the cookbook with Tana Besendorfer, who was new to me, but not new in the food world. She got her first job at her hometown restaurant, Mom’s CafĂ©, making pies. Tana is known by all who associate with her as one of the greatest cooks. She is a foodie with focus on health and nutrition to heal the body. My kind of woman!


So what can you expect to find in the cookbook Gluten Free on a Budget?

Gluten Free on a Budget takes the guesswork out of creating dishes the whole family will love without breaking the bank. You’ll fall in love with recipes like Banana Black Bottom Pie, Poppyseed Cake and Cherry Chip Cookies, while enjoying classic favorites like Sweet and Sour Chicken and Mongolian Beef.

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Each recipe is designed to keep your wallet and gluten-free tummy happy!

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And you know me, I LOVE a savory recipe, so I was excited to find holiday recipes made gluten-free, such as Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Fried Onions. YUM!

Yesterday was the OFFICIAL Release Date, and you can find the cookbook in all Utah Costco stores as well as some Arizona and Idaho Costco’s. You can also find it at Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores and on Amazon.

And because Chandice is a real sweetie, you can also find ONE FREE COPY here today!

Gluten Free on a Budget Cookbook GIVEAWAY

Enter to win:

To enter, simply leave a comment on this blog post with the answer to this question. If you made a batch of the delicious biscuits in this book, would you eat them sweet or savory? Jam or Bacon?

Winner will be chosen randomly Monday, January 19th at 6pm.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chipotle Burrito Bowls–Take Two

Happy Tuesday friends!

Did you stay up late last night watching College Football? I wish I could say yes but alas, I fell asleep sitting up in bed around 9pm. Oh yeah, wild night.

I even slept in yesterday….and took a small nap. I guess my body is trying to bank sleep hours before the baby comes, but a part of me feels like I’m back in the first trimester!

Luckily I was off of work yesterday, so I had plenty of time to get some rest, finish some errands, and work on some food prep tasks. I love being off on the weekend to spend time with Parrish, but days off during the week are great for getting stuff done!

Shortly after breakfast I worked on cleaning out the freezer, and I found a bag of perfectly frozen bananas! I was so excited about the discovery, (and the new found room in my freezer!!), that I decided to bake up a few batches of my favorite Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins.


These muffins are super easy to make, and they freeze well. You can find the recipe HERE. I like making a mix of regular muffins and mini muffins, as my appetite in the morning is unpredictable.

I didn’t have any chocolate chips on hand BUT I did have a few bars of Fair Trade Chocolate. Thanks Santa!


This delicious bar from Alter Eco made for a particularly decadent batch of muffins. It was hard not to eat the entire pan fresh out of the oven!!

Mid-way through the day yesterday I developed a strong craving for Chipotle. Does that ever happen to you?

I couldn’t get the flavors out of my mind, so I made a quick switch in our meal plan. See ya’ later Chicken Parm and hello Chipotle Cheat Burrito Bowls!


Luckily I was planning on using Perdue Gluten Free Chicken Tenders for the Chicken Parm, so I had those ready to go. The best part of Burrito Bowls: you can use whatever you have on hand! The recipe is constantly changing depending on what’s in the fridge. This particular batch had a real GREEN theme:


Salsa Verde, Cilantro, Tons of Lime Juice, Avocado, Lime Marinated Onion, and my beloved Monterey Jack Cheese. Not pictured: 0% Fat Fage Greek Yogurt, Crispy Chicken, and Brown Rice

Mix it up!


I squeezed all the limes in to the brown rice and mixed in an entire bunch of cilantro chopped. You could use your favorite rice, white or brown. Just add in the lime and cilantro to give it that Chipotle flavor.


I love how easy these are to throw together and the flavors were just what I wanted. PLUS I had enough leftover for lunch today – Yippee!

As much as I love Chipotle, I still think at-home Burrito Bowls are tastier. I like being able to control the portion sizes and going back halfway through my bowl to add more salsa!

What’s your favorite Chipotle dish?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Oatmeal

Because when you wake up to FREEZING temperatures – I’m talking about 9 degrees here in Durham!! – then you need a hot breakfast…

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AND you deserve a little treat!

Whipped Gluten Free Banana Oats topped with a spoonful of nut butter and one square of Alter Eco Fair Trade Dark Chocolate.

Oh so easy and oh so good!

I use the KERF Whipped Banana Oatmeal method with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats and LOVE the texture! So pillowy and creamy.

Stay warm friends!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Simple Swaps: Easy Healthy Habits for 2015

Happy New Year friends!!

I can’t believe that it’s already 2015! Time flies when you’re having fun….or baking a little gluten free bun in the oven.

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This may have been the first time in a long time that I didn’t ring in the New Year with friends and bubbles. In fact, I was sleeping up until a few minutes before the ball drop – that’s definitely a first!

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2013 may have been a little too fun!

Another first: I haven’t made any New Year Resolutions! I typically take a little bit of time at the first of the year to reflect on the previous year; what was good – what was bad – what could make my life better?

This year….I’m spending all my time looking forward, I’m sure we all know why. Plus, most of the things that didn’t go to well in 2014 (constant nausea for example) aren’t circumstances that I could have changed. Trust me – I tried.

However, I have let some of my healthy habits slip in the past couple months. So instead of making resolutions, I’m making reminders.

Healthy Habits I’ve Maintained:

- Sweet Tea Ban

Not easy for a Southern gal, but worth it for me! There are so many empty sugary calories in sweet tea and the more I drink unsweet tea with tons of lemon, the more I crave it!

- Water by the Gallon

I used to drink a gallon of water a day because I exercised so much; I needed the hydration. Now I drink a gallon of water a day because I’m growing a human. I’ve added coconut water to the mix and I’m convinced that being well hydrated makes you feel ten times better.

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Plus I have a steady rotation of 24 oz. cups with straws that make drinking water super easy. Yes, I am often a lazy human being – it has to be easy!

- Portion Control

Honestly, this hasn’t necessarily been by choice - I literally have no room in my body to over eat. BUT I also haven’t felt the emotional urge to over eat which is huge for me. I have definitely battled with emotional eating in the past.

Healthy Habits to Bring Back

- Healthier Salad Dressings and Condiments

I LOVE condiments! Seriously. LOVE. Ditching Ranch Dressing a few years ago was really hard but it made a HUGE difference in my overall health and ability to lose and maintain a healthy weight.

Umm…do you remember when I realized that I was eating 520 calories in Ranch dressing alone?!? Just for one meal?!?

Sadly, my random pregnancy food aversions made salad nearly inedible for me for months. The only way I could eat anything green was by slathering it in Ranch. While I’m definitely not back to where I was before (slamming a bottle a week) I’m not happy with where I am.

So last week I started making this delicious Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette again and I bought the supplies to make a healthier version of Ranch for dishes that need a dipper. Yes, some dishes NEED a dipper!

I love the Organic Ranch Seasoning from Spice Hunter, but I will use Hidden Valley in a pinch. It’s loaded with MSG but sometimes I pick my battles.

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I also didn’t buy anymore Ranch dressing this past week at the grocery store. There’s a lot to be said for making it less accessible. Laziness always wins out for me.

-Spaghetti Squash Swap

Eating less gluten free pasta is definitely a good thing for me personally: physically and financially. And I do genuinely love the taste of Spaghetti Squash. (Plus it is so darn good for you!) I fell out of the habit for tons of reasons: seasonality, 2nd trimester exhaustion, nausea, laziness…. But I do want to bring it back in to the meal rotation.

Two of my favorite Spaghetti Squash recipes:

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

- Getting Regular Exercise

Geez, I feel like Baby Ravelli is taking a lot of blame in this list, but this is definitely something that I have felt less able to do with pregnancy. In the 1st and 2nd trimester, nausea pretty much kept me out of the gym. I would manage to exercise maybe once a week but never on a regular basis.

I have been walking a lot more lately and even shook my legs out last week with a few minutes of light jogging. But I’ve completely dropped weight lifting and I miss it SO MUCH! I love the way building muscle makes me feel!

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I don’t envision being able to bring weights back in before the baby comes but I can continue to walk and do some squats with just body weight.

At the same time, I know my body just needs more rest right now and I am totally okay with honoring that. I just want to be sure that I’m reading the signals right and not confusing a need for rest with a lack of motivation.

So there you have it! My reminders for the start of the year – Healthy Habits I want to be sure to bring back.

What about you? Did you make any New Year Resolutions?