Monthly Archives: October 2012

Pintos & Gravy

Refried beans has always been my favorite side dish for fajitas or tacos, but I’ve only recently begun to experiment with other ways of preparing this inexpensive protein source. I love cumin with pintos, but not everyone is as fond of it as I, so using less (or none) may be in order if you’re not a fan. I’m sure this dish would also work well in a Crockpot.

These pinto beans are great on their own, but I like them best served over rice or mashed potatoes.

Prep: overnight soak for beans
Cook: 2 hours


1 lb. pinto beans (soaked overnight)
2 slices nitrate-free bacon
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 a sweet onion, finely chopped
1 small or 1/2 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2-1 tsp. ground cumin, or to taste
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
6-7 cups water

  1. Soak pinto beans in 6-8 cups water overnight. Drain and rinse beans.
  2. Chop bacon and cook with about 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot/Dutch oven, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add chopped onion and bell pepper to bacon. Cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add drained beans, water, chicken stock, bay leaf and cumin.
  6. Cook 2 hours or until beans are tender, stirring often, adding more water if necessary. (If you have too much water, simply let the beans cook longer and thicken.
  7. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

If you can’t tell from the recipes I’ve posted so far, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Blueberry muffins have always been a favorite, but most bagged mixes have wheat, soy, dairy or eggs — all the stuff we can’t eat. I really love blueberries and don’t like feeling deprived, so I pulled some books off the shelf and started flipping through. Here’s a blueberry muffin recipe I adapted from my Better Homes and Gardens cook book. The original recipe lists several varieties (blueberry, cranberry, oatmeal, poppy seed, banana, cheese), so check out the link above and experiment when you want something new.

These streusel-topped blueberry muffins are just as good the day after, so save yourself some time in the morning by baking the night before.

Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 18 minutes
Oven: 400°F
Makes: 12 muffins


1 3/4 cups gluten-free baking mix
1/3 or 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, or 1 egg’s worth of Ener-G Egg Replacer
3/4 cup milk substitute (I use oat milk.)
1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel (optional)
1 recipe Streusel Topping (optional, below)

  1. Preheat oven. Grease muffin tin or line with paper baking cups.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine gluten-free baking mix, sugar, baking powder and salt. If you plan to add the streusel topping, use 1/3 cup sugar. If not, use 1/2 cup sugar.
  3. In another bowl, combine applesauce/egg replacer, milk substitute and oil. Add to the dry ingredients.
  4. Stir until liquid is absorbed. Depending upon the type of baking mix you use, the batter may not look like batter; it may look crumbly and thick, more like a dough. This is OK. Do not add more liquid.
  5. Fold in blueberries and optional lemon peel.
  6. Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
  7. Add optional streusel topping.
  8. Bake at 400°F for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool before eating because hot blueberries are like napalm in your mouth.

Streusel Topping:

3 tbsp. gluten-free all-purpose baking mix
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. margarine or vegetable shortening (sticks work best)
2 tbsp. chopped nuts (optional)

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut in margarine/vegetable shortening with a pastry blender or forks until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Stir in chopped nuts, if desired.
  4. Sprinkle onto muffins.

Breakfast Home Fries & Bacon

Most of my breakfasts are quick and easy. That’s why this one is reserved for the weekend. It involves peeling, chopping and nearly an hour in the oven, but it’s delicious and worth the wait. Despite this recipe’s name, these potatoes are baked, not fried.


3 lbs. potatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/2 of a green bell pepper
1/2 of a sweet or yellow onion
6 slices of bacon (more if desired)
Cooking spray

Optional seasonings:

Black pepper
Smoked paprika
Crushed rosemary
Garlic powder

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Peel potatoes and chop into 1/2 to 1-inch chunks.
  3. Chop peppers and onions into 1-inch chunks.
  4. Mix vegetables together, adding any optional ingredients.
  5. Liberally spray or grease a baking sheet.
  6. Spread vegetables across baking sheet and coat them with cooking spray.
  7. Bake for 40-60 minutes, until potatoes start to brown, stirring twice.
  8. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy.
  9. When bacon is cooled, crumble it onto your home fries and enjoy.

Mom’s Cornbread

Having to do without because of food allergies is frustrating. I grew up eating all sorts of foods to which I, unknowingly, was allergic. But I’ve discovered that my mom’s cornbread recipe works well with a few substitutions, and it’s just as yummy as it was when I crumbled it into my beef stew at the age of five.

After trying numerous gluten-free flours and baking mixes, I’ve discovered that most boxed mixes work pretty well for this recipe. Oat milk works best as a dairy substitute (the oat protein makes breads fluffier), but rice milk makes the bread too dry.

Cornbread fresh from the oven


⅓ cup gluten-free baking mix
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 egg’s worth of Ener-G Egg Replacer
⅔ cup milk substitute
2 tbsp. cooking oil
Allergen-free cooking spray
Allergen-free margarine (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch cast iron skillet.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, prepare egg replacer according to package directions.
  4. Whisk remaining wet ingredients into egg replacer.
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well with whisk or fork.
  6. Pour batter into a lightly greased cast iron skillet. Some baking mixes make the batter very thick. If that’s the case, press it into the skillet with clean, damp hands.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Spread margarine on top of cornbread, if desired.

Yields 6 servings.

Pawpaw’s Pear Pie

My grandfather, known affectionately as Pawpaw, made a crazy delicious pear pie using the windfalls from his backyard tree. As for ingredients, whatever was in the fridge would do. Half a can of Sprite… in it goes. Some old roasted pecans… toss those in, too.

While I usually have a less haphazard approach to cooking than Pawpaw did, I really wanted to recreate that creamy, spicy, sweet and all-around awesome taste of his pear pie (which was more cobbler-like than anything). I haven’t yet found his secret, but here’s what resulted from my most recent attempt. I name this recipe after him, but nothing comes close to something Pawpaw cooked up for the grandkids.


6 ripe pears – peeled, cored and sliced (4 cups)
1/2 cup milk substitute
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg


3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose baking mix
1/2 – 3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup shortening

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Lightly grease a casserole dish (9×13 is a good size).
  3. Add pears, milk substitute, water, raisins and spices to casserole dish. Stir to combine.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, baking mix and oatmeal.
  5. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two forks until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  6. Sprinkle topping onto pear mixture.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until topping is browned and filling is bubbly.


Next time I make this dessert, I’ll add an image to the post.

Blueberry Oatmeal

Oatmeal makes for a fast, healthy breakfast on weekdays when I don’t have much time to cook. While my older son doesn’t much like oats, I’ve concocted several oatmeal recipes that he enjoys… or at least doesn’t complain about. The rest of the family likes the sweetness of the fruits and the warmth that settles in your belly after eating this hearty porridge. So here’s one of my favorite quick breakfasts, which I often serve with chicken breakfast sausage. As always, I use local and organic ingredients when I can.


2 cups rolled oats
4 cups filtered water
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2-1 apple, diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
dash of salt
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

  1. Add all ingredients except for optional chopped nuts into a small pot and cook over medium heat until done (5-10 minutes).
  2. Add nuts, if desired.
  3. Serve warm with a pat of butter/margarine and a bit of cane syrup drizzled on top.

Serves 3-4

Ener-G Egg Replacer Recipes

Anyone who has been diagnosed with multiple food allergies, gluten sensitivity or celiac disease knows the difficulty of doing without. Avoiding gluten, wheat, corn, soy, peanuts, dairy, eggs or any of the other increasingly common allergens can feel like a prison sentence, and with good reason. Americans spend nearly 47 percent of their food dollars eating out, and learning that no commercially prepared food is “safe,” and that the only way to really avoid them is to prepare all of your meals at home, is daunting (source: U.S. Department of Agriculture). But you don’t have to be chained to your stove cooking unfamiliar foods. Some simple ingredient substitutions can help you enjoy the foods you crave and remain symptom-free.

One such ingredient is Ener-G Egg Replacer. Made with potato and tapioca starches, it is not only completely egg-free; it also lacks wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, yeast, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, sodium and cholesterol (source: Ener-G Foods). While this egg substitute is touted for its use in baking, a little creativity can help you enjoy foods you never thought you’d eat again.

French Toast

French toast is a fantasy for people with multiple food allergies. It has gluten, wheat, eggs, dairy and who knows what else. If you thought you’d never eat French toast again, give this breakfast favorite a try.


6 slices bread (wheat-free or otherwise)
1 cup milk (soy, almond, oat, rice or hemp milk)
2 tbsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 tsp. gluten-free vanilla extract
Margarine or cooking spray
Cinnamon (optional)
Maple syrup (optional)
Fresh fruit (optional)

  1. Pour 1 cup of milk or milk substitute into a shallow dish.
  2. Whisk 2 tbsp. powdered Ener-G Egg Replacer into milk.
  3. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract to milk mixture.
  4. Soak bread in liquid mixture for 1-2 minutes per side.
  5. Melt 1 tbsp. margarine in a large non-stick pan, or spray liberally with oil. Add more margarine as needed.
  6. Cook bread on medium low heat for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  7. Serve with cinnamon, maple syrup or fruit topping.

Gravy and Creamy Soups

Making gravy without wheat, corn or milk most often creates a greasy mess that would shame your rice or potatoes. So how can you thicken your meat drippings without flour or corn starch? Simply substitute Ener-G Egg Replacer for either one and make your gravy as usual. For creamy soups, gradually whisk in egg replacer until your soup reaches the desired consistency. It couldn’t be simpler.

Hot Chocolate

While hot chocolate isn’t a beverage most people enjoy often, it’s certainly one that’s loved on cold winter nights. Adding egg replacer to traditional recipes thickens your brew and creates a delightful creaminess.


¼ cup allergy-free chocolate chips
1 cup milk substitute
½ tsp. margarine
1 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer
½ tsp. gluten-free vanilla extract (optional)
Pinch of cayenne (optional)

  1. In a double boiler, add ¼ cup chocolate chips.
  2. When chocolate chips begin to melt, add ½ teaspoon margarine.
  3. Gradually whisk in 1 cup milk substitute.
  4. When chocolate is completely melted, whisk in 1 teaspoon Ener-G Egg Replacer.
  5. Add ½ teaspoon vanilla or, for a thoroughly warming experience, a pinch of cayenne.
  6. Carefully pour into a mug and enjoy!


Ener-G Foods, Inc. “Egg Replacer.” 2010.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Communications. “Chapter 2: Profiling Food Consumption in America.” Agriculture Fact Book 2001-2002. March 2003.

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