Culinary Inspiration

Posted in baking, cooking, meals, recipe on June 18th, 2012 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Sometimes I need a little creative inspiration so I turn to other blogs for ideas.  I thought you might enjoy some recipes I’ve found recently that are/look yummy and of course can be made gluten free.

Pulled Chicken Barbecue (Eat, Live, Run)

Summer Corn Salad (101 Cookbooks)

Feta Cheese & Roasted Red Pepper Dip (6 in the Morningside)

BLT Corn Salad Wraps (Joy the Baker)

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas (Gluten Free Goddess)

Spiced Tomato Gratin (101 Cookbooks) *I think I would add fresh parmesan to this one

Thick, Chewy Granola Bars (Smitten Kitchen) *Just make sure you use certified gluten-free oats.

Almond Butter Cookies with Chocolate (Gluten Free Girl)

What are you excited about cooking this summer?  What are some of your favorite “go-to” blogs for recipe ideas?

Fall Pumpkin Cake

Posted in baking, recipe on October 24th, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Last week, my friend, Michelle, celebrated a birthday and I decided to bake her a cake.  Since she has an October birthday, I thought it would only be fitting to make her a pumpkin cake!  It’s been a busy fall and I haven’t been doing much baking so I was looking forward to the opportunity to get my hands messy in the kitchen.

I perused online for recipes and ended up going with a slightly adapted version of Gluten-Free Goddess’ Pumpkin Cake recipe.  She bakes dairy free and I decided to make this cake with dairy products too so I went with butter instead of olive oil.  Also, I was feeling a tad pressed for time so I didn’t make icing from scratch.  I went with Betty Crocker’s cream cheese frosting which is labeled “Gluten Free” on the container.  (Sure, buying store bought icing isn’t as yummy as making your own but it is a way to cut a little time, and dishes, out of your preparation.)

The cake turned out pretty well, and leftovers even held up for a few days afterward.  The only change I would make to my version of the recipe, is not use an entire ½ cup of almond flour.  I like some texture from almond flour but not too much.  I would maybe go with ¼ cup of almond flour and ¾ cup of tapioca instead of ½ and ½.

Fall Pumpkin Cake (adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess)


  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 15-oz can cooked pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup sorghum flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 10×13 baking pan.  (Gluten-Free Goddess lines with parchment paper and greases, but I didn’t.)  Mix dry ingredients (white rice flour through salt) together in bowl.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until “light and frothy.” Add the butter, and mix.  Then add brown sugar and mix thoroughly.  Add pumpkin and vanilla and mix until all ingredients are blended.  Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture, a little at a time, and beat to combine, for two minutes.

Pour batter into baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Once cooled, turn cake onto a platter.  (I actually didn’t use the whole cake for the birthday event because it was so big and wouldn’t fit nicely on my platter.)  Ice the cake with store bought (or homemade) icing and decorate however you’d like.

Enjoy with friends!  It’s plenty for a crowd.  Happy Fall!

More gluten-free buzz in the media

Posted in bakery, baking, GF product, media on October 18th, 2011 by Betsy – 4 Comments

Even NPR is talking about going gluten free!  In this broadcast, Look Whose Going Gluten Free, they discuss a new flour blend created by French Laundry’s pastry chef, Lena Kwak and owned by the famous chef/culinary entrepreneur, Thomas Keller.  Labeled as Cup4Cup this brand is not actually used yet at French Laundry but available for purchase.  Now that a bunch of celebs are going gluten free, it’s only fitting that their becomes a high end niche in the GF market!  You can find C4C yourself at Williams-Sonoma, online and in the store.

Has anyone tried Cup4Cup yet?  Thoughts?

Wild Rice Casserole & Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

Posted in baking, cooking, recipe, vegetarian on May 3rd, 2011 by Betsy – 3 Comments

One of my favorite foodie writers is Heidi Swanson, creator of the blog, 101 Cookbooks.  I love her photographs, recipes and writing style.  I feel like she and I would be friends…if she knew me.   All of Heidi’s recipes are vegetarian, yet filling and full of flavor.  In the past, you’ve seen me make her Brussels sprouts and chunky lentil soup, two of my all time favorites.  One of my most tattered, well-loved, cookbooks on my shelf is Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking.


For the last year, I’ve been following on 101 Cookbooks that Heidi was hard at work on a new cookbook.  Of course the moment it hit shelves, I ordered a copy of Super Natural Every Day: Well Loved Recipes from my Natural Foods Kitchen from Amazon.  Heidi’s personality and flavors are pervasive throughout the book.  The formatting and style is similar to her first cookbook, but she organizes it differently and of course, the recipes are new.  Because she cooks vegetarian, Heidi uses a lot of unique grains and flours, which appeals to the gluten-free girl in me.  While not everything Heidi makes is GF, it’s easy to navigate around those pages and even the recipes I can’t copy verbatim, I find to be inspirational in my own culinary endeavors.

Last week I had my “Fight Club” over for dinner.  This group of girls that I meet with weekly has played a huge role in why I love Atlanta so much.  It’s hard to believe that 18 months ago, I didn’t know any of them!  Since it was a Ladies’ Dinner, I decided this would be the perfect time to break out Super Natural Every Day. I also knew that I wanted to use the grill and didn’t want to be running back and forth between the kitchen and the back yard.  Heidi’s wild rice casserole stuck out to me because all of the prep can be done ahead of time and then it just bakes in the oven, leaving me to do my thing on the grill.


The wild rice casserole involves quite a few steps along the way and some chopping but it’s worth the work.  AND, when your guests arrive, you’ll no longer be laboring away, but looking relaxed and ready to sit and chat with friends, not slave over the stove.

This yummy recipe makes rice flavorful and adds depth to a grain that, in its most traditional state, can be so bland.  I didn’t change a thing about the recipe and it turned out really well.  I might add a little more salt, but other than that, it was delicious.  And, even better the next day, and the next day, and the next day, for leftovers!  The cottage cheese, sour cream and gruyere cheese complement the rice but also don’t overpower it.  You don’t feel like you had a sour cream and cheese casserole with rice, if you know what I mean.  While this is a hearty dish, it doesn’t feel ‘wintry.’  In fact it was perfect for a spring night on the porch.

Wild Rice Casserole (from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook)

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice and/or brown rice (I used a combination and I really liked the different textures)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped  fresh thyme


Preheat oven to 350 with oven rack in top third of oven.  Rub a medium to large casserole/baking dish with butter or olive oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, mustard and ½ teaspoon salt.

In a large skillet over high heat, combine the olive oil and a couple pinches of salt.  Stir in the mushrooms.  Stir them once to coat with olive oil, then let them cook until liquid is released and evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Continue to cook and stir every few minutes, until mushrooms are browned.  Add the onion and cook until translucent and tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.  Remove from heat.  Add cooked rice to the skillet and mix.


Add the rice mixture to the cottage cheese mixture and stir until well combined.  Put entire mixture into your casserole dish.  Cover with 2/3 of the cheese and cover with aluminum foil.


Bake for 30 minutes, then remove tin foil.  Cook for another 20-30 minutes until cheese looks brown but not burned. Top casserole with remaining cheese and thyme.  Serve warm.

Enjoy!  What’s your favorite Heidi Swanson recipe?


Birthday Celebrations

Posted in baking, cooking, recipe, travel on April 1st, 2011 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

The day before the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, I celebrated my (yikes!) 29th birthday.  As I spent the day feeling special, and well loved, we had no idea that in less than 24 hours, natural disaster would occur.  It’s a bit eerie to reflect on my birthday and how wonderful it was and how unaware we were, but I’m thankful we didn’t yet know what was to come.

bday cake2

The morning started in the best way possible, with gluten-free chocolate chip pancakes.  The commissary on base sells Bob’s Red Mill pancake mix so Alden stocked up.  Chip didn’t want any of this nonsense of sugar at breakfast, but Rob, Alden and I enjoyed the yummy pancakes.  At home we use Pamela’s for pancakes, but Bob’s worked really well too.  They were a little thick but Pamela’s can be that way too.  (I prefer my pancakes to be thick and cake like as opposed to thin and crispy.)

Birthday morning hug from Chip

Birthday morning hug from Chip

Rob took Chip to the zoo on my big day so Alden and I had a lovely morning out, shopping at Homes in Yokosuku.  We bought bento boxes, chopsticks, nautical striped shirts (just make sure to buy two sizes bigger) and pencil cases.  Pete accompanied us and did very well on his first shopping spree.  We swung by the naval base on the way home to buy wine, People magazine, M&Ms, and other necessities.

For my birthday dinner, Alden made the most delicious chicken tikka masala.  I’ve mentioned before that chicken tikka masala is one of my favorite meals, but I’ve never made the dish from scratch.  Alden used the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated and even put her fish grill to work for cooking the chicken.  Tikka is actually the perfect Japan dinner because it doesn’t require an oven.

bday tikka2

Alden did all of the work and served us a delicious, yummy dinner.  Perfect.  The only thing that made the evening better was dessert!  Alden’s friend Lauren, who lives on base (translation: has an oven) made me a gluten-free birthday cheesecake.  I had only met Lauren once before but she spent an entire morning making me a cake.  Her kindness meant so much to me and the cake was such an unexpected treat.  Needless to say the cheesecake was divine.  Lauren used pecans in the crust which really added a nice texture and distracted from the often dense, gluten-free baking mix.  She used Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for the filling.  (I’m going to get the actual recipe for the crust and filling from Lauren and will report back to you.)  We enjoyed our cheesecake while watching Top Chef. Perfect!

Pete & my birthday cake

Pete & my birthday cake

And, as if all of the festivities weren’t enough, Rob and Alden gave me a wonderful birthday gift.  My very own ramen bowls, chopsticks, and chopstick holders.  It’s fitting that the bowls are decorated with rabbits as 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, marking my historic trip to Japan and the birth of my nephew Peter “Rabbit.”  (Get it?)

bday bowl

Thank you, Alden, Rob, Lauren, Pete and Chip for a wonderful birthday and a great trip to Japan.  I wouldn’t take it back for anything.  Seriously.

PS: After the earthquake, tsunami warning and evacuation, Alden and I decided we should be eating cheesecake at every meal.  So true.

Birthday Chicken Tikka Masala (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)


Chicken Tikka:

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1 serrano chile (ribs & seeds removed), fresh minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 20 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

For the chicken, combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl.  Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing so it sticks to the chicken.  Put chicken on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes.  I a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic and ginger.

For the sauce, heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until simmering.  Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add ginger, garlic, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala.  Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cream and return to simmer.  Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from oven’s source of heat) and heat broiler.  (Note: for those in Japan, cook chicken in fish grill.)  Using tongs, dip chicken in yogurt mixture, coating chicken in a thick layer of yogurt, and put on wire rack of oven in a foil rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan.  Broil chicken between 10 and 18 minutes, when the thickets parts are 160 degrees.  Flip chicken halfway through cooking.

Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce.  (Do not simmer chicken in sauce.)  Stir in cilantro, taste, add needed salt, and serve.

A great recipe that is naturally gluten-free, tested by Cook’s Illustrated’s test kitchen, and delicious.  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Girl Scout Cookies?

Posted in baking, product, recipe on February 28th, 2011 by Betsy – 6 Comments

Last weekend, our neighborhood girl scout stopped by to bring David his Tagalongs.  As he dove right in to the box of chocolate peanut butter goodness, I was reminded of years of Samoas, Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Trefoils.

samoa Recently, I haven’t had much time in the kitchen, but my friend Wendy sent me this article, which has me inspired: Make Your Own Gluten-Free Girl Scout Cookies


Sounds awesome, right?  They have gluten-free recipes for Thin Mints and the equivalent of Do-Si-Dos.  (Do you remember those?)  Yum!  I was disappointed that they didn’t have a recipe for Samoas so I did some sleuthing on my own and found this recipe for gluten-free samoas, on Gluten-Free Betsy.  (Great name!)

thin mints 2

It’s not the same as ripping into the brightly colored box, I’ll admit, but it’s not too bad.  Have you tried making your own version of Girl Scout Cookies?  What’s your childhood favorite?

“Let Them Eat Cake”

Posted in baking, GF product on January 25th, 2011 by Betsy – 8 Comments

Do you know Marie Antoinette never actually said that?  (History nerd fact.)

Marie Antoinnette didn't really say those famous words.

Marie Antoinnette didn't really say those famous words.

I’m not a natural born baker.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake, especially when I have the time, but made from scratch cakes aren’t always at the top of my to-do list.

Thankfully more and more companies are making gluten-free baking mixes.  If you, walk down the baking aisle at Whole Foods, search on Amazon, or google ‘gluten-free baking mixes,’ the choices can even be a little overwhelming.  These mixes can also be costly so you don’t want to spend lots of money on ‘not so edible’ cake mixes.  It’s hard to know which one to go with when they’re all staring at you from the shelf.

A couple of months ago, I had a bunch of girls over to celebrate a fellow gluten-free friend’s birthday.  Of course, gluten-free cake is a must for a birthday celebration!  I decided to bake two cakes, using two different brands because, well, why not?

pamelas mix

My first cake was Pamela’s Classic Vanilla Cake Mix.  Pamela’s brand is a family favorite, especially when making chocolate chip cookies, Sunday morning pancakes, or communion bread (yes, that’s right, communion bread).

When I lived on a high school dorm, I often made Pamela’s cakes for dorm parties and advisory birthdays.  Pamela’s is one of the pioneers of GF baking mixes.  I enjoy her cakes, but they can be a little on the dry side…my solution for this, lots of icing!  Pamela’s also makes an icing that you make, adding butter, but I find it too much effort for not that great of icing.  (I would rather make homemade or use Betty Crocker’s, which are now labeled gluten-free.) pamelas cake undec

Pamela’s is easy to make and not many additional ingredients.  It bakes correctly if you follow the instructions, but no matter how much I try to flatten out the batter in the cake tin, it still tends to come out unevenly high in the center, which sometimes affects baking time and baking consistency.  After a few days sitting on the counter, the cake becomes a little dry.  (Solution: heat in the microwave for about 7 seconds, not too long or the cake will melt.)

Pamela's cake with chocolate frosting: Don't judge the cake by its decorator.

Pamela's cake with chocolate frosting: Don't judge the cake by its decorator.

I won’t turn down a slice of Pamela’s cake, but I think I’ve found something better and simpler… betty crocker box

The second cake for the festivities came from the mother of ‘glutenful’ baking, Betty Crocker.  Betty’s gluten-free line of baked goods, which hit shelves last year, offers a-mazing brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  I love the brownies but the jury is still out on Crocker’s cookies.  (I go with Pamela’s if I’m making GF cookies from a mix.)

betty cake undec 2

So I tried the expert and went with Betty Crocker’s gluten-free Devil’s Food cake mix.  This cake was so easy to make and cooked perfectly.  With both Pamela’s and Betty’s cake mixes you need to use a mixer, but it’s worth it.  The cake was perfectly moist and flavorful.  Very chocolatey but not too sweet.  I normally prefer yellow cake over chocolate, but this devil’s food cake is my new cake of choice.  It was delicious.  Of course we all had some of both, but my heart was with the chocolate.  (It looked prettier too.)

Betty Crocker Cake: M&Ms make everything look better.

Betty Crocker Cake: M&Ms make everything look better.

As I mentioned before, I just used Betty Crocker icings for the two cakes.  So easy.  Making your own icing is fun too, but it means two more times cleaning the mixer.  (Why do I hate washing that dish so much?)

Two pieces are better than one!

Two pieces are better than one!

What are your favorite gluten-free baking mixes?  Recommendations or hesitations?

Gluten-Free Week at the kitchn

Posted in baking, cooking, reading on January 19th, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

It’s ‘Gluten Free Week’ at  This website, full of great recipes is focusing this week on all gluten-free recipes and food conversations.  Click here to learn more.


One of my favorite posts from the week is “Cocoa to Cornstarch: Are these 10 ingredients gluten-free?”

I always want to applaud a mainstream foodie website or magazine for giving attention to gluten-free eaters.

It’s always “Gluten-Free Week” at Gluten Freedom!

What? It’s almost Christmas?!

Posted in baking, event on December 10th, 2010 by Betsy – 2 Comments

I feel like I was just writing about Thanksgiving.  (Well, I guess I was.)  But now we’re well into the Christmas season and I’m feeling a little behind in all of my preparations and Christmas spirit.  I did get my Christmas cards in the mail and the holiday shopping is a work in progress, but I feel like I’m going in a lot of different directions right now, not able to fully take in all the fun of the season.  Since I’m leaving for Japan on Wednesday, I didn’t get a Christmas tree this year, so I’m giving you a shot of last year’s tree.

Last Year's Tree: I miss my ornaments

Last Year's Tree: I miss my ornaments

With three holiday parties this weekend (rough life, I know) and my students gearing up for exam week, sadly there hasn’t been much time for holiday baking either.

cookies all

I thought I would give you a sample of recipes from past years that might inspire you to do some baking of your own.  Maybe I’ll get inspired too!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies white cran

Cinnamon Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies cin gin 2

Monster Cookies

cookies monster

Teff & Amaranth Apple Muffins with Brown Sugar

cookies apple muffins I hope you’re doing more baking than I am.  What are you making?

Happy Holidays!

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Posted in baking, cooking, recipe on December 2nd, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment

I’ve been in a food coma for the last week… stuffing turkey

We had a very successful and fun Thanksgiving with all of the Metcalves, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about the food yet.  David and I are still going through the leftovers, but we’re almost to the end of the feast remains.  (Stay tuned to learn what I did with the leftover turkey once I got to the point where I could no longer look at another turkey sandwich.)

Here are a few pics from the meal…

Brussels sprouts with pancetta

Brussels sprouts with pancetta

Manchego & Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Manchego & Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Simple Green Beans

Simple Green Beans

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

And of course, Tom the Turkey

And of course, Tom the Turkey

I think the family would agree that it was yummy.

I’m particularly proud of my first experiment making stuffing.  Sally’s gluten-free sandwich bread worked perfectly, and I added some Whole Foods Gluten-Free Bake House stuffing cubes to ensure that I made enough food.  In retrospect one loaf of Sally’s is plenty for a family of eight.

stuffing dish

I followed the basic stuffing recipe from the November issue of Real Simple.  In the article, they include ten variations on stuffing, but since we already had a lot of action at the dinner table (i.e. Brussels sprouts with pancetta and turkey wrapped in a bacon lattice), I decided to keep it simple.  I think it worked well.

Gluten-Free Stuffing (adapted from Real Simple Magazine)


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large loaf gluten-free sandwich bread, cut into ¾ inch pieces (I wouldn’t go with the frozen, store bought bread.  I’d either use homemade or a loaf purchased from a GF bakery)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • S & P

Heat oven to 375/  Butter a baking or casserole dish.  Divide the bread between two baking sheets.  Bake until dry and browning a little, 10-12 minutes.

stuffing bread cubes

stuffing bread cubes 2

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pan over medium heat.  Add onions, celery, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender and beginning to brown, about 10-12 minutes.  Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 2 to 4 more minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

stuffing veggies

Add bread, broth, eggs, and ½ teaspoon of salt to the veggies.  Toss to combine.  Transfer to greased baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake until browned, 20-30 minutes more.

stuffing dish

I made the stuffing on Thanksgiving morning and reheated before serving for dinner.  Before reheating, we added the vegetables that the turkey cooked in, and its pan juices, as a top layer for the stuffing.  Amazing.

stuffing w veggies

The stuffing was delicious and a great addition to the feast.  And it was a perfect addition to turkey sandwiches the next day.  When reheating the stuffing, I would add a little more chicken broth, so that it wouldn’t dry out.  I was very impressed by how well the gluten-free bread held up and was easily used in this typically gluten-filled recipe.