Refreshing Fresh Dill, Feta and Greek Yogurt Dip

A good party always needs a good dip! Some friends and I recently celebrated a big birthday! We were fortunate to spend the weekend at one friend’s brother’s house directly on the beach in Cape Cod. AMAZING! We all brought our favorite snack/comfort foods. One friend brought this greek yogurt feta dip from Marzetti. It was sooooooo good! I couldn’t stop eating it! We also had some Hood Chive Cottage Cheese, Pub cheese and Onion Dip, of course. For dinner we enjoyed lobster, steak and burrata with tomatoes and basil.

I decided I had to try to recreate the feta greek yogurt dip when I got home. After a few trials, I found one that was just as tasty.

Fresh Dill, Feta and Greek Yogurt Dip

Ingredients

½ cup of plain greek yogurt

1 Tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

8 ounces of cream cheese

4 ounces of feta, crumbled

Zest of ½ lemon

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

Add all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whisk together or mix on high for about a minute. Place in a container to allow for dipping. Enjoy!

You can try crackers, pretzels or veggies with this fresh, yummy dip!I used one of our favorite gluten-free crackers from Crunchmaster.

What is your favorite dip?

Shop my favorite items I used to make this!

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Here are some other dips that would be a hit at any party!

Guacamole and a Layered Dip

Salsa Verde (and the Taco Meatballs you can dip into it!)

 

Cheeseburger Pizza!

Pizza is definitely tops on my kids’ list of dinner choices. Most nights it is just cheese pizza or one olive and one cheese, but the kids like to invent pizzas on the nights when we have more time. One of my twins (who just turned 7!) came up with Rainbow Carrot pizza, which is amazing! You have to check out that recipe! We made it again last week for their birthday, along with a cheese pizza, mushroom pizza and this new-to-us, Cheeseburger Pizza. It will now be a part of our regular rotation! It was delicious!

Cheeseburger pizza

Ingredients

½ sweet onion, chopped finely

1 clove of garlic, minced

About 1 ¼ pounds of ground beef

3 teaspoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

1 Tablespoon of ketchup

1 teaspoon of spicy brown mustard

1 pizza crust (My favorite is the Against the Grain GF Crust)

1/2 cup of tomato sauce (more or less, depending on your personal taste)

4 ounces of shredded mozzarella

4 ounces of shredded cheddar (I have had even better results with 2 ounces of cheddar and 2 ounces of aged gouda)

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Add olive oil, onions and garlic to a large sauté pan and cook on medium high, stirring for about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan and sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Once browned add the ketchup and mustard and stir until cooked. Take crust out of the freezer and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove and add sauce, cheese and then top with ground beef mixture and cook for another 15 to 18 minutes, until the cheese starts to brown. Slice up and enjoy!

Pizza is such a great bridge recipe! You can have a basic cheese pizza and add whatever ingredients you or your family like. Meatball pizza is another favorite in our house. I use my simple meatballs or even have used my Italian stuffed meatballs. What is your family’s favorite pizza topping?

Shop Amazon for some of my favorite ingredients and gadgets for making pizza night spectacular!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This doesn’t cost you any extra, but if you like something I love and buy it, I get a small percentage and can continue blogging.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Last week I wrote about the Nutella and peanut butter smoothie my kids enjoyed making. This week it is another chocolaty peanut butter concoction, but this time a truly delectable and yet super easy to make dessert! This is one of my husband’s favorites so I named it after him 🙂

Tim’s Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Ingredients

½ cup of heavy cream

8 ounces of mascarpone

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

6 ounces of chocolate chips

1 pre-made chocolate cookie crust (I like the Mid-el Gluten free crust)

Directions

Chill metal bowl for whipped cream. Whisk together ½ cup of heavy cream, mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar and peanut butter in another bowl. Then fold in the chocolate chips. In the chilled bowl add the remaining heavy cream, vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and mix on medium speed until soft peaks form when you take the whisk out. Fold ½ of whipped cream into peanut butter until combined. Fold the other half in. Pour mousse mixture into the crust and chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.

This is so simple to make! It would be great for Father’s Day, a 4th of July barbecue or any day really. What is your favorite dessert to make?

This site has affiliate links to help support the blog, but as usual, I only link to items I love myself!

 

Bacon and Kale Mac-n-Cheese

Many of you asked for the recipe, so here it is! Bacon and Kale Mac-n-cheese. I have a basic mac-n-cheese recipe that I change up, probably every time I make it 🙂 Not too long ago I shared my Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-Cheese recipe with you all. This one is not very different. For every mac-n-cheese, I make a roux (gluten-free flour and butter), add some spices, acid (lemon or vinegar to cut down the richness a little), then the shredded cheese and whatever extras you want to include, if any.

Bacon and Kale Mac-n-Cheese

Ingredients

1-12 to 16 ounce package of your favorite GF pasta (I used Wegman’s GF Fusilli)

1 cup of kale, washed, pulled of stem and chopped finely

½ pound of bacon, chopped

2/3 cup of butter

1/2 cup of Cup4Cup gluten free flour

1 Tablespoon brown spicy mustard

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

About 2 cups of 2% milk (you can use whole milk)

1 teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar or juice of ½ a lemon

About 10 ounces of cheese (I used about 6 ounces of Cabot extra sharp cheddar and 4 ounces of an Aged Gouda)

Directions

Prepare pasta according to directions on the box. Place a cast iron skillet on the stove on medium heat. Add bacon to the cold pan and let it heat while the pan heats. Cook bacon for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add kale. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until the bacon has browned and started to crisp. Save bacon and kale mixture on a plate until ready to mix with pasta and cheese sauce. In the same cast iron skillet, melt butter and whisk in the flour, mustard, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes and then add the milk. Whisk together until all the lumps are out.  Stir in vinegar or lemon juice then add the cheese. Mix to melt the cheese and take off heat. Add drained pasta, bacon and kale. Mix through and serve!

I am, honestly, not a big fan of kale. Others in my family like it, so I’ll appease them by making it…covered in cheese 🙂

Mac-n-cheese is a great basic recipe to master and then you can play with it, using different vegetables, meats and spices to create new meals.When I don’t have time or the ability to be at the stove cooking for 20 minutes, I make a quick version of mac-n-cheese using mascarpone. Check it out here! It is a great easy meal.

What is your favorite mac-n-cheese topping or mix-in?

Nutella in a smoothie? Yes, please!

For my birthday, I generously received a gift card for Amazon and bought one of my new favorite toys, a Ninja blender! The kids and I have had fun inventing smoothies and I made my salsa in about 5 seconds 🙂 Smoothies are a great way to get protein and fruit into the kids for breakfast lunch or dinner. If you buy frozen or freeze your own fruit, that helps to make the smoothie creamy, like ice cream. Especially frozen bananas! Frozen mango, frozen banana and vanilla yogurt is delicious together but here is the recipe for our new family favorite…Peanut Butter Nutella!

Peanut Butter Nutella Smoothie

Ingredients

2 frozen bananas, broken into large chunks

1 cup vanilla yogurt

3 Tablespoons of nutella

2 Tablespoons of peanut butter (or almond butter)

2/3 cup of milk

1/2 teaspoon of agave

Directions

Place all the ingredients in your blender and let the blender do its work until smooth! Add more milk if you would like a thinner smoothie.

This makes a great afternoon snack! I’m so glad I got this blender! I will from time to time share the great products I use and please know that I will only recommend ones that I love myself!

Share your favorite smoothie in the  comments!

 

Gluten-free Lunches on the Go

As the year winds down, packing lunches seems more and more daunting each day. Some of you may already have finished school for the year, but up here in the Boston area we still have a couple more weeks to go. Then (we hope!) the 2nd wind comes in to continue to pack lunches for camp or family picnics or the office.

Having a child with celiac disease, when we go on road trips or day trips, I often have to pack lunch because we cannot trust that we will find a place that has gluten-free meals. I like to use leftovers when I can and have lists of what my options are for lunches to help take the stress out of it. Here are some ideas for you:

Leftovers can be delicious! Make these Apricot Wings for dinner or appetizers then enjoy them for lunch the next day!

Quesadillas are the perfect on-the-go lunch. I use Rubbermaid Lunch Blocks containers most days for the kids school lunches and on road trips.

Leftover barbecue chicken makes a great lunch. The crackers pictured are one of my favorite gluten-free crackers – Van’s Lots of Everything Crackers.

Wegman’s has snack size yogurts, which fit perfectly into the kids’ lunch boxes. Throw in some lunch meat and Lance’s cheese crackers and the kids are happy 🙂

My children often want a variety in their lunch. If I give them one thing, like leftover pasta in a thermos, they like it but say that they need more than one item to eat 😉 Kielbasa, blueberries, my favorite crackers and a common accompaniment some carrots or peppers and hummus, give them enough to choose from.

As a sweet treat on the road or to bring with my son to a birthday party, I use Ziploc round screw top containers to carry a cupcake. I try to make a batch regularly and keep them in the freezer to pull out when needed, but in a pinch Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s both carry delicious gluten-free cupcakes.

What are your favorite on the go lunches and sweet treats?

Strawberry Sauce

Having different sauce recipes in your repertoire to change up meals and desserts can expand your menus tremendously. Sauces are not just for savory dishes. My strawberry sauce is simple and delicious! Strawberries are so tasty and sweet. My kids love them, so when they are on sale, I buy them up! Often that means that they can start to go bad before we have had a chance to finish eating them. With all the amazing fresh fruit and vegetables coming into season, they are more cost effective and much more abundant. Here is this crazy easy recipe that you can use to top pancakes or waffles, ice cream or yogurt or whatever you like!

Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

16 ounces of fresh strawberries, sliced

2 Tablespoons of sugar (add ½ Tablespoon at a time and taste because it depends on how sweet your strawberries are naturally)

2 Tablespoons of water

1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar, optional (but I think it adds such a great depth of flavor! Doesn’t taste vinegary)

Directions

Add all the ingredients to a sauce pan on medium high heat on the stove. Stir every couple of minutes until the fruit breaks down and it becomes a sauce, about 15 minutes. Serve warm over pancakes or cool and pour over ice cream or swirl in with yogurt. Can keep in the fridge 3 or 4 days in an airtight container.

You can also make this with blueberries, raspberries or blackberries and just adjust the sugar based on how sweet the fruits are. Don’t let those summer fruits go to waste!

There are just so many uses for this sauce. You can make ice cream sundaes, pour this sauce over gf angel food cake or my biscuits for a version of strawberry shortcake.

What is your favorite summer sauce? How do you use it?

Basic Recipes You Can Adjust To Your Own Taste

After taking a much needed break, the blog is back! I’ve been busy cooking, cleaning out closets and celebrating. I turned 40 and then had a restful Mother’s Day. I have so many great recipes and gluten-free finds to share from the past couple of weeks! Stay tuned!

I am continually thinking about how to put into words the kinds of recipes I like to make and then I had an epiphany while driving by myself in the car the other day. I turned on NPR (WGBH Boston, 89.7) and heard Christopher Kimball’s voice. It was Milk Street Kitchen Radio with Christopher Kimball (formerly of America’s Test Kitchen) and Sara Moulton (who has a show on PBS now but I used to religiously watch her cooking show on the Food Network, over 15 years ago). They took an interesting caller, asking about how to get his fiance to eat more of a variety of foods. He wanted to know any good cookbooks for kids, as he compared her palate to that of a child.

Mr. Kimball’s answer is exactly what mine would be, although much more eloquently said. He said that instead of trying to cook down to her taste level, to make what he calls “bridge recipes.” The light bulb went off in my head. That is exactly what I do! His example included finding a basic recipe for fried chicken and then change up the flavors, because most countries have their version of fried chicken (Japanese tempura, etc).

Here are some of my “bridge recipes” and some variations you can make to help expand your family’s palate or just change up your weekly menu.

My basic meatball recipe can be changed up by making Italian Stuffed MeatballsVietnamese flavored meatballsTex Mex flavored meatballs, Greek MeatballsSwedish Meatballs or even Meatloaf meatballs! Meatballs are a familiar shape for kids or even picky adults 🙂 By changing up the flavors you can expose them to new tastes.

There are a million ways to make roasted chicken. It is also something many people like and are familiar with, so it is another great vessel to make “bridge” recipes from. So instead of Herb Roasted Chicken try my  One pan Roasted Chicken with tomatoes and feta, Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs or Marinated Roasted Teriyaki Chicken.

Another great way to create “bridge” recipes is to change up the sauces you use. Try these sauces to change up your grilled chicken, steak, fish or even veggies: Barbecue Sauce, Balsamic Honey Mustard Sauce or Tomatillo salsa (this post also has a basic quesadilla recipe which you can make many variations of! A great “bridge”recipe!).

Thank you Christopher Kimball for helping me articulate my style of cooking.  I make basic recipes and create “bridge” recipes from them by using different sauces or spices from a different culture. What is your favorite “bridge” recipe?  Check out Milk Street Radio to find out when it is on in your area or download the podcast! They are great!

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

When my son was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I thought that meant saying goodbye to all my cookbooks. I definitely have learned that is not the case! So many recipes in my favorite cookbooks (like Mastering the Art of French Cooking) are naturally gluten free or can be adapted. The tricky adaptations come when I want to bake something and can clearly remember what the full gluten version tastes like.

Making these blueberry muffins from the First Edition of McCall’s Cookbook (1963) has been challenging, but I finally got it right! We have been housebound this school vacation week due to one kid with pneumonia, who is luckily on the mend, so the kids wanted to bake. In between marathon games of Monopoly, playing Angry Birds Star Wars on the Ipad and watching many, many movies, this recipe finally came together!

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins (adapted from McCalls, First Edition 1963)

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups sifted gluten-free Cup4Cup flour

¼ cup sugar

3 teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1 1/3 cup of milk

6 Tablespoons of melted butter

3 eggs, beaten

8 to 10 ounces fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried

Cinnamon sugar, optional for topping (1/4 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and either grease muffin tin or line with paper liners. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add cinnamon and grate in nutmeg. In another bowl combine milk, melted butter and eggs. Add wet mixture to dry and mix using a fork, just until all dry ingredients are combined. Fold in blueberries. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop a little less than 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup, around 3/4 full. Sprinkle about 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar over each muffin, if you like. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

These muffins are not very sweet, so the cinnamon sugar on top helps give a little more sweetness to each bite. This usually makes 14 to 15 muffins each time. We made these yesterday and are already down to 5 this morning 🙂 I’ve only had one. These are great to throw in with school lunches or bring as a snack on a road trip.

If you want to try one of my other baking adapations, try these amazing Buttermilk Biscuits! You would never even know that they are gluten free.

I have started quite a cookbook collection, which I keep adding to whenever I go into a consignment shop or get a gift card to Amazon. I love cookbooks. I could sit and read cookbooks all day. What are your favorites?

Basic Chocolate Bark Recipe

Chocolate Bark is a great recipe to have in your arsenal. It is always a hit, so versatile and incredibly easy to make! You can make it for Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, 4th of July or on a rainy Saturday. It only takes about 30 minutes (5 to 10 minutes of actual work).

Here is the basic recipe:

Basic Chocolate Bark Recipe

Ingredients

1 – 16 ounce bag of chocolate chips (white, dark or milk chocolate)

Toppings, optional

Directions

Prep a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment or wax paper the same size as the pan. Spray with cooking spray. Prep your ingredients. Pour all the chocolate chips into a glass bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, mixing the chips each time in between. It should take about 3 rounds, around 90 seconds total.  Pour the melted chocolate onto the prepared sheet and spread out to about 1/8 inch thick.

After pouring then add your favorite toppings and lightly press in. Place in freezer for about 20 minutes. Break into pieces. Keep refrigerated.

Topping ideas:

Baklava Bark – Add 1/3 cup crushed nuts (pistachios, walnuts or almonds), zest of one lemon and honey drizzled on top.

Holiday Bark – Add 2 crushed candy canes.

Cookies and Cream- Add about 4-6 crushed GF oreos (I like GF Trader Joe’s Os or Glutino cookies)

Trail Mix Bark – Add 1/4 cup of partially crushed pretzels (I like synder’s GF or Glutino) and 1/4 cup of craisins

Smores Bark – add about 1/4 cup of crushed graham crackers (I like Schar’s GF graham crackers) and about 1/ 4 cup of mini marshmallows. If you like, use a culinary torch to lightly toast the marshmallows.

The options are limitless. Bark is a great idea to make alongside your holiday dessert or put them in clear gift bags and give as a parting gift.

If you need some more dessert ideas try my Raspberry Lemon Thyme Tiramisu or Boston Cream Pie Cake or GF Crispy Treats or Chocolate Pudding Pie or if you are feeling adventurous try my Baked Alaska.