Sunday, July 27, 2008


The first Food Network show I ever watched was Emeril Live when he first began his live-audience cooking show. A recipe he once featured during a New Orleans episode was a spicy jambalaya that I have wanted to try ever since. From memory, I tried to remember all the ingredients while shopping through the grocery store so this adaption includes both his original recipe ingredients and some extras that I decided to throw in.

  • 1 lb. cooked chicken breast, shredded or cut small

  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into bit size pieces

  • 1/4 cup oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

  • 2 medium green bell peppers, diced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes

  • 2 zucchini, chopped

  • 2 bay leaf

  • 1 tsp. coarse salt

  • 1 tbsp. black pepper

  • 1 tbsp. paprika

  • 2 tbsp. parsley

  • 6 cans chicken broth or stock

  • 3 cups cooked white rice

In large pot, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add sausage and continue cooking until edges of sausage are golden brown. Add zucchini, chicken, can of tomatoes (including juice), and spices to pot. Stir until well-combined. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring heat back to medium-low. Add shrimp and continue cooking about 10 minutes or until shrimp is pink.

Serve in a bowl over a scoop of rice. Serves 6-8.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


My boyfriend and I were at the grocery store the other day picking up a couple items for a snack that evening. He loves yogurt with granola and fruit on top, and after going down the granola aisle I thought, this would be so easy to make and you can add whatever ingredients you want. So below is the base recipe, additional ingredients can be added - you just have to experiment a little and see what you like.

  • 8 cups rolled oats

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 4 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 2 cups nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 275F.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat sugar and water in microwave on high abut 5 minutes or until sugar has dissolved.

Add vanilla and salt. Mix oats, nuts, and sugar mixture together until well combined. Spread on cookie sheets and bake about 45 minutes to an hour. When granola is cool, break into pieces and store in a tightly sealed container or bag.

For the nuts I am a big fan of almonds and peanuts, usually separate, but would also be great together. Other nuts and dried fruit would also work great in this recipe.

Original recipe courtesy of Food Network

Friday, July 25, 2008

Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad

This is a re-creation of a salad that my boyfriend and I used to order at a local place where we went to college. They served this in a huge bowl with a big slice of cornbread on the side -- so delicious I can taste it already. Plus, if you have had enough chicken you can substitute any kind of meat (or no meat) you want.

  • 5 cups chopped romaine lettuce

  • 1 can white beans, drained

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained

  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion

  • 1 chicken breast (about 1/2 lb.)

  • Your favorite poultry seasoning (and salt and pepper)

  • Handful of tortilla strips


  • 1/4 cup ranch

  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce

Season chicken breast with favorite seasoning and grill until cooked thoroughly. Cut up into bite-size pieces.

Mix together BBQ sauce and ranch dressing.

In a large bowl, combine lettuce, beans, corn, onion, and chicken. Toss with dressing. Add tortilla strips on top. Serve immediately.

* Make sure the dressing and seasonings used are gluten-free if you have a gluten allergy.

BBQ Sauce

I have always wanted to make my own barbeque sauce but it was just easier to pick up a bottle at the store. I found this recipe by Paula Deen, one of my favorite chefs to watch because of her amazing personality, for a barbeque chicken but I think it can work for any meat you like.

  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 2 tablespoons oil

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 cup ketchup

  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar *

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup water

  • Dash Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the onion and garlic in vegetable oil until soft. Add salt and pepper. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes.

* Make sure the apple cider vinegar is gluten-free. To be sure, it is sold at speciality stores that state "Gluten-Free" on the label.

Pulled Pork

  • 4 to 6 cups chicken stock *

  • 3 lb. boneless pork butt

  • Your favorite meat rub

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • BBQ Sauce

Preheat the grill to medium heat (the grill should maintain a constant temperature of 350 degrees F). Place a drip pan filled half-way with the chicken stock on the briquettes. Season the pork butt with rub, salt, and pepper and place on the grates of the grill over the drip pan. Close the cover of the grill and let the pork cook for 1 hour. Turn the pork over and continue grilling for 2 to 3 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. More chicken stock may be needed to refill the drip pan during grilling.

Remove the pork from the grill and let rest for 15 minutes. When it is cool enough to handle, shred the pork into strands with your fingers.

Add the shredded pork to the BBQ Sauce and serve.

Original Recipe Courtesy of Bobby Flay

* Check that label states its gluten-free if you have a gluten allergy.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

White Chicken Pizza

Instead of a traditional cheese or pepporini pizza, this chicken and white sauce pizza is different than anything you would get down at your local pizza shop.

Making a pizza that you love is simple. Take dough, sauce, and any of your favorite foods, layer it on a pizza stone or cookie sheet and bake. It really is that easy. Here is one of my favorites.

  • 1 recipe of pizza dough (dough from your local store works too)

  • 1 jar Alfredo sauce

  • ½ lb. boneless, skinless, chicken breast

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. black pepper

  • 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered

  • 1 handful spinach leaves

  • 1 ½ cups mozarella cheese

  • ¼ cup parmesean cheese

  • Fresh basil

Preheat oven to 425ºF

Cut-up chicken breast into bite-size chunks and season with salt and pepper. Saute chicken and garlic in a little olive oil until cooked through.

Roll out dough onto a lightly-floured work surface to about ½" thick. Spread a thin layer of alfredo sauce onto the dough. Scatter spinach leaves around pie evenly. Add chicken, artichoke hearts, and fresh basil (optional). Spread both cheeses evenly on top.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is lightly brown and cheese is all melted.

Pizza Dough

  • 1 package active dry yeast

  • 1 tsp. honey

  • 1 cup warm water

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup warm water.

In a food processor, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining 3/4 cup of water and process until the mixture forms a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a cool spot for about 2 hours.

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest 1 hour. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days or can be used immediately for making pizzas.

Recipe courtesy of Wolfgang Puck.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mexican Lasagna

I originally saw a recipe for a Mexican Lasagna featured on Food Network and since my family loves Mexican food, mostly because of the taste and also because its super easy to be gluten-free, I decided to try it out. Since I didn't really remember the recipe from the show, I decided to just throw together some ingredients that I thought would taste good and layer it just like regular lasagna.

  • 20 corn tortillas (taco size)

  • 1 ½ lbs. shredded chicken breast

  • 1 lg can of enchilada sauce *

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, liquid drained

  • 1 can black beans

  • 8 oz. bag of shredded Mexican cheese blend

  • Sour cream and guacamole (optional)

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large baking dish, pour a very thin layer of enchilada sauce. Lay a flat layer of corn tortillas on bottom of the dish. Pour another thin layer of sauce. This will keep the tortillas moist while its cooking.

In a mixing bowl, stir together corn and black beans. In a separate bowl, combine chicken and ½ cup of sauce. Combine ingredients from both bowls together and mix well.

Spread 1/3 of meat mixture over tortillas evenly. Sprinkle cheese over layer. Lay next set of corn tortillas evenly over meat. Pour thin layer of sauce over tortillas. Repeat for final two layers. Last layer should be corn tortillas with sauce.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake uncovered an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream and guacamole on top if you wish.

Note: If pouring sauce over tortillas isn't cutting it, one thing I do is dunk each tortilla in the sauce before placing it in the dish. It gets a little messy, but you can more easily control the amount of sauce on each layer.

* Make sure the enchilada sauce is gluten-free, most of the time it is, but if you have a gluten allergy you want to be sure


My mom was diagnosed about 10 years ago with celiac disease, a disease that does not allow for the proper absorption of gluten. For a person whose daily meals previously consisted of a bagel for breakfast and a sandwich on a wheal roll for lunch, her eating habits had to change overnight. Our family now cooks the majority of meals to be gluten-free, either naturally or by just skipping the flour.

This disease changes your whole perception on food when picking up a box of cereal or flipping through a cookbook. My first thought is usually "can mom eat this?" or "will it really make a difference without the cup of flour?" Most of the time recipes have been easy to modify to either leave out the wheat flour all together or substitute it for a similar ingredient. Dinner entrees and sides are usually the easiest to modify. However, baked goods like cookies, bread, and cake are much more difficult. For this you must use a gluten-free flour like rice or potato flour (many varieties found at specialty grocery stores). Since I have previously focused on making dinner items gluten-free, my goal for the rest of the year is to work on gluten-free baked goods in the hopes that not only will my mom have a nice treat, but that I can share my recipes with others.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chicken Parmesan

I think it's fitting to have this recipe as the first addition to this blog since it’s the first recipe I ever learned to cook. As a young child my mom would sit me on top of the kitchen counter and allow me to help with the preparation. So in honor of my childhood, here it is.

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 cup flour

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs

  • 1 jar tomato sauce

  • ½ lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced into thin pieces

  • 2 cups oil, for cooking

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Clean chicken breast, removing any excess fat. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer, flatten each chicken breast to about ½” thick.

In three separate shallow bowls (plates will work too), pour the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs into each. Beginning at the flour bowl, dredge each chicken breast until fully-coated. Next, dip chicken in eggs and then lastly into breadcrumbs. Place on a clean plate.

After all chicken breasts have been coated, heat 2 cups of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, carefully place each chicken breast into skillet. Cook about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove chicken from oil and place on a paper-towel lined plate to drain any excess oil.

In a deep baking dish, spray non-stick cooking spray on bottom of pan (makes clean up much easier). Pour a thin layer of tomato sauce on bottom of pan. Place chicken breast side-by-side in dish with a slice of mozzarella cheese on top. Then pour remaining tomato sauce on top so that chicken is mostly covered. Bake in oven about 10 minutes. Carefully pull out oven rack and place remaining cheese on top of chicken, bake an additional 3-5 minutes. Serves 4.

Dish best served with a side of pasta and favorite vegetable.

From the beginning

I do not remember exactly when I realized that cooking was one of my passions, but ever since it's hard to pull me out of the kitchen. For me, cooking is a stress reliever, a way to calm my nerves after a busy day. The longer is takes to make something the better. I cook to please. Although I enjoy tasting what I have made, the best reward is cooking for my family and friends. I see it as a form of love, because that is what I do -- pour my heart into my cooking. Whether it takes 5 minutes of preparation or an entire day, its one of the most enjoyable parts of my week. When I find a new recipe to try I almost always follow it to the T the first time, after that I begin experimenting (its more fun that way). As I continue to learn and pursue my passion for the art of cooking I have at least realized this, I'm going to need a really big kitchen.