Cachapas (Corn Pancakes)

Cachapas are a sweet and savory (and gluten free!) corn pancake from Venezuela. Traditionally, they’re eaten with a bit of butter and melted cheese (just fold them in half and enjoy!). You can customize them however you want, of course. Pulled pork, roasted vegetables, chicken — all make great fillings for your naturally gluten-free corn pancake. Adjust the size of the pancake (and cooking time) accordingly.

I like to serve mine with a simple salsa either directly over the melted cheese or as a dipping sauce on the side.

(Note: this recipe isn’t 100% authentic — I’ve developed it over time based on lots of research.)

Basic Scrambled Eggs

When my husband was recovering from knee surgery, I made him a lot of scrambled eggs. I figured protein was important for the healing process. At first, he wondered if they were too much trouble…which was when I realized, no, scrambled eggs are no trouble at all. Yes, they take a few minutes longer than a bowl of cottage cheese, but, trouble? None at all.

Eggs are great for gluten-free breakfasts, and good scrambled eggs can be the base for other dishes. Mix in some cooked and crumbled sausage or diced spinach (or other veggies) to jazz up your basic eggs.

Macaroni and Cheese

Years ago during South by Southwest, my husband and I snuck out for a meal by ourselves. We ended up at the Moonshine Grill in downtown Austin. On the menu was an amazing macaroni and cheese with spicy green peppers. The moment we returned home, I started trying to recreate this recipe.

Over time, I stopped trying to make Moonshine’s mac and cheese, focusing instead on making my own. My ever-faithful bookclub has cheerfully (and hungrily) endured my experiments over the years, and there was only one major failure. Note to all: soymilk is not a good substitute for real milk in this instance.

You live, you learn.

From my perspective, the key to good mac and cheese is a mix of cheeses that bring appropriate meltiness and flavor. As a rule, I rely upon good old-fashioned regular milk when making my cheese sauce, but have, once or twice, tried out evaporated milk. The latter does add an interesting creaminess to the sauce…and that weird evaporated milk smell completely disappears in the sauce.

Needless to say, this recipe makes excellent leftovers. I do find that gluten-free pastas tend to absorb a lot of sauce, so I tend to go heavy on the sauce, lighter on the noodles.

Chicken, Sausage, and Spinach Lasagna

It should be obvious by now that I love meals that result in lots of yummy leftovers. Lasagna fits that need perfectly. It’s such a flexible dish — there are so many ways to make it, it can be made ahead of time and popped in the oven later, and it’s a great dish for those nights when it’s your turn to host your book club.

Because my local grocery stores don’t carry gluten-free lasagna noodles, I bought a case from Amazon.com. The price was fantastic, and knowing I have the noodles handy opens up a wide range of of possibilities…including lasagna roll-ups and cupcakes! Once you have your favorite base recipe, it’s easy to try different serving ideas.

I know that most people think of red meat sauce and loads of cheese when they think lasagna (I know I do), but this recipe takes the dish in a whole different direction. You can continue with the Italian flavor profile, mix in a little Mexican or Southwest American, or go wild with Caribbean spices. Whatever tickles your palate.

Sorta Chicken Pot Pie

Once, in a moment of weakness, I confessed my deepest, darkest secret to my former boss: at those times I really needed serious comfort food, I reached for frozen chicken pot pies served over rice. Ain’t nothing healthy about that, but so comforting.

Obviously, I never eat like this in front of my husband. At least, I hope I don’t.

My former boss has never forgotten this. Just like I know about her meatball sandwich cravings. Sometimes, you just need food that serves your soul. Food that reminds you of something…even if that memory is a formerly-frozen chicken pot pie made on an assembly line.

So one day, faced with leftover chicken and carrots and celery that needed to be used, I thought “pot pie”. Then I thought “do I really want to make gluten-free pot pie?” The answer was — and was based quite a bit on the time of day this craving hit — was no. However, I still had the chicken, carrots, and celery.

Something had to be done.

This is definitely not the stuff you remember from your childhood. I serve it over rice (score!). And — in another nod to my misspent youth — took advantage of GF Bisquik to make drop biscuits to serve as my “crust”.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

It’s April in Southern California, and I’m staring at the grill every night saying, “Okay, tomorrow. Tomorrow, we grill.” But this being a weird April for weather, tomorrow comes, and it’s just not quite grilling weather. I mean, we had snow falling in the near mountains just two days ago. I can’t even find the energy to clean the grill.

So I’m thinking soup these days. Lots of soup. My trusty Lentil Soup is on deck (I always have the makings for lentil soup because when the craving hits, it hits hard), but a cruise through the refrigerator reminded me that I had leftover roasted cauliflower. I vaguely recall thinking “soup” at the time. Then the moment came and, voila!, I’d made this soup.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]This recipe is cauliflower soup the long way, but, as you can see from the above, you can shortcut it by using leftover roasted cauliflower. Heck, ain’t nobody making you do the roasting either. It’s your soup, do it the way that works best for you![/box]

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Frittata

Frittatas are one of the most flexible foods you can have in your cooking repertoire. They’re perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and even late night dining. And while this recipe features broccoli, the truth about frittatas is this: you can make them with a variety of ingredients — substitute asparagus or spinach or whatever you have on hand for the broccoli.

And don’t think you have to confine yourself to goat cheese. Freshly grated Parmesan is a great substitute.

Another trick — one that makes preparing this recipe even faster — is to used already cooked veggies. If you do, reduce the saute time in Step 2. You can also use fewer eggs if you have fewer people. Adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

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