Monthly Archives: September 2008

taco bar

Throughout summer and early fall, we have taco bar at our house a few times a month. Everyone loves it because the ingredients are put out,  and we all get to pick and choose our toppings. In the end, everyone is happy. It’s great for a Friday night dinner when it’s too much to prepare an elaborate spread. From a seasonal perspective, I think this may be one of the last taco bars of the year, because tomato, corn and pepper seasons are coming to a close. Besides being delicious, I love this dish for the main reason that every color of the nutritional rainbow is represented – so it’s a home run. You can make these tacos with chicken, ground beef, ground buffalo or ground turkey. If you don’t want meat as your filler, you can always make this a vegetarian meal with some rice and beans on the side.

For the meat: 

1 one pound package organic white meat ground turkey
1/2 white onion, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cayenne

For the (optional) toppings:

1 red pepper
1 orange pepper
1 green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
1 14 oz can Amy’s Traditional Refried Beans
1 tomato, diced or gluten free salsa of your choice
1 jalapeno, chopped finely
2 avocados, cubed
corn chips
rice (Spanish or cilantro lime)
corn (cut from the cob)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. While oven is heating, slice the 3 peppers into strips. Toss in a baking dish or shallow pan with olive oil, garlic and salt & pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
  3. While the peppers are roasting, measure out spices and set aside in a glass bowl. Set a skillet over medium heat and add the spice mixture. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the spices become fragrant. This is called “blooming” the spices. Remove spices from the skillet and set aside in a glass bowl. 
  4. Heat 2 tblsp olive oil in the skillet and add the onion. Saute for about 8 minutes. Add the meat. Stir occasionally to ensure all the pieces are broken up. 
  5. After about 5 minutes, sprinkle the spice mixture over the meat/onion mixture. Saute  for another 5 minutes.
  6. While the meat is simmering, prepare the toppings of your choice into small to medium size bowls in a “buffet style” set-up.

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Filed under dinner, main course

rustic pear apple tart

Yesterday, I was at the market. Pears were everywhere. Which means: fall has officially arrived!!! I bought four 3-pound bags. I couldn’t help myself. I thought I would continue on my preserving streak. That is, if the pears even make it into the freezer before we eat them all.  This morning, I thought it would be really fun for the kids and me to hunker down and make something quintessential autumn: pears and apple together in a tart. Because gluten free tart crusts can be quite temperamental, I decided to draw on my time living in France and make a cross between a standard tart and a clafoutis (pronounce clah-foo-TEA). Clafoutis has a custard-like tendency. But, if you make it using less liquid and eggs, it resembles a tart. They are wonderful. And they can handle the juiciness of these two fall fruits. After this came out of the oven (and I tasted it), I decided that this dessert will hold a special place at Thanksgiving this year…with vanilla ice cream, of course….

For the fruit mixture:

4 small pears, sliced thinly
2 medium apples, sliced thinly
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tblsp honey
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tblsp gluten free flour (all-purpose flour blend)

For the tart mixture:

4 ounces (just over 2/3 cup packed) ground almonds
3 ounces white rice flour (need help measuring? Go here).
3 ounces sweet rice flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup agave nectar
3/4 cup non-dairy milk

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Peel pears and apples and slice thinly. Toss in a bowl with honey, spices and flour. Set aside and let flavors meld while you’re preparing the tart mixture.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, grind almonds to a fine powder. Be careful not to grind too much or you end up with almond butter! Remove and set aside.
  4. Place eggs, milk, agave in the food processor bowl and pulse two times to combine. Add almonds and flours and pulse a few times more. The batter is a liquid – but it is on the thicker side. Transfer to a baking dish. (I used a piece of stoneware that had a lid).  Layer apple pear mixture over the batter. Using a knife, gently swirl the apples and pears into the batter (just so some pieces of fruit show through in the finished product).
  5. Bake 60 minutes covered. Remove lid. Bake an additional 10 minutes (so that the top browns). If you are using something without a lid – you may need to cover the tart with some foil to prevent too much browning on the top…

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banana peach smoothie

Organic peaches grow in the beautiful orchards out in Western Colorado and I bought a case of them. Which translates roughly into about 60 peaches. My goal was to preserve some so we could brighten a dreary winter day with some kind of peach treat. As such, last week I spent a few hours (ok more than a few) freezing peaches for the winter. I peeled them, cut them into thick slices,  placed them 2 inches apart on non-stick cookie sheets, covered them with Press n’ Seal – and into the freezer for about 2 hours.  Then from there , I divided the frozen peaches into about 6 gallon size “freezer guard” Ziploc bags. This morning, my children asked for a smoothie. Peaches and everything else into the blender and presto! Healthy and delicious breakfast. The avocado and banana really give this a creamy consistency, frozen peaches make it slightly chilled and you’re getting a big nutrition boost from all of it, especially the flax.  

2 cups of non-dairy milk
2 tblsp coconut milk
2 tblsp flax seed oil
1 banana
2 cups frozen peaches
1/2 avocado
2 tblsps raw honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in the blender except the cinnamon. Blend for about 15 seconds. Pour in cinnamon. Blend again for about 5 seconds. Serve. This made 1 adult serving and 4 child servings.

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cherry scones

I have battled for quite some time to come up with a really good gluten free, dairy free scone. Let me just say, my success rate has been about 1 percent. This morning, I decided to put my frustration aside and give it another shot. And, boy, am I glad I did. Victory. Finally!  In gluten free baking, I think it’s really important to measure flour in ounces – which I have done here. Starches are notorious for being untrue-to-measure. If you choose not to use these cherries (which are high in both vitamin A and folic acid), you can opt for raisins, dates, nuts or some other kind of dried fruit. Just be careful to choose something 1.) unsulphured and 2.) unsweetened or fruit juice sweetened. In a perfect world, I’d choose to make these with brown rice flour because of its higher nutrition and fiber value – but I’ve found that it is much too crumbly for scones. So, I’ve added in some flax seed meal to get us back on track. Side note: a kitchen scale is one of the best tools in gluten free baking. For some help with measuring equivalents: see the “dry measure equivalents” chart here.

10 oz white rice flour
2 oz tapioca flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
4 tblsp coconut sugar
2 tblsp golden flax seed meal
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup dried unsweetened tart cherries
2 eggs
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (if the dough is too dry you can add another 1-2 tblsp)

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with the applesauce. Set aside.
  3. Place the rice flour, tapioca, baking powder, gum, salt, sugar and flax in a large bowl. Stir to mix well.
  4. Add coconut butter, rubbing it into the flour mixture for several minutes until it begins to become a bit coarse. Add in the dried fruit so that it’s coated in flour.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix well. Place the mixture on some Silpat or a nonstick surface and, using your hands, knead the dough to so that it is well combined. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1 inch thick round. Using a cookie cutter of your choice, cut the scones and place them on a cookie sheet lined with unbleached parchment (or a rice flour dusted cookie sheet).
  6. Before baking, brush the tops of the scones with non-dairy milk or a slightly beaten egg.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.

Makes 10 large scones or about 18 small ones.

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Filed under baked goods, breakfast, brunch

amazing buckwheat cookies

Lately, I have been a little discouraged about the lack of decent gluten free/dairy free cookies on the market. I’ve tried most (if not all) at this point. Besides the trusty Arico lemon ginger cookies that I love and treat myself to every once in a while – it has remained a sad void. Not that I am a cookie hound. But, every so often a little bite size cookie satisfies.  After a little experimenting with a recently-posted-recipe from Heidi Swanson’s blog, I have to say my disappointment is no more. These are amazing….so healthy and wholesome. They also have a fantastic texture. It doesn’t hurt that they are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, sugar free, egg free and flour free. They can be “oatmeal” raisin or “oatmeal” chocolate chip – depending what kind of mood strikes you. Side note: I chose to use Buckwheat here because I am allergic to quinoa. But, I am certain quinoa flakes would work equally well. Likewise, if you tolerate certified gluten free oats – even better!

3 medium ripe bananas, well mashed with a fork
1 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquefied or slightly melted
1 tblsp honey
1 cup uncooked Cream of Buckwheat cereal
2/3 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/3 to 1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips, organic raisins, or Dagoba 59% cacao dark chocolate bar chopped (this particular chocolate bar IS gluten free).

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for at least 15 minutes, racks in the top third of the oven.
  2. In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla, coconut oil, honey and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl whisk together the buckwheat, almonds, shredded coconut, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mash with a fork until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips or raisins. Let sit for about 10 minutes to allow the buckwheat to soften.
  4. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 tablespoons in size onto an unbleached parchment paper (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Be sure to check the bottom doesn’t burn – it should be slightly browned when you lift up the cookie with a spatula. We’re over 5,000 feet in altitude here in Colorado – and it took exactly 17 minutes in my oven…but things always take longer to bake/cook at altitude.

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dr. weil’s ginger root tea

It is only September and we somehow have been hit with our first cold. My children were the lucky initial recipients. Then, naturally, I feel it coming on…a bit of a sore throat…fatigue…watery itchy eyes….as soon as I ascertain that I am “getting the cold” I whip up a batch of this trusty ginger root tea and I prevent the whole thing from even happening. It’s truly amazing to wake up the next morning feeling like the whole thing is gone. I don’t have permission to reprint such a recipe….but I must say that it is truly amazing…it has never failed me….please see the recipe here. While the entire .pdf is worth reading – because it gives tips on how to treat your entire family during cold season – the recipe itself is listed on page 4. Dr. Weil is a legend. He is trained in Western medicine but utlizes more of an Eastern (holistic) approach to mind and body.  The ingredients are incredibly effective against cold and flu: they are warming, anti-viral foods with a hit of vitamin C thrown in for good measure. Perfect for giving your body an immune boost when it needs it most.

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potato and kale soup

Even though it is technically still summertime, the last few days have been chilly for September. As such, my body has been instinctively craving hearty soups. At the farmers market this morning, I just bought two things: kale and fingerling potatoes. I got started making the soup and the house was filled with the most amazing aroma. This was the first time I’ve made this particular soup despite the fact that it’s been on my “to try” list for quite some time. Trust me, this is so delicious, I will be going back to this soup again and again. This recipe is adapted from Alice Water’s outstanding tome The Art of Simple Food.

2 medium onions, small diced
3 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper
1 lb fingerling potatoes, cut into small 1/4″ chunks
1 large bunch kale (you can use any type that you wish – I used Lacinato)
5 cups gluten free chicken broth (you could use vegetable broth here)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 15 oz can organic drained and rinsed white beans (cannellini or navy)

  1. Add olive oil to a soup pot. Dice onions and saute in oil until tender – just about 10-12 minutes. Add the minced garlic. And add in a good pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper. Stir and cook for no more than 3 minutes, being careful not the brown the garlic.
  2. Add chopped potatoes and kale. Stir and let cook down for 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the stock. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Using a measuring cup, remove 1 1/2 cups of soup (broth AND ingredients) and place it in the blender. Add coconut milk and pulse for about 10 seconds. Return this pureed soup back to the pot. Stir to combine. Add the beans, stir, ladle into bowls and serve.

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Filed under dinner, lunch, main course, soups