Sunday, April 7, 2013


I am a lifelong fan of macaroni and cheese, by which I do mean the real stuff, with cream and butter and shocking amounts of shredded cheese of all kinds. I am particularly fond of macaroni and cheese with a kick so smoky hot paprika and chopped pickled jalapeños often make their way into my beautiful old Pyrex casserole dishes.

Unfortunately, as I get older and my body adjusts to no longer being in a raging hyperthyroid state due to Graves' Disease I am no longer able to eat endless amounts of creamy, cheesy deliciousness. Suddenly those recipes calling for pounds of different cheeses just aren't looking so good or sitting so well. In recent months I've been drawn to versions of my favorite meal that, while still comforting and substantial, are likelier to be a bit lighter and contain more vegetables to offset the richness and up the nutrition. And of course thee days I use gluten free pasta. My favorite is a corn-quinoa blend made by Ancient Harvest which is an improvement over wheat-based pasta in terms of protein, fiber, and vitamins.

I'll be sharing a few of my new favorites with you in upcoming posts but I'm starting with this recipe for Pasta with Cauliflower in a Spicy Pink Sauce which I found on the Saveur website. The only changes I made were to use gluten free pasta (and next time I would use larger tubes rather than the tiny shells I had on hand) and to substitute half and half for heavy cream. As you can see from the ingredients, this hardly qualifies as spa cuisine, but it does sit more easily in my system than a flour thickened, super cheesy macaroni and the addition of the cauliflower, tomatoes, and chilies bring a good dose of vitamins to the dish. Plus this stuff is great! While the kids weren't sold on it, the adults in the house couldn't get enough. Add a fresh salad and you've got yourself a nice, easy meal full of flavor. I haven't tried it yet but I am guessing this dish would freeze and reheat well and, as the authors recommend baking the pasta in smaller dishes, you could certainly tuck a couple away, well wrapped, in your freezer for a dinner emergency or a friend who could use a meal.

What about you? Are you a mac and cheese lover? Do you have a favorite variation? Do tell!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

School's Out and I'm back

 I am delighted to report that I  just finished a very intense 13 months in a graduate program during which my time was at a premium. A lot of things had to go, including food blogging. To be honest, I didn't do a whole lot of cooking and most of what I made wasn't all that remarkable. The whole purpose of my shiny new M. Ed. is to pick up more teaching hours but my hope is that even with additional work I will once again have time for things like reading for pleasure, taking photos, and blogging (not to mention spending time with family and friends-imagine that!). After months hunched over my desk alone in our chilly basement, it sounds like heaven.

We were invited to brunch this morning and I decided it was time to remake one of my old favorites in gluten free form. I got the recipe for blintz soufflé from an old Internet friend and there are many versions to be found on various Jewish food sites.  The only change I made initially I was to replace the cottage cheese with fresh ricotta which I find a lot easier on my stomach. There's only a cup of flour in the recipe so replacing with gf options seemed safe enough. My usual homemade blend uses corn starch but our host is sensitive to corn, too, so used equal parts brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, and tapioca starch which worked perfectly. 

This dish has all the lovely sweet, creamy flavors of traditional blitzes with a fraction of the fuss. It's a great brunch dish because it bakes for 50 minutes, leaving you plenty of time for other last minute preparations. Served with sour cream and fresh fruit or a lightly sweetened berry sauce, you couldn't ask for a better option on your brunch table.

You'll find the recipe here.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Yikes! It's been a while, hasn't it? Things have changed quite a bit since I last wrote and the thing I miss most is time. Time to peruse cookbooks and wander the market and play around in the kitchen. Rather suddenly I've found myself in grad school and the pace is hectic. My wonderful husband has taken over nearly all the food-related tasks and has been doing a fine job of stocking the cupboards and keeping us fed while I study. Love that man, I really do. I have two papers to write today but I decided that surely there was time to play in the kitchen and tell you all about it. So here we go:

I first started making clafoutis many years ago, inspired, as I recall, by a John Thorne essay. Clafoutis is a slightly sweet fruit filled custard which is equally delightful as breakfast or dessert.

I have tried a couple of times to convert my old recipes to gluten free versions but haven't been happy until today when I started with a recipe from Gluten Free Girl and then fiddled around to make the very delicious sour cherry clafoutis you see here.

Because it's February, I used sour cherries from a jar. These are easily and affordably found at any store with an Eastern European clientele but I believe Trader Joe's also sells jars of sour cherries.

I was delighted with how this came out. Still not quite as light as my previous versions using wheat flour, but the almond flour gave it a nice texture.

Oh, and it's all gone. It didn't last long at all. Try it--you'll see why.

The recipe is here. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Great Meal

A Turkey.
The other morning I woke up laughing at myself after having my first ever Thanksgiving dinner anxiety dream.  I have those dreams all the time:  the ones where I am at the beach when I am supposed to be at work or the ones where I realize it's finals week and I've forgotten to go to class all term.  In this particular dream it was three in the afternoon and my kitchen was in its everyday state of chaos when the doorbell rang and it suddenly occurred to me that there should be a nearly-done turkey in the oven and a fridge stuffed with food and where were the pies?

There are plenty of things going on in my life right now to stress me out but you know what?  Thanksgiving dinner simply isn't one of them.  And that's why I was able to wake up laughing.

It feels pretty calm this year.  We will be spending the holiday with good friends. I am much more relaxed about cooking without gluten.  There will be no family drama, no need to measure up to the checkout line magazines' hyperbolic BEST THANKSGIVING EVER.  With wine and good food and a crackling fire I predict a very fine holiday indeed.

Of course my menu isn't 100% set in stone just yet but I can pretty much plan on the following:

  • spiced nuts, good cheese, and maybe a light Campari-based cocktail, something like Nigella's Seasonal Breeze but cut with fizzy water
  • A simple roast turkey (I fussed around with brining last year and was not impressed)
  • Some variation on this stuffing. I'll pick up my GF bread from Happy Campers tomorrow.
  • Cranberry sauce  
  • Cranberry Orange Relish
  • Mashed potatoes.  With lots of butter and cream.  
  • Tzimmes
  • Some kind of green salad with dark red lettuces, pears, hazelnuts, and a nice vinaigrette
  • Crustless pecan pie (but I'll sub maple syrup for some of the sugar)
  • chocolate meringues
  • maybe one more dessert (hey, it's a holiday!)  with fruit
I hope all of you reading this will enjoy a lovely, relaxing holiday with good food and lots of loved ones.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

A busy week but we have lots of autumnal goodness in this week's meal plan:  squash and sweet potatoes and cranberry gingerbread.  Lots of slow cooking and more meat than I'd like but it will do.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Uppma Update

One of the many things I've given up since going gluten free was uppma, a delicious savory combination of wheat semolina, veggies, spices, and just all around goodness.  It's a hard one too describe....savory breakfast cereal with veggies?  I didn't get it until I tried it at which point I was hooked and made many versions of it, preferably topped with thick yogurt and a dollop of crazy-hot cranberry chutney which I realize sounds weird but it is as close to heaven as things get for me.

I've missed uppma so much.  I make a lot of poha which is kind of similar but doesn't quite hit the same note for me.  The last time we visited a local Indian restaurant for a buffet lunch I excitedly loaded my plate with their tasty uppma.  My husband looked at me like I was crazy.  I think I was, just for a minute there.  I slowly scraped my gluten-laden uppma onto his plate but nothing on the buffet was all that exciting to me (until I hit the chili pakoras anyway).

I've been sick all week and have spent way too much time sitting on my butt and not being able to taste anything.  Today it occurred to me that I had everything I needed for an uppma fest including....rice farina.  Well, why not?

There were cranberries in the freezer so I started up some of that chutney while I toasted the farina.  Then I proceeded as usual: frying cashews in coconut oil, sizzling curry leaves*, dal, and mustard seed, sauteing  a chunky red bell pepper and a pile of onions (and only one little hot chili so my husband could partake-the heat is in the chutney!).  I tossed the toasted farina back in and gradually added boiling water risotto-style until the cereal could take no more without getting gummy, added a handful of peas from the freezer, and topped the whole thing with cilantro and the fried cashews.  I served it, as I love it, with Greek yogurt and a hefty dollop of cranberry chutney and I am one happy girl today.

My slightly revised uppma recipe can be found here in all its gluten-free glory.  It's another step, but don't forget the chutney!

Bergera koenigii L.Image by adaduitokla via Flickr* Curry leaves, the only truly unusual ingredient here, can be found fresh at any Indian market. I have also found them in the occasional Vietnamese/SE Asian market. They don't taste like "curry" at all.  They have a mysterious, slightly medicinal flavor that is impossible to reproduce otherwise so do try to find them as they add something quite special to South Indian dishes.  When I locate them I buy a big bunch, rinse and shake them well, strip off the leaves, and tuck them into a freezer-bound ziplock bag.  Press the air out of the bag and they will keep for quite some time.  They are generally tossed into hot oil with mustard seeds so they can go straight from freezer to skillet. 
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

I do not for the life of me understand why it is that the simple practice of meal planning is such a difficult habit for me to adopt.  When I plan my week's meals I save time and money and avoid a fair amount of stress and even so I can't always make myself sit down and do it.

But this week I did so instead of beating myself up about all the times I didn't get to it I will try to focus on what I did manage:  a well balanced, healthy, economical set of meals that might actually go ever well with every member of this extremely picky family.

You can take a peek right here.

One way I am saving money these days is by not buying organic.  I know, I know, but right now it makes sense.  Highly sprayed crops like conventionally grown  strawberries, celery, and potatoes don't make it in to my shopping bags ever but I feel pretty safe buying non-organic melon, citrus, and onions.  I make my decisions using the Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  Someday (soon, I hope!) things will turn around and I can buy all organic all the time but for now, this is good information that's helping me stretch our food dollars just a bit further.

Has this stinking economy hit your home?  How are you eating well for less?  

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