Sunday, August 26, 2012

North African Chicken Legs

 Inspired by watching The Food Network the other day, I decided to experiment with North African flavors. I'm always up for the challenge of trying out different cultures' cuisines and experimenting with new flavor combinations. This chicken combines warm spices like cumin with sweet spices like cinnamon, the heat of red pepper flakes with the sweetness of brown sugar and fresh mint leaves. Using the same old spices time after time can get boring. I like to spice things up (literally) in the kitchen and make new favorites and traditions.
-chicken legs
-2 garlic cloves
-1 onion, yellow or white
- cinnamon, cumin, red pepper flakes, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, ginger powder
-fresh mint leaves, green onions, cilantro
-multi-colored sweet peppers (I used about 4 small ones.)
-diced tomatoes (I used 1 7.76 oz. can for 12 chicken legs) including juice from can or from fresh tomatoes
- red wine (white would work too)
- olive oil

In a large pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in the chopped garlic and onions. Let simmer on low to medium heat for a few minutes. Then add in the tomatoes, peppers and all spices. As I don't measure each one out, just sprinkle a generous amount of each. If you need specific breakdowns, send me an e-mail, and I'd be glad to help. Add about 1/2 cup of the wine. Stir all together, creating your sauce. Then place the chicken legs in and stir around to coat all the legs with the sauce. Cover and let cook on medium. Meanwhile, chop up your fresh herbs on the side. Let chicken brown on medium for about 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to low and let slow-cook for another 10 or so, until the inside is white. Throw on the fresh herbs toward the end. 

Serve over rice or quinoa (as standard couscous is not gluten-free) :) Enjoy! I know I did...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eggplant Stuffed Peppers
We made these for a Sopranos marathon night along with other Italian food and appetizers inspired by a Sopranos cookbook.  Our mother used to make stuffed peppers growing up with ground beef and bread crumbs but we switched it up a little and used eggplant, tomatoes, black olives and corn meal to make it crisp on top.

6 bell peppers (We used a mix of orange, yellow and red)
2 medium eggplants
4 large tomatoes
1 can sliced black olives
diced garlic to taste
salt and pepper to taste
corn meal to sprinkle over peppers

First wash and dice the eggplant into small pieces. As you cut it, place the eggplant pieces in a strainer in the sink and sprinkle with salt. This will prevent discoloration and allow the eggplant to drain.  Once both eggplants are chopped sauté some fresh garlic in a little olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the eggplant and sauté for a couple of minutes then add the diced tomatoes and sliced olives. Sauté for a few more minutes until eggplant is soft but not mushy.

While the eggplant is sautéing, wash the bell peppers and cut a circle in the top. Remove the      stem and seeds. Place peppers in a casserole dish and layer the bottom of the dish with about an inch of water.  

Next, fill each pepper with the eggplant mixture and sprinkle with corn meal. Drizzle olive oil    
oil over the peppers and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until toasted and crisp on top.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Caribbean Turkey Mango Meatballs

I put these together for a cook-off at work, and they were a big hit! Their spicy and sweet flavor combination worked well together and kept the taste buds entertained!

Ingredients: Ground turkey, ½-1 cucumber, 1 red bell pepper, 1 mango, 1 jalapeño, cornmeal, plaintain chips, eggs, mango nectar, mango/island-y marinade, water, hot sauce

Spices: Jamaican all-spice, cumin, thyme, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, place the ground turkey, eggs (1 egg per 1 lb. of meat), cornmeal (a generous amount to coat), all the spices (generous, but go easy on the cinnamon and nutmeg), crushed plantain chips (a few handfuls). Mix thoroughly adding more dry ingredients as needed.  Roll into meatball shape, small or large, depending on how many you want to make. Place in a lightly-oiled baking pan or on a lightly-oiled baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes or until browned to your desire. Let cool then place in the crock pot.

In the crock pot, pour in ½ to a whole small container of mango nectar, full bottle of mango/island-y marinade of your choice, enough water to pretty much cover the meatballs, a few drops of hot sauce, chopped red pepper, cucumber, jalapeno, and mango. Stir to coat the meatballs. I just cooked on low for 1 hour, then just let warm. They’re already cooked so really just need to warm.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Polish Kielbasa and Sauer Kraut

   Being 1/4 Polish, I grew up eating this meal on occasion on some holidays and even a regular weeknight here and there. I've always liked it a lot and, as I want to carry on traditions from my background, will continue making this on my own and for my future family.


fresh (not smoked, pre-packaged) Polish sausage (kielbasa), found in your grocery store's meat department in the pork section (not all stores will carry it. If you're in Florida, Publix usually has it.)

sauer kraut (I get one bag per package of kielbasa), also usually found in the meat department near the pork section

1 onion, white or yellow, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
olive oil
black pepper 

In a collander in the sink, put the sauer kraut to let drain.

In a large frying pan, add in a layer of olive oil. Heat on a medium temperature. Add in the chopped onions and garlic. Let simmer. Add in the drained sauer kraut. Add more olive oil if needed. Stir all around to coat the sauer kraut with oil and let cook.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Meanwhile, chop the kielbasa into 3-5 inch pieces. Add them to the boiling water until cooked throughout. Then add them to the frying pan. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Let the kielbasa and sauer kraut cook until browned. Serve and enjoy.

Tomato Caprese

A classic Italian appetizer and one of my favorite snacks to eat. The cool, fresh tomatoes combined with the salty mozzarella cheese, sweet fresh basil and balsamic vinegar create a delicious, satisfying bite!

Tomatoes (whatever kind you like- the larger the tomato, the larger the slice will be for the appetizer)
Buffalo Mozzarella cheese (in the specialty cheese section of supermarkets- comes in a container with water)
fresh basil leaves
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Chop your tomatoes into thick slices. Arrange on a plate. Chop the mozzarella cheese into squares or rectangles, and place on top of the tomatoes. Chop your fresh basil leaves into small pieces. Sprinkle over the tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top and a few dashes of salt and pepper, if desired. (The cheese has salt so I wouldn't add much more salt.) 

And there you have it-- a healthy, put-a-smile-on-your-face (well mine anyway) kind of dessert that only takes minutes to prepare! Buon Appetito!

**OPTION-- If you love grape or cherry tomatoes like I do, you can do a different version of this on skewers with the smaller tomatoes and small mozzarella cheese balls.

Chicken with pineapples

   A friend of mine gave me this idea a few years ago, and I fell in love with the combination of soy sauce and pineapple. I knew I always liked grilled warm pineapples at restaurants on skewer dishes and all, but this dish surprised me. It's very simple to make but has great flavors, sure to please.


Chicken breasts or tenders
Canned chopped pineapple chunks with the juice
Soy sauce (gluten-free)
White wine (optional)
olive oil
1 or 2 garlic cloves
½-1 onion, chopped
Peas (canned, frozen or snowpeas) or other vegetable of your choice. (Spinach works too)

Chop up chicken and brown in a frying pan with olive oil. Add in chopped garlic and onions. Simmer for a few minutes. Meanwhile, pour in some soy sauce and white wine. (enough to coat/flavor the chicken-depending on how many breasts you use) Add the pineapple chunks and some of the pineapple juice from can. Add peas. Stir and simmer until the chicken and peas are cooked.

Chicken Fried Rice

I love Asian food of all kinds. This is a classic Chinese dish found in most Chinese restaurants. This is the simple way I make it, and it's had many fans.       

2 cups of rice
chicken tenders or breasts, cut up into bite-sized chunks
gluten-free soy sauce 
1 egg
pack of frozen Asian vegetables
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
garlic powder
onion powder 
black pepper
olive oil
ground cayenne pepper (for a spicier version)

In a large pot, add the uncooked rice with about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower and cover until cooked. 

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or wok lined with warmed olive oil, place the chopped garlic and onions.  Let simmer for a few minutes, then add the chicken, and cook until chicken is white inside. Add in a generous amount of soy sauce and the frozen veggies, and simmer until veggies are cooked. Then add the cooked rice into the frying pan or wok, and stir until everything is mixed. Add more soy sauce as needed until rice is a light brown color. (For a less saltier version, use low sodium soy sauce) Taste as you go to make sure it's not too salty. Season with garlic and onion powders, and if you're going for the spicy version, the ground cayenne pepper as well.

In the same large pot that is now empty after the rice, add in the cracked egg, and stir around for a few minutes until cooked. Then add into the wok or frying pan with everything else.  

Cover the frying pan or wok and let it all stir fry together for up to 10 minutes. Then serve. 

This is a great option for anyone and is quick for weeknights. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

These chips are a party favorite! I've recently made these for several BBQs and get-togethers, and they were very popular. They're simple to make as well, and a quick snack to throw together at the last minute. 

1 package corn tortillas

In a deep pot, add in a thick layer of either canola or vegetable oil, and heat on a medium temperature until hot. Meanwhile, cut your tortillas into either 4 or 8 triangles. (Stack them to cut many at once.) Line a large bowl with paper towels for preparation. In a bowl or Tupperware, mix an even amount of cinnamon and sugar. Add in about 1 tsp or 2 of salt. Mix all together. When oil is hot, place in as many tortilla triangles that can fit in the pot. (Don't overcrowd) Let tortillas brown on each side (flip after the sides get brown) usually for about 1 minute. Scoop chips out with a straining utensil. Shake off excess oil and place into paper towel-lined bowl. Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar and salt mixture over hot chips. Coat both sides. Repeat until all chips and fried and coated.


Pepper Steak

Growing up, our family ate this dish a lot. Over the years, our mother taught us how to make it. Since then, I've added in some extra ingredients to learn how my version is made with some of my favorite ingredients. It's now one of my favorite things to cook up. It's quick enough for a weeknight, unique enough for a potluck or to entertain and really flavorful.

2 large steaks, cut into small pieces
soy sauce (gluten free brands)
red wine
2 or 3 bell peppers (any color)
1 or 2 zucchini
1 package of mushrooms (whole or sliced)
1 onion (white or yellow)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
ginger (fresh grated and/or powdered- I used both)
sesame seeds 
vegetable oil 
black pepper

In a large skillet, add in about 2 tbsp of oil and heat on medium temperature. Add in the chopped garlic and onions and let simmer for a few minutes. Then add in the chopped veggies. Pour in enough soy sauce to coat everything (probably between 1/2 cup and 1 cup) and about 1/2 cup of red wine. Add in a few large pieces of fresh ginger and/or a generous coating of powdered ginger. (I love ginger so I used both) Add in the steak and a generous coating of sesame seeds and black pepper. Mix all ingredients together. If more soy sauce and wine is needed, add more.  (You shouldn't need to add salt as the soy sauce already has a lot in it, but add salt if needed.)

*Tip- marinating the steak overnight or at least for a couple of hours gives a more intense flavor. Marinate in the soy sauce, red wine and mix in chopped garlic and some ginger. Cover and refrigerate.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tilapia and Shrimp Ceviche

This Central and South American delight is really delicious and quick to make. I always order it at restaurants but recently just made it myself for the first time, then made it several more times after that.

Tilapia filets (I used the 6-pack of frozen filets)
shrimp (I used about half a pack of frozen shrimp)
juice of 2 limes
juice of 1 lemon
1 red bell pepper
1 red onion
chopped green onions
1/4-1/2 bunch chopped cilantro
black pepper
1/4-1/2 hot pepper or some dried red pepper flakes

If your seafood is frozen, defrost first. Chop up all seafood and place into large bowl. Squeeze the juice of 2 limes and 1 lemon over the fish and mix to coat. Then chop up all vegetables and add in. Add in all spices. Stir, cover and let sit in refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes until fish is white or opaque. Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Asian/Indian party meatballs OR Asian/Indian spaghetti & meatballs

A different take on a classic: spaghetti and meatballs OR a unique appetizer for your next party. Everyone always loves those little party meatballs- these have a flavor sure to please all. I love all kinds of Asian food, and have started experimenting with Indian spices in the last few years. And mixing Asian and Indian flavors together is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen.

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 piece of gluten-free bread, grounded into crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. yellow curry powder
  • 2-3 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp. dried cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp. parsley flakes
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 tsp. coriander 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Then form/roll into small-medium ball shapes. Place on a baking sheet, and bake meatballs for about 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large pot on medium temperature, add the following to create the sauce:
  • 1/2 carton of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free soy sauce (Wal-mart brand or La Choy)
  • 1 tbsp. Colgins Liquid Smoke
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seed oil
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar 
Heat to a boil, then reduce to a low temperature to keep warm. When meatballs are done in the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then add them into the pot with the sauce to coat with the liquid. (You could also do this in a crock pot slow-cooking for hours, but this is a faster version)

To make this into a meal, place meatballs aside and cook 1 package of rice noodles or Asian Bean Thread noodles in the sauce mixture for a few minutes until tender. Add noodles into a bowl with a few meatballs and top with some fresh chopped cilantro. (Optional: add in some shrimp)

Jessica’s Classic Spicy Chili With A Twist

Everyone loves chili. And there are so many versions out there. My chili is probably slightly different every time I make it- different beans, different peppers, beef or turkey, etc. It's so versatile. Growing up, our Mom always made chili-roni with pasta added in. These days, I always make rice on the side and eat it all with tortilla chips. I like to make my chili spicy, but it can always be toned down for those who can't handle the heat. Here's what you'll need for this version.

  • about 1 tbsp olive oil, vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (any colors)
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey or beef
  • 3 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes (use juices too-don't drain)
  • 1 can tomatoes in sauce form
  • 3 tbsp. Colgins Liquid smoke 
  • 2 15.5 oz. cans dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed) (could substitute black beans)
  • 1 15.5 oz. can pinto beans (drained and rinsed) 
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 2 3 & 1/2 oz. packages of Goya Chorizos (sausage), chopped (pre-cooked, ready to serve)
  • 2 tbsp. Spanish or regular paprika
  • about 5 tbsp. of chili powder or Hot Mexican Chili Powder
  • 2  tbsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1-2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. cumin (seeds or ground)
  • 2 tbsp. Mexican or regular oregano
  • 3 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. parsley flakes or fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • (optional) 1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
In a large pot on medium heat, add the oil. When heated, add the chopped onions and garlic. Simmer for a few minutes. Then add the ground meat. While meat is browning, add all spices. After meat has browned, add the bell peppers, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add the hot sauce and Liquid Smoke. Add all beans and chorizo. Let all ingredients cook together for probably about 20 minutes on a low-medium temperature. Taste as you cook. Add extra spices as needed. Top with fresh cilantro. 

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Brown Rice Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

    As a great comforting, rich meal, risotto always comes to mind when needing something simple and very versatile. With risotto dishes, you can add in your favorite ingredients and vegetables. Arborio rice is what you're supposed to use for risotto but, it's pretty expensive, so I make it with whatever rice I have on hand, and no

    1 1/2 cups of rice (brown, white, jasmine, basmati, arborio, wild- your choice)
    1 bunch of asparagus
    1 package of sliced mushrooms
    1 onion (yellow or white)
    1 clove garlic
    1 carton vegetable broth
    about 3 cups of white wine
    salt and pepper
    Italian seasoning
    fresh basil and parsley
    1/2-1 cup Parmesan or Romano grated cheese

    one ever complains. No rules in my kitchen. If it tastes good, then what does it matter? On New Year's Eve, I made a champagne risotto with mushrooms and black olives. This version is made with white wine.  

    In a large skillet lined with extra virgin olive oil, heat on a low-medium temperature. Add your chopped garlic and onions, and let cook for a few minutes. Then add in your rice, and stir to coat with oil. Add in 2 cups of vegetable broth and 1 cup of white wine. Add a few dashes of salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce temperature to low. When liquid is mostly absorbed, add in another cup of both the broth and the wine as well as your mushrooms. Cover again and let liquid absorb. Meanwhile, break off the ends of your asparagus at the natural breaking point, then chop the remaining portions into about 1-inch pieces. Add them into the skillet, stir and re-cover. When liquid becomes absorbed again, add in another cup of both the broth and white wine. Continue to let slow cook. If you're pressed for time, turn up the temperature some. When liquid becomes fully absorbed, top off with your grated cheese and freshly-chopped herbs. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve and thank me later. :] Just kidding. Enjoy!

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Steak Filets with Onions and White Rice

    • filets of steak
    • 1/2-1 onion, white or yellow
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 1/2-1 cup red or pink wine
    • extra virgin olive oil
    • fresh basil and parsley leaves
    • 1 cup white rice
    • 1/2 cup frozen or canned peas and carrots
    • citrus black pepper (grind) or plain black pepper
    • Italian seasoning or just rosemary/thyme

    I don't know about you, but I love onions, and when they're smothering a tender piece of steak, bring it on! Yum. This is an everyday quick meal ideal for weeknights.

    In a medium saucepan lined with the extra virgin olive oil , toss in 1 chopped garlic clove and about 1/4-1/2 of the chopped onions. Let them cook for a few minutes on a low-medium temperature. Then toss in the rice, and stir around to coat. You can either let it cook for a little while like that, in just the oil, to get the rice partially crispy or immediately add the water, about 2 1/2 cups. Turn the temperature up after water is added to a medium temperature to bring to a boil. Add in some garlic powder and onion powder for extra flavor as well as a couple dashes of salt and pepper. When boiling, cover pot and turn to a lower temperature. After about 10 minutes add in the veggies, stir around and re-cover. The rice should cook for about 15-20 minutes in total, until water is absorbed and rice is tender.

    Meanwhile in a medium or large frying pan (depending on how many steaks you're making) coated with extra virgin olive oil on a low-medium temperature (about a  4), toss in the remaining chopped garlic and onions and let cook for a few minutes on a low-medium temperature. Then add in your steak filets (stab them with a fork all over prior for added tenderness). Coat steaks with the wine. (For an Asian version, add in soy sauce to the mixture) Toss onions and garlic around and scoop some on top of the steaks. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Let cook to desired. I like it done medium, with some pink in the center. Toward the end, coat with the freshly chopped herbs.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Pasta Shells with Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce and Beef/Pork Meatballs

    If you love Italian food like we do and have never had a vodka cream sauce, you don't know what you're missing! This type of sauce is very popular in New York. Our parents grew up in Brooklyn so we frequently visit our relatives up there. A pasta with vodka cream sauce is pretty common on Italian restaurant menus up there, as well as elsewhere. We like to make our sauces from scratch for that extra home-cooked taste that our grandmother spoiled us with growing up. It's not the quickest meal, but it's perfect for a weekend when you have some time. And trust me, it will be so worth it when it's finished!

    3 large cans of pureed tomatoes, (not ready-made sauce) (if you prefer chunky, get 1 can of whole or diced tomatoes)
    1 1/2 cups of vodka (unflavored)
    about 1/2 of a small carton of heavy whipping cream
    2 onions (color of your choice)
    3 cloves of garlic
    spices: parsley, oregano, black pepper, salt, Italian seasoning (rosemary, thyme, etc.), basil
    about 1/3 cup of sugar
    about 1/2-1 cup of parmesan or romano cheese
    red pepper flakes-just 2 or 3 hits (optional)
    Italian sausage (mild, medium or hot-optional) (we use Johnsonville 6-packs a lot)

    In a large pot that has a lid, line the bottom with some extra virgin olive oil and put on a low temperature (about the 3 setting). Meanwhile, chop up your garlic and onions. Throw them in the pot. Stir. If you're adding sausage, cut your sausage into about 4-inch chunks or in half. Throw them in the pot, stir them in with the onions and garlic, adjust the temperature to medium (about 4 or 5) and cook until brown. Then pour in the tomato puree. Add in all spices and sugar. Be generous with the spices. The more the merrier. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours. Yes, that's right. Give it a taste and add in more of any spice needed. If it's still real bitter, add a little more sugar. Then add in the vodka and cook for 20 more minutes. After that, lower the temperature to low, add in the heavy whipping cream and finish it off with the grated cheese. Perfection. 

    2 pounds of ground beef
    1 pound of ground pork (ground turkey is another option)
    2 eggs
    about 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal (or gluten-free breadcrumbs) 
    spices: parsley, oregano, basil, black pepper, salt, Italian seasonings
    parmesan or romano cheese

    To prepare, get a large frying pan with some canola oil covering the bottom heating on a low temperature. (maybe about 3 or 4) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Use your judgment on whether or not to add in more breadcrumbs or seasonings. Roll into balls and place a bunch at a time in the frying pan. (Don't crowd the pan- make sure they are spaced out) Rotate them until all sides are browned and cooked throughout. On a platter with paper towels, let the meatballs cool and de-grease. Place them into the sauce. (optional)

    PASTA: We used shells but you could use any shape of gluten-free pasta. Cook per bag instructions.

    On your plates or bowls, place some pasta, cover with the sauce and a couple of meatballs. Garnish with some fresh chopped basil and chopped prosciutto for an extra salty bite. (optional)

    So yummy!! Yes, a little time consuming, but well worth it! Bring out your inner Italian cook!

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Shabtai Gourmet

    I just want to promote this gluten-free and other special diets online bakery as I've ordered from them a few times, and their products are really awesome. They're located in New York, but they will ship the majority of their products. I've had the 7-layer cakes and the rainbow cookies, but I plan to try the others as well. Check it out. :)

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Grandma's Pasta Salad With Broccoli

    Our Grandma frequently whips up this delicious pasta salad when we get together. As they say, Grandma's food is always the best. I've never tasted any of our Grandma's food that I didn't like. She's taught us a lot in the kitchen since we were young. I guess you can say she's been one of our cooking mentors. This pasta salad is easy and quick to make. All you need is:

    • GF rotini pasta (tri-colored or not)
    • broccoli-fresh or frozen
    • Good Seasons Italian dressing packet
    • a handful of grape or cherry tomatoes
    • black pepper
    Cook your pasta according to the package instructions. Simultaneously, cook your broccoli. (If frozen, go by bag instructions. If fresh, steam them until they reach the desired tenderness.) When both pasta and broccoli are complete, rinse under cold water to cool. Drain, then mix them together in a large serving bowl. Add in your tomatoes, chopped or whole, however you like. Sprinkle some black pepper. Coat with your dressing. Any Italian dressing would work. We frequently use the Good Seasons Italian dressing packet which instructs you how to make by mixing with olive oil and vinegar. But any store-bought dressing would do. Buon Appetito!

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    No Mayo Potato Salad

    A healthier option for a potato salad. Perfect for summer dinners/bbqs. Light and flavorful. What's not to love? I know I love this version of potato salad. I hope you will too. This dish has made it on the menu for many of our family bbqs in the last few years.

    Quick Ingredient Checklist:

    • 1 bag red potatoes
    • 2 or 3 celery stalks
    • 1 can sliced black olives
    • 1 red onion
    • handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • extra virgin olive oil
    • salt and pepper

    Chop up your potatoes into bite-sized chunks. Boil for about 10-15 minutes, until tender but not too mushy. Meanwhile, chop up your red onion and celery, place in a big serving boil and squeeze some of the lemon juice over them to help reduce the onion's strength. When potatoes are ready, drain and run cold water over them until they've cooled significantly. Then add potatoes into the celery and onion mixture, add in the olives, the rest of the lemon juice and some olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and desired. Garnish with the chopped basil leaves.

    Veggie Kabobs

    Another great summer bbq option! These colorful veggie kabobs bring something unique to the table. If meatless dishes aren't your thing, simply add on some chicken or beef. These are grilled on skewers, drizzled with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Extra veggies that won't fit on the skewer can be grilled on some foil. The picture above is before throwing on the grill. The one below is after. Here's what we put on our skewers:

    • zucchini
    • cherry tomatoes
    • red onion
    • pineapples
    • mushrooms
    • green peppers
    • orange peppers
    Chop up your ingredients into chunky skewer-friendly sizes, drizzle some olive oil over them, sprinkle some salt and pepper and any other flavors you'd like. Grill for just a few minutes until browned a little bit. Serve and enjoy.

    Bean and Corn Salad

    Quick Ingredient Checklist:

    1 can kidney beans

    1 can pinto beans
    1 can corn
    1 can lima beans
    2 cans black beans

    1/2-1 red onion, chopped
    cilantro (about 1/4-1/2 of a bunch), chopped
    extra virgin olive oil
    balsamic vinegar

    This is a great summer salad full of protein and is also a great vegetarian option. You can substitute whatever variety of beans you like. We added double black beans because those are one of our favorites! Need something different to bring to a summer bbq? This light and refreshing salad is a great choice.
    Simply mix all the beans and corn together in a large serving bowl. Add in the onion and cilantro. Dress with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add salt and pepper as desired.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Tuna Cakes

    These are so easy, fast and inexpensive to make. Perfect for a weeknight or quick meal. Compare to a crab cake, but much less expensive and just as delicious. And you can really add in whatever you want. This is usually how I make them.

    Quick Ingredient Checklist:

    • 3 eggs
    • 2 cans of tuna, drained
    • about 1/2-1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (or regular for non-Celiacs) (to make your own breadcrumbs: gf bread crumbled fine, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley flakes, Italian seasoning)
    • garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, salt
    • just a few spinach leaves (optional)
    • chopped hot pepper (optional) or a pinch or two of cayenne pepper
    • parmesan cheese (optional)
    In a bowl, mix the tuna and eggs until tuna is chopped small and eggs are thoroughly mixed. Mix in the breadcrumbs, spices, spinach, hot pepper or cayenne pepper and parmesan cheese and anything else you wanna throw in to try! If mixture is still too wet, add in more dry ingredients. Form the mixture into pancake shapes. In a frying pan on medium temperature with a little bit of oil lining bottom, fry one cake at a time a few minutes on each side until browned. And that's it!

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Strawberry Rice

    A refreshing unique summer sidedish! I recently tried this dish for the first time at a friend's bridal shower, and it became an instant favorite of mine. Some rice dishes are heavy, but this one is light and refreshing because of its fresh ingredients. All you need for it is wild rice, strawberries, olive oil and raspberry champagne blush vinaigrette.

    If you don't cook rice often, cook a cup of rice with double the amount of water. So if you're making 2 cups of rice, put 4 cups of water in the pot. Bring to a rapid boil, then lower the temperature until all the water is absorbed. When finished, let the rice cool.

    Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, chop up your strawberries! (If you don't like strawberries, try raspberries or other fruit of your choice.) I use a whole package of strawberries with 2 cups of rice, but you could use 1/2 or less if you'd like.

    When rice has cooled some, mix in the chopped berries and add the dressing. (Coat rice with olive oil and the champagne raspberry blush vinaigrette) Serve and enjoy!

    Mexican Chilaquiles


    Luckily, authentic Mexican food has many gluten-free options as corn tortillas are a staple in everyday cooking. In the past few years I've learned more and more about Mexican cooking, and I love it! With cilantro growing in my garden, fresh ingredients are right in the backyard! With this recipe, you can use either corn tortillas or corn tortilla chips.

    Quick Ingredient Checklist:
    • corn tortillas or tortilla chips
    • 1-3 jalapeños
    • 8-10 tomatillos
    • 1 bunch cilantro
    • 1/2-1 onion (any color)
    • heavy whipping cream
    • queso fresco (Mexican crumbling cheese)
    • chicken or meat of choice or beans if you're vegetarian
    • oregano
    • cumin seed or powder
    • salt n' pepper

      First, start by boiling 8-10 tomatillos (little Mexican green tomatoes, husked) and 1 or 2 jalapeños (depending on how spicy you like it- use 3 if you want it REALLY hot) for 5-10 minutes until darker green and soft. Then place them in a blender or food processor with some of the hot water, a bunch of chopped cilantro, 1/2-1 onion, any color (you don't need to chop fine as blender will), pinch of oregano, and some salt to make the green salsa. Then add in heavy whipping cream, about 1/4 to 1/2 of a small carton.

      Meanwhile, either boil 2 packages of chicken breasts or tenders OR you can cook them in a frying pan with some olive oil. Boil or cook until chicken is white throughout. Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Let cool for a few minutes, and then shred chicken into small pieces. (VEGETARIAN TIP: substitute chicken with 2 cans cooked pinto beans, blended with salt and a little water to help blend)

      In a large, rectangular baking dish, start layering tortillas or chips, shredded chicken, green salsa mixture and Mexican crumbling cheese (Queso Fresco). After all layers are complete, cover dish with foil and bake in the oven on 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

      Buen Provecho!

    Eggplant Mozzarella Pasta Dish

    Growing up in an Italian family, we've cooked it all. But sometimes, it's nice to try something new with familiar ingredients. Our Mom introduced us to this dish, and it is now one we eat often. It's a different and delicious take on a pasta dish. And just use gluten-free pasta to make it gluten-free. Here's how:

    Quick Ingredient Checklist:
    1 eggplant
    1 package shredded mozzarella
    2 cans diced tomatoes or 3 large fresh tomatoes
    1 onion, color of your choice
    1 package sliced mushrooms
    1 can black olives (optional)
    1 bell pepper, color of your choice
    2 boxes of gluten-free linguini (or regular for others)
    handful of fresh basil leaves
    salt n' pepper

    First, dice 1 eggplant and place in a collander in the sink to drain for about 15 minutes.

    Boil 2 boxes of linguini or fettuccini (gluten free if needed) in a large pot of salted water with a few drips of olive oil to help prevent sticking.

    Then, in a medium saute pan with some olive oil, place a large onion of your choice (white, yellow or red), chopped, for 2-3 minutes. Add either 2 cans of chopped tomatoes or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped, into the onion mixture with some salt and pepper.

    In a separate large saute pan lined with olive oil, cook the eggplant on medium to high for about 8 minutes. Then add 1 chopped bell pepper (color of your choice) and 1 package of sliced mushrooms to the mixture.

    Once those are both done, add the tomato mixture to the eggplant mixture.

    Mix in 1 package of shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 can of sliced black olives and chopped fresh basil to garnish.

    Serves approximately 6 people, depending on how Italian you are. ;)

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Shrimp and Scallops with Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice

    Mmmm this one I believe was called "Heaven in a Bowl" or at least that's what we named it at the moment. 

    We sauteed shrimp and scallops on low heat in some butter and salt and pepper for 3-5 minutes (until they were white throughout), topped it with our mango salsa (2 chopped mangos, 1/2 red onion, 1 avocado, 1/2-1 red bell pepper, 1 jalapeno (if you can't handle the heat, leave out or use half) and a bunch of cilantro coated with lime juice (juice of 1 lime) over coconut rice (cooked about 1 cup of rice (jasmine, basmati, whatever you have on hand) with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 can of coconut milk, chopped onions and garlic).... YUM