Any Kitchen Will Do

Give me a kitchen and I will cook.

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

stuffedsweetpeppersWe had a house full of people this past week. Two waves of them and it was great to visit and spend time with everybody. Considering we are pretty casual people there was no intention of having multiple formal sit down meals, except for one, so I wanted to have the fridge full of ready to eat snacks and sides the accommodate all the diet limitations, preferences and cravings. I also have to talk about these peppers. I love the colors and flavors of sweet peppers.

Some may disagree, but each sweet pepper color does have a different flavor. I have stuffed them before with milder cheese filling, but the gang we had visiting likes a bit of a bite to their food, so the addition of wasabi paste was perfect to go with the smooth cheeses and crispy peppers. After being chilled they only lasted two days as people nibbled through the holiday week, but they seemed to make people happy as they crunched away.

If you are trying to fill your fridge with quick snacks or appetizers, here are a few others you can try, besides these pepper bites with bite: cucumber goat cheese bites, Greek salad on a stick, smoked salmon spread crudite, crunchy cinnamon chickpeas and the ever popular junky nuts. I hope you try some of these recipes and have fun doing it, and don’t forget to leave the kitchen occasionally and enjoy your people this holiday season!

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

24 raw small sweet peppers

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

6 ounce goat cheese, room temperature

1 Tbsp wasabi paste or horseradish

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped black olives

4 green onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

1 tsp sea salt

In a medium bowl combine the cheeses and wasabi. Fold in the olives, onions, garlic, lemon juice and sea salt. Remove the stem from all the peppers, scraping out the membrane and seeds with a small spoon. Using a spoon or fancy piping bag with round tip fill each pepper with the cheese mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

Susan’s Stuffed Chicken Breasts

susansstuffedchickenbreastsWhenever my friends have news, good or bad, I want to cook for them. For good news it is a celebration! For bad news, it is my version of giving comfort. It is born from a habit started long ago when my family. We always celebrated or mourned surrounded by our people over a table full of food. One of my oldest and dearest friends Susan came over with news recently and cooking was definitely a necessity.

She loved it when I made rolled chicken before, so I followed their fowl lead and came up with another rolled beauty. These chicken breasts came out much less dainty and heartily filled us up. Definitely appropriate for the occasion, since Susan has some ass kicking to do in the near future.

As the holiday season draws near there is a lot of feasting and fasting and celebrating. Embrace the time you have with family and friends. Embrace the time hanging out in the kitchen. Embrace the kids playing chase in the house (and the resulting broken vase). Embrace the chill while sipping coffee in the morning. Embrace the hectic days and the slow, lazy days. Embrace each other and yourself. Time passes swiftly so embrace what you have in real time. Embrace. Embrace stuffed chicken breasts because they are most awesome.

Susan’s Stuffed Chicken Breasts

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small bunch fresh parsley, stems removed
3 sprigs fresh oregano, stems removed
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cups (or 2 14-ounce cans) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
12 slices thin deli ham
4 cups grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pot over medium heat add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and garlic. Roughly chop the parskley, oregano and basil leaves. Add all the herbs except about 2 tablespoons to the sauce. Set aside the extra herbs for the top of the dish. When the sauce begins to steam, lower heat let simmer for about 30 minutes then remove from heat.

While sauce is simmering prepare the chicken and stuffing. Finely chop the spinach and artichoke hearts. In a medium bowl combine the artichoke hearts, spinach, onion and lemon juice. Toss until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Spread a piece of wax or parchment paper on the counter, at least twice the size of a single chicken breast. Place a breast in the middle of the paper. Cover the breast with a second piece of paper. With the flat side of a tenderizer mallet (or a regular mallet covered in cling wrap), gently pound the breast, starting from the center and moving towards the edges, until it is 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch thick. Repeat with all the breasts, changing out the paper as needed. Generously season each breast on both sides with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To stuff the chicken clear a work surface. Position nearby a 9×13 inch baking dish. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish. Place a single breast in front of you on your work surface lengthwise. Use two pieces of ham to cover the surface of the breast as much as possible. Sprinkle 1/3 cup of grated cheese on top of the ham. Spoon 1/6 of the spinach artichoke mixture in a row from top to bottom on one side of the breast. Starting on the side nearest the mixture begin rolling the breast,  making sure the left and right ends overlap at least once at the end of the roll. Place the roll seam down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining breasts.

Pour tomato sauce over chicken rolls, leaving 1/4 inch from the top clear of sauce so there is room for it to bubble up to the dish edges. You may have leftover sauce, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese and chopped herbs on top of the sauce. Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove from oven and let sit for ten minutes before serving.


Spinach Artichoke Dip

spinartdippMy moms are awesome. One gave birth to me and is crazy supportive. The other I have known since I was seven, fed and housed me numerous times, then eventually became the bestest mother in law ever. They both love cooking and sometimes generously open up their kitchens to me when I visit. Sometimes I come in with a plan and bags full of groceries. Other times I dig around and see what they have for making a meal. In the past I have made pecan crusted chicken and stuffed mushrooms in my mother in law’s kitchen. Today I took over my mom’s kitchen to become dippy. Again.

Tonight we had a meatless Monday meal. It was accidental, but yummy. We usually figure out a protein and work vegetables and other stuff around it. This time we went the other direction. I made some guacamole with some gorgeous avocados and also made this lovely, cheesy spinach artichoke dip. As is often the case, I opened mom’s well stocked fridge and checked out what was in there to get inspired for dinner. I have made such a dip before, and it was lovely to see the perfect ingredients just sitting there waiting to be made into a dip – spinach, marinated artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream….It is much more mild than my jalapeño popper dip but still cheesy.

The cool thing about this dip is that it freezes easily, so the huge volume will not go to waste – after we head home my mom can store it in the freezer, then pull out leftovers and bake it up for a quick appetizer when her church or book club group comes over. This is a big recipe! It can easily be halved for a smaller dose, but I like making it for parties and pot lucks, so I share below the big version.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

4 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
28 ounces (2 cans) marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp grated Parmesean cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixer bowl add all ingredients. Mix on medium speed for two minutes until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour mixture into 9×9 or larger baking dish and spread top layer evenly. Sprinkle Parmesean cheese on top. Bake for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly. If top has not browned turn on the broiler and let broil until highest points turn brown. Remove from oven and let rest for about ten minutes. Serve with vegetables or other dippable bits.

Curry Peanuts


I love nuts. All kinds. Relying on basic roasted nuts as a staple snack can become a bit boring after a while. There is more to life than salty crunchiness. When that hint of monotony happens I like to whip up a batch with some other flavors.

I came up with these when I had a hankering for Big D’s chicken peanut curry dish. It is so pretty when he adds broccoli and spinach, along with the crunch of peanuts and the spiciness of yellow curry. The green is missing from the nuts, but the crunch and curry is definitely there!

Curry Peanut Crunch

4 cups roasted, salted peanuts
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp red chile powder
½ tsp ground clove

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl combine coconut oil and spices into a paste. Add nuts and toss until coated. Spread nuts on aluminum foil lined baking sheets, no thicker than two layers.

Bake for ten minutes, toss nuts, switch pan levels in oven if baking more than one sheet at a time. Return pans to oven and bake for an additional 5 – 10 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from oven and let sit until completely cooled. Store in air tight container.

Mustard Chicken Salad

mustardchickensaladThere are a number of dishes that are staples in our fridge. Since we do not rely on convenience foods we have to keep a steady flow of prepared dishes that can be pulled out easily to make a quick meal. Things like coleslaw, boiled eggs, carrot and celery sticks, green salad fixings, tuna salad and also chicken salad.

I especially like chicken salad, and my favorite version has walnuts. It is also a great way to use white chicken meat. Buying chicken from sustainable sources is well intentioned, but expensive. We prefer dark chicken meat, but we don’t get picky if the pricey stuff is on sale. Breasts are on sale this week for $2 less a pound? Okay, then that is what we buy. It still is not dark meat, so I like to get creative. This chicken salad is nice and savory with the onion and mustard, and keeps well in the fridge for a big meal or a quick snack. Our power bread made into buns makes for a great conduit when we are seeking out a full meal.

Mustard Chicken Salad

3 large chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
3 boiled eggs, chopped
3 dill pickles, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp sea salt, plus extra for chicken
1 Tbsp dried parsley leaves
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tsp garlic powder, plus extra for chicken
1 tsp ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line shallow baking dish with aluminum foil. Liberally season both sides of breasts with salt and garlic powder. Bake skin side up for 30 minutes on the top shelf of the oven. If you are using boneless skinless breasts cooking time may need to be reduced by five to ten minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Separate bones and skin from breasts. Cut meat into bite-sized cubes.

In a large bowl whisk together the sour cream, mustard, salt, parsley, oregano, garlic powder and black pepper (optional). Add the onion, egg and chicken. Fold in the dressing with the other ingredients until everything is evenly coated. Chill for about 30 minutes to ensure the chicken is cold. Serve with some power bread or fresh vegetables.

Power Bread

powerbunsFor the past year or so we have experimented with creating a simple, healthy substitute for loaf bread and buns. Some of our experiments were successful, but not quite “it.” We first discovered Bred Bread, which is delicious, but quite pricy considering the four cups of almond needed needed to make it. We also came up with some flatbread, but it is a bit fickle and not the best substitute for a bun. Our quick minute muffins do a good job, but just don’t completely do it for us when we want sliced bread.

This. This is it! We call it power bread because of how much protein and fiber you get from a slice or two. Little B has a slice with peanut butter and forgets about food for hours. This is significant because she is a six year old eating machine these days. The bread works like a sponge, filling up your stomach quickly after eating. It is also convenient to have a loaf ready in the fridge, and much less expensive to make without almond meal.

The loaf and bun versions are very popular with the customers of Grain Free Haven, with people stocking up each week at farmers markets and fairs in the Dallas area. I have been told by customers that Stevia is not the purest of ingredients for people following a Paleo diet, but the ingredient can be excluded without a significant impact. We think it works well balancing the coconut flour and flaxseed meal flavors, but it is a subtle effect and the bread is delicious either way.

I hope you make and enjoy our masterpiece! Be careful though, because one serving will fill you and a second may stuff you!

Power Bread

1 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup golden flaxseed meal
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp Stevita (granulated sweetener)
9 eggs, room temperature
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup melted lard, butter or extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine coconut flour, golden flaxseed meal, salt, baking soda and Stevita, then stir until well blended.

In a separate bowl combine eggs and apple cider vinegar. Whisk together until egg whites and yolks are well combined. Add lard/butter/oil to eggs and continue whisking. Add immediately to bowl of dry ingredients.

For one loaf: pour dough into well greased 8 x 4 loaf pan.* This is a smaller loaf, which allows for a square loaf. A larger pan can be used, but you will have more of a rectangular end result. Wet your hands and even out the top of the loaf, making sure it is level and damp. With a dinner fork lightly poke the top of the dough every inch or so. Bake a single loaf, on the center shelf (third shelf from the top) on a shallow baking sheet, for 50-55 minutes.

For 6 buns: well grease six 1-cup ramekins. Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of each, making sure the paper does not run up the sides. Using a large ice cream scoop place two level scoops into each ramekin. Wet your hands even out the top of each bun, making sure each is level and damp. With a dinner fork lightly poke the top of the dough every inch or so. Place all six ramekins on a shallow baking dish as far apart from each other as possible. Bake buns on the center shelf (third shelf from the top) for 28-32 minutes.

*This is a smaller loaf pan than typically used with wheat-based breads. The size allows for a square loaf. A larger pan can be used, but you will have more of a rectangular end result.

Fluffy Pancakes

2015-10-14 10.30.27A few years ago we were living temporarily in a hotel while moving, and had to wrestle with a little kitchenette. Craving pancakes, we concocted a lovely recipe that we have used consistently ever since. I recently decided I wanted to make some fluffier, less coconut-y pancakes and tweaked the recipe. I also considered our interest in having plenty of leftovers, so figured out a quadrupled batch. This version makes about 18 pancakes, so at two pancakes per serving it makes for nine meals (and without the syrup, also a filling snack on the go for Little B).

I caution you about eating more than two at a time without at least ten minutes in between servings. These suckers seem to expand like sponges in the stomach. I at two at 10am this morning and have yet to be hungry now at 8pm. Better than any super food I ever before experienced!

Fluffy Pancakes

1 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp Stevita
1/2 tsp sea salt
11 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, Stevita and salt. In a separate mixer bowl place the eggs, coconut oil and cream. Mix the wet ingredients on medium until combined. Add the dry ingredient mixture and mix on high until well combined and any solid pieces of coconut oil are broken up and incorporated.

Heat a large skillet to medium high. Add a drop fat (about a teaspoon of butter, coconut oil or lard) to the pan and let it heat up. Add 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the batter and gently spread it out into a pancake with approximate diameter of 3″ – 4″. Cook for about two minutes until the bottom of the pancake sets, then flip it over with a large spatula. Cook for about two more minutes until both sides are consistently browned.

An alternative is using a waffle iron – our iron has a flat reverse side, so we can use the flat side, drop two dollops of batter, close the top and cook two pancakes until browned (relying on instructions for your particular waffle iron, if it does such wondrous things).

Repeat with remaining batter until it is gone.

Serve immediately or store in fridge/freezer in air tight container.


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Turmeric is an entertaining ingredient to use. It turns everything it touches a brilliant shade of orange-yellow, so it is sometimes hard to keep the kitchen un-yellow. Be it my hands, the counter, spatula or the food itself, there is no doubt when it was used.

Combining turmeric with the sometimes drab color of cauliflower, it cannot help but brighten up any plate. Big D loves turmeric, and we both take it as a daily anti-inflammatory supplement, so I pulled out our big container of the powder and added some to our lunch’s steamed and seared cauliflower side dish the other day.

Little B came through and asked what was for lunch. When I mentioned steamed cauliflower she excitedly asked if it was going to be mashed….why not?! It was mushed instead of left whole. Our traditional mashed cauli is great, but this yellaflower is quite flavorful and gave wonderful balance to the tomato sauce and cheesy meatballs I served on top of it.

During the gradually darker days of winter I hope this dish gives you some summer sun and joy.


3 Tbsp butter
1 large head cauliflower
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Cut cauliflower into bite sized florets – although it will be mashed later, cooking smaller pieces will let the flavors spread faster. In a medium stock pot over medium heat melt the butter. Add the cauliflower. Stir occasionally until the florets begin to release liquid, about five minutes. Sprinkle with turmeric, salt, ginger, garlic and onion, tossing until the spices coat the florets. Lower temperature and cover, cooking until cauliflower is soft, about five more minutes.

Puree the cauliflower and whipping cream either in the pot with an immersion blender, or by placing the cauliflower and cream in a food processor. The end product should be thick, smooth and bright yellow. Serve immediately in place of rice, polenta or pasta, or as a side dish.

Autumn Apple Chicken Soup

applechickensoupAlthough it is still in the mid-80s and humid here in Texas, my time on the back porch on cool mornings has given me a hankering for chicken soup. After consulting Little B on the contents she desired, specifically apples, I was inspired to tweak a previous snappy and successful chicken soup recipe to honor autumn with apples and some root vegetables. It was a great way to use the meat and juices from half a spatchcocked chicken. The apple, corn and carrot gave the soup a pleasant sweetness while warming and filling our bellies.

This soup can also be made with a traditionally roasted chicken and juices, or some cooked up especially for the soup, along with chicken stock.

You may notice that the the picture has nothing whatsoever to do with soup. That is because I never got a picture of the soup before Little B ate it up. Big D and I each got at least a bowl before Little B at three bowls per meal before it was gone. I substituted soup pictures with a picture Little B took of her lovies (and the leather strip our cat loves killing) after having three bowls of soup for dinner. Enjoy!

Autumn Apple Chicken Soup

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 turnip, chopped
2 celery stalks (plus heart and leaves if available)
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Fuji apple with skin, chopped
Corn stripped from two cobs (or 1 can unsalted corn)
1/3 head cauliflower, chopped
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh lemon thyme leaves
1/3 cup fresh oregano leaves
1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 pound chicken meat, dark and white mixed (from about half a roasted chicken)
4 cups chicken stock, or juices from the roasted chicken plus 3 cups water

In a 3 quart stock pot over medium high heat add oil. When oil is hot (in about 30 seconds) add garlic, onion, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring every few minutes until onions become transparent. Add cauliflower, turnip, apple and corn. Stir and continue to cook for about five minutes.

Add diced tomatoes with juices, chicken and chicken stock (or chicken juices plus water). Stir in basil, thyme, oregano, parsley and salt. Bring soup to a boil.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer for at least one hour. Taste and add salt and pepper to desired level. Serve immediately or let cool, then store in an air tight container.

300th Sausage Herb Frittata

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One or two days a week I do Grain Free Haven baking and roasting marathons to prepare special order and market products. Markets and special orders usually need delivery or pick up on weekend days, so the marathons tend to land on Thursday or Friday. These are also days when the week’s groceries are dwindling, with bits and pieces littering the refrigerator shelves and drawers. On marathon days I like to have family cooking done early for the whole day. Busy baking days and using bits and pieces make dishes like soups and frittatas so appealing. Meats and vegetables go together so well in so many combinations, it is easy to combine them and bind with eggs or broth. They are honorable, filling dishes that help me significantly reduce possible food waste, the thought of which makes me very sad.

In the past I have made versions with salmon and a meaty version. This week Big D made some spicy breakfast sausage that had lovely flavors, but was a skidge salty. We also had some standards in the pantry, like eggs, onions and turnips, so here is what I came up with. It filled up the family all day, both hot right out of the oven in the morning and cold right out of the fridge later in the day. The skillet was empty and bellies were full. Just the way I like it.

I also just realized that this is my 300th post to this blog! It has taken me over 3 1/2 years to get here. I look back in wonder on where I started and where I am now – personally, professionally, nutritionally and emotionally it has been quite a ride. It started out as a way to record recipes so that friends, family and I could find them easily, and also record the antics of my little family. It became a journey about nutrition and food sensitivities, and helped launch a cottage food business that is helping me support said little family. I may not post as frequently now as I did when I started, but I plan on continuing to create and share our journey. Thanks for joining me and thanks to all the people that lent me their kitchens!

300th Sausage Herb Frittata

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound spicy breakfast sausage
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 large turnip, chopped
1 tsp sea salt (you may need more, depending on saltiness of sausage)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 Tbsp dried basil leaves
1 Tbsp dried oregano leaves
6 large or 7 medium eggs
2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 cup shredded co-jack cheese

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a 10″ iron skillet* heat the oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and turnip. Sauté about four minutes until onions are translucent and garlic is browning. Add sausage, stir and cook for about five minutes until sausage is heated through. While sausage is heating up break eggs into a medium bowl, along with salt, pepper, parsley, basil, oregano and cream. Whisk together until egg whites and yolks are well mixed.

Remove skillet from heat.

Pour egg mixture over contents of skillet and stir until egg mixture and sausage/vegetable mixture are well combined. Sprinkle cheese on top of the egg, sprinkling a little more parsley, basil and oregano if you like (I do).

Place skillet on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Move skillet to top rack and bake for ten more minutes. Remove from oven. The center of the frittata should be a little puffy. Let sit for about five minutes before serving – the puffiness will settle while it cools. Serve immediately.

*This frittata can be made in a oven proof baking dish if you don’t have the noted iron skillet size, just make sure it is no larger than 10″x10″ to ensure the mixture is thick enough to prevent drying out when it is baked thoroughly enough. If an iron skillet is not used, additional baking time may be needed (about 5-8 minutes), since iron skillets speed up cooking time.

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