Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gluten Free Cheesy Shrimp & Grits

After seeing a shrimp and grits dish whipped up on one of my favorite Food Network shows, I just had to see what the fuss was all about.  The recipe is easy, relatively quick to put together, and sooooo good! Feel free to double the amount of shrimp I used. The more shrimp the merrier!  I decided to mix everything up together, but you can opt to top the cheesy grits with the shrimp mixture and eat it that way. Either way I'm sure you won't be disappointed:)  You can use any GF corn grits you want, but I used Bob's Red Mill GF Grits.

  • 4 cups water (+ more to keep grits moist)
  • 1 cup grits (aka polenta)
  • 3 tblsp butter
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 6 slices bacon - pork or turkey (chopped)
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 tblsp parsley (chopped)
  • 1 cup scallions (thinly sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • Salt & Pepper

  1. Bring water to a boil. Add some salt and pepper and the grits. Cook for 20-25 minutes.  If grits start to look dry, keep adding splashes of water to keep it moist and creamy. 
  2. Meanwhile...  Rinse shrimp and pat dry. 
  3. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; drain well and chop up. 
  4. In the bacon grease, cook the shrimp on medium heat until pink.  Add the lemon juice, chopped bacon, chopped parsley, scallions and garlic.  Saute for another 3 minutes.
  5. Remove grits from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese.  YUM!
  6. Either mix up everything together, or spoon grits into bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Serve immediately and chow down!
  7. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Beef and Fresh Herb Stew

I can't believe it's been this long since I've posted a new recipe!  You know what they say...  time flies when you're having fun.  I spent the whole month of May in China; traveling around, exploring, teaching, eating great food...  and I couldn't write about any of it because China has banned all social networking sites, including blogs.  However, I did take lots of pictures, and will be doing a "China Flashback" soon!

After I returned I had to hit the ground running in order to get Helping Hands Books back in order, and to start the dissertation process!  Now I finally feel like I'm back into the groove of things... catching up with friends, and catching up with all my side hobbies, like this one:)

The following stew recipe is one of those dishes that just sings out with the feeling of home-style comfort.  You can use pretty much any kind of herbs you have on hand.  I chopped up a smorgasbord of fresh organic herbs given to us by our friends Chip and Jackie Denoyers.  They are part of a farm co-op and had lots to share.  Fresh herbs are like currency to me.  When I get my hands on them, I just can't let them go to waste.  Besides this dish, I used them in omelets and scrambled eggs, pasta, and even to spice up my typical easy-meal soft tortilla wraps.

Feel free to add as much salt and pepper as you'd like to this dish, or even a bit of cayenne pepper.  Unless you like subtle, earthy flavors, because that's what this stew is all about:)

Roland Gluten Free All Natural Chicken Soup Base, 23 Servings Per 4-Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)


  • 2 large onions (diced)
  • 1/2 pound minced beef
  • 3 tblsp oil
  • 1 1/2 tblsp ground tumeric
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas (or Dal)
  • 5 cups water or GF chicken/vegetable stock
  • 3 tblsp parsley or thyme (chopped)
  • 3 tblsp rosemary (chopped)
  • 3 tblsp chives (chopped)
  • 3 tblsp mint (chopped)
  • 3 saffron strands, dissolved in 1 tblsp boiling water
  • 1 tblsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Dice up one of the onions. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the chopped onion until golden brown. Add the tumeric, split peas (Dal) and water... bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer - simmer for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile... dice up the other onion and throw it into a bowl.  Add the minced beef, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix well.  
  3. Once the 20 minute timer goes off, form the beef/onion mixture into 1-inch sized balls and carefully place into the simmering liquid. Once all the little meatballs are in the pot, set the timer for another 10 minutes.
  4. After the timer rings, add the rice, parsley, rosemary, and chives. Simmer for 30 more minutes, or until rice is tender, stirring frequently. 
  5. Melt the butter in a small pan and fry up the chopped garlic.  Stir in the mint and the saffron.  Add the garlic butter mixture to the soup and stir well.  
  6. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with mint if you have any left. 
  7. ENJOY!

Gluten Free Spicy Shrimp in Chile Sauce

I've been experimenting a lot lately in the kitchen; using different kinds of GF noodles, and definitely spicing things up more than usual.  So far I've been super pumped with 3 out of the 4 new dishes I've created.  This dish uses fish sauce.  I've had a bad experience with fish sauce in the past, so I was hesitant at first adding the pungent, oddly colored substance. My bad fish sauce experience took place at a Thai restaurant. In order to assure that my pad thai didn't contain gluten, I provided my own gluten free soy sauce and fish sauce.  I don't know if they were offended or what, but my pad thai was so sickeningly fishy I almost passed out from nausea.

However this dish, which includes fish sauce, is ridiculously delicious!  It's a bit spicy but spice is good right?


  • 3 tblsp water
  • 2 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tblsp sugar
  • 1 small onion (red or white), cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 tblsp GF fish sauce (just check the ingredients)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2-3 inch lengths
  • 2 tblsp coconut milk mixed with 2 tblsp water
  • Steamed rice (for a side)

Cooking Instructions
  1. In a small skillet, mix the sugar with 1 tblsp of the water and cook over high heat, stirring until the mixture becomes a dark caramel color (roughly 2 to 3 minutes). Remove from heat and slowly stir in the remaining 2 tblsp of water. Transfer the caramel to a tiny glass bowl (or shot glass).
  2. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the sliced onion wedges and chopped garlic and stir fry until just softened (about 1 minute).
  3. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chopped serrano chiles, fish sauce, chili sauce, black pepper, scallion pieces and liquid caramel and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until the shrimp are pink (about 5 minutes).
  5. Stir in the diluted coconut milk, bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced (about 1 minute).
  6. Serve with sides of steamed rice.
  7. Chow down and enjoy! :)

Gluten Free Leek, Potato and Bean Stew

We just had a string of cold, wet and dreary days here in Philadelphia.  For me it was a little taste of home... Home as in Syracuse, NY that is, where sunny days only come about about 60 times a year.  For me, although it's a bit strange, there is something comforting about miserable weather.  I think it's because when the weather is at its worst, I tend to appreciate the little pleasures in life even more.  Like cuddling with a partner or a loved one... enjoying a hot mug of cocoa. Or, a steaming bowl of stew.  It was on one of these atypically dreary days in Philadelphia that I decided to whip up a big batch of this stew.  It's inexpensive, and super easy!

The spices make this stew pop for sure, but the combination of leek, potatoes, onions and beans always create a sense of homecoming for me.  There's nothing like the power of food to warm not just one's palate, but one's soul as well.  Everyone who tried this stew absolutely loved it, and I'm sure you will too:)

Total prep and cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Feeds: About 4 - Want more?, double it up!


  • 1 can cannellini or navy beans (drained)
  • 1lb potatoes, skinned, rinsed and diced up
  • 3 tblsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 leeks (sliced)
  • 8 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tblsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups gluten free vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tblsp fresh cilantro (rinsed and chopped)
  • Salt and Pepper as desired

Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pot (or dutch oven).  Add the potatoes, onion and leeks and cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are pale golden (stirring occasionally).
  2. Stir in the garlic, cumin and paprika and cook for a couple more minutes.
  3. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the beans, cover, and lower the heat to simmer for about 1 hour.
  5. Before serving, stir in the cilantro and as much salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Be prepared to be comforted and enjoy!

Gluten Free Harvest-Time Chili

I've been all about stews and chili's lately.  The fall colors are starting to arrive, early morning air is crisp with hints of the winter ahead, and I have a growing urge to fatten up and get ready for hibernation.

In just one week my partner and I will embark on an amazing overseas adventure.  For three weeks we'll be exploring and experiencing new and familiar cultures, while Mindy visits all the study-abroad programs affiliated with the university she works for.  While she's taking care of business, I'll continue to work on my dissertation and the presentation I'll be giving at Moravian College when I return.  I can't wait! Especially for the 8-10 hour drive we'll be making from Switzerland to Rome, Italy!!  A dream come true:)

I digress...  back to the food! I whipped this chili up last night and it was killer!  It's cheap, easy,  produces lots of yummy leftovers... perfect for the student on the go.  The only ingredients not in a can are the onions, green pepper and chili powder.  Try this one out as soon as possible. You'll love it!

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup green pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 2 cans Pinto Beans (un-drained)
  • 1 can ( 14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (un-drained)
  • 1 can (11 oz.) sweet corn (drained)
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tblsp chili powder
  • Salt (to taste)

Cooking Directions
  1. In a large pot, cook the beef, onion and green pepper until the beef is browned.  Drain.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

Gluten Free Kasha Chili

A lot has been going on these days. Teaching two undergraduate social work classes, one on sexuality and one on research methods.  An upcoming weekend conference to attend where I'm also presenting, a couple more speaking engagements on the horizon, and a dissertation fully underway.  Not to mention the pleasurable effort cultivating some sense of a social life... a remaining New Year's resolution not yet abandoned.  In times like these I love leftovers.  I love not worrying about picking food up, or putting the time into whipping up a meal.  It's nice to know there's tasty food ready and waiting, no effort, no fuss, just eat and back to the busy.

This Kasha chili was deeeeeeee-lish!  I loved the texture of the Kasha mixed in with the ground turkey, tomatoes and beans. Yum!  Want this to be vegetarian?  Leave out the ground turkey and substitute the gluten free chicken stock with vegetable stock.  With the spices in this, it'll be tasty no matter what!

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 14oz. can stewed tomatoes
  • l medium tomato (chopped)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1 can pinto, black or kidney beans
  • 3/4 cup whole uncooked kasha
  • 1 tblsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 cups gluten free chicken or vegetable stock

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the turkey and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the kasha, to the skillet.  Bring to a light boil for 12 minutes.
  3. Add the kasha, cover, and reduce to simmer.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the kasha is tender.
  4. Serve and Enjoy!

Bratwurst & Pennsylvania Dutch-Style Sauerkraut

Recently I was asked to review a recipe that will soon be published in a gluten free cookbook. This dish is based on that recipe. Although the original recipe specifically calls for Dietz & Watson Chicken Bratwurst and Dietz & Watson sauerkraut, feel free to use any kind of bratwurst and sauerkraut you want.  Also, feel free to use non-alcoholic  white wine, or even just white grape juice.

This recipe produces a LOT of food, so feel free to cut it in half and easily be able fill up four people's bellies:)  Also, make sure to drain and rinse your sauerkraut well - if not - the vinegar taste will be overwhelming.  This is a complete meal - no side dishes necessary. Enjoy!!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 6-8

  • 2 pounds bratwurst
  • 9 slices bacon
  • 4 tblsp unsalted butter
  • 2 medium sized onions (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 4 cups sauerkraut (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 1/2 cups sweet white wine (ex., Riesling), or white grape juice (no sugar added)
  • 2 large apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 large red skinned potato (about 3-4 oz.) (peeled and grated)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Cooking Directions
  1. Melt 1 tblsp butter in a large pot over medium high heat and add the bratwurst and sear until browned. Turn and repeat. Remove the bratwurst from pot and reserve for later.
  2. Melt 3 tblsp butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 3 minutes, or until crisp.  Add the onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes or so, or until golden brown.
  3. Stir in the sauerkraut, wine (or unsweetened white grape juice), and caraway seeds. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the stock is reduced by 3/4ths. 
  4. Slice and dice up the cooked bratwurst. Add the bratwurst to the sauerkraut. Stir in the apples and grated potato and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the apples and potato are mushy. 
  5. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Green Pork Sausage Chili

Whoa! That was the first reaction I had after the flavors of this chili permeated my taste buds.  I've never made a chili quite like this one, and I've never tasted one quite like it either.  Very spicy, very flavorful, and very rich.  Both my brother and my partner couldn't get enough of it as well.  And although I had hoped to make the leftovers last at least a few days, such was not the case...  it was just too good to last:)

If you're vegetarian, simply substitute the sausage with well spiced tofu, or any other meat-like, non-meat you're fond of.  If you're not that into pork, simply replace it with diced chicken or ground beef.  No matter what protein source you use, the flavors of this dish are sure to please.

  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 3 large celery stalks (diced)
  • 1 large green bell pepper (seeded & diced)
  • 3 green onions (sliced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb pork sausage (or ground beef, turkey, tofu, etc.)
  • 4 cups (about 3 cans) canned white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce (your choice, but make sure it's GF - most are)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)

Cooking Directions
  1. Heat 2 tblsp of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add green peppers and celery and cook for 5 minutes.  
  2. Add green onions and garlic - cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables and transfer to plate for later.
  3. Add remaining olive oil to saucepan. Over medium-high heat, cook the sausage (or other meat/tofu) until well browned on all sides, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the cooked vegetables, kidney beans, hot sauce, water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low.
  5. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Uncover saucepan and continue to simmer for 5 minutes to reduce liquid.
  7. Stir in the chopped parsley, serve, and be prepared for taste explosions to go off in your mouth! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

I cook a lot for myself. I cook a lot in general, but when it’s primarily for myself I like to make dishes that create a lot of leftovers. I remember when I couldn’t stand eating leftovers. I thought I was too good for them, and would usually throw them out. My mentality changed however, after my gluten-intolerance made it very difficult for me to just go out and grab a quick bite to eat somewhere. Now, if I’m going to be outside of my home for an extended amount of time, I always bring my own food and snacks. It’s not that I can’t go to a store and find something I can eat, it’s just more convenient to be prepared. There’s nothing more annoying than going over the ingredient lists of foodstuff after foodstuff, only to come to the conclusion that gluten is in absolutely everything! Something especially true for pre-packaged food.

This simple recipe for Shepherd’s Pie comes from the book: Easy Cooking With 5 Ingredients, by Barbara C. Jones. This book is no frills, with no pictures or glossy pages. What it has however, is a ton of easy to cook meals. Shepherd’s Pie can be made a ton of different ways. The way I make it here is not for the vegetarians out there. You can substitute the meat with ingredients like seasoned Tofu or beans. The recipe calls for instant potatoes, but since most instant potato products contain some form of gluten, I would recommend using old fashioned mashed potatoes, or find some guaranteed gluten-free instant ones. No matter how you make this dish, you'll most likely have leftovers! It's very tasty... and very filling.

Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients
  • 2 cups Mashed Potatoes (instant gluten-free if available)
  • ½ cup Salsa, or gluten-free enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup Shredded cheese (whatever you like)
  • 1 can Whole kernel corn (drained)
  • 1 pound Lean ground beef (or turkey, tofu, tofurkey, turducken, etc.)
  • Salt & Pepper

If using raw potatoes, you’re going to want to get them cooked and out of the way before starting the rest of this meal. You can make great mashed potatoes by boiling them without skins until soft. Drain them and mash them up in a large bowl, to which you add some butter, a little salt, and milk. Whip it up until it’s light and fluffy. This is to taste, so just add the butter and milk, little by little, until you got what you want. You don’t want potato milk soup!

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet on med-high. Make sure to chop it up good while it’s cooking. Once the meat (or substitute) if fully cooked, drain the excess grease, and then add the salsa (or gluten-free enchilada sauce) and put back over the flame. Find an 8-inch baking pan, or a nice casserole dish. Put the cooked beef/salsa mixture in the bottom of the pan, then add the corn, then the cheese, and then the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle some salt & pepper on top, along with some more cheese and put into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

*Make sure to check out my other gluten free recipes! Look out for upcoming reviews of gluten free products!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

I got the idea for this dish out of a cookbook my good friend Cheryl Vermilya gave to me a while back. The book’s title is “Low Fat Mexican Recipes" and is full of great food! Cheryl and her husband David are great friends of mine who founded and operate a youth center in Camillus, NY called the Town Shop. If you have some time, click on the youth center’s website link right here: Town Shop Youth Center and check the place out. I spent the majority of my teenage years involved there, and loved every minute!

Now back to cooking! You can make stuffed peppers a variety of ways, but you should always look for wide based bell peppers, so that they stand up easier in the baking dish. I suggest using meat in this recipe, but as usual you can substitute meat with seasoned tofu, beans and corn, or whatever you like really. This dish can be made ahead of time as a planned meal with friends, and kept in the fridge for a day or two before the final baking.

Mexican stuffed peppers ingredients

  • 4-8 good sized, wide-bottomed bell peppers (make it colorful if you can!)
  • 1 pound ground beef, or turkey, or beens and corn, or tofu, etc.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3 tblsp diced hot chiles
  • 16 oz. jar enchilada/Mexican sauce (make sure to check those ingredients for evil gluten!)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (chipotle cheddar is choice!)

First you want to get a pot of water boiling, and one that’s big enough to fit all of your bell peppers in. Cut the top of the peppers off and scoop out all the seeds. I often get the strays out by filling the pepper up with water and shaking and pouring them out. Submerge all the peppers (minus the tops) in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Take them out and place open side down on a paper towel to cool.

Keep the water boiling and throw in the cup of uncooked rice. Set the timer for 13 minutes, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

About the same time as you put the peppers in the boiling water, put a skillet on med/high heat and cook up the meat (or meat substitute). Make sure to chop it up real good while it’s cooking. When using meat, you can just use the juices to cook the chopped onions and hot peppers that you’ll be adding once the meat is nearly all browned. If you make this meatless, you’ll need to add a bit of butter or oil. Cook the meat/onion/hot pepper combo till the onions become semi-translucent. Add the Mexican/enchilada sauce, lower the heat to simmer until the rice is done.

Once the 13 minute timer goes off, drain the rice and throw back into the empty pot. Add the them all together in the pot and stir up. Then add your drained, diced tomatoes and any other vegetable or legume you want. Finally add a couple cups of shredded cheese to the mix and stir it all up.

Take the cooled bell peppers and fill them up with the rice/meat mixture and place them open side up in a baking dish. Make sure that they are steady and won’t easily topple over. Top them all off with a little bit more cheese and throw them in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes and you are done. You’ll probably have extra “filling” that can be used in omelets, thrown in corn tortillas for tasty soft tacos, or simply reheated and eaten as is. Enjoy!

Lemon Parmesan Tilapia

This dish is ultra-easy to prepare and make.  In fact, from start to finish, it took me less than 20 minutes.  I had some frozen tilapia fillets that I thawed overnight.  I love cheese, so when I came across this recipe I had to try it out.  After the first bite, I knew this needed to be shared!  I chose to stir fry some french green beans with garlic oil to round out the meal. You're going to love this dish!

Lemon Parmesan Tilapia Ingredients
  • 2-2 1/2 pounds Tilapia fillets
  • 2-3 tsp. softened butter
  • 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice or concentrate (about 2 tsp for concentrate)

Lemon Parmesan Sauce
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise 
  • 2 tblsp. fresh lemon juice (or less for concentrate)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Garnish (optional)
  • fresh lemon slices
  • parsley

Cooking Directions
  • Rinse the tilapia filets in cold water and pat dry with paper towels
  • Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil lightly coated with cooking spray (you don't have to use aluminum foil, but it makes clean-up real easy)
  • Turn on oven to broil 
  • Mix butter and lemon juice together in a small bowl
  • Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese together in a slightly larger bowl
  • Coat the tilapia with the butter/lemon juice mixture and place under broiler. Set timer for 5 minutes
  • When the timer goes off, take out the fillets and coat with the mayo/lemon juice/parmesan cheese mixture
  • Place back under broiler for 3 more minutes (until the surface has a toasted cheese appearance)
  • Take out of broiler and devour!
I've been eating the meal in the picture the whole time I've been writing this blog entry, and ooooweeeeeee is it good! Enjoy!