On November 23, 2014 by Kim

Meet Once a Month Meals blog partner Jessica @ From Jessica's Kitchen

Meet Once a Month Meals blog partner, Jessica of the blog From Jessica’s Kitchen. She told us her incredible story of how her family has overcome health challenges such as autism, chronic pain, and allergies by changing the way they eat.

All of her recipes are gluten free and dairy free and tasty! She has worked hard to create even baked goods that meet her health needs without sacrificing quality. One of her favorite things to freeze ahead is holiday meals and desserts. She has graciously partnered with us, so that you can have access to her recipes in Menu Builder, so show her some love!

Jessica is cooking along with us for our Virtual Cooking Weekend May 20-22. So come get to know her.

OAMM Blog Partner Jessica @ From Jessica's Kitchen

How long have you been blogging about food?

I started my blog in July 2012 with my Molten Brownie Cake, a recipe I adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. A family favorite!

Have you always loved cooking, or was it a skill that you learned to love? Who taught you to cook?

Growing up I would watch my grandmother make cookies, more out of curiosity than an interest in baking. I was intrigued by her passion and meticulousness and this pushed me to come and observe her in the kitchen.

It was not until my oldest son was born in 1993 that I began to cook. I didn’t want to feed him processed foods, so I began to collect recipes from my family with the help of my grandmother, mother, and sister-in-law. Cooking came easy in terms of knowing when to adjust or add to a recipe. Watching and observing all those years really helped.

But then all those recipes became irrelevant in 2007 when we discovered that my three younger boys (now 13, and 10 year old twins) cannot eat gluten, dairy, or soy (later we also discovered allergies to tomato and pistachio) This meant I had to start all over. I bought allergen free cookbooks and magazines to quickly learn how to create allergen-free recipes. Most recipes were terrible in texture and flavor. Lots of hard gummy baked goods and fried chicken that was a huge flop.

Instead of using recipes from gluten free books, I decided to take the scientific approach and learn about each substitution, how they respond to heat, cold, and so on, and why those substitutions are used in a recipe. This helped me understand gluten free, dairy free, and soy free food. I threw those books out and went to my old cookbooks from my favorite chefs and began to look and see where I could substitute safe ingredients.

A whole new (delicious) index of recipes was born. Just about every gluten free recipe requires xanthan or guar gum to bind it together, but most of my recipes don’t have any, which is why I think they don’t taste like your stereotypical gluten free and dairy free foods. These recipes are a labor of love through lots of trial and error. These days, creating a recipe is not difficult because I know what works and what doesn’t. I also love to adapt recipes in culinary magazines and cookbooks.

When you are meal planning or looking for new recipes, what inspires you and what guidelines do you follow?

My guidelines for meal planning or new recipe development are to use seasonal ingredients, have make-ahead components to the recipe, to be able to convert to gluten, dairy and soy free successfully (some ingredients I know won’t substitute well, like condensed milk), and putting a twist on traditional flavors in both sweet and savory recipes. Chefs like Thomas Keller or Mario Batali inspire me to think outside the box in my cooking.

Tell us the best kitchen tip or trick that you’ve ever discovered.

Read through a recipe and have all your ingredients cut and prepared before beginning to cook or bake – also known as mis en place in French.

Have you ever freezer cooked before? What are your best tips and tricks?

Being a mom of four keeps me busy, so I freezer cook lots of recipes. My favorite freezer recipes are: Meatloaf, Beef Stew, Blueberry Chia Poppy Seed Loaf, cookies, and holiday recipes.

My favorite tips are:

  • Label freezer containers before freezing. Labels and markers won’t stick to an already frozen bag.
  • Freeze leftover canned sauces or purees in the portions you usually use.
  • Divide bulk purchases (such as meat) into portions then freeze. Freeze one cup portions of nuts when buying bulk for quick additions to oatmeal, baking, or snacking.

You can find these recipes from Jessica in Menu Builder:

Gluten Free Dairy Free Pad Thai

Pad Thai (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Freezable instructions here (login required)

Vegetarian Sweet Potato Latkes

Sweet Potato Latkes (Vegetarian)

Freezable instructions here (login required)

Gluten Free Dairy Free Baked Pumpkin French Toast Baked Pumpkin Chocolate Chip French Toast (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Freezable instructions here (login required)

Use more of these great recipes From Jessica’s Kitchen to create a custom menu with your Once a Month Meals Membership:

See more of Jessica’s recipes on Pinterest and Twitter!

**Has a recipe of yours been featured in an OAMM menu? Do you have at least a dozen recipes that you would like us to consider add to our recipe database? Fill out our blog partner application today!**