Monday, December 31, 2012

Temporary Farewell from Hint of Thyme

Greetings Readers!

This is not goodbye, but merely a "see you later".  I have not been able to dedicate the necessary time to Hint of Thyme and, therefore, have decided to take a break.  During this time away I am continuing to work on separate writing projects and hope to share these with you in the near future.  My hope is to return with a fresh outlook and many more tasty recipes.

Have a safe and Happy New Year!

Best Regards,

Mara D (...and Jon)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Budget Friendly, Gluten Free Lentil Soup with Rice

If you're in a relationship and anything like me... then you probably find it incredibly hard to cook a meal just for yourself.  Right?  

My husband was not present for dinner tonight.  I was alone in the kitchen with the blessing of a full refrigerator and no idea what to cook.  Then I decided it was the perfect time to test drive a new recipe using gluten free soup.

Progresso offers a gluten free Lentil soup and it's found in the regular soup aisle at the grocery store.  Thank goodness for inexpensive, wheat free soup options.  I've had a difficult time finding any regular soup without wheat flour.

Tonight, I decided to cook some rice and see where the creativity took me.

Lentil Soup with Rice
- 19 oz. can of Progresso Lentil Soup
- 1 cup of jasmine rice
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, minced or finely chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, minced or finely chopped
- 1 TBSP of Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle or Basil & Thyme
- Optional:  3-6 shakes of crushed red pepper or a few pinches of chili powder
- Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the soup in a microwaveable bowl with the veggies and seasoning.  Bring rice to a boil in a sauce pan over high heat, reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally until tender.  Pour the soup over a portion of rice.  Serve and enjoy.

Personalize this recipe with your favorite vegetables:  tomato, mushroom, jalapeno, fresh basil and more.  The choice is yours!  There is no limit.

It's the simplest recipe with a ton of perks.  

► 1 can of Progresso Lentil Soup = 160 calories per 1 cup

► Divide the can of Lentil Soup into thirds - 1 for dinner that night, 1 for your lunch the next day and 1 for your significant others lunch.

► Depending on your part of the country, 1 can of soup costs approximately $1.50 to $2.  1 cup of rice will cost you about $0.50.  Add a few veggies and the meal is still under $5.

► Lentils are packed with nutrients that your body will appreciate.  According to Wikipedia, lentils are a legume with high protein, fiber, vitamin B and iron.

Time Saver Alert!!  The best perk is that I was able to make 3 meals or portions in under 10 minutes.

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Challenge of Gluten Free Pizza Crust

There are certain times that you actually want to follow a recipe - especially if it involves any kind of baking.  I have not made any homemade pizza since I went gluten free in January.  This month, I decided that it was time to venture into the complicated world of gluten free flour.

My Mom is also eating wheat-free and has already taught herself to make GF sandwich bread.  She mentioned that the ingredient "xanthum gum" was important to hold the dough together.  In my typical nature... I ignored Mom's baking lesson and thought that I could somehow make it work without the all-important binding ingredient.  According to, xanthum gum is a corn-based fermented product that is used to thicken and emulsify the dough.

The search began for gluten free pizza crusts that could be made without xanthum.  I came across the Ginger Lemon Girl website and found a Gluten Free and Vegan Pizza Crust that did not include xanthum.  My worries were over.  Wrong.

I didn't really follow the recipe and used it more as a guideline.  Eagerly I began pouring ingredients into the bowl.  Buckwheat Flour... Yeast... Egg (yep, not Vegan)... Rice Flour... Water... Oil... Salt.  As instructed in the recipe, I covered the bowl with a towel to let the dough rise.

Much to my surprise... I returned 45 minutes later to find FLAT dough.  Hmm, perhaps it will stretch across the pizza pan any way.  Wrong again.  The dough mostly stuck to my fingers.  Something needed to be done to save our dinner!

Honestly, I can't remember what I did to make the dough less tacky.  Not that it matters, because no one should ever follow my poor attempt at creating a pizza crust.  Somehow I was able to get the dough to spread across the pan.  I baked it at 425 for 10 minutes and then added our sauce and toppings.  Then I baked it for another 10 minutes.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the crust tasted like FLOUR.  Regardless, I was happy to save the $20 by not ordering a gluten free pizza from Domino's (which isn't guaranteed to be 100% gluten free).  After having a reaction to one of their pizza's... I knew it was time to start making my own.  If you would like more information about the GF crust at Domino's, see the links below for your reference.

Sharing is Caring:

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Gluten Free Treats in Eastern Wisconsin

Greetings fellow foodies!

I have officially been eating gluten free for 9 months and doing great.  People often ask me if I miss eating things like cake, regular pizza or bread.  To be honest, I can't say that a miss it.  The gluten free market has become popular in recent years.  The options for those of us with Celiac or Wheat Intolerance is quite outstanding.  Besides, I never enjoyed cake any way - no harm there!

This post is dedicated toward my readers in the east part of Wisconsin.  Although there are some good tips for readers outside of the state.

My husband has become very proactive in searching grocery stores for gluten free options.  We often shop at Festival Foods.  They have a fantastic selection in their gluten free aisle; and quite frankly, I prefer it over Woodman's.  If you are interested in exploring their deli foods, the company has several resources on their website.  Learn more about their gluten free options at Festival.

Here are more resources:

Gluten Intolerance of North America - includes articles, medical referrals, recipes, restaurants and more.

Wisconsin Support Groups - listed below the resources on Festival Food's website.

A few months ago, Jon and I were looking for wheat-free flours to store in our kitchen pantry.  During a trip to a local bulk food store, we discovered an outstanding and reasonably priced supply of teas and chai mix.  Yum!  I was quick to grab a couple containers.

Chai Tea Tip:  I had some left over Chai mix, but it wasn't enough for a full mug.  If you run into the same problem, try sprinkling the chai over yams or sweet potatoes and bake for 25 minutes.  It really brings out the sweetness of the yams without overpowering.

Every year on Jon's birthday I will create a special dinner or desert.  This year Jon asked for chocolate chip cookies.  To be more specific, he actually asked for gluten free cookies so that I could eat them too.  How sweet is that?

I found these gluten free vegan cookies at the Health Hut in Milwaukee.  This store is a bit off the typical path for me, but they did have an excellent selection of gluten free items.  If you live in the Milwaukee area, I'd recommend checking it out.  They sell all natural products and food items that appeal to almost any diet.  I was happy to find these cookies!

Vegan Cookie Note:  The cookie directions specify to add water and oil instead of an egg.  If you are not vegan and prefer to add an egg then swap out the oil.  I could be wrong though... baking is not one of my finer skills.

Have a great weekend!

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Benefits of Tea

I am ready shamelessly admit my new found love for ... tea!  The older I get, the more I like to branch out and try new things.  There are so many benefits to being a tea drinker.

One of the best benefits of drinking green tea is the incredible antioxidant effect.  It's great for flushing out all the toxins in your body and keeps you feeling healthy and happy.

For the naturalists out there, there are other benefits for drinking tea.  I wondered if tea was ever used to relieve pain.  Searching through blogs, I found this post about ginger and green tea on Everyday Simplicity.  Suffering from chronic pain leaves me turning to a cup of tea for relief and happiness.

I write this as I sip on a hot cup of Lemon Frost tea. Yum!

 Our good friend, Danielle, purchased a tea care package for my birthday.  She included 2 bags of loose tea, rock sugar, and a fancy teacup from Teavana.  The flavors of the loose tea were much more powerful and aromatic than bagged tea from a grocery store (although I do still love it).  When I am feeling down, a hot cup of green tea is the most perfect mood booster.

Tea provides numerous health benefits.  Whether you are looking to lose weight, lower cholesterol or clear up skin... this article will provide you with the knowledge to select the right tea for you.  Learn more about Types of Tea with Teavana.

Teavana's website provides helpful information, but also has great gift ideas for the upcoming holidays.  Get ready, early birds!  The season of greetings and eatings is almost upon us.  

Take care, readers.  Happy and healthy wishes to you all.

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Can Eat Pasta Too - Shrimp & Wine

There are a few things that I try to keep in stock.  If the grocery store has a good deal, I am guaranteed to fill my chest freezer with shrimp, chicken, ground meat and fish.  It definitely saves me another trip to the grocery store.

What else saves me a trip to the store?  Having a garden in my back yard with an endless supply of free produce.  What can I say... I was feeling "lazy" on this particular day.

This dish is a proven time saver!  I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

Wine Garlic Shrimp Pasta (Gluten-Free)

Prep time = 15 minutes
Cook time = 10 minutes

- 1 package of thawed pre-cooked shrimp (it was cheaper to buy the shrimp with tails and quick to remove)
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 medium green pepper, chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 clove of minced garlic (or 1/2 TBSP of the jar stuff)
- 7 to 8 basil leaves, cut into ribbons (roll the basil into a tube and cut all the way down to resemble ribbons)
- 2 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup of white wine (the alcohol will cook out)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 package of gluten-free pasta (or regular if you prefer the wheat)
- 1/2 cups of shredded Italian cheeses (Wal-Mart has a combo of Part-skim Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Romano, Fontina and Asiago)

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, a little salt and pepper.  When the onions begin to soften, add the peppers and garlic. Continue cooking 2 or 3 minutes and add the cooked shrimp (add this step before the peppers if the shrimp is uncooked).  Let the contents cook together a couple minutes, then add tomatoes, basil and wine.  Let the mixture reduce and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes before adding the pasta.  Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust accordingly.  Simmer 1 to 2 minutes.  Add cheese, cover and take off the heat.  Serve and enjoy once the cheese has melted.

Side note:  This dish would also be great over rice.

Random Fact About the Writer:  I add crushed red pepper or hot sauce to just about anything.  Dishes like this one are perfect with a little extra heat in the background.  Add it directly to the dish at the beginning or to your personal serving at the end.  My husband does not like spicy food, so most of my recipes are lacking heat for that reason.

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

End Your Summer with Fresh Garden Salsa

My most favorite garden vegetable is the typical tomato.  Jon and I had a recent surplus in our garden tomatoes.  With 4 tomato plants in our raised garden, I am guaranteed not to run short on the veggie.  I have yet to learn how to can the tomatoes and would love for you to share your recipes with us.

I preserved the tomatoes by blending them into tasty goodness with my food processor.  Yes, there is nothing like fresh garden salsa.  Even if you are not prepared for a day of salsa making... there are still ways that you can manipulate the recipe.

Last week, I realized that it was time to make salsa but lacked a major ingredient.  Cilantro!  I was also low on lemon juice and typically prefer to use lime juice.  Well... the show must go on, right?

Below are 2 recipes for fresh salsa.  If you do not have a garden of your own, visit a local farmers market and ask the farmer when the tomatoes were picked.  The fresher, the better!

Here is a list of farmers markets in Wisconsin - for my local readers.

Highly recommended - Gluten free tortilla chips by Donkey 

Mara's Fresh Garden Salsa

Serving Size = 12 oz. jar
Prep time = 20 minutes

- 10 to 12 small or medium sized tomatoes (mine are from the Early Girl Tomato plant, most were a little bigger than a golf ball)
- 1/4 cup of sweet onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/4 cup green pepper
- 2 TBSP of lemon or lime juice (fresh is better, but it whatever you have on hand is fine)
- 1/4 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 TBSP fresh cilantro (add an extra if you have dried cilantro)
- 1/2 TBSP of smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
Optional:  2 jalapenos (remove seeds for less spicy, keep the seeds for more heat)

I recommend using a food processor to get the best consistency for the salsa.  Depending on the size of your processor, chop each vegetable into the best size for blending.  If you do not have a food processor... I am sorry to hear that.  Put it on your Christmas list!  But in all seriousness... dice all vegetables to smallest size possible.

My instructions for salsa making are simple.  Chop veggies, add the juices/oil, season with salt and pepper, blend or pulse in the processor (or combine thoroughly in a bowl), and serve.  Don't forget to taste as you blend... add more seasoning if needed.  Easy enough, right?

Rojo Black Bean Salsa

Prep time = 15 to 20 minutes
Serving size = 20 or 22 ounces

Same recipe as above.  Add a 12 oz. can of drained and rinsed black beans.  I recommend not using a food processor and leaving it in a "pico de gallo" style.  Do not add green pepper to this recipe.


If you are looking for a fruit salsa, check out my recipe for Mango Salsa that was served with chicken and rice.

If you have any questions about these recipes, please feel free to contact me.  The email address is listed on the right navigation.

Happy salsa making!  I hope you all had a fantastic summer.

Copyright 2012 Hint of Thyme.  All Rights Reserved.