holidays + special events

tips for surviving the holidays – a la 2016

My original post below from three years ago needed a preface, particularly in light of the very bewildering, soul-wrenching year we’ve had. As difficult as it was to lose Glenn Fry, Alan Rickman, Prince, Gene Wilder, Doris Roberts, George Kennedy, Harper … more

christmas angel cake

I found this lovely fruit studded Christmas Cake on Elana’s Pantry, one of my favorite websites. I like the way this recipe starts with an orange and a food processor – inspired! Her original recipe contains lots of nuts, but … more

sticky toffee date cake

This is the first time that a dish I’ve prepared and tested was gobbled up faster than I could take a picture. I’ve tested it three times and each time I asked my family to please leave me a decent … more

trader joe’s gluten-free stuffing

If you can have grains, such as rice and potato and can tolerate a tiny bit of dairy and soy, here’s a super quick alternative to a more involved gluten-free stuffing. We gave this a try a few weeks ago … more

gluten-free carrot cake

This is my husband’s and my favorite cake. So much so that we had it for our wedding cake. If you want to go right to the recipe, then skip down a bit. If you want to hear a funny … more

sparkling holiday punch

This couldn’t be easier! This is the perfect holiday punch because it’s served alcohol free, yet when you mix it 1:1 with white wine, it makes a delicious holiday sangria. Great for kids and adults for brunch or any party or … more

white and dark clusters

I think the only reason my children make candy with me is the reward of licking the chocolate drenched spatulas. It’s a good deal for everyone, actually. While making my traditional bark that my husband hands out at work each … more

white chocolate cherry bark

White chocolate, dried cherries and salted pecans are a great combination for the holidays. Coconut adds another bit of depth. Remember, any kind of chocolate, even the stuff that isn’t really chocolate (like “white” chocolate) is better with salt, hence … more

the gift of food

My birthday was last month and I received some really lovely gifts. One of my favorites was from my sister, Leigh. She lives in Boise on a huge parcel of land. She’s been involved with agriculture her entire life, including … more

tasty gluten-free Thanksgiving side dishes

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a huge carb fest. In addition to the requisite Sweet Potato Casserole and Dressing (bread-based dish baked outside the bird), load your menu full of veggies and interesting salads. Here’s a few standards that are … more

thanksgiving desserts

The meal after the meal, if we’re being honest. I can’t think of another occasion when desserts are so heavily featured. We love to eat half portions of everything, so we can taste every possible sampling. That’s just common sense. … more

tips for surviving the holidays

I love the holidays. LOVE them. I know the house will be clean, the silver polished, the stemware shinny, and the food delicious. However, for me to truly enjoy the holidays, I always employ a few time tested strategies because … more

pan roasted frenched pork rib chops with chutney and cabernet demi-glace

I wanted to develop a really complex recipe for frenched pork chops. I love the presentation of a frenched chop and the resulting moistness from any cut of meat with the bone left intact. (If you can’t find frenched chops, … more

gluten-free brownie parfait

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to make food stretch at my house. At any given time, I have between two (the ones I’ve got), and eight kids at my house. An easy dessert is … more

happy v-day

A few goodies to make for your favorite Valentines on this day of splurging. Valentine Bonbons Chocolate Almond Bark Strawberry Banana Cake Melissa’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups     

super bowl sunday

I’m a west coaster who loves San Francisco (the city and the food) so I’m rooting for the 49ers (even though they trounced San Diego back in 1994 to a tune of 48-26 – ouch). However, living in D.C. for … more

thanksgiving feasts

Thanksgiving provides my favorite meal during my favorite time of the year. In Southern California, November has almost as many sunny days at our sunniest month, August. The only difference is a chill in the air and wind that blows … more

keeping the monsters at bay

This post appears courtesy of Generation Rescue. 7 Tips for Managing Your Kid’s Halloween Expectations Halloween, one of everyone’s favorite times of year, is just around the corner. And so are all the candies your kids can’t eat. Never fear, … more

valentines sweets for your sweeties

A few ideas for Valentine’s Day…        valentine bonbons chocolate almond bark cosmopolitan champagne cocktails strawberry cupcakes melissa’s chocolate peanut butter cups Happy Valentine’s Day!    

turkey stock and soup

We have a post Thanksgiving tradition that wouldn’t be the same without Turkey Soup. It started with my mother-in-law, Anka, and I’m happy to carry the tradition forward. As much a tradition as Thanksgiving itself, the day after offers a … more

turkey shortcake

I can’t, for the life me, think why my dad called this dish “turkey shortcake.” It’s got to be a weird southern thing. Nevertheless, the Thanksgiving leftover I remember most fondly from my childhood is this oddly named dish consisting … more

thanksgiving day feast

I love Thanksgiving – setting a beautiful table and bringing out my grandmother’s stemware. I love that my family comes together and that my husband sets his tripod up and gets a family picture each year, in the same spot … more

gluten-free pumpkin banana mousse tart

This is hands down, my son’s favorite recipe “in the world.” Last year for Thanksgiving, he had three small slices and snuck another four, so he confessed the next morning. This recipe, originally from Ina Garten, is also my favorite now … more

sweet potato casserole

There is no other meal I can think of, where we hold tighter to our sacrosanct traditions than Thanksgiving. For every person who partakes, I find there are one or two dishes that must be on the table for the … more

halloween delights

Let me just warn you…I love Halloween. Not the gory Freddie Kruger stuff like gross out bloody masks with all manner of hardware and veins popping out, but a whimsical Halloween with lots of carved pumpkins and seasonal treats. It’s … more

body parts in goo

My friend Sandra came up with these gruesome crowd pleasers. The kids loved these at our last Halloween party. You can use gummy worms or any thing else disgusting that will delight your children. Prep time:  30 minutes Total time: … more

a gluten-free baby shower

Five years after hosting a wedding shower for my niece Erin, I was delighted to be throwing her a baby shower. We had 22 guests for a fully gluten-free luncheon, complete with appetizers and drinks, and vanilla strawberry cupcakes with … more

hard-boiled egg spiders

“If you follow a special diet, be sure to include calcium rich foods.  Calcium is an important nutrient, especially when you or your child is on a dairy-free (casein-free) diet. Calcium is important for strong bones, as well as supporting … more

mother’s day brunch

To celebrate your mom, here’s a few brunch choices that are sure to please. I’ve made each and every one of these dishes for Mother’s Day celebrations for my own mom. They work for a small group or large and … more

easter brunch

When I was little, Easter wasn’t Easter until my mom had made all us girls new dresses. But the fun part was after the church service at Easter breakfast. The men of our church prepared, cooked and served pancakes, scrambled … more

jewish easter

I know. It’s a bit of an oxymoron. But when best friends don’t share the same faith, religious traditions take on a whole new slant…our Christmukkah celebration of last year is a case in point. Sharing religious traditions, along with … more

mother-daughter gluten-free tea

The tradition of having tea with my daughter started when she was 7. Now at nearly 12, we try to go to our favorite tea house, Aubrey Rose, about every six weeks. With a few days notice, they can provide … more

go greenbay?

Since the Chargers, once again, made a great showing then fizzled in the 11th hour, I am a bit ambivalent about who wins the Superbowl. My friend Mark, a dyed in the wool Steelers fan, will once again nearly pop … more

new year’s at home with the kids

As much as I love the idea of a cocktail party, this year we are walking down the street to our good friend’s home to celebrate east coast style. Yep – 9:00 p.m. San Diego time and all our bells … more

a cocktail party for the new year

Whether or not you’ve packed the holiday decorations away, on New Year’s Eve, hopefully you’ll be able to partake of one last celebration. There’s something renewing about January 31st. It’s an opportunity to be thankful for the year you’ve had. … more

champagne cosmopolitan cocktail

I adapted this from an old Bon Appetit recipe from years ago. This is a wonderful holiday cocktail. You can serve it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and Valentines Day or for any party, really. This is a regular fixture … more

merry christmas and happy holidays

No recipe today, or for a few days, as I am taking time with my family. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope this season is a time of peace and joy for you and yours. I know, however, that those … more

quickest ever GFCF peppermint bark

Short of biting into a candy cane while you’ve got a mouthful of chocolate chips, this recipe is the easiest way to produce that wonderful chocolate-peppermint combination but GFCF style – without the milk. No blocks of chocolate, no layering … more

peppermint bark

I love this stuff. It’s totally addicting, so I’m glad candy canes are only available at Christmas, or I’d be in trouble. This is a fun thing to do with friends or with your kids. It’s a little tricky. Just … more

split pea soup

I make this every Thanksgiving from the leftover ham bone. I cook for quite a crowd – two turkeys and two hams because we love lots of leftovers! This is way to make your holiday ham really stretch, and makes … more

holiday roast turkey with gravy

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal of the entire year – so much so that I replicate it for Christmas with a few changes. Maybe you can too. As for me, when the house smells like roasting turkey and bacon, I … more

dad’s tart

Last weekend, we brought our kids and their two friends to the Veteran’s Day Parade downtown. It started with high school bands marching in perfect time with their shiny instruments, wiping beads of sweat from their foreheads. Flag twirlers followed … more

holiday bread dressing

My little boy is 7 and a half (as he will tell you) and he just had his first bite of dressing, thank you very much to Udi’s Gluten-Free Bread. Thanksgiving dinner is my absolute favorite dinner of the entire … more

cranberry relish

This is a staple at any Thanksgiving table, but I make it year ’round. It’s the perfect topping for a slice of brie atop a rice cracker. Many people like additional fruit (raisins, apples, currants) or nuts (walnuts, pecans) in … more

sauteed haricoverts

I feel like I make a thousand decisions a day. So when I’m standing in front of the produce aisle trying to figure out what to prepare that night, I wish someone would just TELL me what to make. It … more

homemade chicken stock

A few nights ago we had a wonderful rotisserie chicken dinner with our oldest friends, Dan and Debbie, and their three darling girls. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I was eying their chicken carcasses. When they told me they were … more

holiday rice pilaf

This pilaf is a wonderful compliment to the No-Fail Roasted Chicken or the Roasted Turkey & Gravy. Studded with orange-infused cranberries, toasted almonds and fresh scallions, it’s perfect for the holidays, but I serve it year around. The wild rice … more

apple crisp

Like an apple pie but without the crust. Good for any time of year, but best in fall, I think, when the apples are perfectly ripe. I’ve made it a couple different ways – with almond flour in the topping … more

creepy cupcakes

If you’re looking for some fun treats for your child’s class party, these cupcakes offer a bit of whimsy with a slight ick factor. Just use a packaged mix – I like Cherrybrook Kitchen or Pamela’s Chocolate Cake mixes and … more

roasted turkey breast & gravy

Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite meal of the year.  It’s not just that I love roast turkey or the smell of apple pie and the the long table my daughter and I set every year. I love Thanksgiving because is … more

roasted carrots

It’s said that we taste first with our eyes. I love the deep richness of roasted carrots, but their color adds a particular beauty to any plate. Active time: 5 minutes Total time: 25 minutes Yield: 4-6 servings 6 carrots, … more