365 Project – 75 : RECIPE: Quinoa tabouleh (gluten-free) (March 15, 2012)

Shutter Speed: 1/1250, Aperture: F/1.4, ISO: 200, Manual Focus

Tabouleh is such an easy salad…AND, I think it also photographs well! LOL I don’t normally food-blog for these 365 Project posts but, this is an easy recipe so why not?

In the past I typically used couscous but, since I’m trying to go gluten-free I decided to use quinoa, which is a staple in my freezer (you don’t have to freeze it but, since I get the large bag from Costco I freeze it.) Because of the high protein value in the quinoa and the feta cheese, this salad can be sufficient as a vegetarian entree, or it makes for a colorful, complementary side to any simply prepared or mediterranean-spiced meat dish. Here’s the fast, easy recipe:


Quinoa: Follow package instructions to prepare 1 cup uncooked quinoa cooked in 1 3/4 cups broth/water. Package directions will tell you to use 2 cups of water. I find that makes for a soggier tabouleh. Make sure all the liquid is absorbed before removing from the heat.


1 minced garlic clove
1/4 cup oil
juice of one lemon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (salt to taste but, keep in mind the feta cheese will also add salt to this dish)
dash of ground cumin powder

1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes (~ 12 cherry tomatoes sliced in quarters)
1 cucumber seeded, peeled and diced*
1 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Prepare the quinoa, fluff with a fork then set aside and let cool slightly. While the quinoa cooks, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a salad bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumber and parsley to the vinagrette and toss to marinate. 20 minutes before serving, add the cooled quinoa to the veggies, toss well. Lightly toss in the crumbled feta cheese right before serving. Serve immediately at room temperature.

* To seed your cucumber, peel it then slice it lengthwise.  Scoop out the seeds like you’d scoop them out of a canteloupe.  Then dice.  This is an optional step but, it really makes for a nice crunchy bite to your salad.

MAKE AHEAD: You can make the vinaigrette up to a day before. You can marinate the veggies up to an hour ahead of time. Quinoa can be prepared a few hours before serving. Make sure to fluff the quinoa and refrigerate.

See more of my 365 Project: Untouched photos from my Nikon D5000 with 50mm lens

RECIPE: Ina Garten’s “Perfect Roast Chicken” (gluten-free)

This really IS the perfect roast chicken recipe.  It’s easy, quintessential comfort food and the juicy chicken just falls off the bone.  Serve it with mashed potatoes and for something different saute’ brussels sprouts with apples.  It’s simple.  Drizzle the brussel sprouts with olive oil, add a little salt and pepper, saute’ until starting to brown, then add the apples and cook until still slightly crisp.  Enjoy!

Perfect Roast Chicken
from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa”

Note: The Barefoot Contessa cookbook includes gravy as part of this recipe but, to make this a gluten-free recipe the gravy instructions are not mentioned here. My family isn’t into gravy and this chicken doesn’t need it. So, without those 2 tablespoons of flour in the gravy, this meal is completely gluten-free! 🙂 And, I’ve also made this recipe without the carrots and fennel when I’m rushed or lacking the ingredients. It’s still FABULOUS! Don’t omit any of the other ingredients though.


  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs (in a pinch i’ve used ~ 5 tablespoons of dried thyme rubbed inside the chicken)

  • 1 lemon, halved

  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted

  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced

  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges

  • Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

RECIPE: Gluten-free Spritz Cookies

Gluten-free Spritz Cookies
Makes 5 dozen cookies.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 c Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free All Purpose Flour
heaping 1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the butter and sugar. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Place dough in cookie press; forming desired shapes on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set but not brown, 6-7 minutes (in my oven, as i made several batches it took less time to bake). Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Decorating the cookies

Immediately after removing the cookies to a wire rack, sprinkle with decorating sugars. The faster you sprinkle the better chance the sugars will actually stick to the cookies. As an option, at the last minute of baking you could quickly sprinkle the cookies with decorating sugars.

I love Spritz because the different shapes are so festive and they make small holiday bites. They can be a bit dry so I like to decorate or dip them in chocolate or white chocolate. In the microwave or in a double-boiler (my preferred method) melt semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate baking bars. My decorating method is organic and NOT refined. I take either a spoon or toothpick an drizzle or “paint” the chocolate on the cookies. My daughter is at the ready to decorate so the sprinkles adhere to the melted chocolate. Although not pictured here, I like to double dip the spritz with dark chocolate on one side and white chocolate on the other. Leave as is or lightly sprinkle. Get creative, make it a fun holiday activity, or like us, make it an annual tradition. These cookies make great homemade holiday gifts. Happy baking, decorating, eating and giving!

Recipe: Rosemary Garlic Foccacia Bread (Rebar cookbook)

Rosemary Garlic Foccacia Bread (From the Rebar cookbook)

==>Here’s Norita helping me make a batch of foccacia dough She loves to help me cook! 🙂

1 3/4 cups warm water
1 tb traditional baking yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt (I prefer just 1 tsp salt)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups unbleached flour

6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tb olive oil
2 tsp coarse salt
1 tb chopped rosemary

Pour the warm water into the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over top. Let stand 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy. Place the bowl on the mixer and attach the dough hook. Pour in the salt and olive oil and mix briefly. Add one cup of flour at a time and stir with a spoon. When the flour is mixed in, add the second cup, and continue until all the flour has been added. When you can’t stir anymore, pour dough on a floured surface and knead in until dough is smooth and elastic.

Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl, turning the dough to coat in the oil. Place a damp towel over the bowl and let sit in a warm, draft-free location for for 1 hour. Punch down the dough, turn, re-cover, and let stand another hour.

Preheat the oven to 350′. Lightly oil a 12×16 (or similar size) pan and gently press the dough out with your hands to fill the pan.

Pour the 2 tb of oil on the dough and rub over the surface. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the salt, garlic and rosemary. Dimple the dough with your fingers.

Cook for 20 minutes and rotate the pan halfway through. Watch carefully so that the garlic doesn’t burn.

VARIATION:  Recently my hubby and I went to a restaurant where they served GRILLED focaccia bread with hummus.  It was fabulous!  So, we tried it when we were having a BBQ.  I removed the “sheet” of focaccia bread, cut it into two pieces, put it on the grill with the top open, and left it there just a few minutes, long enough to give it some grill marks.  Just grill the bottom side of the bread (eg. the side WITHOUT the salt, garlic & rosemary.)  Cut the bread diagonally to create triangles instead of squares/rectangles.  That shape makes it a bit more fun for some reason.  It was great!

Week 41 – I Heart Beef Photo Challenge & Smoky Beef Stew Recipe

I heart beef!

I heart faces extended this week’s photo challenge, I Heart Beef, so since I was making the beef stew recipe from the October 2010 issue of Sunset Magazine (page 90G), I thought this would be a good opportunity to try some foodie shots. Little did I realize, making BROWN beef look appetizing in a photo is HARD!

I started with taking a photo of the stew in the pot, trying to replicate the Sunset Magazine photo. That didn’t work for me. Then, I decided to plate it with a few slices of bread, which turned out “okay.” Then, I sprinkled some chives on it and it was definitely an improvement. I still think the dish tasted better than I was able to make it look. This beef stew recipe was YUMMY!! 🙂

It was a great photo challenge and i heart faces once again pushed me to practice my photog skills. To see other great beef entries, or to enter this weekly contest yourself (it’s not too late…you have until THURSDAY) click on this logo:

Since I was asked, here is the recipe which I found online here:


Bacon, smoked paprika, and chipotle chile powder (from dried smoked jalapeños) give this stew layers of smoky flavor. Prep and Cook Time: 4 hours.
Notes: You can make this a day ahead through step 3 and chill it. Add 15 minutes to the cooking time for the potatoes, since the liquid will take longer to boil. Find smoked paprika (often labeled pimentón de La Vera) at gourmet grocery stores.

Total: 4 hours
Yield: Makes 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)


About 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 pounds beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces
4 strips hardwood-smoked bacon, chopped
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. wedges
About 1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (see Notes)
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
2 bottles (750 ml. each) dry red wine
2 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4- by 2-in. sticks
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced chives


1. Heat a heavy, large casserole or Dutch oven (not nonstick) over medium-high heat. Add 1 tbsp. oil. When hot, add 1/5 to 1/4 of the beef. The first piece should sizzle when it hits the pot; if it doesn’t, remove it and wait for the oil to get hotter. The pieces should not touch—you want plenty of room so the juices will evaporate quickly and the meat can brown. Cook until well browned and a bit crusted, about 5 minutes each side, adjusting heat so meat sizzles but does not burn. They’re ready to turn when they release from the pot easily. Transfer meat to a bowl and repeat with remaining meat and oil, for a total of 4 or 5 batches. This takes about an hour when done properly.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Add bacon to pot and cook until fat renders and bacon starts to brown. Transfer bacon to bowl with beef. Add onions to pot and stir in 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until onions begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Transfer onions to bowl with beef. Add flour to pot and cook, stirring, until it starts to turn golden and smells faintly of piecrust, about 2 minutes. Add smoked paprika and chipotle powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

3. Add wine and increase heat to high. Scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add reserved beef, bacon, and onions. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover and bake until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Return pot to stove. Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Add carrots and bring back to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, 30 minutes. Stir in butter and add salt to taste. Serve hot, garnished with blue cheese, pepper, and chives.

Note: Nutrition analysis is per 1 1/2-cup serving.

Nutritional Information
Calories:795 (40% from fat)
Fat:35g (sat 13)