Monday, February 27, 2012

Taco Casserole

Loved this dish- and my husband did too! Super easy and fairly light tasting as least my version was. :)

I used a little more than 24 tortilla chips for the bottom of the casserole...just eyeball it until it looks good and covered with no gaps. I used extra garlic, because I love it. I also used ground turkey instead of chicken because it is nice and lean and not heavy to eat. I substituted Great Northern beans for the black beans because I prefer the flavor and I used fresh salsa (NOT JARRED). I used a Mexican Blend cheese and added as much as I wanted of that, plus olives on top as well.

I used spicy guacamole and sour cream for garnish and had extra tortilla chips for dipping to add a little bit of crunch.

So so good! Definitely making this one again.

24 Tortilla Chips, plus additional for serving

1 Tbs Chili Oil (or olive oil and red pepper flakes)

1 Onion, chopped

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 pound Ground Chicken

2 Tbs Taco Seasoning

1 can Black Beans, drained

1 cup Salsa

1 cup shredded fat free or reduced fat Cheese

Optional: Other toppings such as jalapenos, olives, etc.

Heat oven to 350.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add meat and taco seasoning. Cook, breaking up meat with a spatula, for about 5 minutes. Add beans and salsa. Mix well and continue to cook until salsa thickens.
Line the bottom of a large baking dish with tortilla chips, pressing down on them lightly to break them into bite-sized pieces. Spread the meat and bean mixture over the chips and top with cheese. Add sliced jalapenos or other toppings that you ant to be cooked. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and gooey.
Scoop up with additional chips if desired.

Gluten free: double check your taco seasoning.

Original recipe and photo from
Thank you, thank you for sharing!

Creole-Style Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

With Mardi Gras being last week, I decided to celebrate a few days late (oops) with a creole style shrimp and sausage gumbo! This was my first time making a gumbo and I was slightly intimidated. The process is just so involved and does take a bit of time to do. This is definitely something to make when you have plenty of time to do it. It will probably just be a yearly tradition during Mardi Gras for us! However, it is very good! I'm a shrimp and sausage lover as it is. So this was great for me! All of the flavors blended so well together, with just a hint of spice. Very good.

I made two changes because I didn't have time to do some of the extra steps. Here's what I did differently to save on time (hopefully not on flavor!):
1) I used 1 quart of chicken broth instead of making my own shrimp stock.
2) I omitted the celery...not a fan.

Overall, very yummy! Hope you enjoy as well!


1 1/2 pounds small (51-60 per pound) shrimp, peeled & deveined (shells & tails reserved)
1 cup clam juice
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
12 oz frozen sliced okra (sliced about 1/2 inch thick)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup chopped parsley
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups steamed brown rice, hot
4 scallions, thinly sliced


1. In a medium sauce pot, combine reserved shrimp shells and tails with 1 quart water, and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain. Discard the shells and tails. Combine the shrimp stock with the clam juice and 1 quart cold water. Set aside.
2. Add 1/2 cup vegetable oil to a large Dutch oven or sauce pan, and heat on medium-high for about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, stirring constantly to work out any lumps. Continue stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a deep shade of brown (a mix between the colors of milk and dark chocolate) and gives off a toasty aroma, about 20 minutes. Add the onion, pepper, celery, okra, garlic, thyme, cayenne, a good pinch of salt and a few good grinds of pepper. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Slowly add half of the stock mixture and stir vigorously to combine. Add the rest of the shrimp stock mixture. Add bay leaves. Bring to a simmer. Decrease heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. (You may need to skim the surface from time to time, to remove any scum that collects on top.)
4. As the soup simmers, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and heat one minute more. Add sliced andouille sausage to the pan in an even single layer and sauté until crisp and golden brown on the bottoms, about three minutes. Flip over the slices and sauté the other sides, about two more minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. (If you have too much sausage to fit in a single layer in the sauté pan, do this in two steps.) Once all the sausage is sautéed, add a quarter cup water to the empty sauté pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits and pieces sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer about two minutes, then pour these juices into the simmering soup.
5. After the soup has simmered thirty minutes, stir in the sautéed sausage. Simmer thirty more minutes. Stir in the shrimp, then simmer until cooked through, about five more minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Fill serving bowls with a generous ladleful of gumbo. Top with about a third a cup of hot steamed brown rice. Garnish with sliced scallions.

Gluten free: Use all purpose GF flour of your choice and double check your sausage.

Original recipe and photo from

Thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cream Cheese Chicken Chili (Slow Cooker)

This was by far one of the easiest chili's I have ever made in my life- which is grand. Plus, not only was it easy... it was delicious. Me and my husband both loved it. (Slow cookers are just the best aren't they??) It was my first time eating a chicken chili too. And I loved it! The only change I made to this recipe was that I used Great Northern beans instead of black beans- and only because I prefer the taste. I'm sure either way is just as good! I also doubled the recipe to make more so that we could have left overs. So very good! For a little extra kick, my husband added a pinch of cayenne pepper to his portion and said it was perfect.

I just love when I find recipes like this! Super easy and good. Excellent. :)

1 can black beans
1 can corn, undrained
1 can Rotel, undrained
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 8 oz package light cream cheese
2 chicken breasts

Drain and rinse black beans. Place chicken at bottom of pot, then pour out whole can of corn (undrained), rotel, and black beans. Top with seasonings and ranch mix. Stir together. Place cream cheese on top. Cover with lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir cream cheese into chili. Use 2 forks to shred chicken. Stir together and serve.

Gluten free: double check your rotel and ranch dressing and you are set.

*Recipe and photo found on (one of my fav food sites!), adapted from Tried and Tasty*
Loved this! Thanks again for another wonderful recipe!

Gluten-free "Hamburger Helper"

Really, this dish can be made gluten free or not...just use regular pasta and you are good! And guess what? It's yummy! Me and my husband both enjoyed this very much. I used monterey jack cheese and penne brown rice pasta. Very easy and good. Much better than any other boxed hamburger helper in my opinion. But that's probably because I prefer almost anything homemade. I followed the recipe exactly as is and it was great. I may add a bit more garlic, or garlic salt to mine next time...and perhaps try it with cheddar cheese just to mix things up!

Enjoy! :)

2-3 cups brown rice pasta – rotini, macaroni, penne or any chunky shape
canola oil, for cooking
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef or bison
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 750 mL jar tomato sauce
1-2 cups grated cheddar, Monterey Jack or other meltable cheese

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to the package directions until tender but still slightly firm to bite. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add the beef or bison and cook until no pink remains, breaking it up with a spatula or spoon. Add the garlic and red pepper and cook a few minutes more, until the vegetables are soft.
Add the tomato sauce and heat through. Add the drained pasta and stir to combine everything well. If you like, stir in the cheese until it melts, or sprinkle it overtop and place the skillet (as long as it’s ovenproof) into the oven or under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese. Serve warm. Serves 4-6.

I love that this is gluten free!!

*Recipe and photo found on*
Thanks for sharing!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Individual Brownie Trifles

For Valentine's Day dessert we decided to try this simple and beautiful dessert! So super easy and you can't go wrong with this one. And they are so pretty! Which I love. :)

The only thing that I did differently was make my own gluten free brownies. King Arthur or Betty Crocker have great gluten free brownie mixes. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly and they turned out absolutely divine. A perfect ending to a perfect night. :)

2/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
8 2x2 inch purchased baked brownies, crumbled into pieces (about 2 cups)
2 cups fresh raspberries or dark sweet cherries, pitted
1 cup chocolate ice cream topping
Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

1. In a chilled large mixing bowl combine whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form; set aside.
2. Divide half of the crumbled brownies between 4 large parfait glasses or water goblets. Divide half of the raspberries, ice cream topping, and whipped cream between the glasses, creating layers. Repeat layers with remaining brownies, raspberries, ice cream topping, and whipped cream. If desired, sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve immediately or cover and chill up to 4 hours.

Gluten free: make your own or buy pre-made gluten free brownies.

Original recipe and photo from

Pork and Shrimp Pancit

For Valentine's this year, me and my husband both had to work, so we didn't feel like going out to dinner. Instead we stayed in, turned on some nice music, and cooked this delicious Filipino dinner together- which was so much fun. Some friends of ours that live there first introduced us to this dish, and then I found a super easy and yummy version on (submitted by Rayna Jordan).

It really is a lot easier than you may think. And last night, I decided to do it using only one pot the entire time, which saved me on dirty dishes (yes!). Heat a pot of water on the stove until it's almost boiling, then remove from the heat and soak your rice noodles for 20 minutes. Then drain and transfer to your serving dish. To the same pot, add your oil and heat to medium (not med-high). Put the noodles back into the pot and saute for a minute or two (no longer or you will over cook the noodles). Then transfer back to your serving dish.

Next, I add a bit more oil to the same pot, and cook my pork first. Once the pork is almost done, I start adding the onion, garlic, ginger. *Tip* do not add shrimp until very, very last if they are pre-cooked or else they will be overcooked and rubbery. After I add the cabbage, oyster sauce and chicken broth, THEN I add my shrimp just before I cover and let it cook on med-low for a minute or two until the cabbage starts to wilt. Also, I used sliced cabbage instead of bok choy, but either is great. Sometimes, I even add some soy sauce to my individual servings to add a little extra flavor too. It's up to you! I know others who make this sometimes add shredded carrots and snow peas too for extra flavor and color. It's yummy that way too!

We just love this dish!

1 (6.75 ounce) package rice noodles
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups cooked small shrimp, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked pork
4 cups shredded bok choy
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 green onion, minced

1.Soak the rice noodles in warm water for 20 minutes; drain.
2.Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a wok or large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Saute noodles for 1 minute. Transfer to serving dish, and keep warm. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet, and saute onion, garlic, ginger, shrimp and pork for 1 minute. Stir in bok choy, oyster sauce and chicken broth. Season with pepper flakes. Cover, and cook for 1 minute, or until bok choy is wilted. Spoon over noodles, and garnish with minced green onion.

Gluten free: just double check your oyster sauce and chicken broth and you are good to go! Another reason why I love this recipe so much! :)

Thank you again Rayna Jordan for sharing this recipe on for us! Love it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Baked Chicken-Bacon Alfredo

My favorite thing about this recipe was that it was so super easy. Took no time at all. While the noodles were boiling, I chopped the veggies and bacon and then you just toss it all together! I tossed all of my ingredients right in the 8x8 dish instead of dirtying more than one dish. So that was even better! If you like alfredo pasta dishes, then you should love this. It's just a fun play off of a chicken alfredo. Me and my husband really enjoyed it. I hope you do too!

8 oz. penne or bowtie pasta (I used penne)
1 16 oz. jar alfredo sauce
2 chicken breasts, grilled and chopped (about 2 c. chopped chicken)
6 oz. (1/2 package) cooked bacon, chopped
1 14-oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 c. chopped green onions (about 1 decent-sized bunch)
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350.
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
When pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce. Toss with chopped chicken, bacon, artichoke hearts, green onions, and 1/2 c. mozzarella. Season to taste.
Transfer mixture to an 8×8″ baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is bubbly.

Gluten free: use GF pasta of choice and alfredo sauce.

Original recipe and photo from Our Best Bites, found on

Thanks for sharing!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Karina's Chocolate Truffle Cake

I absolutely love and adore my amazing husband. This week, I celebrated my birthday. My husband wanted to do something special for me, so he decided to make me a birthday cake, from scratch. (So cute!!) Since I am gluten free, he researched until he found a recipe that was just right. He came across this recipe from for a wonderfully rich and delicious chocolate truffle cake (flourless). He made it all by himself, I was so proud and felt so special! :) He did modify it just a tad because he just used ingredients that were already in our kitchen. And I can tell you, that it tasted heavenly just the same. So either way you make it, I'm sure you will love it. (My husband's changes are below in italics).

This cake is very rich and will not need a huge slice of this to satisfy your chocolate craving. BUT it is so good!! Chocolate lovers, you will LOVE this. Even if you're not (even I don't always go for chocolate), you will still enjoy this wonderful dessert. It's devine.


1 cup whipping cream (1 cup 2% milk)
2 1/2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter (margarine)
2 tablespoons bourbon vanilla extract (regular vanilla extract)
7 organic free-range eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Organic cacao powder with maca, for dusting
(We did not have any at home, so he used a very thin layer of cream cheese frosting...however we can't wait to try this cake with cool whip on top as well.)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the inside bottom of a 9-inch Springform cake pan with a circle of parchment paper. Wrap a large piece of foil around the outside of the pan, covering the bottom and sides, to catch any leaking drips. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, gently heat the cream over low heat. When the cream is fairly hot, melt the chocolate chips by adding them slowly to the pan as you whisk. Add the butter, in pieces. Whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted. Add the vanilla extract. As soon as the mixture is melted, smooth, and glossy remove it from the heat.

Using a wire whisk attachment, beat the eggs, light brown sugar and sea salt until the eggs are foamy and doubled in volume, roughly 3-4 minutes.
Slowly add the cooling chocolate mixture to the eggs, and beat gently until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for one hour, until the cake is set and cracked. It will still appear a bit loose in the center, underneath. This is fine.

Place the cake pan on a wire rack to cool. When the cake is close to room temperature, lightly cover and chill the cake overnight.

Before serving, gently loosen the cake from the sides of the pan using a thin flexible spatula. Release the Springform clasp and remove the ring. Place the cake on a cake plate.

Dust the cake with a sifting of cacao powder with maca.

Read more:

I love that this recipe is already gluten free and you can serve it to all!! No one will know the difference. :)

Original recipe and photos from
Thank you for giving my husband this wonderful recipe to make my birthday extra special this year!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Superbowl weekend! What better way to celebrate the game than eating good food?? For Sunday, I decided to try out this fun looking recipe for Philly Cheesesteak sloppy joes adapted from Rachael Ray. My husband is a big philly cheesesteak sandwich guy anyway, so I thought I would give these a go. And they were great! My husband especially enjoyed them. And by the way, his two cents for this post are, "You have to butter and toast the rolls in the broiler first. That's the key." So if you want this sandwich to turn out just right, you must toast your rolls everyone! :)

Overall this is a fairly easy recipe, just a few different steps. My husband helped with different steps, which was greatly appreciated. With this recipe, it is definitely a good idea to have everything chopped and prepped before you even begin, because it all moves fairly quickly. I did let my meat simmer longer than two minutes because it was too runny for my taste...I wanted that meat to absorb the beef stock and steak sauce almost completely..and after two minutes there was still a bit of liquid. I also added plenty of salt and next time might even add a bit more steak sauce for some extra kick. Let me know if you try anything different and how it turned out!

Overall, a fun, different meal- perfect for a great game day!! Will be making this again.

*Adapted from Rachael Ray*

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 softball-sized onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons steak sauce
1 cup beef stock
Salt and ground black pepper
4 dinner rolls
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup provolone, shredded

In large skillet over medium-high heat add the oil and then brown the ground beef, about 5-6 minutes. Add the onion and green pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables start to get tender. Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock, season with salt and pepper, bring up to a bubble and cook about 2 minutes.

Split open rolls and remove most of the soft insides, leaving a bed to hold the meat mixture. Toast the rolls and set aside.

While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a medium-size pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook about 1 minute. Whisk in milk, bring up to a bubble and let thicken, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the cheese.

To serve, place a scoopful of the meat mixture onto the bottom of the rolls, then top with the cheese sauce and replace the top of the roll.

Gluten free: use GF steak sauce, flour, and rolls/buns.

*Found this recipe on*
Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe!!