Baked Sweet Potato Fries

This recipe is easy to make and it is a good one for kids, there is something about kids and french fries! We often make these fries for lunch for our children. They taste really great and are actually good for you. I used to fry the sweet potatoes in oil, they taste awesome this way, but they aren't as healthy, and frying anything in my kitchen makes the whole house smell like a fast food restaurant for days! At our house fries are always served with ketchup (my wife and kids wouldn't have it any other way), but another serving suggestion would be to melt a little butter and stir in some honey and dip the fries in the mixture. I've had it this way in restaurants and it tastes great.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries Serves 2
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise (like steak fries) -see picture
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 tsp white pepper (or black pepper)

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 Tsp basil

1/4 Tsp oregano


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil in a large bowl.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together, coating the sweet potatoes with the olive oil and spices.
Lay out the fries in a baking pan in a single layer. Place in the oven uncovered.
Bake the fries flipping them over every ten minutes for 40 minutes or until potatoes turn golden.
Sprinkle with a little extra salt and serve with ketchup, or according to your taste.
Note: the fries won't really get crispy, but they will be delicious!


Delicious Brussels Sprouts?

I cooked for a dinner party Saturday night and we had a great time. My father-in-law said the blessing before the meal, Here is an excerpt, "...bless this food we are about to receive, even though brussels sprouts are a part of it!"

I think that most people share his sentiment about brussels sprouts. My brother told me that they are so good for you that they have to taste bad. When I was growing up we had them once a week because they were my father's favorite vegetable. My brothers and I never liked them because they were always taken right out of the freezer, cooked hard and put on a plate with some margarine (ugh!). I think one of the worst things that has been done to brussels sprouts is to have them available frozen, or canned (yuck)! The absolute best way to get this vegetable is right off of the stalk. Be careful not to over-cook them which tends to cause the sulphur-like taste that many people find undesirable.When cooked correctly they should have more of a nutty flavor.

The recipe that I made Saturday night was given to me in passing by a co-worker, and it turned out excellent. After serving it I got some great compliments, including "these are the best brussels sprouts I've ever had" and "I never knew brussels sprouts could taste like this." Even my father-in-law had a second serving, and that's saying something!

Balsamic-glazed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
serves 4

1/4 Lb. sliced Pancetta (Italian Bacon)
1 Lb. whole Fresh Brussels Sprouts
1-1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup chopped Green Onions
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the bottom off of the brussels sprouts and remove the tough outer leaves
Bring a pot of salted hot water to a boil. Once boiling drop the brussels sprouts in for 4 or 5 minutes. Strain and put aside.
Cook pancetta on both sides in a pan on medium-high, cook until until crispy.
take pancetta out and place over a paper towel to drain. Once cool, crumble, or chop it up and set it aside. Save the remaining liquid/fat, leaving it in the pan.
Bring the same pan back up to a temperature of medium-high, and toss on the brussels sprouts. Cook for a few minutes, coating the brussels sprouts with the liquid, add salt and pepper to your taste.
Mix the balsamic vinegar into the brussels sprouts, cook for about 4 more minutes.
Transfer the brussels sprouts into a serving bowl, toss with the crumbled pancetta, and green onion. Serve!

White Wine Apricot Sauce over Sauteed Beef

The other day we went to stay with a friend out of town and arrived late. Being thoughtful she knew we would be hungry when we arrived so she left a huge strip steak to thaw on the counter for us. It looked great but I wasn't sure how to cook it. My first choice would have been to grill it, but no grill was available. I also could have broiled it, but instead I trepidatiously choose to fry it in a pan, using the juices from the pan to make a sauce to cover it with. I looked around the kitchen for the makings for a sauce and found a big bag of dried apricots. I remembered I once worked at an Italian restaurant that made a chicken dish with an awesome apricot sauce, so I decided this was the way to go. I don't know if its the deep orange color or the sweet-tangy flavor, but here is something about the apricot that just seems to capture the harvest season for me.

I think I first had dried apricots when I was just a toddler, its one of the foods that remind me of my grandmother who first taught me to cook. I vaguely remember her making something like an apricot glaze or frosting for a cake with them, but most fondly I remember eating them right out of the bag. A few months ago I brought a bag of dried apricots for the purpose of making a sauce with them, but ended up eating them as they were. Next time I buy dried apricots I'll be sure to buy plenty for cooking and for eating plain!

This is a simple sauce with a rich and fruity flavor that's not too sweet, it would be a great compliment for chicken or pork as well. I served this over a bed of fresh spinach for a low-carb late dinner, but it would go very well over rice, or with sweet potato.

White Wine Apricot Sauce over Sauteed Beef
Serves 2

@1 Lb tender cut of boneless steak (pork or chicken can be substituted)
6-8 dried apricots- chopped small
8 oz white wine
2 cloves garlic- chopped fine
1/2 onion - chopped fine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tsp corn starch
few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
sprinkles of garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a dash of GF Worcestershire sauce, let sit for about 20 minutes before cooking.
Heat a skillet to medium heat, add olive oil
Saute meat until roughly cooked half way through, about 10 minutes depending on thickness, flip over in the pan.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan, saute for two minutes. Add the chopped apricots, about 6 oz of the wine and salt and pepper to taste, mix around, incorporating the scrapings from the bottom on the pan.
Cook the meat until done, for beef you can cook to how done you like (I prefer medium-rare), for chicken or pork be sure to cook all the way through. Remove to a cutting board.
Whisk the remaining wine in a bowl with the corn starch, stir until there are no lumps. Stir into the pan. Bring to a slight boil, and reduce to simmer. Stir occasionally for a few more minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. remove from heat.
Cut the meat into 1/3" long slices, drizzle the sauce over top and serve.

Eggs in a Basket

This fun and quick little breakfast is a variation on over easy eggs, this is definitely comfort food! I like eggs over easy but don't really enjoy them without bread to dip in the runny yokes (the best part!). This morning I remembered that I made Gluten-free pancakes the other day and had a few left over so I decided to try them with with the eggs. I cut a hole in pancakes and fried the eggs snug in the hole. Along with a strong cup of Sumatran coffee this made for a tasty and satisfying breakfast!. This would also be great with syrup.

Eggs in a Basket
serves 1

2 gluten free pancakes (GF waffles or bread can also be used)
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

Heat frying pan to medium, butter the pan.
Cut a hole about 2" (5 cm) in diameter in the middle of each of the pancakes
Place the pancakes on the pan, break an egg into each hole, salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for about 2 minutes, them flip the pancakes using a spatula.
Cook for about 2 more minutes, or until done, serve hot and enjoy!

Baked Acorn Squash stuffed with Bean Salsa

After reading
Gluten-free goddess' blog about acorn squash I got inspired to finally cook the acorn squash that was starting to gather dust on my counter. Her recipe looked awesome, but somewhat complicated, and as usual I didn't have a lot of time with two little ones running around my legs.
I sometimes make bean salsas to go over my baked sweet potatoes, so I thought why not over an acorn squash? Also this seemed like a good paring since beans go well with with brown sugar, and brown sugar is a natural with acorn squash. I made this last night and brought it to work to eat for lunch. As I was heating it up I was getting eager to see if it would be a success or a failure. Well I'm eating it now (on my lunch hour) and I'm pleased to announce that it's as good as I hoped! I just wish I had taken a picture of it before I ate it because it was so colorful, but I really didn't know it would turn out so good!

Baked Acorn Squash stuffed with Bean Salsa
Serves 2

1 Acorn Squash

1 Jalapeno pepper- de-seeded and chopped fine
1/2 sweet onion - chopped fine
1 tomato - chopped small
1- 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (or one can of beans - rinsed and drained)
1-1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350º
Cut the Squash in half in so that the top and bottom are on separate half's.
Scoop out and discard the seeds using a spoon.
Place the squash open side down, on a baking dish in 1/2 inch of water.
Bake uncovered for 35 minutes.

Mix the jalapeno pepper, onion, tomato, beans, cider vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a bowl, set aside.

After the squash is cooked drain the liquid,
Turn the squash open side up and put a few pats of butter (or to taste) on each piece.
Scoop the salsa over the squash, return to the oven for 15 minutes and serve.

Chipolte Tacos

Tacos have become a staple of the American diet. What once was purely a Mexican food has practically become an institution. In many homes "taco night" is a once a week tradition. Kids love them, they are easy to make, and they are fun to eat!
I first came across the chipotle pepper (pronounced
Chee POTE lay) at the international farmers market in Atlanta. I was looking for a pepper that would give me lots of flavor with out too much heat. Chipotle have definitely got the flavor! These are actually jalapeño peppers that have been smoked. They have a rich smoky flavor that infuses into the foods they are cooked with. A word of warning though these peppers are hot (considered medium on on the Scoville scale). I love spicy food, but my children don't. Therefore, for cooking tacos, I remove the seeds and then only use half of the pepper. I've had some trouble finding these peppers in North Carolina, the only place I've found them so far is World Market.

Chipolte Tacos

1 lb. ground Beef or Turkey
1/2 onion-chopped fine

2 cloves garlic- minced

1 Chipotle pepper cut-up fine- (remove seeds or use 1/2 pepper to reduce spiciness)

1 tsp lime juice

3/4 cup water

2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional ingredients:
1 cup of cut corn

Several sprigs of chopped fresh cilantro


Serve with:
Corn Tortillas, either soft or crunchy
Chopped Lettuce
Diced tomato or Salsa

Shredded cheese

Sour cream

Put ground meat in to a medium sized, pre-heated pan(medium heat), cook the ground meat until brown on both sides.

Transfer the meat to a colander and rinse it with warm water (to rinse away all of the fat)
Return the rinsed meat to the pan and add the water, onion, lime juice, garlic and chipotle. stir and cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent.
Add the ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir all and bring to a boil.
Add cut corn (optional)
Reduce heat to simmer and cook @ 10 minutes. let cool a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro (optional).

Serve in corn tortillas with the lettuce, cheese, sour cream, tomato and/or salsa or however you enjoy your tacos!

Interesting Information...

I recently met a woman at my local grocery store who was stocking up on Gluten-free cereal. She shared some really interesting information with me. She said that her daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease. After that she went ahead and had her whole family tested including all three of her kids, her husband, and herself. They all tested positive for Celiac! No one in her family had known anything about Gluten intolerance previously.

She went on to say that her sister works at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.
They have some recent results from studies in Europe that indicate that as many as 30% of the population of some countries may be affected by Celiac Disease!!! Can you imagine that! Now, I don't know how accurate this information is, but just think of the implications of these numbers. Ten to fifteen years ago it was thought 1 in 10,000 people were affected, then about five years ago they determined that 1 in 133 people had Gluten intolerance, but to think of 30% of the population is mind-shattering, it makes me want to go out and open a gluten-free restaurant chain! These type of numbers would also vindicate my mother who thinks anyone who has an illness that lasts more than a few days should get tested for Celiac disease (love you mom!).

The other piece of information that the woman from the grocery store shared with me is that the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center will send out a free Gluten-free care package to anyone recently diagnosed, including food samples and information about how to start a gluten-free diet. Here is the link to apply.


Corn Tortillas with Peanut Butter and Banana

I've stopped keeping Gluten-free bread on hand. I use to stock up on it, but I would never use it. In the back of my mind I was probably thinking that there would be some kind of mass shortage! The cost of a loaf of gluten free bread has also made it less desirable for me. My attempts at baking bread haven't gone so well, and I don't have a bread machine. The whole experience has led me to re-think bread and what its purpose is. The purpose I seemed to miss the most was to hold together ingredients that I wanted to eat in my hand and be portable, in other words a sandwich! Gluten free breads seems to lack the consistency to do this well. So I decided to use soft corn tortillas. You can buy them at most stores and they are a great alternative for holding my sandwiches together, converting them into delicious wraps. I do recommend that you look into the brand you use. I currently am using Tam-X-ico's! White Corn Tortillas, by La Bonita Ole' (in the refrigerated section) which are good and inexpensive. Before that I tried Ole' Corn Tortillas, by Ole' Mexican Foods (in the non-refrigerated section) and they made me sick.

If I need to eat something "on the go" or for a quick snack I reach for the bag of corn tortillas I keep in my fridge. With these "wraps", I've made just about every kind of sandwich one can think of. However my favorite is peanut butter and banana. It is rumored that Elvis flew from Memphis to Denver in the middle of the night once to get a good peanut butter and banana sandwich! Although I can't say I would do the same I can understand stand his passion for this tasty treat. Unlike Elvis I don't fry mine in bacon fat, therefore it is actually good for you, and kids love them. I eat these in the afternoons at work to give me a boost of energy and fight off cravings for the bowl of candy bars calling to me. I usually make two of wraps, the recipe below yields one wrap.

Peanut Butter and Banana on a Corn Tortilla Wrap

1 round soft corn tortilla
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1/4 of a banana
@ 1/2 tsp of honey
@ 1/4 tsp cinnamon


Toast the corn tortilla in a toaster oven for @90 seconds, or on a hot pan for @60 seconds on each side. Place the peanut butter in the center of the tortilla. Cut the banana in half and then cut in half again lengthwise. Place a quarter of the banana in top of the peanut butter. sprinkle with cinnamon an drizzle with honey. Tuck in the two sides of the tortilla and roll it up loosely (see picture above). Serve and enjoy!

GF Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe is probably the easiest gluten-free cookie you could make, and arguably the best! In my book you just can't beat peanut butter and chocolate! Remember the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercial from the 70's "your peanut butter got into my chocolate! You got chocolate in my peanut butter!, Mmm, delicious! (que announcer) Two great tastes that taste great together!" -haha I love it!

I think I first got this recipe from the G.I.G. (Gluten Intolerance Group) I was a part of when I lived in Atlanta. It's not intimidating for my non-celiac relatives to make these for me when I visit because there's no messing with Gluten-free flours, (a daunting prospect for even the most accommodating friend or relative!)

I prefer to use less chocolate chips and two eggs, but I'll post the recipe as I originally received it. As you can see from the picture, my 3 year old is a huge fan of these!

GF Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 egg

1 tsp pure vanilla extract (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 350º.
Mix all together in a mixing bowl. Stir well. place teaspoon sized "dollops" on a baking pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool and serve.

Pumpkin Pancakes

I usually like to make pancakes for the family to sit down and enjoy together on Saturdays. I always add some type of fruit to the pancakes. This weekend (after finding out that pumpkins are fruit!), I was inspired to make pumpkin pancakes after reading this posting

Being a bit tired (before my first cup of coffee) I pulled out a bag of trusty Bob's Red Mill GF pancake mix. I followed the recipe and added the following:

• 1 cup pumpkin (baked 30 min at 350º and chopped fine), or 1 cup canned pumpkin
• 2 tsp. cinnamon
• 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
• 1 tsp allspice
• 1/2 cup apple sauce
• 1/2 cup brown rice flour

The pancakes were quick to make and came out awesome.

Chicken Broth

Buying gluten-free chicken broth is a real pain. Forget about the old days of using bouillon cubes. Finding a gluten-free canned broth is rare or impossible and buying boxes of broth is expensive and you can easily end up throwing it out if you don't use it within a few days, that is why I started making my own chicken broth. Once I make it I freeze it in ice cube trays (perfect one ounce containers) and keep the cubes in an air-tight container in the freezer to use whenever I need them for soups and sauces or stir-fry. I also use this broth often to give flavor to rice.

These days since the price of chicken breast is so high I just buy whole chickens. I cut-up the chicken, set aside the leg quarters, wings and breasts and use all of the rest (except the excess fat) for the broth. Often I'll include one of the breasts in order to use it for chicken salad (my wife's favorite). I like to make the broth and let it cook while I'm working in the kitchen on other things since it doesn't require much attention. Here's my recipe:

Chicken Broth:

yields about 4 cups broth

Cut pieces of uncooked chicken, including neck, bones, etc...
2 cloves of garlic- smashed
1/2 onion- cut in large pieces
1 carrot- peeled, cut in large pieces
1 stalk of celery, including leaves-cut in large pieces
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
@1 Tsp salt
1 large bay leaf

Several sprigs of fresh parsley or other fresh herbs (optional)


Fill a medium sauce pan around three-quarters full of filtered water
Add all of the ingredients and bring to a boil
Once it boils reduce it to simmer and let it cook for 1 hour uncovered
Occasionally remove the foam that forms on the surface with a slotted spoon.
Once done remove from heat, put a top on and let it cool and place
it in the refrigerator to cool.

Later, discard the layer of fat that forms on the surface, strain and it's
ready to use, or freeze for later