Thursday, January 10, 2013

Welcome back! Maybe?

After only 20 previous posts, I had to stop writing this blog. I was overwhelmed with a new baby and often times simply forgot to take pictures or even write down what I did when I cooked. I know people can live without photos, but just saying "add this spice until it seems like enough" or "cook it until it is finished cooking" doesn't really fly with people trying a new recipe. So, I walked away from it.

After I stopped writing here, several people asked me more GF recipes. I typed some out plus some ideas. I even sent people who didn't know I had this blog here to get some ideas. I even found myself coming back here to see just how much I used of a spice when I wanted to recreate a dish and couldn't remember what I did before.

But, the big reason I will resume this blog is for people that are new to a GF diet. I see people in the grocery every now and again piling their carts with a ton of overpriced, gluten free goodies. These same people generally have a bewildered look about them and are just waiting for someone else to pick up a gluten free item as a way to break the ice and begin asking questions. This week alone, this happened twice -once while I was getting gluten free bread this past weekend and again today when I was just looking at the items to see if I felt like making myself a tasty baked treat this week.

I mentioned how sad it is to feel that overwhelmed to my husband. "Um, Kari, isn't that why you had that blog? To help people find easy and inexpensive ways to eat gluten free?"  And, he is right.

There is so much more to eating gluten free that just finding something that has that little "GF" in the circle on it. I know that once I understood that going GF really only meant going convenience food free, my world got easier. Those with specialty diets shouldn't look at the grocery store as a place that is filled with things that are off limits. Rather, try thinking about all the wonderful whole foods that are always okay to enjoy.

So, for those that follow and even those that are just dropping by every now and again, start looking for some more recipes to pop up as well as some advice for going GF and ways to transition easier.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweet potato and pork stew - WOW!

 The other morning, I thought I had taken out two pork chops to thaw for dinner. To my surprise, I had taken out  three baby back ribs by mistake. Three ribs? Really? What could I do with only three ribs? I had bought five pounds of sweet potatoes that morning to make our son some yummy sweet potatoes (his favorite, I might add). Since I usually make sweet potatoes when we eat pork, I thought why not put it all together and make it go a little further by making some kind of stew? I made this up as I went along, but knew in the back of my head that I had seen this before in some form. I wound up using baby food in the dish, too. I have apples galore in my freezer, but my son just doesn't like them, so I used them as a base here. The plan worked! Not only did I clear some space by using some unwanted pureed apples, but I also used something I was sure I was going to throw out! Way to save, girl! However, if you don't happen to have 6 ounces of frozen baby apples, I am sure a 50-50 mix of apple sauce and apple juice would work just fine.
NOTE: I know this is an ugly dish. The color is horrible and looks like something that came out of a small child (not in that cute way either). However, this tastes wonderful and ugly or not, I would serve this to company.

Makes four servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Total cost: about $5, or $1.25 a serving

1 very large sweet potato, peeled and chopped large
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic
6 ounces of baby apples (or 50-50 pureed apples and juice)
1 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
3 pork ribs (a little less than one pound)
1 spring of rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sage
2 cups beef broth (I used "Better than Bullion" beef flavor with 2 cups of water)
Soy sauce to taste
fresh pepper
olive oil
2 large carrots

In a large sauce pan or stew pot, add oil, enough to lightly cover the bottom, over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and carrots. Saute for about five minutes, or until onions become transparent and begin to stick. While onions are cooking, cut meat from the bone into bite sized pieces. Leave some meat on the bone. Add meat and bones to the onion, garlic and carrot mix. Allow meat to brown lightly and then add baby apples. Cook for a few more minutes, or until the meat is sticking. Add all remaining ingredients except soy sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and allow to simmer for about an hour. Stir periodically. After an hour, add soy sauce to taste (I used about 20 shakes). Simmer for another hour. The potatoes should break down some to make the stew thick.

I think I would like to try adding chick peas to it next time to make it go further. Yum!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Enchilada Casserole (my husband's all time favorite dish I make!)

This dish originally started out as a basic enchilada casserole but has evolved into a highly versatile dish that I change up every time I make it depending on what I have in the house. This is a favorite in my house. For me, it is super easy and a complete meal by itself. For my husband, well, he thinks it just tastes good. He requests this for special meals, which I gladly do. I have made this vegetarian before, subbing tofu and beans for meat, which was awesome. Find a good cheese substitute and you have yourself a pretty good vegan dish too. This is also a dish that lends itself well to freezing. While I was pregnant, I made this just to freeze so we could have a quick yummy dinner at hand for those crazy nights with our new bundle of joy.

Serves 10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour

About 15 corn tortilla, cut in half (varies based on the size of your pan)
1 lb. ground turkey
1 cup corn (or a can of corn, drained)
Cilantro to taste (I like to use about 1/2 a bunch, my husband likes less)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 can Rotell, undrained
4 cloves of garlic
fresh spinach (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350.

In large sauce pan, brown meat. Add everything except the cheese and tortilla. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Line the bottom of a casserole dish with tortilla so the entire bottom is covered. Add 1/2 of the meat mixture to the tortilla and spread evenly. Top with 3/4 cup of cheese. Cover with another layer of tortilla. Add remaining meat mixture. Top with 3/4 cup of cheese. Top with tortilla and remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. I like to use the nonstick foil here. Remove foil and allow cheese to brown for about five to ten minutes. Let the casserole stand for about ten minutes before eating.

I have to tell my husband that it has to stand longer so he will actually wait the ten minutes... However, he will attest that he is willing to burn his mouth for this one.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pot de creme (super awesome chocolate pudding)

I saw this on one of my favorite cooking shows Mad Hungry. As soon as the host, Lucinda Scala Quinn, described it, I knew I had to make it. OH MY GOODNESS! It is so amazingly good! My husband has declared it as one of his favorites of all time. I will be making this again!
The top has a little bit of a crust while the inside is a perfect pudding consistency. I replaced the liquor in recipe with a little cinnamon. Since I made this to go with a Mexican dinner, that was the perfect flavor to add. However, I have some ideas for variations, which I listed at the end of the blog.

Makes 4 servings
Total cost: about $5 or $1.25 per serving

1 1/4 cups of half and half (yeah, this isn't low fat at all...)
3 oz. of dark chocolate (I used 4 oz.)
1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)

Preheat oven to 300. Bring 1/2 and 1/2 to a simmer and remove from heat. Add chocolate and sugar. Set aside for at least five minutes.
Mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Stir the chocolate mixture until blended. Gradually add to yolk mixture. Mix until smooth. Pour into 4 custard cups or ramekins in a shallow roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it is about half way up the sides of the custard cups. I only had two larger sized cups, so I put two servings in each.
Bake for 30 minutes. When they come out of the oven, they will not be solid in the middle. Remove from the water bath and refrigerate. Serve cold

Ideas for modification:
* Make with white chocolate
* Serve with raspberry sauce
* Add orange zest
* Line the bottom of the cups with crushed hazelnuts or toffee

* Mix in a teaspoon of peanut butter (not sure if this will work, but I am wanting to try)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Greek Burgers

This is one of the few times I use a GF bread. If you are daring, make your own bread. If you are cheap or just want a yummy meaty dinner without carbs, just eat it without any bread. Even though I enjoy this in a burger form, I am often too cheap to buy buns. I am not afraid to admit that.
I saw this on a menu of a snazzy little restaurant in Houston and decided that I wanted to try my hand at it myself. They used pita bread, but this is a wonderful remake without that. This is a quick and super tasty meal that is also pretty healthy. I like to make a little extra so we have left overs. The patties reheat nicely. Mix that with the cool crispness of the tzatziki, and - oh boy! It is a party in your mouth. This is also excellent crumbled over spinach for a Greek style salad.

Tzatziki sauce: Make this according to your own taste. I like it with extra cucumber, my husband with a little more garlic. Here is just a basic recipe.

1/2 cup Greek yogurt. You could use regular, but Greek is so much better
squeeze of lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/3 of a cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
3 or 4 minced mint leaves (optional)
1/4 of a small onion, minced

Mix this all together and allow it to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


1 lb. ground turkey
10 to 12 mint leaves, minced
1/4 a bunch of flat leaf parsley, minced
1/2 an onion, minced
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
olive oil
crumbled feta cheese

Mix everything together. I like to let the flavors sit for about ten minutes before I start cooking.
Divide meat into 4 equal parts. Cook over medium-high heat in a skillet greased lightly with olive oil, about 5 minutes each side. Allow the meat to brown well so the onions cook and caramelize on the outside.

Top each burger with crumbled feta and tzatziki sauce. Opa!

I usually take the remainder of the cucumber and onion and mix it together with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a quick cucumber salad. Yummy!!

Total Cost: about $5 or $1.25 a burger

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Faux-sagna or Noodle-less lasagna. Yes! It can be done!

My sister and I were trying to come up with something awesome for dinner one night when we came up with what we called "Moussaka Casserole." After we tasted our wares, we realized it pretty much tasted like lasagna. The next time I made it, I added some ricotta cheese and, glory glory, I had an easy gluten free dinner that could rival my favorite lasagna without having to buy gluten free noodles. My husband, a lasagna connoisseur, loves this dish. When I make it, I make a large pan of it and freeze the left overs (if there are any!) in one or two serving containers for easy dinners or lunch for my husband at work.
This dish uses eggplant instead of noodles. I have had several people who claimed to hate eggplant rave about this dish. I claim it is because I soak the eggplant in salt water for at least an hour before I cook it. Most of the people who claim to not like eggplant say that it is too bitter. By soaking it in salt water, you remove the bitterness! No matter how I am making eggplant, I soak it. Now, I have converted my husband into an eggplant eater. 

Makes 10 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes or more (depends on your red sauce)
Cook time: 2 hours total
Cost: about $0.65 per serving

1 large eggplant, sliced very thinly (1/8 an inch or smaller - hey get out that mandolin slicer you never use!)
1 large container ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese (or more if you are a fan!)
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 or 6 baby carrots or 1 large carrot, diced
1 lb. ground turkey (look for the turkey in a tube - so much cheaper!)
1 jar of red sauce (or make your own to save extra money and have a fresh taste - my favorite recipe is listed below)
Salt water

Soak sliced eggplant in salt water for at least an hour. A plastic bag with ensure that each slice is soaking.
Start by making a good bolognese sauce (red sauce with meat). I do this by browning the meat with the onion, garlic, bell pepper and carrot. Add the red sauce of your choice. The carrots add a wonderful sweetness that is especially good in this dish. Allow this to simmer for at least 30 minutes. I usually do not add salt since the eggplant soaked in salt water and the cheese is often salty.
Preheat oven to 350.
Drain eggplant and place it on a towel. Pat it dry. Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of eggplant. Think of the eggplant as the "noodles" in the dish. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta over the eggplant. I find using my fingers to be the easiest way to do this. There is no need to add egg to the ricotta here like traditional lasagna. Pour 1/2 the sauce over the top and spread it evenly around. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozz cheese on next. Make another layer of eggplant, ricotta, sauce and cheese. Top the dish with any remaining eggplant before adding the last of the cheese. 
Bake covered for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting. 

My favorite homemade red sauce:
1 large can of whole tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil

Lightly saute the garlic in the oil. In a food processor, give the tomatoes a quick pulse. Add to the garlic and oil. Simmer for at least 20 minutes.
Yeah - it's that easy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chocolate torte with raspberry sauce

One thing that I miss about living in a bigger city is eating at P. F. Changs. Well, more specifically, the flourless chocolate dome that Celiacs and gluten-ators alike drool over. I have been trying to recreate that dish, and I have with success! I don't shape it into a dome, but who cares? It all goes down the same. For the most part, I use a recipe I found on at with only slight modification in the preparation process. This isn't super cheap to make, but it is less expensive than driving two hours to Birmingham to eat a torte.

I made this yesterday for a play date with three other mommies. We all needed a chocolate break and this was perfect! It is quick to get into the oven and tastes like heaven.

Serves 10
Prep time: 15 minutes for the torte, 5 minutes for the raspberry sauce
Cook time: 50 minutes for the torte, 10 minutes for the sauce
Cost: about $7 or $0.70 per serving

18 oz. of bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of butter
6 eggs
1 bag of frozen raspberries (or strawberries or mixed berries or whatever you want)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
squeeze of lemon

Grease a spring form pan. I use olive oil (yeah, I know, but it really works well with chocolate!) Preheat oven to 300. Fill a large casserole dish with water and place it in the oven on the lowest rack. The torte will cook in the middle on the oven over the water.
Soften butter in the microwave and set aside so it won't be hot when you mix it in. In a small saucepan, mix water, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt the chocolate in a microwavable container that is large enough to hold everything. (30 seconds on high, stir, repeat until smooth). Fold in softened butter1/3 to 1/2 a stick at a time. Folding it easier than stirring it in unless you have a stand mixer. Stir in sugar water. Add one egg at a time and mix well. Pour into spring form pan. Cook for 50 minutes. It will look liquidy in the middle when you take it out of the oven. That is the way it is supposed to look. Refrigerate overnight before serving. Cut with a wet knife.
While the torte is in the oven make the raspberry sauce.
I use the same small sauce pan I used for the sugar water. Add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes stirring two or three times. Some people strain it to remove the seeds, but I like them!

Some ideas I have for modification:
- Instead of using water in the torte, I might try coffee or orange juice
- Add cinnamon to the melted chocolate
- Make a caramel or vanilla cream sauce instead of raspberries
- Make with white chocolate
- Make half with white chocolate and half in bittersweet and swirl it (oh heck yeah!)
- Line the bottom of the spring form pan with crushed nuts or toffee