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Nighty-night

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Got a bedtime routine? I sure do! That includes making sure the kitchen is clean- not because I’m a clean freak or a germ-phone but because I’ve got two beautiful mischievous kittens. They love roaming the counters when we’re not around or when they THINK we’re not looking. Which is why we have a spray bottle handy. And an environmental friendly cleaner. Finding fur in our food is NOT fun. But that’s not our only routine! After we discovered a tea, we now enjoy sitting back on the couch, snuggling, with a cup of piping hot tea. What’s the tea? Yogi’s Bedtime tea. I’m in love with it!!!

Naturally I add a touch of honey to it- but really the tea itself has so much flavor. Includes valerian root extract, passionflower plant extract, licorice root, spearmint leaf, chamomile flower, skullcap leaf, cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, St. John’s wort leaf and flower, rose hip, raspberry leaf, lavender flower and stevia leaf. Sounds like a lot I know!

But one thing for sure- we’re relaxed every time we have it. Maybe it’s psychological but I’ve had plenty other teas and I don’t feel that way about them.

Just saying! Now I’m going to enjoy my tea before I call it a night. Sweet dreams everybody!

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Sorry there’s no picture of the actual tea. I’m drinking it now.

My newest addiction

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Paleo food. Not because I’m following the trend, but because it FITS me! With one exception- sometimes it’s just too much meat but I love their recipes. Especially for sweets and sides. How come? NO SUGAR. No dairy. No gluten. So far that fits my allergies!

A very spicy, filling and absolutely aromatic dish. And see the word crockpot? Means it's EASY!!!

A very spicy, filling and absolutely aromatic dish. And see the word crockpot? Means it’s EASY!!!

I’m pretty much obsessed with this blog, I’m sure you may have heard of it: PaleOMG . Just check it out at http://paleomg.com/  . I love how she writes and her recipes. I recently cooked her crockpot pulled pork chili. Very spicy but wow!!! Super easy and so Dru-able. There was her gingerbread brownies that left my families raving over Christmas. Her roasted red pepper and avocado soup with sausages topping? I drool about it just thinking about it.

My best friend Jenn also shared this Paleo recipe for tapioca rolls that’s SUPER easy to make. I made it twice already and I ate the second batch in two days. Actually I’m not sure if it was even 24 hours… It was so buttery and that’s thanks to olive oil. I made a SLIGHT adjustment but it truly was a treasure find by her!!!

I’m sharing this recipe for one incredibly selfish reason: so you’ll have it ready for me when I come over for dinner!

 

Tapioca Rolls

1 C. tapioca flour

1/3 c. coconut flour

1 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 C. warm water

1/3 c. olive oil

1.) Mix the dry ingredients and slowly add in the wet.

2.) I prefer a muffin or cupcake pan and I can make 8 rolls this way. Be sure it’s UNGREASED.

3.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

4.) Try to pace yourself. Repeat steps if you just ate it all and need to make some for others.

 

PS. The rolls tastes AWESOME with the pulled pork chili! If you turn it upside down, it’s almost hollow and you can scoop the chili into it and have a “bread” like bite!

Also today is January 2nd so here’s a belated Happy New Year!!! Here’s to a wonderful 2014!!! I anticipate an exciting year filled with joyous events as well mouth-watering meals!!!

Until the next time.

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Last week, I was all about fall flavors ESPECIALLY apples. I go ga-ga for apples, specifically Granny Smiths. There’s something about the tartness that I just love. So naturally I looked for recipes and noticed there were many dessert recipes. I thought to myself, why not switch it up and make a dinner dish out of it? So I pretty much… thought up flavors I love and just… bought a few things and threw it together. I have a ROUGH recipe so you can do what I did. So I can make this again since we loved it!

What is this recipe? Stuffed apples. Sausage stuffed apples. We used chicken sausage but you could use whatever you prefer. Pork sausage will taste AMAZING in this recipe!

Okay, here goes:

Ingredients

Prepared apples, the "bowls" for this dish

Prepared apples, the “bowls” for this dish

4 apples (I used Granny Smiths), cut in 1/2, scoop out insides and mince the insides into a separate bowl

1 stalk celery, minced

1 TBSP rosemary, chopped

1 TBSP oregano, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced (I used black garlic, a delicious find in a co-op in Burlington, Vermont!)

*1 package cooked sausage (I used Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage), minced

2 TBSP olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) After the apples have been cut in halves and scooped out, place the skins (which will act as bowls for this recipe) and place in a greased glass plan. Also lightly spray olive oil over the apples.

3.) In a medium mixing bowl, place 1/2 of the minced apple insides**, sausage, celery, rosemary, oregano, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Combine well.

4.) Spoon mixture into apples. Try to stuff as much as possible. If any spills over into the glass pan, that’s okay! Once the apples have been filled, pour the rest of the mixture around the apples in the glass pan.

5.) Bake for 20-25 minutes until apples have soften.

6.) Serve with greens (we had kale on the side, yum! Balances out the sweetness, savory and tartness of the apple dish)

*If the sausages are raw, just cut them up in slices and cook until ready then mince as the recipe calls for.

**I used the rest of the apple insides to create an apple crisp type of dish. Yum!

Stuffed apples with chicken sausage

Stuffed apples with chicken sausage

Please feel free to mess around with this recipe! A recipe is never final it’s always up to a person’s taste. If I cooked this for my mother, I’ll omit the rosemary and add more thyme and maybe even sautéed shallots. She’s not a fan of rosemary, not the way I am.

One thing I do recommend: cook within the season. If there’s an abundance of apples, take advantage of it! I’m already looking forward to my dinner on Thursday night which will include butternut squash.

What’s your favorite fall recipe?

Homemade Lipton noodle soup

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I haven’t been feeling well for a few days. A bad cold which left me nauseous, light headed and stuffy. When I’m like this, all I want is broth. Or Lipton Noodle Soup. But alas! Lipton is full of gluten. So that’s out. I cannot remember the last time I had some time. But it still stands out as my ultimate comfort food for times when I’m sick. It’s easy to eat, easy on my stomach and easy to make.

Yesterday afternoon I told my husband that I wanted Lipton soup (for the second time in two days?). He wanted to help me out but also knew I couldn’t have Lipton. So I did my research aka google for recipes.

I found a fairly simple one but it still wasn’t “Dru-able”. So I decided to make my own.

I bought a box of Pacific organic vegetable broth, Thai kitchen thin rice noodle (thin is key here!) and after searching the shelves at Whole Foods, I also found Seitenbacher Vegetarian Vegetable Broth and Seasoning.

I filled a pan with water and let it reach boiling as I cut the rice noodle into pieces with a kitchen scissor (IN the bag otherwise dry pasta will fly everywhere). I filled another pan with the broth and added two heaping tablespoons of the vegetable broth and seasoning and whisked it up. The water was boiling so I shut it off and put the pasta in (this specific kind requires only hot water to cook in).

I drained the pasta and transferred it to the broth. I then let that reach a boil to allow the flavor infuse the pasta.

Now it was time for the taste test. I took my first taste. YES! Success! I felt as if I was eating Lipton noodle soup instead of a mock version! And it’s every bit as delicious and healthier for me! Not to mention super easy to make.

I call this a win, even though I still have a box of tissues with me.

    Homemade Lipton Noodle Soup

-32 oz. vegetable broth
-One package Thai Kitchen Thin Rice Noodles (8.8 oz)
-2 heaping TBSP vegetable broth/seasoning

Cook pasta as directed. In another pot, heat up broth and add seasoning and whisk until smooth.

Drain pasta and transfer to broth.

Allow soup to reach boil before turning it off.

Cool slightly so you don’t burn yourself and enjoy!

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It’s taken me a long time to get around to this. Not because I didn’t want to write, but because I wasn’t sure of what to put in my 100th post. I cannot believe it’s already my 100th! In a way, I feel like I could have written more, but I’m not going to dwell on that. Instead I’m going to think about what I’ve learned over the years.

I started this blog over two years ago with a purpose to share my experience with others when it comes to food. I started off with three “culprits”. Gluten, corn and soy. I’ve made the adjustment to having a restriction free diet to a somewhat limited diet. Only it opened up a new world to me. I became excited about finding recipes, whether it’s my own or from others, that had food that made you forget it was “missing” anything. I’ve learned that gluten is an ingredient that I can easily go without. EASILY. I was fortunate to have a cousin pave the way for me. Olivia found out she was Celiac a year before I found out I was gluten intolerant, so I had a year of practicing with gluten-free recipes. I prided myself in finding food that she would enjoy! I was adamant that Olivia enjoyed her food as much as anybody else. So when I found out gluten also made me sick, I thought “okay”. Then there was corn and soy. That was a bit more difficult because they were in everything, so it seemed. But I made the adjustment.

Coffee is a mutual passion of ours, always looking to try local flavors: grown, roasted and brewed all at this place in Molokai, Hawaii!

Coffee is a mutual passion of ours, always looking to try local flavors: grown, roasted and brewed all at this place in Molokai, Hawaii!

Then I met my boyfriend Alexander (now husband) who easily adapted to my culinary lifestyle. I still thank God that his mother, Laura, trained him to eat the way he did! I remember the day she and I shared recipes (flaxseed bread, to be exact) BEFORE my first date with Alexander. Funny how life works out! He did his research and took me to this restaurant with gluten-free options, Wagamama in Harvard Square (we went to Harvard Museum of National History and Castle Island that day! It was an amazing day). When the waiter walked over, he immediately explained that I had food allergies and was shown dishes I could choose from. I knew there was something special about this guy.

Sure enough, we’ve been together ever since. Alexander was also the one who pushed me to find out more answers when I wasn’t feeling good. This lead to my next discovery: that I was allergic to other foods. Dairy, cane sugar, cranberry, sesame, and baker’s yeast. The first two made me cry. When I read the email that had the results from the allergy test I took, I remember sitting in my car with tears streaming down my face. I thought I was doomed to life without sweets. Without pizza. Without… anything worth eating.

Ecstatic at my rehearsal dinner, the night before I married my best friend at CAV (an incredible restaurant in Providence, RI)!

Ecstatic at my rehearsal dinner, the night before I married my best friend at CAV (an incredible restaurant in Providence, RI)!

How quickly did I forget? Eating without gluten proved to me that there was more to food than wheat. With my family’s encouragement, I made the adjustment, slowly but surely. I was engaged to Alexander at that point, so we had to go back to the caterer and modify our menu. They did this without complaint! We had an incredible spread for our wedding dinner! My sister-in-law Rae also baked the most scrumptious carrot cake for our wedding cake. Baked, yes you read that right. Instead of cane sugar, she used coconut sugar and date sugar. WHOA! People clamored for our wedding cake instead of the gluten-full cupcakes provided. Sure they tasted good according to several guests, but nothing like the carrot cake we had reserved for our gluten-free guests.

Thanks to our guests, our kitchen was also well stocked. I had almost everything I wanted to create whatever I wanted. Seriously. I’m extremely fortunate to have people in our lives that wanted the best for us. My now-husband also encouraged me to experiment with recipes or come up with new ones. I want to say we ate deliciously every night, but that wasn’t the case. We certainly ate WELL, but I had my share of mess ups. Dishes that came out bland, dishes that came out screaming for masking agents (such as mustard, Alexander’s favorite go-to cover-up). But we also had many, many, many and many meals that left us in awe.

My “diet” also led me to a willingness to try new recipes, from various sources. Although I have to say I have a few favorites: Whole Foods’ website, Epicurious, Elana’s Pantry (and ALL of her cookbooks! I’m now addicted to her Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry and Gluten-Free Cupcakes) and Whole Life Nutrition (go to http://www.nourishingmeals.com). While I have never met them, they’ve truly inspired me with their continuous search for better food.

10 years ago I ate whatever I wanted. And guess what? I ate like crap. I’m serious, I had pasta maybe three times a week, with a favorite being Kraft macaroni and cheese. Appalling, I know. Then 6 years ago, that disappeared from my diet. Hello gluten-free, corn-free and soy-free food! My choice in food improved drastically. I still loved pasta, but now it was rice pasta. It was easy for me to boil a pot of water and dump uncooked pasta in it. I baked a lot more. I started checking out farmer’s markets. Slowly, I added more fresh ingredients to my diet. I began to crave the sensation of chopping onions and other vegetables. I loved fresh food. But it was still about convenience at times, especially since I was in graduate school. Then a year ago… all that changed. I still enjoy rice pasta, but maybe once every three weeks? My favorite section of the store? Produce, by far! I love looking at the colors of the rainbow (I don’t mean Skittles). If I saw something I didn’t recognize, I became giddy at the prospect of bringing them home and figuring out what to do with them! Ask Alexander, and he’ll tell you that it’s a guaranteed way to make me smile. That’s one thing I LOVE about living where I live: a few minutes walk to Whole Foods. Close by where we live is also a store that sells only olive oil and vinegar. Can you say heaven?! We recently purchased blood orange olive oil. My mother in law treated herself to a peach-infused white balsamic vinegar.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is, that since I’ve started this blog- and long before that- I have learned so much about food. Not only did I learn about edible delights, but I’ve also grown so much on my journey. I’ve become more accepting of circumstances while refusing to settle for less. Additionally, my health has improved drastically! Compared to a decade ago (I cannot believe I’m saying that), I feel younger and I can do so much more physically!

Delighting in a marble cupcake!

Delighting in a marble cupcake!

And know what’s awesome?

I’m eating a marble cupcake I baked an hour ago, courtesy of Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten-Free Cupcakes!

Keep on delighting your taste buds and please share with your feedback!

I think the kitchen’s calling my name once again…

Cookies!

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My cooking library! Cookbooks, folders with cutout recipes, magazines... I actually got rid of a lot already so this is probably half of what I had before!

My cooking library! Cookbooks, folders with cutout recipes, magazines… I actually got rid of a lot already so this is probably half of what I had before!

I have so many cookbooks on my bookshelf, and I have a few favorites from them all. Especially Elana Amsterdam’s The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. You can find her blog at www.elanaspantry.com . Pretty much all of her recipes use almond flour. She recommends blanched almond flour. I personally find almond meal to work well with all of the recipes I’ve tried. Since I have a habit of writing in my cookbooks, something I learned from my mother in law, I know I’ve tried 15 recipes. Almond meal seems to work for them all. Maybe it’s because I don’t know how they’re SUPPOSED to be? But then again, I’m all about flavors. If it tastes great, that’s all that matters. A happy tummy makes for a happy me.

Seriously. Delicious food makes me grin, savory food makes me relaxed, spicy food makes me giggly and desserts makes me dance (along with picadillo).

Yesterday, my husband and I were walking around Whole Foods, picking up a few things. I was trying to figure out what I was craving. I walked by fruits. Nah. Through the baking section. Eh, there’s not many pre-mixed packages I can buy that’s sugar-free along with gluten-free and dairy-free. The frozen section? Coconut ice cream didn’t appeal to me. My favorite kombucha chia drink? Didn’t jump out at me. I frowned at my husband, somewhat whining. Yes, I’m a grown woman and I whine. I confess, I’m actually a 5 years old on the inside.

Then it hit me. I wanted HOT cookies fresh out of the oven! I prayed that we had everything we needed at home. So we walked back home and put away the food.

I grabbed the almond flour cookbook and put it in my clear plastic cookbook holder. I searched through my kitchen for all needed ingredients. YES. I had everything I needed to make chocolate chip cookies. But wait a minute, I can’t have chocolate chips since they’re made with cane sugar. Mmmm… substitution time.

There it was. A cardboard container filled with raisins. Oh yum. Deliciously sweet if you eat one at a time and chew for a few seconds. The juice is actually sweeter than any chocolate. At least I think so, it’s been awhile since I’ve had chocolate.

And walnuts!

Cookie dough, all ready to go, cooling in the fridge

Cookie dough, all ready to go, cooling in the fridge

So I made the dough, which took me approximately 10 minutes to make. Then it was 20 minutes in the fridge. The oven was warming up. My mouth was watering. Come on, come on! Finally it was time. The baking sheets were already lined with parchment paper (a HUGE time saver when cleaning up after yourself in the kitchen). I spooned on the cookie dough on the two prepared sheets.

And placed it in the oven, baking for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. The delectable aroma was beginning to waft through the kitchen.

Ding! went the timer. Or so I pretended in my head, since I can’t actually hear the timer. But regardless, I pulled out the first cookie sheet and put in the second. I forced myself to wait, promising myself a cookie in a few minutes.

And it was time.

I grabbed a hot and soft (NOT crumbly! I know, it’s gluten-free, I promise you!) cookie.

My reaction? I’ll sum it up in one word. Or rather sound.

MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmMMMM! (goes back for a second one… a third…)

Walnut-Raisin Almond Cookies (modified from Elana's Chocolate Chip Cookies in The Gluten-Free ALmond Flour Cookbook)

Walnut-Raisin Almond Cookies (modified from Elana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies in The Gluten-Free ALmond Flour Cookbook)

Just because you cannot follow a recipe exactly doesn’t mean you can’t use it! No chocolate chips, but got raisins? Go for it! No walnuts, but got pecans? By all means, go right ahead! No grapeseed oil, but you’ve got a bottle of olive oil? That works. What about eggs? No eggs, ah that’s easy. 1 TBSP flaxseed meal mixed with 3 TBSP cold water and let it sit for a few minutes.

Chances are if you google for a substitute, you’ll find it. I know I have. Even for spices! Need allspice but don’t have any? Nutmeg will do. Et cetera, et cetera. The possibilities

are endless!

Beat the heat with a smoothie

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It’s a hot summery day in New England. When I say hot, I mean HOT! It’s in the 90’s and is very very very humid. We finally put in the air conditioning the other day and its at 82 degrees. Who does that? Most people I know set it to 70’s, typically 70-74? Or am I wrong?

On the top of it all, I haven’t been feeling well these days. We’re figuring it out but meanwhile it means I have a zero level of energy. For anything, especially cooking. So my apologies for not updating my blog in quite some time. It makes me sad to think how I’ve neglected several aspects of my lives these last few weeks because all I wanted was to relax. It was all I had energy for. Still is.

So what am I doing, talking about a smoothie? While kicking back, my husband and I watched a part of a Bobby Flay’s show. Addicted to BBQ I think? It’s a fun show- I love watching him work his magic. Only if I could sample everything he makes as we watch him! Bet you that’s the future of television- well be able to reach through and grab a plate of smoked salmon with a shallot and basil relish he made. Yum! He also made a smoothie, the bottom half was peach mango and something else? The top was strawberry banana… How delicious and cooling does that sound?

So my husband looked at me and asked if I wanted a smoothie. Naturally I said yes but told him not to worry. Alex then reminded me that he haven’t gone grocery shopping yet (I’ve got a husband who will go shopping for me!!!). Out came the Vita-Mix cookbook! He pointed at the very first smoothie recipe and I agreed. Banana blueberry orange smoothie. Just seeing the picture brought down the temperature in the living room by 5 degrees. It was already working its magic!

Out Alex went while I curled up on the couch, watching TV. I’m a wonderful housewife, I know. He came back with food for the week and goodies to whip up a smoothie with!

Alex froze the bananas as directed and we waited. He cooked up a storm while we waited- he made flaxseed bread so I will have a snack at work. Made himself brownies so he would have sweets (not gluten-free which is FINE by me). Then it was time!

Wanting to be a better wife, I dragged myself off the couch and offered to peel the oranges. What a difficult task (right!), but hey I wanted to feel useful. In went oranges, frozen blueberries, frozen bananas and water. No sweeteners. A CLEAN smoothie! Vegan smoothies are the way to go when its hot like this. Then we both watched as he turned on the Vita-Mix. I still get excited every time it pulverize whatever’s in it! And it works FAST!!! How exciting, this must be how a guy feels when they destroy something. Mmm essentially we’re “destroying” fruit, changing its form.

Then Alex poured the purple goodness in two tall glasses. We sat down in our air-conditioned living room and slurped it down. I remarked how it tasted of summer. Fresh. Specifically, summer at the lake where you wait on the dock, heating up underneath the rays and when you cannot handle it anymore you run and jump into the freezing water of the lake. How refreshing that is! Ah!!!

Now this is my kind of summer. I even forgot that I wasn’t feeling well! Many thanks to my handsome Alex for taking care of me and treating me to a delicious smoothie. I have to say, it might be easy to forget that we can make a smoothie but it really is fast! Vita-Mix has so many recipes, it’s amazing. You can find them online! Go to Vita-Mix smoothie recipes

Try one and let me know how you like it! I haven’t tried them all but I will definitely try a few more before the summer is out. Be sure to buy fresh fruit- hopefully get it the day you make the smoothies. Freshness counts in my opinion!

Stay cool everybody! And I will do my best to blog more regularly. Thanks!

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