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strawberry rhubarb jam

published 2 years ago, at the start of March

Since we’ve relocated to the East Coast from Colorado, we haven’t stopped longing for the house specialty at a charming little restaurant in downtown Boulder called Lucile’s Creole Cafe. The owners actually converted a tiny two-story Victorian house into a restaurant. Its exterior is painted pale yellow with white trim and it boasts a wonderful front porch for dining al fresco. It’s quaint, homey and super delicious.

Back when I could eat anything on the menu I used to order this egg dish called Eggs Jennifer. It’s not unlike Eggs Benedict – except everything under the hollandaise is vegetarian: egg, avocado, tomato and spinach. So darn good. But, the best part – oh, the total best part – was the buttermilk biscuit that was served alongside it. It’s world famous. At least in that part of the country. As if that wasn’t enough, every table is graced with a sizable jar of strawberry rhubarb jam. I am not ashamed to admit that my serving of breakfast included more jam than buttermilk biscuit. This is the kind of thing that is so incredibly good that it’s conceivable to eat the whole jar with a spoon. (No, I never did by the way).

strawberry rhubarb jam

Spring is almost here. And this is the perfect thing to indulge in as both strawberries and rhubarb come into season. This is by far one of the easiest jam recipes you’ll ever make. Twenty minutes from start to finish. Love that.

Ingredients:

2 cups organic strawberries (measure when hulled and quartered)
2 cups rhubarb, (halved lengthwise and diced into 1/4 inch pieces – again measure when diced)
1 Tblsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 Tblsp maple syrup (I use Grade B)
4 Tbslp brown sugar
(I use an unrefined Brown sugar called Mascobado by Alter Eco)

1.) Place all ingredients into a saucepan, stir to coat fruit with sugar.
2.) Simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes. The goal is to keep it simmering NOT boiling. Too high of a heat will negatively impact the consistency.
3.) Turn off the burner. Using the back of a fork, press down breaking up the fruit. Let cool. It will thicken a bit as it cools.
4.) Transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Or can according to canning guidelines.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.

This recipe is linked to Aimee’s surprise baby shower and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday over at Amy’s.

turnip and carrots

published 2 years ago, mid-January

Raise your hand if you’re a wee bit intimidated by turnips? I totally hear you: they are not really considered a mainstream vegetable. I mean, could anyone even name a half-dozen recipes including them off the top of their head?  My only association with turnip  comes directly from my mom:  this little gem of a recipe is passed down from her. We grew up on this stuff. In fact, we have it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. It just isn’t the holidays without it. I think it’s really something you can feel great about eating right past the holidays because it’s really good for you.  That’s right — this beautiful little side  dish is chock full of nutrients.

I think it’s really important to buy turnips (or any vegetable or fruit for that matter) in season. If you decide to try turnip in the dead of summer for the first time ever – chances are it’s not going to taste very good. You’ll be scarred for life, writing off this low-starch vegetable forever. They are in season now (fall and winter).

If you’re a little more adventurous, you can eat turnip raw just like  jicama (if you matchstick it and use it with dip as crudite or something). But, my kids won’t go for that. They’ll eat turnip if it’s hiding in a dish like this one here. I only ever use carrots “with tops” for this recipe because they are fresher, a bit sweeter and not as dry and bitter (read, ancient) as bagged carrots. The natural sweetness complements the turnips perfectly. The best part is, you don’t really need to season with butter or oil either. The steamed vegetables are just perfect on their own, playing to the tune of their own little two ingredient symphony.

turnip and carrots (serves 4)

Equal parts turnip and carrots
organic turnips (2 turnips = 1 lb)
bunch of organic carrots with tops (1 bunch = 1 lb)
salt to taste

1.) Peel the turnips and cut unto 1 inch chunks (no need to be too precise here – it’s going to be mashed up later)
2.) Peel and chop the carrots so that they are the same size as the turnip pieces – so they cook/steam evenly)
3.) place in a steamer basket until tender when pierced with a fork (about 20 – 25 minutes).
4.) Remove lid and let cool.
5.) Place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade, season with some salt, then pulse (about 8-10 times) until coarsely chopped.

Got a hankering for another turnip recipe? Try this turnip, parsnip and apple soup. This post is linked to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

coconut cashew chicken tenders

published 2 years ago, at the start of January

Ever have one of those moments where you refuse to give up something as good as say, chicken tenders? In our house, we have had to eliminate a record number of foods over the past 5 years (since diagnosis). And we are better for it. Our guts are stronger. We are healthier. The tough part? We are still working on it. Being healthy and strong doesn’t happen overnight. It happens one meal at a time. One day at a time. One thing is for sure, it certainly hasn’t been the easiest road. We’ve hit some bumps along the way but we are committed to making every single bite count nutritionally speaking. In our house, we try not to talk about the food we can’t eat. Instead, we celebrate the hundreds of things we CAN eat. As such, I am constantly reevaluating, reassessing, reinventing recipes that suit our current dietary concerns. Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

Speaking about new things on the block , there’s a recently-launched website to tell you about. It’s called The Balanced Platter (TBP) and it serves as a one-stop shop for balanced, healthy gluten-free living. The site will offer ideas from your favorite gluten free bloggers about how to live well on a gluten-free diet  – anything from recipes to tips, from how-to’s to product reviews.

The site is the brainchild of Amy Green of Simply Sugar and Gluten-free and Maggie Savage of She Let Them Eat Cake. Throughout the year, perhaps you’ll even see guests posts over that way from yours truly. In the meantime, however, Amy and Maggie are kicking off their new site in style. Each day in January, a different gluten free blogger will be posting/sharing a healthy gluten free recipe. For a complete list of who is posting when, please click here. You can also find TBP on Facebook or by following @balancedplatter on Twitter. As a celebratory round-up, TBP will be giving away a baking gift pack to one lucky reader on February 1st. Many thanks to Amy and Maggie!

*   *   *

No matter the main course, we try to have a side of greens with our dinner each day. We’ll take all the calcium we can get. If we’re having a salad, I typically incorporate a combination of three kinds of lettuce, depending on the season. I almost always sneak in some kale ribbons (kale leaves stacked, halved lengthwise, then sliced cross-wise super thinly). This cancer fighting vegetable is pretty nutrient dense. Did you know one cup of kale has more calcium than one cup of milk?  It’s great for your liver too.  Much to my surprise, all three of my children actually eat salad made with kale ribbons in it. Which makes me a happy mama. Both coconut and kale are warming foods – perfect for this time of year.  Even though the coconut is unsweetened, it has an ever-so-slight sweetness to it. They gobbled these tenders right up. Start to finish, you could have this meal on your plate in 30 minutes. Perfect for a busy weeknight.

coconut cashew chicken tenders

3-4 organic chicken breasts
1 1/4 cups raw cashews (unsalted)
1 1/4 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (I used Let’s Do Organic)
1 tsp sea salt (I use Real Salt)

1.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.) Place one chicken breast between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Using a meat tenderizer (mine is still in a box somewhere since our move 6 months ag0 – - so I just used the side of a pint glass) pound the chicken to a thickness of 1/3 inch. Repeat this step for each chicken breast.
3.) Cut each chicken breast into 2 inch strips (for each breast, you’ll likely have on/about 4 tenders).
4.) In the bowl of a food processor fitted with an “S” blade, place the coconut, cashews and salt. Process for about 20 seconds, until the mixture resembles large crumbs. Transfer mixture to a shallow plate/dish.
5.) Using a fork, press to coat each tender entirely with coconut/cashew mixture. Flip onto other side and press to coat there too. Transfer to baking sheet.
6.) Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Using tongs or a clean fork, flip the tenders over and bake another 9-10 minutes.

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (vegan), GFE’s home for the holidays and 3 giveaways

published 3 years ago, mid-December

I am honored to be participating in a wonderful event taking place now through December  23rd called Home for the Holidays – - Gluten Free Style. This celebration is the brainchild of my dear friend Shirley over at Gluten Free Easily. All together, we two dozen bloggers have come together to celebrate all the wonderful foods that say home to each of us. This could be a recipe that has been passed down through the  generations. Or perhaps it’s a brand new tradition you have begun with your family. Each day, one of us is sharing with you that one thing that captures the essence of the holidays. It’s no surprise that there have been some pretty amazing submissions thus far. And the future posts are sure to not disappoint.

Besides the fantastic recipes, the best part of this event is the near 100 prizes being given away.  There will be daily drawings for which you’ll have to comment to enter (below on my recipe submission). Each and every time/day you make a comment  it ups your chances for winning the grand prizes.  Just have a look-see at these beauties!

3rd prize: A Caveman Cookies prize pack (worth $89)

2nd prize: a shopping spree at Free from Gluten (valued at $150)

The grand prize: a Vitamix 5200 (valued at $550 – wow !)

Today, I am going to be giving away one copy each of these three fabulous books. Suffice it to say you can’t go wrong here – I don’t think it’s even possible to be unhappy about any one of these wonderful choices!

The Gluten Free Asian Kitchen

The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook

The Food Allergy Cookbook

To enter to win these books (and to be automatically entered into our grand prize drawing), you’ll need to :

  1. Leave a comment here sharing which dish/meal captures the essence of the holidays for you.
  2. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter using hashtag #home4holidays, Pin it or Stumble It. You may also post about it on your blog.  Make sure you leave a separate comment for each letting me know you did so.

This giveaway will be open until Thursday, December 15th at 11:59pm. Shirley will be announcing daily winners later this week/weekend. Please note that you must leave an e-mail address so we can contact you if you win! (See Shirley’s site for a complete list of prizes as well as daily/contest winners).

How else can you join in on the holiday fun? Share your own favorite gluten-free holiday recipe on your blog! Go ahead and grab Shirley’s Home for the Holidays badge and post away! Please be sure to check out Iris’ beautiful post from yesterday about baking with her grandma. Tomorrow, pay a visit to my good friend Jules’ blog to see what goodies she’s sure to post. Below is a complete list of participating bloggers  so you can look back to see what you may have missed – and who is posting in the remaining weeks so you won’t miss a thing!

Monday, 11/28–Shirley Braden at gfe–gluten free easily

Tuesday, 11/29–Diane Eblin at The Whole Gang

Wednesday, 11/30–Heidi Kelly at Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom

Thursday, 12/1–Ali Segersten at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

Friday, 12/2–Sunny Busby at And Love it, Too!

Saturday, 12/3–Stacy Toth at Paleo Parents

Sunday, 12/4–Maggie Savage at She Let Them Eat Cake

Monday, 12/5–Melissa McLean Jory at Gluten Free For Good

Tuesday, 12/6–Kim Maes at Cook IT Allergy Free

Wednesday, 12/7–Alexa Croft at Lexie’s Kitchen

Thursday, 12/8–Brittany Angell at Real Sustenance

Friday, 12/9–Elana Amsterdam at Elana’s Pantry

Saturday, 12/10–Kelly Brozyna at The Spunky Coconut

Sunday, 12/11–Ricki Heller at Diet, Dessert and Dogs

Monday, 12/12–Iris Higgins at The Daily Dietribe

Tuesday, 12/13–Stephanie Fourie at Gluten Free by Nature

Wednesday, 12/14–Jules Shepard at Jules Speaks Gluten Free

Thursday, 12/15–Silvana Nardone at Silvana’s Kitchen (and Easy Eats)

Friday, 12/16–Heather at Gluten-Free Cat

Saturday, 12/17–Carol Kicinski at Simply…Gluten Free

Sunday, 12/18–Alisa Fleming at Alisa Cooks

Monday, 12/19–Linda Etherton The Gluten-Free Homemaker

Tuesday, 12/20–Gigi Stewart at Gluten Free Gigi

Wednesday, 12/21–Zoe at Z’s Cup of Tea

Thursday, 12/22–Lillian Medville Lillian’s Test Kitchen

Friday, 12/23—Shirley Braden at gfe—gluten free easily

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

As far back as I can remember, my mom would bake for us. After school, we would come home to the most amazing smells…anything from freshly baked rustic bread loaves, to tea breads, cookies and lemon bars. As I have mentioned before, friends used to love coming over as there was always something “just out of the oven.” I want to be able to give my children that same memory. Whether it’s Christmas-time or not. Already they love being in the kitchen, helping to measure flour, operating the stand mixer and spooning cookie dough onto parchment. We’re making memories. And it’s so much fun.

These cookies are a favorite in our house because they are kid size – perfect for their little mouths. They are also a great bite-size dessert for a party. I brought these allergy-friendly treasures into school for both my daughter and my son’s Thanksgiving “feasts.”  It was the perfect treat because every single child in the class was able to eat one right off the plate. For children with allergies/food sensitivities there is no greater joy than to be able to have what everyone else is having. After all, food is about community, right?  It has an amazing way of bringing people together. I love that. These cookies also accompanied me just last weekend to the annual New York City Cookie Swap, a fundraiser for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer (sponsored by Bloggers without Borders). Ninety plus local foodies gathered together to support a great cause and share beautiful cookies all while ushering in the holiday season. So, these cookies have been around the block or two. I am so happy to be able to share them with everyone.

For my grain free friends, I posted this pumpkin chocolate chip cookie last year.

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (vegan, nut free, soy free)

1/2 c / 2oz / 57g sorghum flour
1/2 c / 4 oz / 114g brown rice (superfine)
2/3 c / 4 oz / 114g tapioca starch
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 c / 4oz / 114 g brown sugar
1/3 c / 3oz / 80ml oil (I used grapeseed)
1 c / 8oz / 228g organic pumpkin (I used canned)
1/3 c/3oz / 85g mashed banana
1/4 c / 2oz / 60ml maple syrup (I used grade B)
2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place sorghum, rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, salt, spices,  baking powder and soda in one bowl. Whisk to combine.
  3. Place brown sugar, oil, pumpkin, banana, maple syrup and vanilla in another mixing bowl. Whisk gently to combine.
  4. Transfer flour into wet ingredients. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the ingredients just until combined (overmixing here makes a sad cookie). Fold in the chocolate chips (if using).
  5. Spoon out batter in 1 tablespoon dollops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. I used a mini ice cream scoop. It’s just a wee bit bigger than a melon-baller. If you choose to make bigger cookies, be sure to adjust your baking time.
  6. Bake for 9 minutes. Leave cookies on parchment. Transfer/slide the parchment carefully onto a cooling rack.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the remaining cookie batter.
    Makes
    48 cookies.

pumpkin sage cake (vegan)

published 3 years ago, at the end of October

Just last weekend, I was strolling around the farmers market not too far from here with my dear friends Nancy and Amber. We had such a nice time catching up, sharing our latest food triumphs and – as per usual – brainstorming a bit about recipe ideas and possibilities. It is so nice to be able to spend a warm, sunny afternoon with people who love food as much as I do. Afterward, we headed over to a local spot to grab a bite to eat. I came home satiated – body and mind. And in my arms I carried a plethora of market goodies. Nancy kindly brought me a little something from her garden: a gorgeous and elegantly wrapped bunch of herbs,  a share from the last from her summer crop.

Fast forward 6 days:  I am calf deep in snow running around my yard with my ridiculously insufficient-for-the-task-at-hand broom, attempting to remove the heavy wet snow from the sagging leafed-out maple trees. It was eerily quiet save the sound of C-R-A-C-K — one beautiful branch after the next falling to the ground. Our town has faired worse than Hurricane Irene. Which was pretty bad. But, that’s another story. Instead of curbside snowbanks deposited by passing plows, heaping towers of broken branches have been dragged toward the street awaiting bulk pick-up. It’s all part of nature but it’s still heartbreaking.

Alas, I had planned on baking over the weekend. I typically spend a few hours cooking on Sunday, getting ready for weekly dinners and such. But, we were without power. It got down to a brisk and unpleasant 55 degrees inside our house. In some kind of miracle, power was restored late last night. Many many other parts of New Jersey are still without power so we are feeling pretty grateful. I peeled off my layers before climbing into bed and woke up this morning to a functioning oven. So I baked. And then I enjoyed a slice of this cake with a cup of tea – - silently reflecting on how important it is not to take anything for granted.


Pumpkin sage cake

This recipe was inspired by one over at Fine Cooking and by Nancy’s homegrown sage. If you are sensitive to xanthan gum, this recipe does work without it. However, it does come out a bit crumbly. The brown sugar I used is unrefined. Yes, it does exist. And it’s incredible. It’s called Mascobado (not Mascovado).  By all means, use regular if you can’t find it.

1 cup/4oz/112g sorghum flour
7/8 cup/ 4oz/ 114g Superfine brown rice flour
2/3 cup/ 3oz/ 84g tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup/6oz/ 171g smashed bananas (about 2 small bananas)
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves, loosely packed
3/4 cup/ 6oz/ 171g grapeseed oil
1 cup/ 5oz/ 141g brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup/ 4oz/143g maple syrup
1 15oz/425g canned organic pumpkin
2 tsp vanilla

1.) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.) Oil and lightly flour a bundt pan (I used a ceramic one – but beware – dark nonstick ones will make your GF baked goods cook/brown more quickly)
3.) In a medium mixing bowl, place the sorghum, rice, tapioca flours, xanthan gum, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk well and set aside.
4.) Heat the oil in a small saucepan (don’t let it smoke). Remove all the sage leaves from their stems and mince very well – so that they have the look/size of dried sage. Measure out 2 healthy tablespoons. Add them to the heated oil and let it infuse for about a minute. Take off the heat. Set aside to cool.
5.) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the bananas, brown sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin and vanilla. Add the cooled sage oil and whisk to combine.
6.) Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and spoon into prepared baking dish.
7.) Bake 45 minutes. Let cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before inverting/serving.

This post is linked to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. It’s also linked To Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Friday’s

melt-in-your-mouth eggplant

published 3 years ago, mid-September

A while back, we ordered take-out from a new local Japanese restaurant. I have a soft spot for Black Cod so I was thrilled when I saw it on the menu. It came with the most divine side: eggplant. Not just ordinary eggplant. It was cut into a round. And it literally melted in my mouth. I finally figured out how they did it. The key is to sear it before you bake it. This way, it doesn’t soak up a ridiculous amount of oil. This is one of those recipes that doesn’t require a recipe. My favorite kind.

My farmer Sam brought some of his white eggplants to the farm stand a few weeks ago. He highly recommended them because this particular (Japanese) variety had significantly less seeds than the purple variety. Not that I ever even considered the seeds as being an overbearing component to the vegetable. But, I admit I was intrigued. I bought four. He was so right: they were amazing.

Eggplant should be cooked the same day that it has been picked. It loses nutrients more rapidly than you would think. Eggplant is a non-starchy vegetable containing about ninety percent water, so it is naturally low in calories. And the skin is nutrient dense. If you can’t find organic, buyer beware, conventional eggplant is covered in wax.

Eggplant:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash then slice the ends off the eggplant.
  3. Cut into rounds, about 3/4 of an inch thick .
  4. Brown for 4-5 minutes per side on a non-stick griddle (with nothing on it: no salt, oil: nothing)
  5. Place the rounds on a parchment lined shallow baking dish.
  6. Using a pastry brush, use a small amount of oil (1-2 Tbsp for total recipe) to lightly brush the tops of the eggplant rounds.
  7. Sprinkle with salt (don’t be too stingy with the salt here).
  8. Bake for 20 minutes then serve. (Baking time depends on how thickly you cut your slices)

frozen cashew butter pie squares (for mikey)

published 3 years ago, mid-August

This past Sunday, the food blogging community was sent reeling. One of our very own, Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen, lost her husband in an instant to a heart attack. Mikey was young. Way too young.

Jennie is wonderful. And her sunny disposition and smile are contagious. She makes everything from scratch. And she’s passionate about it. Not only are her recipes simple and delicious, her site follows the seasons: anything using farmer’s market finds to canning. I’ve learned so much from her. And I feel honored to know her. Sadly, I never had the pleasure of meeting her amazing Mikey. Over the last couple of years, however, I have loved hearing stories about their beautiful 18 year love affair. It was the real deal.

My heart. It hurts for Jennie. Badly.

In the days after his death, Jennie posted a note on her site. She had had countless requests from the eager-to-help blogging community. She wrote:

“As I spend Friday reflecting on the love and life that was gone in an instant, I’d like to invite all of you to celebrate his life too. Mikey loved peanut butter cream pie……For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.”

So today, that’s exactly what I did. I made a pie. For Mikey and Jennie. And for their two beautiful little girls.

frozen cashew butter pie squares (dairy free, peanut free)

1 box Andean Dream Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 Tbs grapeseed oil
1 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, melted
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
2 cups raw cashews
3/4 cup water
2 Tbsp raw honey
1/2 cup (8Tbsp) coconut milk (full fat)

1.) Place the cookies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they become crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add in the oil and stir to mix completely. Spread the cookies out into an even layer in an 8×8 dish, using the back of a spoon to press the cookie crust firmly into place.  Put the dish in the freezer while you’re working on step #2.

2.) Place the chocolate and milk in a glass dish and microwave on low for about 1 minute. Give the  chocolate a few stirs (so all the chips have given way to smooth chocolate).  Remove the dish from the freezer and gently spread the chocolate in a even layer on top of the cookie crust. Use care not to press too hard – the cookie crust could crumble up into the chocolate layer. And we don’t want that :)  Place the dish back in the freezer while you’re working on Step #3

3.) In a good blender, puree the cashews, water, and honey. Once this is smooth (about 20 seconds or so) add in the coconut milk. It will have a slightly whipped appearance. Remove the dish from the freezer and smooth out the layer of the cashew/coconut mixture over top of the chocolate. Place back in the freezer for about an hour. Cut in to squares and serve.

Makes 20-24 squares.

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