Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Citrus-y Chicken Tacos

During my eternal quest for yummy but EASY dinners that my kids will eat, I ran across an interesting recipe for chicken tacos at  The original recipe calls for lemonade and Worcestershire sauce; I couldn't quite get my head around Worcestershire sauce with chicken, so I changed it up a bit by substituting more traditional taco flavors (cumin, Old Bay seasoning, and McCormick taco seasoning).  I also used lemon juice, white wine, and agave nectar in place of the lemonade.

The citrus flavors make these tacos truly special; my husband asks for them quite often now, and both kids love them too!


1/2 onion, chopped (or 2 T dried onion flakes)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1-2 tsp garlic powder)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cut up (can substitute cooked or canned chicken)
1 T olive oil
3 T lemon juice
1-2 T lime juice
1-2 T agave nectar or honey (adjust amount to taste)
3/4 - 1 C white wine or water
salt, pepper to taste
2 tsp cumin
1 T taco seasoning (McCormick is gluten free)
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning


Saute onion in olive oil until translucent, then add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds longer.  Add the chicken and saute until cooked through (3 or 4 minutes on med-high).  If using previously cooked chicken and dried onion flakes, you should skip this and just add your ingredients to the next step, below.

Add lemon and lime juices, agave or honey, wine or water, cumin, salt, pepper, and the taco and Old Bay seasonings.  Feel free to increase or reduce seasonings as you see fit. 

Reduce heat to medium and stir frequently until liquid has evaporated. Serve in taco shells with your favorite condiments (shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, guacamole or sliced avocado, salsa, sour cream,  etc).

P.S. Instead of pre-made taco shells I usually buy regular corn tortillas and saute them very briefly in oil on high heat (a few seconds each side), then I blot the excess oil very well with paper towels and fold into a taco shell shape.  We prefer these softer shells to the store-bought variety.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Our new favorite chili: White Bean and Ground Turkey

With the advent of cold weather, I've been experimenting with warm comforting foods like chili, and was pleasantly surprised when I tried a recipe for White Bean and Chicken Chili by Giada de Laurentiis.  The fennel seed gives such a wonderful flavor to this chili, and when topped with a bit of Parmesan cheese, it's fabulous!  It's also a very healthy chili, lower in fat due to the ground turkey and higher in nutrition because of the spinach.

I modified it slightly to suit our taste and to make it gluten free; here is my version:


2 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds ground turkey or chicken
1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning
2 T ground cumin
1 T fennel seeds
1 T dried oregano
1 T chili powder
1/2 T Old Bay Seasoning
3 T sweet rice flour, or other gluten free flour (even Pamela's Baking Mix should work)
2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, drained
1 bag pre-washed baby spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
4 - 5 C low-sodium gluten free chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
Grated Parmesan cheese


In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground turkey, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, chili powder, and Old Bay. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Stir the sweet rice flour into the meat mixture. Add the beans, spinach, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cover with lid tilted to allow steam to escape and simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. This is a great meal, especially served with gluten free corn bread on a cold winter's night!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yes, I'm still alive....and in Idaho!

Beautiful Boise

Sorry about the very long gap in my posts.... 2011 has been quite a year for me!  So many changes... I'll just mention a couple of the big ones.

First biggie: I've had to stop working due to my health issues.  The kindest employers in the entire world had been letting me work from home (from BED!) on my laptop for an entire year, but by April I was feeling so ill and having so much trouble being on the computer that I ended up on long-term disability leave.   Of course I'm still depressed about it, but that's life!

Second biggie: Due to changed financial circumstances, we moved from Pismo Beach, CA to the somewhat-less-expensive town of Kuna in Southern Idaho:

main street in Kuna
Kuna and the other towns in the greater Boise area are great, don't get me wrong.... but I do miss the ocean and the mild weather!  However, my adopted special-needs kiddos are getting GREAT services here, my husband is in seventh heaven because he's a fan of Boise State Bronco football, and I LOVE being close to one of my adult daughters and her family, plus several other relatives who live in Idaho.

Yes, we are still gluten free.... in fact I'm still aspiring to be entirely grain free, because I feel better that way, but it's been difficult to cook much because of my illnesses so I've had to rely heavily on take-out foods at times, especially chicken enchiladas with ranchera sauce from El Gallo Giro and gluten-free pizza and pasta from Smokey Mountain Pizzeria.  Yummy but grain-based!

I intend to continue to post here as often as I can.  I do have a few new recipes to share with you here; they will also be posted over in my Gluten Free Recipe Archive.

More soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Product Review plus a MENU PLAN!

The yummy-looking pie in the picture above is a cherry pie I made for Christmas using the Gluten Free Pantry's Perfect Pie Crust mix. 

I've fallen in love with that pie crust mix and wanted to share my experiences with, it's not grain free, just gluten free, but the crust comes out amazingly tender and flaky!  I rarely make pie in any case, usually only on holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it has been difficult to find a good gluten free pastry recipe.  This mix does the job and makes a WONDERFUL crust.

I should tell you that I'm still striving to be grain free as much as possible.  I don't manage to be grain free for every meal, but I'm doing better, and have lost close to 20 pounds in the past few months, although I just managed to "hold steady" over the holidays.

I've been in a lot of pain lately from a new condition called erythromelalgia that mostly affects my feet.  The best way to keep it under control is to elevate my feet and keep them cool, but I find it difficult to cook with my feet elevated, LOL!

I realize it's been a very long time since I put out a menu plan...a very long time.  But I decided to do one this week!   Once again I should explain that for me, this is a tentative plan.  It has to be flexible because I just don't know how I will be feeling from day to day.  Those of you with chronic illnesses will understand what I mean!

Monday: Chili (served over rice or corn chips for those who are not grain free), green salad

Tuesday: Risotto with shrimp and mushrooms, steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Crockpot Pomegranate Beef, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots

Thursday: Baked potatoes with choice of toppings (namely, leftovers from Monday or Wednesday!), green salad

Friday:  Crockpot Thai Chicken, rice (I use cauliflower rice for grain-free/low carb "rice")

Saturday: Salmon patties, quinoa pilaf with mushrooms, green beans sauteed with red bell peppers

Sunday: Gluten free pasta with gluten free marinara sauce plus Aidell's gluten free meatballs (I use spaghetti squash as my grain free pasta), green salad

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grain-Free Casein-Free Banana Berry Bundt Cake!

Well, some of you have seen this recipe's nearly identical to my Banana Blueberry Muffin recipe.  But I wanted to do something a little different this time, so I baked the muffin batter in a Bundt cake pan.  My family loved the way it turned out: moist and tender, with a texture similar to pound cake, and bursting with berries!


2 large (or 3 small) very ripe bananas, about 1 1/2 - 2 cups mashed
1/4 C melted coconut oil or grapeseed oil
3/4 C agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs
3/4 C coconut flour
1 C plus 3 T almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 rounded C blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, or raspberries, or a mixture (if fresh, dry them well after washing)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin pans generously with shortening (I use Spectrum).

In a large bowl mash the bananas and beat until smooth; add the eggs, agave, vanilla, and oil and beat with a hand-held mixer or stand mixer until smooth and "emulsified" (meaning there should not be a skim of oil on top, but the oil should be completely incorporated). In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Dump the dry ingredients into the banana mixture; mix together thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Fold in the berries, or you can simply layer the berries in the Bundt pan alternately with the batter if you wish.

Spoon muffin batter into a greased Bundt cake pan. Bake at 350 for approximately 40 - 50 minutes, depending on your oven, until deep golden brown on top.  You may test the cake the same way you test a pumpkin pie: insert a table knife and if it comes out clean it's done.  My cake took 50 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it to wire racks to finish cooling.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Letter To People who are NOT struggling with Chronic Pain

Well, I've been absent from this blog for a LONG time.  In fact, I haven't posted since before Halloween.  And now we've celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.  But I decided not to apologize this time.  I couldn't really help it.  I've been ill, and I've been trying to post a bit on my new Lyme blog as well.

In a Chronic Pain forum that I participate in from time to time, there is a reporter who is asking to interview people about their daily lives with chronic pain.   I have emailed her indicating my willingness to discuss my own life and my challenges.

Of course, I do wish each of you a Happy and Healthy New Year, and hope that you do NOT have to deal with chronic illness or chronic pain.

But this reporter brought to mind a letter that has been circulating in email and posted various forums for some time; the author is unknown.  I'm posting it here because it really tells it like it is; it is truly worth reading:

Having chronic pain means many things change, and a lot of them are invisible. Unlike having cancer or being hurt in an accident, most people do not understand even a little bit about chronic pain and its effects, and of those that think they know something, many are actually misinformed.

In the spirit of informing those of you who wish to understand...these are the things that I would like you to understand about me before you judge me.

Please understand that being sick does not mean that I’m not still a human being. I have to spend most of my day in considerable pain and exhaustion, and if you visit, sometimes I don’t seem like much fun to be with, but I’m still me — stuck inside this body. I still worry about school, my family, my friends, and most of the time, I’d still like to hear you talk about yours.

Please understand the difference between “happy” and “healthy”. When you’ve got the flu, you probably feel miserable with it, but I’ve been sick for years. I can’t be miserable all the time. In fact I work hard at not being miserable. So, if you’re talking to me and I sound happy, it means I’m happy, that’s all. It doesn't mean I’m not in a lot of pain, or not extremely tired, or that I’m getting better, or any of those things. Please don’t say, “Oh, you’re sounding better!” or “But your looking so healthy!”... I am merely coping. I am sounding happy and trying to look normal. If you want to comment on that, you’re welcome.

Please understand that being able to stand up for ten minutes doesn't necessarily mean that I can stand up for twenty minutes, or an hour. Just because I managed to stand up for thirty minutes yesterday doesn't mean that I can do the same today. With a lot of diseases you’re either flat on your back or you can move. With this one, it gets more confusing everyday. It can be like a yo-yo. I never know from day to day, how I am going to feel when I wake up. In most cases, I never know from minute to minute. That is one of the hardest, most frustrating, components of chronic pain.

Please repeat the above paragraph substituting, “sit up”, “walk”, “think”, “concentrate”, “be sociable”, and so on, for the phrase "stand up" applies to everything. That is what chronic pain does to you.

Please understand that chronic pain is variable. It’s quite possible (for many it’s common) that one day I am able to walk to the park and back, while the next day I’ll have trouble getting to the next room. Please don’t attack me when I’m ill by saying, “But you did it before!” or “Oh come on, I know you can do this!” If you want me to do something, then ask if I can. In a similar vein, I may need to cancel a previous commitment at the last minute. If it happens, please do not take it personally. If you are able, please try to remember how very lucky you are--to be physically able to do all the things you can do.

Please understand that “getting out and doing things” does not make me feel better, and can often make me seriously worse. You don’t know what I go through or how I suffer in my own private time. Telling me that I need to exercise, or do some things to get my mind off it may frustrate me to tears, and is not correct and if I was capable of doing some things any or all the time, don’t you think I would? I am working with my doctor and am doing what I am supposed to do.

Another statement that hurts is, “You just need to push yourself more, try harder…” Obviously, chronic pain can deal with the whole body, or be localized to specific areas. Sometimes participating in a single activity for a short period of time can cause more damage and physical pain that you can imagine. Not to mention the recovery time, which can be intense. You can’t always read it on my face or in my body language. Also, chronic pain may cause secondary depression (wouldn’t you get depressed and down if you were hurting constantly for months or years?), but it is not created by depression.

Please understand that if I say I have to sit down/lie down/stay in/take these pills *now*, that probably means that I have to do it right NOW - it can’t be put off or forgotten just because I’m somewhere, or I’m even in the middle of doing something. Chronic pain does not forgive, nor does it wait for anyone.

If you want to suggest a cure for me, please don’t. It’s not because I don’t appreciate the thought, and it’s not because I don’t want to get well. Lord knows that isn’t true. In all likelihood, if you’ve heard of it or tried it, so have I. In some cases, I may have been made sicker, not better. This can involve side effects or allergic reactions. It also includes failure, which in and of it self can make me feel even lower. If there were something that cured, or even helped people with my form of chronic pain, then we would know about it. There is worldwide networking (both on and off the Internet) between people with chronic pain. If something worked we would KNOW.

It’s definitely not for lack of trying. If, after reading this, you still feel the need to cure, then so be it. I may or may not take what you said and discuss it with my doctor.

If I seem touchy, it’s probably because I am. It’s not how I try to be. A matter of fact, I try very hard to be normal. I hope you will try to understand. I have been, and am still, going through a lot. Chronic pain is hard for you to understand unless you have had it. It wreaks havoc on the body and the mind. It is exhausting and exasperating. Almost all the time, I know that I am doing my best to cope with this, so accept me as I am. I know that you literally can not understand my situation unless you have been in my shoes, but as much as is possible, I am asking you to try and be understanding.

In many ways I depend on you – on people who are not sick. I need you to visit me when I’m too sick to go out. Sometimes I need you to help with the shopping, cooking or cleaning. I may need you to take me to the doctor, or to the store. You are my link to the normalcy of life. You can help me to keep in touch with the parts of life that I miss and fully intend to undertake again, just as soon as I am able.

I know I've asked a lot of you, and I do thank you for listening. It really does mean a lot to me.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Fruit Crumble Redux - TYPO CORRECTED!!

 OK, I tried making the apple-pear-berry crumble again the other night; this time I used my oven thermometer to keep track of the temperature.  Unfortunately it fluctuated quite a bit, but it seemed to AVERAGE around 325 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the 40 minutes it was in the oven.

While I was reviewing the recipe I posted the other day, I discovered a TYPO in the ingredients!!  :(

I've now fixed the old post, and am posting the recipe again, just to be sure that everyone has the corrected version.  I made a couple of other minor changes as well.  I'm SO sorry about that and I hope that you didn't have a bad experience with this recipe already!!

Please give it one more try!

Triple-Coconut Berry-Apple-Pear Crumble
("triple" because I use coconut flour, coconut nectar, and coconut oil!)



1 C almond flour
1/2 C coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
pinch or two of nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C of coconut nectar (or 1/4 C agave nectar)
1/3 C melted coconut oil (or melted butter)


 4 large pears, peeled and sliced (or 2 pears and 2 medium apples, very THINLY sliced)
1 1/2  - 2 C fresh or frozen berries
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot
2-3 T coconut nectar (or honey or agave)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly oil the bottom of an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.

Mix together the dry ingredients for the topping, then add the coconut oil and coconut nectar.  Blend well; it should be stiff and somewhat crumbly, of course.

Toss the fruit together with the other ingredients for the filling.  Sprinkle a small amount of the crumble topping on the the bottom of the pie plate, then spread the filling in the pan.  Use your fingers to crumble the remaining topping over the fruit filling.

Bake at 325 F for 30 - 40 minutes.  After approximately 30 minutes test with a sharp knife, skewer or toothpick; if the apple/pear slices are very tender, and the topping is a deep golden brown, remove from oven.  Serve warm as is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.