Monthly Archives: August 2013

Sriracha-Lime Grilled Okra

 

In late Texas summers, when it’s been hot and dry for weeks on end and the tomatoes and strawberries have long wilted under the sun, what’s still growing without fail? Okra.

And boy, how does it grow!? I just have a modest number of plants, but I go outside every afternoon to water, and find a handful of pods ready to be picked. It seems they appear almost overnight. A bud one day, a 3-inch okra pod the next. Not that I’m complaining. It gives me plenty to pickle, share with friends, and eat in all sorts of ways.

This time, I opted for grilled.

Grilling okra is a speedy way to get flavor into this unique veggie without making it slimy – a texture that often is off-putting to okra critics. It takes just a few minutes to do, and with a simple sauce brushed over, it’s divine. Especially when that sauce involves Sriracha.

If you have not become acquainted with the wonders of Sriracha sauce, I highly encourage you to seek it out. I’m not often a big proponent of store-bought sauces, but this is definitely an exception. It’s spicy and adds that perfect punch to just about anything – scrambled eggs, fried rice, and of course, pho. I’ve always wanted to make my own – one day I will – but until then, it’s the “rooster” sauce for me. Combined with lime and ghee in this quick sauce, it’s a bold wake-up for your taste buds, which pairs perfectly with mild okra. It’s quickly becoming my go-to way to prepare it.

Print Recipe

Sriracha-Lime Grilled Okra (gluten-free, casein-free)

About 20 tender pods okra

1 T Sriracha

Zest of 1 lime (about 1 teaspoon)

Juice of 1 lime (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

1 T ghee, melted (can substitute vegan butter or coconut oil for dairy-free/vegan)

Salt to taste

Heat a grill to medium heat. Skewer the okra pods so that there is a little space in between each pod. In a small bowl, whisk together the Sriracha, lime zest, lime juice, and ghee. When the grill is hot, place the okra on the grill. Brush one side with the Sriracha mixture. Allow to grill until lightly browned/blackened in spots, about 1-2 minutes. Turn over and brush other side. Grill another 2 minutes or until browned and the okra pods are softened/tender. Flip once more and brush any remaining sauce over. Remove, salt to taste and serve hot.

Serves 2-3.

Gluten-Free on a Budget: LIVE CHAT Thursday, Aug 29 @ 8PM Eastern

Gluten-free living doesn’t have to be expensive! Join us on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 8PM Eastern over at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community to discuss ways to save money while eating gluten-free. To sweeten the savings, we’ll be giving away several prize packs of Udi’s Gluten-Free goodies as well!

Hope to see you there!

Cucumber Salad with Tahini and Basil

My ridiculously successful cucumber season is coming to a close. I’ve eaten more cucumbers this summer than ever, and have given many away. But even still, I haven’t tired of them. I truly love cucumbers. And this year, thanks to the slightly lower temps (our usual never-ending stretch of triple digits only amounted to about two weeks so far), I’ve been able to grow cucumbers well into August. It also helps that I’ve been growing Armenian cucumbers – they seem to enjoy the heat. I will be a bit sad when they’re gone.

Before I am out of cucumbers, however, I wanted to make another unique cucumber salad. While most of my cucumbers have gone into light, refreshing salads (like this Watermelon Cucumber Salad), I wanted something creamy and a touch more substantial, but still cool and dairy-free.

Enter tahini.

I love tahini, but typically use it up making copious amounts of baba ganoush. Truth be told, the flavors in my baba ganoush were the inspiration for this salad. Tahini, lemon, garlic, and my favorite additions of cumin and smoked paprika were all at play here. But instead of my usual parsley, I swapped it out for basil. After all, that’s an herb that is also quite successful in my garden.

What resulted was a quick and easy salad that would pair perfectly with grilled chicken, some kabobs, or whatever you’d like to make for an upcoming Labor Day barbecue or picnic. It’s delicious even made a few hours in advance, and is allergy-friendly, so everyone can partake. Before summer is over for good, I highly suggest you find a reason to make this! It’s delightfully different.

Print Recipe

Cucumber Salad with Tahini and Basil (gluten-free, vegan)

About 1 lb cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2 t kosher salt

3 T tahini

1 t lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

2 T lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1/2 garlic clove, minced

1/4 t ground cumin

Pinch or two of smoked paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

3 T chopped fresh basil

Place the cucumber in a colander and toss with the salt. Allow to sit in the sink and drain while you prepare the dressing.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.

Rinse the cucumbers and allow to drain again. In a large bowl, stir together the cucumbers and tahini dressing until evenly coated. Add in the basil and stir again.

Serves 4.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Squares

I’ve been thinking lately about how we are all in back-to-school mode. I’ve been browsing a bunch of lunchbox recipes on Pinterest lately. My step-kids don’t live with us, and so I don’t get to experience that fun/stress, but I can certainly empathize. Heck, it’s tough enough just packing my own lunch every day!

What I am good at, however, is coming up with an after-school treat. Most of the time, it would be something nutritious, like apples and peanut butter, dehydrated apple slices, some cut up raw veggies and a tasty dip, or even a trail mix. But sometimes, it’s fun to have a real treat. You know, something with chocolate.

Of course, the presence of children is not a requirement to make these. They’re equally satisfying for those of us wishing to speak to our inner child. Or inner peanut butter and chocoholic. Whatever.

They’re a cinch to make – not much more difficult than a rice crispy treat, really. There’s no baking required, making them perfect for late summer, when it’s still too hot to turn the oven on. Just a little stovetop magic, and a brief nap in the fridge, and they’re ready to impress a crowd with their crispy combo of sweet and salty peanut butter and rich chocolate.

Print Recipe

Peanut Butter Chocolate Crispy Squares (gluten-free, dairy-free)

6 c rice Chex (you could substitute gluten-free crispy rice cereal)

1 c agave nectar

1 c coconut palm sugar (you could substitute cane sugar)

1 1/2 c natural peanut butter

A pinch or two of salt (depending on how salty your peanut butter is)

3 c semi-sweet dairy-free chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is a dairy-free brand)

Lightly oil a large bowl and pour the cereal in. Oil a 9 X 13 inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the agave nectar and coconut sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring, just until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and salt until smooth.

Immediately pour this mixture over the cereal and stir in until evenly distributed. Transfer this into the prepared baking dish, pressing out evenly with the back of a spoon.

In a bowl set over a small saucepan filled with an inch or two of simmering water (or a double boiler), place the chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until melted. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the top of the peanut butter-Chex bars. Place baking dish into refrigerator for an hour or until everything has cooled completely. Cut into squares.

Makes 40-60 bars, depending on how large you cut them.

What gluten-free after school treats do you like to have handy for when the kids come home hungry? Share at Udi’s Gluten-Free Living Community!

Blueberry Syrup at The Balanced Platter

Today over at The Balanced Platter, I’m sharing an easy recipe to make blueberry syrup. It’s a delicious way to save some of summer’s best for the non-blueberry months of the year. Head on over and check it out!

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Basil

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen my cucumbers. I’m growing Armenian cucumbers for the first time, and boy, are these things prolific. I love them. They seem to enjoy this Texas heat – they’re never bitter no matter how hot it gets. They are more mild than a typical cucumber, and ever-so-slightly sweet. But they certainly take over. I planted them in a 4 foot square raised bed, and they’ve filled that bed entirely, climbing up and over the trellis, nearly filling the neighboring bed and a good bit of the lawn all around. But because of their ease to grow, I’m definitely growing them again next year.

Meanwhile, however, I am accumulating cucumbers like nobody’s business. I’ve brought them to work and dumped them off on coworkers. I’ve given a few to my husband’s coworkers. People that show up at my house go home with at least one. I’ve even brought them to my soccer games, donating them to anyone who wants them. I’ve juiced them in my green juices. I’ve snacked on them, eating as much as I can handle. I love cucumbers. But even I can’t keep up – I still have two, each about 18 inches long, in the fridge right now. Good thing I also have watermelon – because that means this salad can be made.

This is one of the easiest salads I’ve made in a while. It’s only 5 ingredients. It’s lovely just snacked on by itself (which is what I did), or enjoyed along grilled chicken or fish. I love the perfectly refreshing combination of cucumber and watermelon, highlighted by the punch of basil. It’s bright and cool and the epitome of summer.

But seeing as how I’m still growing cucumbers, I think I’ll need more watermelon.

Print Recipe

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad with Basil (gluten-free, vegan)

3 c cubed seedless watermelon

1 1/2 c thinly sliced cucumber (if you don’t have Armenian cukes, English cucumbers will do)

1 T chopped fresh basil

2 t lemon juice

About 1/4 t kosher salt

In a large bowl, toss the watermelon, cucumber and basil with lemon juice and salt. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Cold Brew Iced Coffee


This isn’t really a planned post, but I thought maybe I shouldn’t keep the amazingness all to myself. So you’ll have to be satisfied with an iPhone photo over something that comes from my DSLR. I’m sure you’ll let it slide…this time. Right?

I have recently learned the ways of cold brew coffee. And my friends, it is truly amazing.

Normally, I drink my coffee black. And hot. I tend to be a coffee snob, buying high-quality beans (and if I can find them locally roasted, even better) as much as I possibly can. When you drink coffee black, the taste of the bean is something you can’t compromise on. There’s no sugar or cream to hide the flavor. At least, that’s my opinion.

Of course, then I break all those rules by drinking coffee at the bowling alley where my hubby and I spend Sunday mornings together, and it’s cheap, mediocre coffee. But hey. I gotta keep my coffee snob level down to a minimum as much as possible, right?

Now, the whole game changed when I decided to try to cold brew my coffee. The flavor of the coffee is different. I’m using the same beans, but it’s a totally different experience. It’s smoother. Less acidic. And because of that, you pick up different notes in the coffee that you wouldn’t taste if it were brewed hot. Not to mention the fact that it’s iced makes it infinitely more refreshing. Especially on mornings when the thermometer already reads 80 degrees F when I wake up. And while I have no idea if this method makes for a more highly caffeinated cup of coffee, it sure seems that way – it’s a welcome jolt for my drive into work!

What makes this even more appealing? It’s not any harder to do than brewing regular coffee. You stick coffee grounds and water in the fridge the night before, and the next morning, you filter it. That’s it. If you have a French press, you can do this easily. I don’t, so I throw my grounds and water in a quart-sized jar, and then strain through a fine-meshed strainer with a coffee filter lining it. Easy peasy.

I prefer mine with a splash of coconut milk and a smaller splash of maple syrup. Not a lot of either, as I really still want to taste the coffee itself. While I’m fine without cream or sugar in a hot cup of coffee, I really enjoy that little extra in my iced coffee. It’s a divine way to start the morning.

Print Recipe

Cold Brew Iced Coffee (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

3/4 – 1 cup coffee grounds (I prefer closer to a cup, as I like my coffee strong)

3 1/2 cups water

Coconut milk, maple syrup, and ice, for serving

Place coffee grounds and water in a French press or a quart-sized jar, making sure the grounds get submerged into the water. (I shake my jar a bit.) Place in refrigerator overnight.

The following morning, push down the plunger on the French press, and your coffee is ready. If you used a jar, then place a fine-meshed strainer over a large measuring cup and line with a coffee filter (this is optional – if you don’t mind a rogue coffee ground getting in your coffee, you can skip). Pour the coffee through the strainer/filter. You may have to stop and allow it to drip through, so doing this in stages may be needed.

To serve your iced coffee, divide into two 16 oz mason jars (or similarly sized glasses). Stir in a desired amount of coconut milk and maple syrup. (For me personally, this is about 1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut milk and about 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.) Add ice, and enjoy.

Makes 2 servings.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

I love watermelon. I mean, who doesn’t? It’s cool, refreshing, and just screams summer. In fact, I love it so much that I am attempting to grow my own for the first time this year. I planted several starter plants in the spring, and watched as they grew and spread their vines ALL OVER my backyard. Seriously. It’s like a jungle back there, between the watermelon vines and cucumber vines. In spite of the fact that I’ve planted these in raised beds, they have overflowed and are taking over the lawn, making it so it’s impossible to mow in those areas.

Oh well. The things I do for yummy eats.

My real trouble is – I’m inexperienced in the watermelon-growing department. I have lots of watermelon babies. They’re growing (well, most of them – I had a few not make it past the softball stage and they went south…), but it seems to take forever. And as it turns out, it’s hard to tell when a watermelon is ripe to pick. In fact, I was eyeing the largest one with suspicion for a while, trying to decide when the time was right. I thumped it, listening for that “hollow” sound. Except every time I thump any watermelon, it always sounds hollow. Apparently I’m not good at hearing the ripeness. So I did more research, and found that once it ceases to grow larger, that’s another indicator. This one seemed to stop growing. Then I looked at the bottom, where the white spot is, and looked for yellow/cream color. I thought it was yellow enough, so I thought I was good to go. Hesitating a bit, I cut it.

Ta da, my first melon!

Only when I cut into it, it wasn’t ripe. It was slightly pink in the center, but definitely needed more time. Sigh. So what’s a girl to do when she’s killed off her first watermelon?

Make the most of it – use the rind for pickling!

I’ve never had or made pickled watermelon rind, but it’s something that’s always intrigued me. I mean, why not make the most of every part of summer’s favorite fruit? And I love just about anything pickled. So I gave it a go.

What resulted was something completely different than what I imagined. It’s sweet-tart, with lovely spice notes, reminiscent of the holidays somewhat. But it’s also amazing with smoked meats, making it a perfect compliment to summer barbecue. Mind you, you don’t need an unripe watermelon to make them either – the rind of any watermelon will work splendidly. Just peel the outer rind (this is easily accomplished just with a knife – just cut it away. No need to try to use some potato peeler, which seems more difficult than it should be.) and pickle away!

Watermelon Rind Pickles (gluten-free, vegan)

2 lbs peeled watermelon rind, cut into 1″ square pieces

3 c sugar (I have not experimented with alternative sweeteners, but I imagine a lesser amount of honey or agave might work)

1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar

3 whole cloves

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

Pinch or two of salt

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add the rind. Bring to medium-low heat and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain and place the watermelon rinds into glass jars (I used 3 16 oz canning jars). Add sugar, vinegar, cloves, star anise, cinnamon and salt to the same saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the rinds into the jars. Seal jars with lids and allow to cool. Chill and store in refrigerator.