‘Stuffed’ Cabbage Casserole (gf)

Stuffed Cabbage Pic

In the wake of COVID-19, a local company who normally supplies restaurants with produce, has opened to the public for drive-through pick-up. I thought I’d give it a try this week! The box I received contained a great mix of surprise veggies, one of which was a head of cabbage. Not really a cabbage fan, I reached out to see if anyone had a good recipe. My friend R.H.M sent me one – and I trust her with my life, so I tried it!

The kids had three helpings each… Here is the recipe, revised with my changes.

Stuffed Cabbage Casserole

Mexican Shredded Beef (gf)


2-3 pound boneless beef chuck roast

1, 7 oz can diced green chilies

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt (original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon and I find that too salty)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 lime


Place the roast in a slow cooker. In a small bowl combine everything except for the lime. Spread mixture over the beef in a thick, layer. Cover and program the cooker to low for 8 hours, or high for six hours.

Remove beef from crock post and shred with a fork. Finish/freshen with a squeeze of lime.

Hosting Your Friend With Celiac Disease

I was joking with a friend the other day that my husband has never been to their house. I, being the running partner of ‘Mighty M’, had been to her house many times for various training runs. Her husband laughed and said, “well, we don’t want to kill you. We don’t exactly have a gluten free kitchen”.

That got me thinking. If I charted my dinners with friends both pre-celiac diagnosis and post, would the line plummet? Yes, it would.

I don’t blame my friends. Loving me enough to not want to kill me is very nice. But, is there a way to inform them, and your friends, in the ways of hosting a person with Celiac Disease? I thought, “yes”. So let’s get started.

question-mark-1105892_1920Preliminary Investigation

Chances are good your friend not only has Celiac Disease, but also has other food restrictions. Don’t let this scare you! Ask your friend, even if you think you already know, about these needs and take notes so you don’t forget.

Planning The Menu

Think about your courses, one at a time, as to not get overwhelmed. Do you have a go-to meal? Perhaps it can be modified to accommodate your friend.


Let me just say, salad and fruit seems to be the purgatory of people with Celiac Disease. When we try to eat outside of our homes, these two items are sometimes (I’ll venture to say most times) the only offering. So, go beyond those choices. How about Prosciutto Wrapped Figs, or Artichoke Dip with gluten free chips or crackers.

Main Courses

If you have an omnivore, your favorite proteins will probably work. Normal cuts of chicken, beef, pork, fish and turkey are all naturally gluten free. Watch out for sausages or any other processed meat. How about trying Stealhead Trout with Rosemary or Beef Roast with Vegetables? trout3


Starches and veg can vary from simply roasting potatoes and seasonal vegetables in the oven to more elaborate dishes such as Mushroom Risotto or a Mock Mac and Cheese.


Here is where things can get tricky… SO MANY desserts contain gluten and many gf desserts are below par by far. Not only that, but purchasing gluten free flour blends can be an investment.  This is where your prowess in the kitchen, and consideration of your available time needs to be considered. If you have the gift of time, maybe a Pineapple Up Side Down Cake – I guarantee your friend with Celiac disease hasn’t had one of these in a long time! If this isn’t your bag, then I have (or, rather Aldi has) a solution for you. Their Live G Free line of cake, brownie and bar mixes are really quite good. Just follow the instructions on the box, and read through my preparation tips to eliminate possible cross contamination.

Pineapple Finished

Let’s Not Forget About Drinks!

Refer to my first tip, Preliminary Investigation, and find out what your friend likes to drink. Chances are, if you are close friends, you already know. But, ask again to make sure. Try to steer clear of mixed and blended drinks like Long Island Iced Tea or Margaritas. With so many ingredients, this is playing with fire. Adopt the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid) and serve wine, hard cider, flavored seltzer or soda. Be aware that most sodas are gluten free, but look out for root beer because some brands are not.


Read Labels

Gluten is not just limited to flour-based items. Malt, barley, and rye are all glutenous and dangerous to a person with Celiac disease. Other surprising places gluten hides includes:  Soy Sauce, oats, oat flour, rice cereals, pre-cooked/prepared rice products, bouillon cubes, sauces, malt vinegar, and pre-mixed seasonings. Other ingredients that should raise a red flag are listed here. Again, if in doubt, ask your friend!

Great Substitutions

Gluten free options have taken over our grocery isles and some are really good. For instance, Barilla Gluten Free pastas are very nice, and Crunchmaster crackers are delicious.

Danger Will Robinson! (Cooking in your kitchen)

You have planned your menu, read the labels and finished your shopping… now what?

Cross contamination in your kitchen is now the most dangerous part of the operation. Let’s talk equipment…

Your oven and grill: Just because it is super hot does not mean gluten is not hiding. To denature a gluten protein to the point of elimination the recommended minimum temperature is 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. After the heating process of the oven, use a wet cloth with metal tongs to wipe down the racks. For the grill, use metal tongs with crumpled foil to scrub the grates (don’t use your normal grill cleaning utensil – that probably has gluten on it).

Toasters should not be used no matter how ‘clean’.

Crockpots or slow cookers can be used, but ask your friend is they are comfortable with this, or use a liner.

Pots and Pans: Non-stick pots and pans and seasoned cast iron should never be used to cook gluten free food. Although these look clean, the coating certainly contains gluten. Stainless steel or thoroughly cleaned enameled cookware can be used.

Utensils: Soft plastic (like rubber spatulas) and wooden utensils should not be used unless brand new. Metal/stainless steel and hard plastic works well as long as they are thoroughly cleaned.

Cutting boards and other surfaces: Wooden cutting boards should not be used. Plastic cutting boards are typically ok as long as they are washed thoroughly. If you are still nervous about this, try disposable cutting sheets.

Foil is your friend: Cookie sheets, serving platters or anything else you might think is questionable can be carefully covered with heavy duty foil. Disposable aluminium products are also really great for cake pans, casseroles, breads, etc. Once cleaned, they can also be recycled, so that’s a bonus!

Residue: Give all your surfaces, cookware and dishes a once-over. Are they clean? Do they have dishwasher residue?

just-do-it-1432951_1920.pngYou Can Do This!

Don’t be nervous, just be thorough. Remember to ask your friend if you have any doubt (they are happy to answer your questions, believe me!) and don’t be offended if they watch over your shoulder in the kitchen or ask to see labels. Speaking of labels, keep all the packaging for review – don’t trash cans and cartons until well after they have left.

Sit Back and Enjoy!

Your friend is going to LOVE your hospitality and be grateful for your efforts!



Crêpes (Gluten Free & Traditional)

crepe-plainThis is a guest post by my friend Al. We met in 1997 when his kids were wee babies – he was a customer of mine at the toy store. Fast forward twenty years, and now my kids call him ‘Uncle Al’.

Click here for Al’s Traditional Sweet Crêpes

Click here for Jessica’s Gluten Free Sweet Crêpes and Savory Crêpes

Click here for my guide to Gluten Free Prepared Foods

Dressed in our pinks and greens, my friend Lawrence and I made eye contact from across the stage as we anticipated our commander’s downbeat for the last tune of our mid day concert. We were in the square in downtown Brussels, and the encore for our show was always Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”. This classic was very much expected by the European audiences attending concerts by the United States Air Force’s Army Air Corps Glenn Miller Band.  Our commander always kicked off this tune much too fast for our liking but today we didn’t mind as we had plans. Big, tasty, plans. After the last note was released, we enjoyed a standing ovation which brought a bittersweet tear to my eye. Not so much because it was likely the last concert I’d play on that square in Belgium, but because we had started a bit of a tradition to visit what we considered one of the finest creperies in all of Europe, and we knew today would our last visit. Both Lawrence and I had received our orders to return stateside. 

This cute little creperie was nestled into a corner along one of the small cobblestone streets about a block from the main square. At that time, the business was owned by a lady in her late 30s with a well defined entrepreneurial spirit.  She was very cordial, attractive, and just stern enough to remain focused on serving as many of her local patrons as she single-handedly could. Little did she know, that day my friend and I would test her resolve.

Upon our arrival we informed her that this would be our last visit to her creperie and placed our order. When served, we asked for her recipe, just as we have each and every visit in the past – to no avail.  Only this time, we let her know we would be returning to the United States soon. We wanted to continue enjoying what we considered one of life’s finer treats.  She said no… again. So we asked again, and again, and again. Annoyed, she finally said if you are going to stay here you need to order something else, so we did … and we did, and we did. Finally, EIGHTEEN crepes later she gave us the recipe and her local patrons applauded OUR resolve.

Since our return to the United States in the Summer of 1998, my family and I have enjoyed and sustained a newfound tradition of making crepes together every Sunday morning after church, and rarely missed an opportunity to do so for years.  Each of our four children grew up learning how to make the batter, eagerly starting when they were just tall enough to stand on a chair and reach over the counter.  Little did we know such a simple food would provide years and years of really enjoyable “together time” … not to mention the literally thousands of crepes we have cooked and shared with extended family and friends – here and abroad.

I would be remiss not to mention that although you can choose to fill these crepes with a wide variety of choices including fruit, nuts, cheeses, creams and sauces etc. etc.  we always come back to a simpler presentation with butter, cinnamon and sugar. Ironically, exactly what my friend Lawrence and I regularly ordered in Brussels.

 Bon Appétit. 

Pulled Pork Tacos

Pulled Pork Tacos

Click here for Pulled Pork Tacos


Photo Credit: My friend Liz over at superveggiemom.com

Summer. If I had it my way, we would leave the house in the morning and wander back around dinner time, only to venture out again for chasing fireflies. There would be creek wading, crawdad hunting, fossil searches, water fights, tag playing, and an occasional break relaxing on a blanket carefully placed in the shade.

Let’s face it. This only happens a handful of times during our crushingly busy summer, and since I want to bask in the sun and not fret over the always-looming question “what’s for dinner?” I toss this in the slow cooker and don’t look back. Not once.

It’s easy, kid-pleasing (for mine, “No slaw, please. But, add avocado!”) and not too filling after a hot, long day. I don’t know what to tell you about left overs, because we never have any. If you do, I’d love to know how you managed them.



Mushroom Risotto (Gluten Free)

Mushroom Risotto

(Click here for Mushroom Risotto PDF)

The musty, damp air. Songbirds belting their tunes. Tender wildflowers peeking through the rich soil. These things all lead me to one thought. It’s mushroom season!

Let me come clean right now. I hate mushrooms. At least, that is what I thought. For. Years. They are slimy. They taste like dirt. They make my teeth squeak.

Then Mystery Man and I dined at Artist Point, a restaurant at the Wilderness Lodge at Disney World. He ordered the Smoked Portobello Bisque. After listening to the chorus of yummy slurps and ‘Mmmmmms,’ I asked him for a taste.

So is this what mushrooms are supposed to be all about? It was pleasant. Actually, more than pleasant. Meaty, mouthwatering, deep flavors aroused my tongue. In a possibly trendy, probably hipster (but I don’t know, I’m not that cool) word, Umami.

This was the beginning of a whole new culinary road. Mushrooms. I started considering menu items that contained them. I never again dismissed a recipe that called for them. In fact, now I cook with them often, and this is one of my favorite side dishes. (I serve it with Pan Fried Pork Chops or Steelhead Trout).