Honey and Vinegar Pork chops

If you are looking for the easiest and fastest dinner, look no further. This was a throw in the pot, set the timer, and eat kind of meal. I am not a huge fan of pork chops. Mainly because they can be so boring. Plain, barbecue, Parmesan crusted, and stuffed are the main recipes I found online. It was difficult finding something with a little more flavor. At last I found something with a little more appeal from Predominately Paleo. The Instant Pot really allowed all the flavors to seep into the meat.


Season your pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.¬† Sear your pork on both sides in your Insta Pot by using the saute option. Add in garlic, honey, and vinegar. I didn’t have balsamic vinegar, I subbed coffee vinegar instead to mix it up a little bit.


Secure the lid, make sure the valve is set to sealing. Select “Poultry” high pressure for 15 min. Quick release when the cycle is complete. Serve with your favorite side ūüôā


  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 tbs garlic
  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 C local honey
  • 1/4 butter

Copy Cat GF/Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana Soup

It has been on the cooler side in the South Bay with temperatures in the mid 60’s. Soup seemed quite fitting for the evening hours as it cooled down to only 55 degrees. Since I have been on a mission to not make or remake something I already knew about, I reached out to Pinterest. Now, I didn’t come across this by mistake. My mom had told me about a soup she had at my cousin’s house. Curious, I asked my cousin what she had made. Copy Cat Zuppa Toscana Soup from Olive Garden. I had no idea what she was talking about. I have not been to Olive Garden in about 6 years; about the same time I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I found the recipe from “Recipes For Insta Pot” and gave it a whirl.

The ingredients were not to hard to get. I just needed to sub some of them out to ensure it was gluten free and dairy free. The baby isn’t doing so well with me eating a lot of dairy.

20180502_171404This was an easy one pot recipe. You can fry your sausage and bacon in a separate pan and then add it to your IP to make draining the grease easier.

Turn your IP on the sauté feature. Add the sausage, crumble with a wooden spoon while it is browning. Once browned, add in chopped onion and minced garlic. I waited 2-3 minutes before adding the bacon. The onions were translucent. Give your bacon a few minutes in the pot to release the fat. Turn your IP off. Drain grease from the IP. Leave sausage, bacon, onions, and garlic in your pot.

What was nice is my bacon and sausage did not have a lot of grease. Instead of draining the minuscule amount, I left it in for additional flavor.


Add in chopped potatoes and chicken broth. Stir. Select the pressure cook option for 4 minutes. Make sure to set steam release knob to seal.  It will take the pot some time to reach the accurate pressure. Once it does it will begin to countdown from 4 minutes. When completed, let it natural release pressure for 10 minutes, then quick release an additional pressure.

Remove the lid once you see the pin has dropped. Add in chopped kale. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Kale will look wilted. Stir in heavy cream. Serve, Enjoy!

This was so quick and easy. It tastes even better the next day when the flavors have a chance to blend even more. If using sweet potatoes like you see in the picture above, I’d recommend shortening the pressure cooking time. My potatoes came out a little over done with 5 minute cook time.



  • 1 lb hot sausage*
  • 4 strips of thick bacon chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4-6 medium potatoes*
  • 5 C chicken broth
  • 1 bunch of kale with stem removed, cut into thin strips
  • 1 C heavy whipping cream*



  • 1 lb mild GF sausage. Add in jalapenos when serving for additional heat
  • I used a half pack of regular bacon. Could not find GF thick sliced.
  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes.
  • 1 C dairy free half and half

Vegan GF Asian Pot Stickers

Truly, I fear making any type of gluten free dough. After a few bad pie crusts, cinnamon rolls, and chicken pot pie…..I vowed just to bake cakes for the rest of eternity. However, I have this Insta Pot that my in-laws bought us and I really needed to test its potential (or mine) Why pot-stickers/dumplings in an Insta Pot? I blame Master Chef Junior. The show did a team challenge on an episode a few weeks back where they did an Asian plate. 8-13 year old could make an entire plate in 60 mins, I could easily make one thing in an hr. It was enough motivation for me map out my quest to make Asian Pot Stickers.

Research. Research. Research. I finally found how to make the dough gluten free from Andrea Nguyen and her website. The key was to read the instructions, and follow them, not something I normally do. Next was to find a vegan/GF filling and how to steam in the Insta Pot. I found this from Healthy Slow Cooking Blog.

First the dough. Easy enough. Boil the water and remove until it stops bubbling. In a bowl have 2 cups of GF flour ready and create a well. I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 cup which already had xanthan gum added. Pour in 3/4 cup just boiled water and mix together. Keep in mind GF dough is rather sticky, but the more you knead it, the more elastic it becomes. It should be a semi smooth dough. Place in a plastic bag to rest for 30 minutes. I used a Zip Lock freezer bag. The resting portion is VERY important- do not skip

While the dough is resting, prep your vegetables. 20180423_172052

This recipe initially called from shiitake mushrooms, but my local grocer was all out. I subbed in baby bella mushrooms. Mince 1 C mushrooms and 1.5 C of cabbage. Shred 1/2 carrots. Add 1 tbs of oil to a pan and sautè mushrooms first until the release their juices. Toss in cabbage, carrots, soy sauce, and vinegar. Heat until mixture is dry. Add in 1 tsp of fresh ginger.


Next, the hard part. Rolling out all those dumplings. I’m no expert, so my dumpling rolling was done the best I could with out a dumpling roller. I STRONGLY advise investing in a roller. I already went and bought one after making these. I cut out my dumplings with a vintage biscuit cutter; it was the perfect size. Also the first time I had ever used it. I then thinned them out to what I “thought” was thin enough. Again…buy a dumpling roller.


Not pretty, or thin enough.

Fill your dumplings with 1 tbs of filling. Fold in half to create a crescent moon shape. You can crimp in 2 places if you’d like. GF dough is stickier, you do not need to water the edges to help them stick. Just smooth out and the dough will adhere to itself.


Dumplings need to be steamed in the Insta Pot (IP). No bamboo steamer? No steam rack? Not a professional cook? Great! Me Either HA. There are two ways to get around not having a bamboo steamer. First, you can use the vegetable steamer with the IP by adding 1.5 C of water to the bottom and spraying the steamer rack with oil. Place your dumplings side down on rack and lower into IP to steam. OR¬†you can get creative. I used 3 canning rings placed in my IP. Then I created aluminum balls to sit a IP safe pan for 1 layer. I flipped the steamer/trivet upside down and created a 2nd layer. Laugh at this all you want….I thought I was a genius since I forgot this crucial accessory in my dumpling making prep work. No, I did not document this masterpiece.

Turn on your IP, put the lid on and make sure that the steam release handle is sealed. Select the steam setting and lower the time to 7 minutes. Open the steam release valve manually.

I was amazed how well these turned out. They were a little sticky given the GF dough. I ended up pan frying them 2 mins on each side for a little crisp in 2 tbs of butter. My husband and I gobbled them up so quickly that I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Maybe next time.


Ingredient List Filling

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil¬†
  • 1 cup (70 g) minced shiitake mushrooms
  • (or substitute white mushrooms) – baby bella tasted great too
  • 1 1/2 cups (105 g) minced cabbage – I used purple
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) shredded carrot
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce GF
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger


  • 2 cups GF flour for dumplings
  • 2 teaspoons xantham gum* if your flour does not include it already
  • or you can use 12 round vegan dumpling wrappers
  • 3/4 cup of water

A Break From Meat

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that my intake of red meat was increasing. Michael had mentioned even he was beginning to feel kind of sluggish. I needed a new vegetarian dinner to make to break the trend. Bring on the butternut squash. Not quite the season for it, but I found it on sale ($.99 per LB) at our local grocery and couldn’t resist.

A healthy vegetarian Mexican-inspired dinner -- butternut squash and black bean enchilada skillet. Ready in less than 30 minutes! 13g fiber & 16g protein per serving!Tried and true Pinterest provided some appetizing recipes, until I settled on one from Monique at Ambitious Kitchen in one of her posts via 2013. Her image of the finished result of Enchilada Skillet sold me as seen to the left. Plus I had a new vegetable peeler I bought specifically for peeling butternut squash (actually for all vegetables, but it was sharp enough to do the job) It is pretty awesome that I recommend checking it out on Amazon. precision peeler 



After making the butternut squash and enchilada skillet, I was telling my dad how delicious it was. He sent mom to ask me for the recipe. I made mine slightly different as in I didn’t follow the directions, and I left out the jalapeno. My pictures of making it aren’t professional, but it does give you inside look at a curious cook who loves to try new things. Blogging about food being one of them.

First you need peel your squash, cut off both ends, and then slice it down the middle for easier dicing. Then scoop out your seeds like your would a pumpkin or cantaloupe. If you aren’t sure, there are great pictures on Monique’s post. Bypass this completely if butternut squash is out of season or you simply don’t feel like cutting up squash, and buy the already cubed version in the vegetable section.

In a large skillet- I prefer cast iron- heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil, diced onion, and garlic, until onions are transparent. Add your cubed squash and sauté until squash is soft but firm. Too soft and you will have mashed squash in your skillet.  This takes about 10-15 minutes depending on your skillet. Add chili powder and cumin and toss until squash is coated.  Add the black beans until warm.










While your squash is saut√©ing, cut your corn tortillas into wide strips. I cut mine about 1/2″ wide across, and then cut those into 1” pieces. You can see my cut pieces in the picture below. Toss those in after the black beans. Add your enchilada sauce and 1/2 C cheese, stir to combine. Due to the warm day and no A/C in my apartment I omitted the other 1/2 cup of cheese under the broiler for 2-3 minutes from the original recipe. The outcome was still delicious.


Serve with sour cream, guacamole, or hot sauce! I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and found the tartness refreshing.




  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced, peeled butternut squash (from about a 2-lb. squash)
  • salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 yellow corn tortillas, cut into thick strips
  • 1-15 ounce can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup reduced-fat colby jack or mexican cheese (or whatever you prefer), divided

Pizza is The Light of My Soul (East Coast)

If anyone knows me, knows I love pizza. Mostly just for the slight hint of garlic, toasted edges brushed with warm butter. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

But 3 years ago, all that ewy gooey goodness came to end when I had to start eating without gluten (wheat, barley, rye) That didn’t stop me from exploring. If there is a pizza place that serves gluten free pizza, presume I am going to (risk) try going there. As most us gluten-free eaters know, there is always a risk of contact with gluten in a un-dedicated kitchen.

Here are few I have visited in various states along the East Coast.

Marcos¬†Huntington, WV. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†I typically went for the Hawaiian (pineapple, bacon, and ham) or Meat Lovers (sausage, pepperoni, ham) pizza on a frozen 12″¬†Udi’s¬†thin crust covered in a thick rich tomato sauce. This specific Marco’s Pizza was trained in cross contamination, so I worried very little when ordering from there. Which was a lot.

Pies and Pints¬†Charleston, WV. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Another knowledgable franchised restaurant that served their pizza on a Udi’s crust, but 6″ instead of 12″. I would order the “Steak & Mushroom” with a horseradish crema. This crema balanced out the woodsiness of the mushrooms and saltines from carmalized onions to give it a rich buttery flavor.

Pizza Hut¬†Ravenswood, WV. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The area lacked a range of regular food options and next to nothing for gluten-free. A pepperoni and cheese on 12″ Udi’s crust was only ordered in desperate times. Luckily, Pizza Hut does mention that their pizza is not made in a dedicated kitchen, and risks contact with gluten ingredients. Advise those with Celiac Disease to order at your own risk. I have been contaminated a couple of times from here.

Donatos¬†Columbus, OH. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Donato’s creates their own gluten-free crust made from brown rice and tapioca flours. I have ordered a pepperoni and cheese, and a vegetable pie with very little symptoms afterwards. I think I keep going back to this one for the garlic, and herbaceous sauce on extra crispy crust.

Pizza Rev, Columbus, OH. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†I ate at one on the college campus, because there weren’t many other options to choose from. They make their crust standard with rice and tapioca flours. Primarily made to jump on the gluten free movement for those cutting back or just going gluten free according to the company. I stayed basic with vegetable toppings, basic tomato sauce and prayed I didn’t get sick.

Pizza Rustica¬†Columbus, OH. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†I remember very little about this place. I also don’t belive it is still in business, so I’m going to pass up the flavor profile.

Your Pie, Savannah/Roswell, GA.                                                                                                      A lovely franchise similar to a Chipotle in which you build your individual pie your way, or from a menu of sorts. The company pre-makes their rice/tapioca flour crust and bakes it in a separate aluminum pan therefore eliminating contamination in the large brick oven. The more knowledgeable employee would prepare my personal pizza in the back using ingredients not yet placed out on the floor to help with cross contamination. Due to spinning flour dough and shaping it with regular flour, there is notice that some flour particles could land on toppings. Do not recommend this for a severe celiac, as this had happened to me at the Roswell location.

California Pizza, Atlanta, GA.                                                                                                              I was unable to find out what they use as their base in the crust, but did come across this statement

              These gluten-free pizzas are prepared using the strict procedures approved by The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), using a certified gluten-free crust and other ingredients verified by our suppliers as gluten-free.

There are 3 choices you can pick from that won’t risk contamination. Aside from the statement, I thought there pizza lacked flavor and fell short. Just as you would imagine anything gluten free would from a chain. Not a top contender if had to go back.

BJ’S Restaurant and Brew House, various locations. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†According to the website.

An herb-infused, 10-inch crust topped with pizza sauce and BJ‚Äôs signature five cheese blend. With the exception of our meatballs, all of BJ’s classic ingredients listed on the pizza page in our menu are gluten-free

¬†Not your typical place to order pizza, but it’s delicious. It comes as a small portion; be prepared to order something extra if you are a big eater. Risk of contamination: low but possible since it’s not made in a dedicated facility.

I’m sure I’ll be adding more to this list as I keep traveling. The idea is this list helps someone beginning their journey down the gluten free path

Mae Lively