Archive for August, 2009


Menu Plan Monday Aug 31

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menu-swap-009Last week, my in-laws cleaned out all the ripe goodies from their garden and dropped them off at our house as they headed out of town. So, this week I have an abundance of fresh vegetables to use. You’ll find zucchini, tomatoes, green peppers, and jalapeño peppers in our menu this week. No eggplant, but if you’re looking for recipes with eggplant be sure to check out the Book of Yum. This week Sea is hosting the Gluten-Free Menu Swap with eggplant as the theme ingredient.

Monday – Fajitas
I’ll be cutting up onions along with those peppers my mother-in-law brought me to make some fajitas. I’ll marinate some steak strips and serve with corn tortillas and Cilantro Rice.

Tuesday – Chicken Vindaloo
Cooking up some boneless chicken thighs with a vindaloo sauce. May need to serve hot dogs or leftovers to the kids.

Wednesday – Quinoa with Tomatoes and Zucchini
Still working on using up some of those yummy vegetables, so I’ll cook up the zucchini and tomatoes with some quinoa.

Thursday – Spaghetti with Chicken
Making a different version of my chicken spaghetti. I’ll use a thin, brothy sauce with spinach, kalamata olives and feta cheese.

Friday – Garlic Shrimp
Simple supper of shrimp sautéed with butter and garlic and served over leftover quinoa with tomatoes and zucchini.

Saturday – Grilled Steaks
Grilling steaks and serving with corn-on-the-cob and baked potatoes.

Sunday – Tilapia Parmesan
Finishing up the week with tilapia broiled and topped with a creamy Parmesan sauce. Serving with leftover cilantro rice and zucchini.

Need more menu ideas?

As always, there are hundreds more menu plans (not necessarily gluten-free) at Or, check out some of my past menu plans.

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Kids Make Fruit Kabobs

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IMG_4270xI love to get the kids in the kitchen and have them help prepare meals. Well… that’s what I like to say. But honestly, when dinnertime comes around, I’m often rushing around to get it done. Instead of finding something the kids can do, I’m often scooting them out the kitchen, out of my way. With our summer activities finally slowing down this week, we were able to take our time and make something together. We decided to make something that’s always a kid favorite: Fruit Kabobs!

Fruit kabobs are a great activity for kids. You can use almost any fruit, they are in bite-size pieces, and the kids can put it together themselves (or with minimal help, depending on their ages). Melon is a perfect fruit to use on the kabobs because it is so easy to cut. I did the big cuts, and removed the rind from the fruit with the big, sharp knife. But then the kids could use a butter knife to easily cut the melon into bite-size pieces. They thought it was great. We had a cantaloupe, but watermelon and honey dew would be good additions. You can see from the picture that we used strawberries and grapes, too. Go ahead and use up whatever you have in the house. Of course, some fruit turns brown quickly, so if you’re making them in advance you’d probably want to avoid those.

Cutting the fruit. If your kids are older, consider letting them cut the fruit themselves with Rachael Ray’s Young Cooks Cutting Set. If they’re younger you could cut the fruit yourself, and just let the kids put the pieces on the sticks. If your kids are somewhere in between, consider letting them use butter knives or plastic knives.

The Sticks. You can use a variety of sticks for skewering the fruit: toothpicks, bamboo skewers, coffee stirs, small skinny straws, or even chopsticks. But my favorite is plastic swizzle sticks, or Drink Stirrers. They are just the right size, not too sharp, and colorful.

Good for kids and the family. This activity encourages kids to help out in the kitchen. Kids feel good about what they created. They get to pick the fruit they want, and then eat it! With the kids going back to school soon, I’m also thinking this activity is great for helping kids build fine motor skills.

Now that I got the kids back in the kitchen, I’m hoping to continue it more often. So, when I sit down to plan our meals for next week, I’m going to include one or two items that the kids can help prepare. Planning in advance will allow me to schedule around after-school activities and give us plenty of time to get it done. If you’re looking for some kid-friendly recipes, or maybe a little more inspiration, check out these online posts and articles:

Gluten-Free Kids in the Kitchen

Getting Your Children to Cook

Happy Kitchen Jam Tarts (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)

Kids in the Kitchen: Spaghetti and (Gluten-Free) Meatballs

Stir Fry Kid Style

Other Online articles about Kids in the Kitchen:

Benefits of Cooking with Kids

Cooking with Kids Teaches About Simple Snacks

Dads and Kids Cooking Together

Why Invite Your Kids Into The Kitchen?


Cantaloupe is the theme ingredient this week for Friday Foodie Fix at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang. So check it out for more gluten-free recipes with cantaloupe.


Several Lovely Blogs

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Last week, I was honored to be tagged as “One Lovely Blog” by Cheryl at GF Goodness. I have plans to compile a complete list of gluten-free blogs to share with readers, but I haven’t gotten very far with it, yet. So, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to share with you some of the blogs I enjoy reading. This is not an exhaustive list. There are a lot of great blogs out there that focus on the gluten-free diet. Here are some of my favorites:

Book of Yum – Sea creates wonderfully diverse vegetarian recipes. Her gluten-free recipes often include spices and flavors common in cooking in other parts of the world: Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, etc. She also organizes Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger, a blog carnival to encourage bloggers to try each other’s recipes.

Celiacs in the House – I always look forward to hearing about Wendy’s adventures, either in the kitchen, at the farmer’s market, or around town. She has some great gluten-free recipes and product reviews to share.

Flour Arrangements – Sophie has a lovely website with lots of big, beautiful pictures of her gluten-free creations. Makes me drool every time.

Gluten Free Taste of Home – Visit this blog if you’re looking for gluten-free comfort food. Cinde is re-creating all of her favorite vegetarian recipes to be gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Girl – A beautiful writer, Shauna, has been sharing her gluten-free recipes and stories with us for years. We’ve read about her diagnosis, her marriage, and now the birth of her daughter. Her stories often amuse, encourage, and celebrate her gluten-free life. And why not? It’s a healthy way to live.

I’m an Organizing Junkie – What more is there to say. Laura speaks to my inner desire to be organized. It all starts with Menu Plan Monday, a great way to get your week started off right! (This website does not focus on the gluten-free diet, however many people contribute gluten-free menus to Menu Plan Monday.)

Karina’s Kitchen – A lovely writer with beautiful pictures of her scrumptious foods. Karina creates gluten-free recipes that are frequently also free of other common food allergens (dairy, egg and soy). Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free/casein-free recipes.

Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free – Amy always has an uplifting message to share along with her wonderful sugar-free and gluten-free recipes. She is also starting a new blog carnival next week called Slightly Indulgent Mondays.

Sure Foods Living – Alison provides lots of useful information to help others live healthy, gluten-free and allergy-free lives.

The Gluten-Free Homemaker – Every week, Linda hosts a great weekly blog carnival for sharing gluten-free recipes: “What Can I Eat That’s Gluten-Free.” She shows us that making gluten-free meals doesn’t have to be difficult.

The Sensitive Pantry – Nancy has a beautiful blog where she shares her delicious recipes, which avoid gluten, dairy and egg.

The W.H.O.L.E. Gang – Through her Friday Foodie Fix blog carnival, Diane provides recipes and detailed information about the benefits and nutritional qualities of specific foods. She’s an inspiration for trying new foods.

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Cilantro Rice

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IMG_4254xOver the years, I have come to really appreciate the fresh flavor of cilantro. One rice bowl at Chipotle, and I just had to start making cilantro rice at home. It’s actually very quick and easy to make at home, with just a few key ingredients. I like to use it for making rice bowls, but honestly I could just eat the rice as a meal.

Cilantro Rice


1 Cup Basmati Rice, rinsed and drained
1 TBSP butter or olive oil
2 TBSP onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Cups water
1 tsp salt
handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/2 Cup)
2 TBSP lime juice


  1. Rinse the rice in water until the water turns clear. Using a mesh strainer, drain the water from the rice and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and turn up the heat to medium. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it starts to get tender. Now toss in the garlic and cook for another minute until aromatic.
  3. Add the rice to the saucepan and stir around with the onion/garlic sauté. Let it cook in the mixture for a few minutes.
  4. Now pour in the water and stir. Raise the heat to bring it to a boil and stir in the salt.
  5. Then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  6. After cooking for 15 minutes, mix in the lime juice and cilantro. Replace the cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  7. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve. Makes about 4 servings.

Additional Notes:

  • For rice bowls, you can top the rice with any variety of ingredients: Mexican-flavored chicken, beans, corn, shredded cheese, sliced black olives, avocado, tomatoes, etc. Leftover Corn and Black Bean salad is an easy way to add a lot of flavor. And don’t forget guacamole as an option, too.
  • In the picture above, I served it with chicken taquitos. For taquitos, I simply roll Mexican-flavored chicken in corn tortillas and cook in a lightly greased skillet. (For ease of rolling, dip corn tortillas in hot oil (or spray with oil) before rolling and heat on a dry skillet for about 10 seconds on each side.)

Notable Links:

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Menu Plan for Non-GF Houseguests

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Do you ever struggle to figure out what foods to serve to visiting friends and family who aren’t on a gluten-free diet? You want them to like what you’re serving, but you don’t buy or cook with gluten. Last week we had family come to town to stay with us while they toured the area. We added two adults and two small kids to our meal plans. None of our guests were gluten-free, so I thought I’d share with you what we did for meals.

I tried to fix meals that are naturally gluten-free. I also tried to keep meals simple enough to satisfy the kids‘ taste buds. And some days, we went sightseeing with them and got back late, so we needed meals that were quick to fix. I didn’t cook and bake as much as I wanted to for them. The kids probably wouldn’t appreciate more elaborate meals anyway. Instead, I spent more time catching up with family I don’t get to see very often.

Breakfast Items

  • Cereal – We had a lot of varieties on hand: Koala Crisp, Panda Puffs, Honey Nut Chex, Rice Chex, Cinnamon Chex, Brown Rice Crisps, Brown Rice Crisps with Berries, Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles.
  • Waffles
  • Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
  • Yogurt
  • Fruit – blueberries seemed to be the favorite, but we also had bananas, strawberries, cherries, and apples.


  • Sandwiches – My cousin bought regular bread for sandwiches, so we had to be careful about cross-contamination. My cousin used a clean spoon to scoop out the peanut butter and jelly to avoid getting bread crumbs in the jars. (Thanks for understanding, Lorie!) And, plates, utensils and preparation area were cleaned thoroughly. For more gluten-free sandwich ideas, check out my post on alternatives for bread.
  • Cheese slices
  • Pepperoni and bologna
  • Hot dogs
  • Crackers
  • Fruit
  • Chips: corn chips, tortilla chips, potato chips

Snacks & Desserts


Monday – Boston Market
Yep, we cheated the first evening and picked up food at Boston Market on the way home from afternoon activities. Boston Market is a great place to find gluten-free meals. We ordered a chicken family meal with mashed potatoes, corn, and steamed vegetables. I also got an additional rotisserie chicken to make sure we had enough. (For a limited time, it’s only $1.99 to add on to your order!)  It’s always great to have extra chicken to use in other meals later in the week, too. Check out their menu with gluten content indicated. If you don’t have a Boston Market located near you, check out some of these other restaurants with gluten-free menus.

Tuesday – Flank Steak
Flank steak marinated in a gluten-free soy sauce with ginger, garlic, and molasses was grilled and then thinly sliced. We served it with a tossed salad, corn-on-the-cob, and steak-cut french fries.

Wednesday – Chicken Tacos
Another day out sightseeing, so I put chicken in the slow-cooker in the morning and had Mexican chicken ready when we got home. We quickly heated corn tortillas and crispy shells to serve with chopped lettuce, tomato, onion, black olives, black beans, and shredded cheese.

Thursday – Bonefish Grill
Our family visitors generously offered to take us out for dinner. We talked about local restaurants that have gluten-free menus and they decided to try Bonefish Grill, since it was new to them. It’s my son’s favorite restaurant. The only GF item on the kids’ menu is grilled chicken, so that’s what he gets, along with steamed vegetables with no seasoning. He cleans his plate every time, which is saying a lot for my skinny little Celiac. 🙂 My husband and I always start dinner with the Saucy Shrimp appetizer. For dinner, I had the Ahi Tuna with mango salsa served with jasmine rice and steamed vegetables (no seasoning). It was so good! Another favorite of mine on their gluten-free menu is Lily’s chicken (topped with spinach, artichoke and goat cheese) with garlic mashed potatoes.

Friday – Southwestern Chicken Salad
After eating so much at Thursday’s dinner at Bonefish, I was ready for a lighter meal. So, we used leftovers from Wednesday’s meal to build our own salads. The kids didn’t exactly eat salads, but they ate some of the ingredients separately. We also had some hot dogs to heat up for the kids. Hot dogs with cheese in a corn tortilla always works well.

Saturday – Hamburgers
I was told this was a favorite of my cousin’s daughter, so we decided to have hamburgers one night. I was a little concerned about serving gluten-free buns to those used to eating the glutenous ones, but it wasn’t a problem. The youngest kids didn’t want buns, one wanted bread instead of a bun, and the adults enjoyed our favorite GF rolls: Against the Grain. I made a red potato and green bean salad for the adults, and served steamed green beans and French fries for the kids. OK, the adults ate the fries, too. 🙂

Sunday – Leftovers
We had a great time with family, but their vacation time was over. With our guests gone, we tried to finish up the leftovers in the refrigerator.

Need more menu ideas?

For more Gluten-Free Menus, visit this week’s Gluten-Free Menu Swap, hosted by Manda at Aspargus Thin. Her theme this week is grapes. This weekend I made a very tasty Chicken Salad using grapes and leftover chicken from Boston Market.  Thanks to Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness for continuing to organize the Gluten-Free Menu Swap.

As always, there are hundreds more menu plans (not necessarily gluten-free) at