Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chicken Jerk Marinade

Yummy Nummy Jerk Marinade

Anyone who has gone gluten free miss Jerk? Well, to be totally honest. I had never experienced any sort of Jamaican cuisine prior to going on my diet. Soooooooo honestly, I can't tell you how authentic this recipe is. Only that it's very tasty and family pleasingly good. Now, apparently to have good jerk, you need some spice. If your taste buds require a bit of a kick, use 2-4 habanero peppers. Now, being that my daughter and grandpa are not such fans of the tasty little orange peppers, I use roughly 1/4 cup bell pepper. Really, it can be any sort of color. Red, green, yellow, purple, orange. Speaking of peppers, have I told you how much I adore bell peppers? I am currently growing every color imaginable (well....all except for white bells. I have yet to find seeds of that variety....Sooooooon I will have them. Soooooon).

Now to get back to business. The recipe for this tasty little number is as follows:
Jerk Marinade
2 habanero peppers (or, if you do not want the heat, 1/4 cup diced bell pepper)
5 green onions cut into 2" pieces
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon gluten free tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon rum
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper
3-4 lbs chicken pieces (or 4 cornish game hens)
Place the peppers green onions, thyme, garlic powder, brown sugar, soy sauce, rum, and water in a blender and puree until liquidfied. Rinse chicken pieces and place in a large ziploc bag. Pour marinade into the bag, seal, then toss to incorporate evenly. Refridgerate for at least 5 hours or if possible, overnight. After chicken has marinated for the required time, preheat oven to 300. Place the chicken in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes. *will not be cooked all the way* Meanwhile, light your grill to medium high heat. Place the chicken in the grill and cook turning occasionally for a total of roughly 20 minutes. Let chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 10, 2014

MercoBox Review

Now this is a fun review I have been excited to share with you. I recently was offered the opportunity to receive and review a unique and exciting thing. A box. Yep, you heard me right, this box is both an exciting and a great idea.

So here is what the MercoBox is all about. It's a box full of products, gift cards, and coupons that showcase all the offerings available from locally owned businesses. What's even cooler is that you get a new selection of products each month. I can discover companies locally that I most likely would not found otherwise.  I love the idea of supporting local merchants. Keeping dollars and jobs right here locally. Being a small business owner myself, I am 100% in support of shopping locally and keeping my hard earned $$ right here in my community. So it only made sense for me to become a MercoBox subscriber. I have to say, I'm pretty excited to get my monthly box of goodies. To me it's almost like Christmas as each month will include a new selection of products for me to try.

So here is my lovely little box:

And here be my box of surprises:
And here are some of of my favorite things.
Now I really loving these fragrances. I am still deciding on which one I like best.
 Ok, now this is a product I would have NEVER have thought of nor would I have realized this was a Utah company. This little number actually catches hair before it turns into a clog and creates that awful slow icky drain issue us girls so frequently deal with.
 All natural and homemade soap!
 K, so the blush samples combined with a coupon with free shipping made for a total instabuy. I'm a sucker for shiny sparkly things and shimmery makeup is no exception. 

So wanna know how it works? How can you get your hands on a box of your own? It's easy peasy and what's even better is that your box will be delivered to your home with your monthly subscription.

And here is the lovely little hyperlink for MercoBox. Check it out :)

Also, please visit their home website Merco Local for great deals being offered by local merchants. New deals are posted weekly and just like the's all local.

P.S. The opinion on this blog post is non other than my own. I have not been paid or been persuaded in any manner to give a positive, neutral or a negative review.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Spiced Lentil and Tomato Soup

Spiced Lentil and Tomato Soup

Ok, so I do apologize in advance for another lentil recipe. We really do love lentils at the Wilkins home. Even the picky husband and tike enjoy em. It's nice too that they like them because they are little nutritional powerhouses that are packed full of protein and fiber. Not to! One of my daughter and my favorite snacks are sprouted lentils. So easy to make and tasty. I'm getting off track though....back to the recipe. It's sweet, savory, spicy. Yum. If you are a vinegar freak, drizzle some balsamic vinegar in your hot steamy tasty soup. Did I say YUM?

Spiced Lentil and Tomato Soup

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken makes a nice substitute)
4 medium sized carrots chopped
1 medium onion chopped
2/3 cup green lentils rinsed
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes 
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 garam masala

In a large pot combine broth, carrots, onion, and lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes (or until lentils are tender). Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes. all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on medium for 4 hours. 
Hi Everyone

Here is a little shout out and an opportunity for a free DVD set on turning your backyard into a food producing paradise.

For anyone on facebook, here is Marjory's page on growing your own groceries. She has some great stuff!
Marjory Wildcraft's Grow Your Own Groceries

And here is the link to the contest. Good luck!

Grow Your Own Groceries DVD Set contest

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gluten Free Cookbook Review

Howdy Y'all! It has certainly been a while since I have posted. Mainly because of my focus to run the Chicago Marathon. With that out of the way and actually surviving I can now focus on more important things. Like food. Did I mention totally awesome and incredible food? To be more specific. Bread. Lots and lots of bread. Now, I was lucky enough to be contacted to do a review on a recently published gluten free bread recipe book Gluten Free Bread more than 100 Artisan Loaves for a Healthier Life by Ellen Brown. Here is what is so exciting....over 100 DIFFERENT and might I add very unique and delicious bread recipes. This is not your dry, crumbly, might work better as a coaster gluten free bread recipes that us Celiacs and anti-glutites have come to know all too well. This book has many varieties and Artisan breads that we normally have to go without.

What caught my attention when I first was the author's preface...Bread is the staff of life. It is the essential food. The first petition in the Lord's Prayer "Give us this day, our daily bread." It's not "give us this day our daily banana smoothie." I had to chuckle at that last sentence lol! For people like me who has relatively given up bread and having the experience of enjoying a fresh out of the oven warm slice of bread and butter, this book is truly a blessing. Yes, we can buy a frozen brick, and might I add SMALL, of gluten free bread at most grocery stores, but honestly....why would we want to pay nearly $8 for bread that is full of refined starches and made months previously? In my book, that's just silly. So, I normally just go without, which I know many of us do. Now, it's not to say I haven't tried my hand at TRYING to make gluten free bread at home. Lets just say.....It has not been one of my crowning achievements lol! There are some really great things that I love about this book. First off, each bread recipe has healthy whole grain and protein packed bean flours which not only add amazing taste, but GREAT nutrition. Next (and honestly, this is my favorite part), each recipe has it's own particular blend of flours. I completely agree with the creator of this cook book that there is NO magical blend of gluten free flours. For each loaf to turn out amazing and and JUST like it's gluten filled counterpart, there needs to be a specific ratio of particular flours. What also is exciting is for EACH recipe, the author has included two types of measurement per ingredient of each recipe. Because of the dynamics of gluten free cooking, sometimes using the standard cup/spoon measurements will not lend an optimal outcome, SO she has included the weight to use for each ingredient along with the standard cup/spoon measurement. Now, honestly, I took the lazy man's way and just used my cups and spoons for each recipe I tried. BUT, I have been leaning toward using weight measurements in my gluten free baking as I know it provides more exact amounts required. As grateful as I am for the two sets of measurements I can only imagine the work this woman went into to create each recipe. Way to go Ellen!!

Now, I tried my hand and three of the recipes. All of which turned out fabulously. Well, aside from the white sandwich bread (which was due to MY fault at letting it rise in too warm of a location. I will be giving the sandwich bread a second attempt and am very excited to see the results. Now, that being said, the flavor and texture was amazing on this bread and I can't wait to dig into a big ol' cold cut sandwich using my very own homemade bread.

The first recipe I whipped up was obviously the White Sandwich Bread. Now, like I said, the end result of the loaf really had nothing to do with the recipe itself. It had more to do with my house being FREEZING cold and me letting it rise in my oven which I had warmed up. Unfortunately it was too warm and my dough rose a bit TOO much and proceeded to overflow a bit like molten lava out of a volcano haha! Still, the end result was very delicious, it just lacked the "pretty factor" so no picture was taken.

Recipe #2 I tried out is the Multiseed Bread. Holy heck on fire. This one was fabulous! I have really missed a good hearty whole grain bread filled to the brim with seeds and grains. My family loves Dave's Killer bread which to me looks and smells AMAZING. Boy, there have been times I have considered taking a big ol' bite out of one of those pieces, but the end result has obviously kept those cravings at bay. Well, not anymore. This bread was so fun to make and SO easy! What I really appreciated is the author's use of ground up chia seeds as the binding agent in the bread. So not only do we not need xanthun gum which lends absolutely NO nutritional value, but we now have a binder AND all the nutritional punch that chia seeds offer. Yet another thumbs up for Ellen Brown :) This loaf is also a quick bread and no yeast or time to rise was needed.

  Recipe #3 is the Beer Bread recipe. I myself have never tried beer bread. However, I have two dear friends that are always raving about tasty warm freshly baked beer bread. So, I was very excited when I saw a gluten free beer bread version in this book. Let me tell you. Beer Bread IS rave worthy :) I made a fresh loaf to go with a spicy batch of chili and Oh MY Goodness. Perfect combination.

And here we have all my lovely leftover beer bread drying to be used for Thanksgiving's gluten free stuffing. Yet another wonderful suggestion from the author (since there is just no way I could eat that entire loaf)

In closing....I love this book. I really do. Now, I have in NO way been paid or coached to add a positive review on this book. All opinions expressed are my own. This book is wonderful and I enjoyed trying new recipes and look forward to trying more. Plus.....let me tell you, there is a downright GENIUS bagel recipe in here that I will be sharing in the future. Thanks as always for reading my blog and I look forward to sharing more healthy and tasty gluten free recipes with you all.

Jill ~The Pink Cowgirl~

Friday, August 9, 2013

Oven Roasted Summer Vegetables

Oven Roasted Summer Vegetables

Ok, so this is another loose recipe. Basically, it's whatever you have surplus from your garden or refrigerator. For me, it's bell peppers, eggplant, and summer squash (namely crookneck and zucchini). Plus, this wonderful side is so darned easy and can be put together in a jiffy.

So here it is.

Preheat your oven to 400. Then you will want a total of 7 cups of chopped vegetables and 1/4 cup olive oil. I used 1 onion, eggplant, zucchini, crookneck squash, and 1 large red bell pepper. Toss all together in a large bowl then add salt and pepper tossing a bit more. Pour into a casserole dish, cover, and bake for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are cooked and slightly browned on the edges.

Soooooooo ya, that's it. You can pretty much use any vegetable, just cover with oil, salt, and pepper then roast in your oven. As my wonderful friend Sharla once said, sometimes the simplest of ingredients makes for the most delicious of dishes :)

Happy cooking everyone!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All about gluten free

As I get asked quite frequently about getting started going gluten free and since May is officially the gluten free month, I decided to write up a quick reference guide/post thingy that hopefully will help answer any questions you might have about eating and cooking gluten free. I will most likely be updating this blog quite frequently as I get new information or find new tools on the web.

To start.....going gluten free is actually very easy. Cut out the processed foods and go back to whole foods. Namely, meats, vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, nuts, and gluten free grains. Most of gluten will lie in processed foods like bread, cookies, crackers, sauces, frozen dinners, boxed meals (hamburger helper anyone?). So if you are nervous about completely changing your eating lifestyle or are so confused with gluten free and it's flour blends, weird grains, xanthan gum, ect.....take a deep breath and realize, that you can still eat and eat well just by shopping around the EDGES of the grocery store. Seriously, that is where you will find the food that is NATURALLY gluten free. It's the isles of the store where most of the food containing gluten lies.

Now that you have an idea of where to start.....lets talk about food ingredients that are taboo. That will help you on your way to learning to read labels and knowing exactly what you are putting into your body. Prepare to become a label reading Nazi. Basically, to avoid gluten you will need to cut out wheat, barley, and rye. is the thing about oats. Oats are NATURALLY gluten free, BUT are cross contaminated VERY easily. They can even pick up gluten from the fields they are grown in. So unless the package states Certified Gluten free, do not consume. Here is a wonderful link that lists everything to steer clear from:Unsafe Foods List. It's a wonderful quick reference to all ingredients that would contain gluten. If you have a smart phone, put it as one of your favorites so you can reference it quickly while on the go. Now, my blog is a gluten free AND corn free blog as I am intolerant to corn and it affects me much as gluten does. The good news is, corn IS gluten free AND is very versatile. So by all means, enjoy your nachos, corn tortillas, polenta, and good ol corn on the cob :)

Next is how and where to eat out. Most restaurants are wanting to capitalize on the "gluten free movement" so you will be able to find many places will offer choices that he can eat. There is a great app you can get called FindMeGlutenFree. It searches using the gps location function on your phone to search for all fast food joints and restaurants that offer gluten free options or a gluten free menu. It also has user's comments which is great because some places that state that they offer gluten free, may either have a pitiful selection or the food was cross contaminated by an uneducated staff. Even though this app works wonderfully and I use it weekly, I still find it's best to call ahead to an establishment to verify IF they offer gluten free and what are the menu items/options.

Speaking of cross is imperative to be super duper uber careful if you are celiac or gluten intolerant. The littlest spec of gluten will make you sick and if you are celiac, throw your body into an auto-immune reaction. You will need to have your own toaster, condiments (mayo, peanut butter, butter, ect) as it is SO easy to contaminate jars if there is still normal bread in the house. This is how easy it is to cc (cross contaminate) use a butter knife to spread some jam on a roll or bread of the regular gluten filled variety, then stick it back in the jar to get a bit more and BAM! It's been contaminated and is no longer safe for us anti-glutites. For more tips and information on avoiding cc in your home and kitchen please visit this link: Avoiding Cross Contamination

Next on the list are gluten free flours and baking. Now, I do not doubt that even the thought of gluten free eating is scary, let alone being overwhelmed with the plethora of flours, flour blends, and gums. So I will try to explain things simply so you have a better understanding of gluten free flours, why we use blends, and the need for gums like xanthan or guar. Gluten is a binding protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have ever made bread or watched someone make it, you can see the strands of gluten when kneading your dough. It's what creates those lovely little fluffy bubbles in your bread and holds all of your baked items together. Now, unfortunately when you bake gluten free, there is no more bind. That is where xanthan gum or guar gum come in. In the correct ratio's, it will replace the gluten's binding and will help your baked goods stay together. Here is a "rule of thumb" ratio on different types of baked goods:

Bread and pizza dough recipes: Add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of gluten-free flour used in bread and pizza dough recipes
Cake, muffin and quick bread recipes: Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per one cup of gluten-free flour used
Cookie and bar recipes: Add 1/2 teaspoon (or less) xanthan gum or guar gum per one cup gluten-free flour used 
Now, as for gluten free flours. Unfortunately there is not one gluten free flour that can be used as a cup for cup replacement with regular all purpose flour. You will need to have a combination of flours to mimic the protein and starch that regular flour contains. I'm sure it's overwhelming when you start seeing flours like sorghum, teff, millet, bean, sweet rice, tapioca starch. The good news is that many wonderful gluten free bakers and bloggers have come up with wonderful gluten free flour blends that are premade AND can contain the proper flour/gum ratio and will measure cup for cup with regular flour. So the guess work is taken out and you can bake pretty much ANY recipe out there just by using your gluten free all purpose flour blend. So don't toss out your good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook, keep it and keep using your recipes JUST like you would with normal flour. The drawback to premade gluten free flour blends is that they are expensive. By being a stay at home mom, I have needed to learn how to pinch my pennies. I have found the most cost effective way to feed me and my family is to just make everything from scratch. I buy my gluten free flours in bulk and keep them in containers in my spare freezer. The reason I keep them frozen is that some flours like brown rice flour has a very short shelf life. By keeping it frozen, I can extend my use of it by MONTHS. I buy my flours at two different places. First being Winco and second at the Asian store. Most Asian stores will have potato starch, tapioca starch, and both sweet and white rice flour. Winco is awesome because I can buy my xanthan gum, brown rice flour, tapioca starch all in their bulk section. Another wonderful thing about Winco is that they offer gluten free noodles, granola, oats, quinoa, and many different types of rice in their bulk saving you TONS. I can get a pound of gluten free noodles for $2 vs. $7 at a health food store. All I am paying for is pretty packaging which will just be tossed in the trash anyway. Next is a little list of flours that I have found to work wonderfully with cooking:
Sweet rice (otherwise known as glutinous rice) works wonderfully with creating white sauces and gravies. It will make a nice thick cream soup or make divine gravy. It is very finely ground and will not have a grainy texture
Bob's red mill gluten free flour blend is great for making roux for gumbo's as it has a hearty rich flavor. It also works well with baked goods, just don't taste the batter before it's baked, you will have a bitter batter that is not so pleasing to the palate haha!
Corn starch works great as a thickening agent to create glazes or sauces like sweet and sour chicken sauce. If you are intolerant to corn, then arrowroot starch or tapioca starch work well as a substitute.
There are many wonderful blogs and websites that feature gluten free cooking and baking. I try to keep mine updated, but unfortunately life gets ahold of me and I can get pretty busy. Here are some of my "go to" places when I need inspiration in the kitchen:
Gluten Free Homemaker not only does she offer family friendly gluten free recipes, but she hosts a gluten free Wednesday where other bloggers can showcase their recipes.
Fave Gluten Free Recipes this website ROCKS! Everything listed is gluten free and there are TONS of recipes to pick from :)
Jules Gluten Free blog is wonderful! She offers a great gluten free flour blend with lots of yummy treats and baked goods recipes.
Hopefully you can feel a little more confident in delving into the world of gluten free. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have. I will be updating this post periodically as new information comes my way or I learn new tricks to the gf trade.
Jill - The Pink Cowgirl