Namaste Brownies

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If you haven’t tried Namaste’s Brownie Mix, you need to. This is one of the first things I tried when I went gluten and dairy-free and it never disappoints. The brownies come out of the oven smelling absolutely fabulous. They are rich, chocolaty, and oh. so. completely. delicious. Even if you don’t have food allergies you’ll love them. But if you do suffer with food allergies, Namaste brownie mix is free of gluten, soy, corn, potato, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, and casein. All you add is eggs (or egg replacer if you’re allergic), oil, and water. I use organic eggs, olive oil, spring water, and stir in 1/2 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips. The chocolate chips make them wonderfully gooey. I also take mine out just a tad bit under “done” and I like to eat them hot out of the oven. You can eat them naked, frost them, sprinkle them with powdered sugar, or serve them with ice cream and toasted coconut or nuts. However you decide to top them, they turn out perfect and delicious every time.

Sweet Potato Fries

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Everyone has that one food that is their biggest weakness. I have several that I love and several more that I try not to keep in my house very often because I can’t leave them alone. But the one food that is probably the hardest for me to avoid is french fries. French fries of any kind. Frozen, fresh, fast food, home-made, I’ve even gone as far as eating french fries out of a special vending machine that fries them fresh right there in the machine while you wait. Seriously, it’s almost impossible for me to turn them down. All kinds of studies have been done to prove how awful they are for you for all kinds of reasons, but really, life is just too short not to enjoy a few french fries now and then.

Tonight I’m a single gal so I’m cooking exactly what I think sounds good. Our son is hanging out with friends and isn’t thrilled about chicken and certainly doesn’t consider sweet potatoes “fries” no matter how they’re presented. My husband is headed home from a business trip and won’t make it for dinner so…I’ll be enjoying grilled chicken, grilled yellow squash, steamed broccoli, and sweet potato fries with a spicy dipping sauce. And I might even follow-up that healthy dinner with one of Namaste’s delicious chocolate brownies warm and gooey, right out of the oven.

Sweet Potato Fries

Preheat oven to 450°

3 Sweet Potatoes, peeled (you can use less or more, I used this amount because it’s what I had and they needed to be used)

Several Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Peppercorn Medley

Cayenne Pepper

Cut peeled sweet potatoes into thin wedges. I cut mine in half, then cut the halves in half, etc. Place in large bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with several grinds of sea salt, pepper, and cayenne. I like things spicy so I probably used about a half of a tablespoon of cayenne. This will definitely give it some heat. If you like it less spicy, use less. Toss well making sure that all of the potatoes are coated.

Place on a parchment covered baking sheet being careful not to crowd them too much and bake in pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes or until the fries are done through the middle and are getting a little crispy on the edges.

Dipping Sauce

Since I’m the only one eating tonight I just made a personal sized dipping sauce. If you’re cooking for more than one you’ll of course need to increase the recipe amounts.

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil Mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon Gluten Free Ketchup

Sprinkle of Garlic Powder

1/4 (or more) teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Chives

Combine all of the above ingredients except for the chives in a small bowl. Transfer to a small ramekin for dipping. Snip chives on the top.

Eat the fries and sauce as an appetizer or serve them alongside anything you like.

Baked Salmon, Potato Cakes with Sheep’s Milk Cheese, & Grilled Vegetables

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Well, we have yet to start summer here in my neck of the woods but that doesn’t stop me from grilling.  Somehow I keep thinking that if I cook summer food and drink summer cocktails it will just have to show up. Hopefully, sooner than later. Obviously, no one got the memo that I’m grilling summer food tonight because  it’s cloudy, raining cats and dogs, and cold.

On a happier note, I’m thrilled with tonight’s dinner. It is packed full of flavor and color. Nice on the palette and easy on the eyes. I never really jump for joy about eating salmon, but slide a potato cake laced with chives, garlic, sheep’s milk cheese, and some grilled veggies next to it on my plate and I’m a happy girl. This whole meal is incredibly easy and a great way to use up leftover smashed potatoes. It presents well, tastes delicious, and is even worthy of company.

Preheat Oven to 450°

Baked Salmon

1 Side of Salmon

About 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

About 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

A little Sea Salt & a couple grinds of Pepper

About 1 teaspoon Chopped Garlic

About 1 Tablespoon  Snipped Fresh Dill

Place side of salmon on a parchment covered baking sheet. Pat dry. In a ramekin, mix together the olive oil, Dijon, salt, pepper, garlic, and dill. Spread on salmon. Set Aside.

Potato Cakes with Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Leftover Smashed Potatoes ( I had probably 4 cups or a little more)

Drizzle of Olive Oil

Few Grinds of Sea Salt

Few Grinds of Pepper

About 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic

Several sprigs of Chives, snipped small

1/2 Brick of Sheep’s Milk Cheese, crumbled

Place potatoes in a large bowl and go through them lightly with a potato masher. Drizzle olive oil, about a Tablespoon or so, add the salt, pepper, garlic, and chives. Mix well with the potato masher but don’t over work them. Add the cheese and gently stir with the potato masher until everything is combined.

Form into patties. Set Aside.

 If you don’t have a dairy issue, serve the potato cakes with sour cream and chives sprinkled on top. If you do have issues with dairy, you can make a little tartar sauce with mayo, a splash of rice wine vinegar, a little dried thyme, and fresh chives on top.

Grilled Vegetables

1 Small Eggplant

1 Small Yellow Squash

1 Small Zucchini Squash

(The above amounts will of course change depending on how many people you are feeding.)

Olive Oil

2 teaspoons Garlic, chopped

Fresh Thyme, about 2 sprigs of leaves

Sea Salt

Slice the eggplant, the yellow squash, and the zucchini squash, lengthwise. About 1/2 inch thick or so. In a ramekin, stir together the olive oil, garlic, thyme leaves, and sea salt.

Brush onto vegetables. Set Aside.

Preheat your grill to medium-high. Place a good amount of olive oil in a large skillet (non-stick, I didn’t use one and it was a mess) and warm on medium-high. Everything is going to cook in about the same amount of time give or take just a few minutes.

Place the salmon in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place the potato cakes in the hot oil and cook on one side until browned then flip. While the potatoes are browning on the first side, place the vegetables marinated side down first on the hot grill and  cook  for about 7 minutes. Flip and cook about another 5-7 minutes.

Serve with a yummy wine…simple and delicious!

Lettuce Wrapped Lunch

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Since going gluten-free I’ve come to really appreciate the bunless burger. On occasion, I do make gluten-free hamburger buns but truthfully, a hamburger is just as tasty wrapped in lettuce. It certainly makes for a lighter meal and if you are OK with having meat without a bun, it definitely opens up opportunities to eat out.  Ahh…eating out. Something we used to do quite frequently prior to my diet changes. Usually in sit down restaurants I can find at least one thing on the menu I can eat, but as most of you know, it can be pretty difficult if you’re out and about and just want to grab a quick bite to eat. Shockingly, Carl’s Junior makes a darn fine gluten-free, dairy-free burger. It’s an Angus burger wrapped in lettuce with mayo, ketchup, mustard, pickles (I get extra), and cheese. I get mine without the cheese of course.

But today…it’s gloomy and rainy and cold outside, the perfect day for a nice barbecued burger from home. Flame “broiled” in fact, medium rare, with organic onion,tomatoes, lettuce,  Bubbie’s pickles, sweet hot mustard, and gluten-free ketchup…just the way I like it!

Granola Bars – Movita Style

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This recipe is adapted from Movita’s blog, which she adapted from Alton Brown. First of all, if you don’t have Movita’s blog bookmarked on your computer, you should. She is witty, creative, and just plain entertaining to read. I’ve tried a couple of her recipes and have yet to be disappointed. Her food is delicious, straight forward, and simple. Just the way I like it. She has hilarious stories presented with a kind of dry wit. If you go to her website, make sure you click on her old website and read the story about the bunnie in her mother’s garden. And then there’s her old dating adventures…seriously, she should write a book.

This recipe is incredibly easy. You can tweak it with pretty much any nut, seed, or dried fruit that you like. Leave in the chocolate, or take it out, add in crystalized ginger, peanut butter, banana chips, dried apple, coconut, dried pineapple, truly…the combinations are endless.

Easy Granola Bars

*Makes 9 bars

2 Cups Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oats

1 Cup Slivered Almonds

1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed

1/2 Cup Raw Honey

1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed

2 Tablespoons Dairy-Free Butter

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Cup Dried Cherries

1/2 Cup Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips

Preheat the oven to 350° and butter or spray a 9×9 pan. Measure out ingredients.

Spread the oats and nuts (I gave the almonds a light chop before toasting) onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake, turning occasionally for about 15-20 minutes or until they become lightly golden.

Combine the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Once the nut and oat mixture is done toasting, remove from the oven and decrease oven temperature to 300°.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, flaxseed, and dried fruit. Drizzle the sauce over the top and mix thoroughly. Fold in chocolate chips.

Press gently into the pan and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Movita’s says to “press” into pan…I did mine gently which resulted in maybe a slightly fluffier bar because food that looks like it’s been touched too much grosses me out.

Allow to cool before cutting. I slid a very sharp knife around the edges and scored the bars while they were still warm to aid in cutting. Can be refrigerated or placed in an airtight container on the counter for up to 1 week.

Gluten Free Store Bought Soup

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So tonight I’m trying yet another brand of gluten-free, dairy-free, store-bought soup. I’m up to about probably the 4th brand and so far, I haven’t liked any of them. They taste weird, nothing like “real” soup, or even soup that I make at home from scratch. I mean honestly, how hard can it be for crying out loud?

This is what I saw when I opened tonight’s soup. I believe my immediate audible reaction was “ugh”. Then a wrinkled nose when I got up enough courage to smell it.

This is what it looks like in the pan. Pretty much the same.

And…this is what it looks like after one bite. One bite, because I would have to be starving to death to eat this and call it chicken noodle soup. It tastes more like salty flour water with mushy noodles and if it weren’t for the chunks of chicken in it I would have never guessed it was chicken noodle soup. Oh and the smell once it has boiled? Cat pee.

Come on people. How hard can it be to make a great batch of home-made soup and can it? I make delicious soup at home from scratch all the time. Gluten-free and dairy-free with no funky ingredients that make it look cloudy and smell like something the neighbor’s cat left behind.

The can says, “So good you will never know it’s gluten-free”. In reality it should say, “We think people with food allergies are stupid and have no taste buds, it doesn’t really taste like chicken noodle soup, but what the heck. Spend $3.oo on our can of soup anyway.”  Looks like I’ll be eating left over Three Bean Salad for dinner…

Summer Salads

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A few days ago our son graduated from high school. Such an exciting time for the whole family! It really is true what “they” say…it all just goes by so incredibly fast. Eighteen years in a flash! We are all really looking forward to the next stage in life. Exciting times ahead!

With our family, I can’t even think of one event that doesn’t revolve around a lot of food. Most of us love to cook, entertain, and visit so any excuse to get together,we’re on it. And of course, a graduation celebration is no exception. I wanted to make this one a little easier by doing summer foods and barbecuing. We grilled burgers, hot dogs, and German sausages. Had all of the traditional sides plus peppers and onions for the sausages. Several different types of salads, home-made baked beans, cupcakes, sugar cookies, and a Costco cake. This is the point where I imagine you’re hearing a loud record scratch and everything comes to a halt. A Costco cake? Imagine that. In a family full of women that love to cook, my son couldn’t wait to order a Costco cake.  Oh well, it saves me the intense all day labor of making a four layer gluten-free, dairy-free German Chocolate Cake. High school graduation only comes along once and I think it’s only fair that he have his cake (whatever it may be) and eat it too.

I’ll try to list the most accurate ingredient amounts in these recipes. I’m more of  a “little of this and a little of that” cook.  They are all easy though and can be tweaked to your liking.

Home Made Baked Beans

Forgot to take a picture of the beans! They are gorgeous & delicious!

About 6 pieces of All Natural Bacon, fried to almost crisp

1 Whole Sweet Onion, diced

1/2 Each Red & Orange Bell Peppers, diced

3 Cloves of Garlic, diced

2 Whole Jalapeno Peppers, stem removed, seeds & membrane intact

1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

2 18 oz. Bottles of Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

2 15 oz. Cans of White Beans, rinsed & drained

2 15 oz. Cans of Kidney Beans, rinsed & drained

2 15 oz. Cans of Butter Beans, rinsed & drained

In a large skillet drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or reserved bacon fat, and heat on medium-high. Saute the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno until the onion just begins to turn translucent.

Place the sautéed ingredients and all other ingredients in a crockpot, stir well. Heat on low for about 5-6 hours.

Tomato & Onion Salad with Herb Dressing

About 8 -10 Roma Tomatoes, sliced in quarters lengthwise

About 1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, chopped

About 1/2 of a Large Red Onion, sliced thinly

Herb Vinaigrette:

About 1/2 Cup Olive Oil

About 3-4 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon Mustard

Pinch of Sugar

Pinch of Salt & Pepper

Whisk or place in covered container and shake until it is emulsified. Drizzle over tomatoes, onions, and basil, and gently toss.

Pea Salad

3 12 oz. Bags of Petite Peas, thawed

About 3/4 of a Red Onion, diced small

1 Pkg. (block) of Sheep’s Milk Cheese or Goat Cheese

About 1 Cup of Olive Oil Mayonnaise

About 4 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar

Dash of Salt & Pepper

Whisk mayo, vinegar, and salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Spoon over peas and onions. Crumble cheese block over peas and mayo and carefully mix until incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Waldorf Salad

About 6 Sweet Apples, washed, dried, and diced (do this into a bowl of lemon water so they don’t brown)

About 2 Cups of Red Seedless Grapes, washed and sliced in half

About 3/4 of a Cup of Walnuts, rough chopped and toasted until lightly golden

About 3 Stalks of Celery, sliced down the middle and then diced thinly

About 1/2 Cup of Olive Oil Mayonnaise

Dash of Sugar

Dash of Salt & Pepper

Place all ingredients in a bowl, toss carefully. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Three Bean Salad

2 15 oz. Cans of White Beans, rinsed & drained

2 15 oz. Cans of Kidney Beans, rinsed & drained

2 15 oz. Cans of Garbanzo Beans, rinsed & drained

4 Stalks of Celery, sliced down the middle and chopped thinly

1 Red Onion, diced small

1 Cup Parsley, rinsed and drained, chopped finely

2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary, chopped finely

About 2/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

About 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

About a 1/2 Cup Olive Oil

Several Grinds of Sea Salt & Pepper

Whisk the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, and salt & pepper together until sugar is dissolved. Pour over remaining ingredients and toss. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Below is a picture of one of my favorite and super easy “go to” summer drinks for parties and camping. It doesn’t really have a name…I just call it the Rum Fruity Drink. It’s an incredibly simple mixture of rum, Squirt (or any other type of your favorite soda or juice), a squeeze of lime, squeeze of lemon, and squeeze of Cutie oranges. We also had mint to put in them but I forgot to set it out, that would also be really tasty.

 

Cheers!!