Category Archives: recipes

Left-Over-Chicken Black Bean Soup

black bean soupThe Hubs hates “chicken on the bone,” as we call it at our house. Hates it. His dad doesn’t like it, so he never really had it growing up. Unfortunately, it is much cheaper than buying boneless chicken breasts, so with our ever-tightening budget, I figured out that if I make a bunch of chicken on the bone, he will eat it in other things (once it’s been de-boned, of course!).

I made this soup the other night and it will definitely be one I make again and again. It was fast, easy and delicious. I was actually excited to eat the leftovers the next day for lunch (and that’s saying a lot because I detest leftovers).

Black bean soup chickenIngredients (Please keep in mind I didn’t measure anything, I just eye-balled it):

  • 8 oz shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbl sp cilantro
  • 2 cans prepared black beans (I used the Aldi, “Dakota Brand”)
  • 1 can Mexican Tomatoes (i.e. Rot-Tel — I actually used the Hy-Vee generic brand)
  • 1 box chicken broth (I used the Aldi GF Broth)
  • the juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbl sp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red  pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Black bean soup saute veggiesPreparations:

Saute chopped celery, onion and crushed red pepper in olive oil until caramelized. Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer until soup is hot and to your desired thickness. Serve with Fritos Corn Chips sprinkled on top for a nice added bean soup with Fritos

Ham & Black Bean Lime Rice

cuban rice 2The Hubs made this dish last night in an effort to get rid of some of our leftover Easter Ham. At first he was calling it Cuban Sandwich Black Beans and Rice, but when we Googled recipes for Cuban Sandwiches, we realized the only ingredients that were similar were ham… so, he renamed it. I realize that this isn’t lime rice, but lime black beans, but well, “black bean lime rice” rolls off the tongue a little better!


  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 5 oz chopped cooked ham
  • 1 can prepared black beans (16 oz)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 T cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1/2 T oil (we used canola)

Sweat the garlic and onions in the oil on medium heat. Add the chopped ham, cilantro and cumin and cook at medium heat ’til it is warmed. Add the beans and cook on medium heat until fully heated. Mix the sugar and lime juice together and add at the end. Pour over prepared rice and enjoy!


FREE allergy-friendly cookbook!!!

enjoy life e-cookbookHey, I wanted to share this FREE cookbook that Enjoy Life Foods has put on their Web site. It is a free download that is full of Top-8 and Gluten-Free recipes that I am excited to try.

I already own Enjoy Life’s Cookies for Everyone!: 150 Delicious Gluten-Free Treats that are Safe for Most Anyone with Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities and it not only has great recipes but also tips on things like egg-replacer and how to stock an allergy-friendly kitchen. It is a must for anyone new to gluten-free and allergy-friendly cooking (as well, and anyone who wants good cookies…).

I really enjoy most of the products made my this company because I never EVER have to glance at the ingredients. And that’s a nice change…

Bumps on a Rock & Bumps on a Stump

bumps on a rock

Bump on a Rock

bumps on a stump

Bumps on a Stump







This is a play on the great snack from my childhood “bumps on a log” made with celery, raisins and peanut butter. Unfortunately, celery is too hard for Manimal to chew, but I have found a fun solution he loves – and it’s gluten-free, corn-free and top-8 free to boot!

Finding fun, healthy, allergy-friendly snacks for little ones can be difficult. Also, because peanut butter is a no-no for my kids, I often have trouble getting them to eat protein during the day without busting out the leftover meat from the night before.

I love making this snack for Manimal – he loves that they are bite sized, and I love that they are healthy and safe for him (Lil Z likes all three ingredients, but won’t eat it unless it is “deconstructed” because he has aversions to mixing of foods… sigh).


  • Sliced bananas (the stumps)
  • Rice Chex (the rocks)
  • Raisins (the bumps)
  • Sunflower seed butter (I have been using Sunbutter’s, and it is really good, but soybeans are roasted on the same line and I think it has been bothering Manimal… so I am on a quest to find a new version).

Do I really need to explain how to make it? Just look at the pics!

Manimal enjoying bumps on rocks

Manimal enjoys his bumps on rocks.

What are some allergy-friendly, kid-friendly snacks you make at your house?

Hodgson Mill Pancakes – Egg-Free version

HM pancakesIf you’ve spent any time reading through this site, you may have seen that I have a recipe for pancakes that I got from the cookbook, Cookies for Everyone. It is great if you or your little one is sensitive to corn and eggs, or you are still working your way through an elimination diet. They really are delicious pancakes, but they are a lot of work because you have to do a lot of flour mixing and make your own superfine sugar (because I still can’t find a store that sells it!).

In the last couple of years I started using the Hodgson Mill’s Gluten Free pancake mix. There are a lot of GF pancake mixes out there, but so many of them either have soy or are ridiculously expensive (like $7 a box — outrageous!). I discovered the Hodgson Mill brand at my local Walmart for $3.60ish a box. It is well worth the extra money I pay to save time and not have to mix my flours.

too thick pancakes

This is what always seems to happen with HM pancakes. I just add more milk.

One thing I’ve noticed with it though, is that the measurements on the liquid are off. I always end up using more milk than is called for because the batter is way too thick if I don’t.

I usually use eggs in mine, now that I know my boys can tolerate eggs; however, I made this particular batch for those of you who are intolerant/allergic to eggs. My tip for those of you who are just going gluten free, or who don’t like the taste of GF pancakes — use lots of cinnamon. It really helps mask the flavor of the different flours, and it helps control blood sugar — extra bonus.

Side note: I have a love affair with cinnamon. Behind salt and pepper, it is my favorite spice. I am kinda mad at gum companies since many of them stopped making sugar-free cinnamon gum. I feel like you can never have enough cinnamon!

Egg replacement: Mix 1 Tbsp ground flax seed with 2 Tbsp water. Let sit for 2-3 minutes ’til it gets gummy.


1 cup HM Pancake Mix

1½ cups allergy-friendly milk (I now use almond milk, but rice milk works well too)

1 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp guar gum (optional – this helps GF recipes rise more like wheat flour; I use it in all my GF baking because I have a huge tub of this stuff).

1 egg or use egg replacement (see above)

1 Tbsp cinnamon

Z mix pancakesJPG

Liz Z gettin’ in on the mixin’ action.

boys pancakes

Manimal and Z scream in delight over their pancakes.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Blend the wet and dry ingredients together (but don’t over mix). If the batter is too thick, add more liquid until it is the consistency that you want. Cook on medium-high skillet. Flip pancakes over when bubbles form on the top. When the pancakes are golden brown, they are done. Enjoy!

Quick Cilantro-Lime Pork Tacos – Gluten and Top 8 free

quick pork tacosI recently bought several pounds of pork loin at Hy-Vee when it was on sale, and I have been trying to figure out interesting ways to prepare it (other than putting it in a crock pot, which is what I usually do because I’m lazy).

This was really tasty, but it turned out a little spicy for Manimal. The kid still ate it, so it must not have been that bad. Surprisingly, his favorite part of the meal wasn’t the meat, which he usually gobbles; it was the green peppers and onions — which he usually hates. So that is saying something!


  • 1 lb pork loin, trimmed and cubed (mine was slightly frozen, so it was easy to do this)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp oil (I used canola)
  • 1/2 onion sliced large onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced into “fajita” strips
  • 1 cup allergy-friendly broth (store-bought or make your own)
  • 1 Tbl sp dried cilantro (use fresh if you have it!)
  • 1 Tbl Sp Lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • taco shells/tortilla shells (I used Mission 6-inch corn tortillas)Green peppers

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add oil to the pan and saute the pork for around 4 minutes until it is golden brown. Remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Saute the onions and bell peppers in the same pan for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the broth, cumin, crushed red pepper, lime juice and cilantro. Turn down the heat and let simmer ’til the broth cooks out (10 minutes or so).

Eat in a taco shell of your choice. The hubs and I ate ours in hard-shelled tacos (fewer calories), but Lil Z and Manimal had theirs in deep-fried corn tortillas. I know a lot of people (mid-westerners who don’t have a mom who grew up in Southern California) who don’t know the proper way to prepare a corn tortilla. If this is you, feel free to follow this link to find out how to fry a corn-tortilla taco so it tastes good!

Corn Tortillas – how do you make them taste good?

mission corn tortillaquick pork tacos  cinni chips

For the last several months, my niece Hannah has been having lots of stomach pain, and her smart mama (Melinda) wondered if perhaps she was gluten or dairy intolerant. She put my niece on a Gluten Free, dairy-free diet, and voila, pretty much overnight, my niece felt better.

Well, I saw that Hannah had been eating rice tortillas and I said to her mom that she could have corn tortillas because they are gluten-free. But my sister-in-law, who grew up in land-locked prairie said, “But they taste terrible. They are so dry.”

And it hit me. I had met several people from the mid-west who hated corn tortillas because they said they tasted terrible. They didn’t know they should be fried!

So, forgive me readers, if this seems like a dumb post, but if you want a good corn tortilla, you have to fry it to make it crispy. It then becomes AMAZING.


  • heat cast iron or heavy skillet on high heat (don’t use teflon – it gets too hot and can make toxic fumes when it gets too hot)
  • add a relatively light-tasting oil (I like canola, but corn is OK, too) to the pan and let it get hot for a few seconds.
  • Test to see if the oil is hot enough by dipping the end of the tortilla in the pan. If the oil bubbles and sizzles, it is ready. If it doesn’t bubble, it isn’t hot enough yet. if you have a thermometer, the oil should be between 350 and 380 degrees (I don’t have a thermometer, btw).
  • When the oil is ready, place the tortilla in the pan and turn down the heat to medium-high
  • If you are making a taco, place the ingredients on one side of the tortilla and fold the tortilla in half with a fork (make sure the tortilla is soft enough to bend but not fried hard hard).Pork tacos
  • Monitor that the oil doesn’t get too hot. If it starts to smoke, you have the heat too high, or you haven’t used enough oil.

It takes practice, but you’ll get the hang of it and soon be making awesome homemade tacos and tortilla chips!