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 ‘vegan/vegetarian’ Category

postheadericon Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Smoothie ingredients 1I know it’s spring. Really, I do. But I fell in love with this smoothie in the fall, and I can’t get enough of it. I’m sure I’ll want my yummy kale smoothie again, but for now, I want my pumpkin spice smoothie.

This is a delicious gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It can also be (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.


  • 1 cup cashew milk, almond milk, soy milk, or other milk/milk alternative
  • Smoothie Ingredients 21/4 cup plain greek yogurt (optional, omit if you can’t have dairy)
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream (the thick part of the coconut milk, not the sweetened cream of coconut) or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, just canned or fresh pumpkin puree)
  • 1 TBS maple syrup and/or 1 TBS honey
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (store bought, or make your own)
  • 1 TBS chia seeds (you could also add flax or hemp seeds)
  • 1 TBS protein powder (If you can tolerate dairy, I really like Designer Whey, it’s not gritty)
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  • 6 (or more) frozen mango pieces


Blenderizing SmoothieIn my opinion, the easiest way to measure the top 4 ingredients is to use displacement with a 2 cup measuring cup. I pour the cashew or almond milk in first, then plop the yogurt in until it’s at 1 1/4 cups, and the same for the coconut cream and the pumpkin. Pour the whole thing into the blender. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth.

Using my blender‘s “smoothie” setting, this takes less than a minute. My old, sturdy $20 blender took only a little bit longer.

postheadericon Pumpkin Pie Spice

Why spend $4 on a 2 ounce jar of pumpkin pie spice? Mix up your own for less, and be certain there are no hidden fillers or allergens.

This is a delicious gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It can also be (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.


  • 6 TBS ground cinnamon (or 1/4 cup plus 2 TBS)
  • 4 tsp ground ginger (or 1 TBS plus 1 tsp)
  • 4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or 1 TBS plus 1 tsp)
  • 1 TBS ground allspice
  • 1 TBS ground cloves


Combine all of the above into a small bowl and whisk together until well blended. Once it is well combined store in a spice jar or another lidded container.

This makes a little under 3/4 cup. You can halve the recipe easily, but I prefer to make a larger batch so I have to make it less often.

postheadericon Chocolate Orange Bread

Chocolate orange breadThis is adapted from Rachael’s adaptation of a Nigella Lawson recipe, and has been made gluten-free. It’s delicious, slightly sticky, and so rich and impossible to only eat one slice. I don’t think it’s going to last very long in our house! If you like chocolate and orange together, don’t pass on this recipe!

(I should admit here that I’m not a huge fan of chocolate and orange together, and I loved it. I just remember the girls loving those Terry’s Chocolate Oranges for Christmas, and thought they’d like it. They did. The smell of this baking was also divine!)

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


photo 1Ingredients:

  • 10 Tablespoons butter, softened (or a dairy-free margarine such as Earth Balance)
  • 2 T molasses or dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup gf flour (I suggest bean, pea, amaranth, or another heavy flour)
  • 1/4 cup starch (white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 eggs (I haven’t tested this with an egg replacer. It might work, it might not)
  • zest of two oranges
  • juice from one orange (we love the Oxo citrus juicer)

photo 2



Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper, or use a silicone loaf pan.

In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar, and molasses/corn syrup. Grate the zest with a microplane grater into this mixture and beat (that gets it really mixed up well).

In a separate bowl combine flour, starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and cocoa. Whisk together so it’s well combined.

Add 1/3 dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, then add one egg, another third flour mix, another eggs, and then the rest of the flour mix. Scrape down the edges several times while doing this.

OrangesFinally, add the juice of one orange, and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the . It’s not a pretty batter, it’s rather a wet, messy batter.

Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes. Because the center is so moist, a toothpick isn’t ever going to come out clean. Instead touch the center of the loaf. If it’s firm, the bread is done. If it’s super moist and sticky, give it 5 more minutes, then try again.

photo 4Let cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then you can slice and try it. We went through several slices as soon as it was ready to cut. Yum!!


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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 Gluten-Free Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Mac & Cheese servingThis recipe is based on Alton Brown’s Baked Mac and Cheese from his TV show Good Eats. That recipe is the most downloaded recipe on Food Network, believe it or not! I’ve made it gluten-free and tweaked a few things here and there. I love this dish, and my kids and I devour it. Yum! I want to make his stovetop mac & cheese, but keep forgetting to do so.

This is a delicious gluten free, family-friendly recipe! 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.



  • Whisking1 16oz bag Tinkyada Brown Rice Elbows (you could use penne, shells, or fusilli if needed, but elbows are classic)
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 3 TBS white rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard (yes, I use yellow mustard from the plastic container. You can use a similar amount of dry mustard if you have that on hand)
  • 3 cups milk (in addition to dairy milk, plain soy milk works find here, as does half & half, if that’s all you have around)
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 10 oz (2 1/2 cups) sharp cheddar
  • 2 oz (1/2 cup) sharp cheddar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt


  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 cup homemade breadcrumbs or Ian’s gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • or eliminate the above and use 1 cup plain potato chips, smashed into tiny pieces


Preheat oven to 350F

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions. It should be al dente, not squishy. I tend to cook it one or two minutes less than the directions say on the package. (Note – if using a brand other than Tinkyada, make sure you cook less than the package directions – very few gluten-free pasta brands stay al dente)

While the elbows are cooking, melt the butter in the bottom of a medium saucepan. Whisk in the white rice flour, and keep whisking for 3 or 4 minutes. Make sure that it isn’t lumpy! Just keep it moving.

CheesyAfter the 3-4 minutes, add mustard and onion and whisk again. While whisking, pour in the milk. Keep it moving, and add in the bay leaf and paprika. Let this simmer (don’t let it boil!) for about 10 minutes, then take out the bay leaf. (If for some reason you can’t find your bay leaves or paprika, don’t fret. This will still taste great without them. Just skip adding them, but still simmer for 10 minutes) After the 10 minutes, remove the bay leaf.

Use a ladle to scoop out about 1/2 cup of the milk mixture. Crack an egg into that milk, and whisk together. Then add the egg/milk mixture back into the milk mixture, whisking it together. (This is called tempering) 

Whisk in the 10oz of sharp cheddar. Whisk or stir until melty and yummy.

Toss the drained pasta with the cheesy mixture, then pour that into a casserole dish. 8×11″ works well, as does a deep 9″ or 10″ circle or square. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

CompleteIn a skillet, melt the butter, and toss the breadcrumbs in to coat them and brown for a minute or two. Or, just smash a cup of plain potato chips.

Sprinkle breadcrumbs or potato chips on top of the cheesy macaroni casserole.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, then remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Eat – yum! This heats up beautifully for leftovers, too!


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postheadericon Nana’s Lemon Squares

Lemon squares ready to eatMy dad’s mom, my Nana, made some incredibly delicious food. Honestly, most of her best foods were desserts. Her Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls rocked, and Angel Pie is a family tradition. These Lemon Squares were another of her beloved desserts. I don’t make them often, though, as my kids aren’t big fans of them. As with my Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, that means that I share them at work or church eat them all myself.

This is a delicious gluten free, family-friendly recipe! 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.

I wasn’t able to make this recipe work properly when we were dairy-free. However, there are better dairy-free margarines out there now than there were the last time I tried. If I were to try to make these dairy-free/gfcf, I’d definitely use something like the Earth Balance sticks – the Fleishmann’s Unsalted failed in earlier tests. As the filling contains 4 eggs, it can’t be made egg-free.Lemon square crust



  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups brown rice flour or millet flour
  • 2/3 cup white rice flour or starch
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Lemon square fillingLemon filling:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • zest of 2 lemons (optional)


  • 2-3 TBS confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional – this usually contains corn)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lemon square crust bakedIn a stand mixer, cream the softened butter and sugar. Add 2 cups flour and xanthan gum, mixing until just combined. It will be more like pie crust, and rather crumbly. Press into the bottom of an ungreased glass 9×13″ pan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm and golden brown on the top. Set aside to cool.

In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/3 cup flour. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice (and zest, if using). Pour over the cooled, baked crust.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling has started to set into a pudding-like consistency. The bars will firm up more as they cool.

Lemon square lemonyAfter they have cooled for at least 10 minutes, dust the top with confectioner’s sugar. Slice after they have completely cooled. It’s hard to wait, but the lemon filling will ooze unless it has completely cooled. Keep lemon squares in the fridge or in a cool area of the house, as they won’t keep their shape as well if they are warm.


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postheadericon Corn and Bean Quesadillas

Quesadilla lunchOnce upon a time, before we went gluten-free, I was a vegetarian. During that time, I lived in Texas, and we ate a lot of quesadillas. This is one of my favorite recipes from that time. I served it to my kids last night, after a long time, and they devoured them! This recipe barely fed my family of four, so I’d recommend doubling it if you want leftovers or if you have more than 4 hungry people to feed.

This is a delicious gluten free, family-friendly recipe that can be made in under 30 minutes and for under $10! It can also be (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, soy free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, and vegetarian recipe. You could easily make this dairy-free by using a dairy-free cheese, but I haven’t tested it with dairy-free cheese. If you do that, please comment so I will know how it works!

Serves 4, easy to double

Corn & bean quesadillaIngredients:

  • 1 TBS coconut or canola oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 14oz can black beans
  • 1 14oz can corn (or 1 3/4 cups frozen corn, defrosted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, clipped
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese mixture (not the kind that already has spices, though)
  • Cayenne or hot sauce (we like Frank’s Red Hot) to taste
  • 8 corn tortillas

Corn and bean quesadilla with cheeseToppings:

  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Additional cheese or cilantro


In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, warm coconut or canola oil. Saute onion for a minute or two, and add cumin so it will toast a bit in the skillet. Saute for another minute, until the onions are tender,  then add the beans and corn.

Increase the heat to medium, and stir until the mixture is warmed. Add cilantro and 1/2 cup of cheese, and stir until combined and the cheese is melty, helping the mixture stick together.

Wrap corn tortillas in a damp kitchen or paper towel. Warm in the microwave for 30 seconds.

toasted corn & bean quesadillaHeat a small non-stick skillet or two (or one large one if you have a skillet that will fit 2 corn tortillas) over medium heat, and add a bit more oil. Place one tortilla in the skillet, add a small handful of cheese, 1/4 of the corn & bean mixture, then another sprinkling of cheese before  putting the second tortilla on top. Let it cook for a few minutes, then carefully flip. Both sides should look a bit toasted, and the cheese should have melted when done. Repeat until all of the corn & bean mixture is used up.

Eat them up, yum!




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 Lunchbox Pizza Crusts

This is an adaptation of my earlier pizza crust recipe. I’ve shrunk the recipe and adapted it a bit for lunchbox pizza crusts. This makes 8-9 lunch-sized pizzas

This is, by far, my favorite pizza crust recipe. It’s crispy, hard to mess up, delicious, and doesn’t scream “gluten-free”. My kids have all had friends over for pizza nights, and there aren’t many leftovers. I’ve always been a proponent of individual pizzas. Perhaps that’s because my family of four prefers 4 types of pizzas, but I still think it’s a good idea.

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 vegetarian/vegan recipe.
mini pizza crusts


  • 1 TBS yeast
  • 2/3 cups gluten-free flour (amaranth, millet, bean, or brown rice)
  • 1/2 cup starch (corn, tapioca, potato, or arrowroot)
  • 2 TBS chia seed or flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum or guar gum
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (I like Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water, milk/milk substitute, or mix of the two
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with Silpat, parchment paper, or Reynold’s Release foil.

Pour the dry ingredients (through salt) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix for a few moments so they are well combined.

Add the olive oil and vinegar to the water/milk combo. Pour the liquid into the flour mixture. Beat on medium speed for a couple minutes, until it forms a big ball. Pour 1-2 TBS of olive oil into a small bowl.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop out blobs of dough – it will be sticky. Plop the dough onto the lined baking sheet(s), dip your fingers in the olive oil, and use your fingers to stretch the dough out. Press and stretch until the dough is thin and shaped as desired. I can usually fit 4-5 on one cookie sheet.Halloween pizza

Bake WITHOUT TOPPINGS for 10-15 minutes. They should be golden brown around the edges. If you are not using all of them immediately, then allow to cool on a baking rack and freeze, with wax paper or cling wrap between each crust.

When you’re ready to bake the pizzas, add desired toppings (marinara or White Sauce, veggies, meat toppings, cheese or cheese substitutes) – you’re only limited by your imagination! (We usually have 1 with bacon, 1 black olive, 1 pepperoni, and one white pizza with spinach.)

Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until bubbly and hot. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, then slice and pop into a lunch box. Ours fit really well in our Easy Lunchboxes. You can check out some of our lunchbox fun over at Bentos for A Gaggle of Girls.

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.


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