Ham, Brie & Peach Panini

So...we will be leaving upstate NY in about 5 weeks.

Sad day.

I lied. Not really - I'm not sure that I would ever want to move back here...

No offense to the Navy, but they couldn't have picked a more obscure place to have a training facility. Okay, okay, perhaps I'm exaggerating. But only a little.

Seriously though. We're nowhere near the ocean. There are no beaches - and, I'm sorry, Lake George does not count. Half the local population doesn't even know that the Navy is here. The other half doesn't fully understand why. So at least I'm not alone.

There are a few things that I will miss about this place:

  1. Saratoga has some pretty awesome (gluten-free friendly) restaurants
  2. Our farmer's market is pretty fantastic - and I will definitely miss our CSA
  3. My very best friends, and the place I grew up, are only a couple short hours drive heading southeast
  4. The friends we've made here
  5. Being so close to NYC...and Boston...and Philly
  6. You can take the girl out of New England, but you can't take New England out of the girl - I will completely and totally miss the Autumn foliage

There's also a pretty substantial list of things I will not miss. But I'll keep those to myself for now...

From here we move back to the great state of Washington...but not before getting through a 6-month deployment and a temporary stint with my parents on the Gulf coast of Florida. So fairly soon I will be broadcasting to you live from the sunny beaches of Southwest Florida. Amen.

This delectable looking sandwich is a tribute farewell to the Empire State and all the local deliciousness I am giving up by moving away. The recipe is a replica of my favorite sandwich at my favorite restaurant here in upstate NY. I order it pretty much every time I go to eat there - and it is delicious every single time.

This home prepared panini is every bit as delicious as the original version - but I tweaked it a little bit. They serve theirs with the addition of bacon. I always order it without, so this recipe doesn't include bacon - but feel free to add it if you so choose. I imagine it adds a bit of texture and saltiness/smokiness. I have also made a version of this with raspberry peach preserves (I couldn't find apricot jam at the time) and it turned out GREAT! So experiment with different jams, you might be surprised!

Ham, Brie & Peach Panini

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5-6 minutes
Yield: 2 sandwiches
  • 4 slices Gluten-free Bread (use store-bought or homemade, whatever is your favorite and will hold up well to grilling)
  • 2 Tbsp Butter or Margarine
  • 1/4 cup Apricot or Peach Preserves (Raspberry Jam also works really nicely)
  • 1/2 ripe Peach, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz. Brie cheese, paper removed and thinly sliced
  • 3 oz. lean deli Ham, thinly sliced

  1. Pre-heat your grill pan or panini press. I use a cast iron griddle pan pre-heated over Medium heat.
  2. Slather one side of each slice of bread with 1 to 1 1/2 tsp butter or margarine. Slather opposite sides of bread slices with 1 Tbsp of preserves each.
  3. Place two slices of bread, buttered side down, on your grill pan or press. Begin layering ingredients on top of the preserves, splitting the ingredients evenly between the two slices of bread. Begin with the peaches, then the ham slices, then add the brie slices.
  4. Place the remaining two slices of bread atop each sandwich and press down with either a grill press, the top portion of your panini press, or another heavy object (like another cast iron skillet or pan). I do not have a grill press, so I use another cast iron pan, but I layer a piece of wax paper between the top of the sandwich and the pan to avoid a disastrous mess, I recommend you do the same if this is your only option.
  5. If using a griddle, grill sandwiches for 2-3 minutes, until nicely golden brown. Flip sandwiches over and repeat on other side. Wait 2-3 minutes until opposing side is also golden brown and cheese has melted. If using a panini press, griddle sandwiches for a total of 5-6 minutes, being careful not to burn. The preserves and/or cheese will likely leak out the sides of the sandwich and cause some sizzling. This is to be expected - it may even coat the bread, giving it a nice sweet crunch!
  6. Remove grilled sandwiches and slice in half. Serve while still warm with your favorite green salad or, in my case, the rest of the peaches!

Happy gluten-free cooking!


Oat, Nut & Flax Granola

Allow me to vent for a moment.

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, I hate more (right now) than browsing the internet for gluten-free recipes and ending up with Paleo diet recipes on my search feed.

I'm sorry. I'm just not a fan. If there's anything I learned from my Nutrition classes - and I learned A LOT, mind you - it's that any diet, and I mean ANY diet, that cuts out entire food groups is bound to lead to T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

End of rant.

Thank you.

Trying to eat grains while on a gluten-free diet can be challenging. But that doesn't mean you should cut out grains altogether just to seemingly make life easier. When you cut out whole grains, you're also cutting out fiber and essential vitamins and minerals than can be difficult to get from other foods. Be smart and safe about where your gluten-free grains are coming from and make sure they're certified if you suffer from a severe allergy or Celiac's.

I have neither, my gluten intolerance is not severe, so I don't spend the extra money on gluten-free oats. This, however, is a personal choice. But I promise you that making your own gluten-free granola is going to be far cheaper than buying it! Pinky swear.

This recipe is an oldy but goody. I've been using it for years. My mother makes her own granola now too after trying mine during a visit a few years back. It's so easy, and so affordable. What could possibly be better?

This is also one of those recipes that you can totally personalize. Double it, change the nuts, use a different spice, use a different kind of juice (cranberry juice works really well), or use a different type of oil or extract. You can even add dried fruit, coconut, chocolate bits, or whatever you like. Make it work for you and your family. Enjoy served with fruit and yogurt or alone with milk!

Oat, Nut & Flax Granola

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 3 1/2 cups (about 10 1/3-cup servings)
  • 3 cups gluten-free Old-fashioned Oats
  • 1/3 cup ground Flax Seed Meal
  • 1/4 cup slivered or sliced Almonds
  • 1/4 chopped Pecans
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup Apple Juice
  • 1/3 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 tsp Almond Extract
  • Additional ingredients - Dried Fruit, Coconut, Chocolate Chips, etc - as desired
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine first 5 ingredients (through cinnamon). Stir to combine.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine apple juice, honey, and brown sugar. Stir/whisk constantly over medium heat until brown sugar and honey have dissolved. Do not boil!
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in coconut oil and almond extract.
  5. Add liquid mixture to oat mixture and stir well to combine.
  6. Line a jelly-roll pan or rimmed cookie sheet with a Sil-pat or parchment, or spray with cooking spray. Empty contents of bowl onto baking sheet and spread out into an even layer.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
  9. Add any additional ingredients you might like: raisins, dried cranberries, dates, other chopped dried fruits, coconut, chocolate chips, etc. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Happy gluten-free baking!


Lemon & Roasted Garlic Hummus

Hummus in our house lasts about as long as peanut butter does...

About a week or so.

My husband slathers it on everything from bagels to toast to crackers to tortilla chips. I have it mostly with vegetables as an afternoon snack.

The first time I tried it, back in college, I thought it was fairly disgusting. My best friend liked to eat it and, as roommates, naturally we politely forced one another to try new foods. I decided hummus was not my cup of tea.

Then I met my husband. And he loved it too. But he loves pretty much anything that's packed with protein and can be put on toast. I decided, after a couple of years, that I would give hummus another chance.


I have no idea what changed, but I was hooked. Although, I did acquire a taste for some other random foods that I had previously hated during that same time, including coffee and beer. Good beer. Can't drink that anymore...

When I realized, some time later, how incredibly easy it is to make hummus, I was thrilled. I tinkered with some recipes I found online until I found just the right combination of tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. This recipe is such a staple in our house that I included it in the family cookbook we gave out as favors at our wedding.

A friend recently asked how easy it is to make hummus after I mused over making it to my husband in his presence. My reply, "Throw everything in a food processor and hit 'go' kind-of-easy!" 

This recipe really is super simple. The most complicated part is roasting the garlic. I tried some recipes that called for raw garlic and it just didn't work. This recipe can also be used as a great foundation - play with it! Figure out what you like and don't like. This has a bit more lemon juice than you might personally care for, so change it! Or maybe you want more tahini - go ahead. I don't mind. I truly believe in taking a recipe and making it your own. I hope you enjoy this hummus recipe as much as we do.

Lemon & Roasted Garlic Hummus

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes (garlic)
Yield: 2 cups
  • 2 15-oz cans Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans), drained (liquid reserved and set aside) and rinsed
  • 2 Lemons, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp Tahini
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 cup good Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus additional for roasting garlic and drizzling
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 Tbsp Pine Nuts, as garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place garlic cloves, unpeeled, on a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Wrap up foil into a nicely sealed packed or pouch. Roast in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
  3. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, combine chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, and roasted garlic. Process until smooth - stop to scrape down sides of bowl.
  4. Turn processor back on, slowly add olive oil in a steady stream while processor continues to run. Stop to scrape down sides of bowl and taste test.
  5. If mixture is not smooth enough, add reserved bean juice, 1 Tbsp at a time while processor is running, until mixture comes together and is nice and smooth (or it reaches your desired consistency). 
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste; pulse 6-8 times to combine.
  7. Transfer hummus to a serving dish. Drizzle lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle with pine nuts.
  8. Serve with your favorite gluten-free crackers, toasted pita bread, vegetables, or anything else your heart desires! Will keep for up to two weeks in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Happy gluten-free cooking!


Butternut Squash Beef Stew (Slow Cooker)

This is not your mom's beef stew. Or your grandmom's beef stew.

In fact, up until I tried this recipe a few years ago, I made beef stew exactly the way my mother did. It was all I'd ever known. I think we all probably do that...

You know...the standard beef, carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes...

Then I tried this recipe on a whim. Holy delicious! Who would have ever thought to put sun-dried tomatoes and butternut squash in beef stew??

This is actually a Giada De Laurentiis recipe, courtesy of the Food Network. However, her version is not gluten-free. And it is not done in the slow cooker, it's done on the stove-top in a dutch oven. If you prefer that method, you could certainly take a look at the original recipe!

For convenience, I turned this into a slow cooker recipe. Because if I can let that beautiful appliance do all the work for me, I would certainly rather.

However, keep in mind that this recipe calls for the squash and tomatoes to be added halfway into the cooking time (about 4 hours or so). If you are not going to be around to add those ingredients, you can certainly add it at the beginning. Just be prepared for the squash to be on the mushy side.

There's something about beef stew, simmering away all day, that warms the heart and tickles the senses. I adore the smell of this while it's cooking. My husband came home from work and declared, "Honey, the house smells REALLY good!" I'll take that as a compliment...

Serve this stew over rice or mashed potatoes if you wish. I serve it with chunks of warm, homemade, multi-grain gluten-free bread and a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley. If you don't have Marsala, you could certainly use Sherry - though I don't know that I would recommend any other kind of wine. You could also use fresh herbs instead of dried (just use 1 Tbsp of each, instead of 1 tsp). This recipe also doubles nicely to serve a crowd or to have plenty of leftovers.

Butternut Squash Beef Stew (Slow Cooker)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 hours
Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs Stew Beef or Bottom Round Roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Gluten-free Flour or Cornstarch
  • 1 large Onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp dried Rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried Thyme
  • 1 cup Marsala Wine
  • 26 oz Beef Stock
  • 1 lb Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes, julienned
  • Chopped fresh Parsley, for serving
  1. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. In a large zip-top bag, combine flour, salt, pepper and beef chunks. Shake to coat. Place half of beef in hot oil and sear on all sides until browned, a couple minutes per side. Drain or shake off excess oil and place in basin of slow-cooker; repeat with remaining beef chunks.
  2. Use 1/4 cup of the beef stock or wine to deglaze the skillet. Simply add the liquid to the pan after you have removed the meat and it is still hot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits then pour the liquid into the slow-cooker basin with the meat. Don't allow the liquid to cook down at all - you're just quickly deglazing the pan because you want all that flavor!
  3. Place diced onion, minced garlic, thyme, and rosemary in the slow-cooker basin with the meat. Pour in remaining beef stock and Marsala wine. Cover and set slow-cooker to low-heat for 8 -10 hours.
  4. After 4-5 hours of cooking, add cubed butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes to the mixture. Stir well to combine and replace the cover. You can add it all at the beginning, but the squash will become mushy and break down if it cooks for too long.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste just before serving. Ladle into individual bowls and sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley. Serve with your favorite crusty gluten-free bread or rolls!
*Adapted from Food Network*

Happy gluten-free cooking!