Category Archives: the gf lifestyle

Spicy Taco Salad

I made tacos last weekend, using a boxed kit. It was all very tasty, but those taco shells are so tiny. So confining. I kept breaking them with my overly ambitious and optimistic attempts to fill them. I eventually gave up and just made piles of the filling.

Today, I used up the leftovers in this delicious salad. I had about a cup each of spiced refried beans and cumin spiced beef. I heated them in the microwave, and then dressed the plate, first with beans and then with the meat. I topped all of that with cheese (a mozzarella-cheddar blend). I microwaved that gently to melt the cheese. Then, I placed freshly chopped romaine lettuce around the edge of the plate. I topped the cheese with a generous helping of pickled jalapeno slices and dollops of sour cream. I slathered everything with green tomatillo salsa and then sprinkled chopped green onions over it all. Finally, I sprinkled two broken up taco shells across the top.

This was so delicious. There was lots of crunch from the lettuce and the taco bits. And the temperature contrast between the hot beans, beef and cheese and the cold lettuce and sour cream was great, too.

I think next time, I won’t bother buying taco shells. I’ll just use nacho chips. I used the packaged spice mix, but I can replicate that quite easily too. I also think chopped cilantro would be a fantastic addition on top.

I highly recommend this approach to tacos if you too are finding yourself hemmed in by very tiny hard shells.

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Fondue on Demand

I have a weakness for the cheese sections of food stores. I find myself gravitating towards them, whether I need cheese or not. I’m currently not allowing myself to buy any more cheese until I work through some of what I have in my fridge.

With that goal in mind, I made a batch of this fondue recipe. Of course, I didn’t use beer because most beer contains gluten. I had some leftover prosecco in the freezer, so I used that instead. I have also made it using dry apple cider, which gives it a fantastic flavour.

When I make this recipe, I like to double the quantity of caraway seeds and leave them whole. I am also more generous with the onions and garlic but tend to skip the sherry completely. For this batch, I used Etorki and Gruyère, plus some mozzarella for meltability. A blend of old Cheddar and Emmental is also fantastic.

I like to pour my finished fondue into a pan and then let it solidify in the fridge. Then, I freeze it in small ziploc bags so that I can easily thaw some out whenever I want to. I took some for lunch one day last week, along with some bread cubes I’d made by cutting up a store bought gluten-free bread roll. At the office, all I had to do was to remelt the fondue in the microwave and voilà, I had an instant gourmet meal.

Reheated fondue can be used anywhere a cheese sauce is called for. I had some over reheated roasted potatoes and it was fantastic. I am thinking of having some more with roasted potatoes and dill pickles, and later using it as a topping for eggs on English muffins instead of Hollandaise sauce. Another option, of course, is simply eating it straight from a bowl with a spoon.

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Figgy Pudding: We won’t go until we get some!

I have been rereading Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher novels. I recently started Murder in the Dark, which is set in the Christmas season, and got to a chapter which starts with an epigraph about figgy pudding from “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The obsessive part of my brain kicked in, and I started researching figgy pudding recipes.

I like desserts with dark flavours. I love all things featuring mincemeat, love dark fruitcake, and am passionate about sticky toffee pudding (note to self: blog about STP sometime soon…). So, as I read the recipes, I felt that figgy pudding was right up my street. The recipes featured dates, raisins and figs. As I read on I realized that I actually had copious amounts of all of these dried fruits in my pantry. I also had a large amount of orange juice that needed to be used up, and I had been looking for a way to use it in baking.

This happy confluence led to me trying this recipe. Well, using it as a starting point. I love how she bakes it in individual ramekins. My batter ended up being quite large, so I baked it in a loaf pan. Other changes I made: I added more raisins, so some were in the pureed date and fig mixture and some were left whole; I used orange juice instead of water; I soaked the dried fruits in the orange juice for half an hour before I started cooking (and soaked the raisins that remained whole in more orange juice); I used white sugar instead of honey; and when I took it out of the oven, I spooned more orange juice over the warm cake.

It is delicious and fruity. There is a subtle cinnamon flavour that comes through as well. I had some heavy cream that needed using too, so I just poured some of that over the warm pudding.

The texture is lovely. It is tender and moist. It is a fantastic use of coconut flour, which is such a good binder.

I would happily serve this as a dessert. It is very comforting and perfect for when the weather is frigid. I plan to freeze some portions so I can enjoy it later. Maybe for breakfast. Maybe with custard. Or maybe with whipped cream… So I have lots to look forward to.

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Radish and Cheese Spread (with Fries)

When I was a kid, I loved a sandwich spread my mom used to make: grated radishes and cheddar cheese, with a bit of mayo to hold it together. I ate it as a sandwich filling, on toast and on crackers.

Now that I avoid bread products, I had been trying to come up with new ways to eat it. I think it would be lovely on a bed of lightly dressed greens. And it might be quite good blended with grated cabbage.

But, as I am always working on my quest to find new french fry toppings, it occurred to me that this spread might be fantastic on fries. The scientist in me demanded that I try it, and I can report that it was in fact fantastic. The radish and cheese mixture was nicely chilled, and it made a great contrast with the hot fries. I did four layers: fries, radish spread, fries, radish spread. It was really good and I highly recommend it.

How to make the spread: Grate equal parts of red radishes and old cheddar. Moisten as much as you like with mayonnaise or miracle whip. Add salt and pepper to taste. And that’s it. Enjoy it with the substrate of your choice.

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Eggy Hammy Cheesy

One of my favourite brunch places is Over Easy. Both locations offer efficient service, endless hot coffee and delicious food. Their servers are top notch. But, thanks to the pandemic, Over Easy has been closed for over a year.

My favourite menu item is their Eggy Hammy Cheesy. Their version is described as “a halved & toasted English muffin topped w/ Dijon, three cheese sauce, off-the-bone baked ham, melted aged cheddar cheese & 2 eggs sunny side up, served w/ home fries.” I order it without the English muffin, and it is amazing.

Last week, I made my own version of it.

I started by cubing some ham and then browning it in a pan. Then I toasted a Glutino English muffin and spread grainy Dijon mustard on each half. I fried two eggs in butter and placed one on each muffin half. I reheated a generous amount of cheese sauce made with white Cheddar and poured it over both eggs. Then I sprinkled the crispy ham across the top.

My version was very good, but obviously not the same. I look forward to having the Over Easy version some day soon, in the middle of a bustling restaurant. Fingers crossed.

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

It occurred to me today that one of my guiding principles in the kitchen may simply be finding new ways to eat melted cheese.

Gluten-free living means eating far fewer sandwiches and more things that are free form, like dips.

I happened to have leftover buffalo wing sauce so, in the interests of using up leftovers, I made this dip. I sliced up four green onions, gently cooked two large chicken breasts in the microwave, and grated about two cups of old cheddar. I mixed a package of cream cheese with the leftover buffalo wing sauce, and added in the onions, shredded chicken and half the cheese. I put it all in a pie plate, sprinkled the rest of the cheese on top, and put in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.

As predicted, it was incredibly cheesy. And good. You can vary the heat by choosing how much hot sauce to add. My version had gratuitous butter, in the name of using up leftovers. This made it a bit richer than necessary, but it was still very tasty.

If we ever have potlucks again, this would be a good dish to take. And the heated up leftovers will make an awesome addition to an egg sandwich tomorrow morning.

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Pecan Butterscotch Squares

I have memories of making a recipe for squares obsessively when I was a kid. I remember that they had butterscotch chips and nuts. I loved the squares, and I made them whenever I was allowed to.

Many years later, the obsessive part of my nature has not disappeared. I have been searching, on and off, for a recipe that seemed similar to what I remember for a few years now. I have a feeling that the recipe came from my mother’s old Good Housekeeping cookbook, which is now in storage. So, whenever I thought about, I would do a deep dive into the internet and see what I could find.

Well, I eventually found this recipe. Of course, I had to try it. I bought fresh pecans, which was the only critical ingredient I didn’t have on hand. I used a gluten-free flour blend for the crust, plus a little in the filling. They turned out beautifully. They are reminiscent of a butter tarta loaded butter tart, that is. The nuts and coconut and butterscotch chips all boost the square into something that is very moreish. And snacking on them is easy, because they are so small. The recipe says you can get 64 squares out of a batch. I got 42 rectangles, none of which were huge.

I was a bit concerned that they might be really sweetmy tastes have changed since I was eight… But they were really great. The coconut and nuts tempered the sweetness. It probably helped that I used unsweetened coconut, too.

These would be great to take to a potluck, give as a gift or serve as a company dessert. And they were well-received by gluten eatersmy brother declared that they were “not maliciously gluten-free,” which is high praise coming from him.

I don’t know if this is the same recipe, but it sure seems pretty close. And I will be making them again. Conveniently, I have enough pecans for a second batch.

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Rum Punch: A Taste of the Tropics

Since travel to warmer parts of the world is off the table right now, I thought I would bring a little piece of the tropics to me.

I mixed pineapple nectar, grenadine, lime juice and white rum to create this lovely drink. I made a large batch and am keeping it chilled in my fridge. Given the chilly weather outside right now, ice cubes seemed inappropriate. I do love the whimsy of this glassware, though. It certainly elevates this drink a little.

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Potato-Parsnip Rosti

Sometimes I get obsessed with a recipe and cannot stop thinking about it until I have bought the ingredients. I saw this lovely rosti recipe earlier this week and instantly my brain was filled with thoughts of toasted parsnips and potatoes. The recipe suggests serving it with sour cream laced with caramelized onions, both of which are staples in my diet, so it seemed like a no-brainer.

I made the rosti (with grated potatoes and parsnips and finely sliced onions) in my cast iron pan. When it was fresh, I topped a slab of it with two sunny-side-up eggs, and it was glorious.

Today, I am enjoying leftovers. I sliced the cold rosti, heated it in the microwave and ate it smeared with the caramelized onion sour cream. Bliss. A comforting dish to help you fight the dark days of late December.

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Omelette with Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions and Cheese

I just made this omelette and it was incredibly tasty. Its execution was far from technically perfect (I should have used a different pan), but my mouth couldn’t tell the difference.

I had some leftover mushrooms that had been fried in butter with garlic, salt and pepper and some leftover caramelized onions. I also had already grated pecorino romano, so with very little effort today, I got to both gain fridge space and eat a fantastic breakfast. Win-win.

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