Category Archives: Kid-Friendly

Apple Pie Spice “Un-Popcorn”

thanksgiving popcornI can’t believe I’ve never managed to share this little gem of a holiday recipe with you. I will admit, I’ve made it several times already. You’ll have to forgive me for not doing so sooner.

You see, typically the Thanksgiving holiday is a whirlwind for me. I’m often working at the ol’ day job up until the Wednesday before, and we usually have around 20+ people to feed. I try to do as much advance preparation as possible, but it’s still a busy, busy holiday.

Let me tell you, when I finally sit down after dinner, the glass of wine I decide to enjoy is often the best glass of wine ever.

Somehow, in that whirlwind, I’ve never made this pre-dinner Thanksgiving snack far enough in advance to share. Well, friends, this year is your lucky year. I’ve made it already, and so I can share it with you.

But why “un-popcorn”?

Truthfully, I love popcorn. I don’t eat it often, but when I do, I thoroughly enjoy it. You can certainly make this with popcorn. But I have some family members that cannot tolerate corn products. For those family members, I have opted to make a popcorn alternative. I promise you, it’s just as satisfying as the real deal. What do I use?

Why, rice cakes, of course!

I’ve done it before, in this “granola“. Crumbled rice cakes make an excellent stand-in for popcorn. They’re light and airy, and hold up perfectly to the caramel-y topping. I’m a big fan of Lundberg’s rice cakes – they’re gluten-free and they have versions that are lightly salted, which are my preference for a recipe such as this. And no, I’m not paid to tell you that – I just like their products.

This “un-popcorn” is easy to make – just crumble rice cakes, and then simmer maple syrup and spices, pour, toss, and bake. The result is a sweet and salty, crunchy mixture that just feels like Thanksgiving, thanks to the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The dried cranberries and walnuts definitely help out that Thanksgiving feel as well. My personal favorite, however, is the black pepper. It’s a perfect foil to the sweeter spices, and keeps it in that “appetizer” category and away from feeling too much like a dessert.

Whether you make this with real popcorn or faux, I encourage you to add this to your Thanksgiving menu. It’ll keep the hungry masses at bay while you make the finishing touches to the big meal, and it’s very more-ish. I’m certain it’ll be a hit that will keep you coming back to it, year after year.

Print Recipe

Apple Pie Spice ”Un-Popcorn” (gluten-free, vegan)

1 package Lundberg lightly salted rice cakes, crumbled

3/4 c chopped walnuts

1/2 c dried cranberries

2 T coconut oil

3/4 c maple syrup

1 t kosher salt

1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground cardamom

1/4 t ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place the oven racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the crumbled rice cakes, walnuts, and dried cranberries and toss.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the coconut oil, maple syrup, and salt to a boil. Add the black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg and whisk in. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 4-5 minutes. Pour over rice cake mixture and stir well, making sure everything is evenly coated.

Divide mixture between the two prepared baking sheets and spread out into an even layer. Bake on the lower and upper racks for 5 minutes, and then swap the baking sheets and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Break into smaller chunks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

Almond-Coconut Granola

almond coconut granolaSchool has been in session for a few months now. Chances are, the kids are tiring of the same ol’ stuff that is being packed in their lunchboxes. Sure, those bags of gluten-free crackers and applesauce cups were exciting in August, but now that it’s November, they’re old hat. You’re in need of something new. Something reasonably healthy. And something you wouldn’t mind packing in your own lunch, because, let’s face it: you’re tired of the same ol’ stuff as well.

Enter homemade gluten-free granola.

This almond-coconut granola is unlike most granola recipes. First of all, there are no oats. There’s also no butter or oil either. It’s supremely easy to make – simply mix up the ingredients, spread out on a baking sheet, and bake for a few minutes. And the results far outweigh the effort involved. You are rewarded with a slightly sweet, crunchy mix filled with almond-y, coconut-y goodness. It’s perfect for snacking, or for topping yogurt or even making a parfait. I personally have never gotten past eating it straight out of hand. It’s also nearly gone in just a few days every time I make it. It’s very more-ish. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Print Recipe

Almond Coconut Granola (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free)

 1 1/3 cups almonds, toasted and chopped

1 brown rice cake, crumbled (equals about ½ cup) (I used Lundberg rice cakes)

1/8 teaspoon salt

¼ cup chopped pitted dates

¼ cup large unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1/3 cup brown rice syrup (I used Lundberg brown rice syrup)

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

 Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, add almonds, brown rice cake crumbles, salt, dates, coconut flakes, and chia seeds. Pour brown rice syrup, almond and coconut extracts over and toss to combine everything and get everything coated evenly with the syrup.

 Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Spread mixture out on the baking sheet evenly. Bake for 15-18 minutes, stopping to stir every 5 minutes or so, to ensure even cooking. Allow to cool to room temperature and store in an air-tight container.

Chicken Tomatillo Chili

I can’t stand soup when it’s hot outside. I often see coworkers enjoying soup for lunch all the year round, and I’m sweating just thinking about it if the temp outside is above about 75 degrees. (But I’ll drink hot coffee on an August morning, unless I’ve made cold brew coffee the night before. I’m weird, I know.) But now that it’s cooler, I’ve been incorporating more soups again.

I am the biggest fan of a soup that satisfies as a meal. Sure, simple starter soups are delicious, but I still have to make something else to accompany them. A stew or chili is substantial. Filling. I can also freeze leftovers and have soup ready for me to grab and take to the office for lunch. This chicken tomatillo chili not only meets these requirements, it’s also a budget stretcher, thanks to the beans. It’s a big bowl of comforting, warming, hearty deliciousness.

Chicken Tomatillo Chili (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 lb tomatillos, cut in half

2 medium yellow onions, sliced

6 garlic cloves, peeled

2 Hatch (similar to Anaheim or Big Jim) chiles (you can also substitute other fresh chiles, just mind the heat and adjust accordingly)

1 14-oz can whole tomatoes

1 3 ½ lb chicken, cut into pieces, breasts removed and set aside

6 c water

2 t ground cumin

1 t ground coriander

1 t dried oregano

2 t chipotle chile powder

1 t smoked paprika

1 t salt

¼ t black pepper

2 ½ c cooked black beans (or 2 cans, drained)

2 ½ c cooked white beans (or 2 cans, drained)

2 ½ c cooked pinto beans (or 2 cans, drained)

½ c chopped cilantro

Preheat broiler. Place tomatillos, sliced onions, garlic cloves, and chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for 5-7 minutes or until the skins of the tomatillos and chiles are blackened. Remove from broiler and allow to cool. Peel the skins from the chiles, and remove the stems and seeds. (It’s a good idea to do this with disposable [non-latex if you have a latex allergy] gloves on.) Place tomatillos, onions, garlic, chiles, and the can of whole tomatoes (with the juice) in a large soup pot. Add the chicken pieces (reserving the breasts) and the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and simmer for 20 minutes longer.

Using tongs, remove all of the chicken and place on a platter to allow to cool. Meanwhile, add the cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle chile powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to the pot and puree the broth and vegetables using a stick blender, or a regular blender in batches. Add the beans.

Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove the meat and shred with your fingers, and place back into the pot with the beans. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until flavors meld. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Serves 8-10.

Skillet Cornbread

That first cool breeze. That first day where the temps don’t reach 70 degrees. When we can open the windows and breathe a sigh of relief. The heat is finally over. That’s when my husband and I give each other knowing looks: it’s CHILI time!

I love to make a big pot of Texas Red chili. It’s spicy, hearty, and so satisfying. It takes the better part of a day to make, but what better way to pass Sunday afternoon then to have a pot simmering on the stove, with football on TV, while the cool autumn breeze blows in? I have one idea:

Make cornbread to go with the chili.

I am a huge fan of cornbread, but I’m kind of picky about it. It needs to be slightly sweet, and it must not be dry. This skillet cornbread fits those requirements perfectly. It’s moist, subtly sweetened with honey, and has these lovely crispy edges from the skillet that are delightful. Sure, you can stir in some whole corn kernels, jalapenos, cheese, or whatever you fancy, but it’s wonderful just as is.

Especially when sitting alongside that bowl of Texas Red.

Skillet Cornbread (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 c gluten-free cornmeal

2/3 c tapioca flour

1 t kosher salt

1 T baking powder

Juice of 1 lemon

About 7/8 c coconut milk

½ c water

1 egg

2 T honey

½ t baking soda

6 T vegan butter (Earth Balance buttery sticks)

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine cornmeal, tapioca flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk together.

Add the lemon juice to a measuring cup and pour enough coconut milk to measure 1 full cup. Add ½ cup of water, the egg, and the honey. Whisk together. Add the baking soda and whisk again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk together until combined.

Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add vegan butter and swirl until melted. Brush butter along sides of skillet. Carefully pour the butter into the bowl with the cornbread batter and whisk to combine. Pour the batter into the skillet and spread out evenly on the surface.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve in wedges, warm from the skillet.

Serves about 8.

Coconut Oil Kettle Corn

There are just a few days left for the State Fair of Texas. We actually visited this year – the first time I’ve been since I was a kid. It was fun – lots of things to see and do, and of course, tons of food to eat. Way more than anyone could possibly eat, much less afford. And if you’re following a gluten-free diet, there isn’t much that’s safe.

Good thing you can make a standard fair favorite at home! No, not Fried Thanksgiving Dinner (although that might be possible…). I’m talking about Kettle Corn – that deliciously salty-sweet, crunchy treat that’s so irresistible when fresh.

Sure, you can buy microwave kettle corn at the store, but it’s just not all that good. This version takes only the smallest additional effort, and it’s so worth it. Just a few ingredients in a pot, a few minutes over the stove, and a quick toss in a bowl, and you have a treat that will definitely be a favorite among kids and adults alike. It’s also an excellent, simple addition for a Halloween party snack table.

You could also fancy it up any number of ways. Toss a pinch or two of cayenne in, or cinnamon. Add peanuts or candy once you get to the stirring phase. I’d be happy with any of those variations – but the simple, basic recipe is always enough to make me happy. I’m sure you could also store the leftovers for the following day with ease, although I personally wouldn’t know. There’s never any leftovers to be had.

Print Recipe

Coconut Oil Kettle Corn (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

3 T coconut oil (I used unrefined coconut oil)

1/2 c organic, non-GMO popcorn kernels

1/4 c granulated sugar

3/4 t kosher salt

In a 3-quart saucepan with a lid, add coconut oil, popcorn kernels, and sugar. Turn on to medium heat. Stir with a spoon until sugar and coconut oil starts to melt just a bit. Once everything starts to heat up, cover the pot and shake intermittently, popping the corn, until the popping slows to 5 seconds between pops. Remove the popcorn from heat and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Immediately sprinkle the salt over and stir to coat the popcorn a bit more evenly with the melted sugar and salt. Serve.

Serves 2-4.

Pumpkin Hemp Oatmeal Cookies

Thanks to all of you for your support on my most recent post. While I always want to be transparent no matter what, it’s inspiring to hear your words of encouragement. It means a lot to me. You all rock!

Now, I mentioned cookies in that post. I figured I ought to make good on that promise.

I waited until October to post something pumpkin; are you proud of me? But from now until say, February, all bets are off. I’m an intense fan of all things winter squash and pumpkin. Butternut, acorn squash, banana squash, spaghetti squash, delicate, cushaw, and so many more – I love them all. I’ll try to moderate my squash recipes around here, but don’t worry. You’ll still get the good ones.

With that, let the pumpkin fiesta begin!

The first great pumpkin treat to come out of my kitchen this fall are these cookies. They’re kinda hippie (in my mind, hemp seeds = hippie) healthy. Not overly so, (they’re still classified as cookies and all) but in my mind, they feel that way because they’re full of good stuff like pumpkin (beta-carotene and fiber), hemp seeds (fiber, protein, ALA), and oats (fiber, magnesium, zinc). They aren’t overly sweet, but instead are more of a homestyle, hearty little autumn treat. Moderate sweetness is something I actually prefer when making oatmeal cookies, and besides, my hubby prefers my less-sweet treats. He approves of these.

You can use canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin puree, or even other winter squash purees (I often love to use butternut instead of pumpkin). I opted to use a commercial gluten-free flour blend here (something I don’t use often in my recipes) – one that’s probably my favorite quick-and-easy blend. You can certainly use another brand if you wish, or even substitute a combination of gluten-free flours. Just be sure you add about a quarter teaspoon of xanthan gum if you do so (or if your blend doesn’t have it already). For a sweeter touch, chocolate chips would also be welcome here. Truth is, these cookies are endlessly versatile.

Won’t you join me in my all-things-pumpkin-a-thon?

Print Recipe

Pumpkin Hemp Oatmeal Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free)

3 T coconut oil, liquefied

1 c + 2 T granulated sugar

1/3 c pumpkin puree (you can substitute butternut puree or another winter squash)

1 egg

1 t vanilla extract

1 c + 2 T gluten-free flour blend (I used Better Batter)

1/4 t xanthan gum (ONLY if your blend doesn’t have it included)

1/4 t salt

1 t cinnamon

1/4 t ground ginger

1/4 t allspice

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 c hemp seeds

1 c gluten-free oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the coconut oil and sugar until well-blended. Add the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla and beat again until creamy and uniform.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour blend, salt, and spices. Add the flour mix to the liquid mixture and beat, stopping to scrape down sides, until well-mixed. Add the hemp seeds and oats and mix in until even.

Scoop dough into balls (about 1 1/2 tablespoon in size) and place on baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart. Flatten cookies down with the back of a spoon or your hand until cookies are about 1/2 inch thick. (It helps to lightly oil the spoon or your hand so the dough doesn’t stick.) Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden on the bottom and edges.

Allow to cool on a rack.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Homestyle Meatloaf

Meatloaf. It’s one of those polarizing meals, it seems. Most people either hate it or love it. Personally, I think that has a lot to do with what meatloaf you grew up eating – some people had some unappetizing versions that haunt them forever. (Or maybe it was those bad memories of the song “I Would Do Anything For Love” that’s so haunting?)  In my mind, though, there is only the ultimate comfort food version of meatloaf, packed full of flavor, warming, and the perfect neighbor to a big pile of mashed potatoes on your plate.

My Mom wasn’t a great cook, but she had a few dishes she made that were definitely family favorites. Her meatloaf evokes fond memories for me. While my version is likely quite a bit different than hers, one thing remains a constant – the ketchup topping. I’ve opted instead to use a corn syrup free version – and sometimes might even make my own – but it’s still ketchup. Sure, there are more refined ways to top a meatloaf. But in my opinion, meatloaf isn’t about refinement. It’s about comfort. And by the way my family manages to devour the entire pan, I’d say comfort wins.

Homestyle Meatloaf (grain-free, dairy-free)

1 small onion

1 celery stalk

3 cloves garlic

1 carrot, peeled

1 T olive oil

1/2 lb spicy ground pork sausage

1 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork (or another pound of ground beef)

1 egg plus 1 T chia meal

¾ c almond flour (can substitute gluten-free breadcrumbs or oats)

1 t kosher salt

1 ½ t freshly ground black pepper

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped (1 t)

2-3 leaves fresh sage, leaves chopped (1 t)

1/3 c minced fresh parsley leaves

2 tsp plus 1 dash Worcestershire sauce

1/3 c ketchup (I like to use either Annie’s or Organicville, or sometimes even make my own)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 Cut onion, celery rib, garlic, and carrot into large pieces. Place in a food processor and blitz until the vegetables resemble a coarse paste.

 In large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add vegetable mixture and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

 In a large bowl, combine the sausage, ground beef, ground pork, eggs and chia seed meal, almond flour, vegetable mixture, salt, pepper, herbs, and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire. Form into a loaf and put into loaf pan. Mix remaining ketchup with dash of Worcestershire sauce, and cover loaf with sauce.

 Bake loaf for one hour.

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.