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One of the wacky cucumbers from our first garden

One of the wacky cucumbers from our first garden

Once upon a time, I had a kick-a$$ vegetable garden.  It was purely beginner’s luck… we’d just bought our house, had a smidgen of property for the first time, and jumped wholeheartedly into gardening.  The next year, our compost attracted wildlife, who ate our garden.  The year after that, we tried container gardening on the deck, which was underwhelming.  I almost think that first year’s garden is a legend, if not that I can practically still taste the juicy grape tomatoes, see the cucumbers so bountiful that we were giving them away, and remember how full my freezer had become with all the shredded zucchini. Ah, zucchini.  Whether you have it growing in your garden or stock up when it’s on sale, we’re entering the time of year when zucchini just begs you to cook with it.  Gluten-free or not, these are some of our family’s favorite recipes, and will not disappoint.

Zucchini bread

I don’t recall eating zucchini bread until I had the vegetable growing out of our ears that first summer.  Once extra accumulates, I shred it and fill quart-sized Ziploc freezer bags with 2 cup portions.  It lasts us through the winter, so that I can add zucchini to chili, make bread, or whatever else we desire.  This is how I happily bake zucchini bread all year long. One of my favorite bloggers, Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, recently revamped and shared her recipe here. It’s actually on my to-do list for tomorrow, but I can confidently recommend it without trying it, as you can trust her recipes to be amazing.

Zucchini bread pancakes

Zucchini bread pancakes, gluten-free

Yep, you read that right.  And they’re as glorious as they sound.  I didn’t come up with the idea, but I’ll happily promote it. This recipe freezes well, so I always make a double batch and freeze the extra pancakes for another day.  If you’re gluten-free, follow the steps here.  If not, you can hit up the original recipe for details. Either way, enjoy!

Black-bean zucchini quesadillas

Quesadilla

This awesome recipe is one we’ve been making for years.  Each time we do, I wonder why we don’t make it more often.  It’s quick, a kid-pleaser (the zucchini melts right in), and so delicious.

Zucchini recipes don’t end here, so share your family’s favorites below.  To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Peruse past blogs and keep current with new blogs at Stephanie.hvparent.com.

I have these fond memories of early morning family day trips that began with getting an egg and cheese on a roll from the corner deli as we drove out of town.  I’m not sure where we were headed, but it really doesn’t matter.  Getting a special breakfast as we left for the day was part of the magic.  I also remember the many times that my dad and I would grab buttered Portuguese rolls as he dropped me off at the train station before work, and it started the day on a high note.

Unfortunately, gluten free folks cannot stop at the corner deli, or the quick mart, or even Dunkin Donuts on their way out of town.  Yet, sometimes you want something nutritious you can grab and go.  Something more than a breakfast bar or bowl of cereal, but not something you need to stop and prepare when you’re busy packing up your beach bag.

Egg and Cheese

Egg and Cheese Wraps

When we have a special day trip planned and know we’re headed out early in the morning, we make breakfast the night before.  The fun part is that we wrap it in foil and refrigerate it overnight; in the morning, we pop it in the (toaster) oven and let it heat while we get ready for the day. Breakfast is ready when we are, and we bring it into the car to eat as we begin our adventure.  By making it at home, you have the ability to control what goes inside, slip in some veggies, limit the bad stuff, and save yourself some money.

Ingredients (per wrap)

2 eggs plus one egg white (for my kids, I make 3 eggs, 2 egg whites, and split it between the two of them)

1/2 cup cooked, chopped vegetables

1 wrap (we use brown rice by Trader Joe’s or Enjoy Life)

1/4 c shredded cheese (we use cheddar)

Directions

Prepare eggs with preferred method.  We scramble, but my husband sometimes prefers over-easy, or we make them as an omelet with the veggies in the center.  Once the eggs are cooked, sprinkle cheese on top and heat until melted.  Transfer eggs to the center of the wrap, slightly to the side, and roll into a burrito.  Wrap in foil, write each person’s name or a special message on the outside of each packet, and refrigerate.  In the morning, heat each on low (set to warm if in the toaster oven, 200 degrees if in the oven) until warmed through, about 15-20 minutes.  Grab as you’re headed out the door, and let the kids keep the bottom wrapped and eat from the top down to keep things neat.   It sounds a small thing, but egg and cheese wraps are something we look forward to whenever we take a morning day trip.  It’s the little memories that add up.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  May the day trip season be upon us soon!

Winter is the time for a bowl of good soup, and everyone who knows me knows that I am always looking for a new favorite to add to our repertoire.  My friend Sarah mentioned recently that she was making her mom’s split pea soup recipe, and I was cautiously intrigued.  I’m not a fan of peas, and was pretty sure that split pea involved ham, which I don’t eat.  Yet, I feel like I’m grown up enough now to try something like it, so I asked for the recipe.  Turns out the ham is optional and the recipe had some sweet ingredients, rather than just savory.  Gluten free and easily dairy free… I was left with no reason not to poke around in the grocery store for a bag of split peas (they’re by the dried beans, in case you are wondering).  With her permission, join me for some split pea soup.

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Ingredients

2 lb. dried peas
1 large apple (peeled, cored, and chopped)
3 qt. chicken broth
2 large onions (coarsely chopped)
2 carrots (peeled and chopped)
1 large sweet potato (peeled and chopped)
2 bay leaves
½ lb. ham, cooked (optional- I omitted)
salt and pepper, to taste (I only use pepper, since broth is salty)
cream, to taste (I used 2 T of almond milk)

Directions

For a richer onion flavor, the onions can be sautéed first.  I did sauté mine, since it didn’t require the use of an additional pan. Ham can be cooked in the soup, added after cooking, or omitted completely.  I chose not to use any.

If sautéing onions, drizzle oil in bottom of pot and sauté until tender, about five minutes.  Add remaining ingredients to pot, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for at least two hours. Stir occasionally.

Remove bay leaves and add ham (if desired).  Puree with an immersion blender. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the cream, if desired.  Continue to simmer, uncovered, until desired thickness is reached.  I cooked the soup for another hour.

This soup begs for something warm and crunchy to dip into it.  Keeping the carbs low, I made biscuits made with almond and coconut flour, very similar to this recipe.  Both of my daughters, my husband, and I loved the soup.  It was a filling meal, and good enough to eat for lunch as leftovers two days in a row.  In fact, I offered my husband some crumbled turkey bacon to add to his soup and he declined it, which is a rarity for him.  I’m happy to report that split peas taste differently than regular peas, and this easy recipe will warm your bones on a chilly winter’s eve. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your family’s recipe.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

It seems kind of ironic to share a chilly beverage or treat recipe during this cold snap, I am aware. Yet, with all of the New Year’s resolutions and detox plans, a smoothie seems like the perfect way to start your day. And since Santa brought us awesome ice pop molds, you better believe we couldn’t wait to try them out.  We often use fresh baby spinach in our smoothies, but I kept this one fruity.  It makes enough to enjoy a glass for yourself and set the rest aside for the kids’ pops.

Ice pops

Simple Fruity Smoothie

2 c milk (we use almond)
2 bananas (mine had been peeled and frozen)
1 1/2 c frozen strawberries
1 c fresh pineapple (as an aside, if you’re cutting a fresh pineapple, throw the core in, too, it’s loaded with vitamins)

Blend until smooth. Add more milk to thin if desired, or ice to thicken if your fruits were not frozen. Smoothie consistency is really personal preference. My kids like it thin enough to suck through a straw but thick enough to look icy.

To make into ice pops as I did, first fill the molds about halfway with orange juice, and freeze for three to four hours. Remove from freezer, fill remaining space in mold with smoothie, and freeze overnight.

We had these during a recent movie night, frigid temperatures be damned. We all enjoyed them, from kids to grown ups. I love that my kids can have a “treat” sweetened only by fruits, yet the two colors in the pop mold make it feel special. This can be altered with any combination of fruits, even vegetables. Give it a try and feel free to share your variations below!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Keep warm!

This is the time of year that just begs for soup.  It’s already bone-cold, and we look forward to a warm bowl of soup after a busy afternoon out.  Soup is typically pretty quick to prepare, and a nice way to sneak in veggies that can be pureed or otherwise disguised, if you happen to have a picky eater in your home.  I’ll share two family favorites here; feel free to comment back with your family’s soup loves.

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

If I was asked to share of one of our favorite, yet easiest recipes, Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup immediately comes to mind.  In fact, I am a little disappointed in myself that I’ve never shared it before, as it is such a gem.  Way back before we were gluten-free,  this appealed to us simply because it tastes amazing.  Black beans, chicken, and a hint of salsa make this soup complex without being spicy.  Garnished with shredded cheese, avocado, and sour cream, it becomes creamy and irresistible.  Now, we love it even more because it doesn’t require any substitutions or special treatment to meet our dietary needs.

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Broccoli Soup

Broccoli soup is one I shared quite a while back, and will revisit again.  This quick recipe can accompany dinner, or even stand alone with a handful of cheese and a crusty roll.  To make, heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large stockpot.  Sauté ½ an onion (chopped) over medium heat.  Add one medium potato (peeled and chopped), three cups broccoli (chopped), two cups of shredded carrots, and three cups vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer, covered, 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Stir occasionally.  Allow to cool slightly, puree to a chunky consistency in small batches, or using a stick blender.  Stir in one cup of shredded cheese, if desired.  Serves four.

Broccoli soup

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Don’t forget to share your favorite soup recipe!

Hello, my name is Stephanie, and I like love am addicted to Chinese food. But my family is gluten-free. What to do? When we became gluten-free a few years ago, I asked the local Chinese restaurants if they could prepare gluten-free food. Their response? “Free delivery?” Fortunately, there are now a few Chinese restaurants comfortable with the concept of gluten-free. That said, there is still the risk of having a food allergy and eating food prepared outside of your line of sight. And sometimes, well, it’s nice to be able to make your favorite dishes at home; healthier, and exactly how and when you like it.

Despite my love of Chinese food, I never attempted fried rice until a few years ago. I came across a recipe in a magazine and was surprised at how much easier it looked than I expected. I guess my love of Chinese food comes with blinders, and I assumed there was some kind of magic happening in the kitchen. Nevertheless, I ripped out the recipe, and after a few attempts, had made alterations to suit the likes of my family, and could call the dish my own.

Chicken fried rice

The first step, if you can swing it, is to make your rice in advance, and chill it. For those who plan ahead, make extra rice sometime, and freeze it. If not, make rice before you go to bed, or first thing in the morning, and pop it in the fridge for a few hours. Shortly after becoming gluten-free, we invested in a rice cooker. I always thought this to be a silly, superfluous type of kitchen appliance until I once borrowed my friend Sarah’s and found it cooked rice perfectly and without my supervision. I was an instant convert.

Chicken Fried-rice

4 T oil (canola or coconut both work well here)
2 carrots, cut into thin strips
1 c peas (frozen is fine)
3-4 c rice, cooked, then chilled if possible
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb. chicken (breast or thighs, your preference) thinly sliced into 3 in. strips
3 T “soy” sauce (we use coconut aminos, a delicious and gluten-free, soy-free version)
1 T sesame oil

In a large wok or skillet, begin by scrambling the eggs, cutting into strips with your spatula when cooked to desired firmness. Set aside in a dish.

Add 2 T of oil to skillet. When heated, add the chicken and carrots, cooking about ten minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, and the carrots are to desired softness.

Move the chicken and carrots to the outsides of the skillet, then add the remaining 2 T of oil to the center of skillet, allowing to heat. Add the rice and peas, breaking up any rice clumps, and mix into the chicken and carrots. Cook until the rice is heated and begins to brown, about five minutes.

Add the egg strips back into the pan, and drizzle in the soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir well, and further brown until desired.

As is, makes four servings. Feel free to experiment with veggies (sliced pepper goes well in addition to carrots), or your favorite slices of beef, shrimp, or even go vegetarian. This is one dish that’s quite hard not to love. My kids are always excited when they hear fried-rice is for dinner.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy stir-frying!

I’m not sure how I’ve gotten this many years into food blogging without including a recipe for apple crisp, but please forgive me. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for apple crisp (the tattered recipe my sister gave me at my bridal shower, eleven years ago, confirms this) but its importance moved up a notch when we became gluten-free two years ago. As desserts go, apple crisp is pretty light on the gluten-containing ingredients, and that’s a huge bonus. Many gluten-free folks shy away from baking, especially early on, because gluten-free flours (and the resulting outcomes) vary so greatly, are pricey, and cooking with them can be very overwhelming. And if you have a picky set, forget it. While great gluten-free baked goods can be achieved with the right ingredients, and practice, they don’t always replicate traditional baked goods exactly, and that can be a turnoff to some.

Enter apple crisp… I swear to you, you’d never know it’s gluten-free. Unlike a cake or cookies, there’s almost no flour, and little room for error. The bulk of the ingredients are apples, anyhow, so how can you go wrong? As an aside, I let each of my kids choose a recipe to make after we’d gone apple picking, and my five-year-old chose apple crisp. Other than my assistance with peeling the apples and helping locate the correct measuring cups and spoons, she made this largely by herself. Even young ones can use a butter knife to slice apples, scoop dry ingredients, and mix the topping, so it’s a wonderful recipe for cooking with kids.

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

8 baking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3/4 c sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 t cornstarch
3/4 c flour (substitute gluten-free here)
1 c brown sugar
3/4 c butter
1 c oats (substitute certified gluten-free here)

Toss apples with sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch until coated. Place in greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter. “Chop” together with two butter knives until crumbly, or pulse till crumbly in a food processor if available.

Pour topping over apples, bake 40 minutes at 350, and serve warm.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy baking!

If you’re gluten-free and go out in the world, you’re barraged pretty frequently with things you can’t eat.  Though much of that food isn’t good for you anyway, that’s beside the point. You can’t eat it, which is very different from not wanting to eat it.  With planning, this is easy enough to get around–as many other families of young children do, we leave the house armed with cut-up fruit or veggies, cheese sticks, trail mix, etc.  That said, there are times when we’re someplace and I notice my kids gazing longingly at something others are eating.

Most recently, my children and I were in a wholesale club with another family and they stopped at the front counter for those warm, salty, heavenly-scented soft pretzels.  Filled with white-flour and no nutrition? Yes.  Something my kids couldn’t have even if they wanted? Well, also yes.  As my kids know by now, I’ve promised to make a gluten-free, healthier version of whatever they covet out of the house.  So, when my little one asked, “Can we make those?” I was happy to say, “YES!”

I’m guessing there are plenty of gluten-free pretzel recipes out there, but this pretzel recipe came through my inbox last week and caught my eye.  I enjoy the No Gluten No Problem blog, as they too are a local Hudson Valley family with kids, living the gluten-free lifestyle.  Their recipes tend to be family-friendly, creative, and come out well.  I have this on my to-try-soon list, and if you’re gluten-free and jonesing for a soft pretzel, you can try it, too.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy baking!

Summer is a great time for quick, healthy, on-the-go meals.  I don’t know about your family, but mine loves to spend summertime poolside, out hiking or enjoying a picnic at an outdoor concert or movie.  Since many convenience foods are prepackaged, processed and not typically gluten-free, packing a gluten-free meal requires a little thinking outside of the (bread) box.

Some fun, quick, healthy on-the-go meal and snack ideas:

  • Tortilla chips with salsa, bean dip, or cheese
  • Hummus or cheese with crackers
  • A thermos of yogurt with fruit and granola to mix in
  • Gluten-free pasta tossed with fresh veggies and meat or cheese
  • Hard-boiled eggs and crackers
  • Cut-up apple, carrots or celery with nut butter
  • Salad topped with cheese, sliced egg or meat
  • Popcorn, cheese and fruit
  • Trail mix
  • Rolled deli meat, sliced cheese, tortilla chips, cut up veggies (see photo)
  • A muffin, cheese stick and fruit
  • Pepperoni, crackers and fruit
  • Diced chicken, apple and celery, drizzled lightly with ranch dressing
  • Tuna salad and crackers
  • Homemade cookies, fruit salad and cheese sticks
  • Omelet muffins and fruit

As you can see in the photo, putting together a quick, healthy, gluten-free meal is easy once you let go of the concept of a sandwich.  Pack enough of a variety for the family to enjoy, toss in a thermos of water and you’re off!

Rolled turkey, tortilla chips, sliced cheese, cucumbers, and grapes

Rolled turkey, tortilla chips, sliced cheese, cucumbers, and grapes

To share what’s new in your kitchen or find out what’s going on in ours, stop by or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy picnicking!

Just about one year ago (almost to the day), I blogged about a new recipe I’d discovered from a fun blog, for zucchini bread pancakes.  This morning, as I stared at a surplus of zucchini, visions of those incredible pancakes stirred in my mind.  Shortly after making those pancakes last year, my family became gluten-free.  Slowly but surely, we’ve revisited special recipes, one by one, making tweaks and alterations.  As a rule, it’s best to find a true gluten-free recipe for something rather than make substitutions to a traditional recipe.  Many do not translate well due to different properties of gluten-free flours, wet-to-dry ratios, and lack of well, gluten.  Certain recipes, however, are unique and beg for experimentation.  I’m pleased to say that this recipe translated amazingly.  Proportionately, there’s not much flour, which bodes well for its success.

A summery breakfast

If you’re not gluten-free, go straight to the original recipe.  My only change is to use two cups of shredded zucchini.  To make these gluten-free, substitute the one cup of flour for 3/4 cup plus 1 T brown rice flour, 2 T cornstarch, and 1 T tapioca flour.  Make sure your oats are certified gluten-free, and use 1 t xanthan gum.  Follow the recipe as posted above, and enjoy.  We’re also mostly dairy-free, and the recipe worked well with almond milk in place of cow’s milk, soy-free dairy-free butter in place of butter, and I did use the sour cream because there’s no good substitute. Almond milk yogurt might work, but I didn’t have any on hand, and it might be too thin.  No matter how you make them, they’re incredible.

To share what’s new in your kitchen, or find out going on in ours, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

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