Tag Archives: allergy free blog

End of Summer Tomato Pie & Homemade Pie Crust

Are you ready for this? No seriously, are you ready for this? You’re going to go nuts over this pie. First, pie crust. Buttery, flakey, a tiny pinch of salt for flavor. Topped with tomatoes, basil and an unearthly mixture of cheese, melted and golden brown, fresh from the oven. Two words, my friends, tomato pie.


This recipe has been in my family for years. My mom cut it out of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s food section ages ago – the original clipping is still tucked away in her personalized recipe file. Every summer, just as the tomatoes in our garden turned from green to a yellowish red, they were picked and this pie was made. My sister and I would beg my mom for this pie at the first sign of tomato growth, prod her to make the plants grow more quickly, but this pie was always (and I mean always) worth the wait.

The great thing about this pie is that it makes a hearty vegetarian dinner that yields plenty of leftovers. There are, thankfully, gluten free adaptions for the recipe to, though you may want to use a store-bought crust rather than a homemade one…it’s a bit easier to deal with that sort of dough.

Tomato Pie (With Homemade Crust)
Free of peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, shellfish. Gluten free adaptations below

1 and 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
7 to 8 tablespoons ice water

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (NOT FRESH)
1 handful fresh basil, cut in ribbons (about a cup)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Begin with the crust: combine the flour in salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening until the dough resembles tiny peas. Add the tablespoons of water one at a time, working them into the dough as you go.
3. Once the dough forms one large ball – and is not too sticky – spread flour on a flat surface and roll out until the crust is larger than your 10×10 pie plate. Fold the crust in half, then in half again to transfer it to the pie plate. Unfold.
4. Put the crust in the oven for eight to 10 minutes, until it’s slightly brown. Take the crust out of the oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
5. While the pie crust rests, cut the tomatoes into discs, then dry using paper towels. Arrange the discs on top of the melted cheese on the crust.
6. Next, sprinkle the julienned basil on top of the tomatoes.
7. Combine the mayonnaise with the remaining cheese in a small bowl. Spread this mixture on top of the basil and tomatoes.
8. Sprinkle the pie with the Parmesan cheese and black pepper.
9. Put it in the oven to bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Enjoy!

TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Sub a gluten free pie crust (store bought) for the homemade crust and follow the instructions the same way!

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Back to Maryland!

It’s been awhile, no? Summer really got crazy for me toward the end – I was working full time at the Tribune Review, and I took a three-week study abroad trip to Salzburg, Austria that was pretty life changing. Since returning from the trip mid-August, I finished up my internship and packed up my things to return to the University of Maryland and my brand new efficiency apartment. You know what that means? My own kitchen, and cooking meals for one person – myself. It’s been an interesting transition over the past few days, I’ll admit it. I was incredibly anxious to come back to school, especially because this is the place where my eating disorder really took hold during freshman year. However, I have had a lot to keep me occupied in the week before class begins – I’ve been training to teach group fitness classes (7 this semester, I’m going to die!), sharing dinner with friends, visiting D.C. and, of course, taking in a bit of the College Park nightlife.

While I’m excited to see my friends, to begin my internship at the Feminist Majority Foundation and for classes to start, I’m mostly excited about using my own kitchen. While I have more than enough cabinet space and all the refrigerator room in the world to store my several favorite cheeses, the electric stove has proven to be difficult for me to conquer. That being said, I’m going to share my first meal with you, as it ended up being pretty awesome! This meals serves one person and has all the major food groups covered – zucchini fills the role of vegetable, pasta is our starch, salmon, our protein, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese for dairy. Yum! The best part? This dish took me about 25 minutes to whip up.

Let’s get cooking!

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Lemony Salmon and Zucchini Pasta For One
This dish is gluten free and dairy free adaptable. It contains no peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, soy or shellfish.

1 salmon cutlet, thawed (I got mine in a family pack from Wegmans!)
1/8 box of angel hair pasta
1/2 zucchini
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lemon
Pinch of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

1. While bringing water to boil in a pot, set up two separate pans on medium high heat, each with 1.5 tablespoons olive oil warming.
2. In one pan, place the salmon cutlet. Sprinkle with lemon, salt and pepper and cook on each side until it becomes opaque through the middle. If you start to see white, you’ve cooked it slightly too much, the fat is starting to bleed out. When done cooking, cut into bite sized chunks and place in a bowl.
3. While the salmon is cooking, cut the zucchini into thin discs and place in the pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder and let brown on both sides. When finished, place in a bowl with salmon.
4. Once the water comes to a boil, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and place in the bowl. If it looks a bit dry, coat with 1 tablespoon pasta water or 1 tablespoon olive oil.
5. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Adaptations: For dairy free, skip parmesan sprinkling. For gluten free, use gluten free pasta.

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Cheesy Spicy Grits

Grits are weird. They’re at that halfway point between oatmeal and polenta and the texture can seem a little bit funny if they’re not done correctly. However, let it be known that these grits are not oatmeal’s creepy older brother. They have a little spice, but are also super gooey from the cheese, and who can resist that?

The awesome thing about cheesy grits is that they go great with a lot of main dishes. I last served then when I made the avocado compote butter for salmon. A heavenly meal! I used to also make a pretty crude version of these when I was at school. On Saturdays we had a breakfast bar in the dining hall, where they had plain grits. The salad bar was also open, so I would stir in cheese and jalepenos. It was kind of gross, but compared to a lot of the dining hall food available to a girl with allergies and who, at the time, was vegetarian, it was heaven.


I promise promise promise that these grits are more upscale than that, but also that all the ingredients are easily available. These are gluten free, which is another major plus.

Let’s get cooking!

Cheesy Spicy Grits
Peanut, tree nut, soy, sesame, fish, shellfish, egg and gluten free

2 cups water
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1 cup grits
1/4 cup butter
1/2 can Rotel
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

1. Bring water, milk and salt to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the grits and continue to stir until they have the consistency of cream of wheat.
2. Add in the butter, Rotel and cheese. Stir and once combined, remove from heat. Enjoy!

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Multigrain Bread with Quinoa and Oats

I am a hopeless carb lover. All my comfort foods are carb based – homemade pasta, macaroni and cheese, pierogies, the list goes on. To me, especially as a child, there was nothing better than a slice of bread with butter and a glass of water for a snack. My grandma joked that I liked jail food, but it was really just that I liked carbs.

Cut to today. My newest bread addiction (until about three days ago) was Trader Joe’s quinoa bread. It’s basically like a good honey whole wheat, with the added benefit of protein from the quinoa. Then I saw this recipe over at A Couple Cooks and thought, I can do that. One problem though – their version of the bread contained pumpkin seeds, which I’m allergic to. Not to mention, it had rye flour, which wasn’t around the house. So I did what any good baker does – I adapted. And you know what? I ended up with best, most filling, rustic bread I’ve had in awhile.


Let me tell you about the moment it came out of the oven. It was pretty late for our family – my dad and sister (the two celiacs) were already asleep. Thankfully for them, quinoa bread is something they wouldn’t have eaten prior to celiac anyway, so this bread event didn’t seem so special. Anyways, the moment the oven buzzer went off, my mom and I peaked inside and found our dough mass had turned into a luxurious crusty loaf – beautiful! Soon after we took it out of the oven, we sliced it and slathered it with real butter, which is somewhat of a rarity in my house. It was a special moment between us. No guilt, of course, just pure enjoyment over something we felt bad reveling in around our family members.


So isn’t baking bread like super difficult? Well, sometimes. Luckily, this recipe is no-knead, so you can mostly just chill while the yeast does its thing. Let’s get baking!

Multigrain Bread with Quinoa and Oats
Peanut, tree nut, sesame, egg, milk and soy free

1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/4 cup water
3 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
1.5 tbsp. salt
4 cups white flour
2 cups whole wheat flour

1. Soak the oats and quinoa in 1/4 cup of water for one hour.
2. Combine the yeast and 3 cups of lukewarm water in the bowl of a standard mixer.
3. Mix in the salt, flours and mix-ins until just combined. Place that mixture in a warm place, covering with wax paper and a towel. Let the dough rise.
4. On a floured surface, split the dough in two. Form it into two loaves.
5. Sprinkle cornmeal on a pan, then place the two loaves on top of it. Slice a few cuts in the top of the loaves. Let rest for 40 minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Ten minutes before baking the bread, place a baking sheet in the oven and cover with water. Close the oven quickly to create steam.
7. Put the bread in the oven and cook for 35 minutes until brown and crusty. Remove from oven, slice and enjoy.

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