Halloween Menu- Mexican Style


It’s interesting how certain gatherings become a tradition in families. I love family traditions and always welcome the beginning of a new one. A few years ago we started “celebrating” Halloween at our house. I put celebrating in quotes because really, none of us are into Halloween, but we do love to eat, have a cocktail, and visit. In fact, pretty much all of our family traditions revolve around those three things. The only thing I typically ask people to bring for this gathering, is a lot of candy. Seriously, we have a ton of trick or treaters. We each take turns answering the door and handing out candy. I never get tired of seeing all the sweet little princesses, ballerinas, angels, pirates, and action heroes showing off their costumes. And then later in the evening, there’s the teenagers trying to eek out just one more candy filled, childhood Halloween.

Now that this day has become a dinner tradition at my house, for some reason, a Mexican theme just stuck. It’s really not that hard to understand why, I suppose. I don’t think I know one person in my life, both friends and family, who doesn’t like Mexican food. Mexican food has comfort and party written all over it. Perfect for a family tradition night. Last year I made enchiladas, home-made tamales, a taco bar, a Mexican style salad, and spicy rice. For dessert I made a coconut cream pie and a death by chocolate tart. This year, I purchased a cook book specifically geared toward our new tradition. The Complete Mexican South American & Caribbean Cookbook (which by the way, has a picture for every single recipe! I love that.)

I really like all of the old Mexican standbys but I also wanted to add a few new things that are authentically Mexican that I’ve never tried. As I type this, ahead of time, because I will be cooking and preparing for the party over the next few days, I already have 11 recipes dog-eared and I haven’t even made it through the entire cook book. These will need to be whittled down of course, but it’s so hard! And then there’s the dessert decisions… Drinks are easy. Tequila of course! And wine… mmm…I’m getting excited to get moving on this!

Well, today is the day. Lots to do! Here’s the menu, gluten-free and dairy-free, of course . Stay tuned for recipes and pictures tomorrow. 

Halloween – Mexican Style Menu


Coconut Shrimp

Stuffed Jalapenos

Tortilla Chips with Homemade Pico & Guacamole

Main Dishes:

Steak, Chicken, and Shrimp Fajitas

Chicken Tamales with Pablano Peppers & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Beef Enchiladas

Side Dishes:

Corn Souffle

Mexican Sweet Potato Hash


Lime Margaritas On The Rocks


Sparkling Cider


Coconut Cake

Lime Tart

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Breakfast For Dinner


Sometimes, you just need breakfast for dinner. I’m weird like that. I like leftover dinner for breakfast and find it hard to come up with a time of day where bacon and pancakes don’t sound delicious. Especially pumpkin pancakes with apple maple compote. Oh yes.

Now that I have a food blog I’ve been introduced to the wonderful worlds of other food bloggers. Amazing food bloggers, I must say. When I first started my blog I had no idea how many hundreds and hundreds of talented and really innovative food bloggers were out there. I’m subscribed to about one hundred of them right now and have the fantastic privilege of getting a fresh email every time they post. There are some really talented people in this world. And the bloggers I’ve run across are friendly. Can you imagine? In this fast paced, grumpy, world, I can look through someone’s blog, comment on their photos, recipes, stories, and ask questions if I want. And the truly amazing part is that they are thrilled to hear from people and always return a comment. Wow, huh? Pretty fabulous.

This recipe is adapted from HoneyandJam.com who adapted it from 101Cookbooks.com. In the world of blogging, especially food blogging, people are thrilled to have you tweak and try their recipes in different ways. This recipe for the pumpkin pancakes stopped me in my tracks. If there was sound involved you could envision me clicking through my very full email box oohing and ahhhing over all of the cool things people post and then clicking on the pancake post and everything coming to a screeching halt. You know, like when you scratch a record needle off of a record (those of us that are old anyway, remember that) or come to a knee shaking halt on the freeway in the fast lane? Well, that’s what it sounded like in my head when I took one look at Hannah Queen’s pancakes. Oh and as a side note, she’s only twenty one years old. Remember to check out her blog, it’s amazing. She’s a baker and a photographer and her photos are stunning. Make sure you look at her pancake photo, mine simply doesn’t do them justice.

Once again, this recipe is adapted (gluten and dairy removed) from HoneyandJam.com.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Maple Compote

1 Cup Mama’s Almond All Purpose Flour

1 Cup White Rice Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 Cups “Buttermilk” (Almond milk with 1 Tbs. lemon juice, let sit 10 minutes)

1 Cup Pumpkin Puree

2 Large Eggs, lightly beaten

2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter, melted

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, sea salt, pumpkin pie spice, and xanthan gum in a medium bowl with a whisk. Add the buttermilk, pumpkin puree, eggs, and melted butter. Stir just until combined.

Cook as you would a “regular” pancake and top with the apple compote below.

Apple Maple Compote

Hannah recommends using 1/2 apple per person. This is very easy and leftovers would also be delicious over a bowl of oatmeal.

Apples (I used Honey Crisp)

Dairy Free Butter


Real Maple Syrup

Place the butter in a hot skillet, slice the apples on top, add a generous sprinkle of cinnamon.

Saute the apples in the butter and cinnamon until aldente, add enough syrup to cover the apples and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Pour over warm pancakes.

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Pumpkin Spiced Almond Milk


This probably isn’t what your doctors had in mind when they told you to start eating oatmeal every day to lower your cholesterol. Maybe you could save it for your special Sunday morning breakfast and add a couple slices of slow cooked bacon to make it your most perfect Sunday morning ever. Yes, it’s that good.

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal with Pumpkin Spiced Almond Milk

•  For The Spiced Almond Milk:

1/4 Cup Almond Milk

1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Add the almond milk and spices to a small sauce pan and heat until hot being careful not to scorch it. Set aside and cool (I poured mine in a bowl and set it in the freezer for a quick cool.)

•  For The Pumpkin Oatmeal:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees for conventional 325 degrees for convection

1/3 Cup Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

2 1/2 teaspoons Dark Brown Sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (or a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves)

1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon Dairy Free Butter

1/4 Cup Almond Milk

1 Egg

1 Tablespoon Canned Plain Pumpkin

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1 Tablespoon Chopped Pecans, toasted

In a small bowl add the oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, and sea salt. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the butter and crumble through with your fingers until combined but still chunky.

In a glass measuring cup add the almond milk, egg, pumpkin, and vanilla and whisk with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Spray a single serving baking dish or two small ramekins (about 6 oz each or so) with non-stick spray. Add the liquids to the oat mixture and stir until combined.

Pour into the baking dish or ramekins, place on a baking sheet, and bake for about 15-16 minutes.  You want the top to still jiggle slightly when you remove it from the oven. While the oatmeal is baking, chop and toast the pecans in a small saute pan over medium high heat tossing frequently until they are slightly browned and they begin to smell warm and nutty. Set aside.

When the oatmeal is done, sprinkle with the pecans and dip your spoon into it in several different places to open it up. Pour the spiced almond milk over the top.

Warm, and gooey and soothing. Perfect for a crisp fall morning!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – Two Ways


It’s that gorgeous time of year again! Crisp mornings have arrived and the trees are turning beautiful colors. The view in our backyard is gorgeous. The leaves are turning and some of them are just beginning to fall to the ground.

People are finding themselves in the mood to drink pumpkin lattes, bake pies, and decorate for the season. A couple of weeks ago we visited our favorite local farm, Carver Farms, and picked pumpkins, cornstalks, and all kinds of gourds and neat things to decorate the house with.

They also had half of a field full of blooming Gladiolas.

This last weekend, my son’s girlfriend and I carved seven pumpkins. Yep, seven, between the two of us. I love to decorate for the holidays and you certainly know I love to cook and bake for the holidays, but I have to admit, I have no need or desire left in me to carve another pumpkin…well, until next year. By then I’m sure we will have forgotten how sore our hands were and how my son’s girlfriend could barely move her arm the next day and how my weird ball throwing/dog injury elbow issue cropped up again. Now I guess I can call it pumpkin elbow.

Here’s our handy work after carving for a couple of hours on Friday night and several hours on Saturday.

If you also like to decorate for the season and end up carving a field of pumpkins, whatever you do, don’t throw away the seeds! I know, I know, after carving a bazillion pumpkins the last thing you want to do is dig through that pile of guts for all the seeds. This is when another family member or friend (or husband or son who doesn’t want to help carve pumpkins) comes in handy. Put someone else, besides yourself, in charge of digging out the seeds and rinsing them. It will all be worth it in the end, I promise.

In case you didn’t already know, pumpkin seeds are very good for you. Did you know that they are beneficial to prostate health? (Another good reason to make the men in your house fish out the seeds and rinse them for you…they do benefit from them too, after all.) According to TheWorldsHealthiestFoods. org, the carotenoids found in pumpkin seeds and the omega-3 fats found in the seeds are being studied for their potential prostate benefits. Men with higher amounts of carotenoids in their diet have less risk for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). They are also high in Zinc which is great for bone mineral density. It was once thought that mainly post-menopausal women were at risk for Osteoporosis, but now they are finding that almost 30% of hip fractures occur in men.

Pumpkin seeds are also being tested for their anti-inflammatory benefits for arthritis. In animal studies, the addition of pumpkin seeds to the diet were comparable to the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs without the side effects that those types of drugs often cause. Who wouldn’t rather eat pumpkin seeds than take drugs with side effects? Pumpkin seeds are also a fantastic source of minerals, protein, and monounsaturated fat. They can also help lower cholesterol, enhance the immune system, and decrease the risk of certain cancers.


Now that you’ve boned up on all of the healthy reasons for someone other than yourself to dig through the pile of guts and retrieve the healthy, delicious, pumpkin seeds…you also need to know that they taste great. Quite addictive actually. And you can season them and spice them up any way you choose.

To make the very tasty and good for you pumpkin seeds, follow the directions below.

Rinse the pumpkin seeds well. Spread out on paper towels and allow to completely dry. I left mine to dry for two days, but only because I didn’t have time to get to them. I’m sure they would be plenty dry if you just left them overnight.

Once the seeds are completely dry, spread them in half.

For Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Seeds:

1/2 of your seeds

about 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil

a generous amount of cayenne pepper

a generous amount of  chili powder

a generous amount of chipotle chili powder

a generous amount of ground sea salt

about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of sugar

When I say generous amount, what I mean is, add as much as you think you might like and then multiply it by two. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Toss all of the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until they are completely combined and all of the seeds are coated. Spread the seeds out on the parchment lined baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes or until the seeds are lightly browned and crisp, tossing a couple of times in between with a spatula.

For Garlic & Sea Salt Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

1/2 of your seeds

about 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil

about 1 heaping teaspoon of minced garlic, preferably the kind in the jar

a generous amount of ground sea salt

Again, when I say generous amount, what I mean is, add as much as you think you might like and then multiply it by two. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not. Toss all of the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until they are completely combined and all of the seeds are coated. Spread the seeds out on the parchment lined baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes or until the seeds are lightly browned and crisp, tossing a couple of times in between with a spatula.

Rockfish In A Pocket – Asian Style with Tangy Sesame Salad


I am not a lover of fish. It’s not necessarily that I don’t like it, because I do. But…it just doesn’t seem like a real meal to me for some reason. So when I do make it, I like to add things to it, some excitement, so that it seems like it’s more “meal-ish”. I know it sounds weird, but what can I say? I was raised in a meat, vegetable, and potatoes household. A biscuits, bacon, pancakes, homemade soup, steak, turkey dinner and pie kind of household. You know, real food.

This meal actually shocked me. I really liked it. Every flavor was distinctive. Even the tiny amount of clementine zest and ginger added a unique and powerful dimension. Maybe the addition of a starch, the rice, made it feel like more of a normal meal to me, I don’t know. But either way, it was quite tasty and it received great reviews from my husband.

Tangy Sesame Salad

2 Cups Napa Cabbage, thinly sliced

1 Cup Shredded Carrots

1/2 English Cucumber, peeled, cut down the middle and thinly sliced

1 Green Onion, sliced down the middle and thinly sliced

1 Heaping Tablespoon Cilantro, chopped

For The Dressing:

1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar

3 to 4 Drops Dark Sesame Oil, about 1/2 teaspoon

1/8 teaspoon Grated Fresh Ginger

1/2 teaspoon Gluten Free Soy Sauce

Prepare the salad ingredients.

Prepare the salad dressing. Whisk until fully incorporated.

Place the vegetables in a medium bowl, toss, cover, and refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate the dressing. Don’t dress the salad until the fish is finished cooking or the salad will become limp.

Rockfish In A Pocket – Asian Style

Preheat Oven to 350°

4 Non-Oily Fish Fillets (I used Rockfish)

1/2 of a Large Red Bell Paper, thinly sliced

2 Green Onions, thinly sliced on an angle

1 Clove Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon Grated Ginger

1/2 teaspoon Clementine Zest

Olive Oil

White Rice

For The Sauce:

1 Tablespoon Gluten Free Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon Sweet Chili Sauce

1/2 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce

Get the rice going first so it can cook while you are preparing the fish. Rinse and pat the fish dry with paper towels. Set aside. Prepare the pepper, onion, garlic, ginger, and clementine zest and set aside. In a small dish, add the soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, rice vinegar, and sriracha sauce.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Cut 4 pieces of parchment for the fish pockets.

Place two fish fillets in the middle of one piece of parchment. Drizzle with a tiny amount of olive oil and rub it over the fillets. Take 1/2 of the clementine zest and grated ginger and rub into the fillets, dispersing it as evenly as possible. Spread 1/2 of the sliced garlic over the top.

Layer 1/2 of the peppers and onions over the top.

Stir the sauce well and drizzle 1/2 of it over the fillets.

Place another piece of parchment over the top of the fish, joining the long edges together by folding them over.

Continue rolling the sides and pressing along the edge with your fingernail or the handle of a butter knife until there is a sharp edge and the folded parchment reaches the fish.

Then roll the short edges the same way until it is completely folded and sealed.

Repeat with the remaining fillets. Place both pockets on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. While the fish is baking, toss the salad with the dressing.

Remove the pockets from the oven. Carefully slit open the top and pull apart. Be very careful, the steam from the fish is very hot.

You can eat this two ways. you can place the pocket on a plate and put the rice in it to soak up the juices and eat it that way. Or, you can put rice on your plate, place the fish on top of the rice and then pour the juices over it, which is what I did.

Oh, and in case you were ever curious about the “behind the scenes” recipe writing in food blogs…here’s how I do it. Recipes scribbled on napkins, minus a picture of the incredible mess I made. A glamorous hobby, huh? Complete with a soy sauce stained pen. 😉

Raspberry & Apricot Pie Dough Pastries


If you follow my posts, you’re probably aware of my love affair with pie dough. I try not to keep it around too much because it’s very easy for me to find things to do with it. Fruit pies are the most obvious, but visions of cookies, pot pies, savory tarts, rustic fruit tarts, meat pies, covered apples, and just plain pie dough baked with dairy-free butter, sugar, and cinnamon dance through my head when I know I have a batch of dough waiting for me in the freezer. I de-glutened my mother in law’s recipe, which came from her mother, and I’m not afraid to tell you that it’s the best pie dough I have ever tasted in my life. Even de-glutened it is fabulous beyond words.

I made these cookies (and the Clementine Tart)  for a dessert at my in-law’s last night. The family loved them and we came home with empty plates, which always makes me feel good. Seriously, what’s not to love about pie dough, jelly, and almond frosting? I hope you have a lot of willpower…unlike me. I ate 3 or 4 of them while I was frosting them and then could only bring myself to eat one more when it was time for dessert. My son’s girlfriend thought they would go great with a glass of milk, I thought they would go great with a hot cup of tea, and I’m sure the coffee lovers thought they would go great with coffee. We all ended up eating dessert and drinking wine, so really, they go well with anything you like.

Raspberry & Apricot Pie Dough Pastries

Preheat oven to 325°

*I forgot to count how many cookies this recipe actually made, but I would say that I got at least 35-40 out of it. Minus a few for nibbling while frosting.

2 Portions of Gluten Free Pie Dough (The highlighted link makes 4 individual pie crusts, you will need 2. If you make the pie dough the same day you plan to make the cookies, it will need to chill for at least 2 hours.)

Gluten Free Flour For Rolling

1 Small Jar Each – 100% Fruit Raspberry & Apricot Jelly

About 2 Cups Powdered Sugar

About 1 Tablespoon Dairy Free Butter

About 1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Almond Extract

On floured parchment paper, roll out the first batch of dough. Trim edges so that it resembles a square.

Cut into rows, making smaller squares.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside. In two small bowls place about 3/4 each of the apricot and raspberry jellies. Stir with a spoon to smooth.

Melt the butter. In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, butter, and almond extract, adding a tiny bit of warm water a little a time until the mixture is of a medium-thick drizzling consistency and all lumps are whisked out. Set aside.

With a lightly floured spatula, transfer each square to the covered baking sheet. Press the squares out lightly with your fingers.

Next, place about a teaspoon or so of jelly in the middle of each square and bring two of the sides together. Slightly overlap the sides, kind of smoothing the dough over the other side. When my first batch came out of the oven, I had a few that popped open because I didn’t make sure the dough was smoothed together.

Some of them will look absolutely perfect and some of them won’t. Don’t fret about it, baking is supposed to be fun and relaxing! Bake them for about 20 minutes. Carefully remove them from the baking sheet onto a wire cooling rack to cool slightly before frosting. Once they have cooled for 5 minutes or so, drizzle with frosting.

Continue with the remaining dough from the first batch and then roll out the second batch and follow the steps above.

Allow them to sit for 15-20 minutes before plating so the frosting has time to set up.

Clementine Tart


Ever since I made the Figgy Lemon Tart several days ago, I have tarts on the brain. If you’re not able to eat dairy, you probably know exactly what I mean. See, those of us who can’t eat dairy don’t often get to indulge in things that are creamy and dairy “like”. These tarts, they change all of that. This tart is very similar to the Figgy Lemon Tart with a variation of ingredients. I have to admit that after photographing it, I tasted it and was a little disappointed that it wasn’t as shockingly delicious as the lemon tart. However, I tasted it while it was warm so the eggs were very prominent. I allowed it to chill for several hours and took it to a dinner party and everyone thought it was very good. The “egginess” mellowed dramatically and allowed the clementines to take center stage. And the crust…the crust, well, it’s a love affair all its own.

Clementine Tart

For The Tart:

1 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/4 Cup White Rice Flour

1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 teaspoons Clementine Zest (about 2 Clementines)

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt (I used table not sea because I worried that the sea salt was too large)

1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter, cold

In a small bowl add both flours, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a mixer, add the butter and sugar, beat for 30 seconds and scrape down the bowl. Add the zest, nutmeg, and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly combined and mixture is fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat on medium for 30 seconds, scrape down bowl. Then beat for about 1 minute or until the mixture begins to almost pull all the way away from the sides of the bowl.

(You can find step by step pictures here.) Scoop mixture out into a tart pan with removable bottom. Press tart crust dough into the tart pan quickly, you don’t want the butter melting too much because it makes the dough too soft. Trim edges on an angle with a very sharp knife. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours. Remove the refrigerated crust after two hours and poke holes around the pan with a fork. Preheat oven to 325°

Line the tart crust with parchment paper and baking beans (or rice, couldn’t find my baking beans) and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove bean/rice and parchment paper and allow to cool while you get the remaining ingredients ready.

For The Filling:

7 ounces Almond Milk (I like to cook with Almond Breeze because it’s thick)

2 teaspoons Dairy Free Butter

3 Eggs plus 2 Egg Whites

1/2 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar

Zest of 6 Clementines

Juice of 5 Clementines (about 1/2 cup)

Heat the almond milk and dairy free butter on low in a small saucepan. Once it was hot I kept mine on warm until I finished the remaining ingredients. Next, in a medium bowl, add the eggs and powdered sugar. Whisk until there are no lumps remaining. Add the clementine rind and clementine juice and whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Set aside.

Slowly, drizzle the warm milk and butter mixture into the egg mixture whisking quickly the entire time. Pour 1/2 of the liquid into the tart shell.

Pour the remaining liquid into a measuring cup and place the tart pan in a preheated oven. Do not pull out the shelf, because when you pour the remaining liquid into the tart and then have to push the shelf back in, it will slosh all over the place and your beautiful tart will be in the bottom of your oven. Pour the remaining liquid slowly into the tart pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. You want it to have a soft jiggle when you remove it from the oven, similar to jello, but not too much movement. You’ll know if you’ve overcooked it because it will crack and start to pull away from the sides of the tart shell. It’s better to have it slightly under cooked than over cooked.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When you’re ready to serve it, sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with thinly sliced clementines.