Friday, November 17, 2017

Gluten Free Banana Cake with Maple Syrup

Gluten Free Banana Cake with Maple Syrup
This morning on our walk the sky was cloudy and it actually almost started to sprinkle, well maybe a total of 5 drops. We were trying to come up with a weather person like name for it and decided upon a trace. After consulting the dictionary I realized that trace has a few different meanings depending on how it’s worded in a sentence. And yes it does fit when talking about the weather, trace also fits when talking about food too and I can attest that there is no gluten in this banana cake, not even a trace, see…...

Now about this banana cake, it’s good, really good. If you need a gluten free dessert or hostess gift for this holiday season this would do the trick and you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry anyway. The cooked quinoa melds right in and the texture is wonderful. The bananas and maple syrup add just the right amount of sweetness. All in all a delicious, nutritious snack.

This recipe has been slightly adapted from the “Cooking with Super Grains” cookbook by Joanna Farrow.

Gluten Free Banana Cake with Maple Syrup right out of the oven

Yield: 6 to 8

Gluten Free Banana Cake with Maple Syrup

This banana cake is incredibly moist and delicious. Also healthy enough for breakfast, and cake for breakfast is always good!


  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed (I used a tri-color quinoa)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ½ teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3  large eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup unsweetened flake coconut
  • 2 small bananas mashed
  • ½ cup raisins ( I used golden)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 7 inch round pan or a 8 x 4 loaf pan.
  2. In a small saucepan add quinoa and 2/3 cup water, bring to a gentle boil, cover and cook for approx. 15 minutes, until soft. Drain and turn onto a plate, let cool, set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer add butter and syrup and beat until smooth and creamy. Add almond meal, apple pie spice, baking powder, eggs, coconut, bananas, raisins and then mix until combined.
  4. Stir in quinoa and then pour into baking pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until firm to touch and a toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!
Created using The Recipes Generator

Monday, November 13, 2017

Wild Rice Stuffing with Apple, Cranberry, Pecan and Sausage

Wild Rice Stuffing with Apple, Cranberry and Sausage
From October to December we seem to have one birthday after another. Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy our family time together but things can get hectic. This weekend was my granddaughters 4th birthday and what fun she had, face painting and crown making. I love watching her socialize with her little friends. Elsa and Spider-Man (Univ of AZ drama students) came to the party and Elsa sang her signature song.

My husband and I also baked a turkey and made a Wild Rice Stuffing with apple, cranberry, pecan and sausage. Being that the “sides” are my favorite part of a holiday meal I usually test and evaluate several recipes. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it;) Although I did swap a few of the ingredients, the flavors and textures worked incredibly well together and was worth the somewhat time consuming instructions. My biggest fear with this recipe was that the rice would dry out too much the next day but I’m glad to report that this dish re-heats beautifully.

This recipe has been adapted from the website.

Wild Rice Stuffing with Apple, Cranberry and Sausage

Yield: 8 to 10

Wild Rice Stuffing with Apple, Cranberry and Sausage

This wild-rice stuffing with apples, dried cranberries, pecans and sausage is rustic, earthy and delicious. Sure to be a new holiday favorite!


  • 1 cup Lundberg Wild Blend rice (or wild rice of your choice)
  • 4 cups pumpernickel day-old bread, cut into ½ inch cubes)
  • 1 medium onion, small chop
  • 2 tart apples, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 3 cups chicken or turkey low-salt broth
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1½ tablespoons minced fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon each, salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F
  2. Prepare rice according to package directions. Drain well.
  3. In the meantime,  spread bread on a baking sheet; bake, turning over halfway through, until dry and crisp, about 25 to 35 minutes, set aside.
  4. Now Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees . 
  5.         Coat a 3- to 4-quart baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
  6. In a large skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onion until soft, add sausage, stir and break up with a spoon, until the sausage is browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add apples and celery; cook for 3 minutes more.
  7. Transfer the sausage mixture to a large bowl. Add rice and bread, stir in broth, cranberries, pecans, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.
  8. Scoop into prepared baking dish and cover tightly with foil.
  9. Bake the stuffing for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is browned, 15 to 20 minutes more.


To reheat splash in a tablespoon or two of water. Oven, cover with aluminum foil 350°F for 15-20 minutes, Microwave, cover with saran wrap, or paper towel and re-heat 4-6 minutes.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts
Last week I was in Oregon to clean out and ready our home on the coast for the new owners. The first few days were spent dividing, separating and donating many of our things. Evenings and quiet hours were spent reminiscing.

One of our first projects and one that took about 6 years, was clearing out our overgrown yard. The yard is almost half an acre and was full of trees, blackberry bushes, mallow, dandelion, ivy and just about every weed known to man. Surprise is the word that comes to mind when we first realized we had stairs in the front and back yard, at the time we couldn’t believe our good fortune. That summer we cleaned out all the tiered rock flower beds and filled them all with landscapers paper and wood shavings. The yard was beautiful! The next summer we came back and all of the wood chips had blown away. Oh, did we learn the hard way………

In the end the buyers dropped out of the sale, and yes you read that right………. we still own our home on the Oregon coast;)

Anyway, I’m now back in Phoenix and working on the sides to serve with our Thanksgiving meal this year (the sides are my favorite). I try to keep my dishes somewhat traditional but at the same time healthy and delicious. Oven space is also a big part of the consideration as we will be having dinner at my daughter’s house. What I love about this Brussels sprout recipe is that the prepping and paring can all be done ahead of time. I bought the chestnuts, cooked and prepped from Trader Joe's. They have a slightly sweet and earthy taste that lends well with the saltiness of the pancetta and savory earthiness of the sprouts.

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts
Hope you like this dish as much as we did, xo Cheri

Yield: 8 to 10

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Make your holiday meal special with sautéed Brussels sprouts, crispy pancetta bits and chestnuts”.


  • 2 ounces pancetta cubed
  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chestnuts, rough-chop (I used Trader Joe's organic peeled and cooked chestnuts)


  1. In a large skillet sauté pancetta bits until crispy, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Add Brussels sprouts and sauté on medium-high heat for about 4-6 minutes until crisp tender. Add 1/4 cup water and cook until evaporated another 2 minutes or so. Add garlic and stir continuously for 1 minute.
  3. Stir-in pancetta and chestnuts, ready to serve


Can be made ahead of time. Just re-heat and serve.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Non-Traditional Decaf Thai Iced Tea, #steviva #sweetandeasy #Nectevia

I was sent complimentary products from Steviva to use for their Steviva Blogger Recipe Challenge contest for the purpose of creating a recipe. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Decaf Thai Iced Tea #Nectevia
A few months ago I signed up for Steviva’s very first annual blogger recipe challenge, you can read about the contest here. There are 3 parts to the contest; beverages (alcohol and non-alcohol), entrees, and baking. I submitted a recipe for the entrée category here. Today I am submitting my Thai Ice Tea recipe for the drink category of the challenge.

All the ingredients needed for the Thai Iced Tea
For today’s recipe I used Nectevia with Stevia which is a blend of organic stevia extract and organic blue agave nectar. Nectevia is a reduced calorie, sound alternative to sugar and syrup and is also gluten-free. It was the perfect sweetener to use for the Thai Iced tea that I made as it dissolves seamlessly and I only added 1 teaspoon for 3 to 4 glasses of tea. Nectevia also has a slight honey taste which I found to be an excellent fit with the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and star anise spices that makes up my recipe. What’s great about Stevia’s products is that you only need half the amount of sugar that is required in a typical recipe. Also the sweetness from the Stevia-based sweeteners are derived from plants which is a healthier alternative when comparing to the artificial sweeteners.

I started making my own Thai Iced tea a few years back because caffeine in any shape or form really plays havoc on my stomach. Using a decaffeinated herbal tea is not traditional but it allows me to indulge when the occasion arises and not feel bad afterwards. I like the fact that I can use ½ of the normal amount of sugar used in a typical recipe with the same results.

For more recipe ideas, check out Steviva's social media links and websites:






I am submitting this recipe for the drink category of the Stevia blogger challenge.

Yield: 3 to 4

Non-Traditional Thai Iced Tea


  • 4 cups water
  • 4 bags black tea or Rooibos
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon Nectevia
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • mint for garnish


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat. You can steep everything in the pan or use a coffee press. Place the tea bags, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods in the water, make sure they are completely submerged. Steep for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the tea bags, star anise, and cloves, cloves, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Add the Nectevia and stir until dissolved. Let the tea cool to room temperature.
  4. To serve: Use tall glasses and fill each with ice cubes. Pour tea about 3/4 of the way. Add one tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk to each glass, and stir to combine. Enjoy!


I used Rooibos tea as it does not contain caffeine and has low tannin levels compared to black tea or green tea.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Monday, October 23, 2017

Zucchini Noodles with Walnuts and Caramelized Ricotta

Zucchini Noodles with Walnuts and Caramelized Ricotta
This morning was cool enough for a sweater, a sweater you guys!! Loving this time of year. Had a crazy busy weekend and now the hubs is away on a business trip which gives me a little time to get myself and the kitchen back together. Lucy is 8 ½ months now and has quite the personality, she is incredibly sweet, very curious and has an unrelenting amount of energy. Next weekend we plan on taking her to Spur Cross or Tom’s Thumb for an long strenuous hike.

Lucy in Yosemite, her first snow
Now these might look like plain old zucchini noodles (which is perfectly fine) but after a short stint sitting in boiling hot water ( 1 minute) and then a short time in a skillet with olive oil you have nothing short of a masterpiece. The ricotta cheese is topped with lemon zest, chili flakes and a of drizzle of honey. Then baked for about 15 to 20 minutes until caramelized. To serve; the noodles are topped with the ricotta and lemon slices, then garnished with walnuts and parsley. In Anna’s recipe she uses pistachios and makes an herby mint and basil pesto which I will make next time.

I would like to note that the end result of the caramelized ricotta cheese was amazing and an fantastic way to add more flavor and texture.

This recipe has been adapted from “A Modern Way To Cook”, by Anna Jones.

 Y-shaped noodle handler

Yield: 2 to 3

Zucchini Noodles with Walnuts and Caramelized Ricotta

Zucchini might look old and boring but No.... she is full of life and flavor!! This recipe lets the zucchini shine.


  • 2 medium zucchini, spiralized, I have a spirilizer but for this recipe I used the Y shaped shaped gadget.
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 organic lemon - half is zested, the other half is sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon organic local honey
  • 1 handful roasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Boil a small sauce pan of water.
  2. Put ricotta in a small oven proof baking dish, add the lemon zest, dried pepper flakes and the drizzle of honey. Bake for 15-20 minutes until caramelized on top.
  3. Slice or spiralize the zucchini, I have a spiralizer but since I was only using two zucchini I used my hand Y-shaped gadget, see pic above. Place zucchini in a heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water. Leave to sit for about a minute. Remove and drain.
  4. In a medium-sized heavy skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil and then noodles, let then cook just a minute maybe two, remove from skillet.
  5. Divide between two plates, add ricotta, lemon slices, Check seasoning, and serve with the ricotta crumbled over the top, garnish with walnuts and parsley.


I would like to note that the end result of the caramelized ricotta cheese was amazing and an fantastic way to add more flavor and texture.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry

Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry
Yesterday was the second week of the Phoenix farmers market. I came armed with my insulated soft cooler and camera. After arriving I was over taken by the variety and beauty of the fruits and veggies, a plant eaters paradise for sure. Once again I forgot to take pictures. The farmers markets in the desert are very impressive in the fall and winter, just the opposite of the Oregon coast. Would love to have shared some pics, well, there’s always next time;)

One of the first veggies I placed in my basket was the Japanese eggplant. They are long and thin with a lovely purplish hue and firm flesh. When cooked they become soft, creamy and practically melt in your mouth. I decided a stir-fry would be a great way to cook up this variety of eggplant. And when I think of stir-fry I think of hot, spicy and lots of flavor. The trick is to cook the eggplant in very hot oil and not crowd the pan. I served the eggplant on a bed of jasmine rice but you could also serve it on rice noodles. Hope you like this as much as we did.

This recipe has been slightly adapted from the Food Network.

Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry Plated

Yield: 3 to 4

Szechuan Eggplant Stir-Fry


  • 2 pounds of Japanese eggplants, cut lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts, sliced thinly on a diagonal, divided, save 1/3 for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 fresh red chile, sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.
  2. Heat wok over medium-high heat and add peanut and sesame oil, When you see a light ripple in the oil add a single layer of eggplant, stir-fry until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and set aside, cook the remaining eggplant in the same way, add more oil, if needed, add to same dish, set aside.
  3. Now add green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile; and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth and soy sauce mixture into the wok and cook another minute, the sauce should thicken slightly. Add back in the eggplant, stir until the sauce is absorbed. Garnish with green onions and cilantro. Serve with rice or noodles.


Have all ingredients prepped beforehand. Also cook the eggplant in very hot oil and not crowd the pan.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Monday, October 9, 2017

The New American Heart Association Cookbook, 9th Edition

Heart health is very important to me, both sides of my family have had health issues. For that reason I have learned that exercise and eating right is paramount; but keeping stress levels to a minimum is also important. Nowadays I rely on my annual Dr visits and many on-line resources that are available. The most valuable tip I have learned is that it is up to myself to champion and care about my own health, if something doesn’t sound or feel right see I will another doctor.

Recently I had the opportunity to check out “The New American Heart Association Cookbook”, that has been revised and updated. There are over 800 recipes that are designed with your heart health in mind. The recipes are low in sugar, salt, fats and carbohydrates with an emphasis on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Many spices and herbs are used to create flavor.

This book begins with tips, foods, and ideas on healthy eating. Each recipe contains a nutrition analysis based on the guidelines set at the beginning of the book. For example meat is analyzed as lean with all visible fat discarded. Based on these tips you should be able to get more accurate information to help with your dietary needs. The “Salads and Salad Dressings section is one of the largest and my favorite.

Pumpkin Pie Bites
From the desserts section I prepared the Pumpkin pie bites which are made without the crust. They are made with pumpkin puree, banana, light coconut milk, molasses, brown sugar and the typical pie spices. I added a dab of whip cream to the top when serving. They were tasty without all the carbs normally associated with pie crust and just the perfect size.

The only problem I had with this book was that there were no photographs or drawings of any kind. Being the visual person that I am, this takes away the end result and conceptual imagery on how the recipe should look in the end.

This cookbook is a great resource for someone who has to watch their intake of sugar, salt, or carbs and wants to eat a little better and is looking for heart healthy recipes.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.