Hash Brown Casserole

Oohhh, hash brown casserole, how we love thee!  This is my mom’s recipe, and one of the most delicious versions I’ve ever had.  A double batch is on the table every Thanksgiving and there’s never any left (gotta start making a triple batch!).  It’s not the healthiest recipe….but it’s worth the caloric compromise!

Since most canned soup is a no-no, we had to find a certified gluten free brand for my sister. You can’t tell the difference at all.  I’ve seen a few different GF brands pop up over the years, so look in the soup aisle first, or specialty foods aisle second (in our grocery store, it’s in both places).  It might be in a can or a carton (like shelf-stable milk or boxed tomatoes).  Of course, you can just use Campbell’s soup too.  It’ll be delicious either way!


Hash Brown Casserole

  • 1 bag (about 2 pounds) frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed slightly
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • 1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1 can (12-15 ounces) gluten free cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 1/2 cups (more if you like!) grated cheese – cheddar, colby jack, etc.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir gently until well combined.  Grease a 2-2 1/2 quart baking dish and spoon in the mixture, smoothing over the top.   Bake for about an hour or until browned on top and bubbling on the sides.  Enjoy!


Classic Guacamole

It doesn’t get much better than guacamole…creamy, buttery avocados mixed with what is essentially salsa ingredients.  This is one of my heavenly foods.

There are lots of guac recipes out there, but I felt my website wouldn’t be complete without my version, as much as we eat it.  And a visit to my grocery store today led me to the first decent-looking avocados in a few months.  They were finally not hard as rocks.  Time to make some delicious guacamole!

I’m going to keep this simple:  You need lots of avocadoes – I didn’t weigh mine (sorry), but they were 5 normal-sized Haas avocados, maybe about 2 pounds before peeling/pitting.  You also need lots of fresh cilantro, and some Roma tomatoes (they have a lower water content and do much better in salsas and guacamole).  Chop everything small, and the garlic smaller.

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We like chunky avocado, but I’m pretty sure it’s more traditional to mash the avocados smooth.  It’s like a competition to see who can fish out the big chunks, with the lucky hunter raising his or her tortilla chip with a victorious, “haHA!”.  We also do this with blue cheese dressing.

Normally I’d also have put a fresh jalapeno in the guac.  I forgot to buy one today, though.  Do it if you’re adventurous!

Here’s the recipe!

Classic Guacamole

yield about 6 cups.

  • 5-6 medium-large ripe Haas avocados, quartered, peeled and pitted
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced small (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced (about 1/8 cup packed)
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • ​1 jalapeno pepper, chopped fine (remove the seeds for less heat)
  • salt and pepper to taste

​In a large bowl, put the quartered and peeled avocados.  Squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top, add a little salt, and mash to your preferred consistency.

Add rest of ingredients and stir gently to combine.  Taste for salt, add more if needed.

Serve immediately, or cover tightly, refrigerate and serve within a few hours with tortilla chips or veggie slices like carrots and cucumbers.  Top tacos, salads, or anything else with this mix as well.  Enjoy!

Gingered Tofu & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Mmmm….stir fry.  Easy and delicious.  Exactly what I was thinking when I wanted to introduce my toddler to tofu.

I make stir frys many ways, with whatever I have on hand, but this is a favorite – with ginger and sesame oil.  Tofu is a very versatile ingredient, taking on the flavor of whatever you put with it, and it’s a great protein source.  We don’t eat tofu often but this is one way that is great!

Around these parts, tofu is in the organic section of the produce.  Get the firm or extra-firm kind.

If you don’t have fish sauce, that’s ok, leave it out.  But it adds delicious flavor!

I use San-J gluten free sauces, it is amazing.  We love the gluten free soy sauce even more than its regular cousin!

Serve with rice (sticky, short grain “sushi” rice if you can).  Just lovely.

Gingered Tofu & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Yields about 4 2-cup servings.

  • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups smaller mushrooms, such as button or portabella, sliced if needed
  • 2 green onions (scallions), white part only sliced
  • 1 head baby bok choy, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-Free soy sauce, plus more to taste (such as San-J)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons ginger (1 tablespoon if using fresh grated)
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish, optional
  • 1 teaspoon fish oil, optional

Drain tofu and place on a paper-towel line plate.  Top with more paper towels and add a weight on top to help squeeze out the liquid.  Set aside.

Chop onion, bell pepper, carrots and bok choy; add to a large bowl.  Chop green onion and mushrooms and add to second smaller bowl.  Set aside.

Return to the tofu.  Dice into small, even sized piece and add to a zip top bag with 1/4 cup soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon ginger.  Toss to combine and refrigerate to marinate (you can do this step hours ahead for more flavor in the tofu).

Add two tablespoons sesame oil to a wok or large pan.  Heat to medium with the minced garlic and red pepper flakes.  Add the vegetables from the larger bowl (bok choy mix) and stir fry, stirring often, until bok choy wilts, about 5 minutes.

Return the vegetables to their bowl and pull out the tofu.  Add another tablespoon sesame oil to the pan and brown tofu on all side, about 10 minutes on medium heat.  Move tofu to a bowl.

Return bok choy mix to the pan, and add the second smaller bowl of mushrooms and green onion; stir fry about 3 minutes.  Add back the tofu, top with 1/4 cup soy sauce plus more to taste, and teaspoon of fish oil if desired.  Heat through.

Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with sticky or stir fried rice.  Enjoy!

Hearts of Palm Corn Cakes

So I came across a delicious-looking hearts of palm “crabless” cake recipe…I was ready to make it, post it and give them the credit…but the cakes totally fell apart on me!  I was super disappointed the recipe didn’t work.

So I decided to remake the idea from scratch, keeping just the hearts of palm, corn and Old Bay spice ingredients from the original recipe.  The results were delicious!  These are gluten- and msg-free, and vegetarian.  If you substituted the Greek yogurt for Vegan mayo, they’d be vegan too!

So here’s my version of Hearts of Palm Cakes!

Key to getting these cakes to stay together is pulverizing the hearts of palm.  They take on a very crabmeat-like consistency and get sticky.  I used a food processor and alternated pulsing and scraping down the bowl.  Take a few minutes to do this. Drizzle in a bit of olive oil to help lubricate things if you’re having a hard time getting them to break down.

Let’s talk about the breadcrumbs I used for a minute.  Technically, Namaste Foods Gluten Free Homestyle Coating Mix is for frying chicken and such, but it was the closest I could come to gluten free bread crumbs in the grocery store.  It turned out fantastic, and already comes seasoned with an Old Bay-style blend, so if you use this exact product, halve the amount of Old Bay you use.  If you have regular or gluten free plain breadcrumbs, use the full amount of Old Bay.

Make the creamy, lemony yogurt dip for them too.  My sister’s boyfriend hates crab – but he loves these cakes!

Hearts of Palm Corn Cakes

For the palm cakes:

  • 2 cans whole hearts of palm, drained and patted dry
  • 1 cup fresh corn (about 1 ear)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/8 tablespoon each)

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • few shakes of salt and pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder


In a food processor or blender, pulse hearts of palm until sticky.  Add a little olive oil to help, if needed.  Set aside.

Saute corn, onion and celery until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes, over medium heat in a tablespoon of olive oil.

In a bowl, combine hearts of palm, cilantro, and remaining ingredients.  Add the corn mixture when ready, and stir gently to incorporate all ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until chilled through.

Using a flatware tablespoon, form heaps of mixture into balls (I estimate they’re 1/3 cup each or so).  Roll in breadcrumbs to coat entirely, and flatten into patties.  Set on parchment or waxed paper.

In a deep fry pan, add 1/8″ olive oil and heat to medium.  Working in batches of 4, slowly brown the cakes on both sides, about 5 minutes each.  They’ll be firm and will stay together when you try to flip them.

For the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.

Serve as an appetizer or with a green salad for an entree.  Enjoy!


Fresh Salsa

Salsa…one of my all-time favorite foods.

There’s nothing like homemade salsa, and once you make it yourself, you’ll never go back to the jarred disaster claiming to be salsa.

You can leave out the Ro-Tel if you like.  We just love the extra boost of flavor.  And don’t oversalt the salsa.  Tortilla chips are salty enough!

This is my version, and I always get asked for the recipe.  Our favorite certified gluten free tortilla chips are Snyder’s of Hanover Whole Grain Tortilla chips.

It will keep in your fridge for a few days, but it’ll get eaten long before that…


Fresh Salsa

Yield about 3 cups.

  • 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles (mild or original)
  • 3 Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 bunch cilantro (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1/2 bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 limes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeno, optional

Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, bell pepper, and garlic.  Drain the Ro-Tel and add it to a food processor or blender.  Add the chopped ingredients on top, squeeze the juice of both limes in, and add the 1/8 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper.  Don’t overdo the cumin or it will overpower the salsa!

Blend to desired consistency, and refrigerate until needed.  Salsa will keep in fridge for a few days, but I promise there won’t be any left the first time you bring it out.  Enjoy!

Artichoke Dip

This is my mom’s recipe, and was my contribution to our Sunday dinner today.  Super easy, make it with olive oil mayo to cut the calories way back!  Or use a combination of mayo and Greek yogurt.  Yummy and gluten free!

Serve to an adoring crowd with corn chips.  The big Fritos Scoops chips work perfectly. I could barely get this photo taken before the masses dove in and almost ruined my shot!

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Artichoke Dip

  • 2 cans quartered artichokes, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese in the can, plus more for the top
  • juice of 1 small or 1/2 large lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix gently.  Empty into a 2-2.5 quart baking dish, sprinkle with a little more cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve immediately with Fritos Scoops chips.

You can also cover tightly and refrigerate for a few hours before you need to bake.  Enjoy!