Cook Kindly

Adventures in cooking and navigating a gluten-free life.

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It’s been so long since I’ve posted, I don’t even know where to begin on updates.

We built a house, it’s lovely and wonderful and felt like home the day we moved in.

We had a baby, he’s 7-months old already, and crawling and standing, and smiling and giggling. He’s amazing and the happiest part of my day.

I’m still eating gluten free. I have experimented with eating bits of gluten here and there, with not-so-great results (I know, you GFers are thinking “Duh, lady!”) A 3 day shooting-pain from my shoulder to head headache isn’t worth a peanut blossom cookie. That’s for certain. I’m not a Celiac, so I feel like I may tolerate some gluten, I have yet to discover what my threshold is, however. I can tell you that I greatly miss beer, real beer. I drink GF beer, and it’s ok, some are better than others. I just miss the deep bodied beers, the choices of different tastes and depths of beer. Some day, maybe some day.

As I navigate being a new mom and eating GF, I try to experiment, but time is limited, and so is money, so I do my best to make intelligent and semi-safe experiments. Like meatballs. I made my own, substituting crushed up Rice Chex cereal for the breadcrumbs. The meatballs turned out great, except the tiny little clumps of Rice Chex tasted gummy.  Next time I plan to try to make the meatballs without the Chex to see how they form together. Who knows when the next time will roll around, with all the chasing a mobile 7-month old I do these days. Plus, I found that Sam’s Club now carries  Gluten Free Meatballs in their freezer section. Yes!

I still struggle with the cost of gluten free foods compared to non-gluten free foods. I’m overly excited at any coupon I find for a GF item (Target just gave me a coupon to try GF pasta from Barilla, I hope to do that soon). I’ve learned that Van’s Waffles and Udi’s bread are significantly cheaper at Target than at Cub Foods, so I try to only buy those items at Target. I found a co-op reasonably close by that has delicious GF pizza crusts. Personally, I’m not a fan of Udi’s frozen pizza, to me it tastes like carboard with tomato paste on top, and for far too much dough (pun intended, haha).

I’m going to try to update recipes and things I learn a little bit more frequently, going forward. I’d love to hear from any readers on tips or tricks or recipes you have, too!




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Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

Although there are gluten free bakeries and the grocery store even offers some gluten free baked goods options, I still steer pretty clear of baked goods now that I’m gluten free. Maybe I’m cheap, since I don’t want to pay $6+ for a couple of frozen donuts or muffins. Maybe I’m nervous they’ll taste terrible and I’ll feel guilty for “wasting that money” (hey, it happened on a $7 tiny frozen gluten free pizza that tasted like cardboard with tomato paste on it). Or, maybe the cost is just an excuse to deny myself those not-so-healthy options. Whatever the case may be, since going gluten free I definitely wait until I really REALLY want a baked good before allowing myself one. I’ve determined that I prefer baking my own to buying the frozen grocery store items (which I have never tried, so I’m not knocking ’em). But, with baking, I get to make what I want to make. Tonight, I ventured into muffin land… chocolate chocolate chip muffins, to be exact. 

I remember many Easter and Thanksgiving mornings my family would meet my grandma and cousins at Perkins for breakfast. Of course, at Perkins with your breakfast order you always have the option of toast, pancakes, or a muffin. Naturally, I would get a muffin to go (for breakfast the next day). More often than not, that muffin choice was a chocolate chocolate chip muffin, dusted with powdered sugar. Certainly not the healthiest choice, but oh-so-good.

For me since being gluten free, I generally don’t miss my previous gluten loves. Although, I do miss the convenience of it all. But, once in a while, I’ll see a past love and feel a tinge of sadness, and sometimes a craving that I wont be able to shake, which leads me to a google search and some baking.

Thanks to Gluten Free on a Shoestring for posting this recipe.


Tonight, I knew I wanted muffins. I couldn’t think of what kind to make (feeling lazy as Ryan and I had came to the end of our grocery shopping and not wanting to traipse back through the store to figure out a muffin flavor ingredient to buy). We were already in the baking aisle, so Ryan suggested his favorite kind of muffin, one with chocolate chips. So, I grabbed a bag of mini-chocolate chips and we headed for the check out. (Yes, we were grocery shopping at dinner time, and we were both hungry already.) After dinner, I pulled out the iPad and started my muffin recipe search. My first google search pulled up a few options, but they required xanthum gum (an ingredient I have yet to try out). So I decided to narrow my search: Better Batter chocolate chip muffins. (I have a few boxes of Better Batter All Purpose Flour Mix in the pantry). Ding! I found Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins using Better Batter flour (without the need for any xanthum gum or other weird ingredients I didn’t have on hand.

I followed the recipe instructions straight through (although my milk was not room temp, and I didn’t shake it, I stirred it) and I added mini chocolate chips. I also made 14 muffins, instead of the suggested 12. The batter was like whipped marshmallow cream, pretty thick and sticky. I filled up each muffin cup how I normally would (pre-gluten free days), about 2/3 full, but I had a LOT of batter left after my 14 muffin cups were full. So, I decided to top each muffin tin off with a bit more batter. Interestingly enough, my baked muffins came out with nice peaked muffin tops, similar to their gluten relatives.


These muffins were pretty easy to make, look delicious, and should satisfy any chocolate craving. And they are amazing…moist, gooey, chocolatey goodness.

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Five Guys Burgers & Fries

As any gluten free eater knows, eating out can be a challenge, especially when you’re not in a familiar place. Friday afternoon Ryan and I were running around the state working on things for the house. Around lunch time I pulled out my phone to find a gluten free option. I googled “gluten free” + the city we wanted to eat in. Lucky for me, google came through, linking me to the Urban Spoon page for that city’s gluten free dining options. I read off a few choices, and ultimately we decided to try Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

If you had known me in college, you would be surprised that I would pick a burger place for lunch. Oh how times change. Back then, I was a pseudo-vegetarian. I ate mostly vegetarian (especially when I was cooking), but would eat meat on occasion (especially if someone else was cooking… I didn’t like to be a burden). Ha, how times have changed. Now, I often find myself ordering a burger without the bun, well, because sometimes that’s the best option when dining out gluten free.

At any rate, we walked into Five Guys to see the place pretty packed, bags of potatoes running down the center of the restaurant. It looked 50’s-esqu with checked tile on the walls. I quickly read through the menu, they only offer a few burger options (with & without cheese, bacon) or hot dogs, and you add your toppings. They also make pretty good hand-cut fries. I ordered a gluten free cheese burger with grilled onions, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Ryan got a double with the same toppings + jalapenos. We ordered a medium fry to share.


I was busy reading all the signs on the walls, touting how great Five Guys is to notice, but Ryan informed me that the entire food crew changed gloves and cleaned off the food prep surfaces to make my burger. How awesome is that?!?! Not only did we find a place that I can eat the french fries, but they also take that extra step to ensure a safe meal for me. Thank you so much Five Guys!


Once we got our food, I was so ready to dig in, and wasn’t disappointed. The burger was juicy and fully loaded with my chosen toppings. The fries we hot, salty, and well, there was a lot of them. We devoured our lunches with smiles on our faces. I have to admit that I am partial to crispy french fries, which generally you don’t get with hand-cut fries. Although the Five Guys fries were not crispy, they were very tasty and satisfying. All-in-all, I give Five Guys 5-stars for their tasty burgers and fries and quick custom-made fare.

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Apricot Kielbasa Slices

When you’re gluten free and you need a dish to share for a potluck, or you want a tasty hot hors devours, what do you bring? Well, the frozen meatballs cooked in a delectable sauce is pretty much out. But, what about Kielbasa? Oooh, goodness! I found this recipe while hunting for an Oktoberfest snack to bring to a friend’s party. Personally, I’m a big fan of kielbasa sausage, and I’ve been able to find lots of flavor varieties that are gluten free. Both my local Cub Foods and Sam’s Club carry plenty of gf options.

Thanks to Taste of Home, where I found the original recipe for this gf snack.

  • 1 pound fully cooked kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  • In a large skillet, brown sausage; drain and set aside. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet; cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Return sausage to the pan; cook for 5-6 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm. Yield: 4 dozen.

You can make this dish and keep it warm in a crockpot, or you can be (lazy) like me, and just make the whole dish in the crockpot (cooking at least until hot). I do think the smokey kielbasa flavor is enhanced by browning the sausage first, but certainly that depends on the time you have and your personal taste.

Taking this dish beyond just a snack, I’ve served the kielbasa in apricot sauce over rice and made a meal out of it (with a veggie either on the side or mixed in, broccoli is delish). It’s sort of a German take on orange chicken (a favorite of Ryan’s & mine).

I wish I had pictures to share, but this dish is so yummy, I ate it all!


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Another Resource…

A few months ago, I was really craving cookies. Some days, you just want to feel normal and be able to eat what everyone else does. So, I set out to make some chocolate chip cookies. In my desire to have cookies, I didn’t feel like researching how to adjust the recipe for gluten free flours. I just made the recipe from the Toll House Chocolate Chip bag, no adjustments. The cookies taste fine, they’re rather thing, and not very moist or fluffy. All-in-all, I’d say it was a cookie success, especially considering I didn’t put any extra effort into them. I froze the 4 dozen cookies that I made and just pull out a cookie now and then when I need a cc cookie fix. It’s a great way to have cookies on hand (and to keep my husband from eating all of them right away). It’s also helpful because I need to really WANT the cookie and go to the effort to get one (and remember we have them), rather than just grabbing them from the pantry.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about gluten free baking and wishing I had more time on my hands to experiment. We all know that gluten free foods are really expensive. I have hopes to some day bake more of my own desserts and breads (successfully, that’s the key). I’m sure once the baby is born, I’ll find the time to do those things (haha). In my gluten days I would often swap apple sauce for butter in baked goods recipes, which made for ultra-moist delectable deserts. Ryan, though, hated how gooey the cookies, etc would get. And, I admit, the shelf-life of those items were a LOT shorter than the full butter version. But, I got to thinking… gluten free flours tend to need more moisture than “regular” recipes. Hmmm. Perhaps I need to try my substitution again, making for more figure-friendly, healthier treats. I haven’t yet had a chance to experiment, but through a little googling, did come across a nice resource for gluten free baking…

If you have any more baking tips, please share.

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Enchilada Lasagna Style

Since going GF, I’ve come to realize that corn tortillas are not nearly as pliable as their gluten-laced flour counterparts. That and they are so darn small! Making enchiladas with corn tortillas takes a lot of (rolling) work. So, in a pregnant-lady-starving-hunger-need-to-make-dinner-pronto moment of genius, I decided to make an Enchilada Lasagna so to speak.  Instead of filling and rolling those tiny tortillas, why couldn’t I just stack them up? Brilliant. 


I already had some cooked shredded chicken on hand (rotisserie chicken would work great, too), which I combined with a can of diced green chilis. I layed out all of my ingredients and set to layering. 

Layer tortillas, refried beans, chicken/chilis

Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a glass pan, I used the green kind. Smear refried beans on tortillas and layer across the bottom of your pan, then sprinkle chicken/chili mixture and shredded cheddar cheese on top. Continue the layering process until you’ve used all of your ingredients (or filled your pan). Before the final top layer of cheese, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top, then layer on the cheese. Cover with tinfoil and bake for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, remove tinfoil for last few minutes to brown up the cheese. MMMM. 

add a layer of cheese

I made La Preferida Spanish Rice as a side dish, which was delicious…and a somewhat rare find for a gluten free flavored rice! 

La Preferida Spanish Rice


cooked chicken, shredded

refried beans (you could use black beans too)

diced green chilis

enchilada sauce

shredded cheddar cheese

optional: frozen or canned corn, onions, other veggies/meat, sour cream, tomatoes (fresh or canned), olives, jalapenos…anything else that sounds good to you. 



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Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

In my pre gluten free days I wasn’t a HUGE sandwich eater, but now and then I enjoyed a good philly cheesesteak or cuban sandwich. For the most part, since being gluten free I don’t really miss eating gluten things, except for the part where eating out is much more difficult and much less exciting. I was rather excited when I came across an idea on Pinterest for Philly Cheesesteak stuffed Bell Peppers. I knew it was something Ryan would love, and a new dinner option.

Green peppersWe started by sauteeing some chopped onion in olive oil with garlic, until the onions were soft and beginning to be translucent. This would be a perfect time to add mushrooms, if you’re including them (we didn’t, since Ryan doesn’t like mushrooms). Then add in chopped, sliced roast beef (from the deli counter is great). Sautee until the beef and onion are cooked through. I added a steak seasoning (one of those grilling mate type things). Once the beef and onions were warmed, assembly began. 

Slice green peppers in half top-to-bottom and clean out any seeds. 

peppers with cheeseLay the pepper halves on a foil lined cookie sheet (clean-up is that much easier). Line each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese (of pepper jack would be great, too). Pile on the onion and beef mixture, until the peppers are nearly over-flowing. Top with another slice of cheese. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. 

Peppers stuffed with meat and cheeseRyan and I made a couple of mistakes on this recipe, probably because I don’t actually follow recipes (unless I’m baking), I just use them as a guide. First off, we only used one slice of cheese total per pepper half (1/2 slice on the bottom and 1/2 slice on the top), it wasn’t quite cheesey/gooey enough. Secondly, we only baked the pepper for about 10 minutes, the cheese was nicely melted, but the peppers were still a little too raw. We threw them back in the oven for about 8 more minutes, resulting in a divine philly stuffed pepper. 

Ingredients (these are rough estimates, feel free to adjust to your liking)

4 green peppers

8 slices provolone cheese

1 lb sliced roast beef

1/2 large onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic

seasoning (salt/pepper, grill seasoning, etc)

1 Tablespoon olive oil, for sauteeing