Today I am introducing you to Traci Antonovich, the creative force of nature behind The Kitchen Girl. Traci and I met two years ago during the IFBC conference in Seattle at a group dinner. The moment we met there was an instant connection and I have enjoyed having more chances to get to know her.
Traci is wicked smart, totally into technology, and light years ahead of me in creatively reimagining how to do this job we call blogging. I am incredibly fortunate that we met in Seattle because she positively buzzes with energy that you can’t help but absorb when you are with her. Funny and smart is a crazy good combo and Traci has it in spades. Plus she always makes me laugh and that is a blessing, especially these days.
Most recently we both attended TechMunch in San Francisco and had a great time learning from some of the best in the area. It is always fun to see my friends up on the podiums sharing their talents with the audience!
Traci focuses on easy recipes with healthier ingredients, more fruits and vegetables, and that come together quickly for easy mid-week dinners. Delicious and good for us? Oh yeah, that’s a winner! And many of her recipes are gluten-free or easily adapted, so The Kitchen Girl is a great source for those who have to avoid gluten like me. I had so much fun searching through her site to create a Mexican-influenced meal for you – and now I’m totally hungry again, LOL. I think this would be perfect for Monday Night Football evenings when the family is gathered in front of the TV.
Let’s start off our Latin meal with some Agua de Jamaica or Hibiscus Iced Tea. This is one of the most refreshing beverages I’ve ever had. It is simple to make and absolutely gorgeous. Just look at that natural red color – stunning! There is another benefit of this tea – if you like spicy foods, it is the perfect way to cool off after a few bites.
The hardest thing about this tea is finding the Jamaica (pronounced ha-MY-ka) flowers. If you have a Mexican market in your area, try there or at natural foods or health food stores. In both cases, they will be able to order them for you if you call in advance. And of course you buy them online on Amazon.
For the first course everyone will enjoy this 30-Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup. Rich and fully flavored while still light enough for a starter, this is a soup that I crave all year long. I am delighted that fall is finally here and I will have the excuse of cool weather to put this on my menus again!
Don’t skip making the tortilla strips that we use for a topping garnish. They add a delightful crunch to the soup that is addicting. You probably want to make plenty of extras because they have a way of disappearing and make a fabulous snack or use with dips.
For our main course, Traci has an outstanding vegetarian, gluten-free chili recipe. Thanks to quinoa, sweet potatoes, and black beans, it is packed with protein and nutrients, to keep us feeling fuller longer and less likely to snack after dinner! And best of all it is ready in just 60 minutes in your slow cooker!! That’s right, throw everything in the pot, cover and let it cook while you are preparing other items!
You can adjust the seasonings to suit your family’s taste for spicy flavors. As with most stews and slowly braised meals, this can be made ahead and reheated leaving you with more time to assemble the rest of the meal on busy nights. And the flavors will just get better! The key is not to overcook it initially so there is still texture after reheating.
The chili on its own will likely fill up most of your crowd, but if you have teenagers or other big eaters, a couple of sides are always welcome – and they make excellent leftovers!
Have you always wanted to learn how to make your own refried beans from scratch? Well now you can with Traci’s super easy to follow directions. Simple, and if you use canned beans, they are ready in about 15 minutes. There is no need to buy refried beans any more, just whip up your own in no time!
The second side is her fast and easy 10-Minute Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice. Cooking a large pot of rice early in the week or on the weekend gives you the base for many dishes that come together quickly. This is one example of how freshly squeezed lime and cilantro add tons of flavor to any dish. If you have people who hate cilantro, you can substitute parsley instead. It doesn’t get easier than this – or more delicious!
Many of Traci’s vegetable side dishes are made with summer vegetables that are perfect for any meal, but if summer is past its peak and you can’t get the fresh vegetables she calls for, this Brussels Sprout Slaw recipe is perfect. Even people who dislike Brussels sprouts will love this slaw thanks to the thin slicing of the cabbages, and a beautiful bright apple cider vinaigrette. Oh and then throw in some chopped apples, carrots, caramelized onions, dried cranberries, and toasted almonds and you have a salad the whole crew will devour.
And naturally I couldn’t leave you without the perfect sweet ending to your meal. Get a load of this stunning Gluten-Free Peach Blackberry Crisp! Since we are past the prime stone fruit season, you can make this with apples instead of the peaches and use cherries, strawberries, or blueberries in place of the blackberries. If you can’t find fresh berries, you can always use dried – just let them soak in boiling water for a few minutes and drain before adding to the pan.
Traci brilliantly makes this in a cast iron skillet, but you can use an 8×8-inch baking dish instead and bake it in the oven. Your little ones will love mixing up the crisp topping and helping you sprinkle it over the fruit. This is an extra healthy dessert because she uses honey and coconut sugar as the sweeteners. And with the walnuts and ground almonds, you have a beautiful nutty, crunchy topping sure to please everyone at the table.
To learn more about Traci, follow her food adventures, and discover all of her delicious recipes, make sure you visit The Kitchen Girl and subscribe so you don’t miss any posting! Keep in touch with Traci on Social Media: Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
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The suggestions here are not intended as dietary advice or as a substitute for consulting a dietician, physician, or other medical professional. It is the reader’s sole responsibility to determine which foods are appropriate and safe for their family to consume. The author makes no claims regarding the presence of food allergens and disclaims all liability in connection with the use of this site. Please see the Disclaimers page for additional details.
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