Archive for the ‘*The Critic's Choice’ Category

Chicken, Peppers and Onions with Avocado Dill Pesto over Quinoa
April 19, 2010

I know I have been gone for a while and neglecting this blog. I have been busy working on my new business. I am having tons of fun painting. If you want to see my work, please go here.

But a lot has changed since I posted my last recipe. I finally got tested for my allergies. Are you ready for this? I am allergic to yeast, dairy, eggs, in addition to wheat. The worst part is the yeast. If you have a yeast allergy, most likely you have a buildup of yeast in your body. This means that you have to cut all foods out of your diet that feed the yeast. So basically, I can’t eat nuts, vinegar, wine, alcohol, corn, mushrooms, sugar, coffee, tea, colored spices and I am sure I am forgetting something else. I can only have a limited amount of fruit as well. This has really thrown me for a loop. I am having to reteach myself how to cook all over again. Believe me, it is even more difficult than it sounds.

The annoying thing about doing a yeast free diet, is that there are so many differing opinions of what you can and can’t eat. So I am going by the diet laid out in Feast without Yeast. In his book, Bruce Semon has you cut out certain foods in stages. His book has been very helpful to figure out which foods to cut out.

So I am starting to post my recipes again, just so that I can remember what I can make. Hopefully, I can help some other people out there struggling with yeast problems.

yeast free meal

Chicken, Peppers, and Onions with Avocado Dill Pesto over Quinoa

Chicken, Peppers and Onions with Avocado Dill Pesto over Quinoa

2 chicken breasts

10 sweet peppers chopped

1/2 onion chopped

1 clove garlic minced

1 avocado

juice of 1 lime

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh dill

1/4 cup cilantro

1 cup uncooked quinoa



Cook quinoa according to package directions. Salt and pepper chicken breasts liberally. Saute in cast iron skillet and brown on all sides. Add peppers, onions, and garlic and saute until soft. While chicken and peppers are cooking, place avocado, lime juice, dill, cilantro, salt and pepper into food processor. Stream in olive oil until desired consistency. It should be thicker than a dressing and thinner than guacamole. Serve chicken and peppers over quinoa, and scoop dollop of avocado pesto on top.


Spinach Pesto Enchiladas
January 15, 2010

Spinach Pesto Enchiladas

Want to get your children eating more spinach? This recipe is a great way to bump up the fiber and nutrients in your enchiladas. Then when you add all the peppers and onions, this recipe is really packed full of veggies. I kind of married chicken enchiladas with fajitas in this recipe. I got the inspiration for the sauce from Rick Bayless and his website. I have experimented with all kinds of enchiladas over the years, and I would have to say these are the best enchiladas I have ever made. My husband, the critic, does not like enchiladas very much. But these actually made the critic’s choice. He LOVED them. I also entertained a friend and she really enjoyed them as well (going back for seconds, which is not something she usually does).

I know there are a lot of steps to this recipe and it does seem quite labor intensive. But trust me, it is so worth it. To save on the amount of work, I would recommend roasting the chicken another day. I think I started roasting the chicken at four and wasn’t done with the enchiladas until around six. But if you made the chicken a separate day, it would cut back on half the time. Or just feel free to buy a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have time for roasting one. I have already been thinking about how to vary the recipe by using other fillings. I think they might be good with some sort of seafood or just veggies. This recipe is very easily made dairy free. Just see the notes I made in the recipe about how to make it dairy free.

Spinach Pesto Enchiladas

1 roasted or rotisserie chicken (see below for recipe for roasted chicken)

2 cups spinach

1 cup cilantro

juice of 2 limes

1 roasted clove of garlic

3 cups of chicken broth

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

2 Tbsp tapioca flour

splash of milk (optional or use non dairy milk)

2 tsp cumin powder



2 red peppers cut into strips

1  red onion sliced

20 corn tortilla

Queso Fresco, Queso Enchilada, or Vegan Cheese (for non-dairy version)

Roast the chicken first if you are not using a Rotisserie Chicken. Note: A great way to make a double duty meal is by making two chickens the next time you roast one. Then you can make these enchiladas the next day.

Step One: Roast Chicken (skip if you are using a rotisserie)

1 whole chicken

1 lemon

1 tsp chile powder

1 tsp cumin

dash of cinnamon

Make a simple spice mix with chile powder, cumin and a hint of cinnamon and sprinkle it all over the chicken with salt and pepper. Put a halved lemon in the cavity of the chicken. Bake in a 400 degree oven for close to an hour or until thermometer reaches 180 degrees. Allow chicken to cool.

Step Two: Roast Garlic

Cut top one fourth of an inch off the top of the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake in 400 degree oven for twenty to thirty minutes or until garlic softens. Let cool and squeeze garlic cloves into a food processor. Note: You can roast the garlic with the chicken if you are doing it that day.

Shred chicken with a fork and set aside for later.

Step Three: Spinach Pesto Sauce and Peppers and Onions

Place two green chilies under the broiler until blackened on all sides. Let cool and peel away the skin and loosely chop. Place roasted garlic, roasted green chilies, spinach, cilantro, lime, salt and pepper into food processor. Pulse food processor while adding a small stream of chicken broth. Continue to add chicken broth until mixture becomes a loose pesto. In the stove, add olive oil to a hot saucepan. Mix in tapioca flour. Pour in two to three cups of chicken stock and pesto mixture from the food processor. Allow pesto sauce  to come up to a bubble and thicken until it coats the back of a spoon. Add more salt if it needs it. Optional: add a splash of milk or non-dairy milk (I think cashew milk would be great in this recipe).

While the sauce is thickening, saute red pepper and onion in a skillet. I crank up the heat on my skillet so that they really start to blacken and caramelize. I think it adds extra flavor.

Step Four: Assemble the Enchiladas

Place 20 corn tortillas in a wet kitchen towel or wet paper towels. Heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. The moisture in the towel will keep the tortillas pliable.

Pour one cup of sauce into the shredded chicken and mix in the peppers and onions.

Pour about a half of cup of sauce into the bottom of your baking dish (I used two dishes). Fill tortillas with chicken mixture. Roll and place into the casserole dish. Keep wrapping until you use all of the filling. I got around twenty enchiladas, but this will vary depending on how full you fill the enchilada. I think I use around a fourth of a cup. Pour the rest of your pesto sauce over your enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese (vegan cheese if you are non dairy). I do think that these enchiladas would even be good without any cheese at all. Bake in 350 degree oven for twenty to thirty minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with guacamole or your favorite enchilada topping.

Pineapple Habanero Salsa
January 14, 2010

Pineapple Habanero Salsa

My inspiration for this salsa came from a local restaurant called “Salsa Brava”. Upon request, they have an amazing pineapple habanero salsa. We order it every time we eat there. I decided that I could make this on my own. I love using fruits in my fresh salsas. The balance of the sweet with heat is perfect. I fire roast the pineapple and tomatoes to give it an extra layer of smokey flavor. We eat this salsa over tacos all the time, or as an appetizer. The picture is of some simple chicken tacos I made to go with the salsa. This really is my favorite salsa!

Pineapple Habanero Salsa

3  half inch slices of fresh pineapple

3 tomatoes

1/4 cup red onion roughly chopped

1 habanero pepper finely chopped and seeds removed

juice of one lime

1/4 cup cilantro

1-2 cloves garlic minced



Place pineapple and tomatoes on baking sheet. Coat lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place under broiler until the tomatoes and pineapple just start to get black. Remove from oven and let cool. Squeeze juices and seeds out of tomatoes (makes the consistency less watery). Place tomatoes, pineapple, onion, cilantro,habanero,  lime, garlic, salt and pepper into the food processor. Process in pulses until you have the desired consistency. I like to leave it a little on the chunky side, but it really is your preference. Enjoy!

Tandoori Chicken with Homemade Mango Chutney
January 7, 2010

Tandoori Chicken with Homemade Mango Chutney

I love Tandoori Chicken. I am not an expert in making it but I do know that the real deal is much more complicated to make. This is my simplified version of Tandoori Chicken. If you like curry flavors, you will love this recipe. When you use coconut yogurt from the health food store, it is completely dairy free. And the coconut adds a nice extra layer of flavor. If you don’t have coconut yogurt and you don’t mind dairy, you could use greek yogurt. I also love Mango Chutney. I was somewhat disappointed when I was about to buy a jar a few weeks ago. I was shocked to see that the second ingredient was high fructose corn syrup.  It went right back on the shelf. I knew I could do better and make it myself. I think that it turned out great. Next time, I am going to make extra to store in the fridge. It is also delicious on sandwiches!

Tandoori Chicken

8 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs or 4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

1 cup coconut yogurt or greek yogurt

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 Tbsp cumin

juice of one lemon

1 tsp minced ginger

2 cloves garlic




Mix together all ingredients, except for chicken. Coat chicken with yogurt mixture and refrigerate for one hour. Bake chicken in 350 degree oven for thirty minutes. Serve with mango chutney and garnish with cilantro.

Mango Chutney

1 mango peeled and chopped

1 hand full of raisins (1/4 cup)

1/4 cup agave or honey

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp curry powder

1/4 cup orange juice

4-5 Tbsp balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium low heat until sauce thickens. Serve over Tandoori Chicken.

Curry Meatballs
December 13, 2009

Curry Meatballs

Curry Meatballs

When I think about holiday fare, I often think meatballs. This dish is not your typical meatballs in tomato sauce. I wanted to try something different. The curry adds a most unexpected twist. You can make them as an appetizer or as a meal. Either way, they are a great crowd-pleaser. The recipe is quite large. We entertained another couple with this recipe and everyone went back for seconds. There was hardly any leftovers.


3-4 lbs hamburger or lamb

1/4- 1/2 cup brown rice breadcrumbs

3 eggs

3 cloves garlic minced

1-2 Tbsp fresh ginger minced

2 Tbsp cumin

3 Tbsp curry

1/2 tsp cloves

3 Tbsp dried minced onion

1/4 cup greek yogurt

juice of 2 lemons



Mix together ingredients. Test the flavor of the meatballs by frying up a small piece (about half a meatball) in a skillet. This is the best way to tell if it needs anything else. Add more salt or curry if it needs it. Form into meatballs and place in baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Once the meatballs are finished cooking, start the sauce for the meatballs.

Sauce for the Meatballs

1 red onion chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 Tbsp ginger minced

1 4 oz can tomato paste

3 Tbsp curry powder

1/4 tsp cloves

3 Tbsp cumin

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

1 can coconut milk

1 can garbanzo beans

1 cup raisins

Saute onion in a little olive oil in a big pot. Let onion get soft. Add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute. Add tomato paste and mix with onions. Add in spices. Pour in chicken broth and 1 can of tomatoes. Place other can of diced tomatoes (drained) into food processor with the garbanzo beans. Puree together. Pour bean mixture into sauce. Bring the sauce up to a bubble and add in meatballs. Reduce heat and allow sauce to simmer and thicken for around twenty minutes. Add in raisins and coconut milk. Serve over rice with yogurt lemon sauce and garnish with cilantro. You could also serve these meatballs as an appetizer with toothpicks, just don’t add the raisins.

Yogurt Lemon Sauce

1 cup yogurt

juice of half a lemon



Mix together the yogurt with the lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the meatballs.

Pizzelle Cookies
December 11, 2009

Pizzelle Cookies

I am so not a baker! I prefer cooking over baking any day. When you mess up in cooking, it is usually easily fixed. Not so with baking. That being said… I feel extremely proud when I come up with a baking recipe. Here is a gluten free Pizzelle cookie recipe. I wish I could say the recipe is dairy free and sugar free but it is not. I figure a little indulgence this time of year is ok. I think you might be able to modify the recipe and make it with splenda if you really want sugar free. My husband is extremely happy that I came up with this recipe. Pizzelles are his favorite holiday cookie. He officially thinks I am a genius for coming up with this cookie. In his opinion, you can’t tell the difference between these and the real deal. And in the world of gluten free, that is a big compliment.

3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp anise flavoring
2 tsp baking powder

Beat eggs. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix with hand beater until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour into hot Pizzelle iron. I used a little under 1/4 cup of batter for each cookie. Remove after cookies turn a golden brown. Remove excess cookie from the edges and cool on a wire rack. Cookies should become crispy after cooling.

Thai Green Curry Chicken Soup
November 16, 2009

Thai Green Curry Chicken Soup

It’s official! My new favorite cuisine is Thai food. I love the spicy, sweet, and salty flavors in Thai food. The balance is amazing. I’m sure I will continue to experiment with these dishes, so if you like Thai flavors, keep checking in. And if you enjoyed my Thai Red Curry Chicken, you will love this as well. You could probably make this soup with red curry paste. But the green curry flavors have an enjoyment all their own. One day, I’m going to make my own curry paste. Until then, Thai Kitchen makes a great green curry paste. Please don’t make it with yellow curry powder… it is just not quite the same thing. 🙂 Oh, and you could totally use shrimp in this soup… just don’t add the shrimp until the very end after the noodles are done and cook only until the shrimp are cooked through. The next time you want chicken noodle soup, make this instead and trust me, you will not be disappointed.

6 chicken thighs cut into one inch pieces
olive oil
3 Tbsp green curry paste
1 Tbsp ginger
2 cloves of garlic
1 quart chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp chili sauce (Sriracha sauce)
1 package Pad Thai Rice Noodles
1-2 cups chopped portobello or porchini mushrooms
2-3 Tbsp fish sauce
juice of one to two limes
cilanto and mint to garnish (1/4 cup each)

Brown chicken in olive oil in a big soup pot. Remove chicken from pot after chicken is cooked through. Saute onion in same pot until soft. Add garlic, ginger and curry paste. Cook for a minute then add mushrooms. Cook mushrooms for a few minutes. Stir in chili sauce, add more for extra heat. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook according to package directions. After noodles are finished cooking, add chicken back to pot and stir in coconut milk and fish sauce. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. At this point you will want to taste it to make sure all the flavors are balanced between salty, sweet and spicy. This is the key to making good Thai food. Add more fish sauce, lime juice, curry paste or chili sauce to taste. Garnish with cilantro and mint. I would also probably add some chopped peanuts. Enjoy!

Roast Chicken with Sausage and Grapes
November 15, 2009


Roast Chicken with Sausage and Grapes

Ok, so I know the idea of grapes and sausages sounds bizarre… but it is REALLY yummy. Even the Critic had to admit that he was pleasantly surprised by this recipe. I saw this recipe on the Rachel Ray Show this week and thought I just have to share, it was that good! Of course, I hardly ever follow recipes exactly. I just use recipes as inspiration then make them my own. The reason I like Rachel Ray’s cooking style is because she doesn’t measure anything. I am the same way… I just do what feels right and tastes good. So if you are making one of my recipes, and you think it needs more spice or vinegar… by all means, add it. Cook to your own taste, because that is how my recipes are meant to be followed. I don’t think you can really mess this recipe up, even if you don’t follow it exactly. It is easy to prepare, and delicious comfort food! It is one of those throw in the oven and forget about it until your house starts smelling divine dishes.

6 chicken thighs bone in
3 sweet italian sausages
1 cup black seedless grapes
2-3 shallots quartered
3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 cups cubed red potatoes
few Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Place potatoes, sausages, shallots and grapes in casserole dish. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper. Place chicken thighs over sausage and grapes. Salt and pepper chicken thighs. (I also sprinkled some dried thyme over the chicken.) Roast in a 425 degree oven for around an hour or until veggies are soft and chicken juices run clear. Grapes are really delicious roasted! Never expected that. I think I am going to try them in other dishes. Rach also left the balsamic vinegar out and added balsamic drizzle before serving. I was feeling lazy so I made it this way.

Greek Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Greek Potato Salad
November 13, 2009


Greek Burgers

These burgers are one of my favorites! I love Greek flavors. You can definitely entertain with this recipe.

Order of business- Put potatoes in oven first, then get the onions started before you cook the burgers. You can even make the Potato Salad first and serve it at room temperature.

Greek Burgers
2 lbs hamburger or ground lamb
1/3 cup shredded red onion
3 Tbsp chopped rosemary
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Mix together all of the ingredients and form into the patties. Cook on grill or in skillet until desired doneness.

Greek Potato Salad
2-3 cups chopped potatoes
1/4 cup calamata olives
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 Tbsp rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic minced
Coat potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt pepper. Roast potatoes in 400 degree oven until crispy on the outside and soft inside. Mix potatoes with feta, olives and rosemary. Mix together balsamic vinegar, garlic and mustard and whisk in olive oil to taste. Pour dressing over potatoes and mix well. Salad can be served warm or at room temperature.

Caramelized Onion
1 red onion sliced
olive oil
Saute onion in a little olive oil over medium low heat for thirty to forty minutes stirring occasionally.

Yogurt Mint Sauce
1 cup greek style yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh chopped mint
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Mix together all of the ingredients and serve on burgers.

extra balsamic vinegar
tomato slices

Plating it up: I like to serve these burgers open faced with a fork. Spread yogurt mint sauce on half of hamburger bun or piece of toasted bread. Place tomato slice and hamburger on bun. Top with onions and feta. Drizzle with a little extra balsamic vinegar. Serve with Greek Potato Salad.

Salmon with Yogurt Dill Sauce
November 12, 2009


Salmon with Yogurt Dill Sauce

Salmon is a family favorite in our household. This dish is simple enough for a weekday meal but elegant enough for a special occasion. This is my go to salmon recipe. Serve with roasted potatoes and salad. Don’t forget a nice glass of wine!

Wild Salmon (4 portions)
4-5 Tbsp Fresh Dill
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Dijon
1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (Gluten Free)
Juice of one Lemon
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup Red Onion

Salt and pepper salmon. Mix together 2 Tbsp dill, juice of half a lemon, honey, dijon, and soy sauce. Pour over salmon and marinate for fifteen to thirty minutes. Heat a skillet to medium high heat and coat pan with olive oil. Place salmon flesh side down until you get a nice golden brown color on it, about four minutes. Turn over salmon to skin side and cook until fish flakes easily with a fork. For yogurt dill sauce, mix together yogurt, onion, juice of half of a lemon, the rest of the dill, salt and pepper. Serve yogurt sauce over salmon. Enjoy!

Note: This meal can be made dairy free with some coconut or soy plain yogurt.