Posts Tagged gluten-free

Homemade Lentil Soup

7 November 2011

Lentil Soup

I was given a ham bone at church yesterday (don’t ask), which gave me a perfect excuse to make one of my favorite quick, easy and nutritious meals: lentil soup. Lentils, unlike most legumes and beans, do not require overnight soaking.

Dry Brown Lentils


1 lb bag dried lentils

1 cup (approx.) chopped onion

1 cup (approx.) chopped celery

1 cup (approx.) chopped carrots

2 garlic cloves, whole, crushed

6-8 cups of hot water

3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth

dash of apple cider or distilled vinegar

Seasonings to taste (sea salt, freshly ground pepper, seasoning salt, fresh parsley)

Cubed ham or ham hock, optional

Vinegar for serving, optional


Before cooking, pour lentils out on a clean counter and quickly sort through them for any little rocks, then rinse well. In a large pot, mix lentils with hot water over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Add ham, if using. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes, with lid tilted. Turn down heat to low and simmer until desired consistency is reached. Add seasonings to taste.

Smells so GOOD!!

During the cooking process, lentils will absorb the liquid. Add water or broth for more or less “soupiness.” Serve hot, with or without a dash of vinegar.

Nat’s Notes:

Lentils are a nutritional All-Star:

  • One-fourth cup of lentils contains a whopping 11 grams of fiber – 43% of your daily value — and no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, 320mg of potassium and 20% of your daily value of iron.
  • Lentils also contain high levels of protein, high levels of minerals, and are very low in calories.
  • Lentils are an excellent source of iron, especially for celiacs.

A Hole-In-One Sunday Dinner

23 October 2011
Quick & Easy Sunday Meal


Honey-Mustard Chicken

Oven-Fried Potatoes

Sauteed Green Beans


Honey-Mustard Chicken

(Recipe from Easy Everyday Cooking)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4


1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1/3 cup honey

2 TBS chopped fresh dill or 1 TBS dried dill

1 tsp freshly grated orange peel

1 (2 1/2-lb) chicken, quartered

Honey-Mustard Chicken

Make Ahead: Make the honey-mustard sauce ahead of time as directed in step 1. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine mustard and honey in a small bowl. Stir in dill and orange peel.

2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place chicken, skin-side down, on prepared pan. Brush sauce on top of chicken; coat well.

3. Turn chicken over. Gently pull back skin and brush meat with sauce. Gently pull skin back over sauce.

4. Brush skin with remaining sauce. Bake until juices run clear when thickest portion of meat is pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes.

Notes: Make measuring honey easier by spraying the measuring cup with vegetable cooking spray. The honey will not stick to the cup.

Oven-Fried Potatoes

(Recipe from Southern Living Cookbook)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4-6


3 medium russet potatoes

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 TBS grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp pepper

Make Ahead: Cut up the potatoes ahead of time as in step 1 below. Place them in a large bowl and cover them with water. Refrigerate until needed, but no more than a few hours.


1. Wash potatoes well, and cut each into 1/8 wedges. Place wedges, slightly overlapping, in a single layer in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients. Brush potatoes, with half of oil mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, basting occasionally with remaining oil mixture.


  • When cooking chicken and potatoes in the same oven, cook both at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove chicken when juices run clear and keep monitoring potatoes until golden brown.
  • You may need more oil mixture than the recipe calls for.

Sauteed Green Beans

(Consider steamed green beans for a lower-fat alternative)

1 10-0z bag frozen green beans or fresh green beans, prepared by snapping off both ends

1 1/2 TBS butter

In saucepan over medium heat sautee green beans until tender, stirring occasionally.

Salade Niçoise

8 September 2011

Salade Nicoise

The Salade Niçoise [nee-SWAHZ] originated in Nice, a Mediterranean city in Southern France. So it’s probably no surprise that it’s infused with subtle reminders of Provence and the sea. There are dozens of ways to make this salad, so the information below should be used more as a guideline than as a recipe. Adapt the ingredients in creative ways according to your personal taste — but do at least try the anchovies! Serves two.


1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 TBS minced shallot

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 TBS fresh parsley, minced

2 cups mixed young greens (or any salad leaves, liked Boston lettuce), washed and hand-torn into large pieces

2 small waxy potatoes (such as Yukon gold), boiled, peeled, cut into wedges

1 hard-boiled egg, cut into wedges

1 cup cooked green beans (can be from a can, in a pinch)

1 large tomato, cut into wedges

1 can (8 oz) oil-packed tuna, drained

6 oil-cured olives (preferably niçoise, but Kalamata would work)

6 anchovy fillets



In a small bowl, make vinaigrette by combining vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper and whisking together while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Toss the potatoes in the vinaigrette until coated. Arrange a bed of lettuce in a couple of shallow bowls or on a platter. Divide up the ingredients and add potatoes, egg, green beans, tomato wedges to the bed of lettuce. Top with tuna, olives, and anchovies. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette on top of salad and pass around the rest. Voila! Bon appétit!

Bubble & Squeak Recipe

18 April 2011

Bubble & Squeak

Wait ’til you see the looks on your family’s face when you tell them you are making “Bubble & Squeak” for dinner!

This British classic is typically served for Monday lunch or dinner using leftovers from Sunday’s roast. Leave it to the Brits to come up with this ingeniously thrifty concept and a clever name to go with it. In the States, we would probably just call this “hash.”


4 TBS butter

1/4-1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 cups potatoes, mashed or roasted 

Leftover cooked vegetables (cabbage, carrots, peas, kale, etc)

Fried bacon pieces (optional)


Melt butter in a large frying pan. Over medium low heat, fry uncooked veggies like carrots, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add onions and fry until softened, another 2-3 minutes. Turn heat to medium or slightly higher and add mashed potatoes and other cooked vegetables, and bacon if using.

Fry about 7-10 minutes, flipping/stirring two to three times to keep the mixture pleasantly browning but not burning. Press potato mixture to the bottom of the pan with a spatula, let cook one minute or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Nat’s Notes:

* There’s no “perfect” recipe for this dish, which makes it ideal for improvisation. The one essential ingredient is mashed potatoes, as the “glue” that holds everything together.

* “Bubble & Squeak” comes from the sound that the dish makes as it cooks.

* If using raw vegetables, cook them first and make sure they are soft before adding other ingredients.

* Consider making these into small patties instead of frying everything together.

* This dish is often served with a side of fried egg, bacon, or meat leftovers.

Williams Sonoma Cobb Salad

30 March 2011

The Cobb Salad was invented by the LA-based Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in the 1930s and named for the restaurant’s owner, Robert Howard Cobb. This version is modified from one I found in the Williams Sonoma Collection.


¾ bag of romaine lettuce torn into bite-sized pieces

1 large tomato, chopped

6 slices crisp bacon, crumbled

Boiled or roasted chicken (2 chicken breasts), chopped

3 peeled hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 avocado, cubed

Chives (decoration)

¼ lb (125 g) of blue cheese + 1 oz for dressing, crumbled

Chopped walnuts

Cilantro, washed and roughly chopped



¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed and then minced

Salt and ground pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil



Make a bed of romaine lettuce in a large platter or shallow bowl. Arrange in strips the ingredients (order doesn’t really matter): chicken, egg, bacon, cheese, tomato, cilantro, avocado, walnuts, and chives for garnish.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together in a small bowl the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic, ¼ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper. Using a fork, mash in the remaining 1 oz cheese to make a paste. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to form a thick dressing. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid if not serving immediately.

Lentils and Love

22 March 2011

I wish I could attach a “scratch-n-sniff” plug-in so you could get a whiff of the heavenly aroma wafting through our kitchen right now.

Mom and I are making lentil soup. Athough this may not sound very exciting, we are cooking up memories to last a lifetime. The windows are open for the first time this season, letting in the fresh spring breeze, birds are chirping cheerfully, our Korean neighbor is kneeling over her vegetable garden, and I’m enjoying learning from my mother how to fix this simple and delicious dish.

As the lentils simmer on the stove, I’ve been thumbing through the 456-page tome on French cooking that I received yesterday and came across this beautiful quotation by Chef Henri Faugeron:

“If the science of nutrition is an act of the mind, the art of nourishing one’s neighbor is above all an act of love.”

An example is given of a prominent French chef of the early 1900s whose friend, author Marcel Proust, often came to dine. The chef would fix grand meals for the writer in exchange for one of his fabulous stories. And once, when Proust was out of sorts and had no appetite, the chef made it his mission to entice him by making a special omelet stuffed with fresh, minced truffles cooked in cream sauce. It worked: Proust devoured the meal and was full of gratitude towards his friend.

What a wonderful concept! Food as a way of sharing love with a friend, a neighbor, a loved one. Those of us who love cooking sharing with those who do not or have not. Those who love eating filling our hearts with contentment as we watch them taking pleasure in the food we’ve prepared.

How blessed we are. Every day we have the opportunity to share this little act of love with one another.

Lord, help me cherish today. Help me to be thankful for a nose that can smell, a palate that can taste, ears that can hear, eyes that can see, and a mind and hands that can work together to make something nutritious to eat and to share.

(Click here to see our French lentil recipe)

Swiss Fondue — Fondue Savoyarde

8 November 2010

Fondue is the ultimate cold weather meal in my book. It was supposedly invented by Swiss shepherds who would cook the cheese over rocks in the Alps. Fondue means “melted” in French. This recipe goes back to my childhood and is especially close to my heart because it comes from a cookbook compiled by patrons of the American Hospital of Paris, where I was born.

One fun fact about fondue is that each fondue-loving family has a series of “punishments” for those unfortunate diners who drop their bread into the dish. Punishments might include having to hop around the table on one leg or kissing the person to your left. It’s best to get the ground rules straight before you start. 🙂  

Fondue Savoyarde


1 clove garlic

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

1 1/4 lbs best Swiss cheese (like Gruyere), cut in small cubes

2 TBS cornstarch

2 TBS kirsch (optional)

freshly ground pepper

sprinkle of nutmeg

French bread, cubed (crustier the better)


Love it, love it!

Rub chaffing dish with garlic. Add wine and heat to boiling point on stovetop, but do not boil. Add cheese, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. When cheese is melted and creamy, add cornstarch blended with kirsch. Stir until bubbly and add pepper and nutmeg to taste. Place pot over burner with low flame (burner comes with fondue pot) to keep fondue hot but not at simmering point. Add wine if necessary to dilute.

If fondue should start to separate, place pot back on stove and add a few drops of lemon juice. Over high heat, bring the fondue back to a boil, stirring vigorously. Serves about 8 people.

Note: Provide a gluten-free option for your guests by serving broccoli and cauliflower pieces alongside the bread cubes. Don’t forget to let the gluten-intolerant guests go first or provide them with a separate fondue pot.

Award-Winning Chili

25 October 2010

Cooler weather turns my thoughts to colorful sweaters, pumpkin-spice candles, fall foliage and above all … cold weather food. Chili is the king of cold weather foods. But this isn’t just chili — it’s award-winning chili!*  I think the secret is that it’s a very simple, very basic, not-too-spicy recipe that can be adapted to suit any palate. Think of it as the culinary equivalent of the “little black dress” and the toppings are its accessories. My own favorite toppings are shredded cheddar, Fritos Scoops, and lots of red wine vinegar.    

Chili Ingredients

Basic Ingredients



1 TBS olive oil   

Small onion, minced   

½ green bell pepper, minced   

1lb ground hamburger meat   

Seasoning salt   

Garlic salt   


1 ½ – 2 TBS chili powder   

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce   

1 can (15 oz) whole tomatoes, roughly chopped   

1 can (16 oz) chili beans, with sauce   

1 can (15 oz) dark red kidney bean, drained   

Chili in Crockpot


½ can of water   

1 ½ – 2 TBS red wine vinegar   

A couple dashes of sugar   



1. Sauté onions and pepper in oil for about 5 minutes until onions become translucent. Transfer to crockpot.   

2. Without adding more oil, crumble hamburger meat into skillet and stir frequently for about 5 minutes.   

3. While meat is browning, add seasoning salt, garlic salt and pepper to taste, then chili powder. Drain and transfer to crockpot, stirring in with onion mixture.   

4. Add to crockpot tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, chili beans, kidney beans, vinegar and sugar. Mix well and turn on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4.   

Suggested toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, chives, sour cream, crackers, Fritos    


Perfect for a "Chili" Day!



  1. Use 93% lean meat – less grease

Shred whole tomatoes with clean hands instead of chopping them with a knife

I like to use Bush’s brand chili beans in a mild sauce

Consider serving over rice — yum!

Check label of chili beans to ensure that they are gluten-free; when in doubt go with Bush’s

Great for freezing and reheating

*It’s won first place twice in chili cook-offs!

Puree of Carrot Soup

18 October 2010

This recipe brings back memories of the pureed vegetable soups we were served so often in French school – simple, colorful, and full of flavor. Now that I’m an adult, I realize an additional value: they’re good for you, too. Pureeing vegetables is a great way to slip them stealthily into your family’s diet. I don’t think my 6-year-old nephew even realized there were veggies in this soup when he gave it a thumbs-up!


INGREDIENTS Carrot Soup Ingredients

1lb fresh carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

1 medium Russet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

½ cup dry white wine

1 qt (32 oz) low-sodium chicken broth

Kosher salt to taste

Ground white pepper (optional)

Dash of sugar

Dash of nutmeg


1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat butter over low-to-medium heat. Add onion, garlic and carrots and cook for 4 minutes or until onion is slightly translucent, stirring often.

2. Add wine and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until wine has reduced to about ¼ cup. Add broth and potato. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are soft enough to be pierced easily by a knife but not mushy.

3. Remove from heat and puree in a blender, working in batches if necessary.

Puree of Carrot SoupCaution: Place a towel over top of blender and secure it with your hand before blending. Without the towel, the hot contents can blow off the top and cause a “soup explosion.” Also, start blending on a low speed for a couple of seconds, then carefully lift lid to let out steam. Put lid back on and resume blending.

4. Return pureed soup to pot and bring to a simmer again.

5. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar (to cut tartness). Add a dash of nutmeg. Serve with croutons if desired.

Penne alla Bolognese (Pasta with Meat Sauce)

12 October 2010

There’s nothing that I’d rather do after a busy week than cook a pot of comfort food. Call it “culinary therapy.” This is my go-to recipe because it’s simple yet classy – and soooooo tasty. Even though there are a ton of shortcuts available these days, this recipe is well worth doing from scratch. Just throw the ingredients in a pan and simmer until done. A bonus: it freezes and reheats well.


1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large can tomato sauce (good quality)

1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp basil

Several shakes of Italian seasoning

2 whole bay leaves

Couple shakes garlic salt

Dash nutmeg

Dash of sugar

½ cup dry red wine

1 small can black olives, sliced

Fresh mushrooms, scrubbed


Brown ground beef with onions and garlic. Drain grease. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste and all remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat for at least an hour but preferably four or five. It just gets better with age.


  • Don’t scrimp on the tomato sauce. Buy quality.
  • Don’t like mushrooms? Don’t like olives? Substitute and adapt as needed.
  • This recipe can also be made in a crockpot.
  • Serve with gluten-free pasta for a delicious gluten-free meal. 
  • Suits any type of pasta.
  • Can substitute ground turkey for beef.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving.


I like to cook this dish to a background of Italian arias: I think it encourages the flavors to mingle and “get to know each other” during the simmering time. Hey, whatever works, right?

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