Gluten-Free Banoffee Pie

By Rachel Sircy 

St. Patrick’s Day will soon be upon us and to tell the truth, there has only been one time in my adult (or really, semi-adult) life that I have celebrated this holiday. I was lucky enough to spend my sophomore year of college studying abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was there that I found out that Lucky Charms is a purely American novelty (no big surprise there, but sometimes you don’t realize the obvious until you’re faced with it) as is the whole idea of Irish Cream. I tried to explain what Irish Cream flavoring was to my friend Debbie, who is a native Northern Irish woman, and she just looked puzzled and said, “I don’t get it. What makes cream Irish in the first place?” I said that I think it was supposed to taste like Bailey’s, but she said, “Why not just call it Bailey’s Cream?” Good question, Debs.

Anyway, my family isn’t Catholic, so to me St. Patrick’s Day has always been just a hokey klee-773946_1920day when people drink shamrock milkshakes from McDonald’s and dye beer green. Last year, my mother-in-law made corned beef and cabbage. It was the first time that anyone in our family circle had eaten corned beef and cabbage (which, believe it or not, is also an American novelty, not an Irish staple). Many people may enjoy this dish, but no one in our family has clamored for any since last St. Patrick’s Day.

Here’s my point in writing all of this: this St. Patrick’s Day, you could make gluten free cupcakes with gluten free buttercream frosting colored green by food coloring, and you could make corned beef and cabbage (I wouldn’t advise it, though).


However, if you choose to make those things, you probably won’t get the chance to make Banoffee pie. Banoffee pie is what I used to get as dessert whenever my friends and I went to this little pub in Belfast for Sunday lunch that year that I studied abroad. It’s a pie with a cookie crumb crust and thick caramel (or toffee) covered with sliced bananas and whipped cream. It is delicious, and it takes me back to Sunday afternoons in that little pub in Belfast. Unfortunately, after all that bad-mouthing I just did about American St. Patrick’s Day rituals, I have to admit, that the recipe that I’ll be sharing is something that I adapted from an American blog, I seriously tried to make this as authentic as possible. I even pulled up a great gluten-free recipe for Banoffee Pie from Tesco, the grocery store chain I used to shop at when I was in Belfast. However, when I looked at the recipe, I remembered that I would have to convert all the measurements and oven temperatures from the metric system to (ironically) the English system that we use here in America. Also, I have no idea what “gluten free oat cakes” are. Anyway, here’s the recipe that I adapted from

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed GF graham cracker crumbs (Schar is my favorite brand of GF graham crackers)
  • 6 TBS unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 bananas sliced
  • 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 TBS powdered sugar
  • Chocolate shavings or cocoa powder for the topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place oven rack in middle of the oven.
  2. In a medium sized bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon
  3. Spread crumbs in a 9-inch pie pan or tart dish. Press the crumbs evenly up the sides of the pan and along bottom of the dish. Bake crust for 7-8 minutes.
  4. To make filling: combine butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until melted. Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir continuously. Bring to a boil and boil for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture darkens in color and thickens. Remove from heat and pour over the crust.
  5. Chill the crust and toffee for 2 hours until firm.
  6. Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
  7. Place the sliced bananas over the cooled toffee and spread the cream over the bananas. Top with chocolate shavings or cocoa powder.
  8. Store pie in fridge, it will keep 2-3 days.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy!


One Man’s Junk…

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I love to crab, which is good because I also love to eat crab.  I’ve crabbed in the surf, in a boat, in the creek, from a pot, off the rocks.  I know a good crab when I see one, so don’t even try to talk to me about crab with a “k,” surimi, or whatever else people try to pass off as crab.  I’ll eat, and enjoy, Alaskan crab but it’s just not in the same league as a “real” crab: the blue crab that adorns our waters here in the South and all up and down the East Coast.

My sister and I are probably the only people you’ll meet who will say that we actually enjoy picking crab.  We learned as kids and as we moved into adulthood, it became a peaceful end-of-the-beach-day ritual for us.  Get showered up, pour a glass of white wine and sit out on the balcony picking crab in the breeze.

Most people complain about blue crabs because they aren’t easy to deal with.  Cleaning, cooking and then picking them is indeed a task. But the reward of fresh, creamy, milky crabmeat is well worth it.  My mom (a Floridian) actually ices them down, which puts them to sleep.  Then, she cleans them while they’re still alive. I know, I know, this sounds horrific.  However, us biology geeks know that crabs really only operate off a “nerve net,” not an actual brain, so there is no suffering involved here.  This way, we cook the cleaned crabs and there’s no spongy, foamy garbage left inside the body, which is just grosser than gross.

BUT…there’s always a but, right?  No one likes dealing with the claws.  They are a pain in the rump, frankly.  But, it’s hard for us to waste anything, so we freeze them assuming we’ll deal with them one day.

Well, my parents have had crab claws in their freezer for a few months now and it’s been driving my dad crazy.  He keeps planning the day to put them in the trash (the night before pick up because crab in a can on a hot day=horror movie) and then that day comes and goes and he realizes that he forgot to put them out there.

Not long ago, I was watching the Food Network when one of Maryland’s big time crab cakes places mentioned that they use the claw meat in the crab cakes and save the lump meat for more sophisticated dishes.  AH HA!  I had the answer!

Fast forward to September.  I took the claws off my dad’s hands.  I put together one gallon sized Ziploc of claws, which gave me about 1/2 pound of meat.  I’d never used the claw meat in a cake, so I was really curious to see how it turned out.  I made a basic cake…tore 2 slices of bread (crust removed) into small pieces, moistened with milk, then mixed with fresh parsley, some mayo, worchestershire, Old Bay, salt, baking powder and an egg.  I refrigerated the mixture to firm it a bit. I then shaped it into cakes and pan-fried it.  That little 1/2 pound of crab yielded 6 AWESOME crab cakes for our dinner tonight.

Here’s where I brag about the wunderkid again: When I told her we were having crab cakes for dinner, her reaction was “really?  I love it, love it, love it, love it!”  Imagine her reaction when I told her I’d also made homemade peach ice cream for dessert?  It was rockin’ good.

Honey Dijon Chicken Tenders

By: Brady Evans

I accidentally bought chicken tenders at the grocery store.

Not accidentally as in I meant to grab the tempeh, but I grabbed the chicken tenders accidentally.  It was accidentally as in I’m grocery shopping drunk and OMGYEAHCHICKENTENDERS! and I put them in my cart.  I wasn’t grocery shopping drunk, but I was under the influence of something, because I hesitate when purchasing boneless skinless chicken breasts – so why on earth would I want the tenders?

(They were on sale.)

I was just going to roast them and chop them up to make chicken salad, feed them to the Omnivore, then pretend it didn’t happen.  But now, after making this recipe, I can’t deny it.  I bought chicken tenders.  I don’t think chickens have tenders, so they were probably just breasts cut into strips.  What can I say?  They were on sale.

The Omnivore asked me what was on the plan for dinner and I was frank with him.  I told him chicken tenders.  He sort of shrugged and moved along.  After a few bites he said, “Wow, that deli does a good job on their tenders.”  Indignant, I was.  What do you mean that deli?  I made these here tenders and I’m proud of it!

Baked Honey Dijon Chicken Tenders (adapted from The Comfort of Cooking via Pink Parsley)


  • 1 cup panko (or regular) breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbs butter, melted
  • heaping 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into vertical strips


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking rack over a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
  3. In another shallow dish, combine the butter, mustard, and honey.
  4. Working one chicken strip at a time, dip the chicken first into the mustard mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Be sure to fully coat each strip.
  5. Arrange the chicken tenders on the baking sheet, and cook 22-25 minutes until they are golden-brown and the chicken is cooked through.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Glazed Tofu, The Best of the Best

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

This week, I updated the Recipes section on my blog, Lean Green MP.  Along with a new, cleaner format, I also did some editing; gone are the recipes I made once and never made again.  What’s left is the best of the best, and today, I share with you the very best, Glazed Tofu.

Years ago, there was a great Chinese restaurant on Decker Boulevard called, The Orient. It was one of a kind. Recipes were named after local celebrities who frequented it, and whenever I went, I always saw someone I knew. I’m not a huge fan of Chinese food, but there was one dish there I loved, Cheese Tofu. Never had anything else like it. The Orient closed and took with it that wonderful Cheese Tofu, leaving me with only a memory.

Late last year, I found a recipe for Glazed Tofu in Nutrition Action Newsletter, a great source for nutrition and health information. It looked like a good quick and easy recipe — and that it is — but when I took my first bite, I squealed for joy; it tasted so much like Cheese Tofu. I made a few tweaks here and there, and while it’s not a perfect reproduction, it’s pretty darn close.

And did I mention how quick and easy it is? On Sundays, I quadruple the sauce recipe and freeze individual servings; the day I want to make it, I pull one out and let it thaw while I’m at work. When I get home, I saute a container of pre-cut tofu, add the sauce and then Minute Ready to Serve brown rice.  In literally no time, you have a fab meal for two.

You may think you don’t like tofu, but I encourage you to pull out your “adventure fork” and give this recipe a chance. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Once you try it, let me know what you think.

Before you try it, one caveat: Cheese Tofu doesn’t taste cheesy, and if you expect that, you’ll be disappointed. The name Cheese Tofu was not descriptive of the taste, but the appearance. The owner once explained that the way she cut the tofu reminded her of fried cheese.

Until tonight! The Glazed Tofu isn’t exactly the same thing, but darn close.

I found this recipe in Nutrition Action Newsletter, which I discovered through Mom. I love the newsletter, and I’m thinking about giving a subscription or two for Christmas!

Chili for Celery Haters

By: Brady Evans

Sometimes, I’ve learned, it is a good idea to keep your mouth shut.  I was sitting around a campfire with friends one recent evening while this chili was simmering on the stove.

Somehow our chatter drifted to the conversation of foods we hate.  One of my guests professed to hating celery.  Oh no.  This recipe had fully 3 stalks of celery in it.

I had a decision to make: should I confess that there was celery in that night’s dinner or not?

Dinner was served outdoors while we mingled around a campfire.  The light was dim so I’m not sure if my celery-hating dinner guest noticed the presence of the vegetable in our dinner or not.  What I did notice was the HUGE serving he ate and the many compliments to the chef he gave.  Celery or not, this chili was a hit.

Beef and Bean Chili (adapted from Jamie Deen’s chili seen on Apple a Day)


  • 1 lb. mixed ground beef and Italian sausage, browned and drained
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 c. chopped celery
  • 2 (28-oz. 830 mL) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-oz., 450 mL) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP ground cumin
  • 1/4 c. chili powder
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 (14.5-oz., 450 mL) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz., 450mL) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste


  • In a skillet brown ground beef and sausage, drain and set aside.
  • Spray large pot with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, red bell pepper, and celery. Saute briefly.
  • Stir in tomatoes. Add cumin, chili powder, oregano, and Cayenne (if desired) and cook for about 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the beans and browned meat. Partially cover, and let simmer for 4 hours.
  • Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Grocery Shopping

By:  Brady Evans

You know how you’re grocery shopping and the cashier asks “Did you find everything you were looking for?” and you say “Yes, I did” and both you and the cashier know you are lying?

Wait.  You’re trying to tell me that you always find what you’re looking for at your grocery store?  Or that you always tell the cashier that you did NOT in fact find what you were looking for.

Deny, deny, deny.  You don’t have to admit the truth.  But I will.

One day, a few years ago, I decided to stop telling the cashier that I had found what I was looking for and start telling the cashier the true answer.

“Did you find what you were looking for?”

“No.  I was looking for fennel.  You didn’t have it, though.”

“Oh.  You know who has great flannel?  Tractor Supply Company.

“Did you find what you were looking for?”

“No.  I was looking for nutritional yeast.  You didn’t have it.”

“You were looking for something to treat your yeast?”

“Did you find what you were looking for?”

“No.  I was looking for chorizo.  You didn’t have it, though.”

“God bless you.  Now what was it you were looking for?”

Well the chorizo problem is now solved.  I’ve got a recipe for a perfect (healthier) substitute for that spicy sausage that made this soup just wonderful.  The soup originally called for kale, but my grocery store didn’t have it (and I told Princess, yes Princess, all about it) and bought collard greens instead.  My husband made a request that cabbage be used next time.  We’ll see.

I whipped this dinner up amidst a slight crisis and it quickly took our worries away.  The smell of the turkey chorizo cooking made our stomachs growl.  The broth was so delicious it could be eaten by itself.  The collards were not offensive at all and sort of melted away.

Portuguese  Potato Kale Soup

4 red potatoes
4 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
2 T oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bunch of green or black (purple) Kale (about 4 cups, chopped)
1/2 pound of Chorizo sausage (recipe below)

  • Heat a saute pan to medium heat.  Cook chorizo, breaking it into small chunks, until no pink remains. Remove to drain on paper towels.
  • Peel potatoes.  Place water, broth, and potatoes in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.
  • Cook in water 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Remove whole potatoes went fork tender and mash.  Return potatoes to soup
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Wash kale – cut into strips discarding the stems.
  • Add cooked sausage and kale to soup and simmer three minutes or until greens are tender.


1 pound ground turkey
2 tsp salt
2 T ground chiles (which is NOT chili powder)
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 T dry leaf oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 T cider or wine vinegar
1 T water
1 tsp cumin

  • Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly by hand.
  • Will store up to two weeks in the fridge or months if frozen.

*meal adapted from a recipe given by a family friend

Visit for more recipes!