Category Archives: Recipes

Suburban garden lust: pesto

There aren’t very many things that I like about the suburbs, but I am green with envy over people who have gardens in the summer. Unless of course that person is my dad and I can reap the benefits of said garden in the form of pesto and fresh tomatoes!

We chopped down two whole basil plants to make traditional and purple pesto (made with purple basil). Saveur magazine was devoted to pesto this month, and featured tons of variations, but we used the classic pesto Genovese recipe.

The only thing really unique about this recipe is that it calls for you to blanch the basil to take some of the bitterness out before putting it in the food processor.

Pecorino, parmesan, roasted garlic, pine nuts – can’t go wrong with that. Pesto pizza is one of my favorites, but I can also settle for just eating it right off of the spoon.

We taste tested with a little quinoa spaghetti and fresh tomatoes in fig balsamic; I felt like Mario Batali.

More on my other Michigan eats later!

My quinoa lunches

Last week I threw a package of red quinoa into my basket at the grocery store without really thinking too hard about it. Then I got to the checkout and found out that it was $7.00! I got it anyway, since I figured it would last awhile and I could use it for my work lunches.

Quinoa is great because it’s so versatile, and can even be used in sweet dishes, like Cocomama breakfast cereal. It’s high in protein, fiber, B vitamins, folate, and magnesium. And who couldn’t use a little extra magnesium in their life? 😉

And boy did I use it. I managed to put together the strangest combinations of ingredients that I found in my fridge.

First up:

Quinoa with tuna salad, broccoli, carrots, and feta.

Then there was:

Quinoa with chick peas, cucumbers, carrots, feta, and parsley.

And today:

Quinoa with stir-fried tempeh, carrots, hummus, feta, and parsley

I think I need to take a break from this quinoa thing. I love it dearly, but I think I’ve had enough.

At least I got my $7.00 worth – I still have some of the package left!

Any ideas on how I can use the rest of this quinoa in a different way? I think I’m turning orange from all of these carrots…

Nut butter monster bars – Cocomama recipe contest

Today’s the day!  It’s the Cocomama Recipe Contest! They will be posting all of the recipes on their Facebook page, and the one with the most likes wins.  So, you should probably go there and hit the “Like” button to vote for me.

This is my first ever recipe contest, and I think I have a winner. I’m calling them “Nut Butter Monster Bars”.

And don’t they look good for their big judgment day?


  • 3 3/4 c. gluten free cereal (I used Nature’s Path Honey’d Corn Flakes, but you could use Chex or rice cereal too)
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 T. butter
  • 3/4 c. crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 T almond butter
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 1/3 c. white chocolate chips


1. In a saucepan over low/med heat, stir together honey and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Stir in nut butters, butter, and cinnamon and stir until the mixture is smooth

3.  Stir in cereal (depending on the size of the cereal you may want to crunch it up a bit first)

4.  Stir in raisins and chocolate chips (this would also be great with regular chocolate, and any kind of dried fruit)

5.  Press mixture firmly into an 8×8 or 9×6 baking dish (I have a weird Ikea pan)

6. Put in fridge to set, then cut up into squares and freeze the ones you don’t eat right away!

I’m excited for the contest to start!  You should check it out on Facebook and hit the like button for me!

Good Things Wednesday

Yes, I know last time it was Good Things Sunday, but I’ve never really been a stickler for consistency 🙂

1.  Yesterday a very good thing happened – my order of Skinny Crisps came in the mail! I loved these the moment I tried them at G-Free NYC, and according to their website they don’t have any retail locations in DC.  So, I bucked up and ordered online – $26 for three bags and shipping, so about $8.50 a bag, which is only a dollar more than they were at G-Free NYC, so I didn’t feel too gypped.

Gimme three! Cheese, Cinnamon (my fave), and Chocolate

2.  I also learned how to actually cook a good steam-fried egg this weekend after reading my friend’s blog!  Usually I end up with the white all over the pan, breaking the yolk, or just giving up and turning the whole thing into scrambled eggs.  I served my perfect egg with salsa and spinach – I was so proud.

3.  I created a new food invention – chocolate almond protein pudding!  I impulse purchased a bag of Better Bowls pudding mix from Giant a couple weeks ago, mostly because of the big yellow “Gluten Free” label at the top of the bag.  They also market themselves as “the healthiest brand of pudding”, so, can’t go wrong with that!

Then I was looking for a good post-workout snack after my group training class at Stroga, and it seemed like a good time to bust it out.  I amped up the protein and yummy-factor by adding some whey protein and almond butter.

Better Bowls Chocolate Almond Protein Pudding

2 cups soy milk plus an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup

1 1/2 scoops chocolate whey protein powder

2 T almond butter

Mix it all together and let it set for 10 minutes (or 3 minutes in the freezer if you are ravenous and need to eat it right away or you’ll pass out…not that I did that or anything…)

All good things!  I hope Martha Stewart doesn’t sue me for copyright infringement.  Nah – she’s probably too busy flirting with Snoop Dog for that.

Fourth of July Strawberry Pretzel Jello Destiny

Now, I don’t believe in fate or destiny in the strictest sense of the word.  But there are sometimes when coincidences happen that seem too big to just be random.

For awhile now I’ve noticed that my post on my grandma’s rainbow jello salad is one of my most popular posts, and thought that I should post on something else jello-related.  People all over the web are apparently just dying to spend 24 hours making an artistic jello casserole.  So I was thinking about my other favorite jello dish, that my aunt used to make as a dessert for family gatherings – Strawberry Pretzel Jello “Salad”.

It’s this weird concoction of a pretzel crust (like a graham cracker crust but with a touch more salt), then a cream cheese and Cool Whip center, and a strawberry Jello topping.  It all comes together to be a surprisingly good layered dessert, and kind of a throwback to the jello-mold days of old.

Now here comes the coincidence.  Did anyone see the recipe from the winner of Rudi’s Gluten Free Bakery Contest?  It’s a layered dish with Rudi’s bread and ginger snaps as the base of the crust, a sweet goat cheese filling, and a sweet strawberry topping.  That looks exactly the same as the Strawberry Pretzel Jello “Salad”!

Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery Winning Dish

So I obviously am now destined to make this strangely addicting dish again, and luckily I have a get-together today that I can bring it to!  I modified this recipe slightly to make it healthier and gluten free, of course.  I also halved it, since I 1) don’t own a 9×13 pan, and 2) didn’t want to carry a giant pan on the mile walk to the party.

Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad – Gluten Free Version

1/2 cup crushed Glutino gluten free pretzels

1/2 cup crushed Trader Joe’s gluten free ginger snaps

1 tsp. sugar

4 oz. Neufchatel cheese (could also substitute cream cheese, I was trying something new)

1/4 cup sugar

4 oz. Cool Whip

1/2 package strawberry jello

1 cup boiling water

1/2 package frozen strawberries (I substituted some fresh strawberries)

Mix first three ingredients and press in bottom of a 8×8 pan. Bake at 350 degrees (metal pan) or 325 degrees (glass pan) 8 minutes. Let cool completely.

Beat 1/4 cup sugar and cheese. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread over pretzels (at this point I transferred to a tupperware container for easy traveling).

Mix Jello and water until dissolved. Add strawberries. Stir into Jello, then set aside for 10 minutes.

Pour over cheese mixture (it will look too liquidy, but it will set up). Chill.

I’ll add a picture of it plated later, but for now it’s getting packed up and ready to party!

I also encourage you to test the Cool whip to ensure it’s thawed properly by dipping a few in as the crust bakes 🙂

I should have added blueberries to this to make it a true red/white/blue dessert.  But I think it looks pretty patriotic as it is 🙂 Happy Fourth of July!

Cake Batter Blondies – Gluten Free

The other day I was perusing Girl Meets Life, since I have a total girl crush on Gracie, when I came upon this amazing recipe for cake batter blondies.  I also happen to have an almost-full container of rainbow sprinkles that I’ve been looking for a use for from back when I found out that Carvel’s sprinkles weren’t gluten free. (They now are, according to their website – so good for you, Carvel!)


  • 1 box gluten free yellow cake mix (I tried Betty Crocker’s)
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used extra light tasting olive oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions: Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Add the milk slowly – you want the batter to remain as dense as possible.

Then mix in the rainbow sprinkles and white chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

The fun part

Pull them out just when the edges are starting to turn brown, and cool for about 20 minutes.

These weren’t as gooey as Gracie’s were, or at least how they looked, which might have to do with the gf batter mix.  But they were still outrageously good.  I’m going to have to try to resist eating all of them before I bring them in for my coworkers tomorrow.

Maybe I should make some tweaks to these and submit them to Betty Crocker’s Baker’s Challenge gluten free recipe contest… hmm

Passover Friendly – Real Simple Lemon Almond Macaroons

With the start of Passover, I usually start getting a lot of questions about gluten-free foods versus unleavened bread (ie: “Oh, you can have matzoh right? There’s no yeast!”)  Even though I don’t know the ins-and-outs of the holiday, I know that sometimes unleavened does end up meaning that a food is also gluten free (flourless chocolate cake, meringue).

And, as happened to be the case today with… coconut macaroons!

We had a potluck lunch at work, and one of the expert bakers brought these lovely macaroons, made from a recipe from Real Simple. I love that these are naturally gluten free, Passover friendly, and a boost from your traditional macaroon.

View the recipe on Real Simple

These were really light, chewy, and snackable.  I could have eaten four or five easily.  I will definitely add this to my list of “impressive but easy” desserts.

In other news: G-free NYC is opening tomorrow!  I think I may have to stop by after work, even though it’s totally out of the way.

Thanks, Orville – Super simple gf dessert

Although it may be hard to believe, sometimes I want something besides ice cream for dessert.  Tonight I pulled out the creativity and made some kettle corn from Orville Redenbacher, then topped it with Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips.

It’s like trail mix, only you can eat more of it!

Give me this stuff and a good trashy magazine, and I’ll be set all night.

Take me home – Michigan gluten-free

I don’t usually think that I’m going to be able to find any specialty gluten free items in Michigan that I wouldn’t be able to find in New York.  There were a few highlights this time that were a pleasant surprise over my Christmas break.  Next time I will definitely have to do some more research before heading home so I can try all that the mitten has to offer!

1. Little Tree Sushi in Royal Oak

They had tamari soy sauce!  I had been there before, but figured that they wouldn’t have anything but Kikkoman, so I never asked.  This time I was a bit more bold, and it worked out in my favor.  Quality sushi that I can eat, without toting around a bottle of soy sauce all night = win!

2.  Gluten Free Pizza at Buddy’s and Cottage Inn!

Now, this was something that I discovered after I had returned to NYC, but it totally shocked me!  Buddy’s used to be one of my go-to places for pizza because they have that great Michigan crust like Jet’s pizza, but they have a really great sweet tomato sauce.  And Cottage Inn…I used to be able to eat half of a pizza in the time it took to drive it back to my apartment.  I’m going to have to go to both places when I go home next and share it with my family.

3.  Kroger (!)

I’ve been getting updates throughout the year on the construction of a new Kroger by my house, and I finally got to go and see what all the hubbub was about.  Basically, it’s a normal 21st century grocery store – which is great for me because they had a lot more gluten free options!  They even have a list on their website of the gluten free Kroger-brand products on their website, and labels on the gf products on their shelves.  Plus, they have Redbridge gluten free beer (wayyyy up on the top shelf), so I don’t have to go on a wild goose chase every time I go home (they do have it at Oxford Beverage in Grosse Pointe as well).

I was able to get all of the ingredients to make gluten free Chex mix!  It was a huge hit with my family, and I missed the snack-ability of this yummy treat!

Gluten-free Chex Mix

4.5 cups corn Chex

4.5 cups rice Chex

1 cup gluten free Cheerios

1 cup gluten free pretzel twists (I used Glutino)

1 cup mixed nuts

6 T. butter

2 T. Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins is gluten free, so don’t bother buying the specialty stuff)

1 1/2 t. seasoned salt

3/4 t. garlic powder

1/2 t. onion powder

Heat oven to 250°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in cereal mixture until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Bananas and Pears Foster

Have you ever seen the show Chopped on Food Network?  It’s a show that challenges chefs to make a dish with a basket full of mystery ingredients, and Nick really likes watching it (I think it’s a tad boring, but the concept is pretty neat).  So, we decided to do our own challenge, and choose the ingredients for each other.  He gave me quince, dark rum, and heavy cream.  So, what else to make but everyone’s favorite – bananas foster?  

I adapted the recipe from the famous one from Brennan’s in New Orleans.  They didn’t have any quince at Whole Foods, so I had to settle for Bartlett pears.  I also used a red banana, which I’d never had before, but tasted just like a normal banana so it didn’t make that much of a difference.

Bananas and Pears Foster 

1/4 stick butter

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 t. cinnamon

1 banana and one pear, cut into “big bite” pieces

1/4 c. dark rum

Fresh whipped cream

Vanilla ice cream

Crumbled ginger snap cookies 

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Place the bananas and pears in the pan. When the fruit starts to soften, carefully add the rum. 

Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum. When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place over ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream, top with whipped cream and ginger snaps, and serve immediately. 

Let the sugar high begin!