December 30, 2008

Two Kinds of Easy Gluten Free Party Salsa

I've been traveling all over the place lately. Just yesterday I arrived home after a week-long stay with family outside Marietta, GA. Tomorrow I'll be heading north to Baldwinsville, NY to spend New Year's Eve with our good friends, David and Cheryl Vermillya.  Spending New Year's Eve with Dave and Cheryl, eating great food and drinking fine wine has been our ritual for the last three years. On New Year's Day we all get up, drink some strong coffee, eat breakfast, and head off to Beaver Lake for cross-country skiing or a hike.  It's a great way to start the year:)

These two salsa recipes are crazy easy.  If you have the time, there are a ton of salsas that call for hours of slow cooking and lots of work. Not these. These are the kinds of salsa you make when time is short. There's a mild corn salsa, and a simple salsa verde (green salsa). I'll be mixing up a batch of the corn salsa for our trip north. It can be made with frozen corn, or cut fresh off the cob. It's good either way.

Corn Salsa Ingredients
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 tbsp. red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. cilantro or parsley, minced
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Preparation Directions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour to blend flavors (more time it sits, the better it tastes!)
  2. That's it! I told you it was easy.

Simple Salsa Verde Ingredients
  • 4 (4oz) cans of La Preferida Mild Green Chiles - roasted, peeled, and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups drained canned tomatillos, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 cup GF chicken broth ( I used Kitchen Basics vegetable stock)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped

Preparation Directions 
  1. Mix it all together in a bowl, cover and chill for as long as you can. 
  2. Eat with pure corn tortillas and enjoy!

Happy New Year!!!

December 17, 2008

Nice and Easy Gluten Free Chili

Lately I've been getting into experimenting with chili a lot.  Before a couple of months ago I've never actually made chili. Growing up in Syracuse introduced me to the joy of eating steaming bowls of chili outdoors, among crowds of half-inebriated people.  Every year The Cuse has a chili cook-off, where scores of local restaurants prepare and serve up free chili for everyone.  There's live music, art vendors, and of course BEER TENTS!  Although Syracuse was a pretty dark and dreary place (weather-wise), the community puts on a wide variety of  cool, and free, downtown events. There was always something going on.

This chili is super easy, fast and filling. There are a lot of different chili powders out there to choose from, with various levels of hotness.  Good chili is all about one's specific tastes.  If you aren't used to lots of hot spice in your foods, start with the mildest chili you can find and be sparing.  I've found the more I experiment with chili peppers, the more tolerant both my tongue and stomach become.  In addition, I'm being opened up to a whole new world of taste sensations. 

It's funny, the more I cook, the more I want to cook.  I love the challenge of it. I love the never-ending variety of amazing foods one can create. And of course, I also love to eat:) With all the cultures around the world, you could really cook something different for every meal, for the rest of your life. That's just cool! 

I've made about 5 different chili dishes just this month. Last week I made a kickin vegetarian chili and fed it to my coworkers at our holiday party. Less than a week before that I made a thick and hot pork chili that I rolled up in corn tortillas.  This one here was super tasty, and the absolute easiest. Enjoy!

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2-3 tsp. mild or hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. gluten free flour (I used Arrowhead Mills)
  • 3 cups  (about 24 oz) canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ish oz) can red kidney beans
  • pinch of dried oregano (roll together in palm to crush up good)
  • pinch of  brown sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper (according to taste)

Cooking Directions:
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the beef, breaking it up as it cooks.
  2. Sprinkle on the cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, and GF flour.
  3. Stirring frequently, cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and let simmer 25-30 minutes.
  5. Drain the kidney beans and add just before serving. Heat for another 5 minutes.
  6. Grab a square of Gluten Free Cornbread and dig in!

December 13, 2008

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Cookies

A little over a week ago, I found myself trying to figure out what to bring to a foodie gathering being held in the home of fellow food bloggers, Messy and Picky.  Although I had never met Messy and Picky, I knew the foodie in charge of sending out the invitations.  Her name is "E" and she writes the blog, "Foodaphilia." With very little time to prepare, I whipped up a bowl of Golden Sunshine Quinoa Salad, using Bob's Red Mill Organic Quinoa, and a batch of cookies based on my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.

I brought my partner Mindy, and my good friend Erika along with me for the ride.  When I entered, I found a beautiful home filled with complete strangers, talking, drinking and eating. They were mostly surrounding a table displaying a wondrous banquet of food.  As we began to intermingle with the guests, I discovered that I knew another person in the crowd.  I began to chat it up with Lauren, the author of the food blog "I'll Eat You."  Lauren, E, and I had all met previously during a dinner gathering for Foodbuzz featured publishers, at Fork Restaurant in Philadelphia.

Throughout the evening, I ate a ton of great food, tasted a variety of wines, and met many cool people.  One of the people I chatted up happened to be a food writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.  He ended up mentioning me and my blog in his article "On the Side: Live and in person, the food bloggers munch." Thanks Rick Nichols!!!  We left the party with full stomachs, healthy buzzes, and a sense of excited anticipation for the next gathering.

The Double Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies I whipped up in a flash ended up being quite tasty!  I used Trader Joe's brand Organic Creamy Peanut Butter, but feel free to use any GF peanut butter you like.  It's hard to go wrong with the ingredients in these cookies:)

Cookie Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks softened, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/5 cups gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup pure cocoa powder
  • 3 cups chocolate chunks or chips (make sure they're GF!)
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter

Baking Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugars, salt and vanilla until well combined. Beat in the egg. Scrape the bowl using a spatula as it mixes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the GF flour, cocoa and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix on low speed until just absorbed. Remove the mixture from the electric mixer and incorporate the chocolate chunks with a strong spoon or spatula. 
  4. Using a 1-inch ice cream scooper, drop dough balls about 3 inches apart onto non-greased baking sheets. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until centers no longer appear moist. Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Grab a tall glass of milk (or soy milk), kick back, and chow down!

December 10, 2008

Gluten Free Lemon Pork Ragout

Ragout is a French term referring either to a main-dish stew, or to a sauce for noodles or any other starchy food.  The basic method of preparing a good ragout involves slow cooking over low heat.  This dish is exactly that!  I've never made a meal like this before, since I'm typically into things I can whip up in a jiffy.  It took a bit of preparation, a pinch of patience, a whole lot of TLC, and was completely worth all the fuss!  It is extremely hearty, delicious, and will likely result in leftovers you'll enjoy for days.

I didn't have ground coriander or saffron powder, but I did have whole coriander and saffron threads, so I put them in a pestle and mortar and ground them up.  If you can, get really small lemons with small seeds.  I tried to de-seed my big lemons the best I could, but a couple made it through.  Although they became soft after being cooked for so long, I wasn't too fond of their taste or texture.  Who knows though, you might like it.  This makes enough for 6 good meals. 

  • 2 1/2 - 3 lb boneless lean pork shoulder, but into 2-inch pieces 
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp saffron powder
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 large yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp GF flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour)
  • 1 1/4 cups GF broth (I used Trader Joe's Organic Chicken Broth)
  • 2/3 cups golden raisins
  • 2 lemons, peeled, cut into quarters, plus extra slices for garnishing purposes
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest (do this before peeling)
  • 6 Italian plum tomatoes, quartered

Cooking Directions:
  1. Marinade the pork with the oil, cumin, coriander, saffron, and garlic in a shallow dish for about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large nonstick pan, saute the pork pieces in small batches over medium-high heat. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and saute for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
  4. Sprinkle the GF flour over the sauteed onions, then add the broth, golden raisins, lemon, lemon zest, and tomatoes.
  5. Return the meat to the pan. Stir, cover, and let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more broth if needed.
  6. Serve with extra lemon slices, rice, or side salad.
  7. Enjoy!!!

December 7, 2008

Gluten Free Apple Butter Galette

I don't spend that much time watching TV, but when I do I typically watch something I can learn from. I'm that much of a dork! This recipe was inspired by a segment of a show on the Food Channel called "Real Cooking." It seemed so easy and fun, that I just had to try it out myself.  I decided to experiment with the dough recipe that my Almond Fudge Bars were made with. It worked out pretty well. Being that I had only caught a snippet of the show, I really didn't know what this desert was called. However, I just happened to come across a similar recipe on The Hungry Mouse's blog, and discovered that what I was making was a kind of rustic Galette.

A couple weeks before making this delicious desert, I did some shopping at a place called Linvilla Orchards, and picked up a couple jars of Apple Butter. I absolutely love peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches! YUMMY! The galette on the TV show used fig jam for a base, but I wanted to try apple butter. Next time I'll go with the figs.  I'm sure you can use any kind of apple with this dish, but since I was born on Cortland, NY, I decided to use my favorite apple of all, the Cortland Apple.  

When making the crust, make sure that you spread it on well-floured parchment paper. Also, have a bowl of GF flour close by, since you'll need to keep your hands constantly floured to avoid sticking to the dough. The dough will be very thin, so to avoid tearing, use the parchment paper to lift the dough toward the filling.  It doesn't have to be perfectly formed, just try to avoid leaving any open holes in the dough.

Galette Ingredients:
  • 4 or 5 peeled, cored and sliced apples
  • 1 tblsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus a little extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple butter
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose GF flour or baking mix (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 2 eggs

Baking Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Beat the butter, powdered sugar and salt in a large bowl until fluffy. Add flour and mix well. With GF floured hands, press the dough on a floured sheet of parchment paper.  Work the dough into a circular shape (10 to 12 inches in diameter). 
  3. In a bowl, toss the apple slices with 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until well coated. Spread the apple butter into a small circle in the center of the dough.  Pile the apple slices onto the apple butter circle (you may have more than you need). 
  4. Using the parchment paper, lift the dough (one side at a time) toward the center of the apples.  Pinch the dough together as you go.  This part is a little tricky, so be careful not to create any large tears. Once you have the galette fully formed, transfer (still on the parchment paper) to a baking sheet.
  5. Whisk the eggs with a splash of water in a small bowl, and then brush the outside of the galette dough. Sprinkle the egg-coated dough with granulated sugar.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until dough is golden.
  7. Serve with a couple scoops of ice cream and dig in!

November 30, 2008

Gluten Free Goulash

I've always been a big fan of goulash.  Growing up in central New York, goulash was one of my mom's staple dinners.  With so many options for gluten free pasta on the market now, the pastabilities are endless.  This is the first time I have ever actually made goulash the way it's supposed to be (slow cooked).  When I typically make a goulash-like pasta dish, I boil the pasta separately, and then add all the sauce ingredients afterwards.  What makes goulash taste so much better, is that the pasta is slowly boiled within the sauce.

The smell that filled my home as this dish cooked was amazing! I knew I was in for something special. The first bite instantly transported me back to countless dinners shared with my mother and brother. I kept picturing my brother and I devouring our goulash, while the sun slowly drifted toward the horizon outside our windows.  It was a race to the finish so that we could go back outside and take advantage of the last but of sunlight left. I love how food can help us access memories long ago filed into the recesses of our minds.

This recipe calls for Soy Sauce, which is often gluten-ous.  There are a few varieties of gluten free soy sauce to choose from, by I use "SAN-J Organic Tamari, Wheat Free Soy Sauce." Most herbs and seasoning salts are gluten free, but make sure to check the ingredients.

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 8

Goulash Ingredients
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 large yellow onions (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves, (chopped)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce 
  • 2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes 
  • 3 tblsp. soy sauce (gluten free)
  • 2 tblsp. Italian seasoning (or mix Oregano, Basil, Sage)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tblsp. seasoned salt (I used Goya)
  • 2 cups uncooked gluten free elbow pasta

Goulash Directions
  1. In a deep pot, cook the ground beef on medium-high until no longer pink (breaking it up as it cooks). Spoon out the fat as it pools. Add the onion and garlic to the beef, and cook until the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes)
  2. Stir in the water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, soy sauce, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, and seasoned salt. Heat till boiling, then reduce to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Stir the elbow pasta into the beef mixture. Cover and simmer on low for 25 more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent pasta from sticking
  4. Remove from heat, fish out and discard the bay leaves. Stir it up good to distribute flavors and return lid to pot. Let sit about 30 minutes before serving. 
  5. Devour and Enjoy!

November 27, 2008

Eating Mofongo in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!  Every year my partner Mindy and I fly to Chicago to spend turkey day with the Massaro clan.  It's an event I always look forward to, not only for the great food and company, but also to enjoy some much needed down-time amidst my busy grad-school schedule.  Right now I'm chillaxin at Melanie's house, one of Mindy's 5 sisters. The crowned pork roast is in the oven, and the two salsas I made are marinating in the fridge.  In an hour or so it will be off to the parent's to begin the feast! I think I just drooled on myself.

When I get time to relax, I begin to reminisce about the things I've done over the semester. A few weeks ago I was lucky to have the opportunity to spend time in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was awesome! I loved it!  One of the first things I wanted to do when I arrived, was venture out and sample some local foods.  Mindy and I ended up finding a great little place called El Jibarito Puerto Rico. The wait-staff were extremely friendly and helpful. I explained my gluten issues and he let me know exactly what to avoid on the menu. He seemed pretty knowledgeable about food allergies, and was happy to help me. I asked what would be one of the most traditional Puerto Rican dishes on the menu, and our waiter immediately said "Mofongo!"  So Mofongo it was!  I'm so glad too, because I absolutely loved it!  It was pure comfort food.  Mofongo is basically mashed plantain with garlic and spices, stuffed with a variety of fillings.  The mashed plantain is shaped into a bowl, then filled with things like pork, shrimp, steak, etc., and then sealed with more mashed plantain. It is traditionally served with rice and beans and salad.  I went with the waiter's recommendation, the Mofongo filled with Grilled Flank Steak ($14.95).  The spices were amazing! The steak was tender and juicy, and the mashed plantain was delicious and filling.  If you are ever in Old San Juan and you get the chance, stop by El Jibarito. You'll love it!

Here's a recipe I found that is exactly what I ate at El Jibarito. Enjoy!

  • 4 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 cups gluten free beef or chicken stock
  • oil (for deep frying)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite seasoned filling (pork, beef, shrimp, etc.)
  • 1 tblsp. chopped garlic
  • Fresh ground black peppercorns 
  • Sea Salt
  • Cilantro leaves (chopped for garnish)

Cooking Directions
  1. Mix a handful of sea salt into a bowl of cold water and soak the chopped plantain. 
  2. Warm stock in a saucepan over low heat.
  3. Bring at least 1 inch of oil to around 350 degrees F. in a deep skillet.
  4. In the meantime, cook your meat/seafood until crisp. Remove from heat and drain.
  5. Remove the plantain from the water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.  Deep fry the plantain pieces until brown and tender (watch out for splattering!). Remove from oil. Flatten the plantain with a flat-bottomed glass bottle. Fry the plantains again for 30 seconds on each side, or until slightly crispy.
  6. While the plantains are still hot, take a wooden mortar and pestle, and smash them with the garlic, and salt & pepper (to taste).  Shape the plantain mash into a small bowl, making sure to leave a space for filling.  Fill the space with your favorite filling and seal with another layer of plantain.  Place on a plate and douse with warm stock and garnish with cilantro.
  7. Serve with rice and beans, and some salad. Turn on some salsa music, light some candles, and chow down!  

November 22, 2008

Gluten Free Chocolate Marshmallow Chex Bars

One of the staples of bake sales across the country, Rice crispy treats have to be one of the easiest sweets to make. Unfortunately rice crispies contains malt flavoring, and malt contains gluten, therefore completely off-limits to celiac sufferers.  Fortunately, there is ONE name brand cereal that has gone gluten free: Rice Chex. I wrote a blog a while ago about Rice Chex going gluten free, here is the link "Rice Chex Article." This is my first experiment making cereal bars with Rice Chex.  It's basic, super fast, and most importantly, EASY.  As far as the Marshmallows go, I've found most brands to be gluten free like Kraft Jet Puffed, but check the ingredients. Experiment by adding coconut flakes, nuts, M&Ms, or substitute any other gluten free cereal in this recipe.  I brought these into work. They were very popular:)

  • 6 cups of Rice Chex (no other Chex products are GF, YET)
  • 1 cup of chocolate chunks/chips (make sure GF)
  • 1 pound bag of Marshmallows (any size)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter

Cooking Directions
  1. Throw the butter in a big pot over low heat until melted.
  2. Add the marshmallows and stir consistently until completely melted (10 minutes or so).
  3. Add the chocolate and the Rice Chex, stir until the cereal is completely coated.
  4. Scoop out the mixture and press into an 8" x 12" pan.  Press to compact. Place in fridge to cool.
  5. Once cool, slice into squares and chow down! 

November 16, 2008

GF Product Review: Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust

It has been a while since I've enjoyed a good slice of pizza.  A couple weeks back, Philadelphia hosted the National Celiac Foundation's "Gluten-Free Cooking Spree" at the Wachovia Center.  I went with my friend Katie and volunteered half a day to set up for the event.  Unfortunately I couldn't attend the event due a night class for graduate school.  I was completely bummed, since I knew it was going to be a FEAST of amazing gluten free food!  However, I was given a GF goody bag as thanks for putting my back to work. In that bag was a package of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust mix.  It sat in my cupboard for a while before I ended up trying it out.  But when I did, it was awesome!

Honestly, it was the best pizza I've had in three years (since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease)!  In my haste to devour, I accidentally missed the step of baking the crust for a while before adding the toppings. With all the sauce and toppings already laid out on the dough, I popped the pies in the oven for the time needed to pre-bake the crust, plus the cooking time for the prepared pizza. Even though I messed up the directions slightly, it still came out perfect!  I topped my pizzas with a generous amount of pizza sauce, crushed oregano, pepperoni, and shredded "Italian Mix" cheese. I used "Hormel Thick Slice Pepperoni" since it stated it was Gluten-Free on the package. One package of Bob's Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix makes two nice size pies. You are going to love this pizza crust! Two big thumbs up:)


November 13, 2008

Iced Lemon-Pistachio Biscotti

Ever since I began this blog, I've been constantly learning.  Not only have I been learning how to cook better, but also more effortlessly.  It's so true what they say about practice; the more you do something the easier it gets.  I've always loved to cook, but I used to be more cautious with culinary experiments.  Partly due to economical reasons (it's expensive to burn up prime cuts of meat), but mostly because I had no real push to improve. This blog has motivated me to expand my ability to create amazing meals and deserts, and I'm loving it!  I've been learning how to make things I never thought I'd attempt, like cheesecake, fudge, and BISCOTTI. Did I mention that I love biscotti.

I've caught the joy-of-cooking bug, and hope I'm eternally afflicted. Although I don't have any kids yet, I can imagine how hard it would be for busy parents to find the motivation to get creative with cooking. However I think it's important to try.  Turning any meal into a communal experience helps people bond in a special way.  Allowing the kids to pitch in makes it a family event that always has a happy ending (EATING!). Patterns and predictability can be comforting at times, but they can also stagnate. Personally, there is something about exploring the world of edible art that gives me a truly visceral sense of being human.

Now onto the recipe... The only laborious part of the following recipe was grating the lemon zest. I did end up doubling the recipe so I had enough to share with my co-workers, which made the zesting process twice as long, but completely worth it.  The flavor the lemon zest adds to the biscotti is unreplaceable.  I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Mix, but feel free to use any GF baking mix you prefer.

Biscotti Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. natural vanilla
  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 4 tsp. finely grated lemon peel (ZESTY!!!)
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted pistachio nuts

Lemon Icing Ingredients
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
  • 2 tblsp. milk, soy milk, or lemon juice

Biscotti Cooking Directions
  1. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets and set aside (I used cooking spray).
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Using an electric mixer and a large bowl, beat the butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add the sugar, baking power, and salt. Beat until combined, occasionally scraping the sides. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated.
  4. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Add what's left of the flour and mix by hand.
  5. Stir in the shredded lemon peel and pistachio nuts.
  6. Divide the dough in half, and using well floured hands, shape each portion into 8-inch long rolls.  Flatten them down a bit until they are about 2 1/2 inches wide and an inch thick.
  7. Place at least 3 inches apart on your prepared cookie sheets and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and tops have cracked. Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet(s) for 30 minutes.
  8. Take a serrated knife and cut each roll diagonally into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices cut side down on the cookie sheets. Lower the oven to 325 degrees F.. Bake biscotti for an additional 8 minutes and remove from oven. Turn each slice over and return to the oven for a final 9-10 minutes, or until dry and crisp (be careful not to burn them!).
  9. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Once cool drizzle with lemon icing and chow down!

Lemon Icing Directions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, lemon peel, and chosen liquid until it reaches a drizzling consistency.  How easy is that?! 
  2. Enjoy!!!

November 11, 2008

Easy Cheesy Breakfast Bake

Wow, I can't believe it's been 10 days since I posted a recipe!  I've had a crazy week and a half; with paper deadlines, presentation preparations, and a trip to San Juan Puerto Rico.  It's not like I haven't been cooking and checking out great places to eat either, because I have. In fact, I have a bunch of new recipes and reviews lined up to be posted within the next few weeks.   But first, I want to share a quick meal idea.  This breakfast dish is super easy to make, satisfying, and very filling. I went with parmesan, but feel free to use whatever cheese you'd like. If you're a meat-eater, this would also be great with chopped sausage or bacon mixed in with the corn meal/grits.

  • Any 14 to 24 oz. can of chopped tomatoes (I used Hunt's with herbs)
  • 2-3 cups cooked Yellow Corn meal or White Grits (make sure it's GF!)
  • 3-4 eggs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup shredded cheese (your choice)

Cooking Directions
  1. Cook the grits/yellow corn meal according to the directions. Stir in the paprika, sea salt and pepper
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Layer the bottom of a 9" by 12" baking dish with the corn meal
  4. Spoon a wall of chopped tomatoes around the edge of the baking dish
  5. Crack open the eggs over the center of the dish, making sure not to break the yolks
  6. Carefully place the dish in the oven
  7. Cook for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the egg whites are fully cooked
  8. Remove from oven, add a little more s&p, and then sprinkle shredded cheese over cooked eggs
  9. Return the dish to the oven and bake just until the cheese has fully melted
  10. Enjoy your breakfast!

November 1, 2008

Double Chocolate Biscotti

Although this website is in a blog format, when I first decided to put this page together, my intention was to simply provide a place for people with celiac disease and/or wheat allergies to find useful information that would make their lives easier.  When people are first diagnosed with celiac disease, it can feel pretty overwhelming.  It typically calls for a complete dietary change, and a lot more home-cooked meals.  Having the ability to go out to a restaurant with friends and family taken away from you can be pretty depressing, which is why I created the gluten free restaurant menu list that is located down the left-side column.  If you know anyone with celiac disease, or wheat allergies, or food allergies in general, let them know about that list.  And if you notice a page has been outdated, or has an "error" message, let me know so I can update it.

Besides the gluten free restaurant menu list on the left column, I also have a list of useful websites for people with gluten issues.  All of the main celiac organizations are there, as well as great sites like Traveling Gluten Free and Be Free For Me. Traveling Gluten Free is a database of gluten free eating destinations world-wide, which is a great resource for those of us who travel a lot.  Be Free For Me is a website loaded with recipes that are categorized by the food allergy/sensitivity they avoid.  It's a really cool site for anyone with any kind of food allergy. 

Now back to the FOOD!  Biscotti has lost it's intimidation factor with me. I used to think it was so hard to make, that only expert bakers could pull it off.  I now know that biscotti has to be one of the easiest baked goods to create, and the possibilities are endless!  I decided to quiet the angry chocolate monkey that is persistently on my back, by giving this recipe a double dose of cocoa.  Any high grade baking cocoa is usually safe from gluten, but it's important to read the ingredients in your chocolate chips for things like "modified food starch," "maltodextrin," and "malt flavoring." As a rule of thumb, the higher quality the chocolate chips/chunks, the less likely they'll contain fillers.  Chocolate is perfect by itself! Why anyone would contaminate good chocolate with artificial flavors and gluten-containing fillers is beyond me; but it basically comes down to money.  The less actual food ingredients it contains, the cheaper it will be to produce.

In this recipe, you can use chocolate chips or chunks depending on your preference.  You can also melt chocolate and coat the tops of each piece after the biscotti cools, thereby making it a triple chocolate biscotti!  However you do it, experiment and have fun with it:)  Food is all about sharing and sensual pleasure.  The joy is not only in eating the food, but also smelling it and looking at it.  Enjoy yourself, because that's what it's all about!

Double Chocolate Biscotti Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips or chunks

Baking Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside (I use canola oil spray)
  3. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl, and with your electric mixer, beat the butter on med to high speed for 35-ish seconds.
  4. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder to the mix. Beat until combined, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to get it all incorporated.
  5. Beat in the eggs until combined, and then as much of the flour as you can before it gets too clumpy.  Remove the mixer and stir the remaining flour by hand. Stir in the chocolate chunks or chips.
  6. Shape the dough into two 9-inch long rolls.  Place the rolls on the prepared cookie sheets and flatten them slightly so that they're about 1/2 to 1-inch thick.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1 hour.
  8. Using a serrated knife, cut each roll diagonally into 1/2 inch slices. Place the slices, cut sides down, onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  9. Bake at 325 degrees F. for around 8 to 9 minutes.
  10. Turn the slices over and bake for an additional 7 to 9 minutes, or until dry and crisp (be careful not to burn them!).
  11. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
  12. Make a cup of coffee for dipping purposes and enjoy!

October 28, 2008

Two Kinds of Easy Breakfast Potatoes

I'm a big fan of breakfast potatoes. Which is partly why breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. One of the first food venues I felt semi-safe eating at were diners. Although I know that cross-contamination can happen (when it's super busy, and foods a'flying), for the most part, egg and meat-based breakfasts are naturally gluten free. Having worked in a diner called Pano's during my time as an undergraduate student at Buffalo State, I know that in general the grill will be divided up into food groups. There's a square for the potatoes, a square for the eggs and meats, and one for the pancakes/waffles.

When you first get diagnosed with having gluten sensitivity issues, you become afraid of going out to eat. You're paranoid that you'll eat the wrong thing, or someone will make a mistake when telling you it's gluten free, or it will get contaminated by another food in the kitchen, and you end up staying home a lot.  Diners were my initial window back into the social phenomenon of communal eating.  Although we all have our own tables and plates, what we really seem to be satisfying is our need of the company and energy of fellow human beings. 

Feeling confident in the relative safety of breakfast foods,  made traveling around the USA a lot more enjoyable as well, since I could always count on a diner being close by.  Sometimes I'd eat at diners for multiple meals in a day, especially on long road trips. Lots of grits, omelets, scrambled eggs, frittatas, roasted tomatoes, bacon, ham, steak, coffee and of course BREAKFAST POTATOES. With a hefty side of ketchup, I typically take care of the potatoes first thing.  

I've cooked a lot of stuff in my life, and it occurred to me about a week ago,  I've never made my own breakfast potatoes! I've probably eaten breakfast potatoes thousands of times in my life, and have never learned to make my own. How pathetic is that!? Well, that had to change. I decided to use the same bag of red potatoes and make two different kinds.  I cooked them at the same time, ended up with a LOT of leftovers, and absolutely loved both styles. Even so, I don't see myself cutting back on my diner visits:) Eating alone sucks!

Easy Roasted Potatoes  

  • 3 medium (1 pound) red or white potatoes, or 12 tiny  (1 pound) new potatoes
  • 2 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil (or butter - melted)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika 

Cooking Directions 
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 
  • Cut up the medium potatoes into fourths, or the new potatoes into halves
  • Toss the potatoes in a cooking-sprayed 9x9x2-inch baking pan
  • Mix up the oil, onion powder, garlic salt, black pepper, and paprika; drizzle over the taters, and using some tongs, toss them up. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes, then take them out and stir them up. Throw them back in for another 20 minutes, or until the edges are browned.
  • Chow down! And be careful not to burn your tongue, or the roof of your mouth. These babies can be dangerous-hot!

Home Fried Potatoes

  • 4 medium (1 1/3 pound) red potatoes
  • 3 tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tblsp. dried)

Cooking Directions
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Gently drop in the potatoes and cook until tender but firm (about 15 minutes). Drain, cool and then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  • Heat 1 tblsp. olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add the onion and green pepper and cook until soft; stirring often (about 5 minutes).  Transfer to a plate for later.
  • Heat another 2 tblsp. of olive oil in the skillet over med-high heat. Toss in the potato cubes, paprika, salt and black peper. Cook, stirring from time to time, until browned (about 10 minutes). 
  • Add the waiting onions, green peppers and parsley, and cook for another minute or so. Serve hot.
  • It's breakfast potato time! Enjoy!

October 25, 2008

Espresso Swirl Cheesecake

This is only the second time I've been able to enjoy cheesecake in nearly three years! The first time, was while visiting Cairns, Australia at a place called Fusion Organics. It was a huge slice of delicious pumpkin cheesecake. Click HERE for a link to that blog entry. Before Celiac, I was a huge fan of cheesecake. Especially strawberry cheesecake! However, I never really understood what it took to make one. I figured it must be very complicated, and due to its richness, figured it must be loaded with some form of gluten. Although many cheesecake recipes call for a small amount of flour, you can easily replace it with GF flour. In addition, it's actually very easy to make; the only part typically containing gluten is the crust. Now the only challenge will be to limit how many varieties I'm going to make in a given year, so that I can continue to fit into my clothes.

Although I absolutely love fresh strawberry cheesecake, I decided to try something a little different. For the crust, I processed a package of Pamela's Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I suggest using two packages. I only used one, and did not have enough cookie crumbs to fill the sides of the pie pan. You can actually use any kind of gluten free cookie you'd like. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and have fun with it. Because unlike other forms of creative expression, with culinary arts, you get to eat your masterpieces:) And I loved eating this one!

  • 1 package (9 to 12 oz) gluten free cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus a tblsp
  • 6 tblsp butter
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 tblsp instant espresso coffee powder (divided)
  • 4 (8 oz) cream cheese packages, softened
  • 1/3 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour)
  • 7 eggs, whisked up
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy or whipping cream
  • 2 tblsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate or 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • On bottom rack in oven, place a pan half filled with water (this keeps the cheesecake from getting too dry), and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Throw the cookies and a tablespoon of sugar into a food processor and grind up. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, melt 6 tblsp of butter, then add 1 tblsp instant espresso. Stir until dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cookie mixture. Into a 9-inch pie pan, press the crumb mixture onto bottom and up the sides.
  • In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese, remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, flour and melted butter until it's all mixed and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, cream and vanilla until smooth. Set aside 1 cup batter. Pour the rest of the batter into the prepared pan.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate on HIGH for 1 minute or until chocolate is melted. Stir chocolate until smooth, and then stir in the remaining 2 tblsp instant coffee until dissolved. Stir chocolate mixture into the cup of remaining batter until blended. Drop mixture by tablespoon onto the batter and swirl with a knife.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until edges are golden. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat off and let cheesecake stand in oven for 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate over night. Best if made 24 hours ahead.
  • Cut yourself a huge slice and Enjoy!

October 21, 2008

An Evening at Fork Restaurant with Foodbuzz

I have to tell ya, the people at Foodbuzz really know how to treat their featured publishers! Since signing up with them, they've sent me a tote bag, an apron, a spatula, and sweet business cards. Last Thursday, a group of us featured Philadelphia food bloggers, got together at Fork Restaurant, ate some food, drank some wine, and shared some laughs. All on Foodbuzz's dime! How awesome is that! It was one of those times where I just had to give a big thanks to the universe, and of course Ryan from Foodbuzz:) It was funny. I've received a lot of email correspondence from Ryan over the months, and I've always pictured a twenty something, brunette businessman, in a sharp suit with shiny shoes. Much to my surprise, the real Ryan ended up being a twenty something, vivacious, short haired, petite blond woman. Why my mind imagines what it does, I'm sure I'll never fully figure out. She's also a fellow food blogger. Check out her blog: The Pink Spoon.

Getting back to the food. When we arrived we were taken to a private dining hall. We sat at a huge square, slate table. The candles were everywhere, the place settings were sparkling, and the waitstaff couldn't wait to fill our hands with alcoholic beverages. After getting to know each other a bit, we all sat down and began our meal.

After quizzing the waitstaff on their gluten free options, I started off with the Crispy Duck Confit for the appetizer. It came with frisee, roasted quince, bacon, gorgonzola, and lime vinaigrette. It was amazing! The presentation was choice, and the combinations of flavors caused little explosions on my taste-buds.

For the main course I ordered the Poached Salmon in Banana Leaf. It was made with sesame-miso sauce, tofu, baby bok choy, shiitake and enoki mushrooms. I absolutely loved the presentation. It was like a little tropical care package! When I opened up the banana leaf, a woodsy, earthy aroma, combined with the smells of poached salmon, miso and mushrooms, engulfed me. It tasted so good, I had to share with my neighbors. They also shared their dishes. In fact, our group was very much into sharing everything put in front of us. Ahhh! It reminds me of my year in China:)

For desert I went for the only gluten free option at the time, the Ginger-lemon Panna Cotta. I had no idea what to expect, but was very pleased with what I received. Although it was small, it packed a powerful punch of flavor, and it was presented beautifully. Along with the food, we drank a lot of wine, including some sweet desert wine at the end. All in all, it was a wonderful meal. Thanks Foodbuzz!

If you haven't already, check out. It's loaded with great f
ood-bloggers, and tons of amazing recipes! Plus they totally hook me up, so I've got to give them some props!

October 18, 2008

Chicken Rustigo

I had a great visit from my mom last weekend. The last time we seen each other was at Christmas, which was far too long ago. She drove all the way from Dallas, Georgia, and her visit gave me an excuse to cook and drink a LOT! This dinner dish came from the book "Favorite Brand Name Italian Cooking." After making a visit to where my fiance and I will be having our reception, the three of us stopped at a little wine shop in Delaware and picked up a bottle of Cabernet-Shiraz by Marquis Phillips from Southeastern Australia. I love Marquis Phillips wine! I can actually taste Australia in every glass... as weird as that sounds.

This dish calls for a bit of red wine, so I used the Cabernet-Shiraz, and saved the rest to drink with dinner. The combination of flavors in this recipe are amazing! We all sat at the table slightly dazed after our first bites, so I knew this would be a keeper. Drinking the same wine that was used in the dish rounded the meal off perfectly. Try not to love this one!

I also made the rice differently than I usually do. Since I had more chicken stock on hand, I used it to cook the rice in. I boiled the rice with the chicken stock on med-high for 11 minutes (covered), and then turned the heat off and set the timer for 13 minutes (keeping the cover on). The rice went perfectly with the dish. Try it, you'll like it:)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package (10 oz.) fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup organic GF chicken broth ( I used Pacific Natural Foods brand)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 tblsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • sea salt and pepper

Cooking Directions
  • Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tblsp oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes, or until browned on both sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  • Heat another tblsp of oil in the same skillet over med-high heat until hot. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 or so minutes until tender (stirring occasionally).
  • Stir in the broth, wine and mustard and mix well. Return chicken to the skillet, then add the tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Heat till boiling, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered, 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  • Mix the cornstarch and 1 tblsp of cold water in a small bowl. Stir into skillet and heat to boiling again. Cook, while stirring, over high heat for about 1 minute or until the sauce thickens.
  • Serve with cooked rice (optional)

October 12, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Cookies (Gluten Free!)

Here's another recipe in celebration of the mighty pumpkin. I just love the fall! There's nothing better than autumn hikes, crisp air scented with fallen leaves, followed by hot, spiced apple cider shared among friends and family:) These cookies are soft and moist like little cakes, and are alive with the tastes and smells of Thanksgiving. They are also very easy to make. I've used an electric mixer, and then made them again by hand just to get an arm workout.

You'll love the smells that fill your home while these bake. It creates an amazing feeling of comfort, and fills your head with memories of past holiday feasts. Besides being absolutely yummy, these are actually quite healthy. You can cut the sugar in half and still have a great cookie. These are made to be shared. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (I used "Bob's Wheat Free")
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Baking Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Coat cookie sheets with cooking spray (make sure it's GF)
  3. In a medium size bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth.
  4. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin puree.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and clove.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat well to combine. Add the raisins and nuts in two batches, mixing between additions.
  7. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes until set, not browned.
  8. Transfer to cooling racks.
  9. Harvest and enjoy!

Pumpkin Peanut Sweet Potato Soup

In celebration of the upcoming harvest season, I chose to create a dish with one of October's signature fruits, the mighty pumpkin. This soup has a unique taste, is very hearty, and incorporates another favorite ingredient of mine, the yam! I've never made this before, but I found it to be hearty, its taste... unique, and its feel... the definition of comfort food. It's also very easy to make, and inexpensive to boot! For some reason, I feel like bits of cooked bacon would fit perfectly with this soup. So next time I make this, it'll be time for some swine! Make this as a delicious entree, or as an addition to a festive holiday meal. Either way, if you like peanuts, yams and pumpkin, you'll dig this:)

  • 4 tblsp. (1/2 stick) butter
  • 4 cups canned pumpkin (or leftover cooked and pureed pumpin)
  • 2 cups canned pureed sweet potato
  • 1 cup all natural smooth peanut butter
  • 6 cups organic (gluten free) chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Fresh snipped chives (garnish)
  • Sour Cream (garnish)

Cooking Directions
  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the pumpkin, sweet potato and peanut butter.
  3. Add the chicken stock, pepper & salt, & stir until smooth and fully incorporated.
  4. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Before serving, garnish the soup with snipped chives and sour cream
  6. Make annoying slurping sounds while eating with a ridiculous grin on your face.

October 5, 2008

Almond Fudge Shortbread Squares

Yes, these are gluten free. And yes, these are freaking delicious!!! This was the first time I've made fudge, and I found it easy and fun. I also liked the hands-on aspect of pressing the shortbread dough into the pans. The process was a bit messy, but messy is fun! I can totally see using this short bread dough as a cheesecake crust in the near future. Possibly Pumpkin Cheesecake?!

For flour, I used "Bob's Red Mill Wheat Free Biscuit & Baking Mix" Bob's Red Mill "Wheat Free Biscuit & Baking Mix I used an artificial Almond extract which had vanillin in it. From everything I've read, vanillin is gluten free. But for a link to a dialogue on the topic, click here. I really wanted all natural almond extract, but hey, you've got to work with what you can get. I ended up doubling this recipe so that I would have enough to share with my coworkers during our Friday training workshop. I had WAY more than enough! I ended up sharing with my partner's coworkers, as well as my neighbors, and still had enough to contribute to my gut-building process. Beware! These are habit forming!

Makes 24 to 36 Bars

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose gluten free flour or baking mix
  • 1 (12 oz.) package Semi-Sweet chocolate chips (check the ingredients for gluten)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • Sliced almonds (toasted optional)

Baking Directions
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl until fluffy. Add flour and mix well. With GF floured hands, press the dough evenly into a greased (vegetable oil sprayed) 13 x 9 inch baking pan. You many need to flour your hands repeatedly.
  3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven.
  4. Melt chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat once all the chips have melted and stir in the almond extract.
  5. Quickly and evenly spread the chocolate mixture over the baked shortbread. Garnish with the sliced almonds and press them down into the chocolate with your hands.
  6. Throw it in the fridge and let cool for a few hours (or until firm).
  7. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature.
  8. Eat up and enjoy with a tall glass of milk (or soy milk)

September 29, 2008

Spicy Acapulco Chicken

Here's another one of those gluten free dishes you can throw together in a snap. It's made with basic, inexpensive, wholesome ingredients and tastes awesome! This has a bit of a kick, but nothing tongue-melting. Serve it up with rice and you're good to go.

I don't have much time on my hands these days, so making fast and easy meals are a must. Plus I have to post it up and share it! It's funny, but I actually look forward to posting new recipes. It's a way to unwind and relax, plus I'm forced (internally) to constantly create new culinary delights to devour. And I love eating, so it works out quite nicely:)

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large tomato, cut into chunks
  • 15 drops of hot peeper sauce ( I used Texas Pete Hot Sauce)
  • 1 tblsp chili powder (divided)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • Salt & Pepper

Cooking Directions
  1. Throw the chopped up chicken into a bowl. Add 1/2 tablespoon chili powder and salt and pepper to taste and mix up well.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add the seasoned chicken and saute for 4 minutes or so until no longer pink. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the skillet.
  3. Toss the chopped green pepper and onion into the chicken oil and stir fry until soft. Then add the jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, hot pepper sauce, plus the remaining 1/2 tablespoon chili powder and cook for another 4 minutes (stirring often). Finally, toss in the cooked chicken and stir fry for 2 minutes more.
  4. Eat!

September 24, 2008

Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp

I didn't plan on posting this recipe, but after a few bites I just had to share! My partner Mindy found this in one of our Cooking Light magazines, and we altered it a bit to suit our tastes. This is another of those dishes that tastes better the next day, so be sure to make enough for leftovers.

Red curry paste comes in a wide range of heat levels, so keep that in mind when deciding how much to add. We used a milder red curry paste, so adding two teaspoons made this turn out perfect. However, two teaspoons of a hotter version could melt your tongue off! Be wary and add a little at a time and taste-check, if all you can get is the hot stuff.

You can also use any size shrimp you'd like, but my suggestion would be to keep it simple and use pre-cooked shrimp. It was so good that we almost ate it all up before taking a picture. That's why the plate in the pic is so small; that's all that was left!

In the following ingredient list, you'll notice there are two ingredients that are optional. We didn't have any green onions on hand, but while we were eating we both realized how great they would have been if added to this dish. The original recipe also didn't call for frozen vegetables, but we had some so we added them. We also used dried basil, but that was only because we didn't have any that was fresh. I'd highly recommend using fresh basil.

  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp. mild red curry paste (make sure it's GF)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp. fish sauce (make sure it's GF)
  • 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (optional)
  • 1 tblsp. fresh chopped basil

Cooking Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-hight heat. Add the chopped onion and curry paste to the pan. Saute for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in the sugar and saute for another 15 to 20 seconds.
  2. Add the frozen vegetables, stirring constantly, saute till cooked (about 3 minutes), then add shrimp and saute for another minute or so.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and fish sauce; cook for a couple of minutes (or until thoroughly heated).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the green onions and the basil. Serve with your choice of rice. Enjoy! Because I know you will:)

September 19, 2008

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

I scoured through my cookbook library looking for the simplest way to make coconut macaroons, and found this easy recipe in the book: "The American Test Kitchen Family Cookbook". On my last day of our student-placement orientation, we were required to bring something in for a pot-luck lunch. I knew I wanted to offer something sweet, but I didn't have a lot of time to make it. These cookies were exactly what I was looking for.

Some of my earliest childhood memories involved hot sand beaches, palm trees, air-boats, hunting alligators and eating fresh cut coconuts. Some people have issues with the texture of coconut, but I happen to love it. And of course, everything is better with chocolate! Although I didn't do it for the macaroons pictured, one way to remedy the stringy texture often associated with macaroons, is to first pulse the shredded or flaked coconut in a food processor. Than way it ends up more like a coconut meal. To make sure that they are nice and moist, just cover the final mixture with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for a while. The longer the coconut has to soak up the egg whites, the softer the end product. As far as the egg whites are concerned, I found it much easier to just buy a carton of liquid egg whites. Why waste all that yolk?

These were a big hit with my coworkers, as well as with my partner's. I even had people tell me that they don't like coconut, but loved eating these. It just goes to show you, it's all about quality and presentation. Coconut lovers beware, these are seriously habit forming. I've given most of them away, just so I don't eat them all myself!

  • 5 cups (20 ounces) sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
  • 8 large egg whites (or 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract (or vanilla)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • chocolate morsels (make sure they're GF)

Cooking Directions
  1. Put all the coconut into a large bowl.
  2. Place the egg whites, sugar, salt, and almond extract into a mixer on medium high until light and foamy.
  3. Stir the egg mixture into the bowl of coconut and combine well. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for at least 1/2 an hour.
  4. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly coat with vegetable oil spray.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  6. Either use a 1-inch ice cream scoop, or wet your hands and roll the coconut mixture into tablespoon-sized balls. Space the coconut balls about 1 inch apart.
  7. Bake the macaroons for 8 minutes, and then switch and rotate them in the oven. Bake for another 8 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown. You may have to cook them longer. If you under-cook these, they'll fall apart when you try to handle them (and especially when dipping them in chocolate).
  8. Let the macaroons cool completely on the baking sheet (about 30 minutes).
  9. Once the macaroons are cool, place sheets of wax paper on a table. Fill a microwavable bowl with chocolate morsels and microwave for bursts of 30 seconds at a time, being sure to stir often.
  10. When your bowl of liquid chocolate is ready, simply dip the bottoms of the macaroons in the chocolate and place on the sheets of wax paper to cool. It may take a while for the chocolate to solidify on the bottom of the macaroons, so cover them with plastic wrap while cooling to keep their insides moist.
  11. Eat and be merry!

September 14, 2008

Gluten Free M&M Cookies

This recipe combines two of my favorite sweets: M&Ms and Chocolate Chip Cookies (CCCs)! M&M cookies are simply any CCC recipe where you substitute the chocolate chips with M&Ms (try using Peanut M&Ms with this. YUM!). I'm pretty sure that M&Ms are gluten free. Every time I surf the web I find lots of data to back that up. However, when I was in Australia I picked up a pack of Peanut M&Ms and as I was reading the ingredients, I discovered that "wheat flour" was listed. I quickly spit out my half-chewed candy and tossed the rest of the bag to my friend Damian. What would be the purpose of adding wheat flour? Thinking it had something to do with them being "Peanut M&Ms," I examined a plain M&M bag and discovered the same thing. So the whole time I was in the land down under, I was deprived of one of my favorite snacks. But no longer!!

This particular recipe comes from the "Nestle Toll House, best-loved Cookies" book. I love this book! It has 70 of their most requested cookies, bars and brownies, making it a treasure chest for the sweet-toothed. Make a bunch of these and share. People will love you for it!

You can use absolutely any all-purpose GF baking mix for this, but I used the flour concoction below.

The Following gluten-free flour recipe was adapted from the book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy by Bette Hagman.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xantha

Cookie Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (make sure it's GF!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cooking Instructions (for about 4 dozen cookies)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each one until well combined.
  4. Gradually mix in the flour mixture.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips and the chopped walnuts (if you're into nuts).
  6. Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop (or spoon), drop onto an ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes, and then transfer to cooling rack.
  9. Share and enjoy:) !

September 10, 2008

Simple Gluten Free Cornbread

Corn bread was the first gluten free bread I experimented with. There are a ton of different ways to make corn bread, but this recipe pairs particularly well with spicy dishes due to its sweetness. A problem that many gluten free breads have is moisture content. A trick I've learned is to simply add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water to every recipe. gluten free flour tends to quickly soak up any liquid you add to it, making it rather clumpy and hard to pour into baking dishes. Experiment a little and add water anytime you are making GF baked goods. You'll be able to see and feel the difference. Another tip is to add yogurt to baked good recipes. I usually add organic vanilla yogurt, but any yogurt (make sure its GF) works well.

The following corn bread recipe was adapted from the book: Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant. I thought it was really good, as did everyone who attended my good friend Erika's Labor Day Party. However, next time I'll add more corn meal, as well as freshly ground peppercorns to the dough before baking. Any all-purpose gluten free flour will work with this recipe, but I used my own mixture (outlined below). Erika has graciously "volunteered" to be my guest writer for this entry. Following my recipe for corn bread is a recipe for "Eggplant Black Bean Chili" (pictured behind my GF cornbread). You'll love it! It's spicy, healthy, easy to make, vegetarian, and one of my favorite dishes.

The Following gluten-free flour recipe was adapted from the book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy by Bette Hagman.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

Corn Bread Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup white or yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup water (optional, but may help keep bread from being too dry)

Cooking Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, yogurt, milk, oil, salt, brown sugar and water until well blended. Sift in the baking powder and whisk until foamy.
  3. Add the cornmeal and flour to the mixture and blend well. Beat it until the batter is smooth.
  4. Pour batter into an oiled 9-inch square or 10-inch round baking pan.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Chow down!

Eggplant & Black Bean Chili

By: Erika K.

I was honored when Trav asked me to make a guest appearance on his website. I would say that's a pretty good indicator that his "mmm, this is so good" was legit instead of being a plite statement to the hostess. I made this recipe for a Labor Day Bash that I hosted, also featuring my brand new set of plates that I purchased just hours before. For the majority, chili is meant to be eaten out of bowls. However, if you're a shopaholic like me, you work with things to make things fit. So, I took great care to make the chili chunky so it wouldn't be swimming around my new plates and mixing with the other goodies that guests brought to the party. I modified the recipe from the Dean & Deluca Cookbook to make it simpler and more practical to everyday cooking. The other great thing about this is that it's vegetarian so people like me can enjoy it.


  • 1 medium/large sized eggplant, unpeeled, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch cupes or smaller
  • Sea salt for sprinkling the eggplant (plus additional to taste)
  • Cooking spray or olive oil for sauteing
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans
  • 7-10 mushrooms (optional), chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (Dean & Deluca sells them in powder form in a tin can)

Cooking Directions

  1. Sprinkle the eggplant cubes with sea salt and let it stand for about 30 minutes.
  2. Spray a large pot with cooking spray or heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring for about 4 minutes until mostly cooked. Add eggplant to the pot and continue stirring for about 5-7 minutes until all the vegetables are tender and thoroughly cooked.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Drain can of tomatoes and add to the pot; if you perfer soupier chili, you can add some of the liquid from the can of tomatoes to your liking. If you want to add mushrooms, you can add them now. Add cayenne pepper and stir for about a minute.
  4. Drain can of beans and add to the pot; if you want your chili to be soupier, you can add some of the liquid from the can of beans. Stir. Season to taste with the sea salt. If you feel the chili could use some more kick, add some more cayenne pepper. Let it simmer over low heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring it 2-3 times in between.
  5. Serve in your favorite dinnerware.
  6. Chili is yummy by itself, alongside freshly baked cornbread and yam fries (compliments of Trav and Dana), with your favorite toppings, or over your favorite GF grains.


Just So You Know...

The information presented in this blog is intended to educate and entertainment. However, I'm not a medical expert.  I also do not know absolutely everything about Celiac Disease.  What I do know has been learned through trial and error, research, and what has been taught to me by friends who also share my food-related affliction.  Please take the time to do your own research about Celiac Disease and gluten-related issues.  I have a list of links to useful resources along the left-side of this blog. Also, feel free to cross-check my statements. If you find contrary information, please let me know. Thanks so much for visiting Trav's Gone Gluten Free!