Banana Bread!

Banana Bread

Once I feel the crispness of Fall in the air, I get in the mood for baking. I used to make quick breads with my Mom growing up: banana, pumpkin, persimmon, and even beer bread! We had such a good times together in the kitchen. With such fond memories fueling my desire to bake, I knew our family was going to need a good gluten-free banana bread recipe. This one started by adapting Karina the Gluten-free Goddess’ Banana Bread recipe. We’ve made it at least ten times and tweaked it along the way. Thanks Karina for getting us started!

My family LOVES this banana bread, and I'm always surprised how fast it disappears. But fresh is best, so enjoy!

Gluten-Free Banana Bread
Makes one 9-inch loaf; serves 10-12

Ingredients:

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)  
2 large organic, free-range eggs, beaten  
¼ cup olive oil or coconut oil (melted)  
¾ cup brown or coconut sugar  
¾ cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (such as Trader Joe’s or Bob’s Red Mill)
½ cup arrowroot, tapioca or corn starch
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal  
2 teaspoons baking powder  
¾ teaspoon guar gum or xantham gum
½ teaspoon GF baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon GF vanilla extract  
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Optional topping:  
1 Tbs flaxseed meal  
1 Tbs Turbinado, raw or brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9-inch non-stick metal loaf pan with oil or butter.

In a mixing bowl, beat the mashed bananas with the eggs, oil and brown sugar until combined. Add the gluten-free flour, arrowroot starch, flaxseed meal, baking powder, guar gum, baking soda, salt, vanilla and cinnamon and gently mix until a smooth, sticky batter forms.

Scoop the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with crunchy topping if desired.

Bake on the center rack for 55-65 minutes, until the center is done. Cool on a wire rack. Slice & serve.  

Bacon, Date & Pistachio Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Crusted Pork Tenderloin The inspiration for this recipe came from my sister-in-law. My mom raved about a dinner Holly made with pork tenderloin, bacon and dates. This percolated for a few days, and then I picked up a beautiful pork tenderloin from the folks at Diamond Mountain Ranch. This amazing piece of meat deserved special treatment, so I came up with this recipe to celebrate it!

4-6 Servings
Time
Active: 10 minutes
Total: 35 minutes

Ingredients

Crust:
2 strips raw bacon
2 Medjool dates, pitted
¼ cup pistachios salt & pepper

1 – 1 ½ pound pork tenderloin

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil or lightly oil/grease a baking dish.

In a food processor, pulse crust ingredients until a chunky paste forms.

Remove fat or silver skin from pork exterior if desired. Place on lined sheet or in baking dish.

Distribute crust evenly across the top of the tenderloin. Then press it down so that it adheres to the tenderloin all across the top and part of the way down the sides.

Place pork in oven. Decrease oven temperature to 350. Roast 20-25 minutes or until the center of the pork registers 135-140, or is just slightly pink at center.

Remove from oven and rest 5 minutes. Slice gently with a sharp knife to preserve crust.

Serve 2-3 slices per person. Enjoy!

DIY Fruit & Streusel Muffins

DIY Fruit & Streusel Muffins

Do you ever stumble upon a recipe that just seems like a perfect fit for you or your family? I hope so because it feels and tastes so good! This Streusel Muffin recipe, inspired by Stacy Toth & Matthew Mccarry of the Real Everything blog and Real Life Paleo cookbook, has relaxed nicely into our home. Stacy & Matt made huge changes in their lives through diet and exercise to turn their family’s health around. Thanks for sharing! I've made this recipe so many times now with little tweaks here and there that it has become a Squier Family recipe. I love that it is practically a meal in a muffin, offering healthy fats, hearty protein and fiber, and just a small amount of unrefined sweetness. I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do!

DIY Fruit & Streusel Muffins

12 Servings
Time
Active: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes

Ingredients

Topping:
1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1 Tbs coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tsp coconut oil

Muffins:
1 cup pitted Medjool dates (or ½ cup pitted Medjool & ½ cup pitted Deglet dates)
1/4 cup coconut oil
4 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs coconut sugar
1 cup almond flour/meal
1/3 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup fruit of choice (see suggestions below)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tin with 12 paper or foil muffin cups.

In a food processor, pulse topping ingredients until crumbly. Move to a bowl and set aside.

Pulse dates in the food processor until a thick paste forms.

Add coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Pulse to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar through sea salt. Stir in wet mixture.

Add fruit; stir gently.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure, spoon batter into muffin cups. Top with a rounded teaspoon of streusel topping.

Bake 22 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. Move muffins to a rack to cool. Keep some in the refrigerator to enjoy in 2-3 days. Pack the rest in the freezer for later.

DIY Fruit Recommendations:
- Strawberries, chopped with their juices (Stacy & Matt’s recommendation)
- Fresh, frozen or dried blueberries
- Apple, chopped with 1 tsp cinnamon
- Fresh raspberries
- No sugar added raisins or dried cherries, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes
- Fresh apricots, chopped

Spice Blend Meets Salsa for Big Flavor

Summer grilling is back...yay!

Grilled Pork Chop with Nectarine Salsa Grilled Pork Chop with Nectarine Salsa

After getting a couple of bone-in center cut pork chops from the sustainable, family-run Diamond Mountain Ranch at the Long Beach Farmer's Market, I was inspired to dress 'em up nicely for dinner. The grill seemed like the perfect place for them.

I threw together a few of my favorite items from the spice drawer to give a bold flavor to the chops. The great thing about this EASY spice blend is that you get big flavor from a small amount of ingredients...and you probably have these items in your kitchen. If not, you are missing out and need to add them!

Smokey Spice Blend
Makes 1/4 cup

Combine these ingredients in a small jar:
2 Tbs chili powder or ancho chili powder
1 Tbs cumin
1 Tbs garlic salt (or garlic powder if limiting salt/sodium)

Use some now and save the rest for later.

NOTES: If using garlic salt, there is no need to salt the chops, chicken, ribs or whatever else you might be seasoning. Use 1-2 tsp per pound of protein as a rule of thumb. I used about 1 tsp per 12 oz chop.

The grill was heated to about 400 when I put on the chops. The grilling time varies with bone-in vs boneless and how you like your meat cooked. I cooked the bone-in, 1 1/2 inch thick chops about 5 min a side for just a hint of pink. Using a thermometer, I recommend taking them off when they register 135 degrees. While resting, they will come up another 5 or so degrees and you don't want to overcook these beauties.

For a perfect accompaniment, I whipped up some Nectarine Salsa. The abundance of amazing summer fruit at the Farmer's Market sometimes leads me to buy too much (oops!), so this salsa was a great way to use up some of our bounty. I used regular and white nectarines here, but you could use one type or even sub peaches or plums if you like.

Nectarine Salsa
Makes 2 cups

Combine these ingredients in a small bowl:
2 large or 4 small nectarines
2 Tbs finely chopped red onion or shallots
2 Tbs finely chopped jalapeno
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs lime juice

Stir gently. Tastes great with pork, chicken, fish (tacos!), and organic corn chips.

Homemade Energy Bars: Nut, Coconut & Honey Bars

Nut, Coconut & Honey Bars

My family really appreciates a good snack...something delicious, satisfying and good for you. These homemade "Kinder" bars are a great substitute for the commercial variety and don't have any hard to pronounce ingredients. They are gluten and dairy free, easy to make, and travel well at room temp.

I love that the recipe is a guide; you can plug in whatever variety of nuts and seeds you like (just stick with the same ingredient ratios). You can even add currants, chopped dried fruit or spices. Get creative!

These bars were inspired by Chef Molly Mitchell’s Sesame-Peanut Bars recipe in Bon Appetit (September 2015). After countless batches, our family found the nut & seed combination that we like best. Great for a grab and go breakfast, snack or dessert!

Nut & Honey Bars
16 Servings

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (make, bake, cool & cut)

Ingredients:
2 cups assorted raw nuts/seeds (we like 1/2 cup each: cashews, slivered almonds, pecans, and sunflower seeds)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut chips
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs almond butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch or two salt

Steps:
Preheat oven to 300. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper.

Combine nuts and coconut in large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients. Drizzle over nut mixture and stir until well blended.

Add nut mixture to baking dish. Press down with a spatula or back of a spoon into an even layer.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool 30 minutes in baking dish, then lift parchment and move to wire rack.

When bars are cool, cut into 16 squares.

Enjoy!

Grilled Veggies...the Perfect Side Dish Part 2

Oh, the humble foil pouch. It sure doesn't look like much, but the contents can really dazzle. A great option when firing up the grill, because it's so easy to add more veggies!

I love veggies. Have I mentioned that? It could be a holdover from my vegetarian days. Or maybe it's part of being a nutrition geek. Either way, I'm thrilled that my tastebuds go along with the vast veggie experimentation that happens here.

We are still BBQ'ing like mad. Many dinners are simple, casual and practically served straight from the BBQ. For instance, I've been using foil pouches lately to create effortless side dishes...love it! The great thing is, once you get the hang of this technique, you can try all sorts of interesting combinations.

In addition to the recipes below, we have made pouches with:
* baby potatoes, halved or quartered + shallots, halved or quartered (one of our family's fav's)
* sweet potatoes, peeled and diced + OJ + maple syrup
* sliced cremini mushrooms + sliced Brussels sprouts + sliced shallots + coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

Just add oil/butter/ghee plus salt and pepper to the pouch and you have a tasty side dish straight from the BBQ.

Easy Grilled Broccoli & Garlic Pouch Easy Grilled Broccoli & Garlic Pouch

Easy Grilled Broccoli & Garlic Pouch
Serves 3-4

1 1/2 pounds broccoli or 1 pound broccoli florets
4-5 small garlic cloves still in papery wrappers
1-2 Tbs oil, butter or ghee
salt & pepper
½ lemon (optional)

Preheat grill to medium or medium high.

Cut/separate broccoli into florets (about 1-2 inches in size). Wash florets (leaving a little water clinging to create steam).

Tear off about 2 feet of foil. Add broccoli, garlic cloves, oil, salt, and pepper to one half of the foil. Fold foil over broccoli and seal edges by folding over several times. Place foil pouch over medium heat for about 5 minutes. If desired, put the lemon half on the grill for an amazing transformation.

Remove foil pouch (plus lemon if using) from grill by sliding it onto a plate. Carefully peel back edges or cut open pouch...hot, steaming contents inside! Pour broccoli and garlic into a serving dish.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon if desired.

Grilled Succotash Pouch Gallery 1 Grilled Succotash Pouch
Serves 3-4

I acknowledge this is not a true Succotash...it is missing lima beans. Unfortunately, my love for vegetables does not extend to limas. This is purposely a non-lima interpretation of succotash, California stlye. Add this pouch to your Labor Day Q'ing and prepare for the crowd to go wild!

1 medium zucchini, chopped (about 1 heaping cup)
½ cup fresh organic corn (cut off the cob) - see how here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6OWvQjPADw
½ cup chopped red bell pepper
2 Tbs finely diced jalapeno
½ cup chopped tomatillo (2-3 small) or 1 small green tomato, chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp chili powder
2 strips uncured, nitrate-free bacon

Preheat grill to medium or medium high.

Tear off about 2 feet of foil. Place zucchini through chili powder on foil. Seal pouch by folding over edges several times. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Carefully flip the pouch and cook 5 minutes more.

While cooking the succotash, cook the bacon too. Tear a small sheet of foil that will fit two slices bacon plus have a little room to fold up edges (to prevent bacon grease from pouring into grill). Cook bacon a few minutes on the foil “pan”, and carefullly flip the bacon with tongs. (Or cook bacon in the microwave for 3-4 minutes between 2 papertowels)

Move the bacon + foil to a plate very carefully when it is nicely crisp. (It may require a few flips to ensure even cooking.)

Remove pouch from grill by carefully sliding it onto a plate. Using tongs, unroll one edge of the succotash pouch. Pour into a serving bowl. Chop bacon into small pieces and heap on top of succotash. Serve with a slotted spoon.


Grilled Fajita Veggie Pouch

featured-image Grilled Fajita Veggie Pouch
Serves 3-4

1 white, yellow or brown onion, peeled and sliced
3 bell peppers of varying colors, seeded and sliced
1-2 Tbs oil
salt & pepper

Preheat grill to medium high.

Tear off about 2 feet of foil. Place onions and bell peppers on foil. Add oil and sprinkle salt & pepper. Seal pouch by folding over edges several times. Cook over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Carefully flip the pouch and cook 5 minutes more.

Remove pouch from grill by carefully sliding it onto a plate. Using tongs, unroll one edge of the pouch. Pour into a serving dish (or not). Enjoy!

Tip: Round out the meal with chicken or flank steak. Sprinkle it with garlic salt + chili powder + cumin. BBQ meat, let it rest, and then slice it fajita style. Great in lettuce wraps or organic corn tortillas. Add avocado if desired.

Grilled Veggies...the Perfect Side Dish Part 1

Grilled Corn with Jalapeno Lime Butter Grilled Corn with Jalapeno Lime Butter

We spend a lot of time around the BBQ this time of year. It's too hot to turn on the oven in the late afternoon, but lovely to spend the evening outside with the warm weather and cool breeze. Instead of focusing solely on the main course, we've added all kinds of sides to our grilling repertoire in the last few years. Especially in the veggie department. You name it, we've probably tried to grill it.

Here are a few of our recent fav's.

Grilled Corn with Roasted Jalapeno Lime Butter (or ghee)
Serves 4

4 ears organic corn (buy organic to avoid GMO corn)
2 small jalapenos or 1 large
¼ cup unsalted butter or ghee room temp ¼ tsp lime zest 1 tsp lime juice
salt & pepper

Preheat grill to medium or medium high.

Remove tough outer husks. Pull back inner husks (but leave them attached) and remove silks from corn. Fold husks back over corn. Grill corn over medium heat 15-20 minutes, rotating a few times. If grill marks are desired, carefully pull back husks and place corn directly on the grill for 2-3 minutes of the cooking time. Remove from grill and loosely cover in foil to keep warm.

Grill jalapenos about 10 minutes, rotating a few times. Remove jalapenos from grill and set aside to cool. Once cool to the touch, remove stem and seeds and roughly chop. (You may want to wear gloves or put your hands in plastic baggies for this part...the oils from the jalapeno can irritate your skin, eyes, etc.) Combine 2 Tbs chopped jalapeno, butter/ghee, zest, and juice. Season lightly.

Serve Roasted Jalapeno Lime Butter with the Grilled Corn.

Grilled Cauliflower Salad

Grilled Cauliflower Salad Grilled Cauliflower Salad
Serves 3-4

1 large head cauliflower
1-2 Tbs olive oil
salt & pepper

Dressing
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs lemon juice + ⅛ tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs capers, rinsed and chopped
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat grill to medium or medium high.

Divide cauliflower into large florets (2-3 inches in size). You can do this by hand, snapping off the larger florets around the outside, and then cut the groups of smaller florets at center into several large pieces.

Toss florets with oil, salt & pepper. Grill over medium heat, turning about every 5 minutes for 20-30 minutes total. They should be tender crisp with lightly charred spots on the outside. Remove from grill and toss with dressing. Serve warm.

Coming up next...several veggie recipes that are grilled in foil pouches. Easy to cook, plus easy clean-up too!

Summer Slow Cooking

Ancho Chile Pulled Pork Tacos Ancho Chile Pulled Pork Tacos

It's been a hot week here, so I decided throwing a few ingredients in a crockpot sounded like a good call. Plus, making a big ol' pork shoulder feeds us stress-free (and deliciously!) for several days. (See serving suggestions below for a variety of ideas.)

I served up Ancho Chile Pork Tacos with all the fixins since it was "Taco Tuesday", and I am not above cliches. Although our three year old food-critic-in-training, declared "I don't like this" as he jabbed the pork with his polka-dot fork, he then chowed down like a wild beast. So I declared dinner a success and enjoyed a glass of wine. : )

Ancho Chile Pulled Pork
Serves 6+

3 1/2 pound boneless pork shoulder (also called a Boston Butt)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 (12 oz) bottle gluten-free beer or 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 whole dried ancho chiles, seeds and stem removed or 2 tsp ancho chile powder
2-4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 Tbs tomato paste (buy the one in the tube for easy resealing)

Trim pork shoulder if desired. Sprinkle cumin and salt on pork.

Pour beer into slow cooker. Tear ancho chiles into 1-2 inch pieces. Add chiles, garlic and tomato paste.

Slow-cook on low for 7-8 hours, turning the pork over half way through if possible. Depending on the size of the pork or if it has a bone, cooking times may vary. Cook until it tears easily with a fork.

Transfer pork to a large bowl. Shred pork with two forks, removing occasional fat blobs, if desired.

Use a ladle to remove the oil layer on top of the sauce. Pour sauce through a strainer and into a small sauce pot. Boil over medium high until the sauce is reduced by half (about 2 cups). Add as much of this sauce to the shredded pork as you like. FYI - we added all the tasty sauce and then served the pork with a slotted spoon.

Serving Suggestions: put pork in...

  • lettuce wraps + avocado + tomatoes + cilantro + onions
  • organic corn tortillas + shredded lettuce or cabbage + tomatoes + cilantro + onions
  • gluten-free buns + slaw
  • more below pic! Pulled Pork Appetizers

  • mini versions of the above for appetizers; see below for mini taco instructions

  • enchiladas with pulled pork + onions + zucchini + bell peppers
  • salad greens + organic corn + tomatoes + bell peppers + salsa

In case you want to know how to make the cute little taco shells...

Heat oven to 400. Use a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter to cut 3 small circles out of a standard sized organic corn tortilla. Brush mini tortillas lightly with oil, and drape over the "wires" of the oven rack. (If they are too stiff to bend naturally, nuke them for 20 seconds.) Cook about 5 minutes or until crisp. Feeling lazy? Buy round organic corn chips and make mini tostadas instead!
Mini Corn Taco Shells

I topped the tacos with shredded radish and cilantro, 'cause it looked so pretty!

Grilled Clams

Grilled Clams

Grilled Clams

Need I say more? This recipe is quick and easy. And impressive on a warm summer evening. We like to make it as an appetizer for our foodie friends, but it could be dinner if you pour it over rice or pasta (gluten-free of course!).

Although I've always used butter in the past, I wanted to attempt a dairy free version this time around. Butter or ghee lends a nice richness, but olive oil was an exceptable stand-in.

Start with high quality clams. I prefer them on the smaller side (1 1/2 - 2 inches wide). When you buy clams, ask if they need to be rinsed or not. Some farmed clams don't need to be rinsed, while most others do to remove sand (say no to grit!).

Many folks will appreciate some bread to soak up the delicious juice, so find a good gluten-free bread. Drizzle olive oil over the bread and grill it for a few minutes each side for a real crowd pleaser. Believe it or not, the pic above features a gluten-free hot dog bun cut into four thin slices. Not my first choice, but it turned out great!

Grilled Clams
serves 4

1 pound clams
1 lemon, sliced and seeds removed
1 Tbs olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 shallot finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup white wine
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tbs chopped parsley

Prepare a parchment lined foil pouch. Place clams and lemon slices on half.

Fold foil + parchment over and seal edges by rolling over 2-3 times. (FYI - the reason I line the foil pouch with parchment is because I am concerned about the acid from the lemons reacting with the aluminum foil.)

Clams & Lemons

Grill over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Almost all the clams should open. Discard unopened clams.

Grilled Clams

Carefully take a peak into the pouch. You should see steamy open clams and smell the mouth-watering blend of clams, wine and garlic. Pour the clams + juice into a bowl and top with parsley. (I put the parsley in first and it wilted into a unattractive mess...so don't do that.)

Serve these Grilled Clams with GF bread and a buttery Chardonnay!

All Things Grilled Part 2

Grilled Scallop with Mango Lime Salsa

Grilled Scallop with Mango Lime Salsa

Part 2 in a 3 part series on Grilling!

Scallops are a beautiful thing when properly prepared. The tender flesh plus the subtle taste of ocean can be heavenly. If you want to cook delicious scallops, there are three keys to success: 1) start with high quality dry scallops, 2) season appropriately, and 3) sear well.

Dry scallops are usually shucked on the boat and stored without any water or preservatives. This treatment leads to the freshest, tastiest scallops. On the contrary, wet scallops are shucked and then stored in water, salt water, or water + a chemical preservative. These treatments make the scallops last longer, but contribute to sub-par shellfish.

Scallops naturally contain a lot of moisture, but you want it to be the natural, briny flavor of the ocean. So ask your fishmonger for dry scallops. Before preparing your scallops, pat their surface gently with a clean cloth or paper towel(s). Also, make sure to remove the tough muscle on the side (see below). Season them generously to enhance their flavor and help form a crust (when seared). Salt and pepper will do, but we found that a variety of spices were delicious as well.

Scallops with muscle removed

Creating a crust is a great textural complement to the delicate flesh of a scallop, but this technique can be a challenge. Using dry scallops, seasoning, and searing them in a well-oiled pan over medium-high heat are important.

Another way to create a tasty scallop is grilling! Grilling scallops creates a beautiful crust as well as smokey, charred flavors. We found that grilled scallops pair nicely with refreshing citrus and tropical flavors too. Make sure to oil the grill just before adding the scallops.

Grilled Scallops Two Ways

Grilled Scallop with Mango Lime Salsa

Grilled Scallops with Mango Lime Salsa
serves 3

1 pound large dry scallops
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder

Mango Lime Salsa
1 cup peeled, diced mango
1 Tbs finely chopped cilantro
2 Tbs lime juice
pinch or two salt

Set scallops on a paper towel lined plate. Lay another paper towel on top of the scallops. Gently pat. Set aside.

Heat grill to medium.

Remove paper towels from scallops. Season scallops with salt and chili powder.

Oil grill to prevent sticking. Grill scallops about 3 minutes per side or until almost cooked through. Remove from grill.

Serve with Mango Lime Salsa (or Orange Salsa below).

Grilled Scallop with Orange Salsa

Grilled Scallops with Orange Salsa
serves 3

1 pound large dry scallops
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

Orange Salsa
1 cup peeled, sectioned orange
1 Tbs finely chopped jalapeno
1 Tbs finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbs lime juice
pinch or two salt

Set scallops on a paper towel lined plate. Lay another paper towel on top of the scallops. Gently pat. Set aside.

Heat grill to medium.

Remove paper towels from scallops. Season scallops with salt & cumin.

Oil grill to prevent sticking. Grill scallops about 3 minutes per side or until almost cooked through. Remove from grill.

Serve with Orange Salsa (and maybe even a refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc).

All Things Grilled Part 1

Bison Burger with Potato "Bun"

Part 1 of a 3 part series on Grilling!

I love a good burger. There is nothing quite like taking your first bite of a juicy, perfectly cooked burger and having all of the layers and components harmoniously meld together in that one bite. Once you have had that wonderful experience, it is quite disappointing when things (flavors, textures, proportions) don’t seem to work out.

One challenge for gluten-free folks is what to do about a bun. Don’t get me wrong, I love a light, airy, appropriately sized bun with my burger. But sometimes a dense, dry gluten-free bun interferes with the star of the show…the meat! I’ve tried lettuce wraps and grilled portobello mushrooms too, but my quest for a new “bun” continues.

When my brilliant and creative side kick, Constance, mentioned using a thick potato slice as a bun, I couldn’t wait to try the concept of a burger and fries all in one! It was a beautiful thing...I fell in love with burgers all over again.

Grilled Bison Burger
makes 4 burgers

1 pound ground bison (or sub grass-fed beef)
½ cup grated red or white onion ½ tsp garlic salt ¼ tsp lemon pepper cheese slices optional

Turn on grill and set to high heat.

Meanwhile, combine burger ingredients and divide meat evenly into 4 patties.

Reduce heat to medium high once grill temperature reaches 400° F.

Place patties on grill for approximately 3 minutes. Rotate the patties 45° and grill for 2 more minutes if grill marks are desired. Then, flip the burger and cook for 3 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove from grill and allow to rest 3-5 minutes.

Grilled Potato "Bun"

1-2 russet potatoes (nice thick round ones), scrubbed
olive oil or fat of choice (about 1 Tbs)
salt & pepper

Microwave (each) potato 2 minutes.

Slice potatoes crosswise in ½ inch thick slices. (Use the bigger pieces for buns and the smaller pieces for “fries”.)

Drizzle or brush with oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Grill potatoes for about 4 minutes, preferably on the cooler side of the grill. Rotate potatoes 45° and grill for 4 more minutes, if grill marks are desired. Flip potatoes and grill another 3-5 minutes, depending how crispy you want them.

Set potato "buns" aside for a few minutes while the burgers rest. Then use the potato slices as a bun to build a tasty burger.

Optional toppings:
* stone ground mustard
* grilled onions (sliced ¼ inch thick and grilled about 10 minutes on medium low, flipping occasionally)
* grilled tomatoes (try a drizzle of oil + balsamic for a tangy treat; grill about 5 minutes on medium low)
* avocado
* arugula
* baby spinach
* grilled or sauteed mushrooms

Bison Burger with Grilled Tomato & Arugula Bison Burger with Grilled Tomato

Celebrate Summer with these Cool Treats Part 3

Creamsicle Ice Cream Frozen Creamsicle Coco-cream

Part 3 of a 3 part series

Summer is here and hot days have arrived. Sometimes I long to be transported back to those carefree afternoons of summer vacation when we lounged by the pool and enjoyed popsicles to help beat the heat. My parents had an old fridge/freezer in the garage that my mom would stock with frozen treats, so my brother and I would keep our sticky messes outside.

Although fudgesicles were a staple, sometimes my mom would mix it up and buy creamsicle popsicles. There was something about the creamy vanilla center with the tangy orange outside that dazzled my tastebuds. It's a flavor that takes me back to those lazy days by the pool.

Here's a dairy-free creamsicle "ice cream" with a coconut milk base, thus the name coco-cream. Serve it with fruit salad, sandwiched between gluten-free gingersnaps, or with a toasted coconut topping. Delish!

Frozen Creamsicle Coco-Cream
makes about 3 cups

1 (14 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk (~2 cups)
1 Tbs orange zest
1 cup orange juice (about 3 medium oranges*)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla powder, scraped vanilla bean or more extract
1/3 cup agave nectar or honey
1 Tbs cointreau or grand marnier

Combine ingredients. Stir well.

Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacture's instructions. Serve immediately or move to freezer safe container for another time. When you are ready, remove ice cream from freezer about 5 minutes before serving to allow it to soften.

*Ingredient Note: for those seasonal sticklers out there who think oranges are a winter crop, we have an orange tree that pumps out sweet juicy oranges year-round. Hooray for fresh orange juice (and mimosas)!