Root Vegetable Soup

I’ve been wanting to share this soup recipe with you all since I started this blog.  But, seeing as we were entering the summer months at the time, it just didn’t seem appropriate.  I made this soup a few weeks ago for a friend and now seemed like the perfect time to finally share the recipe because 1) I’m starting to feel the need to wear my down coat (i.e. its dropping into the 40’s); 2) I made a fun spider web pattern on top of the soup out of half and half, which seemed particularly fitting given we just celebrated Halloween; and 3) it would be a great soup to make for any of the upcoming holidays


This soup really is something special.  I’ve been making it for several years now and Fall just doesn’t seem complete until we’ve shared this meal together.  It is warm and spicy, hearty and satisfying, and packs more root veggies into one pot than I’ve seen in any other soup recipe.  It is also easily adaptable to be vegan and/or dairy free, making it a diet friendly option for most anyone.

This soup easily serves 20 people, so you can make it for a large crowd or freeze part of it for later.  Other than all the chopping, it’s also an easy soup to prepare.  I suggest serving it along with a fall salad (may I suggest apples, walnuts and gorgonzola over lettuce) and some crusty bread.


Root Vegetable Soup (adapted from Taste of Home)


1 lb turkey or pork Italian sausage, optional

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled an cubed

1 large rutabaga, peeled and cubed

5 large carrots, peeled and cubed

1 medium turnip, peeled and diced

5 cups water

10 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1-2 tsp salt to taste

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup half and half or coconut milk


Crumble and brown sausage until no longer pink.  Set aside and drain of excess fat.  Stir in all the vegetables, water, broth and seasonings.  Bring the pot to a boil and reduce the heat.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.  Return 1/4 of the sausage to the pot and use and emersion blender to blend everything together until smooth.  Stir in the remaining sausage and half and half.

Mexican Chicken Quinoa Bake

I love being able to add extra veggies into my meal by finding main dishes that incorporate them.   A friend of mine sent me a link to this meal and I was immediately drawn to all the colorful veggies baked right in.   It ended up being a real crowd pleaser and even my 2 year old daughter gobbled it up.


The recipe also makes an enormous amount.  We had enough for dinner, lunch the next day and some to freeze for later.  That is my kind of meal!


Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole (adapted from Never Skip Dessert)


2 organic, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions with chicken broth
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into one inch pieces
1 cup organic frozen corn, thawed
1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed (squeeze out as much water as possible)
1 (15 oz) can black beans
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup organic chicken broth
1 cup of your favorite salsa
1 cup shredded cheddar

Sour cream and cilantro for garnish


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces.  Saute in grapeseed oil, turning often, until browned on each side.  Add onion and saute until softened, about five minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the bell pepper, corn and frozen spinach and combine well. Add tomato paste, cumin and salt and pepper and mix. Add the quinoa and black beans. Mix well. (If this gets too big for your skillet, you can transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add everything in that).  Stir in chicken broth and salsa.  Pour mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm with sour cream and cilantro.


Gluten Free Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes

    Wow…where have I been the last 12 days?  Life just got kind of crazy so to make up for it, I am bringing you something extra delicious.   Every fall, my husband and I take our girls to our local farmer’s market and get them a warm apple cider donut.  The hubs used to love those things so he has to exercise some serious will power to resist the urge to indulge.   So, when I saw a friend post a recipe for homemade baked apple cider donut holes on her blog, I pretty much had to make them.  I took a risk and adapted the recipe so that it was gluten free.  The result was dangerous…dangerously good.  All the donut holes were gone in less than 24 hours and I may or may not have been responsible for downing half of them.



   Because these donut holes are baked instead of fried, the texture is slightly different than the traditional cider donuts you might find at your local apple orchard.  They are tender and moist, almost like a muffin.  The taste is hard to beat.  Distinctly apple flavored with the spiciness of cinnamon and that traditional sugar, cinnamon coating you expect from a cider donut.     I think they are best served warm, but it didn’t stop me from polishing off the last few for breakfast the next morning.

   Start by mixing your dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls.  I had a little helper with me for this part.  Isn’t she the cutest?



  Add your wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.



  Pour the batter into a well greased mini-muffin tin.  Fill each tin to only about 3/4 of the way full so that your donuts don’t rise up and flatten out on top.  Please note that I did not heed my own advice.



   Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  While they are still warm lightly brush the tops with butter and then roll the muffins in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  



   Make sure that you have other people around to enjoy these bad boys with you or you might end up eating all of them yourself.


Gluten Free Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes (adapted from the Feastie Blog– makes about 36 donut holes)


  • 2 gluten free flour blend (I used the Pamela’s Baking Mix)
  • 1  tsp baking powder (increase to 1 1/2 tsp if using all purpose flour or another type of gluten free flour)
  • 1  tsp baking soda (increase to 1 1/2 tsp if using all purpose flour or another type of gluten free flour) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt 
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • canola cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a mini muffin tin. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla extract, honey, apple cider, yogurt, and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated.   Fill mini muffin pan with the batter; fill each hole only 3/4 of the way. While donut holes are still warm, melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar in another dish. Using a pastry brush, very lightly brush a tiny bit of melted butter onto the top of each donut hole, then dip the top of the muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the donut hole in the cinnamon sugar to coat the sides and top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Gluten Free Crispy Pizza Crust

I’m not gonna lie….there are a few things I really miss since my husband and I took the gluten free plunge.  Most of the time, I just try to find recipes that are naturally gluten free because I think it’s pretty hard, in many cases, to live up to the original.   But, there are those times that a bagel with cream cheese sounds amazing or a scone with a big cup of tea would make my day.    And pizza? I used to love that stuff! My first two children grew in the womb on pizza because it was one of the few things that sounded appealing to me.  I kind of figured I would just have to give up pizza altogether, but my aunt sent me a recipe this past weekend titled the “Best Ever Crispy and Flaky Gluten Free Thin Crust Pizza.”  This sounded like a lofty claim to me, but I figured it was certainly worth the shot if I could enjoy one of my food loves again.

The crust was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  Crispy, chewy, and not grainy in the slightest.  It was sturdy and didn’t fall apart after it was loaded up with toppings.  I wouldn’t say it is a dead ringer for the real thing, but it is without question the next best thing.   We will be using this in my house time and again.  My kids even ate it!   If you are gluten free or looking for a lower carb pizza option, look no further than this recipe.

P.S. sorry for the lack of pictures but my lighting was terrible and there aren’t too many pics of pizza dough sans topping that look appetizing.



Gluten Free Crispy Pizza Crust (from Real Sustenance)


3 cups packed almond meal

7 tbsp of starch (I used arrowroot)

2 tsp baking powder

2/3 c flax meal

1 cup warm water

1 tbsp oil of your choice


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix almond meal, starch and baking powder in a bowl.  Set aside.  In another bowl mix flax meal, oil and water.  Stir until the mixture thickens.  Add the flax to the almond meal and stir until very well combined.   Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Divide the dough between the cookie sheets .  Press the dough out until it is about 1/16th of an inch thick.  I intermittently dipped my fingers in oil to keep them from sticking to the dough.  Pre bake the crusts for 22-25 min until the edges start to brown.   Load up the crusts with your favorite toppings and cheese (dairy or non-dairy) and bake for 15-20 min until the cheese is melted.

Tomato Basil Soup

   Yep, it’s soup season and I could not be more excited!  I’ve had a few soups up my sleeve I’ve been wanting to share with you, but I figured I wouldn’t be inspiring anyone with a warm and toasty soup recipe on a 90 degree day.  This past week, though, I have busted out a few soups because the nights are cool and there is a crisp, fall sort of feeling in the air.

   I don’t even need know where to start with the deliciousness of this soup.  It rivals any tomato basil soup I have ever gotten in a restaurant and is far better than any other tomato soup I have ever made.  It hits all those comfort food notes that you want in a tomato soup and yet has a sophistication and depth that makes it fancy enough to serve with a nice meal.  What more do I need to say to convince you to make this soup?!?!  You will not be disappointed!


   One of the things that makes this soup unique is that you roast the tomatoes with garlic and olive oil before adding them to the soup.  By doing this, the tomatoes and the garlic take on a sweet note and a caramelized flavor.   You can use any type of tomatoes you want, but I personally like to use a variety.



      Once the tomatoes have roasted, put them in a pot where you have sauteed some onions.  Add chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and a large handful of basil and bring the pot to a boil.  Turn the pot to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Tomato Basil Soup (from Heather Christo)


6lbs tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, whole in paper
1/4 cup of olive oil

2 Tbs butter
2 large yellow onions (roughly chopped)
handful of basil
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup half and half
kosher salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat tomatoes and garlic in olive oil and 1 tsp kosher salt and place on a baking sheet.  Roast for 30 min.  Pull out of the oven to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, saute the onions and butter until softened.  Remove the garlic from the paper and put garlic, tomatoes and all their juices in the pot.  Add a large handful of fresh basil and the chicken broth to the pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower the temperature to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Use an emersion blender to blend all the ingredients together until smooth.  Add 1 cup half and half and salt to taste.  Serve warm.     





  Use an emersion blender to blend the soup together and then add a cup of half and half  to the soup.   Warm through and serve with grilled cheese or garlic bread.


Cilantro Lime Chicken with Southwestern Quinoa

Last week it was absolutely roasting in the Midwest.  Our relatively mild summer was slammed with a 90 degree finale.  I was meal planning for the week and trying to come up with ideas that required little indoor cooking.  I had made this chicken and quinoa salad earlier in the summer and my mom has been bothering me to remake it ever since.   Since the recipe requires almost no indoor cooking, it was the perfect dish to make in the oppressive heat.

The chicken portion of this dish is marinated in a mixture of fresh cilantro, lime and various spices, and because it is cut in small pieces and grilled as a kabob, every bite is packed with flavor.  The quinoa salad is the perfect accompaniment to the chicken and has a fresh bright flavor from tomatoes, green onions and fresh cilantro and an added creaminess from black beans.  A winning combination if you ask me!


I should also note that I made zero changes to this recipe.  This almost never happens to me.  My friends laugh at me because I usually look at a recipe and think of things I can add or substitute to make the recipe better.  The flavors of this recipe, however, are so well balanced that they speak for themselves.

Start by blending cilantro, spices, oil and lime juice for the marinade.  Chop 2 pounds of chicken breast into bite size pieces and pour the marinade over chicken.  Allow to marinade for  at least four hours.  I did this step in the morning and let the chicken marinade all day.


Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.   Let it cool slightly and then mix in chopped tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and black beans.  Whisk together lime juice, olive oil and several spices to create a dressing for the salad.  Pour over the quinoa while still slightly warm and toss everything together.  This salad can be served at room temperature or cold.


Before serving, place several pieces of chicken on each skewer.  Grill the kabobs for 15 minutes on medium high until cooked through.  Serve warm over the quinoa.


Cilantro Lime Chicken with Southwestern Quinoa (from My Life as a Mrs)


For the Cilantro Lime Chicken:
2 pounds (about) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1 1/2″ cubes
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 limes juices (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup extra light olive oil (or other mild flavored oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

For the Southwestern Quinoa Salad:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a mesh strainer
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup extra light olive oil
2 limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

  Cube the chicken and place in a gallon size ziplock bag.  Blend together the garlic, cilantro, oil, salt and pepper together until smooth.  Pour over the chicken and marinate for at least four hours.
  Cook the quinoa according to the package directions, using chicken broth instead of water.  Whisk together the lime juice, oil, garlic, cumin, cayenne and salt.  Set aside.   Add the tomatoes, green onions, black beans and cilantro to the quinoa. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and mix all ingredients together.  Serve room temperature or cold.
  Place 4-5 pieces of chicken on each kabob.  Grill for about 7 minutes per side or until cooked through.  Serve on top of the quinoa.

Broccoli Chicken and Cheddar Panini

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting my very dear college roommate, Laura.  We only get to see each other about once a year, but each time, I feel like no time has passed and we slip right into the way things used to be.

Since we lived together for 3.5 years, we did our fair share of reminiscing over the weekend.  Our senior year, we lived with two other friends in a campus apartment and the four of us set up a meal rotation where we each cooked once a week.  I kicked things off by setting off the fire alarm and evacuating the entire apartment building.  My friends could barely contain themselves as we stood around with a bunch of co-eds wondering who in the world was dumb enough to set of the smoke detectors (I guess the secret’s out now!).  That was one of the first of many meals we shared together; some meals huge flops, others smashing successes, but all viewed through the rose colored glasses of fond memories.

Some of the meals that I do remember were Laura’s turkey burgers.  She paired a lot of creative flavors together, all of them delicious.  So, I was not surprised that when we started talking food this weekend, she suggested a panini with roasted broccoli, cheddar and turkey.  I was intrigued so I looked up the recipe immediately on my way home and made it the very next day.  Laura came through again with another delicious flavor combination.  The caramelized flavor of the broccoli pairs beautifully with the sharp tang of the cheddar cheese and the addition of roasted garlic adds a nice complexity.  The original recipe calls for focaccia bread and I substituted the gluten free version my sis posted a few weeks ago.  I also used grilled chicken instead of the turkey cold cuts called for in the original recipe.

The sandwich has few ingredients and comes together quickly.  Once you have roasted off some broccoli, you simply stack all of the ingredients on your bread of choice and then place the sandwich in a panini press or skillet with several heavy plates weighing it down.


The sandwich should cook until the cheese is thoroughly melted and the outside of the bread is browned and crispy.  If you are using a skillet, you should flip the sandwich half way through the cooking time.  Slice in half  and serve warm.


Broccoli Chicken and Cheddar Panini (adapted from Shutterbean)


2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 loaf of regular or gluten free focaccia (note: I used my sister’s version but topped it with shallots, parmesan and minced garlic)

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 chicken breasts, prepared to your liking and sliced

1 tbsp butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss broccoli with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Roast on a baking sheet for 20-25 min until softened and nicely browned.  Divide the focaccia into four sections and slice each section in half.  Layer broccoli, chicken breast and 2 oz of cheese on each sandwich. Butter the panini press or skillet and cook sandwich until all of the ingredients are melded together and the cheese is nicely melted.  If you cook the sandwich in a skillet, be sure to weight it with several heavy plates or another skillet.  You should also flip the sandwich halfway through cooking.

Gluten Free Olive & Herb Focaccia

Enjoy another post from my sister, Megan! 

As you all know from previous postings, my husband is a gluten fiend.  So of course I am always on the lookout for gluten free bread recipes that rival the “real thing”.  Boy, did I hit the jackpot with this recipe!  I am not kidding when I say that this is the best gluten free bread recipe that I have tried to date.  My husband would heartily agree being that he ate all of it in less than two days.  I even went back for seconds, knowing that it would disappear before I knew it if I didn’t.  I also found that this was the easiest GF bread recipe I have made, which made it an even more appealing addition to my recipe favorites.  I hope you enjoy!

As you would with any baked recipe; start by separating the dry and wet ingredients. The recipe directs you to mix the two with a hand mixer, but being that my husband and I are in a temporary living situation (ah, the army :D) I do not have a hand mixer and found a spatula works just fine.   Plus, who doesn’t love a good arm workout!?


Once the batter has been mixed, you simply separate the dough and form it into two equally sized discs on a cooking sheet.  Some tips: wet your fingers before working with the dough; it is very sticky.  Cover your cooking sheet with foil for easy clean up and it keeps the bread from sticking to the sheet.  The dough will need 20 minutes to rest, which provides the perfect opportunity to chop up all the yummy toppings (pictured below) for the bread.


Once you have chopped all your toppings the recipe will direct you to use your finger to dimple the top of the bread.  DO NOT skip this step; this will help all your lovely toppings meld into the bread as it bakes. YUM!


Now that you have topped your bread, simply pop it in the oven and get ready to see something beautiful in 15 minutes.  Top the baked bread with some fresh grated Romano cheese and enjoy warm as a side or as a main dish because you might not want anything else.


*NOTES: I used Pamela’s pancake and baking mix instead of their suggested flour blend.  Pamela’s worked wonderfully and it is much easier than mixing your own.  This recipe is from the cookbook, The Gluten-Free Bible.  


Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Sometimes, I feel like I am constantly running from store to store for last minute ingredients that somehow I’ve either forgotten to put on my shopping list or actually looked at on my shopping list 100 times in the store, yet still managed to forget.   My husband thinks it’s particularly funny that often the items I am running out for should be staples in my pantry.  Case in point: the other day I was making dinner for a friend who recently had a baby.  In typical fashion, I didn’t plan ahead for a dessert so on the day of, I pulled up my old standby chocolate chip cookie recipe and started whipping up a  batch. I got about halfway into the recipe and realized I had NO flour. Zip. Zero.  Zilch.   Seriously?!?!?! No flour?!?!?!  I mean, my husband and I are eating gluten free these days, but I usually have some flour around the house for these kinds of occasions.   To make matters even worse, I’d already dragged my kids to the store once that morning for a different ingredient I’d forgotten.  So, I scoured the internet for cookie recipes, hoping for a magic flour free option to appear.    I found a promising recipe for monster cookies that used oats instead of flour.  Since I had already started the other recipe, I just combined them and the results were better than I could expected.  Hearty like an oatmeal cookie should be, crispy on the edges and chewy in the center.   And perhaps best of all, it saved me from another trip to the store.  You know what they say…”necessity is the mother of invention!”

These cookies come together much like your traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Start by creaming your butters and sugars together and then adding eggs and vanilla.  Mix in the dry ingredients until well combined.


Refrigerate the dough for several hours.  This is a very important step in achieving that perfect crispy edge, chewy center texture.  Scoop 12 heaping tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  If you don’t want to bake the whole recipe at once, you can put the leftover dough in plastic wrap, roll it into logs and put it in your freezer for later.


Allow the cookies to cool for several minutes on the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.Image

Enjoy warm or a room temperature with a glass of milk.


Gluten-free Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 c butter

1 c white sugar

1 1/2 c packed light brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 c creamy peanut butter

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp hot water

4 1/2 c gluten-free oats

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together butter, peanut butter, white and brown sugars.  Add eggs, beating after each addition.  Mix in vanilla.  Stir together hot water and baking soda and then add to the batter.  Stir in oats and chocolate chips.  Refrigerate for at least one hour.  Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 min until the edges are golden brown.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Blueberry Crisp

Once upon a time my oldest daughter LOVED frozen blueberries.  She ate them like candy. So, my mother-in-law and I washed, sorted and froze 30 pounds (yes really, 30 pounds!!!) of organic blueberries.  And wouldn’t you know it, right about that time that my daughter decided she didn’t like them anymore.  This meant that 30 pounds of blueberries were relegated to my chest freezer where they have been hanging out for over a year.

Recently, my mother in law gave me this book by Shauna Niequist and I figured it had to be good because it was about food.  I didn’t make it very far before I wanted to try the blueberry crisp recipe recorded at the end of the first chapter.  You can imagine my excitement when I found a healthy, gluten free version of a blueberry crisp, which promised to use at least two of those 30 pounds of berries.

This crisp is rich and sweet enough for dessert, but virtuous enough to enjoy for breakfast.    Start with about 2 pounds of blueberries, almond meal, pecans, coconut oil, maple syrup and gluten free oats.Image

Pour the berries in an 8″ glass baking dish and then put all other ingredients in a food processor until everything is finely chopped and well combined.


Spread the crisp topping over the blueberries and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the berries or bubbly and the crisp topping is golden brown.


Enjoy warm or at room temperature, alone or with ice cream or yogurt.  Any way you slice it, it’s delicious!


Blueberry Crisp (adapted from Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist)


4 cups blueberries

1 cup gluten free oats

1/2 pecans

1/2 cup almond meal

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 c coconut oil

1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour blueberries into an 8″ pan.  Place all other ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and well combined.  Spoon the topping over the blueberries and bake for 45 minutes or until the berries are bubbly and the crisp is golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.