While I will admit to a fondness for baked beans, I’ve always shied away from the canned version because I am not a fan of sweet foods. Sure, I’ll indulge if I encounter the canned version, but I won’t buy them unless I have a serious craving.
Yeah, I crave baked beans.
If the craving is minor and time is plentiful — or I know I need a killer dish to bring to a barbecue — I go straight for my crockpot and let the beans cook overnight. The slow cooker does all the work of cooking the beans through while developing a rich sauce that is just sweet enough with some tangy and spicy flavors to balance that sweetness. Best of all: no soaking required! I just toss everything into the crockpot, and let it work while I catch up on TV and much-needed sleep.
When I feed people, I like to cook up a wide variety of foods (except desserts, a food group I haven’t mastered…so I generally hit our local ice cream shop, or let the guest who offers to bring something take on the dessert task!). Obviously, if it comes out of my kitchen, it’s gonna be gluten free.
But I don’t advertise that fact. Continue reading “They’ll Never Guess It’s Gluten Free”
For a few years, I had the nutty idea that healthy appetizers should be served at parties. I slipped them in alongside chips and dips. It sorta worked…the chips and dip always disappeared, and, yes, people went for the carrots and celery. Because they were even better covered in onion dip.
Since commercial dried onion soup mixes can contain gluten (as of this writing, it contains a barley product), I had to come up with my own recipe. Luckily, there’s nothing I enjoy more than letting onions caramelize on the stove while I’m making other foods for a party. This recipe makes a good amount of dip — adjust ingredients to fit the number of people you’re feeding.
And don’t be surprised to find every bit of it gone by the end of the evening!
Fall in Southern California is more a concept than a season. While my East Coast and Midwest friends talk about cooler temperatures and extol the virtues of casseroles and other cool-weather dishes, I often grill until January.
Still, I am not immune to cravings…and an overabundance of squash. And while I love a good soup, sometimes something more hearty, yet still light, is necessary. This curry — which can be made with any squash, to be honest — is filling, just spicy enough, and perfect for warm or cool evenings.
As a bonus, this recipe is vegan, making it a perfect dish for dinner parties or potlucks.
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.
I’m not a huge tomato sauce person, but lasagna is one of my weaknesses. How could I resist? Gooey cheese, layers of meat and noodles, that sauce pulling the whole thing together. And because I couldn’t find gluten-free lasagna noodles ahead of time, I bought 12 boxes from Amazon. That’s a whole lotta lasagna.
The way I figure it, I have enough noodles to last me several years!*
It takes about five minutes of Internet research to discover that everyone has a favorite lasagna recipe, ranging from quick to laborious. Or, there is no wrong way to make a lasagna. Take what works for you and don’t worry too much about doing it “right” — as long as it’s tasty, you’re good.
This recipe involves making your own Bolognese sauce, so it will take some time (think of a terrific sauce simmering on the stove all afternoon, that’s what we’re doing here). Letting the sauce simmer develops a rich flavor — one I find hard to replicate with store-bought sauces (which, of course, I use when time is working against me).
As you will see in the notes, you can skip steps 1 − 6 if you are pressed for time.
* — Okay, truth: those noodles will be gone in no time since I’m testing different lasagna styles.
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.