Archive for June, 2009


Gluten-Free Menu Swap – June 29

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menu-swap-009This week I’m hosting the Gluten-Free Menu Swap. Thanks to Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness for keeping it going. I chose balsamic vinegar as the theme ingredient this week for two reasons: One, because it is acceptable for most diets (Balsamic vinegar is generally considered to be gluten-free, however some may have additives such as coloring, so it’s always a good idea to check the label for ingredients.); And two, because I seem to be using it a lot lately. It must be all the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available during the summer.

Balsamic Vinegar adds such a nice flavor to foods, actually enhancing the natural flavors and balancing out the tastes of sweet and sour. It can be used in salad dressings, sauces, marinades, or on fruit, fish, steaks, and more. And, according to wikipedia traditional balsamic vinegar has excellent digestive properties. Balsamic vinegar is more expensive than your typical red wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar. And the range of prices can vary as much as the cost of wine. I settle for the lower cost balsamic vinegar at $3 per 16 oz. bottle, but have seen some for $14 per 8 oz. bottle. Fortunately, a little bit goes a long way in recipes.

Here are some recipes I’ve made with balsamic vinegar:

Baked Salmon with a Balsamic Glaze

Berry Fruit Salad

Red Potato and Green Bean Salad

Slow-Cooked Balsamic Carrots

Here’s what we’re having for dinner this week:

Monday – Crockpot Chicken
Whole chicken cooked in the slow cooker with garlic and onion. Serving with mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Tuesday – Baked Salmon with a Balsamic Glaze
Serving with pearl quinoa and Brussels sprouts.

Wednesday – Hamburger Stroganoff
Hamburger, bacon, and mushrooms cooked with a creamy chicken soup and served atop wide noodles. Serving with asparagus with balsamic vinegar.

Thursday – Seven-layer Salad
This is a one-dish meal with a variety of ingredients (seven, if you want to be precise) — diced ham, bacon, fresh or frozen peas, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, green onion — and topped with a creamy dill dressing.

Friday – Fish and Chips
Hoping to try a recipe for gluten-free fish and chips. Serving with Berry Fruit Salad.

Saturday – Cheeseburgers
Grilling burgers and serving with corn-on-cob and potatoes cooked on the grill.

Any leftovers still in the refrigerator come out for everyone to choose their own meal.

And here’s what some gluten-free friends are having this week:

Like me, Kimberly at Gluten-Free is Life also has salmon on the menu this week. And her Caprese salad with balsamic gastrique sounds yummy. Looks like she also has plans to try out the new Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix. I’m looking forward to seeing her review of it, since I haven’t tried it yet. Be sure to check out her full week’s menu on her website.

Planning for warmer weather, Elizabeth at Modern Gal is putting salads and other meals chilled or served at room temperature on this week’s menu. I’m especially interested in her Thai chicken salad, but everything on her menu looks great.

Lots of enticing meals on JoAnn’s menu plan: The picture she posted of BBQ Chicken Pizza is making me drool. She’s got fish tacos planned for Friday and breakfast quiche planned for dinner on Sunday. More of her meals, with recipes linked for most, are at My Experiment in Gluten Free Living.

Sorry to hear that Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness is allergic to balsamic vinegar. But never mind that, she always has interesting, flavorful recipes to share, and her menu this week is no exception. She’s making Thai Coconut sauce to go with turkey and a Roasted Tomato and Carmelized Onion Soup. She’s also planning to try my Raspberry Divinity Tarts. I’m anxious to hear how the recipe works for her.

If you’re still looking for more meal ideas, be sure to check out I’m an Organizing Junkie where hundreds of people post links to their weekly menus (not all gluten-free).

Kristine at Glutenfreeda submitted this recipe for Roasted Strawberries With Wine & Balsamic Vinegar Sauce.

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Baked Salmon with a Balsamic Glaze

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img_3731xThis is another one of my quick and easy recipes. Broiling is an even faster way to cook salmon in the oven, but for me that also means it can overcook (aka. burn) even faster. I often get interrupted by kids or distracted by other dishes I’m preparing. So, I chose to bake the salmon to give myself a little more cushion of time. The balsamic glaze has a subtle sweetness that complements the salmon nicely.

Baked Salmon with a Balsamic Glaze


4 (6 oz.) salmon fillets (about 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick)
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP Dijon mustard (I used whole grain.)
1/4 Cup balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F, and prepare a baking sheet or glass baking pan by lightly spraying with oil.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil. Now add the garlic and saute a couple minutes, or until aromatic. Add the honey, mustard, and vinegar, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Place the salmon fillets on the baking sheet, and spoon the balsamic mixture over the fillets.
  4. Put the pan of salmon into the oven and bake for 12 – 16 minutes. Salmon is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

Additional Notes:

  • If you use salmon fillets with the skin on one side, no need for spraying the pan with oil. I recommend you line the pan with aluminum foil. Then, place the salmon on it with skin side down. When it’s done cooking, you can leave the skin stuck to the foil while lifting the salmon off the pan (and skin) with a spatula.
  • For me, the hardest part of cooking fish is getting the cooking time right, especially since the size of fillets can vary. To be consistent and cook the salmon evenly, try to purchase fillets that are about the same size and thickness.

Notable Links:

  • For more gluten-free recipes and ideas, check out “What Can I Eat That’s Gluten-Free?” at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.
  • For more gluten-free recipes using balsamic vinegar, check out Friday Foodie Fix at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.
Categories : What's for Dinner?
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Gluten-Free Tempura Recipe

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For this month’s Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger, I chose Gina at The Gluten-Free Gourmand. Her website is full of great gluten-free recipes, food reviews, and plenty of good photographs, too. I was looking for a gluten-free tempura to use for shrimp when I found her recipe for Gluten-Free Tempura. I’ve made gluten-free tempura before, but couldn’t find the recipe I had used in the past. So, I was happy to find Gina’s. I had all the ingredients on-hand, except for the glutinous rice flour. I did some research and found that you can use sweet rice flour as a substitute. Not sure it’s an even exchange, though.

I decided to make shrimp and vegetable tempura. So, I started by cleaning and shelling the shrimp, leaving on the tails. Then patted them dry with paper towels so the batter would stick better. I also cleaned and cut up broccoli; and peeled and sliced a sweet potato. I had plans to try it with onion and mushrooms, but by the time I got to them I decided I had already cut up more food than my family would eat. I was, however, surprised at how much I was able to cook with just one recipe of tempura.

Initially, the batter seemed too thin and runny. Perhaps my substitute sweet rice flour wasn’t doing the job. So, I added another 1/4 Cup of cornstarch and 1/4 Cup of sweet rice flour. That seemed to be perfect. It covered the shrimp and vegetables, but was a very thin and crispy tempura just the way it should be.

img_3646xOK, one other change I made: I didn’t use olive oil and sesame oil. I used peanut oil in my electric deep fryer set at 375° F. It really worked out well. I put a basket in the bottom of the fryer, and carefully dropped in the shrimp and vegetables. They cooked up very quickly, and I used the basket to pull them out of the fryer. I noticed in her pictures, that Gina was using chopsticks while cooking. Well, after getting hot oil splattered on my hand, I decided using chopsticks was a much better idea than dropping the food in with my fingers.

img_3659xThis recipe was really fun to make and even better to eat. I was amazed at how much food it made. My kids weren’t interested in eating it. (They just don’t know what they’re missing!) I ate as much as I could shovel in, but still had a lot left over. I wasn’t really sure how they would do as leftovers, but I wasn’t about to throw it all out. After a few days in the refrigerator, I was sure they were just going to be too soggy to eat. But, you know, they crisped right up in the toaster oven and were perfect for a quick lunch! They did even better in the oven at 375° F for 15 minutes.

img_3653xI will definitely be making this again. Though probably only when I have extra time for cooking. I spent a lot of time on preparing the shrimp and vegetables and a lot of time on the cleanup. Maybe I need to simplify my techniques and make a smaller batch!

Thanks to Gina for sharing her recipe for Gluten-Free Tempura and to Terri at Faking It Gluten Free Style for hosting the event this month. Thanks also to Sea at Book of Yum for organizing the event. Check back here for next month’s Adopt A GF Blogger, as I’ll be hosting it while Sea will be taking care of the expected little Baby Yum.

Categories : What's for Dinner?
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Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

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img_3392xThis is one of my kids’ favorite meals. It’s the one dinner I can always count on them eating. With only six ingredients, this recipe is very quick and easy. If you’re like me, I always make more than I need, so that I can have some to freeze or just use for a second (or third!) meal of leftovers. If you don’t overcook them, they turn out very moist and tender on the inside, but nice and crunchy on the outside.

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets


2 lbs. boneless/skinless chicken breasts (or tenderloins), cut into pieces
*1 Cup milk
1 egg
1 Cup gluten-free bread crumbs
*1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp seasoning salt (We use Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.)


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk with the egg. Cut chicken breasts into bite size pieces and place in the bowl to soak.
  3. In a large bowl, or gallon-size zip-style bag, mix together the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and seasoning salt.
  4. Now, place some of the chicken nuggets into the bowl (or bag) and toss to coat with bread crumb mixture. Remove the coated nuggets and place on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with oil. Continue the process of coating the nuggets until all are breaded.
  5. Bake at 350° F for 15 – 20 minutes.

Additional Notes:

  • I like to make bread crumbs myself. I basically toast the ends or pieces of gluten-free bread not suitable for sandwiches and put them into the freezer until ready to use. Then, I take them out of the freezer and chop up in a food processor until they’re crumbs.
  • You can buy gluten-free bread crumbs online or at stores that carry a lot of gluten-free food products.
  • Other ideas for making bread crumbs: crush up gluten-free cereal (Rice Chex works good.), gluten-free crackers, tortilla chips, etc. Check the labels to make sure they are gluten-free!
  • I usually cook the chicken nuggets with a little more space between them than in the picture above so they crisp up nice and evenly.
  • Don’t forget to give your kids dipping sauces: honey, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, etc.  For my kids, I think that’s part of the attraction to the meal.
  • I’ve made this recipe by memory so many times, I almost forgot where it came from. It was inspired by the recipe Chicken Breasts Parmesan in Bette Hagman’s cookbook “The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy.” I modified the recipe for our taste and ease of making.
  • *June 2012 — I now make this recipe DAIRY-FREE. I use an almond milk or other dairy-free alternative and a Vegan Parmesan Cheese alternative. You could also  just leave out the parmesan and use other herbs or spices to vary the flavor.

For more dinner ideas check out What’s For Dinner? Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

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Menu Plan June 22

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mpm121jpgThis week’s menu is Kids’ Choice. I’ve included many of my kids’ favorite gluten-free dinner items.

Monday – Parmesan Chicken Nuggets
Quick chicken nuggets made with gluten-free bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Serving with french fries and broccoli.

Tuesday – Leftovers
Leftover chicken nuggets and BBQ Pulled Pork. Serving with peas and carrots.

Wednesday – Chick-fil-A
We’ll be out running errands, so I thought I’d let the kids eat and play at Chick-fil-A. My kids eat the chargrilled chicken filet (no bun, just the filet), fruit cup, and waffle fries. I think I’ll try their Chargrilled Chicken and Fruit Salad this week. If you haven’t tried Chick-fil-A yet, check out their gluten-free menu.

Thursday – Chicken Tacos
Slow-cooked Mexican chicken, served with corn tortillas and taco shells, lettuce, shredded cheese, black olives, avocado, tomato, etc.

Friday – Pork Chops with Black Beans
Honestly, my kids don’t really eat the black beans, but they do like the pork chops. My husband and I love the black beans, and we’ll use the leftover black beans later this week in rice bowls. Serving pork chops with rice and green beans.

SaturdayGrilled Steaks
Grilling steaks and serving with potatoes cooked on the grill and corn-on-the-cob.

Sunday – Rice Bowls
For some reason, my kids have decided they don’t like rice anymore. So, they won’t be eating rice bowls. But, they will eat leftover taco meat with quickly heated corn tortillas. My husband and I love rice bowls: rice on the bottom, topped with leftover black beans from pork chops, leftover chicken from tacos, shredded cheese, black olives, etc. I think I’ll make some guacamole to go on top.

Need more menu ideas?
For more gluten-free meals and recipes check out the GF Menu Swap, hosted this week by Esther at The Lilac Kitchen. Her theme ingredient for the week is black currants, which are more common in the UK than the US. Her meal ideas for utilizing them this week sound intriguing and very tasty. I don’t think I’ve cooked with black currants since going gluten-free. Before then, I used to bake them in wonderful scones, but I haven’t tried converting that recipe to be gluten-free yet.

Even more meals and recipes (not necessarily gluten-free) are listed at’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find links to about 400 different menu plans.

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