Grasshopper Bars (paleo, vegan, gluten-free)

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Happy Monday! Did you miss me? I missed you, but you would not have wanted to see what I was eating and cooking last week. After a week and a weekend full of helping pull together our school’s largest fundraising event of the year, I was wiped out — too tired to make anything apart from omelets, really, and the occasional slice of toast.

But this week is different. It seems like spring may have come to Idaho while I was otherwise occupied, and we’re suddenly on the cusp of Earth Day. Those two things have inspired me to jump on the “Green Week” bandwagon — hence this recipe, and the other green ones to follow.

Every Easter, my mom would make Grasshopper Pie, this amazing concoction made of melted mini marshmallows, creme de menthe, and creme de cacao poured into an Oreo cookie crust and chilled until solid. It was, hands down, my favorite part of the holiday, and I even wrote about a slightly fancied-up version in my food column.  Continue reading

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars (vegan, gluten-free)

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Peanut butter and jelly is the savior of the busy, active person. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-grain bread has staying power — whole grains for fiber, nut butter for protein, and jelly for a sweet kick and a burst of energy.

However, I will readily admit that for those who are gluten-free or averse to refined sugar, a standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich might not have the same appeal as it holds for me. The sandwich is also not great for breakfast, not a great way to get a fruit serving, and probably could benefit from less overall processing and wheat flour.

But it’s perfect for a granola bar, one that pairs nicely with an apple or banana for a quick on-the-go breakfast but which can also stand alone as a midday pick-me-up. It’s also vegan, gluten-free and free of refined sugar, making it almost guilt-free as well.

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Chicken Pesto Mushroom Bites (gluten-free, paleo option)

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Seeing people I know from work in other contexts is always so much fun. A co-worker of mine is expecting a baby next month, and I was lucky enough to attend her baby shower last weekend. Over wine, appetizers, and the most delicious mini cheesecakes in Idaho, ten of us laughed, talked, and listened, horrified, to the birth stories the others were sharing with us.

Suffice to say, I am adding to the list of reasons I’m not ready to have children. But I also realized as a result of this shower that I don’t have a single good appetizer recipe that can accommodate a number of dietary restrictions. Hummus is fine, but it needs to go with pita, which is not gluten-free; the mother-to-be doesn’t eat red meat, so my bacon-wrapped dates were out. I debated vegan jalapeno poppers, but that seemed just a little too strange, and more something to spring on my unsuspecting fiance next weekend than something that needed to be good because I was feeding it to other people.

Then, I came up with these mushrooms. Continue reading

Fake Enchiladas (gluten-free, meatless)

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Sometimes, I get a craving for Mexican food. Not just any Mexican food, not the stuff I can get at the restaurant down the street, but ooey-gooey Midwest-meets-Texas, not-at-all-authentic Mexican, the kind where things come out of a can and the whole meal is covered in cheese.

My mother has a recipe for something called “Taco Dip” that calls for sour cream, salsa from a jar, cream cheese, canned beans, canned chili and about half a block of cheddar cheese. My sister, my mom and I would eat it for dinner sometimes when my dad worked nights. The flavors, spicy and rich, were so different from what we usually had — the sour cream blended with the salsa just right, the beans reached the kind of texture you can only get in a microwave, and we’d dig in with awful, salty tortilla chips and scarf down the whole plate.

That taco dip was in the back of my head when I decided to make this casserole. Continue reading

Sausage and Sauerkraut (paleo, gluten-free)

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Have you ever had A Day?

I have, and recently. Actually, I had more like A Week that involved a failed baking project, a lot of personal and professional angst, a fight with my fiance over our wedding guestbook (I know, I know) and a dog who spent the entire week freaking out about the vole that was building a nest just off our back porch.

Plus, it was snowing. An honest-to-goodness snowstorm the likes of which we would have excitedly welcomed during our enormous drought earlier this year, but which in April just seems like a cruel joke.

The only thing that would fix my life this week was to cook something that would warm me to the bone, dispel the goosebumps that seemed to be taking up permanent residence and make my fiance happy — presumably to make up for the guestbook debacle.

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Kale and Quinoa Power Bowl (vegan, gluten-free)

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After Monday’s fake mac and cheese, I felt like I needed more veggies in my life.

Yes, squash is a vegetable, but don’t you just feel more virtuous eating things that are green? I do, for whatever reason, and kale always intensifies that experience. It’s certainly not time for garden salads yet, though, or ethereal whipped things with berries, or bright lemon-infused pesto on zucchini noodles or whatever people eat when it’s not snowing out.

So I had to come up with something green that packs a punch. Continue reading

Squash Mac and Cheese (meatless, gluten-free option)

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It’s sleeting here, following a few dustings of wet, heavy snow. Somehow, it still surprises me when it snows on the cusp of spring — despite having lived in Buffalo, New York, for 22 years and Idaho for almost four, that quintessential April (or May) snowstorm sneaks up on me every time.

I had planned to make something green, spring-like and super-healthy for all of you. Then, my fiance and I drove to our wedding venue on Saturday. There were four inches of snow and slush on the ground; we were worried about making it because the roads were a mess.

After that, all thought of greens flew out the window. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s still winter, and therefore, squash season. So, I made this pasta dish, which has been on my list for ages, but was rejected for the past month because it was “too wintery.” Ha. Continue reading

Bee Sting Bars (paleo, gluten-free)

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When I went Paleo, I thought I would never eat a bee sting pastry again. That was a pretty big blow. Even after I quit Paleo in favor of a more moderate diet, I figured the amount of refined flour and sugar would make it a “sometimes food” at best…and then my favorite baker moved out of town, taking all of her bee stings with her.

For those of you who have never seen one, a “bee sting” is a German pastry, two layers of yeasted cake filled with vanilla custard with a caramelized almond-honey topping. The one I’ve made was an elaborate production, complete with almost burning the custard and having just an awful time splitting the layers. It was a delicious mess, and one I figured I just wouldn’t deal with again.

Until last week, when David Lebovitz posted a recipe for miella, French snack cakes with the same crunchy almond-honey topping. His use of almond flour piqued my curiosity — could I make a gluten-free, even Paleo, version of my all-time favorite pastry? Continue reading

“Almost Springtime” Salad (meatless, gluten-free)

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Confession: This salad came together mostly because I was cleaning out my fridge.

I had planned on just making a sprout salad. But then, I realized I had a random pomegranate sitting in my fridge — I have literally no idea why — as well as a bunch of lacinato kale I hadn’t used, pecans and pepitas leftover from making granola bars, and parmesan cheese that probably should be used sooner rather than later.

A hazy memory of this salad from Bon Appetit (and this adaptation by The Brass Blossom) convinced me that clearly, kale and brussels sprouts could live harmoniously in one salad bowl. Continue reading

Caprese Stuffed Mushrooms (meatless, gluten-free)

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It’s not the season for Caprese salad. There are no good tomatoes out, I am pretty sure basil’s not in season, and who even knows about mushrooms. In Idaho, the local greens are just starting to come out in the stores, thanks to our geothermal greenhouses, but everything else is kind of…well. The tomatoes are still a little faded.

My body didn’t care this week, though. It was craving Caprese salad. Well, actually, it was craving pizza, and while I sometimes indulge, I was not going to this week. Instead, I heavily modified Foodie Crush’s recipe for Pizza-Stuffed Mushrooms and called it a day. Continue reading