Tasty and mostly simple food for the whole family.

Tasty, healthy, simple, verstile, practical, seasonal, fun food for all to enjoy. I will endeavour to make things gluten-free, dairy-free (cow's milk only here, I'm not super-human), and low sugar as able. I hope others feel motivated to add their recipes to this collection so we can all try them. Thank you!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pecan Bars (Gluten-free/Adaptable)

I don't like pecan pie.  I don't like pecan bars, pecans in my cookies, pecans in my anything, really.  But really? These are unreal.  The first time I had them was when my amazing colleague and office partner made them for our holiday party last year.  I saw them on the plate and appreciated them for their holiday appropriateness but quietly turned my nose up at them until the party was over and I was simply eating to burn off stress (don't try this at home).  Anyway, they stopped me cold and I couldn't believe how delicious they were.  Not too sweet, perfectly balanced and very special.  They are absolutely loaded with butter and sugar and corn syrup for goodness sake.  These are not Everyday Cookies.  These are not even like bacon as a sometimes food.  These are very special occasion treats, but at least an annual or semi-annual must.  Furthermore, they are super easy and fast to make!

Pecan Bars (Gluten-free)
For the crust:
1 c flour (for gluten-free, I used equal parts oat flour, rice flour, sorghum flour and garbanzo flour)*
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c light brown sugar
1/4 c toasted and chopped pecans**
6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the filling:
4 T melted butter
1/2 c light brown sugar
1/3 c light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla
1-2 T bourbon or dark rum (I used rum- yum!)
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1.75 c toasted and chopped pecans**
*I loved the oat flour here, but really encourage you to choose any flour combination you have access to.  You could use an all-purpose blend or your favorite custom mix.  I will likely up the oat flour next time to half-cup and see what strikes me from there.

** I found that at Trader Joe's, they sold a bag of chopped raw pecan pieces that was exactly 2 cups!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9in square baking pan with two layers of tin foil, positioned at 90degrees to each other and long enough to be used as "handles" to lift the bars out of the pan.  Spray the tin foil with non-stick cooking spray if not using non-stick foil.

In a food processor, put the first 5 ingredients and pulse to mix.  Then add the butter and pulse a little more. This should take the shape of maybe coarse corn meal. Pat the crust into the bottom of the pan and pat until firm.  Bake for 20 min until golden brown.

While the crust is baking, whisk together everything else, except the egg and pecans.  Then whisk in the egg. Pour the filling on the crust, then sprinkle with the pecans.  Bake 22-25 min until the top is browned and bubbly/slightly cracked.  Cool for about an hour.  Lift the tin foil out of the pan and cut into bars.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Baked Feta and Cherry Tomato Bruschetta Pasta

This is a fantastic way to use your bounty of cherry tomatoes just coming on right now.  The dish this was inspired by presented this as an appetizer to be scooped onto bread or crackers.  I have no doubt that would be amazing, but when I saw it, all I could imagine was generously pouring the flavors over a simple pasta. It did not disappoint and will be a staple this summer/early fall and many to come.  So easy and absolutely packed with fresh flavors.

 In a strange departure from my typical salt-tooth, I felt that the kalamata olives were too overpowering, but a jury of 3 tasters were equally split so I included them in the recipe as optional.  Notes~ If you want to make an appetizer out of it, I suggest you cut the recipe in half!  And in the picture above, there is pecorino cheese sprinkled on top as well.  Up to you!

Baked Feta and Cherry Tomato Bruschetta Pasta (serves 4-6, or 3 in our house.)

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup Kalmata olives, pitted and chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 8- to 10-ounce block feta, sliced ~1/2” thick

1lb pasta of your choice (I think linguini would be best, but we had it with gluten-free brown rice spaghetti and it was excellent)

In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, shallot, garlic, basil, oregano, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper. 

In the oven: Heat oven to 400°F.  Place the pieces feta in the middle of your dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes wilt. (The feta will not melt, just warm and soften.)

While mixture is baking, cook pasta to your taste, then drain and toss with olive oil.

Serve over freshly cooked pasta; eat immediately. As it cools, the feta will firm up again but it can be easily reheated or eaten cold for breakfast.

Adapted from this recipe on Smitten Kitchen.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Honey Lemon Raspberry Jam (low-sugar)

I haven't made jam in several years, but am delighted to say I made a tasty batch tonight!  I remember the first time I made jam years ago being shocked that the recipes I looked at called for more sugar than berries!  Back then I found a Pectin product (Sure-Jel maybe?) that allowed for low-sugar recipes and it has worked well for me over the years.  Yesterday I went looking on the web for low-sugar raspberry jam recipes and found that Pomona's Universal Pectin is all the rage and pretty much seems to be the new gold standard of low-sugar/no-sugar jam recipes.  I was highly skeptical I would find it, but sure enough it was at the local QFC when I looked for it!  Tonight I made a small batch of jam from some berries picked from Auntie Bert's crop and was a little short on numbers, so I augmented with some organic strawberries I had in the fridge.  I think it came out dynamite and am just not sure if it will get more use on toast or vanilla ice cream.....

I am going to put up my recipe that I used for this batch tonight, but link to another website that I thought gave excellent instructions on how to make the jam and what you need to get prepared.

Some jamming MacGyver notes: I don't have a jam funnel, so I made one up of rolled up tin foil with a wide mouth to fit in the jam jar.  Worked great!  Furthermore, I don't have any actual canning pots so I fill my deepest pot of water and line the bottom with the tops of my box grater!  Any metal thing will to that keeps some space between the bottom of the pot and your jars so they don't get too hot.

Honey Lemon Raspberry Jam
  • 4 cups mashed berries
  • 1/2-3/4 cup honey (my berries were pretty tart to start, so I went with 3/4)
  • 2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice\
  • 2 tsp pectin powder
  • 2 tsp calcium water
  • A boiling pot of water or canner (see note above)
Please link to this page on the Foods For Long Life blog for great directions!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chicken Marbella (Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free)

I ate this dish about 7 years ago when it was made for a party for my mom and have truly been thinking about it ever since.  I can NOT believe I have waited this long, as it is unbelievably simple, easy and fast.  The ingredient list is totally bizarre but comes together in the most balanced way.  As a saltaholic, I felt it needed a bit of salt in the end, but that is me.  I will add some salt and pepper to the marinade next time I make it, or some extra olives or something, but otherwise it was dynamite.  It would easily lend itself to doubling or tripling to make ahead for a super easy party dish.  Also, if you like dark meat, you could use thighs here vs. breasts, but I think that is crazy. 

This truly would take any typical person 15 minutes to prepare ahead, but it took me 25 due to the extensive degiblification process I undertake with all chicken wherein I remove every tiny bit of fascia, tendon, fat, 'rib meat' and that nasty little artery that runs through every chicken breast.  Another bonus for those of my people who find preparing meat a deeply disturbing process is the fact that the preparation and actual consumption of this meal take place many, many hours apart. 

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut in half width-wise, about 2-1/2 pounds
  • 1/2 cup prunes, halved
  • 1/2 cup Spanish green olives, halved
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4-6 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1Tblsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup capers, with some brine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup (scant) brown sugar

  • Cooked rice for serving
1. Combine all but wine & sugar (and rice) and let sit to marinate at least 3 hours, but preferably 8-24 hours.

2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350deg, then place chicken in a single layer in a glass baking dish, then spoon all of the rest of the marinade around in in the pan.

3. Sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar on the top of each piece of chicken and pour the wine around the chicken in the pan and cook uncovered for 50-60 minutes (til chicken is cooked through), basting the chicken with the pan juices periodically.

4. Scoop chicken, prunes and olives over rice and make sure to cover with the pan sauce and capers. 

Adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seabrook Sangria

We had the pleasure of spending Easter with The Cousins.  Actually, we spent it with most of  Mike's family, but to Mia, it is all about The Cousins.  It was a great weekend to be at the beach in the Great Northwest and this year we were in Seabrook, Washington.  This festive libation came out quite well to accompany an amazing meal made by my wonderful Sister-in-law and her husband (not sure if that makes him my brother-in-law? Doesn't seem quite right).  Anyway, I  had to prove to myself that it really was that good by making another vat of it last weekend in celebration of a good friend's birthday.  Indeed, it was dynamite, although the first batch was better by a tiny tad- I think the difference was that I used Newman's Virgin Lemonade in #1 and Trader Joe's Pomegranate Lemonade in #2.  To be fair, I added a bit of suggested cinnamon to the second batch, but I think that gave it some added dimension vs. not.  I'm thinking that the next time, I will skip the ground cinnamon and add a cinnamon stick or two into the pot while it is steeping together instead.  I'm pretty sure it was the lemonade that took a half-point off the second batch.

I also had a rare moment of brilliance and took a shallow dish (maybe a 2-3 cup Pyrex or so) and froze it full of lemonade to add in at the end when I set it out to serve- this way it would stay cold and sangrilicous without getting diluted.  And incidentally, this saves pretty well in a mason jar for up to 2 days in case you want to keep the party going when the guests are gone. 

Seabrook Sangria
  • 2 bottles of full bodied red wine, fancy not needed (I like Big House Red)
  • 1/2 cup sugar made into simple syrup (see below)
  • 4-6oz. Triple Sec
  • 6-8oz. Lemonade, plus more for freezing (see above)
  • Juice of:
    • 3 limes
    • 2 lemons
    • 1orange (2 might be nice)
  • 1 bottle sparkling wine, chilled (not the sweet kind)
  • (optional)  1/4tsp ground cinnamon or a couple of cinn sticks
  • (optional) misc chopped fruit such as pineapple, strawberries and such
1.  to make simple syrup, pour your sugar into a jar, cup or other vessel and slowly add hot water into it and stir- just enough to dissolve the sugar - maybe 4 oz or so? 

2.  Mix all ingredients except sparkling wine together in large pitcher or such item and place in fridge for maybe 4-8 hours

3.  When ready to serve, taste and adjust with a bit lemonade, juice and such to your preference, then add in the bottle of sparkling wine and frozen lemonade, then serve over ice with a bendy straw.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins (Gluten/Dairy free/adaptable)

When I made my first batch of these the other week, I thought Mike was going to float off the ground.  I mean, don't get me wrong, Mia was pretty pumped for the choco chips and all, but my husband after the first (of 4) muffins....."MMM!!  Oh!  These have to go on the blog."  (pause, one more muffin)  .." MMM!  and make sure to tell them that you used cooked oats. You used cooked oats, right?"  And so on.  For those of you who don't know my husband, he is a man of few words.  For those of you who do know him, you probably don't even believe me, but these are actual quotes with actual accentuation to them.  He was even (after the 3rd batch or so about 3 days later) prompted to send me a cherishably,  rare mid-day text stating "what are the odds the last two will be here when you get back from work?".  I'm pretty sure I'm on to something here.  Never mind that they are absolutely delicious for big and small peeps, totally packed with goodness, full of whole grains, no refined sugar and suuuuper easy and fast to make.  I think I timed it at 20 minutes from first measure to out of the oven, as long as your oats are cooked already. 

If you make the gluten-free version, depending on your flour choice, these could seriously be practically a complete meal- just missing maybe 1/4 cup of squash puree or something and they would be perfect.  Use some brown rice and bean flour, fruit?  Jim Gaffigan would agree, these are truly Muffin Vitamins.

Banana Choc Chip Oatmeal Muffins
(preheat oven to 400deg)
1c cooked oats
1egg (or flax egg)
1Tb melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 c milk (I use almond milk)
4Tb liquid sweetener- I typically use Maple syrup
1tsp vanilla
1-1/2c flour (any kind is fine, I use a mix of garb, brown rice, tap starch and sorghum)*
1Tb baking powder
1tsp salt
4T mini choc chips (1/4c)
1 banana chopped very finely

* if using GF flours, I use 1tsp ground psyllium husk or 1Tb ground flax.  Often I use some flax as a part of the flours anyway)

Directions:Mix dry ingredients together.  In separate bowl, mix the wet stuff then combine it all together.  Scoop 2oz (I use ice cream scooper) into 24greased or lined mini-muffin tins and bake for about 12 minutes.  

Consider making extra oatmeal to make the next batch tomorrow.

You may also want to add other nuts and dried fruit and such to your muffs if that is your thing.  It is most certainly NOT mine, but I know your type.
If you want to make regular sized muffins, this will probably make about 8-12 muffs, depending on how much you fill the tins.  Cook for maybe 18-22 min?
2oz ice cream scoop is magic!

Muffin and child to scale.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Crispy Granola Bars (gluten-free/dairy-free)

This recipe came out of a recent need to have granola in the house.  As a recovering child of a hippie, granola wasn't actually a staple- it was considered junk food.  Right along with Grape Nuts and other shocking foods of the like.  Don't get me wrong- it isn't lost on me that I resent all of the organic whole foods and recycling that my mom thrust upon me decades before it was cool- yet I have wholly embraced it as a person and parent.  I just have to live with that.  Anyway, for some reason I have just been craving granola.  A good friend of mine, (Our CarolMerrill), gave me a recipe a year or so back and I finally got to making it.... then Cooks Illustrated put Granola in their recent issue and I felt it was a sign.  As with many things Cooks Illustrated, it sounds great but there are just too many steps to make it perfect- So basically this is a recipe inspired by CI and friends, then a recipe gone wrong in a very yummy way. 

Crispy Granola Bars
  • 2c reg oats
  • 1/4c coarse flour- oat flour or almond flour work great
  • 1/2c crispy (brown) rice cereal(whole foods has a good 365 brand for pretty cheap)
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/4c nut butter of your delight (see note)
  • 1/4c sweetie: I used 2T agave and 2T maple syrup
  • semi-optional: 2-4T mini chocolate chips 
  • optional: 1-2T flax meal, 1T chia seeds or what ever you love to add (nuts, seeds, dried fruit....).  
Nut butter note: my favorite has been to use Sunflower Butter or Almond Butter because of their mild flavor.  When I have made these with Peanut Butter, I have simply found them too Peanut Buttery if you know what I mean.  Mike loved them that way but he is funny like that.

Directions: (Preheat oven to 350deg)
1. Mix dry stuff in one bowl
2. Mix wet stuff together in a separate bowl (as with the Breakfast Cookies, I just build it in a wet ingredient measuring cup)
3. Mix together and smash the heck out of them into a parchment lined pan (really smash them) and cook ~10-12 minutes depending upon if you want a chew or crunch factor.
4.  Let cool for 15-20 minutes before cutting.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies (Gluten-free/Dairy-free)

So these are basically granola bar drops or something.  They will pass as a cookie if they have to (say, if you are trying to get healthy food into your kids *ahem*) but they really are a nutritional snack (and therefore totally OK to eat if, say,  you have given up sweets and treats for Lent as some folks I know).  They are ridiculously easy to make,  totally packable and a great bite to keep you going in a pinch.  The 'recipe' below is absolutely just a suggested combination of ingredients. I would certainly encourage you to add nuts if you like, add dried cranberries, coconut, whatever. Clearly, the above batch was greatly helped by Mia this morning who felt strongly about having goldfish, O's and Honey Sunshine included.  I was just happy they didn't burn, but can't possibly imagine how unpleasantly soggy those fish will be tomorrow. 

I typically just literally pile everything into my 2c wet measuring cup, just adding stuff as I go- start with the applesauce, add peanut butter, then just dump it all in after that, adjusting the oats or whatever I choose to plop into them as I see fit to have the mix the consistency I like.  I am not one who likes much moisture in my foods, so I tend to put more oats and such in to keep them dry and cook them a long time.  If you prefer a more moistureful item, go a little scant on the oats and take them out a few minutes earlier.  I actually tend to keep them out on the counter uncovered to dry and stale out a bit.  I have issues.

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies
  • 1/2c unsweetened applesauce (our mix of applesauce, mashed banana &/or squash puree is good, too)
  • 1/4c nut butter of your liking
  • 1/4tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp vanilla
  • 1/8tsp salt
  • 1Tbls sugar, agave or maple syrup
  • 3T raisins (I greatly prefer currants here)
  • 3/4-1cup whole oats
  • 2-3Tbls mini chocolate chips (optional, but really....)
Directions (preheat oven to 350deg)
As I said above, I just dump all of the ingredients into a 2c measuring pitcher and mix.  I would mix the nut butter and and applesauce first to get it well combined, then add the rest and adjust to your taste.  Then drop in 1oz/1Tbls blobs on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cook 18-20 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Adapted from this recipe at Chocolate Covered Katie.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Roasted Garbanzo beans (Chickpea poppers)

These have become somewhat of a problem around here.  Mike and I are going through them extremely quickly- like 1-2 cans a day - he says they taste like fried chicken.  I finally got around to making some from dry beans to have a little more say in the salt factor, cut costs and get away from the BPA in the cans with the rate we were consuming them!  At any rate, these are delicious, easy to make and very versatile.  Any kid except mine should love these.  They make a great packable snack full of great fiber and protein and are much more satisfying than other snacks I seem to stuff my face with until I feel some sense of fullness.  I have fallen love with making them using curry powder &/or Old Bay, but you can use any spice you think of that sounds tasty. 

If you are using canned garbanzo beans, keep an eye on the amount of sodium used in the brand you are choosing.  I have found they vary wildly and can quickly veer away from being quite as nutritious when you are eating 2g of sodium in a sitting.  Like baking with butter, I think it is best to use unsalted or lowest salted then add your spices as you like it. I will include a note about cooking your own from scratch below, but out of convenience, the recipe is written for canned.

Roasted Garbanzo Beans (preheat oven to 425)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed*
  • ~1tsp-2tbls olive oil (use how much you want or are comfortable with, I just drizzle it out of my bottle and coat the garbs)
  • ~1/2tsp salt
  • ~1/4tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ~1tsp optional spice (curry, Old Bay, smoky paprika, cumin....)
In small/medium bowl, toss the garbanzos with the oil, then add the spices you want.  Spread the beans in a single layer out on a cookie sheet and roast approximately25-35 minutes, stirring and flipping them every 10  minutes or so.  They should generally be firmly chewy when done.  I like it when I occasionally over cook a batch and have garbanzo nuts, but Mike and I differ there...

*If cooking from dry beans, simply toss your dry garbs in a pot of water with at least 3 inches water over the top of the beans and bring to boil, then simmer gently for about 2 hours, then drain.  I found that when I did it this way vs. from canned beans, they cooked a little more quickly and were a little crunchy, more like corn nuts.  You could very easily make these and a batch of Chocolate Chip Blondies and be set with a delicious power snack combo.


I don't want to sell this smoked salmon wonder salad short, but the Kale salad truly is over the moon.  I just lost my pictures with a computer crash.  boo.