Thursday, August 30, 2012

Throwing My First Party Since Going Gluten-Free

"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." - Mark Twain

Last night I had girlfriends over. We exchanged books, drank wine, and caught up on each other’s lives. Very relaxing and fun. 

This was the first event I’ve hosted since going gluten-free. I debated whether I wanted to serve all gluten-free foods, a mix of devil food and gluten-free, or what. My main worry was that people who weren’t gluten-free wouldn’t like the snacks, and I live to please--so I was feeling wary.

Since there were two other potential gluten-free friends coming, I decided to try to make everything gluten-free. I also wanted to make things relatively healthy, so this would be a real challenge!

To my delight, at the end of the night every plate was sparkling clean! Well, maybe one or two carrot sticks remained.   

Here’s a quick list of what I served, if you want to throw your own easy gluten-free snacks!

Plate 1: Fresh veggie plate: baby carrots, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes. This combo makes for an eye pleasing mix of colors, and they are super easy to eat and dip. The tomatoes were fresh from my garden, which always motivates people to try one!

Plate 2: Veggie Octopus. Green and yellow bell pepper, cut in slices, with a cherry tomato in the center. Cute, fun, and tasty!

Plate 3: Cracker plate. Two lines of Archer Farms Brown Rice Sesame Rice Crackers (note: they have a warning label that they are made in a factory that uses wheat), one line of Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins, and one line of Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins Cheddar Cheese.

(click the picture for the amazon link)

Plate 4: Annie’s Snickerdoodle Bunny Cookies. (for dipping in the Wildtree chocolate cheesecake dip—not pictured since it was in the fridge until the guests came!)

(click the picture for the amazon link)

Plate 5: Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

(click the picture for the amazon link)

Bowl 1: Tastefully Simple Garlic, Garlic dip. (used light mayo and light sour cream) Used for dipping both crackers and veggies.  Made in a facility that processes wheat.

(click the picture for the amazon link)

Bowl 2: Tastefully Simple Sweet Bell Pepper Mix. (used light mayo and light sour cream) Used for dipping both crackers and veggies.  Made in a facility that processes wheat.

Total prep time was 1 hour. Super fast and easy, and all the foods went over great. You certainly don’t have to use these products to serve gluten-free, these are just some suggestions and ideas. If you can’t find the dips, ranch dressing (just make sure its gluten-free) is also a easy and popular dipping sauce. 

And remember friends, almost all wines are gluten-free!

Served 8. 

 (my sister Michelle, left, Me, right)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Honey-Orange Glazed Carrots

“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.” - Oscar Wilde

I was about to squeeze lemon juice on my carrots, making myself a traditional parsley carrot dish, when I thought waaaiiiitt...I have half an orange in the fridge. I wonder how that would taste on carrots? The answer...sweet and wonderful. I hope you enjoy it too. 

1 1/2 cups water
1 lb baby carrots
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 fresh orange
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
dash of pepper

Step 1: Bring the water to a boil in a medium sized pan and cook the carrots on medium-high heat, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the excess water.

Step 2: To the pan add butter or margarine, honey,  juice from ½ orange, seasoned salt, and dash of pepper. Simmer on low an additional 2-5 minutes before serving.

Serves 3-4 sides.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Roasted Red Parsley Potatoes

“Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.” - William Shakespeare

I love potatoes. Love love love them. If I could marry a potato, well...I probably wouldn't, but the fact that I would consider it says something. Here is one of many potato recipes to come!


6-8 medium red potatoes, chopped
2+1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dry parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle with pepper


Step 1: Use 1 tbsp of the oil to coat the bottom of the a tin foil covered baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 400F.

Step 2:  In a medium sized bowl combine potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, paprika, onion powder, parsley, salt, and pepper. Toss the potatoes in the mixture until thoroughly covered.

Step 3: Lay the potatoes on the baking sheet. Cook for 30 minutes.

Serves 3-4 sides.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Just Like Mom's" Spaghetti

"There's no place like home." - The Wizard of Oz

I think it's a universal truth that everyone believes that their mom makes the best spaghetti in the world. It just so happens that, in my case, it's true! I can't even order spaghetti in restaurants because my mom's has ruined me for any other pasta. I remember when I was a little kid and I would smell the sauce slow cooking all day, and I would sneak pieces of sausage when my parent's weren't looking. When I made this last night, I was tempted to just eat the sauce plain, it's that good! I hope you enjoy it, too. 


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package Sweet Italian Sausage
1 green bell pepper
1 package gluten-free spaghetti noodles
1 cup sliced carrots

1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 can tomato paste (12 oz)
I jar traditional Prego spaghetti sauce

1 lb lean hamburger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
2 eggs
2 slices white gluten-free bread (I used Udis)


Step 1: Create your meatballs by combining in a large bowl the hamburger, eggs, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, and bread (toasted and crushed into crumbs).  Roll 1-2 ounces of mixture into a ball to form meatballs.

Step 2: Cut Italian sausage into fourths. Add olive oil to a large pan. Cook on medium heat, covered, the meatballs and Italian sausage for 10 minutes or until done. 

Step 3: To create the sauce mix prego, tomato paste, basil, garlic powder, and sugar in a large pot. Cover and set on low. If the sauce begins to boil, set to simmer. 

Step 4: Chop the green pepper in large slices. Add the carrots, green pepper to the sauce.  Add the contents of the large pan (meatballs, sausage) to the sauce, including excess oil.

Step 5: Set sauce to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally (the longer it cooks, the tastier it gets! Just be sure not to scorch the sauce) 

Step 6: Cook gluten-free spaghetti noodles according to package instructions. Be careful not to overcook!

Step 7: Ladle sauce onto noodles and enjoy!

Serves 4-6. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sweet Basil and Garlic Chicken

“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.” - Elsa Schiaparelli

I was about to make sweet and sour chicken when I realized that I didn't have pineapple juice. Crap! I had someone coming over for dinner and I didn't have time to run out to the store for that essential item. So I tore through my cupboards, threw ingredients into the pan, and hoped for the best. And the best is what I got! I made this exact same chicken for my fiance the next day, it was that good.


1 lb chicken breast strips
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon dried sweet basil
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 chopped green onions (optional)


Step 1: In a large pan, sautee the garlic and grapeseed oil for 2 minutes on medium-high heat.

Step 2: Add chicken broth, onion powder, crushed garlic, butter, basil, and seasoned salt to the pan. Cook on high for 5 minutes. Add  the chicken to the pan and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, turning twice.

Step 3: Turn heat to simmer and cook an additional 10 minutes so the chicken can fully absorb the flavor. (Add optional green onions here).  If your sauce is runny at this point, cook on high an additional 2-3 minutes to thicken, but make sure you take the chicken out first so you don't overcook.

Note: If you use full chicken breasts and not strips be sure to adjust the cook time accordingly. Also, the first time I made this I added chopped green onions, which tasted really good, but I ran out for the second batch. I think I prefer it without only because it didn't change the flavor significantly and it was extra work--but it does look prettier, so not a bad ingredient to add when serving guests! (2 scallions, chopped, added during the simmer step)

Serves 2.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Naughty Nachos: The Perfect Late Night Snack

"What do you call a cheese that isn't yours? Na-cho cheese."

Enjoy serving up this crowd pleaser to guests, or throw in a scary movie and have a night in with this great snack. Remember: you can never have too much cheese!


1/2 package of chorizo sausage
1/2 pound of ground beef 
4 cloves minced garlic 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 cup Monterey Jack cheese 
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 teaspoon onion powder 
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
1/4 red onion 
 3-4 cups Tostitos or other gluten free chip


Step 1: In large saucepan cook minced garlic, sausage, beef, olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder until meats are browned (about 5-10 minutes). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: On a baking sheet lay out the Tostitos and cover with cheese, sliced red onions, and cooked meats. Cook in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.

Step 3: Sprinkle the nachos with the fresh cilantro and salsa. Add the sour cream to the middle, and use a fresh sprig of cilantro for decoration.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Succulent Sour Cream and Onion Pork Chops

"Necessity is the mother of invention."

My dinner plans fell through last night, so I found myself gazing into my half empty refrigerator, unsure of what to make.  I realized that I had pork chops that were nearing the end of their shelf life, so I googled delicious pork chops. I discovered that pork chops and sour cream was a popular combo. My sour cream was close to going bad as well. Score! (No, I don't usually celebrate expiring milk products, but I hate wasting food haha) After reading through a few recipes to get ideas, I came up with this delicious recipe. It's one of my new favorites!

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 large yellow onion (chopped)
1 lb bone-out pork chops
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon earth balance (or butter, if you’re feeling naughty!)


Step 1: Cook onions, garlic (crushed and minced) in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the pork chops and cook an additional 8 minutes, turning half way through.

Step 2: Add to the pork chops 1 cup chicken broth, paprika, fresh parsley, salt, pepper, and onion powder.  Bring broth to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn the chops and stir the onions. Cook an additional 10 minutes.  

Step 3: Uncover mixture and add sour cream and earth balance (or butter), stirring thoroughly. Let simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes.  Enjoy!

Serves 4.  Tastes great over jasmine rice or gluten-free noodles.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Broccoli Bonanza Summer Salad

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” - Henry James

I was really craving a good summer salad to go with burgers, but every salad at the store contained gluten or was super unhealthy. So I adapted this recipe from the "classic broccoli salad" so that it was more healthy yet still perfectly tasty! I hope you enjoy it too!


1 head of broccoli
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
8 pieces cooked turkey bacon (cooked and chopped)
1/2 red onion (chopped in large pieces)
1/3 cup cubed sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup light mayo
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh dill


Step 1: Cut broccoli off the stem and into bite sized pieces. In large bowl combine broccoli, tomatoes, turkey bacon, onion, cheddar cheese. 

Step 2: In small bowl mix mayo, white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and dill. Pour sauce on broccoli mixture and gently toss until all pieces are covered.

Serves 6-8 sides.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mongolian Beef: P.F. Changs Imitation

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." - Charles Caleb Colton

I love P.F. Changs. Not only do they make high quality chinese food, but they also have a gluten-free menu! One thing that isn't on their gluten-free menu is their Mongolian Beef, and I miss it! Here is my best imitation, adapted from this recipe. Enjoy!


1 lb flank steak
1 cup + 2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tsp cornstarch
1 large yellow onion (note: P.F. Changs uses green onion, but I prefer yellow for this recipe. If you want it more like P.F. Changs, use 3 green onions chopped)


Step 1: Cut flank steak into bite sized pieces. In a medium sized bowl, mix 1/4 cup cornstarch and 2 tbsp soy sauce. Toss the flank steak in the mixture and let sit for 5 minutes. 

Step 2: In a large skillet or wok, mix 2 tablespoons canola oil, ginger, garlic, water, brown sugar, 1 tsp cornstarch, and 1/2 cup soy sauce. Heat on high for 3 minutes until sauce begins to caramelize, then reduce heat to simmer. 

Step 3:  In a small skillet or wok, heat 1 cup canola oil on medium high heat. Add flank steak to the oil (don't pour!) using a straining spoon or fork, whatever works best to transfer the beef without dumping in the extra cornstarch mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes. 

Step 4: Remove the steak from the oil and transfer to a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the skillet, and add onion to the oil. Cook covered for 5 minutes. 

Step 5: Transfer the beef and onion to the sauce mixture in the large skillet. Cook on medium/high heat for 4-5 minutes. Served best over jasmine rice!

Serves 2-3.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sweet and Tangy Texas Caviar

"A recipe has no soul.  You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe." - Thomas Keller

One of the best ways to avoid temptation when you go to a party is to bring something gluten-free and fabulous to share, that way you always have something to munch on! This dish is vegetarian as well as gluten-free, and super addictive. Goes great with any gluten-free chip (Tostitos Scoops are a popular choice). 


1/2 lime
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion
2 ears of corn
1 can black eyed peas (15 oz)
1 can pinto beans (15 oz)
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper


Step 1: Grill corn until cooked but not mushy. (If you are low on time, you can wrap the corn in a wet paper towel and microwave for 3 minutes on high, turning once.) Cut the corn off the ear.

Step 2: Chop the bell peppers and  onion. In a large bowl, mix peppers and onion with corn. Add oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. Squeeze the juice from ½ lime into bowl and mix.

Step 3: Empty the pinto beans and black eyed peas into a strainer. Rinse beans and peas thoroughly and add to the large bowl. Toss all ingredients together.

Step 4: Marinate for 1 hour and serve with gluten-free chips of your choice!

Serves 6-12 depending on portion size. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

White Wine Poached Salmon

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.” - W. C. Fields

This recipe comes from an elderly gentleman I met at the grocery store while perusing the meat counter. We got to chatting and he started telling me some of his favorite recipes. He said that he’s made salmon this way “for thirty years”—so of course I had to give his suggestion a try! I adapted it just slightly, and it turned out fabulous!


1 fresh salmon filet with skin on one side
1 cup white cooking wine 
1/4 cup gluten-free chicken broth 
2 teaspoons fresh parsley 
1/4 cup olive oil 
2 cloves chopped garlic 
salt and pepper to taste


Step 1: Sautee the garlic and olive oil for 2-4 minutes in large pan. 

Step 2: Add the chicken broth, parsley, salt and pepper, and wine, and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. 

Step 3: Add the salmon (make sure the sauce is at a low boil – no spitting) and baste with sauce from the pan. Cook the salmon skin side down, covered on medium-low for 10-12 minutes, basting again half way through. Enjoy! :)

Serves 2. Sides in the picture include garlic roasted green beans and cucumber red pepper quinoa.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Incredible Generals

“If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

Chinese food is definitely my guiltiest pleasure. One of the hardest adjustments for me to the gluten-free lifestyle was missing out on chinese takeout. So I learned to make my own generals tsos chicken, and not to toot my own horn, but I think it tastes incredible! The scallions were handpicked from my garden :)

I'm still working on replicating my other chinese food guilty pleasures, so if you have a recipe you think I should try, please send it my way!


1 1b chicken breast (uncooked and cubed)
2 eggs
1/2 cup cornstarch
6-7 dried chili pods
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons white wine
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon soy sauce (gluten-free)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 scallions (chopped)


Step 1: In a large bowl mix the eggs, cornstarch (except for 2 teaspoons), 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Add the cubed chicken and toss so each piece is completely covered. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Step 2: In a large pan or wok heat ½ cup peanut oil on medium heat. Lay paper towels near the wok to place the chicken on after frying. Add the covered chicken pieces into the pan and cook until browned (about 3-4 minutes per side). Place the cooked chicken on the paper towels until all pieces have been fried.

Step 3: Drain the excess oil from the pan except for 1-2 tablespoons. Add the chili pods to the oil and cook them for 2 minutes, or until lightly burned. Cook them longer if you like your general tsos extra spicy!

Step 4: Add rice vinegar, white wine, sugar, 1/3 cup soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of corn starch to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the chicken and continue to cook until all chicken pieces are covered and sauce is caramelized. Toss in the chopped green scallions and serve!

Serves 4.

That cake tried to kill me! And other answers to your FAQ

Why are you eating gluten-free, crazy lady? Cake is awesome!
I 100% agree that cake is awesome. But cake tried to kill me. So now I am forced find other things to love in life. I feel the same way about gluten as Rose did about Jack in Titanic. In my heart, I’ll never let go of gluten…but at the same time I’m willing to pry it's cold dead fingers off my life raft because, dammit cake, I want to live even if it’s without you! After my celiacs diagnosis in May of 2012, I am completely gluten-free!

How did you find out you had celiacs disease?

I had been hospitalized a couple of times in my adult life, before my diagnosis, for gastroenteritis. If you’re not familiar with this term, gastroenteritis is a fancy way of your doctor saying “something is wrong with your stomach but idk wtf?” But in general I had no symptoms.

Then, in May of 2012 I went on a nursing trip to Ecuador. While I was there I ate bread with almost every meal, because that is what was available, and I refused to complain or be picky about food when I was in a developing country! In my normal life I avoided bread because it gave me a bloated, slightly sick feeling. But while in Ecuador, eating bread constantly, I started getting horrible symptoms (diarrhea, nausea, the works). I figured that I’d caught a bug. When I came back to the US I went through multiple rounds of antibiotics, tests, IV hydration therapy, you name it—and I wasn’t getting better. After a few weeks of this I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy and BOOM. Celiacs. After just a few days on the gluten-free diet and I already felt much better!

How do you find time to cook?

Before my diagnosis, my fiancé and I ate out constantly. Now that my choices are more limited, I often either cook or I don’t eat. And I love eating, so I make time to cook! My suggestion for you busy folks out there—double all recipes and freeze half or eat the leftovers the next day (if you’re not opposed to eating the same thing two days in a row). Saves me tons of time!

Isn’t gluten-free just a fad diet?

For some people, it is. Even without a medical reason to go GF, there are a lot of benefits to the diet, like lowering your carbs, eating less processed foods, and the common side effect of increased energy. However, for me it’s not an option. If it was an option, I would be digging into that bread right now (just kidding…kind of)!

What do you miss most about being gluten-free?

Takeout Chinese food!!! My fiancé and I used to do a “tri-fecta” of Chinese restaurants in town. He would pick up the fried rice from one place, I would go to another restaurant for our favorite egg drop soup, and then one of us would pick up our favorite general tsos from another restaurant. We'd meet at home and chow down while watching a scary movie on a perfect Sunday night. It was fun and yummy, so I do miss it. But, soy sauce is usually not gluten free at these restaurants, so I’ve had do learn to cook this myself. My general tsos is pretty awesome. And my fiancé is very supportive, which makes things much easier.  

Also, I’m in my 20’s, so it can be a pain in the butt when I go out with friends to try to eat gluten-free. Thank goodness for smart phones, because I use mine all the time to figure out what is gluten free on the menu!

To be honest though, in general I haven’t had too much trouble adjusting to a gluten-free diet because the benefits have been so great. I never feel sick and bloated like I often did after meals. Maintaining my weight hasn’t been as much of a struggle. I also have a lot more energy than I ever had in my life! So mostly I’m so grateful that I feel healthy that I can’t really complain about missing out on one or two foods.