Maple Bacon

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It’s the time of year for brunch. Whether you’re making it for Mom, Dad, a teacher appreciation brunch, or simply to make an everyday breakfast special, maple bacon will always be the star of the meal! It’s perfect for buffet or plate brunches and requires only two ingredients. Plus, it’s just as easy to make a serving for one or a crowd. Here, I’ve served maple bacon with gluten-free banana muffins, strawberries, and coffee.

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Eat Your Vegetables

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My two daughters loved vegetables from their first tastes of solid food. They still enjoy their veggies as much as dessert! My sons, on the other hand, were a different story. They both loved fruit from the beginning, but when they were young, getting them to eat a healthy variety of vegetables wasn’t always easy. Then I discovered oven roasting. With a little salt and olive oil, virtually any vegetable can be transformed into a treat for kids and adults of all ages. I have roasted broccoli, asparagus, all colors of peppers and potatoes, carrots, green onions, green beans and many others. But to really test this recipe, I decided to try Brussels sprouts on my pickiest eater, Cole. He loved them and was so proud to clean his plate and ask for more!

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

3/4 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts
3/4 lb. raw carrots
olive oil
salt and pepper

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse and trim the ends off of the Brussels sprouts. Cut the larger sprouts in half. Peel carrots and cut into sticks. Place vegetables in separate baking dishes and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle desired amount of salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size and type of vegetable. The sprouts should take about 20 minutes while the carrots are closer to 30 minutes. Vegetables should be tender on the inside and lightly brown and crispy on the outside.

Hint:  Make sure your vegetables are about the same size for even roasting, and use separate baking pans for different vegetables for varying cooking times.   You can toss them together for serving.

Gluten-Free Banana Muffin Redo

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When I married my husband, Matt, in 1986, I could only make two things: chocolate chip cookies and banana muffins. Since then, my favorite memories have been in the kitchen experimenting with food, preparing and enjoying meals with him and our four children. Matt loves to eat good food and has been my guinea pig and biggest fan for more than 25 years. Our grown children, Jordan and Alex, are great and adventurous cooks themselves. But some things never change — I am still obsessed with homemade chocolate chip cookies and banana muffins!

I was so proud to share my gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe last week. I realized that I have learned a few things about gluten-free baking since I posted my banana muffin recipe in back in August. The new recipe has a few small changes, but the main difference is the addition of xantham gum. Oat flour has the delicious flavor we enjoy from wheat flour, but without the gluten, it tends to be too crumbly and dense for a perfect match. Xantham gum gives that same light, fluffy texture that makes homemade gluten-free muffins perfect for everyone. Here’s the banana muffin redo and a delicious apple cinnamon variation.

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“Mom, I’m hungry!”

DSC00493I have heard this thousands of times since my oldest child first learned to talk twenty-five years ago. She never realized that she was hungry until it was urgent. This usually happened 15 minutes before dinner or immediately after school or some other inconvenient time. I came up with the idea of a snack box full of anytime healthy snacks for her and her brother. Now with more kids and several food allergies between them, the problem of having healthy snacks available at any time has grown exponentially! I have been running myself ragged preparing snacks on demand every time someone says, “Mom, I’m hungry!” Then I remembered the snack box.

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Cookies in the Closet

IMG_8863For twenty years I happily made my husband’s favorite treat, chocolate chip cookies, baked so the cookies came out crispy — just the way he likes them. Who doesn’t love a warm, home-baked cookie? I always knew just how to brighten his day! This came to a screeching halt when we had to make adjustments for our children’s food allergies. I have made-over hundreds of our family’s favorite recipes but could not make a great gluten- and dairy-free chocolate chip cookie. For years my husband has been reduced to buying store bought “crispies” and literally eating them in the closet!

Last week I finally made a great gluten- and dairy-free chocolate chip cookie! Now after years of cookies in the closet, my husband can eat warm, homemade cookies in the light of day and share them with the kids! I am very proud of this recipe, and I hope your whole family enjoys them as much as we do.

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A Heartfelt Treat: Gluten-Free Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

DSC00340 Nothing says, “I love you” like a homemade meal. Show your family how much you love them on Valentine’s Day with a healthy, fun, and comforting dinner. Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches are always yummy, and you can make them more special by using a cookie cutter to make the sandwiches into heart shapes. When I was young, this was one of my favorite meals. My mother would always make it special by adding a little dollop of butter to the bowl of tomato soup. I used a fondant cutter to make cold pats of margarine look like little candy hearts.

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Going Green on Game Day

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This is a perfect dip to add to your game-day spread. It is delicious, easy to make, and healthy for the whole crowd! I usually serve it with Tostitos Whole Grain Scoops.

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Gluten-Free Fried Chicken Wings!

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Everyone loves chicken wings, and these are great for everyone! Serve these with celery and buffalo sauce for the big game, with honey and waffles for breakfast, or with barbecue sauce, fries and coleslaw for dinner. You can also pair them with Asian and Southwest flavors. Because of the rice flour, the crunch can hold up to any sauce, and they reheat perfectly!

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Rainbow Fruit on a Stick

Kids of all ages love food on a stick. This is a fundamental truth that becomes even more important during this time of year when we are all trying to eat healthier!

When I first faced the challenge of dealing with my son’s food allergies at school parties, I would bring a small container of strawberries (Cole’s favorite snack) to lessen his disappointment at not being able to have virtually any of the party food. It quickly became obvious that the other children wanted strawberries also. For the next event, I put the strawberries on a bamboo skewer to make it easier for them to grab. The rest is history. I have brought different combinations of fruit to every party, and they always disappear first. Even before the cupcakes! Any fruit works great, but these rainbow fruits may be the best ones yet. Here are some suggestions for fruit in rainbow colors:

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Candy Cane Cupcakes

Having a December birthday in the family can be an additional challenge during the holiday season. We thought we had everything planned this year for our 8-year-old daughter’s birthday celebration when we realized at 8 a.m. before school on the big day that we had forgotten the class cupcakes! It turned out to be a happy accident, however, when the idea for Candy Cane Cupcakes emerged from the few ingredients I had in the pantry.

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