Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Pumpkin milk shake for Heidi

I have been fighting a sweet tooth all day, there is nothing in the house and I am not in the mood to bake, so I thought up this quick semi-sweet treat inspired by my friend Heidi. She loves anything with pumpkin in it almost to a creepy level. I could just see us whipping up a batch of these and vegging out to an episode of "Bondi Beach."

It's not as thick of a shake as I would like, but if you just need something low calorie and quick to hold you over, this is definitely the treat for you!

2/3 cup pumpkin purée
1 cup almond milk
1 and 1/2 tablespoon powdered milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon sugar
Dash (or dashes) of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on low until smooth.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Ham and Mushroom Stuffed Manicotti

So this recipe is definitely not Gluten Free, but its so delicious it might be worth that tummy ache. ;)

Its complicated and tedious, to so make sure you start cooking before you are hungry. This a a great dish for parties, potlucks and "New Mommy" drop offs. I have never delivered this dish with out a subsequent recipe request. You will enjoy this one.

14 Manicotti Shells
3 Tablespoon Butter
1 Cup Minced  Fresh Mushrooms
2 Cups Minced Ham

1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

¼ Cup Butter

¼ Cup Flour

1/8 Teaspoon White Pepper

½ Teaspoon Salt

3 Cups Milk

1 ½ Cup Shredded Havarti Cheese

½ Cup Parmesan Cheese

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook Manicotti as directed on box, set aside to cool.  In Large skillet melt first quantity of butter, sauté Mushrooms over medium heat until mushrooms are done. Remove from heat and mix together minced ham, first amount of Parmesan cheese and dash of white pepper. Set aside to cool.
Once completely cooled place ham and mushroom mixture into a food processor and mince until crumbly in texture.

In a large sauce pan, melt remaining butter; add flour while stirring constantly until flour turns a golden brown color. Add milk one cup at a time while stirring, and then add the salt and rest of white pepper. Stir with a whisk constantly to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and add Havarti Cheese, stir to melt cheese.

Fill manicotti shells with ham mixture and place in a greased 13 x 9in baking pan. Pour cheese sauce over shells. Bake, covered for 40-45 minutes, uncover and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until top is slightly brown and cheese is bubbling.

Mashed Spiced Pumpkin

This was a spontaneous creation inspired by a trip to a pumpkin patch on a night I had dinner guests. Its very dangerous to test out new recipes on guests, but I took a risk and it turned out beautifully!

2 Fresh Pie Pumpkins
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons cup Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Melted Butter
3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
1/2 Teaspoon Salt


Using a sharp knife, quarter and clean out the pie pumpkins.

Place pumpkins pieces in a steamer and steam for approximately 12 minutes or until you can stab a fork completely through the flesh with no resistance. (in the picture below I have a 'fresh' pumpkin piece next to a pumpkin piece that is finished steaming...notice the difference in color and texture)

Once the pumpkin is finished, remove from the pot and set aside to cool Be careful as the pumpkin will fall apart easily and if you drop it and splatters it will burn the snot out of you!

Then once the pumpkin meat is cool enough to tough, using an ice cream scooper, scoop out all the pumpkin meat and place in a bowl. Mash with a potato masher and add the remanding ingredients. Depending on the consistency you like, you might want to dig out your food processor or mixer to create a smoother texture. I used a hand mixer and was able to get it very smooth and creamy. Be sure you test your creation prior to serving in case you need to adjust any spices. If the flavors of the spice is too strong adding a few tablespoons of white sugar will help.

I saved the tops of the pumpkins to use as a garnish and I also sprinkled it with dried Cilantro. :)

Pork Scallopini with Mustard Creme

This is my "go to" recipe when I have company over. Its easy, elegant and the flavors are so unique and complimentary that you will literally be licking your plate (or at least wanting to)

2lbs Pork Scallopini (thinly sliced pork)
2 Tablespoons Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2/3 cup dry Vermouth (or white cooking wine)
2/3 cup GF Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Honey Dijon Mustard OR 1/2 Tablespoon Stone Ground Mustard
DASH of Nutmeg OR Allspice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pour oil in a nonstick skillet and heat to medium high heat. Lightly coat the meat with the the all purpose flour and and cook quickly in the oil. Set aside and keep warm.

Pour the Vermouth, broth and lemon juice into the skillet and whisk together to mix in all the tasty bits and remove any potential lumps. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to half. Remove from heat and whisk in cream, mustard and spices.

Pour sauce over warmed meat and serve!

Best EVER G-free pancakes!

I made these pancakes this morning and they where the BEST EVER! This is a recipe I pulled off and modified to make it slightly healthier. (no fake sugar, potato flour or corn oil here!) I'm not a big pancake fan as I always seem to burn them, but for some reason even I couldn't mess these up. They where perfectly golden brown and not at all gummy!

1 cup rice flour
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoon tapioca starch
4 tablespoons powdered milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups water

In a bowl, mix the rice flour, tapioca starch, dry milk powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Whisk with a wire whisk until very well blended.

Whisk in eggs, water, and butter until well blended and few lumps remain.

Heat a large, well-oiled skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Spoon batter onto skillet and cook until bubbles begin to form. Flip, and continue cooking until golden brown on bottom.

Serve immediately with pure maple syrup!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Julie's Party Guacamole

2-4 Ripe Avacados
1 Roma tomato, diced and cleaned (no seeds)
1/4 cup sweet onion, diced
Juice of 1/2 a lime

Salt and pepper
Garlic salt to taste
Diced fresh cilantro to taste
Italian seasoning to taste (optional)


Place avocados in a medium size bowl along with the rest of the ingredients. Mash with a fork until desired consistency has been reached. Add more spices until in Julie's words "it just tastes good."

Sugar Subsitutions

I never let a little thing like not having the correct ingredients keep me from cooking the dishes I love. Here are some sugar substitutions I have learned over the years to cut cost or to cut calories. :)

1 cup of sugar equals:

1 and 1/3 cup real Molasses
3/4 cup Grade A Maple Syrup
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Honey
3/4 cup fruit juice (reduce any other liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons)

When substituting you need to accept the fact that the dish will be different.

If you are having company over it might be worth a trip to the neighbors house to borrow that cup of sugar. It's not fair to your guests to use them as guinea pigs in your latest creation!

I have certainly had my fair share of "ewww that doesn't taste right. "

Garlic Rice

This is the only Filipino recipe that I have gotten the "Wow, just like Moms!" This is a very simple and easy way to spice up your rice. You can substitute Garlic Rice for plain white rice in most Filipino recipes that call to be served with rice.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 and 1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 and 1/2 garlic salt
4 cups cooked white rice (not minute rice)
Ground pepper to taste


Heat oil on medium high heat in a skillet. Add garlic and cook until golden brown. Do NOT allow garlic to burn.

Stir in cooked rice and sprinkle with garlic salt. Continue stirring and "frying" rice until it's nicely coated and starts to look glassy. Season with pepper and serve immediately.

Monday, October 17, 2011

White Girl Chicken Adobo (crock pot)

My Filipino husband is not crazy about this recipe because it isn't like "what mom used to make" but it's good enough for me and will be good enough for you and your non native taste buds.

In authentic adobo the amount of vinegar involved would make your eyes water and your kitchen smell awful. The vinegar literally pickles the chicken, which would enable the food to be kept for days without refrigeration.

3lbs of chicken pieces
1/2 cup soy sauce (make sure it's GF if you need it to be!!)
3/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 entire bulb of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (or 2 teaspoons powdered ginger)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 bay leaves
3 potatoes, quartered

2 cups cooked white rice, served hot

Preheat slow cooker to high heat.

Wash and dry chicken pieces and then place in the slow cooker.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, pepper, and crushed garlic. Pour over the chicken pieces and place the bay leaves in the pot. Place the potatoes on top of the chicken. DO NOT STIR ingredients!

Place lid on cooker and leave it alone. Every time you open the lid you ad an hour of cook time! After the first hour turn the heat down to low if you are home. Otherwise don't worry about it.

Cook for 6-7 hours and serve over hot rice.

Filipino Stew

I love this stew. It's cheap and ridiculously easy. It's a wonderful meal on a night when you don't have much time or feel like snuggling on the couch while watching a movie. I don't know the cultural name for this stew and my husband said he never had anything like this growing up, so I can't vouch for it's authenticity, only it's delish-enticity :)

5 minced cloves of Garlic
1/2 onion chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
3 potatoes, quartered
1lb lean ground beef or turkey
Seasoning Salt, salt and pepper to Taste

2 cups cooked rice, served hot


Heat a large cast iron stew pot on high heat (or if using a regular pot on medium high heat)

Put the ground meat in the pot then place chopped onions and can of tomatoes on top of meat and stir. Sprinkled generously with seasoning salt and let cook for 2 minutes then add garlic.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the beef broth and potatoes. Simmer until meat is done and potatoes are tender. Season with salt, pepper and seasoning salt to taste.

Serve on top of hot rice.

Amazing on a budget

I have been getting a lot of requests for Filipino Recipes lately since it's good eating on a if you are looking to get debt free ala Dave Ramsey (and beans and rice makes you want to gag) or you just want to trying something new, stay tuned and be prepared to be amazed at what just $2.50 a meal can make you.

Lazy GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nothing cheers me up like cookies, and nothing makes me want to cry like the thought of never having them again. So today I decided to convert my old favorite cookie recipe to GF.

1 and 1/4 cup GF all purpose baking mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup soften butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup regular organic sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 package GF chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a small bowl mix together with a wire whisk the Xanthan Gum, flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Pour flour into large bowl and stir a few times with a wooden spoon (so you don't get a giant dust cloud happening when you turn on the mixer) then turn the mixer back on and beat at low speed until just blended.

Stir in chocolate pieces.

(here comes the "lazy" part in my lazy cookies, since I don't have the time/will power to roll the dough into tiny balls- when I want cookies, I want them now!)

Liberally grease a STONE baking sheet and then pour the cookie dough on the sheet. Smooth out the dough until it looks like it's all even with no spot thicker than the other. Don't worry if the dough is not touching all sides of the pan.

Now place in the preheated oven (MUST be preheated to correct temp!) and bake exactly 10 minutes for gooey cookies or 12 for crisp cookies. Remove immediately from the oven and let cookies cool ON the stone ware. The heat in the pan continues to cook the cookies underneath for about 5 minutes giving them an amazing crust.

Once cooled, use a pizza cutter to cut into cute little bars and ENJOY!! :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Coconut Crepes [[take two]] SUCCESS!!

I finally found a new coconut crepe recipes that was absolutely delish- here you go!!


2 tablespoons sifted Organic Coconut Flour
2 tablespoons Organic Virgin Coconut Oil or butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole milk


Blend together eggs, oil, sugar and salt. Thoroughly mix in coconut flour or use a blender to get it extra smooth. Stir in coconut milk. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a small skillet. Pour a quarter of the batter into the skillet; immediately rotate skillet until a thin even layer of batter covers the bottom of the skillet. Crepe should be about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Cook until batter is bubbly and cooked around the edges. Flip crepe with a greased spatula and cook other side. Cover one side of crepes with your choice of chopped fruits, nuts or jelly.(I used blueberries) Roll up and sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with whipped cream. Makes 4 crepes. (just double the recipe to make more)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bagels are bad

Why is this so hard? I wish I had the self control of the people I read about in gluten free cook books who "never looked back" and quit gluten cold turkey.

Like today, when faced with an amazing cream and blueberry filled croissant I thought to myself "just this once!" but sure enough, not even an hour later while in Mass, I am having intense (INTENSE!) symptoms. It's like every time I eat bread, the symptoms are worse than the last time.

I'm heart broken. This is not fair!!

As I sat in pain and watched my family gorge themselves on bagels and cream cheese after Mass I promised myself that yet again- never again will I eat bread.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Slowcooker Acorn Squash Stew

I love slow cooker meals for when I know I am going to be busy, like grocery shopping day or when I am just feeling lazy- like today.

1lb beef stew meat
1 tablespoon Marjoram
5 cloves of garlic diced
1/2 large red onion chopped
1 acorn squash quartered and cleaned
1/3 cup GF chicken broth
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat the slow cooker to "high" while you prepare the veggies. You always want the slow cooker to start out and cook for at least an hour on high to quickly get food up to a safe temperature. Nobody likes food poisoning :)

Mix all ingredients (except for the Acorn Squash) and place in the slow cooker.

Lay the squash skin side up on top of the stew and your done! [[see photo below]]

How easy was that?!

Cook on high for 3 hours then turn down to low heat for 3 remaining hours.

When ready to serve, scoop the squash out and remove the skin.(careful, it's hot!!)

Place the squash meat in a bowl and ladle the stew on top of it.

This stew is perfect for fall and on a budget! Since the squash is in season I was able to make this quick meal to feed a family of 4 for $7.00 and have enough left over for husband's lunch tomorrow!

Lactose/Gluten Free Chocolate Soufflé

Cooking healthy gourmet on a tight budget is my favorite challenge. To me nothing is more satisfying then taking a traditional recipe and tweaking it to make it healthier, cheaper and no one being able to tell the difference.

So when my darling husband finally caved and allowed me to buy four little soufflé dishes yesterday. I was thrilled to have a new challenge, considering I had never even had a soufflé, let alone made one!

I scoured the Internet for the perfect recipe and I found a chocolate one that I figured I could make "mine" with little affect on the end result.

The recipe called for diced bittersweet chocolate squares- which I had none of- so I used 1/3 cup of Pure Dutch Cocao powder (like literally- we bought this stuff in Belgium last year!!) and whisked in Trader Joe's gluten free/ lactose free creamer until it was a creamy consistency then set a side whilst I got busy making egg whites peak.

The secrete to making egg whites peak is to have them at room temperature and to add a dash of salt. I used a hand held mixer with a whisk attached and beat the eggs on medium for about 10 minutes.

Once the egg whites are stiff its all about technique of "folding." I personally find it easiest to use a spatula and go slow. Very slow.

The best way I can describe how to fold is to scoop out the whites and place them on top of the chocolate mixture-gently. Then "cut" the chocolate while gently flicking your wrist as you bring the chocolate to the top and folding it over the whites. The secret to a fluffy soufflé really is just patience I think.

So after all the mixing, folding, taking pictures and answering stupid questions of "why are you taking pictures of your food" I was ready to pour into the soufflé dishes.

I filled them pretty full and then placed the cups on a stone dish since my metal cookie sheets are cheap and tend to pop in the oven. I didn't want any lopsided deflated desserts after all that hard work.

After a quick bake in the oven my little treasure cups where ready. I must say, all that hard work was worth it. I think they turned out heavenly.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Coconut Crepes [[take one]]

I love Crepes. I love Coconut. Put the two together and it sounds like heaven...right?

I dont know what I did wrong. These things where not "Crepes" at all. More like Fluffy, Gooey, Grainy, Delicious Pancakes...good...but Crepes.

Here is the recipe:

1 Cup Coconut Milk
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Coconut Flour
3 Eggs
Coconut Oil for coating the pan

I love to alter recipes, and I consider myself to be a fairly advanced cook (hell, I made a Souffle today people- so I figured, what would be the big deal substituting a few ingredients in the above recipe for more budget friendly ingredients that I already had in my pantry. After all, I wanted crepes NOW, not after a Trip to Trader Joes.

 So here is the recipe I used with my alterations:

1 Cup Almond Milk
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Coconut Flour
2 Eggs
Butter for Coating the pan

So I'm thinking I messed up in several places...not enough eggs one and two, using real butter to coat the pan instead of the high heat stable coconut oil. I'm learning people. Dont judge me!

After this breakfast fail I researched coconut flour properties and I learned that coconut flour is a slow cook-er (yes, I just made up that word) so when I lathered up my stainless steal skillet (on medium heat) with butter, poured on the coconut batter, and waited for it to 'bubble' and behave like a regular crepe I got impatient. Its hard to wait 10 minutes to flip one crepe at a time, when you have a hungry husband and toddler pacing and fussing in the kitchen about how "nangey" (Toddler speak for hungry) they I cranked up the heat on that bad boy, burnt the butter, flipped the soggy crepe and crossed my fingers that they would be too hungry to notice it was all crumbly.

I love my husband. That man eats anything I put in front of him- usually with little fuss.

He ate two burnt, soggy-crumbly Coconut "crepes" smothered in Strawberry sauce like a champ. He even had the smarts to tell me "Mmm..yeah, honey- its good" before he promptly put his plate away before he could be awarded seconds.

Get your TOMS on, its time for SPARKCON!

Yesterday we went to Raleigh,NC to check out downtown and stumbled upon "sparkcon" which is sort of a College Street Art Fair with interpretive dancing, live music, art displays and various other things to make you feel completely out of touch with what all the "cool" young people are doing.

I came armed with my GF snack bag and an apple, but that still did not prepaired me for the scent of Funnel Cakes wafting thorugh the crowd. I swear, I can smell that junk a mile away- so since I am stupid and seem to have the memory of a goldfish, I had my sweet husband buy me a little piece of deep fried heaven. I plopped down on the street corner to indulge in my sin. Only three bits in and the cramps started...but "too late now...I'm half way there" I thought to myself as I finished off my half of the cake and quickly pushed the twinges of pain out if my mind.

Sure enough, that night, I'm skipping dinner and laying on the couch moaning and thinking guilt deflecting thoughts of "why didn't you stop me!!!" as I watch my husband clear off the table from dinner.

Carb addiction is a serious problem.

In the beginning

I don't have Celiacs desease. I don't even officially have a gluten intolerance diganoises. All I know is that I feel like complete and total junk when I eat grain products.

I have been this way most of my life.

I remember as a child being force fed caster oil and being told I would develop hemorods because I spent too much time in the bathroom. I remember picking off the breading on my chicken nuggets, refusing hamburger buns and cringing at the sight of French Toast just to be told "you're weird."

In high school I swore off bread completely and with the new "Adkins diet" craze gaining steam it made life easier (and not so odd in North Texas) to avoid grain products. I managed to maintain a healthy weight, grow my nails out, finally get 'regular' and everything was awesome in life- until I got pregnant for the first time. I was informed by my dr that the baby "needed" grain products to grow properly, so being young, uneducated and below the poverty line, I scarfed up all the bread products that WIC and the Food Stamp program could throw at me.

During the pregnancy, I quickly gained 60+ pounds and felt miserable. Finally on Thanksgiving Day, 2003, tipping the scales at 198lb- I gave birth to my sweet first born son, "M."

Fast forward trough a divorce, weird auto immune liver disease diagnose, photosensitive allergy development, a new marriage, secondary infertility, the birth of another son, a heart crushng miss-carriage, tertiary infertility and about 40lbs I can't shake and you have me here now.

You've found me at a good time. I'm going home, back to my roots (no, I've not 'gone country')

I am going back gluten free, and here is my story.