Old fashioned Cinnamon-Sugar Cake Donuts (Gluten & Dairy Free!)








So back one snowy day in February, my friend Tammy was talking about these delicious gluten-free donuts that she makes from a non-gluten-free recipe that she got from the Miss Delish blog, who has adapted her recipe from an original Barefoot Contessa recipe. Ina and I go way back. (Don’t ask Ina– she doesn’t know about our one-sided friendship, but we really are old pals) When I realized these were originally a Barefoot Contessa recipe my first thought was Homemade donuts? How bad could that be?

The first order of business was obtaining the recipe from Tammy, who graciously sent me in the right direction and even recommended a couple of gluten-free flour blends. Next order of business– buy a donut pan. (Tammy helped with that, too.) Thanks to Amazon, I had one on my doorstep just 2 days after ordering it and just in time for Fastnacht Tag. (This is the one that I got.)

Fastnacht what? In German, it translates to Donut Day. Growing up in Pennsylvania in a very PA Dutch area, we celebrate Fastnacht Day as part of Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday for you Mardi Gras folks) and partake in all things fattening to prepare for the Lenten fasts. Our church would host a supper and would serve– get ready for this– pancakes with maple syrup, sausage, and donuts. Did your Pancreas just scream in horror? Yes? Mine too. It’s okay– this recipe only makes about six donuts which helps mitigate how grossly one is able to stuff oneself– especially if that one is sharing them with those they love.

Whatever the occasion you make these donuts for, you don’t need a special one! They’re perfect for a lazy Sunday or a snow day like we’re having today in Maryland.


Old fashioned Cinnamon-Sugar Cake Donuts
Adapted to be gluten & dairy free from Miss Delish by way of Barefoot Contessa.
Makes about 6-9 donuts.

1 cup gluten-free all- or multi-purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s Multi-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour because it’s what we had in the pantry. Tammy recommends Namaste Perfect Flour Blend.)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy milk
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (see note below)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I really like the Penzey’s Mexican vanilla for baking.)
extra coconut oil for greasing the donut pan

Cinnamon sugar coating:
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (see note below)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

In a small/medium mixing bowl combine the milk and vinegar and set aside until thick. (This takes only a few minutes.) Then to the sour milk mixture add in the egg, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing to combine. Set aside while you prepare the donut pan.

Lightly grease a regular-sized 6-serving donut pan with coconut oil. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into the donut pan until each one is full but not overflowing. (If you fill the Wilton pan depressions, the recipe yields 6 donuts. To stretch the recipe to 9 donuts, fill the depressions only 3/4 of the way full.)

Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes until the donuts are lightly golden and spring back a bit when you touch the tops. As tempting as it will be, don’t open the oven door and peek while they are baking. That’s what the oven light is for. Cool for a minute in the pan and then turn the donuts out onto wire racks to finish cooling. (Be sure to put some parchment paper or wax paper under the wire racks so that you don’t make a mess on your counter when you do the finishing step to coat them in coconut oil and cinnamon sugar.)

When the donuts are cool: Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl wide enough to fit the donut but not much larger. Dip both sides of the donut in the melted coconut oil. Allow any excess to drip off before dunking in the cinnamon sugar. (Otherwise your cinnamon-sugar will get gross and clumpy.) Once drip-free, place the donut into the bowl with the cinnamon sugar. Spoon the mixture over the top side until the entire donut is coated. Place back on wire rack until ready to indulge. These will be messy to eat at first, but as the coconut oil on the donut cools it will return to a solid state and help to keep the cinnamon sugar attatched to the donut.

Note: While the oven is preheating, place a small bowl with the coconut oil inside directly next to the area where the oven vents on the stove top. The heat from the vent will gently melt the coconut oil while the oven preheats. Do this again while the donuts bake with the 1/4 cup of coconut oil for the last step, it will be melted by the time the donuts come out of the oven!



Kiki’s Best Ever Beef Stew










It’s been bitterly cold here in Maryland despite a few very Spring-like days and the fact that the crocuses in my side yard have unfurled their buttery yellow blossoms. On chillly days like this I love to make stew, soup, bread. Anything that involves a process and keeps me in the warm kitchen chopping, stirring, kneading, taste-testing. I’ve also been fighting a lingering cold and there’s something so comforting about a hearty stew when you’re feeling under the weather.

On Sunday, I made this delicious Beef Stew that filled that very need. The original recipe, from a recent issue of Cooking Light, sounded wonderful. Not able to leave well enough alone, I ended up adapting it to suit my needs and wants. I wanted something that would cook on the stove top instead of in the slow cooker. (This could still easily be done in the slow cooker, see note at the end of the recipe.) I stopped eating gluten towards the end of last year after realizing that it was playing a major role in my auto-immune health issues. The original recipe calls for beer and while I know gluten-free beer exists I’m not much of a beer drinker and knew that the specialty beer would come with a specialty price tag. So I decided to make some substitutions and changes in serving sizes. Everything worked out wonderfully– I ended up using a sparkling apple cider in place of the beer which added a really light richness without overwhelming the entire dish with sweetness. I added celery in place of so many onions.

My magic celery trick:
If you tend to avoid celery because you hate the stringiness of it you must use this trick! With a sharp vegetable peeler, run the peeling edge along the back side of the celery to remove the tough stringy pieces. This makes the celery so tender and wonderful you’ll never again have to pick celery strings out of your teeth. I can’t tell you how many people have remarked to me over my veggie trays at various parties that they usually don’t like celery because it’s so stringy but that they like this celery. It’s because I use the same technique before I cut up the stalks for the veggie trays. It really couldn’t be easier. Now you can enjoy raw celery as well as add it to your stews and braised dishes!

Now on to the recipe…

Kiki’s Best Ever Beef Stew
Pin this recipe on Pinterest!
gluten-free; dairy-free (Of course if you don’t follow those diets you can use traditional AP flour, etc.)
Adapted from this Cooking Light recipe.
Serves 4 really hungry people or 6 normally hungry people

1 pound all-natural “stew meat” cubes (this is typically a cut of boneless chuck roast; most stores in this area have packages pre-prepped for you which is super handy)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppercorns (I like to use a mix of the red, white, and black, but if you just have black that’s okay too.)
1 tablespoons canola oil
1 sweet onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 cloves garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 ounces sparkling apple cider (I like the organic Martinelli’s, if you can find it.)
1 1/4 cups beef broth or stock (I like Pacific or Imagine, both are gluten free)
1 1/2 pounds yellow fingerling potatoes, halved
3/4 lb carrots, scrubbed, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch thick segments
6 large stalks celery, peeled (see magic celery trick) and cut into 1-inch segments
4 bushy sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose gluten free flour (King Arthur makes a good blend.)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
additional sea salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste

Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle stew meat with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add beef to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning until well browned on all sides. Remove beef from pan and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the pan– sauté 4 minutes.

Add cider, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the sticky browned bits. Bring the cider to a boil and let it simmer for 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup of beef stock. Bring back up to a simmer.

Add the beef, potatoes, carrots, celery thyme, and bay leaves. Cover and cook over the lowest heat your stove allows for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving: Combine remaining 1/4 cup beef stock and gluten-free flour blend, stirring until combined and all lumps are removed. Stir flour mixture into stew; cook 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in mustard and vinegar. Discard woody thyme sprigs and the bay leaves. Check seasonings and add additional salt and pepper if desired.

Serve garnished with finely minced parsley.


Note: You can cook this in a slow cooker. Preheat the slow cooker (6-quart size works best) on low while you follow the instructions for cooking the meat and onions. (You do not need to use a dutch oven for that, a skillet or saute pan would work fine since you aren’t cooking the entire pot of stew inside.) After you add the cider to the sauteed onions and scrape up all of the brown bits, you can then transfer the cider and onions to the preheated slow cooker and follow the remaining instructions for adding the stock, beef, and other ingredients. (Do not add in the flour, mustard, or vinegar until you are ready to serve.) Cook over low for at least 6 hours. When ready to serve follow the directions above adding the stock and flour, then simmering for 15 minutes, then adding the mustard and vinegar and discarding the remaining herbs. Be sure to top with fresh parsley!

Loaded Potato Chowder- Gluten & Dairy Free!

Loaded Baked Potato Chowder by Kikiverde

I will admit that this post has been waiting in the wings for about a month now. Back when we still had up our Christmas tree, on a day similar to yesterday when there was ice glazing every surface and although dangerously slippery, it was quite lovely to look at. Almost like everything was encased in glass in some magical fairytale land.

Photo by Kikiverde.com

Soup is best enjoyed on those types of cold days. And best cooked on those days too, because you get to linger by the stove-top and keep warm. This soup is truly perfect for a chilly winter day. It’s loaded with lots of hearty scrumptious goodness like red potatoes, corn, and cubed ham. The not-so-top-secret ingredient is paprika, which you absolutely must include because it imparts such a deliciously smoky flavor and a gentle heat. I served the soup with gluten-free corn muffins, but really, you could make a meal just of this soup alone!

Fresh herbs for Loaded Potato Soup by Kikiverde

Chopped Celery on Kikiverde.com

Chopped Veggies on Kikiverde.com

Making potato chowder on Kikiverde.com

I’ve intended this soup to be gluten- and dairy-free, as that is the eating plan that seems to work best for my body, but feel free to make adjustments that work best for your family! Also, this soup can be easily modified for a Vegetarian/Vegan diet by omitting the ham and using Vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Loaded Potato Choweder Recipe on Kikiverde.com

Don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest!

Loaded Potato Chowder
Makes 8 servings


1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 stalks celery, diced (reserve some of the tender green leaves)
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2.5-3 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed and peels left on; cut in a 3/4″ dice
15-oz can of corn, drained
1 cup cubed ham (about 1/4″-1/2″ cubes)
1/4 cup fresh herbs, finely minced– I like parsley, thyme, chives, celery leaves, and oregano but you can use whatever (plus 2 tablespoons for garnish– the softer herbs like parsley, celery leaves and chives work best for the garnish)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (I like to use a mix of colored peppercorns, but just plain black peppercorns work fine too.)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (plus more for garnish)
8 cups (2 boxes) Chicken stock
1 cup almond milk (or whatever type of milk your family uses)


Gather, clean, prep, and chop all ingredients. It helps to have everything in bowls so you can just dump in ingredients as you need.

In a large Dutch Oven over medium heat, sauté the celery, carrots, and onions in the 1 teaspoon of olive oil for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften and the onions begin to turn translucent.

Add in the salt and pepper, paprika, herbs, ham, and the potatoes and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Turn the heat to low if anything starts to brown too much.

Add in the 2 boxes of chicken stock and the corn and allow to simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

I like the soup to be really creamy, so at this point I blend some of it. You can either use an immersion blender and blend around the pot a little bit until it gets to your desired texture, or you can remove 1/3-ish and blend it in a regular blender and add that back into the pot. (Just be careful and take care to NOT overload the blender more than half-way or you will have a giant mess and possibly injure yourself if the blender explodes. Unfortunately, I speak from experience.)

Once you’ve blended the soup (and returned the blended portion to the pot) add the almond milk, stir everything to combine, and allow to simmer another 2-3 minutes over how heat. Check the seasonings and add more salt/pepper if you wish.

To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and garnish with a pinch of paprika and a sprinkling of fresh minced herbs over top. The next time I made this I think I’d also like to add finely sliced rounds of green onion as well.

Loaded Baked Potato Chowder Recipe by Kikiverde

There you have it– a loaded baked potato soup that’s warm, hearty, and perfectly filling. It’s even better the next day, too!

February Sale in my Etsy Shop

There's a sale at Kiki(verde) Handmade!

I’m having a sale over at my Etsy shop! Use coupon code BEMINE to treat yourself or a friend to something lovely. Valid the entire month of February.

Shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/kikiverde

How to make a Felt Valentine Heart Sachet: A Tutorial

Felt Valentine Heart Sachet: A Tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

I know there are Valentine’s Day naysayers– those who believe it is a made up holiday, manufactured by greeting card and chocolate companies to push more goods. In a way, it’s true. It can be a really commercial time but it really doesn’t have to be. I like the idea of a special day to celebrate the ones you love, whether it be your romantic sweetie or your friend that doesn’t judge you when you always show up to her house in yoga pants and spa socks– and neither yoga or spa-going is on the agenda. This tutorial makes a really lovely, heart-felt gift for the special people in your life.

Felt Valentine Heart Sachet: A Tutorial

You can do a lot with the heart sachet: Hang one over a hanger in your coat closet and keep that doggy musk at bay, or in your regular clothes-closet to lightly fragrance your favorite cuddly sweater. It makes a great air freshener and you could hang it in your car to spruce up that stale air without having that essence of artificial pine permeate everything you own. It also makes a charming decoration hung from a cabinet hook or door knob. You could also loop the ribbon around a rolled napkin and use them as sweet favor for a Valentine’s dinner. At my house, I have one nestled in a pretty bowl I got on half-price day at the local thrift shop with some acorn caps I gathered on a recent walk in the woods and one of my handmade Valentine Ribbon Pinecones. (Which you can buy in my Etsy shop!)


These are really easy to make and great to stitch while you’re watching the latest season of Downton Abbey, or When Calls the Heart, or Gold Rush. Or really any time that the temperature outside is bitter cold and you are cozy and nestled on the couch under a thick layer of quilts justifying spending hours in front of the telly. It’s winter– what else are you supposed to do?!

Felt Valentine Heart Sachet: A Tutorial

You will need:
Felt- in 2 coordinating colors (You can get all fancy and use really nice wool felt here or just get the inexpensive recycled fiber eco-felt that they sell at most craft stores. Either will work.)
Muslin (Or any kind of scrap 100% cotton– quilting cotton would work really well and it will be hidden.)
All-purpose sewing thread- any color, this will be hidden
Embroidery floss- to coordinate with your felt colors
A stray button- to coordinate with your felt colors
Ribbon or colored string- to hang your sachet; about 8-10 inches
Dried flowers or Herbs for stuffing for sachet- about 3 tablespoons per sachet
(Need ideas? Try lavender, chamomile, rose petals, sarsaparilla root, cedar chips, sage, spearmint, rosemary– anything that smells good to you! Often times you can find these in the bulk bins at your grocery store in the spice section. My local markets also carry these types of items in the loose tea section as well as the bath/beauty section.)
Scissors- I used fancy-dancy pinking shears to cut the muslin, but plain old Fiskars would work just fine and that’s what I used in later versions of the project.
a few straight pins
needles- one needle for sewing with all-purpose thread and one with a larger eye for sewing with embroidery floss
Printable Pattern (Download the PDF pattern here.)
If you have a funnel or a piece of thick paper that you can roll into a funnel it would be helpful!

Valentine Heart Sachet tutorial by Kikiverde

Step 1: Decide whether you want to make the traditional heart shape or the skinny heart shape. (This tutorial shows the skinny shape.) Cut out your pattern and pin the pattern pieces onto your felt and muslin. Cut out the following: 2 muslin hearts, 2 felt hearts, 1 small heart embellishments. (Hint: stack the muslin and felt when you cut it out and then keep it pinned together if you want the pieces to “match.”) If you haven’t decided on your embellishment felt color you can wait until you get to that step to cut it out.

Valentine Heart Sachet tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

Step 2: Cut a length of all-purpose thread long enough to sew around the perimeter of your muslin heart. I like to double my thread over for additional stability. I prefer to use a backstitch (click on link here to learn how/re-familiarize yourself) for added stability, otherwise you might lose little bits and bobs of your stuffing material. Note: for steps 2-4 you can definitely use a sewing machine. If you have one it would definitely speed up the process. But then you’d have to get your fanny off the couch and pause Downton Abbey.

Valentine Heart Sachet Tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

Step 3: Start sewing around the perimeter of the muslin heart about ¼ inch of the way from the edge. When you get to where you have about 1-inch left, stuff the form with your herbal mixture. (Leave your thread in the heart, you’ll need to finish sewing when you’re done stuffing.) You will need to use about 3 tablespoons. A funnel or a piece of paper rolled into a funnel will really help here!


Step 4: Finish sewing your muslin heart form. Knot it really tight!

Felt Valentine Heart Sachet Tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

* At this point you can choose whether to decorate the outside now or sew the felt form first. It’s like a choose your own adventure! If you decide to decorate the outside first see the note at the end of the tutorial.

Step 5: Cut a length of embroidery floss long enough to sew around the perimeter of your felt heart shapes. Cut your ribbon and nestle it in between the two felt layers with at least an inch hanging down into the inside of the heart form. I like to leave the ribbon hanger long enough that it easily slips over a door-knob.


Step 6: Knot your floss and begin to sew at the top part of the heart shape where the ribbon hanger is. Make sure you pierce your ribbon hanger on your first pass through (I hide my knot on the backside of the ribbon instead of going through both layers of felt on the first pass-through.) I generally leave about ¼ inch or so around the edge because it looks pretty. A straight stitch works well for this, but you could use any stitch you like as long as it holds the two hearts together.

Valentine Heart Sachet tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

Step 7: Sew your felt pieces together until you get to the half-way point. This is where you want to slip your muslin herb sachet into the felt. (Be sure NOT to knot your floss at this point, you will need to keep sewing once you’ve placed the sachet.) Slip the muslin piece into the felt heart making sure you push the curvy lobed part of the heart all the way up into the felt. When you have the muslin piece into the felt heart, finish sewing the whole way around. (Make sure you keep the muslin portion tucked away from the area where you are sewing, otherwise it will stick out at the edges.) When you get to the stopping point, make sure you pierce the ribbon hanger again to ensure its stability. Securely knot the floss in an area on the back side where it will be hidden from view and then pull the remaining length of your floss through the heart and cut it off. (This will help keep the knot from unraveling.)

Valentine Heart Sachet tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

Step 8: Place the smaller felt heart shape on the center of the front side of your heart form. Cut a length of floss long enough to sew around the heart, plus a few inches extra. Make a knot in the floss and start sewing so that the knot is hidden in between the layers.

Valentine Heart Sachet tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

Step 9: Continue sewing around the perimeter of the embellished heart shape. Make sure you are catching the top of the stuffed heart form when you are sewing otherwise your pieces will not stick together. When you are finished, hide the knot in between your sandwiched layers and then pull the length of your floss through to the back of the heart and cut it off. (Again, this is done for stability.)

Valentine Heart Sachet tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

Step 10: Choose a button and a short length of floss. Knot the floss and begin so that the thread is hidden under the button when the button is placed on. Sew through the button holes and then make a knot at the back of the button, again pulling the remaining floss through to the back and then cutting it off so that the knot doesn’t unravel.

Valentine Heart Sachet tutorial by Kikiverde Handmade

You’re finished! Your heart sachet is ready to be given to that special someone or hung in a sweet place just for you to enjoy! Give it a squeeze to activate the herbs inside! (You can do this if you notice that it starts to lose its potency– a little scrunch will release the oils again.)

*Note: If you prefer to decorate the front side of your felt heart before you sew it together this is completely acceptable and for beginners it’s probably more easy. Simply position the smaller heart shape in the center of the larger heart shape and stitch around the edge with embroidery floss. Sew the button in the center of the small heart and knot it securely in the back. Then pin your two large felt heart shapes, add in the ribbon hanger and begin to sew them together with the embroidery floss, making sure you stop halfway to pick up at Step 7 where you stuff the muslin heart inside.

I prefer to sew my little heart and button on at the end when I can visually position it in the place I want and I don’t have to decide on my coordinating felt or button until the very end, but I’m probably just making things more difficult by doing that. It’s your choice which way you prefer to do it!

Guest Post: Shrimp Creole Made By Mr. Kiki

Sometimes the Creator of Crafty Things gets busy creating crafty things or doing the paperwork it takes to try to make a living creating crafty things and doesn’t get a chance to post on here as often as she would like. Inevitably I, Mr. Kiki (or Mr. Verde, or Michael works too), will say something like “you should let me do a guest post on your blog!” Usually she very politely declines, but this time she was either too busy or too tired to object and–presto–here I am writing a guest blog post. The only real orders I have are that I should keep to the spirit of the blog, apparently nobody wants to hear about my thoughts on how American politics could use some satirical parties like they have in the UK, nor hear about the criminality of how–in an age of making movies out of cartoons from the 80s that were used to sell toys–that Dino Riders hasn’t been made into a film, or definitely not about my enthusiasm for the upcoming Veronica Mars movie!

So instead today’s post will be about cooking Shrimp Creole from a recipe by that stalwart of mid-day weekend PBS programming, P. Allen Smith. This recipe comes from his book “Seasonal Recipes from the Garden.” I remember catching his show once when Mrs. Kiki was watching an episode on the DVR. It is a wonderfully produced show where P. Allen grows all sorts of wonderful things, in his perfectly apportioned garden all of which inevitably leads your wife to ask you “why isn’t our garden that nice?” I attempted to ignore the question, one because I was probably watching an awesome Youtube video and, two because I was trying not to get on the hook for doing more work outside. So besides all of that, the man does good work. I’ll paste the recipe at bottom of the post.

First step in this process is lots of cutting. I would strongly suggest you cut up everything first. Lots of stuff starts happening at once with this recipe and there will not be time to cut stuff once the train gets going. Or maybe you are a better and faster chopper than I am. In that case you could probably fudge it a bit. Here is a photo of all of the stuff all cut up–just like magic! You didn’t have to watch me fumble around for 20 minutes.


The next step is to make a roux. Which is a fancy French name for “trying not to burn flour too much in oil.” Once the Silly Party finally wins an election I am sure their frist course of action will be to de-Frenchify these types of words. Mrs. Kiki is going gluten free so I used almond flour and honestly it doesn’t seem to have made any difference.


After you make the roux you throw all of the stuff you just spent the last 20 minutes fumbling around cutting. You cook it a while and then throw in the rest of the stuff. These last two sentences are probably why I don’t do a lot of food blogging. I would much rather be writing about just how awesome the new Veronica Mars movie will be!


The best part of the recipe is the fact that you then get to let the thing simmer for an hour. That lets you do stuff like clean or write a guest blog post. At the end you throw in a little Worcestershire sauce and its all done! The final product is a unique combination of flavors that goes a long way to warm up a colder winter evening.


I hope that you have enjoyed my guest spot here and that you don’t hold either the photography or the asides against Kiki Verde. I have enjoyed it, but expect a return to the more regular content soon!


Shrimp Creole

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 onions, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
4 cups tomatoes, finely diced
2 bay leaves
3 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups rice

Begin by making a dark, rich roux: Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it just begins to smoke. Whisk in the flour, and continue whisking until the roux is the color of an old penny.

All together, add the onions, celery, garlic, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. Stir over medium-high heat until the onions brown slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Next, add the parsley, thyme, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves. Finally, add the shrimp. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the rice according to the package directions.

Just before serving, stir into the Worcestershire sauce into the shrimp mixture, and adjust the seasonings to taste (see Note). Discard the bay leaves.

Serve the Shrimp Creole over the cooked rice.

Note: If you are making the Shrimp Creole ahead of time, remember that flavors get stronger after a day or two in the refrigerator, so don’t overdo the last-minute seasoning.

Yields: 8 Servings

Recipe from P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden

Southwestern Quinoa & Calabacitas-Stuffed Peppers

Most people don’t know that I was a vegetarian for over 10 years. In high school I was in an advanced language arts class and we were assigned summer reading (not as bad as it sounds) and one of the books for 9th grade was The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. For those not familiar with the book, it chronicles the lives of a family in the early 20th century who work in the meat-packing industry. It was enough to make me go veg about 100 pages in.

One of my favorite vegetarian dishes came from the dining hall at my college. (Also, not as bad as it sounds. Actually, pretty amazing!) I went to design school at Rochester Institute of Technology and one of the selling points of the school for me was a dedicated vegetarian kitchen and serving area in the main dining hall with dishes made to suit the nutritional needs of vegetarians. They had this casserole made with layers of quinoa, tomatoes, corn, and cheese. It was SO good. A lot of non-vegetarians tried out the Global Vegetarian station, and I remember once that my roomie and I half-jokingly told our friends one day that the casserole wasn’t very good just so that there would be more potential for leftovers that night at dinner.

I’m not a vegetarian anymore, but I still often eat vegetarian meals and am always looking for ways to make vegetarian and healthier versions of my favorite dishes.

I had a few different things swirling around in my mind when I created this recipe for Southwestern Quinoa & Calabacitas-Stuffed Peppers– the heartiness of the meat sauce I like to mix with rice and use to stuff my non-veg stuffed peppers, the casserole with quinoa, corn, tomatoes, and cheese from the Global Vegetarian kitchen at my college dining hall, and the sweet mixture of corn, onions, and zucchini called Calabacitas that I was introduced to while living in New Mexico. It’s a low-calorie, filling dish with lots of protein and full of nutrients. It’s vegetarian (vegan, if you elect not to use cheese or use the vegan Daiya cheese like I do) and naturally gluten-free, too! Perfect for Meatless Monday with the temps in our area dipping into the single digits last night!

Pin it on Pinterest!

Southwestern Quinoa & Calabacitas-Stuffed Peppers
Serves 8

4 large bell peppers– your choice of color. (I like a mixture of red and green.) Halved lengthwise; stems, ribs, and seeds removed
3 stalks celery, diced small
1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced 1/4″ thick
3 carrots, peeled and grated (I use the medium-size “square” hole on my box grater)
3 large cloves garlic, minced, pressed, or grated on a micro-plane grater
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice (I really like the Woodstock tomatoes)
1 15-ounce can corn, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 cup cilantro, leaves chopped and stems discarded

additional 15-ounce can diced tomatoes for the bottom of the casserole dish;
1 cup cheese or vegan-cheese substitute (I like Daiya)
salt and pepper, to taste

Cooking Instructions:

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil, onions, and celery. Saute, stirring often, until the onions and celery begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the zucchini and grated carrots, stir to combine with the onions and celery. Then add the cumin, salt, and pepper, sautéing over medium-high heat 3-5 minutes until the cumin is fragrant and the veggies are all beginning to soften.

Drain the canned tomatoes, reserving the juice. Drain the corn. (Discard corn liquids.) Drain and rinse black beans. Add the tomatoes, corn, and black beans to the pan with the vegetable mixture. Stir until combined.

Rinse quinoa well, about 2 minutes under cold water, to remove the bitter saponin coating.

Add the rinsed/drained quinoa to the sauté pan with the vegetables. Add in 2 cups of water and stir. Bring to a simmer, then place lid on pan. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes until the quinoa is done. Preheat oven to 350 degrees while the quinoa is simmering.

Pour the juice from the canned tomatoes in the bottom of a large casserole dish. (Note: if using additional 15-ounce can of tomatoes, add them into the bottom of the casserole dish now.) Place the pepper halves into the dish so that the cut side faces up. If desired, sprinkle the inside of each pepper with a pinch of salt and ground pepper. When the quinoa and veggie mixture is done cooking (the mixture will still have some liquid in it, but most will have been absorbed) remove from heat. Transfer the quinoa and veggies into the peppers using a 1/3 cup-size measuring cup. Scoop the mixture into the peppers, each should hold approximately 2/3 (heaping) cup.

When the peppers are full, transfer the casserole dish into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Note: if using cheese or cheese-substitute, remove from oven after 30 minutes, sprinkle 2 tablespoons over each pepper half, return to oven and bake an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

To serve, place a pepper half onto a plate or into a wide bowl, spoon a little bit of the juice from the bottom of the pan over the pepper. (This is especially good if you’ve used additional tomatoes!) Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cilantro and enjoy! We enjoyed ours with a gluten-free corn muffin.


It was so good!

Giveaway Day December 2013

Good Morning! (Or afternoon, or evening– whenever this finds you!) In Maryland we are having heavy, wet snow which is making it feel even more like Christmas in the air!

I look forward to Sew Mama Sew’s Giveaway Day because it’s a great way to meet bloggers you may never have known about before, discover new shops, and oftentimes, make new web-friendships! In the spirit of that, I ask that when you enter my giveaway that you find a way to connect with me via social media so we can stay in touch! I’ll let you know how below, but for now we’ll get to the good stuff!


Today I am giving away a set of my Kiki(verde) Handmade Swarovski Guardian Angel Earrings, as pictured above. (Love them? You can buy a set in my Etsy shop, they make a great gift!)

Speaking of my Etsy shop, I ask if you would kindly take a peek. I make Handmade Ribbon Pinecone Ornaments which are also a really lovely gift. (Especially for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list.) There is still time to put in an order with plenty of time for arrival well before Christmas.


How to enter:
I’m hosting the giveaway through Rafflecopter. Leave a comment on this post letting me know your favorite part of the holiday season. I also request that you connect with me in some way on social media– the way you choose to do so is up to you! You can follow my page on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, like my shop on Etsy, or add my blog to your feed reader/subscribe to updates via email. Thanks so much for stopping by and good luck to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Fine Print:
U.S. Shipping only. My apologies to the International folks, I just can’t afford the extra cost of shipping internationally right now.
Giveaway closes December 13th at 8 p.m. EST.
Winner will be notified by December 15th and the blog post will be updated with the winner’s name. (If the winner does not respond in 48 hours, I will choose a new winner.)
The earrings will be shipped no later than December 20th.

More giveaways over at Sew, Mama, Sew! Check them out!

Ranger’s on a Mission

Ranger and I are on a mission. A mission for Smiley360 to try Greenies Dental Chews.


GREENIES® Dental Chews are clinically proven to clean dogs’ teeth by fighting both plaque and tartar buildup, freshening breath, and maintaining healthier teeth and gums.

We all know dogs come in many shapes and sizes and that is why GREENIES® Dental Chews come in five unique sizes that offer the most appropriate texture and hardness for our dogs with a variety of bite force capabilities.

We were given a coupon for a complimentary package of Greenies for Ranger to try. How did it go? See for yourself!


Hey, what’s that? Smells good!


You mean I can have that?



Oh yeah!


Thanks to Greenies, nice and cleanies!

The fine print:

Yes, I got this product for free to try but the opinions expressed in the post are honest and my own. And Ranger’s. But he can totally be bought with a treat, so take that with a grain of salt.

Winter 2013 Craft Show Schedule



It’s been a busy past few months and I’ve been juggling a few too many balls in the air. So if you’re in the Maryland area, come see the fruits of my labor! Hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me back here, too. I’ve missed it! xoxo