A Gaggle of Girls
I'm a divorced mom of 3 gluten-free daughters. We've outgrown dairy, soy, egg, and corn allergies, but still deal with a berry allergy in my youngest.
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Archive for the ‘side dishes’ Category

postheadericon Quick gluten-free crackers

lunchbox crackersThis recipe is my tweaks of this MOMables recipe. Their version is dairy free, but mine has dairy, as I made it with what was on hand. The MOMables folks also have a tree-nut free alternative in their recipe. If you haven’t visited their site, I strongly recommend visiting and poking around.

This is a super-easy cracker recipe. A good one to start out your gf baking, and also a good one for the kids to make on their own. Choosing the shape of their crackers was fun for my kids. To me these taste like a mix of Mary’s Gone Crackers and what I remember of Wheat Thins.

This is a delicious gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It can also be (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, soy free, egg free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, and vegetarian recipe.


rolled out doughIngredients:

  • 1/2 cup millet flour and 1/4 cup brown rice flour (or 3/4 cup brown rice flour)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 TBS ground chia
  • 1 TBS parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt (Applewood Smoked Salt is amazing
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary (or 1tsp herbed salt mix)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ tsp melted butter or coconut oil
  • ¼ c waterunbaked crackers ap


Preheat oven to 350F and line your cookie sheet with silpat, Reynolds Release, or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl (not your stand mixer), combine everything from flour through chia seeds. Use a large fork or whisk to combine well.

Melt the butter or coconut oil, and drizzle over the flour mixture. Drizzle the water over the flour as well. Mix first with the fork, then knead with your hands to make it form a ball.

Put plastic wrap on your counter, place the dough on top of it, and place another sheet of plastic wrap on top of that. Use a rolling pin to roll it to be approximately 1/8” thick, but it can be thicker if necessary to avoid the dough ripping.

baked crackers

Use some cookie cutters to make cute shapes (I made angels and penguins as we’re in the time running up to Christmas) or use a pizza wheel or knife to make squares/rectangles or another shape. Transfer the cut shapes to the lined cookie sheet. I found it was easier to transfer the shapes by popping them out of the cookie cutter directly onto the cookie sheet.

After making one set of crackers, make a ball out of the remaining dough, re-roll, and cut another set. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Bake on the cookie sheet for 18-20 minutes, until the edges become golden brown. Let cool, then transfer to an airtight container for storage.


postheadericon Green Stuff, or Green Jello Salad

Green StuffMy Aunt Mary made this and brought it to every family gathering, calling it Green Stuff. She and her husband, my Uncle Walt, only had one child, and he didn’t live nearby, so they would come to my grandmother’s house for family holidays. Uncle Walt was Nana’s oldest brother, and he was born in the very early 1900s. His stories of life back in the day were wonderful – he delivered milk and all kinds of things.

I made this recently for Thanksgiving, and about half of it was eaten. Which is half more than I thought would eat it. It’s definitely a nostalgia food for a lot of people over 40.

This is a fun, gluten-free recipe! I can’t guarantee it’s family-friendly, as none of the kids would try it. It can also be (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, soy free, egg free, peanut free, fish free, and shellfish free recipe.


  • 1 16oz crushed pineapple, juice drained and reserved
  • 1 pkg lime Jello gelatin
  • 1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 TBS of the reserved pineapple juice
  • 1 cup water, boiled
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Green Stuff 2Method:

Boil 1 cup water. In a large bowl, dissolve Jello in boiled water, whisking for a couple minutes. Whisk in cold water and pineapple juice. Blend cream cheese into Jello mix until well combined.

Let chill in bowl for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, until thickened, but not set.

Spray a silicone bundt pan with cooking spray (I like Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Spray).

Fold in walnuts and crushed pineapple, and pour into bundt pan mold. Chill until set – 2 hours or overnight.

Unmold by turning over onto a serving plate. If it doesn’t immediately pop out, run under hot water for a second, then try again. However, this is why silicone is lovely – it’s a lot easier to unmold anything if you use a silicone mold.

Serve. Either try to avoid bringing up the dishes coming to life in Better off Dead, or embrace it!


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postheadericon Gluten-Free Crockpot Stuffing

Stuffing 2Stuffing is one of my most favorite parts of Thanksgiving, or any major holiday. When I became a vegetarian I made sure we had stuffing that wasn’t in the turkey. Now we don’t have stuffing in the turkey because if gluten stuffing is in the turkey, the turkey isn’t gluten-free. After many years of trial and error, this is my favorite stuffing, the one that tastes the most like the stuffing I remember.

This is a delicious gluten free, family-friendly recipe! I’m very fussy about the type of bread used, and those baguettes contain dairy and egg. If you use a different bread, you can make this gfcf and egg-free. It can also be (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, soy free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, and vegetarian recipe.


  •  2 packages (4 total) Against the Grain Rosemary Baguettes (If you can’t use these for whatever reason, an equivalent amount (about 10-12 cups) chopped of my gluten-free focaccia will work – and that’s both dairy free and egg free)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt or mixed salt/herb mix
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 16 oz vegetable broth (or chicken broth) – double check ingredients, as many have barley malt or wheat flour.
  • 1 egg (or substitute, optional)
  • 1 cup pecans, if not nut-free (optional)

Stuffing 1Method:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Use the microwave to defrost the frozen baguettes enough to slice (usually 30 seconds for 2 loaves), then slice them in half long-ways and width-wise. Toast in the oven cut-side up for 10-15 minutes, until browning on the edges. Chop into rough 1″ cube.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery, add poultry seasoning, sage, pepper, and salt or salt/herb mix, and cook until vegetables are tender.

In a large glass measuring cup, heat the broth in the microwave for 60 seconds. Temper the egg into the broth.

In a large bowl, mix bread cubes, seasoning and celery/onion mixture, and pour the broth on top. Toss the bread mixture to coat, then add the pecans and stir again.

Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray (I like Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil Spray). Add the bread mixture to the crock pot and cook on low for 3-4 hours. I recommend stirring it every hour or so, just so the sides don’t get crunchy. After the 4 hours, if you aren’t ready to eat, put it on low and try to stir occasionally.

Enjoy with dinner and brag about how delicious your food is!


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postheadericon Bestest Kale Salad

I first had this kale salad at Whole Foods, and found it absolutely divine, despite the fact that it had raisins. I promptly lost the recipe Whole Foods handed out, but after searching the recipe ingredients I remembered, I found this Smitten Kitchen kale salad recipe. I’ve tweaked it a little bit for our family (no raisins!), and found that my kale-disliking child found this palatable. My kale-neutral child ate it without any problem. My kale-enjoying child begged for it for lunch, then asked me to make more the following week. That’s a good level of acceptance of a recipe for me to make it again – and they ate it the second time, too!


  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1 TBS white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (no balsamic, but a herbal vinegar works beautifully here)
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, also known as lacinato kale, a flatter, non-curly kale variety
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I tend to use toasted heels of bread that I run through the food processor to make breadcrumbs, but I’ve also been very happy with Ian’s breadcrumbs.)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed


Best kale saladPrep work: Walnuts – toast the walnuts at 350F for 10 minutes. Breadcrumbs: warm 1 TBS olive oil over medium heat in a skillet; sauté garlic for a minute, add breadcrumbs and toast for a couple minutes until golden, stirring frequently.

Rinse the kale. Rip the leaves off stem of the kale, then stack the leaves. Roll a few leaves into a cigar-type shape. Thinly slice the leaves on a slight diagonal, also known as a chiffonade.

Take a large bowl and assemble the salad. Add kale, walnuts, vinegar, cheese, remaining 2 TBS olive oil, and lemon. Toss together until the kale is well coated with the olive oil, lemon, and vinegar. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for the flavors to marinate, then toss in the breadcrumbs and serve.

This is delicious fresh, and also delicious as leftovers. My middle daughter loves taking this to school in her lunch.


postheadericon Gluten-Free Cheese Crackers (goldfish-style)

This is inspired by the Smitten Kitchen Whole Wheat Goldfish recipe.

This is a delicious gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It can also be (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, and vegetarian recipe.Goldfish


  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, ideally an orange cheddar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I’ve used brown rice with a bit of amaranth. I wouldn’t suggest a bean flour, as it’s too heavy for a cracker)
  • 1/4 cup starch (I’ve used white rice flour and tapioca starch – both worked well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder (not onion salt!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • (optional: add 2 drops orange gel food coloring if your cheese isn’t orange)

Goldfish ingredientsMethod:

Using a food processor, combine all the ingredients. Let run for around 2 minutes, until it all comes together in a ball.  I have a small Cuisinart, and it’s still large enough for this.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, or put it in a plastic bag, and place in the fridge. Let it chill for 30+ minutes, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350F when you take the dough out of the fridge.Chilled dough

Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your counter or other surface. Plop the dough in the middle of the plastic wrap. Put another sheet of plastic wrap on top, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/8th of an inch. Gluten-free dough requires slightly different handling for rolling out, and the technique that’s worked the best for me has been rolling out between layers of plastic wrap.

Use cookie cutters to cut shapes and transfer to cookie sheets that are either lined with parchment paper or Silpat (I occasionally sprayed my cutters with Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray, but another spray would also work). When laying them out, leave about 1/2 inch between crackers so they can spread. Use a toothpick or a bamboo skewer to poke eyes into the crackers. I also used the toothpick to make mouths on the fishies, but I’ve left the other critters mouthless. (I found my mini-fishie cookie cutter on eBay)Lots of goldfish

Let bake for 10 minutes, then check for done-ness every 2 minutes. Crackers are done when there’s just the slightest browning on the edges. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and let cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. When cool, transfer to an airtight container. Serve as a side in lunchboxes or as a snack any time.


postheadericon Tarragon-Lime Green Beans

Lime & Tarragon Green Beans

This was adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. It’s a pretty fast cooking dish, and the flavors are amazing. Don’t cheat and use bottled lime juice – if you don’t have a fresh lime to zest and juice, wait until you do.

Serves 6.

Decorative Tarragon Sprigs with green beans


  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
  • grated lime zest from 1 lime
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 TBS olive oil (this does not need to be extra virgin, and could be another cooking oil)
  • 1 1/2 pound green beans
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves


Green Bean prep

Combine 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and lime zest in small bowl; set aside.

Juice the lime and chop the tarragon leaves, and set aside.

Snap off both ends of the green beans, and set aside. Set aside the minced onion with the green beans.

Just browning

Heat 1 TBS regular olive oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Add onion, green beans, 2 pinches kosher salt, and 3 grinds teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add water, cover, and cook until beans are bright green but are still crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove the cover, increase heat to high, and cook until water evaporates, about 60 seconds.

Add olive oil mixture to the pan and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until beans are crisp-tender, lightly browned, and beginning to wrinkle, 2-3 minutes.

Summer dinner - 1 pan, plus grill

Transfer green beans to serving bowl, toss with lime juice and tarragon. Serve immediately, or cover the bowl with a plate or other lid to keep warm when bringing the rest of the meal to the table.

This is great with some roasted potatoes and a fish that has been in a citrus marinade. There won’t be many leftovers with these!

postheadericon Miso Soup, hold the barley

Traditional miso contains barley, a gluten-containing grain. However, there are some companies, such as Great Eastern Sun which make miso from alternate ingredients such as soy, chickpeas, and rice (their misos are also certified organic and kosher). Additionally, as miso soup is usually made using a fish broth, using a vegetable broth in its place, makes the soup an option for vegetarian/vegan diners and those with fish allergies.

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, and vegan/vegetarian recipe.

This is my adaptation of a couple easy miso soup recipes I’ve found.


Miso soup, serving for one
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (you can make some quickly)

  • 1/4 cup dried wakame (sea vegetable)
  • 1/2 lb firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into half-inch cubes (1/2 lb = 8 oz = 1 package)
  • 4 TBS red Miso
  • optional: 2 scallions, sliced into rings (white and light green parts only)

Make a quick batch of vegetable stock. In a medium pot, bring 7 cups of water to a boil with 2 cloves garlic, 3 baby carrots, and 3 leafy pieces of celery.

Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 20+ minutes. Strain the vegetables out of the broth, then measure 6 cups of broth for the miso soup.

Ready to serve the miso soup

Reuse the medium pot and bring the vegetable stock to a simmer.

Add the diced tofu and wakame, and simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Remove 1/3 cup broth from the soup, and dissolve the miso in the stock. Once the miso is well mixed in with the broth, add to the soup.

Garnish with scallion rings and serve.

Tuna and rice

This is lovely served with a salad and sushi, but is also wonderful served with grilled tuna and Asian Rice Salad.

postheadericon Summer Gazpacho

Gazpacho is chilled tomato-based soup with lots of veggies and a bit of a spicy kick is just right. For my kids, I explained it was “salsa soup”, which interested them. The adults loved it, and all the kids enjoyed it, too.

On a hot summer day, a cool bowl of gazpacho is just what my taste buds are wanting. My corner of the world (New England) hasn’t had many hot summer days this year, but on the last one I developed a serious craving. Of course, when I was able to make the gazpacho, the days had become cooler again, but it still tasted wonderful!

I misplaced my gazpacho recipe in the move, so this is loosely based on Alton Brown’s Gazpacho recipe, which is more time intensive and while yummy, doesn’t include two of my gazpacho staples – cilantro or avocado.

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, top 8 allergen free, and vegan/vegetarian recipe.


A little summer treat
  • 28 oz can peeled & seeded plum tomatoes

  • 3 cups Tomato juice
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 chopped red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 chopped medium red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2-3 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1 bunch scallions, white & light green only
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, juiced (we love our OXO Citrus Squeezer)
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or several grinds)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro

Open the can of peeled and seeded tomatoes. Strain juice through a sieve into a large mixing bowl. Remove seeds from the tomatoes, then dice and add to the bowl.

Add 3 cups bottled tomato juice to the bowl. Add olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, cumin, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and stir to combine

Great Summer Gazpacho

Dice and add avocado, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic cloves, and scallions.

Use your immersion blender (no one should live without a good Stick Blender, also known as the “juzsh juzsh thing”) to puree half the mixture. Or transfer half to a blender and puree for 15 to 20 seconds on high speed. Stir again to combine the pureed and chunky parts of the soup.

Add chopped cilantro to the soup, then cover and chill for 2 hours or more.

Serve with extra chopped cilantro. Yum!

postheadericon Polenta that’s kick-yourself simple

We, like everyone else we know, are finding ourselves on a tighter budget because of the cost of gas and heating oil. My daughters love polenta, and while I am Italian, I always thought it was too tricky to make from scratch. I mean really, would they be selling it in rolls at the store for $3 or more if it was easy?


Polenta is incredibly easy to make, and while it requires a bit of time, it’s done in under an hour. You need to simmer your marinara for a while anyway, so let it simmer while the polenta bakes. There’s very little work involved after the first few minutes other than being in the house while the oven’s on. I have adapted a recipe for polenta from The Silver Spoon, a fabulous cookbook for anything and everything Italian. I bought the cookbook for everyone at Christmas a couple years ago, and we’re all still cooking our way through it!

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, top 8 allergen free, and vegan/vegetarian recipe.


Home-made polenta
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups cornmeal (I use fine-ground, but a courser grind is more traditional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • (optional)2-3 shakes basil or oregano or Italian seasoning
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F

Bring the water and salt (and spices if using) to a boil in a large saucepan or medium-sized soup pot. Make sure you have enough room in the pot to add the cornmeal.

While the water is boiling, drizzle olive oil over the bottom of a 9×13 pan or two smaller pans.

Whisking Polenta

When the water boils, sprinkle in the cornmeal with one hand, and whisk it into the water with the other hand. Whisk carefully so there aren’t too many lumps, and watch out for spitting cornmeal, it can burn. (You may want to don your Kevlar® gloves for this part!)

Once all the cornmeal has been whisked into the water, you will have a nice cornmeal mush. Pat it into the oiled pan(s) with a spatula, then drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Slide it into the oven, and set the timer for 45 minutes.

Polenta with marinara and sausages

Check the polenta – the top should be a bit crisp, and the edges golden brown. Slice and serve with a sauce. You’ll never buy the other stuff again!

Serve this with a lovely side salad and marinara and sausages (if not vegetarian). Mmmm… One of my daughters prefers the polenta plain, then eats the red sauce and sausages with a spoon!

postheadericon Asian Rice Salad

This recipe contains peanuts! You could easily substitute pea butter, sunbutter, or soynut butter for the peanut butter, though. Do not despair! The top 8 allergen I can’t avoid in this recipe is soy, as the soy sauce is integral to the taste. If you have a good soy sauce substitute you use, though, try it – and let me know!

One day when we were having lunch with friends, my oldest daughter tried this salad, and promptly scarfed down the entire container! I was quite excited, as cold dishes aren’t a big hit in our family, so my friend sent me the recipe. This is my adaptation of the original.

Taste Testing Scoop

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also a wheat free, dairy free, egg free, tree nut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, and vegan/vegetarian recipe.


  • 3 cups cooked short grain brown rice

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 carrots, diced
  • 1 1/2 TBS sesame seeds
  • 3 TBS peanut butter or substitute
  • 2 TBS rice vinegar (cider vinegar works fine)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 TBS soy sauce (LaChoy is GF, Braggs is GF and corn free too)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (toasted is ideal)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
Asian rice salad

While the rice is cooking, combine everything else in a large bowl. Mix together well.

Add rice to the rest of the ingredients while still warm – this will help the rice soak up the flavors. Taste and adjust seasoning (it might need more soy sauce or vinegar).

Chill, then serve. This makes a great dinner with some stir-fry; or in summer serve it along side some cole slaw and something off the grill!

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