Party Food….

Confession….. I am exhausted…. I haven’t had a day off in almost 2 weeks. I work 10+ hour days in addition to my hour long commute. I have somehow still found the energy to cook. Probably because that is my release. But still…. I am pooped! Even the Energizer Bunny gets a little droopy now and then.

May is Celiac Awareness Month, so I am planning some exciting in-store events, and this weekend is the Autism Speaks Walk for Autism. Needless to say, life just keeps getting busier and busier. Sometimes I just wish someone would cook me dinner, wash my face, brush my teeth, and tuck me into bed.
MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!!…………
Today’s recipe is one I demo-ed at work a few weeks ago. Enjoy!

Baseball season is here and GF Guy and his family are BIG fans! I used them as my inspiration for the in-store recipe campaign at work a few works ago. We all need fun finger food recipes to feed a crowd. This one is perfect to make the night before and then bake right before you are ready to turn on the Big Game. (PS- This picture is one I took for the product reps so they could get a basic idea of how we set up the product. Don’t make fun!)

Pizza Poppers
Ingredients:
– 1 package Bob’s Red Mill Whole Gran Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix
– 1 1/2 cups Warm Water
– 2 Eggs
– 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– Yeast Packet (included in Crust Mix)
– 8oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (or Vegan Mozzarella)
– 2 tsp. Italian Herbs
– 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 3 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese (or Vegan Parmesan)
– Muir Glen Pizza Sauce (for dipping)
In a large bowl, combine water and yeast. Let stand a few minutes.
Add eggs and 2 Tbsp. oil to the mixture and blend briefly. Add GF Pizza Crust Mix and blend about a minute on medium speed, until combined. Leaving dough in a bowl, split in half, cover with plastic srap and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grease 3 pie pans, or 1 large jelly roll pan.
Pinch off dough in walnut size pieces as you go.
I each piece of dough place about 1 tsp. Mozzarella Cheese. Seal dough around the cheese and place seam side down in the pie pan.
Once assembled, combine Oil and spices and brush over the dough balls. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes until golden.
Serve with warm pizza sauce.
What is your favorite party food? Mine is Veggies with Peach and Mango Salsa for dipping!

Totally "RAW-some"….

Last Saturday, I co-taught a Raw Foods “Uncooking” class with my friend Angela. It was a wonderful hour of uncooking, sharing, and learning. It was so fun to swap ideas and play with our food! Below is the recipe we made. I took some of the leftovers home for dinner that night. GF Guy thought it was surprisingly good! (He is so tolerant! hahahaha) The photo is of our leftovers. The original presentation was much more artistic! If you are looking for a raw recipe to impress, this is it! Enjoy!
Raw Zucchini Spaghetti and Walnut “Meatballs”
Ingredients:
– 2 to 3 organic Zucchini
Raw Tomato Sauce:
– 1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, soaked in filtered water for 1 hour
– 1 Medjool Date, pitted and soaked in filtered water for 1 hour
– 1 cup Tomatoes, quartered and seeded
– 1 clove Garlic, peeled
– 2 packed tablespoons Fresh Basil
– 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
– Dash of Cayenne Pepper
– 1 tablespoon Extra virgin Olive Oil
– 4 chopped Pimento Stuffed Olives (not raw – optional)
Walnut “Meatballs”:
– 1 1/3 cup Raw Walnuts, soaked for several hours
– 1 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
– 1 1/2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
– 2 teaspoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
– 1 teaspoon Garlic, minced
– 1 teaspoon thinly sliced Green Onion (white part only)
– 1 1/2 tablespoons Fresh Italian Parsley, minced plus some for garnish
Make the Zucchini Spaghetti on a Spiralizer. Place in a mixing bowl and set aside.
While running the food processor with an “S” blade, run the clove of garlic throught he chure. After it is minced, add the drained sun dried tomatoes and date to the food processor along with the fresh tomatoes, basil, salt, cayenne pepper, olive oil and olives (optional). Process until smooth. Place the tomato sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
Wash and dry the food processor. Drain and rinse the walnuts and add them to the food processor along with the nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, Braggs, and garlic. Process until smooth, stopping now and then to scrape down the sides. Add thinly sliced green onion and minced fresh parsley and pulse several times until combined. Make 12 little, round “meatballs”. Dip each “meatball” in the sauce until covered and set aside. Take the rest of the sauce and add it to the zucchini noodles. Divide the zucchini and sauce into 4 plates and place 3 sauce covered meatballs on each. Garnish with parsley and a little nutritional yeast and serve immediately.
As many of you may have gathered, I have had an incredibly busy schedule as of late. One unbelievably bright spot amidst the flurry of activity has been my “Fairy Blog-mother”, Cari the writer of Sweetpea’s Gluten Free Kitchen. She sent me 3, count ’em, 3 packages containing her house warming gifts to GF Guy and myself to congratulate us on our first home. Take a look at this amazingness!

All I can say is I am left utterly speechless at her generosity….. AND I CAN’T WAIT TO PLAY WITH IT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our new neighbors are going to be so confused when they constantly smell curry, but see 2 little white people entering and exiting the place! hahahahaha LOVE IT! 
Thank you so much Cari! You are the best “Fairy Blog-Mother” EVER!!!!!

Nifty, Thrifty….

I was going to post an awesome Raw Recipe tonight, but left my written recipe at work! Doh! Instead, here is a lovely vegan pasta dish GF Guy and I enjoyed for dinner the other night.

GF Guy and I are trying really hard to maintain a tight budget. We are a rather frugal pair, but healthy, organic food is something we refuse to compromise. It is possible to eat organically on a budget. You just have to plan your meals, be inventive, and shop sensibly. Shop in season, locally, and according to a list.

If you can not afford 100% organic produce, consider The Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen is a list of the produce that normally contain the most toxins and pesticides. 

12 Most Contaminated
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
Shopping the sales is another way to save money. Just beware not to buy something simply because it is on sale! Stick to your list! Plan you meals and write your grocery list after perusing the store sale fliers. 
Here is a frugal meal GF Guy and I enjoyed Sunday evening. We didn’t have any marinara sauce, but had a pantry full of GF pasta. What does one do? Read on and see….
 
Sun Dried Tomato and Kale Pasta
Ingredients:
– 16 oz. Gluten Free Fusilli Pasta
– 12 Sun Dried Tomatoes, rehydrated
– 3 cloves Garlic
– 1 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 1/2 cup White Wine
– Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
– 1 Tblsp. Basil
– 1 small bunch Kale, lightly steamed
Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.
Place rehydrated Sun Dried Tomatoes, EVOO, and Garlic in a food processor and process until a paste forms.
Place Wine, herbs and spices, and Tomato mixture in a pan and allow to heat through, about 3 minutes. Toss sauce with kale and pasta. 
Serve with a sprinkle of Nutritional Yeast or Parmesan Cheese.
What are your tips for eating organic on a budget?

It’s Magic….

I love brownies. You probably love brownies. So what would you say if I told you you could make brownies that were gluten free, dairy free, high in protein, AND high in fiber? YES PLEASE!!!!!! Last week, I presented a brownie recipe I just HAD to share with you. These brownies are unbelievably fudgie and delicious. Even kids love them! Enjoy!
Black Magic Brownies
Ingredients:
– 1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
– 3/4 cup Sugar
– 1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
– 3 Eggs
– 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
– 2 tsp. brewed Coffee
– 3 Tblsp. Canola Oil
– pinch Salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 pan.
Bake 20-30 minutes until edges begin to pull away from the pan.
Allow to cool before cutting.
Yesterday, I co-taught a Raw Foods Uncooking Class. Tune in tomorrow for the “RAW-some” recipe we made!
I am super excited for next month. May is Celiac Awareness Month. I have organized weekly GF store tours at Rollin’ Oats and a  free GF cooking class taught by Carol Kicinski, the talented writer of the blog Simply Gluten Free! If you happen to be in Florida during May send me an email! I would love for you to attend!
So… how was everyone’s weekend? Do you have anything excited coming up next week?

Chia and Hemp….

I’m running late this morning, but I wanted to post this recipe. I found it on the Navitas Naturals website, tweaked a few things according to my tastes and pantry, and voila! Enjoy!

Vegan Mexican Pesto Pizza
Crust Ingredients:
– 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds, plus 2 Tbsp. set aside
– 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Almond Milk
– 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
– 1 tsp. Baking Powder
– 1/4 cup mashed Black Beans
– 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
– 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
Pesto Ingredients: 
– 2 Tbsp. Hemp Seeds
– 1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
– 1/2 cup Cilantro, tightly packed
– 2/3 cup Baby Spinach, tightly packed
– 1 clove Garlic
– 1/2 Jalapeno Pepper, deseeded
– 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
– 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
Topping Ingredients
– 1 large Tomato, thinly sliced
– 1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped
– Nutritional Yeast
Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
In a large mixing bowl, combine all crust ingredients, setting aside 2 Tbsp. Chia Seeds.
Gather in a ball and knead for 1 minutes.
Let stand 10 minutes.
Sprinkle a non-stick cookie sheet or pizza pan with remaining 2 Tbsp. Chia Seeds. 
Place the dough on top of the seeds, and roll dough out into a flat, as thin as possible.
Place in the preheated oven, and bake for 10 minutes.
Make the pesto: While the dough is cooking, combine all pesto ingredients in a food processor, except for the oil.
Pulse until finely chopped.
Slowly add in the the oil, and process until fully blended, scraping down the sides as necessary.
Assemble: After the crust has baked, spread the pesto onto the warm surface evenly.
Top with tomato slices and nutritional yeast, and bake for 15 minutes longer.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro.
Allow to cool about 2 minutes before cutting with a sharp knife.

Earth Week Foodie Green Tip #1….

I had a hard core chocolate craving last night. This one was too strong to deny. Not only was it a chocolate craving, it was a chocolate milkshake craving. Double whammy! I set to work looking for recipe inspiration. Thank goodness for Gena’s blog, Choosing Raw! I made a slight change to one of her smoothie recipes, and Voila! My dessert was born! A dessert with 2 exciting aspects, Fair Trade Raw Cacao Nibs and Chia Seeds!
My Way Milkshake
Ingredients:
– 1 cup Almond Milk
– 1 small frozen Banana
– 2 tblsp. Carob Powder
– 1 tblsp. Peanut Butter
– 1 tblsp. Chia Seeds
– 1 handful Ice
– Fair Trade, Raw Cacao Nibs
Place nut milk, banana, carob powder, PB, Chia Seeds, and ice in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and sprinkle with Cacao Nibs.



The Fair Trade, Raw Cacao Nibs are the perfect introduction for today’s green tip in honor of Earth Week:

  1. When buying chocolate, look for a brand with high cocoa content (more cocoa means higher quality and—at least potentially—more farm income). Look also for chocolate that carries a “fair trade” label or the mark of a similar socially responsible producer, and that is organic

     

     What a wonderful excuse to buy high quality chocolate! It’s for the environment! Who can argue with that? Now on to the Fair Trade Label…. 

    Buying Fair Trade labeled chocolate is responsible purchasing for both the environment AND for local farmers and communities. In fact, most Fair Trade certified chocolate can be traced to a specific farm! In order to receive a Fair Trade certification, a product must meet certain standards. These standards include:

  • Paying farmers a fair wage, within the local context.
  • Encouraging organic, sustainable farming methods, including shade growing and crop diversification.
  • Following child labor laws.
  • Providing a safe work environment, within the local context, and opportunities for advancement.
Next time you are shopping, look for this label:
You will be feeding your sweet tooth and helping to feed a community at the same time!
For more information on the Fair Trade Movement, visit the World Fair Trade Organization website.
On to exciting ingredient number 2, Chia Seeds!
I was gifted with some Chia Seeds at work the other day, so I was looking for an excuse to bust those suckers out! Chia Seeds are a superfood eaten by the Aztecs. I am still a newbie when it comes to Chia Seeds and their health benefits, but here are a few reasons to consider adding them to your diet.

7 Good Reasons to Start Eating Chia Seeds

  1. Help weight loss. Chia seeds are popular for weight loss. They reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes them a great diet helper.
  1. Feel fuller faster: They can also help your diet by making you feel full. This is because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel.
  2. Hydration for athletes: They are also great for athletes because the “chia gel” can hydrate the body.
  3. Reduce your blood pressure: There’s evidence to suggest they can lower blood pressure.
  4. Omega-3: They are the richest plant source of Omega-3 (the vital fats that protect against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease). In fact, they contain more Omega-3 than salmon!
  5. Benefits for diabetes: Because chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, studies indicate they can control blood sugar. This leads scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics.
  6. They are easier to digest than flax seeds, and don’t need to be ground up.
I am not trying to lose weight. However, I love the other attributes of Chia Seeds. The Omega-3’s and superior hydration they provide are exactly what I am looking for! 

Are you a Chia Seed user? What is your favorite recipe using Chia Seeds?

Exciting News….

I have really exciting, awesome news…..
We are buying our first house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Actually, it is a condo, and we LOVE it! GF Guy and I are both on the small side, so a condo is perfect for our little family. Plus, large spaces make me nervous… but that’s an entire different story…
Our closing date is May 4th, but our apartment lease is through the end of May. This gives us time to redecorate, paint, etc… before moving in. We are soooooo excited!!!! If anyone has decorating tips or ideas let me know! I love the idea of painting or wallpapering one wall to make it a focal point. 
We were having lunch at Tita’s when we heard the good news about our condo. After a delightful low-key afternoon of lunch at watching the Ray’s baseball game, we arrived home and deep cleaned our apartment. I don’t know why hearing the news about our new condo made us want to clean. (I love that GF Guy happily helps me clean instead of expecting me to do it simply because I am the girl. He is the best partner in life I could have asked for, and I love him!) Maybe because we know we are going to have to pack everything up soon. The cleaner the better when packing! After a few hours of bleach and airing out the apartment, it was time to start on dinner. A celebratory meal was definitely in order! The catch… it had to be made with the ingredients already in our pantry!
To celebrate, I made a delicious Vegan Quinoa Risotto for dinner. Simple, clean ingredients make the best meals! 
 
Spinach and Sundried Tomato Quinoa-sotto
Ingredients:
– 2 tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
– 1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
– 1 large Shallot, diced
– 4 cloves Garlic, minced
– 1 cup Quinoa, rinsed
– 1 cup Sherry
– 10 Rehydrated Sundried Tomatoes, chopped
– 4 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Stock, heated
– 2 tsp Basil
– 1 tsp Rosemary
– 1 tsp Thyme
– Black Pepper and Salt to taste
– 10 oz. Baby Spinach, steamed and chopped
– 1 tblsp Lemon Juice
– 1/8 cup Vegan Parmesan Cheese
– 1/8 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
– dash Light Coconut Milk
– 1/2 t Nutmeg
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and shallot and saute’ until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute more.
Add Quinoa and lightly toast about 1 minute.
Add Sherry and bring to a quick bubble. Reduce heat to medium low and and cook, stirring continuously, until liquid is absorbed.
Add herbs and sundried tomatoes and 1 cup of heated Vegetable Stock.
Stir until stock is absorbed. 
Add stock, one cup at a time, allowing liquid to absorb each time and stirring continuously.
After adding the final cup of stock, stir the remaining ingredients into the pot and allow to cook until creamy.
Enjoy!
The coconut milk lent a delightful creaminess that transformed the entire dish, and the sherry offered a complexity of flavor not found in a risotto made with white wine. We loved this meal, and I am rather proud of it. I guess I just needed a little good news to find my “Kitchen Mojo” again!

Let’s Hear It For the Toilet Paper….

Wow… I have been so busy with work. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it. It just means I haven’t had time to create anything new in the kitchen. As such, I have been neglecting you all terribly. Sorry folks! 
So…. what has happened since we chatted last? Well…. I went to my sister in-law’s Bridal Shower and brought Gluten Free Mini-Muffins and Gluten Free Mocha Chip Biscotti. This was my first Bridal Shower ever and it was so much fun! (GF Guy and I planned our wedding in a week and a half. Consequently, we didn’t have bridal showers, etc…. It was totally worth it, though. Dragging out the planning process is just too stressful for me!) Anyway, back to the shower. We played the game where you split in to teams and make a wedding gown out of toilet paper. Guess what…. my team won!!!! 
 Sooo excited!!!!!!
Dickens also got his first haircut! 
 He looks like Papi from Beverly Hills Chihuahua! hahaha Bless his little heart! 
That’s pretty much it for news… Moving on to the food…
Tonight’s dinner was an old recipe served in a new way. I made my Chana Saag recipe, but instead of serving it over quinoa, we stuffed it in a baked sweet potato! 
 Perfection! Some people stuff their potatoes with butter, cheese, and bacon bits. We stuff ours with spinach and chickpeas! 
While dinner was delicious, I miss creating new things in the kitchen. I just haven’t been inspired to cook anything new lately….
I need some kitchen inspiration! Anyone?! This is a Culinary SOS!!!!

Oui, Oui….

SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
 Our French Bread Loaf Pan is no longer simply going to be used as a wine rack for our refrigerator!!!!!
Using Gluten Free Pantry’s French Bread Mix, 
 I have successfully made my 1st loaf of GF/DF French Bread! 
 Even better was how simple and easy it was! I followed the instructions on the box, exactly as written, except I divided the dough in half and made to loaves in my French Bread pan, which I dusted with cornmeal. The result? 
Crusty on the outside, soft pillow-y inside French Bread perfection! 
To celebrate, I made GF Guy the meal that made him fall in love with me in college. (Bear in mind, this was before I knew how to cook, before I knew about the benefits of organic ingredients, and before I had to eat Gluten Free and Dairy Free.)  
The backstory: I would go to Super Walmart (cringe) and buy a $1 loaf of French Bread, slather it with Prego Marinara sauce and Great Value brand Mozzarella Cheese, and voila! French Bread Pizza! I was such a gourmet!
Now, our version of French Bread Pizza involves baking our own loaves, organic pizza sauce, organic spinach, and vegan mozzarella cheeze. My how things change! 
GF Guy surprised me by bringing home the movie The Blind Side, which we ate while enjoying our Pizza. We sat down, prayed, and cautiously took our first bites. GF Guy chewed, put his pizza down, looked at me very seriously, and said… “Wow, baby… this is really good! I really missed this!” SUCCESS!!!!!!!!! For all you people out there intimidated by baking GF bread, buy Gluten Free Pantry’s French Bread Mix. It makes baking so accessible and is perfect if you don’t have an obscene stock of 20 different gluten free flours! (…guilty…)
What was/is your “famous college recipe”?

"Mixing" It Up….

Happy Warm Weather Weekend, Everyone!!!! It is officially “shorts” weather here in Florida. I busted out my jean skirt, GF Guy put the top down on the convertible, Dickens got strapped into his doggie car harness, and we were off on our family outing to the Farmer’s Market! 
Isn’t GF Guy handsome? 
Dickens loves riding with the top down.
We bought some wonderful locally grown, organic produce, ate an idyllic lunch of organic salads, and drove home where I spent a few hours in the kitchen. My sister-in-law’s bridal shower is tomorrow. I volunteered to do a bit of baking for the event. I made a batch of Mocha Chip Biscotti (you MUST make this recipe!!!!) and then I cheated and broke into the Gluten Free Mixes From The Heartland I won a few weeks ago. I used the Raspberry Pound Cake mix and the Pineapple Pound Cake mix to make a few dozen mini-muffins. 
 The colors are so much fun and the mixes are super simple to use.
Then, I decided to break in my new French Bread Loaf pan! I was recently given a box of Gluten Free Pantry French Bread and Pizza mix. The loaves are in the oven as we speak. I will be sure to let you know how they turn out. I have high hopes!
Now, to take a serious turn…. 
I received a phone call a few days ago that outraged me. My life insurance company wanted to almost double my monthly payments because I “weigh less than the average person my height.” I’m sorry, but last time I checked the “average American” was overweight! Just because I do not fall within the norm does not mean I am unhealthy! I work out. I a good, whole food diet that sometimes includes desserts and french fries! The difference is, I make healthy choices and practice moderation! How is it that the insurance industry feels they can judge a persons health based simply on a skewed chart?…. It just makes me angry…. that’s all… thanks for listening…
To counteract my rant, it is time for a much needed Daily Dose of Dickens. Apparently he decided to join me in bed last night after I fell asleep. GF Guy was able to capture the moment!