This Easter we tried a new twist on our asparagus side dish and we loved it! We adapted this recipe from Food Network Kitchen making just a few tweaks. The whole family really enjoyed this new dish and requested we make it often. Whether you make it for a side dish, appetizer, or for brunch it will definitely be a hit! Enjoy 😋
Springtime Asparagus & Cheese Tart
A bed of puff pastry, fontina & gruyere cheese, and asparagus makes this a refreshing change to plain old veggies.
1 11" x 15" rimmed baking sheet inside measurement
1 large skillet
1bunchasparagus, trimmed approximately 1-1.5" only.
1sheetfrozen puff pastry, thawed
all-purpose flour , for dusting
1cupfontina cheese, grated
1cupgruyere cheese, grated
2Tablespoonminced shallot, may substitue with minced onion
fresh ground pepper
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
In a large skillet bring 1" of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2-5 minutes until bright green, crisp tender depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Drain and transfer to the ice bath to stop cooking; drain & pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
On a lightly floured clean surface, roll out thawed puff pastry into an 11" x 15" rectangle (to fit your pan). Line your baking sheet with parchment paper then transfer the rolled-out pastry into the pan. Prick all over with a fork.
Bake until light golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan.
While cooling the puff pastry, mix the fontina, gruyere, shallot or onion, egg yolks, milk, nutmeg, salt & pepper in a bowl until combined.
Once puff pastry is cooled, spread the cheese mixture evenly over the puffed pastry, leaving a 1" border on all sides.
Toss the asparagus with EVOO, 1/4 tsp salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange asparagus onto the tart and bake until the cheese mixture is slightly puffy, 15-20 minutes. Garnish with lemon zest.
Thai Sweet Chili Chicken Gluten-Free - Twiins Style
It's no secret our second favorite cuisine after Italian is Thai. Who can resist crispy, tender chicken bites coated in a scrumptious sweet chili & sesame seed sauce just like your favorite Thai restaurant? Since we haven't been going out during this pandemic, we wanted to reproduce the meals we would order at a restaurant. Tonight we served it over Jasmine brown rice which soaks up the flavorful sweet chili sauce. Our husbands gave us rave reviews so we hope your family will too. Try this recipe for a quick & easy weeknight meal or impress your friends & family with great appetizers once you can gather again. 😋😋
deep skillet or wok
oil for frying (peanut or canola or olive)
4 large skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½-inch cubes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)
3/4 cup corn starch
1½ cups Thai sweet chili sauce (store-bought or homemade, check the label to make sure it’s GF)
1/3 cup sliced green onions
2-3 Tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a small, dry skillet
2 cups brown jasmine rice
4 cups gluten-free chicken broth
Place brown jasmine rice in a medium bowl filled with cold water, enough to cover rice. Set aside for 20 minutes. (soaking in water helps breakdown the bran and keeps the rice from sticking together.)
While the rice is soaking, use this time to start prepping the chicken & the remainder of ingredients.
After 20 minutes, drain the rice and place in a medium saucepan. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, lower heat to a low simmer and cover. Cover and cook approximately 40 minutes, check after 30 minutes.
Using a shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt & pepper and mix well.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
Dip each piece of chicken into the egg then roll into the flour mixture to coat well. Repeat with all of the chicken pieces.
Heat about 3-inches of oil in a wok or deep skillet. Make sure oil is very hot before adding dredged chicken.
Fry 5-8 pieces of chicken at a time, depending on the width of your skillet, until golden brown. Do not overcrowd as it will cause the chicken to steam instead of crisping.
Remove and drain on paper towels then repeat until all the chicken is cooked.
Heat chili sauce until hot. Pour over the chicken bites to combine. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
Spread cooked rice on a plate and top with sweet chili chicken bites. Garnish with extra green onions and enjoy!
Prep all ingredients
Frying dredged chicken pieces in a wok
Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet
Place cooked chicken bites on paper towels to absorb excess oil
Thai Sweet Chili Chicken ready to serve
Plate & ready to eat & enjoy!
NOTE: If you want to include more vegetables in your meal, steam some broccoli or cut green beans and add to the chicken before serving.
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This year, 2020, we finally have an abundance of figs from one of Gary's fig trees. He has been growing 2 fig trees for 4 years here in North Carolina. The one we transplanted from our NY home is not as big as the one we purchased here in NC so the figs I used in this recipe are from the NC fig tree. The first couple of years the figs were so sparse that we were lucky to get a few to pop in our mouths for the whole season. In contrast, today we picked so many figs that now we can be creative with different ways to prepare and enjoy them. This fig sauce is so simple to make, does not require any tedious canning, and is delicious with Feta cheese or goat cheese on a cracker, meat & cheese board, or topping chicken or pork. It's naturally sweet without the addition of any sugar, and it's naturally gluten-free. We love it and so do the hubbies! 😋 😋
2 cups ripe figs, stems removed and cut-in-half
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (ready-made is fine)
6 Tablespoons quality Balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients together. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer at least 20-30 minutes until figs are soft enough to mash & liquid is 3/4 evaporated. (It may take longer)
Using a potato masher, mash the mixture. It should look like a loose jam but not watery.
Remove from the heat. Spoon onto your favorite protein or use as an appetizer with goat cheese & crackers.
Note: This recipe can be served at room temperature as an appetizer or hot over your protein. It can be made ahead of time & stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. Will keep for several days refrigerated.
Barbara and I have been in a breakfast rut lately...sick of the same old oatmeal, cereal, plain eggs or just a cup of coffee. During these times of social distancing and staying at home, more than ever we need to be creative in the kitchen and treat ourselves to some fun ways to enjoy breakfast. While making chicken parmigiana for dinner the other night we had some leftover egg mixture, breadcrumbs, and some baby spinach leaves. Just by adding a few simple ingredients, we came up with a make-ahead breakfast meal we could enjoy the next morning. It was so easy and is sure to please. Any leftover cooked vegetable will work in this recipe...zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, peas or any combination of your favorite veggies. You can make these as a side for any meal too. Be creative and Enjoy! ❤️😋
4 large eggs
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon milk (any milk will do)
6-7 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs (substitute Gluten-Free seasoned breadcrumbs if gluten is an issue)
3 tablespoons Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
2 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed, chopped into medium size bites
1-2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
1/4 tsp salt + /- to taste
black pepper to taste
1 pat of butter
1-2 Tablespoons of EVOO
In a medium bowl add 4 large eggs and the milk. Whisk until scrambled well.
Add salt, pepper, onion powder, thyme, oregano, garlic, bread crumbs, and grated cheese. Mix well and set aside for 10-15 minutes for the breadcrumbs to absorb liquid. You should have a medium liquid texture, not a thick paste.
In a large skillet heat butter & EVOO until hot on medium heat. When oil & butter start to sizzle, using a large tablespoon, drop mixture into the hot skillet. No more than 4 at a time. Cook 1-1½ minutes until golden brown. Flip over and cook another 1-1½ minutes until golden brown. If browning to quickly lower the heat a bit.
Remove from skillet and place on paper towels to drain & cool completely.
Once cooled pack in an airtight glass or plastic food storage container and refrigerate. These fritters will last up to 3 days in the refrigerator if they don’t disappear on the first day!
These can actually be served cold or heated in a toaster oven or microwave.
Notes: These fritters can be made gluten-free by substituting with gluten-free seasoned breadcrumbs.
Have you ever noticed the big difference between Greek Pita Bread from your grocery store and the ones served in a Greek restaurant? Whenever we eat gyros or souvlaki at a Greek restaurant we always remark how good the pita bread is. Store-bought brands just don't cut it! We decided to try making our own when we came across what looked like an easy recipe. As it turned out the recipe was very easy and after making them we were hooked! No more store-bought for us. This recipe makes fluffier, more tender & much more flavorful pita bread and you'll never want to go back to store-bought again! There are so many uses for pita bread. Whether to scoop up an appetizer dip like hummus, tzatziki or eggplant spread or to be used in place of sandwich bread for gyros or souvlaki, they will definitely stand out and delight! 😋
160 ml whole milk, room temperature
80 ml water, room temperature
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 tsp dry yeast
320 g bread flour (aka Hard flour due to the higher protein content)
1 tsp fleur de sel
1½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon EVOO, for frying
salt & Pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, water & milk. Set aside until the mixture starts to froth, about 5 minutes.
In a larger bowl, combine the flour, salt, and chopped fresh thyme leaves. Stir well.
Add the EVOO to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture a little at a time. Make sure each batch added is well incorporated before adding more.
Transfer mixture to a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 4-5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth.
Brush a large bowl with a little EVOO then add the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest 40 minutes until it doubles in size.
Place a flat non-stick griddle pan over medium heat. Let the pan get hot.
Lightly oil your work surface then press on the dough to remove the air and cut it into 6 equal size pieces (or as close to equal as you can).
Using a rolling pin, roll out a ball of dough to a circle about 7-8 inches in diameter. (Mine came out a little rectangular so I went with it!)
The griddle or pan will be hot enough now. Place the first pita bread directly on the hot griddle and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. Once they start to puff up, use tongs to flip over and cook 1-2 minutes. You will have nicely browned or charred bubbles. Remove from heat and place on a serving dish. Continue cooking the remaining dough balls, 1 pita bread at a time until finished.
Sprinkle with chopped thyme before serving.
Serve warm with chicken gyros, souvlaki, hummus, or tzatziki sauce.
Notes: While the first pita bread is cooking, roll out the next one so it’s ready to go in the hot pan as soon as you remove the cooked one.
Recipe adapted from Akis Petretzikis.
Roll out each dough ball into an 8″ round.
Place rolled out dough on medium heated griddle
Greek Pita Bread, not exactly round but oh so delicious!
Greek Pita Bread, tomatoes, chopped cucumber & green onions.
Whenever we go out together for dinner we always order fried calamari if it's on the menu. Unfortunately for Jack, restaurants never make it gluten-free. This leaves him feeling left out and having to settle for soup or salad. We decided to test a gluten-free batch that he would enjoy at home. Turns out they were so good you can't tell the difference. So if any of your loved ones need to eat gluten-free, give this recipe a try. Who needs restaurants when you can serve up a tender batch in no time at all!
1 lb calamari – fresh or frozen & thawed.
3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Flour
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt, more or less to taste
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
vegetable oil for frying
dipping sauce of your choice (Red Chili Pepper Spread, marinara sauce, chipotle mayo, etc.)
Rinse under cold water and dry the calamari well using paper towels or a clean dishtowel. Slice into 1/2-inch rings.
In a medium bowl, mix the gluten-free flour and seasonings. Combine well.
Toss rings into the flour mixture to coat well.
Fry small batches at a time in hot vegetable oil for 1½ – 2 minutes; don’t exceed 2 minutes or they will be overcooked & rubbery. They should be a pale golden color.
When cooked, remove quickly to paper towels to drain excess oil then repeat for the next batch.
Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce or eat them just as they are.
Sliced calamari rings & tentacles
Toss in seasoned gluten-free flour
Rings after flour coating
Frying the tentacles first
Frying the rings
Served warm with Red Chili Pepper Spread or your favorite dipping sauce
These quick and easy Roast Beef Roll-Ups make an incredibly satisfying lunch or appetizer! The combined flavors of bell peppers, onions, and Picante provolone cheese are amazing. We've served these for lunch many times for out of town guests because they can be prepared ahead of time then baked 10 -15 minutes before serving. Everyone just loves them. Give them a try, we know you'll love them too! ❤️❤️
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 large green bell pepper
1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper,
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
12 slices Boars Head roast beef (from the deli counter, slices should be thick enough to not shred when rolling up)
2 -3 cups Boars Head Picante provolone cheese (shredded). We buy a block of it from the deli counter and shred it ourselves for a really fresh taste. Use 2 cups if you don’t want a lot of cheese or 3 cups if you’re a cheese lover like us. (Cheddar, American, Mozzarella, or any soft cheese of your liking may be substituted for Provolone cheese.)
Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute the peppers & onions until peppers are soft & onions are translucent. (about 10-15 minutes)
Season with salt & pepper. Remove from heat.
Lay a slice of roast beef on parchment paper. Have the short end of the roast beef facing you.
Sprinkle with approximately 2 Tablespoons of the shredded provolone cheese on top of the roast beef slice.
Place approximately 2 Tablespoons of the sauteed peppers & onions on top of the provolone cheese.
Start rolling up at the short end and place seam side down on a large, parchment-lined baking sheet or casserole dish. It’s ok if they touch each other.
Sprinkle more shredded provolone on top then place in 300ºF oven for approximately 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve warm.
Notes: We use Boars Head because it’s gluten-free. You can use whatever deli brand you like.
Depending on your crowd size you can double or triple this recipe. Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Leftovers can be reheated in a microwave for no more than 30 seconds or in a 350ºF oven for about 4 minutes.
Featured photo and recipe adapted from Maria Emmerich, Quick & Easy Ketogenic Cooking.
As with ethnic food all over the world there are as many versions of Spanakopita as there are Greek Islands, so I am happy to share with you the version I learned to make at the cooking class I took in Athens at THE GREEK KITCHEN. Our class was small with only 6 students which made our hands-on experience so enjoyable! It's really fun to make, easy and so versatile. 😋
1 package frozen phyllo dough (defrosted overnight in the refrigerator)
50ml EVOO (4-5 Tablespoons)
2 spring onions (aka scallions or green onions)
300g spinach, fresh, wilted (1 ½ -2 cups)
1/4 bunch of mint
2 sprigs fresh oregano
200g feta cheese, crumbled (8 ounces)
generous amount of freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 355°F, set to fan mode if possible.
Finely chop spinach, mint, spring onions, dill, and leek. Add them to a large bowl.
Add 2 ½ Tablespoons of the EVOO, salt, pepper, oregano and the feta cheese to the bowl. Stir and your filling is ready!
Remove the phyllo dough from the package and cut the tape with scissors and spread the sheets of phyllo out on a clean working surface.
Dip a pastry brush into the remaining EVOO and drizzle over the sheet of phyllo dough without letting the brush directly touch the phyllo. The reason you don’t allow the brush to touch the sheets is that the sheets will stick together and won’t bake correctly.
Cover with a second sheet of phyllo and drizzle with EVOO.
Spread the filling in a straight line and roll the phyllo, then shape it into a spiral-like form and place it in the pan.
Eggwash the top of the formed spiral, drizzle a small amount of EVOO, sprinkle with some sesame seeds, and finally sprinkle some water sparingly to prevent drying out.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the spirals are golden.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Enjoy!
Notes: Spanakopita is wonderful on its own as a main dish but can also be cut into 2-3 inch pieces and served as an appetizer with Tzatziki sauce for dipping. You can really substitute any leafy vegetable or cheese you like to make your own family favorite.
Stuffed Mushrooms Alla Grandma Florence, Gluten-Free
One of the dishes we missed most at the holidays was Grandma Florence's stuffed mushrooms. Wow were they delizioso! 😋 We are excited we nailed it as they taste just like Grandma's did. We're happy to share it with you and hope you enjoy them as much as our family does. These can be served as appetizers, a side dish to a roast, chicken, veal or pasta or a main dish if using large Portobello mushrooms.
We have been trying an ocean full of different crab cake recipes only to find they had too much breading or too much seasoning which took away from the rich crab taste & texture we were looking for. We also wanted to make sure it was gluten-free without anyone being able to detect the difference. We think we hit a home run with our crab cake recipe which checked all the boxes for us. Serve as a main dish over mixed salad greens topped with our homemade tartar sauce, coleslaw even your favorite pasta with a scampi sauce.🦀
Put crab meat in a small bowl, keeping the lumps together, do not break apart and set aside.
Put the Glutino crackers in a plastic bag and crush until very fine crumbs.
In a large bowl mix together all remaining ingredients including the cracker crumbs. (do not add crab meat at this time)
Take the crab meat and gently fold into the mixture without breaking up the lumps. Do not stir or mix, just fold until it looks uniform.
Line a baking pan with either waxed or parchment paper. Using a 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, loosely fill the cup & turn out to shape into patties then place on the waxed or parchment paper lined baking pan. Place in refrigerator for 60 minutes to set.
In a large skillet on medium heat, add the 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of EVOO.
Once the skillet is hot enough, place each pattie in the skillet making sure not to overcrowd. You should be able to get 8 patties in a 12-inch skillet.
Cook until a nice deep golden brown then carefully flip to cook the other side until deep golden brown.
If browning too quickly, lower heat to medium-low.
Remove and place on paper towels to absorb any excess butter/oil.
Serve warm or room temperature. Enjoy!
Notes: To serve as an appetizer, make the crab cakes smaller and serve on a platter with some homemade tartar sauce.