Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tis the Season! Gluten-Free Christmas Cookie Recipes

We are just WEEKS away from Christmas. A lot of parties are going on, and it is always hard to find time to do the baking and the partying right? Here are a couple recipes that are simple, gluten-free and super delicious for everyone.

Check out How to Make HOT Chocolate Cookies by Chef Hannah Heinz on Snapguide.   


Merry Christmas! 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cooking for People with Allergies - Part 2

So, you're curious on how I cook yummy Italian gluten-free foods? 

Read on, and get ready to make a meal... because this is going to make you hungry. 

      When I was eating gluten-free I had one main obstacle... I missed Italian food. If you are like me, you like good pasta, cheese and marinara sauce. When you start a gluten-free diet it can be very confining, but instead of letting that box me in, I let it expand my "food vocabulary." 
     Okay, so I promised to talk all about what Italian dishes I came up with that are gluten-free, grain-free and super yummy. Did I mention that my entire family likes them? 

Missed part 1? 

See my 3 tips on substitute cooking here

Here are some of the classics to try with a new twist. 


     For gluten-free AND grain-free lasagna ...try this out: Take a large zucchini and run it through a mandolin slicer. Horizontally, you can make long slices of zucchini (or any other squash) and use that in place of noodles. You know what the good thing is? You don't have to pre-cook the "noodles." Just layer the long zucchini slices in place of the pasta and you have a great dinner coming up!

     For another variation of gluten free lasagna, you can make a "tex-mex" version. Yes, Mexican lasagna. Start with corn tortillas. This time, the tortillas will be your "noodles." Layer enchilada sauce, taco meat, cheddar cheese and tortillas till your pan is full. Top with sauce and cheese and bake until cheese is melted and the lasagna is hot all the way through. 


     Rice pasta is a great way to feed a family or a crowd. It tastes pretty much like the real thing if you cook it correctly. Whenever you cook pasta, make sure to put salt in the water as it boils. 

     A book that I highly recommend is "Pizza on the grill" by Karmel & Blumer. They show you how to make your own GF pizza crust that can go on the grill! Now there's no excuse to switch to GF now is there? 

     Last week I was chatting with a friend of mine that cooks and bakes gluten-free for her large family. I asked her what she would recommend to those just starting out with gluten-free living. She said...      "The best thing you can do when starting out cooking gluten-free is to not OVERCOMPLICATE things. Don't make a fuss trying to make GF bread, just substitute another serving of veggies instead!" 

Just because something can be hard should not 

keep you from trying and doing it. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cooking for People with Allergies - Part 1

Yes, YOU can cook for them!

These days, people are more selective in what they can and cannot eat. Many people I come across cannot have gluten, sugar, nuts or other have other common food allergies.

Substitute cooking always throws recipes off a bit, but if you take a little time to find some good substitutes, your friends will be very thankful! 

Before preparing food for people with allergies, 
ask what they cannot have and stay away from those things. 

Make sure when you are cooking food that they will be eating, that you do not cross contaminate dishes with food that they are allergic to. If you dip a wheat cracker in hummus the dip is now contaminated with traces of gluten. This can cause a reaction, so always beware!

Three tips for cooking with substitutes

1. Don't make it complicated

Do you have to make a baked good? Go with dishes and desserts that naturally don't have gluten in them. Like ice cream, greek yogurt parfaits with berries for the sugar free.

2. Use substitute ingredients similar to the original ingredient called for

If you are using a traditional recipe, your cookies might call for granulated sugar. This is not only important for the sweetener for the cookie, but also for the creaming process with the butter that will give the cookie the air it needs to rise. Do not use a liquid sweetener in place of a granulated. Use a granulated ingredient in place so that you will still have that basic process still in place. Make sense? In place of sugar, I use xylitol. It is a natural sweetener that is zero on the glycemic index. You can use the same amount in place of sugar, or a little less since it is quite sweet.

3. Plan Meals around low gluten foods

Corn chips, guacamole, meat tacos (with corn tortillas) and a small taco salad and you are set! No gluten in that meal at all! How easy is that? Pick a protein, vegetable and a dessert that has no gluten and you will have one outstanding healthy meal that everyone can enjoy.

     When I was eating gluten-free I had one problem... I missed Italian food.
If you are like me, you like good pasta, cheese and marinara sauce. What about pizza? You can hardly live without good pizza. When you start a gluten-free diet it can be very confining, but instead of letting that box me in, I let it expand my "food vocabulary."
My next blog post will talk all about what Italian dishes I came up with that are gluten-free, grain-free and super yummy. My whole family likes them. 

People with food sensitivities are willing to try a lot. They are brave. 

We should all be willing to at least try something new once. 

Here is a handy list of gluten-free flours I use:

Rice (great for thickening sauces)
Oat (great for muffins)
Tapioca (used with other flours to lighten some heavy baked goods)
*Garbanzo bean (great for pizza dough)
*Almond (great for scones and crusts)
*Black Beans (cooked, they can put a lot of substance in a dish)
There are many more...  

---> visit your local health foods store for a large selection of gluten-free flours

* =  flours that are also grain-free which some people prefer.
Note: Many of the flours you can make your own by blending whole dry products in your blender (like a vita-mix) and then sifting it through a fine colander.

Yep, I make a sugar free, grain free, gluten free brownie. 

      Wait a minute!! How can you make something with that much stuff NOT in it??!! Well, you would never know. 

I served these brownies at an event once and the 75 people that ate them, never would have know that they are gluten free, grain free and sugar free. They just knew they were really good brownies! Check out the Cook Your Way to Health book here for my recipe. 

Read part 2 of Gluten-free cooking here... 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bold Barbacoa Tacos

First things first...

Growing up on a farm has its pros and cons. One thing I always get stuck on is the though shoulder meat of the cows we process. It is always more tough if the cow is older... not fun to cook or eat! Well, after taking a sous-vide course, I had the knowledge to transform this tough cut.

Here is what I did to take tough shoulder
 stew meat and make it into my favorite way to eat tacos.


1 lb. Shoulder Meat, trimmed
1/2 oz. Ancho Chile Powder
1.5 oz. Ancho Chiles in adobo Sauce (add more for more spice!) This stuff is amazing
Season with salt and pepper

Now what do I do?

1. Mix all the spicy ingredients together
2. Put in a vacuum sealed bag (being careful not to suck out the juices
3. Cook Sous-Vide at 179F for 6 hours
4. After your tough meat has become incredibly tender, pull it out to the bag, shred or cut into bitesized pieces
Serve simply on steamed corn tortillas with a bit of cilantro, red onion and a squeeze of lime juice. You can also add sliced avocado to your taco. The simplicity of these ingredients makes for quite a powerful punch.

Cooking this shoulder roast sous-vide transformed it into incredibly juicy, smoky hot meat perfect for these tacos. I was honestly very surprised how well the tough meat broke down throughout the cooking process  

At first, I thought the tacos might be a bit dry, not having and type of salsa on them... BUT the meat was so juicy and pull apart tender, that it did not leave my mouth dry. Only full of flavor from the lime, cilantro and robustly blood flavored meat. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

15 Minute Granola ---> No more crazy mornings!

     More often than not, I find myself scrambling in the morning wondering what in the world to have for breakfast. Recently, I tackled the pantry to figure out what I could make ahead to have for those busy mornings. I decided to make this super easy granola. The outcome has been some amazing breakfasts with more time to relax and enjoy the meal instead of worrying about what I was going to throw together. 

You can easily double (or triple!) this recipe to make more and store for ahead. 

How to make 15 minute granola in a few steps:

How to Cook 15 Minute Granola by Chef Hannah Heinz on Snapguide.


1 Cup Oats

¼ Cups Raisins

½ Teaspoon Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon Coffee Spice (it makes it taste like coffee!!)

¼ Cups Maple Syrup

1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds (optional)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hit that curve ball!

So what is a curve ball?
      As Wikipedia puts it, the phrase “to throw a curve ball” is essentially translated to: introducing a significant deviation to a preceding concept. In a way it is dealing with the unexpected before you. Make the most out of it!
      Dealing with the unexpected is a never quite predictable. However, the results will be worth your time and effort. If the meal does not turn out perfect or as you expected, then you know what did not work in that particular instance. Each time you learn something from a curve ball, you are that much closer to hitting a home run.

How to prepare for the next curve ball:

1. Build up your staples
       If you do much cooking at all, it is essential to build up a pantry of simple ingredients you can fall back on without having to make that  last minute trip to the grocery store. 

"Use long-keeping ingredients as opportunity" 
-Sally Schneider

2. Learn to cook with less dishes and tools
Clean up as you go. Sometimes the curve balls come after the meal. The meal went perfect and dinner was amazing! Wait... now, you have the task of cleaning every single dish that you own. No cook wants to spend  hours cleaning up after they worked all afternoon cooking.
Shortly after I learned a more detailed way of prepping my cooking schedule (more on that coming up soon), I made a meal and when it was served, there was not a dirty dish in the sink. It was wonderful. Let me tell you, I really enjoyed that meal!

I was inspired to attempt cooking that way after I read this:

“My grandmother never left a dish on the stove or pot in the sink, always cleaning as she went, and it was often my job to fry and put away the dishes once they were washed.”
-from “Scars of a Chef” by Rick Tramonto.

The curve ball I hit this week
On a whim, I decided to cook a nice dinner for my family. Not to ambitious of a plan except, in an hour, I wanted to have a nice dinner on the table. With not much time to plan, I set to work with what we had. The main obstacle was that we did not currently have much in the way of grains, meat or veggies. There was not time to thaw any meat; dinner was after all in thirty minutes! I had to rely on what staples we had without getting crazy notions of what I would get at the store if I had time. I had to embrace the challenge, and do my best.

Thankfully, in our pantry we usually have a good supply of dried pasta and canned goods leftover from our summer garden the year before. So, here is what I did: While I waited for the pasta to cook, I made some aromatic tomato sauce with some fresh herbs and dried spices. I then slightly toasted some day old bread and spread on a bit of compound herb butter.

Your next meal, I challenge you to use what is around you. That might sound boring because then you will end up eating the “same old same old…” but do something different. Use your pantry with a new perspective.

For further reading, read “The Improvisational Cook” by Sally Schneider

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bark-A-Liscious, your dogs have been waiting for this

Bark-A-Licious, created by Judy Foster, is an all-natural, homemade dog biscuit business located in Rochester, New York. Judy’s unconditional love for animals inspired her to start Bark-A-Licious, in hopes to make the pups who enjoy her treats that much more healthy. Judy graduated from Escoffier Online International Culinary Academy from the Culinary Arts Program in February 2015. Escoffier was part of her journey.  Judy wanted to make sure she was formally trained in culinary methods and cooking before starting the business.  Her experience in the kitchen and love for cooking is what sparked this new, local business. Judy is also certified in food safety by ServSafe. This was also an important part of her cooking journey.

Judy is currently taking the Healthy Baking program classes through Escoffier to learn more about different healthy food options and to incorporate into her biscuit choices.  The future holds a potential gluten-free biscuit option.

Want a treat?
Now there are 6 different options of biscuits dog owners can choose from Bark-A-Licious.  When putting the list together Judy thought about what dogs would like for a more standard biscuit but also “dessert” type biscuits. The more standard biscuits contain a combination of homemade chicken stock, oats, and whole wheat flour. The dessert types contain any of these items from honey, peanut butter, to bananas. Judy learned to make the chicken stock through her training with Escoffier.

Bark-A-Licious biscuits are enjoyed not only by dogs, but ferrets, and even humans! Her treats are healthy, all-natural, preservative free, and of course, tasty!

Consider ordering Bark-A-Licious biscuits.  They are becoming more and more a household treat for many dogs.

Order treats for your furry friends at:

Follow on Facebook:

Healthy never tasted better

Friday, April 17, 2015

Think outside the box?

      Look around you. Most likely you are sitting in a room that resembles some type of square or rectangle. A box. My first time in an airplane, I could not get over the fact that almost everything that I saw sliding by beneath me was all in perfect little grids. Roads, buildings, fields, barns, everything man-made was in squares and little boxes. Our lives are sectioned out and organized all around us. So, a shape and concept that surrounds us SO frequently becomes the way we think. In boxes and controlled environments. 

      When your brain is told to: "Think OUTSIDE the box," what is your reaction? Yikes! Something UNFAMILIAR (scary I know!). We have to abandon what we are used to and think beyond things we can see and touch in front of us. God has given our brain an amazing memory and creative capabilities. 

       If I ask you, "what is your favorite thing to do when it is raining?" Your mind probably goes a million different places, thinking of memories and ideas that we associate with rain. For me, when it's raining, I enjoy going out and standing in the rain. It is relaxing and very peaceful (as long as there is no lighting)! My point being, our minds are amazing and they frequently have to retrieve information to live life. What if we have a task before us like cooking, that has a creative side to it? Our brains get to come up with new, innovative, previously unknown ideas! Fun right? Hopefully it is to you. 

I like to distinguish cooking into two different areas: Logical and Creative. 

url.jpgThere is the logical side of things which require measuring, weighing, portioning, technique and precise control. I think bakers are often more logically minded. Very Mathematical. 

      Then there is the creative side of things. Color, contrasting flavor, experimenting with the unknown, improvising, creating. 

      Both are needed and used in cooking. Most people tend to be either a "logical cook" or "creative cook." Have you been called "a dumper" before? Then you just might be the creative type. The person that follows the recipe as law would be the logical cook

Join the fun. Share your creation @HannahsFood  #creativecook or #logicalcook ? 

I am a #creativecook at heart 
      Before I went to culinary school, I was a "dumper." What I cooked was either great, or a flop. Learning proper cooking techniques and teaching myself to follow very specific recipes helped me become a more accomplished creative cook by leaps and bounds. Why? Because you have to strengthen your weak areas so that you can have a more balanced approach. 


      I am now studying food science and every little nitty gritty baking concept because now I love the "why" behind baking soda vs. baking powder. That's another topic for another time though.  

A well balanced chef is both creative and logical, trying brand new things meshed with proper technique.

      Don't be scared when you are encouraged to "think outside the box." Like any skill, it takes practice. Think fresh, without limits. Let your brain take time to imagine and think OUTside the box without defined boarders. Write your ideas in your flavor journal and try them out.  

Creativity + logic = ?

      Cooking is not the only area in life where the logic and creative approach comes together. Being a musician, I am often boxed into measures, phrases and rhythm. However, within the constraints, it is up to me to bring an experience to the listener by interpreting all the dots on the page in a meaningful way. 

Let's try it! Practice makes perfect...
      If you had blueberries, eggs, avocado and vinegar what dish would you make highlighting each of those ingredients? Here is what I came up with: 
Dessert Crepe filled with Aged Blueberry Balsamic Compote and Avocado Mousse on the side. 

Join the fun. Share your creation @HannahsFood  #creativecook or #logicalcook ? 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Design (an excerpt from my flavor journal)

Everything has a design. This world is not by chance but by awesome design. God made it a part of us to want to design and create to further the parts of this world. There is nothing else quite like creating something.

I once watched a lecture series done by Harvard on the science of food and cooking. It is an amazing series by the way and worth watching if your a science guru. One of the guest speakers Chef Ferran Adria said something along the lines of...

        "If I asked each of you to create a dish right now, it would be very hard to come up with a new concept and make it happen. However, if I asked each of you to take the concept of the omelet and come up with a variation on the dish, you could each easily do so." 

His point was, to start from a blank canvas is challenging. Varying something already existing is maybe not simple but definitely more doable.

Well, for any of you who do not know who Ferran Adria is, he has come up with some of the most miraculous dishes that are now used in restaurants all over the world. One of my favorites is the process of "spherification." Creating a sphere out of a liquid... see video below:

Creativity is my thing. Once as I understand the technique behind my idea and know how to implement it... look out! Every part of life gives me ideas for dishes. Not just something in the pantry or something I have eaten before. Here is a list of things that consistently give me ideas to write in my flavor journal. Don't have one? Read about mine here.

Idea provoking objects:
a particular shape
design (modern, rustic, classic, etc)
a certain place or location

Let's stop right there. Sound. Being an improvisatory musician I am always wondering, how would the color of bright orange sound? How does spring air and freshness sound? How can I compose in a way that brings on tone that expresses those things. Now, what if my compositions were expressed through food? Wow. How would the sound of Mozart "taste?" What about the sound of a hollow forrest in winter?

Things to ponder for sure. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

cookBOOK Worm.

Naturally, I am not a book worm ...unless I find a really good book on a really good topic. Lately I have found some good books and I have enjoyed reading them (over and over and over).

Every page, the golden sentences jump out at me and tie together everything I have been attempting in the kitchen. Here are just a couple quotes from books that I have been reading this week. I believe they will be of use to you as they have been to me.

"Success is a poor teacher. Baking is a craft mastered only through years of trial and error. It is important to remember to let yourself try and fail - it's only flour, water and time." 
-Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glezer

"Every important lesson in baking has come learning from my mistakes. If you know how it can go wrong then you're well on your way to mastery." 
-Bake Like You Mean it by Gesine Bullock - Prado

When you sit down to read a cookbook, grab your flavor journal. Don't have one? Make one! Mine is a small padded black notebook with white stiching on it giving it a very cushy comfortable cover. I have no doubt that it will be filled up soon and be "volume one" in a long line of flavor journals.

Now that you have your flavor journal, take time to think about the flavors listed on the page before you. Envisioning what it would look like on a plate. What it would taste like in your mouth? If a thought comes to your mind about how you can alter, improve or experiment upon the recipe before you, write it down (always log what cookbook you were reading and what page for easy reference)! That is a cherished idea and you don't want to forget it. Every idea is worth something. It may not be a stunning dish, but it could lead to a unexpected flavor revolution.

Whenever possible, I make time to experiment and try out the ideas I have written down. Then I write down how it turned out, what I would do differently or not. Before you know it, you will have a great book full of ideas that are just your style, and that is what makes you unique. It is important to be able to replicate traditional dishes or a certain style... but in the end, people want to see your style. Be creative and be you. 

What are your favorite cookbook or culinary topic books? Comment below and let me know! ...I might just read another one (or two...)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Beware, no recipe included, only creativity

Chips & Dip. A common snack and a great way to start off a summer BBQ or just about any relaxed meal with family and friends.

Traditional dips include sour cream and onion, ranch dip, hummus, salsa, yogurt fruit dip, guacamole, cheese fondue, bean dip and many more. But what if you want to venture out... create something new... make something different? Well, you can. The idea of making something without a recipe may be frightening to some, exciting to others, or just plain incomprehensible. Until you have established a few simple flavor pairing rules, you could be getting yourself into a doozy!

Think about what a particular dip is like. What texture(s) does it include? What is it eaten with? Is it cold or hot? What is the main ingredient?

I am not here to give you a recipe with step 1-2-3 of how to make a great bean dip. I want YOU to venture out and explore. There is a whole world to discover.... one that is not in cookbooks. It is in your head. You just have to cultivate it and try things out. To me, there is no such thing as a failed failure because each failure gets us closer to success. If I quit cooking when I had my first failure, I would be in the kitchen with that pot of black beans that exploded. (for that story, read my book "Balance for Busy Moms"). What turned out to be my biggest failure to this day, led me to a great success.

Sometimes our biggest failures can turn into our successes like these Black Bean Brownies

Okay, so back to the dip creating now. The key is to separate your options into three categories.

What is the base going to be? Think about what texture you want it to have. Should it be creamy, sticky, thick?

Here is a list of some bases that I use:
Cream Cheese
Sour Cream
Greek Yogurt
Peanut Butter
Salad Dressing
...add a few. What else is similar to the ingredients above?

Main Ingredient
This gives your dip that awesome flavor. What is your dip supposed to highlight? Make this ingredient the most important.

Here is a list of some main ingredients:
Red Pepper
Graham Crackers (dips don't have to be savory... go with something sweet!)
...only to name a few!

This is where the fun comes in! The spotlight is the secret ingredient. Flavor that adds to something in order to make the main ingredient pop!

Here is a list of some:
Salt & Pepper
Chile Powder
Onion Powder
Chocolate Chips (they are good with everything right?)
...keep going, use your imagination.

As Chef Jacob is always saying on the Stella Culinary Podcast... 

"Technique is king." and for creating anything, it really is if you want to succeed. With proper technique, you can leave behind recipes (scary I know!) and come up with what you really want. 

"Creativity is to not copy" -Ferran Adria

Have fun! Send me an email to share what you latest dip creation is. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Aqua, H2O, Water.

Water. It covers seventy-one percent of the earth. Our food is grown by it. Animals cannot survive without it. Many things are powered by it. We become so used to it and do not realize how much our lives revolve around water.
Water is relaxing and frightening. People spend countless vacations doing nothing but going to lakes, rivers and the ocean.  However, in an instant, a storm can rise and cause people of differing background and types to work together in saving lives from the dangerous waves and currents that so easily surround them.

A Chef cannot cook without it. Although plain water may not be used in the recipe, the food that is used, the meat that is cooked, the ingredients being mixed, could not exist unless water had been there. For the plant, for the cow, whatever it might be. Our lives cannot exist without water. In fact, a person can only live a few days without water.

Why is it so important? Our bodies are made up of sixty percent water. It is essential to life. Every day people draw water from wells to sustain themselves. Some dipping buckets in wells, others by turning on the faucet. However, in drought or in dire circumstances, the well can go dry. It is then that we realize how much we need this essential ingredient to life. Are you thirsty yet?

In John four, we read about when Jesus went to Jacob’s well. He was weary from traveling. When we are weary, hot and tired, there is often only one thing on our mind. Getting water. This particular day, God had a unique plan that would satisfy several kinds of thirst. Along came the Samaritan women and He asked for a drink. Water that she had to draw out everyday for nourishment. She most likely came to the well for water daily. Jesus in His sovereignty knew that she needed more than the water that pooled in front of them. He offered her something she had never seen before, something that she could not live without. Living water that would give her eternal, everlasting life.

Every day the Christian draws from the well of living water to sustain and keep them. Just as we daily depend on water on earth, so me must daily depend and drink the living water that Christ has given to us. We cannot live without Christ, our living water, our life and our sustenance. He is a part of everything in life! Christ offers more than just water for us physically, He provides living water. The woman came to the well that day to get something. She returned with more than she was planning on getting. She excitedly shared what she had gotten. This day was different than the others because she had experienced water that would not leave her thirsty. Now, no matter what, the living water in her life would never grow dry. Praise the Lord that we will never thirst again!