Category Archives: Side Dishes

Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free and Vegan)

The other day, I was ironing out holiday plans with my sister and parents. It was determined that the only time we could all get together for Christmas was in the morning, so we decided on a brunch. At the time, the only thing I knew I’d be serving would be a nice ham, and some sort of baked egg dish (I’ve since determined we’ll enjoy a variation on this frittata). When I called my mom to discuss plans and mentioned ham, she suggested scalloped potatoes.

It sounded delicious – ham with scalloped potatoes. But I felt a twinge of heartache as I envisioned the creamy, cheesy scalloped potatoes I was accustomed to; after all, I wouldn’t be able to indulge. (Yes, that might be a touch self-centered, but I’m being honest here.) And those dairy-free cheeses (such as Daiya), while I enjoy them, don’t fool the rest of the cheese-eating members of my family. I started to go down the path to decide whether to make it and just not eat (after all, there would be plenty of other safe things for me to eat), or to make something else. Then, I thought, what if I could find another way to make dairy-free scalloped potatoes?

And just like that, I was researching.

I browsed what seemed to be a hearty handful of recipes, no two of which were alike. (Except for, you know, the potato part.) I considered the flavor combinations that were used, and started to formulate a recipe that was unique to my own tastes. I wanted creamy and decadent, but didn’t want it to taste like “fake” dairy. I wanted it to be so flavorful that no one would wonder where the cheese was.

I think I’ve accomplished that goal. These scalloped potatoes are decadent. Creamy. Golden brown on top. Rich and full of flavor. You might even think that they’re better than the traditional version, finding ways to sneak just one more bite. I hope so. I hope these potatoes steal the show at your next meal, as I’m afraid hoping they might just do that for me.

Scalloped Potatoes (Gluten-Free, Vegan)

About 3 lbs gold potatoes (Yukon Gold works well) peeled and sliced thin ( I used a mandoline)

1 c coconut milk

1 c vegetable broth (chicken broth can be used)

2 T vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)

2 T arrowroot starch

2 T sweet white rice flour

2 T nutritional yeast flakes

½ t onion powder

¼ t garlic powder

½ t dry mustard powder

¼ t white pepper

¼ t nutmeg

3 T mayonnaise (vegan mayonnaise to keep it vegan; regular can be substituted)

¼ c white wine

1 T lemon juice

Salt to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish and set aside. (I used a dish that was 7X11 inches.)

Combine potatoes, coconut milk and broth in a saucepan. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving milk mixture. (Use a sieve and a bowl underneath to catch the milk.)

Clean out saucepan and add vegan butter. Melt over medium heat and add in arrowroot starch and sweet white rice flour, whisking for 30 seconds or so, to cook the flour. Add back the milk mixture, the nutritional yeast flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, pepper, nutmeg, mayonnaise, and white wine. Continue to whisk until smooth. Continue heating
and whisking until thickened. Remove from heat.

Layer about half of the potatoes in the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Pour half of the sauce over this layer. Press down the
potatoes to make sure the sauce covers them all around. Add the remaining potatoes and pour the rest of the sauce over the top. Press again to ensure the sauce covers the potatoes.

Bake for an hour or until potatoes are browned on top and tender throughout. Serves 8.

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at Gluten-Free Homemaker and Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.


Looking for other gluten-free holiday dish ideas? Check out this discussion over at the Udi’s Gluten-Free Community!

Menu Plan for October 17-21 and Maple Sweet Potato Puree

Is it Monday again already? The weekend flew by, as they usually do. I actually am together enough this Monday morning to share a menu plan with you!

A little caveat – while I do create a menu every weekend and plan my grocery shopping around it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m married to that plan. Things come up (both good and bad) that prevent me from preparing dinner on a certain night. Sometimes, I’m just plain too tired to attack a complicated meal. (This is why I often incorporate easy meals into the menu, so I can rely on those meals when I know I’m not going to have the energy to tackle a new recipe or a dish that takes a lot of steps.) I’m fine with not sticking to my plan 100%. What my menu plan does accomplish for me, however, is peace of mind. Peace of mind knowing that I don’t have to wonder what to make for dinner, peace of mind knowing I’ve (usually) purchased the required grocery items to make said dinner, and peace of mind knowing we are getting a healthy, balanced meal most of the time. I suppose it’s my way of establishing some sense of control over what can otherwise become an overwhelming, chaotic event that for a lot of people, results in grabbing take-out or processed foods.


Breakfast: salmon and baby carrots

Lunch: leftover cabbage from dinner last night, a Tanka bar, almond butter (As I was writing this, I realized that the leftover chicken I’d packed for today is really too old to be safe to eat – it’s from last Tuesday. Whoops. Major fail on my part. Good thing I have some snacks in my desk for emergencies, or I’d be only eating cabbage for lunch!)

Dinner: lamb chops, acorn squash, garden salad


Breakfast: hard-boiled eggs, apple

Lunch: salmon and steamed kale

Dinner: out or leftovers – I have two soccer games


Breakfast: green smoothie with kabocha, spinach, protein powder, and pumpkin pie spices

Lunch: chili (there is some stashed in the freezer!)

Dinner: crustless chicken “pot pie”, sauteed okra


Breakfast: hard-boiled eggs, possibly cauliflower rice pudding, if I get time to make it

Lunch: leftover chicken “pot pie” and okra

Dinner: steak, sweet potato puree (see below!), broccoli


Breakfast: hard-boiled eggs, apple with almond butter

Lunch: sardines with celery, leftover broccoli

Dinner: meatballs with spaghetti squash (GF pasta for the kids and hubby)

 And now, on to the maple sweet potato puree.

Sweet potato puree is one of my favorite “go-to” side dishes. It’s easy, and my husband and I love it. We’re both huge sweet potato fans, and this is a great way to enjoy them. With a little drizzle of maple syrup, they are sure to make a meal seem special. The best part? I cook them in the microwave!

I’m honestly not much of a microwave “cooker”. I use the microwave to reheat foods and to heat water for herbal tea. During the fall, I also use it to easily “roast” pumpkins and spaghetti squash (that’s a topic for another post!), but honestly, that’s about it. Except when it comes to sweet potato puree. Microwaving the sweet potatoes speeds up the whole process, and since I am pureeing the flesh anyway, it doesn’t deter from the flavor one bit. (In fact, it results in a creamier puree than if I was to boil cubes of sweet potato, since there isn’t additional water in it.) Now that I’ve started making this using the microwave, I don’t think I’ll go back to the slower, more dirty-dish-making method.

Maple Sweet Potato Puree

5 medium-sized sweet potatoes

2 T maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Using a fork, poke holes in each of the sweet potatoes 4-5 times. Place the sweet potatoes in the microwave on top of a plate or paper towels. Microwave for about 12 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft when squeezed. (Squeeze carefully – don’t burn yourself!) Remove and set aside for a few minutes, until they are cool enough to handle.

Get your food processor ready with the metal “S” blade. As soon as you can handle the sweet potatoes, cut open the skin and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Place the flesh in the food processor. Drizzle syrup over, and turn on the food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. The sweet potato puree should still be hot enough to serve, but if it’s not, you can place it in a small saucepan and heat it over low heat on the stovetop.

If desired, drizzle additional maple syrup over each serving. We don’t usually do this, but it sure makes the photo look more drool-worthy! Serves 4.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Green Beans with Smoky Pecans

Wow, it’s been a week since I’ve posted anything on this lil’ ol’ blog. It’s not because I don’t love you. I do. I think life just got in the way a bit. And that’s not always a bad thing.

This past weekend was busy, as always, and I spent a good deal of time in the kitchen…as always. When I wasn’t in the kitchen, I was spending time with the kids, and enjoying some time with my husband, celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary. However, when I was in the kitchen, the kitchen adventures were not blog-worthy. I made a chicken and sausage stew that was just mediocre. I scrambled eggs, sauteed zucchini, and fried some bacon for Sunday breakfast. I attempted a grain-free carrot cake, but wanted to make it in layers. I should have lined the pans (even though I greased them) with parchment, because they stuck, and came out in quite a few pieces. It was a promising start, however, because those crumbled bits did taste pretty good. Hopefully I’ll have a successful version soon, but until then…

Here are some green beans.

While that sounds like the consolation prize of the year, let me assure you – these are anything but consolation-prize green beans. They are definitely more than the sum of their parts. Something magical happens when smoked paprika enters the picture. It’s one of my favorite spices – a little bit adds a wonderful depth and interest to a dish without overwhelming. Paired with the fresh green beans, nutty pecans, and just a touch of oil, smoked paprika welcomes the cooler temperatures and heartier flavors of fall. It’s becoming a mainstream spice, and I’ve found it at just about any well-stocked grocery.

What I love most about this, however, is its simplicity. During the week, my days are pretty full. The alarm goes off before 5:00 AM, and I’m up. I squeeze in a quick workout, and I’m out the door to work by 6:30-6:45, so I can try to beat some of the traffic and get to the office in under an hour (my commute is over 30 miles each way). I get home around 5:45 PM, and by then, I’m beat. Most of the time, the creative juices just aren’t flowing, and I am ready to figure out the quickest way to get dinner on the table. This is where simplicity is king. Unfortunately, that often means my side dishes and vegetables are nearly afterthoughts – I simply steam fresh vegetables and season with salt and pepper. While I love steamed fresh veggies, especially broccoli and asparagus, adding an ingredient or two makes a big difference without actually adding a lot of effort. Such was the case with these green beans – opting to toss with coconut oil and these spiced pecans made the green beans seem special.

In fact, they seemed special enough to serve company, or even at a holiday dinner. In fact, I would love to serve these at Thanksgiving, come to think of it. I’ll have to keep that in mind as time draws nearer.

Until then, I urge you to make these green beans.


Green Beans with Smoky Pecans

¼ c chopped pecans

1/8 t smoked paprika

1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed

1 t coconut oil

Salt to taste


Heat a small skillet to medium heat. Add pecans and toast, tossing/stirring regularly, for a few minutes. (Make sure you don’t walk away – the nuts can burn quickly!) Remove and toss with the smoked paprika and set aside.

Set up a medium saucepan with a steamer insert. Steam green beans until crisp-tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from steamer. Toss hot green beans with coconut oil. Season to taste with salt and toss in pecans.

Serves 4.

Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger: Lexie’s Kitchen

gluten, dairy, and egg-free fried green tomatoes

Sea at Book of Yum is our most gracious hostess for Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger again this month. I immediately knew I wanted to adopt Lexie’s Kitchen. Why? Well, other than the fact that Alexa is a super-cool mom dedicated to healing her son through a diet, she also is an innovative genius in the kitchen.

Example A: she made nacho cheese-stuffed jalapenos without dairy. Yep. I actually made these prior to adopting Alexa, and I didn’t take a photo, unfortunately. The nacho cheese was the best dairy-free cheese I’ve had to date. I MUST make it again. And the jalapeno poppers? Spicy (I must have had some HOT peppers), but amazing. If you make them, don’t skip the bacon. It definitely takes those little bites of fire to a whole ‘nuther level.

If that doesn’t convince you, how about example B: the fried green tomatoes pictured above. These were perfectly timed, as I saw a bunch of green tomatoes at the farmer’s market. Until making Alexa’s recipe, I had not attempted to fry green tomatoes since I went gluten-free, and never without cornmeal. Trust me, you don’t miss the cornmeal in these babies. They’re crispy on the outside, and pleasantly juicy within.

But just those two appetizers weren’t enough, in my opinion. In keeping with the seasons, I opted to try a version of her sausage and seasonal vegetable stuffed squash. I found large pattypan squash at the farmers market, so I opted to use them rather than delicata squash. Unfortunately, I had to make a few more unplanned changes to my stuffing mixture – I went to use the rest of some italian sausage I had in the refrigerator, and it was bad. Into the garbage it went, and I opted instead to make my stuffing vegan. I bumped up the spices a bit to compensate.

These babies were flavorful just the same. Soon, however, I’ll have to grab some delicata squash and some fresh sausage and try Alexa’s version again.

I didn’t get a chance to make these st(raw)berry cheesecakes, but they’re also on my “to do” list. Because who doesn’t love mini healthy cheesecakes?

Her blog is helpful for other areas of life as well. For example, she teaches you how to make a natural deoderant that works (something I must try one day!). How cool is that?

A big thank you to Sea at Book of Yum for hosting Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger again this month. As always, I love spending time getting to know my fellow gluten-free bloggers a little more. In this case, reading and trying out recipes from Lexie’s Kitchen definitely showed me that there are so many delicious treats that can be made, even on a gluten and dairy-free diet!

Warm Eggplant and Summer Squash Salad

I love eggplant. This is a relatively new occurrence for me. I never hated it before, I just didn’t really “get” it. I love that they are these gorgeous purple orbs (okay, yes, eggplant comes in more colors than just purple, but my eye really focuses on the purple ones!). They beckon at the farmers market or in the grocery, saying “buy me! bring me home!”. But I would bring a large eggplant home, and over and over, I would end up with a flavorless, spongy, less-than-appetizing vegetable. Oh, sure, I’d try to grill it or saute it, but it never lived up to my expectations. I was nearly ready to give up on eggplant.

Then I discovered baba ganoush. Apparently, roasting eggplant turns it from spongy and flavorless to creamy, velvety, and delicious. I could seriously sit down to a bowl of baba ganoush and polish it off all by myself. It’s that good.

That baba ganoush launched an entirely new relationship with eggplant. I think my chief mistake prior to that point in time was that I was undercooking it. Since I learned how to make baba ganoush, I also have fallen in love with eggplant in dishes like moussaka and ratatouille. I’ve even since returned to the grill with eggplant, making this too-hot-to-turn-on-the-oven grilled ratatouille.

Now that it’s starting to get cooler and summer is coming to an end, I thought a warm salad would be a perfect way to enjoy the end of eggplant season. Since we are also nearing the end of the (over)abundance of summer squash, I thought it would be perfect to include it in the mix as well. Paired with some mint from my garden and a lovely tomato jam, this dish was a great way to say “farewell” to summer.

What, you don’t have tomato jam? Well, I’m sorry to say, I won’t share any of mine. It’s too delicious, and I’m going to be stingy. Stephanie over at Recipe Renovator was giving away some tomato jam a while back, as part of a huge blog event (hosted by Bloggers Without Borders) to raise money for Jennie, who unexpectedly lost her husband, and I bid on it. Well, I won, and not long after, a jar of delicious jam arrived at my doorstep. After I’d opened it and eaten a few spoonfuls, (it was good enough to eat by itself) I thought I ought to incorporate it into a meal. The jam really made this salad into something special. Stephanie does share her recipe here, so if you don’t have tomato jam, you can make your own! I haven’t tried it, but I bet that you could skip the canning part if you wish and simply freeze some of it. That is, if you don’t eat it all before then.

Warm Eggplant and Summer Squash Salad

1 large or 2 small purple eggplants, sliced about 1/2 inch thick

2 yellow summer squash, sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1-2 T coconut oil, warmed enough for easy brushing

kosher salt

2-3 T tomato jam

1 T chopped fresh mint, plus a few additional mint leaves for garnish

ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler and line two baking sheets with foil. Spread out the eggplant and squash slices in a single layer on the foil. Brush with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt; flip and oil and salt the other sides. Place the baking sheets, one at a time, under the broiler for a minute or two, or until the vegetables are browned. Flip the vegetables and brown the other sides. (Be sure to stick around – walking away when something is under the broiler ensures that you burn it!) Remove the vegetables and place them in a large bowl. Add tomato jam and mint to the bowl and gently toss to coat the vegetables. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt, if needed. Serve warm or near room temperature.

Serves 2-4.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Daring Bakers: Grain-Free Croissants

 The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

Yeah, when I read that, I got a lump in my throat. You know the kind – it was exactly like a cartoon character, facing imminent doom, swallowing that lump with the audible “gulp”. Scary.

Why so scary? Well, in addition to making gluten-free croissants (Kate over at Gluten-Free Gobsmacked has successfully made those, and they look amazing), since I really haven’t been consuming grains lately, I wanted to make them grain-free. And who has heard of grain-free, dairy-free, yeast-free croissants? Not me. But I figured I’d give it a shot. They wouldn’t be flaky in the traditional sense, but I’d try my best to make something edible and resembling a croissant.

And so I got started. I made a stiff dough and chilled it. I pounded out butter and chilled it too. I then read through the instructions posted on the Daring Bakers challenge, and in the spirit of how Julia Child makes her croissants, I folded over the dough multiple times, rolled it out, and eventually (very carefully) rolled up my croissants.

How did they come out? Well, like I said, not flaky in the traditional sense. However, they were edible. Tender even. I would have liked them a touch sweeter, actually, but overall, I was surprised that they came out. They’d definitely be tasty to dip into a sauce at dinner. It’s definitely a recipe worth investigating further.

I’ll consider this a win for me!

Grain-Free, Dairy-Free Croissants

1 c almond flour

1/2 c coconut flour

1/2 t baking soda

1 t salt

2 eggs

1/4 c non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious unsweetened coconut beverage)

1/4 c vegan butter*

1 egg white, for brushing

1 t turbinado sugar

Whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs until frothy and add the non-dairy milk and whisk in. Add the wet ingredients to dry and stir to incorporate. The dough should be barely sticky; add additional almond flour as needed. On a large sheet of parchment paper, pat out dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, take another sheet of parchment paper and stick the butter on it. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top, and using a roller pin, pound out the butter until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle with a bit of almond flour and roll out into 1/4 – 1/8 inch thick rectangle between the two sheets of parchment (if you’re having difficulty with the parchment sticking to the dough, sprinkle with a bit more almond flour. With some care, you ought to be able to peel away the parchment and leave the dough in one piece). Scrape butter from the paper and spread out onto the top two-thirds of the dough.

spreading out butter on my not-so-rectangular rectangle of dough

Fold the bottom third up. Fold the top third over the bottom third.

dough folded into thirds

Turn the dough 90 degrees, and roll out again to 1/4-1/8 inches.

turning dough 90 degrees

Repeat the process of folding in thirds and rolling out 4 times. After it’s rolled out for the final time, cover with parchment and stick in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the dough from refrigerator and cut into about 9 squares with a pizza cutter. Cut each square in half diagonally to make two triangles out of each square.

cutting dough into triangles

Carefully roll up each triangle into a croissant shape, and place on a lined baking sheet. Curve the ends.

rolling up croissants

Brush each croissant with the egg white, and sprinkle a bit of turbinado sugar over each.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

 *vegan butter such as Earth Balance isn’t entirely grain-free, as it has ingredients derived from corn and soy, but you could possibly substitute shortening for the vegan butter. I’d be interested to see how it turns out.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

Curried Squash Hash and a Meal Plan 9/19-9/23

 Before August brought the seemingly endless heat, I planted some butternut squash. It started out so well – it grew  by leaps and bounds every day, started blossoming, and gave promise of much delicious winter squash. Then the heat got the best of it. In spite of my watering, my butternut was just no match for 105-110 degree days. (I guess squash isn’t a desert plant!) I had three small butternut squashes from one plant before they all shriveled up, like just about everything else in the garden.

All but one, that is. A few weeks ago, seemingly from nowhere, I had one last plant that got a second wind and started to grow again. I was unsure whether it would be strong enough to set any fruit, but yesterday, when I went out to water, I noticed two blossoms on it. So I’m hopeful that we’ll get a few more butternut squash from my garden before the season is over.

These three small squash were used in this hash for breakfast yesterday morning. Along with some zucchini, a bit of onion, and some spices, this was a hearty, wake-up-your-tastebuds change from the usual morning fare. I topped mine with some perfectly fried eggs.

This week is back-to-reality time for us, as we go back to work after taking a week off and traveling. I started to get prepared by boiling some eggs for our lunches, and hoped to make some more granola bars (recipe will be in my book!) for my husband. However, my usual marathon Sunday cooking was short-circuited by some air conditioning issues we started having. The oven was turned off (along with just about every light in the house) when the house started heating up. We had it working for a while, but I already deviated from the meal plan, swapping meatloaf (Sunday’s planned meal) for a cooler, simpler option planned for Monday night – grilled chicken with salad. Here’s to hoping the A/C is in full working order later this week so I can still use the oven. Meatloaf will have to wait until this next weekend – good thing I have room in the freezer for the meat!


Breakfast: hard-boiled eggs, leftover asparagus, carrots, and spaghetti squash

Morning snack: pear

Lunch: garden salad topped with grilled chicken breast with a homemade honey mustard dressing

Dinner: leftover curried chicken wings, mashed potatoes, green beans (A/C guy is coming this afternoon, so this may be very up in the air!)


Breakfast: leftover chicken breast, spinach-blueberry-banana smoothie

Lunch: leftover curried chicken wings, carrots, spinach, pear

Dinner: chicken piccata, spaghetti squash, broccoli


Breakfast: eggs, spinach-peach smoothie

Lunch: leftover chicken piccata, spaghetti squash, broccoli

Dinner: pumpkin shepherd’s pie (if this is successful, I’ll share the recipe!), braised cabbage


Breakfast: eggs, braised cabbage

Lunch: leftover pumpkin shepherd’s pie, tangelo

Dinner: roasted whole chicken, zucchini and sun-dried tomato casserole, mashed sweet potatoes


Breakfast: leftover chicken and sweet potatoes

Lunch: leftover zucchini casserole, eggs

Dinner: out – it’s Brandan’s 15th birthday, so we’ll be celebrating!


…and now, for the curried squash hash.

Curried Squash Hash, inspired by Everyday Paleo

1 T coconut oil

1 1/2 c diced butternut squash

1/2 c diced zucchini

1/4 c diced red onion

2 t Madras curry powder

1/2 t cinnamon

A couple pinches of salt

Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and allow to melt, swirling around the pan to coat. Toss butternut squash, zucchini, onion, curry powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Add to skillet and saute, allowing to cook undisturbed for a minute or two at a time before stirring, so that the pieces of squash get browned and crisp. When squash is tender, remove from heat and adjust seasoning as needed. This should take about 6-8 minutes.

Enjoy unadorned, or toss in crumbled, cooked bacon, and top with fried or poached eggs.

Hope you have a great week!

 This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free and was shared at Gluten-Free Detroit Metro for GF Menu Swap.

Daring Cooks: Sri Lankan Beef Curry and Carrots with Tropical Flavors

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.

I won’t go too much into Appam, as I didn’t make it. Right now, I am not eating grains or yeast, so I figured making a yeasted rice flatbread wasn’t in the cards. However, if you want to read about how to make these (and they look like the perfect accompaniment to a saucy curry!), check them out over at Mary Mary Culinary.

I did, however, jump right on some Sri Lankan curry! I love curries made with coconut milk. Spices + coconut milk = comfort food. (I’ve already mentioned this in my previous post about a Thai-inspired curry, but it’s really true!) This curry was different than most I’ve made; it used fresh curry leaves and tamarind pulp. Lucky for me, there is an Indian grocery not far from our house, and I was able to pick up the necessary ingredients.

As this curry simmered on the stove, the intoxicating aroma of spices filled the house. I could hardly wait until it was ready. I served it with spaghetti squash for me, brown rice for the hubby, and some amazing carrots with lime, peppers, shallots, and cilantro that was bright, fresh, and lightened up the heavier curry. It was a lovely meal. Next time, I think I might opt for a lower temperature when cooking the meat, and perhaps swap out the beef for a lamb or goat. The London Broil I used was a bit too lean, and ended up a tad dry for the dish. However, the flavors were sensuous and won me over.

Sri Lankan Beef Curry, adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves

1 lb boneless beef (I used London Broil)

1 T coconut oil

10 fresh or frozen curry leaves

1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped

generous 1 c  finely chopped onion

1 t turmeric

1 t salt

½ c coconut milk

1 T tamarind pulp (I had a jarred tamarind pulp with no seeds)

3 c water

1 T arrowroot powder

Dry Spice Mixture:

1 T coriander seeds

1 t cumin seeds

one 1-inch piece cinnamon or cassia stick

seeds from 2 pods of green cardamom

1. Cut the beef into ½ inch cubes. Set aside.

2. In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until it smells amazing!

3. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind/pound to a powder. Set aside.

4. In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the meat and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so all surfaces of the meat get browned.

5. Add the reserved spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6.  Add the tamarind pulp to the 2 cups of water. Whisk in the arrowroot powder.

7. Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.

Carrots with Tropical Flavors, adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves

1 lb carrots, about 5 medium, peeled

1 T coconut oil

about 8 fresh curry leaves

2 T minced seeded green cayenne chiles

3 T minced shallots

2 t rice vinegar (I used lime juice)

1 t salt

¼ t honey

½ c coconut milk

¼ c water

coarse salt, optional

cilantro (coriander) leaves to garnish

1. Julienne or coarsely grate the carrots. Set aside.

2. Place a deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add half of the curry leaves, the chiles and the shallots. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring.

3. Add the carrots, stir, and add the vinegar/lime juice, salt, honey and mix well. Increase the heat and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until they give off a bit of liquid.

4. Add the water and half of the coconut milk and bring to a fast boil. Stir, cover tightly and cook until just tender, 5 minutes or so, depending on size. Check to ensure the liquid has not boiled away and add a little more water if it is almost dry.

5. Add the remaining coconut milk and curry leaves. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with coarse salt, if desired, and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger: Diet, Dessert and Dogs (Adzuki Bean Spread)

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger is being hosted this month by Wendy of Celiacs In The House. I love Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger – while I love reading and trying to keep up with all of my favorite gluten-free blogs, reading, gawking, and sometimes drooling, I almost never seem to find time to actually make the recipes I salivate over. This event gives me an opportunity to slow down and actually try a recipe. Thing is, I rarely find it easy to decide which recipe to make. This is definitely the case when it comes to my adoptee this month – Ricki of Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

Ricki is definitely a powerhouse in the kitchen. Her blog has hundreds of delicious, Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) friendly recipes, and she has published 4 books. I own them all. I love her latest – Good Morning! Breakfasts without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs, or Dairy. Her innovative ways of creating sweet, delicious, healthy recipes using healthy ingredients really gets me to think outside the box. I imagine that going through the healing process of the Anti-Candida Diet forces one to do just that, especially when cravings for waffles, cakes, or fudge strike. Ricki amazes with her ability to satisfy those cravings.

Lately I’ve been in need of good, healthy snacks to pack for lunch, so I made Ricki’s adzuki bean spread. Wow, is it delicious! I am a sucker for bean spreads/dips in any case, but this was unique. It had a lovely umami punch from the miso, and a bit of a bite from the green onions. The creaminess of the beans (I love adzuki beans – they’re one of my favorites, and have appeared here before.) brought everything together. A bit of this stuff, spread on some Mary’s Gone Crackers and enjoyed along a quickly packed lunch of carrot sticks and celery was the perfect easy-to-make lunch. I’m definitely making this again – perhaps even as a quick dip for a party.

Next on my list of recipes to make from Ricki? Her “swiss cheese“. This really has me intrigued. Homemade vegan cheese cubes? I am seeing a salad very soon in my future, topped with these little treats!

Quinoa Tabbouleh and a Giveaway – Gluten-Free Made Simple

It seemed for a while there all I was blogging about was this gluten-free book and that gluten-free book, (and this one as well!) and giving away copies of them all. Then, all of a sudden, it stopped. Well, my dear readers, it’s time for another book review and giveaway! That’s right, St. Martin’s Press has graciously allowed me to review a copy of Gluten-Free Made Simple by Carol Field Dahlstrom, Elizabeth Dahlstrom Burnley, and Marcia Schultz Dahlstrom, as well as share a copy with one of my lucky readers!

When I received my copy of Gluten-Free Made Simple, my first impression was that it was a lovely, colorful book. There are photos for every recipe – something I know is a deal-maker for a lot of people. (When chatting with my sister-in-law a while back, she mentioned that is a key thing that sells her on cookbooks – she wants to see what it looks like, and that photo will help entice her to make the recipes!) This book definitely delivers beautiful photos. But what I noticed, as a gluten-free cook and baker, was how simple the recipes truly were. The ingredient lists were short, and most recipes could be made in a few quick steps. This book was written to not only appeal to me, but chiefly to appeal to a large audience of varying levels of kitchen expertise and time. Gluten-free cooking seems overwhelming to a lot of people (hence why Shirley has dedicated an entire blog to living gluten-free easily), especially those who have limited or no cooking skills. The transition from drive-thru to being comfortable with home-cooked meals is a difficult one for many. This book does an excellent job of assisting those new to gluten-free or looking for new gluten-free recipes make that transition.

There are many delicious recipes in this book I’m dying to try – from an easy meatloaf recipe, to cinnamon rolls (that you don’t have to roll out!), pineapple muffins, and strawberry pie. But as the temperatures have been creeping up around here lately, I opted for a simple, cool salad – the quinoa tabbouleh.

Tabbouleh is traditionally a Lebanese bulgur salad with parsley, mint, tomato, cucumber, and spring onions, tossed in a simple lemon juice and oil dressing. However, bulgur is off-limits on a gluten-free diet. Quinoa makes a fine substitute (a superior one, in my opinion). It’s easy to make, and is something you can prepare ahead of time, making it a great side dish for company. It’s the perfect summer side dish (or even main dish!). I opted to use chives instead of the green onions in this recipe, vegetable broth instead of chicken, and I used some golden cherry tomatoes I picked up from Good Earth Organic Farm last weekend. This is one of those definite “go-to” recipes for this time of year.

Quinoa Tabbouleh, reprinted with permission from Gluten-Free Made Simple

1/2 c quinoa

1 c gluten-free chicken broth such as Better Than Bouillon (I used vegetable broth)

3/4 c chopped fresh cucumber

1/2 c snipped fresh parsley

1/4 c thinly sliced green onions (I used chives)

1 T snipped fresh mint

1 recipe Tabbouleh Dressing (see below)

3/4 c chopped tomato

4 lettuce leaves (I didn’t use these)

Place quinoa in a colander and rinse with warm water for 2 minutes. (Note: quinoa must be rinsed very well to remove the bitterness on the grain.) (My note – Ancient Harvest quinoa is pre-rinsed.) In a saucepan, combine quinoa and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and let cook until quinoa splits and absorbs most of the chicken broth, about 15 minutes. (The recipe doesn’t specify, but I covered my pan with a lid.) Drain and cool. (I needed no draining)

In a large bowl combine quinoa, cucumber, parsley, green onions and mint. Drizzle with Tabbouleh Dressing and toss to coat. (I didn’t use all of the dressing.) Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. Stir tomato into quinoa mixture just before serving. Serve on lettuce leaves. Serves 4.

Tabbouleh Dressing

In a screw-top jar combine 3 tablespoons canola oil (I used olive), 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and shake well.

Now, for the giveaway part!

I will be giving away 1 copy of Gluten-Free Made Simple by Carol Field Dahlstrom, Elizabeth Dahlstrom Burnley, and Marcia Schultz Dahlstrom. The giveaway will end at midnight, Saturday, June 25, 2011. I will chose a winner via

To enter:

- Leave me a comment telling me what dish you wish you could make gluten-free without a lot of fuss.

That’s it! Best of luck! And even if you don’t win, I encourage you to check out Gluten-Free Made Simple by Carol Field Dahlstrom, Elizabeth Dahlstrom Burnley, and Marcia Schultz Dahlstrom on It’s a great “go-to” book when you’re looking for easy gluten-free recipes.