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!

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.

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!)

 

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!

 

Shepherd’s Pie, easy meal for the freezer or a for a friend

Spring is in full swing! Some days here in New England are 90 degrees and others barely reach 60. Having delicious comfort food meals in the freezer for you, your guests or to bring for a friend in need is very helpful. Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorites. I love it. It is one of the few ways I can get my kids to eat mashed potatoes! They eat many things and eat potatoes in most other forms, but for some reason mashed potatoes are in their mind, a form of torture that I save only for them 😉

Shepherd’s Pie is great to bring to new parents who need a meal or a friend who has just moved or had surgery. It is great to bring to a potluck or serve at a graduation celebration. It is naturally gluten free by using cornstarch instead of flour to thicken the meat sauce. No one will miss the gluten.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil

3 pounds of ground meat (beef, pork or turkey…I often use a mixture of beef and pork)

1 white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 sprigs thyme

1 cup of beef stock

2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

5 russet potatoes, diced

1 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup of milk

2 Tablespoons cream cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon of paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown meat in large high rimmed, oven safe sauté pan.  Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Stir occasionally and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. In a small bowl mix stock, vinegar and cornstarch. Pour into meat mixture. Combine and cook on medium to low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add potatoes and salt to stock pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for about 20 minutes. When potatoes are soft, drain and add milk and cream cheese, then mash together. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

Spoon mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and smooth out with spatula. Top with a sprinkle of paprika and place in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes. Serve!

If you plan to freeze or gift the shepherd’s pie, first pour the meat mixture into a foil casserole dish and then smooth potatoes over the top before cooking.

For a fancy twist, you can make baked potatoes and scoop out the insides, make mashed potatoes with the insides and then spoon the meat mixture into the skins. Simply cover with mashed potatoes and bake. Twice baked shepherds pie..mmmm!

What is your favorite meal to freeze? What is your favorite meal you have received in a time of need? Here are some other freezer meals or meals to bring a friend:

Gluten-Free Stuffed Shells

Meatballs

Meatloaf

Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-cheese

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

 

 

 

 

Gluten-free Stuffed Shells for a Party

Graduations, end of school year parties and summer holidays are all upon us. It can be a challenge to host a celebration at your house if you have celiac disease or have a family member with it. It doesn’t have to be! Here are some of my ideas for hosting a large gathering that is completely gluten free and no one will even miss the gluten!!

A tray of stuffed shells are a great way to feed a crowd. I was so excited when browsing at my local Italian specialties store (Alfredo’s) and I found an entire end cap filled with different shapes of imported Italian gluten-free pasta. I bought a 1 pound bag of shells, which made 2 large casserole dishes of stuffed shells. Others have found this pasta at Marshalls, TJ Max or Homegoods. The recipe below is for half of the bag. I made the other half with about 8 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained instead of zucchini and froze it for another time.

Gluten-free stuffed shells

Ingredients

2 small zucchini, shredded

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

About 24 ounces of ricotta cheese

4 to 5 ounces of cream cheese

8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, shredded

About 40 ounces of canned tomato sauce (I like to use part diced and part sauce)

½ teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, torn

¼ cup shredded cheddar

½ pound of shells (I used ½ a pound of imported Italian GF shells from La Fabbrica Della Pasta)

Directions

Cook pasta according to package. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté zucchini with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a bowl mix the ricotta, cream cheese and 4 ounces of the mozzarella. In another bowl mix tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil leaves. Mix cooked zucchini with the cheese mixture. Pour a layer of tomato sauce in bottom of casserole dish. Then fill each shell with 2-3 Tablespoons of the cheese mixture and place in dish.

Cover with the rest of the sauce, rest of the mozzarella and the cheddar. Cook covered with foil for 20 minutes and uncovered for 20 to 30. Serve or Freeze.

You can serve this with your favorite grilled hot dogs, chicken or ribs and a salad. Cut up a watermelon, put out a large bowl of Pirate’s Booty, Skinny Pop and Cape Cod Chips, serve Hoodsie’s so you don’t have to scoop any ice cream or have popsicles (Outshine or Wegman’s brand are gluten free) and you are all set for a gluten-free party! What is your favorite party food?

Holiday Side Dish Ideas

Side dishes are often my favorite part of the meal. They enhance the main course. They can be warm and comforting or light and refreshing. They can be vegetarian, vegan and gluten free or full of butter, bacon and cheese, still gluten free 🙂 Side dishes give you an opportunity to use seasonal vegetables to make your meal amazing, butternut squash in the fall or asparagus in the spring.

Last winter we moved into a new house and were very excited for spring to see what was going to grow. We were not expecting asparagus, but one day the kids were playing out back and discovered stalks of asparagus growing out of the ground! We learned that asparagus is difficult to grow. It takes years to establish a patch of asparagus. We are very lucky that the previous owner had a green thumb! Here is a simple roasted asparagus recipe that would be a great addition to your holiday table.

Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients

About 1 pound of fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

¾ of a teaspoon salt

1/8 of a teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss all the ingredients together on a sheet pan. Spread asparagus out and roast for about 10 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and transfer asparagus to a serving platter.

This is such a great, simple recipe that you can prep in the morning and put in the oven just before serving. Similarly you can do this with Green Beans.

I’m going to serve this asparagus dish at Easter with a version of my Twice Baked Potatoes. If you are looking for a decadent side dish try this Sweet Potato Gratin or easy Polenta. However, if you have time, try making Potato Gnocchi or Quinoa Risotto to wow your guests.

You can make your holiday meals as simple or involved as you like. I have learned over the years, for me, I try to keep it simple on the holidays, make things I can prep ahead of time that don’t involve a lot of hands on work the day of. For example, if I am serving mashed potatoes, I make it in the morning or day before and then put into the crock pot to keep warm or reheat.  For us it is easier to make everything rather than worry about cross-contamination if someone brings something with gluten in it. How do you handle the holidays with food allergies or Celiac disease?

 

Cornish Game Hens

Check another meal off my bucket list for 2017! Cornish game hen are a way to wow guests and a great alternative to ham for Easter Dinner or beef for Christmas.

I made them on a snowy April Fools Day. We took advantage of a nasty day outside, in between sports seasons, to stay warm inside, start a home improvement project, play board games and make some comfort food.

Cornish Game Hen

Ingredients

5 Cornish game hen, keep the gizzards and neck

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons of salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 lemon, zested and cut into 6 pieces

1 large white onion, cut into 12 pieces

5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

10 stems of fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Dry the hens. Stuff each with a piece of onion, piece of garlic, piece of lemon and a stem of thyme Mix the lemon zest with the salt, pepper and ground thyme in a small bowl. Rub each hen with olive oil and sprinkle with  the lemon zest, salt, pepper and ground thyme mixture. Place into roasting pan and surround with the gizzards, rest of the onions, garlic and thyme stems. Roast in oven for about 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes. Check internal temperature. When cooked through and juices run clear, place hens on a cutting board under a foil tent to rest for about 10 minutes.

You can make a great pan sauce with the drippings. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat (2 burners if a large pan) and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the gizzards, onions, garlic and thyme stems. Add the juice of about 1/2 a lemon, a tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and stir. Whisk in 1 to 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes, whisking to get clumps out. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and remove from heat. It is ready to serve!

Each person got half of a bird and I still have enough to make a pasta dish with the leftovers for dinner tonight. I served served the hens with wild rice from Wegmans and frozen peas.

What are you making for Easter dinner? I am thinking ham, salmon, a potato dish and maybe asparagus. What sides are tradition in your family? Try something new like my Sweet Potato Gratin or polenta with Balsamic green beans.

Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-Cheese

The calendar may say it is spring, but walking outside into 16 degree temperatures this morning, it definitely did not feel like spring! While the weather is still chilly, warm up inside with a new spin on mac-n-cheese. This recipe combines my favorite spinach and artichoke dip with gluten-free pasta. The first time I ever made it I simply used the leftover dip from a party and mixed it with the cooked pasta. Great way to use up leftovers, however making it from scratch as a pasta dish is even better!

Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-Cheese

Ingredients

1-12 to 16 ounce package of your favorite GF pasta

1/3 cup of butter

¼ cup of Cup4Cup gluten free flour

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

3 ounces of cream cheese

1 Tablespoon brown spicy mustard

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Juice of ½ a lemon

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce

4 to 6 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1-10 ounce jar of artichokes, drained and chopped

8 ounces of cheddar, shredded (the Alpine Cheddar from Cabot works really well)

Directions

Prepare pasta according to directions on the box. In a large shallow pan, melt butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for a few minutes and then add the milk. Whisk together until all the lumps are out.  Stir in cream cheese, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Add spinach and artichokes. Combine and heat through, then add cheddar. Mix to melt the cheese and take off heat. Add drained pasta and serve.

Spring warmth and fresh recipes will come soon enough! For today, I will sit on the couch under a warm fleece blanket and watch movies with my daughter (home sick with strep) and dream of spring. What are you most looking forward to in the spring?

Baked Alaska

Check one item off my 2017 Cooking Bucket List! For Valentine’s Day I made Baked Alaska for my family. It is definitely old fashioned and definitely delicious! I scoured the internet and my cookbook collection for recipes to learn the process. Allrecipes.com never fails to provide good recipes, so I used this recipe to make sure I got the meringue right.  Some use pound cake and sorbet and bake the meringue while others use sponge cake and ice cream and use a torch on the meringue. The thought of putting ice cream in the oven, made me nervous, so I decided to go the torch route. Plus that is more fun!

Baked Alaska

Ingredients

1 gallon of Hood Patchwork ice cream

1 box of gluten free chocolate cake mix, plus an extra egg (I like Wegmans GF chocolate cake mix)

8 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of sugar

Directions

Take the gallon of ice cream out to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare a medium sized bowl by lining with plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Press the ice cream down into the bowl and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Make 8 inch round cake according to instructions, adding the extra egg. Cool the cake and cut to size of the ice cream in the bowl if needed. Press cake onto the bottom of the ice cream. Cover and freeze for another 4 hours or overnight. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, take the bowl of ice cream and cake out of the freezer and make the meringue. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Turn the bowl with ice cream and cake onto a plate and take the bowl and wrap or paper off.

Frost the ice cream with the meringue. Take a culinary torch and run it over all the meringue until toasted. Serve immediately. Freeze the leftovers.

It was much easier to make than I thought. It does take planning, however. I froze the ice cream in the bowl and made the cake one night. The next morning (day of service) I cut the cake to fit the ice cream and put back in the freezer until after dinner, when I finished it with the meringue.

Working my way through my bucket list. I found cornish game hens on sale this week and put them in the freezer, so a fancy dinner where we will each have our own “little chicken” according to my kids, is coming soon 🙂 What is on your cooking bucket list? What would you love to cook?

Burrata and Tomatoes with Fresh Basil

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. It’s on a Tuesday night, so planning a romantic dinner amidst the usual weeknight craze of kids activities, homework and work can be a challenge. This appetizer or snack for 2 takes less than 10 minutes to make. It is decadent, delicious and oh so easy to make.

 

Burrata with tomatoes

Ingredients

1 – 4 ounce ball of burrata

Handful of grape tomatoes (8 to 10), chopped

1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

Pinch of black pepper

3-4 leaves of fresh basil, torn

Directions

Dry off the burrata carefully with a paper towel and place on the center of the plate. Place tomatoes around it. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the tomatoes and burrata. Lastly, shower the plate with fresh basil. Serve with 2 forks 😉

This would be a great appetizer to serve with my poached salmon and quinoa risotto. Top off the meal with ice cream sundaes with fresh whipped cream.

What are you serving for Valentine’s Day?  or celebrating early over the weekend?

Make it Hawaiian

Adding pineapple to a dish can transform it to a tropical delight! My family’s love of “Hawaiian” food has grown over the years. We started with Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple). Then came the Hawaiian hot dogs. This is now a barbecue must have! Slice a hot dog down the middle and stuff with crushed pineapple. Wrap each hot dog with bacon and grill until bacon is cooked. Easy and delicious!

I recently rediscovered kielbasa. It is a great protein that makes a quick, easy and cheap meal! Of course, I had to make it Hawaiian 🙂

Hawaiian Kielbasa with Rice

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of rice

3 cups of broth or water

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

5 pieces of bacon, chopped

½ of a sweet onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 ½ bell peppers

1 kielbasa, diced

8 ounces of crushed pineapple

3 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Directions

Cook the rice with the broth/water, onion powder, salt and pepper and garlic powder in your rice cooker or on the stove top. Add the oil and bacon to the pan. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add onion, garlic and bell peppers. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the kielbasa and heat through. Add the pineapple, soy sauce and brown sugar, cover and cook for 5 more minutes and it will be ready to serve.

This is a perfect quick weeknight meal or even for entertaining. It would be a great meal for a certain football game on Sunday night 🙂 I’m planning on making  wings and pulled pork on gluten-free pretzel rolls (from one of my favorite sources, Gluten Free on a Shoestring) along with some carrots and hummus and maybe guacamole. What are you making? Making anything “Hawaiian”?