Chinese Scallion Pancakes (Cōng Yóu Bǐng)

One of my favorite things to eat when I was living in China was Cōng Yóu Bǐng – Chinese Scallion Pancakes. I would wake up nice and early and head down to the campus dining hall to get these, and about 4 large glasses of freshly brewed soy milk. Nothing, and I mean nothing compares to freshly brewed soy milk. I would buy four, drink one, and put the other three in my fridge and enjoy them throughout the rest of the day. I had to get there early because the few days I didn’t, both the cōng yóu bǐng and the soy milk were long gone. On those days I opted for freshly made won ton soup (yes that was breakfast, and pretty different from what we get here in the US).

These pancakes, were beyond delicious and cut like pizza slices. I’ve been wanting to try to make them gluten-free for the past few years but never got around to trying it. Last weekend however, I was craving these like crazy. I’m not going to lie, they aren’t exactly like the ones in China – and I’m not sure if they will ever be but I’m okay with that. These are close and I enjoyed them quite a bit. Isn’t that what really matters? So below, is my take on one of my favorite dishes…

Chinese Scallion Pancakes – Cōng Yóu Bǐng

1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Silvana Nardone’s Blend, page 15 from her cookbook ‘Cooking with Isaiah’)

1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons sweet white rice flour

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (if your all purpose flour blend already has this, just omit)

3/4 cup warm water – added slowly

3 tablespoons oil (preferably peanut, but canola or other neutral flavor oil would work)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4  cup diced scallions, white and green parts

salt – to taste

In a medium bowl combine all-purpose flour, sweet white rice flour, xanthan gum (if needed), and a pinch of salt. Make a well in the middle of the flour and slowly add the warm water (you may not need all of the water).

Mix with a wooden spoon until a ball starts to form. Kneed in bowl for until dough is nice and soft. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl mix together peanut (or alternative oil) and sesame oil and set aside.

Lightly dust a working surface with all-purpose flour and cut ball of dough into four even wedges. Remove one wedge and cover the remaining three with damp towel. You can either leave the dough the size that it is or you can cut it into smaller portions. Either way, the remaining directions are exactly the same.

Lightly dust the top of the dough with some all-purpose flour and roll dough out into a 5-6 inch circle. Brush the surface with the oil mixture, sprinkle with salt and scallion slices. Roll circle up (or if you can’t without it ripping, just do the best you can, roll it back into a ball and then roll out again), twist, and pinch together. Roll out again into a 5-6 inch circle, brush again with oil mixture and place in a non stick skillet. If needed add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Cook about 3-4 minutes until you see light browning and bubbles forming. Brush the other side with oil mixture and flip over to repeat the cooking process.

Remove from pan and cut into two or four pieces, or leave whole and rip pieces off as you wish.

Repeat with remaining wedges of dough.

Best if eaten right away – but can be warmed up in an oven set to 300-350° for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with a Ginger Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/8 cup rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon or a pinch of red pepper flakes

1/8 cup sliced scallions

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

Mix all ingredients together – can be made several hours ahead of time.

My Gourmet Valentine

(To vote for my recipe, please click the image above, thank you!)

Bryan and I don’t really celebrate valentines day. Mainly because in my opinion it is a “hallmark” holiday and people feel pressured to buy cards, chocolate, and even more so flowers.  He can do that any other day of the year with no pressure and way less money. Instead we celebrate loving each other throughout the year instead of just one day. I love to surprise him with his favorite meals, have a nice dinner at home and occasionally make him something sweet. We don’t tend to eat a lot of sweets in our house so those treats are for really special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries.

We both love spicy foods and find ourselves frequently adding chili paste to many dishes, even eggs (okay, that is what I do, but still). His two favorite dishes are my version of P. F. Chang’s Sichuan Beef and my Sweet and Spicy Chicken. So when I received an e-mail from Velvet Aroma to participate in their “My Gourmet Valentine” event, I was lost on what to submit as my entry. As I said, we don’t eat many sweets and when I looked at all the other entries…they were all sweets.  So I’m going out on a limb here and submitting something different. Instead of sweet, we are going spicy, and instead of desert, we are going entrée.

I already gave Bryan his card, which I don’t normally get him but the deal was just too good to pass up…free card and free shipping. I saw this card and laughed out loud because I automatically knew what I was going to write on it. Three years ago, our first New Years Eve together, I apparently woke up around 5 am confessing my love of olives to him.  At first he thought I was telling him I loved him, but had me repeat it only to realize I said olives…his response? “ummm ya, me too” and back to bed I went. Needless to say this has been an ongoing joke with us ever sense. Here is a picture of the card I made him, and the inside says “hope you know how serious that makes me”

Last year we “celebrated” valentines day by going to a hockey game and enjoying a nice meal at Fire and Ice. This year though I think we will be staying in, enjoying a nice home cooked meal, and watching some nontraditional, non-romantic movie, like predator for example. The last few special occasion dinners were celebrated with the P.F. Chang’s Sichuan Beef, so for valentine’s day I’ll be making him my Sweet and Spicy Chicken.(Recipe below has several adaptions so please read the ‘fine print’)

Sweet and Spicy Chicken

1 – 2 chicken breast – boneless, skinless

1/4 cup corn starch*

2 tablespoon veggie oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper


1/2 cup honey (You can also use Agave instead of honey, or half and half)

3-4 Thai Chili peppers finely chopped (keep seeds in for even more heat…adjust the amount of peppers depending on your spice level) Dried or fresh chilis work well in this recipe

2 tablespoons spoons of water

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

  1. Mix honey, Thai chilis and water and set aside.  Right before adding to the pan heat in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and mix well. This helps it “loosen” up a bit and makes it easier to pour into the pan or wok
  2. Cut up chicken in bit size pieces.
  3. In a medium bowl add the corn starch*, garlic powder, salt, pepper  and chicken. Coat well and shake off any excess corn starch.
  4. In a large skillet or wok heat 1 tablespoons of oil, add half the chicken and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Place chicken on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with second half of chicken and additional tablespoon of oil.
  5. In the same skillet add the honey – chili mixture and bring to a boil for two-four minutes until the sauce reduces, thickens slightly and turns a nice caramel color. Add chicken back to the pan and coat well. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  6. Serve over quinoa, white or brown rice.

Its a bit sweet with a nice spicy finish.


If you can not have corn in your diet, both potato and tapioca starch work well

Both honey and agave or a mixture of the two work great. We have made this all three ways and have enjoyed them all.

Depending on how spicy you like your food, either remove the seeds for less heat or keep them in or add more chili peppers for more heat. We personally use about 5 chili peppers when we make it.

If using dried chili peppers, the best way to “chop” them is to take a small pair of kitchen shears and cut them in to small pieces.

I hope you all have a wonderful valentines day and enjoy this recipe.

To vote for this recipe please click on the “My Gourmet Valentine” image above!! Voting ends on 2/10/12 Thank you!

Below are the prizes up for grabs, and you as voters have a chance to win also – 2 dozen roses for Valentines Day!! Read the details:

Blogger submitting a recipe: The blogger with the winning recipe will receive, KitchenAid’s new product: a 2-speed Hand Blender (in red color), a box of Gourmet foods from LoveWithFood, and a $100 gift card of winners choice from Amazon, Sur La Table, William Sonoma or Crate & Barrel with a combined value of approximately $300.
Person Voting: The person chosen at random will receive a bouquet of 2 dozen red roses sent to any address in the continental US in time for Valentine’s Day.

~ Jenny

Chicken Lettuce Wraps {Crockpot Recipe}

As you have probably gathered from reading my blog, we love Asian food. We often say to each other that we could live on Asian, Mexican, and Italian food…but mostly Asian. Bryan said the other day, I could eat Chinese food for breakfast lunch and dinner…I have and it was awesome. I lived in China for a little while in 2003, while I was a Program Liaison between two colleges/universities – one located in Worcester, MA where I was employed and our partner Beijing Geely University located in the Changping District.

My time spent there was right in the middle of the SARS epidemic so traveling outside of Beijing was out of the question. I did however get to spend quite a bit of time doing the “tourist” thing by visiting places such as The Great Wall (twice) (Bādálǐng), The Forbidden City (Zǐjin chéng), Tiananmen Square (Tiān’ānmén), The Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán), Mausoleum of Mao Zedong (Máo Zhǔxí Jìniàntáng), Ming Dynasty Tombs (Míng shísān líng), Temple of Heaven (Tiāntán), Temple of Confucius, and many more.

While I didn’t get to travel much, I ate some of the most amazing food. Most of my meals in the beginning of my stay were supplied by the on campus dining rooms – all of which were really great. We (my Chinese colleagues and I) would venture out to local restaurants to try some more delicious and local dishes. My breakfast usually consisted of the following: fresh made wonton soup or red bean porridge , scallion pancake (cōng yóu bǐng) (I am working on a gluten-free recipe for these, stay tuned), fresh hot soy milk ( dòunǎi) which has a slightly sweet flavor to it. Lunch was a number of different options (sadly most of which I can’t remember their name): kung pao chicken (gōng bǎo jī dīng), egg flower soup (dàn huā tāng), the most delicious spicy cucumbers, steamed dumplings (xiǎo ​lóng ​bāo) – either veggie or meat filled, and for the occasional dessert some Mantou (mán ​tou) which is steamed bun that is served either steamed or deep-fried with condensed milk. For dinner my favorite dish was Peking Duck (Běi​jīng ​kǎo​yā), Hot Pot (shuàn ​guō ​zi) was another favorite of mine, although they tended to order mutton (yáng ​ròu) I opted for the chicken (jī​ ròu​) and Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans with some ground pork.

So I have lived solely on Chinese food and would do it again in a heart beat. Thankfully Bryan loves the same styles of food that I do. Many of our meals are Asian and Mexican inspired dishes. We venture out but always come back to our love of Asian food.

Below is a recipe that is inspired by the P.F. Chang’s Gluten Free Lettuce Wraps – it is not a copycat recipe like my Beef a la Sichuan is but just inspired by it. We were at P.F. Chang’s last night to celebrate Bryan’s birthday (a little early, but we wanted to go before school started up for the both of us again). Since I was making lettuce wraps tonight we opted for our other favorite appetizer, their Shanghai Cucumbers.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps {Crockpot Recipe}

3 large chicken breasts* – diced into small pieces

3 large celery stalks – diced into 1/4 inch cubes

8 oz baby bella mushrooms – diced into 1/4 inch cubes

1 8oz can water chestnuts – chopped (divided)

1 8oz can bamboo shoots – chopped

3 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1/2 inch piece ginger – peeled and grated (I use a microplane)

1 tbs brown sugar

1/2 tsp chili garlic paste

1 tbs sesame oil

1/2 cup gluten-free soy sauce (I use San-J low sodium if you have it)

2 tbs hoisin sauce (I use the Dynasty brand)

  1. Prepare all of the ingredients according to the above directions.
  2. In a crockpot (mine is 7qts…you can use a smaller size too) add the Hoisin Sauce, Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Brown Sugar, Garlic Paste, Ginger, Garlic, Bamboo Shoots, 1/2 of the Water Chestnuts, Celery, and Mushrooms.
  3. Mix together.
  4. Add the chopped chicken and mix until evenly coated.
  5. Cover the crockpot and turn it on low.
  6. Cook for 5 1/2 hours.
  7. Stir about half way through to incorporate everything and break up some of the larger pieces of chicken.
  8. Add the remaining water chestnuts, mix well, cover, and cook for an additional 1/2 hour.
  9. To serve: Peel the leaves off of a head of iceberg lettuce, butter/boston lettuce, or use romaine hearts. Scoop about 1/4 -1/2 cup into each leave, “roll up” and enjoy. You can top these with shredded carrots, bean sprouts, and chopped peanuts. We’ll be serving ours with a side of steamed edamame.

Notes: Many recipes out there call for ground chicken, which is completely acceptable, however I wanted a more hearty version so I choose to use chicken breasts and dice them instead.

You can also add all the water chestnuts at once, they will retain their crunch, but I wanted a bit more crunch so I added half of the can in the beginning and half towards the end.

Vegetarian version – instead of chicken increase the amount of mushrooms and celery, add zucchini, yellow summer squash, baby bok choy, etc.

Non-Onion Free version – replace the celery with 1/2 cup 1/4 inch diced white onion.

Hope you enjoy this crockpot dish – I dished out a little bit to take a photo and then I couldn’t put it back sooo I ate it…its delicious!

(The chopsticks in the photo were sent to me from a dear friend, Shiho whose family runs one of my favorite little sushi places, Ocean Sushi in Monterey and Pacific Grove, CA. If you are in the area stop on by – they have gluten-free soy sauce!! Thanks Shiho, these get quite a bit of use!)

Gluten-Free Mini Corn Dogs

Bryan loves corn dogs and for many years I would even take a bite of one of them.  It was a texture thing to me…I always thought that the corn bread batter would be soggy and mushy and I wanted nothing to do with them.  When Bryan came to visit me in California we picked up a box for him (they weren’t gluten-free), but when he left I still had half a box…they ended up in the trash. I told him at some point I will give them a try.

A few months ago I as fortunate enough to sample some of the Applegate Farms new corn dogs – they were delicious!! To my surprise the coating was crunch and not soggy at all. Ever since Bryan has been asking for me to make some…he would really love them to be full of gluten but he’s a good sport and eats what I make.  Maybe I’ll surprise him and make some regular ones for him anyway.

Yesterday I decided to make some mini corn dogs just to see how they would come out.  I found a recipe in a magazine that seemed pretty simple but it had NO corn in it at all.  How can you call it a corn dog with no corn?? To me it must have corn in it and Bryan loves them with a little bit of crunch to them so I came up with the following recipe.  Please note that this recipe will continue to be worked on…they came out pretty good (to my standards) but Bryan wants more corn flavor to them so I will be posting an updated recipe at some point. 

These would be great for: a quick snack for your kiddos, or an app during super bowl!

Mini Corn Dogs {Gluten-Free} (please see notes for how to make them with regular flour)

1 Package Mini Beef Franks (14oz)

3/4 Cup Pamela’s Pancake/Baking Mix Gluten Free (Or 3/4 cup regular AP flour)

1/2 Cup Gluten Free Corn Meal (Bob’s Red Mill)

1 Egg

1/2 Cup cold water

  1. In a medium bowl mix together Pamela’s Baking Mix (or your favorite Gluten Free AP flour, or regular flour), corn meal, egg, and water.
  2. Remove the franks from the package and pat dry with a paper towel (the batter will stick better when they are a bit dry).
  3. Take a toothpick and insert it into the frank about 1/2 – 3/4 of the way, set aside and continue with the remaining franks.
  4. In a medium sauce pan heat about 1 – 1/2 inches of oil to 350° (If you have a candy thermometer be sure to use it…that way your batter wont get too dark too fast, if not just test a few franks until the desired color is reached – golden brown).
  5. Dip franks in the batter – it is not a perfect dip, you may need to move the frank around a little bit to get it all covered.  You don’t want it to be too thick because you want it to cook on the inside as well as the outside.
  6. Add three-four franks to the pan, turn often to brown all sides evenly.  Cook each frank for 30-45 seconds (it’s really quick!)
  7. Remove corn dogs and place on a plate lined with paper towels.  Repeat this process until all the corn dogs have been cooked.
  8. Serve with your favorite dip – I love it with spicy mustard!

Again, this recipe will be a work in progress so check back for an update in the near future.

Blackened Shrimp Nachos

Last weekend my Aunts Sue and Patti invited us over for dinner and some delicious gluten-free, crust-free cheesecake for my birthday. While we were there hanging out in the kitchen chatting with my Aunt Bryan and I started flipping through the Kraft Foods magazine “Food&Family” and Bryan kept picking out recipes he wanted me to make.  We do this often.  I’ll get a new magazine or cookbook and I’ll flip through it then give it to him to pick out what he wants to try first. So in this one, he picked out a few but the one he wanted first (aka, the next day!!) was the Cheddar-Shrimp Nachos.

They looked delicious in the picture, but I changed a few things around (go figure) to make them suitable for the both of us to enjoy but also I wasn’t a fan of some of the ingredients and wanted more of the others so I just played around with it and came up with the following interpretation of the dish.

This recipe is very easy to make, especially if you buy either the shelled, and cleaned raw shrimp or even more simple when you buy the pre-cooked (also shelled and cleaned) shrimp.  I made sure to remove the tails also because I didn’t want to have to deal with while eating nachos.

I also made my own blackened seasoning to suit our allergies.  So this is both gluten-free and onion free. I know this isn’t a traditional blackened seasoning but it worked extremely well for this dish. The recipe below makes more than you will need but I’ll be using this on chicken and fish in the near future.

Blackened Seasoning

1 heaping teaspoon hungarian paprika

2 Teaspoons kosher salt

1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 heaping teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Blackened Shrimp Nachos

2 Tbsp. KRAFT Zesty Italian Dressing, divided
1/2 lb.  frozen cooked cleaned medium shrimp, thawed or pre-cooked shrimp (cleaned) with tails removed
1/2 red pepper, diced (1/4 inch)
1 Tbsp.  blackened seasoning (see recipe above)
1/2 – 1 cup  shredded cheddar cheese (we liked the “mexican” blend)
1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced (or you can substitute jarred jalapenos if you can’t find fresh ones)
2 Tbsp.  chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped mixed greens
Gluten-free Tortilla chips

HEAT large skillet on high heat until it is very hot and starts to smoke. Add 1 Tbsp. dressing, red peppers and seasoning; cook and stir 1 to 2 min. or until the pepper has a “roasted” look to it. Add the shrimp is heated through and evenly coated with dressing mixture. Stir in remaining dressing.

Heat oven to 375 degrees and arrange tortilla chips on a baking sheet. Layer the shrimp and pepper mixture and cheese.  Add a second layer of shrimp and add remaining shrimp and cheese.  Top with jalapenos.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.  Remove from oven and top with cilantro and chopped mixed greens.

Serve with fresh tomato salsa and a little bit of guacamole – enjoy!

I think I need to add a subscription to this magazine on my wish list.

Grilled Swordfish and Mango Salsa

Fish is one of my favorite things to eat, but sadly I don’t cook it enough.  We eat a lot of sushi in our house because Bryan isn’t a huge fan of fish when it is cooked, except for swordfish.  He’s eaten a few cooked fish dishes that I’ve made but like I said, I don’t cook it often enough.

A few months ago we went to a local restaurant because he was craving swordfish.  He had his grilled with a bruschetta topping to it while I had a delicious piece of mahi-mahi with a mango salsa on top. He was a bit jealous of my salsa and wasn’t such a fan of the bruschetta. I promised him the next time it is on sale we would pick up a piece and I would cook it however he wished.  He asked for it to be grilled with a mango salsa, similar to the one I had on my mahi-mahi.

Lucky for him, swordfish was on sale this week! So keeping true to my promise we went and picked up a good size piece (for the two of us to share) of swordfish, and the ingredients for a simple yet delicious onion-free mango salsa.  I just did a costing card for this meal and minus the steamed veggies on the side (we used green giant frozen steam ready veggies which were on sale for $1.00!) it totaled $8.27 per person!! If you were to add the veggies, it would be still only $8.77 per person.  You can’t go out anywhere to get a delicious and healthy meal for that price. Again, we bought the fish on sale so it helped with the price.  So if you do like I do and plan your weekly menu based on your local grocery adds or a local famers market prices you can find some great deals and make simple yet delicious and healthy meals for less.

This meal is beyond easy to make with only a few ingredients…five ingredients to be exact (salt, pepper and olive oil are “free” ingredients, meaning I have these on hand at all times and are basic ingredients for many recipes). I would suggest preparing the salsa at least an hour before and let it hang out in the fridge so all of the flavors are melded together nicely.  The fish takes between 8-10 minutes, so this is the perfect for a busy weeknight meal.

Grilled Swordfish

3/4 – 1 Pound of Swordfish Fillet – cut in half (enough for two people)

Juice of 1/2 Lime

Salt and Pepper – to taste

Olive Oil

Lightly brush the swordfish fillet with olive oil and squeeze the lime juice over it and season with salt and pepper – flip and repeat on the other side.

Pre-heat your grill to medium-high heat.  Add the swordfish and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side.

Onion-Free Mango Salsa

2 Large Ripe Mango – Diced(about 1 1/2 – 2 cups)

1 Medium Red Bell Pepper – Diced (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup)

Juice of 1/2 a Lime (about 1 tablespoon)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/8 cup Finely Chopped Cilantro (You can add more depending on your taste)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Add diced mango, red pepper, olive oil, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper – taste.  Add cilantro last and mix to combine well.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the rest of the week I have planned:

  • Sunday – Corned Beef Sandwiches (Reuben’s) and veggies
  • Monday – Roasted Pork Meatballs (from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen – pre-order it here) and a quick fried rice
  • Tuesday – Pasta
  • Wednesday – Chicken Stir-Fry with Broccoli, Carrots, Red Cabbage and Snap Peas
  • Thursday – Grilled Rib-Eye and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Friday – Chili

Hope you enjoy this meal!

Lobster and Risotto

We both love lobster but never really eat it because let’s be honest, it can be rather expensive.  We are two college students and just can’t afford that kind of stuff on a regular basis.  Since moving here almost a year ago now we’ve had lobster once and that is because my dad bought it for us when we went to visit him one weekend.  We always say “if it goes on sale for a good price we’ll pick one or two up”.  The only problem with that idea is we NEVER remember to actually do it.  So when I got this weeks grocery ad’s in the mail I noticed that Shaw’s had the chicken lobsters (up to 1.5 lbs) on sale for $5.99 a pound.  We decided to break down and get two of them.

Lobster is one of those food items that can be enjoyed in many different ways: steamed or boiled then served with butter, baked, grilled, mac-n-cheese, lobster ravioli’s etc.  I tend to be a purist when it comes to lobster – I like mine steamed and served with a little butter on the side (usually garlic butter).  I prefer the steaming method for two reasons, one it’s a little harder to over cook them that way and two because it leaves more of their natural ocean fresh taste. Today however, I broke from away from that purist side of me and steamed my lobsters then removed all the meat, cut it in to large chunks, sautéed quickly with olive oil, butter and a clove of minced fresh garlic then served it atop a nice plate of Parmesan Risotto=delicousness.

In my post “Light and Delicious” I posted a quick recipe costing breakdown at the end showing how inexpensive meals made at home can be.  The recipe was for Pesto Pasta with Zucchini and Shrimp – the recipe yield was for two portions.  The total recipe cost was $5.34 (yes including the shrimp and store-bought pesto!) which made each serving just $2.67.  A good number of my recipes on here are for two portions because, we are just two people.  However, if you look at my soup recipes that is for a larger quantity because we love soup leftovers. I also posted a survey yesterday asking my you, the lovely readers of my blog if this kind of information is useful to you because I received a few comments and e-mails asking for more of this.  With all the positive responses to the survey, the e-mails and comments I decided to keep doing this…so below the recipe you will see the recipe cost breakdown with a little explanation.

Please note that I am a HUGE sales/coupon person.  I really don’t like to pay full price for just about anything so I only buy certain items such as shrimp and lobster when there is a good sale going on.  If you’ve noticed this is the first lobster recipe I’ve posted on here.

Lobster and Risotto

2 Chicken Lobsters (about 1-1.5 pounds each)

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Garlic Clove – Minced

2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (I used Pacific Natural Food’s)

2 Tablespoons of Butter

3/4 Cup of Arborio Rice

1/4 Cup Dry White Wine (I used Gewurztraminer because it is what we had)

1/4 Cup of Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the Lobsters – start these first so they have time to cool down

In a large stock pot place either a steaming basket or upside down colendar at the bottom and fill with water until it just barely comes over the top of the basket or colendar.  Bring to a boil and add lobsters.  Make sure your pan has a very tight-fitting lid to keep the steam inside.  Lobsters that are about 1.5 pounds should be steamed between 7-8 minutes (do not over cook!).  You will know they are done when they turn a very vibrant red color.

Remove from the pan and cool by placing them under cold running water.  You just want to cool them enough to be able to get the meat out.  Remove meat, cut into chunks and set aside.

When the risotto is almost finished heat medium/large sautée pan over medium heat and add olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of butter and garlic.  Cook for 1 minute, add lobster and toss until lobster is coated and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until lobster is heated throughout, again be careful to over cook.

For the Risotto

In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.  Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.

In a large heavy saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Add the rice and stir to coat, add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add 1 ladle (or 1/2 cup) of the simmering broth and stir until completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking the rice, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time.  Stir constantly and allow each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next.  Continue this until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and mixture is creamy, about 10-15 minutes total.

Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

To plate the dish spoon half of the risotto on each plate, top with sautéed lobster, serve with a lemon slice/wedge and chives as a garnish. Enjoy with a glass of Gewurztraminer.

Below is the costing breakdown including all of the ingredients used (remember that the prices might be different depending on where you shop, your local specials etc.).  For each of us to have risotto and a chicken lobster for $10.87 I would say that isn’t too shabby of a price, especially since you would probably pay between $19.00-$24.00 and not have the same amount of lobster if you were to order this at a restaurant.  Cooking delicious (and gluten-free) meals at home isn’t just a way to control what you are eating but choosing the ingredients yourself it is also a great way to save money.  Many of the ingredients of these recipes you already have in your pantry so it is just buying a few of the key ingredients.  For example, the only ingredient we had to buy today was the lobsters themselves.

Light and Delicious

Last month I planted out little container garden (thankfully we choose a place with a deck!).  With all the heavy rains we’ve been having around here I wasn’t sure if some of the seeds would ever produce anything.  Thankfully everything is on its way to becoming some delicious goodies.  We planted Thai chili peppers, habaneros, pepperoncini, carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, super sweet tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, radish, zucchini, basil and lettuce.  I took this picture this morning:

My last few recipe posts have been pretty “heavy” foods, so today while I was making dinner I thought I should probably post this one.  It is quick, easy, light and delicious and believe it or not budget friendly (see below the recipe for more information).  A perfect meal for this kind of weather.  I love when spring and summer comes around because this means more fresh ingredients available and I don’t know if it is just me but I don’t crave those heavy meals much.  I love salads and more veggie based meals during this time of year and I plan to be posting more recipes like this soon. To kick off my lighter recipes (this may not be a daily thing but I will get better about posting more recipes like this), I decided to make some gluten-free pasta (We mostly eat Sam Mill’s or Goldbaum’s gluten-free pastas, we find that to use these are the two that have a very similar taste and texture to “regular” pasta) with pesto, diced zucchini and for a little treat some sautéed shrimp. My basil hasn’t grown enough for me to make homemade pesto so for now we have been using the Classico Pesto – which is gluten-free! and delicious.  While at the grocery store today I found some pretty decent sized zucchini and summer squash and thankfully shrimp was on sale so we picked up a few to toss in and add a bit of protein to our meal.  Of course Bryan made us a salad with mixed greens and cucumbers with some homemade balsamic dressing.

This meal is delicious with our with out the shrimp, however we never splurge on shrimp but we are pretty sick of chicken and red meat right now and wanted to mix it up a little bit.  You could always add some grilled chicken on top also or if you wish to add more veggies mix in some halved grape tomatoes, diced summer squash or blanched/grilled asparagus.

Pesto Pasta with Shrimp and Zucchini (serves 2)

1/2 Pound gluten-free pasta of your choice, I prefer penne,  fusillior gemelli because I think it holds the pesto better)

1 Large zucchini diced into 1/2 – 1 inch pieces

1/4 Pound of Shrimp (cleaned, deveined and tails still on)

1/4 Cup pesto – more if you prefer

2 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided

Sea Salt and Pepper

In a medium saucepan bring water with salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to boil for pasta and cook according to the package instructions.

Season the shrimp on both sides with sea salt and pepper.

Heat one tablespoon in a non-stick sautée pan over medium heat. When there is about 5 minutes left on the pasta add the shrimp to the sautée pan. Cook for about two minutes on each side (until shrimp is opaque in the center)

When there are four minutes left on the pasta cooking time add the diced zucchini.

Strain the pasta and zucchini but do not rinse the pasta in cold water.  Return the pasta to the pan, add the prepared pesto and shrimp.  Toss until well mixed (if you are adding in the halved tomatoes add them in now and toss again).  Add more pesto if you wish, serve with a side salad.

This meal is very versatile – add shrimp, chicken, veggies – whatever your heart desires.

Recipe cost break down:

Seeing as I just finished up my Menu Planning and Cost Control course I thought I would break down how inexpensive this meal was to make: the total recipe cost was $5.34 which means only $2.67 per portion!! Now can you imagine if you were to order this while eating out you would be paying around $12 – $14 for this dish that really only costs $2.67 per portion including shrimp.

Sriracha Burgers and Cheese Fries

If you are on a diet this recipe probably isn’t for you :)  We try to eat pretty healthy in our house by eating lots of veggies and fresh products.  We usually have a salad with every dinner but every once in a while we crave those fast food type meals – those that I usually can’t eat because of cross contamination issues.  To fulfill those cravings I try to recreate the items that we used to like to eat out and make them at home.  I’ve made a version of Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, P.F. Chang’s Beef a La Sichuan, P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef, and P.F. Chang’s Shanghai Cucumbers (we really like P.F. Chang’s and I am slightly obsessed with Chinese food in general).

Today Bryan had a craving for cheese fries – and I have to admit I’ve never really had cheese fries.  I do however love french fries so I told him we could have those and burgers on the grill tonight seeing as I have a package of the Udi’s new gluten-free hamburger buns in the freezer. If you haven’t tried these yet, you really should they are simply awesome.  If you local store doesn’t carry them you can request that they do.  I also have a package of their hot dog buns that I still need to try.  I didn’t want to buy any pre-made cheese sauce because let’s be honest they aren’t very good.  I wanted something with simple ingredients that I knew what they were so I found a few recipes online and the one from Serious Eats is the one I decided to go with.  I did make a slight moderation that you will see below, but we were very happy with the results.  It was four ingredients and didn’t turn out oily, clumpy or grainy! While on their site I also noticed a recipe for Ultimate Siraracha Burgers and almost started to drool.  We love spicy things and even more we love Sriracha.  (Have you visited Serious Eats yet?  If not please be sure to do so…it is an awesome site with plenty of delicious recipes and gluten-free ones too) I did change this up a bit too with not only the measurements (we are only two people so no need to make eight patties) and omitted some of the ingredients, and changed the sauce- but please check out the original recipe and try that one also.  Below is my version of Serious Eat’s Cheese Sauce and Sriracha Burgers, I hope you enjoy them as much as we did – which we LOVED these by the way.  When you first take a bite it takes a second for the flavor to hit you but if you love Sriracha Sauce you won’t be disappointed in these. 

Cheese Sauce (naturally gluten-free!)

  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese grated on large holes of a box grater
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce
Add cheese and cornstarch to large bowl. Toss to combine. Transfer to medium saucepan. Add can of  evaporated milk and hot sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with whisk until melted, bubbly, and thickened (about 5 minutes). Mixture will look thin and grainy at first but will thicken and come together after heating. Thin to desired consistency with additional evaporated milk. Serve immediately with fries (tortilla chips, burgers, or hot dogs).
We served some store-bought gluten-free french fries with dinner tonight.
Sriracha Burgers
  • 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons gluten-free soy sauce (I use San-J)
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Gluten-free buns such as Udi’s (or Canyon Bakehouse or Katz)
  • 2 thick slices Swiss cheese
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Dynamite Sauce (recipe below)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, soy sauce,  Sriracha, and the pepper. Do not overmix. Form the mixture into 2 patties, and set aside.

  2. Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high heat. 

  3. Grill the burgers, turning once, 4 to 41/2 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer registers 130° to 135°F for medium-rare. Place a piece of cheese of cheese on each burger and cook until melted.

  4. To assemble, spread the Dynamite Sauce on both halves of each hamburger bun. Stack a burger patty,  and a few pieces of  romaine between each hamburger bun.

Dynamite Sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons Mayo
  • 1 Tablespoons Sriracha (I like mine spicy so adjust according to your spice level)
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until well combined – taste for spice level and adjust accordingly. Spread on burger buns.

And for a little fun…if you love Sriracha Sauce as much as we do, you have to check out The Oatmeal‘s post called “Dear Sriracha, a.k.a Rooser Sauce”
Hope you enjoy – if you get around to trying these please let me know what you think

Chicken Cordon Bleu

First before I get started on the recipe portion of this post, I want to say sorry for not being very active lately.  School started on March 8th and I’ve been consumed by it.  This is my first trimester and I am taking all academic courses (no actually culinary courses until the Fall).  What some might thing isn’t a big deal, taking Biology, Public Speaking, Leadership and Menu Planning and Cost Control really is to me.  For starters, I haven’t taken Biology in at least 14 years, I’ve never taken any of the other courses and I truly hate public speaking.  I’ve been out of college for about six years now so jumping back into this with both feet has been at times a little overwhelming for me.  It’s also been a little challenging for Bryan and I…we’ve kind of grown used to me being home all day, taking care of the house, making at least two meals a day etc. Now I am up at 4:00 am, getting the bus at 4:50 to Providence, walk three blocks to the Downcity Campus, wait about 30 minutes to get the shuttle to the Harborside Campus (where the culinary arts program is) and then starting class at 7:00.  Thankfully though I am done with classes by 11:15 M-Th and have Fridays off.  Now you are probably wondering why I get up at 4 and take the bus to school.  Several reasons.  One I don’t drive, two if I did we only have one car and with gas prices being as they are…it is more economical for Bryan to be taking the car to class than me driving to and from Providence each day.  Plus with my student ID, the bus is free anywhere in the lovely state of Rhode Island.  Honestly, I don’t mind the early mornings at all.  I thought I would but being done at 11:15, coming home, studying/doing homework making dinner and actually having time to relaxing with Bryan for a bit before I crash around 9:30-10:00 is worth it.  If my classes were in the afternoons I wouldn’t be home until about 8 or 9 at night.  Plus this is my dream and I would do just about anything to make it happen.  So you can think I’m crazy, that is just fine but I choose not to focus on the “oh my goodness you get up at 4 am, that is just crazy” comments, and push on towards my goal.

Speaking of my goal – after planning out my next few trimesters, which will mostly be culinary labs (yay!) and two more academic courses I will have my Associates Degree next summer!!  Next winter I need to apply for the BA in Culinary Nutrition, which I have been told is really hard to get into, so I am doing my best, studying hard and trying to get all A’s. I put a lot of pressure on myself for several reasons, I want this so badly.  As I said above, I’ve been out of school for a while now so none of this is fresh in my mind, and also I am at least 11 years older than the majority of these students.  Seriously I feel old, have little to nothing in common with them, but I’m doing my best.  Thankfully though most of them think I’m about 17 years old and when they hear me say 29 they laugh and don’t believe me…well its true I am, just don’t look at all the gray hairs coming in (and yes they are there, I promise you, lots of them!)

So again, I am sorry for my absence but please be patient as I get used to this new schedule and figure out a balance of home life, school/work and my blog.  I have a lot of respect for those other bloggers who blog everyday, some times several times a day and have jobs and families – you are all rock stars!

Now on to the recipe!

We saw some commercial the other day, I think it may have been for subway- anyway they were advertising a chicken cordon bleu sandwich and Bryan made one of those “mmmmmmm” sounds.  To me having a sandwich like that from subway just sounded nasty.  The “mmmmmmmm” sound wasn’t really for the sandwich its self but the idea of chicken cordon bleu.  I tend to associate those with weddings or banquets of some sort so I never really thought of trying out a gluten-free version of one.  Apparently Bryan really likes them so I said we could either buy you some frozen ones or I can attempt to make some – he obviously chose me making one instead.  I did a bit of researching online to see what was actually in the breading of it, I knew that it was chicken, Swiss cheese, ham and breading but wanted to get the flavoring right.  Honestly this is a really simple meal to make, I based mine off of a Tyler Florence recipe found on Food Network and we really enjoyed it…well mostly, Bryan isn’t so much a fan of the Thyme so I think next time I might leave it out completely or add a different kind of seasoning.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

  • 4 double chicken breasts (about 7-ounces each), skinless and boneless
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices deli ham
  • 16 thin slices  Swiss cheese
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (I used Jeanne’s of Art of Gluten Free Baking mix-see below for recipe)
  • 1 cup gluten-free bread crumbs or gluten-free rice crumbs (I used Orgran’s Rice Crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lay the chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness (FYI a small fry pan or empty wine bottle work just fine, if you are like me and don’t own a meat mallet). Take care not to pound too hard because the meat may tear or create holes. Lay 2 slices of cheese on each breast, followed by 2 slices of ham, and 2 more of cheese; leaving a 1/2-inch margin on all sides to help seal the roll. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a jellyroll. Squeeze the log gently to seal.

Season the gluten-free all purpose flour with salt and pepper; spread out on waxed paper or in a flat dish. Mix the Gluten-free breadcrumbs or rice crumbs with thyme, kosher salt, pepper, and oil. The oil will help the crust brown. Beat together the eggs and water, the mixture should be fluid. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, then dip in the egg mixture. Gently coat in the crumb mixture.  Carefully transfer the roulades to a shallow baking dish (I used my Le Creuset because, I love them and they are the easiest baking dishes to clean up!) and bake for 20 minutes until browned and cooked through. Cut into pinwheels before serving.

Here is Jeanne’s All Purpose Flour Recipe:

Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C (170 g) brown rice flour
1 1/4 C (205 g) white rice flour
1 C (120 g) tapioca flour
1 C (165 g) sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum
(you can also use the gluten-free flour mixture (not baking mix) of your choice–just be sure it contains xanthan gum. Or, you can add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour. If you use bean flour, it will add a bean taste to the cookies)

Hope you enjoy this recipe, its simple, flavorful and most ingredients you probably already have at home.  We served ours with some garlic broccoli and a side salad.

I have more catching up to do – product reviews and a giveaway I promise it will happen soon!  Please stay tuned.

Spinach-Stuffed Flank Steak

Martha Stewart’s Spinach Stuffed Flank Steak

My Spinach-Stuffed Flank Steak (minus the red pepper sauce)

I have been wanting to make this recipe for a while, but wasn’t sure how Bryan would feel about it because it has a cheese that he isn’t very familiar with and it also has capers.  I offered to leave out the capers but he said he would try them.  I should have  listened to my instincts and left them out.  He tried one but he just wasn’t a fan, they were too salty for him.  I’m not one for very salty foods but I love these green little gems, probably because I love chicken piccata so much. As it turns out, Bryan really liked this recipe and said this is one we should make again.

The recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food Magazine and it is also in her Everyday Food Cookbook “Fresh Flavor Fast” Another great recipe from here that is also naturally gluten-free!  You would be amazed how many of these recipes are naturally gluten-free or can very easily be adapted to gluten-free.

Seeing as this is a stuffed steak, it needed to be butterflied first, then stuffed with the spinach mixture and rolled up.  I always hear about people going to the grocery store and having the butcher cut their meat a certain way such as butterflied so I thought, why not give it a shot and have them do it.  I was so wrong, no pun intended here but he butchered my flank steak.  I was so upset when I got home and opened it up.  I should have taken a picture to show you all how bad it was.  It was completely uneven with some pieces being extremely thing and others looking like they hadn’t been cut.  I made the best of it for this because I didn’t want to waste the meat but not to self, next time do it myself!  However if you have a good butcher I’m sure he would do fine but this guy was complaining the whole time he was cutting this piece.  I am very much looking forward to my meat cutting class at school!

Here is how to butterfly the flank steak according to the recipe:

Butterflying the Steak: Lay the meat on a cutting board, with the grain of the steak running horizontally. Using a long sharp knife, cut the meat almost in half horizontally, opening it like a book but stopping before going all the way through.

With the steak being cut so uneven I had to adjust the cooking time a bit and despite having to put it in a few times because the middle just wasn’t cooked to our liking (it was pretty much raw – but again I blame that on the butcher and not the actual recipe its self.) it was a very tasty, easy and fairly quick dinner.  We served ours with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Too add a little something extra to it I made a Red Pepper Sauce to go on the side to either drizzle on top of the steak or just to dip it in.   I used a container of Wild Veggie Red Pepper Soup as the base, added a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon fine ground pepper.  To thicken it up just a bit I added a small amount of cornstarch/water mixture.

Have you heard about Wild Veggie yet?  If not you should check out their website and products.  Here is a little blurb about them from their website:

What is Wild Veggie? Is it a soup? Is it a drink? Is it an ingredient? If you think it’s all of the above, then you’re right! Wild Veggie is good in everything… and is good for everybody. Compared to similar products on the market, Wild Veggie is low in sodium and calories, and typically has more vitamins and nutrients, not only meeting but exceeding daily recommendations in many cases.

We start with the absolute freshest vegetables we can find, always picked at their peak of ripeness and flavor. We then wash, micro-cut, and fast cook at a low temperature, and then quickly freeze to preserve as much of the natural vegetable flavor as possible. There are no preservatives. No fake chemicals. Just the wonderful taste of pure, fresh vegetables.

Our unique process preserves the natural integrity, flavor or nutrients of the vegetables — we do not compromise on flavor or freshness, meaning that Wild Veggie is good for every body.

Spinach Stuffed Flank Steak (Martha Stewart – Everyday Food Magazine)

  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen leaf spinach, thawed

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

  • 1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese

  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

  • coarse salt and ground pepper

  • 1 small flank steak (1 pound)

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

    1. Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside. Place spinach in a clean kitchen towel, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine spinach, parsley, cheese, capers, vinegar, garlic, and red-pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Cut and open steak.
    3. Cut several 12-inch pieces of kitchen twine; space evenly underneath steak. Spread spinach mixture down center of meat (see opposite). Roll steak over mixture, pressing firmly to compact the filling as much as possible; tie twine to secure roll. Cut roll in half crosswise. Place halves, seam side down, on prepared baking sheet; rub with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Broil until browned, 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare; let rest, loosely covered with foil, 10 minutes. Remove string, and slice steak into 1/2-inch rounds.


    Chicken Parmesan

    One of my favorite dishes when I was younger was Chicken Parmesan. I love the crunch chicken but yet still tender and juicy inside with some bubbly mozzarella cheese on the top.  It is a very simple dish, however I never make it.  I don’t know if it was because I feared how it would actually come out with using gluten-free flour instead.  It has just been one of those dishes that kind of made me nervous to “re-create”. While flipping through my favorite cooking magazine (Everyday Food by Martha Stewart) I saw a recipe for chicken parm and asked Bryan if he likes it.  When he said yes I figure, why not give it a shot and see how it comes out.

    I opened up my flour cabinet (yes I have a small pantry with all of my gluten-free flours stored in my favorite containers by Snapware) and looked around to see what I had left (I’m running extremely low or I’m completely out of the majority of my flours) and saw that I had some Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour, Gluten Free Bisquick and also some Orgran Rice Crumbs.  I decided to use a mixture of the Bisquick and Rice Crumbs and see how that would turn out, and if we didn’t like it I would try another combination the next time around.  We both really liked it – which I was surprised because I kind of just threw this recipe together quickly one night. The recipe is very simple and quick, you can feel free to change the measurements of the seasoning and cheese to your taste level.

    Chicken Parmesan

    1/4 Cup Gluten Free Bisquick (You could also sub in your favorite GF All Purpose Flour mix)

    1/8 Cup Rice Crumbs (You could also sub in GF Bread Crumbs)

    1/8 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

    1/4 Teaspoon Salt

    1/4 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning

    2 Medium Chicken Breasts – pounded to 1/4 inch thickness

    1 Egg – beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water

    Cooked Gluten Free Pasta – We use Sam Mill’s GF Corn Penne Pasta (It is our favorite GF pasta that we’ve tried)

    1/2-1 Cup Pasta Sauce (You can make your own or used a jarred sauce)

    1/3 Cup of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese


    In a shallow baking dish beat one egg with 1 tablespoon of water, set aside.

    In a second shallow baking dish mix the Bisquick, Rice Crumbs, Cheese, Salt and Italian Seasoning – mix well, set aside.

    Between two pieces of plasticwrap or parchment paper pound the chicken until it is about 1/4 inch thick (for even and quick cooking).

    Dredge each piece of chicken in the Bisquick/Rice Crumb mixture, shake off any excess and then in the egg mixture.  Again shake off any excess and then dredge it back in the Bisquick/Rice Crumb mixture.  Set aside.

    In a medium skillet add one tablespoon of oil and heat over medium heat.  Once oil is hot enough (I always test by running cold water over my hand and then flicking a little in the pan, if it sizzles then I know my meat will sizzle – this is by no means scientific but it works well for me).  Add the two pieces of chicken breast.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly golden brown and juices run clear.

    If you do not have pans that can go into the oven, place the pieces of chicken either on a baking sheet or baking dish for this next step.

    Turn your oven to broil and top each piece of chicken with half of the mozzarella cheese.  Place the chicken under the broiler just until the cheese starts to bubble and turn lightly golden brown.

    Serve atop your favorite gluten-free pasta and top with your favorite sauce.

    Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich-Gluten Free

    (sorry the pic isn’t so great, I rushed because I really want to try this, its been over 2 years since I had one)

    We don’t eat fast food much.  If we do, we either go to Subway so Bryan can get a sandwich and I get a salad or we go to Wendy’s because they fry their french fries in a separate fryer and I can get a bun-less cheeseburger and Bryan can get his favorite spicy chicken sandwich.  That sandwich used to be my favorite also before I found I had Celiac Disease.  Every time he gets one I ask “can I just smell it” – you laugh but I seriously do this quite often with some of his “regular” food.

    Lately I’ve been on a kick of making things at home instead of going out and buying them.  For example in my last post I shared recipes from homemade beef jerky and granola bars.  I can’t go out and get a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich but I sure as heck can make it at home.  Making things at home also lets you control the ingredients you use.  Not saying that this sandwich is super healthy by any means, don’t get me wrong.  I mentioned to Bryan the other day that I could try to recreate that sandwich for him, but would have to do it gluten-free so I can enjoy it too…he said sure.  So I looked online for some ideas of what is actually in the sandwich and then went to work on creating a recipe for it.  I have to say it came out pretty darn awesome!  We both really liked it.  I served mine between two pieces of romaine lettuce and Bryan had his on a “regular” bun.  The spicy flavor in mine was much more pronounced without having all that bread in the way.

    Gluten-Free Spicy Chicken Sandwich (Wendy’s)

    1/4 Cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

    1/2 Cup Water

    1/2 Cup Gluten-Free Bisquick

    1 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt

    2 Teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

    1/8 Teaspoon Fine Ground Pepper

    1/4 Teaspoon Paprika

    1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

    2 Chicken Breasts – pounded until about 3/8 inch thick

    4 Pieces of Romain Lettuce

    1/4 Teaspoon Mayonnaise (optional)

    2 Tomato Slices (optional)

    Mix together the Gluten-Free Bisquick, Salt, Cayenne Pepper, Pepper, Paprika and Garlic Powder in a large bowl.

    In a separate bowl mix together Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and water.

    In a large high-sided sauté pan heat 1/2 cup – 1 cup of canola oil (should come up about 1/2 inch the side of the pan depending on the size of your pan) on medium heat.  You could also use a deep fryer but I didn’t want to deal with all of that.

    Take one chicken breast at a time and dredge it in the GF Bisquick mixture, then coat it in the hot sauce/water mixture and then again in the Bisquick mixture.

    Cook chicken for about 4-5 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and no longer pink in the center (I cut mine just to make sure).

    Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.  Serve on lettuce or a bun and top with mayonnaise (optional), tomato (optional) and an additional piece of lettuce.  Enjoy!!

    The Bisquick worked perfect for this recipe.  It was nice and crunchy and the chicken was juicy, and just the right amount of spice.  Oh how I have missed this sandwich, but now I can make it at home!



    Making Snacks At Home

    Before we go grocery shopping I start by getting out that weeks ads to see what is on sale, and then try to plan meals around that.  I also look at the coupons we have, new ones that have come in and also search online for them (at first Bryan made fun of me and my coupon clipping but once he saw how much I save each time he’s pretty thankful) I then make a list of all the items we need and next to it I write what the sale is and at which store, I also write if we have a coupon for it.  For the most part we try out best to stick to the list as best we can, but every now and then we find a thing or two that we really want and that is usually a snack or two.  Well actually it is mostly Bryan that finds these things because for me it is a bit harder to find gluten-free snacks.

    He will usually grab some cinnamon buns, beef jerky or corn muffins, all of which I love but sadly can’t find gluten-free options in the stores so I decided that I could learn to make a few snack items at home.  I’ve made cinnamon buns and corn muffins/bread before and they came out great.  I hadn’t attempted to make beef jerky or granola bars and those are two things I have been wanting to attempt for a while, so I finally did.

    Making snacks at home is easy, a great way to control what you and your family are consuming but also it is a great way to save money!

    Beef Jerky

    Bryan and I both love beef jerky and we usually buy him a bag of it but its gone in one sitting!  Before moving back east I bought a great cookbook “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It And Other Cooking Projects” by Karen Solomon.  Including in the cookbook are recipes to make your own bacon, cheese, marshmallows, limoncello and so much more.  The recipe calls for very lean top sirloin or flank steak, I choose the flank steak because at BJ’s you can get two pounds for the same price, if not less than one pound of flank steak at our local grocery store!

    I used the recipe listed in the cookbook just as a guideline and made it gluten-free and adjusted the ingredients to our spice level.  My recipe is below – I checked their website and they don’t have the beef jerky recipe listed so I can’t link to it, however you should really buy this book, you will love it!

    Gluten Free Beef Jerky

    2 pounds lean flank steak (remove every bit of fat from the meat!  this is very important-if you leave the fat on it will like go rancid!)

    1 tablespoon kosher salt

    2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce

    4 teaspoons dark brown sugar

    4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

    3 teaspoons red pepper flakes (you can adjust this to your taste level, we really like heat)

    Advanced Prep: Freeze steak for 30 minutes – this will help with the slicing. Line two sheet pans with foil and oil (canola or gluten-free cooking spray) two racks.  Place one rack in each of the pans, set aside. Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees – if your oven doesn’t go that low, set it to the lowest temp that it will and leave the oven door cracked open an inch or two, or use a wooden spoon to keep it ajar.

    Remove steak from freezer, and make sure that all the fat has been removed (see note above).  Thinly slice steak 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick pieces.

    In a large bowl mix together salt, gluten-free soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Add meat and let marinade in the refrigerator for two hours (or over night).

    Lay the meat on the racks in a single layer, but don’t let them touch or over lap.

    Dry the meat in an oven for 5-7 hours.  Check for doneness for the first time around 5 hours.  The jerky shouldn’t be brittle but should be able to be torn into strings and not look raw in the inside.

    Allow jerky to cool completely and enjoy!

    Store in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for up to six weeks.

    Granola Bars

    I love granola bars, but since going gluten-free I haven’t had one, and I’ve really missed them.  They are the perfect take along snack.  I’ll be making more of these when it comes time for school.  They are super easy to make and you can add in pretty much anything you like.  I think next time I might add in some peanut butter chips.

    Gluten-Free/Allergy Free Granola Bars

    The recipe listed below is from Martha Stewart’s website.  I did a few little tweaks to the recipe and they are noted in red below.

    Makes about 16 bars

    • Nonstick cooking spray
    • 1 3/4 cups gluten-free quick-cooking oatmeal (I used 3 cups of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oats)
    • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free crisp-rice cereal (I didn’t have any so I omitted them)
    • 1/2 cup mini gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1/3 cup lightly packed light-brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/3 cup honey


    1. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray; line baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Set aside.
    2. Place oatmeal and rice cereal in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set aside.
    3. In a medium saucepan, mix together brown sugar, oil, and honey. Place over medium-high heat; bring to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add to oatmeal mixture; stir until oatmeal mixture is fully coated and well combined.
    4. Evenly pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with chocolate chips. When mixture is cool enough to touch, press down into pan. Let cool to room temperature. Cut into 16 (1-by-4-inch) bars. Granola bars can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, and frozen up to six months.
    From The Martha Stewart Show, April 2010

    *I would recommend following the directions – I got distracted when making these and ended up adding some of the chocolate chips in with the oats and when I poured the liquid over it they all melted so it became chocolate granola bars. Woops – I mean they still came out pretty good.  I would also suggest that if you have the gluten-free crisp rice cereal, use it.  Also Martha’s photo is WAY better than mine!

    Hope you enjoy these two homemade snacks!

    Butternut Squash Soup & Croutons

    I have been wanting to make some butternut squash soup for a while now, but sadly I don’t own a food processor, blender or immersion blender so I put it off. I started thinking about the soup again this past week and was determined to make it, so I thought if I cooked the squash enough I could just mash it, but then it wouldn’t have that smooth creamy texture so I finally went next door and asked my neighbor if she had a blender or food processor I could borrow.  Of course she had one, and why had I not thought of asking her sooner?  Who knows, I’m a bit slow lately.  Being sick for a month has really thrown me for a loop.  I am finally feeling better and getting back into cooking more.  Poor Bryan has been dealing with my half-ass attempts of meals lately, which consisted of mostly “mushy” foods because I couldn’t chew anything.  Even though this soup could be considered another “mushy” meal I refuse to look at it that way because I have been craving it for so long.  To add a little bit of texture to the soup I topped it with some crispy bacon pieces and homemade gluten-free croutons (see recipe below).

    Like always, I did some searching online for butternut squash soup recipes just to see what others put in theirs.  I found that many of the recipes were similar to the one that I had floating around in my head so I figured I would just wing it and see how it tasted (maybe not always the best idea). Bryan hasn’t really eaten butternut squash much and has never had butternut squash soup, so to make it more appealing to him I wanted to add a bit of spice to it.  The first time I ever had this soup was in China of all places.  It was amazing.   If you don’t like that much spice you can always start by cutting those ingredients in half at first, taste it and then add accordingly.

    Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

    2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)

    4 celery stalks – diced

    3 garlic cloves, chopped

    2 medium-large butternut squash (about 3 – 3.5 pounds) – See prep options below

    1 large sweet potato (or two small/medium) Peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

    3 cups of chicken broth (gluten-free low sodium/organic)

    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    1/8 teaspoon allspice

    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

    salt and pepper to taste

    1/4-1/2 cup half and half

    There are two ways that you can prepare the squash:

    1- Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and place flesh side down on a foil lined baking sheet (oiled/sprayed well).  In a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 40-50 minutes.  Once roasted and cooled slightly scoop out flesh and add to soup

    2- Peel the squash, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and then chop into one inch cubes.  Cook squash in the soup with out roasting.

    The first one is probably a bit easier because the skin of the squash is very touch and can be a pain to peel.  I have a really good peeler so I didn’t have any problems with it.  So it is completely up to you on which method you prefer to use, and you will get great results either way.  The recipe below is for option number two, however if you choose to roast your squash then scoop it out add it after you sauté the celery, garlic add the broth.  You can then go right into pureeing the soup.


    Peel and cut your squash and sweet potato and set aside.  Over medium heat in a large sauce pan (or stock pot) add olive oil and celery, cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes.  Next, add squash, sweet potato, half of the spices and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil for 20 minutes.  Lower heat to simmer.

    In small batches ladle the soup into a blender (or food processor) and puree until smooth and there are no chunks.  Add the pureed soup back into the pan and repeat until all the soup has been pureed and it is smooth.  Add remaining spices and half and half.  Do Not bring back to a boil, just simmer on low for 15-20 minutes.  Serve warm with your choice of toppings (bacon, croutons, sour cream, spiced pumpkin seeds etc.)

    We served ours with crumbled maple bacon bits and some gluten-free multigrain croutons. Croutons are so simple to make, I dont’ know why people buy them. You can make them how ever you wish, plain, garlic, seasoned etc. You should really try to experiment with them at some point.  Great in both soups and salads or to just munch on.

    Gluten-Free Croutons

    6 pieces of gluten-free bread (I used Rudi’s Multi Grain Bread)

    1 clove of garlic minced

    3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil

    1 tablespoon melted butter


    Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. In a bowl combine garlic, oil, butter and salt – set aside.  Cut bread into small chunks and place them on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the oil, butter and garlic mixture over the bread chunks.  Toss the bread to make sure it is evenly coated.  Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes, turning once.  Croutons should be a light/medium golden brown.

    You can all any seasoning you wish to your croutons and increase the measurements according to the amount of bread you are using.  Other seasoning options include: dried basil, dried oregano, celery seed, pepper, parsley, grated parmesan cheese or whatever you wish.

    These can be stored in an air tight container for up to four weeks or frozen for up to six months.

    Help Rudi’s “Spread The Bread” “For every dollar coupon downloaded, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery will give a dollar to The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) to help in their efforts to better educate physicians in the diagnosis of celiac disease. There are an estimated 3 million people in the United States suffering from celiac disease, yet only 160,000 are diagnosed.” Get your coupon HERE!