Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year from Domestic Divas Blog!

Say goodbye to 2013!

This has been a great year filled with food and wine and friends. I just want to take a moment to raise a glass and thank you for supporting my blog and cooking and sharing my recipes. 

Plenty more goodness to come in 2014...

Stay tuned!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Potato & Bell Pepper Soup (Vegan Puree)

Only a week until we leave for Xmas...

Can't believe how fast the holidays have snuck up?

Well, you're not alone. It's going to be 80 degrees in LA today (don't hate us!). But we did have a record cold snap last week. And when the weather turns colder, I turn to making soups. They're the ultimate comfort food.

This soup is a modified potato soup. It's a vegan puree, yet still wonderfully creamy thanks to the potatoes and olive oil. The twist is that I add bell peppers to the mix. They bring great flavor and lots of health benefits, too.

Enjoy... and when next I write I'll be in Floyd, Virginia cooking away...

Potato & Bell Pepper Soup (Vegan Puree)
Serves 4-6 people
Vegan; gluten-free

6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 yellow, orange, or red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
bundle of two or three fresh rosemary sprigs tied with string
4 cups low sodium vegetable (to make it vegan) or chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
more rosemary sprigs for garnishing (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent and beginning to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Then add the potatoes, bell peppers, chicken stock, and rosemary bundle. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the soup for about 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

2. Remove the soup from the heat and pull out the rosemary sprigs. Puree the soup in batches until smooth, or use an immersion blender to puree it in the pot. Note: more stock may be added to achieve desired consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

3. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish the soup with fresh rosemary sprigs, drizzle with good olive oil, and finish with freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gluten Free Berry Cobbler (Happy Thanksgiving)!

Happy Thanksgiving from Des Moines!

I'm here for the week, enjoying the cold weather and getting ready to cook later this week. What is everyone planning to make this year?

On my dessert menu is this Gluten Free Berry Cobbler. I made it the other week with fresh blackberries and raspberries, and it turned out super yummy. It's also a great way to use your frozen summer berries (just defrost and drain them). Serve it with vanilla ice cream for the perfect dessert.

I did use butter in my recipe, but no dairy. If you'd like to make this dessert vegan, simply use shortening or Earth Balance baking sticks instead of butter.

And don't forget to check out my Recipe Archive for Thanksgiving recipe ideas.

Gluten Free Berry Cobbler
Makes 9 servings
Gluten-free; easy to make vegan

Berry filling:
4 cups berries (I used a mixture of blackberries and raspberries; if using frozen berries, defrost and drain first)
1/2 cup sugar (use more or less depending on how sweet your berries are and how sweet you like your cobbler)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch or gluten free all purpose flour for thickening

Cobbler topping:
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I like the King Arthur brand)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter or shortening
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (you can use regular milk too)
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. To make the filling, place the berries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon, and cornstarch or flour in a bowl and mix together until berries are coated evenly with sugar. Remember, you can use more or less sugar depending on how tart the berries are (do a taste test) and how sweet you like your cobblers. Let sit for about 30 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the cobbler topping, in a medium sized bowl whisk together 3 tablespoons of sugar, the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter or shortening with a fork or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the egg and milk until the batter is just moistened.

3. Butter a pyrex dish and transfer the berry mixture to it. Drop large spoonfuls of the batter over the top of the berries. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the berries are bubbly and the top is browned. Enjoy!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quick Curried Carrot Soup (Vegan)

I've been in a soup-making mode...

I love it for lunch. I love it for dinner. Leftover the next day?

Even better as the flavors soak together. I've been into vegan purees lately using my immersion blender. I swear there's nothing easier to have in your cooking repertoire than vegan purees. They're so tasty—so seemingly fancy—yet so simple that they impress at dinner parties.

Feeling a little under the weather?

Soups are healing for the throat and the winter-weary soul.

Another great tip?

Serve them with a quick cast iron skillet cornbread. I make mine gluten-free and with fresh blackberries (frozen would work great too). Soup and cornbread are a hearty, healthy complete meal.

I almost always have bags of baby carrots in my fridge. They're a great snack, especially with hummus. But they're also great roasted (check out my recipe for Honey Rosemary Baby Carrots) or pureed into a quick soup. Of course, you can use normal-sized carrots too. It's just a bit more prep work peeling and chopping them. The only other big ingredient is a bit of curry powder. The spicy, gingery flavor gives this soup and little bit of added flare. It also comes out of the pantry.

I make this soup all the time. It's basically one of my pantry staples. So I thought I'd finally photograph and write it up for you lovely readers.

You can also swap out carrots for butternut squash in this recipe for a different sort of soup. A great tip—Trader Joe's sells peeled and cubed butternut squash that takes the work out of the prep.

Serve with Gluten Free Blackberry Cornbread

Quick Curried Carrot Soup (Vegan)
Serves 4 to 6 people
Cooking time: about 25 minutes
Vegan; gluten-free

1 pound baby carrots
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon curry powder (or more to taste)
1 bunch fresh thyme tied together with kitchen twine or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
good olive oil for drizzling

1. Place the carrots, garlic cloves, stock, and thyme into a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

2. Remove from heat and fish out the bunch of thyme if using fresh thyme. Stir in the curry powder and maple syrup. Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender, or transfer to a regular blender and puree in batches. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Note: more stock or water may be added to achieve desired consistency.

3. To serve ladle the soup into bowels and drizzle with good olive oil. If desired garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Enjoy!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gluten Free Blackberry Cornbread

I use Grammarly for proofreading because I'd rather be proofing dough than proofing blog posts.

For this Monday, I thought I'd share my recipe for Gluten Free Blackberry Cornbread. Over the weekend, inspiration struck. I wanted something with dinner that felt decadent with my blackberries, but not too dessert-like. 

Adding them to cornbread baked in my cast iron skillet seemed like the perfect match. This cornbread works great as a side dish to any meal, but especially chili or soups. The leftover slices are yummy for breakfast the next day too.

Gluten Free Blackberry Cornbread
Prep time: 10 minutes; Baking time: 25 minutes
Serves about 4-6 people
Gluten free; vegetarian

1 cup gluten free cornmeal
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 cup milk or unsweetened almond or rice milk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh blackberries

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder). In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Then mix in the maple syrup, milk, and olive oil with the egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined, but be careful not to over beat the mix. Fold in the blackberries.

3. Grease a pyrex dish or cast iron skillet. Pour the mix into the dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve with butter. Enjoy!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Sauce

Fall cooking inspiration is hitting full force.

The summer is subsiding, but preserved summer fruit is still a great cooking option. Some dear friends sent us a Zingerman's care package with their award-winning Apricot Jam. I knew immediately that I had to pair this silky jam with with pork. The zesty, fruity flavors would perfectly complement the rich meat.

I love organic pork tenderloin, both because it's a lean and healthy source of protein, but also because it's mouthwateringly delicious. I rubbed the tenderloin with some blackened seasoning, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, then seared it on the stovetop, before roasting it in the oven.

After it had reached a perfect medium rare, I let it rest for a few minutes and then sliced it, topping it with a quick sauce I whipped up from the apricot jam and some apple cider vinegar. I served the sliced medallions of tender pork over stone ground grits (from Trader Joe's) made with the last of summer's fresh sweet corn and crumbled goat cheese. The resulting dish was fabulous.

Rich, sweet, tangy—very fall-like.


Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Sauce
Serves 2 people
Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Gluten-free; dairy-free

1 pork tenderloin (about a pound)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, stems removed
1 teaspoon blackened seasoning
2 tablespoons grapeseed or macadamia nut oil (for high heat cooking)
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Rub the pork with the thyme and blackened seasoning and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil over high heat in a pan that can transfer to the oven. Quickly sear the pork tenderloin on all sides.

3. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the tenderloin for about 20 minutes for medium doneness (or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the apricot sauce by adding the jam and apple cider vinegar to a small pan. Dilute the jam with a little water if needed to make a saucy texture, depending on the consistency of the jam. Warm the sauce gently over medium heat and check seasoning, adding a little more vinegar if it's too sweet.

4. To serve, slice the pork tenderloin into medallions and divide them between two places. Spoon the apricot sauce over the top. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Honey Rosemary Baby Carrots

Happy September... though it doesn't feel like fall here at all. It still feels like the peak of summer in Southern California. Even so, I've been wanting to eat more fall flavors.

What's more fall-like than root vegetables?

I roasted baby carrots with olive oil and sprigs of rosemary, and then tossed them with a smidgeon of honey. The resulting dish, though simple, was quite wonderful. The sweet honey and herbaceous rosemary flavors really compliment the tender carrots. This little side dish is sure to impress, perfect for the fall season and for the upcoming winter holidays.

Honey Rosemary Roasted Baby Carrots
Serves 4 people
Cooking time: about 20 minutes
Vegetarian; gluten-free

1 pound baby carrots (1 bag)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon honey

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Toss the carrots with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet with rosemary sprigs. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until tender and browned.

3. Remove from the oven and pick out the rosemary sprigs (you may use them for garnishing if desired). Toss the carrots with honey. Check seasoning (salt and pepper). Enjoy!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup (Vegan)

When it's time to beat the summer heat, I love cold soups. Recently, my mother—the Original Diva—harvested a basket of heirloom cucumbers and tomatoes from her garden in Virginia.

While chatting on the phone about what to do with them, I suggested a vegan chilled cucumber soup. After some googling, I came across a fabulous-looking recipe on the popular food blog, Pickles & Honey for Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup. I emailed it over to my mother.

The next day, my mom whipped it up, and the results as reported back to me were fabulous. The avocado gives this vegan soup a creamy texture. It's the perfect dish for summer. I plan to make it myself this week.

Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup 
Vegan; gluten-free
Adapted from Pickles & Honey
Serves 4 people
Prep time: 1 hour 5 minutes (includes chilling the soup)

1 pound organic cucumbers, roughly chopped
2 small avocados, peele and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon seas salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
chopped tomato & cilantro (for garnishing/optional)

1. Place the cucumbers, avocados, lime juice, water, sea salt, and pepper into a blender. Process until smooth. Taste and add more salt/pepper if needed.

2. Transfer to a large bowl or tupperware and chill in the fridge for at least an hour prior to serving.

3. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the tomatoes and cilantro. Enjoy!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Gazpacho with Feta (Gluten Free)

Summer is in full swing... and tomatoes are coming on strong.

(So is corn by the way... check out my corn on the cob recipe in Parade Magazine)

I just celebrated my birthday over the weekend (the big 34) with a low key celebration. My hubby got me some fantastic gifts. Caught the horror film The Conjuring (I'm a sucker for a scary movie) and dinner at a little place called Rascal (I'm obsessed with their curry flavored tater tots). I can't believe it's already August—this year has flown by!

When the temperatures soars, I love to make chilled gazpacho. Traditionally prepared with bread, this recipe forgoes that glutenous ingredient. I just blend fresh vegetables with a little balsamic vinegar and serve it with extra virgin olive oil and feta cheese for the perfect summer treat.

Summer Gazpacho with Feta (Gluten Free)
Serves 4 people
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus about one hour chilling time)
Vegetarian; gluten-free

4 cups tomatoes, quartered
1 cup cucumbers, roughly chopped
2 bell peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 jalapeño, halved and seeded (optional)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

for garnishing:
extra virgin olive oil
feta cheese (I prefer goat's milk feta)
fresh cracked pepper

1. Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, jalapeño, red onion, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil in a blender and puree until combined but still a little chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

2. Chill the soup for at least an hour in the refrigerator (may be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge).
3. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Crumble some feta cheese on top and drizzle with olive oil. Finish with a little fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer Peach Crisp (Gluten Free)

I'm back from steamy Chicago (where I caught Pearl Jam at Wrigley... a crazy yet epic night)!

Summer is in full swing, if the soaring temperatures are any indication. Peaches—favorite summertime fruit—are filling up the farmers market stands. Having recently gone fully gluten free, I decided to bake up a peach crisp without regular flour. The results were just as delicious—tart, rich, crispy, and accompanied by creamy vanilla ice cream. For a quick short cut to peeling peaches, I recommend blanching them first. This loosens the skins and makes them a cinch to peel.

This easy dessert is perfect for summertime.


Summer Peach Crisp (Gluten Free)
Serves 4-6 people
Baking time: 45 minutes

8 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Place the peaches in a greased 8-in square baking dish.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, mix the butter into the flour mixture until it forms pea-sized crumbles. Sprinkle the mixture in an even layer over the top of the peaches.

4. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, until the peaches are bubbling and the top is browned. Some gluten-free flours won't brown as much as regular flours. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy 4th of July: Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

I can't believe it's already July!

The heat has certainly hit Southern California hard. Soaring temperatures. Even humidity. Of course, we're better off than a lot of the country. My heart goes out to the firefighters in Arizona. On a more upbeat note, go see the movie The Heat... it rocked my world this weekend and got me out of my sweltering house. We need to support movies that 1) aren't sequels and 2) star women.

They're like unicorns and leprechauns these days.

My brother is visiting this week from Houston, and I was musing on what to cook for a 4th of July BBQ, when I remembered this little gem of a recipe for Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Salsa. It's summer and peaches are finally in season. The sweetness and acidity cuts through the richness of the pork perfectly. A little pop of heat from jalapeños. Some herby action with tarragon or basil.

It really is a perfect summer dish.

Enjoy your holiday...

Click here for the link to my recipe for Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gluten Free Honey Cornbread

I spent the weekend on a girls trip to San Diego. Getting out of town, spending time with friends, making new ones, stunning California weather, some pool time, some going out time, grilling up my Spicy Herbed Turkey Burgers...

But now I'm back!

Today I thought I'd share my recipe for Gluten Free Honey Cornbread. I bake my cornbread up in my cast iron skillet and often serve it with braised chicken stew or chili for a satisfying meal. It's also great leftover for breakfast with eggs.

Need I say more? It's cornbread people...


Gluten Free Honey Cornbread
Prep time: 10 minutes; Baking time: 25 minutes
Serves about 4-6 people

1 cup gluten free cornmeal
1 cup gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup honey
1 egg
1 cup milk or unsweetened almond or rice milk
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder). In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Then mix the honey, milk, and olive oil with the egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until combined, but be careful not to over beat the mix.

3. Grease a pyrex dish or cast iron skillet. Pour the mix into the dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve with butter and fruit preserves. Enjoy!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Spicy Herbed Turkey Burgers

Happy Memorial Day!

A quiet weekend in the canyon with my husband and my dog. Sometimes a staycation is just what the doctor ordered—time to reflect, catch up, do a bit of work, and yes—cook.

In honor of this holiday, I thought I'd share my recipe for Spicy Herbed Turkey Burgers. I love making them for summer dinner parties and serving them with with a grilled vegetable platter. I'll also be making them for a friend's bachelorette party next month by special request. For the ground turkey, I prefer a mix of white and dark meat, but there's no hard and fast rule.

For the gluten-free variation, you can buy gluten free buns (Udi's Gluten Free Classic Hamburger Buns pictured above). They also taste great without a bun for a lighter meal. I used gluten free breadcrumbs in place of regular in the burger mix. Most stores like Whole Foods carry a variety of GF options, or you can make your own. I do this sometimes. It's quite satisfying and a good use of old bread.

And these turkey burgers are great leftover.

Need I say more?


The grassfed beef version can be found here

My chickpea quinoa veggie burgers can be found here

Spicy Herbed Turkey Burgers
Serves 3-4 people
Cooking time: about 25 minutes
    1 pound ground turkey
    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
    1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro, etc.)
    1 egg, beaten
    2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    salt and freshly ground pepper
    4 slices of sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

    for serving
    1 cup wild rocket arugula
    mustard of your choosing
    Kosher pickles
    4 buns (Udi's Gluten Free Classic Hamburger Buns pictured)

    1. Preheat cast iron griddle or grill.

    2. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, egg, spices, herbs, and breadcrumbs. Add a generous pinch of salt and some pepper. Mix well with your hands. Divide the mixture into four parts and shape into patties. Brush with the olive oil.

    4. Either cook stovetop in a cast iron griddle or on the grill, flipping once, until cooked through (about 2-3 minutes per side depending on thickness).

    5. Once just cooked through, top the burgers with cheese if using and allow it to melt. Note: you may place the cast iron pan under the broiler to fully melt the cheese if needed.

    6. To serve, place each patty on a toasted bun. Top each with some arugula. Garnish with pickles, ketchup, and mustard as desired. Enjoy!

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    Fox News Features My Recipe For Chickpea Quinoa Burgers

    So I woke up this morning... and checked my blog traffic.

    It was a tad elevated, so I checked where people were coming from and realized that Fox News is featuring my recipe for Chickpea Quinoa Veggie Burgers on their website. It's also been featured by Meatless Monday and was included in their Meatless Burger E-Cookbook. The version published here is vegan, but feel free to add one egg white to the mix in order to bind them together better.

    And if you feel up to it... hop over and help get the rating up on the recipe!

    I guess people aren't loving the meatless burger concept over there?

    Here's the link to my recipe on Fox News!

    Monday, April 29, 2013

    Product Reviews: EVOL Gluten-Free Burritos & Essentia Water

    As a food blogger, I get offered lots of products to sample. I'm picky though. I only accept products that fit the mission of this blog—and I only write about the ones that I love. So today, I thought I'd break from my normal recipe posting to let you know about two of my recent favorites.


    First up, a company called EVOL sent me a variety of their frozen Gluten-Free bowls and burritos to sample. Unlike many frozen products, these bowls and burritos fit within my eating parameters. Real ingredients that I can pronounce, dairy-free in many cases, gluten-free, natural products, compostable packaging. Oh, and they were really taste. I loved that the Chicken Burrito came with a hefty packet of guacamole. These were quick to heat up and tasty in a pinch.

    But even more than the burritos, I loved the bowls. My favorite flavors were the Bean & Cheddar Enchilada Bake, Fire Grilled Steak, and best of all, the Chicken Enchilada Bake. All these bowls are high in protein and fiber, and importantly, gluten-free. They carry EVOL products at Whole Foods Market, Costco, Kroger, Safeway, and Publix, among other retailers.

    For more information on EVOL:
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/evolfoods
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/EVOLfoods


    The other product that I've tried recently and loved is Essentia Water. While there are many bottled water products available, the difference with this water is the pH. This water has a pH of 9.5.

    Essentia is different from other high pH brands and the enhanced waters that simply add minerals to their water. Essentia removes acidic ions and increases the alkaline earth minerals resulting in an optimal higher pH of 9.5 and therefore faster hydration. Drinking Essentia can neutralize the body’s acidic condition and restores it to a more balanced state. High acidity can result in loss bone density, muscle and strength and can impact critical organs like the kidneys. 

    My mother first got me interested in alkaline water when she added special filters to her house, but since I live in a rental property, that wasn't really an option for me. So that's why I jumped at the chance to sample this water. I'll be drinking it regularly from now on.

    More more information:

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Blueberry Coconut Breakfast Quinoa (Gluten Free)

    As my adventures in gluten-free eating continue, I was craving an oatmeal-esque breakfast.

    I'd heard of quinoa being used as a gluten-free breakfast hot cereal, so I decided to give it a shot. Quinoa is packed with protein and has a great, nutty flavor. I cooked mine with rice milk (though you could use regular milk or even water). In the last five minutes of cooking, I stirred in dried blueberries and cinnamon. I served it with chopped walnuts, toasted coconut, and maple syrup. 

    However, you could try many different variations. The resulting dish was delicious and super filling. A nice change of pace from the usual breakfast suspects.

    Blueberry Coconut Breakfast Quinoa

    Serves 2 people
    Cooking time: about 20 minutes
    Gluten-free; vegan


    1 cup quinoa, rinsed
    2 cups water or rice milk
    1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 cup dried blueberries 
    1 tablespoon toasted coconut
    2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
    maple syrup for serving


    1. In a saucepan, bring water or rice milke to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until three quarters of the liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes). 

    2. Stir in the dried blueberries and cinnamon. Cook for another five minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. 

    3. Spoon into two bowls and top with chopped walnuts, toasted coconut, and maple syrup. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Coconut Macaroons (Gluten Free)

    My adventures in gluten free eating continue.

    I'm fresh off a trip to Vegas, where I stayed at the Encore (part of the Wynn) and also the most gluten-free friendly place I've ever been. They had gluten-free menus at every single restaurant in both hotels. That removed a lot of the stress of traveling. I also had a fabulous meal at Cut Las Vegas. The wait staff and chef were also super-accommodating to my dietary restrictions.

    One reader wrote in to ask if I'd noticed any health benefits from my strict gluten-free eating. And
    the short answer is—yes! My gums and skin are much healthier. It's been almost three months, and just this week I feel like I'm turning a corner. My sinuses are finally clearing up. In full disclosure, I've been eating mostly dairy-free also (a little cheese here and there). I've also been working with a holistic allergist to rebalance my system. My first treatment was two weeks ago.

    I've read that gluten antibodies can stay in your system for three to four months (that's so crazy!), and gluten is now in about eighty percent of food. Even so, it's never been easier to be gluten-free with so many products now available. However, it's still important to read labels (gluten-free does not mean it's healthy). But I'm still on some medications and not 100%. I plan to visit my allergist again in a week or two for another treatment and to continue to work to improve my health.

    Before I left for Vegas, I baked a batch of my mother's Coconut Macaroons. Not only was it Passover, but I knew that making them gluten-free was an exceptionally easy modification that wouldn't alter the taste. They only require two teaspoons of flour per a huge batch. I'd also been wanting to play around with King Arthur's gluten free products. I used their Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. They're also dairy-free (and I usually try to avoid dairy when possible).

    Mostly these addictive little nuggets are made with coconut, organic sugar, and organic egg whites. They can be served with dark chocolate for dipping and/or fresh berries. Thanks to my mother for the recipe! Everybody loved them!

    Coconut Macaroons

    makes about thirty macaroons
    baking time: about 15 min. per batch
    gluten-free; dairy-free

    4 egg whites, whipped to soft peaks
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    2 teaspoons gluten-free flour
    14 ounces shredded coconut

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add egg whites to a stand mixer, or whisk by hand, until they have soft peaks. Then add the sugar and flour, mixing into the egg whites, followed by the coconut.

    2. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spoon one tablespoon mounds of the mixture. Bake them for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until nicely toasted. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn on the bottoms. Using a spatula, transfer to a rack or plate to cool.

    3. Serve with dark chocolate dipping sauce and/or fresh berries and whipped cream. Enjoy!

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Black Bean Spinach Pepper Potatoes

    Wishing you a delicious Monday!

    Ever have leftover baked potatoes and wonder what to do with them?

    They just sit around unhappily in the fridge.

    This happens frequently in my household. I love to fry them up in my cast iron skillet with spinach, bell peppers and black beans. I often top this hash with salsa for a delicious vegan lunch. It's also great with a sunny side up egg for breakfast, or served with fish or meat for dinner. You can whip this dish up from scratch by simply precooking some potatoes in the microwave or oven first. 

    Black Bean Spinach Pepper Potatoes

    Serves 2 people
    Gluten-free; vegan
    Cooking time: about 15 minutes


    1 large russet potato, cooked and chopped
    1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
    3 cups baby spinach
    1 14 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    salt and freshly ground pepper
    salsa for garnishing (optional)
    fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)


    1. In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cumin reduce the heat to medium. Saute for one minute until fragrant. Add the peppers and potatoes and cook until the peppers are beginning to soften (about three to four minutes). 

    2. Add the baby spinach and quickly wilt. Fold in the beans and cook for another few minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    3. Serve topped with fresh salsa or chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

    Monday, March 4, 2013

    Sausage, Zucchini & Bell Pepper Pasta (Gluten-Free)

    Happy Monday!

    The gluten-free journey continues, and so far I feel much healthier. Though I'd been pretty strictly gluten-free when I started this blog, I'd fallen off the wagon, and consequently, my health suffered. BIG TIME. So I'm back to to it and no more shortcuts this time—I've seen the light!

    I'm sure you've heard the news about the Mediterranean diet's health benefits and how it could ward off thirty percent of heart attacks and strokes, so I thought I'd share a gluten-free pasta recipe. In today's world there are so many great options for gluten-free folks, including lots of pasta choices. For this recipe, I used an organic brown rice rotini from Trader Joe's.

    This yummy recipe is simple to make and super yummy with no gluten or dairy (cheese). I saute chicken sausage (organic Italian variety from Applegate that's gluten-free) with zucchini and orange bell pepper. I toss the sausage-vegetable mixture with the cooked pasta and top with just a little chopped parsley (basil would be great, too). The resulting dish is healthier than many traditional pasta recipes, but just as satisfying. I might even make it for dinner again tonight.

    Sausage, Zucchini & Bell Pepper Pasta (Gluten-Free)

    Serves 4 people
    Cooking time: about 25 minutes
    Gluten-free; dairy-free


    1 package gluten-free pasta (such as the organic brown rice rotini from Trader Joe's)
    1 package Italian sausage (Applegate makes a good gluten-free variety)
    1 orange, yellow, or red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
    2 cups zucchini, chopped
    1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped plus more for garnishing
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    salt and freshly ground pepper


    1. Bowl water for the pasta and cook according to package directions.

    2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and reduce heat to medium. Saute for one minute. Add the zucchini and bell pepper and cook until beginning to soften (about five minutes). Add the sausage and cook for two minutes, until heated through (the sausage should come precooked, but if not then make sure to cook first). Stir in the parsley and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

    3. Toss the sausage-vegetable mixture with the pasta, adding a little pasta water and/or olive oil if needed to keep moist. Garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy!

    Monday, February 18, 2013

    Chili-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin (Sous Vide)

    Happy President's Day!

    Just took the Adorable Monster out for his morning jaunt and fed him his kibble (poor thing doesn't eat human food). I may hit the farmer's market this morning and maybe do a little shopping with some friends. Dinner is still up in the air—any suggestions?

    Was thinking of maybe making mussels and fries. Yum yum yum.

    In the meantime, here's one of my favorite sous vide recipes I've made using my Sous Vide SupremeChili-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin. This dish was inspired by the restaurant Salt's Cure in Los Anegeles, which does a killer chili-rubbed braised pork shoulder over stone ground grits. I decided to cook a version of it with pork tenderloin and cooked sous vide, although this recipe could easily be made with conventional cooking methods as well.

    I served it with an Apple-Ginger Relish (recipe here) and over stone ground grits. It can be plated individually, or served family style as I did for New Year's Eve.

    Chili-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin (Sous Vide)

    Serves 2 people
    Prep time: 15 minutes; Sous Vide Cooking Time: 2.5 hours
    Gluten-free; dairy-free


    1 pork tenderloin (cut into two pieces/logs)
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    2 pats of butter
    salt and pepper
    2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (for searing)


    1. Fill the Sous Vide Supreme with water and preheat to 135-140 degrees, depending on desired degree of doneness (135 = medium rare and my preference, 140 = medium).

    2. Meanwhile, rub the pork chops with the chili powder, salt, and pepper. Place each piece of pork tenderloin into a separate plastic bag with a pat of better. Vacuum seal both bags.

    3. Once the Sous Vide Supreme has reached the proper temperature (hint—filling it up with hot water will help it heat up faster), place the pork tenderloin bags in the water bath, making sure that the meat is submerged and that the bags are not touching each other. Cook the pork tenderloin in the Sous Vide Supreme for about two hours to reach pasteurization (though it can stay in longer).

    4. Remove the pork tenderloin from the Sous Vide Supreme and cut open the bags to remove the meat. In a saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Quickly, sear the pork tenderloin on all sides until nicely caramelized (about 1 minute per side). Remove from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

    5. To plate, layer the slices and top with the Apple-Ginger Relish. Enjoy!

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    My Bookshelf: "Wheat Belly" by William Davis, MD

    Let me start by saying that I have tons of great recipes to write up, already cooked, already photographed. Let me continue by saying that I'm crunched for time right now.

    It's a high class problem.

    My agents LOVE my new book. That's super duper awesome. It means that my novel will be going on submission to publishers (it's young adult science fiction in case you're curious). I'm very proud of the book and hope it will find a great home. It's also responsible for my time crunch. My agents gave me a set of notes, so I'm working hard to turn around revisions in a timely manner. 

    Adding to the pile, we've just attached a director to my romantic comedy script. So right after the book, I'll be rolling right into revisions on that project.

    Like I said—a high class problem.

    I promise to get back to posting recipes on a regular schedule soon (and I have hundreds of recipes in my archives). In the meantime, I thought I'd share this book that's rocking my world—WHEAT BELLY by William Davis, MD. I suspect that I harbor a wheat intolerance (and that's the reason why this blog is largely gluten-free, with some exceptions that can easily be adapted). 

    But recently, I'd allowed wheat (mostly in it's whole grain form) to creep back into my diet. It happened slowly and then suddenly, and I've found myself with health problems that I used to experience back in my wheat-eating days (sinus issues, fatigue, insomnia, etc.). Now I can't say definitively that they're caused by wheat, but I'm going back on a strict gluten-free regimen to see if it helps. 

    While pursuing that, I came across this bestelling book and picked it up. The author makes the argument that the genetically-altered strain of wheat that we call "modern" wheat has crept into almost every aspect of the American diet and causes a litany of health problems, most notably the obesity he calls "wheat belly." Of course, I've known this for years, but he puts the pieces together with a well-researched history of wheat. I also learned that whole wheat bread is just as high on the glycemic index as white bread, and even HIGHER than sugar. Uh, what?!

    Of course, there's a lot of nuance to the argument, but the proof is in the pudding. The author is a cardiologist who notes that when his patients go on a wheat-free diet, they lose weight, their blood pressure and blood sugar go back to normal levels, and they can get off their medications.

    He also has a blog that many people like—Wheat Belly Blog.

    I'll report back on my GF experiment. 

    And here's the link to the book if you'd like to purchase it from Amazon.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    New Restaurant Opening: Smashburger Debuts in LA!

    Smashburger has opened in LA.

    Already excited for this restaurant, I jumped when my invitation arrived to be one of the lucky food bloggers to sample the entire menu on a warm, sunny January day. The location is technically in Culver City (the other Southern California location is in Thousand Oaks).

    Let's just start with the Smashburger itself. Juicy, tender, great seasoning—the burger lived up to its reputation. I sampled Classic Burger with Smashburger Fries (start with the basics). The favorite burger was the L.A.—made with crispy wonton, fried egg, cilantro, cucumber, and ginger dressing.

    We were invited to view the special process as demonstrated by Tom Ryan, the CEO and Chief Concept Officer. The ground beef is loosely packed (and not put through a traditional meat grinder). The key part of the process is when the meat is "smashed" with a patented press.

    It's then generously seasoned with a salt and pepper mixture.

    Sweet Potato Fries
    Other highlights of the menu included the Sweet Potato Fries. If you're craving something healthier, you can do a side of "Veggie Frites"—flash-fried carrot sticks and green beans. Very tasty.

    Fresh Mex Veggie Black Bean Burger
    If you're not in the mood for beef, the chicken options are stellar. The chicken breast is pounded thin and marinated. Any burger option can be made with chicken instead. And if you're hoping for a vegetarian option, the Fresh Mex Veggie Black Bean Burger was awesome. The biggest surprise, considering that Smashburger is known for being burger restaurant, was the quality of the salads. If you're hoping for something on the lighter side, try the Baja Cobb and add the chicken.

    I loved the burger, but the milkshakes made my day. Using Haagan-Dazs ice cream, I loved both the vanilla and the strawberry. Malts are also available in tempting flavors like Butterfinger and Chai. There's also an IBC Root Beer Float.

    Vanilla Shake
    So if you're in the neighborhood, or looking for a fun foodie field trip, check on the new Smashburger in Culver City (Los Angeles, CA). And now I'm hungry...

    Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Smashburger, but received no compensation and the opinions expressed here are my own.