Breakfast Quinoa

Black and White Breakfast Quinoa“Special Breakfast” has been a household tradition since the oldest Kitchen Diva in Training could reach the counter top. It usually consists of pancakes or some kind of eggy bacony thing on the weekends, but the Kitchen Divas in Training have started to use “Special Breakfast” as an opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. I’ve also noticed that it’s become a successful delaying tactic for weekday school!

Remember a few weeks back when I wrote about Shrimp Scampi w/ Black & White Quinoa? Well call it good planning, or laziness, but I always make extra quinoa. With two voracious and growing girls, I’ve finally learned to make LOTS of food. Leftovers usually do not last long in this house, and the quinoa was no exception. I like quinoa for breakfast. While it doesn’t have the cholesterol-fighting reputation of its oatmeal cousin, it is very high in protein (an important part of breakfast for you nutrition conscious folks), very high in fiber, and very filling. This is a winning combination for me. Oh, and did I mention it tastes good too? This recipe is entirely the creation of the Kitchen Divas in Training, and I have to proudly say they hit the nail on the head. We’ve enjoyed this on several occasions since its incarnation, with slight variations each time. I like that it’s warm and crunchy. The ladies like that it’s got fruit and a touch of honey (usually, we are a pretty sugar-free household). The recipe is very easy to expand/adapt based on your tastes and the number of people you’re serving for breakfast. We believe this will become a breakfast staple in your home during the cold months. Enjoy!

Black and White Breakfast Quinoa

Ingredients (serves 4-6) Black and White Breakfast Quinoa

4 cups cooked quinoa

1 apple- diced

1 cup slivered almonds

2 tsp cinnamon

1 TBS Honey

2 cups milk

fresh fruit for topping


Place leftover quinoa in a medium pan. Add ingredients and stir gently to combine. Heat on med-low for 10 minutes, or until the milk begins to steam (avoid boiling). Remove from heat. Scoop into bowls, and top with fresh fruit- we used raspberries.

How to Make a Great Taco

Today, we’re going to show you how to make a great taco. Taco Tuesday, a school lunch tradition for many of us who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, has occurred with semi-regular frequency at our home, thanks to the imaginations of The Kitchen Divas in Training.  Each incarnation of Taco Tuesday is unique and based on what’s in the fridge, what’s leftover, and what flavors the girls would like to enjoy. Black beans are always served in some form, as are copious amounts of cilantro, lime, and New Mexico Red Chile sauce. The rest is entirely up for grabs.

What I love about Taco Tuesday is that everyone in the house contributes to the decision-making process and the creation of the meal. The girls shred cheese and veggies, select and add the spices, while my husband and I brown or reheat the meat and do the heavy knife-work. The girls do some knife work, but I don’t let them handle my precious chef’s knives just yet. All meals contain fresh vegetables- gotta get those greens! In fact, I like to call my tacos Hand-Salads!

This is as quick and easy as it gets around here- usually we’re ready to eat in less than 30 Minutes- take THAT Rachael Ray! We serve buffet-style so that everyone gets to choose what goes into their taco and in what proportions. If you’d like to try Taco Tuesday at your house, please take inspiration from the brief ingredient lists below, and remember the possibilities are endless. Enjoy, and have fun cooking with your family!

Meat Base

Although I don’t call for this in the recipe below- we have used additional spices like cumin, mexican oregano, garlic powder or fresh garlic, sometimes salt & pepper. Use your imagination!

1 lb of meat (could be ground beef, ground turkey, chicken, pork, shrimp)

1 onion

1 small can of tomatoes (sometimes we use the ones with green chile)

1 chopped bell peppers (if you have them on hand)

1 can of diced green chile

1 tsp (or more) of chile powder- we like New Mexico Red or Chipotle

Directions: Saute the onions, add meat and other stuff, heat through until meat is cooked, remove to a serving bowl.

Black Beans

This changes each time we serve it, but here’s what we did this week. This proportion serves 4-barely. If you like lots of beans or want leftovers add an additional can.

2 cans of black beans (if you soak your own, about 2 cups soaked)

1/2 cup shredded cheese (we’ve used all kinds, but Jack Cheese is our preference)

1 generous tablespoon of Cumin

1 generous tablespoon of Garlic Powder (We used Herbed Garlic Powder)

Directions: Drain beans, place all ingredients in a small pan and heat through on medium.


Again, this is just what we made this week. The fresh greens change constantly. We’ve used kale, Napa cabbage, arugula, fresh lettuce (not the tasteless iceburg- blech!) spinach, thinly sliced bell peppers etc…

1/2 purple cabbage, thinly sliced into ribbons and chopped fine

4 small carrots- shredded

1 large bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

2 tbs cider vinegar (other vinegars will work just fine too, maybe not balsamic..)

juice of 1/2 lime (small)

Directions: Mix in a bowl and serve

Garnish Plate

1 or 2 sliced avocados

fresh cilantro (chopped or not)

lime quarters

New Mexico Spicy Goodness (could be red chile sauce, enchilada sauce, green chile sauce, salsa etc.)

Shredded cheese

See? I told you this was easy!! Did I mention it’s delicious and nutritious too?

Parsleyed Potatoes

Bonjour! It is SO nice to be back writing again! My deepest and sincerest thanks to  all of you who have sent me notes of encouragement over the last 11 (yikes!) months. For those of you who are new readers, or who have wondered why I dropped off the face of the earth last summer, here’s a little re-cap:

Last year I embarked on the most rewarding and challenging adventure of my life- homeschooling my two beautiful daughters. After a year, we’ve all agreed it’s been the best thing we’ve ever done as a family; but the Kitchen Divas in Training were not the only ones to learn. I learned too…. a lot! I’ve had the hardest lesson ever in the realization that I cannot do it all. I’ve had to prioritize, take on, let go of, develop a sense of humor about, look the other way, worry about, and not worry about pretty much every aspect of my life.

Through it all, food has been the constant. We’re obviously still eating. And quite well, I might add. It was this realization that led me back to writing again: I cannot be the only Gluten-Free Food obsessed foodie who struggles with balancing all the demands of parenting, self-care, house-care, significant other-care, career-care (whatever that looks like), with food discovery, styling, photography and recipe development.  However, just looking at that list gives me an anxiety attack!

And so, for the last 11 months, I have ruminated, struggled, and made some significant changes:

  • Recipe development, which I love, pretty much flew out the window. Most of my creative time and energy now goes into teaching, although I do have the occasional flash of creative kitchen inspiration.
  • Food styling- I no longer have time for hours of styling and photo editing. I want to get a big flood light for my kitchen- light boxes and I do not do well.
  • The crock-pot and leftovers have become my best friends.
  • The Kitchen Divas in Training, and my awesome husband have cooked more this year, and come up with some delicious originals on their own.
  • We have eaten more simply, using herbs and spices over techniques, and eaten more locally/seasonally than ever.

I think, in my efforts to maintain a creative and original blog- and because I had lots of time on my hands, I’d forgotten that many folks eat simply prepared fare as a matter of necessity. Simple food in no way equals ‘blah’ food, and in fact, it is often the simplest preparations that highlight the inherent beauty and flavor of the food presented.

So, moving forward, most of the recipes featured here will be simple, delicious, easy to prepare, and ideal for families who, like us, find themselves scrambling for dinner at 6:30pm. I also plan to highlight many of the wonderful new gluten-free eating opportunities that have sprung up around Kansas City, and in other areas across the Continent as we travel regionally and nationally in the coming months.

I’d like to claim I’ll be regular about blogging- but I refuse to make an empty promise. However,  I will state it’s my goal to post something at least monthly, if not more frequently. For now, it’s good to be back. Please do stop by and say hello, or share what easy fare is simmering on your stove-top or growing in your garden. Life is a celebration and meant to be enjoyed around a table!

Easy Asparagus & Spring Parsleyed Potatoes

Spring arrived early here in Kansas City, after a non-existent winter. The farmer’s markets never closed this year, and thanks to the hoop houses, we’re already seeing early summer fare . My May and June flowers started blooming before Easter, and we’ve already had one 90-degree day! We even pulled out the patio furniture in March this year- a first. Easter took me by surprise this year. The week before Easter was filled with filming a music video for my daughter’s robotics team (more to come on that front!), planning a surprise party for my husband (more to come on that front too!) and a multitude of Holy Week rehearsals and services to sing.

By the time I staggered home after my last service on Easter Sunday, I was greeted with a mimosa and the smell of locally raised and cured ham in the oven!  While the ham was finishing, we whipped up a batch of asparagus, and spring potatoes with parsley- all locally grown, and a fabulous al-fresco Easter feast was borne in less than 30 minutes!

Easy Asparagus

This new way of cooking asparagus happened quite by accident several weeks ago when I turned on the burner, but forgot to watch the heat in the pan, and made it too hot. I threw in the butter which sizzled and browned, tossed in the asparagus, covered it,  and immediately pulled it off the heat. I shook the pan a few times to coat the asparagus, and when we were ready to eat, discovered perfectly cooked, al-dente asparagus inside! Yes, necessity is the mother of invention!


Slice (or snap) the woody ends of 1 or 2 bunches of asparagus, and set aside. Place a medium saute pan that has a lid on a burner and turn the heat to medium. When the pan is good and hot, add 2 tbs butter and one tbs extra virgin olive oil –this is not an exact science- just add a blob of butter that is sized to your liking, and a swish of olive oil. The olive oil helps prevent the butter from burning.

Add the asparagus, cover and turn off the burner. Shake the pan vigorously to help coat the asparagus. Remove the pan from the burner after 2-3 minutes.If you have a gas burner, you can leave the pan in its place.When you are ready to eat, plate the asparagus and season with truffle salt, fleur de sel, lemon pepper, or a squeeze of lemon.

Spring Parsleyed Potatoes

These aren’t really mashed potatoes, they are more rustic, and some of the pieces are larger. The point is to taste the fresh flavor of the new potatoes and the parsley, not to drown them in butter and salt.

1-2 lbs small new potatoes (usually about 12-16) 

1 cup chopped parsley – more or less if you prefer

2 tbs butter- or more to taste

salt to taste


Boil potatoes until the skins split-about 20 minutes. Drain, remove to a bowl. Break the potatoes apart with a large fork. Add parsley and stir to incorporate. Add butter. Season with your favorite salt. We used truffle salt.

Black Bean Pasta w/ Chipotle Lime Chicken

Black Bean Pasta w/ Chipotle Lime Chicken, may seem like a mouthful,  but when you try these flavors, I think you’ll agree that this is a fun and flavorful meal. A few weeks ago, fellow bloggers Lazaro from Lazaro Cooks, and Denise from Quickies on the Dinner Table, announced a fun contest (The Quickie Challenge) centered on noodles. Since I already have some fun noodle dishes posted, and a ton of cellophane noodles left over from this fall’s Japchae experience, I originally thought I’d try to concoct a new cellophane noodle dish..

But then, one of my favorite grocers showed me this black bean noodle in the gluten-free section… at first I cringed and passed. I’m not a fan of beany tasting pasta- in fact, a big complaint I have with many gluten-free products and recipes is the over use of bean flours- which you need to get a higher protein and strength factor in your cooking. I’d rather eat my beans whole, thank you very much. But he stood there telling me how another lady says they’re her favorite, and he keeps them in stock just for her…. Well, I was intrigued, and my imagination started snapping…

I asked the kitchen-divas in training- “what ingredients do you think of when I say black-beans?” it was unanimous- tacos with chile, tomatoes, avocadoes, limes, cilantro- in other words, a flavor powerhouse.. So I plunged! Why not put a little black dress on the typically mundane pasta noodles, drag out the red chile and hit the dance floor? The result was surprising- and delicious. Surprising because the black bean noodles didn’t have the obnoxiously bean-y flavor I was expecting- and delicious, because let’s be honest- who doesn’t love tender chicken marinated in chipotle and lime, dancing with avocado, cilantro, onions and tomatoes? Topped with a tiny gluten free cornflour madeleine, this dish was both sassy and sweet! Taco pasta or a new incarnation of the little black dress? I’ll leave it to you to decide, but I will tell you, I’ve made this dish three times in the last 10 days, and there have been no leftovers! So put on your dancing shoes, get into in the kitchen and enjoy!

Gluten Free Black Bean Noodle Pasta with Chipotle Lime Chicken

Serves 4


1 bag black bean noodles- I used “Explore Asian Black Bean Spaghetti” by Navan Foods

1- 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast

1/3 cup lime juice (juice from 1 ½ big limes)

2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp chipotle powder (more if you like it really hot!)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 garlic clove, minced

pinch of salt

3 twists of the pepper grinder

1 onion, diced

4 tomatoes, diced

3 green chiles, diced (more if you like it hot!)

¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 avocado, diced

1 cup finely shredded jack cheese


A few hours prior to your meal, place the chicken breasts in a plastic ziplock bag, and beat them flat with a rolling pin, or other heavy object. Check the bag for holes. There shouldn’t be any since the rolling pin has no edges, but it’s best to check. Provided the bag is hole-free, add the lime juice, olive oil, chipotle, cumin, garlic powder and clove, and the salt and pepper. Seal the bag and work the marinade into the chicken. When the spices have been evenly distributed, place the bag in a bowl (to catch any accidental leaks) and leave in the refrigerator for a few hours. When you are ready to cook, remove the bowl from the fridge.

Fill a stock pot with water, and set it on the stove to boil. If it reaches a boil before it’s time to add the noodles, turn down the heat and allow to simmer.

Lightly oil a large saucepan- I use my favorite cast iron fryer- and turn heat to medium. When the pan is sizzling hot, remove chicken breasts from the marinade and lightly pat dry. This will get a good sear on the meat and help give it a nice color. Sear for 3 minutes on the first side, flip and sear for an additional 4 minutes on the second side. When chicken is very firm, remove to a cutting board and cover with aluminum- chicken will cook a bit longer under the aluminum tent.

Salt the boiling pasta water- usually two teaspoons is sufficient. Add the black bean pasta as soon as the chicken has been tented. If the heat was turned down prior to boiling, return the heat setting to medium-high. Allow the noodles to cook until they have softened- about 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the diced onions to the pan that held the chicken. If the onions stick initially, you can ladle a few tablespoons of the marinade into the pan to deglaze. When the onions are translucent, add half of the chopped tomatoes, and the green chiles.  Allow the flavors to gently marry while the noodles are cooking.

When the pasta is cooked, drain, and add to the saucepan containing the tomatoes, onions and chiles. Give a quick stir to coat with the sauce and remove from the heat. Slice the chicken breasts diagonally. For presentation, place a nice mound of noodles in the center of each plate. Top with 4-5 slices of chicken, a sprinkle of the remaining fresh tomatoes, a sprinkle of avocado, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, and a tiny bit of jack cheese. If you like, squeeze a little wedge of lime over the noodles, and top with a gluten free cornflour madeleine (recipe below). There you have it- all the flavors of a good taco in a fresh format!

Gluten Free Cornflour Madeleines

Makes 18-20


½ cup tapioca starch

½ cup sweet rice flour

½ cup cornflour (not cornmeal- this is a fine, flour consistency)

½ tsp xanthan gum

6 oz salted butter

3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ tsp vanilla


Allow butter and eggs to come up to room temperature. Preheat oven to 450. Butter and flour a madeleine pan. Sift dry ingredients.

On a flat surface, using a pastry scraper or a spatula, mash and work the butter until it’s soft and creamy, and easily pliable. Place softened butter in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, or in your stand mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla on high speed until the mixture is thick and very pale yellow- about 2 minutes.

Place the dry ingredients in the sifter a second time, and sift one third of the mixture over the eggs. Fold in and sift another third. Fold again, and sift the last third over the egg mixture. Fold in, and then scoop a large dollop of the batter onto the butter. Fold into the butter, then scrape the butter mixture into the egg mixture. Fold gently, and when the batter is nicely mixed, allow it to rest a minimum of thirty minutes.

When you are ready to bake, fill the madeleine molds about 3/4ths full, and cook until the cookies are golden brown on top, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the pans and allow to cool.



Stuffed Poblano Peppers w/ Goat Cheese & Shrimp

The weather here has been simply spectacular. Fall is one of the seasons I really appreciate in the midwest; particularly the month of October. The weather is crisp, the nights are clear, the morning air contains a hint of colder weather to come,while the late afternoon’s golden sun dances through the red and orange trees.  It’s something I’ve never experienced elsewhere. *sigh*

Last Friday was so lovely, we ended up having a spontaneous picnic dinner outside- probably the last of this year. We live a few blocks from the local Catholic High School, and the intermittent cheering from the home game accompanied the last of the crickets and frogs as the crisp night air settled in around us. Thank goodness for the hot peppers! I’d picked up a few- likely the last of the season at the school’s produce stand, and decided that it was a perfect evening for roasting peppers stuffed with shrimp and goat cheese. We roasted anaheims and poblanos. The anaheims were significantly hotter this time, but the goat cheese balances the heat quite nicely. I kept back a little cheese and shrimp for the young ones, added a tomato, and cooked theirs on the stove top, sans pepper. Served over cilantro rice, it was quite a hit with the ladies. That just left more peppers for the grown-ups! My kitchen divas in training also contributed by creating a mixed green salad with sliced apples, crushed pecans and a red-wine vinaigrette. They are really getting into helping prepare dinner!

This is a pretty easy meal to put together. In fact, you could even broil the peppers if you don’t feel like messing with a grill. The hardest part is the stuffing, and your fingers will get a little warm if the peppers are hot. But the end result is quite delicious, and very satisfying on a starlit fall night. Serve with cilantro rice and garnish with fresh ingredients like avocado, cabbage and lime. . Happy Fall!

Stuffed Poblano Peppers w/ Goat Cheese & Shrimp  

8 stuffed peppers with filling left over for the non-pepper eaters


8 peppers of your choice ( I used 4 poblanos and 4 anaheims)

1 8oz log of plain goat cheese

1 lb shrimp

For Cilantro Rice:

1 cup rice

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

For Non-Pepper Mixture:

1 tomato, diced

For Garnish:

2 sliced avocados

1/4 head of cabbage, julienned

1-2 limes, cut in wedges


Peel and devein shrimp if necessary.  Using a paring knife, slice a hole around the top of the pepper and set aside the top. (think of this like you would the lid of a pumpkin, you want to put it back on when the pepper is stuffed)

With your fingers, stuff the pepper, alternating goat cheese and shrimp, mooshing the filling all the way to the bottom of the pepper. Replace the top of the pepper when it’s fully stuffed. Set aside remaining goat cheese and shrimp.

On a very hot grill, or in your broiler, roast the peppers on one side until they’re blistery, then flip and roast again. In a broiler, this will be about 4-5 minutes on each side. On a grill- it could take 10-20 minutes per side, depending on your heat.. The goat cheese will liquify, so place peppers on aluminum foil.  Peppers are done when they’re blistery, the shrimp is opaque, and the cheese has started to turn golden. To serve, place on a spoonful of cilantro rice.

While the peppers are cooking, prepare the rice by placing one cup of rice, and one and 1/2 cups of chicken stock in a covered pan and bringing to a boil. When the stock is boiling, either remove from the heat, or turn to low. When the rice has finished cooking- about 20 minutes, add chopped cilantro and toss.

To make the non-pepper filling: In a non-stick skillet, or cast iron pan, place shrimp, goat cheese and diced tomato. Cook over medium, stirring as needed, until shrimp are opaque and cheese has liquified- about 10 minutes. Serve over cilantro rice.

Garnish both versions with avocado, fresh cabbage and a squeeze of lime.

Gluten Free Popcorn Okra

Gluten free popcorn okra is a great crunchy summer snack, and a great way to use up all the okra you may get in a summer CSA bag. These cute little disks remind me of popcorn shrimp, and they’re just as addictive.

The first time I ever cooked okra was last summer when I received a bag in my CSA share from Farmer Jill. I knew they appeared in gumbo, but since I grew up out west where we don’t eat food like okra, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Enter my friend Georgeann, who is a great cook, and a native of these parts. She said that gluten free popcorn okra  is her husband’s favorite, and it has certainly become one of ours. Seriously, you can’t eat just one. Besides, they just look cute!

Georgeann recommends pan-frying, but I deep-fried these- really it’s up to you. The recipe is very simple, and doesn’t even require a binder- the gooey insides (mucilage in botany lingo) hold the cornmeal just fine. If you’re feeling ambitious, try stirring the disks in a few eggs and see how it goes. This works well as a snack, or as an accompaniment to a burger. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Popcorn Okra

serves 4 as a small side, or 1 person on a snacking rampage


1/2 lb okra

2 cups cornmeal, cornflour, or masa harina

1/2-1 lb vegetable shortening

salt (to taste)

chipotle seasoning or cayenne pepper (to taste)


Scrub the okra and remove the tops. Chop into disks about 1/3 inch wide. Set aside. Place cornmeal in a wide shallow bowl or large plate with a little lip. Place shortening in saute pan or cast iron fryer, and turn burner to medium.

If you’re pan frying, use 3-4 tbs to start and add more as you need it. The okra does absorb a lot of shortening, so you will have to add more as you cook. If you’re deep-frying, add enough shortening to make 1 1/2-2 inches in the pan, and heat until oil is 350 degrees.

When the pan is ready, take a large spoonful of the okra and place it in the cornmeal. Stir the pieces around until they are evenly coated. You could also use the paper-bag-shakey-bakey trick here by placing the cornmeal in a bag, placing all the okra in the bag, shaking vigorously, and then pouring everything out onto a wire cooling rack- allowing the extra cornmeal to fall between the wires.

Fry until golden brown- about 3-4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel and drain. Season with a little salt, and a little spice. We like chipotle seasoning or a little bit of cayenne to give them an extra ‘pop’. Experiment with your own seasoning, and see what excites you! Happy Eating!

Purple Potato Salad

This purple potato salad satisfies my love of colorful food. I’m obsessed with colorful food. Why have a regular colored food item when you can have an exotically colored one? Think blood oranges, chocolate peppers, blue corn, green eggs and ham, purple potatoes….you get the idea…

My favorite potatoes ever are these little purple guys- they are indigo on the inside and royal purple on the outside. My locally grown variety is called “Inca Blue”. Potatoes are a New World food. They are native to South America, and come in over 100 varieties. A far cry from that Idaho Russet you’re used to seeing in the grocery aisle. Not that Idaho or Russets are bad- I actually love both…but there’s something so..cute about a purple potato. And whimsical…and when you mash them- they are really fun to eat- right out of a Dr. Seuss story! So when I saw these purple baby potatoes at my farmer’s market the other week, they were too cute to resist.

We created this salad for our annual 4th of July foodie picnic and backyard barbeque. The combination of bacon, potatoes, kale, mustard, mayo, & chives, makes this salad easy to prepare and delicious to eat. Typically kale isn’t an ingredient in potato salad, but we love the flavor and color it adds, as well as the nutrient value. Typically, there’s not much nutrition happening in a potato salad, so by adding kale, you can sneak something healthy onto your picnic table. And the taste? No worries there,  I’ve never seen potato salad disappear so fast.



Gluten Free Fruit Pies: Apple-Blackberry-Basil, and Peach-Raspberry-Ginger (gluten-free of course!)

Every 4th of July we host a big barbeque. This began 6 years ago when our city partnered with two neighboring cities to host fireworks practically in our backyard. Each year the party has grown in size and in food quality. The nice thing about having friends who are geeky foodies- not unlike myself- is that we now endeavor to outdo each other with astounding results. Some of what we enjoyed this year: Habañero Garlic Deviled Eggs, Quinoa and Mozzarella Stuffed Roasted Poblanos, Purple Potato Salad, Mozzarella Tomato Basil Skewers, Greek Quinoa Salad, Sangria, and of course- the gluten free fruit pies. Not to be outdone by my guests, I was inspired to throw down some adventurous flavor combinations of my own- complete with firework-like latticework and fancy cut-outs on the top crust. A feast fit for a 4th.

Successful fruit pies are largely left up to the taste of the baker. The flavor combinations are limitless. A good rule of thumb for experimenting is using 1-3 flavors. More than that muddies the flavor profile. The whole point of pie is to showcase a few stellar- typically seasonal- ingredients. For a fruit pie, use approximately 5 cups of fruit, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup of corn starch. Top the fruit with butter and add the top crust. Bake 30 minutes at 425, and 30 minutes at 350, until the top is golden and the juices are bubbling through the holes in the crust. Measurements will change slightly depending on what fruits you use. Softer fruits will give off more juice in cooking and may need additional cornstarch and less sugar, whereas firmer fruits like apples don’t. You can use nearly 6 cups of apples in a pie, but you can’t go over 5 cups with a peach pie. I learned this the hard way with a peach explosion in my oven. The thing to remember when cooking pie is to use ingredients that put a smile on your face. Happy tastebuds = happy tummies. Enjoy a little summer fruit goodness and live on the wild side with your flavor combinations- what you come up with may surprise and delight you!

Gluten-Free Apple-Blackberry-Basil Pie  

1 nine-inch pie


Gluten-Free Pie Crust

3 cups chopped apples, skin on (I used Pink Lady apples)

2 cups blackberries

1/4- 1/2 cup chopped basil (I used Spicy Globe Basil for maximum flavor)

1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depending on how ripe your fruit is- the riper it is the less sugar you may need)

4 tbs cornstarch

4-6 tbs butter


Preheat oven to 425. Place apple pieces and blackberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugar and cornstarch. Combine and set aside. Quickly roll out pie-crust between 2 cornstarched pieces of parchment paper. When crust is wide enough to cover pie place, transfer to plate and using your fingers, gently push the crust all the way down to the corners of the plate. Crimp the top with your fingers. Do not worry if there are cracks- the crust is very forgiving. Just smooth the crack with your fingers. You do not need to pre-bake fruit pie crust.

Roll out second crust and set aside. Add fruit filling to pie plate. Dot the filling with the butter pieces and place second crust on top of the filling. Make slashes in the crust, or cut out a design of your choosing that allows juices to bubble through in cooking. You could make a woven lattice, cut simple shapes, or a more elaborate picture-whatever you like. My girls enjoy smiley faces, flowers and butterflies.

Crimp the top crust to the bottom crust between your fingers and place on a cookie sheet in the bottom 1/3rd of the oven. Cook at 425 for 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling through the holes in the crust. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to thoroughly cool before cutting. It is fine to dig into the pie before this, just be aware that the pie will fall apart and not look like a regular slice of pie until it has thoroughly cooled.

Gluten-Free Peach-Raspberry-Ginger Pie  

1 nine-inch pie


Gluten-Free Pie Crust

3 cups sliced fresh peaches, skins on

2 cups raspberries

1/2 cup chopped candied ginger

1/4-1/3 cup sugar

1/4-1/3 cup cornstarch

4-6 tbs chopped butter


Preheat oven to 425. Place peach slices and raspberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugar and cornstarch.(Depending on the ripeness of the peach, you may need little to no sugar, and additional cornstarch if the peaches are really juicy) Combine and set aside. Quickly roll out pie-crust between 2 cornstarched pieces of parchment paper. When crust is wide enough to cover pie place, transfer to plate and using your fingers, gently push the crust all the way down to the corners of the plate. Crimp the top with your fingers. Do not worry if there are cracks- the crust is very forgiving. Just smooth the crack with your fingers. You do not need to pre-bake fruit pie crust.

Roll out second crust and set aside. Add fruit filling to pie plate. Dot the filling with the butter pieces and place second crust on top of the filling. Make slashes in the crust, or cut out a design of your choosing that allows juices to bubble through in cooking. You could make a woven lattice, cut simple shapes, or a more elaborate picture-whatever you like. Smiley faces, flowers and butterflies all make nice designs.

Crimp the top crust to the bottom crust between your fingers and place on a cookie sheet in the bottom 1/3rd of the oven. Cook at 425 for 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling through the holes in the crust. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to thoroughly cool before cutting. It is fine to dig into the pie before this, just be aware that the pie will fall apart and not look like a regular slice of pie until it has thoroughly cooled.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies- Carnivore Cookies- Aptly named by my dear husband, this fun cookie is sure to turn heads at your 4th of July Picnic. I was inspired in part by our family’s ‘special breakfast’ chocolate chip pancakes, and by Mo’s Milk Chocolate Bacon Bar from Vosges chocolate. If you’ve never tried their adventuresome chocolate combinations, splurge on one the next time you’re at the store. Snobby and expensive, yes. Startlingly amazing, yes. But, if you’re a dark chocolate lover, the whole milk chocolate thing just doesn’t cut it. Not for my tastebuds anyway. We use dark chocolate chips in our pancakes, and the flavor combination got me thinking- a pancake’s a lot like a cookie, why not add the bacon and get the dark chocolate/bacon combination in a cookie? What the heck- it’s only batter right?

What I discovered was that if you fry the bacon super crispy, and use a thin, very meaty cut, it adds an almost rice-like crunch to the cookies. Plus the extra salt really compliments the chocolate. These cookies won’t be to everyone’s taste. And, if you’re taking them someplace, you should probably note that they’re not vegetarian. Bacon is not exactly an ingredient you go looking for in a cookie. But, if you love dark chocolate, and you love bacon, then I’m pretty sure you’ll gobble up a batch of these like there’s no tomorrow!

* As a postscript, when I researched the Vosges link, I noticed that they’ve just come out with a dark chocolate bacon bar. Someone at that company’s been thinking! I’ll be going out tomorrow to look for it, taking a bacon chocolate chip cookie with me, of course!


Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie

makes about 30 cookies


1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs brought up to room temperature

1/2 cup Maple Syrup

1 cup sweet rice flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1/4 cup potato starch (not potato flour)

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup crispy bacon pieces (about 1 lb of bacon prior to cooking)

1 1/2 -2 cups chocolate chips


Cook bacon strips over medium-low heat until very crispy (the key to crispy but not burned bacon is the lower heat). Set aside on a towel to drain.

Preheat oven to 375. Remove butter and egg from refrigerator. In a non-mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients and set aside.

Place butter in basin of stand mixer, or in a bowl if you’re using a hand mixer. Add sugar.     Turn stand mixer to medium and cream for about 3 minutes- until butter and sugar are thoroughly mixed together and have the consistency of a creamy paste. (If you’re using a hand mixer this may take a little longer)

Add the vanilla and 1 egg. Continue mixing until egg has been absorbed. Add the second egg. Continue mixing until egg has been absorbed. At this point, if it’s a hot day, the batter may look a little lumpy/watery. If this is happening to you, add a little bit of the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Then, add maple syrup by slowly pouring into the batter while still mixing. Once maple syrup has been incorporated, add the dry ingredients a little at a time until thoroughly mixed. Add bacon and chocolate chips.

With a melon baller, or two spoons, place on a parchment covered cookie sheet and flatten gently. Cook for 11 minutes or until nicely browned. These cookies will be soft, not crispy.

Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread and Pan Seared Chipotle Corned Beef

Today is Bloomsday, a seemingly inconsequential day in the life of James Joyce’s Everyman- Leopold Bloom. Modeled on Homer’s Odyssey, the life of Bloom is juxtaposed against the heroic encounters of Ulysses on his return home from war. For those of us with a bit O’Irish heritage, it’s another excuse to enjoy corned-beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and of course, Guinness. That is if you’re not gluten-free. It’s Irish coffee for this mama, and gluten-free soda bread.

I feel as if I’ve been on my own epic journey, working to create a soda bread that is gluten-free and delicious. And after 11 (yes, count ‘em 11!) incarnations, I’ve finally hit upon the proper combination of flour, leavening and heat that allows for a crusty outside, a soft but not gummy inside, and a taste that rivals the real deal. Yes- this has been a journey. I’ve tried buckwheat, sorghum, eggs, no-eggs, more buttermilk, less buttermilk, used up bags of flours and at times, sighed deeply in frustration. Most went straight to the trash. The rest, my supportive and adventurous family tried, and kept giving me feedback until I got it just right.

Irish soda bread developed because the wheat used in Ireland was soft, less gluteny, and didn’t rise well when yeast was added. The leavening used is baking soda, which when combined with an acid liquid like buttermilk, creates air bubbles. It’s not supposed to be a tall bread, rather a little dense. Traditional Irish soda bread has four ingredients: flour, baking soda, buttermilk and salt. The gluten-free version has a little more than that. I tried to stick to the original 4 ingredients, but found that the loaf turned out like a hockey puck. The gluten-free version needed a little more acid than the buttermilk alone afforded, and a little additional structure/binder from an egg. Eggs are also considered an acid, so it helped with the leavening as well. Still, it’s a simple recipe, and will no doubt be used on non-Irish days around here. In fact, I think if you sliced it thin, brushed a little olive oil on it, and toasted it in the oven or on the grill, you’d have a great bruschetta.

As for the corned-beef recipe. This was one of those ‘happy accidents’ that happened last St. Patrick’s Day. Some friends came over for Irish dinner, and I didn’t realize until they had already arrived that the corned beef was supposed to simmer on the stove for the better part of a day. Oops… what arose was what Bob Ross would surely have called a ‘happy accident’- it was truly delicious, and far more interesting than your average corned-beef. While the directions call for pan searing, this could easily be accomplished on the grill, and enjoyed this summer. So as the Irish say: Sláinte!

Gluten Free Irish Soda Bread

makes one 9 inch round loaf


2 cups tapioca starch

1 cup millet flour

1 tbs baking powder

2 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

2 tbs honey

2 tbs cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 tsp baking soda


Preheat oven to 450. Lightly grease a pie pan and place on the center of the stove (this preheats the pan a little) Place all dry ingredients except baking soda in a food processor. Place the egg, honey and vinegar in a bowl and mix until frothy. I used my stand mixer for this, but you could use a hand mixer, or even a wire whisk.

Add buttermilk and briefly incorporate. Turn on the food processor and allow dry ingredients to mix. In the liquid bowl, sprinkle the baking soda over the buttermilk liquid and mix until frothy. Turn off the food processor and immediately add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until just incorporated.

With a spatula, turn the batter onto the pie plate. The batter will be sticky. Smooth the surface of the batter, but don’t squish it down- the batter should be a little rounded. With a sharp knife, make a deep cross in the batter- dividing the batter into 4 triangles. Then with the knife cut a deep slice in each of the triangles. This helps facilitate rising, and will allow you to pull chunks of the bread apart once it’s finished.

Place the pie plate in the 450 degree oven for 5 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350 and set the timer for 30 minutes. The top should be nicely browned and crusty. Turn the warm bread upside down onto a towel and allow to cool. Flip right side up once it’s cooled and enjoy with butter or jam.

Pan Seared Chipotle Corned Beef  


Take a 2 lb corned-beef brisket and slice in half horizontally (cutting the thickness by 1/2) Sprinkle chipotle seasoning on each side of the brisket pieces. Depending on the size of your cooking pan, you may need to cut the brisket halves into smaller sections.

Using medium-high heat, sear the brisket on the first side until the meat pulls away from the pan- about 5 minutes. Flip and sear again, turning down the heat after 5 minutes and putting the lid on. Allow to cook for an additional 6-8 minutes, or until you’ve reached the desired doneness. Serve with horseradish mayonnaise or mustard.



Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Crisp Topping (gluten free)

A crisp? A pie? A crispie? “The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play..” So begins the first line of The Cat in the Hat. And, as I lay in bed this morning listening to yet another round of thunder and pouring rain, I knew that no yard work would be accomplished today. The weeds and the grass would be left to grow another six inches while I daydreamed of strawberries and rhubarb, and remembered that it was my grandfather’s favorite pie. I’ve been working on a strawberry rhubarb crisp lately, but haven’t gotten it quite where I wanted it. So I lay there contemplating the possibility of a pie with a crisp topping. Sometimes apple pies have streusel topping, would it work for a strawberry-rhubarb pie? Why not?

If you’re baking a shell prior to filling it: Preheat the oven to 375. Take a second pie plate and grease the outside. Place the greased pie plate on top of the crust and cook for 20 minutes. This will keep the crust from collapsing. Remove from the oven and gently remove the greased pie plate. Your crust is now ready for filling. If you need to keep cooking the bottom of the crust, you may prick the bottom part of the crust with a fork, and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Alternately, if you have pie crust balls, or marbles, you may use those in lieu of a second greased pie plate.





Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m feeling my way through this whole gluten free baking world. To be honest, I’m much more comfortable just throwing a bunch of ingredients together, tasting, adding a bit of this, a pinch of that, and calling it delicious. The act of writing down what I cook and how has been great discipline. It’s also had me scrambling for scraps of paper as I hit on something worth posting. My children’s pictures on the refrigerator now have competition in the form of slips of paper with hastily scrawled ingredient lists and bare-bones instructions.

As for the baking; I’ve reluctantly ventured into this land of exact measuring and scientific experiments because I want my children to experience the pleasures of school birthdays and other community gatherings without feeling completely strange or left out. I was an allergic child and remember keenly the feelings of isolation and loneliness that accompanied not being able to eat the same food as everyone else. So, for the love of my children I go where I never dared before- the gluten free baking aisle.

It’s not without its pitfalls mind you; too much of one ingredient, not enough of something else is a recipe for disaster- a lead-like clump of half-cooked goo.

My friend Maria will tell you about one such disaster. She is an especially talented pastry cook. Her creations are beautiful, artistic, and my husband tells me they taste heavenly too. Feeling cocky and confident after the holidays last winter, I invited her over for a gluten free baking experience. That’s exactly what it was- an experience. We followed the chosen recipe to the letter and got heavy, tasteless, colorless cardboard. A step above goo. Now, the girls had the time of their lives cooking with us, but the experience for me was humbling and it left Maria questioning why anyone bothers with gluten free anything. I bother because it’s less expensive than purchasing pre-made goods, and because there’s something deeply satisfying about making food so delicious that people smile and sigh when they taste it. Gluten free cooking at its best should give everyone that response, even if they can eat gluten.

My daughter is headed off on an overnight school trip, and like many places, the camp she’s going to won’t accommodate gluten allergies. So today I dug deep and came up with these lovelies that earned the seal of approval from both her teachers- one of whom is a former pastry chef, neither of whom live gluten free. That smile and sigh? It’s worth all the kitchen disasters to see someone enjoy a chocolate chip cookie like that.



Creamy Polenta & Bok Choy

An unlikely yet delicious marriage, bok choy and polenta. The weather was still foul here late last week and out of necessity I reverted to hearty, warming, cool weather dishes. Of course spring veggies and the CSA pick-up wait for no one, so the challenge was pairing hearty winter food with vibrant spring produce. The result was a culture clash of new and beautiful flavor combinations. I’ll be making this again, but this time for sheer pleasure.

Creamy Polenta

serves 6


1/2 onion, diced

2 tbs olive oil

3 cups water

2 cups chicken stock or bouillon

2 cups of corn flour (corn meal is thicker, but will also work)

1 bag of frozen, diced butternut squash, about 4 cups

1 cup half-n-half (if you’re feeling really decadent use heavy cream)

2 cups parmesan


Preheat oven to 375. In a 4 quart pan, saute the onion in the olive oil. When the onion is translucent, add water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine stock and corn flour and allow to stand. When the water begins to boil, add corn mixture and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. Pour half the mixture into a large oven proof dish. (I use my trusty deep-sided cast iron skillet, but a large casserole will also work)

Sprinkle half the cheese over the mixture and add all of the frozen butternut on top. Cover with remaining corn mixture and sprinkle remaining parmesan on the top. Drizzle the half-n-half over the entire mixture and place in the oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly and most of the cream has been absorbed.

Note: There are other ways to cook polenta, this is just my favorite way. You can make it much more quickly on the stove top by bringing to boil 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of milk or half-n-half. When it boils, quickly stir in 1 cup of cornmeal or corn flour. Whisk quickly until it’s all mixed in, stir in 4 tbs butter and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Put the lid on and take off the heat. It will be ready in 10-15 minutes. You could stir it constantly until it thickens, but why when the heat from the pan will thicken it for you with a lid on? Then again, if you like stirring…..and sometimes I do!

Sauteed Bok Choy

This method could be used with any spring green from spinach, to kale, to hon tsai tai. Even dandelion greens would taste great this way.


1 large head of bok choy- approximately 4 cups

1/2 onion, diced

3 tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes- more if you like it hot!


Separate leaves and wash. Cut stems from the leaves and slice thinly.  Chop leaves into small pieces and set aside. Add olive oil to a warm pan and immediately add red pepper flakes. Saute for about 1 minute.

Add onion and saute another 2 minutes. Add bok choy stems and saute for 1 minute. The trick here is to let the stems soften but to not cook them to the point of being mushy. They add a nice crunch if they don’t cook too long. Add leaves and saute another minute before turning off the heat. There should be enough heat in your pan to allow the leaves to fully wilt without overcooking them. Remember, bright green leaves allow for the fullest flavor and nutrient delivery. Besides, nobody likes the look of overcooked, grey-green leaves- it’s why no one likes canned spinach- well except for Popeye- but he wasn’t exactly a food snob.

Serve over polenta and garnish with additional cheese if you like. Remember- use the greens and ingredients you have on hand. Don’t have an onion? Use a shallot, or a leek. Don’t have parmesan? Use cheddar, jack, or what you do have on hand. Give yourself permission to play with the flavors. You’re sure to come up with something delicious!

Carne Adovada, Gluten-Free Tortillas and Gluten-Free Cornbread

It’s been unseasonably cold here in the midwest. Cold and rainy. In fact, I’ve worn my rainboots so much I feel like I’m in Seattle or London. Alas, there are no flannel wearing, coffee consuming grunge-types to greet me, nor are there clipped accents, cockney cabbies, or the smell of fish and chips wafting out of every corner pub. Not that I could consume said fish and chips…. I’d have to make my own…. So, what’s a girl to do when the sun should be shining on the glorious garden flowers, and instead they’re bending from the pounding of the rain? Turn on a little desert heat. Oh yes- a red chile, southwestern, New Mexico cuisine extravaganza. The heat from the sun has been replaced by the belly warming desert heat of red chile. In the form of carne adovada of course. A shoulder of pork smothered in red chile sauce and slow cooked at low heat until the whole house is warm and toasty with the smell of it. It’s sure to bring a little sunshine to wherever you are and a smile to your face.

Carne Adovada                  

Serves 6-8


1 pork shoulder or pork butt- approximately 2-3lbs

1/2-1 cup of red chile powder (for authentic New Mexican flavor, get dried Hatch red chiles and crush them in your food processor. Be Advised- if you do this, wait 2 minutes for the powder to settle before transferring from processor to container. Or, wear a mask. Inhaling red chile powder is an experience you won’t forget.. Ever.)

2 cups of warm chicken stock

1tbs cornstarch (optional)

1 small can of tomato paste (optional)

A note: You can let this slow cook all night and serve for breakfast, or cook all day and serve for dinner. I get a side of pork every year from a local farmer, so 16-18 hours before I want to serve my meal I set my frozen pork on the counter in a bowl and let it thaw. This means I either leave it out all night and the carne cooks all day, or I leave the meat out all day and the carne cooks all night. It’s pretty easy, but it is a meal you have to plan for.

6-8 hours prior to the meal you want to serve the carne, turn the oven to 200. Cut the carne into 2-3 inch chunks and place in an oven safe container. Place the chile powder in a bowl and slowly add chicken stock. If you want a thick, hot chile sauce, use less stock and omit the tomato paste. If you want a milder sauce, but still want it thick, use the full 2 cups of stock and add the cornstarch and tomato paste. Add the cornstarch first. Do this by placing the cornstarch in a small cup or bowl and adding a ladlefull of the stock/chile mixture while whisking vigorously. Then add the cornstarch mixture back to the larger bowl of red sauce. The thickness and heat level is really up to you. My girls are starting to enjoy spicier food, so this has a bit of kick, but it won’t make your nose-hairs stand on end, or give you the hiccups. (Super spicy food always gives me the hiccups)

Pour the sauce (in whatever form you like it) over the carne, cover with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven. Walk away and come back 6-8 hours later. Garnish with fresh cilantro (from your garden if you grow it), and serve with gluten-free flour tortillas and gluten-free cornbread. Here’s a delicious gluten-free cornbread I developed especially to go with the carne. It’s a cakey recipe. Moist and not too crumbly. If you’re feeling wild and crazy add shredded cheese and green chiles to the recipe below. Put a little spanish guitar on the stereo, serve a sweet white wine or a Bard’s Tale Beer, and Olé! It’s a party!

Light & Fluffy Cornbread      

makes 16 squares


1 cup + 2 tbs corn flour (corn flour is a finer grind than cornmeal, but cornmeal is also ok)

1/2 cup millet flour

6 tbs tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)

2 tsp xanthan gum

2 heaping tsp baking powder

1/2 heaping tsp baking soda

1 cup milk

1/3 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (I used yogurt)

2 eggs

2 tbs agave nectar

3 tbs bacon fat or other oil ( e.g.canola, grapeseed, or melted butter)


Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease a 9×9 square pan. (no need to do this if you have clay, or nonstick bakeware)

In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients leaving out the bacon fat.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just incorporated. Add the bacon fat and mix thoroughly.

Pour contents into baking dish and put into the oven. Cook on the lower 1/3 of the oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy with honey, butter, jam, or your favorite condiment.

Traditional Risotto (gluten free)

Traditional Risotto is naturally gluten free, and when made with patience is a delicious experience for everyone at the table. This version includes a little flavor twist that will give your eaters a delicious surprise!

Yesterday was simply lovely. It felt like Spring. Even though there was still a little snow in the shadiest parts of the garden, the girls spent the whole day playing outside and climbing fences. Yes, climbing fences. The son of a friend visiting from out of town showed them how, and now they’re uncontainable. I realized watching them, that their experience is a metaphor for how we live, or don’t live. Didn’t we all climb fences or trees with ease and abandon when we were small? What’s happened to us in our adult lives that we’ve left this behind? For many of us, being diagnosed with celiac or any other major food allergy can feel a little, no- alot, like being fenced in. My advice to you…Start Climbing!! There is a world of beautiful, delicious food out there just waiting to melt all over your taste buds. Are you ready for adventure?

Here’s a spring risotto recipe inspired by the parsley shoots we discovered in the herb garden. While I have been, and always will be a pasta fanatic, I have come to appreciate the beautiful delicate flavors of risotto- especially in spring.




Begin Anywhere Going Gluten Free

A few days ago a close friend gave me this wise and prophetic advice- begin anywhere. This quote made famous by composer John Cage inspired me to officially start documenting my journey of self-discovery through gluten-free cooking. I was diagnosed with celiac (I choose not to view it as a disease) in 1998, shortly after I was married. Going gluten free back then was a challenge. Twelve years and 2 gluten-free daughters later I have learned to be fearless in my kitchen. I have learned and continue to learn from my daughters that there is more than one way to prepare a delicious, beautiful and abundant table.

On our pages you will find recipes, insights, ingredient explanations, lists of gluten-free friendly locations in the cities I’ve visited, links to helpful websites, and my personal gluten-free product recommendations. I hope that if you struggle with going gluten free, or know someone who does, that you will find this blog a valuable resource. Not only for information and support, but also for a laugh or a revelation or two.

Our kitchen and table is the center of our home. Its heartbeat and vibrant pulse is the marker we use to document our days. It has been our family’s philosophy that everyone is welcome at our table; that there is always enough, and always room for one more. It’s time for the joy, laughter and learning experienced at our table to be shared with you.