Saturday, December 8, 2012

Merry Mac & Cheese

Who says that the gluten-intolerant can't enjoy one of America's favorite comfort foods during the holidays - Macaroni and Cheese?!

I think I may make the best homemade Mac and Cheese on the planet - and it's gluten-free. For the holidays, add some Christmas color by folding in or laying the noodles and cheese sauce with a your favorite red. white and green veggies, lightly sauteed. I call this version Merry Mac and Cheese. This dish is a great way to get your kids to eat more veggies!

This recipes does have some dairy, as I won't give up real cheddar cheese (soy cheeses are no substitute in this case). So, for those that are also lactose-intolerant, who don't want to give up their mac and cheese, consider taking the enzyme supplement lactase. I find that soy cheese is tasteless and doesn't melt the same as regular cheese, but give it a try, if real cheese is absolutely not an option for you. Let me know how it turns out.

Ingredients (I like to double this recipe. If you do, remember not to double the salt):

1/2 pound medium or sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed
4 tablespoons Butter (or butter substitute)
4 tablespoons all-purpose, gluten-free Flour*
1 teaspoon Vegetable Bouillon
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Dash of Nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
1-1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I love using Herbamare; watch out for MSG in seasoned salts)
2 cups Milk Substitute (I use Rice Milk or Coconut Milk - original (neutral flavor))
1 8-ounce package of Quinoa Elbow Macaroni (I find that rice noodles tend to get mushy, but not the quinoa noodles - they stay firm)
Paprika for the top garnish
Mix of red, white and green vegetables to stir in or layer is optional*

  1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
  2. If including colorful vegetables, chopped and lightly saute mixture with a little olive oil or butter (substitute).
  3. Cube the cheese into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside in a bowl.
  4. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter, blend in the *gluten-free flour mixture*, the seasonings and bouillon (if cubes, crumble first; if paste, blend first with butter).
  5. Over low-heat blend and stir mixture until smooth and it starts to bubble. Do not let it brown.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk.
  7. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring continually. Add more milk, if too thick. Once the desired consistency is reached, reduce the heat to low and add in half or all the cheese. If you use half the cheese, the other half can be layered along with the *lightly sauteed vegetables or only the cheese.
  8. Stir the cheese sauce until all the cheese is melted.
  9. Cook the macaroni noodles according to package directions (add a little oil to the water, and stir to keep them from sticking together), drain and rinse.
  10. In a "buttered" casserole dish, large enough for a single or double batch (picture here is a double batch), layer half of the macaroni noodles, sprinkle remaining cheese if you didn't add it all to make the cheese sauce, along with the sauteed vegetables. Pour half the cheese sauce evenly over the first layer of noodles (and vegetables).
  11. Layer the remaining noodles, evenly pouring the the remaining cheese sauce over all. 
  12. Garnish with paprika.
  13. Bake the Mac and Cheese in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes for a single batch and 40-50 minutes for a double batch.
  14. One batch serves 6-8.

* Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix

Blend together the following ingredients and store in an air-tight container:
2 cups Rice Flour
2/3 cup Potato Starch
1/3 cup Tapioca Flour

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cranberry Almond Christmas Cake

Sometimes things don't turn out the way you expected; they turn out better! I started out making a raw vegan Christmas cookie, but when I tossed all of the following ingredients in my food processor, well... the dates hit the blade. I thought my processor was going to flail, lunge and plunge itself from the countertop to the floor before I could punch the pulse button to off. Rather than scrap the whole idea of a holiday treat, I scrapped the idea of it being raw and vegan and folded them into a chocolate batter and baked a fabulous Christmas Cake instead!

The almond extract give the taste sensation that those chunks of dates have the flavor and texture of hydrated dried cherries.


2 cup Almonds, in chunks
1 cup Cranberries
1 cup Coconut, shredded
2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Almond Extract
3 cups Dates, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 box of gluten-free chocolate Devil's Food Cake Mix (I used Simply Organic brand)


  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees or according to directions on cake mix
  2. Grease 9"x 13" glass baking dish
  3. Coarsely chop the pitted dates
  4. Put the remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped
  5. Combine the chopped mixture and chopped dates in a large bowl
  6. Mix the chocolate cake batter according to the directions on box (or make it from scratch)
  7. Fold the cake batter into the cranberry mixture until blended
  8. Pour the thick chocolate cake batter into the glass baking dish
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.
  10. Cool and cut into serving size squares.
  11. Serve without topping, or serve with whipped cream... or vanilla ice cream and/or... drizzle a berry chocolate sauce over all... or a dollop of cranberry sauce.... or....
Happy Holidays!

Scallops Provencal with Winter Squash Timbales

"Cooking is an art and patience a virtue... Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing - love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist - not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the naïve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love."  - Keith Floyd, ‘A Feast of Floyd’

What a delicious, sumptuous meal - light, but very satisfying with lovely flavors, texture and color.

Scallops Provencal

My favorite way of cooking scallops. Thank you to Ina Garten for Barefoot in Paris - Easy French Food You Can Make at Home. I adapted her recipe to accommodate my black pepper-free, gluten-free diet.


1 pound large sea scallops, rinsed, pat dry and sliced in half horizontally
Sea Salt
Cayenne Pepper
All-purpose Gluten-Free Flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted Butter, divided into pats
1/2 cup Shallots (2 large)
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
1/3 cup dry white Wine
1 Lemon, halved

  1. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and cayenne pepper, then toss with the flour. Shake off the excess flour and set aside on a plate.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and place the scallops in a single layer in pan and lightly brown on one side, then lightly brown on the other side. This takes no more than a few minutes in all.
  3. Melt the remaining butter in the pan along with the scallops, adding the shallots, garlic, parsley and sauté for another couple of minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops.
  4. Add the wine, continue cooking for only another minute. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Serve hot with a fresh squeeze of lemon on each serving.
  6. Serves 2

Winter Squash Timbales (a dish formed in a mold or ramekin)

Thank you to my daughter for sharing this recipe, which she gleaned from The Vegan Table (page 236). A wonderful fall and wintertime side dish that is colorful, textured and nutritious!


2 cups winter Squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2-1/2 cups Vegetable Stock (I use vegetarian bouillon and water)
1 cup Arborio Rice (do not rinse, and stir often)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt (depends how salty vegetable stock is)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil for sautéing 
1 large yellow Onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced Garlic
2 tablespoons fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons of sun-dried Tomatoes, finely chopped
Cayenne Pepper to taste (or Black Pepper)
1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted for garnish (optional)

Kale, washed, dried, chopped and steamed or sauteed

[Note: I used my food processor for the onion, then again to chop the garlic, parsley thyme, sun-dried tomato together. Worked nicely and saved time.]

  1. Lightly oil 4 ramekins, or oven-proof bowls or pans that can hold 1-1/4 cups.
  2. Steam cubed squash until tender (10-12 minutes). Place in a medium to large mixing bowl.
  3. In a large sauce pan, bring to a boil the rice in the vegetable stock. Add salt. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking until the rice is tender, for about 20 minutes. Some liquid should remain. Stir often. Arborio rice becomes very thick.
  4. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion, sautéing until it starts to turn golden brown and translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the thyme, parsley and garlic and sun-dried tomato mixture, cooking another couple of minutes, then stir in the cooked squash. Remove mixture from heat.
  5. To make the timbales, place 1/4 of the vegetable mixture in the bottom on each ramekin - pressing down gently to compact. Top with rice, once again pressing down to compact.
  6. When ready to serve, run a knife along the inside edge of the ramekins and invert each one atop a bed of freshly steamed or sautéed kale on each dinner plate.
  7. Garnish with the pine nuts and black pepper optional. I use Cayenne.
  8. Serve as a side dish with Scallops Provencal. 

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner that Your Mama Didn't Make

Creating a sauce that tastes of warm carmel apple with the pleasant and not so over-powering tang of cranberry, was the beginning of putting together a semi-non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner that taste better than any traditional meal I've made in the past. According to my husband, the best ever!

Don't wait until next Thanksgiving to try these recipes - Christmas is just around the corner. Enjoy!

Our Gluten-Free Holiday Menu
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Tamari Gravy 
  • Tempeh and Sage Loaf with Cranberry Maple Cider Sauce
  • Ginger-Glazed Parsnips & Carrots
  • Romaine, Red Onion & Orange Salad with Lime Dressing
  • Cranberry-Apple Pie

So, let's go through the ingredients and directions for all the recipes. Click here for the cranberry sauce.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Gluten-Free Tamari Gravy

Since you probably already know how to make garlic mashed potatoes, I'll only share that we boil white potatoes until soft, then mash them with freshly minced garlic, a cup of non-dairy sour cream, along with some of the reserved potato water in the pot, with sea salt to taste.

Tamari Gravy

You'll love the ease and simplicity of this one!


1/4 cup Tamari, organic and gluten-free soy sauce (San-J)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast


Pour all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until a smooth consistency. While preparing the rest of the meal, I leave the gravy mixture in the blender to give one final blend until ready to pour into a small gravy bowl or pitcher as dinner is about to be served. Yields 1 cup.

Tempeh and Sage Loaf

I thank my daughter for this fabulous gluten-free entree, which she found in the cookbook Casseroles (and Loaves) You Wish Your Mother Had Made (page 99). My husband says it's an excellent alternative to both turkey and stuffing all in one. What I love about this recipe is that you mix the ingredients a day ahead and then on the day you serve it, it slow cooks in a crock pot while you busy away in the kitchen making the side dishes to accompany it.


1 package plain Tempeh, cubed (8 ounces)
1 small Onion
2 cloves Garlic
2 stalks Celery
1 medium Carrot
1 cup fresh, sliced Mushrooms
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup gluten-free Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons Flaxseed mixed with 2 tablespoons Water
2 tablespoons vegan Chicken-Flavored Bouillon
1 teaspoon Thyme
1 teaspoon rubbed Sage
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt


  1. The day before, steam the cubed tempeh for 10 minutes and cool.
  2. Using a food processor, mince the onion, garlic, mushrooms, celery and carrot. To avoid the mixture from becoming mushy instead of minced into small bits, I pulsed separately first the onion, then the carrot and celery, and lastly the garlic and mushrooms.
  3. After heating the oil on medium heat in a skillet saute the vegetables for a few minutes, only until the onion is translucent.
  4.  In a large bowl, crumble the cooled tempeh and add the vegetable saute, the bread crumbs, flaxseed mixture, bouillon, herbs and salt.
  5. Mix thoroughly, then refrigerate in a sealed container overnight.
  6. Planning ahead when you wish to serve your meal, put the tempeh mixture into the oiled crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours (7 is about right). Keep the lid propped open during cooking to keep the condensation from dripping on top on the loaf. You want the top to have a crisp texture; the center will be moist. Use a flat spatula to cut and lift out each serving. Serves 6 

Ginger-Glazed Parsnips & Carrots

This Ginger Glazed Carrots recipe has been one of my favorite holiday side dishes for years; a recipe from Spices of the World Cookbook by McCormick I acquired in 1978. This adaptation includes my other favorite root vegetable, parsnips.


4 medium Carrots
4 medium Parsnips
1 teaspoon vegetable-based Bouillon, chicken-flavored optional 
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Bon Appetit seasoning, optional
3/4 cup Water
4 tablespoons Butter or butter substitute
1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
3 tablespoons Honey
1/2 teaspoon Ginger powder, or fresh minced
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg powder, or freshly grated

  1. Wash, peel and slice diagonally carrots and parsnips. 
  2. Finely chop some parsley for garnish.
  3. In a skillet add the carrots and parsnips, bouillon, water, sugar, Bon Appetit and 1 tablespoon of the butter.
  4. Cook covered over medium-high for 10-12 minutes - or until tender, then drain.
  5. To the skillet, add the remaining butter, lemon juice, ginger, nutmeg and honey.
  6. Cook uncovered over medium heat 2 to 3 more minutes, tossing continually to glaze the carrots and parsnips.
  7. Garnish with parsley when serving.
  8. Serves 4

Romaine & Orange Salad with Lime Dressing

Dressing - Mix the following ingredients by shaking in a tumbler or by blending in a blender:

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/8 teaspoon grated Lime Peel
1 tablespoon fresh Lime Juice
1 large clove Garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Sea Salt

Salad - Toss together six (6) cups of washed, crisped and torn Romaine Lettuce leaves with 1/2 cup thinly-sliced red onion and 1 can of drained or freshly chopped mandarin oranges. Either drizzle dressing over individual salad servings or toss the dressing with the salad.

Cranberry-Apple Pie

Working with a gluten-free dough can be tricky, especially when trying to make a pie with a lattice top. Photo clearly shows the challenge I had making a "pretty pie". If it's texture and taste you're going for ,bursting with flavor, tucked into a flaky crust... it's so worth the effort.

Start by making the dough for the top and bottom gluten-free pie crusts:

Recipe for 1 crust (for 2 crusts, double the ingredients except for the salt)

Wet Ingredients:

1 Egg
2 teaspoons White Vinegar

Dry Ingredients:

1-1/4 cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour*
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

Additional Ingredients:

6 tablespoons Butter Flavored Crisco, chilled or frozen
1 teaspoon ice cold Water

  1. Whisk the egg and vinegar until very frothy and refrigerate while mixing other ingredients.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients.
  3. Cut the Crisco into the flour mix until a coarse, mealy consistency the size of small peas.
  4. Add the egg/vinegar mixture. If the flour mixture is still too dry, add cold water 1 teaspoon at a time until you have the consistency where you can form the dough into a ball (2 balls if doubling for 2 crusts).
  5. Wrap dough balls in plastic wrap and refrigerator for an hour.
  6. Roll the dough between wax paper or parchment paper until the circle is the size to fit your pie pan.
  7. Add the filling** and top second crust. I used a lattice cutter as I found the top too fragile to weave strips of crust into a lattice top.
  8. Brush the top with a glaze made of mixing together: 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk brush over the top and edges of the crust, then sprinkled with a mixture of: 2 teaspoons sugar and a dash of cinnamon.
  9. Bake pie in an oven pre-heated to 400-degrees and bake for 25 minutes.
  10. Reduce the oven to 325-degrees and continue baking for another 40-45 minutes.
  11. Especially yummy served warm a la mode with vanilla coconut ice cream.
* Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix

Blend together the following ingredients and store in an air-tight container:
2 cups Rice Flour
2/3 cup Potato Starch
1/3 cup Tapioca Flour

** Filling for Cranberry-Apple Pie

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the following:


1/2 cup dried Currants and Raisins
2 tablespoons Dark Rum or Water
1 cup fresh, whole Cranberries, washed and drained
3/4 cup Sugar
5-6 medium Baking Apples - Fuji or Braeburn, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons quick-cooking Tapioca
1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cranberry Maple Cider Sauce

Thanksgiving without cranberries, whether celebrated with a traditional or non-traditional feast, would be to me like taking the "Thanks" out of "Thanksgiving". I've enjoyed serving raw cranberry relish as a healthy and delicious alternative to traditional cranberry sauce or jelly, but this year I created a new recipe that by all appearances looks like traditional sauce, but is a variation with a deeper color along with the combined, naturally sweet and rich flavors of maple and unfiltered apple cider. I call it... wait for it... Cranberry Maple Cider Sauce. It has the tang of cranberries with the warmth of other fall flavors that evoke wonderful memories.


1 12-ounce bag of whole Cranberries
1 cup Apple Cider, unfiltered (thick)
1 cup Maple Syrup (real maple syrup)
Grated zest of 1 large Orange
1 cup coarsely chopped Pecans


  1. Rinse and drain the cranberries.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, apple cider, maple syrup and orange zest.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low heat and continue to cook for about another 10 minutes or until all the cranberries pop open. 
  4. Use a "potato" masher or fork, to lightly mash the cranberries into the liquid.
  5. Stir in the pecans.
  6. Serve the sauce warm or cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, no more than a few days  before Thanksgiving. 
Serves 8-12

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Zucchini-Feta Flapjacks

When I asked a friend of mine what she was doing today, she replied that she was making flapjacks for a bonfire tomorrow night.  Her comment reminded me that I had not posted my recent gluten-free recipe for making a savory pancake (aka flapjack) as a brunch, lunch or dinner side dish or entree. 

So here it is!


1-1/2 pounds of Zucchini, grated (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup Feta Cheese, finely crumbled
2 eggs + 1 egg white, beaten
3/4 cup All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Sea Salt
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper) 
1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano
Olive Oil (spray) for coating fry pan


  1. Once the zucchini is grated, squeeze out excess liquid using just your hands pressing down the zucchini in a fine strainer, through cheesed cloth, or like in my case since I had neither at hand, pressing the moisture out into layers of paper towels (worked great).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, blend well the zucchini, feta, eggs, flour, baking powder and seasonings.
  3. Heat over medium-high heat, a wide frying pan that is coated with the olive oil.
  4. You should be able to cook 3 to 4 flapjacks that are 2-3 tablespoons of mixture each, spreading them out to make 4-inch rounds.
  5. Cook the flapjacks for about three (3) minutes per side, or until golden. 
  6. Serve warm as is, with butter, sour cream, greek yogurt, savory cream sauce or condiment to taste.
These were a BIG hit at my dinner table!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Curried-Tempeh Salad

Wow. This is way better than chicken salad! Thank you for sharing you recipe with us, Ef!

The main entree of our tailgate lunch, in the parking lot at the Portland International Raceway between our kid's cyclocross races, was our daughter's gluten-free, faux chicken curry salad, made with tempeh, served with her gluten-free sandwich bread made with buckwheat. If I am successful with her bread recipe, I will share it on this blog too.


2 packages (8-ounce each) of Tempeh, diced into 1/4" cubes
1 Apple, cored and diced (peeling optional)
3 Celery stalks, chopped
1/4 cup chopped Nuts (walnuts or pecans)
2 tablespoons Raisins
2 teaspoons Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Mayonnaise (eggless, if vegan)


  1. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, add 2 to 3 inches of water to a saucepan and place tempeh in a steamer basket. Let cool.
  2. Once cooled, in a large bowl, combine the tempeh with the apple, celery, nuts, raisins, seasonings and mayonnaise. Add more or less pepper and mayonnaise to your taste and level of moistness you prefer.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serves 8

Here's a recap by my daughter of her conversation her four year old daughter, my granddaughter, on their drive home from their cyclocross race: 

"Leify (22-month old brother), please stop making all that noise! It's not polite to make all that noise when I'm trying to have a conversation with Mama." She told me in intricate detail of her plans for opening a restaurant called "A Big Kitchen For All of Us" - it will host two large kitchens, a party room, offer world foods, the parking lot will be on the left - and I will be supplying lights for the lot, restaurant decorations, roses for the tables and a calendar for the kitchen so that she knows what day it is. And her menu sounds amazing! She's so creative she won't even have to go to cooking school! Thankfully we've been invited to dine at her restaurant every night! I can't wait for her to wow me every night, cause she certainly does evety day!!!

Some of the delectables Seph plans to serve are Crispy Crunchy Carrots and Purple Marshmallow Stew.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Whether ambiance or ambience, it spells special atmosphere.

While I was visiting with a friend yesterday, he mentioned as he was about to leave that he and his wife were going shopping for candles. I figured since we've had some high winds and storm season is upon us, they would be utilitarian, back-up lights for a possible, even probable, power outage. We had an outage, not far from their home, just the other night. He replied something like, "No, we enjoy dining by candlelight." BIG smile here. I gave him a mental high-five.

It has always been our family tradition during our thirty-eight years of marriage to serve dinners with a pleasantly set table: table cloth or runner, attractive placemats, sometimes charges that we brought back from France, cloth napkins and condiments go from bottles and jars to serving bowls, while enjoying that special atmosphere or mood  (ambiance/ambience) created by dimming the lights and/or candles lit at the table. Sometimes we add soft, relaxing music to the background, other times we enjoy quiet and the flicker of the fireplace as we share our thoughts and recaps of our days. In an atmosphere like that the food tastes even better, we eat slower and linger at the table.

I came across this great idea from Friends of Glass on Facebook. All you need is a glass cutter to repurpose regular or over-sized wine bottles to make a casual cluster of candles as center-piece luminaries, to create a special atmosphere or mood whether indoors or outdoors - the wind won't blow these candles out!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Crab Babies

DZ is harvesting crabs daily, with a limit of five per harvest - Washington State limit per person, per day. It was dark by the time I got home, and DZ was still in the garage removing the crab meat from the  five he brought home and steamed late afternoon. The day before, he bought a small freezer to keep in the garage to store the vacuum-sealed seafood we will enjoy after their perspective season has ended.

We were both tired and hungry, with two portions of fresh crab in the refrigerator... so while DZ was dealing with the crabs outside, I need to quickly get creative and productive in the kitchen, if we wanted to eat anytime soon.

Having served my friend, Kris, sweet Dutch Babies filled with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt drizzled with agave nectar, for breakfast a few days earlier, I thought it would be tasty to serve us savory "Crab Babies" for dinner... simple, quick, and with little taxing of what brain cells I had left, a creative solution that proved to be excellent, despite how I had to take a number of little offerings from the refrigerator to generate enough content to feed two people. Our Crab Babies ended up just right - flavor-wise and portion-wise, especially for two, who whatever reasons, forgot to eat lunch.

Dutch Babies are easy-cheesy to make and take few ingredients... even with alternative ingredients in the batter, they hardly ever fail to impress, look and taste great.

Here's the ingredients and directions for making my version of a gluten-free Dutch Babies, using what I had on hand:

Ingredients for Dutch Babies Batter:

1/4 cup, same as a half a stick of Butter or butter substitute (four pats - two for each baking dish)
3 Eggs
1/2 cup Rice Milk
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour
Pinch of Salt

Note: Dutch Baby batter recipes may vary slightly as to the ratio of number of eggs, milk, flour and butter per serving.

Directions and Other Ingredients for making Crab Babies:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425-degrees with two glass pie plates on a rack in the middle of the oven. Do not have a rack above, as the Dutch Babies have the potential of rising on the sides, sometime quite high.
  2. Liquid first, put all the ingredients, sans the butter, in a blender and blend until... well, blended.
  3. When oven reaches temperature,  put two pats of butter in each glass pie plate and melt, without browning - happens very fast, so watch carefully. It's easy to forget and set off the smoke detector.
  4. As soon as the butter is melted, pour half of the batter into each of the two glass pie plates.
  5. Before or while they bake at 425-degrees for 18-20 minutes, prepare the contents to fill the "Crab Babies" after they are transferred to dinner plates, as shown above.
  6. In a saute pan, lightly saute together in olive oil savory ingredients of choice. Here's what I had on hand: chopped Green Onion, diced White Onion, diced Red Bell Pepper, sliced Mushrooms, teaspoon or less of Capers (rinsed), a quarter + teaspoon of Fennel Seed and a pinch of Salt and Cayenne Pepper. Keep warm, but don't over cook.
  7. In a small mixing bowl, whip together - best at room temperature (a quick microwave works to take the chill off) -  whatever portions seems right to you of creamy ingredients. I found a little of each of the following in our refrigerator and combined them to make a wonderful, creamy base to my concoction: Tofutti (soy cream cheese substitute), Greek Yogurt, Mayonnaise, shredded Parmesan Cheese, a squeeze of fresh Lemon Juice and Lemon Zest... and a pinch of Salt.
  8. As soon as the Dutch Babies come out of the oven - oven mitts compulsory - very, very hot and easy to burn yourself - transfer them to dinner plates. They should have lovely, toasty brown edges, perhaps bubbly in the center slathered in melted butter... then immediately start to "settle" on the dinner plates.
  9. Best using a rubber spatula, divide and spread the creamy mixture across each, hot serving, then divide both the savory filling and warmed, cooked crab meat, and cover the creamy mixture with color and texture of the sauteed mixture and bite-size pieces of crab.
  10. Garnish with a light sprinkling of Paprika and serve while hot. 
Generously serves 2

Recipe dedicated to Crab harvesters DZ and Phil.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apricot, Plum, Date and Almond Sticky-Bars

In the midst of moving in and getting acquainted with the kitchen, our local produce stand was about to close for the season, so we unpacked our food dehydrator and bought a bunch of ripe apricots and plums to dry before they were gone. After I got the kitchen drawers and cupboards filled with the basics, I set to work rinsing, slicing and pitting the fruit for drying for later enjoyment.

When dehydrating pitted fruits, be sure to pop the back so they will dry evenly and flat. Dry time will vary depending how much fruit you are drying at one time, but your dehydrator guide will give you the suggested temp and time for the particular food you are drying.

Later enjoyment came sooner than later, as one of the cookbooks I unpacked, Fresh - The Ultimate Live-Food Cookbook, opened to a recipe for Peach Cobbler Bars on page 112.

I adapted the recipe to accommodate what I had in the kitchen... my apricot, plum, date and almond bars turned out very nutritious, moist and tasty.

Here's my recipe... I chopped and mixed by hand. I find that a blender often pulverizes nuts, try as you might not to, and when it comes to mixing sticky ingredients in a blender, the mixture often is to "gummy" to blend properly and the effort can burn out the motor.


1 pound medium to finely-chopped Almonds
1 cup dehydrated Apricots and Plums medium to finely-chopped and soaked for 5-minutes in Apple Juice
1/2 cup pitted Dates, medium-chopped
2 tablespoons Agave Nectar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon powdered Cinnamon
1/5 teaspoon Sea Salt
Peanut or Canola oil to coat muffin tins

  1. Lightly oil a couple of muffin baking pans.
  2. Drain the hydrated apricots and plums, reserving the rich nectar to drink. Yummy!
  3. By hand, blend all the ingredients in a medium-size mixing bowl. 
  4. Take a heaping tablespoon or so of mixture and press flat into the bottom of each muffin tin.
  5. When all the mixture is pressed into the muffin tins, place the muffin pans in the freezer.
  6. When chilled, remove the round bars and place two-by-two into ziplock snack baggies. Return to the freezer until ready to enjoy.
The bars have a lot of texture and moisture, making an excellent and satisfying snack to boost energy and stave off hunger mid-day.

We took a break from unpacking to check out the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race in our town. I put together a small snack bag to take along that included the apricot, plum, date and almond bars... perfect solution! 

Oh, here's just one of the participants with his crazy kinetic sculpture gizmo - a gnome working something of a gerbil cage, moved only by physical human energy down the road, into the water, across the sand and through a mud bog. 

I wish we hadn't eaten all the bars we had with us; bars that even gnomes and gerbils would love!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Moving Day Soup

Taking a break to tell you about my day, then back to it....

Packing to move, boxes of all sizes stacked everywhere... and I'm getting hungry. I have some food in the refrigerator from which I could rustle us up some homemade soup in a hurry, but I have no idea which box has our cooking utensils. Husband saves the day calling to say he's going to stop by and pick up a gluten-free pizza. He calls back and says they're closed for the day. Our kitchen counter is cluttered with everything I pulled out of the cupboards, boxes and bubble wrap, along with today's mail. So, I push what I can aside and work quickly to be able to say "Soup's on!" thirty minutes later when DZ walks through the door with my empty suitcase to fill with clothes that are folded neatly in the landlord's dresser drawer.

I love soup and figure that we must have enough produce to make a Moving Day vegetable soup using whatever hasn't been packed up. So let's take a quick look and get busy... for ingredients, we have:

fresh picked, local assortment of green beans
several vine ripened tomatoes
a couple of large white potatoes
yellow and green bell peppers
a couple of yellow crooked-neck squash
a bunch of celery and part of a zucchini
a part of an onion sliced and half of another onion
a couple of fresh mushrooms and a can of sliced mushrooms
a can of corn and a part of a jar of vegetable stock base

I found my soup pot, but I can't find my knives. The landlord's collection, which I just unpacked and put back in the drawer...all as dull as butter knives. This is the time to  be very, very careful not to cut myself. Dull is dangerous. I hack at the vegetables more than cut them, then furiously tossed them into the pot filled part way with water, two tablespoons of vegetable stock base and two large pinches of sea salt.  

My nifty, red rubber tube to remove garlic skin is lost to a box somewhere, so I use my hand towel to loosen the peel, rolling it around four plump cloves of garlic and rolling furiously back and forth with the palms of my hands. My garlic press is probably buried with the roller, so I slivered the garlic rather than attempt to mince them with a dull blade and blended them into the mix of fresh ingredients with one of three wooden spoons that will remain in our loft apartment kitchen. I could have mashed them, I suppose.

I pinched in some cayenne and tossed a liberal amount of the Italian herb blend sitting on the counter by the sea salt. All the other spices were... of course... packed.

Having replaced our personal dishes, bowls, glasses and flatware with that of the landlord's assortment, we enjoyed a fine lunch on the deck with the simplicity of a bowl, a soup spoon and a glass of water... all because DZ scrounged around until he found the soup ladle!

I don't know when I will have to pack and move again. I hope not any time soon. But when I do, I need to remind myself to withhold just a few more basic items and provisions during the exodus with which we can cook and feed ourselves with for a few days.

Despite the lack of kitchen equipment, gadgets, cookware, food and spice selection, the soup turned out great - though simple, has wonderful flavor... proving yet again that more doesn't necessarily mean better. And we have enough soup left in the pot to last us for the next couple of lunches during our move.

Now back to packing.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Black Olive and Roasted Potato Salad

Central Market in Poulsbo is a wonderful one-stop-shop grocer on the Quimper Peninsula. Last time I was there I bought my family in Eugene a terrific cookbook chalked full of fantastic vegetarian and vegan recipes for burgers and delicious, nutritious side dish accompaniments. Everything we've tried from Luke Volger's Veggie Burgers Every Which Way thus far has been exceptional, including Black Olive and Roasted Potato Salad with Arugula, on page 135.

The roasted potatoes just came out of the oven to cool before tossing with the vinaigrette.

In the meantime, I'll give you this gluten-free recipe, so you can whip up this dish for you and your guests tonight.

In the original, the potatoes are tossed with arugula. I'm serving the potato salad atop mixed greens and only using the only potatoes we had on hand, red. I also substitute cracked black pepper with cayenne, as I have a black pepper allergy. Although the recipes says it serves 4, it can be stretched to serve 6 if not the main course.


1 large sweet potato or 1 large large Yukon (8 ounces)
1 red potato (8 ounces)
4 tablespoons black olive tapenade (finely process 1 cup + of black pitted olives with 2 tablespoons olive oil)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced into half-rings
3 cups baby arugula, baby spinach or mixed greens loosely packed

Fresh ground pepper to taste.

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees
  2. Wash, dry and cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Peeling not necessary.
  3. Toss potatoes with 3 tablespoons of the tapenade and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  4. Spread potatoes onto a baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Completely cool the potatoes.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, whisk 1 tablespoon of tapenade, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and salt.
  7. Add the slices of red onion and let the mixture stand for 10 minutes before adding the potatoes and greens before serving.
  8. Season with black pepper to taste.

We served our warm black olive and potato salad on a bed of mixed greens with blanched asparagus and sautéed mushrooms.

Gorilla Bars

My 20-month old grandson, Leif, misunderstood "granola" calling his family's latest version of GF granola bars, Gorilla Bars. And yes, Leif, these Gorilla Bars are "yummy!"

Dry Ingredients

2-1/2 cups organic rolled oats
1/4 cup GF flour mix: 2 cups white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato flour/starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup ground flaxseed (automatic coffee bean grinder works great)
1/2 dry protein powder
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced almonds*
1 cup craisins*

* alternative ingredients to consider are: dried apples or apricots chopped fine, raisins....

Wet Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup creamy almond butter


  1. Preheat oven 325-degrees. Lightly oil a 9"x13" baking pan with olive or canola oil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Wait to add the dry fruit until the wet ingredients are ready to mix in.
  3. In a small saucepan, stir together all the wet ingredients over medium-low heat until warm and well-blended.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, adding the craisins, mixing quickly until well-combined.
  5. With lightly oiled hands, pat the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake at 325-degrees for 20 minutes.
  7. Let the bars cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting. A pizza cutter works best.
  8. After the bars are cut, let them continue to cool before removing from the pan. You can cover them with plastic wrap overnight to keep the bars moist.
  9. Store in an air-tight container up to a week, if they last that long!
Makes 24 bars

My daughter, Effie, is now contributing their family recipes to Cook Around the Block - experimenting, discovering and creating new recipes they are enjoying, having made a radical change to their lifestyle and eating habits to address food allergies, gluten and lactose intolerance, and to improve their health and fitness for their very active lives.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Failed Vegan Experiment - "Chowders On!"

Well, it was nearly a year ago that we took the challenge to go vegan, and failed I might add. Now that we live on the Olympic Peninsula, we are able to enjoy the bounty of the Puget Sound, simply by walking onto nearby beaches to harvest oysters and clams, go crabbing with friends and enjoy fresh-caught fish anytime we want when they are in season. 

We have easily given up everything else that is animal protein-based, except for the occasional grating or slice of cheese. Our dairy substitutes are coconut, almond and rice milk products. We get our fats primarily from olive oil, nuts and seeds and their butters.

Back in 2009, I posted two crab recipes with links to other variations. I recommend you try them. Tonight, we are cooking up a batch of crab chowder from DZ's catch the other day. 

If you have a shellfish license in the State of Washington, you are able harvest five regulation-size crabs a day during crabbing season.
I'm hearing "Chowder's on!" coming from the kitchen... be back shortly to post our recipe.

 Absolutely fabulous! Could be served in the finest seafood restaurant anywhere in the world.

Manhattan Crab Chowder - Gluten-Free

Manhattan Crab Chowder

Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves 6-8


Water to cover Potatoes
3 cups precooked diced Potatoes
1 pint of Water
2 tablespoons "Organic Better Than Bouillon" Vegetable Base (paste)
1 heaping teaspoon Fennel Seed
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup chopped Onion
4 cloves chopped Garlic
2 large fresh Tomatoes, chopped
3/4 pound Crabmeat (and/or cubed, bite-size pieces of white Fish, Clams...)

  1. Diced potatoes and cover with water in a 3-quart saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, and boil for 15 minutes.
  3. In a 1-quart saucepan, add a pint of water, 2 heaping tablespoons of the vegetable base. Add fennel seed, Italian seasoning, salt and the optional pepper.
  4. Boil for a couple of minutes.
  5. In a 4-5 quart stockpot, add the olive oil, diced onion, chopped garlic and tomatoes.
  6. Pour the cooked potatoes along with the potato water over all. 
  7. Next, pour the ingredients from the small sauce pan into the stock pot. 
  8. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then stir in the crab meat (and/or other seafood). 
  9. Simmer for another 5 minutes and serve hot.
Turn this into a fabulous seafood stew/cioppino by adding to the crab a combination of clams, mussels, shrimp, white fish....