On the Menu for the Week {Getting Back Into the Routine}

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4

Eggs over medium with sour cream & green tomatillo salsa at Flying Biscuit

Zatarain’s New Orleans Style Jambalaya Mix with bell pepper, onions, and sausage

Buffalo chicken crack dip {corn} quesadillas

Ginger & cumin marinated tomatoes

Cool as a cucumber salad

Chicken satay with peanut sauce

Spinach and garlic butter steak pinwheels


Peanut Lime Sauce with Chicken and Rice Noodles

Photo credit

It’s very rare that I actually measure ingredients when I prepare dishes, but I was determined to make this recipe easily replicable. I served it with chicken, rice noodles, and vegetables {see below} but you could also use it as a dipping sauce! Either way, this easy no-cook peanut sauce is adaptable and pretty dang delicious!

Serves 1.

Peanut Lime Sauce
  • 2 tbsp smooth or crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tsp soy sauce {I use gluten-free Tamari}
  • 1-2 tbsp peanuts
  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1-2 small clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • Several dashes of cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients; stir or blend in Magic Bullet until well-mixed. Store in fridge until needed.

Chicken & Rice Noodles
  • Julienned carrots
  • Chopped jalapenos
  • Thinly sliced onions
  • Cilantro
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sriracha

Prepare chicken using this method or buy a rotisserie chicken if you’re pressed for time! Prepare rice noodles according to package. In a small skillet, saute carrots, onions, and jalapenos over medium with olive oil until tender. If desired, heat peanut sauce in skillet.

Layer rice noodles, chicken, and vegetables in bowl; pour peanut sauce over; and garnish with cilantro, sesame seeds, and sriracha.
  • For best results, leave sauce in refrigerator overnight. This will allow the flavors to blend completely
  • I bought a rotisserie chicken, tore it into pieces, and let it sit in the sauce overnight to marinate. You could do the same with chicken breasts
  • You could also garnish with basil or mint
  • This dish can be served hot or cold; I prefer it hot
  • Make it vegetarian just by leaving off the chicken

Peach & Tomato Summer Salad

Remember when I mentioned that the July section of my Cooking Light cookbook focuses heavily on peaches? After reading that, I stumbled across flats of peaches at Trader Joe’s for $5.99 and decided to pick one up. Mine has 13 peaches in it, so it equals out to about $.46 per peach- not bad!

Now that I’m a wild child who makes sweet and savory salads {like watermelon & feta!}, I decided to try a peach & tomato summer salad from MyRecipes.com. It turned out so well and I would absolutely make it again. It would be the best salad to take to a July potluck!

For exact measurements, see the recipe or just follow my haphazard winging it approach (serves 1).

  • Chopped red onion
  • 1/2 ripe peach, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 large tomato or a handful or cherry tomatoes
  • A dash of red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil
  • A very small spoonful of honey
  • A dash each of sea salt and ground pepper
  • A small handful of crumbled feta cheese
  • A sprinkling of torn basil leaves
Combine all ingredients and let marinate anywhere just a few minutes or overnight.

Next on my peach agenda? Peach salsa!

Mexican Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

Remember when I made Mexican chocolate bark back in the day? I got the idea to recreate a Mexican chocolate {basically cayenne + cinnamon} recipe as cheesecake. A quick Google search gave me a few recipe options but I liked this one best.

I eliminated the crust and used a cupcake tin, so I ended up with gluten-free cheesecake bites! But what I’m most proud of is figuring out that you can replace whipping cream with an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt to make the recipe healthier. That means Chobani will be getting even more business from me 🙂


Make 12 cupcake-sized cheesecakes.

  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 12 oz ( 1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if desired, adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a cupcake tin.

In saucepan, boil 2 cups of water over medium. Place a heatproof bowl on top and drop in chocolate chips. Melt, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add in Greek yogurt.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and vanilla with mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Stir in chocolate mixture.

Pour into cupcake tin, leaving room at the top for cheesecake to rise slightly. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon and a dash or two of cayenne pepper over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly. Turn oven off; open oven door 4 inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes. After removing cake from oven, run a metal spatula around the edge of pan. Cool on rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

I’m obsessed! They’re incredibly rich, so I usually eat just half of one at a time.

I’m also loving the interesting combination of chocolate and spiciness- I keep seeing it everywhere. The other day, I read that some celebrity spreads sriracha on her chocolate bars! And Locopops sells Mexican chocolate popsicles and Videri Chocolate Factory sells a chocolate bar with pink peppercorns in it.

Any other Mexican chocolate recipes that you love? What other flavor combinations are you a fan of?

We all know I love salted caramel!

Mexican Casserole Variations

When I saw Fannetastic Food’s super easy and adaptable Mexican Chicken Lasagna, I decided to make it as a part of the four course Mexican-inspired meal I was planning to whip up.

I decided to make two different versions of the casserole- one vegetarian and one with chicken. Both had plenty of beans though!

On the big one:
  • Corn tortillas
  • Shredded chicken
  • Chopped red onion
  • Black olives
  • Yellow and green sauteed peppers
  • Salsa
  • Canned green chiles (on half)
  • Chopped jalapenos (on other half)
  • Cheddar cheese

On the smaller one:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Chopped red onion
  • Refried beans
  • Black olives
  • Shredded zucchini
  • Salsa
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Corn (cut off the cob)
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Enchilada sauce

I lined both pans with corn tortillas (6 in total)

Next up: refried beans for the smaller one; kidney and black beans for the bigger one

Corn and zucchini for the small one; sauteed yellow and green peppers for the large one

Ready for the oven!

Cover the casseroles with tin foil and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes {until the cheese is melted}. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better!

A sample of both versions served with spiced tomato & chickpea soup and watermelon & feta salad


If I had my choice, I would have used flour tortillas, but the corn tortillas ended up tasting great anyway- and they’re gluten-free.

Pepper jack cheese would be good in addition to or in place of cheddar cheese.

I made the big one with sour cream and the smaller one with plain Greek yogurt- in the future, I would just use Greek yogurt because it’s healthier and you can’t taste a difference!

The chopped jalapenos were a bit intense {even for me!} so I would stick to sauteed jalapenos or the canned green chiles next time.

on the menu for the week

 Little squish squash assembly

Crawfish, corn on the cob, and red potatoes {my first crawfish boil experience!}

Half and half gluten-free pizza {half sorrel, leek, & potato pizza and half oriental squash & pepper jack cheese pizza}

Quinoa stuffed pattypan squash {I can finally use up some of my saffron!}

Tri-colored pepper salad

Gallery Place burger {recreation of a spicy burger from Clyde’s; fajita spice rub, caramelized jalapenos and onions, pepper jack cheese, and spicy ranch sauce}

Korean pickled vegetables

link roundup for the week

I love this post from The New Professional on doing what you love or loving what you do {not necessarily the same, but also not necessarily mutually exclusive}.

Yes and Yes has become one of my favorite blogs- I love that it highlights interesting topics, stories, and debates and isn’t just a clone of every other lifestyle blog out there. Check out Let’s Stop Pretending It’s Always Easy and On Privacy, Honesty, Other Bloggers, and Oversharing.

Love this post on changing “yes but” to “yes and”

I need to do this gluten-free Raleigh bar crawl {though I wasn’t crazy about Lilly’s when I went}! And speaking of gluten-free, here is a great post from Gluten Free Girl on some of the lessons she learned from traveling gluten-free. On a related note: I bought San-J gluten-free soy sauce packets to take for on-the-go sushi!

I was really moved by The Freedom of Not Needing to Be Right on Tiny Buddha, where the tagline is “simple wisdom for complex lives.”

Have you seen this image? The words that immediately jump out at you are supposed to describe you. I really hope my first doesn’t describe me but my third word was passionate, which I think is fitting.

Props to Heather on what turned out to be an amazing collaborative photo shoot gone right– I love the pictures!

Here’s some great advice on changing your environment in order to change your behavior from my friend Austin, who is currently in Taiwan.

The new Evernote Food might be my new way to track what I order at a restaurant so I don’t forget for the next time I go!

What did you read on the internet this week? 

black bean & corn mexican pizza

The other day my friend spontaneously decided to come by, so I promised said friend a homemade lunch without checking my fridge first. Upon inspection, I realized I had a fairly limited selection of choices- leftover gluten-free pizza crust, a Tupperware of rather thick black bean soup, and half a can of corn. Frugality and creativity took over and I decided to combine the ingredients to make a Mexican-inspired black bean and corn pizza (I made a basic tomato sauce and mozzarella half too!).

For the black bean sauce: in a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium. Add a chopped clove of garlic and saute until golden brown. Add 1/2 can of rinsed and mashed black beans, 1/2 a chopped jalapeno, a small handful of cilantro, and a dash each of salt, pepper, red chili peppers, and garlic powder. Allow to simmer over low, adding vegetable or chicken broth as needed. The sauce should be thick but moist. 

Spread prepared black bean sauce/soup over pre-cooked pizza crust. Sprinkle with canned corn, canned green chilies, and chopped cilantro. Add chopped red onion and mozzarella cheese if desired! Cook at 425 for 15-18 minutes.

Such an easy way to use up leftover ingredients! From experience, this pizza is best enjoyed with a friend on a balcony on a beautiful North Carolina day with an adorable dog at your feet and a Starbucks iced coffee by your side 🙂

tuscan white bean gluten-free pizza

When I was trying to figure out pizza toppings, I remembered my recent Tuscan white bean soup soup and decided to go with a Tuscan theme again. I had leftover cannelli beans from my spicy sriracha bean dip, so I turned to Google for inspiration and found a great recipe on Vegan Planet.
 First I prepped my gluten-free Red Mill pizza crust. I only used half of it, which filled my whole pizza pan.
 I wrapped up the other half for later use!
 Pizza toppings laid out and ready to go

  • White cannelli beans
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Chopped roasted red pepper
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • A sprinkling of dried red chili peppers
  • Caramelized onions
  • Feta

Roast red pepper in a 400 degree oven. Bake for 20 minutes on each side; remove from oven and wrap in tin foil. After about 30 minutes, peel skin off {it should come off easily}. If you’d like, buy jarred roasted red peppers.

Caramelize onions {mine were already prepared, which cut down on prep time}.

In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium. When the oil is hot, add chopped garlic and saute until it becomes aromatic. Add cannelli beans and heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash with a fork. 

Spread bean mixture and tomato paste onto pre-cooked pizza crust. Layer with other ingredients except feta. Bake for 10 minutes at 425. Sprinkle with feta; bake for 5-8 more minutes.


weekend gluten challenges

Photo credit

During the week, I am a gluten-free champ. I cook and consume gluten-free superfoods and am rarely tempted to break my gluten-free pattern.

And then the weekend comes and it’s like a gluten-filled free-for-all. I eat breakfast sandwiches and biscuits, order late night pizza, sip Bud Light, and basically undo all my hard weekday work.

I’m on a mission to change that. Here’s a few simple tactics I’ve thought of:

  • Order San J Gluten-Free Soy Sauce Packets; store some in my purse and car to use with sushi or other Asian food
  • Grab a Chobani yogurt and piece of fruit or a homemade smoothie instead of a breakfast sandwich
  • Stock up on gluten-free beer for home and drink mixed drinks when I’m out. Joseph James Brewing Company now offers a canned gluten-free beer, meaning I could still shotgun if they distributed to NC 🙂
  • Order crunchy corn tacos instead of flour tortillas at Mexican restaurants
  • Use the Find Me Gluten Free app on my Droid
  • Check Foursquare for suggestions that other gluten-free people leave behind in the tips section
  • Familiarize myself with fast food gluten-free options {like the crunchy bean tacos at Taco Bell}
  • Just say no. I don’t need late night pizza, I don’t need Bud Light, and I don’t need a biscuit at breakfast
  • Remember that one gluten-filled meal isn’t worth feeling less than great for the next day or two

Any other suggestions for staying gluten-free throughout the weekend?