Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto (547x640)

I made this risotto while I was on the low iodine diet, but you don’t have to be on a special diet to enjoy it. My husband and I both thought it was delicious. This can easily be made to be vegetarian/vegan by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

3 cups unsalted chicken broth
1 bunch (about 1 pound) fresh asparagus, sliced in to 1/2-inch pieces
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 ounces mushrooms (button or baby bellas), cleaned and chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat the unsalted chicken broth to simmering.

In another saucepan, cook the sliced asparagus in salted (with Kosher salt) boiling water, until crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet with a heavy bottom, heat 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the Arborio rice, stir to coat with oil and sauté with onions for about 5 minutes to toast the rice. Add the chopped mushrooms and continue to sauté until they soften. Add 1 cup of the heated chicken broth, stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring until the rice has absorbed the broth. Add another 1/2 cup of the stock, stirring often until the rice has absorbed the broth. Continue adding the broth (about ½ cup at a time) as the rice absorbs the liquid and the pan becomes dry, until all the broth is absorbed. This should take about 20 minutes (the risotto will become creamy). As you are adding the last bit of broth, add the drained asparagus and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, season with Kosher salt and pepper, stir to combine, and serve immediately.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

This is my mom’s apple pie recipe. It’s a classic. She prefers Rome apples for pie baking, but I use whatever apple appeals to me at the time (except for red delicious – those are not good in pie). Fujis are my current favorite apple for pie.

So, I made the pie pictured above a couple of weeks ago while I was on the low iodine diet (LID) to prepare for my radioactive iodine treatment(RAI) to ablate any thyroid/thyroid cancer cells left in my body. To make this recipe acceptable for LID, I just left out the butter. It wasn’t the prettiest pie I have ever made, but it tasted good (especially since my diet was so limited). I was able to stop the low iodine diet three days after I had my RAI. I was so thrilled to be off that soul-sucking diet. I’m happy to report that my RAI went well and I had very few side-effects (only fatigue and a greatly diminished sense of taste…both which are improving).

Apple Pie

Pie Crust:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup Crisco
5 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water


6 cups thinly sliced apples
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice (about the amount of juice in half a lemon)

Preheat oven to 425º F.

In a large bowl, cut the Crisco into the flour and salt with a fork or pastry blender. Add the ice cold water one tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. Divide the dough into two halves. Make a ball from one half and roll out to fit the pie pa. Put the rolled out dough into the bottom of a pie pan.

Mix the sliced apples, sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared pie crust. Dot with pats of butter and then sprinkle with the fresh lemon juice.

Roll out the remaining pie crust. Place over the top of the pie. Seal the two crusts together. Trim the excess dough and then crimp or flute the edges. Cut a couple of slits in the top crust. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake at 425º F. for 40 to 50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool before serving.



Chickpea and Potato Stew

Chickpea and Potato Stew

This easy, flavorful, inexpensive, and healthy stew makes for a quick meal. Serve it with hot rice.

Chickpea and Potato Stew

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/4 ground cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 cup water
2 large potatoes, diced
1 15.5 ounce can no salt chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, plus additional for garnish
1 medium tomato, diced

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat. Cook cumin seeds in oil for 10 seconds. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the ground coriander, cayenne, water, potatoes, chickpeas, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are tender.

Add the cilantro and diced tomato. Cook another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with additional chopped cilantro and serve with hot rice.

Cavatappi with Rapini

I bought a beautiful bunch of rapini (also known as broccoli rabe). I thought it would go really well with pasta for a quick meal suitable for my low iodine diet. I thought this dish turned out better than expected. It’s so simple and not too heavy. Once off LID, I would probably add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Cavatappi with Rapini

Cavatappi with Rapini

1 large bunch of rapini (broccoli rabe), washed, stem ends trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound (1/2 a box) cavatappi or other pasta (like penne, fusilli, rotini, etc…) (I used Ronzoni brand cavatappi)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 Roma tomato, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of Kosher salt and the rapini. Cook until the rapini becomes bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the crushed red pepper flakes. Next, add the cooked and drained rapini, white wine, and chopped tomato. Bring to a boil and then add the drained pasta. Stir to combine and let cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Pollo con Arroz

Pollo con Arroz

Pollo con Arroz (or chicken with rice) is the ultimate comfort food. It’s hard to believe such a simple recipe can have such flavorful results. It’s an added bonus that it’s easy to prepare. This recipe is slightly adapted from the one in Robb Walsh’s The Tex-Mex Cookbook.

Pollo con Arroz

3 pound whole chicken, cut up (or 3 – 4 large chicken breasts or use chicken thighs)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup white rice
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clover garlic, minced
1 can No Salt Added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Rinse the chicken and then pat dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, turning with tongs, until browned on both sides. Remove the browned chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the rice, onion, and garlic to the pan. Stir constantly until the onion is soft and the rice is golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, and 2 1/2 cups of water. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Return the chicken to the pan. Bring the liquid to a slight boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone and the chicken and rice are done.

Chicken with Rice

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Yesterday, my 4 year old kept asking me to make a chocolate cake. He loves getting in the kitchen with me and whipping up baked goods. I am still on a low iodine diet (LID) for an upcoming medical treatment and cannot have dairy products or whole eggs. Fortunately, I have a little knowledge about vegan baking. We made these cupcakes that not only were vegan, but also acceptable for LID. Win!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 cup water

Chocolate Glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
warm water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 tins with baking cups.

Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar, and water. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Divide the batter between the 12 baking cup-lined tins. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze. Combine the powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl. Add one tablespoon of warm water at a time until the desired consistency is achieved. I used about 4 tablespoons of water.

When the cupcakes are cooled, top them with the chocolate glaze. I used about a tablespoon of glaze on each cupcake.

LID Sopa Ranchera

Sopa Ranchera is one of my favorite soups and it was easy to adapt it for my low iodine diet (LID). I like adding toppings like fresh cilantro, sliced fresh chiles, crumbled tortilla chips, and/or diced avocado to my bowl of Sopa Ranchera. The cool and creamy avocado kind of melts into the soup. So good. This soup freezes very well, so make it ahead of time and freeze in individual portions.

LID Sopa Ranchera

LID Sopa Ranchera

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups unsalted chicken broth or the equivalent of water and unsalted vegetable bouillon (I used Rapunzel brand)
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can (14.5 ounces) unsalted diced tomatoes and their juices (I used Hunt’s brand)
1 (15.5 ounces) can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained (I used about 2 cups of garbanzos that I prepared with kosher salt)
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges
sliced chiles (jalapenos or serranos)
diced avocado
crumbled tortilla chips (Frito Lay does not use iodized salt in their products)

To prepare soup, heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion; saute 3 minutes. Add oregano, cumin, and garlic; saute 1 minute. Add chicken broth (or water and unsalted bouillon), potatoes, tomatoes, and chickpeas; bring to a boil, and cook 10 minutes. Add corn, salt, and zucchini; cook 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Ladle soup into bowls, and top with toppings of your choice.


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