just a drop of simple sunshine


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Gluten-free cheesy biscuits

Cheddar bay biscuits, anyone? Every time I pass our Red Lobster, I sigh mournfully. Although they might be one of the better restaurants for the gluten-free crowd (om nom scampi om nom nom), I know the cheddar bay biscuits will be too much to bear. I can pass on Outback’s pumpernickel, Brown Derby’s rolls, & every other restaurant’s bread du jour.

But the biscuits? I knew I’d eaten my last.

Or so I thought!

I don’t even know how or why inspiration struck, but I’m so glad that it did, & even more so that my original idea worked so well! Turns out the basic coconut muffin recipe is incredibly versatile – not only can it be used to make muffins & bread, but you can add biscuits to its resume, too.

Cheesy biscuits

gluten-free, grain-free

What you need:

  • 1/3 cup butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup cheddar or colby jack cheese, shredded (more if desired!)
  • 2 tablespoons dried chives

 

How to do it:

  1. Melt butter. Stir in eggs.
  2. Add coconut flour, chives, salt, baking soda, & baking powder.
  3. Stir in cheese.
  4. Generously grease a cookie sheet, then drop large spoonfuls of batter onto the sheet. (It made 12 for me)
  5. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.
  6. Completely optional step: throw a bit more shredded cheese on top, then pop back into the oven for a few minutes until melted.

 

This is… oh man, I was so excited when I bit into it. SO, SO GOOD! Perfect when hot, slathered with butter. Fabulous with a bit of pepperoni. I think next time I might try to make pepperoni rolls with them – the flavors are just so good together. These would be great as bun alternatives for upcoming Memorial Day cookouts – sliders, anyone?

If you try these out, definitely let me know what you think!

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Easy chicken parmesan

Mmm – chicken parmesan. Sad thing is, a month or two before I gave up wheat, I learned how to make a totally rockin’ chicken parmesan. It was a long process that involved a lot of ingredients, but WOW, was it tasty. I bid it adieu in January 2010 & moved on to other things, but then I stumbled upon a flour-less chicken parm recipe in the surprisingly primal-friendly cookbook Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs. It’s quick & easy, has only a few ingredients, & best of all, really tasty. Although not all the recipes in the cookbook are gluten-free, the emphasis on fresh food cooked simply is pretty rad. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly (do I ever?), but it was definitely inspiring.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the hate towards boneless, skinless chicken breast. If money is tight & conventional chicken is all you’ve got, this is totally the way to go. & if you cook it right, it’ll be nice & juicy. At least mine always are.

Anyways! Let’s get this yummy recipe started!

Quick & Easy Chicken Parmesan

gluten-free

What you need:

  • boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • about a cup of parmesan cheese (the best quality you can afford)
  • salt, herbs & spices to your liking*
  • olive oil
  • tomato puree (or whatever tomato sauce you have lying around)

 

*I tend to use oregano, basil, tarragon, parsley, sage, & rosemary for everything of the Italian persuasion.

How to do it:

  1. Drizzle some olive oil on a hot griddle.
  2. Throw the parmesan cheese, a bit of salt, & whatever Italian herbs you feel like using into a bowl. Mix it altogether, then place on a plate or in a bag. Dredge the chicken in the parmesan mixture. You don’t need to add anything to the chicken; it’ll stick right onto the meat as is!
  3. Place the chicken on the griddle & let it get crisp on the outside, as shown below.
  4. Once it’s nice & crisp on the outside, transfer to an oven-safe dish that’s been drizzled with a bit of olive oil. Spoon some sauce over top, then sprinkle any leftover parmesan mixture on top.
  5. Bake at 350&deg for about ten minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through!

 

Serve with a salad, some steamed veggies, or the pasta alternative of your choice. Enjoy!


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Coconut flour banana bread

Is there anything so delicious as butter smeared on just-baked banana bread? Personally, I’m not so sure. With a few bananas well past their edible-as-is state, I decided to try my hand at a gluten-free banana bread. The husband didn’t like it so much – “I think I’ve lost my taste for bread. Except for muffins. I still like muffins. Hint hint.” were his words, but I declared loudly: More for me!

This totally hit the spot. As with many things I thought I’d given up for good, I didn’t even realize how much I missed it. Now, to be fair, it’s been so long (a year & a half, at least) since I’ve had the real stuff that I can’t honestly say it tastes just like the real thing. Frankly, I think I’m just so used to the consistency & taste of coconut flour that that tastes “normal” to me now. But try it out, & let me know what you think!

This recipe might look familiar, as it’s basically the same one for my gluten-free coconut flour muffins. Hooray for easy recipe transfers!

Banana bread

gluten-free, high fiber

What you need:

  • 2-3 very over-ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup nuts (optional; I used sliced almonds)

 

How to do it:

  1.  Melt butter. Stir in eggs, bananas, vanilla, & honey.
  2. Add flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, & baking powder.
  3. Gently mix in nuts
  4. Generously grease a bread pan, then pour in batter.
  5. Bake at 350° for about forty minutes, until a knife comes out clean. This won’t raise like the traditional stuff does, but I personally found it just as tasty.

 

This was breakfast for about a week. I personally love to eat it with some cheese & cold meat, maybe a few fresh strawberries. Delicious!


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Meat Sauce – from scratch!

I LOVE this sauce. A few months ago, I realized how much I doctor the sauce that comes in the jar that I decided to just start making the entire thing from scratch. & you know what? I think it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s inexpensive, I know exactly what’s going into it, & did I mention it’s delicious? Because it is. YUM.

I make it in a bit of a different order than I think most people do – I start with the herbs & spices, move on to the beef, & add the sauce last. Oh! & I only use one pan. Because let’s face it – no one likes to do dishes, especially after they’ve had such a lovely meal.

Meat sauce

What you need:

  • 1 pound ground meat (beef, chicken, turkey, pork… I don’t care what it is, just make sure it’s meat!)
  • 1 28 ounce can of tomato puree – it should be tomatoes & that’s it!
  • 2 tablespoons or so olive oil
  • Various herbs & spices…
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • Bit of salt & pepper
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cups spinach, fresh or frozen (but thawed first!)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon or so white vinegar

 

That sounds like a truly epic list of ingredients, but it’s not. I swear! You probably have nearly everything on hand right now. Go check – I’ll wait. Trust me – you want to make this sauce. & it’s easy, I promise!

How to do it:

  1. Over medium heat, drizzle on some olive oil. Throw on your onions & garlic, & let them cook a bit. Just to get the juices going… if you wanted to add green pepper or mushrooms to your sauce, add them here as well.
  2. Toss on your herbs & spices – whatever is Italian-ish & you like. I use rosemary, tarragon, basil (lots of basil. I LOVE basil), oregano, cilantro, parsley, salt, pepper… swirl them around a bit & let everything mingle for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add your MEAT! Brown it as you normally would.
  4. When it’s about halfway done, I add about a tablespoon of balsamic, & the spinach. Then, the final touch…
  5. Add the sauce! You’ll need to add about a tablespoon or so of white vinegar to play down the sweetness of the tomatoes. I stir in a tablespoon, taste it, then go from there. Sometimes it needs more. I never knew how sweet tomato sauce was until I made sauce from scratch, & the vinegar does a great job cutting through that sweetness. Simmer until the sauce is heated through, & you’re good to go!

From here, it’s your call. I usually throw in a baked spaghetti squash & some mozzarella cheese, and that is definitely enough to feed the two of us for at least two meals. Healthy, delicious, & easy. Let me know what you think if you try it this week!


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Tomatoes & basil & onions, oh my!

I know I’ve posted this recipe before, but with summer just around the corner, I thought I’d bring it up again! Tomatoes & basil is pretty much the yummiest combination ever, if I do say so myself, & the addition of sweet onion creates a party in your mouth. For a real treat, throw in some true fresh mozzarella, & you’re basically set for life.

I hadn’t actually planned to make this, it being April & all (aka, the tomatoes are generally still lifeless), but my local farm market had three things last weekend: these sweet candy onions (pictured below), absolutely gorgeous fresh basil, & the reddest little tomatoes I’ve seen since October. I kid you not, I did a little celebration dance right there in the market. YAY! I knew exactly what I was making on Sunday!

Normally I try to eat things mostly in season, but I made an exception for these. I dare not think where they came from, or how they came to be so red & juicy in April, but I’ll tell you what – I savored every morsel. Oh, it’s so, so good. & so versatile! But I’m getting ahead of myself. The recipe for this salad is basic, but I’ll write it out anyways for those who need the exact directions…

Classic Tomato & Basil Salad

What you need:

  • Good, ripe tomatoes (I used small-ish ones; feel free to use any variety)
  • Onions (if you can’t find the delectable candy sweet ones, go for red)
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

 

How to do it:

  1. Cut tomatoes into chunks. Because I used small ones, I simply quartered them, but when I use tiny grape tomatoes, I simply halve them. Toss some salt on them to bring out the flavor. Dice up your onions, & chop up the basil. Throw these three ingredients into a bowl (if you’re also adding mozzarella, go ahead & toss it in too).
  2. Drizzle on olive oil & balsamic; even to evenly coat everything. If you feel so inclined, add some Italian dressing.
  3. Add some fresh ground pepper, mix altogether, & voila! A super simple salad you can enjoy all summer long.

 

I mentioned the versatility of this mixture, & here are some ways I’ve used it

  • On its own as a side salad
  • Thrown on top of salad greens & chicken for an entree salad
  • Blended into a quick fresh sauce for pizza
  • If using big slices of tomato, as toppings for pizza – just throw on some fresh blobs of mozzarella, & you’re good to go!
  • Mixed with pasta or spaghetti squash for an easy dish
  • Spooned over chicken breast before baking
  • Mixed into a Big Bowl of Awesome a few moments before removing from heat
  • Served atop toast (gluten-free or otherwise) for quick crostini

 

Anyone have other ideas? Let me know how you’ll enjoy this in the coming months!


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Coconut flour muffins

I’ll tell you right up front: this recipe borrows heavily from Elana Amsterdam’s Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins. Thing is, I link to it so often, with my variations, that I figured it’d be easier to just post how I make them. Thank you for creating these, Elana! I love them oh-so-much!

My husband LOVES muffins, & he especially loves them with strawberries. Personally, I love a good old-fashioned blueberry muffin, but I’m not picky. Sometimes I make these with my usual Sunday morning cook-a-thon, & they never seem to last long enough.

Coconut flour muffins

gluten-free, high fiber – makes eight muffins

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fruit, thawed if frozen (blueberries, strawberries, peaches, blackberries – the possibilities are endless!)

 

How to do it:

  1. Melt butter
  2. Mix all ingredients, except fruit, together in a large bowl.
  3. Allow to rest for about five minutes.
  4. Stir in fruit.
  5. GREASE muffin pan or muffin liners with butter. Without it, the muffin sticks to the liners in a most unfortunate way.
  6. Pour batter into muffin pan/liners. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

 

Enjoy! Next time you have a staff meeting or other engagement that will include donuts, bagels, & the like, take these along. They’re quite divine with a nice cup of English Breakfast tea…


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Egg drop soup

I confess, I love noodle soup. Somehow, my chicken soup just isn’t the same without noodles. Mrs Grass’ soup was always a comfort food when I was sick, & somehow winter just isn’t the same without it. Cue the egg drop! Did you know this stuff is super easy to make? Really & truly, as easy as making scrambled eggs. If you’ve got some broth, you’ve got what you need to make egg drop soup.

Egg drop soup

Makes 2-4 servings

What you need:

  • 3-4 beaten eggs
  • Soup! You can easily use any stock/broth you might have – I actually used turkey stock made from the Thanksgiving turkey. Everything but the tail & all that! I added carrots, onions, & mushrooms to mine, but that’s up to you. This is definitely a “stone soup” moment – it’ll taste lovely by itself, but added veggies & bits of meat will only make it heartier.

 

How to do it in three easy steps:


1. Thoroughly heat your soup to a good simmer, & if you’ve added meat/veggies, cook them through. Remove from heat.


2. Drop in egg using a fork. It’ll make the egg bits more “noodle-y,” rather than just one egg clump.


3. Stir until egg is cooked through for a few minutes. Serve!

This is so good, & so hearty! Next time your little one is sick, or you feel a sniffle, definitely give this a try. I think I’ll be having for lunch today!